Sunday, August 26, 2012

Redline Conquest - New 'Cross Iron

Cyclocross season is just around the corner and with that, Racer Boy Ian needed a new ride since outgrowing his 44cm Redline Conquest Pro, that he raced last season.  The Conquest Pro, a 2010 model, was bought used off a fellow junior teammate and worked well.

My original plan was to score a bigger 'cross frame and move everything over - since the Conquest Pro sports some nice SRAM Rival running gear.  After checking his team deals, online offers, and local shop stock - wound up scoring a very nice deal on a new 2011 Redline Conquest from my pals who own Bicycles West, a chain of stores here in the Seattle area.  Good folks, ring 'em if you're in the market for any bike goodies.

Ian's new ride for 'cross this year poses for photos.  The fast growing 13 year old now riding a 52cm frame.  Aluminum frame, carbon fork, decent components and wheelset.

Shimano 105 rear derailleur mounted to replaceable dropout.

FSA Vero crankset, a bit low spec with old school square tapered BB, but totally useable, plus correct 172.5 crank length.  I might swap this out for a lighter, hollow axle crankset - maybe.

Kenda Small Block 8 tires - nice for dry courses.  I dig 'em on my 29er.

Shimano Tiagra shifters.  9 speeds of Shimano smoothness.

The Conquest is one model below his previous Conquest Pro, so maybe a pound heavier.  Still completely race ready and a nice bike, especially since it probably won't fit Ian next 'cross season.  I'll put up his 44cm Conquest Pro up for sale soon, and that should cover the cost of the new 'cross bike - since we scored deals for both.  Not bad, eh?

The new bike has been a 20+ mile road ride, some backyard barrier practice, and one official team 'cross practice/ride session.  It works and fits Ian well.  Only complaint is the taller gearing.  I'll swap out the rear 25 cassette for a 28, or change the inner 36 tooth chainring for a 34.  I'll also need to score some mud ready tires for the season.  Otherwise, full steam ahead.

Race reports to follow...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sandy Ridge Trail System - Sandy, Oregon

I've been on vacation for a bit, so decided to hit the Mount Hood area for a few days with the family.  We've never visited that area of Oregon, so when the wife scored some killer online deal for a resort in the area, we packed up the race ready Toyota wagon for the four hour drive south. Of course, bikes loaded on roof rack, ready for new trails.  Away we roll.

Resort turned out to be on a golf course, nothing wrong with that, even if golf ain't my bag (Ha, get it?).  And yes, I've golfed a few times via work related shindigs, so I have tried it.  Different strokes for different folks (Ha, get it?).  We did score a few nice meals outside overlooking the golf course and mountains, so not too shabby, even if golf does nothing but remind me of Caddyshack.

Okay, enough talk about golf, this is supposed to be a bike blog, enjoyed by millions of viewers (Ha, get it?).  With shared family vacation festivities and short amount of time available, Ian and I had to pick a location for one afternoon of mountain bike adventure.  After some online cruising and visit to the local ranger station, decided on the Sandy Ridge Trail System, just a short drive from our very golf oriented hotel. Sandy Ridge being a "mountain bike park", we figured on some easy trails to buzz around on for a few hours.  The word 'Foofy" even came up thinking perhaps even a bit boring.  Oh, how wrong we were, in a really good way...

After parking at the very new looking trailhead, complete with paved lot and rest rooms, studied the trail map and headed out.  Even with this being a weekday afternoon, a few other riders in the lot as well.  Appears to be a popular place.  Discovered most of the trails are downhill oriented and require about a 4 mile pavement climb to the top.  Homestead Road is gated and closed to general traffic, so almost like a bike path, though we spotted a few government type trucks.  Not a bad climb though and a good warm up, as Ian demonstrates above.

Finally at the top, the entrance to the fun.  Info board, bike rack, and bench as proof.  Nice.  I should also mention it was sunny, clear, and about 63 degrees.  Perfect day.  We roll into our first trail labeled Three Thirty Eight Loop.  Fun, technical, rocky singletrack greets us.  Cool. Mostly downhill, then loops back with a slight climb.

Loads of sweeping berms in the park, along with technical trails.

Trails are well marked, basically impossible to get lost.

We linked the Three Thirty Eight Loop to Quid Pro Flow.  The top section sports some technical rocky sections, at least technical for XC types like Ian and I.  Then after that, Holy Crap Batman, what a fun trail.  Downhill, big roller jumps, linked banked turns and more singletrack frolicking.  Without even knowing what was ahead, Ian and I ended this trail laughing and smiling.  Fast 'N' Fun for sure.

We then rode Three Thirty Eight Loop again to link to Hide and Seek Trail, the longest trail in the park.  Man, another fun trail, 3.5 downhill miles of technical rocky singletrack, more sweeping berms, and smaller roller jumps.  Mega fun, even though I clipped my shoe against something solid at speed - probably a rock - bashing my pinkie toe big time.  I didn't even stop, just glanced down to see if my Sidi was ripped open - nope. Even a throbbing toe couldn't wipe the smile off my face.  Awesome trail.

Another section of the Hide and Seek Trail.  "Foofy" trails these are not.  We did hit the easy Laura's Loop before heading back to the parking lot. Easy cruise to end the ride.

Map of the trail system, you can trace the route we pulled off.  If I did it again, would have sampled Communication Breakdown into the mix.  If I had more time, would like to check all the trails eventually.  I think our total mileage for the day was around 15 miles, which doesn't sound like a lot, but with the climb and very technical terrain, not a bad gig at all.  Fantastic day of riding.

Huge kudos to the folks who put this park together, lots of work involved.  If you're from the Seattle area, think of a giant Duthie mixed with Tiger Mountain, to get an idea of what Sandy Ridge is like.  All the jumps can be rolled, so even old school XC types like me on a hardtail 29er with a whopping 80mm of fork travel can have a good time - though this kind of place even gets me thinking of long travel suspension, full face helmet and pads.

Ian (13 years old) is also a XC rider/racer on a 26" wheel hardtail, though he can now completely kick my ass on technical downhills.  I couldn't even keep him sight on this ride.  He rode really well, while I occasionally floundered like the 51 year old XC wannabe race geek that I am.  After the ride, two folks in the parking lot seemed surprised we hit the more difficult trails on our XC steeds.  Not a big deal and shows this park can be enjoyed by most mountain bikers.

Overall, this place gets two thumbs up.  I'd be sure to hit it again when in the area.  Big fun.  I didn't take many pics during the ride - didn't wanna stop!  Google search will get you plenty of pics and videos from other folks to give you a better idea.

On the way back to Golf Land, stopped at a local Mexican place for wild boar tacos, perfect ending for the day.  Chalk up another fantastic father/son mountain bike adventure for the memory banks.  Until next time...

Performance Access XCL Comp - # 2

Racer Boy Ian continues to grow as most 13 year olds are apt to do.  My plan to keep swapping his existing Pile-O-Parts from one frame to another is working as planned. Picked up this new Performance Access frame a few weeks ago and moved everything over with no problem. I've built enough bikes over the years now to do this blindfolded...

I did purchase and install a new Cane Creek ZS-3 headset (eBay deal), since I didn't want to remove the headset cups from the previous frame. All the existing cables were too short, but I scrounged enough cable sections from the workbench to run new ones - minus the shifter cables. Picked up a new set from the fine folks at Kirkland Bicycle, a local shop.

Here it sits ready to roll.  This frame measures 18.5" center to top (of seat tube) and 16" center to center.  Top tube is around 23" and overall fits 5' 6" Ian pretty well with a little growing room left over.  This model arrives with a multi color paint job, which conveniently matches his team kit.  I think it would look better with black tires and saddle, but the red Panaracers are almost new and that's a high end Fizik saddle - so they'll both stay.

His first Performance Access frame was a 14" which amazingly he rode and raced for two years.  The 16" Sette Reken frame I recently built up, only lasted a few months - since I let it sit boxed in the garage too long - combined with a growth spurt.  We'll see how long this new Performance frame lasts and/or fits.  I'm hoping at least a year, maybe two if lucky.

This '99 era Shimano XTR derailleur - along with the shifters, brakes, wheelset - have now lived on five different frames over the years. Amazing.  Build is the same as the first Access frame I set up in 2010, minus the platform pedals.  Click here for full build details.

Short 4" head tube and integrated headset allow pre-cut 2004 vintage Fox Talus fork to still be used.  The fork has proven to be super durable and continues to impress after many years of use.

Bike has been a few rides now, including this little romp over at Freund Canyon, which was a blast - even if it was 90+ degrees - can you say hot?  Bike feels no different to Ian, just fits better.  I'd say that's a good thing.

If you're looking to build up a nice hardtail XC race or budget bike - depending on the spec - you can't go wrong basing it on the Access frame. Decent welds, light weight, disk and V brake mounts, handles well, and build quality that will amaze you for $180 (on sale).  For keeping a fast growing and fast riding kid on race ready wheels, been fantastic for us.

I'm sure the 29er version would also be a safe bet to build up a nice bike for low dough.  You don't need to spend a ton of money to ride and/or race bikes.  Trust me on that.  The Sette frames also work well.  Check 'em out.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

SOVREN - Pacific Northwest Historics

A few weeks ago, uh - actually July 1st - I headed down to Pacific Raceways to check out a little vintage car racing.  The annual SOVREN event, Pacific Northwest Historics, has been around for many years.  I've always wanted to attend, but have never done so.

This year, having one pal show his old Datsun Roadster and another racing his Datsun 510, gave me the needed motivation to finally hit the event.  On top of that, a coworker pal/fellow photography buff, also planned to be there.  Fun day hanging out with like minded types watching vintage cars circulate the track, snapping pictures, and soaking up the scene.  Certainly not a bad way to spend a day outside, for sure.  Sign me up for next year.

If you're looking for who won what race, look elsewhere.  I basically cruised around all day taking pics, talking to folks, and catching bits of actual racing.  One thing that hits as you wander around the pit area, vintage car racing can be a crazy expensive pursuit.  Very large RVs acting as base camps, huge trailers full of expensive/super nice vintage cars - that will be raced pretty hard.  Some lower budget race setups as well, but overall, large checkbook required for this game.  Great to witness though.  The other thing that hits you - some of these cars are pretty damn loud - and pretty damn fast.  Vintage does not mean slow.

A few words and pics from the day...

My pal Marcelo's very nicely prepped Datsun 510.  When I arrived to the track, car was already totaled from a bad crash earlier in the day.  Very serious crunch into concrete retaining wall, Marcelo walking away with minor concussion symptoms.  Physical and financial ouch on both fronts, said he'll build up another 510 and race again.

For the record, excellent pic of Marcelo's car is not mine, was borrowed from Facebook.  More photos of this fantastic looking 510 found here - courtesy of Northwest Datsun Enthusiasts (NWDE) - the local Datsun club.

My pal Dave's Roadster on display along with other vintage Datsuns, courtesy of his Datsun club.  This Roadster, don't remember the exact year - 1960 something - also sports a rare aftermarket hardtop, that had Datsun fans gawking.  Dave owns multiple Roadsters in various states of repair, this one unrestored and a driver.  Cool little car.

I scored a ride in Dave's Roadster for a few parade laps during a break in the racing, along with my co-worker pal, Scott, seen in the blue Roadster directly ahead of us.  Fun stuff.  I've actually experienced this course before - though a tad faster - a few years ago on two wheels, during a track day aboard my Aprilia Falco SL1000.  Buzzing the track again in Dave's Roadster was a blast and added to the event.  Thanks Dave!

Many interesting cars found throughout the day.  Very cool event.  I took a few zillion pics, narrowed 'em down for a little slideshow.  Enjoy...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Chase - Specialized Ad

First caught this ad during the Tour coverage on Outdoor Life - oops - I mean Versus - uh - make that NBC Sports.  Whatever it's called now. I'm just glad the Tour is still televised here in the good ol' USA, even with the Lance era now officially over.

Back to the ad - cool little film.  And who hasn't had Phil and Paul announce your ride (in your head), no matter what your age.  Being the dad of a cyclist about the same age as this kid hitting the cobbles, puts a smile on my face.

Occasionally, advertisements are actually cool and this would be one of those rare cases.  Nice job Specialized.