The Bike Geek: The art of crashing

Hello fellow Mountain Bikers! Sorry I have not posted my “weekly” post but a system issue prevented me from posting my awesome articles.

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Anyhow, we all know that crashing is part of mountain biking, it is not a question of if but when is it that you will crash. Now, some crashes are totally unavoidable, some “just happen” and the rest are “what the fuck was he thinking”.

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A couple of weekends ago, we all decided to grab our Cyclocross bikes and headed to the world famous Fullerton Loop and we took a buddy who kicked our ass on the Cyclocross race but had never ridden the loop on a Cx bike. We figured he should be fine, Cyclocross bikes are just skinny rigid 29rs, right?

The loop was a little rutted from all the rain, but with careful line selection, it was totally doable on a Cx bike. So we thought… So lets get into the art of crashing, if you know you are going to beef it, we usually try to do the “roll” and have our shoulders take the brunt of the impact:

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We definitely do not recommend using a tree to slow down or clinging to a fence going 20 mph…. What the fuck was he thinking, right? The aftermath of this stunt was a fat lip, a lacerated finger, a fractured pinky and a very pissed off wife and did I mention that we missed Lady Gaga’s Superbowl performance? WTF.

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We were also ill prepared to deal with this type of injuries on the trail, luckily Art carries a first aid kit with him in his car. We will make sure that we carry a Brave Soldier Crash Pack next time.

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Anyhow, our buddy will be fine but unfortunately his bike was not OK. 🙁

The Bike Geek: Cyclocross is awesome

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Welcome back to my weekly Friday post! Last week I posted that we were going to try racing cyclocross and we did, and it was fucking awesome even though my lungs crashed and burned… literally.

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RL, Rocky and I headed to Moreno Valley to give Cyclocross a try. Rocky does not own a Cyclocross bike but the race promoters were renting them out for $10.00, yes, ten dollars!!! Rocky rented a nice Raleigh RX 2.0 cyclocross bike.

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They had the perfect “race” for us newbies to try out. One lap of the circuit and we even got a clinic! We were taught the basics of cyclocross such as dismounting, mounting, carrying the bike, going up the stairs, riding through sand and hopping the barriers. The clinic helped a lot because we actually got to pre-ride the entire course giving us a sense of confidence.

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There were 13 of us, some racers chose to ride Mountain bikes and others were riding proper Cyclocross bikes. I started pretty strong, felt good but then my lungs started to burn, my bronchial passages started to close and I could not breath properly. By 3/4 of the race, I was done. RL and Rocky passed me by and so did the rest of the riders except the 10 year old riding the BMX bike. Yeah, I sucked and I was hurting but dammit this shit was fun.

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Unfortunately we chose to race the last race of the season, but now that we have a cyclocross under our belt, I am already planning for next season!

Here is some video of my race, enjoy.

The Bike Geek: Let’s go racin’

Hello fellow Mountain bikers, cyclocrossers, downhillers and anyone who happened to arrive via Google. I hope you enjoyed our last 2 reviews; that Whisky sure makes a great after-ride drink! If you have followed us for the last 10 years, yes, Ten.Freaking.Years. You know that we have tried all sorts of racing; Downhill, XC, Super D and 24 hour races. However, we have never raced cyclecross.

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If you follow my posts at bikecommuters.com, you probably know that my commuter bike is a Spicer Cycles Cyclocross bike. I always said that CX bikes make excellent commuter bikes, they are sort of the “Jeeps” of bicycles. If you are not familiar with cyclocross bikes, they are basically road bikes with knobby tires and higher clearance. They are stupid fun to ride.

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So this weekend, yours truly and the Bossman are going to race cyclocross. Well, more like “attempt” to race cyclocross. The holidays were really kind to us with tamales, ham, wine and more tamales so we are lugging around a few extra pounds. It does not help that the famous “El nino” got here a year late (typical Mexican) so we have not had much riding time, but what the hell, it is not like we ever did any training when we used to race!

The event will happen in the beautiful city of Moreno Valley and we will be streaming live on both the BikeCommuters.com and MtnBikeRiders.com facebook pages.

Wish us luck!

The joy of building your own bike

Ok Ok, so I didn’t really “build” my bikes, but I certainly put them together from the frame up. I think we all enjoy riding our bikes, but to me, riding a bike that I put together brings me the most enjoyment. I understand that this is not for everyone, you do have to have some intermediate mechanical skills, some special tools and money. I still remember the first bike that I built:
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This was a Redline Monocog that I built as a commuter bike. Single speed bikes are the easiest bikes to build for obvious reasons; no shifters or derailleurs to mess with. This also cuts down on the cost of the bike, drivetrains are usually some of the most expensive parts on a bike.

Here are other samples of bikes that I’ve built:

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A full blown XC racer
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A crazy looking commuter bike
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A Kona Smoke with an Xtracycle
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A cool Swobo Fixie
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A sweet 29er that unfortunately was stolen from my garage
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A bad ass Super D racer
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And my absolute favorite; a single speed Cyclocross commuter-trail riding bike which was later converted to a 1X7.

There is one downfall though, building your own bikes can cost you more than if you would have bought one already built. Still, it does not beat the fact that you have a one-of-a-kind bicycle and something that you broke your skin on while putting it together.

Off topic: Brewmaster Fail

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My passions include bikes, cars, motorcycles and drinking beer, but let me make it clear that I never ride or drive while having had a few beers, that is what Uber is for.

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Since RL’s Xmas budget is not big enough for bikes, cars or motorcycles, he decided to give me the next best thing: A Mr. Beer Kit. Yup, I can make my own beer! After checking a few videos online and having read the instructions, it would take roughly a month to make my own beer. Screw that, I opted to go to the market and bought some that were already made.

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Time went by and the kit sat in a little corner of my dining room, always reminding me of RL’s kindness and that it was time to go back to the market and get some more beer. So one day my wife caught me looking at the kit and finally put her foot down and told me that it was time for me to make the beer or store the kit downstairs in the little dungeon where my Christmas decorations wait an entire year to get used again. Fine I said, so I grabbed the kit, read the instructions and headed to the market to buy the most necessary ingredient: Water.

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So I went thru the steps: Clean the barrel, heat the Hopped Malt Extract, add water to the barrel, add the Extract and then add the yeast. Easy enough, now I had to store the barrel away from light for about two weeks so the fermentation can take place.

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Once the fermentation was completed, it was time to bottle the “beer”. This process took longer than what I was expected, I had to sanitize all the bottles, dry them and finally fill them. Once the bottles were filled, it was time to add some sugar to the beer so it can carbonate. Now it was time for the beer to seat another couple of weeks for additional fermentation and carbonation.

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I was really confident at this point, I did everything by the book so I was rather excited to taste the final product. I placed a couple of bottles in the fridge and once the cooled, I took them to RLs to try out.

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Interestingly enough, RL liked the beer, although I thought he was way too kind. I’m no beer connoisseur but I know when a beer tastes like crap; and mine did. It was flat, sugary and had a funny taste. I’m not sure where I went wrong, but I think it was somewhere at the end… my beer had no fizzle so the carbonation step was a total failure.

The nice thing about this kit is that it is re-usable, all I need to do is buy another can of the Malt extract refill and I should be ready to go. Come to think of it, screw this, I’m gonna go to the market and get some beer….

Nashbar Bee’s Knees Review

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While the rest of the country freezes their butt off, So Cal mountain bikers are enjoying quite a warm winter. Warm winter=more riding! To up the winter fun factor, I’ve been riding Nashbar’s Bee’s Knees 650b single speed fully rigid bicycle.

Calling this bike a “beginner entry level” bike would be a mistake, the $499.00 may say otherwise but I would not recommend this bike to a person who’s just entering the sport. Why? First of all, the bike needs to be re-geared to be more “knee” friendly for mountain biking, the 32X18 gearing seems to be working fine for most people that have ridden the bike. Another reason why this bike would appeal to a more seasoned rider is that this bike is quite customizable and adding middle of the line parts that maybe gathering dust from a previous upgrade would be an decent upgrade to this bike.

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One look at the spec sheet and it easy to see that this bike comes with mostly no-name parts such the saddle, seatpost, bars and the cranks. These parts do attribute to the heaviness of the bicycle. However, it is nice to see that the bike does come with Avid mechanical brakes and Kenda Nevegal tires.

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What is the appeal of this bike? It’s a singlespeed 650b bike! As I mentioned on my first impression, I love Singlespeed bikes for their simplicity and how challenging they can be to ride.

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How does it ride? Having had experience with both 26″ and 29″ singlespeed bikes, the 650b has blown me away. The bike is nimble, the steering does not feel heavy like a 29er, the lower center of gravity on the 650b does not feel that you are riding too high and once you get rolling, the momentum that 29ers have over a 26er is also present on a 650b bicycle. The choice of tires on this bike help out a lot, Nevegals are a superb all-around tire and that helps the bicycle track with easiness in all kinds of terrain.

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The Bee’s Knees is no racing machine by any means, but the fun factor of this bike scores highly on my scale. I really like riding this bike even though it can beat me up sometimes and it also has proven to be very reliable with zero problems and zero chain drops. Another great reason to ride a singlespeed bicycle is that it increases one’s stamina and physical condition and it is great for losing the weight you gathered during the holiday season.

If you are wanting an inexpensive singlespeed with 650b tires, you should really consider the Bee’s Knees, it surpassed my expectations.

Review Disclaimer

Happy Birthday to the Semi-Famous RL

Another year goes by and his fame increases by just a smudge… Still, he is the semi-famous, legend in his own mind and my very best friend RL Policar

From all the MtnBikeriders.com writers and racers: HAPPY BIRTHDAY RL!!!!

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Winter Favorites

We used to do beer reviews a while back by beer connoisseurs, well they are gone now so you are stuck with me. Every year around the holiday season I look forward to Sam Adam’s winter favorites; a collection of seasonal beers that vary from ales to porters to IPAs.

Since I’m no beer expert, I’m going to tell you which beer I liked and then I’m going to try my best to describe each beer at a “high level” (New term I learned in management meetings).

The first beer I had was the Winter Lager. Nice crisp beer with a little bitter aftertaste. I wasn’t really impressed with the flavor nor the aroma so I would rate this one a 6 out of 10 on the Buzz meter.

Second beer I tried was the White Christmas. This beer I liked since I’m a fan of wheat beers, the flavor reminded me a lot of Blue Moon, but it didn’t have that weird bitter aftertaste of Blue Moon. Definitely a beer that I would buy in 12 packs; 9 out of 10 on the Buzz Meter.

“Cinnamon, ginger and orange peel”, that is what the Old Fezziwig Ale bottle read at the bottom. I thought that this beer was going to smell a lot like cinnamon, but one whiff of this beer and I picked up the orange peel smell. This beer tasted quite good, a little on the exotic side and the orange peel aftertaste was quite palatable. 9 out of 10 on the Buzz meter.

Stouts, bocks and porters are my favorite beers of this season, I was quite disappointed that this sampler did not include any porters but the inclusion of a Cherry Chocolate Bock really caught my attention. I’ve tasted cherry beers from Sam Adams before and they were not my style, so I proceeded with caution. One quick smell of this beer and I was able to smell the cherry, the chocolate and hints of coffee… I had a drink of this beer and I was very pleasantly surprised that the cherry flavor was not over powering. If you are a fan of cherry fountain drinks, this beer is for you. I really enjoyed the chocolate taste of this Bock, not as bitter as a stout and the bitter-sweet aftertaste left me yearning for more. 10 out 10 on the buzz meter!

The last beer of the winter pack was the Juniper IPA. I’m not an IPA person, I just don’t like their bitterness but I approached this IPA with an open mind. First thing I did was do the smell test, eh.. not bad, then I took a swig out of the glass; great “fizzy” and refreshing taste… until the bitter aftertaste hit my taste buds and annihilated them and I was quickly reminded why I don’t like IPAs. So what did I do with the rest of the beer? I chugged it of course! I wasn’t going to let it go to waste! Kind of hard to rate this beer on the buzz meter since I don’t like IPAs but since I had worse, I would rate it a 6 out of 10 on the buzz meter.

So what happened to the Boston Lager review? Well, the Boston Lager is not really a select “Winter beer”, it is readily available and I think it is a great beer on tap.

If you happen to be the type of person who enjoys most types of beer, you should give this winter pack a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Off Topic: Cigars!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by this post represent my own and not of the entire site. You may disagree with my opinion and I’m OK with it. I’m also not a professional writer and I’m OK with that too.

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So what do cigars have to do with Mountain Biking? We at MtnBikeRiders.com do have other hobbies other than ripping the trails, taking names on XC, SD and DH races and being semi-famous. We have decided to shake it up a little bit by adding a new section to the site called “Off Topic”, although we know that 99% of our lives revolve about Mountain Bikes, these articles will be musings of that 1%.

Although I’m not a smoker, I’ve been known to enjoy a good cigar now and then. My interest in cigars grew when RL started to smoke them and I’d ask my wife to bring some “famous place” cigars from Mexico.

As with Mountain bikes, you have “big box store” bikes (Cheap, low quality) and Local Bike Shop bikes (pricier, better quality). Cigar shopping is the same, you have liquor store cigars and smoke shop cigars. Cigars also vary quite a bit in price, from below the $10 mark to almost $100 bucks!

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Cigars also need special care, storing cigars is like storing your beloved bicycle; you just don’t leave your bike out in sun nor rain. Storing your bike away from the elements keeps your bike fresh and ready to be ridden without worrying about rust or crumpling saddles. In order for a cigar to keep “fresh” it has to be stored in a humidor at a certain humidity point and temperature.

Cutting a cigar also needs a specific “tool”, cutting it wrong could influence on how the cigar burns and it will eventually affect the taste.

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Another interesting tidbit is how you light a cigar; using sulfur or paper matches or regular lighters are a no-no, a cigar should be lit with a torch lighter and hold the torch so that the tip of the flame can barely touch the cigar.

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So you maybe thinking “Smoking is bad for you” and yes, you maybe right… but I have roadie friends that think that Mountain biking is bad for you… I mean, I’ve never broken my shoulder smoking a cigar but I did Mountain biking! So just like Mountain Biking, Cigars are not for everyone and I’m not advocating that you smoke cigars but if you do, do it with moderation.

Nashbar’s Bee’s Knees first impression

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When my buddy RL asked me if I wanted to do a review of a 650b Singlespeed rigid mountain bike I quickly jumped at the opportunity. Singlespeed bikes have always been dear to my heart, I just love their simplicity; no adjusting derailleurs, forks, or rear shocks. I have owned and ridden singlespeed bicycles with both 26 and 29 inch tires and from what I remembered, those bikes kicked my butt but were super fun to ride.

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When I first saw this bike, I was expecting something “less” of a bike since it sells for $499, but I was pleased to see that it comes with Avid disc brakes and my favorite all-around tires Kenda Nevegals. I also loved the “British Racing” green paint scheme, the white part is a little odd but it maybe a canvas for some personal stickers!

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The first item of business was to make the Bee’s Knees more “knee” friendly, we swapped the stock 38×16 drivetrain to a 32X18 combination. This setup is perfect for the World Famous Fullerton Loop which consists of mostly flat terrain with a few steep short uphills.

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Our choice of gearing made riding this bike quite fun. I was going a at decent clip on the straights, I was spinning hard but not to the point of “spinning out”. The full rigid setup made climbing so much easier than on my full suspension 29er, I just had to make sure that I had enough momentum before I hit the climbs. Yes, the ride was a little rough on the downhills, but shifting my body towards the rear and relaxing my arms made it tolerable. As as side note, I hit 21 mph on the longest downhill where I would normally hit 24 mph on my FS.

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So what are my thoughts of a 650B? I like it… a lot… Steering is quicker, climbing is easier and that famous “29er momentum” is still there. And how about the Bee’s Knees? I dig this bike, it was really fun to ride and the price is quite affordable. Stay tuned for the full review, I will be riding the Bee’s knees during my weekly night rides and hopefully take it to a trail where I can really abuse it.

For specs and price information click on this link: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_544782_-1