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Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 Swank

The Course changed from last year.  Turns out the well established short connector between FS225 and the top of Daniels ridge does not have the official blessing of the Forest Service.  The Forest Service also changed there mind, last minute on up to 200 riders going down Cove Creek twice, two days in a row.  Blue Ridge Adventures was forced to do two reroutes, very close to race day.  What they came up with was arguably even better.  Just enough fireroad to string out the pack, before the clockwise assault up Daniel Ridge.  The gradual old narrow FS road, still allowed plenty of opportunities for passing, until the right, where the bridge is gone.  From there the race is on, up a super gnarly climb, to the top of Daniel Ridge, past the connector, and down what was the timed enduro section of the previous days Couch Potato.  Completing the Daniel Ridge loop.  Taking a right back on 475, a long FS road climb up to Gloucester gap.  Then a left on to 471 for a little more climbing, before descending to the climb up to the Butter gap DH, up Long Branch, utilizing a little FS road to avoid the rutted part of Long Branch.  Where the Couch Potato. takes a right back on 475, the Swank, turns back up hill to the rest stop at Gloucester gap, before really pointing uphill on 229 towards the Farlow gap/Daniel Ridge enduro section, going down the initial climb of the event,  Left back on 475 (Couch Potato is the same from here), to the left up the Headwater rd (475B) climb to 225, and down Cove Creek to the finish.

I worked the gate so I started my video there, about a quarter mile from the start.  Then some video at the hairpin coming down Daniel the first time, Wes gives some cornering tips on that video.  Before heading to the finish, I got the top 9 descending the last of the gnar on the Enduro section on Daniels ridge and several others on my way back down.  They were so spread out I missed the top 5 at the finish, but got nearly everybody else.  Everybody that rode the Swank, is on the playlist somewhere, though, several times.



Thursday, November 6, 2014

2014 Couch Potato


I really dug last years event, so when I got into Brevard, I had to contact Blue Ridge Adventures, just the week before their final weekend of the year!  It started off with the Couch Potato.  Since my shoulder has only been amiable to mountain biking for a couple weeks, helping out the seemed wiser than racing.  Todd, Heather and crew, really foster a fun an festive atmosphere! From Tyler announcing every racer by name as they cross the line, furnished from BRA's crack timing staff and system, to the choice of either a pulled pork sandwich

 or chicken and rice, served with kale, along with recovery beverages, to Nightrider and Industry Nine showing there cool toys.

I arrived at 7:30 am to snow accumulating on the grassy slope, that serves as parking for the cars.  As you could imagine it made getting everyone parked safely, a little tricky at times, but we got it done without any mishaps.

I brought my GoPro, incase I had some opportunities to record.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Carvin's Cove SS Ride

It felt great to get back on the SingleSpeed again.  In regards to MTBing, I have had fits and starts after I damaged my shoulder.  So it felt great to get back on the SingleSpeed again.   After Sunday's ride at Stephen's, on my geared bike, I was stoked.  I was able to float through the rock gardens again and not want to cry when every my rear tire spun out on a climb.  My plan was to follow the Gamut course.  The Gamut has many loops that make it easy to get back the TH, making taking the SS a low risk situation.  If the shoulder wasn't having it, I could switch to my geared bike.  The first hour or so, was fine and I kept thinking I could have gone from the 22 to a 21 or 20t rear cog, mated up to my 34t Rotor ring and been a little bit happier on the inbetweens and still make the climbs.  That is until I started up Tuck-A-Way, still a 21t would be fine.  But Climbing Jacob's Drop was another story.  I had to get off and walk every so often.  Then once on Bushy MT you just keep climbing, but at a manageable grade.  Down the Trough and up the Gauntlet, led to a few short walks too.

Once you start going up or down, expect to be doing that for a while, here.

Carvin's is kind a like Douthat minus the Pisgah like portions.  I would have sworn that I was on the switchbacks of Buck Hollow in Douthat as I scampered down the switchbacks on Hi De Ho!

Being my first SS ride in a while, I figured that 21 miles was enough given the 3500 feet.  I will bring the geared bike back tomorrow.

Carter turned me on to VES website that has a great map and GPX files for the Gamut.




















Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stopping off at Carvin's Cove

Carvin's Cove is just north of Roanoke Virginia.  I heard about it from Carter, well over a year ago, when he came up to Douthat to ride there with me.  It sounded great then, with like 20 miles of trails. They keep on adding and I am looking forward to 30 miles.  Unfortunately I am squeezing in two week day rides, between a rather late departure form NJ and rooting for my teammates at a race at Kerr Scott.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Strava Live Tracker

Strava finally says they are working in a Live Tracker, I am stoked!

See the Support thread:

https://strava.zendesk.com/entries/23882755-Live-Tracking-Feature?page=1#post_23022250

Me Too! it and add a comment to keep them stoked as well.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cornering

Ever wonder why some riders just pull away when it gets twisty, even though others might be a more powerful climbers or faster in a the straights?

In mountain biking, you need sufficient fitness and power to weight of course.  But without bike handling skills, you will be left in the dust.  In this article I will discuss cornering.

There are a couple of camps on cornering.  Cross Country or Down Hill/All mountain .

DH and All Mountain riders, generally run full suspension rigs with more travel, wider tires and bars than those used by the XC crowd.  They will drop the seat post, unlike XC, where the length of the rides and races preclude standing the whole time.  There is debate on whether the energy savings of staying seated is worth more than the aggressive handling that a dropped seat allows.  Dropper seat posts are a burgeoning option to do both.

For all turns above tip over speed 4-5 mph, initiating the turn, with a counter steer, weighting the outside grip, momentarily turning slightly opposite the turn, helps set up turning in the direction you want to go.

XC riders and racer, particularly those with a road back ground, will then steer into the turn and by weighting the inside grip and outside pedal(pedaling forward, not backwards to prevent derailing the chain and crossing gears).  Not long ago more hardtails than full suspension bikes were found at the races.  That ratio has flipped and there are more FS bikes now.

The DH/AM rider will also counter steer and then weight the inside grip, but here is were the dynamics differ.  Ala BikeJames and Better rides, you keep your outside foot back to support the weight of the hip swing to the outside weighting that pedal down, akin to carving a ski turn, with a back pedal action.

Lee McCormack, is similar but you go into the corner with the outside foot forward, allowing you to swing your inside knee towards the inside of the corner, allowing a forward pedal to weight the outside foot.

In his article Seb Kemp states a concern that weighting the inside grip,may push the front tire to far to the outside.

I am in the XC camp.  You can read below to see how that came about.  My style is more of a blend.  I run my saddle a little lower than my road bike height, but still in efficient pedaling range.  I will slide my but off the saddle slightly to the outside.  With the outside foot down, inside leg is up high enough to do this, or even let it move in front of the saddle to get more outside if needed.  I keep my upper body close to the bars to weight the front wheel, to maximize traction, with a slight up words roll to the outside.  Kind of automatic when you push the inside bar down, while staying close to the bars.  But like Seb says don't let the front wheel stray to far outside.  I learned pressure on the inside grip method.  it comes from road biking where the handlebars are much narrower.  So after the counter steer, weight the inside grip to get the lean going in the direction of the turn, then drive the front wheel into the ground with the outside grip.  It kind of feels like flying and the handlebars are your wings.

There are times that keeping your pedals level ground, particularly in rough terrain.  There is one technical section at the Vortex at Santos in Ocala Florida that I go in to the right and snake left and right in not much more than a bike length.  I felt much more stable with the left foot back, because the two right snakes define the feature.

I see a problem with outside pedal back, weight the pedal down is effectively a back pedal.  Even with a chain guide upfront, the chain can cross up in back across the the cogs.  Sometimes just a nasty noise, sometimes the chain skips or jams, twists or breaks.  The hopefully you just stop and not knee the stem or pitch off the bike, ouch.

I was part of a lengthy discussing at Mountain Bike Geezer.

I started to revisit cornering after encountering machine made berms for the first time at  Tannehill Alabama, shortly after embarking on this Quest.

I mean man made berms, not the occasional natural banking off of a the base of a tree or the contour trails that cross washes, kills and runs.  Now, I have been riding for decades on fire roads and deer trails.  Deer don't have much need for berms.  I taught myself how to corner after reading Davis Phiney's book "Training For Cycling", oh so many years ago.  being a sprinter and not a climber, he used cornering skills regain contact with the peloton on the descents.  You can get copies on online cheap.

Berms actually require little technique, at speed.  I had to train myself not to do my usual technique on berms.  You need to keep your weigh more in line with the bike. You and the bike lean in relationship to the horizon but is nearly perpendicular to to the banked surface.   To actually increase your speed, bring your mass to the inside, swing your inside knee in and opening your chest facing it toward the exit of the berm, pushing the bike into the hole that is the apex of the berm and pull the bars back to the chest on exit, pulling a wheelie or almost pulling one.  I am starting to get it, letting off the brakes and using as much speed as possible, seems to be the trick.




Friday, August 22, 2014

Velocity Blunt 35


 Up to now I have not said much about the Blunt 35s.  To be blunt, they have given me pretty much zero reason to worry about them, they simply do a great job of holding the bead of that big tire tubelessly. I am super happy with the Velocity tubeless rim strip and valve!  As a system it is great, give the 3 inch tire a nice profile and is strong and reasonably light, particulary compared to the Surly Rabbit Hole.No apparent damage,even after numerous soft bottom outs, usually running 13.5 psi, Last ride, I must have had a puncture or burp and was down to 9.5 PSI and Blunt still held the Knards bead!
                                                                                   
No sign of stretch, using Stan's sealant on the lighter 120 TPI Kards
Casing

Knob to knob.
After lot's of trail time, the corner and side knobs are showing some wear.  This may account for the hunting on wet rocks on the Lynskey.