Race Report by Charlie Gilmore, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
Fifteen years ago I set a goal of finishing the Warrior's Society Vision Quest as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Since that first year, Vision Quest has become an annual obsession for me and this year I was hoping to finish my 15th consecutive. This was also my first year racing with The Path Bike Shop and my first Vision Quest on my Spark RC. Several weeks leading up to the event I was dealing with a lingering cold so I wasn’t sure how I would feel on race morning. I didn’t feel great race morning but I contributed that to the fact that it was 3:15am. I grabbed a cup of coffee, my traditional race morning peanut butter and honey sandwich and headed to the race start in Blackstar Canyon. I had plenty of time to get ready and even got a nice warm-up in which I usually don’t find time for. The weather was perfect which made it much easier to prepare because I didn’t have to worry about wearing or carrying extra layers.
The race started at 5:30am sharp and I could instantly tell that the warm up helped as my legs felt ready to go. I knew I was riding well when I hit the top of Blackstar in near record time for me and I felt strong across the main divide and down motorway. At the first aid station I quickly took on some water and headed up Maple Springs. I was definitely starting to feel fatigued at this point but I began catching other riders which kept me motivated. I crested the top of Santiago peak and had a clean run down the back side and Holy Jim trail. It is a bit demoralizing at the second aid station when you see Counting Coup participants turning right to the finish and you know what is in store for you so you have to stay mentally tough at this point.
Race Report by Dan Blurton, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
My 2018 race season kicked off on March 18th in San Dimas at Bonelli Park for the first round of the 2018 GoldState Series (or in years past, known as the Kenda Cup). All winter I was super nervous for the 2018 race season as it is my first year racing Cat 1. The last few years racing Cat 2, I felt strong and ready to move up.
I headed up to Bonelli on Saturday, the day before, to do some pre-riding on the course. Ran into fellow Path Bike Shop racer, Blake Wray, so we rode together to check different lines out and see where we could gain some time. It was good to see his line choices! After a good day of riding, I headed home to get my bike prepped and ready to do battle!
Now it’s race day and my nerves are going crazy! I make the short drive back up to Bonelli, all the while going through the course in my head over and over coming up with a game plan. I arrive, suit up, and head out to do some warm up laps because for me I’ve got to get in a good warm up in before or I am nothing! Not long after, I hear them calling up all Cat 1 racers to the line. I end up in the front row of a field of 14 deep fast dudes so if my nerves weren't already at the peak, now they are. We are off! I got a great start as I was second going up the first hill, and I felt great as we head into the first lap. I was able to complete lap 1 holding on to second place, but not long after, the third place rider reeled me in and passed me. Now I’m just going as hard as I can to manage to hold onto third place, but these dudes are fast! Then about a third way into the last lap I get passed again by a guy who I figured was not in my class until I notice him looking back at me. Oh no! I just let him around me! With only a quarter of the way to go I sped up a bit more but it just wasn't enough. So I ended up 4th Place in my first Cat 1 race, a great feeling coming from a field of 14 fast guys.
Thanks to Josh Wray for the awesome bottle hand-offs and everyone who came out to cheer me on! Thanks to the Path Bike Shop, Kenda Tire, Docent Brewery, Sta-Tru Wheels, Dirt Bagz, Accumed and CPRX Physical Therapy for all you guys do for me to make it possible to go racing! On to the next one!
Photo Credits: top from Sho-Air, bottom from Sam Wiernucki.
Race Report and photos by Charlie Gilmore, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
This was my third time racing the True Grit Epic and it is hands down my favorite race. The course is about 45 miles in length with over 5,000 feet of climbing and combines some of the best mountain bike trails in Utah, including Barrel and Zen Trails and Barrel Roll. In addition to being physically demanding, the course tests your bike handling skills, both up and down. This year I traveled and roomed with three really fast riders, including Chris Heinrich who also races for The Path Bike Shop and is an accomplished single-speeder.
On the drive out, Chris educated me on his strict race diet which includes a heavy dose of Cheetos and Taco Bell along with a spirit or two. We arrived in Santa Clara on Thursday and settled into our condo which was less than one mile from The Zen Trailhead. We met up with Brad Keyes (Carbo Rocket Keyes) and got a great pre-ride in on some of the most technical trails on the course. Friday we did a shorter Zen ride, had a very relaxing pre-race day and got to bed early. Race morning we did a very brief warm up ride and lined up for our race. Chris was racing open single speed and I was racing in the 50-59 category and we both started in the third wave.
Review by Megan Welch, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
I've been on the Juliana Strega for about 5 months now and I have already said "This is my forever bike". Coming up on 5 years of riding mountain bikes I have a pretty good grasp on what I look for in a bike that is best suited for my style of riding. The Strega felt natural. I call her "The Witch" since the name Strega is Italian for witch so it seemed appropriate. She is a perfect matte green with a beautiful gold "Juliana" decal stretched across her down tube. I've done no big custom changes to the bike besides the saddle and a custom red top cap that reads "Love the bike you ride", The Path motto. The Witch is suited up with E13 wheels, X01 Eagle drivetrain, Raceface SixC carbon handlebars, Rock shox lyrik RCT3 fork, Rock shox Super Deluxe RCT rear shock, and Shimano XT brakes. Weighing in at 32lbs, shes a big girl but that aint a big deal.
Before the Strega I rode the Juliana Roubion which was a little shorter travel of a bike with a less aggressive downhill geometry. While the Roubion was a great and fun bike, the slight geo differences the Strega has naturally allows me to be quicker on the downs. Which my friends, is what I am here for. The bike has two geo settings, High and Low, which you can adjust at the lower link. The high setting sets the Strega at a 65 degree head tube angle and the low at 64.6. The low setting also changes the bottom bracket 5mm and in this sport, a little goes a long way. So it is nice to have these slight but helpful options depending on the trail, especially on race day when you either need to it pedal better or descend quicker.
12 hrs of Temecula with SoCal Endurance - January 27th, 2018
My race weekend started out like always, with a late night rush to get all my gear and equipment ready the night before. Made and packed all my food and got my bike all prepped for a grueling race ahead. Off to bed I go! Next thing I know my early morning alarm goes off. I really start to second guess myself on this race, but I load all my stuff up and off we roll to Temecula.
Once I arrive I get all signed up and decide to try my hand at the Open/Pro Class. Get my pit all set up and my food out and ready to go. I roll my bike over to Kenda to get some new rubber put on and like the awesome guys they are, Raul from The Path Bike Shop and Roger from Kenda Tires rush to get the tires set up on my bike.
Now it’s 5 min before the start, I roll to the start line, and my nerves start going wild! 5...4...3...2...1 and we are off for 12 hrs of fun! Race started good as I was riding with the lead pack. Next thing I know I start clicking off laps. I hit the half way point, nothing too crazy had happened in the first half so I am feeling good.
This weekend I braved cold, wind, rain, hail and a flat tire in the Nevada desert, but came away with my first win in dual slalom.
The DVO Nevada State Gravity Championship took place at Bootleg Canyon near Boulder City, Nevada Jan. 19-21. Like the other races in the DVO Winter Gravity Series, it featured downhill, enduro, and is one of the few within driving distance to include dual slalom. I raced my first DS race last year at Sea Otter and have been waiting for another chance. Races at Bootleg are pretty similar to Southridge races at Fontana; it’s a little mountain with shuttles, vendors, friendly riders and a cool vibe. It’s right near Hoover Dam, which is worth a visit and going on the tour.
I was really looking forward to racing my new Polygon TridZZ that I special ordered from The Path. The weather report looked perfect earlier in the week, but Saturday afternoon when I showed up to practice, I could see rain off in the distance in the desert.
The qualifiers were scheduled for 4 p.m., with the races heading down after dark. We each would get one timed run that would determine our race brackets for head-to-head racing. Because the races were set for after dark, they had a company there setting up these cool helium balloons with lights to illuminate the course. Unfortunately, the winds were so strong, it was like they were trying to fight one of the Macy’s parade balloons in a hurricane.
Photo: Jordan May
A customized Honzo shaved some major weight.
From our Tustin shop, this 2017 Kona Honzo Carbon Trail was customized with a wheelset swap to Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheels and RaceFace Six C handlebars. Add to that the customer's own saddle and pedals.
Stock the bike originally weighed 27.6lbs. With all the changes, the bike dropped to 25.9lbs!
Review and photos by Greg Hotchkiss, staff at The Path Bike Shop.
I've always had mixed emotions about trail bikes. I spend most of my time riding hardtail single speeds (yep, I'm that guy). I prefer the endurance side of riding over the enduro side. Yet every year I convince myself I should own a trail bike for all the winter riding fun we have in SoCal's Santa Ana mountains. Trabuco to Bell just isn't as fun on a hardtail compared to a trail bike.
Rewind to last August. I'm investigating trail bikes to see what I should buy. I rode the Santa Cruz Bronson, which I loved, but wanted something with a little more travel and a new Eagle drive train. I figure if I'm going to haul around gears and suspension, I might as well have all the gears and all the suspension. I narrowed it down to the Santa Cruz Nomad, the Giant Reign or the Pivot Firebird.
I did the usual. Looked up reviews, studied and compared geometry charts and laughed at the bike jargon that manufacturers use in their press releases. I wrote off the Pivot Firebird and The Giant Reign based on the geometry because they both seemed a little too slack and low to meet my criteria for proficient pedaling. Santa Ana riding adventures usually average 3000 feet of climbing, so it's a deal breaker for me If I deem a bike to be a bad climber.
2017 Intense Recluse build specs:
Non Dot Adventures Aliso Woods XC Race 3
A different time of year for the Non Dot Adventures’ Aliso XC race! At first I was little concerned hearing the race was being held in August instead of April, especially since it’s a longer race and has sections where the heat could be an issue. However the organizers wisely held the race early in the morning and it ended up being a perfect day to hold a race.
Every race has different challenges and therefore different strategies involved, and for Aliso the key for me as a challenge and a strategy was pacing. The Elite women race the same distance as the Elite men, with one trip up Cholla, two trips up Mathis, and three descents down Rock-It. The beginning is also tough-a deceptively easy fire road that stretches for almost 5 miles; however it has a slight grade upwards and several sandy sections which can suck the life out of legs before reaching the first climb at Cholla. After each tough climb the strategy for me was to recover quickly enough to be ready to tackle the technical descent and rock gardens of Rock-It. I had completed a quick pre-ride a week or so prior to figure out a few sections of trail, make sure I had good lines, and do a climb up Mathis, but I wasn’t feeling too ready for the length of the race. Most of my training and racing up to this point had been short, intense distances, and I knew it was going to be tough to estimate proper pacing for the length and challenges of this course. My goal therefore wasn’t necessarily to win but to stay in one piece and try to improve on my course time from last year.
by Jesse Peterson, Bike Technician at The Path Bike Shop.
I have a relatively new bike and it's pretty unique.
What I've built for myself isn't your usual Santa Cruz Bronson 2 CC. Although the Bronson 2 with it's 66 degree head angle and 150mm of snappy VPP travel is enough bike to race down most descents with predictable liveliness, I wanted a bike with as much rake as a DH bike could give without the dead feel of 8 inches of travel, so I created one!
It all starts off with a bike you think will accommodate the modifications you want to make. For instance, when I decided to slacken my bike and put a 29er fork and wheel on the front of the Bronson 2 (which I'll elaborate on later), I anticipated a raised bottom bracket height, so I didn't want a bike that had a bottom bracket that was over 13.5". Likewise, the seat tube will slacken too, so it had to have a steep angle to begin with! After all is said and done, the 13.43" bottom bracket height grew to 13.8," and that wasn't what I was going to be satisfied with. If I had started with something higher I might end up above 14" and that is a kind of weird feeling. Thus stated, I found the Bronson to accommodate these changes very well.
First, after choosing a bike that fits both your body, your style, and your plan, then you begin to compile your build.
Here's another great custom build to come from The Path Bike Shop, from the frame up.
The Foes Mixxer runs a 29 front end and a 27.5 rear. Here are some specs on this custom build:
Here's what the customer had to say after his first ride:
"Went for a short spin on Saturday (Meadows, Stair Steps, Lizards) - WOW this thing is crying for the off menu goods! It ate up the waterfall on Stair Steps like nothing (of course), and held speed like crazy (of course) but what was really surprising was the acceleration and how efficiently it climbed."
Race Report by Leslie Williams, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
My famous last words to my racer friend Heidi: “Ahhhh, this rain won’t be a big deal…. nothing like several years back when Blackstar was a muddy mess…” Well, as we all know, Blackstar was a muddy mess! I love this race. 5:30 am start is right down my ally. I love getting rides in at dawn. I know this route like the back of my hand. I was as ready as a weekend warrior can be. But within 20 minutes I was completely powerless to make my wheels turn over. The mud was so thick front and back, that no amount of digging was going to make my wheels turn. I carried my bike on my shoulder for a long time. I searched high and low for the best sticks to stab at the mud, but to no avail. Sadly, I turned around and called it quits. I was so disappointed, as were many people who made the same decision. Kudos to all those who made it around that whole course!
However, I needed to go back and redeem the training and the experience of finishing this course. Luckily it was my spring break, so on the following Friday, I stuffed my pack with all I would need for the trek, parked at the Path Live Oak, and took off about 4:45 am. It was absolutely freezing getting to Black star, but by the time I reached the gate I was ready to make this day happen. I flew up Blackstar faster than I ever have, and made it across the divide and down Motorway fairly quickly. The main divide, however, will never be easy, no matter what! Those climbs out there are steep and never-ending. Motorway is always a sight for sore-eyes after the endless fire roads, so there’s always that reward.
I started to slow down up Maple, but I was very motivated to finish as quickly as possible so I could pick my kids up from school. Then I really slowed down up to the Peak. That rocky trail is TOUGH. I started cramping, but managed to get to the Peak and to fly down Holy Jim and back to my car, just in time to pick up my son. I even got to see Megan W. and friends on Holy Jim training for the Whisky 50!
Parking at the shop made for a 52 mile, 9000 foot day. There is nothing like being out in the Santa Anas for that long. Even though I’m not in the shape I used to be, I’ll forever be an endurance junkie. I’m so thankful that I was able to get out there and make it happen!
by Jesse Peterson, Bike Technician at The Path Bike Shop.
Pictured here is a seatpost from a customer's bike that has been routinely cleaned with a pressure washer. We recommend NEVER using a pressure washer on your bike...because this could happen to you. Never spray water into the insides of your bike!
Here's how to clean your bike safely:
Heat up some distilled water and mix it with Simple Green, then put it in a commercial spray bottle and shoot the crud off with precision. The heat of the liquid will evaporate quickly, and being that it's distilled, you won't get corrosion like you will with a water hose. Precision is the key. Don't shoot directly at the moving parts.
Another way to prolong the life of your components is to not ride in the mud. If it rains, wait a couple of days and go ride when there isn't mud or dust! You avoid both mud and dust, and you avoid damaging the trails!
Personally, I don't clean my bike very often, but when I do its quickly and usually with a damp rag. I use the spray bottle too. And I'll go the distance when I want to really start fresh, disassembling everything to the frame and going through it all. That's the real way to clean a bike!
But for "everyday" cleaning- DON'T! Don't clean your bike after every ride. If you really feel you need to, just DON'T! Your bike will thank you and you can continue to LOVE THE BIKE YOU RIDE!
Race Report by Brooke McFerren, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team.
Sea Otter Classic XC Race 2017 (Women Cat-2 40-49)
Springtime means wildflowers, warm weather and the Sea Otter Classic!! Peter and I were fortunate to be able to travel to Sea Otter this year after a one-year hiatus. We arrived in nearby Salinas early Friday morning, grabbed a few zzzz’s and a free breakfast, and headed over to the venue at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for a look around and a pre-ride of the course. Both Peter and I decided to race the shorter Cat 2 XC course this year, which consisted of roughly 20 miles and 3000 ft of elevation. We immediately noticed some course changes from the last time we raced Sea Otter two years ago. A nasty cross-traffic area was eliminated, there was an awesome beach sand downhill surf-a-thon about 5 miles in, and an endless slightly uphill fire road section about 16 miles in. Most of the course was similar to what we had experienced in the past however, meaning uphill singletrack, some speedy asphalt descents, a few tricky gravel climbs and endless gorgeous scenery. The main take-aways from the pre-ride for me were clearing the beach sand descent efficiently (lightening the front end, using momentum, and letting the bike do what it wants) and using the narrow “clean” line during the steep, loose gravel climbs. I also decided my main strategy would involve quick recoveries and blasting down any descent I could find, since the uphill singletrack sections would likely be full of traffic. I felt confident in my conditioning and training since I had thankfully been healthy and able to train the last month.
by Brandon Olson, Technician & Mechanic at The Path Bike Shop
The Rockshox Reverb is one of the best feeling dropper seat posts in the industry. It's adjustable hydraulic lever provides a smooth, reliable feel that allows for almost unconscious use of the component while riding. The Rockshox Reverb is also fully rebuildable. We keep our inventory stocked full of rebuild kits and we also have the ability to upgrade previous generation Reverbs with the newer, upgraded seal kit.
Whether it's resetting the oil level to address a sagging post, bleeding a lever to ensure fast and consistent return speeds, or performing full rebuilds, our technicians at The Path Bike Shop can do it all.
by Brandon Olson, Mechanic at The Path Bike Shop
Here at The Path Bike Shop, we encourage our customers to get their suspension components serviced regularly to ensure proper function. A standard air can service on a rear shock involves partial disassembly, replacing important seals and replenishing the oil within the air can assembly. This can resolve stiction issues, restore small bump compliance and prevent pre-mature malfunctions to the damper mechanism within the shock.
We keep our inventory stocked full of Fox and Rockshox suspension service kits to ensure quick turn around so that you spend more time riding and less time waiting.
Fifth in a five-part series - team manager and four elite racers from The Path Bike Shop Race Team chose their 2017 race bikes, and told us what features they loved and why they chose the bikes they did.
Just Juliana. My bikes for 2017.
I want to start with my thank yous to all who have set me up for a fun year of riding that is to come. Thank you to Lou Mollineda for being such great support at the races. You cheer for everyone and always say the right thing to keep our spirits up. I want to thank my 2017 sponsors, Juliana Bicycles, Speedtune wheels, HT components, Onza Tires, Tustin Brew Co, Ford of Orange, Acumed, and Raceface. Thank you to EVERYONE I work with at The Path Bike Shop for making me suffer on rides, working on my bike, and making me laugh on a daily basis. Thanks to Mike Mautner, our Santa Cruz rep, for letting me bug you till I got my sweet new rig and allowing me to represent Juliana. Lastly I want to thank Tani Walling for continuing to support and allowing me to be a Path ambassador at my own rate and terms.
Race Report by Dylan Vanek, member of The Path Bike Shop Race Team
I remember when I was little my dad told me about the Vision Quest because he raced it right before I was born. Ever since hearing my Dad’s stories about this race, it was my goal to compete in it. When I was 12 years old, we tried to sign up for the Counting Coup, which is a shorter version of the Vision Quest. The Counting Coup is 44 miles with 8,000 feet of elevation gain. In comparison, the Vision Quest is 56.5 miles with 11,000 feet of elevation gain. Unfortunately, the Counting Coup sold out before I could sign up that year. I was very upset. The following year we were successful in signing up for the race. Unfortunately, the race was canceled that year due to weather conditions. The race was set for the next year in October of 2016. In 2016 I was fourteen years old, and I finished in 28th place in the Counting Coup. At the end of that race, I felt like I still had more in the tank, so we decided that next year I would race the Vision Quest, which was scheduled a week after my fifteenth birthday. The day before the race I heard there was a chance of rain, but I was not worried. I continued through my day preparing my bike and creating a nutrition plan for the race. I also planned to wear a ¾ sleeve jersey and baggy shorts in the spirit of enduro! (laughs).
The day of the race I woke up at 4:00 am, giving myself time to eat breakfast and do a final check on my bike before the 5:30 am race start. We left the house at 4:45 am. As we drove to the starting line, it started to rain. Once we I arrived I got dressed in my gear inside the car, and then got out to check my tire pressure before the race started. There was a steady drizzle coming down, and I regretted not bringing a rain jacket. I was certain it would clear up in a couple hours. The thought of a muddy race never crossed my mind.
My race week kicked off with an awesome team training night and some nice mellow rides before heading to Fontana for the 2nd round of the Kenda Cup West!
Race morning I loaded up and headed out to Fontana for the races, wanted to get there early enough to watch young gun Blake Wray in the Cat 1 race! I made it in time to watch him throw down with the older kids and he killed it! After watching him I started to get ready and get going on my warm ups. Since it takes me forever to warm up! Lol
Now was the time to head to the start line and the nerves start kicking in. 30 second count down and it's race time! We take off and I'm trying to stick to my plan of not sprinting too hard off the start, and next thing I know I'm out front! We all start to go at it a little harder and I see my water bottle go flying off my bike! So I decide to calm it down a bit since now I have to run a whole lap with no water! We are all pushing good and we come thru from lap one and I see god... I mean I saw Lou and he handed me a water bottle! Now the fight was on! I ran up front going back and forth with two other guys throughout the race! Now on the last lap on the last gravel road climb I made a move on first and sprinted past him and kept it pinned all the way to the finish! I was able to get the big win there, but by only 3 seconds!
An awesome day racing and I can't thank everyone enough who helps me get here!!
So the 2017 race season has arrived! At least for me it has, and as a great opener to the season Non Dot Adventures puts on a time trial event at Whiting Ranch. However, I was a little hesitant about participating in this race this year. I suffered a bad fall in December that left me with a broken nose and serious neck pain, and followed that up with a nasty sinus infection. That combined with the unusually rainy weather left my training with something to be desired-as in non-existent! In addition, I was graduating from school the day before the race, so I wasn’t sure how prepared I’d be the morning after! But thankfully the last few weeks before the race my health came roaring back, daylight savings time gave me sunshine to train, and the weather cooperated. I was able to get some good training in and felt energized and excited by the time race day rolled around.
The Whiting Ranch Time Trial is a great event to kick off the year. As always the event was well attended and well organized by Non Dot Adventures. It was so fun to see everyone again in our little XC racing community, especially my fellow Elite Women competitors. Quite a few Path Bike Shop Race Team members were there racing and the support from the Path was fantastic (mmmmm doughnuts!!).