Thursday, January 15, 2015

Multiple Wheelsets

We started tinkering with the idea of alternate wheelsets for bikes back during the 2006-08 period when everybody, I mean everybody, was converting skinny-tire 700C bikes to chubbier-tire 650B bikes with long-reach brakes. Of course, disc brakes don't require a brake swap, which makes it much easier to try different wheels on any given bike, as long as the hub and brake rotor dimensions match.

A few years ago, Mark here put some 700C disc wheels on his Surly Troll, which is a bike designed around 26" mountain bike wheels. Mention this on any bike forum, and you'll be met with "experts" who insist that changing wheel sizes will make handling too weird. But in reality, a 700x32 and a 26x2.4 have similar overall diameter, so handling is affected minimally. Since then, we've converted at least two 26" Disc Truckers to 650B and even 700C. Yes, things change about a bike when you change wheel sizes, but that's why we do it. Like all bike choices, there are trade-offs to swapping wheels. There are circumstances where one wheel size is just what you need, and the other would be less optimal. Then there are other circumstances where the reverse is true. Luckily, these decisions aren't permanent.

I have two wheel sets for my Ice Cream Truck. Here it is with a typical fat wheelset, Clown Shoe rims and Bud tires:
These fat tires are just the ticket for riding into an uncertain future.

And here is the same bike with 29+ wheels, Stan's NoTubes Hugo rims and 29x3" Knard tires:
It doesn't even look weird.
The 29" wheels and tires save about 5-6 pounds of rolling weight off the bike. They're fat enough to handle lots of varied terrain, but feel zippy compared to 26x4.8" wheels and tires. The overall wheel diameter is nearly identical with either wheel size. So I keep the fatties on in most winter conditions or when brush-busting, and I roll the "skinny" 29x3 rubber when I'd rather feel fast than have ultimate traction and flotation. It's like two bikes in one!

Here's another example - two Surly ECRs, one with the usual 29x3 tires on Rabbit Hole rims:

And the other with normal width 29"/700C rims and the amazing Compass 700x38 tires.

Again, the internet experts will insist that this is a bad idea. But listen to this: The wheelbase and bottom bracket drop on the ECR is nearly identical to that of a similar sized 700C Disc Trucker. Nobody would suggest that 700x38 isn't appropriate for a Disc Trucker. Not surprisingly, the handling of the skinny-tire ECR is reminiscent to that of a Disc Trucker, and it has all the braze-ons for rack touring... So here again, we have one bike with two wheelsets serving a wide variety of needs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Surly $150 coupon: Best Deal of 2015

Have you been thinking about a fat bike, but waiting for a deal? Or have you been planning to set up a new commuting or touring bike this Spring? Well, this is the best deal you're likely to get. Here's how it works. You print off this coupon:
Then you bring it to your favorite Surly dealer, and you get whatever complete Surly bike you want for $150 less than retail. We will also sweeten the deal and give you 10% of the purchase price in store credit.

Here's an example. Let's say you want a Pugsley. MSRP on a Pugsley is $1750. Subtract $150 for the coupon, and you'll pay $1600 plus tax. But then you'll have 10% of that $1600 to spend at Hiawatha Cyclery. That means $160 in free bike stuff on this purchase or future purchases.

This coupon is good until April 1 or until the bike you want isn't in stock anymore.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tuscobia ride, some thoughts about my training and diet

I attempted the Tuscobia 75 bike race last week. Short version: I had a great time, but my body was really only good for 45 miles on that trail, not 75. My Surly Ice Cream Truck performed flawlessly, but in the end, my lack of training and extra pounds on my body made it difficult for me to finish the entire distance. Here are a few images:
It started out pretty cold first thing in the morning before the race, but by the time I started rolling, it was into single digits above zero.

This was my first snack and water break, at around mile 10. The trail was plenty scenic.

The Tuscobia Trail looks a lot like this most of the time. When I could find bike tracks to follow, it was pretty easy and fast. Where snowmobiles had obliterated bike tracks, it was squishy and slower.

A few commenters asked about the results of my diet and training. I more or less followed the diet advice in Grant Petersen's book Eat Bacon Don't Jog, and I was successful at dropping about 15 pounds in a month. If you haven't read the book, you should, but the jist of it is that a person should eat mostly "good" fat calories, limited protein, and almost no carbohydrates of any kind. This method works wonders for me. Anyway, when the holidays hit, I quickly realized the true limitation of this approach - it's profoundly antisocial. When you eat this way exclusively, only a few fat-filled bites will keep you full and not thinking about food for several hours. You don't need many big meals, and you certainly don't feel like eating three squares a day. Unfortunately, our culture holds that eating large meals is an important family/social thing, especially around the holidays, and, for the most part, these meals offer few options for a person who lives on 80% fat calories, and they also tend to offer lots of desserts. So I fell off the wagon, mostly for social reasons, during the month of December. By the time of Tuscobia, I was down about 10 pounds from my peak weight. I had done little riding aside from my daily commute. So my weight loss and training was lackluster, and during the race, I just didn't have the muscle stamina to keep pushing through the snow after 6+ hours. One effect of being on the low-carbohydrate diet is that I didn't experience anything resembling bonking. Because I ate only low-glycemic food leading up to and during the race, my energy level seemed constant. I had to drop out because my muscles and joints were in pain, not because I was out of energy to keep moving.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Closed Friday, Jan 2

Gonna go try something:

Back on Saturday!