One of the beefs I have with XC mountain biking is this constant need to go fast. What I mean is, people can get so caught up with their Personal Record or wanting to be King of the Mountain. Hey, I get it, you want to see how well you’re progressing with your training and riding.
But my main issue is that people just don’t take the time to soak it all in. Enjoy the scenery, smell that fresh air and ride in a casual pace. Years ago we coined the term “Relaxed Vibe.” It basically means we go out there and have fun. We take a bunch of photos, videos and tell jokes.
Personally I appreciate those types of rides more than the ball busting fast paced rides. For starters, a relaxed vibe ride means less injuries. When you’re going at 100%, you’re more likely to tear something and the margin for errors are way higher. Crashes, breakdowns, and other problems can be mitagated by going at a slower pace.
So on your next ride, go a little slower. Soak up the experience and have fun.
Let’s face it, mountain bikes aren’t cheap. I know guys that have dropped $5-$7k on a mountain bike. Each time I hear of it, I sorta cringe. You see I’m what you call a cheapskate, AKA BOB-Brother on a Budget. I come from no money and because I have three daughters, I still don’t have money. Any of the mountain bikes I’ve purchased are usually acquired through some extensive dealings to get a bro-discount. I make sure I try and pay at cost for a bike. If anything, having a used bike is the way to go. Just like cars, their resale value drops like a sledgehammer once they leave the showroom floor.
Not sure if you knew this, but I’m a huge motorcycle fan. I’ve bought and sold over 31 motorbikes in the past few years. It’s become a big hobby for me. I look for bargains or in some scenarios, a basket case and I’ll recondition and resell for a profit. I’ve gotten pretty good at it and out of all my dealings I can say I’ve only lost money 2 times. That loss only equates to about $50…but if you consider all the profit I make on all my other dealings, then I really didn’t take a loss.
Anyhow, when I heard some friends drop mad-cash on new bikes…my mind immediately goes through a thought process of “I could have bought a nice motorcycle for that!” Sometimes my mind ends up speaking on my behalf by blurting out…”DAAAANG!!!” Then I also think about how many months of rent that could pay or how many car payments that could take care of. I also think about how many tattoos can I get with that money?!
But hey, to each his own, right? I mean, you’re going to do what you think is best for you. For me, if I had $4k in my pocket, I’d probably find a mountain bike for about $1500, then use the rest to buy 1-2 motorcycles to flip so I can get a return on that cash I just spent.
We met up with Steve, a mountain biker who says he doesn’t ride with a water bottle or hydration pack. We asked why he doesn’t and he said “Hydrating is for sissies! I’ve trained my body to recycle sweat so I’m never thirsty during a ride.” Though we were skeptical of his practices, we were slightly impressed and curious about how this would work. We asked if we could tag along on his ride to see how he does it.
As we were riding, I got thirsty. I decided to take a swig of my water bottle. I asked him if he needed a drink. He smirked and then he stood up on his bike to pedal ahead of me. About half way through the ride we stopped to rest. By this time I can see him sweating like a whore in a church.
I offered him a drink, he said no then says, “Watch this!” The dude started making grunting noises and faces as if he was about to drop a deuce! Next thing you know, his body was absorbing all the sweat he just lost! Ya man, his skin was bone dry! Right after that he got on his bike and pedaled away…wow…he really is badass!
42-year-old mountain biker finally gets on the fat tire bike fad with his purchase of a new single speed fat tire bike. These types of bikes have been around for quite some time and people who live in non-snowy areas have gotten them too. Ya sure they’re gimmicky and they look fun, but this fad…well, it’s a fad. There are plenty of brands who offer fat tire bikes, but the thing is, these bikes aren’t their biggest sellers. People still love their XC or Enduro/Trail bikes. Heck, even the E-bike craze is starting to become more popular than the fatties. But don’t quote me on that, it’s not like I have scientific data. It’s a matter of what I see on the trail
With that said, we’ll wait around and see how long he’ll keep this bike. When asked why he bought one, he said: “Well truthfully, I got caught up in a bidding war on eBay…and guess what, I won.” But did he really win?
Way back in 2007, my brother lived in PA where it would snow like a mofo. I told him about an making some bicycle tire chains for the snow. Yep, snow chains or however you Snow Birds call them…but for bicycles.
Mountain biking and road racing may come from the same DNA, but much like Snooker and Pool, there is no denying both are different sports that require different levels of skill, fitness and technicalities.
However, if you find you have certain talent for one, the likelihood is you will be able to utilise a number of those attributes over to the other code.
That is certainly the case in cycling and Mountain biking as we look at some of the most successful transitions from road to dirt and vice-versa.
Now retired, Dane Michael Rasmussen began his career mountain biking and was quite the dab hand at the sport.
So much so in fact he won the 1999 Cross Country World Mountain Bike Championship defeating runner up Frenchman Miguel Martinez and third place Belgian Filip Meirhaeghe.
In 2001, Rasmussen made the switch to the road after earning a Stagiaire with CSC-Tiscali and would go on to shine in the 2005, 2006 Tour de France winning the mountain classification with aplomb.
He clearly put his mountain biking prowess to good use as all four stage wins came in the mountain classification.
However, Rasmussen’s career was tainted by doping scandals and in 2013 he openly admitted that he had cheated for 12 years and was subsequently banned from the sport for two years.
Australian Evans was a serial silver medallist during his mountain biking years in the 1990’s and early noughties.
In fact, five silver medals followed for Evans at various Mountain Bike World Championships before making the switch to road racing in 2001 after impressing on the 1999 Tour of Tasmania.
Evans was proclaimed as a potential future Tour de France winner and achieved the feat in 2011, although one is where it remained unlike 2019 favourite Chris Froome who can be backed at 11/4 with Betway as of the 10th December to win a fifth Tour de France title.
He did, however, still go on to have a hugely successful road career outside the Tour de France as well which included a Commonwealth gold medal in 2002 as well as a World Championship gold in 2009.
However, Evans returned to his mountain biking roots in 2017 taking part in South Africa’s epic eight-day Absa Cape Epic stage race in the master’s category.
Remarkably, Evans and team mate George Hincapie won their category at the age of 40.
The Slovakian Tourminator has a fine record on the road including eleven stage wins on the Tour de France and four individual stage wins on the Vuelta a España and three World Road Race Championships.
A host of other wins aside from the grand tours have followed for Sagan but there are too many to list here.
But it is Sagan’s off-road exploits for which he has earned a sturdy reputation.
Most notably at the 2016 Rio Olympics in which were it not for a series of mechanical issues, he may well have claimed an extraordinary gold medal in the cross-country race.
At the end of lap one, Sagan was in the top three and out to spring a surprise, however, a front wheel puncture ended his hopes.
Admittedly, Sagan is a former junior World Mountain Bike champion and is well versed in the discipline and at just 28-years of age, what’s the betting on Sagan to reappear for another crack at Cross-Country gold at an Olympics coming soon?
After all, that is what we all want to see, isn’t it?
American Amber Neben got her mountain biking career underway with a two-and-a-half-year spell with the SoBe HeadShok team and achieved a second place at the 1999 collegiate US National Mountain Bike Trials.
A certain Willow Koerber as the winner that day with Kelli Emmet in third which just goes to show how talented a mountain biker Amber Neben is.
Technology has come a long way since 1999 in mountain biking but rather than stick with the progression of the sport, Neben found she has a remarkable talent for road racing after winning the Cascade Classic in 2001.
More success would follow after making the permanent switch to the road including two World Time Trial Championships in 2008 and as recently as 2016.
However, doping reared its ugly head in 2003 with Neben testing positive for banned substance 19-norandrosterone.
Despite receiving a suspension, it was determined the substance was taken unintentionally and Neben soon accepted regular tests to prove she was clean at all times.
I don’t know about you, but caffeine in the form of coffee has been my go-to drink when it comes to waking up. I usually go with coffee because it’s a natural high. Most energy drinks have synthetic caffeine, though they work fast and get the job done, the crash is a bit harsher than what I would desire. Prior to a ride, I usually will drink a cup of coffee about an hour before I get on the saddle. I say an hour because there’s a good chance I’ll need to take a dump soon after drinking coffee.
Oh after you take a dump, make sure you wipe good or use a wipey…having left over toilet paper on your butthole is super uncomfortable during rides…feels like sand! Anyhow, I’ve always loved coffee and I even worked in the coffee business for a few years. I was doing the digital marketing for a coffee roaster. Soon after I left that job, I found myself having to buy coffee, before it was free, I could take home as much as I wanted.
Being subjected to stale coffee from the grocery store, I decided to start roasting my own. I learned quite a bit while working at the roaster. I knew about brightness, types of beans, flavor profiles, 1st crack, city roast and etc. At first I tried my luck with a popcorn maker. Yes you can roast coffee with an airpopper, just google it. Once I decided on my profiles, I sold one of my beloved scooters to fund my newest toy, an actual coffee roaster! Yup, this was my gateway into roasting great coffee. I had to learn how to roast on my new machine and once I figured it all out, I decided to launch Cock Coffee Roaster. Get this, it’s really GOOD coffee! I only use 100% Specialty Grade Arabica Beans, that means I’m roasting some hight quality stuff.
You know what they say, don’t get high on your own stuff…well I’m breaking that rule because my coffee is good! Anyhow, I’m curious to know what you guys use to pre-game a ride? Coffee, Redbull, 5Hour Energy, Crack?
So I’m back for now. Many of you have read that I was going through some rough times. No, I didn’t go to Rehab or jail. But I went through a divorce. Considering most divorces are a pain to deal with, mine was pretty amicable. Don’t get me wrong, all the emotional stuff that comes along with it was bitch…
But I digress. Within the last 2 years, I really haven’t done much riding. I’ve been caught up with motorcycles and other hobbies. But as Facebook reminds me of some great memories I had while riding, I was starting to miss it. My buddies The Moe and Artie have been the ones I usually head out on the trail with. We ride slow and we’re always making fun of each other, whether it’s about who’s got the smallest penis, who’s balding and who’s the most out of shape, it’s all in fun and it makes the event even more pleasurable. Our humor isn’t for the thin skinned, our pace isn’t for the racer. We just know how to have a good time on the trails and we don’t rush anything.
With all that in mind, I’ve decided to start riding again. I also just want to get on my bicycles more. I’ve got this electric cargo bike that I used to go fishing with all the time. I haven’t done that in so long and I figured if I use it, it’s all part of the adventure, right? Plus I’ve got an official Awnry fixed gear bike that still needs to be assembled. I think if anything I miss the peace that mountain biking brings as well as the thrill of the downhills. One of the best parts about riding is we usually will eat afterwards and The Moe usually pays for the tab! Score!
If you ever raced downhill or XC with your buddies then you may want to start a wager. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say your group of riding friends are participating in a race, then why not bet each other a 6 pack of beer? Sure the event will rank riders based on their finish times, but to add some fun to it, do the beer thing.
Let’s say you all are doing a DH race; everyone is timed to see who gets to the finish line the fastest. So the premise is this, each of you has to bring a 6 pack of beer. Make sure you all keep it in a cooler so you can enjoy it after. Go race and once they post the results, see which one of you came in the fastest. Back in my racing days, there were a few of us who were in the same age group as well as same riding level. It was pretty fun to compete with each other to see who came in the fastest. Sometimes the times would differ by thousands of a second, while other times we knew that the fast guy in our group would win. However, there were times we’d see an upset. The fastest guys in our group wouldn’t always be fast. Often times they’d come in too hot during the race and crash, thus causing them to lose.
One of the things we figured out during our time DH racing was “slow means fast.” This mean that sometimes you have to go slow so you can go fast later. I’ll give you an example; there was a deep rutted turn that I was having a hard time on during practice. I talked to one of the Vet Pro riders to get some advice on how to handle it. He told me to just go slow. At first it didn’t make sense because you’d think I would have to go fast…I mean it’s a race isn’t it? He explained to me that if I go slowly on that section, I won’t risk crashing or making a mistake, and I could make up the time somewhere else in the course. Makes perfect sense right?
Alright, back to our bet for beers. Another game you can play is BettingTop 10 with your buddies. So all of you puts in $10 in a pot. If you or your friends make it on the top 10 of the top finishers, then you pay accordingly. But the higher you are on the list, the more money you get. So out of your group, let’s say one person gets 10th, another 7th, and another 2nd, then the person who got 2nd would get the whole pot. Doing this just ads some additional fun to your race experience. Besides, it’s a great incentive to do well for the next event.
When I look back at all my years of mountain bike riding and racing I have done, then come across something I have kept as a memento from my early days, it makes me think just how far we have progressed with bikes, parts, and riding gear.
While reorganizing my mountain bike area of my garage I came across my first DH helmet. This was one of Troy Lee Designs first helmets that he brought out, sort of, but he did and it was the “Sh_t to have” (read on).
After strolling through memory lane in my mind of those fun DH days, it made me think about what this helmet resembles or more about what it represents today. There’s no way this would be close to a DH helmet by today’s standard. Then it hits me! It’s more like an Enduro or All-Mountain helmet.
THE FUTURE IN THE PAST
It was called the EDGE Comp, but what most of you out there may not know is, the Edge Comp started life with a well-known helmet company. My guess is they thought their name would make the sales in mountain biking, but as we all know this may not be the case and back in the early days of mountain biking this really didn’t work to often by name and reputation alone.
Shoei Helmets brought out their first mountain bike helmet with no chin bar at the time, it was a new cool style XC helmet. Something way different then the traditional XC helmet (which had about as much style as an all foam helmet from KMART).
We go back to 1990, Shoei helmets (big in the moto market) thought to break into the MTB market, calling the new helmet the RC3 it came with no removable chin bar (like the TLD Comp) and looking to capture the XC crowd by storm Shoei was heading in the right direction, or so they thought.
Shoei knowing Troy Lee for being a leading graphics painter in Moto race circles, thought Troy Lee could do something with it, spice it up a bit, make it look COOOOOL.
Troy Lee recognized the potential with the helmet. He tweaked the peak, added a decal graphics package with it so you could make it cool and “BAM” you have a seller.
Next you have some of the top pro riders at the time wear it, BAM!! Pros loved this helmet, Troy Lee eventually acquired the rights to the RC3 and Troy Lee called it the Edge Comp.
With Downhill becoming more and more popular in the mid 90’s, Troy Lee saw the need for more protection. At this point he added a chinbar that could be removed simply by unscrewing the four screws. suddenly you have the best of both worlds, a DH helmet or an open face XC helmet.
Something we call All-Mountain, Trail, or Enduro helmets today.
THE FUTURE NOW
I started noticing what made this helmet so unique in itself is that when you look at all the features it has, you see what a lot of the newer helmets have in them. The DNA of the Troy Lee EDGE Comp is evident with the new designs out there from Its full rear / side head coverage, removable chinbar, large venting and overall fit, not to mention cool style.
I found it funny to look at it and think, “Wow, the new helmets out there today are not that much different in the style and design structure (OK structure is different, but you know what I’m talking about).
Just look at the Bell Super 2R, Giro Switchblade, Leatt DBX 3.0., 6D, Fox and so many more. When you compare the look of these helmets in full-face or All-Mountain mode to the older Troy Lee Edge [RC3] they share the same general DNA features. Some may be a full-face helmet with removable chinbar, big venting, or All-Mountain / trail helmets like 6D, FOX, and others. In other words you get great coverage and comfort for long rides all in one.
LOOKING AT THE NEW
With the advent to new technologies, better materials, and better understandings of head trauma, cycling helmets have become far better safety wise these days.
Style is everything to most of us, I mean really, we have to look good on the trail. From the moment you pull up to the trail and unload your bike the style points are starting with your peers, Lol.
All kidding aside we do care about safety and the manufactures care as well, especially to the head.
You will find many companies out there using the regular old EPS designs still and there is nothing wrong with that at all, but if you have the chance to help save your head with a bit more safety, why not be smart and do this for yourself.
We may all know someone that may have had a head injury from mountain biking, I know I have and with what’s out there now makes me wonder if it would have made a difference had my friend been wearing one of these new helmets today.
THE NEW MOUSE TRAP
These new designs come in many acronyms. The most well-known of them all and I believe one of the first was MIPS. You have 360Deg Turbine Technology by Leatt, and 6D has ODS.
These new technologies have been the big game changer for off-road cycling helmets today. Manufactures are making helmets that will help the rider to better survive a nasty shot to the old noddle. Even if you may not have a whole lot up in that area, let’s keep what you do have intact, shell we.
What do these safety features do? There are two things that are being achieved here, one is the reduction of rotational acceleration to the head and brain and number two is the absorption of energy during impact at concussion level.
So, let me give a brief explanation of what these do for you, told by the companies that make them.
Most of you out there may know or have heard of what MIPS is. The MIPS system is used widely by many companies.
Some will simply add this to their helmets EPS liners, while other companies will design it into their helmets for better fit with your head.
Bell uses it in their Super 2R, Giro in the new Switchblade, and many bicycle manufactures like GIANT use the MIPS systems with their MTB helmets.
MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, this is a leading slip-plane system placed within the helmet to help reduce the rotational forces that result from impact.
Kind of like having a floating layer the will move when hit.
360Deg Turbine Technology
LEATT, a leading safety company known for the development of neck brace protection has developed their own system called 360Deg Turbine Technology. Turbines made of 3D molded energy absorbing material.
The best way to describe this is they look like small rubber disc that are placed within the EPS liner around the helmet.
The two advantages to this are the reduction of rotational acceleration to the head and brain and the absorption of energy upon impact at concussion level.
6D helmets is another company that takes their helmet safety seriously. They have developed their system called Omni-Directional Suspension technology (ODS for short).
What make their helmet safety unique is how it works. You will notice the word Suspension in their description of the technology.
That’s right, suspension in a nut shell or brain bucket in this case. 6D has dual EPS liners with Elastomeric Isolation Dampers in between. What this does is allow for downward and upward, rotational, and side to side impact safety.
If you look at one of their cut-away, it seems like it would be free floating within the two EPS liners with little rubber shocks so to speak. Very cool.
PICK YOU POISON
This is just the tip of what is out there when it come to new helmet safety. It blows me away to look at my old Troy Lee and see what we have today versus what we have now. It makes me think, “WOW, I rode in that thing and took a killer hit to my head in it while racing a Big Bear AM-CUP. I rang my bell for sure and it saved my head, but how would that hit have differed to my head while using one of the new helmets with this new safety technology in.
With all research in head trauma, new technology and materials, it has made one thing clear.
Companies care about their customers well-being, not just making a buck off of us.
So, when you are out there and you are ready to make that next helmet purchase give a little thanks to guys like Troy Lee and Shoei for seeing the future, pushing the envelope and making us safe.
And give thanks to all the new guys that are pushing forward on how to keep us riding everyday.