Comparing the fit and trail riding experience on the gravel and fat bikes

First, a bit of backstory… I’ve had issues with my left knee since a junior high injury over 3 decades ago. It plays into my bike riding experience and is the reason I stopped riding twenty years ago. My hope is that by being careful my newfound ability ride bikes again will continue for many years but with that hope comes a caution regarding how I ride.

Fat Bike – look at those big, cushy tires!

I’ve been riding the Poseidon daily since the last week of July and have put on 2,700 miles of road and gravel riding. This past couple of weeks I decided to stay closer to home and return to some trail riding. Naturally I used this as an excuse to pull the fat bike out of the shed for a ride and what a blast! It’s such a soft, cushy ride! But after three or four days I started to get an occasional tension in my left knee. I’d felt this over the summer too when I rode but was careful and adjusted my seat, riding position and a few other things which reduced the problem somewhat. At least enough to keep riding. Then I started riding the Poseidon X in late July and the problem went away. I didn’t even think about it really. Then I started riding the fat bike and the discomfort returned. Hmmm.

Gravel Bike – can narrow tires handle the trails?

My first thought was to try to figure out if it was the fat bike or the nature of riding trails. So, to test I decided to try riding the trails with the Poseidon. It wasn’t too bad. Not as cushy as the fat bike which also meant taking it a bit slower. I figured if I could manage a few days I might see if the discomfort persisted. If it did I would chalk up the different kind of riding required by the trail to be the problem. Lots of standing then sitting and standing and sitting. And more torque and strain on the many little hills, twists and turns. It’s an over-all slower speed but I think more pressure on the knees. If the problem decreased or disappeared I figured the problem would point to some aspect of riding the fat bike specifically. After three days the discomfort had decreased and nearly disappeared. After an additional two days of riding there was no discomfort at all.

So it seems the problem may be the fat bike and I think I figured out that it is the width of the bike to accommodate the fat tires. Wider hubs, chain stays and, most importantly, a wider bottom bracket which means that the pedals stick out further too. The final result is that my feet are also out to each side a bit further and at somewhat of an angle. In the bike measuring world this is often called Q factor or “stance width” which is the better, more descriptive term. I noticed the difference when I got back on the fat bike after 2,700 miles on the narrower gravel bike. I actually felt it in my legs that my feet were farther apart but it didn’t occur to me that it would be a problem until it was a problem. Bummer because I do love riding that fat bike on these trails.

Okay then, to move onto the question, can a gravel bike, specifically the Poseidon X, be a trail bike? After riding the X on the trails for the past two weeks I’m feeling increasingly confident and comfortable using it as a trail bike. In fact, I have to say that I’m enjoying it more with each ride. Comparing it to the fat bike, it feels more agile and gets going more quickly. It feels faster. The fat bike with it’s heavier wheels requires more effort at the start and overall feels more comfortable but also less lively. In the first few days I rode the X with more caution and a bit slower. With less tire cushion and volume comes an overall bumpier feel especially at higher speed. I’d say that I feel a bit more focused when riding the X though as the days go on I’m increasingly more comfortable riding the trails at higher speeds.

I’m still experimenting with tire pressure, currently keeping it at 30 psi and will discuss further in the upcoming review of the Hutchinson Touareg tires and recently discussed the switch from 700c to 650b wheels. But for now I’ll conclude that trail riding (at least my trails) are very doable on the X with this wheel set and these tires.

Aside from tire volume and width of the tires, another notable difference is that the fat bike has a more upright position with higher handlebars which I prefer for comfort and feel. I was already thinking of changing to a shorter, steeper angled stem on the gravel bike to bring the bars closer and raise them up a bit. So, that’s next on the list.

Adventure Bike Wheel Sizes- 650b or 700c?

The Poseidon X comes with 700c wheels with tires that have a width of 35mm. Those tires, Kenda Small Blocks, are pretty knobby so I never even rode them because I have a lot of pavement to get to my gravel rides. I put on WTB Nanos which have a pavement friendly center tread and are 40mm wide. After 1600 miles the tread on the Nanos had worn down quite a bit so I went ahead and ordered a 650b wheel set and some new Hutchinson Touareg 48mm tires that were on sale. I thought I’d offer a brief review of the Nanos and go over the difference in wheel/tire sizes for anyone interested in this kind of cycling.

First, the Nanos. I’ve been running them at about 45psi. They’ve still got some tread after 1600 miles. I could probably ride them another 500 miles so they’ll stay on the wheels and be my back-ups. I don’t expect to put the 700 wheels again anytime soon but the Nanos will be there if I need them. They’re great tires. No flats, fairly low rolling resistance on the pavement, and decent traction on the terrain I’ve been riding. I’d buy them again if I were sticking to that wheel size.

So, what’s the deal with gravel bike wheel sizes? Coming from a road bike heritage gravel bikes have historically been based on road bike wheel and tire sizes but just a bit wider for off road use. So, instead of 25mm wide (and slick), gravel tires are wider, usually 35mm or wider and with much more tread. 700c wheels are also referred to as 29” and are the standard size for road bikes. And worth noting, they are run at very high pressure giving ride that is, in theory, faster and which feels fast given the tiny amount of contact with the pavement. With a road bike you feel the details of the pavement. The idea is that by minimizing the amount of rubber in contact with the pavement there is less rolling resistance to slow you down.

Enter gravel bikes. With gravel roads, dirt and surfaces other than pavement, suddenly more traction is needed and so, wider tires and grippier tread patterns including knobs were created for the 700c wheel size. But that’s just the beginning because riding on surfaces other than pavement means roughness, vibration, discomfort and less stability. A wider tire helps but even better is more tire volume and even more width. 650b wheels are 27.5” and also offer more width for even wider tires so more volume which means even more contact with the road.

Then there’s the recent change in thinking about tire pressure generally which is that less air pressure (even on road bikes) seems to generally allow for not only more comfort but the same speed. A lower pressure tire absorbs road vibration that would otherwise be energy transferred to the whole bike which, in theory, means a loss of energy and speed. Tests seem to back this up.

I’ve had the new 650b wheels and tires on for 1,000 miles now and without a doubt they offer a softer, more comfortable ride. It’s not a huge difference but it’s better. My ride times and average speed have stayed the same. Initially I felt as though I was going slower because it’s a cushier ride but my speed and calories burned are the same so my conclusion is that it’s just a change in how it feels. I’ve been riding the new tires with tubes and kept the pressure at around 40 to 42 psi to avoid pinch flats. Until last week.

Running lower pressure with tubes? In recent years many have switched to tubeless tires. Basically, a specially designed tubeless tire tightly seats into a specially designed tubeless rim and a sealant is added added. This set-up allows for running lower pressure and a more comfortable ride thanks to a more cushy tire. With tubes a certain minimum pressure is required to limit pinch flats which is caused when a large rock, hole or other obstacle causes the wheel and tire to compress together and pinch the tube causing punctures.

I’m not quite ready to go tubeless but since I’m riding closer to home now (always within 3 miles on my current gravel, pavement trail route) I figured I’d experiment with lower pressure. I’ve lowered the psi from 42 down to 30 and without a doubt it’s a huge improvement on the gravel and better on the trail too. I’ve only ridden 4 days at this pressure, no pinch flats yet (I did actually have a flat but it was due to a large thorn and not something caused by the lower pressure). My plan is to continue at about 30 psi for the next week. Then drop to 28 then 26. I’ll spend a week at each to test the comfort, perceived rolling resistance on the pavement and wait to see if I get any pinch flats.

About that thorn… another benefit of tubeless tires is that small punctures caused by thorns or similar objects are generally supposed to seal up on their own. Once the object is removed the sealant seals the hole (assuming it’s not too large a hole). Certainly worth thinking about. But there are also downsides (tubeless can be messy, costly and sometimes difficult to set-up and repair on the road). I’ve not ruled it out but for now will stick with tubes.

Denny

November 2, 2020

I’ve not posted much about the shitstorm that is 2020. For that matter, I’ve not posted much about the swamp that is the Trump presidency.

Here it is, short and to the point.

Trump is a criminal, bully and generally of the lowest character possible. I voted against him in 2016 and again in 2020. The Republican Party has shown itself to be criminal and racist, not a surprised. The people that have come out of the cracks in the past 4 years to support Trump… well, that’s another whole discussion involving racism, white supremacy, pent of frustration with the U.S. political system and economy and more. Another time.

The Democratic Party is another sham. Criminal in it’s own ways. Representative not of people but of global capitalism (just as the Republicans are) but with a more reasonable, psuedocompassionate face. But again, the establishment.

The two party system is obviously broken. Politics in the U.S. are broken and toxic. What we have serves corporate interests and it needs a complete re-write in a different, completely rethought and new form.

All that said, social media and Trump have illustrated just how broken, toxic and divided the general culture of the U.S. has devolved into. We’re a long, long, long way from the important solutions to our immediate, mid-term and long-term problems. It’s going to get uglier. There might be others out there framing it all with a more constructive, positive light. It’s a crisis and often the disruption of crisis can also be the groundwork for new solutions and progress. We’ll see. But in the short term, yeah, ugly. Dangerous.

Exploring on two wheels

I’ve been thinking about my journey these past 12 years since moving to Madison County. The first 4 years focused on the homestead project, building the cabin and the gardens. Then several years focused on astronomy, looking through an eyepiece up into the night sky and thinking constantly about the universe, trying to develop a better understanding of the cosmos and my short time in it. And that brings us to now. I’ve spent the past 8 months having mini-adventures, daily explorations on two wheels around the local countryside. From trails to paved roads to gravel roads, I’ve been riding through farmland and forests and everything between.

A common thread throughout the past 12 years here seems to be a mix of adventure, exploration and a seeking to understand the world I exist in. In the first few years I was focused on my immediate surroundings as I created a home, gardens, and generally sought to fit into this landscape. The adventure was extremely local. Most of my time was spent within 1/4 mile of my cabin and thinking about the life within this 1/4 mile radius. Most of my days were spent doing garden work or something related to creating or building the homestead. My free time was often spent walking and observing.

Then I began a transition to spending more time looking through the eyepiece of the telescope. Looking into the cosmos and finding the beauty there. To some smaller degree I kept up the garden but my mind and my thoughts were oriented outward. In the day I read and pondered what I was seeing at night as I looked at galaxies, nebulae, planets, and star clusters. I would stay out 5 to 8 hours every night that was clear of clouds. I can’t explain what led me to that pursuit. But I think it’s interesting that my thinking, attention, time and effort shifted from what was immediately in front of me, plain and simple, to distant astronomical worlds and objects, and thinking about the complexities of cosmology, physics and related sciences. Not that I understood everything I read but I made the effort to dive deep (or what seems deep to me).

Likewise, I’m now spending hours every day peddling a bike around the back country roads of Madison and neighboring counties. I’m not quite sure how this happened. I bought an electric bike and rode it to town the first day I had it. Then I rode it to town the next day and the next. A few weeks later I started looking at the map and rode further into the county and the next county over. By February and March I was taking two and three hour rides just to get out and breath the air and to see what was going on in the woods that these roads were built through. Over the summer I retreated to our own woods as I built trails through them for cycling and walking. And now, again, I’m back exploring further out on 40 and 50 mile rides.

I’m not sure what to make of it really other than to say it feels good. Part of my motivation is personal health. For most of the past 12 years I’ve made it a point to get out for daily walks. At the end of 2019 my walking time increased dramatically, almost double my usual. I’m not sure why but perhaps the cycling was my mind searching to go further afield. I don’t think it was a conscious thing but it’s what happened.

Like most kids I had a bike and rode it a good bit. As an adult concerned about climate change the bike was my main transport during my college years and after. From grocery trips to laundry to work to random errands, I cycled most of the time. And then I had a knee injury in 2000 and my cycling became painful, uncomfortable. Now that I’ve discovered that I can cycle again I feel like I’m making up for lost time on the bike. 20 years away from my two wheeled friends! I have to remind myself to be careful, to not ride too much or too hard. I’d like to think that if I’m careful I’ll be able to ride for a good long while. We’ll see but for now I’ll just accept it and remain in gratitude that I’ve returned to peddling forward with two wheels beneath me.

Poseidon X Review Follow-up

As of 8/29 I’m exactly one month in with the Poseidon X adventure/gravel bike and what a month it’s been! I’ve ridden just a bit over 1,000 miles and I’m really very happy with the bike. It’s exactly what I hoped it would be: a fairly efficient road bike when I’m on pavement (about 50% of the time) that is capable of going off onto fairly rough gravel or even just dirt forest roads.

9/8, another 300 miles and a couple things to add to the review based on 1,300 miles. I’ve had the chain drop off the front chainring maybe 8 times in the 40 days I’ve been riding. I’d mentioned this in the first review and after reading, it seems this is fairly normal for 1x drivetrains. Obviously not ideal but not too terrible.

I’ve got 650b wheels coming and when the WTB Nano tread is done I’ll switch over to the new wheels. At the current rate of riding and tire wear, I’d guess I’ve got another two to three weeks of tread left. Which makes me wonder, is 2 to 3,000 miles about the norm for bike tire tread lifespan? The reason for the switch to 27.5” wheels? First, hopefully a softer ride provided by the wider, larger volume tires. The 700s are a bit harsh which I expected but a softer ride would be nice. Along with the wider tires and more volume I’m hoping that when riding on wet gravel they’ll sink in a bit less. And, last, the bike will sit a wee bit lower to the ground and there will be a bit more room between the front wheel and the pedals and frame. The bike provides clearance for tires up to 1.9” (48mm) and that’s what I’ve ordered.

The On-One Geoff bars have been great, exactly what I’d hoped for: lots of positions for moving around. And yes, that’s a bubble-padded shipping envelope serving as a temporary bag attached to the handlebars. I’m using it for carrying snacks with the original intent of experimenting with making something better or purchasing one. I wanted to see how that configuration and location worked before committing to anything. I ended up ordering a bag and I’ll likely post about it when I’ve got it on the bike.

The Spoon saddle is a keeper I think. I struggled for a few days as it’s a bit harder than the WTB saddle I was used to riding on the fat-bike, but I think it’s going to work out. Saddles are tricky and I’ll consider myself lucky if the first saddle I tried works out. Riding 50 miles really requires the right saddle. I’ll have more to say as I bump up to 60, 70 and 80 miles.

A last thought. I’m realizing that what I really want out of a bike is the ability to take long rides. I don’t need or want to go fast. I just want to be able to go long. I’m not in a position to go on multi-day camping trips but my tiny house is ideally located to be able to go out on day rides that can range from 40 to 80 miles or more depending on my schedule. A 50 mile ride typically takes me 5 hours. An 80 mile ride would likely take 8 or more. As I use and customize the Poseidon X it will be from the perspective of that goal. Casual, long adventure rides. So far it seems to me that this bike (and my fit to it) is fully capable of delivering that. I might have more adjustments to make but it’s riding pretty well thus far. After I get switched over to the new wheels and tires I’m going to consider a stem that will get me slightly more upright. Still thinking on that one.

If you’re primarily interested in trail riding I’d suggest a fat-bike. But for anyone looking for a bike to take out on road and gravel bike adventures the Poseidon X is a bargain at $600.

Going slow…

Old Man Gravel, one of my favorite bike-oriented bloggers writes The Slow Road Leads to Health. Loved this bit:

You don’t have to go fast to become strong. You don’t have to push to become well. Be like Eddy. Just ride. It is the easiest thing in the world.

Please share this message with the people you love. Share it because this is the true path towards health and wellness. It is not paved with sacrifice. Wellness is not pain. Wellness is health. Wellness is joy. Wellness is easy. It is the most natural thing in the world.

Just ride.

Poseidon X Review

Right off I’ll just say that I was attracted to this bike in part because of the company. It’s a small company that sells directly to consumers like several other small bike makers are doing. Of course, at less than $600 the price was excellent for the specs of the bike and I’m on a tight budget so that was important for me personally. But it also struck me that the company seem to be specifically catering or marketing to people of color. In recent months, as the Black Lives Matter movement has been growing there’s been acknowledgement that on the recreational, outdoors side of cycling (mountain biking, bike packing, camping…) there is a lack of access and representation for people of color. The marketing, sales, pricing, etc have, for decades, been oriented towards white middle and upper-middle class cyclists. Perhaps it’s just marketing but I really like this from their website:

Have you ever wanted to get away for a short time? Clear your head for some peaceful moments as you explore the town you have lived in with a completely new perspective. Poseidon Bike takes its name from the God of the sea, a place where you can find serenity, stillness, and at a moment’s notice discover the strength the sea has.

We produce our bikes with all of this in mind using a long family history of custom bicycle manufacturing. You deserve a bike that will not break on you after a few rides and a company willing to be part of your riding journey. We want to change the tide of cycling by making high quality bicycles affordable for everyone. There is no reason for this type of peace to be unattainable, and there is no reason why you cannot have quality and affordability.

If you are feeling down or overwhelmed then let the bike be your stress reliever. Allow your legs to work through what is bothering you as the wind hits your face and the beauty around you opens up. Find a coffee shop you never knew existed, or a youthful feeling you thought was gone forever, discover a trail with trees surrounding you and remember that the world isn’t as scary as we always see. We want you to feel what so many others are feeling. Change the tide with us.

And it’s true that they are selling an excellent bike at an affordable price. Sure, it costs more than a Walmart bike which is about as cheap as can be had but this is a far, far better bike. From what I can tell a comparable bike sold by the larger manufactures such as Trek or Specialized would likely sell for two to three times the cost.

So, about the bike. It’s the Poseidon X, flatbar configuration. It’s what might be best called a gravel or adventure bike. It’s what you get when you cross a mountain bike with a road bike and similar to what would have been called a hybrid 20 years ago. The difference being (as far as I can tell) hybrids always seemed to be a compromise in a bad way. They didn’t seem to be a priority for the companies making them and they seemed to be without a mission. The best I could determine is that they were a slightly more rugged road bike for mostly on-road riding. The gravel bikes of today seem far more capable, more serious. They’re often referred to as adventure bikes or all-road bikes meaning that they are meant to tackle a broad range of road-like terrain. The cut-off point seems to be the kind of rough single track that is really intended for mountain bikes.

Just a quick scan of specs begins to tell the story. The frame is 6061 double butted hydro formed aluminum, internal cable routing, full carbon fork. The frame and fork have an abundance of attachment points for adding water bottle cages and racks, useful for touring and bikepacking . It’s an foundation for a bike that will last.

The components are equally excellent and better than would be typical. This is where the bigger brands would cut corners offering downgrades to keep costs down. But here Poseidon is providing MicroShift’s very well reviewed, highly praised Advent X shifters and 1×10 drivetrain. Out of the box the shifting was nearly perfect. In the first 245 miles of riding I’ve had the chain come off the front chainring twice. That’s the only problem I’ve observed and apparently it’s the most common problem with 1x systems. Both of those chain drops happened on the third ride and I’ve not had the problem again in the 130+ miles I’ve ridden since then.

Before I go any further I should say that the miles I’ve ridden thus far are about half pavement, half gravel. I expect most of my riding to be that same mix going forward. The gravel ranges from silky smooth, hard-packed dirt with very fine gravel to hard-packed with larger, rougher gravel to super smooth dirt to roughly rutted, washed out gravel. These back county roads I ride are generally a great riding experience but they do change and from day to day, week to week, I encounter roads that have been damaged or are being maintained. Sometimes they’re in the middle of maintenance which is to say they can be very, very rough with the dirt churned up and the gravel thickly applied. It get’s quite messy at times. Case in point, today Perry county was grading one of the roads I ride so, suddenly, a very different experience from the past few days of riding. Tomorrow will likely be different again as the maintenance often goes on for a few days with something new being done each day.

The brakes are pretty standard with mechanical disc brakes by Tektro and Tektro levers. The seat post, seat, handlebar, pedals and wheels are either generic or Poseidon branded. These bits are the compromise on this bike but not really a problem because these are the parts that most often get personalized first by a cyclist. The seat and handlebars especially. The tires are Kenda Small Block 8 at 700×35. Fine tires but for the kind of riding I knew I’d be doing they were the first thing on my list to be swapped. I also changed out the seat and handlebars.

The Kenda tires would have been okay to ride on but given my expected mileage and knowing I’d likely be on a lot of pavement as well as rough gravel I changed to WTB Nanos which are 40mm wide and have a center tread that rolls very well on pavement. The added 5mm width is going to be much better when I’m not on pavement.

The saddle Poseidon includes would likely be fine for 10 to 15 mile rides but I’m doing 30+ miles per ride, daily, usually 3.5 hours or more. I swapped the stock seat for a Charge Spoon which has good reviews for being a comfortable but still light, minimal seat.

Perhaps most importantly, I swapped the nearly straight 6° sweep handlebars for On-One Geoff bars. They are a nearly identical knock-off of the more expensive Jones Loop H-Bars. The reviews on the cheaper Geoff bars are good so given the savings I went with those. They are a very different kind of handle bar in that they have 45° of backsweep and have a 2nd bar, a loop, that extends off the front. The benefit here is that this bar provides a great variety of hand positions for not just more hand and wrist  comfort but really whole body comfort allowing for sitting more upright, stretching down and forward, shifting shoulders and arm positions. In fact, I went with the flat bar version of the Poseidon X over drop bar version specifically because I planned to switch to this handlebar.

My upgrades are done for now. I expect that any future upgrade would be new wheels, either a better set at the current 700c size or a change to a smaller 650B wheel set that allows for even wider tires. I’ll be sticking with the stock wheels until they need to be replaced which will be awhile and by then I’ll know whether I want to change over to the 650B or stick to the 700c.

I also added a Rhinowalk seat bag which has already come in handy for bringing some ride snacks and an extra shirt. It has a 5 liter capacity so not as large something for multi-day bike packing but perfect for long day rides when extra clothing, snacks are brought along in addition to the usual roadside tools, air pump, etc.

So, what’s it like to actually ride the Poseidon X? I’ll compare it to riding the 38lb Gravity fatbike I’ve been riding since mid April. The Poseidon X weighs in at about 25lbs so right off, it’s a lot lighter overall. It’s wheels and tires are significantly lighter. The result is that the Poseidon X is much faster on flats and riding up a hill. In general, with the thinner width tires it feels like a faster bike on pavement. On gravel, especially downhill, the fatbike feels faster and more stable which makes sense given the width of the tires. The fatbike, again due to the fat tires, also has a more plush ride, and almost feels like it has suspension. The 4” fat tire is forgiving of hitting larger rocks in a way that the much smaller 40mm tire is not. And on any gravel downhill I especially find myself being more cautious and riding the brakes more. Riding the Poseidon X on gravel (and I’m guessing this is true of any other gravel bike with similar width tires) requires more care and focus.

The 1×10 gearing is perfect for my terrain. The front chainring is 38T and the range on the cogs is 11 to 48. Compared to the Gravity fatbike it’s high gear is a good bit higher for a faster ride on the downhills and it’s lowest gear is very near to the lowest on the Gravity. I’ve now tackled the steepest hills I’d previously ridden on the Gravity and Rad Rover and had no problem climbing. And I’ll add that I don’t find any of the jumps between gears to be too much. It’s both mechanically very smooth but also close enough that I have no problems finding a gear that I’m happy with as I move through the landscape.

Any negatives? One annoyance is the right rear chain stay which bumps out just enough that I find I hit it with my foot if I’ve got my foot too far back on the pedal. Not a huge problem just something I’ve noticed a few times. That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll check back in after I get another few weeks riding it. I’ve also gotten an idea for another post I think I’ll be writing in the next week or so which will explore the idea of what an all-road or adventure bike is beyond what I’ve touched on here. But I think I need more time on this bike and a bit more time mulling over what it is I may be wanting to write about.

1,000

Three or so weeks ago I posted that with only 5 days into the month I was on track to ride 900 miles in July. I wasn’t all that certain that with 26 days left I’d actually ride that much. But as has been the case for the past 6 months, I’ve been excited to ride everyday and so I rode 30 days in July and as it turns out it wasn’t that hard for me to average 34 miles per day. As the month went on it was looking like I could actually ride 1,000 miles for the month so that became my new goal. As of today, July 31, I’ve got 1,034 miles. All but three days of these miles were ridden on the Gravity fatbike The last three days were done on the new Poseidon X (which I’ll be covering in my next post).

I’m not certain that I’ll ride that much in August. I’m not sure I want to have any kind of monthly goal in regards to my time or miles. I’m not really an athlete, I’m not training for any kind of competition. When it comes down to it I ride because I want to ride. I like the way it feels to ride a bike. The exhilaration and the sense of adventure that I get to tap into. Seeing the world by bike is a wonderful way of getting to know it. Also, ice cream. And food generally. I like to eat and it sure is nice being active enough that I can eat without much concern about my health. Cycling is a great way to stay fit!

Honestly, I think I’d be happy to ride 4 or 5 or 6 hours a day if it weren’t for the sore ass and back, both of which seem to set in every ride at about 3 hours. I’d love to be able to do some all day rides at some point if I can get past that current problem. For the most part my legs are fine to keep going. My plan is to just work on getting used to more time in the saddle with each ride. If I have a goal of any kind it would be to extend the time I can comfortably stay in the saddle.

Date Duration Miles
7/6/20 168m 31.90
7/7/20 160m 31.00
7/8/20 222m 41.60
7/9/20 200m 37.47
7/10/20 180m 35.23
7/11/20 220m 41.00
7/12/20 175m 33.80
7/13/20 216m 39.90
7/14/20 191m 33.70
7/16/20 168m 30.00
7/17/20 225m 40.00
7/18/20 198m 38.20
7/19/20 242m 45.30
7/20/20 195m 37.00
7/21/20 183m 36.50
7/22/20 128m 21.30
7/23/20 193m 36.40
7/24/20 196m 37.40
7/25/20 183m 35.30
7/26/20 192m 36.40
7/27/20 192m 36.40
7/28/20 97m 16.00
7/29/20 215m 32.60
7/30/20 221m 34.10
7/31/20 172m 34.50

Bike and Trail Updates

 

First, the trail updates…

I’ll start with trail update and it’s just one. I’ve put in a new trail by the creek at the southeast corner of the property. This is the creek that flows with water the longest though it too usually dries up by mid to late summer. The trail is a short one that connects to the trails I put in during the spring and allows for a nice ride or walk right along the creek edge (well, there’s a few feet of buffer but it’s close enough to feel that you’re on the edge). It’s about an 8 minute walk or 2 minute ride. And I’ve put in a couple chairs and a table at the spot which seems to hold water the longest. It’s a nice place to sit and watch the few small fish that live there.

 

The rest of the trail put in or re-established this spring is looking pretty good. Maintenance has thus far mostly consisted of riding it a lot and the occasional trimming back. I’ve ridden about 600 miles on the trail during May and June which is a good amount of traffic and it shows. The trail looks very well used.

Now for a few bike updates…

I’ve got 1200 miles on the Gravity fatbike over the past 2 months. Assuming my current pace It’ll have at least another 400 miles on it before the end of July. Most of my riding in May and June was trail riding where the fatbike is a blast to ride. It’s perfect for trail riding.

The Origin8 Space Off Road II Handlebars I added back in May have been a great addition to the riding experience allowing for 3 different hand positions though one of those positions is only useful for faster riding on the road. I’ve also added some grippier RockBros pedals and they’re better than the pedals I’d taken off the Rad Rover. Also, a small but very helpful addition of the Moosetreks Bike Handlebar Stem Bag has been very nice for carrying small things such as the dog spray, dog horn, cords, phone, etc. Last, the change from the stock tires to the Maxxis Mammoth tires has been great. The stock Mission Command tires were fine, these are better both in terms of the ride which is a bit softer thanks to the higher TPI and also in the weight as the Maxxis tires are a good bit lighter.

All that said I’ve bumped up against a barrier with this bike which is my desire to get back to doing some longer road and gravel riding. I can certainly ride the fatbike on the road and have been. 413 miles of mostly road riding in the first 12 days of July alone. Compared to the 80lbs of the Rad Rover the 38 lb Gravity seems like a nimble featherweight. But those 38lbs and fat tires, while fine on the trail, make for a fairly slow road ride. I’m not racing anyone and am generally okay with a slower ride with one exception: dogs. My ride to town and my longer ride out to the gravel roads of Perry county both take me up hills that also have dogs that chase. I’m not willing to ride uphill on a heavier bike when I’ve got a dog that I don’t trust living at the bottom or anywhere along that hill. I have no problem peddling the Gravity up a steep hill but I do slow down on such hills. An aggressive dog chasing me in that situation would not be good.

The solution is, of course, yet another bike. In this case, a much lighter gravel bike. I’ve ordered a flat bar version of the Poseidon X which weighs in at 24 lbs and has fairly nimble 700x35mm tires. It’s still a fairly inexpensive bike compared to the big brands but the frame is excellent and the included components are fairly nice. That’s 38% less weight than the Gravity and substantially faster tires. While my current average speed is 11.8 mph for road rides I should have no problem maintaining 15 mph or more on the Poseidon X. Uphills will be substantially faster. And it’s a gravel bike which means that it should do fairly well on the gravel roads as well as the paved roads. It’s slated to ship my way sometime this week. After that I’ll be happy to be able to get back to some 40 mile rides at the far reaches of Madison county and into the neighboring counties. I won’t be entirely dog proof but I’ll have a much better chance at outrunning any that I encounter!

4am

As the summer heat has moved in I’ve been getting up earlier so that I can get a good long ride in before the sun gets too high in the sky. At the moment that time is 4am and I really like it. Early mornings are similar to late nights in the sense that it’s still dark outside and it’s quiet. It’s the time that the birds are beginning to wake and sing.

My routine seems to work fairly well. Wake at 4 and have oatmeal or an oatmeal, peanut butter and banana smoothie. Then a sandwich with peanut butter and preserves. I check the news and charge my watch then step out at 5am almost ready to ride. Check the tires and add air. At that point the sky is just starting to lighten up a wee bit but the sun is still 30 to 40 minutes from actually peaking over the horizon.

About halfway into my ride on my current route the sun is just rising above the horizon and this is the view from the bike…

Ride.