Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bike Spectrum

I've done some pretty big rides lately on my Ellsworth dualie. It's actually a wimpy machine compared to offerings today that tout 5"x5" or 6"x6" travel. The Ellsworth is 4"x3.75". Still though, in rooty, rocky terrain, that little bit of suspension makes a world of difference in how I feel after 3-4hrs in the saddle.

My Dean singlespeed has been hanging from a hook, neglected for many weeks now. Both tubeless tires were flat. Since I've pretty much abandoned VOmax intervals for for a while, it is important to find other ways to maintain cycling specific muscle strength. This becomes increasingly important as XC ski season begins. This is one reason I own a single speed. You have to tough it out climbing with just one gear. Steep jump-ups also require explosive force, something I tend to use the granny gear for normally.

I rode the singlespeed to Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest from my house, only about three miles away. I have a nice 14 mile route I follow in the state forest that is mostly NEMBA built singletrack. Many features challenge me with gears. They become all the more challenging with just one gear. LDT-SF is a lot like Harold Parker - not much vertical change but more than enough roots and rocks to go around.

What a stark contrast it was to bring the singlespeed back out to play. It is so nimble with steep steer angle. It is 5 lbs lighter than my Ellsworth. No gears. No rear suspension and shorter travel front suspension. You just can't recklessly plow through stuff without carefully choosing a line. It was fun though. Despite nearly complete leaf drop, I was cleaning a lot more than I expected to. I did run very low pressure though, about 24 lbs front, 28 lbs rear.

Upon entering the state forest, I noticed the dormant large jumps appeared to have new life in them. In fact, a group of about six guys were working and practicing on them. These ramps are doubles, several of them cascaded down a big hill. The ramps progressively get bigger towards the bottom, about six feet tall. Dug holes between the jumps were about 4ft deep, thus top of jump to bottom of hole was about 10ft. The doubles were about two car lengths apart. These kids were the real deal. They'd push bikes up to the top, then come down in a tight line, catapulting about 20ft above the cavities between ramps. Unbelievable. It was so hard to capture a photo at their pinnacle of vertical due to digital camera shutter lag.

I never saw so many people in this forest before. Numerous families out hiking. Several other groups of mountain bikers, from 2-8 riders. Solo dog walkers. You name it, except hunters. I believe deer archery season started in Mass. It is muzzle loader season at my house, one reason I chose to ride south of the border today. As the crow flies, I live about 0.25 miles from the border. Conditions were very dry on this mild fall day. Not having to deal with 8 miles of ice and snow like yesterday's ride was a bonus. I finished with 21.5 miles in 2hrs.


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