Champion System

I’m proud announce that 2017 will be my third year partnering with Champion System as my official apparel sponsor.  I’ve been racing in Champion System custom technical apparel for years before I was sponsored, and it’s clear to me that it’s a great fit. (Pun intended)

The CS design lab makes kit design accessible for non-design oriented athletes.  The quick proof turn-around and streamlined order workflow takes the frustration out of the ordering process.  And the option to create a team store full of hundreds of custom branded goodies is AMAZING.

For the athlete, a uniform serves several purposes.  First, it needs to work well to help you perform at your best.  Second, it must look great.  Whether your uniform showcases your sponsors or just your personality, either way it has to look the part.  For the past two years Champion System has exceeded my expectations in with regard to both.  Allowing me to achieve goals and share my journey with others while also conveying a bit of my personality and brand.  -Awesome.  Their products perform and they showcase my sponsors in exactly the way I intend.  So I’m excited to extend this partnership and I’m very proud to be representing a company that is as committed to providing high quality technical apparel and customer service to the sports community.

Check out the exciting new 2017 Cycling Line at www.champ-sys.com !

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2016 Niner RkT9RDO “Ganter Edition”

When I decided in 2013 to get a bit more serious about off-road racing and Xterra Triathlon, I knew one important thing: I didn’t know enough about mountain bikes.  And this is an issue if you happen to be a pro triathlete that wants to make a switch and be competitive.  Yes, it’s mostly about fitness… but a bit more so than in road triathlon, off-road equipment (and race-day setup) can offer not just marginal gains but significant gains.

Luckily, I quickly found a resource in Bauerhaus Bikes, Boise.  When I dropped by the shop, I realized pretty quickly that I was talking to people that could very easily be doing something else for a living, but were passionate about cycling and had knowledge that permeated every aspect of the sport in great depth.  “Oh, that’s neat I’ve never seen (insert just about anything here) before.  Well, that’s because it doesn’t exist.”  “We’ve just worked with someone to make it.” Whaaaa?

Those be my kinda peeps.  So, more and more I’ve been lucky enough to work with the amazing group of folks at Bauerhaus is just that.  A fit studio.  However, it’s also a pro-shop for anyone with particular tastes, or wanting a bit more (or a lot) of customization. It’s basically a candy-store for bike geeks that have PhD’s and wear skate shoes and like DIY projects.  They, and the brands they represent are playing a significant role in my education and evolution as a racer and person.  I’ve been fortunate to have their guidance and advice on equipment selection and set up.  It helps that they only purvey the best, most reliable equipment for training and racing.  They have me set up  to roll on the speedy products of Niner Bikes, Rolf Prima Wheel Systems, Maxxis Tires (Tyres), Shimano/PRO Components, Rockshox.

With that, before I get her all dirtied up….  I thought I’d introduce you to my 2016 racing setup, the Niner Bikes RKT 9 RDO:

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2016 Niner RKT 9 RDO

This is a size Large frame.  I’m only 6’0″, which should technically have me on a Medium.  But when Michael Tobin at Bauerhaus fit me on my first Niner, we found that it was most optimal for me to be on a size Large.  Probably due to my high “ape index”. Related side note here: there are some dropper-post options on the market for XC racers nowadays.  But due to my gangly build, I can get my butt on the rear tire in technical situations, so no dropper needed for me, at least for now…

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RkT9 RDO (Race Day Optimized) Size Large, in “Green and Greener”

Now, I’ve noticed that the more “guy’s guys” riding for Niner have all chosen to run the Black & Red color scheme.  But, I’ve gone the “Green and Greener” route.  I’ve never been a “guy’s guy”.  Anyway… I also like being myself, different, and besides it “pops” better in race photos.  And it’s all about representing the companies that support me.  If I could, I’d paint the whole thing neon, ala Sven Nys. Regardless of your color preference, it’s a dead sexy machine.

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1×11 XTR drivetrain, Niner CVA Linkage (Continuously Variable Arch)

And for as “dead sexy” as it looks, it rides that way.  The bike is just as confident than I am in technical terrain, or even more so.  My mechanic suggested we go with XTR 1×11 drivetrain, mainly for it’s reliability.  There used to be a trade-off since the cassette “only” spans from 11-40.  But I’m a fairly large MTB racer (read: ok power) and with 30T-36T sprockets to choose from, this wasn’t a significant issue that warranted compromise in reliability.  Also, (but not pictured) I use a Stages Power meter on an XTR left crank arm.  It’s currently on my hard tail since I raced it last weekend.

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Shimano XTR 1×11 Rear Drivetrain 11-40T Cassette, Maxxis IKON 29×2.20 Rear Tire

A good friend of mine, Eric Lagerstrom turned me on to Rolf Prima Wheelsystems at training camp in Poway, CA.  I had ridden a pair of Rolf Vigors back in the early 2000’s and they were sweet.  This year, I was lucky enough to start a new partnership with them and they really have delivered the goods.  The new Alsea Carbon racing wheel set is fantastic.  The paired-spoke lacing system provides significant rigidity that takes a 29er wheel to 26er stiffness and handling.  The lower/paired spoke count decreases the “sail” effect I get from 29″ wheels while flying over waterbars in high cross-wind situations.  So it’s nice not to lose your bike from under you whilst airborne.

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Rockshox RS-1 Suspension Fork, Rolf Prima Alsea Wheel Set (F & R)

I think that the most noticeable (and important) difference between the Alsea and other leading brand wheel sets (Yes, I’ve ridden them) is that the they “spool up” or accelerate noticeably quicker.  I assume this has something to do with equations containing pi, moments of inertia, and tangential forces. Regardless, if you are an XC racer this is just an important fact.  I’ll leave it at that. 😉

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EMaxxis Ardent Race 29×2.20 Tire, Tubeless, (Front)

Since I started a new partnership with Maxxis Tires this year, there was a learning curve in tire selection.  As I mentioned in my sponsorship announcement, I decided to try out the IKON, BEAVER, PACE and ARDENT RACE models.  Turns out that the IKON works VERY well in most conditions.  Especially in dry conditions with some loose spots.  However, I’ve found the most surprising tire to be the ARDENT RACE.  This tire looks at first to be similar to the Schwalbe Racing Ralph that was previously my go-to tire for most conditions.  But with the closely placed, ramped center knobs, this tire rolls a bit faster.  They both have similar cornering knobs, but the ARDENT RACE’s knobs keep biting harder at steep angle and inspire cornering confidence.  I just raced the IKON front and back with success in Bonelli, but the ARDENT corners better than the IKON on looser (think Boise in Summertime) trails, so I’ll probably be running this up front most of the time in Idaho.  I honestly don’t see a reason not to.

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Fast-Rolling, Hard Biting Tread Patter of the New Maxxis Ardent Race 29×2.20

When it comes to suspension, on previous bikes, I found that I could not stand opening and closing valves manually when my eyes were crossed from intensity in a race.  So, one thing I insisted on when building my RkT was to have simultaneous dual-lockout suspension.  I want it either fully open for locked.  Rarely do I see the need to lock the front and not the back, or vs versa.

We did this by swapping out the rear for a RockShox Monarch XX and then tied it in with the RS-1 Fork via the Full Sprint Dual-Lock Remote.  Oh man was that a good choice.  Yes, I know the FOX has some electronic dohicky, and locks out fully rigid, but I actually like that this setup.  It soaks up light chatter, even when locked.  But it doesn’t bob.  I’ve found it sprints up hills well and maintains traction when “locked”.

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XTR Brakes, RockShox Full-Sprint Dual Lock System, Shimano PRO Cockpit

And when it’s opened up… BRAAAP!  I feel like this suspension combination was made for the RkT.  It’s plush over serious terrain and the RS-1 fork just goes where you aim it.  (e.g. This video was shot on some deceivingly technical terrain.

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RockShox Monarch XX Suspension w/Full Sprint Remote Lockout

The keen eye may notice we’ve added some little goodies.  Xterra racing, although similar to XCT/XCO in duration and intensity… is self supported.  So that means I had to find smooth and lightweight support solutions.  I like the aftermarket EMT gear for this.  I put an EMT Chainbreaker top cap on the bars, with an 11 speed quick link in it, just in case I break a chain. (which has happened)  Also, that thing under my side-pull water bottle cage is an EMT multi-tool.  I actually also use it to build and break down my bike when I travel.  Pretty slick.  Not pictured is the dual CO2 holder I attach via the water bottle cage bolts.  It’s just a piece of aluminum that has threads in two directions to hold two standard CO2 cartridges.  From there I just strap a lightweight tube, tire lever, dollar bill and nozzle to the frame.  Typically inside that little triangle.  That keeps the bike’s center of gravity pretty low compared to a saddle bag.

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RDO = Race Day Optimized

By now, the weight weenies may be wondering “But Christopher, what does such a setup weigh?”.  Well, it comes in at 23.8 lbs. Nearly 2 pounds lighter than the Jet9 I raced last season.  However… just like with discussing Watts and Tire Pressure, I think people get a bit too caught up in absolute values.  I know there are lighter bikes out there.  Humans don’t like to hear this, but it’s relative.  To begin with, this is a size Large. So it’s a bigger bicycle.  More importantly, I weigh 162-167 lbs during the year.  So I’m on the higher side of the weight scale being a triathlete with an upper body.  SO, this is a light bike for my size and body weight.  Really, any weight that I lose in my trunkjunk is more important to me than compromising performance to get my full suspension rig below 23lbs.

By far the most important thing is that it does what I need it to do.  No more, no less. Honestly, I feel like if Niner would have asked me what I wanted in a racing bike, yeah, I would have included some built-in self-support solutions… but from a performance perspective: I would have come up with this bike. From aesthetics to high performance, it’s a rad machine all-around and I’m beyond stoked to be riding it in 2016.  I’m also really excited to represent such great brands on the UCI, ITU and XTERRA circuits.  Special thanks to Niner Bikes, Bauerhaus Bikes, Rolf Prima WheelSystems, Maxxis Tires for their support this year!

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I don’t mess around.  But when I do, I don’t mess around.  Damnit.

Maxxis!

New to my team this year, I’ll be racing exclusively on Maxxis Tires!  Racing from deserts of Las Vegas to the forests of England has taught me (the hard way) that the right tire selection can make the difference between being in the race and on the ground.  So, I’m really looking forward to traveling with an arsenal of tires to choose from in order to maximize my chances of staying upright in all conditions.

In addition to manufacturing Automotive and ATV tires, Maxxis offers a huge selection of bicycle tires for us to choose from.  (Twenty six at last I counted!) Needless to say, there is a Maxxis mountain bike tire suitable for any condition, any wheel size, any riding style!  -Including fat bikes!

Take a quick look at their Bike Technology Page to learn about sidewall & puncture protection, Tubeless Ready Systems, and tire construction.

This year I plan to try some new tread patterns, but below are a few of the staples I will race on for the majority of my MTB and XTERRA racing.  These models and more can be found at George’s Cycles/G-Fit Studio in Boise.

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PACE

Pace

“A high-volume, low-profile tread design offers minimal rolling resistance and consistent traction across the profile of the tire.Continuous side knobs keep you planted where traction is critical, and the single compound balances traction and tread wear.”

Ikon

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IKON

“The Ikon is for true racers looking for a true lightweight race tire. With 3C Triple Compound Technology, high-volume casing and a fast rolling tread design, the Ikon provides exemplary performance in all riding conditions. As its name suggests, the Ikon represents all that is true in racing.”

Beaver

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Beaver

“Specially designed for racing in adverse conditions, the Beaver features a tread design ideal for wet and muddy conditions.”

Ardent Race

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Ardent Race

“The Ardent Race tire from Maxxis is ideally suited for technical XC race courses and endurance-length events. With its medium-height tread, the Ardent Race bridges the gap between the XC-oriented Ikon and the trail-oriented Ardent. The center knobs are ramped to reduce rolling resistance, and the side knobs are angled and stepped to provide great biting traction in corners. Choose the Ardent Race for your next demanding XC race or epic trail ride.”

ROLF PRIMA!

New for 2016, I’m proud to be joining the Rolf Prima Wheel Systems family! Rolf Prima has been hand building wheel sets in Eugene Oregon since 1997.  Rolf will be my title sponsor and has included me in their newly created Elite MTB/CX team for 2016! It’s no secret that the bike is the key to achievement in off-road triathlon.  So for that reason (and because I just LOVE bike racing) I’ll be racing mountain bike and cyclocross much more in 2016 than ever before.  In addition to developing my bike leg(s) for triathlon, it will allow me to showcase new mountain bike products on the national mountain bike circuit as well as in the triathlon space.

Most triathletes know Rolf Prima for their amazing road wheel sets including the Aeres and Vigor families of wheels and discs.  But, building on their signature paired-spoke and differential flange hub technologies, Rolf has launched exciting new mountain bike wheel sets!  Take a look and link to Rolf’s website below!

I’ll be racing on the no-compromises carbon fiber Alsea XC racing wheel set:

Alsea (I believe it’s pronounced Al-see, like the waterfall)

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For my off-road training and exploration, I plan to use the Ralos alloy wheel set:

Ralos: 

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I will also be training (and occasionally racing) on the time-tested Vigor alloy road wheel set.  It’s stiff, light and most importantly wind cheating.  The paired spoke design and intermediate profile cut through cross winds like butta.  This was my first set of wheels when I started in triathlon back in 2003.  I have a lot of fond memories flying through Buck’s County on the Vigor, so I’m excited to be on them again.

Vigor:

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