Thursday, April 13, 2017

You Know You're Old When . . .

In late November my coworker Rob retired. His love for the fanny pack was always a source of playful jabs, and also more than a little mystery. We always wondered: "What the hell is in that thing?"

As a tribute to Rob we all decided to dress in his likeness for the retirement sendoff—convertible pants, beer/wolf T-shirts and fanny packs. Javi picked up a bunch of fanny packs at the auction for seven bucks each and we were in business.

After the party I threw the pack in a corner and forgot about it. I had no intention of ever using it because, well, fanny packs are for old guys.

One day I prepared for a ride and realized the laundry situation was a little grim. Typically for local rides I use a traditional three-pocket road jersey to carry all my crap. I had nothing but baggy mountain bike jerseys and therefore no cargo capacity. I was only going out for an hour or so, and a hydration pack would have been overkill, especially on that cool day. Looking in the corner I saw the fanny pack. I sighed and thought, what the hell.

I used it for that ride and had to admit it was pretty awesome. I don't especially like wearing tight-fitting road jerseys anymore, so having the ability to wear a baggy jersey and still carry my phone, tools and keys comfortably was great. As a bonus, I could barely tell it was there.

My only issues with that particular pack were the zippers rattling together (noises drive me insane) and the narrow belt. I thought a wider belt might be more comfortable and stable.

I found this Dakine pack and thought it fit the bill.

It's comfortable, has a separate pocket for my phone, doesn't rattle, and even has an extendable pocket for a spare water bottle. And best of all, it has a tag on it that says "this is a legit mountain bike product," which makes me feel a little less dorky. But just a little.


Thursday, April 06, 2017


Yesterday I rode home from work again, but this week was a bit different. Last week I finished and told myself, You're old, fat, slow, and nobody likes you.

Last night I rolled up the driveway and had a Stuart moment:

"I'm thin enough, I'm fast enough, and doggone it people like me."

I finished in 3:04, shaving a full 24 minutes off my time from the previous week. I am in no way under the misconception that my fitness has increased that much in one week. As I have mentioned numerous times before, sometimes you just have good legs.

Here are a few pictures:

Next week, weather permitting, my time will likely be closer to 3.5 hours and I can go back to hating myself again.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

First Commute

Yesterday I rode home for the first time this year. It's always one of the harder rides of the year as I make the transition from "winter riding" to spring. I am always a year older, a pound heavier and a little slower than the year before.

I rode at a very moderate pace because I was apprehensive about the distance. Most of my rides lately have been 60 to 90 minutes in duration, and the ride home from work usually takes around 3.5 hours.

There was an overall theme to the ride and it was this: abundance. There was a maddening quantity of insects on the bike trail . . .

a great deal of water flow in the river . . .

more greenery than I have seen in many years . . .

and more debris in the lake than I have ever seen.

The trails were in pretty good shape considering all the rain.

The 37 miles and 2500 feet of climbing took me just shy of 3.5 hours. It was definitely a tough introduction to spring, but the next one should be a little easier.


Sunday, January 01, 2017

Biker Bucks 2016

Last year I posted about my habit of picking up money when I ride. This year I picked up a lot more coins:

But the total was only $1.25. Also pictured are a few items that fooled me into stopping: a snowflake pendant, a Marvel Comics pendant, a slug and a video game token.

There's always next year.


Saturday, December 31, 2016


Good riddance 2016. You sucked.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

New Tool

I have used SRAM chains for many years now, the only non-Shimano part on my drivetrains. They are quieter and seem to last longer than their Shimano counterparts with only a very slight reduction in shifting efficiency.

Another bonus is the PowerLock connector. This connection device is far superior to Shimano's stupid drive-and-break-off pin.

After using the nine-speed version for years, which was easy to release without tools, I have struggled with the 10-speed.

The other day I needed to remove a link from the chain on my Canfield. After downsizing from a 32 to 30-tooth chainring, I had a little chain slack when in the highest gear. I tried for 15 minutes to get the link undone to no avail. (Yes, I know what I am doing.) I left the garage pretty angry.

To the bike shop!

Enter the Park MLP-1.2:

Using the tool I had the PowerLock undone, link removed, and chain reassembled in about 90 seconds. Sometimes you just need to fork out a few bucks for the right tool to save yourself a lot of frustration.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tahoe Plus

Back in September we took a quick overnight trip up to Tahoe to see my dad. Even though I would only have time for one short ride, and even though one short ride requires so much equipment, I went for it anyway.

I brought the Mason plus bike because I was dying to see how it performed in the late summer sand that prevails in the area. It did not disappoint.

I rode my favorite loop, which entails a road climb, singletrack along a ridge, and a descent down Tunnel Creek Road.

The climb up the road on three inch tires wasn't especially fun, but you just have to settle in for the long haul and realize that the good stuff is coming.

Once I turned onto the sandy singletrack, the long climb was forgotten. Plus sized tires are a perfect match for Tahoe terrain. After just a few turns I acclimated to how the bike handled in the decomposed granite, and I was motoring along. The trail is like a roller coaster, and with the Diamondback there was no flying off the rails.

There are two steep, sandy pitches on the trail that I have never cleaned on the same ride. I made it up one of them on my fat bike once, and that is it. On the Mason I made it up both.

On the descent I flew down at a responsible but fast speed. Tunnel Creek gets very sandy late in the season, but it wasn't much of an issue. This is one area where the fat bike is actually faster and more fun, but the plus is still good.

The industry is moving towards narrower plus tire sizes after originally starting at three inches, and that is probably a good thing. After riding the Krampus and Mason for a while, I think a full three-inch tire is overkill for most situations. However, there will always be places where big tires are the way to go, and Tahoe is one of them.