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I won $30 for crushing both stages of the Socorro race this weekend in a SS field that had 17 riders.  Socorro is notorious for not giving out much money.  One year I finished about a minute down on Damien Calvert for second place and the race promoter gave me a folded up $20.  Wow.  I definitely don’t do this for the money.

What do I do it for?  Socorro’s XC course got doused with rain all Friday night.  Luckily we raced the hillclimb on Saturday which was shortened due to a nice layer of new snow up top.  I smartly ran the 32X22 which I was supposed to run last year.  With ridiculously light wheels and semi-slicks, I cruised through the slick sections and floated up the steeps.  After putting a decent gap on my main competition, I backed out of the pain cave and hung out at the doorway.  In less than an hour I was at the finish which was quite nice.  Blue skies, fresh snow on the peaks, and kind of warm.  The ride down was pretty interesting with the semi-slicks and Stan’s rotors.

A bunch of us camped out near the start of the of the XC race and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon and a perfect night of sleep.  It’s pretty funny that so many people camp at this spot now.  Our first time out there we were the only ones at this spot.

The XC course was sure to be fast after getting a good soaking.  It’s amazing how much better some of the trails in the southwest get so much faster after a good rain.  After winning the SS category, I went out for a third lap.  I’m not sure where I would have placed in the pro or expert category, but I think I would have done ok.  The pro category was stacked with the regulars plus Travis Brown and Trevor Downing.  Trevor was getting really fast back when I first upgraded to semi-pro after winning the expert short track championship in ’06. 

It was a super fun weekend with a great field of racers on a great course.  Too bad the town of Socorro won’t pay out the fields better than they do.

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Well….the racing season finally started.  After a couple of low key endurance events, I officially kicked things off with a win at the NMORS#1, the Coyote Classic here in El Paso.  There was a record number of racers.  268!  100 Cat 1’s!  Unbelievable!  And I passed more than 75 of those cat 1’s.  Ridiculous.  Or as I say when it’s REALLY ridiculous….ricockulous. 

The Superfly100 was a beast today.  Despite the cracked lower swingarm and the missing set screws on my YESS tensioner, it rode amazingly well in the rock gardens and climbed like a antelope! 

I was sick all this past week and Jen was a trainwreck from a broken or displaced rib.  I didn’t ride Monday through Wednesday and Thursday’s ride sucked.  I was still coughing and blowing green shit out of my nose this morning on my warmup.  Smartly, I did a long warm-up by riding from the house to the venue.

Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the start of my season.  The Puzzler was a bit disappointing, but the bike didn’t fit and I used gears.  What in the world was I thinking??!!  I think I could have won SSUSA if I hadn’t lost my handup right after I got it.  To put things together as well as I did today, I’m pleased.  I won’t show my HR data as it’s way too impressive.  I’d have to say that today was one of my best races ever….performance wise.  Of course there were many national podiums that were more awesome, but my body’s performance today was exceptional.

As some of you know, I worked on a master’s in Ex Physiology for a while and I have never had my own coach.  I found this blog post by Heather Irmiger to be pretty interesting.  She has a degree in ex phys and isn’t down with the testing.  Pretty cool.  I like doing VO2Max tests, but they don’t really indicate much when in comes to mountain biking.  Skill is such a huge factor and strategy is also big.  Today I had a home court advantage.  I felt great, and I stayed skinny this winter.  I’m looking forward to a great summer!

Here are some things I’d like to sell off before the little one comes.

Spot Belt Drive Kit – great condition w/ about 100 off-road miles.  39×24.  Newest setup with guides on both sides of the rear pulley.  $150.

Magura Hugin Rear Shock.  “Short shock” 6.5×1.5 . http://www.magura.com/en/products/older-products/rearshocks-2008/prod/hugin.html  Used on Titus Racer-X 29er for 3 rides.  $150

WTB Rocket-V Race – Ti Rail – White.  Used twice.  $50.

Shimano XT clipless pedals – brand new in box – $75.

Niner SS Cog – 22 t – Brand new. $30

Will possibly trade for the following:  Crank Brother’s Egg Beater SL pedals, WTB Silverado Saddle.

This post is a response to JHK’s article in singletrack.com. 

As a long time racer (first Norba sanctioned XC event in 1989), I’ve seen our race scene change quite a bit.  While I’ve never been a “world cupper”, I have been the overall winner at many races over the years.  I stay as a fit as I feel like staying in order to remain competitive and not make a fool of myself.  Prior to the mountain bike, I raced ABA bmx.  Over the past 10 years I’ve taken racing much more seriously competing in short tracks, xc’s, marathons, 100 milers, and even a stage race.  I still do road races about once a year.  I participated in the Mercury Tour and Team Big Bear’s King of the Hill way back in the 90’s, so I think I’m a pretty good judge of what our racing scene in America is and was all about.

Two years ago a buddy of mine and I decided to put on an endurance event, the El Paso Puzzler.  We had 28 competitors in v.1, v.2 had 68.  This year is v.3 and we are expecting around 125.  Not bad for the middle of winter in a dirt town like El Paso, TX. 

As a race promoter/director/organizer, my goals are simple:  make sure everyone has a great racing experience (however difficult our event may be), raise awareness of the trails in El Paso, and raise some money for our bike club, the BMBA.  While I strive to get better riders to our event, the last thing on my mind is helping world cuppers get UCI points. 

The UCI charges an enormous amount of fees and requires that the promoter subsidize drug testing costs at any event that has UCI points.  No thanks.  Toke a blunt on the course and shoot up some amphetamines at our race if you want.  We don’t really care about that stuff.  If you can afford that stuff, you definitely shouldn’t be whining about prize money or UCI points.

American mountain bikers, at least the ones who have been in it for over 20 years, are looking for something more challenging than the 1.5 hour lapper at a ski resort or broken bottle riddled city park.  They want adventure.  They want to push themselves to a new level.  They want to go beyond the bonk, sit down on course and eat 1000 calories, run out of water, crawl to a feed zone, finish refueling, and ride another 20 miles to the finish with a knog led lighting the way.  They want cool venues where they can camp and gather around a bonfire while their teammates slog out more laps during a 24 hour race.  They want to use the same bike in a multi-event race where pads and full face are worn one day and two camelbak bladders are packed the next.  The demand for diversity is out there.  However damaging this diversity may be to UCI point seekers, that demand far outweighs the benefit of hosting a UCI event.  I’m sure the Angel Fire promoters will agree with me on that one.

American mountain bike racing has become incredibly diverse and promoters of these diverse events are not complaining.  In fact, many of them are capping the number of participants.  Entry fees range from nothing to thousands of dollars and people show up from all over to try out whatever new fangled adventure awaits over the next pass.

Big money competitive mountain biking in America has been dead for longer than most care to admit.  Even the Chevy Truck days were weak compared to European world cups today.  American world cuppers need to do just like the roadies did….nut up and spend A LOT of time in Europe.  If you really want that front row start, prove that you deserve it with the best XC racers in the world.  The list of American road racers that have done this is too long for me to publish on my pissant blog.  They are doing it for a reason.  Racing in Europe is a spectator sport.  People pay to sit in grand stands and enter parks where the events take place.  Do that in the US and you’ll be lucky if half the stands fill up.  Try it at a city park mountain bike venue and the neighbors will be pissed that they won’t be able to walk their dog that day.

Keep the UCI out of American racing.  American promoters should keep pushing the limits of the support with challenging events.  Dare to be different.  Make that feedzone just far enough into the race where a camelbak AND bottles have to be carried.  Provide bacon and burgers in the feedzones.  Serve beer and margaritas for free at the awards ceremony.  Charge camping fees to raise money for a youth cycling program, not prize money or promoter profit.  Utilize paydirt programs to get more trails. 

American mountain biking has soul.  That soul is getting better with age.  The UCI has done little to promote the soul of mountain biking in the US.  Let’s keep it that way.

Here are a couple more photos from the 12 hour.

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Race promoter Mike Rossen is in the background doing his best to stay awake.  I wonder if he had a headache?

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Myself and Adam Hoppe.  I’m so glad I had a recliner.

Lots of other good pics here and here and here.

Sorry it has taken me so long to update my blog.  Things have been super busy with the scene here in El Paso.  This past weekend’s 12 hour race confirmed that we have an awesome scene and it also helped further solidify my reasons for racing.  It’s all about helping to put our scene on the national radar.  Winning the Breck Epic was to legitimize the trails in El Paso as it was for my own personal goals.  The fans at both the Epic and this 12 hour were awesome and I got huge cheers during awards and throughout the event.  Mike, myself, and Brent have been putting in some serious time to make the mtb scene here in El Paso better for everyone.  I just wish more people would get involved with the grunt work or volunteering with trail building or race marshalling. 

I knew this weekend’s 12 hour race would be harder than most people thought it might be.  Yes, it’s in my backyard and I know the trails quite well.  I ran a 21 t on both bikes.  I was hoping everything would go well,  but damn…where that wind come from? 

The 12 hours of old el paso was a hit!  It’s gonna get big in couple more years.  It’s gonna be big next year.  This year’s event only cost $40 a person.  They had food, music, beer, and fireworks.  Lots of my buddies were out marshalling the course and the state park guys were making some laps to check everything out. 

Here’s how it went down for me.  Not wearing a costume…like Brent, I had settle for a longer run to the bike. 

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The run wasn’t bad, but I definitely need to run more if I plan on doing more LeMann’s starts.  I started out on the FS with the YESS tensioner, 32×21, nanoraptors front and rear.  The first lap was a bit faster due to a bypass of the first section of single track.  I was sitting in about 5th or 6th and moved up to about 3rd or 4th at the end of the lap.  I rode the first 2 and half laps with eventual solo winner Adam Hoppe.  He was geared and had much more fun on the climbs than I did.  First lap was 38 minutes.  Second lap was just as fast considering the additional single track….42 minutes.  On the third lap, I switched to the hard tail so Jen could let some air out of my tires.   I pitted so fast she didn’t hear what I said and ended up adding air.   

The hardtail was a bit slower feeling with a 2.55 Weirwolf up front and a 2.3 Exiwolf in the back.  3/4 way through the third lap on the hardtail, I stopped to pee and started to feel some cramping.  4th lap I was back on the FS.  I was drinking 2 full bottles every lap.  About half way into the 4th lap, my legs cramped so bad I had to get off the bike, which made it worse.  I pitted a bit longer the next couple of times through and ate some solid food and took some more salt tabs and sportlegs.  Eventually I was taking one or two of either salt tabs, sportlegs, or ibuprofin from lap 5 and on.  My pits were still pretty quick with my longest at probably 5 minutes.  My lap times stayed around 50 -55 minutes. 

On my first “night” lap, I grabbed the hardtail with lights and a helmet with lights.  I didn’t want to sit around putting on lights when Jen could do it for me.  I ended up not needing the lights as I was able to finish it before it got too dark.  Back on the FS I was lit up and rollin’.  I love night riding and the laps seemed much faster though my fastest night lap was only 52 minutes.  I kept rolling laps as hard as possible and finally stopped cramping on the climbs at about lap 10.  Sometime in there I saw that Lenny, my challenger in the SS category, was done and hadn’t left his pit in a couple of laps.  I decided to go for 13 laps and finished at 9:30. 

My lap count was good for 2nd place solo overall.  I won the SS by 3 laps, 2 if you count Karen Rishel who rode well after the 10 pm ending to complete 11 laps.  She ran a huge gear on a sweet new Superfly.  Props to the solo field.  The sign in posters looked to have about 30 spots on them for all of us nutbags.

I had no flats and only came close to crashing once.  That was on lap 5 or 6 when I was feeling absolutely stupid with my legs cramping on the descents.  My pit spot was probably the best in the race and my pit bitch did a great job even though I rushed through way too many and could have slowed down just a little in order to think things through a bit more and communicate better.

After awards, I crawled back to the camper with my cool trophy and a check for $100.  Hopefully this thing won’t rot away anytime soon.

ss trophy

The Catholic School girls (they’re really MILF’s in disquise) brought back memories of high school.

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My pit area….you can barely see the trail between my 10×10 and the tent in the background.

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I didn’t look nearly this good at 10 pm.

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My dog had a field day checking out lots of new smells and being in her natural “race” environment.

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As a 200 pounder, I am classified as a “seated climber”.  In other words, it is much more effecient for me to remain seated when climbing than it is to lug my giant arse out of the saddle to grunt my way up the hill…thus the need for some sort of rear suspension.  

Ever since I started single speeding, I’ve been using some sort of rear suspension.  My first SS foray was on a K2 Razorback, but I couldn’t get the tensioner/cog combo to work for me.  I gave it up quickly after a banged knee and a shot to the nuts from the top tube.

On my current hardtail SS, I use the Moxey Suspension Seatpost.  Since these posts don’t exist anymore and parts are unavailable, I don’t like to spend lots of time on it…..especially since the Cane Creek sucks crack. 

So I’ve begun my second foray into full suspension singledom.  With the generosity of Renny at YESS Labs, I now have a full suspension specific chain tensioner.  My second ride with it was the Horny Toad NMORS XC race which I crushed on a 32×17.  I had some skipping, but I’m pretty sure it was related to the slightly worn aluminum cog with a new chain.  I put on a steel 21 t for the weekend and rode over 6 hours with it.  I got no skipping or popping!  I also don’t have a front chain guide or tensioner other than the cateye chain watcher….which I probably don’t need as I’ve yet to throw the chain on it.  I did drop it during a night ride when rolling a 20 t after the Horny Toad, but I think my chain alignment was off as I was popping excessively in the rear.

Setup is tedious with this device as there are 5 points of adjustment.  The use of almost every allen size on your multi-tool is required.  Once set up correctly, it works really well.  I really like the fact that it works!  I never had luck with the rear deraileur as a tensioner and the stupid little “singulators” don’t work with the lower swingarm being in the way.  I have to use those as a push down tensioner which does not allow for any chain wrap on the cog.

The YESS ETR-D has a fixed upper bushing/roller/pulley/thingy that allows for maximum chain wrap.  The lower pulley is a standard pulley that is spring loaded with a cantilever brake spring.  I found that running the spring with max tension and as little chain as possible provides the best performance.  There is a bunch of leeway for adjustment in pulley position and spring tension, so set up may take a bit of time.

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You’ve already heard me complain about set up a couple of times.  There are some other things that may bug you that kind of bug me.   I don’t think this device was originally designed for epic SS rides.  I think it was designed for dirt jumpers or park riders who want to forgo gears on their FS bikes.  I say this because the thing is noisy.  The upper pulley/bushing/roller/thingy is quite loud on the chain.  I don’t think it really adds that much friction to the system, but it is definitely more than a sram XO with ceramic bushings.  Not being able to remove the wheel hasn’t been a big issue as I’ve yet to flat while using it.  But if I were to flat at hour 5 of an 8 hour adventure, it may cause some problems if I space off and lose a skewer spring or nut.  I also have only done wheel changes on the work stand, so doing it off the stand may pose some additional challenges.  These are the only gripes I have.  I think that Renny has something pretty good here and if demand dictates it, some minor changes may help create a product that would work even better for us long haul SS’ers. 

This thing will get a ton of use this fall and winter and I’ll be keeping Renny updated.  If you are using one for SS XC use, let me and Renny know how it is treating you.  Maybe we can help develop one that is quiet and allows for easier wheel changes.

I’ve been wanting to pull off something brutal and fun this fall and I think I’ve got it.  Am I a masochist?

Check it out here.

http://nmes.wordpress.com/6-%e2%80%93-el-paso-enduro-poker-ride/

The course is going to be pretty sick. 

I doubt it will include the new northern pass trail, but we’ll see.  The current configuration goes over Mundy’s twice….once in each direction.  This will be a good preview for the shorter Puzzler which takes place in January.

After watching the short track races at the nationals, Jen and I packed up the race house and headed to our first real rock concert since about 1997. There was a huge music fest in Denver and Widespread Panic headlined the show.  Those old guys really rocked the house.  From what I remember, they played Love Tractor, Travelin’ Light, Rebirtha,….and the highlight of the show…drums into Faries Wear Boots!  My God!  That kicked ass!

We boondocked in a Walmart lot and woke 4 hours later to city buses making their way through the park and ride which we were parked in.  uugghh.  We headed to Breck with the hopes of riding around Mt. Guyot.  It was raining and we were super tired so we soldiered on to Utah.  This is when things got weird and we decided to go to Moab.  We drove the La Sal Mt. Loop and found a great place to camp right near the junction of Kokopelli and Hazzard County Trail.  We did a sweet loop on Hazzard!

Onto Salt Lake we soldiered….in 100 degree heat.  The next morning, we looped up the Crest Trail from ma-in-law’s for 5 and a half hours in some sweet heat.  That cooked us.  I’m taking a few days off the bike, but Jen is up here in Deer Valley riding Spin Cycle and other great trails as I poach wireless and get Luna in the water.

We’ll leave SL tomorrow and head back to Colorado with plans for the Guyot loop.  Then on to Laramie for the Enduro.

Titus put us up on their site for “news”.  Interesting that they call Jen a “factory rider”.  Privateer is more like it.  Oh well.  She was kind of mad.  I could care less.  We haven’t received ANYTHING but a discount from them this year….and that was on some oem forks.  They do make great bikes though.

The camping in Breck has been interesting.  We are now surrounded by a Texas Wheelchair (ATV) convention and the rain has been pretty steady.  Downtown Breck is PACKED with cyclists and 4th of July drunks. 

Jen is racing tomorrow and I’m hanging out giving her a feed.  She’ll be on the hardtail rolling the Pacenti NeoMoto in the rear and the Nanoraptor in the front.  Her ride today was rippin’ fast.  She should do well as long as we don’t get sick from the lake water we put into our camper.  Yeah….long story which I will spare you from.

Luna has a new boyfriend.  His name is Koa and he’s awesome.  He really loves Luna and they play together well.  Koa belongs to Pua and Ron Sawicki.  He’s absolutely hilarious.

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Ron and Pua have been awesome to hang out with.  Ron is very generous with his stuff.  So far I’ve borrowed his Nomad bike wash and his bench grinder.  He’s also kicked down some Infinit nutrition and some Okole Stuff…which absolutely rocks.  It will definitely be nice to have in a 6 day stage race…which I start Sunday.

I hope it rains a lot!  I love riding my SS in the slop.  6 days of slop would be even more awesome.