I’ll be liveblogging as Travis Ott describes the bikes we’ll be riding today. I will also try to get pictures of me with as many important and handsome bike celebrities as possible.
But first, breakfast.
The liveblog starts at 9:00am-ish (Mountain Time, naturally, since I’m on a mountain). Come back then and start refreshing the heck out of this page.
‘Til then, I recommend reading the following recent posts, as refresher material:
Liveblog starts soon!
9:04 I am surrounded by very much bike porn.
JHK, Travis Brown, and Gary Fisher are all sitting to my right. It occurs to me, I am the only person here who is not being paid. Also, it occurs to me that I am the only person who does not deserve to be paid.
9:08: Gary has taken the stage and is talking about the history of 29″ wheeled bikes.
I’m pretty sure he’s talking about technical stuff. My mind wanders.
9:13: Gary’s talking about how in 1999 he’d ride the first prototype 29er one day, then a regular 26″ bike the next.
That’s Zapata Espinoza on the slide. I used to idolize that guy. Anyone know where he is now?
9:17: Gary’s (we’re on a first name basis after all) talking about geometry issues they had at first, as well as the difficulty in getting a fork that would work with such a large wheel. Back then, a lot of the prototypes were outsourced. Now, says Gary, “Only Shimano has a larger R&D Dept than we do.”
9:19: Gary’s acknowledging that Gary Fisher wasn’t the first 29er out there. I notice that Gary has skinny legs.
9:24: Dirt Rag is to my left. Bike is to my right. Neither of them has written more than two sentences since I’ve been here. In their defense, there hasn’t been a lot of news so far. This has all been “our story so far…” stuff.
9:27: NEWS FLASH: GARY FISHER ANNOUNCES THAT 29″-WHEELED BIKES ARE PRONE TO EXPLODING:
Oh, OK. I know. But still, it’s a funny headline for a slide.
9:31 JHK and Heather take the stage.
Alas, James Huang’s (of CyclingNews) head dominates the photo.
9:32: JHK (personal friend of mine) talks about how his first 29″ bike was a Rig. As the bikes became more refined, he slowly transitioned from sometimes riding 29″ to where he is now: “I honestly believe there is no course on which a 26″ bike is faster.” A bold statement, and one with which I happen to agree.
9:36: Heather talks a bit about how at first she didn’t like the 29″ bikes, Felt like she was “on top of a gigantic machine.”
Then she built up a Medium. At 5′4″ she’s totally comfortable on it and says she “no longer knows where [her] 26″ bike is.”
9:41: I’m pretty sure I’m the only one liveblogging this, which means FatCyclist.com is where you can go to get the news first.
Also, this makes me think: If you’ve got questions for me to ask during the Q&A part of this thing, post them in the comments.
9:45: And now, at long last, we arrive at the present. 2009 v. 2010.
Travis Brown says this is the most refined 29″ bike line ever. He’s been racing these things. Gary jumps in and reminds us that we’re now 10 years into 29″ bikes. These are no longer just a bleeding edge technology. They’re mature now, says the man in matching shirt and cycling cap with Elvis sunglasses.
9:50: Here’s the lineup:
Rumblefish is for “enhancing rider confidence,” fun trail riding. Superfly is for “getting from point A to B as fast as possible.”
9:54: Biggest change is the decreased wheelbase:
Annnd and “Active Braking Pivot.” It’s too bad I can’t talk to the guys sitting on either side of me, because they’d probably understand what the heck that means.
Suspension tweaked, integrated bottom bracket, E2 top tube. Wubba wubba wubba.
10:00 Oh this is cool: new size! XXL debuts.
10:05: And now we start on the Superfly 100 — the bike I think most people are going to be most interested in. JHK says he went into trying this bike without an open mind. He’s “been a hardcore hardtail advocate my whole career.”
He says that now he believes this bike is as efficient as the Superfly hardtail in the climbs, and descends “bonkers.”
10:05: OCLV carbon, G2 geometry, E2 headtube, and the very very important active braking pivot, which I still do not understand. Frame, shock, hardware come in at 2100 grams.
The HiFi is the aluminum version of the same bike. Also, they claim that it will be 20% less sexy. Wow, that’s harsh. Don’t remove sexiness, guys. The world needs more sexiness, not less.
10:10: They’re drilling down on this chart:
I have no idea what it means.
10:12: And now for the Rumblefish — the 29″ trail bike, and the “girls (and boys) just wanna have fun” bike in the lineup.
Suspension design (DRCV for Dual Rate Control Valve I think) is “two stage air spring with small bump sensitivity of a single air canister with big hit control available through second air canister.” Sounds like they’re trying to tell me something, but I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps, “The suspension works more when you hit bigger stuff?”
10:16: Travis Brown is back. May I just say that Travis, besides obviously knowing his stuff and being one of the strongest riders around, is very cool, as evidenced by his Twin Six t-shirt?
Note: Including mine, I believe this makes 3 Twin Six t-shirts in evidence today.
10:20: And now, the Superfly SS. YAAAY. Really, the only thing they’re talking about is the pivoting dropout:
Nice thing with that dropout is that there should be considerably less chatter and squeal under hard braking.
10:24: Looks like there won’t be a Q&A session, but I’ll do what I can to grab some people and answer some of the questions you posted. I pulled Travis Brown aside and asked him some things from your questions:
- XXL Sizing: If you’re 6′3″ or above you might want to take a look at this size. Travis says his test rider was 6′6″.
- “Shorter wheelbase equals twitchier ride:” Travis Brown says that’s a reductionist view of the geometry. You need to look at the full recipe of the bike: the front-center (bb to front axle), effective chainstay, trail figure, and other subtleties they’ve factored in. You won’t feel like this bike is twitchy.
So I’m here in Park City, just minding my own business — talking with Travis Brown and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski. Yeah, really. I was. They were asking for riding advice and stuff, because when you are top-level pro / MTB hall-of-famers, of course the guy you’re going to go to for advice is a (beloved) cycling blogger.
And then in wanders Gary Fisher. I stick out my hand, cordially. And that’s when he grabs my hand, whips it around behind me and secures me, helpless, in a skull-crushing headlock.
And proceeds to give me a noogie.
I think it was the Bike Snob NYC Seal of Disapproval t-shirt that did it.
PS: After seeing this picture, is there anyone who is not thinking, “Gary Fisher and Hulk Hogan: Separated at Birth?”
PPS: Tomorrow (Friday) we get lectured at, and then we ride. If the lecture is interesting, I will liveblog it. If it is not interesting, I will meta-liveblog it. Unless there is no wifi, in which case I will probably take a well-deserved nap.
PPPS: I think that riding with Travis and Jeremy tomorrow is going to put my sense of being a strong cyclist into perspective. Big time.
I planned to do a short ride. On the flats. After all, yesterday I did around 5000 feet of climbing. Tomorrow I will do around 3000.
So it was clearly a good idea to do a nice short spin, focusing on high cadence and low torque.
But it was so hot outside. And one thing every cyclist who lives near mountains knows is: you can climb out of the heat. Seriously, it’s always ten or fifteen degrees cooler in the canyon, and maybe even cooler as you get toward the summit.
So when I had to decide — turn right and head toward the flats in the valley, or turn left and head to the canyon — I turned left.
Which meant I would not be doing an easy spin.
By the time I got to the mouth of the canyon, I could tell something: my legs felt good. Unusually good. Like they wanted me to see what they had.
I stepped it up. Still felt great. Went to a higher gear. Wanted more.
By the time I got to the toll booth, I was in my big ring, about three cogs down the cassette. That is not a common gear selection for this ride.
But for whatever reason, that’s where I wanted to be.
This Pain Is Mine
I generally climb the Alpine Loop in the second and third gear, shifting up to third and fourth when I’m standing. Today, though, I rode in fifth and sixth. At a cadence that seemed higher than normal.
It hurt. It hurt gloriously.
I think other cyclists who love climbing will agree: There is nothing quite so exquisite as pain you have elected to suffer, and manage to keep right below the threshold that breaks you. You are controlling chaos. You are mastering your body. You have the time trialist’s smile: a weird grin with teeth exposed and clenched.
Mostly, this is a combination of reacting to pain and wanting to get as much air as possible. But sometimes there’s a little bit of smile in there too.
You are pushing every single thought — except one — out of your head.
And that one thought is an important one: Can I push harder and still not snap? If the answer is “yes,” then you push harder.
It’s surprising, really, how often the answer is “yes.” More often than you think.
When the answer is “no,” however, the sense of gratification is immense. Unless — and until — the answer becomes, “no, and you can’t hold this pace for long either.” Then you have to evaluate. Is that your inherent overcaution? Or are you really about to pop?
Today, I was certain, once, that I had hit that point. I had popped. I slowed drastically, the sense of disappointment settling in.
But then I stood up, and I went again. And I had it in me.
“Today,” I thought, “I am turning in the ride of a lifetime.”
And you know what? It’s entirely possible that I did. Right now I weigh 156 pounds. Much lighter than this and my power starts dropping off pretty fast. I’ve been riding a lot this last few weeks. So I may, right now, be the strongest cyclist I have ever been.
But I have no idea whether I was actually the fastest I have ever been on this climb. I had no electronics with me (other than the electronics that shift my gears, I mean). So maybe I just turned in a 57-minute Alpine Loop summit. Or maybe I just turned in a 1:02. Either is possible, and neither matters very much to me.
What matters is how I felt. And I felt very fast indeed.
When I reached the summit, I pulled into the parking lot and rode around the perimeter for a couple minutes in slow circles. Happy. Proud. Throat very raw.
I pulled a bottle out of a cage to take a drink and realized: I had been so focused that I had taken only one tug the entire climb. I made up for lost time (and fluid) and began the descent.
Usually, I attack the downhill of the Alpine Loop pretty hard. It’s so fun. But today, I just coasted, conservatively. I just didn’t have anything — energy nor intensity — left in me. I felt well and truly exhausted. Spent. Empty.
It’s a good feeling.
Tomorrow I will be heading up to Park City for the 2010 Fisher 29er Ride Camp, which, if I understand correctly, will be an opportunity for select, very important (and handsome) members of the cycling press to try out the latest Gary Fisher mountain bikes.
Which forces the question: has anyone from Gary Fisher ever actually read my blog?
I’m the opposite of cycling press. I’m completely subjective. I don’t even try to tell both sides of any given story. I make news up, and I twist the truth to suit my own ends.
Oh, waitasec. I guess I’m regular cycling press after all.
However, one way I am demonstrably different from the rest of the (illustrious and very handsome) cycling press is this: I am already in the tank for Gary Fisher.
Even before being wined and dined.
See, here’s the thing. Even without going out and riding in Park City and being told about all the neat features and increased horizontal stiffness and vertical compliance (neither of which, I might add, I can ever really feel, since the amount of air you have in your tires, what you ate for lunch, and whether you need to pee together affect ride quality much more significantly than the frame stiffness), I am willing to make a bold proclamation:
The Superfly Singlespeed (aka the SingleFly) is my favorite bike. Ever.
No caveats. No categories. It’s simply the bike I would rather ride than any bike I currently own or have ever owned.
Just look at the thing:
It’s a very sexy bike. The kind you don’t bring home to mother. Of course, a big part of the sexiness of this bike is the way I built it up: light and strong (and, frankly, expensive). Noir cranks.
Stans ZTR rims and Chris King hubs. Avid Juicy Ultimate brakes.
Salsa Pro Moto bar.
Arundel bottle cages. Never underestimate the wonderfulness of a good set of cages, and I think Arundels are the best. They have never ever ever lost a single bottle on me, but I don’t have to fight the cage to get bottles out. Magic.
I could have built it lighter, but I really don’t think I could have built it better. At 18.5 pounds, I think I’ve hit the sweet spot between lightness and ride-it-without-worrying-about-it durability.
Hey, the thing shot off an embankment with me at 35mph, ragdolled down a boulder field, and the only things that had to be replaced were the saddle and the grips.
Of course, that’s all just parts, and parts can be debated.
What can’t be debated, though, is how much I love the way this bike rides. On it, I have become a stronger climber.
I have become a faster, more confident descender.
And on this bike, I am just happy.
And besides, I kind of love the fact that hardly anyone in the world has one of these bikes, what with it not ever having been made available to the public.
I guess I should say that this bike was never made available to the public . . . until now.
Yeah, that’s right. For 2010 you can get my favorite bike. The only important difference is the new pivoting dropout, making it so you can use quick-release skewers in the back, as well as different-sized cogs without changing the number of chain links.
Since I badgered Travis Ott pretty much constantly, telling him that I demanded they make this bike available to the public, I feel like I should now be allowed to take credit for the fact that they have.
So. When I go riding in Park City with the (important, handsome) cycling press later this week, I will probably ride anything but their Superfly Singlespeed. I think my opinion is already pretty well-formed on this bike.
Oh, and also I will give Gary Fisher a giant man-hug, and possibly a manly kiss on the cheek. And by “cheek,” I of course mean the cheek on his face, since I have just now already kissed his other kind of cheek.
I will have my camera ready.
A Note from Fatty: My friends Kenny and Brad raced the inaugural Park City Point 2 Point last Saturday as members of Team Fatty. They, um, well dominated the single speed division. Brad’s report is here (and well worth reading). Here’s Kenny’s report.
When I first started endurance racing there was always a good deal of travel involved. Races like the Leadville Trail 100, the Brian Head Epic and The Cascade Cream Puff, got me hooked on endurance mountain bike racing.
As these types of races became more popular, it became easier to stay closer to home. There was the e-100, the Perfect 10, and now the Park City Point 2 Point. I try to support local races when I can and it’s nice to be able to sleep in your own bed the night before. The PCP2P has taken all the good things from past Park City endurance races and has put together what I think is Utah’s premier endurance mountain bike event. Jay Burke and Shannon Buffeli have worked hard to put together a terrific race in a pristine mountain bike community.
My buddy Brad and I have known each other for 8 to 10 years.
We’ve done countless races together and always finish close to one another. Sometimes he wins, sometimes I win. And when neither one of us wins, we always know which of us finished ahead of the other. We never really talk about it, but there is always an underlying competition and I know it’s discussed between our Core group of friends.
My number one race goal was to win the single speed division, which would also mean beating Brad. I know that Brad had similar aspirations, because he predicted it on his blog. After that, I wanted to be in the top 10 overall finishers and get the sub 8 hour medallion.
Brad and I lined up together about 25 places from the front waiting for Jay to yell go thru his megaphone.
As I always do at the starting line, I was running a check list thru my mind. Gels, tube, water, carbo rocket, tools, pump….
Oh crap, I had forgotten my pump.
I looked back to where the car was parked, wondering if I had time to go grab it. Just then Jay said “Are you ready for the inaugural Park City Point to Point? 20 seconds” it looked like I was going to have to do the first 35 miles without a bike pump. What seemed like 5 minutes later, he yelled “Go!” and we took off.
My race strategy has always been as follows: I shut my brain off and pedal has hard as I can. I don’t wear a watch or heart monitor. My brain can’t process any of that information. I just ride hard until my body decides the pace.
This time, there was only a short shakeout before we hit the singletrack.
I was able to move up a few spots, but because of the nature of the trail, I was unable to pass, which meant I was not riding at the pace that my body was telling me to go. I was getting a bit frustrated, especially when we would hit a steep hill and everyone in front of me would shift into their granny gear. I was able to move up a few more spots and caught a group of riders that were riding about the pace that I wanted to ride.
Then it hit me, all of a sudden: This is an awesome trail. I’m going to be riding 75 miles of some of the best mountain bike trails anywhere. So, I should just chill and turn my brain back on, just enough, to enjoy the experience.
I started to look around. Park City is a beautiful place for a race. There were dark clouds with blue skies poking through, and just a sprinkle of rain to keep me cool.
I looked back to see if I could see Brad. I couldn’t see him, but what I did see was the most incredible rainbow ever. I think it was actually three rainbows stacked on top of one another.
I was able to keep this frame of mind through most of the race. My legs felt great. I was enjoying the climbs. I was loving the descents. I was in a great mood. I even started doing something I rarely do during a race. I started talking to the people I was racing with. I was caught by a guy on a single speed and introduced myself. His name was Mike from Midway and he was wearing a tuxedo for a jersey.
This didn’t seem all that strange to me, because most of the guys I ride with all ride single speeds and have a great sense of humor. So, in my mind, single speed equals humor.
I rode with Mike for hours. I could tell he chose a really tall gear for this race. When the hills were long and steep he would get off and push. I’d get ahead a bit and then he’d catch back up on the flats. This happened over and over. He kept saying that his legs were cooked, but every time I looked back, there was that tuxedo jersey like a slap in the face. Not so funny anymore.
At mile 55, Mike and I left the Park city resort feed zone at the same time. My wife, who graciously agreed to spend her day supporting me, had let me know that Brad had been only minutes back at every aid station.
I knew the last 20 miles would start with a long sustained climb up the Spiro trail followed by lots of rolling flats along Mid Mountain with a descent into the Canyons ski resort. I knew that Mike, with his harder gear, would have a tougher time keeping up on the climb. I needed to put enough distance on the climb that he wouldn’t be able to catch up again before I descended to the finish. I also knew that Brad would be close behind.
It was now or never.
I shut my brain off again and started to hammer. Mike and I climbed together for a while. I could tell that he was getting off to push his bike more than I was on the steeper sections, so I tried to stay on the bike as much as possible. After what seemed like endless switchbacks, I could no longer see that tuxedo bobbing in the distance.
As the trail leveled out, I realized that my legs felt fresh. It was as if my bike was designed for the trail I was riding. I could power the ups and coast thru the downs, keeping my momentum fast. I knew that only two things could stop me from meeting my goal; a crash or a mechanical.
I was riding out of my head and pushing the envelope. I was trying to ride smart, but I knew I had to keep my speed up. On some rough sections of Mid-mountain trail, I hit some sharp boulders that I thought should have bent my rims or at the very least ripped out the side walls of my tires. On one hard bump, I felt my ti rail break under my saddle.
It made it awkward to sit and sometimes pinched the back of my thigh when I was descending, but I could tell it wasn’t going to be a deal breaker.
Before I knew it I was on a trail descending down to the Canyons ski resort. I could hear the music playing and I could smell the burgers cooking at the finish. I had given it everything I had and all I had to do was coast down to the finish.
I came up to a fork in the trail with a couple of volunteers standing near. One way led down towards the finish and the other turned upwards to an unknown climb. It’s amazing the change of emotion that hit me when they pointed to the direction that I was supposed to go.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
I really thought they were just playing a joke. I was waiting for them to say, “Just kidding. Go that way, the finish is just minutes away.” But, they didn’t and I kept going, limping along, swearing under my breath.
After fifteen minutes of pure hell, I was on that down hill trail and I knew my race was coming to an end. I had held off Mike and Brad as I coasted on to the pavement and across the finish line. I was done.
I had ridden 75 miles and climbed over 14,000 feet, all on the best trails Park City has to offer. My finish time was 8:13 and I was 14th overall, once you subtract the duo teams.
I took first in Single Speed, Brad took third. Team Fatty owned the day.
If anybody asks me, “What trails did you ride at the Park City Point 2 Point?” my response will be, “all of them”.
As for Elden’s dilemma about getting some color on his pasty white shins, I have my own solution… dirt.
PS: Thanks again to Jay and Shannon for putting on a terrific race. It will be on my calendar for years to come.
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