Thursday, January 29, 2009

Riding Fargo, Carrying Stuff

There are many ways to carry "stuff" on a bike. From luxury touring to running errands around town the solutions are as equally as varied as the needs. For the last 6+ months I've been riding the Fargo, trying different options for different needs. Here are a few of the ways that I've carried stuff on the Fargo.

By far the most typical setup, rack on the front and rear with panniers. This allowed me to carry massive amounts of "stuff" from Abby's delicious strawberry pie on the front rack to my shoes and booze in the rear panniers. This day I was loaded up for a ride to a backyard BBQ.
Of all the setups I've used on the Fargo this was by far my most used and possibly my favorite setup for all around use. I used this setup for commuting, overnighters, picnic's, errand running, carrying the CSA box, and much more. This particular day I was commuting to work with my laptop, lunch, and gear for the day. Right after this shot, my bike went for a short swim in the lake.

My favorite photo that I've taken of the Fargo. With the rack naked the bike turns into a midwest singletrack slayer. In fact the rack actually acts as a "brushguard" of sorts keeping the neddles and prairie grass at bay. Light=Fast

Here's another view of the front Porteur rack. I purchased this from Velo Orange the Rack itself was built at Banjo cycles by the "Rack Lady". While the rack isn't built for panniers and actually carries them a bit high for optimal handling it worked quite well. Anytime I used this setup I kept the pannier load light.Here I'm loaded for a breakfast picnic down on the river and a commute to work. The front rack is versatile and with loads on it the bike handled well. The Graffiti under the 494 bridge is some of the best in the Metro.
The final setup and how the bike rides today: Epic Designs bags built by proprietor Eric Parsons. With this setup I'll be able to do all the "light touring" that I want and still have room for some luxury along with the necessities. I've got my own adventure planned and this will likely be the setup I ride for that adventure. I'm loving these bags! They warrant another post to explain the details.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Goodbye Old Friend, Hello New

My beloved Kenda Small Block Eight 700x35's are gone. These tires have seen quite a few miles and have been very good to me. I purchased them specifically for TransIowa V4. After riding a set of 29 x 2.1's for TIV3 and quite a few races in 07' I was very happy with their performance. Two areas specifically, suppleness and traction(or lack there of).

With a 120tpi casing and a light, thin casing at that the SB8 is a supple tire, soaking up bumps and vibration on and off road. They performed flawlessly on the gravel roads in Iowa. I really like the tread pattern on these tires and for the mix of soil we have here in the midwest these were great tires. Both the 2.1" and 32mm versions of the SB8 like to drift in corners. They don't break out, but the wander. This is especially noticeable on hardpack with a bit of loose soil on top.

I remember a corner at Lumberjack 2007 that was exactly like the scenario described above. As I drifted through the turn and the back end of my bike continued outward the rider behind simply said "Whoa". I guess he was amazed at the sight of my large frame drifting through a turn. I was grinning every nanosecond of the experience. I've always loved tires that drift like this. I like that feeling of being right on the edge with rear wheel traction in the corners.

So, Goodbye old friend...You've good to me. I hope your parts are down-cycled into another useful product.


Hello new...While I don't personally care for your "natural" color sidewalls that ride we shared this morning at -20 was especially delightful. The one on the way home at -5 was even better. I think we're going to get along just fine.


Enter the Challenge Grifo XS. While I don't care for the sidewalls, fashion isn't everything. What drew me to these tires was how they are manufactured and the tread pattern. Challenge's website had this to say about the manufacturing process:

"THE MAIN FEATURE OF "HAND-MADE" TUBOLARS IS THAT NO VULCANISATION TREATMENT IS DONE. EXCEPT FOR THE ONE DONE SEPARATELY TO THE TREAD BEFORE IT IS APPLIED TO THE FINISHED CASING. FIRST THE SINGLE PLY IS MADE ON THE LOOM, USING ONLY THE WARP HELD TOGETHER BY A LATEX COATING WHICH REPLACES THE CONVENTIONAL WEFT. SUBSEQUENTLY, TWO SINGLE PLIES ARE ATTACHED TOGETHER IN A ROUND SHAPE AND THE THREADS OF EACH PLY ARE PLACED TO FORM A HERRINGBONE PATTERN. THIS NEW COUPLED PLY IS THEN PRESSED WITH HOT CYLINDERS, CUT TO THE DESIRED SIZE AND THE EDGES FOLDED FOR SUBSEQUENT SEWING.
THE FINISHED CASING OF THE TUBULAR IS OBTAINED BY SEWING THE TWO EDGES OF THE PLY TOGETHER, INSERTING THE INNER TUBE AT THE SAME TIM. THE RIBBON IS MANUALLY APPLIED TO COVER THE STITCHING. AND TO SERVE IN THE FUTURE TO GLUE THE TUBULAR TO THE RIM.
THE FINISHED CASING IS MOUNTED ON A RIM AND THEN INFLATED. THE TREAD, SEPARATELY PREPARED, IS MANUALLY APPLIED AND THE TUBULAR IS NOW READY!!!"

The first ride today aboard a Salsa Chili Con Crosso at -20 while not incredibly inspiring was surprisingly enjoyable. These are great tires for the snow-packed roads in the burbs. Admittedly a bit expensive for this type of riding, but comfortable and well handling.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Gravel

It seems that more gravel races are showing up every year. This one comes from the Promoter's of the Kisscross race series and Lumberjack 100 endurance MTB event in Michigan. Rick Plite has been an instigator of cycling events like this for over a decade and a "Race Promoter" for several years. I would love to find my way back to Michigan for the Barry Roubaix, riding 60+ miles of gravel and two track in the early spring.