Ride Report: 03-14-2010 Turnbull Canyon with The Path Bike Shop Group

As soon as it was announced that The Path Bike Shop group ride would be hitting Turnbull Canyon in Whittier, Tony and I were stoked. Located in Whittier, CA Turnbull Canyon is Tony and Kim’s home trail and serves as our Tuesday after-work ride. So to say we’re familiar with the trail would be an understatement.

The Path Crew Arrives

Kim, Tony and I were among the first to reach Turnbull Canyon and watched with anticipation as vehicle after vehicle arrived with bikes aboard and when all was said and done we had 18 riders for a Tour-de-Turnbull.

Beautiful weather and weeds as Kim leads Steve and Tony up a climb

It was an amazing day for a ride with the temperatures staying in the 70s and clear skies overhead. Maxwell and Brian W were representing The Path Bike shop and Maxwell’s friend Brian (didn’t catch his last name) served as ride lead and set up the ride plan. Up the fire road, 7th ave loop, down Rattlesnake, Cow Trail loop and finally descend A-side.

The Graffiti Tower

What a ride it turned out to be! With such a large group, usually there are several mechanicals and a diverse set of rider skills and abilities , leading to compromises on the route ridden. But today, everyone was of similar skill and ability and the only mechanicals were a derailleur adjustment and a broken chain. The chain even broke at a powerlink, meaning we didn’t have to pull out a chain breaker to fix it. All said and told, it was an amazing ride with grueling climbs for the XC crowd, jumps and tech lines for the all-mountain/free-riders and a great time for everyone.

Single-Track

Thanks goes out to Brian for setting up the ride, The Path Bike Shop in Tustin for hosting and sending Brian W and Maxwell. Oh, and watch out if you’re at The Path, for some reason I always end up buying a bike if Brian W is there, so be leery of him!

Check out the video I was able to capture with the Vholdr Contour HD 1080p camera and edit with Windows Movie Maker (because it’s free!). Please go to Youtube to view these videos larger and in higher quality (up to 720p). [Just click on the video a second time – 1st click begins playing, 2nd click takes you to the video on Youtube.]

Race Report – SRC Winter Series XC Race #1 Jan 9th 2010

The winter holidays came and went all too quickly for me.  I had dreams of a 3 month off-season but the 1st race of the 2010 winter series was approaching quickly and I decided to treat this as training for the bigger races from March to May. It was a beautiful day with temps in the 70s and as usual Don Jackson and his crew at Southridge Racing do an excellent job in providing a fun race environment. I noticed more entrants in the younger categories, it’s great to see more kids getting into this sport!

For Sport, the course was the same as November’s Southridge Challenge – three,  5.5mile laps.  This was gonna be a challenge as  I do better on the longer courses at Southridge, they have more singletrack and downhill that suit my riding style and help me make up time on the stellar climbers in my category (Sport 27-34).  Climbing is my weakness, I have a gut and at 185lbs (5’8″) I’m heavy/stocky for an XC racer. I even have a habit of blowing up in races by sprinting from the start line for too long!  After about 6 weeks without training, I knew that I couldn’t hold a sprint very long. So when Donny counted us down and we took off, I dropped into third and planned to keep the leaders in site.  We climbed to the water tower and the leaders gradually pulled away and I fell back a few more positions leaving me a panting, sweaty mess as I mushed my way up the hill. I recovered in the single track sections to regain third and moved into second on one of the long downhill sections. My strategy became clear.

On the way to the asphalt road for the water tower climb
On the way to the asphalt road for the water tower climb

I held second to start the next lap and as we climbed to the water tower I was passed again, but I kept my competitors in sight this time. Through the single track I was flowing and managed to close the gap as we approached the downhill where I previously passed. We start heading downhill and I’m cranking hard, building speed to shoot past #2 and eventually the race leader. Next is a short uphill I desperately climb and barely manage to keep the wolves at bay into the next downhill singletrack section where I can build a gap. I finish lap two and begin lap three. I don’t see anyone as I begin to grind my way up to the water tower, my right knee burning in protest as I try to put some power down. After negotiating some of the rolling hills near the water tower as I grit my way up the last climb before the single track, I look back and see 2nd place 10 yards back and attacking! I attack, he knows he is close and is trying to catch me. I sprint, my legs grow thick and heavy with lactic acid, my lungs burn as I sink into oxygen debt my pulse fills my ears, I can only hold this pace for a moment more. I put about thirty yards between us as crest the hill and bomb into the single track. I pedal all the downhills and by the end I enjoy a 2 min victory! Before you think that I was lying about not being in shape, I finished in 1:12:51, in November I finished in 4th with a 1:10:52, so that means that the fast guys just didn’t show up for this race and I’ve got some work to do.

1st XC race win, Sport 27-34
1st XC race win, Sport 27-34

I’ve got to thank the team sponsors for their help, Evomo and Hoss for the cool clothes, IceToolz for the tools and Serfas for the glasses and Ergon for the comfort.

Race Report – SRC Winter Series DH Race #1 Jan 10th 2010

On Jan 10th I headed out to Fontana for one last practice run and my first DH race in the sport category. After a few mishaps in my first couple races, I managed to finish out 2009 with some success in the beginner group and decided it was time to move into sport.

The DH course was a mix of previous Southridge Racing Co courses. With the upper 1/4 from November’s Southridge Challenge and the next 1/4 from July’s Fontana City Nationals. This meant a couple cool lines in the upper section with some berms and fast sections. A rocky chute into soft sand that took out many riders followed by some of the dustiest, loosest S-turns in SoCal! This was followed by a nice g-out hip and then a long pedal to cross the fire road into the usual rock garden and the dreaded wall!

Thank goodness the course was familiar because following the previous day’s XC race I just had nothing in the tank and managed just two practice runs before calling it a day due to exhaustion.

Sunday was a beautiful day and I whipped out the Vholdr Contour HD 1080p helmet cam to record my run. At 2:52 I’m neither happy nor dissatisfied with my time (7th in sport 27-34), I know I’ve got to get quicker if I want to podium, but with three total practice runs, it wasn’t a bad outing.

I’ve got to thank the team sponsors for their help, especially KHS bicycles for the demo Lucky 7 bike to use! Evomo and Hoss for the cool clothes, IceToolz for the tools and Serfas Optics and Ergon for helping us be comfortable.

Ride: 12-28-2009 Santiago Oaks Solo Ride

I’m one of those fortunate souls with the week off from Christmas to New Year’s and decided to take advantage by getting in a ride today.  I hate riding alone, but I couldn’t conjure anyone up for a ride this afternoon and I’ve also been meaning to go to The Path bike shop in Tustin for a few weeks to exchange some parts.  So I decided to knock a few couple things off the to do list, loaded up the truck, ran a couple errands, headed over to the shop, and finally to play at Santiago Oaks.  I was hoping to capture some more video on the Vholdr ContourHD 1080p.  I took some video with the point-and-shoot and hoped to edit it with the helmet camera video to make a sick video.  Unfortunately, in a bone-headed move, I didn’t charge the ContourHD.  Since I had some time to kill, whilst doing laundry, I decided to throw together a little video of the point and shoot footage.  Santiago Oaks was in pretty good shape today, a few new ruts have formed from the rain, but for the most part, traction was excellent.  The sun was shining and a slight breeze kept the sweat at bay.

I know this is just footage of an average joe, riding a typical trail, but take it for what it is, and ENJOY!


The Story Behind the Review: KHS Lucky 7

I struggled for a couple days to write the review of the KHS Lucky 7.  I kept transitioning from reviewing the bike to telling stories about the bike.  Finally, I’ve decided that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  What follows, is the story of my time aboard this bike.  The trips, the rides and the races that the KHS Lucky 7 carried me through.  Watch for the review in the upcoming weeks.

The Lucky 7 has been my go to gravity bike this year. Team sponsor KHS cycles has been nice enough to grant me extended time with this demo bike, on the condition it is raced and that I share the results.

Though designed for free-ride use, the Lucky 7 is the go to bike for the KHS race team at smaller DH race courses. However a thorough resume is not a prerequisite for hopping aboard the Lucky 7 and getting the most out of the experience.  I was a casual mountain biker, I owned one trail bike and rode two or three times a month.  I had other hobbies and interests that split my time.  From 2006 till November 2008, that was my riding experience.  That’s when I met RL through this very blog and eventually the rest of the Mtnbikeriders team.  Which led me into single-speeding, then XC racing and eventually DH racing.  So as I, a true newbie to downhill, I began my time with the Lucky 7.  The first race [Southridge Winter Series, 2/22/2009, 13th out of 14] was a disaster!  I did manage to get the durability testing out of the way immediately, though!

The next race [Southridge Winter Series Finals, 3/22/2009, 10th out of 20] was a lot better!  With no dirt naps in-store for me.  I began to see the capabilities in the bike and the potential I had to become competitive [in Beginner Men 27-34].   Unfortunately, I would be without the Lucky 7 after this point until a shuttle session at Telonics a couple weeks before the 3rd race of the Golden State series in Fontana on 07/12/2009.

In Telonics I got to ride some real DH terrain on the Lucky 7 and it was amazing!  It’s just a forgiving bike that soaks up the small and big hits.   We had a ton of fun and burned through a set of brake pads in the process!  Now onto the race, with a two run format and no “wall” to pedal, this is the closest to a true DH race located in So-Cal nowadays.   With a fresh new attitude on DH riding and fresh legs (normally I race XC the day before the DH race), I was able to put together “the run of my life” I recall telling Tony at the bottom.  What a rush!  To have a clean DH run, one where I honestly felt I rode as fast as I possibly could, clean without any mistakes, I get excited thinking about it!  The result was a 3rd place and my first DH podium.

Next up was Mammoth mountain, now this is a true DH race.  On a mountain with loose pumice, a nasty rock section, a wall ride and a finish through the 4x track.  Mammoth lived up to its name, with a fast race run coming in 4 minutes, the track was over a minute longer than any Fontana run.   The Lucky 7 was beautiful here, through the steep sections, over the jumps and pedaling the straights.  We were a team, and we were determined to make it to the podium.  Well, we did better than podium, we won!

So, now here we are near the year end.  The 18th annual Southridge classic has just concluded (though I’m gonna make you wait for that story).  Be sure to check out the upcoming Lucky 7 review and review the 1st impression here.  It’s funny, we’re so used to reviews coming from expert and pro riders.  It’s true that they can push a bike to it’s limits, but couldn’t they ride almost any bike down the Mountain?  Wouldn’t a bike we (mountain bike enthusiast) consider stable and comforting seem slow and unresponsive to them? Anyways, if you don’t want to read a review from a Beginner DH racer, don’t worry.  I’m moving up to sport the first race next year.  I’ve got to say thanks one more time by the way to KHS Bicycles and their our Lucky 7.  Don’t forget to check out the KHS SixFifty 606 too.

Race Report: Rock Shox Golden State Downhill Final at Mammoth Mountain – David Sanderson

When I heard the final race in the Rock Shox Golden State series would be in Mammoth, I knew I just had to get there.  Fortunately, so did the rest of the Mtnbikeriders team!  Wednesday night I headed over to the Finch’s (Kim & Tony), loaded up the truck and took off at midnight. Plan was to be in Mammoth ready to ride by 8am to get in on the first official practice session.  I was supposed to nap before leaving and sleep in the truck when it wasn’t my turn to drive…yeah, that didn’t happen!  I was way too amped to get to Mammoth and ride some real downhill terrain.

We pulled into the Mammoth parking lot, full of a big breakfast, got registered and ready to ride.  It’s funny how far we traveled to this race only to find all the same usual suspects present!  Sometimes it’s hard to get out of the parking lot, there so many people to go say what’s up to.

Tony, Kim and I head up for our first practice with Tony in the lead.  What a course, steep chutes, gaps, berms, a wall-ride and a rock garden!  Tony and I estimate this is a 4 minute course and at altitude this is gonna hurt!  Thank goodness we got there early and are able to dial in our lines over 3 days before race day.  We rode all day, all weekend, 5 practice runs a day, followed by riding the rest of mountain!  no wonder my legs are beat and I’m beat up!  The KHS Lucky 7 is getting a work out on this trip!

Thanks to all the practice with the Wizard, I’m feeling pretty fast and confident come race day.  This is the first race where I actually start to discuss race strategy with Tony.  Before, I always just went for it. No brain, no headache! I watched the Pros practice and the number one thing I took away is PEDAL!  Everywhere you can, PEDAL that bike!  As we approach race day, I’m prepared and I’ve got my eyes set on one man, Ed Suarez!  This is my third DH race and Ed won the previous two (I went 10th place and 3rd).  I know I’ve practiced enough to ride as fast as I can, the question is, am I faster than Ed?

Race day, I’m chilling out, hanging with the team until about fifteen minutes before my race run.  Time to step into my office, I throw on my helmet and pedal around.  I’m supposed to be warming up, but my heart is already beating hard.  I try to calm down and visualize my run from top to bottom, what line to take, where to pedal, where to save energy and when to let it all hang out! I pull into the gate and hear “Rider, fifteen seconds”.

GO! Out of the gate I hammer, I pedal hard even though I already know (from watching the guys before me) I can only get in seven pedal strokes before braking for the first left!  The visualization technique worked, I’m not “thinking” about my lines, I’m on auto-pilot.  It’s almost as though I’m playing a video game.  My mind is free to think clearly at a higher level, I’m not thinking about where I am but rather where I will be in a few moments.  The next move after the 1st left is a sharp right into a steep chute that I roll into and start staring at the ground just a few feet ahead of me.  My internal monologue kicks in, “What are you doing David?, look up, look further ahead”.  I’m amazed as I raise my focus from ten to twenty five yards out, my whole world slows down and I have time to asses and plan my next moves.  I accelerate to top speed out of the chute.  I’m going so fast I float over two drainage ditches serving as gaps followed by a right turn, a few rocks and then into a loose pumice set of S-turns!  Have you ever ridden in sand?  Imagine that sensation, but downhill at speed!  After the pumice is a short steep hard pack section, speeding you into a huge table top jump.  I’d been airing this jump all weekend long, but the wind was kicking and I stay low on this run to land cleanly descending into first fast straight-away!  Fast as in eye-balls jumping around in your skull, blurred vision and sweaty palms.  “Just keep looking far ahead” the voice in my head chirps.  Into another series of pumice S-turns followed by the sweet wall-ride!  You’ve got to get the previous corner just right to use it, but the wall-ride turns out to be an E-ticket ride for me, I’m on it, high and PEDALING!  Steve the course marshal gives me a hoot as I’m spit out into the only major rock garden on the course.  I observed the fast guys and learned to use the left line out onto the spine of the last rock into a small drop followed by a banked turn.  PEDAL hard through the small straight into a tight turn and more loose-pack.  Now gasping for air pedal another straight, through a right turn onto a platform followed by a drop into a left turn, small jump, right turn and PEDAL!  I roll the first three tabletops, hammering the whole way to get enough speed to clear the last double into three tight banked turns in a row!  Hammer down another straight into a bermed left-turn that leads us into the 4X track!  4X on a bike over 40lbs is an experience, through the jumps, boulders and berms.  PEDAL and build speed.  In the triples, I manage to double then roll the last one. I’m pumped because I always rolled the triples in practice, damn! I must be haulin!  Over the last tabletop, “PEDAL!”, and I’m across the finish.

I get to meet up with Tony and watch the rest of the team come down.  I’m having a great time and I know I had a solid run.  I could only think of about two to three seconds I could have saved if I rode perfectly.  Anxiously I await the final results.  RL sees them before me and just walks by coyly “I’ll let you go see”,

I hustle over and see my name in first place!  I even put seven seconds between me and second!  Damn, I might be ready to move up to sport!  This is my first win and man, it felt great, especially beating a few guys who’ve beaten me in the past!  I really thought I would’ve won a XC race before a DH one, but I guess I was wrong!  Coming up will be the november race in Fontana.  The plan is for that to be my last beginner race with a move to sport in 2010!  I know Ed’s gonna bring it at the next race, I’m not going to sneak up on him again!  I gotta thank the team sponsors, Hoss, Evomo, Ice Toolz, Serfas and Ergon.  A huge thanks goes out to KHS bicycles and their Lucky 7.

1.5″ and Tapered Headtubes, Necessary?

So I was perusing through the STR* forums and found a thread titled Tapered Head Tubes – Debate.

[*STR = So Cal Trail Riders, my handle, dwsand3r]

I went ahead and threw my two cents in and decided to share my response here, but I added a sketch for extra dork points!

“Most of the force from your fork (a really long lever arm*) is dispersed into the lower headset cup. That is why the lower is 1.5”.

Note: for all the engineering types, I did not show all forces, nor did I balance these forces.  This is not an accurate free body diagram, just a quick conceptual sketch.

Remember many years ago, just before the switch to the 1.125″ standard, how common it was for a frame and/or lower headset cups to fail. The remedy was to move onto thread-less oversize (1.125″) headsets & steerer tubes. This also was during the time frame when 100mm of fork travel was huge and a 2 foot drop was gnarly! Also the fork was a pretty weak, noodle like member.

Most bikes offering the 1.5″ or tapered head tubes are designed for 140mm+ travel forks (even longer lever arm, that is why you’ll void many warranties by running a fork longer than the manufacturer specifies*), the forks are incredibly stiff (35+mm stanchions), and a 6 foot drop won’t even get you a photo in your friend’s blog.

The 1.125″ standard is fine for XC and 90% of trail riders out there.

The 1.5″ and/or tapered is a great thing for the rest of us. That is why 1.5″ stems are only available in shorter lengths. It is assumed if you’re running 1.5″ you’re a free rider or D/H and you’re running a short stem.

*lever arm : imagine if you were to put a pipe in your bike’s head tube and then pulled on the pipe in an attempt to break the head tube off the frame. It be a lot easier to do with a longer pipe than a short one.

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” – Archimedes”

Comment with what you think, should the whole industry go to 1.5″?  Should 1.5″ be abolished?  Is taper the ultimate middle ground?

Ride Report: Sol Vista Bike Park, Granby CO 07/17/09 – 07/18/09

Though Tony, Tim and I went to the U.S. Nationals in support of Kim Finch on her XC efforts, you didn’t think we weren’t gonna ride did you? Oh, also Johnny D was in attendance for a bit of work/play. Sol Vista is a lift accessed mountain bike park with several DH and XC routes available. They use the same Murray-Latta bike trays as found in Whistler, so you know they’re good! Though they only have a single-chair lift, the “Sheriff” does a good job of packing everybody on and keeping the line moving. If you take into account the fact we were there during the weekend of nationals and still got plenty of rides, so you know the line is not an issue.

The Trails: Sol Vista has a variety of terrain, from rocky descents to fast flowing DH with a couple drop descents thrown in. Unfortunately due to Nationals, Cougar was closed as was a section of Drifter. As far as difficulty is concerned, there was plenty to be enjoyed by a beginner and to push an average expert rider. Beyond that skill level, I figure you’re going/gone/ or at Whistler while reading this.  Check out videos of the Sol Vista Trails!

A clip of Tony, followed (filmed) by Tim

The Location: Granby CO (2 hours NE of Denver) is idyllic, with beautiful scenery around every turn.

It was actually a little difficult to sleep at night due to the quiet! Granby and the surrounding communities all have a small town feel and are a wonderful escape from city life. You’re surrounded by streams, lakes, ponds and trees. It really makes you feel at one with nature.

Things to do: Eat! Seriously though, being a small town, the night life is not strong. You don’t come here to go hit the clubs, that’s for sure. Instead this has more of a circle of friends around a camp fire, sharing stories and brews feel. Besides, you’ll have plenty to talk about. In addition to mountain biking, there is a plethora of fishing, camping and white water rafting nearby to fill your days. Don’t forget, Crankworx CO at Winterpark is also nearby, though I didn’t get to sample the trails there, Johnny D vouches for them being pretty good and worth the trip.

Gear: There are several full-service bike shops nearby ready to fulfill your needs. It’s funny going from So Cal to CO. In So Cal you’ll find huge Specialized, Giant and Intense presence in most shops. In the three shops I visited in CO, the strongly represented brands were Yeti and Rocky Mountain with a little of everything else sprinkled in. Sol Vista itself has a basic service bike shop with a large rental fleet. I took advantage of a Santa Cruz V-10 the first day and moved to the lighter Bullit the next. Tim tried the Yeti 303RDH and Tony rode a Commencal Racing Supreme DH. All the DH bikes run Fox 40 forks and a variety of quality builds, everyone with a bashguard/chain guide and crank bros 50/50 pedals. If you run clipless, bring your pedals!

A clip of me on the Bullit, I’m not mad!  I’m looking at the camera thinking “did the red light turn on or not?”

Would I do it again? Yes, but only if I was going to mix in more than just riding Sol Vista. If I go again (and I’m sure I will eventually), I’m going to make sure my trip includes an event like the U.S. Nationals or Crankworx. Perhaps some fishing or camping. If I lived within an eight hour drive of Sol Vista, I’d be there regularly; flying from LA makes this trip prohibitively expensive for a just for fun weekend getaway. But hey, your budget is your budget and if you want to check out a great bike park in a great place to visit, Sol Vista could be right for you.

Race Report: California Golden State race #3 Fontana

July 11-12th (2009) several members of the Mtnbikeriders.com team made it out to Southridge Park for the third installment of the California Golden State presented by Rock Shox.  The fourth and final round will be in Mammoth(!) Sep 4th-5th, hopefully we’ll see you there!

It was sweltering hot weekend, with temps in the nineties and shade a rare commodity at the top of the hill.  Thankfully Donny Jackson and the SRC crew provided free cold water at the top in addition to their usual excellent shuttle service.

In my short DH experience (3rd race), this was the most fun race course I’ve come across.  Out of the gate were about 5 log stutter bumps into a tight right turn followed by off-chamber rollers that encouraged you to air it out a little, leading into left/right combination.  Then into the first rock garden, which hit just right let you jump the first batch of rocks into a hard left over a few more rocks and then downhill into the first g-out right turn into a very loose, off-chamber section that you had to maintain your speed and line or risk being sucked into the loose talcum-powder dirt.  This was followed by a right into another g-out, left into a small rock garden that led to an optional pro/beginner split.  The beginner line was a tight left/right turn combination that demanded slow speed.  The pro line was over a large boulder with about a three foot drop on the back side, this was the fast line but the consequences were definitely higher!  Interestingly enough I saw people attack this obstacle as a roller into some of the softest, loosest dirt I’ve ever experienced!  I actually was afraid to roll it for fear of digging into the soft dirt and going OTB!  Instead I just pulled up on the bars, leaned back and gritted my teeth until landing in an explosion of dust!  After the drop was more talcum-powder dirt shaped into an S-turn that I washed out in on my first race run (2:31), I didn’t feel too bad as I saw this section swallow people whole as it gobbled on front tires.  Then you dropped into a hard-packed right turn g-out followed by a pair of turns into a small rock garden, then another large boulder drop/roller into three fun rolling jumps.  It was here I was having way too much fun (speed) in my second run (2:19) and was about as out of control as one could be over the third jump, I even skimmed the rear tire with my butt as I fought to not get bucked off this E-ticket ride!  Luck was with me and I proceeded to drop the hammer across the fire road, access road and cut the corner by hopping over the drainage ditch leading into the lower rock garden.

Lower Rock Garden

The lower garden was smooth and fun with a couple tight turns and rollers, but with nowhere near the carnage that it presents in most of the races.  In fact most of the spectators found high spots in the upper half to watch the soft-dirt eat riders up left and right.

Race Results

At the end of it all, I finally scored a podium finish, 3rd place in Beginner Men 27-34 with a combined time of 4:51.40.  Hopefully I’ll continue to improve and make it into the Sport class in time for the next winter series.

Podium

I have to thank Tony (The Wizard) for making it out to practice on Saturday and leading me on my last practice run, until I passed him… until he (taught me a lesson and) passed me back, Arrgh!  The Wizard has probably forgotten more mountain biking than I’ve ever known!  Riding with him and Kim “The Champ” has improved my riding dramatically (and made me appreciate the shuttle!).  I have to thank Moe for the carpooling and comedy (“Dad, I think I’ve got the black lung”), Joe for the good times, Albert for being a stud, Wes for the course knowledge, Kim for being Team Mom in RL’s absence and KHS for the Lucky 7 to ride.  I’ve beaten this bike up pretty seriously, but don’t feel too bad, it has beaten me up too, fortunately we both keep coming back for more! Evomo and Hoss for helping me with the shirt on my back, the shorts on my legs and Ergon for the hydration pack when I’m training (okay I don’t train, but I do ride regularly!), Serfas Optics for the super cool sunglasses and Sportlegs for the help recovering!