Nov 23rd was the MT State Championship CX race and also the last race of the year......you know, i kinda fell in love with cyclocross this year. It's just a blast to be shot of the line with a group full of fellas that all have the same interest of diving into that first piece of singletrack at 25+mph. That holeshot......worth an hours worth of agony to me. But it doesn't stop there, after 2 or 3 short laps you'd eventually recover from that all out starting effort and settle into a good pace that made riding the track a bit more enjoyable. Hitting a nice piece of off-cambered singletrack on 700 X 32c tires is a fantastic experience. The slippin' and sliddin' when the ground has moisture and being able to keep that damn bike upright or in my case, sometimes not just brings a grin to my face that goes ear to ear.
The folks that put on the races this year all did a fantastic job. Every race was promoted well and ran smoothly and we'd like to give a shout out to John Coulthard and Geoff Proctor for putting together a nice series. Hopefully the Red Barn crew can host a race down here in Hamilton for 09'. Hamilton needs a local CX race.....it's been years since Jeremy Oury hosted a few races out on his family's ranch and i think we need to bring CX racing back. Whatchu folks think ?? I'll be calling upon you locals for support.
But anyway......i suppose a 3rd place trinket isn't too darn bad of a placing for a pop of three and a full timin' bike shop fella that likes to ride but doesn't like to train.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
the Ventana El Bastardo
here's a few pics of Sherwood Gibson's spin of a 650b wheeled full suspension bike. We've had this beautiful bike built up for a couple of weeks now and it's honestly been heading out the door almost everyday for demo rides. Same response each and every time. Big grins coming in the front door followed by a Holy $hit that felt goooooood !! And since i've now ridden the bike a half dozen times on a variety of singletrack i can also comment on the behaviors of the 65o Ventana .
on my first ride out on a very rocky Blodgett Canyon trail which climbs slightly uphill along a streamside gradient i noticed that the gearing of the 650 wheels was fine and i could push that middlering much more often as opposed to dropping into my inner ring on a 29" dually. It should be even more noticeable once the real climbing of summer approaches. I also noticed that when in technical terrain that required quick bursts of speed to get past or up and over a certain obstacle the 650 wheels accelerated very good. It also wheelied well when trying to get the wheel up and over a rock, waterbar, etc. I pretty much credited this to the chainstay length (17.5"), which is a half inch longer than the 26" wheeled equivalent ElCiclon (17") and much shorter than the 29" wheeled El Rey (18.3").
Climbing, the bike really handled much more like the ElCiclon, which could have also come from the shorter stays and possibly the combination of gear ratios being closer to the 26" bike. I honestly didn't seem to notice any benefits of the 650 wheels, but it did perform well and the wheel size certainly didn't hinder any climbing abilities.
Decending at medium to high speeds was the true surprise of this bike in my opinion. This bike carved tight turns so well, and once it got really rocky with speed was the first time i really FELT the benefits from the larger wheel. I could pretty much pick the straight line through a section and the bike really kept it's momentum very well through the chunk.
all in all....another well designed bike from those folks at Ventana and to make bike purchasing even more confusing another wheel size that works very well too. I suppose the only hangup for a consumer at this point would be the lack of tire, rim and true 650b suspension fork options. Only time well tell if the bicycle industry gets behind the idea. For 5" + full suspension bikes i think the idea really makes sense as it doesn't disrupt frame geometry's or put constraints into frame design. We also reap the benefits of a larger wheel size that does indeed roll over obstacles easier.
the 2.3" Pacenti Neo-Moto
if i really had my wishes granted i'd take one of each....26", 650b, and a 29er ! A cup of tea for just about everyone.
come on in and demo the El Bastardo to see if it is your favorite flavor.
Friday, November 21, 2008
One of the nicer areas to ride the skinny tired cross bike in the bitterroot valley would have to be the slice of State Land located at the end of Hamilton Heights road called Calf Creek. The trails are numerous and have no official numbering sytem but you can easily put together a few nice loops. It's elevation also allows cycling late into the fall and it's south-west facing hillside typically dries out first, come springtime. One of the reasons it makes for such a nice cross ride is the fact that most trails are lacking much technical difficulty and the buff trails are perfect for the narrow tires which also makes it a perfect place for the beginner/intermediate mountain biker. Be cautious though as it is an area that is also well visited by our equestrian brethren.......if you see a parking lot full of horse trailers be wise on the decents....grab a little brake.
a link if you need better directions or information on the area: http://fwp.mt.gov/lands/site_280490.aspx
here's a few pics taken from a my wed afternoon spin on the Felt F1X:
remnants of Hamilton's once apple orchard boom
Thursday, November 13, 2008
one hub - 4 different axle configurations.
Here's the hub that we've been asking for, thanks to Mike and Suzanne over at Hadley Racing for making it. A high quality front hub that converts to most of the popular fork axles. 20mm thru, standard QR, 9mm thru axle, and now the Fox Shox 15mm thru axle.