Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In the Kingdom for NEMBAfest 2014

For the past few years now, NEMBAfest has been held at the Kingdom Trails in Northeast Vermont. Don't know about the Kingdom? This trail network was voted best mountain bike trail network in North America by Bike Magazine in their annual readers poll. This multi-use non-motorized trail system is operated year round and has trail options for riders of all abilities. Sounds fun right? Now add camping, a weekend trail pass to the 100+ mile trail network, live music, a bike expo, access to a bike park, near perfect weather and what do you have? A recipe for awesome.

Me watching the sun set. Photo courtesy of Javier Perez

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Pedal is Best? Shimano, Crank Brothers, or Time?

Good day  riders and enthusiasts!  How is your summer in the Northern hemisphere?  I hope you're enjoying the Tour as it is certainly one of the more entertaining ones of the last several years.  It's been dryer than Steven Wright here in central Virginia and that is making for some pretty good trail riding albeit with a mouthful of dirt.  Thank dog for my Ryders glasses or else my eyes would be breaded by now!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Wheel Lacing Photo Essay

Needed to build a new front wheel and re-inspired by The Serial Driller aka Dr Jon. Set out to keep it simple as I haven't done it in a while the whole wheel building thing. So the first goal was to simply lace it up on the is first one without expert supervision.

Essential Parts

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Revisiting Trail Etiquette

You are out on your favorite trail. The one that has all of the features you and your buddies have spent hours mastering. The trail you rely on to get your daily single track fix. You’re pedaling harder than you have ever pedaled before and riding almost perfectly. This very well could be the best ride you have ever had. Then while climbing that most technical and cardio intensive part of the whole trail, some Strav-A-Hole comes blasting down the trail completely unannounced. He yells at you to get out of his way as he barrels down the trail, killing all of your momentum and forcing you to walk the rest of the way up that climb. At the top you see a family hiking along and talking amongst themselves about how mountain bikers are so rude and are ruining these trails.

A little kindness on the trails can go a long way. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Poetic Green

Rolling green blindly
Leaves slap legs not smile
Beer waits cold below

Abercrombie, WA (photo by CraigH)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Away From the Negative

It’s a strange thing, the drive that keeps us out on the trails. A sickening financial commitment, sacrifice of time, and constant punishment to our bodies. Things like driving across the country just to sleep in our cars and ride “sick” trails seem logical, the sound of a significant other asking if you are really watching a mountain bike video at dinner again or even the “You spent how much on a bicycle” conversation with a friend. Somehow this madness has become the norm, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Frugal Mountain Biker: Part 8 - Pump it up!

In my previous article I covered all of the big advantages of “Lower Tire Pressures”. In order to do this effectively, it is absolutely critical that you check your tire pressures very often. Believe it or not, I now check my tire pressures around once per week. I regularly set my pressures at 28 psi. I have seen my pressures sometimes drop to 15 - 20 psi in a couple of weeks. That is pinch flat low!

In this article, I will be going over the tools that I use to make running lower pressures easy and with minimal effort.

My favorite frame pump. It is small, light-weight, and easy to use for those long rides.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Reluctant Wrench Episode 3: Pedaling the Multiverse

He looked down at his wobbling reflection in the dark pool of coffee, wondering who he was, why he was there, with this girl with no name that was not his girlfriend, on the Fourth of July. 

"So..." she said. He realized that she had gotten him to this point. Meeting out front. Standing in line. Insisting on paying, since he had fixed her chain. Choosing a table. Conversation? That was up to him. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Monarch Crest

Sometimes it takes no sleep to make a dream come true.
I couldn't sleep, even though I was very tired. It was the fourth night of the trip to Salida, CO. We'd been riding the Monarch Crest, rafting, drinking and staying up late every night. I should have been fairly exhausted. I suppose I was, but I couldn't get the next morning's ride out of my head.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting Prepared For Downieville

Downieville, sitting peacefully at the fork of the North Yuba and Downie rivers, was once a prosperous gold mining town with a whopping population of 5,000. You wouldn't be able to tell at first glance, but the humble one street town is a mountain bike paradise to locals and outsiders alike.

You can see for miles, but that view comes at a cost...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Keep Your Nose to the Millstone

On our drive up to NEMBAfest my friend and I planned to stop and check out a place called Millstone Hill. Not many riders I've met know about this little gem. Nestled within and around an old rock quarry technical singletrack abounds. These unique trails offer amazing scenery over diverse terrain. Why are the Millstone Trails so unique? I am glad you asked.

One of the beautiful outlooks easily accessible by bike. Photo courtesy of John Ruiz.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cyclocross is a Dangerous Game

It's the 29er's annoying little brother.  It does things the hard way.  Cushy Suspension?  Neh.  Fat, shock absorbing tires?  Nyet.  A little stupidity and brashness?  Yes!  Ladies and gentlemen, cyclocross!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Northumberland Humbler 2014 Analysis

This year due to numerous factors and as they say life, there has not been much racing at all for me.

So last Saturday was a chance to get into a race put on by my buddy who runs  Substance Projects. Who put on a race at Northumberland Forest. Now I won't bore you with a race report about a race as the Result speaks for itself.  Yep...32 minutes after the first guy to finish the 33K half MTB marathon.

Chris Macfarlane  Lapdogs  1 Lap  2:04:46:2  +32:15

Dirt or Tan line?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What makes a bike "cool" anymore?

Recently, I have found myself wondering just that. What makes a bike that any company makes cool or worthy of buying. If you find your self in the market for a new bike, on paper, so many seem to be near identical. What makes sub 20 pound, carbon, cross country racing 29ers so different from another? Or what is it that makes people so sold on one bike in the ever saturated all mountain/enduro market? So what makes one better or more desirable? Is it the bike itself, or could it be something more than that?

Three very different bikes, all riding the same trails. A hardtail niner, a 5 inch carbon cross country machine, and a 6 inch super bike. Is there an answer to which is better?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Chilcotin Chainsaw Gang

This was not a typical back-country bike weekend in the South Chilcotin mountains. Instead of epic long days and big alpine descents, we chose to give back to this place that has given us so many memorable adventures. Our goal on this early season trip was to remove as much blowdown as possible as far as we can get in two days. Riding was replaced with hiking and sawdust. Our bikes became oxen to move gear and our group of three, the chainsaw gang. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Riding- We do it different in Phoenix

It is time to pay. The Phoenix Arizona Desert has been a gorgeous treat all year, but with the summer comes the heat, and unfortunately, this heat could very well kill you. With extreme temperatures over 120 degrees and little shade on the trails, it is imperative the heat be avoided or approached with extreme precaution. Since it is impossible for me to neglect the trails, I choose the latter. Even though you may not have extreme heat like Phoenix, there are still many valuable lessons that can be taken away to your beautiful forests. Let’s take a look into the art of surviving the heat, and a few items that may save your life.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Frugal Mountain Biker: Part 7 - Lower Tire Pressures

What is the most important part of equipment on your mountain bike?

Suspension forks and shocks? Nope! Rigid bikes don’t need those. 30 speed derailleur drive trains? Nope! Single speeders only need one set of sprockets. Carbon fiber frame? Nope! Steel, aluminum, and titanium frames are still very popular and work perfectly well. Hydraulic disk brakes? Nope! Mountain bikes had cantilever brakes for many years and they were still very usable.

It is true that almost all of those components are very important for most modern mountain bikes. However, back in the 70’s when BMX & mountain biking started, the one thing that made it all possible was the development of off-road knobby bike tires. Without them, it was nearly impossible to get off the pavement without any kind of measurable control. Since then, MTB tires have made huge improvements over decades of development.

To me the computer designed WTB Bronson tread pattern really is a thing of beauty.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Reluctant Wrench Episode 2: Ouroboros

He got out of his seat and pedaled up the last hill he had to endure before getting to work. His three best pairs of jeans were too filthy to even wear at the shop, leaving him with some old black denim Levi's that were tight on his thighs, constricting his legs and making his keys feel like a jagged rock in his pocket. Heavier than a rock. A sharp lump of lead, maybe. And the keys seemed to be multiplying. First, it was just his own set of keys and the front door of the shop. Then the key to the shop truck. Then the back gate. As more senior employees walked off to greener grasses, their burdens, angst, and responsibilities had been dropped onto him with the simple clinking sound of another key set upon his work bench.