The DIY Hunter

Glassing for sheds with Vortex Razor HD 10x42 binoculars.

Testing some Vortex Razor HD binoculars while on my second trip out shed hunting with my new 36h MTX-33 29er wheels.

heavy duty 36h 29er wheels. Sun Ringle MTX 33 36h rims, Shimano XT 36h hubs

All mounatin, heavy duty 36h 29er wheelset. Sun Ringle MTX 33 36h rims, Shimano XT 36h hubs and WheelSmith double butted spokes... and six white spokes laced in for my own personal custom flair.

Young moose while shed antler hunting.

This is a welcome sight. I don't see as many moose around as I did in years past.

My first elk shed for the year.

My first elk shed for the year. Unfortunately a whitey instead of a brown but still fun to find.

Tire clearance 2.25 Pyscho Genius front derailleur 2011 Trek Cobia

Clearance of about 3/16 of an inch between the front derailleur and the 29 x 2.25, Tioga Psycho Genius tires on my 2011 Trek Cobia 29er.

2011 Trek Cobia mtx33 wheels and elk shed

Back to the bike with a 5 point elk shed antler after hiking around a little looking for sheds.

In the middle of Dallen's rifle deer hunt I really messed up my knee. After two month's of crutches to get the crushed tibial plateau to heal I had lost a lot of strength in my left leg. I started doing as many exercises on my legs as I possibly could trying to get in shape enough for our cow elk permits. Unfortunately my knee was just messed up. I barely made it in for the two trips we made up on the mountain to fill Dallen's, Weston's and my cow elk tags. 

After the last trip up the mountain I could hardly walk. My knee was so swollen and in a lot of pain. No amount of exercise was going to help — I knew I needed another surgery. Dr. Harrison went in and cleaned out a bunch of fragments of cartilage that was floating around and he trimmed /smoothed out some area and I believe even some of the bone needed smoothed out. When I got hit last fall it really messed up my knee. Luckily I had on my custom fitted DonJoy Defiance Knee Braces or who knows what could have happened. Whatever the case my knee is doing better now. This now make six surgeries that I have had on my knees.

Since I have such horrible knees I am no longer able to jog to stay in shape. I rely heavily on my mountain bike to keep me in shape. I have been riding a 2011 Trek Cobia 29er with a 23 inch frame for the past two years. It's a big bike, for a big guy (6' 7" - 260 lbs... yeah, I'm a heavy rider) and I love it. I have had some trouble with spokes breaking on this bike. Being such a large guy the straight 15 gauge spokes that these bikes come with easily snap at the J-Bend when I torque down on the peddles. I have solved that by replacing the straight 15 gauge spokes with WheelSmith double butted spokes with 14 gauge on the ends and 15 gauge in the middle. These spokes have done the trick. I'm not sure why Trek would sell such a large framed bike with the smaller gauge spokes. Large frames usually mean larger riders...

Even thought the double butted spokes are working for me on the 32h Bontrager rims I have never been real satisfied with the durability of just having 32 spokes on these large 29er wheels. For instance whenever I ride through a rock garden I can't help but feel an unnerving flex to the wheels. Since I ride a lot on the road to stay in shame I decided to build a really beefy set of wheels for the mountain and keep my Trek wheels for the road.

My all mountain wheels are built with Sun Ringle MTX 33 rims that have 36 holes, not the standard 32 or 28 holes that most mountain bikes have now days. This is also an extra beefy rim used for downhill bikes that are jumped a lot. I won't be jumping, but I do like and demand the extra strength. Again, for these wheels I went with double butted spokes and to add my own flair to them, I laced in 6 white spokes giving the wheels the appearance of three white lines. For hubs I went with Shimano XT 36h hubs. These hubs are pretty nice but I prefer Sun Ringle hubs and Sun Ringle doesn't offer a standard j-bend quick release 36h hub so Shimano it is.

Finding 36h 29er rims, and 36h hubs are not the easiest. There are only just a couple of options. Almost everything out there is 32h and 28h variety. I understand the craze for going lightweight but I'm not racing and I weigh in at 260 lbs right now. I want wheels that are going to stay true longer, not flex in the rocks and not snap spokes.

For tires I decided to go with 29 x 2.25, Tioga Psycho Genius tires. Going with a 2.25 is about as wide as I felt comfortable with getting enough clearance with the front derailleur.

My first trip up the mountain looking for shed antlers with the the wheels and tires was awesome. I really like them. The Psycho Genius tires provide excellent traction and stopping power. No wheels flexing on the rocks and the tires grabbed the ground well. I was surprised how they would grab the sides of truck tire ruts and pull me out of the ruts or keep me from sliding into them.

I've had these wheels out many times since and had just loved them. They are still as true as when I first built them and no fear of getting broken spokes. :)