Last month I entered the High Cascades 100 mile mountainbike race, in Bend OR. I don’t frequently race more than two hours, and as my participation in the Gran Fondo Leavenworth so thoroughly demonstrated, I am prone to bad cramping in such long, hot competitions. It’s not really the heat so much as I just don’t think about drinking as soon and as often as I should. If I had suffered heinously in the gran fondo, I would be doubly vulnerable in the actual mountainbike race, due to the longer duration, the more intense climbing, the technical nature of singletrack, and the simple fact that my Giant XTC only has one water bottle cage. Even if I chose the high capacity Zefal Magum bottle (1ltr/33oz), that might not be enough to get me to the next aid station. It was clear in my mind that I would need some sort of hydration pack. And there’s the rub: I don’t really like hydration packs.
Sure, you can get a pack that holds several liters of fluids, but who wants to carry all that weight for twelve-plus-hours of hard riding? To make matters worse, most hydration packs for cycling seem to be heavily biased towards some sort of off-road touring or adventure riding; the packs are rather overbuilt with too many pockets and other features. What I would want is a very minimal pack for racing. It wouldn’t need truly enormous water capacity because there would be five or sixth aid stations on the course, but the reservoir should be easy to refill. And it would have to fit on me securely, so as not to hinder my freedom of movement on technical sections. I looked about for the right pack, but it wasn’t until I was surfing the Osprey webpage that I found something that met my requirements for mountainbike racing, even though it’s marketed towards trail runners.
The slim Rev1.5 pack (size S/M) weighs about a pound with the included hydration bladder and holds just 1 liter of water. The shoulder straps have some convenient but small mesh pockets that can fit gel sachets/flasks or energy bars, but the only other storage is a small zippered pocket atop the bladder compartment. Thin straps and elastic, mesh “webbing” hold the pack tight to your body along the sides of your chest, while two elasticized straps stretch across your chest. Once adjusted, the weight of the pack and water sits high, level with your shoulder blades. It moves with your body yet stays in place, and in hot conditions it doesn’t feel like it’s trapping heat and sweat all across your back.
Osprey really puts a lot of thought into their hydration system. The reservoir/bladder has a quick release coupling on the hose so you can gank out the reservoir to refill, while leaving the hose separate and still in positioned on the pack. And the coupling is valved so the bladder won’t leak while detached. A wide mouth, screw-on cap allows easy and quick refills; ice cubes can readily pass through the mouth of the reservoir too. The 90-deg bite valve incorporates a high-power magnet to keep the hose positioned on buckle to one of the chest straps when you’re not drinking. While riding, you can conveniently rehydrate even in the middle of singletrack riding.
One other feature is a removable, drop-down DigiFlipâ¢ media pocket that “provides secure storage and quck access to all manner of touch screen mobile devices”. In practice, the DigiFlip did not give useful access to my iPhone while riding, partly because it holds the screen too close to your chest, so your eyes not on the trail ahead. And I couldn’t reliably re-secure the DigiFlip’s snap buckle with gloved fingers while riding one-handed. Still, with the DigiFlip holding the mobile on the left chest strap, access was certainly better than if the mobile was in a jersey pocket.
During the race, the Rev1.5 proved to be a competent choice. My strategy was to add Nuun tablets to the hydration pack (or fill it with sports drink) and keep plain water in the Zefal bottle so that I had the option of pouring water from the bottle to cool off, clean my sunglasses, etc. The accessibility of fluids made staying hydrated, even during difficult climbs or singletrack. This was literally the first mountainbike race I had entered in 15 years, and I’m not gonna pretend that my singletrack skills are so good that I can negotiate rocky descents with one hand on the bar and another holding a water bottle. Having the hydration pack simply gave more opportunities to drink. Being able to pull the whole reservoir out of the bag was a nice option, since it’s easier that way to fill it completely while also avoiding drenching the pack itself unnecessarily. And even after nearly 13 hours of riding, the Rev1.5 never felt burdensome, nor hot on my back. That magnetic retention for the bite valve is simply genius.
I had the S/M size Rev1.5. The M/L size has the same reservoir, but the straps and support structure are made to fit bigger riders. For my physical stature, the S/M was the obvious choice. It’s still small enough that my jersey’s back pockets could be accessed. I only fully drained my reservoir once, in the brutal 4,000’ of climbing between the aid stations at Mile 50 and Mile 70. Finally, the “flash green” colourway matches the current Bike Hugger kit well, but after all the dust from the race, it looked right dingy. Surprisingly, it machine-washed well, and in fact all of the photos of me wearing the Rev1.5 are after I cleaned it.
The $70 Rev1.5 performed well in my 100 mile mtb race, but if I had been riding in some sort adventure that did not have aid stations every 15-25 miles, I would have needed a pack with more fluid capacity. And if it had been a gravel grinder without real singletrack riding rather than an mtb race, I probably would have preferred to not wear a pack on my back at all. Of course, my CX/gravel bikes have room for a second bottle cage, so I would probably not need to augment water capacity with a pack anyways. Still, if “Rebecca’s Private Idaho” 100mile gravel grinder is especially hot later this month, I might use the Rev1.5 because it makes drinking so convenient that I’m more likely to stay hydrated on such a long event.
It was rainy and cold during Stage 2
This time of year, our attention turns to Cross, but hey there’s still road racing like the USA Pro Challenge. On twitter, Follow @eFirstBank for live daily coverage of the USA Pro Challenge. Guests commentators will include: @JasenThorpe, @mmmaiko, @LennardZinn, @303Cycling, @SaraiSnyder, @Gavia, and @DirkFriel. Expect to have a good time, and to get more in-depth, interactive coverage than is possible from broadcast media alone.
If you’re a decent person, win stuff: In light of some of the less-than-fantastic fan/rider interactions at some races this year, USA Pro Challenge partner, @eFirstBank on Twitter has launched a contest to encourage fans to watch the race in a fun, but responsible and respectful way. Skip the selfie, leave the dog at home, don’t impede the racers… do have a really good time. Simple enough, right?
Here are the details and on Stage One a moto careened off fans into racers and back.
Riding the Truth in Seattle
We’ve been riding in the mountains and on mountain bikes lately, much more than usual. The demo bikes we have in include the Ellsworth Truth. It’s been on the cross-country scene for close two decades and has gained a cult like following amongst privateers for its active suspension a durable alloy frame. Ellsworth has now taken the Truth and evolved it into the Absolute Truth with addition of 27.5 wheels and a carbon frame.
The heart of the Ellsworth Absolute Truth remains its suspension system. To keep tires in the soil, it employs Ellsworth’s Instant Center Tracking (ICT) suspension system. Ellsworth states that the four-bar linkage design provides zero-energy loss to suspension action. By aligning the instant center on the chain torque line and continually tracking the chain torque throughout the range of travel, the suspension remains active, without pedal induced action.
Breaking with the carbon theme of the frame, a key part of the ICT system is the CNC machined asymmetrical chain stays. The chain stays are box sections joined at the lower pivot by a machined yoke, while the rear pivot sits directly in front of the rear dropouts and connect with the seat stays. The seat stays are carbon to help reduce rear wheel flex and assure alignment of the suspension pivots. The 125 mm of rear wheel travel is handled by a FOX CTD shock with remote lever. Up front Ellsworth has equipped the Truth with a FOX 27.5 CTD 32 Float that produces 130 mm travel.
Around the bend and up a climb
Despite its 125 mm of travel, the Absolute Truth is intended for racing and features a low and aggressive rider position. The suspension is more active than other race machines, especially in its initial travel. This is hardly noticeable while in the saddle, but hard efforts are met with bit of a soft feel at the pedals. Switching the FOX CTD shock to the Climb is the only setting that really eliminated the initial softness.
Making good time uphill on the Absolute Truth is determined by the CTD shock setting. For everything other than the most technical terrain, place the CTD in Climb and leave it. In technical uphill sections the trail mode can be used. It results in a slightly softer feel, but also dramatically increases traction and reduces wheel spin. On fast single-track descents, the Absolute Truth is predicable and fast with the active suspension keeping the wheels firmly attached to the ground over small obstacles. Big hits are absorbed well with just a bit of ramp up at the end of the stroke. The overall feel of the Absolute Truth is super plush. The plush suspension also aids in cornering, with the wheels constantly in contact with the ground.
Each year around Interbike season, King Cycle Group has been releasing limited edition versions of their product in anodized colours outside of their current eight (plus silver). Last year it was turquoise, and I think before that it was purple. Now, maybe millennials don’t know this, but purple and turquoise anodized parts were virtually mandatory on mountainbikes twenty years ago. Back then, those colours were two of the regular options at Chris King. When King replaced them with colours like brown, it was like formal recognition that the 1990s were over. Bringing back wild turq and purp was like a Jane’s Addiction reunion tour.
So okay, that was cool. Now what colour could bring on stage this year? Well, I saw this coming last year. The only colour they haven’t already done is Sour Apple. It wasn’t THE most popular choice, but I always liked it. I remember seeing it on bikes in the mid to late ’90s, but I don’t remember when it was phased out. All I know is that I HAVE to have it. I want to combine it with some pink anodized King parts I already have. Pink and Sour Apple…wow, that would be a combo.
Available in a wide array of the most popular Chris King products:
NoThreadSets, InSets, ISOs, R45s, BMX, Wheels, ThreadFits, Press Fits, Coffee Tampers and Accessories
Place orders between September 1st, 2014 and May 1st, 2015. Shipping begins October 1st, 2014.
For complete details call 800-523-6008 or contact your local dealer
Catching up to Mr. Himes
A vignette I wrote about a bike path encounter with Mr. Himes was published on Element.ly this morning. That’s where a group of like-minded people who love bikes and being outside are telling stories, like the one I wrote.
Barely legible decal
When researching the story about crossing a 30-year gap in bikes, I shared a zoomed-in, cropped photo of the down tube to determine what the bike was from a barely legible decal. Shared the photo on Facebook and Patrick Brady spotted the Expedition immediately. Getting all Captain Nerdlick about it, he replied
The Specialized Expedition was arguably the best production touring bike there ever was. I’ll add that it had a super-long wheelbase, something like 112cm. Super stable. I could sit up at 40 mph in the Rockies, open my handlebar bag and eat lunch while rolling. That bike was made by someone who knew touring. Tim Neenan was responsible for the geometry. He’s in Los Olivos, Calif., these days. He’s a chef and builds under the name Lighthouse. Owen Mulholland has one.
Read the rest of the story on Element.ly and perhaps you’ll meet Mr. Himes or a cyclist like him, on a ride too….
The bike I was riding, was this one, a Crux with CX-1.
A Crux with CX-1, Zipps, and Sammy Slicks
Like Boise, Detroit is a bike town that you don’t hear much about, until now… While that’s an iPad add, the story is still great and shareable.
Take Solace against a guardrail
Finally, we’re catching up to the idea that many of us might be happier on a bike other than the ones being raced at the Tour of Flanders.
I asked Nic Sims, Scott’s Director of Marketing to tell me more about the bike’s “zones.” He said
The top half of the bike is the comfort Zone you can think of it as the area of the bike that as a rider we have the most contact points that will feel bumps etc so in this area we have worked to develop the most forgiving ride the big noticeable area is the seatstays, very thin which allow some vertical flex. But you need a bike to move forward and this is through pedaling which is the lower region of the bike or Power Zone, you hear talk about lateral stiffness and this is important as this is the side to side load that pedaling causes, so the better the lateral stiffness the more efficient the bike will be. The Solace has blended both worlds to offer a bike that has excellent pedaling efficiency and amazing comfort.
The bike also has Asymmetric rear end – drive side chain stay is up to 2mm taller than non drive side depending on size, the bottom of the Drive side seat stay diameter is up to 3mm bigger than the opposing stay depending on size, this is to take into account the power forces delivered to a bike comes from the right hand side. We also utilize Size specific tubes and layups – Other companies are talking about doing this now but we have had it for over a year. Tube dimensions change for each size, the seat stays on a 58 are 1mm thicker than on a 49, the top tube is 1.5 mm thicker than a 49 and the down tube is 3mm thicker. The head tube gets extra reinforcement on the bigger sizes, the fork comes in two different layups, the down tube gets a stiffer lay up on the bigger sizes and the seat tube get softer lay up on the smaller sizes.
So that means, the Solace is a performance, comfort carbon bike. That’s what the industry is chasing these days, to find the right mix of layup – the new Tarmac is after this goal too. As Patrick said, for the rest of us to ride, all day, if we want.
I rode the Solace too, threw it into corners, and slammed into the biggest hit on the pavement I could find. Over the bumps, the frame “cantilevered,” and for the rest of the ride, performed as good as expected.
First glimpsed at NAHBS, ENVE’s new Mountain Fork is a rigid, carbon fibre design that shares all the industry leading technology and craftsmanship of the companies road and cyclocross forks with some innovative features thrown in. The tapered steerer (1.5”-1.125”) MTN fork has a carbon fibre mini-fender that has an integrated guide to neatly handle brake hose management without the hassle of internal routing. In wet or muddy conditions, the fender is just big enough to limit the amount that the front tyre casts off into your face. In dry conditions, the fender can be removed and replaced with pieces to fair in the attachment points and hold the hose in place. The other distinct feature is a two-position “chip” axle system. The rounded, rectangular chips fit into an eye at either fork tip. A 15mm thru-axle interface is machined into the chip off-center. With the axle in the rear position, the MTN fork has 44mm of rake (470mm axle to crown); the forward position gives 52mm of rake (472mm a-c). The a-c and variable rake make the MTN adaptable to a wide range of wheel sizes and frame geometries.
Why would you want a $625 rigid fork? Well, there are still riding conditions where a rigid fork will outperform a suspension fork, and even if your fork has a lockout, the MTN fork will steer more precisely while weighing perhaps less than half the weight (711gr with fender).
I kinda wonder if custom builders are going to jump on this item for monster-cross or big-tyre gravel grinders. The fork has 88mm of tyre clearance, much bigger than a typical cyclocross fork. The 470-472mm height is far taller though, so you wouldn’t want to retrofit this fork to a CX frame (395mm a-c seems to be a de facto standard for cyclocross forks). But I could slap this fork on my Giant XTC 27.5 and have an 18-lbs bike with more clearance and rubber than my CX bikes.
Casual cyclists and mtn bikers often rail against the snobbery of uptight roadies…what with their slavish dedication to Euro-cool trends, to say nothing of their condescending enforcement of “group ride rules”. But isn’t that society in general? When many individuals must coexist in limited space, our social etiquette becomes more elaborate, and the magnified consequences of an individual’s undesirable behaviours prompts the group to collectively police itself.
Take aerobars for instance. Sure, Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara are impossibly cool when using them, but think twice about trying to emulate these heroes while on the group ride. FUNNY….er, I mean bad things can happen.
FWIW: anyone wanna have fun guessing where the incident in the video occurred? I have an educated guess based on 5 clues. My guess after the jump
I think it’s Australia based on:
1) Cyclists and cars are using left side of the road
2) Crashing cyclist has his bike with right lever to front brake (common in UK and Oz)
3) Time code on video is last month which is relevant to:
4) Arm warmers on cyclists (since it’s colder in southern hemisphere in July)
5) Palm trees in background
Speedplay Zero Pave pedal starts shipping, but is the SYZR offroad pedal just a hoax?
Speedplay announces that their Zero Pave pedal has begun shipping. Hooray! For 500 bucks (for ti spindle version) you too can own the road pedal for riding in conditions in which you might have to foot down into mud or dirt, but you don’t plan to walk or run off the bike. After all, with the Pave Zero, you’re still wearing a 3-bolt metal cleat with no traction on shoe with no tread. Simply put, this is a pedal system that makes it easier to get back on the bike and in the pedals, not to be easier to get around off the bike, Because that’s why this pedal exists…because Speedplay-sponsored pro teams demanded a system that debris and dirt couldn’t hinder ingress/egress. The professional riders, loathe to change something as personal as their shoe/pedal system, would clearly balk at using mtb shoes and pedals for just a couple races in the spring, like Paris-Roubaix and Strada Bianca. But for the majority of us non-Pro Tour riders and racers, we’d probably just use a 2-bolt cleat/pedal and a walkable shoe for a gravel grinder.
What I would be sooooooo much happier to see is a mtb pedal that feels and supports like a good road pedal….something like what the Speedplay SYZR promises to do. The problem is that Speedplay has been promising this pedal since at least 2008. At Interbike that year, I snapped this photo of a prototype pedal. I was told that the pedals would ship after the first of the year. Then I was told the same thing the next two Interbikes. Frankly I’ve lost track of how many times those pedals “would be shipping in three months.” Most recently, Speedplay displayed yet another update to the design at this year’s Sea Otter Classic.
Listen, I’m all for thoroughly developing a product before selling it to consumers, but this is just ridiculous. Still, I do hope the SYZR finally makes it to market, because if it performs anywhere close to the hype, it should be awesome.
This year I acquired a new mountainbike, and other than some experiments with a dropbar mtb a few years ago, it’s the first mtb I’ve gotten since the ’90s. Things have changed since then: 29er and now 650B/27.5 wheels, tubeless tyres, carbon fibre EVERYWHERE. But the night before leaving to do my first mtb race in 16 years, the most important change was the evolution of suspension forks. Not because forks are better in some way. No, the crucial difference is that most high-end suspension forks now have some form of thru-axle that wasn’t going to fit the bike rack on my ride’s car. It was 8pm on a Wednesday evening, and we were leaving at 9am in the morning. Not a whole lot of time to find a solution, but luckily REI had one.
The DriveShaft rack adapter from RockyMounts allows your mtb equipped with 20 or 15mm front thru-axle to fit a typical fork-mount rack. It even allows you to lock the bike in place (assuming that the rack itself has a lock too). Hint: the DriveShaft tends to rotate in the fork, so make sure you clamp the adapter into the rack and then the fork on the adapter. All fork-mount racks make me a little worried, but once you clamp the bejeezus out of the rack-to-DriveShaft connection, the DriveShaft’s grasp on the thru-axle seems really secure.
Retails for about $70.
My editor’s letter for Issue 15 is written as a vignette and shares the music listened to during a 5 hour ride on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. This annotated photomap is an accompaniment to the ride playlist.
Like a headwind in all directions, the uneven, rough-and chunky chip seal surface drained the watts, robbing my legs of speed — setting me off tempo. Grabbing for another gear that wasn’t there on the final hundred feet up to Mt. Bachelor, a dirge shuffled in. Interrupting my concentration, it was a snatch of a song, a click of a shifter. Just a few Morphine downbeat notes from a standup bass and skip!
He’s one of the smartest people I know and Chris Matthews still put his cycling socks in the oven. You can guess what happened next, right? The story of how he rode without socks until the next town with a store, and a sock aisle is featured in Issue 15 of Bike Hugger magazine.
And I can relate. When riding, I often become stupider. I have a permanently-scarred knuckle from this one time when I decided to dry my cycling shorts in the microwave. I did not know that the shorts (a pair of piece-of-shit Pearls perhaps or equally shitty Assos during one of their bad importer periods), had a plastic insert sewn into the pad. I guess the insert held the pad in place and microwaves melted it into a molten, burn-skin-to-the bone mass that scarred me instantly.
Chris didn’t get burnt, but had to endure a sockless ride and luckily no other Rapha Gentlemen saw him sans socks, suffering on a climb. I would have called that out if seen, like I did Lance Armstrong, when he was spotted sockless.
The burnt sock story is featured and you can read it for free with a sign in.
Besides the free cover story, Issue 15 includes 10 more articles like
- Climbing into the Chris King Gourmet Century – Matt Haughey
- Pine Needles – Zanne Blair
- Scott Solace Review – Patrick Brady
- CrossVegas 14 Preview
And a mountain playlist from me.
The last time everyone I knew was unmoored by a death it was Adam “MCA” Yauch.
Now Robin Williams.
As a cyclist, his jokes about our proclivities, about the Tour de France, about the bike itself gave us permission to see ourselves through other eyes, to laugh at ourselves. What a gift.
And it seems wherever Robin traveled he stopped at a shop, including the one in Seattle where Mark V works.
When visiting Seattle, Robin Williams would often stop by the shop where @OriginalMarkV works and look at bikes. RIP.— byron@bikehugger (@bikehugger) August 11, 2014
Rode three flavors, grades actually, of Chipseal near La Pine Oregon, and Mt. Bachelor. The aggregate and tar was blended as crunchy, crunchier, and crunchiest. Even with a Ti bike, 290 TPI tires, and a carbon fork, the crunchiest sections made my hands and feet go numb.
Considering roads were originally made for cyclists, Chipseal is such a mixed blessing.
Roads are not merely paved or unpaved, smooth or rough, they are complex characters revealing their true natures when the rubber meets the road – Kent’s bike blog.
In the mountains, on Forest Service roads, you can ride for hundred of miles, and many of them will rattle your bones. The uneven, rough surface drains the momentum out of your legs.
Issue 15 drops next month and the theme is the mountains. We’ll have more stories about our rides, including this one on road, and dirt.
With the mountain-biking season now in full swing and Crankworx Whistler upon us, RockShox wanted to do something to celebrate those who progress the sport forward. Every year, we see things people once thought “can’t be done” get done. This short film called “Prove Can’t Wrong” is a salute all those who push boundaries to prove that “can’t” is a matter of opinion. We can’t wait to see what “can’ts” get proven wrong this year.
My can’t was a roadie returning to mountain biking…
Blogging in the space where the bike and tech meet, I know how bikes like the Denny capture people’s imagination and attract the urban techster. It’s great to see locals getting press and in a King5 Interview, Teague’s designer is interviewed and the manager of Gregg’s Greenlake talks about retail price points. Teague’s offices are around the block from Davidson’s shop in downtown Seattle where many of Bike Hugger’s bikes are made.
My friend Jeremiah mentioned the Denny on Twitter and lit up the phone lines.August 5, 2014
After Patrick questioned the authenticity of the Oregon Manifest and explained the utility bike market, the questions he’s asking now is what version of the concept is Fuji going to bring to market? Also, what will it cost?
… most bicycles sold today are meant for pleasure riding, not service. Chances are, if the bicycle is to augment our transportation needs in the future it will need to offer levels of convenience and utility that recall a car, though we may have to forego the windshield wiper and iPod jack. They will need to accommodate loads beyond ourselves. We will not stop needing groceries and if the human race is to survive, we will need to keep making babies. So at minimum, any bike we expect to augment or replace a car will need to some capacity to carry groceries and kids. I can hear it now — “Don’t make me pull this bike over.”
Clearly, we need fresh ideas about what a bike is, what a bike can be.
Guess we’ll check back in a year or so… Until the Denny arrives, for urban mobility see bikes like the Cylo that are in pre-production, Vanmoof, Tern, or any number of Kickstarters like the Helios and Vanhawks Valour.
Patrick’s and my industry wonk opinions questioned the Manifest, but that doesn’t mean we don’t share the enthusiasm. We just have some insight into how the industry works and expect a much hyped bike to do it right.
Finally Seattle is best known for Starbucks, Boeing, and Microsoft, there’s also a vibrant design scene here and in the area, distributors like SBS (Redline, Raleigh), and REI’s Novara. Bikes that’ll ship to the masses are being designed for 2017 right now, just a hour commute away from Hugga HQ.