Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Dealing with frozen bike parts in the middle of the night at -25F does not sound like a good time and this is precisely why I am winterizing my FatBike. My bike currently works great down to -5F but I want to know that it will work at -40F if it has to. I will definitely be at one of the winter bike races next year so I figure I might as well start testing things out now.
#1 Dremel out the cable stops and run full length shift cable housing
#2 Replace hydraulic brake with Avid Mechanical brake and full length brake cable housing
#3 Replace all factory bearing grease (bottom bracket, headset, hubs, freehub, pedals) with Morningstar "Soup"
#4 Cover all metal bike tool surfaces with plastic tape
When the arrival of my FatBike was delayed by three months I had written off doing a winter bike race in 2007 but there is a little voice in my head encouraging me to buy a plane ticket to Anchorage and line up on Feb 17th.
To everyone racing the Arrowhead 135 this Monday, good luck and be safe out there! I will be rooting for all of you to have a great race and to achieve your personal goals.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
We had perfect 15-20F sunny weather and firm trails to ride on so we ended up riding for about two and half hours. I was dying to check out the trails beginning where JayP and I had turned around the last time we rode in the Big Holes so we drove further north to begin our ride. I feel like a kid in a candy store lately every time I take the snow bike out and discover more new trails. We didn’t see a single person and the terrain was incredible. Today’s ride was more sustained climbing right out of the gate but the reward was a long descent back to the truck at the end. Michelle handled the snow bike great and said several times, “this is way better than the trainer”. Our youngest dog Kenai had a blast too and is secretly hoping that Michelle gets her own Pugsley so that his chances of going along on rides go up.
I also got to test out the new front rack today. The Old Man Mountain Sherpa rack is supported vertically by the axle using an extra long quick release skewer that is provided with the rack and then attaches to whatever holes are available on the front of the bike. The rack comes with two aluminum bars that have a long slot in them so you can mount them as needed. In my efforts to bend them to fit my fork/rack combo I weakened and broke one of them. Doh! I ended up pounding a star nut up into the steerer tube from beneath and then cutting and bending a ¾” wide piece of aluminum for the lateral support. I am not convinced this is strong enough so I may keep fiddling with it.
Friday, January 26, 2007
I took a half day off from work and we started our ride at 1pm from Togwotee Lodge. We could not believe how warm it was. It was in the teens in Jackson but up at 8500’ it was almost 40F. We shed all the layers we could and joked about wishing we had our summer “kits” with us. The plan was to do a 22 mile loop so that I could end up back at the truck and then Jay would continue on to ride south in the dark and camp at some point before riding home on Friday.
The Continental Divide winter trail network is made up of 600 miles of groomed snowmobile trails so there is huge potential for some epic rides. There are free maps available online or at local snowmobile shops and every intersection is signed. Awesome! Once we got five miles away from the lodge we saw very few snowmobiles and had the trails to ourselves.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Tonight is another Indoor Cycling Center session at Fitzy's and I am hoping to do a big snow bike ride with JayP on Thursday and make a small contribution to his training efforts.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Keeping all of my toes is a big priority for me as I delve into snow biking and aspire to race in Alaska or Minnesota next winter. Two weeks ago while alpine skiing I got mild frostbite on my left big toe to the point where it is still dark purple and numb on the tip…yuk! My ski boots were squeezing my toes a bit on back to back cold ski days and I should have known better. The lack of circulation was more of a factor than the temps themselves. My snow bike footwear strategy is based on circulation and insulation and is coming together nicely except that I haven’t tested it on a long outing yet. My concern is perspiration. Sweaty socks = cold feet. This is where Vapor Barrier socks come in. VB sock keep the sweat next to your skin and your insulating layers stay dry so they can do their job. Think about how a wetsuit works.
Integral Designs VB sock has a nice closure at the top to keep the heat in
RBH Designs offers a VB liner sock as well but the seems are not taped. Moisture may seep into your outer sock.
Hydration Plan B is to use insulating sleeves for two Nalgene bottles. This means that I have to stop to drink and I am less likely to drink as often. Where do you get water in the middle of a winter snow bike race? You melt snow of course. I am not a backpacker nor do I have extensive backcountry or mountaineering experience. Based on reading about stoves and using stoves the JetBoil looks like a simple and efficient solution that even I could use. The 1L cannister acts as a container for the rest of the parts and packs up to the size of a Nalgene bottle.
Friday, January 19, 2007
JayP and I hooked up for a ride this afternoon with the idea that we would explore the snowmobile trail network in the Big Hole Mountains on the west side of Teton Valley and see if it truly is a viable option for the snow bikes. Holy crap is it a viable option! We blew the needle off of the fun meter today! We rode, and rode, and laughed, and climbed in our granny gears, and bombed downhill at silly speeds, and overall had a lot of fun while riding pretty hard for a couple of hours. And we barely scratched the surface of the trail network. There are steep climbs, steep downhills, rolling terrain, and interesting scenery. This network of trails is groomed by the local snowmobile clubs and they do a damn nice job. There was even some corduroy to be found at a main intersection.
There are easily enough snowmobile trails there to connect a few loops and ride all day long…or longer. It makes me want to seek out the local snowmobile clubs and give them a big thanks. There are even signs! Our summer trail network is notoriously hard to follow due to lack of signage. You just have to get lost a few times and figure it out.
We had perfect 18 degree sunny weather and moderately firm trails. The trails were just firm enough to be rideable on the Endomorphs at 5-7 PSI but were probably too soft to ride on skinnier tire.
2006 Susitna 100 winner, JayP, making it look easy.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
So far, my clothing choice is the hardest thing to nail down for snow biking. I usually wear too much and my torso & head end up soaking wet within an hour. I need to experiment with fewer layers and more breathable fabrics. The Moose Mitts on the handlebars are the shizzle! I can get away with only thin glove liners down to zero degrees. My hands were sweating in them at 11 degrees.
I hope to do the Susitna 100 or the Arrowhead 135 next year so I need to get my clothing options dialed in. Getting sweaty in the first 10 miles of a 100 mile race is not good.
I discoverd this short loop off the main trail that winds through a spooky forest.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
I scrambled out of work early so I could get a short ride in this afternoon. It was 2 degrees when I left and the snow in Teton Canyon was squeaky cold. I rode for about an hour and ended up working pretty hard because of the soft conditions. The FatBike rode great on the soft skate track. I didn't feel guilty about riding the skate track because the Endomorph tires leave such a shallow inprint on the snow due to their wide footprint.
This bike is going to extend my riding season by a whole lot. I am looking forward to exploring the snowmobile trail network in the Big Hole mountains on the west side of Teton Valley.
For the bike geeks out there, here is the build spec:
Frame & Fork: Wildfire FatBike
Rims: Surly Large Marge
Tires: Surly Endomorph 3.7
Stem & Post: Thomson
Bottom Bracket: Phil Wood 100 X 145
Crankset: Middleburn square taper
Pedals: Wellgo Magnesium
Shifters: Sram XO Twist Shisters
Front Derailleur: Shimano E-type
Rear Derailleur: Sram XO
Rear Brake: Magura Louise FR
Handlebar: Easton Monkeylite Lo Rise
A few shots prior to the first ride
Do these tires make my butt look big?
Thursday, January 11, 2007
After 4 1/2 months of waiting my Wildfire Designs FatBike frame finally arrived.
The FatBike frames are built by DeSalvo and shipped up to AK where Wildfire has them painted, preps them, and builds them up as complete bikes or ships the frames off.
The frame and fork have enough clearance to run Surly 3.7 Endomorph tires on Large Marge rims and the frame can do dual duty as a rigid 29er in the summer as well. FatBikes use a standard 100mm front/135mm rear hub configuration whereas the Pugsley runs a 135mm rear hub both front and rear.
I hope to get it built up tonight and take it out for a spin tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
I began this project back in late August thinking I was ahead of the curve and that I would have plenty of time to order the frame, pick out the parts, and get the bike built before the first snowflake hit the ground. I won't go into the drama here but I was sooooo close to pulling the plug and ordering a Pugsley a couple of times. It doesn't help that my buddies over at Fitzy's didn't order Pugsleys until November and have been riding for a few weeks already. Have I mentioned that I am not a patient person? I am excited about this frame and I know it is going to be worth the wait.
I have all of the parts I need and I am hoping the build goes smoothly.
The only thing I don't have is a headset press so I may bomb over to Fitzy's and have them press that in for me.
On the training front, I am hoping that today and tomorrow are my last trainer rides for a while and I get outside on the new hotness Friday.
Sunday, January 7, 2007
It started snowing pretty hard again after lunch today.
Friday, January 5, 2007
2006 was a year of many firsts for me in my short cycling career and I enjoyed reading my fellow racers' blogs so much that I decided to join them the fun.
My blog will also add a level of accountability to my training and racing as I plan to publish the good, the bad, and the ugly as the season unfolds. What does the 2007 cycling season look like? The only thing I know for sure is that I will be back at the E100 for 100 miles of joy and pain.
We are fully entrenched in winter here in Driggs so any cycle-specific training usually happens indoors or is doesn't happen at all. However, this year I have a new weapon in the works to replace some of those mind-numbing trainer hours.