Monday, June 6, 2011

Santa Cruz and Giant Demo day.

I recently got to check out some new bikes from Santa Cruz and Giant. Here is my XC racer biased take on what I had a chance to try.

Santa Cruz Blur Trail Carbon size M - this bike has potential to be one of the most fun bikes you ever have owned, if you live in the right place. At first it was a bear on the tight XC trails of Darling Hill at Kingdom Trails. The bike pedaled well enough actually really well, but was just too damn slack to make tight turns. after I left some air out of the front shock to get it to feel plusher and the bike become almost fun on tight singletrack. My own 29er was still alot more fun, as was the tallboy both of which have much steeper head angles.  Then I hit a trail called kitchell. Kitchell is a flowly Slope style downhill with berms, tables, and pumpable rollers. This bike really came alive on this trail and begged for more. It geo of being low,slack with 5 inches of travel made this thing ride on rails down this trail. It was a joy to manual over the tables, and really loved being thrown into the turns. Overall I think this bike is not a great bike for most place in vermont, or most places back east but if your deal is pedaling a couple hours to get a long fast flowly or technical decent this could be the most fun bike on the market.  this would be alot of fun on say Porcupine Rim,Moab, Ut or Flying Dog, Park City, Ut.
Compenents - Full XX including, an XX revelation, and brakes, and fat tubeless tires. everything on this bike worked flawlessly
Santa Cruz Tallboy Alloy size M -  This is a great bike, its eat up trails with speeds, quickness, stability and flat out just steam rolled terrain. It was way better at tight EC riding than the Blur TrC,  the bike climbed over technical stuff that was great but wasnt as plush as a maestro bike. Bike maintained it line really easily and I cleared several tech sections that give me fits on my hardtail SS.  The quirk though are this, in really tight stuff it just did not feel right, the front end was sometime tough to control and felt very 29er in the wrong ways as well as the good ways. My monocog by comparisons is alot more nimble on tight trails
components - Full XX again - the shifting was less than great on this bike. It was clunky and frequently missed shifts despite me trying to reindex it. I chaulk it up to being a beat on demo bike.
Giant Anthem X 29er size M - you know the song anything you can do I can do better? This bike is the fastest XC bike I have ridden in my short life. I do not know what makes it so fast. but the stiffness from the BB30 BB, the stiff frame, the big wheels or maaaybe my knickname Josh Lemond. Whatever it was even in the parking lot it was apparent that this thing get off the line quick and can hold speed like no other. Climbing on the road it was easy to maintain a high speed and burst when I wanted to. Once on dirt it just had ridiculous traction on the uphill in any type of conditions.  On singletrack once I got the fork air right , this bike ripped despite it dumb overinflated tubed tires. Nearly perfect, Jedi like handling.  every thing I didnt like about this bike could be easily changed. I will own this bike eventually.
Components - Full XX - rear shifting was great, brakes were amazing, front shifting didnt like to go to the big ring. Tires were tubed and it rolled slower, rougher and cornered slower because of it. It could have used bigger than a 2.1 on the front of it as well. Giant put tubeless on your demo bikes!! the stock Fizik seat flat out blew and was like sitting on a skinny cinder block.  I also feel the stock stem was bit long, and the handlebar could have used alot more sweep.

Sleepy Hollow trail report

 On friday, mother nature finally stopped crying about the loss off all the beautiful snow we had here in Stowe for the winter of 10-11. Finally giving the trails a chance to dry out enough so that riding on them would not destroy them for good. Being that this is my first off season being spent in Stowe, I have been exploring every local trail system that I have had time to explore. Friday's destination was a very scenic and secluded spot, in Hungington, Vermont called Sleepy Hollow. Its about 40 minutes west of Stowe, Vt.

 We basically did the Jedi Force Loop shown here. Part of this trail were really fun.

Erik on a rooty, with rock slabs decent that was old school steep but alot of fun.

me on the same trail on a steep little roll down

but with it being early season, some trails were just a tad soft and steep for me on my trusty Single Speed.  On the loop there was everything from really well designed flowly almost buff singletrack, to technical rock roll down and drops. The cherry on top was the final decent down Getting Better which is more open, and flowly than any other trail we had a privilege of riding.  Overall this is a really sweet little place to ride and can be combined with Hinesburg Town Forest, and Carse Hills to form some epicly large XC Mountain biking loops. Think 50 plus miles! The Fellowship of the wheels website has more info on these trails and all off the Greater Burlington Area trail system.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Best and Worst of it.

Cross is chaotic. Sometimes you rock times you dont. Last saturday I did both in the same day.

First I just want to say that the Morgantown Monster Cross was by far the best cross course of the year. JR is doing a great job with this series and this course. The course had everything including the run up from hell.

SS Race

  After a very nice front row call up for my second in points. I was happy to be starting next to pflug and montana.  The start was pretty chaotic and a found myself sitting pretty far back in the SS/Cat 4 field.

Marc Glass had a really great start and was holding the Gerry's wheel for the first lap of the race. On the second lap the true front runners were moving towards the front. Montana and Gerry were pulling away together which was to be expected. I moved past alot of strong riders and was finding myself in no man's land. Morgan Miller was moving up fast to join me though.

For the second week in a row me and morgan would battle. My Cross Bike vs his MTB and I thought on this course that I had much better advantage over him. The course was smoother, and the turns were grippiery than  last week at Lost Creek. A fall in the sand pit from me left me in 4th chasing down Morgan. Instead of passing him like I would have weeks past I sat in and let him push wind.  For 1 lap he lead, and I got good rest. It was then time to fly or so I thought. I could here him breathing hard, about as hard as I was breathing. I got a lead and was faster on the run up from hell. I guess all that running was paying off....or it was just the lighter weight cross bike being easier to carry.

 This run up was tough. On a SS bike I think it was un clearable, some of the stronger 3/4 and elite group were able to ride it. Everytime I hit it thought I gave it my all knowing that there was a sweet SL downhill though some trees to recover on.

On the last lap I had pretty good gap on morgan but he was catching up fast. One last time Up that hill and I was givin it all.  Morgan still caught me by the end of the DH and was on my wheel for the sandpit. I carefully rode the sandpit hedging my bets on my sprinting ability. Out on the finishing piece of Pavement. I pounce on the pedals as hard I could and held of a hard charging morgan. 3rd place, according to my best finish of the year.

3/4 Race

The 3/4 race to follow ended up being my worst finish of the year. A really bad start and some glimmers of hope passing riders that I should be passing I caught up to my buddy Jason and being the nice friend I am, I wanted to put both of us into the pain zone.

I was just to exhausted from the first race to safely go fast though and it would soon show in an epic barrier fall. It was scarier and looked worse than it was. I was really stunned about the fall. Jason words to race him remotivated me. It was like remotivating a drunk to go fall down again. I caught up to jason and passed him again, some friend I am, eh?  I then proceeded to fall right in front of him. Yep. This was not going good. I start soft pedaling contemplating what I was going to do. My buddy Tim passed me missing a brake pad. I then decide to be charitable and give him my bike. My bike is tiny compared to his. We then both dropped out and joined the hecklers spraying people with whipped cream on the run up from death.

My first cross DNF. IT kinda of sucks but I literally just wasnt feeling it.

I am feeling the last cross race(s) of the year this weekend in Bruceton Mills and the start of ski season is less than 2 weeks away.

I do stink after cross race sorry Gerry

Monday, November 8, 2010

I won! ....for one Lap. Murrysville CX classic Race report

After a not muddy but REALLY bump and tight cross course in central WV yesterday. I was prepared for Murryville since there was no SS class at Murrysville I was running 3/4 men. I had a secret weapon though today. My buddies Redline Conquest Pro. After a couple laps of preride I was happy to have gears there was a couple uphill but on in particular that would have been a pain in the ass on a SS due to the hairpin prior to it.

 the course was varied much faster in sections than any of the ABRA races, some hard off cambered turn, the barrier were smaller and closer than what we have been doing in WV, and there was also some stiff climbs.

I lined up inside and first row, and no call ups so I stuck there! 6 of the top ten are first row

On the start initially I was only doing ok but after a couple hundred yards I was catching people, not only catching people but catching them easily I put in the Big Ring and hammered up to first. I entered the first grass section with actually a little gap. Surprised myself on the start thats for damn sure first time I have ever gotten a holeshot in my life. I kept it nearly flat out and lead the entire first lap. Start of the second lap I was still leading but hoping for some help from Todd and Jordan on the road section. It never came... second lap goes by Todd get past me really quick but I pass him again at the barriers. At the start of the third lap I say to him let put sometime in the other guys, I was out of breath and he didnt hear me. eventually there was a group of 4 of us and we are riding strong. My sticky seat was catching my shorts on remount and making it really hard to pedal with my shorts falling off.  Tim Baur eventually catches us while Brad goes off the back. Tim goes off the front. Tim starts dropping back. 2 laps to go Todd and Jordan are off the front at least a 10 second gap to me, I'm third, Brad is catching me in fourth and Tim was coughing up a lung, sorry tim but I heard you coughing when I passed you. Great job staying strong for 5th though.

Brad passes me just prior to the barriers before the last lap, I catch his wheel on the final time though the start finish line but I only hold until the grass. I still put out everything I have to try to catch back up to no avail. I truly left nothing out there today. 110 percent effort. 4th place behind 3 rock stars in a strong and big(30 plus riders I think?!) 3/4 field.

First lap trying my best to Bushwack the entire field

2nd lap me and todd hitting the barrier together.

Its 45 degree and I was getting to hot, I look like I know what I am doing here.

Jordan my dreaded friend went on for the win.

WV Night Club Cross

Thoughout the entire week I was looking forward to yet another cross race. The adrenaline high of cross racing is so great that the entire week kinda of suck. Monday suck the most and its almost down right depression from the lack of endophines flowing though your blood. Although the week the weather report were forecasting snow.  Being that skiing is my number one sport off course I was uber excited. Saturday finally came and at my house snow.

On the drive down though from Uniontown to just south of Morgantown it was snowing hard in areas heck some areas had snow on the ground! me and my road trip mate Jason were now really stoked to get a sloppy, cold wet snow cross race. Sometime just prior to Lost Creek, Wv though the snow stopped and sun came out. At the venue the race wasnt even muddy! ca va.....

Whatever! cross racing is fun no matter what, but oday would just be pain with maybe alittle bit of fun. Preriding the course I found that I was extremely over geared and that today's course was extremely bumpy. Never has  a otherwise benign grass field been such a bad ass mutherfer as today. That course kicked my ass. Hell I endo in a ditch on my preride! The grass was like riding on velcro, there was as many hairpin turns as Gunnar is old(which is alot), and it was bumpy as a ski mogul run. Did I mention there was singletrack section that led to a ditch that was pretty hard to bunny hop on a single speed speed? Then there was an slick off cambered run up to quick remount steep DH.

Start of the race after some hard effort warms up though I felt good and was thinking I would be better than most.  My call up was nice for a good start

I didnt totally suck at the start and ended up maybe 7th wheel. A hard effort though the first lap put me in second not to far from the Pflugger. My belief in cross racing is to go hard at the start no matter what. trying to ride though traffic is a waste of energy.  I kept a strong effort in a attempt to try to chase down Pflug unsurprisingly it didnt work. It did however solidify the gap I had on the field with the exception of local nightcluber Morgan Miller. Morgan was riding a lower geared SS mtb and I have to say that wouldnt have been a bad choice for today.

So an epic 3 lap battle ensued. Every time I would get a gap I either have to slow down to breath, get caught up in lapped traffic which 3 laps in is when we started to lap people, or I would have to dismount and run that stupid ditch when the MTB was able to bunny hop it. In the end morgan seized a moment on the run up with traffic and got me on that run up. smart move and after 3 laps of trying to out run him I was so beat my pace and motivation dropped way off. After a couple hundred yards of recovery, I went hard again to ensure Marc Glass wasnt going to catch me. The reality was me and morgan put in such a strong effort that noone was really that close at all in the SS class.

So a hard fought battle and a 3rd place

hopefully some pictures of the actually racing soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WV cross weekend Marilla and WVU. I keep dropping myself.

I have been working my ass off to try to get faster at cross, mostly because its so much freaking fun! its also chaos most of the time sometimes with very little control.

 - Marilla Park Cyclocross • Carrera De Los Muertos

The race of the Dead, proved to be one of my most trying race this year. I committed many blunders today.

the marilla cross race was much more technical than anything we have rode on thus far, its truly did favor MTBs IMO or just might be that I am not as good of a cross bike rider as I was thinking.

1. I rolled up to the start thinking smugly "hey I was the third best SS last week" I am getting a call up. NOPE. noone got call ups. I sheeplishly moved way into second row.

2. I feel so many time on loose corners and overall rode like donkey poo.

3. I recently switched to single release shimano cleats to keep from popping out when mashing my SS uphill. guess what on the hill of death I wasnt releasing.  the hill of death

4. I attacked Marc and John when I should have just kept going strong, instead they smartly dropped my ass and I could never recover.

I ended up 5th place which according to was my second worst race this year after the first SS race of the year at Waynseburg. Good news? I beat Don Powers again call it revenge cause he is much better MTBer than me!

me getting ready to run past Powers

Me railing hard into the Hill of Death

me laughing at how terrible I was on the run up. photo.

and Pratt got a great one of me warming up

I also found out after the race that my square tapered cranks was done. I hate square tapered cranks with passion I am not ever willing running one again after this season. Luckly pathfinder hooked me up.

After  helping set up the course for the next day and some fun times in WVU town on devil's Eve and a surprisingly good night's sleep in a crowded college apartment(thanks Ryan!), I was feeling better the next morning for......

Day 2 - WVU Cross aka White Park aka the base ball field cross.

Day 2 of the weekend brought us one of the more varied cross courses off the year thus far. It was also sprawling and not compact like the rest of the ABRA course this year. The course started out with a road section after 2 sweepers put you out on to a very root hairpin on to 2 basketball court hairpins, some twisty grass stuff to a long straight till a quasi run up that most anyone rode everytime. it then went into a playground with the the worst gravel of the year so far.  After the playground short steep little climb to a hair pin back down the hill leading to a couple more hair pins then down to the mud pit of doom by the low baseball fields. You then started a medium length gravel road section that generally went uphill. this lead you into the 3 baseball infield in a row that was VERY tricky to navigate at first as the sand had such varying levels of traction. Till the final road section with a 180 turn before the finish line.

SS race 

 I showed up and got front row start spot. Beside my unclipping fail going into the first gravel pit I had a really good race, Ill give it a 8 outta of 10. seems to think it was second best race of the year and I can agree with it. I stayed strong the whole time and eventually caught montana but he got away again before the finish. Still only a 8 second gap to him is the closest I have been all year and Gerry didnt totally crush us either but then again maybe gerry didnt want to totally crush us either. 3rd place behind Montana and Gerry is ok and i got closer to them so I am happy.

The quasi run up that was clearable everytime

start of the gravel road section did I mention how cold it was?

3/4 race

 I was feelign good so I signed up for the 3/4 race. This would be what I thought was my best race this year in cross from a effort stand point. agrees. I started strong and was sitting in the back half of the top 10. I continued to move up and ride a pretty clean solid race. I was eventually finding myself in the top 5 then the top 3, and for a very brief moment I was second. While I was second with Duncan Oliver on his fast crossized Superfly I tried to drop him on the road and really just drop myself. The MTBer were killing it in the  baseball fields and I well wasnt. He eventually got past me, and Jason Cyr made me look like I was going backwards and evnetually Duncan's WVU teammate Todd got past me. I recovered and held of the ever fast Joe Lydic for a 5th Place finish. We (being place 2nd -5th) also were closer to beating Jacob Grantham that anyone has been in weeks.

My painface and my brief time in second

close up from

overall a great weekend I look forward to a double(maybe triple) header this weekend, should be cold muddy and maybe snowy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

ABRA CX #3 Little Washington

today brought me down to Washington, Pa which at 40 minutes to get to was probably the easiest race for me ever to drive to.

As always in cross I was late, got there at 10:20, registered, dress, drank some HEED, downed some clif shots and went out to warm up at 10:35. soon find out that my 40/18 gear is pretty fing stiff and I am no where near spinning it out anywhere. Panic ensues and I begin to try to change my bike to a 38/18. At about 10:56(11am start) its together and I made the right choice with this gear. The course wasnt practically hilly, it just had dont of tight turns and the longest straight aways were maybe 200 yards long the 40/18 pretty much made no sense to me.

Due to my crappy race at Waynesburg  2 weeks prior I knew I wasnt getting a call up. Gerry Pflug, Montana Miller, Rob and Don got there though. It wasnt so bad I was only second row back. At the start I get clipped in fast and quickly find myself getting to be in the front group. Half way's though the first lap its me, Montana, Gerry, and Rob Lochner pulling away from the rest of the SS/cat 4 field. This was expected, well except I didnt expect to be there.

Montana though in a effort which caused Gerry Pflug's chain to drop right here

after Gerry dropped his chain, which I guess this is luck's way of keeping Gerry in check I grab on to Montana's wheel for 2nd place. Lochner didnt match this and was left in 3rd. Me drafting a very speedy Montana.

The next lap I do an ok job of keeping up with Montana, but I am truly running at 11. I hold his wheel for most of the second lap but lose it on the long flat section. this was un in the spiral of Doom entry.

He was able to put this much into me in such a short period of time

I though that would be the last I would see of him, but coming into the barriers he was on the ground. I got with him again. He was simply to fast and I was running at above my breaking point already. He slowly put a minute gap into me(according to my dad). I continued to run at my breaking point which was getting critcal at this point in time, a couple really stupid remounts and 2 falls now had 3rd and 4th aka Rob Lochner and Marc Glass Bearing down on me. The Pflug also was no longer having bike trouble and was sitting in 5th moving up fast.  Rob and Marc caught me on the long straight to pavement and I couldnt match them at first, but after the first tight turn I was thinking they must have used a decent bit of energy to catch me so I start to go into the red again.

Rob leading, Marc, Me and Gerry

I am figureing the Pflug can actually help me I put my head down and wait for his pass

I then grab his wheel down the road section and held it till the run up.  It was a great boost and put me decently ahead of Rob and Marc. thanks pflug! For the next couple laps I start to put much less effort into the  slow sections but give 110 percent on the faster longer straight away. I also stopped making stupid falls.

It was still painful

it was tons of fun, there is nothing I love more on a bike than carving turns

I ended up keeping Marc Glass at bay, I also got some time back into Montana but not enough to make it a race again. Finished 3rd in SS behind Montana(2nd) and Pflug(1st). Actually pretty stoked on that, still wishing I can some how get a 1st but Pittburgh wasnt built in a day you know?

I am sure Montana and Gerry will blog about this at some time also more pictures to come.