11 April 2015

Specialized Demo Day Hosted by 3 Sports and Carytown Bicycle Co.

With a host of problems for the last month and a inspection at work that ended Thursday.I was glad to be off and could get out to a Demo Day to try out some new bikes. The Specialized Demo Day was hosted by 3 Sports and Carytown Bicycle Company at Forest Hill Park . Interesting that two shops in town are both hosting this event and have staff working together to make it successful.

I have been thinking for sometime now it is time that I purchase a new mountain bike. To have something that is modern and cool! So my focus at the demo day is not about trying out a Specialized bike to purchase, but is more about trying out tire size.

Listed below is what was on-hand to test ride. I rode three different bikes all (L) and I rode the same section of trail with flat pedals. I could not tell you the last time I rode flats. Must have been almost 20 years ago. But they worked out just great.

SW Epic WC- M L XL

Era Expert- S M

Fate Expert- S M L

Camber Comp- S M L

Camber Expert Evo- M L XL

Rumor Expert Evo- S M L


SJ EVO 650- M L XL



Fatboy Pro- M L

The first bike I rode was the Fatboy Pro. I wanted to see what all this fat bike stuff is about. It was a blast and it put a smile on my face. I don't think you can ride a fat bike without smiling. The Fatboy felt like you were floating on air. Nice an smooth! When you look off the the front you think this bike is heavy because of that fat tire. Well that's not the case. I found it easy to hop up on and over something.

Next up was the SW ENDURO 650b. I have been thinking that the 650b tire size is the way to go. I know, I know the hold tire size debate. Honestly I think it handles like a 26er and rolls like a 29er. Looking off the front I thought I was riding a 26 inch wheel. I really can't see the difference in wheel size while on the bike like you can with a 29 inch wheel. I think the first thing I said after getting off the bike is "that is like cheating". It is so easy to ride. For someone who has not been riding mountain bikes for 20 years and they just purchased their first mountain bike. They can buy a lot of skill at the same time. I grew up in the mountain bike world having to pick lines and I still ride that way today. I see some new riders just ride over stuff and not pick a line....

Next was... It was either, I cannot remember but it was a 29er. I could tell I was riding a big wheeled bike. Its handling was very deliberate which I liked. But not sure if it was all about the wheel or not. Different forks and geometry I think had a lot to do with it.

Okay then, if I had to purchase a bike this weekend what would it be? Well that is a hard one and in a prefect world I would say one of each wheel size. Remember I was focused on wheel size not frame material or anything else. I would have to pick the 29er just because of the deliberate handling. I would like to have the fat bike just because it is a hoot to ride that will put a smile on your face.

If this summer your local shop is hosting a demo day get out there and try something new. Now I just need to figure out what I want!

09 March 2015

One Night Only Banff Mountain World Tour

This year I heard that tickets sold out in 3 days. I was able to score tickets for both nights but they cancelled Friday's show due to the weather the day before. I was not happy about that but they took the best of both night's and showed them for the Saturday showing to make up for it.

I enjoyed the show and there were some great movies but not none that just stood out to me. But here are my top 3 picks of the night

Sufferfest 2: Desert Alpine, sometimes the sequel is not as good as the 1st but this is just as good and Cedar Wright and Alex Honnold are just as funny.

Mending the Line, This WWII veteran found fly fishing as his way to heal the wounds of war. The ones we can't see.

And Then We Swam, Sometimes people have a great idea for an epic adventure and this is the first time they have ever done anything like this before. Almost like "hold my beer and watch this"!

And Then We Swam - Clip from Banff Mountain Film Festival on Vimeo.

If you like outdoor adventure and good story telling then do yourself a favor and catch a night of the Banff Mountain World Tour with a friend.

16 February 2015

High Bridge Stae Park- Super Bowl Ride

Each Super Bowl Sunday for I guess the last 20 years, there has always been a Super Bowl ride up Flagpole Knob. I have never made that ride because it is just west of Harrisburg and I would spend most of a day in the car making the trip. Mother Nature was nice to us non-football watching types with highs in the 50's.

With a late start and a Super bowl party that afternoon, my riding partner "G" and myself head to High Bridge State Park. Pulling up to the trail head in Rice we are the only car. For what ever reason we do not get many takers to go with us to High Bridge. I think most people are bored with gravel roads or rails-to-trails. I think they are just missing out because I have had some of my best adventures on those types of trails. This ride did not disappoint!

On our way to the bridge we notice what looked like the cutting of an access road that takes you to Civil War gun emplacement. If you like Civil War history then go here and learn about the Battle of High Bridge.

It was not in our plan when we started, but we remembered that some single track trails were put in during the past year. I told "G" that I thought they were between the bridge and Farmville. From the time we left the car it took us about 50 minutes to find the trail head to the single track.

Now "G" and I were not on are normal trail bikes. He had brought his Salsa Vaya and I was riding my MB-1 Bridgestone. But we would give the Early Mountain Bike Loop a try at only 1.8 miles.

"G" on the Vaya

The Early Mountain Bike Loop is rated as a blue diamond trail. As you can tell from the pictures above it is in a pine forest. Bryan the guy who worked with the park and cut all if not most of the trail himself did a fantastic job of using the topography developing a fun flowing trail. I would rate the trail family friendly and for the beginner.

After that little taste we were up for doing the Burnside Technical Mountain Bike Trail.This trail is rated black diamond

Once again great use of topography and flow. My picture does not do the trail justice, but what you are looking at are 6 whoop-de-dos. If I remember correctly there are two sections of these. The second set are deeper at about 4-5 feet.

Bryan did a great job on both of these trails. I did take a crash on the Burnside and I did find it harder to ride but I think that was mostly due to the gearing on the MB-1

After we finished riding both trails it was time for some lunch.I had carried everything in my Wingnut Enduro.

I had been wanting to do a ride and a lunch on the trail for sometime and High Bridge is a good place to do this. During are time on the single track and eating lunch the temperature had warmed up and made for a hard ride back to the car. The top of the trail had thawed out causing the tires to sink a bit.

Maybe it was the trail or riding single track on the MB-1, but I felt like I had experienced mountain biking like it started out some 20 plus years ago. Riding then was about adventure and those that did not come out to ride with us missed it.

09 February 2015

Bikewright Workshop Project- Diamondback Apex

In the 80’s mountain biking was new and it was all about adventure. Back then mountain bikes had relaxed geometries and longer chain stays. You will find that most all of these bikes from that era had rack and fender mounts, some came with three water bottle mounts and many had mounting locations for low riding front pannier racks.

I was inspired a few months ago when I was on a couple of other blog type sites and saw what others had done in rebuilding and re-purposing bicycles. I would call them purposed built and they looked better in their resurrected state than they did originally.

My interest peaked on this subject and I wanted to see what I could myself. Do I rebuild a road bike or a touring bike? After searching many resources for a complete bike or frame to start with my project. I found nothing in size, price point or in the condition I was looking for.

Then I changed my focus. I started looking at older steel mountain bikes and frames. Call it what you will, but I started thinking about world touring, expedition or mountain touring. All of these types of bikes are based on the 26 inch wheel bike. Modern mountain bikes in the United States come in 3 different wheel sizes. That’s not the same case in the developing world. The 26 inch wheel size is what you will find.

With that said, this is how the Bikewright Workshop Project got started. I have now found that project frame.

This is a 1989/1990 Diamondback Apex. With Tange double-butted frame set and straight leg cro-mo fork. This bike met the requirements that I was looking for. It's steel, has rack a fender mounts, comes with two water bottle mounts and has a mounting point on the front fork of low riding front pannier racks

Diamondback Apex">

Straight leg fork. Good view of the mounting point for the low riding front pannier rack.
Diamondback Apex">

The Apex has a 1 inch head tube. I believe that is a Dia-Comp Headset. Just needs some cleaning and new grease.
Diamondback Apex">

Reinforced seat tube
Diamondback Apex">

No rust in the bottom bracket but the chain stay has a rock dig. Didn't see that online...But I can get that fixed!
Diamondback Apex">

Shark Fin chain stay protector.
Diamondback Apex">

The paint scheme is called "Smoke". What is interesting about the paint scheme that you cannot see in the pictures is that there is a pearl in it. When the light hits it just right you see a light purple and blue color in the "Smoke". The paint on this frame has seen it's better days. Since I need to have the rock ding fixed and I would like to put one set of water bottle mounts on the down tube, it will have to be repainted.

First up on my to do list will be to (1) clean and inspect the frame (2)remove the headset and shark fin and (3)fix the rock ding and add water bottle mounts.

26 January 2015

Bikewright Workshop Project

Inspired by the movie Breaking Away and the TV show by the same name, Greg Lemond’s three historic Tour De France wins and my first 50 mile ride while earning the cycling merit badge as a Scout. Sealed my love of the sport of cycling and the love of the bicycle simplistic style and function.

While I love the modern day advancements to the bicycle and components. The classic triangles and the lines of fine steel-lugged tubing builds the framework of a classic bicycle. Anyone who loves art can appreciate a bicycle’s simple form and function. While forever enamored with beautiful vintage steel bicycles from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, I am by no means purists.

Indulges over the last few years of rebuilding my own vintage mountain bikes and the commissioning of a builder to produce a custom bicycle for myself. I have a goal and desire to keep these fine bicycles and works of art, on the road for as long as possible.

With that, I am going to start a series on the blog the called the Bikewright Workshop Project. My intent with this project is to exclusively rebuild and reinterpret used steel bicycles and frames for builds. The Bikewright Workshop Project will focus on a couple of main themes. First, will be the use of quality used steel bicycles or frames. Second, will the selection of build types. I will primarily look at building touring, mountain touring, commuting, randonneuring or brevets, and road bikes. Third, is building a bike that will be durable, comfortable and will last many years. Lastly building a bike that will have its own personality and spirit.

But why ride used vintage steel when you can buy a reasonably priced bike at your LBS that is brand new? Well that's a good question that I hope I can answer.

Because these bicycles are older does not mean they are of a lower quality. Today’s production bikes are simply not built to last a lifetime. Aluminum, while cheaper to manufacture in bulk, is prone to failure and fatigue. Aluminum in my opinion is a less forgiving ride. While carbon frames are lightweight and provide a quality ride, they are also very vulnerable to damage. Let’s not forget about titanium! A top-end frame material with low weight, has flex and is rust free. It does come with a cost. A cost which most riders cannot afford. During my life I have had a bicycle made from these materials and I find myself loving the ride qualities of steel.

Steel has proven over the years to be a superior bicycle frame material; it is strong, durable, and provides a comfortable ride quality. Plus there are plenty of steel-lugged frames from 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s to provide the framework of rebuilding and reinterpretation of these bicycles.

In many instances, the construction and components they possess are better than their modern counterparts. I plan to use a mix of old school and new components that have stood the test of time and where I can plan to use American made products to make the best build possible.

13 January 2015

Adventures and Projects for this year

I have spent a lot of time this past year surfing the web,reading blogs,journals and websites of the things that I like. I have been doing that more than posting things here on my own blog BIKEWRIGHT. I have some ideas that I think that will be fun to share with the folks that visit the blog.

This year there are plans for mini-adventures, S24O rides and hikes and a GORUCK Light just for a little "Good Livin". There are also a couple of projects in the works. I am looking at building a nice Home Bike Workshop and looking at building a monstercross bike and a touring/brevet bike.

I think the bike projects will be really fun to build and fun to ride. I am looking at both bikes will be built around steel frames and different components that will make them truly unique. The touring/brevet bike I am going to look at a "reinterpretation" of an old touring bike from the 70', 80, or early 90's. I can't wait until I get that project started.

Since I will be building both of these for myself to ride and have fun with. I am looking at some companies products that I believe will make them truly unique. If you are one of the 3 people that follow the blog you will know that I like things that are purpose built and will last a longtime.

One of those companies is Gevenalle or use to be called Retroshift. They have developed some
innovative solutions for cyclocross and I think will work well into one if not both of my projects. Now I have never used or seen their products in person but this is what I like about it. Gevenalle focus on producing products that provide both advantage, affordability, more durable, reliable and my favorite ability of service and repair.

So stick with me this year! I think we will have a good time

01 January 2015

Let's Talk About Bicycle Tool Kits- Field Repairs

On a hot and humid Virginia weekend in July I went out for a quick ride in the park. This was one of the few days that I took my Wingnut pack with me on a ride. I had loaded it up with some water, tool kit and a mini pump. Just a few miles into my ride I rode up on a female rider walking her bike. I asked if she needed anything and she said a pump.

Long story short her and her adult daughter were out riding and she got a rear flat tire. Neither of them had a spare tube, pump, patch kit or any tools. They also did not know how to fix the flat. I had everything with me that was needed to make the repair. I told them that the local REI gave basic bicycle repair classes and that it would be good for them to attend. She wanted to get my contact info to send me money for the repair. I told her I would not take the money but she could give to one of the local trail groups that take care of the local trails.

Back on my bike,I had rode off from them and five minutes later wouldn't you know it I get a flat tire. I will let you guess where my spare tube is and the first two don't count. Yep, that's right it's on the other bike I just fixed. Okay no problem. I have a Park Glueless Patch Kit with me. I am down to one Co2 cartridge. I make the repair and what do you know, there is another hole in the tube. One patch later and about 100 million strokes with the pump I got the tire fixed and I call the ride short.

On my way back to the house I was thinking I was pleased that my repair kit set-up was able to fix three flats. But it did get me thinking did I have everything that I needed for repairs in the field. So for the next couple of weeks I research the internet to see what others were carrying and different methods of repair.

I was amazed of all the different types of kits that riders had put together. What I found covered about every type of riding out there. But one of the things I could not find out was what were people thinking about when they put there kit together. I mean they had tools and a patch kit but there seem something was missing. Riders carry their kits in seat bags, zip-lock bags, stuff sacks inside backpacks and tool rolls.

I have posted before about building a tool kit. You can read here,here,and here.

After my research and reviewing my own set-up I figure that there needs to be more of a system than a kit. Now this works for me and might not work for you, but I hope to get you thinking about what you carry on your rides for making field repairs.

Here are some of my requirements:
1) No seat bags/saddle bag/seat wedges are to be used. Sure I have used them in the pass and I do not like them. It seems to me that I either have to much room (makes noise)or too little room(can't fit the tube in with the tools). I also don't like them other other riders bikes. It just kills me when someone has a nice sweet ride and their seat bag just kills the look of the overall bike.

2)I have to have the right tube for the right bike. I have three bikes, two of which are 26" and one being 700cc. Depending on my tire set-up I could have couple of different tube sizes. In the pass I have had the wrong size with me or forgot the tube.

3) The basic system should cover everything I need from a one hour ride to all day. Both road or mountain.

4) There is a reason for every item in the kit and that I don't need to carry five ways to fix a flat.

5) The tool Kit has to fit in a jersey pocket.

Since I do not ride a tubeless or disk brake set-ups, I am not going to cover that here. For those that do please share in the comments section on what you carry. I think my system method would still work for you.

The first part of my repair kit system is the tube/Co2/tire lever. I like using the Backcountry Research Tube Tarp and CAMRAT Road Saddle Mount. On my cross bike

Tube Tarp and CAMRAT no bigger than my cell phone.

The Tube Tarp and CAMRAT mounted under the saddle. There is a 20g Co2 cartridge and a Pedros tire lever packed with the tube.

I use a Co2 inflator (threaded) as my first means of putting air in my tire. Yes these are pricey but I want to ride, not pump a tire up all day. I notice that a lot of riders carry two tire levers. Most of the reasons stated online was if one breaks. In almost 20 years of riding I have never had a tire lever break. Matter of fact I still have the Park tire levers I purchase in the mid 90's. I like the wide Pedro's lever for a couple of reasons. One is I can get a better grip with the wider style lever than a narrow lever. Second the wider lever helps when strapping down the tube, Co2 cartridge, and lever to the seatpost or steam. Park Tools, Pedro's and I know Bontrager all make wide levers.

One the mountain bikes I use a ByeKyle Strap on the seat post. Same set-up tube/Co2/tire lever. There is a bit of an art to fold the tube up to make it small and flat.

Here is an example of my tube/Co2/lever kit strapped to the seatpost of my MB-1 with a ByeKyle strap.

The second part of the system is the tool kit it's self. The Backcountry Research Tulbag is what I use to carry my tool kit components in. It meets the requirement of fitting in my jersey pocket. The Tulbag has a anti-slip or a grip side to it that keeps the tool kit in your pocket no matter how rough the road or trail gets.

The items that I have selected for my style of riding might be different from yours. If you carry something different that is great. I had to put a lot of thought into what I was going to carry in the kit. Remember the same kit had to fit in my jersey pocket and it had to work with both road and off-road riding.

The components in the kit are:
Bicycle multi-tool-(I use use the Crank Brothers 17 tool. The brand is not important. What is important is that you have the tools needed for your bike and know how to use them).
Multi-tool- (I use a Leatherman Micra. It has all the tools I can think that I would every need in a tool kit.)
Tire Boot- (Park Tools tire boot. Yes a dollar or a energy bar wrapper will work!But the Park tire boot will hold up better in off-road conditions. )
Co2 Cartridge and Inflator- (I wrap a couple of feet of 100mph aka duct tape around the cartridge. I can use it to make a tire boot or treat a blister on the back of a heel. The uses are endless.I could use a smaller inflator head but I have this one and it works.)
Zip Ties-(Just like duct tape you can fix about anything with a few zip ties. One I had not thought about but I have had it happen to me before is that the freehub breaks. You can zip tie the cassette to your spokes so it will turn with the wheel and just not spin free.)
Chain oil
Quick links and section of chain
Chain pin
Presta Adapter
Glueless Patch Kit- (I use the Park glueless patch kit. Tip Use you tire lever to smooth the patch and put pressure on the patch. Wait a few minutes to let it set before putting air in the tube.)

Adding a mini-pump to this system should round out the kit. This system should take care of all the repairs that you would need to make from that hours ride on your favorite trail or that training ride on the the road. Since I do not ride tubeless or disk break set-ups you will need to make adjustments for that. I would like to hear what they are so please post in the comments section.

Without a doubt the best tool you can care with you is knowledge. Learn how to make repairs in the field. Find a Park Tool School at your local shop or REI Has basic repair classes just to name a few.

I will follow-up with another post that will add to this kit for all day epics, touring and bikepacking.