More drop bar MTB info

Here are the geo charts for my Thunder Comp and the Double Cross Disc.

Top tube delta is 51mm so I went with a 50mm shorter stem. This seems to be working really well but I’ve also noticed this is probably helped along by the fact that the bars are 5cm+ higher on the TC. They’re also 46cm wide whereas I usually ride a 38cm on my road bike. I think the additional width will be a huge help downhill and on the rough stuff. Narrower bars just don’t feel great off-road to me anymore.

I’m really happy with the bike and excited to race it on gravel but it’s obvious I’d be better on a medium. My testing over at the Cox building’s dirt walking trail showed a high propensity to washout the front wheel under aggressive cornering. I’m just too far back and can’t really do much to weight the front wheel more as my pedaling position is ideal. I’m going to experiment with braking and try to see if that helps. But really this is going to be a non issue for my racing as the corner is generally not where I’m having problems.

Atlanta Sucks

Although I guess it should be “Atlanta Metro Sucks” but the attitude is the same all over the metro area and the city as well. I’ve previously mentioned how much of a barrier the Chattahoochee can be when trying to move around the near northside metro and it’s always bugged me that Johnson Ferry east of the river is awesome, wide sidewalks and a bike lane but as soon as you cross the county line at the river there’s no cycling accommodations. Really sucks because the alternatives are far and steep. Saw this post in a city data thread and just had to sigh and shake my head. If it’s not petty racism limiting infrastructure and creating a mess of surface street routing it’s political infighting limiting the goodwill that can be created between different road uses. This place sucks.


Drop bar MTB thoughts

Previously I was using a 110mm stem with flat bars, went with a 60mm stem for the drop bars. Everything feels pretty good on gravel and dirt. I was getting some front wheel washout at speed but I think that may be just learning the bike and body position required. The gravel was pretty sandy and loose as well.

I’m going to experiment with single-track later this week and see how it goes there. I’m pretty excited for the late summer gravel season. I think this will be really fun to ride.

I still need to tweak some things, in line adjusters for the derailleurs and maybe an extender for the rear brake and I’ll be set. I’d like to adjust the chainrings as they’re less than ideal at 42/32 right now but that may not be in the budget.

Cedartown – canceled

ugh broke my crankarm at the pedal eye at 5:15am and just couldn’t ever recover. I was able to ride back to my car without any real issues. Felt funny as the pedal spindle wasn’t square but it didn’t break apart so that was nice. Then I spent about 4 hours driving. First to my mom’s for a replacement crank and then to my apartment to install and then back to Cartersville to try to salvage my ride. Should have just given up and called it a day. Couldn’t find my center after I restarted, it was hot and bright and windy and the terrain was just not working for me. It was too flat and the hills that were on the route just came without rhythm. There was a road closed detour and my rear derailleur wasn’t working on account of changing my freehub the night before. So basically a crap ride but I had the attitude to match.

Still better than not riding.

Grand Bois Hetres Review

Hetres despise the flatlands. They will fight you every inch if the road is straight and flat. Your pedal strokes will disappear into nothingness and each ride will be an eternity. Pump them too hard and they will flat at every opportunity. They’ll tell you what they want.

Less pressure. Ok just a little bit less.

They crave elevation, rolling hills and steep switchbacks they shine on. Take them to the top of any mountain and they will give you everything they have and more on the way down. Twists and turns warm their blood and give them life.

Lean your bike.


Lean your bike.

There is almost endless grip as you descend. The rough hand of gravity taking you by the throat.

They will change you as a rider. Group rides, everyone will stare but no one will ask about them. Surely you’ll be dropped soon.

Off-chamber hundred and twenty degree turn, asphalt cracked and broken coming up at speed? Bare your teeth as you feel the group hesitate and slow as you fling yourself forward, throwing yourself into the turn, snapping around the corner in a way that others cannot match with their pencil thin rubbers.

You will feel the tires grip, throttling the pavement into submission. They will lead the way for you, absorbing as much as they can, a floating carpet of speed and agility.

If you ride long enough and far enough they’ll start talking to you.

go check out that singletrack

is that a rock garden

take a right there’s a dirt shortcut with some tech

You can go anywhere and you can go there fast. Skinny tires are great if you’re competing against other humans. These tires are the ones you want if what what you’re fighting is bigger than that.


Some more 650b thoughts

It occurred to me on my ride last Saturday that I’m actually just a tourist who doesn’t like to camp. If I made a little more money I would spend every weekend just riding around staying in hotels and exploring. Quite a blow to my self-image as a privateer road/track/mtb racer.

Just needs a huge rear rack and some panniers.
Anyway, was messing with Veloviewer and thought this data was interesting. The GTR is a regular aluminum racing-style 700c road bike, aero wheels and 25/26 tires. The DC D 650b is a disc brake steel cross bike with 650×42 tires. Both were wearing fenders and I weighed about the same and rode about the same level of exertion on both. Interesting that the GTR just kicks ass on long rides with a lot of climbing. To even break 16 miles per hour on 650b I need to keep the ft/mile under 50.


Of course, I’m ignoring the blatant differences but I think they’re just noise. While I was pondering this earlier on my walk it occurred to me that if I wanted to really test this I should just take the DC D 650b and swap in the 700c disc wheelset I have, ride around on 25/26 tires for a while and see what the data says. My next thought:

“But then I’d have to ride around on skinny tires and avoid gravel/dirt/singletrack, stop routing myself into the middle of nowhere and lose the ability to jump curbs, ride off road to avoid traffic and abandon the dgaf style that the 650b tires afford.”

Oh man I’m way down the fat tire rabbit hole. I’ve been seriously considering trying out the 26″ Rat Trap Pass tires. I don’t even have a good reason, just seems like the fatter tires would ride better.

Which is exactly what a fucking tourist would say.

Sugar Valley

0 – 4:45am it’s dark, a bright orange moon hangs low on the horizon and I have just started my ride with a u-turn to get back on course after missing turn #1. I am in good spirits, I have attached a headlamp to my cambelbak strap so that my cuesheet is illuminated with a soft red glow. Heading north through the darkness I tense at a variety of noises just off the road. Rustling, barking and cracking of twigs give me a pep in my step and I make good time. Coming to an unmarked intersection I realize I have taken a wrong turn and headed south instead of north. The early morning wakeup has left me confused I decide, instead of backtracking I find a parallel road and steel myself for the extra miles. After riding for a few minutes I take my phone back out and check the map again. I am on the right road after all! I was foiled by the compass functionality of the mapping software that attempts to determine your facing point instead of displaying the map oriented north. I relax and scoot up the next rise with a smile.

16 – 5:45am I’m in Calhoun looking at the stores and thinking about how dumb it was to shave the night before. My helmet strap is irritating my neck and I stop to apply some ointment near a park. A few photos and I’m off, stopping again to photograph some display armored vehicles. So far the roads have been wide and low traffic, I’m enjoying the dawn lights and excited to climb. I can see so far and the foothills are so interesting to look at. This is going to be a good ride, I think to myself.

32 – 6:45am and I am in the woods tending to some personal issues. After a few minutes I feel much better and start the first climb of the day. John’s Mountain is steep and has a few switchbacks that spice things up. I feel good for most of the climb but have some issues with shifting between my 32 and 26 cogs. I power through and take in the amazing view at the top. The descent is exciting with a fast hairpin and swooping straightaway. Back on level ground I refill my water at the checking station and head north on the rolling flats of the wildlife management area.

48 – 7:45am The second climb of the day starts with an exploded cooler on the side of the road. The bottles spread about are all sealed so I help myself to a bottle of water and a Gatorade, only to quickly discard the latter as I am unsure of the shelf life after it’s been outside in the sun and heat for an ndeterminate time. The 136 climb is mild and I take it at a moderate pace. The descent is fast with only one turn, I pedal hard all the way down, getting quite a rise at the feeling of the wind in my face.

64 – 8:45am 151 is a flat, 55 mph roadway but it seems ok since traffic is fairly light. Lots of foothills to look at and interesting homes on wide parcels set back from the road. I ride this section fast since it’s fairly flat, thrumming along in the big ring and smaller cogs the miles go quickly. The last climb of the day is brutal. I struggle to stay on top of my 32 as my body becomes a runaway furnace and sweat pours from every patch of skin. Finally I summit and take the descent in style. I pass two riders at the bottom and once again head north on the flat roads. Funny to note the markers for an organized century still mark the road. I wonder when was this ride? The two riders I passed earlier roll up behind me as I stop to check my route and photograph some hawks riding the thermals high above. I have a hard time articulating where I am going since I just have a cue sheet and did not study this section of my route very closely. The lead rider waves me to follow and we take off. We talk a little about the riding, they are down from Chattanooga, only about 20-25 miles away. I mention where I’ve been riding today and then the River Gorge Road Race I did in 2013. We make conversation until my turn, I bid them a good ride and head east, soon to be turning towards home.

70 – 9:45am I stop at a firestation to adjust my front fender. A loud keening sound grabs my attention and I see a small furball curled in the doorway, soaking up the sun. My heart patters and I dismount my bike and approach. The kitten springs into action and runs across the street. I walk a little closer and sit down. Curiosity piqued he returns quickly and spends several minutes meowing and rubbing all over me. I try to feed him and give him water but he just wants pets and rubs. My heart breaks as I tell him I have to go, he scampers with me for a few steps before I pedal away. I feel bad. But I’m well past the halfway point and heading home. I stop at a park and refill my water and wash my hands and face. I feel much better and get back on the road. As I head south the wind is really blowing, a hot dry air pushes against my efforts and threatens to grind down my mood even more. I see a text from my girlfriend about the cat and feel a little better, then I find some steve madden sunglasses on the side of the road and really start to brighten up. Free stuff is a serious mood elevator.

86 – 10:45pm Back on 136, it’s flat and fast but the wind is serious. 10 miles pass, some mildly interesting scenery but the wind and heat is wearing me out. I miss a turn but it’s ok I just keep going. I ride through the staging area for the Georgia Road Race Champs I also raced in 2016. Funny that this is the ride I realized I was actually just a tourist who hates camping. My foot aches from all the flat riding and but I am back on track and still heading south.

102 – 11:45pm Still heading south, foot hurts, very hot and very windy. This is the most trying section. I feel like I am making poor time and cannot find a rhythm. My last caffeine gel did nothing. I am deflated. The hot water in my bottles does not diminish the heat. It’s hot and I feel terrible.

118 – 12:45pm I am very close. Old 141 runs parallel to the current highway 41 but while the latter is pan flat the former winds up and down. It’s a funny thing to see; at least it is now as I’m writing this. At the time I wanted to cry. I open the bottle of water I took from the side of the road all those hours ago. It is the last arrow I have in my quiver but it will get me home. The last turn on Cedar Creek is salvation. I am rejuvenated and the last 5 miles fly by. I love everything and am so hot and so tired but also so happy.

129 – 1:45pm? I am done. Excited for chocolate milk and sub sandwiches.