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First Prep Ride

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I’ve been planning to do the Oregon Outback ride this year with a friend, and yesterday was our first trial ride with our camp bikes.  We did the 26-mile mostly paved ride I had done on my rando bike a few weeks ago.  There is a short stretch of gravel, so it allowed us a bit of feel for the twisty dirt roads, but this was mainly an equipment shakedown.

Testing the OO setups

We loaded up his Troll and my Mammoth with some bulk, but not a full level of kit. I had the hammock, sleeping bag, and stove, and John had a front bag, frame bag, and a full Ortlieb dry bag. All in, my bike was probably 10+ lbs heavier than my last ride on this loop.

John's Troll

Observations:

  • The Thunder Burts are nice pavement tires – minimal buzz, and great float, and the tubeless setup is holding air nicely
  • I will likely need to put my rear rack back on to support the bag – it rests on the fender, and there will be more weight out back when I add food, clothes, etc…
  • I’m going to put a triple on the front for the extreme climbs with weight – the 48/34 compact double is good, but I want more granny
  • John is checking his chain rings – threw the chain a few times
  • Flat pedals rock
  • Ready to tape the bars – they felt fine on the ride
  • Both bikes had a bit of shimmy at ~20mph – attributed to more weight high up in the back – we should be able to sort it by adding weight in the front, and lower down
  • Our speed was not too different then my solo ride of the reverse loop;  12.3 mph ave vs. 13.7 mph ave – only took an additional 12 mins over the course of 2 hrs
  • The bikes are plenty comfortable
  • I can’t wait for this trip!

 

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Pushing Mammoth

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After a thousand miles using the Clement MSO tires, and an unfortunate rim shredding with forgotten brake pads, it was time to rebuild my wheels.  I really like the Clements, so they will likely go back on after the Oregon Outback, but the bike is built for bigger tires, and  I have a couple bikes that are lighter and more roadish.  This is a mountain bike at heart.

I did a bit of research and decided to try out WTB ChrisCross rims.  They seemed to be a good combination of strength and weight, and had the requisite black look I was wanting for this bike.  They luckily happened to be the same ERD (604mm) as the outgoing Velocity Synergies, so I was able to try out the rim swap trick re-using the old, perfectly good spokes.

Rim swap – tape, loosen, and start switching rims!

As I’ve had good luck with tubeless Hetres on my Toussaint, and I definitely want to avoid flats with the bigger tires on the long trips, I built these up sans-tube.   I only had the thin Stans tape that just covered the spoke holes.  The tires I picked for these guys are the Schwalbe Thunder Burts.  They are tubeless-ready tires, but fit the rims rather loosely.  I knew I would need extra tape, but it took two additional layers.  I used one round of Gorilla tape on one rim, but I had to trim it to fit in the well.  I went over it with a round of vinyl tape that worked so well, I just used the vinyl twice round on the other wheel.

Finished Wheel

Once I had a few layers built up, the tires popped in with the air compressor, and I added Stans for a fully loaded tubeless wheel.  I had to re-adjust the fenders back out 10mm to take into account the expanded diameter of the new wheel. Until I got the tires on, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run with fenders over these giant tires.  I’m still wary, as new knobbies tend to pick up lots of debris, but the first ride was uneventful.

Mammoth Mode

The new tires are definitely beefy.  Reminds me of that big off-road mountain bike feel I fell in love with in ’91 when I re-discovered off-road riding.  They appear to ride really smoothly on asphalt, and they soak up the bumps even better than the Hetres on my other bike.  In the tubeless config, they likely weigh in the same neighborhood, too!  Hetres: 412g + tube (150g) compared to Thunder Burts: 435g.

First ride with Burts

Now I just need a few more long dirt rides to sort this guy out.  The bars feel pretty far out – this guy has a long top-tube, and drops accentuate the reach.  Once I get it dialed in, the tape will go on and the mammoth will be ready for new adventure.

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Europe

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I’ve been away from the blogging lately due to a heavy work schedule.  I have missed the first few rides with SIR this year, as well.  I’ve been commuting a few times weekly, and plan to up that as I get my Hunqapillar set up for the Oregon Outback.

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I was in Europe a few weeks back on work meetings, and managed to get to Scotland for a weekend vacation.  From a flight into Glasgow, I hired a car and drove to Oban to stay at a bed and breakfast for 2 nights.  I didn’t get any biking in, but did a lot of walking about.  The main draw for me was the landscape and whisky distillery.

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I managed to get a few bike pics in Stockholm, Sweden.  It was the only place I noticed much biking.  The weather was quite mild in early March – I had assumed it would be frozen and snowy, but it seems not unlike home.

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I also noticed a few mail carriers using bikes.

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As for London – more cars than ever it seems.  I met a few friends who biked to the local pub, but I only noticed a few bikers braving the busy city streets.  They seemed to be very comfortable getting close to traffic – just not as much room on the streets there. One of these days I’ll have to rent a bike and do a bit of cycling.  The roads are inviting – especially the less busy rural roads of Scotland.

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Tubeless vs. Staple

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After about 6 months of riding my Velo Routier on tubeless Hetre ELs, it was time to “change the fluid”. I wasn’t sure how long before the first batch would be dried up and gone. After riding to the beach and back, I noticed a slow leak in the front tire. I brought it back home, got out the Stan’s, and gave it a refill without having to remove the whole tire. I noticed that there was a uniform white residue along the inside of the tire including the sidewalls. There were a few chunks of latex that pooled up around what I took for small holes, and I wiped out the inside of the tire before putting in a fresh couple ounces and refilling the tire. I was able to remount the tire and use my floor pump to pop the bead back into place with little effort.

After a few rides, I started to wonder if I was running on borrowed time with the rear – since that is always the tire that goes flat for me. There had been no noticeable puddle of Stan’s in the front tire when I popped it open. To put my mind at ease, tonight I put the bike up in the stand and popped one side off the rim of the rear wheel. While wiping out the remaining Stan’s (about a teaspoon left – mostly viscous yellow – no sign of the white latex still in the suspension), I noticed the twin prongs of a perfect staple that had pierced the tire mid-tread.

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I tried to find it on the outside of the tire to remove it the way it had gone in, but the connecting bar had broken off the tines. I removed them from the inside. I have no idea how long that staple was in there. It could have happened shortly after I started riding these tires tubeless, or it could have happened last week. One thing is certain – I would have had a flat had I been using tubes. As it stands, I didn’t notice the puncture until I went to perform maintenance on the tire.

Pretty cool! I think a few more of my tires will be losing their tubes in the future.

Big Rides

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Calm January bay.

I’m going into 2015 with an open mind.  I would love to ride more brevets this year, but I’m leaving mileage goals wide open.  I did a few “permanents” last year (solo brevets that you schedule yourself), and I really enjoyed them. There are 200ks around Whidbey Island that I’d like to do regularly, and I even set up some rides in the Ride with GPS app, including one populaire (100k) that I may ride and submit for permanent status if it turns out to be good.  It’s quite a hillfest, however!

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I would still love to see how far I can make it in 24 hours (or if I can even ride that long) and then maybe try a longer ride at some point.  I am pretty sure I’m not up for the PBP or any 1200k quite yet – I haven’t the will power for that much time in the saddle in a short amount of time.  I’m not leaving it off the table, however.

One thing is for sure:  I want to bike into old age, and continue to enjoy my rides.

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I’ve been out about once a week since mid December.  I guess this is my yearly break.  I’ve been focusing more on diet and basic Pilates exercise to keep in shape, but I’m giving my knee a rest to get my adductors stretched back out. I also just tried out kayaking, and this will be added to my weekend relaxation/exercise plans for 2015. I really enjoy paddling around, and have a lot to learn about cruising about in the cold water of the Sound.  I also need some cross training so I don’t continue the descent into a biker physique combined with a tech slouch.

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One interesting ride I plan to try this year is the Oregon Outback. This is a 360 mile, mostly gravel journey that crosses the state south to north from Klamath Falls to Deschutes. There was much written about it last year, with some like Ira Ryan and Jan Heine “racing” the route and finishing in under 30 hours, and others taking a leisurely multi-day tour to the finish. I will be likely doing the latter with a friend and my Hunqapillar. I don’t get enough chances to really ride that bike under load in it’s primary capacity. The last time it wasn’t just a commuter was the Rivendell Entmoot, and that’s just sad and wrong!

This ride will be a benchmark for my spring riding season. I would still like to visit Babyshoe Pass, and Stehekin, as well. Perhaps more exploring in WA is in order…

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