Wordless Wednesday

Diamondback Bicycles pro rider Kelly McGarry taking second place in the 2013 Red Bull Rampage with a backflip over a 72-foot-long canyon gap (the first place run wasn’t too bad either, as GT Bicycles rider Kyle Strait took the win with a suicide no-hander).

Cross Vegas at Interbike

While checking out all the latest cycling gear and making business deals is the real reason for the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, getting the chance to check out some of the fastest cyclocross racers on the planet at Clif Bar CrossVegas is a pretty close second for many of the industry show attendees. Having grown from more modest beginnings in 2007, CrossVegas is now rated as a Category 1 race, just a notch below the biggest events on the European World Cup circuit. With early season ranking points on the line, CrossVegas now always draws a deep field to the Desert Breeze complex a few miles from the Vegas Strip – a grassy oasis that is transformed into a raucous arena of 10,000 fans under the lights for some nighttime racing.

Cross_vegas_hill

Big and noisy crowds lined the hillside near the barriers

Before the pros took to the course, a motley crew of amateurs from the cycling industry racers tried their luck in this early season cyclocross spectacular. Everyone from bike manufacturers, to clothing vendors, to cycling journalists, to your very own Performance Bicycle was represented in the ‘wheeler and dealer’ race – former pro (and race ringer) Christian Heule of KoolStop took the victory atop a brand new Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Carbon Pro Disc. This race also gave everyone a chance to check out the course and find their preferred vantage points for the later races – we were a big fan of the elaborate wooden banked turn at the base of the run-up and barriers (although there were also 2 flyover ramps, and 2 more sets of steps to keep things interesting).

crossvegas_ramp

Cycling industry racers tackle the wicked cool banked turn

But the crowds really came to see the top pros duke it out in this first major cross race of the year – having grown in stature over the years, CrossVegas now regularly attracts a great field of racers from the US and Europe to race under the lights. By far the top name in town was reigning world champion Sven Nys of Belgium –  the seemingly ageless ‘Cannibal from Baal’ who has been a dominant fixture on the pro cross circuit for 15 years. An undisputed hero in his home country, Sven was back to race in the US for only the second time ever (his first being the World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky earlier in 2013).

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Sven Nys being interviewed by Belgian sports channel Sporza

However before Nys and company took to the course, the elite women had to settle their scores. Even though the sun had set at the Desert Breeze race venue, it was still blazingly hot when a stacked field of Katerina Nash, Lea Davison, Catharine Pendrel, Meredith Miller, Georgia Gould and Amy Dombroski, among others, lined up for the 40 minute women’s race. Racing was fast and furious from the starting gun, but a lead pack of about 20 riders stayed mostly together through the first few laps.

But about halfway through the race Katerina Nash jumped clear of the pack and never looked pack. The Czech rider kept the chasers at bay for the last half of the race and cruised home for an undisputed victory – American Lea Davison held off former mountain bike world champion Catharine Pendrel to round out the podium. Afterwards Nash announced that she was going to retire from pro cycling, only to un-retire a few days later. Hey, why quit when you’re ahead (although those are famous last words in Las Vegas)?

Cross_vegas_women_finish

Katerina Nash takes the win in the women’s race

After an exhilirating women’s race, the crowd was fired up to watch the elite men battle it out. Toeing the line from the international contingent were the champ, Sven Nys, Wout Van Aert, Quinten Hermans, Bart Wellens, and Sven Vanthourenhout, while the North American racing scene was represented by Jeremy Powers, Geoff Kabush, Ryan Trebon, Tim Johnson, Adam Craig, Jamie Driscoll, US champ Jonathan Page, and Belgian transplant Ben Berden. It was a formidable lineup for any cross race anywhere in the world – and the action didn’t disappoint. If there was one word to describe cross racing at this level, it would be ‘ferocious’. Pro cross racers attack from the gun, and don’t let up until the last lap an hour later!

Constant attacks on the very first lap left the field strung out across the wide-ranging grass circuit – it was amazing to see the raw speed and skill on display. If you ever get the chance to see world-class cyclocross racing in person you won’t be disappointed – watching these racers float over the barriers (many simply bunny-hopping them) with barely any drop in speed, or expertly dismount and re-mount at full gas, or even rocket through turns while jostling for position definitely makes for a fantastic spectator sport.

But back to the race – the seemingly inevitable soon happened and Nys glided off the front and established a gap. American Ryan Trebon grimly covered the move and hung with Nys for a few laps, but the Belgian’s relentless laps soon shed the rangy Trebon and the champ was all alone at the front. Riding solo for the last half of the race, Nys stayed comfortably ahead of the chasers and was able to casually cruise home the final straight for his second victory on US soil, much to the delight of the crowd (they came to see the best, and a winner in rainbow stripes certainly fit the bill). Behind Nys, American Jeremy Powers jumped away from the chasing pack to take second, while Canadian Geoff Kabush snuck in for third.

Cross_vegas_men_finish

Arms up for Sven Nys as he cruises in to victory in the men’s race

All in all, CrossVegas definitely lived up to the hype – 2 worthy champions, lots of furious cross racing, and a pretty rollicking party rolled into one event. If you make it out to Interbike next year and someone offers you an invite to CrossVegas, don’t pass up the opportunity to check out some world-class cyclocross in the Nevada desert (OK, it’s at a grassy city park, but it was still really hot and dusty).

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Amy Dombroski (on the left) talking to Georgia Gould before the start of CrossVegas

On a sad note, we did want to take a moment in closing to remember American cyclocross racer Amy Dombroski, who was tragically killed in a training accident in Belgium a few weeks after this race. A well-known and respected member of the women’s cyclocross scene in the US and Europe, Amy’s friends have put together a Facebook page to remember a life cut much too short – donations for her family can mailed to: Memorial of Amy Dombroski; c/o Wells Fargo Deposits; 1242 Pearl St.; Boulder 80302.

Product Profile: Diamondback Bicycle 2014 Overdrive Carbon Hardtails

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When we heard that Diamondback was adding a new lineup of Overdrive Carbon hardtail mountain bikes for 2014, we were excited. Utilizing the same trail/XC geometry as Diamondback’s Aluminum Overdrive series, the 29″-wheeled Overdrive Carbon designs incorporate their proprietary Advanced Monocoque Molding Process (AMMP) technology using the highest-grade carbon, constructed in the most precise manner, to produce world-class cross country machines. Our bike buyer, Ben, got a chance to try out one of the new high-speed off-road machines at the 2013 Sea Otter Classic XC race (a stern 40 mile test of California hills and dusty trails). How did he sum up the new bike? In a word – impressed. He called the Overdrive Carbon “a great all-around 29er race bike that climbs like a mountain goat, with crisp, precise single track handling and the components to match.”

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Pro Mountain Bike

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Pro Mountain Bike

The 2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Pro Mountain Bike is dialed-in from top to bottom, featuring a lightweight carbon frame, Fox suspension and SRAM XO components. 142×12mm carbon rear drop out, a tapered head tube, and a 15mm thru-axle fork increase stiffness for enhanced steering and traction. The sloping top tube provides ample standover clearance. A 71° head tube angle and a 73° seat tube angle create the perfect XC/trail geometry. The 440mm (17.3 inch) chainstays equate to an extremely snappy bike.

The top shelf FOX 32 FLOAT CTD 29″ E-S fork gives you 100mm of plush travel up front with a CTD damper that supplies five different compression settings to optimize your ride for low and high rates of speed from a handlebar-mounted remote. A top shelf SRAM XO group including shifters, derailleurs and hydraulic disc brakes give you the absolute best of the best in performance, period. Add in Easton EA90XC 29″ Clincher wheels and you have one of the most comprehensive competition-based packages on the market.

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Expert Mountain Bike

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Expert Mountain Bike

The 2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Expert Mountain Bike is built for maximum speed, stiffness and fun. With the same lightweight carbon frame and Fox suspension as the Overdrive Carbon Pro, the Overdrive Carbon Expert comes equipped with SRAM X7/X9 components. The bike’s Avid Elixir 7 Hydraulic Disc brakes have 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors for maximum modulation on the trail. The 10 speed drivetrain features a high quality X7 Front derailleur, X9 Type 2 Rear Derailleur and the S1400 10-speed crankset. Add in Diamondback SL-7 double wall rims with WTB Wolverine Race tires and you are set to conquer any and all off-road obstacles.

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Mountain Bike

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Mountain Bike

The 2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Mountain Bike is sure to elevate your heart rate before you even hit the saddle. Utilizing the same Advanced Monocoque Molding Process (AMMP) carbon frame as the Overdrive Carbon Pro and the Overdrive Carbon Expert guarantees an extremely snappy bike with enhanced stiffness for precise steering and control. Avid Elixir 1 Hydraulic Disc brakes with 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors provide ample stopping power. SRAM provides a 10-speed drivetrain with an X5 Front derailleur and crankset mated to an X7 long cage rear derailleur for smooth shifting performance. Diamondback SL-7 double wall rims with WTB Wolverine Race tires round out this race and trail-ready package.

Real Advice: Wheels

Today we continue with our Real Advice series – hard-earned practical knowledge from real riders here at our home office. This week Brian, a member of our content team, is going to share with you some thoughts on wheels.

wheels

Several years ago, when I got my first carbon fiber road race bike, I was so amped. It had SRAM 10-speed Rival on it, a full carbon frame and fork, and a carbon seatpost. I’d even splurged on some carbon fiber bottle cages. In those days, this was some pretty heavy artillery to be bringing for the level of racing I was at. Admittedly, I didn’t know an awful lot about bikes at the time, and I hadn’t ridden the bike much before the race. All I knew was I had the latest and greatest carbon 10-speed stuff, while most of those other chumps were rockin’ alloy 9-speed gear. According to all my mental math, I was already standing at the top of the podium.

When the race started, everything seemed to be going fine. I rode well and felt strong. Until I got out of the saddle at speed or tried to sprint in the drops. Every time I did, I could hear the rim hitting the brake pads with every pedal stroke, shedding speed and momentum. When I leaned into a corner, the rims squealed against the brakes the entire time, slowing me down drastically, and I watched furiously as other riders flowed past me, despite me having the extra 10th gear.

After the race, I was fuming. I had just spent all this money on a carbon fiber frame that I believed to be about as stiff as a wet noodle. I ranted to another rider about how flexible the frame and fork were, and how poorly the bike had performed. The other (more experienced) rider took one look at my bike and said simply “dude, it’s not your frame—it’s your wheels.” I did the next race on a borrowed wheelset that proved him right.

For most riders, whether you race or not, wheels are the most overlooked and important upgrade. It’s incredibly tempting to upgrade your bike with the newest drivetrain, or all the carbon fiber you can find. While the performance gains you get from those parts are significant, they still pale in comparison to investing in a great set of wheels. Among the many improvements you’ll get will be stiffer rims, lighter weight, improved handling, and greater aerodynamic performance. But before you buy, here’s a quick guide to help you find the wheels that are right for you.

 

  1. What kind of wheels do you need: The first step to buying new wheels is ensuring they will work with your equipment. It may seem like a wheel is a wheel, but asking a few basic questions can help you get it right the first time.
    • Does your bike have rim or disc brakes? If disc brakes, what kind are they?
    • How many speeds is your drive train (ex: 11-speed cassettes usually require 11-speed freehubs)?
    • What brand of drive train do you have (SRAM, Shimano, Campagnolo)?

    These DT Swiss XM 1650 MTB wheels will work with center-lock disc brakes, Shimano cassettes, and tubeless tires.

  2. Know what you want: Few wheels can really be placed in the do-it-all category. Knowing what you want to get out of your rides can help you narrow things down.

    A pair of lightweight alloy clinchers, like these Easton SLX wheels, can shed significant weight from a bike, making them ideal for climbing

  3. Alloy vs. Carbon: This one is entirely up to you, and a full discussion would be another blog post, but here’s a basic breakdown:
    • Alloy wheels are usually more durable, less expensive, and offer better braking performance, especially in wet weather, but tend to be heavier and less aerodynamic than carbon wheels
    • Carbon wheels are much lighter, aerodynamic, stiff, and (according to some) cooler looking than alloy, but are also much more expensive. Carbon road wheels also can have diminished braking performance, especially when wet (this isn’t a problem with MTB carbon disc brake wheels)

    Carbon wheels, like this pair from Reynolds offer significant aerodynamic and weight savings

  4. Tubular vs. Clincher vs. Tubeless: These are the three basic types of bicycle wheels, and each have their pros and cons.
    • Tubular wheels require tubular tires (tires with an inner tube sewn inside) which have to be glued onto the rim. They are very lightweight, and offer unsurpassed road feel and cornering abilities, but they require a special technique to mount and may be difficult  to change if you flat on the road.
    • Clincher wheels are the most common, and use a tire with a separate inner tube that hooks onto a bead on the rim. Clincher wheels are very convenient for most rides, since it’s very easy to change a flat, and some of the best clincher tires approach the road feel of tubulars. The drawbacks are that clinchers are often heavier than tubulars, and if the tire is under inflated or flat it can sometimes roll off of the rim.
    • Tubeless wheels are quickly becoming de riguer on mountain bikes, and are finding their way onto the road. Tubeless wheels require the use of special tubeless tires and use no inner tube. The bead on both the rim and the tire is made very tight, so as to make an airtight seal when inflated. The benefits of tubeless tires are legion, specifically that they virtually eliminate the chance of flatting. The downside (for the road at least) is that they are the heaviest type of wheels.

    These Reynolds Assault CX tubulars are perfect for cyclocross season

So there’s a basic breakdown of wheels. For a little more information on other upgrades you can make, check out this article in our Learning Center.

Real Advice: An Intro to Climbing

climbing_3Real Advice is a new series here on our blog. To answer some of the questions we get from customers, we’re turning to the employees here at our home office for some answers. Just like anyone else, they need to balance time on the bike with full time jobs and families. Over the years they’ve gotten pretty good at getting the most out of their rides. Let us know what you think in the comments.

This week we asked Robert, one of our copywriters and dedicated lover of the road ride, to give us some tips on how to get better at climbing.

climbing_brianI learned a hard lesson about climbing a few years ago after moving to North Carolina from a certain Midwestern city known for ferocious winds and two-dimensional topography. I thought I was in pretty good shape—until I decided to join the Thursday night group ride my first week of work at Performance Bicycle. I doubt I had actually ridden a bicycle up a hill before (unless bridges count), but I didn’t think it could be too hard. After 5 miles of rolling hills, I was utterly exhausted, and had long since been dropped. My ego was deflated, but thankfully there’s nothing like a reality check to get you motivated. Here are some of the tips and tricks I used to improve my climbing:

  1. PRACTICE. This seems obvious, but there are no silver bullets here. The only way to get better is to go out and find hills to ride up. Don’t overdo it, but adding challenging vertical mileage to your rides will do wonders.
  2. BUDDY RIDES. After my embarrassment on the group ride, I found a strong climber at the office and rode with him a few times a week. It was painful, but forcing myself to match his faster pace helped me make huge gains in a short amount of time.
  3. YOUR FRONT DERAILLEUR. Use it. You’re not going to impress anybody by big-ringing it up the local hardman hill, and you may even hurt yourself. If you find yourself struggling and out of the saddle from the start of the climb, you need to get into the habit of shifting to the little ring sooner. Since it’s almost impossible to shift the front derailleur once you’re actually climbing, it’s better to shift five minutes too early than five seconds too late.
  4. STANDING vs. SITTING. This one is divisive, but it honestly depends on the type of climb. If the climb is, say, 2 miles at a 6% grade, you’re better off staying in the saddle and pedaling at a higher cadence. If it’s a short, steep climb you can probably just stand up and stomp on the pedals to power up it. In general standing makes you work harder than sitting and pedaling at a higher cadence. If you do need to stand, make sure to shift to a harder gear to compensate for the extra force on the pedals.
  5. RELAX. Climbing is hard, but we subconsciously make it harder than it needs to be. Next time you head uphill, pay attention to your upper body. I bet you’re clenching your abs, tensing your shoulders and white knuckling your handlebars. All this saps your energy and makes it harder to breath. Next time, try to keep things loose and relaxed, control your breathing, and let your legs do the work.
  6. EQUIPMENT. Yes, nothing can really take the place of saddle time—but there are some equipment upgrades that can make climbing a little easier. If you’re really struggling on the hills, consider changing your cassette to a 12-28T, or switching to a compact crankset—both of which can make things a little easier. But the most important upgrade you can make for climbing is your wheelset. Wheels add both raw weight and rotational weight to your bike, making climbing more difficult. Finding a good pair of lightweight wheels is a very personal matter, and much can depend on budget and personal preference, but here are some of my favorites.

Race Day: Zipp 202 Firecrest Carbon Tubulars

Training Ride: Easton EA90 LTD Road Clinchers

Workhorse:  FSA Gossamer Road Clinchers

If you already have a pair of wheels you love but still want to go lighter, then take a look at your cranks, seatpost or saddle. There are many places on a bicycle where grams can hide. For more ideas on how to improve your performance or shave some weight from the bike, check out the “Upgrade Yourself” article in the Performance Bicycle Learning Center.

Pro Profile: 10 Questions with Triathlete Cameron Dye

Kestrel Logo

Since Kestrel-sponsored world-class pro triathlete Cameron Dye will be dropping by our Fort Lauderdale store on Friday, April 5, we thought that we would reach out to him beforehand to answer 10 questions, for those of you who aren’t able to meet him in person in Florida. But before we get to the questions, we want to give you a little background on Cam, and what makes him so fast.

The 28-year-old Boulder native won his age group in his first triathlon, the Boulder Peak Triathlon, as a 15-year-old high school student. Cam attended the University of Iowa on a swimming scholarship, where he was named team captain of the swim team and received All-Big Ten Academic honors. After receiving his degree in finance in 2006, he moved back to Boulder and began training and racing full-time. He earned his pro license later that summer.

With his 2010 victory at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, Cam – along with his blonde, curly locks and his signature style of demolishing the field on the bike – made his presence known. Deemed an up-and-comer storming onto the tri scene, Cam tallied two wins and five podiums in 2011. After tallying six wins and an additional six Top-10’s aboard his Kestrel 4000 last year, Cam capped off his 2012 season with the greatest victory of his career: the 2012 Race the Toyota Cup series title. In recognition of his outstanding year, Cam was named 2012 Non-Olympic/ITU Triathlete of the Year by USA Triathlon.

10 Questions with Cameron Dye

cameron_dyeWhere are you from and how did you get started racing triathlons?

I was born and raised in Boulder, CO and began racing triathlons at 15. I grew up a swimmer and runner and after doing one at 15 decided it was something I wanted to chase as a career after swimming in college.

What is your favorite distance and why?

My favorite distance is the olympic distance, because of all the variety you have between drafting and non draft racing, and the fact that it is flat out for the whole race.

What’s your strongest event – swim, bike or run?

Historically it’s swimming, but I have won most of my victories because of my riding.

Which event do you need to work on the most?

Running is my weakest of the 3, and although I have made big strides as a runner it is something that I will continue to try and master.

What’s one piece of gear that you can’t do without (for racing or training)?

My headband… something has to keep the ‘fro under control!

Tell us about your bike – what do you love about your Kestrel?

My 4000 is fast, plain and simple. I love the fact that it still looks like a bike, and not a space ship like some of the “super bikes” and yet it is still winning lots of races. I have won 9 out of my 10 professional victories on a Kestrel, 8 of them on a 4000.

What do you eat before a race – is it the same every time?

I try and find Hawaiian pizza the night before, and I have always eaten maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal the morning of the race.

What is your best advice for a beginning triathlete?

In everything you do have a plan, but be willing to deviate from it if necessary. Listen to your body, and make sure you are having fun. Even the hardest workouts need to be enjoyable in some respect.

What are your goals for the season?

Defend my title as the Lifetime Fitness Series Champion, and win the fastest race in the world at HyVee.

Tell us about your hair – how does it fit under an aero helmet?

My hair has sort of become my trademark. I love the fact that I stick out a little bit from the average pro triathlete, and it fits my personality. Once it’s wet it fits just fine in a helmet, the trick is keeping it under control on the run!

Pisgah Stage Race: Looking back

Our team of Johnny & Chris has finally recovered from their second place finish at the epic 2012 Pisgah Stage Race – 5 days, 195 miles and 28,000 feet of climbing on some of North Carolina’s best mountain bike trails. Now that they’ve had some time to recover, we’re handing the blog over to Johnny, to wrap up their racing experience.

Chris & Johnny on the final podium (Johnny is on the right)

So I have had over a week to reflect on the 2012 Pisgah MTB Stage Race. I want to give you the highs and lows, products I am glad I had, and a few final thoughts. If you are thinking about doing any mountain bike stage races, especially the Pisgah MTB Stage Race, be sure and read this post along with our coverage during the race.

Highs:

  • Incredible world class trails – My new favorite place to ride.
  • Descents – Challenging, yet rewarding. You have to know how to ride a bike here.
  • Waterfalls/scenery – In one county alone there are more than 250 waterfalls and many of the 400 miles of singletrack pass right by some of the best.
  • Fellow racers – Everyone who participated and volunteered at the event was super friendly, ready to help out, and just a joy to be around.

  • Less of a race feel – It didn’t have the feel of a race. I mean this in a good way. There were no signs of prideful, ego-boosting personalities.
  • Satisfaction of completion – Finishing this grueling event is a feat in and of itself.
  • Weather – While the rain of Stage One was rough, the blue skies, low humidity, and fresh mountain air overly compensated for it.

Lows:

  • Weather – Part of the Pisgah National Forest is considered a rain forest, I believe it now.
  • Climbs – Long, never ending. Each time you think the next turn will bring relief, the trail goes up even higher. A familiar phrase from course marshals was, “Straight up that way.”

  • Mental – You get used to the physical difficulty of the race. What is more important is being strong mentally to keep going and keep pushing, no matter what it looks like around the next bend.
  • Bike part destruction – Your bike and parts will be put to the test. Bring a spare bike, just so you know you have a replacement of every part on a bike. It is truly the easiest way to ensure and bring all the spare parts you might need.
  • Recovery? There is a question mark because by the time you finish the stage, get cleaned up, eat, and get your bike ready for the next day, there isn’t much time left before you wake up, wash, rinse, and repeat.

Products:

  • Forte Pisgah MTB Tires – With the weather on day one, tire selection was critical to maintaining forward momentum on the narrow, rock strewn, rooty singletrack (or as some call it, halftrack). Therefore I was very glad I had the Forte Pisgah tires below me to grab hold of the rugged terrain. The Forte Pisgah excels at gaining traction in this type of environment. They did such a good job of maintaining traction on the trails that they boosted my confidence while riding and given the trail conditions I was more willing to attempt difficult sections, knowing the tires would not break loose. Let’s just say the tires definitely earned their right to be named Pisgah and also a long term place on my bike.

Forte Pisgah MTB Tires

  • White Brothers Loop 140 TCR 26″ Suspension Fork – Pisgah Mountain Bike trails are for true riders. One has to know how to handle a bike to survive the trials in the Pisgah National Forest. With that in mind, I enjoyed checking out the other racers bikes to see what products they were using. On multiple occasions I spotted a white brothers loop soaking up the roots and rocks at Pisgah. I have been riding the Loop now for about 9 months and with Pisgah to cap off my testing I can honestly say it has earned its keep on the front of my bike. The fork just works, it comes out of the box ready to go and it isn’t overly complicated with buttons, knobs, dials, and levers everywhere. In most cases, with such long days on the trail with varying terrain, I could just set the threshold damper all the way and leave it all day.

  • Shimano XTR RD-M985 Shadow Plus Rear Derailleur – As I am sure you know by now, the trails at Pisgah are tough, rugged, yet rewarding. I was glad to have the XTR Shadow Plus rear derailleur. I imagine the sound of chain slap would have driven me crazy by the end of the 5 day event. This technology is here to stay, as SRAM now has a similar feature in their TYPE 2 models. I did have to add some tension on one occasion during the week with the built in tool. I am curious to try out the SRAM version to see how it holds up because I am not sure how many seasons the Shimano mechanism will make it through.

Shimano XTR RD-M985 Shadow Plus Rear Derailleur

  • Shimano XT PD-M785 MTB Trail Pedals – Slippery Roots, skinny trails, creek crossings, and mud strewn singletrack call for two things when it comes to pedals; secure footing and mud clearance. The XT trail pedal has both.

  • DT Swiss Tricon XM1550 Wheels –  As mentioned before, the Mountain Bike Trails at Pisgah are tough. They will test a rider and the bike to the limits. The trails are laced with rock gardens, roots, drops, and high speed descents with all of the above. I was riding these wheels to find out if we should bring them in to our product lineup, and these wheels took it all in stride. They are very stiff with a low weight, the perfect combo for a multiday stage race. After multiple encounters with rocks, roots, and drops they are still spinning true.
  • Brakes – We quickly realized how important brakes are at Pisgah. If you don’t know what I am talking about, see the post on Stage One. I began the race with the new Magura MT series disc brake. They are light weight and have great modulation. Once the pads were gone after stage one and no shops in town had a replacement set of pads (keep this in mind when gathering spare parts to bring to an event), I had to switch over the set of Shimano XTR BR-M988 Hydraulic Disc Brakes for Trail off of the spare bike. The Shimano brakes were a little heavier than the Magura’s; however, the increased power and finned pads were welcomed on the steep mountain descents. My verdict: All Mountain Riding: Nothing beats the power and cooling technology of the XTR’s. Cross Country Riding: Light weight and superior modulation make the Magura MT series a top contender.
  • Grips – I was fortunate enough to try out both the Ergon GS1 and GA1 grips throughout the stage race. My thoughts. The Ergon GA1 is labeled as All Mountain and it is when compared to the other grips in the Ergon line. I loved the feel and shape of the grip. The contour through the palm was excellent, as it filled the gap you normally find in the center of your palm when wrapped around a bar. These grips excelled on the descents, dampening vibrations and providing a solid feel.  These have made a permanent home on my bike.The Ergon GS1 grips have a larger surface area for your hand to rest on. Some people love these grips and use them on all their bikes; however, they are not for me. I enjoyed them on the climbs, being able to adjust my position and rest my hand some. On the other hand, with the steepness of the descents, I found myself sliding forward and with nothing to really wrap around I had to hold on much more tightly to keep my weight back on the bike. I had the feeling on many occasions that I was going to slide over the bars. These may be for you if your typical rides aren’t as steep on the downhill sections.

Ergon GA1 grips

  • Rockshox Reverb Adjustable Seatpost – This is one item I would not do the Pisgah Stage Race without. Having the ability to lower my seat to clear so many trail obstacles was priceless. I am not the only one who feels this way. Just ask most mountain bike riders and they will tell you their dropper post is their most favorite piece of equipment. The RockShox Reverb set the bar high and is one of the best dropper posts in the market.

  • Devinci Dixon- It was a blast riding this bike at Pisgah. Even though the Devinci Dixon is made in Canada, I think it was built with the Pisgah trails in mind. What a bike. The split pivot suspension design works very well under power and braking. My consensus for the race; Most others brought the efficient climber (29er hardtail) to race on with the thought they would just suffer through the descents.  The climbs were difficult in that everyone suffered, no matter the bike. Therefore, I was one of the few having a blast on the Dixon bombing down Farlow and Pilot Rock. If having fun, ripping down world class singletrack is your thing; you must try the Devinci Dixon.

2012 Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race Final Preview

A more detailed write-up of the final stage and a full race retrospective including in depth product reviews is on the way. We didn’t want to leave you in suspense however, so let it be known that we held onto second place duo team. If you just can’t wait to learn more about Pisgah Stage 5, check out Cycling Dirt’s video recap here (you’ll notice one particular Team Performance cyclist bravely pulling the field at about 1:16).

More to come!

2012 Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race – Stage 4 – Deathmarch

If any of you remember our coverage from the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race from two years ago, you may remember that Team Performance had a VERY rough stage 4. We limped across the line after 7 hours and 30 minutes of the most difficult riding we had ever done. Having that experience going into stage 4 2012 created a sense of dread as we lined up for the start.

The stage was basically identical so we knew in advance that we had to start by climbing the steep side of Black Mountain.

We sat in the pack and quietly hoped that the third place duo team was suffering as much as we were.

Black Mountain eventually gave way to Turkey Pen Gap. Todd (the race organizer) called this section of trail the most “back woods” section of the race and he wasn’t kidding. The trail was so overgrown that riders could barely see a couple of feet in front of their front wheels. This didn’t decrease the technical nature of Pisgah Forest, so it was a game of reflexes trying to stay upright.

Once through the dense Turkey Pen Gap we headed back onto Squirrel Gap. This time we rode it the other direction and it was dry. What a difference! We were cleaning lines that only days ago we had to walk.

At the end of the day we solidified our lead over third place (and lost even more time to the first placed team). Tomorrow brings the climb up Laurel Mountain and the Pilot Rock descent. It’s going to be a brutal day but at least it won’t be snowing!

2012 Pisgah MTB Stage Race – Easy Day?

We were informed last night by the Pisgah Stage Race director that today would be the easy day. Let’s just say that an “easy day” in the Pisgah Stage Race is one of the most difficult days back home! While there were some lovely high speed sections, we also encountered the usual Pisgah Stage Race mountain climbs where only the strongest riders can power up while staying in the saddle. But first let’s take a look at some videos from Stage 2. Here’s the start of the stage:

A quick view in the pack mid-race:

And then the madness that is Farlow Gap:

Now let’s get back to the third stage – our day started like every other.

We pulled into the start about 30 minutes before the gun fired thanks to one wrong turn on our way in. That still left us enough time to get ready and warm up a little before the start.

The Performance Team felt strong today, now three days in. We know you are wondering, and yes we were able to put a little time back in between us and the third place team. The cheering section out there was also in full regalia:

The course was the usual mix of rocks, roots, and stream crossings.

Tomorrow we’re going to work on capturing some video as we tackle the stage that everyone calls the most difficult stage in the race. In the meantime, you can find us doing us what we do best in the latest video from Cycling Dirt here. (That would be eating)

The product of the day is Paceline Eurostyle Chamois Butt’r.

If there’s one product that I (Christopher) would not be able to live without at an event like this, it would be good chamois cream. Paceline’s Eurostyle has just the slightest hint of the cooling effect that differentiates it from non-eurostyle types of cream. It’s not overpowering and it really does last a very long time. Proper “body” care is absolutely essential to surviving an event this long and difficult and my care starts with Paceline.

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