Friday, June 30, 2006

2007 Fox Fork

The past few years I have had problems with my Fox forks. This winter I had enough and was lurred in by the light weight of the SID Team. It didn't take too many rides before I realized that was a mistake, it was very flexy for my 175lbs. and felt like I was riding a flat front tire all the time.
Now that I am back on a Fox I feel more like home. There is a lot of new features for 2007 starting with the look. When I pulled the fork out of the box it looked like a downhill fork compared to my SID. The 32mm santions haven't changed but the lower legs have a new look and are even stiffer than before...I know I didn't think it was possible either. I have only rode the fork for a week now but have had some solid rides in there and am happy to report all the problems with leaky seals appear to be gone. There are some internal changes as well but I haven't tore into the fork to notice any of that yet. One really nice feature is an adjustable lockout threshold. This isn't intended to replace or act like the FX series, but if you have the fork locked out and hit a big hole the fork will break loose and absorb the bump before locking out again.

So how does it ride? Well I opted for the 100mm instead of the 80mm. They are with in a few ounces of each other and the 100mm can be de-stroked to 80mm if need be. My first ride with the longer travel the bike did feel a little slower in the corners. I measured the new head angle the next day and found that it had only changed by like .5 degrees, so I think the feeling was in my head. I really like the extra travel, it is a softer ride and totally soaks up everything on the trail. I raced on it last weekend and the fork handled increadably. The stiffer fork handled sooo much better in the tight single track of Altera and the longer travel really was nice on the down hills.
As much as I would like to say this fork will make you faster, it won't. But it will keep you fresh and in control, which in the end will allow you to go faster, read into that as you like.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Busy Summer

That has been the word of this month! So the last thing I posted was the Wisconsin State Road race. The next weekend we skipped Kewannee and headed down to Chicago for a the weekend to celebrate our 2nd year aniversary. It was fun getting away and site seeing. We have been down there a few times but never just to kill time and look around.
Then last weekend my sister came down so Cathy and her dropped me off at Crystal Ridge and then they went off shopping. I entered the 3 hour race to get the legs moving again after a few weeks off. Things started out really well getting the hole shot and leading into the single track. Then I rolled my tire off the rim, instant flat. I started walking hoping someone would have a pump. ure enough the 5th from last guy had something. I started pumping like crazy and finally got my tire up to pressure. I was feeling really good so I just focused on making up as many spots as I could. I knew it would be hard to caught Jesse, but I didn't see any reason I couldn't at least finish second. At the 4th lap and just over 2 hours in I got around the second man, putting only Jesse ahead of me. I could tell I wasn't caughting him as I would see him in the same spot every lap. I pushed hard just to get a solid 5th lap in and rolled in about 4 minutes after the win.
This weekend we are headed up to Eau Claire for WORS #5. My goal this year was to stay in the top 20, after skipping the last race I dropped to 21st...BUMMER! It is a fast course and I really need to push some big gears to get back to my goals.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Am I getting Soft?

So this weekend we were scheduled to race the 12 hours at Muir. The park rangers have no problem closing the trails if there is so much as a forecast of rain. Well about 2am the rain started. It was still, raining when we got up to get everything loaded, I called Chris who was at the parking lot already and he said the race was on rain or shine! We called around and everyone kinda decided they didn't want to slop it out all day. So we threw in the towel before we even got started. Cathy and I were only about 5 minutes out of town so we turned around and went home. I really wanted to race so we decided to hit the Wisconsin State Road Championships later that afternoon. We went home and crashed for about 1.5 hours then got up and loaded the road bike.
The coarse was tough but still fast, which made for an all around hard race. The start/finish line was about 100 yrds. from the top of a substantial hill. From the start line was a few rollers, then we turned into a few more rollers. Then just around the 3rd corner there were another set of rollers all leading to a FAST down hill, I was gliding at about 45mph!
Cory, Jason, Bill, and I all talked strategy, as much as a bunch of mt.bikers know, and the general consensus was to just hammer and see what happens...sounds like mt.bikers!! I wanted to keep things together so that I could attack on the 4th climb. I took a few pulls longer than I wanted too and chased a few breaks down more than I wanted also. I still attacked on the 4th climb and got a good gap with one other guy. We stayed off for about 1/2 a lap before he sat up and we got pulled in. I knew at this point it was going to be a pack sprint, which I am not good at, so I decided to get a good hard workout leading to that. I got out front a few more times and took a few hard pulls. I came into the final corner in a good spot. The last hill felt really hurt but I maintained a decent spot over the top and rolled in 15th of 70 guys.
The race didn't seem that hard or that long but on the way home we were all just toasted! I think the medium short laps took my mind off the pace and the effort...good for a training ride, but not good strategy. Oh well it turned out to be a beautiful day so I am glad we did the race.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hard Recovery

To my surprise the rain yesterday wasn't enough to pursued the park rangers to close Kettle. Cory and Holly picked me up from work and we met up with Chris in the parking lot. Cory wanted to go hard because he didn't get to race this weekend, Chris wanted to go hard to show he had been riding this spring, and I wanted to just hang on for dear life with my legs still a little sore from this weekend.
We took off and the trails were surprisingly not muddy. Because of all the humidity though the rocks had a nice layer of wetness on them. This didn't seem to affect Cory however, he got out front and was just flying! His Tubeless CrossMarks were just hooking up like crazy! I was doing everything I could to keep him in site. My legs responded better than I expected to the hard efforts. I even got out front and was able to open a small gap a time or two.
Overall it was a really good ride I think my legs are recovered from this weekend and today will feel good to let them just sit. Everyone is riding strong and it should be a fun race this weekend.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Wausau WORS #3

Just finishing yesterday was a victory in itself. Only 45 of the nearly 70 Expert men actually crossed the finish line! After a less than impressive finish at Alpine I was hardly hanging on to the top 20. I lined up with a clear shot start to avoid getting piled up last two weeks ago. The start was, like normal, dusty and FAST! It was a little touchy mostly because nobody could see where they were going but we all managed to keep it rubber side down. I made a good move to the inside going into the single track where the race really started. I was feeling really good and the bike was working perfect all first lap. On the start of the second lap we hit some new single track that was super rough. I took a spill in a rock garden which twisted my handle bars. I jumped up and didn't have time to think about it as I was leading about 5-6 guys through. The rest of that lap was tough learning how to ride with crooked bars. By lap 3 just about everyone was having mechanicals, mostly flat tires. I got a little nervous but had confidence in my CrossMarks set up with Stan's sealant. My 3rd lap was the toughest. I got dropped from the pack I was hanging onto and was having to solo on the roads, not allowing for any recovery. I figured I better get as much fuel in me as I could in order to have something left for the 4th lap. That worked, as I lapped around onto the final lap I grabbed my Gatorade and started to feel a lot better. I was more alive in the single track and the rocky climb didn't feel so bad. Coming out of the final single track Carlos Haeckel got around me. I sat on his wheel and planned when and how to get back around him. We splashed through the last mudhole side by side and then full on sprinted to the final single track. I grabbed all the brakes I could and was able to drive inside, he was on my wheel through that entire section and I was making sure I would have enough jump for the quick final sprint. We came out about 100 yrds. from the finish and I was able hold him off at the line.
It was a long hard race but I managed to turn my best finish, getting onto the podium for the first time as an Expert!!

Cathy's race was a learning experience of how to survive on a long course. She had a couple mishaps with the ground that left her some pretty good battle wounds and somehow even managed to get a black eye out of the deal. She was really struggling in the single track not because she lacked handling but because all the Comp. men were trying to get around. Anyway she stayed smooth and dealt with traffic good. One section was pretty tough with a bridge right after a turn. Cathy tried to square up for it but with men behind he she had to keep pushing without getting her balance she put her foot down and slipped up falling into ankle deep mudd. She scrapped up her ankle a little but kept going. Later on in the race she went to put her bottle in the cage, she looked down for one second and right then hit some loose gravel. Her front wheel dug in and sent her flying over the bars!! I think that would have been enough for me to call it a day but she got on and kept going!
This ended up being by far her farthest most technical race ever. She is really coming along good and should have some really strong late season races!