A random collection of thoughts associated with the sport of cycling, as relayed by one hopelessly devoid of too many competing interests. It's a one track blog I'm afraid. But hey, if you like bikes you might enjoy it. So keep reading and the worst that'll happen is it might rot your brain..

Monday, June 09, 2008

'Cross Bike Recon and a Blue Schwinn Project Underground

For those who don't know I procured a Fuji 'Cross bike last month from a nice guy named Nate in Providence. $600 bought me a barely used '07 Fuji Cross Comp with some nicer spec goodies and an Ultegra wheel set. I know it was barely used because I was the one to shake out all the kinks. During it's first ride up to the old Rehab Hospital trails in Woonsocket the following transpired; 1 loose cassette lockring, 1 crank arm self extraction, 1 loose brake pad and then I got a flat (my fault). And, to top it all off, I was bumped off the road by a car mirror on Cobble Hill Rd. This was the worst ride in recent memory by far. All that said I still enjoyed the ride and the bike immensely. The descent down the power lines in the Rocket back to the new bike path trailhead was a blast. The time spent in Chase Farm and Lincoln Woods was equally enjoyable as well. The bike is exactly what I wanted, something quicker handling than my old Poprad and also quite a bit lighter. Watch out C class goons, I'll be at least marginally faster on this rig!

For the second outing I decided to ride up to Cumberland to explore the "other side" of Diamond Hill. This is what was once Diamond Hill State Park but is now town conservation land in Cumberland. The parcel of land sits between Tower Hill Rd and 114 and it can be accessed from either road. I rode in off of 114 and went to work exploring the network of double track. The trails are really soupy at first but eventually things dry out as you get on the hillside itself. If you head up there expect to find a lot of loose rock trails running straight down the hill, these are intersected by more of the same running along the width of the hill. I spent about 40minutes grunting up climbs and blasting around on the rolling stuff. While I wouldn't recommend driving there to ride mountain bikes it does make for a nice 'cross bike challenge, and depending on your route, makes for a 40 + mile ride with some woods riding thrown in for good measure. Bring some bug spray as it is your atypical swampy Southern NE mess in many spots.

This Saturday I rode out to Rocky Woods in Taunton to explore the area for the first time in a long time. I used to ride there with the Providence Bicycle gang when I had first moved back to the area (1999/2000). This was when there was a regular Saturday ride leaving the shop, and we needed to find new riding spots to keep it interesting. I also raced there in 2000 as part of a now defunct racing series that included the Master Blaster race in Attleboro, MA. Ah yes, the days of local MTB racing... Anyways, back to the matter at hand. I had no idea what to expect and the reports from the NEMBA message board were less than stellar. I figured worst case scenario I'd get in a 50 mile ride on 'cross tires early in the day before it became hotter than the Devil's armpit. That plan didn't work out so well due to my spending too much time discussing Metalocalypse with Captain Stupid at the Fez. So I rolled out at 11:00 AM and proceeded to ride over to Rocky Woods at a surprisingly strong pace considering the singlespeed ride the night before at Lincoln Woods.

I arrived at Rocky Woods before it became unbearably hot and rode in right at the end of Glebe St. in Taunton. From this entrance I lucked onto what is apparently the best kept section of trail. Most of what I found was moto double track laced with the usual rocks, roots, mud and streams. Most of the swampy atv/moto ruts had cheater lines around them, and this allowed me to stay on the bike for almost all of the 45 minutes I spent exploring. After spending around 30 minutes out there I ran across a really big surly snapping turtle, at this point I decided life would simply be easier if I just yielded the trail and headed out. It seemed like a good point to turn back anyways. I popped out of the woods completely spattered with stanky swamp goop, and I must've looked like a rolling version of Pigpen while riding home. At one point I was joined by a Union Cycles rider 107 miles into his ride, and he asked me what the hell happened to me. I really hadn't noticed that my legs were completely covered in dust and mud, and that the bike was really nasty with big globs of crud all over the rear end. I'm slightly shocked the 10 speed stuff didn't explode on me. Word on the street is this stuff dislikes the mud. The rest of the ride home was uneventful, hot as hell, but uneventful. My FSA bottom bracket finally broke in on this ride, that was a nice touch.

Yesterday I built up a bike that's probably familiar to some of you. This is my third Schwinn Project Underground frame. I bought this last September for a ridiculously low price and I swore I'd get around to building it into a rideable whip. That day finally came yesterday, and I took it for an hour long shakedown ride at Lincoln Woods late in the day. Aside from the beautiful pewter Race Face Turbines the build is nothing to get excited about, but it all works just the same. For those wondering what's so special about an 11 year old Schwinn go here and read up. And yeah, you guessed it, that's one of my old bikes. I traded it into the wonderful bicycle museum Jeff Archer has built in Statesville, NC. The frames make excellent singlespeeds due to the overbuilt bottom bracket area, and the light weight doesn't hurt either. My new one is geared 2:1 with a 34x17 drivetrain, a Surly 1x1 fork and a DMR tensioner.

Riding this bike was like throwing on an old pair of shoes. Even though I haven't ridden a 26" wheeled bike in almost 6 months, and I hadn't ridden one of these frames in roughly two years, it was almost instantly familiar. I forgot just how much quicker a 26" mtb will scramble up steep punchy climbs, and how a taller gear will make you feel like you are on a rocket ship. The relatively light weight helps with this, but the fundamental acceleration difference in wheel size is so readily apparent it's kinda surprising. I think for longer climbs it's a wash between the 29er and a 26, it's on the short steeps that the 26 just blazes up stuff. I won't be ditching my 29ers to ride an old Schwinn anytime soon, but it's nice to have this ride to change it up from time to time.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Tom said...

There's a guy on craigslist boston selling a homegrown: http://boston.craigslist.org/nwb/bik/711677014.html
not one of the cool bass boat colors but it seems like an ok deal ($275) I agree on the wheelsize differences. The debate as to which is "better" is tiring - as you say they are both good for different reasons.

6:11 PM

 
Blogger Aa said...

You sir, are what we like to refer to as, an addict.

And it's blue to boot!

8:05 AM

 
Blogger Aa said...

I'm sold. Completely dyed in the wool blind faith convinced. The big wheels are where it's at.

7:58 AM

 
Blogger Mark said...

You could always try it as a 69er. That is the first thing that I look at for SS conversions. The fork might not work for you but if you had a rigid 29er fork laying around, then give it a try. I converted a Walmart Mongoose this way, with "center" suspension and it was fun to play around with.

7:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a project underground in tomato red. Do you know where I can get more info on it?

5:37 AM

 
Blogger Brendan said...

Google Bonus Tomato, it's a site dedicated to Homegrowns. There is a lot of good info on there!

12:33 PM

 

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