July 27, 2012

Race Report - 2012 Breckenridge 100

Race: Breckenridge 100
Location: Breckenridge, CO
Date: July 15, 2012
Rider:  Jeff Dickey (24th Open)

During the week ending July 15, I took my annual trek to Colorado to race in the high mountains.

For the first few days, I stayed in Colorado Springs with my friend from DC, Thori Wolfe, of Juggernaut ESF fame.  With the horrible fires that had threatened the city then extinguished, we rode some awesome local singletrack, including a super fun downhill (Captain Jack's to the Chutes).  A good way to start sucking wind at altitude: with a smile on your face.

Thori, unfortunately, took a bad spill while riding some local trails and likely bruised or broke some ribs and damaged the cartilage between his ribs.  Not good, especially as we low-landers needed to breathe more just to keep moving at altitude.

I then headed up to Golden to meet with our great team sponsor, Feedback Sports. They make the best repair stands and have been instrumental in keeping the 10 bikes in my house organized with the RAKK system. If you have a lot of bikes (or even just one) and want to keep them standing upright or are looking to display them in your house or bike shop, you need to get these modular racks.

I had a good chat with Jeff Nitta, checked out the company owner's 2011 Scale RC (an awesome bike - we've got to get him on a 29er or a 27.5...) and then headed out to chase Tim Allen around Red Rocks.  Tim is a fantastically smooth rider on technical terrain.  I've never ridden with someone so good.  Thankfully he was taking it easy on me (he had enough time to clean loose rocks out of the trail by flicking them off with his front and rear wheels as he passed) and we got in a solid hour of rocky singletrack.

After the first hour, I went across the street to see my friends at Spot Brand Bicycles, had a good talk with SP and Jimmy, and headed out to Apex Park for another hour ride.  Good fun!

Afterwards, I drove west to Carbondale, CO to stay with my sister for a few days.  I got in some great riding at Snowmass and on the town trails in Prince Creek.

Heading up Prince Creek (Mt. Sopris in the distance)
Prince Creek trails
Riding back toward Carbondale with my sister

After a few days at altitude, I was not sucking wind as badly and felt generally ready for the Breck 100 on Sunday.  The race starts at around 10,000 feet and goes up from there (the first climb heads from the start line up 4-5 miles and over a 12,300 foot pass).  My goal was to better my time from last year and see if I could do OK at altitude.

The race is set up as a cloverleaf, with three ~35 mile loops, each having distinct sections.  Loop one was a major climb over the ski area and a return on a paved bike path and singletrack, loop 2 had tons of singletrack, and loop 3 was lots of fireroad climbing and singletrack descending.

After the 6am and 45degree temp start (it had been over 100degrees the past few days in DC), on the first climb, I knocked nearly 10 minutes off last year's time (some of that might have been due to the lack of snow at the summit, but I'll just say I was riding better) and crested the top in the top 20.  I stopped at the first aid station and rolled the remaining 15 miles of singletrack back to the start/finish to begin loop 2.  I was in about 20th place and feeling good.

The altitude caught up with me about an hour into loop 2 and, just as last year, I got very dizzy and uncoordinated.  Riding up French Gulch on rocks became impossible and I had to hike.  I slowly made it down the singletrack descent to the aid station where Thori's family was volunteering.  They were surprised to see me stop.

I had a very slow climb up the Colorado Trail to West Ridge and an even slower descent (crashing on the way down - I just wasn't very coordinated).  I stopped at the next aid station for a few minutes to collect myself and chugged along over Gold Hill and to the start/finish.

The last lap was tough. Heading up the long climb to Boreas Pass, it started to thunder and rain.  I couldn't see much of anything on the singletrack descent through the flume trail, but eventually made it in one piece to Como at the other side of Boreas Pass to start the climb back over the pass to Breckenridge.  Last year, I cracked spectacularly on Boreas Pass and was determined not to have that happen again.  I stopped at the aid station in Como, filled up on Coke and nuun and headed out for the final 12 mile climb.  Last year, I was unable to push even the granny gear; this year, I was able to muscle over the big ring the whole way.  Small things...

I dragged myself down the last bits of singletrack descent and finished in 10:53, second to last in the pro field, but a full 40 minutes faster than in 2011.  (I was disappointed to learn that the winner was currently serving a two year suspension from WADA for doping.)  A long day, but great trails, scenery, volunteers and weather.  I suck at racing at altitude, but I'd still go back for more next year.

Results are available here.


Happy to be done (and alive)

- Jeff

John at the 17th Annual Bulldog Rump - AMBC/MARC Championship Series

John headed to Kittany, NJ on July 15 to compete in the 17th Annual Bulldog Rump, part of the Campmore H2H series, AMBC series and MARC series.  Many of the bigger names in the region came to compete in this confluence of three series and John had a great race in brutally hot and extremely fast conditions, finishing 7th (just 1 second off 6th in a final sprint to the line).

Results are available here.

John Talks Cross Training

Check out John's Q&A in CX Magazine about his cross training using rollerblading:


Using Rollerblading as “Cross”-Training: John Arias Talks Inline

John Arias on the trails, post-Rollerblading session. Phtoo courtesy of John Arias
John Arias on the trails, post-Rollerblading session. Phtoo courtesy of John Arias
We’ve all heard that pro-cyclocrosser Adam Myerson started out roller speed skating. Because rollerblading has since declined in popularity, it’s not something you hear about every day. That is, until mountain biker and ’crosser John Arias got in touch with us, wanting to share his inline experiences. We were curious to hear about anything that has the potential to speed us up in the fall, so we had to ask him a few questions.
Cyclocross Magazine: Give us a bit of your cyclocross background!
John Arias: Since my return to pro cycling a few years ago, I have incorporated cyclocross into my training on a regular basis. I incorporate the cyclocross bike into my riding schedule throughout the year as part of my training routine. The number of races that I participate in depends on how my cross country season was, but  I really enjoy racing cyclocross because I am a really strong road and mountain bike racer. I feel cyclocross keeps my fitness through the winter and gives me a great base at the beginning of my cross country season.
CXM: Did you inline skate before getting into cycling? How was it getting started?
JA: I inline skated in high school for fun and fitness, but I really got into it after being at the pro level in cycling in the late 90′s. I met a top inline racer and she convinced me to try it. I thought that me being a pro athlete, I would not have any problem with inline racing, but I was in for a shock when I skated with their inline team. I was blown away that someone with my fitness level got smoked by these people on skates! I then decided to start using it as part of my training, which was a change from what I was always told. Back in the day, my coach said to train on the bike to win on the bike, but after I saw an improvement in certain aspects of my cycling, I decided to continue with it.
CXM: What’s a week of training look like?
JA: My weeks vary depending on what my coach gives me, but I typically ride 10-12 hours on the road, and three hours on the mountain bike. Depending on the part of the season, I try to incorporate 45 minutes to an hour on the Rollerblades. On the off-season, I try to increase the hours on the Rollerblades.
CXM: How do you think rollerblading has/will help you in cyclocross?
JA: Rollerblades have helped to strengthen my core and strengthen muscles that are only used during races when I am pushing my body to its limit. When muscles that are used during cycling get fatigued during a race, the muscles that have strengthened from the Rollerblade cross training are able to carry me through and help me persevere when I feel I have plateaued.
CXM: Do you race inline at all or just do it for training?
JA: I have never raced inline, but I did train with a team years ago. Cycling has always been my passion but I enjoy incorporating the cross training of inline skating in order to break up the monotony of cycling.
CXM: What are some of the major benefits you’ve seen from skating?
JA: I would have to say that the work of the core muscles in addition to the quad work has been amazing. I think I am more agile. You don’t really realize the impact of inline skating until after your first skate and you realize muscles are sore that you would never expect to bother you. With cycling, there is great amount of muscle memory. Certain muscles work only in certain ways. Inline, in addition to other cross training, helps to make certain muscle groups stronger.
CXM: Tips for adding inline skating to your training routine?
JA: Start out slow and try to have fun. Start skating more for recreation before pushing yourself, as that could result in an injury. Work on your form and make sure that it is perfect before spending more time on the skates, because if you develop a bad habit or bad form at the beginning, you will carry that through as you develop your more difficult Rollerblade training routine.

2012 Fair Hill Classic

Race: 2012 Fair Hill Classic
Location: Fair Hill Fairgrounds, MD
Date: July 15, 2012
Riders: Cam Dodge (1st - Open); Aaron Snyder (2nd - Open); Nick Sears (3rd - Open); Jay Dodge (1st - 50+ Men)

Cam, Aaron and Nick swept the podium last weekend at the Fair Hill Classic in Maryland.  Cam and Aaron battled it out at the front, eventually finishing 5-6 minutes up on Nick, who got his first Elite podium finish of the year in the MASS Series.  Nick had an awesome ride, finishing another minute ahead of 4th place.

Jay also won, finishing 1 minute up on second in the 50+ category.

Results are available here.

Cam 1st, Aaron 2nd, Nick 3rd
- Jeff

Race Report - 2012 Iron Mountain 100k

Race: Iron Mountain 100k
Location: Damascus, VA
Date: July 15, 2012
Riders: Dylan Johnson (2nd Overall)

Dylan traveled to southern Virginia on July 15 to take on the Iron Mountain 100k.  Here's his report:

I lined up with Sam Koerber and a number of other fast riders.  Koerber put in a huge effort and he dropped me the first climb.The eventual third place rider, Brian Sheedy(x-pro road racer) went with Sam and they were able to work together on the flat road sections while I was left to solo it. Looking back on it now I realize that I probably should have gone a little over my limit to stay with Sam. I don't know if it would have changed the result though because the finish was a downhill and Sam has a full suspension and skills. Sam dropped Brian about 3/4 of the way through and I caught and dropped Brian shortly there after. Great race. More climbing than Stoopid 50 but the single track wasn't as technical.

Results are available here.

Heading to the finish
Post race
Post-race 2
Dylan in 2nd
 - Jeff

Wednesdays at Wakefield #4 - Report

The last event in the Wednesdays at Wakefield series was held on July 18.  It looked like a storm would soon hit and attendance was a little off from the prior nights.  But, the temperature dropped with the impending storm front from nearly 100 to the mid-80s.  Still it was hot and the racing was fast -- possibly the hardest of the four-race series.

Jeff led through lap 1 of the four lap race, leading a group of Dylan, Ian Spivak, Kevin Carter, and John McInnis.  After some jostling to get room to pass in the group, Dylan accelerated away from the group mid-way through the second lap.  Jeff, fresh off the Breck 100, chased, caught Dylan and they rode together until mid-way through the third lap when Jeff's acceleration on the hill put a 10 second gap to Dylan.

Jeff held the 10 second gap to Dylan until the finish to take the win.  Dylan fought off a hard charging Ian Spivak (last year's series champion) to take second.  Results are available here.  Ian commented afterward that he thought this race was the hardest of the year.  You can read his race report here.

In the 4 race series, Dylan and Jeff each won two of the events and placed second in one other event.  So, they ended up tied for the 2012 "Wednesday at Wakefield World Championships."  Series results are here.

Oh, and did I mention that this was the "dress race" (note the dress photos below).

Lots of dresses...
The start

Lap 1


Dylan rocking the dress...

Jeff leading
Dylan chasing

Round 4 Placing - Jeff 1st, Dylan 2nd
Series placing - Jeff and Dylan tied for 1st

2012 Wednesdays at Wakefield - Round 3

Dylan won the third round of the Wednesdays at Wakefield World Championship series, held on July 11 in wet conditions.  His first lap of the race was the fastest lap of the season and he opened up a gap of 10 seconds to eventual second-place finisher, Ian Spivak. After more fast laps, the gap by the finish was nearly 30 seconds.  You can read Ian's report here.

Results are available here.

One more race in the series to determine the overall winner!

Some Pro Photos from Massanutten Courtesy of Ian at ITMexposures.com

Ian takes some great photos.  Super high quality and he captures the essence of the event.    Below are a few that he provided to us courtesy of his site, ITMexposures.com.  If you need an event photographer, look him up and you won't be disappointed!

- Jeff

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

Photo Credit:  ITMexposures.com

July 11, 2012

Scott Scale RC 29er Review

The Scale RC is Scott's premium racing bike. It is the go to bike for this guy you may have heard of, Nino Schurter. He goes fast on bikes...like really fast. So fast he got a silver medal at the last Olympics and more recently has absolutely DOMINATED the UCI World Cup. He has a 650b, or 27.5" version of the bike. I have the 29er version, which is great because I am tall and I need big wheels to feel balanced on the bike. But, in case you are not a giant, it looks like Scott is committed to producing a full line of 650b bikes in the very near future, so keep your eyes open for developments.

Anyway, on to the part where I talk about how rad this bike is. Because it really is rad, or "wicked rad" for those from Massachusetts. First off, it is light, the 29er frame weighs in at just over two pounds. Do you know how light that is? Lighter than most road bike frames. But you can have way more fun on it than a road frame, simply because it isn't a road frame (sorry roadies). All kidding aside, out of the box, my XL weighed in at just over 21 lbs. What is nice about a light bike is that you have so much more freedom on the trail to maneuver the bike however you want. Obviously it makes going uphill easier, but so many other things become easier, or possible. A light back end and some powerful Sram XX brakes make nose wheeling around turns quite easy and fun. It also makes getting airborne easier, and doing things in the air, like tail whips.

Internal cable routing and a tapered headtube. #slamthatstem
It is easy to forget that this is a race bike. The slack-ish (only relative to other companies...I think it is perfect) head angle invites you to "pin it to win it" on the downhills. That combined with a tubeless wheelset means that you can run 20 psi (more is probably a good idea, it depends on your weight and riding style) and get killer traction. Although the bike comes with DT Swiss wheels, the team runs Stan's No Tubes wheels. For me, my three year old Stan's 355s are still going strong, despite riding the rim, bottoming out the tire and riding them far beyond their recommended use.

Going fast
The 2x10 XX shifting is superb. It took me a while to get it dialed in perfectly, but once it is there, it truly is an incredible thing.
Nice and stiff thanks to a PF92 BB

The frame has quite a bit of technology built into it, including compliant seatstays for taking the edge off, a PressFit92 bottom bracket for added stiffness, internal cable routing and a tapered headtube. Those last two things are my favorites. All of it combines to create a truly well thought out bike that is super fun to go fast on (or super slow for rock crawling type riding).

Another thing, if the $5500 price tag is too much (although it is a very reasonable price), there is a Pro and Expert version, both are also carbon. If those are still too much, or you are still deathly afraid of "plastic bikes" you can get an aluminum version. I raced the first generation aluminum Scale 29er in two UCI World Cups and had a blast on it. It is just as fast, so don't rule it out.

I could go into more detail about the specifics, but you should be able to find all you need to know about that stuff on the Scott website. I'm just trying to convey how fun this bike is. I regularly have to remind myself that it is an XC race bike, not some 4x machine. It is a capable bike, period. Our team has racked up wins on it, and so have Nino, Geoff, Nicolas Sessler and other fast international Scott racers.