Thursday, September 10, 2009

A look at Grease Monkey Wipes

Grease Monkey Wipes are single-use individually packaged moist degreasing wipes that actually work! The idea for the wipes came about because of a flat tire on a long road ride and the resulting greasy hands (well known to anyone who rides a bike) and have come to be the best (and only) all-natural portable wipe for anyone who gets dirty (and doesn't want to stay that way).
Personally, I have really enjoyed my Grease Monkey Wipes. They are convenient, easy to carry and they really work. I have found that even if I am in close proximity to a sink and soap (which I rarely am), a Grease Monkey Wipe actually works better to remove grease and bike gunk from my hands. So, not only are they great on the trail, but also if you do any kind of wrenching or tinkering on your own bike.
Here's an example of how well they remove road gunk (I know that's what the black stuff was because I had just changed a tire on my road bike). They work just as well on grease!
Pre Grease Monkey Wipe

Post Grease Monkey Wipe

Best ways to use them:
  • Keep in your saddle bag or hydration pack for post-emergency trailside maintenance
  • Keep in your toolbox to use after tinkering with your bike
  • Keep in your car in case you have to change a car tire
  • Keep in your purse/backpack in case you need to clean your hands and don't have a bathroom or instant hand sanitizer around (I never do)
  • Use them as a chain degreaser - it actually works!
Finally, the thing that really seals the deal for me is how they smell. It's just like wiping an orange all over your hands. My only suggestion is to resist the temptation to walk around with your fingers in your nose. Most people don't realize what you're doing and you get some weird looks...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Racing and a break...

Wow, it has been way too long since I last posted. I apologize for my silence, but will now update you all on what I've been up to for the last couple of months...

First, I should mention National Championships. I was hoping to win. I had been racing well and was hoping to get to duke it out with Colin Cares at the front for the all-expense-paid trip to World Championships, but it wasn't meant to be. I ended up starting good and strong and rode the first lap (of 5) with Colin, but after that, I just didn't feel it. My legs felt sluggish and slow and I didn't have the intensity that I should have for that time of year. I ended up finishing 4th (still on the podium - see photo below) after Colin Cares, Robbie Squire, and Stephen Ettinger. I want to congratulate all three of them on a stellar race and I'm just bummed that I wasn't able to give them a bit more competition.After Nationals, I decided to go to the World Cup race in Bromont, Canada because Marc Gullickson, who works for USA Cycling, told me that going to Bromont would improve my chances of getting a spot on the World Championships team, which has been my goal since the beginning of this year.

So I headed home for about a week, then headed to the East Coast for a 3 week cycling adventure (Bromont, Mt. Snow, and then Windham). At the Bromont World Cup (my first World Cup ever and my first time racing in Canada) I finished 80th of 120 or so starters. I was called up almost dead last, so I was pleased with my result because it meant that I passed 30 or so people! The race was completely chaotic because it was raining and muddy, but I had a great time and enjoyed seeing some of my Chilean friends that I had met during my time in South America last winter. After Bromont, I raced the final two US Pro XC Tour races in Mt. Snow, VT and Windham, NY and I finished 30th and 33rd, respectively, in the Pro field. Certainly not up to par with my earlier results, but still top half.

It was during this 3 weeks on the road that I realized how tired I was. My legs never felt good and I didn't have the intensity or power that I had had earlier in the season. It took me a while to figure it out, but I eventually realized that it was simply due to having had such a long season. For the first time since I had started racing, I had trained seriously through the winter and my first races were a stage race in January and then Continental Championships in March. So I had been racing for almost 7 months!

I also found out around this time that I had not been chosen for the U23 World Championships team. I was (and still am) disappointed, but I worked my hardest to be chosen, and when I spoke to USA Cycling, I was told that I was next on the list. I understand that USA Cycling does their best to choose racers who they think have a good chance of doing well, but they chose to only bring three (3) U23 racers of the seven (7) they were allowed to bring! Seems like a bad idea to me, but what could I do????

So now I have decided to take a break from cycling for a bit. When I got back to NM, I brought my girlfriend, Victoria Henry, to school and am now back in Taos with my family. I have about a week to hang out with them and then I head back to Middlebury College for another 2 years of school. Once I get back to school I am planning to start preparing for the collegiate mountain bike season and for CYCLOCROSS, which I am REALLY excited for!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

getting lost and breaking bikes

After a day off and a quick spin on the new singlespeed on tuesday I got back to some solid riding yesterday. The plan was to start at the Sourdough Trailhead near the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station. Instead of riding my normal route on the sourdough north towards Brainard Lake and Camp Dick I headed Northwest up to the Niwot Ridge Trail, the goal, ride up and over Niwot Ridge (the highest trail in the immediate front range of Boulder) and then drop down and back via the Sourdough. After climbing for nearly 1.5 hours the retention spring in my brake broke and started sticking into my rotor making an awful sound.

I hopped off the bike at somewhere near 12,000 ft above sea level with no tree cover and clouds rolling in. Pulled the front wheel and pulled the brake pads out with the hope to mend the retention spring. Sadly it wasn't to be. After sitting there for a considerably amount of time and getting very cold (I eventually put on a fleece jersey, leg warmers, and a hat) I figured it would probably make more sense to keep going and come back on sourdough still as this would be less continuous steep descending without a front brake.

Turns out I missed the turn and ended up at the top of some mountain by a research building for CU. Ah well, guess I have to try and flow my way down the mountain with only a rear brake.

Overall the descent for the first bit wasn't that bad as the alpine tundra covered in Granite does not lend to a huge amount of speed. Then, the fast fire road came. It is seriously scary trying to descend steep, fast, and loose fire roads without a speed control mechanism and only a bike control mechanism. In the end I definitely wimped out and walked a few of the steeper pitches in order to avoid barrelling over the side of the trail into the creek beds.

Overall it was a sweet ride to get up so high in altitude and work on pushing the pedals without much oxygen especially over technical terrain.

Till next time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

National Championships Recap

I have always had a love-hate relationship with the national championships and this year did not disappoint. The weekend started off on Friday for me this year with a short day trip up to Sol Vista Ski Basin to pre-ride the course and watch Macky's U23 race. After pre-riding and wishing I had a dual suspension I quickly grabbed my bag and started on the recovery process while watching some awesome racing action.

Unfortunately for Macky it was not quite the race he was hoping for. The climb turned out to be a little long for him and he wasn't able to hold the blistering pace that Robbie Squire and Colin Cares had set.

Back at the car and on my way I was feeling good, though a little tired. I made it home, relaxed with my feet up for the evening and made it an early night for bed.

Saturday morning, up, watching the tour, eating and then loading up the car for the quick drive to Sol Vista. 2 pm start for me today, making it easy to sleep at home in the comfort of my own bed. After spending the morning trying to get my stomach to stop acting up on me I finally got on my bike for a warm up. Even with the stomach being queesy I was feeling good. The legs were light and felt ready to fly. Apparently this was not the case. The 18% starting grade in a mass bunch was quite problematic for my last roll call up. Bars hooked, foot down, and I was only half way up the first pitch. After this I kept trying to push it and really hit the climb hard but the legs were not turning around the way they should have been or were the week before in Winter Park. And then the descent....

I absolutely love my new Yeti A.R.C. It is by far the best hard tail I have ever ridden. Super smooth, super stiff, and spot on geometry for fast mountain bike riding. Unfortunately there are courses out there that prefer dual suspensions in order to ride fast. With moon dust filled braking ruts all the way down the mountain the hard tail was not in the mood to ride downhills fast and was honestly a little frustrating, but that is bike racing.

After racing for 3 laps in an embarassing fashion I was pulled and was able to go sit and watch the rest of the pro men's field continue their rides around the 4 mile course.

Made it back home Saturday evening. Ate some delicious food and then went to bed. Sunday morning rolled around and I was ramped up to race Short Track (odd since I am not a big fan of short tracks ever!). The legs weren't even remotely sore (probably due to only having to race for 3 laps). Only problem was my stomach was worse than the day before. Fortunately I had a left over bottle of coke from Saturday and set about drinking it as Shannon drove up Berthoud Pass.

Feeling better and spinning around for my warm up things were looking good. The course was exceptionally difficult with a LONG climb, something that absolutely suits me in Short Track races. Threw down a few laps, tried riding Adam Craig's wheel down the descent (doesn't work so hot when he is by far one of the best bike handler's in the world and I am still young in bike racing/riding years).

Once again I had a last row call up, but was able to find a wonderful spot on the outside in order to move up quickly. Well the gun goes and all you can say about Short Track is OUCH! Fortunately though I was feeling smoking and was railing up the climbs and riding the descents as smoothly and quickly as possible it is to do on the side of a bumpy ski slope.

Nationals has come and gone once again and now it is time to get back to training and a big trip back east to see how my year at altitude will affect my ability to ride fast at sea level up Mount Snow and up Windham.

Till then.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The First Yeti Build

Yesterday at 2:30 in the afternoon I pulled into 600 Corporate Circle, Golden, CO 80401 - the home of Yeti Cycles. After speaking with Bubba for a few moments I spent the next couple of minutes ogling the history of Yeti Cycles hanging in the lobby. Yeti has always made amazing bikes and in my opinion always will from their Downhill rock eaters to their stiff and compliant aluminum hard tails.

My new Yeti A.R.C. frame was handed off and I booked it back to Longmont for a headset install and then home for an afternoon of building. But first I weighed it with our sweet scale from Feedback Sports, a slight 3.76 lbs. This is not quite the uber light carbon fiber hard tail that many cross country racers ride, however, I have gone that route and have found that maybe it isn't the best.

Here are some pics from the build process:

Here is the weight with headset of the frame I replaced with the A.R.C.
And now the A.R.C. weight!Checkout the amazing attention to detail with a stamped Yeti on the replaceable derailleur hanger!

Though the weight is not quite what many racers are riding or even close to what I started my season out on, however, with some new components (handlebars, crankset, brakes, cassette) I can easily have it down to 21 or 22. Just need some time.

I still have not been able to set up my new set of Power Cordz as I am waiting for my trusted teammate to give me a hand on this process, since he has had experience doing it on his bike. Stay tuned for a ride report and race report as I break in this turquoise and white beauty.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Winter Park Series Race #3 Report

Yesterday was my second adventure at the low key and super fun Winter Park Race Series for this season. Like 2 weeks ago a few big names decided to show up and show us where it's at with Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski blasting to the win 2 minutes ahead of Michael Broderick. Those guys were cruising!

My race went amazingly well and I was surprised at the legs I had, especially during the first hour. The whole race I was blasting up the climbs and attacking riders on their dual suspensions as they bobbed up the mountains. The legs were light and all they wanted to do was rocket, it was working perfectly.

About half way through the race there is this amazingly fast fire road descent that is super sketchy, with monster jumps and one corner that is rutted out from rain water and four wheel drive vehicles coming up in the wet and muddy conditions. I took a huge digger on this corner and lost my position in a solid and strong group that would have carried me to finish inside the top 30.

After regrouping I was back on and hammering forward. Surprisingly my confidence wasn't shaken but sitting in no man's land I was having trouble pushing as hard as I needed to. Fortunately someone came around me and after a minute of riding his pace I got tired of it and just blasted by him on the next semi sustained climb (my playground). This continued for the remainder of the race. If the trail went up I was flying climbing many climbs in my big ring and attacking out of the saddle. I have honestly never felt so strong on my bike.

Unfortunately with my rear tire a little low from semi-burping it during my first crash I had to take it easy during the technical descents so as not to blow it off the rim. Every time I felt the rim hit I cringed. But I was able to ride smooth and not lose too much time on the best singletrack of the race.

Popped out of the bottom attacked up the next climb and just kept hammering. From the 1 hour 30 mark all the way until the finish at 1 hour 50 I rode my big ring no matter what it looked like. I felt like I was riding possessed! And then, I crashed again. Unfortunately I couldn't get up as fast this time as my right leg cramped up and I spent 2 minutes laying on the ground just trying stand up. It was brutal.

Back on the bike and a minute of spinning and I was back to being possessed. Ripping past people and making on final move to finish 44th out of 55 riders only 20 minutes down.

Maybe not my best race on paper, but based on how I was feeling and riding I know I could have been close to 15 places higher and almost 5 minutes faster without the crashes.

One thing that I was exceptionally impressed with this weekend was how awesome wide riser bars are for control and for climbing. For the past 2 years I have been a narrow flat bar rider with a 1 inch drop from saddle to bars. After some thought on my strengths and weaknesses as a rider I convinced myself that some wide riser bars were the way to go. Just this week I put on a set of Easton low rise bars that are 685 mm wide. They are awesome! Sweet leverage when climbing, lungs are held open for comfortable breathing, and so much better for cornering. I think I am a convert and will be riding the wide riser bars even on my race hard tail.

A good solid weekend of training and now to rest up for Nationals. That race is going to be brutal, but fortunately suits me with it's alpine course nature (long climb, long descent, rinse repeat).

Look for a build report of my Yeti A.R.C. in the coming days. I will be picking the frame up at the Yeti Factory in Golden early this week and then spending time to get it dialed for awesomeness at Sol Vista Ski Basin.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Squirt Lube Skinsuits

We received skinsuits from Squirt Lube a while ago (just after Crested Butte). I'd never worn a skinsuit, so I had to try it on and take some pictures. What do you think? They're pretty sweet, huh?????

We've also been working on our OWN kits! Finally. They should be pretty sweet, but I don't want to give away too many details because we want to surprise everyone when we finally get to wear them. Many thanks to Dave Griebling (our Rooly guy) and Pioneer S&M for helping us get the kits going and for having such a good turn-around time (just over 2 weeks).
That's all for now, just getting ready for National Championships so I can get my auto-qualification for World Championships. Wish me luck!