Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New bike?

I am faced with two wants. I don't really "need" either of these beautiful bikes but man would they both be a joy to own. My fleet of bikes currently consists of a hardtail 29er mountain bike, a dated full suspension 26er, and a very basic but sturdy road bike.

The 29er is a Salsa Mariachi that I just built up this year and I am very happy with but I am looking to replace one of the other two bikes. In a perfect world I would replace them both, but the bank account disagrees with that idea.

The road bike does the job but the Salsa Vaya would be suit me much better with its ride any road anytime. The 23 mm tires on my current road bike don't do well on gravel, I may be able to get 32 mm on it but even then its just a basic road bike with odd tires. I am hoping to do Trans Iowa next year, and the vaya looks ready to rip. I would change a couple small things but its basically prime time in my eyes for a race like that. If I don't get a gravel bike I would use my mariachi, put skinny tires on it, and lock out the fork. Which would probably work great but things like a drop bar for different hand positions would be nice. Plus I am not sure I want to destroy my Mariachi in 330 miles of gravel before the WEMS races.

Then there is the Fat Bike. I don't think they can be called a fad anymore, because they are becoming hugely popular and are definitely here to stay. Whenever I see one I think man I would like to try one of those. They just look fun. They are quick even with the big tires, I got beat by one at the opening round of WEMS last year.  The thing I find most appealing is you can ride anywhere, down the middle of a railroad, through the snow, in the deepest mud, or make trails in the tallest weeds.  I know that if I got the Mukluk I would spend a lot of time on it this winter, and be rewarded with stronger legs in the spring. I just don't know if I would spend as much time on it as I would the Vaya gravel bike.

The thing that doesn't help matters at all is that both bikes have color schemes that I am crazy about. The tan sidewalls on the tires of the Vaya look awesome, and the flat green with pine trees on the Mukluk are right up my alley. The Mukluk looks like it wants to be my hunting partner, if I could find a way to mount my bow and arrow on it would take it hunting everyday. The Vaya looks ready for some LONG rides, the kind of rides that I day dream about at work all day.

Decisions, Decisions.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Looking for Gravel Near Home

          The task for today was simple, establish a gravel loop near home to use for training rides.  I still have more scouting to do but I did find some nice roads. The one in the photo above is probably my favorite unfortunately its pretty short and could possibly lead to a trespassing ticket. I will include it in the loop and use the old "its easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."
Up ahead folks is the only hill in McHenry County, if you take a left at the next road you will find the highest point in McHenry County at the High Point Conservation Area, its only about 20 ft higher than the lowest point in Mchenry County. Welcome to flatland!

Part of my gravel searching adventure took me through one of the areas that I hunt for deer. I decided to use it as a short cut and it was worth it. I saw a few deer while on the deer path, but no bucks, which is how this hunting season has gone so far. It was a good little section of riding though.

I also came across this bush that is all torn up by a buck either shedding his velvet or trying to attract girls to mate with in a couple weeks. I think this is the definition of bushwhacking.

I was pretty excited when I rode this road, I have driven past it but never realized it goes pretty far. Its gravelish, it is made up of crushed black top and is pretty rough. The direction that I was riding put me heading directly into the wind so it made for a good tough section of road. The road is pretty rough, but I could cruise down the two lane in the middle pretty easy.

This gravel road was so packed down it may as well have been black top. I wouldn't hesitate to bring my road bike down it.  It is real gravel though so it will probably be included in the loop.

I finished the day off with New Glarus Brewing Co.'s Stag Horn Octoberfest. Octoberfest beers are something that I look forward to every fall.