Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in Pictures

Through some incredible highs and lows this blog has been a cathartic creative outlet for me.   Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more rambling posts, random images and self-deprecating stories in 2012. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Distraction, Procrastination and Projects

In between work, Christmas shopping and some occasional relaxation I've been making my way back into being an athlete.  Last week I got in four workouts in a row- some on the rollers, some running the river loop, but all quality.  Fortunately this time of year I can be unstructured, and I'm trying to use that to my advantage.

Riding over Christmas was a bust.  After fighting to stuff the RSL into the trunk with all of the clothes, presents and miscellaneous stuff for our Christmas trip I felt like I had to actually go for a ride.  I got off to a slow start after fumbling around for most of the morning, but I did hit the trail head with the intention of riding for about 2 hours.  After 40 minutes of riding I got a sidewall cut that I couldn't repair with my frozen CO2 cartridge and walked 4 miles back to the car.

During that walk I realized my current set of mountain bike shoes really suck unless you're clipped in and pedaling smoothly.  Had I known they were going to suck so much I would have taken my chances with some Sidi replacement lugs and JB Weld on an old pair of road shoes.  That may end up my solution if I can't line something more substantial for next year, and so far it doesn't look good. 

While looking into my pageviews last week it appears that the snowboard tuning bench setup I made for Carrie is getting some traffic- if you're looking for that post you can find it here.  It's interesting given that I only really gave that passing mention in the post, but if you have some ambition and a couple 2 x 4s it's pretty straightforward.  What's also interesting is that I end that post by rambling about how I should really put some time into getting the Redline ready to ride.  Funny how some things never change. 

I've been contemplating an order of Pro-35 hoodies.  Artwork would most likely be similar to the earlier t-shirt run, though I may change the location of the print.  In case you forgot, this is what it looks like.

I'm considering a slight color change that's in keeping with the 90's-era Mavic pallet seen above.  That means I might swap the pink for the green found on the Mach 2 CD rim shown below, but the jury is still out on that.

Unfortunately there is no shortage of things to spend money on this time of year with ski gear, cycling season pre-orders, and the various winter costs of extra fuel and propane just to keep things interesting.  This idea might not get off the ground, but the t-shirts were a hit so I'd like to do something long sleeve to go with them.  I might do zip up rather than pullovers, but there again it depends on cost, and if I can't get afford quality shirts I'm not going to do it.

For some 'cross season is still rolling, and the remarkably mild fall and winter have made that exceptionally easy this year.  Embrocation has some really cool 'cross articles including an interesting recurring feature about Jeremy Durrin found here.  It's worth a read as it's not just the usual "I went to Belgium and got my ass handed to me" race report that you find from Americans racing in Europe this time of year. 

Now that 'cross is mainstream there's no shortage of content, but I've found myself interested in some of the more retro stuff.  Things like this fan card of legend Klaus Peter Thaler for instance.

I did in fact get some 'cross fan cards of Albert Zweifel and Roland Liboton and I fully intend to display them in the basement once I figure out a clever way to do it. 

Of course mention of anything retro 'cross would be remiss without mentioning Alan.  A few years ago I was fortunate enough to race as part of the Alan grassroots 'cross program, and it was cool to represent a brand with such a rich history in the sport.  The US distribution has changed hands since then, but the bikes are all still handmade in Italy.  Around the time of Klaus Peter there were few companies who actually made their own 'cross bikes, so Alan made them for almost all of the European brands like Guerciotti and Colnago.  Almost all of the greats at that time rode Alans, and I can vividly recall BMW-ProFlex sponsored Henrik Djernis riding the '96 worlds on a bonded carbon/aluminum frame.   

Here's a shot of Don Myrah's Guerciotti-badged Alan 'cross bike that he still uses from time to time.  I'd be remiss to not mention his palmares either as a national 'cross champ and '96 Olympian in mountain biking. 

And of course when I do get back to competition I am going to get my ass handed to me.  I've been semi-active for too long, and now I need to put some effort into rebuilding my overall health and fitness so that I can achieve some sort of meaningful progression in 2012.  I felt like I got close in 2011, but was still just a half-step away from really kicking ass.  I was close to guys I wanted to beat but I just felt like I was slightly off the pace- and I want that feeling back.  There's no France trip to jump start my season this year, but maybe Wayward and I will get together for some ski-centric masochism to get ready for the riding season. 

Maybe tonight I'll actually get the shop setup instead of just talking about it.  Of course that will happen after I ride the rollers for a couple hours, so all bets are off. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

2012 Sponsor Announcement- Maxxis

Most things will be staying the same next year as far as my bike and equipment sponsors go, but I am going to be riding different tires.  For the 2012 season I will be racing and training on Maxxis.

Given my well-documented tire geekery I'm really excited to pour through the numerous width/compound/tread options that Maxxis has on offer.  I've been running the Ikon 29 x 2.2 since late summer and it's been great.  That tire with the Aspen and the Beaver, the 29er specific mud tire are going to make a great 3 option race quiver.  

I'd also like to thank Kenda for their support over the last three years.  They have been great to me and are a strong advocate for professional and amateur racing alike, and the Small Block 8 and Nevegal are among my favorite all time tires. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kabush on the Move

Looks like Geoff Kabush is on to a new team for 2012.

Scott Bicycles: Welcome to the Team Geoff Kabush from Route 2 Productions on Vimeo.

They don't mention it in the press release, but in the video Geoff does mention that he'll still be on Maxxis next season, and he might even run a 29er.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

'Cross, Winter-Style

This time of year it's almost warm enough to consider riding my bike in the relatively light snow we currently have on the ground.

Seeing videos like this (re-posted from the Moots blog) motivate me even more.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend Projects and Rebuilding the Man Cave

I spent some time this weekend working on getting the shop setup.  In some way I suppose I'm still procrastinating when it comes to doing any sort of exercise on a Saturday or Sunday.  The good news is that the basement is much nicer now than it was before the flood and although the workbench is still covered in a variety of tools and building materials I'm making some progress.

My winter workbench setup usually means that the ski form is clamped down and the work surface is covered by a protective layer of sheet plastic.  It works great for skis, but doing any sort of cycling work means taking it all apart before I can get started.  Sometimes that's fine, but since I do ride and occasionally work on my bikes through the winter I needed a place for my toolbox, and a wax-free work surface to go with it. 

Most bike shops I've worked in use a simple peg board with hooks for tool storage.  It's simple, cost effective and takes up very little space.  In a previous apartment I installed a peg board but I found arranging the hooks so frustrating that I abandoned the idea and just kept everything in my toolbox.

Since then I've mostly liked having tools in the box, but sometimes I need to root around in the bottom for a small wrench, grease fitting or whatever.  George has long been a fan of the standing tool cabinet, so I decided to give it a shot with a modified setup shown below.  It's a combination of a standard mechanic's cart and small cabinet/large toolbox both readily available from Craftsman.  I couldn't find any one solution that offered the right amount of storage and work space so I used some 3/4" sanded plywood to make a work top.  It has three coats of Polycrylic and seems pretty well sealed, but I think I'm going to lightly sand it down and give it another coat so it has more of a consistent shine. 

There's probably some deeply rooted psychological reason why I'm doing things like this instead of riding...or maybe it's just because it's cold enough that riding outside is a miserable, chilly affair that requires a disproportionate amount of prep time.  The shop does need to get setup, and the more usable it becomes the more likely I am to build the YBB.

Monday, December 5, 2011

2012 Sponsor Announcement- Rolf Prima

I'm happy to announce that for 2012 I'll be adding Rolf Prima as a sponsor, and I'll be racing on a set of Ralos 29er race wheels.

In 1999 I got a set of Rolf Vector wheels for my road bike, and for the next 8 years I put those wheels through their paces on various road and cyclocross bikes.  I probably trued them twice and adjusted the bearings on the front wheel once.  The Dolomite was the top Rolf mountain bike wheel at that time and I remember seriously considering getting a set.

Rolf has gone through some changes since then and is no longer affiliated with Trek after some legal wrangling with Shimano over Rolf's paired spoke patent.  The core idea of the paired spoke is unchanged, and after only offering road and 'cross models for the last few years the Ralos is Rolf's re-entry into the performance mountain bike market.

In the coming weeks I'll be making more posts about the gear I'll be using next season.  Now if I could just get that YBB built before the snow flies...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pro Winter Bike- Michael Barry's Pinarello

Here's a shot of Michael Barry's Pinarello FCX training bike from his personal site.  Unlike his previous Giant Roubaix special this is a true 'cross bike as evidenced by the clearance between the fenders and the tires.  What I like about it is that it's still very much a roadie's training tool- standard 39/53 up front, stretched out riding position and the super cool Dura Ace SRM setup. 

You can see his older Giant dirt road training bike in my previous post.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

'Cross Flashback- '04 Season

Recently I stumbled upon some pictures from my 2004 cross campaign.  I don't remember the name of the event but it was from the Verge series round in Palmer Mass.  The course wound its way around the school, through a small wooded section and on the outside edge of the ball fields.  Pretty much everyone was on clinchers and had just one bike.  Skinsuits were still pretty rare.

The start.  This was before 'cross got so big that you were staged by registration order- it was still first come, first serve and guys were foregoing a warm up just to get a good starting position.  I'm in the second row and completely out of view.

This course had an extended woods section, and I always made up time on the short, steep climb and the fast, sweeping downhill exit.  Outside pedal down, low in the drops and looking like I give a shit. 

A little further back in the same woods section.

Pedaling along the outer edge of the baseball field.  That was my second season racing on the LeMond Poprad.  I wish I held onto that bike.

More ripping through the woods.  That was a fun course.  
I have no idea how I finished, but it was a fun race and the last one of my season.  

This is the first time since 1999 that I haven't done a single 'cross race.  I really miss it,  but I'll get back to it next season.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pro-35 Stickers

Just got a resupply of Pro-35 stickers- drop me a comment or shoot me an email if you'd like some.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Review- Ergon GA-1

In the last five years Ergon has gone from a nearly unknown company to a major player in the cycling world.  On any start line on any summer weekend you're likely to see Ergon grips in strong numbers.  For endurance racing a comfortable and supportive grip is critical, and in that arena the lightweight paddle-style GX1 and GS1 are very popular as are their corresponding bar end versions.  So why bother with the GA1?   

The GA1 is what Ergon considers their technical trail grip and offers a more familiar round profile.  The idea is that aggressive riders put more emphasis on manueverability but still need a well executed ergonomic grip so the shape is much more subtle.  Unlike the GX series there are also two sizes- small and large, as you probably would have guessed.  

The good news about the sizing is that it's pretty simple, and the innovative packaging allows you to try the grip in box in the store.  At 5'11" I'm a large in pretty much everything- t-shirts, jerseys, shorts, gloves, socks, etc., so I wasn't surprised to be comfortable with a large grip as well.

Prior to trying the GA1 I had been riding the GX1 exclusively for two seasons.  I was really happy with the wider, paddle-shaped profile and found that it increased control on chattery descents and allowed my hands to relax.  At two different demo events I rode several bikes with standard grips and felt like I was holding onto a #2 pencil.  With that in mind I felt the GA might be too narrow as I'd written of round grips as being a thing of the past.  

Although the hand support isn't as obvious as with the GX1 the GA1 definitely has some thoughtful features.  The grip contour is much more subtle, and you can get the right and left-specific grips installed on the wrong side if you're not paying attention.  The end collars are marked with right and left, and there's also a small gauge embossed on the top of the grip that shows you which side should face up.  After minimal fiddling I opted to run mine slightly back from vertical but well within the recommended range of adjustment.

Out on the trail the grips took some getting used to, but after a few minutes I stopped thinking about them.  The support was surprisingly good, and while I never felt that the wider GX ever got in my way it did seem like the GA1 enabled more room to move my hands around the bars.  

I've ridden these grips with both standard trigger shifters and cut down with twisters (yes, I'm a fan of twisters) and found them to play well with both.  Here's how they look installed as I ran them for last year's Vermont 50.

When I built up the RSL this spring I went for a set of GA1s again as shown in the top picture and rode them in a very technical and very slippery 6 hours of Pat's Peak.  In both the 50 and the 6 hour I never felt like my hands or wrists were fatiguing and honestly never gave my grip choice a second thought.  

Although the round profile looks like it would make the GA1 lighter than the GX1 it's actually slightly heavier.  Ergon's weight table calls them out above the 148 grams that they were on my scale (the GX1s were spot on the 135 grams that Ergon advertised).  Those aren't much heavier than a wide-profile grip, and as a confirmed weight weenie I think they're well worth the very minor weight penalty.

The GA1 is a great all-around grip and shouldn't be written off by endurance riders just because it's positioned as trail-focused.  Ergon sponsored rider Allison Mann runs the GA1, and if you're looking for a solid, comfortable grip you give it some consideration.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Anticipation- YBB 2.0

Here's the first shot of the 2012 Moots Mooto X YBB.  As the build kit gets rehabbed and the wheels get assembled I'll be working on this as time allows.  

The bike was supposed to have black decals, so right now it's sitting at home awaiting the black decal kit with the red ones removed.

The build will be many of the parts that made up its predecessor- 10 speed Sram X0 groupset (including brakes), Chris King hubs, Stan's NoTubes Crest rims, KMC X10 SL Ti chain, Easton EC70 bar, Easton EA 70 stem, WTB Devo Carbon saddle, XTR pedals, Moots Setback Ti post and a Cane Creek 110 headset.

I'm still undecided on tires, but I have Kenda Karmas sitting in a box collecting dust so I'll probably run those.

I'll post more updates as this bike comes together.  As much as I'd like to get this done I have neither time nor all of the parts to so.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ross Schnell's Trek Remedy

It's no secret that I'm taken with the idea of Super D and other alternative format mountain bike events.  One of the stars of the enduro downhill and Super D scene is Ross Schnell.  Schnell was part of the Trek VW Olympic distance XC squad and managed to stay connected with Trek as a sponsor even after the team folded.

These shots are of last year's Remedy that Schnell rode in the Ashland Super D Race.  The frame is an aluminum model with some customization to run a Rock Shox Monarch instead of the normally spec'ed Fox.

All pictures courtesy of pinkbike.com.

Custom paint, full Bontrager build kit including tires and Crank Brothers everywhere possible- wheels, bar,  dropper post, and of course pedals.

Rock Shox Revelation fork with carbon crown and steerer.  I've never ridden one of these, but it seems like it would be like a jacked up REBA, and that's a good thing.  The Revelation will have a 29er variant available in 2012, for what that's worth.

Tapered steerer- what isn't these days?  Gary Klein was right all those years ago.

Long shot of the MRP single ring chain guide and 1 x 10 drivetrain setup.  Pretty sweet.

And yes, I want one, even though there are carbon versions available.