Archive for Mountain Biking

I Bought New Pedals – Shimano PD-M540

It’s been a long winter. I am so ready to get back on my bike and hit the road/trail. I bought myself some Shimano PD-M540 pedals for my mountain bike. They are the first SPD pedals I’ve owned. I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve been tooling around my neighborhood giving them a go and they are solid. Getting them on the trail and seeing how they perform is of course a whole different thing.pedal

There are a lot of SPD pedals out there. And of course Shimano has a number of choices for mountain biking. I chose the PD-540 because I don’t like buying the cheapest model. I can’t afford the most expensive and simply do not need to shave a few grams and I don’t ride everyday so wear and tear won’t be that noticeable.

As far as other pedals I looked at the eggbeater by Crank Bros, some new ones by Look and some tried and true by Time. Look and Time seemed too expensive for what I wanted to pay. There were a ton of Crank Bros. models but the reviews were mixed due to some malfunctions. If you read the reviews you will notice that everyone seems to compare to Shimano. I couldn’t see a reason not to go with an industry standard and frankly as of today I’m happy I did.

And one other thing that helped me decide on the PD-M540 SPD was that it was SPD. I do a lot of indoor cycling at the YMCA at spin classes during cold and/or inclement weather. I like that the indoor cycles are compatible with SPD.

Riding around the neighborhood I felt like the pedals were a good fit. They were easy to get in and out of. When you clip in it feels solid. Just a good confident feel. And I think they look good on my HiFi Pro 29er, which is least important but a good thing nevertheless.

If oyu are thinking about new pedals you could do worse than investigating the PD-M540. They retail for around $100. I got mine for $59 or so from Jensen after requesting a price match.


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Low Gasoline Prices Means More Mountain Biking

One of the results of high gasoline prices was I did very little mountain biking when gasoline was above $2. There are a couple of reasons for this: 1) I live in middle Tennessee. Not exactly a hot bed of mountain biking activity. I’ve ridden every trail local to Nashville and can say there are only two that I go back to. Montgomery Bell State Park and Columbia. In fact, those two trail systems are fantastic. The rest, well you take what you can get, but they are rather sad. I moved from north of Atlanta and had my choices of many epic north Georgia mountain rides through the 90’s and early 2000’s. I took them for granted.

2) I drive a 4-cylinger vehicle. As a matter fact that’s all I’ve ever driven. Even when I was paying 89 cents for gasoline I still did not like to spend my money on it. I’ve had three cars in my life and they were all used and 4-cylinder. I’m no environmental zealot but I hate to spend money on gas. Anyway, it was very hard to spend the money to drive back down to Georgia to hit those old trails, even with a 4-cylinder.

Today is a different story. Instead of it costing $50-60 to drive down to Georgia, it now only costs like $25. If I stay local I might only spend $3-4 rather than $10 to go mountain biking. I used to wake up and think whether I wanted to spend that money or simply get on my road bike and go for a ride. The road bike has won out for the last few years.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to ride my road bike. It’s a nice Trek 5500. Circa 2004 I think. I had to get my 1996 model frame replaced in 2006. The earliest they had was a 2004. Talk about an upgrade! And it cost me nothing. But my first love is mountain biking and I had been missing it. I’ve been riding almost every weekend since getting my Gary Fisher.

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Riding My 2009 Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29er in Middle Tennessee

It’s been a couple of months since I purchased my 2009 Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29. I thought I’d update what I thought of it since the novelty has worn off and now I’m simply getting down to riding it. Man, this thing is a blast. I knew for a few years now I needed a comfortable mountain bike. I figured it would be a dual suspension. I was right. But the 29er takes it to a whole different level.hi_fi_pro_29

It took a couple of rides to get used to what the 29er can do. When I rode the trail on my 26-inch hardtail I would choose carefully what route I would take through the rock garden or roots. You know how it is. You would roll up to a rocky outcrop and have to pop the front wheel up and pull the back end behind you to keep rolling. Particularly with a hard tail. Forever mindful of being clipped in and stalling on a rock and flopping over. With the 29er I quickly realized I could simply roll over most obstacles where I would normally have to worry about balance and route. Those big wheels are very forgiving and of course the dual suspension keeps those whels on the ground.

The bike is fast. I love to climb. It took one good long hill to realize this bike is an outstanding climber. And like I mentioned before, you just roll over the rocks and roots much easier than on a 26-inch bike. The downhills are great. I rode a hard tail for years so anything with full suspension is going to feel fantastic. I think the 29er handles great downhill. I’m a tall rider. A little over 6 feet. The bike feels good beneath me. If you are a shorter rider you might not like the size of the bike though.

My only complaint is living where I do. Middle Tennesse is not exactly a hot bed of mountain bike trails. There are about 4-5 OK trails around the area. It’s pretty tough to drive back down to N. Ga, or Chattanooga even, with gasoline as high as it is. I drive a 4 cylinder Toyota but to get down to better trails will still cost around $40. Think about that. Do I want to spend $40 and 4-6 hours of drive time each time I want to ride? Maybe, maybe not.

There are two fantastic trails that are within an hours drive from me. One is in Columbia and the other is at Montgomery Bell State Park. The people who built and maintain these trails have done an outstanding job. They are tight and twisty single track trails. I like these trails a lot. The thing is I also like long climbing, or descending, Jeep trails and double track trails. Trails like those at Hamilton Creek are maddening because you just twist around and around a very small area and never get a chance to really unwind.

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I Bought a 2009 Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29er

I’ve been saving up for over a year for a new mountain bike. I wasn’t sure what I was going to buy until a couple weeks ago when I test road the 2009 Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29er. I went to the bike shop that gets all my business and told them I want to deploy that money to that bike. It took two weeks to get it in and they will have it built by tomorrow. Needless to say I am pretty excited. It’s the nicest and most expensive bike I’ve ever bought. It’s probably the nicest thing I’ve ever treated myself in my 42 years.

The problem is finding places to ride it in Mid TN. There isn’t a lot of public lands. Gasoline is so damn expensive that it’s tough to justify spending a tank full of gas to get back down to GA. I’ll have to find people to share the expense with I guess. I’ll have to make do with the local areas that are available. And maybe find some new places to ride that I didn’t know about.

Anyway, you only live once. I’ve had my current Giant hardtail since around 1993. I’ve gone through three shocks and various components. It has served me well. As a matter of fact I plan on converting it to a single speed just for kicks. But it’s time to move on. Time for a change. Man, I can’t wait.

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Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29er 2009 Review

I test rode the Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29er 2009 model today at a Trek/Fisher demo bike opportunity at Raccoon Mountain down around Chattanooga, TN. Let’s just say I loved it. I also rode a Fisher Superfly, which is a hardtail 29er and a Trek Fuel EX. It was a great day.

The first bike I rode was the full suspension Trek Fuel EX. A 26 inch full suspension bike was what I originaly thought that I was going to buy. I mounted the Fuel and took it for a ride around the trails. After years of riding a hard tail it was tough getting used to riding a full suspension up the hills. It felt awful. Conversely the downhills were amazing. I zipped around the trails faster and more comfortable than I ever had. I loved the full-suspension on the downhills but I like to climb and riding up the hills was a bit disappointing.

I came back to the trailer and told the Trek guy about my experience and he said that I had to try out the Superfly. It is a 29er hard tail. I mounted it, rode off and immediately loved the way it rode. I like the added height the bike seemed to give. I hit the trail and took off down a hill and immediately missed the full suspension, but liked the downhill experience much better than my old hard tail. The 29 inch wheels really seemed to give the bike more give and the handling was superb. Then the trail turned up and I found it to be incredible. The big wheel just rolled over everything, roots, rocks, ruts, with ease. I found that I did not have to finesse my way up the hills as much as simply bowl over the terrain. It climbed better than anything I have ridden on the trails. I knew right then that I wanted a 29er. But it still wasn’t as plush as the full-suspension Fuel on the downhills.

I came back with a smile on my face and told the guy I loved this 29er bike. I came with the intention of wanted a full-suspension bike and am leaving with the desire for another hard tail. He smiled and said I need to ride the HiFi Pro. Full-suspension 29er. The best of all worlds. He knew what he was dong leading me down this path. I hopped on with a lot of hope that I had found my perfect bike. The ride over to the trailhead was familiar as riding the big wheels on pavement feels good. I came to the top of the trail and dropped in and immediately loved the full-suspension feel. It felt like the goodness of the Fuel but with the added rugged handling of the 29er tires. The Fule is a bike built for finesse. The 29er is simply a tank. Oh it’s light enough but you feel like you can roll over anything with those big wheels. The climbing was great. It wasn’t as perfect as climbing with the 29er hardtail but it was equal to or better than any 26 inch hard tail bike I’ve ridden. Again you just roll over whatever gets in your way. You don’t have to dodge around and weave and finesse your way up a tough trail. I knew this was the bike I would spend my hard earned and long saved money on. I loved the way it handled, braked, shifted…everything about the bike.

Riding home from Raccoon Mountain I wondered why anyone would ever want a little 26 inch bike. I knew that I wouldn’t. I will never go back to a 26 inch bike.,

I really enjoyed my day down there riding those top of the line bikes. Anytime one of those demo bike days come up you should take the opportunity to check it out. You probably won’t be getting a chance to ride such high level bikes from your bike shop as they are just too expensive to stock. I rode about $17-18,000 worth of bikes today. It was a blast.

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President Bush Rides the Olympic Mountain Bike Course

Politics completely aside, I totally dig that President Bush went over to the Olympics and road the Olympic mountain bike course. The whole thing. How cool is that? I like the President is a mountain biker. Apparently the man knows how to ride. And I’m glad that my president rode the Olympic course.

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I Miss Georgia Mountain Biking and Road Cycling

I used to live in Georgia. I would spend half my time riding my mountain bike in my beloved north Georgia mountains and I would do road cycling around the country area where I lived. I was far enough north of Atlanta where I didn’t get swamped with a ton of traffic when I cycled on the road. And I lived close enough to the mountains to haul my mountain bike up within an hour or so.

But then I got the idea to move to Nashville. A job opportunity you see. Slower pace. Less traffic. And one of the worst cycling areas I’ve ever lived. I get up around 6-7 on Saturdays and Sundays to do my road rides. Traffic is a drag around Nashville. Everybody travels the same tired little country farm roads. There are no major connectors. And these little farm roads have no shoulders. I try to ride when there is no traffic. Certainly no riding on the weekdays until after everybody gets back home from work. Weekends I try to be off the road by 10.

So ride your mountain bike you say. Would love to if there was places to ride around Nashville. The best places require a drive to East TN in the mountains or south, back down to GA. These days that is no small commitment monetarily. I drive a 4-cylinder Toyota. Always have, even when gasoline was 89 cents a gallon. To get over and back or down and back to go mountain biking will cost basically $50 in fuel. That is a drag. It’s even keeping me from realizing my dream of getting a new dual-suspension rig. What’s the point? I can’t ride the trails I want to with it. I’m land locked. Why spend the $2K?

I love to ride my road bike but I’m tired of the same old routes as well. And it seems retarded these days to put the bike on the car and drive somewhere to ride. I still ride and mix it up when I can. The best ride I had this year was a couple of hours in the early morning rain this past Saturday.

I’m jealous of folks who have readily available trails in your home town or close by. I hear fabulous stories of folks out in Oregon, Washington and California enjoying the road and trails. People who have lived their lives in Nashville think this is a great place to ride too but they would be wrong. This place is in denial about how big it’s getting. The Nashville metro counties, I guess, believe that they are part of this small southern city and want to stay that way. Yet they allow developers to come and build 100’s of homes on a couple hundred acres with no improvements to the roads. Those homes are going to be stocked with people wanting to drive their Nissan and GM discounted vehicles to work and back on small county roads. There isn’t room for cycles when there is no shoulder.

I miss the Georgia riding I had available during the 90’s into the early 2000 years. With traffic and sprawl it’s probably gotten worse down there as well, but at least I was closer to the mountains. I’ll just keep making do because I still love to ride.

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