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The Surly Mountain Biking Thread

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1 hour ago, Al_4_ISU said:

Rode some single track with my fat bike last night.  I'm definitely seeing the fruits of persistence pay off.  I climbed well and descended faster than I have previously.  I can feel my technical control improving, and my strength to climb improving.  I've started running pretty low PSI and that makes a big difference, especially in your ability to control descents.

Didn't stop for pics or anything, but it's good to get positive affirmation that this hasn't been a waste of time/money.

Should be able to get in a pretty good ride tomorrow, same park as I rode Memorial Day weekend.

Yeah once you start riding, the proficiency and conditioning builds fairly fast.  Then you have to kind of avoid doing the same ride all the time.  I like watching skills videos on youtube for ideas on things to do.  One that is particularly helpful, I found, on level ground, practice dropping your ass behind your seat, almost touching the back tire and continuing to ride, and leaning far over the front bars, almost kissing the front tire.  Those are two things that are helpful when descending and climbing, respectively, and easy enough to talk about, but actually doing them is kind of another thing.

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2 minutes ago, TwiceHorn said:

Yeah once you start riding, the proficiency and conditioning builds fairly fast.  Then you have to kind of avoid doing the same ride all the time.  I like watching skills videos on youtube for ideas on things to do.  One that is particularly helpful, I found, on level ground, practice dropping your ass behind your seat, almost touching the back tire and continuing to ride, and leaning far over the front bars, almost kissing the front tire.  Those are two things that are helpful when descending and climbing, respectively, and easy enough to talk about, but actually doing them is kind of another thing.

Yup.  I'm starting to mix in more changes to my rides, now that I have some of the basics down.

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The more you structure it, the better you will be. Ie., one day is endurance, one day short bursts, bike handling, etc...

Don't suck the fun out of it though. At the end of the day, we need to have a good time.

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8 hours ago, G650 said:

I was fortunate to be of the perfect age to ride the coming mountain bike wave in the 80's, plus lived in an area that was a hotbed of it and had a few pros, some of who I was friends with. It was just a matter of circumstance and good fortune mostly. It's also ironic that Virginia Beach ended up being such a mountain bike town, as we have no real riding here whatsoever, you have to go to the western part of the state, but you can still see it today. There are no casual hybrid or commuter bike riders, you use a MTB to get around town. Even super working class people get around with Kmart mountain bikes to and from work. Hell, even the homeless people have them. I got my first MTB in 1986, a Diamondback. Then I upgraded to a real bike shortly thereafter with a Yokota Tuolumne. And kinda went on from there. I'm not into like I used to be, partly because the sport has gotten a little over commercialized and changed in ways I'm not into, and partly because I'm a lot more into road riding, but a mountain bike is always going to be the default in my mind when I think of "bicycle".

 

BMX was pretty big here too in the 90s, but not quite as much. There were some nice ass Redlines and GTs around.

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Simon and Garfunkle?   

 

Front disk, rear cantilever... Walmart special

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Yeah once you start riding, the proficiency and conditioning builds fairly fast.  Then you have to kind of avoid doing the same ride all the time.  I like watching skills videos on youtube for ideas on things to do.  One that is particularly helpful, I found, on level ground, practice dropping your ass behind your seat, almost touching the back tire and continuing to ride, and leaning far over the front bars, almost kissing the front tire.  Those are two things that are helpful when descending and climbing, respectively, and easy enough to talk about, but actually doing them is kind of another thing.
Of course, now everyone uses a dropper post. I'm still not riding with one, so getting behind the seat on steep descents is a must.

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10 minutes ago, KuЯdt said:
On 7/3/2018 at 1:18 PM, TwiceHorn said:
Yeah once you start riding, the proficiency and conditioning builds fairly fast.  Then you have to kind of avoid doing the same ride all the time.  I like watching skills videos on youtube for ideas on things to do.  One that is particularly helpful, I found, on level ground, practice dropping your ass behind your seat, almost touching the back tire and continuing to ride, and leaning far over the front bars, almost kissing the front tire.  Those are two things that are helpful when descending and climbing, respectively, and easy enough to talk about, but actually doing them is kind of another thing.

Of course, now everyone uses a dropper post. I'm still not riding with one, so getting behind the seat on steep descents is a must.

New to me, I still kind of need the saddle as a reference point, unless I want a rubber douching.  But until I started doing this on level ground, I wasn't getting nearly as far back or down as I thought I was.  I'm just kind of one of those people that sees someone do it, and/or gets told how, intellectually understands it, but actually doing it right is a whole other kettle of fish.

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Yes, learning and applying these things can take some time. I've been doing it so long that it's second nature and I don't think about it anymore.
But it's like anything else, practice and experience brings the skills.
A few trips otb is what really reinforces the lesson

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16 minutes ago, KuЯdt said:

Yes, learning and applying these things can take some time. I've been doing it so long that it's second nature and I don't think about it anymore.
But it's like anything else, practice and experience brings the skills.
A few trips otb is what really reinforces the lesson emoji3.png

Yeah I'm not sure how many trips otb I can handle at my age.  So far I have avoided very many and I tend to ride in such a way that I avoid them, which probably permanently retards my learning curve.

 

I had a real shame moment on that group ride.  There was a wooden, pallet-type bridge over a little canyon/arroyo thing.  But the little on-ramp was missing or never there, so it presented an 8-10-12" ledge.  I can't manual or hop or even really predictably get the front wheel up on this new bike yet and I didn't think I should just roll head on into that, lest I get wonky and go off.  So I walked it.  Fuck me.

 

Also, one other oddball thing.  On flowy stuff, I find myself continuing to pedal through turns (not bermed) and getting small pedal/crank strikes.  AFAIK you don't need to coast through every turn pedals level but I guess this might mean I'm entering them too slow and with more lean than before maybe because I'm not used to the grip that these huge-ass tires (2.3? they seem fatter than that) and flexy rear end are giving me?  So maybe hit em faster, same lean, pedals level?

Edited by TwiceHorn

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Great ride yesterday.  Had done parts of this ride over Memorial Day weekend, so it was a good test of where I was then vs. now, and also added some new trails to the mix.

Pretty pleased with the results.  I was able to completely climb a grade I walked at least half of that time, and my downhill control was significantly improved.  Spent a lot of time trying to kiss my front tire and sit on my rear.  Makes a difference.  Only downside was the thick humidity, and incessant deer flies.  

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Dirty bike happy life?  I'd say so.

 

 

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Yeah, I have seen that and other vids.  My description of it was stupid.  What I mean is that I start pedaling sooner in the turn exit (this is flat stuff, I don't get to turn on descending things often) and get a small pedal strike by turning my inside pedal down before I have straightened up, actually kind of the same motion.  I think it must be a function of that spidey sense of how much grip you have in a turn and how much more speed you can take.  The bike and tires are giving me more grip, so I sense "faster" and start pedaling before I'm vertical enough to do it.  So I guess that means I can/should carry more speed into those turns and quit pedaling like that.  The new bike has an inch more BB clearance than the HT.

 

Its sort of odd to me that changing bikes can change so many sort of fundamental things about how you ride.  Like on the hop thing, I guess the rear suspension (so different feeling it compress when you push down) is throwing my timing off on manuals/hopping.  I could and probably should lower the seat, but I fear that without it as a point of reference I'm going ass over back-end, plus I want to get it down with the seat up.  Also, the new saddle is for now stickier than the old one and my britches get caught in it easier, or maybe I need to back it up a little, but don't think so, because the fit is otherwise good and comfortable.

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4 minutes ago, Al_4_ISU said:

Great ride yesterday.  Had done parts of this ride over Memorial Day weekend, so it was a good test of where I was then vs. now, and also added some new trails to the mix.

Pretty pleased with the results.  I was able to completely climb a grade I walked at least half of that time, and my downhill control was significantly improved.  Spent a lot of time trying to kiss my front tire and sit on my rear.  Makes a difference.  Only downside was the thick humidity, and incessant deer flies.  

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Dirty bike happy life?  I'd say so.

 

 

That's awesome.  Glad you found that tidbit helpful.

 

Funny you should post the rack pic.  Is that a Saris?   Do you like it?  I have a Yakima and the steep top tube angle on my new bike is jacking the rear too far in the air, I guess, because after a longer drive that end of the bike had come off its "perch" on the rack.  I guess the solution is one of those top tube extensions that goes between the seat post and stem/head tube, so the bike sits more horizontal in the rack.  But I'm kind of worried that it will jack with my dropper post.

 

The obvious solution I guess is to get a hitch installed and a hitch platform rack.  But I'm not sure how much longer I will have the car and it's just not fun spending $500-600 on a friggin bike rack.

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1 minute ago, TwiceHorn said:

That's awesome.  Glad you found that tidbit helpful.

 

Funny you should post the rack pic.  Is that a Saris?   Do you like it?  I have a Yakima and the steep top tube angle on my new bike is jacking the rear too far in the air, I guess, because after a longer drive that end of the bike had come off its "perch" on the rack.  I guess the solution is one of those top tube extensions that goes between the seat post and stem/head tube, so the bike sits more horizontal in the rack.  But I'm kind of worried that it will jack with my dropper post.

 

The obvious solution I guess is to get a hitch installed and a hitch platform rack.  But I'm not sure how much longer I will have the car and it's just not fun spending $500-600 on a friggin bike rack.

It is a Saris.  I got it about 4 years ago for my road bikes, and it's really handy for that (while being pretty damn cheap).  It's not as good with the fat bike, as you can see in the pic it has pretty awkward positioning.  I can't put it on the rack closest to the vehicle, either.  I haven't had it come off the perch, or anything like that, but it's hard to shake the feeling that it's a precarious perch as you go down the road.

Since I've got the hitch, I might switch to a hitch platform rack, but for now it's getting the job done.

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1 minute ago, Al_4_ISU said:

It is a Saris.  I got it about 4 years ago for my road bikes, and it's really handy for that (while being pretty damn cheap).  It's not as good with the fat bike, as you can see in the pic it has pretty awkward positioning.  I can't put it on the rack closest to the vehicle, either.  I haven't had it come off the perch, or anything like that, but it's hard to shake the feeling that it's a precarious perch as you go down the road.

Since I've got the hitch, I might switch to a hitch platform rack, but for now it's getting the job done.

Yeah my hardtail doesn't have as steeply angled a top tube, kind of like your fat bike, but the new FS is a bit more extreme.

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Front wheel taco'ed maybe?  I don't generally get off on other's misfortunes, but this came up on my google feed and the noise and dust cloud just screamed shaggy, er, surly.  Plus the guy is quickly up.

 

For me it came with a little story where the guy is quoted something very much like "I love riding mountain bikes!  I'm just not very good at it."  And his "fucky chicken" there at the end.

 

Lulz.

Edited by TwiceHorn

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I amuse myself sometimes.  Today, I went on a ride on a very familiar, at least on my old bike, trail.  I took a loop that I haven't done in a while, one feature of which is a switchback followed by a steep, ledge descent (the ledge drops off to the right).  I thought I had somewhat mastered the new bike for turns such as the switchback, and possibly against my better judgment, said banzai and just took it. 

Not real fast mind you, but not stopping to review, either.  Negotiate the switchback fine, but am too far to the left coming out of it and am, at minimum, going to clip my bars on a small tree on the left, about six feet linearly into the descent, with a good 10 feet vertically to go

Uh oh, this could be bad.

 

So what do I do? Brake, no.  Overcorrect to the right, no. Grab the fucking tree with my left arm, yessss!  I manage to stop, stay upright and bike stays with me without either of us tumbling down the descent or flying off the ledge.  Guess I still need to work on my switchbacks.  Fuck.

Edited by TwiceHorn

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On 7/5/2018 at 3:52 PM, G650 said:

Early 90s Cannodale in great shape.

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Hoping to get my late 90s Peugot into "neighborhood shape."  I don't do any intense trail riding.  And I figure the weight savings on the modern bike could better be adjusted by my losing a few pounds.

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Ok, so after about 15 rides, I decide to take a harder look at my suspension settings.  Set up from the shop for about 200 lbs, 30% sag.  I check it, it's giving me probably 35%, maybe a little less.  Put on my shock pump and the psi is lower than one would expect for weight/sag (I'm guessing you just use this as a rule of thumb anyway).  So I pump it up to give me about 25% sag and same with fork.  Seems pretty even fore and aft bouncing, definitely less plush than before.  Then I get on the trail and realize my damping is pretty fast (bing dang ow), so I dial it back some. 

 

Sound like I'm more or less doing this right?

 

Even after stiffening it up, I can go longer faster than on my hardtail and it's just more comfortable, if not confidence inspiring.  I like the feel of the wide-ass bars riding in straight lines (that bs about "opening your chest" seems sorta valid), and even on turns, but they do give me the willies around tree gates or close-in trees.  It is also considerably twitchier than my hardtail, it seems.  Glad I went with the 29er, I think I would be off in the weeds on the reg with a 27.5.

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I'm not one to answer this question as I think hardtails are way superior, narrow flat bars are the only acceptable option, and 29ers suck.

 

That said, MTB suspension setup is a little more tricky than say a motocross bike. Getting sag correct is wildly variable between manufacturers and geometries. The main thing is not blowing through the stroke with too soft compression. Rebound depends on speed and terrain.

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I've never been very good at dialing in suspension. I just try to make sure I'm not bottoming it out while keeping it as plush as I can.
Also try to make sure rebound settings aren't pogoing me off the bike. I had that happen once coming off a drop at BCGB (that ledgy downhill above the quarry). I got launched way otb and was lucky to come out with just cuts, bruises, and a bent derailleur.
One of these days I really should have one of the local shops help me with the setup.

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5 minutes ago, KuЯdt said:

I've never been very good at dialing in suspension. I just try to make sure I'm not bottoming it out while keeping it as plush as I can.
Also try to make sure rebound settings aren't pogoing me off the bike. I had that happen once coming off a drop at BCGB (that ledgy downhill above the quarry). I got launched way otb and was lucky to come out with just cuts, bruises, and a bent derailleur.
One of these days I really should have one of the local shops help me with the setup.

I don't really know the first thing about it, obviously, beyond the theory.  I wasn't feeling any bottoming, but I'm not riding anything very vertical, yet.  I did notice that the oring on the shock was pushed waaay down, which kind of provoked me to look into it all.  And after stiffening it up considerably, without changing the rebound, I got a good object lesson in that when I got a seat enema on just a root.

I think the stiffening is helpful with my attempts at manualing and hopping.  It's easier to get the front wheel up.

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In general, most people run too soft of a compression on their suspension.

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So, with the new bike, I am experiencing some low speed steering twitchiness such that I feel somewhat out of control.  Sort of surprised, as I figured a slackish 29er would be super stable, which it is at speed.  I guess I didn't account for low speed riding.  I assume that I will get used to it.

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 Just stay on the gas, problem solved!

 

Yeah, wouldn't have thought that either.   Not because the geometry, but because the weight of the larger wheels should have a stronger gyroscopic effect and feel more stable.   I had a bike back in the day with REALLY light wheels/hubs...  made the bike feel twitchy and less stable.

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14 minutes ago, Loco said:

 Just stay on the gas, problem solved!

 

Yeah, wouldn't have thought that either.   Not because the geometry, but because the weight of the larger wheels should have a stronger gyroscopic effect and feel more stable.   I had a bike back in the day with REALLY light wheels/hubs...  made the bike feel twitchy and less stable.

Well, I'm coming from a 29, so that isn't different.  And it's low speed we're talking about, which is an all too common thing for me right now.  In the really slow tight and twisties, it doesn't bother me, but in transition, like a fast section to a switchback or a turn I can't lean easily, it gets a little hairy at times, and with self-induced speed bleed before a new (on this bike) obstacle or a tree gate I'm not sure I'll make it through.  Other than that, bike begs to be flogged and I'm enjoying it.  It's too damn hot though.

 

I read that slack geometry can cause wheel/bar flop with abrupt or sharp turning movements and I think that's what I am experiencing.  Others on some of the MTB sites confirm

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22 hours ago, TwiceHorn said:

So, with the new bike, I am experiencing some low speed steering twitchiness such that I feel somewhat out of control.  Sort of surprised, as I figured a slackish 29er would be super stable, which it is at speed.  I guess I didn't account for low speed riding.  I assume that I will get used to it.

Much ❤️, Twice, but sometimes, me thinks you overthink this shit.

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2 hours ago, Braff Zacklin said:

Much ❤️, Twice, but sometimes, me thinks you overthink this shit.

Of course I do.  It's a hobby, man, it if doesn't occupy some brainspace, it isn't worth doing.  And, driving at the heart of it, I have always been a mediocre athlete. because my brain is wired for thinking, not doing things un/subconsciously.  Plus, I am an engineer, so when a handling characteristic makes me feel foolish on the trail, my first question is WHY is this happening and try to approach the problem systematically.  I'm almost incapable of proceeding until I know what is the problem.

It's like fast-twitch slow-twitch, it's just the way it is/I am.

 

Plus, I ride alone most of the time and don't have anyone to talk to about this shit.  It has been pointed out to me elsewhere that what I am describing may be more properly called "floppy" steering, rather than twitchy.

Edited by TwiceHorn

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I finally caved and downloaded Strava.  And in a blinding glimpse of the obvious, determined that it sux ass.  Mainly because it quit on two consecutive rides.

 

Going back to open gps tracker, which records all the same information and never quits in my pocket.

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4 hours ago, Braff Zacklin said:

You can always import/upload your GPX (or whatever format) files to Strava.

This.

I use a Wahoo Bolt synced to Strava.

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Took another solid step forward this past week.  Finally getting to the point where I can anticipate and gear into the steep climbs, and really improving my body control so I can get up and start kissing my front tire right away in the climb.  Downhill technical control, and overall endurance with it have improved to where I can string together longer rides and feel in control of my bike at a point where a month or two ago I just didn't have the energy.  It's really getting fun.

This thread has been a great resource, so thanks again guys for all the tips, pointers, and advice.

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On 7/29/2018 at 1:47 PM, TwiceHorn said:

I finally caved and downloaded Strava.  And in a blinding glimpse of the obvious, determined that it sux ass.  Mainly because it quit on two consecutive rides.

 

Going back to open gps tracker, which records all the same information and never quits in my pocket.

I started using All Trails. It's great, at least the pro version.

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On 7/23/2018 at 10:30 AM, CooterBrown said:

Headed here in two weeks:

 

Gotta say, this place was AWESOME.  Spent 4 hours riding here.  They have about 1 1/2 miles of single track on the property. Honestly, I could've ridden it all day. It's a 1/2 climb which was very well designed with a bunch of switchbacks so it's pretty easy and then there's a couple of lines to bomb downhill for a mile. They also have a pump track and a skills course.  At the top of the hill, it connects to the Whitefish Trail which has about 20 miles of single track.  It was amazing riding on actual dirt with few rocks. So unlike Austin. There was a bear sighting the day before, so pack bear spray in the water bottle cage.  Turns out that the MTBer that was killed by a grizzly last year up there was a friend of my friends that live there.  My friend said that the bear was just reacting to being "attacked".  The biker had come over a jump and they estimated he hit the bear at over 25 MPH. He broke both wrists and collarbones from the impact.  If he had a lance, he would've won. 

 

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1 hour ago, CooterBrown said:

I started using All Trails. It's great, at least the pro version.

Does it show you actually on the trail using GPS?  That would be pretty cool. I still get kinda lost-ish on some of the poorly marked trails around here.

I guess because I'm not far removed from being a newb, and being an old, gaping vag, I really enjoy some flat, fast singletrack.

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