The Mountain Bike Life

In my last few Introduction to Downhill racing posts (part 1 and part 2), I tackled some of the basic questions about downhill racing. Now we’re going to dive into the nitty gritty. Let’s talk about something that’s very important but I rarely see addressed, and that is the subject of race practice. The following are some aspects of practice that I have found to help contribute to an enjoyable and successful weekend. Photo Credit: Flickr user Perfect Zero Stay relaxed: Do your best to arrive early, but not at the expense of proper nourishment, and rest. I personally find driving to the events to be a good way to mentally get in the zone. I like leave early and have…

We’ve all been there – bombing down that beautiful technical single-track, hopping over everything you can, carving perfect lines through the corners, getting ready to pedal your way over that big root and… Nothing. Nothing more than your yells of frustration and, as was often the case for me, pain. What happened? Why didn’t it work!? Yep, you guessed it (especially you folks that read the title): the chain fell off. Instead of having an awesome story to tell, all you have to show for that trail are a few new bruises and some nice scratches on your bottom bracket. Below, I’ll walk you through the amazingly cheap and relatively painless process of making your own chain guide, so you can keep…

The real question is in my title, here. And my short answer is absolutely, to patch. First and foremost, let me say that I completely understand the skepticism of patching tubes, especially that of ones that we inflate to super high PSI’s, as in road bike tubes. With something being inflated to such high pressure, how in the world can sandpaper, glue, and a bit of rubber save something that’s supporting so much weight, and why wouldn’t I just buy a tube that’s already relatively cheap, at $5-7? my favorite patch kit, sans magic marker Why the industry has ruined patching patching a tube using REMA TIP TOP patches I feel that the reason that so many people are skeptics of the art of…

I have been riding mountain bikes for around 26 years now, I have seen trends come and go and every time a new product is released it’s touted as the best thing since the last best thing. I don’t want to get all “well back when I started it was different” but it really was, we knew what worked and we rode it. There were not as many options as there are now, and to change things up even more there is the Internet with its “experts” and “armchair engineers” spouting off their opinions and theories as if they were the truth. I am here to say…phooey on that. Image by K.Steudel I am by no means one of those…

I’ve mentioned before the challenge of learning to ride in an area with a very steep learning curve. To learn steadily as a beginner requires trails that boost all three riding factors together – skills, fitness and confidence. When your local trails jump from a (boring) to d (no can do), it’s hard to gain the confidence to attack them, the skills to carry out the attack, or the fitness to get you there and back again. Luckily, I really didn’t have to wander too far afield to find the perfect answer. Last summer was my first full season of riding, and my riding coach/sweetheart Rivers had the genius idea of taking me to Silver Star for my first bike…

While we were picking up my Dad’s first new bike in probably 25 years (a slick bianchi road bike to replace his custom-made-from-used-parts college road bike), he began reminiscing, “You know, I can remember each bike I’ve had throughout my life very distinctly.  And how I felt when I got that bike.  Much more vividly than I can remember how I felt about any of my cars, or even what they looked like exactly.  I wonder why that is.” Maybe it’s because his childhood Schwinn stingray and banana seat are still in the attic of our garage, or maybe it’s because for a lot of us, there’s a deeper connection to the bikes we own and what we do with…

A few weeks ago, on January 26, I started my second season of racing cross country. This is the first part of an on going series about my experiences racing. Sprinting past the team tents My first race of 2013 was the series opener at CCCX. The race was held on the awesome single track at Fort Ord near Monterey, CA. Last year I raced Cat 3 14-18 and finished the season 3rd place overall. This year I am racing Cat 2 18 and under. This was my first time racing Cat 2, which was about 22 miles. I finished in 10th place out of 15 riders (2 did not finish). My team mate Ben  Slaughter finished 12th. A fun…

Have you ever been in a situation on the trail where you thought about the procedure for those “understood rules”? I present to you the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s ‘Rules of the Trail’.  For most people, this would be common sense, but for new cyclists…this is the fine line between an exchange on the trail, or being ‘that’ guy/girl. When practicing trail etiquette, the rules just come naturally. Dictionary.com provides the term etiquette below: et·i·quette   [et-i-kit, -ket]  Show IPA noun 1. conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any classor community or for any occasion. 2. a prescribed or accepted code of usage in matters of ceremony, as at a court or in official or otherformal…

What does that mean?  Steel is Real?  So Aluminum is fake and Titanium is an impostor and Carbon is a figment of our imaginations? That saying has bothered me for years.  How could steel possibly be better than Aluminum or Carbon?  Both are lighter, stiffer, easier to work with, and cheaper than the higher quality steels.  So why the obsession over it.  If you look at custom builder of frames it is their first choice of material.  I get the thing about fatigue and steel will last longer if it doesn’t rust, blah blah blah, but what makes it better really.  It surprised me to finally find out. Up until last summer I had a collection of GT Zaskar’s from different years. …

I Was thinking of this a bit in December just before the snow came. How we mountain bikers will discuss endlessly about building a ladder bridge to cross a creek. Or whether or not the trail is being excessively groomed but we hardly ever talk about the necessity of trail grooming and how to do it right. Trail grooming is often ignored but in reality can cause serious damage to a rider. I know of a few riders who have had chunks taken out of them by partial pruning jobs like the one shown below. The scary part is this is at head or throat level. Add in ride speed and this could cause some significant problems for a rider…

In my last post Introduction to Downhill Racing Part 1, I talked about some of the possible misconceptions non-racers might have about racing. If you haven’t already, I would suggest going back and reading that now. In this post, I hope to answer some of the very basic questions somebody may have before attending their first race. Note to the reader: Keep in mind, every country is different, I can only speak for how things work in the USA and for races that are sanctioned by USACyling. How to find a raceNormally I would say a quick web search is the modern way of answering any question. However when it comes to finding downhill races nearby it’s not that simple…

Ever find yourself wishing you didn’t constantly drop your chain on those technical descents, or saying “man, I wish I could get a chain guide that doesn’t need ISCG tabs”? If so, you’re in luck! Below, you’ll find a review of the Bionicon C-Guide V.02 – a nifty little attachment you can slap on pretty much any bike – no ISCG tabs required! It’s been proven: dirty rides are fun rides. Edit: Paul, from Bionicon, sent me an email with some information I would like to pass on to you guys. First of all, I’m missing a zip tie (the third should go in the centre of the mounting tube, but not so tight as to pull the metal against the…

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