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Friday, April 11, 2014

Emergency Derailleur Hanger

I have been carrying a Wheel Mfg Emergency Derailleur Hanger for some time now.  It is something you never want to need, but you sure are happy you have one when you need it.  I was only 10 miles in, but did not want to walk or make the bike a single speed.  The EDH saved the day and it worked well enough to get in 25 more miles.  I got all my gears almost all the time.

 This is not a happy Derailleur Hanger. But it gave it's life to save my frame and derailleur.

No more nobler end for a Hanger!

Here is the EDH after the install.

The EDH does have a tendency to rotate forward.  I only really slowed down some upshifts as derailleur was close enough to the chain to impede it from coming up of it's cog high enough to derail.  Downshifts worked because cable tension force and not a spring make the derailleur shift, down and up respectively.

Problem Solvers makes one that looks a little bit easier to install and addresses the rotation problem.

Either one is then next best thing to carrying the specific hanger for your bike, maybe better if your buddy breaks his and does not have a spare for his bike.  There are so many different hangers for different bikes, an EDH makes sense.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Walnut Creek Austin Texas

We went to Austin to visit friends, enjoy the warm dry Texas spring time weather.  Steve showed me around Walnut Creek.  A nice park in a suburb just north of Austin.  The main loop is well marked, but there are quite a few trails that are not.  Most of the maps at intersections are of the vague variety, we did find one detailed map, with a "You Are Here" star.  It has been a while since Steve has had time to Trail ride, between family and work.  But we did find his favorite section of his favorite trail, the Log Loop, which is also well marked.  It was very swoopy and begged to be railed.  No berms here just natural trails with roots, rocks and trees to negotiate.  Then a fireroad connector to the other single track part of the Log Loop, which had some bigger roots, change ups and a alternate log ramp.  We did each a few times, alternating, depending on the traffic.  We went on a Saturday and there were a lot of hikers and bikers out, not as much as you would think for the first really nice weekend in some time.  It does get chilly down here and it can feel pretty cold to the locals that are used to the Texas summer heat!

On the way back to the cars, you just follow the "P" for parking on the trail markers, we only made one wrong turn trying to follow them.  And am I glad we did, cause we came across Endo Alley.  Steve thought better of of dropping in.  It was right up my alley, pun intended.  This was a very short but intense black diamond DH, with a nut buster climb back up.  When Steve did not show up at the top, I did it again, before realizing that there was another trail that avoided the climb and let out onto the power lines.  We went the wrong way into some berms before deciding to find those "P"s.

Some very nice scenery and cool trails, nestled in a metropolitan area.  Steve has since picked up the fatbike that he has been wanting.  I would like to think that I inspired him to rekindle his love of Trail riding.
Plenty of these generic signs

I am not too happy with the quality that MS Movie maker published after the edit, maybe too many splices.  Looks OK on my Iphone.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Barton Creek Austin, Texas

With a 34/15, I was geared great for much the river valley trails and made most of one of the big offshoot climbs, before the first underpass.  The Hill of Life, was another story altogether, I be back with gears, cause one gear that makes that climb, maybe doable, would be painfully slow on some of the trails along the creek.  There are lots of rock gardens and features to work your technical skills, a few would have benefited from a lower gear too!  There are two entries on Single Tracks that kind of overlap, Barton Creek Greenbelt and Barton Creek Wilderness.  From the topo maps they  look like slightly different versions of the same trails.  Distance and descriptions vary quite a bit though.  My best take on that is that the Greenbelt encompasses the main trail along the creek and the Hill of Life and the Wilderness trails are the unmarked trails across the creek from the main trail head in Zilker park.  A nice warm up would be to go east toward the river/lake, cross the first bridge and head west up to the road, around the construction and access the unmarked trails, just up the road a bit.  Take them to the karin and go right across the creek, back to the main side.  It looked like the trail may continue on the unmarked side, but I was uncomfortable riding through what looked like someones property, no signs, just a patio and a landscaped walkway.  Even on the main side there are many offshoots, some come back to the trail, some dead end and others go back down into the creek.  Some reviews on both entries mention the Hill of Life, but I do not think that you could get there in the 4 miles listed for the Wilderness, but the topo map includes it, but seems to miss the unmarked trails across the creek from the TH.

This is the first time since I started running the Knard/Blunt 35, that I got to descend big rocks and drops, maybe since Pisgah even!  Now while I was not descending like a I was on a downhill rig, I felt in more control and I did not feel like I was going to be bounce of the bike, like at Farlow Gap!  While not quite as intense and gnarly as Farlow, descending the Hill of Life and other sections of Barton were a good test.

I love the technical aspect of these trail and the first real climbing in quite a while.  They can get pretty busy at peak times, so plan accordingly.  Zilker park has a lot of other activities, such as canoe and kayak rentals, swimming holes, playground a kids train and a garden.  Zilker also gets you access to the Town Lake bike path, which was even busier, due to its tame wide and flat crushed stone surface.

Ironically, at first these trails reminded me of other river valley riding that I did way back when in the Minnesota and Mississippi river valleys in Minnesota.  Just throw in lots of rock gardens from my more recent home town trails in northern New Jersey and a couple big climbs.  It was "ironic" cause part way along as I was about to take another dead end, a rider comes by and I tag along.  His name was Tim and he also was borne and raised in Minnesota.  He left when for texas when he was 21.  Small world for sure.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bruce and Lois

Bruce, messaged Tammy and asked for some medium rides, for a trip they are planning later in the year.  Years ago back in Jersey, Bruce and Lois helped me through a tough period in my life and helped keep me riding after I got slow and fat and depressed.  I don't know if they know how much it helped.  I have had many friends that seem to come into and out of my life.  I like to think of it as our paths coming together for a while, before they diverge.  Even when I met, Bruce and Lois had been riding for many decades and liked somewhat technical riding and would not interested in Strava KOMs or accumulated feet of climbing.  Just having a good ride.  There have been times that they had to put the Mountain Bikes away for various reasons.  It is good to see them even planning such a trip, leaving sunny California.

I would recommend the following Epics:

Kansas Switchgrass
Kerr Scott, North Carolina
Dupont State Park, North Carolina
Ocoee Trail, Tennessee
Big South Fork, Tennessee
Rock Lake, Cable, Wisconsin
Levis-Trow Mounds Wisconsin
Cuyuna Lakes, Minnesota
Alafia River State Park, Florida
Santos, Florida
MOCO Epic, Maryland
Maah Daah Hey, North Dakota
But only well after a rain and when it is not scorching hot, kind of a small window in the end  July, early August I guess.
Copper Harbor, Michigan
This does have some tough climbs, but they are not too long.  But it may be my favorite trail system yet.

For rides not on the IBMA list:
San Felasco Hammock Preserve, Gainesville
Bethel Biloxi Mississippi
Games Loop/UWF Pensacola Florida
Balm Boyette Florida
Lake Leatherwood Eureka Arkansas
Redbug Lake Overstreet Tallahassee, Florida
Tom Brown Tallahassee Florida 
San-Lee Sanford North Carolina
Tannehill Forge Alabama

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Dupont IMBA Epic

Dupont has a trail to tickle almost any riders fancy. Slick rock climbs, like the armored Jim Branch climb, where your tires stick like glue even when wet. In fact the trails hold up nicely even after a rain.  More slickrock, long and steep, going up and down Big Rock, it is a nice challenge.  For a more moderate climb, Laurel offers some nice singletrack, with some nice flow and a few corners that make you work to keep the knobbys planted.  Mine Mountain moves the needle back to steeper side a bit, more rugged and faster change ups.  Mine Mountain is fun in both directions.  Pine pitch and Three Lakes combine to takes down the oxygen debt from climbing, quite a bit, but leaves plenty roots and change ups work your tech skills and become more challenging the faster faster you go.  And I would be remiss not to mention the Airstrip DH, as anybody that I have talked to, that has traveled to Dupont, ask me how I liked the Airstrip trail.  Airstrip is one of the shorter trails at Dupont, but it loses a fair amount of elevation though, with some tough roots, rocks and sharp hairpins and a couple jumps, for those so inclined.  You pay for that fun with a good fire road climb, but you can repeat it a few times pretty easily, if you like.
Going to Church, Greg Heil's article on Singletracks.com

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Surly Knard on a Velocity Blunt 35 First Look

Back on February 20th, I built up a Velocity Blunt 35 29er rim, to mount up a Surly Knard 29x3 inch tire, 29 plus to all the cool kids.  Both my bikes are suspension free and riding in Pisgah, particularly Farlow Gap, got me thinking, as I walked way too much of it.  I was calling it semi-fat, but 29+ is more succinct.

Here is the freshly built front wheel

I will only be running it on the front.  Like suspension, it is most important on the front and it would not fit in either of my bikes in the rear.  I was sure it would fit in the Bontrager Switch blade and pretty sure it would fit in the Blacksheep fork(turns out that,except for Maah Daah Hey quality mud, there is more than adequate room).  

Here is the Knard/Blunt compared to a 2.2 Ikon/Stans Arch

On the Blunt 35, the Knard casing measures out to 71.6 mm or 2.8 inches and 75.6 mm, nearly 3 inches.  I expected less, considering it is mounted on a rim 15 mm narrower than Surly's intended rim the Rabbit Hole.  Luckily it still fit in the BlackSheep fork.  You have to angle the big old tire past the brake caliper on both forks.

Stay tuned for my trail experiences with the Knard and the Blunt 35, sounds like a superhero team from Jay and silent Bob.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Lake Houston Park Kwik Stats

With like 18 miles of total trails and a big loop of 14 listed on Singletracks, I figured I could do a couple loops, with some exploring on the first one and get 30 plus.  Well I managed 35 miles, but the loop was kind of impeded by a big boggy area.  So went to that point in both directions, plus some exploring.  The Ameritrail, was pretty fun, I liked it best on the way back.  The rest was either dual track, with sporadic mud holes or Forest Service roads.  Some of the Dual track was almost like single track, kinda.  Numerous places had a slightly greasy layer, that put me down once and made for lot's of two wheel drifting around corners, which made up a little for the lack of tech and twists.  Got some practice with the Knard in the mud.  The 34/15 was a decent gear, except in the mud bog.
There is a lot of potential here.  But some serious work would need to be done.

At least the green slimy mud did not stink!

 I did not see any Though

 Big Mud Bog at 4.5 miles along the Ameri-trail

If this is the rainy season in Texas, They got there average of 3 inches in February and 2.48 of 3.84 inches so far for march.  Something must be jamming up some drainage.

 Follow the Blue Posts

Ameri-trail mostly follows along Caney Creek, Mostly.

 Before Too Much Mud bathing

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