Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How do you ride a mtn bike again?

Seriously. How do you ride a mountain bike again? I haven't been on my mountain bike since summer. It was totally intentional as I was killing myself riding both bikes. Literally. My Seven Sola is incredible. And it makes up for a lot of my crappy technical ability with its disc brakes and suspension. My cross bike has neither disc brakes or suspension as its a C.R.O.S.S bike. It took me a bunch of hard crashes on my cross bike to realize I better put away the mtn bike and just ride the cx bike so I would remember just what is rideable on a cx machine and what is not.

But I have missed mtn biking I really have. Summer was filled with some amazing mtn bike rides. I found some trails that are minutes from my door that are like a wonder land. I got to ride with some really cool people and had a blast. So after being lazy all morning dreading a sprint workout on the cx bike I just pulled the sola off the hook and was like Hell yeah I'll go mtn biking. It was awesome to be back on that bike. It just fits me so well. But it is a bit like a Newfoundland puppy it is just a big  happy, slow drooly bundle of fun...Man is it slooowww on the pavement! But I was tired and slow was good. I am supposed to be recovering not hammering right now.
I rolled down to Cutler to do the route from Thom P's weds night ride. Holy crap I have lost all the ninja skills I gained last summer! The color explosion that was the peak of foliage in NE apparently has now turned burnt umbre and has deposited itself all over the trails covering every nasty wheel sucking root and axe head rock. It was like riding on marbles...I rode off the trail about ten times because you could no longer discern trail from brambles. Had to sit there a few times and scratch my head trying to figure out just exactly where the trail went...Its possible I fell under some fairie spell while in the woods and am lucky to have emerged unscathed...

Its got me thinking about the end of cross season a bit. Don't want to get ahead of myself as I love cross but last summer I just kind of let myself enjoy the bike didn't matter if it was cross, road, mtn or ladies three speed. If it had two wheels and I could push the pedals towards some destination it pretty much kicked ass. I am definitely racing and riding my mtn bike a lot next spring and summer. I am definitely doing Battenkill in April. I am itching for some long road rides...Cape in a day? Harpoon to Harpoon? Lot of options...Lots of planning and plotting to do no doubt. For now just going to soak up every minute of cross but I think I may avoid...PCSD this year...most years I go in a post-cross season funk that lasts months...don't think it will happen this year.

So in light of the season winding down a quick Hot/Not download: 

1. Fango tires: People turned on these tires faster than anything I have ever witnessed. These were the HOTT tires last year. Sure there were some red flags with people having trouble with the 34s. There were some quality control issues. But most people loved these tires. This season...not so much. The Fango pretty much got blamed for everything...Swine Flu? Had to be the fango. Global warming? definitely the Fango's fault. Nitro showing the budding flair for investigative journalism even got the quote of the season from Joachim Parbo (who helped in the design of the tire) "we'll get it right next time." ouch that hurts. 

I personally liked the tire a lot. But I think I now know why people hate it and have such a visceral reaction. Its not a mud tire. It is basically a Dugast Typhoon. Look at the two pictures below...very similar. So I for one will probably use them again next year. They are a fast grass tire that has some bite for mud but repeat after me they are not a mud tire!
2. Campy Rocks/Campy Sucks. I love love love Campy. Campy saved my ass just yesterday. For reals. Reason # 167 why I love campy shifters. I am rolling along on my CX bike just spinning when the whole front wheel gets jacked up by a root. My left hand flies off the bars I am going to crash hard. My left pinky catches the thumbshifter at the last moment and I pull it back down and ride it out. If I was on sram or shimano I would be in a cast right now.

Why does Campy suck? I can relate to the Fango hate I really can. Cross is probably the one discipline where you do not have time or patience for equipment that doesn't work or last. It can be immensely personal obviously or it can just be mechanical. I tried to make campy cranks work for cross but the suck. One muddy race and the bearings would be shot to hell. The TA outer ring never worked with the campy front derailler at all...

So I put Dura Ace on with the sexy D/A 46t cross outer ring and haven't looked back...It just works. All the time everytime and the bearings are still smooth as silk after one of the muddier cross seasons we've had lately in New England.

3. Assos no more on my Ass...ok that's a crude subhead but hard to resist. I loved Assos chamois creme. Then they changed the formula...wtf? Its like changing the recipe for Coke...you just don't mess with perfection. I tried the new Assos but wasn't feeling it. Then Pete Smith comes out with two chamois cremes! Pro and Euro! Wow. I will never go back. They are both great chamois cremes....if I was to pick one it would be Euro as it has a really nice aroma to it...


  1. Nice post. I'm headed out for a night ride on the MTB tomorrow. I think it's getting to that point in the season where CX still rocks, but long road rides and MTBing are looking attractive again. Short of riding in mud, I can't tell why people are turning on the Fangos. I'll definitely add a set of Rhino's to the mix next year though. I've had to run the old Mud's a couple of times.

  2. Beljum budder. No smell, but seriously good results.

  3. I've got the ShimFSAgnolo setup on my cx bike, another reason I like the 9 speed for cross. Mirage 9 levers and rear derailleur, FSA compact front, cyclocrossworld special 105 crank w/TA 38/46 rings. Why the heck did they stop selling that crank setup? Great value. Yes, it's the original Octalink BB design. That's probably obsolete now.

    Anyway, it works well with Shimano or Campy 9sp cassettes. Barring the one chain fall-off I had at PVD, it's been quite reliable, too. Front shifting is fast. The only annoyance is that my other bikes are all 10sp campy, so I can't easily share wheels or cassettes. But for such a Franken-bike setup, it's smooth.