Funky Times!!! – 1st Single Speed 100K

Funky Times!

I got my FUNK on at the Funk Bottoms Gravel Grinder. This was the second time that I have ventured over to the Funk Bottoms. The first time was quite the challenge and the second time didn’t disappoint. It rained an inch or so the day before, so I knew it would be similar to my race in 2015.

First, I want to send out a high five to Chris (race director) and his gang for another spectacular experience. They continue to put on a true grassroots race in the Funk Bottoms Gravel Grinder. No entry fee, a challenging course, scenic and super sweet prizes for the winners of each category. If you haven’t ventured over to the Mohican area in Ohio then you are missing a treat.

I originally signed up for the 200k but I decided to do it on my single speed mountain bike, so I changed over to the 100k distance. Lesson learned…don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Even though I won the 100k single speed division, it was a strenuous effort trying to spin that machine up 20+% grades with 2.0 tires. I was very pleased with my suffering and look forward to my next race.

fullsizeoutput_7d9

The Funk Bottoms Gravel Grinder has grown over the years and this year there were nearly 100 entrants and ~80 towed the line. The course is bit more than 100k at ~70 miles with 7000 feet of climbing. If you decide to do the 200k then you get to do the course twice! It is constant climbing with grades that will make you want to punch your own face repetitively with brass knuckles. Due to the heavy rains the day before, the course was soft for tire plowing, resistance training bonus. I rode most of the day solo, which allowed me to take in more of the surroundings. You ride through Amish country and it is beautiful, almost pristine. You ride along the Mohican River and traverse back and forth over very hilly terrain. There was very little traffic other than a few horse and buggies (like going back in time) along this course, which allows you to focus more on your effort. During the course it is very likely that you will be hike-a-biking at some point. On this day we were rewarded with a huge downed tree that required a quick jungle trek only to be followed up with a wet and rutted out one mile climb up double track that had very limited tread purchase. Lots of people were hike-a-biking that section. It is a challenge and that is why it is labeled as Ohio’s Toughest Gravel Grinder.

If you are around north central Ohio around the end of June, you should go test yourself on this course. Chris puts on a stellar event that you will remember. Everyone out on course was super chill and respectful. The well marked course travels through some very scenic areas and there is no entry fee.

Thanks to all of the volunteers that were at the start/finish and the aid station.

Thanks to my sponsors as always for keeping me outfitted with stellar products that see me through whatever is thrown my way!

Now it is time to head west and enjoy some vacation time with my lady while enjoying those libations.

Cheers!

 

Hanson Hills 100 – 1st Single Speed

fullsizeoutput_766It has been quite some time since I have done a 100 mile specific mountain bike race. The Hanson Hills 100 happened to fall at the perfect time with me starting my summer break. I was interested in the course as there happens to be a 24 hour race there in September. I wanted to get a preview of the course in order to know how the terrain and trails treat you in an endurance format.

Fun Promotions puts on a great endurance series up in Michigan. I was very pleased with the grassroots feel of the race. Fun Promotions make you feel at home and are very accomodating. I arrived the day before the race and set up my tent for an overnight and then I hit the trails for a preview. Hanson Hills Recreation Area is a ski hill in the winter time but it has a nice network of trails to enjoy in the summer. The trails have a nice feel to them as you rip around them through sand and rolling hills. The climbing is deceiving as it adds up over a long course but it is spaced out with flow and some fun descents, especially at the end with a bomber jump on an exposed hill side coming into the finish.fullsizeoutput_762

My goal was to put down my best 100 mile time on single track. Most of the racers were competing in the 50 mile version of the race. We all gathered in Grayling at the Kmart and were led out of town under a controlled pace. 3.5 miles to the trails and then it was 4 laps of 24.5 miles. I had a good start and established my pace, which lasted for the first 50 miles. After the 2nd lap, I started experiencing some spasms/minor cramps in my quads. I dialed the pace back and continued to take in my electrolytes and fluids. On the 4th lap, I began to experience stronger cramps in my quads, which resulted in me dismounting at one point to walk/stretch them out. Interesting enough I was able to manage the cramps even though they slowed me a bit over the last 2 laps. The course is very clean and beautiful as it rolls through hardwoods with very little undergrowth giving it a pristine feel. It was warm and a bit humid at times, which contributed to my cramps I suppose as well as being a bit dehydrated the day before the race. I rode with a few other racers for stretches as we paced each other. Everyone was friendly and respectful out on the course.

My goal was obtained as I set my fastest 100 mile specific single track mountain bike time. I finished with a time of (7 hr 33 min) and the single speed win. I’m super stoked over this result but especially with the finishing time. There isn’t much beta out there about the course numbers but it was well over 6000 feet of climbing according to my Garmin. You finish this race knowing that you have climbed.

I hung out with a few of the racers after the race and had lunch with them. I’m looking forward to going back to Hanson Hills in Grayling, MI for the 24 hour race. It is a fun course that most people can ride but it is challenging over time in an endurance format. I recommend giving the Fun Promotion events a try as I had a very enjoyable experience. This was actually my 2nd event put on by Fun Promotions and my experience was the exact same at the 8 hours of Ithaca. I’m really feeling good as I enter summer with my cycling fitness. Next up is the Funk Bottoms Gravel 200K Race. Time to get FUNKY!!!fullsizeoutput_764

 

Top 5 Single Speeder at Pisgah Stage Race = 32×19 Torture Fest of Fun!

fullsizeoutput_75d

Cred: iconmediaasheville.com

It was my 5 days of spring training for 2017 and I thought it would be wise to use the Pisgah Stage Race as the setting, great idea! Yeah, now that it is has come and gone I’m left with one certainty…Pisgah is hard, hard and more hard but fun, fun and more fun! I had been to the Pisg before but it had been a long time and I wasn’t focused on cycling back then. I got an eye-opening experience and then some.

I raced the Single Speed division and it was stacked from top to bottom with an exceptional bunch of misfits at least the bunch I rode and hung out with, which made it a very painfully and rewarding experience. It was perfect for me and it tested me. I suspect it has propelled me forward by a month in my training.

A couple of lessons I learned about the Pisgah for those that decide to venture down to the Pisg for the first time or maybe it has been a while:

  1. Suspension is your friend
  2. 32×19 is a bit stiff for 5 days
  3. Dropper Posts are highly recommended and I will have one next time
  4. Ride with someone who knows the Pisg
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously (have fun) and I did accomplish that mission

I could add a lot more but the picture should be crystal, do your research and there is plenty out there, so know where you are going and have a contingency plan and a buddy with you because you could easily get lost or hurt out there and it is remote. I was fortunate to have a marked course and rode with veterans of the Pisgah Stage Race or Pisgah in general.

The course was a plow fest from the start to the finish. You better be ready to climb and go down and I don’t mean your local downhill. You better be ready to ride down gnarl that had me wishing for a belay line as you catapult down boulder fields and tangles of  roots that would make an octopus envious, it will slap you silly. The beauty of the Pisg will reward you with a true back country ride that will slap a smile on your face regardless of the pain you might be temporarily experiencing and believe me more pain is a coming!

A little about the course so that you can get the picture of what 5 days of the Pisgah Stage Race looks like for you data crunchers and planners. At first glance, don’t mistake this for your EKG results, it looks like an up and down affair within a shark’s mouth and it is indeed. Credit: Blue Ridge Adventures for the profile charts below.

20170411_123016

River crossing to the start of Stage 1

Stage 1 – Looking Glass Route
24.71 miles / 39.77 km
4,130 ft / 1258 m elevation gainStage 2 – Promised Land Route
29 miles / 46.5 km
3878 ft / 1182 m elevation gain

Stage 3 – White Squirrel Route (HARD)
29 miles / 46.5 km
5118 ft / 1560 m elevation gain

Stage 4 – Carl Schenck Route (HARDER)
31.5 miles / 50.5 km
4113 ft / 1254 m elevation gain

Stage 5 – The Land of Waterfalls Route
25 miles / 40 km
3186+ ft / 971 m elevation gain 

It is a grind but it will reward you with some of the sweetest morsels of ripping this side of the Mississippi along with amazing views. A few routes that stood out to me that I could do over and over with a grin from ear to ear: Stage 1 was a hoot from start to finish except the hike a bike up Daniel Ridge, Squirrel Gap ascent and descent on Stage 2, Black Mountain descent on Stage 3 after barely staying upright on it during Stage 2, Laurel Creek descent and Laurel Mountain Ascent until the ridiculous hike a bike at the top on Stage 4 and the Bracken Mountain flow descent to the finish on Stage 5.

20170414_140346

Looking Glass Falls

When considering your trip to visit the Pisg rather it be for a bike vacation or to do the Pisgah Stage Race, these venues and resources were bomber for me: Sunset Motel (lodging convenience that caters to cyclists), The Hub (afternoon ale refreshments and food truck delicacies), The Square Root restaurant (dining pleasures and evening chill time), Davidson River (cooling those battered legs) and great weather which we had everyday so I recommend a spring time frame.

20170411_153247

Sunset Motel

 

20170413_134034

The Hub

 

My bike shredded and climbed like a beast! It was the first real test for my Lynskey Ti build and  the Captain came out with a 5 star crash test certified rating. A few of the pieces that made it a success on the Pisg-gnar: ESI grips kept me from having nerve damage in my hands, Trucker Co tire sealant kept me from having any flats nor did I put air in them one time during the entire race, Maxxis Crossmark tires provided great traction across all surfaces (it was dry), Industry Nine wheels that hooked up while absorbing the pounding of the Pisg, KMC chain that I put out at least 500 lb-ft of torque on those vertical climbs and last but not least some cold hops with classy folks!

20170412_125144

This bike rocks!

A few things that would have made it even more pleasurable: A dropper post would be advisable for you hard-tail lovers like me as it would make the extreme vertical descents so much more ridable, instead of a 32×19 gear setup on the single which I ran every stage for added training bonus (idiot)…a 32×20-21 would be more forgiving on the climbs,

I want to thank my sponsors for their superior support that aided me in my survival: Trucker Co brakes and tire sealant, ESI grips, Kogel bottom brackets, Squirt lube, Twin Six kits, Loaded components and Wolftooth cogs!

In the end, I revisited a terrain that I don’t get exposed to often, especially the technical descending. It was a blast and very rewarding! I’m glad to have been a part of this mayhem. I have done several stage races in sweet spots across the globe and the Pisg is the most challenging technically, so be prepared. I want to thank a certain few individuals that suffered alongside me while hooliganing all along the way. These guys are single speeding machines of madness, cheers to my fellow one-cogging brothers: Dave and Dave, Stephen, Cam and Joe!

20170415_153704

Dave, Joe, Stephen, Cam, Dave and a suspect character

Blue Ridge Adventures put on a memorable and delightful stage race experience. Thanks to all of the volunteers that were out there everyday supporting us. The course was marked perfectly. The food and libations were delicious. This is a very affordable race compared to the others out there and Brevard is a very cool town to hang out. I had a great time mingling with all of the racers who were very social and positive. Racers came from all over the world. It was a pleasure getting to know some of them.

Now it is time to focus on endurance racing and I will be stronger having had the Pisg stamp of fitness and beat down etched into my bones. I’m very pleased with my top 5 finish alongside these wily bunch of single speeders. XC racing, I have always found to be a great way to supplement your endurance racing with that extra bit of power and cardio fitness that will kick in during those wee hours of the night when you are battling it out with another crazy and you need that little boost to get you over that mountain top in front!

First, before I get ahead of myself I have to go check all of my wheel and bottom bracket bearings after I went swimming in the creek with my bike on Stage 3, oh yeah!

Cheers and all the best to your 2017 season of ripping and roaring!

20170415_073924

Salute

 

 

 

 

 

Titanium Single Speed Build

fullsizeoutput_64e

In my opinion there is no greater satisfaction than building up a bike and having success on it at the races or any other bike adventure. I built up a Lynskey Ridgeline 26″ single speed a few years back with success and since then I have graduated to the 29″ platform, so it was time to add some 29″ metal to the fleet. Titanium is the perfect metal that possesses all of the properties that one could possibly want in a bike frame. I have carbon framed bikes and they are joy to ride but titanium has a unique quality that is hard to deny. I went with the Lynksey Ridgeline SL 29″ frame. Lynskey has been putting out solid titanium frames for years. I have always respected their craftsmanship and they are built in the USA. This bike aka “CAP” has become my fav bike. It truly rides like a dream and has a smooth disposition. I look forward to many years of fun and pain on this machine. My build comes in at 18.5 lbs and it is nimble in the technical and stiff in the railing.

20161108_161718

From the Lynksey description of the frame features and specs:

“Tapered/integrated headtube with internal stainless cartridge bearings
12×142 thru axle dropout configuration
Front fork: Best suited for 120mm
Tire size: Clearance for up to a 2.5 tire width
Front derailleur type: 34.9 low mount top pull front derailleur
Cable routing: all “under” top tube
Downtube cable routing for Shimano side pull front derailleur”

“Headtube Design Tapered/Integrated
Bottom Bracket Type 73mm standard english
Seatpost Diameter 27.2 mm
Seat Tube Diameter 34.9mm
Wheel Size 27.5 inch
Max Tire Width 2.5
Dropouts 12×142 Thru Axle Fixed Recommended DT Swiss 12x1mm thread pitch
Rear Spacing 142mm
Brake Type Disc”

I chose to outfit CAP with the following:

20161108_201456

Lynskey Ridgeline 29 SL Ti Frame- Small
Whisky Carbon Fork
Sram Avid XX Disc Brakes
Trucker Co Disc Brake Pads
Jagwire Brake Lines and Quick Fit Kit-Titanium
Hayes 160mm Disc Rotors, Ti Fasteners Trucker Co
Cane Creek 110 Headset- 42/52
Loaded Xlite 760 Carbon UD Handlebar- 760mm, Flat
Loaded AM XC Stem- 85mm, 27.2mm Gray
Loaded AM XC Seat Post- 30.9mm, Gray
Fizik M1 Carbon Saddle
Kogel Ceramic Bottom Bracket
Industry Nine Ultralite Torch 29 Blue Wheel Set
Maxxis Crossmark EXO TR 29×2.2
KMC Gold Chain- 10
Wolf Tooth Chain Rings 32×17, Black
Shimano XTR 9020 1x Crank + CRing Bolts
ESI Grips- Turquoise
Shimano XTR Pedals
Paragon Machine Works Ti SS Slider Hardware
Velo Solo Single Speed Spacer Kit
Titanium Fasteners for Brakes
Crankskins
Crank End Protectors
Trucker Co Valves
Togs
Spurcycle Bell

20161108_201517

2017 is starting to shape up to be a year of a solid mix of endurance racing and this bike will be at the forefront of most of those endeavors. This bike takes me back to a time when I was (still am) a child jumping that BMX bike off of concrete block board jumps in the driveway.

Cheers and a Happy 2017!!!

 

20161219_090511

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st at 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest

Scan 10

24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest (photo credit: Gillen Photography)

Whoa!!! What a vacation: 42oo mile road trip, pristine camping in Cloudcroft, sunset in the White Sands, 1st at the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest on the ONE SPEED, lots of green and red chile burritos, a fabulous trek at Tent Rocks and an amazing time bouncing all around New Mexico from one side to another with my super lady Jess Moore!

20160616_133306

Christmas Time

Zia Rides has a formula and it has vibe. I have gotten to know Seth, race director, and he knows how to put on a competitive event filled with fun that satisfies everyone with entertainment, food, drink and hospitality. I have done two of his events now and I’m super stoked every time I line up at a  Zia Rides event. I highly recommend trying one of his multiple mountain bike endurance events and you will be better for it, trust me.

20160620_110311

Church Rock-Gallup, NM

Located just outside of Gallup, NM at the USFS McGaffey Campground the course was a beauty set at 8000 feet above sea level in the beautiful Zuni Mountains among beautiful pine and aspen trees. A lap consisted of 13.5 miles and just over 900 feet of elevation gain. The lap started off with a flowy section that climbs up in the middle and ends with a flowy descent back to the start. I chose a rigid setup and again I overestimated my ability to absorb punishment over a 24 period. The middle of the course was rocky in sections and a rocky descent near the end that over time punished me like an old school teacher slapping your hand with a ruler back in the day when you spoke out of turn. That being said, a lot of the other riders that I talked to said it beat them down over time as well even with suspension. Dust was a huge issue being in such a dry climate and I rode a lot of the day laps with a bandana wrapped around my face to filter it out looking like I was about to rob a train. I recommend wearing one in settings such as these especially at the beginning when the line of riders is like a herd of cattle being rustled into a corral. The dust even with glasses on made its way into my eyes and they stayed irritated and red for several days after the race. In the end a 24 hour race is a beat down and you should expect no less if you are going at it solo. That is what makes a solo a SOLO! The course was a beauty as it wrapped around and slid through the Zuni high desert landscape.

20160618_105734

The field of single speeders was a solid one and the winner from last year was present so I knew that I would have to stay focused and drive steady. With Jess in my corner I knew I could do just that. The temperatures were a beast out there ranging from a high of 100 during the day and dropping to 40 in the wee hours of the morning. My body was going through spasms at times due to the extreme changes out there on course throughout the day and night. Jess kept me massaged and kept me hydrated and nourished throughout the race. I truly couldn’t have done it without her caring and prompt attention. As the race commenced, I held a steady pace with quick pits and eventually built up a lead of 2 laps on the second place single speeder. I also was in the overall lead out of all solo riders, geared, by one lap. After 20 hours of beating my body on the rigid single speed I decided that my lead was strong enough to call it and enjoy some libations. An amazing race in a spectacular setting. One of the strongest performances in my racing career. The racers were truly top-notch and very mannerful. I met some solid racers out on course and I look forward to riding  with them again. Seth runs a top notch organization and it shows out there on the course and the racers adopt that sensibility. I can’t wait to get out to New Mexico again and race another Zia Rides event.

20160619_113932

A few highlights on the course: dodging of cows at all hours, bacon at the Bacon Station, a beautiful setting in the Zuni Mountains, 200 miles in 20 hours on rip-roaring single track, my light going out on me during the middle of the course at 3 a.m., flowy trails like Y2K that make you grin from ear to ear, friendly and respectful racers at all times out on the course, a great race organization that thought of everything that made everyone’s weekend one to remember, and having Jess in my corner always smiling!

20160615_194230

Whites Sands

This was a big win for many reasons. One, it is always a huge satisfaction when you can drive across the country and take a win in a setting that you are not familiar with in regards to temperatures, climate and elevation. Second, the 24 hours in the Enchanted Forest is the first race in a 3 part series to crown the 24 National Champion in Geared and Single Speed Solo formats. Since USAC disbanded the 24 Hour crown, Seth and a group of other race directors decided to put together a new championship to honor those that are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones to endure 24 hours of punishment. Being that I won the first race in the series, I now lead the charge towards the crown for the single speed national championship. The next race is in Oregon which is followed by the final race in Utah. I’m considering the chase as I feel like these opportunities don’t come around often. We shall see so stay tuned!

Thanks again to all of my sponsors for equipping me with the best. When you are a solo rider in an endurance format it makes a really big difference knowing that you can depend on your equipment for 24 hours without a hiccup. Zia Rides for going above and beyond to put on a stellar event. Most of all I want to thank Jess for traipsing around the country and being in my corner. Without her I would be a ragged mess and wouldn’t be able to reach my full potential.

A great vacation it was and one that will go down in the memory book of awesomeness!

20160624_110208

Tent Rocks

Cheers New Mexico!