As I mentioned last whatever, I have decided to take my Jones LWB* with me on my summer vacation this year. This is a tremendous honor for the Jones, though I do worry that it may have sown resentment among my other bicycles, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I go into my Bike Vault one morning only to find the Jones’s tires slashed and a Rivendell rolling its eyes innocently skyward despite the Stan’s splattered all over its artisanal cotton luggage. See, it was the A. Homer Hilsen I took with me last year, and I was so happy with my choice that I planned to so again this time around, until recently changing my mind:
It may look dainty and genteel, but it is more than capable of killing.
Anyway one reason I’m taking the Jones this time is that as I incrementally explore a little bit more of our vacation spot each year I want a little more off-road capability to go deeper into the “wilderness.” (Keep in mind that, for me, “wilderness” is any parkland where you’re ever more than 10 feet from a water fountain.) The very first time we went up there I took the Milwaukee and dove right into the woods, and promptly found myself under-biked:
Subsequently I stuck mostly to the road, since even if you get lost on the road you can always keep pedaling, whereas exploring the trails can involve a lot of walking, and the last thing I want to do on my vacation is spend my precious riding time on foot. I mean come on, if I liked walking around in the woods I’d just skip the bike altogether and take up hiking:
First you get off your bike to walk a difficult section of trail, and the next thing you know you’re comparing the vertically stiffness and lateral compliance of various crabon fribé walking sticks.
At this point however I’ve become more familiar with the local terrain, and the Jones will allow me to check out some of the trails that had thwarted my earlier skinny-tired attempts. Up until now, I haven’t done much accessorizing with the Jones, since I mostly use it to string various local mountain bike trails together:
So in anticipation of our getaway I did a little shopping, and this weekend I made it into a bit more of a rambler:
For example, I added a mount for my ELEMNT BOLT, so I don’t have to keep stopping and looking at my phone like a schmuck:
I also wanted to be able to carry a little food and some extra layers in addition to the usual complement of tools, so after looking around I decided on the Hopper Frame Bag from Revelate:
The idea behind this bag is that it fits on full-suspension bikes, but I liked it because I wanted a frame bag that would still allow me to keep my main water bottle in the traditional “Fred” position. Also, it’s reasonably priced, yet seems very well made and has a nifty buckle that allows you to open and close it easily while riding. Now, between the Jones handlebar purse, the saddle bag, and the frame bag, I should be set for anything short of a multi-day bike tour, which is not something I’ll be embarking upon any time soon.
Since I’ve been using the Jones primarily as a “mountain” bike it made sense to equip it with clipless pedals. (I still prefer them for hopping over logs and that sort of thing.) However, one of the best things about bringing the Rivendell with me last year was that I didn’t bother packing bike shoes and Lycra and all that other stuff; plus, I’m not going to be “mountain biking” so much as riding the sorts of macro-gravel trails you see above. Also, I’ve been quite happy riding in flip-flops this summer, and I saw no reason to force my little piggies into a sty on my vacation:
Still, after doing a fairly decent mixed-terrain ride in flip-flops the other day I was forced to admit I could do with a little more heel security and a sole that was less mushy. Therefore, I decided not only to equip the Jones with flat pedals but also to upgrade my sandal situation.
In the bike world, there are lots of people with lots of different opinions. Some of those opinions are highly objective (they’re opinions after all) and some of them are downright stupid. However, there are certain people whose opinions I’m inclined to trust, and when it comes to riding flat pedals in open-toed shoes, I doubt there’s anyone more qualified to offer advice than this guy:
So I took his advice and got some Crank Brothers Stamp 2 pedals:
As well as some Bedrock sandals–though not before trying on a bunch of other sandals at a certain popular outdoor recreation store, all of which were lacking in some way:
In particular, I like that they have a thingy that goes between your toe as opposed to a lateral strap or one of those weird toe-loop thingies. Also, they’re Vibram soles, and the footbed doesn’t have the crazy undulating arch support some other sandals do, which I’m not crazy about. After riding in them this weekend all indications are that the bearded bastard knows both his flat pedals and his sandals. (I should add the pedals have a nice stable platform and feel quite grippy.) I even took a little turn through the forbidding Trails Behind The Mall, and while I certainly can’t say the flats-and-sandals combo beats clipless pedals and mountain bike shoes for riding over logs or up rocky climbs, it wasn’t that much of a liability either, and for everything else it was perfect. I do reserve the right to my opinion once I get poison ivy on my feet or bash my toe on a rock, but in the meantime I’m feeling quite good about it.
Finally, my new policy is that any bike with flat pedals should also have a kickstand, and thanks to Grant Petersen I already had one of these Soma bike-leaning apparatuses ready to go:
I’m now confident in saying I’m ready for anything vacation might throw at me:
Provided it’s thrown relatively slowly, of course.
*[Jones LWB and SWB completes appear to be back in stock with updated spec, which is a total coincidence. This is not a concerted effort on my part to time Jones content with Jones availability–though I will unabashedly tell you to buy one, because they’re great bikes.]