Duluth Mountain Biking

For the weekend of the Fourth, we loaded up the Family Truckster and schlepped the whole family to the Duluth area to spend time with family. Given the duration of the stay, this was a great opportunity to partake of Duluth’s singletrack. I went up there with the intent of riding Hartley, Lester Park, and Piedmont — I simply couldn’t ride everything in one go.  Well, maybe I could have, but I had other plans up there as well.

The Gear

For the bike, I was riding a full-rigid steel 29er. Nothing super-fancy. I took a spare cog with me, given the hilly nature of the area, so I was equipped with a 32×16, which was my usual, and and 32×18 as my “oh shit hills” gear. Other than that, typical Camelbak, spandex, helmet, etc. Nothing outside the norm for a mountain biker.

I was going to spend the first half of the Fourth of July out riding the trails. So I woke up early, discovered that my 18-tooth wasn’t going to work with the chain length on the bike, but I said “fuck it” and went and rode anyway. Gearing be damned!

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Review: Shimano SH-M310S

Background: I bought these shoes because I have a history of foot injuries stretching back almost two decades, to my time in the army, and my last two seasons of cyclocross have both been curtailed by sprained feet. Historically, I’ve used the same shoe for ‘cross racing and commuting, an older Nike model, paired with Crank Brothers pedals. Prior to the Nikes, I had a pair of Pearl Izumis that I picked up for cheap during my days working in customer service at REI. With ‘cross season fast approaching, I opted to give Shimano’s heat-fitted shoe a try as I’ve loved my R300-series road shoes (not heat-fitted) for the past couple of years.

The shoes, like high-end ski or snowboard boots, are custom-fitted. You acquire the correct size, and then you work with a bike shop employee to have them fitted — a process involving a small oven, plastic bags, and a vacuum pump. This, actually, proved to be the only real snag in the ownership experience.

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