ESI RCT Wrap: First Blood

ESI RCT Wrap: First Blood

9146g8ituul-_sy550_I recently decided to bring my Salsa Fargo out of retirement, the poor babe has been hanging on the basement wall for over a year with no rides.  It needed a tune, some cleaning, was getting some new-to-it wheels from the Warbird (which was getting sold), and it definitely needed new bar tape.  I had been running the same orange Lizard Skinz 2.5 tape on the Ragley Luxy bars since the bike was built up brand new, and it was pretty ratty looking after a lot of gravel miles logged back in the day.  I run Lizard Skins on all of my drop bar bikes, it’s has a lot of strengths, but it is time for a change.

75858224_owijka-road-grips-rct-wrap-esi_1471x1080_trs_pad

ESI’s RCT comes in an array of colors to match most builds/tastes.

When building up the Mukluk last year, there was a bit of a grip conundrum.  What grips would work best on Jones H-bars while running a Rohloff Grip Shift setup?  After some intense research the ESI Super Chunky silicone grips seemed to be the best for the application at hand.  After a few hundred fat biking miles, they have proven to be tough, comfortable, and look just a good as they did on day one.  They also come in crazy colors, and ESI will even put together custom color combinations.  Did I mention that all of their grips are also made in the USA?  Big bonus.

So… when it came time to choose new bar wraps for the Fargo, taking into consideration the needs of a rough-service bike packing setup, I thought it was time to give ESI’s RCT (Road, Cyclocross, Triathlon) bar wraps a try.  They are 100% silicone, reversible, and are available in the same selection of colors as ESI’s MTB grips.  I have high hopes for the RCT.

IMG_6255

ESI RCT wrap on the Fargo, Silicone Tape on the Aero Bars. 

Wrapping the bars with RCT is a breeze, since they are reversible there is no “tape side” paper to test your sanity (my messy shop floor is also thankful for this), and you can stretch or not stretch the wrap to fit the thickness needed at each hand position/bar bend (LS advises against stretching their tape, regular cork can slide around when not stretched enough).  The bevel in the tape gives you a close-to-exact guide for wrapping also, so it’s even easier to get a nice, even look.

The kit comes with two strips of ESI’s self sealing Silicone Tape (seen here also being used as wrap for the aero bars) to finish off the wrap job. It’s a nice touch, as most companies give you that weak ass branded adhesive strip that usually ends up on my shop floor in favor of the old classic electrical tape. I’ve used this silicone tape to secure dyno hub wiring, wrap parts of frames to guard against chipping/damage, shimming light mounts, I would strongly recommend keeping a roll or two around your home shop, it’s as invaluable as electrical tape without all the tape residue.

 

First Impressions Bullet Point List of TL,DR:

  • RCT has a slightly thicker, more comfortable feel than other wrap.  After the first 200 miles of mixed surface use, it has kept my hands happier than before.
  • It retains all of its grip in rain.  Last week I purposely rode through torrential downpour conditions to test, and RCT more than passed the…uh…test.  Part of the rain test was over some very sketch paved trail to dirt construction zone to trail to dirt, and maintaining control through these abrupt and wet/muddy changes was no problem at all.
  • I personally dig the matte finish of the wrap. It blends in more readily to the hoods of the shifters.  It’s also real stealthy, which is extremely important.
  • RCT is reversible, so you can conceivably cause wear to one side (or dirty up the brighter colors in the line), then rewrap the bars leaving them looking fresh AF.
  • Silicone Tape instead of usual crappy strip of branded tape to finish off the bar wrap job. A very nice touch.
  • Price is in line with other premium brands.
  • The supplied bar end plugs actually stay in the bar ends. Mind blown, really.
  • EASY TO INSTALL
  • MADE IN THE USA
  • Did I mention that it’s comfortable? Settling in to the bars for the first time was like a true “baby bear’s bed” moment.  I didn’t expect the comfort level to be that high.

 

I’m looking forward to tearing these up for many hundreds of miles to come, I’ll let you know how things go!

 

CNB

Disclaimer: CNB purchased this product for personal use and testing, and has in no way been compensated for any writing regarding this product*.

*Disclaimer Disclaimer: The preceding disclaimer was in no way CNB fishing for free stuff, or any other type of compensation. Wink.

CIRREM MIC DROP

You’ve all had the chance to read about my dropping out of CIRREM at the checkpoint, just 20 miles before the finish. You’ve also had a chance to read about my health/weight issues and how that is going.  What you HAVEN’T seen is the super classy video of me dropping out of the race that beautiful Saturday. Without further ado, here is the unedited video of yours truly (at about 310+ lbs) dropping out of a race at mile 45. Enjoy.

Sam, CNB

Favorites: J-Paks GravelPak

I’ve been a frame bag user for quite some time, using Revelate full frame and Tangle bags on my gravel/fat/mountain rigs, and a sweet Porcelain Rocket custom frame bag (thanks to my deer friend Zen Biking), on my Ti Fargo. I’m a big fan of these convenient packs, but I have one problem. I’m a pack rat and my frame bags end up looking like something out of “Hoarders, Bike Edition.” The “map compartment” side is usually stocked with old cue cards from races past, random keys or mud scraping devices (aka ti tent stakes), licorice ropes, batteries, empty gel packs, and the main compartments are a collection of mini pumps, ancient granola bars, lighters, expired gel packs, gas station trinkets, a goddamn red clown nose (???), crushed beer cans, and it just goes from there.  Basically, my frame bags become a rolling landfill. Pretty rad.

IMG_5412

The J-Paks Gravel Pak on my Salsa Warbird Carbon Gravel Rig Of Doom

Enter my new favorite bike thing: the GravelPak from J-Paks. I picked one of these up a few months back, and it has become my go to for bringing along anything I need on a ride. It’s similar in shape to the ubiquitous seat packs you see on most bikepacking rigs, but it’s smaller and less unwieldy than it’s larger brethren.  There is enough space for a tool kit, phone charger, base layers/jacket, extra gloves/hat (I always carry spares, especially in the cooler months. I like to change out these items about half way through a ride), some food items, maybe even an extra water bottle or can of beer if you feel so inclined without taking up frame space, and you hardly notice the seat pack. Somehow the GravelPak also lends itself to repacking and keeping things organized, and since it is a roll-closure and not something you simply unzip and toss crap in, you are less likely to pack rat away all of those cool (useless) gas station finds.

dsc01762_psd

GravelPaks in the not so wild. Image ripped off from jpaks.com

The Gravel Pak is great for switching between bikes, its two clipped straps for the seat rails and one very secure velcro strap around the seat post can be easily popped/undone and moved to whatever steed you are riding today. You can have your “winter kit” on hand and move it between your gravel rig, fat bike, whatever bike, and with so much less hassle than undoing 400 velcro straps you find on frame bags.  You can use a regular seat pack for things like this, but the J-Pak bag is like the “Baby Bear’s Porridge” of short to medium range riding. It’s just the right size.

17050247

Hey! Hooman! Paws off my #$%&ing porridge!

Due to the ever changing Iowa winter weather, I have been using this bag between my road bike, my gravel bike, a single speed, and my trusty Mukluk with no problems at all. It’s a sturdy build that shows no signs of wear after over 500 miles of mixed use and many bike swaps. I’m looking forward to a good spring of many more miles with this bad lad, and to maybe picking up a few of J-Paks other offerings from their J-Paks Shop.

IMG_5335

J-Paks GravelPak on my trusty road bike outside Jamaica, IA

IMG_5224

And here it is on the trusty Mukluk. (Thanks, DMPL, for gently shoveling around my steed)

Yeah, that’s it. No crazy stories, just a solid piece of kit that will keep you organized in your travels, and transfers easily between bikes.  Kudos, J-Paks. Thank you for the righteous gear.

Sam, CNB

Really? Cyclocross?

Hey strangers, it has been a stretch since your interweb gateway doormat was soiled by an entry from yours truly. Well, at least something written about cycling, that is. Some of you may catch me at my regular, food related blog, and that’s very nice of you.

Thank you for your support.

Today marks a return to cycle-tensive writing and the end of my commuting-only riding problem.  It really stinks when you ride over a hundred miles a week, then realize there wasn’t one single mile of riding dedicated to just getting out there and feeling the breeze blow through your beard (or whatever other head-anchored hair apparatus you sport). I am not talking of the plight of the forever-training-roadie, but of the career commuting cyclist.  Between working, catering, lawn care, home upkeep, bike maintenance, and beer, the twice a week gravel ride and once a week bar run ride have gone by the wayside.  SHIT. This is why you haven’t seen any ride recaps here, which would go a little like this every day:

Got out of the shower today and donned my favorite fat-guy Mount Borah MTB jersey, place my beloved cell phone in a baggie, then placed the phone and baggie into my left jersey pocket.  I then looked at the heap of bikes that occupy what was probably used as a breakfast nook at some point before my arrival.  Hmmm….I chose _________ bike, checked the tire pressure and chain lube condition then the kitchen crapped me and my chosen steed out its back door and into the world. I hung a left at the end of the drive and rode Adams St. to the GWT, tood a right and started hammering towards Des Moines proper.  I encountered blah blah blah….

You get the idea.  This is every day of the week for the most part and once in a while there will be some highlights such as the day I was passed and dropped by a guy wearing a broken leg boot (in my defense, I was carrying a ton of catering items in my bags). And the day the old guy in knee high tube socks and dirty tennis shoes on a semi-nice Specialized road bike rode right past me (I sometimes get irritated upon hearing the classic “on your left”).  And all of the days I ran into friends at the lean-to on the way to work and had to stop for a beer (one of the reasons I leave early for work).  And the numerous times I tried to ford the waters of the flooded George Flagg Parkway (if you ever see a bearded man carrying a bike through knee-deep flood waters while laughing hysterically, that’s me).  And that time this guy on a carbon road bike invited me to climb up Park Avenue from the trail, even though I was riding a track bike and explained I wouldn’t really be able to keep up, so he just dropped me, not by much, but never just slowed down for two minutes for me to catch up and continue the conversation we were having.  Or that time I saw a racoon hanging out with a small deer.  Or the time I was helmet-buzzed by a hawk. Ok, so there are some interesting times, but they all end with me in clogs chopping shit on a cutting board (or eating tacos), and the ride itself is monotonous after the last 9 months.

You should get it by now.  I ride every day, but long for the days when riding my bicycle was for used for fun, long rides to uncharted-by-me territory and not strictly for the old in and out (of town).  So today I actually had a little free time and went for a sorely needed gravel ride.  32 miles of Prime Central Iowa Gravel and a nice brutal Level B road thrown in (twice) for some spice.  It was a great time, and solo gravel riding is very conducive to introspection.  Visions of different bar/brake lever/shifter setups on a few of my bikes, what mtb shoes to buy, and other similar shopping thoughts dance through my head, then passed and settled into planning.  Planning and plotting ways to free up my schedule for more fun rides.  Then it came to me, like in that movie Total Recall, a faint memory of a late night conversation with my good friend Bob hit me like a ton of bricks.  He is convinced that I should race Cyclocross this year, and shit yeah I am in.  What could be more fun than getting muddy, drinking beer, and possibly getting slapped in the face with a Summer Sausage while riding, running, and slogging your heart out?  I think I just heard a cowbell in the distance!

Watch out, Iowa Cyclocross, you just got yourself a new last-place Cat 5 finisher!

This is what I call TRAINING!

Pink House Gourmet Gravel Grinder 2 – June 27th!

image

It’s (past) time for another Pink House Invitational Gravel Grinder, and time for a name change. We are dropping the “invitational” aspect of the ride as it seems to have made the ride seem too “exclusive” and some riders may have missed out. (Actually, if you weren’t at #1 you definitely missed out on a great time!)

Here’s how it’s going down: we meet at the Pink House (2184 Adams St, in Orelia one stop south of Bambinos on the Great Western Trail) at 10:30 am Sunday, June 27th. We will be departing around 11:00-ish to ride 50-ish miles of South Central Iowa’s finest gravel until we land at the Almighty Cumming Tap for some beers and some food prepared by yours truly and Bob Of The Tap. After the festivities are through, those parked at the Pink House will ride the 2.5 miles back and enjoy a little pink house time.

For your consideration:

This is a FUN RIDE and not a race, although the pace may be a little faster than your average fun ride.

The ride is BYOB for the road, cash bar at the Tap.

We will be putting in some miles, so I encourage you to come prepared with the proper liquids and nourishment for the conditions. We can always adapt the route to hit a convenience store if absolutely needed.

This is a self-supported ride and all riders are responsible for their own well-being.

With that said, if you do not have gravel experience or are “not into hills” this isn’t the ride for you. Some of the roads get a little hairy, even dangerous for inexperienced riders. I do not want people getting hurt! Getting hurt usually isn’t fun!

All riders planning to attend please RSVP to me at sdauen@gmail.com by the 25th (or just show up).

Let’s Grind That Gravel and work up an appetite!