2014 Morton Criterium

20140628_093655_IMG_0512This weekend I raced at the 2014 Morton Criterium. It was my first crit and I had a lot of fun! It was a completely different animal than the mountain bike races or cyclocross races I’ve done in the past. I’m really happy with my race. I raced in the cat 5 race as this was my first crit. I was in the action for the majority of the race sitting in second or third. My numbers were an average of 25.1 mph for the 30 minute race and a top speed of 33.4. My full Garmin data is here. A big thanks to my teammates for the advice and help with the preparation and Bloomington Cycle & Fitness for making sure my Tarmac was in tip-top shape! I’m looking forward to the next crit!

READ MORE & FULL GALLERY >>

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!

Sram XX1 Fatbike Crank & Wolf Tooth Chainring Review

MJ5L0044I love my fatbike. I’ve been riding my Salsa Ti Mukluk a lot more this summer as overtime the notion of it being a “snow bike” has been completely removed in my mind. I’ve wanted to do a one by conversion on my fatbike for a while and recently ordered the required parts from my local bike shop.

I knew I wanted to run a Wolf Tooth chainring for a few reasons. I’ve read a lot of positive things, I have friends who love them, and I prefer to support the little guys when I can. It doesn’t hurt that it’s beautiful, seriously, and it is also light weight. The 28 tooth chainring from Wolf Tooth I purchased weighed 60 grams as advertised. One benefit over Sram’s own XX1 chainrings are that Wolf Tooth offers a 26 tooth chainring and Sram’s smallest option is a 28 tooth chainring.

Once I made the decision to use a Wolf Tooth chainring, I had to start looking for a replacement crank as the E13 that came spec’d on my Mukluk features proprietary interfaces. I knew I wanted to have the option of running small chainrings as deep snow can be difficult to pedal through. With a normal 104 bcd crank spider, you are limited to chainrings that are 32 teeth or higher as numbers below that throw off the chain line and would start to interfere with the spider. The solution is to not run a spider. When looking for a crank that is compatible with Wolf Tooth direct mount chainrings and has a 100mm spindle for fatbikes, the choices are somewhat limited. My search came down to either a Sram X9 or a Sram XX1 crank. To be honest neither of the options was appealing. I am replacing all of the drivetrain and brakes with Shimano XTR bits and I was a bit hung up on having a Sram crank in that mix, but in the end, the XX1 was the best choice for me as I’m a bike parts snob.

The Sram XX1 crank is light, and simple. I appreciated that the fatbike version does not come with chainrings so there is no added cost of unused parts. As a fan of simplicity, it looks great. It feels stiff but then again, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt a modern-day crank flex.

Overall the combo of the XX1 Crank and the Wolf Tooth chainring is great. With those components and removing the front derailleur, cable, and shifter, the bike looks much better. I think I nailed the gearing with a standard 10 speed 11-36 cassette and a 28 tooth chainring. I have yet to spin out the gearing while riding singletrack and it climbs very well. The chain refuses to drop even with no chain guide and a rear derailleur without a clutch, although I plan on adding a rear derailleur with a clutch as soon as parts come into stock. I’d highly recommend both Wolf Tooth and the Sram XX1 fatbike crank if you’re looking for a light weight one by solution for your fatbike.

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!

Today On A Bike

2014-06-20 08.36.21I’ve never been happier commuting to work! The Surly Straggler has been a treat to ride. I love having a rack that I can attach a bag to that holds all of my stuff. That makes my commute a lot more enjoyable and I end up less sweaty. The combination of the steel frame and the 28c tubeless tires makes for a very comfortable ride. I commuted about 70 miles in the first week of owning the Straggler and loved every mile. I find myself more energized when I get to work or wherever I am going and my seven mile commute only adds about ten minutes of travel. The people commuting via bike or running that I come across are wearing smiles instead looking bored and mad in cars. I find that I enjoy the views much more on a bike as opposed to being in traffic. Take a look at what caught my eye today while pedaling.

2014-06-20 10.27.00 2014-06-20 08.21.05 2014-06-20 08.29.47 2014-06-20 10.24.14 2014-06-20 10.15.13

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!

Cycles In Life: Year One Anniversary!

2014And just like that, the first year of Cycles In Life, my blog that was once only a thought in the back of my mind, is now a completed reality.

I’ve experienced a lot of change this year and yet other things are unchanged. I’m a proud new father, a truly life changing event that is special in ways I couldn’t of imagined. My wife continues to be the most amazing woman I know and she still let’s me buy way too many bike parts. I still love riding, probably more so now than last year. I still do a lot of riding, definitely more so now than last year. I still smile a lot while riding, enjoy hanging out with good friends, and taking in views while pedaling.

Looking back on my riding during the first year of this blog I am reminded of a lot of cool things that took place like the Crested Butte, Colorado Trip.
2013-07-29 16.34.41_sWatching proudly as our first local criterium in many years, the 2013 Bloomington Jaycee Criterium was a tremendous success! I’m proud that we locally have a criterium race, mountain bike race, cyclocross race, and a triathlon race.
IMG_1943sI won, much to my disbelief, the Illinois Cat 2 Mountain Bike State Championship.
IMG_1866sI enjoyed a full cyclocross season of riding, heckling, cheering on, and more heckling.
IMG_2798sI had a full winter of awesome riding including trips to the Mississippi river banks to hang out with the FORC crew and smile a lot.
2014-02-15 10.08.59I joined some good friends at Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park.
T86A0144And recently I rode Axletree‘s Gravel Metric. An awesome event put on by awesome people!
2014-05-25 12.31.33Out of all that awesomeness, I’m the most fond of moments spent with friends sitting and talking about cycling with a drink in hand, and thankfully, I’ve had a lot of those moments this year too.
2014-04-06 15.26.07I’m ecstatic to be surrounded by such amazing people. To be fair, the people are what make cycling the awesome thing that it is. I have amazing friends, access to a truly special local bike shop, Bloomington Cycle & Fitness, and am surrounded by organizations like Axletree and local mountain bike clubs that do amazing things. My cycling teammates are the best! They make me a better rider. Dean from Riding Against The Grain (best bicycle blog on the internet) has inspired and helped me turn this idea for a blog into something that seems to work. I don’t have the crazy numbers of views that longer running sites have, but to date here are some things that make me feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do:

  • Over 50 awesome people who enjoy what I write and the pictures I take enough to subscribe! Seriously, thank you!
  • My blog has been viewed over 50,000 times in the first year and the rate of views per day continues to rise quickly!
  • My blog has been viewed from over 100 countries! I tend to nerd out and Google translate forums and discussions to see what they are talking about when they click links from across the internet that point back to my blog.
  • I received some great feedback from Riding Against The Grain!
  • Verbal feedback has been positive!

What’s in store for the next year? I have some ideas for future content I want to develop. I want to ride my bike a lot. I want to spend a lot of time with great people. Most importantly, I want to smile, a lot. Thanks for being a part of the first year!

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!

New Bike Day! Surly Straggler Custom

MJ5L0098I’m fortunate enough to have several bikes but I’ve never had a good commuter. I enjoy riding around town and to work but without a rack and pannier, my back typically ends up sweaty because of using a backpack to hold my work laptop and other stuff. My amazing wife decided to do something special for my 30th birthday this year and make my dream commuter a reality!

This bike is very special to me. Not only is it made of awesome parts, but it has a lot of sentimental value because my wife worked with some special people in my life to make it one of a kind! She worked with Bloomington Cycle & Fitness to order the parts, some of which were hard to find, she worked with one of my best friends who is a painter to lay down an amazing and unique paint job, and she worked it out for me to watch and help with the build process as much as I could.

I used the Sram Rival group from my now sold Specialized Roubaix for the drivetrain.
MJ5L0087The wheels are built up with Chris King R45 hubs and Stans Iron Cross rims, and Hutchinson Sector 28c tubeless tires.
MJ5L0051 MJ5L0068 MJ5L0070The brakes are TRP Spyre. In my opinion they up the bar for mechanical disc brakes. They feature dual moving brake pads that help with modulation, power, and setup.
MJ5L0106The cockpit is made up of a Thomson seat post and stem, a S-Works carbon handlebar, Brooks Cambium saddle. The front end is held together with a Chris King headset.
MJ5L0093 MJ5L0049 MJ5L0045The rear rack is made by Civia and is minimal and lightweight.
MJ5L0072 MJ5L0114 MJ5L0117I very grateful for my wife, my amazing friend who painted the frame, and my local bike shop for making the parts gathering and the assembly a reality! I won’t forget what you all did!
MJ5L0065 MJ5L0104

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!

Ready For Through Axles

MJ5L9988I’m ready for through axles to be the accepted standard. Bring em’ on. Many argue that they’re not needed on road bikes and other types of bikes where through axles are far and few between today. The popular arguments I hear and read are that through axles add weight and historically, they haven’t been needed. It’s true, bikes don’t have to have them. The vast majority of the bikes I own don’t have them, but I’m ready. Why?

Through axles provide a stiffer and safer ride. They also provide a far more consistent wheel attachment. No more of the wheel being in slightly crooked causing brake rub. Wheel changes in the peloton would be faster than quick releases now that the UCI requires lawyer tabs to be kept intact. I’d gladly trade a few grams of added weight for the benefits of through axles in most cases.

As a guy who rides a variety of bikes (read: gets dropped on road rides and mountain bike friends laugh at my shaved legs), I see different desires for through axles based on which group I’m pedaling with. Mountain bikes as a whole are getting pretty close to through axles being the norm, road bikes seem to be happy with 9 mm quick releases, and cross bikes seem to be in the middle as usual. I think there are valid use cases to be made for quick releases though. Some kinds of bikes such as touring bikes seem to be a great fit for quick releases because emergency wheels are easier to come across if you have a mechanical while traveling long distances and disaster strikes a wheel. Quick releases have a valid place.

Obviously bikes have existed for a long time without through axles and can continue to do so. I love my current bikes, and the majority of them use quick releases, but I think moving forward history should not be an influence on quick releases being spec’d. It wasn’t that long ago that 29″ mountain bikes were looked at weirdly and electronic drivetrains were a crazy thought. It’s an amazing world we live in.

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!