2016 Giant City Trip

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This weekend I joined my teammates in southern Illinois for four days of road riding.  It’s my fourth year going to annual trip, and it seems to get better every year.  The weather was beautiful all weekend with temps ranging from mid 50º’s in the morning and mid 70º’s in the afternoon.  The rain stayed away every ride and the winds were manageable.

The roads around Makanda Illinois are great for road riding.  Lot’s of elevation to go up and down, what feels like turns and hills every quarter-mile or less make it a roller coaster all weekend.

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The breakfast every morning at the lodge is one of my favorites.  Hearing about moves from the previous days rides, tales exaggerated, or stories of shenanigans from the previous night are the perfect complement to the good food.

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Our lodge was great this year and served as the hangout most evenings including the second annual wine tasting party, a favorite of the weekend.  The breathalyzer that shows up every year adds some excitement to the evening.

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Friday’s ride had a little extra gasoline added to the fire with the help of eight of us representing our Illinois State Champion jersey’s, something that seems to draw out more fun fierce riding.

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My weekends riding totals tallied to 211.9 miles ridden, 14,101 feet of elevation climbed, in just under 12 hours pedaling.  I love cycling trips, I love this team, I love this yearly thing I get to be involved with.  It’s the type of weekend for me that I know I’m living in one of those moments that you’ll look back on and tell stories and smile about.

Day 1 Ride Data
Day 2 Ride Data
Day 3 Ride Data
Day 4 Ride Data

2015’s Giant City Trip
2014’s Giant City Trip

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Alabama Spring MTB Trip

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One of the best parts of spring in terms of cycling is the excitement to get outside and ride.  Some of my friends and I put a spring mountain bike trip together to Alabama over the winter to get in some warm dry trail time.  This past weekend we enjoyed the fruits of our planning.  We spent three days riding Oak Mountain and Coldwater Mountain trail systems with great weather, it was a lot of fun.  I loved the mix of real deal flow and rock tech.  Hanging out with friends both on the trail and off was a relaxing and great time.  My Ibis has never felt better, I love the one by drivetrain.

Day one was a shorter 10 mile ride racing the weather to get in a loop at Oak Mountain.

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We stopped by Good People Brewery for a post ride drink after day one before dinner at an old train station that’s been transformed into a really neat restaurant.

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The house we rented for the weekend was an older home with a great porch to hang out on and soak in some southern sunshine.

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The second day was a full loop at Coldwater Mountain.

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Day three was a return to Oak Mountain for a full day of riding.2016-03-26 17.45.19 2016-03-26 17.13.04

The Boulder Ridge trail at Oak Mountain was one of my favorites of the trip.  Here’s a short video of me rolling through some tech shot by a good friend.

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The trip was a great bonus to the spring so far.  It feels like we all added a great trip into our year super early.  We enjoyed some tech and flow not found at home, southern hospitality, and sunshine.  My favorite trails of the trip were Boulder Ridge, a traversing large rock filled tech trail I could spend hours on finding new lines up and down larger rocks than my car and Thunder trail at Oak Mountain.  Thunder trail was easily the most flowly trail I’ve ever ridden.  It had deep cut berms on every turn, sixty foot rolling ravines and more six-foot rollers you could pump or jump than you can count.  The combination of those two trails alone was worth the trip.  I’ll be happy to add the spring MTB trip into a yearly event, it was a reenergizing and relaxing time spent with good people on good trails.

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Bike Update: Ibis HD3

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I love my Ibis HD3.  It’s a great trail bike that goes up and down amazingly well.  It eats up tech and rock on the downs and pedals better than any 160mm travel bike should have a right to.  The DW Link suspension is shockingly good.  All of that said, some parts of my initial build were not aligning with what I want wanted in a trail bike.

Imagine cresting a mountain peak or climb and the trail points down with lots of rocks staring back at you.  No problem, just drop the dropper seat post, switch the front derailleur to the big chainring, and possibly change a setting on the shock.  That’s too much for me.  It took away from enjoying the moment one too many times.  The two by drivetrain had to go in favor of a one by drivetrain.  I wanted to keep the gear ratio spread of my two by drivetrain to not limit the bike meaning I needed a 10-42 cassette and a 28 tooth chainring according to the magical gear chart.  Problem is I didn’t want to do a full XX1 build because I love the reliability and feel of Shimano shifting.  Enter my dive into what others have termed XXTR.  A mix of Sram XX1 parts and Shimano XTR parts to accomplish a Shimano shifting 10-42 spread in the cassette.  The hybrid of the best of two companies.

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The Sram X01 10-42 cassette paired with an 11 speed XTR derailleur is made supposedly better by a Wolf Tooth Goat Link.  A XD Driver was added to my DT Swiss 240s hub to allow the Sram cassette.  Time will tell but so far it shifts like a dream anywhere in the cassette.  Multi shifts, no problem.  Big cog, small cog, no complaining.

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The front end of the mix is a Race Face Next SL crankset paired with a Wolf Tooth 28 tooth chainring.  A Sram XX1 chain makes the front end talk to the backend.

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A Shimano XTR 11 speed shifter on the new S-Works DH carbon handlebar (trimmed to 750mm) rounds out the drivetrain.

While I had my favorite bike shop working on the drivetrain, I also had them change some other things like moving the XTR 180mm rotor from the back to the front and installing a new XTR 160mm rotor on the back.  The brakes felt a little overkill last year and I needed to replace the 203mm rotor anyways.

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I also swapped out the Specialized Purgatory Grid tire on the rear for a Specialized Slaughter Grid rear tire to hopefully get a better roll out of the tire.  It’s made up of really tight small knobs in the center and bigger knobs on the outside of the profile.  Time will tell, but friends like the tire.

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I’m really happy with bike.  My local bike shop Bloomington Cycle & Fitness killed it.  The owners Scott and Caryn, along with everyone else that proudly puts on a staff shirt make the difference between just another store in town to get what you need and a place that radiates good feelings.  They are super knowledgable, easy to talk to, and love making your experience special every time you’re in there.  Good people, seriously.

I’m heading down to Alabama for a four-day tech and flow adventure with some good friends about the time you’ll be reading this.  I can’t wait to ride the bike and spend time with good people on vacation.

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A Little Moab Mud

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I was gathering gear to ride my cross bike last night and grabbed my mountain bike shoes.  I paused and smiled.  There was a lot of dirt and mud splashes looking back at me, but not just any dirt.  This was red, Moab dirt, the stuff that while out there gets into every nook and cranny, eats tires, and is hard on bikes.  But it was also something else for me in that moment, it was a glance back in time to last falls mountain bike trip with friends.  It reminded me of something really special in my life.  My friends.  A group of people the universe has had paths intersect with my own.  It feels like I lucked out in a lot of ways, and my great cycling friends are among the best things in my life.

I think cycling, at least from my perspective, has this unique power to draw in good people.  People that love to share moments outdoors over a fire and beers after a great day in the mountains, people who find possibly too much enjoyment in riding flat roads in the midwest country roads surrounded by corn and wheat.  People who are genuine, don’t have ulterior motives, and all have a common love.  The people I’ve met during my time riding are more important to me than any bike ever could be, and that red mud looking back at me reminded me last night.

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Today On A Bike

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I went in search of some different riding today.  My time on a trainer, rollers, and riding pathways left me hungry for a gravel adventure.  The gravel roads around Mackinaw, IL were the setting for a good day outside.  Mid-ride I took a wrong turn from what I had loaded into my Garmin.  Luckily, even riding off course was enough to have a good time.

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