Raleigh Rumson

IMG_20151119_151730I thought now would be as good a time as any to introduce the new Raleigh fat bike the Rumson. After taking it out on its first spin I gotta say I love the bike. The trail geometry made for predictable handling and the five inch tires made for a very comfortable ride with velcro like traction. I know Raleigh is a little late to the fat bike game but we definitely did it right. Coupled with the trail geometry we’re using 150 millimeter spacing in the front (allowing for a suspension fork upgrade if desired) and 197 millimeter spacing in the rear keeping with current standards. The bike also comes with 100 millimeter rims and TRP spyke mechanical disc brakes for great stopping power. So yeah a bit of simple spec info and you can find more here at the Raleigh website.

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For me the bike handled great off road and I only had to make minor changes for my fit with an offset seatpost. The bike railed through corners sticking every berm I pointed it towards and smoothed out every rock I hit once I dialed in my tire pressure. Though I wasn’t on a trail with a huge amount of climbing this bike seemed to float uphill with its modest fat bike weight of only 35lbs (with pedals). With how great this bike handled on normal dry trails I’m definitely looking forward to putting foul weather miles on this bike very soon and it looks like Mother Nature may be assisting with snow in the forecast for this weekend. The only unfortunate thing for the fat bike is a sweet lil NEOCX cyclocross race going on this weekend at THE FIELDS that comes first.


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Tuesday Gravel and More

So it seems as though I’ve been logging into this site with no particular frequency and though I may promise myself I’m going to write more the time and/or enthusiasm just doesn’t seem to be there however this week that changed just a little bit with an amazingly fun ride in Michigan.

As there have been some changes here at Raleigh our territories changed as well which is both a blessing and curse. The added States in the territory do make for some more windshield time but it does also add quite a few iconic riding areas that I now get to visit with regularity such as the Brown County trails, the Louisville MTB Caverns, and all the amazing MTB trails/rides of Michigan. As each new area has been a great adventure Michigan proves to be a State that continues to surprise me on the riding side. I know as an Ohioan I’m committing a cardinal sin in praising Michigan especially during football season but it’s been quite a trip so far. As a rep who rides when the day is done finding a group ride or trail to hit can often be a challenge however Michigan Mountain Biking Association (www.mmba.org) makes it quite easy to find a trail or two and I quickly found out Michigan is littered with MTB trails all over the state with a very reliable rating system so you know exactly what you are getting into before you get there. Excellent for someone not from Michigan. With my trip up to Michigan this week I opted out of taking the MTB choosing to bring the SSCX bike instead hoping to ride some MTB trails. Well after my last visit of the day at Freewheeler in Grand Rapids, Patrick introduced me to the TUESDAY GRAVEL ADVENTURE via a Facebook events notice. Though apprehensive as I only had my SSCX and with only a 5 minute “get ready” window with drive time I hustled over to Warren Townsend Park to hook up with this ride. I immediately was floored by how many riders were showing up to a Tuesday Night ride let alone a Gravel ride. I double checked the FB page and noticed over 100 riders had acknowledged the ride and it looked like every single one of them was there despite the looming rain clouds.

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The ride was fairly old school in that it was setup as “meet here and lets ride” which is unusual in this age where everyone seems fine with taking one another to court for frivolous reasons. The “rules” to the ride were that the 1st lap was to be at a modest tempo and then when given the okay the 2nd lap could go full gas. Having a moderate gearing on my SSCX I was happy with the tempo portion as I knew and/or hoped I would be able to keep with the group however the “race pace” lap in the dark on unfamiliar roads had me a bit nervous as I wasn’t keen to getting lost. As luck would have it despite the lead group riding away on the fast lap, I was quite comfortable…okay totally spun out but managing to keep up on the flats and lead out on the hills…and anytime I would get gapped all I had to do was chase blinking tail lights as it had gotten pitch black by the time the 2nd lap started. With most of us using lights designed to light up MTB trails like it was daylight there were no problems riding the near perfect pea gravel at night.

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The only challenges came early in the lap in that we felt the first drops of rains and the rooster tails of moistened gravel dust now littered our kits like we were riding a fancy Belgium spring classic. Once “wet” it was full go again. The next “challenge” comes as we enter an area that was a very soft uphill grind, think 200 yard sandpit uphill. For me riding it was easy as I had a heavier gear which kept me up to speed and kept my back wheel from spinning however this of course was the one section that we encountered an oncoming car and had to drift over to the side of the road where it was even softer yet. I managed to keep my wheel but my speed was scrubbed and needing all possible momentum to keep up with the chasing group I was in, I was quickly gapped. Tried as I might to get back on with the group once the road leveled out I quickly found myself spinning at a crazy 120+ cadence to keep the gap from growing. As we had now entered the flatter section of the ride I reduced my efforts as I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold that cadence for the remainder of the ride and focused on keeping track of the blinking red lights so that I didn’t lose my way. I took a couple of glances back to see where the 3rd group road was on the road but didn’t see anything so kept my tempo up so that I kept on route. Though I lost sight a couple of times of the lights through the twisting roads I managed to keep on route and breathed a sign of relief once I reached the familiar finished downhill heading back to the parking lot. I’m already looking forward to the next visit out to Grand Rapids not only to visit the great Raleigh dealers in the area but to also bury my tires into some of the best gravel roads I have ever ridden. If you ever find yourself in the area on a Tuesday I highly recommend checking it out!! For details just look up TUESDAY GRAVEL ADVENTURE on Facebook. Make sure to bring front/rear lights and a great attitude as you will have a great time. Also remember this ride is a pickup ride with 100 or so of soon to be friends.

Until next time

Sean

CROSS IS HERE!! 

It’s finally happened, the 2015 Cross racing seal has been broken across the US this weekend and we here in Northeast Ohio got to revel in a great course while taking on the energy zapping heat and humidity. It wasn’t quite Cross weather but I’d rather have hot Cross over no Cross, so with that we toe the line.

Here in the NEOCX series SSCX is scheduled to go off at the crack of dawn with a 9am start. Yeah a bit early for the traditional SSCX race however being a Dad with plenty of stuff to do each weekend this early start works out great by me though the early start seems to deter handups which stinks but the show must go on. After getting some needed course recon it was time for staging. Here in NEO the SSCX crowds aren’t huge but continue to grow with a good amount of new riders coming out this year for the kickoff race. The front row was occupied by the ususally suspects with twitching feet ready to kill it all the way down the opening stretch. The pace seemed really quick as we went down the opening straight but it soon sorted out as we hit the first series of crazy turns leading into the only big contender of a hill on the course. This hill though perfectly managable was a challenging one. Nothing long, nothing terribly steep but rather a joy kill to running a larger gear for the rest of the course. Topping this hill often looked like we were practicing track stands more than racing but that would only last for a moment as we then shot downhill to an off camber left hand turn into another long straight away. This for some provided a great spot to rest but for me it was a great spot to try and make up ground fighting  through the power robbing long grass. Then came a nice little ditch which was absolutely hop-able however as the race went on I chose to run instead of getting a flat as I noticed I was getting lazy and slamming my back wheel. After another couple of quick turns it was a very modest uphill grade that felt like it was pulling you backwards however with a little effort another great place to make up a placing or two. After that it was a good many turns through a baseball diamond which tested rider ability to drive the bike. Though I wasn’t uber quick I searched for my inner Charlie Babbit and worked hard at being a good Sunday driver.

This went on for what felt likes hours in the +80* heat as laps went on. There were a couple of good battles where there were 3 or 4 of us that were evenly matched thorugh the middle of the race. I watched as two guys ahead of me battled the sandy turns and despite my desire to try and squeeze in on one turn where I had good momentum to have taken them both I conserved my energy and waited for them to make the errors. This happened in the form of a clipped course marker which led to that rider shortly popping leaving me alone to chase down the other guy. After a fierce clawing up the big hill i managed to sneak my entire bike over the lip before he did allowing me to accelerate for the corner before he got there. I didn’t really attack but kept pressure on the pedals from there and hoped for a gap instead of towing him along however after a couple of turns I think the heat got to him as he soon disappeared from sight when searching for him in the turns. This left me in no mans land with a Cycle Smart guy not really chasing but keeping a smooth gaining tempo. I forgot about this rider for a bit and suffered through my own demons cursing the lap counter when he caught me. I hung on for a while thinking we might be able to work together to chase down 3rd place as he looked to be suffereing only to be reminded as we reached the hill that I too was holding on by a thread. And then with limited fan fare the foot gap the Cycle Smart guy had on me became feet of which I tried a couple times to bridge but it wasn’t meant to be.

Overall I felt great and very happy with the results as I tend not to do well when the temps or better yet the humidity gets up there.  Great job by the gang at Blue Sky for putting together a great course and for Marshall or Velogoat for a great event! Looking forward to Saturday where we post up once again!

the LAPIERRE PULSIUM

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So there I was finishing up yet another week on the road and looking forward to the weekend when low and behold my latest sample bike arrives a day earlier than I had thought. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this bike as I think it makes a ton of sense especially in this area after the winter we had (okay are having). As the snow departs I am sure we are going to find an asphalt mess awaiting us and I think this will be the perfect bike to transition from the doom and gloom of the basement to the bright open roads. Though I haven’t yet been able to really throw a leg over the bike outside of making sure the basics are ready to go once it warms up I’m impressed with what I’ve seen thus far. I only made a few changes to be more inline with my perferences one of which is shown in a wider tire. The bike comes with 25c Mavic tires which are great but I choose to go with the even wider Clement Strada in 28c. Fits really well and should assist me even better when hitting various riding surfaces. I’m also changing out the saddle to a Prologo Nago as I’m a huge fan!

 

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One of the key features to this bike is the Shock Absorption Technology (S.A.T.) which as you may guess works as an inline shock absorber in the frame. This is done with an inline elastomer ring with 3.5mm of flex at the coupler which roughly equates to a maxium of 35mm of seat post deflection. Just enough movement to take the edge off when encountering those bone jarring cobbles or rough roads left by winters wrath. Don’t worry about losing pedaling energy though as the head-tube, down-tube, and chainstays are all apart of the Power Box which put the power on the road (just like that of the Xelius).

 

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Another great feature of the bike is coming from the front end with a slightly slacker head-tube (1* degree slacker) than a normal race bike paired with a 50mm offset fork (compared to a traditional 43mm on a race bike) to accomplish more predictable handling, especially as you tackle the challenges the road throws at you.

 

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This is just a nice reminder that this is the official bike of the UCI Pro Team FDJ and the bike you will probably see tackling the cobbled roads of Paris-Roubaix once again! I’m pretty sure you have to take a slug of whatever you are drinking when you see a tricolore on your screen this edition.

 

 

So there’s not a lot more I can add that the video doesn’t already cover outside of the fact that this bike is even cooler in person than it is on video and I highly recommend checking one out!!

 

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That’s it for now, here’s hoping I’ll still be able to see the mailbox with the next bit of snow we’re forecasted to get and that we get a little bit of warmth (and meltdown) so that I can get this rig on the road!!

 

Until next time…

Road Apple Roubaix

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The official launch of the 2015 cycling season has come with the first edition of the Road Apple Roubaix and it was quite a day indeed. The day started not on the course as it normally would but rather from the time I left the garage at home as the weather would play a huge part in the days events. The normal 40 minute drive from the house to the course quickly became at least an hour drive if not more as the snow began to fall at a quicker rate than the plow trucks could clear the roads. With the drive being a mixture of white knuckle moments and a few “hold my drink and watch this” episodes I managed to drift my way to Swine Creek Reservation in Middlefield, Ohio where the inaugural Road Apple Roubaix was set to start.

 

at the start of road apple

As the snow continued to fall I got checked into the event and found my choice of bringing a fat bike instead of my normal gravel bike was a smart one. The day before I went back and forth between my Raleigh Willard and the fat bike as I really wanted to break the Willard in at this event but I decided to let the weather make the decision for me and as it turned out it was the right choice for sure. It wasn’t that the course wasn’t able to be ridden on a CX/MTB/Gravel bike but rather the day seemed tailor made for a fat bike with the snow continuing to build up on an already rutted course. As I witnessed many other riders rolling their skinny tires through the snow and dabbing every couple of feet at the start I managed to power away on my single speed (well dingle speed) switching from line to line across the road at will.

 

on the road at road apple

 

The ride continued on there were many challenges along the way ranging from the arctic weather that kept reminding us that it’s still winter here in Northeast Ohio to the snow ruts in the road which tugged the bike around the road making sure we as the riders paid close attention to what was going down. There was even one point while going downhill trying to stay on a 5″ track left by a truck where I was passed by an Amish buggy going full tilt. As the buggy struggled to stay straight I took the opportunity to pick up a quick draft from this quickly moving square block on wheels. My smirk quickly transformed into complete concentration as I was barely in control as we careened down the road. I managed to stay up however my free ride was off in another direction leaving me to face the wind once again.

 

As we made another turn on to what was supposedly a gravel road (too much snow to tell for sure) we saw the passing pizza delivery guy and knowing that pizza was waiting for us back at the lodge the pedals seemed to turn a little easier for a moment or two but that was to quickly change. As we tore our way through another section I could feel the tires sink in a little bit more than normal so I was sure we were on the final gravel stretch. With each passing pedal stroke I became more and more happy that I choose to do the 20 mile route instead of the 40 mile route as energy seemed to be leaving my body at bonk at any moment rate. Then through the woods we saw welcoming sight of the final climb knowing our days efforts were nearly done. As welcoming as knowing that we were nearly done was the challenge was yet over as we…okay I…struggled to come to grips with my 35lbs+ bike and a rather steep singlespeed gearing for the day. I was left with the idea of trying to hammer the old girl over the ridge or getting off to warm up my toes with a quick little walk before the summit. After a quick 10 yard walk…and a slight flattening of the hill…I was able to orchestrate a seamless cx remount onto my steed to crest the hill and creep into the finishing straight back to the lodge where food and some of the best tasting beer awaited us.

 

As much as Mother Nature challenged us throughout the day the event was a blast and though not officially a race, it was a great way to kick off the 2015 season. I’m very much hoping the event is put on again next year as they did an amazing job! Now to plan on getting out there when there’s a little less snow to actually ride some gravel roads.

 

Until next time…

 

…you put your CX bike away??

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got to enjoy the front row for a minute….and GO!

 

So this Sunday was the official season opener for the Northeast Cyclocross Series (NEOCX) and it did not disappoint. I was lucky enough to have a front row start which was cool but only added to the pressure of the first race of the season here in Ohio. It was a tough battle to the first corner which was far enough away when warming up but seemed twice as long when flying along with some of the best in the area. I managed to get in there solidly with the group but it quickly became apparent that I was not going to be engaging in the battle at the front so I let a few guys go by on the good line so that they could race their race. I felt pretty solid (relative) thru about 40 minutes into the 60 minute race but found myself doing what I could after overcooking a couple of corners and battling with course tape that decided it would be better wrapped up in my cassette and brake than marking the course. I trudged on to finish not exactly where I was hoping but finished none the less and felt great for not pulling the plug.

 

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taking a turn on the back side of the course.

 

Outside of the new feeling of starting from the front row of the Pro/1/2/3 race was having the family along for the ride. Now for some CX just means family day which is excellent. For me over the years racing CX has come with various forms of debauchery in one way or another so it was odd to have the family there keeping me honest. At the end of the day I couldn’t believe that I haven’t officially invited them to any prior events because it was awesome having them there. Hearing my 5 year old son cheer me on yelling stuff like, “You can do it Dad, I know you can” and my 8 year old daughter’s gentle whispering yell of, “Dad you’re the best bike racer i know” made it all worth while. The best was watching the kids setup to race me to the corner “like they do on the tv bike races” was a hoot…well up to the point where my son lost track of where he was and nearly ran through the tape into my bike while I railed a corner in front of them. Luckily my wife warned (startled him to death so that he stopped) him in time and he has the ability to turn on a dime. Can’t wait to have them come to another event!

 

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ready for another run down the long straight away

 

And for one more new thing this year…well two but they go hand in hand. This year due to some scheduling conflicts I’m not able to make it to as many single speed races as I would normally like so I’ve been riding gears. Gears have been good especially aboard my Raleigh RXC disc. Reliable Hayes disc brakes, Prologo saddle, American Classic TCX wheels, and Clement tires aboard a smooth riding carbon frame been great though to be honest I do miss my single speed from time to time. It will get to see dirt soon enough though as my schedule allows at least one sscx race before Cincy and SSCXWC.

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mike adams and a well placed Raleigh logo coming up the stairs

 

The other “new” is that I’m riding for a new team, WAS LABS Cycling. These folks are excellent to say the least and Northeast Ohio is lucky to have them. Not only is the team inviting and doing extremely well in multiple disciplines of cycling but their dedication to youth cycling is inspiring. Looking back at various photos and seeing the kids having a blast gives hope for the future of the sport. Happy to be apart of such a great team.

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getting ready to remount after the stair run up

 

was lab juniors helping

getting a helping hand..or..yanking him back?

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…getting ready for the start…

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the sweet feeling of getting the hole shot!

 

previewing the course

part of the Adam’s family previewing the course aboard some sweet machines

 

Well that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Valentine’s Day Bike

So another day older and after getting what I did in the “mail” today maybe even a bit wiser. As it’s a new year it was time to update the sample/race bike for 2013. I like others am ready for the road season so it was time to get something on order before it was too late. Well my first choice was already gobbled up so I had to “settle” for the 2013 Militis 3 with the new Shimano DA 9000.

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Normally I’m not one to go top shelf but after a brief shake down ride I’m really glad I did! Not only is the frame awesome (new uci stamp of approval included) but the hanging parts are amazing.

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DA 9000 performs incredibly well! With nice tight shifts and great ergonomics its hard to believe I nearly passed this bike by.

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After the first ride I found the bike to be quite responsive, compliments to a nice stiff t800 carbon frame and some light Cole Carbon 38s.

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Hard to believe 11 speed is here. I really didn’t notice that I was able to turn it up to 11, at least yet, but that could also because of the cold temps today. I did notice how smooth shifting was however and I can’t recommend checking it out enough.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say after a couple of rides but for now I’m going to enjoy some cake and eat it too!

In the meantime here’s a great review of Shimano’s DA 9000