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I can't believe I rode the whole thing!(6 posts)

I can't believe I rode the whole thing!lonefrontranger
Jul 17, 2002 2:36 PM
Yesterday I rode Heil Ranch for the first time on my 'cross bike. For those of you not from the Front Range, this is a relatively new trail to the Boulder area; 7 mile loop in total with about 2 miles of lung-busting climb. The trail "tread" itself was originally designed pretty wide and fairly non-technical, but a year of use has seen lots of loose rocks rise to the surface, and the formation of some decent ruts and sand pits to trap the unwary skinny-tired freak (like myself).

The trail in question doesn't have a good map available, and I don't have a digital camera, so you'll have to use your imagination on the topo provided below:

Heil Ranch trail runs up Geer Canyon (red cross), west of Allens Lake. The road indicated up Geer Canyon is the fire road you start / end on. The trail gives awesome views of Fairview Peak, makes a loop along the ridgeline overlooking Central Gulch, then drops back down to the fire road on some swoopy fun switchbacks.

For all those who doubt the ability of a 'cross bike, I can now safely say that you need worry no more. This trail is a tough one even for some MTB'ers - not necessarily technical (it's 3' wide in most places), but there is a lot of climbing and enough rocks (both hammered-in and loose-rolling-around style) to satisfy the most avid Paris-Roubaix devotee; think of the gnarliest jeep road you know and you've got the picture. I managed the entire climb sans one nasty sandpit on my fully rigid euro-trash Campy 10 Dream Cross. My boyfriend rode with me on his Trek 8900 disc hardtail, and I stomped him pretty good going up the climb for no better reason than lack of gearing options - it was pedal that 36/25 or fall over, so I chose the "just pedal faster" option! (hint: this is why the single speed guys kick major ass)

Meeting riders coming the other way as I was climbing was sometimes exciting, since the downhillers on their dualie bikes don't cotton onto the fact that a 'crossie doesn't have many choices of line. Only one near miss and no hard feelings. My squeaky toy handlebar mojo (the Road Runner; beep! beep!) tends to defuse these situations before they get too stressful.

I find that on serious stuff like this, the cross bike climbs MUCH faster and generally rode faster through all but the really sketchy crappy sandpits or rock gardens, but you definitely lose some time on the bumpy, switchback descents to the pure MTB guys.
Good read!Slacker Joe
Jul 19, 2002 9:55 AM
Man, this board can be kind of dead during the summer, eh? Thanks for sharing the ride report, it's reassuring to hear how capable a cx bike can be.

I bought my first bike, a mountain bike, less than a year ago. Two months ago I picked up a rigid singlespeed for the times my "real" bike's not completely together and I want to ride now! Now I'm investigating the possibilty of a cross bike, it's sick! I think I've finally got a grasp on sizing and narrowed it down to a Kona JTS or a Bianchi Axis at my pricepoint, I'm waiting to see if the 2003 Axis improves over the 2002, since I'm not wild about a carbon fork or Shimano wheels. The Kona seems like a great deal itself though, only a few years ago they were selling a 105 equipped Jake for nearly twice the price - what happened? Nice tough rims too. And the 2003 is already shipping, and is no longer purple, thanks Kona! :) Lime green/dark green this season.

Anyways, the trails here in SE Michigan seem ideal for a CX bike - as I've discovered riding my rigid singlespeed, the fast, smooth trails around here do not dictate the need for suspension or 2"+ tires. Lots of sand this year with the dry weather, so it's good to know that a CX bike can handle it. I don't think I'd do much road riding on it, except to and from trails, but it would be great on vacations.

Sorry for deviating so much from the original topic, just venting, but your comments helped reassure at least one neophyte and pushed me further towards purchase. I wanted to get disk wheels and brakes first for the mtb, but I don't know I can resist now. Doh.

One question.. riding rough trails with a drop bar - how does that work? Are you usually on the hoods, drops, or, uh, the top flat part place thing?

drop bar ridinglonefrontranger
Jul 23, 2002 5:13 PM
The descending can get tough on the hamstrings, but then I have a typical "aggro" low roadie-racer position.

I tend to do most of my descending deep in the drops, for stability and security. I know of a guy who broke his hand / wrist in several places because he slipped off the hoods on a rough CX descent.

That being said, my low back and hamstrings would surely benefit from the addition of some of those top-mounted brakes. I do get pretty stiff and sore on long, long descents (and we have lots of those out here).

However, since I broke my collarbone Sunday (racing in a crit, not playing in the dirt), I'm thinking it's all academic for now. The thought of a bumpy descent is pretty cringe-inducing, even thru a screen of Percoset :P
drop bar ridingflyweight
Jul 24, 2002 1:49 PM
I prefer dropbars for all my riding including off-road. While I don't currently own a MTB (don't really need one) when I did have one it had dropbars. It's not such a radical idea. Way back in the early days many MTBs had dropbars. Bridgestone, Klein, WTB and others all offered dropbar equipped MTBs. John Tomac raced on dropbars for a season and kicked butt doing so.

For dedicated offroad riding you're not going to want to have your bars as low as you would on a road bike or even on a cyclocross racing bike. On my "adventure cross" bike (a cyclocross bike fitted with a triple, fatter tires and a 12-32 cassette) I have my bar high enough so that I'm riding in the drops on the flats and downhills. It's my primary hand position whereas on a road bike you usually spend most of your time up on the hoods. Off-road I'll be up on the hoods for steep uphills where the slightly more forward position of the brakehoods helps to keep the front wheel planted on the ground. I use the tops of the bars for long climbs where I really want to sit up and breathe and on drop-offs so I can more easily get my weight back (having top mount brake levers is usually a requirment in this situation)

I also run the widest and shallowest dropbar I can find. Currently I'm using a Salsa Short N Shallow in the 46cm width. I actually prefer it to the Bell Lap as it's a bit wider across the top section and I find the angled bend of the drops on the Bell Lap to be a bit unnatural feeling.
Good read!mackgoo
Jul 27, 2002 5:06 PM
I found that with a size wider bar than my road bike I was on the tops almost all the time, in off road situations. Didn't matter what I was doing, climbing, climbing out of the saddle, going down what ever. I also had the frogglegs so I could brake very easyly.
Jul 21, 2002 2:25 PM
Congrats on that awesome ride! I like the part when you see a bunch of MTBers and the look on their faces when they realize the type of bike you are riding! I get the same feeling too. I don't have anything against MTBers(I do have a Kona MTB bike I use once in a while) But the look on their faces when I meet them on a climb is priceless. I ride here in Los Angeles( Santa Monica mountains) and the trails are not really as tough as some trails I experience in the East coast. I just love the fact that my cross bike is such a capable off road machine.
Ride on!

Venice Beach, Ca

My Kona will soon be a full rigid MTB!