Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Meet Supertramp!

Been too busy riding this thing to blog about it! Here's my 2013 Surly Troll, aka "Supertramp". Why Supertramp? Well the band Supertramp from the 70s had some great songs, my favorite of which is "Take the long way home". This bike is all about doing just that. Adventuring, getting lost, and "hey what's down there" kind of riding. Also, I started building this on September 6th, which is the 20th anniversary of the discovery of Christopher McCandless' body. Morbid? A little. Christopher McCandless inspired the book/movie "Into the Wild", which is a great (real) tale of adventure. Chris' alias throughout his travels was "Alexander Supertramp". Enough of the nicknames, here's the bike.

The Build was a parts bin-budget build using some parts from my Pugsley (Pugs got upgrades!), parts from the forums, and stuff from the LBS.

Wheelset: Handbuilt Shimano M529 hubs, DT butted spokes, Stan's Flow rims (decals removed)
Tires: Continental XKing 2.4, tubeless
Crankset: Old LX triple
Derailleurs: LX rear, XT front
Shifters: Microshift Thumbies
Brakes: BB7
Misc: Salsa Stem, Mary bars, Race Face post, Selle Italia saddle
Cables: Jagwire Ripcord in Ergon Green
Headset: FSA Orbit
Pedals: Gusset Pinhead
Bags: Relevate Designs Tangle and Gas Tank
On pace to have 200 miles on it in the first month, which will be a record for any bike I've owned. This bike is ridiculously fun and comfortable. I can't wait to take it out of town and get lost for the day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another one?!

Adding a new bike to my stable, this one has big shoes to fill. I looked at my current bikes and tried to find something to fill in the gaps. Not wanting to have overlap, I chose the biggest gaps to fill.

1) Gravel. None of my bikes would inspire me to ride gravel all day.
2) Lock it up. None of my bikes would I want to scratch up/trust having locked up.
3) Ice. My Pugsley does great in the snow, but its encounters with ice usually knock me on my ass.
4) Braze-ons. The more, the better. Racks, bottle cages, anything cages, fenders, etc.
5) Disc Brakes. Winter/wet commuting is a lot safer with discs.
6) Enjoyment. Something that begs to be ridden, far and/or anywhere.
7) Not too pretty. See rule #2.

So looking at this list had me torn between a couple choices, either build something new like a Salsa Fargo or Surly Ogre, or find a nice old mountain bike and build it up my way. The problem with the Fargo is that it's "too nice", and it wouldn't meet rule #2. The problem with the Ogre is that it's the same geometry as the Surly Karate Monkey (which I've had, and don't like), and the curvy seat tube. The seat tube limits how far the seat can go down, therefore my wife couldn't ride it.

The old mountain bike idea is solid, and a popular choice among commuters, but it doesn't meet rules #5 or #6. Plus doing what I want to it would far exceed the value of the bike.

So enter the Surly Troll. Revised for 2013, this frame has a ton of #4's. Having seen their capability up close (read the blog!). This bike meets all 6 requirements and then some.

When the new frames became available, I quickly ordered one and a ton of parts. This build is going to be ugly. In a good way. Using most of the parts I have laying around from other bikes, and some used ones from the bike forums. There will be no being careful with wrenches, if it gets scratched, so be it. I may even take the decals off. Surly frames are built so well, that if I want to gussy it up years from now, I can re-powdercoat it and add new decals. This should be fun, assuming the rest of my parts come in...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cuyuna: The Hype is Real

I was switching the Black Floyd slick tires off of my Surly Pugsley this evening to put the knobby tires back on. My shirt and hands turned a lovely rust color....

2 weekends ago I headed up to Crosby, MN for an IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) Trail Building School. Crosby is where the Cuyuna State Recreation Area is, and it is absolutely mountain bike heaven. The hype is definitely real. Every blog, article, forum post you've ever read about it is absolutely true. Crosby and its neighboring town of Ironton were mining communities in the early 1900s, and what is now "Cuyuna" is built upon the tailings of the mines. The beautiful tire staining rust is iron ore, or what the locals call "Cuyuna Gold".

Beyond the draw of this park, the town itself is incredible. It's vibrant and thriving. Unlike many of the communities I drove through to get to Crosby, this town is hoppin'! Bike racks everywhere, people window shopping, old couples holding hands on the sidewalk. The trails have completely revitalized this community. I was blown away by the positive impact mountain biking can have. This town is a treasure! Beautiful scenery, expertly built trails, and something for everyone.

Now something for everyone would include beginners, and I had thoughts of bringing my family there to go riding, so I went and rode "Boot Camp" and "Easy Street". These are the easiest trails out of the 25 miles of singletrack that Cuyuna has to offer. These trails were every bit of fun as the harder trails! Super flowy with just enough twists, turns, and grade changes to make it "beginner" friendly but still a blast for those who have more advanced skills.

I ended up riding about 16 miles before packing it up and heading back to Crosby for dinner. After 3 hours of riding, I was tired, thirsty, and hungry! I stopped at the "Ya Betcha Bar and Grill" for an awesome burger and a frosty pint of Arrogant Bastard ale.

Bikes, Burgers, and Beer. Yup, Crosby has it all. Go and enjoy it!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Century Time

Yesterday I rode the 2012 Tour de Cure in Fargo. Finished with 102.1 miles on the day.

The weather was nasty, started rainy and somewhat chilly. Then lots of wind came to dry things out. For a while there we had a nice tailwind and were cruising well over 20mph for a stretch, but that was quickly negated by 25+mph headwinds that had us crawling at 11mph.  All in all though it was a good ride and it was nice to raise money for charity again.

My new Cannondale Synapse proved to be a good choice. Nice and comfortable just responsive when I wanted it to be. Really liking this bike so far, and it has less than 300 miles on it! Hoping to get the odometer over 700 or so by summer's end.

Friday, May 4, 2012


You know it's strange to be affected when a celebrity dies. Very rarely do I actually feel a "loss" when I read the news of a familiar name passes. Today is different. It's Adam Yauch, or "MCA". A voice that repeats often in my memory. When "License to Ill" dropped in 1986, I was 8 years old. I remember watching the "Fight for your right" video on MTV (Yes I remember when MTV actually planned music videos!) and wanting to throw an awesome party. I remember playing "Paul Revere" over and over in my pre-teen years and hiding it, like I would know I would get in trouble for listening to "that" kind of music. Middle school dances, High school parties, and even into my 30's, the Beastie Boys have been a part of my life. Random one liners from their list of songs frequently get repeated in my dialog, and I can still act a fool and nod my head to the beat of "Root Down" at a moment's notice. Today I feel the loss of a voice of my generation, and I can't help but be thankful to have the songs of the Beastie Boys be a part of my life. Much love and respect to Adam Yauch. Thanks for the jams. God just passed you the mic.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I feel weird

I drove two days in a row this week. I haven't done that in a long time. The wind was blowing up to 50mph, which is beyond insane to be out on a bike in. Considering that my Father-In-Law's Jeep has been sitting in my driveway for a couple months without moving, it was an easy out. The Jeep needed to move, and I needed a ride. Without inconveniencing my wife, I had a way to get to work that didn't involve my normal backup plan. My feet. I feel dirty. I'm gonna hide the keys now.

Speaking of my feet, I gave into coworker peer pressure and registered for a 5k. I'm not a runner. In fact, I hate running. I've always hated it, even since middle school. I've never been athletic, so running is truly foreign to me. But I need to change my exercise habits to include things other than cycling. This challenge is proving to be a welcomed one. My first attempts feel very odd, but I can concentrate on my form and do my best to learn "the right way".

Driving? Running? WTF is happening?! Weirdness I say.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Road season is early!

What the heck happened to winter? It's over 50 degrees in mid-March, the snow is going away quickly, and there are a lot of walkers and joggers out. Since I finished my Romic project bike yesterday, I figured today would be great for it's maiden voyage.

A quick 20 mile jaunt to a neighboring town. A loop I've done a few times before, and it's one of my favorite "I only have this much time to ride" destinations. I don't know how many miles have been put on this 38 year old bicycle, but I can tell you that I will be putting a lot more on as time goes on!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snowpacolypse Failed/Goodbye Bikes

The 10-14" of snow that was due to fall a couple days ago ended up dropping less than 5". Plus it's somewhat warm out (for this time of year) so it's melting already. The wet slushy snow and melted runoff is sure making a mess of man and machine! I'm so glad I found a reasonable fender solution for the Pugsley. Using the SKS Mud-X up front and the SKS Grand M.O.M. on the rear, I've been able to stay fairly dry as long as I make sure to slow down before hitting big puddles. Here's the latest incarnation of the Pugsley Super Commuter:

Goodbye Bikes:

I sold my Surly CrossCheck. The love/hate relationship with it was too much, and everytime I looked at it, I just saw dollar signs. Surly's outstanding resale value means more toys for me. So the proceeds went to pay for the Romic project and the new Husker Du tire on the Pugsley. There might even be change leftover. We'll see.

I also sold the Itoh fixed gear bike. I'm not the single speed type. It gets windy here, and the tall gearing was just too much for my knees on days with headwinds. Plus I hate checking the weather to see if it's a "ride" day. I replaced it already with a touring bike. More on that in another post.

Friday, January 20, 2012

American Dreamin'

I love bikes. I think about them a lot. One of my recent thoughts was about American made bikes and parts. This was spawned by Velocity Rims moving production from Australia to the US, and recent blog postings from master frame builder Bruce Gordon. His revived Society of People Who Make Their Own Shit really got me thinking. Is it possible to build a bike with all domestic parts? The answer came quick when you look at the consumables, like tires, chains, tubes, cables, etc. as no one makes these parts here. So no, it can't be done in this day and age. Unfortunately.

Then of course the more I look into it, the more I realized that even if everything was made here, I wouldn't be able to afford it! Some of the best bike parts are made right here, but they aren't cheap. There are a 100+ world class framebuilders constructing beautifully crafted bicycles here in the US too, but most of them won't pick up the phone unless you've got $1000+ willing to be spent on a bare frame. Way out of my league at this time. (Someday, someday)

So how is one person on a budget (hey, that's me) going to ever get an American bike? Buy used of course. Since I know how this vision looks in my head, I needed to narrow it down even further. Steel. Lugs. American. Forged dropouts, Threaded fork. Not super hard to find either, and of course, it would need to be affordable. So these requirements led me to Trek, circa 1986 and prior. Trek made some great bikes right here on US soil, and they were popular, therefore making them easy to find. Hell, even my Xtracycle Trek 850 has a "manufactured in the USA" decal on it. I thought I had it all figured out. But I wasn't excited. Treks are still popular and I see them all over. That's no fun, I want special!

Enter Kansas.

During my family vacation to Oklahoma, I started scouring ebay and Craigslist for possible bikes to take home, since the market around a 150 mile radius of my house is a dud. I found an interesting post on CL and send the guy an email. He said he had over 30 road bikes and it would be worth my time to stop by. I let this prospect bounce around in my brain all weekend. I didn't commit to stopping by until we were already enroute to Kansas. I'll spare the details of the barns, sheds, and grain silos that bikes were piled in and get to the point. The key part is that when that door opened, I saw green and chrome. No other bikes mattered. What is it? How old is it? Where have I heard that name before? I handed my wife my iPhone to do some Googling, and I looked at other bikes to see if there was something in my price range. Nothing else got me as excited as that green and chrome bike. I offered every cent I had on me, and negotiated like it was a life or death situation. Then I strapped the green and chrome thing to the car and drove home. The American Dream has begun, at less than the price of the taiwan-built frameset it will be replacing. Oh boy.

So here she is!

Exciting huh? That's what I bought. A completely incomplete and non-functional project. A very special American made frame and fork, built in 1974 by Romic Cycles in Houston, Texas. First generation Shimano Dura Ace components that someone painted black. A whole lot of work ahead, and decisions to be made. This is going to be fun. Since the snow and ice outside will prevent me from riding it for a few months, I have time to track down whatever bits and pieces I want to make it exactly like it appears in my head. Like my American Dream. Just with some Japanese and English parts here and there too :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2012 Riding Goals

Well I learned last year that my mileage goal was easily achieved, so this year I'm raising it. This year will bring in a new (old) road bike, which will inspire longer rides. So here's what I'm thinking...

Mileage: 2500. More than I did last year, but still attainable.


-I'll be doing the MS150 again, and hopefully the weather will cooperate this year to allow a double century. 100 miles days, back to back.

-Do more Sabin runs. It's a 20 mile round trip from my house and it's an enjoyable route. I just need to get off my ass and do it more often.

-Bikepacking more. At least twice this year! My friend Phil gave me some really nice panniers, they need to be used!

-200k Brevet. 124.27 miles. It'll be the longest one-day distance I've ever done. With an organized group like the Minnesota Randonneurs would be cool, but solo is fine too.

-Become a better rider in the wind. I usually chicken out if it's blowing over 15mph, I need to just get out there and fight it.

-Detroit Lakes lunch ride. Repeat goal from last year I never made it around to.

That's all for now, I might add more later. As I dive into this new project bike, I'm sure I'll be inspired to come up with more.