Friday, November 28, 2008

old parts suck

It all started off so easily. The old bike wouldn't shift. Turns out the shifter pod was busted, likely a teeny little spring on the pawl died. Luckily I had a spare set of shifter/brake lever combos but they were 8 speed, the bike is/was 7 speed. So I put on the levers, I changed the wheel to a new/old wheel that can take an 8 speed cassette. Then I put on a new chain too and re-threaded all the cables. Then I found out the new levers were for v-brakes and the old bike had canti's, had, now it has some left over v-brakes. In summary: a broken shifter == new shifter/levers, wheel, cassette, chain, v-brakes, brake cable. When I was all done and adjusting the chain length, I found the front shifter was also broken! but screw it, I'll fix that another day.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dinotte Lighting Kicks Ass

There's a reason why Dinotte Lighting Systems are quickly becoming the standard bike lights for our monthly waxing full moon night rides. Three of us have a 600L system and it's really nice to be on a ride and know that we have several spare batteries snuck into our camelbaks in case we decide to ride longer or forgot to charge our batteries. When I ordered my lights an extra battery was only another $30, a total deal. Also Dinotte sells the light units (they call them engines) separately which means you can buy one set and then have another light just by buying an engine and using your other spare batteries! A Single 600L provides more than enough illumination to light the way in the deep redwood forests. The controls are really nice to quickly get to full beam and burn times are excellent. The charger is light and small and turns off when the battery is charged. The batteries are also light and small and connected with a very robust connector that is very unlikely to come loose. I like to use the helmet mount on the visor of a baseball cap when I'm working around the yard at night.

Another reason why I really like Dinotte is that small local company service. Even though they're in New Hampshire, they ship the lights in a box that fits in a priority mail flat rate envelope. That means that you'll likely get your lights within one or two days of your order and mailing things back for service is usually less than a week to get them back! Dinotte are very quick at replying to emails and quick to try and fix any issues that come up.

On the Halloween montebello ride I got more wet than anyone should ever have to endure. my dinotte 600L worked great the whole ride. However after that the battery wouldn't charge and would blink red/green on the charger. I emailed Dinotte and waited for a reply. I then tried another morning ride with a different dry battery and found my head unit was damaged such that it blinked really fast (and was NOT in blinky mode) and the lights on the back cycled left to right, including red. I got home to find a nice email from Dinotte that they recommend I send back my battery (they didn't know about the head unit yet) and suggesting while I was at it, to just send back everything and they'd give it the once over.

Since they ship in a box that fits in a flat rate priority envelope it was trivial to mail everything back. In 5 days I had a package from them with a whole new light head, charger and 3 brand new batteries!

This has taught me two things:
  1. My dinotte batteries aren't quite as bomb proof as I thought and if it's raining I might tape over that little clip hole in the battery. I had ridden with them during rain many times but now I'll be a little extra careful.
  2. Dinotte will look after you (above and beyond) if you ever have any problem with their system.
I highly recommend Dinotte lights!

Bike Nashbar rules

I figure I should offset some of the negativity coming up in the following posts with some positive news. So I'm going to highlight a company which I think has really stepped up and helped me out and give them praise and encourage you to give them your business. Bike Nashbar recently accepted a return of a 2 month old heavily used Sigma BC 2006 MHR bike computer. I bought it from them, found it sucked, worked with the manufacturer but couldn't get an acceptable resolution so sent it back to Nashbar who gave me my money back. I had already ordered a replacement 'puter from them so that all worked out well. I got a VDO MC1.0 (wired) which is working very nicely, I'll post full reviews sometime soon. Thanks Bike Nashbar, you've earned my business for a very long time to come!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sigma 2006 MHR - do not buy

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_P1IABrKRUwU/SIvWfknGhyI/AAAAAAAAIlU/gcWkkT5mBGs/s288/IMG_5527.JPGI try pretty hard to stay positive and only post negative posts about epic fails like Race Face's sucky product failures and sucky customer service. But I'm afraid I have to post a negative post about the Sigma BC 2006 MHR bike computer. I got one because Erin had one and she loved it and it had all the features I wanted and then some. I'd had trouble with wired bike computers in the past, seems the connectors on the mount just end up getting dirty. Using a pencil eraser on them, or contact cleaner would sometimes help but eventually the problem came back. My trusty Specialized Team Wireless bike computer was pretty awesome, as long as I remembered to push a button to make it start looking at the start of a ride. It also showed the time all the time which I really liked. But I was missing altitude and also temperature which is some data I really wanted to start collecting. The Sigma bc2006mhr had it all and I installed it right away.

Before I get into some of the details of this bike computer I'll outline the one flaw that makes me want to yell and scream and insist that you not buy it. The computer will easily get itself into a state where it looks normal but will not register the wheel rotating. You might not notice this and lose a lot of riding data. What's worse is that the only way to get it to look foryour wheel again is to take it out of the mount for 10 seconds and put it back in (or press and hold a bunch of buttons for a 30 second process). This is inexcusable, dangerous and incredibly frustrating. If you're looking for similar functionality I've had great luck with a VDO MC1.0 wired bike computer. A review of that is coming up soon.

How does the sigma lock up? It has a bump sensor which is slick, if the bike is moved it starts looking for a wheel and counting distance. This is a really awesome idea with an awful implementaion. If it doesn't find a wheel in 2 minutes it gives up (to save on battery life). However the unit needs 5 minutes of no bumping to go to sleep properly. during the 3 minutes between when it stops looking and the 5 minutes to sleep, if you bump it, it stays in this state of retardedness where it's not looking for anything. The only way to make it look again is to take it out of the mount or go into settings menu and then out of settings menu. This is dangerous when you're riding down the trail.

You might think that's not a big deal, you might imagine that you rarely enter this limbo time period during normal riding, but I hit it so often that it drove me crazy. My bike on the roof of the car would put it into this stuck state. Stopping on a trail and chatting with my friends would cause it to lock up.

I worked with Sigma support on this for 6 weeks, they sent me a new (refurbished) unit which had the same problems (and a nearly flat battery when the one I sent them was with a brand new battery!). In the end they said this is how it's designed to be and that I should just try and sell it. They were in a tough spot since I hadn't bought it from them, so they couldn't offer me my money back. They did offer me a generous credit towards other sigma products but I was pretty soured on them by this and just wanted my money back. In the end I mailed the used unit (with no box) back to Bike Nashbar and they were awesome and gave me my money back. I'd already ordered a replacement unit, the VDO MC1.0 which has been working great.

Here's some other complaints I have about the unit:
  • The mount has contacts on it even though the unit is wireless. This has me worried that if the contacts on the bottom of the mount start getting flaky will the computer just stop working. All the drawbacks of wireless and a wired computer.
  • Resetting trip takes a long time. You have to hold the button until it resets just the distance (or whatever's showing) and then wait until it resets all and then stops flashing. Takes quite a while, especially if you're riding along the trail at the time.
  • It has 4 buttons, but only 2 really move between the data you want to see, which means to get to trip altitude or the temperature it's 4 or so presses of the button.
  • The heart rate monitor display is always there, even if you have it turned off. If the hear rate monitor is of, why not use those digits to show the current time or something useful. or just blank, rather than a distracting OFF.
There were a few things I liked about it, until it let me down so badly.
  • Really nice settings. It was really easy to setup. Sometimes the use of buttons wasn't quite uniform, sometimes the bottom right button would toggle an option, other times it would move between digits, but generally it was easy to do.
  • Nice clear display. The display was big and very easy to read. The backlight was good with a full battery but often using the backlight would cause the display to show zero
  • With a second wheel kit you can seamlessly move between bikes, just move the head unit and you're done. The second wheel kits transmits that it's the 2nd bike and everything just works. No need to remember to switch between wheel sizes.
None of thse benefits outweigh the fact it might just lock up on you and stop recording your trip info.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Circumnavigating Mt. Hood by Mountain Bike

A report from Jun:

As we bulleted through a rainstorm on our 12 hour drive to Oregon, the bikes were washed clean of the dust, parasites, and spores from our familiar NorCal rides. No non-native species introduced by us! We may have had some concern about whether or not we’d have weather or not, but for the next 4 days, my mind would be likewise swept clean of most preconceptions about what this trip would be like. Too many roads? Too little singletrack? Way too much climbing with big packs on our backs? Backcountry haunts in hillbilly mountain glens, and us in goofy spandex? Would we get lost like others before us, lamenting their missed turns and botched directions in articles? Pure chance encounter reintroduced us to young Blaise Hamel, young MTB phenom, formerly of Santa Cruz, with his new girlfriend in a brewhouse near the Oregon border. Nothing to make me feel older than that young face looking at me sadly as he took his measure of our intent. Rolling into Portland at 1:30 AM, we drowned the last of our doubts in good local draft beers and a fine selection from Matt’s (San Luis Obispo expat and friend of Dylan’s) extremely impressive computerized wine vault, falling asleep to the last frames of a freeride video from SLO.
http://lh6.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVo3m86ldI/AAAAAAAAJ3I/bZd-L3ilUjU/s288/IMG_4088.JPGLate rising and the requisite coffee-mongering at one of a bazillion cafes in Portland got us to the tiny town of Hood River past noon. Hasty map purchasing and burrito purchases got us rolling within the hour, almost 27 miles and 6000 feet ahead of us before the sunset. 2.5 miles in, I thought we’d lost Dylan. As we buzzed along a paved historic trail closed to vehicular traffic, he invented an alternate route behind a white fence --there probably to prevent people from accidentally falling down the cliff behind it – caught his handlebar and went over the bars, almost disappearing down the slope. He was up and riding again in no time and we were all appropriately cowed by the experience.
http://lh6.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVo5Bv006I/AAAAAAAAJ3k/0skKoufHu6w/s288/P1030229.JPGThe views all along the historic bike path and into the next town were gorgeous – literally, the Columbia River Gorge is where kitesurfing was born – and we were grateful to shift into granny gears for the first, brutal, endless climb into the foothills towards Mt. Hood. Brief burrito breaks later, we were at the option to take singletrack in to the hut, rather than continue on roads and we took it. Or rather, it took us. Descents were short, when faced with extremely technical climbing sections over and over again.
http://lh6.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpJ7Z1K9I/AAAAAAAAJ6o/DD1hXTOi4yU/s288/P1030260.JPG At the end of our day, this roller coaster of tight singletrack, rock gardens, and nose-of-the-saddle climbs was punishing, to say the least. Dave needed more burrito power, so stopped just short of the Surveyor’s Ridge Hut to feast and recoup energy. Our first views of Mt. Hood were rewarding and reminded us, as we looked out over the grand view, that we had a lot of terrain to cover in the next 4 days to get all the way around that beast!
http://lh5.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpd9iQ6qI/AAAAAAAAJ8g/KlXx_hFrWD4/s288/P1030279.JPGOur first night in the huts, we were rewarded with a cooler full of beer, wine, and food by the armload in the cabinets. We figured out the routine we’d use all three nights in the identical huts, cooked, drank, belched, and collapsed into deep sleep.
http://lh5.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpedCWxZI/AAAAAAAAJ8s/zr1d6508DGo/s288/P1030281.JPGNights got really cold, with all of us layering up multiple sleeping bags from the empty bunks (eight per cabin, with only us three inside). Come morning, none of us wanted to get up and make the pancakes, but strong coffee (“it IS the pacific northwest” the literature said) and Dylan’s secret oatmeal hotcakes recipe got us on the move again.
http://lh4.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpqD32W2I/AAAAAAAAJ_k/wBhbFcsevSk/s288/P1030303.JPGThis time, the ride began with long stretches of singletrack along the previous day’s Surveyor’s Ridge, then connected with Gunsight Ridge. At times, it was flowy, at times rough and rocky, and always challenging and fun. It was almost like getting two singletrack rides in during the morning (10-13 miles each) having a lunch break, then finishing up with a gentler double track ride along the historic Oregon Trail.
http://lh3.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpron3VVI/AAAAAAAAKAI/thg3E4lJp5U/s288/P1030314.JPGEach time we got out of the trees along the ridgeline, we were rewarded with stunning views of Mt. Hood, always with the implicit challenge of a vista that included our entire route around it. By day’s end, we’d done about 4500 feet of climbing, 5300 feet of descent, and 36 miles of distance before beating the sun just barely to the Barlow Hut.
http://lh5.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpMt49YiI/AAAAAAAAJ7Y/gxcRo2uNfDc/s288/P1030266.JPGDylan’s crank brothers pedal (candy) self-destructed just before we got to the Barlow Hut (his third pair, what crap!), so we skipped a singletrack option in the morning to ride to the small mountain town of Government Camp and track down a replacement pedal. After doing laps back and forth around the small town, looking for an open bike shop, we rolled out without a pedal – despite looking through a glass window at exactly what Dylan needed with no one to unlock and sell. We certainly did not come away empty-handed, as we had lots of good will from the townsfolk, warmth from their fireplace, and hot pastrami and lattes in our stomachs.
http://lh3.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpsV7cb5I/AAAAAAAAKAU/g-P1q-hide4/s288/P1030316.JPGAlong our way, we were flying down some tight singletrack when I saw the beams of a wooden trestle-like construction ahead. “Sweet! Feature coming up!” I shouted as I accelerated a little towards it, only to find that it was actually a collapsed trail bridge. Too late, rode down it – said many quiet thanks to whomever put a little boulder in the middle of the break – and kept barely enough momentum to ride up the other side. Dave followed closely and we exchanged VERY nervous/relieved laughs on the other side. That could have gone very differently.
http://lh4.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVqSiTk6LI/AAAAAAAAKH0/BgrmpPblQ6U/s288/P1030395.JPGWe still had 5000 feet of climbing to do (after our 4700 feet of descent) and 26 of our day’s 43 miles to ride. People we’d talked to in Government Camp were very polite to not laugh when we told them where we were headed that night (Lolo Pass), and kind enough to relate stories of the many dead on Mt. Hood each season from the radically changing weather conditions.
http://lh3.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpvCxF2bI/AAAAAAAAKBI/Tv7ryltXMM8/s288/P1030333.JPGThat aspect was soon forgotten as we hooked up another historic trail section (Pioneer Bridle Path) to the old Oregon Trail again, via smooth, flowy singletrack snaking along contour through green moss-covered forest hillside. Flavors of El Chupacabra, mixed with 420 lingered on the palate as we carved along.
http://lh5.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpt-U4EoI/AAAAAAAAKAw/T_YGRuvEmQw/s288/P1030319.JPGI broke the flow to look down an historic mine shaft and instant karma got me as I managed to step off my bike funny and turn my ankle. No biggie, barely even felt it. Wouldn’t have meant anything at all had I not 7 million more pedal revolutions before we stopped riding. And 7 million more the next day. Whoops. Well, isn’t that why we were carrying whiskey and ibuprofen all that way? The riding continued to be really good, lots of well-maintained singletrack, with logging crews clearing falls across the trails for us, even stopping their sawyering for a moment as we rode by.
http://lh3.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVqUTZU7MI/AAAAAAAAKIQ/oCjvNDj3NfE/s288/P1030398.JPGDave and Dylan, on their big travel bikes with 2.5 inch tires, badgered me for my constant flicking of my old Blur on high-speed descents. I argued that I was merely trying to avoid pinch flats in my tiny tires from my 210 lb rider weight + pack by dodging big or sharp rocks that were in otherwise clean lines. Yeah, it probably looked pretty dodgy alright, I’ll admit, but on whose tire was I patching up a pinch flat after a particularly nasty rock garden a few miles later? Not mine! (errr, that’s a good thing too, as I forgot the majority of my flat fix kit in the car when I had to remove it to fit Dave’s rack…. eheh.)
http://lh6.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVqVioyyEI/AAAAAAAAKIc/T6U27lJPrSA/s288/P1030401.JPGAs we finished out our contour singletrack romp along the valley, we began needing to more frequently confront the damage we were doing. Dave’s knee was going bad, my ankle was catching up to me, and Dylan still had hand pain from his first day’s adventure. All three bikes were having consistent pressure loss in the rear shocks, not to mention crying out for lube on drivetrains. Good thing we brought a shock pump and lube, but Dave’s Enduro was left with only a quarter inch of travel for the rest of the trip. The ride was definitely taking a toll on bikes and bodies, quite unlike that taken by the historic toll gate we crossed through at the end of the singletrack for the day.
http://lh6.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVpzweZbgI/AAAAAAAAKCE/3jlDi2BlxLk/s288/P1030342.JPGOur final climb to Lolo Pass lead us higher and higher towards the snow line. Layers went on over layers as we climbed up some unmerciful ascents towards our last hut. Snow was patchy at first, then everywhere and it was fun to leave knobbie prints in it as we rolled on, ever upwards.
http://lh4.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVp79rDDWI/AAAAAAAAKDQ/UkFKQugt-Nc/s288/P1030349.JPGRock gardens and ridgeline singletrack became less of a treat as we neared exhaustion – our perspective about roads had definitely been changing as a result – but we still enjoyed the luscious views of our constant companion, Mt. Hood.
http://lh3.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVqBXcMjyI/AAAAAAAAKEA/84Sr88Uc97E/s288/P1030354.JPG
http://lh6.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVqcfPvesI/AAAAAAAAKKI/2-EMdhJknxE/s288/P1030415.JPGWe rolled up to the final hut and took in the amazing 360 degree view around it with mouthfuls of cold beer and, later that night, (surprisingly nice quality) tequila found in the supply cupboard.
http://lh4.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVqgFzyqoI/AAAAAAAAKLU/AWV2eDE2V4s/s288/P1030426.JPGOur last day, we decided to forgo the extra 20+ miles of singletrack option to get a head start on our drive back to the Bay Area. We enjoyed our 5300 foot descent over 34 miles, taking in the sights and tucking into our high speed descents. But the scant 1900 foot climb used up the last of my ankle and Dave’s knee. As we got farther out of the mountains and closer to the Columbia River, we entered a valley full of orchards, ripe fruits spilling from their branches and into the road ditches.
http://lh6.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVqjxZBwyI/AAAAAAAAKMc/FBkJsvuy28M/s288/P1030437.JPGWe stopped to sample at a roadside stand and were treated to such delicious apples, we brought some home for loved ones. The gal who sold them to us was an endurance mountain bike racer who regaled Dave and Dylan with her own experiences at 24 Hours of Moab, which they also raced. We rolled into Hood River at last, eating the best damn burgers and beer on the deck of a local establishment, looking out over the river. Perfect end to a great trip.
http://lh6.ggpht.com/dave.cohen/SPVqefrXxyI/AAAAAAAAKKw/T1dhQCr6lGY/s288/P1030419.JPGSo much goes unrelated here, the fall colors exploding out of the lush green overexposure of deep forest like fireworks, the waterfalls everywhere, the late night strategy sessions with headlamps pouring over map details, the velvet happiness of brandy in our hot chocolate every night, the little jumps and features found like candy on the trail, and so much more. Would I do it again? You bet -- maybe some modifications to add singletrack here, less snow there -- but without hesitation. If you’re reading this, you should go!

There's a few more pictures in Dave's Album.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Autumn!

Ah, Autumn! A time for settling down, getting ready for another winter rainy season. Those animals, whose name escapes me, big rat like things with fuzzy tails, are grabbing their nuts and squirreling them away for the hard months that are coming. But they're not here yet.
The weather is beautiful, the trails mud free and if anyone is hankering for the fall displays of color that you might have known from back east, I challenge you to go out and ride and tell me you're not filled with awe looking at the beautiful palette of greens, browns and reds you can see on the poison oak right now. Who knows!? you might even get a little souvenir of your leaf peeping, some might even get a rash and blisters on their genitals. Anything is possible!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Easy Trails in and on the way to Tahoe

This weekend quite a few of us headed up to Donner Lake for an BONC, ROMP, MBOSC and others camping weekend. Some even swam the trans Donner Lake Swim which was 2.7 miles of cold choppy water. It's debatable whether that was more fun than the trail work everyone else was doing. Since I was there with family we were looking for easier rides we could do with our 2 year old in a wee ride. We found two great trails so wanted to blog about them here.

Emigrant Trail: 22 miles of sweet smooth single track with little climbing. It's 11 miles out and 11 miles back. super nice we all loved it. More information from MTBR. This would be a great spin if you arrive at Truckee in the middle of the day and need a quick spin after you've set up camp. We saw two folks walking out with busted tubeless tires. We never got a flat. You could even do this ride with a bob trailer and camp by stampede reservoir (but there will be car camping boaters there so it's not a total wilderness experience).

Forest Hill Divide: a sweet 11 mile loop with more climbing but nothing terrible also not very technical and a great route. Easy to follow. More information is available from: Forest Hills Trail Alliance and this PDF map. We rode counter clockwise from the east entrance. We were only confused one time 1 mile near the end where you're dumped out in a big parking lot on a gravel road, but some local riders showed us where the trail started again and it was a short climb back to the car. This is in Auburn, CA so is either on the way to or back from Tahoe.

Both great rides for beginners, or people with kids.

The Best Wilder Loop Evar

Here's a snippet of the Wilder Ranch part of our route from the Santa Cruz Off-Road Metric Century we did. I'm posting it here since I think it's the best loop you can do in Wilder and hope people like it. This route starts at the bottom of Old Cabin, how you get there is up to you, from the parking lot you can head up Englesman Loop, from the top/Twin Gates you can come down long meadow.
  • up old cabin
  • down rodrigo (eucalyptus loop)
  • to top of enchanted
  • down baldwin singletrack
  • eagle cutoff
  • up baldwin fire road
  • down enchanted
  • up enchanted fire road
  • down zane grey cutoff
  • dairyman (wilder loop)
  • up twin oaks
  • up rodrigo
  • down old cabin
That should be around 16 miles.
More resources are here:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nerds

This lady know's what's what:
From: motivatedphotos.com

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Santa Cruz Off-Road Metric Century

Today the VeloNerds hosted the inaugural annual Santa Cruz Off-Road Metric Century. Never mind that the acronym for that is horrible, we're just never going to shorten it. The name of an event should match the event and this ride was LOOOOOONG!
Eight brave folks started at 8AM and five completed the planned route 12 hours, 115 kilometers, over 3,000 meters of ascent later. This year there was a special offer with 15% extra free! That's 72 miles and 10,000ft of ascent for those that can't deal with new fangled scientific units.

The goal was to ride 100 kilometers on all single track and never ride the same trial twice in the same direction. We came pretty close, only re-riding a few key connector trails and managed to ride every single one of our favorite trails (except Hillbilly).

At the end of the ride the people who completed it got a frickin' laser etched stem cap for their troubles and as with all great events there was a raffle! Nicole grabbed as much tat lying around her apartment that she didn't want and fobbed it off on the poor suckers who were too tired to realize they were being bamboozled! She still couldn't find anyone to take the huge package of Heed (heave!) she has though.

It was, by far. the best experience I've ever had on a bike, so much fun to be riding with friends and having a great time pushing out bodies riding hard. I can't believe I know 4 other people who can ride that long and hard and I get to ride with them several times a week, life is good!

There a few more pictures over in the gallery.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

VeloNerd Traitors

Nicole and I betrayed the good VeloNerd name (HA!) on Saturday and rode a huge road ride (gasp! ... awkward silence). We road the Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge, a local Century ride with 10,700ft of ascent through most of the beautiful cool mountain roads around here. It was a blast. I wasn't quite as sissypants roadyesque as Nicole on her full carbon road bike, but I did ride a mountain bike with a rigid fork and slick tires to make it a little easier. We had a super great ride, so much fun, laughing all the way. Many people commented on our awesome team outfits and Mark also joined us but only wore a propeller and his cow jersey (no shirt and tie for him). Erin rode up and joined us for the last 15 miles and we saw Matt right before the big climb up Jamison Creek. A super fun ride (even if it was on the road).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why Fox Rocks: a rider's view

Jun Says: So, what's with the Fox shorts, gloves, jerseys, t-shirts, socks, etc? I don't work there, I don't have any close friends that work there, so what gives? Well, it could be that they make the most solid, reliable equipment around. When I bought my original Blur, it came with a Progressive 5th Element shock in the back. I requested that it be replaced with the non-platform version Fox Float, because it's made by a local company, as is my 100 RLC fork. Since then, I've heard of many Progressive shock failures, but my trusty Float has never been serviced and is still going strong. Or maybe it's the fork, which never leaked a drop in its much-abused long life. I got it serviced at a local bike shop out of guilt for running it so long without maintenance and the mechanic said the oil inside looked fine. After that, it leaked badly until I took it down to Fox in Watsonville and asked them to look at it. They serviced it for me and it has not leaked a drop since, even after race punishment that warped both wheels. Their turn around time was awesome and they didn't charge me a cent! Yeah, they took good care of me, but it's their service to the wider mountain bike community that really shines.
When the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz was fighting to keep riders' access to Nisene Marks State Park, Fox developed the "Save the Trail" shirt campaign to help us raise legal fees. I've worked alongside Fox employees at local charity bike builds for disadvantaged kids to have bikes for Christmas. They raised the bar for professional decorum and community service at those events. At more than one trail advocacy event, such as Ales and Trails, I've seen Fox represented by staff and/or donations that furthered the goals of local access and riders. Even the local high school teams have benefited from Fox involvement. I cannot stress enough how fortunate we are to have this local company engaged in our endeavors and how many positive contributions Fox has made. So yeah, I support them and speak out on my appreciation for their help. Good people.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jun's Coolest Race Report

Forsaking the tired, 24 Hours of Adrenaline race for greener (literally) pastures, the ‘nerds ventured north to Cool for the Coolest 24 Hours. We were not to be disappointed. It was obvious well before the event that it was a different vibe up there. No nickel and dime-ing racers and their volunteers for parking fees to get into the venue, no longer-than-agreed volunteer hours to keep promoter profits high (all proceeds for Cool went to cancer research).

The friendly and overworked promoter, Jim Northey, offered our campsite a keg to keep racers from all teams and distinctions well lubricated throughout the event. Even though State Parks seemed hellbent on finding ways to over-regulate their completely horse-trashed and overgrown field, much beer, fun, and camaraderie could be found by all come the weekend. Teams camped all around, intermixed with each other and acting like friendly neighbors. Interested parties could find discretely-positioned kegs abound. There was even a pizzeria/Mexican food restaurant a short stroll from camp, where we all had a “Velonerds family” dinner Friday night.

Saturday morning rose hot and threats of paint ball punishment for racers who cheated and left before teammates had completed a lap were somewhat nervously greeted by laughter from the milling crowd of solo racers and team captains. As the race neared start, Alex, Dave, and David took their positions in the 8 hour categories while Steve (MadCat for this race) was in 24 solo. Kyle joined another MadCat 4 person team. Bob, being the newest of the Velonerd newbies (I can’t believe Carlos and I were the old men of the team!) lined up for the obligate first lap for our 5 person co-ed team. They were off in a cloud of dust that became de rigueur for the rest of the race, destroying moving parts and defeating all but the goopiest of chain lubes.

Bob turned in ridiculously fast laps, even knowing that he’d be putting in 25% more distance than the rest of the team by the end of the 24 hours. Scotty, stirring from the frozen semi-retirement of Reno’s winter had our only flat (a constant curse for many on this course – rocks and thorns). He fixed it trailside and kept churning such blistering fast lap times, we wondered what would have happened if he’d been RIDING all that time since the last race. Nicole provided the kind of amazing race performance you’d expect for a woman whose tenacity consistently leads to top podium appearances. Carlos’ quick laps continually had me running for the start finish area, afraid he’d beat me there. Once, I had to be waved onto the course by Charlotte (our amazingly selfless and tireless teammate/support crew) because he’d come in so fast. Yep, quite a team. As night dropped onto the race course, we were behind the leading team by 17 minutes, but night riding is where the Velonerds traditionally shine. Eating away at their lead lap by lap, we caught up by midnight and morning’s light found us ahead by an even greater margin. As a team, we rode smart – not risking pinch flats or mechanicals – and by the end of the race, Bob could put in the coup de grace to see us win by a lap over our closest rivals.

In the solo categories, Alex (D.F.L.) and Steve were laid low by mechanical problems (tires, chains, brakes) that were the bane of many racers on this challenging course. David put in a strong showing on his dual squish and Sparky’s man crushed the competition on his singlespeed (!). I distinctly remember coming up on a fast-mover on the course, thinking, “Daaaaaang. He’s doing this on a singlespeed?” Only to find that it was our very own Dave hammering away. I didn’t even need to pass him my water bottle this time (Boggs) and his effort put him just shy of podium. In the time after the 8 hour and the finish of the 24 hour, a good time was had by all as we lounged, ate, drank, and otherwise consumed goodies in good company. The camaraderie of the Velonerd camp was by far the best part of the race. Way to go Nerds!

Quote from Bob in response to sappy post-race online comments:

"The social aspect certainly helps out during painful laps and cramps associated with getting in and out of a tent. But as this thread is on the verge of a group hug I think it's time to hear some South Park and substitute 'Alex' where Cartman says 'Kenny'.”

Results Spreadsheet.

And we have lots of pictures in various galleries from Cecilia, Dave and Nicole.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Coolest 24 Hour

You only have a day or two left to register for the "Coolest 24 Hour" race. They also have an 8 hour category and a 24 hour and you can race on a team in either (I think). So sign up and come hang out with us! We have spare propellers if you want to become a Velo Nerd for the weekend, and do remember to ask for stickers!

I just learned we're getting a keg of beer and we'll be sharing it. So please do come over and find us and say hello!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Boggs Results

The results are in from BoggsIII and they're good!

DJ and I rode 8 laps, Nicole, Jun and Bob rode 7, DaveC 6, DavidB 4 and Erin rode 3.

Nicole was the only one of us to get a medal (as usual)

I'm fairly sure everyone had a blast, I sure did and it was nice to ride over 100Km.
What a great course, great organization and lots of fun. Many of us wore propellers on our helmets, that's how you know we're there!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

8 Hrs of Boggs III is coming!

This weekend is the 8 hour race at Boggs (Cobb, CA), lots of us will be there, we hope to see you there too. If you're overtaking a dork on a bike with a shirt and tie on and a propeller on their head, please do stay hello. Well all be camping out after the race too so say hello!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

SDG - kicks ass

SDG makes bike seats and other things. Along with having a kickass name, SDG means Speed Defies Gravity, they also appear to look after their customers. It was purely by accident that I ended up with one of the best saddles I've ever had. When I got my custom Merlin frame (2nd hand so not really custom at that point...) I tricked it out with a Giro Fizzik saddle and went for a double lap around Foxboro, MA and by the end of it I was pretty close to peeing blood. Oh man, it hurt. I sent it back to Cambria Bike and they looked after me like they always do and I asked for the SDG Ventura in silver glitter. It was pimpin' and I never felt like I was peeing blood after riding it.
That was 10 years ago, since then I've only found one other for sale, a SDG Ventura Ti with titanium rails and I've been moving the saddles around between my bikes since then. My non titanium SDG saddle suited me just fine through at least eight 24 hr races (on a team) and my first ever solo 8 hr race with no problems at all. I've sired a daughter so no worries on that front either. Just recently the rails have looked a little bent. But it was still comfortable and I wasn't surprised. I had it WAY back on the rails even with a Easton post which has a little layback. I used to have a Race Face XY seat post, but that broke (it was sucky Race Face after all, of course they wouldn't warranty it even thought it was less than 1 year old, never, ever buy Race Face).
On Monday it broke, just after landing a jump the rail snapped. No biggie it was still pretty ride-able for the rest of the climb and one more descent. It'd had a good life and I still had my Ti Railed one. Every now and again I search for SDG ventura to see if I can find one, hopefully a glittery one, but I never have any luck. I sure got my money out of it, I'm fairly sure that over the last 10 years I must have ridden over 10,000 miles on it.
I fired a quick email off to SDG to let them know that I'd had a good run with it, and to ask on the off chance if they had any spare rails that might fit. They quickly replied asking me to send in my seat and, no promises, but they'll see what they can do! I was so stoked, so I wanted to post here and let y'all know you can count on SDG to at least try. After my recent terrible experience with Race Face it was so nice to find a company willing to try and help. Even if they don't manage to hook me up, I'm sure my next saddle will be from SDG, perhaps even a fancy ibeam jobby.

UPDATE: SDG delivers great service! they fixed my saddle and mailed it back to me, cost me nothing! Keep buying SDG equipment folks, they rock! Also heard of them doing the same for Jun when he broke his saddle. I'm delighted.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

John Crashed ... Again!

There's a trail we all know. You know I love this trail. There's a small jump over a stream not too far from the top of it and it's the same jump that until recently I'd never seen anyone crash on it. The jump is so perfect. The first time you hit it is always the best time you will ever hit it. You launch, fly through the air over shark infested water and then land, land so smooth it was like you never left the ground.

A few months ago JohnG really screwed it up, landed all higgledy-piggledy, nose heavy, tweaked his bars 90 degress and crashed hard, then Ben made sure not to make the same mistake as John and landed like he was trying to ride his back wheel like a unicycle, that back wheel shot forward and Ben slid to the ground in an elegant telemark skier inspired knee drag along the dirt. I think everyone pretty much crashed that day.

Fast forward to today, and I mean fast forward, John was on fire riding up Uconn this morning. It's been very windy and the trails are very sticky (covered in sticks) and we finally make it over to our favorite trail, dérailleurs intact. John pusses out and slows down before the jump, I turn around to see how he's gonna jump after me and see his nose plunge in the front side of the teeny tiny landing ramp. It took quite some skill to hit such a teeny bump, but John made it, luckily he had his face to help slow him down. His glasses cut a big divot out of his nose and he cracked open his eyebrow. 21 stitches later he's recovering slowly.To be fair though, he didn't cry and he did agree to ride out a fun way, rather than really pussing out on the fire road.

Dan's famous for crashing


Here's our very own Dan, in a national publication. pictured after crashing! Thanks to Jun for scanning it in, you can blame him for this here crap text, he didn't write any!