31 March 2013

Just about a bike: Specialized Stumpjumper Pro [UPDATED]

My old, red, rigid Stumpjumper Pro just plain gets the job done.

She's a frankenbike, for sure, cobbled together from old and cast-away parts resurrected from several other long-gone and broke-down bikes. Neither pretty, nor vintage, nor especially cherry, she's nevertheless a really good bike: reliable, simple, fun, and, with the big wide On-One Midge dropbars and old Shimano barcon bar-end shifters, XTR low-pro cantis, and the last of the XT 5-bolt cranksets, she's a hoot to ride, too...

Set up this way, ol' Stumpy is also kind of an homage to Charlie Cunnigham's Indian. I'll never ride a Cunningham, much less own one.  But I've got this bike which bears some resemblance to the old Indian and, I gotta think, maybe even rides a bit like one, too.

For certain, it will always be my go-to bike in the early weeks of spring, when the world is puddle-wonderful, as the trails clear of snow, when all the small creeks are flowing.

UPDATE: May 2022

She's a mullet-bike now! Thanks to several cast-off parts a friend donated to my no-kill shelter for old bikes, the Stumpy is now sporting a 29" front wheel, Fox F29 fork, Avid BB-7 disc caliper and a sweet old Thomson stem.  Looks great, rides better!

20 March 2013

Chilled near zero

Snack stop
"Hey, today is the first day of spring!" my daughter gleefully reminded me as we rode off on the tandem together early this morning.  The wind twisting through the treetops, the frozen morning mud crunching beneath our tires like cornflakes, the patches of persistent snow on every north-facing slope, often bisected by small creeks flowing in the deeper drainages,  all stood in support this fact: spring has arrived.

Our ride today was excellent.  We charged up Dogfood and ripped across AZ Trail through the meadow to Moto so that we could plow through the dozen-or-more creek crossings that have formed on the Easter Island trail... just like Schultz in the old days!

I wish you could have heard us as we descended.  There's something quite uplifting for a father on hearing the joyful, primal squeal of his (nearly) eight-year-old kid as her shoes fill with water chilled near-zero (just hours ago it was brook-ice), as a rooster-tail of muddy cold water arcs high over her head and breaks like a wave on her pink helmet.

Carsonite rock-tossing.

19 March 2013

Parson Springs

We drove down to Cottonwood early this morning and hiked part of the Parson Springs Trail in Sycamore Canyon.  Just the three of us.  And the dog.

Didn't see another soul.

'Twas lovely.

10 March 2013

The solitude, the pace, and the effort of the thing

I forget about cross country skiing
until I am compelled to remember it.
This is a shame.

When I was too poor to be able to afford to buy a pass for the mountain I xc-skied a lot.
I have always enjoyed it,
as I did today.
The solitude, the pace, and the effort of the thing work for me.

It's hard to feel like I missed an epic morning on the mountain.
 When I had one
 of my own.
All alone.

02 March 2013

The path of greater resistance

Tumped. Ow.

When riding through the woods mid-winter it's often wise, though commonly counter-intuitive, to choose the path of greater resistance rather than otherwise.  In opposition to the balance of the year, in winter, the path of least resistance is often steel-gray and icy, or tracked-in deeply-furrowed frozen mud. Both of these conditions, while somewhat enticing, are treacherous.  If you fail to assess them cautiously they will quickly, and with little warning, tump both you and your bike. Often in that order, thus bringing your bike down on top of you.  Thereby literally applying the phrase "adding insult to injury" to your condition.

In winter, safe riding and good traction exist where the snow is less shiny but deeper, where the ground is well-vegetated and not smooth, and where the rock-tops rise higher than the trail's tread.

This is your line in winter: trail, rock, grass, trail, snow, rock, rock, trail.

trail, rock, grass, trail, snow, rock, rock, trail
A warm, dry spell mid-winter. It's time to ride local! No lift-lines, and no driving to Sedona!

My ride today, a short, 11-mile dog-bone-shaped singlespeed recon across Rocky(t) Ridge, down Nightranger, across Forces Of Nature and back, found the trails more and more open, dry and rideable as I roamed east from home across the south-facing slopes of the Dry Lake Hills and Mount Elden.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey