Thursday, April 28, 2011

Black on Black...

After deciding that I do indeed like the big wheels, I took advantage of the past three days of rain to give the Unit a makeover. I swaped-out the old Race Face Turbine cranks for my trusty White Industries ENO's, the Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes for Juicy 7 hydraulics, repaired the lock-out on my fork, pulled off the old ragged-out Ergon GX-1's for some Oury Lock-on grips and repainted the frame gloss black & flat black. Stealth and Sexy. Ready for the race at Krug a week from Saturday and Syllamo on the 14th. It's gonna be good!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Now THIS looks like a great time.
 If it's good enough for Cam, it's good enough for you. Who's IN?
The Manimal and I will be there!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hot Laps...

The first day back in the saddle after an endurance race is always a question mark. Fortunately for me it felt like a million bucks. I'm not sure if it was due to the fact that there was no one else on the trail and I was daydreaming or if my body was just craving the burn. Whatever it was, It was worth every peddle stroke.

Kuat NV Review...

First things first. Thanks for checking out my blog and for reading this review on one of the many fine products from Kuat.

A little background qualifications* on me; I've been lugging bikes and all sorts of other gear around on the outside of my many automobiles for the last 20+ years. I have used, owned, sold, bought, destroyed and meticulously inspected all of the higher-end rack company's gear during that time. I know a fair bit about roof and hitch mounted racks from these years of experience. With that said...let get on to the dirt.

Enter the Kuat NV.

Lets start with 'from the box'. There is some assembly required. I feel the assembly of the rack is very straightforward and basic. All tools required to do the work is provided as well as printed instructions. The build can be done by one person with ease. I won't get too deep into the assembly because Kuat has a video of it HERE.
At first sight I thought "Man, this rack is really going to make my car look like crap"...meaning the rack is beautiful. The best looking rack available for sure with it's extruded aluminum arms (which are painted metallic gunmetal) and finished off with orange anodized accents. Very sexy.

Installing the rack on my hitch was E-Z. The Aluminum NV weighed in at easily half the weight of other hitch mounted racks. It was not the two person tug-a-thon that I had experienced in the past with heavy steel systems. Once inserted into the receiver hitch, slide the pin in place and tighten the cam knob and the NV locks into place. This 'cam' expands into your receiver hitch body and makes a super solid bond, keeping your rack, and more importantly your high dollar bike(s) from flopping all over the place as you drive to the trail head - be it on paved roads, gravel or a dirt 4x4 road full of ruts and holes. Bikes stay solid as if welded directly to your auto. I'll go ahead and say it...'Peace of mind'.
Next on the list is getting your bike on the rack. This too is a piece-of-cake. You simply set your tire in place in the custom molded cradle, fold the arm to the sweet spot (top of front tire and fork apex) and click the ratcheting mechanism down into place. This firmly holds the bike in the cradle. Next, step to the back wheel and simply run the ratcheting-strap around the rim/tire and snug it down. Done, ready to roll! You can view another Kuat video to help you understand the installation and use of the NV HERE.
The NV comes standard as a (2) bike carrier. You can also add an additional (2) bike add-on (to the 2" receiver version only). This might be a deciding factor when choosing what version to purchase, or if you are still looking into what sized receiver to put on your auto. I went with the 2" so I could, in the future, make the upgrade to haul (4) bikes.

Another fine feature of the NV is the Trail Doc. The Trail Doc is a neat little arm and clamp that allows you too use your Kuat NV as an on-the-go bike stand, repair stand, show-off-your-sweet-bike stand, etc. Simple and effective in design, the Trail Doc slides up and down to different heights, is safe to use clamped around your seat post (vertically) or around any frame material (horizontally), even carbon frames. I was not sure at first if [this] was a feature I indeed needed, but at a race after receiving my NV, I had to do some last minute pit changes to my bike and the Trail Doc saved my a$$. Since then I use ol' Doc around the house to do regular maintenance on my bikes and have since used it at almost every race. I also found that you can use the Trail Doc when the NV is off of your car and sitting on the ground. Now I use it in the garage or driveway as my go-to repair stand for all occasions.If you already own a tray-style hitch-mounted rack, Kuat offers the Trail Doc as an add-on. Don't miss out!
I ride often enough that I just leave the NV on my van year-round. When I had done this in the past with other hitch racks, they would get ugly and rust. The Aluminum construction of the NV stays looking pretty all year long. I will say that with salt on the roads during winter months, I did have to keep the integrated cable lock-core maintained (simple WD-40 spray) or it would get sticky. The cable lock and locking hitch-pin, both keyed, are nice features that allow you some confidence during those last minute liquor store runs. The NV was a sure bet for all season use.

I was also concerned with how well the NV would tilt out-of-the-way of my rear hatch. I drive a VW Eurovan and the rear door is huge, a monster. The NV easily tilts down and out of the way with the flip of an innovative and easy to use spring-loaded lever. It also folds up and into a vertical position to be stowed for driving w/o bikes. Nice!
The NV works flawlessly with 700c, 29er and 26ers alike, as well as 20" (with supplied adapter). Frame type does not matter because the NV uses your bike's wheels to do the holding, so an awkward shaped suspension frame or women's specific frame is no trouble at all.

Last but not least I want to add that the crew at Kuat headquarters are all top-notch folks. They promote cycling events locally, donate prizes to events all over the globe and are generally just nice to deal with. Warranty issues are never a problem as Kuat wants you happy and out there riding (they are riders too).
If I were to buy a new hitch rack today, it would still be the Kuat NV. An exceptionally functional piece of innovative art that will get your bike to the trail in style; your friends will wish they were you. Do it
My overall rating for the Kuat NV is...
Other resources and information on the NV:
MTBR Review

NV MSRP $549

2-bike add-on MSRP $349
Trail Doc (as an add-on with adapter) MSRP $89

Check out my Kuat Beta Review HERE!

Kuat Innovations LLC,
Springfield, MO.

Toll Free: 1(877)822-5828
Email: info (at) kuatinnovations (dot) com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Soon - Kuat NV Review...

Coming VERY soon...
I've put the NV to the test and will be giving my thoughts on it's design and function in the next few days. Keep your goggles clean and ready for viewing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bonebender Race Report...

When you look forward to a race, all is good. Bonebender has been a tradition for me, and this year I was even more psyched to see the race moved from Smithville Lake to Clinton Lake, as the trails at Clinton are a true a$$-kicking good time.
Sunday early morning Ranski, Manimal, FM and myself headed out in the V-dub for Clinton and to set-up the Ethos team pit area. We found a perfect spot right on the course, just past the start/finish for easy access. We had four tents to accommodate our 20ish teammates and cases of beer from Weston Brewing Company. Weather was absolutely perfect and the trail was too. Ethos riders and groupies alike started piling in as the ten o’clock start time grew near. Everyone suited up, prepped bikes, mounted number plates, tossed back last minute nutrition and gave high-fives; it was game-on.

The mass start began at the bottom of a steep gravel double track near the shore of the lake. We lined up and at the sound of the shotgun blast we were off running the 200 yards to our bikes. Once on the bike it was a quarter mile of pavement and through a field to the singletrack. The start of the single track was on advanced terrain and it was a train-wreck of gumbies who can’t ride rock, walking single file for seemingly a quarter mile before people started to space out and ride. It was frustrating but you just have to keep it together long enough to get rolling, keep your cool. Once on the bike I was sucking wind and spinning hard. Lots of rock gardens, steep climbs, flowy dirt recovery areas and wet creek crossings were endured.
With lap one under my belt, I made a pit stop and did my ritual bottle change (one water and one HEED/Perpetium mix), ate half a banana and a power turd (a homemade granola type protein bar) and was off for lap two. This was my routine each stop, every lap. I was feeling pretty good.
As time went on each lap grew more straining on my knees and mind. My mind usually is stronger than my body and I was able to keep on trucking. I never have cramping issues because my race nutrition is near perfection, and I make sure to be hydrated starting two days prior to race day. When I’d feel a little low on gas, I’d hit my Hammer Gel flask and get a boost of energy. Usually I was riding alone but for parts of laps I’d grab a wheel or allow someone to follow mine.
My second lap I crashed hard going around a tight corner through some rocks, over a log and into the dirt. My bars spun upon impact and kinked the lock-out cable on my suspension fork. When running a single speed, I lock-out my fork on climbs and release it in rock gardens and down-hills. This crash proved to make that more difficult for the rest of the race and I’d have to manually retract the lock-out mechanism each change; pain in the ass but I kept riding.
I’m guessing it was lap four that was my hardest, physically and mentally. I was getting worked like a minimum wage job. Tired. Knees were hurting much like during the Leadville race two years ago. I was keeping my chin up and hoping for the best. Just when I thought I needed to stop for a minute to regroup, I heard this guy yell ‘Beer Hand-up’ and I was like ‘Hell Yeah!”. I tossed back a few sips and let me tell ya, that liquid was like a shot of steroids; I was flying down the trail after that. THANKS DUDE! Later that same lap as the beer buzz wore off and I was getting tired again, I turned a corner to see a huge copperhead snake on the trail. I could not avoid it and ran him over. The adrenaline rush helped me through the rest of the lap. Thanks and sorry little serpent fella.

Back at the pits I took a breather. I was at this point just trying to finish the race and was psyched to see all of the three hour guys tossing-back barley-pops and cheering me on. I went out for my fifth and last lap. It was brutal. All of the toughest climbs I would just dismount and walk to save crucial energy. Why not I told myself, it’s almost over; there are coolers full of beer at the tents..
I finished my last lap 4 minutes shy of having to do a sixth (thank freaking god) and rolled into the Ethos pit to be handed a well-earned cold one. How refreshing. What a helluva fun day!

To wrap up our adventure, Pyro, G-wiz, Ranski, Steve, Jamie, Manimal and I grabbed some awesome grub at the Freestate Brewery. They even gave us the team discount (wink wink).

I’m already looking forward to next year!
G-Wiz and Pyro took top honors in the 6 hr duo
The B-Rockets won the Co-ed Duo,
Kevin tore-up the 6 hr Solo Clydesdale with the win
Cole won the 6 hr SS class
Manimal took 2nd in the 3 hr SS
Sarah took 2nd in the Open 3 hr.
And me, I didn’t get last!

Results are HERE

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Bonebender 2011 Race Report coming soon...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Choose Wisely...

Sometimes I find myself scrathing my head just to figure out one gear...

Repair Kit...

As Promised, my repair kit. This little kit was born from several seasons of riding and learning from my own (and a handful of your) mistakes.

(1) spare tube
(1) pre-sticky patch kit
(1) tire lever - make sure you get one that won't break!
(1) multi-tool w/chain tool
(1) plug kit with extra plugs (for tubeless tire repair)
(1) UST valve stem
(1) chain ring bolt
(1) Quick Link
a few lengths of chain
a few zip-ties
(1) spare cleat and (2) cleat bolts
(1) spare valve stem nut
(1) Co2 valve head
(1) big air Co2

I change up the exact contents depending on where I am riding and/or if I'm racing, variations on conditions or which bike I'm riding. Overall this is the most crap I'd lug around at any one time. I carry the tube in a small seat-bag and the Co2 on a seatpost mount. Everything else fits in the handy-dandy black bag (made from a recycled tube). I just toss the bag in the center pocket of my jersey and roll. Hope this sheds some light for you jerks out there who've required a handholding on far too many occasions. Cheers!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sunday Funday...

Ready for Action...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shit Circus...

Humpday has come and gone but I'll tell you this; it was a Shit Circus kind of ride that the crew pulled-off last night. Manimal, Timbo, FM and I headed out for the Home Loop just after dark. We had many, many issues on this ride. (1) Timbo had a dead battery and therefor no headlight. Fortunately he had a little bar mounted unit and got to ride, though not optimal. Things were going pretty good for the first part of our ride and on into the new section of Red, were it dead ends at this classic skull & barbed wire fence.
As we got close to the junction at Purple, (2) FM (Flat Man) got a flat. This is a typical scenario for FM; I can't remember a ride that he did not at some point get a flat. Short break number one. We then head into the Purple trail and it's heavy concentration of baby heads and lack of good lines. (3) Manimals light goes out and hes running on the led back-up (which pretty much does nothing). We are really kicking a$$ at this point. From here on it just gets worse.(4) FM gets another flat. (5) FM gets another flat. (6) FM gets another flat. (7) Manimal can't see the huge tree stump coming down the hill to the damn and eats major shit, nearly taking off both right and left nuts in the process. (8) FM gets another flat. This time he is down to two flat and patched tubes. One has a bad stem so it's trash and the other needs 4 holes patched (two snake bites). The patches won't hold because there is Stans sealant all over the place and the three hand pumps were using are junk and FM's gone thru at least 4 Co2 cartridges by now. Everyone is ready to call it and have the search and rescue party called to take us to the nearest bar. I have the idea that we should at least try to get one of our good 29er tubes to work in his 26" tires. It does. Were rolling again.
We casually make the 3 miles ride back to the beer fridge and chillax for a bit while tossing back a few barley-pops. All in all this ride was fun because we are fun guys. Someday FM is going to figure out a tire system that works for him. I sure the heck love my new set-up!

Single Speed Gearing...

I'm tired of numbers and calculating gear inches every time I need/want to change gearing for riding trail. I finally made this little cheat-sheet of some standard gearing I run on both 26" or 29" mountain bikes. Translates like this:

(Front Chain Ring) / (Rear Cog) = (Gear Inches)

For typical local riding I try to stay as close to but not over 50 gear inches. For riding trial with lots of climbing or technical terrain, I might back down from 50 a bit. For double track and cruiser stuff you can go over 50. Play around and see what works best for you.

Don't trust my math? There's always Sheldon Browns Gear Calculator HERE if you want more info...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Rubber...

The day has arrived. I finally did my research and picked up some new tires for the 29er, mounted them up, and will head out for a ride tonight to see how they handle the baby-head rock gardens of Shawnee Mission Park. Just to throw a bone...feel free to join me tonight for a night ride from my casa at 8 p.m.

For me, I wanted to get a beefy tire (I'm no weight weenie), something that can handle the technical and rocky terrain w/o fear of flatting. I like a bit more cushion and knob in the front and a faster rolling tire in the rear. For the past two seasons, on all of my bikes, I've run a Specialized Captain Armadillo Elite 2.2, set-up tubeless (front) and a Maxxis Crossmark LUST 2.0, set-up tubeless (rear). These are all 26" bikes. I had planned to run the same on my 29er, however, Maxxis does not yet have a 29" version of the Crossmark LUST available, AND Specialized had to go and confuse me by developing yet another version of the Captain; the Grid.

I now had to come up with a new rear tire plan and also decide on which version of the Captain to get for the front. I made some calls, talked to my good pals who actually use the crap outta their gear and have first hand experience. They each gave opinions on what I should or should not run. My general understanding of the new Grid version of Specialized tires is that they are heavier, but nearly bullet proof and unlike the Armadillo Elite - More supple and are less likely to burp while running lower tire pressure while cornering. So for the front I went with the Captain Grid 2.2. For a rear fast-rolling tire, I went with a Fast Track 2.0 Grid .

Set-up for these was the easiest I have ever had for a UST tire, period. I use one wrap of Gorilla brand duct tape as rim tape, a Stans valve stem and Stans Sealant. I put the tire on the rim and was able to inflate them with a floor pump (not a compressor!). Never have I been able to do get a tire to bead-up with a floor pump and rarely can I get a tire to bead on the first try, even with a compressor. I was more than pleased.

I'll give feedback as I experience how these bitches perform. I'll test these babies out tonight, and over the weekend during the 6-hours I'll be racing at Bonebender. That should be a good test. Clinton trails have been known to kill rubber on more than one occasion.
EDIT: Trail tested and approved. I love the Grids! Sticky as heck on the rocks and not a flat, even in the worst of conditions! DO IT!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ethos Racing 2011...

2011 Ethos Team Kit has arrived. Dead Sexy.

Woodchuck Run...

After a kick a$$ Saturday consisting of moving 2 yards of Mulch, Mowing for 2 hours, cleaning my house, my Sons birthday BBQ and the aforementioned SMP ride; I got to do a few laps out at Swope with a horde of Kansas City locals during the BikeSource Sponsored, Specialized Demo Day.

My plan was to meet Andre out for a few laps and to test ride some million dollar bikes. Instead I got a mega-late start and ended up missing Andre all together, only to arrive and all the bikes my size were already spoken for. Thankfully I had brought two bikes along with me – just in case. As I pulled into the parking lot I said hello to Speeding Jesus and Mike Tate, two stand-up locals. Tate is a great guy, and that jerk runs 34/18 on his 29er singlespeed. That is a tall gear, even for the big dogs. I too am running the same gearing but only because it’s all I have right now; and sometimes you just gotta ride whatcha got! I knew I was in for a a$$-whoopin’ good time at Swope, where most SS’ers run a pussy gear to succeed on the difficult and technical terrain. Time will tell.

I get suited up in my technical wear consisting of a pair of Dickies work shorts and my Ethos Jersey and hit the trail. I felt like I was flying, until I hit a few of the harder climbs and rock gardens and the tall gear started to get to me. I was able to push through everything but I was getting worked; burning way too much energy to stay on top of my gear. I know I’ll have to gear down a bit if I want to race this bike at Clinton next weekend. New Surly cogs are headed my way! I nearly flatted again (damn Sugaro’s) and rode the last 100 yards on 10lbs of air so I’d not waste my last co2 on these crap tires. I’m so ready to get new rubber!

One lap down and I met up with Pyro for a second. This time I unleash the Fixed Gear and prepared to get my a$$ handed to me once again. A fully rigid bike on these trail just hurts; bad. Pyro is a maniac, super-fast. He had put in four hot- laps already so I’m sure he was happy to get in a rest lap with me on the death machine. I chased him around the loop and successfully did a lap with only a half dozen or so good whacks on various rocks with my pedals, ejecting me from my eggbeaters each thwap. I am a bit rusty on the fixed gear, no doubt.

Afterwards I tossed back a PBR with a small crew who had also enjoyed the perfect weather and day of riding. Have I ever mentioned that I heart Swope? Pure Awesomeness.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Greased Lightning...

Had a great early a.m. solo ride at SMP today on the 29er. Rocks and roots were greasy from the morning dew. A nice breeze was keeping the heat at bay and the trail was otherwise dry and flowing. Not a single other person riding but the park was full of runners. There must have been an event.
I felt fast today, way faster than this ^ guy. Overall a good ride, even with a flat which I was able to plug and keep on trucking with. Someday I hope to actually do some trail work out here since it’s in my backyard. It’s just SO hard to use the very limited free time I get to ride to make the sacrifice to build trail. I must do it though, and soon. Karma’s a bitch.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Keep Pluggin'...

I've finally had a chance to get the 29er out on the dirt. I have to admit that I do in fact love this bike! I have one issue yet to resolve; rubber. I was on a super low, garage sale budget to get this bike built. I bought a pair of Geax Saguaro's because they were inexpensive and I like the tread pattern, which is not too aggressive yet not to light on the knobs - a perfect tread for Kansas City trails. I know they make a UST version they call the TNT, however I picked up  a non-ust version from an individual for mere pennies...and it turns out that's all they were truly worth!. I went ahead and did the deed of setting these up tubeless anyway, just because I hate, absolutely hate running tubes. Tubes suck monkey-balls! I've gotten in three rides on dirt with these tires. All three rides resulted in punctures large enough that the Stans sealant did not work and even with a plug, my confidence in these tires was on the bottom side of comfortable. I do however recommend, as I've said a million times, that if you run tubeless tires, to get a plug kit. I've yet to have to install a tube on any occasion that I incurred a flat. Rather, I'd plug, add air and go. It's fast and usually lasts the remainder of the tires life, or at least until you can pull the tire in the comfort of your own garage and put in a patch.
At any rate, I am heading to BikeSource today to buy a pair of Specialized tires. I am racing the 29er this weekend and I'm not taking any chances. I have 100% confidence in Specialized tires, of which I run the heavier Armadillo Elite version, and have not had to bail on a ride due to a flat in three seasons. Lesson learned; when you find a piece of gear that works for you, don't skimp or change your game. Stick with what you know, from experience, works best for you.
Plug installed during ride numro uno

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Specialized Demo Day @ Swope...

Need some motivation to get out and ride the BEST trails that Kansas City has to offer and try out a sweet bike all at the same time? Be there!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dual Duty, Birthday Suit and the Snake Charmer...

The Weekly Round-up;
Wednesday I hit up some fine riding at Swope with Pyro. It had rained the night before and the trails were in perfect shape. You’ve gotta hand it to the Trails Hermits who designed and built the Swope trail system (and who are continuing to do so), Thanks and great work in design and build. Amazing!
Pyro and I @ Swope
Friday afternoon (with special thanks to Gina for watching my boys) I was able to do a few hour ride again at Swope, but this time with The Manimal. It’s good to ride with different pals and do different types of riding and approach the trail system in a different fashion. The path or direction we took was totally different from what Pyro and I had done the a few days earlier which gives the trail a whole new feel.
The Manimal and I @ Swope
 Saturday I spent the day moving and stacking rocks, hauling mulch and hanging with my two boys. Saturday night is was Dinner with the Manimal and his better half. My wife and I met them out for some Mediterranean food followed by some great music by Phantoms of the Opry at R-Bar in the West Bottoms. Pyro, Jimbob, G-Wiz, Jamie and the Ladies joined us for pre-Sunday-Ride carbo-loading, music and good times.

Sunday was Dual-Duty Day. Jamie, The Manimal and I headed to The Truman Lake area for some rock climbing and riding. We spent the morning climbing at the Warsaw crag in the sun on some great Limestone bluffs. At one point my Helmet fell into the lake (due to extremely high winds) and I had to go buck-naked for a swim in cold, white-capped waters to retrieve it. It was so cold in fact that I was only able to inhale half breathes and started to get a little scared that I might just die out there at sea. I recovered enough to doggy-paddle back to shore a mere 100 yards from where I had entered. Upon climbing out of the frigid water, I was standing in the sun donning only my birthday suit, Helmet and Chaco sandals; I looked up to see a couple female climbers standing 30 feet away at the base of the bluff. Hope I did not scare them too bad emerging from the depths like that. Your welcome ladies:)
Jamie Pulling on Limestone
The Manimal AKA Snake Charmer
Just after the Lunch hour we headed back to the car, ate some food and then made our way to the Warsaw Mountain Bike Trails. We showed-up just as a race was finishing and the temperature was showing at 84 degrees. Considering that it had snowed a few days ago, we thought it was feeling especially hot out and made sure to chug some water and prep for a few hour ride in the extreme heat.
Fancy Trail Signage
On a side note; I was running a ragged-out Maxxis Crossmark rear tire, tubeless that has been on my bike for over a season. When we arrived at the trail head and unloaded bikes, my tire was totally flat (from a tear I received at Swope on Friday). I was gambling on the fact it would hold instead of installing a new tire but my luck was running out. I had plugged the tear and it had held for the remainder of Thursdays ride, but now she was flat. So I added some Stans Sealant and a second plug and after spewing air and sealant for 20 seconds things were looking good- the tire was holding air. I knew from some beta from G-wiz that this trail system was full of sharp rocks, so I hoped for the best and planned for the worst; An Extra tube and crossed fingers. I have not had to install a tube , not once, for the last two seasons and was not about to let a ¼” hole in my tire ruin my standings! If you run tubeless, be smart and carry a plug kit. You don’t have to pull the tire and can be back running in the case of a flat in seconds; plug, air and go!
Ethos Pit Crew...Frenchie style (watching Jamie change his tire, not helping)
We headed into the unknown hoping for a good time on some singletrack. We found it via the Yellow Loop! The trail was super fun. Lots of loose chirt –covered corners made things interesting but cruiser none-the-less. Long flowing down-hills followed by leg-burning climbs and great views of the lake, ahh! Jamie ended up flatting at one point which was a good excuse to rest and take in the scenery. We had a great 2+ hour ride with no other surprises. My Maxxiss Crossmark stood the test and held air for the entire rock-bashing ride. Dual Duty day was a success. Thanks Fellas!
Jamie needs a nickname...Hmmmm...
I know Pyro and G-wiz would have joined us for our adventure if they’d not been up in Nebraska with Steve trying to get a podium spot, which I believe ended up being the case. Congrats to my fellow Ethos Team riders!
Nebraska Podium...Is Pryo Hung-over?
Now It’s back to the grind…commuting to work for the summer months and riding some dirt as often as I can get out. Cheers!