MTB Photo Dump

I've been riding all the time but blogging less. I don't think there's a reason other than staying busier than usual. And if I'm going to slack on something, blogging loses out to family, work and riding. But here's a quick photo dump of this past week's rides in the dirt.

 Get out there.


There it is...

There's that Kentucky winter. Windy, forty degrees and rainy. Good to see you, old friend.

Get out there.


Family Fat Bike

photo from Moray Fat Bike

Go check out Moray Fat Bike and look at his family fat bike build. It's incredible. I'd love to run this bounciness on a long-bike setup.

Get out there.


If You've Thought About Bike Commuting...

Do it this week.
You should give it a try this week while the weather is cool but not cold and those leaves are perfectly in their fall pigment. If you try bike commuting this week, there's a good chance you'll fall in love with it.

Get out there.


Put a Bird On It

I'm guessing it has something to do with migration patterns, but there are an unusual amount of birds hanging out with me on my commute these days. Yesterday morning, they flew from tree to tree in large groups, sticking with me the entire way.

They would all take off, causing a huge rush of leaves to fall down, then fly a hundred yards up the road and land in the trees ahead. It was awesome to see. As soon as I would get closer, they'd leave their perch and do the same thing again.

Any bird experts out there? Why am I noticing so many right now?

Get out htere.


This is Winter

I'm starting to get good reminders that winter is coming. Today's reminder: wetness. Winters in Kentucky are wet. Always wet. We don't get much snow but we get plenty of precipitation. This is the time of year that I have to start wearing one pair of shoes and bringing another. This is when I put wet clothes on to ride home at the end of the day because they didn't dry while hanging in my office. This is when the smell of wet horse manure floods the nostrils on my biggest climb.

This is my winter.

Get out there.


Exploring Around Home

A few weeks ago I started exploring a new area of roads I had never been on before. When you're on your bike, it's easy to stick with what you know. I had gotten into the bad habit of riding the same routes over and over again for the sake of simplicity. What eventually happens (at least with me) is that you get bored and have less desire to go out and ride.

With a little motivation, I began to seek out new roads, dead end or not, to have a better understanding of what's around my house. Saturday, I went out for a 20 miler, and saw some beautiful landscapes.
Many of the roads are like this; one lane, zero traffic. This, however is an example of an unknown road leading to nowhere. I pedaled hard up a mile long ascent to eventually roll up on a closed gate. On some days that would be frustrating. But it wasn't bad. Leaves are changing colors and new sights are always engaging to the mind. No big deal.
This bridge was at the bottom of a massive hill. It's probably the fastest I've ever gone on a bike. I actually got a little nervous. But here at the bottom is a beautiful scene. Everything out here is private property. But I'd love to cozy up with these people and start squatting here for lunches and whatnot.
Here's a shot from standing on the bridge. This creek runs all over the area. I must have crossed it 15 times on this one ride.
Lots of climbing around a creek, though. The photo above is a hill I had just climbed. It drops off in the distance, but went on for another half mile or so.

This ride made me love the Cross Check. I've been putting so many miles on the LHT, that I've forgotten what it feels like to have a more nimble bike under me. It accelerates so much faster and climbs with much more ease. Honestly, I've thought about replacing it with another LHT. This ride had me wavering on that idea.

I'm appreciative of my Kentucky home when I have rides like this. It's a beautiful place to live.

Get out there.


New ESI Grips

Ever since the Troll has had it's new build components, I've not been able to find a grip situation that I've liked. The SRAM shifters require your thumb to curl under the bar for both up and down-shifting. The Ergon grips that I prefer on my MTB bars are too wide and make it harder to get my thumb down and then up under the hand position. So I have to go with a more traditional round grip.

I've experimented with several grips and haven't found anything that eliminates numbness the same way that the Ergons do. Here's my next attempt. My buddy, Jason, runs the ESI's and I really like the potential.

Soft foamy material conforms to your hand as you ride. It seems pretty cushy. If these things work well, I may add a set to the upper portion of the H-Bar. For now, though, they're just on the bike. No miles have been ridden. I'll let you know how they feel after actually riding them.

Get out there.


Good Start

Kids have been on fall break all week. I took off work yesterday and started the early in the dirt with Jason from Bike Green Lexington.

I love the fall. You see your breath in the air and lots of leaves on the trail. Fun conditions to ride in.

Get out there.


The Gloves Are On

This week is the first week of the season requiring gloves for the morning ride. Winter is coming!

Get out there.


Allow Me to Rant

This post may push peoples' buttons. I don't mean for it to. But I had a great conversation last night with my longest running friend about riding and the gear that goes with it, and I figured I would share some thoughts.
My friend Jeff, along with several others in the office, have been riding more... a LOT more. There's a group of fellas that have caught the cycling bug and have been reeling in hundreds of miles over the summer months. It's awesome.

One thing that comes up in conversation with these guys (and others), is why I don't wear lycra shorts, a bikey jersey and clipless shoes. What's even more surprising to people is that I actually do own all of those things. And though my cycling buddies rock the spandex kit and swear by it all, I just choose not to utilize them.


Because I ride a lot. A whole lot. Are these guys getting more mileage than me? Some weeks, yes. But sometimes I ride more. But the mileage isn't the factor. For me, those fancy clothes cost a lot of money and wear out just as quickly as any other garment. A pair of bibs and a jersey don't serve me any better than my faithful cut-off camouflage pants and a t-shirt. They just don't. I don't need a maxi-pad under my butt and I don't need fancy pockets on my back. My wallet, keys, Leatherman, work badge and cell phone go in my pants pocket... even for a 30 miler... even for a 50 miler. I genuinely believe that any sneakers, any short and any shirt work fine.

The other side of it all is rooted in convenience. Unless I were to invest a great deal of cash in lycra and whatnots, I wouldn't have enough gear to stay fresh for daily riding. If I did two high mileage rides a week, I'd wear that stuff. But I ride daily, a couple times a day. So when yesterday's clothes are still drying from the rainstorm on the way home, I just grab a different pair of shorts and a different shirt. The dirty ones go in the laundry. Not the special laundry. The laundry regular laundry. And there's plenty of old t-shirts and shorts laying on the floor of my closet. No special attention require.

And the fancy clippy shoes? I use them on my mountain bike. The Troll only gets ridden for one purpose. It rides dirt and nothing else. But my other bikes are grabbed at varying times for varying reasons without much planning or forethought. The rides just happen. So I steer away from shoes that have one purpose. I usually wear the shoes that I'll be wearing in a meeting, minutes after I get off the bike. Simple.

How did I arrive here? The more I ride, the more generalities I see in my gear. The more miles, the more weather conditions, the more temperature variations, the more destinations, the more purposes of riding mean that specialty equipment doesn't serve me well.

What about you? How do you feel about cycling specific clothing? And know this... I really don't have an opinion of what you should do. This is what I've found works best for me. But if you're into that stuff, that's great. You're probably riding your bike a lot and I think that's peachy keen. It's the experience that matters, not the fashion choices. That's why you'll find me riding in a Bob Ross t-shirt and Jordache sweatpants.

But I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Get out there.


Like a Good Neighbor

While waiting at the bus stop this morning, I got a text from my neighbor and coworker, Neil, asking if I was riding in this morning. He's really been enthusiastic about riding more recently. But I was still caught off guard by his desire to ride today. It was raining out, and most of the time, that's a good excuse to not ride.

But I was already planning on pedaling in. And Neil jumped at the opportunity.
This past weekend, Neil put some drop bars on his Jamis hybrid. He got the bike for a steal on Craigslist but he's always wanted more hand positions and the geometry that drops offer. So he took on his first major bike DIY project and made it happen. The bike looks great and made for some good motivation to keep riding. Nice work, Neil!

And for those out there reading that don't ride in foul weather, talk to Neil. The latest, greatest gear for all-weather riding is helpful. But ultimately, you don't need it. And riding is always fun, rain or shine.

Get out there.


Early Morning

This morning was really out of the ordinary. I hopped on the bike before 7am and went out for a non-commmute 20 miler. Monday is my day to take one of the little people to school so I usually ride MTB during lunch. But a 100% chance of rain by noon didn't look so great for riding dirt trails. So I opted to try and beat the rain by riding super early.

My plans were thwarted, though, as it started to rain before I even got out of my neighborhood. I was determined to ride, so I continued on my soggy path.
It's really beautiful to ride in the dark. Everything seems different. But with the right lighting on your bike and/or body, you're just as visible (if not more) than day time. The photo above is an airplane hanger with two helicopters and two jets. It's owned by a railroad tycoon that lives in Jessamine County. I like using the word "tycoon," by the way.

Soon enough, the sun had arisen and I was left under a grey, wet sky. But I had chosen roads that were very lightly traveled. So the rain and darkness never really bothered my nerves. In 20 miles, I was only passed once by one car on a road without a huge shoulder for me to ride on.
The photo above is what I believe to be the Primate Rescue Center. I've known it was in Jessamine County for a while but never looked it up to check it out. There weren't any formal markings or signage. But this was the address (and it certainly looked like more than just a private residence). If that's it, there's more than 50 monkeys and apes in there. Pretty cool.
Two long haul truckers.
I looped back towards the road that crosses through the creek. The roads around here tend to be very steep and winding. It's a little nerve wracking when it's raining and drops are pelting you in the face and you're on two skinny tires and you're rolling at over thirty miles an hour. But that exhilaration is a great way to wake up in the early morning.

So 20(ish) miles before work. Plenty of time to hit the showers and distribute children to their schools. Great way to start the day.

Get out there.