Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sea Otter Classic Wrap Up

Before we had our son Logan, Jen made a little list of things she'd like to do soon after he was born.  It starts off small and simple, with things like "go for a walk" with no real criteria so that if a long recovery was needed after delivery it could still be something easily checked off so she could feel like she was accomplishing something.  The list also had "go to Sea Otter" on it.  Before he was born, we were trying to keep expectations low but we were really hoping we'd be able to integrate him into our racing and events life early, but Sea Otter still seemed daunting.  Thankfully Jen and Logan recovered well and even though he was only a little over three weeks old by the time the 'Otter rolled around, it would be his fourth MTB race.  So he was ready... was I?  Training for me has been a little "off" with the new addition to the team so I'd be relying more on my base and the two Prairie City Race Series "tune up" races leading up to SOC.  I won both of the PCRS races which felt good but a 5th at the Napa Valley Dirt Classic the week before didn't leave me feeling so great about my fitness.

When we rolled down to Monterey Thursday night, we met up with Marshall who had brought down the rush order kits that Capo got to us in time for the weekend.  After seeing them and trying them on, I wasn't sure how well they were going to go over, but we were sure going to stand out!

Short track was Friday morning and I got a nice long warm up in.  The course was similar to last years but a little longer with a few more features.  The infield section had a tunnel and flyover and then went out onto the track with a few more turns in the sand.  It was actually kind of fun!  Except for that nasty gravel section of course.

I got a decent starting spot on the line, about four rows back and on the inside of the first turn which I thought would be good.  It was not.  I got pinched off there and was very quickly shuffled back.  Then in the next corner, last years big "choke point," I was on the outside and the same thing happened again.  The guys in the middle shot through first before I had room from the outside.  Essentially I was caught in an eddy.  Who knew you had to study up on fluid dynamics before racing short track!?  Anyways, my main goal was to stay out of trouble which I managed to do in the next few corners and I was able to pedal through the gravel pit, sweet (remember, we're into checking easy stuff off the list!).  The infield section had some sharp corners and big dirt mounds to go over and on each one there was a bottleneck as you can see in the aerial video (start at 3:45 for the men's start):

At least I'm easy to spot in the new colors!  I settled into the field after the first lap sorted out and began my moving up.  With the field so strung out I knew I wouldn't get far but I managed to pick off a few and had some fun in between the pain.

I finished 41st out of about 65 guys and set off for my XC course pre-ride.  When I got back to the expo, I found Marshall (he was SO hard to spot!) and found out he'd finished 10th in the Enduro! Sweet!!

The XC start got moved up from 1:30pm to 11am which was nice and meant we might not have as much wind to battle out on the ridge tops.  Sporting our "flo-yellow" I lined up with Ryan and nearly 100 other guys for the start of our 35 mile race.  We started out on the track as normal but I was surprised to find that we pulled off earlier than normal and went out to a road outside the track before finally climbing up to the dirt.  The pace was intense but my legs felt more fatigued than they should have been by that point.  So my strategy early on would be to maximize my passing opportunities on the downhills and techy sections while trying not to blow up on the climbs.  Then just hope my legs would come around later in the race.  I passed a load of guys on the first few big descents and managed to hold my position on the few climbs along the ridge.  We got to the bottom where we normally turn into fun singletrack but instead made a sharper turn down a short double track with a couple off camber rollers.  I had scouted this out in my prelap and my assumption was correct that everyone would be in the clearer high line but the lower line was the place to be and I motored by some more.  Until one guy forgot how to corner and drifted out into me, his inside leg sticking straight out for counter balance, and he almost pushed us both off the edge.  Thankfully I was able to brake and let him cross in front of me and recover before we made it down to the road.  Yes... road, quite a lot of it in the first part of this course.  I topped out my 39 tooth gear and found a drafting partner before it leveled out and we entered the first singletrack climb.  Here we had to stop, literally.  It's the inevitable pro conga line at Sea Otter that always happens and this year I just didn't have the stuff to get in front of it in time.  Oh well.  We moseyed up the climb at a fairly moderate pace but it still seemed tough for my legs.  "When are they going to come around?!" I thought.  When we got towards the top it opened up and I made my way around the few holding us up, but my legs still felt flat.  As Ryan passed me cresting the ridge I felt something in my helmet, then "AAHHHH!!! Something's stinging me!!!"  I didn't know what it was but I hoped it wasn't going to give me a reaction, which I'd had before during a hard ride that left me slightly incapacitated for a bit.  The stinging finally stopped and thankfully I didn't feel any shock coming on so I pressed on, remembering how my brother had joked about our new kits attracting insects.  Ryan had a little gap on me as we rode down the next road (yep) downhill and he was able to pedal away with his bigger 42 tooth gearing.  But a little drafting help came and I caught back up by the time we started climbing again.

I ate, I drank, but the legs were still not coming around and Ryan slowly began to pull away from me.  With our new colors so bright, I always knew where he was even though he was across a canyon.  I came through the start/finish a little over an hour and a significantly slower pace than I'd hoped for.

I was loosing my optimism that the legs would come around in the second lap as it seemed no matter what I did helped.  I just felt like I was running on 'E'.  My heart rate was dropping and so was my positioning.  By the half way point of the lap I was in "just finish" mode and pretty frustrated.  There didn't seem to be anything I could do.  I was even passed on the ridge road by a guy hauling some camera gear back.  Pretty demoralizing!  I got a little boost of energy in the last mile or so, like a horse sprinting back to the barn, and made a couple passes to end up finishing 66th.

Man was I happy to be done.  It'll be one of those races I'll just clear from my mind and move on.  I think I needed more calories the day before and/or before the race because I powered down lunch like it was nothing.  Oh well, at least we looked good!

Then it was back to work, heading out again on course to help out one of my local high school racers with her pre-ride and give her some tips before her first Sea Otter XC.

Riding with Sam and coaching her made me feel better, but nothing beat holding my little guy after a long day.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Racing Into Shape - Episode 4 - TBF MTB Madness

Last weekend was the fourth and final TBF race in Granite Bay and wraps up what I usually do each year to jump start my intensity training.  We got a little taste of winter in the week prior and it was nice to see Folsom Lake rising up a bit.  The weather gave us a break for the race and the trails had a day to dry out making the dirt conditions pretty stellar.  There was just a pretty strong wind from the South to contend with and would certainly become a strategic factor on a course where it's normally hard to break away.

I started mid pack just to get used to close quarters and working through traffic.  After a couple corners I was at the front and paced just fast enough to make people work without over doing it.

Once I reached the road before the first climb I looked back to see a group of about six.  Normally, someone is eager to attack here and peg it up the first climb but there were no takers.  Until about fifty yards before the turn into the climb someone tried to go by on my left.  There was room, but not much and he clipped my bar and almost took me down.  Thankfully I pulled out of it!  I certainly wasn't expecting that since there was plenty of room to pass elsewhere and, well... it's Granite Bay not a Pro XCT Short Track.  But racing is racing no matter where you are, so it was a good reminder for me not to get so comfortable.  The guy apologized and yielded the corner to me and we mashed up the climb.

I wasn't feeling very fleet and the lungs felt a little closed off on the top end efforts.  I was hoping there wouldn't be any attackers early and thankfully there weren't.  So we cruised around at a controlled pace that I got to set.

By the end of the first lap we had trimmed down the group to four and I was learning that my chasers, all under twenty years old, didn't seem to be racing each other but were really only racing me.  Especially when we were suffering into the headwind (though I guess it was only me suffering at the front!).  Thankfully they weren't working together or they could have put the hurt on me I'm sure.

Lap two was uneventful and I stayed at the front.  I backed off the effort a bit whenever we turned into the wind to try and save the legs since nobody else was willing to pull.

We were getting into some heavy traffic and thankfully I was feeling a little better by the third lap climb.  I continued to lead and at the top and first corner of the decent I heard the unmistakable sound of a tubeless tire "burp" and resulting crash.  Alec Crofoot who was sitting third had crossed up in the corner and went OTB ending his day.  So then there were three... continuing to work through traffic.  I would push the pace here and there, testing the guys a bit but they hung in there and we were just biding time until the last lap.

Final lap... somebody's got to do something!  And heading up the only major climb on the course I felt Andrew Taylor making a move as the pace increased.  He went by looking strong and I suppressed the "give up" voice in my head and was able to keep contact.  I let a little gap form towards the top to recover figuring I could catch back up on the descent and turns.  I played that strategy and stayed in contact without over doing it for the rest of the lap and was right back on his wheel with a couple miles to go.  We had dropped Tofor Lewis in third with a decent gap and we both knew it was going to come down to a sprint finish.  I stayed right in his draft as we turned into the wind and he slowed the pace, daring me to pass.  It was really hard not to but would have been a poor move in such a strong wind.  Tofor wasn't catching us so I stayed right there in the 2nd spot as we neared the line.  With two corners to go, Andrew picked the pace back up and over the final knoll he went for it a little earlier than I was expecting and got a little gap just before we were blasted with wind.  I started my attack and the gap wasn't closing very quickly and I started to think I wasn't going to get it done.  But then the gap suddenly closed so I gave it one last kick, pulling up beside with closing speed and I lunged for the line...

It was so close and neither of us knew who'd won.  We each wanted to be the winner but were both pretty stoked on how exciting it was.  In the end, the RFID timing system picked up his chip first but just barely!

Congrats to Andrew for throwing down a strong last lap.  I'm pretty happy that after pulling everyone for three laps I was able to stick with him and make it that close of a finish.  I'm pretty sure that was the first time I was in the "attacking" position for a sprint which was cool... I just need to have more confidence!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Kickstart!

I spent the last week of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 recovering from a spectacular crash on Christmas eve where I clipped a tree branch with my handle bar at over 21mph and smacked the ground hard.
I hit the branch on the left and ended up just past the trees to the right.

It left me with 15 stitches above the eye and a left knee about three times its normal size.  I was able to lightly ride out the swelling but it still didn't feel right and would easily swell back up.  An MRI revealed a severe bone bruise on my femur at the knee, as well as a bruised patella, tibia, and strained IT band and popliteal tendons.  Thankfully the MRI confirmed there was no ligament damage and I could resume riding without further damage.  All I'd have to do was not fall on it!
So why not race?!  The TBF MTB Kickstart is always a good opener for the year and a good shock to the system.  Conditions were a bit odd, July dry dirt with January cold.  I'd have to be careful in the slick corners and not take any risks, but I was looking forward to mixing it up as best I could.  I had no expectations after some very inconsistent riding over the past month. I donned my CA State Champ jersey (with my regular jersey underneath... it was 32 degrees!), because it's not every year you get to wear one of those, and toed the line with the usual local speedsters and some seriously fast high school racers who've been training hard for their fast approaching season.

We set off at a decent pace for the start loop and see-sawed a bit until I settled into the 3rd spot on the first climb.  I was enjoying watching the two characters in front of me... Ron Shevock leading but nearly sliding out in every corner due to a very worn out back tire and Tofor Lewis taking some skillful "fun" lines through the singletrack.  I could tell that 16 year old Tofor had some spunk and would likely be the one to beat.  Half way through the first lap I passed for the lead and Tofor pulled in behind.
I was racing my Tallboy not just because it's a fast bike for this course but because it would put less strain on my knee vs. the Highball.  Tofor was strong on the climbs, so I set out to push the pace where the Tallboy excelled and dial it back where I didn't feel as strong.  I stayed out front with three chasers close all the way through the second lap as we battled through lapped traffic.
And on the first climb of the last lap, Tofor attacked for the lead and never looked back.  I couldn't match his acceleration and after getting stuck behind a lapped rider for a bit, I couldn't see him by the top.  My race would be for 2nd with Andrew Taylor.  I stretched out a small gap through the corners but he was able to reel me back in at the last corner with enough left to take me by a wheel in a sprint finish.  I've never been a good sprinter, but apparently I'm a really good lead-out man!
It was a great race out on the trails and I'm really happy that 1) I'm able to do it at all, and 2) I performed as well as I did!  Congrats to the young racers out there working hard... looks like I'll be hitting them up to tag along on training rides to push my fitness!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baptism by Cross

I gave cyclocross a serious try back in 2009.  Coming of an awesome MTB season including an XC National Championship and Downieville All Mountain victory for Cat 1, I was feeling good and was figuring out I was fairly good at racing bikes.  So I immersed myself in cross... I bought a geared CX bike and entered the elite categories to promptly have my arse handed to me repeatedly.  I was taking it way too seriously, putting the same pressure on myself as I did during the previous MTB season and not having fun.  After that winter I sold that cross bike and decided that I wouldn't race cross anymore because I need an off season.  That was a good decision, leading to much needed recovery for my body, some fun vacations, completed house projects.

But this year I got the itch again.  Probably because I've had a better, more relaxed attitude towards racing in general that didn't leave me so wiped by October.  But I told myself that this still needed to be an off season, but possibly with some fun shenanigans on a technologically archaic bike.  My cyclocross savior would come in the form of a single speed, and my baptism would be at the first Sacramento Cyclocross Series race in Vacaville.  Fittingly... it was pouring rain...

That's me... D...F...L... and I was fine with it!  I hadn't raced a cross bike in just under four years and riding in serious muck was something I never really do either.  I was seriously feeling "reborn."  My first few laps were spent feeling like I was learning how to ride a bike again.  Slipping, sliding, and skating around turns.  It was cold and wet, which I normally hate, but I was having a blast.  Pedaling where I could... and accepting the fact that I could only go so fast because of the gearing and trying to lay off the brakes.  After a few laps I learned that those skinny tires can grip and you can lean the bike over more than you think.

I ended up getting the hang of it and picking off some of the field and finished 4th.  While surprised at the result, I didn't care much about it.  I was doing it for the fun and smiles... which were plenty!

After a nice vacation and a couple weeks off the bike (all bikes), it was time to take up my cross again.  This time at Lange Twins Winery for Sac CX #4.  With no expectations, I lined up with the Single Speed A's again under beautiful blue skies.  I'm about to race... and the typical anxieties that run through a racers brain just weren't there.  Did my bike have the right gearing for the course?  I don't know, and I don't care.  Did I eat the right food the two nights before??  Most likely not, but pumpkin ice cream is tasty and while egg nog ice cream isn't great on it's own, adding a little dark rum makes it better.  It's just for fun, and just to mix it up a little because riding and racing bikes is awesome.  I was also happy that after a couple weeks of vacation I fit into my new SacCX kit which I helped design.  I was lined up next to Ron Shevock who currently leads the series on a Felt carbon cx bike with disc brakes (he ended up winning this race too).  I have to say I'm a little jealous of the discs... old canti's hardly deserve to be called brakes by comparison.  Anyways... it was go time and we headed out into the course.  I tried to stay with Ron and the front guys, but I had no misconceptions about how out of shape I'd be or that the effort wasn't going to hurt.

I fell to the back, but not off the back at least.  The nice thing about single speed racing is that nobody you're racing with can pull away too quickly.  But that also means that if you drop back for whatever reason you can't really catch up.  Like when your front wheel skewer comes loose because you're screwing around jumping off stuff on an already bumpy course.
Makes me really appreciate the thru-axel's on my MTB's.  I heard and felt rattling for about a lap, and figured it was just aluminum frame noise or something.  Then I looked down and saw the skewer lever pointing forward... and I NEVER leave it that way.  Briefly the thought of just continuing on went through my head, but then I remembered the time the front wheel came off my POS commuter bike in college.  That eject did not feel good... so after climbing the stair section of the course I stopped to tighten that puppy up.  I pedaled hard, drifted some corners and passed a few guys back so I could stay on the lead lap.  I see-sawed with one other SS'er on the final lap but he had a bigger gear, the finish stretch was pavement, and there was nothing I could do.  Oh well, I finished 6th.  I had fun, rode as fast as my gearing would allow, opened up the legs which felt good (I hit some surprising heart rate numbers too!), and the gaggle of course hecklers on the hairpin turns gave my kit good reviews.  Only sucky part was a painful cross blister from the rough course.
I guess I will have to do a little more work to this bike than just lubing the chain.  Time for new bar tape!

Ride on!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Racing The Stable - One Race, Four Bikes

I'm not sure when the idea popped into my head, but I figured I'd try something a little different for this year's TBF 50 Miler in Granite Bay.  Race four different Santa Cruz bikes!  I had three, just needed a fourth.  And talking with fellow racer Ryan Gibson after the Santa Cruz Super Enduro the week before I told him my idea and he let me borrow his Bronson C!  Awesome!  The plan came together and the race format made it possible to pull off this stunt and get a good comparison; four laps on a fast rolling course with plenty of short punchy climbs, twisting turns in the trees and a few small rock gardens.  It's a total pedal-fest and the trails overall aren't technically challenging by themselves, but riding them at race speed makes it interesting and would give me the opportunity to review each bike's pedaling capability, steering characteristics and overall "race-ability."  After some thought on the order, the line up would be Tallboy C, Bronson C, Tallboy LTc, and Highball C.  I would do my best to give the same perceived effort on each bike but really try to maximize time gain where each bike excelled.

The Tallboy would start off the shenanigans and I figured it would give me a good chance at staying with the front group while saving the speedy Highball for the end.
We started out at a pretty fast pace, trying to weed out the group a bit.  I hung on in the fourth spot for the first couple miles and made my way up into the lead just before we headed into the "winding woods" where I can really use this bike to its full potential.  I kept the hammer down and flowed through the turns slowly pulling away.  I could stay seated nearly everywhere, even up the rocky climbs, allowing me to both conserve strength and be fast at the same time.

It's set up with a 120mm fork up front (Fox Float 32 CTD w/ Trail Adj.) and it's still quick and nimble, never holding me back in the turns.  It pedals very efficiently once you get the sag set correctly in the "virtual platform" as I like to call it.  But this bike is all about momentum... it just carries any speed you're able to muster like no other.  The Tallboy really is a true all around racer and I set the fastest lap of the day at 45:56, about forty five seconds faster than I set last year riding only one lap as a four person relay.  I love that bike.  I had a good lead as I came around the final corner and through the start finish arch I could see Jen holding the Bronson and our friend Erin Upchurch in front of her to take my discarded Tallboy.  Sweet!
And I was off on the Bronson!  I grabbed a neutral bottle handoff to pocket (because even the XL frame doesn't have room for a bottle with the Fox Float X reservoir) and got my pedal on!  This would actually be my first ride on a Bronson, and first time on a 27.5" wheeled bike for that matter.  This Bronson was set up with a Fox TALAS 27.5 160 w/ remote which was pretty cool.  The dual cable remote controlled the CTD positions on both the fork and rear shock at the same time.  I started the lap off with the fork down in the low 130mm setting which surprisingly made the bike feel a LOT like the Tallboy I had just come from.  Both in handling and pedaling position.  Oh and pedaling... this thing can do it!  On smooth terrain and flats I really didn't feel like the bike was holding me back at all.  It had a nice firm platform and I could apply power efficiently.  Where I first noticed the extra heft was on the short steep climbs where it just didn't seem to power up quite as quickly or carry the momentum as well at the Tallboy.  But once I got into the turns is when I really noticed this bike excel.  "Playful" is the term that seems to fit how this bike felt.  It was noticeably quicker steering than the 29er even with the fork pushed out to 160mm.  And it mowed over anything as long as you had speed.

The Bronson hid its long travel well and never really felt like it was a "big bike" until it came to rocky climbing.  That's where this bike's weakness was, at least compared to the others.  I definitely noticed the smaller wheel size not rolling over things as easily and the slack angles causing a little bit of wander.  Throwing the fork down to 130mm helped, but I still had to dab in one tricky spot.  I found myself having to "aim" the front wheel when the climbing got slow which wasn't something I was used to.  And of course the 28lb weight and beefy, slow rolling tires didn't help the overall effort.  I finished up my lap on the Bronson with a respectable time of 49:36, ditching it to our friend Cabot and taking the Tallboy LTc from Jen.

Back to a little bit more familiar feel of a 29er, it was nice not to feel like I was "perched" on top of the bike, but more a part of it.  And big wheels roll!!!  The LTc pedals just as well as the Tallboy C and Bronson (maybe a little better) but with more of a "monster truck" attitude.  So for example, in my own head I was saying "BRAP!!!" (but think two stroke... "Breep?") in and out of corners and jumping off things on the Bronson.  It's just playful.  But on the LTc I just say "BRRAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!" and laugh as it just mows over stuff!  It's just plain fun and nothing stands in your way.  Not even when climbing.  Techy, slow approach rocks on your climbs?  MUAHAHHAHA!!!  Done.  Next.  The LTc combines the "big bike" travel of the Bronson with the momentum benefits of the Tallboy C.  

If it has one weakness compared to the others it is that it is the slowest turning of all of them, requiring you to "guide" rather than "flick" through corners.  On it's own, it's really isn't that slow and has never been something I had noticed before (after over 1k miles on the LTc) comparing it directly to the Bronson.  Setup might have something to do with it as well: 20mm longer stem and 70mm wider bars on the LTc.  But as long as you get your approach right, and lay off the brakes, she'll roll on through.  
About half way through the LTc lap (lap 3) I still had a lead and I couldn't see 2nd place.  But I was catching lapped traffic so unless they were close I couldn't really tell who was back there.  I felt like I was still cruisin' well, especially when a guy on a road bike (just out for a ride) drafted off of me on one of the gravel road sections and complimented my pull as I peeled off on the course.  But the heavier bikes were beginning to take their toll on me, and I was feeling the heft on the climbs for the second half of the lap.  With about three miles to go for the lap I heard someone behind me, and there was young Justin Harrell on his hardtail.  He said "man it took me FOREVER to catch you! Highball next lap?"  "Yep," I said, as he stood up and pulled away up a climb.  "See you in about five minutes!" he said.  I laughed... "I doubt that!"  I was seriously starting to fade and he had probably put a good thirty seconds on me before I ditched the LTc to Mike Stinson and grabbed the Highball from Jen.  The Tallboy LTc had thrown down a lap time of 50:25, not too shabby considering my state of fatigue.

The Highball, the rocket, was to be my "closer" and allow me to catch anyone ahead.  The bike is unbelievably snappy and fleet, with loads of acceleration.  Even with the big wheels, it's super quick and nimble in tight turns and just a blast to ride.
It took me a few miles to get used to the hardtail especially after coming off of the big Bronson and Tallboy LTc.  It just felt weird at first, and like I was being bucked around.  I was having trouble putting power down but I eventually found my grove and remembered how to go fast on this racer.
As I made my way around the northern, most technical part of the course I was moving fairly well but the legs were burning up and starting to cramp.  To complicate my comeback I was catching lapped traffic at the most inopportune times.  At one point a rider fumbled climbing up a rocky chute and fell over stuck in his pedals.  That caused a bit of a delay until he got it sorted out since there was no way around.  But those issues were merely seconds and the biggest factor to my slow last lap (52:54) on the Highball was my fatigue.  I just couldn't lay down the power where the Highball excelled.  I had nothing left for the climbs and was just done.  I finished off with everything I had and came in 2nd overall.  
After I finished, totally cooked, someone in the crowd yelled "Time for a 5th lap!"  I laughed... and collapsed into my shoulders.  Not so much... time for some beer and bbq!  My experiment was done, and I would definitely call it a success.  Thanks so much to Ryan Gibson for the loaner Bronson.  To Kris and Patrick Morin for taking pictures out on course.  To Erin, Cabot and Mike for helping with my bike changes.  And of course to Jen for helping enable :-).  It was awesome to be able to compare these four bikes together in exactly the same race environment and what better way to cap off a great season of racing bikes than to race them all at once!

If I had to do this again, I would swap the order between the Tallboy C and the Highball.  Leading off with the Highball because it was very hard to go back to the hardtail after all the squish.  And after the race, people asked me which was my "favorite."  Well they're all my "favorite" for different things, but for this race if I were to pick one, it would be the Tallboy C... "comfy fast."  

And I'm out...

The builds and bottom line:

Lap 1 - Tallboy C
Frame: XL 2013 Santa Cruz Tallboy c (matte carbon / red)
Fork: Fox 32 Float 29 120 FIT CTD w/ Trail Adjust
Shock: Fox Float CTD w/ Trail Adjust
Wheels: ENVE Twenty9 XC on Chris King 28h hubs
Brakes: Shimano XTR Trail
Shifters: Shimano XTR SL
Crankset: Shimano XTR - 42/30 Chainrings
Rear Der: Shimano XTR Shadow +
Front Der: Shimano XTR
Cassette: Shimano XTR - 36/11
Chain: KMC X10SL Gold
Seatpost: Thomson Masterpiece 30.9
Saddle: WTB Silverado Carbon
Stem: Thomson X4 90mm
Handlebar: Easton Haven Riser
Grips: ODI Flangeless Longneck
Tires: WTB Nano front and WTB Nine Line rear
Front Brake Rotor: Ashima Airotor 160mm
Rear Brake Rotor: Ashima Airotor 140mm

Bottom line: True "all-rounder" and the king of momentum.  Extremely capable racer but comfy at the same time.  Faster than it feels and a real energy saver over the long haul.

Lap 2 - Bronson C
Frame: XL 2013 Santa Cruz Bronson c (Tennis yellow)
Fork: Fox 34 TALAS 27.5 160 FIT CTD w/ remote
Shock: Fox Float X
Wheels: Un-branded carbon rims on DT hubs
Brakes: Shimano XTR Trail
Shifters: Shimano XTR SL
Crankset: Shimano XTR Triple
Rear Der: Shimano XTR Shadow +
Front Der: Shimano XTR
Cassette: Shimano XTR - 36/11
Chain: Shimano XTR
Seatpost: KS Lev Dropper
Saddle: Specialized
Stem: Thomson X4 50mm
Handlebar: Easton Haven Riser
Tires: Maxxis High Roller front and WTB Wolverine rear
Front Brake Rotor: Shimano ICE Tech 180mm
Rear Brake Rotor: Shimano ICE Tech 160mm

Bottom line: "Playful" bike that wants to be flicked around.  It hides its travel and pedals very well... but keep this thing pointed downhill to really see it shine.

Lap 3 - Tallboy LTc
Frame: XL 2013 Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc (Matte black / orange)
Fork: Fox 34 Float 29 140 FIT CTD w/ trail adjust
Shock: Fox Float CTD w/ trail adjust
Wheels: ENVE Twenty9 AM on Chris King 28h hubs
Brakes: Shimano XTR Trail
Shifters: Shimano XTR SL
Crankset: Shimano XTR 42/30 Chainrings
Rear Der: Shimano XTR Shadow +
Front Der: Shimano XTR
Cassette: Shimano XTR - 36/11
Chain: Shimano XTR
Seatpost: Fox D.O.S.S. dropper
Saddle: WTB Silverado Carbon
Stem: Thomson X4 70mm
Handlebar: ENVE DH Riser (cut to 780mm)
Grips: Grips: ODI Flangeless Longneck
Tires: WTB Vigilante TCS front and WTB Wolverine rear
Front Brake Rotor: Ashima Airotor 180mm
Rear Brake Rotor: Ashima Airotor 160mm

Bottom line: The "monster truck" that will eat any trail and is the most forgiving of the bunch.  Great combination of all day pedal-ability and fun factor.  Can't help but smile when this one takes you for a ride.

Lap 4 - Highball C
Frame: XL 2013 Santa Cruz Highball c (Matte black / silver)
Fork: Fox 32 Float 29 100 FIT CTD w/ trail adjust
Wheels: ENVE Twenty9 XC on 32h hubs.  ethirteen xcx front and DT 340s rear
Brakes: Shimano XTR Race
Shifters: Shimano XTR SL
Crankset: Shimano XTR 39/26 Chainrings
Rear Der: Shimano XTR Shadow +
Front Der: Shimano XTR
Cassette: Shimano XTR - 36/11
Chain: Shimano XTR
Seatpost: Thomson Masterpiece 30.9
Saddle: WTB Silverado Carbon
Stem: Thomson X4 90mm
Handlebar: Easton Haven Riser
Grips: ODI Flangeless Longneck
Tires: WTB Nano front and rear
Front Brake Rotor: Ashima Airotor 160mm
Rear Brake Rotor: Ashima Airotor 140mm

Bottom line: The "racer."  A true speed machine with amazing acceleration and climbing ability while also being nimble and quick in the turns.  Though very lightweight, it stays grounded and stable at speed also making it a good all day rider.