Entries in 29er (13)
38. Thirty eight. Years passed and stuff learned. And yet I never felt younger. Should it come, I'd be satisfied. Failing it coming, I can look forward with wide eyes and determined nerves. Happy.
I crave it, year after year. The changing of the leaves, the donning of fleece, the running of thinner knobbier rubber...and yet Colorado makes it difficult to envision the season of the changing leaves with it's desert like surroundings. The rain pours today like it has for days and it's green. All green. And wet. And Belgium...and I slip back to Mol...
I watched my Rhino rip into the peat-like earth. I brought the tire back to its place of birth. And while I should have been watching the bends in the lush singletrack they call a 'cross course, I couldn't help but look down and watch as the cotton casing and the perfectly pliable rubber bent and molded to the earth, sending small wakes of peat into the air as I turned the wheel left and right. Perfect. God's good earth given to us to race on.
Ned reminded me of this last night with Whit-J and Dubba. After work frolics to blow the tubes out on soil that should have been dusty and hard. Instead, our 29" wheels and tires dug into the earth in the same manner, getting me stoked for the season to come.
We're here. What did you do to get ready for cross? Years ago I would have said intervals or barrier work or suffer or...well, honestly anything naive. And now...simply....carve. Just let the tires do the work and smile.
So, when speaking Mike about the Revolver 29'er he made for me, I asked him who the person was behind the torch. Mike for many years had Paul's gifted hands assemble his designs on the jig, but Paul's demand has been increased given the growing popularity of 'cross in particular so trying to find windows where he could focus on Mike's bikes was growing harder. Mike was able to source a new welder and as Mike explained to me one of the best in California was responsible for sticking the tubes together.
My Revolver was welded by Jason Groves of El Camino Fabrications. His site has a great collection of photos of the types of frames and welding techniques but is building a fantastic rep for his own frame designs. He cut his teeth at Boeing before his bike lust pulled him from teh multi billion dollar aerospace industry into the less lucrative bike industry all due to the passion. I love that. He worked at Control Tech, Titus and Strong frames and other places before launching El Camino Fab. And while he now calls Oaktown home, homie, Jason lived in Fruita so he's practically a local. No wonder why my Revolver rips it out here in the CO terrain.
The latest Mountain Flyer issue has a great write up of various frame builders highlighted at the NAHMBS including a spot on Jason and El Camino fab. Keep an eye out for this guy!
Dialed. I have finally got the Ahrens Revolver 29'er dialed. And I will say this: TIGHT! Mike, my friend, you did it boy. You built me the perfect bike.
I ended up going for Ritchey WCS bits featuring a 120mm 4-Axis stem which I have on all my bikes. With it flipped an the steerer now cut, I feel more comfortable on this bike positionally than any mountain bike I've had before....and that is nearly an IMPOSSIBLE statement for me considering I have been saying for a decade + that my 1996 Dean Colonel frame was (and still is) perfect.
So why do I say this and not just giving props to my hombre who built me this frame (and trust me, Mike as an engineer by trade want me to nuke it if it wasn't performing)? I would say that it boils down to this:
- Geometry: Mike knows my style of riding is extremely aggressive. If there is even the slightest lip or bump, I'm launching it and he knows after years of riding with me that I'm pretending I'm Lopes most days in the woods carving and wheelie-ing and leaning. You get the picture. But specifically, the head and seat angles are spot on and tight for the type of immediate steering precision and wheel-under-ass acceleration I love. I do NOT want a hook and ladder fire engine feel for my mountain bikes and I feared that going to a 9'er would immediately give me this degradation to my riding experience and slow the whole feeling of the bike down. NOT the case! The bike feels equally stable bombing fire roads as it is nimble when I rail the big wheels and my 6' 2" carcass around trees in tight single track. Recommendation if you talk to Mike about your Ahrens: Add an infinitesimal degree change to the front steering (to slacken) and a 1/4" to 1/2" to the rear wheel base to lengthen and it will fit that nearly all-around riding style. My proto frame is perfect for me, but may not be ideal for all riders and these tiny production run changes will be the nut.
- Design: Yummy. What makes Mike's bikes nice to look at relates to the whole picture. The Gothic graphics are rad but it's the frame aggressive style and overbuilt appearance that make me stare at my own bike like Augustus staring at a Wonka bar. Mike is an engineer's engineer and it shines through with the over-built qualities of the bits holding the Easton 7005 (or Scandium) tubes together. Mike will CAD himself through complicated problems of his frames for his customers to eek at the best performance to weight to strength ratio. And he has nailed it. My 4.4 pound XL frame built up to approximately 24 lbs and change but the solidity of the yokes...the BB yoke in particular shown here is spectacular. It is pure beef having been CNC'd out of a solid block of 7K series aluminum and the acceleration I mention above is in part due to this and the beefy chain stays. Yet the lightness factor is still maintained. Incredible. Many frame manufacturers are now coming to Mike for his engineering work on complicated problems like sliding drop outs and other bits he now OEM's to them.
- Stuff Mike is not responsible for: Mavic CrossMax 29'er wheels and Shimano XTR Groupo. Both are capital N nuts. The Mavic's are bomber. I bought them as I have the 26" version on my 1 x 1 and they are so solid under that kind of stress it is crazy. I am running them tubeless thanks to Tim Faia's donation of the Bontrager tires to try out (which are AWESOME and hook up beautifully in our terrain here in CO). The wheels are not stupid light but I will take a bit of heft for reliability and solidity any day. There is no flex. Say again: NO flex. The way I like it. The Shimano bits are as you would expect: Flawless. I am running the paddle shifters this time (I ran the integrated set on my old Moots) and I like the feel. Shifting is super crisp...about as crisp as my Dura Ace on my cross bikes and road bike. As mentioned before, I made the mistake of getting the Mavic's in the 6 bolt pattern and not the Shimano lock ring style. So, I am running Hayes rotors with the XTR brakes and they are super solid.
Friday was one of those days you don't want to have. It was a day where I needed to play manager and to a larger extent, overseer of our business. Issues arose and they needed to be solved to ensure continuity and at the core, a copacetic group of team members who can communicate and proceed to do the right thing for the business.
Drama must end. I needed to let someone go.
Terminating someone's employment is never easy. But each time I am forced to do this, or an old friend leaves this business, it is interesting in "modern times" how the right of passage (at least for me) in acknowledging the departure of a coworker is when I move them from the ''Work Folks" bucket to the "Friends" bucket in my IM's. Sad but true. The simple click/drag/drop from one simple IM bucket to another helps me with closure. At least I think it does. It sucks regardless.
What also helps me with tough weeks is turning the brain to channel zero as I write about constantly. I do this with rides....especially rides with those I consider close friends and team mates which always helps focus on them, and not 'real life' for a while. Today, il squadra's ride was super fun and fast and woodsy and windy....and epic. Today, we railed Hall Ranch with the Rocky Mounts boys (and girl!). More on this below by way of pictures.
Some other things that helped me fight through the toughness of the week: White Sex Arriveth. I laughed to myself when the box arrived from our team deal with Boulder Cycle Sport when I normally would have been a surly beeatch due to the work drama. I literally said to myself, "Ah, the white." And I laughed a laugh to myself.
My wife saw me holding the new white goodness while maniacally smiling, and made HUGE fun of me. "Ah, nice, Greg. More white shoes. You are a little bitch." And then I walked out to my workshop and laid the new set of Sidis by his brothers. And I realized, I am Imelda Frigging Marcos.....
And then the WB pulls up in his grocery getter. This is how the boy rolls. He, like it, is like buttah.
Voila. Za Ahrens Revolver 29'er. She is finished. Well, almost. I have a few parts to swap out while I try stem lengths etc. Mike D at BCS built 'er up for me in like 2 hours. He's PRO. Thanks Mike! I'll have extensive reports on the ride soon once she is completely dialed but the net is that it feels GREAT. Super balanced to say the least and spot on in terms of sizing. The pictures below will give you an idea of the parts selection, but have a look at the frame details in particular. All the bits you see like the yokes are all CAD designed by my bro Mike Ahrens who then has them CNC'd out of a block of aluminum, and welded together with Easton 7K series (in my case...Scandium is an option).
Some notes on the bike build:
- The 08 XTR is as you expect: sick.
- Reba fork: sick. Out of box feel is so spot on, I am not quite sure how I would modify it to get a better feel.
- I ordered a Chris King tall base plate to ensure enough clearance between the frame's downtube and the top caps of the Reba. Perfect.
- I have a SRAM front der. I ordered the wrong XTR one. D'oh!
- Thanks Tim Faia and Bontrager for the tubeless tires!!
- I swapped out the XTR rotors for Hayes as the Mavic wheels are a 6 bolt pattern, and not the XTR lock ring design.
- Ritchey WCS post, stem and bars will be swapped.
- You love the white grips and seat you sluts.
Maybe the signs will indicate when I'll be fast again. Oh, wait, I suppose I've got to apply some pressure to the pedals and watch those funny little numbers on that PowerTap go up and stay up. For months.
I'm riding, less training these days. That all begins May 1 provided the other things swirling around my personal ecosystem work their way towards resolution. And even with that, could affect my May 1 kickoff. But I swear to you that I still ache in a bad way when I am getting in my efforts now. True, deep bone and muscle ache...and not that sweet ache you get from cracking/tearing the muscles during the first few workouts, but the type that is like someone banging a garbage can with an Easton bat to get my attention...telling me that 'your shit's not right.' Couple of muscle sessions with the WB's guy should straighten me out.
The 29er parts are in! All shiney new 2008 XTR and Ritchey bits for the Ahrens. More mountain biking will make me a less surly man. The Signs indicate that less surly are needed and are soon to be had.
The frame arrived today! In all honestly, I am so focused on 'cross now, I do not know when I'll build this thing up! But knowing me, the impatience will grow and I'll pull the trigger next week. The Mavics should be here end of month as well. Maybe I'll strip down my other bike but the 2004 XTR on it is absolutely hazed. The good news is that putting the tape measure up to it shows that the dimensions are all consistent with my other favorite frames so I should be golden. The shaped Easton tubing on this is sick as well (note the top tube and downtube junctions near the head tube). Similar to my Easton Scandium Rock Lobster.
The beauty of Mike's work is in the CNC. He's got ProE dialed and is integrated with some great CNC manufacturers in the area. He can get from design to prototype to production in fewer cycles. Very cool. Anywhoo, some bike porn:
I love Mavic. In fact, with the exception of my FSA's, Mavic is all I use across every one of my my bikes, MTB, road and 'cross. I made a call to our good friend at Mavic and explained the 29'er project being worked on and he graciously said a pair of the allusive CrossMax 29'ers could be sourced to help out. Stoked! I run the 26" version of these for rim brakes on my 1 x 1 and love their performance. Stoke dto have a bigger version.
I believe these are Tubeless which is a concern of mine as I've never run native tubeless or Stans. Moving aside the tubeless versus tubed debate, can anyone recommend a set of Tubeless 29'er tires worth their salt? I run the Hutchinson Python tread (tubed version) on my MTB and think it's about a C+ or maybe B in terms of quality but woudl love something better. Suggestions? I need to check and see if these wheels can run tubed tires as an option. Not clear on this....
Photo by Guitar Ted.
The 29'er project is moving along. Miguel, as all great engineers and designers are, is obsessing over the fine points. Very PRO. I think I will be going with the Reba Air for this. I have both Fox and Rock Shox on my other bikes and do not have an issue with either company (making reference to the religious debate over Fox having shite bushings and Rock Shox being like a noodle). The Fox 29'er is still too tough to get as it is in an OEM deal only with Trek through 08 some time. Bunk.
I'm really looking forward to getting this dialed. Got to sell some stuff (any one want a L Moots YBB frame?? Let me know before I throw up on eBay.) Love that bike but its time for me to get on big wheels.