Monday, December 8, 2008

Pennock Pedaling Pow-Wow

There was a lot of build up for this ride and I think it's actually a good thing b/c it really pays to be prepared on such long, cold, remote bicycle adventures.

The ride gathered at the Bean Cycle, a cool coffee coop for the cycle-set. The rag tag bunch almost bought the shop out of 7am espresso shots.
Our 1st and only disaster of the day: Eric's brand new flask had a leak at the bottom. And because of this, I've decided to do some gear reviews on this post. On a ride like this, you don't want anything to fail, let alone leak whiskey all over your britches. So...

Gear review #1: Coleman stainless steel flask, 1 star (out of 5) $7.99, 8oz of juice. Review: This flask is designed for one thing and one thing only: safely transporting go-juice relatively discretely, with a gentlemanly flair. Well...due to the leak, the flask required a high-tech zip lock bag carrying case. We tried to tape it with packing tape - to no avail. One potential bonus to this leaky design: it made us focus on consuming the flask's contents at much quicker rate...which on this cold ride turned out to be a bonus. Also, when clean, it's quite blingy which is fancy. I like fancy. It gets a star for this feature and this feature alone.
At 7:30 in the AM (on a Sunday), we roll. I was a bit intimidated with the gear choices of our fellow riders. Almost everybody had backpacks AND racks on their bikes. Many o pair of water proof hiking boots and rain jackets covered the shoes and backs of the crew. Eric and I decided to run a lightweight set up. The essential bike provisions in a seat back, two water bottles (filled only with water), clif bars and sharkies in one pocket, dried apples in one pocket, and a wind breaker in the last pocket, on the hip - a flask full of Death's Door Whiskey. So, no packs, no racks, just the normal set up for a long ride. We we're not short on style, however. Eric, like many other riders was sporting woolen slacks, nipped off at the mid calf. I have yet to try this retro, yet GQ approach to bike wear. I did bring a pair of my own manpris. Which takes me to...

Gear Review #2: Chrome Shins knickers. 4.9 stars (out of 5) $160. I've worn these on many a mountain bike adventure, but this was the 1st time on the road. I have to say, I was very happy with this choice. The material is warm, stretchy, and breathable. I do have to hold them up with a belt (I prefer the leather variety) which makes them look pretty appropriate off the bike too. The side pockets are deep and the cargo pockets have zippers. Nothing ever falls out of these pockets, which is a big plus. There's a thin fleece-like square patch where your bottom contact the saddle. It's not a chamois and is not bulky, but it does add some comfort for sure. I wore them over a pair of regular padded cycling shorts and my bottom was comfy for the whole ride. The soft-shell material blocked the wind really well, kept me warm even when we got wet and muddy, and never bunched or felt uncomfortable. It's cool that they have a fly too, something you don't often find on cycling gear. It came in handy 5 times on the ride. How would I improve them? Hmmm....I think some discrete reflective tags on the back would be nice and that's about it! I highly recommend them. (oh...and they're handmade in San Fran!)
We headed out with about 40 cold-weather-loving adventurous souls. After the icy ride through Ft Collin's bike paths, we hit the hills around Horsetooth Res. We were pyched to be warming up. It was in the high 20's for the start.
The 1st Pow-Wow of the day - overlooking the resevoir. This was not the type of stop that Eric and I were used to, but we figured when in as the Pow-wow does. Or in this case, rest for about the same amount of time that you pedal.
There were come really cool rigs on this ride. Here's a Blacksheep SS rigid MTB, with a custom front rack that perfectly held a weather-proof tupperwear container. It was GOOD LOOKIN.
NBB's Sarah joined the ride. She was 1 of a handful of ladies on the ride. We know Sarah b/c she did the Rio Grande Urban Assault Ride last summer. She had a stylin IF with a sweet wood box on the back. She had a fully-stocked backpack as well, so one had to wonder what was in that wood crate. Perhaps she had a small deceased pet in the box that she was taking up to the mountains for a proper burial. Nope - just coffee and clothes. You know...the mind can wander on rides such as this.
We got rolling again and admired some impressive cycling stylings. Check this fixie w/o brakes. Man, I hope you were REALLY comfy on this bike. It was a LOOOONG day in the saddle...and we had gears AND brakes AND tire clearance. This fellow is an example of the mysterious endurance fixie niche.

Another couple of notables. Holmes on the left also had a brakeless fixie but he was pimping an old school plastic BMX style saddle. Very classy, yet you have to wonder about the comfort.Top O the Pass (photo courtesy of Rick Price)

On the 3rd or 4th Pow-Wow of the day, there was a local woman taking a walk who was rather surprised to see this rowdy group of bicyclers passing by. She was talking to one of the ladies on the ride and said "Are you the only girl? Oh nevermind, you're a girl (pointing to another rider)... oh nevermind you're not a girl". Woops. The dude (in blue shorts) kinda looked down at the ground and kicked some pebbles around. A rather akward moment. Another advantage of wearing a mustache, you can't be mistaken for a lady rider.
Then the fun began. We hit the dirt road section, which is a non-maintained road (as the sign reveals). This means: there will be snow.
It was certainly a learning experience riding this road in 2-4"s of snow. The ride in White Rim was good practice as this snow was similar to riding in deep sand. If you rode on the car tire tracks, you'd slide this way and that. It was SKETCHY. So, the best plan was to make fresh tracks on the edges of the road. And you didn't want to use much front brake as your front wheel would dig in and send you flying. It definetly took some concentration. I was using the Force to my fullest abilities.
Eric was riding his Quiring 29er with wider tires than mine, so he forged ahead. I came across him as he was taking a little spill - which happened b/c he was looking at another crash site where a rider ahead apparently hit the deck. Gots to keep the eyes on the prize. You can see how his ass did a good job of plowing the snow here.
At this point, we ceased stopping for the bunch and rode ahead. It could get really cold if we stood around too long (we had no other clothes) and there would not be much sun left. We were very happy with our bike choice. I don't know how these fixie riders possibly made it through the slush w/o brakes or gear. I tip my hat to them indeed.

Gear review #3: Stan's Cyclocross Rim strips. 4 stars (out of 5). $22 each. I took out the Yeti ArcX for this jaunt which was a great choice for the roads on this ride. It's a damn capable machine. I had some Mavic Kysrium Elites kicking it in the garage for a couple years, so I thought I'd experiment a bit. The rims on these wheels do not have spoke holes on the outside, so there's a flat rim surface. I figured they'd be perfect for a tubeless application. First, I tried mounting a pair of tubeless-ready Hutchinson cross tires on these rims with some Stan's sealant. They didn't hold air. So I called and found that they make a rim strip for this purpose. It's rim strip with a valve built in. I put it on these wheels, added some fresh sealant to the Hutchinsons, and they aired right up! The rim strip puts the tire bead in the right place, so it won't move around. When I first looked at the strips, they looked just like a tube that was precisely cut to fit the rim (which I figured I could do for 1/4 of the price). Upon further inspection, I found the strips actually have raised ridges and this makes a big difference. Why go through the trouble of a tubeless conversion? The benefits are huge: #1 you almost never get flats (puncture are pretty much a problem of the past), #2 you can run much lower pressure (which gives you better traction, braking, and tire contact patch) without the risk of pinch-flatting, and it can be a lighter set up since you don't have tubes in your tires. The strips are a bit pricy, but they work. Booyakasha!
When you mix melting snow and dirt roads, you get lots of mud. Here's the reason why fenders are a good ideas. I even had mud in my bag of apples.

So at this point, we stopped taking photos and just rode. When we got the end of the dirt road we were 5 hours into the ride, covered in mud, my brake pads were worn down, and the sign said 36 miles to Ft Collins. But my bike was shifting great.

Gear Review #4: Rock and Roll Lube (Blue) 5 stars (out of 5). $5.99 4 oz bottle. It's the bomb. Period. It keeps your chain clean and dry. One bottle will last you a whole season. It's super quiet and keeps the chain moving even after 8 miles of snow, sand, and mud. Good stuff.

We rode down Poudre Canyon- which is nice and long and very scenic and finally hit a convenience store where I picked up some Hostess treats for the final push home. We got back around 3 pm - which makes this an 8 hour ride. It was 92 miles for our calculations and one helluva day on the bike. Keep in mind that we had no mechanical problems, health problems (besides losing my voice from an almost-healed cold), and we had geared bikes with brakes. I can only imagine how long it took the single speed riders to complete this loop. It was sure impressive to see so many types of riders out this crazy adventure! I hope you all made it home safely and had a good night's sleep in a warm bed.

The next RallEye is a 2-day event including camping, a low key 22 mile ride each day, and mountain bike trail at the destination. It's coming up on January 17th and 18th. What a great excuse to break out the MTB on a cold winter weekend. See you there!


  1. Nice write up, good pics--and crazy stuff; fixie?!

    Sounds like the UAR gots a tough gig (yeah, I'm jealous!).

    Ride One or Ride None!

  2. Megan--hey, that's sweet, but so far there are just two posters, me and Eric; which one do you love more? ;o)

    Peace and Happy New Year!
    Ride One or Ride None!