Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ergon GX3 Grips...A Thing of Beauty

Ever since I was convinced to try Ergon grips way back in 2005 by Jeff Kerkove, and then riding 1 season for the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team in 2007 I have been sold on using Ergon grips.  Ergon continues to raise the bar with their line of products, including grips, packs, and gloves.  For the past two seasons I have been using their GX2 Carbon grips w/ bar ends.  They have now come out with an all new GX3 grips (introduced in 2009) which utilizes the same grip shape/padding as the GX2 but has a much more ergonomical bar end.  After my first ride using the GX3, I can honestly say that this grip will improve performance.

The bar end is so comfortable and  it allows you (the rider) to transfer power to the pedals by giving you leverage that you don't get from other grips/bar end combos.  When standing out of the saddle with your hands on the bar ends, the amount of leverage you have allows all of your energy to be distributed to the cranks; which ultimately gives you more power.  If you don't believe me, try one out for yourself.   I would  recommend these grips to anyone looking to gain an advantage, and who wouldn't want to gain an advantage.
To view all grips, visit Ergon.

Jeff Kerkove, Yuki Saito and Sonya Looney are all members of the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team and travel to lots of races (mostly west of the Mississippi) sporting the Ergon booth.  They always have gear to sell (usually at a discounted price) and can help you properly set up your grips if you are unsure.  The grips come in either Grey or Team Edition Green.

I can't believe that I am going to say this, but I truly think that flat bars and bar ends are making a comeback, if they haven't already.  I would love to hear your comments about this.  Leave a comment and say whether you are a flat bar user, or riser bar user.  If I get enough comments, I will share results on a future Blog. 

Thanks for reading !

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mountain Bike Nationals?

Bend, OR has been the hot spot lately for National Championship events, including the most recent Cyclocross Nationals in 2009, as well as the 2009 Elite and Junior National Championships road races. Now there may be another on the horizon and one that I would be psyched about. Click here to read all about it in The Bulletin.
I've even heard rumors that Bend is trying to bid for the 2013 Marathon World cool would that be.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whiskey Off-Road 50 Report

I have been wanting to do this race for several years and finally was able to make it happen this season. The Whiskey Off-Road 50 takes place in Prescott, AZ at elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 ft. There are actually 3 separate distances to choose from; 15 mile, 25 mile, and 50 mile. However, they prefer to call the mileages "proofs" instead; hence the name Whiskey. I did the 50 proof.

With a pretty strong field of riders; including Tinker, Andy Schultz and Dana Weber I was hoping for a Top 5. I had been feeling pretty good coming into the race, although only having 1 road race under my legs I wasn't sure how they would respond. There is roughly 7,000 ft of elevation gain in the race, with most of it coming on fire roads. The race begins downtown with a police escort out of town until the pavement turns to dirt. The pace from the gun was intense, much like a XC race. For nearly 4 miles the race was on pavement and most of it is all uphill and pretty steep. With the fast pace small groups began to develop. I was on the back of the lead group (about 8 riders) once we hit the dirt and into the singletrack. I had exerted a good amount of energy but recovered quickly. The singletrack sections of the race were pretty sweet; lots of rocks and hard pack dirt. By the time we reached the first downhill section I realized I didn't have enough air n my front fork. I had just had it serviced by DT Swiss and didn't remember how much pressure I was running in it before sending it in (user error). There were several water boards (to prevent erosion) and after the first dropoff my fork completely bottomed out. From that point on I had the fork partially locked out on the downhill sections to prevent any more bottoming out. I don't think I lost much time because of this, it just made it a little less comfortable.

After several miles of rolling singletrack, some downhills, and a short climb, the long descent to Skull Valley came. This was a 12 mile descent on a fire road, which we would then turn around and climb back up after reaching Skull Valley. On the descent I worked with one other rider to catch 4 other riders. By the time we all reached the turn around point I was in the third group of leaders, about 4-5 minutes of the lead. Now began the long climb back up to the summit. I was working with Jeremy Thatcher and Scott Keller for most of the climb before Jeremy and I rode alone. With 2 miles to the top he opened up a gap on me that I couldn't close. Once we reached the summit we entered the final singletrack sections that was totally rewarding. After climbing for nearly an hour it was a nice reward and made all the suffering go away. Lots of rocks and fast flowing singletrack for the next 5 miles before getting back on the pavement for the final run in to the finish. I could see Jeremy and one other rider in front of me but couldn't catch them. I finished the race strong and good enough for 10th place out of 200+ riders. The winner, Andy Schultz finished just over 12 minutes ahead of me. I believe Tinker was in the lead with only a few miles left, but apparently he made a wrong turn and got lost.

# Rider Name / Result
1 Andy Schultz 3:17:50
2 Jeff Herrera 0:00:03
3 Lance Runyan 0:00:16
4 Daniel Matheny 0:05:16
5 Will White 0:09:27
6 Yuki Saito 0:10:23
7 Jeremy Thatcher 0:11:04
8 Scott Keller 0:11:40
9 Eric Salstrand 0:12:04
10 Sloane Anderson 0:12:23

It was a great race and the post-race festivities were just as good. After changing clothes and getting something to eat, we had a few beers at one of the saloons (there are many) and then watched the last of several bands that played in the town square throughout the afternoon. The band was Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers (formerly known as The Refreshments). With the weather still in the 70's, it was a perfect way to relax after riding hard for 3.5 hours.

My season has officially begun and I am happy where my fitness is. Once again I was completely happy with how the BMC FS01 rode. The combination of lightweight and comfort kept me feeling strong for the entire race. Using the Ergon GX2 Carbon grips kept my upper body relaxed and hands/wrists comfortable. I am soon going to switch to using the new GX3, which utilizes a longer and more ergonomical bar end.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hutch's Century Ride

I will keep this short and simple. Hutch's Annual Century ride begins and ends in Bend, OR. Heads out to Smith Rock (infamous rock climbing grounds) before heading to the very scenic area of the Prineville Reservoir and finally back in to town.

Each year roughly 50-100 riders show up, and each year the "ride" almost always has the "race" atmosphere. That's why it is such a great ride. It' one thing to go out and ride 10 miles with your friends, but it's another to go out and suffer with a bunch of your friends without having to worry about the final days results.

For many of us this ride is just another hard training ride that prepares us for the upcoming races. And for some it is the ride they look forward to all year because it gives them a chance to ride with the "fast guys". No matter your goal, it's all about having fun.

With warm temps and clear skies on Sunday, most of us had fun. Unfortunately, there did happen to be an accident a few miles after the first Aid Stop at Smith Rock. There was a section of road that had been graded and there was a rubber padding across the road. I'm not sure exactly what happened as I did not see it happen. It's almost inevitable, but with that many riders pushing hard tempos, the chance of a crash certainly increases.

The Aid Stops were fully loaded with all the goodies; including most fruit, energy bars, lots of sweets, and some Cytomax, and each was spaced about 30 miles apart.

Aid Stop #1 at the rock climbing mecca of Smith Rock.

Riding tempo on the windy flats between Smith Rock and the Prineville Reservoir

Photos of Prineville Reservoir will have to come during another post because the battery in my camera went dead just before we reached that area. It is such an amazing area for riding, as you have the river, steep climbs, mountains, and of course the Reservoir. If you are in town for the Cycling Classic Stage Race and are racing as a Pro/Cat 1 you will experience it first hand.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Table Rock RR

After missing out on two races last weekend, I decided to partake in a road race yesterday down near Grants Pass, OR. Made the 3 hour trip down with Cloninger and Rogers. A good mixture of some rolling hills and one final steep hull top finish made for some exciting racing.
Being fellow mountain bikers, Cloninger and myself decided not to sit in during the race, but rather stir things up a bit with some attacks. I attacked first with one other rider on the first lap; lasting only 3-4 miles. Then it was Dave's turn towards the end of the first lap, but again not lasting very long. The the move of the day happened on the 2nd lap, with Cloninger and one other rider attacking and getting a descent gap. I decided to put in several surges on the 2nd climb that allowed me to break away from the peloton and bridge up to the two riders. From here we slowly opened up a 3-3.5 minute gap. On the start of the last lap, Dave and I dropped the other rider (Owens Team) on the gradual 3 mile climb. At the top of the climb, I started to feel signs of bonking coming on. After a fast 2 mile descent we had about 4 miles to go to the finish. I was beginning to hurt, while Dave was still looking good. With 2 miles to go Dave opened up a gap on me and I couldn't hold on. I was beginning to struggle just to turn the pedals. Now seeing the 1K marker, I just had to make it up the final hill top finish. I looked back and still didn't see any riders catching us. Each pedal stroke felt like I was pedaling in quicksand. When I hit the 200 meter-to-go sign Dave was already celebrating his victory, while I still didn't see anyone behind me. As I inched my way up the climb, I was passed by Rogers and Seaton with 20ft to the finish. It was your classic Tour de France race where the lone breakaway rider gets passed just before the finish. I had literally hit the wall and could barley turn over a 39/23 gear.
Very pleased with a strong workout and happy for Cloninger taking the victory and scoring a new set of Rolf Wheels.

Rogers, Sheasby, Cloninger and myself. Top 3 Men and Terri Sheasby won the Women Pro/1/2 field.

Up next is the Sunday Hitch's Century ride. With temps supposed to reach in the 70's, should make for a fun day on the bike. Ride On!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Arizona Recap

With a full 9 days down in Sunny AZ last week, it's back to reality here in Bend, OR. Temperatures are barely reaching into the 50's and the clouds have been keeping the skies somewhat gray.

The trip to the southwest didn't go quite as I would have hoped. Jenny and I hit the road early at 4:30am on Friday to beat the "rush hour" traffic and make it down to northern California in time to have some good 'ol breakfast at one of my favorites, the Black Bear Diner. We stopped in Susanville, CA right around 9:30am with our stomachs ready to enjoy a hearty meal to provide the energy for the long trip.

With a full tank of gas and a full stomach we began our next stretch of driving through most of central eastern California and parts of Nevada. Once we reached Reno, NV the winds were howling at 40-50mph. These were some of the strongest winds I have ever driven through and it was not fun.

We initially were planing to stop by Lake Tahoe, but decided to save some time and bypass it. So our next atop would be Mammoth Lakes, CA which seemed like it was in the dead of winter. Sitting at roughly 7,000ft it was snowing and the temps were in the 30's. You would have to really enjoy snow living there. We decided to check out the local bakery, and Schat's seemed to be the perfect place.

Tasty Treats mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

After a short visit in Mammoth Lakes, we decided to head towards Vegas to spend the night. We didn't quite make it Vegas, instead we spent the night in Beatty, NV. Crossing into NV from California on Hwy 168 was pretty cool. It was a super winding road and very scenic. I don't think I ever got over 25 mph for nearly 16 miles. There was even a section of one lane for about 1/4 mile.

The black line you see is the road for the next 10 miles

We hit the road early again Saturday morning in hopes to meet my brother and his family outside of Vegas as they were heading to the Vegas airport on there way back to Chicago after spending time in Arizona as well. We tried to coordinate our dates but wasn't able to make it happen. It been nearly 4 years since we last saw each other and it was shocking to see how big his kids have gotten.

The older bro and his family

We finally reached my parents house in Buckeye, AZ Saturday night. My cycling plans were to ride mostly easy all week in preparation for 2 XC races in California over the upcoming weekend. On Monday, I went out for an easy spin around their neighborhood to flush out the heavy feeling in my legs from all the driving. Within 20 minutes I was on the ground and badly scraped up. I wasn't exactly sure what had just happened. My front tire completely slid out from underneath my bike and the next thing i knew I was on the ground. I knew I had done some damage to my body but didn't know the severity. When I made it back to the house, I could see that my right hip and elbow areas had taken the blunt of the fall. This crash pretty much laid me up the entire week, as it was uncomfortable t pedal for 2-3 days. by Thursday I went out for another easy spin, this time lasting 1 hour. On Friday I went out and did some short hard intervals in case I would race on Sat and Sun. I chose to bag the Saturday race (Kenda Cup SW)and only do the Napa Valley Dirt Classic race on Sunday up near Santa Rosa, CA. Well wouldn't you know it, the day of the race it was completely pouring rain. With my body still not feeling great I decided not to risk injuring myself even more and bagged this race too. I was not happy not getting at least one race in this week.

Road rash from a mountain bike

Even though I didn't get much riding in, we still had a great time. The weather was amazing (70-80's every day) and hanging out with the "p's" is always enjoyable.
One of the days we hiked up to a bat cave that's near my parents house. Yes, a bat cave. I would say it was a bit creepy to pa point, but also pretty cool. I even caught a bat flying at me on camera. You have to look really hard but you can see one.

Look in the upper middle of the cave (dark area) to see the bat

The cave was about 5 feet tall and extremely dark, duh. I don't know how far it went on for, we made it about 30-40 ft in before I started to get a little freaked out by the noise they were making.

Here are some more pics from Arizona

Beauty in the dessert

Relaxed by this most of the time

Jenny strikin' a pose

Fun in the sun/sand baby