Category Archives: mountain biking

Singletrack on a ‘Cross Bike

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It can be done.

It should be done.

It does get done.

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DIESEL FUEL RECIPE: Car Brewed Tea

Everyone has likely heard of sun tea, if not sampled the drink. The idea is to put a few tea bags out on a hot sunny day to brew. How many have heard of car tea? Likely none because I think I just invented it today.

Brewing your iced tea in a car can make sense in many circumstances. For example, if one lives in a city and doesn’t have private space, or if one lives in a colder clime and wishes to take advantage of the warming greenhouse effect of car windows.

What does this have to do with endurance sports? I propose iced tea is a wonderful drink to take with you on a ride or run for the following unscientific reasons:

  • it’s mostly water and will hydrate you
  • add honey for simple carbs and quick energy
  • the caffeine can give you energy (and is known to decrease perceived exertion)
  • antioxidants in many teas can help reduce free radicals from training and sun exposure
  • it doesn’t leave that crappy taste in your mouth like some sports drinks (especially if you add something extra refreshing like mint
  • much cheaper than sports drinks
  • So what do you need to make some car tea?

  • glass container that seals (try TJ Max where I got mine for
    $5)
  • water
  • a few tea bags (I prefer green tea)
  • raw local honey, or other sweetener
  • Simply add the tea bags to the water jug and sit in your car for a few hours. You can adjust the temperature by placement of the jug, or rolling down windows. After it’s sufficiently brewed, remove tea bags, stir in honey, and serve over ice cubes in your water bottle.

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    Trek Wahoo 29er Review

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    This is a review of the 2012 model

    In 2011, the Wahoo was only available in 26 inch wheel size. The 2012 model year saw the bike move to the “Gary Fisher” collection within the Trek lineup. In other words, the Gary Fisher name moved one step closer to the likes of Lemond and Klein. Starting in 2012, the bike moved to big wheel format exclusively, and sat at the bottom of the Trek 29 inch wheel lineup.

    My prior bike was an old Trek 6000 I bought via eBay. I would likely have continued to ride the 6000, but the frame was one or two sizes too small. When I looked into a new frame, the price jump to a complete new bike wasn’t that large. In fact, the price jump to a new entry level 29er wasn’t that big either.

    I began to look at entry level 29ers. Although I am used to mid level grade equipment on the road, I figured I would settle for low grade stuff on the trail because I don’t spend that much time on the dirt. Not that I would rather ride the road over dirt, but that’s another story. For some reason, I have an aversion to Specialized. It came down to the Trek vs. Felt. I was in a local shop with another bike for service, and they blew me away with their customer service. They had a nice looking Wahoo on the floor in my size, so
    I decided to take her home.

    frame
    The frame looks like a more expensive frame. The paint and decals are top notch and the frame looks burley.

    wheels/tires
    I love the tires. The tread is circular and not knobby. I think this helps to not only shed mud, but also grip roots and slippery rocks.

    The wheels are single wall. If that makes them weak, I wouldn’t know it, as they are still true even with my 230 pound body and 30 or so miles off road.

    shock
    The weakness of every lower level mountain bike is the front shock. No different here. The Suntour shock has no lockout and isn’t the stiffest under hard braking. But what else would you expect?

    components
    Full Shimano, low level pieces. Again, what do you expect. However, the stuff works just fine if you aren’t mountain biking every weekend.

    One disappointment was that the crank is so cheap, it’s pressed and riveted instead of bolted. I was hoping to convert the bike to 1x, but this would have required a new crank.

    brakes
    Mechanical discs…tough to stop from squeaking. ‘Nuff said.

    overall
    Overall, I would actually recommend this bike to an infrequent user such as myself. I can’t say enough about the ability of the 29 inch wheels to roll over obstacles. Lines aren’t as critical downhill, and little downed trees and rocks don’t slow forward progress when the hills point up. Get a used set of wheels to proactively replace the single wall stock rims, throw on a new saddle and lock on grips, and you have a decent machine.

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    buy it if:

  • you want to dip your toes in the 29er water
  • you aren’t a component snob
  • you don’t have a trust fund
  • don’t buy it if:

  • you like to discuss if Shimano is better than SRAM based on weight of rear derailleur and crispness of shifting.
  • you don’t eat at McDonalds
  • you ride tons of miles and expect components to last
  • you are going to ride on the street–buy a hybrid!
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    DIESEL FUEL RECIPE: Baked Oatmeal

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    Lance, if you are reading this, you can stop now. Baked oatmeal is not some code word used to describe a pharmaceutical concoction that is injected intravenously. Rather, it is a delicious recipe that can be used as a pre-workout meal, post-workout meal, or delicious snack or dessert. Like shrimp and grits, the baked oatmeal is greater than the sum of it’s parts, and also has a surprising and unique texture. Ground zero for baked oatmeal is the Lancaster, PA area as it’s a popular Pennsylvania Dutch recipe.

    Nutritionally, baked oatmeal offers a good mix of complex carbs, simple carbs, and some protein. By adding fruits and nuts to the mix, you can add additional vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats, etc. For the base recipe, you can also substitute apple sauce for butter, cut down on the brown sugar, or substitute xylitol or splenda. Below is the basic recipe followed by some ideas for variations.

    Recipe

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    3 cups instant oats
    1/2 cup melted butter
    1 cup milk
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 cup brown sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon salt
    1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
    Splash of vanilla extract

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    Combine all dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine all other ingredients (don’t forget to take the eggs out of their shell!). After wet and dry ingredients are combined separately, combine all the ingredients together. Place in a greased vessel, approximately 9×9 in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until it looks done. Your guess is as good as mine.

    Once baked, serve warm in a bowl, with some milk poured over (see picture below). Once eating is commenced, the cake-like structure will fall apart like a Schleck brothers’ season and will become a delicious porridge. The leftovers can be eaten for days, just remember to warm up the cake, before you pour on the milk.

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    Variations

      Cherry Garcia Baked Oatmeal: add cherries and dark chocolate chips. If you just ran a half marathon or greater, you have earned a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
      Mother-in-Law Baked Oatmeal: add chopped walnuts and sliced almonds for some excellent Omega 6 fatty acids and a truly nutty experience
      Orchard Baked Oatmeal: Add diced apples, pears, and peaches and you will almost be able to smell the Spring blossoms and pesticides on the trees
      Obama Baked Oatmeal: add nothing because you can’t afford it with higher taxes. In fact, with this variation, you must give half of the recipe output to the guy who was too lazy to make his own.

    Lance, I was just kidding. Call me, we will go for a ride.

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    Excerpt from “peloton”

    “The moment of clarity through the ice cold, crystal clear feel of pain reveals something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year. I’m addicted to riding my bike. I’m a junkie. I need the pain in my legs, the feeling of exhaustion that slowly wells up from your muscles proper and seeps into your bone marrow, and eventually, it floods, and your legs and your body cry, but it’s not a cry of sorrow, it’s the happy release of struggle and hard work and knowing that you’re making your body do things it doesn’t want to do, things it probably shouldn’t do, but exactly what you want it to do.”

    ~Jered Gruber, March 2013 peloton

    peloton is an awesome magazine. The photography and writing is way more Rapha than Nashbar. It’s sister magazine, Switchback, covers the mountain bike side of the sport and is also highly recommended.

    “peloton” magazine

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    2012 Iron Cross X Ultracross Race

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    It’s been quite awhile since the end of Iron Cross 2012. I didn’t feel like writing about the race after the event because I felt as though my writing skill couldn’t do the experience justice; the uniqueness and beauty of my words and sentences would be no match for the challenge of the terrain and the scenic views earned in the saddle of that October day.

    I won’t give a play by play of my race. Considering I was riding at the backend of the race and was often by myself or with a very small group, I don’t have any stories of strategic break ways, or attacks and chasing them down.

    At the risk of cheapening the value of the Iron Cross experience, I would love to share a few personal memories.

    -Eating at Cafe Bruges in Carlisle the night before. What better meal than frites with homemade ketchup and mayonnaise along with a beer sampler at a Belgian redtaraunt before a ‘cross race!
    -Camping in a tent the night before the race. It’s pretty cool to be sleeping a few hundred yards from the start/finish line. It was also a very cool atmosphere to wake up to a bustling ‘Crossville in the parking lot in the morning.
    -Pre-Walking some of the course in the pitch dark with my mom the night before the race.
    -The doomsday pre-race email threatening rain, ice, and certain hypothermia!
    -Falling at the very very end of the sand beach section of the “prologue” and hearing the sand grind in my derailleur.
    -Super support at the aid stations. It was like a Sonic in the middle if the woods. They took my specific order and delivered it, making sure I save every bit of my energy for pushing the pedals. One volunteer even asked me how many scoops of HEED I wanted in my bottle.
    -The huge orchard on the first road section. It seemed like a drove for miles through orchard which covered the entire hollow. Residents even had apple trees in their yards.
    -Surprise when a volunteer at one of the course turns told me only 7 people were in front of me. I was arguing with him as I ride downhill because I thought it couldn’t be right! I didn’t realize how few racers were doing the half course. The shock turned to motivation for a top 10 after a few minutes of dismissing the possibility of the 50k peleton taking a wrong turn en masse leaving me in the top 10.
    -The run up the powerline. I actually felt bad for the dude that cut the weeds up the trail! I was thinking it would take hours to cut the narrow trail with power equipment where clearly no trail existed before. And it was as loose and rocky as a trip on a Greek cruise ship.
    -Possible delerium about 2/3 of the way through the race. At an aid station, I asked if there was in fact 5-7 miles to go in the race (based on my cycling computer). They told me I was about half way! A few seconds later, I started driving back up the road I came from. They yelled I was going the wrong way, so I turned around and took the wrong crossroad again. Exhausting all possibilities, I finally got on the right route. A few minutes later, I could swear I was stung by a bee (but I don’t think I was). This was the woodsy trail section, so at this point I was nervous I had impaired cognition from the physical and mental effort and was lost on the trail. It was a huge win each time I found another trail marker!
    -Almost wrecking one of the leaders. I was on a singletrack downhill. As soon as I heard the guy, I pulled off the trail. He was flying chasing down the leaders. My wide girth blocked his view, so he didn’t see the giant downed tree in front of me. He barely stopped in time! I can remember the squealing of his cantis and a few profanities (not directed at me, buy rather at his near demise). On a related note, when the guy that won the 100k passed me, he was going so fast, the moto following him had trouble keeping up!
    -Some of the very fast and long downhills were on very loose gravel. Although it was dangerous to go fast, it was even more dangerous to brake or change your line. Some sections deep in the woods were freshly graveled and piles of loose gravel, and deep equipment tracks. Confidence and good balance on the bike really helped in these sections.
    -Wicked Wash was set up in the finish area and cleaned all finisher bikes for free. I didn’t believe the bike they brought back was my bike. It was so clean, I didn’t recognize the deepness of the blue paint.
    -Immediately upon finishing, I was already excited for next year!

    As far as logistics, I think the match up between a ‘cross bike and a mtb is pretty even. Even on the singletrack, I never felt as though I was pushing the ‘cross bike passed it’s limits. If anything, I would think a ‘cross bike may be an advantage because if the lower weight on the carry ups. Of course, you can build a light hardtail, but it’s just as easy to build a lighter ‘cross bike. I think the shape of most mtb front triangles would hinder carrying the bike, as well.

    As far as food and hydration, the aid stations are well stocked with many options and are spaced well. I only carried one bottle, and had no problems between fill ups.

    I don’t think tire choice is as critical as I thought it would be. I raced on 35mm Speedmax tires, but I think my 30mm Hutchinson mud tires, or 35 mm hybrid type tires would have been fine as well.

    Can’t wait to start training for Iron Cross XI in 2013.

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    Ode to my Thule Roof Rack

    Ode to my Thule Roof Rack

    Hail thee, Thule roof rack on my car.
    You carry my frame, wheels, and drivetrain far.
    I don’t know how to pronounce your name
    Because from Sweden, you proudly came.
    I take off my front wheel, and lift my bike onto thee.
    You gallantly protect my steed from thievery.
    O! Bike roof rack, you do your job so brave!
    About you, I eternally rave.

    Swatara State Park Mountain Biking Trails

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    Getting There
    From I-81, take the exit for Route 72 (Lebanon). At the light, take a left onto 72 N. After a few miles, bear right into 443. Look out for State Park Road on your right; it’s fairly easy to miss. The parking lot is just prior to the closed gate. Around the middle of the lot, you can find the gravel singletrack trailhead. I believe there is one entry/exit point for the trails.

    The Trails
    The trails are “stacked” loops, lettered A-D.

    Please see the following links for maps and additional information.

    SAMBA

    DCNR SP Site

    I rode all marked loops except for loop D. In my opinion, all of the tails were rather easy. There were no steep climbs or steep drops and the trail surface is mostly beautiful hard packed dirt. The most challenging obstacles for me were a few of the larger diameter logs purposely left on the trail. Although the parking lot was full, I only passed a handful of folks in the woods. Everyone I did pass was extremely nice.

    Although the trails did have elevation gains and switchbacks, most were gradual and smooth. In fact, I was rarely out of breath in any of the climbs. I think these trails would be excellent for a beginner, or for more of a relaxing, non-technical afternoon in the woods.

    The smooth dirt track and gradual elevation gains were a welcome change from the ridiculously rocky logging/mining roads and steep pitches I am used to. In fact, the surface of the trails is begging me to try out my ‘cross bike in preparation for Iron Cross 2012. I have plenty of places locally to practice riding rocks and carrying the bike in unridable sections, so “Swatty” will be a great place to practice carrying speed in the woods on the ‘crosser. I am hoping it can help build confidence. An additional bonus is that I can ride the road to “Swatty” from my in-laws, and ride back; no need to use the roof rack.

    Bike Setup
    I rode my mostly stock 2012 Trek Wahoo 29er. I didn’t pay much of a weight penalty because of the lack of nasty climbs. The bike worked fairly well. I did have ghost shifting in the rear, but I chalking that up to poor cable tension even though the derailleur is a lower end unit. I am still amazed at the ease the wagon wheels roll over obstacles.

    This was only my third ride in the woods on the Wahoo. I am thinking about swapping to one chainring on the front and a bash guard. I don’t think I shifted the front the entire ride, so why not ditch the current crappy triple? Riding “Swatty” has shown me the value of a bashguard in riding over downed logs.

    I also considered going to a rigid front fork, but I am trying to talk myself into waiting to try rocky trails again before I make this step.

    Swatty
    Overall, I think this is a well built, well marked, and well maintained trail system. It doesn’t have huge climbs nor rocky and technical sections, but that is not a bad thing! I can’t wait to go back.

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