Winter Training 2014

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It has been cold this winter. Usually we get a mild winter with a dib and dab of cold in central Virginia. I have lived in Virginia going on 7 years now and this year seems to me the coldest in terms of consistency. So, what does that mean? It means you have to put on more layers and get it done. It would be easy to just put it off to spring but then you can bet on being behind and playing catch up is no fun. I have been riding the trainer a bit more and getting out in the white stuff and sliding around on the ice. Coming back in with fingers and toes that are stinging and screaming is quite common right now. Be assured though that spring will arrive and bliss will once again inhabit the winding single tracks across the land. As I write this, I have noticed that I haven’t written on this here blog in a quite a while. Let me catch those up who are my adoring fans.

I have some grand adventures and exciting goals for this year. I have picked up a few new sponsors. I’m building yet another bike, like I really need another…..of course I do. The formula for the number of bikes (x) one should own is (x+1)!!! Holding true to that mathematical constant I stay devoted.

Let me make mention of a few new sponsors that have stepped into the arena with me this year. I will be wearing the stylish and punk rock screaming cycling kits from Twin Six. I will be making ground contact on Vee Rubber treads as I make my way around the various terrain features of America.

My plans for the 2014 circus of chaos is still in the making. I’m getting close to nailing it all down and hope by the end of the month to have some sort of direction to follow. A couple of races that I’m stoked for and committed to this summer: 24 Hour US National Championships in New Mexico and 24 hours of Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. Stay tuned as there will be more to come in the way of wild adventures and racing this summer, possibly a stage race…who knows, maybe an ultra. I start racing in a few weeks and it will be interesting to see where Im at in regards to my fitness and endurance. I will be spending some time in the George Washington Nat. Forest in early March to hone in on my fitness for some fun racing in Virginia and Maryland that will lead me into my summer pursuits. I will be focusing more this year on single speed pursuits, so yes you will see me ripping it on the Lynskey Titanium 26er. Don’t underestimate the 26er, I have rocked that wheel size all up and down this here world. I will still rumble on the 29er here and there, diversity is good. Once spring arrives and I find my fitness, I look forward to another sweet year of pushing my limits and just maybe I will see you out there pushing your bike up some steep pitch and I will give you a slap on the butt, because I did my winter training. That being said, I must go out and train. It is 12 degrees up here at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia, but time doesn’t wait and if you want to go big you must live big!

Cheers,
Cap

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2,3,2,3 at the Hell Hole Gravel Grind Stage Race

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Credit: Brian Fancher Photography

I decided to take off down to South Carolina after I heard about a stage race on dirt in the Hell Hole Swamp. The name sounded intriguing and challenging, so I was sold. The Hell Hole Gravel Grind Stage Race is a 3 day affair and probably one of the most affordable. A cross bike is recommended and I just happened to have one although I had never raced the bike, much less ridden it very much. I figured this would be as good a time as any to use it and see what this was all about. I’m a mountain biker through and through, but I like change and the opportunity to experience new things. Plus, this could only benefit my mountain bike racing and fitness.

I knew it would be flat and that road racing tactics would be employed. I figured I had picked up on enough tactics from watching the Tour de France for the last several years. I made my way down south and arrived Friday afternoon. I wanted to pre-ride the prologue course which was a 6 mile individual time trial. The course was flat dirt roads with potholes strategically placed like land mines along the way to keep you alert and focused. My time came and I sprinted off the line 30 seconds behind another racer. I flat-out sprinted for 6 miles on skinny tires that had an inkling of tread laced around them. I caught and passed a few riders and I huffed and puffed my way to the end. I was a bit light-headed and gasping for breath upon finishing. I ended up taking 2nd in the Mens Open 40 Division, not bad.

Stage 1 was a 63 mile course that started on Saturday morning. I lined up and took off, but was too far back in the pack to get on the lead group. I spent most of my day working with several guys as we chased the group for the entire stage. The course even though flat was challenging due to the gravel, sand and potholes a plenty. Drafting was indeed necessary if you wanted to have any chance of a fast time, much less a podium spot. As the race progressed my group dwindled down to just a few. One of the guys was in my division and I knew we would have to sprint it out. Once we hit the pavement for the last few hundred yards, I put the hammer down and took the sprint finish. I ended up placing 3rd on the stage by 1 second. The day was incredibly fast as we averaged 20 mph for 63 miles on gravel roads that had a mind of their own. Definitely different from mountain bike racing, but I was starting to like this cross bike thing.

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Stage 2 was a 65 mile course that started on Sunday morning. This time I made sure I lined up near the front in order to get in on the lead group. I did and we started motoring out right away. Then all of a sudden the course veered into single track. I took a beating as I bounced across, into and over an octopus tangle of roots. I finally emerged from the darkness and back out onto a dirt-road. I was several hundred yards behind the group after getting knocked around on the single track. I knew that I was going to have to make an incredible effort to catch the group. I learned that once you separate from the group it is very difficult to get back on. I pushed myself deep to catch them and I did. Several riders had tagged on with me during the bridge and were thankful for my effort. It took me to the halfway point in the stage to recover from that effort. About the time I did, the group turned onto some roads that were overgrown with vegetation and such. For added measure every so often a downed tree would wake you back up as you either jumped it or made a quick exit over the handle bars. I was doing well and as the end neared, I realized the guy that got 2nd on stage 1 was in the group. I was going to get 2nd on this day if it was the last thing that I did. As we made the turn for the final shot to the finish, I mashed those pedals through the pavement and got the sprint for 2nd place. A hard day and well-earned.

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In the end, I took 2nd on the Prologue, 3rd on Stage 1, 2nd on Stage 2 and 3rd in the GC. All in all the Hell Hole Gravel Grind Stage Race is a winner and I highly recommend it for those that are looking for something different and challenging. I met and made some new friends that I look forward to racing against in the future. It was a fun and incredibly fast paced race. I definitely have walked away with a new sense of tactics and how to use them on similar courses in the future. I have a new respect for road racers. The Hell Hole Race Management Team were very nice and helpful. I noticed lots of racers helping each other out by making others aware of potholes and obstacles. I will definitely race the cross bike again, it was fun. However, it is back to mountain biking. I have one more race in November, so it is time to remount upon the single speed.

Cheers

By Team Crank

1st at 18 Hours of Scouts Honor

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The 18 Hours of Scouts Honor was my Single Speed debut. I went into this race with a goal of gaining experience on this crazy platform of one gear. I just got the Lynskey and had only amassed maybe 10 hours of ride time on it. I would be doing more hours during this race then I have total on any single speed bike. A bit crazy some may say, but I say if you are going to go for it GO BIG!!! I recruited my main PIT BOSS, Trevor Hepler, to come out and stay up all night to provide me a swift kick in the derriere when needed, which can be quite often. Trevor kept me rolling through out the race and I’m very thankful for the many races he has helped me with over the years. He has been solid every time and together we have a pretty solid record of getting on the podium. Thanks also goes out to a little lady that brought me some cookies wrapped in red, white and blue. A big kiss to you my dear.

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The weather was predicted to be wet, but it turned into Woodstock out there. The only thing missing were the bands. I knew that the competition in the Single Speed category was loaded, but that’s the way I like it. The challenge is what I seek. I figured I might be able to get on the podium if I was firing on all cylinders. At the start there was a light drizzle, no worries. I chose a gradual pace at the start in order to avoid the adrenaline blow up that can sometimes overwhelm one on the first lap. I came off the first lap in 4th place and by the end of my second lap, I had moved into 2nd place. I knew the first place guy, Allen, was only 1-3 minutes ahead and I settled into maintaining my pace. By the fourth lap, the rain started to come down in force, TORRENTIAL. As the mud started to cover every surface of my body and I mean every where, I let that little smile of mine begin to grow. I like it when the conditions are less than appealing. By the sixth lap, I was dodging frogs that were stranded in the rivers that had formed in what was a trail during the first 3 laps. I caught Allen during this lap and took the lead. He was having problems as we all were with brakes. I literally had no pads left at the end. I decided to pick it up and keep going or as I like to refer to it as putting the HAMMER down. The seventh lap was a slip and slide affair. The mud had now built up to several inches of muck that stuck to the tires creating a bumper car adventure through the woods. Good times were had and the race crew of ASR put on another great race in conditions that were less than favorable. After 8 hours, the race was stopped due to safety concerns and I didn’t notice anyone complaining, surely not me. In the end, I took the win in my first ever single speed race. Hats off to the great competitors I faced out there. This race was one you had to earn the hard way with a shovel full of grit, just the way I like it.

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Allen, Markley, Wolf

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The Lynskey Single Speed bike has officially been broken in now and it performed phenomenally in adverse conditions to say the least.

I head to South Carolina this weekend for the Hell Hole Gravel Grind Stage Race. This will be another first for me, racing a cross bike. New things and new challenges, always growing.

Cheers

By Team Crank

Lynskey Single Speed Build

Its been a long time coming. I’m now making a shift over to the single speed platform for my lap based racing, endurance of course. As a reward for exceeding my goal at the Tour Divide, I chose a Lynskey Titanium single speed frame (Ridgeline- 26inch). There are several great bike builders out there, but Lynskey has a great rep and I have seen them do well on long courses such as the Tour Divide. I feel like that is an ultimate test for a bike. I chose my parts for the build with durability, performance and flare in mind. Below, I have listed the parts I used to build my single speed dream crusher. I will be racing this bike for the first time and it will also be my first time to race a single speed bike of any kind next weekend at the 18 Hours of Scouts Honor in Goochland, VA. I figure 18 hours will break me in to the single speed world of pain. Cheers!

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Thats Right!!! POW!!!

Thats Right!!! POW!!!

Frame- Lynskey 17 inch Titanium Ridgeline SS specific

Wheels- Stans No Tubes Crest Rims, DT Swiss White Comp Race Spokes with Red Nipples, Chris King Red ISO SS Hubs, Loaded Red Front Ti Skewer, Chris King Fun Bolts, Chris King 18 Tooth Rear Cog

Tires- Kenda Small Block 8 Tubeless

Crank- Race Face Deus Crank White, Red Loaded Crank Bolts, 34 Tooth

Bottom Bracket- Wheels Manufacturing Red Ceramic

Chain- SRAM 890

Pedals- XTR M-980 SPD

Fork- White Brothers Rock Solid Carbon Rigid

Seat Post- FSA SLK Carbon, Loaded Red Clamp

Saddle- Prologo Zero II Ti

Brakes- XTR M-985 Race Hydraulic

Rotors- Clark Floating Style

Headset- Chris King Inset Red, Loaded Red Spacers

Handle Bar- FSA KForce Carbon

Stem- FSA SLK

Grips- ESI Black Chunky

Water Bottle Cage- Lezyne Aluminum

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By Team Crank

Tour Divide 2013- Wrap Up & Update

face rashcastI find myself sitting here with a broken hand and a cracked rib from a training ride in SC when I thought  I would be prepping for a 24 hour race in NH. However, now I’m trying to mend wounds and look to September where I should be ready to race once again and this time on a single speed for the first time at an 18 hour solo torture fest. I’m out training everyday and keeping my base fitness alive. Riding in a cast with a cracked rib comes with its own set of challenges, but as in life one must push forward and make the most of what you have. I will soon be back to tip-top and rockin it out like I do.

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I wanted to wrap up my Tour Divide experience from this year by doing  a top 10 of highlights and a top 10 of challenging moments I had.

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Highlights:

1- Making it to Butts Cabin the first day, not many have done it.

2- Staying in the top 10 the entire race. Multiple 200 mile days. 154 mile average/day.

3- 18 Day Finish, again only a select group have completed the Tour in under 20 days.

4- Overcoming and pushing through my leg injury for the last 2 days.

5- Single track on Richmond Peak, MT

6- Descent off Union Pass, WY

7- Descent off Galton Pass, Canada Flathead Valley

8- Gold Dust Trail, CO

9- Amazing support from my family and friends

10- Ovando- Stray Bullet, Brush Mountain Lodge, Pie Town- Toaster House

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Challenges:

1- Lightning Storm on Elk Mountain as I descended to Lima scared me for real.

2- Leg injury the last 2 days preventing me from a quicker finish.

3- Climbing Silver Creek Pass in NM with busted leg.

4- Running from lightning out of Platoro to Horca.

5- Breathing smoke up Indiana Pass.

6- Outhouse sleeping.

7- Never enough rest to recover.

8- Always hungry.

9- Getting up early, never could master this task.

10- Recovering from a 40 Hour push without sleep in MT.

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Onward I Go!!!

By Team Crank