I got a chance to get out on singletrack for the first time this year that didn't involve a race. That's only the 3rd official singletrack ride of 2013 for me due to a long winter making things muddy or snow covered. The first time was at Swanson Park in Bellevue, NE. The second time was at Sylvan Island in Moline, Il. And now the 3rd time was closer to home at Center Trails in Des Moines.
Brian Pottorff posted on Facebook Saturday that the trails at Center were good to ride. And the flood (probably not the best term to use considering what happened to Banner this past week with the rain) of riders that turned out on Sunday with temperatures in the low 60's was quite a stir crazy crowd. I had done 2 hours of road riding on Saturday in the cold rounding out the end of a R&R week with legs that felt flat (pffftttt!), but with the warmer temperatures and promise of dirt that could be ridden - I couldn't wait to do some riding on singletrack
First, I had some things to unpack and prepare....
Specialized Renegade 2.3's and some test tires from Maxxis
I picked up some Specialized Renegade 2.3 XC Control tires to use as rear tires. Nice low knobs with a low weight of 620g for a 2.3 29"er sounded fair enough to me to give a try. Since conditions are not loose and dry like it was last year from the drought, I figured I would remove my Nobby Nic 2.35 from the rear of my RIP 9 and replace it with a Renegade 2.3 to see if I could XC up the rear end of the bike. I prefer to ride the RIP on dirt for all non-racing rides to keep me nice and comfy with the amount of travel it provides.
Since I had not been out on dry dirt this year, it was the first time the RIP came out for dirt. I threw on a new WTB Silverado saddle I've had in the parts bin all winter while I was at it. The Nobby Nic was really glued on the Light Bicycles carbon rim and was difficult to get off. The Renegade went on nice and tight and aired right up with a floor pump with ease.
Tread looks between an Ikon and a Raven 2.2...
Volume is not yet a 2.3, but maybe with time the tire will expand and grow to it's true size of 2.3. The casing measures out at 57mm (which is only 2.24") after being on the bike for 48 hours.
Paired with the all-around Nobby Nic 2.35 up front, the Renegade 2.3 on the back of the RIP looks and feels like a pretty good combo...
I headed up to Center Trails and pulled into parking lot at the pool. The parking lot was about as full as it can get. Lots of people were out trying to enjoy a day that was nearly spring like for a change. I got the bike out and headed up to the top of Roller Coaster to start my 2 hours of riding. I hooked up with a few other riders over in Denman's and even though I was supposed to be out on an easy Zone 2 ride - the group ride mentality kicked in and the pace was over my limit of Zone 2 for the day. Oh well, it felt good to work some Zone 3 and a bit of Zone 4 on the climbs as we did the full loop of Squirrel's Nest and back over to Hillside. I liked the tire combination as I didn't lose any control since the front does the majority of work for that, and the lower rolling resistance and weight in the rear gave me a bit of hippity hop spring in my step. There were lots of bikers, hikers, joggers, dogs, etc...all out enjoying the day and chance to hit dry dirt for a change.
I rushed home, showered and drove back up to Des Moines for a surprise 50th birthday party. Tara and I got home and cleaned the house, did piles and piles of laundry, and got preparations under way for hosting all of my students for a BBQ tonight. I'm smoking brisket, ribs, and chicken. In fact, it's time to mop the brisket - so the rest of my day is smoking meat and getting things ready for tonight's party. This is finals week and today is off for students and faculty to prepare for the finals.