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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sunset Motel

 

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Salute

 

 

 

 

 

Winter and the Year Ahead

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Its that time of the year…you either hibernate or make it count. If you choose to make it count well then you must endure the cold and wet. Proper clothing and layers make this possible, so don’t think that you have to ride the trainer all winter long. Don’t get me wrong, the trainer is a convenient alternative and less prep is needed on those super cold days and dark evenings after work. On those days that winter recedes during the winter months, one must take advantage. Recently, I was able to do just that with the Ohio Gravel Grinders in Scioto Trails State Park. Great day on the bike with 50+ riders slinging gravel in the hills of Chillicothe. Look for local riding groups or visit your local bike shop and ask about weekend/group rides. It is always more fun when you are playing in the winter with others. I find that when the temps are below freezing that the single track is a treat, especially if it has a layer of snow lacing it. Before you know it spring will reenter the picture and winter will be but a memory. Make it count and come spring you will be surprised at your level of fitness.

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2016 looks to be another great year to be racing. I’m starting to select races for the year. Mountain bike racing has really exploded across the multi-disciplines and the venues across the country are numerous. First, I will be meeting up with my good friend and racing partner Paul for some grinding in Indiana next month. This summer I’m looking forward to getting back out to New Mexico and ripping it up in the high desert. I will have an endurace focus as always along with some cross country thrown in for some variety throughout the year on the single speed.

I’m stoked to have all of my sponsors back for the year. One that Im really excited about is my continuation with the Truck Co Posse Mountain Bike Team. If you don’t know then you should know that Trucker Co kicks out some amazing products for your cycling needs: Tire Sealant, Brake Pads, Grips, Cables and Housing and Valve Stems. I recommend all of their products and I use them on all of my bikes. I have stood on podiums due to my bikes being equipped with Trucker Co products.12185505_10153236187867986_3259329151881781089_o-2

Jess will be in my corner throughout the year providing care and support on my crazy tests of Metal. A huge thanks, hugs and kisses to her for all that she does.

Cheers

CUPCAKE

 

20150928_120159_resized I decided to update my Single Speed frame and I’m thrilled with my selection. The Niner One 9 RDO is a beast. I dig the blue as it reminds me of childhood birthday cakes and cupcakes. You know the ones that had icing scribbled on them that spelled your name out on it and had a superhero stamped on it giving your imagination a dopamine release of invincibility all in honor of celebrating your 7th birthday. You know what I’m talking about!

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The One 9 RDO was designed for single speeding with its beefed up bottom bracket housing for stomping out that 60:1 gear ratio. It is agile-light and the geometry allows for Bambi Deer Flow through and over the course of your desire.

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I outfitted my cupcake with the already precise and tested components that I was using on my previous single speed and they bolted right up and I was on the trails in no time. The Niner Biocentric II is a dream and allows for chain adjustment to be done with ease and it holds tension over the course which allows you to ride without having to fumble over chain issues that other setups are prone to do.  I have it dialed in now after riding in Dayton and Cincinnati. I’m super stoked to push it further and line it up for future races.

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Niner hit it out of the park with the One 9 RDO frame and with my setup filling it out…oh yeah it is cupcake time!

Cheers

1st Overall at 24 Hours of DINO

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Versailles State Park in Indiana is where it all went down. This park is beautiful and I really have to commend Indiana on a job well done. The terrain was an up and down affair on a course consisting of 13 mile laps with a 1000 feet of elevation gain per lap. I was impressed with the course, which consisted of a good mix of everything a mountain biker craves from ruggedness to flat-out ripping berms. I chose to race single speed [rigid]…note to self, “Idiot”! The course had a lot more rock and technical terrain then what I was anticipating and I felt it in the end. It is very difficult to complete a 24 hour race without support in the pits. Jess ran the pits for me and did an exceptional job keeping me on the go for 24 hours. The DINO crew put on a stellar event and I recommend their races. The 24 hours of DINO had a 6 hour and 12 hour option if you didn’t have 24 hours of abuse to spare.

The race started with a short run with either your saddle or a wheel around the pool to your bike. Once my front wheel was attached I began my 24 hours of nonstop boogie woogie. I settled into a steady pace with an emphasis on pace control. 24 hours is a long time and pacing is key. The key is to always move no matter how slow you get. Once you stop it becomes very difficult to get going again. This was even more true as the low reached down to 45 degrees that night. I was able to adhere to my plan and with Jess and the Grave Yard Shift Sergeant running the pits my pit stops were always smooth and quick. DSC_4567

This allowed me to always be on the move. My goal was to get 200 miles. The course was a lot of fun but it beats you up after 24 hours and because I’m so smart and ran a rigid fork the beating was compounded. As I type this report my hands are still numb. I don’t recommend a rigid fork on this course for 24 hours. What was I to do though as I couldn’t ride wheelies for 200 miles, so I adopted my new favorite mantra of “Suck it up, Cupcake!”. About 12 hours in to the race I was told that I had the overall lead. The DINO crew thought that I was a 12 hour racer and was confused as to why I went back out for another lap at midnight. Come to find out had I done the 12 hour race I would have won the overall solo.DSC_4563

My pace was solid throughout the race and I was pleased with my fitness. In August I raced short and fast races successfully with little emphasis on endurance. My endurance seemed to be right on as I went through the night without issue. My nutrition was good and no gut distress was experienced. I think I have honed that process down to what works for me in these types of races. The issue I dealt with that caused the greatest struggle was the impact of plowing down the rocky and rooty sections on the course. The rigid fork beat me and it really became a struggle to hang on at times. Due to the exposure on some parts of the trail and the bone rattling my body was feeling, I had some moments where I thought I was going to have to eject due to loss of control. In the end, I was able to hang on and this cupcake did suck it up. I won the single speed and overall male title. I completed 208 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing on a strong course in 21.5 hours. I could have done 2 more laps but there was no need as my pacing and steady movement afforded me that luxury and my rigor mortis stricken body was thankful to unsaddle from the bike.

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I’m always impressed with the mountain bike endurance community in regards to how the racers are generous and positive out there on the trail. This held true at the 24 hours of DINO. I ran into a buddy of mine, Matt Curry, and it was great catching up with him as he took 2nd place in the Solo Male Division. Nothing but good vibes from me to the DINO race scene. I had a great time and it is always special to have Jess in my corner. I have had an exceptional year racing and I want to thank all of my sponsors for their support.

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I have been running the Loaded X-lite Ultra Carbon 29 Wheelset this year. They have been remarkable. I have won more than a few races on them this year from XC to 24 Hours. Here is the process in which Loaded creates and describes one of their master pieces…“Ultra light weight, ultra durable. Utilizing the state of the art manufacturing processes and cutting edge technology, Loaded Precision has produced quite possibly the strongest and lightest tubeless carbon fiber mountain bike rims available today. They use a Carbon Knitting Technique (CKT), securing the carbon layers together through a refined knitting and bonding process. All X-lite Ultra Rims feature True Bead Technology- Loaded’s very own Tubeless System that provides an efficient interface between the tire and rim for easy installation and inflation”. The way they hook up and respond is amazing. The lateral stiffness is impressive when railing through turns and berms. I have to admit I have never had a wheelset that responds and holds like these babies. They seem to track exceptionally well no matter what you throw at them. The trueness of the wheel seems to never get thwarted. Durable they are as I have pounded them all year-long on a rigid fork setup. They are light and incredibly strong as you should expect. Mounting tubeless tires up is easy and I recommend Trucker Co tire sealant, the best cream tire sealant in the universe.

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Suck it up, Cupcake!

On One ‘OO’ Single Speed Build

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‘OO’ (Double-Ought Buckshot), my moniker for this beast. It is a lightweight, single-speed, carbonic-flexing puncher of a machine. I am so looking forward to getting this puncher out on the race courses this year. I expect it to slice and dice the single track in my endurance races over the year and beyond. I have tested it out over the winter in various places and I have been super impressed with it. I have swapped a few parts in and out over this time. I have settled on the below list of componentry, which I feel will accommodate my needs and style like a disco inferno going off in the pale moonlight. It is light and agile. It climbs and descends while sticking to the rail of the trail. The frame (On-One Lurcher) is solid and durable with a sleekly commando presence. The geometry seems to be dialed in well for a cued in responsiveness to the trail. A few noteworthy standouts on the frame: Optional hanger plates to run it as single speed or geared, beefy bottom bracket housing and tapered head set tube for steering stability, lightweight carbon that is stiff and responsive. The all black look is the look for me as I like to sneak around stealthily and “BAM” there I am, hahaha!

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As for the parts that I used to piece this solid frame together, well I did some research as I always do in my lab of madness and delved into my jumbled contortion of experience with builds and use of parts over the years with an emphasis towards effective and durable lightweight components. After all is said and done, the ‘OO’ weighs in at 18.5 lbs. 20150226_172333 (3)Yes, that is with pedals, grips, valve stems, water-bottle cage and tire sealant. The ‘OO’ is super light but yet strong and it will PUNCH!

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It will get a full test next weekend at the Tommy Knocker 10 Hour in Silver City, NM. Can’t wait to leave this snow encrusted tundra of the East and rock it in the sunshine of the southwest for spring break.

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Build Up:

Wheelset- Loaded Ultra X-Lite Carbon Tubeless Rims (29″, 32 H) with Industry 9 Classic Torch Hubs

Tires- Continental Race King 2.2

Crank- SRAM XX1 Carbon Crank 170 mm

Bottom Bracket- Kogel Ceramic Pressfit 92 mm

Pedals- xpedo M-Force 4 Ti

Chain Rings- Blackspire 32 T  on the front accompanied by a Chris King 19 T on the rear

Chain- Shimano XTR

Chain Tensioner- Surly Tuggnut

Fork- Whisky No. 9

Headset- Cane Creek 110 ZS 44 Upper 49 Lower

Handlebar- Loaded X-Lite Carbon Flat 710 mm

Stem- Loaded X-Lite w/Ti 90 mm

Seat Post- Loaded X-Lite w/Ti 31.6 mm

Saddle- SDG Fly

Grips- ESI

Brakes- Avid XX

Rotors- Clarks Floating 160 mm

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Cheerios!!!