Today On A Bike

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I joined some friends for a fun summer day riding mountain bikes at Brown County in Bloomington Indiana yesterday. We had a great time enjoying the weather and trails.

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We all stopped for a great dinner at Upland Brewery before going our own ways. The restaurant and brewery have expanded since I was last there a few years ago, but the quality and atmosphere was as good as ever.

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Driving home listening to good music, watching the bugs accumulate on my windshield in true summertime tradition, and taking in the warm glowing summer sun was the perfect ending to the trip. It was one of those great kinds of trips that I’ll remember for a while.

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Today On A Bike

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I’m sitting in a plane on a runway in Texas thinking about riding and the experiences it provides me. I spent the last bit in Photoshop editing a few pictures from last weekends St. Louis mountain biking trip with friends. Chubb in St. Louis is a great trail that I fall more in love with every time I ride it. It’s got the most tech within three hours of driving that I’ve found. It’s not a long trail but it packs a rocky, techy punch in terms of midwest terrain. I love it.

I stared at the “staircase” at Chubb for what feels like the fifth trip without taking the drop line. I took the rollable line yet again. I had intentions of trying it but bailed on it again based on how sketchy the run up is, being filled with foot size rocks sprinkled everywhere.

While we were there, we sessioned the “staircase” a bit and I caught a friend going for a ride over his bars, but he’s alright.

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This trip confirmed the I thoughts had from my Alabama mountain bike trip earlier this year, I love my Ibis HD3. It’s perfect in every aspect from what I’ve ridden.

The parts I swapped in the spring were great changes. The change to a one by drivetrain is amazing. For trail riding, the gear range allows for a slow crawling gear to get up about anything and the top end is plenty fast for my needs, all without ever needing to change front chainrings. What’s not to love? The mix match of Sram XX01 cassette and XX1 chain paired with the Shimano 11 speed XTR shifter and XTR 11 speed rear derailleur works flawlessly with the help of the Wolf Tooth chainring and Goat Link. All of that wordy jargon translates into an experience on the bike that when pedaling at any cadence shifts without any fuss. It has all the range I’ll need, and also allows me to grab a handful of gear changes at once. Need to throw the shifter three clicks after cresting a hill, no problem.

The Slaughter rear tire rolls far better than any all mountain has a right to while also maintaining a vicious ability to grab the ground when asked to corner hard. It’s the best of both worlds. The riding experience on the tire even avoids the one thing I was worried about, a harsh transition from the small knobbed fast rolling center to the big knobbed biting outer knob section. As far as I’ve been able to tell, it’s seamless and the traction is linear, it doesn’t get loose and then bite in a big way. Say what you want about Specialized, but they know tires and on top of that, they mount tubleless without any fuss and are cheaper than most alternatives. Win, win, win, I’m sold.

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It was a great trip with great people. A great way to spend a sunny Memorial Day.

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Today On A Bike

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My wife, my amazing wonderful wife, got me a GoPro Hero 4 Black for my birthday It’s been fun learning how to best use it for what I want out of it The mountain bike pictures are from yesterday riding Wildlife MTB trails in Peoria Illinois with friends The trails are rocky and offer both tight tech as well as flow, a great time if you’re in the area.

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Bonus pictures from last week on the road bike I bought a couple of K-Edge GoPro mounts on the advice of a friend I bought a saddle rail camera mount as well as a mount for under my Garmin mount, allowing me to shoot video or take pictures facing forward or backward.

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I’ll post more thoughts about the GoPro and mounts as time goes onFor now, I’m enjoying summer.

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Alabama Spring MTB Trip

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One of the best parts of spring in terms of cycling is the excitement to get outside and ride. Some of my friends and I put a spring mountain bike trip together to Alabama over the winter to get in some warm dry trail time. This past weekend we enjoyed the fruits of our planning. We spent three days riding Oak Mountain and Coldwater Mountain trail systems with great weather, it was a lot of fun. I loved the mix of real deal flow and rock tech. Hanging out with friends both on the trail and off was a relaxing and great time. My Ibis has never felt better, I love the one by drivetrain.

Day one was a shorter 10 mile ride racing the weather to get in a loop at Oak Mountain.

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We stopped by Good People Brewery for a post ride drink after day one before dinner at an old train station that’s been transformed into a really neat restaurant.

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The house we rented for the weekend was an older home with a great porch to hang out on and soak in some southern sunshine.

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The second day was a full loop at Coldwater Mountain.

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Day three was a return to Oak Mountain for a full day of riding.2016-03-26 17.45.19 2016-03-26 17.13.04

The Boulder Ridge trail at Oak Mountain was one of my favorites of the trip. Here’s a short video of me rolling through some tech shot by a good friend.

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The trip was a great bonus to the spring so far. It feels like we all added a great trip into our year super early. We enjoyed some tech and flow not found at home, southern hospitality, and sunshine. My favorite trails of the trip were Boulder Ridge, a traversing large rock filled tech trail I could spend hours on finding new lines up and down larger rocks than my car and Thunder trail at Oak Mountain. Thunder trail was easily the most flowly trail I’ve ever ridden. It had deep cut berms on every turn, sixty foot rolling ravines and more six-foot rollers you could pump or jump than you can count. The combination of those two trails alone was worth the trip. I’ll be happy to add the spring MTB trip into a yearly event, it was a reenergizing and relaxing time spent with good people on good trails.

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Bike Update: Ibis HD3

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I love my Ibis HD3. It’s a great trail bike that goes up and down amazingly well. It eats up tech and rock on the downs and pedals better than any 160mm travel bike should have a right to. The DW Link suspension is shockingly good. All of that said, some parts of my initial build were not aligning with what I want wanted in a trail bike.

Imagine cresting a mountain peak or climb and the trail points down with lots of rocks staring back at you. No problem, just drop the dropper seat post, switch the front derailleur to the big chainring, and possibly change a setting on the shock. That’s too much for me. It took away from enjoying the moment one too many times. The two by drivetrain had to go in favor of a one by drivetrain. I wanted to keep the gear ratio spread of my two by drivetrain to not limit the bike meaning I needed a 10-42 cassette and a 28 tooth chainring according to the magical gear chart. Problem is I didn’t want to do a full XX1 build because I love the reliability and feel of Shimano shifting. Enter my dive into what others have termed XXTR. A mix of Sram XX1 parts and Shimano XTR parts to accomplish a Shimano shifting 10-42 spread in the cassette. The hybrid of the best of two companies.

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The Sram X01 10-42 cassette paired with an 11 speed XTR derailleur is made supposedly better by a Wolf Tooth Goat Link. A XD Driver was added to my DT Swiss 240s hub to allow the Sram cassette. Time will tell but so far it shifts like a dream anywhere in the cassette. Multi shifts, no problem. Big cog, small cog, no complaining.

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The front end of the mix is a Race Face Next SL crankset paired with a Wolf Tooth 28 tooth chainring. A Sram XX1 chain makes the front end talk to the backend.

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A Shimano XTR 11 speed shifter on the new S-Works DH carbon handlebar (trimmed to 750mm) rounds out the drivetrain.

While I had my favorite bike shop working on the drivetrain, I also had them change some other things like moving the XTR 180mm rotor from the back to the front and installing a new XTR 160mm rotor on the back. The brakes felt a little overkill last year and I needed to replace the 203mm rotor anyways.

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I also swapped out the Specialized Purgatory Grid tire on the rear for a Specialized Slaughter Grid rear tire to hopefully get a better roll out of the tire. It’s made up of really tight small knobs in the center and bigger knobs on the outside of the profile. Time will tell, but friends like the tire.

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I’m really happy with bike. My local bike shop Bloomington Cycle & Fitness killed it. The owners Scott and Caryn, along with everyone else that proudly puts on a staff shirt make the difference between just another store in town to get what you need and a place that radiates good feelings. They are super knowledgable, easy to talk to, and love making your experience special every time you’re in there. Good people, seriously.

I’m heading down to Alabama for a four-day tech and flow adventure with some good friends about the time you’ll be reading this. I can’t wait to ride the bike and spend time with good people on vacation.

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