Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tagged -- Here it Is...

A while back, Jason from the Gnat Likes Bikes blog tagged me and well, at long last, here is my response. My sincere apologies for the delay. Life has it's way of gettin' in the way sometimes...

If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be?
It would be a titanium version of the Salsa El Mariachi 29 inch wheel mountain bike. I’ve been thinking about the viability of a ti version of Salsa’s new Fargo adventure touring frame a lot too, but I think that in the end, the El Mariachi would win out.

Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not?
I have two steel El Mariachis now, and consider these words my initial plea for such a frame.

Do you already have any coveted dream bikes?
I find your use of the word “covet” interesting, because I was raised to not covet things.

The bikes I value most have a springy, responsive, compliant, absorbent ride quality that disappears under the rider, yet is at the same time engaging and inspiring to interact with.

In my life, some of my favorite bikes I’ve owned include the Bontrager Ti Lite and Race, which I still have in my collection, and my rigid green Salsa El Mariachi singlespeed 29er, which sits next to me as I type this. Another Salsa, the La Cruz disc-specific steel cyclocrosser is on my favorite bikes list too. It is perhaps the fastest, most versatile bike I’ve ever ridden. Believe it or not, the 2004 Klein Palomino, the 26-inch full suspension bike with a Maverick rear end, makes it onto the list too. It was an amazing bike.

Two of my current favorites -- my '08 El Mariachi and my '07 Dos Niner.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have owned and sold so many dream bikes, but I realized about four years ago, when I sold the pristine green, white and pink fade 1990 Klein Team Attitude that that I had supposedly purchased “for life,” that I am not the bicycle collector in our social group. I have friends that are way better at it than I am, like Nate Woodman, Mark Janike and Dave Chase, and while I appreciate what those guys are doing, and the iron they are collecting for the history it preserves, I simply don’t have the time, space or patience to do it myself. Thank God for those guys.

If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

What is this, a commie conspiracy!? Just kidding… You didn’t specify dirt or pavement, so I’m going to choose dirt, and believe it or not, if it weren’t for the two-way traffic, I could ride Wilderness Park every day for the rest of my life. Heck yeah! I love riding in that park. It’s pretty much where I learned how to ride a mountain bike and I’ll ride there for as long as I’m in Lincoln. When it comes to railing high-speed corners, it’s tops in my book.

Wanna' rip through Wilderness? I knew you did... Photo: Ortiz (sorry for the delayed credit, buddy)

What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride for the rest of her / his life?

… A sick individual.

Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrow minded?
I typically ride mountain and ‘cross bikes – I don’t currently have a road bike built up. Hopefully with all of Salsa’s new road bike offerings coming down the pike, that’ll change soon!

Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent?

Back in my shop days, I test rode various recumbents we got in at Cycle Works, but I’ve never spent a great deal of time on one. It would take an injury that forced me off of a standard bicycle to ride a recumbent. I don’t have anything against recumbents. Far from it, in fact. I admire their grace and efficiency. That said, I prefer to ride dirt, and the weight distribution of most recumbents is less than ideal for stellar handling on gravel and dirt. Ripping singletrack? Not on a recumbent. And that’s what’ll keep me off of one more than anything.

Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss?

Nope on both of these. I’m not a good swimmer, and that’s being nice.

Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why?

That’s not a world I’d want to live in… but since you asked, it’d be ice cream. I like bikes.

What hobby or passion could pull you or overtake your love of bikes if given enough time, money or resources and support from your significant other?

Aviation. It would be the realization of my dream of flight. They aren’t as far apart as you might think… Remember the Wright brothers?

What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it...

...Do you think the ability to have a support crew and base camp, and presence of the larger “community” at 24 hour, lap-type races, like the 24 Hours of Moab or any of the other 24s, make them more or less appealing to participate in than point-to-point (or big-loop) type races, like TransRockies, Trans Iowa or the Dirty Kanza 200, that don’t have support or a base camp?

This is something I thought a lot about recently as I rode at the 24 Hours of Seven Oaks. On one hand, I was riding these incredible trails, and they were manicured especially for us. I guarantee nobody got them in better condition than we did all season. That said, I rode the same trails fifteen times. 15 times! That’s a lot. But it was all singletrack, so that’s a definite check in the plus column.

From a sponsor’s perspective, I can see how the lap-type 24s are appealing too. They’re packaged well. They aren’t out there in the middle of nowhere. And the crowd/community aspect of it is awesome too. In Iowa this past weekend, it was especially true. The camaraderie among riders was super strong and guys would be hollering for eachother even in the wee morning hours.

With point-to-point races, whether off-road or on gravel roads, the “middle of nowhere” feeling is definitely present and accounted for. From a racer’s perspective, if you’re the master of your domain in these races, it’s an empowering experience. These are the types of rides I love to do, so it stands to reason that these are the types of races I’d love to do. But it’s all about balance, and I think that if I can work a little of them all into my schedule, I’d be good to go. I know I can’t do that many solo-24s in a season – it just isn’t that realistic, so I’ve got to find something else to fill the time. ;-) The necessity of self-sufficiency and the focus on adventure are the aspects of point-to-point races that have strong appeal to me.


GNAT said...

Yummm....A ti El Mariachi. Sign me up too!

MG said...

Man, wouldn't it be sweet?!! I just got a Moots ti seatpost today for my red El Mariachi, actually. It's about as close as you can get to the ride of ti without actually having the Ti frame...

Thanks Jason,

Jason said...

Funny, MY ultimate would be Ti Dos Niner. There are Ti softails out there, but as of now they are worth about THREE Dos Niners. So I guess I'll stick with what works for now. ;)

Guitar Ted said...

Titanium: I guess I am non-plussed. I rode a titanium hardtail at Interbike last year and to me it felt like a steel rig- a good steel rig, but a steel rig all the same. So, titanium doesn't do much for me. It just never enters my mind to want one.

Now steel on the other hand.......

mw said...

i constructed and test rode a sweet recumbent tandem towards the end of my career at the shop. they owner asked me to outfit it with the parts i would outfit it if it was my own. i did. it was sweet but reasonable. it would kick ass to tour with the wifey on one. i didn't spend alot of time on it. but it seemed like it would rock for the above stated purposes.

MG said...

A ti Dos certainly would be a super sweet ride, no doubt. It'd be a lifetime investment, but it'd probably cost like a lifetime investment as well. Doing drawn titanium flat stays wouldn't be inexpensive to do, and I know Salsa wouldn't do a second-rate job on it. Either that or they'd have to redesign it to make it more ti-manufacturing-friendly, because I doubt they'd just do round tubes.

I'd ride one...

Guitar Ted, I could see that, for you, perhaps a well-built steel bike might be a better choice anyway from a ride quality standpoint. To built a Ti bike that would be stiff enough under your massive power might not ride much differently. But for my spindly legs, I can take a nice springy ti frame that is ultra sweet riding... a distinct level of springiness over what you can durably achieve with steel. Also at a weight that you can't touch with steel... but can easily with alloy or Scandium, but not with quite the same ride quality perhaps, but at a better cost-to-weight ratio however.

You see, it gets complicated... I should've been an engineer.

Steve Fuller said...

Mmmmm.... bikes. I might have room for one more here in the garage, but I think the wife will put her foot down after that. Gonna almost have to be a Fargo just to keep me from wanting anything else at this point.

MG, good "unasked" question. Lap races present certain challenges, and events like the TI present their own challenges. An XC / 24 hour type event at a place like Boone gives you multiple opportunities to get the course right. 15 times over the same log or barrier, and you're gonna learn something. Having the crowd there to cheer you on at regular intervals is good. OTOH, it's a bit like the movie Groundhog Day. The same thing over and over, with the big difference being how tired or injured you are at any particular point. If you know the course, it can become a bit automatic. To me, this type of event is more of a physical challenge.

A longer event like TI, DK or GDR is a completely different animal. You have one pass over a particular section of the course. You pick your line and you deal with the consequences. You're by yourself a lot (at least if you're in my part of the pack), and that means a lot of time to think. I found parts of my mind and psyche that I don't particularly want to find again during DK. The long events are more difficult mentally than they are physically.

That said, I like 'em both.

MG said...

I totally agree with you Steve. I do like them both, for totally different reasons. The 12/24 races are all about community, even when you're racing solo, you're still a part of it. You still know stuff is going on around you. In some ways it's a bummer when you're riding because you see all these campfires and all these people cracking beers and cooking up steaks, and you can't be a part of that crowd... It's a bit depressing at times. In some ways I hope to be able to experience that someday. I know my good friend Dave Chase just did that at Moab for the first time and really enjoyed it, so perhaps I'll have to try it. Shit I don't know? I'm too competitive...

But even up front, in a race like the Kanza' or T.I., you're alone alot. It's just a part of the deal and while I do enjoy that to a certain extent, I can only handle it in measured doses. This season just about maxed me out. I'm longing for singletrack... I'm ready for the Fargo, simply because it's trail-ready, so it'll be just off-road bent enough for me to be able to rip it with a bit fatter tires than i could on the La Cruz, and that'll be the difference for me. Where for many, the La Cruz is enough around here, I want something that can run a 52-55mm tire with clearance.

GNAT said...

I'll take one of each.



La Cruz.


Oh wait......

MG said...

Cue the Van Hagar... 'Cuz that's what dreams are made of, good buddy.

A ti Fargo? Oh yeah. You'd have do make it out of big main frame pipes and chainstays to be stiff enough under a load (with flattened center sections of course to smooth out the ride a bit), but man, you could do it. Put some relatively svelte, slightly swept seatstays on it... That'd be the ultimate long-haul adventurer if otherwise set up like a current steel Fargo in terms of geometry and fittings.

That'd skate onto my "dream bike" list immediately, no doubt. It just did, in fact. We just dreamt it up...

MG said...

And a Ti La Cruz... Can you say, "ultimate Dirty Kanza 200 bike?" I can. Because that would be it.

For those racing at TransIowa, it would be "the one" as well, but for those doing it as more of a dirt road randonneur, I think the Fargo might be a better choice, simply because you can do the full fat tire and get the cushy ride going. That said, I just fit a 700x40 Michelin TransWorld Sprint into my La Cruz, tubeless, and at 30psi it's a plush fast roller. Heavy yes, but plush and fast too.