Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Les is More

Well, the growing trend to ride big wheeled mountain bikes, has finally found it’s way to pixy. Let me introduce “Les”, my new 29er. Some may say, it’s about time and others may ask why, but here is my story of how Les can be more.

Over the past few years, 29ers have become very popular, particularly for racing, and it makes good sense. The bigger wheel rolls over stuff better than the little wheel eliminating some of the desire for full suspension, while keeping the platform quite efficient. During the early days of 29ers, little sizing was limited, but now many companies offer small sizes, and everyone was telling me to check them out.

What I found out is that most 29ers fit everyone else and not so much me, and then one day I saw that Lynskey was making one very close to my size, and I began to ponder about a possible big wheeled bike for myself, perhaps from Titus, since their bikes fit me well. Last November Titus went bankrupt, which blew the wind out my 29er imagination sails, and I quickly accepted the fact that this was not to happen for a good reason.

Then in January Industry Nine offered me sponsorship, and I knew it was time to re-open the big can of worms and find another custom frame builder to build a frame to accompany the new 29er wheelset. I was not sure if I should go steel or ti. Because the tubes would be small, I thought that ride quality per dollar would be better for steel. Plus I had never had steel and wanted to give it a try. I looked at a bunch of frame builders, but kept going back to Siren. The Siren had an intriguing bent top tube and beautiful curves. It just looked like it was meant for me.

I contacted Brendan, the builder to ask questions because I thought I could get by with a standard small frame. After some discussion, he assured me that I could get all that I was looking for in a custom frame. We came up with an in between medium and small geometry with more stand over height. For those interested, the materials used were as follows:

- Down tube 35mm 858 butted
- Seat tube 28.6mm externally butted
- Top tube single bend, True Temper OX Platinum
- Chainstays S-bend
- Seatstays S-bend
- Dropouts - Paragon windowed sliders w/ titanium hardware

The frame was built very quickly, but the paint process took several months because I had it powder coated at Spectrum Powederworks. The powdercoat job was outstanding, but I had to wait my turn to get that done.

The Ride: After a few weeks of riding all sorts of terrain, one race, and two festivals, where the bike acted like a guy magnet, I am giving this bike a BIG thumbs up. The overall ride is really nice, smooth and very solid with the big wheels. This is my first steel bike and I like the buttery ride. The big wheels DO really roll over stuff with ease, and the rear tire hooks up when climbing, like a goat. I have heard people talk about sluggish handling, but I do not get that impression at all. Last Sunday at Lewis Morris Race I was really appreciative to have a hard tail and the big surprise was that my back did not hurt afterwards from all those roots, like it usually does. I did not have a great day for my legs, but still finished 6th in the pro/open, which is a good.

I would like to send a big thanks to Industry Nine for making an outstanding wheel set that performs as well as it looks, and also for investing in me as a sponsored racer. Without this, I may not have ended up with this type of first 29er experience. I look forward to many more big wheeled rides down the trail.

Next stop ... National Championships in Sun Valley, ID. So now you have it, Les can be more.

Monday, June 20, 2011

BIG Celebration Weekend!


Summer is here, and what better way to celebrate summer than to share your summertime passion to ride a bike with others. This past weekend was jam packed with sharing at the 2011 Jorbafest. Hundreds of volunteers came out to help pull off this wonderful day at Allamuchy. The weather was perfect and mountain bikers of all ages came out to do their thing with others.

6/16/11 : My weekend started early with a Thursday morning ride with my friend Patty at Stephens State Park . This was not just “a ride” but a premier tour of this park I rarely get to ride, and my first major ride on a 29er. Yes, pixy has BIG wheels in a BIG way. What a great ride we had, as I instantly fell in love with the ride of the big wheels and steel frame on the flowing single-track. Stoked from my ride, I jumped right out into the woods again later that afternoon and worked four hours up at Ringwood during Jorba’s Dirty Thursday work session. We worked on the Ringwood/Ramapo re-route. That trail is coming along nicely, and may be open in a few more Thursdays.

6/18/11 : Alarm at the White house had us up at 5:00 and on the road before 6:30. First on the agenda was to build “Pump the magic dragon”, the portable pump track that Art had built that week. The pieces were nested together nicely in the truck with a few bikes and cooler, but would need to be unloaded and put together. All that went well and by 9:00 both Art and I were gathering to lead or sweep a ride.

I was on schedule to lead an advanced women’s ride, and this in itself is amazing that there are enough qualified women to even have this ride. We actually gave the guys a head start, so that we would have the first trail more to ourselves, but we caught up to the guys anyway. My group had a few DH chicks that expressed interest in more technical, and here I was on this strange BIG wheeled hardtail. I was feeling a bit unsure of myself on a new bike, but the BIG wheels kept rolling like a charm. We had an awesome 17 mile ride of about 3 hours, including Lumpy Bumpy and a section of the Highlands Trail. I am proud to say that New Jersey terrain has created some very skilled female riders.

an afternoon of fun....

...for the whole family.

And if Jorbafest was not enough fun, Dar, Tara, Art and I were off to NEMBA festival at Huntington State Park in Ct where Team Campmor was teaching a women's clinic on Sunday. This was Dar's home turf and she has been a BIG supporter of Jorba and we all wanted to help her give back to her home state parks.

Wherever your home trails may be, invest BIG in them and reap BIG smiles of riding down the trail.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Arrives in the Jungle

After dozens of rainy days that have dominated our spring in New Jersey, the sun has finally come back to us and started to heat things up in the Jungle.... Jungle Habitat, that is. A quick little pre loop down lower shute, and I quickly see that the "I dig Tuesday" elves have been very busy. Thanks to Jorba and Team Town Cycle for trail repairs. Torrential rains had washed out many trails this past winter and spring, and it is good to see some love going back into the trails. I noticed that the "umbilical cord" is now a feature, as you must slither and duck to get around it.

The rain has also brought a bumper crop of extremely healthy looking poison ivy. Riders beware! I rode Rhino clockwise and found it to be very enjoyable in that direction. The laurel starting to bloom on that trail are spectacular right now, and giant mushrooms are already starting to form. So, not all the results of heavy rain are seemingly bad.