The Equipment

Rider on mountain bike Outlaw Ranch has a fleet of mountain bikes of various makes, models and sizes. Each one is equipped with a rear rack and they also provide water bottles and helmets. The first day they choose a bike for you of the proper size and get it adjusted to your liking. The bikes come with platform pedals, but Sue was able to get them to find her a pair of toe clips (no straps) for hers.

Line of same-model cross bikes lined up next to a wall Since I assumed they wouldn't have anything in the inventory large enough for a 6 ft 7 inch (200 cm) rider, I had called ahead when I registered and they were kind enough to rent a 25-inch (63.5 cm) Fuji "Cross Town" bike for me from a local shop. It had upright handlebars, front and seatpost shocks, a kickstand and fat 700x28C tires. It also had a fat, soft saddle which I had the Outlaw Ranch staff change for me before the ride. The shop included a seatbag with a spare tube since this bike had different-sized tires than the mountain bikes that the staff were prepared to support.

Grant Peterson of Rivendell is an advocate of platform pedals. Not having your feet tied to the pedals does have the advantage that you don't have to use special shoes and you can move the foot forward and back on the pedal to relieve fatigue.

Having given them a good honest try for 4 days of riding I can definitely condlude that I don't like them. The first day in the rain I had a heck of a time keeping my feet on the pedals — they were constantly slipping off. Pedalling while standing was out of the question. The rubber-to-rubber interface between my tennis shoes and the pedal just was not providing enough friction when wet.

Even in dry weather I never felt totally comfortable pedalling out of the saddle, which I normally like to do for a few seconds every few minutes to give my butt a rest and to stretch my muscles. It also was a pain that every time I stopped I had to hook my foot under the pedal to pull it up into starting position. I think I'll stick with toe clips or clipless pedals.

I also didn't like the seatpost shock absorber on my rental bike. It would compress quite a bit whn I put weight on it, which put the seat too close to the pedals. I could raise the seatpost, but then the seat sticks up so far that I have to kick extra high to get my leg over it when mounting the bike.

I did like the kickstand for this type of riding. I used to have one on my commuter bike although I rarely used it (mainly because I would tend to forget it was there).

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