Spring Knoxville MTB Trip

I joined some friends for a spring mountain bike trip this weekend in Knoxville Tennessee. We largely rode the Urban Wilderness trails. It was a fun trip to see some good friends I’ve not seen in a bit. I slept in my Element part of the way from Texas to Tennessee on the drive up to our Air BNB house rental. My element and Ibis are as dependable as ever.

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Putting Tires On Dirt In Texas – Northshore Trails

We’re settling into life in Wylie outside of Dallas Texas now. I took the opportunity yesterday on a beautiful sunny 68ºF Sunday to ride my Ibis HD3 at Northshore trails near Dallas Texas. It’s the trail system that I’d been wanting to ride since moving based on reviews. I only had enough daylight to ride the East loop which makes up about half of the 20 or so miles of singletrack. I’ll be back soon to loop the whole place.

Gathering my stuff took about twenty minutes longer than usual because of the move and it’s been a while.

It was really nice to ride again. The roller coaster of flowy and technical trails were a lot of fun. There was plenty of rock and the trail flowed as well as about anything else I’ve ever pedaled. I had a great time and will be back regularly.

Riding local rocky trails in 70ºF temps in January. That’s something I’ve never typed before.

I met some nice local DORBA members. I wanted to show some of the technical climbs and descents. Here’s a local making his way up a rocky steep climb and he later held my phone to capture me rolling down a section. #itsAlwaysSteeperInRealLife :)

It’s been too long, but now that’s made correct. I’ve got a lot of exploring and riding to start doing every week. I’ve found several mountain bike trail systems and will begin to check them out. I want to ride up and around a lake in my area on my cross bike. The roads are busy enough I’d like to find an out of traffic country loop somewhere. I’m hoping I can make that happen in the coming weeks. I’ll join the big group rides on the road as soon as I can make up my mind on what road bike to buy. (Please Specialized release the 2017 S-Works Tarmac Dura Ace Di2 soon…)

Thanks for continuing to read this thing I started a few years ago. I hope you find some joy out of it in this sometimes crazy but often times wonderful world we’re living in.

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2016 Lake Tahoe Trip

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The highlight every year cycling for me are the big group trips. Winning a race is amazing, but doesn’t come anywhere close to a great trip. Time spent with special people who feel like family, amazing locations, and shared experiences that will last a lifetime are as good as it gets for me. This year, we traveled to Lake Tahoe, California. The week we spent was perfect, great weather, amazing trails, smiles shared on the porch around meals, I could go on and on…

A lot of the amazing downs are captured in the video at the bottom of this post. Check that out, I’m pretty proud of it.

Day One, Cold Water Downhill – Garmin Data

After unpacking our bikes and building them up, I joined a good friend for an out and back to get our tires into some Lake Tahoe downhill action. The trail’s surface was made up of sandy granite dust, dirt, and rock. The elevation wasn’t as bad as trips to high mountain areas but rides starting around 6,500′ and climbing to above 9,500′ on some days did remind you where you were.

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Day Two, Armstrong Pass to Corral Downhill – Garmin Data

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My loved Ibis HD3 and I were in real harmony this trip. It’s dialed in to what I wanted in a trail bike almost to my idea of perfection. I love the one by eleven drivetrain. The 28 tooth chain ring paired with the 42 tooth cog allowed for easy work up any pitch and the 10 tooth cog allowed me to pedal as fast as I dared. The brakes were great, the tires were great, I’m really happy with the bike.

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My good friend Matt riding his Ibis HD3 much better than I can, making fun work of the terrain. It’s really fun to ride behind him until he disappears riding away from me. His bike skills as well as his character are equally impressive, and I look up to both traits, even if his signing is pretty bad on the climbs. Spending time with him and his family make these trips a great experience.

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Day Three, Star Lake Loop – Garmin Data

This was our big ride of the week, climbing over 3,800′ to Freel Pass at 9,535′. The last 1,000′ were pretty steep and tough. The views were great up there though.

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On the descent, we passed by Star Lake, a real beauty tucked away in the mountains that my iPhone picture doesn’t do justice.

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Day Four, Family Beach Time

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Day Five, Mr. Toads Wild Ride – Garmin Data

Mr. Toads Wild Ride is probably my favorite downhill I’ve ever ridden. It’s really good. The top section has tech far bigger than I feel comfortable riding but it soon fades into tech right at or slightly above my comfort level, making for great fun. The trail didn’t let up like many of the downhills I’ve ridden. Mr. Toads Wild Ride felt like the tech, speed, and fun were turned up the entire down. I loved it.

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Day Six, Armstrong Pass to Corral Downhill Revisited – Garmin Data

We revisited the Corral Downhill on day six, it didn’t disappoint the second time, great trail.

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Day Six, Flume Trail – Garmin Data

Flume Trail was one I wanted to ride after hearing about it, so I doubled up on my last day to catch it. The ride had a 1,400′ sandy climb up and down on the out and back route I rode. There wasn’t any real tech and once on Flume Trail, there was no real climbing or descending, but the views of Lake Tahoe were second to none. The beauty of the ride for me is only rivaled by 401 in Crested Butte, CO.

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Beyond the amazing riding, this vacation was perfectly rounded for me personally. There was a great balance of family time, resting away from work, hanging out with friends, and cycling. It was a great recharge, and a reminder of what cycling trips mean to me.

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Here’s a video I put together of some of the downhill awesomeness. The climbs were definitely worth it. The video is a bit shakey in parts and there’s the occasional annoying Camelbak chest strap in the view. I’m still learning and to be fair, tech is bumpy :)

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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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