Its always nice to run into these type of things. The other night I was struggling with motivation on a cold recovery ride type of day when Adam Mills and his dog came around the corner. Made the rest of the ride cruise by and I got a test ride on his sweet KCCX team issue Fuji CX bike with Reynolds Tubulars. That bike is really nice. Everyone needs deep dish Tubulars to ride trails. Makes me want to go do some cyclocross races....err, next year.
A few years back Chris Herting built me a 3D B-29er. I still ride it nearly everyday. Something about a custom metal mtb that just makes you want to ride. If you dont know him, and you probably dont, you should. He is probably the most famous bike builder that you have never heard of. All you really need to know is that he is one of the original Yeti guys and has been welding mountain bikes ever since. Those original crazy John Tomac Yetis were his handywork. He is one of those guys who builds the custom bikes that another brand puts their stickers on and stuff like that. The only reason I bring this up is because he finally made a website, er updated his early 90's website. If you want a custom bike I would highly recommend talking to Chris. He is extremely helpful and your bike will be built out of scandium or aluminum so it wont weigh two tons like a steel bike. Though, he does build with steel if you so prefer. Anyways...people always stop me on the trail and ask about my bike, so this is who built it.
On the aeroplane to the Hawaiian Islands I got caught up on some reading. Mat Hoffman's autobiography "the ride of my life" was up first. The Condor (hoffman) was just geting started in the world of Vert when I saw him in Oklahoma City in 1987. He was already famous for huge air. He and Dennis Mccoy were the best freestylers in the country and they were both from the middlewest (mccoy is from KC). Anyways, its a pretty interesting book on how some goofy freestyler grew into a businessman because he had to. If you know who he is, its worth reading.
Up next was the Steve Jobs Biography. That thing is plain thick. It took some serious dedication to get through it, but it was interesting. That guy was pretty much a jerk, but he makes cool computers. We got an Ipad for Xmas and it is sweet. Definitely worth your time if you are ready for 600 pages. If nothing else, by the time you get through it you want to throw all your PC's in the trash and go buy a Mac.
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Im lucky enough that this year Honey Stinger agreed to keep Katie from having to get a second job to support my waffle consumption habit for which we are both grateful. However, little do they know that they actually sponsored me last year as well. Honey Stinger has a booth set up at loads of races, handing out free samples to all that walk by. Some of us might walk back and forth dozens of times in a weekend. Some of might send our wives to the booth as well to get even more samples. The Pro Cycling Challenge Breckenridge booth alone fed me all day. Im getting hungry just typing about waffles.
This is my favorite spot for a waffle stop at Clinton Lake. Look closely and you can see the Stinger Waffle on the table waiting for consumption. That is product placement even before I got word that Honey Stinger was on board for 2012.
I can see again. Pivlocks for racing. Special orange frames because Its my favorite color. A whole load full of lenses for every condition or mood. A few more pairs of shades justs for style purposes. Sun Valley Utah is home of your USA National Championship and the best eyeball protection around. SMITH.
My ultra professional, expert level product review would say...
PivLocks are ridiculously light and they never fog up. They come with 3 lenses in the fancy schmancy case, clear, red, and whatever color you choose. Plus all Smiths are just plain comfortable. Ive been training in the same pair of Smiths for 4 years and they still look like new. Katie Compton just crushed the cyclocross nationals with the orange PivLocks and im pretty sure a scientific test would have shown she couldnt have done that in any other sunglasses.
The first year I raced my mountain bike was the second year of the new technology developed by Hutchinson and Mavic, UST tubeless. There wasnt much of a choice, Mavic CrossmaxSL wheels and Hutchinson Pythons were mounted to my Giant XTC. This new technology of tubeless was great, I dont remember ever having a flat. Those tires eventually just wore out so as I always seem to do, if it aint broke, fix it anyways. Adam Craig rode a Giant XTC and used Michelin tires, so some gray Michelin Drys went onto my bike. This made sense because they matched my paint job perfectly. One race and two flats later, I was kicking myself and switching back to Hutchinson. (years later I learned that you dont pick tires by color). Then Studnicki was schooling everyone on his Epic so the next year I figured Id join him and it came with Specialized FastTrak UST. Great grip and indestructible but very heavy on a heavy bike. Stan came out with the newest technology, so NoTubes Olympic wheels and Kenda Karma tires were mounted and pounds were saved. Flat tires commenced. The weight weenie in me kept me on Karmas and two years later and tons of flat tires im going 29. Maxxis Crossmarks and 2 flats in 12miles of hell and those arent going to work. The huge wheels weigh a ton so back on come the Kenda Karmas and Small blocks. Bucketloads of dnf's and flat tires and after one season ive had enough. I get some Hutchinson Python 29 tires that are heavy. Before the winter is over I decide it would be better to ride 26 and heavy tires, which will still be lighter setup than the 29 with Karmas. Giant XTC Advanced is rounded up and team Giant is still riding Michelin so....Kelli Emmett of Giant has nothing but great things to say about the Dry2, except "stay away from the gray one, we call it gray death", see above problem with Michelins. Michelin comes on as my first tire sponsor and one pair lasts one race short of a season (16d nail in one side out the other). Excellent. That winter Michelin cancels their Team Michelin program so I go looking for another brand. Enter Maxxis and their huge range of tires. I sign up as a GrassRoots racer and a few weeks later I get an email from Ralph at Michelin that their program is still over but the existing racers can still get tires. Damn, Maxxis Aspens are already in route. It takes maybe 6 Aspens to get through the season, acceptable. Plus I like the tires. For the first time, I stick with the same brand for another season. When 2011 started I had a dozen Aspens and Ikons, when it ended I had burned through all those and then some.
When you have a hardtail and a dually you have to think about which one to ride at every race. If you have the luxury of a large selection of tires to choose from you then have to decide which one of those is going to be best. Inevitablly, some sort of switching is in order and you would rather be laying on the bed resting. So I did away with the first problem, its all Scalpel all year. The simplest and best year I ever had tire wise was Team Michelin, one choice. So it only makes sense to go back to what works.
And the choice of Wild Racer in the dry and...
Wild Grip'r in the wet
Thanks to Richard at Backcountry Research ive got a whole bevy of awesomeness for this year. Without a doubt the new Race Strap has got to be worth 20-30 watts on any climb. I really hate to due away with electrical taping a tube to my stem, but Im thinking this has got to be the better way. Plus I was using up an awful lot of electrical tape that I had to steal from various electricians around town.
I plan on styling all sorts of different colors of Awesomeness throughout the season, because you never want your co-racers to see you wearing the same strap to often.
Syllamos Registration is tomorrow, 100 miles or 50???? Hmm.
Basically, I will race against everyone under 39 for an "overall" and also be scored against the 30-35 age group at the same time. The prizes will be given out for this "overall" and the age group stuff is for USA cycling scoring.
When I first read this plan I guess I came down on the side of the 50+ guys who are concerned about not having their own class and having to compete with some guy who is 40 for their portion of the "overall". So I went to the most successful series in the United States, WORS. Not that they know everything, but they are doing something right as shown by their WORS Annual Report. This changed my tune.
Wors does it even simpler then the new UFD plan. They essentially run 3 races every weekend. Cat. 3, Cat. 2, and Cat. 1. ( i know there are ladies and juniors also). Every age group lines up together and has at it within their Category. So at 9 am the Cat. 3 race starts, at 10:30 the Cat. 2 race starts, and at 12:00 the Cat. 1/Elite race starts. Then the officials score each Category in their age group (30-35, 36-40, etc) for USA Cycling purposes. They dont even worry about breaking it up with the 39/under, 40+ system. They do give awards something like 8 deep which is nice.
I think this is the way to do it. If UFD wants to use the 39 under/ 40+ system to cut down slightly on the amount of people on the trail I guess I understand that. This could cut down on the possibility of getting into lapped traffic to early. I think its more fun to have more people on the trail to race against rather than line up with 3 others and you already basically know what the finish order will be. Understandably it is going to be hard for a 55+ Doug Long to win the overall in the 40+ even though he is one of the faster guys in the nation in his age group. I guess I think I would see the challenge in beating as many "youngsters" as possible, but im not in that position so its hard to know for sure. To me, the essence of mountain biking is to go as fast as you can and push yourself as hard as possible and not worry about what size of trophy that equates to.
The big/epic races are gaining popularity. None of these races split things up by age group at the start, they dont even split things up by gender. Everyone lines up, and gives'er. Then the official sort things out by age group later. Rarely is a "master" going to be racing for the overall in this situation, but "masters" seem to love these races. Im not sure I see why XC racing should be any different.
Maybe im wrong?? When im 50 Ill get back to you.
I think the UFD is on the right track. Lets Race.