Thursday, November 29, 2007

Independent Fabrication SSX

Independent Fabrication SSX

Having been a "Steel is Real" guy for most of my mountain biking life, in the last few years I found myself gravitating towards the lust of Ti bikes, in fact prior to getting the SSX, all of my bikes were no longer steel. After being more involved with IF, I was persuaded to test the SSX (Stainless Steel Cross) and I was excited at the prospect of getting back on a steel bike.

The Tubing: Before Reynolds came out with the new 953, Columbus back in the day also had a stainless steel offering. The Columbus tubing that was flimsy, brittle and small diameter tubing with only Rygin Cycles playing around with it, and from my understanding, none of those bikes exist today This new stainless steel tubing from Reynolds is sexy and cutting edge with its large diameter tubes that are paper thin and glimmer in the light with slight gray tint. It is funny because I get asked all the time if it is Ti. The standard 853 steel tubeset has wall thicknesses in the realm of .08 and .05, 953 is .05 and .03, basically stack like four sheets of copy paper and you will have it. Another benefit of 953 is its tensile strength, 3 times of that of Ti! It is as difficult to work with, even more so to weld than Ti due to the thin walls, and hardness of the metal, but how does it ride...

The Ride: During my transition I had the opportunity to own two identical hardtails, one was ti and the other steel. I could tell the differences and felt like the steel was a bit too harsh, which lead me to a full Ti quiver. Once again, I had two identical 'cross bikes, one Ti one 953, but this was not your average steel. The SSX was up to providing a similar if not superior ride quality to the Ti bike, but with added BB stiffness and a feel of transmitting power right donw to the ground. After pounding out several singletrack rides and laps on 'cross courses, I found myself loving the feel. The ride quality fell somewhere between steel and Ti, but better than both. Snappy, quick and supple were words the churned in my head as the wheels went around.

Light, Sexy and a Great Ride.

So would I convert? Absolutely. Reynolds 953 maybe the most cutting edge frame material out there in an unlikely package. Steel bikes have gone to pasture in the mainstream as Carbon and other exotics have taken center stage. But make no mistake, 953 is as exotic as anything out there, and just as beautiful. Weight? 3.45lbs for my 56 frame (my Ti weight in as 3.3 lbs), and there is room for lighter weight frames as the tubing gets dialed in.

Riders looking for an alternative to the sterile carbon-mass marketed deigns with little to no ride quality need not look any further. Indy will be offering a full line of 953 bikes (already with SSR road and SSX 'cross) with the soon to be released mtn version. These make for great Gucci/ head-turning rides that back up the hype, and offer real world riding benefits. I am working on the converting my quiver over to 953, Steel IS Real baby!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Training Partner

Actung! Baby on Board!

The weather Gods have blessed us w/ an extended riding season, hell, I might make it out again today. But they seem to have forgotten that we like snow as well. If it were not for a small little patch up on Lily Lakes, we would have ridden bikes again yesterday, but we made it out for our first (actually my second) nordic outing. In doing so, we have utilized all of the kits we purchased for the Chariot (a night run in the falling snow on Friday put the jogger through the paces). By far the biggest training benefit has been the bike version, add 30lbs and a parachute to your rear end and you will get my drift.

The ski has been the most fun thus far. It actually makes you feel more stable on skis, and it glides great. My training partner Colin, now 11 weeks old takes everything in stride, mostly he just sleeps through it all. But once and a while he is alert and like a sponge takes it all in. We are looking forward to skiing with him in Europe on the myriad of XC trails that network small picturesque villages, most of which have a lot of snow already.

Team Bloomer

Colin also has been to 7 races so far, yes I know, people think we are pigeon-holing him into being a cyclist, and I am sure it will have an influence on him. However, I secretly want him to be a really good fussball (that's soccer to you Amerikaner). In fact I am going to take a camp myself to be able to play with him, right now I am pathetic at best.

Friday, November 23, 2007

On the slide

I thought it smelled like snow last night, sure enough we have a dusting this morning. I hope we get enough up high so they can set some nordic trails on Lily Lakes for the CB Nordic Thanksgiving camps...

Adam, meet Mr. Top Tube, Top Tube meet Adam.

I pulled these pics off the net, perfect example of how things can go wrong even for the best. Busted out the single speed for another great late season ride in Hartman's. I didn't look at the temperature when I left, but I am thinking in the low teens. Still, it felt great to get out and earn my Thanksgiving dinner, which was pretty good I must say.

I think it is down here somewhere...

Work is focused on Germany, get everything set for the big move, and IF/ Edge launched, I am very excited. Already looking and booking our event plans over there.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Riding On Borrowed Time

Cranking out a ride up Prince Creek. Carbondale, CO

I should be skiing by now, but the riding has been great. I have logged more miles in the past few weeks than most of this season. Trying to ride the ‘Greatest Hits’, Fruita, Eagle, Carbondale, TRide and CB. A few weeks back I hit a new trail near TRide, courtesy of one Mr Micheal Guskea. Sweet, tight, wet in the trees riding that I love so much. The trail was still soft from being so new, but was pretty freakin good none the less.

18 road was an adventure, at dusk on my cross bike. I basically descended the trail coming down through the campground by feel, and when I reached the car, I couldn’t see the door handle. Up Prince Creek has been beautiful with the change in season, riding under the canopy of the Scruboaks. That place is going to explode!

One last ride in Eagle this week, I was working over the Bone Yard, when on my second descent, I crossed Charlie Brown’s (Mt Pedaler – the Peanuts) path. I rode back to the top with him, and had a great discussion about 29’s, suspension, and trends in the industry. It should be known, I don’t like 29’ers, and yes I have tried them – but I also don’t care for dualiies either. What stuck with me on this discussion, was how much front suspension. Mike Skellion has been riding a Roark Ti hardtail bike with 120 (Charlie was on his Kona single unit with a Maverick fork on the front – 6inches). Where is the point of diminishing return for a hardtail? How much is too much?

I have ratcheted up my front end in smaller increments, Mag 21 (50mm), Judy (60), White Bros (70), SID (80), FOX (80 & now 90). I truly believe you have to look at a few factors when determining travel on a hardtail. Quality of suspension, style and type of riding, frame type and wheel setup.

This discussion begins and ends with FOX, having ridden most other forks, FOX is where it is at, period. As a racer who likes to descend, I have really grown to like the 90mm, but I am considering going to 100, but maybe to 110… Efficiency, sluggishness, and weight all are things to consider, ultimately, I will go with what IF suggests based on my goals for this bike…stay tuned. The bike will be a 953 hardtail, smooth, compliant, light bike, that is still rigid laterally, and quick. Tires a huge part of suspension choice since one can tune so much in the tires. Being that I run a softer setup (25 – 28psi), I don’t feel the need for more travel. The flip side is with a little more up front, I can have better handling via more grip from the suspension.

There will be some more new products on this bike, and I will be playing around with the single speed as well – can’t wait to crack that badboy open on some Euro’s!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

flogging it...

Me Flogging it like a Rented Mule

Boulder was on the docket for the weekend with 2 UCI events and our last chance to spread the word on our UCI MountaineerCross this coming weekend. Not too mention shopping for the baby (he scored) and ourselves - Gunnison does not lend itself to shopping, and there is no Whole Foods. And Sunday I jumped out there with the 35+ for my first and only CX race of the season.

Once again DBCEvents and Chris Grelish put on a hell of a weekend of racing in Boulder, continuing his vision of holding premier cross events. If you haven't, thank this man for his hard work - and believe me it is hard. Boulder Res served up day one, and shortly after posting our bills for our event, it was off shopping. Besides many thing for Colin, I bought my first pair of Organic Jeans at REI, something I have sworn I will only do in the future - buy consciously sustainable and ethically produced consumer goods.

Afterwards, I pulled some laps in a park in LoDo to prep myself - I certainly haven't ridden at all - for a puke fest the next day at the Boulder Cup. Reverting back to Standard Time not only gave us an extra hour of sleep, but made life much easier getting out to the venue. Sandi went for a spin on my new SSX prior to the my race, while Colin and I posted some more bills for MountaineerCross.

After catching up with a few old friends, I suited up, MIB style so as not to draw any attention to myself, it didn't work for Vino or Rasmussen, but it seemed I was under the radar. I started dead last, I mean dead last, which was fine because I felt my race was a crap shoot. The top 10 in 35+ are freaking fast, and with no training this fall, I wasn't going to get myself into dicing it up with those guys. After a five sec delay from hearing the start, we got rolling. I pick and chose some lines through the back of the pack, slowly working my way up through the field. While I had no speed on the flats, I was actually dropping or picking up guys on the climbs and sandtraps (I rode all of them except on the first two laps in heavy trafic). Anither thing I noticed was the lack of handling skills in the back half of the field, guys would blow it on corners, and pick poor lines, and I was the only one where I was riding cleaning the sandtraps. I saw the leaders on occassion, opposite of me on other sectors, but I kept "Flogging it like a Rented Mule" as Dave Thile would say. A couple last lap surges put me into the top half of the field, where exactly doesn't matter. It was fun. It was fun because unlike in years past, I had no expectations, and was doing it for the joy and pleasure. Also a reminder for what I want to accomplish in the future in my racing while keeping grounded on what is really important.

Afterwards, I threw Colin in the BabyBorn for a mid-afternoon dinner at Whole Foods with Sandi, and it was great to see him looking around and absorbing it in. I enjoyed being close to him and looking at things through his eyes. And the smiles he put on others faces was priceless. I look forward to many more experiences like this with him, and getting to relive childhood through another person.

If you haven't thought about it, think, no, make plans to come up to our race this weekend, the MountaineerCross. Beers and Wine at number pick-up Friday evening at the Brick Cellar winebar, great racing all day Saturday with some big names from this weekend and top ACA races. Killer prizes and the fun will continue the next day in Durango at the SqwakerCross.

SSX 953 Stainless Steel IF