Saturday, May 31, 2014

Trail Building - Getting Into the Mind of an Artist

Rain causes erosion. Erosion over time causes deep ruts. Deep ruts over lots of time become ravines. For those of us in the plains this simple fact is great news. While we do not have mountains, slick rock, or ski lifts, we still have local ravines. With a little bit of imagination and no small amount of work mountain biking is never further away than your local ravine.

The local ravine prior to doing any work. The picture doesn't do the elevation change justice.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ontario Cup Series with Chris Fruetel

Chris Fruetel, 24 years old, I have a Bachelor of Sciences in Environmental Sciences from the University of Gueph, and I’m working on my Masters in Civil Engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston. I’ve been mountain bike racing since I was 17 (with the exception of 1 year I was out for a brain injury (unrelated to cycling). My cycling career highlights are always just the good times I have with my buddies at races, as far as results go, the goal is to make some real highlights this year! For the past few years I’ve been riding under the Ambassador Program for Trek Bikes, more specifically I ride under the Trek Store Cycling Club and get help from the Trek Bicycle Stores in Toronto, Aurora, and Barrie.

Scott Phillips Photo

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is Mountain Biking Fit for the Masses?

Over the past year I have been paying more and more attention to the world of professional road racing. Don't worry, I still primarily consider myself a mountain bike racer, but I like to immerse myself into different aspects of the sport. Road racing is hard sport to watch because on the surface it is very mountainous and boring. However, I believe that mountain biking is the exact opposite. This subject of whether or not mountain biking is fit for the masses - via avenues such as television - has been addressed numerous times. Here is my take on it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Importance of Things

Finding time to ride seems to be a common theme with a lot of Mom's and Dad's. Throw in a full-time job and extra-curricular activities and you're lucky if you get out once a week. It's just priorities, family and work come first. With a three day weekend coming up I thought for sure I would be able to get out. Saturday was no good, had stuff to do around the house and wife went shopping. Sunday we were going to spend some time with our friends and their two little boys so that day was out as well. Monday I thought, yeah that'll be the day. I knew we were planning on going to a cookout later in the afternoon but I thought for sure I could get out. Well I did get out but it wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

Eliana and Karina, all smiles after the parade was done!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Dirt Search!

Richmond, VA

We've been doing these Sunday evening bike rides.  The kind of thing you look forward to all week after (hopefully) busting your ass for the $$$ and wearing yourself out on training rides.  These Sunday evening rides are nothing but fun.  No one is keeping track of cadence, meters, hell, some people just wear tennis shoes and t-shirts.

The only rule: Big tires.

One of our buddies, a local bike shop owner, has been exploring those random patches of woods in the north end of Richmond, VA.  Those weird patches of woods in the back of random neighborhoods, behind the shopping malls or deep behind those big abandoned industrial parks.  A lot of times we tend to stick to the paths that have already been laid out in front of us because we know them.  We know that they're rideable, accessible and relatively safe.  We know we aren't going to "waste" our time by looking for the exit.  Not these rides.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dirt Bag Tech- Pedal Spring Bolt Replacement

As I mentioned before I am a bit of a Dirt Bag....well maybe a full bore one is a better description.

Before the weekend ran into a small problem with my Time pedals. That problem was a missing pin to hold the spring that the cleat clips into in place found on Thursday. And with a road trip to the  Waterloo Hydrocut trails and wanting to be able to use the pedals if I wanted. There was no time to find and order the pin so it was time for a creative Dirt Bag Tech solution. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mavic Stratos Shorts Review

We all know that we need riding gear that is tailored for the types of riding that we love to do. Sure cargo shorts and cotton t-shirts work well enough on shorter or simpler rides, however, there is no denying the advantage that purpose driven mountain bike clothing gives us. After a few seasons of wearing the same shorts all too often, I found myself in the market once again. I decided that I was in need of something that would work well for longer, more pedal intensive rides, however, being that taking a tumble in a rock garden wearing lycra is never any fun I still wanted something in the baggy short department. After doing lots of searching I decided to go all out and purchase a pair of Mavic Stratos shorts.

Testing out the Mavic Stratos shorts on some of the local trails. (Photo Credit:Martina Platte)

Friday, May 23, 2014

One Shot: Bike to (trail) work week

Next week is Bike to Work week in my area. A chance to leave the car seat and hop on a bike seat for a less frenzied commute. As an occasional bike commuter, my 30+ km route provides me a lot of variety in terrain and the tantalizing aromas of dinners cooking. But the concrete jungle commute isn't all shiny lycra and BBQ meat - there's a lot more pluses biking to "work" in the back woods than to the downtown office.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My First Race: Goal Capping!

I just entered and exited my first race. Man and bike vs. other men and their bikes. More than that, it is mind vs. body, and preparation vs. sheer determination. It was a new experience and one that has changed the way I view mountain biking.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Hey there loyal readers, sorry for the lack of post today but I think this picture might help explain why.

The good news is nothing is broken, but I am out of commission for a bit, I know Shannon has a great post planned about the experience from the side of the receiver of the phone call, and then I am writing a post on what to eat to help heal far it seems to be working!

I hope everyone is keeping the rubber side down and I will see you out on the trails again soon.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Do You Even Enduro, Bro?

Our sport is awash in an Enduro-pandemic. This singular marketing buzzword has recently fueled a dramatic rise in the cost of mountain bike equipment and the rate of obsolescence is staggering.

It's one thing to consider what's on the figurative horizon, another entirely to actually BE on the horizon.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

DIY Bike Work Stand - No More Excuses for Not Wrenching on Your Rig

For most of us the Mountain Bike Life is about more than throwing our leg over our favorite steed and shredding the local single track. The ride itself is the climax of the whole experience but there is plenty of foreplay and afterglow worth writing about.  Mapping out your next adventure, packing the right tools, purchasing the right gear, picking the right post ride dive to eat at and the best post ride beverages to drink all are part of this experience we call mountain biking. Personally wrenching on my rig is one of my favorite aspects of this hobby, and I know other readers and contributors here agree. However without a work stand every repair can end up feeling like a trailside nightmare void of joy. If you need a work stand, and you are on a tight budget or have a passion for DIY solutions read below the break to discover a simple and effective DIY bike stand solution that should cost you under $35.

Is it a stand if it hangs from the ceiling?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Trail Dogs! Yay or Nay?

Trail dogs have become a popular topic with more and more dogs making their way into mountain bike videos and magazines as of late. Since most mountain bikers love the outdoors, it's no wonder so many are also dog owners. Dogs need daily exercise and it's hard to have more fun exercising your dog than on a mountain bike.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mid Season Update

Last time I wrote for The Mountain Bike Life, I had just raced at the Sea Otter Classic. Since then, I have had two more races, the Norcal League Series Championships and the State Championships. Summer is almost here, and so is a turning point in my race season.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Getting Back into the Game

My work schedule since January 1 has been unreal. As a rule I don't keep track of hours that I work because it can be downright depressing but I can say there have been more 60 hour work-weeks than I care to admit to. And from our extremely long, or so it seemed, winter I am beat and out of shape. Finally, after months of hard work and cardiovascular inactivity, the snow has melted and the trails are beginning to firm up. This is the time I look forward to but also the time I dread as I try and pull my body out of the slow moving deep hibernation and into faster moving perspiration. So how will I do it? On a singlespeed. “Why the singlespeed!?!” you ask. “Isn't riding a bike one gear this early in the season the equivalent of kicking yourself in the nuts!?!" Well...yes, yes it is. But it's good and I'll tell you why.

I've owned this Soul Cycles Hooligan since 2006. Definitely worth the $150 I paid for the frame.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bring The Mountain Bike Life To Your Desktop!

If you are like me you sit at your desk all day wishing your were out on your bike. While we can't help you get away from your desk, we can try and bring some of that fun to your desk. Below you will find some photos from our contributors that we liked enough to make into wallpapers and we hope you enjoy them too!

Photo: Chad Christian

Monday, May 12, 2014

DIY Bearing Tool

Unlike loose ball type bike parts like hubs and BB's sealed bearings need a tool to get them in or take them out. Some will tell you need to spend a $100 on some special tool while others will say you don't.

In my time working in a now closed local bike shop I had the opportunity to learn a bit from a old European.  Hailing from the 70's and early 80's of bike mechanic's, he told me stories of creating their own tools from scratch if they had to. And saw it in action a few times.

A while ago I had cut down the seatpost from the Monstercross bike I built up. I had a hunch that the scrap bit of seatpost might be useful so I kept it in my work bench. The seatpost size was 27.2 which to some may seem like a odd size these days.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Riding Single Once Again

The history of the bicycle is a long one. Bikes have come a huge distance from their push bike ancestors, all the way into the full suspension, carbon fiber, fully geared terrain-flattening bikes that they are today. With all the innovation constantly going on with bicycle drive trains, why is is that so many people seemingly throw away all of this innovation and ride bikes with no gears? Single speeders are kind of crazy in that regard, however, the lunacy is hard to understand until you actually try it for yourself. I recently had the fortunate occurrence of a single speed frame falling into my lap. After not having ridden a single speed mountain bike in years, I of course had to build it up and subject myself to the lunacy once again.

Niner Single Speed set up with spare parts. (Photo Credit: Martina Platte)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Speak Up! South Chilcotins Mountain Biking At Risk

The South Chilcotins of British Columbia that has provided many years of back-country alpine riding adventure is at risk of being shut off to mountain bikers. Formerly known as the Spruce Lake Protected Area, the South Chilcotins was given provincial park status by the provincial government in 2010. The outdoor lover in me applauds the goal of protecting this beautiful area but the mountain biking side is dismayed that the draft plan to manage the park is pointedly focusing attention on restricting mountain biking activity. If you've experienced Chilcotin singletrack or pine for the day you can flow the trails like Shandro did in The Collective then read on and have your say.

Warner Lake, South Chilcotins

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Race Training: Hurts so Good

Next Sunday will be my first race. It is a Super-D race a few hours north of Phoenix in Flagstaff, Arizona. The mountain bike race will have two un-timed climbs followed by two rounds of 3.7 mile timed downhills. I have been tightening down on my training for the last few months now and I have to admit, it hurts, but there is no better feeling than improvement.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Frugal MTB Rider: Part 4 - Frugal Shopping

Saying that someone is frugal often carries a negative connotation of being a cheapskate. In the case of mountain biking, many think that being a frugal mountain bike rider means always riding around with a piece of junk bike that is always falling apart, that has inferior components, and that is always old and worn out. This is so very far from the truth!

Merriam-Webster defines “Frugal” as follows:
fru·gal, - adjective \'frü-gel\
: careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to
: using money or supplies in a very careful way
: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources

It is all about being careful of what you spend your money and resources on, being smart about it, and being picky.

One of the best places for buying and selling bikes and components, both new and used.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Get Good Gear For Cheap

As much as I love to hang bling bits off my bike, it comes at a high cost that most times I just can't justify. I feel that we often get caught up in upgraditis, most of the MTB media that we see are pushing a sexy new carbon piece of this or a shiny anodized hunk of that. Are these things needed to have fun on your bike? Absolutely not. We can have just as much fun on cheaper gear as we can on the new bits that are shoved in our faces everywhere we turn.

In this post I will share some of the methods I have used to find good, cheap gear that will let you shred and still afford to go for beers and nachos after the ride with your friends.

This bike I fully built with either used parts or parts that I received a great deal on using the methods in this post

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fruita Fat Tire Festivus

 Fruita is a singletack paradise in the lost lands of Colorado's Western slope. It rests up against the infamous Bookcliffs and is a geological stone's throw from the immense Grand Mesa to the East. Here in this High Desert Valley Fruita takes its name from the long growing season, cool, nights, and fertile Colorado River basin soils that make agriculture viable here. Indeed, within this valley is Colorado's Wine Country. Palisade, CO to the east of here marks the gateway to this Land of the Lost and is home to many wineries, a brewery, and a distillery. Oh.... and ripping singletrack. In fact, Fruita may have put this dusty little valley on the mountain biking map, but her neighbors to the East are rapidly becoming destinations in their own right. Grand Junction and Palisade are quietly throwing down incredible trails that rival the classics found in Fruita. The result is a trailbuilding arms race that, unlike the Cold War produces a situation where everybody wins.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

First Time Mountain Bike Racer - What's there to fear?

Today might be the day that changes life as a mountain biker forever. I'm not certain this is a good thing. Unfortunately as I write this 'today' has not yet happened so I can't tell you whether or not this anticipated watershed moment has actually shed any water. For all I know I could be ruined already. By the time our west coast readers wake up I will have finished, I hope, The 18th Annual Hare Racer at Heritage Park in Adrian Michigan. Read below the break to what runs through my mind in the days leading up to my first race.

One section of trail at Heritage Park from my ride last Monday. The race course wasn't marked yet so I can't say whether or not this will be included.

Friday, May 2, 2014

6 Bike Inspired Beers

Some people say the hops and barley in beer are good for you after you ride. Others argue not to put those calories you just burned off, right back on. Regardless, it's hard to argue that a cold beer after a hard ride or while you are wrenching on your bike doesn't taste amazing. So I've put together 6 bike inspired beers for this Friday.