Saturday, April 14, 2012
Part 1: Pushing Ultra Stumpy - Rocky and Steep
On Thursday and Friday, Jason, my co-worker and me hit South Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado during our lunch break. South Table Mountain is an extinct basaltic volcano and is a favorite among mountain bikers. Here is a shot of South Table Mountain:
You may note how steep the the sides of the mountain are. It is a hard 20 minute climb to get to the top.
The trail is rocky. This is no place to screw-up!
Here is a sample of the major trails. There are many more trails that are not marked.
Unfortunately, there are some big cliffs on this mountain. Again, this is a good place not to screw-up.
This is the terrain that Ultra Stumpy was made for. My friend jason has a very old Yeti. Yeti bikes are made right at the base of North and South Table Mountains. Yeti are "boutique" bikes. They don't make many bikes because the guys that work at the Yeti factory spend a lot of time "trail testing" new products.
Here is a factory photo of Jason's 2005 Yeti. Unfortunately, Jason blew the front forks and the cost is over $600 for a new fork. His cogs are shot also, which is another $300. High-end bikes that can handle South Table Mountain are expensive to buy and maintain.
Part 2: Ultra Stumpy is Fast
As Jason and I climbed up South Table Mountain, Ultra Stumpy just floated up the gnarly, dangerous, rocky and steep ascent. Under full load, Ultra Stumpy shifted to lower or higher gears flawlessly. Jason's old Yeti was grinding and thumping during shifts. Jason is younger and in better shape than me. But Ultra Stumpy ran away from the Yeti.
A Factory shot of Ultra Stumpy. I swear this bike has a motor!
Part 3: Jason Wants a New Bike
Jason wants a new Yeti SB-66. This is a cool bike!
At $4,700 the Carbon Frame Yeti SB66 Enduro is a solid performer. Ultra Stumpy would need to work hard to keep up with this bad boy. Both Ultra Stumpy (Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 FSR) and the Yeti SB66 Carbon Enduro 29 are great machines.
Part 3: Why the Big Bucks for a Bike?
Here is why - Jason and I covered 10.13 miles of rocky and nasty terrain in less than an hour. Here is what my Garmin 305 Recorded:
Distance: 10.13 Miles
Time: 50:14 Minutes (mm:ss)
Average Speed: 12.1 Mph
Max Speed: 23.8 Mph
Ascent: 998 feet
Sounds Slow? Here is a photo of the terrain:
This is a photo of the actual South Table Mountain descent. I got this picture from a Mountain Bike site. The guy in the photo is neither Jason nor me. Just imagine taking this on at 24 mph! It is a huge head rush!
Part 5: Bike Rack for Ultra Stumpy
The swoopy frame on a dual-suspension bike makes it is tough to hang the bike from a conventional rack. Currently, I have to take off Ultra Stumpy's wheels and jam the frame into my car. I have to reassemble Ultra Stumpy for riding. Then disassemble for transport. This is not fun.
I went to a local store called "Rack Attack". Rack Attack sells very nice bike racks. After looking at every bike rack in the store, I settled on a Thule 916XTR T2.
This was the only rack that could handle Ultra Stumpy's frame and 29" tires.
The rack locks to the hitch receiver and has individual cable locks for each bike.
Part 6: Burning Calories
I rode Thursday and Friday. According to the SparkPeople fitness tracker, I burned 2,252 calories. I am down 3 pounds since getting my new bike.
I think that this is good.
Part 7: Sell Little Stumpy???
A guy at work is interested in buying my 2008 Stumpjumper Comp hardtail XC racing bike. He is the same size as me so Stumpy fits him. He has a road bike but wants a hardtail mountain bike. He likes that Stumpy is a custom 3x10 (30-Speed). Most Stumpjumpers are either 20 or 29 speeds. Stumpy's extra gear is for more speed. I made the mistake of telling my wife that someone wants to buy Little Stumpy. But on a smooth single track Little Stumpy is magnificent. Little Stumpy is going to be hard to give up.
I still like this bike a lot. Little Stumpy is a sweet bike and oozes goodness.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Sunday, April 08, 2012
Part 1: Rule #12 - The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
For those of you that detested algebra, the statement "n+1" translates into "one more". Here is a link to The Rules.
You will note that "n+1" can be written as "s-1". In my case, "s-1" represents the maximum number of bikes that I can buy before my dear wife decides that living with a "free spirit" is too much to take. Of course, I call myself a "free spirit". My wife calls me her 54 year-old child. At lease she harbors no illusions regarding my maturity level.
Part 2: Serious Tactical Blunder
I told my wife of my plan to buy a full-suspension mountain bike as a reward when I take off the last few stubborn pounds and get to my goal weight. She thought about for a while. The next day she sent me a text stating that if I got a promotion at work, I could get any bike I wanted.
I had previously told her that I was being considered for a promotion. Little did she know that I had already gotten the promotion. I considered her text message the "green light".
Part 3: A Little Bike History - Mountain Bike #1 - Big Red
The first good mountain bike I purchased was a Giant Boulder SE I call "Big Red". Big Red is a solid recreational mountain bike with an aluminum alloy frame and decent Shimano components. Big Red is a hardtail with an adjustable Suntour front fork with 80mm of travel.
I bought Big Red over 10 years ago for $360 brand new. Similar bikes today go for about $500 to $600. Big Red has 21 speeds with a really low climbing gear. These type of bikes are labeled as "Sport" or "Recreational" and are hot sellers. Even though Big Red is ten years old the bike is not obsolete. Giant still sells this same bike for the same price. I still ride Big Red when I want to cruise around.
Part 4: Mountain Bike #2 Stumpjumper Comp "Stumpy" - Hardtail Performance Bike
I wanted quite a bit better performance and got a great deal on a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp. The bike I bought had a lot of upgraded components and was set up for racing. Stumpy has a light aluminum alloy frame and is a hardtail. Stumpy can handle rough terrain but you have to stand up on the pedals. Stumpy and me have been all over the place. Stumpy has cost me a boat load of money over the years. But Stumpy is cool and fast.
This is a photo of the newest Stumpjumper Comp. This bike retails for $2,000. The Stumpjumper was introduced over 30 years ago and was the first purpose-built mountain bike. Prior to the Stumpjumper, mountain bikes were simply steel road bikes with lower gearing, low riser handlebars and knobby tires. My first "mountain" bike was a Huffy. This $65 iron dog could handle a dirt road and that was it. My "Target Special" Huffy had a rigid frame meaning it had no suspension. The bike was hard to pedal, hard to turn, hard to shift and hard to stop. The Huffy was also ugly and uncomfortable.
Part 5: Mountain Bike Purchase #3 - Ultra Stumpy - I lost my Mind
I drove down to Wheatridge Cyclery to look at a few bikes and pickup a new pair of baggy bike shorts. Wheatridge has a bike demo program. For $100 you can rent a demo bike for a couple of days. In addition to a Stumpjumper FSR Comp ("Super Stumpy"), I was also interested in trying the Trek Rumblefish and Trek Superfly. I walked into the huge bike store and found it was humming.
Wheatridge Cyclery is a big store. While I was there they sold 20 or 30 bikes. They only stock good bikes and parts. They sell good quality stuff at reasonable prices.
They have a huge inventory of Trek and Specialized Mountain Bikes. They also sell semi-custom bikes like Yeti and boutique bikes such as Orbea.
I found the lineup of full-suspension Stumpjumpers. I was gazing at these magnificent bikes when I heard a young woman's voice say, " May I help you?" I looked up and saw a petite young lady in jeans and a blue store shirt. Her jet black hair was pulled back in a pony tail. Her big gold name tag told me her name was Elysa and she was from Golden, CO. I told her I was looking for an FSR Stumpjumper with 29" wheels. She says enthusiastically, "Good choice! I am thinking, "I am doomed."
I asked her about the suspension differences between the Stumpjumper and the Rumblefish. We discussed two-stage shocks. pivot points and four-link suspensions. She knew her stuff.
She asked me if I wanted to test ride a few bikes. Based on my height and inseam measurement, Elysa told me that I was between a medium and large frame bike. She pulled out a large frame Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29. She adjusted the bike for my weight. I took off on this Super Stumpy and right away knew it was too big. Elysa watch me ride thought I looked stretch-out on the bike. She then let me try a Medium Frame Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29.
Stumpjumper FSR bikes use 2 x10 gearing, which means Super Stumpys are 20 speeds. I was a bit doubtful that 20 speeds were enough. I had a great time on this bike. With very little effort the bike was flying. I played with the suspension lockout. This was an exciting bike! 20 speeds were plenty. A huge advantage of 20 speed is that it is really hard to cross chain. I loved this bike! It was smooth and amazingly comfortable. And fast! The price was a reasonable $2800 for this aluminum alloy frame Super Stumpy.
Part 6: Finding The Right Bike
I came back to the shop. Elysa asked how I liked the bike. I told her, "I thought I had died and gone to bike heaven." I then asked, "What are the advantages of a carbon frame?" Elysa said, "I ride a carbon frame Specialized Safire, which is the same as a Stumpjumper for women. The carbon frame is lighter, stiffer and much more responsive." She was a nice kid. She says, "We have a medium sized carbon Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29, but it is still in the box." We walk over to the Stumpjumpers again. She looks concerned and points to a red and black bike, "If you want to get the feeling for a carbon Stumpjumper, you can try this one. The bike is a Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Expert. I look at the price - it is $5,200! I tell her this is out of my price range. She says, "Try to ignore how the bike feels, brakes and shifts." This bike has brain technology which is an inertial system that adjusts your suspension automatically. Every component is of very high quality.
Here is a photo of a Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Expert 29.
Part 7: Amazing Test Ride
Elysa gets the bike all set to go. The seat is adjustable by hitting a lever on the handle bar! I take off on the bike. I am trying to ignore the fact that this bike moves like greased lightning. I thought Super Stumpy was fast. I jump up on the sidewalk. There are people all over test riding road and mountain bikes. A guy testing a road bike is coming the other direction on the sidewalk. He is looking at the his pedals. He doesn't see me. I pull a quick left turn off the sidewalk and up a grassy hill. This bike moves like a cat! I had never felt anything like it! I am in high gear. I stand up and power over the short grassy hill. I am moving at warp speed and I am not even trying hard. I test the handling. The bike responds perfectly, linearly and instantaneously.
I pop back on the road. I take a fast hairpin turn. Even on pavement this bike is on rails. I have demo pedals on the bike. I wonder how it would feel if I were clipped-in. This bike is smoking hot! In a flash realize that I am going to buy this bike.
Part 8: Not Cheap - But Worth Every Penny
I was gone a lot longer than I thought. Another sales person gives me some water. Elysa is no where to be seen. She finally spots me. I had walked Ultra Stumpy back to the rack. She asks, "How do you like the carbon frame?" I just tell her, "This is one sweet bike." She asks, "Well, what is the next step." I tell her, "I want this bike. But the price is a bit much." She says, "I don't think we can come down. We had two and the other one was sold. Specialized doesn't make many of these high-end bikes. But I will go ask." She comes back about 5 minutes later. She says, "My manager says we can go down to $4,800. Ok, it is only $400 off but it sounds better than five grand! I say, "Let's do it".
Part 9: Stumpjumpers are Money Pits
I had to buy pedals. Ultra Stumpy did not come with pedals. I know what your are thinking - $4,800 and it doesn't come with pedals?? I popped for some mid-range pedal., I got Shimano XT pedals for $150. I got a carbon bottle cage, high-pressure pump for adjusting the suspension and a spare 29" tube. Oh, also got what I came to get. A got a pair of Pearl iZUMi Baggy Mountain Bike Shorts.
I got a discount because I just bought a bike. When the manager came over to approve the discount during checkout he said, "That is a very special bike. There are not many out there."
Here is my new bike.
Here is my new Stumpy in his element.
A tag on the bike put the weight at 27.1 pounds. This is a fun machine.
Here are the controls on new Stumpy. This bike cooks!
Here is new Stumpy in the fold. I know that new Stumpy looks big but it actually a little more compact that old Stumpy. The 29" wheels make the new bike look big.
I have some shakedown to do before I can hit the big mountains with new Stumpy. I was just a wee bit premature buying my new Stumpy before I hit my goal weight. I rationalize the early purchase because this great new bike is going to help me get there.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Part 1: Upcoming Races
On May 5th I kick off the season with the Long Scraggy 4.25 mile trail race. On May 12th I will run the Lake George Flatlander 5K. That is as far as my race planning goes. My oldest son is happy that he gets to defend his title at Lake George. He also holds the course record. Lake George is a pretty long drive from my house. My son and I have an arrangement. He drives while I sleep. I buy the post race meal.
Part 2: Stumpy Always Costs Money
On Sunday, April 1st, I took my Specialized Stumpjumper Comp - named "Stumpy" - for a nice ride. During shifting I got some chatter from the back cog set. Stumpy never chatters during a shift! Stumpy is a heavily customized single track racing bike with great components. I got a bargain on Stumpy because the guy that ordered all the cool custom stuff didn't complete the sale. Stumpy always shifted, "snick, snick, snick"
Stumpy is a few years old. My bike is a blue version of the bike in the photo. Stumpy is as plain as a bike gets.
I keep finding out that Stumpy has more custom stuff than I even imagined. Due to the shifting clatter, I took Stumpy to the bike hospital. The bike doctor told me that Stumpy's rear gears, called a "cassette", were shot. I asked the bike doc how much replacement gears would cost. He said, "Well, you have an SRAM XG-1080 10-Speed Cassette." I say, "Yeah, that sounds expensive." He says, "We can order you a new one for $295 installed." I say ,"What is the advantage of this cassette?" He answers, "It is light but it is not very durable." I say, "Look, I'd rather have something a bit heavier and longer lasting." He rubs his chin in deep thought, "I got a SRAM PG-1070 Mountain Cassette in stock with the same gear ratios. It is heavier by 45 grams. It goes for $120 installed." I do a quick calculation in my head and say "45 grams is about the weight of a peanut butter sandwich. I'll take it!"
Stumpy shifts beautifully now. I can't tell any weight difference. But I feel like I sold Stumpy out! I am slowly turning Stumpy into a recreational mountain bike rather than the thoroughbred racing machine he was meant to be. He still seams to be plenty fast.
Part 3: Super Stumpy - Incentive
In three years of trying, I have yet to achieve my goal weight. Those last pounds are just stubborn. I know some Sparkers use rewards for motivation. I have not really ever used an incentive system. Mostly because when I want something, I go out and buy it. So I am thinking that what I need for motivation is something so frivolous that I would never just go buy it. Since I have bike fever pretty badly, I came up with what I want that I don't need. I want a Super Stumpy!
This is a photo of a 2012 Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29er. MSRP is $3,000. The bike shop sells these bad boys for $2,700. This bike has a Stumpjumper exclusive feature, which is rear suspension auto sag and lockouts on the front and rear suspension. I like the suspension lockout feature since it allows the bike to effectively become ridged at the push of a button.
I have two very good bikes already and don't need Super Stumpy! But I want Super Stumpy and the price is high enough that I just won't go out and buy it. Well, maybe I won't.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Part 1: Insane Beaver
When I decided to put on a 5K trail race I read everything I could about being a race director. I have assisted putting on the Long Scraggy race for three years. I talked to other race directors. The one thing that all these different sources told me was that there were going to be a lot of unexpected things happen. The only thing I was really sure of was that the race was going to be on September 15th and I had the course nailed-down.
Part 2: Uh Oh, Wait just a Minute
I looked on the Calendar of events for Conifer Community Park at Beaver Ranch and found that on September 15th there was a Bluegrass festival scheduled. There was no way a 5K and a Bluegrass festival could be held at the same time. I contacted the park director and found that they had a typo on the schedule. The Bluegrass festival is on September 23rd. I made an appointment with the park director and put down a deposit so I would own September 15th.
Part 3: Dirty Beaver?
For some reason the Mean Beaver 5K is listed on the event Calendar as the "Dirty Beaver 5K."
The park director wanted to kill two birds with one stone. She is a sharp lady. She suggested an adventure race utilizing the Zip Line at the park. She also suggested flooding the lower meadow and setting up a fire barrier. She suggested calling it the Dirty Beaver 5K. The Elk Creek Fire Department would do the flooding and the fire barrier. The Fire Department wants to use the race course for training. I think this is a great idea for a future event. But I really want my race to be a trail race, which is adventure enough.
Trail racers are, well, serious runners. I really could not see a bunch of trail racers standing in line on a Zip Line platform while the clock was running. A mud run is a possibility for another time.
Part 3: Don't Bother The Frisbee Golfers
The Conifer Community Park at Beaver Ranch is not supported by tax dollars. The park is self-funded. Beaver Ranch makes it's money on events. At the Mean Beaver 5K there are going to be vendors that pay the park for setting up booths. The majority of vendors will be selling organically grown Colorado fruits and vegetables. My sponsors will also be there including the Boulder Running Company.
I had intended the Mean Beaver 5K would follow a USATF certified course. However, the USATF course goes through the Frisbee Golf Course. The park director had second thoughts about this. The Frisbee Golf Course brings in a lot of money. She also told me that the Frisbee Golfers would likely tear down any trail makers in the area. The only problem is that the Frisbee Golf Course sits smack in the middle of the park. Unless I make an out-and-back course, half the park can't be used for the Mean Beaver.
Part 4: You'll Need First Aid
The park director suggested incorporating Elk Ridge trail into the race course. The trails that I can use without bothering the Frisbee golfers are, well, really challenging. The park director mentioned that Elk Ridge trail is "pretty rocky" and I need to have first aid handy because "people will fall down". If any of you have read my other blogs, you may have noticed that I carry first aid with me. I fall down a lot! I plotted the new course and there is plenty of trails to get 5K worth of distance.
Part 5: The Mean Beaver is Really a Mean Rodent
Here is what the course looks like. The top of the course is near 9,000 feet so there is still some snow on the trail.
This is looking down the course from the starting line. This wide road climbs at a 15% to 20% grade for 1/4 mile. The beauty of starting on a steep road is that the runners will string-out before the course gets narrow.
The trail starts to get steeper and narrower at Tipi Loop. Tipi Loop is also a bit rougher. The Tipi loop sign is almost exactly 1/4 mile into the race.
Tipi Loop climb at 40% to 45% for another 3/4 of a mile. The Mean Beaver course has a steady climb for the first mile.
Here is the top of Tipi Loop. This is rocky at this spot. You are right at the mile mark here. The course starts to go down hill right past the orange snow fence.
The downhill section of Tipi Loop is smooth. This is where you can cut loose and fly. That is, of course, if your legs have anything left after running uphill for a mile.
After running the downhill segment of Tipi Loop you hit Loggers Loop. Loggers Loop is narrow with a few rocks and roots but is relatively flat. This is where you hit the gas. Watch your step though.
Loggers Loop is going to be really pretty on September 15th.
Loggers Loop has a few sections that are challenging. This rutted section is actually a little tougher than it looks.
Here you are climbing back out of Loggers Loop. This grade is only about 10%. Loggers Loop is a pretty fast part of the course.
After Loggers Loop you hit a nice smooth trail called Coyote Creek. This sign is at the two mile mark. Just a bit over 1 mile to go!
Here is the start of the Coyote Creek Trail. This rustic little bridge spans, you guessed it, Coyote Creek.
Here are some nice little steps to get you up the hill. This is pretty. You are now starting a big climb. You are looking at a 30% grade right here. I wonder why steep hills look flat in photographs.
Here is the sign for Elk Ridge. The fun is about to start.
The Elk Ridge Trail turns right and goes straight up the mountain. This trail is both steep and rough. This is what trail runners live for!
One of many fun obstacles on the way up Elk Ridge. I took this photo standing on the trail. This is tough running.
I took the photo standing on the trail. This might give you an idea of the steepness of Elk Ridge trail.
You are getting to the top of Elk Ridge Trail. The mountain in the background is called, not surprisingly, Saddle Mountain. Notice the mist on top of the ridge. You are well over 9,000 feet of elevation here. You have just run into a low hanging cloud.
Now you run along the ridge and start down. I put "T"s on the photo so you could see the where the trail goes. Slippery pine needles, rocks, roots and dead fall make this little section a wee bit difficult. You have about 1/2 mile to go.
You can jump over this dead fall or you can put a foot on the log and step off. You are coming down the hill quickly and you have to make up your mind in a hurry.
Just keep running and watch your step. It is mostly down hill from here.
Here is some fresh dead fall. I am going to have to cut these off the trail. These trees are high off the trail. Two trees in a row make it hard to navigate this obstacle.
You are almost to the finish. You have a short flat jaunt up Chapel Trail. You go over a small bridge and you are back on the road. I couldn't get a photo of Chapel Trail because it was covered in deep snow. Yes, I know it is late March. The Mean Beaver race course won't be clear until June.
This will be your view as you approach the finish line. You are flying downhill, that is, If you have anything left.
Part 6: Part of a Trail Series
A contracted with a company called Human Movement to provide the timing. Boulder Running Company has offered to provide the banners. I bought some shoes for Kettlebell training at Boulder Running company yesterday. I told the lady helping me about the Mean Beaver 5K. I told her it was pretty rough. She told me she only runs trail races. She said the best time she had was on a rough course when she fell and required 5 stitches in her hand. She told me not to worry that the Mean Beaver course was rough. She said, "I can take anything for 5K."
The guy at Human Movement asked me if I would want the Mean Beaver to be part of a sponsored trail series. He told me that companies are lining-up to sponsor trail races. I told him that trail racers are serious runners but are relaxed because they have nothing to prove. He said he knows. He also said those are exactly the people that buy stuff.
Now I need to get busy and build the Mean Beaver website. Does this course look a bit rough to you? Oxygen is a scarce commodity at high elevation. I am going to get a couple of elite mountain runners I know to give this course a test. I have one Sparker coming (KKINNEA). Any more of you Sparkers want to try this?
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