Mar 27, 2008

Issue #2 Now Available!

Cyclocross Magazine's second issue is hot off the presses!

If you already subscribe, you've either got your hands on it, or will shortly. If not, you can subscribe here.

Issue #2 is jam-packed with tech articles, product reviews and interviews with all the winners at 'cross nationals in KC. Not just the pros, we mean everyone, juniors, masters, you name it, we got'em.

Mar 23, 2008


I took my youngest brother and his friend out west for a few days of singletrack bliss in the wide open spaces of the western slope. Taylor and Graham are accomplished riders, with skills beyond there 17 years. Neither had rode Fruita or Moab before. This was their rite of passage.

I've led several groups to Moab. My favorite part of these trips is watching my friend's reactions to the vast landscapes.

There were quite a few people on spring break. We met people from all over the country. Most everyone was on blinged-out five and six-inch full suspension rigs. I only saw one other singlespeeder. To my surprise, I received several derisive comments on the combination of 29" wheels, rigid and singlespeed. Apparently that's not the proper bike to ride in Moab...

My default gearing of 32:18 suited the fast, flowy trails of Fruita. I did switch to 32:20 for the steeper grades of Slickrock. With the exception of several sections of Moore Fun these gearings made everything rideable.

On the way back we stopped at Spot Brand HQ in Golden Colo. to meet and greet the nice folks building my new ride. Gavin, Spot's product manager, was nice enough to give us a tour. Lots of cool stuff in the works!

Mar 14, 2008

Back in the saddle

As I had alluded to, 2008 ushers in many changes — new job(s), new goals and a new race team.

I've joined up with the Spot Brand / Dales Pale Ale crew to race bikes and spread belt-drive goodness. Spot is a company I have a great deal of respect for; it's nice to see them back with a vengeance. Spot has put together a strong roster and a great group of sponsors.

My team gear is starting to trickle in and I'm patiently awaiting the arrival of my team-issue frame. Can't wait!

Mar 12, 2008

Stan's No Tubes

I have a love-hate relationship with No-Tubes.

As a shop-rat I would mount No-Tubes conversions using an air compressor. Ninety percent of the time it works. For the other 10 percent, I would remove the valve core and use a schrader air chuck to get the maximum air volume into the tire fast enough to seat the tire without having sealant spew everywhere.

Done, ready to ride. Well kinda.

Tubeless works well, when it works – we're talking about non-UST here. Flat protection and better ride quality are why I do it. The downside is that on the trail you may not be able to re-seat a tire. So you throw a tube in and you're back to square one.

A few days ago I mounted a new pair of Continental Mountain Kings – 29x2.2 – on my Stan's 355 rims. I try to not rely on a compressor; I want all my setups to be "field serviceable" come race day. The Mountain Kings fit loose enough that they wouldn't seal with a floor pump.

Luckily there's a quick and easy fix for many loose fitting tires, just build-up the tape. I use 3M strapping tape, cheap, readily available and strong. A few layers on the rim and everything seated with a confident "snap."

Tubeless Tips: To ensure your tires hold air I've found the following works well.

1. Once inflated, hold the wheel with both hands and tap the tire against the ground while rotating the wheel. This ensures the bead is seated.

2. As soon as you've got the bead seated and the tire appears to be holding air put your wheels back on your bike and take it for a couple of laps around the block. This helps the sealant cover the entire surface of the tire.

3. If using tubeless conversions with non-UST rated tires do not exceed 40 PSI. If you inflate standard tires set up tubeless much higher than this, the force exerted on the tire can exceed the tensile strength of the bead. Boom! the bead fails and you are left covered in goop, with a ruined tire, looking like an idiot – been there.

More tubeless setup info can be found here.

It seems everyone who runs tubeless conversions has their own approach to making it work. One of these days I'll get around to brewing my own sealant.

Mar 11, 2008

Weekend on the La Cruz

This showed up at my doorstep last Monday. The Salsa La Cruz, disc brake equipped 'cross bike, to review for CxM. I didn't have time to put any miles on it until the weekend. Even without riding it, I liked what I saw. It has three things I look for in a bike: a ferrous frame, disc brakes and a well-appointed component spec.

I had a choice: spend Sunday logging in gravel miles, or race mountain bikes on what I knew would be a very muddy course. I choose the latter. The Midwest Fat Tire Series promoters decided not to cancel the race. Instead they made an alternate course, which included XC ski trails, gravel roads and some paved sections. It was less a mountain bike race than it was a really long 'cross race. I figured this was the perfect trial-by-fire for the La Cruz.

I pulled the stock Panaracer Crossblasters off and replaced them with a pair of Ritchey Zeds - 700x42. These were my Dirty Kanza tires two years ago. I figured the nature of the race course – relatively flat, smooth, nothing technical – would favor 'cross bikes over mountain bikes.

For the most part I was right. What I didn't count on was the thick mud that made even gentle inclines a slog. The combination of gumbo mud and longstem grass quickly made every rider's drivetrain, seatstays and chainstays a sodden mess. As a result, I quickly found myself over geared – 48/38 in the front combined with a 12-27 cassette in the rear – and spent the modicum of fitness I had in my legs.

My first impressions of the La Cruz are favorable, it's not quick, but predictable. It handled everything I threw at it, and even if it was not the perfect bike for the course, it was good enough for a 4th place expert finish.

...I like to think of it as 'the first place cross bike.'

Mar 5, 2008


Every now and then something reminds me how glad I am to live in Lawrence, Kan. This morning it was opening the Journal World and reading the two front page stories. One delt with a curbside recycling proposal, the second was about a Northern River Otter spotted in the Baker Wetlands. This is the first time in over a hundred years this critter has been seen in the region. Other cities would have relegated this story to page 10A. Not Lawrence, we're proud of our water weasel.

Lawrence is a little town with something for everyone. Esquire Magazine recently named the Replay as one of the “The Best Bars in America.” It's got friggin' Pabst Blue Ribbon Bowling, how could it not make this list!

Other accolades the city has recieved include being one of the best cities to retire in and best cities to educate your children in. lists Lawrence, Kan. as one of the "Top 10 Smartest Cities In America." Other Midwestern cities that made the list are Madison Wis. and Columbia, Mo. Number one on the list is the People's Republic of Boulder. Which, having lived there, would make the list for the top 10 flakiest cities in America. offense.

Mar 1, 2008

Saturday gravel century

The crew at Heartland Sports Productions canceled the first race of the season. Good call.
After a winter like this the trails will take a while to drain. Saturday's forecast called for sunny skies, warm temps and high winds. The trails may be too soggy but it was a great day to ride gravel.

When the wind is out of the south, prevailing wisdom says one should head south into the wind, and then enjoy the tailwind on the ride home. I said screw-it. The roads I wanted to explore were to the North. My only goal was to get myself lost. I rolled out of Lawrence, across the river bottom and into the hills. The mosquito drone of Michelin Muds on hardpacked country roads was a welcome sound; it's been at least a month since I've done anything more than commute.

I knew I'd have a hard ride back when I checked my GPS as I rode up the first big climb: 21.8mph, uphill on gravel—feels great now, will hurt later. The local mutt population was in full force today and gave chase every chance they had.

For the most part, the roads were in premium condition. Only in the lowlands had fresh gravel had been laid. The ride back was as expected, half the speed of the ride out—fighting to stay upright and maintain momentum.

What a great first day of March. I got some base miles in and managed get a farmers tan too.