Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tour de Blast

Mission Accomplished...I set out to ride to Elk Rock and back on the Tour de Blast...a total of 55 miles with a climb from Toutle (500ft) to Elk Rock (3800ft) and back. Along the way there are some rollers so the total climbing was about 4000ft. It was cold and we got rained on right at the end. Made it up to Elk Rock and was soaked from sweat yet it was 46 degrees. For the 8 mile descent with speeds averaging 35mph I stuffed large Fed Ex Tyvek envelope down the front of my jersey. My hands, toes, and head were cold on the first few miles of descent...but my torso stayed warm. Of course it warmed up on the descent.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bicycle Repair

Its summer and the only bike shop in the Longview/Kelso/Rainier area is getting busy. I am once again providing bicycle service for very reasonable prices. I am a former bicycle mechanic that worked in the industry for 8 years, including several years for Gregg's Cycles in Seattle. I was an assistant service manager and warranty manager for their Aurora store. I have a large assortment of bicycle tools that allows me to do most repairs.

Because I have very little overhead, I can provide service at very low prices. I charge $20 an hour and have some set rates which include:
-Minor Tune (1.5 hours) $30
includes adjusting drivetrain adjustment and lubrication, brake adjustment, headset adjustment, bottom bracket adjustment, hub adjustment, and wheel true
-Major Tune (2.5 hours) $50
includes everything above plus repacking and lubing hubs, headset, and bottom bracket with a waterproof marine grease (perfect for winter riding)
-Wheel True/Spoke Replacement (.5 hour) $10 per wheel
-Shimano or similar hub overhaul (.5 hour) $10 per hub
-Road Bike bar wrap (.25 hour) $5

Addition service can be provided including minor fork and shock servicing at hourly rate.

Parts are extra and can either purchased from Bob's Sporting Goods or be ordered from Universal Cycles in Portland. I will provide the part descriptions and numbers for you to order. I can order parts for you but require cash up front.

Please contact Aaron at for an appointment.

Personal 29er Tire Review

OK, I have had a 29er for about a year now and have had the opportunity to ride three different tires on my local trails. My local trails are mostly silty loam with roots and very little rockiness. All three were run Ghetto Tubeless so my review includes how well they work with this setup.

Kenda Nevegal DTC 29"x2.2"
Let me start off by saying that this tire is HUGE! It actually measures out to a 2.35" width. The tire is also quite heavy at near 900 grams each (wire bead, the Kevlar bead will save you about 50 grams a tire). These tires mounted up and seal very well with the Ghetto Tubeless setup. Once sealed, there was no weeping and they held air quite nice. I ran them at 28 psi on most of my rides. This tire had more traction than you'll ever need...and then they have more. I rode these in mud, snow, ice, leaves, etc. and they held on tight. They were very slow to get up to speed, but descending they would roll over anything and everything. However, while loads of traction is awesome...these tires are simply too heavy and have too much rolling resistance. If Kenda were to make a low tread (like WTB's Weirwolf LT) version that dropped to the 700 gram range, it would be an awesome tire. Tread life was fantastic on my trails (which are very easy on tires) and I ended up trading them for some lightly used Stans NoTubes Raven tires.

IRC Mythos II 29"x2.1" Front
I found these cheap online, and I ended up using the front both front and rear. These tires are closer to a 2.0" width and I got the wire bead version as IRC is known to have weak folding bead tires and I wanted to run these tubeless. First thing, DO NOT exceed 40 psi with these tires...when mounting I blew one off the rim at just past 40 psi. While the tires mounted up OK, they continued to weep during the 3 months I rode them. They held air well, but the weeping was always a little concerning. In mixed conditions of wet, damp, and dry these tires hooked up quite well. The tire worked fine in the rear (I ran it the same direction as the front) and these tires rolled noticeably faster than the Nevegals. The wire bead versions weighed about 750 grams each and I ran them at 30psi. These are the tires I rode the MacKenzie River Trail on and they worked great. With the exception of the weeping issue, these are a great tire and exceed the performance of the 26" version (which I used to ride in the late 90's to early 00's)

Stans NoTubes Raven 29"x2.2"
The first impression of these tires are they are super light and where is the tread? Well, as light as they are, the casing is not paper thin as I assumed they would be. Its a light casing, but not paper thin. These tires mounted up super easy and sealed up almost immediately. There was no evidence of sidewall weeping and I ran them at 27psi. While they are a tad narrower than 2.2", they have a lot of volume. Installing these tires dropped 1.5lbs from my bike!!! Hitting the trails, the first thing noticed is the lightness of these tires. They feel so light and plush. But here is the big surprise, these tires stuck to the dry trails like glue! No kidding, these tires provided more than significant traction, even when standing. They cornered fantastic as well. I don't know how well these would do in the mud or snow, but for dry trails they are fantastic. I wouldn't recommend these for rocky trails as the low tread height leaves the casing vulnerable. But for hard pack or loamy trails with roots, they are awesome.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bicycle upgrades

Well the Access 29er has been given some upgrades that have put it on quite a diet. I got a Nashbar Slide saddle which is the same Velo saddle as the Sette Sonic saddle I love. I put the Sonic (which Sette doesn't sell anymore) on the Landshark and put the black and red Glide on the 29er. I also got a new 34 tooth Race Face chainring. I have been using a 34 tooth Salsa chainring which is not ramped or pinned. It was not very smooth as you can imagine and I had trouble downshifting to my small ring. The Race Face ring will shift much smoother. I picked up some ESI Chunky grips as well, still have hand issues (I've had hand issues on bikes for YEARS). The Ergon grips were an improvement but I've heard great things about these silicon grips so I'm giving them a try. After swapping grips and chainrings, I found my bike was 28lbs 8oz (down from 28lbs 9oz)...not much of a drop. But then I traded my Kenda Nevegal tires which IMO were overkill on a 29er for a set of Stans Raven 2.2" tires. These are very low knob tubeless ready tires. Given the low pressure and greater contact patch a tubeless 29er tire can give...I believe they will be awesome for the dry trails through next fall. I mounted them up with my Ghetto Tubeless setup (using the same "rim strips") and they aired up right away. Put in 3oz of my homebrew sealant and away we go. Bike weight is now 27lbs even...I dropped 1.5lbs of rotating weight!!! Cant wait to ride them this weekend.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Getting Ready for the Tour de Blast

In less than a couple weeks, I will be riding the Tour de Blast. My ambitions are a little smaller this year. Last year I rode all the way up to Johnston Ridge, only to falter on the way back on the climb between Cold Water Lake and Elk Rock. I made it 56 miles, but it was a hot and muggy day and I made a poor saddle decision on was causing me lots of pain. This year my ambition is to Elk Rock and back...62 miles round trip but less climbing and more descending. After a very successful McKenzie River Trail ride (25 miles of singletrack), I have gotten in a 18 mile mountain bike ride and a 41 mile road ride. I'm feeling pretty good except a sore spot on my inner leg...not sure what it is but it feels like a gland that swells up after a ride then goes down after a few days. It happened on the McKenzie River trip too and the only connection is I was wearing the same shorts. I have several pairs so I might switch it up this weekend and see if it makes any difference. I am hoping for a clear day as the scenery on the Tour de Blast is amazing...probably the most scenic road ride I've ever been on. I am bringing a camera this year and hope to get some great shots.