Sunday, July 26, 2009

South Carolina 2010 Guided Mountain Bike Tour

Why be here

When you could be here (Issaqueena)

or here (Pisgah)

or here (Dupont)

Put the mountain in mountain biking. New for 2010, guided mountain bike tour.
Come spend a week with me and another coach in beautiful South Carolina. In the spirit of affordability I have come up with a good solution to the traditional cycling tour.

What is provided:
-4 days of guided riding at Issaqueena, Tsali, Dupont, and Pisgah
-Accomodations for the week in the beautiful 5000 square foot house
-Training program guidelines and advice for the season if required
-Full service by a trained bicycle mechanic, me
-Rides include intermediate to advanced instruction when required
-Instructors are first aid certified
-End of week BBQ and celebration on Friday

Arrive on the Saturday and stay till the next Saturday, a full week! The plan is to spend Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday out on trail. Average ride is targeted for 4 hours. This is aimed at intermediate level riders with a decent fitness base who are wanting to take their singletrack riding and fitness to the next level. All options including coaching and instruction and even participation are just that, options. So if you feel tired that day and would rather do your own thing you are welcome to. Or if you just want to get in some amazing singletrack without all of the coaching and instruction well that's fine too. Come out and enjoy some of the finest mountain biking North America has to offer. It's no wonder why I am going back for my 6th year in a row! South and North Carolina feature epic ridge riding at Tsali, huge slick rock trails at Dupont, technicaly abundant riding at Pisgah, and super fast snaking singletrack at Issaqueena. Amazing vistas are absolutely awe inspiring and beautiful weather will put a smile on your face year after year. I will show you the best of the best.

What is not provided:

Bring your own car and buy your own groceries. This keeps my overhead low which saves you hundreds of dollars and me a logistical nightmare. Convoy to the trailhead in your own vehicle.

April 3rd - 10th
$450 Canadian

Ben Dawson
705 229 6923

Race Prep Pro

Race Prep Pro is a concept I have conceived through my experiences not only as a bicycle mechanic but also as an elite level mountain bike racer. The idea is to provide thorough and professional service to all riders regardless of ability level. As a racer and bike fanatic I know what it takes to keep a bike in flawless running condition. I expect nothing less than perfection from my components. I have put this together in a package that is competitively priced and not currently offered by traditional bicycle service shops. Whether you’re all thumbs, have no time, desire, or interest in keeping your bike tuned you can still experience and appreciate the benefits of having it done. Race Prep Pro is not limited to racing or mountain bikes. This service is perfect for getting your bike ready for the big day, bringing life back to a newly acquired used bike, getting your bike ready to sell, or giving your bike the attention it deserves. It is the complete package.

Race Prep Pro is $100 and includes
Thorough bike cleaning
Full drivetrain cleaning – Cassette, chain, chainrings, pulleys
Full drivetrain lubing
New shifter housing and quality stainless cables installed
Derailleur Adjustment – Front and back
Derailleur hanger alignment
Brake caliper cleaning and alignment
Headset cleaning and adjustment
Bottom Bracket cleaning and adjustment
Wheel true
Hub cleaning and adjustment
Recommendations for components requiring replacement
Installation of new components (provided by you) such as
-Grips/Grip Tape
*Approx service time 4-6 hours*

Thorough drivetrain cleaning and checkup

Thorough bike cleaning and detailing.

New shifter housing and stainless cables included in cost and installed.

All components tested and properly adjusted.

The results!

Other services are also available for an extra fee and done through Hardwood Ski and Bike. These include
Brake Bleed
Hydraulic brake hose shortening
Brake cable and housing replacement
Any required parts not supplied

I live in Barrie about 10minutes from Hardwood Ski and Bike. You can book your service for a variety of times including the race site the day before on pre-ride days for many mountain bike races. I am fairly flexible. Contact me to schedule your Race Prep Pro service.

Ben Dawson
705 229 6923

Monday, July 20, 2009

O-Cup #5. Buckwallow

Ok the Tour sucks tonight because of the radio protest so I'll do my Buckwallow O-Cup impressions/experiences.
Sooooo Buckwallow O-Cup. Traditionally not my best race since there is little to be found in the way of climbing and I've never really considered myself to be the greatest technical singletrack rider. Went up to pre-ride on Thursday and Saturday before the race. Went for 2 days of pre-riding just because it's so damn fun to ride there. I always have a great time and I'm really happy it's a stop on the O-Cup circuit even though I'm not very good at it lol.
I've also been somewhat out of shape lately. The only good training I've had in the past couple weeks has been the race at St. Felicien. I think I sort of rode myself back into shape at that race after my summer cold.
Legs were feeling very good that morning and the few days leading up to the race. Was pretty relaxed about the whole thing and was just looking forward to cranking it out on the awesome course. I found my legs were very good for most of the race and my singletrack riding was a thing of beauty. I was passing people like crazy the first lap and worked my way from almost the back of the pack to 16th. On the 2nd lap I got caught by a train of 3. Stuck with them for 1/2 a lap or so but knew I was faster in the singletrack so I took to the front before the more technical 1:30pm split and got a good gap after that section and didn't really see any of those riders again (though to Haydn's credit he had me on the run on the last lap). I was 16th at the end of the 1st lap, 12th at the end of the 2nd, 8th at the end of the 3rd. Sorta went bad just as I was starting the 4th lap. My legs were completely shot. I thought I was going to go backwards very quick and lose a bunch of spots, didn't even know if I could finish. I decided to stick it out and suffer for the next hour. I only lost 2 spots and was relegated to 10th but still amazed I didn't lose more spots. I am paying for it now though cause boy my legs are sore. Was mostly my quads that crapped out and I couldn't stand and pedal the last 2 laps but could still sit and use my hamstrings efficiently. Lets just say I was glad I had the extra travel of the new Anthem X since I had to sit through almost everything.
So pretty much that's how it went. My singletrack riding was phenomenal and saved my ass from my lack of fitness which I hope to correct in the next couple weeks just in time for the next one. August 9th is MountainView and I think I have a good shot there at doing well since it is a bit of a climbers course. I think the fact that I haven't ridden my road bike in about a month has contributed to my great bike handling skills and killed my fitness.
Anyways looking forward to the next one.
Until then.........

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Testing: Joe's No Flats Tubeless Conversion Kit

Ok so I was given a Joe's No Flats kit last year to try out. The opportunity for me to use it really hasn't presented itself so I decided to let a co-worker of mine try it out on his DH rig. I figured what better way to get real world feedback then with a downhiller since they are pretty hard on their equipment and prone to punctures. In fact this rider was complaining of constant punctures so we'll see how he likes the added protection and ability to run lower pressures.
Kit comes very complete. Here's what's included:
Big Bottle of sealant - 500mL
Small measuring bottle
Rim prep tape
Rubber rim strip with attached valve stem
Instructions in many languages
Spare valve cores

Also I received 2 different widths of rubber rim strips to accommodate any application I would encounter.

So I'm going to come clean here. The sealant I used in this install was Stan's. I have already used the bottle of Joe's to seal up my tubeless tires to my tubeless rims on my race bike. I can report that it works just as well as Stan's. Seems a little stickier and seems to bond more to the tire once the liquid has evaporated. Didn't really notice if this was a good or bad thing compared to how Stan's sets up. So I already know that the sealant works well whereas I'll have to wait until Brian the guinea pig gets back to me with his impressions of the strips in a couple weeks.

First step is to remove the tire and check the rim tape. I found the tape he had on to be a little wide and didn't want it to interfere with the rubber rim strip so we decided to use the provided rim tape which has a lower profile.

Here is the installation of the rim tape. Just like a normal tape. Just do one wrap, should be enough to cover the spoke holes. Take a knife or screwdriver and cut a hole for the valve stem. Make sure not to dislodge the tape if you are doing it with a dull screwdriver.

Next install the rubber rim strip. The valve is attached right to the strip so feed the valve into the rim first and go from there. Keep even pressure as you seat the strip into the rim. You sorta have to let it slide in your hands or you'll end up with a big loop of slack strip. Here is was just making sure the rubber was tucked under the bead lock on the rim so that it wouldn't protrude once the tire was on.

Next put the tire on. We used levers to finish it off. I've never really damaged a tire or rim so that it couldn't be sealed when using levers. I think as long as you are careful and only use nylon ones then you will be fine.

Measure out the correct amount of sealant. I used the Stan's cup but with the Joe's No Flats kit you can use the measuring bottle which is handy. They tell you to seat the tire first then remove the valve core and squirt the sealant in through there yada yada yada. I just simplify this step and add the sealant while one bead it still off the rim. Just be careful not to dump it out when you are putting the other bead of the tire on the rim.
Got the first one to seal up no problem. 2nd one gave us a bit of trouble but we managed to get it to work eventually. The tires were seated using the compressor.

So until I hear back from Brian about the strips I can only comment right now on the sealant. I know what you are thinking, Joe's No Flats??? What a rip off of Stan's No Tubes. I 100% agree. From what I have seen so far it looks and performs extremely similarly so the only reason I would ever buy Joe's over Stan's is if it was significantly cheaper.
Performance gets 8 out of 10
-Works very well just like Stan's. Strips can be a messy pain in the @ss and changing a flat is more of a hassle out on the trail since you have to pull the tape out and keep it in your jersey. So I guess it's not that much more complicated then changing a flat with tubes.
*Update on the kit after some ride time.*
Brian reports that he hasn't flatted since we installed the kit. He also likes the lower pressures that he can run with less risk of failure. He does report some burping of air but attributes this to the crapply old tire that he is running. It even sealed up some pretty big cuts in the tire, so overall impressions are good at this time. This kit gets 2 big toes up.

Nationals @ St. Felicien

So I am boycotting the rain tonight and am gonna do some core and strength training instead. Also gives me some time to update about Nationals. I knew it was going to be an epic weekend and right from the git-go it didn't disappoint. Rolled out of Barrie at about 5:30am since TomTom calculated a 1138km journey. Got off the 401 at Port Hope to pick up my travel mate Zach where my muffler decided to divorce its long relationship with the rest of the exhaust system. So a quick trip to Zach's barn and we got her all patched up courtesy of some clamps and a can of beans.
Arrived at our B&B at about 7pm after our barnyard vehicle repair set us back an hour and a half. Got out for a quick spin and took in some more of the beautiful scenery that is Northernish Quebec. We were staying with a bunch of team mates so we did a group dinner thing which is where I started hearing stories about the awesome course that had been prepared. Needless to say I was pretty excited to get out there and test the legs after some less than mediocre training from my annual summer cold. For some reason I was feeling good technically, I think the time off gave me time to clear my head.
Pre-riding on Friday was awesome. Probably the best XC course I have ridden to date, a big relief given the amount of time committed to making it out there. There were lots of man made big granite rock gardens and drops and berms. The course snaked around and over and back on itself which was great for spectators too. A couple high speed double track downhills that would feed into the singletrack via huge berms that would keep your momentum uninterrupted. I'd say there were 3 major climbs all in the 2nd half of the lap. The first was a tough singletrack climb that snaked up through the woods. This was followed by a technical descent which came out to an open switchback climb on the face of the ski hill. Then after a fast switchback descent we headed right back up a pretty steep climb that went straight up most of the hill only to come right back down the most technical descent of the race which brought you back to the start/finish. Not very much rest on this course.
There was rain the night before and rain that morning just before the race. About 1.5 hours before our 2pm start I decided to switch to my 2.0 Bontrager Mud X's. Sure they are aggressive but the roots and rocks were angry that day. Due to the insane amount of course prep the course pretty much stayed dry. There were a couple greasy climbs and descents but nothing that really got flung up and collected on the bike. I was still glad I had the mud tires on though, they really didn't roll that bad either. Anyway I had a pretty good start and stayed about mid pack most of the race. The Espoirs were flying and I got passed by a bunch of them. I finished mid pack as well, 28th out of about 50ish I think. Not my best finish at Nats but I was pleased because I felt I had a good ride. I can't remember in recent history being so tired after a race, it was just relentless.
Drive home was thankfully uneventful and the can of beans seems to be up to the challenge until I can find a used exhaust somewhere for cheap. So in short I am very glad I made the journey and if you can only make it out to one Quebec race next year then I would highly recommend going to St. Felicien.
See you next time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Stuff Happens

So here it is, middle of summer............well I guess technically start of summer but I think we've all been in the summer mentality for a while despite the weather thinking differently. What better time to get a cold? Ok so the timing could have been better but also could have been much worse.
Starting feeling it late Monday, now I did a 2 hour ride in the pouring rain that day so that probably didn't help my cause but I was going to get sick regardless. Now if you know me at all you know that I get sick like this a couple times a year and I really don't get over it very well. Last summer I had the same thing a little later in the year, took me 3 weeks to get over it.
Soo that brings me to now, 5 days later. I am still stuffed up but my general feeling of crappiness and disorientation seems to be subsiding. Going to get out a lot on the mountain bike this week to get ready for Nationals. I know it's not the best strategy to take almost a week off the bike just before Nats but really I am just glad that I will probably be 95+% healthy for the race even if my legs aren't ideal.
Timing wise I did have to miss the Canada Cup finals in Bromont this weekend which is a bummer. I think they are using the World Cup course for it so it would have been nice to get some laps in on that. Maybe I will tour down there to spectate the World Cup and cheer on the Canadian riders.
Going to head to Buckwallow tomorrow and get in a nice long ride. Should be easy on the stagnant legs and start to get me back up to speed bike handling wise. First ride there on the Anthem X, the added travel will be appreciated.

Tune in next time.