Video: Trail Boss – 3 Fingers at Carter Road, Florida

Trail Boss is a video series produced by Jeff Lenosky and documents his attempts to ride some of the most technical trails he can find. A veteran rider with a 20-year professional career and three Observed Trials U.S. National Championships to his name, Lenosky uses his skills to ride the unrideable. Check out all the Trail Boss videos here


Loyce E. Harpe Park, aka Carter Road, is located in central Florida and features bench-cut trails on “fingers” that jut out into alligator-infested waters. The trails at Carter Road are built and designed to be directional, but one day a week they run in reverse, adding an extra challenge.

Each “Finger” is about a third of a mile long, so this entire ride is only about one mile of steep, punchy climbs and big step-ups.

PLUS! Check out Jeff’s new how-to series. In this episode, learn how to tackle short, steep climbs like the ones found at Carter Road.

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Review: Club Ride Blaze Vest

Not all vests are created with riding in mind. From a company like Club Ride that blends lifestyle and riding, sometimes leaning a little too heavy to the lifestyle end of the spectrum, I was glad to see a piece that was more on the riding end while still keeping the off-the-bike nerd factor in check.

The Blaze features a simple, largely-windproof polyester woven rip-stop fabric with 80g/m synthetic insulation on the front and a mid-weight brushed polyester back panel. While the back is pretty breathable, if it gets wet it sort of stays wet so don’t wear a backpack with it. During a couple single digit overnighters this piece had a great in-the-sleeping-bag feel because the lack of down on the back and the stretchy back panel. I could twist and turn without it strangling my arms.

While the vest was first designed to be worn under a coat, I preferred to wear this vest with a long sleeve woolie or single base layer underneath. I tend to run a little on the warm side, so pairing it with a shell was overkill for anything above 10 degrees fahrenheit on the trails or 25 degrees on the road.

Unfortunately, during a mid-December ride in the single digits I went to unzip the small breast pocket and it just sort of unglued itself. After talking to Mike of Club Ride, he said this was an issue they had with some of the early samples and have since addressed with an improved bonding agent. While the defective vest was a fixable issue, Mike wanted to assure us that it was just an issue with the first few samples and sent the final production version. Fingers crossed but no issues yet.

While on the topic of zippers–this piece needs some zipper pull infusion. Like long dangly zipper pulls. I threaded a small section of shoelace through to solve this issue. But any apparel designed to be worn in cold weather ought to have a sizeable zipper pull. This also goes for the breast pocket. Because gloves.

The rear stash pockets tend to be a little bit droopy so be careful when stashing any items; I had a glove jump out on me and probably wouldn’t be to inclined to stash a phone or anything like that back there. Fortunately, for most phones without large cases, the front pocket has a media port (wired headphone thruway) if you ride with headphones.

As far as sizing goes, the Blaze vest seems to run was a little on the snug side. I went with an XL with the intent of wearing some heavier layers under it and was glad I did.

Overall, the vest held up just fine after three months of riding gravel, snow, and trails. While there are certainly more expensive mid-weight riding vests out there, this relatively light and compact vest is a great option. Owning a vest is like owning a shell–you probably only really need one so give this one a look if you like riding bikes and hanging out after.

Price: $90
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large (tested)

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Frostbike ’18: Riding the Minnesota River Bottoms with Surly Bikes

While my home in Pennsylvania was experiencing a February heat wave (temps in the 60s!), I woke up just before dawn on the first morning of Frostbike and looked at my phone to see that the temperature was exactly zero degrees. Part of me said that staying in bed an extra hour was a fine option, but I’d committed to riding bikes and I’m not one to back out.

Me and a few other media folks were meeting up with some folks from Surly Bikes to ride the Minnesota River Bottoms trail from our hotel to the QBP headquarters, a 16-mile, mostly-flat ride that parallels the river and passes through the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Surly outfitted us with the brand new Pugsley fat bike for the journey, also equipped with a studded front tire, which would prove to be an invaluable tool for the ride on which we were about to embark.

We gathered in the hotel lobby, donning layers, wondering if we would be warm enough. Zero degrees is cold, yes, but it’s amazing how quickly you warm up when you’re exerting yourself. The hardest part is keeping the hands and feet toasty.

Photo: Zach White

Bikes rolling, we first needed to get out of the maze that was the Mall of America where our hotel was located. Through a parking lot, up onto an elevated, enclosed pedestrian bridge, down a flight of stairs, through another few parking lots and down the street to a snow-covered trail packed solid from the use of countless runners and fellow fat bikers.

The trail took us through what in the thawed time of year is a marshy area, part of the National Wildlife Refuge. Groups of ducks floated on ponds and someone pointed out a Bald Eagle perched at the top of a tree looking over the Minnesota River. They didn’t seem to mind the cold. Meanwhile, my breath was freezing on the buff that covered my face and moisture droplets on my eyebrows were turning to ice.

We stopped under a bridge for a photo opp and one of the other media folks mentioned how fitting it was that we were hanging out under a bridge with Surly. Yes, indeed.

As we followed the river southwest, the winding trail got more and more icy, but the bikes did surprisingly well for only having one studded tire. But things still got a little sketchy, as the front would grip the ice around turns, while the back would slide out and it was easy to lose balance if you weren’t paying attention. But if you kept on your toes, the loosey-goosey rear end was a fun challenge and made a flat and relatively non-technical ride that much more exciting.

Speaking of the bikes… The new Surly Pugsley is pretty fun. The Moloko Bars that come stock on it take a little while to get used to, but put you in a really comfortable position for meandering, all-day rides. I never did ride the original Pugs so unfortunately, I don’t have a direct comparison, but for what it is intended to do – be a touring-style fat bike – Surly’s new design seems like it would do the job. It also does the job for riding twisty singletrack and sliding around icy turns on frigid winter days.

We could ride almost all the way to the QBP headquarters on the River Bottoms, with just a mile or two of paved road at the end to finish. Despite the brisk temps, it was the perfect start to the day, and the highlight of my Frostbike weekend. Thanks, Surly!

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Excerpt: An Interview with J Mascis

On a cool and rainy evening, a large orange tour bus hums outside of an 18th-century Catholic church that has been converted into a concert venue. Attached to the bus is a black utility trailer filled with T-shirts and music equipment and the general disrepair that a tightly packed space takes on after a months-long trip across the United States. As the side door opens, it reveals a cluster of bicycles neatly tucked in behind the merchandise and gear. “Hold this,” J Mascis remarks, handing me the keys as he rolls his bright-yellow Salsa Warbird out of the trailer. “I got a bell because I don’t yell.” The paint is fading from exposure to the sun and weather; there are scratches and scuffs from being stored in the trailer and locked to street signs; purple flat pedals contrast the color of the frame but also match Mascis’ hat and sweatshirt. A rear rack is attached to the seatpost, another small bag is attached to the top tube and the bar tape is fraying in spots; it’s the last night of the tour and both Mascis and his bike seem like they are ready for a break. We chat for a few more minutes about bikes and music while the misty rain creates a dusty shine on our sweatshirts. I say thank you and walk back to my car.

*****

Dirt Rag’s digital strategist and lead photographer, Brett Rothmeyer, got the chance to interview one of the idols of his youth, musician J Mascis, who is most well known for his work with the band Dinosaur Jr. Why do we at Dirt Rag care about J Mascis? Because he rides bikes – 50 to 100 miles per week! The full interview can be found in Dirt Rag issue 203, for sale on newsstands now. 

*****

Aren’t familiar with J Mascis? Start by checking out some of his music:

“Green Mind” (1991)

Probably Dinosaur Jr.’s most iconic record, housing classics like “Puke and Cry,” “Blowing It” and “Thumb,” this album is an easy gateway into the Mascis sound. 

“Tied to a Star” (2014)

Mascis’ most recent solo effort is a lighter, more thoughtful collection of songs compared to the heaviness of Dinosaur Jr. Mascis opts for a less-is-more approach to his solo recordings, ditching the massive Marshall stacks for an acoustic guitar. “Tied to a Star” is a perfect accompaniment to a rainy morning cup of coffee. “Every Morning” delivers a little of that Mascis guitar magic and “Wide Awake” gives you a taste of just how diverse a musician he is.

This is just a tiny sample of the Mascis catalog. With side projects like Witch, Sweet Apple,  and J Mascis + The Fog, there is a cornucopia of amazing music waiting for you.

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Video – “Beyond Trails: Atacama”

“Beyond Trails: Atacama” follows the ambitious human powered adventure of Lorraine Blancher and Robin Munshaw as they embark on a multi-day bikepacking expedition through unmapped trails and canyons in the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile.

The Atacama Desert, known to be the driest non-polar region on earth, is a barren and inhospitable place. As mountain bike explorers, the endless kilometers of natural ridgelines scattered with unmapped wild trails and historic salt trade routes created by earlier civilizations offered adventure and challenge beyond the confinement of traditional mountain bike trail networks.

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The Kona Satori returns- a mid-travel 29er trail bike for the masses

 

Remember Kona’s first 29er trail bike, the 130 mm Satori? Five years ago it was a solid first effort, with 68/74 head/seat angles, just over 17″ chainstays, and a long reach for the time. When the Process 111 hit the market, the Satori disappeared. Or maybe it disappeared before the 111? Does it really matter? The Process 111 isn’t in the Kona line up for 2018 either, so it looks like the Satori is winning this battle of  29er trail bike evolution.

The Satori slots in as a 29er version of the Hei Hei Trail, Kona’s 140 27.5 trail bike. Unlike the Hei Hei Trail, the Satori has an aluminum frame and a lower price tag.

The 2019 (!) (we have 11.4 months still to do, stop hurrying time along) Satori and Satori DL are once again 130mm trail bikes., but now with 140 mm forks. Geometry numbers are pretty expected for a bike like this, although the 23.8 top tube on the large seemed REALLY short for a modern bike. But the reach numbers are all in line with what I expected. The outlier? A 78.4 degree seat tube angle. Hey, if 76 was good on the new Process, 78 must be better? On the other end the head angle remains at 68 degrees, with almost seems steep these days. Chainstays drop to just below 17 inches at 16.9.

SIZE |S   |M   |L   |XL
STL  |14.6|16.5|18.5|20.9
TTL  |21.7|22.7|23.8|25.3
REACH|16.7|17.7|18.7|20.1
STACK|24.0|24.3|24.7|25.1
SO   |28.6|30.0|30.0|30.8
HTA  |68.0|68.0|68.0|68.0
HTL  |3.7 |4.1 |4.5 |4.9
STA  |78.4|78.4|78.3|78.3
CSL  |16.9|16.9|16.9|16.9
BBD  |1.1 |1.1 |1.1 |1.1
BBH  |13.3|13.3|13.3|13.3
WB   |45.0|46.1|47.3|48.8
FC   |28.1|29.3|30.4|31.9
FL   |21.7|21.7|21.7|21.7
OF   |2.0 |2.0 |2.0 |2.0

The Satori uses FUSE suspension platform from the Hei Hei lineup. FUSE uses a pivotless rear triangle to increase stiffness, reduce weight and decrease world-wide poverty levels. Both models have single ring drivetrains, dropper posts and decent brakes and tires.

Satori – $2,699

 

I’ll  let Kona talk about this bike for a bit:

Taking a cue from the Hei Hei Trail, the Satori is a longer-travel cross country bike wrapped in an affordable package. 29” wheels keep the Satori rolling fast over obstacles while a RockShox Recon Gold 140mm travel fork and RockShox 130mm custom tuned Solo Air rear shock keep the ride smooth. With Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and Deore drive train, and dropper post, you’ll have everything you need right out of the box.

  • Frame Material: Kona 6061 Aluminum Butted
  • Wheels: WTB STP i29 TCS 29”
  • Suspension Platform: Fuse
  • Front/Rear Suspension: 140mm/130mm
  • Rear Shock: RockShox Deluxe RL DebonAir Trunnion
  • Fork: RockShox Recon Gold RL Solo Air 140mm
  • Crankset: RaceFace Aeffect
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 10spd
  • Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic with 180mm front / 160 rear rotor
  • Seat Post: Trans-X Dropper Internal
  • Cockpit: Kona 35mm Bar/ Kona XC/BC 35 Stem with Kona Lock-on Key Grip
  • Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHF TR DUAL 29×2.3
  • Rear tire: Maxxis Tomahawk TR DUAL 29×2.3
  • Saddle: WTB Volt Sport SE

On more thing that caught my eye: the old Satori has a 10 speed drivetrain, but it had a double crank and an 11-36 cassette. This bike is 11-42 10-speed with a single ring.

Satori DL – $3,499

Again, from Kona:

If you love the feel of a 29er and the get-up-and-go of the racy Hei Hei Trail DL, the Satori DL is the perfect companion. With a custom drawn aluminum frame and FUSE rear end, the Satori was built from the ground up to ride like the wind. Featuring a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, RockShox Revelation fork and custom tuned Rockshox Deluxe RL Solo Air rear shock, the Satori DL has everything you need for big days in the saddle.

  • Frame Material: Kona 6061 Aluminum Butted
  • Wheels: WTB STP i29 TCS 29”
  • Suspension Platform: Fuse
  • Front/Rear Suspension: 140mm/130mm
  • Rear Shock: RockShox Deluxe RL DebonAir Trunnion
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RC Solo Air 140mm
  • Crankset: SRAM Descendant 6K
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX-Eagle 12spd
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide R with 180mm front / 160 rear rotor
  • Seat Post: RockShox Reverb w/Plunger Lever
  • Cockpit: Kona 35mm Bar/ Kona XC/BC 35 Stem with Kona Lock-on Key Grip
  • Front Tire: Maxxis Minion DHF TR DUAL 29×2.3
  • Rear tire: Maxxis Tomahawk TR DUAL 29×2.3
  • Saddle: WTB Volt Comp

Will the seat angle be too steep? Will the ghost of the Process 111 string up a wire across the trail to garrote you on your first ride on a new Satori? Stay tuned, we have a test bike en route.

 

 

In the meantime, check out the new bikes on Kona’s website. 

 

 

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Review: Ladies baselayers from Garneau and Pearl Izumi

We still have 1-2 more months of winter in the northern states. My dad resides in Yuma, Arizona and would call 40°’s winter, but whatever your cold tolerance is, baselayers can be a key component to enjoying the outdoors. Baselayers need to wick away moisture in cold temperatures and should be lightweight and fit snugly against your skin but not restrict movement.

Garneau Drytex 2004 Women’s Pants
Price: $40
Sizes available: XS-XXL (MD reviewed)

The Garneau Drytex 2004 Women’s Pants are lightweight with a 4-way stretchable peach skin fabric. What the heck is peach skin fabric?! The fabric has a fuzzy texture like the skin of a peach. The bottoms are moisture wicking, have an antibacterial treatment and feature a few reflective stripes.

The 1.5 inch elastic waistband is designed to stay up while being active. I’ll admit to having become a little schluppy this winter and found the elastic to be very snug and definitely not going anywhere. No matter if I was biking, jogging or hiking, under a mid-layer or under an outer layer, these did not fail me in warmth.

I like everything I own to be multi-useful. With base layers, I want to be able to wear mine as tights under a dress for quick changing after an activity or sleep in them if it’s too cold (or I am too lazy to change). They were almost to warm to sleep in, which isn’t a bad thing if I was camping in the cold. With the large branding on the lower right leg, I had to bust out the tall boots to make them work off the bike, but that also isn’t a deal breaker.

After 8 weeks of use and washing, the material has started to pill in the token wear spots: knees and arse. But there are no tears, no sweat sag and no reduction in warmth. They are high quality for a baselayer legging at $40. The Drytex 2004 pants are available in men’s and women’s cut and Garneau gets bonus points for going up to a XXL in both.

Pearl Izumi Women’s Transfer Wool Long Sleeve Cycling Baselayer
Price: $90
Sizes available: XS-L (MD reviewed)

This long sleeve baselayer is a Merino Wool and Polyester blend with moisture-wicking qualities. The material percent distribution varies throughout the top, with a micro-waffle type construction to help wick away those notorious sweat areas: back and under the arms. There is a more stretchable Lycra material along the back of the arm to the elbow for handlebar reaching without feeling like you are about to hulk out the back of your top.

There are thumb loops that are a simple stretchy loop with a 1/4 inch width that looks like it could be uncomfortable but felt fine even when wearing 3 layers of clothes. Pearl Izumi has this long sleeve baselayer rated at 20°-40° temperature and the top performed well in these temps. Even in the mid-teens, I was never concerned about my body temperature while being active. As a higher end baselayer top priced at $90, it got the job done well and looks and feels like it will last a few years of steady wear.

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Frostbike ’18: Bike and cockpit updates from Salsa Cycles

Salsa has traditionally been a leader in categories like fat and gravel bikes, but this year, a big goal for the brand is to become more competitive in its trail bike category. With that in mind, a focus for the brand recently has been refining its trail bike lineup as well as trying to bring price points lower without sacrificing quality in order to allow more people to have access to its bikes.

At Frostbike in Minneapolis this year, we met with Salsa’s Product Managers and Developers as they walked us through the 2018 lineup and what has changed.

The Deadwood, which launched last year as a 29plus short-travel full-suspension rig (see our review here), has gotten quite a few tweaks for 2018. Instead of 100 mm of travel up front, it’s now spec’d with a 120 mm front fork, while retaining 90 mm of travel in the rear. The axle to crown length on the front fork stays the same with the switch, so the geometry doesn’t change. Another spec update is 29 x 2.6 inch tires instead of 29 x 3.0, though the frame stays the same so it can still accommodate the wider meat if you so desire.

One more change to the Deadwood lineup is the addition of an aluminum-framed model, which comes in at $2799 with Shimano NX. 

Deadwood NX

Other small changes to the Salsa bike line-up for 2018 include a wider rim and tire combo on the Redpoint, Salsa’s 27.5 enduro-style bike (i35 rim with 2.5 inch Maxxis Minons), and a couple new colorways for the Timberjack and Woodsmoke.

Redpoint Carbon SLX
Woodsmoke NX
2018 Salsa Woodsmoke

Salsa Cockpit 

Salsa also introduced changes to its cockpit lineup, most notably carbon versions of all of its existing drop and flat bars. All bars now come in three different versions: Regular, Deluxe and Carbon.

The Deluxe bars use 7050-T6 series polished aluminum while the lower level regular bars use 6061-T6 bead blasted aluminum. In general, there’s about a $25-$30 price difference between the regular and Deluxe versions across the board for all the bar models. The Carbon drop bars are about 75 grams lighter than the aluminum and will set you back $215, while the Carbon flat bars come in at $140.

Salsa Cowchipper Carbon

Salsa’s drop bar lineup includes the Woodchipper, it’s distinctively-flared signature mountain drop bar; Cowbell, a relatively traditional drop bar; and the Cowchipper, which bridges the gap between the Cowbell and Woodchipper. On the flat bar side of things, the Salt Flat is a zero-rise bar designed more for endurance, cross-country and dirt touring, while the Rustler offers a 20 mm rise (15 mm on the Carbon version) and is designed to be ridden more aggressively. Changes to the flat bars for this year include an 800 mm width versus 760 in the past, so now both bars are offered in 750 and 800 mm options. The Salt Flat also got a wider 31.8 mm clamping section to mount aero bars and/or an Anything Cradle to the bars for endurance riding and touring. On the other hand, Salsa increased the stiffness of the Carbon Rustler by 15%.

Salsa Rustler Carbon

Salsa is also offering the Guide seatpost in all three versions, coming in at $95 for the Carbon, $65 for Deluxe and $50 for the regular Guide.

Check out more details, pricing and full specs on Salsa’s website.

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NAHBS: Day 2 Highlights

Fuzzy eyed and coffee charged, we lumbered our way to Day 2 of NAHBS. The myth of Jenga greatness welcomed our visitors to the Dirt Rag booth today. Young and old looked to achieve legendary status in the attempts to out-Jenga Dunk and Evan. Day 2 also brought the judges out and the inevitable winners of the weekend’s various categories. To be honest, we collectively missed the winners, amongst conversations of where the best pizza in town is and “is it really going to snow 29 inches tonight?” (currently, it’s well on its way), the call of the winners was a mumble in the background. Let us be honest, your favorite bike and my favorite bike are likely not the same, so in our eyes, everyone is a winner.

A personal favorite is the Sklar Bikes for Kitsbow. Trail geometry steel hardtail ripper with a beautiful paint scheme.

Perhaps the biggest winner of the day was not selected by the judges at all, but a young man who was selected by DeSalvo Cycles to have his dream bike built and shown at the show this weekend. As you can imagine the young gentleman was STOKED! and the bike was quite the eye catcher.

A Tomac inspired all-terrain ripper brought to life by DeSalvo Cycles

There was also a lot of love floating around the show today–from Bromances to families, we were all feeling warm and fuzzy. The snow is falling hard in Hartford right now, so some warm love will be welcomed for the third and final day at NAHBS tomorrow. Challenge us to a game of Jenga, if you dare!

Ultra-Bromance Billy + Benedict
Josh of Hi-Fitrix (23 of 39)trix (9 of 39)

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Frostbike ’18: All-City debuts Gorilla Monsoon “monster cross” bike

At this year’s Frostbike, an event held by Quality Bicycle Products to familiarize and showcase retailers and media with new products, All-City launched a monster cross style bike dubbed the Gorilla Monsoon.

All-City is mainly known for cross and urban bikes, though the brand has dabbled in the mountain category a little in the past and recently launched a 27plus hardtail, the Electric Queen. The Gorilla Monsoon pairs the brand’s cross background with mountain bike capabilities and mixes in just a tad of touring influence.

The Gorilla, as we’ll call it, sports cross bike geometry that is tweaked to optimize long days in the saddle. It also features three water bottle mounts on the frame, as well as rack and fender mounts and provisions for a front derailleur if you want to turn it into a dirt touring bike. The steel thru-axle frame will fit a 27.5 x 2.4 inch tire, or a 700 x 42 (it comes stock with the former). It has stealth dropper post routing too, though it doesn’t come stock with one. The frame comes with a matching steel fork.

The complete build comes equipped with a 1×11 SRAM Apex drivetrain (36t up front with 11-36 in the rear), Hayes CX Expert mechanical disc brakes, WTB rims and tires and the Salsa Cowchipper flared adventure drop bar.

All-City describes this bike as a “do it all dirt solution” for touring, connecting gravel with singletrack or just going out and having fun without wanting to be limited by your bike. Call it a monster cross bike or a drop-bar MTB, the Gorilla Monsoon seems like a versatile and fun ride, with a head-turning paint job to boot.

More info can be found on the All-City website.

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