Monday, December 08, 2008

Visiting old friends

I was hoping to get out for another century this weekend, but my Garmin was dead(I think the battery is failing). So I decided to make a trail ride/gear test day out of it. I was testing my frame mounted winter hydration system, vaper barrior clothing, and my first real attempt to ride platform pedals in about 15years.

Started out at Dehns in Burlington. Unfortunately the trail is already an ice holed, hiker rutted, bumpy mess. And apparently the fourwheelers came back for Thanksgiving, as there's a whole new batch of wheeler ruts. Damn, I was hoping maybe it would stay smooth for the winter, but I think Shimek's equestrian trails are smoother right now.

So I did a lap, loaded up, and headed for Spring Lake in Macomb. I haven't ridden over there in a year or so, so I wasn't sure what I'd find.

Freakin sweet trail, as always, is what I found. Perfect conditions, minus the slightly icy bridges.



I chickened out on this one and took the hill next to it. The spiral bridge above the drop way pretty slick, and that drop ramp has paint on it under that snow. That thing is slick when it's dry.

So the results of my testing:
Frame mounted hydration system: works sort of. The hose is still the weak point, gotta be real sure you get all the water to drain back into the bottle.

Vapor barrior clothing: Also works sort of. The vapor barrior did indeed keep my insulating layers dry. All I need to do now is find some XL long cuff nitril gloves to keep my cuffs from getting soaked, and wear my RBH Next to Skin shirt next to my skin instead of leaving a base to soak underneath, and find some insulation layers with pit zips so I can adjust my venting before sweating out in the first place.

Platforms: Umm. I don't think I lose anything climbing as I can still granny spin and mash my way up everything. I do feel like I'm losing a little control on the tech stuff though. Place where I would normally be able to put the bike where I want it are a little harder to ride. It's been awhile, more rides should improve that. For really cold winter riding I may not have a choice, as they really are warmer than clipless.

On a somber note, cycling legend of Burlington, Dan Ring, passed away last week. Dan was a botany professor at SouthEastern Community College, daily bicycle commuter and advocate, and a super nice guy. The kind of guy that always had a nice thing to say and a smile on his face. I regretfully missed the ride to his funeral services last weekend. He died at a wisened age of a heart attack while riding his bike. I suppose there are worse ways to go. He was fit and functioning till the end, and died doing something he loved. I hope I am so lucky. I wish I would have known him better. Dan, you will be missed.



Ari said...

I just got done riding the Lambdas for 2 hours in some rutted trail by my house. I wear redwing boots with smartwool expedition socks. works great. I have a friend that works at sram and he is convinced my snow bike would work better if it had a front fork. Also what pressure do you run on your Nokians? Shoot me a mail about the lights if I should send some cash.

Neve_r_est said...

My experience is that suspension forks don't typically like cold weather all that much. Maybe in theory it would help keep your contact patch on the ground, but in reality I doubt it's any better than rigid and much more prone to failure.
With my 2.4"s I run about 25-30lbs. Lower pressures grip and float better, just be careful not to pinch flat. Oh and tubeless is not reliable below freezing, the sealant freezes.


Steve Fuller said...

Titec H bars on the Monkeh???

Ari said...

Thanks, Maybe I just need to lower the pressure. I was just getting bounced all over the place the other night. I get awesome traction with the Extremes. They are great tires.
thanks for the info,

Neve_r_est said...

Steve: no, the originals, Jones H bars. They've been on there pretty much since I've owned the bike, minus the time I had the drops on it.

Ari: Those have been my observations anyways, hope it helps.


Antoine said...

Nice Monkey! A couple of questions;

Do you ever snag those shift cables on branches etc?
(I get anxious about this as I once parted company with my MTB at 30mph when my bar-end hooked-up on a vine and I lost a lot of blood as a result)

Is that contraption on the top of your stem a home-built light of some kind?

I have enjoyed reading though your blog.

Neve_r_est said...

The shift cables are tied to the brake cable so they don't hang too low, and I've not snagged them yet. The H-bars aren't nearly as apt to snag things as bar ends are, but I do have this habit of smashing my hands in the narrows. Tree wedge.


Neve_r_est said...

Contraption on the bars: Copperhead light and custom faceplate


Jill said...

Thanks for the thoughts on VB clothing. I've been mulling it myself, but I just feel a little sketched out about it. It seems if you're going to go shirt and pants, it won't really work unless you cut off all exit points (i.e. the cuffs.) And if you're out in the middle of nowhere, and it's not really working, then what?

Neve_r_est said...

Hi Jill,

I'm no expert, but I've done a bunch of research on vapor barriors and what little testing I've done supports what I've read.

Here's the best description I've found of what the VB is supposed to do and how to make it work: has a bunch of knowledge on vapor barriors as well. This site has been an eye opener in general to me. Check out the forums and podcasts for sure.

And if you get a chance to read Secrets of Warmth by Hal Weiss, that is an excellent resourch as well.

Having adjustable venting in all your layers is pretty helpful either way.

Vapor barrior or not, the goal is to keep dry air between you and the elements. If you sweat your insulating layers through, you lose that. Vapor barriors keep you from soaking your insulation from the inside. In essence, a gap in vapor barrior is no different than a gap in insulation.

I just sent an order in to Warmlite for a set of VB gloves with long cuffs. I think $17 for a set of custom fit gloves that fix all the issues I had with the nitril gloves should be money well spent.


Lance Andre said...

Nice Ride! the frame mounted water system is cool, i was thinking about something like that to reduce the weight on my back...