Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thoughts on 29er Gearing

Several of my fellow Fitzy teammates are considering racing a 29er this season and our team has some excellent options. In addition to frame options, the drive train is a major consideration. If I were building a 29er race bike today, I am not 100% sure what drivetrain I would choose so I decided to do a little math.

Before I geek-out to much, I have to come clean. I use my 22F/34R combo. There, I said it. I would like to think that I am getting stronger and could live with a 32 in the rear instead of the 34 but to this day I am clinging to the safety of my 34. And now that the sexy SRAM XX 2x10 speed is here, and other 2x9 drive trains are trying to compete, do they offer comparable gearing AND the advantage of crisp front shifting?

I plugged four current drivetrain options into the Sheldon Brown Gear Calculator and used my trusty 22F/34R combo as the baseline. Here is what I learned:

The numbers circled in red in the lower left corner represent gear inches in the "easiest" gear combo. The bigger the number, the harder the gear.

The 22F/34R combo is my baseline at 18.8 Gear Inches

The 22F/32R combo is 5.85% harder at 19.9 Gear Inches

The smallest front chainring you can get with SRAM XX is 26 and the largest available cog is a 36. The 26F/36R combo is 11.1% harder at 20.9 Gear Inches

The top-of-the-line Jamis 29er comes with a 2x9 drivetrain; FSA 27/42 crankset and a Shimano 12-36 cassette which results in a stout 15.95% increase over a traditional 22F/34R at 21.8 Gear Inches

The Felt Nine Team comes with traditional 22/32/44 in the front and an 11-34 in the rear

The Jamis Dakota D29 Team comes with a 2x9 drivetrain and is for fit riders who can push the 27F/36R up the steep hills

The Jamis Dakota D29 Pro offers a drivetrain with a larger-than-normal safety net; a 22/32/44 in the front and a 12-36 in the rear

The biggest eye opener of this exercise was the 11.1% difference of SRAM XX vs. my current gearing. When I am 9 hours into a 12 hour Cream Puff 100 race, could I really push a gear that is 11.1% harder? Some will argue that you will simply adapt, and therefore go faster, and that having the 22F/34R is a crutch. What do you think?

EDIT 3/31/2010: I am not building a new geared bike but I have been curious about the new SRAM XX. For now, I will stick with my 22/32/44 and my 11-34 in the back.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not done snow biking yet

Conditions at Togwotee weren't as good as the last Togwotee Winter Classic, but they didn't suck either.

It was surprisingly chilly on top of the big climb

The original plan was to do two laps on the 25-mile race course but we decided that pushing out snow bikes through slush didn't sound fun so we bagged the second lap idea. The snow was definitely getting soft as the sun got high but we were able to ride 98% of the loop.

Big Dave Saurman joined me for the adventure

Catching the trails early is definitely the key this time of year. I got up at 5:30am but really I should have gotten up two hours earlier to complete two laps. Doh!

The day warmed up quickly

It looks like some quality time on the pavement is on tap for tomorrow.

Friday, March 26, 2010


A little colder, or a little warmer would be better

I want to ride a bicycle both days this weekend (surprise) and I am having hard time planning my attack. Anything above 35F is a bit risky on the snow bike because the trails quickly get too soft to ride.

Option #1
Sat - Leave the house at 6am, drive to Togwotee, and ride the snow bike on their freshly groomed and hopefully frozen trails.
Sun - Ride the mtn bike around Teton Valley's backroads in slightly warmer temps

Option #2
Sat - Sleep in, throw cross tires and fenders on the mtn bike, and ride to Ashton and back (about 100 miles) while trying not to freeze.
Sun - Road ride in Grand Teton National Park

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Questions for Crank Brothers Pedals users

Do you think the Candy offers more support than the original Egg Beater? It "looks" like it would but I am curious to hear actual comparisons.

Have your Crank Brothers Pedals ever developed a "creak/tick" and if so, did the rebuild kit fix it?

Egg Beater


Thursday, March 18, 2010

I instantly gained two pounds!

After recently reading "Racing Weight" by Matt Fitzgerald I decided to buy a better scale to track my efforts to get skinnier in 2010. My plan backfired. Right out of the box, my new scale reads almost two pounds heavier than my old bathroom scale. WTF! I just started and I am already two pounds in the hole!

My new fancy-schmancy body composition scale

Now, I realize that as long as I use the same scale moving forward it is all relative but the mental blow has already been dealt. Not only does the new scale read "heavier" than my old scale, it puts me over my personal "you are too heavy" threshold of 170 lbs. And don't even get me started on the body fat % number it is showing me. Ugh.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Unexpected call from Kaltag, AK

I got an unexpected call from Kaltag, AK on Saturday...it was JayP and T-Race! It was great to hear their voices and get an update on their travels. They had just made a big push through the night to get to Kaltag and had to deal with -40F temps. Let that rotate in your mind a little bit. When JayP says it was “scary” I can only imagine the cold-induced anxiety out on the trail. To keep their extremities warm they had to run with their bikes for the last two hours into Kaltag. When I spoke to them they were at the school warming up, cooking some food from their drop bags, and preparing for the next push onto Unalakleet. The lead dog team had just rolled into Kaltag as well so the village was abuzz with excited from the biggest event of their year.

Overall they sounded good, upbeat, and deservedly tired. I consciously tried not to say anything about the 400 miles they still had to travel and simply expressed how proud I am of them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Contemplating Moab, Solo

24 Hours of Moab Solo Video

This just in, Moab will again be the site of our 24 Hour National Championships for 2010. This race really hadn't been on my radar but the thought of mixing it up with the best 24 Hour racers in the country fires me up. Preparing for AND racing Moab solo would mean sacrificing cyclocross season. Some serious contemplation has commenced...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

For Sale: 2008 Salsa La Cruz


This is not your basic economy build. I built this bike part by part to be the ultimate gravel grinding machine. The Campy Centaur 10s group shifts clean and the American Classic MTB Disc wheels are light and stiff. By running run 25c road tires (not included) on the pavement or the beefy 44c Mutano Raptors on gravel roads and singletrack you have a very versatile and seductively smooth riding rig.

Size: 53cm
Sizing Note: This frame features a semi-sloping top tube. Add 3cm to the listed size for equivalent traditional road bike frame. 53cm La Cruz = 56cm Traditional Road Frame

Frame: True Temper OX Platinum Steel
Rear Hub Spacing: 135mm
Front Hub Spacing: 100mm
Brakes: Disc Only
Wheels Size: 700c/29er

For sale as complete bike only and includes the following spec (pictured). Does NOT include pedals or bike stand. Frame and parts are in very good condition with some minor cable rub in a few spots.

2008 Salsa La Cruz 53cm frame & fork
American Classic MTB 29er Disc wheels
WTB Mutano Raptor Tires 44c
Chris King headset
Campagnolo Centaur Compact Crankset 34/50 & Bottom bracket
Campagnolo Record 10s Chain
Campagnolo Centaur 10s Shift/Brake Levers
Campagnolo Centaur 10s Rear Derailleur
Campagnolo Centaur Front Derailleur
Wheels Manufacturing Campy conversion cassette 11-25
Avid BB7 Disc brakes
Thomson Elite Setback seat post 27.2
Thomson X2 100mm stem
FSA Compact Alloy Road bar
Cinelli Cork Gel Bar Tape
Terry Fly Ti Saddle

US address and PayPal only please. Buyer pays actual shipping costs. Email me at dave dot byers at coolersoft.com if you have questions.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Gratifying Day

Saturday was the 2010 Togwotee Winter Classic, Race #2 and 15 racers started the event. My goal for this event all along has been to grow the sport of snow biking in the greater Jackson area so it brought a smile to my face to see so many folks in the Togwotee Lodge parking lot early Saturday morning. In 2008 we had 8 racers, then 8 again in 2009, and 7 racers for Race #1 in 2010. It was very gratifying to see the big jump for our final race in 2010.

The Big Climb comes early on the CD trail

Our friends Jay and Tracey have completed the "race" to McGrath and have begun their adventure to Nome together. Tracey set a new women's record for the 350-mile course this year and was profiled in an Alaska Dispatch article about the race. Jay took third in the deepest field the race has ever seen. Impressive stuff.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


In an effort to somehow push fast vibes to Alaska via my internet connection, I have been checking the Iditarod Trail Invitational Leaderboard non-stop since Sunday evening. Every year Mother Nature sends a cruel twist at the 50 or so racers who try to prepare for what history has shown them to be the biggest challenges of this race. Temps to -40F, biting wind, ground blizzards, and overflow would top my list. Warm temps would not be at the top of my list.

JayP and T-Race are doing awesome and there is a lot of racing left sports fans! The 40-mile section of trail from Finger Lake to Puntilla must be absolutely brutal this year. It took Pete Basinger 9.5 hours, Jeff Oatley 15.5 hours, and JayP 17 hours. My take? I would guess that Pete was able to ride marginal trail that Jeff and JayP were forced to push. Is this equipment, fitness, a Jedi mind trick, or all of the above? Or did Jeff and Jay stop and bivy in an effort to conserve energy for a big push later in the race?

The good news is that once they get over Rainy Pass, the temps will drop significantly which "could" mean a firm trail.

Mike and Michelle climbing towards the Packsaddle Corrals

Meanwhile, snow biking here in the Tetons is good! The days have been warming up a bit but if you catch the trails early they are firm and fast. I don't think winter is done with us yet...this warm spell is just a teaser.