Saturday, May 30, 2015

ThNNDDR - Branched Oak Lake, The Reboot


Great group for the second Saturday edition of the ThNNDDR, I think the miserable weather kept more people from coming out again this week, it was chilly, windy and looked like it could rain at any moment. The actual conditions were a far cry from what was forecast just the night before, last night when I went to bed it was supposed to be sunny and in the mid 60s by 9 a.m. and I suppose somewhere in the world that actually happened. Out at Branched Oak Lake however it was in the lower 50s and overcast when I pulled up and parked but you know, trusting weather forecasters gets you just about as far as trusting politicians. I did however manage to take a few more pictures this time... you have been warned.


Jamie on the first descent after the prairie section, pictures always make it look less steep than it actually is.


Ed on the same section, Ed and his wife Janelle took up mountain biking about 2 months ago and they both were killing it out there today.


Dean is just too quick for the camera, riding at the speed of blur.



Janelle on the last climb of the lap and still smiling, if you've ever been out there and know how many steep climbs there are you will appreciate this picture more. Branched Oak is not for those allergic to climbing and not many people are smiling this wide after spinning up them. Did I mention she's been mountain biking for only 2 months?!?


Fat Bike down!!! Regroup and chit chat session after the first lap or was it the second, lack of oxygen makes for poor memory.


If I weren't dressed in nothing but a thin layer of Lycra it would have been a nice day out for taking pictures, just something about overcast skies that make for good photos. Lots of folks out camping again this weekend but not much in the way of boaters, guess it's not as much fun when it's cold and cloudy.


Heading back into the trees on the final lap, we skipped the final gully section on each lap as it was a bit too moist last weekend so we made good use of the gravel road to loop back to the trail. Great group of guys and gals out today, despite the weather it was a really fun ride.


Thanks to Kyle I get to be in this weeks blog, not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing for anyone who reads this but it is what it is at this point as it's already been "printed". I actually don't hate the picture, that Rasta black is super slimming, I almost look like I know what I'm doing and the bright background provides just enough focus washout to make it not terrifying to the elderly and small children. Sometimes being the guy behind the camera has it's advantages.

The ThNNDDR will be on hiatus for the next two Saturdays unless someone else picks it up, this guy will be in Montana riding and roughing it in Helena, Whitefish and a cabin in Glacier National Park... roughing it in a cabin complete with electricity, shower and full kitchen... but no internet, what ever shall the offspring due for a week! See you all in three Saturdays, same Bat time, same Bat channel.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Rydn9ers Rides Some Niners

Whether you love or loathe social media, one thing that can't be denied is that it has revolutionized the way information is disseminated to the masses today. I, for one, have fully embraced social media and prefer to look at and use it for the positive aspects of it while trying to avoid the pitfalls that also come along with having so little accountability for the things we say or do on it. Anyway, this isn't a post about social media, it's a post about a guy with a goofy social media handle (Rydn9ers) riding a bunch of awesome, high quality bikes... which he found out about through social media. Dundee Cycles made arrangements to have Niner come to our great city and bring some of their latest and greatest two wheeled offerings for us to ride at Jewell Park. Had it not been for social media, well technically had it not been for Tyler finding it on social media and sharing it with me, I never would have known about the event and I would have been very sad and would have had no idea why, just that there was a great disturbance in the 29er force that I couldn't explain. This is not a technical review of any of the bikes, parts or pretty much anything... if you want a technical break down of spec'd gear Tyler has a write up for that but I've never geeked out about parts, gears, etc., if it has two wheels, two pedals and preferably two handlebar mounted clicky things that makes it easier or harder to pedal that's all I need.

Because bikes are fun and work is only a necessary evil, Tyler and I cut out a bit early to try to make it to Jewell Park as close to the starting time of the demo as possible and we were pleasantly rewarded by being one of the first people to arrive. Looking over their range of bicycles I noticed that they had three ROS9s but only one of them was the ROS9+ so I jumped on that one like a single chick catching the bouquet at a wedding... I was prepared to throw some bows at fools if necessary. Luckily there were no fellow mountain bikers harmed in the riding of the ROS9+ and I was able to take it for my first spin, this bike was awesome! My full time geared mountain bike currently is my Trek Farley running 3.8" of rubber, the ROS9+ was running the 3" Knards, the two bikes seemed to ride similar with the 29+ maybe having a slight edge in the climbing and sharp turn category. Traction on this bike was amazing and I honestly didn't realize initially that it was full rigid as the bigger tires ate up most of the trail chatter. It climbed well enough for me, descended like a dream and it wasn't until I got on the Jet9 that I noticed that the trail was a wee greasy in some spots, with those 3" tires I didn't slip at all, going up or coming down, it rode like it was on Velcro. I'd be interested to give a 27.5+ bike a try to see what if any noticeable differences there are between the two wheel sizes, if the 27.5+ comes in a little bit more flickable... if such a word can be implied to these type bikes... but still maintain the traction and trail chatter dampening I think it would be the best of both worlds for someone like me who is more apt to be found riding trails rather than racing them. The one hit I might have on this bike is that it's a 1X setup, I know it's all the rage right now but it's just never been my thing, I'll take a 2X setup all day long... give me gear overlap, give me a "heavier" bike because I have a front derailleur, I'd take the perceived disadvantages over what I perceive to be the limiting nature of a 1X setup. 1X has always made me think of the saying they use for single speeds, always the wrong gear, choose too small of a front ring and you're doing a lot of spinning, chose too big and the climbs suck way more than the need to... you anorexic XC racers need to grab a cheeseburger, a few beers, chillax an leave my shit alone and stop trying to save grams by eliminating gears. Those of us who indulge in a few too many beers and slices of pizza miss those gears dammit.

The second bike I took for a spin was the carbon Jet9, the flagship of the Niner lineup... this is the bike that is supposed to give me wood so hard I can barely ride it, drool so bad I leave a permanent stain on the top tube, this is what the industry tells me I NEED... problem is it doesn't and I don't. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice bike, it's a really nice bike in fact and it's spec'd with some nice parts or at least that's what I've been told and it's got squishy bits up front and out back. It and all it's counterparts just don't do it for me, I suppose in the right hands, make that legs, this bike probably screams around the little ribbons of dirt amoungst the trees but for me all of the double squish, ultra light carbon bikes just seem a bit too squirrely and not at all as confidence inspiring to me as a good ole hard tail. To be fair I probably haven't ridden full suspension enough to get used to the feel of them or to give them an adequate evaluation but I suppose that's because every time I get on one it feels so weird... and don't even get me started on climbing, my uncle Bob seems to make an appearance more often than I'd like. They all claim to eliminate pedaling movement but you get a wheezy, overweight dude on one in survival mode, out of the saddle climbing, just throwing the bike left and right to eek out any and all possible forward momentum and those squishy bits are going to squish. Totally not the fault of the engineer or the manufacturer as they didn't force feed me that extra slice or make me drink all that beer but the point is still valid, certain people these types of bikes make sense but for my type of people it's more akin to riding one of those stamped steel seahorses at the playground tethered to the earth via a big spring... shit just bounces every direction.

After a few spins around the roller coaster dirt track of Jewell I opted for a little road/gravel time on the full carbon BSD 9 RDO. I liked this one, would have been better had there been miles of gravel to ride it on but it seemed like a really nice riding bicycle for the little bit I did ride it on the road and the one small stretch of gravel. If I rode cross type bikes more I could see picking one of these up down the road maybe.


Last up for me wasn't even a Niner but the house brand from Dundee Cycles, this is more up my alley, light weight and rigid. I do like a little front squish from time to time but I don't seem to be as sensitive as some people when it comes to needing to have suspension up front and carbon for me does a nice job of dampening most of the trail chatter. This bike ended up being my second favorite ride of the night behind the ROS9+. This one was setup with grip shifters, a 1X setup and I9 hubs, the grip shifting took a bit to get used to again but after that it was smooth sailing. I was really impressed with the I9 hubs, first time I have ever rode a pair and they have as good as, if not better, engagement than Chris King hubs have, there was absolutely no lag when you applied the power to the pedal... and man did they sing on the descents, it was a beautiful sound... like a chorus of wood nymphs all singing in perfect harmony. At $1200 for frame and fork they aren't exactly giving them away but they are also at the lower end of the spectrum for a full carbon frame and fork and you can fully customize your paint scheme. When it's time to upgrade the single speed this bike is definitely going to be on my short list of possibilities, it was that much fun to ride.

Once the riding was done it was time to replenish some of those fluids lost to sweat, fortunately the NBC taproom is only a hop, skip and a jump (don't try this after having too many libations or you'll likely twist and ankle or worse) from my pad and they make delicious beer. Paired with one of their meatball Paninis it was the perfect ending to a perfect day of riding.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

ThNNDDR - Branched Oak


Today was the first Saturday edition of the Thursday Night No Drop Dirt Ride, I know what you're thinking... if it's on Saturday why isn't it the Saturday No Drop Dirt Ride? The answer my friend is twofold, first SaNDDR when sounded out would be sander and that is far less cool sounding than ThNNDDR or thunder, secondly the rides are only temporarily moved to Saturday until we can get back into Wilderness Park.

OK, so now that we have the formalities out of the way lets get down to the recap. If you've ever been out to Branched Oak area 7 you know that the trail is MUCH hillier than Wilderness, this combined with the fact that gravity works just fine out at Branched Oak makes for fewer opportunities for pictures and way more opportunities for panting and oxygen deprivation. So as you can see this blog post is a little light on photos but it was no less fun, even if there isn't as much proof of it.


As I was loading the bike on the car and getting ready to head to Lincoln it was lightly raining in Omaha so I was starting to wonder if this ride would happen or not. After quadruple checking the forecast for Lincoln and seeing only overcast skies and chilly temps but no rain it was time to go. Given the fact that it was Memorial weekend, this was the first ThNNDDR on Saturday, it was all the way out at B.O. lake and the weather was less than ideal I was pleasantly surprised that there were four of us for the ride. Despite the lousy weather all of the campgrounds out at the lake looked to be filled to capacity but the trail itself we had all to ourselves. The dirt was near perfect conditions for about 85% of it with only a few soft spots here and there, it was even freshly mowed! Most of us got in two good laps before it started to lightly mist and we called it a ride. Hoping the weather next Saturday proves to be warmer, dryer and with fewer clouds but even if we get a repeat of today I'd be happy. Come on out next weekend and get some B.O. dirt while the dirt is good. Have a great Memorial weekend everyone.

Friday, May 22, 2015

ThNNDRR - Pawnee Lake


Because the great flood of 2015 has caused the closure of Wilderness Park along with the Jamaican and Homestead trails I made the call to temporarily move the Thursday Night No Drop Dirt Rides out to Branched Oak lake and to switch the day of the ride to Saturday mornings to maximize participation. The change in venue and subsequent change in schedule meant that my Thursday nights suddenly became way less busy, so I decided to join Rick for the Thursday Night No Drop Road Ride.


Temps were in the upper 60 to lowers 70 range with just an ever so slight breeze. It would have been a gorgeous day on any week but the fact that it's been so cold and rainy lately here on the Great Plains made it an even more excellent day to be out on bicycles.


Must have been fat guy appreciation night last night because somehow I ended up in the front or maybe I was a little stinkier than I thought and people were trying to distance themselves from me.


After winding our way through Lincoln we headed out on HWY 34 into the wind, fighting that vicious 4 mph head wind was pretty brutal but we managed.


Regroup at NW 112th before turning south toward Pawnee Lake, I always forget just how close the lake it to Lincoln, must be because I don't get out that way all that often but it really is a nice loop with plenty to see by bicycle.




The next stop was at Pawnee Lake for both a regroup and photo ops, good group last night with 9 of us in total.


The other side of Ricks famous selfies, I can see why this angle doesn't get much play.


The nice thing about rolling back into Lincoln from Pawnee via W. Adams and NW 84th is that there are a fair amount of downhill sections between the two and who doesn't like a quick downhill section, I know my legs were grateful after the climbs on HWY 34.



One upside of all the rain lately is that everything is lush and green, even places like the interstate medians that don't get watered and would normally be a bit more brown by now are flourishing this year.


Another regroup in Emerald for the final push down HWY 6/O Street back into Lincoln, with all the pothole dodging we had to do there wasn't any time for pictures... some of them were big enough to swallow a wheel whole if you hit it just wrong.


After successfully navigating the pothole mine field and making it back to more solid cement it was safe to resume snapping pictures again. Weird riding over the Harris Overpass and seeing all the new buildings cropping up all around it, used to ride over this daily when there was nothing more than trains and the occasional homeless person. Lincoln is changing, for better or for worse, depending on your personal feelings toward what is and isn't forward progress...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tour de Brew LNK - A Little Sumpin from Lagunitas


The beer gods were looking down on the Tour de Brew LNK ride last night, only mere hours before it was overcast with periods of rain but then the rains stopped, the clouds parted and sunshine shone down on Moran's Liquor Works akin to a rainbow pointing to a pot of gold... liquid, hop infused gold in this case.


We showed up to the rodeo a little later than usual last time, call it winter rust, ill preparedness the night before or whatever you like but this time we were determined to be a bit more prepared and got everything ready and staged the night before. It paid off, we got the bikes and gear loaded on the car and flew like the wind down to Lincoln and got to Moran's before most of the crowed descended on them.


It was still standing room only, mostly because Moran's lacks any seating, but it wasn't butt hole to belly button yet like it has been for previous rides that we'd showed up later to, I'd say we timed it perfectly for this one and even had time to enjoy a few of the samples being offered from Lagunitas... they were all tasty.


Cycle Works had $3 glasses of the Fusion 23 on tap, if you've never had one of their Fusion series they seem to be  really good American IPAs this one had a bit of citrus flavor to it. As the number implies this is the 23rd experimentation/modification of the series and I believe they make one batch and then never again. I'm not usually a huge fan of the IPA but this one wasn't as hoppy as some can get and had good flavor.


Kitchen Sink Cookie Company was also there again, not sure if this is going to be an ongoing thing all year or not but with all the amazing cookies that they have to offer the fat kid in me kind of hopes so.


The Unemployment Sandwich caught my eye this time around. The name alone is worth a try but then you find out it's made from burnt sugar and molasses with just a pinch of angst thrown in and how could you go wrong?


The taste was even more amazing than the name, I never knew what angst tasted like but now that I do I can definitely see why it became so popular during the Grunge movement in the 90s, it's freakin delicious... which makes me wonder why they all seemed so sad and hell bent on killing themselves through over self medication.

Ran into this guy, which isn't too surprising since he works at Cycle Works but it's always good to see Damon and chat him up... he's like the James Brown of the bike business believe me I've tried to get him to go on one of these rides but dedication wins over drunkification every time. Always good to see Rick as well but more so when he's not hiding behind Cycle Works signs. Great shop and some of the best, nicest, awesome-ist group of guys and gals I've ever been associated with for sure.


On the way to the bathroom, actually while waiting in line for the bathroom, I came to the realization that I don't own a single piece of clothing with the Moose's Tooth logo on it so I had to rectify that immediately, it is a pretty bad ass logo after all and the new hats are pretty sweet on top of that.


A few beers a cookie and 30ish minutes later the crowd started to fill Cycle Works and we were getting hungry so it was time to shove off in search of food and more beer.


We usually end up somewhere in the Railyard for food on these rides so we decided to switch things up a bit and head to Ploughshare.


While it's not an overly long ride from Cycle Works to Ploughshare it was enough to fuel our appetites, some of us were so ravenous they were wasting away.




As always the beer and food were fantastic, had a great crew for the ride as well it was nice to see a few new faces and a few we haven't seen for several rides.


Usually I'm not overly fond of places where you stand in line to order your food and drink at the counter, it always feels fast foodish to me but on nights like last night it's nice to have it all taken care of at one time; plus the quality of the food and the beer is worthy of a little compromise.


Full of food and even more beer it was time to slowly roll on to Empyrean Brewing in hopes of finding a good place to post up for the rest of the evening.


Someone forgot to give the "we are going to casually ride over to Empyrean" memo to Gary as he attempted to ride off into the sunset on his own there for a bit.


It really did turn out to be a perfect night for a bicycle ride with friends.


Amazingly we ended up at Empyrean early enough that we were able to snag a table, a really big table with a whole bunch of chairs as our group doubled by the time we made it to the taproom. When we got there it was just us and 1/3 of ZZ Top in the corner.




In fact we our timing was so good that there were only about a handful of other people in the entire place and best of all absolutely no line for beer, SCORE!



Best T-shirt of the night goes to this guy, I personally don't partake but I'm also not opposed to others partaking if they so choose; there are bigger problems in this country that need more of our attention and resources than worrying about something this trivial IMO.


**Slides soap box under table**... The prizes for the ride ladies and gentleman; some awesome swag was going to be won this night. That skateboard would look nice on my wall... but would it be mine.




It didn't take too long for it to fill up to standing room only as the raffle drew near.


Apparently the girlfriend had scored herself a few Kitchen Sink cookies when we were at Cycle Works, I guess I'll have to be on my best behavior for the next few days until the cookies are all gone in hopes of getting a few crumbs thrown my way.


Runner up for best T-Shirt of the night, haven't seen one of these in a couple of years.


And then it was time to call numbers and win prizes.


I used up all my winning luck for the entire summer on the last ride so I had little hope of winning much... but Gary on the other hand, that dude must be blessed when it comes to raffles, he always seems to win something and tonight he hit the jackpot. First was this glass with stickers and discount coupons.


And then this wooden sign...


Then he finished by winning yet another wooden sign.


Mark jumped in on the winning by scoring this poster, I think between him and Jamie they scored two posters but I didn't get a shot of the second one... I hope you'll be able to sleep not ever knowing if there was a second poster or not, if not I am totally sorry completely my bad.


Michaela and Alix got in on the winning as well, Alix with a T-shirt and sticker, Michaela with a glass with stickers and coupons.


I have no idea who these people are but I noticed that they both ended up winning a glass and since they were wearing Cubs apparel I figured I'd record it for posterity... being Cubs fans they aren't exactly accustom to that winning feeling.


The big winner of the night though ended up being Michaela winning a $100 gift card to Moran's Liquor Works. They say money can't buy happiness but $100 will buy a lot of alcohol and that's a pretty darn good substitute.


Then just like that it was all over, empty beers and losing tickets were all that remained minutes after the last prize was given away. As quick as the place fills up it empties twice as fast as people jump on their metal steeds and ride off to places unknown for a good beer induced slumber until the blaring alarm in the morning so rudely snaps them back to the reality that it was only Thursday. Another super ride in the books, here's looking forward to next month and tasty offerings from none other than Empyrean Brewing Company, should be good as they have home court advantage and all.