Thursday, November 29, 2007

Skate Skiing rookie

Since moving to Teton Valley six years ago I have been curious about skate skiing. As my circle of cycling friends grew it became obvious that I was one of the only serious cyclists here who does not skate ski in the winter. Many of them are accomplished nordic racers in the winter.

The final nudge came when, out of the blue, Michelle suggested that we add skate skiing to our list of activities to try and maintain some cycling fitness over the winter.

So last Friday Michelle and I jumped into a skate ski clinic at Targhee and off we a herd of turtles. Eager to practice, we skated the next two days as well and we discovered muscles we didn't know we had.

Grand Targhee nordic trails...good snow, lots of hills

Skate skiing is not coming easily to me. I am not blessed with great natural balance and my tendency is to try and "muscle" through all things physical. That just doesn't work on skate skis. I have had a few brief moments of greatness where I "get it"...and then I nearly crash and reality sets back in. Ha! I am enjoying the challenge though and I will continue to absorb everything I can to shorten the learing curve a bit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Return of the Green Monster

Man, I needed a ride today at lunch and two hours on the Green Monster set me straight.

There is not enough snow yet for the snowmobiles to be out or for the grooming efforts to begin but the road from Horseshoe to Packsaddle was totally snow covered and the riding was good. It was 8F this morning at my house and warmed up to about 20F by lunchtime.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Can you imagine being forced to push your bike for miles on rideable snow simply because your freehub froze up and the pawls won't engage? Yeah, that would really suck. But this scenario seems to take place every year in one of the snow bike races. Don't let this hapen to you people!

This weekend's 39 degree rain was a perfect excuse to spend some quality time with my FatBike's Shimano XT rear hub and get to know it on a very intimate level. The basic goal was to strip it down to the guts, degrease everything, and then re-grease it with a lube proven at extreme low temps.

Key ingredients:
1) Morningstar Soup grease
2) Morningstar Freehub Buddy tool
3) Morningstar replacement dust shield for Shimano XT

The Morningstar Soup has been tested down to -60F by a mad scientist in Alaska.

I also found some great instructions for tearing down the Shimano XT rear hub here. This is where the Morningstar Freehub buddy comes in. You cannot take apart the freehub mechanism once you remove it from the hub. However, the Freehub Buddy allows you to press degreaser through the freehub to clean it out and then to press the "Soup" through it to regrease it. Without the Freehub Buddy it would be impossible to get any grease into the Shimano freehub. Other hubs are probably easier to "winterize".

The guts of my hub were very clean since I have only ridden this bike on snow. However, the factory grease was very thick even in the moderate temps of my garage and I could easily see how it would be an issue in temps below zero.

One last note, the Morningstar relplaceable dust shield is another key part. You WILL destroy the Shimano dust shield when you remove it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

JayP's Dirt

JayP's website is now live!

Look for some great stuff to show up on this site in the coming months as Jay ramps it up for the 1100 mile ride to Nome, AK as well as other endurance racing adventures.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Test Driving the Sultan

Saturday’s ride was memorable for many reasons:

The crew - JayP, T-Race, Chris Erickson, and I had the trails all to ourselves and blew the needle off of the fun meter

The timing - we rallied for what was likely the last “dirt” day of 2007 in these parts.

Turner Sultan Test drive – this was my first ride on a FS 29er…and it did NOT suck

Chris E. had generously offered to let me test drive his large Turner Sultan several times and the riding season almost got away from us before I could take him up on it. I wanted to give the Sultan an honest evaluation so I met Chris at his house before the ride and we swapped seat posts & saddles, pedals, and adjusted fork, shock and tire air pressures. Chris took one for the team and rode my Turner 5 Spot while I rode the 4” travel Sultan.

First a little background; my normal race bike is a 4” travel Turner Flux that weighs about 26.5 lbs. I also ride my 5 Spot quite a bit on epics and fun rides and it weighs in at about 29 lbs with 2.4” tires. Chris’ Sultan weighs about 28.5 lbs with Panaracer Rampage 2.3” tires + Stan’s goo. Luckily Chris and I are close to the same size so once the saddle & pedal swap was complete the setup felt great.

Right out of the gate I felt very comfortable on this bike and the big wheels didn’t seem to take any getting used to. The handlebars ended up being about 1.5” above my saddle and I thought this would hurt my seated climbing but I was amazed at how well it climbed and how much traction I had in this upright position. In fact, even in the granny gear I could stay seated in the middle of the saddle and grind up some really steep and loose climbs. Descending was a blast with this bar-above-the-seat setup combined with the big wheels.
Here are a few of my post-ride Sultan thoughts:

- The bike did not feel especially slow or sluggish climbing or in the tight singletrack as I was expecting
- Although the bottom bracket height is similar to my 5 Spot at roughly 13”, I felt like I was sitting in the bike, not on top of it
- The front wheel did not “wander” side to side while climbing slowly in the granny gear.
- Sections of loose “baby head” rocks as well as football sized embedded rocks were easier to navigate and maintain speed
- I was immediately comfortable cornering this bike at speed
- The 29” wheels did not increase my red blood cell count nor allow me to out-climb JayP
- The bike was just plain fun to ride

So the question I have now is whether the Sultan would make a good race bike or simply a great “fun” bike. I am guessing that the lightest I could build one up is about 26.5 lbs. A Lenz Leviathan 3.0 frame is almost a pound lighter than the Sultan. But is the weight the biggest factor? My technical weaknesses as a rider/racer are ledgy terrain, sand, loose gravel, and cornering at speed. Several of these conditions are reportedly where 29ers shine and I saw glimpses of this in one 3 hour ride. I will chew on this a bit.

Chris E taking one for the team

T-Race saved her energy and then dropped the hammer on us at the end

Enjoying a little sunshine

The South Fork of the Snake River

As expected, we woke up to this Sunday morning...perfect!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sneaking one in

Riding singletrack on November 9th in Teton Valley, ID? With our weather heading for a change I snuck in one more mtn bike ride at lunchtime today with my trusty sidekick Kenai. This is definitely the latest into the season I have ridden on singletrack in the six years I have lived here.

After this weekend, we may be done on the dirt until May.

The exposed stuff was dry but anything in the shade was a bit muddy.
Kenai had his game face on...actually he was just pissed I was stopping to snap a pic.

My plan is to try for another mtb ride on Saturday unless the storm comes in early. In fact, I am hoping that Chris E. will join me and let me try out his Turner Sultan so I can finally experience the greatness of a FS 29er. This could be dangerous to my checkbook.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Extending the season

Although temps at night are now consistently dropping down into the low twenties, the days have been cool and gorgeous. The weather makes me want to ride more than it makes me want to stalk elk in the timber.

I hooked up with JayP and T-Race (Tracey Petervary) for an awesome road ride today from Wilson, WY into Grand Teton Park and back.

JayP sportin' the retro wool & retro Carerra melon protector.

The handsome couple on Teton Village Rd.

I was smiling until we turned around and Jay dropped the hammer into the stiff headwind. Ouch...but in a good way.

I would love to get another ride or two in on the dirt but the heavy rain we got last week may have closed out our mtn bike season unless I ride very early before the mid-morning thaw. Jay and I might try to recon of a piece of the snow bike course this week as well. It would be great if the weather turned in a hurry and we switched from road biking to snow biking in a matter of days. For now I am content taking whatever the weather gives me.

My elk season goes until the end of November so I am not too anxious yet. In most years we get a good storm or two around Thanksgiving and that is when I get serious about stalking them in the snow. For a hunter on foot, a foot+ of fresh snow levels the playing field a bit; your steps become quiet, the elk stand out against a white backdrop, most ATVers get discouraged, and the snow will tell you how old the tracks truly are.