Thursday, May 9, 2013

Clearing My Head - Prairie City Race Series #6

Nothing like a long bike ride, a hard workout with tough competition, fun course and being surrounded by hundreds of awesome people to help clear my head!
Photo Credit- Brian Joder

Last night was the 6th race of this years Prairie City Race Series and it was a good one!  Some new, tough competition showed up from out of town... Brodie Stringer and Gareth Feldstein from team Muscle Milk / Specialized and Kurt Wolfgang of P1/2 road team Squadra SF (who just won Boggs 8hr last weekend, on a single speed!).  In addition to those there's always pressure from locals Cody Kaiser, Ron Shevock and others.

I didn't know quite how I'd feel, after not riding the day before, the weekend before, and getting in just a few rides last week while out in Colorado.  I certainly wasn't feeling as... um... "lean" as usual after the time off and indulging in some "comfort food" the night before (Jen made AWESOME gf/df lemon bars!), but my hour long ride out to the venue from work helped warm me up.
Photo Credit- Paul Stewart

The first lap was quite fast and the three MM/Spec guys were working together which got me a little worried.  So on the second half of the lap when the course got tight and a little more techy, I went to the front to try and push the pace.
Photo Credit- Tim Westmore

By lap two it was Kurt and I out front working together as we started to get into lapped traffic.  With nearly constant "On your left!" "On your right!" we worked our way through the hundreds of riders out there for the remaining laps and pushed each other... hard!  My left pedal is getting quite loose and my foot came flying out a few times, so my ability to sprint was hindered, but thankfully the Tallboy makes it easy to put down good power while seated.

On the last lap, Kurt got a gap on me when I had to check up for a lapped rider in a corner before passing, but about a half mile later he got held up by some traffic on a sketchy climb (love those cobbles!) so I was able to catch back up.
Photo Credit- Paul Stewart

I went to the front in the same spot as lap 1, thinking that with the course layout and traffic there might not be another opportunity to pass.  With about a 1/4 mile to go, I hugged the inside of a corner and Kurt had enough room and momentum to attack the outside and went by.  I stayed on his wheel and we were hammering the last rollers, but with the final sweeping turn being just one lane in the cobbles I ran out of real estate before the finish line to come in 2nd.

After the race I did some more riding around the park and had some fun playing on some of the trails that aren't normally part of the race courses.  This was actually my first ride on a new pair of ENVE 29xc wheels, this time paired with Chris King hubs on a 28 spoke count instead of 32.  I have to say that the engagement on the King hubs is every bit as awesome as they're reported to be (even with the "angry bee" freewheel sound!) and the wheels are still wonderfully stiff with four fewer spokes.  I put them to the test, accidentally, casing a double off camber with the front which led me towards a ditch where I totally bottomed out the rear end hard.  Both wheels still true as ever...

It felt great to have such hard, close racing out there and to really be pushed by strong riders.  It really helped clear my thoughts and help me move on to keep doing what I need to do, realize just how blessed I am to have had the Highball in the first place and to have other great bikes to ride as well.  But more importantly to reflect on just how awesome and supportive this MTB community is!  Thanks to everyone who expressed their condolences and who are on the watch for my stolen Highball.  And thanks to Tony, Brian, and the rest of the PCRS crew for an awesome course and event.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alert: Stolen Highball Carbon

Well my new Highball was stolen from the parking garage at my work in Sacramento yesterday at about 3:30pm.  Please keep an eye out for the complete bike or any of these parts someone may be selling at a swap meet or something.  Here's a couple photos and the build spec.  Thank you.

Build Spec:
Frame: XL 2013 Santa Cruz Highball c (matte carbon / green)
Fork: Fox 32 Float 29 100 FIT CTD w/ Trail Adjust
Wheels: ENVE Twenty9 XC on Chris King 28h hubs
Brakes: Shimano XTR Trail
Shifters: Shimano XTR SL
Crankset: Shimano XTR Race - 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 Devo SLT
Stem: Thomson X4 100mm
Handlebar: Easton Haven Riser
Grips: ODI Flangeless Longneck
Tires: WTB Prowler SL
Front Brake Rotor: Ashima Airotor 160mm
Rear Brake Rotor: Ashima Airotor 140mm
Bottle Cages: Blackburn camber carbon cage on downtube and titanium cage on vertical tube.
Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy 4Ti (Red/Gold)

And if you're on Facebook, please share this photo from our team page with the build info as well: Facebook Info: Stolen Highball

Monday, May 6, 2013

Riding in the Rockies and a Cannondale Synapse 5 Review

Last week I had the opportunity to head out to Denver and take advantage of some training for my “real” job.  Of course I still wanted to get some riding in, so I started calling some local Santa Cruz dealers and asking if they might have a familiar ride that I could use for a few days.  Tom from Pedal of Littleton went above and beyond.  While he didn’t have a Santa Cruz in his demo fleet available for me to use, he offered up his personal Highball!  Awesome!  I was stoked that I’d have the chance to go check out some sweet Colorado riding.  But on Monday evening when I got into town, I heard mention of a snow storm coming in on Wednesday.  A quick check of the weather forecast confirmed… Doh!  Once I got to the shop, I talked it over with Tom and decided that a road bike would be my best option considering the weather.  He set me up with a Cannondale Synapse Alloy 5, an aluminum road bike, and told me about a fast group practice Crit that rolls in the area on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s I could hit up.

So Tuesday evening I rolled on down to the Meridian business park and joined in with about 25 others.  It was only 41 degrees and less with the wind chill which meant I could wear leg warmers to cover up my hairy legs J, but  I think I still stood out with my MTB shoes and Santa Cruz / Fox kit.  The group was nice and I sat in for the first few laps and then took my turn out front when it came time to catch a breakaway.  I had a good time and it was great to join up with the group to push me for an hour.  Afterwards, there was still some daylight so I went on exploring and eventually found the newly build Cherry Creek MTB Park.  This place is sweet!  There are a ton of nice features (drops, rock climbs and descents, and skills areas) all packed into a pretty small space.  A lot of work went into it and I had fun riding around on the singletrack, hopping the water bars and trying to navigate the switchbacks on the road bike.
On Wednesday it snowed… all day.  Big fluffy flakes and accumulated over a foot in places.  It was beautiful, but quite the change from the upper 80’s we’d been getting back home!
Thursday it was clear but still quite cold.  My training class ended a little early so I opted to skip the practice crit and head for the Rockies!  I pedaled out and around Mt. Morrison and climbed up “Grapevine Rd.” which mostly consisted of a well maintained dirt road.  I only had to stop once for a herd of white tail deer before making it across the next valley and heading up towards Lookout Mountain. 

There were some pretty awesome views looking back towards downtown Denver to the East, the city of Golden to the North, and the big Rockies to the west.

The final descent down to Golden was fun but COLD!  Once I finally made it to the bottom with frozen hands and feet (no winter gloves or shoe covers), I unfortunately didn’t have time to swing by the Coors factory but headed over to check out Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater which is definitely a unique place.

Although it was cold, it turned out to be an awesome 65 mile ride with over 5k feet of climbing. 

After a mock crit race and a decent climbing ride, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the Cannondale Synapse Alloy 5.  It wasn’t as “snappy” and stiff as my Giant TCR Composite but it still performed well in both settings.  I could sprint and keep up with the guys in the crit just fine without noticing too much flex under power.  And for the big ride it was pretty comfortable with the carbon fork and flattened chainstays providing some vertical compliance over rough roads.  It had the Shimano 105 components I was used to which were reliable and crisp.  The Shimano RS10 wheels were good for the price point and probably added to the overall comfort of the bike.  But I did notice their "softness" on the tighter corners coming down from Lookout Mountain.  They were also heavier than I'm used to so they didn't accelerate as quickly, but I think they're good for the price point.  Big thanks again to Pedal of Littleton for the loan, even though I really wanted to take out that Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon they had on the showroom floor!  Stop by if your in the area, the shop is nicely put together with a big inventory.  I of course had to pick up a shirt that just says “PEDAL.”  Nice and simple J.