Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Bike Project - Monster truck wheels

I ride and race bikes as a hobby, and if you hadn't figured that out, you probably don't know me, haven't been around me as I babble incessantly on about them, and probably haven't read much of this blog.  The blog isn't entirely about bikes, but somehow my hobby has found a way to take up 2/3rds of the posts I have written.  When I come to think of it, I guess I'll take this moment to apologize to my friends that sit listening to my inane stories, and I must say that, at least most of the time, it looks like you are half way interested in whatever cycling related nonsense I am spouting.  If you are, good, I feel better subjecting you to my one sided discussions of bicycle related stuff.  If you aren't, you should seriously take up acting as a career.  You are good...Keanu Reeves ain't got nuthin' on you talent wise...  In fact...I'm pretty sure you are like way better 'cause Keanu couldn't act his way out of a wet paper bag and yet he makes A-list money for his movies, and I am somehow compelled to watch them all...Whoah ...

Some fine examples of Keanu's acting.

And here...

Ok, I really didn't mean to get off on how much I love to watch Keanu Reeves movies and still bash on his questionable acting.  I really wanted to talk about bikes! 

Yeah. I you're just dying with excitement...

I, for whatever reason find myself in need of a new bike, and yes, I use the word "need" quite liberally here.  Like I need a new bike like I need to breathe or I need food or something of that ilk.  Ok Ok it's, semantics people!  I WANT a new bike...Happy now?!?  sigh...

Let the butchery of the English language continue.

I decided to try out some huge wheeled mountain bikes before I actually purchased something and burned through the family's savings as a result.  See, how thoughtful of me considering that the family might actually need a place to live and food to eat vs me needing a bike.

Ok, I'm running off topic again.  The point of this was the size of the wheels on this particular bike were going to be significantly larger than my current mountain bike.  This would allow me to take my mediocre downhill and technical abilities to another level without actually getting better.  Big wheels don't get stuck in ruts, roots, and rocks as easily as smaller ones.  Note the fine example of alliteration in that last sentence.  Plus big wheels on bicycles are just like totally waaay cool.  You me...sometimes.

I picked up a demo bike from Cahaba Cycles that would be a good test for 29r wheels.  It's a Niner S.I.R 9.  Now you might think that the cycling industry would have some heavy technical jargon that the S.I.R. stands for, so I asked one of the staff there.  "Steel Is Real" was the answer.  High intelligence and engineering jargon coming from the bike manufacturing industry? -- nope.

I took the bike out for a long 35 mile ride around Oak Mountain, and it felt completely different.  This thing would monster truck over obstacles and rocks that rattled my teeth loose on my current mountain bike.  It was a much smoother ride as well, and that simply came from the size difference of the wheels.

The one big drawback I noted was going uphill.  My current bike definitely climbed better due to the smaller wheels.  There is a trade-off in everything it seems.  The big wheels weigh more and have more mass so making them spin takes much more effort to get going or, in this case, keep going up a hill.  Still it was worth it for the enjoyment of the ride, and fortunately, as I was struggling up steep pitches of fire trail, I could look down at the top tube and read the handy little reminder that Niner Bikes gave me.

Thanks guys.  I nearly forgot. 
I would have had video of the new ridge line trail to post with this high end cycling analysis, but the GoPro rattled loose and it rendered a beautiful bluebird day filled with scenes of the bike bounding over dirt and rocks completely unwatchable.  Looks like you guys, my loyal readers, dodged a bullet on that one.  Count yourselves as lucky.
I'm off to demo a full suspension 29r this weekend which would allow for the rear wheel to absorb some of the shocks as well as the front.  That should be a fun ride, and maybe I'll get the video this time.
Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Waiting for the bus

In a moment of quiet, a very sleepy Ansley was waiting for the bus on the stairs since the gray morning had decided to add a bit of cold rain to the morning chill.  She managed to smile for this picture even though she had been going through the morning with her eyes closed.  I feel bad that she is not a morning person and that the school bus comes at 6:50 a.m. 

At least she smiled for me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The shakes...

I got out a couple of weeks ago to ride with a few friends, very fast friends, at Oak Mountain State Park. 

I love these trails and the fact that there are 20+ miles of trails where you don't repeat a single foot of trail that close to the house is something that I can't put a price on.  Or perhaps I have put a price on it.  $3 bucks on weekends to ride, the semi regular bike repair, bruised shoulders, bloody knees, or head, or trip to the ER for CAT scans. 

Well, maybe I just don't want to think about the actual price of these "healthy" endeavors.

I was trying out the helmet mount for the GoPro and wanted to see what angles would work.  The video is a bit low and I find myself raising up my head while watching it like I could somehow see further down the trail.  I used the r2 setting for 720p x 1280 HD video instead of the "taller" image of 960p.  I think I'll just stick with the 960 from now on since it captures more of the surroundings even though the YouTube video only goes with the 720 format and "reverse letter boxes" the video with black bars on the sides.  It still makes for better video.  You can see what I mean here in another of my GoPro attempts.

The ride itself was pretty good.  The trails had been freezing at night, and that left the low areas muddy well into the day as the ice melted.  The main, and more established parts of the Red trail were in much better shape.  This video has us on the Lake trail and part of the Red trail up to the fire road.  I wouldn't bother videoing the fire road climb since I really feel that you watching me get dropped by these guys in no time flat and then hearing me sound like a very sickly Darth Vader all the way up the mountain would be less than entertaining.  In fact the sickly Darth Vader part may even be somewhat disturbing.  Disturbing in either the, "I wonder if he is going to be OK?  I thought this guy was in shape!" kind of way, or the "This video should be flagged for unseemly content." kind of way. 

You are safe.  I won't film that climb.  I promise.

Ah, yes, the title of this post.  I guess I should probably try to feebly tie in something in this meandering prose to the title I managed to conjure up.  The shakes.  Not the kind Nicholas Cage has throughout Leaving Las Vegas, but a few others come to mind when watching this video.

First, the helmet mount combined with riding a hard tail mountain bike off road.  There is just no way I can figure out to have a smoother video.  If anyone has suggestions to mount the camera better, please let me know.  And no...mounting it on my hammock instead of riding isn't really an option.  Secondly, shaky mountain bike skills.  There is just no way to hide it.  I love to ride, but I am barely staying upright most of the time it seems.  Finally, shaky mountain bike maintenance.  I won't spoil the joke, but you'll see in the video.  It has to do with hairspray.  (Now there's a teaser if ever there was one.)  By the way, it does work, just not that time...with that type of hairspray.  I'll just use spray glue next time though.

There.  I've tied in the title, rambled on about biking, used two movie references, and thrown in a hairspray related teaser to this post.  check check check and check...

Ok, on with the video. 

Below is the HD link since the film was too big for the frame on the blog format.

It's not bad in the smaller frame.  Just giving you options!

Have a great week and get outside...if it ever stops snowing and sleeting.