Fat Tire Fun @ Paynes Creek Trails + New Shimano Hydro Brakes

After neglecting my MTB for months … and not really giving it a good workout for even longer, I finally found a gap in the schedule to try out the trails at Paynes Creek.

These trails are located at the Paynes Creek COE Rec Area on the Georgia side of Lake Hartwell.  Jud Turpin / SORBA / COE and all the volunteers have been busy working in about 9? miles of trail into the shoreline of the lake, and I wanted to see what magic they’ve been able to accomplish.

Here’s their Facebook page link for more info.

The drive was about 1 hour from home, and with a total car time of 2 hours for a 2 hour MTB ride I can say it was totally worth it.  Coming from someone who doesn’t like the hyper-technical / rock garden / big drops / eroded trail experience but gravitates towards something with XC flow, here are some thoughts from the trails:

  • Excellent flow.  Sweeping curves that let you get into a great rhythm
  • Generally very smooth hardpack surface.  About 80-90% of the trail is devoid of crazy rocks or roots, letting you just hammer through the fast stuff if you want.  In fact I wouldn’t be afraid to ride my Cyclocross bike on these trails in a pinch
  • Great use of elevation.  The trail winds along the shoreline but combines that with towards / away from the lake, so you alternate climbing and descending as you surf the contours
  • Excellent trail design.  You know these guys have read their IMBA manual and used pro trail building techniques.  Switchbacks use a wide base, drops into gulleys are routed just right to avoid that “V” shape sharp transition, and bench cut techniques abound.

Overall these guys get a 10/10 from me.  Paynes Creek deserves comparison to Tsali, FATS and Fort Yargo State Park, some of my favorite trails in the area.  I will definitely be back.  Now if only this were closer to home…

Here’s my overall ride data (Strava Link).  I managed to squeeze in 2 hours of ride time, completing the loop twice.  It was great to go around the second time, having more confidence from the first “scouting” run…

Pictures from the day:

At the entrance to the trails.  Parking is shared with the boat ramp.


Info kiosk.  Make a donation please!


Trail map doesn’t appear to include the newest section (Heartbreak Ridge) which is across the campground road from the main trail.


The start…


Check which way you need to go…


You’re treated to this type of trail for most of the loop.  Nice visibility, good lines, hardpack…


Signs indicating direction for the newest section.


Nice views of the lake abound…


Sunset was very pretty with the leaves changing.  Running out of daylight!


Making the ride even more sweet was the fact that I had ditched my pad-rubbing / hard to adjust / impossible to bleed Magura brakes and picked up a full set of Shimano Deore brakes from Chain Reaction Cycles.  Odd that the UK online store had better prices (including shipping) than anything state-side.

I installed and set these up a few days before, but suffice to say they were absolutely cake to get right.  Pad centering is just about a brainless affair, as the caliper mounts allow for side-side play in your rotor position.


Brake feel was fantastic as well.  As I gained confidence in the second lap, I was easily managing available braking traction.  It was a lot of fun to blast into a descent and squeeze the lever, getting just enough to make the rear want to lift and then let off a bit.


If you want to save cash the Deore hydro group is the way to go over SLX or above.  You get plenty of the goodies and action but just pay a weight penalty.

First impressions are great, I’ll be watching to see how this holds up for longevity and when / if I’ll need a brake bleed.  From what I’ve read in the manuals it looks much simpler than the Magura nuttiness I had to deal with.

Let’s hit the trail again soon!




Seeing and Being seen (a short rant)

Anyone who knows me understands that I do my best to choose my words carefully (Colossians 4:6 KJV “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man”).  But I do get passionate about things, and when I feel I have to point something out, I do.

So here we go.

I consider myself an enthusiast road and mountain bicyclist.  I ride a decent amount, read about the latest gadgets, play around with Strava, and so on.  In addition, I read various blogs about bicycle law and court cases of the aftermath of vehicle drivers colliding with bicyclists.  All that to say that you would find me in the bicycle advocacy group as well.  You know, the people that you find working hard to make the general public aware that bike riders are people with families and friends.  We’re not a road obstacle to be punted off of the road.

Why then, with all this talk asking vehicle drivers to watch out for bicyclists, and knowing just how bad a bike vs. car incident can be, do we not do what we can to protect ourselves?

You just spent $2000 on a bike. How about $50 or less on a light?

I’m talking about rear view mirrors and head/taillights.  You wouldn’t want to drive without them, why do we ride without them?

Do you want to see that car coming?

Just about any group ride I’ve been on, I’ve seen precious few of these devices.  Very few mirrors.  Hardly any flashing taillights.  My game plan has always been to see and be seen.  Classic material from any Motorcycle Safety Foundation training course, just as applicable to road riding.  I can see in my rear view if a driver is moving over as they pass, or if it’s going to be a buzz (or worse).  It’s a split second choice for sure, but any day of the week I’d rather know to head for the ditch than the alternative.  Likewise, that strobe red flasher on the rear should catch their attention and maybe I won’t end up having to make the choice.

For years I’ve been rolling along with a Planet Bike Turbo Flash but I’ve decided to up the ante.  Amazon should be delivering two new gadgets to my door: the Cygolite Hotshot 2W and the Portland Design Works Danger Zone.  Look for a “review” later.  Yes, I fully intend to have both of these on the bike.  Maybe I’ll look like a noob.  But you’ll see me! 

Here’s a great review of bike lights with some must read commentary on why the author decided to embark on such a test:

Biking In LA: A review of high-intensity rear lights for improved safety, day or night

Portland Design Works Danger Zone

Cygolite Hotshot 2W

A Gift for busywife…

I had been plotting a surprise for Busywife for some time now, but she has foiled my plans.  Apparently at BikeStreet Greenville she found a 2013 Scott CR1 Contessa Team on sale for 50% off!  I was planning a birthday present in a few months but looks like birthday has arrived sooner!

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All carbon CR1 frame, all 105 groupset, 10-speed goodness with a compact front crank and even a decent wheelset for the price point.  There’s no catching busywife now!  It’s going to be a great bike for her Assault on Marion ride next year…

What was helpful in the decision is I had already had a test ride on a Cr1 and was impressed with the combination of road bike comfort and handling / power transfer.  Here’s a review of the same bike:

2013 Scott Contessa CR1 Team – Total Women’s Cycling Review

Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” KJV

Cycling with growing kids

BusyKid1 is growing.  Tricycles, training wheels and 20″ wheels are behind us.  No … now she is on a 24″ Marin MTB with trigger shifting, V-brakes and even a front shock!

Now enters another problem to be solved.  In younger days, we simply toted the kiddies along in a trailer – but she’s too big for that now.  Enter the Trail Gator:


Just one thing – Trail Gator specifically says to use only up to 20″ bikes.  So I guess I’m outside of the design parameters.  There are definitely some tweaks I had to make between the two bikes, but think this works because with my XL frame Cannondale MTB (i.e. tall bike) I can still get the ground clearance with her front wheel that the manual requires.

This is a good setup for us, so far we’ve ridden together for 10+ miles on more than a few occasions.  However it can be ungainly at moments, so as the “pilot” (to borrow from tandem terminology) you’ve got to pay attention, especially at low speeds and starts / stops.

Ultimately, for rides together, we’ll be on the old mid-80s Burley Rock N Roll I’m getting back into shape …

The effects of Multiple Bike Syndrome

BusyFamily has Multiple Bike Syndrome.  What started as BusyDad’s hobby and one bike has mushroomed into a serious disease.  Or an addiction.  Whatever it is, I (we) can quit whenever we want, and no we’re not quitting anytime soon.

With our camping adventures in a fifth wheel RV, truck bed space is at a premium and I’m not about to hang bikes of any worth off the back of a bouncing trailer.  We’ve made the front mount hitch and other random solutions work for awhile, but I finally was able to score a deal off of craigslist and put a roof rack on our trusty Ford F250 towing steed.

Some installation photos…


I should note that Yakima indicates an M1 distance (photo below) of 6″ – however this doesn’t work for folks who have cab lights installed and to use the fairing.  Unless you’d like to obscure the lights….?  I ended up using a 10″ distance – doesn’t seem to me that the rack would be any less secure in this position.

Rack specifics for our truck:


Final photos:

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Now to get a few more bike mounts…