Archive for January, 2010
Yesterday I had the pleasure to talk mountain bikes with a sales rep at the local bike shop. He had mentioned on his downhill bike he had a pneumatic, adjustable seat post. As a weight weenie the thought of something like this blew my mind and I had to do some more research. The concept is that when downhill riding you can drop the seat post to put your weight way behind the tire. The downside is when you return the saddle to its original position and you are not sitting on it you get your nuts turned into peanut butter. Allow this YouTube video to demonstrate:
I really don’t have any words for this right now. The thought process involved with taking a recumbent down some single track must have been short, or maybe non existent. It certainly is a barrel of laughs though.
Just a warning this video comes with some terrible music so you’ll want to turn down your speakers. I’ve got one more video I’ve found on YouTube I want to share with the world. This one is short and sweet and really makes me want to get a helmet cam so I can gift the internet with more of this as I really, really suck at Mountain Biking.
He falls with such grace. I applaud him.
The cyclocross season in TX is coming to a sad close. No more 30 minute dry heaving running jumping sliding and getting lapped by the actually fast guys.
A broken chain during the warmup lap knocked me out of the cross race in the Woodlands last week, but the 26 inch rig is back with a new BMX style half link chain from Bicycle World and Fitness and I finally am going to be lacking an excuse for my poor performance this weekend!
The lone star cx festival is coming with collegiate races on Saturday, and the rest of us on Sunday. I’ll be racing with the rest of the cross noobs in Cat 4. They have taken mercy and made the Cat 4 race only 30 minutes instead of the usual punishing 60 minutes. Picture this: You were probably going to waste those 30 minutes of your life watching television, surfing the web, and scratching yourself anyway, so why not come out and race?
Time to stretch those muscles and get those few cool down rides in before the subjecting myself to the last muddy lycra of the season.
If you’re in Austin, catch us out there! I’ll be in the fluorescent pink blue and black Tarckbike.com jersey and shorts…
more to come post race…
Blowing off some of our work on Sunday, we visited Bicycle World and Fitness in the Rice Village (Houston, TX) and came away with one of their demo bikes: the GIANT XTC 29’er 1. This is the top of the line model of hardtail 29’er from GIANT and we were very impressed with the bike.
The claimed weight from Giant is around 25 lbs (depending on frame size). We had the Medium frame at our disposal. We took to the trails at Memorial Park, brought along a small video camera and a fully rigid 26’er singlespeed (pretty much the polar opposite bike) to see how the supposedly slow handling big wheels fared against a razor sharp fully rigid 26’er. The results were impressive. The singletrack out at the park is known for being excessively rooty. This causes a lot of trouble on the 26’er, requiring frequent line adjustments and careful choices. The response (in part thanks to a new chain and chainline adjustment from BW&F) from the 26’er was sharp as expected, and heading down descents was a little hairy, but with some butt hanging off the seat weight shifting went as usual.
Enough about small wheels, you all want to hear about the 29’er right? Simply put, this thing rocked. We were able to throw power at the descents and with only minor shifts in weight, continue to lay the power down throughout the descent. This bike sinks like cement sneakers. Don’t think that it’s climbing prowess is affected either: when heading up the short rooty climbs that characterize the trails at Memorial Park, the bike laid down the power perfectly. It had the grip of a full suspension 26’er with none of the pedal bob or lost power, since the hydroformed aluminum tubing was working overtime to put every watt of power from the crank into the dirt.
The steering on the Giant was slow and predictable, compared to the nervous steering of the 26’er. This didn’t seem to hinder it in the twisty sections at the back of the “Green Trail.” Rather than steering with the hands, the bike felt very motorcycle-like, responding with telepathic like prowess to movements of the hips, and utilizing the wide 29’er specific bars developed by Giant to maintain a solid and clean line. This bike is very comfortable leaned way over and powering through turns.
The bottom bracket on the Giant felt a bit low, however. Part of the stability of the bike may come from this placement, and although the tendency with a big wheeler is to just roll over everything, occasionally when hitting a sudden stair-like rise in the trail, a little bit of bunnyhopping coercion was needed to smoothly transition the whole bike over the obstacle. Still, when doing this the big wheels were able to provide ample grip to throw the machine over anything in its path.
We like big wheels. We like a good value, too. At around $2100 list price, the Giant XTC 29’er (XTC 1 model with a fox fork) represents a very good bargain as far as race ready XC rigs go. If you have $2100 burning a hole in your pocket, I present to you a fantastic way to spend it. We were sad to return the bike, and I’m sure it will bring you lots of smooth rolling big wheeling smiles.
I hope Santa brought you all the sweet bike loot you’ve been lusting after all year! I’ve been a pretty naughty boy, but I managed to score a Canon 7D, so hopefully we will have some excellent HD video coming your way soon! Also we should have some sweet HIGHFLANGE stickers coming in soon. Limited quantities are available so hit it up while the iron is hot. We’re also working on a few tshirts courtesy of Charlie Foxtrot Clothing. They make some sweet motorsports shirts, and they are going to venture into the world of human power themed clothing for us soon.
On to the news: I was out in Central Texas for an 87 mile endurance race. Highflange reader Christopher Michael Aguillard, a member of Team Bicycle World and Fitness pestered me into getting off the couch, cleaning the Christmas Cake and French Fry crumbs off my bib shorts and face and hitting the trails. The ride was aptly named.
It began with a lap of the trails at Warda, then a road portion all the way through some paved hills to Rocky Hill Ranch, then a 24 mile lap of Rocky Hill’s trails, then back to Warda for a short victory lap through their trails and to the finish. The race totaled nearly 90 miles. The course was very well laid out and all I was missing was a few extra watts in my legs at the end of the day to push me further. I was passed at one point by a tandem!
It was my first MTB race and I was just happy to have finished at all, and to be one spot above DFL for the finishers in my class.
That’s me in the dorky red jacket, riding a super smooth full suspension 26’er Santa Cruz Blur LT (aluminum frame) and Aguillard is riding the sexy blue and orange Crank Brothers Cobalt and Iodine wheelset strapped to his Santa Cruz Chameleon. Oddly enough, he’s had a few problems with the wheelset. We’re not sure if it’s bad luck or a common problem on the crank brothers wheels, but he had his freehub body fail on him during a practice lap at Rocky Hill. Since we love Crank Brothers products, we might wait for a response from the company to see if it was user error/luck or a defect.
During the ride I managed to sneak a look at some sweet rides from Niner, Independent Fabrication, and Vassago Cycles. It’s no secret that I have been secretly lusting after building a weight-weenie, hardtailed big wheeler for racing, since the squishy all mountain Santa Cruz is more set up for a fun ride with your buddies or some impressive leaps off of drops with 140mm of travel.
I think I’m sold on MTB racing, I just purchased my license from USA cycling this year. I was telling my friends that I was never going to be capable of racing mountain bikes. It just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t cut out for/couldn’t handle the stresses. As it turns out, “can” is really a mental thing. You can do it as long as you believe you can. I may never be hitting podium finishes in any arena of bicycle racing, but I’m more than content to train hard every day, eat right and show up and see what my legs will do!
2010 has been good to me so far!