That old cyclo-crossin' gang of mine, following a 1990s race in Fort Collins.

That old cyclo-crossin’ gang of mine, following a 1990s race in Fort Collins.

A long time ago, in a peloton far, far away, when it got to be too cold or sloppy to train on the road bike one of the Dogs would invariably propose, “How’bout riding mountain bikes on the road?”

It makes sense, if you think about it. Big ol’ tires for traction. Closer to the ground for purposes of falling onto same. Lower average speed and thus less wind chill. Add fenders and you don’t even get the deadly Brown Stripe of Shame.

So that’s what I did today. Dug up a pair of strap-on, zip-tie Planet Bike fenders for the DBR ti’ and went out for my second mountain-bike ride of 2014. That’s about two more than I did in 2013*, and it’s only Jan. 7.

This also means that five — five! — of my bikes now sport fenders. A sixth has a set, but isn’t presently wearing them. And I have an extra pair in case I feel like going for Lucky No. 7. You can’t stop me!

And to think I once lived for cyclo-cross, the entire purpose of which is to get cold, wet and filthy dirty, all at the same time. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!

*Purists will note that I rode a buttload of 29ers during 2013, but that doesn’t count. I’m talking 26-inch hardtail here. Who rides one of those in 2014? Besides me, that is?

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25 Responses to “Fenderhead”

  1. Krishna Says:

    Eventually, everyone bows to the Fender Gods.

  2. Jeff Cozad Says:

    My commuter is a Surly 1×1 with fenders, rack, and generator hub powered lighting. I’ve been on 26 inch wheels forever and don’t plan on changing

  3. Paul Says:

    Winter is my Merlin Rigid with 26″ studded tires.

  4. Derek Lenahan Says:

    My rigid Merlin has a 26″ rear.

  5. Larry T. Says:

    26″ hardtail, natch. Fenders, natch. Washed a bike in the shower, natch. Woke up this AM in Sioux City to 3 degrees F and some frozen white stuff on the ground…SoCal already seems long ago and far away. The debate “is this WORSE than an hour on the trainer?” begins.

    • Patrick O'Brien Says:

      Well, living in SE Arizona for 30+ years has turned me into a real winter wimp. Seems lately if the sun is not shining with a minimum temp of 50, like today, I start making excuses to avoid riding. What a sorry state I am in.

  6. khal spencer Says:

    Fenders keep the rear reflector and light from becoming encased in crud, thus either making you a better target or more visible, as you prefer. I’ve got the Salsa LaCruz set up with fenders, but the LHT naked at this point. I may put fenders on the LHT, but right now have 26 x 2.1 Richey Crossmax (or something) on it and that takes up a lot of space.

  7. Steve O Says:

    My thought process is, my 26″ is paid for, whilst my 29er still sits in the shop window, due to some misunderstanding concerning expectations of payment. Ergo, the 26 is what I ride at least twice a year. Sometimes I even make it past the end of the driveway.

  8. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Man … all these 26ers! They’re never gonna let us sit at the cool kids’ table.

    • Khal Spencer Says:

      Fuckin’A, Patrick. First the 39ers, now the 27.5 size. Someone is just trying to pick our pockets. 26 works fine for me on some pretty interesting singletrack. If the 29 or 27 1/2 is marginally better, so is having money in my checkbook.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        True dat. But, when you need a new mountain bike, try a 29, especially if you want to keep on a hard tail. The much smoother ride, better traction, and more predictable handling made me glad I sold the aluminum (C’Dale F900) hardtail and bought a good steel hard tail Niner. Now 650b is another story. I think that is marketing pure and simple.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        I have a dual suspension bike, Patrick. Was necessary after I herniated a disk in my lower back about nine years ago. Not sure even a 29 hardtail would work without screams of pain.

        The Stumpjumper is still a riot to ride, and I am by no means an expert or highly qualified rider on singletrack. I suspect a state of the art bike that was more dirtworthy than my Stumpy would be lost on me!

    • rodney Says:

      I, too went out on the road with my 26″ hard tail yesterday (also in the Springs) but alas I did not have fenders. Back in the day, when I lived in Oregon, we all had “rain bikes” which were dedicated fender machines — full fenders with mud flaps attached.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Whereabouts in Oregon were you? I lived in Corvallis for a few years — it was the only place I’ve ever lived where I didn’t ride a bike. Got rust all over my steel plate in that place.

      • rodney Says:

        I lived in Eugene and Corvallis. Too bad you didn’t ride there, lots of roads, both paved and unpaved, to explore and not very many cars.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Alas, at the time I was exploring the multitudinous joys of working at an afternoon newspaper, not having a girlfriend and Squirrel’s Tavern. I need to get back there with a bike one of these days.

      • rodney Says:

        That place is frozen in time — it would probably still look the same as when you were there, with the same people hanging out at Squirrel’s.

  9. Libby Says:

    Nice photo. I was thinking that you and your buds were early adopters but that doesn’t seem quite right. More like you guys were transforming the scene – introducing, organizing and racing ‘cross.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Libby, there was already a pretty decent ‘cross scene here in Colorado when we moved back to Bibleburg from Fanta Se in 1991. Much better than the scene in New Mexico, which was mostly around Albuquerque and heavy on mountain-bike courses.

      Guys like Chris Grealish, John Vickers and Lee Waldman (second from the right in that pic) were promoting races in Boulder, Fort Collins, Mead and Littleton, and I jumped right in with some races here in Bibleburg. At one point, if memory serves, we had a 16-race Colorado ‘cross series with events from Pueblo to Fort Collins.

      Back then USCF required member clubs to promote (or help promote) at least one race per year, and ‘crosses were fairly simply affairs in comparison to putting on a road event. We Mad Dogs were a lazy bunch, and the rest, as they say, is history.

  10. John Dallager Says:

    OG: I’ve two nephews who’ve successfully done several self-supported E-W, N-S, and S-N rides across the good old US the past three summers.

    They’re planning a year-long Alaska to Argentina self-supported “epic” this coming summer. Any way to connect off-line with you please for some advice and wisdom re possible sponsors, equipment, etc.?


  11. md anderson Says:

    Still loving my 26″ steel hardtail Kona Exsplosif. In fact I sold the pretty Julianna double boinger I had for a while when I realized it had hung in the garage for an entire season and was too nice a bike to not be ridden.

    My Gunnar Roadie could do with some fenders, but here in NM I don’t ride in enough wet to make the effort worth it. There was one day on the transcontinental this past summer when they would have been welcome (f**k you Michigan rain) but I’m not sure they would have kept me any drier. 122 miles in the rain is a whole lotta water.

  12. weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

    My Litespeed Obed has been converted to road/dirt road duty here as well. I took a step or two down components-wise by having to slum it with old Shimano 8 speed stuff (rather than my usual Campy parts); but this is the best incarnation of that frame I’ve ever had. Thoroughly loving 26″ wheels this winter!

  13. patti brehler Says:

    Hey, what’s wrong with riding a 26″ hard tail…I do, steel frame and NO front suspension. Truly feeling the trail. 🙂

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