Sunday, April 13, 2014

Carver Gnarvester First Ride Impressions

I have been riding and racing single-speeds for a number of years now. I have made podiums on both 26" and 29" single-speeds. Lately work, family and life in general has gotten complicated so I decided to take a break from racing and focus more on just enjoying riding. So, out goes the 18.8lb Niner One9 an in comes the Carver Gnarvester. For those of you unfamiliar, it is basically a Krampus, but the frame is constructed of space age, helium infused, fairy dust sprinkled titanium...rather than the lead that is used for a Krampus frame. This gave me the ability to build a 21.8 pound 29+ bike, quite a difference from the 28-30lb Krampus' running around.

'The' Carver Gnarvester

My first ride was fantastic. I carpooled with the retired, super-riding couple, Randy and Karen out Sly Park where we rode Fleming Meadows, then Jenkinson Lake, then Fleming Meadows again (the opposite way). Overall 25+ miles with 3700'+. Not a bad day on a new bike.
The overall performance was just what I was hoping for. But to read about the good and bad, just visit this thread on MTBR where I noted the good and bad.

Gnarvester stands out in a crowd.

I have owned many bikes since I fell in love with mountainbiking (here they are in order):
Motobecane Fantom Team (FS), Soul Cycles Hooligan (26" SS) in green, then white, Misfit Dissent (SS), Trek Superfly (SS),Niner One9 (SS), Niner SIR9 (1x9, SS now 1x9 again). Finally, the Carver Gnarvester. I think that the final two bikes will be mainstays in my stable. The SIR9 is just so smooth and versatile and the Gnarvester is just a blast to ride and is a real head turner.

For road bikes, I am set with my Fuji Cross and Motobecane Ti Cross. Yes, my main road bike and mountain bike are both Titanium.
Not too fat, not too skinny...talking about the Gnarvester

The only way I will change my stable now is if Niner comes out with a new TIT9 (Titanium Is Tremendous)...only that will cause me to give up the Green Machine that I have grown fond of.
So, the SIR9 will be my long distance bike that will get me up major climbs thanks to proper gearing, and the Gnarvester will be my go-to bike for most rides and most trails as it is just plain fun.
I am already looking forward to the next ride.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

One Bike To Rule Them All!

My new Carver Gnarvester just may be that bike. I first got the idea for this bike from cool guy in NC, Jason from Back Alley Bikes. He had this blog post about making the brand new (at the time) Krampus Knard tires tubeless. I thought to myself, "Self, that Krampus seems like a cool ride. And if it is as cool as people make it out to be, soon more frames will come, lighter frames, and when they do, build one up tubeless for a light weight gnar shredding machine!". Yeah, pretty sure the thoughts in my head were just like that.
Let's admit it. Surly builds frames out of lead. Their standard Gnarvester is between 28 and 30 pounds (SS or geared depending). I knew that with a lighter frame, tubeless wheels and select parts, I could have a 29+ closer to 23 pounds, which was about the weight of my first few single-speeds (both 26 and 29").
Enter the Carver Gnarvester frame. When I first read about it on mtbr, I knew this was the one I had been waiting for. I though I would buy a piece at a time. One here, one there, until it was ready to be built...maybe in the Fall. Then I remembered that my name is James Haskins and I have no patience for such things. I quickly stripped down my One9, sold off the frame, wheelset and select parts, and then began purchasing parts.
The key was finding these DT Swiss hubs used. Next came the frame, rims and cranks. Most of the other parts I already had for one of my other two bikes (the aforementioned One9 or my SIR9 wich is now a 1x9).
So here is the parts list for my amazing 21.8 lb Carver Gnarvester:

Frame: Ti Carver Gnarvester (17")
Fork: Carver XC470
Cranks: Race Race Next SL 1x
Chainring: RF NW 30t
Cog: Endless Kick-ass cog 20t
Cockpit: Thomson Masterpiece/X4
Brakes: XT
Rotors: Alligator serrated
Bar: Carver Ti 730mm
Ends: Ritchey WCS
Hubs: DTS 240's (R 142x12, Fr QR)
Rims: Light-Bicycle Hookless carbon 35mm DH
Spokes: DTS Aerolites (alloy nips)
Tires: Surly Knards 120tpi
Chain: SRAM 850
Ritchey pro saddle
pedals: Wellgo something or others
Grips: black/grey ESI Chunky
Cage: King

Took this baby for a short test ride and 'Holy Smokes'! It is something else. The real test ride comes tomorrow. So stay tuned as the next post will be the 1st ride impression. Can't wait!


Friday, February 28, 2014

It's Like Gnarvester Christmas!

Thanks to the magic of 'tracking', I knew my frame was going to arrive on Tuesday. Still, when I got home I was like Ralphie rushing to check the mail for my decoder ring. I drug my box out to the deck and (carefully) tore it open, and this is what I found:

Now if only those rims would arrive (due late next week), I will get this beast built and start shredding the gnar with my Gnarvester!

Here are some tags in case someone is looking for this type of bike on-line:
Carver Gnarvester Titanium 29er+ fat bike almost-a-fatbike 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

From 26 to 29 to 29+

O.k. so having two single-speeds might make sense to other single-speed specific riders out there, but to most it's just crazy talk. I find living here in NorCal, some trails really are better off ridden with gears (especially in the sandy crushed granite of Tahoe).
I can't afford a new bike outright so...
  • Do I get rid of the SIR9 or the One9?
  • IF I get rid of the SIR9, because the One9 is a SS only frame, the new bike will have gears.
  • IF I get rid of the One9, the SIR 9 could be geared and the new bike a SS.

Why keep the One9? It is much lighter than the SIR at ~18.8lbs. The bike has seen the podium in a number of races, most recent being a 3rd place finish at the Coolest 24hr.

Why keep the SIR9? It can be run either SS or geared. The steel frame and fork provide a noticeably more comfortable ride over the One9. I can get more money for the One 9 (especially the I-9 wheel set).

Decision? Good-bye One9. You have served me well, and I will never forget you, but don't fret, most of your parts will get good use on my new frame.

The 29+ Titanium Carver Gnarvester. Gonna build up a light-weight, big tired, rollin' machine!Yeah Baby!!!

photo from

Monday, February 17, 2014

Getting Back Into It

News Flash:
  • When you are in your 40's it is easier to gain weight and harder to loose it.
  • When you are in your 40's, taking several weeks off of riding causes you to loose strength, endurance and speed. It takes maybe twice as long to get it back. Add a 15lb weight gain and it makes it that much harder.
  • Duh!
Finally, starting to drop some weight and finally starting to feel stronger on the bike. About time as I am way behind last years pace with some big events coming up quick.

Been riding Hidden Falls and Auburn, and though missing some time while sick, I have finally started getting on the trainer once a week and that in itself makes a huge difference (physically and mentally).
Starting to feel really motivated again...maybe all I need to push myself over the top is a new bike???

 One of my favorite places to ride, Hidden Falls. Over 20 miles of looping single-track with rolling elevation only ~10 kilometers from home. The longest sustained climb is the steady one mile switchback climb up to the parking lot. Other than that, there are several decent climbs but none more than a kilometer and only a couple that make your heart and lungs hate you  (Deer Trail and Turtle Pond).

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...Just Not In That Order

Everyone wants 'The Bad' first: Getting injured AND getting employed has put a cramp in my conditioning. I was in the mid 160's for the Coolest 24hr Race. Just four months later I have gained back all the weight I had lost and find myself back to being in the mid-180's.

'The Ugly' reared it's head on a training ride as I try to get back into shape after being off the bike for several weeks nursing my knee injury. On a short, slow, easy ride at Hidden Falls, with a bunch of weekend warriors I hit bottom. I did not feel great in the morning (GI issues) but was excited about getting back on the bike so off I went. The ride was going o.k. but I started feeling hot and fatigued though it was not really hot and I had only ridden maybe 9 miles. We came to the toughest climb in the park (Deer Trail), a steep gravel/dirt road that goes up maybe .6 miles or so. I have two of the fastest times on this section including a surprising strava KOM. There would be no trophies today however. I began plotting up the hill, slowly. I was suffering. less than 3/4 the way up I had to dismount and start to walk. I just did not have anything. After a minute or so I sat down and tried to drink but instead ended up projectile vomiting whatever was in my stomach (mostly gatorade). So, I was not processing any liquids. Great.
Ultimately I ended up cutting the ride short, but on the last climb up to the parking lot (another former KOM, now 2nd out of 226) I ended up having to walk and ended up with more, violent, projectile vomiting in front of a family with two kids. I apologized as they walked by, rode past them, dismounted and hurled some more...and apologized again.
I feel fortunate to have made it home dehydrated and feeling half-dead. Cest la vie

The Good is that I have ridden several times since then, with the last two or three rides feeling stronger and the legs recovering better and better. I do still have all that weight to lose, but work is hosting a biggest loser amongst the employees this January. So I will just focus on riding and eating and hold off loosing weight until I can win something! Now if that is not being the biggest loser, I don't know what is.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Let It Snow, Let it Snow, Let Us Ride!

Yes, Snow in Auburn. Seems like as good a time as any to test out the cold weather gear. Mikey and I set out with thoughts of riding the whole enchilada (or at least to FHDL) but with the thick snow and mud that we eventually ran into (not to mention the freezing temps) we only made it through less than half of the connector trail before turning back. I will say that having a SS did make for a challenging ride in the snow, though the 2.35 Nobby Nic tires with ~18psi rolled and gripped surprisingly well.
The best part of the ride? My knee felt fine, my toes and fingers did not freeze, the scenery was amazing and I was able to ride the two miles up a slick stagecoach trail with no problems at the end of the ride. Note that due to conditions, it took almost as long to get down stagecoach as it took to get up. Yes, starting to get my legs if only I can get my waist back. :p