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Winter Rolls In  //   Friday - December 21, 2007

A far as the off-road riding goes, I've been in strictly the fixed gear mode lately. The Jabberwocky was converted for the Punk Bike Enduro (see below) for both practical purposes and because I wanted to see how it handled in this set up. I need to take a tape measure to the bottom bracket to check the height, but whatever the numbers are they are agreeable to me in this set up. Some people tend to run shorter cranks when riding fixed in the technical stuff but I run my tried and true 175mm cranks for all of my off-road action. Pedal strikes are no more than my other setups, probably less, so all is well in that department.

Once winter rolls around I set up one of the MTBs fixed and it stays like that for 4 or 5 months ready to tackle all weather conditions. I guess winter is really here since each time I thought about putting the freewheel back on the Jabberwocky the weather seemed to call for the fixed gear. Once the first batch of ice appears the winter fixed bike gets the homemade studded tires installed and stays that way until the spring thaw. That bike has always been the Surly 1x1 because I've only made 26" studded tires so far. I think that will change this year though since the Kenda Nevegal 29 x 2.2 tires are the perfect candidate for a studded 29er tire. Finding a couple of hours to stud up a set is key though and when you've got studded tires for another perfectly capable bike trying to find time in a busy schedule gets harder to do, especially when we haven't had the necessary glassy ice to warrant the studded tire install.

Had a good ride with Kevin and Jeff last weekend, started in Gambrill and worked our way into the Watershed. It was Saturday and modern firearms deer season had wrapped up the previous weekend but I neglected to check the schedule and only realized that black powder had come right back in after we heard a couple of shots ring out and later came across a few hunters. I try to give those guys (and girls) their space since their season is short and was a bit bummed at myself for slacking on staying tuned in with the change of deer seasons. It's a safety issue too, as I like to mount a bear bell on my bike if I'm wandering into the hunting areas. It's an easy way to alert the hunters that you are around. The ride was good, crisp and cold and we kept a decent pace without turning it into a hammerfest. Hit up the new section of the blue trail (Catoctin trail) that leads from Gambrill to the Shed and where we spent the last 2 Gambrill trail work days doing our thing. Turned out really nice, I'm digging what we accomplished. Overall a great day to be out on the trail. Don't ride with those guys as much as I should, but I should try to.

Kevin - Gambrill Yellow Trail

Tuesday we got the holiday cheer rolling a bit early as 5 of us rolled over to the Hard Times cafe for the Clipper City beer tasting. Good beer plus chili and wings made for a fun night but a rough Wednesday morning.

Wednesday night same more extreme conditions, seems to be the theme of those Wednesday night Gambrill rides. Later in the day on Saturday, after my ride with Kevin and Jeff, we were hit with a big storm. Called for a wintry mix but it was really just rain in town. Up on the ridge it was rain and maybe ice, not sure but the temps were hanging around freezing. Several inches of precip fell and coated the trees with some heavy ice. Combined with high winds and the trails were in interesting condition to say the least. By Wednesday most of the ice had dropped to the trail and shattered, leaving behind 2 - 3 inches of ice marbles. It was like riding on top of ball bearing and roller bearings. Crazy surface for sure, climbing was tuff with a capital "T". Otherwise if seemed similar to riding in deep snow except nothing really packed down. We had 13 riders show up for the cold weather ride and most had fun with a couple of exceptions. There's lots of trees down though, looks like we need to get up there and do some chainsaw work, seems the battle never ends.

Ice Trail

OK kids, the holidays are here, give yourself a present and get out and ride. Be back soon.

- riderx


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