Winter, it’s been real
But I’m off to San Diego
I need me some sun
Winter, it’s been real
But I’m off to San Diego
I need me some sun
Last year I started a relationship with Rudy Project. They make awesome sunglasses and helmets for cyclists, triathletes, runners, cross country skiers, and other athletes. Working with Rudy Project is a great fit for me, since I’ve been using Rudy Project helmets since 2007 and the Sterling has been my all-time favorite helmet for racing and training. This year, I’m happy to partner more closely with this awesome brand.
To celebrate this relationship (okay, and the release of the new 2017 Racemaster helmet) Rudy is giving away 5 matte black Racemaster helmets packaged with 5 matte black Fotonyk sunglasses. ($500 MSRP value) Here’s a picture of the stealthy new lid. It’s so light I had to make sure it was still on my head. 😉
I love the Rudy Project Sterling helmet. I tried the Windmax helmet this year and might like that one even more. HOWEVER, Rudy has really knocked it out of the park with this new helmet. At first glance, it looks very similar to those other two, but it’s definitely not. It has an beautifully sleek profile. It’s incredibly light. It has has a whole new retention system (and as you can see in the photo) an incredibly sleek strap system. It fits like a glove, looks great, has plenty of ventilation, and basically disappears on your head.
Q: What more could you want???
A: Incredible new eyewear dock.
Well, it has that too! (See pic below) The design on the dock is impressive. The glasses just turn into part of the helmet. Internal rubber guides keep the glasses from touching your head and still allow ventilation. The fit is snug enough that there is NO WAY those glasses are coming out in a mountain bike race.
I love good design.
So, after all of my ranting… if you want a chance to score a free Racemaster helmet of your own (and a pair of Fotonyk Glasses!) then just enter the contest….
That simple! The deadline for contest entry is midnight Feb 28th. There are also 10 second place prizes of Rudy Project trucker hats! GOOD LUCK!!!
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 !
It sure has been a WHILE since my last blog post. I can’t say that it’s been uneventful. Or that I didn’t have anything to write about. As you may have noticed from my Social Media feeds, quite the opposite is true really. I was crazy busy. Blogging slipped away, and for that I apologize.
Training to be a “high performance” endurance athlete is, well… hard. For me, getting in fighting shape is hard enough that once something else (anything else, basically) hits, it’s hard enough to stay the course and complete the training let alone nutrition, rest, equipment upkeep, travel, etc required to do your job properly. And during the 2016 season I had a lot on my plate.
Last winter, we decided to remodel our north end cottage. It was the kind of remodel where you wonder why you didn’t just knock the house down and start from scratch. The kind where you completely refinance (yikes!), build a new building next to your existing house, add a porch, pour patios, build a rental apartment, etc, etc. You get the drift. It was a six-month ordeal that hit right during race season. In fact, the project wrapped up in August. Just in time for the triathlon season to wind down. -Ha!
There was a lot on my plate in addition to training. Physically and mentally. I used to think I was invincible when I worked a bazillion hour work week and still raced at the top end of the amateur triathlon ranks. But as a professional I’ve realized that the faster I want (need) to go, the harder the training. For me, that doesn’t allow room for much else. And if I take on a new project, something else has got to give. During the 2016 season, it was web presence (among other things). I had to streamline to a nearly Instagram-only engagement format.
Well that was handy, since I managed to not completely embarrass myself on the race course, and even step on the podium a few times. Instagram is great to keep connected, but it isn’t quite rewarding to me creatively. I have a desire to create art. I don’t desire to be prolific, I just like to produce things I can be proud of. Pots, sculptures, songs, videos, designs, etc. In college, I studied chemistry and mathematics, but as electives I studied music, sculpture, guitar, as well as film & video production. These remained important creative outlets, but I just didn’t know how to really make them jive with my athletic career.
In this age of engagement, I see video (herein referred to as “film”) as a creative medium and to highlight my supporters. That’s the way endurance sports marketing is evolving. It’s time for some more entertaining and interesting content that takes people places and maybe even inspires. So for now, I’ll use filmmaking as a tool to convey those ideas and stories under my 10Ten brand umbrella.
I plan to use my own experiences as a starting point. But my ultimate desire would be capture and convey adventures of others. I have ideas on how to do this, that would be unique and perhaps unexpected in the endurance sports space. Of course, I’ll let it evolve organically as I do with just about everything in my life… but I have ideas about how to eventually bring a fresh perspective to the endurance sports experience. And I can’t wait to bring those ideas to life.
For now, I’m in the early stages of (re)learning the nuts and bolts since a lot has changed in the last 17 years. It’s been a rewarding learning experience so far, and I expect that to continue. I’ve become so re-invigorated that I wake up at night with ideas. I’m also brimming with new questions. That’s a passion and creativity that’s been dormant for some time. And until I get a pottery wheel and kiln, you’ll have to deal with my freshman year of filmmaking.
For now, heres a teaser from my winter cross-training montage coming soon:
I’ll have a lot of announcements to make in the coming weeks. My 2017 racing schedule, partnership announcements, product highlights, and sponsor contests! Thanks for sticking around, it’s going to be an amazing year!
Cover: Scott Conover Photography 2016
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:
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…
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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.
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”.
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.)
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.
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!