Sunday, September 28, 2014

Converting Road (Cross) Bike to Flat Bar

Now that I am living only 5 miles from work, there is NO excuse not to ride..but I have a couple anyway. 1. The final approach to my house is a .3 mile 15-17% grade that is a monster. It use to be that when I could finally ride up the hill, my legs were destroyed for two to three days after. 2. I hate riding that damn road bike. I have never felt comfortable on the road bike (hence why I mtb so much), and part of it is I hate those darn curved bars. My hands always hurt on them, my back (which never hurts on endurance mtb rides) bothers me and even my knee...Stupid young bike shop guy tells me I need a new *carbon* bike and need it sized for me. Yeah and he would love to show me some that start at $2500 to $3500 all with worse components than I already have. Instead I decided to make my road bike feel as much as possible like my mountain bikes. Then end result was easy, and very inexpensive considering the price I sold my Ultegra brake/shifters nearly covered the entire cost. Now, I freakin' love this bike. It feels amazing, I have more control, no more pain of any type while riding or climbing.
This was so successful, I have already purchased the parts to convert my old bike that sits on the trainer. No more curved bars for me!


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Clearly, converting this cross bike to a flat bar was the right decision. Went on a flat 40+ mile ride (that involved a coffee stop, and was able to pull the pace line for a long stretch at ~23mph. I never used those stupid drops anyway, so this switch is all positive.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Excuses For Not Riding

I have not ridden my mountain bike (other than a few 8-13 mile rides with my kids) in nearly 6 weeks. How does this happen. I use to be hard-core. Now I am soft-core (literally and figuratively).
Summer arrives, I knock out a big ride at Hole in the Ground (near Tahoe, for those not in the know) and then...nothing. So here are my excuses:
1. It is Summer and I am on daddy day care duty every day.
2. I had several house projects, including replacing my entire plumbing system from street to every source in the house (and adding plumbing for a new outdoor shower, utility sink in the garage and a future 1/2 bath in the basement).
3. Injury. When using the trencher, I overworked my arms and literally had trouble sleeping and using my arms for nearly two weeks.
4. It was/is bloody hot, even in the evening (going soft, I know).
5. Lack of motivation. I need a goal.  I have always had races or events to prepare for. Last year I was training for PMBAR and the Coolest 24. I did what needed to be done to be prepared, including riding the trainer when I could not be out on the bike. With no race/event planned, motivation has waned. I NEED to sign up for an event!

Me shortly if I don't start riding soon (not that far off now).
There you have it. This all changes this week as I get back on the bike and see how much I have actually lost. Also, Teaching starts soon and I plan on riding my bike 2-3 days a week. I should loose weight and get in shape just in time for the holidays...where I will predictably over eat and gain weight.
And the cycle continues. ;)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gnarvester: Two Month Ride Report

O.k., now I have ridden this beast on the following trails: Hidden Falls, Auburn (everything including Ruck-a-Chucky), Granite Bay, Fleming Meadows/Sly Park, El Dorado Hills trails, Nevada City (Scott's Flat, Pioneer, Round Mountain and more); also short (<15 miles) in Chico and Mendocino. This bike rocks! I think it is the Ultimate Single Speed (for me) as it rolls fast, is uber comfortable, and climbs much better than one would think (given the heavy tires). Going to Hole in the Ground soon and will report on that ride after the fact.

Also, a big shout-out to Carver bikes. I was having major squeaking issues with my Thomson Masterpiece post. He acknowledged that the seat tube on some of the bikes was enlarged and sent me a matching Ti post...for free! Nice! I was such a happy customer I have since purchased two more Ti bars (for my wife's bike, aka the back up bike, and one for my road bike conversion...more on that later) as well as purchasing some other small items. Service like that will keep me coming back to check before anyone else.

As mentioned earlier, the next big ride will be Hole in the Ground out near Donner/Truckee. While I have ridden some technical trails, this will be the biggest test yet. My number one fear (other than major injury) is that I will somehow crash and destroy the carbon fork or rims...barring that kind of disaster, this ride should be fantastic!

Cruising along Round Mountain

Chillin' along the trail (waiting for others) ;)

Hallelujah! Nevada City = Fun!

This park ranger cutie was so impressed with the Gnarvester AND it's rider that she insisted on a pic.
  Darn Ping had to photo-bomb us! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Carver Gnarvester: One Month Ride Report

Love it! I have now ridden this beast all over Auburn, Nevada City, Folsom Lake, Jenkinson Lake/Fleming Meadows and even some trails in Mendocino. Rides ranging from as short as 12 miles to big rides as long as 42 miles. Love, love, love it.
The good: It is fast. Much faster than you would think given the big, heavy tires. Maybe those tires are what makes it descend better than any other rigid mtb I have ridden. The bike can rail most corners and is solid on loose, rocky climbs. Speaking of climbs, this bike is the Big Billy Goat Gruff. Sure, the wheels are bigger than most, but that does not stop this machine from easily navigating steep fire roads to fun switchbacks on short climbs to those ranging in the 2-4+ mile range with not once making the rider consider such topic as 'rotational mass' or 'drag'.

The bad: The rear drive side cable-stay rubs on my right calf when I descend. When standing on my pedals, I like to have my left foot forward and my right foot back. This has caused some blood loss on my right leg so that I now have that stay wrapped up to prevent further damage. When I have some time off, I will take it to a Ti specialist and have it removed. I am going to notify Carver and discuss this and my warranty. I am sure it will be cool.
Other negatives: The 3 inch Knards grip great on most surfaces, but sand is a wipeout waiting to happen. rather than cut through the sand like a narrower tire, or float over like a fat tire, these tires grip to the top layer of sand, then slide out as that sand moves. Very treacherous and a few near wipeouts. The same issue with mud. The tires want to slide with the top layer of loose mud and prove very unstable. I am hoping to have better luck with either the newly arriving Surly Dirt Wizard or the Maxxis Chronicle.  The Gnarvester with tire options is exciting indeed!

Regardless, I have finally built, what is for me, the ultimate single speed bike and plan to enjoy many, many more miles on this beast.

Snuck into the video on a recent 'Epic' ride in Nevada City. Good times!

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

Carver Gnarvester: 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 Surly Krampus 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).