Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Wheeling

Last year I elected to not race the Winter Mountain Games in Vail because it sounded silly & I did not want to build a set of studded tires.  When I spoke to riders afterwards they had mixed opinions of the event but overall it was good.  So this year I decided to start a little early & get some tires built & try to get some practice in.

First thing first was to build the tires.  It was worse than I had even imagined.  I started with a set of cheap mud tires then drilled & studded 400 bolts into them.  It took me literally a full Saturday/Sunday of pretty constant work.  The reason for how long it took is somewhat a secrete on the inside of the tire but the results were worth it.

I did not know how the tires would work & thought they might even rip apart when putting real pressure on them.  I didn't want to go to Vail & have a failure so I needed a way to test them out. I contacted our local Powderhorn Mountain Resort & suggested making a media event out of a crazy bike rider on snow.  They were totally on board, especially when they heard I rode with Matt Bolig & Grassroots Cycles & invited me up along with the local NBC news station reporter.

I expected to just be hiking up a small patch of groomed run & would only get a few corners in an afternoon.    When I got there they basically shut down the terrain park top to bottom & gave us a team of snowmobiles to shuttle me, the news man, & Sara who was taking pictures around.  I got to session the park top to bottom for hours as many runs as I could get in.  I was literally sore the next day from throwing the bike around making it carve up the snow!

The tires worked great & felt like I was riding hero dirt. The faster I went the deeper the tires would carve in the snow & provide bite.  It was an amazing experience to have a fall line run with no bumps & no trail I had to follow.  I could go as fast as I wanted with no fear.  So exhilarating!   

When it came time to race at the Mountain Games I felt great.  I knew I had a bike setup that was working & I had so much time on the snow I really felt I could win.  I warmed up by racing the Short Track XC Crit race on Saturday night. I did this for a workout, which it was, & to continue my practice riding down hill on snow.  Although I could not keep up with the fat tire bikes on the uphill I had a dropper seat post & Transition Bandit which allowed me to ride loose & fast on the descents putting on a show. Sara said she could tell I was coming by the cheering in the crowd.

Sundays Dual Slalom race was super fun.  They gave us each a practice run then started the rounds with 31 starting men & 8 female competitors. The course had some rollers a jump & was on a nice steep pitch.  I made it through my first round almost too easily because it gave me a sense of confidence.  In my second round I came out kind of sleepily & only won by 0.15 seconds.  I knew the guy was fast so I had to step it up in the 2nd run.  I changed my style up a little & let the bike slide sideways more which scrubbed too much speed that I could not make up loosing that round by 0.16 for a differential of only 0.01.  I was somewhat devastated because I knew I had what it took to go for the win.

There is a (4x/Skier cross) snow race planned up at Powderhorn at the end of this season that they are going to have a bicycle class.  It is called the Downhill Bike , Boarder Cross race.  Taking place in the upper peace park where the new boarder and skier cross feature will be being built at the end of the season.  Featured during their March Madness Month and Beach Party Weekend the Downhill Bike boarder Cross will be taking place March 30th.  Make sure to wear your beach party outfit!! Costumes are highly encouraged and awarded! (Bring up your own bike, we will shuttle them up to the top of the course, HELMETS REQUIRED along with a $10 entry fee) the bike race will follow the boarder and skier cross monster slopestyle series challenge. 

The Monday after the event I knew it would be current so I uploaded my Transisiton TR250 Snow Dual Slalom Race bike to & got "Bike of the Day"!

I have to thank Powderhorn Mountain Resort for having an open mind & being willing to experiment with new sports.  Overall I must say riding bikes on the ski runs is amazing & think with different tire technology there might be a larger future of it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

James' 2012 season

Now that the snowy winter is upon us all I've had a lot of time to kick back and think about the 20,000 miles worth of dirt shaping, rock workin', bike riding, even managed to do a bit of fishing. The Ranch build season was a busy one, By the time Ranchstyle was upon us I was on a 80 day work streak give or take a couple days. I was bouncing between shop shifts, Building PBR out in Fruits with the Singletrack Trail guys, Polishing the Ranchstyle course and even building a new mini slopestyle line for the Dixitrix event that was going down  during Ranchstyle this year. It was a tough 2 1/2 months of work but well worth the effort with all 3 being super fun.

 Ranchstyle 2012 Slopestyle Highlights on Pinkbike
I had 2 days off,  then before the dust had settled from Ranchstyle Jeff and I were headed to Granby Ranch With Singletrack Trails to get the mountain prepped for their opening for the summer.It was quite the challenge to go to a mountain and try to keep with all the hardwork and legacy that the Momentum Trail boys had done for years before we showed up, but I think we did a great job. We put in a new Green DH trail, expanded and rebuilt some of the XC trails. We had a sweet camp a third of the way up the mountain under the lift pretty much and it was a nice place to call home for a couple months. It was rad to build all day then have a private mountain under our tires till dark. I've always wanted a mountain canvass to get creative and build some bigbike flow. I'm super stoked to head back this season and do even better!

After Granby, Singletrack Trails was on the move to Glendo State park Wyoming. If you've never been there You head up I25 till you see trees and turn right. It's a super cool area to be, lots of different terrain to work with, a huge lake to jump into to cool off from 90-100 degree days. There's lots of work to be done up there still but we managed to get a ton of new stuff built including around 5 miles of new xc trail, a large pumptrack, small flow trail, and skills features built into the trail system. I enjoy working up there, the terrain is a nice challenge with all the rock and different dirts.

After a couple months in Wyoming It was time for Redbull Rampage! One of our shop riders was lucky enough to earn a spot this year so a few of us shop guys headed down to help him get down the hill. When most of us got there Nick and Ian had already been there for a few days and had most of the line built except the last jump. We stacked up a nice 20' hip to finish the line which made for a nice exit to the finish. We also adjusted a thing or 2 in Nicks line, Helped a few of the other riders dial in there lines too. It's always mind blowing to go to Rampage and see what those guys will ride down. Quite humbling to say the least! We're all proud of Nick for fulfilling a dream and all the boys walked away from Rampage with no serious injuries. It's the real deal out there!

Next up was the Moab Bike Park, This project was headed up by Tracy and Wendy at Chili Pepper Bikes. The project had some glitches along the way and was held off for a bit. But it was go time So I rounded up my right hand man Jeff and headed on over. We had full creative reign for this one, When we showed up the existing jumps were leveled, the machine was ready to do work. Joel made it over for a few hours of help, and Micah gave us a few days. Start to finish this build took us 13 days! We shaped around 800 yards of dirt into rideable shapes that worked really well. We couldn't of done it without the hard work from the local shredders and roots boys. We finished up just a couple days before the Moab HoDown Festival. It always seems like jump projects are down to the wire but somehow the stars align and it all comes together. Also built a small practice BMX track a couple weeks after the HoDown. We will head back in the Spring to build a bitchen pumptrack, and will be building more jump lines sometime next year as well. When completed Moab's bikepark will be a must ride for sure! Be sure to head into Chili Pepper Bikes and thank the Ladies for all their hard work.

With Moab Wrapped up and getting shredded Greg With Singletrack Trails sent Jeff and I to a Private pumptrack build in Montrose. This was a pretty cool build, the clients had a nice field to build in with a really nice house being built at the same time. I was envious to say the least. It was just up the hill from a nice fishing spot so that made for some nice lunch breaks. This track is the best i've designed by far and its to bad you can never ride it. hahaha

Next up was a trail that had been in the works for a while, Singletrack Trails was working in conjunction with the BLM, Copmoba, and the Grand Valley Trails Alliance. It is an extension of Joes ridge and is designed to be a step up from PBR that we finished up in the spring. Jeff and I were assigned to the middle third of the build with the first and last third being built by volunteers. The middle section was pretty challenging to build being as it's in a pretty steep drainage. But we tore it up in there and when the trail opens up in the spring the shredders will be stoked! Everything is rollable but when ridden at speed will be a whole new level of awesomeness. I feel like this trail will be the start of a whole new type of trail in the valley and hopefully is just the tip of the iceberg. The day after Jeff and I put the finishing touches on the trail we were gifted with the moisture we'd been hoping  for, so she now rests under a layer of the white stuff. I'm excited for you all to meet in the spring!

Despite all the running around I did manage to get out on the bike here and there, and catch some nice fish. I'm ready for another season of good times with new shapes in new places. Hopefully I didn't bore you with my year in review and i'll see ya'll in the dirt..

 Thanks for reading and be sure to head over to Singletrack Trails Facebook and give em a like
And if you need something reflowed, or shaped let me know!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Giant Reign X. Yes please.

Howdy Roots fans, its Joel here to tell you about a bike from our latest addition to the Grassroots family of brands:  Giant Bicycles.  I've been on the hunt for the everyday bike that feels like an extension of my body for a while now.  One that I don't have to think about while I'm onboard or bend my riding style to fit.  I am lucky enough to have found that in my gravity-focused Transition TR250, but my stable lacked a trail worthy steed that fit the same criteria.  Something I could grab for an after work stress eraser, ride in the backcountry, or take to shred the desert when the riding expired here in the high country.   Well kids, the hunt is over.  The newest incarnation of the Giant Reign X has all the traits I'm looking for in a trail bike.  

The fit is spot on.  I'm 5'10" and I'm riding a medium.  While this is a pretty average height and bike size for a dude, I have a hard time feeling comfortable on most trail bikes.  With a 50mm stem and nice, wide bars I often feel bunched up.  The Reign X's slightly stretched top tube feels a little more like a comfy DH sled and less like grandpa's upright sidewalk slayer.  Now I don't like to be all stretched out and hunched over, but I do like a little room to breathe up in the cockpit.  Too high a bottom bracket height can compound the bunching effect by forcing me to sport a towering seat height.  The Reign X offers a 13.6 inch BB height, which is nice and low for a bike with 6.7 inches of rear wheel travel.  This means my seat height relative to my crank arms gains a little less altitude.  With my taste in bar and stem, and my seat at full mast I don't feel like a clown riding a tall bike in a 4th of July parade.  Another expectation I have for my bikes is that the chainstay remain on the shorter side for aggressive cornering and for a predictable balance point when the front wheel touches nothing but air.  At 17.1 inches, it's chainstays get the job done.  Did I mention the 67 degree head angle?  Spot on, there is no better head tube angle to aggressively ride trails.  Score four for fit.

The ride quality is top notch.  To me, a good trail bike should have three strengths inherent to its ride quality. Efficiency in pedaling, a lively suspension feel, and all-around stability.  With its Maestro suspension platform, Giant knocks the first two out of the park.  As I took the bike out for the first trail ride I realized one thing right off the bat; the suspension doesn't require much adjustment.  Set the shock at 25 to 30 percent sag, dial in your favorite rebound feel, and turn the pro-pedal off.  Its as simple as that.  Uphill, downhill, flat pavement to the beer store, it doesn't matter.  The suspension design provides the pedaling platform and consequent efficiency I'm after.  Often times when a bike relies on chain stretch for its platform, pedaling can feel dead and the ride can feel unlively.  Not so here.  The Reign X is a lively one.  Like to bound down the trail like the Duke boys cuttin' loose from ole Roscoe P. Coletrain?  You got it.  If you put the energy in, it's gonna give it right back.  Get creative because all of a sudden the trail in front of you becomes a little more interesting.  Remember the video game Excitebike?  Yep, this is the real live version.  Add in the stability of an over-sized and hydro-formed aluminum tubeset, some stout wheels, wide bars, and thru axles front and rear, and you've written yourself a recipe for progression.

As far as a parts spec goes, I cheated a bit.  I chose to purchase the frame-only kit and add the parts I've hand picked over many years of field testing.  Highlights include a  Fox 36 Float, Shimano XT 9spd drivetrain, MRP G2SL handling the retention duties up front, and Hadley hubs laced to DTSwiss rims rounding out the trim.  For a dropper post, I'll go with the 6 inch KS Lev as soon as it becomes available.

No bike is perfect, so now is the time to expose it's short comings.  So far I can only find three.   First, the frame was designed to be used in conjunction with Giant's new 1.25 inch tapered steerer standard called Overdrive 2.  This standard has yet to catch on and most likely won't.  This means Giant wants you to use a very rare steerer and proprietary stem combo.  BOOOOOO i say.  Luckily, with its frames, Giant sends along a conversion upper headset assembly to allow your frame to accept a 1.125 inch (or inch and an eighth for the radperson) tapered steerer.  Phew, bullet dodged.  Now we're back to endless fork and stem choices.  The second shortcoming would have to be the tall stack height up front.  While the head tube length itself isn't overwhelming, the INCH tall top race is way too thick.  If Giant would've spec'ed a thinner top race (something around the normal 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch), the total height would have been much more respectable.   I think I can remedy this by using a thinner top race from another headset made by the same manufacturer.  The number three shortcoming really caught us off guard when we went to put the whole bike together, and therefore needs to be mentioned.  The Reign X uses a 12x135mm Maxle thru-axle to secure the back wheel to the frame.  Giant chooses not to send this part with the frame-only kit.  If you buy a complete bike then you have nothing to worry about but if you choose the frame-only option, be prepared to purchase a Maxle.  And I warn you, they are hard to find locally.  Luckily they are easy to order ahead of time from an LBS parts supplier like QBP or BTI, through your local bike shop of course.

Look to Grassroots Cycles and the Giant Reign X if you're fixin' to add some excitement to your 2013 riding season.  And may it start sooner than later!