Friday, September 28, 2012

URT Singlespeed a Ride Review

The long journey that has been my Trek Y 11 singlespeed blast from the past has finally culminated.  Version 2 was finally completed Wed night thanks to some parts bin BB7s from Carl for the front wheel.  Just in time for our CNH Thurs ride.

For those keeping score version 1 was more of just clean the thing up, convert to singlespeed and see if it even works.  The singlespeed portion of the build has proven itself solid from the get go.  The DMR STS chain tensioner works great and is pretty smooth no issues there.  Version 1's main issue was the tired old suspension, front and back.  I knew if I was going to ride this thing long term I would need suspension that actually worked.

I put my desire for a full suspension singlespeed party bike out into the Universe and a few months later I got a text from Jomo informing me he was actually going to mail the fork I gave him back from CO.  I had told him to just sell it and then buy me beer when I come out to visit but all told this is probably better.  Then Phil at work had mentioned a while back about an old Stratos Helix rear shock he had laying around in a box in his shop doing nothing.  Although I guess technically what it was doing was hiding..waiting to fulfill its DESTINY.

Only issue at this point was the fork coming from CO was a 29er but I've randomly decided to turn 26er frames into 69er's before to pretty decent effect so I didn't let that phase me for a second.  There was a good chance the geometry was going to go straight to hell but it turns out the Stratos is a quarter inch longer than the original spec'd rear shock on this frame.  So the wagon wheel fork tilted things back a bit but then a slightly longer than spec'd rear shock tilted things right back.  Its still a bit hokey but it works.

The ride itself went pretty damn great.  It's going to take me a bit to learn how to appropriately ride suspension again.  I wasn't really using it to its full effect and was getting messed up a bit in corners because of the slight differences in steering behavior and not being used to rebound etc.  The geometry feels very odd to me but I think its actually probably fine.  I need to get someone like Ben on this thing who is used to riding a bit more slack to know for sure.  It rides flats and downs just fine...climbing is awkward as hell and feels like its 3 times harder than it should be but I guess that is to be expected.

I posted one of my faster times on Mighty Chicken last night so right from the get go I can see there will be some gains in the descending realm over my Redline.  Although I did almost kill myself going off the slight drop before the last big berm.  Turns out this thing is a little front heavy, go figure.  I'm comfortable in a high speed nollie though so no big whup.  I think once I learn the little ins and outs of actually riding a slack FS ride appropriately I will probably be partying pretty hard on this thing.

A viable full suspension 69er singlespeed? Who'd have thunk it??

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bradbury 12hr 2012

First 12hr race is in the books.  First time I've returned to this format since I did the 6hr at Pat's Peak years ago.  I didn't so much like the race at Pat's but Bradbury was large amounts of fun.  Shaun and I decided to try our hand at the 'Double Single' race (2 man SS team).

We arrived at Bradbury State Park early afternoon Friday and set up shop at what would later be known as 'Podium Camp'.  Carl did a bang up job of getting a great site reserved early and getting things dialed.  Having team support is key at a race like this.  All in all we would have 4 teams using the site on race day.  Myself and Shaun, Carl's 3 man team with Bully and Andrew, Steve and Andy and a 4 person Women's team from MA (sorry I don't remember all their names).  We got out for a pre-ride of the course on Friday afternoon and holy shred was it awesome.

Calling this thing a bike handler's course is almost an understatement, which suits me just fine.  I like handling bikes.  Tight, twisty, techy in spots, bridges, ample flow and a reasonable amount of climbing.  Very SS friendly.  I was jazzed and very much looking forward to riding it a BUNCH.  Then it rained.

I had seen a forecast or two calling for a very slight chance of showers Sat AM but most of them had then changed as we got closer to the weekend.  Even that morning as it was raining most people checking their smartphones informed us that it was indeed not raining according to all weather sources.  This would make things quite a bit more interesting.  All those cool bridges immediately turned into death traps and all the slight tech turned into full tech.  Not a problem though, I tend to handle things a bit better when it gets loosy-goosy than most others but it was going to be challenging to manage temps and stay comfortable with everything being damp and the sun not being out for most of the day.

Shaun and I decided I would head out first and try to keep us as close to the fast guys at the front as I could.  As we were staging to head out I had thought (for no specific reason) that they would break out the groups a bit more but instead they sent off the solos, and all two person teams at once.  And it just so happens that where I was standing was just about at the very back.  So much for that plan.  I was able to work my way past about 1/3 of the field just heading around the parade lap before actually entering the course but this course didn't offer too many passing opportunities.  Much of the course was tight/fast single track.  If you wanted to pass you either needed it offered up or you had to make some serious risky and sketchy maneuvers.

Being the first lap no one was really offering anything up but I was able to take a few opportunities to move up a bit when people bobbled.  It was a tad frustrating here and there but things were moving along pretty quickly.  Eventually I was stuck behind another SSer that was a tad slower than me in the tight stuff but equally matched in everything else so I never really was able to get around him (turns out this would be half of our nemesis for this race).

After tagging Shaun in I got into the routine of cooling down on the trainer and consuming protein and salt.  Trading war stories at camp and giving course beta to those who hadn't gone out yet.  I had a stop watch running with Shaun's lap time so I could time heading back to transition.  Similar to the NH100 things get a bit blurry here and there details wise.  First few laps were fairly uneventful.  Luckily I was able to keep things fairly upright with only a few hail marys.  Others weren't so lucky, the slick bridges were claiming lots of casualties as well as the roots/corners.

Pog made this sweet photo sequence of me and then I yoinked it off the Twitters

They started posting results/lap times around lap 3/4 and I was able to start getting a picture of where we were standing.  At about lap 4 Shaun and I were in 4th about 3-4mins our of third place.  We had both settled in and our lap times were leveling off and holding steady for the most part.  In the next lap or two we ended up loosing a bit more time on 3rd (biggest gap opened up to about 10+mins) and 5th had closed the gap and actually caught us and for a lap or so we were neck and neck and actually relegated to 5th for a time.  Mentally I was a bit bummed thinking that maybe we didn't quite have the mettle for this format and that most of the other teams were a bit more equipped.  Little did I know the joke was on them.

PRO TIP: If you tell Shaun to do a wheelie, he will do it.

Shaun was battling with his man on the team that passed us for 4th and keeping the gap close enough so that I was catching my half of their team earlier and earlier in the lap.  That team had made the choice to do double laps and I think that proved to be their undoing.  I caught my man on lap 9 about halfway home.  He sort of just tipped over on a section of trail and was sitting there looking a bit shell shocked.  I asked if he was alright and the response was "Yeah, I think so."  But I could tell what he meant to say was "I just bonked."  I was fairly certain we probably wouldn't have to worry about them anymore and after checking later in the race it turned out that lap ended up taking him 2hr10min and ended their day.

Right around that time I also noticed that our gap to 3rd had come down.  Not by much, but maybe a minute or so.  We were past the half way point and Shaun and I were both holding steady keeping our lap times just about equal or loosing a minute at most.  Two laps later and the gap was down a bit more.  Shaun had been loosing a bit of time to his man most of the day but he was beginning to even it out and my man was fading fast.  Each lap the gap would shrink a bit more and Shaun would hold my gains steady.  It looked like we had a chance.  Our times were still holding and they were obviously bleeding time.  Only question was did we have enough real estate to catch them?

Lap 11 answered that question.  I was still feeling pretty good, a bit sluggish but I felt like I was moving consistently and riding within myself.  About a mile out from the finish I got just the adrenaline boost I needed.  I was coming up on some lap traffic and as I pulled by he yelled out "Aw man I just got passed by some other singlespeeder a second ago!"  I knew that had to be my guy.  I got on the gas and sure enough he came into view.  I had put 7mins into him that lap and I pulled up to him with relative ease.  We had a shot at this!  I did some creeping behind him for the last quarter mile or so because I preferred he didn't know we were right there.

Coming through transition I pointed out to Shaun that this was the team we were battling for third.  I told him to "keep it close" because I was confident that I would be able to catch my guy as long as he had less than a 7min gap.  Turns out Shaun misheard me and he thought I said "ride a lap faster than your last lap and put 6mins into a guy whose been putting time into you all day".  Nail in the coffin achieved.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Shaun come into transition several minutes before I was expecting him with the other team nowhere in site.  I was fully expecting to have to really race my night lap chasing a guy for the podium and instead I got to start the lap with a nice cushion that I ended up extending by another 5-6mins when it was all said and done.


13 laps, I rode 7 and Shaun rode 6 with a finishing time of 11hr15min (rules are you can't start another lap after 7pm).  2nd place had 14 laps and 1st place came in with 15 laps.  Official Results.

our lap times are the bottom row of Double Single

I'm super pumped with how we did.  A new format for both of us and I don't think we could have done anything better than we did.  This was a big question mark race effort for Shaun having never done anything quite of this magnitude and he stepped up HARD.  His lap times only differed by a total of 5mins and his slowest lap was not his last lap.  Pretty solid performance.  My laps actually differed more with a span of about 7mins (not counting my night lap).

My Lap times:
56:48 (night lap)

Shaun's Lap times:

Our camp mates also had a hell of a day with Carl's 3 man team taking their division, Crossley and Gould killed the 2 man Expert's and the 4 person Women's team also won their division.  4 teams, 4 podiums.  Hence 'Podium Camp'.  Awesome day, awesome course, awesome teammates.  Real good bet you will find me here next year as well.