Browse Category by 29+
29+, Advocacy, Alaska, Bicycle, Cordova, fat bike, Mountain Biking

Trail Talk: McKinley Trail ride

Another day, another trail that needs some TLC. McKinley trail has some of the best potential in the area for a good MTB trail, even as a loop- as it connects with the Pipeline Lakes Trail to the west. Who knows- there could be a possibility to extend the trail up to McKinley peak, or at the very least to the 610′ knob to the NE of the lake. A trail does already extend beyond the McKinley Lake cabin, up to the Historic Lucky Strike Mine- but its mostly a creek and needs some serious attention.

Though not designated as a MTB trail it’s (mostly) rideable, full of really fun sections that are linked by sections needing quite a bit of work. Much of the trail has turned into a narrow & deep rut full of very slippery roots and log waterbars. Pedaling in these sections is difficult or impossible. In it’s current state most wouldn’t consider it suitable for bikes. Though I’ve talked to a couple people about riding it, I have never seen anyone else on a bike while on it. It showcases many examples of why a trail SHOULDN’T be built a certain way in the rainforest. Much of the trail has become a creek, and there standing water (mud) in many places. A good indicator that a trail needs some revamping is when new trails are made. Hikers are blazing new trails to avoid mud pits and bogs as well as slippery stairs and rooty sections like that below.

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That’s one hell of a way to sell one of my favorite trails in this area isn’t it? All that said- a lot of the trail has been hardened with rock and literally TONS of gravel have been brought in to make a solid trail. These sections have good drainage and are a lot of fun to ride. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason why the whole trail isn’t built in this way. It would make for a super great flowy trail. The USFS is currently in the process of replacing the old “corduroy” with bridges and new sections of trail for safety in some areas and to protect the old trail built for mining in the early 1900’s. After one of their first bridges was installed I spoke with the local USFS trail coordinator about how a taller bridge required dismounting the bike and that kinda sucked. In riding yesterday I saw a couple new bridges- slightly wider and low enough to ride over without having to get off the bike to get on the bridge. Well done.

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Relive ‘McKinley Trail’

When the trail was originally built I’m sure the stairs and waterbars worked fine- but it’s time to revisit the techniques used and while that’s happening it seems like a good idea to expand the opportunity for other non-motorized users groups.

I’m curious how many folks out there are riding in Cordova and what trails they think have potential to become a flagship trail for mountain biking in our National Forest. Where do YOU ride in Cordova?

A link to the trail on GaiaGPS can be found HERE.

 

29+, Advocacy, Alaska, fat bike, Mountain Biking

Cordova Cycling Coalition is a thing

Last week was a big week for cycling in Cordova. There was meeting for the brand new “Cordova Cycling Coalition” as well as the PTA Bike Rodeo! That may not seem like a lot to some of the big city dwellers, but for Cordova it’s a pretty big deal. Our little fishing village has limited options for cyclists. You’ve got to be an adventurer, making the most of our limited bicycle infrastructure. Many kids here start on push bikes, graduate to a bmx and move onto a motorcycle or 4-wheeler as soon as they can. We’re a town predominately propelled by petroleum but let’s face it, most of the United States is. So I’m glad we have opportunities, as infrequent as they are, to celebrate the bicycle and get people riding.

20180414_103834Turning wrenches at the PTA Bike Rodeo, Cordova.

Many communities base their cycling effort on commuters. As an example, 3.4% of commuters in Seattle use a bicycle to get to work or school (2014.) Their smug neighbor to the south (Portland, OR) ranks number one in the US with 7.2% (2016.) The national average is way down there at 0.5%. That means if 11 or so people commute by bike in Cordova, we’re right on the national average. I think many here in Cordova would agree that the largest barrier to cycling here is the weather. It can be shitty. Shitty on a level that few people that don’t live here could understand. So shitty that it can be dangerous. Biblical amounts of rainfall, high winds, heavy snow… shitty.

When I moved to Cordova I was a proud non-driver. I was living in Austin, TX working as a bike messenger. I hadn’t owned a car in 8 years and didn’t see any reason to… but Cordova had other plans for me. After a year, I bought a 4Runner. Things I took for granted living in the city like public transportation, pleasant riding weather, and proximity to trails; I no longer had. Cordova requires a little more independence. There aren’t droves of people parked at the trailhead out mountain biking. If I wanted to ride, I went by myself. No big deal really. I’ve been playing with myself most of my life. 

Though access might not be as easy as in a larger community, Cordova does have quite a few opportunities for those that want to get out and explore on two wheels. We’re home to about 20 miles of paved roads, plus quite a few gravel USFS roads, trails and easements, as well as old logging roads and trails that are infrequently used (and free to access if you have a permit from the native corporation.) The hardest part about riding those trails, is knowing where they are. I started mapping them on my own, and then through some friends that run a guide outfit in Oregon, found out about the GaiaGPS app. There is a pretty badass layer you can put on the maps called “USFS Classic” which as far as I can tell, contains all of the logging roads in Prince William Sound. Pretty damn handy if you’re looking to ride on the Copper River Delta, especially if you’d like to incorporate some loop trails.

Many of the USFS trails contain what they call “Step & Run” trail building techniques- which consist of pressure treated wood stacked on top of each other as stairs- not great for walking and near impossible to ride. It is an effective technique to put in miles of trail on the cheap, but it’s kinda shitty if you want to ride a bike around this beautiful area. Some of the best riding that I’ve found is on this old system of logging roads from when the Native Corp was logging here in the early 1990’s.

Below is the Stuck Lake-Boulder Alley Loop trail. If you look just north of where the red route is, you can see the jumbled little wad of logging roads. That is a hill that the kids in town call “The lookout” and I can see a lot of potential to ride up the hill and make some sweet singletrack down. 
Stuck Lake Boulder Alley loop

Here is a fun little ditty that I put together from the ride. Pro tip: check the wind when you go out there. If you ride it clockwise, the wind won’t suck so bad if it’s blowing easterly. Riding Against The Wind is for Bob Seger songs.

Relive ‘Lunch Ride’

We’ll see what happens with the Cordova Cycling Coalition, but I hope it keeps some steam and maybe, just maybe, we can get Cordova on the map as a cycling destination.

29+, Bicycle, Bike Porn, fat bike

E-bikes and cargo bikes and fat bikes oh my!

Day one of Outdoor Dirt Demo. There was dirt and wind and beer and bikes and… The Elliptigo. Maybe next year they’ll come out with a recumbent, E-Elliptigo but until then- I’m out.

Fatbikes. I like them. They are fun. Apparently other people like them too, and the bike industry has been selling lots of them. I also like cargo bikes. They have come a long way in the last few years and I’m trying to get my nephews set up with one so they are of particular interest to me this year. Another style of bike that piques my interest is the folder. Not just for smug commuters anymore, the folder is a great option for those that travel, don’t have much space in their houses, or those that may link up a few different types of transportation on their commute.

After missing the show last year, I was unsure what to expect- curious what changes had been made in the program as far as vendors and more importantly, the sweet deals that they sometimes bring to the demo.

One thing that was easy to notice as soon as you step off the bus, is the growth of the e-bike. I think it’s undeniable at this point that the cycling industry will have to make room for this growing sector of bikes. Like it, or not. Town bikes, cargo bikes, even mountain bikes were cruising up the hills at 20mph, quiet as a mouse with the driver pedaling with little effort and an unavoidable smile on their face. I tested one on a cargo bike platform (which as of this writing I’m going to say that its the only e-bike I’d feel comfortaly riding, unless no one was looking.) An Xtracycle Edgerunner, it had the Bosch gear box system which is pretty great, being a true pedal assist, unlike some that seem little more than electric mopeds. Though I rode it unloaded, I can imagine that with a full load of beer, kids, or potting soil- even steep hills would be climbable, maybe even with ease.

Dirt Demo, for whatever reason, is not attended near as well as Interbike. Some shop people or media folks love it- and why wouldn’t you? It’s 2 days in the desert, riding bikes you could never afford, with lots of trails, a pump track and even a goddamn shuttle. The interest seems to be waning still, with fewer attendees, and some vendors pulling out- maybe saving themselves for the show? Myself, I haven’t taken advantage of the shuttle, and don’t go buck wild on the riding- I just like to go around and snap photos of dirty bikes.

But I digress, the focus is on the bikes. So here it goes…

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29+, Bicycle, fat bike, Gear

Is 29+ the next fat?

Those that have ridden a fatbike know how much fun it is. The ability to float over soft surfaces is amazing when cruising on a 5″ tire. They make a bicycle more “omni-terra” than was previously possible. That said- riding around on a 5″ tire and a 100mm rim can make one feel a little sluggish when riding in hardback conditions. When I’m riding on my fatbike I’ve got 2 speeds: Slow and steady. And that’s fine. But sometimes I want to go… faster.

The beauty of the float has another side, rolling resistance and added weight. Enter the world of 29+.

What is 29+? Though there isn’t a standard (because the bike industry hates standards) for our purpose here I’ll say it’s a 29″ rim with a width of 45mm and wider, and running a 29×3″ tire. There are frames built around this platform (Surly Krampus and others.) I’m going to venture to say that the 29+ market is one that will be expanding at a fast rate. Many frames (not sure about asymmetrical frames) that will allow for a 5″ tire will fit a 29+ tire- giving you more cushion and float as well as speed and a reduced rolling resistance. I think they’ll be great for adventure touring and though you need a different wheelset, it damn near gives you a different bike.

Switching wheelsets can change the geometry, specifically the bottom bracket height of the bike- which some builders have tried to counteract with adjustable dropouts. I think it’s a fair trade off for most of us, myself included.

As I started looking into build a 29+ wheelset for my fatty, I had to look at a few things:

  • Width. As an emerging category- “wide” is being redefined. Though you’ll see some offerings at 35mm wide (which I’m sure is awesome,) I don’t think anything less than a 45mm rim should be considered a “29+.”
  • Weight. As a rider over 220lbs, I err on the side of durability- especially if you’re going to be headed off the beaten path, but that isn’t a reason to bring an anchor with you.
  • Price. I’m not a rich guy. Sometimes I can get a pro-deal or industry pricing on stuff which is great. But this blog doesn’t generate any revenue to speak of and I got bills to pay, so there. In fact- one of the reasons that I can argue to get another wheelset comes from the need for studded tires. With 45Nrth Dillingers costing an upwards of $225 each, and a 29″ set of studs running half that- I can put that $200+ I “saved” towards a new wheelset.  That’s how that works, right?

In all that, I put together the lists below to help those that may be in the market for a 29+ wheelset for their fat bike.

29+ Rims Updated 1/17/15

BrandModelWidthWeightHole PatternPrice per rim
Stan's No TubesHugo5252mm622g32h$145
SurlyRabbit Hole 2950mm699g32h$150
VelocityDually45mm675g32h$134
SchlickNorthpaw47mm645g32h$129
Kris Holm29" Freeride unicycle rim47mm840g36h$95
DerbyAll-Mountain Carbon35mm485g32h$329
NextieJungle Fox Carbon50mm510g28-36h$230
NextieSnow Fox Carbon50mm500g28-36h$220
Light Bicycle29er plus Carbon50mm490g16-36h$210
SarmaNaran Carbon50mm550g32h$600
Nox CompositesFarlow 29 Carbon35mm430g24/28, 32h$479
Ibis941 Carbon41mm488g32hsold only as wheelset

29+ Tires Updated 1/17/15

BrandModelCasingWeightPrice
SurlyDirt Wizard27tpi wire beadTBD$90.00
SurlyDirt Wizard120tpiTBD$90.00
SurlyKnard27tpi1240g$65.00
SurlyKnard120tpi980g$90.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty72tpi wire bead1025g$100.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty72tpi folding bead950g$110.00
Vee TireTraxx Fatty120tpi folding bead920g$120.00
BontragerChupacabra120tpi Aramid bead850g$119.99
MaxxisChronicle60tpi1040g$79.00
MaxxisChronicle120tpi folding bead1050g$96.00

So when I get these things built up, I’ll fill you in on which direction I went. Until then I’ll be rolling around on my 4.8″ Lous on 80mm rims, slow and steady- like old people fucking.