Monday, August 08, 2011


Some Ergon gloves were at my doorstep awaiting my return from work today.

They fit right in adjacent to last night's blueberry pie.

I received a pair of HX2 full finger gloves and HA2 full finger gloves. The HX2s are designed for the Cross Country or 'Marathon' racer. They are slim, lightweight and designed to compliment the GX and GS series grips such as my white GS1 grips. The HA2 gloves are designed for that 'All-Mountain' rider in you. They contain Kevlar inserts in the palm area of the hand for increase durability while an optimum array GA and GE series grips. I'll have to give them a try with my GA1 grips.

These are the HX2s. I have a size Large and they are a perfect fit.
Nothing like a snug fit.
The HA2s are a slightly looser fit than the HX2s but a size Large is still the ticket here.

The palm differences with the HX2 on the left and HA2 on the right. The black of the HA2 is tough to capture the details of fabric but all the black is the base fabric in the palm and much thicker than the black palm fabric of the HX2s. The black palm fabric of the HX2s reminds me of the palm fabric on my Fox Digit and Oakley Factory gloves. The white fabric on both gloves is the same. Note the kevlar insert on the HA2 while there is just additional padding in the same region on the HX2. Also note the silicone finger tips for increased grip.

The thumbs on both gloves are perforated to allow adequate ventilation. I tend to wipe my running nose a lot with my thumbs so we'll see how this holds up over time.

Thinking about this post made me rummage through my pile of mountain bike gloves and pull out my current favorites for a comparison. Those favorites being a pair of GiroXen gloves (bottom left), Fox Digit (bottom middle) and Oakley Factory (bottom right).
I have an entire season on the Giro gloves and there's only one seam that's pulling apart (palm/wrist junction). This is the most common place I blow gloves out. My previous pair of Fox gloves had a problem in that same region. Beyond that these gloves have been so comfy and have been my go-to pair since I picked up the Fox Digits and Oakley Factory gloves about a month ago. The Fox Digits are a snug fit like the Ergon HX2s, which I prefer. The Digits have one layer of fabric throughout the entire palm (see below).

Hoping to try the HX2s on Wednesday night's mountain bike ride. That is our freak of nature flash torrential rain storms let up on Wednesday.

Thanks Ergon!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

darkhorse 40

Continuing where I left off on Monday.

The elite Men went off ahead of us singlespeeders. Cavanaugh was in that group, on his singlespeed, hoping to duke it out with Monte. Knowing the start would be long and drawn out on Ridge Road (a dirt gravel road) I was hoping for an easy roll out like we did at the Bearscat50. Turned out to be just that.

Hawaiian Mike's GPS Data showing the DH40 course.

There were two uphills on Ridge Road. The first one wasn't that bad and we all kind of stayed together. I was up front sitting on Roger's wheel for most of the start. I wanted to be where he was knowing he would be up with the leaders. Jay-Pro from Bike29 was also up there with me. Pace was nice that I actually had a few conversations with our fellow singlespeeders. We ultimately passed the trail we turned onto Ridge Road from in SSAP and I knew there was a steeper gradual climb thereafter and then a downhill to a right turn to another right turn to Major Mike.

Somehow I was now on the left side of the road on Jay-Pro's wheel with Roger on the right side of the road. I lost my concentration on the 'race' at hand and Roger attacked up the climb. A few precious seconds later I swerved around Jay-Pro (off the road) and took off after Roger. A bunch of guys from the pack cheered me on and I did my best to reel Roger in. Unfortunately my body wasn't having much of this pace and I could not close the gap down on Roger. My stomach was bloated from all the water I drank before the race started. I glanced over my shoulder and no one was on my wheel. It was the two of us out in "no man's land".

I gave it more, as much as I could, to continue pulling away from the pack. Turning into Major Mike I could see Roger just beyond one turn ahead of me.

"I'm gaining"

I heard voices behind me but with the tight turns it was a few turns away. They were gaining on me.

"Okay... settle into a pace. There's 38ish more miles. Ride consistent like you did at Bearscat."

Coming down the backside of Major Mike Roger and I caught up to the tail end of the elite field. The singletrack is tight and there was still a lot of race to go so I opted to pass conservatively and not force people to move out of my way. This is where Roger pulled further ahead of me but I did not let that get to me. My focus was to try and ride consistently. Consistently got me a good ride at SSAP and a win at Bearscat. Not riding consistent allowed me to yo-yo back and forth through the Trans-Sylvania Epic.

By the time we got back onto New Road Jay-Pro caught back up to me. Two other singlespeeders passed me like I was standing still and Roger was way off the front. Jay-Pro and I rode through the next section of singletrack before dumping back onto New Road and up the climb to the top of the apple orchard. I knew this climb was coming and in many years past it has always killed me so I took it easy. The climb wasn't as bad as I recall and I motored right up it pulling a bit ahead of Jay. After all, Jay was running a 34-19 and I had a 34-17. Jay caught back on and we continued to ride together and chat up a storm.

Probably around the 10 mile mark (furthest away from the start) I noticed Jay lost the bottle he had on his seat post so let him drink a bunch from one of mine. We we pretty stoked on the pace we had as no one was catching up to us and we were slowly catching up to others ahead of us. We just had to maintain this pace throughout the rest of the race.

Coming back around the lake/river/whatever it is we crossed the water station again and Jay pulled over to fill his bottle while I kept on going. This was the last time I saw him until I was on the side of the trail at mile 18 fucking around with a flat. I felt good and kept pushing it. There were a bunch of short steep climbs between 10 and 18. One of which I recall T-hom changing a flat while his bike hung from a tree in a DH40 a few years ago. I usually can't ride any of those inclines but I motored right up them on the first lap.

"Wow. This is shaping up to a good day. I've never been able to ride those in a race."

Somewhere back here was the beer stop. I also caught up to Jim from High Gear and somehow pulled away from him. Stopped for a cup of Harpoon IPA (but it was mostly foam) and then took off to finish the lap. I knew there wasn't much left on this lap for I had a good idea of where in Stewart I was. I'd feel some very slight twinges in my legs but continued to drink and eat. Most of me was confident I'd be okay on the 2nd lap but a small percentage of me was worried about repeating last year. I tried not to let it worry me.

(I really like this photo. It was an off-camber left turn going down hill)

Coming around a corner I heard a hissing sound but looked down and my tires appeared to have adequate pressure.

"Guess Stan's is working..."

A few more turns later I almost rolled my back tire off the rim. There was hardly any air left now. I refilled it with my one and only CO2 (a friggen' 'big air') but it started pissing Stan's sealant out of the bead area of the tire. I tried shaking the rear wheel (still in the bike) and it would slowly seal up but not quick enough.

"I'm wasting precious time. What the hell am I doing?"

I then decided to just throw my damn tube in the rear wheel. Dripping with sweat since it was pushing 90F out and I'm now standing around in a hot forest, I got the tire apart and got my tube ready. Lots of people where passing me and every singlespeeder that came by had this shocked reaction seeing me on the trail. They were also polite enough to ask for help but I was in such a fumble that I didn't ask for more CO2. That is, until Frank-The-Tank from Bethel Cycle came by. I blurttered CO2 out and he stopped and threw me his 'big air'. The threaded portion was covered by a sticker so I had to somehow get that sticker off.

A quick glance of the inside of the tire prior to installing the tube showed a black item in a pool of white Stan's tire sealant.

"What the hell is this?"

I rotated the wheel and immediately noticed it was a 2inch long nail in my brand new Maxxis Ikon tire coming through the tread. I ripped the nail out of the tire and threw it very far off the trail and into the woods. Jay-Pro rolled by and asked if I needed anything but I figured I was good with Frank's 'Big Air' so I shook my head no. Once the tire was back together I couldn't get my inflator to puncture Frank's CO2 to fill the tire up. While I was monkeying with the CO2 and Inflator I somehow emptied the CO2.


Jim from High Gear rolled by and it was probably many minutes since I first stopped. He had two smaller CO2s and loaned them to me and then took off shouting

"You'll catch back up, and then we'll ride together. Don't you drop me like last time. We'll have fun."

I got my bike back together, stuffed all my empty Co2s and tools down the front of my jersey (and zipped it up) and then took off with a rock solid rear tire. Bouncing my way to the start/finish I still never saw Jim. I rolled up to Ginger and shouted that I'm stopping and had a flat. Jay-Pro already rolled through and informed her I had a flat so she had my second Awesome Strap with a spare tube and Co2 ready for me. I unzipped my jersey and emptied what was shoved down the front, grabbed three new bottles and took off looking for Jim.

The second lap was slower for me. My legs were getting very tired and the muscles were on the verge of cramping through most of the 2nd lap. I tried turning up the pace a few times to get away from some geared riders that would ride waaay too slow through the singletrack but they'd catch back up to me on the doubletrack and flats. I'd then realize that the effort to pull on them was too much and needed to throttle back some to keep my legs in check. I still had another 15 miles to go and didn't want to cramp so bad my legs would lock up. That would surely guarantee that I'm finishing waaay in the back of the pack (like last year).

I didn't see Jim until shortly before the beer stop. I was just about out of water (in all 3 bottles) and running dangerously low on food. Jim said there were a few singlespeeders right up a-ways (but we couldn't physically see them) and told me to get on it and catch them. I couldn't ride any faster as I had nothing more without locking my legs up. Jim pulled on me as we rolled up to the beer stop and I figured this was a good time to take a quick break and let my legs recover. I downed one cup of beer. It was so good that I figured I had time for another one.

After two beers I took off and caught back up to Jim and wound up passing him and pulling away from him. We're probably at mile 38 now and it was a short stretch on the gravel road towards the finish. A singlespeeder from NJMTB caught up to Jim (they knew each other) and Jim told him to get on Jim's wheel and he'd pull him up to me so we can duke it out. I put the hammer down and tried pulling away from them on the flat. We had a short section of trail (part of the SSAP prologue) and then across the road to more trail to the finish.

Right before that short section of trail Jim caught up to me. I looked over my shoulder and so did the singlespeeder.

"Great.... I have just enough energy to finish on my dime at my pace. I have nothing to pull away from someone or match their pace. I'm gonna lose another spot.."

Jim and this gentleman passed me and I couldn't do anything. It was painful to watch them pull away from me. I tried going faster and my legs had something in them to allow this to occur. We crossed the road into the last section of singletrack. There was a short steep climb right off the road. Jim let me pass him and I ran up that climb but the singlespeeder was gone. I rode a little bit at my pace until I came around a corner and saw his jersey through some trees. Knowing we were less than a mile (probably less than 1/2 a mile) from the finish I knew I could just give it everything and not worry about the ramifications. I dug deep and was able to pull myself back up to him.

This section of trail was very twisty and tight singletrack. No room to pass and one rock garden. Now that I'm on his wheel I had no where to pass. It was such a painful tease. I'd try to pass but the trail would turn and there was no room. I tried in the rock garden but he rode it just as fast and well as I did. All I could do was stay on his wheel and perhaps make one last move 10ft from the finish line.

Coming through the singletrack we entered into the corner of this field and had a sweeping left turn back into the singletrack. I made my move and it stuck. I was now infront. Back into the singletrack with an immediate right turn only to drop this sandy face onto the pavement into a right turn into the finish line. I made my move at the very last section of trail and it stuck allowing me to finish in 9th place singlespeed. That was impressive. I don't know where that last bit of energy came from and how I was able to make that pass but it worked. Talk about coming down to the wire.

9th place in the singlespeed field with a time of 3hrs 38minutes. About 20 minutes behind Roger who won the singlespeed field. About 7 minutes behind 3rd/4th and 5th place (where I expect I would have been had I not flatted). It is a new personal record for me in the DH40 and the first time I've been in the top 10 for this event.

Bike29-George had a good event too. here and here He, too, set a new personal record while also testing new equipment! Impressive. Great ride.

Mandy won the women's singlespeed field and Jay-Pro came in 5th in the men's singlespeed field. New personal records set by Team Bike29! It was a good day.

Thanks again to the entire team at Darkhorse Cycles. These events are fun and challenging and the terrain is so enjoyable to ride. I will continue to partake in their events as long as I am living on the east coast.

(T-Hom... I think this might be a 'short' one at only 2000 words)

Monday, August 01, 2011

'11 darkhorse40

Another Darkhorse40 has come and gone. This one was a lot of fun on many levels.

It was another hot day as in years past, while the trails were fairly dry which has been difficult to find in Stewart this year. The course was much different than last year and a lot of fun. It is nice to get on different trails within Stewart Forest that have not really been used in previous races before. That makes for an exciting event and also attracts the same people year in and year out (along with lots of new people).

This year was a full house. 400 something total racers converged on Stewart Forest over in New York. The singlespeed field has 46 racers complete the event with a few more starting. In a field that large you are bound to have quite a few really fast guys in the mix. We had our work cut out for us yesterday..

After 40 miles of racing, one flat tire and a bunch of forearm and leg cramping on lap two I finished in 9th place within the Singlespeed field at a time of 3hrs 37minutes. This is a new personal record for me. Certainly being in the top 10. Last year I had a lot of issues with the heat and finished in 3hrs 56minutes waaay back in 33rd place.

I was riding with Jay from for most of lap one and even pulled away from him sometime before I flatted. He finished 5th and only 7 minutes ahead of me. When I tell you about my flat you'll see why I lost those 7 minutes.

All in all it was a fun day and my body is still recovering. Its mainly just tired. Not tired from cramping but tired from working so hard.

Thanks again George, Mike and Hawaiian Mike for a stellar job well done. It was another successful Darkhorse Cycles event.