Project Beastie Bike

KillRamsey

Hall of Famer
Jun 20, 2012
Hood River, OR
Kyle
That's about what I was guessing. If you ever DO hop on something that weighs more like 30 pounds, you're going to feel like you've got a rocket strapped to your butt. When we did that eastern Oregon ghost town bike tour, I borrowed one of their fleet of loaners, a Fuji Absolute. It's a flat bar road bike with relaxed geometry, aluminum frame, discs, 700c x 32 tires, nothing fancy, can be had from $450 to $950 new depending on specs. It was so, so much lighter than my normal bike that I blitzed through 60 hilly miles a day without any soreness. You're doing yourself a world of good on the fatbike - you're doing it the hard way, you've got nowhere to go but "lighter." It's actualy an awesome, rare choice. Most guys get scared and throw their wallets at the lightest thing a salesman can cram into their BMWs when they first start out. The first time you go out on something light, you're going to be unable to stop grinning, because you will be so overly prepared.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
My wife and I have a pair of hybrid comfort biikes we've had about 10 years, and when I pull that out, it feels like a feather. Years ago, I tried using it on some of our easier MTB trails, and it beat the daylights out of me. I only use it for riding around our paved neighborhood or other similar surfaces. The big bike gets most of the action, though.
 

KillRamsey

Hall of Famer
Jun 20, 2012
Hood River, OR
Kyle
Alright, Tony. I’ve taken the Fisher out on serious mtb trails now. We’ve got a friend staying with us again who comes out here to kite surf, mtb, etc every summer. He’s been to Post Canyon, an extensive set of trails on the west edge of town that’s really popular. I’d never been, mostly because I didn’t have anything suitable to ride. He talked me into getting up early and going this morning before work. Going up one trail was easy, you go pretty slow and it’s not technical. Coming back down a parallel trail, it got incredibly hairy incredibly fast. It’s all downhill back, and they’ve built up the trail to have massive BMX style jumps, tabletops, berms, etc. The first jump was my idea.. “this is fun!” The second was not my idea, and I realized I had to start slowing down. It was very, very hard to slow down when your wheels are off the ground so much. These jumps were like 15 feet high, one after the other.

Eventually I came into a surprise downhill hairpin turn too fast, locked the rear wheel to sling it around to turn me (which worked), but didn’t turn quiiiiite far enough and couldn’t stay on the path. Went wide to the left, over the embankment, and into a big tangle of branches, which flipped me over the bars onto my face. I got some great scratches and a goose egg on my forehead, and readjusted my healthy appreciation for my age. I don’t bounce like I used to. Nothing broken (bike or me), but the longer I sit at work, the more things hurt.

I had thoughts of bringing a camera, then balked. I chose wisely. But it sucks – I want the ability to take pictures out there, so I’ll have to rig something very secure and bring something very small.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
I had thoughts of bringing a camera, then balked. I chose wisely. But it sucks – I want the ability to take pictures out there, so I’ll have to rig something very secure and bring something very small.
Good to hear you made it through mostly unscathed. At my age, I know technical trails are beyond my skill set, which is why I much prefer river trails, or at most, wide mountain trails.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
From my ride yesterday on a trail around Cranberry Glades, a series of boreal-type bogs in a mountainous bowl in the WV highlands. The peat is said to be 10 feet thick under the water and vegetation. Fascinating place, with many species of plants found nowhere else in WV. Almost a 3 hour drive from my house, it's a bit of a stretch for a day trip, but I plan to go back in a month or so. Trees are already changing up there, and the foliage in that area is spectacular in Autumn.


 

KillRamsey

Hall of Famer
Jun 20, 2012
Hood River, OR
Kyle
Took a shot of the bar setup on my electric mtn bike for you, Tony. Was riding to pick up my daughter from a summer camp that's a little over 8 miles away in Mosier, which means riding the old car-free Columbia Highway, through tunnels, along cliffs... it's incredible up there. I love the new bar bag, makes a super easy spot to put a small camera bag inside, and be able to draw the camera out while riding (or parked, of course). Clicks off easy, comes inside with me for stops.

Looks like I was doing 17.2 mph at the time.

KBRX5197 by gordopuggy, on Flickr
 

tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
Taking a break while pushing my bike up a long, very steep and rocky trail. It had been quite a while since I'd been on that trail, and I got a good reminder of how challenging it is to hike, much less push almost 50 pounds of bike and gear up it. Whew! Won't do that again.

 

tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
Hey Kyle. Had an interesting ride Saturday morning. I decided to try some single track riding in the local state forest. Some of the guys that ride out there are crazy, even racing downhill on some of the steepest, rockiest trails I've ever seen.

As I mentioned above, I began by pushing the bike up a trail called Teaberry Rock, which has a pretty nice cliff line near the top. Very steep and rocky, it was a bit of a struggle getting The Beast to the top. There I picked up a forest service road, and occasionally took a loop on a single track that weaves back and forth across the ridge line. Mostly not too technical. but there are a few climbs on it. I had stopped at the bottom of one of those climbs where another trail splits off, and that was fortunate for me, because another biker suddenly came over the top, pumping hard as he picked up speed down the slope. That would have been a nasty surprise had I continued up that rise.

The trail off the hill was just as difficult as the trail up. Steep, rocky and with a lot of switchbacks, I saw skid marks where people had ridden down the trail. Nuts! I tried part of it, but was just picking up speed too fast despite riding the brakes. Didn't want to smash into boulders or go over the hillside. It was a lot of work getting the big bike down that trail.

About 11 miles total, and I unfortunately had a hard wipe-out within sight of my car. I was crossing a small drainage ditch that I've crossed several times before, and misjudged my speed and angle. The front wheel stuck hard, throwing me over the top, and all 225 pounds landed hard on my right leg. It hurt so badly I thought I'd broken it at first, but I was able to stand and brush myself off. It kind of spooked me because my entire leg below my knee went numb for a while, like it does if you sit the wrong way for a long time. I also discovered the fall had removed the entire epidermal layers from my knee in an area about the size of a dollar coin. I'm fine though, aside from being a bit sore this morning and having a sore and bruised right knee with a large gauze patch over it.

Worst part is I had the X-T1 with the 50-230 slung around my shoulder. I thought it had slammed into the ground, because the hood was laying a few feet away. Nothing appeared to be broken or scratched, though. A further examination yesterday afternoon revealed what felt like a piece of grit in the lens as I zoomed in and out. I gently worked it back and forth facing downward, and it seemed to work its way out. The action is smooth now, but when I look through the lens at a strong light, I can see what appear to be dust particles inside the lens. Makes me sick thinking that could have been my fault, or it may have been the result of using the lens as I was working my way through the woods. There are no scratches or scuff marks, and everything worked fine walking around the yard and testing the setup. To the naked eye, the glass looks immaculate. As long as it still works, I guess I should be content and just be glad there was no damage.

This wasn't the first time I've ridden single track, but I've come to the conclusion it's not for me. I much prefer the more phlegmatic pace of a nice rail trail or river trail. I enjoy the wider forest service paths, too. I'll leave the single tracks to the young hot-shots.
 

KillRamsey

Hall of Famer
Jun 20, 2012
Hood River, OR
Kyle
Ohhhh damn. I'll say this: all the places I've been and ridden, city or woods, by FAR the most dangerous thing I’ve come across are railroad tracks embedded in the road. And by proxy, that also includes cattle grates, or narrow ditches… anything that could grab your front wheel if you don’t cross at a 90 degree angle. I “knew” about that hazard before ever seeing it happen in person, but watching someone misjudge a rail crossing once scared the daylights out of me. It was on the Midnight Marathon ride one year in Boston, where cyclists shuttle their bikes out to Hopkinton where the Boston Marathon starts, at about 11:30 pm the night before the race. The course is blocked off by then, so if you have good lighting on your bike, you can ride the whole 27-30 miles back in to Boston car-free on the course. About 4 miles from the finish there’s this loooooong downhill in Brookline where you pick up tons of speed. Near the end, you cross railroad tracks AT A 45 DEGREE ANGLE. So many crashes, that the organizers post people with flashlights and bells to warn everyone as they approach it. And STILL the guy in front of me didn’t swing wide to cross them at 90. He went from 30mph to being slammed on the ground so fast that I literally couldn’t believe it. Like, snap your fingers, and that fast he was smacking the asphalt. BANG-down. When a rut grabs your front wheel, it’s over. So even on my most cavalier day, I give those things a helluva lot of respect. I also tend to bunny hop the front over them when I can. Either way, please know that riders 1,000% more “serious” than you and I fall victim to this every day.



Really, really sorry about the get-off. It sounds like the 50-230 sucked some dust into the zoom mechanism? If it begins to show up in pictures, I’d probably send mine off to Fuji USA for a cleaning. Glad you and the bike will recover. Sounds like you pinched a nerve in your knee there. The kind of riding you gravitate towards is now being called “gravel riding” or “gravel grinding.” It’s gotten quite hip again, for what that’s worth, and manufacturers are beginning to design bikes specifically to ride gravel fire roads all day. Those tend to be a cyclocross frame able to take even fatter tires, with mounts for fenders and bags. Cyclocross frames are just road bike frames with clearance for 35-ish tires, which are like a little over 1 inch wide, skinnier than mtb tires, wider than road tires. And they still tend to have drop bars, which I still don’t get along with. There are some flat bar choices, but the average guy buying a bike specifically to go do what you’re doing is spending $1200-2500 for a bike with drop bars and pretty skinny little knobby tires. MTB makers are coming at gravel from their end too, making hardtails (shock up front) with bag mounts on the frame and more sensible touring geometry (vs the racing hunched-over geometry of pure race-inspired bikes).
 

tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
I almost ran afowl of some old tracks, deep in the woods along an old rail trail. I started to walk the bike across, but then decided to "hop" it at about a 45 degree angle. The front went across fine, but it grabbed the back tire, kicking the back end out violently and pitching me toward a sheer drop of about 100 feet along the river bank. I hammered the brakes hard, and was about to launch myself to grab a tree growing along the dropoff when I came to a stop inches from the edge. Scared the crap out of me. My bike gets walked across that spot now. Things can happen fast on a bike, and Saturday's mishap was because I got complacent, and let down the strict attention I was keeping when I was riding the single track high up on rhe ridge line. Won't happen again.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
Took the bike on an 18 mile river ride this morning. Drove 2 hours from my house and started before sunrise. The last day of really nice weather before Nate drops a ton of rain on us beginning this evening. I imagine many trees are going to be defoliated after this weekend. Look how low the Cherry and Gauley rivers are in these shots. I could have walked across the river by rock hopping and never got my feet wet. The Gauley is the same river that 15 months ago was over 20' deep during torrential flooding.



 

tonyturley

Legend
Nov 24, 2014
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Tony
I took the bike for a ride in the rain Saturday morning in a mountainous state park in southern WV. A typical scene from the bike is shown in #1, and #2 shows one of several large boulder fields down the steep slopes of the Bluestone Gorge. I had to navigate the bike through and around several such boulder fields, including one stretch of over 1/2 mile right up through the middle of the biggest of the bunch. I had hiked down County Line Trail, but not up it . . . and the trail is over 2 miles long. At the top of the trail is a sign that says "WARNING! If you plan to take County Line Trail to Indian Branch Falls, be advised the return trip is steep and strenuous." Duh! Pushing 50 pounds of bike and camera gear up steep, rocky slopes was tough.


 

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