Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Young Guns finish 'cross

Photo by Young Guns Teammate Patrick Means - See Gallery:

The 2011 came to a close in Bend, OR this last weekend accompanied by raucous crowds three rows deep and a rad 'cross course through the Old Mill District. Sean, Alice and I(and Erik, too) gave it one more go...actually, that does not apply to Sean, who is currently on his way to Europe 'Cross Camp after a strong 14th place finish at Nationals, and several top 15 finishes throughout the 2010 season (Cyclingnews Article: Be sure to check out his results on Cyclingnews through the Holiday season. Way to go Boobs for a breakout season on the National Cyclocross tour and on being selected to the 'cross camp crew. He is one of four elite men and several other U-23 and Junior riders selected to compete against the world's best.

Alice and I, on the other hand, are done racing until next year. I'm hoping to do lots of skiing. probably going to try to fix her car, Ol' Red, who gave us an entertaining spell of coolant leakage, black smoke and steaming on the drive back to Portland. Alice had a solid race in Bend, nearly finishing 11th before a crash set her back to 14th (still great). There was an inappropriate dearth of blogging these last several weeks, inappropriate on account of not exclaiming Alice's amazing 6th place finish at the USGP in Fort Collins this November.

Alice owning it...

I totally surprised myself with a 12th place finish on Sunday. I've never done that well in a 'cross race, much less at Nationals. I think I finished in the 50s last year and got lapped...same with the year before that. It was all thanks to learning from Sean and Erik how to race my 'cross bike. A good way to cap off the 2010 season.

Talking with Erik after coming across the line...

Mom & little brother Michael post race:

running the barriers at the USGP Finals in Portland, OR the weekend prior:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

trail blazin'

On one of the last weekends before the snow started to fly in the Cascades, my housemate Sarah and I ventured south to explore some new trails just south of Randle, WA. As proud as I was of myself for scoping out the ride on new trails, I couldn't believe I was only just discovering this area as a place to mountain bike. The area around Blue Lake is primarily a moto destination, but the potential for mountain biking is huge. The trails are not easy by any means. We plowed through 9000' of climging in just 30 miles. It was like backcountry ski tour meets mountain bike ride. In a day when shuttling has become the norm, it felt like somewhat of a novelty to spend 7 hours earning the downhill the hard way. There were so many exquisite details about the ride, all adding up to an unforgettable day. It finished with 8 miles of eye-watering fast, religious experience good downhill straight to the car. A Saturday well-spent. The biggest highlight of the day was that Sarah, having only started mountain biking this spring, piloted her new Kona Kula Deluxe all the way and was ready to come back for more! Most people with four times her experience would not even attempt what she did. Can't wait to go explore this place next season.

On top of Juniper Peak

Kona 120 Supreme, shredding

...and speaking of shredding...

my MOM did her first 'cross race ever on a mud filled day at PIR. Mom, I'm so proud, I don't even know where to start. Here she is mashing the run-up:

Watch out, she's fast, and she even got on the news!

In other news, I've been hitting the cyclocross scene, starting with the Boulder Cross Cup this last Halloween weekend in CO. That's Tonkin chasin' me down. He couldn't catch me on Saturday, but he got be back on Sunday. After a good break from serious racing and training after worlds, I'm looking forward to 'Cross Nationals in Bend, and hopefully nabbing some UCI points in the meantime.

Muddy day at PIR Cross Crusade. 3rd place after a broken seat clamp on the 2nd lap.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

World Championships 2010, Mt. St. Anne, Quebec

There it was. The 2010 MTB season. World Championships in Mt. St. Anne Quebec was business like any other race, with all these years of racing and learning to make me feel confident and focused on the race. But it was still my first elite World Championships, and there was an undeniable sense of thrill the whole time I was in Mt. St. Anne. After a week of recovery from Windham, practice on the course and getting to know the US Team, I was ready for go-time on Saturday morning.

I started on the last row of 84 riders, race plate #76. My adrenaline had already kicked in before I rolled up to the start line. Hurricane Earl had blown into town, making for a wet and foggy morning.

We would complete two start laps (nearly 2/3 or a lap) followed by 6 full laps. I would have to stay within 20% of the leader's pace in order to complete the race. At Windham, after cramping badly on the last lap, I finished 13% down. Still, the slippery and much steeper and technical course at Mt. St. Anne would make this very hard. I knew that as soon as the gun went off, my strategy would be all about keeping my head up and making up as much ground as I possibly could. The crowd was screaming and slamming on the course banners as the clock ticked down to the start. The melee ensued as soon as the gun went off. It was cyclocross mode for the first start lap. By taking the creative running lines followed by fast accelerations back onto the bike, I gained nearly 30 positions in the first 8 minutes of the race. I was glad to by riding on 120mm of suspension on my Kona 120. By the end of the second start lap, I could hear people yelling that I had moved up into the top 40. Not sure if their count was right, but either way, I had gained a lot of ground.

Things were less frantic after completing the first full lap. By looking at the clock, I was maintaining a position around the top 50. The climbs were steep insanely hard. I ran a 1x9 setup with a 32t ring up front. It was easy enough to turn the pedals over, but the pace was full gas in order to not lose time. After that, any bobble on the technical single track cost precious seconds. It was a wild balance of riding at the limit without wasting energy, staying smooth and focused ahead. Everything was ticking. It seemed like a top 50 was definitely in the cards.

Then my rear tire found something sharp and slashed wide open. My heart sank. All the air rushed out and I had to leap off the bike before rolling off the rim. The cut was too big for the Stan's sealant to manage, and also too big to hold a tube in...even with a gel wrapper to line it. This was all a fast assessment trailside. I knew I would need a new wheel to keep riding. I was over a mile from the pit. All that was left to do was run as hard as I could. Even while running I remained as focused as before, but people were blowing by me. 5, 10, 15, 20. Soon I was dead last. I got a new wheel and jumped back on, my legs pretty gassed from the sustained run. I never gave up, but I knew my chances of finishing were done. I fell well outside the 20% margin during the run and was pulled. The race was over faster than it had started. It was a bittersweet way to end, but that's mountain biking.

Regardless, it was still the race of my life. Having everything come together to finish on the leader's lap would have been icing on the cake. Had I stayed in the race, I am confident I could have done so, finishing in the top 50. Based on the progression of this last season, and the fact that Worlds had been such a pipe dream coming into 2010, the biggest success of that day was that I made it to the race, and that I held my own while I was in it. My family and friends were there and took the torch for best cheering squad. They even got their photo in Velonews:

Thank you to everyone, family, friends, Team S&M, Kona Bikes, Ridgeline Energy, Team Keller Rhorback, Stan's NoTubes, and more who have been a part of such an amazing season. Here are some more pics from the trip. Can't wait to see you all soon. Looking forward to some R&R and 'cross season.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Windham World Cup

All the major elements came together on Saturday for a fairly solid day on the race course. The gun went off for the elite men at 2:00pm. Starting 100th out of 102 starters was hectic, but nothing beyond expected. By the end of the first lap I had moved up into the high fifties, or so I was told by people counting riders going by. It had been almost two years since I had competed in an international event, and even with several big domestic races under my belt this year, World Cup level is still different. There is such a higher percentage of high caliber riders at the start line of a World Cup, you can't ever give an inch.

In the US, it's common to spend a large percentage of an off-road race in no-man's land, whether you are out front or tailing from behind. In a World Cup, you are almost always surrounded by riders, always a chance to pass or be passed. Starting in the back puts you at a disadvantage from the start, as the riders up front (who are already the fastest) have a clear track in front of them, whereas the riders in back experience the cattle-herd effect once the course enters the first section of trail. I lost 2.5 minutes on the first lap, almost half of which was spent standing or walking my bike through a clogged section of the course. It all opened up by the second lap, and I focused on moving up as far as I could. My goal was to finish top 50 on the leaders lap, and at least as the seventh American to prove my position as one of the elite team members for Worlds. Several riders experienced flat-tire misfortune on the first lap, including Amerians Adam Craig and Todd Wells. Going into the fifth of six laps I was the fifth American, somewhere near the high 40s. I felt strong and consistent until the last lap, about 2min slower per lap than the leaders. It was enough to finish definitively on the leaders lap, but I started to experience strong leg cramps on the last time up the climb and was an extra two minutes slower. ouch! With World's in mind the next weekend, I did not want to induce any unnecessary leg damage. Carl Decker caught me at the very top and I followed him in through the finish. 54th on the day. I'd give the day a B+. I'm not sure what I could have done to avoid the leg cramping, but I think a finish closer to the top-40 would have been more satisfying. Regardless, I have never finished on the leaders lap in a World Cup. I've always been lapped before finishing, so at least now I have a home-base performance margin.

More pictures to come. Today was the first practice day up at Mt. St. Anne. It felt great to pull on the USA kit for the first time. Kept things extra entertaining with a severely taco'd front wheel - result of avoiding a rider who fell right in front of me on a steep descent (pic to come). Opening ceremonies tonight, and a week of practice before the big race on Saturday. Looks like rain is coming.

Best friends ever! There was a huge crew that came out to cheer on Saturday's race. l-r Sage, Lizzy, Will H, Will C, me, Joe, Scott, Caitlin, Emmy/Dooky. Thanks everyone! My dad and Will C's parents were also at the race. Will C's parents cooked up a delicious feast after the race, served tail-gate style.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

getting things started in Windham

Arrived late Wednesday night in Albany, NY. This is the longest break I've taken from working at Ridgeline ( since I started two years ago, but thanks to the amazing support and encouragement from my supervisors and colleagues (and doing my best to finish up any loose ends before leaving), it is a well-timed and welcome break.

August 28th - World Cup Series Finals, Windham, NY
September 4th, World Championships, Mt. St. Anne, QC (the big one)

I'm on site for the first race of the trip, the World Cup Series Finals in Windham, NY. It's the first time a World Cup has been in the US since Angel Fire, NM in 2005. The elite men XC is on Saturday. I'm starting #100 out of 124 riders. The climbs should favor passing, but it will be a challenge. For the last two years this race has been part of the US Cup series, so the course is familiar.

The Windham race will be good prep for World Championships in Mt. St. Anne the following weekend. It's been over a year since I've competed in an international event, so having a chance to experience the intensity of a World Cup before racing in the big one will be good. I got the long plane flight out of my legs today with a spin on the road, and am looking forward to testing out the course tomorrow. The dirt should be tacky and fast. The Kona 120 is all ready to go, and recently perked up with a new set of wheels from Stans NoTubes. Thank you Stans!! ( They feel very fast. For those who care, Stan's products are the industry standard for tubeless tire technology, not to mention a great product for the privateer racer. I don't have to worry anymore about finding an air compressor to get my tires seated. That's nice when you don't travel with the perks of a factory team.

This shot is from last weekend which I spent with the whole family up on Lopez Island, WA. The last family photo I posted was almost complete, but this time my brother Adam was able to fly out from Boston and we got him out on the bike, too! It's rare and special when all six of us can be in the same place. A great weekend of r&r before the big trip.

More to come....thanks for reading.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Worlds???!!! This time last year the whole idea seemed kind of improbable. Even until May of this year, it still seemed like a long shot. But now it's real. The full time job, a full National racing calendar, and now Worlds is happening. Erik says it was the 6hrs of Skibowl Race where he noticed a turning point. After that weekend at Mt. Hood, I felt a hint of real possibility after getting 14th at the Pro XCT in Wisconsin, but the first real sign for me was the Pro XCT Finals in Colorado Springs where I finally got my first top-10 in the XC, 9th overall on the weekend, and sealed 8th overall in the series. Nationals the following weekend returned to Sol Vista, and instead of feeling intimidated by the pressure to improve on last year's performance, I felt calm and focused. I feel best at the big races. Somehow the big pressure has a fortifying effect. By the time I had moved into 7th on the last lap, I felt like I was floating. I was racing smart, and I could feel all of the lessons I've learned from Erik over the years playing out, all the motivation from being part of such a great squad of people on the S&M crew, all of the support that has helped to make it what it is. It felt great to finish so far up wearing the Orange and Blue. Erik came in behind me in 16th despite his lingering broken ribs, and the one-and-only Sean Babcock pulled off an impressive 19th. Pretty damn good for a guy in his "off season".

Since Nationals, everything has felt in a slightly new realm. I have that feeling of satisfaction but without the complacency that often comes with the notion of "I made it". Finishing 7th at Nationals, and subsequently being selected to the National Team for World Championships, has kicked me into a new gear. If anything, setting my sites higher from this point is more humbling than anything. I have nowhere NEAR "made it." I've just been kick-started into a new phase. I'll try to be better about posting the events of the next few weeks. I'm heading out to New York on the 25th for World Cup Finals in Windham, NY, and after that, up to Mt. St. Anne for Worlds. I'll be sure to put in a good one for all of us full-time jobbers and privateer bike racers.

In other news, this last weekend the Paxson family did an amazing ride in the Gorge with my family. It was a monster 100 miles and 10,000' of climbing as part of a Northwest Sarcoma Foundation fundraiser. My mom, a sarcoma survivor, did the whole thing in amazing form, and I'll never forget cresting the top of 7-mile hill with her next to me at the 85-mile mark. My dad Fred, sister Emily, and brother Michael also did the big ride. Thank you to everyone who donated to the cause.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

here comes the throwdown...

For all the race reporting that has been neglected lately, suffice it to say, there have been many good weekends of pedal-biking to prep the 'Guns for this coming weekend's 6-Hours of SkiBowl. It's exciting for several reasons, not to mention the convergence of around 40 Team S&Mers, riding a very rocking mtb race venue (even if we don't get to ride the Gnar Gnar this time)...hopefully in the sun...putting the hurt on Erik (even if it doesn't really count because he's been "off his bike" for the last month...Sean and I still aren't sure if we can trust him on these accounts...for all we know he may have been locking himself in the basement late at night, pedaling the trainer in his hockey jersey and pounding Milwaukee Beast while listening to Slayer and Alice Cooper, preparing to unleash the wrath of the Old Guard on the Young Guns come this weekend...we'll see.

So whatever Erik has been secretly doing to prepare for this weekend, hopefully the 'Guns have done enough of their own. Here are some notable events since Sea Otter which I believe have prepared me well for the 6 Hours of SkiBowl

Olympic View Road Race (actually the weekend before Sea Otter) - 90 miles, flat with one punchy climb each lap, Luke and I were feeling dumb and spry enough to spend 50 miles drilling at the front, led the whole field through a sketchy traffic jam into the final sprint, and at the end I found out I did it all with a seized BB...

Lunchbox Laboratory - an epic burger establishment located in Seattle which serves, among MANY other customizable meaty sandwich concoctions, the "Husky", a heaping 3/4lb burger towering with LITERALLY 6" of bacon and onions...I finished my in one relaxed sitting WITH a large malted milkshake

Cherry Bear - or whichever combination of Cherry Blossom and Bear Springs one may combine. This was also the weekend of my mom's 50th Bday party. Packing it all in to one weekend will make 6-hours of anything feel like no biggie

Dirty Dozen MTB Race, Port Gamble, WA - Got in 6 hours on my mtb. Rode my mountain bike from Seattle up to the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry, and from there up to Port Gamble, where there was a 30 miles mtb race. It was Russel Stevenson and I shredding 26 miles of non-stop frenetic singletrack. After the race I rode all the way home, for 80 miles total.

Mellow Johnny's Classic - Dripping Springs, TX - traveled with Alice P and stayed in a beautiful mansion in Texas hill country. Inside the mansion was much more comfortable than the heat outside, which was so oppressive during the race that I felt like I was experiencing heat-induced claustrophobia...while trying to careen my way from the back of the field on narrow singletrack after not getting a call-up...which may have been why I ran into a tree at one point...and burped most of the air out of my front tire...was it just an excuse to feel the cold CO2 as I refilled it, only to have the same tire burp again massively after the pit on the 3rd lap. I had run out of air and nursed a 10psi tire halfway around the course to the next pit, where I filled up and finished strong. I mustered a 13th that day despite the mishaps.

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic - The best part was the stage held in Trout Lake, plus getting to ride six days around the homefront. Here are the other things in the MHCC that prepared my character for SkiBowl: During the slippery Tabor Crit the day before, I had been telling myself "just stay upright and don't crash out JUST to get to the start of the Trout Lake stage...even if your bike breaks before you leave Trout Lake Valley"...I got what I wished for. I made it safely to the TL stage, everyone cheering, and then in neutral rollout someone ran into my back wheel and ripped out a bunch of spokes (studio fade trumpet fanfare to sad trombone noise). Then, by some poor reasoning, I proceeded to eat as if I was in a short mountain bike race - 1 sports gel every 35 minutes or so...BONKKKKK. dumb. On Saturday's Queen stage I got a front flat descending into Wamic at 45mph...lost the main field. On Sunday's Hood River Crit, with 4 to go, moving to the front, my chain snapped. But it was still all fun.

looking forward to SkiBowl.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

sea oughthurt

Whereas Fontana was a good opportunity to compare last year's performance, this year's Sea Otter offered no such assessment. Instead of the more epic 35 mile, 2.5+ hr race, this year's course took us (Alice, Sean, Erik, and myself) on multiple fast laps around the Laguna Seca campus - pretty road-racey.

The only thing identical to last year was the amazing bike circus that existed at the Laguna Seca Raceway. Luckily the temperature was more reasonable, at around 75. Sean and I hung out with towels on our heads in the feed zone during Alice's race, holding bottles at the ready when she came by. She ended up 16th in her race and looked focused and strong every time she rolled up the hill through the feed zone.

In the men's race, the lineup was big and talented, with some World Cup stars making their single regular season appearance in the US. The field was somewhere around 120strong, and rolled out like a huge wobbly mob along the racetrack before cramming onto the first bumpy grass climb. The movement of the field was somewhat unpredictable on the twisty race track, even though it was wide enough for a B-52 to land on. I somehow got myself shat out too far to one side of the field just before entering the tight turn onto the dirt, and saw my relatively good position roll away in a cattle herd of 100 other riders. At that point I could only do my best to deal with the crappy situation I had put myself in, somewhere in the 60s. It was immensely frustrating, cause I knew the race was going to be short and fast, and not an easy one to ride away on a solo effort. After the first lap, Sean and I rode together most of the day in a group of around 20 riders. After last year's bonkfest, we were trying to ride more intelligently, using the draft of the group across the long pavement sections and riding to the front on the dirt. Our group swallowed some riders who were ahead, gained some who caught up from behind, and dropped others but still remained at about 18 by the last lap. Erik had, no surprise, commanded a good position through the start of the race and had been riding somehwere within the top 15 or top 20 for the first half of the race...typical remarkable form for the under-trained ET, also not much of a surprise there...but still awesome. Sean and I came by Erik as he began to fade with two or so laps to go. I spent my race concentrating on doing the best I could with the position I had put myself in at the botched start. As I saw how little was to be gained by trying to solo away for the rest of the race, I decided to stick with our group which was moving at a reasonable pace. It felt smart, albeit conservative. That's why it felt more like a road race. On the last lap I felt very focused, and positioned myself for the sprint I knew would ensue after the last paved turn. Not being much of a sprinter, I managed second in the group, taking 27th on the day. Sean had come off the front edge of the group, but was not far behind me in 35th. Erik rolled in a bit later in 56th. I feel ambivalent about my result - like I raced well, but I didn't spend the race where I should have been. Ultimately, it has me motivated for a strong performance in Texas at the end of May. Until then...Bear Springs weekend...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

some spring rides

some young-guns happenings of recent spring weekends...

dragged ol' Luke out for a wet afternoon at the Syncline awhile back

drive back to seattle

I joined the Keller Rhorback cycling team for road racing in Seattle. new neon green look

hosted Luke and some of his Bellingham friends for the Volunteer Park Crit and Olympic View RR weekend...apartment still smells like a bike shop...actually, it never didn't smell like a bike shop

Puke Lennington

Sunday, March 28, 2010


No season opener is fit without a fresh mixtape. If you think race reports are more boring than music, then all I can offer you at the moment are a few albums that I checked out on my trip to the first big race in Fontana this weekend:

'Ambivalence Avenue'- Bibio
'Swim'- Caribou
'Black Sands'- Bonobo
'Crystal Castles' - Crystal Castles
'Psychic Chasms' Neon Indain

Race report:
The scene at Fontana this year was quite similar to last - first big off-road event of the season, same techy course, same nice warm weather, same hotel...The starting line-up was 18 riders shy of last year's numbers, with a similar spectrum of talent (but with more Canadians it seemed). Having all of these similar variables was a good thing, because aside from having a solid race at Fontana, I wanted to have a good comparison to my performance from last season. I felt more confident this year having put more time on the bike. In summary, 2010 is off to a better start. I ended the day in 21st (11th American) 11:24 behind the leader, whereas last year I finished 36th (26th American), 18:30 back.

I've done a few road races so far in 2010, but none of them have offered the same rush as the start of an off-road event. There was a hectic, 30-second start-loop at Fontana this year, followed by the same fast fire-road into absurdly steep climb into techy descent...all said, don't f#%@ it up in the first 3 min of the race or you'll get get caught in energy-wasting traffic. Suddenly, cyclocross nationals in Bend didn't feel so far away. Looking ahead into a sandpit before the first climb I could see riders fumbling slowly, frantic-lemming mode onto the otherwise fast rock line, so I preemptively dismounted and ran through the outside of the sand, gaining 6 places that I didn't have to worry about again. At that point, I was sitting in 19th, with Barry, Sneddon and Ryan close ahead. The first lap went by smoothly (besides the start), and I focused positively on the four laps ahead. With a steady pace I gained another three spots going into the second lap, now in 16th. For laps 2 through 3, I focused on riding consistently and focused (though I felt confident, I didn't want to induce another overzealous blowup like the beginning of last season). At the beginning of the 4th lap, Canadian Peter Glassford caught me on the windy paved climb, and I was beginning to feel my strength fade. I grabbed his wheel through the singletrack climb but lost him just before the top. That's when I may have slipped for a bit off my good form both physically and mentally. By the end of the lap (17th), I could see a group of 4 closing on me. I held them off up the last steep climb. They caught me on the pavement, and at that point I slowly began to lose them in the headwind. It was a painful four spots to lose, especially because it came at the end of the race. I pushed myself as best I could to the finish, feeling spent. It was a good race, except for the last 20 minutes.

Overall, I am happy with the outcome. I'll take this weekend's shortcomings as motivators, and focus on making a positive trendline from this point onwards. It's good to be starting considerably ahead of last year. Looking forward to the longer daylight and the opportunity to finally get solid mid-week riding after leaving the office. Looking forward to Sea Otter...

Monday, March 8, 2010

new setup

On Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 12:31 AM, Spencer wrote:

from Spencer Paxson
to Sean Babcock
cc Erik Tonkin
date Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 9:01 PM
subject bike review

Hey Sean -

What ensues is a total nerd sesh about riding the new 120:

Bottom line, the bike is suhWEET. I went on about a three hour ride (a.k.a. Shred Mish) at Tokul, east of Seattle. The rain held off and the trails were in surprisingly good condition, especially the one with bras clipped around every tree trunk...I hope the trail is named actually named 'Boobs'...dude, you are totally destined to ride it! In addition to the brassiere-adorned trees, my overall experience with the bike was positive...schrepic to be exact. I took my time to make the fit adjustments I needed, and was able to test the bike on a medley of terrain (a.k.a. gnar) - fast, flowing singletrack, techy rock gardens, steep climbs, long gravel road climbs, sketchy chunder chutes, tight switchbacks up and down, slippery roots, and some jumps or course. I felt that the bike excelled (a.k.a. schralped!) in all situations, except maybe for uphill switchbacks...but that could have been me sucking or staring at trees with boobs. I had my fork at 85psi and the shock at 140psi (I weight around 160 these days). I'm thinking I could even put it at 150 and it would be better for racing, but after a bit I was having too much fun to pull over and change it.

The 120 is a whole different brew than the King, like an exquisite IPA compared with a hearty Guinness. i.e. it felt much more energetic and swift than the King. The rear end also felt much stiffer and more responsive. Climbing was a breeze with ProPedal turned on, and the travel felt more progressive and supple than the King when I ran the shock soft on descents. In turns, the bike carves through the apex without getting skittish or nose heavy, and the rear end is stiff enough to really lean the bike into a power-slide, then grab like a sharp ski edge as you exit the turn. I was running a 90mm stem and appreciated the agility of the shorter wheelbase on the 18" frame, as well as the lower center of gravity of the frame design. I think one benefit of the longer travel, among other things, is that it gives the bike the "reach" of a bigger bike (i.e. extension when rolling over drops and rough terrain), but in this case, I didn't notice any sacrifice in agility and snappiness....or weight (the setup is at 25.5lbs right now with XTR could be 25 with XTR crankset...).

As for the drivetrain, the 27/40 provided noticeable extra clearance, and the gear ratio made a lot of sense. On steep climbs and other sections where leg speeed was important, the 27 offered more reasonable gear options that the traditional 32 I've been running. The 40 is plenty big enough for most conditions. Shifting between the two was crisp. For much of the ride, I found myself riding the bike as a two speed, simply changing from big to little ring in front. I was able to do this while maintaining good chainline, and it was that much less to think about. I figure, for the fast, wide open courses where a 32/44 would be better, we'd be racing our hardtails anyway. After riding today, the 27/40 definitely seems ideal for the duallies.

anyway...those are my thoughts. I'm eager to race on the 120. I'm going to make sure that the fit on my hardtail is as close to my duallie as possible...even though the geometries are different.

Hope you've been well lately. You get in any riding yet this weekend? Catch you later.


Monday, March 1, 2010


Two years ago, Erik Tonkin approached Sean Babcock and Spencer Paxson with the open-ended concept of the Team S&M Young Guns – to share their talents, philosophies, and pure love of cycling to develop a platform for the future. Sean had already earned a top-15 finish in the Elite Cyclocross National Championships his second year racing bikes, and Spencer had already competed in the 2006 U23 Mountain Bike World Championships. Enter in fantasies of pursuing the glamorous(?) life of a “professional bike racer”…whatever that means…

To Spencer and Sean, bike racing is fully connected to all aspects of their lives. Sean is earning his degree to pursue a career in nursing, living and studying in Portland, Oregon. Spencer is using his degree in Geographic Information Science working for a wind energy developer in Seattle, WA. They don’t spend their time thinking about bike racing vs. everything else. They simply choose to be bike racers, where racing is treated like the job, albeit the fun one. That means sacrificing time and money for the cause by dialing in the workman-like approach to races, where the default setting is “win”, meaning “ride well”…no matter what. Sean and Spencer set high standards for all aspects of their lives, and when priorities are so connected to one another, achieving big goals amidst the obligations of life requires a dance between passion and logic, sometimes a leap of faith.

The Young Guns cultivated this philosophy of bike racing over the last two years, not solely based on their individual practice, but by learning from and receiving generous support from family and friends. Sean and Spencer are ultimately a product of those who have believed in them. They have proven to themselves and their supporters that their racing is a worthy investment. Their positive trajectory on the racecourse has demonstrated that the goals they set before themselves are fully achievable. Last year, Spencer started the Elite Cross Country National Championships in Colorado aiming for a top-15 and finished 11th. He went on to finish consistently as a top-10 US rider in the country’s premier off-road series. His big goal for 2010 is to qualify for one of seven spots on the US National Team and compete in the Elite Mountain Bike World Championships in Mt. St. Anne, Quebec. Sean’s accomplishments in 2009 included the overall win in the ‘Cross Crusade Series, and an unparalleled performance at the Elite Cyclocross National Championships where he battled from 149th place to finish 23rd. His goal is to claim a top-10 finish at next year’s ‘Cross Nationals, as well as compete on the World Cup ‘Cross circuit in Europe.

...2010 is just upon us. We'll see how we do at recording some of the highlights along the way. Thanks for reading.