Monday, June 29, 2009

Tires in Three Parts - Part Three

MTB tires

I'm sure I should pay attention to my MTB tires but the simple fact is that I just don't. When I purchased my current mountain bike it came with tires that seem to work just fine so I just ride them. When it comes to mountain biking, I'm a fan of swoopy single track with a tacky dirt ribbon of rolling pleasure punctuated with some technical spots but I'm not out there to prove anything or risk life and limb. I've done enough of that already in this life. I have run the Schwalbe Big Apples over some single track and they are OK but are pretty close to being slicks so if any kind of bite is needed they just wash out.
For the record, I am riding Jones XR-B 29 x 2.25 on the front and WTB Nano Raptor 29 x 2.1 on the rear.
It's possible that these are simply the perfect tires for the type of riding I do as they do serve me very well but until I do more experimenting I won't know. So there it is, more than anyone likely cared to hear from me on bike tires but I feel better for it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Walk Softly Carrying a Big Stick

No biking this weekend
Had a great walk instead

In the park
With the pooch.

He ate sticks,
Bugs ate us &

We ate up the
Peace of the woods.

Tires in Three Parts - Part Two

I don't know how you've all been sleeping waiting for this but, finally, here's...

Commuter tires

I started out with the factory tires on my commuter and have changed both the bike and the tires over the last four years. I started on on a Trek 'Police Bike' that was the first bike I put studded tires on which is the only reason I mention this bike. Those tires were Nokian Mount & Ground and I liked them a lot. They had a nice ride and were very stable over everything a Minnesota winter could throw at them but when I retired this bike, I sent them on their way.
The new commuter is a Surley Karate Monkey and is a very nearly bomb-proof bike that wears the jewelry from the Trek but has new wheels since this frame is a 29er. I had some custom wheels built that could accommodate either rim or disc brakes and started out with rim brakes. I put on Schwalbe Big Apples, 29er big and 60mm fat. These tires are so big that it borders on looking like a clown bike. However, it rides like a Cadillac with these super cushy tires and the rolling resistance isn't nearly as bad as you might think.
When the temp drops below freezing it's time for the studded tires and I have tried two flavors on the the Monkey. A couple years back I picked up some Schwalbe Snow Studs and they were OK but were a bit narrow for deep snow and have pretty big tread blocks so they are pretty squirmy on pavement.
They didn't ride as well as the Nokians I had on the Ice Bike but Nokian didn't seem to have anything comparable in a 29er tire. The Nokians are also notoriously hard to get your hands on as they become available late, for a MN rider, and sell out quickly. I rode the Snow Studs for a season but decided that I needed something else for the next season. That's when I picked up the Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires which is a studded version of their excellent touring tire.
I love these tires and you can see with them side by side how different the tread and stud patterns are.
This tire turns out to be as close to perfect as a studded tire can get. They roll very smoothly, in fact the first few rides I kept stopping to see if I had flatted as the ride was disconcertingly smooth but in fact they really do ride that smoothly and I have yet to flat them. As commuters they roll well on pavement and are just enough wider than the Snow Studs to do pretty well in several inches of snow. I took them on some pretty deep single track and with lowered pressure they did pretty darn well though I did develop a healthy lust for a Pugsley and their ability to just float across the snow in a way that a 'normal' bike never could. The only improvement I could imagine would be if Schwalbe added a studded version of their Big Apple tires as they would have sufficient float to attack some pretty serious snow and still be prepared for underlying ice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is It Friday Yet?

I'm sure
I'll figure out this
Full time (plus!) job thing
Still find time to post
but in the mean time...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What Do They Mean By That?

I'm just sayin'
PS. Parts two and three of Tires are caught up in the regulatory approval process but should be released from quarantine soon...

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I can't even believe how short these long days have become. I'll be right back after life station identification.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Are You Listening?

It's a peace that comes over me

A wave of quiet

Crashing around me

Sucking out the noise

Everyday noise

Long times longing

Belonging within

A circle spun out

Long before me

It's where I come from

Aging relative brings contact

Reaffirms what 

I already knew

Solace in knowledge

Questing, caring, asking

Am I taking care?

Am I paying attention?

The waves crash around me

173 years of peace and wisdom

Am I fine? Not the stock answer,

Really asking, listening

Offering sage wisdom

Not forced, just set on the table

For the taking or leaving

My father's brother sharing

Concerns I've had,

Patience, waiting for the crisis

Yet to come, a stroke or perhaps

Wandering off the edge

Existence ever fragile,

A keen eye on the maybe

A tear on the likely

Watching all your friends

And family die, isn't lonely

It's life, better for the acceptance

Worse for the resigning to it.

Chances are there for the taking

Not by him or her, but each

Of their own, for their own

Fruit we pick is the feast

We have bounty or rot

As by our own hand and not

Calling as it is the scenes

On the stage that is our life

Curtain calls by our performance or

Curtains, sewn by our own hand

Connections to the possible

Dreams of what could be

Woven from the same cloth as

You owe me and I never

How fickle the current

How strong the paddle

How mysterious the strokes never taken

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tires in Three Parts - Part One

I'm so late answering Fat Lad on this one I don't suppose anyone even recalls that the topic was my suggestion in the first place. No matter, it's finally ready for posting so here it is in three parts.

Road tires

When I got my road bike, I ran the tires it came with and didn't think too much about them. I was returning to cycling after too long a hiatus and just relishing being back on two wheels kept my mind occupied. It had seemed like I was flatting more than most but so often the flats were discovered when I went to get the bike for a ride so a quick change and I was on my way without the embarrassment of continually holding up the group. Well one day I figured out I had purchased more than twenty tubes that spring and I started thinking about new tires.

I do have to thank those tires since it was a result of one of those flats that I met The Sweetie but other than that one time, the flats were getting on my nerves. I hit the wall the day both tires were flat when I came out of work and the next day picked up some Specialized Armadillo tires. Kevlar is the magic ingredient though from the weight of them it might as well have been steel belts. I didn't really mind too much though since I rode my first pair of them better than 3000 (4000?) miles and don't recall a single flat. I replaced them with the next version of the tire that now comes with a reflective sidewall, a great feature for commuting since it's often dusk when I'm riding to or from work. 

I now have several wheel sets (they're like potato chips; you can't just have one...) and keep the Armadillo tires on the bike's original wheels and run Michelin Pro Race on a much lighter set of wheels borrowed from The Sweetie since she upgraded to a wheel set that seems to have negative weight. It might be the helium she puts in the tires. I put a set on last fall towards the end of the road biking season and have been riding them all spring. They are smooth, supple and amazingly puncture resistant. Just this spring I have put over 2000 miles on them running over quite of bit of left over winter road crud and they just keep rolling.

Stay tuned for part two!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why I Was Scared

I drove to work yesterday. I'm not proud of it but it happened and there's nothing to be done about it now. My commute is about an hour on the bike and around 45 minutes in the car due to massive construction on the two arteries between me and where I work.
Driving in rush hour traffic underscores how much I hate being in a car stuck in traffic but looking in my rear view mirror I get a little scared and decide to snap some pictures of this moron behind me so that when he rear ends me, I have photo evidence of his driving style.
It's a little hard to see in this first pic but he kept coming real close when the traffic stopped so I could see what he was doing. You can see in the second picture just a little better. Notice that his head is turned towards the passenger side of his multi-ton rolling weapon. No big deal I suppose since lots of folks don't keep their eyes on the road every second but for the several miles he was behind me I didn't once see him look at the road.No, looking at the road would have been too much of a distraction for the email he was writing. Perhaps he was just putting the finishing touches on his epic novel that would free him from driving this commercial pickup truck through rush-hour traffic every day. Of course I didn't watch him every second either since I was also driving and prefer to keep my eyes on the road which I did even when holding my phone over my shoulder to capture the evidence.
It was scary enough having this moron behind me when I was in the car but I couldn't help but wonder if he drove this way off the freeway as well and how long it would take until he "accidently" took out a cyclist or even a pedestrian due to his lack of attention. I had been hoping to get a picture of the side of his truck and send the whole collection to the company but I was driving and thought that was more important...