August 26, 2010

New Bike!

The Gary Fisher Cake has been showing it’s age. I’ve made some minor upgrades when I’ve broken or damaged pieces in an attempt to keep it up-to-date. But you can only go so far with upgrades before you are just throwing good money after bad. The Cake is still doing its job after all these years of racing and training, but the old (2005) suspension design and weight were starting to show their age. It was time for a new bike. The final straw was when my adventure race teammate Robin (aka Mountain Girl) showed up at the ‘Tracks and Treads’ race on her new Trek Top Fuel. I got serious about buying.

I started the search knowing that I wanted full suspension. All day adventure race rides are tough on old bodies, so FS was a must. Coming off the ‘built like a tank’ Cake, I also wanted the lightest and most forgiving frame I could find. In most cases that means carbon fiber. And of course I wanted as close to top-of-the-line components as I could afford.

The internet is a great tool for finding what is available and for how much. There are reviews of every component and frame imaginable. So I started researching what bikes would be top candidates, and what components I wanted on them. There are so many bikes out there, the list got big fast. I even considered building my own for awhile.

I talked to people in all the local bike shops and on all my training rides, but in the end it came down to the test rides. I rode cross country and trail bikes from all the big brands, but I was saving Trek for last, I really liked that their carbon frames are made in America. I rode a Top Fuel like Mountain Girl’s and I liked it. It was light and fast and maneuverable. Minutes after that ride, I tried a Trek Fuel EX. This was a bike I could ride all day. It was great. Light and fast and maneuverable, and somehow more comfortable than anything else I had tried.

So the search ends there? Trek Fuel EX is the one? Would have been, except for friends talking about 29’ers, and how they would be perfect for my kind of riding and long endurance races. I went back to the internet to start researching 29ers. I wanted a Fuel EX in a 29er, but Trek didn’t make one. I rode another manufacturer’s 29er that felt like a giant floating boat under me, hated it. I rode a Felt carbon hardtail 29er, it was good, really good, but not perfect and not FS. So my new bike search stalled and lost a little momentum. Maybe I would never find the perfect bike.

Then this summer something amazing happened. Trek became owners of Gary Fisher. The SuperFly 100, which I had previously written off as being too expensive, had now dropped in price.

It got a Trek name on the downtube, which meant it would come with their fantastic warranty and support. But nobody had one, the 2010’s were sold out and no more could even be ordered. So I test rode the HiFi, which was the closest thing I could find to the Superfly 100. It was great. It convinced me the Superfly 100 was my bike.

I told The Cyclery that this was the one. They put in an order, and warned me that it might be a long wait while Trek got some 2011 bikes built and all their previous orders filled. I might not get one until around the end of September or even into October. This would be getting really close to some great fall races. Maybe it wouldn’t even be here in time for the Berryman Adventure.

If you’ve read any of these blog posts, you already know that The Cyclery in Edwardsville is ROCK Racing’s favorite bike shop. Well they proved why again. I got a call last week that my bike had shipped, over a month ahead of what I expected. Another call the following Tuesday it had been delivered and was ready for me to come in and be fitted.

The bike was hanging on a maintenance stand and after a quick discussion with Andy (shop mechanic), I decided to go tubeless. Andy started to set the wheels up and took the time to explain the whole process to me as he worked.

Then we ran into a snag, the tubeless liners were made for asymmetrical wheels and the Superfly came with Bontrager symmetrical wheels. Andy decided that the liners would not be good enough and ordered a new set. I watched this whole thing and could only see the slightest difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical. This, on top of everything else, made me realize that The Cyclery has top-notch mechanics. We put in a set of tubes to use until the new liners come in and continued by setting up shock pressure and the rebound, cut an inch off each bar end, checked the derailers, brakes, put on pedals, and demonstrated the new style Trek rear QR. He made time to answer all my questions even to the point of explaining the inner workings and adjustments of the brake calipers. Then it was time for the first test ride.

It felt great. I had thought about bringing the old saddle from my Cake, because I liked it so much, but I’m glad I didn’t, this one is even better. We made a couple more small adjustments to seat height and angle, handlebar clocking, brake lever reach, and took another ride. Then a couple more minor tweaks to the shock rebound knobs and then another ride. And it was like heaven, this bike fits better than anything I’ve ever ridden. It wants to go fast. I feel like I can ride anything. Who is up for Leadville or TransRockies in 2011?

Before I finish this post, I gotta say Thank You to the Mountain Girl for getting me looking at Trek bikes. Thanks to The Cyclery in Edwardsville for somehow getting this bike so far ahead of schedule. Thanks to Andy at The Cyclery for the awesome fitting, set-up, and answering endless questions. And Thanks to Trek for building this great bike!

Check out these pics of the first ride:



The new bike is so great I didn't want to stop riding just because it got dark.  Too bad the park rangers didn't like my all-night ride idea.  I guess I should be thankful they only wrote me a warning:

August 24, 2010

Big News

I’m late in getting this post out, but it’s one of the biggest pieces of news our team got all year. Robin was nominated by The Cyclery in Edwardsville (ROCK Racing’s favorite bike shop!) and was accepted by Trek into their Mountain Co-Op program. She will be representing the great state of Illinois. You will now see her riding a Trek Top Fuel 9.8 WSD. If you’ve read the past couple race reports you’ve surely noticed that I can barely keep up with her on long bike legs anymore. I’ve got to get one of these bikes, it is just screaming fast. She also got a full set of Trek gear to wear while racing and for hanging out on podiums collecting awards.

You can follow the Mountain Co-op on Facebook to see what their team is up to, or just head over to Robin’s Mountain Girl Blog to keep up with all the races she is winning and events she attends representing the Trek Mountain Co-op.

August 20, 2010

Urban Assault - St Louis 2010

Rock Racing set out for a day of fun and won a prize while they were at it. This is so crazy that words just can’t describe it, so I am going to make this a photo blog to cover Robin and Chuck, also known as, ROCK Racing, competing in the Urban Assault Race in St Louis.

The Metro Tri Club Teammates before the race start

Hanging out with one of the best teams in the country (Alpine Shop), who also happens to be the nicest team in the country!

The Crazies


The Starting Line

Motoring around the course

On our way to the park to figure out the mystery clue

Racing against the competition

A tough puzzle to crack

Who knew we could body bowl so well

Run Run as Fast as You Can

One last thing to do!

Come on let’s get across the finish line

Time to cool off

Time to check out the results

Winning – Priceless

August 17, 2010

Training Day

ROCK Racing is always looking for opportunities to learn new racing skills and improve on the ones we have. There have been several local races where a crossing of Keifer Creek in Castlewood State Park was required. So we would pre-ride this section a few days before the race getting the best and fastest technique we could come up with honed to perfection. We always got it done, but it never seemed smooth and fast or graceful.

When we were invited to a mtn bike seminar given by local rider Ben Franke, we were interested. He is a legend in the area. When he told us about his new technique for Keifer creek we just had to be there.

We met the group on the south bank of the creek at the appointed time and prepared ourselves to be amazed. Ben made the run …..and …. the smooth, grace, speed, power, timing, handling, balance and technique were, ummmm, awe inspiring. Too bad the injuries prevented a second demonstration:

August 5, 2010


ROCK Racing has been collecting points all year in the Checkpoint Tracker race series.

We have placed well in several races and earned enough points to put ROCK Racing in the top 10 of the 2person coed division.  We received an announcement this week that we have also qualified for Nationals!

There is a deadline of two weeks to register for the race, so it's only a short time to decide how to handle logistics like: travel, entry fee, required gear, and training for events we've never tried before.  Special thanks to our sponsors Honey Stinger, Kenda, Inov-8, Sport-Multi, and Recovery Sock that helped make this happen!