Friday, July 22, 2011

The RDO has landed

Most of you who know me know that I’m pretty loyal to the Niner brand. The only non-Niner I’ve owned in the last 4 years is the Superfly I bought while the Jet was undergoing its redesign and I was battling some nerve damage in my foot. Until recently my Niner fleet consisted of a Jet9, Sir9, and Air9, with the Jet9 being my hands-down favorite! So, when word hit the street that Niner was coming out with a carbon version of the Jet9 I knew I had to have one. I immediately called Cody at Ballwin Cycles and told him to put my name on the list. A few days later the boys at Ballwin told me Niner was going to be shipping these frames out mid-July. I was now very excited!! When Niner released the new Air9 Carbon those frames didn’t ship until months after orders were placed.

I had been thinking about going 2x10 lately. So, with the new frame coming and the fact that I had just trashed my rear-derailleur I took that as a sign.

I went ahead and ordered a new XO 2x10 drivetrain. The wheels, fork, seat, and cockpit would come over from the current Jet9.

It was June 16th when I officially place my order for the RDO and on Tues Jul 19th I got the call from Cody that the new RDO frame was in! Needless to say, I was walking in Ballwin Cycles front door 20 mins later to see the pure goodness for myself!

Cody stayed at the shop until 7pm and finished the build on it for me so I could take it out for its maiden voyage. Niner has addressed the main cabling issue seen on the Air9 Carbon so running the cables was pretty simple. It really helped that they had these nylon liners already in the frame, so all we had to do was feed the cables through those and it was done. Cody had to then feed some housing through the chainstay but that was pretty painless too. We did quickly realize that you need to keep the crank off to do this, but at least you don’t have to take the BB out like on the Air9 Carbon.
I didn’t waste any time getting home and out to the trail for 2 reasons. 1. I was like a kid at Christmas and couldn’t wait to play with my new toy. 2. Niner had a contest going on their Facebook page giving away a free messenger bag to the first rider to post a pic of the RDO from the trail. ... and yes, I did win the Niner Facebook contest! :)
I’m not much of a bike reviewer but so far this bike is exceeding my expectations! I had concerns that the RDO frame wouldn’t ride like the original Jet9 - I just love the way the Jet9 handles. It’s so agile and responsive. My concerns about the RDO not measuring up were quickly squashed. The RDO handles just as well while it also just feels lighter and even more responsive. It does seem to have a slightly different fit from the Jet9, but I until I get everything dialed in I can’t really tell where those differences are. The new Fox Float RP23 with Kashima coating is absolutely amazing. This thing just absorbs the trail and allows me to power over roots and rocks without causing me to skip a pedal stroke. Plus, I’m amazed how much better the RDO climbs. The CVA suspension married to this carbon frame was immediately evident on the first climb.

Next stop is the Wausau 24-hour race on July 30th-31st. Todd Hecht, Mitch Johnson and I will be heading up to Wi for this race. Mitch and Todd went last year and said it was one of the best events and trails they’ve ever been to. Coming from those guys, I couldn’t pass it up this year. Not sure any of us are gunning for the entire 24-hour race at this point in the year, but it’s going to be good training for the DINO 24-hour coming up in September.

Thank you Niner and Ballwin Cycles!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mission Double-Berryman

I've ridden 50+ miles on the mountain bike many times. I've successfully ridden the 24-mile Berryman trail many times. But never have I had enough time, courage, chamois butter or will to ride two Berryman loops back-to-back.

But on this day in June I chose to make it my mission. Dave Hagan accompanied me on the trip. However, he was going to have to return to STL after lap 1 for a family obligation.

After unsuccessfully being able to complete even one lap a couple weeks prior when my rear derailleur snapped, I was really looking forward to some revenge!

(The carbon cage and bottom pulley were shattered)

Lap 1 with Dave went great. There are quite a few trees down on the trail between Brazil Creek and Berryman, but we weren't out to break any speed records so it was ok. The re-routes after Berryman were in great shape. I couldn't believe how wide some of the sections are.

Dave headed home while I started lap 2. Everything was going well until just after Berryman when I heard that awful 'pssssss!' sound. Yep, slit my front tire and it was a big tear. I had a boot, but the tear was pretty big.

I had a choice to make. Double back less than 1 mile to the road and ride that back - just like I did a couple weeks prior or risk continuing on the trail, away from the road, hoping the boot would hold. I chose to bail to the road and take the 5-mile death march back on the road.

My double-Berryman would have to wait for another day. I know Dwayne does these before breakfast on most days, but for some reason they elude me!

Friday, July 8, 2011

For Noah

Our thoughts are with Dwayne, Betina, and Lukas during this tough time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting caught up....

The 2011 racing season has kicked off pretty miserably. This season is quite a bit different than how 2010 started. I took a lot of time off the bike from Nov – Jan and I could tell a difference. My fitness wasn’t quite where it was this time last year.

Season Prep -

Karen and I recently took on the ‘Clean’ diet to help us shed some of those leftover holiday pounds and get a jump start on the season. I’ll admit that a three week program of only eating one meal a day with two smoothies was quite scary. I’m addicted to food and am proud to admit it! The first few days were brutal. I thought about eating my own fist at one point! But after those first few days it got quite easier. We were both amazed by how well we felt each day and how much more energy we actually had during the day. I didn’t find myself constantly yawning during the day. I wound up dropping almost 20 lbs!

Racing begins:


Spa City 6-hour – What an awesome race on some fantastic trails. Hot Springs, AR is a really cool town with a really nice mountain bike park just outside of the hold historic downtown area. My performance was horrible. The race started with me redlining myself like an EPO-induced pro! Yeah, that didn’t last long. The effects of not training this Winter hit me smack in the face. Steve, Pete, Dave, and Karen all did really well.

Leadbelt UFD – This race was pure training given it was the day after Spa City so I decided to race Cat-2/Sport class. My legs felt surprisingly well and wound up 4th in the 40-49 group. No way I could have raced Marathon though.


Ouachita – I love doing this race, but this year it didn’t like me. Fitness still wasn’t there for me. I struggled from the start. My finish time was 7:57, 75 minutes slower than last year!

AR vacation – Karen and I had planned on doing Syallmo 24 again this year. It’s the weekend after Ouchita so we were going to stay down in AR for the week. We both decided not to do Syallmo but wanted to stay down in AR to ride the great trails down there. Turns out after the Ouachita pre-race raffle we also wound up with a 3-day/2-night stay in an absolutely fantastic cabin at Mountain Harbor Resort. So we made Mountain Harbor home for a few days and rode all the trails around there. We each road about 3-5 hours per day. Plus, on our way home we rode 2-days at Syallmo. I was finally getting my base mileage up!


Greensfelder – This race was the weekend before Syallmo’s Revenge so I just wanted to get some saddle time in. Turned out the conditions were wet/sloppy due to an overnight rain. So I quit after two laps to avoid trashing myself and the bike any further.

Syallmo – I was really excited about this race having never done it before. After seeing how the awesome the trails were when we were down there in April I couldn’t wait to race on them. My goal was to finish in under 6 hours. The conditions were a little wet as they usually are but the weather was awesome! But the race almost didn’t happen for me. 15 mins before the start of the race I realized I’d left my mtb shoes up at the cabin! Oh #$%#$%#$!!!! I hopped in the car and flew up to the cabin and back, had to drive through the racers lining up at the start, through a grass field, over a curb and back in to my parking spot where I layed my bike in hopes no one would take the spot. I made it to the starting line with 2 mins to spare but no warm-up… oh well, the upcoming 1 mile hill climb would solve that.

(My attitude before realizing I forgot my shoes!)

I was feeling strong 10 miles in, then 20, 30, then 40. I could really tell that the weight I’d lost was helping me. By about 45 miles I’d had no technical issues or flats and was eyeing a strong finish. Then, sure enough… flat! I got it changed pretty quickly and caught back up with some of the guys that passed me. Then, flat AGAIN!! This one took a little longer as I now had a slit in my tire that needed a boot. I’m not sure why but I don’t carry tire boots – but I will now. I used a Ziploc baggie I had on me and folded it over several times hoping it would provide enough protection for me to finish the final 4-5 miles.

Fortunately, the baggie tire boot worked but I don’t recommend it. I finished in 5:35 crushing my goal, even with my 2 flats. Karen did really well too and beat her individual goal.

Indian Camp Creek 3/6 Hour – I wouldn’t be racing this race since I was the co-race director along with John Peiffer. This was a true team effort. Mitch Johnson and Greg Ott put in a ton of time working on the trails. Karen helped out with a bunch of things including swag bag stuffing and scoring sheets with help from Loreen Mattson. The weather was really scaring the crap out of us leading up to the race, but by some magical powers that MashOr pulled out of his a$$ the trails were in perfect shape on race day and the race was on. What a fantastic day of racing with only a minor issue from Mother Nature at the end of the day. But I’ll write more about this event in a later post. The unfortunate part for me, was during the weeks leading up to and after this race I didn’t get a lot of riding in.


Family vacation put us all out on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Every 2 years my entire family: mom, stepdad, sisters, bro-in-laws, nieces, and nephews, all go on vacation together. We rented an amazing 4-story house right on the beach and had a blast for a whole week. Karen and I brought our road bikes along. She did more riding than I did as she was able to tolerate the flat, straight, windy roads much more easily than I – too boring! But I still got in two 2+ hour rides. But still my longest ride lately has been Syallmo nearly 4 weeks prior.

Then…. Sick – Picked up a bad chest cold. Up all night coughing, hacking up my lungs and not able to do any intensity w/o my lungs burning intensely!

Next up on my schedule are two local races: Castlewood and Brommelsiek, before the big Wausaw 24-hour race in Wisconsin at the end of July. I may not even attempt the full 24-hour race given my recent lack of training and illness but I’m really looking forward to the trip with Mitch and Todd Hecht. They both say it’s a pro race on a fantastic trail.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Snow + ice = Trainer

Man, this weather is killing me. I'm finally trying to get my butt in gear and fire up the training but Mother Nature is insistent on giving us a Winter we'll remember.

Karen and I got out on Saturday for about 30 miles on the good ol' backrounds around Highland, IL after buying a new refridgerator.

Sunday, Todd Hecht joined us and a group of others for the Gravel Grinder in Hermann. Needless to say, it was an adventure. We got lost, found, then lost again. But 34 miles later we rolled back into Hermann, had a beer, some grub, and headed back to STL.

So, at least I got some outside miles in before committing myself to the trainer!

I'm so ready to take out the new weapon this year and flow on some singletrack. "New Weapon" you ask?!!? Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Council Bluff madness

The ICCC Council Bluffs race was the last UFD race of the year. I was looking forward to it initially to get some hot laps in before Burnin'. I got my wish and they chose to run the race in the same direction as Burnin'.

Unfortunately, my legs were still not recovered from the 24-hour 2 weeks before. But we wanted to go to the race no matter what since it would be Casey's last race this year and her last race in the 'Kids' category. We're really looking forward to her racing Junior next year! - but moms pretty nervous. Casey of course did great on a short but very tough course and got 1st place. Unfortunately, she didn't have much competition but it was a 'kids' race.

Karen made the race-time decision to not race due to her legs not being recovered from the 24. So she was there cheering us on.

I chose to race Cat-2/Sport so I'd only have to do 1 lap at a minimum instead of possibly 3 if I did Marathon.

My race started with a sprint down the pavement, do a u-turn, and head back down the road onto the singletrack. Right after the race director yelled 'Go' I knew it wouldn't be a good day for me. I stood up to sprint but the legs just didn't want to respond. They were 2-ton bricks! The majority of the field took off in front of me.

I entered the single-track mid-pack. After about 2 miles, I started to feel my legs coming back. I started passing guys I didn't expect to be passing. I wound up catching up to Steve Freidman from Ballwin Cycles. Steve and I have ridden together in the last few races. He's a very strong single-speeder. So, I knew I was starting to rally. But I couldn't pass him. The legs didn't have it. We hit the long climb to the finish and I just let Steve go. There was no way I was going to take him.

Surprisingly, I wound up finishing 3rd overall and 2nd in the 40-49 category 2 minutes behind Jeff Powell. I was very surprised by my finish. Maybe my legs weren't as bad as I thought?!

The race was a blast though. Thanks to ICCC and Rich Pierce for putting it on!