An essential detail of bike ownership is figuring out how you are going to transport your bikes. Transportation is especially important because it needs to be figured out before the bikes arrive!
We do not have a pick-up truck (much to Tabb's dismay) so we need a bike rack for Meatball. (My car, a 2008 Kia Sportage, is named Meatball - after the NASA logo - because they are the same blue color, and I got my car right before driving it down to Houston for my summer NASA internship.)
This post has been in the making for a while. We bought our bike rack right after we bought our bikes, but it wasn't until now that I could post the finished product... installed on the car soon to have bikes in tow!
OUR BIKES HAVE ARRIVED!!!!!!
Now, it is time for the build. They will only require a partial build - which Tabb could probably fumble through on his own. But to play it safe, we will take them to a bike shop.
Despite the excessive heat warning, it's feeling like Christmas in July over here in St. Louis! Our new bike gear arrived in the mail yesterday - LOVE free 2-day shipping! Tabb and I Facetimed so that we could open all of it "together". Everything was exactly as advertised, so we are extremely happy campers (bikers?). Tabb will need to try on his shoes when he comes home, but other than that, we should be good to go!
The only thing that hasn't been opened yet is the bike rack (bottom box). I had an appointment scheduled for yesterday at U-Haul to get a hitch installed on my 2008 Kia Sportage. Unfortunately, one of the employees broke his foot, so they had to call and move my appointment to Saturday morning. Hopefully everything goes smoothly on Saturday, and the next time Tabb is in town (early August) we will install the bike rack!
Our equipment has yet to overrun the space I carved out in the closet for our bikes. I was able to put our shoes and helmets on top of our camping gear box, tucked under the slant of the ceiling. The bike rack is pretty large... I'm hoping that it folds up nicely once it's installed on Meatball (my car) so we won't have to worry about taking it off when it is not in use, or hitting cars when I parallel park (which I now do most mornings).
We've got the bikes, now we need the gear! Let the shopping begin!!
There are quite a lot of things you need to get off the ground with mountain biking. We are trying to focus on the essentials first: helmets, shoes, pedals, gloves, bike rack. I'll focus on the personal gear for now, and talk about our new bike rack in a later post!
When looking for gear, Tabb and I have found that we like searching Backcountry.com and Amazon Prime. We've also saved a lot of money by buying colors and styles from past seasons, without having to sacrifice on the quality of the gear.
A helmet is the quintessential aspect of mountain bike safety. Nowadays, a MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) certified helmet is a must-have. Tabb and I tried to find "good deals" on MIPS helmets, but the sales we did find were not actually MIPS (thanks Amazon reviewers for the heads up!). In the end, we settled on Giro's Montaro (men) and Montara (women) helmets.
Check them out! I found a color from last season (read: discounted!) called "Black Galaxy". Cute, not too girly, not too galaxy-y, and perfect for a space nerd like me! Tabb got a "Matte Olive" one... unfortunately not on sale, but his brain is worth it! He said he is going to put decals on it to make it look like a Boba Fett helmet... more space nerdiness.
Biking shoes are not a true essential, but Robb suggested that we start off with them right away. I have SPD shoes already (for my indoor cycling classes), but don't think that they would hold up to a true mountain biking experience - especially not their pristine white color! I set out looking for more hike-worthy cycling shoes. I found the Giro's Terradura in last season's "Glacier Gray/Milspec" color (again: discounted!!). The bottoms have Vibram, which will make them perfect to hike around in. Tabb found Giro's Carbide R in "Dark Shadow/Flame" slightly discounted too. Starting to see a trend???
Here's our cycling shoe stock. Left to right: my indoor shoes, my outdoor shoes, Tabb's shoes.
You don't need gloves to have an enjoyable mountain bike ride. However, gloves will make your rides more comfortable if you decide to go on long and frequent rides, or if you have a death grip on your handlebars like a rookie (me!). I decided I wanted fingerless "mitts", and Tabb is going with the full gloves. I'm not sure which is best yet, but I like the idea of having a little bit of freedom and less warmth. Years of wearing softball batting gloves makes the finger-less gloves more exciting to me too!
Deals on gloves are pretty easy to find, and even at full-price they are relatively cheap compared to all other MTB expenses. I found a good deal on Giro's Tessa gloves - last season's "Black/Dynasty Green" matches my helmet perfectly! Tabb found some blue-accented gloves by Pearl Izumi that he liked the best! (What? Not Giro brand?!?) Tabb's are on the left, mine are on the right!
Which brand is best?
There are many brands for MTB gear. Tabb has taken a liking to Pearl Izumi and Troy Lee Designs (despite buying Giro stuff). I can't say I have a preference yet, but it is clear that I really like Giro's style. This brings me to something that has really been bugging me the last few days. How do you pronounce Giro?!? Tabb and I have had multiple phone conversations about this... wondering if it likens to the sandwich "Gyro", or if it is more of a "Gear-O". And it seems like this issue is far from settled. Maybe one day we will meet someone who works for the company and get the inside scoop. But for now, I'll leave you with this as my best guess:
Today was the day our family grew from three (Tabb, Kelsey, Declan) to five (+2 mountain bikes).
Ok, so we had rented these mountain bikes and gone on an awesome 12 mile ride the day before. We were still in the Tetons, we still had our mountain bike rentals... how could we not go on another ride?
Tabb, Angie, Paris, Gus, and I spent the day hiking out at Grand Targhee Resort. We rode the ski lift up to the top, took some scenic pictures, then descended down the mountainside like a pack of goats. Gus as our Sherpa, we continued the day's adventure by squeezing in a ride before sunset.
This ride was a lesson in bike transportation. Instead of a loop from our condo, this time we would do a point to point ride. We had 5 bikes, two cars with 2-bike racks, and 1 driver. Hmmm.... Mitch's truck to the rescue! Once Tabb and Robb got Mitch's truck, we were able to "tailgate" our bikes and drive up to Grand Targhee.
We did a short, easy ride on Greenhorn Trail. Then we got to coast down the road all the way back to our condo. It was practically an amusement park ride, with a nice breeze. Some of those miles I averaged 24 mph (a first for me!). Our excellent sherpa, Gus, stopped us at a scenic overlook where we snapped some Teton pictures. (Yes, we are all flexing our shoulders and butts in this photo, ha!) Once we got back, we touted our "9+ mile" ride... but of course, downhill miles don't count.
So how did our mountain biking adventure begin? Well, it all started with our road trip from St. Louis to Driggs, ID for Mitch and Erin's "party" reception. The whole Prissel clan made it out to "Wydaho" for the event, and almost everyone brought a mountain bike. The day after the party, Tabb and I rented mountain bikes from Mitch's shop so that we could join the mountain biking Prissels (Robb, Paris, Paige, Dillon, Gus, Boone... basically everyone except us) on their afternoon adventure.
First things first: Today - July 18th, 2017 - I am starting a blog! I don't know how regularly I will stick to this. And I can promise you that it won't be half as eloquent as other blogs out there... but I am excited to start one and to actually have something to talk about and document.
Tabb and I have recently decided to start mountain biking. As you may or may not know, this hobby takes a serious investment, so we debated it for a bit before jumping in. (Our alternative way to spend the money was a trip to Hawaii... Sorry volcanoes, you will have to wait!) I had never mountain biked before, and found myself very overwhelmed with all there is to learn. I am slowly picking up on the main details and thought, "Why not document my evolution from mountain bike know-nothing to mountain biker?" It's been a mere 3 days since we bought our bikes, but boy have things taken off! While it is all still fresh in my mind, I am going to write it down (and post-date it) so that our full journey into the world of mountain bikes is documented.
Why Mountain Bikes?
Tabb's brother Mitch owns an outdoor gear store out in the Teton Valley called Habitat. Mitch and his wife, Erin, are avid mountain bikers - and of course they are fully loaded with all the good gear! Almost everyone in Tabb's family owns a mountain bike. And they don't just own them; they actually use them... on mountains! I've ridden my share of gravel, farm dirt, and railroads, but that is nothing in comparison (more on that later). We don't live in the mountains, but here in St. Louis we are pretty close to the Ozarks, which apparently have some sought-after bike trails. So, in addition to needing to exercise more, enjoying the outdoors, being close to some good trails, being surrounded by bikers, AND having a bike expert as a brother-in-law... it was really only a matter of time before Tabb and I got roped in too!
One of the first things I learned about mountain biking is that MTB is the shorthand for Mountain Bike. Gear, trails, etc. will all be labeled with "MTB" to let you know that it is mountain bike specific. Doesn't take a genius to figure this out, but I thought it would be a nice base for my blog title, Me & Tabb Bike.