Chipilly Woods

I took advantage of an unbroken streak of nice late-summer weather to take the Fargo over to Chipilly Woods, a local “hidden gem”. Though close by, I don’t really consider Chipilly rideable for much of the year. It’s part of the flood zone for one of the many tributaries that dot the landscape here, and as such is usually wet and pretty mosquito-ridden for the bulk of the Spring and Summer. That, plus it’s relatively small size keeps it from being a “hidden gem” in my book (of course, I will admit that I come from a land with some pretty sweet singletrack, so I’m spoiled).

Anyway, with a good stretch of dry weather I gave Chipilly another shot, and it turned out to be a nice workout for the Fargo. After dropping the tire pressure by 10 psi rear and 15 front I gained just enough grip to keep me upright, and the Fargo was able to do some pretty good trail carving (at least as good as I can expect from a big 29er…). The Revelate frame bag turned out to be a nice surprise. I was expecting the long profile to create a lot of sliding gear once I got into the quick twisties, but for the most part everything stayed in place, and the lower center of gravity kept me locked in place. Way better than a backpack.

On that note this was really the first time I’ve run water bottles in the fork mounts offroad, and the Lezyne cages worked great. I barely noticed the additional weight and I returned home with as many bottles as I started with.

If I can find a half day of free time (ha!) I’m dying to go down and explore Palos, or maybe head up to Wisconsin, but I guess in the meantime Chipilly will suffice. At least here I can work the trail into my commute, so it’s an easy way to grab some dirt before work. Next time I’ll be going back with loaded panniers, so we’ll see how that goes…



circa 1982

Let me introduce you to the most important thing in my life in the fall of 1982. My Supergoose.

See, up until then my source of mobility was my old refurbished funky green metallic Schwinn Stingray. Now, don’t get me wrong – that was a bike that rocked without equal in 1976. A deep metalflake green rattlecan paintjob (with a matching banana seat!), hi-rise sissy bar, ape bars, stubby rear fender and a drag slick out back. Even though it was a rescue from the town dump, it oozed attitude and could hold a wheelie for 50 yards. Don’t even get me started with skids. But by 1980 it was showing it’s age. The stance was all wrong, the color was getting long in the tooth, and several years spent with baskets for newspaper delivering had taken it’s toll. Did I mention that  beck then you stored your bikes in the metal shed out back? Rust city. Every spring you tried to fight it back with a can of Noxon and an old toothbrush, but it was a losing battle.

So enter 1982. Big year. First year of high school. New crowd. BMX! I started hanging with 4 or 5 guys who were pretty deep into BMX. In truth, it was pretty hard NOT to be into BMX in ’82. It was everywhere. That was the summer of E.T. BMX was rad baby. I had to dump the old Schwinn for something real. Thing was, that old paper route was a losing proposition, and funds were limited at best. Luckily, some of the guys I was hanging out with by then were already upgrading their serious toys, and I reaped the benefits. I scraped up enough for a shiny new Supergoose frame, fork and crank (Chrome-moly!), and through weeks of bartering landed some hand-me-down components to finish it off. Tuff Wheels, stainless bars, gold headset and more. Built it up in a killer yellow and black scheme (chosen once the yellow wheels became available). Built it up myself. Man, I loved that bike. For a good year it was the style king of the sump in my neighborhood (no, we didn’t have a local track – we used to hop the fences of the local sumps where we would build jumps and berms to mess around on).

Years later I sold the ‘goose to a neighborhood kid once I got tired of it and was scraping together $$$ for my first car (another story). By then that sweet shiny finish had fallen victim to the rust monster that dwelled in our shed, and I had lost count of how many aluminum seat posts I had bent by then. Thing is, until I  dug up this shot I had almost forgotten about that bike. These days it’s the old schwinn I miss most. Not sure if I even have a picture of that one kicking around…

say hello



initial setup with dual cages on the fork mounts

initial setup with dual cages on the fork mounts

Deep into a tough winter with little opportunities to ride. Lo and behold the good folks at Bikeman call from out of the blue to let me know that the 2011 Salsas were finally shipping. My Fargo (large) showed up on time about a week later. I’ll elaborate on the details in a later post, but I’ll just say that setup was generally a breeze and about 90 minutes after cracking open the crate it was all ready for a shakedown ride.

I went out early Sunday in 25 degree weather to get some first impressions. After not being on a 29″ for a year it took a little while to get used to the size of the Fargo. This sucker is big. The suspension-correct fork coupled with the sloping top tube positions the bars much higher than on either my Bianchi roady or the Redline CX. That said, you get used to it quickly. The riding position feels quite natural and intuitive and you have tons of leverage when conditions get sloppy. The 3-4″ of crusty ice and snow allowed for a little bit of slow, technical maneuvering, but I’ll dig a bit deeper once I start hitting the rail trails. Dangle frame bag from Revelate Designs is on it’s way, so stay tuned on that front…

needed correction..


just realized that when I look back on the last 2 posts I COULD lead folks to the (understandable) conclusion that I’m sitting on a wealth of interesting bikes, and I’m simply selling off several that have fallen by the wayside. Not the case – if the Redline sells it will leave me with exactly ONE bike (horrors!). ’nuff said. I’m taking this Fargo/all-in-one seriously.   🙂

adjusting to the wet


so I guess I’ve finally given up the fantasy notion that the sun will one day break through and that has left me with the realization that I’ll just have get used to rain. Lots of rain. I’ve been putting off exploring the Green Bay Trail up to this point because of the wet. See, the GB trail is a mixed-surface trail that runs north-south parallel to a main rail line near our house. It’s nice because it runs through some REALLY nice areas (including straight through the Ravinia Festival). Portions are paved but much of the trail is left as a natural pounded clay dirt surface. This surface is smooth and soft, but when damp puddles up and sprays a fine gray silt everywhere. Good thing is it’s ridable in even the worst weather (it’s packed down hard and doesn’t create mud ruts) but can get really messy.

Anyway, the weather got to me so I decided to get out and explore the trail despite the wet conditions. This forced me to finally cave in and address the subject of fenders on the Redline. I’ve avoided it till now because of two reasons. First – the cool factor. I just have a hard time warming up to a fendered bike. I guess I’ll never be continental. Second – the Redline has discs and no fender mounts – which means that options are limited and most solutions are big plastic wings that clip to the frame.

Ah! But there is another solution. Bontrager has a pair of half-fenders that descreetly mount and can be easily removed when not needed. If you are familiar with the Trek Portland you’ll recognize them. Here’s what they look like…


Understand, as half fenders these are aimed at protecting the rider, not the bike. Full fenders would do a better job at that, but are not a practical solution here. I just need to realize that I’ll be hosing the bike down pretty regularly.


close-up of the rear mount. Check out all the clay-silt overspray…


now you see it now you don’t. The quick-release is a nice add-in. The fenders don’t slap around much, so I’ll probably start out leaving them on full-time and see how much I notice them.



last pic for today. This only looks like a tunnel to nowhere. Actually it’s the awesomely rusty pedestrian overpass that crosses the Edens Expressway near the house. Always feels slightly gulag-ish to me…

been gone so long….


sorry kids – guess I’ve been doing a bit of hibernating this winter. Had to take a minute and post up this photo though… we took advantage of warm weather and blue skies to head down to the city and watch them turn the river green. Don’t worry – they won’t say what they use to do it but its EPA-approved and totally harmless. Oh yeah, did I mention it’s GREEN!


On a different note, the warm weather has cleared the ice from the roads (but not the glass, gravel, sticks and bodies), so I’m starting to head out and begin exploring a bit. 35 miles on Sunday, a 20 mile loop before work today, and plans to do another later this week for starters. Hope to head up to the Wisconsin state line before too long. Stay tuned…

baby it’s cold outside…



it probably isn’t coincidence that the day we return to Chicago it’s only 26° and snowing. Why? Because it’s also the day my winter riding upgrades arrived! Pictured above is a brandy-new pair of Kenda Small-block cyclocross tires and a clamp-on rear fender – all destined to adorn the Redline shortly. The real question is – will this snow melt sometime before June, or should I have invested in spiked rubber instead?