Owww!

 

I have no idea what the real name of these demons may be, but I call them Eyecatchers. By midsummer these wonders of Nature have grown to head height, reaching out with a full arsenal of prickly barbs to grab onto anything that passes by. When they begin to turn brown they become pretty easy to spot (and avoid), but when green they blend in with the more harmless stuff – lurking.

hazy summer morning

I wish this section of trail was longer…

A nice, sun-kissed morning ride. This will be the 3rd day this week that I’ve been able to ride in. When it’s gets to be late summer the narrow trail all but disappears under the drooping tall weeds. Pretty. but you end up all scraped up afterwards. This stuff is sharp.

 

I’ll have to remember to take this shot again in February…

halfway.

Image

On days that I choose a direct route to work, this railroad bridge represents the halfway point in the journey. Looking North (towards home) it’s all pavement – a good stretch of bike path with a short bit of road to get me home. Head South of here and it’s a mix of dirt access roads (courtesy of the Union Pacific) and abandoned rail lines. Quite fitting then that this shot features my Fargo, which does double-duty by switching between these worlds without complaint.

Let’s not dwell on the network of power lines dangling overhead. I really don’t want to think too hard about what if any side effects they may offer. Keep pedaling…..

Mud!

Believe it not its actually rained a bit this week, and not just enough to wet the leaves but some actual mud-creating accumulation. With thunderstorms every morning today has been the first day that I’ve been able to get out and hit the trails.

 

Image

 

I still hit a series of sun showers, but what the hey, I was under the tree canopy for most of the time..

 

Image

 

Geeze – those roots don’t look anywhere as slippery as they really were this morning. I’ll admit, I’m a bit rusty on wet trail riding, and the tire combo and panniers didn’t help. I managed to stay upright for MOST of the time, but I did put her down twice. No damage done.

 

Image

 

The Contis are a great pavement/trail transition tire, but mud isn’t their strong suit. They clog up real quick and the compound doesn’t provide a heck of a lot of grip in the wet. Lesson learned. Slow it down and shift my weight back when the trail gets mucky…

Happy Monday

Image

A sticky hot morning called for a cool, shady ride through the woods. I never actually count miles when I stray off-road, but I still got in around 90 minutes of saddle time. More than I would have been able to endure if I had stayed on the road I suspect…

One of the odd finds in Chipilly Woods is a large grassy clearing towards the southwest corner that contains this…

Image

it’s a large, low monument that recognizes the history of “The Dandy First”, a National Guard regiment from the area that (according to the plaque) was the highest decorated unit in the First World War, as well as suffering the highest casualty rate in all the U.S. forces. I can’t speak to why it’s placed in the middle of Chipilly Woods. Perhaps the woods were named after the battle of Chipilly Ridge (see the inscription below), but why here? I’ll do a bit of digging on that one…

Image

Oh yeah, that large rock that serves as the base? It’s the cornerstone from an Armory that serves Chicago (and The Dandy First) from 1890-1966. Who knew?

Strange Days Indeed…

I really don’t expect to average a whole lot of riding from January through mid-March This is Chicago after all. All the more reason to be surprised by the fact that this photo was taken when it was – on an early morning commute in the middle of the second week in February. Needless to say this has NOT been an average winter.

That’s ok – you won’t find me complaining. Not sure what this means for our usual muddy Spring, but for now I’ll take what I can get. Ride on…

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…

 

 

Brightness

These are some nice days to be riding here in the Chicago area. As August winds down the first whiffs of Autumn are in the air. It was almost just chilly enough this morning to think about where I stashed my long-sleeve jerseys. Time to break out the trailer and start hitting the trails with the full family…

 

 

Revelate Tangle frame bag

revelate1.jpg
I’ve added a bag to the Fargo and I thought it would be a good time to lay down some first impressions. I picked up a frame bag from Revelate Designs up in Anchorage Alaska (gotta admit, it’s pretty cool getting packages from Alaska…). The one I ordered was the Mountain Tangle bag. I landed on this model for several reasons. I plan on using the bag primarily for carrying my everyday stuff (pump, tubes, tools, keys & such) – stuff I would normally cram in a seat bag. With the Thudbuster post a seat bag becomes problematic, so it was time to give a frame bag a try.
Those of you who troll the Fargo forum are certainly familiar to seeing bikes with Revelate’s cool full triangle frame bags. I was tempted, but for my needs they seemed like a bit of overkill. Additionally, the Tangle bags are stock items, so I could lock in an order as soon as I knew the 2011 Fargo’s were hitting the dealers and not need to wait for a custom order to be filled.
revelate2.jpg
Revelate sure makes a quality product. Construction is first-rate. Once strapped in securely this bag won’t be going anywhere. 3 top straps, one on the head tube, one down below and 2 on the seat tube allow for enough fine tuning of the fit to address any unique frame design issues.
revelate3.jpg
The Mountain bag is 19.5“ long. I could probably have gotten by with the Touring model as well (21”) since I have a little air before the bag hits the seat tube, but since I ordered the bag before the bike arrived I played it safe on sizing.

revelate4.jpg
Clearance is a bit tight with a large water bottle. Not sure if switching the cage to the down tube will help, but I’ll try that this weekend. Not a big issue regardless.
revelate5.jpg
There’s one small port included in the front to route a hydration tube, which has come in handy for a lighting cable (I’m currently experimenting with switching my Cygo lights from my helemt mount to a bar mounted setup)
revelate6.jpg
One of my concerns with the whole frame bag concept was width. If I packed one full would it end up bulging enough to start rubbing against my legs or shoes during pedaling? as you can see from this shot the bag is certainly wider than my top bar, but not to the point of annoying, and it hasn’t interfered with me in any way so far. One last thought – the spacing between the top straps is just wide enough allow mu meaty paws to grab the top cleanly, so lifting the bike by the top tube is not an issue.

That’s it so far. Stay tuned as I’ll update with some more detailed feedback as I start to put on the miles….