Tuesday, September 29, 2009

French toast?? (XDX 2.1)

When I first threw a leg over a 29er in the spring of 2008 one of the better looking tires out there was the XDX. Fast forward a year and a half and unfortunately not much has changed in the 29er tire world. Anyone who has talked to me long enough has most likely heard me voice my displeasure on the subject of 29er tires. In my opinion most of the tire company's seem not to be able or are unwilling to produce a durable tubeless race tire in the 29er version at a decent weight.
Except for Bontrager. Bontrager seems to be assembling a nice line up of 29er tires. Seems weird for a company (Trek) to have such a long line of 29er tires but not a long line of 29er bikes, But who's complaining? I'm not interested in Trek bikes anyway and I guess Fisher is a subsidiary of Trek but I'm not talking about bikes here. So if you own a Fisher or a Trek and I've offended you... Well you get the idea.
Back to the tires. The XDX has a thick casing to keep you from ripping the sidewalls and it works very well, My XDX tires show significant sidewall scuff but not one cut. As a matter of fact in the year and a half on at least 4 sets of the tires I can't recall one flat due to sidewall failure. The tire has a nice full feel, almost like a inch of suspension. This suspension quality is what keeps me coming back for more. At 59.95 a pop that's saying a lot.
The tread is a different story. Although this tire rolls very well on hardpack fire road and paved roads the "french toast" shaped knobs require some finesse to ride in anything but hardpack and loam and seem to wear very quickly. As the tire wears tread flats seem to become frequent and Stan's doesn't seal these tires at all. Must be why they don't recommend Stan's sealant, Duh. Also I must mention the tire slips on wet rock like the tread is lubed. While in practice this may improve bike handling its not something you want while racing. The knobs are well supported and don't roll over as the tire begins to slide. A good quality in dry hard corners, not so good on wet rock. The tire also needs to be "broken in". This can be done by riding it on the road for a while to get the shine off. In the mud the Bonty XDX (when new) offers decent traction and does not pack up at all. When the tire is worn (in the mud) it spins like a slick with every over torqued pedal stroke this singlespeeder can muster. This is when I start thinking about other options (like at Jungle this past weekend), But unfortunately there aren't many. So until then seems like I'm stuck with my Trek tires.

Suspension: 5 of 5
Mud shedding: 4 of 5
Rolling resistance: 4 of 5
Durability: 4 of 5
Puncture protection: 3 of 5
Cornering: 3 of 5
Weight: 3 of 5
Traction: 2 of 5

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rumble in the Jungle

Campmor H2H Race #7, Rumble in the Jungle, West Milford, NJ

...Hope the rain stays away...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Off season training, Balboa style...

Every season In the spring I come in feeling great. Super strong on and off the bike. A full winter of crosstraining ie: lifting weights, Snowshoeing, rollerblading, trail running as well as riding has me fit, strong and ready to go.
But somewhere around April just about when the "real" racing is about to begin the workouts change. Slowly the crosstraining is phased out replaced by more race specific riding..

By June I've become one dimensional, Only able to ride a bike well...

By September I always regret this...

This Saturday Gerry and I took steps to change this.
Not wanting to waste money on joining the gym this year we cleared a large space in the woods behind his house for our "gym". It's crude, I know, but it's free and if you decide to quit after only a few months there are no contracts to break and best of all no stories to make up about being out of town "taking care of your sick aunt's cats in Wichita". Besides that who wouldn't want to be outside?

..Bench..(for abs, chest or whatever else I can dream up)

..Pullup bar..

..Step up station..(for lateral stepups, jump squats, etc.)

We also have a Farmers walk station where you pick up a large weight walk it up a trail only to return and a large flat rock for squat thrusts, cleans and shoulder work.
My first workout was on Wednesday followed by a thirty minute trail run and man I'm sore. I'm looking forward to getting back in shape. Its all about changing it up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shenandoah 100 recap

Down to the mountains of Virginia this weekend with the guys from Darkhorse for the Shenandoah 100 with zero thoughts of doing anything but finishing. Somehow the mountain gods were on my side and I ended up with so much more. The bane of my existence (the blazing sun) was completely absent this day and the temps were cool. So cool some were wearing arm and leg warmers at the start. Perfect Monte weather.

My plan was to ride this "race" at my training pace and hope for a sub 9 hour performance. I finished in 8 hours 2 minutes (16th overall and fastest singlespeeder) not bad for a off season race that I did like zero training for, not to mention the fact that I haven't finished a race in about 2 months so my confidence was at a all time low.

We were up at 4:30 and before the sun was up I was sitting in line with about 500 riders waiting for the start. Due to the dusty conditions the promoters decided to pace us out with a moto onto a flat straight road about 1/2 mile away.
Neutral start is over and I'm somewhere mid pack trying to do as little as possible taking advantage of the enormous draft from 500 riders (at this point I lost a little respect for TDF riders). At the prerace meeting the promoter announced there would be a prime at the 10 mile marker for the first singlespeeder and I knew If I was to have any chance of doing well I was not going to challenge for it.
The first 31 miles to aid station 2 went without a hitch, Just riding my race not allowing myself to get caught up in any craziness that accompanies most races in the first hour or two. Passing a few riders, some passing me back, most I would see again soon, some with punctured tires. Just settling in nicely.
Between aid station 2 and 3 I started to have trouble with my legs (some slight cramping) but I was able to stretch on the downhills and thank god they had endurolites at station 3. I would later take them at every aid station.
3 to 4 fairly uneventful, Just trying to stay hydrated and fueled for the big climbs ahead. Cramps seem to have subsided but still give me a little twinge every once in a while as if just to say hello.
Aid station 5 is about 3/4 up the top of a 25 mile climb with the last 4 miles before the station being the steepest, something like 15% I've heard. Rolling out of 4 I hooked up with a gearie who pulled me to the base of the climb. This would turn out to be the winning move. On the false flat before the climb (with me sucking major wheel) I would come across who at the time was in first place Gunnar Shogren (Cannondale). We went by so fast he barely gave a effort to jump on. I didn't know at the moment but I was now first single speed and about 35th overall. The climb continues after aid station 5 for what seems like forever (this is where I started to respect TDF riders again) and the downhill to aid station 6 is hardly worth all the up you just went through but looking at the profile it seems to get easier from here. Everything seems easier now.
At aid station 6 Laura Winbury was volunteering and informed me I was about 20th overall and 1st single gear weirdo to come through. Something clicked and at this point I put my race face on and managed to cover the final 12 miles in about 43 minutes to finish this debacle.
Getting ready to pop the champagne.

Exhausted from the effort I cleaned up and waited for my teammates and new friends to roll in. Plopping my tired ass near the finish line, eating many cheeseburgers and just taking in the scene I may have even shed a tear or two.... Maybe
Thanks to all the guys at Darkhorse cycles racing for making this a super fun weekend, one I will surely remember for a lifetime. You guys put the fun in racing and that's what this dopey singlespeeder needs.
Next up: who knows, who cares. How can you top this?

...Results... www.mountaintouring.com

Monday, September 7, 2009

What happens at Shen, Stays at Shen

When we arrived there was a large bear-like creature in our campsite.....

C-Dubs adding some "special sauce" to his drop bag.....

Somehow this Trek 69er frame is now in my possession.....
More on this later.....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wanna save some money, Kid

Second WTB laserlite disk hub casualty in a two week span. When am I gonna learn? Sometimes you get what you pay for. Repeat after me: A single speeder should never "cheap out" on a rear hub.
So now Im off to SM100 with a 40 pound rear wheel. Surly hub, Straight guage spokes and a screw on ACS BMX freewheel. This is my bombproof winter setup. Did I mention the bolt on axel? Now I have to carry a socket set for a hundred miles. Sweet.
Oh, and I'm stuck with a 34X19 so there surly be some walking in my future.
Sounds like fun...