Truckee Wednesday night fatbike ride & a ski up Castle Peak

Got up to Truckee to partake in their weekly fatbike ride Wednesday night at Scott’s house. Thanks to Doug for the invite I headed up through sheets rain on the west side of Donner to reach a pretty much dry and absent of much snow Truckee.  Scott has a sick house at the end of a small road, surrounded by open space. He had built some trail on his property over the summer and invited the group to check it out. Pretty sweet to have that out your shop door! A huge variation of fatbikes was on display from a custom Ti Carver on-off (not to be produced ever again) to an unknown maker Chinese bike that was extremely cheap to buy but…is cheap for a reason. I’m a custom builder and bike snob though so don’t mind me!  I realize not everybody can or wants to add yet another bike to their quiver.  The ride was a windy singletrack out and back with more safety breaks than I think I’ve ever witnessed, it was classic. Warm at 32 degrees with dirt/snow mix on the trail it was a fun time and great to meet so many new people loving the fat.

I also got to take out the new-to-me skis up Castle Peak off I-80 at Donner Pass. Pretty mellow 20-25 degree slope with 4+ inches of new snow made for a great intro into the Dynafit Huascaran’s. They pretty much turn themselves and with the rockered tip i never had tip dive and floated over everything. I’m sold, even if they’re a little heavier than I’m used to for BC. There’s been a lot of moisture in northern California these last two weeks, constant rain in Foresthill and a lot of warm snow hitting the Sierra Crest. Raining in Truckee mostly but snowing up higher. The trees were plastered white up high like I remember the PNW and Whitefish, MT being like because of such high humidity. Some dudes were going off the north side chutes but I chose to stay safe on the south since I was solo. Fun stuff up there at such an easy quick skin from the Pass.

Foresthill Dirt roads

We got a bunch of nice dirt roads around here, and they’re all pretty nice for riding the cross bike. Especially with some 40mm tires. Other than a quick dip in a bigass puddle, we had a great ride yesterday covering 52 miles and 5600ft elevation, with maybe 1/4 of those miles on pavement.  A huge storm is brewing off the coast here, the biggest in several years they’re calling. So gotta get out before Armageddon hits!

Isaac lives on the other “divide” (Georgetown) than Foresthill so we rarely ride together. It’s only about 10 miles away but takes over an hour to drive there because of the American River canyons. He’s put more miles on his new Meriwether frameset than I think I have all year on my cross bike! Good product tester…

Global Fatbike Day, Reno style

I joined the Nevada Fatbike group’s ride today to celebrate GLOBAL fatbike day outside Reno on some trails around Dry Pond and Whites Creek. About 15 or so showed up on a balmy 55-degree mostly sunny day, most of us overdressed…at least I was. I think snow when I fatbike so dress appropriately. But today i was very inappropriate.

Shawn put together a sweet ride where just a few days prior 7″ of snow had fallen.  Unfortunately, most of that had melted away but the upper reaches of the trail still had a few inches of snow cover and were screaming fun singletrack descents.  I took some random photos of the day. I almost caught Shawn mid-air off a kicker but…i snapped it a bit too soon. I rarely ride my fatbike on dirt and the lower swoopy trail was all tacky dirt…and wow, i gotta do that more often. The cornering traction is insane. Great to meet all you guys and hope we can ride again soon!

Tour de Trash with Sean

Sean led me on a big sweet loop from his house in Foresthill down to Auburn and back up home. He calls it the Tour de Trash because the middle portion of the ride, which follows the train tracks and parallel frontage roads, passes by some “interesting” houses and lots of scattered trash from hobo camps and others dumping it where nobody will see.

We started down the Todd Valley trail that passes right by his backyard, then down to White Oak Flat trail to McKeon Ponderosa fire road to the river. Back up Driver’s Flat right away to the Foresthill Divide trail on the north side of the road.  We ran into some FATRAC trail workers along the trail, clearing sight-lines with some sharp power tools. Good to see you guys and thanks!  We headed to Culvert and down to the river again on the Confluence trail.  From there we rode up Stagecoach into Auburn and rode northeast along the frontage road before dropping into the train tracks.   This section was WAY harder than I thought it’d be with some brutal short climbs out of the tracks, over and over again.  This was the beginning of my demise.

I ran out of water and food at the end of this ‘trail’ section but we headed to the Applegate fire house for a refill at their spigot.  From there he took me to a bit of a hidden trail off a neighborhood road that appeared to service nobody and no place.  Why was it here at all? Seemed amazingly well taken care of, like the parallel universe to the Foresthill Divide trail except on the opposite canyon.  There had been some very recent fire-line clearing the from Applegate Fire which turned the trail into a pretty wide road in spots.

I flatted my Chupacabra rear tire somehow with one of the recent sharp madrone branches laid across the trail. Stan’s did nothing but spew all over the trail out of the puncture. Tube in, we continued down and met up with two equestrians and farther along two ATV dudes before hitting a trail that led us to the Ponderosa bridge over the North Fork of the American River.  Starting up the climb i knew i was done. After around 33 miles and almost 6K of climbing up to this point I wanted to go to bed.  The 3-4 miles up Ponderosa, a really nice graded dirt road, were some of the slowest miles I’ve done this year. The last few miles up Foresthill rd were truly embarrassing. Ending rides on a big climb, like those who live in Foresthill (usually) adapt to, is rough at the end of a long day.  Thanks Sean (again) for waiting up for me! Next time i’ll bring more food and water, i swear.



Chillbilly #3

Isaac’s 3rd fall classic called the Chillbilly was yesterday, starting and ending at his house outside of the small Sierra Foothills town of Georgetown.  The 40-mile loop is a mix of hardly used curvaceous paved and dirt roads rolling through huge trees and benching in and out of cold drainages.  Twenty or thirty riders showed up on a pretty spectacular sunny fall day in the low 70’s.
This was Isaac’s first ride on the frameset I had *just* finished last weekend and had rushed to get painted by Wednesday. He built it up Thursday night and was ready to ride Saturday.  Scary going into a 40-miler on the first ride but he’s a top-notch bike mechanic so all was good.   Always great to meet new people passionate about getting out and experiencing this incredible area. Thank you for the great ride, company, and amazing food!


Just some ride shots

Some photos of riding in Truckee and Auburn with my ‘real’ camera (not the iphone).  The extended fall for Auburn is nice, leaves just starting to change! Tahoe got some snow last week but…it’s gone except for the highest elevations. Trails are so damn nice right now up there.

Bontrager Chupacabra 29+ tires

More to come with further riding and testing but I just received a pair of the newest 29+ tire and they look like the best option out there, in my honest opinion.  I reviewed a few other Bontrager tires earlier this year. The Chupacabra’s are in the same vein as their other TLR (tubeless ready) tires, meaning they are awesome. They mounted up without sealant, even though I added some later. They held air overnight (and for the last few days) with no seepage…at all. That is so rare.

On my first ride with the tires I hit my local 1.5hr loop that consists of some paved road, dirt road, steep and switchbacky and sometimes loose singletrack, and some more fast dirt road. The tires immediately felt glued to the ground.  On pavement they are like the Knards in that they have no counter-steer or self-steer or whatever you want to call it.  The Trax Fatty’s do.  The round tire profile on the Chupa rolls effortlessly side to side making cornering predictable and smooth. The braking and steep climbing traction is much increased over the Knard, probably due to the siped wider-spaced knobs. I was able to grip to the loose switchbacks better than ever before and corner stuff at higher speeds with more confidence. If it sounds like I’m excited, i am! These made the 29+ experience funner, more rail-able, more confidence inspiring.

To add to it all, they’re pretty light at 879g each, in between the weight of the Trax and Knards, in that order. On the Ibis 941 they measured right at 3″ tread to tread. On a 50mm rim they’re wider than the Knards. This may be good or bad depending on your frame and chainline.  On my XX1 crankset with a Wolftooth 26t ring my chain was rubbing the tire while cranking in the 42t cog on the steep climb out of Volcano Creek on the Western States trail. I’ll need to increase the chainline with the Wolf Tooth BB30 ring or use the Trax Fatty on back for now. (To be fair, if the rear end on my prototype-yoke-rear-end was stiffer laterally…i wouldn’t have this problem.) Other than that, they fit fine in the Fox Talas 32 fork with about 5mm of clearance.  The wide knobs don’t pick up any pebbles (like the Trax did) and fling them under the fork’s arch. Again, the fork pressure has to be 125psi or more so the tire doesn’t bottom out and hit the underside of the crown on big hits, but that’s how 29+ with suspension is these days.  I’d love to try the Rock Shox RS-1 though…anyone got 2K i can borrow?

More time on the tire will tell but for me the Chupa’s are by far the best of the 3 options right now.  Maxxis’ Chronicle will probably be the next best competition, but with the Bontrager’s TLR sidewall I’m putting my money on the Chupacabras.