2016 Lake Tahoe Trip

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The highlight every year cycling for me are the big group trips.  Winning a race is amazing, but doesn’t come anywhere close to a great trip.  Time spent with special people who feel like family, amazing locations, and shared experiences that will last a lifetime are as good as it gets for me.  This year, we traveled to Lake Tahoe, California.  The week we spent was perfect, great weather, amazing trails, smiles shared on the porch around meals, I could go on and on…

A lot of the amazing downs are captured in the video at the bottom of this post.  Check that out, I’m pretty proud of it.

Day One, Cold Water Downhill – Garmin Data

After unpacking our bikes and building them up, I joined a good friend for an out and back to get our tires into some Lake Tahoe downhill action.  The trail’s surface was made up of sandy granite dust, dirt, and rock.  The elevation wasn’t as bad as trips to high mountain areas but rides starting around 6,500′ and climbing to above 9,500′ on some days did remind you where you were.

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Day Two, Armstrong Pass to Corral Downhill – Garmin Data

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My loved Ibis HD3 and I were in real harmony this trip.  It’s dialed in to what I wanted in a trail bike almost to my idea of perfection.  I love the one by eleven drivetrain.  The 28 tooth chain ring paired with the 42 tooth cog allowed for easy work up any pitch and the 10 tooth cog allowed me to pedal as fast as I dared.  The brakes were great, the tires were great, I’m really happy with the bike.

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My good friend Matt riding his Ibis HD3 much better than I can, making fun work of the terrain.  It’s really fun to ride behind him until he disappears riding away from me.  His bike skills as well as his character are equally impressive, and I look up to both traits, even if his signing is pretty bad on the climbs.  Spending time with him and his family make these trips a great experience.

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Day Three, Star Lake Loop – Garmin Data

This was our big ride of the week, climbing over 3,800′ to Freel Pass at 9,535′.  The last 1,000′ were pretty steep and tough.  The views were great up there though.

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On the descent, we passed by Star Lake, a real beauty tucked away in the mountains that my iPhone picture doesn’t do justice.

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Day Four, Family Beach Time

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Day Five, Mr. Toads Wild Ride – Garmin Data

Mr. Toads Wild Ride is probably my favorite downhill I’ve ever ridden.  It’s really good.  The top section has tech far bigger than I feel comfortable riding but it soon fades into tech right at or slightly above my comfort level, making for great fun.  The trail didn’t let up like many of the downhills I’ve ridden.  Mr. Toads Wild Ride felt like the tech, speed, and fun were turned up the entire down.  I loved it.

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Day Six, Armstrong Pass to Corral Downhill Revisited – Garmin Data

We revisited the Corral Downhill on day six, it didn’t disappoint the second time, great trail.

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Day Six, Flume Trail – Garmin Data

Flume Trail was one I wanted to ride after hearing about it, so I doubled up on my last day to catch it.  The ride had a 1,400′ sandy climb up and down on the out and back route I rode.  There wasn’t any real tech and once on Flume Trail, there was no real climbing or descending, but the views of Lake Tahoe were second to none.  The beauty of the ride for me is only rivaled by 401 in Crested Butte, CO.

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Beyond the amazing riding, this vacation was perfectly rounded for me personally.  There was a great balance of family time, resting away from work, hanging out with friends, and cycling.  It was a great recharge, and a reminder of what cycling trips mean to me.

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Here’s a video I put together of some of the downhill awesomeness.  The climbs were definitely worth it.  The video is a bit shakey in parts and there’s the occasional annoying Camelbak chest strap in the view.  I’m still learning and to be fair, tech is bumpy :)

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EVOC Bike Travel Bag Review

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Some of my favorite times every year are my trips with friends out west or elsewhere.  Those memories that I hold in special regard are made simpler with a bike bag to get my bike where we’re going.  I’ve previous used a Pika Packworks bag and it’s worked, but after three or so years of traveling I started to look for a replacement that had some additional features.  I recently bought a EVOC Bike Travel Bag, and I’m very happy with it.  Rarely do I find this much happiness with a purchase, really, this bike bag is great.  Let me explain why I like it so much.

The EVOC bag answered my biggest want over the Pika Packworks bag, wheels.  I’m built like a wet noodle in terms of upper body strength, and this EVOC bag makes the travel experience much more enjoyable hauling it through airports.  The convenience and ease of mobility make the EVOC purchase a positive experience alone, but I’ve found a lot of other things l really like about the bag after packing a bike in it and traveling recently.

Starting from the outside, the bag’s build quality and parts decisions are noticeably well thought out and high quality.  The handles and zippers are beefy and work well without showing signs of being unhappy about doing their jobs.  There are handles in every place you would want or need to reach for lifting or maneuvering.

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The bike bag has this great ability to fold down to basically flat when not in use if you’re tight for space.  It uses fiberglass rods and poles to hold the bag upright and add strength when it’s not folded flat.

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The wheels and base that they are attached to are sturdy and are big enough to not complain when rolling over a rock or cracks.

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The inside of the bag is where I went from liking the bag to loving it.  It’s very well thought out.  The entire inside is lined with a tough but slick surface that makes clean up of dirt or grease a breeze.  There’s a positionable (or completely removable) padded foam block with reinforcement where the bottom bracket rests.  There are lots of tie downs to hold the frame and things in place.

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The straps offer a lot of forward-backward and up-down adjustability, making it seem like the perfect bag for packing a road bike, mountain bike, or anything in between.  With the optional road bike stand, I think this bag will serve all of my bike travel needs for a long time.

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The top tube and down tube are secured with a padded brace.

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The instructions stated I could leave my rear derailleur on so I tried that with success.  That means one less thing to do when packing the bike, which is awesome.  I wanted the packing and unpacking process to be as quick and painless as possible, and this bag delivers in spades there.

The fork for a mountain bike is secured by a reinforced and padded area making the fork safe and adding to the overall solidness when the bag is packed.  Things don’t seem to move, which is a great thing.

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I’m a big fan of the interior and exterior storage zippered pockets, especially the clear pocket where I stashed instructions, reassemble notes, tools, and pedals.  I stored brake rotors in an inside pocket on towards the back of the bike.

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The wheels go into zippered pockets on both sides of the bag.  There is padding to keep the frame safe and reinforcement where axles and cassettes rest.  The wheels fit in the pockets without any trouble.

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There’s a lot I like about the bag but one small area that could use some improvement are the personal info areas.  They are a bit cramped for space, but they do work.

Overall, I’m really happy with it.  Money well spent in my eyes.  I think it will last me a long time and add a lot of convenience to my travels.

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Today On A Bike

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I joined some friends for a fun summer day riding mountain bikes at Brown County in Bloomington Indiana yesterday.  We had a great time enjoying the weather and trails.

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We all stopped for a great dinner at Upland Brewery before going our own ways. The restaurant and brewery have expanded since I was last there a few years ago, but the quality and atmosphere was as good as ever.

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Driving home listening to good music, watching the bugs accumulate on my windshield in true summertime tradition, and taking in the warm glowing summer sun was the perfect ending to the trip.  It was one of those great kinds of trips that I’ll remember for a while.

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2016 Cobb Park Criterium

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I raced a back to back crit weekend with Glencoe Grand Prix and Cobb Park Criterium this weekend and had great fun.  Glencoe was rainy but awesome while Cobb Park had beautiful weather.  Both courses were fun and left me smiling!  I’m enjoying racing crits more than any other kind of racing this year!

I took some pictures of the Mens Cat 3 race and the Women Pro 1/2/3 race before heading back home with my family.  There’s about sixty pictures of people doing what they love.

I’m posting the pictures for free, enjoy them, if you could show some love to my blog when posting them on your social, I’d appreciate it.

READ MORE & FULL GALLERY >>

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Today On A Bike

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I’m sitting in a plane on a runway in Texas thinking about riding and the experiences it provides me.  I spent the last bit in Photoshop editing a few pictures from last weekends St. Louis mountain biking trip with friends.  Chubb in St. Louis is a great trail that I fall more in love with every time I ride it.  It’s got the most tech within three hours of driving that I’ve found.  It’s not a long trail but it packs a rocky, techy punch in terms of midwest terrain.  I love it.

I stared at the “staircase” at Chubb for what feels like the fifth trip without taking the drop line.  I took the rollable line yet again.  I had intentions of trying it but bailed on it again based on how sketchy the run up is, being filled with foot size rocks sprinkled everywhere.

While we were there, we sessioned the “staircase” a bit and I caught a friend going for a ride over his bars, but he’s alright.

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This trip confirmed the I thoughts had from my Alabama mountain bike trip earlier this year, I love my Ibis HD3.  It’s perfect in every aspect from what I’ve ridden.

The parts I swapped in the spring were great changes.  The change to a one by drivetrain is amazing.  For trail riding, the gear range allows for a slow crawling gear to get up about anything and the top end is plenty fast for my needs, all without ever needing to change front chainrings.  What’s not to love?  The mix match of Sram XX01 cassette and XX1 chain paired with the Shimano 11 speed XTR shifter and XTR 11 speed rear derailleur works flawlessly with the help of the Wolf Tooth chainring and Goat Link.  All of that wordy jargon translates into an experience on the bike that when pedaling at any cadence shifts without any fuss.  It has all the range I’ll need, and also allows me to grab a handful of gear changes at once.  Need to throw the shifter three clicks after cresting a hill, no problem.

The Slaughter rear tire rolls far better than any all mountain has a right to while also maintaining a vicious ability to grab the ground when asked to corner hard.  It’s the best of both worlds.  The riding experience on the tire even avoids the one thing I was worried about, a harsh transition from the small knobbed fast rolling center to the big knobbed biting outer knob section.  As far as I’ve been able to tell, it’s seamless and the traction is linear, it doesn’t get loose and then bite in a big way.  Say what you want about Specialized, but they know tires and on top of that, they mount tubleless without any fuss and are cheaper than most alternatives.  Win, win, win, I’m sold.

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It was a great trip with great people.  A great way to spend a sunny Memorial Day.

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