Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The power of three.

Three days, three counties, three rides, three sentient beings.











All had snow, ice, wind, and a certain humid chill in common.

All finished with the third sentient being acting as hand warmer when the other two arrived home.



Thanks for checkin' in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Euphoria, swallowed by darkness.

Tis but an hour past dark and the rain that began moments ago is already turning to snain on its way to becoming snow.  3 or 4 inches in the overnight forecast.


Given that our summers are ~8 months long, I always, always look forward to this change of seasons.

Knowing that weather was coming I came in early to get today's work done, and am now back in the shop getting yet more done.  But in between, this afternoon, I stepped out for the last real dirt ride of the season.



We often joke about the last ride of the season because there's a certain element of truth to it: We'll continue to ride all through the winter, but once there's snow on the ground - effectively this very moment - the tenor of every ride changes.  Fall is gone, winter is here.

Without question the snow that falls tonight will mostly melt off immediately.  But some small amount will stick in the shadows and on northern exposures.  That little bit fundamentally changes the way you look at the trails: You're not going to commit to laying it over into a corner at speed if you aren't 100% sure that that corner is clean.  Even the slightest skiff of snow on a slab will put you down faster than you can say hematoma.  Take that sketchy corner too fast near an edge and you'll have time to mouth the word catastrophic while kicking the bike away and bracing for impact.


And - of course - there's more snow in the forecast for later this week, along with dropping temps.


Knowing that the change was going to happen between sunset tonight and sunrise tomorrow, I positively wanted one more ride, one more opportunity to attempt a few moves that have stymied me more often than not this year.  I'm getting older, losing strength and agility, fitness and coordination.  Just like you.  I accept this as the natural order of things.

But I also take opportunities to push back.  Tonight would be my last chance this year.

There is a seemingly infinite number of moves that I used to clean with regularity that are now questionable from ride to ride.  Might have made that one back in June, but not since.  Got this one yesterday, but today?  With every new day there is fresh opportunity to set things right.  This mantra does not only apply to bike rides...

The specific loop I rode tonight isn't important, other than that the local nazis have taken whacks at it - large and small - in attempting to systematically remove any technical challenge.  Through the years "they" have fabricated a number of reasons for their desire to dumb it down, from repairing erosion to making the overall difficulty of the trail consistent, to removing safety hazards.  There is a grain of truth to each of these justifications but zoom out and it's difficult to conclude that their justifications are the whole picture.  Undeterred by facts or evidence, they push and push and push to remove challenge from more trails - even expert trails - every year.

Building rock ramps up previously difficult climbs seems to be the technique they prefer over all others.

And they've built a lot of them the past few years.

The trail toward which I rode as the sun descended used to have a ramp up its crux move.  Some well-meaning trail vigilante actually tore that ramp out shortly after construction was complete, and the move has stayed more or less the same ever since.  I don't know the person whom ripped that ramp out, have never heard their motivations, but each time I get the chance to test myself against this particular move I silently thank them for taking a stand.  Without their actions the move would be forever lost.  But because of their actions we can all -- everyone -- clearly see that the ramp was never needed to begin with.  All these years later and the move hasn't changed in any meaningful way, still there to confound and delight.

I hadn't ridden this trail in more than a month, so as I approached the move I took it slowly, with no intent to actually put in an effort until I verified that it was safe.  Sometimes people stick cheater rocks in, which tend to move in unpredictable ways when your wheels touch them.  After seeing that the move was clean and attemptable, I backed up, shifted into the gear I thought made sense, and took a run at it.

And failed.

Second try was a failure also, with the added excitement of almost coming off the move backwards, while still in the pedals.  Grabbing a nearby juniper prevented that from happening, allowing me to go back for a third try.  While catching my breath I noted the last light fading from the sky.



On the third attempt I made it.  Clean.  First time in at least 3 months.

The achievement wasn't newsworthy.  Not worth calling home about, nor even mentioning to a friend unless they happened to be there with me.

What was exciting about it was having the chance to try, and to fail, and to learn, and then try again.  That gratification had been delayed for literal months, with anticipation building each time I tried and failed.  It had built and built and built and when finally it was released resulted in an intense, personal, mostly indescribable euphoria that washed over me and erupted out in the most satisfied laughter I've felt in recent memory.

The people that would build a ramp over every challenging move needn't be named -- they know who they are.  What I want them to understand and eventually acknowledge is that people aren't inspired by milquetoast trails.  No one ever shouted at the top of their lungs in celebration of riding around a mid-trail rock or up an engineered ramp.

Challenging trails give people -- you, me -- the opportunity to step outside of our predictable, mundane lives and actually experience living.  Sometimes there's failure, but eventually -- with enough persistence -- there is euphoria.

May it ever be so.

As I closed the loop at dark:thirty the temps dropped sharply and by the time I'd removed my sweaty shirt inside I could hear rain drumming down on the roof.  Season over.



How I wish that that were the way the story ended.  Instead I am certain that during the long darkness of this impending winter meetings will be held and plans will get drawn for newer, bigger, lower gradient ramps to be constructed come spring, turning once great trails into mediocre routes that look and feel and ride just like mediocre routes in other mediocre places, giving mediocre riders no reason to aspire to be better -- at riding, or parenting, or life -- than they currently are.

We used to have a world class trail network that challenged, humbled, and inspired.  With every passing day and each new ramp it feels and looks and rides like pretty much everywhere else.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A ride recently: Brutally beautiful.

There's a route out west of here that we love to ride.  We don't get there often enough, which makes it feel yet more full-value when we do.

Driving as close as you can get you're still given no hints as to what lies beneath the rim.


Even riding the first ~hour from the jump-off point gives up nothing.  Only when you finally, fully commit to a full day in the canyon system does it begin to reveal itself.




I know of no other place anything like this one.  Not in scenery, nor especially in technical challenge.



I've never seen another mountain bike out there.  I *have* seen a handful of moto's.  Normally these groups will pull up next to us, eyes wide and heads slowly shaking, and ask if we're lost.



We are emphatically not lost!  Despite -- or perhaps because of -- the brutiful nature of the route I'm not sure I've ever felt more at home on the bike. 

  

  We laugh at one point at how poorly suited a modern long travel bike would be in this terrain.  Slow speed, delicate precision is the name of the game, and the geo of "modern" bikes is all about high speed straight line plowing.
 


And while bike geo is super important, it's the motor that really matters.  Aaron's power to weight is impressive, and -- coupled with a healthy amount of drive -- it means he handily cleans more moves than Pete or I. 


  

I've never finished this ride with more than 5 minutes to spare before dark -- nor have I ever had anything left in the tank -- and this episode is no exception.  We pack bikes away, dechamify, then head for Green River to begin our recovery with a burger and root beer at Ray's.

Thanks for checkin' in.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Late fall in the Gunnison Gorge.

1460cfs, 27 brown trout, 12 kingfishers, 3 mergansers, 2 bald eagles, one great blue heron, zero people.




Meditative, if you're into that sort of thing.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fatillac for sale.

Bringing this back to the top because I've amended the ad.  I'm now including a set of 29" wheels with 2.6" tires for the same asking price.

This bike becomes an all-out quiver killer when you factor in the shit-stomping capability of the B Fat wheels and the float-like-a-butterlfy-sting-like-a-bee zing of the 29" setup.

Read on...

+ + + + +

LenzSport Fatillac.  Size medium.

I'm 5'10" and I love the way it fits.  I'd say it's apropos for normally proportioned people in the range of 5'7" to 5'11".

I built this bike brand new, every part, late this past February.

I rode it a tiny bit in March (not much because it was still too snowy) and then 2-3 times a week through April and May.

And then basically didn't touch it until I plucked it from it's hook to clean it up to take these pictures.

I have a standing rule that any bike that hasn't been used in 2 months is *gone*.  This one just sat for 4.  Time to go.

The pics below tell most of the story.  Happy to send them in full-res.


These are 27.5" wheels with 3.8" tires.  Kind of the best of all possible worlds when you're looking for an equal blend of float, speed, and rollover capability.



Rear shock is a Monarch RT3 Debonair, 200 x 51mm stroke.  All pics here show the bike with 5" levers, but I have the 6" versions as well.  You can have one or the other, or both for a bit more.


Fork is a Fox 34 Boost, with 150mm travel.  It came new as 120mm.  I installed a new air shaft and bath oil to increase it by 30mm.  I probably have the 120mm shaft if you'd like to experiment with it.


I built this bike with a very specific purpose in mind: To be able to comfortably, quickly, and efficiently ride pavement, gravel, and singletrack en route to or from what I *really* prefer to be riding: washes, arroyos, and 'off piste' rock.

Knowing that these zones are messy, chossy, far from groomed, I opted for an 11 speed drivetrain, because 11 speed derailleurs have a much smaller form factor (they hang out less into harm's way) than 12 speed.  I opted for a 46t cassette so that I'd still have stump-pulling uphill torque when needed.



Fork stanchions are clean, smoove, perfect.


Bars are the integrated Syncros Hixon IC SL.  50mm effective stem reach, 760mm width.


Cork grips because they're comfy in a wide range of temperatures.  

I ran this bike with twist shifting most of the time because I'm habituated to it.  I installed the above trigger shifter today: Brand new.


Brakes are XT.  4 piston front, 2 piston rear, 180mm rotors on both ends.


125mm Reverb Stealth, WTB Volt ti.


The bike wasn't a garage queen: There are a handful of scratches on both the frame and fork lower legs, in the places you'd expect on a bike ridden in the desert.


I had a custom frame bag made for it.  It (and the top tube bag pictured) is included in the total price, but both can be excluded if desired.



Cane Creek headset.  110 lower cup, Viscoset external cup.  It is set on max damping right now and that's the way I always rode it.  Damping can be removed completely if desired -- it's a pretty simple and slick system.


DT Swiss 350 hubs, DT SuperComp triple butted spokes, DT Prolock nipples.  Some dust visible because I rarely powerwash my bikes and *never* spray my hubs.



4 piston caliper up front, 2 piston out back.


Not pictured well above: Cranks are RaceFace Next carbon, BB is an RWC ceramic bearing unit, chainring is a 28t Wolftooth oval.  There are lots of titanium bolts on the bike.

Also included: 29" wheelset with 2.6" tires for days when the mood strikes to go light and fast.


Hubs are DT Swiss Big Ride/350.


Rims are NoTubes Baron.  Tires are Bontrager XR4.


Already tubeless.  Wheels have been ridden fewer than 20 miles.  Tires are brand new.


I've written volumes about this chassis over the years that I've owned them.  The bike is as dialed as any bike I've ever owned, but I've just not been riding it.  Not for a lack of terrain -- there is heaps of it out the front, side, and back doors.  Nope, I'm not riding it because none of my friends have a bike anywhere near as capable, so when I ride it I end up riding solo.

Riding solo is good sometimes -- but I've had a literal lifetime of it already.  And because none of my riding partners is even considering adding another bike to their quiver, it makes sense for me to divest myself of this one.

Price = $5000 firm, and includes everything pictured above, as well as shipping to the lower 48.

Please don't bother with lowball offers.  The bike is worth every penny and more of my asking price, and I'm in no hurry to sell it.  

If you're seriously considering this bike, these are some options that we can discuss:
-5" levers, 6" levers, or both.
-RockShox rear shock pictured, also have a DT Swiss unit that works great on this bike for certain applications.
-Frame bag and top tube 'gas tank' can be deleted for credit.
-I have 24t and 26t chainrings for it.

Interested?

mike.curiak@gmail.com

Also, the bike is located in Grand Junction, Colorado.  Pick it up here and save $125.  Or I'll meet you halfway between Denver, Durango, or Salt Lake and save you $60.