Monthly Archives: July 2014

Kent Eriksen

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I’ve known Kent Eriksen for a real long time now. Since 1984 actually. So that is 30 years I guess. He made the MTB bike I rode to win the first Mountain Bike National Championships in 1983, but I really didn’t know him then. Kent had started Moots and was building steel MTB bike frames. I was pretty much still racing on the road, so I really didn’t have any need for another mountain bike.

Early when I started racing mountain bikes professionally, I got a call from Wheeler Bicycles. They wanted me to ride for them and said that they had commissioned Kent to build something like 300 titanium frames for them. The sponsorship fell through, but Kent got the deal to build the two frames, so he made enough $$$ to buy the equipment necessary to build with titanium.

He started building exclusively titanium frames at Moots soon after that. One day a titanium road frame just showed up at my house. He had already built me a Moots YBB, that I had ridden to win a Master’s World MTB Championship. I rode that same bike to win 4 more times. I still have it in my garage, it is bombproof. I’ve crashed hard enough to snap off shock forks, I’ve had it disappear off cliffs, just about anything you can name that would normally destroy a bike, but it just keeps going.

Anyway, Kent sold Moots and started Kent Eriksen Cycles. I now ride Eriksen titanium frames exclusively. For cross, MTB and on the road. Frankie Andreu, who manages The Five Hour Energy Professional Team came up to me at Joe Martin and asked me, “Why in this day and age of super light carbon bikes do I ride titanium?” I told him I thought titanium was the best material for a bicycle for any off-road event, ie, cyclocross and mountain bike. So, it made sense that I just rode it on the road too. But the real reason is that the bikes ride great and don’t break. I’d ridden Trek frames for the previous three seasons and every single time I fell down, the frame would break. Someone would hit the bike with their front wheel and it was over. I went through tons of Trek frames. The frames were great, rode great, super light, no complaints. Except, they are fragile. I know that carbon is getting better and less brittle, but nothing carbon can match titanium in the bomb-proof category. I’m sick of disposable bicycles and bicycle parts. Here’s a New York Times article on the very subject if you’re interested.

I got on a tangent here. This was supposed to be more about Kent. Back on track. I really didn’t get to know Kent real well until the last decade or so. He was there when I was inducted into the MTB hall of fame. After that, I started riding his cross bikes and started interacting more and more with him.

He is pretty much a genius in a lot of ways. He comes across as really unfiltered. He tells you exactly what he thinks and gives you, probably, too many options to consider, when making just about any decision.

Kent likes to do custom work. Not only on bicycles, but in just about all aspects of his life. He built his house outside of Steamboat Springs. It is made out of Aspen trees and more resembles a tree house than just about anything else. He has a cable, like a lift at a ski resort, running along his driveway for a pedal bike that runs on the cable. He can fabricate just about anything he needs out of just about any material. You should see the titanium bike rack he made for the roof of his BMW. It is a piece of art.

Kent’s mind is running at a speed I’ve rarely witnessed. It is really hard keeping up with him because having a conversation with him, he’s already way far ahead of what is being discussed. Sometimes it seems like he doesn’t even hear what you say, but that’s not the case. He has heard what was said and has moved beyond it already usually.

Now, Kent the athlete. I really haven’t ridden that much with him. I’ve probably only ridden a total of 15 times with him. Maybe 20. Here is an example of how natural he is. He built new MTB bikes for Andy Hampsten, Roy Knickman and myself for the second MTB National Championships. He stayed up super late building the frames, drove down to Boulder the day before the race, stayed up all night assembling our bikes for the race. Then he proceeded to beat us all, finishing 4th, with no sleep the two nights before. And only using one toe clip. It was crazy.

He still desends amazing off-road. That is his thing. He rides the road some for training, but really is a MTB rider.

I think he can just really suffer. He rode the Laramie Enduro last weekend, over 6 hours, and he’d ridden maybe 500 miles for the year. And half of those were a couple months ago. Who can do that?? Not me.

Anyway, Kent is a joy to know. Guys like him is a big reason I’m still so enthused with the sport. You don’t run into these guys that often. But, in cycling, you do much more. The sport attracts it. If you ever have a chance to come through Steamboat, you should stop by the shop and see it. And say hi to Kent. He makes himself accessible to just about anyone that comes through. Pretty unique in this day and age. I like it a lot.

Here are a few photos I took yesterday.

Kent and Katie's house.  It is eclectic for sure.

Kent and Katie’s house. It is eclectic for sure.

He did this in his spare time for fun.

He did this in his spare time for fun.

A work of art.  This is going to be a belt drive bike I believe.

A work of art. This is going to be a belt drive bike I believe.

Kent collects titanium tubing.

Kent collects titanium tubing.

This is Brad Bingham, doing his thing, which is making perfect welds and unreal bicycles.

This is Brad Bingham, doing his thing, which is making perfect welds and unreal bicycles.

There is not a better seat post in the World than an Eriksen seatpost.   None.

There is not a better seat post in the World than an Eriksen seatpost. None.

Bike rack on his BMW sedan.

Bike rack on his BMW sedan.

Never Know What a Day Brings

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I drove up to Steamboat yesterday and got there just in time to miss a day of rain. I showed up at Kent Eriksen Cycles just in time to suit up and go for a great ride up the river. I’m still kind of shell-shocked about my upper trochanter hurtin’. The lack of sleep is getting bad again.

Anyway, I love to ride, but would not ride some if I thought that the thing would heal faster. I have had contact with my surgeon, plus Stacie, and now Eric Heiden. They all assure me that this isn’t an issue, but I have a hard time understanding why it wouldn’t be. My abductors muscle connects to the top of this bone and I can’t see how it didn’t rip the top of this bone off and if that is the case, why the use of the muscle wouldn’t make it nearly impossible for the thing to attach. I guess I have to believe what I hear, but it is challenging for me.

Anyway, it is approaching noon. I woke up this morning after an all night rain here in Steamboat. Kent lives up in the woods by the hot springs here in Steamboat. He works until super late, like after 1 am, but was up at 8 this morning when I got up. I didn’t sleep much between 2 and 5, so I thought 8 was late.

I like hanging out in the morning with Kent. We don’t get to talk so much, so it’s nice. He was a little worried about the rain and some beaver ponds he has down below his land. So, we loaded up Bromont and headed down to the Beaver ponds with shovels. I never imagined that would be a task for this morning.

It was a little more of a massive project than I had anticipated. I’m limping around, at best, so was sort of worried about helping much. Kent got down in the pond as we dug a spillway off the end of the lower pond. Last week it was 4 feet from the top of the dam and today it was overflowing. Kent has a million projects going on here, all at once. He needs a full-time guy around here doing the odd jobs.

Anyway, Bromont got to romp around in the woods for an hour while we worked. I only have one pair of shoes with me, since I drove the Insight and can’t really walk much. They are toast now, which is alright. It is so strange not worrying about getting sick or repercussions of things I would normally stress about while I’m racing. Strange in a nice way.

I’m heading down to town soon to eat lunch with the crew that work at the shop. Katie’s mom makes lunch for all the guys everyday, so the set an extra place setting for me. Bromont is completely wiped out from chasing ducks and running around, so he’ll be fine sleeping all afternoon. It is supposed to rain all day, so looks like it will be an inside day.

Having some morning coffee with Kent.  The phone rings pretty constant in the morning.

Having some morning coffee with Kent. The phone rings pretty constant in the morning.

A new pole barn Kent built recently.  Not completely done yet.

A new pole barn Kent built recently. Not completely done yet.

Kent doing a temporary fix, lining our spillway with plastic.

Kent doing a temporary fix, lining our spillway with plastic.

Bromont getting led around by a mother duck.

Bromont getting led around by a mother duck.

All wet and happy.

All wet and happy.

Long Day Yesterday

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Yesterday I got a lot accomplished, I guess. I like to multi-task and that is pretty much what I did all day. The results didn’t turn out as good as I had hoped, but it could be worse.

First of all, I drove my Honda Insight over to downtown Denver to have a new hybrid battery installed. That part went pretty well. It was supposed to take around 2 hours and it took closer to 3, but that was fine. During the waiting period, I had my bike with me and I rode over to a coffee shop and tried to get a hip x-ray scheduled. That took a while. I had an order for an x-ray, but it seems that most places have rules about walk-ins. I finally got ahold of a nice woman over at Cherry Creek Imagines and she said no problem.

So, I rode over there and it didn’t take any time at all. Maybe 20 minutes total. I left with a disc of the x-rays. I then rode back to the car repair shop and they needed another hour, so I went for a ride. I just rode on a bike path up along the Platte River past Commerce City. I am really good at riding bike paths now. I’ve done it more here than I have ever in my life. The flat bike paths, along waterways, are very good for not climbing.

So, I had nearly 30 miles by the time the car was fixed. I drove the car back to Vincent’s in Arvada and got over 60 mpg, so the battery helped a ton. Then Vincent spent a half hour trying to open the x-ray. It takes special software, which I don’t understand. Eventually Vincent got the 3 images to open. It didn’t look so good to me. My hip seemed to be pretty healed, but there is a knob at the top of the hip that seemed to of moved. I remembered asking my doctor in Iowa about that a month ago and he said that they don’t mess with that and it would heal itself.

So I was stressed and sent off a few pictures to my Iowa guy, Matt, and Stacie from Louisville. I didn’t hear back for a little while, so Vincent and I rode over to Golden to spin. Eventually Matt texted me back and said what he had said before, that he wouldn’t fix it and that I’m going to limp around for a while longer because of it. My hip has hurt a lot recently. Like enough I can’t sleep again. That is why I got the x-ray to start with. I guess I’m glad it isn’t something worse, but am bummed that the knob, (officially tip of the greater trochanter) moved over. I guess it’s never going to be in the right place. Seems like there should be some bone glue to just stick it back into place.

Anyway, it is what it is. I’m broken still. I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. The doctor said that my hip abductors insert in that area, but “the bone is NO way structural or compromises the integrity or repair of the hip”. That is good. It doesn’t help with the sleep, or walking, or riding, but it is good.

I’m going to drive up to Steamboat Springs pretty soon. Guess I’m going to try to ride with Kent and Katie. I hope they can find a flat road to ride on there. Hint, hint. I climb pitifully, at best now.

Original x-ray.

Original x-ray.

Picture now.

Picture now.

Close up.

Close up.

Honda hybrid battery area.

Honda hybrid battery area.

Pretty good mileage so far.

Pretty good mileage so far.

Text from Matt.

Text from Matt.

Back to the Basics

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Last weekend, I kind of just limped around friends as they did fun stuff around the state of Colorado. I ended up in Winter Park at the Colorado Freeride Festival. I thought I was just going up there to watch Bill and Vincent race an x-country MTB race from Frazier to Winter Park. Little did I know that there was a leg of the Enduro World Series being held, along with a ton of other stuff.

I realized when we got there, right around 7 am, that the race venue was way bigger than a local MTB race. There were way too many team support and factory trucks for a local event. The venue was sort of abandoned before 8 am, then guys started rolling by. I went over to a Redbull tent and they were starting a morning session of the enduro. Virtually all the guys there were speaking a foreign language. That is when I figured out that the race was big.

There are two events of the Enduro World Series held in North America. In Winter Park last weekend, and then in British Columbia in August. I really didn’t get to see any of the racing, it was all up on the mountain and definitely not accessable by a gimp like me.

Pretty soon, people started showing up. I knew a lot of guys there. I saw Scott Daubert, from Trek, Steve Blick, Oakley, Joe Parkin, Bike Magazine, Brad Cole, Niner, and a ton more. One of my favorite guys I ran into was Jesse Gascon, from Shimano. I hardly ever see Jesse anymore. He used to travel the MTB circuit when that was my full time gig, but now I think he’s flying back and forth to Asia more than attending races. It was nice catching up a little.

The best part of the day for me was watching those guys on Slopestyle. That sport is insane. I have no idea how you get to the point of being able to ride that course, but it would take me years to get to the point of just going down it, let alone throwing tricks off the jumps. It was amazing. Check out the video at the bottom of the page. It is from Martin Söderström, who finished 2nd. Nuts.

I realized how little I know about these aspects of the sport. I couldn’t even tell you which event a rider was competing in by looking at their bikes. That is disturbing to me. Really far removed. Most of the guys I listed above were at the event just checking it out, not working in a official capacity. They were just trying to get a read on what the sport is all about and where it might be heading. It didn’t have the vibe of a 90’s World Cup, but it was much better than any x-country race I’ve been to in the US the last decade.

Anyway, Vincent won the expert class of the x-country. Bill finished 11th, which was pretty good considering the altitude. Brian ended up 14th at Mt. Evans, riding 1:56, so that was a good race for him. He and Bill should be acclimated for Leadville in two weeks. Don Sutton finished Mt. Evan in 2:18 or so. Pretty good ride too.

I did get to ride 35 miles on Sunday with Bill and Vincent. My hip is feeling all weird, so I’m going to try to get a x-ray done today to put my mind at ease. I have to take my Insight over to downtown Denver to get a new IMA battery put in. I’m excited to see how much different it drives.

Lisa, Vincent’s wife, is 9 months pregnant, so she is due any day. She actually asked me yesterday to start my timer on my phone. I didn’t have any idea what she was timing until I looked over. She was timing contractions. They headed over to the hospital, but it was a false alarm. But, anytime now.

I’m going to head up to Steamboat Springs to hang with Kent Eriksen and Katie, either later today, or tomorrow. Kind of depends on the car and hip deal. They just rode the Laramie Enduro on Saturday. They rode a tandem, and won, of course. Kent is the most amazing athlete for a guy that doesn’t ride nearly as much as he’d like. I think he has less than 500 miles for the year, and that might be really generous. Katie must be fit and made up for his form.

The Tour? It’s over. I can’t say I really am going to miss it. I wasn’t that into it this year. I’m not sure why. Too many guys falling down I think. Whatever the reason, I didn’t wake up this morning missing the race like I have previous years.

Trudi drove to Park City yesterday and had dinner with Cadel Evans. He’s here just for Tour of Utah, not the Pro Challenge. I think he has been at altitude for a week, so I bet he rides pretty good in Utah. Trudi said he was super relaxed and very entertaining last night. Cadel can get pretty intense. I think he rides better when he is relaxed and carefree. Don’t we all.

These guys are super talented.  Just another aspect of the sport.

These guys are super talented. Just another aspect of the sport.

Trudi took this picture of me taking a picture.  It's hard to show how high they are.

Trudi took this picture of me taking a picture. It’s hard to show how high they are.

Vincent, Bill, Trent Newcomer and I sitting after the race.  Adam Craig stopped by to talk a little.

Vincent, Bill, Trent Newcomer and I sitting after the race. Adam Craig stopped by to talk a little.

I was dressed prefectly for the Slopestyle.  This was the kit of choice, jeans and a t-shirt.

I was dressed prefectly for the Slopestyle. This was the kit of choice, jeans and a t-shirt.

Joe Parkin.

Joe Parkin.

This is Jesse from Shimano.  A super nice guy and friend.

This is Jesse from Shimano. A super nice guy and friend.

Bromont got tired by mid-day on Saturday.  He used my shoe for a pillow.

Bromont got tired by mid-day on Saturday. He used my shoe for a pillow.

I cleaned up my Insight for the new battery and then washed Lisa's Element too.

I cleaned up my Insight for the new battery and then washed Lisa’s Element too.

Trying to use as little water as possible.

Trying to use as little water as possible.

Lisa hanging on Sunday morning, me timing, Jack, the dog, being a loyal friend.

Lisa hanging on Sunday morning, me timing, Jack, the dog, being a loyal friend.

20140728-110255-39775134.jpgTandem results. Pretty long time on the bike.

Busy Colorado Race Weekend

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We got up at the crack today to head up to Winter Park for a MTB race. I’m not exactly sure what the race is, but Vincent and Bill are racing. It starts at 10 am, so we’re leaving in just a few minutes, 6:30 ish. Trent Newcomer, the vet I took Bromont to up in Fort Collins, is also doing the race, so we’re just gonna meet him up there.

Today is also the Mt. Evans Hillclimb. My other team mate, Brian Jensen, is doing that. He just won a road race in Salida, CO last weekend. He and Bill are staying out here until Leadville in a couple weeks. Brian works for our sponsor, TradeWind Energy, and can work remotely from here. Also, it turns out, my friend Don Sutton, from La Jolla, flew out yesterday and is going to race Mt. Evans. Then he’s going to do a credit card tour up to Breckenridge, then over to Winter Park, over Trail Ridge (the highest continuous paved road in the United States), then to Estes Park and back to Idaho Springs. I think that is what he told me. I wish I could ride with him some, but I’m not hardly up to it.

Hopefully we’ll all meet up later this afternoon in Idaho Springs and get a chance to catch up.

I’ve ridden everyday since I got out here, but am not bringing a bike today. I plan to get an x-ray soon, probably Monday. I’ve been hobbling around the last couple days and my hip is aching pretty good at night. It would put my mind at ease just knowing everything is aligned correctly and healing properly.

Thursday we did a urban ride around Denver. It was pretty fun and just about the only ride I can do. We rode 50 miles, mainly on bike paths. I am having a new IMA battery built to put into my Honday Insight and wanted to check out the shop that is doing it. It’s just a little North of downtown, on York Street, it a pretty industrial area. The guy there, Eric, seemed nice enough and he took Vincent, Bill and I back to his battery assembling place to see what they do.

The new battery is going to be 8 amp/hours and much lesss resistance that the original battery. I sort of kicked around taking it apart myself and repairing it, but decided that I’m going to keep the car for a long while and might as well put in a much better and stronger battery. It is nice having a car to do errands in around town that gets close to 60 mpg. The original battery is completely dead and I still got 41 mpg coming out here, but the engine is only 1000 cc, so it lags pretty seriously without the electric assist.

We watched the 30 on 30 thing last night on the duel between LeMond and Hinault in ’85 and ’86. Slaying the Badger was its name. You can get it on Apple TV is you missed it last week. It was pretty good. I should probably do a post on it. I was just one degree of separation away from that whole mess. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. A few weeks later, at the Coor’s Classic, it didn’t seem like LeMond had any trouble helping Bernard win.

Okay, I’m bikeless today. Hopefully my hip will quit hurting so badly. I plan to walk with a cane, all day, to take some pressure off of it. I’m getting pretty sick of the whole thing. I realize that it is going super fast for an injury like this, but it’s not nearly fast enough for my liking.

It's been raining for an hour or so every night here in Arvada.  Yesterday, this was the result.  Super beautiful.

It’s been raining for an hour or so every night here in Arvada. Yesterday, this was the result. Super beautiful.

We rode over to Golden yesterday for coffee.  Then headed up the bike path.  Lots of people tubing and using the creek for recreation.

We rode over to Golden yesterday for coffee. Then headed up the bike path. Lots of people tubing and using the creek for recreation.

These guys stopped this girl for letting her dog walk into creek without its leash.  There are signs everywhere, but the one ranger was super rude.  I saw them approach here and the first thing he said to her before anything else was, "We are you going?"  I'm sure she had no idea what they wanted.  They they said they needed her ID.  I didn't like it at all.

These guys stopped this girl for letting her dog walk into creek without its leash. There are signs everywhere, but the one ranger was super rude. I saw them approach here and the first thing he said to her before anything else was, “We are you going?” I’m sure she had no idea what they wanted. They they said they needed her ID. I didn’t like it at all.

Bill, Vincent and Trudi riding on Thursday.

Bill, Vincent and Trudi riding on Thursday.

Bike path by an amusement park somewhere near downtown Denver.

Bike path by an amusement park somewhere near downtown Denver.

A Honday Insight battery at the shop.

A Honday Insight battery at the shop.

We went over and drove some Sprinter vans in Westminister yesterday.  Really quiet.  Pretty exactly opposite of a Honda Insight.  About 10X more than I paid for my Ford diesel van, but it is very much nicer.

We went over and drove some Sprinter vans in Westminister yesterday. Really quiet. Pretty exactly opposite of a Honda Insight. About 10X more than I paid for my Ford diesel van, but it is very much nicer.

Flatting in the Rain

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If you watched today’s stage of the Tour de France you’d see how many riders flatted in the rain. This is a pretty common occurrence in the sport. On the road, and off-road.

I used to think that the flats were more prevalent because that the water allowed small pieces of sand, glass, etc., to stick to the tire and it got driven into the tread/casing by the pressures between the tire and the road.

But, that isn’t the case. I was talking to Steve White, the head guy from Michlein tires a few years ago and Steve told me that the reason there are so many flats in the rain is that the water acts as a lubricate and allows the slicing of the tire.

He told me a story about working at a race track and that they used to cut car tires in half to use as protection barriers in the corners. He said that if you took a super sharp blade and tried to cut through a dry tire, you’d get nowhere, but if you added water, it would slice through like butter.

I’d never thought about that, but it instantly made sense. I tried it a little while later with an old, worn out, MTB tire and he was exactly right. No wonder it is so easy to get a sidewall cut on a MTB tire on rocks when it is mucky and wet out.

I tend to wipe my tires off with my hands when I’m racing tubulars in the rain. A small piece of sand can cause a flat in no time.

Anyway, just a little fun fact for the day.

Michlein patented this to test the grip capacity of their tires in the wet.  I would like this job.  I could give them some pointers about corning in the wet.  This picture makes it look like they could use some help.

Michlein patented this to test the grip capacity of their tires in the wet. I would like this job. I could give them some pointers about corning in the wet. This picture makes it look like they could use some help.

Breaking from Crashing

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I’ve been thinking a bit about breaking my hip from falling at 12 mph in a wet corner. I honestly didn’t think it was possible for that to happen. I’ve fallen on my hips more times than I’d like to think about and nearly every one of those other times I was going more than twice, to three times, as fast.

Honestly, I think the lack of speed and abruptness of the fall was the reason it broke. It’s not like I hit my hip on the road. The bone is way deep in my upper thigh. It is that my lower leg hit the ground and leveraged that force on my bone and it broke above the femur. The speed I hit the pavement, because of the lack of fiction from water, really added to the whole outcome. The same as the first week in the Tour, lots of crashes and broken things because of water.

I used to think that collarbones and separated shoulder were the most common injuries in cycling. After crashing and posting it here, I couldn’t believe how many different people contacted me and sent me x-rays of their breaks. I’m rethinking it now.

One reason that I think more bones are breaking in the sport is because our bikes aren’t connected to us when we hit the ground. When we were securely connected to our bikes, thru toe straps, our bikes took a certain amount of the force. I have lots of recent videos of myself crashing and in everyone, I’ve twisted my feet, trying to avoid the crash, enough, to unclip my pedals. So, my bike get launched away from me before I hit the pave.

You might not think that rubbing your pedal quil on the ground would take that much force, but they did. Also our handlebars. Any force that our bikes absorb hitting the ground is energy that doesn’t go into our bodies, thus it is less likely to get injured as badly.

Anyway, I’m not trading in my clipless pedals for the sake of safety. But, it might take me a while to get comfortable again, taking a left hand corner in the rain.

I'm hopefully going to get another x-ray today or tomorrow to see how this is healing.  It's been 8 weeks now.

I’m hopefully going to get another x-ray today or tomorrow to see how this is healing. It’s been 8 weeks now.

Toe clips and straps worked pretty well back in the day.  I snagged this picture off eBay.  I wonder if the guy selling these knows he put the straps on in reverse.

Toe clips and straps worked pretty well back in the day. I snagged this picture off eBay. I wonder if the guy selling these knows he put the straps on in reverse.