Monday, January 22, 2018

Let's light this candle!

Reality Check:  We have less than seven weeks until the 2018 True Grit Epic endurance mountain bike race in St. George, UT. Yikes!

Who is stoked to kick off the 2018 mountain bike race season?

Now might be a good time to dust off the mountain bike and take it down to Eastside Cycles for a tune-up. Don't wait until the last minute.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving Weekend CX Racing in Massachusetts

Patty and I spent 2016 Thanksgiving weekend with her family in Uxbridge, Mass.  Races here are big and frequent.  I signed up for NECXBAR Finals in Fitchberg.  Her cousin, Paul, lent me a classic S-Works for the race.  The commute was an easy 50 minute drive in a borrowed car.  A collaborative effort made this happen.


Pre-race: 41 racers pre-registered and 35 started in the 50+ age group.  I got a 2nd row start.  The course was 3.1km, all flat, 3 dismounts: serpentine sand section, barriers, and a short run-up.  The way the race promoters handled the call-up was elegant. All pre-registered riders have a score determined by previous USACycling CX results.  Numbers are issued in order of that score.  Mine was 214 because I was ranked 14th among pre-registered riders.  Call-up was 201-208 in 1st row, 209-216 in 2nd, and so on.  The bike fleet at the start line was impressive. Half ran tubulars, which were definitely an advantage on this course with lots of tight grass turns and plenty of rocks and roots to cause a pinch flat.

The race: I chose poorly on my line-up position because the first row guy in my file slowed me down.  I was ~15th out of the first straightaway.  The course was laid out with several long-ish power sections through grass and paths, interspersed with tight turn sections.  The field strung out quickly and 15th position was far from ideal -- slow to a crawl in the turns, then sprint to catch up in the straights.  I made a few risky passes, then fell on a crossed wheel half-way into the first lap and lost another 4 positions.  By end of lap 1, a group of heavy hitters were well clear, and I was still ~15th.  Through the rest of the 5-lap race, some in front crashed or faded… always someone to chase (and be chased by).  My lap times got faster (Strava file), and I was digging deep and dishing as much pain as I was dished.  It was a fight for position all the way to the final sprint, where seconds differed positions in front and behind me.  I was happy with a top-10 finish - 8th.  Main take-away is the importance of a good start.

Equipment: You know the “no equipment changes before the race” rule? That was completely violated on this race… a compromise for the opportunity to race during a family visit on Thanksgiving.  Paul Knapik, Patty’s cousin, lent me his ~10 year old Specialized S-works CX bike - a top machine in its prime, and more than adequate for me.  Bonus - frame size was perfect.  He has it set up with rear brake on the left lever (!).  I’m not used to that.  The rationale is the ability to storm into a barrier with your [left] hand on the rear brake, and your right hand free to start the carry.  It’s a good idea that can shave time… but better to make the change between CX seasons.  The set-up worked well for barriers when I had time to mentally prepare for left-hand braking.  It worked poorly for the times I overshot corners and grabbed a big piece of front brake.  I’m grateful for the use of the bike and the idea -- strongly considering the brake arrangement for the ‘17/’18 season.



I’m signing off for now.  See my next blog on the MTB aspect of my 2016 Thanksgiving visit to New England.



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Team Rider Profile - Javier Colton

It has been fun getting to know Javier over the last 1.5 years. Javier is our youngest team member and is a great asset to the team. Besides being really skilled in both cyclo-cross and mountain biking, his attitude is always positive and he always brings the STOKE! I think his youthful enthusiasm about life reminds all of us "old" guys to enjoy the ride and not be to serious!

Javier riding his hometown trails in Oregon.  

Javier competing at the 2015 XC Mountain Bike Nationals in California.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dave's 200K Fat Pursuit Gear List

This is a follow-up post to my 2016 JayP’s Backyard Fat Pursuit 200K Race Report.

Winter ultra endurance races have been around since the first Iditabike took place on the Iditarod Trail in 1987. As fat bike technology has improved, the popularity of winter endurance racing has exploded and racers can now choose from the Tuscobia 150, Arrowhead 135, White Mountains 100, Susitna 100 and the Iditarod Trail Invitational. JayP’s Fat Pursuit 200K/200M is the newest addition to this list of ultras and is destined to be a winter classic.

Like most of the winter ultra races, the Fat Pursuit has a “Required Gear” list designed to keep the racers safe in case of emergency.

Fat Pursuit 200K/200M Required Gear:
  • Front and rear safety lights. White front, red rear
  • Headlamp or bike light
  • Ability to carry 48oz of water without freezing
  • 0*F sleeping bag or colder
  • Insulated sleeping pad – minimum size 20″x 48″
  • Bivy sac or tent
  • Insulated jacket (puffy)
  • Stove, fuel, 16 oz. pot
  • Fire starter, lighter and / or matches
  • Extra batteries for both your safety lights and headlamp
  • Map (provided)
  • SPOT locator beacon

Fat Pursuit 200K/200M Recommended Gear:
  • Gore Tex Jacket
  • Spare gloves, hat, socks
  • Ability to carry 100oz water
  • Calories
  • Thermos…nice treat!
  • Goggles
  • GPS, compass, watch, computer
Full-loaded and front-end heavy
What did I carry in 2016?

In hindsight, I would say that I carried too much gear & extra clothing and I will look for ways to lighten my load in 2017. I intentionally did not weigh my bike when it was fully loaded but I am sure it was well over 50 lbs and probably closer to 60 lbs. I took a pile of gear with me to Island Park and then made my final selection based on the last weather forecast before the race.

  • 2016 Salsa Beargrease 
  • 90mm Light-Bicycle carbon rims 
  • 26 x 4.0” 45Nrth VanHelga tires setup tubeless with 6oz of Stans in each tire
  • SRAM 1x11 Drivetrain with 26T front chainring
Testing my load at home prior to the race
Bags & Attachments
  • Expedition Pogies – Revelate Designs
  • Frame Bag - Revelate Designs
  • (2) Mtn Feed bags – Revelate Designs
  • Gas Tank – Revelate Designs
  • Jerry Can  - Revelate Designs
  • Harness (for sleep system)  – Revelate Designs
  • Handlebar Pocket – Revelate Designs
  • BarYak rails & cross bar - BarYak
  • Compression Dry Bag (for sleep system) – Granite Gear XL
  • Seat Bag – Carousel Design Works
  • Downtube Bag – Bedrock Bags
Repair Kit
Bike Repair
  • (2) Tubes
  • Lezyne Multi-tool
  • Lezyne hand pump
  • Tire lever
  • (2) 11spd Quick-links
  • Gorilla tape 
  • Valve core remover
  • (6) Zip-ties
Practicing with the Kovea Spider stove prior to the race
  • Niteride Lightning Bug 3.0 & Stinger 10 - Front and rear safety lights
  • Lupine Piko headlamp with extra batteries
  • Osprey 3L hydration pack under jacket
  • 24oz Polar Insulated water bottle
  • Western Mountaineering Puma MF -25F Sleeping Bag
  •  Thermarest 20” x 48” sleeping pad 
  •  SOL Emergency Bivy
  •  Kovea Spider Stove, Snow Peak 700 Ti pot, 110g Isobutane fuel canister
  • Aluminum folding  windscreen
  • Fire starter, BIC lighter and storm proof matches
  • Lithium AA / CR2032 / CR2450 extra batteries
  • Garmin eTrex Vista Hcx GPS loaded with 200K route
  • Garmin Edge 500 (battery died at 15.5 hours)
  • Cue Sheet
  • SPOT Gen3 (rented)
Sock layers
  • Lake MXZ 303 shoes, size 48 Wide (3 sizes larger than my normal shoes)
  • Crescent Moon neoprene shoe covers
  • Cabelas poly liner socks
  • RAB Vapor Barrier socks
  • Bridgedale Summit Socks
  • Bib Shorts
  • Toko Nordic Pants
  • Craft Mesh Tank base layer
  • Craft Pro Zero Extreme LS base layer
  • Merino Wool SS jersey
  • Cloudveil Softshell Jacket
  • Craft Active Skull Cap
  • Original Buff (on and off as needed)
  • Oakley sunglasses, clear lenses
  • Pearl Izumi PRO liner gloves
  • OR PL400 fleece mittens (at night)
Extra Clothes (carried on bike)
  • Feathered Friends down jacket
  • Patagonia Nano Puff Vest
  • Montbell Rain Shell
  • Extra pair of fleece mittens
  • Extra pair of fleece gloves
  • Extra Craft Active Skull Cap
  • Extra Original Buff
Personal items
Personal Items
  • (3) Pairs HotHands hand warmers
  • (2) Pairs Grabber Insole foot warmers
  • Small packet of chamois cream
  • Dermatone
  • Advil
  • Vasoline 
  • Ear plugs
  • iPod Shuffle w/single ear bud
Final thoughts on the gear I used in 2016

My gear choices leaned to the side of comfort vs. speed this year. I can make a few changes to lighten my load and still meet the requirements of the race. If the forecast were to call for temps below zero, my load would obvious get heavier.

Lupine Piko Headlamp - One of my gear MVPs
Gear MVPs
  • Salsa Beargrease:  This fat bike rides more like a “mountain bike” than any other fat bike I have ridden and the geometry is perfect. 
  • Lupine Piko headlamp:  The Piko has up to 1200 lumens if needed as well as the ability to customize the output and battery runtime by programming the PCS switch. I ran my Piko on the middle (4W) setting that produces 470 lumens and conserves battery power.
  • RAB Vapor Barrier socks:  The RAB VB socks have taped seams, which prevent moisture from getting to your insulating socks & shoes. 
  • Patagonia Nano Puff vest:  The Nano Puff is a lightweight, compressible layer that adds a lot of warmth for its weight. I bought this vest one size too large so it would easily fit over my jacket + hydration pack. 
Gear that won’t make the cut in 2017
  • 45Nrth VanHelga tires:  I love these tires…but I will choose something with more float next year.
  • Montbell Rain Shell: A full-on rain jacket is overkill & too bulky. A water resistant wind shell would be ideal and would pack down much smaller.
  • Western Mountaineering Puma MF -25F Sleeping Bag:  This is not a camping trip. I will carry a 0F sleeping bag instead. 
  • Thermarest 20” x 48” sleeping pad: Again, this is not a camping trip. 
  • Osprey 3L hydration bladder:  My bladder leaked at the first checkpoint and this could have ended my race prematurely. It is too easy to cross-thread the lid when refilling at checkpoints. 
Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 JayP’s Backyard Fat Pursuit 200K Race Report

JayP’s Backyard FAT Pursuit 200K Fat Bike Race took place on January 9th, 2016 in Island Park, ID.

Race report by Dave Byers:

Quick Stats:
Place: T-6th
Time: 22 Hours, 57 Minutes
Distance: 122.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,674’

“Go as fast as you can while conditions are good” I said to myself as I rode alone in the pre-dawn darkness. I knew that the perfect trail conditions would not last. Traveling at 10 mph on a loaded fat bike is flying, and for the first 45’ of the 200K Fat Pursuit I averaged a blistering 10.5 mph. The lead group of 6-7 riders had launched off the start line as if it was a XC race and their red taillights were out of sight within minutes. Less than hour into the race, I was riding alone.

With three checkpoints on the 200K route, the race is broken up into four segments. In long-distance fat bike races, it is almost impossible to accurately estimate split times because your speed is dependent on the ever-changing conditions. Temperature, recent trail grooming (or lack thereof), snow machine traffic, snowfall, and wind have a huge effect on your speed.

My Salsa Beargrease ready to rock the evening before our 7 AM start
Start to Checkpoint #1 – 31 Miles

Having raced the 60K Fat Pursuit in 2015, I had seen the first 31 miles of the course and knew what to expect. As we waited on the start line in mild 20F temperatures, I was very calm and focused on what I needed to do in order to give myself the best chance to finish this race. 

The riding to checkpoint #1 was truly “as good as it gets” for racing a fat bike on groomed snow machine trails. However, riding a loaded fat bike on snow requires a lot of effort even under perfect conditions. As soon as the trail pitched up at mile 12, my average speed plummeted to about 5 mph and my HR shot up another 5 bpm. “Eat. Drink. Smile. Go.” was my mantra for the day and Michelle’s “secret weapon” cookies were going down nicely.

Michelle's "Secret Weapon" cookies taste amazing and remain chewy in below-zero temps
 I rolled into checkpoint #1 in 3:15:00 feeling good. However, my biggest challenge in the first segment was not the riding…it was the transition at checkpoint #1. As part of our required gear, every racer must carry a stove, fuel, and a pot. The race also requires that each racer must use their stove to boil water when they get to checkpoint #1 before they can continue. I would give myself a C+ on my water boil. I got it done but I was not efficient.

Staying warm while boiling water at Checkpoint #1
As my water was coming to a boil, I found my drop bag and handed my hydration bladder to a smiling volunteer to fill with 84oz of warm water mixed with CarboRocket. In a rush to get going again, I forgot to double-check the lid of my bladder and as I was about to ride away, Tracey Petervary yelled, “Dave, you’re leaking”. Shit! The lid was unknowingly cross-threaded and I lost over 60oz of fluid down my back due to the leak. I had no choice but to try to dry out my jacket and hydration pack before continuing. My stop at checkpoint #1 turned into a 35’ junk show. Lesson learned.

Finally leaving Checkpoint #1
Checkpoint #1 to Checkpoint #2 (West Yellowstone) – 35 Miles 

It was almost 11am when I left checkpoint #1. This is significant because the busiest time of day for snow machine traffic is typically 11am to 4pm. Snow machine traffic churns up the trail and makes riding extremely more difficult.

Eight miles after leaving checkpoint #1, the route turned right onto the Black Canyon Loop Trail. As I made the turn, an armada of snow machines descended the steep trail towards me leaving a soft, churned up trail behind them. I did not know it at the time, but my pace was about to significantly slow down. I was now climbing at an average speed of 3.5 mph.

Cramp! Five and a half hours into the race, sharp cramps forced me off the bike as I tried to “walk it out”. The low-cadence, high-torque riding was taking a toll on my body and I tried to do damage control by walking whenever I felt a sharp cramp coming on.

Mother Nature decided to throw us curve-ball as well. As I climbed up onto the 8,000’ South Plateau, the light snow that had been falling intensified and the tire tracks in front of me were quickly filling in. Visibility was tough in the flat light and the churned up trail required max effort to keep the bike moving forward. It was ridiculous how much effort it took to ride at 4 mph at this point in the race.

Keep. Moving. Forward. I “thought” there might be some easy miles once I descended off the plateau towards West Yellowstone…I was wrong. Heavy snow machine traffic plus steady snowfall equals slow riding. The last few miles into checkpoint #2 took forever and I wobbled into West Yellowstone just a little after 5pm. The last 35 miles took me 6:41:00 and I was shattered.

Riders of various physical & mental states were sitting around the large dining table when I stumbled through the door into checkpoint #2. Although I was in rough shape, I had no thoughts of quitting at this point but I knew I needed some food & time before I could continue. As I stripped off my wet layers to dry out, angels from Heaven, aka the checkpoint #2 volunteers, delivered a hot grilled cheese sandwich & chicken noodle soup. After a second bowl of soup and more water, I was slowly coming back to life. In contrast, several riders were pulling the plug on their races and this was affecting my mojo.

Checkpoint #2, West Yellowstone
One rider who was not about to DNF was Chris Estrem from Ketchum. Chris passed me on the opening climb and arrived at checkpoint #2 about 20’ ahead of me. As I slowly came back to life, Chris was gauging my motivation to continue and asked if I wanted some company on the trip over Two Top. After a much-needed layover, we rolled out of checkpoint #2 together.

Checkpoint #2 to Checkpoint #3 (Man Cave) – 35 Miles

Based on previous reports and the route profile, this segment is definitely the crux of the race. The Two Top Trail climbs to 8,300’ and includes some very steep sections. The weather can be notoriously bad and whiteout conditions are common.

Chris and I got extremely lucky. The trail groomer had just hit the Two Top Trail and our spirits lifted immediately when we saw freshly groomed trail ahead of us. Freshly groomed trail needs to “setup” before it is firm & fast but at least we were riding our bikes instead of pushing our bikes…most of the time. As we climbed higher, the trail steepened and required pushing our heavy bikes despite the groomed surface.

After four hours of slow climbing, I was ready to be off this mountain and onto the flats that led us into the Man Cave. The chilly descent off Two Top was over in the blink of an eye but the climbing was not. There were several unexpected climbs on our approach to the Man Cave and every one of them hurt at this point in the race. As we were climbing the Meadow Creek Trail, which looked flat on paper but climbed forever, we noticed a set of very fresh mountain lion tracks heading the opposite direction down the trail. This was cool and somewhat spooky at the same time.

Approximately seven hours after leaving West Yellowstone, we arrived at checkpoint #3, aka the Man Cave. Two amazing volunteers greeted us as we wheeled our bikes into the warmth of the giant heated garage. They fed us sourdough pancakes, bacon, potatoes, coffee…and more potatoes as our damp clothes dried on the homemade clothes/boot dryer. In less than an hour, we headed out to finish this beast.

Gearing up to finish the last 22 miles
Checkpoint #3 to the Finish – 22 Miles

How hard could 22 miles on mostly-flat terrain be? Well, the “mostly-flat” trail turned out to be “pretty f’in hilly” trail. Damn you JayP!

Chris was clearly stronger at this point and appeared to ride the punchy hills with ease while I had to dig deep to clean each one. After riding together for the past nine hours, I had no intention, nor the energy, to “race” Chris to the finish and encouraged him to go ahead if I was holding him up. Chris confirmed that we were in this together to the end. Classy.

Finished in 22 Hours, 57 Minutes. Epic.
Chris and I rolled under the giant log arch at the Ponds Lodge at 6:03 am to a warm greeting by JayP, Gabe & Jenny, Eric, and Nikki & Jeremy. It was awesome to see so many friends at the finish. Our official time of 22 hours, 57 minutes put us tied for 6th place but that is not important. Finishing this beast is one of my proudest cycling accomplishments and is an experience I will never forget.

My new favorite beanie!
Lastly, I want to thank Michelle for supporting me while I pursued this crazy-ass adventure.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for a follow-up post on the gear I used during this race.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

This is the end...2015

As we close out 2015, we just wanted to thank our sponsors for supporting us and helping us enjoy healthy and active lifestyles, while promoting the sports of mountain biking and cyclo-cross. The team had a very successful year both racing and being a positive contributing member in our community.  The team accumulated a total of 262 race starts across 6 states.  The teams favorite events based on participation included the Knobby Tire Series 9 to 5 race at Jug Mountain and the first weekend of the Idaho Waffle Cross Series in which the team has co-promoted for the last 5 years.  The teams "home, away from home" once again are Bend and Grand Targhee largely as a result of the High Cascade 100 and Pierre's Hole 100 races. On the community service side of things, the team accumulated over 200 community service hours through trail work of the Ridge to Rivers trail system, Eagle Bike Park and our annual Spring Clean Up of the Camel's Back trail systems.

Once again, thank you to all of our sponsors of 2015:  Eastside CyclesFit WrapzRRC ContractorsTrailhead ChiropracticMatt Green PhotoAthlete 360Habitat Veterinary HospitalMyoFly MassageSilverstone Family DentalRocky Mountain BikesCenotePolar BottleHoney StingerMaxxis Tires, Carbo Rocket,  Patagonia and Pactimo!

Keep in touch after the New Year to see what will be new and exciting for the team as we go into our 6th year!

Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 Eagle Island CX Race Report- Cat Pro 1/2

Gabriel KeckThis is one of my favorite courses of the season, and once again Reel Theaters didn't disappoint!  The course is always a fun mix of slaloming around trees, punchy climbs, beach sand, and fast double track around the lake.  The race started in typical fashion with a couple hundred yards of pavement followed by a hairpin turn onto grass to the first hill climb of the course.  It was a bit of a bump and grind around that first corner with Richard Feldman, Remi, Tad, Cory, Ian, myself, and Andrew Harris going in hot.  We quickly got sorted out after the hairpin whilst hitting the first punchy climb.  Then Ian who was at the front crashes out in the first technical corner coming off the hill.  We sweep around him, and somewhere around here Richard Feldman gets free of the pack and we only see glimpses of him for the duration of the race.  However, it becomes a bit of a throw down in the chase group.  Cory gets away by riding strong and smooth through the technical part of the course but once on the doubletrack, the pack closes the gap.  I was able to make a move to the front of the chase group about halfway through the fast double track section, and was then working with Tad and Harris (who is coming on strong this season!) on the road section.  After drafting a bit, I moved to the front and put in an effort.  As this was just a lap into the 8 lap race, I wanted to stay with the chase group, but when a gap opened, I decided to give it a go and see if I could get away.  

At every turn I saw that I was inching away from them, but Feldman was increasing his gap on me.  It soon became a race where I had no chance of closing ground on 1st, but very worried that I would be caught by the chase group.  At this point I tried to relax and simply ride as smooth as I possibly could.  No hard braking into corners, no aggressive turns, just focusing on keeping my heart rate down in the technical sections and giving it all I had on the flats and hills.  This helped the race go quickly, and soon it was bell lap.  I finished with Feldman nowhere in sight, but with Tad and Harris close behind to round out the podium.  Fun course, fun racing, and good times racing out there with Cory, who will be bringing some of the Cross Crusade fitness back to the local races!  


I've had a solid start to the cx season, and I think it has to do with my racing the Bogus Basin Hill Climb race for the first time.  It's one of the last road races of the season, and for me, a little over an hour in duration, pretty much like a cx race.  Doing the Tuesday evening Bogus Basin training rides that lead up to the race got the fitness dialed in.  And I was then able to maintaining this fitness with consistent mtn bike rides on Tues and Thurs evenings plus a Bogus hill climb or Lost River Cycling (LRC) road ride on the weekends.  This took me into the cx season with a solid base of fitness.  This doesn't mean that cx racing is any less painful, it just means that I feel I can recover more quickly from a hard effort or chase and then do it again... 

Gabe calmly reeling in Harris
In addition to the consistent training, the other key has been a dialed in cx bike.  This is the first season I Belgian taped my tubies on my wheels, and now I can run lower pressure without fear of rolling a tire, which has plagued me for several season in a row now... So if you want to know how to glue on a tubular tire with Belgian tape, hit me up!  I have the process dialed, and yes, there are a few tricks...  And many thanks to Ryan, the fearless leader at Eastside Cycles, for getting me the shifters and drivetrain parts necessary to get my season started off right!