Thursday, May 2, 2024

Croatan Buck Fifty

 If you like gravel and live in the Southeastern US and haven't heard of or participated in the Croatan Buck Fifty, you have been slacking! I first heard of the race while scrolling through Instagram in the summer of 2018. I was riding my fixed gear to commute to work and back daily as well as just bombing around town. So my fitness level was pretty high at that time. I figured since the race takes place in the Croatan National Forest in Eastern North Carolina and is mostly flat I would crush it. The main event and namesake is a 150 mile race through the forest on gravel roads. But they have other options as well, like 100 and 50 miles. I signed up for the 50 and started "training". My training consisted mostly of commuting and bar hopping for what its worth. 

They did not have a fixed gear division so I just signed up for the single speed division. But I rode the race on a fixed gear. This proved a wise choice. I had so much fun bombing down the forest roads and passing the other racers. A lot of folks were dreading the section colloquially known as "Savage Road". This section was no joke. There was a lot of puddles, and you would be wise to avoid them as some were quite deep. You really had to choose a good dry line and inevitably that line would crisscross from left to right and back again. I got stuck in some traffic as the good lines were often only wide enough for a single rider. There was a fellow racer who thought he could bypass the traffic by taking a "wetter" line. That guy literally was swallowed by what I can only assume was an eight foot deep mud puddle. 

I ended up 4th out of the five 50 mile single speed finishers. Back in 2019, the race was smaller than it is now days. It also had a more laid back atmosphere, at least to me it did. Its still not very pretentious or anything and everyone I encountered was super cool. But I mean they did have free beer from Crank Arm Brewing out of Raleigh back then and I don't think I've seen that since.

2020 and 2021 saw the race interrupted due to the Covid nonsense. But by 2022 we were back in action. Class of 2022 we saw the fifty single speed swell to 7 brave competitors. I ran a lower gear, still fixed gear. The lower gear was great in the cornfield and other tough spots, but I felt really limited on many stretches of smooth gravel. But the weather was really nice and of course the race organizers did a hell of a job setting things up as we have come to expect. I ended up placing 6th out of the 7 of us. 

In 2023 the fifty single speed had grown to 14 beastly competitors. I *think* this was also the first year they had a staggered start. There were more people here for the race than I had seen before. This is great for the race organizers, the competitors, and the local economy. This year I changed things up a bit and actually ran a freewheel single speed. It was higher geared than 2022 which was helpful. I ended up in 7th out of the 14 finishers. 

2024 I had to skip for a couple reasons. One being the fifty would be raced on Sunday, meaning I would want to take the following Monday off work. When they had it on Saturdays, I just came down on Friday, ran the race, hung out, and went home on Sunday. I also just had a baby, so that kind of complicated things. I'm pleased to hear the 2025 edition will take place on a Saturday as it had in years past. I do plan on registering again. Probably going back to fixed gear, and hopefully kicking ass!

Monday, April 29, 2024

Weapon TC01

 After destroying my poor Kilo WT I needed to find something else to fit my needs. BikesDirect has been out of stock on the Kilo WTs for a while, and I am an impatient person. So I searched around various websites, shops looking for what was available.

My next frame had to be steel, allow for fairly wide tires, and be either chrome or raw finish. It also needed to be less than a grand in price.

There was a lot of decent options out there. I even considered getting a custom frame made just for me. Ultimately I settled on the Weapon TC01. The price was right. They claim it is triple butted steel in the main tubes. I have no way of confirming that as I am not about to cut the tubes to find out. It has clearance for some pretty beefy tires. It was available in a raw kind of finish too. 

I just moved most of the parts from my kilo over to it. I did buy a longer stem and black hplus son wheelset. Oh yeah and some black omnium cranks.

So far I only have a few hundred miles on it, but I'm really digging it. Currently it's setup for commuter duty. It will likely stay in this configuration until late winter. At that point the front rack will be removed and the gatorskin/thickslick tires will come off in favor of some gravel kings.

My plan is to commute and bar hop on it in this setup and then convert it to a fixed gear gravel crushing monster for the Croatan Buck Fifty next March. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Eighthinch Scrambler V2

 While preparing to sell my house I was forced with pairing down some of my extensive bicycle collection. I had two single speed/fixed gear bikes at the time. It didn't seem right to keep two of them especially since where I was moving had a lot more limited bike storage. One of my fixed bikes at the time was my beloved Eighthinch Scrambler V2. There was nothing special about it. In fact as far as frames go it was kind of cheap.

But it was the first decent fixed gear frame I built up. I rode like 10,000 miles on it. There was just something about it I really liked. I could ride a century on it and still be as comfortable as you can expect to be on a bike. The Scrambler went through several iterations over the many years we were together.

I had bullhorns on it for a bit, sticker bombed it, rode it with risers, you name it. I wore out a couple pairs of cranks on it even. There was one thing that I felt it was lacking though; tire clearance. I think the maximum I ever got to fit was 28s. So I eventually purchased the Kilo WT. And as much as I enjoyed the Kilo, the Scrambler remained my daily driver. 

One thing I liked about the Scrambler was that raw finish. After years of rain and sweat, it developed a great patina. And the nice thing about a rusty bike with no gears and no brakes is most bike thieves will pass it up and try for something more flashy. It was also cool not having any logos (headbadge fell off years ago) on it. So real bike nerds often inquired about the frame and its origins. 

Unfortunately the Scrambler has been out of production for a long time and the Eighthinch brand itself seems to be defunct at this time. Such a shame too. I would buy another of these frames without hesitation and build it up tomorrow if I could. Hell, the last time I saw them offered for sale, the frame was like $100. 

I rode this bike in several states, in all weather conditions, and made a lot of fond memories atop of it. I also made many friends along the way. But when it came time to thin the heard, I just felt my other fixed gear could do all the things the Scrambler could and more. I sold it to some dude on Facebook Marketplace. I really hope he is still riding the hell out of it and enjoying it as much as I did.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

RIP my Kilo WT

 I have had my Kilo WT for about seven years. Unfortunately, an episode of inattention has taken the Kilo WT out of my stable. I really loved the bike. It carried me many miles through many interesting places both in my personal life as well as geographically. I used it as a solid commuter, beer run bike, and race bike. 

For a short time I even had it pimped out with Profile BMX cranks, which were heavy as hell  but they added a big bling factor and were super stiff. I raced the Croatan Buck Fifty on it several times, even got a podium on it once. I rode this bike exclusively after I was forced to sell the EighthInch Scrambler. 

You might be wondering how a fairly sturdy and reliable steel frame such as the Kilo WT could have been rendered unusable. A buddy and I went for a nice ride one Saturday morning. When we got back to my place, I lazily just rested my beloved Kilo WT on the side of my truck. I went in, showered, and then wrapped up my honey-do list. A couple hours later I was informed it was my turn to cook dinner so I headed out to the grocery store. While leaving I heard a strange noise, but didn't think too much of it. 

But when I arrived at the grocery store it hit me. That noise I heard was probably my Kilo WT. I thought to myself, "Ehh, its fine, that thing is a tank. Better check the truck for any damage." As it turns out the truck was fine. But when I returned home from the grocery store I saw my bike was pretty much done for. I was heartbroken and felt like a complete jackass for running over my own bike.

The downtube was completely bent to crap. the front wheel (H Plus Son laced to Formula hub) was also toast. To make matters even worse, bikesdirect is sold out of them in any color/size. It was a sad day at dudeonabike's house for sure. As I drank my sorrows away I started looking for a replacement frame. But trying to find a decent fixed gear/single speed frame (with wide tire clearance) that doesn't totally raid my daughter's college fund is no easy task. 

Sure I could get a Squid Bikes So-EZ frame and build it up. I have all kinds of parts lying around. But that rear spacing would require me getting another rear wheel. So that option was out pretty quick. I thought about a State, but felt like that was just too obvious an option. The 4130 they currently offer reminds me much of a Squid So-EZ though.

I thought about a Mash frame, I thought about a custom build. But I went with something completely different and hopefully of decent quality.


Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Kilo WT Review After 3k Miles

 Holy cow! Its been 7 years since I updated this blog. Time just flies by. I kind of feel bad for neglecting the blog, but life has been busy. A lot has happened in this 7 year span. Gladly, one thing remains love for bikes and riding bikes. I bought the Kilo WT way back in 2017 because I wanted something that would accommodate wider tires than my Eighthinch Scrambler would tolerate. 

I never really rode the wheels that came with it, nor the bars. I pretty quickly upgraded to H Plus Son Archetype wheels as well as Nitto for shred bars. But I have steadily ticked away the miles on this bike and I've really enjoyed it. I threw an Origin8 pizza rack on the front and the bike has really served me well. 

I was going to get the chrome version, but my friend got one before I could. So I got the white one instead and its a sharp looking whip. Eventually though I think I may be ditching the chrome components and going with black wheels, cranks, stem, and bars. I think it will look much better. But for now it is a reliable ripper. I've done all kinds of rides on it. I did a couple gravel races on it and even made it to the podium once. I've ridden with friends to grab a few beers and of course commuted like a thousand or more miles on it. 

I'm convinced that for the money this frame is really hard to beat. Personally I would not hesitate to buy another if I was in need of a new bike. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Getting Cold up North

Well, the peak foliage seems to have came and went. The mornings and evenings are much cooler now, winter is clearly on the way. Due to this I have found it hard to get on the bike and go for a ride on some days. When I don't get out and ride, I can't really post on If I'm not a dude on a bike that day, now can I? The worst part is, its not even really cold yet. I've got my fixed gear setup on the trainer inside the apartment, and that is fine for rainy days and such. Still it is not as fun as riding outside where bikes are meant to be ridden. In spite of this cold, I  managed to make it out for a nice twenty mile ride last week along the Northern Rail Trail.

I've ridden this trail so much since moving to Lebanon I almost know it like the back of my hand. So when the weather was forecast to be sunny after a few days of clouds and rain, I decided to take advantage of it and hit the trail before sunrise. I wanted to catch the sunrise over Mascoma Lake. My plan was to grab a nice long exposure shot of the sailboats which are usually anchored just off the bank by the Shaker Village Sailing Club. However, when I arrived there, I noticed all the boats that used to be anchored there were now long gone and all that was left was buoys. At this point the sun was just starting to peak over the mountains in the distance.

I rode over the bridge to the boat launch to see if I could get some decent shots from there. I was treated to a pretty nice sunrise. As I sat there on the side of the lake I couldn't help but be impressed with the view that was unfolding before me. When I first arrived at the launch it was still a bit dark, but in a few minutes the sun began rising rapidly. As it rose the colors in the sky changed from blue, purples, yellows, and oranges. it was the first time I have swatched a sunrise in a loing time. It was very relaxing to just sit there in the crisp fall air and observe the lake waking up to start the day.

After that I decided to head over to a little dam that can be seen from the rail trail hoping to snap some shots of the water falling over the dam. While the light was still soft in the morning hours. It was a good spot and I liked some of the shots I came home with. The river seemed to be really rolling along due to the recent rain and I think they are draining Mascoma Lake for the winter.

I only saw one other cyclist in the pre-dawn ride to the lake. However, once the sun came out and warmed the air, the trail came to life and there were many other cyclists, walkers, and joggers. Somehow the rail does not bore me yet, even after travelling hundreds of miles on it.

Today is election day here in the good ol' U S of A. So I'm off to do my civic duty. Then I'm going for another ride, since the weather is actually kind of nice today. I have no doubt the looming winter temperatures are not far from taking hold of the area.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lebanon to Hanover and Back

This morning it was forecast to be cloudy and warmish with the clouds eventually breaking and a high of 74 F. So I felt it would be a good day to get a ride in. Guess what? The weathermen got it way wrong. Not only was it a bit chilly, the clouds never really broke and the wind was howling at around 40 miles per hour if I had to guess.

Lucky for me it was all downhill and that ferocious wind was at my back for the ride into Hanover. I had planned to try getting some cool shots of some older buildings in town or on campus and grab some shots of a couple sculptures.

A photo posted by dudeonabike (@datdudeonabike) on
I got one ho hum shot of an older library and a couple sculptures, but, not nearly as many as I had hoped. One of the pieces I had planned on shooting is in the middle of what is now a major construction project. But as we often have to, I adapted and overcame. In the end I got a few miles in and a couple of decent shots, still not getting as good of results as i would like, but I guess it will come with more practice.

On the way home I was treated to going uphill from Hanover to Lebanon on 120 back into that same brutal wind. But I made it, and it wasn't all that bad.

Tomorrow I plan on getting out again, riding more miles, and taking more photos of even better quality. Hopefully the weather guys get it right, because its supposed to be a great day as far as the weather is concerned. Will try and report back tomorrow with a ride report and some fresh photos.

Sculpture in Hanover, NH