Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ephrata Photo Essay

 A bunch of new team pictures...
(All photos courtesy Vicous Cycle Facebook site)

And an old one...

For the Roadie in Many of Us

For those who like to follow the European road racing scene check out the site below.  It's hard to find live coverage of the classics and this guy always gives an entertaining break down of the races with video coverage.

'First and Last Impressions' Review of the Maxxlite 29" from Eric Armstrong

Well I've had my 'Maxxis Maxxlite 29' tires for a couple of weeks now.  I've done 6-7 rides and 1 race on them.   

What worked:  You can really feel how light these tires are, acceleration is fantastic.  The non-existent knobbies make for almost no rolling resistance.  But despite the minimal tread, traction is very very good.  For me the ultimate test of a tire is racing it.  At last week's Beezley Burn race, this tire was really shining until....

What didn't work:  Durability is highly questionable.  I flatted 12 minutes into the race.  I was using stan's sealant and when I put the tube in to fix the flat I saw that the tire to rim seal was not broken (i.e. it didn't 'burp' out the air).  I did see a wet patch in the center of the tread so I suspect a small tear/cut.  While Beezley does have some rocks, I would not consider a 'technical' nor particularly 'rocky' course.  So I am greatly disappointed that these tires could not take what little abuse this course offered up.   I did manage to finish the race with the tube installed and for the remainder of the race the tires worked like I hoped they would - great. 

I need to say I've been having issues with flatting this year that I haven't had for decades.  I am on a hardtail for the first time in over 20 years and I think that might have something to do with it.  At my weight and aggressive down hilling, I don't think I've been running enough pressure in the rear tire.  I was running the Maxxis at 40psi, which is 8psi more than I used to run on my dualie. 

Final thoughts:  As these tires are race day only and they don't seem up to that task I won't be using them in the future.  Disappointing to say the least.  Perhaps if Maxxis would add just a little more rubber...  I wouldn't recommend these tires for anyone on a hardtail, but if you're racing a dualie I would give them a look.  The one mounted to the front wheel (with front shock) worked great.

All the best, and see you all on the trails...
Editor's note:  Maxxis recommends the maxxlite 29" be used for racing only on hard packed dirt trails.  Durability will always be sacrificed when saving grams. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beezley Burn Race Report by John Burke

What a great day I had at Breezley Burn this weekend. First, kudos to Vicious Cycle for putting on a great event. Second, my new Giant Anthem 29er rolled well, was supple and fun!  

My day started with a quick warmup, then lining up with the 3rd group (men 45 to 54).  Weather was great with sun and only arm and leg warmers required. The course started with a long flat gravel grinder where I drafted for a while, got impatient, then went to the front with a higher pace. Several, if not all grabbed my wheel for the grind to the base of the first hill. We had a 10% dirt road climb to sort the group out before the single track began. Things were going well.  A couple guys passed me, which seemed ok since I wanted to avoid going out too hard. Pretty quickly we hit the single track with the leaders from my start time mixing it up with traffic from the previous group. 

The single track was rough and rocky, but tons of fun on my 29er full suspension bike. After a few passes, I was leading my group and getting into the thick of the previous groups. Most everyone would graciously pull aside once you asked to pass, making the passes safe and keeping the chase for the leaders fast. I seemed to be making progress on the leaders and was inspired to catch the 'young ones.'  

As we came around for the start of lap 2, I caught the lead cat 2 riders. We hit the gravel road and I dropped down across the bars for a TT into the headwind. The two guys made an effort and caught my wheel for a ride until the short single track that was added on lap 2 to cut out part of the gravel grinder. I got a gap in the single track then kept the pace steady and hard to grow the gap before the first single track descent. The chase was on!  The 2nd place rider kept me insight and motivated.  I could tell fatigue was taking its toile with both descending and climbing going slightly slower.  I kept pushing, and pushing, holding on for the in and finishing just in time to watch my buddies in cat 1 start their race. The win felt great. 

I had some time, so off I went to explore the local trails and take pictures of my buddies. I caught a few picts of John Limbaugh and Damion Miller. The guys looked good and fast. I ate a snack, then went off exploring. Wow, they have a great extensive trail network here that is worthy of a full day visit. I went up to the top where the radio towers are perched to find a great rest spot and more trails off into the hills. 

On return to the venue, I was pleased to find results quickly posted and preparations well underway for a free hamburger, hotdog and chili feed.  They held a nice awards ceremony with unique medals and a great vibe. 

Postscript, on return home I posted results to Strava and assessed my performance. Man, I've got room to improve with my downhill times leaving lots of room for improvement.  Kudos to my buddy Damion who ranked in the top 10 descent and climb times! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Port Gamble Race Report

The Schliesmans and Kevin Hall made it to the second race of the BUDU series, and had some fun in the mud.

March Racing on the West Side = Mud!
A good reminder of why I no longer ride/race on the west side until late June, who has the time to clean their bike after every ride.  Nice job guys representing on the West Side with a couple top 10 finishes, Kevin taking 7th, and Jerry pulling off 6th in their categories.  I also noticed Mark Holtzinger pulled off a 4th place finish at the first race in the series.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ephrata Gran Fondo Ride Report

Team Photo at the half way point.  Eric, Andy, Charlie, Warren and myself.
Karen was also there, but a bit early for the group photo

The Ephrata Gran Fondo actually started on Saturday for me.  I was ready to go, pumped up, going to have a great day, best ride ever! Until I picked Warren up at 6:30 AM and he politely informed me the ride was on Sunday.  Trying to explain the oversight would be futile, so we'll just leave it at that and never speak of this again.
There is really only one word to describe the beginning of this ride, torture.  The ride begins with the Norton Canyon climb with over 800 feet of climbing in 2.5 miles.  My heart rate was between 170 and 180 the entire stretch, not the best way to begin the ride. 

That's me on the Norton Canyon climb, the pain on my face is real.

Andy on the same climb seems to be enjoying himself.

I know there was at least one person suffering worse than I on this climb, it was the kid doubled over puking up his breakfast.  Once you get over the Norton Canyon climb you are treated with a nice descent followed by a much less strenuous climb and long descent down to the Columbia River.  This is likely the section Eric was thinking of a larger chain ring.  "42 tooth chain ring = more spinning than I care for".  This was also the section I fell in love with my new Giant TCX SLR .  I do a lot of riding on forest roads, and this is the bike for it. 
It's easy to forget the suffering when you take in the scenery. 

Eric said it best, an absolutely beautiful course, highly
recommend it for next year

An addition from the last time I did the ride is a short section along an abandoned road complete with sand dune obstacles.  Much better than riding on the highway below.  The final obstacle of the day following a long false flat is the 3 Devils Climb, 1600 feet of climbing in 2.8 miles on loose gravel with three very steep sections. 
Warren hammering the 3 devils climb

The climbing does not really end at the 3 devils climb, several short painful climbs have to be navigated before the final descent to town.  Just to keep everyone honest, the organizers threw in a nice head wind for the final four miles. 
Charlie's take on the day, "fantastic ride with buddies, I only
wish three devils was longer".

To sum it up, beautiful ride, beautiful weather, great people all along the way.  Huge thanks to Jake at Vicious Cycle for letting us use the photos, and Eric and Charlie for helping with the post.  Next up
Beezley Burn on March 29th and Gran Fondo Goldendale April 13th.