Monday, June 8, 2015

Racing Season

Racing season is finally in full swing. Probably the cause of my lack of posting here.
This year it seemed like racing came up fast and my "base training" period was short. But I am always excited to start toeing the line every season and this year was no different.

My first race of the season was Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) race #2, up north in Rhinelander. I haven't raced this stop in a few years because I usually head to Indiana for the Northern Indiana Fat and Skinny Tire Fest instead. But this year, since I missed race #1 due to a wedding, I decided I'd better not skip two in a row and I headed up to Rhinelander.

The first race of the season is traditionally rough for me. This year it arguably went slightly better, I was able to finish 4th behind a raging Nathan Guerra and Cole House and a very strong Brian Matter. I wish I would have been able to stay with the leaders early, but I'll take a 4th at the first race of the year.

Hurtin' at the first race of the year chasing fast guys.

Next up after WORS #2 was one of the few crits I still do every year, Snake Alley in Burlington IA. For those of you who aren't familiar here is how the race flier describes the race:

"the Snake Alley Criterium is held on a fifteen block course, with differences in elevation from 555 feet to 678 feet. The course is entirely on city streets, mostly in a downtown commercial area. A one block long climb is on the historic brick street named Snake Alley, dubbed "the crookedest street in the world." The 276 foot long Snake Alley has 5 switchbacks in a sixty foot climb. The average grade is 12.5 percent in that one block. Bring a suitable gear cluster for that kind of climbing. This is one of the most physically challenging races in the Midwest".

Its a hard one for sure and a race I have always want to do well at. I was hoping to improve on my best place of 4th a few years ago.
The race went reasonably well and I was able to bridge to the winning break about half way through, but unfortunately didn't have the legs to stick with it and after about 3 laps had to fall back to the chasing pack of about 10 riders. I tried a few more moves, not wanting it to come down to a sprint, but nothing worked and I ended up rolling across the line in 9th place. A solid top 10 but a bit bitter sweet after getting so close to sticking it for a top 3.

Off the front on the Snake with eventual winner Chris Uberti 

Warming up before the Snake on my Sport Crafter rollers. It is important to get a good warm-up in before such an intense race.

I finished off my three week opening block of racing at WORS #3 right outside Madison at Cam Rock Park. This is one of my favorite WORS races, the trail is awesome and it is fun racing so close to home. 
The race went well and I was able to finish in 4th once again. A solid result that I will hope to improve on over the next few races. I rode strong but don't yet have the power to stay with the leaders   when the racing gots fast. Hopefully the racing and training I have been putting in will pay off as the season progresses and I am able to fight for the win at the front of the race instead of finishing just off the back. 

Ripping the single track at Cam Rock in my new POC helmet and sunglasses.

This last week I put in what will probably be my biggest volume training week of the season at just over 19hrs. The legs felt good and the time I did on the mountain bike will hopefully up my handling skills as well. 
Overall I am very pleased with my first three races. It would have been great to secure at least one top 3 finish but I was consistent and I know my fitness will only improve as time goes along. 

This weekend I will be headed to WORS #4 in Wausau. It will be tough race for sure, but I'm ready to give it another go! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Little 500

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of helping out my old Little 500 team Black Key Bulls as their race day pit mechanic.

My friend Ren Jay shot some photos before the start.

Black Key Bulls qualified this year in 6th position. They wore the yellow jersey of the returning champions.

Prepping the bikes and dialing in the set-up.

Aumni on the fence.

Final adjustments to chain tension.

The last few practice exchanges before the start.

A sad year for Black Key Bulls, we lost one of our founding members and a great guy, CT Blackwell.

Black Key Bulls finished 2nd in the race .0024 sec behind 1st, less the the width of a tire. A heart breaking finish, but a great result and a huge effort by another awesome group of guys. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

My New Cannondale F-Si

The last couple years I have been lucky enough to have been racing on some of the best bikes around, Cannondale. The last two years I was even luckier and had both a Scalpel full suspension bike and a F29 hardtail. Both bikes rode amazing. 
Last season I found myself on the full suspension Scalpel a lot of the time. For the style of racing we do here in Wisconsin, bumpy trails with not a ton of climbing, a full suspension bike makes a lot of sense. The hardtail got ridden too, but only at a handful of races, short track, Chequamegon, Iceman and a few others. The main reason was the F29 was fast, real fast, like flip over your bars if your not paying attention fast. This was awesome for some applications but for others, like when your trying to rip a steep rough downhill, it could be a bit much, at least for me. 
So when I heard that Cannondale was coming out with a all new hardtail I was pretty excited to see how they could improve on the super fast F29. 

The all new Cannondale F-Si. 

My new F-Si ready to race!

One carry over from the my old F29, Hi-Mod carbon. Cannondale's highest end carbon, lighter, stiffer and stronger. 

There are several big changes from the F29. Cannondale is calling the new geometry "system 29". 

The first major change is in the rear triangle. The F-Si has an asymmetric rear triangle. The drive train is moved out to the right and the rear wheel is moved back to the left and into line with the rest of the bike. This results in a zero dish rear wheels, so its stronger, a ton of tire clearance, yet they can still build the frame with super short chain stays.  

Super short chain stays make for a snappier feeling bike. 

Si cranks with a offset chainring spider to bring out the drive train.

Tons of tire clearance. Thats a 2.25 tire!

The other big change with F-Si is up front. The F-Si uses a new Lefty fork, "Lefty 2.0". The new fork  now has 100mm of travel and a new bigger diameter clamp area, which results in more comfort and stiffness. But the real story is the new 55mm offset, which in coordination with a slacker head tube angle gives the F-Si a very new feeling and handling front end. The new front end geometry and fork are a major change from the old F29. 
The F-Si, as a result of the fork and geometry, steers amazing and gives another level of confidence when bombing down descents or diving into corners. The first time I rode the F-Si I immediately felt more confident pushing the front wheel and diving into corners than I ever did on my old bikes due to a significantly more stable feeling and steering bike.

So we've got an awesome new frame and fork...
What about the rest of the bike? 
It doesn't get any better than SRAM XX1. Happy to be going into my third season on this awesome group. 

Custom touch, a green "1" to match our Cannondale bikes and 5Nines/Motorless Motio Bicycles kits!

My butt has been happy on Fi'zi:k Aliante saddles for a few years. This year they redesigned it. I was scared for a while, till I tried it. The new saddle is a big improvement compared to the old one, longer nose makes it easier to slide forward. And a longer, reshaped tail, makes it easier to get behind the saddle as well. Now and even better mountain bike saddle!

I'm running SRAM XX brakes with 160mm Centerline rotors. The new rotors are smoother and quieter than other rotors. 
I've been a fan of Gripshift for a long time. So I'm happy SRAM still makes a Gripshifter for XX1.

This year we are super happy to be working with NOX composites. Our wheels are incredibly light. They are also wider than most which results in much better tire traction and stability. They also set-up tubeless really well. 
Early testing has proven them to be strong and stiff as well. Can you ask for anything more? 

Front wheel on the F-Si uses the new Cannondale Lefty Super Max hub. The new hub has wider flanges which results in an even stronger and stiffer wheel.

Rock Shox Hydro lockout and XX brake levers play together very nicely. 

The little things count on a full on race bike. Ti bolts throughout keep the complete bike weight to well under 20lbs. 

Overall, the F-Si with its shorter chainstays and new asymmetric rear triangle design, and its new fork and front end geometry rides amazing. It is much more responsive than any hardtail I have ridden before. Yet it is also more stable and confidence inspiring. Often a bike that feels quick doesn't have the corresponding stability, the F-Si balances these two attributes amazingly.  

Both new 2015 race bikes ready to go! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Eddy Merckx 7-Eleven Team Build

The Modern Classic 

I recently built-up this bike for a friend. The goal of the build was to use a classic frame built with modern components while keeping the classic look.

The frame is an original team edition Eddy Merckx 7-Eleven team frame, it even has a number holder. The frame was recently refurbished and repainted and looks like new.

The components I chose are a mix of new 11 speed Campagnolo Athena and Veloce in silver. I also sourced some older parts like silver Campagnolo hubs and a 1" threaded Record headset to allow the build to transition from classic to modern without the use of black components.

I think the build turned out nicely. Here are some photos: