Author Archives: Denny

A Thousand

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.

Apparently my life now revolves around bikes

I expect to post in the next day or two about some trail updates, a few upgrades I’ve made to the fatbike and a new bike on the way. Until then, some photos from recent rides and mileage updates.

Total miles ridden on the Gravity fatbike for May, June and July is, as of 7/5, 1092 miles. While most of June was trail riding I’ve decided to move back to mostly road riding in July in the mornings and trail rides in the evening. Thus far, only 5 days into the month, I’m on track for 900 miles in July which is my goal. That means 30 miles a day, for 30 of the 31 days. My ride time for July is up to 181 minutes per day thus far which meets my goal of 3 hours a day.

As much as I love trail riding I think 2 hours of road riding and 1 hour of trail riding is probably better for my knees. It seems that any knee issues I have or am likely to have are more likely with the constant sitting/standing that I do when I’m trail riding. On the road it’s almost all sitting and steady spinning. Will see.

Another consideration is the disturbance I seem to cause to the deer back on the trail. I’d like to try to minimize that as much as possible. Rather than 2 or 3 trail rides during a day I’ll try just the one for about an hour. We’ll see how it goes.

The past couple weeks of rides:

DateDurationMiles
6/21/20157m16.40
6/22/20168m20.90
6/23/20127m14.60
6/24/20100m11.80
6/25/20141m16.50
6/26/20131m15.20
6/27/20120m14.00
6/28/20177m23.40
6/29/20160m28.20
6/30/20159m27.40
7/1/20195m31.70
7/2/20150m27.30
7/3/20181m33.60
7/4/20191m34.90
7/5/20192m34.10

A month of trail riding

Yikes! It’s been three weeks since my last post. Not a surprise that I’ve spent a lot of time over the past weeks riding our trails. My daily ride time has generally averaged about 2 hours most days, usually around 15 miles for the day. Exceptions are days when I end up doing trail work or the odd day when I just rest my legs a bit.

I’ve still not gotten out for any 2 to 3 hour road rides but that’s fine as I’m really enjoying my trail rides. With the exception of a few rides to the Slime Pond, which is just a mile across the road from us, all of my riding in June has been on our gravel road or our trails. Most of it has been the trails. I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep my average daily ride time up even with all the trail riding. The biggest difference now compared to my February and March rides on the Rover is that those were longer single rides on the road. Now I’m doing 2, sometimes 3 rides, mostly on the trail.

I expect to post in the next day or two about some trail updates and a few upgrades I’ve made to the bike.

Date Duration Miles
5/28/20 95m 0s 18.80
5/29/20 90m 0s 17.80
5/30/20 145m 0s 17.40
5/31/20 37m 0s 4.50
6/1/20 143m 0s 16.20
6/2/20 123m 0s 13.70
6/3/20 88m 0s 9.30
6/4/20 135m 0s 14.00
6/5/20 90m 0s 9.40
6/6/20 178m 0s 18.30
6/7/20 75m 0s 7.80
6/8/20 151m 0s 15.40
6/10/20 156m 0s 20.30
6/11/20 177m 0s 15.30
6/12/20 124m 0s 14.40
6/13/20 148m 0s 16.80
6/14/20 150m 0s 17.50
6/15/20 153m 0s 16.50
6/16/20 145m 0s 18.00
6/17/20 154m 0s 19.20
6/18/20 100m 0s 10.00
6/19/20 128m 0s 13.50
6/20/20 117m 0s 13.50

Ride, ride, ride

Pretty country barn along my route

I know with the virus situation not everyone has been fortunate enough to be outside. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in that sense. I’ve had nearly 6 months of daily riding and it’s been fantastic. I think I’m likely healthier than I’ve been in 20 years. The past 5 weeks of cycling with the unassisted fatbike on our new trails and road rides during rainy weather have been the best part of my days. When I’m not working (which is often these days due to the virus situation) I’m either riding or thinking of riding.

Foggy morning ride

Since my last post we’ve had a very wet 10 days which meant switching most of my riding to the road. It also has manifested as longer ride times and more miles ridden. Mostly it’s my time in the saddle that I care about. On the road an hour means 12 miles or so ridden, on the trail it’s more like 6 miles. I’ve found that my road rides are generally longer and end up with more calories burned.

Farm road

Riding the road with the fatbike is an excellent experience. I air the tires up to about 20 psi which eliminates self steer and results in a very quiet ride. The Vee Tire Mission Command tires are excellent for this kind of mixed pavement and trail riding. Far from riding a skinny tire bike but very doable. The gearing on the bike is a nice sweet spot for off-road and on-road riding. When I’m off-road I keep it on the small chain ring and on-road I tend to keep it in the larger chain ring as the speed of the ride is generally faster. The gearing range I’m getting is working very well.

Last, I’m really happy with my ability to handle the riding I’m doing. 80 to 90 minute rides are no problem. Daily totals of 140 minutes of ride time are no problem. The next step is to try some longer rides, perhaps in the range of 160 to 180 minutes which should be no problem. I’ll likely try my longer ride into Perry county soon. It’s a mix of pavement and gravel, about 28 miles and on the Rover was about 144 minutes with a speed of 11.5 mph. I expect I’ll be able to do the same ride at a similar pace on the Gravity.

Daily Totals

Date Duration Miles
5/16/20 101m 0s 18.20
5/17/20 100m 0s 19.70
5/18/20 120m 0s 23.40
5/19/20 86m 0s 17.60
5/20/20 108m 0s 21.30
5/21/20 140m 0s 25.00
5/22/20 177m 0s 26.00
5/23/20 156m 0s 19.30
5/24/20 151m 0s 17.80
5/25/20 148m 0s 16.50
5/26/20 145m 0s 16.20
5/27/20 98m 0s 16.60

Road Ride

It’s been a few weeks since I took a road ride but we’ve had a lot of rain here the past week so I decided to give the trail a break today. I did fit in a 1 mile ride this morning before today’s rain rolled in on me mid-ride. Then later a 4 mile ride on the gravel road and over to the pond across the way. But I wanted to do a longer pavement ride. I’ve got my sister and various nieces, nephew and their significant others here visiting so I sent a group text inviting folks to do a ride. My two nieces rode the ebikes and I rode the Gravity.

We did an 11 mile ride in just under an hour with an average speed of 12.2 mph. I was pretty happy with the ride. I’ve had several one hour trail rides on the new bike but this is the first one hour ride on pavement. The steady cadence with several rolling hills, a couple longer, lower intensity hills and one very steep hill felt really good on this bike. The steep hill was a good bit of work but I made it up without too much fuss. I’d pumped the tires up to about 18 psi to avoid self-steer and decrease the rolling resistance and they performed pretty well on the pavement.

My family have all been using the ebikes and are having a blast on them which has been great as my family are not cyclists. There’s little doubt that in this case having the electric assist has added the zip they needed to get started. That said, for the most part, they’re all happy to offer their own effort with the peddles which I’m happy to see. From what I can tell they are getting used everyday that is not too rainy.

Milage for the past week:
5/9 10.00
5/10 10.00
5/11 9.80
5/12 10.90
5/13 9.30
5/14 10.70
5/15 18.50

In the woods

I’ve been living in the cabin for most of the past 12 years. The first four were spent mostly outside gardening and clearing the area of tornado-downed trees.The fifth was a lot of time outside at night looking through the telescope and then I left for two years. When I returned in the fall of 2015 I never quite got back into the rhythm of gardening or my time at the telescope. I was still outside a lot but not in the steady, mission-driven way that I had been before. My time outside became more casual and meandering.

This spring I’ve been back outside far more. First on the bike, riding around the county. Then, in mid April, my sister and niece began an extended stay in their cabin which prompted me to cut my rides short. From 36 miles I dropped to 26 miles or less and my ride time from 3 hours to 2 hours. And then, almost accidentally, I started the trail building project in mid April. Three weeks later and we’ve now got about 2 miles of completed trail. I feel like I’ve spent most of my days either working on the trails or walking on them or riding on them. It’s been a wonderful, rewarding process.

The simple act of just getting out into the quiet woods during the springtime has been a privilege I wish more people had access to especially in these times of the Covid virus. I’m used to having outside time and space so it’s not really new for me but a lot of people are struggling with what to do with themselves.

Wood Betony, a favorite spring food source for bumble bees

Whether walking, biking or trail building, time spent in the woods is good for the mind and the body. Obviously, increased movement and exercise is always good but the time spent hearing birds and frogs sing, observing the daily emergence of spring wild flowers and the flight of insects amongst those flowers is a constant source of bliss.

Riding the trails

As my trail building slows I’ve spent more time walking and riding. Slowly but surely my time in the saddle is on the up and up and it feels so nice to be peddling again! I’m not back to my 3 hour ride time but this past week I’ve had daily ride times of 90 minutes to two hours. My rides are different in a variety of ways in that they are now primarily on the trails which means they slower. On average a Rad Rover road ride was about 12.5 mph whereas a trail ride on the Gravity is about 6.2 mph. Also, rather than one long ride each day I’m tending to take 2 to 3 rides a day.

I feel like the workout is better on the trails but my heart rate seems to be about the same, perhaps just a bit higher than on the e-bike.

The recent ride journal:
4/28 11.1
4/30 11.5
5/1 13.6
5/2 15
5/3 12.6
5/4 12
5/5 12.9
5/6 10.7
5/7 11.7

Gravity Bullseye Monster Fat Bike Initial Impressions

In my last post I ended my mentioning that I’d ordered a new non-powered fat bike which arrived a week ago. I’m not at all sure what’s up with the name of this bike, the Bullseye Monster made by Gravity. It’s an entry-level bike, so nothing too fancy but a step or two up from a standard box store bike. Most bikes of this size and form weigh in between 30 to 38lbs, the Bullseye Monster weighs in at about 36lbs. So, it’s toward the heavier end but compared to the 75 lb Rover it feels impossibly light as I’ve gotten used to the heavy cruiser weight of the e-bike. I don’t plan to be doing anything extreme with this bike and really just wanted a well built, solid and dependable bike for riding around on the new trails. I’ve been riding it for just over a week, here are some initial thoughts.

Like many bikes sold over the internet it arrives mostly assembled. Like the Rover, I had to attach the handlebar to the stem, attach the front wheel to the forks, attach the pedals, tweak the rear derailleur and brakes then air up the tires.

First, I have to say that it’s been 20 years since I spent time with a regular, non-powered bike. I worked in a bike shop for two or so years and it’s not taken long for me to remember some of the details of a well made bike, both in terms of how it feels to ride as well as the various aspects of quality differences to be found in the frame and components. Right off, the components such as the shifters, derailleurs, brakes, etc are entry to mid-level parts that perform fairly well. These are not as light as more expensive components but they are still fairly well made and they do what they are supposed to do. So, functional but heavier.

A few basic specs. This is a fat bike so, 4” wide tires, 26” diameter wheels. The drivetrain is 2×8, so, 16 gears (11-34T on the rear cog, 22/32T on the front chain rings) which seems to cover my needs very well. I’ve had no problems going up short but steep hills at about 14 to 18% grades. On the kind of terrain I’ll be riding I don’t need high gears for high-speed riding though it is geared well enough that I’d have no problem maintaining 18 to 22 mph were I on paved downhill. I think these bikes are mostly to be used off road or on gravel roads of various grades and at speeds ranging from 3mph and up and in these scenarios, this gearing is fine.

The Mission Command tires by Vee seem to be designed for average conditions which is to say, a bit of everything but nothing too extreme. They’re not reported to be the best tires for snow, I’m not sure about sand. On pavement they have a good bit of self-steer at the current tire pressure of 15psi. I suspect that if I needed to do a lot of road riding I could pump them up to 30psi and much of that self-steer would go away. They do fairly well on gravel and off road which are what I will primarily be using the bike for. Thus far, they are fine on my trails which consist of hard pack, semi-loose dirt and mud. I’ve been riding through some pretty rough terrain on my new trails which still include a few thorns, branches, small, pokey tree stubs, etc. No punctures yet!

This bike has no suspension! It’s an aluminum frame on a hard chromoly fork but I’m riding with the tires at about 15psi and it’s not too rough on our rock road and the trails. In the 10 days I’ve ridden the Gravity I’ve gotten in about 62 miles, average of just about 5.6 miles per day and less than an hour of riding per day. I expect to continue with my trail building for another week or so and after that will bump up to 2 to 3 hours of riding every day again. Though at only 5 miles per hour on the trails I’ll only be getting in 10 to 15 miles a day. I’m fine with that as I’m loving the experience of riding the new trail and really I think of it as time in the saddle more than miles ridden. If the terrain dictates that riding is slower that’s not something I‘ll worry about.

All in all, the feel of the new bike on the trail is fast, nimble and fun, I love how it handles. I’d been a bit concerned about how my knee would feel on the steeper climbs but that’s been no problem at all. I drop down to the granny gear and spin right up. No doubt, it’s work and I’m breathing hard at the top but I have no problem getting up. Getting to the top of the steepest climb which averages about 17% grade and is steepest at about 23% (according to Ride with GPS) has my heart rate at about 165bpm.

There were only two negatives worth mentioning. First, the pedals that come with the bike are too small and my feet slipped off them a few times. After a couple days I switched them with the Rover’s larger, sturdier Wellgo pedals. Much better. Also, the head tube is said to be limiting as to fork upgrades because it is not tapered. In my case, I’m not concerned as I don’t expect to be adding a suspension fork, but it’s worth mentioning. It’s only been a few days so I’ll likely report back in another couple of months but I don’t expect there to be any problems.

I have no intention of making any upgrades anytime soon. As things wear out I’d likely consider replacing the stock parts with improved components but I don’t feel any need to do that until they wear out.

I’d have no problem recommending this bike for anyone looking to get their first fat bike.

Rides over the past two weeks.

4/12 4.00
4/13 4.00
4/14 4.00
4/15 4.00
4/16 4.00
4/17 4.00
4/18 5.50
4/19 4.00
4/20 4.00
4/21 4.00
4/22 6.20
4/23 8.00
4/24 4.50
4/25 7.20
4/26 4.00
4/27 11.1