Saturday, February 18, 2017

Diamondback Recoil Upgrade - Air Shock

Last year, 2016, my son started mountain bike racing. Previously he'd done road racing with the FFKR jr. devo team up in Salt Lake City. He'd attended a couple of their training camps and got interested in cyclocross (CX) and even took state points leader in his age group in the 2015 fall racing season.

Dallin at the awards banquet for 2015 UTCX

For 2016 he decided to race Mountain Bike at the Lone Peak High School registered with the Utah High School Cycling League and NICA. I decided to become a NICA certified coach, and passed the requirements for the Ride Leader position. This has been upgraded to Level Two Coach for 2017. More on that later though.

The team was sponsored by Fezarri and we decided to get him a Wasatch Peak hardtail at the team discount. I found a really good deal on a Diamondback Recoil full suspension bike and ordered it. It
was heavy, somewhat clunky, but it would get the job done.

Diamondback Recoil 27.5

Now, I'd been a roadie for a good 40 years. Seriously. No kidding. In my wild teen years in California I'd hooked up with a friend who introduced me to sweet light brazed lug double butted tube construction. I was hooked. Over the years I ended up as a bicycle commuter, hitting 150 mile weeks regularly. So now this big knobby tire thing. Argh!

Pretty soon after getting it, even on the light duty trails we ran with the beginner team I was in charge of, it became apparent that at my weight the rear spring, a coil-over design similar to a dirt bike but without the hydraulics, wasn't working out as nicely as I'd hoped.

Spring Coil - stock on Diamondback Recoil
I dug around on Amazon and found an air shock replacement from Asia that was way less than the "American" counterparts that you usually think of when imagining the perfect rear air suspension on a mountain bike. I won't name names. Like less than $80. The ratings for the DNM Rear Air Shock were good, so I measured my spring shock to verify the fit and ordered it.

The inner diameter and width of the supplied bushings was slightly off, so I pressed them out (tough, but doable with a clamp and threaded hex head bolt) and used the Diamondback bushings, which fit perfectly in the shocks.

The hardest part was holding the rear triangle up in place while holding the end of the shock in place, while threading the bolt through while keeping the bushing centered. Alone. Fortunately I had a good Bikehand Pro Mechanic Bike Stand to hold the bike in place at waist level while working on it.

The DNM shock included a fairly readable manual to let you know what pressures to load the main and rebound cylinders with, and I messed around with it for about a half hour to get the bike to settle in at the right pressure.

Total time for this was about 3 hours, while answering the phone, checking email, verifying a thing or two on Youtube, etc. You could probably do it in an hour or less without the messing about.

NEXT: Derailleur replacement. Drat.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Training Program Adjustment Phase Explained - Hikercize

One thing a lot of canned training programs skip or gloss over is the "Adjustment Phase" which is one short cycle, 3 to 6 weeks, during which you adjust from Non-Training Life to Training Life.

Check out the video for more, and how we address this issue in Hikercize at

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Quick 15 in a cold garage

Had a little less than an hour in between getting home from work and having to drop my daughter off at gymnastics so I decided to squeeze in a 15 mile trainer ride. Mostly for my son (MTB racer) I set up a Cannondale CAD8 on a Kinetic Trainer in the garage, and since he's about 5" shorter than I, I can make do with his seat height.

We have a Wahoo Blue cadence/speed pod, Which works well enough on a Suunto Ambit2, but is twitchy on the Ambit3. So I installed the Wahoo Fitness App, and it worked great. It paired to the Bike Pod right off, and with a little finagling, to the Suunto HR strap/sender. The Bluetooth scanning/pairing process required Location Services to make the connection to the Suunto Pod, but once connected, I could turn off the GPS. Hate to stay stuck still at the coordinates of the garage now.

It was about 50, which is the best I can hope for without running a heater 24/7, but I wore just bib shorts, because I knew I'd be getting pretty hot by the time I was finished. And I was right.

I had about an hour tops, between getting home from work and having to run my daughter to gymnastics training, so I pushed hard to maintain a high cadence, high speed cruise to attempt to get in at least 15 miles in that hour. I kept it in middle ring front, 3rd cog back, for most of the ride, pushing it to the smallest cog for a few minutes while holding onto that > 90 RPM cadence. That was tough, and I worked back down to the 3rd cog.

I wrapped up at 55:04 with 15.19 mi. According to Strava that's 16.6 MPH average. Pretty Swag, as my 13 year old says.

I'm a NICA certified Level 2 High School Mountain Bike Coach, and am in training to keep up with the JV's this year. That's 3 laps (about 15 miles on most courses) generally middle-packers doing 24 minute laps. I figure the headwind-like resistance of the Kinetic will get me in shape for the season when it starts in July.

Check out my 15.2 mi Ride on Strava:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hiking in Crampons with My Son

We're plotting a Rainier climb later this year, hopefully my fourth summit, but my 16 year old son wants to climb it, so I have him in training. I've got him on the Stairmaster at 45 steps per minute with a weighted backpack for an hour a few days a week. In the big scheme of things, that's probably the best workout I can have him do.

Training MTB in the foothills of Mount Timpanogos

He's been in bicycle racing for several years now, and has a good cardio base. In 2015 he was the state points champion for his age division with Utah Cyclocross (UTCX). Right now he's racing for his local high school mountain bike team. I'm a NICA certified Level 2 volunteer coach for his team, which has been greatly rewarding in so many ways.

Selfie belaying Todd and Dallin simul-climbing at Ouray Ice Park
Our Rainier plan evolved at a recent ice climbing trip to Ouray with our good friend Todd Gilles. Todd has been wanting to climb Rainier with me for a few years now, and has been with me for several winter Colorado 14er ascents as well as our one-day ascent of Orizaba (highest volcano in North America) and our performance in a blizzard at Elbrus Race 2013 (Todd finished 3rd, I finished 5th).

Selfie on Stairmaster Stepmill with weighted vest
So while he's been on the Stairmaster and making some good progress adapting to the pack, I thought I'd take him out for a hike uphill and down wearing glacier crampons and double boots. He climbed in Ouray in double boots since his feet have outgrown the singles he'd inherited from me. So yeah, time to inherit some doubles from me too. They climbed good and he was fine hiking in Ouray for short distances, so time to try something longer.

Selfie, headlamps, winter scenery
I fitted him out with some BD Sabretooth clips (bail toe and heel). I used my Grivel Airtech Racing aluminums. Yeah, they should be fine on Rainier. I've been all over the world in them including the summit of Orizaba (in running shoes btw). I was in Scarpa Phantom 6000, and he was in LaSportiva Spantiks. We tossed some climbing rope in our packs for weight and took off up the road from Tibble Fork Reservoir toward Silver Lake. The plan was to attempt to average 2 MPH, get used to the crampons and pack, get used to one trekking pole, get used to darkness and headlamps. I've been there a time or two, but needed to see how he would do.

Would have been 4 if not for the moose!
He's been on the summit of a few winter Colorado 14ers, so I knew he had some winter hiking skills, but always in Sorels and snowshoes, not mountain boots and crampons. We did actually do fine, and made our time goals in spite of a few bathroom stops and waiting out snowmobiles around a blind corner. Then, the moose. What? Yeah, a moose. I guess the construction had interfered with the normal feeding patterns down at the lake, so we had a young, maybe 2 year old, moose in the middle of the road just about a half mile from the end of the road above the parking lot.

Color/light adjusted to make out the MOOSE

Original moose in the darkness

It's really hard to see in that pic. Dang Samsung S5 doesn't shoot well in darkness. We stopped in the road and waited him out, but suddenly he decided to charge us. We ducked out to the right, which was about a "blue ski run" steepness and he kept going up the road, having defeated us. It was a great story we shared with friends and relatives for days.

Snowshoe in a Snowstorm

Went for a trail run and ended up snowshoeing instead. It was a gorgeous day up American Fork Canyon in Utah County in spite of the near white-out conditions. More at

Friday, January 6, 2017

Trail Running Resolution: Out The Door

I was reading a fun New Year Resolution article on Trail Runner Mag and was inspired to offer my own take on them here for us all, myself included. I'm about as guilty as all of you of violating each of these.

Out The Door In 5 Minutes

Set a timer on your cell if you have to. Get in the habit of diving into your clothes and shoes and running out the door.

If you're like most people, myself included, way too many times you get distracted getting dressed. Some people worry about color coordinated outfits. Others about heat and cold issues. Some waffle about what shoes to wear that day.

Sometimes, even once you're dressed and ready you'll suddenly remember a call or email you need to return. Or you pass the kids watching Pokemon on TV and have to stop to watch your favorite episode. Seriously?

What to do?

6 Tips To Get Organized:

  1. Your watch is always charged and right where you always get dressed along with any straps and transmitters or pods.
  2. Your clothes are clean and folded or hung on hangers or hooks in weather-appropriate groupings.
  3. Your shoes are racked neatly, cleaned, laces untied and tongues spread in rotation order or terrain groupings.
  4. You've checked the weather and decided well in advance where you are going to plan your clothing and shoes correctly.
  5. Previous to take-off time you've made sure you are properly fed and watered.
  6. Everyone in the family knows that you will be back to family-mode when you return and clean up.

Your Turn:

Those are a few of my "Out the door in 5 minutes" tips. Do you have any to share? Can you resolve to get better at utilizing your precious pre-run time better? Let me know.