Tag Archives: XC

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?

Is It the Engine or the Equipment?

So I crashed on my mountain bike a few weeks ago and the damage to my knee totally took me out of the game (both physically and here on the blog).  No running, no riding, and with the slump in activity, even my swimming felt the hit.  But I’ve started PT and hope to fix my knee for good.  And then this situation came up and I felt it was certainly worth sharing…what do you think?

Lately I’ve started coming to the realization that it’s not always about the equipment but more about the engine behind it (i.e. me and you).  It’s interesting to me, because I’m coming at it from the perspective of someone who works with the newest cycling technology every day.  My job is to convince people that the newest cycling technology will make them better riders.  And I believe it will.  Mountain biking went from rigid clunkers to carbon full-suspension 29rs to DH bikes with more than 10″ of travel.  Road bikes started about as steel and since then have been made from aluminium, scandium, carbon fiber, heck even bamboo!

But the other day I got to ride a tricked out version of the aforementioned Santa Cruz Tallboy 29r owned by one of our regular customers.  This sub-25lb. bike had everything: Edge (now called  Enve) composite wheels, SRAM XX 2×10 drivetrain, carbon handlebars and a Rock Shox XX Sid fork.  Everything, that is, except clipless pedals.  That’s right; the guy who owned this bike worth over $5k (and that’s just at dealer cost) didn’t even clip in.  After years of riding, he’d just never gotten the hang of it.  But that didn’t stop him.  His regular circuit at Big Creek would turn my legs and lungs into a lump of jelly.

A few weeks ago, pre injury, I raced in the Big Creek Time Trial Series.  I felt alright about the time, it was slower than my 4 Ways time, but told myself that it could be better if I had a newer, lighter bike.  This was confirmed when a friend picked up my bike and called over to the officials, telling them to knock a few minutes off my time because of how heavy it is for a XC bike.  Later that same week, I was talking with one of the regular customers at our shop, mentioning my plans for a new bike.  He asked what my recent lap time was and looked at me in disbelief.  Even with his new bike that weighs four to five pounds less than mine, my slow time was two full minutes faster than his best lap time.

This caused my focus to change a bit.  Instead of worrying out when I’m finally going to scrape together enough cash for my new mountain bike, I’m going to focus on improving my body using the equipment currently in my possession.  Feeling sorry that I own a 35lb. XC bike – think of it as resistance training.  Still have a granny gear on my road bike – just means I need to hit up steeper hills.  Bum knee – more time to get back into swimming and rock climbing and build my upper body while I rehab the knee.

Backyard Building

On Friday I spent a little over 2 hours working on a tiny trail that winds its way up the hill behind my house.  I’ve been living here for over 2 years and I’ve always wanted to build something that is rideable in both directions; up to build endurance and down to work on technique.  The going has been slow so far because of two primary reasons: mosquitoes and the soil.  Or lack thereof on the soil part.  A majority of the hill seems to have a ton of roots in the first inch of “soil” and a ridiculous amount of rocks buried about an inch below that, which makes any real digging on the trail almost impossible.  I’ve mostly just cleaned off the fallen leaves from the area I want to ride and packed down the loose loam with my feet or my bike.

I’m sure my trail building technique needs more refinement.  I know enough not to try to run my trail straight up or down the hill, but I’m trying to find a happy medium where the uphill part isn’t impossible to ride and the downhill section doesn’t leave me yawning.  I also know that it’s sometimes better to work with an obstacle rather than remove it.  A fallen tree about 2 feet tall caused progress on the building to slow a bit, until I was able to find enough fallen logs to ramp over the tree on both sides.  I’ve also set up a line that allows me to ride off the tree without a ramp on the other side.

As it is, I have to walk up the first 50′ of trail, because of a drop that happens right after a ladder bridge that I made out of monkey bars from an old playset.  I’m sure someone like Hans Rey could ride up it, but I prefer that section coming back down.  There is a line that could make it ridable, but that’s going to wait until after my trail makes it to the top of the hill. Because of the drop, and a hard-packed path on the last little hill, I get to fly around the last corner with my rear tire skidding like I’m some crazy DH racer.  The wife says I should end my run further away from the house, worried for my sanity as I drift through the off-camber turn.

Big Creek Race Report!

My first mountain bike race happened two weekends ago and it was quite a race.  As I’ve said before, the Big Creek 4 Ways in a Day race combines XC trails, an uphill climb, a DH run and a Slalom run.  The King (and Queen) of Big Creek is the person with the lowest combined time.  The shorter events are weighted so that you can’t just run away with the XC course and survive the remaining events.  You have to be a well rounded rider.  Some people brought two bikes to to take advantage of gravity – either going uphill or downhill.

The morning started a bit brisk around 40 degrees.  The riders signed in and had a choice: hit the trails early for the first lap or wait until the last minute and hope the temperature warmed up.  I chose the former since riding around the concrete Greenway was freezing my fingers. The riders were starting at 1 minute intervals when I took off and I managed to pass two riders and only get passed by one, so I felt pretty good even though it took half a lap to warm up.  I didn’t have to get off my bike in either of the two sections that have been giving me problems lately.  That was an accomplishment in itself.  While I prefer the first direction we went, I knew from past laps that the counter clockwise direction is faster due to long, slow uphills coupled with steeper downhills.  Fully warmed up, I pushed hard on the second lap, again passing two people and getting passed once, despite starting at 30 second intervals for the second lap. 1 way down, 3 to go.

With the second lap finished, it was time for the El Scorcho climb.  It’s 700 linear feet with around 150 vertical feet of climbing.  While this might not sound too tough, it was a newly cut trail, so the ground hadn’t packed down much and there was evidence of rear wheels spinning out after each switchback.  On my 14 year-old 35lb bike, just getting up the hill is tough enough.   The race officials were estimating a little under two minutes per run and I finished in 1:48 with a loud grunt and no dabbing.  The eventual winner beat out two guys on cyclocross bikes with a time of 1:03.

The race was halfway through and it was time for lunch. The RAMBO folks cooked some tasty (and giant) burgers.  A few shops were there offering neutral support and I got a chance to drool over some new Niner bikes.

After lunch was over, the real fun began with the  DH and Slalom events. The sun had climbed higher and the weather was perfect for the competitors and the spectators.  Finally, the weight of my bike was going to pay off.  Being the only person running DH with V-brakes was a little intimidating, butI was totally focused by the time my countdown started.  I narrowly avoided clipping a tree and a 2 foot drop on the first run and felt way more confident on my second run.  Slalom was more fun, since I didn’t have to worry about any major drops and there were some massive berms to carve through.  I rolled all the jumps and ended up a respectable 4th place in the Beginner division.

I returned to the starting area and watched the crowning of the King and Queen, grabbed my sweet pint glass and headed home with my first mountain bike race in the bag.

Rejoice – DST Is Upon Us!

This past weekend marked the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in Georgia.  While it’s now light out until almost 8pm, we’re still stuck in monsoon season.  Every day I eagerly check the weather report only to find that my days off always manage to coincide with the days it rains.  Needless to say, my training for the 4 Ways in a Day race has been severely limited, especially on the downhill section.  I was confident with last years race line, but this year they’ve mixed up the route and made it more aggressive, even for the beginner class that I’ll be racing in.  As long as the weather cooperates, that is.  I already know I can’t get time off for the make-up rain date in April.

Superman or Dead Man?

I recently started training for SORBA-RAMBO’s 4 Ways in a Day time trial at Big Creek.  The 4 ways are XC (in both directions), Downhill, Slalom, and a brand new 750’ long climb with an average slope of 14% called “El Scorcho”that’s nestled in the heart of the freeride section.  Today I was able to ride the downhill, slalom, El Schorcho, and the XC trail in the clockwise direction.  I rode for an hour and a half with about 50 minutes at what I consider to be “race pace” after the dismal winter we’ve been having.  The XC tried to kick my butt and I need to knock off 5 minutes off the time I recorded today to be competitive in the race.  But the special thing is there’s a King of Big Creek division for anyone who does all 4 ways.  Last year there were only sixteen people who competed in the King category, so I’m hoping to put the hurt on some people with my 14 year-old GT.  I just hope I don’t break my bike before the end of the month so that I can knock one of my 2010 goals off my list early in the year.

On a whim I decided to wear my heart rate monitor and I was averaging 174 BPM.  I know I need to get this number way down for my regular rides, even with the race pace riding I was doing.  But the big surprise when I got done riding was my max HR of 245!  I must be Superman, because that would have killed mere mortals.