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!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Titanium Single Speed Build

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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.

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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:

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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

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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!!!

 

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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!!!

Loaded Precision Cockpit Review

 

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I have been racing and training on the Loaded Precision cockpit (handlebar, stem and seat post) for about a year now. I have been very impressed with it  and in fact I just equipped another bike I built up with the same Loaded cockpit. Loaded makes stylishly impressive carbon fiber, lightweight aluminum and titanium components for mountain bikes. I have been running the Loaded: X-Lite Carbon UD Handlebar (Flat, 710mm), X-Lite Titanium Stem (90mm), X-Lite Ultra Aluminum Seatpost (400mm, 31.6mm).

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The X-Lite Carbon UD (Uni-directional)Flat Handlebar with a width of 710mm (27.95 inches) delivers a setup that I find spot on. The wide stance allows me to breathe fully while I climb, which I find myself mostly doing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The carbon makeup of the bar provides a sweet balance of responsive flex and stiffness that I find crucial as I navigate through rock gardens or come barreling into a sharp turn and burn. The weight of the bar is incredibly light and ones first impression might be ‘how strong can it really be’, but it is without a doubt. I mostly do ultra endurance racing, so having the ample width of the bar allows me to place my accessories (lights, bags, gps, etc) needed for such an event.

The X-Lite Titanium Stem with a 90mm length comes in all black aka ‘stealth cool’. Stem length is important as any racer or devoted rider knows when it comes to bike fit (effective comfort). The X-Lite Ti Stem is made out of T6 7075 Aluminum (light weight) with a carbon face plate while adorned with Titanium bolt hardware. It comes in at an impressive <100 grams. Titanium is very well-known for its weight to strength qualities. The X-Lite Ti Stem fits that bill without a doubt and provides the contact platform needed to take on the line grinding of single track. The milling on the stem provides an aesthetic quality that I find high-end classy.

The X-Lite Ultra Aluminum Seatpost comes in the varied sizes anyone might need for a typical mountain bike setup. I’m running the ‘stealth cool” version with a 31.6 mm diameter. Very light weight and comparable to any high-end seatpost when it comes to craftsmanship and quality. The X-Lite Seatpost comes with Titanium bolt hardware and is made out of T6 7075 Aluminum. I personally have an affinity to Titanium hardware due to its strength, light weight and rust avoidance properties. I have found that this seatpost provides me with a seamless integration on my bike to round out my cockpit. I swap saddles at certain times and setting up the saddle is easy and the mounting base is wide enough for the stability needed when it comes to the stresses placed by your rump on it.

Loaded Precision makes high-end quality components and you get what you pay for, atleast in my opinion. Aesthetically pleasing and more importantly functional and up to the task at hand. I will continue to adorn my racing rigs with Loaded. Loaded makes a lot more than just cockpit items and a nice color selection of select components. Check them out, I believe you will be impressed as I have been.