Sidi Dominator 2 – Mountain biking shoes the keep on going…

Just about a decade ago I was in need of new mountain biking shoes. Several years into the sport and I was in need of new shoes. Well not really, what I had was a nice pair of mountain biking shoes however they weren’t as comfortable as it was touted to be. Key to any shoes is comfort, and I can’t stress that enough. Coincidently I had a friend who was working for the now defunct SuperGo. This motivated me to start looking into a new pair. After consulting with several resources in addition to my own research, I chose the Sidi Dominator 2. Sidi has a very good reputation in the cycling industry as one of the leading brands.
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How my Dominator 2s looked when I first bought them

The price was a bit above my budget, but the comfort after slipping my feet in them were priceless! The Dominator 2 are made from long lasting Lorica. Lorica is a soft, supple Microfiber synthetic leather. It’s a water-repellent, quick drying, and breathable. It resists tearing, splitting, scratching and atmospheric agents as well as deterioration from stretching or rot. Great thing about Lorica is they didn’t shrink like leather after getting them wet as I traversed through water.
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Lorica in red

I can honestly say that I have worn these shoes through thousands of miles and various conditions, including inclement weather. Through the many hike-a-bikes, the soles have remained intact. As you can see from some of the pictures they still have a lot of wear left in them. Faded and ragged, they continue to serve me as well as they did 10 yrs ago.
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10 years later, still plenty of sole left

The Dominator 2 are secured by a ratchet type buckle (main) and two velcro straps on the middle and toe area. Since owning this red pair, I haven’t had any issues with any of the closures. Only now, in 2010, ten years later when I encountered my first issue with the Dominator 2. The securing loop for the strap broke/ripped. For awhile I rode without the ratcheting strap however it quickly became loose.
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Climbing Mustard without the main strap.

I often I kept the strap secured within the buckle and tucked in the loop but after so many rides it finally gave out.
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I resorted to stapling it to the piece to keep it in place.
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notice the staples to keep the strap secure

The Sidis are serviceable. The buckles are replaceable and so are the soles (sold separately). The shoes are very easy to get into. Most of all, they are comfortable! Walking on cycling shoes is not ideal, but wearing the Dominator 2, comfort is noticeable. I’ve encountered my share of flat tires where I had to walk several miles back to the car. Compared to the other brands that I have owned and tried, hands-down the Dominator 2 are at the top of the list.

Now I’ve got a new pair of Sidi Dominator 5, black, to replace my ever so reliable 2s. While I will continue to wear my old red pair, I’m looking forward to the next decade with the new Dominator 5. Below are the specs for the Dominator 5.
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Stay tuned for a follow up review of the Dominator 5 as I take it through its paces. For more information go to www.sidiamerica.com.

Another Weekend of Great Riding!!!

This past weekend was another fun filled weekend of riding. As you have read some of the previous posts from the other MtnBikeRiders’ staff, we’ve all had a fun filled weekend on two wheels. This past Saturday I took my friends, who I have been riding with on most of my Saturdays, to my backyard trail called Skyline trail. I’ve written a ride report in the past describing Skyline. It’s a six mile grind to the top, where we will branch off to another trailhead where we will descend back to our car. This downhill trail is called Skinsuit, which is 2.5 miles of steep and flowy downhill run. It’s has nothing technical…just steep. Imagine taking 6 miles to get up, then descending back to the car in just 2.5 miles – that’s a quick way to get down!

The group met at JensonsUSA’s parking lot in Corona as 14 of the 16 guys riding haven’t been to Skyline. From here we caravanned to the trailhead.
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one of the easier parts of our cimb

Going up Skyline was a tough climb. Majority of us, if not all, had 6” travel bikes. Climbing up to 1300 feet was no easy task on a long travel fork. Along the way up, we took several breaks to regroup and take a little breather. We also passed another popular DH run where many Pro riders frequent. As a matter of fact, there were quite a few of them getting dropped off on our way up.
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Getting closer to the top

Just a little over six miles later we reached the trailhead for Skinsuit. We took a few minutes to gather ourselves and strapped on the minimal armor we carried. After a brutal climb, now the fun begins!!
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Just before the trailhead, we stopped at our landmark – the giant golf ball

FAST – is the best way to describe it. The trail snakes down the mountain through solid dirt with some small loose gravel in certain areas. Now the last two times I’ve ridden down Skinsuit, I crashed, which one was an OTB (over the bars). I was a little timid coming down, but could not pass up the good pace we were riding. We regrouped a few times to let the others catch-up or if when a steep section was just ahead. We did this to warn the others guys who haven’t been here before. One of my friends was also riding a singlespeed and had the least travel on his bike. Although slow on the descent, he was riding most of the steep sections.
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Some of the guys looking back at a section we just came down on

Somewhere towards the middle of the descent, we approached another section where we needed to slow down. There were four of us upfront that were leading the pack. The first three started slowing down. It appeared that they started to bunch up; not wanting to stack-up behind Myles (3rd guy), I veered to the left a little bit. At this point, I must have hit something because OTB I went! As I was going over my bike I heard my front tire lose air. Fortunately I landed on some shrubs but I rolled on my left arm/elbow which pressed onto my ribs. I laid there for a few minutes to gather myself. I checked myself and my bike… all was good. Added air to my front tire with CO2 cartridge and off we went to finish the ride. Below is a video of my crash. All in all, it was an epic ride. There were two of us that went OTB, but we finished the run to laugh and talk about it. The long ride was rewarded with an awesome lunch at a buffet!
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Steep section towards the end of Skinsuit where most of us walked

On Sunday, Val and I headed back to one our favorite downhill spots. For about a month we’ve heard that it has been closed down… well we wanted to see for ourselves. Sure enough it was still open; no indication of the contrary. One thing that I wanted to do was look for the 3ft ladder drop on one of the runs. On our first run down we took a wrong turn and missed it, but were still on a cool run. This particular run ended at a playground at the bottom where there were jumps, doubles and berms. Sweet! Too bad I don’t know how to ride them yet 🙂
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one of the practice runs

On our second run we found the ladder. We stopped and examined it for a few minutes, trying to motivate ourselves. In reality, it was nothing, but there’s something about leaving the ground with both tires… yikes. Also if you’re like us who don’t normally jump things – 3ft is pretty high! Apprehensive but driven at the same time, we decided to make a go at it. Val went first and I wasn’t too far behind him. Having the video camera rolling, we were now committed… gotta do it! In total we hit it 4x. To tell you the truth, after going over it the 1st time, my fear quickly went away. The FUN-factor kicked in!

On our last run, Val and I went through the same section but hit every single jump along the way. Approaching the ladder, we flew over it as if it wasn’t there 🙂 During this ride, I was was using my Intense Socom DH bike where the two tires were the DIY ghetto tubeless. Safe to say it works!!! These last two days of riding were totally awesome!!! I can’t wait to go back to either of the trails.

The Man in the Rear – Tandem Mt. SAC Race report

Two weeks ago, RL and I raced at the Mt. SAC Fat Tire Classic on a tandem bike. What was interesting about this race is we were the only ones in our CAT with a tandem bike. Traditionally Mt SAC has had a class for tandems however since they are now aligning with the other races of the Triple Crown, they did away with the tandem class. Without knowing this, RL purchased a used tandem bike just a few weeks before the race. In total we had a whopping ONE ride to practice which was just a few days prior to the race.

Unsure if we were even allowed to race the tandem, RL and I fired off several emails to the powers that be at Mt SAC. Closer to the race day we received a response that we can however we’ll have to race in our age group. Being that RL registered us, we raced in this group which was Beginners 27-34… bunch of fast-er guys.

At the line-up we were greeted with cheers from both racers and spectators. Many of our friends from the racing circuit cheered us onto the starting line! Man, we were like mountain biking celebrities!!! :). Not wanting to impede the other racers in our CAT, we lined up in the back. Off the bat we knew what our chances were, we didn’t have high expectations on placing. Our goal was NOT to finish last!

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RL and I walking our bike towards the back of the pack.
Below is a video from the Stoker’s POV. You’ll see us doing really well in the first lap. As a matter of fact we passed or kept up with many racers on the flats. Up the first hill wasn’t bad, we made it up with out any problems. Approaching the switchback climbs we started encountering problems within the singletrack. We had a hard time maneuvering through this. On the other side of the switchbacks I got off the bike and ran to the bottom where it flattened. You’ll see me in the video (fast forwarded) running through the trail waiting for RL at the bottom. I’m glad we didn’t ride through here as there were at least three different people that went down. RL however managed to ride through here smoothly.

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Onto the third hill we grinded – Energy level was still good…. At the bottom on the other side, we were cheered on by our families and friends. Shortly after this descent we made our way towards probably the third toughest climb. Fortunately the switchbacks were fire-road wide. Mash, mash, mash – we made it up! All through out the Captain and the Stoker are in constant communication.

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Much of the same for the second lap however fatigue kicked in and we were a lot slower. Even walking up some of the hills were harder second time around :(. Somewhere in between the second lap, as we grinded through, we became more aware of our placement within the race. Our goal was not to be last however, we were seeing less and less racers… only a few passed us on the last climb by the stables. Could we have been that far behind??? Apparently not… RL and I continued to pedal, descended the big (last) downhill section with more confidence than the first lap.

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As we motored through the Finish Line we were greeted by the same cheers that were there at the Start. Shortly after, another racer in our CAT came in. We did it – we were not last!!!. Out of 25, we were the 24th 🙂

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What a great experience. It was my first ever tandem race and it was such a blast!!! I’m hoping they will open this Class next year in the Triple Crown series as we are looking forward to racing it again, with even more training!

Weekend “Wet” Ride Report – Whiting Ranch to the STT/Luge

This is a little bit late but why not… this past Saturday a group of my friends and I met at Whiting Ranch at 7:00am to go on our weekly Saturday ride. The weather in So Cal for the past few days has been fairly wet in the mornings with lingering low clouds until the afternoon. Well Saturday was a little bit more than just lingering clouds – we actually had light rain/drizzle. Needless to say arriving at the parking lot, it was WET.

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Some of the guys contemplating whether they should ride or not.

There were a total of us twelve of us who met at the parking lot. We stood around for about half an hour chatting, hoping that the light rain would pass. No such luck while we were at the parking lot, but we knew it would eventually taper off.

By the time we decided to roll, half of the guys backed out because they thought it would be too muddy (dubbed as Team NO Go) . The other half mounted our bikes and headed into the park. Whiting Ranch is covered with a lot of trees therefore the ground wasn’t muddy at all. As a matter of fact, it was perfect! All of the sandy sections were nice and tacky.

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Bottom of Mustard before our climb.

Reaching the bottom of Mustard Rd, the trail was dry. This was the first segment of our long ascent. At the top of Mustard was Four Corners where we took our first break. This is where we will break off from Whiting Ranch and make our way to Santiago Truck Trail (STT) for more climbing.
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Resting at Four Corners

There was a moment there where a few of us contemplated on continuing to STT. Luckily the rest of the guys convinced us to keep on going. From here we crossed the road and towards another trail. We had steep climbed on the road known as Modjeska Rd, it literally was a grind to the STT trailhead. From here we took a short break and then continued our ascent to the flag.
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At the start of Santiago Truck Trail.

Several miles later we were at the peak of our ride… we made it to the flag where we would start our fun descent down the Luge – what a blast!!! This ride down never fails to disappoint.

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Team GO! … six that braved the little rain we had.

Reaching the bottom we had to make our way back to Whiting. From here it was an easier grind up the road. We hooked back up into Whiting and finished off our ride by hitting the single track out till we exited the park. What a ride! A total of 15 miles of on and off drizzle as we climbed and descended. This turned out to be an epic ride!

Below is a video of our run down the Luge. I have video from Whiting however the video will be too long. Enjoy!

DIY Ghetto Tubeless Tires – It Works!!!

A few weeks ago RL and I hit one of the secret DH trails in LA. RL’s bike, the KHS Lucky 7, was equipped with his Do It Yourself (DIY) tubeless tires, aka ghetto tubeless.
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Having a set of UST on one of my bikes, I am a true fan of the tubeless system. In our last two trips to Mammoth Mountain, several of the guys pinch flatted as we hit the rocky sections of the mountain.

Always willing to try something new, I decided to give RL’s DIY tubeless a shot. His “How To” video, located at the right of this page, walks you step by step on what to do and what you need. Already having some tubeless sealant leftovers from my UST tires, all I needed was a pair of smaller tubes to use as rim strips / liners. So one day after work I stopped by my LBS and picked up a pair of 20” tubes.

Installation was a breeze. It took me literally less than 15 minutes for each tire. On one I had difficulties getting the bead to sit on the rim but with patience and the air compressor 🙂 all worked out well.

First ride on the DIY Tubeless Tires was a pretty mellow ride. My son and I rode around the Back Bay in Orange County. Relatively flat as this place is more of an extension for roadies from the river beds and also utilized by hikers. First true ride was this past Wednesday at the Fullerton Loop.
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Night ride at the Loop. Kenda Small Block 8 on the rear.

How did it work – perfect! I have them mounted on Easton Havoc wheelset. Front tire is a Panaracer Fire 2.4” and the rear is a Kenda Small Block 8 2.35”. They are currently mounted on my Intense 6.6 but I’m planning to use them on a more aggressive bike such as my Intense Uzzi. Yesterday I rode at Whiting Ranch which hosts a more rugged terrain than the Fullerton Loop. I mounted a camera on my downtube to see the front tire in action. In the video you’ll see the excess of 20” tube I used as a rim strip/liner sticking out between the tire and rim. It’s ugly, but I didn’t want to trim it down yet until I knew for a fact that the tire was holding air.
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Panacers FR 2.4s + Easton Havoc… DIY Tubeless System

Strider – The No Pedal PREbike

About a year ago, I saw toddlers gliding around the local races on a Strider bikes. Shortly after I reached out to Strider and they sent me one to test for my son Jake. At the time, he was approximately 1.5 years old. I was exited to get him on a bike…

Out of the box the Strider needed just minor installation – the tires, handlebars and the saddle. Within five minutes, it was ready to roll. At almost 2yrs old, Jake was excited with his new toy – a bike. Intrigued, he was quick to sit on it. I lowered the saddle to the lowest position so he can easily touch the ground with his feet flat.

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When Jake first received the Strider bike

For the first few months Jake just walked with the bike while straddling it. At times he would walk next to it while holding the handlebars. It’s all about the comfort level. Sometimes I’ll have him put his feet up on the chainstay/swingarm and give him a push him. This gave him an idea of how balancing and acceleration would feel.

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Jake’s first Kid’s Race… I was running with him

One thing for sure is he was attached to the Strider!

As Jake was getting comfortable with the Strider I gradually raised his seat. This gave him leverage to run while feeling secure with the saddle under his bottoms. We took frequent trips around our neighborhood to build his comfort level. It was eventually working. The key is patience…

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Jake’s second race. Fontana Nat’ls. He was off and running on his own (see video below)

Note that kids will learn at different times/stages. Some will learn much quicker than others. Again, I stress for patience. While we want to see our younglings zoom with a bike, we want to make this FUN for them 🙂

One of the key factors that help Jake acclimate to the Strider was as soon as he was comfortable with running and balancing, we would go on a family group rides. Because we were all on bikes, he was a lot more comfortable. Comfort builds confidence and at times he’d want to race us.

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Boost of confidence – little jumping session. Not quite perfected, but he certainly gives it a shot!

In my opinion, this is the best way to teach kids at an early age to ride a bike. They learn to balance and steer at their own pace while in full control to stop the bike if needed. I highly recommend the Strider bike – it’s well worth it for your little ones!

Specs:

Light weight steel frame
12” wheels
EVA Polymer tires (puncture proof)
Simple set-up – NO chains, pedals, gears

The Strider bike retails for $99.00. More information can be found on their website www.stridersports.com.

Below is a compilation of Jake’s progress on the Strider bike.

Next step – pedals!
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