Weekend Ride Report: Big Bear, CA

Two weeks ago, I headed up to Mammoth Lakes, CA to ride the big mountain.  I had so much fun that I was jonesing to go back.  On my last Ride Report, I mentioned that I was going back (this past weekend)… didn’t happen 🙁 Like most impromptu decisions things can quickly change.  Several of the guys backed out last minute due to obligations which was totally understandable.

Fortunately for me one of my friends, Neil Adams (single speed stud) invited me to go to Big Bear.  Big Bear is our local mountain getaway, approximately 1.5 hours away.  Back in the day when DH racing was on the rise, many races were held in Snow Summit (one of the two main resorts in Big Bear Lakes). This was no Mammoth, but it’s a lift assisted ride and it sure beats local riding.


Truck packed and ready to go!!!

Several friends met at Neil’s house and off we went at about 6:00am.  At Snow Summit, we met other friends from the bike industry such as 661 and Ellsworth.  Big group riding…


Our group on Saturday 8.21.10

Below is a video from one of our runs.  Unfortunately on most of the video I shot, the mouthpiece of my camelbak was infront of the camera obstructing the view, therefore many of the footage was not usable. Overall, it was a great trip.  I was with great company and at a good place to ride.

First Impression: 2010 Redline Conquest Sport – same two wheels but a different ride!

For sometime now, I’ve been considering trying cyclo-cross (CX) racing. Without having a CX bike in my stable, planning was a little difficult. Sure enough, we at MtnBikeRiders.com received a CX bike to test. It’s the 2010 Redline Conquest Sport which RL featured on June of this year.

What’s a cyclo-cross bike? It’s a bicycle specifically designed for the rigors of a cyclo-cross race. General appearance of a cyclo-cross bike is of a road bike. The major differences between the two are the frame geometry, gearing and the wider clearances for the tires (during a cyclo-cross race, mud and debris can accumulate).

Since taking possession of the Conquest CX, I’ve had several rides on it – both dirt and road! With my plans on racing CX, I want to be as familiar with the Conquest Sport as much as possible.

Specs:
Frame Redline Conquest 6061 DB Alloy W Disc Tabs 130mm R spacing
Fork R6 Alloy w Disc Tabs & Alloy Steerer
Headset Steel Threadless 28.6mm
Frt Der Shimano 2300 31.8mm
Rear Der Shimano 2300
Shifter Shimano 2300 8sp
Crank FSA Vero Compact 28x38x48T
BB Set FSA Square Taper 68 x 116mm
Cogs Shimano HG 50 13-26 8sp
Pedal Alloy Quill w Clips & Straps
Rims Alex DH 19 32H
Hubs Formula LB QR
Spokes 14 G Stainless
Tires Kenda K-197 black
Bar Redline 6061 Alloy Drop 26.0mm
Stem Redline Alloy 6061,17 Degree, 26.0mm
Saddle Redline
Seat Post Redline 6061 Forged, 27.2 x 350mm
Brakes Tektro 990 Canti
Aux Levers Promax Alloy

The Bike: After riding on a mountain bike for the last ten years, then suddenly throwing a leg over a CX bike, the difference of the discipline was immediately noticed. A CX bike is set-up differently from a mountain bike. Not only the geometry but all of the major components are different. For me the most difficult to get used to were the drop bars and the braking. By gripping the drop bars I felt positioned way too much on the front end and not in control. Fortunately the Redline Conquest CX has dual brakes which are located on the flat part of the drop bars.

Redline Conquest Sport

By using this, I felt more at home with the bike.

On the Dirt: First ride on the Redline Conquest was on the dirt at the good ‘ol Fullerton Loop. Being on super skinny tires (1.25”) versus the minimum of 1.90” that I would typically roll on, I had some concerns. For the most part Fullerton Loop is a fairly easy trail and I handled most of the trail with ease. Through the flats I managed to roll through with out any issues. However on the descents, I was a lot more cautious. Falling into a small rut could be disaster for me. As I mentioned above, the biggest difference for me was the way I was sitting which was leaning too forward… much more than I would if I was sitting on my mountain bike. This gave me an uneasy feeling riding on dirt. In addition, the bars are much narrower than what I have been used to. My mountain bikes are from 26 to 28.25” vs. the CX’s 17.5”. Erring on the side of caution, I rode on easier dirt trails until I have acclimated to the bike. I do want to prep for the upcoming CX Race season which starts at the end of September 2010.

                                                                                    Riding at Fullerton Loop.

On the Road: Riding on the road, the bike felt natural. As a matter of fact, I would say I enjoyed it more on the road vs. dirt. For one, this was new to me. The concept of road riding has never interested me until now. I’ve literally logged several hundred miles in less than two week’s time. One of my regular routines for the last three weeks is going on two road rides – 30 and 20 mile ride. For me that’s a lot considering the dirt trails I usually ride are from 7-15 miles. On the road I feel more comfortable with the bike’s ergonomics. Perhaps the risk factor isn’t so great compared to mountain biking but I’m having a blast! Despite the frequent headwind that I faced, I tucked into an aerodynamic position and pedaled on.  The amount of distance gained is unnoticeable.  The bike flies!

The Ride:
-Climbing/Sprinting
Due to a light build (24 lbs), climbing and sprinting on this bike has been fairly easy. Both on dirt and road, I’m able to accelerate with ease. The bike handles nicely and it feels very stable and responsive. On most road climbs I’ve been able to stay on the big ring. The routes have been moderate and I’ve managed to stay on the big ring and pedal through. On dirt, the trails have a much steeper climb where I found myself dropping to the middle chainring. With its light build I can quickly pop out of the saddle and grind up to the top.

-Braking
On dirt, because of a cautious style of riding, I haven’t had a chance to feel a heavy “off-road” braking. I’ve ridden predictably where I’ve allowed ample time to slow down with the assistance of the AUX brakes (rather than the traditional brake levers). Having used disc brakes for the last seven years, the difference is noticed immediately pulling the levers for the center-pull cantilever brakes. Although I felt drag, it provided plenty of stopping power.

Riding on the road, I quickly acclimated to using the standard brakes. Through various turns whether it was quick, sharp or sweeping, I was able to use the standard brakes and control the bike much easier. This can be attributed to my confidence being on the road and not a reflection on the Conquest Sport.

                                                              One of my regular rides on Santiago Cyn Rd. 10 miles out and back.

Over all:
Thus far I have enjoyed the Redline Conquest Sport. I have to admit I have spent significant time with it on the road versus the dirt. It’s apparent that the concept of road riding has intrigued me. Although I cannot compare to any other road bike, I am quite pleased with its performance. I love the fact that I can quickly accelerate and gain a great amount of distance. I am eager to give cyclocross racing a shot. I can’t wait for the season to start this coming fall. Stay tuned as I post an update on my progress and race results.

                      Overlooking the local trails that I usually ride on my mountain bike.

Special thanks to Master Mechanic RL Policar for putting this bike together. For more information goto 2010 Redline Conquest Sport (cyclocross bike).

Mammoth on my mind… Ride report from last weekend (8/7 & 8/8)

Two weekends ago I headed up to Mammoth Mountain located at Mammoth Lakes, CA for an over night trip. The plan was to ride DH for two full days, Saturday and Sunday. Mammoth is approximately 5-6 hours from southern California where we live. We had a total of 14 guys on this trip. Three of the guys we’re doing a turn-around trip – meaning they will drive up with us, ride and head back home on the same day. That’s a lot of driving… yikes!
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Loading up at the gas station.

Six of us caravanned together while the others departed at approximately the same time and in their own cars. At 2:30 am Val and I met our friends at the gas station close to our house where they were going to carry our bikes. Val and I had a car rental which was not equipped to carry any bikes. From here the trip begins!

Fast forward to our arrival at Mammoth, we grabbed a quick breakfast then off to the gondola for our ride to the top of the mountain. Below is a condensed video from our rides.
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Saturday – total of 14 guys riding the awesome trails at Mammoth!

The trails we rode were amazing! There were a few that had minor scrapes and bruises but nothing major. Fortunately we didn’t encounter any mechanicals, just a few pinch flats – but that’s to be expected from an all day downhill session. All in all, it was a pure RUSH as we descended on Mammoth’s trail systems. From single to triple diamonds… it was smiles for miles.
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One of the few flats we had to fix on Saturday.

Sunday’s ride was equally fun. We had a much smaller group than Saturday (only 5), we managed to get in three great runs before it was time to pack up and head home. Below is a video from Sunday’s ride.
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Sunday’s group were just five guys.

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One of my favorite shots as we head down Shock Treatment. Taken from a GoPro. MtnBikeRiders jersery right inbetween the stanchions.

Since that weekend, Mammoth has been on my mind constantly. So what’s the fix??? Obviously go back to Mammoth :). This coming weekend the plan is to do a turn-around trip. Head to Mammoth at 2:00am then be back home for a late dinner. Stay tuned for a new video!

Xpedo Face Off XMX17AC Pedals

Xpedo Face Off

New from Xpedo are their Face Off XMX17AC platform pedals. These are the pedals that I am using with my new Intense Uzzi VP. Check them out… these are sweet looking pedals!
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The Face Off XMX17AC are aluminum pedals with a cromoly spindle. Although classified in their website under the BMX category, these are fully compatible for any type of biking – especially downhill (DH). As a matter of fact they have been perfect on my downhill runs! I’ve been using the Face Off XMX17AC for about one month now and I cant rave enough on how well my shoes grip onto them.
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There are ample pins – 15 on each side to be exact. Each set of pedals comes with a pack of replacement pins.

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The Face Off XMX17AC are low profile pedals that come in six cool colors to match your color scheme. For more information and to see their other products, go to www.xpedo.com. Specs from their site are listed below:

XMX17AC

Weight: 380g/pr

Body: Aluminum 6061 CNC

Spindle: Cromoly

Bearings: 1 Cartridge

Bushings: 1 DU

Pins: Replaceable straight pins

Seal: 1 Rubber

Color: Black, Gray, Red, Gold, Light Blue, Navy Blue

Weekend Ride Report: Double Dose of Downhill fun!!!

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a weekend of back to back rides. With a busy schedule sometimes getting ONE ride on the weekend is difficult enough. This weekend felt like a treat as on Saturday I headed off to Aliso Woods. I rode with a new group of riders who I met the previous week. A bunch of super cool guys ad good riders!

We met at one of the trailheads bright and early. We took a shorter route to the top so we can get started quicker on one of the downhill runs that Aliso has to offer. First on the list was Lynx – a pure adrenaline rush as we jammed non stop to the bottom. After we regrouped, we rode back close to our starting point to a trail called Cholla.

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Group getting their armor on before we head down Lynx.

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Riding back to Cholla for another trip up.

This was a series of switchbacks that would take us back to the top where we can hit another downhill run called Rock-It. Down Rock-It was just as fun if not better than Lynx. We hit a series of rock gardens as well as fast swooping lefts and rights. We ended the run by jamming down a jarring straight away… a total blast!!! Below is video from Saturday.

On Sunday I decided to go to a local “secret” downhill run with Val. About a month ago I took RL and Val here. It’s referred by us locals as a “secret” trail to prevent it from over-crowding and causing problems with the neighborhood; therefore exposure is kept to a minimum. Typically we do these shuttle runs with three or more cars however today it was just Val and I. We’re fine tuning our new sleds – Intense Slope Style 2 (Val’s) and my Uzzi VP.

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How does it work? We would take car #1 up and leave car #2 at the bottom. Once we ride our bikes to the bottom, we load up car #2, drive up and retrieve the first car. Both cars drive to the bottom then leave car #1. Since the bikes are already on car #2, we take that up to the top… then the same cycle continues. Get the idea? I know it’s kind of confusing but it works 🙂

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Today we had a total of three runs. On the first and second run Val led as I followed him with a helmet camera. On the second run, I led as I had the camera mounted facing the rear. Totally FUN!!! Check the videos below from this weekend’s ride.

Saturday – Aliso Woods

Sunday – W. Cyn

Oh my, what big grips you have…

As a bike fanatic, I’ve always wanted to make a custom TP holder for one of my bathrooms. I’ve seen similar set-ups at a couple of my local bike shops’ bathrooms and I’ve always wanted to copy it. With old parts laying around I decided to make one.

The main part for my bike art is a 2001 Marzocchi Z1 MCR topped with an Easton carbon Monkeylite handlebar. The bar ends were pretty chewed up where I wouldn’t be able to use them again. These two were held together by an old 25.4 stem. What kept the unit upright was an old Yakima fork-mount holder. I had this secured to a ¼ “ piece of plywood.

Finally, I needed stops so the toilet paper won’t slide down to the middle of the bar. I used two old ODI lock-on clamps and glued cogs onto them. Evenly placed, I secured the ODI clamps and left the ends open to replace with new TP as needed. Pretty cool for making use of old parts.

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MtnBikeRiders.com “Rider Down” pre BBQ ride.

It was about three months ago when teammate Wes Castro shattered his hip during a practice DH run on one of the segments of the 2010 Winter Series. Since then our Team has been planning a fund raiser/raffle to assist with Wes’ medical bills. In conjunction with The Path bike shop (located in Tustin, CA) a BBQ & raffle was held at their retail store today at 1:00 pm.

Earlier in the morning we had a big group ride…and I mean BIG. Meeting at the Albertsons’ parking lot in the City of Orange were 40+ riders. This was a combination of members and friends of MtnBikeRiders.com, The Path and STR (SocalTrailRiders.org) – one BIG family within the mountain biking community. Through our ride, we made many stops to regroup. We had riders from of all skill levels but no one was left behind. We did a couple of loops within Santiago Oaks Park and Irvine Regional Park. The ride was a total blast!!! 🙂

Below are pictures from today’s ride.

Onto the first climb:
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Making our way up on another climb:
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Doc Thunda and I:
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Top of the 2nd B:
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Ridin’ with style:
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Top of 3rd B before our descent:
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With teammates – Animal, Kim & Tony Finch:
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Greetings from Woodward West – Tehachapi, CA

The Moe and I made our annual trip to Tehachapi, CA for the second leg of the 2010 California Golden State Kenda Downhill Championships. This year it appears that it will only be the two of us as our other teammates were not able to make it. After a 3hr drive from my house we arrive at Woodward West just as practice started. Weather was a cool 60 degrees, quite the opposite from last year. As a matter of fact there is still snow at the mountain just behind the venue.
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The Moe armored and ready for practice.
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My sled for this race is my new bike an Intense Uzzi. I finished the build late last night, just in time for our trip.
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After registration The Moe and I briefly walked the course. We were surprised to see our teammate Wes “GQ” Castro. He was at the top part of the course taking pictures and video.
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We had a total of four practice runs. The course is totally different from last year’s – it has rock gardens, berms, table tops, off-camber turns and a ladder. Totally FUN!!!
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The Moe and Wes walking back to the car after practice.

The Moe and I have a new approach on racing. We will attempt to bring intensity to our game and hope to do well tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Kali Avatar DH Helmet

Kali, a San Jose based company, maker of fine helmets and protective gear, came out with the super light helmet for 2010. The Avatar – weighing in at only 849 grams! This has to be one of the lightest in the industry for a full face helmet. Mine weighed in at 852 grams, so production is on target.

At Sea Otter 2009 is where I had my first glimpse of the Avatar DH. Brad Waldon the engineer was still toying with ideas on how to make this a better helmet.
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The Avatar was still in its infancy stage… fast forward to Interbike 2009, the Avatar was in its final stages prior to full production. Kali showcased their 2010 helmets and products which included different graphics of the Avatar.

I started using the Avatar this January 2010 during the Southridge Winter Series. It caught a lot of attention with its killer graphics. When asked about it, I would let the inquiring minds hold the Avatar to feel how light it is. They were all amazed! I used it on five races as well as local DH rides. The Avatar DH is comfortable. It has ample padding through out the inside of the helmet. Also with its 12 vents, your head stays cool while under pressure.
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How does the Composite Fusion hold-up? I had first hand experience testing its protection and durability. During Winter Series #4, as I approached the lower rock garden I went OTB (Over the Bars), face/head first onto a rock…OUCH! The Pop’Out system for the visor worked as it was designed. Rather than just breaking from the tabs or forcing my head into another direction, the visor “popped out”; in my case it folded down over my goggles. The helmet absorbed the impact and I was not hurt. I was able to get back up and finish my run.
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The Avatar uses the same patented technology as their other helmets called “Composite Fusion” in their protective gear. It is a proprietary ultra light molecular co-curing technology that produces stronger components, lighter and more precise fitting gear. Unlike common helmets which construct the shell and the energy absorbing foam (EPS) as two separate units, Kali’s Composite Fusion incorporates the EPS foam as part of the shell, thus transferring the impact energy into the EPS foam more efficiently. What does this all mean – increased protection, better for your head.
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Product description:

The AVATAR™ Helmet is lightweight. Damn light. In fact, the only thing more interesting than its light weight is how strong it is.

Utilizing patented COMPOSITE FUSION™ in-molding technology for a perfect shell/liner connection, this full-face helmet also features a revolutionary mix of Kevlar, Carbon Fiber and Fiberglass in its shell materials. These materials form perfectly into a skeleton of expanded protection allowing the overall use of softer CONTEGO™ EPS foam. What’s it all mean? Light. Strong.

Weighing in at just 849 grams, the AVATAR™ helmet provides the new reference in lightweight, full-featured and expanded coverage downhill biking helmets.

Product Features:
• Tri-Weave Shell featuring Kevlar, Carbon Fiber and Fiberglass materials
• COMPOSITE FUSION™ Shell/Liner Connection
• Low density CONTEGO™ EPS foam for greater impact adsorption
• Integrated Airflow System
• Washable, adjustable, anti-microbial fit pads
• Breakaway visor

Safety Compliance:
EN 1078, CPSC

Graphics/Colors:
OSLO: Khaki Matte, White/Blue Shiny, Red Shiny
HH Vs. ROCK: Black Shiny

Sizes:
XS, S, M, L, XL
MSRP $279.00
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Kali products are MtnBikeRiders.com Tested and Approved! To see more products from Kali, visit their site at www.kaliprotectives.com

Review Disclaimer

Santiago Oaks with El Guapo

Last weekend some of my teammates (David, Kim and Tony) and I headed to the Santiago Oaks for some fun. We were joined by our friends Dan, Albert and Joshua. Following the heavy rains earlier in the week, we waited until the weekend to give the trails a chance to dry. Unfortunately some areas at the lower part were still pretty muddy.
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Oaks is always fun. This time we stopped at the play area to watch David “el Guapo” Sanderson put on a clinic and show us his jumping skills. Below is a short video our ride. Enjoy!
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