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Entries from September 14, 2008 - September 20, 2008

Cyclocross Single Ring Set-Up

I've a had a boat load of folks over the last two weeks or so ask me various questions about the single ring set up I have been using for years. Well, roughly since 2002, anyways. I think the most important question, however is why? At first, I ran it because Bart Wellens ran it when he was winning WK's for Spaar Select, so OF COURSE I had to run it! But in all seriousness, I wanted something reliable, always shifted (or more accurately...didn't have to WORRY about shifting the front) and would basically help ensure I could keep going on lap after lap when I had no pit support back in the day.

My initial experiences racing in CA in torrential mud on certain courses (remember El Nino, CA 'crossers in like '98??) taught me quickly that trying to get from the 46 to the 39 was a challenge and I would find myself looking down WAY too much and stressing about not being able to shift. Forget about going back to the 46! So I just dumped the two ring thing and never looked back.

So, for the last 6 years or so, it's been a 42t x 12-25 or 12-27. Personally, I've found that I've never missed anything (e.g. gear-inches) by not having the 46. I could see how it's needed on Euro courses where they've turned into grass crits. But here, the courses are still technical and I think tuned perfectly for a singe ring. In my case, I am running 175 SRAM Red cranks (130bct) with FSA carbon guards. The 42t FSA ring is mounted on what would be the 'big ring' side of the crank, utilizing extra long crank bolts (you can find them at most good MTB shops.) The rest can be explained in pictures...


I have roughly 3-4mm of clearance here. I had my frame builder, Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster allow for this application and he has some phenomenal techniques to bend in the chain stays while keeping them super strong.



The chainline is as you see it. In the 25 or 27, the chain does not rub the guard and has roughly 1mm clearance.


A shot of the chain stay and guards.



Feel free to ask ANY questions you have! I know this was a light post on my application. Maybe I'll get a gear inch chart to analyze the difference between a 39/46 versus 42t single. Stay tuned!


Digital Celluloid...PDX Style

Our brethren in Portland have some incredible riders...and artists amongst their ranks. To capture it all, week by week, starting with the now infamous dirt crit Kermesse's, this gang of photographers will document and provide imagery for us all to see. Imagery that is based all in "the details" of our sport.

The spectacle of cross is not all about the racers and prototypical pictures of them mashing's about the details. It's about the moment a racer grabs her down tube to port. It's about the tire tracks impressed in peanut butter mud. It's about psychotic fans with a beer spilling in one hand as the other cranks out the sweet sound of a cow bell. It's about mud in your teeth...

Book mark this site! It'll likely give you motivation throughout the season to remind you why you do what you do on 'any given Sunday'.

Wednesday Worlds - Week 3

I know why I love Boulder. The weather's good. The people are rad. But it's the psychotic passion for biking that blows my mind. And 'cross is the absolute example of this utter geekdom.

I love it.

Wednesday's Worlds were bar none (and I know I keep saying this), the largest yet. I counted no less that 83 men and women ready to mix it up at Session 1. Crazy. The early morning hupsters got their fill today with Baldwin and Justin England from Toyta United, Phil Zajicek from Health Net, Coyle and team mates from Successful Living and of course ex Boulderite and "Patron Saint of the 69'er" Travis Brown.

Throw down in pain city. Sexcellent.

We got our first session on at Research Center. Paco dialed in the course again and we threw it down hard with attacks everywhere including run ups. I held well in the mix of the top guys...and we literally started lapping people. I think the roadies were taking it safe and watching us as the scrum got more and more intense with each lap.

We finished up and headed en masse to Elks and threw it large again on our favorite loop. Last session, Travis blew a seal I think on a jump, but this time I just sat in and watched how absolutely amazing this guy is. Trust me, my heart was in my throat as we grooved it but I just wanted to study the master in action. The lines chosen and the way he apexes in and out of these lines is so logical and flowy that you can see seconds shave as they happen. What was a foot of distance coming into a turn is suddenly six feet and the need for me to burn matches to bridge. Moving here a some years ago now, when the Wednesday Worlds were like 25 people...including Gully and Travis before they both moved away...I was in awe. And never even near them from the sound 'go'! It was satisfying to be able to be out front and truly enjoying the lessons laid out for me today. Benefits of working harder and being able to see how things really can work and should work in your style and technique.

Always learning....

Anyways, epic early AM. Digital celluloid for your viewing pleasures.

Phil Z
The crew at Elks that could fit in my lens...
Matt Opp's fashion statement
The crew at Elks
Plo's new Ti ride
Pete's war face
Boups and Bobby
Justin E. I raced this dude as a 3 in California. Umm, he's come a looong way! Nice work.
Milling about the Research Park
Successful Living Legend Chuck Coyle
Phil Z in the house
Mike West and Hopwood

The Challenge: Build the Fango and They Will Come

I live in the world of product management. That is, when I am not with my wife and kids or on my bike getting in the efforts. What is that world? Well, it is like the proverbial ‘swivel chair’ situation….where you are a breed of person that are required to swing radically to face different constituencies…all with different attitudes and motivators…. in an effort to get something created, marketed and shipped. We face customers, empathize with their plight and challenges and conversely get inspired by hearing their needs….and quickly swivel that proverbial chair around to face our internal folks…likely engineers who need to translate those requirements into a realistic and actionable plans which lead to product. But all the while there is iteration….

And this is an archetypal story of iteration...and consumer/racer inspired product design. After sitting with Donn Kellogg of Challenge USA tonight and hearing the history of the making of the New 2008 Fango, Challenge's recently launched mud-specific tire, it is clearly about listening to what people want and giving them it.

First, some history that Donn walked Matt Pacocha, Technical Editor for Velonews and I through (FYI: stay tuned for Matt’s extensive testing of these new products on!). Loosely documented here, The Challenge we know now is an Italian-based company which had its roots created from the historic Clement tire manufacture of yore. Roughly 8 years ago, Pirelli Tire Corporation had purchased the assets of Clement and then moved their production to Asia, where in recent times, they decided to exit themselves from this niche vertical and spun off the bicycle tire manufacturing assets. These were then acquired by the major shareholders of Challenge and Challenge USA, a combination of efforts between Mr. Alex Braun and Mr. Donn Kellogg who is based here in the US and a veteran of the industry for more than 35 years.

Once these assets were acquired and operations set up here in the US, it was very clear that Challenge saw the US market as a viable place to put a stake in the ground and fundamentally set their sights to be the premier purveyor of cyclocross rubber…but in a method that didn’t require secret handshakes, trips to Europe, and offering next of kin for the suppleness of handmade tubular tires. The rising popularity of cyclocross here in the States and the clear void of cross-specific parts and equipment was becoming increasingly frustrating for core racers. Local bike shops could not supply a demand that was clearly not going to stop as the word was out that tubulars rule the day for the cross specialist. So someone had to give the people what they wanted.

As part of this process, Donn and the Challenge team listened to their consumers. At first this was primarily hardened racers from teams like Fidea and sponsored rider and Danish National Champ, Joachim Parbo. The feedback was roughly the same: The Grifo is a timeless tread pattern, often copied and suitable for a variety of courses and conditions. But (there’s always a ‘but’), not suitable for the way cross courses were changing and becoming increasngly jmore technical. Sand (e.g. Koksijde) and relentlessly muddy fields (e.g. Hamme-Zogge) were forcing the riders to move towards other brands which offered variety in tread pattern…’stretching’ sacred contracts to the limit of what the definition of a contract's ‘exclusivity’ really means. Dugast’s Pipistrello and its Rhino were game changing for their new patterns could now help their pilots float across sand and grass with nearly zero resistance or rail the muddiest of corners with the Rhino’s new mud specific side 'paddles'.

A reaction had to occur and Challenge stepped up to the…challenge. As stated simply by Donn: “We wanted to produce the best tires in the world at the most realistic price points with the most diversity in our line-up and deliver it all in a manner that makes these products available to any racer looking for performance advantages right from their local bike shop”. That is a business plan any company can hang its hat on.

As part of this reaction, Donn leveraged his ecosystem of hardened US racers….as passionate about their sport as they come…and certainly have lots to say about product requirements for our backyard courses. Donn reached out to Katie Compton, Mark Legg, Brandon Dwight and Matt Pacocha along with Joachim Parbo while here in the States and started planning for an aggressive tread pattern, tough enough for many of the US-based ‘dirt crits’ we experience here in the US in addition to matching up with the handling characteristics of the Rhino in muddy conditions.

Iterations began like all good ideas do: Scribbling on a piece of paper, the very paper seen here.
These ideas were then circulated to the various 'team members’ during each stage. As an example from the transferring of that scribbling to true CAD designs…
...and from the CAD designs iterate into tooling/mold prototypes to begin to gauge knob size, placement etc.
From here Donn worked as pointman in all 'field intelligence gatherer', pit crew, name learn about the needs and conditions and continued to vigorously communicate with this team of influencers until the product met its criteria and production run begun. Start to finish: Roughly less than a year. Incredible in any industry...especially manufacturing.

You have clearly seen some of those initial photos of the Fango Tubular on places like CXMagazine, however behold, I am happy to inform you all that Challenge will offer that SAME Fango tread pattern as a clincher! A Mud and Cowbells exclusive.*
So what is the moral of the story here? It is obvious to me that this is a company which wants dominance in a market...the large and still growing US cyclocross market. Further, they are doing what they need to with the unbelievably small resources they have to get it done and push towards offering the best product which will meet up to the standards of the worst conditions.

As mentioned, stay tuned for Matt P's tests of the Fango and deeper technical descriptions of the product.


Anthem Branding's new "Anthem Brand"

My bro Ted's company, Anthem Branding, has been cranking out designs and marketing product for the Cycling and Lifestyle Sports communities (Snowboarding, etc) for some time now. Have a look at their site, then click on the image below to navigate to their new web-store where you can grab all kinds of rad product!

NEWSFLASH! Niels wins on Dura Ace 7900 'e' !

So KP's comment to my last post about Fidea moving to SRAM and seeing Niel's Dura Ace 7900 levers made me take a deeper look. While he switched bikes considerably between his 7800 equiped Stevens bikes and 7900, the edition he used and proved worked under the stress of 'cross was indeed the 7900 Electronic Shifting edition....

Photo courtesy of

In an email thread with Matt Pacocha this AM, he nailed it out like this to me: Do you realize the implications this will have on 'cross without the need for cables? Spot on. This said, I want to see how these will work in a race like Hamme-Zogge when the peanut butter mud is so thick that it may over-power the ability of the shifting mechanism. That'll be the test of truth. 'Cross in general is the test of truth for any manufacturer looking to validate the worthiness of their bits.

But all in all, this was a major day in the life of cyclocross technology with Niels taking on the role as technology validator....and taking home the "W".

Fidea made the leap

Those even more geek-dified than I am on the equipment tip may have already known this, but spying the photos from Erpe-Mere I believe Fidea is the first Continental pro 'cross team to make the leap to SRAM. Note Bart's SRAM Red. Oh, and his personal leap from Shimano shoes to Sidi White Sex. I knew he'd come around.

Photo ©: foto Isosport

He may not be as PRO as Sven is though given his (and Bart B's) custom modified Shimano road-cum-off road especials...

Cross Racing Week 1: Clean

I couldn't get it out of my head. "Tic begins!....." and the rumbling ambush of guitar that explodes into the song at that point and crescendos to chaos. One of my favorite desert island albums. Helmet. I'll never get over them.

So there I that all too familiar place with some of the greatest folks I've met here in Colorado surrounding me. On the front line of a 'cross. Ward, Tim, Chris P, Jon G, Clay, Jared. Dads, worker bees, athletes. I'll get to that stuff later. And I am there on the front line with this song in my head...

"Tic begins!!!!!!!"

It's beginning. Again. And I'm so happy. I'm staring down at my machine and the perfectly new tread on my Dugasts as the ACA ref counts down 1 minute. And I start to smile.

In one minute...massive reflections of this past summer. No sorrow. I'm smiling. No deep training. I'm smiling. Heart rate which is normally pumping hard in those nervous seconds before a race...decelerating. Calm. I'm smiling.10 seconds. I'm smiling.


I'll get to the race in a minute....

I picked up my A bike last night. Jeremiah, Mike D and D-Wayne all took turns dialing it in. Built on Saturday, picked up at 5 and I 'd planned to just hot lap it at the race in the AM on Sunday. Bottom line, the bike with all its new bits came out AWESOME. 17.03 lbs. Not bad for a fairly big bike...e.g. ~59cm. Some shots of the sex:

So I warmed up with the A bike today fully intending to ride the B bike with the Shimano still affixed which I have been used to for a decade or more (SRAM Force is going on this week on the B). Confession time: I've never ridden more than 10 feet with SRAM before. By 100 meters into my first warm up lap...I GOT it. Everything felt right. From the hoods to the lever's unique 'double tap' use, it all felt completely right. Ward as we're warming up is trying to get into my head: "Dude, you know it is not the smartest idea to race a freshly built bike in a race for the first time...." Yeah, yeah, yeah. But dude IT FEELS SO GOOD! I took a lap on the B and honestly, it wasn’t the same. I had to take the risk. I don't care this season. No points, nothing. I HAD to ride that newbie. Mmmmm. And so it was to be.

"GO!!!" Back to the race….

The smile was likely still on my mug as the ACA ref shouted for the race’s beginning and I instinctively I win the hole shot with very little effort. I want to be out front, get a tempo and stay out of drama. No elevated heart rates or afterburners. Just push a gear that is sensible, 'floaty' and somewhat fast without the watts. That and a subtle punch at the moment I hear go is all it takes.

All in all, I feel I spun it well and sensible in today's 35 Elite race in Breckenridge CO's 10,000 feet of blissful and beautiful altitude. All the while, lap after lap, I'm not thinking with a blood lust to go and vault after the leaders in the late laps of the race. I can see their uniforms in the apex bends in the courses seconds ahead. Instead, I'm whispering to myself. "Clean. Take it clean. No rolled tires. No pressure. Clean lines. Every line clean." I rolled for roughly 1/2 the first lap out front wanting a group to split so I could relax and sit in. Timmy, Ward and Jon C came through and I hung then Jon dropped the gauntlet and I did not want to follow something like that yet. I just spun the legs super 'Lancey' today with a 42 x 23 or 25 in a lot of sections that I’d normally be low in cadence and high in power. Keeping them free of lactic build up and it worked well. I'd float back to groups easily and just hammered along. I spun with Chris P and others for a bit finally settling in with Glen from Moots trading between 4th to 7th place.

By the bell lap, I'm wavering in what could be 5th to 7th...depending upon how I play it. We can see Tim, Ward, Chris P etc in the woods. 35 seconds. My wife and boys are cowbelling their little hands off and Amy is shouting times at me as I swing by each lap. I can see the two white Moots uniforms and Glen and Jon are together for some reason. Jon apparently had a tire and a gear issue and I bridge up and we both attack it at exactly the same time up the final hill in the run towards the finish with TONS of fans going nuts. THAT was great cowbell action folks!! Jon is incredible. He lets his team mate grab the distance watching me carefully marking me PRO style. His strength is incredible as we both go for it and I concede to his 'powah' and we roll in 6th and 7th I believe behind Glen.

I am STILL smiling. It was so good to be back and racing again. Moreover, racing with guys who are some of the best in the country...and all have this rich balance in their lives. Fantastic conversations we have continually and if there is ever a group of folks who can truly parse the words of my crappy blog and 'get it', its them. Perfect.

More digital celluloid.

Drive Dubba;s truck up. Day began in pissing rain at 5,500 feet.
But the bikes looked great all pristine-like....
Seamus trying to port a bike he needs a ladder to get up on.
Chris P, Jon C, Tim F, Glen, Yours truly.
Chris P and his new steeds...
B is identical.
Jon C's Bike. Not sure if he welded this one himself...