DEFINING THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN CYCLIST
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jill janov ken kisiel brian leddy kain leonard josh liberles dax massey riley polumbus james e. rickman becky reimann h.e. sappenfield ernest vogel
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ISSUE NINE Editorâ€™s Note Letters The Big Wheel Revolution by Yuri Hauswald Left Turns Arenâ€™t Just for NASCAR by Erik Baar Anecdotes from the Pit by Rachel Barbara Riders Journal The Romance of La Ruta by Becky Reimann Las Carreras Calientas by Josh Liberles Putting the Style in Slopestyle by Ernest Vogel Mike Janelle â€“ One of the Good Guys by H.E. Sappenfield Fly Over â€“ News and Notes Understanding Aluminum by Mike Ahrens Mental Preparation for Downhill Racing by Kain Leonard Be a Better Shredder by Scott Hackett Try This At Home by Mitch Fedak Paraphernalia â€“ Gotta Have It Bike Reviews â€“ Four Onieâ€™s and Roadie White Mountains â€“ Beneath the Bubble by James E. Rickman Going Places â€“ Community Pages Tailwind â€“ Biking Beers by Ken Kisiel eighteen
The Big Wheel Revolution
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Editor’s Note sideways thinking If Karl Marx had been a cyclist, he’d have had us all commuting to work on flat-black, one-speed townie bikes with fenders and a wide springy seat. Each of us would get a clip to keep our slacks from getting caught in the chain as we pedaled our bikes, at the speed limit, on our way to work a 12-hour shift. This vision came to me in March after reading a letter from one of our readers in Oregon. Regardless of the letter’s Marxist tendencies, I did like the letter for many reasons—that it was handwritten not being the least of them—so I decided to publish the letter in this issue (see page 17). The topic of the letter is the utilitarian use of bicycles, which is a fine topic, but the author went on to chastise Mountain Flyer for not covering enough bicycle commuting and, worst of all, for irresponsibly promoting the use of bicycles as toys. Included with the letter is a photocopy of an article about a fictitious publication called Bike To Work Magazine, which the author would like us to emulate, even though it hypothetically failed. The letter does have some valid points. I agree that we should all commute by bicycle whenever possible. Mountain Flyer’s staff clearly encourages riding bikes whenever and wherever you can. We’ve published articles, one on greening up the sport and one point-blank about the benefits and challenges of commuting by bicycle (see issue No. 4). So just for the record, all of us at Mountain Flyer encourage conservation of resources by riding to work, the trailhead or anywhere you need to go. But never treating a bicycle like a toy, well, that’s crazy talk. Riding bicycles strictly for utilitarian purposes would be the cycling equivalent of celibacy. Forcing utilitarian cycling on a society would fail, just like the hypothetical Bike To Work Magazine did. If I never discovered the thrill of riding singletrack and the adventure of epic rides, I wouldn’t be a cyclist. Instead, I’d probably be driving a jacked-up pickup truck pulling a load of ATVs. When it comes to promoting cycling, I believe that if we encourage people of all ages to get involved in cycling, tempt them, if you will, with exhilaration, adventure and, of course, fun, they will begin to think laterally and involve cycling in the rest of their lives. Maybe they’ll even ride to the grocery store or to work. Cycling is contagious. Like Lyle Lovett once said (only he was talking about redneck-ness), “You catch it on your fingertips and it just crawls right up your sleeves.” So, with all due respect to utilitarian cyclists, Mountain Flyer will continue to promote cycling the only way we know how: by encouraging people to get outside, ride and, by all means, have fun.
Letters to Mountain Flyer Dear Mountain Flyer, I was delighted to receive my first issue of mountainflyer. However upon reading C. Hanna’s review of Hayes Stoker trail brakes I am having second thoughts about my subscription. C. Hanna’s closing sentence contained the phrase “even with six and a half feet of manwich” made me shudder and a little gaggy after I “goggled” the meaning of manwich. The image of C. Hanna in a manwich is disturbing. If these brakes will stop me from being in a manwich I would purchase them. However the intention of the statement is unclear. Mountainflyer please help me understand this review and the writer’s comments. Concerned reader, Nathan E. Means Assistant Professor of Biology Science Department / Columbia College 1001 Rogers Street, Columbia, MO 65216 - Concerned Reader (our editor has been copied on this),
We at Mountain Flyer Magazine have a policy. Leave no reader goggled. Goggling has long been one of the greatest issues the print media has encountered in its inexpungible battle to personify the written word. Yes, C. Hanna is likened to a Manwich®. And, yes his six and a half feet have been highlighted herein, however it is the intention of this publication to bring to light these playful comparisons not for the goggling effect it might have on our readership but for the true beauty that C. Hanna in a Manwich® actually represents. Poetry in a bun. So Bite on That and buy a Merino Wool Mountainflyer Jersey!!! – C. Hanna Dear Mountain Flyer, Ok I live in the mountainous lands of Indiana...please insert as much quality sarcasm as you can here...and I have to tell you that I love Mountain Flyer. I do have one request. With such a fantastic magazine and such a wealth of wonderful builders, trails, and lifestyles conducive to biking, why only two mags
a year? If you ever are able to go monthly, then I think I can finally find the media nirvana I have been looking for! You guys/gals simply rock and I wish you all the success in the world! Cheers, Dave Bradley Dear Mountain Flyer, You probably know this already, but concerning "Ditch AAA and consider Better World Club" on page 65 of magazine number 7: www.betterworld.org is an interesting site, but they do not offer roadside assistance. The correct web site address is www.betterworldclub.com. Thanks for the article on cleaning up the sport. Sustainability is the only thing that will ultimately save us, and it's good to see your fine magazine promoting green efforts. Larry Kovacic firstname.lastname@example.org
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What Killed Ride to Work Magazine reproduced by permission of the Bicycle Paper and Maynard Hershon. Article first published in Bicycle Paper Fall 07 issue.
Just for the record, this is not the first time we’ve been told we shouldn’t be treating something like a toy – mf 17
Photo courtesy Trek Bicycle Corporation
an interview with
The Big Wheel Revolution & a Godfather of Roll by Yuri Hauswald
Cotton had Eli Whitney. Crime had Capone. The 29er and 69er revolution can thank the hardest working “ex” racer Travis Brown (Trek/FRS) for a proliferation of big-wheeled offerings from both Trek and Gary Fisher in 2008. Considering bigger wheels roll more efficiently through rough terrain, as well as provide better cornering stability and climbing traction, it’s not a stretch to consider Brown a veritable Godfather of Roll. The longtime Trek racerturned-product-designer has invested his extensive racing and technical knowledge into tireless efforts developing and promoting big-wheeled technology and the ride advantages that this wheel platform provides. Coupled with Trek’s influence setting industry benchmarks in what makes it to market, Brown is in a unique position to revolutionize a new standard for “acceptable” wheel platforms. For 2008, Trek unveiled the Trek Top Fuel 69er (29-inch wheel in front, 26-inch in back), a bike that provides the best of both wheel platforms and is one Brown has been instrumental in developing and marketing. In addition, Gary Fisher now has a full line of 29ers this year. Brown’s racing started in the late ’80s and his work with Trek developed in the ’90s. In 1993, Brown signed to race with Trek in what became a successful partnership that has seen him segue from racer to product developer and, more importantly, has provided an industry relationship for 15 years. He was instrumental in bringing Trek’s 69er to market and spent considerable time on Gary Fisher’s G2 geometry for the 29er. In his racing career, Brown had what he considers his best win at the 1996 NORBA National Championship Series race in Park City, Utah. That day’s battle between Brown and John Tomac—one that marked Brown’s return from a broken collarbone sidelining Brown from the first-ever Olympic mountain bike race that year—saw the two riders swap leads eight times. In 1999, Brown claimed the overall NORBA National Championship Series, won the inaugural Singlespeed World Championships and competed in the 2000 Olympics. After supposedly retiring in 2005, he won the Marathon National Championships two years in a row. Currently the Trek product development consultant and racer spends his time conducting product launches, testing products, chasing his daughter around and occasionally racing. I can attest to having eaten his dust at last year’s Mas O Menos 100K in Terlingua, Texas, a race that he won on a prototype Trek 69er. I caught up with Brown recently to discuss his fascination with big wheels.
Mountain Flyer: When was the first time you rode a 29er? What were your first impressions? Travis Brown: I rode one of Wes Williams’ bikes a long time ago but didn’t spend enough time on it to really sort out the performance characteristics of the larger wheel. I started spending a lot of time on Fisher 29ers about five or six years ago and made a focused effort to find the differences and advantages of 26 versus 29 inches. MF: What did you do next to help integrate this big-wheel technology into the mainstream? TB: Trek indulged me throughout my racing career by making me custom singlespeeds. That was where I could experiment the most. I was always interested in the technology aspect of bike racing and made myself as much of a resource as I could be during a full racing campaign. But there isn’t enough time to really create the relationships with engineers, designers and product managers to optimize being a field test resource while you’re racing full-time. So I was looking for the opportunity to transition into the product development group for some time. I finally got to the point when I didn’t feel like I had the energy for another full race season campaign. I made a formal request within Trek to move into product design, and they made a spot for me. Also, as a racer, I would always tinker a lot with the bike to try and figure out a set-up that would give me an advantage. Lots of times I would try things that wouldn’t work out as well as a normal set-up, but once in a while I would discover something that was a distinct advantage. I still look at all bikes in that way, how they can be better in general or for a specific condition. MF: In layman terms, can you outline the benefits of 29-inch wheels? TB: The benefits are additional cornering, braking and climbing traction. They have more efficient rolling in rough terrain and additional steering stability. They also have improved rollover, a good anti-endo characteristic. For these benefits, the compromises are slightly more weight, which can be minimized with the ability to run a narrower tire for comparable cushion and traction. Also, the size gives a slightly greater rotational inertia for comparable wheels and tires—this is either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on terrain—and additional space challenges in frame and suspension design. MF: How do you describe the advantages of the 69er mixed-wheel platform? TB: The majority of characteristics that I really like about 29-inch wheels come from the front wheel. Those are improved cornering traction that allows for higher corner speeds. Greater steering stability and improved rollover, which reduces endo potential and reduces fatigue over a long ride. While there is improved traction and rolling efficiency in rough terrain with a 29-inch rear wheel, there are disadvantages that outweigh the advantages in a majority of conditions. Those disadvantages are the extra effort required to lift the front of the bike (step up or wheelie drop), slower whip around in switchbacks, the constraint of space in frame design (chainstay length and tire/mud clearance) and the slightly heavier, less stiff rear wheel. We can always find trail conditions that favor a particular wheel platform like 29/29 or 26/26, but I think the majority of trail conditions favor the 69 wheel combo platform. It surely does
for my riding style and preferences. I think that 26-inch wheeled bikes will always have a place in cross-country racing because of the slight weight advantage, particularly in non-technical, non-twisty courses and courses with a lot of vertical gain on smooth service roads. But as terrain gets rougher, the advantage quickly tips toward the larger wheel size. Also, as you go up in travel, the design challenges increase with larger wheel sizes. MF: Bringing a new wheel platform into the marketplace is somewhat risky for a large company like Trek. How did you convince them that it was a worthy project? TB: I had been experimenting with the mixed-wheel platform on the custom singlespeeds that Trek had been making for me and some other R&D bikes that really didn’t have solid production plans. When a decision was made within Trek to offer a singlespeed bike, I was pretty much given carte blanche to create the model as my dream product. It was that bike, a singlespeed 69er, that got the wheel platform under enough people at Trek and in the field to give the big-wheel platform traction for other categories. MF: Do you think the growing interest in 650B wheels may solve some problems with 29er designs? TB: Well I should qualify my response by saying that I haven’t spent any time on the 650B wheel size. Right now there aren’t tires available for me to make a real comparison for off-road riding. That said, I don’t think there is enough of a difference for that platform to really take off. Right now we can do a fairly good approximation of what the 650B would be like off-road and bridge the performance characteristic gap between 26-and 29-inch wheels just by varying tire size. 650B is up against the same challenges that 29ers initially had of very limited options for forks, rims and tires. The 29-inch platform overcame those challenges because the wheel performance characteristics were distinct enough for people to feel and appreciate and stick with the idea. I don’t see enough of a difference in 650B for many people to commit to it. I could be wrong, time will tell. I would expect that something either bigger or smaller than the current standards would have a better chance at garnering a following like 24 inches or something bigger than 29 inches. MF: Do you think a 29er or 69er can be designed to appropriately fit a person who is 5-foot-2? TB: That height is a very narrow part of the bell curve when you look at the distribution of bike sizes sold. There is definitely a unique challenge in getting the hand position of a rider that size low enough on a 29-inch front end to weight the front wheel enough to get the most out of the additional cornering traction available. There has also traditionally been an issue with toe overlap of the front wheel on bikes for riders of this size. The G2 steering geometry used on Fisher 29ers and Trek 69ers solves a lot of this problem with an increased offset fork. The increased offset allows us to slacken the head angle on a 29-inch front end without growing the trail figure. Both of these changes increase the front-center dimension of the bike without growing the trail figure and unacceptably slowing the steering response at slower speeds. I expect to see the majority of the 29 industry move toward G2 steering geometry as the standard. It solves a lot of problems with 29-inch wheels and not just for small frames. 19
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Left Turns Aren’t Just Add Track Racing for NASCAR to Your Repertoire by Eric Baar So you’ve already ridden Moab, Fruita, Leadville and Durango, and you’ve conquered your local trails. You’ve raced criteriums, time trials and road races. What is there left to do? How about left turns at the velodrome in Colorado Springs? The 7-11 Velodrome in Colorado Springs is the only fully functioning track in the Rocky Mountains and has a strong history of well-organized, fast and fair races. If you’re looking to take the next step up in your current riding skills, track racing can help. Riding and racing the velodrome is a fun, safe and inexpensive way to develop a smooth powerful spin, learn and test race tactics and unleash that hidden demon of a sprint. One thing I love about track cycling is how it makes me look deep into myself and realize my strengths and weaknesses and how to play them against other racers at just the right moment. I enjoy races that are tactically driven like “the devil take the hindmost” where smarter riders can win over stronger riders by positioning themselves well. To get started, I recommend you attend one of the beginner clinics to safely learn track etiquette and get comfortable on the steep, banked turns. Once you are fully addicted to the sport, our weekly race schedule throughout the summer is every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. (A, B, C and men’s and women’s development) and every Thursday at 6:30 pm (A, B, C, women’s open and juniors). The nice thing about our race schedule is it’s set up for the weeknights, so your weekends are still open for that big bike ride in the mountains. You can come to the track just for an intense mid-week workout and some game playing. I like that there are three races on each race night, so if your first race did not go quite as well as you planned, you have two more chances. One thing I see of new riders who come to the track is they are not used to developing power at higher cadences. Most beginning racers feel more comfortable in a slightly harder gear than experienced trackies. The advantage to training and learning to develop power in easier gears is quicker acceleration
and quicker recovery. You will see a noticeable improvement in your other cycling, if you do this. Adjusting your stem and handlebar height can help with smoothness at higher rpms, too. You want to be as aerodynamic as possible because track racing is a flying game. There are no long hills to slow you down, only wind. How you use the other riders and the velodrome’s shape to your advantage is the key to success. It’s also important you understand the rules of the race you are in; choose a tactic and stick with it. Don’t just wait and see. This tactic never works because things happen too quickly in a track race. While track bikes might seem dangerous because they don’t have brakes, I believe it makes for safer racing. Racers are not going to lock up their brakes in front of you and cause a dangerous yo-yo effect. Considering the high volume of track races held, there is hardly ever a crash at the track. Criteriums, by comparison, usually have crashes more often. Track racing makes me acutely aware and I observe everything from the riders around me: the sound of their bikes, the shadows they cast, their history in prior races and the direction of the wind...anything to give me an opportunity to get to the stripe first. There is nothing in cycling like defending the sprinter’s lane, riding on the red line, elbow to elbow at 40 miles an hour. You really should try it. To get there, the 7-11 Velodrome is located at 250 S. Union Blvd., Colorado Springs, Colo., and is open for training from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Rental bikes are available and have been known to win A-grade races. Bring your own shoes, pedals and, of course, a helmet. All the fine print, as well as a detailed schedule of racing and training information, is available at http://coloradousac.org/track/. I’ll see you there! Eric Baar is first and foremost a singlespeed mountain biker, a B+ grade trackie and an A grade professional custom bicycle frame builder in Colorado Springs. His website is www.groundupdesigns.com. 21
ANECDOTES FROM THE PIT:
by Rachel Barbara
running support for 24-hour solo racers How many pizzas does it take to race a bicycle for 24 hours? Amanda and Mark McDaniel wouldn’t know. They go for a homemade pot of stew to fuel their 24-hour efforts. Mitch Fedak is a fried chicken and cheeseburger kind of guy. And Heather Williams, she switches it up a bit; but after nine years of running support for their daughter, her parents Ken and Julie know the staples: chicken soup and gnocchi, browned with butter and cooled. Crewing for a soloist at a 24-hour event can offer even the biggest mountain bike flop a part of the action. But unless you’ve raced yourself, knowing exactly what your racer will want (or need) can be a bit of a challenge. We talked to a handful of racers and their support crews, and all gave similar advice: know your racer, anticipate their needs and follow a plan. Know Your Racer Soloist Mark McDaniel started racing 24-hour events in 2005. He and his wife, Amanda, trade off with friends, racing one event and crewing the next. “In my experience, a support crew is generally critical if you’re going to race just beyond your comfort zone,” said Mark. “Psychologically, knowing that someone’s there, that there’s a hot pot of stew or some hot chocolate going makes the biggest difference in the world. The crux of it is having a really good understanding of each other’s ability levels and moods.” Even running support for friends who may be your best biking buddies doesn’t mean you’ll know that line between pushing them too hard and not pushing them hard enough. “At night, I don’t care who you are, everybody can sit down 22
for at least an hour,” said Amanda. “Get warm, eat something real, rest. Then you have to push them out of the tent. “But if someone looks like they’re spaced out and they’re going to go hurt themselves, I’ll set an alarm and wake them up in two hours. I’ll judge what kind of mental and physical state they’re in and then go from there on how long they should stay in.” Anticipate Their Needs For Amanda, racing all started with running support. “I had a lot of mountain bike friends who were doing Leadville in the ’90s,” she said. “I would be on the sidelines doing support. It was through them that I eventually thought, hey, I can do this, too.” Remembering what she felt like five, 10, 15 hours into a race helps her figure out what other racers will want. “I always make stew. It’s the best thing in the middle of the night,” she said. “It’s hot, it’s got protein and starches, and by that time, you don’t want to be eating bars anymore. I’ll also wear a second jacket to heat it up with my body heat, and when someone comes in, put that on them. “Keep anticipating what they’re going to need. And that’s when you need to give them the ‘you’re doing great’ speeches, when it’s dark out there and cold. Having been out there myself, that’s key to knowing what someone else is going to want or need.” Ken Williams has been out there himself. He’s raced 24-hour events with his daughter, Heather, several times, but today you’ll find him and wife, Julie, running support from a thoroughly pimped-out camp. It’s almost impossible to race solo without support, said
Ken. “A lot of people come and do it unsupported, and then they’re next to somebody who always ends up helping them.” He and Julie don’t mind, though. It’s not uncommon for them to start out just supporting Heather and finish by making friends with all the soloists camped nearby. They’re even known to take care of other support crews. “We just go out and talk to everybody,” said Julie. “A lot of support people are just sitting around with a cooler, and it’s cold. So I invite them in for coffee or tea.” No one told the Williams to bring a bomb-proof heater, a microwave or enough water for half the people set up nearby; they’ve figured it out from experience. “We bring all the equipment and I heat up soup,” said Julie. “I always ask the racers, ‘Can I fill up your water bottle? Can I fill up your Camelbak?’ When they’re really, really tired is when they need the encouragement. And you just say, ‘Let me do that for you.’ Usually the soloists are very independent, but when they’re exhausted, they say okay.” Follow a Plan Nighttime is rough. And there’s no better time to have a plan than when the support crew begins the daunting task of getting their rider back on the course at 3 a.m. “It’s pretty dark between 2 and 4 a.m.,” said Amanda. “Anytime you come in after midnight, it’s still a long way till noon. That’s when you want to lie down and sleep and not go out. That’s when I’ll let someone take a real break.” But, she advised, follow the upfront rules for what the racer wants to accomplish. Are they going to be mad if they sit down for two or three hours?
“If it’s time to go, that’s when you have to be kind of a hard ass,” she said. “Tell them if you want to achieve this, you’ve got to do this. That’s a fine line. You don’t want to push them so hard that they break, but you don’t want to feel like they’re going to have regrets.” Mitch Fedak found that riding the long races is about having your own plan and not forgetting it in the midst of the race. “It’s just so individual, because everybody’s so different,” said Mitch. “One guy I heard about, his goal was to smile. I think because he was so competitive, he’d forget to have fun. So his crew would really stress the having fun part.” Mitch’s buddy Jeff Hemperly, had a simple plan for his support crew: ‘Don’t let me get off the bike.’ “Even if he was straddling the top tube, he was good,” Mitch said. “If I let him get off the bike, he’d lie down and go to bed and not get back up. I think maybe treating people too nice might be a big mistake, that and not following the regime set up prior to the race.” Despite all the talk about plans and regimes, Mitch just tries to remember the real reason he races. “For me, it’s all about going out and having fun. That’s why I go to 24 Hours of Old Pueblo and ride my townie bike in a prison jumpsuit. You don’t need to take yourself so seriously,” he said. “Some people put too much into their support,” he added. “Like some people, if they can’t round up their crew, they won’t go to a race. And that’s lame, too. Just go ride your bike. Everybody got started in these types of events because they had fun. It’s all about riding yourself silly. To me, it doesn’t get any more fun than that.”
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Stomping her way to a sixth place finish in the pro class at the Chalk Creek Stampede cross-country race, Jennifer Tilley (Velo Bella/Kona) still looks calm and collected.
riders journal 25
grizzly loop big sky montana
Rider: Alex Hassman Location: Grizzly Loop Trail, Gallatin Mountains, Mont. Camera Data: Nikon D2x, 12-24mm lens, 1/45 sec @ f13 Photographer: Mike Tittel, www.miketittel.com The Grizzly Loop is one of Big Sky’s best short rides. Although fairly non-technical and a short, 5.8-mile loop, it makes an awesome after-work ride. The views in the Porcupine drainage are incredible. Behind you on the first climb is a great view of Lone Mountain and Big Sky Resort. On this particular ride, I was working like crazy to keep up with Alex Hassman, who is a ambassador and product tester for Cloudveil mountain apparel. He rides like a machine. The ride, which gets its name from the grizzlies that frequent the area, can easily be extended by linking up with other trails in the drainage. Luckily, on this ride, we didn’t come across any of the trail’s namesake mammals.
san ysidro dirty century Everything about Rich Capener’s riding posture points to pain as the Albuquerque rider rounds Cabezon peak on his way to becoming the sixth of 12 eventual finishers of the San Ysidro Dirty Century’s 123-mile tour of torment.
Call it dirty, call it brutal, but don’t call it a race Words and photos by James “did not start” Rickman People don’t really enter the San Ysidro Dirty Century—an arduous 123-mile out-and-back trek from a brewery in Rio Rancho, N.M., to a sacred chunk of rock jutting 2,000 feet above the desert floor in the middle of nowhere. Participants essentially just show up and ride. And if you happen to finish first, don’t expect a prize or swag, though someone might buy you a beer as you lay claim to sweaty, dust-covered bragging rights at the brewery afterward. Other than a requirement to sign a waiver and have a good time, there were few formalities for the March 15 San Ysidro Dirty Century, the first stop in the annual New Mexico Endurance Series. Now in its third “official” year, NMES is becoming one of the biggest non-events out there for serious endurance riders. If stages within the series ever became races with prizes, entry fees and more than 74 participants, series organizers would lose the informal don’t-ask-don’t-tell relationship they enjoy with federal land managers, who control the public lands on which the rides are staged. 28
Former New Mexico resident Matt Turgeon came up with the concept for the NMES about seven years ago when he started riding farther and farther to help recover from a medical condition. “I started getting into some very big, epic adventures, and it started to scare the heck out of my wife that I was doing these things alone,” Turgeon said. “So we came up with a way to get other riders to come along.” Turgeon, who now lives in Durango, remembers riding the first San Ysidro Dirty Century alone. He was gratified the second year when two other riders joined him. A dozen came along the year after that. Lenny Goodell, who became NMES coordinator after Turgeon’s departure from the state, said about 60 people participated in this year’s ride and expects the other events in the series this year to draw close-to-capacity interest as well. Asked about the series’ growing popularity, both organizers can only shrug.
Greg Kaufman of Albuquerque threads his way back from White Mesa at the halfway point of his 82-mile journey during the 2008 San Ysidro Dirty Century.
“It’s just a guess, but I think our average age has to be 35 to 37 years old,” said Turgeon. “It’s easier for folks like us to get into endurance events than it is for us to get into crosscountry races. It kind of captures what mountain bikers like to chase—the Eternal Epic. We’ve taken that concept and turned it into events. Mostly it’s all about a healthy lifestyle and getting folks together.” Goodell echoes the fellowship appeal: “When they’re out there riding, people find a group that’s right for them.” At this year’s San Ysidro Dirty Century, it was not uncommon to see groups of five or six cruising painfully along as the ravages of distance and 8,400 feet of climbing began to take their toll (82- and 91-mile course options were also available). But out on the remote, windswept circuit around Cabezon peak—a spiritual focal point for the Navajo and the apex of the long course—many riders made the journey alone as if they were on some kind of chain-driven vision quest. Jeff Hemperly from Rico, Colo., and Durango’s Mitch Fedak
missed a turn and added 10 miles to the route, finishing just over 11 hours after the 7 a.m. start time. Rider John Stevens from God Knows Where kicked ass, finishing in eight hours and 46 minutes—more than half an hour ahead of second- and third-place finishers Rick Callies and Steven Yore. Organizer Goodell finished in 10:37, while Turgeon had to sit out this year’s event at home with the flu. The New Mexico Endurance Series has several more insane offerings through the riding season. A full list can be found at http://nmes.wordpress.com. Like the dangerously delicious red and green chile that people discover in New Mexico and export to their own locales, the NMES has been the impetus for similar series sprouting up elsewhere. “Last year these guys showed up to ride from Arizona and Oregon, which was pretty amazing,” says Goodell. “They thought the event was pretty cool so they went back and set up their own series using our model. That’s great.” 29
dawn ’til dusk
A rider from team Los Tantos Viejos races down one of the notorious fast sections on the Gallup, N.M., High Desert Trail system during the Dawn ’til Dusk 12-hour mountain bike race. All that dark winter riding pays off for those sleepless endurance riders in what’s considered the Southwest’s unofficial season opener. With ski season just ending in the Rockies and spring starting to blossom, the course for the all-day race is a perfect start to some of the season’s big races. The race, which has a great grassroots, hometown feel, is in its fourth year and pulls in about 300 racers from as far away as Canada.
Riders in the Dawn ’til Dusk race make their way up a set of switchbacks on the Third Mesa trail in Gallup on Saturday, April 12. Great weather at this year’s event made the smooth-rolling singletrack course a blast and helped reinforce Gallup’s budding reputation as a noteworthy mountain biking destination, in addition to its long-standing reputation for Native American art. One of the coolest things about the race is the beautiful Native American pottery, shalakos and Kachina statues that take the place of traditional trophies and plaques.
A silvery strand of glistening water, pulled up the trail by a constant string of racers, highlights the trail for a rider at this yearâ€™s 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.
24 hours in the old pueblo Ice Crystals and Cactus Prickles by Dax Massey As the 2008 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo approached, it rained all Friday, the day before the race, so our time was spent drinking beers (carboloading) and keeping warm in our climate-controlled RV. The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo venue, known as 24 Hour Town, is as much an RV test center as it is a bike race. These people roll in style with everything from snappy little pull-behinds and pop-ups to rockstar-style tour buses. Not to say that campers and purists who choose to rough it out in a tent aren’t part of the town’s culture. In fact, I was part of a four-man team that competed in 2006 without flush toilets, electricity, heat, satellite plasma TV, massage therapists or outside support—all sans RV. And we won the whole shebang. It can be done but this would have been a tough year to be a squatter in 24 Hour Town. It’s Tucson, and it’s not supposed to snow in Tucson, right? As the rain turned to snow after nightfall and Mother Nature callously plastered two inches of slushy wet snow over the high desert of Arizona, everyone retreated to their warm places and hoped for a warmer race day. It was just a little snow. In the morning, amidst muddy roads, collapsed tents and snow-covered bicycles, most everyone was in good spirits because the weather gods promised sunshine in the afternoon. The show went on as scheduled, and by start time things already looked better. As the snow melted, the desert came to life; streams flowed brilliantly in the usually dry arroyos, the cactus proudly displayed brightly colored flowers and everything, even the dirt, sparkled. By lap three, the course had soaked up all the moisture and it made for a very fast and tacky course. You could corner as hard as you wanted and do no wrong. By midnight, the wetness was history—business as usual in the southern Arizona desert—and the trail was littered with pieces of cacti that riders had knocked onto the trail, leaving a minefield for the next riders to navigate. As the race ended, competitors were happy to have the night behind them, especially my team, Shake & Bake. We raced on rigid singlespeeds and pulled off a win in the Duo category. Success is sweet. Kimo Seymour with 16 laps and Heidi Mark with 13 laps won the honorable solo contests in fine style. For complete results and more photos, go to www.epicrides.com.
by Becky Reimann
R OMANCE OF
LA RUTA Vamoose Muchacha!
Thereâ€™s something both exciting and romantic about a mountain bike race that follows the route of the Spanish conquistadores from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe it was the allure of the jungle, the tranquility of the alpine meadows or the unknown that possessed me to enter such an event.
La Ruta de los Conquistadores begins in the Costa Rican surf town of Jaco and for four days follows jungle and paved roads through eight different microclimates and over the volcanic mountain range that defines Costa Rica. After 40,000 feet of climbing and 225 miles, your tires finally stop on the Caribbean beach of Playa Bonita. From the day I sent in my entry, my body and mind were on constant countdown, measuring everything in pre-La Ruta or post-La Ruta. My preparation was simple: put in miles on my bike whenever and wherever I could, work as a mountain bike guide in the summer, commute to work and ride solo 12, 18 and 24-hour endurance races. I live in Ophir, Colo., close to Telluride, so I’m intimately familiar with altitude and intense climbing. When I stepped off the plane in San Jose, the air felt humid and sticky, a stark contrast to the cold and snow I left behind. A wild van ride up twisty mountain roads had me relieved to see Jaco Beach. The day before the race people were nervously riding around, making last minute adjustments. There were pros with impeccable team bikes, regular riders with bikes that had platform pedals and others sporting beautiful boutique bikes. It was fascinating to see the accessories added on for this epic event. To make shouldering a bike easier, some rigged up slings and others wrapped pipe insulation around top tubes. I found out later I couldn’t even lift my bike when it was loaded with jungle mud. My down tube fender would prove priceless though. I tried to separate myself from all the banter about tire pressure, food, chamois cream and chain lube; I knew what worked for me and I wasn’t about to change anything. Race morning had a 3 a.m. wake-up call to eat and get racers and bikes to the staging area. I laid out my pack the night before, making sure my Pepto-Bismol and Tums supply was robust and a variety of food packed. My chain was lubed, tires filled and water bottles mixed. I was ready and surprisingly calm and collected at the start. We lined up en masse in the dark to the tune of Madonna on loudspeakers. The commercial fireworks shooting off 20 feet away from the staging area definitely woke me up. On paper, the first day was the most difficult with 59 miles and 14,501 feet of climbing. If I made it though the first stage, I told myself the following days would only get easier. Convincing, right? The first climb began just a couple miles from the start. A bright blue Morpho butterfly distracted me from the tacky mud and gravel climb, but only momentarily. I was soaked with sweat from the humidity and my lungs felt like wet paper bags. A group of us came upon a racer really struggling and out of water. I didn’t want to give him any electrolyte drink and make him worse, so another racer quickly dumped out his bottle into the ailing man’s bottle. We wished him well and rode on. The route moved from jungle to alpine pastures where cattle grazed on the steep hillsides in the mist. I took advantage of the clear streams we crossed and washed my bike. On a relatively flat, unassuming section I sunk up to my knee in mud while pushing my bike. It felt like moving a loaded oxcart. I looked down and noticed a Chicken Little Pez dispenser; he rode with me the rest of the day. 36
Day 2, somewhere in the jungle, and this push-a-bike section according to the map was “rideable” with a dirt road downhill to follow. An informal La Ruta rule you should make a permanent note of before you go: don’t believe the maps. You can believe there will be some climbing at this race.
The mud led way to a mild gravel road climb, aggravated by the sunny, 98-degree weather. Stopping in the shade, a racer offered me sardines, to me the most disgusting snack ever. Not surprisingly, nobody wanted to share his “perfect energy food.” The climb continued and just when I thought about stopping again, a beautiful woman was cooling off racers with a garden hose. In her driveway, two local men with crescent
LA RUTA computer so I couldn’t see how slow I rode. We snaked up and through coffee plantations stretched in all directions. The climate was cooler and the mountaintops shrouded in clouds. We passed through small villages of brightly colored houses, where dogs and children played in the street. The kids lined up, wanted you to slap their hands and asked for autographs from racers in exchange for a piece of candy. Our reward was a fast downhill where the miles melted away. Of course a cardinal rule of La Ruta is what goes down must go up. I’m convinced that only in Costa Rica is there more uphill than downhill. With the impression that there were only 10 miles left we were faced with a wicked mud-gravel-rock road uphill that led to a super fun, slippery, greasy downhill. Just as I was pedaling through some gluey mud, keeping my momentum going, I came to a complete stop in sink-up-toyour-knee mud. Again. I stared at the short climb. It resembled one of those game shows where they make you run up a slime-filled slide, except they’ve added deep mud and you have to drag your bike up it. The mud stuck to my tires and the wheels decided not to turn, so I cleared it off with my fingers to get them to roll. I encountered a genius with a spatula. After slipping and sliding and grunting my bike uphill, some wonderful Costa Rican was helping racers hoist their bikes over a 10-foot mud cliff. I don’t know how any of us would have
La Ruta de los Conquistadores
wrenches worked on Roadmaster bikes. Kids cheered, “Vamoose muchacha!” A couple of young girls giggled and asked me to speak English to them, and on I rode. The last climb ascended an endless paved road. I chatted with a local man riding this race for the third time. It was the first of many times we rode together throughout the four days. We finished into a pasture where we handed our muddy bikes off to the mechanics. I cringed when I saw them power-washing the bikes, but by the end of this race my bike would see much more abusive treatment. Dinner at the finish line consisted of rice, beans and chicken. Weary and sore, racers boarded buses back to San Jose to the hotel. Once there, my routine was to take a hot shower, stretch, find someplace to eat a second dinner and then sleep. I went to bed elated about finishing the most difficult day, but realized this was just the beginning. The challenge of this event is doing it all over again the next day, getting up at 4 a.m. for breakfast, hopping the bus to the start line and swinging your leg over the saddle. The second day was a challenge from the time I woke up and dry heaved in the bathroom. I put toast in my bag, hoping to eat it later. The big road climb today was paved, which doesn’t mean effortless; I’ve never ridden my bike up, nor seen, such a steep road. Out of easier gears and going 2 mph, I changed my
I don’t know how one day can have so much climbing and really no descending. Just when you think you might start going down, you go up again. It is the cruelest trick of La Ruta, which had a total 14,500 feet climbing on just the first day. The next three days weren’t so easy either. 37
LA RUTA managed without him. This led way to Round 2 of the game On the final day, rain fell at the start line and I noticed a lot show: another downhill that would’ve been really fun except for of absent racers. Injury, mechanical problems, sickness and the ruts, standing water and sludge. fatigue from the three days had taken their toll. To keep from After much laughing, swearing, bleeding and bike dragging, joining them, today’s mantra would have to see me through: the jungle spit me out onto a gravel road, leading to a surreal “Past the plantation, one more climb, flat to the finish.” Not at finish in a shopping mall all true, but the white lie parking lot. This time when I motivated me. I have always handed my bike off I noticed been good at convincing my the bags of commercial body and mind that everything laundry detergent they that’s going on is sane and washed the bikes down with normal, when in reality there’s and I didn’t even care. not too much sanity in it. Day 3 took us up the I have a lot of memories of Irazu volcano with a total certain people this last day, but ascent of 8,707 feet. After a particularly the racer who was rolling start through town out of water on the first day; he with people cheering on the was not riding today, but streets, we began climbing up supporting his teammates. As I through the fog, clouds headed up the last big climb, he floating around us, passing cheered me on, thanking me for potato farmers working in the support. misty fields. We passed an Today, I told myself, only 72 onion farm, and the scent miles of flat and downhill. was so intense I could taste I adjusted my pace accordingly, them, my mouth watering. I but it turned out to be 82 miles. couldn’t stop thinking about Another rule of La Ruta: Don’t onion rings and grilled believe any distance calculations. onions on steak. I could feel myself fatiguing from The summit was cold the humidity and my pace. and rain fell slowly, a I was hungry for real food, sick dangerous combination with of gels and energy bars. It was a a very real risk of hypotherwelcome sight at one of the mia. I kept moving. This was checkpoints to have “papitos,” my favorite part of the entire Team Brick Oven finishes the first of four days of racing. I bonked hard tiny boiled and salted potatoes. about five miles from the day’s finish. All I wanted to do was sit on the race, which oddly enough With all the early rain and side of the road and throw rocks at everyone who passed me. After most people thought of as mud, my chain needed attention. day 1, it theoretically gets easier, 25 percent over, etc. I got good at their nemesis. Speed, At the next aid station, I met a those mind games. momentum and my 29-inch local man with a can of motor wheels allowed me to clean much of the downhill road oil, which worked splendidly. littered with baby-head rocks floating in mud. I passed quite a The roads were arduous. Huge potholes busted up your few racers. Mud and cow poo covered my bike, water bottles rhythm. Never fear, just when you were getting frustrated at the and body. A lot of people fell sick during the race, no doubt road craters, you had to carry your bike across a river. This some from the unfamiliar micro-organisms inhabiting the cow river’s cold, clear, rushing water felt good on my legs. Twenty patties. Modern medicine and a hotel room remedied those who feet from the shore, I almost lost my balance. Had I let go of my were stricken; a couple hundred years ago a bacterial infection bike it would’ve been gone. Shortly after the exciting river ford, could have meant the end of one’s life. a bus of workers cheered for racers at a large pineapple We descended through the agriculture heart of Costa Rica, plantation. A man handed us fresh pineapple rings that were where beef is one of the main exports. Hardy Brahman cattle absolutely decadent. (After the race and back in Colorado, I grazed in nearly every field. I found myself riding downstream looked at pineapples in our grocery store, smiling at the fact in an upstream herd of cattle. One checkpoint I rolled into that they were from Costa Rica.) offered a special treat: hot sugar cane water. Food never tasted We then approached train tracks across a bridge so big it so good, but I paid for overindulgence with a gut ache. As we made my palms sweat. We had had a few kilometers of train lost altitude to the finish, my hydraulic brake mechanism tracks early on in the race. The tracks have concrete ties in most stopped working properly; a front brake and anemic rear brake places because wood rots in the country’s high humidity. You would have to get me through today and the final day. had to be careful as the ties were squishy, slippery and some The scenery opened up as I closed in on the last few miles, missing. It was like walking on a rotten deck, except a large revealing rows and rows of coffee plants covered with bright red river snarls 50 feet below you. The sheer size and poor berries, growing happily in the fertile volcanic soil and cooler, condition of the bridge made my heart pound. damp climate. Once I was clear of the trestle, I was going to stop for a 38
Top: This is that “rideable downhill” they told us about. I'm standing in a rut up to my knees, with barbed wire we had to navigate around. Barbed wire and slippery mud is a bad combo. Left: We stopped and saw the Atta cephalotes, or leaf cutting ants, crossing the road. Even in a race, it’s important to look around at where you are.
quick break, but another racer stopped and quickly asked, “Can you hear that?” Mere minutes off the trestle, a train charged down the tracks. We were both within arms reach of the train cars as they jostled by. Once my knees stopped shaking I got back on my bike. I was fading fast from my pace, the heat, fatigue and false distance calculations. I wanted to be done and never race my bike again. I rolled into the last checkpoint slowing to eat an energy bar. From there they routed us onto sandy road on an ocean beach. It was exhilarating to hear and see the crashing waves. I couldn’t help but think of the Spanish conquistadores and what they felt when they galloped their horses in the surf. I am sure that we experienced similar emotions of satisfaction, release from our efforts and joy at what was accomplished. When I hit the pavement, I felt relief wash over me, just a couple miles from the finish line. I rode by the port where massive ships were stacked in the bay as far as you could see. At the dock, cranes picked up containers of fruit and coffee and loaded them onto waiting ships. The small child in me wanted to
stop and watch the boats, but the end was near so I pedaled on. I came into the beach where everyone was eating, drinking and reminiscing from the past days, my wheels stopped meters from the ocean. I swung my leg over my bike and faltered from exhaustion and the release that La Ruta was over. In the overall standings, I had finished in the middle of the women. Of the 450 total entries, only 40 women had raced. The most difficult part of La Ruta was managing the ebb and flow of emotions and physical state. Throughout the four days, I found myself with the same group of people and developed a bond. La Ruta was just as they promised, a life-changing event. When I got back I was trying to describe it to someone and tears welled up in my eyes. It was a beautiful experience, being on my bike in adverse conditions, riding through an amazing country filled with incredible people. I thought when I returned that I would be over my bike for a long time, but it’s just the opposite. I now have a hunger for bikes and riding that I have never felt before.
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las carreras calientes hot races of the southwest
– a rider’s eye view
In recent years, stage racing in the desert Southwest has become hotter than a steaming, greasy plate of huevos rancheros smothered in chile verde with extra chorizo. We sent Mountain Flyer’s skinny-tired correspondent Joshua Liberles, a first-year pro on the Colavita/NM PB JNF Squad, on one big insane block of stage racing and asked him to chronicle the pandemonium.
The author, Josh Liberles, leads out a breakaway, only to be swallowed up by the peleton near the finish of the downtown criterium at the Tour of the Gila stage race in Silver City, N.M. No worries. This was just one of many races he had a chance to make his mark in this spring.
by Josh Liberles
Okay, cue the appropriate mariachi-style horns and get ready for a whirlwind Ring-of-Fire, six-week racing adventure through the Southwest. To get my fitness to a level that wouldn’t crack until this insane block was done, I worked with my coach, John Verheul. I needed him. I was about to embark on 17 stages, 824 miles and lots of huevos rancheros. At least that was the goal.
Team Tecos controls the pace and protects their leader and race winner, Gregorio Ladino Vega, while the race rolls through the beautiful Gila country in southern New Mexico.
Tucson Bicycle Classic March 28-30 www.tucsonbicycleclassic.com The 22-year-old Tucson Bicycle Classic consists of a hilly, 3.4-mile time trial through Saguaro cacti, an 80-mile road race and a 50-mile circuit race. PROLOGUE The prologue began into a headwind with a fast downhill and some rollers, with a grinding, gradual climb followed by a false flat and a short but steep climb to the finish. Saving something for that last climb was key, and I pulled it off. One race down, one win under the belt. ROAD RACE & CIRCUIT RACE I was elated with the win, but dread started seeping in. I had no teammates. Landis/Trek had six racers including three in the top 10. P&S Specialized, a pro Mexican team, had a five-man team including David Salomon, the 2007 overall win42
ner, sitting in fourth. The odds against me were so stacked it played to my favor. I wasnâ€™t the most threatening to win the GC. The big teams largely ignored me. Salomon got into the dayâ€™s key break and Salomon bumped me into second, where I would remain in the final results, in spite of getting tangled in a chaotic crash in the last kilometer of the final stage. Final GC: 1. Salomon, David 2. Liberles, Joshua 3. Miller, Drew, 4. Gaimon, Phillip 5. Baumann, Ryan Tour del Paso April 12-13 www.tourdelpaso.com Race promoter Dave Halliburton established an impressive stage race in El Paso with an uphill time trial Saturday and a hilly 88-mile road race, crossing the mountains east of town twice in each 44-mile lap on Sunday.
The fat prize list always lures some cherry-picking Rockyregion pros and the Colorado contingent. Anthony Colby (Colavita/Sutter Home) and Matt Shriver (Jittery Joe’s) were tag-teaming the men’s field while climbing phenom Marisa Asplund Owens was looking for the womens’ prize. TIME TRIAL Colby uncorked an impressive 14:05 and Shriver was second at 27 seconds back. Pro mountain biker Damian Calvert (Sport Systems/Mountaintop Cycling) slotted into third at 50 seconds and my teammate, Al Senft, took fourth at 1:07. I was in ninth, 1:40 back. I now had five teammates so the Colorado boys weren’t stealing our money without a fight. ROAD RACE After a flurry of early attacks, I counter-attacked my teammate’s move about 12 miles in. Travis Dixon (Sport Systems/Mountaintop Cycling) came along. Our intention was
to take pressure off of our teammates who garnered better results in the TT. We got to work, increasing the lead while our teammates patrolled the pack for any bridge attempts. We worked together to maintain the gap, as much as five minutes at one point. When we reached the final climb with 10 miles to go, our lead was at two minutes. Dixon began to fatigue and dropped off. I managed a hard enough effort to hold the chasers off until the beginning of the descent towards the finish. I sat on the back of the group, completely blown, doing my best to recover. The order of the top-four for the day was the same as the overall GC. Final GC: 1. Colby, Anthony 2. Shriver, Matt 3. Calvert, Damian 4. Liberles, Joshua 5. Blickem, Ryan Vuelta a Bosque April 19-20 www.vueltaabosque.org The Vuelta a Bosque was the first stage race based in Albuquerque in many years, and it looks like it will stay. As part of the Tom Danielson Junior Road Series, the junior field sizes dwarfed the other competitions. The race featured a tough, hilly time trial followed by a rolling road race the same afternoon. The TT course again proved to suit me, and I took a narrow victory, edging Ben Hoffman (RMCF) by nine seconds. ROAD RACE The out-and-back road race was a ribbon of road along the edge of long-defunct volcanoes with prairies to the west and a spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains to the east. A series of attacks on the long return climb whittled down the field. Masters national TT champ Randy Corcoran proved that at 44 he can still put the hurt on. He attacked at 16 miles to go, and I bridged up. The Rocky Mountain boys chased but couldn’t make contact. It looked like we had the stage and overall GC wrapped up. But the cycling gods were laughing: I flatted with three miles to go. Corcoran took the stage and GC lead. CRIT FINALE My teammate, Steve Ballinger, and I alternated turning the screws on the field in the windy crit. After exchanging breakaway attempts, we narrowed the lead group down to four. With me revving the engine at the front, Ballinger exploded for the sprint win followed by Glenn Walton, myself and Corcoran. Final GC: 1. Corcoran, Randy 2. Liberles, Joshua 3. Carroll, Michael 4. Sippy, Gaige 5. Vangoethem, Doug La Vuelta de Bisbee April 25-27 www.lvdb.info As the weeks went by, the racing only got tougher. Bisbee, Ariz., hosted the next stop with four races in three days: uphill prologue, two hilly road races and a time trial. PROLOGUE The 2.8-mile prologue course started in the center of the old mining-town-turned-hippie-enclave and climbed up Mule Pass. The Tecos pro team quickly put its stamp on the event, with seven riders in the top 10. I was 14th, 1:09 down. SULPHUR SPRINGS ROAD RACE In Saturday’s 80-mile Sulphur Springs road race, the pack 43
stayed together under the dominant watch of Tecos at the front. Gregorio Ladino Vega, winner of the prologue, played his card late in the race, causing a small split as he stormed off to another victory. I had to dig deep on the finishing climb to come in seven seconds behind the lead group. That same afternoon was the time trial: 8.3 miles with a slight downhill and gradual climb to the finish. Ryan Blickem took the win. Kiel Reijnen (Waste Management) moved him into second in GC, 38 seconds behind Ladino. The two big teams were destined to throw down on the final stage. I was 23 seconds behind Blickem and in 11th overall. TOMBSTONE ROAD RACE Windy conditions defined the 87-mile road race. Tecos used this to their advantage, echeloning all nine of their riders across the front and riding at a murderous pace to decimate the field. They reduced the front group to 15 riders: the full Tecos squad, Reijnen and a teammate, a few others and me. In a mad pace, Tecos had a rotation to shelter key riders while the rest of us fought for scraps of wind protection. As we turned into a tailwind and riders began to relax, three riders at the back crashed out of the race, including Reijnen. I came off of the group about 54 miles into the race, joined a chase group and rode a much more civilized pace to the finish, catching some of the exhausted sacrificial Tecos domestiques on the way. Ladino took the overall win. I finished in 14th, 12:31 down. Final GC: Ladino Vega, Gregorio 2. Munoz, Fausto 3. Guenez, Carlo 4. Navarro, Francisco 5. Livingston, Adam Tour of the Gila April 30-May 4 www.tourofthegila.com The hits just kept coming. I only had two days of rest between Bisbee and the start of Tour of the Gila, the toughest race yet. Tecos was back for more in Silver City, N.M., and I figured they were due for their comeuppance. The Gila’s five stages make up one of the toughest races in America, crazy amounts of climbing, hair-raising descents and typically windswept flats and rollers. Many of the best domestic racers prove their worth here. MOGOLLON ROAD RACE The 94-mile Mogollon Road Race has always been my nemesis. In the past I’ve crashed, flatted, broken bikes and been forced to DNF. It’s windy, the pace is fierce and the fight to get a scrap of draft is brutal. This year was no exception. Twenty miles into the race, I flatted. Racing with the pros has its benefits, though. I got a quick wheel from the Colavita team car and surfed the race caravan back to the peloton. Later, a poorly executed feed by Toyota United staff forced one of their riders to crash right into me. By the time I got up and riding, the pack had a gap and it just kept on growing. Although I gradually picked off some stragglers, I was solo for the better part of the final 50 miles. After suffering up the final 5.5-mile Cat 1 climb, I used up a lot of juice on a day I had hoped to ride conservatively. The leader board showed Ladino Vega leading followed by Colby. So much for comeuppance. INNER LOOP ROAD RACE Stage one’s escapade didn’t help, and I got popped from 44
the lead group a little before the crest of the first climb to Pinos Altos, early in the Inner Loop race. At least this time I had a solid group around me but it became clear that we were the grupetto, the laughing group, just looking to maintain a decent pace and keep ourselves alive to fight another day. Far away, at the front of the race, Tyler Wren (Colavita/Sutter Home) drilled the front to reel in a late escape and lead out his teammate, Alejandro Borrajo. In the ensuing melee, Wren found himself with a gap as he closed on the breakaway rider. He gritted his teeth and hammered his way into a field sprint stage win, with his teammates Borrajo and Colby in fourth and fifth. TYRONE TIME TRIAL The hilly 16-mile Tyrone time trial includes decisive climbs, rollers, wind and a five-mile, super-fast, spun-out descent to the finish. Tom Zirbel’s (Bissell) first big result came as a Cat 3 in this race when he smoked the time trial and went on to win the overall. This year he repeated that effort on a larger scale in the Pro/1 NRC race with a time of 34:26. Teammate Ben Jacques-Maynes was hot on his heels, followed by a gaggle of Toyota riders. Ladino’s time of 36:15, 1:49 off of Zirbel’s pace, moved him back to second overall by just two seconds. I gutted out 35th place. DOWNTOWN SILVER CITY CRIT GC contenders typically treat this as a rest stage. Others look for opportunities. I saw Heath Blackgrove (Toyota United) getting ready to jump across to a five-man break midway through the crit and killed myself to stay on his wheel. We made it across after about a lap of chasing and stayed off the front for 18 laps, only to be swallowed by the pack in the final lap. Toyota United was playing for a group finish with Henk Vogels taking the win in front of a fast-charging Borrajo. GILA MONSTER ROAD RACE The aptly named final 106-mile stage features one Cat 1 climb, two Cat 2 climbs and two Cat 4 climbs, totaling 9,131 feet of climbing. By this point, I was in survival mode. I hung on for as long as I could on the wicked Cliff Dwellings climb then settled into a chase group powered by Chris Baldwin (Toyota United, victim of a flat) and several of his teammates looking to bring him back to the front. Back in the grupetto once again, we managed to avoid a wicked crash up with the front riders that took race leader Zirbel out with a broken collarbone and seriously injured Fausto Munoz Esparaza of Team Tecos. I finished the race fried but satisfied with my efforts and psyched to have been part of such a hardcore event and prolonged road trip. Final GC: Ladino Vega, Gregorio, 2. Swindlehurst, Burke 3. Colby, Anthony 4. Zajicer, Phil 5. Englund, Justin THE AFTERMATH I emerged from this death-defying escapade physically intact but internally cracked, achy, grumpy and just generally worked over. I’ve gone to the brink of overtraining. Who am I kidding? I’ve plunged down the other side. The final stats: two wins, two flats, two crashes, and one leader’s jersey. But now it’s time to stop playing bike racer for a little while and start playing journalist so I can save up more dinero for even more carreras calientes.
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ranch style jump jam
Tanner Lewis going big off the 40-foot gap during the Ranch Style Jump Jam format final on the private property ranch near Grand Junction, Colo. C-Andrew Wilz Photo
C-Andrew Wilz Photo
Ranch Style Jump Jam Private ranch puts the style in slopestyle by Ernest Vogel C-Andrew Wilz Photo
Nick Simcik crosses it up, barely edging out Sean Shuman for first place in the professional category.
“Was that a fun weekend or what?” Simple to the point of cliché, Shane Sorensen, ski patroller and bike park trail engineer from Keystone Resort, had best summarized the inaugural Ranch Style Jump Jam and the Ranch itself in Grand Junction, Colo. “There needs to be more stuff like this,” said Sorensen of the private ranch and its freeride “slopestylish” events. “I’ve never really seen anything like it, just lots of nice senders that are great to try stuff on.” Progression is what The Ranch is all about. Matt Bollig, owner of Grassroots Cycles bike shop in Grand Junction, bought the property to have a place where he and his buddies could build stuff they wanted to ride and not worry about getting it torn down. He claims their initial six-foot wooden dou48
ble was “frightening at the time,” but as the local posse grew, so did number and size of features on the Ranch. Now there are seven gravity trails with more than 50 jumps, drops and wooden features including a 15-foot gap over the fire pit. Bollig collaborates on trail design with James Flatten and Jeff Erickson, but concedes that Flatten and Erickson do most of the hard work. Flatten, the trail master credited with putting the “Style” in Ranch Style, was most impressed with the build-up of skills throughout the event. “The level of progression just in the couple of days of practice and the comp was amazing,” he said. “There were a lot of people who’d never hit anything bigger than a five or six-foot jump who were cleaning the course by the end of the event.”
ranch style jump jam
C-Andrew Wilz Photo
Shane Sorensen lays it flat out during the finals of the Ranch Style Jump Jam.
The rider-judged jam featured a pro and amateur division. A diverse group of amateurs hit the course first and pulled out whatever they had in their trick bags. There were local kids, business owners, tradesmen, students and bike bums. Riders came from Kansas, Arizona, Washington and practically every state in between. Well-known Grassroots Cycles’ wrench, Tanner Lewis blasted his little five-inch Brodie over the 40-foot gap to the top of the podium. He was the only rider, pro or am, to send the massive jump. Tanner had a bit of an advantage after being called on to test pilot the jumps and stunts all week as they were completed—just like he’d done for the 50 some other jumps on the property. Local boy Brandon Turman used his mix of skate park steeze and downhill bravado to finish second. Last year’s Mountain States Cup and Crankworx Colorado downhill pro champion Jackie Harmony was the only woman to hit the burly course and was voted third. The pro comp was dominated by Colorado boys. Nick Simcik, a Boulder-based rider with factory tickets, tricked every jump in sight, including some inverts over the last double to take
the win. “Retired” factory BMX pro Sean Shuman from Carbondale floated with effortless style through a diverse set of tricks including some big laid-out super-seaters and monster 3’s. Shane Sorensen, the Keystone ski patroller, rounded out the top three with a combination of style and amplitude. The jam format kept the tone fun and progressive despite the wad of cash at stake for the pros and a massive pile of swag for the amateurs from great sponsors including Brodie Bikes, DT Swiss, MRP, Loki, 661, Dakine, Giro and Oakley. “There was no dogging. There was something for every rider to showcase their stuff,” claimed Shuman. Simcik added emphatically, “How perfect is this event? The Grassroots crew invites you up to their ranch and says ‘Come camp on our land, eat our food, hang out by our camp fire and oh, we have a whole bunch of really fun jumps out back if you want.’ I mean, how can it get any better?” For those who missed the Ranch Style, cross your fingers for next year. For those who have never ridden the downhill and freeride trails around Grand Junction, get there and stop by to see the boys at Grassroots Cycles. You just might get an invitation to The Ranch. 49
Easily identifiable by the stripes on her sleeve cuffs, World Masters Champion Jane Finsterwald (Chipotle-Titus) drops into a nasty chainringeater section on the Rabbit Valley time trial course of the Mountain States Cup opener in Fruita, Colo. Brian Riepe
Racers string out single file and enjoy some fast, buff singletrack on the Western Rim Trail during the Rabbit Valley cross-country race in Fruitaâ€™s Mountain States Cup event.
boulder 63rd Street
Rider: Matt Thompson Location: 63rd Street Boulder, Colorado Camera Data: Nikon D300, 24-85mm lens, 1/250 sec @ f3 Photographer: Eddie Clark, Photo-Cycle.com On the night of March 28, 2008, while the Sea Otter Classic was going on out west, several gravity pros from The Fix and Sol Vista teams were getting some early season practice at the jumps off 63rd Street in Boulder, Colo. Pictured here is Matt Thompson of the Sol Vista mountain bike team getting crossed up for a blind fall-away landing.
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nathrop colorado Tad Elliot (Durango Devo/Durango Cyclery) grits out the final 100 meters in a close battle for fourth place in the Chalk Creek Stampede cross-country race of stop number two of the Mountain States Cup series.
chalk creek stampede
Amon Baker (Yeti/RPM) (top) cracks the whip on Joe Hickey (Orbit Racing) through a tight corner during a semi-final heat in the dual slalom. Baker went on to finish third in the finals while Hickey had to settle for 15th overall in Nathrop, Colo. Brian Riepe
chalk creek stampede
Brian Smith (Trek VW) does a little pruning while searching for a line worth riding. Smith catapulted himself into the lead by being the only pro racer, and probably the only rider all day, to clean this steep and nasty hill early in the Chalk Creek cross-country race. Jay Henry (Tokyo Joes) ultimately won when Smith fell back to third place behind Rotem Ishay (Spider窶適ona C.C.).
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Mike with wife Maribel
by H.E. Sappenfield
In the early hours of Nov. 23, 2007, Mike Janelle’s heart said, No more. It just stopped. At 40 years old, he was in the prime of his cycling career and his new wife, Maribel, carried their son, due in March. His unexpected death shook not only this region’s and the nation’s cycling communities but also people who had never met him or never cranked a pedal.
Janelle and his teammates on the podium at the Race Across America.
The sun sets but the riding never stopped as Janelle headed into another RAAM night.
Carving a nice line in that sand, Janelle speeds through another lap at the 24 Hours of Moab.
anelle’s passing and his reputation made folks pause during their busy days to consider the poignancy of life and the importance of living well. It was a reflection of the respect he earned in his community and how one person’s zest for life can be a model for the rest of us muddling through our days. Janelle’s memorial service on Nov. 26, at Beaver Creek’s Vilar Center, was standing-room-only and a Who’s Who of cycling in the Rocky Mountain region. A silent auction fundraiser held afterward at Bob’s Place, an Avon restaurant of long-time friend and riding partner Chris Doyle, brought together current and retired luminaries. In three days, local businesses donated more than $20,000 worth of merchandise for the auction. “The Vail Valley has always been supportive with things like this,” Doyle says, “and they really stepped up for Mike.” Born June 7, 1967, in Chicksha, Okla., Michael Paul Janelle was proud to be part Kiowa and Choctaw, and his Native American heritage helped create his lean, tanned appearance that made girls swoon. At 17, he came to live in the Vail Valley. His father, Jack, a pro cyclist, taught Mike the ropes of road racing, and in 1988, he began his professional cycling career. In 1996, Janelle premiered on the mountain biking scene and in recent years focused on endurance events in both disciplines. In road racing, his most recent achievement came as part of fourperson Team Beaver Creek-Caitlin, which won 2007’s Race Across America (RAAM). In 2005 and 2006, Janelle had been on RAAM winning teams, then known as Beaver Creek/Vail. He arrived in 2005 as a replacement after the tragic loss of Bret Malin, killed during the event by a semi-truck on a lonely stretch of New Mexico highway. Teammate Adam Palmer recalls Janelle’s contribution despite battling strep throat throughout the race. “He was all swollen up, like marshmallow man, especially in his neck, but he pushed through and really pulled it out at the end,” Palmer says. “The Action Sports guys would pass us, and we’d get down, but he’d stay stoked and positive.” Off road, Janelle’s endurance was
Janelle enjoyed many a cross race in Eagle, Colo.
also formidable. In July 2007, he finished fifth at the USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Breckenridge. Later that same month, he finished a close second at the National Ultra-Endurance Series Round No. 4, the Breckenridge 100. In October, he and RAAM teammate Nat Ross won
the Pro Duo division at a relentlessly sandy 24 Hours of Moab. Earlier in 2005, Janelle and teammate Jay Henry not only won the Pro Duo division, but they established the course record, finishing 21 laps in 24 hours, 41 minutes and 35 seconds. Henry remembers Moab as Janelle’s race. “I raced with Mike five times in Moab, on four-person teams and duo, and it was always a given that he’d get stronger as the race went on,” he says. “He was one of the most fun guys and at the same time unbelievably strong in a race like that.” Locally Janelle, Henry and Jimi Mortenson would duke it out in the Vail Recreation District race series. Brian Doyon, series director, remembers Janelle well. “These were training races for Mike, so he was always out there for the joy of racing,” Doyon laughs. “My best memory of him is the Four Eagle race. There’s a drainage ditch that we’d diverted racers around, but Janelle said he could ride it if he popped a wheelie. After the first lap, he came through covered head-totoe in mud. It made the cover of the Vail Daily.” Impressive statistics were not why the Vilar Center was filled to the gills on November 26 or why people gave so generously at the fundraiser afterwards. At the start of RAMM, Janelle was that guy decked in a speed suit and surreal aerodynamic helmet, who always had time for a grin and wishing fellow competitors luck. He was the guy who loved to ride so much he’d be out in zerodegree weather negotiating his bike through Avon’s treacherous roundabouts on his way to work as a ski and snowboard instructor at Beaver Creek. He was the guy who’d politely lap you during a race and say, “Hey,” or “Good job.” He was the guy tuning his bike in the back of the Kind Cyclist in Edwards who’d pipe into a conversation as you paid at the cash register like you and he were comfortable, old friends. Tokyo Joe’s team manager Heather Szabo remembers Janelle’s good attitude and love of cycling. “I’d get emails with race updates from Mike, and he’d write about how he was leading the race and then he’d taken a wrong turn, ridden five miles out of
Janelle gives Floyd Landis something to laugh about before dropping the hammer on him during the 2007 Teva Mountain Games.
his way and then gotten back on course and still managed to make it on the podium,” Szabo says. “We’d joke that if he could just stay on course, he’d win. But he never complained. He always enjoyed being on the bike.” Tokyo Joe’s has embodied Janelle’s can-do attitude in this year’s team jersey, which sports a caricature of Mike’s face and reads “Live Like Mike” on the sleeve. “Anyone who ever saw Mike riding would instantly recognize the drawing,” Szabo says. Tokyo Joe’s will also be selling these Live Like Mike jerseys via their website tokyojoes.com. All proceeds will go into a trust established for Janelle’s wife and child. “We wanted to bridge the monetary gap created by Mike’s absence,” says Larry Leith, founder and owner of Tokyo Joe’s. “We’re also creating livelikemike.org, a website that will sell fun swag like T-shirts and bumper stickers. Mike would get a kick out of it.” There aren’t enough folks like Mike Janelle out there, and
we all know it. So when he died, not only did we mourn for the abrupt end of his life, and for his wife and son, but we also selfishly mourned for ourselves and how we’d lost one of the good guys. Every essence of Mike Janelle, every memory I have of him involves his unquenched enthusiasm for life. From seeing him pass me at 2 a.m. during the first 24 Hours of Moab, when I couldn’t fathom his pace after so many hours of racing, to more recent memories, he was always emitting good spirits. Mike has graced the pages of Mountain Flyer many times. Not because I wanted to run photos of a friend but because he seemed to be everywhere. I’d show up to photograph a race or a photographer would submit a photo or story to me and there he was. Whether it was at a mountain bike race or road race or some crazy endurance race across the country, he was always mixing it up. He couldn’t get enough of riding his bike. I’ll miss that inspiration. Keep pedaling, Mike. – B. Riepe 61
news and notes from around the region
TELLURIDE, Colo.—In a shocking display of cause and effect, land access issues and corporate economics brought an end to the Full Tilt in Telluride Mountain States Cup race for 2008 and the foreseeable future. The downward spiral of events began about seven years ago when mountain bikers began to create a network of illegal trails accessible from the free gondola in Telluride. Next, the Telluride Ski Resort, aka Telski, examined the profitability of a lift-accessed mountain bike service and determined it was not a business decision the resort would pursue. Soon after, Telski refused to approve the portions of the Full Tilt downhill course that cross onto Telski property, which was followed by the complicit assistance of the National Forest Service in putting the kibosh on the downhill race altogether. “Because of not only the existing damage from renegade or illegal trails and then secondly the decision by the ski area not to pursue a full-blown bike program,” NFS Ranger Kathy Peckham said, “with those two decisions, it seemed inconsistent for the ski area and the Forest Service to approve our portions of the Full Tilt race, which includes the downhill race.” Race manager Mike McCormack said he hopes to eventually see a reversal from Telski and the NFS but sees this incident as just one example of a broader trend. “You know the saying, one bad apple spoils the barrel? That’s what happened in Telluride,” said McCormack. “The gravity segment is the fastest growing segment in mountain biking right now, and they’re not going away. If we continue to not give them access to trails, they’re going to keep making bandit trails.” At press time Telski CEO Dave Riley did not return either email or multiple telephone calls requesting comment. The Mountain States Cup series will continue with Sol Vista, Colo., as the alternate venue. –J. Fitzgerald
Telski Snubs Nose at Cycling
With Telluride Mountain Village as a backdrop, a rider descends the mountain during the 2007 Full Tilt in Telluride event—a descent that may be history for cyclists in the near future.
More Western Slope Trails in the Works RIDGWAY, Colo.—Cyclists can start making plans to ride more trails along Colorado’s western slope near Ridgway, Telluride and Montrose. Since 2005, Ridgway area trail advocates and land managers have been working together along with Bicycle Colorado Trail Pros to blueprint and develop an expanded, sustainable, shared-use network of trails on nearby Colorado State Park and Bureau of Land Management lands. Bicycle Colorado Trail Pros is the trail design branch of non-profit Bicycle Colorado. The vision began when Ridgway Trails Group, with support from the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bikers Association, identified two adjoining parcels of public land north of Ridgway under management by Ridgway State Park and the BLM’s Uncompahgre field office. Together, the parcels offer nearly three square miles of public land with views of the San Juans and are well suited for recreational trails. Since motorized vehicles are not allowed on State Park lands, the proposed trails throughout 62
the system would be non-motorized. The plan proposes 20 miles of new trails for the existing 4.5 mile network, utilizing a stacked loop concept, which places the most difficult trails furthest from the trailhead and ensures a safe and entertaining riding experience for all ability levels. Long-term plans call for the Ridgway Trail System to tie into a larger regional trail system that will include the proposed Galloping Goose Trail System connecting Telluride to Montrose via Ridgway by using the existing trails of the San Juan Hut Trail System. Wouldn’t that be cool? Currently the plan has been completed on paper and submitted to the various federal and state agencies to begin work approving the plan pending environmental and archeological assessments. But for now, riders can enjoy the existing trail network and get a taste of what is hopefully to come. Get more info and maps or find out how you can help at www.ridgwaytrails.com. —B. Riepe
AM Radio Is Alive and Well ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —After an ill-conceived attempt to draw attention to bicycle safety issues on Albuquerque’s busy streets, local radio talk show host Pat Frisch got a bitter taste of foot-in-mouth syndrome. Mr. Frisch was sitting in for the regular host of “The Jim Villanucci Show” on AM 770 KKOB, which opens up its phone lines to irate callers so they rant and rave about whatever current issue enrages them most. Reportedly, Mr. Frisch took a call from a distressed individual who chose to complain about bikers in their Spandex who are supposed to stay in their own lane but end up riding on the white line and think they own the road. Mr. Frisch agreed and gave examples of how to deal with such lawbreakers. Needless to say, local area cyclists considered the content of KKOB’s morning show and Mr. Frisch’s comments unacceptable, and that’s where the trouble began. Cyclists from all over the region lashed back and sent and called in comments, although some were inappropriate. In an email to Mountain Flyer, Frisch commented, “I have been threatened by bikers, harassed and more. All for something that has been blown out of proportion. I never threatened anybody on the roadway. I was trying to make the point that bikers need to be careful too because they will lose the battle with a vehicle. I have been called every name in the book by the bikers, many who never heard the show and were just going off what somebody told them or they read from somebody else. I've been called a f%#@ing idiot, and told that I would be stalked and have a wheel spoke put through my brain. I am in the process of handing over all the threatening letters to the police.” Which just goes to show you, people really do still listen to AM radio. —O. Mattox
Yes, We Will Pick Up the Phone DENVER, Colo.—Cyclists in Colorado have a new tool for keeping roads safer and reporting unsafe or aggressive drivers. In a recent statement, the Colorado State Patrol announced that the Star CSP (*277) hotline is available for cyclists if they see a motorist putting a cyclist at risk. Using the number is simple but be ready to communicate vital information. Knowing the vehicle’s license plate number is key because it allows the State Patrol to identify the vehicle owner’s name and data on record. It’s also helpful to know the location and direction of travel, vehicle and driver description, and to clearly describe the aggressive or dangerous driving behavior. Here’s how it works. According to the State Patrol website, they enter the information into an aggressive driver database and send a warning letter after receiving three complaints. If the State Patrol receives additional complaints, they send a trooper to make personal contact with the registered owner of the vehicle to take appropriate enforcement action. Cyclists can report aggressive driving from any road in Colorado, not just a state highway. The special phone number requires no area code and only works on mobile phones. If you need to report an incident from a regular landline, dial 303-239-4501. —B. Riepe
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A GOOD ANVIL DOES NOT FEAR THE HAMMER
by Mike Ahrens
Aluminum One Framebuilderâ€™s Perspective
the summer I turned 21, I toured Southern Oregon and some practical knowledge over the years in aluminum framethe mountain biking experience I had there inspired me to building. Heat-treating 6061 after welding requires a highpursue my future career. Little did I know how this ride would temperature quenching and age-hardening process that must be lead me into the world of aluminum. tightly controlled for optimal results. During quenching, the That day, a local trail guide loaned me his GT Zaskar. Shortly material’s alloying elements are trapped in solution, which into the ride, I realized the bike rode far better than my own results in a soft metal. During the impurity phase of the aging clunker with its mismatched components. It was more process, the alloying elements form fine particles that impede responsive, lighter and extremely rigid, making climbing a breeze. the movement of dislocations (defects in the metal’s lattice As an engineering student at Santa Clara University, I found structure) and ultimately harden the material. Aging will occur my young mind racing. What made this ride so well? How did naturally over time or the process can be accelerated at elevated this frame’s geometry compare to my current bike? Did the temperatures (artificial aging). aluminum frame offer better power transfer than steel? Could I Heat-treating 7005 after welding is straightforward and design a better bike? involves a low-temperature, age-hardening process. The 7005 After post-ride beers, I decided that my senior mechanical butted tubes have already been quenched and aged at the engineering project must involve mountain bike frame design. I factory prior to frame construction and welding. set a lofty goal to build my own frame for graduation credit. Stress corrosion cracking is a known failure mode with With two classmates and the fabrication skills of Paul Sadoff of 7000-series aluminum alloys containing high amounts of Rock Lobster Cycles, a successful California framebuilder, we copper. My layman’s understanding is that this failure mode built an all-steel, full-suspension frame with five inches of rear occurs at high-stress areas where crack propagation is likely to wheel travel. The success of this project led me to develop three occur. Corrosive elements, such as water, travel into crack more generations of this frame design, and in 1996, my small, initiation sites and accelerate crack growth, which can lead to unofficial framebuilder business was born. failure. In practice, I have not seen a 7005 aluminum frame For five years, I worked with Sadoff to build custom frames, failure from stress corrosion cracking, possibly because 7005 primarily aggressive trail hardtails, branded under the Rock bicycle tubing has low levels of copper, and proven framebuildLobster name. We worked with steel, the material of choice for ing and design practices aim to minimize stress at critical joints. custom framebuilders at the time, until random chance Aluminum frame failures due to fatigue are well intervened. Santa Cruz Bicycles had purchased Outland documented, although I have not directly experienced this Bicycles, a small U.S.-based one-hit wonder, and through the failure mode. This means that at some point, after some amount deal, Sadoff indirectly inherited literally hundreds of Outland’s Easton 7005 aluminum tubes from Santa Cruz Bicycles. It was a huge windfall of materials. Aluminum as a bicycle frame material had intrigued me ever since that fateful Oregon ride on the Zaskar. I knew it was time to branch out into aluminum framebuilding. By 2001, I had officially launched Ahrens Bicycles with an immediate focus on developing handmade aluminum mountain bikes. To understand aluminum framebuilding more fully, I researched all viable options for TIG-welded frame construction. Two options emerged: alloy 6061 as the first option, which gains its strength from silicon and magnesium; and alloy 7005 as the next option, which gains its strength from zinc. Within the 7005 family, ultra-lightweight scandium derivatives have also been developed. With respect to handmade frame construction, there are practical pros and Ready for welding, an Ahrens rear triangle sits in an Anvil fixture. The custom machined lower cons when dealing with either 6061 or 7005 yoke, visible in the lower right side of the picture, provides ample tire clearance and subtle toraluminum. Alloy 6061 is readily available in sional flex and is joined to stout rectangular chainstays for great acceleration. a wide variety of sizes and shapes for machining frame components. Conversely, alloy 7005 is only of cyclic loads, the material will fail when it reaches its offered in limited useful sizes. Both alloys are malleable and endurance limit. In the bicycle world, this usually translates into easily machined by conventional methods. many years of riding on the same frame without failure. Some of I’m not a metallurgist or material scientist, but I’ve gained my earliest aluminum frames are still being ridden, and one
frame has even been raced for seven consecutive seasons. Yet I always advise riders to inspect their bikes frequently for any signs of increased stress that could lead to material failure. One of the long-standing myths regarding aluminum says that every frame built from this material has a harsh ride quality. This may be true when oversized, straight-gauge tubing is used since the tubes have little chance to deflect under load. Early adopters of aluminum framebuilding, with no access to butted tubing, which is thicker at the ends than in the center,
had been riding one of my steel slalom frames since 1999, but the rear tire clearance was too limited and the lateral stiffness of steel couldn’t stand up to the power demands of dual slalom racing. For Dave’s 2001 race season, I sourced Easton Elite butted 6061 tubing for the front triangle. I chose 6061 because I was familiar with its properties, especially the ease of machining, from my day job as an aerospace manufacturing engineer. I soon discovered that front triangle fabrication wasn’t as cut and dried
Through extensive R&D, I’ve discovered that aluminum frames can be highly tuned in a fashion similar to steel frames.
had no choice but to use straight-gauge tubes of the 6061 as I assumed. The top and down tubes required manual variety, and the myth of rigidity was born. Oversized tubing is ovalization at both ends to optimize joint overlap once the tubes required to achieve proper strength; but physics dictates that were mitered. The down tube becomes bi-ovalized with a taller larger diameter tubes will yield extra stiffness. This extra rigidity cross-section at the head tube and a wider cross-section at the is definitely undesirable. bottom bracket shell. The To refine the ride top tube is ovalized with quality of this material, taller cross-sections at both early adopters pushed the head tube and seat tube envelope by experimenting junctions. Aesthetically with new tubing shapes these tubes take on a and thinner walls, ultimateflared look and overall ly bringing butted tubing joint strength is increased into the marketplace. because of the larger In its main advantage, weld areas. the wall thickness of butted To improve tire cleartubing changes along the ance on the dual slalom length of the tube, placing frame and using threemore material in dimensional high-stress areas and less computer-aided design material in low-stress (CAD) software, I regions. Steel tubing developed custom upper suppliers had been doing and lower yokes to join the this for decades, but seatstays and chainstays to aluminum butted tubing the seat tube. Each yoke Beautiful but tough, the Ahrens Vanderkitten team frames are race-tested and wasn’t widely available for race-proven. was CNC-machined from mountain bikes until the 6061 billet I sourced from a 1990s. The net result of this local aluminum remnant approach yields tubing that is strong, light and more forgiving. vendor. The profile of each yoke was shaped like a tuning fork Handmade aluminum frames have a ride quality distinct with the inherent ability to deflect laterally when specific loads from other popular materials. Under power, aluminum frames are encountered during trail riding. launch forward with no perceptible flex and the pedaling The lower yoke design had a hollow box-section right efficiency is superb. behind the bottom bracket shell to stiffen this zone, enabling By the time I started using aluminum for handmade the frame to launch forward with very little rider effort. The mountain bike frames, tubing designs from Easton were upper yoke had the same profile as the lower yoke except it well-established and widely accepted across the industry. My tapered to accept a short wishbone tube welded to the backside new engineering challenge was to fashion these materials into of the seat tube. Scallop cuts along the outside length were cremountain bike frame designs aimed at reducing any harsh ated with a ball end-mill, which minimizes any sharp corners characteristics while maintaining the superb pedaling efficiency and stress concentrations. In cross-section, the scallop cuts proof the material. vided the basis for a C-channel structure of the tuning fork One of my first customers to request an aluminum frame “legs,” which was strong and lightweight. The yokes accommowas Dave Verrecchia, a local racer and owner/founder of dated 2.5-inch tires while providing necessary crankarm clearwomen’s apparel company Vanderkitten. He needed a new dual ance on the drive-side of the rear triangle. slalom race frame and wanted aluminum for its increased To address the lateral stiffness issue, I created custom 12 stiffness over steel. This would not be the first time Dave mm thru-axle dropouts also machined from 6061 aluminum. I challenged me to develop new frames for racing purposes. Dave opted to use rectangular BMX chainstays for the entire rear tri67
www.Jones Bikes.com © Russell Burton
Yes, there are brilliant riders with suspension technology truly exploring cycling possibilities. Pushing the envelope and all that. Stuff envelopes. It might not actually suit everyone, whatever the adverts are telling you. Read the adverts carefully. This one included. A simple bike can be amazing. There is immense satisfaction to be found in riding the trails as they are – not a version filtered by dampening, compression and sag. To ride without the flattery of bloat ‘n’ float – less really can be more. It’s delightful when all your steering, pedalling and subtle weight shifts make an immediate difference to your ride. Sure, it’s not for everyone, some people won’t want or like it, but for those who can appreciate this kind of riding and this kind of bicycle then a Jones is the very best bike available. It’s agile, precise, efficient and comfortable. It’s fantastic fun. It’s dynamic. The Jones geometry delivers a rigid bicycle that is anything but – frame and forks designed in harmony to deliver a pure cycling experience like no other. The high-performance, non-suspension, bicycle. vertical compliance | lateral stiffness short wheelbase | truss fork (and a fat fork option) lightweight | exceptional handling | big tire clearance singlespeed or geared | 29"/ 700c | custom options
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angle for a distinctive aesthetic and rigid ride quality. My feeling was that the rectangular tubes would add the needed stiffness to launch this bike forward through the numerous transitions common to dual slalom courses. These various design ideas came together to create a one-off prototype slalom frame that was TIG welded by Sadoff. The prototype slalom frame had a compliant front triangle from the butted tubing and a rear triangle optimized for lateral stiffness, efficient pedaling and immediate power transfer. This frame garnered a lot of attention at its Sea Otter debut that year and its features served as the basis for many future frame designs. I’m not sure how Dave finished that season but he loved the snappiness, crisp handling traits and responsiveness of the bike. Since then I’ve designed many frames for Dave and the Vanderkitten racing team. With technical feedback from elite female racers on Team Vanderkitten, I’ve continued to optimize key aspects of each frame design. After building two small batches of 6061 frames based on the dual slalom prototype, I realized the supply of 6061 tubing was limited, so I decided to transition to 7005 aluminum to take
An Ahrens 7005 aluminum front triangle rests in a fixture. The 7005 series aluminum is becoming scarce for small frame builders, but it’s easier to work with than 6061 series aluminum. When coupled with good frame design, the material provides some very attractive properties for a race bike.
IGLEHEART C U S TO M F R A M E S & F O R K S
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advantage of the tubing supply that Sadoff had acquired from the Outland sale. Frame components such as dropouts, cable stops and bottom bracket shells were readily available from a local distributor, and I assumed that moving to this new alloy would be painless. That was a bad assumption. The off-the-shelf frame components were poorly designed and quality was moderate at best. These parts had to be reworked by hand to achieve a decent aesthetic. I was clearly disappointed with the available frame components and new versions of these parts were required for my handmade frames. I encountered a new challenge when I found that any weldable frame component had to be machined from 7005 alloy using bar stock offered only in a 1-inch by 4-inch format. This bar stock size is not ideal and has limited design creativity since each frame component must fit within this pre-defined outline. What if I wanted to design a chainstay yoke that was 1.5-inch thick and 4.25-inch wide? These ideas were not possible because the largest 7005 aluminum blank size was too small. And my dropout designs were less than 1-inch thick, meaning extra material was wasted during CNC machining. Overall the transition to 7005 had a steep learning curve. Tuning stiffness characteristics for each rider is one of my primary motivations when building handmade aluminum frames. Through extensive R&D, I’ve discovered that aluminum frames can be highly tuned in a fashion similar to steel frames. In the front triangle, different styles of tubing can be combined to provide the desired stiffness level, from race-specific applications to everyday trail riding. For example, changing the down tube’s outside diameter and butting profile has an immediate effect on ride quality. In addition, tube-end ovalization can be further tweaked by hand to achieve different stiffness levels. The most advanced tuning of my aluminum frames happens in the rear triangle by combining the custommachined yokes I’ve developed with select tubing shapes. Riders can perceive the aluminum frame’s torsional compliance during trail riding. This means that the rear triangle “gives”
similar to steel frames when under dynamic load. Long-term testing and rider feedback indicates this design strategy improves wheel traction, high-speed cornering stability and climbing capability. Over the years, I’ve learned that aluminum is a viable frame material with unique ride characteristics. Understanding the nuances of this material has enabled me to offer a variety of frame styles that are lightweight, responsive and highly tunable. Moving forward I plan to build an aluminum dual-suspension trail bike with a customizable front triangle where the rider can select 26-inch, 650B or 29inch front wheel size. Rear wheel size is currently fixed at 26 inches and I’m analyzing the suspension effects with larger rear wheels. This frame concept will utilize a 7005 front triangle and 6061 rear triangle; splitting materials in this way offers the most design flexibility for this application. While conceptualizing these designs, I’ve spent many hours sourcing 7005 aluminum raw materials since the domestic tubing supply is dwindling. Sourcing 7005 alloy involves seeking out domestic and overseas suppliers that don’t cater to small companies like mine. Domestic aluminum factories such as Easton and Worth have moved their production overseas while increasing the minimum order quantities. Small builders specializing in aluminum are working to pool resources to meet the minimums required by large corporations. Handmade aluminum frames offer riding characteristics unlike other materials. Stiff but not too harsh, this material is an excellent choice for both racers and weight-conscious enthusiasts. Since aluminum is capable of being tuned to meet the demands of modern mountain bikers, I’ll do whatever it takes to continue building with this unique material. Mike Ahrens owns and operates Ahrens Bicycles in San Jose, Calif. He has been designing custom frames since 1996 with an emphasis on aluminum and is currently working in cooperation with Jason Grove of El Camino Fabrication in Emeryville, Calif., and Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster Cycles in Santa Cruz, Calif., for handmade frame production.
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mental preparation for downhill racing Brian Riepe
by Kain Leonard
here is no such thing as a perfect run. If it did exist, your perfect run might feel something like this: I am in the gate, I clear my head, I tell myself, “No matter what happens, be happy.” Concentrating on what lies ahead, I feel the energy stored in my bike and I can’t wait to unleash it. I am hitting every line cleaner than I have before, and no one is in my way. I am unstoppable! Hopefully, all racers get to experience such a moment: that moment where you slip into your zone and everything slows down except you and your bike. It would be nice to always slip into your zone and race up to your full potential week in and week out, but that doesn’t just happen. You have to be fit, skillful and, most importantly, you have to be mentally ready. All racers want to do their very best and improve throughout a season, but winning isn’t necessarily improving. Furthermore, judging your performances by only results can be devastating to your mental game. Some of the best lessons are learned in your less-than-best races. For example, I was racing in Telluride in 2002 at a Mountain States Cup event when the World Cup was there, too. I really wanted to get a time to compare with the World Cup level riders. In my race run as I entered the bottom section at the
drop into the ski run with the spectators, I heard my brother cheering loudly for me. I thought to myself, “Is he in my helmet or what?” Right then I lost my concentration and got off line, hit a sharp rock and front-flatted. He was still cheering for me as hard as he could, like any awesome brother would, but as I rounded the corner, my front wheel washed out and I went down, breaking my rear brake lever. There I was, no rear brake and no front tire. I couldn’t make it to the finish to even get a time. I was so mad at my brother because I thought if he wouldn’t have cheered so loud for me I would have finished. The lesson I took away from this—a few weeks later—was that I am the only one in control of my race. Spectators, race officials, even other competitors have no effect on my race run. It is all my doing between the tape. Thanks again for the lesson, big bro! To improve your mental game, you first want to think about riding smooth from top to bottom on the fast line with full concentration. It is the fast line smooth that works, not the smooth line fast. The fast line is the line that best suits your riding style. What works for some people might not work well for you.
The line that works best for you depends mainly on your skill level and how well suited your skills are to the terrain. A single, sneaky line in a course will not by itself win you the race, but you can certainly lose the race by making a mistake on a line that’s too risky. In your first practice session, start off slow and open-minded especially if you are unfamiliar with the course. Even if you are familiar with the course, still start slow and pay attention to any changes that could affect your line choice. Then as you warm up, begin to try different lines. Don’t spend all your time thinking about one section, one move or one particular jump. You don’t have to hit everything on the track the first time or the second or third. You want to gain as much knowledge as you can about the whole course during the first practice session. Knowing every part of the racetrack and breaking it into sections helps reveal what will work best for your race run. Sections and most lines become apparent from riding the course, but sometimes to find the fast line you need to walk the course without your bike. Don’t be afraid to walk the course; you might be surprised at what you find. Walk slowly and look at your options. A few inches here or there can make the difference. Also, pay attention to how the course is marked. The main path down the track is not necessarily the fastest line. You just have to stay between the tape—straying off course can mean disqualification—but keep your eyes peeled for those sneaky little lines. In your next practice session, fine-tune your fast line down the track. Begin to ride sections at full pace. You should ride all the sections on the track at full pace before your race run. Essentially, you need to determine the “correct” speed for you to ride each section of the track. Every track has fast areas and slow areas. Slow areas are generally the rough sections or tight corners. In these sections, it’s hard to win the race but it is easy to lose the race. Sometimes you have to go slow to be fast. Staying on your bicycle is critical. That means not crashing. In effort to stay positive say to yourself, “I will stay on my bike” rather than “I hope I don’t crash.” Being positive helps you have fun and enjoy riding. Beyond that, your body works better when you are happy, which makes you go faster, and going faster makes you happy. Being positive is a win-win situation. However, staying positive is not easy and requires conscious effort. Become more aware of what you think and say. I know it sounds hokey, but it works. For example, if you keep crashing in a particular place, say, “I will clean that move” rather than “I keep crashing there” or even worse, “I can’t do that move.” The most critical time for a positive mindset is before your race run. When you are warming up, before you get in the starting gate, take a moment by yourself and visualize your race run. Avoid being interrupted. When visualizing, imagine racing exactly how you want it to happen. Try to simulate the emotions you want to experience during your run. The goal is to believe that you can perform precisely how you want to. Positive thoughts and words create positive results. For example, say you have a bobble in your race run like all of us do at some point or even a crash. Stay with it. Dig deep and keep trying even during the mistake. You can still recover and have a positive result. If you quit, you will never know what might have been.
Keeping your bike happy also helps tremendously. Riding a well-tuned bike is more fun and more likely to get you across the finish line. Some racers believe the race is won before it even begins through proper maintenance and careful preparation. This means having tensioned and trued wheels, snug bolts, a clean drive train and tuned suspension. If you have a tuned bike, a positive outlook and know what you want to do in your race, then you are in position to win.
Sometimes you have to go slow to be fast There is just one thing left to do: commit to your race run. Being committed means believing in yourself, which comes from good preparation. Commitment provides the courage you need to ride your ride and to face your fears and overcome them. It is the safest way to push yourself, keeps your mind calm and allows your body to relax. Now you’re in the start gate, with all your decisions made about line choice, tire pressures and bike set-up. Commit to these choices and you will relax. Commit to your visualization runs. Believe in your decisions and go for it.
Race Clinics To Pull It All Together Committing to your race run sounds easy enough, but as all racers know, it is not easy to pull it all together when the beep tones sound off. A lot goes into a good run: proper training, a tuned bike, sharpened skills and a good mental strategy. Bringing all these elements together at once and on demand can require some on-site support. I will be offering race clinics through the Crested Butte Academy at all the Mountain States Cup events this 2008 season. I am also offering training camps and skills clinics all summer. Please contact the Crested Butte Academy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970.349.1805 to sign up. You can also email me at email@example.com for more detailed information about any programs we offer through the Crested Butte Academy.
Kain Leonard is the Gravity Mountain Bike Director at Crested Butte Academy. CBA has become the premier U.S. academy for athletes in mountain sports such as snowboarding, alpine racing, freeride skiing, performance and altitude training and mountain biking programs.
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training to be a better shredder by Scott Hackett
Is it true that all you need to ride downhill fast is a big bike and a total loss of all self-preservation? The truth is that the skill of successful downhill riders is related to the amount of time they practice and improve their skills. Ask yourself, “Is it my physical conditioning or my skill level that’s holding me back?” For most riders, even the very best in the world, it is always a combination of both to varying degrees. But isn’t riding fast downhill the best training for downhill racing and aren’t both skills and conditioning being developed at the same time? Yes, both skills and conditioning can be developed at the same time, though not very effectively. During downhill riding sessions on the mountain, you’ll achieve some physical conditioning though it’s much less work than you would think. Conversely, if you’re being physically worked from your on-mountain sessions, you can’t really develop your skills to any great degree. For these reasons, if you want to really improve your current level, then both physical conditioning “preparation” and on mountain training “skill development” should be separated during most of your training. Besides the greater range of bike handling skills needed to ride smooth and fast, many of the conditioning objectives for a downhill racer are quite similar to that of a cross-country rider. The physical components like a high VO2 max, high muscular endurance of the cycling-specific muscles, stable and dynamic core strength are key to any successful rider. Downhill races are basically endurance events with a significant aerobic component, not just a series of pin-it-till-youpuke sprints out of corners. Downhill riders who expect to raise the level of their game need to start with a strong aerobic foundation. Downhill riding and racing is an endurance sport and the dominate energy system is the O2 oxidative, or aerobic, system. So now that the season has begun, what can both the downhiller who has prepared well—and those who have not— do for better results? I will break in-season physical condition into four main areas of concentration: Energy Systems Training; Core Conditioning and Strength Resistance Training; Technical Skills Development; and Mental and Tactical Skills Development. The fourth area is described in the article on page 72. Energy Systems Training This area of concentration may be more familiar to you described as “cardio” training. With Energy Systems Training, the main focus is developing the energy pathways of both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. In the training programs for the athletes I coach, these EST zones are determined through aid of lactate and power testing and are a far more accurate method for determining training zones specific to the individual rider, though EST zones based on percentages of maximal heart rate will get you in the neighborhood of your needed training zones. As I stated before, the aerobic system is the primary source of 74
energy production in downhill racing and is either the most neglected or not trained in a proper manner. During the season, you should do two to three workouts a week within Zones 2 to 3 as your primary focus to improve aerobic endurance. These workouts should last 45 to 90 minutes. On the anaerobic end, do at least one to two workouts with Zone 4B VO2 intervals that are 1.5 to 3 minutes in length. To increase your anaerobic power, shorter intervals in Zone 5+ like sprints, power starts, jumps ranging from 10 to 40 seconds in length are the ticket and can be done in shorter workouts. These intervals can be combined with the Zone 2 training sessions in smaller amounts as long as complete recovery is achieved before attempting. I like doing these sprint workouts at the BMX track on either my dirt jump/dual slalom bike or on the downhill rig when I’m not doing them on the road. Another mode of EST I find useful is rowing, which is great cross-training for the downhill racer and is a favorite of the moto-cross riders I train. To make the rowing more downhillspecific, replace the pull bar with an MX bar connected by a U or I-bolt; it looks weird but it is effective and that’s what counts. System Type and Training Zones Training Zone % of Max HR Description O2 Oxidative System (98-99% Aerobic) Zone 1 55-65% Active Recovery Zone 2 66-79% Extensive Endurance 80-85% Intensive Endurance Zone 3 Mixed (85-95% Aerobic) Zone 4A 85-90%
Glycolic Lactate System (60-90% Aerobic, 40-10% anaerobic) Zone 4B 91-96% Intensive Threshold Alactate ATP-PC Systems (Primarily Anaerobic) Zone 5 + Not HR Dependant Anaerobic Power
Core Conditioning and Strength Resistance Training The second conditioning area of importance to the downhiller is core and strength resistance training. I am convinced that no other cycling discipline places a greater demand on the neuro-muscular system than the downhill racing since the sport requires the rider to hold on, pull and push on the bars repeatedly during a practice or race run while pedaling so hard at times you feel you’re going to pass out. The specific strength components and training methods for the downhiller are quite different than those in the majority of fitness-type resistance programs. In these standard resistance programs, the primary focus is on hypertrophy, or exaggerated muscle growth, and non-functional strength. The truth is this type of muscle gain achieves very little in the way of actual performance.
More effective for cyclists is a performance-based resistance program focusing on a combination of functional strength—with an emphasis on the neurological adaptations of strength—power and muscular endurance. This resistance program focuses on core stability, a dynamic core strength that enhances athletes’ performance. For cyclists, this is the means to effectively transfer more power from one leg to the other, originating from a strong stable core.
Downhill races are basically endurance events with a significant aerobic component, not just a series of pin-it-till-you-puke sprints out of corners. The first thing to understand about core conditioning is that the rectus abdominus—the six-pack muscle—is not the only muscle that makes up your core musculature. Every muscle between your limbs makes up your core. During the competitive season, I recommend core exercises that work on functional stabilization and dynamic strength of the deep core and shoulder girdle, exercises that will benefit any rider. Beyond the basic core and shoulder conditioning exercises, the gravity rider will benefit from in-season strength training, specifically developing maximal functional strength and muscular endurance of short to medium durations, power endurance and acceleration power, all with a dynamic and static, or isometric, component. Generally one to two sessions a week are sufficient to maintain gains previously made and two to three sessions during non-race weeks when gains are desired. The routine should contain full body movements that stress multiple muscle groups with a dynamic core-centered exercise. Spend 20 minutes of high intensity training and be done with it. Technical Skills Development I’m not forgetting, of course, the technical skills development you get with on-mountain downhill sessions. No matter how fast and technically savvy of a rider you may be, the intentional practice of foundational skills is still just as important as new skills that you may be learning or perfecting. You can learn many skills with basic drills or practice at the BMX track. Dirt jumping, pump track areas and trail rides are all useful when specific downhill practice can’t be done. Many skill sessions can also integrated into a conditioning workout as well, though I do recommend having specific periods to work on skills as the main focus for short periods. Ride a section several times, intentionally trying different lines and experimenting with braking zones to see what works for you. Try riding with other riders you normally don’t ride with. You may learn something even if they are slower and generally less skilled than you. The opposite is also helpful; though chasing someone faster than you can lead to the mistake of riding with a sole focus on speed. When your focus is to go fast, everything comes at you rapidly and little if anything can be assessed as right or wrong. There is just an overwhelming sensation of speed with everything hogging all your attention at one time. With this approach, you brake too late, blow a corner, hit a rock with your front wheel and end up on a bad line, all of course resulting in
the direct opposite of getting down the trail as fast as possible. The real tragedy in this process, if this continues, is you reinforce your mistakes, turning a skill into a flaw that is really hard to break. This problem is often why many a rider never gets down the mountain any faster with all that effort. Riding smooth and controlled, focused on skills, should take precedence over simply riding fast. This approach allows you to analyze what you are doing or not doing right. When you get it right, the riding feels effortless. This effortless riding is called a state of flow or “the zone” in which your skills are integrated and become second nature. Scott Hackett, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, is an associate coach at JDS Sportcoaching, LLC, and director of programs and events. He coaches elite to beginner mountain bikers in all disciplines. He can be reached via email at Scott@jdssportcoaching.com and found on the web at www.jdssportcoaching.com.
Sample Training Plan Putting it all together, this training sample is intended for a non-race week. Monday: EST: Zone 1 spin 20-30 minutes. Core and shoulder: stabilization routines, massage, foam rolling, stretching/yoga and electro-muscle stimulation EMS. The purpose here is active recovery. Tuesday: EST: 50 to 70 minutes ride or rowing with Zone 4 VO2 intervals; two sets of 3 reps 3 minutes long with 2-4 minutes recovery in Zone 1. Strength training: Primary focus is legs and pulling movements, stretching/yoga and EMS. Wednesday: EST: 90 minutes Zone 2-3 ride, 5-6 short sprints of 10 seconds with 2-3 minutes recovery in Zone 2. Core and shoulder: Stabilization routines, foam rolling. Thursday: EST: 50-60 minutes ride road or BMX Zone 5 sprint/hill sprint intervals 20-40 seconds with 2-5 minutes recovery in Zone 1. Strength Training: Primary focus is dynamic core full body movements, stretching and EMS. Friday: EST: 50 minutes Zone 2 ride or row, stretching/yoga, foam rolling. Saturday: On-Mountain Skills Training: 6-8 runs, lunch. EST: cross-country ride 70-90 minutes. Sunday: EST: Optional a.m. 90 minutes Zone 2 road or cross-country ride. On-Mountain Skills Training: runs for the rest of the day. Stretching or foam rolling in the evening. For an example of basic core and shoulder routines and exercises and an in-season strength program, go online to the Mountain Flyer training tips page on our website, www.mountainflyer.com.
TRY THIS AT HOM E
by Mitch Fedak
Bike geeks beware! You will obsess over this do-it-yourself project.
he idea to build my own night riding light came to me when I was trying to come up with the cash to buy one I wanted. I was broke, but my need for a good riding light persisted. I had seen a system a friend made that came out quite nicely. When I asked him about it, he got somewhat defensive, like it was a highly guarded secret. Or maybe he thought I was going to ask him to make one for me. In any case, he offered up vague information and referred me to his blog. I found out his plan wasn’t so special at all. In fact, I found out a ton of folks were out there building their own lights and having great success. Even better, most of them were willing to share their advice and resources. All I had to do was put a little effort into research and sourcing my light parts and come up with a materials list to fit my budget. The only apprehension I had so far was the possibility of wasting my money on something that wouldn’t work out. The plans for this setup had to be reasonable. Otherwise, as my friends and family say, “You might as well save your money and buy a real light.” I’d show them, though. I had a foolproof plan.
First Step: What kind of light do I want? The easy pick for me was the Light Emitting Diode, or LED, platform. They’re everywhere these days, from signs to key chains. Until recently LEDs weren’t a good option. Several manufacturers failed in their first attempts at marketing a viable LED riding light for anything but commuting. Now LED technology is getting better at alarming rates; the parts are relatively cheap, and better yet, I had confidence that even a hack like me could build one. A comparable HID light might consume 25 watts, while the same LED would only use 9 watts, increasing battery life. Anymore, LEDs are becoming just as bright as HIDs and lighter in weight. LED light parts are easy to get and fabricate into your own design. Most of the people online seem to be working with them versus halogen and HID. I also had to decide what light characteristics I wanted. For me, durability, power, run-time and practicality were the key features I wanted. I chose, as it turned out, a fairly common design that used three LEDs housed inside 1-inch by 1-inch stock aluminum square tubing you can buy at Home Depot. Whoever originated this idea should get props for such a classic and practical light head.
In the beginning stages of building your own light, the aluminum skeleton is roughed in with LED string.
Second Step: Buy components I went to a cyber source called LED supply. These guys were super helpful and willing to answer all of my questions. Be warned though, most of these retailers expect you to have an idea of what you’re doing. Have your research in order before you call them. They are not really there to teach the beginner light builder, but rather to offer advice on what they carry. I bought three high current LEDs made by Luxeon. The K2 star was the best choice for me because of the easy installation. (The star is a small lens that fits over the emitter to give eflective qualities to the light.) These stars are ready to go out of the box and can be soldered together in a string or used by themselves. There are many other options for emitters, and choices are always changing as technology improves. Several other manufacturers have emitters pre-attached to the star, so
check around to see which one is best for you. The optics for these stars are pretty straightforward. I chose a single 5-degree spot optic for the middle LED and two 15-degree flood optics for the outer LEDs. Again, you have several choices here depending on your final needs and the emitter manufacturer. To finish it off, you need the driver, called a puck. A puck is used to keep the current to the LEDs constant. I went with one that drives my LED string at 1,000 milliamps (mA). The maximum current for these particular LEDs is 1,500 mA. My goal was to drive them with enough juice to make a brighter light, while not using too much power, which would drain the battery too quickly. I also opted for a plug-in wiring harness that operates a potentiometer dimmer, or pot for short. This ended up working well because you can turn the pot from full power to all the way off and everywhere in between without the need for a switch. This makes battery power easily tuned to where you need it. Once I received all my goodies in the mail I turned my attention to putting it all together.
Third Step: Build the light head to house LED components This might be the hardest step. Although I’ve listed it as the third step, you may want to have a plan in the works or already started before everything is ordered and mailed. I have come to the conclusion that this is where the manufacturers really have an edge. It’s not easy building something that is durable and weatherproof, yet effective for the task at hand. I would be willing to bet that when you buy a $300 system much of your money goes to this feature. The housing not only has to function, but look cool, too. I did find a couple of sources that make after-market light heads. They are not cheap, and in my opinion, defeat the purpose of building your own light. For this project, you can get really creative with this step. Someone told me he wanted to house his LEDs in a beer can. I went a step further for mine and didn’t use the whole can, but instead cut pieces to fit the aluminum stock and glued them on with epoxy for an armor-like feature. The can pieces also tied the aluminum together and added some weatherproofing to the tube ends. I masked the text portion of the can for effect and sprayed it all together with a rubberized coating you can get in the paint section of Home Depot. The last task was to cover the light-emitting portion of the light head with a Plexiglas cover. I tried individual parts for each optic, glued in with silicone at first. What a mess! I then moved on to a single piece of Plexiglas across the entire body. I’m getting by with this design but it really hasn’t turned out the way I want. Admittedly, I’m still working on a solution.
Fourth Step: Connect the power supply I got lucky here. I used to have an HID light that worked well for many years. Unfortunately, I left the battery plugged in too long and fried my charger. I ordered a new charger from the company and hoped my battery wasn’t also done. The bad news is that a battery that used to give four hours of runtime now only gets
With all the housing parts removed after testing, the wiring harness with potentiometer, puck (driver) and LED string are all functioning here. Pretty simple, really!
two. The good news is that I took several parts off my old charger and retrofitted it to my new light head. Now I use my old H20 battery to run them for about six hours (remember 25 watts vs. 9 watts). If you don’t have old batteries to play with, there are viable options to power your light setup. The best place to start is online battery sources. They usually have a section for bike lights. Note: these sites may be a place to get cheaper replacement batteries for current setups. I have heard of others using remote control toy batteries and even a regular AA style (depending on your power needs). By the way, I was playing around with old cordless drill batteries and I got them to power the LED string with ease. If you can reuse an old battery, you’ll save a lot of money. Almost half the cost of these systems can go towards batteries and chargers.
Fifth Step: Helmet or handlebar mount? I chose the handlebar mount because I already had the H20 battery. Regardless of your choice, the mount has to be adjustable up and down, easy to install, have a low profile and be durable. There are tons of options. I ended up buying a manufacturer’s clamp and mount and retrofitted it to my new light. It worked great. There are other aftermarket or more universal-type mounts as well as homemade versions. Keeping the design features listed above in mind will help in this process.
Last Step: Mount your sweet light Mount the light you spent uncounted hours making in your basement to your helmet/bar with loads of duct tape. The light mount is what ties the whole project together and makes your setup useable. Think through this step and look around at all the options. The pre-bought kit is usually an added cost, but it may very well save you a headache or two in the long run.
Once your light is attached, you’re ready to ride! My test run of these lights went well. I used them for one of my night laps at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo in February. Although the beams seemed a little weak at times, I had plenty of brightness to make it around the racecourse, and the beam pattern was exactly what I wanted. I’m eager to keep using them, even though a fellow racer said that they looked like Hippies had made them. He’s just jealous because we didn’t invite him to the drum session. On a side note…I was warned several times about the heat that these lights give off. A major concern is how to reduce the temperature through heat sinks mounted to the light head so that it doesn’t burn up. You will see, in the case of many manufacturers, little fins machined into the light head itself for this purpose. It seems that I lucked out again because the heat has not been an issue for my setup. One reason may be because I was moving just fast enough while I was using the light, creating natural heat dispersion with the circulating air. I did turn it off while I was napping, which was often. I also think maybe the can glued to the outside of the tubing might have helped. There are charts and equations to help figure out heat sink/surface area problems if you’re into that stuff. I was going on luck because I’m bad at math. I also decided not to glue my components in place. Most people use a special adhesive called AAA to bind everything together. Unlike most people, I planned to take my light apart and reuse the components in other light heads, hopefully better ones, down the road. Not gluing the parts together may cause your light to malfunction at some point. I also recommend testing your build before your first big expedition or race. In other words, don’t go using it as your only light on the first try. I rode several times around my neighborhood before getting this thing out on the track and still haven’t backcountry tested it. Always have a viable backup. That’s a good general rule anyway. All in all, my light cost less than $100 and a few weekends of messing around with it. I did have additional costs in tools and supplies, but that’s justified by building more, right? It’s hard to say if I really saved money in the long run. It’s not hard to say that I’m motivated to build more. I’m counting on them to get better as I gain experience. Once you have built your first light, I bet you’ll get hooked, too.
For More Information... www.mtbr.com Light forum www.ledsupply.com All your LED component needs and more
www.batteryspace.com All your battery and power needs and more
www.bikeled.org Everything you need to know about building your own LED down to the material lists for specific designs
www.mountainflyer.com: Variety of sources
paraphernalia gotta have it!
World Cup Light, Trail Durable Making the grade as a budding new cross-country race fork is practically as tough as trying to get on the World Cup podium as a neo-pro. On the way, you can expect many failed attempts that ultimately end being up tossed off the podium, deflated and spewing oil. Not so with Magura’s Durin MD100. According to Magura’s literature, the company set out to design the Durin as an easy-to-adjust, lightweight, cross-country race fork without compromising performance, durability or stiffness. The Durin sports an air spring, open bath, oildampened design, which keeps it at a World Cup weight of 1,500 grams. Remote lockout is standard and features trick, integrated cable routing. The only negative design element I found is that the rebound-dampening knob is on the bottom of the leg. I just prefer to have it more easily accessible. Racing is the only true test for a race fork. Not wanting to give the Durin an easy ride into stardom, I set it up on my race bike for the Rabbit Valley Mountain States Cup opener. After racing on the blocky but fast desert terrain in Rabbit Valley near Fruita, Colo., I was wholly impressed with the ride. The Durin has very aggressive feel, as it should; it’s not overly plush, especially early on in the travel. One cool feature is a sensible Dynamic Lockout System, which maintains the proper sag when the fork is locked out. This keeps your head tube angle true so the handling remains tight and the climbing position is perfect. The Durin rocked on the climbs. The Double Arch Design and 32 mm stanchions keep it distinctly stiff and the steering laser sharp. Also contributing to the overall stiffness are safety dropouts with a 45-degree opening for perfect hub engagement and less load on the quick release, transfering brake torque directly into the dropout. Other notable items are air pressure guidelines printed directly on the fork and post-mount disc tabs (approved for rotors up to 210 mm). Magura truly stepped up to the challenge with the Durin, and I’m excited to see what else they have up their sleeves for 2009. – B. Riepe
Future Vision: 2009 Magura Marta SL Magnesium At only 299 grams for the lever, hose, caliper and 160mm rotors, these magnesium Martas will be a hot ticket in ’09. 82
selle san marco:zoncolan saddle
Legendary Performance Can Selle San Marco’s Zoncolan saddle live up to the legends of Monte Zoncolan? The Giro d’Italia has featured northeast Italy’s wicked-steep Monte Zoncolan two times. The first time was during Stage 12 of the 2003 race. Gilberto Simoni won the race, riding Monte Zoncolan from the east side following the road from Sutrio, a 13.5 km climb with a maximum gradient of 27 percent. This was also the last time that Marco Pantani was seen battling for a stage victory in Giro d’Italia, launching an unsuccessful attack 3 km from the finish line. The second time the mountain reared up was in Stage 17 of the 2007 Giro d’Italia, also won by Simoni, which climbed the western route from Ovaro and had an average gradient of 11.5 percent and a max of 22 percent. Does the saddle live up to its name? Well, the 73-year-old San Marco name certainly gives it credibility. And nice elements like ti rails, real leather cover, a 198 gm weight and a supportive but non-restrictive aerodynamic design also help its cause. But is it truly worthy? Who the hell knows? On a 27 percent grade, most of us will be walking anyway. Seriously, this is a beautiful saddle and, despite its minimalist looks, it is comfortable and race-worthy. It comes in three sizes suitably geared to your body shape and riding needs. –B. Riepe
Smarter than a Stick A Seatpost is, at first glance, a simple apparatus. Poor design work, however, can still lead to a screwedup, useless product. The difference between a winner and a loser is in the fine details. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by yet another carbon fiber seatpost, so when I started examining and installing the Syntace P6 post I was intriguingly surprised to find some really smart, well thought out details that solved itchy little problems I’ve experienced with other posts. The clamp is usually the crux of seatpost design and that’s where the crew at Syntace showed off their ability to think creatively. The extra wide (they call it Extended Rail Support) 53 mm platform and minimal (Super-Narrow) 30 mm upper support together are designed to allow more than normal fore and aft adjustment. What this means is you don’t need to decide between a bent, layback style post or a straight post. This gives the clamp ample adjustability and strength at
extreme ends of the spectrum as well as extra rail support for off-road use. Installing and adjusting the seat was a good experience. Syntace smartly gives the bolts a real 40-degree pivot range. This allows for precise angle adjustment. The bolts are positioned absolutely symmetrical to the direction of force, maintaining full strength under load. Here’s the best thing though: you can get to the bolts using a standard allen key and have room for a full turn without banging the bent end of the wrench into the seatpost. As you look farther down the post, you’ll also find a clear and detailed seat-height scale located on the front of the post, where you can actually see it while hunched over your bike trying to adjust your post height. Great features, high-strength testing standards and low weight make this post really stand out. The P6 is available in 27.2 mm, 30.9 mm, 31.6 mm, 34.9 mm diameters and 280 mm, 350 mm, 400 mm and 480 mm lengths. The 27.2 mm x 400 mm post weighs only 233 grams. – B. Riepe
Küat:alpha hitch mount bike rack
Lighter than a Hunk of Steel The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the Küat Alpha rack is that you can pick it up onehanded. Finagling a top-heavy, 40-pound piece of iron into a 4-inch receiver hitch isn’t easy, and no matter how snazzy the hydraulically stabilized, swing-out tailgate access mechanism is, you’re still going to need to uninstall and reinstall the rack every time you go on a trip. So Küat made the sub-15-pound Alpha from lightweight 6061 aluminum tubing. Good idea. They also kept the design simple and functional. The Alpha rack is noticeably compact, it doesn’t stick out so far to require flagging and it can fold up small enough to hide in the corner of your broom closet. The same folding mechanism also allows for easy access to your tailgate; pull out the lock pin and the rack folds down and out of the way. The Alpha includes some other well thought out features as well, like an integrated lock system and a unique cam-wedge gizmo built into the hitch mount bar that keeps the rack from rattling around in the receiver. It came with a really slick locking hitch pin but it wasn’t long enough to fit through the reinforced hitch on my Toyota Tacoma. Affixing bikes to the rack also became an easy proposition because the innovative anti-sway cradles can be quickly repositioned by loosening a lock ring to customize the rack’s configuration. Without any cursing, forcefulness or scratched frames, I was able to get three awkwardly shaped bikes on the rack at the same time; my double top tube balloon tire cruiser bike, an XL Ellsworth Full Suspension 29er and my Yeti 575. The powdercoated Alpha rack is available in chrome or candy orange and has a lifetime warranty. –B. Riepe
honey stinger:organic chews
Tasty Energy Snack with no Scary Side Effects Human Body Trivia: it requires 30 muscles to raise the eyebrows.* So when you pop one of these tasty little gummi, fruit-flavored morsels into your mouth, raise your eyebrows and exclaim, “Mmmm.” You’ll need a few extra calories to power all those extra muscles firing on your forehead. You won’t need to worry about bonking though because the new Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews, made with 100 percent organic tapioca syrup and honey, are a good source of high quality calories. What’s more, since they’re gluten-free and dairyfree, you can share them with your hyper-vegan friends. And they contain no GMO ingredients so there’s no need to worry about growing a third nipple. Honey Stinger Organic Chews come in assorted fruit flavors and, with just a slight hint of honey, taste great. –B. Riepe *Source: http://home.bitworks.co.nz/trivia/body.htm
Not even close to actual size.
knog:gator 605 bike light
Hip, Quick and Light The Gator 605 combines an innovative lithium-ion battery stick with a light and controller system that mounts in seconds to any bike using a no-nonsense silicon strap system. The mounting system is well cushioned to preserve your paint, carbon fiber or metal finishes and provides for easy adjustment on the fly. For the lighting unit, Knog places a pair of three-watt, high-powered LEDs in an over-and-under configuration next to a tiny LED blinker to create a nice, bright oval of white light at the highest setting. Each flood has high and low settings, while the tiny LED has a blink or non-blink option. The clever, subtly illuminated control box makes it easy to see which buttons you’re manipulating, a feature I greatly appreciated. Really, for trail riding, you’ll want to use the high-power feature for all lights, which gives you somewhere around four hours of burn time on a full battery charge. The lower settings are probably adequate for road riding or navigating smooth singletrack during the height of the Harvest Moon. While the Gator 605’s tight light pattern means plenty of brightness straight ahead, the lack of photon spillover meant that anything on the periphery was as dark as a tomb. This proved to be hair-raising and troublesome around long curves and in zigzags on the trail and made me wish the light had a helmet-mount option. A slight drawback of Knog’s ultra-hip engineering design is the fact that disconnecting the cables is extremely difficult with sweaty fingers, or even dry fingers—giving the owner the urge to grab the wires and yank them apart, possibly destroying the light in the process. But the Gator 605’s ability to fully recharge in about an hour or less and its just-over-a-pound feather weight make it extremely attractive. —J. Rickman
Everything but a Missile Guidance System Helmet…check. Sunglasses…check. Energy food and water…check. On-board GPS satellite-guided, programmable, multifunctional, personal navigation and training data retrieval unit…check. Go! Whoa, wait, what was that? The Garmin Edge series of cycling-specific navigation devices can give you, in a downloadable form, every singe piece of data imaginable, including your mileage, speed, distance, heart rate, cadence, power meter reading, altitude and of course GPS coordinates and a map of the route. Power meter readings can come from any compatible third-party, ANT+Sport™-enabled power meter. You can program common workout courses and compete against previous workouts. The Edge 705 is also compatible with optional programmable data cards so you can download topo or street maps of just about anywhere you may want to go. A major downfall to having all these features packed into one unit is the size. Although it only weighs 3.7 ounces, at 2 by 4.3 inches the Edge 705 is compact considering all of its features but in my opinion still much too large to mount on my handlebars. I like a clean cockpit. I’d like to see some sort of two-piece unit with basic number information on a small handlebar unit while the bulk of the GPS unit rests in my pocket. The size may be acceptable on a touring bike but not my mountain bike or lightweight road bike. The only other weak point in the Edge 705’s design is the stiff, plastic heart rate monitor sensor strap. Garmin is a bit behind the curve compared with Polar’s newer soft and flexible sensor strap. Out on the trail with the Edge 705, I will admit I enjoyed having so much data easily accessible in front of me. The controls were reasonably intuitive and I didn’t have any trouble customizing it to my needs. After the first ride, I downloaded all the data to my computer and, using Gramin Training Center Software, which is available as a free download, I checked out the route map and analyzed the data with all the charts and graphs you could ever need. The Edge 705 is truly a one-stop shop for your ride data. Having the capability to track, compare and even compete against past workouts makes it a very useful training tool for the tech-oriented training junkie. –O. Mattox 85
sheila moon:fleece hoody
A Hoody for Your Inner Fonz Essentially this hooded fleece seems like any other. However, as a clothing item to keep you warm, it’s top notch. I’ve been wearing this hooded fleece commuting to work, walking around in town and hanging out early in the house while I drink coffee and chase my daughter. The true details of this riding hoody make this fleece a must-have for cyclists. The stitching just looks cool. Its gray-on-black fleece gives it a technical but stylish appearance. When fully zippered, the front came up just under my chin and never rubbed my face wrong. The hood is oversized and will easily cover a helmet if needed. There are cycling-specific, jersey-style pockets on the back. Maybe overkill, I never did use them but they are there and don’t take away from anything. Over a long or short sleeve shirt, this fleece kept me as warm as I needed to be at any riding distance. It has a slim, cycling cut without restricting movement. The arms are plenty long for riding and the cuffs are the perfect combination of tight enough but not clingy. One last great feature is the pocket on the upper arm. It’s deep and great for the phone. I rode in confidence knowing the phone would stay. I’m not sure why but I loved this little pocket. Keep any quick draw item in there or drop in your smokes and fulfill your deep-seated desire to be the Fonz. Sheila Moon’s fleece cycling hoody is handsome and it works. I’m a huge fan of this fleece. It’s perfect as a cycling-specific companion to your other layers, but it’s just as useful pimping around town wondering what time it is. –C. Hanna Fall ‘08 colors will be available in black or teal, both with ice blue stitching.
Brazen Vision, Fashionable Fit When it comes to bike clothes, I’m not really a dots and flowers person. I prefer my bike attire to be a little more muted, though I’d still like a little element of fashion infused in them. Picky, yes, but I find I’m not alone along women cyclists. Women’s cycling apparel company Harlot has found a way to combine fashion and fit. Its Scarlet-X Knicker is just one example. The contoured stretch waistband is cut with a stylish low rise, but still modest enough for riding. The legs run down to a slight but chic flare at the knee. And the fit is flattering— just ask my boyfriend who appreciates the design almost as much as I do. Harlot—its name inspired by the first women who brashly rode bikes in the 1890s—takes a bold approach to not only redefining the word harlot from its scandalous roots of those days, but also redefining marketing for women. The New Mexico company dubbed its seamless liner with silky fabric and light padding the BCZ padding system, which stands for beaver control zone, because they say, “that’s exactly what it is.” Actually the liner is a nice change from the bulky “diaper butt” pads a lot of women avoid and it wears comfortably on long rides. The company also has a line of beaver T-shirts and hoodies. In the cycling line, they offer shorts, jerseys, socks and freeride apparel for women, a rare commodity. The women’s Houlihan urban camouflage shorts are a big hit. This year, men can shop at Harlot, too, for their own stylish shorts, jerseys and hoodies. It’s a refreshing change, both Harlot’s brazen company vision and the apparel. In an industry that seems to focus all too often on the other sex, it’s nice to have a company dedicated to true female fashion and comfort in its apparel –C. Spaeth Colors: Moss, grass and black • Sizes: Six sizes from XS to XXL 86
The Mother of Comfort ! www.bigagnes.com
Weight as tested: 20.45 lbs Frame weight: 3.4 lbs Frame price: $1,500 www.ahrensbicycles.com
Precision Engineered Aluminum Designer/builder Mike Ahrens originally showed his Alcohauler Singlespeed as a concept bike at the 2007 North American Handmade Bicycle Show. At first I thought the name was an engineer’s tribute to the evil empire of Alcoa Aluminum. Thankfully, the Alcohauler is not named after the world’s largest aluminum cartel but instead gets its name from something much more sublime: the Wisecracker bottle opener headset spacer it comes with—an appropriate element on a singlespeed. Mike Ahrens is an engineer at heart and in practice (see Understanding Aluminum on p. 65 of this issue). His designs are functional and engineered to very tight tolerances. Ahrens works with steel in certain applications but this race-bred Alcohauler characterizes his innovative work with aluminum. While aluminum has lost popularity in hardtail applications because of its inherent stiffness, it has some very attractive attributes when speed is what you really want. It’s light and responsive so it can be a great choice for a race bike or a singlespeed, both of which during a pedal stroke will go through considerable torsional stress, or a capacity for flex under a load twisting on an axis. To address aluminums properties, Ahrens applies his engineering knowledge by “tuning” the 7005 series frame. The engineered upper and lower yokes, wishbone-shaped joints that mate the seat tube to rectangular seat and chainstays, provide excellent power transfer during pedaling. In cross-section, the yokes have the shape of a “C-channel,” providing a strong vertical back wall and saving material and weight without sacrificing strength. The tapered shape of the yokes can be compared to a tuning fork. The shape gives a small amount of torsional compliance to the frame’s rear triangle. This compliance aids in cornering and overall traction for a flickable ride quality that feels alive underneath the rider. The truly unique design concept of the Alochauler frame is based on its adaptability. By designing it with ample tire clearance, made possible with the machined yokes, and room for expansion via slider dropouts, Ahrens envisioned a bike that could functionally adapt to multiple wheel sizes, 26-inch or 650B, splitting the difference and basically designing the bike around a theoretical 27-inch outside diameter tire.
tire is an ISO 584 mm. A high-volume 559 mm tire may have a similar outside diameter to a lower volume 584 mm tire. Even though both tires will have similar outside diameters in the vicinity of 27 inches, a high-volume tire, like a 26 x 2.4, will have more cush, rolling resistance and weight than a lower volume 650B x 2.1 tire. With a 650B tire, you will gain the attributes of a larger diameter tire with less weight, lower rolling resistance and less tendency for sidewall roll. Back to the Bike When it comes to frame design, what matters is the outside diameter of the tire because it affects frame clearance and geometry. This opens up an interesting possibility when building a frame. It’s within reason to make a frame that will work with 559 or 584 mm wheels and tires anywhere on 26-inch wheels up to 26 x 2.5 and on 650B wheels up to 650B x 2.3 inches, giving the rider amazing versatility in one bike with two wheelsets. With the theoretical 27-inch wheel diameter as a starting point, the Alcohauler’s bottom bracket height would sit at 12.5-inches, which is a nice target dimension for trail hardtails with 100 mm suspension forks. A high air volume 26 x 2.2 tire brings the bottom bracket height down to 12.2 inches—the true sweet spot, according to Ahrens, for cross-country riding, giving just the right amount of crank arm-to-ground clearance for 175 mm cranks. With 650B tires, the bottom bracket height will increase to about 12.7 inches depending on true outside tire diameter. Ahrens let me hold on to the Alcohauler for several months, which was good because it became an intricate bike to review. I rode it with standard 26-inch tires front and rear, 26inch rear and 650B front (that’s a 2650Ber) and with 650B front and rear, trying both the Pacenti 650B x 2.3 Neo-Moto and the Pacenti 650B x 2.0 Quasi-Moto tires. I rode it fully rigid with a
Tangent When we’re talking wheel and tire size, things are about as clear as campaign politics, but I found a great article by the late cycling wise man Sheldon Brown (you can find the article at www.sheldonbrown.com/26/index.html). What I learned is that 26 inches is not a real tire or rim size. This traditional size measurement is supposedly based on the outside diameter of the tire, but you must also consider that the measurement includes a width. To call it a 26-inch tire is misleading because a high volume 26 x 2.2-inch tire can have an outside diameter more like 26.4 inches. There is a more accurate International Organization for Standardization (ISO) measurement system (but few utilize it), which more accurately gives you a measurement of the outside rim diameter, referred to as “bead seat diameter.” What is commonly known as a 26-inch mountain bike tire is an ISO 559 mm. A 650B mountain bike 89
White Brothers carbon fork and also suspended. It became complex to analyze and was truly very interesting. Switching wheel sizes was relatively painless and Ahrens’ slider dropouts were easy to adjust when switching out rear wheels. When going from a 26-inch rear wheel to the 650B wheel, the only hitch was that to get clearance for the 650B x 2.3 Neo-Moto, it was necessary to lengthen the chain to retain proper tire clearance while maintaining a similar gear ratio. Since the rear wheel size affects the gear ratios, you’ll typically want to increase the size of the rear cog when going to a larger wheel. The larger cog effectively shortens the chain and pulls the rear wheel forward so I ran out of room for the larger wheel and had to add two links to the chain. The front end is simpler, especially with the rigid fork. Officially, White Brothers is the only company making a specific 650B suspension fork. Many other suspension forks will work with a 650B wheel (you just need to test them for clearance), but some manufacturers are issuing disclaimers stating their forks were not designed to work with 650B (liability crap). With every change, I noticed nuances in the handling of the bike that were essentially predictable. I’m partial to 26ers for most racing so I chose that configuration for the opening Rabbit Valley Mountain States Cup race in Fruita, Colo. With lightweight Kenda tires and a racy Magura Durin fork, the 26er Alcohauler was rippin’ fast in the twisty singletrack and ultra-efficient on the climbs. It felt like an aggressive cross-country race bike should feel. The cross-country race was short, just over an hour, so every second counted. It was a sprint and I very much appreciated the responsiveness and quick handling the frame provided. I made several good passes on inside corners in the singletrack and out-climbed everyone close to me near the finish, something I could attribute to the efficiency of the bike, not my April fitness. Running it as a 2650Ber (remember, that’s a 26-inch rear and 650B front) means a slightly slacker head angle on the order of 0.3 to 0.5 degree difference depending on true wheel diameter. With this setup, the bike needed to be leaned hard into the corners but was killer fun in technical desert riding typical to Fruita and Grand Junction. It definitely rolled up and over the sandstone blocks with ease, was stable down ledgy descents and still climbed like a demon. For some reason I was really drawn to this configuration for the same reason I’m really intrigued by the 69er platform. It makes a lot of sense. As a full 650B rig, the bike felt balanced, sort of 29erish but not so gangly. It certainly felt different than it did as a 26er. The momentum it carried was noticeable and it really smoothed out the little chatter bumps. But it didn’t feel as quick as it did in 26er or 2650Ber mode. I raced the 650B-configured bike with a rigid fork at the Nathrop, Colo., Mountain States Cup race with good results. The course is mostly fast straight-aways with very little real climbing but sections are strewn with river cobbles. Even with the rigid fork I was able to keep good momentum through the cobbles, well until the fourth lap when I fell apart. In the end, can I pick a favorite configuration? No. And I don’t need to. That is what’s attractive about this design. By switching around the wheel configurations, you can adjust the bike to shine on whatever riding style you want that day. The Alcohauler was a pleasure to ride and the frame is beautifully fabricated. I’d call it evolutionary. And the wisecracker bottle opener works flawlessly. –B. Riepe 90
CUSTOM TI SINGLESPEED
Base Ti Singlespeed Frame Price: $2,220 Frame Price as Tested: $2,570 www.desalvocycles.com
It Pays to be Patient Last summer, after frequently getting my cycling ego handed to me on a platter by friends on their 19-pound singlespeeds, the proverbial wheels in my head started to turn and I began to dream of ordering up a custom singlespeed. Not being one to settle for a jerry-rigged hand-me-down singlespeed conversion from a retired old hardtail, I wanted a custom builder to work with me and create a one-of-a-kind titanium frame. Better make it a custom paint job, too. Picking the frame builder wasn’t a tough decision. I’ve known of Mike DeSalvo and DeSalvo Custom Cycles based in Ashland, Ore., for some time and I new I could trust his judgment and flexibility to work with me, listen to my ideas about style and color, apply his own knowledge after reviewing my measurements and create a bike that would truly fit me in both size and style. To start, I filled out a custom order form online and discussed the finer details of what I was looking for. DeSalvo went to work making my frame using 3/2.5 seamless titanium tubes produced in the United States. He added uncompromised details like S-bend seat and chainstays for better tire clearance and elegant lines, a hand-machined head tube and precise down tube miters. Precision miters mean uncompromised strength. Once all the paperwork and formalities were complete, I had to box up my excitement for a while. Take it from me, in a society built on instant gratification you should not rush this part of the process. Like any artist, these frame builders run on surges of inspiration that constant, daily contact will suppress. Enough said? Now, wetting my pants with excitement is probably not an appropriate way to describe opening the box from DeSalvo 92
Cycles. But it’s close when you receive a custom titanium frame with unbelievably smooth welds and a custom powdercoat paint job you helped conceive. Suffice to say I really liked what I pulled out of the box. One of the most important details on a singlespeed is the dropouts. I opted to go with slider style horizontal drops, a must with disc brakes, but didn’t think to ask Mike exactly what dropouts he would use. He surprised me with the coolest looking sliders I’ve seen. He used a newly available design produced by Paragon Machine Works, a well-respected supplier of custom frame components. DeSalvo now includes these sliders standard on all singlespeed frames. They’re machined with three-dimensional details, removing excess material to keep them light but strong. The minimalist design allows them to be joined to hooded, Breezer-style dropouts. Since the chainstay and seatstay tubes do not need to be tapered, or pinched, at the joint, the design is stronger, stiffer and much cleaner looking. With all of his custom paint requirements DeSalvo sends many of his frames to Spectrum Powder Works based in Colorado Springs, Colo. It’s a common misconception that ti won’t accept paint well; Spectrum has perfected the process by using aluminum oxide in a gentle, physical blasting process to give an etch, or tooth, to the material for the base powdercoat to bond with. This allows for a high quality powdercoat, even sharp candy coats like the one on this DeSalvo frame. The paint job detailing was much cooler than I anticipated. Spectrum incorporates the logo and other fine detailing into the base layer instead of using decals. Using an airbrush and mask, they spray a dry, suspended raw pigment directly over the
basecoat, so you end up with a thin layer of pigment sandwiched between the base coat and the final powder clear coat, creating a refined, seamless, professional look. The color is rich and almost surreal looking. With frame in hand, the next step was to turn it into a complete bike. Building up a singlespeed piece by piece doesn’t require a lot of parts but doing it myself did require more time getting everything just right. Most stuff you could probably do yourself, but for me cutting the steer tube and setting up hydraulic brake lines were jobs I would rather let my local bike shop do. An important aspect of this bike was having function come before fashion, albeit the fashion was going to be hard to beat. My first ride was a culmination of five months of anticipation, anxiety and elation. I’m happy to say that it rides as good as it looks. On one of my first rides in Fruita, Colo., this spring, just winding up the motor on Rustler’s Loop, I could feel what my sandbagger-riding partner has been saying for so long about singlespeeds. It felt so tight. The ride was smooth and silent and responsive. With one up from a 2/1 gear ratio—32-tooth ring in front and a 17-tooth cog—I never felt as if I were “spinning out.” We linked up Mary’s Loop with Horsethief and back onto Mary’s and, if you know the spot I’m talking about, there’s a section that climbs out of a drainage and up a moderate climb. Then just before the apex, there is a pretty good technical move that takes power, momentum and timing at just the right spot to clean. Just so you know, I normally clean this (right, Stu?) but I didn’t get it just right and my first thought was to head back down and hit it again, potentially rubbing my chainstays between two big rocks and slamming the bottom bracket on the sandstone ledge to pull it off. Did I tell you how damn nice that paint job was? I just couldn’t risk defacing this piece of work for a few bragging rights—not just yet. The good, the bad, the ugly? There is no ugly on this one and I can’t think of anything bad I would say about my experience. Although it did teach me patience, realizing that the process is part of the payoff, which made everything about this bike much more satisfying. And it’s a big part of the reason this bike is staying inside my house, not in that cold garage. –S. Mabry
ONE-OF-A-KIND 650B HARDTAIL
Base Frame Price: $1,300 Custom Lugs as Tested: $500 (price depends on complexity of lugs) S&S Couplers: $400 Complete Bike as Tested: $3,720 www.zrcycles.com
One-of-a-kind Hardtail ZR Cycles is Zack Rielley, a committed custom frame builder who holds shop in the suburban cycling oasis of Madison, Wisc. ZR specializes in fabricating steel frames, and heâ€™s one of a small contingent of frame builders challenging the misconception that lugged or fillet-brazed bike frames are primarily for show. Frame builders like ZR take the beauty and strength of lugged frame construction and combine them with traditional fabrication techniques, current components and modern materials to create superbly artistic bike frames that donâ€™t look everyday but are meant to be ridden hard everyday. This one-of-kind hardtail, built in early 2008, demonstrates the kind of custom features and current innovations youâ€™ll only get from a builder of handmade bikes. The geometry is specifically designed for 650B (27.5-inch) wheels. A new kid on the block, 650B wheels are continuing to gain popularity, especially among the more easily adaptable custom builders. According to proponents, with 650B wheels you can get the benefits of a larger wheel size without having to overtweak the geometry of the frame to accommodate larger wheels, which means this bike has only subtle differences compared to a 26-inch wheeled bike. The ride is comfortably familiar. At 16.8-inches, the chainstays are well within normal length and the S-bend design gives ample room for additional tire clearance. The bottom bracket drop is adjusted to keep a fairly standard 11.8-inch bottom bracket height without jacking up the standover height. At 23.6-inches, the top tube is just right for the medium/large size frame yet there is no risk of catching your toes on the front wheel when turning, like you may find with other wheel sizes. Notably, the 650B wheels also work with many standard forks like the Maverick SC32 on this bike, with no internal adjustments, although some manufacturers will not specifically recommend it. 95
Every time I check, there are more companies introducing 650B products. For this test, we were lucky to get ahold of a pair of new Pacenti 650B Quasi Moto 2.1 tires. Soon there will be tires from Maxxis and Kenda as well. This is the third 650B bike we’ve reviewed in Mountain Flyer so far, including the Ahrens singlespeed on page 88 of this issue. For more information on 650B wheels, check out www.650bpalace.blogspot.com. This ZR frame also features S&S frame couplers—so the frame can be broken down for no-fee air travel or small storage spaces—and braze-ons for racks and fenders. It uses an eccentric bottom bracket for easy singlespeed set-up and has a derailleur hanger if you’d rather go with gears. Another luxury that small builders have is the ability to hand-pick tube sets and fine-tune the ride. For this frame, ZR chose a forgiving Tange Prestige top tube, stout Pacenti Heavy Mettle down tube and Columbus Zona seat and chainstays and seat tube. The seatstays are custom bent for better tire clearance and flex. Adding a tough of class, the head tube is connected using lugs hand-cut from 4130 chromoly stock while the rest of the frame is fillet-brazed. The finishing touch is the paint job. This frame’s Spectrum powdercoat is subtle, elegant and durable. The main frame has a black base coat while the head tube (not the lugs) and logos are cast in a deep purple haze. The whole thing is glazed with a pearl-clear powdercoat, making it sparkle if the sun hits it just right. It’s very elegant. The features ZR chose for the bike speak for his ingenuity and apparent dedication to not only building beautiful bikes but also riding them. This bike offers the ultimate in class and versatility from ripping tight singletrack to extended on and off-road adventure riding or touring. When compared with carbon, aluminum or ti, steel frames can carry weight penalties, especially using lugged and fillet-brazed construction. At 26.5 pounds with pedals, this bike was a little hefty. You have to remember though that it’s built to last. Some weight could be saved in lighter but more expensive components. In lieu of ultra-light components, Zack chose durable Shimano XT hubs, a Brooks saddle and Avid mechanical discs. (Mechanical discs work much better with the S&S frame couplers since the cable can be split with a little gadget at the coupler.) And in a bike like this, weight is not the first consideration. Riding a custom masterpiece like this can be nerve-racking at first. I didn’t want to be the first one to put a gaping scratch across the chainstay. But once out on the trail, I forgot all about that drivel and reminded myself that Zack assured me,“It’s a mountain bike. Don’t be afraid to get it dirty and bang it up a bit. It’s built for it.” So I let ’er rip and got it dirty. The ride was predictably solid and stable. With the Maverick SC32 fork on the front, I could point it down some pretty steep stair-stepped technical trail and feel good about it. The best way to describe this bike is that it’s simply enjoyable. It doesn’t feel like a race bike but more of an all-day bike. With a fairly relaxed 71.5-degree head tube angle and 72.6 degree seat tube angle, the handling was stable and not too twitchy. ZR is a talented builder who paid close attention to the quality, detailing and features on this bike. I like that ZR was quick to dive into something new like 650B wheels. It shows initiative. Just riding the bike, looking down and seeing those hand-cut lugs, the stainless steel frame couplers and fine details made me smile, keep pedaling and not think twice about the mud splattered all over the subtle but dazzling custom paint job—’cause Zack said it was okay. –B. Riepe 96
MSRP: $750 SIZES: S,M,L,XL Weight Tested: 26.7 lbs www.raleighusa.com
Retro is always in Some years ago, I went to a bike conference and brought my only bike, a hardtail with a rigid fork, for the organized afternoon ride. Granted, this was when the full-suspension craze was exploding and everybody was blasting down trails on dualies. Well, except me. One of the cyclists looked my bike up and down and said, “Going retro, eh?” Since then I caught the addictive wave and stored my “retro” ride at the back of the shed. It won’t surprise you then that I just now tried out a singlespeed. The Raleigh XXIX caught me up to with the singlespeed trend and put me smack dab in the 29er craze. Now I’m asking why I didn’t try this combo earlier. The XXIX, a rigid fork singlespeed hopped up on 29-inch wheels, is in its second edition for Raleigh. The company made a few changes to last year’s bike, adding a longer seatpost to fit
the sloping top tube frame, reducing the graphics to a more subtle look and painting it a more appealing blue from the previously unpopular burnt orange. The bike’s frame and fork are both 4130 chromoly steel with butted tubing for the frame. The drivetrain consists of a 33x20 gearing with external bearing Truvativ GXP bottom bracket. For the big wheels, the XXIX has WTB Speed Disc wheels wrapped in the very grippy WTB Stout 2.3 tires. The bike comes spec’d with Avid BB mechanical disc brakes, an easyto-adjust and proven brake. Raleigh chose an eccentric bottom bracket (EBB) for adjusting the singlespeed chain tension, allowing a quick release on the rear wheel. I like the EBB because it lets you adjust chain tension at the bottom bracket rather than at the rear wheel and avoids the annoying rear disc brake adjustment every time you tension the chain. Although most of the bikes I ride size up as “mediums,” I tested a small XXIX, which fits my 5-foot-7 height and 30-inch inseam well. The XXIX sizes tend to run larger than standard sizes so double-check the geometry. The 2008 bike comes with a 400 mm seatpost for longer legged riders. At the back, Raleigh chose a replaceable dropout if you 98
decide to go with gears. But I don’t recommend it. Singlespeeding is a total blast, that is, after you’ve gotten over your gear addiction and ride it enough to stop sucking wind so much. I found the 33x20 gearing a good start for me on technical, mildly hilly trails. On roads, where the bike is a great commuter, I’d definitely go with a bigger gear. Off-road, with the rigid frame and fork, it took some time to reacquaint myself with “original style” bike riding: looking for smooth lines, absorbing shock with body motion, finessing my way up and down rocks, rather than blasting mindlessly down a trail. The give of the steel frame helped, as did the 29er wheels, which really do smooth out small bumps and even rock step-ups. That was a nice surprise. In this way, the rigid fork and 29er wheels make a good pair. And Raleigh keeps it that way by building the frame without a suspension-corrected fork. That is, if you did swap out the rigid fork for a plush variety, the sag would change the geometry somewhat. It seems Raleigh was indeed looking for a truly retro singlespeed in the XXIX. The geared variety does account for suspension, since it comes standard with an 80 mm Rock Shox Reba front shock. I got attached to this bike because it made my old trails new again. The 29-inch wheels really swept around corners and took the edge off the technical terrain. In going uphill, the big wheels take a little more oomph to keep rolling, and they can be tricky at low speeds on tight corners, too, since the larger wheel has a larger gyroscopic effect and needs to keep moving. But I countered those effects with more speed and the bike responded well. Once I put in some miles on it, the rigid ride was as natural as when I was a kid jumping curbs. The only change I’d make is adding a little squishier grips for comfort. The XXIX is a great package, and at the price, it’s a good introduction to singlespeeding for those, like me, who take too long to make up their minds. Luckily for me and my obstinate ways, retro is always in style. –C. Spaeth
Weight as tested: 16.20 lbs Frame weight: 2.75 lbs Team Estrada frame/fork: MSRP $2,499 RAM 2 Bianca bar/stem: MSRP $900 www.bti-usa.com
An Italian Race Horse by Way of the Santa Fe Trail The feeling I experienced when I packed the Pro Estrada Team back into its hard case can only be described as reluctance. You just don’t ship a bike like this in a cardboard box. Even a hard case seems like inadequate protection. But it wasn’t fear of damage that caused me to drag my feet in returning the bike to BTI, the brand’s exclusive American distributor in Santa Fe, NM. I just didn’t want to give it back. As I pulled the straps tight around the case, I quietly tucked away fond memories of the rides we shared. There was the first ride north from Salida, with snowpack still covering the hay meadows and an icy wind streaming out of the mountains, the killer hill sprints we endured after work as the sunset over Gunnison and the mellow recovery rides we enjoyed up Ohio Creek Road. But the best memory of all, the one I won’t forget, was the 75 miles on Highway 149 traveling southwest from Gunnison, past Powderhorn and on towards Lake City. A bike like the Pro Estrada Team demands true mountain roads as testing grounds and the route up and over to Powderhorn, starting with the infamous 9-Mile Hill, was just the ticket. This ride isn’t just some back road tour. In the mid 1980s, its asphalt was graced by some of the world’s best riders who raced over its summits in the Munsingwear Classic International Bicycle Race. Back in 1986, I’m sure most of the top pro teams rode the Munsingwear Classic on Cinelli bars but they probably could 100
not have dreamed of anything like the 2008 Ram 2 bars or the Pro Estrada Team frameset. Like many modern carbon fiber road bikes out there, the Estrada Team is a race-bred machine built for performance. The combination of Italian styling and a frame of hand-wrapped, Columbus XLR8R round, oversized tubing differentiates the Pro Estrada Team frameset from the, uh, mold of more common monocoque carbon framesets. Columbus, which introduced the XLR8R carbon fiber tubeset in 2003, claims the five unidirectional and directional layers of the XLR8R tubeset gives superior damping qualities and desired strength at specific points of the frame. Cinelli was right to take advantage of the technology. Hand-wrapping a frame from a component tubeset is more labor intensive compared with pumping a monocoque frame out of a mold. To create the frame, the tubeset is bonded together using a process developed by the aerospace industry to bond and cure (co-curing) the joints in one step. The process gives Cinelli better strength-to-weight ratio, control over the ride characteristics, the ability to produce more size options and even make custom framesets for pro riders. That’s also
good for you and me. At 5-foot-10 with a 32-inch inseam, I think of myself as average-sized. But I’ve been continuously frustrated with the size options available in carbon fiber frames, and I always seem to sit directly between a medium and a large. I ride what used to be called a 56 cm. When looking over the size options offered by Cinelli, I was impressed to see five sizes offered from XS to XL, meaning smaller gaps between the sizes and better fit for more people. Sitting on the large Estrada Team, I had finally found a carbon fiber race bike that fit me correctly. Details on the Estrada Team are predictably what you’d expect from Italian designers: wishbone seat and chainstays; 1-1/8 inch Columbus Tusk straight-blade, full carbon fork; Columbus aluminum 1-1/8 inch integrated headset; oversized tubes and flashy graphics. The ride is also predictably awesome. When climbing up and over 9-Mile Hill, I felt like every bit of power I paid out
The Estrada Team begs you to climb harder, suffer longer and dive through every corner like you’re off the front in the final stretch. went directly into forward motion, sending me flying up the steepest grades like [fill in your dope-free hero here]. With an aggressive 73.5 degree head tube and 73 degree seat tube, the frame is snappy and tight, smooth even over rugged chip ‘n’ seal pavé, exceptionally responsive and race-ready. The Estrada Team begs you to climb harder, suffer longer and dive through every corner like you’re off the front in the final stretch of the world criterium championships. Because the bike fit me well, I also found the Pro Estrada Team to be exceptionally comfortable. My perception of its comfort was not without due influence from the RAM 2 Bar/Stem. Made from monocoque, high modulus T700 carbon fiber, the RAM 2 stands out with double-internal routing for ST or Ergopower levers, a generous platform they call an ergo-airfoil wing bar-top design and AVS-Gel strips. They are the most beautiful, comfortable bars I’ve ridden and at 400 g (100 mm stem with 40 cm bar), they’re ultra-light, too. In short, after experiencing the RAM 2, I’ll have a hard time returning to my old round bars. Santa Fe, NM-based BTI is distributing the iconic Cinelli brand exclusively through select dealers, so you can easily get one stateside. The snow-white Pro Estrada Team is sold as a frame and fork, and the RAM 2 Bianca bars are available separately. But I’d recommend getting the whole package. My test bike was appropriately spec’d with Campagnolo Record components, which in general I liked a lot. Campy has some nice attributes like the compact brake hoods, lightning quick shifting and classic style, but I’d be interested to ride the Pro Estrada Team spec’d with SRAM Red or Dura-Ace components. The nice thing is BTI can build it up with any gruppo you like. Despite my desire to keep the bike, I sadly shipped it back to BTI so they could use it in their demo fleet. If you’d like to check one out, log onto www.bti-usa.com/resources and find a dealer close by. –B. Riepe 101
Riding Beneath the Bubble in the White Mountains of Arizona by James E. Rickman
here’s a certain strangeness to riding in Arizona’s White Mountains. While aspiring mountain biking Meccas clamor for attention, this place seems to prefer anonymity. It is the mountain biking destination that time and most everyone else it seems has forgotten. The White Mountains stand quietly at eastern edge of the Grand Canyon State as an ocean of towering Ponderosa pines visible as far as the eye can see. Beneath this whispering green canopy, nearly 200 miles of superb, well-marked, non-motorized trails remain hidden in plain sight. Within reach of the trails, the nearby community of Pinetop-Lakeside hugs the skirt of Highway 260, looking as if nothing beyond 1950 ever took root here. Rustic lakeside cabins and A-frames that might have been second homes for Ward and June Cleaver are tucked neatly into the trees. The region is an anachronism of sorts, as if it had been preserved beneath a bell jar of benign disinterest and stored in a forgotten attic somewhere.
Every day is a good one in the White Mountains.
THE EDGES OF THE BELL JAR END A FEW MILES AWAY To the north in Show Low, the noise and disorientation of modern society are palpable inside the discount stores and Taco Bells that have become monuments to American Progress. A few miles south, the Hon-Dah Casino, its parking lot brimming with RVs, provides a doorway to capitalist culture for the White Mountain Apache tribe and marks the edge of reservation land. Yet in between, Pinetop-Lakeside clings to the ragged edge of days gone by on the Mogollon Rim—where the southernmost edge of the Colorado Plateau abdicates its majesty to the Basin and Range below. Sitting on the edge of the rim up here gives the impression that this fragile area could suddenly sheer off and careen into the valley below, colliding head on with the 103
The Panorama Trail offers some of the best views of any trail in the White Mountains Trail System.
unchecked commercialization and artificiality of Phoenix and Scottsdale 150 miles to the southwest. As much as the pull of progress beckons tiny Pinetop-Lakeside into the abyss, sojourners from the mega-metropolis below make regular pilgrimages to the White Mountains to escape the oppressive desert heat, traffic jams and nonstop ambient noise of civilization. People come here to savor the sticky darkness of the night sky or to bask under the brilliant blue ceiling of the day. Up here the vanilla essence of Ponderosa pine floats lazily on the temperate air. This is a world where solitude is easy to find and a person can hear himself think. A CONNECTION WITH NATURE Back in 1987, an enlightened group comprised of the U.S. Forest Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the White Mountains Horsemen’s Association and the Audubon Society decided to embark on an initiative to create a network of trails that would connect the town and forest. The group called itself Pinetop-Lakeside TRACKS, a clumsy acronym paying homage to the multiple user groups involved. Thanks to a steady stream of public and private donations and an army of eager local volunteers, the group officially gave birth to the White Mountain Trail system by sculpting 10 miles of tight singletrack into the rocky soil. Now, 20 years later, the White Mountain Trail System could 104
serve as model of success for modern communities seeking to capitalize on outdoor recreation. More than 180 miles of trail are officially part of the network, with more on the way. From Pinedale—15 miles northwest of Show Low—to the edges of the Apache reservation 10 miles southeast of Pinetop-Lakeside, the trail system meanders through the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest and now includes a dozen major loops, most of which are interconnected by fire roads or singletrack trails. The system is specifically designated only for hiking, biking and equestrian use. Motorized vehicles are restricted to fire and forest roads that don’t conflict with non-motorized trails for the most part. A contingent of 200 TRACKS volunteers and a progressive land manager—Ed Collins of the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest Lakeside Ranger District—are instrumental to the continuing success of the trail system, said Nick Lund, president of TRACKS. Members are constantly seeking to improve the network. Proposed routes go through formal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, and the TRACKS group meets one day a week for trail construction and maintenance activities. “This really is one of the most dedicated groups of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” said Lund. UNEXPECTED PRAISE All of the hard work has paid off. Some heavy hitters have noticed the success of the network, and funding continues to roll
Some good rides in the White Mountains We had only planned to ride three days during our visit to the White Mountains. But because the trails were so great, we ended up riding five out of our six days there (even God rested…). During that time we saw exactly two riders on horseback and three on bikes. Here are some notes about some of the more notable trails we encountered: Los Burros Trail: If you had to choose one ride to do on your way through Pinetop-Lakeside, this might be the one. This 13-mile loop is listed as “moderate” but does include a couple of hairy sections. Like everything in the White Mountains, rocks are numerous and challenging. But this beauty of a trail also includes long, smooth stretches through alpine meadow and fern-dappled forest. The final downhill section will peg the fun meter.
Panorama Trail: While many trails in the White Mountains wind through endless stands of trees, Panorama, like the name suggests, is a trail with views. Only six miles in length, the entertainment value makes it seem much longer (or shorter, depending on your personal predilections). The climb near the end makes you work for the final breathtaking view, but the short, fast, final downhill will keep you giggling halfway through your beer back at the trailhead. Sultan of Spokes Keith Bontrager gives Panorama two enthusiastic thumbs up.
in. Arizona Sen. John McCain has dropped in on a TRACKS meeting for an impromptu trails briefing, while Hillary Rodham Clinton visited in 2000 as First Lady of the United States to bestow a Millennium Trail designation on the system’s Land of the Pioneers loop. Legendary Wheelman Keith Bontrager discovered the White Mountains in 2006 while taking part in the annual Tour of the White Mountains event as a warm up for the 24 Hours of Moab. He became an instant fan. “The singletrack there is very good, well laid out, with the right mix of technical bits and flowing fast sections,” Bontrager said. “Almost all of it is in the trees, too. There are climbs but they are not killers like the Alps. And the system is so big, so there’s plenty of variety.” The way the network is laid out, riders can enjoy a quick romp around one of the shorter singletrack loops such as the classic Country Club Trail or string together multiple loops for an epic like riders enjoy during the annual Tour that captivated Bontrager. Navigation through the labyrinth of trails is easy thanks to regular markers along the way. Blue diamonds indicate main routes, green dots indicate trail connectors, yellow dots indicate a shortcut back to the trailhead and red dots denote a route to a vista. These colorful lucky charms stand out on the trees like colorful marshmallow treats in a box of monotonous oat bits. The never-failing markers and an inexpensive trail guide available at the Lakeside Ranger District headquarters means
Country Club Trail: Who’d have thought you could pack so much fun into just three and a half miles? This trail is the smoothest of the bunch and astoundingly fast. We enjoyed it so much we kept stringing together routes that would let us ride it over and over again. You’ll kick yourself in the head if you don’t take the time to ride the spur to the top of Pat Mullen Mountain. Add on the nearby Springs Trail for a longer ride. Springs Trail: The first mile of this relatively flat trail is so rocky that it’s nearly unrideable. What’s more, hungry clouds of mosquitoes near the soggy lowlands make the frustration factor climb like the nearby Blue Ridge Trail. But good things come to those who persevere: The last mile or so of this short ride will have you zigging and zagging through the trees as fast as your little legs can carry you as you gleefully move backward in time to your former childhood. Blue Ridge Trail: Locals winced when we told them we rode this as our first ride. We did so to get an objective reading of what the “difficult” designation in the trail guide really meant. The term fit—underscoring the accuracy and usefulness of the guidebook. Nevertheless, Blue Ridge was fun in a kind of spooky, if-I-lose-my-concentration-I-could-getseriously-injured kind of way. This was the only trail that gave us some navigating difficulties. Secret Trails: Rumor has it that some of the best trails in the White Mountains aren’t listed in the guides. Locals take to their secret trails for group rides at regular intervals. Sidle on up to a local rider to see if you can get hooked in or, even better, pay a visit to Cycle Mania in Show Low and strike up a conversation with owner Todd Fernau for the lowdown. 105
James Rickman C. Spaeth
Los Burros Trail is sometimes nothing more than a smooth skinny ribbon winding through the forest.
On a clear day on the Panorama Trail, you can see all the way to Flagstaff.
In some areas of the White Mountains, it’s easy to visualize what it would be like if reptiles lived on Mars. Wildlife is abundant in the White Mountains and several different species—including a thimble-sized vole—greeted us on our rides. 106
riders can spend more time enjoying the trails and less time scratching their heads over a trail map. We logged a leisurely 70 miles of riding in our first three days in Pinetop-Lakeside. Some sections of the forest ravaged by fire years ago have been reborn into the kind of roomy forest that allows a generous amount of sunlight to pass through the tree canopies and energize the forest floor. The area radiates with inspiration that seemed to bring out the better parts of our stamina and balance. Trails and forest roads are covered with pea-sized, rust-colored volcanic cinder that crunches under the tires. In other areas, sections of cruel pockmarked babyheads force you to keep hands and feet light on the bars and pedals and dance above the seat while the machine below bucks and heaves its way toward the next brief smooth section. The red cast of the soil and abundance of rock made me imagine how biking on Mars must feel. Unlike the desert portion of Arizona, the White Mountains are blessed with life-giving moisture. The mosquitoes certainly had amassed for our late-fall visit, and we took to the trails only after basting ourselves with a chemical broth of SPF 30 sunscreen and 100 percent DEET. We tested this mixture for several days under the harshest conditions of sweat and dirt, and we can attest that neither chemical affects the performance of the other when used simultaneously. Were it not for sunscreen, we would fry like bacon during the long daily rides we enjoyed, and if we had not packed the DEET, our flesh would have been as raw and bumpy as some of the sections of trail we mastered. Any breather we took out in the wide-open expanses of trees brought clouds of mosquitoes that hovered just out of range of the DEET molecules we exuded. THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE All our riding worked up a healthy appetite and a craving for trash talk over beers. Oddly enough, despite the abundance of excellent trails, there were few people of our ilk hanging out in Pinetop-Lakeside that we could regale with tales of our daily adventures. The parking lots of local lodging establishments were devoid of vehicles with bikes on the roofs or hitch racks. Instead, larger luxury vehicles dominated the terrain. As we later found out, Pinetop-Lakeside exists in the farthest corner of the time-share universe. It is a default location for resort-goers who have procrastinated in their annual vacation planning and were unable to trade up to more desirable condominiums elsewhere. Older folks who’ve given up the gumption to wheel and deal for more exotic locations find themselves marooned here for weeklong jaunts away from the city. People of this age demographic eat dinner early. Restaurants in town are standing room only from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Then the town empties out like one of those spooky hamlets where the locals engage in unspeakable rituals to guarantee a favorable harvest. At night the entire community slips into a state of comfortable emptiness beneath the twinkling heavens. SAY WHAT? Perhaps part of the reason Pinetop-Lakeside has remained in abject isolation is that no one’s anxious to talk about it. When we approached a local business leader to gather some
basic information about the community and region, the business leader squirmed uncomfortably in front of us and suddenly unleashed a heavy downpour of sweat—as if we were a 60 Minutes crew intent on uncovering some sweeping scandal. The executive twitched like a trapped animal while answering the handful of softball questions we tossed out, so we quickly called off the interview fearing for her well-being. A town so calm didn’t need that kind of stress. “What on Earth do you suppose that was all about?” my companion asked as we exited the office into the parking lot. I had no idea. “Maybe she had to poop,” was the best I could offer. We turned to the Lakeside Ranger District for answers, but we were told that key personnel were unavailable each time we showed up for a visit. Dozens of phone calls over the course of six months went unreturned as well. But not everyone seems intent on preserving PinetopLakeside’s inauspicious character. Next to a dirt lot off of Highway 260, the Kabuki Japanese restaurant is a stark contrast to the mom-and-pop sandwich shops and gingham-laced greasy spoons dominating the community’s culinary landscape. If you eat nowhere else, the Kabuki is certainly worth a try, particularly if you like sushi. Chef and owner Gilles Desjardins— co-sponsor of the original Good Will Games and the man responsible for bringing Japan’s Kabuki Ballet to America for its premier performance—serves up a literal schooner of primo raw fish as dinner for two along with other traditional Japanese fare. Stumbling upon the Kabuki was like accidentally finding an arrowhead in an expanse of desert pebbles. We were thrilled yet not quite ready to accept that it was real. Why sushi? Why here? We wondered. Desjardins explained that many of Pinetop-Lakeside’s residents had done missionary work in Japan, providing an inherent demand for sushi, tempura and 31 types of sake. NO ESCAPING PROGRESS The fact that a French-Canadian restaurateur would pull up stakes and relocate to tiny Pinetop-Lakeside perhaps signals that big things are on the horizon for the White Mountains. New development is booming in nearby Show Low, said Todd Fernau, owner of Cycle Mania, the area’s only bike shop. People are moving in to get in on the ground floor of a life away from the city. Nevertheless, more and more “city” is moving into the area in the form of fast-food restaurants and ubiquitous big-box stores. This year TRACKS is in the process of connecting the west side of the trail system with the east side, making Show Low— and new housing development Show Low Bluffs—the new epicenter of the system. Show Low Bluffs, now a co-sponsor of the Tour of the White Mountains event, is promising buyers a development in which residents can access trail systems from their front doors or from green areas situated just down the block. With modernization in full swing just a stone’s throw away, it’s probably only a matter of time before someone tilts back the bell jar and peers into Pinetop-Lakeside looking for opportunity. While some may rejoice at such a thing, it would almost be a shame to see the area become a real mountain biking Mecca. There is, after all, a certain endearing strangeness to riding in Arizona’s White Mountains.
The Pinetop-Lakeside Lowdown Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce—Avail yourself of racks of local information and free Wi-Fi access at this friendly fixture located smack-dab in the middle of town. 102-C W. White Mountain Blvd. (Highway 260); 1.800.573.4031 or 928.367.4290; www.pinetoplakesidechamber.com Cycle Mania—The area’s only bike shop is located in Show Low, the emerging epicenter of the White Mountain Trail System; 100 N. White Mountain Rd., #101; 928.537.8812 Kabuki, a Japanese Restaurant—This ain’t some redneck dumping frozen shrimp into a pan of Bisquick and calling it tempura or carving up a couple of Gorton’s frozen fish patties and serving it as sushi. Owners Gilles and Barbara Dejardins offer fine cuisine, a great selection of sake and great atmosphere. Kabuki’s specialties are sushi, tempura and teppanyaki (you know, that crazy thing where chefs prepare meals on a grill at tableside using fire and fanfare to entertain and satiate diners); 814 E. White Mountain Blvd.; 928.367.2167 El Rancho Restaurant—As people who come from the home of good Mexican food, we often shy away from restaurants offering tastes from south of the border. While some diners muttered that the food was too spicy, our Southwestern tongues found it mild and well prepared. The margaritas had a good kick to them, too; 1523 E. White Mountain Blvd.; 928.367.4557 Coffee Hut Café—Good food and caffeinated beverages in a low-key atmosphere. This place never seemed overrun by tourists like the rest of the local eateries; 485 E. White Mountain Blvd.; 928.367.9977 Red Devil Pizza—The name frightened us at first, giving us visions of pitchforks and fiery esophageal eruptions. But the food at this Italian restaurant was actually very good. The pizza was outstanding. It was a haven for the old folks, so try to get there right at 5 p.m. or after 6:30 p.m.; 1774 E. White Mountain Blvd.; 928.367.5570 Mogollon Rim Overlook—You won’t really appreciate where you are until you’ve hiked the easy one-mile loop trail and stared out over the end of the Colorado Plateau. The Overlook is located two miles north of Pinetop-Lakeside on Highway 260 between Camp Tatiyee and Camp Grace. Pinetop-Lakeside Festivals—The community holds several festivals each year: 21st Annual Native American Festival, July 12-13, 2008; 18th Annual White Mountain Bluegrass Musical Festival, Aug. 9-10, 2008; 33rd Annual Fall Artisan’s Festival, Sept. 26-28, 2008; www.pinetoplakesidechamber.com TRACKS—A 20-year labor of love by the seemingly hardestworking volunteer trail group in the American West is responsible for the White Mountain’s fantastic trail system. Praise them! www.tracks-pinetop-lakeside.org 13th Annual Tour of the White Mountains—This annual event brought to you by the folks at Epic Rides features 10-mile, 35mile, 41-mile, 52-mile and 66-mile offerings that showcase the best parts of the White Mountain Trail System. Scheduled this year for Oct. 4, 2008. www.epicrides.com/towm/towm.htm
PurE funâ€Ś simple life. Rob Strickland
This summer recharge in our bike friendly communities! Crested Butte, home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame is known for its great alpine single track riding. Hartman Rocks in Gunnison gives you a taste of granite slick rock and high quality buff single track that goes on for miles, and miles and miles...if you are looking for a weekend get away or a lifetime of trail riding see for yourself why we believe we are the mountain biking mecca.
Photos, video, information and FREE brochures at GunnisonCrestedButte.com or call 877-369-7635
It’s more than just where to ride. It’s the very soul of the Rocky Mountain cycling culture. It’s the people who make up our sport, it’s the place to drink a beer, it’s the place that takes care of your bike. The advocates, the racers, the riders and the businesses who support us all in doing what we love, that’s the cycling community.
C-Andrew Wilz Photo
gunnison valley colorado
Must Do The Crested Butte Classic (see Events below)
Local Information Center •Lodging, Camping, Events, Festivals, etc., go to www.ColoradoMountainBiking.info or call 800.814.7988
Guidebooks and Trail Maps •Mountain Bike Crested Butte Singletrack by Holly Annala Hartman Rocks Trail Map by David Kozlowski Local Cycling Clubs and Club Rides •Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA), firstname.lastname@example.org •Gunnison Valley Bicycle Club, email@example.com Weekly Rides, Crested Butte •Club Road Ride, Tuesday evenings (summer), 5:30 p.m. Ask at the Alpineer, 970.349.5210 Weekly Rides, Gunnison •Club Road Ride, Wednesday evenings (summer), 5:30 p.m. at the TuneUp Bike Shop, 222 N. Main Street •Weekly Women’s MTB ride, Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., leaving from Hartman Rocks’ main parking lot Local Attractions •Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum, 331 Elk Ave., Crested Butte, 970.349.1880, www.mtnbikehalloffame.com 110
Events •Gunnison-Crested Butte 2008 Community Calendar, www.gcbCALENDAR.com •Fat Tire Bike Week, June 2007, www.ftbw.com •4th Annual Crested Butte Classic, July 2008, no entry fee, no prizes, firstname.lastname@example.org •5th Annual 24 Hours in the Sage, Aug. 2008, www.24hoursinthesage.com •Pinnacle Series, Thursday Evening Mountain Bike Series, July to Aug. 2008, www.ridecb.com •Gunnison Growler Series, Nine-race local mountain bike series, June to Sept. 2008, www.gunnisontrails.com
In a peaceful moment of glory and suffering, Dave Ochs competes in the 2007 Crested Butte Classic, a race he co-founded.
DaveOchs - Just Wants to Ride Frenetic is a word that one could use to describe Crested Butte bike enthusiast Dave Ochs (pronounced Ox), though one word hardly comes close to explaining the energy and passion Ochs has for biking. One glaring example of Ochs’ “stoke” to ride bikes is seeing him this past March on his road bike on Highway 135 as carloads of skiers and snowboarders are driving past him. While they’re on their way back from yet another great day during what turned out to be a record snow year, Ochs is spinning and looking forward to the upcoming bike season. “It’s so unbelievable how bad I want to get out and ride,” says Ochs. “It seems like it’s getting worse and worse.” Ochs grew up, reluctantly, in New
Jersey but moved to New Hampshire and immersed himself in as much as the Northeast had to offer. “I did a Henry David Thoreau stint on a lake in New Hampshire,” says Ochs. After hiking trails in and around the Northeast, Ochs got a mountain bike and started riding, eventually racing twice in New Hampshire before looking west. “I realized I needed bigger and wanted more,” says Ochs. With a Parks pass in hand, Ochs hit the road touring throughout Montana, Wyoming, Utah and with his Colorado destination unknown. It was during the trip that he heeded the words of a woman who told him to check out Crested Butte.
“I was on Highway 50 and saw the sign for Crested Butte,” explains Ochs. “I turned left and never left.” Ironically, during Och’s first weekend in Crested Butte, the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) was hosting a trail workday constructing Tony’s Trail. That introduction soon lured Ochs into taking a more active role locally as he soon joined CBMBA and he is currently the association’s secretary. Ochs admits one of his reasons for getting involved is cliché but another is to continue to create more opportunities to do what he loves, riding trails. “I wanted to give back,” says Ochs. “I wanted to build trails. I loved the history and I wanted to get in.” He maintains his optimism about the local trail system but fears the current attitude that governmental forces, that is, the Forest Service, appears to be taking towards mountain bikes. “I think there is good stuff going on,” says Ochs. “It comes down to travel management. I’m terrified because of the classification mountain bikes are getting. They put us and motorized in the same use
categories.” Ochs involvement in the local biking community includes the creation of the CB Classic, a “fun ride” he and Chad Oleson concocted five years ago during a road trip to ride in Fruita one February. The CB Classic connects 100 miles of local singletrack and remains grassroots, allowing riders who participate to ride at their own pace, whether that be hammering or riding while enjoying the community and a couple cold ones. In addition, he’s a member of Team Brick Oven/Crested Butte Builders, a locally sponsored bike racing team that competes at events throughout the Southwest. He admits that this past winter has been tough, pushing back the riding season for him longer than ever before. He didn’t get on his bike until March when he finally got a road ride in. Yet, while there are plenty of other places in the country with much longer riding seasons, Crested Butte is home. “I looked but realized that other places just aren’t CB,” explains Ochs. “I’ll suffer here even if I have to drive to Fruita.” He maintains his stoke downing four shots of espresso and is rejuvenated as the dark of winter subsides giving way to more daylight. Ochs is a designer/CAD operator to help cover the costs of riding as well as his subsequent collection of bikes that continues to grow. “I draw shit. Everything from remodels to custom home design,” says Ochs. He has surrounded himself with seven bikes with one more on the way. He has everything from a full-suspension Lenz Sport Leviathan mountain bike to a Willits fixed gear as well as a tandem. He struggles to say which one is his favorite though he does know for sure that 29-inch wheels are the only way to go. “I won’t allow a 26-inch wheel in the house,” says Ochs. “I’m trying to put 29-inch wheels on my ’88 Honda although it’s not really working out.” With one race under his belt so far this season, some road miles and road trips to Fruita already done, Ochs is on the cusp of a short but another sweet season of riding. Ultimately, it’s all about getting out with friends and riding, racing or not, and sitting around talking about it. “Getting people together sitting around in the parking lot, talking about the times you have riding,” says Ochs, “I live for that.” –Than Acuff 112
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steamboat springs colorado
Must Do •Buffalo Pass, Scots Run and Hot Springs trails
Events •Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series, open to kids and adults and held every other week in May through August, each race followed by a post-race party, www.steamboat-chamber.com •The Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat, June 2008, www.rockypeakproductions.com •Kent Eriksen Cycles Tour de Steamboat, Aug. 2008, www.rockypeakproductions.com Local Clubs and Club Rides •Routt County Riders Bicycle Club, www.routtcountyriders.org •Tuesday night rides, meet weekly 5:30 p.m. at Orange Peel Bike Shop, down town at the corner of 12th Street and Yampa Ave., Contact Barkley Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org Guidebooks •Mountain Biking In the High Country of Steamboat Springs, Colo., by Tom Litteral •Steamboat Singletracks: The Mountain Bike Guide to Steamboat Springs, Colo., by Tom Barnhart Local Attractions •Old Town Hot Springs, www.sshra.org Yampa Valley Botanic Park, www.yampavalley.info •Main Street Farmers Market, Every Saturday, June 14 to Aug. 30 •Kent Eriksen Cycles, Handcrafted in Steamboat, www.kenteriksen.com •Moots Cycles, www.moots.com
Local Information and Lodging •Steamboat Chamber of Commerce, www.steamboat-chamber.com, 970.638.4239 General Information, www.steamboatsprings.net
Amy DeCastro takes a break from welding at the Moots factory in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
AmyDeCastro - Breaking the Mold Overlooking the floor of the Moots factory from the second story kitchen window, Amy Decastro sits on a stool, legs crossed at the ankle, cradling a cup of raspberry tea in her hands. “Welder” conjures up an image of some blue-collar sinewy stud, not a “girly girl,” as Decastro describes herself. Dressed comfortably from her camouflage beanie capping her long brown hair to her well-worn moccasins, Decastro looks more like one of the resort town’s wait staff than someone working in a factory. Then again, she did attend culinary school and spent 10 years in the restaurant industry before seeking employment in a healthier environment. “I liked cycling and I wanted to be around people who were interested in having a healthy lifestyle,” Decastro said when asked why she came to work for Moots. Although many residents in Steamboat Springs say they moved there for the healthy lifestyle, only a lucky few can claim to work in a place that produces a product capable of bettering one’s health. Decastro knows how special this is. “I really like the sensation of making something that’s going to make someone healthier and happier, and I like being
around other people who appreciate that same happiness,” Decastro said. Decastro moved to Steamboat Springs from Westport, Mass., in 2002 and took a job baking at Winona’s, a restaurant renowned for its oversized cinnamon rolls. In August 2006, Decastro left fulltime baking for the office manager position at Moots. After 14 months, a parttime welding position opened up and Decastro inquired. Moots welder Brad Bingham encouraged her to feel it out. Decastro started playing with scrap and became interested enough to take a weekend seminar on basic welding at United Bicycle Institute (UBI) in Ashland, Ore. By the end of the month she moved downstairs full-time. Making the transition from office manager to welder came more naturally for Decastro than one might expect. She was surprised to find that welding bikes and wedding cakes have a few things in common. Both baking and welding combine ingredients and processes in different sequences to create different products, Decastro explained. What surprised her the most was that the hand movement for welding is similar to that required for the piping work on frosting cakes. “It feels comfortable to me and it is a
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comfort to have something that seems natural when everything else is so foreign,” she said. Decastro believes creating wedding cakes and bikes are equally important in life. Wedding cakes, just like a Moots bike, are custom built to the specifications of the recipient. Both are very personal, and both make people happy. Though what she likes about welding is that she’s helping create something more permanent. “It doesn’t go bad, it doesn’t rot and if you have it in the car with you and slam on your brakes it doesn’t smash in a million pieces” Decastro said. (It’s happened once or twice.)
With TIG welder in hand, Amy DeCastro makes welding ti look as easy as decorating a cake, something she knows a little about, too. 116
I really like the sensation of making something that’s going to make someone healthier and happier In its 26-year existence, Moots has created a high standard for itself. Decastro admires this high level of respect and the enjoyment for what they do. “The main philosophy is take your time, do it right, make it perfect. But also that it’s a bike, it’s supposed to be fun. You’re perfecting funness!” Decastro laughs. Decastro doesn’t mind being the only girl on the floor since she grew up the only daughter on a farm. In fact, it feels natural. Surrounded by heavy equipment and tools, Decastro recalls her brothers building bikes out of their over-sized garage. Now she’s the one building bikes. “Any girl can do what any guy can do,” Decastro said. Decastro encourages other girls and women to break through barriers and just go for it. “Even if you are a powder puff, if there’s something you want to do, and it’s a guydominated field, who cares,” Decastro said. “There are plenty of guys who are happy to have you there.” That doesn’t mean there won’t be any teasing. Not only can Decastro can take a little banter from the boys, she’s often the instigator. She also points out that in spite of the shenanigans there are no slackers. “We can’t afford any,” Decastro said. “The work is challenging and humor helps break it up.” They are perfecting funness after all. –Riley Polumbus
cycling community durango colorado Must Do •The Rally of the Dead (see Events below)
General Information •Durango information, www.durango.org •Lodging (central reservations): 800.409.7295
The regular crew assembles for another round of Sunday afternoon bike polo in Durango, Colo.
AnyGivenSunday - Bicycle Polo On any given Sunday in Durango, Colo., you’ll find a group of devoted individuals playing a game that has become increasingly popular throughout the United States and the world: bicycle polo. From bike messengers and commuters to mountain bikers and nine-to-fivers, you’ll find a match being played in almost every major U.S city. The origin of bicycle polo dates back more than 100 years. History says an Irish cyclist named Richard J. Mecredy invented the sport in the late 1800s. The roots of the game arose from equestrian polo, an expensive and elitist sport most people couldn’t afford at the time. With the invention of the bicycle, polo became affordable, and the sport was eventually demonstrated in the 1908 Olympic Games in London, with Ireland beating Germany for the gold medal. Unlike horseback-mounted polo, bike polo is inexpensive and easy to learn. Anyone with a bike and a mallet can play. You probably want to use a cheap bike because the inevitable collisions could break spokes and taco wheels. Reckless riding is not encouraged but neither is it avoidable. In Durango, most players use a singlespeed mountain bike; many are simply garage bikes or “klunkers.” The mallets for bicycle polo are homemade, created
from ski pole shafts, PVC tubing and a few bolts—although mail-order manufacturers make mallets for $65 if you aren’t mechanically inclined or if you feel like wasting money. Although the bicycle version of polo is more similar to field hockey than horse polo, the rules vary and change in each town, group or field. The Durango rules are simple: keep the ball in play and avoid placing your feet on the ground, also known as dabbing. Anyone caught dabbing must pedal backwards a full revolution before touching the ball again. The first team to score five goals, or whoever has the most goals when the pre-determined time runs out, wins. While most urban players choose concrete playing surfaces such as tennis courts and basketball courts, Durango plays its bike polo games on grass at elementary school fields or at one of the many public parks. To play the game, two cones are set up a bike’s length apart on each side of the playing field, marking the goals. The ball is placed in the middle of the field while the two teams wait at their own goal line for the start. Once the game starts, the teams sprint to get to the ball first. The game requires serious bike-handling skills and good physical fitness. Direction of play constantly changes, and
Events •Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, May 2008, www.ironhorsebicycleclassic.com •The Colorado Trail Jamboree, July 2008, www.ctjamboree.com •Durango MTB 100, Aug. 2008, www.gravityplay.com •Road Apple Rally, Farmington, N.M., Oct. 2008, www.roadapplerally.com •Rally of the Dead, Oct. 2008, subversive singlespeed fest, ask around for info (Hint: Durango Cyclery would know.) Guidebooks and Maps •Mountain Biking Colorado’s La Platas by Derek Ryter •Mountain Biking Durango by John Peel •Mountain Biking Colorado’s San Juan •Mountains by Robert Hurst Local Club •Durango Wheel Club, club rides Tuesday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, April through October. Four categories (A, B+, B, and C) so everyone can enjoy. See website for very complete schedule, www.durangowheelclub.com Advocacy •Trails 2000, working to enhance all types of trails for every trail user group, www.trails2000.org or 970.259.4682 Local Attractions •Mesa Verde National Park, www.visitmesaverde.com •Durango Silverton Railroad, www.durangotrain.com
Bailey directed the film with Cheeney, Robin Guillaume, Scott Shishim, Brenden Schaefer, Brenden Vahey, Jake Armstrong and Steve “Dr. Doom” Fassbinder, all diehard locals who play the game weekly. The film features the “team” going to play its first out-of-town challengers and includes numerous amusing moments, especially the candid interviews. Rumor has it that Mallethead is also going to be featured in 2008’s Mountainfilm in Telluride, a prestigious and highly regarded event held May 23–26. Bicycle polo is here to stay and gets increasingly popular every year. Official leagues are forming, such as the American Bicycle Polo Association and others. International teams play in tournaments across Europe, Asia, and the United States and beyond. So if you enjoy hand-to-eye coordination sports, getting lots of exercise and friendly competition, start a league of your own. Or come to Durango and play with some of the best. The local crew welcomes all takers. –Darren Dencklau
foot-to-ground contact is illegal, keeping the level of play quite aerobic. Turnovers are constant, much like American soccer or hockey. The trick is to play the action, not necessarily the ball. Longtime players like Chad “Chainsaw” Cheeney can fool opposing players by bouncing the ball while keeping it in control, keeping it away from wouldbe stealers. Other players master the “between the frame and wheel pass” and other specialized moves. In Durango, you can expect most game days to end with a few beers and a bona fide Durango trashtalking session. Bike polo tournaments in Durango are also part of Passion Production’s annual “Rally of the Dead,” a singlespeed mountain bike stage race now in its third year, which has turned more folks onto the sport, including myself. A documentary, entitled “Mallethead,” was premiered last fall at the famed Smiley Building and received so many accolades it was featured in 2007’s Durango Independent Film Festival. Local cyclist Jon
(Top) Developing one-handed steering is imperative for controlling the ball and, as you can see in this picture, it’s good for pulling off a good ol’ “deek” on a defenseman. (Bottom) Chaos and blocking in the backstretch opens up a corridor for a quick drive to the goal. 118
call us for a
970.247.4066 949 Main Avenue Durango, Colorado www.mountainbikespecialists.com 119
cycling community los alamos new mexico Must Do •Mountain Bike Ride: Quemazon Trail to Guaje Ridge Trail •Road Ride: New Mexico State Highway 4 into the Jemez Mountains past the Valles Caldera (out and back)
Guidebooks and Trail Maps •Los Alamos Trails by Craig Martin, available at local bookstores •Local trail maps available at Otowi Station Bookstore, 1350 Central Ave. and online at www.losalamos.com Local Cycling Club •Tuff Riders Bike Club, Club members eager to show visitors extensive local trail system, Weekly summer rides, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., meet at Sullivan Field, www.tuffriders.losalamos.com Local Attractions •Bradbury Science Museum, 15th Street and Central Ave., Los Alamos •Los Alamos Historic Museum, Fuller Lodge: Atomic history •Pajarito Ski Area, www.skipajarito.com •Bandelier National Monument: Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings •Valles Caldera National Preserve, www.vallescaldera.gov
Cleared for takeoff, the privately owned Pajarito Mountain is open to cyclists looking for a little airtime.
PajaritoMountain - The Secret is Out Pajarito Mountain used to be the best-kept secret in New Mexico skiing. But this summer the mountain is coming in from the cold with an expanded season of bike riding. For the first time, Pajarito Mountain will offer lift service on Saturday and Sunday one weekend a month throughout the season, while continuing to offer Saturday lift service for a second weekend each month. Previously, the ski area only offered summer lift service two Saturdays each month. “The whole impetus behind this is that we have this beautiful facility up here, really close to Los Alamos, and it just sat here all summer long,” said Tom Long, Pajarito’s general manager. “We’re really hoping that people will want to come and spend the weekend enjoying our great trails.” With Camp May just a stone’s throw away from Pajarito’s Aspen lift—the summer express route to the top of the mountain—riders can enjoy a day of fine riding and then kick back at Camp May campground for the night. Pajarito offers a full complement of cross-country, freeride and downhill trails crisscrossing the mountain, though none is easy. The mountain’s 1,200 vertical feet ensure that the trip to the bottom is fast— like an Apollo capsule during reentry.
Riders on Pajarito Mountain enjoy the luxury of lift access to the ski area’s freeride trails.
Events •Pajarito Ski Area lift operates for cyclists, June-Sept., www.skipajarito.com •35th Annual Tour de Los Alamos, July 2008, www.tourdela.home.mindspring.com •Pajarito Punishment Bike Race and Fat Tire Festival, Aug. 2008, www.losalamos.com/fattirefestival
Local Information Center •Lodging, Events, Festivals, etc., Los Alamos Meetings and Visitor Bureau, visit.losalamos.com, 800.444.0707 or 505.662.8105
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Gateway to the best cycling trails in the Jemez Mountains For reservations call 505.662.2441 or 800.462.0936 www.bwhilltop.com Mention this ad for special rates!
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“We’ve done a good job, especially with the freeride stuff,” said Long. “The feedback we’ve gotten has been tremendous.” Features include bridges, teetertotters, log rides and road gaps. For those who get in over their heads, jeep roads offer a less-difficult route to the bottom, although even some sections of jeep road are steep and loose. During the heat of summer, the mountain’s 10,400-foot peak elevation means cool temperatures can prevail, so come prepared with enough clothes and water to last the day. Word has spread about Pajarito Mountain and the trails now have a devoted fan base that isn’t restricted only to locals. “We’re getting people up from Albuquerque on a regular basis,” Long said. “We also get people coming from Durango and southern Colorado. I guess I’m a little surprised, but we’re thrilled to have them.” The daily summer lift fee is $20—a bargain for the amount of fun possible. But this year regular riders can buy a summer lift pass for $80 that is good for any or all of the 13 lift days available this year. A summer pass or day pass must be purchased by anyone (including hikers) riding the lifts. However, there is no charge to hike or ride to the top of the mountain any day during the summer. New this year, the Pajarito Mountain Café, located inside the ski lodge, will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as on all lift days all summer long. “We’re really working to make Pajarito a year-round place to recreate,” said Business Manager Don Sauer. To that end, Pajarito Mountain is sponsoring this year’s Pajarito Punishment mountain bike race, the eighth event in the New Mexico Off-Road Series, on Aug. 9. The race, beginning and ending at the ski area, promises to live up to its name. The 2008 biking season runs from June 7 through September 27. Lifts begin running at 9 a.m. For more information about the Pajarito Mountain trails and lift schedule, visit the Pajarito website at www.skipajarito.com or call 505.662.5725. For information about the Pajarito Punishment race, visit www.nmors.org. – J. Rickman
Swimming Golf Running and Cycling Eventsâ€”including the 34th Annual Triathlon
Dance Volleyball Tournament
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Visit our web site for a complete schedule with dates and locations of exciting summer activities!
Recreation for the Health of it!
Focusing on a sticky landing, a rider wheelies off a teeter-totter ramp, one part of Pajarito Mountainâ€™s terrain features. 123
Summer Activities Schedule SPECIAL EVENTS
Saturday June 7 Saturday June 21 Sunday June 22
Saturday July 12 Saturday July 19 Sunday July 20
Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday
Aug 2 Aug 16 Aug 17 Aug 30
Saturday Sep 13 Sunday Sep 14 Saturday Sep 27
BIKE/HIKE Chairlift access to mountain bike trails is available on these dates. Camp out at Camp May when Bike/Hike is all weekend!
Summerfest June 7 Gordonâ€™s Main Street Concert* July 18 Ullr Fest September 27
Pajarito Trail Runs Festival-Running Event* October 11 *No chairlift access during these events
Pajarito Punishment Mountain Bike Race*â€“August 9 at the Ski Area! www.skipajarito.com, email@example.com 505.662.5725 Photos courtesy of Peter Dickson
cycling community lyons colorado Must Do •New Wild Turkey Trail Picture Rock Connector Trail to downtown Lyons (under construction as of press time) Local Information •Town of Lyons, 303.823.6622 Lyons Chamber of Commerce, www.lyons-colorado.com
Events •8th Annual Lyons Fat Tire Fest, May 30-31, Call Redstone Cyclery, 303.823.5810 •Rockygrass, Lyons’ bluegrass festival, July 25-27, www.bluegrass.com •Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance (BMA) trail project, Little Raven Trail, July 26, www.boa-mtb.org •BMA trail project, Brainard Lake area, Aug. 23, www.boa-mtb.org Local Cycling Club Rides •Weekly Rides, Year-round Tuesday night rides from Redstone Cyclery at 6 p.m. then to Oskar Blues Brewery for bluegrass and dinner Local Attractions •Planet Bluegrass, www.bluegrass.com •Lyons Classic Pinball, www.lyonspinball.com •Oskar Blues Brewery & Cajun Grill, Live music five days a week •Hall Ranch Open Space •Heil Valley Ranch Open Space •Rabbit Valley Open Space •Lion Gulch Trails •Fly Fishing, North & South St. Vrain River •South Creek Limited, www.southcreekltd.com Mike Clark, Custom Bamboo Flyrods, five-year waiting list
Bike Shops •Redstone Cyclery, www.redstonecyclery.com •Bitterbrush Cycles, www.bitterbrushcycles.com
Mechanic on duty, Dave Chase dials in a bike for a Redstone Cyclery customer.
DaveChase - Living the Dream in Lyons Dave Chase is officially living the dream. This one-man bike shop owner in Lyons, Colo., has found a way to do what he loves in the town he loves. It’s no small feat considering the glut of bike shops on the Front Range of the Rockies. There’s even a competing shop right in Lyons itself, which boasts a population of about 1,900. Chase has chiseled out a considerable niche for his Redstone Cyclery, primarily by being himself. An afternoon spent in the shop reveals that personal, friendly service can still win out in this world of chain stores and eBay auctions. Each customer entering his new location on Main Street adds dimension to the small store. Locals drop off repairs, riders stop in for tubes and people from Denver and Fort Collins drive an hour to shop for bikes, having heard of Chase through friends. The shop has risen up from humble beginnings. Chase and his family moved to Lyons in 2000 so he could work for Schwinn in nearby Boulder. He opened the “shop” in his garage in 2003 with $1,000 on his credit card. As word spread
about his ability with a wrench, business grew enough for him to open a 200square-foot storefront at 4th Street and Broadway in 2005. “Redstone started as a way to follow my passions and my dreams and support myself at the same time,” Chase says. Working on weekends and by appointment while he held a full-time job at Pearl Izumi’s Broomfield offices, Chase kept plugging away. Then in 2007, he reduced his Pearl Izumi hours and opened Redstone’s doors on afternoons. “I grew up with a wrench in my hand,” Chase says. “If I can’t be riding bikes, I like being in the shop working on bikes. I think working on bikes is darn near as fun as riding them.” He’s spent five years building a reputation for thorough, careful service. Bolstered by a wealth of nearby singletrack, his focus is on custom-built mountain bikes. “I leave it to other shops to sell people their first bike,” Chase says. “I want people to come to me to buy their last bike. I pay attention to detail, and my average bike sale is pretty involved. It’s
It takes hard work to build a business in a small town like Lyons, Colo., but “Death March Dave” Chase always makes time for what’s important: riding.
your bike. Let’s build it exactly the way you want it.” Chase spends hours with his customers, listening carefully to details about their riding style, favorite trails and previous bikes before guiding them in their purchases. Many customers test potential rigs on the nearby Hall Ranch trails, with a mix of rock gardens, switchbacks and flowing singletrack. His love for trails means Chase also makes time for advocacy. He partners with the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance and works on Lyons committees to foster trail access. His most recent effort helped construct a five-mile trail connecting the Hall Ranch and Heil Valley Ranch trail systems, near Boulder—a substantial step forward in a historically restrictive environment for mountain bikers. If this wasn’t enough work for a married guy with two daughters, Chase also organizes group rides Tuesday evenings from the shop, as well as the yearly Lyons Fat Tire Festival. The two-day event features guided rides and a barbeque held in his front yard.
“What I want to do is help out mountain bikers who are very passionate about the sport and help out the local community,” Chase says. “At the same time, I want to provide for my family and not have to leave Lyons. If I can make that happen, I’ve made my own personal slice of heaven.” Chase’s slice, in fact, has just gotten bigger. In April, he left the “world’s smallest bike shop” to move into his current 650-square-foot location then stopped working at Pearl Izumi to keep his shop open all day. “I’m excited to be open every day, but I’m a bit nervous, apprehensive and scared.” Chase says. “I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think it’d work, but all the same, I have a mortgage and a family to feed. I’m excited to have mornings with my kids and be able to take my five-yearold to school. She talks about it almost every day.” You can check out the shop, follow Chase’s riding adventures and learn about local riding spots by visiting www.redstonecyclery.com –Marty Caivano 127
cycling community salida colorado Must Do •Monarch Crest Trail: Stray off down some of the lesser known drainages like South Fooses, Greens or Agate Creek or follow the Colorado Trail south to Long Branch •Wood-fired pizza and microbrews at Amicas in downtown Salida
Guidebooks •Salida Singletrack by Nathan Ward, available online or at local bike shops, www.nathanward.com •Colorado Headwaters Mountain Bike Guide, free guide available at local shops, www.ColoradoHeadwaters.com Events •Salida Omnium Road Race, State Championships, July 2008, www.southcentralracing.com •Leadville Trail 100, Aug. 2008, www.leadvilletrail100.com •Fourth Annual Vapor Trail 125 Ultra Marathon, Sept. 2008, www.vaportrail125.com •Banana Belt Loop Race, Sept. 2008, www.ColoradoHeadwaters.com Local Cycling Clubs and Club Rides •SRC/Amicas Cycling Club, Group rides leave almost every day from Amicas Brewery and Pizzeria in downtown Salida, www.southcentralracing.com Local Attractions •Hot Springs in Salida and Buena Vista •Arkansas River kayaking, rafting and fishing, www.coloradoheadwaters.com •Monarch Ski Area, www.skimonarch.com
Local Information Centers •Colorado’s Headwaters of Adventure, Lodging, Camping and Recreation Info: www.coloradoheadwaters.com •Absolute Bikes, www.absolutebikes.com •Monarch Crest Shuttles, www.monarchcrest.com
South Central Racing is an advocacy club but, as demonstrated here by Angela Dammon, racing isn’t just part of the name, it’s part of the lifestyle.
SouthCentralRacing - Nourishing Community in Salida South Central Racing and its founders believe strongly in supporting and nourishing cycling and a community at the same time. The result is cyclists and community at their best, and the town of Salida is all for it. Steve Sonheim, Andy Riemenschneider and Kent Townsend set out to bring more cycling to the already bike-friendly Salida community and created SCR when they found a willing and able sponsor in Amicas, a local wood-fired pizza restaurant and brewery. In the small Colorado town, SCR supports Salida cycling events, racing and the Chaffee County Mentors, an organization dedicated to providing guidance to local youth. Since its inception, SCR has seen club membership grow to 50 riders and has expanded its portfolio to include the Salida Omnium Road Race and Going Green 100 bike tour, a non-racing cycling event that promotes healthy lifestyles for beginner to expert riders. SCR/Amica’s Cycling Club includes members of all ages and hosts
several group rides each week. To promote community support, “any SCR racer, from Cat 1 to 5, makes a commitment to volunteering, as do the other members, to receive jerseys and race entrance fees,” Sonheim says. Racers and members take on a variety of tasks like volunteering for trail work, helping with the endless demands of the Salida Omnium and Going Green 100, from running shuttles, helping with registration and manning aid stations. The club has even adopted a section of highway just outside Salida. Racers and members also assist with an annual gear swap. The profits go to purchasing and fixing unclaimed, oncestolen bikes to be donated to Chaffee County Mentors. On top of all these activities, SCR gave away helmets to any kid in Salida who needed one. SCR members are not only philanthropic but they’re also fast. Last year SCR had 110 race starts from members with a top 10 finish at the
Firecracker 50 and the Omnium’s women’s state championship road race. The Salida Omnium Road Race, held July 25-27, is a true community racing event. People line the streets for the criterium and the whole town opens its doors for the racers. Now in its fourth year and offering $10,000 cash in prizes, many racers get to enjoy a monetary reward along with the challenge of the three-day event. The Omnium last year saw 1,100 race starts and 500 racers. New this year, the Omnium will join with the State Games of the West, a multi-discipline, pseudo-Olympic regional series, along with hosting the Seniors Championship in the road race and time trial events. “The Omnium is a dream course with tons of smooth asphalt on a caliber with a national road race,” says Sonheim. Currently a Cat 1 racer in national criteriums with 16 years of experience racing on a semi pro team in Chicago, Sonheim understands the importance of a well-rounded, well-thought-out race course. The opening time trial course is rocket fast, the Weldon Creek road race is immaculately smooth and the crit in downtown Salida is exciting for spectators and racers alike. Mike Carter, a European tour racer, describes the course as, “Not one of the best races in Colorado, but in the country.” As an example of SCR’s community focus, the group added the Generation Relay during the Omnium. The Relay is a fundraiser for Chaffee County Mentors and includes a lap race on the crit course. Each team consists of an adult and a youth who use the same bike. The winning team gets a season pass at Monarch Mountain Ski Area and bragging rights for a year. “The coolest part was during the crit and the Gen Race coming up and watching the excitement,” says Sonheim. “It had a life of its own. It was gratifying to watch a community of people take over and do the event.” As SCR has grown, the group has also expanded their biking reach with the Going Green 100, to be held Aug. 9-10. The mission of the Going Green 100 is to use cycling to promote healthy living. The first year saw 75 riders bump up to 150 in 2007, and 400 are expected in 2008. The tour is a beautiful ride below the Sawatch Range topping out on Cottonwood Pass with plenty of aid
stations along the route. This year’s event will have workshops and seminars on healthy living with a locally grown and produced lunch. To read more about SCR, go to the website Southcentralracing.com –Phillip Benningfield
High Valley Center
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cycling community taos new mexico Must Do •South Boundary Trail •Mango Chicken Enchiladas at the Apple Tree Restaurant
Bike Shops •Gearing Up Bicycle Shop, 505.751.0365, www.gearingupbikes.com •Taos Cyclery, 505.758.5551, www.taoscyclery.com Events •Taos Alpine Classic, Taos Ski Valley, Aug. 2008, www.alpineclassic.org •Enchanted Circle Century, Red River, N.M., Sept. 2008, 800.348.6444 •Frazer Mountain Madness, Taos Ski Valley, Sept. 2008, www.frazermountainmadness.com •Cerro Vista Mountain Bike Challenge, 50K and 100K races, Angel Fire Resort, July 2008, www.angelfireresort.com, 505.377.4316 •Tour of Taos Country, 80-mile off road adventure, Sept. 2008, www.taoscyclery.com •Double Boundary Trail ultraendurance race, New Mexico Endurance Series, Sept. 2008, www.nmes.wordpress.com Local Cycling Clubs and Club Rides •Taos Cycle Club, Weekly and month ly group rides, check website for schedule, www.taoscycleclub.com Guidebooks and Trail Maps •Available at local bike shops or online booksellers: •Falcon Guide: Mountain Biking Northern New Mexico Local Attractions •Taos Pueblo Historic Site, www.taospueblo.com •Taos Art Museum, www.taosartmuseum.org 130
Photo Courtesy Northside at Taos Ski Valley
Local Information Center •Lodging, Camping, Events, Festivals, etc., go to Taos Vacation Guide, www.taosvacationguide.com, www.taosguide.com •Camping info, Carson National Forest, 505.758.6200 •Campsites and RV parks, www.taoslink.com/html/activities/ camping
With the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a backdrop, riders cruise the Overlook Trail at Northside at Taos Ski Valley.
Northside - More Biking for Taos Thanks to Northside at Taos Ski Valley, mountain biking has found its home in this alpine oasis of northern New Mexico. Northside at Taos Ski Valley is a privately owned ski area located adjacent to the famous Taos Ski Valley. Although the town of Taos and surrounding areas offer spectacular rides, Taos Ski Valley was sorely lacking in ride options—or, more precisely, legal ones. Biking is off-limits on all public lands leased by the ski area. Now Taos mountain bikers don’t have to go far to ride. Northside is offering daily, weekly and seasonal permits for mountain bikers and hikers to access their network of fire roads and singletrack trails. The 1,300-acre parcel of land encompassing 12,163-foot Frazer Mountain offers 2,800 vertical feet of guided backcountry skiing and 25 miles of trails for summer recreation. “It is very exciting to open a wonderful network of old roads and singletrack to mountain bikers where previously these trails were off-limits to the public,” says Kerrie Pattison, who is working with her husband, Roger Pattison, to add trails there. “The views from Northside are amazing and looking at the Village below from the Overlook Trail is breathtaking. The highest point on the property is Frazer
Mountain at 12,163 feet. From there Wheeler Peak, the highest spot in New Mexico, is only a mile away and 1,000 feet higher.” Northside at Taos Ski Valley is the Pattisons’ effort to bring year-round recreation to the Pattison Land Trust. The land has been in the family for years. Orville Pattison purchased the Northside land in 1945 as a family escape from the summer heat on his eastern New Mexico farm. When Ernie Blake came along 10 years later to found the Taos Ski Valley, he considered setting up shop on Pattison’s land before negotiating a lease on adjacent public lands. Orville’s grandson Roger and Kerrie spearheaded the transformation from family retreat to four-season recreational area. To get trails on the land, the Pattisons enlisted Christof Brownell’s assistance and spent seven years exploring options for ski runs and bike trails. They began thinning, grooming and shaping a trail network to accommodate their vision. Also on tap are guided horseback rides and backcountry ski and snowboard trips. Taos Ski Valley already has a well-earned reputation for challenging, no-frills ski runs. The terrain at Northside is similar, but the focus is on more secluded experiences for the clientele.
Photo Courtesy Northside at Taos Ski Valley
“Our niche is guided backcountry powder skiing and snowboarding,” says Kerrie. “We promise our customers a full day of fresh powder turns with a great lunch. Unlike a large ski area, we won’t take guests unless we can guarantee them powder runs all day. Our ‘lifts’ are wide-track snowmobiles pulling a specially built passenger sleigh. We decided to start out using quicker, more agile snowmobiles rather than a larger sno-cat transport so everyone will get more runs. Besides, the sleigh ride is a blast.”
Michael McCalla won the 5.5-mile 2007 Frazier Mountain Hill Climb in a record time of 49 minutes, 47 seconds. The annual climb starts at 9,300 feet and tops out at 12,163 feet.
To support the burgeoning mountain bike scene in Taos Ski Valley, Northside began promoting Frazer Mountain Madness in 2004. The event consists of a lung-busting hill climb, which ascends 2,800 feet in 5.5 miles predominantly on fire roads, and a beautiful cross-country course. The generous prize list has an added incentive for climbing specialists: break the hill climb record and bring home a bundle of cash. Current marks are held by Mike McCalla (49:47) and Caroline Colonna (1:09.07), both set in 2007. Frazer Mountain Madness was held in September for its first three editions, but the promoters moved it to July to better fit in with the New Mexico Off-Road Series and for more reliable weather. The 2006 event will be forever etched in participant memories, mine included; the two feet of snow that fell on the higher elevations of the course the night before the race definitely made for a race unlike any other. “The cross-country course is a mix of jeep roads, old grassed-over logging and mining roads and singletrack trails,” says Pattison. “It’s all in the pine forest with aspen groves and wildflowers and grassy meadows and great views. We continue to add more singletrack and do our best to make every lap of the cross-country event a bit different for the riders to keep it more interesting.” To learn more about summer and winter activities, visit RideNorthside.com, and go to FrazerMountainMadness.com for information about the race. Mountain biking and hiking access passes are available via RideNorthside.com, at all area bike and outdoor shops and through most Taos Ski Valley lodging establishments. –Josh Liberles
4 Downtown Taos Location 4 Demo and Rental Bikes 4 Clothing and Accessories 4 Year-round Pro Service 4 Trail Info and Group rides
129 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos NM 505.751.03654gearingupbikes.com 131
cycling community santa fe new mexico Must Do •Winsor Trail and Dale Ball Trails •Breakfast at Pasquals (if you don’t mind waiting) Local Information Center •Visitor info, www.santafe.org, 800.984.9984 •Camping info, Hyde Memorial State Park, www.gosantafe.com, 505.758.6200 Regional Cycling Calendar •Santa Fe Big Friggin’ Loop, 70-mile mountain bike race, July 2008, •New Mexico Endurance Series, www.nmes.wordpress.com •Prison Loop Road Race, July 2008, www.nmcycling.org •Santa Fe Hill Climb, Aug. 2008, www.nmcycling.org •Bike-A-Go-Go, women’s bike expo, Oct. 2008, www.pedalqueens.com Guidebooks and Trail Maps Available at local bike shops or online booksellers: •Falcon Guide: Mountain Biking Northern New Mexico •The Pathfinder: A Complete Guide to Mountain Biking, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos and Northern New Mexico Local Cycling Clubs and Club Rides •Pedal Queens Women’s Cycling Club: full calendar of rides at www.pedalqueens.com •Other state bike clubs and scheduled group rides, www.nmcycling.org •Tuesday evening rides, Mellow Velo, www.mellowbike.com •Weekly group rides, New Mexico Bike N Sport, www.nmbikensport.com Local Attractions •Santa Fe Opera, www.santafeopera.org •Shidoni Foundry and Gallery, www.shidoni.com
Jeremy Parfitt checks the spoke tension on a custom-built wheel at his shop in Santa Fe, N.M.
JeremyParfitt - Re-Inventing the Wheel As a young boy growing up near Detroit, Jeremy Parfitt loved tinkering with his bicycle. At 10, he had built his first wheel out of scraps found in his neighborhood. At 12, he could assemble an entire bicycle from parts dug out of the local bike shop trash. “People threw out a lot of great stuff, and my friends and I would ride our bikes around the neighborhood just literally picking up trash,” said Parfitt. It might come as no surprise then that Parfitt now operates the world’s only bicycle wheel and wheel parts distributorship, located in Santa Fe, N.M. Opening this one-of-a-kind business, however, came by chance. Parfitt studied the great books of the Western tradition at St. John’s College in Santa Fe. While at school, he worked as a bicycle mechanic and was particularly drawn to wheel building. After college, he helped manage a small Santa Fe bike shop, steadily building a reputation as a fine bicycle mechanic and wheel builder in town. In 2000, envisioning a high-end operation serving customers by appointment only, he set up Alchemy Bicycle Works in a 400-square foot building adjacent to his home. “My original idea was to open a clientbased business like a hair stylist or specialty car mechanic, somewhere people will go
because they know the guy who will do the work,” he said. He did bike repairs, upgrades and custom fittings and offered hand-built wheelsets. “What happened was really flattering and great in many ways,” he said. “I immediately started getting tons of new customers from Albuquerque, Los Alamos and Las Vegas, N.M.” But Parfitt was so busy that his clients were waiting four to five weeks for an appointment. “Eventually I realized I couldn’t do the work the way I wanted to. And it wasn’t practical to bring someone in to help. Most of my clients were coming to me because they wanted me to do the work,” he said. The situation caused Parfitt to reinvent himself again. This time, he focused on his forté, building custom wheelsets for individual cyclists. Making and balancing a wheel for the right application requires a skilled wheel builder. “Besides being a consummate technician, Jeremy is a true student of the art of the bicycle wheel,” said Jerry Shere, a Santa Fe bicycle racer, mechanic and client of Parfitt’s. “More than anyone I’ve ever met, he understands the physics and dynamics of the various elements that come together to produce an optimal
result for a given application.” Parfitt struggled with the fact that the major U.S. distributors did not stock the type and variety of parts necessary for custom wheel building. Hubs with low spoke counts necessary for deep carbon rims or specialty spokes and nipples in uncommon sizes were unavailable from major distributors. Parfitt was forced to go directly to smaller manufacturers such as Tune, a high-end German component maker, for many wheel parts. “The folks at Tune told me that if you want to keep buying hubs from us you have to become our U.S. distributor. That’s how I became a distributor,” he said. “It started with Tune hubs and then I started selling other wheel components to bike shops around the country.” Parfitt is now a full-time wheel parts distributor. He imports components from Germany, Taiwan and the Netherlands to sell to bike shops and custom wheel builders. He stocks Sapim, Wheelsmith and Pillar spokes. He distributes mostly high-end aluminum rims from Taiwanese companies Kinlin and Alex. He also offers custom spoke lengths and a range of spoke drillings for each rim. Parfitt’s wife, Sarah Maxwell, handles bookkeeping, inventory, ordering and customer service. About 10 percent of the Not your average bike shop tool, a Shopmaster Bridgemill (yellow apparatus in back) used for custom machining, sits idol for a moment in Alchemy Bicycle Works.
business involves building custom wheels for individual clients. Wheels retail for $800 to $1,000. Parfitt will introduce his own hub to the market this summer, and he is designing several wheel-building-specific tools, including an adjustable spoke nippler and a tool to hold bladed spokes. “Wheels are the most dynamic part of your bike. They are really important,” he said. “Good wheels on a crappy frame often make a better bike than bad wheels on a good frame.” Parfitt said that as more cyclists recognize the wheel’s importance, the market for hand-built wheels will continue to expand into a more vigorous and innovative industry. “It’s a niche that needed to be served, but it’s also something that is a really good outlet for me in many ways,” Parfitt said. “My creativity has always been about making things and modifying products to make them better. Most of the stuff I make has been focused around bikes because, for whatever reason, bikes have fascinated me all my life.” –Jill Janov Tools of the custom wheel trade: drill press, standard truing stand, torch, grinder and an assortment of spokes.
cycling community Brian Riepe
Must Do •Saloon Ride: From the top of Vail Mountain (climb it) take the Game Creek Trail into Minturn and mow down southwestern fare and cervesas at the Minturn Saloon Local Information and Lodging •Vail Vacations for the Economically Challenged, www.econovail.com
Team High Maintenance riders (l-r) Wendy Fields, Toni Axelrod and Julie Morrow muddin’ it up
GirlPower - In the Vail Valley In July 2001, novice Vail Valley mountain biker Amy Hermes rolled to the starting line of the Davos Dash, a locally famous lung-buster of a hill climb, and got a strong dose of racing’s testosteroneridden scene. “I just showed up,” Hermes recalls. “All these people were riding around, warming up. I didn’t even know that you should warm up. They all had team jerseys and rode together and looked so serious: it was intimidating.” Hermes loved the race, but she hated feeling like an outcast in the midst of the aggressive ambiance that is racing. As she raced more, Hermes reflected on the intimidating aspect of mountain biking and the idea of creating a support system for women, which would not only make the racing scene more welcoming but also encourage women to build their skills through camaraderie and mentoring. “I thought, how great would it be to have a team to get girls out there, to teach them about the sport, to give a sense of belonging at races, to help know how to race, and to say things like, ‘Hey, you ought to warm up,’” she said. Her friend India Wysong was having a similar experience, and when they put their heads together, the concept of a women’s team took shape. On a spring ride in Moab, another friend Johnny Love jokingly called Hermes and her friends “high maintenance” as they unpacked the
car. The concept had a name. In 2003, Team High Maintenance donned jazzy black and white zebra and leopard print with pink accents and rolled into the local race series shouting girl power. The inaugural 15-woman team was comprised of pros through novices and its performances gave the co-ed teams a run for their money. “Initially, THM to me was a way to design cycling kits,” Wysong mused. “Once it came into fruition, it was actually much more than that. THM was a group of women who, once bonded together, became more confident, more excited about racing and less intimidated. THM made racing fun. Getting a group of women together to play outside, sweat, share fears and talk is a great way to break down barriers.” Over the years, the kits, usually pink, have revealed a flair for fashion that has become the team’s trademark. Dudes jokingly ask if they can race for THM so they can wear the clothes. But for Hermes, looking good goes beyond the surface: “If you arrive at a race and you feel good and put together, you race better.” Today, Wysong has moved to Ketchum, Idaho, and started Team Mud Honey, www.mudhoneycycling.com, her own women’s racing team. Hermes has grown into one of the top female racers in the region, winning the women’s Colorado State Singlespeed Championship Title for
Calendar of Events •2007 Vail and Beaver Creek Mountain Challenge Bike Race Series, MTB Little League and adult races, May through August, www.vailrec.com •Ultra 100, Beaver Creek, July 2008, www.gohighline.com/ultra100 •Colorado International Cycle Classic Stage Race, Aug. 2008, www.vvf.org Clubs and Club Rides •Vail Velo, www.vailvelo.com •Moontime Bike Shop, group rides, Tuesday and Thursday road rides at 5:30 p.m., Call Frank at 970.926.4516 or visit www.moontimecyclery.com •Mountain Pedaler of Eagle, Every Wednesday night, fast rides starting at 6 p.m., typically lasting a couple hours; Tuesday night women’s mountain bike rides at 5:30 p.m., Call Charlie Brown at 970.328.3478 or visit www.mountainpedaler.com. Local Guidebooks and Maps •Latitude 40 Map: Vail and Eagle Valley Local Attractions Minturn Cellars Winery, www.minturncellars.com
THM’s influence: “It has introduced me 2007. The team is admittedly high to so many women in my community maintenance now, having evolved into a with similar interests. Many of us used to roster of 45 with three divisions. race the town series, but now we’re “There’s the town series roster,” craving bigger adventures.” Hermes explained, “which is an excellent THM is also entering new territory place for women to get their feet wet. It’s with Land Rover Roaring Fork, exclusive meant as a place to learn how to race. Of sponsor for the diversified team as part of the 15 girls on our roster, seven are a carbon neutral marketing plan. beginners, and that’s how I want it. It’s “Each girl will keep a log of time on how I grew.” Hermes commends the the bike, be it commuting or training, numerous sponsors: Howard Head, Bus Team High Maintenance founders Wysong, center, which they will submit to Land Rover,” Stop Pizza, Moontime Cyclery, Squirt and Hermes, left, topped the podium at 2007 Whiskey Hermes said. “This time translates to Lube, Dave Stevens, Laureen Hopkins Off-Road in Prescott, Ariz. dollars which LRRF will donate to two Interior Design and E-Town. conservancy trusts. It’ s a chance for THM to have deeper The second aspect of the team will race regionally in more substance and to give back to the community.” Hermes laughs. diverse arenas. “These are the seasoned racers,” Hermes said, “I hope Land Rover’ s ready; I tried to warn them how much “our tough-as-nails girls who have moved beyond the town these girls ride.” series and like to push themselves in venues like the Firecracker The last division of THM began when Hermes’ eight-year-old 50, the Leadville 100 or 24-hour races, those who like to put son piped, “Why can’t I have a team?” This led to the High themselves in the pain cave.” Maintenance in Training team comprised of 15 kids and geared THM has a good history in the pain cave, topping the podium in regional heavyweight events like 24 Hours of Moab. toward creating camaraderie and initial race experiences for children. Mountain Pedaler of Eagle, Hermes Resort Properties, They have won divisions at the Firecracker 50 and placed Darby Architects and Aqua Logic have stepped up as sponsors. respectably in the Leadville 100 and Ultra 100. “I just love this aspect of the team,” Hermes said. “There are “This year, we’re branching out; we even have a downhiller,” no expectations other than to get together and ride. I’ll register she said. Hermes has been asked to create a triathlon team. She’s the kids as juniors, and they can show up and race or not. No considering it. “If there are girls out there who want to race, pressure. We just want to nurture a love of the sport through I want to support them.” camaraderie and recognition.” –H. E. Sappenfield Julie Morrow, team member since inception, reflects on
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Recover Faster by Ken Kisiel Hops and Barley Warning: health experts will tell you that beer is not the preferred recovery beverage and consuming a cold one immediately after mountain biking can lead to dehydration and other negative health consequences. Fortunately, I am not a health expert, but an expert mountain biker who enjoys a post-ride beer. So read on. For many of us, the anticipation of a frosty, malted ale awaiting us at the end of the ride supplies the motivation to make it up that last tough climb—or to even start the ride. We look forward to the numbing effect of alcohol on our scrapes, bruises and saddle sores and the revitalizing flavor and aroma that only bitter hops and sweet malt can provide. You don’t need some physician, coach, wife or roadie friend telling you that alcohol is a diuretic and a depressant; beers make you pee and giggle, so what’s the problem? Here are some facts you’ll want to know— from an “expert.” Alcohol can cause vasodilation, the flushing of the skin with blood, which can increase heat loss in the cold. Drinking an icy cold beer will only make you colder, so plan to ride hard to heat up before you sit down with your recovery beer at the end of the trail. Or plan your route and gear wisely: finish your ride in a warm environment, have dry clothes on hand and set up your lounge chair in direct sunlight before indulging. Riders who race in the Sport Clydesdale category are genetically predisposed to being vasodilation-resistant and may drink safely in rain or snow. Next, the alcohol in beer is absorbed directly from the stomach into the blood stream. This can occur in as little as five minutes, and even faster on an empty stomach. If you are choosing to drink alcohol, doing so immediately following rigorous exercise is the most effective and economical use of beer. Plan ahead, have the beer on ice at the end of the ride and maybe hire a designated driver or limo service to take you home, lest you risk getting a BWI. As you might know, beer is a poor source of carbohydrates. A 12-ounce bottle of beer contains about 14 grams of carbohydrates compared with nearly 40 grams in a can of juice or soda. If you are considering a low-carb diet, beer is your drink of choice obviously. But if there is one thing road and mountain bike racers agree on, it’s carbo-loading. Down enough carbos and you’ll get pretty loaded. And any expert will agree: consuming carbohydrates within 15 minutes of a ride to optimize muscle glycogen replenishment is highly recommended. For optimal recovery, that’s three bottles of beers. Finally, recovery drinks can be hard to swallow, and very few establishments provide samples. Not so with beer. Fortunately there are many beers to meet a mountain biker’s needs. After copious amounts of in-depth research, we found these tasty beers really pay tribute to our sport. 138
Brewer: New Belgium Brewing Location: Fort Collins, Colo. Type: Amber Ale / Alcohol Content: 5.2%
This beer is the reliable old singlespeed cruiser with thorn-resistant rubber you can neglect for months but still gets you to the brewery in style. No suspension, no worries, sufficient alcohol content to ease the woe in this recovery beverage. Best metabolized at the recommended serving temperature of 7 degrees Celsius.
Brewer: Squatters Brew Pub Location: Salt Lake City, Utah Type: Pale Ale / Alcohol Content: 4%
Squatters Full Suspension
Excellent traditional American pale ale with a crisp floral aroma unique to dry hopped ales. If you are in a lot of pain, this beer may not soothe your agony, but it’s a great choice if you need more hop in your bunny.
Brewer: Oskar Blues Brewery Dales Pale Location: Lyons, Colo. Type: American/India Pale Ale / Alcohol Content: 6.5%
America’s first hand-canned craft beer. Even though it doesn’t have a velo-name, the can makes it convenient to carry in your pocket, bottle cage or hydropack. And it’s easy to pack out. It’s an assertive but deftly balanced beer brewed with hefty amounts of European malts and American hops.
Brewer: Boulder Beer Location: Boulder, Colo. Type: Copper Ale / Alcohol Content: 4.97%
A tough name to live up to, but what’s modest about Boulder? Caramel malt flavor is most evident is this medium-bodied ale. For those who are looking for a refreshing change from the trend of more and more hops in American beers, this recipe was first poured in 1993 and reflects a time when malt mattered.
Brewer: Flying Dog Brewery, LLC Location: Denver, Colo. Type: Golden Ale / Alcohol Content: 5%
A thirst-quenching Kolsch-style ale using imported German hops and malt. After the local pit bull-chow mix stray scares you into one more anaerobic threshold interval on your way home, a six pack of these on ice will certainly calm your nerves.