Demos and Blingy Bits

Over the weekend I got a chance to ride some 2014 Diamondback Bikes and they were a blast.  Here’s my ride on Strava.

I took four bikes on short trips around Big Creek.  A Mason FS, an Overdrive Carbon Pro, a Mason HT, and a Sortie Black.  All were 29″ wheeled bikes.  I wish I could have gone longer but I had to get to work later that day.

The Mason Full Suspension is a new model for ’14 that Diamondback have been talking about for a while.  I was only able to get my hands on a small frame, but it was a fun bike to spin around, though a bit heavy to warm up on – especially since I was trying to keep up with my mechanics on one of their more XC oriented offerings.

When I rode the Overdrive Carbon Pro, I kept looking down thinking that I was on a lightweight 26″ bike.  I did miss my Ergon grips though.  My hands weren’t used to small round grips.

Next I took the Mason hardtail out and did the slalom run.  Once more I created another Big Creek victim.  I’ve brought four people out to Big Creek for the first time and the injuries have ranged from minor scrapes to a broken collarbone.  One of the part-timers was following behind me and tried to gap a double that  I rolled.  He didn’t make it.  This was the first time these demo bikes had ever been ridden and we’d trashed a derailleur hanger.

Lastly I did a slightly longer loop on the Sortie Black including a steady gravel climb of a few minutes.  This is where the blingy bits come in because the Sortie Black will come spec’d with a SRAM XX1 drivetrain for 2014.  This was my second time on XX1 after I first rode it at Interbike last September.  I came away again impressed with the system.   It is virtually silent and never missed a shift; plus I never felts like I was missing any gears.  I can’t wait until it trickles down to the X9/X7 level.  The bike also had Crank Brothers Cobalt wheels and a Kronolog dropper post.  Both worked great.  I love my Crank Brothers pedals and I’m glad that their other products lived up to my expectations.  When my mechanic rode this, he took a detour and said the bike gave him the confidence to barrel through a section of wet rocks that he wouldn’t have tried on his own bike (a titanium hardtail).

I hope we get the  Diamondback demo bikes through here again when I have more time and stronger legs.

Has it Been that Long?

Yes.  Yes it has.  A little over a year and a half.  582 days to be exact.  In fact, I managed to skip all of 2012 on this blog.  Here’s a few highlights of my life from the time I’ve been away.

My wife and I increased our team by one more – my little girl now has a younger brother.

My little girl got her own bike, albeit without any pedals.  She already knows she must wear a helmet to ride it and considers my swim goggles her glasses.

J's first bike!

I went to Interbike!  That was a five year goal I set for myself when I got started in the cycling industry and I’m super excited to have finally made it out to Las Vegas for the show.  However, now I’ll be sad every year when it rolls around because I now know what I’m missing.  The memory is still fairly fresh in my mind (even though it was nearly a year ago) and I’ll have to include a delayed recap soon.

I became a group ride leader for a Beginner road ride from the shop.

I started using Strava.

It’s a short list this time with big bullet points.  Despite the fact that I only added one kid, I have maybe a tenth of the free time I did before he was born.  I’m very thankful there were no more major injuries this year.  In fact, over the past few months I have picked up my running and started doing some basic body weight Crossfit style workouts, so I’m hoping to get my bad knee rehabbed to where I can run and ride pain-free for the first time in several years.

I have edited the My Bikes and Goals pages.  But I’m halfway through 2013, so I’m going to have to push hard to accomplish a few of the goals.  Most likely they’ll carry over to 2014.

There Will Be Mud!

And sand! And run ups! And barriers!

Running through the sand at the Georgia State Championship.

I have found a new love.  Cyclocross.  Now my road bike has even more reason to glare at me from its prison on the trainer.  My mountain bike is crying outside in the garage.  The cyclocross bike that I’m borrowing…she’s chomping at the bit to get ridden more.  (Sorry Kurt, but I’ve decided your bike is a girl.)

My first two races in the Georgia Cross series were done on  Frankenbike 2 after I pumped the tires a bit higher and played with the fork settings.  Here’s a quick clip of me running the barriers at my second race.

I love the advice from my friend who was filming.  “Don’t fall.”  Yeah, right.

For the GA State Championship at Ft. Yargo, I got my hands on a true cyclocross bike.  I only had five days to get used to the lack of suspension.  My first ride was at night in rainy 38 degree weather.  I came home with frozen toes, frozen fingers, and a huge smile frozen on my face.  The day before the race I did a few laps of the local beginner mountain bike trails.  I was even able to keep up with several guys on full suspension 29rs.

The race course had telephone poles, two sets of barriers, and my first sand section.  I had a blast.  The CX4 racers got to do four laps.  I cleared the telephone poles twice and nearly crashed into them on the last lap.  I wasn’t able to ride through the sand on the first two laps, so the last two I didn’t even try.  The last lap I rode alone, trying to bridge about a 15 second gap to a group of four guys that I’ve been chasing at both of the other races I did this year, but it didn’t happen.  Oh well…there’s always next year.  Hopefully I’ll have more time dedicated to training specifically for CX on my own bike.  As it is, I can say that I am the 40th ranked CX4 racer in the state of Georgia.  For anyone who is interested, here is my ride on Strava (which is a great website).

The title for this post references a shirt design from an awesome design group Stomach of Anger.  You should get the t-shirt.

Been a While

It’s been almost a year since I last updated this blog.  In that time a lot of things have happened.  They are as follows, in no particular order:

My wife and I had a little girl.

Jane

I became the store manager at the shop where I work.

My car needed a repair that would have cost more than the car did originally.

I picked up a BMX bike.

I picked up some new shoes and Speedplay Zeros.

I picked up a new frame for my wife.

I stabbed my leg with an XT brake lever during a Pivot demo.

I raced the RAGNAR Miami to Key West race with my entire immediate family (and a few other people).

Team Much Dutch

I raced the RAMBO 4 Ways in a Day race again this year and placed 6th in my division…out of 6.

On the big bike.

I stopped riding my road bike in favor of my mountain bike.

I rode my mountain bike while Atlanta was shut down because of snow and ice.

I continued to switch between clipless and flats on the mountain bike.

I was featured in two online newspaper articles.

I ran my mountain bike into the roof of my garage.  Twice.

I rode one of the most expensive mountain bikes I’ve ever put a leg over.

Nickel. Full SRAM XO 3x10, Easton Haven wheels, 130mm Rock Shox Revelation fork with carbon steerer tube, Rock Shox Monarch RT3 shock, Truvativ stem, bar and seatpost. Maxxis tubeless tires, ODI lock on grips

I participated in a trail day or two.

My plan is to start contribute to this blog more often.  Since my leg injury healed I’ve been getting outside more and that’s a positive change.

It’s alive…IT’S ALIVE!

Meet the Frankenbike. Well, technically it’s Frankenbike 2.  My old GT (now designated Frankenbike 1) has seen better days.  Most of the parts on it were already trades or donated from guys at the shop and some of the regulars that have gotten to know me.  After blowing up the second shock on that frame, I decided to swap everything over to a hardtail.  One of the guys at work gave me a ’05 Trek 4300 frame to build up, but I wasn’t too happy with the condition of the paint on it.  A few sanding blocks and one can of matte black spray paint later, Frankenbike 2 emerged.  Changing only the frame and the wheelset from my GT, the new iteration of the Frankenbike dropped about seven pounds…mostly from the frame.  Feel free to ask if you have any questions about the components.

After the first ride around my local trails, it because obvious that the FS frame was allowing me to cheat my way through some sections without a very good set of bike handling skills.  It accelerates a ton faster than the GT, but I feel like I’m slowed down by any obstacle over 2 inches tall.  I clear my front wheel just fine but don’t get the back wheel up and over as well as I previously thought I was the the GT.  Someone suggested running flat pedals would work on my technique.  So that idea, coupled with the new pump track at Big Creek has me running the bike in skate shoes, something I thought I’d never do.  Anyone else have any suggestions?

More Visual Motivators

The last post talked about my visual motivator while on the trail.  But I find visual motivators at home as well.  Think back to being a kid and plastering the walls of your room with pictures of whatever you were totally into at the time.  I’m sure it still happens – that growing collection of cycling magazines I have is kept primarily for the pictures, not the articles.  When was the last time you heard that excuse?  But these days, riders are just as likely to scour the internet for an inspiring desktop background or sweet video.  I’ve been on a documentary kick lately and stumbled across a trailer for Pedal Driven, a “bike-umentary” about the future of trail building,  often done illegally on public land.  The conflict between freeride trail builders and the US Forest Service results from differing ideas of how the US population ought to be able to enjoy public land.  Since Pedal Driven is still in production, I only have the trailer to go on, but I am definitely looking forward to the finished product.  What are your thoughts?

Visual Motivation

On the trail I play a game with myself called The Rabbit and The Fox.  No one knows I play this game but me.  I see a rider on the trail ahead and immediately I’m the Fox and they’re the Rabbit.   You’d think I would have called the game Fox and Hound or Greyhound and Rabbit, but no – Rabbit and Fox has always been what I’ve called it in my head.  I try to keep the rider in view, gaining ground slowly until I can pass them and the roles are reversed.  You know, ” the hunter becomes the hunted” or some other clichéd phrase.  Though as satisfying as overtaking my target can be, I much prefer to be the Fox.  Having that visual motivator in front of me as the Fox enables me to turn the pedals a little faster on the flats or push a little harder to get up a hill or let off the brakes a bit more while descending.  As the Rabbit, you scramble for every inch of separation you can get, often with the tiniest sound of chain slap as your only warning before the Fox overtakes you.  So watch out for the Fox behind you – you might not even know that you’re riding for your life.