Epic Summer Memories

Summer is the time for epic rides: Race Across America, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia.  Thirty years ago, I was lucky enough to have experienced my own epic ride and am now re-living it day by day via my crushed and musty journal.  Starting in the San Diego airport and concluding at home in NY State, my dad, a friend and I pedaled, self-supported, across the USA in seven and a half weeks.

I’m glad I kept that journal; there are so many rich details I had completely forgotten which came flooding back as I re2014-07-22 15.57.22ad the entries.  Such as the family of squeaky little spotted skunks that stole our food on our second night.  Discovering quick-sand.  Making a cardboard sign that read “Vegas” and hitching a ride to get out of the heat of the desert.  Sleeping on the side of the road next to sagebrush or rocks or in a gully; wherever we could find a flat place to lay our tired bodies.  Taking a hike in the desert and discovering  a spring-fed dreamy oasis of palm trees, crystal clear cold water and blissful relief from the scorching sun.

Other things I remember clearly, such as the brutal heat of the Mojave Desert in the worst heat wave in 50 years.  The disappointment upon discovering that Joshua Trees are not in fact trees at all and don’t provide a lick of shade.  I remember the Ranger escort as we cycled through the 1.1 mile Zion National Park tunnel and the cheering crowd who greeted us as we emerged.  And I’ll never forget the eight miles of switchbacks to the top, and then 20 plus miles of downhill as we descended Wolf Creek Pass in the Rocky Mountains.

We were just three little people traversing this enormous and diverse country of ours, but in my mind, we were rock stars!  Re-living this journey day by day is giving me restless legs.  It’s been 30 years – time to start planning the next great adventure!



You Tube-less?

I pondered the merits of tubeless wheels the other day for quite some time as I pushed my flatted bike more than two miles to the parking lot.  Bottom line, I would have ended up pushing even if I had a tube due to the circumstances, but we’ll get to that.

2014-05-08 16.49.50First, why do people run tubeless?  1) It’s the newest, hottest thing.  There’s no argument against that line of reasoning.  It’s why I’m running tubeless….so I can talk about it as the newest hottest thing. It’s lighter than running with tubes.  Subtract two tubes, then add back in the sealant and you have a savings of maybe 260 grams (a little over half a lb.) depending on the tubes and how much sealant.  However, the most compelling reason is that you can run much lower air pressure (20 – 35 lbs.) and not risk pinch flats.  The lower air pressure provides more grip, especially in cornering situations.

Good stuff.  But what happens when you flat with tubeless tires?  There are a number of ways to flat no matter what you’re riding and sometimes what you have in your tool bag will determine whether you ride or walk off the trail (or even get on the trail in the first place).  Flat Scenario 1: Tubeless tires will lose air if you don’t keep your sealant refreshed and distributed on the inside of the tires.  The sealant fills in air holes, so if it’s not coating the inside of the tire, air seeps out.  If you ride infrequently you will probably have to check your sealant, and/or air up every time you ride.  Flat Scenario 2: Running low air pressure sometimes results in a ‘burp’ where the tire compresses too much and pulls away from the rim letting air escape – usually if you hit a rock or root at a funny angle.  Generally, all you need to do for this is refill with air using a CO2 cartridge and head (hand pumps generally don’t provide enough volume when you break the rim seal)   Flat Scenario 3: When you run over a thorn or nail, the sealant inside your tire should fill the hole.  If it doesn’t, you either don’t have sufficient sealant, or the hole is too big to fill.  Carry a small bottle of sealant and CO2 cartridges to make the repair.  If the hole is too big, you might need a tube to remedy the situation.

The other day I fell into scenario 3.  A rock ripped a lug off my tread creating a hole too big to fill with sealant.  Even if I had a tube, which I didn’t, I would have had to insert a boot to keep the tube from leaking out the hole.  I didn’t have a boot, or anything that would have worked such as a dollar bill, or mylar Gu wrapper, so I did what we all have to do from time to time….walk.

But I’m going to stick with tubeless, at least for now.  I put a reminder on my calendar to check sealant every 2 months.  And on my long rides, far away from civilization, I will carry a tube and a boot because I really prefer biking to walking any day.


BCB is Authorized NORCO Dealer

There’s a new bike brand in town; NORCO bicycles.  Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe not, but they’ve been in the two-wheeler business for 50 years now and know a thing or two about bikes. Diane and Andy have been talking to the fine folks at NORCO for a while, and then test rode a handful of their bikes at the SouthEast Bike Expo in March which sealed the deal.  Excellent product line, smooth operation, fine craftsmanship and great trail handling.

Bryson City Bicycles is excited to be stocking a number of NORCO bikes for great riding in the southeast, including selections from the Charger, Faze, Fluid and Storm lines.  And finally, quality crafted kids bikes for less than $300.

Also noteworthy – Bicycling Magazine Editor’s Choice Awards selected three NORCO bicycles as their 2014 category picks – the 29″ Hardtail Charger 9.1, the 27.5 Sight Carbon Full Suspension 7.1, and the CityGlide Commuter.  That’s quite a sweep for any bike brand.

Help us welcome NORCO.  Come on in and check out the brand new shipment.  Maybe your next bike will be a NORCO.

Charger 9.1

Charger 9.1

Sight- Carbon 7.1

Sight- Carbon 7.1





New trail system in Graham County

We are always interested in new places for fat tire riding. Anything from sweet, flowy singletrack to forest service roads. We’ll take the opportunity to ride on dirt over dodging cars most any day.

The folks at GREAT (Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team) in Graham County have helped open a section of trails and roads near Lake Santeetlah outside of Robbinsville.  Here is your map of the area.


Nantahala Area SORBA will be out on Saturday, April 12th at 10am to help GREAT hold the grand opening of this system.  We invite all interested riders to come out and enjoy a beautiful morning riding a trail that is light on technical, but full of fun.

This is a collaboration between the USFS Cheoah district office and Graham County, and the acceptance and use of this trail will lead to additional trail riding opportunities in Graham County.

The trail is old forest service roads that have been reclaimed and worked on to provide a level of riding that is good for most riders.

For more information, contact Bryson City Bicycles.

Tsali is in epic condition!

Went out this afternoon to see what shape winter had left the trails. A friend and I took the bikes out and did right loop. I can’t believe how good the trails are right now! The entire single track section of right loop is perfect. So buff and so fast. We did stop a bunch of times and remove tree limbs, branches, and toppers that littered the trail. In all, we probably stopped 5 times to remove tree litter. Remember, the derailleur you save may be your own!

There are the normal wet spots along county line road, so just bunny hop them. The downhill at mile 3 is still washed out and rutted, but that will be a chore for the NAS SORBA chapter to attack soon. Look for a work party to get together soon. There are two trees down across the trail, but they are pretty easy to port over, and next time we get out, the chapter will have a few new people chainsaw certified.

So, wherever you are today with all that snow and cold, come to ride Tsali. It’s better than ever.

The beauty of the dropper post

Ok, admit it. You are a gadget person. Neat stuff, these handlebar remotes. You want to easily change your bike at the press of a button. Kinda like Speed Racer could in the Mach 5.
But why do you need a dropper post? One word. Control. that’s right, you can control your bike better when you have dropper. Why? Cause it’s easier to pilot your bike if you are on the bike, and without sliding your butt off the back of the seat. So, if you can drop the level of your seat 4 or 5 inches while you are riding, you don’t have to completely change the position of your body. Changing your body geometry causes you to have too much weight behind the bike, not centered over the two wheels. Being centered over the two wheels, over your cranks, is pretty optimal for control.

So, recently I bought a Kindshock Lev post for my bike. I had installed more than a few on bikes in the past, but now I wanted one. What I like about this post is the handlebar remote, the super cool way that you can adjust the collar and where the cable attaches to the post, the fact that it is air controlled, not hydraulic fluid, and the seat mount system. You can turn the post so the cable mounting tab is out of the way. The seat mount adjusts 360 degrees so you can turn the post. Super slick. The remote lever is very easy to operate, and pretty durable looking. The cable is a standard shifter cable, so it is easy to obtain if you have an issue. The package looks and feel good right out of the box. However, the housing that covers the cable is not optimal. I immediately ditched it in favor of regular Jagwire cable housing. More flexible, easier to get the kinks out of the housing.

On downhill runs, just flick the handlebar lever while seated, and the seat drops. And, you don’t have to drop it the entire amount of travel. This puppy will stop wherever you want. I drop mine an inch or two for jumpy, flowy sections. That way, the seat doesn’t hit me in the butt when I pull the bike up for lift off. When going down bigger stuff, like stairs and drops, I depress the lever, and it drops the whole 5 inches and you can lower your center of gravity for nasty sections, like Burnt Mountain at DuPont.

When you get to the bottom, lift out of the seat, hit the lever, and the post extends to max height in a slow and controlled way. Now, you are back at optimal cross country height for pedaling efficiency. So sweet!

Flatlanders might scoff at the idea of a dropper, but I’m telling you, the ability to drop the seat out of the way, even a little bit, helps. On every technical section at Santos, Alafia, or Boyette you are scooting back behind the saddle to lower your body weight. Now you don’t have to compromise your natural balance on the bike to make your bike more maneuverable.

So, you have a cable that controls the drop. Not a hose full of hydraulic fluid. And, the cable doesn’t move. Some droppers have the cable routed to the top of the seatpost, and when you hit the button, the cable and housing move the amount of travel. So, when you drop the seat level, you get this big belly of cable which can get hung up on stuff. And no bleeding the post (like brakes) when it stops working.

The post comes in 3 different amounts of drop, from 4 to 5 to 6 inches. The diameter of the post comes in 3 sizes, from 27.2 to 30.9 to 31.6. There are external cable options, or internal options (the Lev integra) for frames that have internal cable routing.

Check them out, then order one through Bryson City Bicycles. We have some in stock and can get the rest. While not cheap, as always, nothing this cool is ever free. But, it’s still less than some of the competition.

Ride on.

Rumble Strip research project by NC State

Flyer v3 0

Click on the above flyer to learn more about the project. The Institute of Transportation Research and Education is working to understand the effect of variations of gaps in rumble strips on roads. Road cyclists of all levels are being asked for a 4 hour period to ride downhill (and get a ride back up the hill) and give their feedback on how rumble strips affect riding and braking. You need to be able to ride at speeds of higher than 20mph. The study will be in March. They have various weekday and weekend windows available. Please contact Sarah O’Brien at NCSU. Her contact info is on the flyer.

Full-on Bike Service

It’s that time of the year. You want to ride, but the elements just won’t cooperate. Maybe you ride anyway, and you find that all your components are now muddy and sluggish.

Never fear, Spokey Joe is here. Just back from his SRAM certification classes on mountain bike service, that guy can freshen up your ride for spring.

Check out this link to see what we can do to make your bike awesome again!

Service with a smile

It’s that time of the year. You want to ride, but the elements just won’t cooperate. Maybe you ride anyway, and you find that all your components are now muddy and sluggish.

Never fear, Spokey Joe is here. Just back from his SRAM certification classes on mountain bike service, that guy can freshen up your ride for spring.

Here are some of the system overhauls we suggest to make your bike better than ever–

Suspension service- Have more than 50 hours of riding on your bike since your last suspension overhaul? Haven’t had it done since you bought the bike? Well, having the lowers removed, the seals and wipers and oil replaced will make that bike ride like new again! The biggest thing I hear after we do this service is “Wow, it didn’t feel bad, but it’s AMAZING how good it feels now!” Get it done! $50 plus parts. Full rebuilds or custom tuning available as well. From replacing springs to changing cartridges, all this can be done.

Drivetrain service- Spent a season shifting and riding? Chains wear out by stretching. Rings and cassettes wear the ramps and pins and tooth profiles with torque and abuse. Now is the perfect time to place the chain, chainrings, bottom bracket, and cassette. WHY, you might ask? All these parts work as a system, and they wear at the same rate. Replace them all at the same time, and it shifts better. I can’t tell you how many times folks have replaced just the chain and brought it back because it still doesn’t shift like it should. Replace everything and it shifts like butter. We only use Jagwire cables and housing with L3 slick coating. We never suggest or use galvanized cables as they become sticky and slow in no time due to water causing them to oxidize. Reuse the housing? Not on our watch, as the housing catches the dirt and it binds to the walls of the housing. This is the time to replace cables and housing, and maybe upgrade the shifters and derailleurs, maybe to 9, 10 or 11 speed components. Prices depend on system type.

Brake service- SRAM suggest that you replace the pads, rotors, and bleed the brakes once per year. Replace the brake pads and rotors together. Whenever you change pads, replacing the rotors at the same time will ensure that your braking system continues to work. Rotors take all the heat and abuse and never get any thanks. They weaken over time, and they begin to howl in pain and frustration from lack of service. Different pad compounds wear rotors in different ways, and the brake pad residue reacts in different ways to different pad compounds. These things can reduce brake stopping power, create noise, or worse. While we’re at it, we can bleed the brakes. Those 6 mls of fluid take a ton of abuse from heat and dirt as well, so replacing that fluid will keep the brakes from feeling spongy.

Full tear down- The big daddy of service. All that water, dirt and grime lives in the nooks and crannies. We’ll take the frame down to just the metal, replacing everything that is worn or damaged. The bottom bracket is notorious for holding mud and water, and causing all kinds of creaks. The headset can be a source of frustration, where mud and water collect and never feels bad until a bearing completely fails. Retighten and align the derailleur hanger to make shifting smooth and quick. Check pivots, bearings, and bushing in the suspension to make it flex the way it should. True the wheels, bleed the brakes. $200 plus parts.

Bryson City Bicycles has a full supply of brake parts, drivetrain parts, and wipers and seals for Fox and Rockshox forks and shocks. Call to schedule an appointment now for spring cleaning!

Ready to Ride?

It is full on GO TIME! Come to the mountains of North Carolina to find winter’s last breath and rent bikes at Bryson City Bicycles. The riding is perfect right now. Tsali is in great shape, and if you are in search of intermediate singletrack, it beckons. Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is fire road, perfect for those looking for less technical riding. Check out our Bike Rentals page for all the info on our great bikes.