Kermit just got himself a little re-fit. Since my registration to the Darkhorse 40, I feel as if I should really make an effort on my singlespeeding skills.
I took off the old school M953 XTR cranks with Spot 35t chainring and installed a tres moderne Race Face Dues (purple of course) crank with a Rotor chainring. The rear Boone Ti cog remains for my more climby rides on Perry Hill, the ratio is 33-21. Kermie feels a little slower on pavement, but I think that it will be a better on trail.
You’ll also note that big white squishy thing on the front of the bike. That is a Fox fork that one of my customers decided he didn’t have a use for anymore. My single biggest gripe with the Fox RLC damper, is that it takes a while to figure out the perfect setting. I made some notes when I had my last one, and I’m pretty close to having it dialed in already.
My idea is to ride Kermit as a “training” bike. Or, to put it more succinctly, “train” on a “heavy” familiar bike before racing on a lighter familiar bike. It’s the Kermit/Furley double feature. So the next month, I will be making a concerted effort to keep it single until after the 40.
I got my first and most likely only road ride in on Sunday. In drunken Saturday BBQ bravado, a bunch of us decided we were going to tackle Smuggler’s Notch. In order for the ride to run in the time allowed we did it as an out and back.
Our ride took us through Stowe, and up past the ski resort and up into the Notch, which is one of the prettiest parts of the state. Unfortunately, it is also a bit of a tourist trap, and we were on the road with about a 1000 Harleys, and expensive German SUVs. We also saw a few other cyclists who were out enjoying the scenery.
No, not that stupid 70s Charlton Heston disaster movie, but an actual one. Here in VT, we don’t have cool stuff like volcanos etc, but every once in a while we do get a a tremor. I think the last one was maybe 5 or so years ago, and it wasn’t very big. This one was a 5. It was enough to rattle the bikes in the stands, but I just chalked it up to either my upstairs neighbor being his usual loud self or a big dump truck driving past the shop. Both of those things are more likely to happen than an earthquake.
Fun AND excitement.
Speaking of fun and excitement, I have decided to do the Darkhorse 40. I had such a good time at SSAP that I want to ride those trails again, and the 40 seems like a good enough reason to make the drive. The question is, do I ride the singlespeed or the Jet? Decisions decisions. I’m leaning towards the singlespeed at the moment, but man those trails would be fun on a squishy bike!
Well after a few rides on the new new and much improved Niner Jet 9, I think I can safely say that the bike is everything that it’s made out to be. And then some.
I’ve already touched on the new construction of the frame, new hydroformed tubing and tapered steerer tube make up the front triangle, and new box sectioned stays and hydroformed brace make up the rear swingarm. It looks beefy, and it is plenty stiff for a bike that is aimed at the XC set.
The suspension design is the same as the previous model, a proven and very efficient suspension platform. Niner’s proprietary CVA suspension can be found on all three of their full squish bikes. CVA does a very good job of isolation pedaling forces from the suspension, allowing the rear wheel to soak up the bumps without any feedback into the pedals. In doing so, it also eliminates all but the heaviest of pedal strokes from the suspension, allowing each pedal stroke to propel you forward instead of forcing the suspension to bob. I’m a big fan of this design.
What does this mean when the rubber hits the dirt? The new stiffer frame coupled with the CVA suspension gives you a ride that you immediately “get”. Get on the pedals and get rewarded with snappy acceleration. The stiff frame tracks very well, it’s unflinching in off camber and rooty climbs, and stays pointed where you want to go on bombed out braking bump descents.
I found at the Pinnacle Race just how stiff the frame actually is on one of the climbs, my front wheel slipped out on a wet root and sent the whole bike sideways, only to be wrenched back in the opposite direction when the rear wheel slipped the other way on the same root. I hate wet roots, but was actually impressed at how the frame took the force. There was no discernible wind up between the front and rear triangle.
Over the last few rides, I have started messing with the rear suspension set up a bit, and have pretty much found that I like to run the Fox RP23 in the “wide open” setting. The ride is plush and smooth, and I feel that even climbing out of the saddle doesn’t necessarily require the Pro Pedal feature. Having spent most of the year on a single speed, my pedal strokes have gotten quite ugly and square. The efficiency of the suspension is simply that good. On long climbs though I do set the Pro Pedal to 1, especially if I am trying to get somewhere fast.
My bike is built with the full XX kit. It is amazing group, and I know a lot of people will be very excited about it once the less expensive X), X9 and X7 groups are available. The shifting is immediate, and I find the gear ratios to be very user friendly. I’ve said in a previous post that I tend to stick in a gear that is very close to my singlespeeed gearing, and in doing so, I pretty much ride it like I would ride my One 9. I certainly don’t feel as if I’m robbed of power on short punchy uphill grunts when I leave it in my “gear”, and if it is going to be an extended techy climb, I’ll pop the chain down to the small ring up front and spin away.
It’s pretty liberating having only 2 chainrings up front and full access to the 10 cogs in the back.
But back to the bike itself. Who should own one of these? Anyone looking for that XC feel but needs a bike for every occasion. It is certainly capable of a lot more than it’s predecessor. As we’ve seen in the shop, they are building up between 23.5 and 27 lbs fully equipped.
The first batch of the replacement frames have come and gone, and are being ridden and enjoyed by their owners. I have a rather large batch out of the production run that I’m offering a killer deal on. Frame and Reba XX tapered steerer tube fork $2199 (includes an FSA headset). Plus, as an added bonus, I’ll be offering a special discount of any complete Jet 9 we build.
Give me a call at the shop for more details, or drop me an email. You will not be disappointed.
Happy Summer! I spent most of the “longest day” in the shop, but I did get a quality ride in with a couple of friends in before spending what is most likely to be, the most perfect weather Vermonters could ever expect, INSIDE. Oh well…
After cleansing the RIP from the weekend’s hoo haw and bathing the chain in ProLink lube, I had a pretty awesome ride with a couple of buddies first thing on Monday morning. We have an ongoing unassuming ride called the “Fat Guy’s Ride” that meets at the Perry Hill trail parking lot at 7:45 every Monday. We are generally 2-5 strong, but would love to get more riders. It isn’t about being fast. It isn’t about having the raddest bike (sorry, I already have the raddest bike). It’s about getting out there and riding. We ride for about an hour before peeling off and going to our respective jobs and or breakfast burritos.
Wow, what a crappy week last week was. I’m still not sure on how this will all shake out in the long run, but I am positive that it will all work out for the better in the end. Life without change is boring anyway.
The weekend was actually pretty awesome. I had a quiet but good day in the shop, and B29 Team Rider Emily Brock asked me to break in her new front wheel for her. How could I say no? I had ridden in on Saturday, so I swapped out my crazy colored front wheel for the all black I9/Crest/Aerolite wheel. While mounting the tire, I had my first Stan’s bath in almost 5 years. I blew the tire right of the rim and was soaked in sealant. I finally did get the tire to go back on, and then proceeded to not be very nice to it on the way home. I hit every pot hole, rode into the edge of where the tarmac meets the shoulder on the roads, and even took the wheel on a beer run. It should be OK for this crazy Trans Georgia ride she’s doing this weekend.
On Sunday, all the dads got together for a ride up in the Kingdom. It was a beautiful day. We got to the parking lot in full sunshine, and nine of us headed up Darling Hill. Well, when we got to the top, it decided that it was going to rain. And rain it did. And thunder. And lightning. It got to the point where we decided that getting off out aluminum steeds was probably a good idea, and so we stood around under some trees. There was no way we were going to get to actual shelter without getting stuck by lightning, so we waited the storm out.
It did eventually let up, and we continued to ride. Hell, we were already there, so we rode . Some of the trails had puddles that were hub deep, and one trail was a raging torrent of runoff. It was crazy. Needless to say, there were no pictures taken during the ride, but Jonsie did have the helmet cam on when we bombed down Kitchell. Hopefully it comes out, it was so much fun charging down that trail.
Once I got home, there was much clean up to do, my bike and all my gear was absolutely disgusting. While the rain didn’t make for awesome bike riding conditions, it did make for a great experience with good friends. It was a much needed re-charge, and I’m feeling like bikes are becoming fun again.
So, I was all ready to get on my bike, ride the snot out of it, and get back to you on how awesome I rode the snot out of my bike. Then, the laundry fairy came, and I had to fold a shit-ton of laundry (7% of it mine), which put me at opening time for the shop.
While I was turning on the lights and getting everything ready for business, the big brown clown came, unexpectedly early. I got a letter. A UPS letter?
The nuts and bolts of it are, that Fisher is going the way of Lemond and Klein, with all sorts of language that corporate d-bags came up with. The short story: small time Fisher dealers are screwed. See, the Fisher brand will now be a “collection” within the Trek brand. But if you are not a Trek dealer, then you will not be able to get the “Gary Fisher Edition Treks” to sell. So sorry.
OK, so hopefully no one watched the whole Neil Diamond video. It is still stuck in my head. I’m going to go for a quick ride before work with the headphones on with a healthy dose of MAIDEN to try and purge the Neil from my internal ipod. I’ve got a killer playlist for this sort of thing.
So we have been pretty busy in the shop building some sweet new rides for people. I’ve got more coming, I’ll post them up too.
In other exciting news, the Vermont Mountainbike Festival is happening on July 17th and 18th right here in Waterbury. Registration is open, and it is guaranteed to be a good time. Mike from Niner will be here with a slew of demo bikes, so if you are still on the fence about this whole big wheel thing, this will be a good opportunity to really see what it is about. There has also been some smack talk about a “hill climb”, I will let you know about that a little later.
Let’s just say I am definitely not getting faster, despite looking fast when we all took off at the EFTA Pinnacle race on Sunday.
A bunch of the B29 crew were present to “bring the noise” as it were, to Newport NH. It’s a fairly unassuming little town in a scenic valley. Nat, JayPro, E-Dog, Matthew Owens (aka Turbo) and myself were there for 3 laps. The weather was less than awesome. It was that nice gloomy New England mountain mist, the air was heavy and wet. I got there a little too late to do a full practice lap, which I wish I had gotten in. E-Dog and I headed out for a little bit just to warm the legs up.
Our brief look at the trails showed that the trails themselves were actually almost perfectly tacky, but we’d be into a slick root festival. At start time, it actually started drizzling. I’m sort of over racing my bike in the rain, but I hoped that I wouldn’t be out there for any more than 2.5hrs. I can suck it up.
The course itself was amazing and fun. In dry conditions it would have been really fast. Lots of singletrack, minimal doubletrack, and you were either climbing or bombing downhill. The climbing sections were root strewn tight singletrack, that caused quite a bit of packing up on the trail. As one spun out, anyone in proximity would be forced off their bike. With little opportunity to pass, it was pretty frustrating, but you just gotta back off and give folks room so you can have a better chance at riding the course than running it.
The bike performed flawlessly, it was the pilot that was the issue in the long run. Nat and I got a good position out of the start. My legs felt good, bike was set up right, and we were slowly crawling past people having trouble on the climby rooty sections. On lap 1 I paid my first visit to the ground when a bridge decided to change direction one me like one of those Harry Potter staircases. I teetered on the edge of a big flat rock, then fell of my bike, but managed to land on my feet.
Once I finally got back on my bike, I’d been passed by a few folks, including Nat, who was in fine form. I was only 3 behind him until I got wadded up behind someone who kept forgetting the roots were wet, and kept sliding out right in front of me. Then there was some douche that actually hit me while trying to pass me on a technical singletrack downhill. Fortunately, I was the victor here, he bounced off my rear tire and flew into the woods in a cloud of expletives. Seriously? I can’t understand the mentality of some people, the guy in front of me was clipping saplings and generally flailing all over the place, passing him would have been preferable, but there was no place to safely do it. People need to chill out in the singletrack, hang back, and wait for your time.
I was beginning to get a little flummoxed at this point, as I saw that there was not much opportunity to do well at this point. It was then, that my mental ipod betrayed me, and had one song on constant repeat.
I tried rebooting with Maiden, but it simply wouldn’t take. ARRGHHH!
I finished my lap, and got stuck into my second, some much appreciated war whooping from Turbo’s dad and a well instructed hazard notice got my spirits back up and in the game. I was beginning to pass some people on the climbs again, there was room, and I was feeling good.
I passed the Harry Potter bridge, and shortly thereafter I probably took one of my biggest crashes since SSAZ/USA. My front wheel skidded off a wet rock and into a place where it stopped rolling, and over the bars I went. It was big and fast, but in the moment it seemed to take forever. I spotted every rock on my landing on my way off the bike – the way that The Terminator can spot and sort all sorts of information about targets before acting etc, and had the presence of mind to begin my roll. Since I was landing in water and rocks, I tried to brace my impact with a solid atomic push-up. I had a good landing with my hands, but slipped off and crumpled in a heap under my bike. I was sitting in about 6″ of water, under my bike and my right leg had cramped into an L shape and it wasn’t really interested in moving.
What probably didn’t help my pride were the people that witnessed such a terrible event. I heard “DUDE! ARE YOU OK!??” and “OH MY GOD!!!!!” and other such comments that made me think I was really in trouble. I slowly untangled myself and got to my feet, preliminary damage reports told me I was OK: freaked out, muddy, wet, but otherwise unscathed. In a brief flash, I thought “I wish I had my camera, so I could take a Thom Parsons picture”… that one would have been good had I a waterproof camera with me.
I got back on the bike, but I lost maybe 5 or 6 places. I wasn’t functioning as well as I was earlier in the day. My back was beginning to cramp up, and that stupid song came back in my head and I was coming to the realization that I wasn’t going to finish the race. I decided that I was done during the climb up to the tippy top of the course, at which point I just sort of hung back and coasted back. I could feel my back tighten up some more, so I went a little faster so I could be done.
I took my DNF, sat on the sidelines and tried to stretch my back out. I went back to the car to get changed after I saw E-Dog go past.
After the race, I found out that Nat had augured into the ground with his face, the point at which Matthew’s dad had warned me about. He was very banged up, but had finished the race. JayPro got 3rd in his heat, and Matthew Owens came second in his. E-Dog finished as well, although he told me that if he had seen me cheering for him on the sidelines, he would have been done too.
I had a good time despite not finishing. I could have done another lap, but it would have been costly to me. Long ago I resigned myself to the fact that I am past the need to push myself in that way. I have to work. I have a family. If I ruin myself for 1 race, it will affect the rest of my season, and I’d much rather ride than “win” sport class. I fully support the notion of racing though, unless you are one of those D-Bags that run into people while trying to pass on singletrack. It’s good, and crashing aside, I can think of nothing else that I would have rather been doing.
I also got to see some great folks I don’t see that often, Racin’ Rick and blog superstar Thom Parsons. I like to think that I’ll be back next year.
Jet report to follow this week. It was a fun ride while it lasted.
I guess we’ll find out this weekend what is happening exactly. I’m hesitant to think that I’m getting faster, so it must be that everyone else is getting slower.
I chose to ride Pale Horsie at the Wednesday night race at Catamount. I ride in the 3 lap race. The course was the Hill Side, which is pretty climby, some tight singletrack switch backs, and a lot of wide open grassy sections. I have gotten the set up on the bike pretty much dialed in at this point, it’s feeling good, and boy do I love that XX group.
I had a pretty good race, good enough for 1st place in my age group, 3rd overall (behind 2 13 year olds). The next fastest person was 45 seconds behind me. That is a pretty big gap. I’m certainly not feeling as if I’m some sort of rocket, so it must be that everyone else is not trying hard enough.
Well, this Sunday, there is a race that a lot of my friends will be going to. You know, the serious ones. The ones that actually are fast, the ones that train, and lead healthier lifestyles than mine. It’s the Pinnacle race in Newport NH. It’s only about an hour and a half drive, and there is nothing else really going on.
I’m a little conflicted as to which bike I should race on. I’m leaning towards Horsie, because at the very least, it is a fun bike to ride. If I’m going to get my ass kicked, I may as well have fun. But then there is Mr Furley. That’s a fun bike too, and I’m certainly capable of having a good time on that bike as well. This may come down to a game time decision for me.
Come back Monday for my decision, which may even include a race report. Have a great weekend!