Sunday, April 12, 2015

In Perfect Stillness, I've Only Found Sorrow

It was one of those rides that just beats the crap out of you, but you take it all with a smile because it's just so damned fun.

I love those types of rides. My son and I got one in yesterday. We decided to head down to Hunter Creek and ride the creek bed. The idea was to ride up the creek valley and explore a bit of new terrain. However, the lack of snow this year and my mis-remembering memory of what that side of the creek looked like put the brakes to that plan.

So we decided to just ride around on the downstream side - maybe see about riding out to the Knik river and see what we could see. The general idea was just to do some adventure riding and not worry about anything like getting in miles or anything. Just have fun and enjoy the day.

And that we did in spades. The first bit of riding from the road down the creek bed can be a bit, well, jarring. Lots of large rocks deposited by retreating glaciers don't make for the best riding surface.

However, if your teeth can handle the clacking caused by riding over this surface, you will quickly come to some great crust right now. Crust riding is the bee's knees, the thing that many fat cyclists wait all winter for. Crust is that wonderful state when the snow thaws and refreezes, creating a strong, hard, flat surface to ride on and, unlike other times of the winter, you can ride nearly anywhere on top of the crust. You are not bound by the trails and routes that have been packed down by use, but rather can just go wherever you wish.

Good times.

So we rode the crust, crossing the creek a number of times on snow bridges and just through the water itself. We tucked into various nooks and crannys and kept our eyes open, unsuccessfully, for moose shed.

A few weeks ago I set up an Origin8 Devist8er UL tubeless on my new Bontrager Jackalope rim and had some good experiences with it. Super easy set up and it didn't leak any air at all running at the ~18 PSI I run for commuting. For the crust and rock crawling we were doing yesterday, though, I dropped the pressure way down - sub 5 for sure. I'm not sure how it happened, but on a transition from gravel bed to snow I ended up breaking the bead loose and dropping all my pressure.

Not what I wanted to face. My small hand pump, well, it takes a while to fill a fat tire with this type of pump. But that's what I did. I pumped it up to about 25 to see if I could reseat the bead, which it seemed to, then I dropped back down to around 10 and continued the ride. More rocks, more crust, more gravel and mud and creek crossings and I didn't seem to loose any more air. When I got home I dropped the tire down to 3 or 4 PSI and was able to get it to burp pretty easily and consistently. Something to keep in mind, though I don't think I'll run the Devist8er as my winter tire anyway, so shouldn't be an issue. Though it might be a good candidate for home studding. We'll see.

After the burp incident we headed towards the river, picking up some ATV and bike tracks that headed in the same direction as we wished to go. Eventually we got to a point where we weren't able to continue - two beaver dams and the trail covered with probably three feet of water at the deepest point. Well, we probably could have continued, but I didn't feel like getting any wetter than I was so we turned back and decided to check out some other routes.

All in all, it was some fun riding. Slow, methodical. Fun. It helped that it was a beautiful day for a ride - mid 40s with mostly sunny skies and no wind where we were.

As a quick review of the Trek Farley 6 -

I've had the bike for just about six months now and I've gone back and forth about how I feel about the bike.

It is not nearly as stable as the Pugsley. That is a double-edged sword for the guy who wants one bike to rule them all. The pugs was a joy to ride for commuting because I could load it down and it still just ripped and held it's track no matter what. That ability to hold a line with minimal input from me was appreciated on the trail. The Farley needs much more attention to do the same. As a rider I have to be much more present when on the Farley.

A few weeks ago I had to drop the bike off at the shop - the original rear wheel developed a number of hairline cracks along the nipples. Not good. So I was back to the Pugs as my only bike. I did some trail riding, but mostly commuting on the Pugs while the Farley was out of commission and, while the Pugs was fun, the Farley is much more adept on the trails. The Trek is most definitely a trail bike whereas the Pugs is a bit of a Jack of all trades. The Trek wants to go fast and rip corners. The pugs wants to just plow through whatever you throw at it. The Trek requires a bit more finesse as a rider. I'm getting used to that. Slowly.

What I am not happy about with the Trek is the number of times I've had it in the shop thus far. I've had to have new pawls put in the original rear hub, replaced chains three times, and then the aforementioned rim cracking issue. Not a good track record. The new Jackalope rim seems much more stout than the MuleFut, but it does seem like it has some of the same pawl engagement issues the original hub did.

I know with the newest designs coming out in the world of fat bikes that my Trek is becoming less and less desirable to the masses with each passing day. And that's probably okay. I'm not sure that I am quite so gung-ho to sell it as I was before. And if I do sell it, I doubt that I'll get another fatty, but instead put the funds towards something a bit more trail focused - Maybe something in a full suspension or a 29+ with front suspension and then keep the Pugs for a winter bike. Then again, I think it's more likely that things'll just stay as they are. The Pugs for the kids and for when I need a loaner bike and the Trek for the daily rides.

Only time will tell.

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