Week 22: Back in TX, Bike Shopping, and a Rough Ride
Home again after our trip to northwestern CO to take care of some business and clear up some loose ends. Monday after work I had a Dr appointment, washed the X5 after it sat for 2 weeks and I was able to pick up new lenses for my glasses which now have transitions in them so that I can write and work outside. Dom finished setting up the trailer from our late arrival on Sunday night and washed the bugs off the RV.
Tuesday was a late shift day so I was able to write last week’s blog, post it to Patreon and set it up to post on our website a day later. We like to give our Patrons the benefit of getting early access to as much of our content as possible. They also get access to content that isn’t posted anywhere else! Check out our Patreon page here. Getting out of work after 7:00 PM doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for other things since I start at 7:00 AM the next day so that was it for Tuesday.
My alarm went off at 4:00 AM from when we were in CO and I was working from a different time zone, I don’t know why it hadn’t done that the last two days but, I was awake early so I worked on the Kessell Run video until it was time to log into work. After work it was time to adult and wash the laundry as well as go grocery shopping. We did get to spend some time walking the dogs and getting them some much needed exercise. They didn’t do much walking in CO because the campground had large gravel everywhere and it hurt their feet to walk on it. That is something to think about as we move around to different campgrounds. We need to check not only where local emergency services are for us and them but also what are the road surfaces in the campground so that we can walk the dogs without hurting their feet.
On Thursday I researched some different options for mobile data and found that T-Mobile has a plan specifically for rural areas that works on a different network. We also looked into different carriers and device options. Currently we have T-mobile on our phones with hotspot data, we also have a hotspot device on Verizon’s network and a hotspot device on ATT’s network which has an ethernet connection. This has been working for us so far but, there have been places where we had no service and we need to pay attention to that so that we know where we can and can’t work. There are a lot of different options to consider and this may take some time since what we have now is working for now.
While working around the RV Dom got attacked by fire ants on his feet. He received several bites per foot and they swelled up quite a bit. Friday ended up being a night of rest, elevation, ice, Advil, and Benadryl while we watched a movie with the Bat (Drac), Tripp enjoys his alone time when Drac comes to the big bed.
By Saturday we had gotten the swelling in Dom’s feet to go down enough to put shoes on. We went bike shopping to see what the options are for upgrading to bigger bikes. After Dom couldn’t stop on Powder Mountain using the brakes that we have, we started analyzing our equipment and our current riding to make sure that we have what we need to ride what we want. Our plan is to ride trails in every state and on our current bikes the components are starting to reach the upper limits of their capabilities. We went to Richardson Bike Mart in Frisco, TX to look at Santa Cruz and Pivot bikes. While these brands were 4 and 3 on our list, we wanted to make sure that we considered as many options as possible. Since the pandemic has started, many more people have decided to take up biking, coupled with manufacturers slowing production to adhere to social distancing safety measures, there were very few bikes in stock to look at and no Pivot bikes available at all. So we talked to a sales guy about Santa Cruz and learned as much as we could about their frames, geometry, and warranty. We also asked about Pivot but with none to look at we figured the best we were going to get was to compare them online to the other bikes that we are considering.
Our next stop was Mad Duck in Grapevine, TX as they sell Yeti and Ibis bikes, numbers 1 and 2 on our list. We ran into a similar issue here but the owner, Clarence was very knowledgeable and while he didn’t have an Ibis bike, he did have an Ibis frame to demonstrate how it works. He had 2 Yeti bikes and even though they were not the models that we wanted to look at, he made some great suggestions about the size of bike needed for what we plan to ride. It was good getting to see how all these different companies have come up with different solutions to issues found in mountain biking. Yeti and Ibis have found a way to help with the problem of sag during the pedal stroke to keep more energy focused on moving the wheels. We went home to make a spreadsheet of all the bikes that we were considering. This is my favorite part, I love gathering and analyzing data. We included different models of different brands and took into account what components came on them as well as quality versus price. We ended up comparing 9 different bikes and included our current bikes with upgraded components. We are still in the decision making processes and your comments are appreciated. What do you ride? Why do you love it and what would you change?
Sunday was ride day, we really wish that we could get more than one day of riding in and are looking for ways to make that happen around everything else that needs to be done. We chose to ride Northshore in Grapevine, TX and called our friend Carolyn who lives in the area to join us. We rode the East side and around 3.5 miles in we came across a young couple with a flat tire. We got out all the tools we had to try to fix this flat and get them back on the trail. After an hour, almost 10 patches, electrical tape around the tube, and several hand pumping sessions, the tube just would not hold air. It had more punctures and slices than we could count. We told them about the Giant bike shop a few miles down the road and suggested they try to buy a new tube there. We also let them know the story of why we went tubeless and how we have only had one flat since and Dom is still riding that tire, thorn and all, several months later! We continued on our way and after a couple more miles Carolyn had to head home. Dom and I continued to ride until we ran out of water almost halfway through the trail. We each had 3L of water in our hydration packs and we each had a 20oz bottle of hydration as well. We also cut out to the street and headed for the Giant bike shop where we met up again with the young couple. It was 3:08 PM and the store closed early at 3:00 PM due to Covid-19. The employees were still inside and seeing us outside one poked his head out the door and asked if we needed something easy and fast. We let him know that they needed a tube and we were looking for water and potentially snacks. We were asked if we had masks, Dom had his mask and I always carry bandannas as part of my first aid kit, the young couple had none. Dom agreed to go in the store to buy the tube and snacks, they had no water for sale. We were so grateful for the employees going above and beyond to help us even after they should have been packing up to go home. The young couple sent us money through PayPal and we continued on our adventure to find water. Now, there was a water fountain at the trailhead where we left the trail but we decided against the risk of infection presented in using a public water fountain. There were also 2 coolers with water but we didn’t know who they belonged to or who they were for and so we didn’t take water from there either. We later learned from Carolyn that the coolers are put out by a local bar for the bikers on the trail and it would have been ok to take water from there. We rode another half mile and came to a cafe where they had water and sandwiches, lunch break.
After some rest, water, and food we rode back to the trail to finish the east side loop. It was 99 degrees and 50% humidity and I was getting pretty overheated once we were back inside the thick woods without any wind. We pedaled on. Around mile 11 I started to get really hot and unable to cool down, I was getting dizzy and forgetting good body posture when rolling downhill and over obstacles. I rode off a small drop and forgot to lean back and pull up on my handlebars. Halfway through the fall I realized what I had done and threw my weight back as hard and fast as I could and managed to not go over the bars but my front tire landed pretty hard. I kept riding until we got to the last mile marker where there was a water spigot. We dropped our bikes, helmets, backpacks, gloves, and sunglasses and wet ourselves down to cool off. The most efficient way to cool off is to add cool water to your neck and head. Cooling your blood down here helps it to stay cooler throughout your body. That is exactly what we did while we took a short break. Once we had cooled down we headed for the final mile. As soon as we got out of the woods and back to the parking lot, Dom got a thigh heat cramp. Once it was finished we headed to the car to drop all of our gear and turn on the car’s AC. We cooled down and then packed up to head home.
We ended up riding a total of 13.31 miles and 490 feet of climbing with the short ride into town for food and water. This ride was in the top 3 of our hardest rides overall so far. The other two were the Back 40 in Bentonville, AR (20 miles) and Lunch Loops in Grand Junction, CO, which we ended up walking a lot of due to skinny trails with high exposure and loose rock. Our Strava refused to find a GPS signal at Lunch Loops as well so we don’t even have stats for that day other than it was 103 degrees and 11% humidity in the high desert with no shade. After we got home we realized that I did something to my front tire or wheel on that drop and it was flat! Dom’s brakes also acted up on the trail so we decided that it was really time to do something with our bikes so that we can remain as safe as possible.
We love biking and we want to show you that not all trips are sunshine and roses. Some days are harder than others. We also are very happy that we chose to live this lifestyle and get to share our wins and setbacks with you. Thank you for following along our journey as we travel around and figure out how to live small. See you next week!