observations on gear, adventure, and the world

Mountain

Back in the saddle – quick review on grips and gloves.

Been hitting the trails at the north end of the Salt Lake Valley. They are pretty rocky and steep, and as it happens I’m a fan of the rocky and steep stuff.

Quick gear note: Gloves and grips.

First thing is you have to think about these as a system. Because it’s ultimately how they work together that will matter to you.

I’m running ESI chunky grips and a pair of thin SixSixOne gloves. This set up has performed well on rides up to three hours (haven’t been on any longer than that this season… it’s been a weird season).Image

Some highlights: The gloves have a nice thin palm, very breathable back, and nice thumb patch. For me MTB gloves are all about protecting your hands from cuts and blisters, because  tire pressure, fork set-up and grips should take care of most of the padding work. Maybe this is personal preference but for anything under 5 hours I don’t really want any big pads under my hands. On a longer ride, like the High Cascades 100 I’ll roll out in something like this and then switch to a more padded road-style glove.

As far as the ESI grips go, I’ll admit that when things get longer than five hours I do want a little bit under my hand, and opt for and Ergon, but otherwise I would ride these bare handed with no worries… except for it I have to put a hand in the dirt, or get whipped by twigs, or on a really washboarded bit bump my shifters too much.

So this is a highly recommended setup again with the sub-five-hour caveat.


Corner Canyon Race Report

So, I’m not even going to try to match the pathos of Yount’s last race report, but, at the very least so that Sponsors know that their products are seeing dirt in addition to chip-seal, I’ll keep filing MTB reports.

Memorial Day. For the last five years, I’ve said no to every in-law sponsored barbecue and thrown down at the Stan Crane Memorial ICUP Race. Plagued by rain this race has had more than it’s share of rain delays, but in spite of the high chance of wacky last minute lets-avoid-confronting-the-fact-that-Corner-Canyon-is-knee-deep-in-mud course reroutes this is a race to not miss. First, it’s our backyard. Second, the course is always AMAZING. Scott Miles, Jessica’s uncle and long-time friend of the shop, is the mastermind behind the brilliant collection of trails and impeccable course markings. If you don’t have fun or you get lost during this race, go to the hospital – you are having a stroke.

We had six riders show up and all of them were in the top ten, some of those in VERY stacked fields. Since the venue is so conveniently located, everyone makes it out to this race and some of the locals can make up a lot of time on the extremely long working descent of the Rush Trail.

Curt Bates and Sam Wolf did battle with a swollen 50+ Mens field and if their race was anything like mine, several riders who really knew the trails were able to make up for a bit of fitness on the descent. Curt came in 8th at 2:05 and Sam six minutes later at 2:11. A little lower on the pole than normal, but I saw them at the end of the race looking very strong so I’ve got high expectations for these guys next week at the state championship up at Deer Valley. I’ve got to say that seeing Curt and Sam at all of the races is great. Since Jessica and I are focusing on the cross season this year we are doing a lot more riding in the dirt – don’t get me wrong the dirt is a fun place to play – but it can get a bit lonely.

Scott Allen deserves a good serving of recognition for his tenth place in the Men’s Pro Race. I can’t ever tell how old Scott is, but I’m sure he could go pick on the guys in some masters category with his eternal youth, but instead he shows up to a field that is really a who’s-who of mountain bike racing in the intermountain west and pulls out a top ten with aplomb. Seriously impressive, sir!

Speaking of impressive (with bias of course), Jessica has been having a really ground breaking mountain bike season. With no more than a handful of mountain bike races over her rather short cycling career, the girl has really brought the heat. Her first race in Womens Cat II she won by something like three minutes, and in Cat I she’s been nipping at the top step of the podium since the upgrade! The Corner Canyon course this week was really a challenge (for everyone I’m sure) for her as the descent of the Rush Trail was a twenty-plus minute free ride shred fest. Her solid third place is a testament to the huge improvements she’s made this year as a technical rider. Great things to come!

My favorite result though, was seeing Scott Miles who had been out marking the course since five in the morning tearing it up in the Mens 57+ category, drifting turns and hammering out a top ten!

I came up with my best ever mountain bike finish in the Cat II field. I had the luxury of grabbing the wheel of the guy who won. Then getting dropped by him and riding a rather comfortable pace just defending my second place since it was clear that he was climbing a bit faster than me and descending like a madman. I figured if he crashed I’d get him, so I played it safe. Happy with my result? Sure, but I’m more stoked about seeing bunch of people turn in inspiring performances!

Lastly a shout out to the Specialized 29er Bikes and tires we were running. The Renegade and the Fasttrack, tubeless on Eastons (Jessica has the Haven wheels and I’m running a stock pair of Rovals that both set up impeccably with the 2bliss tires) were perfect for the conditions, since we’d been getting rain the two days before… now that things are drying up we’re looking for some bigger tread (though the fast track is still surprising me in the dust and sand).


Tires, quick race update, and some miscellany

I’ll have a full report at soon as the results are up, but the Girl and and I both made the walk-up section of the podium!

Now on to tires.

The Renegades on my Stupjumper (now they are on the Girl’s bike).

Since my last post the Girl has been running Specialized’s Renegare tubeless on her Easton Havens while I’ve been running the Fast Track, also tubeless, on my Roval’s. Both have been great for the transition from spring riding when hero dirt made the Renegade/Raven combo rideable. But now the temps are roaring toward 80+ and it’s time to think about summer conditions.

Well, WTB is one of the Girl’s clients and so she decides to shoot her contact there an email and see what he has to say about tires. His response blew my mind, so I’m going to post some excerpts:

Tires, always fun. Sandy-ish, around Salt Lake, dry and relatively hard soil with almost a loose crust on top I imagine.

Spot on! When I read that he had me hooked. A rep that know’s Salt Lake soil… I’m all ears (or eyes since I was reading the email with my eyes).

If you’re looking for a serious race setup, I’d go with a Wolverine 2.2 AM TCS front tire and a Nano 2.1 TCS rear tire. The reason I choose the Wolverine is that if things are hard beneath the slight bit of loose soil on top – as in almost rock beneath, the knobs on the Wolverine

are really well supported – even on the harder rock beneath, they

won’t squirm.

If you find that you’re dealing more with sandy conditions that are a

little bit deeper, I’d go with the Bronson 2.1 TCS as the front tire.

You need to be dealing with sand that’s deep enough for the isolated

blocks of the Bronson to be able to truly sink in through enough depth

to provide grip. Don’t run the Bronson if you’ve got mostly rock hard

type soil or rock lying right beneath your sand because the outer

knobs can feel less than ideal on extremely hard surfaces.

Not only did he nail the dust-on-crust conditions, his estimation of the Branson echo’s perfectly what I read over at Twenty Nine Inches, however now that I read this, they might just be running the wrong tire – admitedly something that thrives on rocks and sand seems like it should be run south of Price in the Northern Mojave (St George and Moab etc).

Either way, run the Nano 2.1 TCS on the rear, it is fast no matter what, very consistent, awesome rear tire, especially for race

applications. …Your wheels are UST and all our TCS tires use a TCS bead and adhere to UST measurement in diameter so TCS is the right choice for you.

Here are links to the tires in question:

The Nano.

The Wolverine.

And now some miscellany:

Gear:30 Just got back from Rainer and has some great posts on gear choices: Rainier Gear Regrets

Will Gadd, climber of ice and rock has some good tips on climbing AND has made the leap to 29ers!

Great canyoneering resources: Biner Blocks, Pull Cords and All That Jazz


Race Report: Showdown at 5-Mile Pass

I wrote this origenally as a race report for the Canyon Race Team – so the tone is a little different from what I usually post. More hubris.

The longest race of the Intermountain Cup Series is always a dusty suffer fest at Five Mile Pass. At 11 miles per lap of rocky rolling double track it’s the perfect course for absolutely nobody. Even people who can run uphill with their bike on the back in ankle deep dust.

This year’s race saw some great racing. The strongest representation for the team was in the Men’s 50+ category with Curt Bates throwing down the Watts on the steep punchy climbs and busting away from the Wolfe-man and a couple other sinewy characters in the last quarter lap to take the win with style. Sam rolled, in calm and collected as always, two minutes, two seconds, and two riders later for fourth place.

Or so I assume, because while Expert Women and Single Speed did 2.5 laps, the 50+ men did two, so Jessica and I missed their final moments, though when Curt made his move I was there too see it (5 mile has a long downhill false flat
where all of the geared categories come flying by the those of us with balls too big for gears).

The Expert Women went off one minute before the Single Speed Category, so, while Jessica was duking it out with the likes of Lori Harward and the Revolution ladies, I was turning my 36X18 as fast as I could trying to prove that I’m still faster than her! I caught them on the big running section and charged past – when you have legs as big as mine you take the advantage when you have it. On my way through the Expert Women I saw the third place single speeder in the black and yellow of Utah Mountain Biking.com went pretty deep into the red to pass him on the run up, because having someone run past you while you are walking messes with your head. My hope was that my psychological warfare would end his race and I could just concentrate on keeping my gap to Jessica and the rest of the podium to respectable amounts. Unfortunately, my rigid carbon fork doesn’t do the rocky descents like a squishy fork and Mr. UTMTB.com closed the gap on the descent and made me pay for the matches I burned on the run up.

Then we hit the flats and Jessica came charging by with a couple of the expert ladies in tow, while I spun my gear at a cool 300 rpm. Jessica and I spent the rest of the race passing each other which was fun, since we do most of our training together it was cool to go 100% together. The whole time I was keeping the Yellow and Black of third place in sight hoping to catch him the next trip up the run up. Coming through for the second lap I dropped Jessica and took off to make my move for the podium.

I made the pass on the climb, but with less authority than I needed. Got caught on the descent and fought to keep eye on third until during a long downhill through a rocky river bed I lost my chain. Really. On a single speed – embarrassing. Fixed it quick but had to baby it a little and lost a lot of speed. While I was dealing with the mechanical Jessica and another Expert Woman came flying by. I took off after them and passed them back on some of the short climbs. Then the Men 50+ caught us and we got to see Curt make his move.

Jessica and I came through the start finish just after Curt took the W and just before Sam took fourth, and headed out for our half lap – which was really less than half of a lap but who cares. I got a gap then dropped my chain again, and Jessica caught and passed me. I passed her back and then 10 yards from the line dropped the chain again. Looked back and saw Jessica in full sprint mode so I shouldered the bike and ran like hell only to get chicked at the line by Jessica, who ended up second in her race only by 30 seconds!

Great show all around! I’ll point out that I still won the Morris race, because Jessica had a head start. Also Jessica has made HUGE improvement as a bike handler and is really shredding trail this year.

A shout out to Mike Oblad for taking the W in the Clydesdale division, I’d say more but he started and finished while I was chasing Jessica and trying to stay away from Curt and Sam!

All told, a great weekend for the team: Two wins, a second, and two fourths. Since mountain podiums are four deep, thats five Canyon kits arms up on the podium!


A good day on the bike

A bit of time on the Ninja Stick 6niner. A little warm up on the sandy Lower Corner Canyon single track, then BST south, up the Potato Hill trail to Ann’s to Hog Hollow a little steep climb when I went the wrong way and climbed up to one of Utah County’s MANY unmarked shooting ranges. Then back up Hog Hollow to Jacob’s Ladder and then back to the car on hero dirt. Image

Oh… also we were doing VO2 intervals. Not fun on a single speed. When the interval ends you can’t spin unless you are lucky enough to finish at the top of a hill. I just wasn’t lucky… at all.


That single track shot.

I’m in love with single track.

Area 51 in the Timp Foothills with the Ninja Stick 6niner

I know there’s only so many ways a guy like me, slinging an iPhone camera that is useually covered in sweat and grime, can get a good shot of trail after trail after trail. But I still love putting a foot down and trying to capture the magic of another twisty trail.

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Slickrock before the lawnmowers come out at 9:00 AM


Pump Review: Specialized Air Tool Pro

What I need from a pump is simple.

I need it to seal on a presta valve stem. I need it to let go of a presta valve stem. I need accurate pressure readings from 10 to 120 psi.

I air up a lot of tires. We race a lot on the dirt so a good seal and gauge are important to dial the perfect psi for the conditions. I set up a lot of tires tubeless so I need the seal to be perfect so that I can set the bead up and hear leaks without having to take the pump off. Also, I’ve had pumps rip out valve stems. Unacceptable.

And I need it to last.

In my experience for a pump to be a reliable workhorse (ie one you use every day for more than one bike) it needs to be metal and will probably run about $60 retail minimum. You need replaceable parts, usually the head and the hose. Hoses don’t wear seem to wear out often, but are the  most exposed to damage. The seal in the head does wear out. Using the pump on non presta valves just wears out the seal faster.

The Specialized Air Tool Pro

I just replaced the hose and head on my three-year-old Air Tool Pro, and it works like a charm. The replacement parts cost $10. Now I’m $70 into a pump after three years. I’d have gone through a $30 pump every 6 months other wise (in fact that is the rate I go through $30 pumps).

There are alot of floor pumps out there in the $30 range, in fact we keep one in the trunk of our car for trailhead and race day pressure checks, but trailhead pumps see a fraction of the use that my shop pump does. Generally I’d just say, go buy a $60+ pump, but there are good number of pumps that are charging you for features you don’t need. Either get a $30 pump or a pump made  of metal with available replacement parts and no features. The Air Tool Pro has what you need, so if you’re going through pumps go get one.