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Skinny Tires on The Dirt  //   Wednesday - July 18, 2007

The Adventure ride turned out great on Saturday. Great weather, good people and beautiful roads and scenery. We started off with 15 but by the time we started up the base of the mountain 3 guys formed their own group at the back. They were riding MTBs with slicks which made it a bit harder to keep the pace we were setting but they were there to have fun and knocked out the whole course coming in not far behind us. Spearmint and Butch showed up an hour or so late due to a series of morning disasters, grabbed a cue sheet from the shop, and chased us the whole way but were never able to connect until the post-ride food and beer refueling session.

Out of 50 miles I'd say the route was about 25% gravel but I haven't done the math. Except for one section, the big climb pictured a few posts below wasn't nearly as bad as it looks on paper. Then again I've done if before so others may disagree. There were a few climbs I hadn't done before that hurt. Shank Road was one, as in stick a shank in your side and twist it. A beautiful piece of gravel road meandering along a stream before a couple of small rises and then your round a corner and WHAM! you hit the wall. A few riders had to unclip and hoof it. Shortly after that we hit the halfway point and reloaded at Rudy's Welding and Cold Beer. It was a hot day so I fueled myself up with a Bud tall boy. From there we headed into more rolling country before climbing back over the ridge via Cherry Lane. I thought the big hills were over and started to tell everyone that before John corrected me. Boy was he right about this one, it was a long windy grind to get us up to Braddock Heights. The downhill was out of control fast on the fixed gear. Maybe should have taken a cue from Rickyd and Erin who were unclipping on some of the big descents and free balling it down, legs kicked back behind them and cranks spinning out of control. I was just waiting for a high speed crash and burn due to a pedal clip in a corner. Thankfully none occurred, but I'll take my chances at 30+ mph with my feet on the pedals.

The only mechanical in the main group was an early flat that required a improvised tire boot, although Spearmint in the chase group sounded like he had his fair share of issues. All in all it was a fine day to be burning the legs on a ride. John managed to snag a few pictures along the way, check them out here.

Now, you may noticed my prior post alluding to a race that was not to be. Best I can figure out is someone got hold of the ride info I posted but assumed it was a race. Fifty miles got changed to 15 miles and gravel roads and hills got changed to smooth, flat road riding/racing. I'm guessing what we have here is an example of the telephone game, info got passed along via word of mouth and was unintentionally changed along the way. There actually sounded like there is a good bit of interest in doing some kind of lower mileage fixed gear road ride based on the number of people who called the shop and stopped in. I could try to put something together if there is interest. Say 15 to 20 miles of rolling hills and low traffic roads? Email me so I can gauge interest. No promises on timing (but I'll see what I can do) and no race (I've got no time to organize that right now).

Got the Qball built up as a fast track dirt commuter, hoping to do a partial commute a couple of days a week on this thing, mostly singletrack with a couple of miles of road in between. I drive my car way more than I like to in order to earn a paycheck and I'd like to put a dent in that. The full route from Mi Casa to work is out. Even if I had the time to do it the route options are pure death. Something that needs to be corrected since it's a nice straight shot and should be a no brainer. I could go on and on about the various issues but I'll save that rant for another time. Instead, I've found a route that would let me bypass nasty congestion (and it's related stress) on the way in by parking the car and taking a mostly dirt route. I'm thinking it should be about 10 miles but I haven't clocked it.

So with that in mind I set the Qball up for this duty, geared pretty high as a 29er at 34x16 but the route has no big hills, just rolling stuff with little spurts and squirts of steep sections that you are up in a few cranks. WTB 700x44 Nanoraptors let it roll fast on the pavement sections and hard packed dirt. I'm a big tire guy, so these are not the norm for me but they felt good on the shake down ride last night. I did the commute route and the bike felt really good, especially after I tweaked the saddle height and handlebar angle. Gearing was perfect for motoring, tires hooked up better than expected and the bike handled great, steering a bit on the quick side which I like. This thing should be good for miles of smiles.

Qball 29er

- riderx


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