Even More Cross!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2010 by bencycles

Every week another weekend comes. Strange, that. So much cross.

What’s better than dressing up for Halloween?
Halloween 2010

Dressing up for cross of course.

The Spooky Cross night race is one of my favorite courses of the whole season.  And while my form might have been pure shyte for my “real” race, I have to say my costume was fully legit for the costume race.

Have you ever tried racing cross with aero bars? It’s kinda hard…

Especially when you can’t see.

…but so much fun.

The next race was put on by my team, Celo Pacific. One of the best parts about getting the course ready is spending the night on the beach to “guard” the course the day before the race. It was a bit hectic getting us all packed. Well, mostly getting me packed. I swear my 3-year-old is more organized. Once we got out there, though, it was a lot of fun.

And while it was wet and muddy during set up

the course dried out the next day and was awesome for the race.

It’s one of my favorite courses of the season. I’ll admit I need to work on my cross skills a bit, but this race is a fast power course and my old roadie roots came in handy to help me win my race! Sweet!

Well, the very next weekend, I pretty much got my ass handed to me at Griffith Park up in LA. I guess some times you get roses and some times you get the shit kicked out of you…

My start was freaking awesome as evidenced by my sweet hole shot. Take that suckas!  But alas, it was not to be and I think by the second lap I was riding backwards.

Such is the yin and the yang of the zen crosser.

Next stop; Long Beach. Sweet bumpy Long Beach. I love this course. Fun, interesting, and so bumpy on the backside. I tried to make a move with 3 ta go but it was more like a slap with a damp washcloth than a crush with a hammer. It was good enough for 3rd on the day. A podium spot is a podium spot after all, and it was a fun day out.

Well, that leaves cross season more than half done. If I blink too long, another weekend will be here.

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Cooking with Cross

Posted in Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 by bencycles

This isn’t Belgium.  I don’t need embrocation. What I do need is a bottle cage. And ice.

We’ve had three straight weekends of cross now and every week before each race, it’s been cool, it’s been cloudy, it even rained. Splendid. Then Friday rolls around and like a slap across my face with an empty jar of Speculoos pâte, another Santa Anna blows through and cooks us all to bacon. Liv’n the dream in SoCal.

So, race reports race reports race reports:

Race 1: Irvine, 102°F, rolled front tire in first lap. “Well fuck, that wasn’t what I’d envisioned…” 10th place.

Race 2: Krosstoberfest #1, San Dimas, mid 80’s felt darn nice after the week before. My favorite course so far. Don’t let that muddy pic fool ya. Dry grassy course with a mud section from a broken sprinkler. the layout and flow of this course was great. A lackadaisical start on my part led to a little argy-bargy through the bunch to work my way back up. 3rd place.

Race 3: Krosstoberfest #2: Low 90’s was making it’s presence known. So was yesterdays exertions. The start of this one led us through a paved road going downhill with a decreasing radius turn into the dirt and a speedbump in the apex of the turn for good measure. I cooked myself good in the first 60 seconds of the race to get the hole shot…

…and was contemplating my life’s choices about 5 minutes later.

Had to ride backwards for a couple laps whilst I recovered and then pulled back up into 4th place.

Race 4: Chino, beautiful Chino. 97°F. What a weird freaking place. The venue was fine, but the juxtaposition of shiny new gated communities on one side of the road with enormous prisons in the background and cattle yards on the other side of the road is just odd. The race itself was good, though bumpy from all the gofer holes (SoCal’s substitution for mud…). I tried mixing up my style a bit to deliver a nice little pain fest with the group at the front. 3rd place.

The racing has been fun but one of my favorite parts about cross season is just hanging out with everyone. It’s one of the best parts. I can go to one of these things and see a ton of people I know from the mtb, from the road, from the industry, even from cross. And because each lap is short and sweet, it makes for great atmosphere. We might not have cross weather yet, but we certainly have the cross fun. I’m sure it’ll cool off by next weekend…

2011 Specialized Crux Expert Carbon

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2010 by bencycles

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So this is what a race bike feels like. Damn. I thought my old bike was just how cross bikes were supposed to handle. This thing is night and day from my old bike. It feels like a race bike, like a crit bike, I love it. I didn’t even know what I was missing.

I Just grabbed a size 61 Specialized Crux Carbon Expert from the gents at B&L Bikes. It came stock with the new Sram Apex group but Gordon swapped the 1-year-old parts off my now 4-year-old Aluminum frame so at this point the Crux is running a mostly SRAM Red drivetrain save for the Dura Ace crank and Apex frnt der.

Then I pimped it out with some sweet Silk carbon tubulars and a gold chain. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I put all the Apex parts on my old frame to use as my commuter/training/spare bike. I’m pretty curious to see how the new Apex group works compared to the high-end Red group.

The new Crux frame is supposedly modeled after the geometry of the Specialized Tarmac frame, which is what I used for all my riding when I was in Europe for 6 months last year and I loved it. So to feel that same snappy handling in a cross bike feels right at home.

Built up as shown above, my 61 cm bike weighs 17.8 lbs, which I’m pretty happy with. If you really want to go light and you have a little extra coin, get the S-Works module. I’ve seen a medium sized 2011 module built up to 15.5 lbs without using any stupid light parts.

I don’t know if I’m gonna be faster, but I sure am gonna look better on the start line. All this red/black/white coordination is so matchy matchy.

Red hubs are sure to please.
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Replaceable dropout is a pretty normal sight these days.
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Down tube cable routing for the front and rear shifting is simple and direct. If you’re looking for internal routing, the alloy frames might be the way to go. Especially if you get the pink one.

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A ton of tire clearance in both the front and back, not that we really need it for our dry SoCal Courses. But you never know, maybe this will be the year we get muddy courses. One can always dream.
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DPP_0040Also in the photo above is a view of the single bottle cage mount on the down tube. I’m fine with just a single cage, but if I do run just one, it’s usually on the seat tube.

Pretty good clearance between the crank and chainstay, too.
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I really like having a brake hanger on the fork. On my old bike I had a lot of trouble with brake shudder when I tried running the brake line from the headset area. The fork mounted hanger solved my problem. I get no fork shudder whatsoever. The front end feels really stable on the Crux.
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A threaded BB shell works out well for me since I’m still running a Dura Ace crank. Of course, you could go with the S-Works frame module that comes with the Specialized BB30 crank. That’s what I run on my MTB and really like it for the light weight and stiffness.
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The top tube is nicely shaped. Besides being comfy on the shoulder, it also makes it easier to manhandle the bike while running barriers.
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Zerts: Do they work? I have no idea, but the bike rides pretty nice.
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Specialized stem with adjustable angle.
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The biggest difference between this bike and my old bike is the handling. The Crux steers much quicker than my old bike and it’s great in tight turns. I felt like I had to push the old bike through turns where this thing just flicks through them. The stiff carbon frame has a snappy feel I really like.

I haven’t raced it yet, but I was excited to get this thing out for the first time last weekend and initiate it properly by going up the Nate Harrison dirt road to the top of Palomar. Plus it was probably good training for me to go out and get my ass handed to me by BP and Scott. Now I’m ready to suffer properly next weekend at the season opener of the SoCal Prestige Series.

California State Championships/Specialized Invitational Finals

Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2010 by bencycles

That’s a great way to finish a season! 3rd place at state champs. My kid sure is eyeballing that top spot, though…

The race was on the Bonelli Park pro course and we did 5 laps of the roughly 4.2 mile course. Other than the terrible heat, the hardest part was keeping track of what lap I was on. Well, no, not really. Actually the hardest part was finishing that last lap, it was so f%$&ing hot out there, I really suffered. Thank God the brain forgets misery quickly.

Gordon at B&L Bikes worked some voodoo magic on my bike,  and with the help of a couple parts which I’d put in the category of stupid-light (I’m talking to you, alloy rotors), we managed to get my XL 29er to a svelte 20.07lbs. Sweet! The thing felt fast!

Sprout gave me her very first water hand-up during the race, too! I’m not sure which one of us was more excited. Her for feeding me or me for finding another willing pawn… I actually had to stop during the last lap of the race so she could take aim and throw water on me “to cool me down”.

Well, that’s it, mtb XC season is done for 2010. What a hell of a year. Now it’s time for cross.

Cross is Coming Again!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2010 by bencycles

Cross season is coming. Every winter it just seems to come back. I like cyclocross. I like animation. hmmm…?
So I made this movie:

I’ve always liked claymation and stop motion animation and while driving home from Breck Epic, I had the idea to make this movie. You think about a lot of weird stuff when your driving alone for 19 straight hours on nothing but bad coffee and Wendy’s. The movie’s a little rough, but cut me some slack, it was my first attempt and I did most of it late at night while the Sprout slept. I hope you like it.

Some Recent Numbers I’ve Enjoyed, in Pictures

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2010 by bencycles

11th hour:

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Day 1:

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Day 6:

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year 90:

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hour 12 in the car:

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24 tasty beverages:

And at last, the 2 of us eating bean burritos on the beach again:

Breck Epic Stage 6

Posted in Uncategorized on August 29, 2010 by bencycles

Breck Epic stage 6.

Well, that’s it. Done.

Once again, I finally felt awesome on my bike. The last two stages I felt like I was racing and not just surviving. It was a pretty rad feeling to push that hard after four tough days and feel like I still had some gas in the tank.

Coming across the finish line for the last time was a weird feeling. Almost a let down in that I’d been preparing for and thinking about this race a very long time. Then I was immersed in it for a solid week with no other thoughts each day then the race and recovery for the next day. Then to come across the line that last day I realized that was it. Just like that, it was all over. I felt a bit hollow. What would I think about now? Next week I would be back at work and this all-encompassing beast would be a distant memory.

Ahh, but now I have this thing to remind me:

Damn straight.

The mileage and elevation I clocked on my Garmin was actually 226.5 miles and 36,276′. Still a pretty daunting set of figures for a mountain bike ride, much of which was above 10,000′ elevation.

the last view of the finish line:

Celebration time! those who know the Sprout understand:

The post-race awards and dinner were pretty nice:

The post-race raffle was huge: Something like 8 forks, 2 XTR groups, 2 XT groups, 2 frames, multiple wheelsets and 10,000 other prizes were given away. Now if only I had won something…

The Breck Epic was a fantastic event, if for no other reason than to have 6 days of well marked riding on a bunch of sweet singletrack in the Colorado rockies. And then to get to race with some remarkably fast riders and meet a really interesting group of people under the backdrop of some of the funnest trails around  made it a super experience.