Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mountain bike personalization '20

The whole civilized world is dealing with a virus outbreak right now.  The smart people are limiting unnecessary contact with other people, washing their hands, avoiding crowds, etc.  Then there are some who are apparently using their spare bedroom as a toilet paper repository.  (It's truly weird!  Toilet paper consumption is 1000x what it normally is!  If I'd known, I'd a-told my finance guy, "Put all my money in Charmin!")

One VERY nice thing... so far at least, bicycling is a good way to maintain that recommended social distance, while also maintaining a healthy outdoor lifestyle.  March has been a good month for me.  (Yesterday was a little dicey - I think everybody was on the Greenbelt!  Probably due to the nice weather.  It was jammed with walkers, dog walkers, cyclists, E-cyclists (you know, bike riding without the exercise), skaters.  And obviously lots of 'em got a little rusty over the winter.)

I've also recently applied some upgrades to my Cannondale mountain bike... equipping it for the kind of riding I do.

For one thing... I added a DROPPER SEATPOST.

Traditionally, a person installs a dropper if they need to lower their seat to negotiate particularly difficult or technical stretches of singletrack.  I did it to ease getting started!  My bike is so tall that the saddle hits me at about the waist, when I'm straddling it!  The dropper post (which is controlled by an onboard lever - like your office chair) can be lowered when I'm "parking."  Then when I'm taking off, I get to moving and raise the saddle back up to normal level.  (At some point it might also come in handy if I'm on some technical singletrack - time will tell.)

I also replaced the tires.

The bike came with some "almost fat" knobby tires - perfect for slow riding in loose dirt, etc.  But the fact is, I expect my riding (on that bike) will be a mix of brisk pavement riding, dirt-and-gravel road riding, and the occasional offroad "traditional mountain bike riding."

(But what, truly, is traditional mountain bike riding?  I'm guessing most mountain bikes are ridden more like what I'm anticipating - lots of pavement, some dirt.  I always smile to myself when I see guys lumbering along on FAT BIKES on the Greenbelt!  ALWAYS guys!  That's the opposite of an E-bike - "bike riding with TWICE the exercise!")

Another factor - I wasn't able to hook up my BOB trailer to the mountain bike - not enough clearance for those semi-fat tires.

So... I replaced the 2.35 inch tires with some 40mm tires.  That about 1.6 inches.  They are "knobby" tires, but with a fairly wide solid center ridge, which will allow for brisk pavement riding... or at least that's my line of thought.  Recommended pressure is 50-85PSI.  They should roll pretty nice at 85... and if I get to some gnarly trails, I can bleed some air, and they should be fairly adequate.  And - the trailer can be attached!  (They are Schwalbe "Land Cruiser Plus" tires, with a puncture-resistant belt.)  I hope to provide a review, after some miles and experience.  In the meantime, I'll try to survive the virus with my family, and accumulate those miles and experience.

Stay well, friends!

Friday, March 20, 2020

My new favorite "mail order" bike parts merchant

I always feel good about patronizing the good Local Bike Shops.  They are here for us... those that I deal with are consistently reasonably-priced, particularly with service fees.  If you need a part in a pinch, you can often find it the same day at a well-equipped LBS.  (I've also got to give a shout-out to Boise Bicycle Project.  They are a good source of knowledge, as well as binloads of good used parts that are still 100% functional at amazingly reasonable prices.)

However, as a guy who goes through a considerable number of tires, tubes, and other "consumables" (up to and including brake pads, chains, chainrings, cassettes, etc.), I'm always on the lookout for good prices as well as reliable shipping and delivery.

And - my new favorite parts supplier is not only out of town, it's out of country!  Maybe 5000 miles away!

Chain Reaction Cycles is across the pond - in Northern Ireland.  They have a fantastic inventory of stuff at very competitive prices.  I've ordered from them several times, and their service is really quite remarkable!

Most recently, I placed an order for two tyres (they sell tyres - but they substitute nicely for tires!) and three tubes.  I deliberately ordered a little over $60 of merchandise, which qualified me for free shipping.  The order was placed on March 16 (Monday).  I got an email from the shipper (DHL Express) on Tuesday... enroute, scheduled to arrive Thursday.  I got a follow-up email from DHL on Thursday morning, "Your delivery is today."  And by 10am, I was slicing through the packing tape on the box.  Sah-WEEEEEET!  (I've ordered from the two big state-side bike mail order companies - "N" and "P" - for years, and it typically takes a week to 10 days for the stuff to arrive.)

If you occasionally go to an out-of-town supplier, I'd suggest you put Chain Reaction on your "go to" list.  Remember: tyres = tires, spanner = wrench, etc.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Group ride!

'Twas an almost-perfect day today, and I went on a somewhat rare ride with somebody else.  That "somebody" is somebody very special to me - my granddaughter Laurel.  Her momma and daddy won't allow their kids to go until they're a year old - Laurel turned 1 year in February, and we're off to the races!  (I get a LOT more smiles from other Greenbelt people, when I have one of the grandbabies along.  This is the third who has used this little up-front bike seat... their parents gifted it to me, many moons ago, and we've gotten lots of mileage out of it.)