May 31, 2013

Long Term Review - One Year on the Conti X-King (& Race King) 29x2.2 ProTection RTR (updated -- 2 years of use)

Last spring (2012), Continental was gracious enough to provide our team with X-King race tires for the season. After riding them for a full year, here's how they held up and my impressions.

Based on my Strava data, I put about 2,100 miles on these tires in 2012 and 2013 before finally changing them over two weeks ago before the first mtb race in March, 2013:

http://app.strava.com/pros/13669

Let's just say I wasn't nice to these tires.  I put them through a lot of abuse, bouncing through rocks without picking the best lines, riding in deep snow and ice, mud, sand, and multiple 100+ mile rides.  In all that time, I had one flat when a 5 inch spike went through the rear tire.  It was easily fixed with a Genuine Innovations tire plug resulting in almost no air loss and I just kept riding the tire for another 5 months.

The sidewalls on these German-made tires show a what seems to be a lot of wear.  I noticed that after just a few rides, the sidewalls close to the tread looked "worn", with the black casing looking like it was getting chafed by rolling over rocks, etc.  Despite that look, it didn't seem to affect any performance and didn't decrease the tire's resistance to sidewall cuts (I didn't get any).  I didn't get any sealant or air leak.

In fact, this is just about exactly how the tires looked on the sidewalls after the first few rides:

Some sidewall scuffing seems normal for these tires - it didn't affect performance or ability to hold air.

I never had any problems with these tires holding air.  After a few weeks, they might lose a few pounds of air, but that was pretty minimal.  I found myself running lower and lower pressure during the winter time. When I finally checked, I was below 20psi in both the front and rear tires.  The low pressure was great for traction and ride comfort on my Stan's Crest wheelset.  After running them that low, I started to keep them low for use on my Scale hardtail.  I increased the pressure a little bit (to 24psi) on my Spark full suspension bike.

These tires's added sidewall protection does make for a "stiff" feeling ride if I ran them at a pressure I normally would keep for other tires.  But, reducing tire pressure got rid of that feeling.

The rear tire did get a lot of wear on the center treads and the treads started to deform and lose some of their sipes.  But, nothing abnormal for a lot of use.  On the front tire, the center knobs were worn a bit, but the more important side knobs but still kept in good shape with plenty of cornering traction:

Front tire knobs - all present, but worn in the center
I've read some complaints in various bike fora about knobs pulling off these tires, but that was not my experience at all - they were all still remaining on the tires, even with high miles in just about every condition you can imagine (pavement, concrete, roots, rocks, snow, ice, sand, gravel, mud).

The tires remain clean and grippy in all conditions - I'd chalk that up to the Black Chili compound.  And, the X-King knob spacing is extremely quiet.  I have to riding a lot on roads to get to my favorite trails (or linking together long rides between parks) and I never notice road buzz that I would with some other knobbies intended for good grip.

For some of last year, I ran a Race King 29x2.2 ProTection on the rear wheel.  The Race King has a lot more volume than the X-King and felt like it added some suspension comfort to my Scale hardtail.

I wish I had a set of calipers to measure them, but the Race King looks closer to what I'd say is a 2.2 width tire (or, possibly even larger) and the X-King looks to be closer to a 2.0 width tire.  If you're looking for a very high volume tire, the X-King 2.2 is not for you.  I'd recommend the Race King 2.2 as your choice for a high volume tire.

The Race King has a lot lower knobs and doesn't have the same killer traction as the X-King, but it does feel like it rolls faster (the X-Kings have perceptibly low rolling resistance, but the Race Kings are even better).  The Race King also felt more supple to me, possibly because I was running it with such low air pressure.

Overall, I'd say my favorite set-up has been the Race King as a rear tire (faster rolling and larger volume) and the X-King in the front for cornering.  From talking with others I ride and race with, many others have found this setup to be a great combination too. For situations when I needed better traction or cornering ability, I set up the rear tire with the X-King.

So, in sum, after a year of hard abuse through all conditions and high mileage, I'm impressed with these tires.  I'd be impressed with them if I just ended up with zero sidewall cuts (the tires my Continentals replaced suffered front and rear sidewall cuts within 3 hours of use), but their grip, long wear and ability to hold air were really large positives.

5.14.14 Update -  I've now been riding the Conti X-King and Race King Protection 29x2.2 tires for over two years. In short, I've had more long-term success with these tires than most other mtb equipment that takes a lot of abuse, like chains, derailleurs, cassettes, etc..  1) Flat protection - In two years, I've suffered one flat (a cut sidewall on the rocks in Michaux Forest, a location notorious for destroying equipment) that I fixed with a quick hit of rubberized superglue and Stan's.  After fixing the sidewall, I rode the same tire for a few more months until I had fully worn out the tread and it was time to replace it with a tire with fresh knobs.

2) Tire life - I can get just about a full season on a front tire and about half a season on a rear tire.  I have to ride a bunch of road to get to my local trails.  That puts a lot more wear on the rear tire, but I can generally get 3 months out of a rear tire until the tread starts to wear down a bit (I also train a lot on my road bike, so the mtb doesn't get daily use).  In rocky terrain, the sidewalls do get a lot more scrubbed up, leading the tires to look like they're at the end of their life, but that's not the case.  I've noticed no less air retention from scuffed sidewalls as from a new-looking tire.  I think I used the same front tire for a full 9 month mtb season in 2013 to early 2014 when I finally swapped the tire for a new one.

- Jeff

Stolen Bike Alert - Team Rider's 2013 Spark 900 Premium Stolen

On May 30, team rider Zack Morrey's 2013 Scott Spark 900 Premium was stolen from his house.

It's a unique bike.  If you see it, please let us know as Zack would really like it back to continue his racing season.


  • 2013 Scott Spark Premium frame (29er) - Size Medium
  • Fox F29 CTD fork
  • Fox CTD rear shock
  • Shimano XTR shifters/derailleurs
  • Next SL crankset
  • Stan's NoTubes Crest wheelset
  • Ritchey carbon parts
  • Fizik Tundra 2 Carbon saddle


Sam Wins Stage 5 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic

Sam gets a win on Stage 5 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic.


Post-race interview:

http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/250771-2013-Trans-Sylvania-Epic-Stage-Race/video/712494-Sam-Koerber-I-Think-I-Got-One-More-Day-In-Me-Stage-5

Heading into Friday's "Queen Stage" Sam is sitting in 2nd place on GC.  

Here's the stage writeup from Cyclingnews.com:


The pace was fast on a prologue loop climb as the favorites applied pressure to whittle down the lead group heading into the numerous rocky singletrack sections.
Race leader Lindine said, "We went pretty hard up the first climb after the neutral section. Drew Edsall [Kenda/Felt] was pushing the pace. We had a small group which formed, but it was without Brian [Matter], although none of us knew why."
Matter was busy dealing with some untimely bad luck.
"Maybe five minutes into the race, I went into the first section of singletrack in about eighth wheel and we weren't going that fast, so I thought I was ok in eighth position," said Matter, "but then it started tilting down. The trail was getting rocky and everyone was zig-zagging to find a good line. My sight line wasn't that great, and I got a rear flat."
Matter used a CO2 to re-inflate the tire, and it sealed well enough to get him up the next dirt road, but the rear tire was flat again and he had to stop and put a tube in before the next singletrack section.
"Flatting that early in the race puts you into that first enduro segment behind 50 or 60 people. It was a lot of traffic, but then it finally spread out."
At the front, Koerber and Lindine were crushing it, until the others had come off on a long, uphill, rocky, technical singletrack section.
"We were kind of working together," said Koerber. "I was able to get a little gap on the enduro segment, but I sat up afterward and got some food. I rode the whole first half without water after my bottle bounced out early on. It was a hot day to be without water, and I was just hanging on Justin on the climbs until I could get some more water."
Lindine said, "We were both putting in some digs. He'd try to ride me off in the technical sections, and I'd try to ride him off on the gravel. We were pretty evenly matched. Neither of us wanted to put each of ourselves super deep into the hurt locker because tomorrow will be a really hard day. It was a good situation for Sam because he was gaining time on Brian, and it was a good situation for me because I was gaining time on Brian."
"As long as I didn't get dropped by Sam, I was ok with the status quo."
Coming into the finish, the two riders were together.
"We came across the line together," said Koerber. "I jammed my chain coming right across the line, and he gave me a little push to get across first so that I could get the stage win."
"It was the reverse of stage 3 when I was the odd man out and Justin and Brian were together. I knew I could get some time back today, especially with two of us trading pulls and working."
Lindine summed up the day, "It was a good day and fun. It was unbelievably hot. It was kind of a shock to go from 60 degrees and raining to 90 and humid today. That was hurting everyone a little bit."
"I felt bad from Brian. I know how it feels to have a mechanical so early on and to have to chase. It's not an easy course to move up through traffic."
Edsall chased behind the two leaders while Matter closed on him, catching him near the end.
"I felt great and I rode within myself," said Matter. "I ended up catching Drew Edsall coming into the dirt road finish section. I made it back up to forth."
"It's a little disappointing to lose more time to Sam. Take away a few flat tires, and I think I'd be right up there. Tomorrow, I'll go with a little less. I think tomorrow will be more tire pressure and less suspension pressure to even things out."
Koerber gained enough time to overtake Matter for second in the GC, which Lindine continues to lead.

 1         2:04:39   Sam Koerber Progold
 2         2:04:39   Justin Lindine Redline / NBX
 3         2:09:58   Drew Edsall Kenda / Felt
 4         2:10:00   Brian Matter RACC / TREK / PROGOLD 
 5         2:11:07   Aaron Snyder TSEpic Team 

Sam 5th on Stage 4 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic

In Stage 4's Enduro format event, Sam finished 5th on the rocky singletrack of central PA.  He retained his 3rd place overall on GC.



You can watch his post-race interview here:

http://www.cyclingdirt.org/speaker/3490-Sam-Koerber/video/712308-Sam-Koerber-That-was-an-enduro-stage

Here's the stage writeup:

Stage 4 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic is unlike any other stage in the week-long event and unlike any stage in any other endurance oriented stage race. Rather than racing in the typical cross-country format used on other stages, the SRAM/Bear Creek sponsored stage uses a full-on enduro format. The 22-mile course contained five separate enduro segments that required riders to push their technical skills on some of the best descents in Rothrock State Forest.
Riders passed between the enduro segments at their own pace, a luxury after three days of hard racing. Though many riders used the untimed segments to rest their legs and limit their efforts, the roads between the timed enduro segments were marked by long, sustained climbs through the forest’s gravel and dirt roads, thus making the stage far from easy.
The first enduro segment – Green Shoot Trail – gave riders an appropriate sampling of Rothrock’s diverse trail system. Green Shoot begins with a swoopy, flowing descent sure to please riders from all areas. As riders descend the trail from Bald Knob Ridge, they find themselves challenged by an increasing density of rocks until the bottom, where the trail turns upward for a short, punchy climb to the end of the segment.
After climbing away from Green Shoot to the top of Laurel Run Road, riders are treated with the second enduro segment, a combination of Little Shingletown Trail and Sand Spring. Little Shingletown’s gorgeous ribbon of trail cutting through an overgrown fireroad forces riders to charge forward in a full sprint to reach the entrance of Sand Spring, where short, steep chutes and rocks lead riders to a cold spring-fed creek crossing before clocking their time for the second segment.
Another long climb, and riders reach segment 3 on Croyle Run Trail. A favorite for many locals, Croyle Run lets riders build up tons of speed on a long, clean stretch of singletrack with few corners. But, the intermittent chunks of granite littering the trail force riders to be attentive in order to save their speed through the top section. Coming into the bottom portion of the segment, riders face more rocks and fast, sharp corners leading to the finish.
On the fourth segment, riders descend the famed Wildcat Gap Trail.  What was once   “wild cat” log run, where early foresters rode massive tree trunks down the side of the mountains, often risking their lives, is now a mountain bike descender’s dream. The primary features of this test are harsh, steep trails and a large, complex rock garden to test even the most competent technical riders. Wildcat’s steepness forces riders to be judicious with their braking in order to avoid skidding off the trail and landing on an unforgiving piece of Pennsylvania rock.
After one more climb, riders reach the fifth and final segment of the day, combining Old Laurel Run with Three Bridges. Though Three Bridges gets its name from its distinctive series of water crossings, Old Laurel Run gives little indication of its technical descent in its name. Old Laurel sends riders down a straight, rocky chute that will rattle riders regardless of their suspension choices. The unrelenting descent flattens out only in the last quarter of trail, where more pockets of large rocks interrupt a deceptively flowing trail. Turning into Three Bridges, riders face a short uphill rock garden before crossing the narrow, namesake bridges and a short uphill burst to clock their time and end the day’s competition.
Open Men
Madison Matthews (The Bicycle Shop/MBR/Maxxis) dominated the stage with a winning time of 20:11, over twenty seconds faster on the enduro stage than second place finisher Derek Bissett (NoTubes/Trans-Sylvania Epic/BMC). Forgoing his standard cross country race bike, Bissett instead chose a bike more focused on descending, noting, “It was a lot better for those of us who brought big bikes to this race; bike bikes and big tires actually helped a lot today.” Proud of his performance, Bissett felt that he was “ripping” the enduro segments and that “it always feels good whenever you stomp a trail.” Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt) took third place with a thirty-second deficit to Bissett.
Though Madison had the fastest overall time for the day, and took the stage win, the Enduro competition, which is based on points rather that time, for the day went to Derek Bissett, who scored him two more points than Matthews. In the overall Enduro competition, Drew Edsall retains the Enduro Leader’s jersey, but holds only a three-point margin over Bissett.
1
0:20:11 Madison Matthews The Bicycle Shop / MBR / Maxxis
2
0:20:34 Derek Bissett NoTubes / Trans-Sylvania Epic / BMC
3
0:21:04 Drew Edsall Kenda / Felt
4
0:21:13 Aaron Snyder TSEpic Team
5
0:21:35 Sam Koerber Progold

Sam 3rd on Stage 3 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic

After an early mechanical mishap, Sam chased the leaders for the next 42 miles on a wet and muddy day, passing all but two of the field to finish third on the day in Stage 3 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic and dropping one place in GC from second to third overall.



Here's a video recap of the stage:

http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/250771-2013-Trans-Sylvania-Epic-Stage-Race/video/712230-Trans-Sylvania-Epic-Stage-3-Highlights

And, here's the stage writeup:
At the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic, the three strongest men in the field showed their superiority on a day marked with mud and rain. Sam Koerber (ProGold), second in GC, was dropped from the leaders on the very first descent of the day, a short rocky singletrack that threw his chain over his cassette and left him standing trail-side as most of the field passed. Brian Matter (RACC/Trek/ProGold) who was in third overall at the start of the stage, and Justine Lindine (Redline/NBX), the current race leader, were unaware of what took the fast descending Koerber from the picture but worried little about the cause. 
Matter, knowing that the time he lost to a flat yesterday could be redeemed, joined forces with Lindine who was looking to pad his lead. Also in the lead group were Phil Grove (Hammer Nutrition), Aaron Snyder (TSEpic.com/NoTubes), Mike Wissel (B2C2/Boloco), and Wes Richards (Clemmons Bicycle).  But Lindine and Matter were not interested in having help and shed the others by the time the race entered Tower Trail, ten miles into the course.
On the first SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro segment of the day, Lindine cooperated to allow Matter to compete in the Enduro segments with hopes of keeping the enduro jersey to the end. The two continued around the course trading the lead through Coburn and up the long gradual climb of Seigerville-Millheim Pike. Entering the final enduro segment of the day, Lindine decided that the time was right and jumped away. “I’m not going to say that I’m not taking advantage of Brian’s interest in the enduro jersey. He slowed and I went,” said Lindine, who crossed the finish line 30 seconds ahead of Matter.
Koerber impressed the competition with an all day chase over the 42 mile course that ended with a third place finish, while Wissell had his best ever finish in a Trans-Sylvania Epic in fourth. Aaron Snyder continued his steady effort in the event with his fifth place finish.

1
2:34:25 Justin Lindine Redline / NBX
2
2:35:11 Brian Matter RACC / TREK / PROGOLD
3
2:42:43 Sam Koerber Progold
4
2:44:18 MICHAEL WISSELL B2C2/ Boloco
5
2:46:54 Aaron Snyder TSEpic Team

Sam 2nd on Stage 2 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic

Sam rode through some "dental issues" on Stage 2 of the 7 stage Trans-Sylvania Epic in Pennsylvania to finish second on the day and move into 2nd on the GC.




Check out the post-race interview where he describes how it went down:

http://www.cyclingdirt.org/speaker/3490-Sam-Koerber/video/711744-Sam-Koerber-Landed-on-His-Teeth-Stage-2

Here's the stage writeup:


A neutral roll-out to the start line gave little indication of the aggression to come as riders enjoyed the comfortable temps and beautiful, bright sunshine at the start of the Answer Products Coopers Gap stage of this year’s Trans-Sylvania Epic. The mass start at the bottom of the Stillhouse climb left nothing to the imagination as Sam Koerber (ProGold) announced he was here to contend for the overall victory with an early attempt to open a gap on the contenders.
A strong group, consisting of Brian Matter (RACC/Trek/ProGold), Aaron Snyder (TSEpic.com/NoTubes), Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt), Phil Grove (Hammer Nutrition), Michael Wissel (B2C2/Boloco), Koerber and Lindine, came together on the run into the rock strewn, single-track, benchcut climb on No-Name Trail where the group splintered apart.
Koerber continued his aggression and showed his prowess on the technical ridgetop of Chicken Peter Trail, arriving in the first checkpoint with a one-minute lead on Matter, Lindine, and Edsall, while Snyder trailed by another minute.
The long single-track climb of Peep and the day’s first SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro Segment on PigPile Trail—an opportunity for fast descenders to take home a leader’s jersey all their own—allowed Lindine and Matter to rejoin Koerber at the front. This reunion may have been aided by a bobble on the part of Koerber, one that resulted in not only lost time, but the loss of a nice chunk of his front tooth. In the rocking and rolling sweet smooth lines of the Sassy Spur and Sassy-xx trails, the trio increased their lead to more than five minutes over the Edsall and Snyder pair.
Koerber, battered from his earlier encounter with Pennsylvania’s rocks, but by no means beaten, used his technical skills honed from thousands of hours in the trails of Pisgah to push through the battle. Matter was the first to leave the fight as a flat tire took him away from the lead group and at the stage victory. Lindine was not dislodged on this second SRAM/Bear Creek enduro run and took control of the race.

Koerber faced his demise on the stiff gravel climb of Crowfield Road rising from Penn Roosevelt State Park as Lindine steadily opened a gap on his closest pursuer and continued building his lead through a final, fern-enshrouded double-track to the finish line. On his defeat, Koerber noted, “It’s going to be a battle; I’m not one to give up. I’m going to make it hurt every day. I’m going to make [Justin Lindine] work for it.” Matter crossed third having ceded several minutes from his flat to the two riders in front. TSEpic Team’s Snyder rolled through in fourth, pulling ever so gradually farther away from Edsall over the final ten miles of the day.






1 3:08:12     Justin Lindine Redline / NBX
2 3:10:52   Sam Koerber Progold
3 3:16:36   Brian Matter RACC / TREK / PROGOLD
4 3:21:47   Aaron Snyder TSEpic Team
5 3:23:16   Drew Edsall Kenda / Felt

May 24, 2013

ESI Chunky Grips Review


For the past 3 years I've been using ESI grips because they are the softest.


ESI chunky grips

My past grip preferences included Pedros Diamond Vice grips, Serfas CNGB Connectors Grip and  OURY grips.

The softer the better in my opinion.



ESI focuses its attention on the material instead of what the molding texture will be. The material used is soft surgical grade silicon.  This provides vibration dampening, creating less hand fatigue and allowing you to get a more secure grip on the handlebar.  All this gives you more control, making you ride better.

On long descents, my hands are less likely to be uncomfortable. It kinda feels like there is a little bit more suspension on the bike.

This past weekend, during a race at French Creek Park in Pennsylvania, these grips showed their superior vibration damping qualities during the rocky descents. There were so many grapefruit size rocks packed so densely that they were unavoidable.

In this particular race going fast on the descents was all about holding on tight and just taking the beating on the rocks. I ride a hard tail so there's even less forgiveness. The chain was bouncing around (bounced off several times, not easy with XTR) so hard that the sound it made had me convinced I broke a spoke. Several times I hit a rock particularly hard and thought that I must have flatted a tire or dented my Stan's Arch EX rims. No damage occurred to the wheels (durable wheels,  not even out of true). 

I felt in control the whole time despite all the chaos that was occurring underneath me. The vibration damping let me hold on tight during those descents with out hand fatigue through out the entire race.

In a way, ESI grips feel similar to me to the old foam grip. Examples...



But unlike those older foam grips these don't wear out as easily, retain their shape better because they are made out of 100% silicone, don't get wet and soggy in muddy races and don't spin on the bar when they get wet.  Even with wet conditions, you can still get a secure grip (as good as when they're dry - not so for foam grips, or really any other grip). ESI grips can last for a couple years with heavy use as long as you protect the ends from getting torn.

Installation...

I normally put my ESI grips on with hair spray (ESI advertises on the website you don't need to use hair spray, but I find it makes it easier). The hair spray lubricates the grip to slide on.  When it dries, it helps the grip stick to the bar (I hear rubbing alcohol works well too). That said, it's not necessary.  Others on my team don't use anything to install them other than an air compressor.  The grips stay in place when installed with no rotating on the bar.

It seems to be common to get a tear on the side of the grip (I've done it to my ESI grips a few times and know others who have too) if you crash or hit something with the end of your bars. The plastic end protector included with the grips help prevent this but are not as protective as others I have used.   There are many companies that sell more heavy duty bar plugs made out of aluminum  (that fasten in and are less likely to pop out) that provide great protection.  ESI recommends Hope Grip Doctors.

Here are a few examples...

If you have carbon bars, this is the safest way to go. These have screw on ends that expand a wedge inside the bar (many companies make plugs similar to these )


If you are using aluminum bars you can get away with lighter plugs that are secured on with screws (several companies make bar plugs like this), but these end up damaging the bars and probably aren't the best for long term durability

ESI is now making even thicker grips called Extra Chunky. They look identical the older thinner (Racers Edge and chunky) versions except they are thicker. I'm using the Chunkys on my bike this year. The thicker grip is more comfortable to hold onto. I haven't tried the Extra Chunky yet, but I'm guessing they are even more comfortable to hold onto.


The yellow grips I currently have on my race bike are the Chunky size.

The original (thinnest size)

Color options for Racers Edge and Chunky. The Extra Chunky is only available in black
Chunky grip set weighs 45 grams

Chunky is only a couple of mm thicker than the Racers Edge size but noticeably better for me and the way I like my grips


In sum, I'm impressed with these grips.  They've been on my bike for 3 years and they've worked great. Great for increasing control over your bike; great durability; and very soft feeling under your hands.  The only downside is they tear easily, but that's solved by putting a set of aluminum end caps on your bars.

- Mike

May 22, 2013

Preview of the Pro XC Course at Bear Creek

I got a chance to check out the course at Bear Creek, PA this past weekend with Aaron Snyder, Jeremiah Bishop, Cam and Jay Dodge, and Dylan Johnson. This is where the 2013 USA Cycling Mountain Bike XC National Championships will be held. The Pro course is a shortened version of the Cat 1 XC course, with one major climb and descent, and lots of rocks and roots.

Each lap should take about 15 minutes and the race will consist of 7 laps. This course will favor those with strong technical skills and not just the guys who can put out the most power on groomed manicured singletrack.

Aaron Snyder took us around for the first lap with JB providing some suggestions on final course detail. Jay, Dylan, Cam and I then took another few laps and I shot some GoPro Video footage.

Here is the downhill portion of the course, I'll put up links to the climb sections and some additional videos as soon as they are uploaded. The end of the downhill section is currently being constructed, but the top section will be the same and you can get a good idea of what to expect. Enjoy!

May 20, 2013

Sam Wins the Pisgah 55.5k and Second at the Pisgah 111.5 K

On a day featuring torrential rain last Saturday, May 18, Sam finished second on his Scott Spark 900 RC by about 1.5 minutes after 111k and nearly 7 hours of racing in the mountains of Pisgah National Forest.



Full results are available here.



The next day's 55k race awaited, when Sam took the lead to win in 4 hours, 46 minutes.  Results are here.

Almost twelve hours combined for Saturday and Sunday - that's a lot of racing in two days!

On the Rocks at French Creek - 2013


On the Rocks at French Creek
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Elverson, PA
Conditions: Overcast, with light rain falling at the end of the race
Riders: Cam (2nd, Pro/Open); Dylan (3rd, Pro/Open); Jeff (5th, Pro/Open); Mike (8th, Pro/Open); Jay (2nd, Cat 1 50+); Zack (DNF -- bent chain)

As the race name implies, French Creek has a lot of rocks.  The course has a number of fast, twisting downhills over rocks, plus one or two steep climbs per each ~7 mile circuit.

The parking lot had seemed full - lots of people came out on the overcast spring day to race.



I handed out samples of Zevlin's "Crack" chamois cream to other riders in the lot while getting ready to race (if you missed getting a sample, find us at the next race - I've also been handing out samples at the 100+ rider group ride in Arlington, VA on Tuesday nights).

After a viciously fast start, Cam and Dylan made the lead group of five that settled out at the end of the first lap, following Jeremiah Bishop's lead over the rocks and steep climbs at French Creek State Park.

In the second lap, the group was whittled down to four, then two on the last lap, with Cam chasing JB along with Cole Oberman and Dylan slightly behind.

Cole crashed badly on the fast and slippery rock downhill section on the backside of the course, and Cam continued on in pursuit of JB, eventually finishing 40 seconds down at the finish.

Dylan had a another very strong ride again this week to finish third, about 1:30 back from Cam.


Cam 2nd and Dylan 3rd
Jeff hung on to fifth after falling out of the lead group on the first lap after blowing up when redlining it to catch back up to the leaders after a bobbled section at the base of the steepest/most technical climb of the day.

Mike went into the singletrack nearly in last place out of the field of 32, but used his technical skills to turn in consistently fast laps to pick off most of the field and finish 8th.

The rocks got the best of Zack's chain, denting and twisting one of the links so badly he was forced to pull out of the race.


Pro/Open Results
Jay rode a great race on the rocks to finish second in the Cat 1 50+ field.

Jay 2nd
Cat 1 50+ Results
Cole had a Wolf Tooth Components XX1-type chainring/spider installed a SRAM X-9 crankset. This was the first one I'd seen and he said it kept his chain on the crankset, even when he crashed his Scott Spark hard on a downhill.  Maybe an option for the future...

Wolf Tooth Components Drop-Stop Direct Mount Chainring

After the race, Zack and Dylan headed north to pre-ride the USAC National Championships Course at Bear Creek with JB.  Hopefully, they got some good video of the course they can post up later.

Thanks to all our team sponsors!
  • Scott Bicycles - Scott Scale 900s and Spark 900s
  • Optic Nerve - Sunglasses -- Colorado to the Core
  • Limar Helmets - The lightest and most comfortable helmets in the world
  • Fizik Saddles - Comfortable and light and fit to your body flexibility type
  • ESI Grips - Hands down the most comfortable grips int he world
  • Zevlin - Makers of fine chamois cream, body care products for cyclists and handlebar tape
  • Continental Tire - We're riding X-King 29x2.2 Protection tires and loving their flat-proof nature and awesome grip and wear
  • Yokozuna - Ultrapremium shift cables
  • Lifeproof - iPhone, iPad and iPod cases that are waterproof, shock proof, dust proof and snow proof, plus the accessories to take your device to the extreme.
  • Stan's NoTubes - Tubeless wheels and systems
  • Stuffitts - Portable drying solutions to keep your cycling gear dry and smelling good
  • Dumonde Tech - Eco Friendly and High Performance lubricants
  • The Parts Shoppe - Ceramic bottom brackets, pulleys, bearings and ultra low friction grease
  • Medilast - Compression gear for athletes
  • VeloInk - Custom graphics for your bike
  • Polar Bottle - Keeping your liquids hot or cold
  • Strava - Tracking rides and competing against friends
  • The Sufferfest - Training videos to kick our asses today so we can beat yours tomorrow!
Here's the ride data:


- Jeff

May 14, 2013

Nathaniel at EFTA's Weeping Willow


I did my first mountain bike race of the year this past weekend at EFTA’s Weeping Willow in Ipswich, MA. This is a favorite of mine and of the local community with its fast, flowing trails and moderately technical bits. It is flat and fast.

Having just finished the semester and finals, I haven't had much time to ride my bike. I wasn’t sure where my fitness was, so I decided to do Expert (two laps) instead of Elite (three laps). I did the Elite race last year and three laps on the course was surprisingly difficult given that you never get a rest from pedaling.

The weather was overcast with some light rain during the race, although the roots never got slick. After a brief warm-up and seeing all my bike friends after several months at school, I lined up with about fifteen other 19-29 racers. 
(photo: Martin Allen Sr.)

I got on the front row and got a good start. I have a good snap off the line that often helps me get the hole-shot, but at this race, there is probably a solid half mile or more of fire-road at the start. About five people passed me before the single track, which wasn’t a huge deal, but I was surprised how quick everyone was riding.

(photo: Martin Allen Sr.)

On this fire-road stretch, in a paceline, the rear wheel of the bike in front of me flung up a huge stick that would have hit me smack-dab in the middle of my face, but I saw it and was able to avoid it. In the process, it ripped one of the twist ties off my number plate. The rest of the race was pretty standard; I caught some people and some people caught me.


(photo: Laura B. Kozlowski)

I rode smoothly and stayed focused, never having a crash or a close call. I paced myself well, although I probably should have been a little more aggressive when I got stuck behind some slower riders.

During the last twenty minutes, I was being chased down by some racers in other categories and even though I wasn’t racing against them directly, I still wanted to stay ahead of them. I finished fourth, less than a minute down from third and pretty solidly in the mix overall.

For how little I’ve been riding and how bad my diet has been, I was very satisfied with my result. Definitely room for improvement, and hopefully I can make my way back into the Elite class in a few weeks. The race, overall, was excellent and well run.

My Scale 900 performed perfectly and felt perfect the whole time. I’m looking forward to whatever happens to be next on the schedule!

 (photo: Nicholas Barry)
- Nathaniel

May 13, 2013

Pre ride of Patapsco 100

Jeff and I (Mike) went to try out the course. There will be a race @ Patapsco on July 7th...

BikeReg Link to register and see more info.

The course is 33 miles. For the race there are 33/66/99 (they round up to 100) options.

It had rained the day before so it was a bit muddy, not horrible but it made trails a bit soft and there where spots where water had pooled and other places where the trail seemed to be the drainage route for water.

There were lots of turns. Jeff felt like our ride closely resembled one of the adventure races that he does because we spent a lot of time looking at a map and exploring different trails before finding the correct one. 

The trails overall were pretty technical with lots of short-medium steep climbs. Jeff had a 1x10 and he was wishing he had more gearing for the steep climbs (at least a 32 tooth front chainring rather than the 36 tooth ring he was running). I think the average speeds on this course will be at least 2 miles an hour slower than other 100 milers like the Shenandoah 100 with a lot of people dropping out of this race. 100 miles of this will be very difficult.

The scenery was great.  Lots of look outs, lots of sections of trail following along a pretty river, lots of relics of old built over construction.  Even if you don't finish the race, you're going to enjoy the ride and the views.

Great scenery

Getting ready to duck under a branch

Epic water crossing

Brought clothes across on a first trip across the river, waded back over, and brought bike across on second

Testing the depth of the water

Climbing


Perspective make Jeff look tiny in this pic

Took a wrong turn and bush whacked back onto the trail

Took a wrong turn and bush whacked back on the trail

Tn the parking lot, train passing in background

Riding along the river, enjoying the day

We were lost again - trying to figure out where the trail went

Disc rotor issues

video

May 06, 2013

Sam wins the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race

On a chilly day in NC (check out all the puffy jackets!), Sam teamed up with Jacob McGahey to win the 11th Annual PMBAR, finishing ~45 minutes ahead of the second placed team in a field of 73 two-person teams.



This is a choose your own route mountain bike race, where racers are given maps and need to navigate to a series of checkpoints, then back to the start/finish in the fastest possible time.

Full results are available here.

This race is tough:


Teams of two riders will race to reach # of # checkpoints, in any order, and return to the start/finish. Teams that reach all 5 checkpoints will be awarded a time bonus. Checkpoint locations will remain secret until start-time and there is no suggested route. Routes will vary between 50-80 miles, will include 9,000-15,000 feet of climbing, and should take 7-14 hours to complete.
The Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race (PMBAR) will be held deep in the Pisgah National Forest, one of the most beautiful, rugged, and unforgiving areas in the nation. There will be little to no water or food support on course. Once you leave the start/finish you are on your own. There will be no drops, sag wagons, or other outside support available. Be prepared for any circumstances you may encounter including, but not limited to: medical emergencies, navigational errors, inoperable equipment, wild animals, and stinging/poisonous insects and plants.
PLEASE DO NOT UNDER-ESTIMATE THE EXTREME DIFFICULTY OF THIS EVENT.