AIRBORNE RANGER’S AND THEIR AIRBORNE Bicycles

Well the year is at a close and our racing is also at a close, so I took the time to go on line and check out my fellow  MtnBikeRiders.com teammate’s finishes on Southridgeusa.com and well I was quite amazed at our amount of top ten finishes. We also back those up with great overalls for the end of the year.

AIRBORNE TAKA
cane creek angleset

Now first and for most,  I want to say thanks to AIRBORNE BICYCLES for sponsoring our team and thanks to RL Policar for getting this together for us earlier this year, also a shout out to the guys at Marzocchifor helping us set up our suspension. “Thanks Ronny!”

Our team did do some upgrades to our TAKA’S, but not much, if anything the main upgrade we did was the CaneCreek Angle headset which gave the TAKA way better handling, some did suspension while others kept it simple and all mods worked great. Something I plan on talking about on TAKA REVISITED later.

PODIUMS GALORE
Our team has nine of us that raced for most of the season. The DH department has five racers consisting of yours truly, Art Aguilar, Corey Pond, RL Policar, Wes Castro, and Moe Ramirez.
airborne

In the XC/ Super- D department we have Dan Burdett, Nick Diblasi.Late in the season we pick up Stacey Stone for 4X and as you can see we have a well-rounded team that covers all disciplines.

Now looking at what we did as a team this year really amazed me I sat down on the SRC website and counted all our top ten finishes and found that I was VERY surprised, we landed 36 top ten finishes as a team and out of those 28 of them were top five podiums, 7 were series overalls, and 5 were SRC top year end season overalls with our own Wes Castro taking top honors with the number 1 plate in his class, “Way to go WES!!”
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With Wes Castro taking the number one plate home in the beginner 35-42 DH class for the year,  Art Aguilar took 5th overall in 43-50 expert Dh class.
RL Policar took 3rd overall in the beginner 27-34 Dh class.
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Stacy Stone took 5th overall in 4X, and Dan Burdett took  2nd overall in single Speed 34 under.
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All I could say is this was one kick butt year for us.

THINKING BACK FOR A YEAR
Corey Pond had some injuries this year that kept him out on and off for the year, but he’s planning to have a great 2012 year.

As a whole we did quite a bit for our sponsors and I feel we succeeded. In a whole, we had a great time hanging out, talking bicycles and racing. We added some new faces to the team mid-year,  Stacy Stone raced 4X and some Super-D, also we have Nick Diblasi who is racing Super-D. We added another rider to the DH roster, young gun Bryan Doney for 16-18 DH beginners. So next year will be fun to see what’s around the corner.

A SPECIAL THANKS TO AIRBORNE

AIRBORNE BICYCLE’s was our bike sponsored for our team. They provided TAKA DH and 29er GOBIiN bikes for us and I think I can speak for the team when I say that in a market saturated with $4000 race bikes, we proved you don’t need to have the most expensive bike out there to get the job done, so a big hats off to the AIRBORNE crew, Rick, Jeremy, Eric.

I look forward to a race filled season with a great team for 2012.

So you want to get into downhill mountain biking, but it intimidates you…

You find yourself riding more technical terrain and have toyed with the idea of trying “downhill,” but something about it intimidates you. Hey, don’t worry, first time dher’s have all felt that way before. Eventually you’ll come to enjoy it and find it very fun and rewarding. So here’s a few things to help you get started on downhill mountain biking.


Do I need a downhill specific mountain bike?

Not necessarily. If you’re just starting out, the best thing to do is go with what you have. A basic XC bike with 4″ of travel can get you started. Basically what I’m saying is, try to see if you’d like DH first. There’s no need for you to drop all this money on a new bike and find out that you really don’t like it. Another option is to borrow a DH bike from a friend or rent one from a local shop.


Do I need body armor and a full face helmet?

Yes, protection is always good. Besides you can convince the wife to let you buy stuff because it’s going to keep you “safer.” Get some knee/shin guards as well as some elbow pads, you’ll be glad you did. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve crashed where the pads saved my skin. The good thing about a full face is it protects your money maker. This crash could have messed up Moe’s beautiful face, but lucky for him, the only thing he got was a bruised ego.


Go with someone that has been downhilling before.

For safety sake, go with people that currently ride downhill. For the most part, DH people are very friendly and always love to show the trails and techniques to newbies. Besides, going with people means someone has your back. If you get injured or have a mechanical, you can rely on them to help you out.

Having a group setting also helps you develop great bike handling skills. What I’ve learned is that everyone has a different way of riding. For me, I like to get other rider’s opinions about the best line to take. During the recent race series, I spent time with my team mates, Wes, Art and Corey on choosing the best lines. I had previously rode the course one way, but after consulting the guys, they all pointed out quicker and safer ways down the mountain. The input you’ll get from other people is uber worthwile and can eventually help you become a better rider.

Ride more, even if its XC or just on the street.

This one I can’t stress it enough. Getting your cardio level up and your bike handling skills honed will make a huge difference in how you ride downhill. Believe it or not, but DH riding is EXHAUSTING! You actually use quite a bit of energy riding down the mountain. Plus in some cases, you have to hike your bike up before you go down. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you show up to the mountain with the best equipment, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be good at downhill. There’s some value to riding XC and learning how to handle your bike properly and getting into riding shape will do wonders to your DH experience.

Here’s a prime example of a first time DH rider. You may have seen this video before, but I’m going to show it again. Randy has NEVER been downhilling. He’s showed interest in it and when he had the opportunity to join me at Southridge he jumped on it. Though the video shows him doing well, I have to let you know that he did crash a few times before we shot the video. But he had a blast riding.

RL and Randy @ Fontana from RL Policar on Vimeo.

What are you doing sitting there reading this? Go out there and try downhill NOW!

Platform Pedals or SPD?

The race team has a mix of riders who like to be clipped in with some sort of SPD style pedal as well as the guys who use platform pedals.

Here’s Team Racer Corey Pond using SPD pedals.
corey clipped

Team Racer, Joe Solancho using flat pedals.
joe clipped

So the question is, which is better? SPD or Platform?

Personally I’ve tried both. When I first started downhill mountain biking, I used flat pedals and I found that I didn’t have full control of the bike. I assume that I’ve grown accustomed to using my cleats to pull of on the bike when needed (make sense?) I also didn’t like how my feet would come off the pedals if I hit a bump. But the benefit of having platform pedals was getting your foot in and out quicker. It’s useful when you’re trying to prevent a crash or need your foot to catch you if you wash out.

Oh You Fancy Huh-Race Report, Shimano Winter Series 2011 #2

On Sunday the Downhill Dept. of the MtnBikeRiders.com Race Team participated in race #2 of the Shimano Winter Series in the beautiful city of Fontana, Ca.

For some reason I felt fancy this weekend. Rather than sporting my 2011 jersey that looks pretty fly, I opted for my one of a kind MtnBikeRiders.com Tuxedo Jersey.

Wes, RL and Joe (Corey was on the mountain practicing already-that kid is FAST!)

After 4 practice runs, I was race ready on Sunday. I didn’t particularly like this course due to the lack of flow. There were a ton of blown out turns/berms and it was pretty sandy in some sections. Then again, I really shouldn’t be complaining because we’re lucky enough to have a venue to race DH. For me it only a 40 minute drive, others come all the way from Arizona just to race!

I have to note that this weekend was SUPER windy. Fontana had wind gusts that were clocked between 50-60mph! In fact, you can see the wind mess with people since it would blow some riders down.

As usual, they line us up at the top by class and age. One at a time they release us from the gate. Though I am a very competitive guy, I make sure I wish all the other riders in my group the best of luck and to stay safe. For some reason it actually makes me feel better and helps lessen my anxiety level. Cuz’ I ain’t going to lie, I still get nervous when I race.

Donny Jackson, counts me down; 5,4,3,2,1! I take off with ease. The first half of this course is very similar to a path we’ve ridden in the past. I was feeling very confident in my riding as I traverse down the mountain.

By the way, I’m riding the Airborne Taka again. I’m really digging this bike! It performed flawlessly!

When I reach the dreaded wall, which happens to be a 1000ft sprint, I’m almost toast! But I still had a bit left in my legs and I stood up to mash on the pedals for as long as I can and pedaled until I couldn’t give any more.
Photo courtesy of Cleghorn Photography.

With all that racing and fun that I was having, somehow I managed a 5th place! I was pretty stoked about my results because I’m riding against some really fast guys. 5th place earns me a spot next to the podium and a pretty medal.
Photo courtesy of Monique Spaulding.

Here I am with my tux…in downhill mountain biking, its all about looking good…

I’d like to take this time to thank all of our sponsors: Evomo, Ergon, VIP Energy Mix, Dirty Dog MTB, Serfas, and Ice Toolz. But I’d also like to thanks the guys at Airborne Bicycles. They’ve allowed me to use the Taka beyond our testing time period so I could race with it.

Tacklin’ Downhill with the Taka

Sunday was the start of the Shimano Winter Series, put on by the Southridge Racing Company here in SoCal. This series includes, XC, Super D, 4X and DH. This is my second year competing as a beginner downhill racer, but it was my first time racing with the Airborne Taka. If you recall, Art Aguilar, raced the Taka and took 1st place with it.

There was 19 of us in my category. Technically 20, but 1 was a DNF. I actually did better than I expected. I usually have 2 goals when racing DH, 1 is to catch the guy in front of me, and 2 is to not be caught by the guy behind me. I was able to accomplish both. Oh and the best part, I didn’t crash on my race run!

So as we lined up to race, I look around in my field, and notice guys riding super expensive bikes that probably cost more than my car. I saw one guy in a Giant Glory, another in a Specialized Demo, and some other dude with a Kona Stinky. My mind plays tricks on me because it makes me think that the expensive bikes and pretty jerseys with carbon helmets will make them faster than me.

Then it was my turn on the gate,I sat waiting to be counted down, I get into my zone and take a few deep breaths. Then I hear, 5, 4,3,2,1. I start pedaling hard!
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I make my way through the course, take a few drops, a couple rock gardens, then I see the guy who was released from the gate 30 seconds ahead of me. I yell to him, “Rider UP!” He pulls over and lets me pass, but he slowed me down because he was on the path that I needed to take…ARGH!  I make it to a few more drops,and head to the last rock garden. After that section is a long flat sprint that they call the WALL. I get off the saddle and spin as hard as I can. I cross the finish line exhausted.
rl and taka

I placed 6th our of 19. Not bad considering I hadn’t trained for the race. But the Taka performed without any hick-ups. I really love the geometry, handling and “flickable” characteristics of the bike. It’s light enough where you can man handle it, yet its burly enough to handle the big stuff. I’m very impressed with the Airborne Taka.

src 2011

First Time Doing Downhill

My daredevil brother, Randy was in town this weekend. I had offered to take him out downhilling because he’s never tried it before. I figured, he’d do just fine since he jumps out of perfectly working airplanes at 13,000 feet…for a living!

So we drove out to Southridge in Fontana, Ca. and rode the same course that was used at the last race. We decided to take a few photos and shoot some video to document his first time riding DH.

Considering that this was Randy’s first time on a DH course, he did pretty well. Though he had a few crashes, he still got up and kept riding.
fontana dh with Randy and RL

I equipped Randy with the KHS Lucky 7.
fontana dh with Randy and RL

I rode the Airborne TAKA. Though I had used the bike to do some practice sessions in the past, this was my first time that I was able to give it a good shake down. I gotta say, I LOVE IT!
fontana dh with Randy and RL

fontana dh with Randy and RL

Check out the video:

RL and Randy @ Fontana from RL Policar on Vimeo.

Dear Full Face Mountain Bike Helmet Maker…

To whom it may concern,

I would like to express my concerns that full face helmets do not offer enough ventilation when it comes to breathing through my mouth. I have used several helmets and they only offer small vents on the mouth/chin guard.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever ridden or raced downhill, but nothing sucks more than to…uh suck in your own breath.

If you’re not certain on what it is I’m envisioning, I’ve attached a photo as an example.

Check out this helmet, it has ample vents on the mouth/chin guard, and it has a hydration system built in…now that’s awesome!

Please quickly design this helmet…oh and can you throw in a salsa dispenser and chip bowl on there too?

Thank you,

RL Policar
BAD ASS Mountain Biker and Super Cool Downhill RACER!

Priscilla’s first time downhill mountain biking

After months of persuasion, Priscilla agreed to try DH with me. She was never a big fan of the technical aspect of this genre of riding, but since she’s super cool and a kick butt rider, she figured it was worth a shot.

Since she’s never done DH before, the protective equipment we had for her was pretty limited. We had to borrow Moe’s chest protector and Priscilla used the POC Cortex DH helmet. We did have some knee and elbow pads, but even those were a bit big. I told her that if she likes DH, then we’ll definitely invest in better gear for her.

So our morning started off with my packing up the van and loading up the bikes. She was going to ride the Ibex Ignition that I used to win the Shimano Winter Series. This time I was riding a stock KHS XCT 555 (stock except for the ghetto tubeless conversion).

We arrived at Fontucky and began to suit up, we hiked up the mountain and proceeded to go down one of the many courses we’ve raced before. Though Priscilla felt scared at times, she rode through the trail with confidence. I have to say I’m very proud of her and you can see in the video that she has some major potential. So this leads us to the question, “Will she ride DH again?” The answer is YES. I better start saving up for some gear for her! But let me clarify, she would do it again, but not race DH. I didn’t care if she raced or not, I was just glad to see her doing DH.

Shimano Winter Series: RL’s Downhill Report-The Finals

All week Weather Forecasters were predicting that Sunday would bring rain to Southern California. But as you know weather people are always wrong at least half of the time. I got up around 5 am to get the trailer ready to head out to Fontana to do some practice runs. Fellow team mate, David Sanderson agreed to go with me and take in a few practice runs.

As I drove on the freeway, rain started to come down. In various parts it would sprinkle then a mile later a big down pour. However, when I got to the venue, the place was still dry. As soon as I was done setting up base camp, rain had arrived with David.

We suited up and got on the shuttle van only to be greeted with a pouring rain. The van was full of racers and we all talked about how nasty the trail will be. I sat in the middle row and as the van pulled up to the top of the mountain, one at a time, the racers placed their helmets on their heads then quickly exited the van. The whole scene reminded me of some sort of action movie where the Commandos are being told to get out of the plane/truck and head into battle.

David and I lined up at the gate and the rain was hitting harder than ever. The wind was blowing at pretty good rate as well. The race course was far different from the dry and loose sandy conditions from the day before. Now it was a slippery mess and when you combine that with big rocks and boulders, its a Molotov cocktail for disaster.

David started before I did and I gave him at least a 5 second start. When it was my turn, I maneuvered through the course like an old lady on a Sunday stroll on her walker. I made sure I took my time to remember the proper lines, and taking extra precaution to be careful not to do anything that would cause injury. I don’t know about David, but I was slipping and sliding the whole time. I made it down to the bottom of the course, passed the finished line. We headed back to camp to wait for the rest of the team. As soon as Joe, Kim and Tony arrived, we jumped on the next shuttle to do another run. This time the rain had stopped a bit and the course was more tacky than muddy.

Races started at 10:30 am sharp. However, my category was the last group to go and that meant we had about a 2 hour wait before we had to line up. Around 11:30am, we loaded up on the last shuttle run for the day and made our way to the top where staging was occurring.

I saw off the rest of the team before having to line up. My only competition was Dustin, whom I had previously beat. Johnny D of KHS decided to retire from racing and focus on photography.

I forgot to mention, since this was the finals, I decided to have a bit more fun and wear my pajamas for the race. I orginally wanted to get a suit, you know, an old tux from the 70’s..but didn’t have enough time to do so.

I line up, and off I went. It’s really funny, during practice times, I have such a hard time with a course, but when it comes down to the race it self, I do a bit better. I nailed every turn and only put my foot down on one turn because I slipped. I am on my down to the last part of the mountain and as I turn the corner, I see a rider down, It was Traci Adams (Kim’s competition).
Photo courtesy of DALE RH


I slowed down and even wanted to stop to make sure she was ok(its the Dad in me). I asked her if she needed help, she declined and said she was ok. That’s when I let go of the brakes and finish the rest of my race.
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By the time I hit the wall, my legs were on fire. I sat down a few times and as soon as the burning went away, I stood up again to pedal hard. Eventually I even caught a glimpse of Kim who was just crossing the finish line. I pedaled as hard as I could…dead legs don’t move all that fast. I cross the finish with PJs and all! Woohoo!

Dustin Hampton came in really fast, which meant I took 2nd this time. However, since I raced 5 out of the 6 events, I took home the overall champion award. I have never ever raced DH in my life. I had always talked about wanting to try DH, but never had a bike to do it with. What’s funny about this whole experience is the fact that I basically raced with an XC bike made by Ibex Bikes. The Ignition was close to an AM bike as you can get. The rear had about 4.5 inches of travel and the front about 5″. Joe let me borrow his Marzocchi fork which gave me a total of 6″ in the front to help absorb some of the crazy drops we experienced.

Some have told me that I may have done better on a longer travel bike. But if anyone knows me at all, I like to do with what I have. Besides I wasn’t willing to spend a grip of money on a DH bike…I have 3 kids that need my cash on a 24hour basis! Anyhow, I was rockin’ the Ibex through out the series and I have to tell you, this bike is one strong rig! I did have 3 problems that occurred through out the months of sessioning and racing. 1, the rear XC wheel came loose. On one training DH ride, the axle nuts came loose. It was quickly fixed with a set of cone wrenches. 2, rear triangle pivots came a bit loose from the same training ride. That was remedied by tightening them. 3, severe chain suck. On Saturday’s practice run, I hit a rock garden that bounced my chain off the middle ring, passed the granny and was wedged between the bottom bracket and the swing arm. I fixed that with an MRP chain guide the same evening. But overall, the bike lasted through months of abuse and this XC bike probably has seen more rough terrain than it was intended to.

I would like thank our awesome sponsors for supporting us throughout the races, Hoss MTB, Ergon USA, Evomo Clothing and BikeCommuters.com

Sette Impact Protective Suit

A few days ago I mentioned the Sette Impact Protective Suit that was available through PricePoint.com for $79. Well after talking to our friends at Pricepoint.com, they went ahead and sent me the suit to review. Now that I’ll be doing more DH riding, this suit will come in handy.

I got some photos of how this thing actually looks. The website does a pretty good job on the description and photo, but this is how it is when its worn.

Front view:

Here’s the description:

High Speed Protection

The Sette Impact Protective Suit w/ Zip-Off Sleeves was constructed using an open mesh design that is intended to give a rider superior comfort and mobility. The vented high density foam under layer provides protection, and maintains ventilation, while a removable articulated spine protector, with multi strap kidney belt keeps everything tight and secure. Extra protection is gained with strategically placed, shoulder cups and chest plates that are injection molded for extra durability. Removable arm guards with elbow and forearm protectors, make this one of the most versatile DH/Freeride protection suits on the market.

Check out my spine protection:

Our MtnBikeRiders.com Jersey actually l fits really well over it. I wear an XL for the jersey an still had room to move even with the suit underneath.

For other Protective Products, visit Pricepoint.com.