Tuesday, June 30, 2020


Looking over the history of this blog, I see we posted:
  • 58 times in 2013,
  • 51 times in 2014,
  • 38 times in 2015,
  • 19 times in 2016,
  • 5, 6, and 1 respectively in the next three years.
We are at 11 so far in 2020 and this makes 12.

I am amused by the consistency of the decay in blogging, presumably a pattern repeated across most sole- or few-author publications.

But I am also intrigued by the seven-year cycle, repeated in amorous relationships (or so some say) and, in my case, in athletic commitment.  Perhaps in 2020 I am cycling back around to caring a large bit about this sport, rather than paying attention in passin.

Or maybe it's COVID-boredom.  Time will tell.

New Craigslist Strategy

I hate selling on Craigslist.  Who nickel-and-dimes over a $30 bike part anyway?

So I started listing the parts bin, priced as barters for beer.  I'll take $$ too of course, but the idea was some guy would bring a 12-pack, leave with a seatpost, and we could discuss bikes over a beer in the meantime.

So far a modestly successful strategy.  Have had a few nice conversations with guys rebuilding old steel frames - one of whom got a great deal on some Grand Bois tires, another took away a pair of 27" wheels, and a third took the truing stand. 

The list says "barter for Fat Tire," but I'm having success with guys bringing random local microbrews as well.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Harrisonburg VA Gravel and Not-so-Gravel

Harrisonburg VA is a college town that is home to James Madison Univ. and Eastern Mennonite Univ. and is launching point for all sorts of Appalachian adventures.  I knew it best for Luigi's Pizza, an unparalleled post-rock climbing dinner in the mid-'00s.  It may still be? I hope so.

Town feels a little like Durango, CO - you know, if the Rockies were <5K feet tall.

My last trip to Harrisonburg was for the 2018 Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, 100-plus-a-few miles of all sorts of fun in early fall.  I was way out of shape (still am) and the climbing knocked me around a bit.

Others getting knocked around on climbs in the Harrisonburg environs.  Kudos to the Gran Fondo for making these virtual backgrounds available in full size on the website.

The Alpine Loop event includes some good dirt, with one long steep gravel climb followed by an exciting rutted and muddy descent.  D__ waited a long time for me atop that one.  Not too shy to say I waited a long time for him at the bottom of the descent - after passing the photographer's pickup truck.

Dirt road climb.  It got steeper.  Kudos to the Gran Fondo for making these virtual backgrounds available in full size on the website.

So when D__ proposed we get back in the saddle by meeting in Harrisonburg I was all in.  Turns out there are some epic gravel-ish rides out of there.  And I have this new 3T, you realize.

Rocktown Bicycles keeps a page listing gravel routes starting and finishing at its shop.   These range from the casually named "Morning Gravel," a 17-mile offering that looks like a lovely way to start the day - to "The Big Spruce," 145+ miles with >15K elevation gain.  Oy vey.  And, plenty to keep coming back for.

D__ and I started with "Harris-Roubaix," a marvelous name for a ride if I ever heard one.  Here:  After a few annoying miles getting out of H-burg proper, we were on small country roads through farms maintained by members of the region's Mennonite population.  Roads were small, cars were few, and maybe 40% of the route outside of the H-burg metropolis was pleasant gravel, only occasionally washboarded.

Basic details (Garmin Edge 500):
  • 32.3 miles,
  • 3035' ascent.
  • 2:19 at
  • 14 mph.
This picture was not on the gravel portion.  I couldn't be bothered to pull the phone out at other times.

D__'s new Open W.I.D.E.  Nicely built rig, even if it lacks Square-o tubes.
 After a bottle change at the cars downtown, we headed back out for "Typical Morning Ride."  Here:  Another nice spin, some of the same roads (which of course is what happens with a "best hits" list from the same start-end points).  Too much tarmac for our liking, but with roads lightly trafficked not an unpleasant ride at all.

Basic details (Garmin Edge 500):
  • 22.9 miles, 
  • 1827' ascent.  Only descended 1824 though.  
  • Took us 1:40 for 
  • 13.8 mph.
How did the 3T Exploro perform? Largely, perfect.  The bike continues to roll and to handle like a road bike.  It does not feel snappy climbing, but I think that's probably operator error - seriously.  It feels downright quick in the drops on the flats or on rollers, so my strongest guess is that my fitness is just not there for the 17% grade at the end of Harris-Roubaix, or a number of similar sharp rises between the two rides.

Not sure if it is the aero frameset or my superior tuck or my superior girth, but I descended meaningfully faster than D__.  That's not an entirely new thing and I also note his 46cm flared Enve bars - not an aggressive tuck position in the best of circumstances.

I'm getting a creak in the bottom bracket.  Surely that's just a tightening job, but it's a little irritating <1000 miles in.

D__ was on the Open W.I.D.E. in the Yeti-blue paint job, with Shimano GRX Di2 and 57mm Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires.  A really nice looking setup and he raves about the ride.