Friday Group Ride #380

Friday Group Ride #380

It was hot in New England this last week. September has been more like June, and for me, that means I’m riding one of two drop bar bikes I own. One is a straight ahead road bike with 25mm tires and road pedals, that I use to go-fast-or-get-mildly-fatigued-trying. The other is a mixed-terrain bike with 32mm file treads and mountain pedals that I commute on and, when I can manage it, escape for rambles with my friends on the weekends. Very occasionally, I ride my mountain bike, but really only when a friend specifically suggests riding mountain bikes. My default on most single track would still be to ride the mixed-terrain bike.

This is no judgement on my mountain bike or mountain biking generally, a side of the sport I feel more and more drawn to as I get older. The stoke-to-effort ratio (S2E) for most mountain bike rides is better than the road riding I do, mainly because I don’t have the time to devote to long road rides, and anyway, I get tired of all the roadie rituals around body grooming, attire, creams, paceline etiquette, etc. I can do all those things, but I often don’t really want to. I don’t want to say that road riding is too pretentious, but I do want to say that it can be.

Still, it surprised me the other day when I descended to the basement and pulled the mountain bike out for my commute. Why would I commute on a fat tire bike, notwithstanding the fact that I can rope in about a mile of trail on my way to work? Pushing big rubber down paved roads is a bummer.

But something shifted in my mind. The path less traveled. West of Jesus. Bigfoot walks among us. Ya know? No. Me neither. But I’m just trying to follow my front wheel and see where it leads.

I went shopping for studded 27.5″ tires and mountain bike fenders, such as they are. I’m thinking the mountain bike is the bike of choice for a while.

This week’s Group Ride asks, do you switch primary bikes at a certain time of year? And what is the milestone or signal for you to switch over? Is it weather related? Event related? Friend related? Or is it completely random?

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  1. harris

    I think for me it is completely random. I have a few different bikes, road and mixed surface/cross – couple each. I can say that I ride more mixed surface in late fall through early spring, but I hit it in summer also; late spring to early fall, mostly road. I can also say that I generally ride one bike for a while, and then set it down and pick another one up. I think I like the rediscovery of a bike (getting the fit tuned back in, trying it with a different saddle, maybe swapping out road v. mountain pedals, or tire widths) and figuring out why I liked it to begin with, or pulling back old memories or something. Being able to swap out what I have and rediscover it keeps me from really wanting any new bike, but more interested in the small bits that can improve on them.

  2. Kimball

    Here in the Pacific NW during the summer I move between several bikes, but sometime between now and mid October the rains will come and I’ll put 28’s and fenders on my all-road bike and pretty much only ride it until late spring. Its pretty amazing how much drier (and cleaner) you stay with full fenders and mud-flaps.

  3. Fausto

    When the rock salt goes down for the first snow of the year the good bike is put away for the winter bike. Switch the carbon our for steel, 11 speed for 9 speed and slap the fenders on.

    1. DMo

      Yep, salting the roads is the first signal for me, as well. Though I switch to a Specialized aluminum single-speed cyclocross bike. I really enjoy the switch. Single-speed means I have to work hills differently and tend to progress through more aggressive gearing over the winter. It’s also cheap and a breeze to clean. Snap on fenders if I expect company.

  4. scott g.

    This time of year I set up a bike for night riding,
    SON hub with B&Ms best up front. And a large assortment
    of tail lights. I lead a night ride for the club over winter,
    you get to see the stars and confuse the cars.
    A night group ride looks like Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind
    from a distance.

    The winter weekend bike gets a big french style bar bag
    for the extra clothes and glove collection.

  5. AG

    Random. Living in SoCal I don’t need to follow any seasonal reasons to switch bikes. Our off road trails can be just as, if not more strenuous than any road riding, so switching between one to the other isn’t really about fitness either. For the past 5 years at least (hard to remember such details any farther back) I have been 75% road and 25% mountain bike. But sometimes something emotional happens. I can’t explain why, but right now I don’t even look at my road bike. Everything about it seems a bit ridiculous…dealing with cars, grooming, matching the kit, hand signals, road etiquette, cars (did I mention the cars?), etc. So I’m hitting the fire roads and trails and loving it. I know that the switch will happen again someday and I will be kitting up in lycra. But for now, I’m wearing baggies on the dirt.

  6. Aar

    I finally became “a guy with 2 bikes” this year. The”old” one’s a Specialized Roubaix SL3. The new one’s a Specialized Tarmac “SL5” (not at all into the SL6’s aesthetics, rushed to get an SL5 before they disappeared). I know, huge difference between the Roubaix and Tarmac, right? (sarcasm) The wheels are not significantly different and both roll on S-Works Cotton 25mm rubber. Identical saddle, bars, stems and components. Believe it or not, the Tarmac’s 0.5 lbs heavier.

    Actually the stem on the Tarmac is 5mm shorter with spacers under it and the Roubaix’s stem is very slammed to achieve identical positions. Even with identical fit and builds, the ride and performance is remarkably different in exactly the ways you would expect if you know the intents of each bike. I suppose 2 generations of design and 5-6 years of wear on the endurance bike amplify the differences but what do I know?

    Most of the time, one will live on the trainer while the other’s on the road. My intent is for the Roubaix to be on road in winter and for flat-ish rides over 3 hours on rougher roads. The Tarmac should be on the road in summer, for shorter, faster, hillier rides on smoother pavement. For adjustment between seasons, I expect to use the rule of “crud on the road”. When the leaves fall, the Roubaix comes out to play. When the potholes get patched, the Tarmec lets loose. I hope I can build the calluses necessary to endure the Tarmac for a century with 10K feet of climbing by August. We’ll see…

  7. Andy

    I work as a school Principal which really only serves as an admission of the need to relieve stress and to find a way to maintain a level of fitness. My riding season is cut short early due to the number of initial late nights with between sports, concerts, and open house events. My transition is really between any one of my bikes and my trainer. The mid-week trainer sessions allow me to stay in shape enough for a quick weekend ride on the road or in the woods. Lately, I’ve found myself gravitating to dirt roads due to the increased number of distracted drivers in my area (the northeast) but that has become more of a year round challenge.

  8. Michael

    Well, November to March and sometimes April, the woods are not passable – even a dry period leaves them icy or muddy and riding damages the trails. So, I ride a big-tire road bike or my commuter then. April – October, it is somewhat like AG. I go on tears for weeks or even months of doing one type of riding, and then switch. Other years, I mix it up every ride between road, cross, and men bikes. In Ireland this year with the big-tire road bike, so am thinking it will get some fenders (mud guards) soon. I have a commuter bike here – a well-used really heavy, step-through frame that ends up getting me out to ride on really bad days, just to go for half an hour to a pub I have wanted to stop into, or a specialty store with something to surprise my wife with. That commuter bike is an important part of my riding, and may be my only riding some weeks this winter.

  9. TomInAlbany

    Albany, NY here. I ride my old Serotta most of the time from March through November – or maybe into December if the weather holds. Mostly I commute or do lunch-time rides on it. The old mountain bike comes out when I ride with my kids or on that less-than-once-per-month occasion I actually get on mountain bike trails.

  10. Jeff Dieffenbach

    Boston area. Road is mostly for morning fitness/social rides these days. That’s approx. 2x per week from May through Aug. Once it’s dark that time of morning, I’m on to other surfaces … and other bikes. I’d ride my CX bike on those fitness/social rides, but I can’t quite keep up on my 1x setup. The road bike’s a tool–my other bikes are joys.

    CX bike for mixed terrain and CX, just rode KMC Cross Fest this past weekend and loved every turn of the pedal. Part speedway (max speed of 31.1 mph, my highest ever in CX), part sand dune, it was a blast.

    Fat bike for trails. I’ve got an MTB as well, but the FTB is lighter and more fun. I love riding trails, but don’t need/want to be so good that the FTB loses its place as my first choice.

    1. Nico

      Sorry about the shortcomings on your 1x bike. That experience is the same as those of some of my riding partners. For my riding opportunities, a CX bike setup with 2x is one of the most versatile combinations for road, gravel and non-technical off-road rides. Wheel changes required for optimal tire types. Easily the Swiss Army knife of bicycles.

  11. Jeff Dieffenbach

    Sadly, I can’t blame that shortcoming on anyone but myself … my CX bike was 2x when I bought it.

    Don’t mind me, I’m just sitting here waiting for SRAM to perfect 1x hydro Eagle with exactly the right magical cog jumps …

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