Wider bars and shorter stem make my XC 29’er hardtail into an all-mountain bike. Kind of.

My Trek Gary Fisher X-Cal 29'er with wider bars and shorter stemMy 2011 Trek Gary Fisher X-Cal 29’er hardtail is going to have to do duty as an all-mountain bike this year because A) I’d like to ride one or more gravity enduros; and B) I can’t afford full squish yet.

So this past week, I upgraded to a:

(I’m somewhat less than mechanically-inclined so I needed a little rescuing from Stew Moyer & Ryan Hutchinson at Mike’s Bikes.)

I rode all of Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike Trail yesterday and I can tell already: the wider bars and shorter stem is a change for the better.  It felt awkward at first but I quickly realized that the wider bars helped to keep my arms bent and chest down more which translated to more leverage and stability when hitting rocks and roots at speed.  The shorter stem seemed to help me keep my hips ‘hinged’ more instead of crouching.  All that translates to being more in the attack/ready position.

I was a little worried about hitting trees, since my old bars were 625mm.  But it turned to not be a problem, as I’m pretty good at reflexively leaning my bike anyway.

I was most concerned about how it would affect my technical riding. I was relieved when I cleaned Leb’s long, twisting log skinny on my first attempt.  But I didn’t immediately feel confident riding over big rocks and and off ledges.  My timing seemed off.  I’m too worried, though. It’s a big change and I should be able to adapt.

Lots out there on the interwebs about these changes. Just search on the words ‘wider bars shorter stem’ to get started. Blog posts by mtb instructors Lee McCormack (here) and Gene Hamilton (here) helped convince me. Another good blog post here on the topic by AimFor Harkor.

 

DNR’s ‘yurt guy’ Peter Hark rides CROCT’s Sechler Park MTB trail, approves

Peter Hark is a resident of rural Northfield, the DNR’s Field Operations Manager State Parks and Trails, and a Founding Supporter of CROCT.  He joined me and Marty Larson on his first ride on the Sechler Park MTB trail on Wednesday, a day off for him because it was his birthday. He seemed to enjoy the ride and was complementary on what he saw. For a relatively new mountain biker, he’s not half-bad, and if he got a proper mountain bike with better tires he would definitely be more than marginally adequate.

Marty Larson, Peter Hark Marty Larson, Griff Wigley Continue reading DNR’s ‘yurt guy’ Peter Hark rides CROCT’s Sechler Park MTB trail, approves

My new mountain bike skills-related sideblog has launched

mtb skills sideblog screenshotI’ve started publishing a sideblog here on MTB Geezer devoted to mountain bike skills  (see the Wikipedia entry for the term ‘sideblog‘ if you’re unfamiliar with the concept.)

I keep coming across interesting mtb skills-related items out there on the interwebs that I’d like to pass along without having to give them the full blog post treatment.  I’ve occasionally been posting them to my @MTBikeGeezer Twitter feed and Thick Skull Facebook page and plan to continue that. But posts to Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are somewhat transient and aren’t easily searched or browsed long after they’ve been published.

I’m using the Asides feature of WordPress along with a sideblog plugin to accomplish this.  I’ve assigned them the WordPress Category (Asides) so they can be found here.

El Gato returns to his Northfield roots, draws the heat

2011 Cuyuna Lakes MTB grand opening toast: Gary Sjoquist, Hans Rey, John Gaddo, Jeff VerinkThe day I rediscovered mountain biking also happened to be the day I met John Gaddo (AKA ‘El Gato’). It was the grand opening weekend of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails back in June of 2011 and he was chauffeuring Hans “No way” Rey around, one of his many duties as a QBP staffer. I happened to be at a Crosby, MN pub when he and Hans came in for beers and dinner with Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles. John told me he grew up in my hometown of Northfield, was into bicycle trials, and we’ve been colleagues ever since.

For more on that day and weekend, see my first ever Mountain Bike Geezer blog post: Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival grand opening: John Gaddo and Hans “No way” Rey dazzle the crowd and my photo album of John’s bicycle trials exhibition:

John Gaddo bicycle trials exhibition

So when John got a new Surly Instigator a couple weeks ago, he was eager to return to his hometown of Northfield MN where he honed his urban trials skills as a kid and ride some of technical features along CROCT’s new Sechler Park MTB trail. Last Friday, it was my turn to do the chauffeuring.

Griff Wigley, John Gaddo

John Gaddo, urban rock garden

Three videos and 39 photos tell the story best. Yes, there is a hoosegow element.  Continue reading El Gato returns to his Northfield roots, draws the heat

Learning to reduce the impact of some mountain bike crashes, Part 1: sliding out sideways

Update 3/26, 7 am CDT:

This blog post, originally published on March 22, has now been published on Singletracks.com with a slightly revised title and a major addition of a narrated video/screencast at the end. See:

Learning to reduce the impact of some mountain bike crashes, Part 1: sliding out sideways

My last days of the winter singletrack (ridegroomed) season: not half-bad

I managed to squeeze in some decent singletrack winter riding on my 29’er last week before the spring thaw hit.  The trails were packed hard and the traction was amazing.

On Thursday afternoon, I rode everything at MORC’s Lebanon Hills MTB Park:

Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed) Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed) Lebanon Hills MTB Park - groomed singletrack (#ridegroomed)

including my favorite rock in the skills park: Continue reading My last days of the winter singletrack (ridegroomed) season: not half-bad

Photo album: CROCT group ride on doubletrack at the River Bend Nature Center

With the gorgeous and ample snow in Rice County, we moved our CROCT group ride to the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault yesterday instead of a return visit to the MN River Bottoms as planned back in January.

It turned out to be a good decision. The grooming of the two-way doubletrack trails by members of the Faribault Flyers club was perfect, making it easy to share the trails with XC skiers, one of whom joined us for much of our group ride. Continue reading Photo album: CROCT group ride on doubletrack at the River Bend Nature Center

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