2014 January Mountain Bike Marathon

JMBM 2 200

According to the event flyer, “This is a training event on trails and roads. Riders will be scored and assigned a placing. All Classes will start at the same time and be scored in the categories below. Use this event for early season training. This ride is longer than a normal XC race and it could be very cold.” “The middle portion of the course will be on lightly traveled, paved and dirt roads that are open to vehicle traffic. No traffic control will be provided. Participants must obey all state traffic regulations. Riders will need to dress accordingly for the weather and pace and feed themselves accordingly for the longer distance…” It’s not a race, right? Right!  At noon we had a short riders meeting explaining the course markings and...

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USA Cycling Cross Country Nationals at Macungie, PA

Nats 10

This week I had the privilege of competing at Nationals, and I have to say, it was a truly great experience.  One of the coolest things I’ve ever done.  I learned a lot but I also had a lot of fun.  It was awesome, and it is hard to convey the entire nationals experience, but I’m going to do my best to help you get a feel for exactly what I experienced. The venue, one of America’s smallest ski resorts was for a week the site of one of mountain biking’s biggest events.  Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Philadelphia, hosted the 2013 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships. “Bear Creek is one of those mountains that is often and generously referred to as a “local’s” hill. But what it lacks in...

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“Tiger Rag” XC Race at Clemson, SC

Wow!  I guess there was some level ground after all!

On June 23, 2013, race 9 of the Southern Classic Series intersected the US Cup East / South Eastern Regional Championship  Series (SERC) #7 at Clemson South Carolina.  Now throw in a Georgia State Cup make up race and you have lots of the best riders throughout the southeast showing up ready to compete.  Essentially, anyone who is still in the points race for any of those three series was likely to be in attendance. Now about the course:  Last year I raced it as a Cat 3 (or beginner) rider, so I did one lap.  Since that time, USA Cycling, in their infinite wisdom has decided that I needed to be upgraded — not once, but twice — to Cat 1.  After all, I have been riding a bicycle for a whopping two years and am only halfway through my second...

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Homemade Power Bleeder

Power bleeder 480

I have brand new Hayes Prime hydraulic disc brakes on my two race mountain bikes.  Great brakes.  Reasonably light.  Easily adjustable.  Like all hydraulic brake sets, they come pre-bled from the factory.  The bummer is they come with 75′ long hydraulic lines, just in case you are installing them on a tandem or other gigantic bike.  Well, I ride a small frame bike so I have two options:  Option one is to leave the system pre-bled and roll up the extra 3 feet of brake line and tape it to frame or handlebars.  Definitely falls under the “you might be a redneck if…” category.  Option two is to shorten the lines to properly fit the bike.  But that means breaking the factory seal and allowing the possibility of air going into the...

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“Bouldergeist” XC Race

bouldergeist 2

There seems to be an unwritten rule that every mountain bike race must have its own unique name. Generally that name conjures up wild and violent images — seemingly, the more extreme, the better. Perhaps it is race promoters appealing to a video game culture or maybe it’s just tradition. Mostly the race names are a stretch, with one notable exception: Bouldergeist. In a single word, race promoter Howard Rhyne epitomizes his race. Succinct, fully descriptive, and emotive. Bouldergeist is the perfect name for yesterday’s well run race at San-Lee State Park. (Great job, Howard and company.) Think about it… Bouldergeist suggests large rocks (boulders) and poltergeist (the apparent manifestation of an invisible and destructive entity). Most accounts of...

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“6 Hours of Santos” Endurance Race

6 hours of Santos

One cool thing about racing endurance races is that they are generally not broken into as many, if any, subdivisions so unless you are a young, elite rider there is virtually no pressure except what you might put on yourself. Another cool thing is that you learn a lot about yourself. Whether a half or full marathon, a century ride/race, or an epic like ORAMM (Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell), the first two-thirds of the race is just to get you to the point that counts — that place where every sane person would quit. In a marathon, it’s called “the wall”. In a six-hour mountain bike race, it’s about hour four. The Santos race is located in north-central Florida in a sleepy little town called Ocala about an hour north of Orlando. Now if you are like...

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Why I’m a Weight Weenie

weight weenie

Okay, I’ll admit it… I’m a weight weenie, and I’m proud of it. The reason is really pretty simple: I race mountain bikes and I like to win. I don’t like losing. And winning a bicycle race depends on having the best combination of technical skills, effective power, and luck on any given day. Here is the problem. Luck is largely uncontrollable, although it is amazing how much luckier those who are best prepared tend to be. Technical skills are acquired very slowly and over years of riding and consistent practice. That leaves only one element that can be readily manipulated: effective power. All power is not equal. Think about it. A semi truck engine might produce 700 horsepower and a new sports car might produce 350 horsepower. Which one is...

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