Monday, April 10, 2017

New Bike Day!

When I started riding gravel I picked up a used Felt F1X.  It has been a great bike for me, but it is getting a bit tired.  I also have never been able to get the fit quite right on it, so it was not the most comfortable ride.  I have put several thousand miles of gravel on it over the last almost 5 years.

I started to look for new for a new ride and I was down to 3.  The Niner RLT 9 Steel, Salsa Vaya GX and the Salsa Warbird 105.  So, I headed down to Angry Catfish.  Parker was able to get me all 3 bikes to try back to back.  I was really leaning toward the Vaya from the start, but I ended up with the Warbird. Here are my thoughts on the bikes.

Niner RLT 9 Steel-  Rode well.  I like the 853 steel frame and all the mounting locations for racks, bottle and etc.  I was a little disappointed in how harsh the fork was, the bike was spec'd with 35c tires so that could have changed.  I also had an Apex 1x11 drive train.  I found that I was hunting for a gear just to cruse in, I like the thought of a 1x11 for mountain, but I'm not sure I want a gravel bike with it.  The RLT9 Steel was the highest priced of the 3 at $2500.

Salsa Vaya GX-  I really liked this bike and I think that I would have purchased it if I had plans of bikepacking or touring with it.  The was very smooth riding and the weight of the steel frame disappeared under you.  The Vaya had the most upright position of all of the bikes I rode.  I liked the spec of Vaya, 2x10 Apex/GX drivetrain, tubeless ready WTB wheels and WTB Nano 40 TCS tires.  This was the lowest price point of the 3 at $1799.00.

Salsa Warbird 105- I went into my test ride with the thought of just getting this bike out of the way.  I never thought that an aluminum bike would ride smooth enough for what I wanted.  When I rode the Warbird I noticed right away how smooth it was, almost as good as the Vaya.  Salsa redesigned the Warbird in 2016 and it was a huge improvement from the old version.  The bike was spec'd with a full 105 group, carbon fork, thru axles front and rear, tubeless DT Swiss/Salsa wheels and WTB TCS Riddler 37c tires.  The price was in between the other 2 at $2299.  I was really impressed with the bike.  It was a hard choice between this and the Vaya, but the Warbird won.

I have a few hundred miles on it so far and I'm still happy with it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Steamboat in October

Troy and Kerry moved to Steamboat back in July and we thought that now that they were settled in we would come out to visit them.  October 1st was also our it was also our 10 year anniversary, so we thought it was a perfect time for a quick trip.  We did a lot of hiking and exploring around the area.  We also were able to rent some bikes and got a great day of riding in.  We had a great trip and we will be back in February to get some time on the slopes.  What a great area!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Let's get this going again.

So I’m going to try and get this blog going again.  In March we decided to put our house up for sale, man you don’t realize how much time that selling and buying a house takes.  We sold our house fairly quickly and in July we moved to Hugo, a much better location for work and closer to our hobbies.
Here’s a little recap on biking stuff from the  winter and spring.

We got out on the fat bikes as much as we could and we did a few races.

Solstice Chase in St. Croix Falls, very little snow but still a good day!

Catfish Cup at Carver

Troy and Kyleen at Carver for some snowy singletrack!

I built up a Mukluk for Kyleen last spring, she is loving it!

Singletrack selfie

Troy getting ready for the Cuyuna Whiteout!

Troy and Kyleen at the Whiteout.

Group shot!

This was Kyleen's first attempt at a fatbike race, I think that she is hooked!

I pulled out the old sewing machine and taught myself how to sew and I made a few bikepacking things for the fatty.
Frame bag and harness for the fatty.

The frame bag works great!

I still need to test out the harness, but it should work great.
I have been gathering parts us for a while now and I built up a nice Salsa El Mariachi, I really like this bike so far.  I built it up for some gravel rides, bikepacking and some races.  Basically a do everything bike.

Just needs a chain and the real seat/ seatpost installed.

First real ride at Elm Creek.

The El Mar with my Tallboy's fork, it rode well like this.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Heck of the North 2014

Last Saturday was the 2014 Heck of the North.  Kyleen and I left work a bit early to get loaded up and on the road.  We pulled the camper up to Two Harbors and stayed at the Burlington Bay campground.  I was really happy to have the camper, the wind was blowing and the lows were in the 30's.  Once we got setup we headed over to the Castle Danger Brewery tap room to pick up or racer packets.  It's a great place with some good beer.


The course was kept under wraps until Friday night and all we really knew was that the race would be 110 miles and the check point was at mile 67 in Lester Park.  So that meant extra food and water for the first half.

Saturday we woke up to a cold windy day, I was really not excited about the ride, it was going to be a tough day.  Troy and I loaded our stuff on the bikes and headed to the starting line.  It was about a mile from the campers so we just rode there, that was a good warm up.

At 8am we rolled out at a "controlled" speed, it was at about 17 mph, at bit fast for a roll out.  Larry and I were going to ride together since his computer failed on the way up to Two Harbors.  We were towards the back riding our pace.  The climb out of Two Harbors felt really long, but soon enough we were on the gravel.  The first 12 miles were pretty calm, but then we had a water crossing.  I was not ready to have wet feet yet so I pulled off my socks and shoes and crossed the stream.  No one was really excited about this crossing!


We rode another 23 miles and then headed on to the North Shore State Trail, which was a bog.  There was no avoiding the water this time, my feet were soaked.  It was slow going, but soon enough we were back on the gravel.  My wet feet were getting really cold and by mile 45 I lost feeling in them.  It seemed like a lot more work to keep a good pace.  I was not sure if it was the 15-25 mph wind or the fact that I could not feel my feet.

Larry looking really excited for the snowmobile trail.
The ride was going well except for my feet, I was hoping to get to the check point and put my dry sock on.  At about mile 50 I looked at my watch and noticed it was 1:30, we had until 3 to get to Lester Park.  So I texted Kyleen and told her that we would more than likely not make by 3.  Larry and I were planning to pull the plug once we got to Lester.  I rolled in at 2:53 and I had thoughts of trying to continue, but then I saw Brett, Curt and Jose standing there.  They called it as well, Troy was the only one to make it to the end.  Nice Job Troy!  Nice job everyone, just getting to Lester was a challenge.

So in all the day was about 7 hours and 67 miles.  I rode my cross bike and the bike was good for the most part, my rear hub was not doing well in the mud and cold.  I picked up some new Kenda Kwicks off of eBay.  Saturday was my first ride on them, they did great, mud or gravel the hooked up very well.  I went with 700x35, anything smaller would not have been good in my opinion.  If I ever do this ride again, it will be on a HT MTB.

The aftermath.  I was so glad that I put my rear fender on, I was not a muddy mess!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WI Sandy Gravel Ride

A couple of weeks ago Troy and I headed out on a bit of an adventure/ Heck of the North training ride.  We started at the Never’s Dam boat launch on the Wisconsin side of the river.  Troy planned a route using some of the route for the Mammoth 100 miler that Cyclova XC puts on in the spring.

From the boat launch we headed north to the Governor Knowles campground.   It seemed like a nice campground.  From there we headed east into Grantsburg and then south back to the launch.  In total it was about a 62 mile ride and a great day.

We knew that the gravel in this area was really sandy, so we headed out on our mountain bikes.  We both had 2.4” Racing Ralphs on and they seemed to do the trick, but it was still slow going.  If I were to ride the route again I think that I would ride my fat bike. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Two Harbors Weekend

We have been busy this summer, very busy.  Between Kyleen’s Triathlons and my gravel/ MTB rides we have not had much time to just enjoy our camper that we bought last fall.  We have used it, but it has always been for a race.  So we had a free weekend and we thought we would head up to Two Harbors for a nice get away.

We headed up Friday night after work and we stayed at the Burlington Bay Campground.  This is the city of Two Harbors campground, but it is very nice and they just opened up a new section.

Home Sweet Home for the weekend.
Our view of the lake at Sunrise.
Saturday morning we headed up to Gooseberry State Park for some hiking, but it was packed with people.  So we headed north a bit more and went to Split Rock State Park.  I have toured the lighthouse and grounds when I was younger but I have never hiked on the trails.  We headed out on Little Two Harbor trail.  The trail had great views of the lake and light house.  We even found an access to the beach that was quite nice.  After we wore Kinley out we headed back to the camper for some lunch.

The stairs on the trail, there were a lot of stairs!

After lunch we decided to head back to Gooseberry.  We parked at the park and then headed out on our bikes.  There is a great trail that runs along hwy 61.  The trail currently goes from Gooseberry to Beaver Bay.  It’s a great ride.

After the ride we made some dinner and enjoyed a couple slices of pie that we picked up at Betty’s Pies.  Wow that was a nice treat!  

We headed home Sunday morning, nothing exciting on the way home, just the way that I like it!