Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shakedown Cruise for a Snowbike

In continuation of my effort to lay down the miles for the DDD, I took the bigfoot out for a shakedown cruise today. Yeah, it rides like kind of a big mountain bike. I did swap out the rear cassette so it's now a 1 x 8; 34 x 11-34, which ends up being a good range. I didn't put a granny on it because you might as well walk if you need anything lower than 1 to 1 in the snow.

The weather was pretty miserable for the length of ride that I did. It held just above freezing for most of the day and snowed periodically—heavily at times. Of course, it ends up being more like rain at that point and soaks your clothing. I was more or less dressed for it though and managed to stay warm until the last few miles.

The first fifteen miles were on paved trails, leaving Madison's Isthmus and heading south to the Capitol City Trail. I rode the 9-mile segment from Nob Hill to Jamestown, turning south to hook up with the Military Ridge Trail. 6 more miles of pavement brought me to the beginning of the gravel segment just east of Verona. The pavement sections had been wet but plowed, so things got a little more interesting on the snow-covered gravel. I have to say that big tires really do make a difference. I've ridden regular mountain bikes with 26 x 1.9 inch tires on this sort of surface, but you just can't beat the kind of float you get with bigger tires. You can feel the frozen footprints, but they don't slow you down much. Makes me wonder what a Surly Pugsley is like.

So I stopped at the Riley Tavern, about 25 miles out. Had a burger and a beer and watched the third quarter of the Packer game as they came back from behind to lead Carolina. (good thing I didn't stay to watch the whole thing since they ended up losing in the last couple of minutes.) Refilled my water and headed for home. Took another 10 miles of gravel Military Ridge to the paved trail and then the frontage road, eventually hooking up with the Southwest commuter bike trail. Shaved 5 miles off the return trip for a grand total of 45 miles on the day. Pretty beat and soaked to the bone upon my arrival.

Had Thanksgiving leftovers, wrote this and will soon go to bed. A good day, though not all of it made sense...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fat and Happy

I posted quite a while back that I was working on a new thing codenamed Project Why (which morphed into Project Why Not?) but have taken my sweet time getting around to finishing it. Well, here it is:

This is what I plan to ride in the DDD adventure race (or in my case, adventure ride) in January. My goal is mainly to finish.

For you bike geeks, it's a Motobecane 600HT aluminum frame with a Surly Pugsly 100 fork, Snowcat-ish 48mm trials rims, 2.4-inch tires, 1 x 8 drivetrain, Titiec H-bars, and Shimano DH-3N70 dynohub/Schmidt Edelux lighting (taillight to come.)

I have to say that this thing is quite the brute to pedal and it steers like a mattress, but the good news is that it holds a line on loose gravel in a way that suggests it will do very well in the snow. I'm guessing that we'll soon find out.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Return of the Missing Blogger

Well, I'm back. No good excuses except that I just haven't been putting in much time online. It's been too nice outside and I've been too busy with the election, the dog, the house, the garden, bikes and workworkwork. In the works are posts about the garden, Project Why Not?, hauling stuff with a Bikes at Work trailer, compost and commuting. Hopefully a couple this week...