Thursday, January 29, 2009

First Singletrack, Snow, Night Ride

Previously, I have been riding singletrack at Manawa; I have ridden there in the snow; and I have ridden there at night (with handlebar light). Tonight's Thursday Night Ride, for the first time I was able combine all in one ride.

Needed to get out and ride today. Meeting up for the TNR to pick up a Trail Group display board was just the excuse (as if I need an excuse to ride) I needed. I was there early to get in a warm-up ride before dark.

Some nine of us rode. They are all much faster and better riders then me, but I had a good ride. Made a full lap after dark. Stopped several times to take photos (yes, that is the same tree that I parked my bike at for the previous photo).

Trail condition was snow covered ice, with spots of grease. My hardtail with studded tires performed great.

After 11+ miles and just short of 2 hours, I ended up with a slight headache. That's probably from the concentration needed to ride in the woods, in the snow, at night. For me, every new accomplishment makes me stronger.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nokian Extreme 294

A week ago, on bitter cold day, I decided to install my new studded tires on my hardtail. A good day to work in the house and I was anxious to see how well they work.

You are supposed to ride them on pavement for 30 miles as a break-in. Before doing that, I rode 4 miles in the snow, singletrack at Lake Manawa.

On the snow-packed trail, they performed abut the same as normal mountain bike tire (riding with less than 25# air pressure). As the temperature climbed, I watched for snow packing on the tread. The fork of my Trek4300 hardtail was starting to pack with snow, but the tire tread kept pretty clear. At icy spots, I noticed that I did not slip on the hills (a very good sign).

The next day, I headed out on the local paved bike trail (11 miles). I upped the air pressure for this ride - about 35#. As expected, the trail is mostly clear, with spots of ice from snow melting. This is where the studded tires excelled. Previously, I would lift my feet off of the pedals and spread my legs for better balance as I rode across the ice. With the studded tires, I could continue pedaling right across the ice. As a test, I found I could even accelerate on the ice!

The other test was section was riding on a packed snow/ice trail which was plowed, but not "cleared" (see photo). Where previously I might walking the section, I was now able to ride right through.

Finally I finished the break-in with a 20 mile ride on pavement. Air pressure upped to 40-45# (probably should have been higher). On a 20 mile ride, I noticed the higher rolling resistance of the studded tires. My riding pace was slower and my legs sure felt it the next day!

Bottom line - The Nokian Extreme 294 Studded Tires are AWESOME. Now I am not an aggresive rider, but I did not feel slippage on either bare pavement or ice. They do the trick riding on ice or packed snow. However, for the higher rolling resistance of the tires, I will ride non-studded tires for normal riding - use the studded tires when you know you will encounter icy conditions.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Short Sunday Ride

After breakfast, I headed to Manawa for a short ride. My legs are still tired from the ride yesterday, but wanted to worked them a little. Also, I wanted to check out my new studded tires on the hardtail.

The snow at Manawa was crunchy when I started riding. Had about 15-20 psi air in the rear tire, probably about 25 on the front. Needed to add little air to the rear brought it to about 25 psi. That seemed to work pretty well on the singletrack.

After 4 miles on singletrack, I rode up to the paved bike trail. The studded tires seemed to do their job. I had good traction on the snow/crunchy snow/ice. Surprisingly, I felt that I had pretty good traction also on bare pavement.

Now, I was not riding very fast - but who wants to ride fast on ice (I do not plan to race the bike on the ice). I want to be able to safely lengthen the riding season. Watch for more comments as I ride more with these tires.

I plan to ride again tomorrow morning. Word is that a unorganized group ride will happen tomorrow morning (8:30) at Lake Manawa.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Very Tired

WOW, I am tired after the ride today. Tired in a very good way - body is tired (specially legs) but mind is energized.

I rode 11 miles in the snow at Manawa on the Fuel EX7. That was an hour and 49 minute ride (about 2 hours with stopped time), a long singletrack ride for me. The average 6 mph pace was pretty good for me, too.

When I got home from breakfast, I saw on Facebook that others will be riding at Manawa today. I hightailed it back to town to ride. Several others out riding today. The trail was in good condition, though starting to get soft.

Stopped by Xtreme Wheels to welcome them back from their holiday vacation. I learned that trainers were in and looks like spinning classes start Tuesday (watch the Xtreme Wheels Blog).

Hoping to ride at Manawa tomorrow morning (after breakfast). Rumor has it that a group is planning to ride Monday morning 8:30 am at Manawa.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Snow Ride at Manawa

Today I made my first singletrack ride of the year. We got an inch+ of new snow overnight, so I was the first wheel tracks down the trail.

My plan was to ride my hardtail. But, I had problems getting one of the pedals loosened (wanted to change to combo or flat for my boots). When I skinned my hand, I decided to ride the Fuel EX7.

Tried riding with the air pressure in the tires (about 30#). That was too much, so let out more air. Riding much better now. The other thing I did was lock the rear suspension.

The wind started to pick up, and felt a bit cool, so called it a ride after just short of an hour.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Studded Tires

This winter is looking to be another long one. Before Christmas I was thinking of buying a pair of studded tires for my hardtail. The trails around here in Council Bluffs are generally plowed. When the are plowed, we get several (many) icy spots.

In additional, last winter I learned how to ride singletrack in the snow. I would like to do more of that, to lengthen my riding season.

What I can see the Nokian Extreme 294 Studded Mountain Bike Tires - 26" looks to be a good tire. I like the tread and stud pattern. Wondering if anyone can comment of the tire, other recommendations?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Snowy Full Moon Ride

Andrew, Blaine, and I braved the elements to do the first Xtreme Wheels Full Moon Ride of 2009.

By the time we headed out from the bike shop, the snow was falling heavily. There was a strong wind from the North. Sure happy we rode against the wind heading out. Very pleasant riding with the wind later.

We stopped at Valley View Park. By the time we stopped to take a couple of photos, our tire tracks were nearly obliterated as we recrossed the bridge over Mosquito Creek. Ended up at Village Inn for eats.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Xtreme Winterfest Bike Ride

Today was the 7th Annual Xtreme Winterfest Bike Ride sponsored by my friends at Xtreme Wheels Bike & Sport and the Council Bluffs Parks & Recreation Dept. It was NOT my first ride of the year (I got out an rode New Years Day). It was the first ride in the bicycling calendar.

The ride started from the Western Historic Trail Center and ended up at the Riverside Grill. The weather was "damp" - constant mist with temperature of 36 deg. Not the best conditions - but could have been worse.

Some folks rode from Omaha and around CB, stopped at the Riverside Grill, before heading home. Several rode on up to the Bob Kerrey Bridge. Others (like me) just rode up to the restaurant and back to the trail center. I was damp enough when I got back!

Bill (Xtreme Wheels) estimated some 70-75 riders participated. Pretty good attendance with the nasty weather!

Photos I took of Xtreme Winterfest Bike Ride can be found (and ordered - hope that works) at

End of the Year

I did not get a posting written with my total year miles. In case you are interested, I ended up with 2203 miles in my log.

The breakdown is 261 miles on my hybrid (Trek 7200FX), 781 miles on my hardtail (Trek 4300), and 1160 miles on my trail bike (Trek FuelEX7). (OH, if you added it, there would be a mile missing - that was on my friend's comfort bike).

The photo with this posting was a ice covered Lake Manawa, taken during my last ride of the year.