Archive for the ‘Top Story’ Category

A Nebraska Single Track Primer

June 25, 2009

A Nebraska Single Track Primer

By Guitar Ted 

Nebraska: Yeah, you know….that “fly over” state. That state that everyone on I-80 wishes was about 399 miles shorter. That “Nebraska” is what most people think of when they are presented with the idea of bicycling there. Well, those who have been there, live there, and more importantly, have ridden there, know a lot better than that. I’ll admit, I’ve had my eyes opened to a new way of thinking about Nebraska as a place to ride off road, that’s for sure. 

My education in cycling in Nebraska started in 1995 while doing a tour on paved roads from my home state of Iowa. We traversed the northeastern corner of the state and I found it to be a beautiful country of rolling hills. That would be just a foretaste of what was to come much later though. 

Fast forward 14 years: I was invited by a Nebraska resident and friend, Matt Gersib, to try out some off road single track in the eastern part of Nebraska near Bellevue. I was to be staying with some friends and decided to take him up on it. So I took my bicycle with me to Nebraska once again. Only this time I was in search of some dirt. 

I wasn’t to meet with Matt until Friday, but on Thursday, I found some free time and looked up a local park to explore. Swanson Park, in Bellevue, turned out to be only about a mile from where I was staying, so I pedaled over to check it out. I was not expecting a whole lot, I mean, it is Nebraska, right? So I figured it would be a good little jaunt through a city park and that would be that.

 

Boy, did I ever get that wrong!

 

Swanson Park is a great piece of single track sweetness. I was really surprised by how well it was marked and kept up. I found out that the local trail maintenance group, T.H.O.R.(Trails Have Our Respect), was responsible for that and the upkeep of a few other trail areas in and around the Omaha area. Having a trail well marked, clean, and weed free is a big selling point for folks coming from out of state, and Swanson Park measured up on all fronts there

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But you have to have good riding too. That is important as well. Swanson Park isn’t a technically challenging trail by any measure, but what it lacks in technical difficulties, it makes up for with fast, swoopy, roller coaster like trails. Guaranteed smile inducing dirt here. I was also pleasantly

surprised by a nice ascent into some open prairie. This wide open section was filled with tall grass

punctuated by trees here and there, giving a distinctly different feel to the riding experience than you get in the thick canopy of Swanson Park’s wooded sections. I was told later by Matt that this particular section was a reclaimed dump area. That was just a great example of an eyesore turned into a beautiful green space that can be accessed by bicyclists and hikers alike.

 

 

Following the prairie section was a fast down hill around the volunteer fire department training area and back into the roller coaster single track hidden under the vast green roof formed by Swanson Park’s trees. It was such a fun loop, I did it twice! 

The following day, I met up with Matt and we searched out another little “gem” of single track in the area. Jewel Park is near the Missouri River, and a great, steep hill marked with several ravines was host to another fun single track here. Up, up, up we went on a switch backed trail on to the top of the hill. The tight, twisty trail that included several steep drops and climbs out of ravines, made for a very challenging experience, quite unlike Swanson Park. 

Now after having pegged my heart rate at Jewel Park, Matt had one more stop on our single track adventure planned for the day. Platte River State Park, which is just in between Omaha and Lincoln, was the destination. Here horse riders and bicyclists share the trail in a unique arrangement that allows the equestrians use of the trail in the early part of the afternoon until 4:00pm. Then the mountain bikers have the trails all to themselves for the remainder of the day.

 

 

“Platte River”, as the locals refer to it, or simply “Platte”, is an awesome network of trail that winds in and out of hills, ravines, and even some open prairie along the Platte River before it meets the Missouri. Matt guided me and another rider that day on the trails which were technically challenging, fast, swoopy, and most of all, a ton of fun. The single track here I would rate as good as or better than anything I have ridden in the nation. It is that good. Yes……in Nebraska! 

My conclusion after the two days of riding? I have to come back! I had a blast on the trails I rode on, and I would highly recommend them to anyone coming into the Omaha/Lincoln area. You will find the trails well kept, marked, and clear of blow downs. The access to these areas is easy, and one could feasibly hit all three areas I did in a single day, if you wanted to. I say that you should stay longer and savor each one. I know I wish I could have! 

Nebraska off road riding opportunities exists beyond this area as well. In fact, I will be attending a festival in another area of Nebraska in the fall that offers a great single track experience. It is called the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, and you can come too. Check the website out here at www.bigwheeledballyhoo.com

 

The 411:The best off road trail information is available on the local T.H.O.R. webpage. There you will find directions and trail maps for all three of the trails mentioned here and others in the area. (Yes! There is much, much more.) Most of the single track I rode in Nebraska is all accessible from Bellevue, Nebraska’s oldest city. There are several motels and lodging choices in the area that you can base your operations out of. The Lincoln and Omaha areas are also a great place for restaurants, entertainment, and other recreational opportunities. Omaha and the surrounding area also has an excellent paved trail network as well, if you are wanting a more “civilized” cycling experience. More information on the Metropolitan Area Trails Network can be found here:. http://www.bellevuenebraska.com/Parks-Rec.aspx

More Information on Platte River State Park can be found here: http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/parks/guides/parksearch/showpark.asp?Area_No=224

 

You can find out more about the great state of Nebraska and the things to do and places to stay at the 

official Nebraska Tourism site: http://www.visitnebraska.gov/

 

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Cannondale To Introduce Carbon 29″ers In 2010

June 16, 2009

The Cyclist has learned that Cannondale plans on introducing a carbon hardtail 29″er to it’s current line up of aluminum hardtails for 2010. The line, which will be introduced at a sales meeting in Park City, Utah next week, will include two versions of the bike. Dubbed the “Flash”, the hardtail will be offered in a “Flash 1” version and a presumably lower spec’ed “Flash 2” option. We also have learned that one of the versions will be white, the other red.

Cannondale apparently will continue to offer its four aluminum models as well, but at this time there is no word on whether the Scalpel 29″er we have heard is roaming the planet as a prototype will be offered as a model for sale to the public. Stay tuned as more information becomes available.

Chris King To Host “Gourmet Century” In Oregon

June 7, 2009

 

From the lovely state of Oregon comes news of Chris King’s plans to host another event involving food. (For those of you that don’t know, Chris King is a food afficianado of the highest order, and a pretty dang good cook to boot!)

 Chris King will host his first Gourmet Century in Oregon on October 17th of

this year. Registration for the event opened Monday June

1st and is limited to 350 participants. Chris King would  enjoy having you attend the event and ride the

fantastic roads of his beloved home state of Oregon.

In previous years, The Gourmet Century has hosted riders with themes

such as Italian Cucina, Salsa!, Greek, Country French and Pacific

Rim. This year’s theme, which was  revealed on Monday, the opening of registration,  celebrates the

cuisine and culture of Spain. The event also benefits the Livestrong

Foundation.

Check out this link for more information:

http://chrisking.com/events/events_gc_mmddyy

Lynskey Ridgeline 29″er: First Impressions

May 20, 2009

After getting a few great runs in on the Lynskey Performance Ridgeline, I can give a few impressions of this titanium single speed. So far, it has been a near flawless ride.

Unattended Ridgelines may spontaneously float away. (Not really!)

Unattended Ridgelines may spontaneously float away. (Not really!)

Weight: Okay, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. Yes- the Ridgeline is a light frame and you could definitely build a “redicu-lite” rig with it. As this one sits, it has no real glaring “weight weenie” parts installed, but it still evokes a “Dang! This is light” response every time I handle it. Does this matter? Is it really a big deal out on the trail? The answer to that is a bit more complicated than you might think.

The Ride: This frame and fork work really well together, first off. The Ridgeline as it was sent to me is a great, racy feeling single speed that changes directions really well and yet is steady enough that it doesn’t feel like you are getting in over your head when things around you turn into a blur.

The fork is a big reason why. It tracks very well, takes off the sharp edges on trail hits like a good rigid fork should, and the offset matches the head angle in a way that makes for a snappy handling hard tail. Lean a bit with your hips for directional changes at speed, or throw the bike over and steer it through a fast switchback. Either way works here.

I will only say that things will get a bit hairy if your descents consist of very long, technical, and bump strewn single track. Why? Because first off, this is a rigid bike, after all. Secondly- because the steering leans towards the fast, twitchy side as opposed to the laid back, stable side. Mind your business while descending and the Ridgeline will reward you with a thrilling downhill ride.

You get snappy handling and a smooth feel on the trail with a Ridgeline

You get snappy handling and a smooth feel on the trail with a Ridgeline

The frame is smooth, as you might expect. It feels eerily similar to the finer steel rides, like the Milwaukee Bicycle Company 29″er we just finished up with. It has a give that steel riders crave. Nice stuff. The lateral stiffness is good. Not great, just good. The bottom bracket can be twisted up in a severe, mashing style when just cresting a long hill. You might hear a tooth pop or snap in the drive train if you ride in this style when you have extreme power on at a slow cadence. I had to change up my style just a bit to alleviate the problem, and I’m happy to say I have not heard a peep out of the drive train since. (I probably am pedaling in a more efficient way to boot!)

Of course, Lynskey Performance has done much tube manipulation on the Ridgeline, and it shows up in a frame that tracks well, and while it gives, it does so in a subtle way that doesn’t seem to affect performance in a negative way, (besides the issue mentioned above) . Braking, turning, climbing, and descending are all accomplished without fuss, and in some cases, the low weight of the bike comes into play to make the ride even nicer.

Climbing is a given when you talk about how a light weight bike benefits you. However; it also makes power maneuvers easier and I was able to clean a difficult rooty section on a steep climb that required a bit of a lunge/hop. I executed the move to perfection on the Ridgeline, but missed it with a heavier steel geared bike a bit later because the steel bike was too heavy to toss around like you can the Lynskey.

So, while a light weight bike is cool, impressive, and climbs well, it also can be a couple of other things. In the case of the Ridgeline, it makes for a more maneuverable bike, but comes at the expense of some bottom bracket flex. A rider can learn to overcome this, but it might not be your cup of tea.

Stay tuned for more on the Ridgeline as I break down some of the components on the bike and give my two cents on them in the next “First Impressions” post.

Bike Packing: Going Long And taking It With You- The Series

April 29, 2009

Join Southern California’s own Grannygear as he explores what it takes to set yourself up for the latest in bicycle touring – “Bikepacking”, or otherwise known as lightweight, minimalistic backcountry bicycle touring. Granny will go over how to get bags and gear set up, and later on will share one of his bikepacking adventures with us.

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Check into this series by clicking on any of the links here:

Bike Packing: Going Long And Taking It With You- Part I

Bike Packing: Going Long And Taking It With You- Part II

2009 Sea Otter Classic

April 16, 2009

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Join the crew of The Cyclist as we get sneak peaks, hear rumors, take photos and test rides on the newest products hitting the internet.

(more…)

Continental Race King 2.2″ 29″er Tires: First Impressions

April 11, 2009

Now that the trails have firmed up in my locale, I have been able to get out on the Continental Race King 29″er tires. My set up for the first rides was tubed with FSA XC-290 wheels (Also on test). The conditions were loamy to hardpack, with a bit of sand and some mud thrown in to the mix. But first, here are some initial hard numbers on the Continental Race Kings.

Weight: 650 grams and 620 grams

Width: 51.3mm/2.02 inches

The weight was about what I expected holding them in the hand and for the claimed width. The initial width measurement is a bit underwhelming. (2.2 inches is 55.88mm for referance) My experience with the Mountain King tells me these will stretch more with time and especially if I go to a tubeless set up. That said, expecting these tires to stretch nearly 4mm would be asking a lot.  The Race King may be a bit undersized for it’s stated width, but it is taller off the rim than anything else in it’s class that I have here, or have seen. The mounted profile of the tire on the FSA rims (24mm wide) is really rounded, almost peaked.  I ran the tires at 35psi rear and 30 psi front on my first rides.

The Continental Race King isn't quite as wide as this label says.

The Continental Race King isn't quite as wide as this label says.

The width and profile of the tires made for a fast feeling tire. Going up a fire road climb was easier due to the lower rolling resistance. Once at the top of this climb the downhill comes with some tight turns and switchbacks that go into a long traverse across a ridge that is very off camber. In my mind I was thinking that these tires were not going to do well here. However; I was pleasantly surprised when the tires stuck to the trail. This section was freshly raked, loamy, and littered with roots.  The Race Kings handled the roots well. The taller profile of the tires soaking up the bumps better than some tires I have tried.
The Race King made the rigid ride that much better.

The Race King made the rigid ride that much better.

Climbing was an eye opener. I mistakenly took a little used steep climb that featured “steps” of roots across my path about every three feet in a deeply rutted track. No way around it, I had to ride right up this “nature’s staircase”.  The Race Kings absorbed the edges of the roots well making for slip free traction and a less bumpy ride up which allowed me to keep a more steady cadence. I’m impressed with the Race King as a climbing tire. The small, triangular shaped knobs seem to do more than they let on by their diminutive appearance.
The Race Kings as mounted on my Salsa El Mariachi.

The Race Kings as mounted on my Salsa El Mariachi.

The cornering performance was good. I will have to explore this further on some faster trail, but the Continentals showed no signs of losing grip in these corners. The trail did have some muddy spots and the lack of any tall knobs made for little traction in the grease. I had to dismount a couple of times when I just couldn’t propel myself forward anymore. The narrow, highly crowned profile did dig in, so if there were any hard ground underneath, it may have grabbed ahold, but this was fairly bottomless mud. The cutting in was also eveident in sand as well. I think the race King will be a tougher tire to steer through the sand traps once they fully develope this summer.
I’ll be putting these tires through more trail testing with a switch to tubeless coming. Stay tuned!

Handmade Bicycles : The Series

April 3, 2009

Editor’s Note: In this series, Grannygear introduces us to some custom frame builders and takes a closer look at the process of making and delivering a custom, handmade bicycle to a customer.

Part 1 – The Custom Frame Experience

Part 2 – Chosing Materials and Builders

Part 3 – Meet the Steel Frame Builders

Part 4 – Meet the Aluminum Frame Builders

Part 5 – Meet the Titanium Frame Builders

Part 6 – The Fit

Part 7 – The Fit Part II

Cannondale To No Longer Make Frames In The U.S.A.

April 2, 2009

In a story on Bike Biz written by Carlton Reid, it has been reported that Cannondale is going to cease frame building operations in Bethel, CT and will turn that facility into one of five “innovation centers” world wide. The production of Canondale bikes will be outsourced to Asia and will commece with the 2010 line up.

Following is a portion of the press release as put out by Dorel Industries, Cannondale’s parent organization:

New Innovation Center

Key to the Centers of Excellence strategy in North America are plans to consolidate all North American product development, marketing and business management functions for all four cycling brands (Cannondale, Schwinn, GT and Mongoose) to Bethel, CT within the newly named Cycling Sports Group (formerly the Cannondale Sports Group).

The Bethel location will be expanded into a world-class Innovation Center for all of Dorel’s Recreational/Leisure brands and products. This will help integrate brand teams to power innovation and to more fully capitalize on the unique potential of each of the CSG brands.

“Our vision is to create the most innovative and admired company in the recreation and leisure marketplace, and to become a global leader, which is why the Dorel segment was established in the first place,” said Robert Baird, President of Dorel’s Recreational/Leisure segment. “The strategy for transforming that vision into reality requires a unified, collaborative, and highly engaged workforce, relentlessly committed to innovation and supported by management in rapidly advancing the quality of the products and services we deliver. Dorel has acquired several top companies with superior product lines and some of the strongest brand equities in the recreation and leisure sector, including the acquisition of both Cannondale Bicycles and SUGOI Performance Apparel in early 2008.

“The Cannondale purchase led us to segment our bicycle business to provide best-in-class service to the distinct retailer categories. Mass market bikes are sold to consumers through Pacific Cycle, while high-end specialty retailers have been our channel of choice for premium and enthusiast bikes through CSG. Naturally, Cannondale and CSG are key components of our commitment to our Independent Bicycle Dealers (IBD) as we realize how critical IBDs are to the cycling community and to us. In addition to the plans outlined above, and to ensure we delight our customers with our distinctive brands, innovative products and impactful in-store programs, we are also consolidating our North American CSG operations to two locations from five.”

A new mission for Bedford

In addition to its global headquarters in Bethel, CT, CSG will create one of the best bicycle testing laboratories in the world at its facilities in Bedford, PA. CSG will also begin to focus its existing operations in Bedford on:

-final bicycle and Headshok assembly,
-CNC machining,
-testing and quality control,
-bicycle warranty repair
-inside sales/service, distribution and
-customer support/ administration (including a new call center on-site).

In shifting Bedford’s operations away from bicycle frame manufacturing by 2010, CSG will be able to take full advantage of the strengths and capabilities of the new Taichung, Taiwan-based Center of Excellence in manufacturing oversight, sourcing, testing and quality control. Therefore headcount at Bedford will be reduced from the current 300 employees to approximately 100 by the end of 2010.

The total cost of the overall re-organization plan is expected to be no more than US$4.5 million, the majority of which will be related to employee re-location and severance. These costs will be incurred over the course of 2009 and 2010. Once completed, the Company expects to realize annualized cost savings of up to US$4 million.

“Today is the beginning of a very exciting period for Dorel’s Recreational/Leisure business,” said Jeff McGuane, President CSG North America. Mr. McGuane, who has been with Cannondale since 1994 and most recently was President of CSG International, was named to his new post last month.

“We have realized significant benefits from identifying and acquiring strong brand leaders in the recreation and leisure industries, as well as driving organic growth from our existing businesses. However, for us to continue on our quest to remain competitive and to become the world’s premier provider in delivering the top recreation and leisure brands and products that consumers trust and want, we must continue to simplify and streamline our operations to help us drive forward. Creating the Center of Excellence in Bethel, consolidating our CSG resources within North America to two main locations, and leveraging the manufacturing resources at our Taiwan-based Center of Excellence are critical steps along the path of achieving our objective – becoming the global innovation leader in the recreation and leisure segment,” concluded Jeff.

The Latest 29″er Rumors

April 2, 2009

The rumor mill is cranking big time in the Big Wheeled World! You’d never know the economy was in the dumps if all you could see was the cycling industry. (Down a bit, yes, but no where near what reality in a lot of sectors is like.) Okay, enough about economics, on to the rumors!

A Tomac Bikes 29?: Here’s a head scratcher for ya. Tomac Bikes, which gets its name from John Tomac, consumate racer and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member, is also associated with Kenda Tires. “Johnny T” having his signature on a 29″er tire design even. Then consider that Tomac Bikes is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, a place that you can’t swing a bat and not hit a 29″er rider in. (Don’t try the bat thing on your trails, please!) Thinking about all of thses things, why wouldn’t Tomac Bikes have a 29″er in the line up? Well, they haven’t……...not yet!

A reader of Twenty Nine Inches that wishes to remain anonymous has told me that a 29″er is being test ridden by Tomac Bikes now. It would appear that some sort of 29″er hard tail will make an appearance in Tomac Bikes 2010 line. Stay tuned…………

Something Titanium, Something “Lefty”, Something Oversized: It has been whispered in my ear by a very reliable source that there will be a hardtail 29″er going into production any day now that will be made of titanium. This particular model, (the name of which was not divulged) will have a BB-30 bottom bracket, and a Lefty front suspension fork. This sounds rather intriguing and you can be sure I will be on the story as details surface.

Titanium Fork Still On The Way: I’ve heard from a couple sources that a production titanium fork for 29″ers would be coming. That rumor had grown cold, but recently it was re-confirmed to me that indeed, production is going forward. When this fork might actually appear is not known, but I will report on any new as soon as it is available.