observations on gear, adventure, and the world


A new place to lean your bike.

The Girl and I with a little help from Brother Seth and S-n-L Martha and a very very sleepy Father in Law packed up ampersand HQ on Sat and moved it to City Creek Canyon area. We are psyched.

Got in a little spin this morning. Five minutes to dirt. That five minutes is pretty steep pavement but WOW.

The trails up here are no corner canyon but they are athletic and technical so what they lack in buttery smoothness they make up for in toughness.



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.

Winter/Cold/Wet Riding Gear

A snow storm is no excuse not to train, but if you are reaching for your 75$ softshell overshoes… don’t. Go ski. Go run. Don’t ride.

But for the rest of the times here are some recommendations:

Cold weather riding gear

Before I give you the full list, here are the top performers:

Warm, weather proof, and shiny!

(1) Pearl Izumi Barrier Lite Shoe Covers. Takes a little practice to get these on and off since they are like little plastic socks.Totally water proof and wind proof, and they go up high enough on your leg that they’ll keep spray from hitting your sock and wicking wetness into your shoe. paired with a water resistant tight you could do quite well on very wet rides. What you need the most out of a shoe cover is a wind break, your feet are working they just need to not have the convective and evaporative heat loss and you’ll be toasty for hours, as long as you are actually pedaling, and you preserve circulation in your feet. Since you’re wearing the shoes you ride in the summer and you fit them with a rather light weight sock, don’t try to cram a huge sock in there. You’ll lose circulation and make your feet colder. Go for a light wool sock like the deFeet Wooleator.
(2) Gloves. Lots of good options out there, none better in my opinion than these cold weather construction gloves. Really. Pearl Izumi has a lot of expensive options but none compair when it gets cold and wet.

Now for the list:
Specialized S-works shoes
deFeet Wooleators
Gator neoprene under-sock-toe covers
Pearl Izumi Barrier Lite
Specialized knee warmers
Two pairs of capo bibs
Merino wool long sleeve shirt (if temps are above 45 this will be too much)
Capo Long sleeve jersey (Great up to 60 degrees)
Sl rain cape (in pocket for descending)
Smartwool thin balaclava (rolled up like a beanie)
Prevail helmet and specialized glasses (Remember how well ventilated top of the line helmets are! make sure you have a hat when the temps get below 50, or when it’s wet and cool)
Boss Arktik Extreame oil rig gloves.

Today we rode at an upper endurance pace, it was windy and 45-55, I opted for a lighter hat, a summer jersey under my LS jersey in place of the wool shirt and one pair of bibs. I like double bibs for the first few long rides of the season while my “soft tissue” and skin gets reacquainted with the saddle.


“I was not planning this,” Boonen said. “But when I arrived in the front with Niki and he dropped off, I was thinking, ‘Ok, I already have won Flanders. Why not try to win my fourth Paris-Roubaix in a very special way?’”

Sadly the move that made the race happened before this coverage starts. But watching Tomeke thrash the cobbles at 35 mph on his own is just beautiful.

Here is the move, with Russian comentary (which is very good incidentally, best line right after the move, “The boys in the group are preying to God for someone strong enough to chase Tom down, but doubting they’ll get an answer today.”):

When Boonan is strong he wins this race. Why? He rides at the front. Here’s a snip from Velonews that captures it:

The pressure a rider uses is determined by a lot of different factors. Rider size, tire size, tire casing rigidity, weather, rider skill and elapsed tire pressure drop for a given tire all play into what is best described as an artistic science experiment.

It is no surprise that larger riders often ride higher pressures, but Tom Boonen rides some of the lowest pressures in the peloton. With skill and often an unobscured view, Boonen can run extremely low pressures for a rider of his size. Others, struggling to stay on a wheel mid-pack end up hitting unforeseen holes and must put their pressure a bit higher to avoid compressing the tire to the rim bed.

It seems every time Boonan wins someone is crashing off of his wheel, or flatting out of the race.

Here is a full hour of the Flanders coverage. Say what you will about Phil and Paul (Yes they do refer to “One, a Lance Armstrong” once (though just once) but the are brilliant and enthusiastic commentators who really understand the appeal of these rites of spring, the Classics.