Summer Rides

Fitting regular rides in along with working two jobs and significant volunteer commitments tends to leave the website feeling neglected.

How about some pixels, some words, and some GPS tracks to make us happy?

Even though I only had one day off over the July 4th weekend, I managed to squeeze in a couple rides.  On July 4th, the wife and I made our first trip to Rangeline Nature Preserve in Anderson.

We kept to the “novice” and “intermediate” trails for the day.  Even the novice stuff isn’t true beginner trail.  There are some techy spots that would have a true beginner rider walking.  It’s definitely no Camp Glenn.

First, a word of note. Rangeline Nature Preserve is currently in jeopardy. The proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir would flood much of RNP and effectly destroy the trail system for the sake of “flood control” and “drinking water”. There is some debate about whether it would effectively address those concerns. The Friends of the White River share some information about this proposal.

There is a pretty cool skills park right near the parking lot at RNP. There are skinnies, whoops, creative technical challenges, and articulating obstacles. Nothing is terribly high off the ground presenting high risk of injury, but be sure to inspect the woodwork before you ride. Some of the older structures are in need of repair. You will notice that some structures have recently been rebuilt, also. It does get maintained, but it’s a work in progress.

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Out on the trails, you’ll find the surface varies from crushed stone/fine gravel to sand to hardpack, and even a few sections with cobbles thrown in for good measure. This system probably has the most varied trail surface of any in the state. It makes traction an interesting proposition.

Obstacles on the trail can be pretty cool. This one is made from a cut, hollow log turned into a ramp.

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This one is reminiscent of a bathtub. It’s easy to roll up into, but the hard turn to the left (or right, for the advanced line) is tricky. I didn’t make it this time, but I’ll figure it out. Probably sooner if I can watch someone else clean it first.

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Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife crossing the trail. This gal crossed in front of me on my second lap.

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All-in-all, a fun trail system. I’ll have to try out some of the advanced sections on my next visit. I mangled my derailleur hanger in the skills park 5min after arriving, and had to bend it back by hand. I didn’t want to push it too hard and really wreck my bike.

On Sunday, the 6th, I managed to squeeze in a ride at Fort Harrison State Park after work.

I felt really good on this ride, and my wife was really hauling. Her time at the Midwest Women’s MTB Clinic really helped her out. She attempted the log skinny on Lawrence Creek for the first time today. After several unsuccessful attempts, she got onto it and stayed on for about half its length. We think she was so surprised that she finally found the right line, that she surprised herself clean off the log. Haha.

I was feeling a little daring that day, too. I have avoided the pillbox on Schoen because of the rusty rebar poking out of it. And rightfully so. With my medical history, riding this anything but perfectly could be seriously dangerous for me. I was feeling good, though, so I gave it a go. My first attempt was unsuccessful, but I almost got it. I gave it another try, this time with a little more speed, and cleaned it pretty easily. With speed (and even with wimpy 26″ wheels), my bike just rolled right up it. I went one more time for the photo op, and cleaned it a second time, also.

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Great ride. Would have done two complete laps, but we were pushing park closure time. To finish before the gates closed, we’d have had to hammer our second full lap at least as fast as our first, and the wife’s legs were feeling cooked from pushing herself on our first lap. Her second would have been a fair bit slower.

I’m working a little extra this summer, saving up for a Salsa Bucksaw.

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This bike was most excellently announced officially on the 5 year anniversary of my remission. Secondly, I could use a new trail bike as the one I currently ride is 11yrs old. I’ve been upgrading components regularly over the years because the frame is a decent platform, but if I was to crack the frame, Spesh’s “lifetime” warranty on the frame would get me a frame in a wheelsize I don’t want, and couldn’t use my components on. But, I also really WANT a fat bike. The wife’s not thrilled with me getting two new mountain bikes, so this bike fills both categories. A year-round, trail-worthy fat bike. Third, if you haven’t noticed, I kinda have a yellow mountain bike thing.

I’ve been riding yellow mountain bikes for 14 years. Here was my first yellow bike. It’s sorta my thing, and it’d be cool to continue it.

Diamondback Topanga Comp

Neither of the stock Bucksaws is really spec’d how I’d like, so rather than buying the frameset (which only comes in blue – boo), I’ll buy the less expensive complete bike and swap the components I don’t want. First, the dropper post is going. I’ve never felt like I needed one. My arms are long enough that I can get behind my saddle without any trouble at all. I also don’t like 750mm bars. I also want a 1x drivetrain, but SRAM’s 1×11 is way too expensive. I really like Race Face’s Cinch convertible crankset. I’d set it up as a 1x with a spiderless chainring, and stay 10spd for now and keep the shifter and rear derailleur, modifying the cassette with one of the gear range expansion kits on the market, like maybe Wolftooth’s 42t cog or something else that’d do the same job.

I really want to make use of one of the tubeless wheelset options out or coming soon for fat bikes. I’m not sure I have the budget for carbon rims, though. So I think I’ll just use the stock wheels for awhile, consider my upgrade options, and save some money for that upgrade option. I think I’d also swap the Guide R brakes for some Shimanos. XT or maybe even XTR.

I figure that with the early mods I have planned, I could drop some weight from the stock bike. I’d probably be able to lose some more on the wheelset later, especially if I can save enough for a carbon tubeless set of rims.

I’m looking forward to this bike and can’t wait to place my order.

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