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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.