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OTB Friday

August 7th, 2010 [print] No comments

One thing I’d prefer not to get in the habit of each week:  flying over my handlebars.  As much fun as it sounds, what with the flying part and everything, it’s actually much more painful in the long run.  The problem may be that I wasn’t in the air long enough to become distracted, thereby forgetting that I was flying, missing the ground completely, and continuing to stay airborne (props if you get the reference).  As it turns out, I was very aware of my impending doom, and had little time–about .5sec–to think of anything else.

With August finally bringing some dry weather, I decided to head out to Rock Bridge State Park for a long ride after work.  I had the whole ride mapped out:  basically, taking the SMSG race course, but veering off at the top of Sinkhole trail, which I would take counter-clockwise in a complete loop back to the Boy Scout connector.  Then, at the intersection of Spring Brook and the White Connector, I’d hang a right (instead of going straight), take the cliff–side section down to the parking lot, head over Highway 163, and loop around the extended section of High Ridge Trail, in a sort of figure eight.  Back over the highway, I’d head up the nearly impossible rock garden climb section of Spring Brook, hop back on the White Connector, and finish the race course.

If you’re not familiar with Sinkhole trail, coming counter-clockwise from the top is some of the cleanest singletrack in the entire park.  It’s slightly wider than everywhere else, and since it’s up high, it’s usually dry.  It’s also slightly downhill most of the way–eventually leading to a steeper downhill section before a sharp left turn–and just windy enough to be fun, but not so much so that you have to brake for the turns.  After the sharp left-hander, you’re no longer on dirt.  The trail turns into an old, dried-out creek bed/rock garden, again on a slight downhill slope.  It’s made of larger, chunky rocks, most of which move as you roll over them, with larger, flat rocks firmly attached to the ground, sometimes covered in moss, and usually slippery.

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Categories: Cycling, MTB Tags: ,

Show-Me State Games MTB Race Canceled

July 24th, 2010 [print] No comments

Canceled

We got hit with rain the night before the mountain bike race, so park officials have canceled the race.  It sucks for me, since I’ve been planning to have this be my first race for an entire year now.  But, it also sucks for all the racers who traveled to Columbia, MO from around the state, only to have to drive back tomorrow without having had a fun race.  I guess I’ll see you all out there next year, and maybe the weather will be a little more cooperative.

I headed out there tonight–the night before the event–to see how well the trail had been cleaned up over the previous week.  The park crew did an excellent job re-routing parts of Deer Run trail that had been damaged due to fallen trees, as well as a swelling creek that has come a little too close to the edge of the trail.  I was really impressed with the effort, since they’ve apparently worked O.T. just to get everything in order; even more so considering we’ve had triple-digit heat indexes over the same time period every single day.

In the middle of my ride, I came up on the Walt’s crew as they marked the race course, and Sarah–the race commissioner–said she hoped she wasn’t putting the markers up in vain.  Twenty minutes later, the trail went extremely dark, thunder picked up in the near distance, and an out-of-town racer and I left the rest of the crew to head to our cars.  I hopped in mine literally the second a monsoon hit, flipped on the A/C, dried off, and waited for the rain to back off enough that I could see past the nose of my car.  I finally drove home at half the posted speed limit, barely able to make out the roads, disappointed that I missed what would have been my first race, but glad that I had a thrilling final practice ride.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB, News Tags: ,

SMSG MTB Race Hanging By A Thread

July 21st, 2010 [print] No comments

Per my previous post, there’s a chance the 2010 Show-Me State Games mountain bike race won’t happen if the rain doesn’t stop.  I emailed an event organizer yesterday about whether the race might be canceled or postponed, and here’s the response she gave me:

"The park folks are supposed to let me know on Sat afternoon if they are going to cancel the race.  They are a bit more lenient because they really don’t want to have to cancel it.  If it is wet there isn’t a rain date for the race, so there just won’t be a race this year. "

Mid-Missouri was hit with a huge storm on Sunday, and then another on Monday night, into Tuesday morning.  More is expected for the weekend.  I’ve been planning this race for a year, so this pretty much sucks.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB Tags: , ,

Racing, Rain and Tires

July 19th, 2010 [print] No comments

BAH!

That’s what I have to say about Missouri’s increasingly wetter July’s.  We had a nice, dry run through the latter parts of June and early July, but now the storms are here again.  Normally, I’d just be annoyed, but this time I’m getting pissed.

The Show-Me State Games MTB race is less than a week away, and the forecast is grim for race day, with a good chance of showers.  However, if it’s dry enough to race, I doubt it’ll be called off.  What this means for me is, my proven fastest tire choice has to be tossed out, and I have to prepare for sloppy conditions.

I discovered last Fall that my fastest tire set-up happened to be a skinny 1.8" Kenda Klimax Lite in the rear, with a 2.1" Nevegal up front.  The rear spins up quickly for sprints, while the front adds extra suspension (at 25psi) and better braking.  So long as I keep my ass planted in the saddle, the rear’s excellent L3R compound gives it plenty of grip, despite a lack of tread.  However, that only helps if it’s dry… which it most likely won’t be.

My options are this:  keep the current tire set-up, have less weight in the back, but less grip and braking in the mud.  Or, put on a heavier tire, lose some speed in the flat areas due to weight, but have ridiculous climbing grip.  Light weight is worthless if I’m just spinning my tire, so I’ve gone the heavier route.

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Enter, my new set-up:  the 2.1" Nevegal in the rear, with an old and proven 2.35" Kinetics Stick-E up front.  In the past, I’ve run a pair of Kinetics Stick-Es, and nothing has ever come close to the grip they offer in slick stuff, which Rock Bridge park is full of.  The braking grip of the front tire–even with my antiquated rim brakes–will just about pop your eye sockets out.  I’ve never run the Nevegal in the rear, but it seems to have performance matching the Kinetics, only at a lighter weight.  Since I have no time to order something else, this is going to have to do.

In the mean time, I’m going to pine for the old days of dry, horribly hot Missouri summers, where we’d go for weeks without rain at times.  It makes the trails more predictable, and for my first race, I could really use that.

Categories: Cycling, Missouri, MTB Tags: , , ,

650B Tire Diameter

July 10th, 2010 [print] No comments

I posted the other day a link to 650B Palace’s list of 650B-compatible 26" mountain bike frames, but that doesn’t help much if your frame isn’t on the list.

Assuming you already have a frame that isn’t listed, and all you want to know is actual measurements for various 650B tires on the market to see if you have clearance, you can check out the shared Google Doc below.  The list originally showed up on MTBR.com, but I honestly can’t remember who shared it.

Link:  https://spreadsheets.google.com/

Also, if you’re looking for a 650B-compatible fork, here’s a thread on MTBR.com that will hopefully make it easier for you:

Link:  http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=392220

26" 650B 29er Comparison

Categories: Internet Goodies, MTB, Tools Tags: , , ,

650B Compatibility

July 5th, 2010 [print] No comments

There’s a growing number of mountain bike riders out there who have chosen to keep their 26" bikes, while converting them to the new-to-MTB 650B (or 27.5") wheel size.

The advantage of 650B is that they’re larger and smoother rolling than a 26" wheel, but lighter and more agile than a 29".  This disadvantage is, it’s hard to know what current 26" bikes on the market have room inside their chainstays for the larger wheels.

Fortunately, Cracked Headtube (if that is his real name) over at 650B Palace has put together one hell of a list of 650B-compatible frames, so if you’re looking to upgrade, take a look at his list.

http://650bpalace.blogspot.com/2010/07/creating-offroad-conversion.html

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Categories: Miscellaneous, MTB Tags: , , , ,

Gary Fisher Mamba

July 4th, 2009 [print] No comments

I recently finished a new project bike.  The frame is from an ’02 Fisher Mamba, but I rebuilt it with new parts since all the old stuff was pretty much trashed.  The frame is an over-built steel model with zero rust, which is pretty surprising, considering the condition I got it in.  It’s a couple sizes too large for me, personally, so I’ll keep it around to loan out to buddies who want to ride but don’t have a bike.

The fork is an aluminum version of the Carbon Cycles eXotic carbon fiber fork I bought for my own bike last year.  It cost half a much, and is only a couple ounces heavier than the carbon version.  I won’t be able to do a review on it since I won’t be the one riding it, but I’ll report back on how well it holds up in the long run, or if any problems crop up.

I posted all the photos of the build in my photos section:  http://gearinches.com/…/2002-gary-fisher-mamba

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Categories: MTB, Photos Tags: , , ,