A Note from Fatty: My friends at Twin Six have just kicked off their October Four-Day Sale, with jerseys at $45 and t-shirts at $15. Those are killer prices, so now might be a good time for you to stock up on your next-year’s riding gear. Click here to go to Twin Six now.
People who are strictly interested in road riding may not relate to this post. And people who are all about the dirt — and nothing but the dirt — won’t get it, either.
Those of you who — like me — love road and mountain biking equally, on the other hand, are about to become very, very jealous.
Whenever I go road riding and I see an MTB trail that intersects the road, my mind wanders up that trail a bit. I have, hundreds (thousands?) of times thought to myself, “I’d like to string together pieces of my favorite road and mountain bike rides.”
I should also mention that I’ve talked to my friend Matt Chester about this dream (Disclosure: I maintain Matt’s website, such as it is. He likes to keep it (and everything else) simple): a bike that was reasonable on the road, but that was also capable on singletrack.
So Matt built me this:
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce my MonsterCross. It’s a Titanium dinglespeed (I’ll explain that in a second) cyclocross bike with extra tire clearance for bigger tires, cantilever brakes and On-One Midge drop bars.
So last Saturday, I got on my new MonsterCross and took it for a ride. I figured a combination of the Alpine Loop road and Ridge Trail dirt network would be a good place to get acquainted.
Start on Road
A “dinglespeed” is like a singlespeed, but with two sets of gears. There’s no derailleur or tensioner involved, so you still have the “direct drive” connectedness that I like so much, but you do have two front rings and two cogs in the back. You change which set of gears you’re going to use by stopping, getting out a wrench, moving the chain onto the higher or lower gearset, pull the wheel back to tension the chain, and then tighten the wheel again.
It takes a few minutes, but the effect is worth it: you get a singlespeed feel, while being able to get around on either the road or dirt.
Since I’d be riding about ten miles before I touched dirt, I started with the bigger gearset: 36 x 16. It’s a good compromise gear; I can ride on the flat without spinning out right away, but I can still climb even the steepest parts of the Alpine Loop — albeit with plenty of standing, rocking, and grunting.
I managed to snap a picture while riding. This is just after Pine Hollow, for locals who care:
Oh, by the way, the temperature was 70 degrees, and the colors are starting to change. In other words, it wasn’t a half-bad day to be on the mountain.
Switch to Dirt
After several miles of road climbing and congratulating myself on picking the best day of the year to be on in American Fork Canyon, I came to my first singletrack turnoff.
A few minutes with the wrench and I went from this…
Now, instead of a 36 x 16, I was riding a 34 x 18 — a good (though fairly steep) gear for mountain biking.
Time to hit the trail:
Not too shabby-looking, is it?
The Real Reason for this Post
One of the greatest mysteries in the world to me is why people stop mountain biking when Autumn arrives. It is — at least here — by far the best time to ride. It’s cooler, the trail is usually in better shape, and the view is remarkable.
I gloated these thoughts to myself — much as I am to you, now — as I rode sIingletrack to the top of the Alpine Loop.
From there, I continued — still on singletrack — down toward South Fork Deer Creek.
And here — while trying to take a picture of the changing Aspens — I accidentally got a really good shot of the Midge bars.
And then I was back on road again, now climbing back up to the Summit of the Alpine Loop. It’s a steep enough climb that I didn’t switch back to my “road” gearing. Luckily for me, I had an OK view to keep me company.
Here’s a shot I took while riding my bike up the pavement (these are all raw photos, by the way; I haven’t touched them with PhotoShop or anything else):
And here’s another.
Oh, have I mentioned this is the ride I do starting from my house? Just thought I’d rub that in a little.
Back at the top of the Alpine Loop, I rode singletrack downhill to Pine Hollow. Which means I was riding this:
And looking at this:
The view could be worse.
From there, I was back on pavement, with a long downhill back to the mouth of the canyon. And then a few miles back to my house.
In conclusion, the MonsterCross is a success, and I live in a road/mountain bike lover’s paradise.
And I now command each and every one of you to envy me.