9/29/2014

Product Review: Finish Line No Drip Chain Luber

Lubricating my bike's chain used to cause drips that either ended up on my garage floor or my wheels and chainstay.  After seeing the No Drip Chain Luber from Finish Line last year at Interbike I figured this may be a solution to that problem.  In theory it seemed like a good idea but how would it work with lubes of varying viscosity and would it coat the chain evenly without drips?  After receiving some of samples from Finish Line I decided to test it out and see if it would live up to its name.

The No Drip Chain Luber is simple in its design, it comes with an empty 2 oz. bottle, a unique applicator head, 3 wicking pads and a travel cap.

The two lubes I use most are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of viscosity.  ProGold Extreme is very thin while Chain-L is as thick as honey.  I would put the No Drip Chain Luber to the test and see how it would handle both of these lubes and maintain its No Drip claim.


I used the the ProGold Extreme on the 9:Zero:7 fatbike all last winter and was surprised how well it penetrated the rollers without the No Drip Chain Luber delivering too much thus dripping onto the floor.  A little squeeze and a couple of back pedal revolutions while the wicking pad was in contact with the top of the chain was all it took.  A quick wipe down on the side plates of the chain with a rag and I was ready to roll.


For my gravel bike I use Chain-L lube.  I like this lube because it lasts a long time and delivers a very quiet and shift responsive drivetrain.  This stuff is thick so I wanted to see if the No Drip Chain Luber would distribute it evenly onto the chain.  I squeezed the bottle upside down until the wicking pad was thoroughly soaked with the lube.


Now I was ready to lube the chain.  Lightly squeezing the bottle with the wicking pad in contact with the top of the chain, I began to slowly back pedal until lightly coated.  Because Chain-L is so thick I repeated this process on the bottom side of the chain and gave the lube time to work its way into the rollers.  After about 10 minutes I wiped the excess (which was very little) off of the chain and was ready to ride.


The No Drip Chain Luber did a very good job applying the necessary amount of lube to the chain using both thin and thick lubricants without a mess or dripping.  It made the task quick and easy, I used less lube and there wasn't a lot of excess to be wiped off afterward.  I now keep several No Drip Chain Lubers labeled with the lube they contain so I can use which ever one I desire depending on the conditions or bike.  No dripping on the concrete in the garage or on my wheels/chainstay were a welcome change from the old method of lubing my chains. 

The No Drip Chain Luber is available from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $8.99.

Disclosure:  Finish Line provided the review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review. 

Penn Cycle & Fitness
The Great September Sell-Out
http://penncycle.com/product-list/the-great-september-sell-out-pg596/
Going on now
Save big on Trek Bicycles,
Accessories and Apparel

9/20/2014

MORC's 20th Anniversary Gala To Be Held November 9th


For 20 years MORC's (Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists) mission has been "Gaining and Maintaining Trails" so to celebrate this this anniversary and fellow ridership they are throwing a BIG party.  The MORC 20th Anniversary Gala will be held at the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown November 9th from 2-7pm.

Image Credit: Varsitytheater.org

This formal attire dinner event will raise funds for MORC's 2015 season and their efforts to become the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s first designated ‘Ride City’ which requires a major metropolitan area to have 100+ miles of designated single track mountain bike trail.  MORC is currently developing the Three Rivers Park area at Lake Rebecca which will secure this designation but "it is going to take a lot of blood, sweat, tears and dollars to complete a project of this scope but it is sure to be amazing!"

Silent and live auctions during the Gala will also support MORC's efforts moving forward.  If you are an individual or business that would like to donate items for these auctions, please contact Meghann Charboneau.

Image Credit: Media Logic Group

The evening will feature several speakers during the dinner.  Keynote Speaker, Paul Douglas' talk will incorporate weather/climate with outdoor recreation, namely cycling.  Other speakers scheduled include President of QBP Steve Flagg, former IMBA Midwest Regional Director now with the MN Land Trust Hansi Johnson and Minnesota High School Cycling League Communication Director and Founding Member Libby Hurley.

Image Credit: Minnesota High School Cycling League

MORC Gala Breakdown
2-7pm Event Time 
2-3pm: Happy Hour
3-4:30pm: Silent Auction Announcement
3:30-5:00pm: Dinner
4:15pm: Keynote Speaker
4:30pm: Second Speaker
4:45pm: Third Speaker
5:00pm: Fourth Speaker
5:15-6:15pm: Live Auction
6:15-7:00pm: Live Entertainment
Note: Times and events are subject to change

Valet parking will be available and there is plenty of parking around the Varsity Theater and at the U of M 4th Street ramp.  Tickets are available now through Brown Paper Tickets.  Purchase your tickets before October 1st and save $30.  Your attendance will help fund projects at the Twin Cities mountain bike trails we all love to ride.

9/12/2014

2nd Annual Wild Ride Mountain Bike Festival at Lebanon Hills October 4th

The 2nd Annual Wild Ride Mountain Bike Festival is coming up on Saturday, October 4th at the West Trailhead at Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan.  This fun-filled event is made possible through Dakota County Parks and a partnering with MORC (Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists), local area bike shops, businesses and organizations.

Join in on the fun and celebrate one of Minnesota's best mountain bike trail systems and the many hours of volunteer work that MORC members have put in to maintain nearly 12 miles of single-track.  This event is not only for the avid mountain biker but also a fun and festive way to introduce new riders to the sport.

Image Credit: Dakota County Parks

The Wild Ride Mountain Bike Festival is a family-friendly free event, however Dakota Co. Parks would like attendees to pre-register online or by calling 952-891-7000 during standard business hours.  Come down between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm for a day filled with activities.

Image Credit: Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike Trail Facebook Page

Scheduled activities include Build Your Skills Sessions, Gear Talk Sessions, Fix-It Clinics and live music by Twin Cities bluegrass band Sans Souci.  Throughout the day there will be bike tune-ups, kids activities, timed competitive events, group rides and a VIP Lounge presented by Freewheel Bike.  Food and beverage, including beer and wine will be available for purchase on-site by Green Mill.

There will be plenty of new bikes to demo at this year's festival.  The Trek Factory Demo Rig will be there with brand new Mountain, Road and Cyclocross models to test ride on the mountain bike trails, skills park and nearby bike paths.  The Specialized Demo Rig loaded with 2015 men's, women's and kid's bikes will also be there and event partner Valley Bike and Ski is coming with Giant, Felt & KHS demo models.  All demo rides are free but may require you to bring your helmet, credit card and driver's license to demo bikes.
 

Parking is free but limited at the West Trailhead lot.  Overflow event parking is available at the School of Environmental Studies (12155 Johnny Cake Ridge Road) located just South of the West Trailhead entrance.  Additional street parking can be found along Galaxie Avenue on the west side of the park and in neighborhoods near the park.

Image Credit: Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike Trail Facebook Page

This is a rain or shine event.  Dakota County Parks will have a large canopy tent on-site to keep people dry if it does rain.  Severe weather or lightening may postpone or cause events to be rescheduled later in the day.  If wet trail conditions close the mountain bike trails, nearby paved trails and the old gravel parking lot are available for test-riding bikes.  Check the Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike Trail Facebook page for hour by hour updates in the event of severe weather the day of the Festival.

Visit the Dakota County Parks Wild Ride Mountain Bike Festival page for more information or call the Lebanon Hills Visitor Center at 651-554-6530.  Thanks to Event Partners MORC, Penn Cycle, Erik's Bike and Board, Trek, Freewheel Bike, Valley Bike and Ski and Health Source Chiropractic for making the Wild Ride Mountain Bike Festival possible.

9/10/2014

Best Times and Places For Fall Color Rides With Help From the MN DNR

Image Credit: MN DNR

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year for bicycling and the Minnesota DNR has several tools available to help you experience the color changes throughout the state.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fall Color Map has now gone live and will be updated by State Park and State Recreation Area (SRA's) staff by noon every Thursday.  With the wet Spring Minnesota has had and a good growing season during the Summer, trees are very healthy and a magnificent color display is expected throughout the state now through mid-October. 

To coincide your bike rides with the peak color changes using your smartphone or tablet, the MN DNR also has a Fall Colors Mobile version that is integrated with Google Maps.  It will display a map for typical peak colors around the state and provide a list view or  map view of State Park and SRA's with percentage of color change.  Click on any listing for more details on where to go, what you'll see and other things of interest.  Each listing also has links to events, a map view and the corresponding MN DNR webpage.

Minnesota has 24 State Trails with scenic views to check out the fall colors.  Whether you prefer to ride on paved, aggregate or natural surface trail, there are many miles to explore.  Visit the Minnesota State Trails Start Up Guide to pick a trail that is right for you.

I published a four part series of posts entitled "Favorite Trails for Fall Color Rides" two years ago that list some of my favorite places to ride during the Fall.  These are some really fun trails with great scenery.  They can be read at the following links:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.  Give them a try, they will not disappoint.

Image Credit:  MN DNR
If adventure riding or forest roads are a little more your style the Minnesota DNR has a page with information about biking in Minnesota State Forests.  There are over 2000 miles of forest roads and thousands of logging trails to explore.  See my post Explore Minnesota's State Forests by Mountain Bike With Resources From the MN DNR.

Fall is a wonderful time of year for biking and with a little help from the MN DNR you can find out where and when to go for a great riding experience.

9/08/2014

Winter '14-'15 Minnesota Fatbike Events

Get Phat with Pat - Minnesota River Bottoms

Fatbikes are more popular than ever here in Minnesota and new fatbike events keep popping up around the state.  This season's calendar will include all types of  Winter fatbike events from festivals and races to demos and group rides.  Below is a list in chronological order.  Race and event organizers, if you would like your event listed, please send me an e-mail.  I will continue to update and add events to this post as they become available.

Fatbike Frozen 40 - Elm Creek

The Pie Burner Pedal-November 29, 2014
Hosted by: Iron Range Fat Bike Riders
Hibbing Community College
Hibbing, MN
25 miles 

Frozen Frolic Winter Mountain Bike Race Series-December 6, 2014
Elm Creek Park Reserve
Champlin, MN
10.5 miles 

Global Fatbike Day-December 6, 2014 
Worldwide 

Frozen Frolic Winter Mountain Bike Race Series-December 13, 2014
Murphey-Hanrehan Park Reserve
Savage, MN
10.5 miles 

The Solstice Chase-December 20, 2014
Great Lakes Fat Bike Series
Big Rock Creek Retreat
St. Croix Falls, WI
42 & 21 km
Online Registration 

Frozen Frolic Winter Mountain Bike Race Series-January 10, 2015
Elm Creek Park Reserve
Champlin, MN
10.5 miles 

Penn Cycle Get Phat with Pat Race #1-January 17, 2015
Minnesota River Bottoms
Bloomington, MN
Details to come. 

4th Annual Global Fat Bike Summit and Festival-January 23-25,2015
Snow King Resort
Jackson, WY 

Frozen Frolic Winter Mountain Bike Race Series-January 24, 2015
Murphey-Hanrehan Park Reserve
Savage, MN
10.5 miles 

Penn Cycle Get Phat with Pat Race #2-January 24, 2015
Minnesota River Bottoms
Bloomington, MN
Details to come.

Arrowhead 135-January 26-28, 2015
International Falls, MN
135 miles
Registration for race veterans opens 9/1/2014
Registration for newcomers opens 10/1/14
Race Registration Information

Penn Cycle Fat Tire Loppet-February 1, 2015
Great Lakes Fat Bike Series
38 km
Online Registration 

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout-February 7, 2015
Great Lakes Fat Bike Series
Cuyuna Country SRA
Crosby, MN 

Frozen Frolic Winter Mountain Bike Race Series-February 7, 2015
Elm Creek Park Reserve
Champlin, MN
10.5 miles 

Fatbike Frozen 40-February 14, 2015
Great Lakes Fat Bike Series
Elm Creek Park Reserve
Champlin, MN 

Frozen Frolic Winter Mountain Bike Race Series-February 28, 2015
Murphey-Hanrehan Park Reserve
Savage, MN
10.5 mile 

Giants Ridge Fat Bike Race-March 21, 2015
Giants Ridge
Biwabik, MN
15 miles

9/03/2014

Product Review: Trail Rail Adjustable Cell/GPS Cradle

I first came across the Trail Rail Adjustable Cell/GPS Cradle last year at Interbike and immediately thought of its application for mountain biking and adventure riding.  This mount is a solid way to secure your iPhone or Android device to handlebars for navigation, shooting photos/video and for easy access taking calls or messaging.  What makes this mount so stable and virtually indestructible is the cradle, platform and all components are machined from solid 6061-T6 Aluminum billet.


I ride the fatbike on every type of terrain so I figured it would be the best test of durability for the Trail Rail Adjustable Cradle.  I have used it to secure my Samsung Galaxy S4 (on the Adjustable Cell/GPS Cradle II) to my bars for navigation and ride tracking on gravel roads, through the Minnesota River Bottoms and on area singletrack mountain bike trails without ever having to worry about the cradle coming loose or losing my phone.


Rock gardens, logs, fast descents and the occasional crash did not interfere with Trail Rail's ability to keep my phone securely in place.  In fact, it held it so secure that I could see this mount being used on ATV's and motorcycles, too.


The cradle is adjustable to provide the best viewing angle.  By changing out individual components such as the C-Link adapter and Platform (Diamond), the orientation of the phone can be changed to a landscape view for shooting photos and video.


Here is a short video I shot using my Samsung Galaxy S4 in the landscape position on the Trail Rail Adjustable Cradle while riding at the Minnesota River Bottoms.


While the video quality may seem shaky, it is not because of the Adjustable Cradle but rather the vibration and shock from the bike on rough terrain.  I do like having the option to shoot 1080p video and take photos with my smartphone while on rides and the adjustability of this cradle allows me to do so easily.


My favorite thing about the design of the Trail Rail Cradle is the easy access that it provides while riding.  I can quickly glance down at a map, check my ride stats or view a newly received text message.  All of the button functions (volume, power and home) are available without the cradle getting in the way of them and I have full responsive touchscreen functionality.

The adjustable cradle fingers and spacers provide a custom fit on phones with cases.  I have an Otterbox Defender Series case on my Galaxy S4 which increases the phone size significantly and it was easy to get the right secure fit.  There are two neoprene strips that apply onto the face of the cradle to prevent scratching of the phone and dampen vibration.

This is a high quality phone mounting system that delivers security even on the roughest of terrain.  The only negative that I came across using it was not being able to quickly remove my phone from the cradle.  Removal does require the use of an allen wrench to loosen the cradle fingers.  Trail Rail does however sell Thumb Screws to avoid this, making phone removal tool-free.  Quick cradle removal can also be done by implementing the new UV Quick Release Mount.

With a number of Individual Components available for the Trail Rail system, mounting options are many and can be customized to your liking.  Contact Trail Rail for questions regarding components and cradles for mounting for your device.

The original Adjustable Cell/GPS Platform I was designed for use with the iPhone but can be used with smaller Android phones and is available for $119.99.  I have used this cradle with my old HTC One S.  The newest addition to the Trail Rail line, the Adjustable Cell/GPS Cradle II is ideal for larger phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 & S5 and is available for $139.99.  Since last year the price for the Trail Rail phone cradle system has come down significantly from its original $200+ price tag.  These mounts are more expensive than most on the market but are very high quality and built to last unlike plastic mounts.

Each system comes in MIL-STD-8625 Class II, Black & Sealed finish and the Adjustable Cell/GPS Platform I is also available in several anodized colors.  All Trail Rail products are made in the USA.

Both Systems Include:
(1) TRUV MOUNT
(1) HB RING RAIL (31.8MM STANDARD RING SIZE, OTHER SIZES AVAILABLE, SEE BELOW)
(1) C Link Adapter
(1) Platform Adapter
(1) Adjustable Cell/GPS Cradle
 HB RING RAIL ALSO AVAILBLE IN THE FOLLOWING SIZES:
-19mm (.750")
-25.4mm (1.00")
-30.1mm (1.187")
-31.8mm (1.252")
-32.4mm (1.275")

Disclosure:  Trail Rail provided the review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review. 

8/29/2014

Plan Road Rides Right From Your Android Device With RunBikeRoute

RunBikeRoute for Android is a simple and easy to use route planning tool app that I have been using regularly for the last couple of years.  It's how I plan my road rides and discover new route options.  I like to mix things up a bit by creating routes that include gravel and paved segments of road and because RunBikeRoute uses Google Maps, it lets me choose between the standard map and satellite imagery.  The satellite map layer helps me locate gravel roads and determine which paved roads have wide or no shoulders to ride on.  I will use this app to discover new areas and roads I've never been on to keep from riding the same old routes.


I have a very busy schedule but I still set aside time to ride.  Some days I may only have an hour to an hour and a half available, while other days may let me ride up to 4 hours.  This is where RunBikeRoute comes in handy for me, I can plan a route to fit the window of time I have to ride based on mileage, elevation profile and my average riding speed. 


Drawing a route that snaps to roads or trails can be done by using the Bicycling mode in the settings.  I use the Manual mode for off-road or roads and trails that Google Maps doesn't recognize.  Once my route is created I can save it within the app for reference, view it while out on a ride or refer to it to recreate the route later on my computer using Strava, Runtastic or RideWithGPS for live turn-by-turn navigation using the corresponding app.  See my posts Strava Routes Now Available For iPhone & Android, App Review: Runtastic Road Bike Pro, or Route Planning Made Easy Using RideWithGPS* for more information.
 

*Use with Garmin GPS units or the new RideWithGPS app.

For the last few months RunBikeRoute was not available on Google Play and I sent an email to the developer to find out why.  The developer responded by telling me that she had taken it down because "I just have not had time to keep it up to date and as more and more people transition to newer devices it simply wasn't working as well."  She has received other emails like mine and decided to work on a better version of the app that will take advantage of  a lot of newer and faster Android features.  After our conversation she has re-published the current version of the app with the caveat that she was unsure of how it would work on the newer Android operating versions.

I have been using RunBikeRoute on a Samsung Galaxy S4 running Android 4.4.2 (Kit Kat) and it has worked fine with the exception of the Export feature to create a GPX or KML files for use with other mapping software or GPS devices.  I have also had to use Tracker Booster to get a quicker reading on my location while using the app on rides. The developer will certainly address any issues with the current version of the app and continue to work on an updated version.  Comments about how RunBikeRoute is working and requests for new features are welcomed by the developer by sending an email to code.for.good@gmail.com.

I like the convenience of RunBikeRoute for planning a ride anytime without a computer.  I can plan a route in a couple of minutes, save it, hop on the bike and go.  If I'm unsure of a turn or the distance until my next turn I can refer to my route using the app.  Now that RunBikeRoute is available on Google Play again for download, start planning your rides and discover where new roads will take you.

For more information on how to use RunBikeRoute and all of its features, see my post Planning Your Next Ride Just Got Easier With Run. Bike. Route. for Android.  RunBikeRoute is available on the Google Play Store for $0.99. 
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