Monday, August 27, 2007

Bring on Cross Season

Is it fall yet? Cyclocross season is right around the corner. Cyclocross racing is probably my 2nd favorite form of bike racing (endurance racing being the 1st). I've been kicking around this idea in my head of converting my 'cross bike over to a singlespeed. I knew had enough parts laying around to pull it off. Well tonight I pulled the trigger.

I usually get my ass handed to me in these races. Now I have an excuse. BRING ON THE PAIN.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'm Sold

Ok, this 29er thing is real. I'm finally able to get some time on this thing and ride it on some of my local trails. We were at trail near where I live called Fountainhead. If you've ridden it you know that it has some challenging hills. They're not long but they are really steep. We'll there is this one hill that I've never been able to make it up on my singlespeed. There was a root at the top that would steal all your momentum and I'd just stall out. Well today, on the 29er, I made it and with a pretty tall gear. That big tire just rolled right over that root. It was good.

I've also had some time to think about the up coming race down in Richmond, 18 Hours On The Farm. I've pretty much got my plan together. I'm basically going to destroy myself at this thing. If I can walk at the end I didn't ride hard enough. I got 9th last year and I want to improve on that. I've been feeling pretty strong the last few weeks after going through a slump and I think I'm ready.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Wilderness 101

Here’s a quick report on the Wilderness 101. This is a back country race held near State College Pennsylvania. This is the first time I’ve done this race so I really didn’t know what to expect plus I was also going in on a new bike with these crazy big wheels. I had some doubts about how this whole thing was going to go down. In addition the weather was promising to be super hot and humid.

I've always enjoyed the start of these races. Everybody starts off in one mass group and we pretty much own the road as we make our way through town. The group stays together until we hit the first fireroad climb and guys start dropping off the back. I settle in with a big group of other singlespeeders and we get this kind of cool pace line thing going. All of us spinning our asses off.

The first 40 miles fly by and I find myself actually looking forward to climbing some hills after all this flat fireroad stuff. Well, as they say be careful what you wish for because we hit the first of two really long fireroad climbs and they absolutely destroy me. It’s getting hot and we are exposed to the sun the whole way up. I had to stop and one point because my heart rate got so hight that I started seeing blue spots. This seems to go one forever but finally I get to the top, get to go down a for a bit and then I had to do it all over again. Brutal.

I’m 71 miles in and feeling ok. I’ve found my 2nd wind and I’m climbing the hills better. It’s brutally hot and humid but I’m not cramping up. I’m walking some of the hills but that’s ok a lot of the other guys are too. I roll into checkpoint 5 with only 14 miles to go. I can see a light but is it the oncoming train? I grind out last few miles and roll in at 10 hours and 15 minutes. I had a rough goal of trying to finish in 11 so I’m really happy with my result. I ended up coming in 21st in the singlespeed class and 85th I think overall, 79th in men open

I need to talk about the bike for a bit. I was riding my new Vassago Jabberwocky, a 29 inch bike. I’ve never really bought into the whole 29er thing, I’ve always kind of thought it was fad. We’ll I’ve completely changed my mind. This course had a little bit of everything. Tons of fireroads, steep climbs, some twisty single track and rocky single track. The bike handled everything great. It does seem to let me go down hill a bit faster and I love climbing on it. It’s great on technical uphills where those big wheels seem to roll over the rocks with less effort. Even after being on the bike for 10 hours I felt less fatigued than I would have if I was riding my 26” bike. I was really happy with the WTB tires too. I was running a big fat 2.5 Weir Wolf up front and fast rolling Nano Raptor on the back. They worked great on the fireroads but I did wash out in some sand once. I also think that if it ever rains again that the Nano Raptor is going to get replaced with something a bit more aggressive.

So up next is 18 Hours on the Farm down in Richmond.

Few pictures.

Just part of the campsite. I there were 350+ racers?

A little reward after the ride

The open category winners

Singlespeed winners

Tandem Class winners (That's Rob Lichtenwalner (Vegan Rob) and his wife on the top spot. I was riding with them towards the end)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

So I got the frame on Tuesday and finally finished it tonight. Couldn't believe that, I figured I wouldn't get this thing setup until the SM-100.

I went with a black and gold thing. I kind of had my alma mater in mind, Michigan Tech, as I planned out the build. Black bikes are cool, you can do just about anything you want and it turns out nice.

Comes in at 22.5 pounds

Thanks to the following

Vassago Cycles
White Brothers

Big thanks to Tom at The Bicycle Escape for letting me hangout yesterday to build it up.

I took it out for about an hour tonight down some dirt double track and I also climbed and descend some big dirt mounds (urban mountain biking at it's best). First impression is - wow fast bike. I think it has to do with the bigger wheels and the faster rolling tires. I was flying along the dirt and paved sections with ease.

It seems to climb as well as my 26" bike. I was riding it in this culvert that was made of concrete with big rocks embedded in it and it seemed like the big wheels rolled over stuff with less effort. Nice. This is a relief because I feel like one of my strengths is climbing hills. I was doing some sprints on it and it seems to accelerate very well up hills.

I'm still trying to make up my mind on the descending. I just don't have enough time on it yet. One of the things I was looking forward to on the 29er was a smoother descent. It seems like it's a little better over my 26" from what little I did. I won't know for sure until I get it out on some real trails. The White Brothers Fork seems to have more flex than my Pace and it seems a bit "springier". I do know that those big wheels seem to roll over everything.

No verdict on the tires yet other than they roll fast. It seemed like the rear was hooking up well on the dry, dusty dirt. I was climbing some crazy steep stuff and it didn't spin out on me. I need to play around with the tire pressure a bit I think.

I'm anxious to get it out on some real stuff tomorrow and then of course the Wilderness 101 will be the real test.