Spring 2012. The season that follows Winter, which in this case the Winter that was not. We’ve had a lack luster snow season this year (which is fine with me personally) and I figure after living in one of the snowiest places for around for 20 years, I pretty much hoped for it. Enough so we could ski and feel like the seasons changed from fall to Winter, but not so much we have to live with it until August.
As we wait for our mountain bike trails to peek out of the minuet snow banks we are busy getting in our base road miles. We are lucky to not live in a dead-end canyon resort area here in Steamboat, so this gives us a multitude of road routes available to us. Go a little deeper and the dirt roads that spur off of the pavement are even more abundant. These dirt roads like those in other parts of the country can be tackled on road bikes with a slightly bigger volume tires for comfort and flat protection. The feeling of turning off the pavement and onto the dirt while gliding along at 20mph is pretty amazing. For me the dirt is loose enough to require more attention in the corners and smart line choices can be the difference between a flat tire and dented rim. It’s a good way to move progressively towards complete mountain bike season before the single track is open. Handling skills….learn some.
The bike you see here is a standard Psychlo X ….and really it’s an older model frame that is the Psychlo X SL, which used a 6/4 butted front triangle to save weight and not detract from stiffness. I love this bike….this season it became my road bike as well. I’ve decided to fore-go a traditional road bike this year (so I can upgrade my cyclocross stable) and stick to riding this in group rides, gravel grinders, road races….pretty much anything you would do on a normal road bike, with the ability to swap out several different wheel sets depending on the route of the day. 23c tires…got ‘em….27mm….check….33.333 Jack Browns for the nastiest gravel you can find?…love ‘em. I’m ready with the “Swiss Army” bike…..
Tools…Under the saddle I’m running a Rapha Tool Roll. It’s a great way to carry a tube, patch kit and multi-tool. As the name implies, your supplies roll up into the canvas (no zippers to fail) and is attached to the saddle rails via a leather toe strap. Remember those? L-E-A-T-H-E-R. This way I can fill my jersey pockets with food, phone and jacket if needed.
I’m running standard road gearing…53/39 with an 11/26 cassette. I have a compact crank that I can install for the steeper-longer-looser climbs that will open up in the high country as the snow recedes.
Air…I prefer a full length frame pump if I happen to flat. I’ve done the Co2 thing and find it a bit wasteful….I’ve done the mini pump way and find them frustrating…so I settled on a nice Topeak full length pump under the top tube….more times than not I find I’m the guy on the ride that provides the pump because the others are using the other two options. They use the pump and say “wow…gotta get one of those”…..I say, yes you do….
Drink….Another item on the bike I’d like to point out….The water bottle cages…Titanium King Cages. Really you can’t find better than these. Hit a cattle gaurd at 30+ miles an hour….you bottles will still be with you. Very important in our part of Colorado where planning your water stops can be tricky as we don’t have 7-11′s or even houses for miles at a time. Never fails that during a dirt road ride, someone in the bunch will loose their bottles, lids come off and all of a sudden you are down a full bottle. Can you have some of mine? No. Buy some good cages. Mine are blasted to match the finish on our frames….and I’d share if I had too.
Tires….At the moment I’m in love with the Challenge Pargi Roubaix clincher. 27mm of pure ride quality. I run them around 70psi, which keeps me from bouncing off the gravel so much.
Fork…Simply put, I am very fond of the Moots Psychlo X Carbon Fork. It provides a ton of clearance, stiffness and sex appeal…not to mention spending time on it during the “road” season on pavement really gives me a pure sense of feedback on the good job we did designing this unit. Marketing smoke and mirrors…not here. This fork rocks. A funny side note about the fork….I choose to run the traditional under-the-stem brake-hanger for my front brake, which leaves the hole in the crown open….I’ve noticed that at a certain speed and if the wind is just right it makes a whistling sound at exactly 21.8 mph..no more, no less. Chris King Headset…enough said there.
Cables…This summer I am experimenting with the newer Gore Cables. If they hold up all summer, they will be on my Cross rigs for next season…so far they are the smoothest feeling cables I’ve ever had. More miles will will be the test of time and neglect.
So, that’s it for what I’m riding. Next time around I’ll grab another bike from the rack out front of Moots and show you what someone else is riding here at the shop.
How about you? What are you ridin’?