Last week had a nice stretch of dry, sunny weather in Indiana for springtime and I took advantage getting a couple rides in on my days off.
My first ride of the week was on Wednesday. I had the whole day to myself, so I headed south to visit the Nebo Ridge Trail for my first time there. It was a great ride. The beginning of the trail when starting from the northern Story side was a little muddy. Mostly there were just a few soft spots in the trail. It wasn’t so bad as to be sloppy.
The climb starting from the trailhead here is a beast. Some friends later recommended parking at the Story Inn down the road and using the gravel road to the trailhead as a warmup. That would have been a great idea. After reaching the top of that big climb I was wondering if I’d be able to finish. I hit my stride soon enough but a warmup before the climb would have been a very good idea.
The first part of the trail is on an old fire road, so it’s wide open, pretty straight, and mostly nontechnical. Peaking around 24%, there are definitely some lung-busting climbs, though. This is a rugged trail, so downed trees are common. Hoosier National Forest staff do get out to clear them, but don’t expect that to happen soon. On the downhills, it’s wise to hold back a little because some of the downed trees are in bad places if you’re going too fast.
Just before you get to the top of the climb, there are some rock outcrops that provide a little technical interest. The rocks here are limestone, and get VERY slippery if they’re even slightly damp. Some of these rocks have a mossy glaze on them that makes them pretty tough.
Once you get to the top of the climb, you get some singletrack. It’s a pretty flowy bit of trail, too. This trail has been around longer than I’ve been mountain biking and it’s in pretty good shape most of the time. Some of the old roads are kinda rutted out, but the singletrack looks really good and is plenty of fun.
This time of year is a good one to visit this trail. You never truly get any vistas, but with the leaves down, you get close. As you approach the southern Maumee trailhead, you start to see peeks of a distant ridgeline. When the leaves are all out, you won’t be able to have this view.
Right after the view of the ridgeline, you drop down to the Maumee trailhead. This hill is not as severe as the northern one from the trailhead. Plus, this one is singletrack. It’s still a climb coming out, though.
This ride was my first with a new pair of shorts. I picked up a pair of NZO Dobies for 2014. My old favorite Pearl Izumi Titan shorts have some age behind them. They’re 9 years old now. The outer baggie short doesn’t look it, but the chamois liner has seen better days. I have a love/hate affair with baggies. I get why a lot of riders refuse to wear them. A lot of them are terrible. They’re too loose and snag on the saddle when you’re trying to negotiate techie sections. They flap around when you’re going fast. You HAVE to wear them with a chamois liner, etc. I like the Titan shorts because they’re not too baggie. They are a little stretchy so they move with me. They never snag on the saddle. I have been hesitant to buy others because I haven’t found many I like.
I got some Novara baggies at an REI garage sale last year for a good price and the baggie outers kinda suck. The waistband doesn’t stay put. The fit is funny so while they’re loose around the lower parts of the shorts, up towards the crotch, they’re tight and restrictive. Blah. I don’t wear them unless I have to.
I’ve heard great things about the NZO Dobies on forums like mtbr. They’ve been on my radar for awhile, but they’re not cheap. Rightly so. They’re made in small batches in New Zealand. I finally made it a priority and bought some. They’re my new favorite shorts. They’re a little longer than the Titans, which isn’t a bad thing. The fabric is durable, so they should hold up for awhile and resist snags from thorns well. They fit close to the legs, and stretch so they move with me. No catching on the saddle in the tech. One thing I really like is that they’ve got a fleece panel in the crotch. It’s not a padded chamois, but the fleece is enough to ward off the chafing when worn commando like bike shorts should. With a comfy saddle, I find I don’t need chamois for shorter rides (less than 20mi at least…possibly more). That’s especially true for these shorts. Love it. I bought some 2012 closeouts this time around, but I think I’ll be buying another pair later in the season. For something this good, I really should have a couple pairs.
My next ride was a visit to Southwestway Park in Indy.
I didn’t take too many pics at Southwestway. Just a couple with the phone. This one is really cool within the park. Someone has built one heck of a fort out of downed timber. It’s big enough to stand up in and there are benches and even a tapestry in there. I’ve heard it referred to as the Hobbit Hole, even though it’s not a hole.
It is obviously taken care of, and whoever built it wants to make sure it doesn’t get destroyed. There are signs around it (visible from within, but not from the trail) imploring “No Littering” and “No Fires” and “No Smoking”. And from what I can tell, folks do take care of the place. I found no fire rings, cigarette butts, or piles of trash around it. I never saw this last year, so I think once the greenery fills in, it must get hidden pretty well.
If you needed further evidence that spring has sprung, the bluebells were pretty thick in places. This picture was taken along Cockrum where it runs along the levee. This patch of flowers is down in the floodplain of the White River.
Of course, mtb rides wouldn’t happen without maintenance and boy do I have some maintenance doozies. My own bike has been a bit noisy and it’s been tricky pinning things down. Most of the trails in Indianapolis are pretty low grade trails good for spinning. Not so much for steep trails that require standing up and mashing. The Nebo Ridge ride really exposed the noises on my mtb for what they were. Worn bottom bracket and headset. I have some on order and will be doing a swap later this week or this weekend.
My wife’s bike has been the really interesting story. Her DT Swiss Tricon wheels needed truing, so I took them into the shop for a look. Putting the rear wheel into the truing stand, I found a couple mangled spoke nipples where the rim wobbled a little. There wasn’t enough spline on the nipples to grab with a spoke wrench, and after talking to DT Swiss, the shop mechanic decided to send them to QBP’s wheel service dept since they’re a DT Swiss authorized service center. We sent them the spare spokes and nipples I already had to keep costs down some.
Long story short, instead of repairing my wife’s old wheel, they sent us back a “Tech Demo” wheel that was nearly new. They didn’t communicate with us about this, and we had to call them to find out what was going on. Of course, they didn’t return my extra spokes and nipples to me…also not calling to inform me about this. I had to ask. They said they were keeping them to “offset the cost of the rear wheel they sent”. Ugh. I also told them that the wheels I sent them had the upgraded 36t ratchet rings. They did return those to me. Irritated about them not returning the spokes because I needed them to fix a twisted spoke on the front wheel, the mechanic called DT Swiss to talk about what QBP was doing. It wouldn’t have been such a situation if they had f’n called me at the first sign of an issue. Anyway, DT Swiss, being a great company, sent me a new spoke kit at no charge. And a tech service manual for Tricon wheels. Unfortunately it’s almost entirely in German.
I have everything I need for the wheels now, thankfully. Hopefully they’ll be ready to take home by the weekend so my wife can have her good mtb back. She’s been riding her old hardtail for the past few weeks. I need to pull apart the hubs and repack the hub bearings on that bike when we get her good bike rolling again.
I suspect that Q’s wheel dept is trying to cover up somebody’s mistake. I am suspicious that they mangled the rim when trying to remove the broken spoke nipples. I will never know, though.
This isn’t my first negative experience with those guys, either. For my original commuter build (the On-One Pompetamine, though I use the same wheels now on my Vaya), I had some Shimano M-529 Centerlock hubs laced to Velocity Dyad reflective rims. I had QBP’s wheel dept build them for me. The first set they sent out had machined sidewall rims instead of the reflective finish. Sigh. They did do right and send the correct wheels after pointing out the mistake. And they’ve been solid this whole time. They have not needed truing even once since I bought them. But with now having screw-ups occur on each of my dealings with QBP’s wheels dept., I think I’ll be taking my wheel business elsewhere from now on.