Monday, February 22, 2010

Wet Weather Preparation

Well, winter is in full swing, so cold is the norm, and wet is the flavor.

As I ride more and more, my plan is to hit the trails as often as possible. With Syllamo just 2 months away, there is no way around it.

However, the reality is that spring is the time of rain. Something has to thaw the ground and convince the lillies to pop. Unfortunately, my conscience is too powerful to allow me to tear up my favorite trails after every ride. I just can't do that and sleep well at night.

Because of that, my mind turns to the road. I still want to spend time spinning over the legs. But when the trails are wet, generally the road is too. I can handle the typical sketchy corner with aplomb, but no one likes a wet backside, or a brown stripe up their back. We look stupid enough out in the cold in skin tight clothing, (Ok, I look stupid in skin tight clothing in any weather).

We only need to look to the Brits to understand how to handle this situation appropriately. In a country where rain is as central to life as tea, they know how to deal with wetness. After a little research, I turned up absolutely no US vendors for the fenders I wanted, so I surfed across the pond and picked them up from a shop in the UK.

Mounted them up this evening, and I'm pretty impressed with them. Innovative design, lightweight, and very quick and easy to mount on the bike.

Maybe this weekend, I'll find out how well they work.......

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Modernization Of The Fleet

I began riding in 1991. At that time, top mount shifters were de rigeur, and I ran Suntour on my bike. My frame was lugged steel, and suspension forks were still something the downhill racers rode.

My roadbike was lugged steel, with indestructible box section rims in the wheels. I had downtube shifters to ease the effort on hills, and a 7sp cassette provided all the ratios I thought I could ever need!

For clothing, I regularly rode in cut off bluejeans, and t-shirts stolen from my father' closet covered my back the best. My helmet looked mostly like a glorified beer cooler, and my gloves were mesh backed workout gloves that I used in the weight room in the highschool football stadium.

Those were the days.

Fast forward almost 20 years later.

I'm now riding a plastic fantastic 15lbs road bike. With full Dura-Ace, light wheels and an incredibly light weight, this thing is truly fantastic!

I've even updated my cross bike (still lugged steel) to have a carbon fork, ultra lightweight wheels and Dura Ace brifters. It sure makes it easier to shoulder over the barriers.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, my mountainbike was just not cutting the mustard. The bumpy parts of courses left me behind. Over and over again, I'd pull up to my riding buddy's back wheel only to be shucked off again like so much refuse.

Enter the Sugar 1 from my earlier posts. I finally pushed myself to purchase a modern (Ok, semi modern) full suspension bike. Now I get on their wheel and stay there. Actually, I'm finding myself nearly crashing into their rear triangle on every turn.

One of the few things left to update was my fork. The Manitou FS I was running is not at all a bad fork, however it is old tech and performs somewhat poorly. It was also heavy. While feathery by 1990's tech, it is rather tank-like these days.

I decided to get myself a Rockshox Sid. The first one I got was the generous hand-me-down of a riding friend. Unfortunately, it was just plain worn out. Stantions were worn through, damping blown and seals all bad to the point it would not hold air. None of that changes the generosity of my buddy Chris.

A week later, I managed to get my hands on a 2007 Race model. All I can say is wow!!!!! Everything works extremely well, and it performs admirably. Now the wheel tracks the ground like a cat tracking a mouse. Its truly light as well, having taken over half a pound off my bike!

So goes the modernization of my fleet. It now runs in a fashion that allows me to keep up with my friends. Parts are only a phone call away, and I could actually get it serviced at my local shop in the event that I could not handle it myself. (Not likely to happen).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Memphis Weather SUCKS!!!!

There is no way around it.... Memphis weather just plain sucks!

As was noted on the MSTA forum, this is absolutely the worst winter for riding in a very long time. The trails are completely saturated, to the point that riding them is near impossible. Its also a bad idea from a trail maintenance staindpoint.

To make matters worse, its too cold to ride the road as well. I have warm clothes, but they don't nearly do the job when the temp is below 35f. I guess the windchill is just too much to deal with....

Without an opportunity to ride, I've managed to wax all my bikes, tune every one of them up, and make some good upgrades to them. Hopefully I'll actually get to enjoy them at some point.