I’m continuing to ride almost everyday, with my rides getting longer and my road rides gaining average speed. Right now I’m averaging 100-150 miles/week in a mix of road, ditch and full trail rides between the two bikes. The Salsa is slowly getting some upgrades, and a properly light and skinny slick road wheel set are probably in its future this fall. Most recently it got a Bontrager Montroe Elite saddle that fits my ass a lot better and weighs about half what the original saddle did. The more aggressive posture its designed for has me spending a lot more time down in the drops, as the saddle is noticeably less comfortable riding up on the horns. I currently have a 650bx2.2 wheelset with some good XC tires now used for gravel/ditch/river bank rides, and the 700cx33 skinny set with more road oriented cyclocross rubber. The current skinny set is awesome for things like Zombie rides around the city at night where I jump off curbs, driveways and speedbumps and ride around like hooligan not caring about potholes and large cracks in the road, but they’re not ideal for long road rides. I’m thinking a nice, light 700c25 or 28 tubeless, slick road-only set are in the future for longer and/or faster road rides where I’m going draft up front with the fast kids and not ride like a hooligan.
Last Saturday marked my biggest riding day yet, with an El Paso-Las Cruces-El Paso ride with some folks from the El Paso Zombie group. It was a fantastic morning covering 66 miles, with a stop for brunch at the turnaround point in Mesilla before riding back to El Paso. Somewhat ironically, the only vehicles that didn’t leave us ample or better room the entire morning were motorcycles. Every last boomer on a Harley passed close, one of them less than a foot off my handle bars.
I was a bit apprehensive about doing a ride this long (my previous longest being 38ish miles) and if I could keep up. My worries ended up being unfounded, as I rode up with the two fast kids the entire time. I was astonished by how much faster we rode working together. Perhaps a byproduct of my racing days wherein I feel perfectly comfortable driving cars 100+mph speeds three inches off someone’s bumper, I also feel perfectly comfortable in the draft on a bike parking my front tire 2 inches off the guy in front of me at 20mph. My only regret was that when it was my turn to pull the pace dropped a bit. I just didn’t have the legs to hold the pace out front and always ended up dropping a gear after a minute or two. It gives me a goal to work towards as I continue to build up my legs (lungs/cardiovascular endurance is never my limiting factor, always my legs).
Because I apparently hadn’t ridden enough last Saturday, I did the regular Saturday night Las Cruces Zombie ride for 78 miles on the day. It was awesome, but my legs were tired. An unintended side effect of all this riding is that I’ve lost 20lbs since I bought the first bike in May, and done so without actually trying to lose weight. It turns out riding 1-3 hours a day, almost every evening had an effect. I also sleep like the proverbial baby and feel fantastic with more energy during the day. My cardio vascular fitness doesn’t quite feel up to my early USMC/police academy days when I was 22, but it isn’t that far off. At 35, I’ll take it.
The Stache continues to go out on trails 2-3 days/week. It is awesome damned fun, and the more I throw at the bike the better it feels mashing up climbs and bashing down mountains. Even as my mtb skills are getting better, it still feels like I barely scratch the surface of what the bike can do.
I’m really fortunate to have a good group of friends who were already really experienced riders, many of them mtb rides who happen to makeup a race team good enough to have a couple of component manufactures sponsoring them. I’m already getting recruited to start training for the team, although at this point I’ve resisted and am just out having fun pedaling. My mentor is a friend who in his younger days was a good enough roadie to get paid to ride semi-professionally. These days had just dabbles with the mtb team and rides with folks like me for fun. I’m deeply appreciative of his mentorship, and every time I ride with him he pushes me harder and/or more technical, and faster and further than I would’ve ridden on my own.
This thing has also appeared at my house as an early birthday gift for its rider. Due to some medical conditions and their limitations on exercise tolerance, my sister is never going to take up riding far, fast or seriously like I have, but I’ve got her getting out and riding around the neighborhood a bit. I picked up the 1992 Specialized Rockhopper from a friend. I paid him $200 for a $100 bike in the local market, but it was as much about helping him out in a tough spot he’s in as getting something for my sister to pedal around a bit. This was both her favorite color, not a Walmart/Target/Department Store bike and the frame is the right sized for her. The 26" wheels are comically small compared to my bikes, and it feels like riding a kid-sized bike in comparison, but it works fine for her pedaling around the neighborhood a few miles at a time.
I’ve been working through the bike fixing it up a bit and setting it up to be an urban cruiser kind of thing. It will likely never see dirt, so the 26x1.95 trail tires had to go for something more appropriate in some 26x1.95 urban commuter type rubber. The front wheel also got a visit to the lbs for a true and bearing overhaul, and I’ve been going through cleaning, lubing and adjusting stuff. Raising the stem up for a more relaxed riding position has made her more comfortable, new grips were in order and the old saddle and steel seat post got swapped out for the original Salsa Guide aluminum post and WTB saddle from my Salsa. 1992 called and wanted its chunky-ass pedals back, so I took advantage of the race team sponsorship hookup and put some sealed bearing, nylon Deity platform pedals on it for very cheap. They are, by far, the nicest thing on the bike.
The end result so far is bike that is now starting to ride like a sorted, nice little cruiser. It will get the rear hub overhauled at some point, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the garbage front hub was. I enjoy fixing up this old bike, even if I still marvel at how so little bike can be so heavy.