Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Absolutely, Positively, For Sure DON'T MISS THIS ONE NEXT YEAR..." Goldendale Gran Fondo Report by Eric Armstrong

Well I'm no poet so I won't be able to do the views on this ride justice.  The scenery was spectacular.  Crystal blue sky, remote middle of nowhere riding, farmland, rivers, forests, and view of the Cascades - at times all of - Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainer, and I believe Glacier Peak. 

It was 88 miles of pure riding heaven, (well 70 miles of pure riding heaven and 18 miles of ... well let's just say the first 70 miles were fantastic).  A pleasant mix of pavement, gravel, and a hint of dirt roads. 

Just a hint of Dirt
The highlight came at about the 45 mile mark, this is where we crested the ridge between the forest/farmland north of the Columbia river and popped up over the ridge to get a view of the Columbia and the mountains mentioned above.  The view was so stunning that most actually stopped riding to soak it in, as well as to break out the camera phone.  From this peak there was a wicked fun gravel descent (at least for those of us who rode our mountain bike), eventually turning back into pavement which led to a small climb then a wicked paved decent (for those that rode their cross/road bike).  This descent took us down to the Columbia, to a town called Lyle where the only 'fully stocked' aid station was.  After a brief break and re-fuel riders were blessed with a beautiful 18 miles of riding through the river valley that followed the Klickitat river.  You essentially rode right along the water for much of this stretch - beautiful.    You turned off the river at about the 70 mile mark, this is where the ride went vertical.  Looking at all the riders pushing their 34 or 36, or one poor bastard 39 small chainring up this hill made me very happy to be on the old mountain bike, recently equipped with a 22 small chainring.  To say this 5 mile climb was brutal is an understatement, as many a rider had to stop and push/walk to get over it.  After cresting the top of the climb riders were treated to 13 miles of 'rollers on steroids' (they shouldn't be allowed to design road that have a 'V' profile!).  And to top it all off, the race Promoter, Jake Maedke, made some special deal with mother nature and managed to arrange for a steady 15-20mph headwind the whole way back.  Brutal just isn't sufficient for how this ride ended....

Some of Team Set Coaching Hilti NW taking a break at station 1 
We had a pretty good Set Coaching/Hilti Northwest showing.  Tom Heywood, Charlie Wilcox, Brian Cimmiyotti, Warren Hurley and myself were decked out in the team Jerseys.  Charlie was sporting his new Giant Cross Bike, it looked sharp seemed to work just as well on the road as it did on the gravel sections.  Brian was accompanied by his wife Nici, they had matching cross bikes!  Now Brian just has to work on getting Nici a matching Set Coaching/Hilti Northwest jersey....

Charlie above and Warren below enjoying the blue skies and sun.
Really can't say enough about this ride, it was spectacular.  I strongly recommend putting on your calendar next year.  For this year there is still time to sign up for Grand Fondo Leavenworth, and Grand Fondo Winthrop.  I 'did' the GF Leavenworth last year.  Didn't quite finish, so I'll be doing it again this year.  It is also a very brutal course.  Two 'real' mountain pass climbs.  Not quite a scenic as Goldendale, but it's much more remote.  To get over those mountain passes you ride over forest service roads.  (Bring several extra tubes...)

All the best, and see you all on the trails...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Goldendale Gran Fondo Report from Charlie Wilcox

The Goldendale Gran Fondo was one of the most epic view rides I have ever done.  The timing was perfect, rolling lush green pastures, bigger than life views of Mt Adam, Hood, St Helens, windmills, Klickitat river canyon and of course the Columbia Gorge. 

Warren sporting the new bionic finger

The first fifty wasn’t bad at all.  It ended with a great five mile descent into Lyle for the main aid station.  Then you roll out along the Klickitat river enjoying that scenery for the next twenty mile or so with a fairly gentle false flat.  Mile seventy all hell breaks loose!  You climb over a 1,000 vertical in the next three miles on dirt, the now famous Horseshoe Bend climb! 

Charlie doing what he loves, descending
But wait there was more, big rollers with a great headwind all the way back to Goldendale (which seemed to move away at the crest of each roller)!  I think this was the toughest finish I have everdone.  All in all it was a great time with team riders Eric Armstrong, Warren Hurley, Brian Cymiotti, myself and special Chinook guests Lloyd Campbell, Phil Mattoon, Eric Malmassari, Greg Nelson, Camron Dehaven.

Stay tuned for Eric Armstrong's review of the Gran Fondo Goldendale.

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!