Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pugsley Wednesday

I wanted to change things up a bit on "single speed Wednesday" just to do something different. I walked out in the garage this morning and eyed the bikes. The Pugs appealed to me most.

My son had a minimum day, so I was pressed for time. I decided I would start at Beal's Point and ride along the water until I hit 10 miles, and then headed back on trails.

One of the terms that fat bike riders use a lot is "floatation," which is used to describe how the fat tires ride on top of soft surfaces like sand and snow. The GPS data would seem to indicate that the tires also float on water, but I assure you they do not. Obviously the lake is just low.

The ride along the water was blissfully free of people, but there were plenty of creatures to keep me company.

No one for miles . . .

 . . . until I came across a fisherman. You can just see his car peeking above the sand. He wasn't thrilled to see me.

The farther north you go, the rockier it gets.

I like the silhouette of this heron against the silvery water.

Riding back on the trails wasn't as much fun or relaxing as riding by the water, but still great. The Pugs is a completely different beast on singletrack. Going up hills can be a chore, but flying down is awesome.

I made it back to the truck with enough time to grab some lunch and head back towards home before school got out.

It was a good ride, but next time I will go back to the single speed, which is a better choice for someone with limited time. The Pugs is a bike built for meandering and exploration.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quick Trip

I had to make a quick run up to Tahoe to attend an HOA meeting, which was scheduled for earlier this morning. Knowing I had to rush home right after the meeting, I took Friday off work so I could at least get a ride in.

Since I only had time for one ride, I needed to get my money's worth. I mapped out a ride that would include two of my favorite trails—the Diamond Peak Flume (DPF) and the Rim Trail from Marlette to Tunnel Creek. However, I had never done these two trails on the same ride.

The basic route was up Highway 431, the Diamond Peak Flume, up Tunnel Creek, Flume Trail, around Marlette Lake, up and down the Rim Trail, and back down Tunnel Creek. You can see the GPS output here.

After a nice four-mile pavement climb to warm up, I hit the DPF.

This mostly flat trail is just a lot of fun.

The DPF descends at the end and drops you onto Tunnel Creek. After climbing for another mile you hit the Flume Trail. I rode straight through to Marlette Lake. That peak you see across the lake is where I was headed.

After some steep, sandy climbing this is the view from the other side. You can see the little inlet where I took the previous picture. Lake Tahoe is obviously in the background.

After Marlette Peak, most of the work is done and it's eight miles of downhill. The first part of the Rim Trail is wide open and fast.

The rolling downhill is a blast to carve down.

After that, you enter the boulders, which are prevalent for the rest of the Rim Trail. While very, very fun, this part of the downhill seems to go on forever. Muscling the bike over and around the rocks, roots and granite slabs gets tiring.

In years past, I never stopped during rides. Thankfully I feel compelled to take pictures now, which was a great excuse to give my arms and hands a break. This is Washoe Lake to the east.

The ride ends with the Tunnel Creek downhill and a roll back through town. I have to say, this ride kicked my butt a little bit. It was only 31 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing, but it felt like much more.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday SS

I finally got off my lazy duff last night and made sure everything was prepared for a single speed ride on my day off today. After dropping the boy off at school, I made my way down to Hazel and was riding before eight o'clock. The morning was calm and quiet—barely a ripple on Lake Natoma.

I made my way to Donton's Point and may have taken some trails that were not quite legal to ride on. I figured if the state doesn't have enough money to pay me, surely they aren't going to be worrying about something as trivial as a little trail poaching.

After stopping at my turnaround point for a protein bar, I headed back and enjoyed the mostly downhill return trip. When I popped out on the trail that crosses over the road near the Beal's Point entrance, a ranger was waiting there for me. I put my head down and calmly hung a right and rolled toward the exit. As I sat waiting for the traffic light to cross Auburn-Folsom Road, his engine started up. I was done for.

I waited for him to approach, but when the light turned green I slowly hung a left and rode down Auburn-Folsom Road. I never turned to look back, so I don't know if he missed the light or what, but I never saw him again. What mattered was my streak of 28 years without a citation was still intact.

On the way back I stopped to take a picture of these resting gulls, cormorants and mergansers . . .

when the geese came in to crash the party.

I decided to stick to the legal trails just in case Ranger Rick decided to phone a friend.

While the multi-use trails are fun, they aren't nearly as fun as the illegal ones on the other side of the lake. Plus, you get the added joy of getting attitude from all the runners and walkers you pass—not something you have to deal with on the illegal trails, ironically enough. Nobody uses them.


I ended up with about 33 miles, which was just about right for the first single speed ride in a while. The old legs were feeling it a bit.

After lunch and a shower at home, I picked up the boy and we waited for the bus to take him to his cross country race at a neighboring school. It was his first race this year and he showed a lot of improvement over last year.

He placed 21st overall in his grade, but more importantly 3rd for his school. The top seven kids from each school get to go to finals, which he barely missed last year.

After the race we treated ourselves to a big box of Jimboy's tacos and burritos in all their greasy, gooey, glorious goodness.

I'm betting my Wednesday was better than what most people experienced.


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

LD Weekend

We spent the Labor Day weekend in Tahoe. This will likely be the last Tahoe weekend for a while due to my son starting fall baseball next week.

On Saturday we took it easy and goofed around in town. We usually hit the two thrift shops in Incline just for fun, but this time I was on a mission to find a helmet. It seems every visit I forget something, and this time it was my son's helmet.

I found a nice one that fit well, and at only five bucks the price was right. Unfortunately it was a snowboard helmet. And bright yellow. Still, if we wanted to ride I had to get it.

I also found a perfect pair of Shimano Mountain Bike shoes. These things may have been worn once. Not a mark on them. They were four bucks. They are just a tiny bit too small for me, so I put them on eBay. I stand to make a tidy profit.

On Sunday we rode from outside of Tahoe City to Squaw Valley.

The ride to Squaw is pretty easy since it's all downhill along the river. On the way back Spencer had to work a bit on his BMX bike. Notice the sweet helmet.

Jen's jersey would have matched her helmet or Spencer's.

We knocked out 16 miles. It was pretty fun except for dealing with the completely oblivious people walking on the trails. It astounds me how dumb people are. On multiple occasions I had people step right in front of me without even looking. I mean, the trail is FULL of bikes, and they just don't seem to notice. Bizarre.

On Monday I went for a mountain bike ride. I rode through town, up the highway to the Diamond Peak Flume, and down Tunnel Creek. See the route here.

Earlier this year, this was a limbo log. Someone hauled a chainsaw in recently and cut it.

This is probably my favorite short ride right now. I really love this trail.

I never get tired of the views.

We reluctantly headed home on Monday afternoon. It's a bummer we won't be back for a while, but that's OK. You have to let the kids play sports.


Saturday, September 01, 2012

Beer Review: Moylan's Orange and Black Congrats Ale

I picked up this beer at a local Total Wine & More well over a month ago. Although I drink pale ales and IPAs almost exclusively, how could I not pick up this black ale dedicated to the Giants' World Series win?

It sat in the refrigerator for a long time while I grabbed the IPAs stored all around it. But a trip to Tahoe and a bit cooler weather put me in the mood for something darker.

The reviewers on Beer Advocate didn't rate this beer very highly, but Jenn and I liked it.

Jenn is a porter drinker, so it wasn't a surprise when she liked it. This black ale was very similar to a porter.

I can't break down a beer like some beer reviewers. Frankly, I think if you can taste 15 different flavors in a beer you are just imagining things.

The beer was smooth with hints of coffee and chocolate. The orange was difficult to taste for me. If I hadn't seen it on the label, I probably would not have detected it.

Verdict: If you are a Giants fan you should pick up an Orange and Black. If you are a Dodgers fan, pass on this one and use the six bucks to get yourself a case of something that better represents your character, something in Dodger blue.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Uncle Jerry's Day Off

I'm not sure I like this guy so much.

Every time he opens his mouth I seem to lose money. Every time I see him I feel a little Newman.

Hello . . . JERRY!
In the end his attacks on us as state workers will be worse than anything Arnold ever did. His pension reform plans will put the hurt to a lot of people, especially those families like mine with dual state worker incomes.

So why am I talking politics on this cycling blog? I'm getting there. Stay with me.

Currently we are enjoying a "personal leave program" where we must take an unpaid day off every month. Sounds like a furlough, doesn't it? It is in every sense except the impressive new name. Kind of like how a garbage man is now called a "refuse engineer."

So Jen and I both used our personal leave days today. This morning we realized we had the day to ourselves, with both kids at school and an empty house. Well, that's when things got interesting. Our eyes met and I immediately knew she wanted what I wanted. We both smiled and went upstairs. I led her to the bedroom and we both took all our clothes off . . . and slipped into our cycling gear.

We went on a nice 20 mile ride. It was a cool, breezy morning that felt more like October than August. It was the first time I have been cold this year, which was nice.

So thanks for the day off, Jerry. You're a real pal.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to School

When I woke up yesterday I had every intention of doing a single speed ride after dropping the boy off at school. Unfortunately, the motivation tapered off quickly. Getting all the gear together to mountain bike is a hassle. Instead I dropped the boy off at school and went right back home. After quickly getting dressed and filling up some water bottles, I hopped on the Fargo and took off.

My goal was to get about 40 miles, so I mapped out a ride in my head that I thought would fit the bill. Rather than describe the route, you can check it out here.

The morning was cool, which was nice. I have had my fill of summer. I have also had my fill of turkeys. The damn things are everywhere.

Lately I have been enamored with the water. I don't care if it's a river, lake or the ocean. I want to live by a body of water. I would even settle for this, especially since there is a trail between this house and the water.

Even though it wasn't the original plan, I enjoyed my first Wednesday ride of the school year. Hopefully I am better prepared on my next day off in two weeks so I can break out the single speed.


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Sliming of the Tubes

As we move into the latter part of summer, it's time to prepare for the annual war against goatheads. There are bad years and horrible years, and this year is merely bad due to the dry winter. Still, the damn things are everywhere.

Every year I have to choose a bike and a strategy. Last year I bought some fancy tires for my road bike that worked pretty well until I pretty much cut one in half.

In previous years I used sealant in my tubes, which works OK for thorns. However, anything larger than a pinhole usually won't seal up and might get messy. Once I hit a piece of glass that made a small cut in the tire and tube. The sealant spurted out all over the place as I rolled to a stop. I had green goo all over my bike, my clothes and my legs. It was awful.

This year I bought a bunch of 29er tubes made by QBP that have removable valve cores. This makes it much easier to inject the sealant.

I went with Slime this year because it's cheap and mostly effective. I'm sure a latex-based sealant like Stan's is better, but it is more expensive.

Pro tip: a 12-gauge spoke wrench fits the valve core flats perfectly.

I installed the tubes on the Fargo. It's not like the extra weight will really affect that tank of a bike.

Here's to a relatively flat-free thorn season.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

End of Summer

Although the calendar might beg to differ, for our family summer drew to a close this past weekend. Grade school starts tomorrow and high school on Thursday, so we spent the weekend in Tahoe to close out the kids' summer vacation.

We spent Saturday walking around Incline Village, hitting garage sales and thrift stores, and relaxing.

On Sunday we went on a ride around the Tahoe City area on various bike trails, some of which we had never been on. All told we rode over 16 miles, which was a personal best for the boy.

On Monday I went exploring and found some new trails west of the old State Route 431 (which is now a dirt road). Some of the trails were nice, but I also did a little bushwhacking.

I think for the most part the trail is used as a downhill shuttle run from the highway. The stunts I found would seem to support that.

I finished up with a run down the Tyrolean Downhill, which is a local favorite. Most guys shuttle it with downhill bikes, but it's not so technical it can't be done on a hardtail, albeit a bit slower.

It was the first time I have done this downhill since I broke my wrist. I made it down alive, so that was nice.

Here's a video of someone motoring down. The section between minutes six and eight is the most difficult, and steeper than it looks on camera.

Obviously school starting will not prevent us from spending weekends in Tahoe, but it does complicate things and shortens our typical stay from three to two days.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More Krampus

Here are a couple videos introducing the Krampus. I am not excited about this bike at all.

OK, maybe a little.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dear Santa

Please bring me a Krampus for Christmas. No, not your creepy buddy who eats children. I want Surly's new bike that will eat trails instead.

Thanks, Santa. You're the best.