Iron Cross Bike Race Links

Unfortunately, I will be in California during Iron Cross this year, so
I won’t be partaking in the melange of gravel, singletrack, roads, and run ups this year. However, for those folks who are thinking about racing this event and are looking for more information, I am reposting a list of links I put together last year, along with adding some others. Hopefully you will be motivated by these historical posts to enter the foray that is IC XI.
Iron Cross Home Page
Iron Cross Bike Reg
What the heck is Ultacross?
Cycling Dirt Video
Dirt Rag 2010 Report
Roger Masse 2011 Repor
Iron City Bikes 2011 Report
Fit Chick 2009 Report
Cycling Dirt 2011 Report
Pez 2005 Report
Liberty Sports 2011 Preview
NYC Velocity 2011 Review
Hill Junkie 2008 Review
Race Ramblings 2010 Report
NE Race Redux 2010 Report
Danielle Musto 2009 Report
Monika’s 2010 Report
Liberty Sports 2011 Results
Guys Racing 2010 ReportTeam Ommegang 2011 Review
Alicia Parr 2006 Review
Rawland Cycles Review

Bike Setup Specific
Hill Junkie Blog – CX or 29er?
Forum thread on gearing
Forum thread on bike setup
Another forum, talks about tires
XXC mag
Bicycle Times example
Soiled Chamois post about bike choice
Iron Cross organization recommendations
My bike from 2012

2012 Iron Cross X Links
XXC Mag Preview
Iron Cross Website Results and Review
Cycling Dirt Video
A.E. Landes Photography
SSR Race Report
Pflug’s Report
Hans MBM Race Report
Lance Byrd Report
Mike Festa Report
Cyclocross Magazine Report
Chris’s Report
LWC Youtube
Second Hand Spoke Blog
Ryan Dudek Pictures
Tongue in Chic Blog Report

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Singletrack on a ‘Cross Bike

It can be done.

It should be done.

It does get done.

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Benefits and Installation of Bar Top Levers

Bar top levers, in-line levers, cross levers. Whatever you call them, I like ’em and if you don’t, you can go to hell. If I have been riding my ‘crossers a lot and hop on my roadie, I find myself reaching for brakes on the top of my bars. It’s nice to not have to move your hands to the drops to brake when you aren’t on the hoods or in the drops. This is especially handy when riding more technical trails and you are keeping your weight over the rear tire, but it’s even convenient when you are riding with one hand (such as when you have a sloped driveway, and you are holding an iPhone to start your Strava ride). Drawbacks? A teeny bit of weight, maybe. I have used in lines with discs, cantis and v’s and have never noticed a drop in performance.



    Make sure you buy levers with a clamp compatible to your bar diameter. Some come with shims so they can be used with multiple diameters.
    Take off old handlebar tape
    Remove brake cable from caliper. Slightly squeeze brake lever and pull out brake cable. Cable ball end sits in hole in picture.


    Loosely install lever.
    Cut brake outer where it will enter lever. You can use any heavy wire type cutter.


    Use an awl or nail to round out the inner lining that is crushed.


    Install brake outers into in-line lever.


    Run cable back through the outer and install back into caliper.
    Cap end of cut cable.
    Tighten down levers clamps.
    Adjust brakes.
    Reinstall bar tape.
    Do other side in same way.

There you have it. Takes
30-60 minutes depending upon your skill and experience.

Try bar top levers. You will never go back to riding without them on your cross/gravel bike.

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Romans 5:3-5

We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.


A Warning To Those Running the XTerra Earth Conservancy 2013 Trail Run

I just came back from running the Brown Loop Trail in Mocanaqua. The Brown Loop shares much of the same
Route as the XTerra course.

The land is nothing new to me. In fact, I grew up a stones throw from “the woods” as I called them as a little boy. I fondly remember picnics and walks in the woods (now part of the Earth Conservancy) growing up. As a young man, there is barely a ridge or a hollow I haven’t mountain biked, hunted, rock climbed, rappelled, hiked, drove my CJ-5 Jeep, or explored. In fact, you may say this is hallowed ground as a great-grandfather of mine suffocated underground somewhere beneath our feet escaping a mine collapse with his friend and neighbor back in October of ’32.

Even given this familiarity, I am always struck by the brutality of the first 2 miles of the trail. Of course, the first gain in elevation is a kicker, but this is only the beginning. The worst parts come when the trail runs along the steep ridge overlooking the river and Route 11 North of Shickshinny. The best way I could describe the trail is effing stupid. I am not sure why the trail was even built; most of the double track was established for mining operations and ‘maintained’ by ATV traffic. However, this section appears far from any former mining activity, and it seems too rough for an ATV trail. Pictures do no justice to the steepness and looseness of the trail. Suffice it to say, many of the sections are difficult to walk up for large stretches. Most trail runs I have done have short sections where climbing/walking is necessary. This race has repeated prolonged sections that redline your heart rate walking up them. I would guess there are about 10 kickers that are steep, loose, and long within a mile or two. One can barely recover before the next kicker arises before your disbelieving eyes.
There is quite a rewarding view at the top.

Unfortunately, the downhill sections are so rocky, they offer no respite, but rather a potpourri of large, medium, and gravel sized rock ready to twist an ankle (or hide a prolific black rat snake).
Also, your lungs will either be choked with hot coal dust from some of the roads, or your feet will have jungle rot if there was a recent rain from a putrid puddle (also prolific in the area).


As mentioned above, black rat snakes are common, as are black bears. In fact, within the last decade (as with all legends, the exact year is unimportant), the largest black bear of the year was taken over the mountain from the trails, probably with 3 miles of the trails. As anyone that knows bears knows, this is well with a bears range. This big bears off spring surely still wander the former coal lands. I wonder if the bear skirting the puddle before me is a relative of the legend bear?


So how to prepare? First, if you train solely on roads, be able to run near 20 road miles to be equivalent to 13 Mocanaqua miles. Be prepared for heat reflecting off the dark waste coal that makes up many roads (but enjoy the cold breezes you feel coming up from unseen mines or vent holes along trail). Wear shoes that are flexible to grip the rocks and do not have a high sole. I think it’s best to keep the foot low to the ground minimizing the torque from the jagged rocks. Have a hydration plan. I would recommend some sort of system such as hydration pack, or hydration belt. Lastly, bring your ability to suffer. Just as the miners suffered long days with a pick in hand underground in the dark, you will be suffering above the ground in the scorching sun come June 15.

On a historical note, if you look straight up the slope from the parking lot (above the blue DPW building), you may see the old foundation of the West End Colliery breaker building. This is where young boys and disabled men would usually hand pick the “culm”, or waste coal that now makes up the various “culm banks” in the area. The first breaker burnt down, and a new one was built near the same site. At one time, there was a covered bridge spanning between Shickshinny and Mocanaqua. The previous concrete bridge to the current was located a few hundred yards upstream, between the last house and the parking lot.

If you look across the river, you will see waste culm from the Stackhouse Colliery operation. It is now State Game Lands and offers a beautiful 3.5ish mile totally unmarked running loop that goes past several open mine shaft and runs along an old railroad bed in many parts. The loop offers great views of the river valley and Mocanaqua. It also climbs a powerline, offering other great views. The Stackhouse Colliery foundation can be seen at the end if the bridge on the other side of the river. This breaker is known for shooting it’s anthracite over what is now Route 11 and into car on the canal and railroad. The canal bed can still be seen along Route 11 in several spots.

Lastly, the towns have both been hit hard by flooding of the Susquehanna. There used to be a telephone pole in Mocanqua on Lincoln Street that had flood levels from the last few decades. I am not certain it’s still there.
If interested in the flooding, check out the back room of the Wagon Wheel Restaraunt in Shickshinny (at the red light). There, you can find a plethora of photographs, and you can see the water level on the building.

If you want to reward yourself with a great cheesesteak that rivals anything in Philly, check out Mil and Jim’s Parkwayon your way back to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. Simply continue straight through Mocanaqua, through Glen Lyon, and into Alden.
Mil and Jim’s will be on your left. Interstate 81 isn’t too far from the

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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
  • 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


    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.

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

    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.

    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?

    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.

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

    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.


    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

    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.



    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


    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.



      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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