When Santa Cruz sent over the geometry charts for the new Bronson and 5010 models, I was extremely happy with what I saw. These two bikes have been among our best sellers for a while now, and with the new geometry, they look even better. The changes are absolutely on point; with slacker head angles, shorter chain stays, lower bottom brackets, shorter seat tubes, and longer reach numbers. These two new models also sport boost spacing, and they went to a 31.6 seat tube, which accommodates a 150mm Reverb. Santa Cruz says that the boost spacing helped them get the chain stays shorter and improves the bracing angle of the spokes.
I was already looking forward to a trip to Downieville to ride bikes with the crew from Santa Cruz. The event was called the Gold Rush; attendees included a small group of dealers, Santa Cruz Syndicate riders, media, and Santa Cruz staff. When I found out that we would be riding the new Bronson and 5010 bikes, I felt like a kid at Christmas. The visit started with a presentation of the new bikes, where the Santa Cruz design group went over the changes with us. They mentioned that they tweaked the leverage rate on the rear suspension, and that the suspension improvements might be the most important change to the bikes. They claimed that the new bikes would be more responsive at the top of the travel while providing more support through the mid stroke, and a consistent ramp up. That sounded good to me, but I was skeptical that this would impress me as much as the new fit and geometry based handling characteristics.
The first day, I rode the Bronson (pictured above, in Kalimotxo & Yellow) on a trail called Butcher - we did two runs. Right when I got on the bike, I noticed that the suspension did feel more plush, and seemed to have a more natural feel to it. There are a lot of rocks on Butcher, and the suspension was truly impressive - maybe Santa Cruz was right. It soaked up big bumps and small bumps with control left over. The steady ramp up makes the suspension predictable and facilitates an intuitive rider connection to the bike. There was no wallowing in the mid stroke, or blowing through travel.
I could tell you every little detail about my weekend at the CES Kamikaze Games last weekend at Mammoth Mountain, CA but I'll just share what you really want to hear about...my crashes and other problems that no one wants on race day.
Quick rundown: We arrived at Mammoth 3 days before my race day. Beginners and sport raced on Saturday while Expert and pros had to deal with race butterflies one more day. Sunday came and all I hoped for was smooth runs with no broken bones.
2 days before the race day: While taking some practice runs, my shifter decided to skip. Ex-Path employee Mike Riess at the Shimano tent, saved the day and tuned it up for me.
I have been dying to get some new riding shoes, but that cost money and I have races to pay for! So I've been holding out. What happens a day before the race? The ratchet on my shoe won't secure. I'd like to give a shout out to Roger from Kenda Tires for providing Gorilla Tape to hold it together.
by Eric (Auk) Akiyoshi, member of The Path Bike Shop Ambassador Race Team
Sometimes epic bike rides have more to do with the company you keep, people you meet, and stories shared with local companions.
I was fortunate to score a spot in the 2015 Amtrak Century Bike Ride. A long running tradition hosted by the Orange County Wheelmen Bicycle Club, the annual Amtrak Century typically sells out in less than 45 minutes (or so I’ve been told). The ride starts from the Irvine train station and ends at the downtown San Diego Train Station. The ride has 3,200 feet of climbing and is well supported; with 60 miles still to go, a buddy riding the SAG vehicle donated his rear derailleur and was Johnny-on-the-spot with a chain tool so I could convert my bike to a retro-cool single speed.
I started the ride from Tustin at 5AM and met my ride buddies James, Dave, and KC at the Irvine Train Station around 6AM. We checked in and were riding the Century event by 6:30AM.
by Nathan Heronen, Ambassador and member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
The 2015 Rim Nordic Enduro Race Series attracts a wide variety of racers from all different backgrounds. The sometimes technical, sometimes pedal-y, always fun stages drive riders to make some pretty specific choices on bike setup. Here is an inside look in to a few of the racers’ bikes at the Aug 15, 2015 race at the Rim Nordic Ski Area in Running Springs, CA.
The Path Bike Shop local Geoff Knight running a large Kona Process 111 29er with a Rockshox 140mm Revelation fork. Drivetrain is handled by a WolfTooth modified 1×10 Shimano drivetrain with a 28t ring and a custom inner chain guide. Wheels are Stans ZTR Flow wheels with meaty On One tires. Seatpost duties taken care of by a 150mm KS Supernatural dropper. Brakes are the always trusty Shimano XT. A modified seat bag attached with an Awesome Strap keeps the tools and spares for racing in place, and a water bottle is well secure by a Salsa stainless steel cage.
Jill Hamilton of Petal Power was rocking the Turner Czar with Rockshox Sid Fork and Fox Float rear shock. Wheels are the ever lusted after Enve Carbons wrapped in WTB Bronson TCS tires. Drivetrain is handled by SRAM 1×11 with a 28t front ring. Jill is also running a KS Lev dropper seatpost to coax out the enduro abilities of her XC rig.
Race report by Nathan Heronen, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
After hitting the Grizzly 100k race in Big Bear for the second time this year, I think I finally got my gear and bike setup dialed. The race is 100k (~63 Miles) with about 8000-ft of climbing and part of the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) MTB race series. Much of the race is technical singletrack for extended periods of time. Bike and gear choice can really make the difference between a good day and a rough day. Below is a list of what I chose and why. While I still struggled during the race, I felt good about all my gear choices. This is the setup I would choose for any similar distance race in the future.
Race report by Steven Nadaskai, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
California Enduro Series Race #4: Ashland, Oregon/ Jr. Expert Under 18
With this race being my second California Enduro Series race, I knew I had signed up for a challenge.
We set off to Oregon on Wednesday afternoon, only to get there at around 12am and still having to set up the tents and camp. After getting some sleep, we took the day to practice stages 3 and 4. These were the two stages that we had to get shuttled up on. Once we starting riding down, we all heard a loud....BANG. From there on we finished practice in pouring rain and in some spots, hail. Surprisingly the rain didn't make the dirt muddy. Instead it made it extremely tacky and just amazing.
As Friday came, we were able to fit in another practice day. This day was a little bit different though. We shuttled stages 3 and 4 with no rain, but only extreme amounts of stoke. Once setting off to climb 3700 feet to stages 1 and 2, that's when the rain kicked in. Two of my teammates (Ben and Chris) and myself ended up climbing the full climb in pouring rain, taking about 2 hours. Then once at the top we rode both stages in pouring rain also. The experience of riding in that type of weather was insane and was truly memorable.
Race report by Blake Wray, Jr. racer and member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Photo: Jason Marr.
My first MTB National Championship Race was an awesome experience! Before the fun began, there was a lot of preparation and hard work. I had to work very hard with breathing, strength training, and nutrition. Getting on the stationary bike helped me with the strength and breathing. Once I was all ready and done with work, it was time to go up I was excited! It was a long drive up there, it was astonishing!
A week ago was Round 3 of the 2015 California Enduro Series in China Peak. I knew this race was going to be challenge because I've never been to China Peak or ridden any similar trails. The only way I could prepare myself for this race is by going in with the mindset of using all I've learned and trained for.
After hanging out and relaxing on Thursday, we set off to get some practice runs in on Friday. Having the use of chairlifts helped a whole lot, as we were able to fit in 7 practice runs. From the start of practice, I knew these trails were completely different than anything I'm used to. Stages 1 and 2 were what I would call the "warm-up" stages as they didn't have anything that technical but instead a lot of blown-out corners and pedaling sections between those corners.
Stage 3 was by far the most physically demanding stage; it started out with some sketchy technical sections, then dropped you into the trees into a bunch of tight switchbacks and a good amount of pedaling. After the pedaling section, you dropped into the infamous rock garden. I had to look at it a couple of times, but I chose my lines according to how smooth I can hit it. After the rock garden and a couple other fairly technical sections, the course dropped you into more pedaling between the trees all the way to the end.
Stage 4 was more on the technical side, but instead of tight rock sections, it was high speed, rowdy technical sections. This section was rowdy for the majority of the stage until the last 30 percent where it was all washed out turns that were extremely hard to get traction.
Race Report by David Hardwick, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team. Photos: Carla Bray
Round Two of the 2015 California Enduro Series took us the furthest from home that I’ve ever been for a race. We traveled to a little town about 10 hours from home on the Mendocino coast called Caspar. The locals welcomed somewhere near 300 racers, their families, and support staff with open arms, and were thrilled to show their local riding area to a whole new group of people.
I had been saving my pennies and selling everything not bolted down so I could purchase a new bike in time for the race. With the help of Tani & Gerrin from the shop, I was able to get my hands on a Giant Trance 1 with exactly the build that I wanted. I picked up my bike one week before this race and tried to squeeze in every ride I could so I could get to know her a little better before leaving home for the race.
Thursday morning before the race was a blur; I tossed all the last minute things into the car and drove to meet with Zach for our trip 2/3 of the way up the state. The drive up was pretty uneventful and we made really good time. We arrived to find the rest of the team just finishing up their course pre-riding. We geared up and talked the world’s best team manager, Lou Mollineda, into dropping us off at the top so we could get some pre-rides in ourselves before we set up camp for the weekend.
Friday morning we awoke to beautiful weather, lots of sun and perfect temps for riding. After the arrival of a few more teammates, we put together the days plan, trying to get as many of the race stages covered as we possible could. The plan was well executed and I think the team had a good handle on what the trails were like. Friday night I started thinking about how many miles were ahead of me for the weekend, and the pre-race jitters certainly kicked in. I reviewed the trail map multiple times to try and remember all I could about the stages I would be racing on Saturday. The morale around camp was quite high, I think the team felt well prepared and ready to tackle the next days of racing.
Racing a 50 mile endurance race on tired legs with a single speed is a good experience and good training, but it does NOT feel good at all....I highly recommend it.
The endurance course was two laps on the 25-mile cross country course. I felt good for about 15 minutes after the start, then I had no choice but to settle into a slower more manageable pace while the group I was with rode away.
The following 15 minutes I rode with another group of riders, but again I needed to dial it down a bit more to deal with the altitude and leg fatigue so I fell off the back of that group. I rode in this position for the rest of the race. I did manage to catch a few riders, but not the two singlespeeders that were ahead of me. I finished third so I still managed to get a podium spot.
Race report by Steven Nadaskai, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
OTH Race #3: Elite Short Track Brutality
This past Tuesday was the 3rd race of the 2015 Over The Hump MTB Race Series. It was also a special type of night; for this race, the Elite racers didn't have a main race but instead had a nearly 4-mile Short Track race after the main race. To qualify for the short track race, the elite racers were paired with a beginner or junior to be a ride-along coach during the main race. Giving myself a challenge, I set out to race the Elite/Pro Short track.
Before the main race, I was paired up with R.J., who was a beginner racer. The incredible thing when chatting with him on the start line was that it was his first time ever racing. He looked strong at the start line when I first met him and he proved to race even stronger. Being his ride-along, my job was to coach him and help him through the race. I tried my best to do so by giving tips and helping him to keep pushing to the finish. For his first race, he ended finishing 3rd in beginner men 29- class. By the way he was racing, I knew he going to be up there and he did exactly that. Big congrats to R.J.!!
I went back to Weaverville, California after a seven year hiatus to work on my climbing. Last year I raced a hundred mile race in Oregon with 17,000 vertical feet of climbing and had a meltdown on the way to a third place finish. It was a very ugly finish; I didn't pace properly, was under fueled, bonked, and in a world of hurt the last several hours.
This customized build is lightweight like an XC bike (26.3lbs) but set up aggressively like a Giant Trance SX.
Race Report by David Fong, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
The 2015 Over The Hump MTB Race season got off to a great start with sellout attendance at Race #1. The venue at Irvine Lake was buzzing with excitement. While I was feeling excited about this race, I was also a bit apprehensive as well. The reason for that is that I jumped into a higher category a couple seasons ago and had typically finished in the last 3 to 5 spots of my group, Men Sport 50+. I knew I had to make changes going into the 2015 season, so I started being coached by teammate Luke Wronski, a successful Expert-level racer and employee at The Path Bike Shop.
Luke put me on a high-intensity/low-volume training plan, which worked well with my busy schedule. This incorporated strength training, interval work and a core workout routine. His coaching and my hard work (read: pain) paid off big at this race, my first XC race of the year.
I wasn’t really sure I wanted to go to the Santa Ynez Valley Classic, but after a few last minute considerations I decided it would be a good way to test the diet and training program I have been on for the past month. I departed home early Friday morning, prepared to sit in some LA traffic to aim for a 10AM arrival time so that team member Zach Graves and I could get a course pre-ride in. That plan worked rather well, as we arrived within 15 minutes of each other. I haven’t been to the Dirt Club in Los Olivos for many years, but I’m familiar with the hills and I was prepared for some good hard pedaling in the Enduro. I’m really glad that I had prepared mentally because stage one was, as fellow race team member Jordan Steyer put it, “one 12-minute interval”. And man, did it feel like it.
Race Report by Mario Correa, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team
I went to a fun event with a great vibe, the 2015 6 Hours In Frog Hollow just outside of Zion on April 18, 2015. I wanted to test out my new singlespeed setup and to make a comparison to my result/fitness from the 2014 race.
12.8 mile course, perfect weather, SingleSpeed Solo category, pitted off my truck tailgate, wore the old green Path Bike Shop race kit since it was warm out and I haven't had time to make a sleeveless version of the new kit.
One tooth difference in gearing, fully rigid setup, lighter bike with carbon frame, bigger Path Bike Shop water bottles, new Giro Shoes from the shop, and I fueled up only on Poptarts and Rockstar Energy drink. Also, my fitness is not what it was at this point in 2014, but it would be a good sign if I wasn't too far off of my lap times from the race last year.
The week leading up to the 2015 Sea Otter Classic, I came down hard with a bacterial infection that wiped me out for three days. I seriously questioned whether or not I would be healthy enough to race. I picked up an antibiotic Thursday and hoped for the best. By race day Sunday I felt good. Huge shout out to my team mate Nathan Heronen for turning me on to a sinus spray that allowed me to breathe out my nose during the race!
At the start of the race I went out hard, doing everything I could to be up at the front before the course bottle-necked into the singletrack. After getting through the first singletrack, the race settled into a rhythm. I stayed with two other riders in my class for most of the race.
Race report by Steven Nadaskai, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
2015 Sea Otter Classic - XC Race Cat-2, ages 15-18
As everyone knows, the Sea Otter Classic is like a mountain bikers' dream. Everything bike related is there, including the racing. I set out to race the very brutal XC race. The course was 24 miles and 3500' feet of climbing. It was the longest race I've ever done so far and it definitely hurt.
Waking up race morning was tough since race start was at 8AM, so I was awake by 6AM. To make things even better, it was super foggy and freezing cold. After doing a decent warmup, I went to go line up at the start and ended up waiting 20 minutes until the race actually began. I was freezing and shivering just standing there waiting for the race to start, but once the announcer said "go", the adrenaline warmed me up quickly!
Off the start everyone was just going at it and getting into draft groups right away. I dropped back towards the back of the field during the first few minutes as everyone was attacking and blasting ahead. I knew if I would do that, I would blow up later on since it was a very long race. Slowly but surely, I was gaining positions one by one; mainly on downhills and singletrack where I had my advantage of technical skills.
Round 3 of the 2015 US Cup at Bonelli Park was a really great day for me. After taking a month off of racing to get married and settle in to a new home, it felt great to be back at it. Bonelli Park was my first ever US Cup cross country race as CAT-1. I wasn't sure how my fitness would stack up against a much stronger field compared to the races in Fontana, CA.
I went out conservatively, singling out the individuals I knew I had a chance against. By the end of the second of four laps I knew I was in a good place. The longer daily bike commutes that have become the bulk of my training proved to help with my endurance.
On the final lap, myself and one other rider battled it out for 2nd place. He took off on a sprint halfway through the lap. Unfortunately, I was unable to reel him back in. Given that this was my first crack at a US Cup CAT-1 race, I couldn't be more thrilled with my third place result. This also gives me more confidence heading into the 2015 Sea Otter Classic this weekend!
So proud to be representing The Path Bike Shop, Kona Bicycles, Kenda Tires, and Smith Optics. Huge thanks to Lou and Tani for all the support. I am beyond blessed to be able to race my bike and work with such good people.
Race Reflections by Mario Correa, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team
A time trail is considered “the race of truth”, a race against the clock.
Truth is, almost everyone is racing against the competition not the clock.
The first race of the year is always a rude awaking.
Truth is, every race is a rude awaking if I'm not warmed up.
Have a new singlespeed setup this year that I've been looking forward to racing.
Truth is, there's still some changes needed before it's 100% dialed in.
Felt like a big yellow bratwarst in the new yellow kit.
Truth is, I'm several pounds above comfortable racing weight; no more salt & vinegar chips after training rides.
The plan was to stand for the entire climb.
Truth is, my arms fatigued quicker than my legs so I resorted to plan B and walked a little.
Why was I thinking of the Vision Quest West Horse Theif on the Dreaded Hill climb?
Truth is, I need to race more to increase my focus; racing is the remedy for monkey mind syndrome.
I thought I won the race when I was done.
Truth is, I was a few seconds off of first.
The mistakes I made were more costly than I figured.
Truth is, every second counts.
I'm sort of happy with my current level of fitness given the circumstances.
Truth is, I have a long way to go to be ready for my big races this year.
Mario placed 2nd in the SingleSpeed category at the 2015 Whiting Ranch Time Trial.