Friday, February 27, 2009

Being Spotted on Picture Rock Trail - Bike Review

After much debate about what I was going to do to help keep the country from delving further into recession, I decided that it was my civic duty to prop up the businesses of Longmont and Golden by picking up a new Spot Longboard. My thoughts were that if each and every American went out and bought one from Blue Sky, not only would our economic engine be jump started instantly, but probably Blue Sky would be able to greatly increase their role as sponsor of the club and team (free beer at every ride?).

When I was in the shop, people working there said that there had been a lot of interest in the Spot belt-driven bikes, but that through a combination of trepidation and freak storms that had washed away all suitors, they had not had a banner year of sales. So, I thought that it might be a good idea to give a short review for anyone out there who ever thought of going for a bike with really big wheels, none of those gear shifty thingys or even a chain.

Style/Coolness/Attraction to Members of Opposite Sex: 3.5
While I must say that there is much to consider about a bike, lets face it, what really matters it that the rider of said vehicle look cooler than all others around. The two-toned (mint green and tan) paint choice would seem a bit peculiar in a superbad hardcore racing bike, it actually seems to work well. The 29er wheels and the overall large size of the bike will intimidate many around you. I personally, scared off two angry momma bears and cubs on my first ride simply by riding past and flashing a smile. For this, I give the bike high marks. The belt drive has a certain geek bling that makes even other SS riders around think that something must either be very wrong or very very right with your bike. On the other hand, impressing the neophyte with a silly multicolored bike with really big wheels while you are standing up grunting your way up a hill making noises something between pre-vomit and asthma don't do much for coolness. Hence, I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Stuff is Not Going to Fall Off the Bike/Break in Half Cleaving My Skull in Two Factor: 4
Singlespeed bikes just don't have much crap to break on them. That's part of the coolness. Not having a chain at all is even cooler (well, assuming your bike wasn't supposed to have one - if your bike had a chain and is now curiously sans that item, you are probably really not doing well). The bike is pretty darn solid. Steel was invented not long after the Bible, and most would argue that it's far more reliable as a means to get to an end. For a frame that big to be both supple (love that word) and not flexy is pretty sweet. I weighed the bike with pedals and it's just a skosh under 26lbs, so you are paying a bit for that suppleness, but really, my butt is far too hard and knobbly to be on a super stiff hard tail. The Manitou Minute fork was surprisingly good. I'm used to Fox shox from my other bike (Ibis Mojo) and other previous bikes, so I was a bit dubious about another brand. But, the shock is actually really nice. I'm still dialing it in (after calling Manitou because it came with no manual) to get the best ride, but overall it's a pretty plush 100mm fork.

The belt drive itself is a bit eerie. It's really really quiet and super responsive. I gotta say that I think this might be the wave of the future when it comes to mountain bikes. It's pretty flawless. The bottom bracket system - that's another matter. I used to ride on a Kona Unit 26 SS a long time ago. That had a great bottom bracket system that slid back and forth. When it was in the right place you simply tightened a couple of hex bolts and you were golden. This thing has a funky system with a quick release (that actually won't quick release anything by design), 4 hex bolts that are supposed to keep the bottom bracket from sliding until you lock the quick release and some nuts on those same bolts that like to spin around for no apparent reason (man this is hard to describe in writing). I think that understanding this system (after talking to the folks at Spot) is still a bit challenging. But, when in place properly, the thing is solid and not to worry about. Woah to he/she who doesn't "get it" and then has a flat on a trail though. The brakes are bomber and the wheels seem pretty bullet proof. The only real complaint I have is that when they build up the bikes to sell, they come with really long stems (mine is a 120!). I thought that this idea went out with BioPace! Especially on a bike this big and with this much weight up front, you'd think that they'd put on a 100 or something like that to give you the leverage and balance to help float the front wheel. Oh well, cheap enough fix.

Overall Swoopiness/Rideability on Downhills: 4
It's a BIG BIG BIKE! I've been on a 140mm bike for the last year and this bike seems way big compared to that. 100mm up front made the front end go over stuff pretty easy, but just because the wheels are big, it doesn't mean they absorb the hits from drops. It's a strange sensation. You'll roll over the rocks that Boulder County throws at you like there was nothing there (rocks that I really notice on the Mojo), but then going off of stuff you remember that you are on a hardtail. Riding down the upper section of Picture Rock was a bit bombastic. It took a while to get the groove of the new bike on the rocks and tight tight turns. After I started to groove on it though, it was a great ride. The staccato of rapidly pounding rocks that normally challenge me downhill was really sort of "point and shoot" game of dozing right over them on the Longboard. The lower sections of the trail (with all of the pumpable turns) was amazing! Wow! I forgot how much a hardtail allows you to accelerate if you pump it!

Grunt Factor for Climbing: 5
Well, this is what I bought the bike for. I was not let down. If you have never ridden a SS mountain bike, think of it like going to the gym and doing one-legged presses for about 45 min straight! As I said before, I used to have a 26 inch SS a long time ago. Riding it in Boulder was a beating on me. 29er wheels made all of the difference! It was amazing to keep my momentum over much of what used to really cause me to struggle. The nice thing is that you can really just get into an uphill groove, stand up out of the saddle and chug up the hill.

Hope this review spurs on many more purchases of Spots so we can have a sub-group of the club for us!

Happy Trails,


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Weather Called For Blue Sky!

Sunday’s forecast called for another warm winter day so it seems there was nothing to do but head out for a Blue Sky group ride! The sunny skies that were evident in early a.m. gave way to clouds by the time a small contingent of BSV members gathered at Ziggis to head out towards Lyons.

Kevin A., Brad E., Dave K, David T., David W. ,Steve C., Angie O and fellow BSV members all seemed in good spirits as I caught this photo of them preparing for the prescribed 10 a.m. departure.

Asked afterwards for an account of the ride, Steve reported that "It (the A ride) was a brisk ride: a good warm-up, some hills, some wind, some fairly fast pace-lines...all good “racer” styled miles. The pace-lines are always clumsy at this time of year. A pro once told me that his team always works on pace-lines...and they always seem clumsy...and there’s always someone pulling over too late and leaving gaps, etc etc. Our pace-line was clumsy as hell, but it was pretty, in a way it was good training because we were constantly accelerating to close gaps...WHICH is just like a fine. We’ll all get smoother. The ride was fun. It wasn’t competitive, and about half way through the stronger guys were doing more and helping the “less-strong” folks to stay intact which keeps the whole train other words...we rode like a TEAM.”

Monday, February 23, 2009

More on Cycling Meccas, and Food

Here is another quick post about cycling Meccas.  I haven't been to Italy, but really want to go.  How can you go wrong?  I don't think you can.  Even the olive oil comes in fancy tins with a bike on them.  

Not only that, this particular olive oil was imported and delivered by none other than Andy Hampsten. With heritage like that, it better be good. Thankfully, it is. My wife and I are on our second tin of this particular oil. I know that three hours into a long ride I start thinking about what I want to eat when I get home. While recovery drinks have their time and place, I am drawn more to wholesome "real" food. My latest food of choice is bread and oil. Simple yet effective.

My next cycling and food installation will be a local surprise. However, I know there are many of you out there with some stories of your own, post them up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Blue Sky Velo sponsor, Clif Shot, has a cool new way to get your CLIF SHOT BLOKS®. Check it out!

FASTPAK™ Makes CLIF SHOT BLOKS®Easier to Use, More Eco-Friendly

CLIF SHOT BLOKS®, the leading sports energy chew, is going the distance to work even better for performance athletes, introducing a new package that’s more user- and planet-friendly than any of the competition.

The new CLIF SHOT BLOKS FASTPAK™ snugly wraps six SHOT BLOKS electrolyte chews in a compact stack, opens easily and enables runners, cyclists and other outdoor athletes to conveniently use just one hand to squeeze SHOT BLOKS into their mouths.

The new FASTPAK uses 33 percent less packaging material than the previous SHOT BLOKS package. The sleek new package makes it easier to carry SHOT BLOKS in bike jerseys, running shorts and backpacks, and helps the planet by minimizing waste.

New Mountain Berry flavor adds a delicious, naturally tart, dark berry flavor to the SHOT BLOKS line. Like all SHOT BLOKS flavors, Mountain Berry contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients!

With six chews in each FASTPAK, athletes get 33 calories per chew — making it simple to customize and track caloric and electrolyte intake during long races or outings. Happy Fueling!

For more yummy details and news check out

Racing Begins at Boulder Velodrome

Just a heads up that racing started last night at the Boulder Velodrome. For those who have never been to the velodrome, and for those that have, this is a great watch. I was on hand last night for three races and it was a blast. There was a good crowd turnout and the racing was fast and furious. I highly recommend heading over and catching some races. There is some good coverage and pics at and .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Training on the High Ground

Post CX-depression season can affect us all. On top of that, I have been dealing with a nasty bit of clinically diagnosed overtraining/under beer consuming (I'm going to talk about my recovery from overtraining and hopefully my road to racing this spring in later posts). So, in an effort to move forward, I went on a hut trip with several new friends to Margy's hut (10th Mountain Division hut outside of Aspen) this last week. While I wasn't sporting the new BSV winter ski parka (my order just didn't come in time for this), I felt it was my duty to represent the team on this endevor.

As it turns out, strapping 45lbs onto your back (including a guitar) and heading up to 11,300 feet on skis is just about nothing like a CX race. Oh wait, there is that feeling of wanting to die or barf or die whilst barfing part - that's the same. That feeling just lasted about 3 hours longer on the trip up than it does during a 45 min CX race. Somewhere between hour 2 (the "Oh this is hard, but I'm going to get in the swing of things" hour) and hour 4 (the "I wish the blisters on my feet would rise up with small arms and shoot me now" hour) I got into a bit of zen though and realized that this was great exercise for about 15 minutes or so!

The point, of the uphill, I guess, was really learning that while I might be a decent cyclist this may not really play out on Alpine Touring skis. Humility is a great thing I s'pose. Luckily, I left my BSV wool beanie cap at home so the photos of me looking like Death on skis don't give props to the team. It's a funny thing about overtraining and the shape I'm in. When I was CX racing, I thought that I really hit a wall after about five minutes of racing. When I was going uphill on the skis, I felt like I hit a wall after 45 minutes. Sad thing is that in a CX race, if I hit a wall after 45 minutes, I'd have already finished and grabbed a beer.

After the uphill day, I had a great few days of skinning up hills and skiing down them. Backcountry skiing was a blast! Okay, there was the one point where the guy who knew most told me not to fall down because the snow might not be stable and then I promptly fell, but the rest was a hell of a good time. There was something great about being totally out in the middle of nowhere and getting in some wonderful powder turns without worrying about a five year old running you down on the slope. We also had a great time playing guitar and singing bad 70's music at night.

Well, next race I might just have to smuggle in a guitar for post-race bliss. I'll definitely leave the 45lb backpack at home though :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hallowed Ground - A visit to the Champs Elysees

At some point or another, every cyclist should visit one of cycling's hallowed grounds.  There are many and offer a truly unique experience.  In December, my wife and I had a chance to visit Paris.  On day one, after arriving and having some wine, we set out for the Champs Elysee.  I wanted to soak in the feeling and karma of the finish line and she wanted to shop.  A holiday market made it a truly crazy experience.  Using pictures and the many hours I have spent viewing Tour videos, I tried to find the finish line of Le Tour and get a pic.  Here it is, Blue Sky representing at the finish of Le Tour.  

You cannot really tell from the picture, but the road is slightly cobbled and uphill as it approaches Le Arc de Triumph.  The riders make it look easy, but a crit on this same course would likely split the field of a cat 4 or 3 race.  All the sightseeing and uphill walking created a need for some food and wine.  Thankfully, Paris is filled with many cafes and we sampled some local faire.  Not bad.  Notice the near empty wine glass.  

To add to the cycling flair, we figured out how to use the rental bikes.  This is a great system where using a prepaid debit type card (this is a total hassle to purchase and fund) to pick up bikes around the city.  We were able to find bikes all around town.  You simply ride from neighborhood to neighborhood and put the bike back on the rack.  It is locked up and you cannot get it off the rack without your debit card.  This was a wonderful way to view the city and allowed us to cover way more ground than walking and using the subway.  Also, Paris drivers were super respectful of cyclists and we never had any issues, even taking on huge roundabouts.  Imagine a roundabout on Colfax during rush hour.  All we had to do was point and cars allowed us in.  Amazing.

If you have never been to a cycling Mecca, find a way to visit one, at least once.  I know many of you have been to other hallowed locations in Belgium, Italy, etc.  Post it up.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blue Sky Velo Nordic - ambassador outreach / CX reconnaissance?

Whats up kids?
Dave K. reporting in from the deep fringe.
Michelle and I just finished a two weekend nordic skiing adventure that turned into more of a Blue Sky Velo outreach / cx competition spy program.

(** NOTE: stock AP photo, not actual author)

It all started with Eldora last Sunday, trying to get in some leg burners when we ran into Darcy Tiglas of Cross and Ft. Collins Cycling Team fame with her husband Tim (also a masters cx racer). When the chit chat subsided, neither couple dared start up the trail to let on the "secret training" of the other .... something about that Darcy - all smiles on the outside but I know she's up to no good! :-)
I pretended to be all slow and out of shape to give them a false sense of confidence that Blue Sky may not be training. (ha!)

Cut to this past weekend. We went up to summit county to see my Dad who was visiting and skiing from out of town. We usually fly the Blue Sky colors while nordic skiing as cycling jersey's and vests with pockets lend themselves well to storing cross country skiing goodies like fudge and cookies (but I digress). I'm in the lodge and Tim? Mike? from Copper team comes up and asks how I'm doing, and talks about how he and his teammates raced against (and got spanked by a few of) the Blue Sky Nation in cross up there during breck, frisco, and some of the front range races. After assuring him that I was not one of the ones doing the spanking and having a nice chat.... I made sure to indicate that the rest of the cross team was back home, running up hills with logs, and doing squats for hours on end with rocks on top of their heads ... just waiting until next season to start.

Finally, yesterday, we're hitting up the Breckenridge nordic center, and I bump into Dave Hixson of Rocky Mounts and cross fame. He starts to sweat as Michelle and I ask where he's going to go ski.... he nervously creates about 10 excuses about why he can't join us .... and once again after some cx season small talk I make sure to let him know that the rest of the team is doing Lee Hill repeats with sand in their tires and frames - just for fun!
On to the skiing Dave's off on his own, Michelle and I hit the trails. The weather was sick, but the snow was a tad frozen - apre - sun-baked. Right when I was about to get hit by Michelle's ski pole for taking her out on the 'never coming back loop', we hear the groomer coming. Woot. We get in behind dude and everything is groovy.

(** NOTE: stock AP photo of sweetness, not actual trail, but pretty darn close)

So now, instead of turning around we blaze on. Well somehow I managed to guide us from "Blue" to "Black", and end up on the death hill called Hang Ten, which is directly under the gondola (gondola? holy crap breck is developed now).
Suffice it to say, instead of backing down, we welled up with Blue Sky Nation pride and turned it up a notch BAM!!!! Hang 10? pshstttt! We actually "Hung 11 !!!" - because thats how we roll.

(* Circle indicates where 11 was actually 'hung')
I believe there was applaud coming from the tourists in the gondola for Michelle's newly aquired skillz at the power wedge, but the wind was too loud in the ears.

Thats it folks, a rather short story made long.
What have we learned?
If nothing else, flying the Blue Sky nation colors remotely will at least guarantee some good conversations and run-ins.... and allow you to spy on the competitions secret training ! (and it looks like at least some of them ate as much fudge over the holidays as I did) :-)

Till next time .....
Dave K. - over and out.

new recruit

how do we get this girl for the 2009 cx team? she'd be throwin elbows and mixin' it up hardcore.

alright, goodnight cleveland. get out there and ride. quit reading... now.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gettin' it up twice in one day!

"it" being updates regarding valmont bike park. get your mind outta the gutter, you sickos! enjoy the large format, and attention to detail, but do still keep in mind this not the final plan--changes and tweaks will have to be made as we continue to develop the park


boom. that just happened.