Juice v. Monkey

A review I’ve been meaning to do for a while, and the more straight and mindless sections of my 2 hour ride today let me consolidate the data; always tricky saying things like this in a way others will find accessible.

The background: two plus years ago I bought a Cdale cross bike from a friend, in preparation for a move back to Iowa for M to finish school. I thought it would be a great gravel road bike, and it was. Adding crosstop levers, and fiddling with the gearing, got me started on the bike tinkering path. 19 months ago I bought a used Gunnar Rockhound, converted into a SS. I messed around with it, replacing low quality parts with better stuff as they broke. It ended up as a rigid SS with and Eno hub and cheap alu fork. Great stuff, I’ve learned a ton riding that thing.

This fall, I wanted discs, more tire clearance, and big wheels. Steel and track ends had me picking between Juice and Monkey, and I went Juice, with a Salsa fork. The cockpit was shorter than I wanted, and the thing always felt odd, but I rode and liked it until a crack developed in the seat stay/tube weld, and I got a Monkey frameset as a replacement (the longer TT necessitated a shorter stem, more spacers, and steerer I’d cut off). In summation, the Monkey is a much better bike, a little less compliant though it may be. The whole experience has also led to question just what “compliant” means in an un-suspended world.

In the interest of objectivity, I should note that the components on both rigs, while somewhat transitory, were the same long enough to give a good comparision. Both had Midge bars, SS or 1×3/4 gears, flat pedals. Same range of tires

TT a good 1/2″ shorter than spec, ergo a long (35 degree by 13 cm) stem. Chainstays a good bit longer than the monkey. Tubeset, and fork, supposedly a bit higher end. Dropped TT.

40 degree, 10.5 cm stem, 1 cm more of spacers. It felt “intuitive” from the start in a way the Soma never did. Partly because the TT is exactly that of the Gunnar, but part I think falls into the gray area of bike zen.

-My new test for compliance is riding on washboard no-handed, watching the front end rebound. The Monkey does this less, seeming to pivot around the fork crown. The Juice pivoted around a spot 3″ behind the headtube. Has this made much difference in riding, either comfort or tracking? No. Tires and psi are much more noticeable.

-The Juice always wanted to flop sideways in the front during low speed climbing. The Monkey never has. Part me learning to ride the wheels and bars, part the bad cockpit of the Juice. The wrong numbers bug me, one of many cases that point to Soma’s less than attentive QC.

-The Monkey does not feel as “nimble” and quick to turn as the Gunnar in the driveway, but this trait is not at all noticeable on the trail. On the contrary, big wheels ride through switchbacks and rocks with calm. The Juice was constantly off on tricky handling, though with the aforementioned stability. Again, cockpit.

-The read tire of the Juice never stuck as well as I wanted it to on climbs, especially full-on out of the saddle. No matter what tire. Monkey solved this instantly, first climb of first ride. Short chainstays, baby.

-Tire clearance is equivalent, yet different. The bend in the chainstays is identical, but the Monkey’s is further back. Ergo, wheels all the way forward, the Juice wins, but halfway back in the dropouts and it’s a wash. All the way forward, a Weirwolf on a WTB Speeddisc trail doesn’t have too much breathing room, but works fine.

-Skidmark brown is a kickass color. I love brown, and it sparkles in the sun in a very root beer way.

-The Juice’s seattube bottle mount (18″) is only usable with the tiniest of bottles, a lame issues easily fixable. It’s seatstay bridge is also needlessly close to the tire, creating shitty mud issues.

-Juice has much more standover. Not an issue for long-legged short-torso’d me, but those of the opposing persuasion could well have issues with the Surly.

The Juice was good, the Monkey I’ve seriously bonded with. Greater than the sum of it’s parts, all things come together and the bike goes away. Beautiful.

3 the new 1?

Part of this weekends plans:

I’m finally crawling out of my shell and heading down south to ride some of the extensive trails in the Phoenix area. I’ve never even seen “the valley” in daylight, and am scared of it. Too big, too hot. The high for Sunday down there is 70! Won’t have to worry about the cold!

Cold is part of the reason I’m here, bailed on riding up to work to grade papers (which I’m doing, multitasking and all). I also wanted to make up for last night. After wolfing down some tasty steak burritos of my own creation, I fell into a mindless TV trance, and then wandered aimlessly for a while and fell asleep. It’s the change in physical activity in the last few weeks, my body NEEDS sleep, and kicks me in the ass if I try to mess with it. Hopefully, especially as it keeps getting lighter and thus easier to wake up early, I’ll get back in the farmer’s schedule of sleeping 9-5. I love being awake early, but darkness makes that significantly more difficult.

I’ve also been committing the sin of covetousness and cliche by reconsidering my gearing. The latest iteration has been a dingle, 30:20 and 34:16, switching manually by loosening the rear hub. I’m not satisfied however. I miss the ease and versatility of the old 1×3, so I might go back to it after SSAZ next month (sorry you had to read this here, M). Being able to shift for the road or the mountain without stopping is nice, and I also worry about my unprotected 34 ring with all the rocks in this here state.

The plan: 34 and bash up front (need a new bash), 16.20.25 in the rear (would need a 25t endless cog).

A random lurker on MTBR pm’d me during a bashguard search this summer that Blackspire will make a 94 bcd lexan guard in the esoteric “5th bolt behind crankarm” pattern that my Suginos use. I like the 5 bolts and low Q-factor of the Suginos, so I’ll me inquiring about that guard. I ended up with a thin alu Spot guard, which does the job and fits easily, but tends to stick and bite on logs rather than sliding. A bare ring and chain actually works better in this respect, plus clearing larger piles in my prefered slow, finesse mode requires a distinct off-camber weighting of the bb area to get over. So I want plastic.

I’ve also been sold on the fat Surly cogs. Super quality and value. I used old, separated cassettes for my previous experiments, and they cut into my (steel) Hope hub unless pinned together with the spacers, which was tricky and limited options. With the above idea, my numbers would be:

34:16 61.9″ road gear
34:20 49.5″ hard SS gear
34:25 39.6″ easy SS gear

Yes the road gear could be taller, yes the easy gear could be easier. Two observations about having few gears (for me): it still rides like a SS, plus I like to spin things a bit. Also, with too low a gear (I had a 30:28 for a while) you end up with a gear that is too tough to spin, and too easy to stand and push.

All this will, besides a bit more extraneous cash, require changing my category for TransIowa! No!!!!!! I think to a certain extent the “pure” SS is internal peer pressure on my part, and rather silly. I’m still a one-bike guy, and this setup gives more versatility while maintaining the SS simplicity and riding style, which I like.

All hypothetical for the next couple weeks, anyway.

PS: We now have an updated Firefox, which auto-alerts when I misspell things. Annoying as hell, with it’s little red line, but my spelling has always been dicey and this is great enforcement.

My ears hurt

M is indulging in some snide, pomo cultural experience right this second: watching American Idol. It’s really, really bad. I find it enormously discouraging that such a deliberately public display of idiocy and embarrassment is so popular. We are all a part of this monster.

On the other side, I rolled out 90 quality minutes running this afternoon, and my legs feel golden. Very encouraging. Another month of foot and bike base-building, through the recovery from the Red Hot, then intensity work pushing through March and the Rim Ride. The overarching concern is to balance intensity and dedication with fun, and be conservative enough to not get hurt, fitting it all into the race schedule. All good thus far.

Last running day until next week.

This saturday M has traffic school (my fault, and a story for another time), so I’ll be pulling AM driving duty to Flag, then hitting up 4 hours at the nordic center. Sunday is the Quadruple Bypass down in Phoenix; my first trip down south not involving the airport. Should be an excellent day out with the big crew.

On to the politics: the SOTU was quite pedestrian, an inversion of last year’s with some smooth talking thrown in for the start. Jim Webb’s response, however, brought down the house:

“Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions [social stratification and the robber barons]. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves “as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.” And he did something about it.

As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. “When comes the end?” asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.”

As Mark Shields said, “a star was born.”

Terse, eloquent in a simple way, blunt, unlaundered and unafraid. I can only hope that the dems run a campaign that way. Richardson/Obama, baby.

On a final note, demonstrating on just how much of a nerd I am, I couldn’t help but tear up last night. Pelosi is a majestic figure, and witnessing a woman sitting behind the president during the SOTU for the first time in over two centuries is fantastic. I do feel guilty, but I just don’t like Hilary that much.

Looks like I’ll be fitting a new chain and fitting the monkey for the weekend tomorrow. Over and out.

In the groove.

Big day today, I’m getting the life/sports oriented words out of the way before the State of the Union. Though before I do, I should mention that my students read the ’06 SOTU today. Aside from some conspiracy theories and mangling of big words, it went over very well for such a long document.

After running errands, I got in a 40 minute easy trail run, shaking the last kinks out of my legs and back. I went out and back on 305, dodging the melting snow. On the return I slipped truly into the zone for the first time in a while, and the miles went away. True mark, I have no memories of the last kliks. It felt good.

I can feel my body starting to change. I’ve always been a bit on the thin side, yet simultaneously not at all lean. Dropping below the base line of body fat takes a lot of work, and it’s a good sign that it’s beginning to happen. Now I have to remember that I’ll start getting colder sooner and easier.

Mr. Nice has a little event going on this fall, cruise over to the Cellar and take a look.

Now: 1554 and the small screen.


State of the Union tomorrow night folks, Shrubie may not be the best public speaker (or speaker of any kind) but he has improved and constitutionally required rituals are always a hoot. That, and it’ll be illuminated by the predawn of the most promising slate of presidential candidates in my lifetime.

Legs are sore today, but not too bad. Chaos at work and other assorted minutia, not so appreciated. Off to sleep.

Lamentation and Loneliness

Before we get to the fun stuff, and this weekend was a truly excellent one, I should say that I hate being lonely. This need not be synonymous with being alone, I can get along quite well with myself and have been profoundly lonely in a some of the loudest rooms of my life. But I’ve never found finding friends to be particularly easy, and my dad dying when I was 11 did not assist that. And when I find one pole, as this weekend, I tend to find the other.

Alas for Meredith that she gets to put up with me, but she got the phone call last night, and helped me feel much better. Asking her to marry me is still the smartest single things I’ve done.

The other pole was meeting three nice folks who share a few of my more esoteric interests. I forgot that between Moab and Mexican Hat is a substantial chunk of Utah, and rolled into the Mineral lot a bit before 11. Killing the lights still woke up Chris and Dave, and I met two very perky heads sticky out of sleeping bags. I fell asleep quickly. It was fortunate that their alarms died, as I spent twenty minutes in my bag doing remedial stove-pump maintenance so I could make tea and ramen (true breakfast of champions). Cooking in the truck was a brilliant idea, and my feet were nice and toasty when we got off on the road.

The Green River doesn’t get this frozen too often.

To make a long story shortish, “Ranger Bob” got sneaky on us. My opinion is that he saw our tire tracks in the snow and rushed down a route through the cliffs below the visitor center to cut us off. Not very friendly; yes he could’ve been liable for “allowing” us to continue, but I find it hard to not interpret his dedication as assholish in the first degree. So, I produced my pass and ID (ALL of which he copied down), and back through the snow we went. According to Harris’s report, we may have had a rough time of it, but twenty minutes earlier and we would have had him. The price of a hot breakfast…

After we got back to the cars, it took Mr. Nice a while to get back, and when he did he had the sputtering-crab action going. Seen that before, not so good. Feed ’em and beat ’em, they taught in WFR. For new friends, I commit the special courtesy of not using sticks. Once Mr. Nice was able to put a few sentences together, we stuffed him in a sleeping bag and headed off into the warming day. The snow faded rapidly going down Mineral towards the switchbacks, and Mr. Nice would later confirm my assertion that it’s hills are excellent mimics of Iowa’s. I’ll definitely be having another crack at the White Rim this winter.

The worst event of the weekend was still to come: lunch. Isabella’s pizza, by far the best in town, was no more. Combined with the Moab Diner being closed for remodeling, and I was almost unable to fulfill my function as knowledgeable expatriot. We did have Zac’s, which is……Zac’s; this a feat of necessity. We also managed to eventually find the south end of the Sovereign singletrack, which may well have provided the highlight of the day.

The kind of riding where you must stop if you want a drink of water. Brilliant. Looking forward to the Rim Ride.

The technological aspect of bikes has fascinating social implications. Somewhat like climbing gear, and I’ve yet to trail run with enough people to know if they check each others shoes out. Yesterday with each encounter the obligatory questions and looks: what gear, tires, brakes? Are they like dogs, and rapidly evolve to look like their masters? Yesterday seemed to bear that out.

So, Chris and Dave are itching to get off; purpose is hard to not follow when you have been thwarted, and I was astounded that Dave recovered his energy so quickly and well. So I retreat to the Motel 6, call Meredith, and managed to thoroughly loose myself watching reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation. One of my favorites when I was 10. There’s a very good reason we don’t have cable (why Meredith is watching a dreadfully mellowdramatic Jane Eyre on Masterpiece Theatre right now).

Up at 5, back asleep, up for good at 6. Denny’s is the only place open, and it seems that Dave Harris had a similar evening and morning after his White Rim sortie. The first person I ever met first on the net and then “for real” was a climber; I drove to Denver from Iowa and crashed on his couch, met him that morning. Then we went aid climbing in the Fischer’s. The net has proven consistent since, outdoor folks are almost always good people, especially over coffee and too many calories.

Then Dave was off for home, and the gut bomb and I were off running on Poison Spider. About the hardest I’ve ever worked for 12 minute miles, and felt damn good after three hours of them. The Red Hot next month isn’t going to be fast, but I’ll do fine, and am very much looking forward to a day out in that terrain. I’m predicting between 8 and 830 for the race.

All that was left was rehab and the trip home. A fat latte can do wonders, and Kayenta is like visiting another country, yet more disconcerting because you’re supposed to be in your own. More on that later.

If you made it this far, good on ya; and good night.

Too much fun

Just received a notice in the mail from our illustrious YMCA, announcing a marathon (and the associated half, 1ok, blah blah…) on May 5th. The course is very cool, an out and back with only 10 total miles of pavement, the rest on FS roads A good solid climb up, back down, and back again. Problem, its the weekend after Transiowa. We shall see.

Here we go again…..!

From the Canyonlands “information” online service:

…I’m not in a very good position to inform or advise you. There is snow in shaded areas here in town, but open areas are presently clear and dry….Overall you’d do best by speaking with the staff in the Island in the Sky, and doing so by phone…

Good luck, of course, getting hold of an actual person on the number they provided.

Elevation in Moab: 4.1k
Elevation at the top of the Shafer Trail: 5.8k
Elevation at bottom of Shafer Trail: 4.5k
Elevation of Murphy’s Hogback: 5.3k

We’ll be fiiinne this Saturday. It’ll give a good excuse to walk up from Mineral, too.

And so it begins….

15 minutes

A friend from college is being interviewed at some point tomorrow by Rolling Stone on “crazy college stories,” and has requested contributions. I am not putting specifics up here, just the highlight reel that flashed through my head:

-naked track bikes on an indoor basketball at 0200 (not me)
-pneumatic potato canon (my old roommate, has an engineering degree now)
-setting the side of the brick building on fire with everclear (that was my idea)
-bagel fights
-being chased off the tops of various campus buildings by security (and the many variations perpetrated by climbing gear in the closet, miraculous I got noticed as rarely as I did)

Everything else was just time in the library, and quite boring. I’ll have to write about climbing club parties at great length some day.

“These are days, to remember….”

A good day

Not much more to say about it.

The aforementioned morning commute seemed fun once my feet stopped aching, the ride home went fine. Got some good stuff done at work, especially with a couple students who are close to finishing some of their courses of study (for a given subject). Have to rewrite some exams tomorrow. The evening run was excellent, got some good intense vertical, up and down, in for just over an hour.

This afternoon also reminded me of how much I love trail running, probably even more than cycling when all the chips are down. This year I intend to jump fully into the fray of building back up to a good level of running endurance.

Now dinner, and sleep.