Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Leader is a Race Bike & First Impressions on the Suntour Epicon RLD Fork

I present to you, ladies and germs, the bike I will be huffin' and puffin' with at the 2012 Sea Otter Classic. I've already had the opportunity to ride the newly dressed Leader a few times, twice with the new Suntour Epicon RLD Fork.

The bike is heavy - but reasonable - at 27.3lbs. With 16 speeds, it has enough granny to make it up steep climbs without wheelie'ing to your death, and it tracks as a good XC bike should. I've been riding the Leader for awhile so I'm used to what it is capable of - but what truly has changed this bike is the new fork.

I bought the Suntour Epicon RLD off eBay for a $238 bargain. After reading as many reviews as possible, I found that riders were very happy with it for XC - the features and adjustability are everything you'd want on a good fork. Air, rebound and remote lockout makes this fork run alongside quality forks such as the Rock Shox SID Race that cost twice as much.

On the trail, the fork tracked very well and did not pogo whatsoever. I was impressed how quiet it was, and on the rocky descends, it sopped up the bumps and softball sized rocks just beautifully. The true test of the fork was the Rocky Ridge descend and it was easy to go fast down that trail with complete confidence.

I somehow managed to nail the air and rebound, and I had full travel on the worst of it.

Out of the seat climbing without the lockout didn't feel like I was bouncing around and when I did lock out the fork, it did not give as much as my SID Race fork did. Horizontal flex was unnoticeable.

All in all, I think I actually like this fork much better than my SID Race.

I'm curious to see how the Epicon RLD fares in the long run, but for $238, one really can't complain. I will update my review after 3 months of use and I expect it to work just as well then as it does now.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Eddie Fiola & Martin Aparijo Freestyle Show 40 Years of BMX Long Beach 2010

We live among legends! What a great time to be riding.

Ride Report - 4130 Subway Series; San Jose, Ca.

Before I go into the friggin' AWESOME day of riding, I want... no... need... to take some time out for a little social commentary. Sorry for my ramblings, but this has been something that has bothering me, and I feel I need express it in the rare chance that you stumble upon my humble blog. But don't worry - I'll bring it back around to my ride report and try to tie it up with a little pink bow as well as I can.

In the cycling world, in all aspects, there is a lot of despise being passed around. Call it "hate", "flaming", "trolling" or "flame baiting"... but it's the wretched act of airing your grievances in a ranting manner against others for how they behave, how they dress, how they act and what they ride. Absolutely, 100%, there are douchebags in the world of bikes - on all levels. And these people need to be shunned and exposed. But, for irrational generalizations against "kitted up roadie snobs" or "hipsters on fixies" or "grown men on little kids bikes"... I feel there needs to be an understanding among riders.

We're on bikes.

We share a passion for two wheels.

We are not the enemies of each other.

Your social behavior, as arrogant or rude as it may seem to me, is benign - as long as you don't endanger others.

When I decided to take on the 4130 Subway Series for San Jose, I was a little nervous. The "old man" in me struggles with the young BMX bucks of today - but after some soul searching, I had to put my biases aside and see them for what they are - riders with a lot of energy who are good at what they do. I was like that once - so let's let these young guys be who they are and appreciate their passion for BMX.

Regarding the O.G.'s - I anticipated they'd pull up on their vintage and retro builds, hanger queen bikes that look real good. And then there's the other O.G.'s still committed to the ride-and-huck... just as well as the young guys.

What arrived at 3:00PM on Saturday the 18th was a mix of young and old(er), hanger queens and beaters, knobbies and fat slicks - wheel sizes ranging from 20" to 29" - and EVERYBODY was very cool. I, not only got to witness some incredible riding, but heard some insanely good freestyle rap - right there on the street like it has been done for generations, by young men, keeping a tradition of street culture that goes back nearly 40 years, if not longer.

The vibe was positivity - no hate, no judging, no scorn. For having a group of nearly 100 men, there were no fights or arguments. It was what bikes should be about - a tribal sense of one, resonating good feelings and encouragement to go big.

I even saw some collisions - but nobody cared. There was an unspoken understanding that it was by accident, and no feelings were hurt, just shins.

Other facets of the cycling community should learn from this. Put away your judgements and just appreciate the community. You don't have to like everybody, but perceived arrogant behavior is easy to digest when you ignore it and concentrate on the good part of riding. I had pre-judged a part of the BMX culture as being rude, crude, hostile and wild. Are they the problem, or am I? Now, I see... I was the problem, not them. They are great, just as they are - we need these wild ones for sport progression and to keep us grounded.

I'm over the hate, the arguing, the flame wars on internet forums, the negative rep system on MTBR, the name calling, the judging. We all ride - isn't that the most important thing of all? Stay safe and appreciate the community of one.

It seems the reprobates of the bicycle world can teach a thing or two to those who are so quick to judge. My ego has been put away - let the pre-judging die and let positivity reign over all.

Photos couresy of Trent Brocker.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Team Social Pace @ Sea Otter - It's Official

Well, a few of us in the rag-tag group of Team Social Pace is officially "in" the XC race for the Sea Otter taking place in Monterey, April 19th-22nd. So far, it is me (Cat3, 35-39 mens), Ken a.k.a. Froride1 (Cat3, Clydesdale), Brett a.k.a. Leopold Porkstacker (Cat2, 40-42), and Robert a.k.a. Nelson34 (Cat3, 43-45).

With hopes of selling more UGLY! Pads and selling off some extra parts I have, I've rebuilt and upgraded my XC bike to race trim. I will be sporting a red set of Sun Ringle Equalizer Wheels, a new Suntour Epicon 100mm Fork and a FSA Alpha Double 36/24 Crankset. My bike will be relatively heavy for a XC bike (I predict 26.5lbs), but for me, on a budget, that's what I will have to live with.

I'm still sticking with an 8 sp. in back, since it's what I have and really not in the position to be upgrading my drive train at the moment.

This will be my first MTB race, so it will be interesting to see how hard this will be in comparison to cyclocross racing.

Monday, February 6, 2012

3rd Annual Mt. Hamilton Superbowl Ride

For the third time in a row, I've ventured off with the svelte road jockeys to climb this monster. The first time was on my Surly Pacer, the second time was on a slicked MTB, and yesterday was on my Surly Pacer again. I, personally, was a little slow yesterday, but I made it in just over 4 hours.
Team Social Pace rode up together and it was a blast. Unfortunately, a few of our guys fell off the back, but we all made it eventually and arrived in time for some food and drink at the end. Yesterday I realized how much my road game has suffered and that I really ought to train for this ride so I'm not so slow - I'm only making incremental improvements on this climb and I'd like to get up there with the quicker group next year. Time to HTFU!