Thursday, February 05, 2015


I went out for a nice single speed ride yesterday after work. It's a huge pain to load everything up in the morning, store my bike in a locker at work, put it back on the car after work, drive to my destination, change clothes, gear up and ride. I always dread it, at least until I am actually out riding.

I started at Folsom Bike and rode up the bike trail towards Beal's Point where I hit the dirt.

I rode out to Granite Bay and did two loops around the area. I was surprised how damp and grippy the soil was considering we haven't had any rain in a month.

On the way back I had to hit the lights.

I rode for about a half hour in the dark. Normally I ride with two lights, but I was being lazy, so I just used one on the bars. I couldn't see a thing in turns. Next time I will also put a light on my helmet.

Last time I rode single speed I was on my orange Waltworks. After not riding the bike for a while, and getting used to the Canfield's upright position, I really didn't like the low handlebar height. I am 47 years old and I have been in a hunched over "racing position" for 30 years. I don't want to do it anymore. Enter the blue Waltworks.

The frame originally started life as a geared bike in 2006. In 2009 I hade a local guy convert it to a single speed by installing an eccentric bottom bracket. I always meant to get it repainted and built up, but never did. It hung in the garage for over five years.

The fork is 40mm longer than the orange bike's. The increased fork height combined with the riser bars made for a much more comfortable position.

I had a Bushnell EBB once, which is an expanding wedge unit, and it was horrible. It creaked, clicked and slipped. You had to grease the hell out of it, and re-grease it frequently.

I went with a pinch bolt unit this time, and it works great. This is the quietest bike I have ever ridden. It was almost too quiet in the dark woods; I could hear lots of creatures scurrying about as I passed though the darkness.

One thing I never considered was how the EBB would affect my rear tire clearance. The original frame's bottom bracket, which was cut out and discarded, was 73mm. While the aluminum EBB insert is a standard 68mm, the actual steel part of the frame is only 60mm, so I lost 13mm in width. That's a lot of tire clearance to lose. Added to that, the increased diameter of the bottom bracket requires the chainstays to be shortened and squeezed together even more.

When I moved the wheels from the orange bike to the blue one, the nubs on the rear tire were hitting the chainstays, and the knobs were far too close for comfort.

A few weeks ago I bought a WTB Nine Line tire for another bike. After mounting it up, I immediately took it back off. It was ridiculously narrow for a 2.25 inch tire.

It measures a whopping 2.044 inches. Stupid. It should be labeled as a 2.0 for sure.

However, its narrow profile made it the perfect candidate for the rear end of this bike.

Being narrow and having low, closely spaced knobs, it wasn't the greatest tire for climbing out of the saddle. It slipped a lot. If I keep this bike, I will have to find something better.

This is an old bike with old geometry, and it rides like it. Nobody uses a 72 degree head angle anymore. It was a handful on high speed descents, especially in the dark. I can't help but wonder if selling both Waltworks single speeds and getting something newer would be the way to go.


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Crazy Town

I went out for a 35-mile ride today. The ride itself wasn't anything that exciting—two laps on a local loop with just a little dirt thrown in.

Looking to the east, the Sierras that were clearly visible Friday were obscured by haze and smoke.

The first lap was uneventful; I rode nonstop and with a purpose, but I didn't feel great. The legs were a little dead.

The roads were mostly free of annoying humans. It was still early, a bit cold, and I'm sure a lot of people were busy preparing for the Super Bowl.

On the second lap I saw more cyclists, and everyone up to that point was happy, friendly and waving to each other. On Deer Valley Road I encountered a couple road riders taking a break. One was on the shoulder, the other fat dipshit on a carbon wonderbike was parked right in the middle of the road. Deer Valley is pretty quiet on a Sunday morning but still, you should get your ass out of the road. I rode into the oncoming lane to get around the guy, who had his back to me, and nodded at the other rider who completely ignored me.

I may or may not have made a face, which in turn may or may not have started what came next.

A mile or so down the road I sat up to drink and they caught up to me. They stayed behind me for a while and I could hear one of the guys giving fitness advice to the other. As they passed me I was surprised to see that it was the Michelin Man dispensing wisdom to the small, trim rider. Whatever. I let them go just so I wouldn't have to listen to the guy.

When the big climb came I rode my normal tempo and quickly caught back up to them. Doughboy was frantically searching for lower gears while trying in vain to keep his jersey over the muffin top oozing out of his tights. As I passed he said, "Oh, show us how it's done, big guy."

Not being a "big guy," I really have no idea why he emphasized the phrase or what his point was. I was bigger than his buddy, but certainly a good bit smaller than him. Did he think my mountain biker bravado would end with me detonating a hundred yards later? Not sure what his problem was.

At any rate, I rode a strong tempo up the climb, admittedly a bit faster than I would have without the commentary from sausage boy. When I crested the top they were nowhere in sight. Hopefully the little guy is now looking for a new fitness coach.

This huge pine tree fell a few weeks ago and they have been clearing it ever since. Every time I ride by a little more is gone. Looks like fun.

While I was stopped taking the picture, a guy came out of the house behind me. He hopped in his car, backed down the driveway a little, drove through his front yard, over the lawn, and promptly crashed into his fence. He exited the car, looked at me like this was all quite normal, and went back in the house. Maybe he was jealous of his neighbor's fence that was demolished by the tree? Weird. Hopefully the water filter in my refrigerator sifts out whatever makes the people crazy up here.