Cool Shot From Whiskey 50

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2011 by bencycles

Just a quick narcissistic update with a cool photo I found in Mountain Flyer Magazine from the Whiskey 50 race. Shot by Brian Leddy Photography

Brian Leddy Photography

2011 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29er HT Custom Build

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2011 by bencycles

I Just picked up a sweet new custom built S-Works Stumpjumper from the gents at B&L Bikes. In my favorite color, no less.
I wanted something light, but also functional as a daily rider just by swapping out wheels or tires. I wanted a good cross country race bike, but I still wanted it to be a mountain bike that I could go ride on the weekends with friends. I used a hardtail exclusively for all my riding/racing last year and was satisfied with it in most cases. Plus the added simplicity, reliability, and clean lines just keeps bringing me back to hardtails. Full suspension is sweet, but there’s still so much to love about hardtails, I’m just not ready to let go.

So the guys at B&L Bikes started with a Specialized S-Works 29er hardtail frame and then built it up with a full SRAM XX group. Light and straightforward and simple to replace broken parts if I’m in a bind. I used SRAM all season last year and it held up really well, so why change now? The cockpit is all from the Big Red S as are the tires. The wheels are a custom set I had built with AC hubs and Crest rims last season. They’re still in great shape and pretty light at 1504g. Not as blingy as these but a lot easier to get a hold of at the moment.

So nothing really revolutionary about the build, just a lot of really good parts that make for one sweet bike. Oh, and it’s neon yellow!

Anyway, here’s a photo dump of green goodness. Most of the pics are after racing a 6 hour solo event, so the bike is a little dirty where I missed it while cleaning.

Here’s the part you probably wanted to see:

Sweet! That’s a XL frame built with pedals and bottle cage, too!

Purple bolts, of course.

I’m running a 140 mm rotor on post mounts in the back.

PF30 crank, 39X26 gearing in the front

…with an old set of Crank Bros 3-Ti pedals. I rebuild the pedals a few times a year and they just keep working.

And 11-36 in the rear. I like the dropouts for 2011, too.

And of course:

purple end caps.

Renegade tires are a good race-day choice. Tubeless setup was a breeze with my floor pump.

Don’t forget your sponsor’s logo!

I pulled off the dust cap from the cartridge headset. Too heavy… If you live in a rainy part of the world, it’s probably not worth the weight savings.

Good tire clearance as long as you’re not gonna go bigger than about 2.2 in the rear. I used 2.2’s on my hardtail at Breck Epic last year and they worked great. I probably wouldn’t go 2.3, though.

I love the Brain Damper in the fork. Really awesome when you’re so beat you can’t see straight, let alone fiddle with a lockout. I currently run it about 5 clicks out from fully closed.

I have also been impressed with the performance of the Reba fork, too. It goes through the travel a little faster than my Fox fork, but feels plusher. I’ll take the tradeoff, especially with the Brain damper.

Carbon crown/steerer.

My favorite saddle:

ESI grips, Specialized carbon bar, Specialized stem, and matchmaker clamps give a clean look.

Spare master link taped to the housing. When you need it, you really need it.

Full view

So yeah, pretty fu@kn sweet bike. The day after I picked it up, I raced the 6 h solo open men’s field at the SoCal Endurance series, Did 7 laps, 65 miles, 7,600′ climbing in 5:37 and got 5th out of 61 in my first attempt at a solo endurance event. Podium!

That bike is awesome. And best of all, it’s green.


Palm Springs Singletrack

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2011 by bencycles

Did a really fun ride on my Epic 29er with some friends this weekend. We’ve been getting a lot of rain (and even snow) in my ‘hood, so it was a good opportunity to go out to the desert for some sweet singletrack before it gets too hot around Palm Springs.

This was my first time with a GoPro camera and my first time editing and mixing so it’s a little rough, but still shows some of the fun trails out in the desert. I’m especially proud of my rad multi-million-dollar special effects…

I’ve been racing a lot lately too, but I can chat about that later. For now, put it on full screen, turn up the volume, and reeelax.



Getting Ready

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2011 by bencycles

Another race season is approaching fast.  Gotta get the bike ready. What to do first?

Install the purple bolts, of course!

Bam! Purple is back, baby. Looks pretty good too.

Next, it was time (well beyond, in fact) to rebuild some pedals. Put the Sprout to bed, crack open a cold one, turn on some tunes, and rebuild some pedals. that’s a friday night at my house.

Then it was time to put some Ti bolts everywhere I could find a home, including the seatpost.

I dig my Raceface seatpost, the clamp mechanism is great, but its not very light. Those two steel bolts are heavy. So I swapped them for Ti. Yummy.

And then I figured Nessie could use new shoes

So I threw on a set of S-Works Renegades and called it a day. they were 502g each for 29″ on my scale. a little heavier than advertised but still ridiculously light. I raced (And won!, whoop whoop) on them a couple weeks ago in Fontana and they hooked up better than I expected. Better than the Small Block 8’s I used to run a couple seasons ago. The knobs are spaced far enough apart that they bite really well. I do think of these tires as use specific (race day) but I also think the Control version would be a great tire for longer rides/races like the Whiskey 50 or Julian Deathmarch where I would still want a fast rolling tire but would also appreciate the improved sidewall protection with minimal weight gain.

Whew, all that work. time for another cold one. These taste absolutely fabulous:

Besides trying all the brew, it was time to try some of the 2011 gear that has started coming in from B&L Bikes. The new Prevail Helmet is sweet.

It fits very similar to my previous Specialized helmet, but it’s lighter. And it’s black. Sweet. I was dubious about a black helmet at first, but it looks freak’n baller with the all black kit. I’m on it.

And of course, Big Daddy B was ready for some shoes of his own, too.

Party time.

And looking at the forecast for the first race of the U.S. Cup West at Lake Morena, that party could look more like a white Christmas than a Safari, but either way, I’m looking forward to it.


Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2011 by bencycles

I think we were all supposed to have flying cars by now. Guess I’ll just keep riding my bike…

Cross season ended way way back in December and lemme tell ya, it ended with a bang. A big muddy bang.

It feels like only yesterday, maybe because I just pulled the bike down from the rafters and cleaned it up two days ago…

It was a great season and I ended up 2nd overall in the vet elite class. Finishing on the podium for the overalls was on my tic list this year, so: mission accomplished. The cross racing in SoCal has really been growing, thanks in large part to Dot’s hard work putting together the SoCal Prestige Series. What a year!

Between a full season of mtb racing and then jumping right into a full cross season, I was ready for a break from the action, at least of the number plate variety.

Drove to CO to hang with the fam for Christmas.

Did a little rock climbing in Jtree.

Hung out with the Sprout.

I even taught her some important life skills like rock skipping

and how to keep water out of your seals when you wash your bike…

Otherwise, it’s been pretty mellow. I don’t really go to the gym, not my cup-o- tea.  instead I surf, rock climb,yoga, a little trail running… all good workouts for mountain biking, and also fun. I’m a big fan of  fun.

Speaking of fun, I’ve started getting back on it, getting some good rides in, trying some new tires and stuff out, sinking even deeper into the world of the weight weeny with my 29er hardtail.

photo:Dan McCormack

photo:Dan McCormack


Good times.

Mixing My Depressants and Stimulants Again

Posted in Uncategorized on December 14, 2010 by bencycles

What’s this? A weekend without a race? Whatever shall I do?

Riding in the morning. Brewing in the afternoon. Roasting in the evening. I took full advantage of the first race free weekend in about 3 months to…

Go ride!

I woke up ’round 5AM and drove up to the San Juan trail at first light on a beautiful SoCal winter day. I’ve been kind of sick and haven’t been on a mountain bike in a while, so it felt great to just get out and ride. Kinda like when all the different microcosms of mountain biking were still just all “mountain biking” and not xc or dh or endurance or short track or freeride. Just riding, getting dirty, and having fun.  It’s like taking out the longboard on a summer afternoon when the waves are small and the sun is low and the water looks like soft golden frosting. Just riding.

Clearly, I’m drinking…

Which is a perfect segue to that afternoon.

I like brewing beer. It’s fun for so many reasons. You take this common thing that people drink every day and make it. It’s a very satisfying feeling. You can share it with friends and impress girls. Plus you can get drunk on it when you’re done! What’s not to like? But I just found out from a Japanese friend that it’s illegal to brew anything at home over 1% in Japan. He’s an avid beer drinker, so it was time to take action. We went to the local homebrew supply store, then stopped at the taco shack for some fresh ahi burritos, and finally grabbed a couple six packs to help us brew, loaded some Japanese hip hop on the speakers and got to business.

We sort of spliced up a strong IPA with a little extra malt for flavor and a Belgian Abby yeast just to see what would happen. I figure it’s either gonna taste like sweet divine heaven or it’s gonna be awful. Regardless, I know it’s still gonna be drinkable, so I’m cool with it.

Mmmm, hops. I love hops. Pellet hops, loose leaf hops, it’s all going in.

Steeping some grain before bringing the water to boil.

A good rolling boil

Adding the final round of flavor hops

Chilling the wort with my home made wort chiller

Racked into the carboy, yeast pitched, let the magic happen

Woo hoo, that’s all there is to it. Time to clean the kitchen.

Next up: Time to roast some coffee. A buddy of mine is starting up his own coffee roasting business and was having an open house to demonstrate the process that same evening. Freaking cool, for pretty much all the same reasons as brewing beer, well except for the drunk part.

Open roast night at Revolution Roasters

Unlike brewing my 5 gallons of beer, the equipment for coffee roasting is big and expensive. The roaster on the right which feeds exhaust into the massive afterburner on the left

Coffee beans before roasting

It was cool being able to hear the first and second crack of the beans as they roasted. The process is surprisingly fast after the machine is warmed up. Maybe 10-15 minutes.

And the freshly roasted beans smell so good. I think I got a caffeine buzz just from standing there.


Fresh from the roaster to the bag

Well, there you go. Ride, brew, roast. Just another day.


Three More Cross Races in the Bag

Posted in Uncategorized on November 29, 2010 by bencycles

Looks like I blinked. Three more cross races in the books. Hot damn. Last weekend was a double up with the Dirt Club Cross race in Los Olivos Saturday and then Convert Cross in Ventura Sunday.

We packed the Prius with bikes and gear and kid and jackets for the 4 hours of driving in torrential rain to the venue. I was excited to have a truly muddy course. We don’t get that much in these parts. I was also a little nervous to have a truly muddy course. We don’t get that… right.

But it was not to be and soon after arriving, the clouds bowed to the pressure of sunny skies and the mud dried to perfect hero dirt by the start of my race. The turn out was a little low, maybe the rain scared a few off, which is a shame because the course was sweet.

Nonetheless, it was fun racing and I was feeling good to take the win. As I’m sure DJ Lancerock would say: “Racing bikes is… Awesome!”

Then it was time for my mini mechanic to clean the bikes for the next day.

Day two, Convert Cross. No rain but it was cooold in the shade. Musta been like 50, or something. Man, I love winter in SoCal, I’m so soft.  A bigger turn out and another stellar course had me working hard, but man was I feeling good again! I love these late-season peaks.

I got a little frisky and tried jumping some stairs. Oops.. I swear other guys made it look easy.

It was a pretty strong field and I was spending a lot of time either trying to close gaps or looking over my shoulder. I love the desperation. Won again! Whoop whoop.

Then yesterday was the District Championships at the Turkey Trot race in Glendale. Another really good course with perfect dirt conditions and cool temps, my favorite.

My start was rad!

And we quickly had a group of 4 or 5 working hard and building a gap. I tried to race smart, taking some hard pulls but trying to conserve too. Man, I gotta do some homework with my barrier skills, though. It’s definitely a weak point for me. I’m as graceful as a drunk giraffe. I can  fake it well enough if the right people are in the wrong place, but when it’s a strong group and everyone’s on the ball, well, I’ll leave it at that.

I attacked with two ta go and gapped off one rider but still had two other strong guys and we stayed together to the end. I got gapped at the barriers and couldn’t close it back down at the line  – ended up second which was good enough for a silver medal at the California District Championships. Sweet!

On that note, this is my 3rd year racing cross, and first truly full season (broken arm season 1, MIA most of season 2) and man has it been fun. Fucking hard, but fun. Racing every weekend is a lot different than racing every other weekend. I feel like I am starting to get a little rhythm instead of just frantic desperation and I’m stoked to refine some mad skillz for next fall.

And to do that, I got a new coach who’s already showing how I can get faster:

What could go wrong?