Friday, August 31, 2012

New Ride: Lynskey Ridgeline 29er

So I finally got my Lynskey.  I ordered it back in January and it arrived at the end of July.  Took me a while to build it up, but I have a couple of rides on it now.  Some of these pics were from before the bike was actually rideable.

I ordered the frame, the fork (a SID XX), and XT brakes from Bob at  His service was really fantastic and his prices were completely unbeatable anywhere else.  He is great to communicate w/ through email and will find you anything you need at the best online prices anywhere.  Send him an email. You wont' regret it!

The rest of parts were things I had lying around. An old old XT square taper crank and bb that still work great, XTR 970 shifters and rr derailleur from my 09 Specialized Sworks, Stans Crest wheels (I had ordered from Bob a while ago), an old WTB Rocket V ti railed saddle, a Race Face post I took off of my son's bike (I haven't told him yet; he now has the very short Titec one seen in one of the pics), Syntace F109 stem from the Sworks, and I have to finish adding the Easton Ec70 bars to it.   I will also be adding a white carbon water bottle cage from Blackburn, white Esi Chunky grips, a Ritchey WCS carbon post, and finally replacing the saddle w/ my white Specialized seat.  I haven't weight it yet since I am not done with it.  For the coming year, I am not quite sure what I am going to do w/ the drive train yet.  I might go w/ XO, possibly the new XX1 if it's not a bank breaker (yeah right!), or just go w/ a used 970 tripple xtr crank to complete what I have now.

If I have learned anything from my transition from my 26' Specialized Swork Epic to the 29' Scott Scale, is to not be quick to judge a bike, and to let myself settle into the bike before I form any lasting opinions.

I did have some first impressions though.  Three things were apparent right away with the bike.  The steeper head angle meant the bike steered significantly faster, and the front end was also easier to lift over obstacles.  The bottom bracket was higher (12.5 vs what I think is 11 on the Scale), evidence by not hitting as many rocks w/ my pedals anymore!  But w/ the higher bb, I did not feel like I was perched too high on the bike.  I could however tell that it would be much easier to go OTB w/ the Lynskey compared to my Scale.  I thankfully have not yet tested this. Another impression I had riding the bike was that it seemed heavier to launch and get up to speed or up the hills than the Scott was.  I know the bike was heavier but probably not by a huge amount (maybe two lbs).  It didn't seem like it was the weight itself that made it feel "heavy" but rather the frame angles and perhaps the material (my first time w/ Ti).  I felt like I needed to ride one gear higher than the Scott.  I'll keep on monitoring this as I get the bike fully changed to it's new parts, which should bring closer to the weight of my Scale (@22lbs).  A good call on the the bike design is the 27.2 post.  Even though I had an aluminum post in there (a set back post), I could feel it flex a bit to absorb the hits the bike was taking through rocks gardens.  This really made the bike much more comfortable when keeping my butt planted on the seat when I was getting tired (which happens way too fast lately).

On a component note, the hype around the Shimano XT brakes is well deserved!  Great one finger action brakes with lots of stopping power and not a squeak.  I was also nicely impressed w/ the Rockshox SID XX.  It's lockout is much more "serious" than that of the Reba.  It actually fully locks out the fork, unlike the Reba which always has about an inch of movement in it when locked out.  I have to experiment w/ the blow off valve more as it is a little too harsh for me right now fully locked out (I always ride my Reba locked out).  The SID is also soo much smother in it's travel than the Reba is. Last component note: I had forgotten how comfortable those damn Wtb saddles were!

The tell tale sign of any "racer bike" of course is how fast it goes around the woods.  I happen to be in area that hosts a great weekly low key mountain bike time trial.  It's a really a good course w/ a nice mixture of terrain, starting out w/ some fun swoopy and tight turns through loamy single track, then transitioning into more technical terrain with some good rock gardens.    I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to pit the Lynskey against the Scott.  I races the Lynskey two weeks ago which was my first official mountain bike ride on on it, and raced the Scott the following week.   The times were very very close.  The Scott ended up being 20 seconds faster (41 min 15 secs vs. 40 min 55 secs)  Now I know a number of things other than the bike can explain that 20 seconds. The course conditions were very similar.  For example, as I mentioned, it was the first time I ever really rode the bike on dirt (I had a short ride on the road the day before to make sure everything worked).  Also obviously, the legs will perform sightly differently from week to week.   I'll keep on alternating between the bikes and see if a trend develops though.

Follow up post on the Lynskey is here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Riding in France, part deux!

(Part one is here)

Ride 4: 53 miles and 16000!!!! feet of climbing

Col D'Aubisque, Col du Soulor, and Col du Tourmalet.  Pretty crazy day of riding and most epic ride I have ever done.  We drove to the base of the Aubisque from Biarritz, which took about an hour and 1/2 or so.  We started at the base of the Aubisque and the goal was to follow the TDF route, which was coming through soon, to the top of the Tourmalet.  We were riding this the day before the "etape du tour" was riding all five cols. 

The Aubisque is a gorgeous ride to the top and was easier than I expected.  There is quite a bit of climbing and at times it does get steep, but the climb itself is undulating, so 10% grades are followed by quick 4% grades.  This allowed for some quick recovery. The scenery is also so amazing that I spend a lot of the time taking it in and being distracted from the "work" of climbing. It's a much "prettier" climb than the Tourmalet.  More on that later.  The Aubisque also rewarded us an amazing descent.  It was fast, it was twisty, it was on ledges, and we were flying past cars going in the same directions.   At one point we entered a tunnel that was not lit and turned into complete darkness.  You couldn't see the road or the walls or your handle bars.  The ceiling was dripping lots of water, so you knew the road was wet, though could not see it.  The pitch black lasted only a second, and then the end of the tunnel became visible and brought in some light.  That decent was really a total bike orgasm (or death if you miss a turn)!!!   My jaw hurt from smiling too hard.

We had forgotten about the Col du Soulor but it was not a very difficult climb.  Again the descent to the base and the town of Argeles Gazost was a screaming blast.  I almost ran into a camper van when cutting a blind hair pin turn.  I had to go wider than planned as a result and came very close to edge and ledge of the road.  Definitely a HR rising moment!   We stopped in Argeles and had a quick lunch w/ my Dad, who was following us by car for support.  Then it was time for some real pain!  

The Tourmalet is one mean mofo mountain.  First we had to climb out of the valley, which isn't very steep but is a steady climb all the way to Luz Saint Sauver and gains easily over a 1000 feet.  Once you leave the village of Luz Saint Sauver, the climbing starts in earnest.  And I mean earnest!  It starts at 7% with 18K to go to the top of the Tourmalet.  This  is the least steep it gets for many miles.  There are no undulating, less steep sections.  Quite the contrary because it quickly goes from 7% to  9%.  Every Kilometer has a maker that indicates what you are in for, and ticks off the mileage for you (kilometer really).  These would take more and more time to show up as the climb went on.  

Thankfully, 1/2 way up the climb is 1/2 mile at 5% and this the only respite there is (one I needed desperately), as after that, it goes right back up to 7, 8, 9 % all the way to the top. The last kilometer is a nice 10 %.  That is after 18K of non stop climbing!  

Going up the Tourmalet was not what I would call fun. The weather had turned really hot and the climb was in the blazing sun all the way to the top. Whereas I had enough energy to really enjoy and take in the scenery on the Aubisque, here I quickly ended up w/ my head down concentrating on the short strip of pavement in front of my tire, praying for the next mile marker to arrive quickly - with them taking longer and longer to arrive of course.  W/in the first mile of the climb I was already trying to shift into a higher gear, which sadly I did not have. I had brought a compact on the front, but the smallest I had in rear was a 26.  I would have sold my soul to have had one more gear.  I did finally get to the top, but it required in the last few miles a lot of screaming and swearing.  Onee there, I came very close to throwing the bike over a cliff!  I never wanted to see a bike in my life again!  I quickly got over my whining when buying a drink at the bar on the top of the col and looking at an original tdf single speed bike a rider used in 1910 to climb the Tourmalet and SEVEN other cols on a 326+ k etape (see pic below).  Of course, now I can't wait to do it again!

Ride started here and looking up at the climb to come

No comments needed!

And the climbing starts...

My brother about 1/2 way up
Getting Higher; find the water fall!

Markings for the Etape du Tour

Yeah, it's pretty!

Not there yet, maybe around the corner?

Nope, more to go...

NYC reprsenting!

Almost there!

Greeting party at the top of the Aubisque

Aubisque completed, now for a 30km descent! 

Down we go

Starting the Col du Soulor climb

View of the above picture from a Helicopter: don't miss that turn!


Reads: 18km to go and 7% incline

Over the 1/2 way point!

Still going up.

Anytime now.

Digging in very deep!
Done!  and best attempt at smiling!
Actual bike ridden in the TDF and up the Tourmalet!

 Ride 5: Recovery Ride to the Pas de Roland

Here is the history around Roland.  Great ride again.  First rode to the little town of Soulaide and then to Espelette.  Espelette is know for it's Spicy Peppers which are dried by hanging on the side of the town's white washed houses. Once we got past the "Pas de Roland", we took what we thought would be a short climb around.  This however ended up being far from an easy climb, and ended  up being a Cat 2 climb, with some sections at more than 20%.  So much for an easy recovery ride.  In the reverse direction though, it would have been a 1+ mile climb w/ an avg slope of 24%!!!! My rims were starting to heat up and my brakes to fade by the time we got to the bottom. Next time, maybe I'll try to climb that!  This would be the last ride in France for the summer.

Pas the Roland starts behind the church.

Roland was here!

And the Climbing starts....

We only rode the bottom right of the hill.  Next time to the top (an HC I am sure!)

Yeah, it got steep!

Going up.

View of the Valley below and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

Part 1 is here!