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Naturally,  I seek to swap out my brand name bikes with Campie Design Studio frames. I’ve had the road and cross bikes for a while, but I hesitated to attack the mountain bike.  I don’t get out on the trail enough and I was very satisfied with  my Frankencross bike that I’d ride some gnarly single track on.  However,  I crashed on the Colorado trail on a rocky decent and broke the seat stay when it hit an angular rock.  This prompted me to fix it and then just decide to build a more race focused cross frame.  Although my new cross frame has enjoyed some serious single track exposure,  it isn’t quite the geometry that made the Frankencross the capable machine that it was. Let’s face it, it was time to address the mountain bike issues in the stable.

At first I considered a super light 26 inch bike, but after riding a 29er I knew it was they way to go.  So I began the research on geometry and how that relates to my own ride preferences.  It was clear that many of the challenges of going to the bigger wheel size evolved around geometry – wheel base, stand over and quick yet stable handling.   The benefits of the greater rolling diameter was often offset by weight and speed of handling.  I prefer to be over my bottom bracket more than standard and I also needed to tuck that rear wheel as best I could to keep my wheel base shorter.   In some ways, conflicting goals.   I also didn’t want a crazy steep head tube angle, there are too many long rocky descents in Colorado to consider making the front end too sharp.

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January Training

January may be the toughest month for a coach with racers that live in a decent climate.   It is too early to be going too hard, clearly.   However,  the racer is getting pretty excited about the season.  The new kit shows up,  they are at team meetings discussing season goals and team training rides resume.   It is rare to find a client who has all this stimulus and can have the mature perspective of its only January.   Of course, it is even tougher in places that start racing this early and continue to race until November.

So naturally, clients begin judging their training as if they were mid race season.  Luckily,  I don’t believe in the traditional long base only period and build periods that were mandatory 10-20+ years ago.  I think some level of intensity is critical for the amateur racer to maintain and improve for throughout the off season.  Should a  racer be going at their ultimate potential in January? Of course not.  But their ought to be room and even prescribed work at VO2, sprint and LT levels in the early months on the year.  This will allow the body to build these important energy systems and form, while also working on that critical base in a way that does not over tax the entire system.

If you’re one of the early season hungry racers.  Go get, just keep in mind that you need to consider the entire season and the importance of base, build and form.    So get after it in moderation so that you can go ALL in when it matters most, during race season.

Weather like this doesn't help moderation in training!

Weather like this doesn’t help moderation in training!

 

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Sonic Boom 2015

The team had a season kick off meeting this week and I have to say it is a good looking crew.  I guess I could have said that differently,  what I mean to say is that the new P 12 team could be good this year.  It’s a good mix of young hungry guys, stronger ex-NRC level riders and a really old, slow guy.  (That’s me.)

Not a lot of fresh upgrades,  but a few.  A few new Coloradans.  A good mix of time trial, climbing, sprint and support riders.

Now it’s all up to the ability to gel.  It’s a serious element that the team had in 2011 and seems to have been missing since then.   It will be very difficult with all the new blood.  However,  our director and captains seem to be better organized and prepared than ever.  Setting this strong of a foundation is a great way to kick off the beginning of the season.  Now it’s up to the riders to step up and deliver.

www.sonicboomracing.com/

 

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Every fall/winter is usually the time I get the most inquiries about coaching.  Many work out to be clients and some don’t.  I learn more from each interaction and I truly learn the most from the folks that sign up.  I am lucky to work with some extremely informed clients.  Many have read more cycling books or have more racing experience.  I always look at this as an opportunity to learn and to grow.

One of the great gifts of coaching is the inspiration you get from your clients.  It gets me out on the bike more.  I am further pushed to do more research and stay more informed on new power meters, nutrition, training methods and psychological approach for athletes.  Ultimately, I am a better coach and even racer due to the folks around the sport that I get to support.

Thanks to the folks that allow me to be a part of their cycling success.

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0169d23d244412244d3adb848ae359959e672eaf46 01576cb5a9159684cafd7a00a1191584120d053c1d 01fe3cabda617ae470ce76a0f3150aecb7e5a464ad 01f31a2971775301eed04663574aa33b1b3368e3e9 01f1ee4189db91456e2513ee559832be8e29c8604e 01cf7bc37c708329c6e1170dd73023bacc32cd8120 01c89d2c298f0d5e461292bdbbf5e20db0acad760e 01bb69a43d9d27c1e5c01ecb2a22d66310b6a7a556 01b93eba815ba034fe7b197ba4d8bdbde1cb3c1960 01521c4e68e79984a15a7962c18aae69f3d443398d 01576cb5a9159684cafd7a00a1191584120d053c1dI’ve been working on a new Cross frame besides the Frankencross (which I still love, even though I had to repair a break due to a crash on a singeltrack descent that broke a finger, as well as the seatstay on a rock).  The new frame is designed to be more race oriented =  a lower BB, shorter head tube height, tighter wheelbase and lighter tubing.  I used Columbus Spirit tubes, which have some very cool shapes.  The top tube, downtube, seatstays, chainstays are all dramatically shaped.  For engineering purposes and definitely style purposes.  It’s hard to see in the pics due to the reflection off the glossy pain, but the tubes add a nice design flare to the frame.

I also painted the bike myself.  I wanted a more dramatic paint job that still looks a bit pro.  I am not up for paying $1000 for a paint job, (cost if I sent it out) however I am up for spending 70 bucks on supplies and taking the time to do it myself.  I am lucky that I have a 3rd car garage area that has heat and I can wrap off in plastic to keep from getting paint on anything.  I have set it up with a fan on the bike frame for drying and 2 box fans over for ventilation.  I also set up a small bathroom by our pool that is heated (100+ degrees) and ventilated as a drying room.  (Thanks Meredith for the idea!) This all made the painting process much more professional and I was able to attain the best results so far.  I used automotive professional paint (have to order) and it made a huge difference in the ability to really create a great paint job.

First ride out: 4+ hours on the bike in a windy fall day.  I had a blast.  It was so windy that I had a hard time getting a real feel for the frame.  I am going to through some road wheels on it this week and see how it feels compared to the S3 frame.  It came out about 1/4 lb. heavier pre-paint and it feels a bit more solid so far.  Total bike weight with wheels is 18 lbs and change.  I could get it down below 18 if I went with a nicer crankset, seatbost, bar, stem combo.  Not bad for cross racing, especially when you get the comfort of steel.

 

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If you have been racing hard all summer, you are likely ready for break as September comes around.  While most non-racing cyclists are still riding strong because they have metered their summer along slowly, if your racing all summer it can be hard to keep that same level of mental and physical intensity.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, it might be helpful to take some time off.  However, I don’t believe in shutting down the system all fall and then recharging it in the winter or beginning of spring.   What can you do to stay fit and keep mentally charged?

I like to promote other sports or activities that can support whole body health.  Try to find activities that:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Improve Joint Strength
  3. Create Full Body Strength
  4. Maintain Endurance
  5. Enhance Explosiveness
  6. Strengthen the Core

It is hard to find all these in one exercise, so hitting up several different types of training can be helpful.

  1. Mountain Biking – Its an easy transition and works a more whole body than road
  2. Trail Running – Works the small muscles around the joints and is lower impact than running on the road
  3. Swimming – Lengthens the body and works more of your full body muscles in a low impact way
  4. Rowing – Very low impact and very much a full body workout
  5. Lifting Weights – Not much endurance here, but can be a good way to focus on non-cycling muscles
  6. Yoga – Good for flexibility and full body strength

I wouldn’t recommend going completely off the bike, but lowering the on bike time and working in some of these other activities will have longer term rewards.

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My final post on this build is all about the ride, except for the part about my naïve error.

So let’s just get it out of the way – I underestimated the strength needs of the integrated seat mast.  After some research, I found that I really should have used a seat mast sleeve that would have created a much thicker and much more stable junction for the seat tube/top tube/ seat mast intersection.  The super light S3 seat post just doesn’t cut it.  In fact it really should be twice as thick through the intersection.  As I was building the frame, I had my suspicions.  So I really beefed up the intersection welds, but ended up crimping the area just above the welds after I rode the bike a few times.  The great thing about steel is that it is generally fixable.  I thought about a variety of fixes, but the one I felt the most confidence in is my patented “triple triangle” approach.  In other words I welded a very small support tube to the seat mast and the top tube to create a very strong triangle that would allow the seatmast to have a much larger support at the juncture.  While you can argue the aesthetic impact is not great, it definitely worked.  I have ridden the bike on many a very rough dirt road at 30+ mph on descents and it has held up.  Other than this “minor”[i] setback on my prototype frame, it has held up without flaw.

Other stuff I learned about S3, definitely use a thicker head tube or use some type of lugs/banding.  The head tube is too thin to ride well and doesn’t take to brazing to well.  As you can see, I created some cool sleeves to create a stiff head tube and a nice little frame detail. So back to the fun stuff. 

The paint job.  I happened to finish the bike around Father’s Day and my wife suggested the kids paint the frame as part of the event.  As you can see, it was an awesome suggestion.  After a primer and base glossy black coat, the kids did their thing and I finished with a few layers of clear.  The paint job is holding up OK, but isn’t nearly as chip proof than a powder coat.  I plan on adding a clear with a hardener eventually after I ride it for a while and touch up any chips.

So now for the ride.  I simply love this bike.  It descents stable and fast.   Feels light and snappy.  Sprints well, although just a bit less stiff than my Scandium Felt.  And I don’t really mind.  Handles a bit quick, but not alarmingly so.   I know the bike rides well when I don’t even care if I am going fast.  It is just so smooth and comfortable, without giving up the racing feel that I demand out of any of my frames. I don’t know if I could be happier considering this is a prototype approach.  The only thing (besides the seatpost issue) that I would change is the rear dropouts.  I wanted a seamless look and so I used inserted dropouts that I could only get in a semi-horizontal setup from Henry James.  Unfortunately that make getting a tire in and out a bit difficult and I have already had the wheel slide a bit after rolling through some tough dirt roads.  Not a huge issue, but an area for improvement.  I would also add internal cable routing as well.

I think the frame  is the best I have ever ridden for me.  The fit is right on (as it should be) and it handles better than expected.  I can’t say enough for the S3 steel.  It is just perfect.  And the brazing allows a builder to create a nice large platform for the areas you want to disperse force and by shaping the brazing you can actually control the contact patch for the force distribution based on how you want the bike to ride.  The crazy thing is how light the bike can be made.  I am riding a 56.5 cm top tube and the bike is weighing 16.3 lbs. as shown in the photos.    I plan on making another frame with some added cool details and adjustments in the future, but for now I am really enjoying the bike. 01e4222479fca89c0abcd27f19086679d2a1ce0871 01fb6e45f9d2c983e87806247bca44b8db3c38ec36 014c186436cb3e020cbb4938cc31d574390eaba8a5 015fe8537dfef82cd9d692a5280450468282464362 018ba356d01ae2c5dca9240ee965d0c06ba61b109e 018cb5e552ae2bb180744486ebe1180519f31aea4e 019bed627e0bfeb6431e4a561c4188265fba53ad40 0154dbdd8a487963fe14ce854b7501cc6a0349a229 01696b716d5b487f624e60470443e5e5e5c32baf5c 01872d19580bbbc2ab3964c560ec5b4835ded6cc76 013796ca93a46b3831a5dd9660dcb7d913846aba52 019696c1cdb7256f38677e6ecd724e8697136be2cb

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