Handemade Steel Mountain Bikes

November 2010

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Never thought I would write those words!  Well, some of you may have noticed by now that one of us got some silly photo filtering app for his ridiculophone.  I suspect it was Todd.  Either way, the recent stream of photos looks all old and stuff.

But let that not distract you from the fact that we had another fantastical ride in Landgraaf, in the most south-eastern tip of the Netherlands.  It was colder than cold but not too muddy and we decided to bite off another half loop since last time, giving ourselves a meaty 3 hours in the saddle.

proof that hills exist in benelux

So, Alex, Yannick, and I set off to disintegrate some Dutch singletrack.  Or die trying.  The Limburg region of Holland is known for its rolling hills – it’s where the Amstel Gold (super hilly) bike race is held each year.  So the entire day was spent grunting up little climbs and wheeling down fun little descents.  This is a very wll marked and maintained trained (yes big government!!!) and although being about 45 minutes away by car, is totally worth it.  Best riding around. 

There are 3 loops you can combine or choose from.  If you’re a real man you can bite off all 3 but it’s a huge day.  We are not real men so we did 2 loops, and it was enough.  The last effort of the day is riding up a huge hill that is the leftovers of the mining days….it’s a torturous exercise, but you’re rewarded with views, of, err…the Dutch landscape… and then some pretty ok descents to wrap it all up.

Yannick finds his groove

Aside from a problem in the first half of the day of my chain falling off (until I overcame my laziness and stopped to adjust), it was a mechanical-free day and an excellent day in the saddle.  Biggest problem with riding in Holland?  You have to drink Dutch beer afterwards. 

You're never too far away from a whole lot of concrete in the netherlands

Last night was the first of what is to be many assaults into the dark of winter night, as members of the Bronto family donned their cold weather gear and bright night lights.  This ride happened on the euro side of the globe as a motley crew of riders set out from Bronto’s dealer in Belgium Chaos Bikes.

Helmet light, check

A couple last-minute bails had us down to 4 riders, including David the US/Norway crosser, Pete and Stijn Tachelet – the Bronto Team.   Needless to say, it being the first night ride of the year, there was some last minute bike adjusting and light bracket mounting to be done.  But before too long, we were rolling.

Live by the old adage - never loan a bike that is ready to ride

Heading out from the shop, within a few minutes we were on singletrack and in the woods.  There had been an organized ride out here some 10 days ago, so I/we had some knowledge of the trails, but since then massive rains and winds had more or less wiped out the course.  Which means – like any good night ride, there was an element of being lost.  But not too bad.

Abduction? Or just lost...

David headed back a bit early and soon we were on a course that Stijn knew.  So we did a couple hot laps (Stijn enjoying his first ever ride on a single speed…he has now become a man).  Nice and sweaty, we headed back to Gino’s for a proper belgian beer and some comradery.

Next week a bigger group is set to clip in and tackle Ham’s trails.  Look for more almost-weekly night rides from Gino’s shop.  And if you live anywhere near here come and join us.

Remember this? Hanging in Gino's shop

Pete preps his tires

Coupla Brontos chillin on the wall

Stijn rode the old Spot for the night

New bits

Sexy Bronto!!

Let me start by saying that Kenda Nevegals are the best tire in the history of tires.  That’s not opinion, that is the plain and simple truth.  So imagine how crushed my spirit was when I slashed a sidewall and had to get something else, something…inferior.

I noticed Todd had mounted up some Conti 2.2 mountain kings on his 26er and thought I’d give ‘em a go.  The wide open knobs seemed like they’d be ok for the upcoming winter mud. 

At first, I was pretty discouraged – super low-volume tires and a 2.2 looked like a 1.8.  But I was at the trail head and there was no going back.  So imagine my surprise when they turned out to be ok!  Maybe not my top choice in descents with lots of loose rocks, but since all we have around here is flat dirt and mud, they do just fine.

Finally, and most important of all – fancy new grips.  ‘Nuff said.