Fontana NMBS "Down Under Domination"

Oh yeah, that's right we have a National Series. Kinda, sorta.
The Fontana NMBS kicked off this weekend and was the first stop for the NMBS series.
As you can imagine Kovarik won. He has been dialing in the Fontana terrain for a few months now and after wrapping up the overall win in the Fontana Series earlier this month he was a favorite for the NMBS win. Media was pretty sparse at the event with John Gibson shooting pics, MBA writing words and Dylan Dean covering both aspects for the rest of the world that still may show an interest.
Chris Kovarik taking the win on the new rig with a 2:19.6
Nathan Rennie placed 2nd with a 2:22.2, establishing two Aussies on the podium.

Justin Leov got third with a 2:24.6 Sam Blenkinsop (pictured above) pulled a fourth place with a 2:25.1 and Cam Cole secured fifth with a 2:25.3 That's three Kiwi's all in a row.

Duncan Riffle made his debut aboard his new C-Dale and UFO kit....paging David Smith...

Thanks to Kathy Sessler for her detailed and picture filled update, she is a god send.

Word on the street is that this will be the last year we see the NMBS in the current form. It may evolve into a race "series" that may be located at better venues, with better courses, better prizes and payouts and of course more altitude. Would'nt that be nice. Stop your griping change is on the way.

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Baltimore Bmx Contest

For those of you within the vicinity there was a contest today at Carroll Park. It appears to have been a "melee" format. No serious injuries caught on tape. No groundbreaking tricks caught on tape.

Carrol Contest from Van on Vimeo.

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Matti's new Proto

Matti Lehikoinen has been getting used to his new Intense M6. The newest version of the frame that we have seen has a slightly bent downtube. The new tube is a pretty attractive addition to an already good looking race bike. Still unsure as to the benefit of the bent tube, we will see what Intense has to say. Stronger? Lighter? Both?

More pics here.
Has that rear shock been "Pushed"?

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Showa me yours and I will Showa you mine

The once sought after piece of component candy may be just a little bit closer to your hands.
Showa really stepped up when Honda thought to grace us with the RNO1. The upside down fork was eyeballed and drolled after by many racers and riders. With the death of the Honda project we had assumed that Showa fell on their sword. Assumption is the mother of all what? With a secretive approach to all things they do it is no wonder that the forks were spotted on several Japanese racers bikes. Ryo Uchijima's Santa Cruz V10 and Naoki Idegawa's IronHorse Sunday both had the forks outfitted upon them. (Not the rear shocks) The continuation of this testing is still up in the air. The company has yet to release any type of press release or let us in on their intentions. These photos come courtesy of the kind gents at the Bike Spice. Next stop, Dorado!

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Get your training on.

Too soft to ride your local trails? Kart it up! About $3 per minute, but you're used to that kind of pricing as a lift rider, yeah?
Just got home and started thinking about shaving a couple tenths off just about everything in my daily routine.
Leave it on the track I say.

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Mutiny Web Video HD

"So fresh and so clean!" At least that is our take on HD. We think Mutiny Bikes agrees. Here is the latest offering from them the 2008 Mutiny Bikes Web Video.

Best Line: "I got the police breathing down my fu@ki# neck"

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Sombrio 2008

For the past ten years Dave Watson and crew have been trying to make sure we don't look like a bunch of fools in solid color jerseys with lightning bolts on the chest. They have approached the small world of mountain bike apparel with a keen eye and a passion to outfit us with the highly functional, stylish clothing. Lets be honest, skateboarders and snowboarders get it, bmxers and surfers get it but mountain biking can certainly use a helping hand. Blending state-of-the-art fabrics with progressive patterns and colorways gives them an edge. The design is pretty spot on, the website oozes so much visual media that they must be taken seriously.
They have an impressive approach to global impact, implementing The Natural Step Framework they strive to be a eco-conscious company. 2008 truly marks the tenth year for Sombrio and there is no doubt that the next ten will be just as tremendous. If you have not tried the product, give it a whirl. You won't be disappointed and if you are, your not pedalling fast enough. Sombrio 2008

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Visual Stimulation

The newest Atherton Podcast has got some great footage of the recently demolished, Hidden Valley Trails. There is a stunning crash from the whiptastic J.D. Swanguen, hard crash with a lights out ending. The podcast follows the Brits move to SoCal to train for the upcoming 2008 season and gives us a taste for little Rachel Athertons improved dirt jumping skills. Most importantly it reminds us that these "kids" have got quite an opportunity on their hands. If you don't currently subscribe to the podcasts, you should. You can grab it from their website. Hell, it's free. Log on, get itunes and rock out with your...

The newly released BOS Suspension Promo features Nico Vouilloz and Fabien Pedemanaud riding the new squishy parts. Fabien is still riding his Commencal from last season in the video. (He has the 888 carts in this video) His new Morewood has got all the goodies from BOS attached. BOS is really making a presence and many riders from Europe will be using the "Stoy Shock" and "Idyll Fork" this season.
BOS Website
There is a detailed review on the Austalian site, Farkin.net. It's a pretty interesting read.

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As a bike geek, I've got a love hate relationship with cars. I gotta say though, we owe at least some debt of gratitude to existing motorsport platforms of suspension technology that make our bikes work oh so well.
Interesting to remember who's making that big money. Maybe that allows advantages on several fronts of bicycling specific suspension applications?
And the bike that stole the auto show!

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Kiwi Nationals and some...

The New Zealand Nationals wrapped up a while back and this video displays the mayhem. Dusty and wide open was the course description. The big step-up gets floated over and spiderman goes over the bars. Trust me he goes over the bars.
Best Line "and like, a lot of drift."

Trinkets from Taiwan

Pictures from Aaron Lutze of the Taipei Show are floating around Transcend, some new SRAM bits and some berries from RST. Did not see any pics of the new BOS single crown fork, but found one on the Sicklines website. BOS ain't no slouch.

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Loose ends...

For those of you who have not seen the trails at Lonnie Paxton's house, they are supreme! Heath Pinter and Lonnie have been busy little beavers sculpting huge hips and transfers with long run ins. Some people drink green beer and whiskey (David) and others boost the lip. Check out the vid. Chase Hawk is crazy, high speed, brakeless!

Claire Buchar received her new Intense Socom with a kickin paint job. Translucent brass finish over the raw metal, will it be available to the regular customer? WideOPEN has the details. Her bed buddy Chris Kovarik pulled the overall win at the Fontana Series. He won every race of the series with the exception of the last. He had sprained or twisted or tweaked his ankle a few days before the race and did not place as well as the other races. The point is, he still raced.

Gary "The Flipper" Perkins is one hell of a photographer. He covers the World Cup circuit and his images grace the pages of all the big magazines. One of his newer projects is entitled "My Bike", highlighting how the bicycle effects our lives from work to play. Take a gander.

Americans love their guns. Although it may be a controversial issue to some there is no denying the fact that we love bustin caps. Kyle Cassidy feels the need to document these people in their homes. The pictures speak for themselves.

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W.F.O. Trailer 3

Alex Rankin stepped into the moto world with this video. This is the third trailer that has the tune "To Kill a Dead Man" from Portishead. Somber music for some spectacular footage. The section highlighting the MXDN is just amazing to see. To have seen it in person would have been even better.

Best line: "geez you gotta set the bikes up like the yanks..."

More Motocross Videos >>

W.F.O. DvD Extras Mark Eastwood

Best lines: "...slick bits...grippy bits" and "all on me own then with no one to play with..." (It is a race not a play date)

More Motocross Videos >>

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Are you aware?

With all this talk that was started about commuting to work I found it appropriate that we all take part in this AWARENESS TEST. It takes a keen eye to ride the mean streets on a daily basis and this test will help you ascertain your "Awareness Level". The test, devised in England by the Transport for London Organization is just one of the many ways that their city helps to encourage and educate cyclists. Isn't that nice.

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New toys for the Frenchmen.

Pictures of Fabien Barels bike have been floating around the net for the past day or so. Many people were eager to sneak a peak and snap a pic at the past Marzocchi Open San Andreu de la Barça race in Spain. The pits were all a buzz with the two "Fabiens". Fabien Pedemanaud's new Morewood outfitted with the new BOS Suspension platform and Fabien Barel's new Subaru Mondraker. Barel pulled a third place behind Gracia and Pedemanaud scored 8th after a wipe out a couple hundred feet before the finish line. He was really moving.

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Parenting 101

Is your child a drug addict, does he or she use alcohol? Does your child worship Satan? Is your child a tagger? Well with the help of this new diagram you can certainly be able to figure out the latter. This illustration was released by the Santa Ana Police Department. They are trying to get a handle on all the miscreant graffiti popping up around town. Look carefully and study the diagram, I never knew that I was a tagger. Now I can be honest with myself and my love for hoodies and come clean. Other tips include:

Your child has large quantities of “Hello My Name Is” stickers, priority mail stickers, or number or letter stickers. These stickers may have drawings or a tagging moniker written on them. These stickers are used to “slap tag.” They are slapped upon a surface and are difficult to remove and generally leave a residue.

Your child has or carries a black artist notebook that contains tagging or drawings. These books are called “bibles” or “piece books.”

On a side note, in South Baltimore a "tagger" has orange and black stripes and lives in the jungle.

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Health and Happiness 4 $ale by owner


That is the going rate for the current barrel of oil. That is the highest on record. Since November when the price broke the 97-dollar mark everyday has been a record. The US dollar continues to plummet and the pump prices continue to climb, reminds me of the yodeler game on “The Price is Right” just steadily climbing and singing his tune.

So the streets should be filled with cyclists, right? Well not so much, although the numbers support an ever-growing number of Americans commuting to work, it could certainly be a lot higher. China has the highest number of reported bicycle commuters, 77% of the population. The Netherlands reports 50% of residents use pedal power to get to work. Japan squeezes out 15% and the US can only brag about 1.6% of the population.
Yes, that is quite a bit smaller than the others and smaller than most of us would like.

So if and when gas reaches $5.35 a gallon, anger and frustration will create awareness and solutions. The streets will overflow with cyclists and bicycle racks will ooze with the very vehicle that can produce a healthier lifestyle. We will see a mild reduction in the obesity rate; bicycle shops will be as plentiful as keno machines and liquor stores. You will awake to the alarm clock and the morning traffic report. “…a 3 bike pile up on the express path has got traffic tied up in both directions, a detour has been setup on the Westside sidewalk…” Work will be so much more productive all your co-workers will smile and the boss will surprisingly not have that chip on his shoulder that you got so accustomed to. You will leave work and have to fetch your ride out of the multi-floor parking garage adjacent to your building. Trying to remember where you parked you will eyeball your fellow co-workers new handlebars and fork. The ride home will be filled with riders yapping on cell phones and not looking when they change lanes. Advertisements of families riding new fangled bicycle models will clog our primetime airwaves and ESPN will air the entire World Cup circuit. Leaving ESPN 2 and 3 to merely show the highlights of all the stick and ball sports that took place the week before. As you rest your weary eyes your face will be washed in the warmth of happiness, a future of health, wealth and fulfillment will etch vivid dreams in to your subconscious.

When you awake cold-blooded reality will greet you, gas will be 6 bucks a gallon, traffic will make you late for work and you will get a parking ticket around noon for not catching the meter in time.

Park the car and pedal the bike, give it a shot. It will suck in the beginning but after the first week or two, you will smile, I guarantee you will smile.


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Security Lards

It's another night of nothing to do. Parties typically involve way too many intoxicated douche bags for my taste, and plus, I wasn't really in the mood for natty light. So I decided to charge up the camera, and head out of a little photography expedition. I called up my boy Adam to see if he wants to accompany me. "What’s that? Word. I'll be there in few".

After a half an hour of driving around my town, and I finally found a spot worthy of being the subject of my camera.

The Best Buy we arrived at was constructed rather recently on what is really an odd piece of land. The Best Buy and subsequent Quodoba grill, Noodles and Company, and Chic-Fil-A are erected on an area of land created by building the biggest friggin' retaining wall I've ever seen. The thing is quite literally almost 80 feet tall.

We rolled around back to a point where we're at the edge of said retaining wall; I parked the truck in the "employee parking" lot, held my hands in front of the heater in a lame attempt to make the harsh bite of the frigid weather less intense, and started setting up my tripod.

I'm clicked away at this view for a few minutes before switching to another angle. Just then a car turned the corner and I called out to Adam "Well, this jackass just screwed over that picture". (That’s the problem with long shutter times, any car or light source that comes near can either screw over or improve your shot.)

The car slowed down and when it came near, the license plate did not say fresh, nor were there dice hanging on the mirror. So ace security dude cranked down his window and said "What the hell are you two doing?” To which I replied "Just taking some pictures". I got the same response I usually get whenever someone realizes I'm just taking pictures. He responded, "Of what?" I did a half turn and motioned with my arms to the great view of our beautiful town and said "just the gorgeous [insert name of Baltimore suburb here] area sir".

Oh my! This shocked and appalled our fair security guard. Perhaps he had not considered photography an art form, something that people do for fun. Perhaps he had only imagined cameras to be used to record family get togethers or birthday parties. Either way, he quickly informed me that this was "his parking lot" and for "security reasons" we better "move on".

Is this what our country has driven us to? Has our post 9/11 America really made it so I, the humble amateur photographer, cannot be in a large electronic superstore's parking lot at 11:30 at night? Apparently so.

But have no fear my fellow photographers, for I was soon to have the most wondrous gift bestowed upon me. The security guard kicked us out, but he left us with these parting words, and I quote: "You can take pictures anywhere you want, just not at Best Buys". Stay tuned for pictures of Area 51, the vault at Fort Knox, and the inner sanctum of the Knights of Templar.


Bit and pieces

BOS Suspension has been testing their new rear shock and forks on the Team Pyrenees Morewood and the Lapierre Team.

Sicklines has the scoop on E13's new odd ball chainring tooth count, 33-35-37-39 your options have just expanded.

Atomic Zombie is an outfit that knows how to go to far.

Justin Leov won the New Zealand Open on his Yeti 303 zipcode bike.

If you are on the East or travelling here to race this may pertain to you. Massanutten DH will only be accepting online registration, no on-site sign up. You have been warned. The U.S. Open at Diablo Freeride Park, is now accepting registration online, be brave and sign up for the Dual Slalom event as well. Its only money...

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Cedric takes 2nd in Spain

The Marzocchi Open in Spain was held this past weekend in the city of Barca. Commencal SuperTeam rider Cedric Gracia was able to secure a 2nd place finish. His first race since he broke his wrist at Worlds last season he was getting back into the groove. As pictured above he will be sporting the Leatt Neck Brace for the 2008 season. This is a product that CG believes in and wants to spread the word on the benefits of the device.

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Gregs new stem...

Santa Cruz has got their shit together. As far as design goes they have a real cohesive package. The jerseys, website, bike graphics all of this plays a part in presenting themselves as a very professional outfit. Selling lots of high-end bicycles helps fund all of these exploits. I was tooling around the site today after getting the latest newsletter from them. My sometimes keen eye picked up on the stem mounted to the front of Greg's new V10. Truvativ Direct Mount, not available right now, and no info floating around that I could dig up. It makes sense, they make a great fork with a direct mount capable crown, what has been taking them so long? Sea Otter, hopefully will be the release along with all the other new bits.

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Twenty6 Products

Not too long ago, if you wanted to buy a decent, dependable, high quality downhill or freeride bike, your options were pretty limited.
If you wanted some burly part or indestructible component you were basically out of luck. Things broke all the time, square tapered bottom brackets, Manitou X-Vert forks (carbon and mango), RockShox disc brakes (3 bolt), Cook Brothers cranks (every color). These were products being produced by companies at the cutting edge of our sport. Those of you that have fond memories of these bits and pieces wore the red badge of courage on a weekly basis back then. Sure, our riding got better but the product quality has taken huge leaps giving us more bang for the buck and dropping Band-Aid’s stock almost overnight. Lets face it people, we have some diverse options these days. With some shiny coin in the pocket you can wander in to most local shops or the Worldwide Web and buy some earth shattering, mind blowing components filled to the brim with all kinds of science. Now, riders are trying to keep up with the advances and are able to push themselves even farther and even faster. That’s great, really it is.
With our sport growing at this speed it presents a problem to the small, rider-owned style company though. How do we set ourselves apart, create a unique voice and not get lost in all the hoop-la. The Internet is a valuable tool for companies like these. They can create some identity for themselves and with proper marketing, drive potential customers to the site.

is one of those small companies. Based in Bozeman, Montana this small outfit is churning out some clever options for riders. Brake lever upgrades, bar ends and Gucci flavored pedals are all on the menu at Twenty6. They are some highly intelligent fellas who definitely paid attention in science class. The high precision and attention to detail can be seen in the 6foe pedals. You have the option of a titanium or cromoly spindle, they have a plethora of pin positions are low profile and come in 10 different colors.
The Dualie Brake levers give you yet another option from the standard stock setup of your current brake levers. Replacements are offered for Hayes, Avid, Shimano and Formula. GasCap barends give your bars some protection when you drop, I mean, when you gently lay your bike on its side. They replace the outer ODI clamp that most of us run.

For this American made quality the price tag can seem a bit steep. Take in to consideration a US based company with overhead costs of basic operations, payroll, engineering, design, equipment leasing and materials cost and you find yourself getting quite a deal. Yeah, I know there are cheaper alternatives but founder Tyler Jarosz has committed himself to making high quality durable products so mooks like you and me can have what we always wanted, options. If that is not being part of the solution I don’t know what is.

GasCap Barend: 34.95
Dualie Levers: 69-74.99
6foe Pedal Cr: 175.50
6foe Pedal Ti: 264.99

Well try to have a formal product review soon. Stay tuned. Check em out if you got questions.
Twenty6Products Website

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CG's New 2009 Commencal Supreme DH

Just got some great shots from Commencal pertaining to Cedric's new race machine. You saw it here first.

This is CG's new frame for the 2008 DH season, and is an evolution of the prototype run last year, itself an evolution of his 2006 bike. Here are just a few of many changes made to his bike, compared with the 2008 production version of the Supreme DH:

- a lower shock mount to increase saddle height adjustment, and lower the centre of gravity
- a wider 83mm BB to increase rigidity (compared to 68mm for the 2008 production bike)
- 200mm of front and rear travel, with a 240mm x 76.5mm shock
- ISCG 05 chainguide mounts (compared to ISCG for the 2008 production bike)
- the possibility to adjust the braking balance of the bike via the rear disc brake mount (not visible in the photos)

The components on the bike are last years stuff, so we'll have to wait a bit longer to see what the final ride will look like. Oh, and C-Dog has his own custom frame geometry, of course...

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Eye Candy

Avid knows brakes, Sram owns Avid, so now Sram knows brakes. They also know how to keep bike geeks foaming at the mouth with new parts. The 2008 Avid Ultimates will be offered in formal black a crisp white and a "Sid" blue. This will coincide with the new 2009 Sid that will be offered in, you guessed it, "Sid" blue. They are not available as of yet but we are guessing the big release to be around Sea Otter, or as it has become known "Interbike part Deux".
They are pretty clever in the use of color in the componentry. The new "Red" group, the gold accents on the anniversary edition XO der. Galvanized finishes on the new Code brakes as well as Lyrik and Totem forks. Pearl white on the World Cup Boxxer and Reba and mint legs of the Argyle and Domain forks. They have a good design sense and a pretty cohesive brand image. They absorb a brand and make it there own breathing a new life in to it and keep us reaching for our wallets.

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Vallnord World Cup now online

Andorra is not a war torn African country. It is nestled between France and Spain and is the home of Commencal Bikes, Cedric Gracia and Vallnord Bike Park. Vallnord will be playing host to the second stop of the Nissan World Cup Series. They have been hard at work getting everything ready, trails are being cut and broken in and the 4X track is coming along nicely. This venue is sure to be a hit to all the racers and promoters as well as the huge number of fans expected to attend. The new website is up and rolling and the Furious Agency has had a major hand in the development of this event along with the good gents at Commencal. Festivities kick off May 31st.
Alright Cedric you now have home court advantage. Lets make it work.

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Off the chain, so far...

So they are doing pretty good. I mean they have a stack of great riders; they’re sitting on superb bikes and having Nigel Page as a team manager, that’s like icing on the cake.

Some people said they did not think that the big “K” had it in him anymore. Well he had a lot of problems last season. Flats (tubes not the pedals) in race runs, unable to qualify in Champery and Canada giving him the shutout did not help his standings in the points field and could not have been great for the sponsors. It was not the biggest surprise though to hear that he would be leaving the MS Racing outfit. Where would he go? What would he ride?

Teaming up with Nigel Page, an icon in modern mountain biking, would prove to be a great setup. Both long-term riders for Intense, Ringle and Manitou these brands would follow Chris and Nigel to the Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense Race Team.
With new fast kids falling out of the sky these days there can be a lot of pressure on the seasoned riders to stay in the game and continue to be competitive. Sponsors have a lot of things on the brain when it comes to slicing up the money pie these days. The team would round out with Julien Camellini, Matt Simmonds and Ruaridh (sounds like Rory not Rudy , thanks for the correction!) Cunningham who was recruited by the team fresh off his World Championship win. It’s great to see a young guy like him get picked up by a team of well-versed pros.

Kovarik has been winning all the Fontana Winter Series races in So Cal and Julien just pulled out a win in the French Regional Championships beating many of his fellow countrymen, including Fabien Barel. The Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense Team has started to show their true colors. They like to win and they intend to do it often this season.

As for Ruaridh and his recently injured knee, he’s a kid; they are made out of rubber.

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Thoughts from the end of last season.

As the race season approaches here are some words and thoughts from the end of last season.

The months before this have been tedious; your mental road map has been dotted with pushpins of memories from North to South and East to West. Weekends of traveling with companions and friends from mountain to hotel back to mountain and eventually home. If the trip to the race is filled with the “high” of excitement, the return is certainly the “crash”. The smell of sweat and frustration lingers heavy in the cab of a truck. Long is gone the “get to know you” repertoire of conversation and overtime has been replaced with some of the deepest inner thoughts of your own personal being. Eventually this well will run dry and the topic will shift from gas mileage, old girlfriends and tire pressure. Conversation never steers to the week ahead; the workweek has no place on these trips, it never comes up.

All the signs have been read many times, billboards of vacation getaways and the latest offerings from some mascot controlled chain restaurant. Your eye, constantly trying to decipher your location in the now unfamiliar light. The routes have been honed down to there most efficient form, swapped directions in mountain parking lots and over dinner with trusted friends have created the unrepeatable step by step directions to and from. “2 lefts a right and a left, you can’t miss it” these are the detailed directions usually spat from mouth. The newcomer who inquires will furrow their brow in slight understanding, they even nod in confirmation but their eyes reek of confusion.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight-line. This ethos is embedded in all racers and makes its appearance on the return home. Cut corners and crossing the double yellow is required to subtract minutes from the clock. Feeding is kept to a minimum and if required is coupled with refueling. Efficiency is key it keeps minutes on the clock and greenbacks in the wallet.

You cringe to think that winter is on the way. Don’t get me wrong; we like to see the seasonal changes. The anticipation of trees becoming that fiery orange, the wind picking up it’s pace and the cold intermittent blast that comes from the late afternoon air. Autumn is the equivalent of 5:00 pm on a late September day. The smell of dried leaves and rotting vegetation actually is a welcome. As the months progress the temperature drops and the freeze of winter blankets your city or town. Alternatives are found to keep idle hands from mischief. For some 20 replaces 26 and the crack of a throttle or roll of 23c tires can be just the outlet needed to keep us sane. The weather of the East is a different animal than the West. Old man winter can be a mean old bastard.

Upon arrival home, words will be short. Unloading the vehicle like a trip from some demented grocery store, how much can I really carry? Bags and gear you have lifted way too many times before have not gotten any lighter. Your emotions are sometimes mixed, happy to be home, sad to go to work. Sorry you did not pedal faster; happy you’re not broken. That inviting feeling of home is enough to make you smile. Bags get dropped, the shower and then the bed, most importantly, your shower and your bed.


BOS Suspension

Olivier Bossard is a man with a plan.

The new mountain bike suspension that is being released by his company BOS Suspension, is heralded to be ground breaking. The new fork “Idylle Pro” is traditional in orientation as opposed to the famous upside down fork made popular by fast frenchman Nicolas Vouilloz. The fork sports a piggyback reservoir at the base of the right leg. The reservoir is said to be identical to the new rear shock the “Stoy”.

Low and High-speed compression adjustments as well as the expected rebound clicker make up the adjustments on this pre production model. The final model will be available to the public in a month. With the Euro kicking the ass of the dollar lately expect to sell an organ or two in order to get one.

More soon...

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