An unused gift card to a local bike shop got dusted off last week to pick up some Planet Bike Cascadia fenders for the geared Cross Check. I'm not sure when I took the original fenders off this bike and I have no idea where they went to, but it has been a while since I've had adequate protection on my favorite ride.

Some may say that fenders look dorky. I would say they look better than dried worms, road debris and a creaky bottom bracket look on your bike. I do wish I had gone with the silver color though. This bike has too much black happening. It's because I chicken out every time I choose a component or accessory... just when I think I'm brave enough to go flashy. Perhaps some new bar tape is in order to liven things up a bit. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'm no longer afraid of the rains. Bring it. I armed for just about any circumstance.

Get out there.


Clothes Roll

The new single speed Cross Check has been dialed in mechanically at this point but I have yet to install a rack. For the last couple days, I've been rolling up my t-shirt inside my jeans and using my belt to transport all my stuff on the bike. Simple.
You don't need much gear to survive transportation cycling.

Get out there.



Last Friday's MTB ride was my first ever ride with a Camelbak hydration system. Angie (who is the greatest wife ever) got one for me for my birthday this year. It's something I've always wanted try but never felt like spending the money on for myself. For me, water bottles have always worked but the Camelbak seemed like a great idea. And for longer bike packing trips, this will allow me to have a couple water bottles packed away while having this accessible on my back.

I was surprised how quickly I forgot the pack was on my back. It's small enough (and well designed enough) that it didn't affect my riding at all. And I did stay hydrated much better than I normally do. I continued to grab a quick sip as I pedaled down straightaways or stopped momentarily to navigate. That was the biggest benefit to me. I'm terrible at keeping water going in. Perhaps the newness of this kept it in the front of my mind. But hopefully I'll do a little better when riding dirt.

I also liked that it allows a bit more storage. It's got a small pocket for keys and wallet and I used the bungee cords to strap in a rolled up rain jacket. It had space for what I needed without allowing me to be the guy that carries everyone else's stuff :)

This won't replace water bottles, though, by any means. For commutes and road rides, the water bottles are much simpler. But camping and mountain biking will certainly benefit from this piece of gear.

Thanks, Ang.

Get out there.


Birthday Run

Last Friday I met Mike and Jeff early in the morning to ring in my birthday with a little dirt riding. We headed to Capitol View Park at 7am with a few hours of riding in our minds. The weather had been awesome all week and it was going to be our first opportunity to ride dry dirt in a while. To our demise, the skies opened up as we pulled in the parking lot and the rain never let up.

You might notice some changes to the Troll. I took the rack off the back and added a suspension fork up front. I've had this Manitou fork for a while but never put it on. It's a quality fork but very dated. It was new in '99 and has spent most of it's life hanging in my garage. But after riding it last week, I think I'm ready to let it go. For whatever reason, I strongly disliked having a squishy front end. I really struggled to get used to its ride. Most people slobber over suspension bikes. But after years of rigid riding, I think I'm committed. I'll be taking this fork off tomorrow night and listing it on Craigslist. I have no use for it now. I love the control and feel of a rigid fork.
This was Jeff's longest ride thus far on his new Haro. As we rode through sheets of rain all day, he was the only one maintaining braking abilities with discs. Mike and I are on v-brakes and we both felt major loss in stopping power. At the end of the day, the biggest temptation to leave the trails were our mechanical issues from riding in solid rain.
At one point, the trail crosses under an overpass. The run-off created a massive waterfall. The whole day felt like this. Several parts of the trails were 3-5 inches deep as we mashed on the pedals to stay upright. Downhills were sloppy and slow and anytime you got your speed up, mud flew in your face and blinded you. It was quite the adventure!
But despite the rain, we had fun, as always. It was an adventure. We were outside. And we were riding our bikes. I will never complain when I get to do that. Mike said it first... It felt like we were riding somewhere new because of the rain. We'd never experienced Cap View like this before, so it added to the joy of riding. When it was over we were more exhausted and a bit more muddy than usual. But we all had smiles on our faces. It was a perfect way to start my birthday.

Get out there.


Single Speed Cross Check

This weekend I took the first ride out on the newly built single speed Cross Check. There are several things I learned. For one, I should spin around the neighborhood a few miles before I take a bike out to commute to work (when I'm trying to make it to a meeting on time). I had to stop three times to adjust or fix something and barely made it to my meeting Saturday. But aside from that, here's my thoughts.

New tires and fenders are a must. I've never had an issue with toe clearance before, but these 29er balloon tires and mega-fenders just don't work. Aside from my toe hanging over, the pedal alone nearly clips the fender. The geometry just doesn't work. But I've got some nice old aluminum fenders and smaller tires I can throw on there pretty easily.

Next, I'm not liking the gearing that I have to get with my rear wheel. I was just going to use an old wheel and cassette I had in the garage and not worry about running an actual single speed wheel. But my chain line is screwy and the quick release doesn't want to stay put. So I'm thinking I may head to the bike shop for a cheapo bolt-on wheel.

I'm slowly learning my lessons.

Get out there.


Two Weeks

The geared Cross Check comes back tomorrow. It's been two weeks since I've used a derailleur on my commute. There's a bittersweet feeling as I pedal the 925. This bike is a blast to ride. I love riding single speed and this has been the perfect bike for my foul weather adventures. But I love riding single speed so much that I've built up a single speed Cross Check with Doug's old frame (photos to come soon). So I've spent two weeks gaining lots of mileage on the 925, only to post it for sale online.
It's available if anyone wants it. I don't want to fool with shipping it. But if someone wanted to pay for a bike box and shipping, I guess I'd do it. Shoot me a price that seems fair to you to jayremenshneider(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a comment. If you can tell me what reference "Jay Remenshneider" is, I'll knock twenty bucks off :)

Get out there.


Lunch Break Dirt

During lunch break yesterday, Neil, Mike and I headed to the park near work. Its about a four mile ride to the park but we had all bike commuted that morning. So we had to get there on two wheels.
Mike forgot his helmet. He's tough like that. Plus, the trails have finally dried out a bit after this wet, wet winter. We had more grip on the ground than we've seen in a long time. It made the ride feel a lot faster.
At one point I got separated from the guys. That's Neil and Mike down a healthy drop.

It was over a 30 mile day for me yesterday. It's been a while since I've done that much. I'm looking forward to the fresh new season and more riding outside of the commute.

get out there.


And Another...

Yes, that's two bike commuters riding with me to work this morning. Neil and Justin both rode in today. I'm pretty sure having two commuting companions is a first for me. I was feeling pretty energized by it all. Too bad neither are riding home with me in the 85 degree heat, though. I'll be cursing their names at that point :)

Get out there.


Xtracycle Ladder Hauling

Once again, I sing the praises of the Xtracycle. The girls were at the grocery yesterday while I was left at home to manage the untamable energy of a two year old and five year old boy. They wanted to be outside but I had work to do.

Then the lightbulb went off.

Of the work that needed to be done, on that list was returning a ladder to my friend Aaron. His house is a couple miles away by bike and the Xtracycle is perfect for just such a job. Within minutes, we loaded up and were off. This is one of those tasks that is probably easier by bike than by car. The ladder weighs nothing and is easily lashed to the Xtra. We had fun, got in a little workout and checked off an item on our to-do list. Thanks, Xtracycle. My boys and I are grateful.

Get out there.


No Gears, No Problem

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I loaned out my geared Cross Check to a friend. Today as I pedaled my one gear all 11 miles into work, I kept thinking how much I love single speed. You can almost turn your brain off once you get onto the bike path. No cars traffic. No bike traffic. No gears to change. No reason to brake or turn. To me, it's meditation at it's finest.

Get out there.


Commute Buddy

My friend Neil (who happens to work with me and live in my neighborhood) got a bike for his birthday. His wife found a steal of a deal on an old Jamis hybrid that was in perfect condition. So with the hype of a new bike and the fact that we live close and work together, commuting together is a simple decision.

It was fun to have someone on the bike for the ride. It's few and far between when I have someone with me. I let another friend borrow my geared Cross Check, so I was rocking the single speed. It was fun to do a side by side of a geared bike and the 925.

 Congrats, Neil. Let's keep 'em rolling.

Get out there.


Starting Early

The Troll just got it's first real bath since I built it up several months ago. The winters in Kentucky are wet. And with the excitement of a new mountain bike, I was riding despite the muddy conditions. So my boys helped me wash it the other day (my oldest daughter had very little interest in my muddy bike... she just wanted to spin around on the clean, pretty princess bike).

As we washed, we discussed the mechanics of every component. It was really fun for me to explain all of it to them and they LOVED understanding how it all worked together. We had a ton of fun together.

When I finished, I thought about how my first mechanical experience with a bicycle was about five years ago. These guys are getting an early start. It'll be cool for them to grow up around bikes. They love it and I love doing this kind of stuff with them. Good father/son/bike time. You can't beat that.

Get out there.


Nothing New

Nothing new to report. This morning I wore my back-up, back-up helmet. I loaned my back-up helmet to a buddy and had to wear an old junky helmet. The velcro rubbed my head the whole way so I just finally took it off.

And you've probably noticed I've been writing less recently. I'm still riding my normal amount of mileage. I just don't have much to say. When it comes down to writing about how my head got rubbed by velcro, I'm really scraping the bottom of the barrel for blog content.

But I'm still out riding. That's what's important. Sometimes it's nice to ride without having this blog in the back of my head.

Get out there.


Louisville Visit

I was in Louisville for a long meeting yesterday so I decided to take advantage of being in new territory for a little dirt riding. I hit up Cherokee Park for the first time on wide tires. When I lived in Louisville, I would ride here every once in a while for a nice little training loop. But their dirt trails are great, too.
There were lots of short, steep climbs that resulted in some fun switchbacks. It made me realize that my usual MTB spot, Capitol View Park, is pretty flat. The steepness of the climbs put a hurting on me. There were several times I rode a wheelie all the way up!
I'm terrible at riding logs like this. I can't keep a good line on a mountain bike for some reason. So I spent a few minutes practicing here. I love building technical skill like this.
I zigged and zagged around this creek the entire ride.
The Troll unfolded in the back of the work minivan. I was sure to keep things clean :)

Any Louisville readers recommend anywhere else to ride in town? I was very pleased with Cherokee. I'll certainly be back. But, in the future, I'd love to build in a full day of MTB in and around Louisville.

Get out there.


Great Gloves

This past weekend on my bikepacking trip, I grew a special bond with my old gloves. I've had these Gore Bike Wear gloves for the last couple years and they've been nothing but faithful. They were one of the first "nice" pieces of gear I bought when I got into cycling. They block wind well, keep me warm down into the teens, but offer enough dexterity to really let me use my hands. No complaints, whatsoever.

Honestly, I'm not even sure of the actual model name. I went through Gore's website and couldn't identify them. But they're tried and true. I have several Gore Bike Wear products and I love every one of them. For this trip, they kept me warm and my hands protected as I fumbled around on my loaded MTB.

By the way, I laid these on the tailgate of Mike's white pickup. That's why the photo looks so angelic.

Get out there.


What Month is This?

This morning as I pedaled in in the bright sunshine wearing a light jacket and pants I asked myself that question. "What month is this?" It feels like we're about eight weeks ahead of schedule. I'm okay with the warmth and clear skies, but I do miss having a winter. No snow biking for 2012 so far. Who knows that could happen, though.

Get out there.