Category Archives: Single Speed

Early adopter woes

Oct 1 I ordered the ANT+ updater for my PowerTap MTB hub.  This gizmo upgrades the firmware in the hub such that it transmits on 2 channels:  1 to the power tap computer head, the other channel on ANT+ sport.  The ANT+ channel is a semi-open protocol and several devices speak the language.  Among them in Garmin's Edge 705.

 I picked up a 705 after this years Canadian affair in which I left behind another GPS unit - doh!  The 705 had already caught my eye though because it is ANT+ and would eventually be able to communicate with power transmitting hubs/cranks.

 The ANT+ updater arrived last weekend - the update was fast and easy, with a few other wrinkles though - I'll have those details up on lwcoaching.com eventually.  Once updated, the 705 picked up the PT signal immediately - bingo!

Yet...it is not as simple as it seems.  The 705 uses an (unknown to me) algorithm to smooth the raw recorded data and in the process the integrity of that data is gone.  It baffles me why they take a quality raw data stream and alter it!  It essentially takes the good stuff and turns it into less good stuff.  It's really a bigger issue with variable efforts such as occur in road racing and single speed MTBing.  Steady endurance rides would probably come out similar.  It scrubs about 30% of L6 power from every one of my SS files when compared to the PT CPU.

So heads up y'all.  Gizmo integration is just around the corner but ain't here yet.  If you want a 705 to go with your PM it's best to hold off for now.  If you've spent $1,500 on your sweet power meter you probably want it to record good data and for now that means stick with the PT CPU in the powertap system.

About face

I love my Siren SS.  The bike feels as good and natural as anything I've ever ridden.  Bike and rider blur on this steed.

 Yet, racing it in a geared class is a losing proposition.  If there's one thing I learned racing TransRockies on a SS, it's that going with one gear is a major disadvantage.  It was fun and honestly we didn't walk much more than those near us but when it came to flats and descents we got waxed.  Soooo waxed.  We could climb with the lead teams no problem, but riding with faster open men teams was not an option on the flats.  Pat Doyle even tried to pull us into the draft of a fast train a few times but it was not happening at 200 rpm.

 Never say never - like when I said I'd never need gears on the Siren so buzzed one of the big ring arms off the XTR crank - but I'll never race a SS in a geared class again.  That's stupid.  We have a phrase for that:  "taking a knife to a gunfight."  That's what we did at TR and we got shot ;)

There was an enormous amusement factor.  Like day 2, when we were passed by the entire field on a 20k downhill tailwind paved section.  We literally got to see everyone on course that day as the leaders came hiking back down from that missed turn in the avalanche chute...on the first climb we clawed back through the back half of the field.  It was as if they were standing still.  One guy says quietly to his partner "we just got passed by a dude on a single speed", then LW rolls up and says "it get's better!"  There were a lot of moments like that days 1 and 2.  Drew Bragg, announcer extraordanaire, was astonished day 4 when we came in ahead of the Luna team and only 5 min down on the leaders.  At the awards he called up the Luna team saying they must have had a mechanical to finish behind a SS team, LOL.  Earlier in the day someone asked Katerina Nash how her day went and she grunted "we got beat by the single speeders." 

Amusing for sure.

What doesn't settle so well is putting a number plate on and showing up with a limiting bike.  So we are gonna fix that.  VT125 doesn't quite fit the bill, Payson Stampede does, and doubles as a preview of next years 24 nationals course.

We'll have plenty of competition.  And this time around, gears.

Trans Rockies SS style

In '06 we killed TR.  It was the season's #1 goal.  Coming back for the second time we had no such ambitions.  In fact, our sole goal was to finish.  Of course, we were riding SS bikes - and to my knowledge a 7 day stage race has never been done by a woman and not so many guys.  Modest tho it was, it wasn't a given.  The first day's route climbed 4k' out of the gate at an average 12% grade. How in the heck do you gear for that???

The views from that climb were spectacular.  The Canadian Rockies are massive, one range after another that just keep coming.  Trans Rockies sends you deep into the heart of it all. We started way down in that canyon below.

The descent off that high point featured loads of new singletrack on a top of the world ridge. Much of that was hike a bike. It was snowing. You could say we were out of our desert element ;) We started at the back of the field, worked our way to 3rd (in our field) by the top, finished 7th on the day. There were tough moments but overall a good day was had.

Then came day 2. The most bizarre thing I've seen in a race....2/3 of the field taking a wrong turn, hiking up an avalanche chute (2k+ vert hike a bike) and then flipping it when the mistake was discovered - this sent head size rocks flying in all directions. A few savvy teams bushwacked back to the route from the top rather than flipping it and made massive time gains on the rest of the lemmings.  Of course, they did miss part of the route too.

We spent a good hour on this hike, maybe more. Head down focused on the next foot placement, nobody noticed the orange flagging off to the side of the chute 50 feet at the edge of the forest...

But when the mistake was discovered, faster folks descending merged with slower folks climbing and the field was turned upside down - the back 1/3 of the field had made the turn and entered some slow, largely unrideable new trail. All those faster folks coming down from above stood in line for an hour. Motionless. In a race.

Hestler shouting for his lost partner...Shep, where are you man?

The entire scene was hilarious.  It was obvious to me this day would not count towards the GC so we took it real relaxed the rest of the day.  Gottta keep our eye on the prize - the finish.  We even had a couple of picnics.  Some flatish downed moss covered logs beconed and we had a little snack while cheering on other riders.  Thing was, the hiking plus SSing super steep terrain had done some damage...we were feeling the effects already and the finish was anything but certain at the end of this day.   Can you say achilles strain?

 Canadian Stick boy and Mike Garrigan were one of the finest teams in the event.  Super strong, positive, these guys were a lot of fun to hang out with at the race.  They pulled the win day 2.  Too bad for them it didn't count on GC, but they did get the stage win.  Congrats fellas.

Day 3 we entered the fantasy world of Nipika resort.  Deep in the middle of nowhere but there...trails to die for, a late start team time trial format and lots of time for eating, sleeping, relaxing.  They nailed it with this easier day.

Even our bikes looked happy in Nipika.

I'm pretty sure we had the longest bars of anyone there. Certainly the fewest # of gears ;)

We did not get the honors of the most difficult bike though, that went to Gina and Phil.

Phil also nipped Lynda in the puffy coat contest.

The time trial day 3 went ok for us. It was a perfect course for SS riding, but we were still coming around from the efforts of the first 2 days. Steady was the name of the game, and we completely enjoyed the individual start. Starts on a SS really suck in big fields of gearies and I doubt either of us will do that again. The individual start meant we had our little bubble for the whole day and we made the most of it.

Strategy. Um, yea. Lynda was the one with the goals of just to finish, but I knew she would be kicking some butt from day 4 forward. She always does. My secret hopes included 1 trip to the podium during the event. Her mojo was rising day 3, it was obvious (to me) what was next. It wasn't obvious to her, and when I started talking about "racing" (remember, we were just trying to finish this beast) she didn't like it at all. So, I just zipped it, said nothing and would let nature take it's course. A perfect plan ;)

Day 4. The start was not so unfriendly as the first 2 days for us. On the first climb we had a clear view of 4 mixed teams at one time and all the gals were being pushed by their guys. That was a red flag to my firebrand partner and we were off like a shot. It wasn't long before we caught the 2nd placed mixed team Luna (Steve Wallace/Katarina Nash) and we yoyoed with them a bit as they surged to keep pace and the terrain rolled. On the next climb we left them and put in a solid effort. It was a beautiful climb! River crossing, new singletrack, big climb ending in hike a bike. We were having a great day...and suddenly riding with folks we usually only see at dinner time as Dicky likes to say. On day 4 we passed all the leaders jerseys aside from the Italians.

From the top of this climb was a 45 km downhill dirt road. Ugh. Could we possibly hold off the Luna juggernaugt for that distance? We didn't know but we were gonna give it a whirl. There was no way to hold on to passing teams draft with our gearing. But, there were some sections of rougher terrain and towards the end even a slight headwind - both favorable for us. It was amazing to be passed so few times. We were in the top 20 overall and I was certain we'd be passed by 20 teams on this section. Towards the end Lynda says "I see purple!" I say "no way" (purple is the color of the mixed leaders jersey) but sure enough there was Norm and Wendy fixing a flat. They were super positive as we went by at 180 rpm, telling us we were hauling ass. Our virtual lead lasted all of 68 seconds, they came flying by in their big rings as we knew they would. We were still working it for all we could to hold 2nd...which we did with 10 min to spare. I was shocked when I saw the splits. Best of all, we rocketed up to 3rd on GC on that day's performance - and we were just getting warmed up.

Day 6 looked like a real toughy, so we decided to take it easy day 5. Easy being a relative term on a SS, we still rode right up to Luna on the first climb. I was a bit ahead of Lynda when that happened, and I didn't want to get into a dog fight with them today so I got off the bike and whipped out the camera.

Lynda on an easy day, hot on the heels of day 3's 80+ stage winner ;)

An enjoyable cruise that day, and without working very hard we landed 3rd.

Day 6 had something over 12k' vert, a paved uphill start, big climbs and some elevation - we figured it would be favorable for us so we hit this one hard. No camera in tow this day. It was funny how the initial fatigue days 1 & 2 had us wondering if the finish would be attainable, and the eve of day 5 we were deep in 2-epic thinktank strategic mode. It's definitely one of the things I love about us :) We are happiest when racing. As we were flying up the first big climb we both recognized that no matter the outcome of the day we were living large, it was a day to remember. We did give this one our all. As it turned out the route wasn't as favorable for SS as we thought - lots of spun out stuff in the middle after racehorse pass and then some stuff just a tad too steep to ride with our gearing at the end. But when I saw the splits, that we were only 13' adrift of Norm/Wendy on a 6 hour day - riding SS bikes - well I was ecstatic. Our teamwork this day was top notch and we dug deep into the well. It felt great at the end of the day.

Until the awards, that is. We were passed by a mixed team in the last few miles but since she didn't ride the first 2 (hard!) days after getting food poisoning, forcing her team into the unclassified ranks, we didn't imagine they would be reclassified after she rejoined the race. But alas, it was a Canadian team...so we ended up a dissappointing 4th on the day.

Day 7 started with some nosebleed steep climbs and hikes, featured endless rolling roads in the middle, with a touch of sweet singletrack for the finale into Fernie. We didn't ride hard at all this day, all we had to do to protect our 3rd GC spot was a consistent ride, and that's what we did. We were both a bit tired but would cheer each other up by noting that we were gonna finish this beast - on single speeds.

Does this gal look tough enough to SS TR?

Blissed out on the Kaibab

Last Saturday was the annual running of the Kaibab Monster Cross on the Kaibab plateau.  We had tossed around several incarnations of how to do this one...how it ended up was that I raced, Lynda & the kids explored the North Rim, then the day after the race we switched roles.  It was a blissful, perfect weekend.  We all got home exhausted and smiling.

Carrying on with the year's theme, I raced SS.  That wasn't my first choice, but a few days before the event Brendan showed up with the new Siren SS 29er, and I couldn't resist.  The first ride on it was like a magic carpet...it fits like a glove, is a perfect balance between sharp handling and stable, and even though it's aluminum it's more compliant than the Explosif frame.  Go figure.

A picture is worth a million words.  'nuff said :)

This years was more fun than last year - maybe it's the SS factor, maybe it's the slightly cooler weather (or maybe I'm just adapted to heat living in St George), maybe it's cause I knew what to expect.  For sure last year's event was affected by the Grand Loop fatigue 2 weeks prior.  In any case, I love racing SS.  It's easier.  There is lots of spun out time in a long route...and that means you get to take in the views, relax a bit more, burn fewer calories and not get as wiped as with a steady geared pace.

5am AZ time start.  Here's the gang ready to go.

 Nathan was another SSer present.  He totally ripped the Sedona Big Friggen Loop, so his presence meant there was a SS race to be had.  Dave, Chad, Andy, Brian, Calvin and Rob rounded out the field.  How often to you know the entire field by name? 

I rode with Brian and Calvin for the better part of the first 2 hours.  I was most surprised to be able to keep contact on descents and fast sections - after an initial short climb, the route descends for oh, at least 10 miles.  My cleats loosened up so I had to stop to tighten them up...but other than that we stayed together.

Mile 30 or so there's a long, gradual climb/false flat that was perfect for my gearing and I started to motor on.  The threat of 2 weeks in CA (business trip) was a real possibility, so I decided I was gonna give this thing some punch so I wouldn't even want to ride for at least the first week ;)

Rainbow Rim trail is such a treat.  Sweet, buff singletrack on the rim of the GC, doesn't get much better than that.

This pic is from Timp point about 1/4 mile from the trail.  Click for big to see Thunder River.

From RR is the dreaded climb to ~9200' on exposed, dusty roads.  But for whatever reason, it went by in a blur this year.  Cool breezes and tailwinds...before I knew it there was Deer Lake....

Yes, Deer Lake.  There is a store about 3/4 mile off-route, but I forgot cash.  Dipstick.  But the emergency kit always contains chem tabs and I didn't need more calories.  So, in Carol Ann's honor this year I drank Deer Lake water.  It's a stagnant pond full of swimming creepy things, moss, and ringed with hoofprints.  Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  Shoes off, I waded out a ways to get the water away from the shore.  It was cool and felt great!  What was even better, the water had a not so displeasing "extra" taste factor.  Nutrient dense!

AZT was next.  Quite possibly my favorite part of the course, the flowing woodsy singletrack on the East Rim. This can't be AZ!

The drop to the infamous East Side Game Road was extra rubbly this year, and the game road was tough for the first few miles then became a very enjoyable cruise through dense wildflowers in a burn area.  White, yellow, orange, blue, red - all represented.  I was racing my ass off through here.  The next climb was going to be mostly hiking so I'd use that to recover.  Turns out some of the climb was rideable on the SS and it went by quicker than I expected.  Cool!

Visions of a sub 11 hour ride started to pop into my head and I drilled the last 9 miles as hard as I could, but it didn't quite happen.  11:09 - 1:08 faster than last year (geared!).  I'll take it.

 A conundrum, no?  I NEVER expected to go this fast on a SS on this route.  How is this possible...

Sunday Lynda got to taste the singletrack sections of KMC while I went exploring with the kids.  Wes just couldn't believe that a white patch a mile off-road was snow...had to be rocks.  It's 100+ in StG, there can't be any snow in the whole wide world, right?

So let's go find out!

Yep, it was snow afterall.  Power slides with candy in hand.  Broken arm be damned, power slides were ON.

Don't be fooled by the barbie, that hand with the snowball means business!

All in all, a weekend the likes I've never experienced.  Makes a guy want to freeze time and space.

New toy for this boy

Siren Mary, Brendan, and Matt stopped by for a bit yesterday.  They are on their way to Banff for Mary's start to Tour Divide.  Mary looks so good!!!  Calm, strong, witty, she's in a great space leading to this most epic of epics.  We talked strategy and equipment...they even pulled her bike off the car for us to spin around a bit.  Killer handlebar setup with tons of position options from cruiser upright to aero back stretching.  Sorry, no pics (I was slacking on the camera dept!).

They also left us with this little beauty.

I never thought I could be so excited for a hardtail...my times have changed.  This bike has a long history already...to keep the story short, it never could have happened without Lynda.  It's been custom built by Brendan to my specs with the goal of multi-day SS forays in mind, hence the big front triangle for frame bag storage.  It's a 29er.  Did I mention it's a single speed?

It just so happens I have a pair of sweet liteweight wheels laced up by MC to go on her.  The Explosif is getting canibalized - at a frame weight of 1.5 lbs heavier than the Siren it's been benched ;) 

There's been lots of help getting it built up.

First ride in a few hours!  Then I'll break it in at KMC this weekend.  How better to get the ride dialed, eh?

Time has been tight lately...too much livin' to keep up on the blog - but TransUtah explorations continue.  The latest was a foray to find an entrance to the west side of the Paunsagunt plateau - not as easy as one may imagine.  Private land everywhere in the valleys beneath the rim, you can get within a mile of Forest Lands most anywhere but that last mile could get you shot...success was finally had though, here's the teaser.

From June 08

KT his & hers

On Sunday Lynda and I set out to put in a fast time on the Kokopelli trail on our single speed Konas.  The punchline:  we both finished in record time, LW @ 15:21 and DH @ 13:19.  It was a day of 2 Epic love!  Here's the nitty gritty.

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Last weekend - when many riders had set their sights on a Kokopelli trail ride - we stayed local for some important events that had been on the calendar all year.  I never imagined I'd be excited for such things...but what can I say.  Life has expanded lately and I'm finding room for all of it.

May 25 was the date we had set aside for our spring KT run.  When we first planned it, it was to be a SS mission for speed.  Then events seemed to get the better of us.  LW had to back off the training for awhile, then I got a last second request to be in LA for business all last week.  A week in gridlock at sea level is rather lousy prep for KT!  Honestly, we had scrapped the KT idea a month ago.  Well, verbally between us, anyway.  I had my secret hopes to keep the ride alive...and had actually tailored my training for the push.

I got back from CA Fri night.  Sat morning we looked at the forecast for Moab/Fruita and it looked perfect.  What do ya know, LW was all fired up to do it, too.  Our KT rose from the ashes of burnout and city dwelling...now the question was how to put the logistics together  and get on the road ASAP to get'r done?  A $250 shuttle, that's how...Sun 12:30 AM we arrived in Moab with enough time for a 2 hour nap.  LW blasted off at 3:10 AM, I left at 4:17 AM.

Initially it was all familiar.  Heading up Sand Flats in the dark, how many times have I done that now?  What was completely different though this time was the tension in the legs caused by 34.18 gearing and 225 oz fluids on board.   And, Lynda was riding ahead of me.  Just past the turn off of Sand Flats road she had drawn a big ol heart in the sand in a spot I couldn't miss...who knew such experiences awaited on the KT?

LW had similar gearing - 34.19 - and we both thought the La Sals were waaaay harder than with gears.  Yes, we are human and both of us ended up walking on pavement - more than once too.  Between the SS challenge and the extra weight I was hauling for this one (my water filter is AWOL!  Anyone seen it?) I hit the top of the La Sals 15 min later than normal, 3 hours.  I wasn't too concerned though as I figured since I wasn't going to filter I was actually already ahead of schedule.  What an optimist ;)

The N Beaver descent was fun as always and before I knew it there was RGH.  A short climb later and it was time for probably the toughest part of the ride, the rubbly Cottonwood canyon climb.  This thing kicked my ass.  I whimpered.  I walked.  Whimpered some more.  Stopped and stretched my back some.  I cursed no less than 6 false summits.  It was less than 40 minutes but felt like a lifetime.  In '06 Jon Brown set the SS KT record and won the OA as well.  He said he walked most of this section, now I understood why.  I descended the Shandies somewhat shellshocked by the difficulty of the La Sals with a sudden respect for anyone that has SSed this thing.  Some courses seem easier to me on SS, but not this one.  Not by a longshot.

At the bottom of Cottonwood canyon there was Lynda filtering water.  Record attempt be damned, I couldn't just ride on by an encounter with my dream girl now could I?  Of course not :)

6:16 to Dewey.  Or, should I say what was Dewey.  45 min off the pace of my last two rides here.  Hmmmm.....could I cover the next ~76 miles in 7 hours?  I wasn't so sure.  I thought about sticking my feet in the swollen Colorado river until LW got here then finishing with her.  But I wasn't yet ready to throw in the towel.  I ramped it up for Yellow Jacket, felt great and did it in 57 minutes.  How about that.  Game ON.  It was going to be close, but I now recognized the sensations....a challenging goal, a ticking watch, 75 miles of trail and a deadline.  I suddenly felt great.  Towards the end of Yellow Jacket an ATVer asked me if I had a minute:  "sorry, I don't" and kept on motoring.  I was on a mission.  Hey, if LW only gets 4 minutes this guy gets nothing!

The KT is a biatch to gear for.  In the La Sals you want small gearing for the long, sustained steep climbs.  In the rolling to flat east section a big gear would be great.  What is fastest?  The challenge beyond McGraw bottom was maintaining concentration to rev it up to 19 mph, coast to 14-15, repeat...for miles on end.  It wasn't that hard to do being a high cadence guy, but it was easy to forget to do it.  Kinda strange, eh?

I wondered where LW was and how she was fairing...

There was a surprise appearance of Chris and Marni at McGraw bottom.  What a nutcase, he just did the KT SS a week prior and was back out there touring it with friends.  Manic!  I slowed as I came up to them but they told me not to lose my flow so no unclipping occured.  Being cheered on during a self-support event was confusing and welcome all at once.

Water.  I had to make a call:  head to Westwater for a refill as I was getting quite low, or continue on at risk of dehydration but without the 15-20 min time penalty.  I knew there wasn't much time to spare, if any...I'd been rationing water for quite awhile which was affecting ability to fuel.  It was all getting rather thin, but I had a lot of cytomax gels that didn't need much water.  Then I remembered the chem tabs in my first aid kit.  No brainer:  no WW detour, treat some Salt Creek brine if I really have to.

Last year I did the desert section of the KT many, many times.  It has great flow and I was really looking forward to it.  The part between Westwater and Rabbit Valley in particular is full of fun terrain, great for the SS, lots of rolling short climbs and fast descents.  It did not dissappoint!  OK it was Memorial weekend and the ATVer factor was pretty high.  LW was even harrassed by one of them.  Evidently it made him feel good to harrass a 105 lb gal on a SS.

The difficulty of doing a blog for the two of us when we didn't ride together should be obvious...but here's one piece of her ride I do know about.  There's this short hike a bike and there were some ATVers there, watching her  hike this thing that the ATVs have beat into dusty oblivion.  One guy has the gall to tell her she needed a motor, to which she replied "Honey, I've got only one gear and I started at Moab 3am this morning!" 

Spunky!  But that's nothing coming from this gal.  The other day she noticed a bunch of cigarette butts in her yard, obviously they came from the neighbors flicking them over.  She picked them up, took a big handful over to the neighbors door, knocked, and when he answered said "here these are yours" after which he put his hand out and she filled it up...and he was clammoring on the ground picking up the ones that fell through his fingers, stammering all the while...

They don't call her Mighty Mouse for nothing!

Right, so this bike ride....forward progress continued...the Salt creek drop in was surprisingly rideable.  I arrived dry.  Gawd I've never done a KT in the Moab to Fruita direction when I didn't drink this nasty thing, it always makes me thirstier.  I had something like 1:35 to match the current record leaving from Salt Creek.  I was pretty sure nothing short of a catastrophe would get in my way.  I could taste success.  Then, shortly after the first hike a bike, wow my legs were just noodles.  It was an unfamiliar sensation for sure.  I could barely pedal and felt sort of strange.  Maybe it was the chem tabs from Salt creek?  LW tells me it's something called a bonk.  Well anyway, gels, figs and salt creek brine chased it away...and then the snake episodes.  Snakes!  Not once, but twice I had to climb around snakes that wouldn't leave the trail, and I wouldn't roll over them.  It was steep rocky and not much fun...more time burned.  Now it was getting tight.

Troy built just is never that much fun after 138 miles.  That climb was a hike.  But from there it was fun ripping tech singletrack to the finish.  Mary's was never ending, mostly cause I was watching my watch - 14 minutes...12...10...9...oh thank gawd there's that last climb! 

13:19, a meager 7 minutes faster than Jon's '06 ride, but hey, I'll take it.

 LW rolled in shortly afterwards.  That girl is so gritty...doing KT in a day requires some prior planning.  We both paid the price for the last minute decision to do it.  My price was a lack of a water filter, hers was forgetting to swap out her saddles.  I'm not going into details, other than to say her price was much higher than mine ;)  OUCH! 

Oh yea, we both rode our PowerTap MTB Disc wheels laced up by MC.  They both worked too!  My stats were:

6987 kJ
156 W ave
207 W normalized power
VI: 1.32, just about what every SS ride turns out to be...
11.3 ave speed
12:42 rolling time
13:19 elapsed time - which means stopped time was 37 min, but actually less cause the rolling clock stops when carrying for hike a bikes.  So prolly under 30 min time stopped.  That's as good as I've done on the KT.

With this ride, I think I can speak for us both that this obsession has found closure.  The KT is beautiful, wonderful riding.  And so are many other places...the quest moves on to new pastures.