Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wayback When-sday: 1988 Ritchey Outback

Welcome to another installment of our semi-regular series on the old bikes that we love, cherish, and keep in our homes daring anyone to label them clutter or junk. Have a bike you want to share? Let us know about it here.

It's been hanging from the rafters in our basement for about 5 years and it has moved all over the country with us. "It" is a 1988 Ritchey Outback mountain bike frame and fork, the mountain bike that my wife, Golden Brainard-Moore started mountain bike racing on for the first time in the late eighties.

What kind of bike are you sharing?

1988 Ritchey Outback, an off road touring bike. Originally equipped with Shimano XT (the first year of indexed shifters, thumbies) with Campy track pedals, campy short toe clips and Binda straps, Selle Italia saddle and I had these great Sidi cyclocross shoes.

Are you the original owner?


How did you come to own the bike?

My boyfriend at the time had worked for Ritchey and he called up some guys he knew and got it for me.

What makes this bike special to you? What memories or special moments do you have associated with this bike?

It was my first nice mountain bike, I basically learned how to ride on it. I did my first race on it. It originally had chainstay u-brakes on it and Tom Ritchey brazed cantilever studs on the seatstays for me. I was given a Bridgestone MB-3 by a shop after this one. I became Expert National Mountain Bike Champion in 1992 or 1993 on the Bridgestone and then turned pro with Fat Chance.

Do you still ride this bike?


*note - Golden retired from professional mountain bike racing in 1999. Her palmares include representing the USA at the Women's Elite Mountain Bike World Championships five times, a win at the NORBA National Series Race at Big Bear, in addition to the rare opportunity to devote yourself to racing your bike and getting paid to do it.

Downtube derailleur cable stops are pretty rare these days...

Ovalized seat tube meets the bottom bracket for added lateral stiffness

Fastback seatbinder with rack braze-ons and cantilever brake cable stop

This frame was tig welded in Taiwan by "Ritchey Trained" builders. 

If you love 'em, you ride the hell out of 'em. That's why it doesn't look immaculate!

Unicrown rigid steel fork

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Love Valley Roubaix

The rain is so light you don't even realize it's there until you turn off the windshield wipers, but the intermittent clicking of sleet on windshield let's you know that it is real out there. Really real. I've got a front row seat to the suffering behind the wheel of the follow car. Riders slapping their hips with their hands trying to pound life and feeling back into them. The former leader sits in the car seat next to me, hunched over double, shivering uncontrollably, a frozen stream of snot hanging from his chin in defiance of the blast of heat being hurled out of the cars vents at him. I'm sweating, Owen is stripped down to t-shirt and sweat pants and still he shivers.

This is the Love Valley Roubaix. Gone is the fear of overheating that some riders had at the start. Gone are the majority of the riders who started this 50 mile jaunt through the Brushy Mountains. They've been left behind in the opening miles by the 7 riders in front of me. The opening climb that came in the first miles of the race was a veritable mine field of shattered dreams as one rider after another exploded spectacularly as the Fox Mountain road tilted up and up and up. Two riders popped from the lead group (including +David Clark ) fell far enough behind on the climb to warrant me passing them and nestling in cozily with the front group that included +Jeff Welch , Sonni Dyer, Reid Beloni, Miles Hubbard, and Dirty Darrel Prillaman.

This rolling sufferfest ground out mile after mile, passing through the odd bit of sunshine and then plunging into fog and so many different kinds of rain that I was able to marvel at the variety of precipitation that pelted the car. This lead group was rejoined by David Clark and another rider who chased back on with some impressive descending on the twisty dirt and gravel roads criss crossed with rivulets of tan water.

I stopped to help a rider fix a flat tire. He expressed simultaneous disappointment and relief at not being able to ride in the lead group any more. He fumbled the tube change with the frozen blocks of wood buried deep in his gloves. I took off to catch back on to the lead group only to find it in tatters on the second long climb of the day. Riders drifted past the car, numbly locked in slow motion heroics as they inched toward the unseen top. I finally caught Reid, his upper body pistoning up and down as he put every bit of strength he had into the pedals. Just ahead of him, Jeff and Darrel spun survival circles in pursuit of Miles dangling just in front of them. Just out of sight rode Sonni Dyer with the aforementioned lead rider some two minutes off the front.

For a good many miles a half-hearted chase was mounted by the group containing 3rd through 6th place. And then the penultimate climb appeared. Darrell chased mightily to catch back on to the group after exchanging gloves with me on the fly in the flat valley road leading up to the climb. He caught just as Reid came untethered from Jeff and Miles' wheels. The Miles set off on his own at the midpoint of the climb and by the three quarter's mark, Darrell had opened an inexorably expanding gap on Jeff. With the exception of the early retirement of the lead rider, this pecking order remained set in stone for the remainder of the race as riders switched from competition mode to survival mode. Each descent was followed by another brutish uphill in some cruel example of why gravity always wins. As we hit the final road, you could see the relief was through Jeff as he realized that the suffering was almost over.

I hadn't been in a follow vehicle for a long time, but my vantage point left no doubt to my conviction to not race this year. It was good seeing many of my racing friends, but today was a day that I did not envy them in the least. No, my weekend ride featured ride companions like this:

And I also got to experiment with riding new roads in a very familiar area by taking a turn that I've passed a thousand times, but never actually taken. Instead of following the road up Goat Hill, I turned right onto the dirt road right in the apex of the turn. It was nice doing something new, riding by myself, and just enjoying being outside in the semi-warmth of newly born Spring. I'm excited about the coming year of riding, surprised on not thinking about racing too much, and yearning for a lasting run of warm weather, clear skies, and bountiful sunshine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It might be about the bike

It struck me over the weekend that I live in an incredible area for cycling. Situated at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, tucked in amongst the Brushy Mountains, and bordered by a large chunk of the Pisgah National Forest, this area enjoys a variety of terrain from rolling hills that help keep a cyclist honest, to long and steep climbs that challenge you until your lungs might burst. The nearby Dark Mountain/Overmountain Victory/Warrior Creek Trail system gives a rich display of the trail builders art for when we hit singletrack. Wilsons Creek Gorge gives shy glimpses of beautiful trail and bigger ride challenges for when you want to put an all day adventure together on the mountain bike. The Blue Ridge Parkway dangles above us, beckoning like a siren, luring you to its beautiful, lung crushing stone. And a tangled web of dirt roads provides ample opportunities for gravel crusher/"Roubaix" style riding when you want to have the joys of a road ride but are looking to take the road much less traveled.

I love exploring all this area has to offer to the two wheeled set. As I was working at the shop Saturday, I caught a glimpse of one of the books we have in our little library. Pausing for a moment, I contemplated the cover. There was Lance Armstrong, looking human and slightly vulnerable, staring out at me from the cover of It's Not About The Bike. I remember reading this book when it first came out, back when I still believed in superheroes. Shortly after reading it, creeping suspicion and doubt started to make the story look tarnished, but there still had to be some substantial amount of credibility to it, but we all know how that turned out. It doesn't do to add insult to injury by parsing the incredible amount of damage that the lies has wrought and continues to wreak in the world of professional cycling. No, what I remembered was how Armstrong talks about coming to Boone and discovering that he still wanted to be a bike racer. It was this area that was transformative to Armstrong. Well, that and an apparently staggering amount of performance enhancing drugs, but let's focus on the transformative powers of this area, shall we?

This area really is that remarkable, but it was a conversation with a friend later on Saturday that really served as an interesting counter to this idea. My friend said that by all rights, Lenoir should be successful. It has so much to offer, not just in outdoor recreation opportunities, but in terms of low cost, a low bar to entrepreneurship, an active community of artists, and it is remarkably beautiful. What he expressed was a conflicted feeling about buying a house here, despite the fact that he really likes it here. He wondered if we are destined to forever be on the verge of taking off, on the verge of being successful.

So if our area is so transformative, why can't we transform our area? I would put to you the idea that we are transforming and we are doing it at an accelerating rate. I see more people moving to Lenoir and the immediate area. Their demographics are the critical 25 to 45 age range. They bring with them ideas and notions of what they want in a place to live from all over the country. Recently, an article in the Lenoir News Topic talked about the area's past, a past when this area was referred to as the Athens of the South. I feel that we are ressurecting that notion of ourselves in a new and fresh way. The litmus test for me of this new concept of Lenoir is the success of +Howard Brewing Company . The very fact that a microbrewery can open and quickly thrive in downtown Lenoir, signals a sea change in attitudes and sensibilities for our area. It's a change that I firmly believe will continue to gain momentum and I'm glad to be a part of it.

You may or may not have heard of our efforts to build a trail in town. I'm happy to say that +Jeff Welch  has been busy laying out the proposed trail route with the head trail builder and progress is coming along nicely. The possibility of having a completed trail in town this season is very real. There will be many opportunities for us to come together as a community and put in some sweat equity on this project as there will be several trail building days to volunteer on. We've also got a few other irons in the fire, but that's a story for another day.

Our Spring Fling open house was our way of trying to bring many disparate parts of our cycling community together in one place to lay out this idea of being more involved in the whole community. If you weren't able to make it, one of the things that we introduced was the +Luna Cycles Google+ Community. This takes the place of our old Yahoo! Groups forum which was revealed to be intimidating from feedback we received on our 2013 Cycling Community Survey. The impression that we were unintentionally giving was of a forum of extremely hardcore racers doing nothing but big miles at fast speeds. This is far from the reality of what we want. The intention is for us to have some centralized place for everyone to be able to put out their ride ideas and try to find others who want to ride with them.

Yesterday, I observed two customers introduce themselves to each other (they had heard of each other but never met). They talked about riding together, one of them mentioned another person who would like to join them for a ride, and then they layed out a semi-complicated plan of communication to attempt to coordinate all three of them riding together. This is exactly what the Google+ community is meant to make easy, this communication and coordination of rides. Put your ride out there, communicate directly with people if you so desire or put your ride out to everyone that might be interested. You might just get more people than you imagined showing up to ride with you!

The point is that when I moved here, I saw lots of people riding, but few of them riding together. There were 3 or 4 people riding together here, 2 or 3 riding together there, but no large group ride. My background is one of large group rides held every week. No one talked about not being fast enough or training for the group ride. The group ride is training. It's fun to push yourself a little harder than you would by yourself. I see lots of people hiring a coach who I think are skipping the vital step of just coming out and doing group rides to get to the next level. The point to all this is that we need to stop thinking "those guys are too fast for me" and "those guys are not as fast as me" and trying to find exactly what shade of gray category of rider we are and finding the other 1 or 2 people who share our shade and riding only with them. Go ride with a group of riders that are slower than you. Do more time on the front at a slower pace. Offer people advice. Teach them to be better, faster, smoother. Then go ride with a faster group. Don't pull; stay in the back. Hold on for dear life, ride 'til your lungs burn and you go slightly cross-eyed. Get dropped. Catch back up at the regroup point (or turn around and catch the pain train again on the Tuesday night ride). All of these things will make you a better, fuller, more active participant in our cycling community. That robust cohesiveness may just be the transformation our cycling community deserves.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

New Bike Stoke 2!

+daren wilz picks up his Gunnar Crosshairs 'cross/gravel grinder bike built with SRAM Rival. Look for this bike at the upcoming Love Valley Roubaix.

2013 Specialized Myka

+maggie jo sime just walked out the door with her new 2013 Specialized!

Bike: 2013 Specialized Myka

Name: Mona

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Wayback When-sday: 1993 Titus FCR

Welcome to the first installment of our semi-regular series on the old bikes that we love, cherish, and keep in our homes daring anyone to label them clutter or junk. Have a bike you want to share? Let us know about it here.

In the furthest recess of the shop, you'll see a small titanium mountain bike frame hanging from a hook on the wall. A large downtube sticker identifies it as a Titus and a smaller sticker on the top tube shows its model designation as FCR.

What kind of back are you sharing? 1993 Titus FCR (Full Custom Racer)

Are you the original owner? Yes

How did you come to own this bike? I was Titus Titanium's first sponsored cross country mountain bike racer. They had a downhiller and me.

What makes this bike special to you? What memories or special moments do you have associated with this bike? It was built to custom specifications for me. I can get on it at any time and it just fits.

Do you still ride this bike? Why or why not? No. It's a 26 inch wheeled bike and it's built around a different suspension fork standard than what is available now.

Please share anything else you would like to about this bike and your experiences with it. It was built originally for cantilever brakes. Titus rerouted the cable stops to accommodate v-brakes. Titus also shaved the bottom of the headtube to accommodate the move from a 63 mm travel Rock Shox Mag 21 Ti to the 80 mm travel Rock Shox SID.

Dropouts were cut with a water jet from Titanium billet. Look kids!
No disc brakes!

Head tube/Down tube gusset added after a crack appeared.



Attribution Some rights reserved by TimothyJ
The group ride season is fast upon us. We are excited to say the least. We have talked about it with anyone who will listen, we have posted an article about it on +Luna Cycles and our Facebook page, we're even having a party to celebrate it. So, yeah, we're excited.

Last night, as I was reading before bed winding down the day, I read a great article in one of my favorite cycling magazines, Bicycle Times. I'm happy to say that we now carry Bicycle Times and it's sister publication, Dirt Rag.

The cool thing about Bicycle Times is that it is just about riding bikes. There isn't a word about professional bike racing and the bikes that they spotlight are usually steel, oftentimes are commuter or cargo type bikes, and weight is never mentioned. No, their focus is on riding for fun, health, and transportation. These are things I look at the bike for as well.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love bike racing. I love racing my bike. I love watching other people much better than me racing bikes. But, my day to day enjoyment of bikes tends to be of the commuter variety, hauling more stuff than I probably should, and focusing on getting from point A to point B. Also, I must frankly and openly state: My name is Shawn and I love steel bikes. Hi, Shawn!

So imagine my surprise when I see my entire training ethos laid bare for all to see in the pages of Bicycle Times. There was a bona fide article about getting fit for racing, but with a severe twist. No mention of heart rate or wattage. No mention of numbers at all. The article was simply about how in order to do better, you had to overextend yourself. It all boiled down to this nugget of wisdom, "Think of it this way: what if you had stopped looking for more challenging reading material at Hop on Pop? You just read Hop on Pop every day for weeks and months and years, expecting to get better at reading, but instead you ended up having the literacy level of a four-year-old... for life. That's how it is with training on the bike: you have to overextend yourself occasionally to have breakthroughs and move forward." (from Boiling the Frog, a Boston Commuter Journal by Thom Parsons, Bicycle Times, Issue 021, pgs. 20-21)

Moving forward this riding season, we have been brainstorming ways to tailor different group rides to different groups of riders. One of the things we will be presenting at our Spring Fling this Saturday is the structure of the weekly group rides. Our goal is to have at least one group ride that suits your ability level, no matter what. However, there will be another group ride each week that will push you to overextend yourself. How about taking on that challenge?