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Heroes of the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic

Wrote a small piece about some awesome guys for the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic website (and almost forgot to post up here). If you haven’t read it already you can get to the post by clicking the picture below.

Joel and David TSE 2013


Guest Blogging for DirtRag

For a few weeks I’ll be guest blogging for DirtRag and Trans Sylvania Epic.

1st post is available by clicking this:

Please excuse my terrible grammar!

Cannondale Scalpel 29er TSE Axe Stan's NoTubes

Winter Cycling Tire Selection/Setup.

Saturday was a foggy damp day here in Pennsylvania.  Unseasonably warm for January.  45 degree start and was above 50 by the time we finished.  The sun even poked it’s head through the clouds for a few minutes, warming us even more. The evening before we had a few hours of rain showers and this left the roads damp almost tacky.  Perfect conditions for the Holiday/Snowfalls treated tarmac to wreak havoc on our group ride.

There were 19 of us on the group road ride. There were 8 flats (9 if you count the broken valve stem during a flat fix) today. It was clear we pedaled through an agressive patch of gravel. It was when we realized the group was getting flats 3&4, at the same time too, that I asked everyone to check their tires and pick out what they could.  It was a feeble attempt but worth the try.

As I watched the flat changes, my friends running their gloved hands over their spinning wheels I observed something. Almost everyone had their summer tires on. (I was able to make this observation because I was not worried with my tire/wheel set up. More on this below.)

Hence this blog post.   Over the years I was taught AND learned a few things that really improved winter road riding.  I’ll share them with you.


1. If you can’t afford a whole new set of tires, I have had great succes with Mr. Tuffy tire liners. Easy to install and they really do work.  These were essential for winter riding in  State College, PA.  I was dirt poor back then too.  A good friend Chuck Bednarczyk turned me onto these things.  I used them  back in my BMX days (1980’s) as well!

2. If you can afford yourself some tires then get yourself a more durable pair! Lightweight “racing” tires are to thin to ward off the type of shredded slag, glass, stone gravel that is used so commonly here in the mid-atlantic.
Two tires that have stood the test of (winter) time:
Continental GatorSkin
Specialized Armadillos
*one more will be listed below

3. Go tubeless! A fine setup is obtaining yourself a Stan’s NoTubes converstion kit. If you have Mavic Ksyriums you won’t need the kit. All you’ll need will be a pair of valve stems, some sealant and tubeless ready tires.
If you have Shimano tubeless ready wheelsets you’ll need the Shimano valves, some sealant and tubeless ready tires.

4. Ultimate setup: Stan’s NoTubes Alpha wheelset with Hutchinson tubeless ready tires! This is my current set up and I’ve been very pleased. Not only am I able to experience the beautiful ride that tubeless provides but (jinx) I have not flatted (jinx) in over two years! I’ll take this as proof!  Note: I run the Hutchinson Intensives (I highly recommend these tires) almost all season.  For road events the Hutchinson Fusion 3 is brilliantly good.  

Cannondale EVO w: Fenders

So do yourself and the rest of the group a favor. Put on the appropriate rubber for the winter, then ride with confidence!

For my local community:
Have more questions about Stan’s NoTubes and their products or neat first hand help with setups? Let me know and I’ll help you out.
If you would like to demo a set of Stan’s Alpha road wheels w/ Hutchinson tires you can message me via Facebook, Email or Twitter. You must provide your own SRAM or Shimano cassette.

BONUS WINTER RIDING TIP: Get yourself some WRAP AROUND STYLE fenders!! ESSENTIAL for those wet rides.  Keeps your bum and toes drier.  Also reduces road spray through the group and keeps your water bottles free of gritty road grime.  Stay dry to stay warm!


ps – if you have another tip, tire recommendation or fender recommendation; post it up as a comment!  #community.

A soul awakening at Iron Cross

Long overdue post about Iron Cross.  Thank you for reading!

Iron Cross is 62 miles of fire roads, singletrack , pavement and a steep ‘hike a bike.’ Sounds good (or crazy) right?! 2006 was my first attempt—one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. I rolled across the line. Exhausted. And in a mediocre 12th place. I gave it all I had that day. In fact, I may have burned a year off my life too. Scorned, I swore never to return.

Skip ahead to 2012 and the 10th anniversary of Iron Cross. I’m back (glutton for punishment) and I’m bringing a single speed as added penance. She’s a beauty: Cannondale SuperX w/ Stan’s NoTubes sneakers and SRAM/ZIPP bits.

I’ll keep the race review brief. Here we go —

Gearing choice 42×20. Spin fast…and suffer at the start. Hang on. Wicked tire puncture (Stan’s spews like I stabbed a milk carton AND it works but only holds 20psi). Begin long forced tire repair. Ten plus minutes lost. Chase and suffer. Miss turn (Totally my fault.) Lose 13+ more minutes. Stop at SRAM trying to fix previous mechanical. Another lost minute. Spin, spin…and suffer more. Aid station #3. Hang out. Eat lots of food. Enjoy some rap music. Socialize, chew and hydrate for many more minutes. Good times. Off I go. Suffer and suffer more. Finish—fourth place singlespeed. Finish time = 4:31…with an extra five miles on the odometer. Upon review of the Garmin data: I lost 25+ minutes due to my issues (not including the brief stop at Aid #2)…AND I’M TOTALLY STOKED!

How could I be happy after all of that?
Was it the fourth place? Nope.
I certainly was not happy about my misfortunes…much of which was within my control.
So what made my day so great?
Answer: The people.

Due to the day’s circumstances, I pedaled past a many of friendly foes* (sometimes twice). Not one person impeded my progress. Many gave their line; I would thank them, encourage them to hang in there, and pedal on. Some even stopped to make sure I was okay: offering parts, offering wheels, offering a draft—always with something positive to say.

Post-race, the vibe was also positive and strong. Beverage flowed, food was consumed and the race stories perfumed the air. The atmosphere lasted for hours and added to the greatness of the day.

These are things I’m still trying to get used to. Coming from a primarily road racing background, it was customary to fight for any and all positions. Forget trying to be friendly. We fought for parking, start position, race position, finish position, post-race food…and recovery was done as fast as possible. Neverending. I was once told that racing isn’t meant to be friendly…that I would win more if I would stop being nice.

Don’t get me wrong; I do value a race result and have been blessed with many that are meaningful in my 22 years of racing: National Champs stuff in road, mountain bike, and track; a Top 10 at USPRO Criterium; along with some fine mountain bike and cyclocross wins.

But you know what? None of them will have the same value as the camaraderie I experienced during Iron Cross. A part of my cycling soul was baptized that day.

*Friendly foes include (but are not limited to): Bob C., Dave P., Jamie H., Darrin M., Matt S., Sandie R.., Selene Y., my fellow single speeders, and the group of amazing dudes that flew me along the road section after Lippencote to Aid#3. I raise my glass to all of you!

Special Thanks to:
Stan’s NoTubes
AXA Equitable
Hutchinson Tires
Abraham Landes Photography
Mike Kuhn & Zach Adams (and all of the volunteers) for bringing us together.

Assembling with Missing Pieces

I’m tackling the 2012 cyclocross season missing some pieces. Check out the photo below. Can you spot what I’m talking about? (It’s not my mental “marbles”…well maybe it is!)

Above photo memory happily purchased from Cycling Captured.

Did you catch it? No? Click here for another clue (look at the drivetrains).

Still don’t see it? No worries.  I’ll share it with you:  I converted my trusty Cannondale SuperX into a single speed.  How?  I used a Beer Components EBB30, SRAM Red GXP Crankset, SRAM Single Speed Levers and tubeless wheels by Stan’s NoTubes. Cockpit was compliments of Zipp Service Course (non SL). *More bike stats at bottom.

Why? What’s the big deal? Riding the singlespeed is silly fun and I thrive on new challenges.  *It’s also because I’m part of a crew assembling something for 2013.

My next singlespeed adventure will likely be THE IRON CROSS.

*Credit to Johnny Walrod (who now lives in Portland, OR) for introducing me to SSCX back in 2004. I’ve been a fan ever since and had DreesensBicycles build me a sweet rig soon after.
*I ran Schwalbe Sammy Slicks with slightly higher than my norm tire pressure’s at 30 psi rear and 28 front. Nittany CX weekend conditions were bone dry and fast so the higher pressure was required. I currently weigh 165lbs. Bike weight as pictured: 16.03lbs.
*Saturday gear 42×16 and it felt too big. Got bogged in the tight stuff. Sunday gearing 42×18, perfect for the course, my current fitness and weather conditions.
*Announcement about my reference to 2013 in a future post.

What is this “roadie” doing? Rattling 50 review.

I am blessed. I’m on a road team and yet I’m allowed to pick my own schedule. At this point in the season I’ve only done nine days of road racing and ELEVEN days of mountain bike (MTB) racing!
It’s still a lot less racing than the “full time” roadie days. Yet it’s already more than I had planned for the year and I still have cyclocross season just around the corner!  I guess riding/racing three main disciplines is a good problem to have?

This past Saturday I lined up for the Elite Open Class at the Rattling Creek 50.  A 50 mile mountain bike race title sponsored by Stan’s NoTubes and based in and around the trails of Lykens PA.
This place is a small gem. The locals are friendly and check out Kevin’s place.

The local mtb organization partnered with IMBA have constructed some amazing trails here. It’s PA so yes, it’s generally rocky, however, the builders have put in some nice flow too. Some of the rock garden ride lines are really well done!

Here’s a neat vid someone put together. It gives a quick sense of the trails:

The race went well. I was previously doing a build for Leadville (which was also this weekend) and the subconscious/automatic training program paid off and I had good legs.
I was patient and went away solo before aid three, 36 miles in. According to the pre-race meeting this left me with approximately nine downhill miles to go.  However, there was a minor snafu with the trail markings late in the day.  Since I was leading at aid three and barring catastrophe (worse than being lead off course) I was on track for the win.  I ended up doing two sections of trail all over again and riding an additional four miles of singletrack with a little bit of climbing too.  No worries because It was decided by my fellow racers that I would be moved to top step!  Amazing humbleness and sportsmanship by my fellow podium competitors Collin Becker (who I rode with and was crushing it most of the race), Jed Prentice, Ryan Heerschap and Chris Edmonds. Several of us were similarly lead astray but again, heads remained cool and honesty prevailed.
Mike Kuhn (Rattling 50 promoter) was uber bummed (along with his volunteers) about the course signage glitch but remained super calm.
True class by everyone involved! Choice radness!

Kuhn does a great job with his races. Attention to detail in many places: fast registration, easy parking and a roll out start from the middle of town (not too many mtb races can claim such a beginning). Post ride swag, food and beverage (at a real restaurant) is part of your entry fee too!

Great race in a friendly town with excellent support by Stan’s NoTubes, Toasted Head Wine, Cannondale and the town of Lykens!

I’m already thinking about when I can get out to those trails again.

Huge thank you and congrats to the volunteers and competitors!

Maybe next season I’ll dust off the track and bmx bikes too?

Wilderness of my mind 101 which led to Liberty!

This past weekend was my second ride at the Wilderness 101 (W101).   For me W101 is the original 100 miler.  I can’t think of anyone/anyplace that was doing a 100 mile mtb event earlier than 1991.  I remember thinking, “that is crazy.”

Michael Bush: 2012 Wilderness 101 &emdash;

Photo Cred: Mike Bush Vault

My bike, pre-race routine and nutrition was on check. The opener ride the day before went smoothly.  Morning of the race my legs and lungs felt fine.  However, five minutes into the start I was already hurting and breathing harder than I should have been.  “Uh oh…” was the first thought that came to my mind.   The second thought? I may want to turn around now.  I didn’t.

Countless times I just yearned to stop. Stop and sit down, stop and sit in a refreshing creek, stop and get into someone’s car, stop and hang out with the aid station staff (they were quite pleasant), plain ole quit. Why didn’t I turn around at the beginning?!  I can’t remember when I last suffered so badly and with so much more yet to go.
I tapped into all the mental visualization, verbalization and positive mind movies vaulted into my cognitive memory: “Get to the next section of singletrack, it will be fun….”, “Head up…flow through here…”, “Get to the next feed…there will be food and drink…”, “Just keep pedaling…”, “I am a machine…”, “I’ve done this before…”, “I can do this…”, “I will do this.”

I did it.

Photo Cred: bobs-photgallery

Mad respect for those that do this weekend after weekend. There is a real mental toughness to these things.  I’ve heard many endurance MTB stalwarts utter this mantra, “There are three guarantees in the 100 milers: 1. You will feel good and it won’t last long. 2. You will feel bad and it will last way longer than you want. 3. Both 1 & 2 will happen several times and you’ll probably be alone.”  It’s so true.   On this day I was #2 for 90% of the time.

The W101 is definitely crazy, yet I feel more sane for doing it.

The Liberty Criterium Presented by Philadelphia Ciclismo
I made the three hour trek to home straight after the 101. Got up the next morning, barely, and headed out to the Liberty Criterium. I was questioning myself, again, the whole time but I was registered and told people I’d be there.  I re-packed what I needed the night before so I ate some breakfast and headed out the door.

My legs were much much better today but I didn’t realize it till mid way through the 30 mile race.  By then it was too late and the break of three, whittled down to two, would not be seen again.  I surfed some leadout trains snagged 4th in the field sprint and 6th overall.  Took home some good bounty.  I’m cool with that.


Photo Cred: cycleraces

The Liberty Criterium is a sweet event and I’m humbled to be friends and a part of the crew that assembles this race (albeit they do most of the leg work).
Props to Liberty promoter Jamie Harris and his rock band of: Jason Eicholtz, Darrin Miskiewicz, Geoff Rezvani, Jason Gabriel and Wes Beers for pulling off a great day.  Cheers to all the racers, volunteers and sponsors to0!  Lots of people step up and much attention is given to the  details: good directions, easy parking, clean and abundant port-o-johns, fast registration, good prizes, quick results, quick pay out, quick podium pictures, available swag and etc…  Thank you for everyone that came out to race and may those that involuntarily played with pavement have speedy recoveries!

The goods.

*Now that I’ve done a few mountain bike races I must say the pro/top guys are way more friendly, take the time to talk with people, competitors than I’m used to seeing. Much nicer vibe and much less ego heads.
*Not only does Stan’s NoTubes make great products but there employees actual ride/race! Even with their busy schedules Mike Bush was riding around all day taking pictures. Richie Rich completed yet another 101 while Rich Straub finished his eleventh W101!  Awesome crew.
*Liberty Criterium Sponsors: Moshulu, Kimberton Whole FoodsToasted Head, Walton Endurance, Railroad Street Bar and Grill, Dogfish Head, Java’s Brewin, SRAM, CANNONDALE and of course Philadelphia Ciclsimo.
*Equipment for the W101: Cannondale Scalpel 29er w/ Stan’s NoTubes Crest Wheels, SRAM Grip Shift and SRAM Type2 Rear Mech. NO FLATS!
*Equipment for the Liberty Criterium: Cannondale EVO w/ Stan’s NoTubes Alpha 400’s w/ Hutchinson Intensive Tubeless Tires, SRAM new RED group. NO FLATS!
*Please forgive me if I forgot to mention someone!

Thanks for reading and Rock on!