Rolling Deep: Scott Scale 29’r!

A couple weeks ago I had the joy of rolling a brand new Scott Scale 29″ mountain bike out of Beer City Bicycles! My previous mountain bike is my trusty Jamis Durango 3 that has been my steed since I started this whole riding bikes thing.  But since the whole 29r thing went down I have been dying to jump on that and roll big! And now, thanks to Frank and Jay at Beer City, I get to ride the big bikes!

Scott Scale
Scott Scale

The Scale comes with a Shimano Deore drivetrain and my favorite Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires! I have been amazed at how fun it is to ride! The most noticeable difference between this 29r and my Jamis is how smooth it rolls. While hardtails can be a bit bouncy, and the Scott is no different, it is much smoother and more stable over rocky terrain. I also feel so much more confidant descending sweet fast single track because the surface contact between tire and trail is increased. In just a few rides I’ve set new personal records on Strava without even trying! Climbing is also easier (maybe not easier as the old adage goes, but definitely faster!), and I’m always surprised at how comfortable it is to stand and pedal on both ascents and descents. Overall, it’s fast, it’s comfortable, I love it! Somebody was on to something with this 29r thing!

Advertisements

DeFeet…Can’t Be Beat!

A couple years ago, I wrote a review on the DeFeet Wooleator socks. It was my first review on this blog as well! Ah…the old days!

Anyway, DeFeet offers so much more than just socks. In the past couple of years I’ve gotten to try some of their other products. I’ve become a die-hard DeFeet fan! If you haven’t experienced the awesomeness that is DeFeet, you should, and I’m going to tell you why!

  • Socks: What I said in my first review is still true: I wear these socks all the time! My collection has increased by a few pairs, notably the custom Beer City Bicycle Aireator and a couple North Carolina Cyclocross pairs. I’m actually wearing the green stripped Wooleator right now! The greatest thing about wool is it’s versatility! I just wear shorter, lighter DeFeet socks in the summer, and break out the Woolie Boolie’s for the coolest of rides.
  • Kneekers: There aren’t words for how awesome the Kneeker’s are! Once again, they’re wool and surprisingly wind resistant for those road rides. The Kneeker’s stay up, unlike other legwarmers I own, and provide perfect coverage for most cold rides. I have a pair in black and will soon be getting the CoolMax white to use in the summer to help keep cool and protect my skin.
  • ArmSkins: These arm warmers are comfy! The sizing is a bit off for me though, I’m right between the S/M and the L/XL sizes. The S/M is too short, while the L/XL is too long. I do have issues with them slipping down because of the size issue. If there was a dedicated Medium, I think I would endorse the arm warmers as much as the socks, knee warmers and gloves. If the sizing works for you, great! You will not regret the investment!
  • Duraglove: I got these gloves to use for chilly rides, but have ended up incorporating them into my every day, cold weather wear! Like the Kneeker’s, they are surprisingly wind resistant! They have grippy traction on the palm and fingers making it easy to hold on to your bike, water bottle or phone. I still use these for racing when I need some warmth and protection for my hands. They’re really great for cyclocross since they have a slim profile and allow you to grip the top tube well when going over barriers. Since they are wool, they perform really well even in wet or muddy conditions, making them even more perfect for cyclocross. The gloves are probably my favorite DeFeet product over all…but then again the socks are just so good too!

There’s a bit of home state pride when it comes to DeFeet too! DeFeet’s headquarters are in Hildebran, NC. They are not only committed to a high quality product, but also to manufacturing their  products in the US. So give them a try! Support your local bike shop, a US based company, and keep your body happy while you ride!

Drink Up: Skratch Labs Review

Trying hydration products has been a hard one. For a long time I used normal Gatorade. I know, I know. It was cheap, easy to get, and I just didn’t know better. Cost is a big factor when it comes to drink mix, but ingredients, efficacy and how it made me feel have also played a big role in finding what works for me. So I tried other mixes. They either tasted nasty, made me feel nasty, did both, or were very expensive. Eventually I heard about the Skratch Labs drink mix. I liked the idea, simple, real ingredients that actually did what you needed: hydration!  I actually know what these ingredients are: cane sugar, dextrose, sodium, citric acid, magnesium, calcium, potassium and real fruit for flavor!

To say I was stoked when Beer City Bicycles started carrying their products is an understatement! I bought several of the single serve packets in different flavors and took them with me to mountain bike nationals in New Mexico to try!

The first time in New Mexico, I struggled with dehydration and the altitude. New Mexico is a lot drier than Western North Carolina! However, staying hydrated is one way to help fend off altitude sickness. This time I was prepared, I knew I had to drink a lot of water all the time, and that I would need additional help to ensure I got all the electrolytes my body needed to stay competitive.

Enter Skratch. My first impression was the taste! It was so fruity (I love fruity, but I also love real fruity, not sugary fake fruity. This was real fruity)! Then the consistency. It was as smooth as water should be, no grittiness, no weird residue left over. Next, the tummy test. My stomach felt fine! There was no cramping, nausea or feeling like I was overwhelmed by sugar. And finally, it was just refreshing overall! I used Skratch in my first bottle during the cross country race. Hydration while racing is one of the most important components. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t like what is in my bottle I don’t drink like I should. I drink when I HAVE to, and not always when I should. With Skratch, I didn’t have any problems finishing my bottle and making sure I was hydrated for my race.

I love all the flavors, but I think pineapple has to be my favorite right now. It’s just so tasty! While I use this mostly for cycling training and racing, Skratch can be used for running, hiking, and other workouts when you need electrolytes.

You can buy the drink  mix in the 1lb bag for $19.50. The serving sizes says you can get around 40 servings per bag, making this a lot cheaper than other drink mixes that only have around 32 servings per bag. Mixing up your mix is also a personal choice, I tend to go with a lower drink mix to water ratio than suggested to cut down on the sugar I’m consuming, getting more than 40 servings from a bag.  You can also purchase the single size packets for $1.95 each if you want to test out all the flavors or have the drink mix pre-measured for handy on the go use.  If you’re in Asheville, stop by Beer City Bicycles to pick up some Skratch! Otherwise you can order online directly from Skratch Labs.

Go Soap Review

 

One of the perks of being on a cycling team is the opportunity to try new products! Go Soap started supporting the Mars Hill Cycling team this past fall and have provided us with samples of their sports detergent. I’ve been using it since and haven’t been disappointed!

My first uses of Go Soap were on my kits after hot, sweaty mountain bike rides. As just about every cyclist knows, no one feels or smells anywhere near fresh after a summer mountain bike adventure. I try to throw my kits and socks in the wash as soon as I get home since they’re so icky from sweat, dirt, mud and who knows what else. After using Go Soap in the wash, my kits come out clean and fresh smelling. I’m not a huge fan of artificial scents, like what you find in most sports targeted detergents. They smell too strong and fake. With Go Soap, there’s just a fresh smell and not a hint of what I’ve just put my clothes through.

The next great test of Go Soap has come with cyclocross. This season has featured a lot of mud, especially at Nationals. But with pre-soaking of Go Soap and more in the actual wash, mine and everyone on the teams kits, arm warmers, socks, gloves, jackets, hats, leg warmers, base layers and more came out looking brand new! We weren’t gentle on our stuff this weekend either, and yet Go Soap handled it all!

Unfortunately, I don’t have before and after pictures. But my kits all look clean, the white sections are brilliant, there’s no  mud spots, and they smell clean!

You can order Go Soap online, or ask about it at your local bike shop!

Mountain Biking in Dupont State Forest

Most of my mountain biking happens in Dupont State Forest. I’m lucky that I live in an area where within 40 mins of driving there’s Dupont, Bent Creek, and Pisgah Forest. With only about a year of serious under my wheels, I still have a lot to explore and learn, especially in Pisgah (Hey Marco!), but there’s something special about that one place that you know well, have struggled on the climbs and descents, and are able to measure progress on the ability to concur the gravel Conservation Rd climb or getting through the gnarly rock garden on Joanna.

This past weekend, after a sufficient time of lazy after road and finals and planned biking trips being thwarted by the weather, Kyle and I headed out for a quickie in Dupont. It was glorious! We got there late enough to miss the weekend crowds, and headed out to the backside of the forest. Our plan was to ride Airstrip Trail which has recently been re-done, as well as Reasonover which is also being worked on.

Airstrip has been reworked into a fast and swoopy trail that requires a lot of attention and cornering on the decent. It was strange getting accustomed to my bike and overcoming the sloppy feeling that comes from not riding.

We also looped around to Lake Dense, Pitch Pine Trail is excellent for mountain biking in both directions, curvy and mostly smooth allowing for as much as speed as you want to give it. I love to hit race pace on this trail, since it’s excellent practice for tight, fast turns and is mostly packed dirt.

Reasonover has long been one of my favorites, descending towards Lake Julia always provides drops, turns, roots and more to fly over. I always find my flow on the decent and love the rush of bumping over anything in my way. This time, Kyle and I rode up from Lake Julia, returning towards Fawn Lake, where we had parked. The trail work has smoothed out the trail significantly, leaving rollers and banked turns. It’s going to be an awesome descent, but I’m going to miss the more technical terrain. The work has also dramatically improved the descent towards the far end of Conservation Rd. Lots of rollers, air, banked curves and super fast speed where all constant until the river crossing. I can’t wait to get back on the trail and start to relearn its elements, improve my landings and cornering.

It’s really exciting seeing work being done in Dupont that is focused on the biking population! I find it interesting that so many of the volunteers come from the local mountain biking groups, while you don’t ever hear of any horse owner groups doing trail maintainence work in the forest. Yet, more wear and tear is caused by horses, especially on singletrack, dirt trails. Regardless, spending time in Dupont on the bike is one of my favorite things to do.

BioWheels-Asheville Review

Well, all the excitement of nats is slowly fading into an amazing memory, so I can finally get back to reviewing things!

BioWheels Asheville is one of Mars Hill Cycling‘s sponsors. Through that connection, I went to them when I was shopping for a legit mountain bike this summer. Since I’m still a baby cyclist, I still sometimes feel out of my element in bike shops. But this wasn’t the case at BioWheels! They are super helpful in recommending bikes based on your riding needs and answering all and any questions.

It took about a week for my bike to arrive at the shop after we ordered it. When I went to pick it up, they made sure the fit was correct, and I was on my merry little way!

Now, the best thing about BioWheels, in my opinion, is their service and maintenance. Any bike bought in their store gets free “Bio-tunes.” As I was breaking Jamis in and getting used to how she rode, I must have been in there once a week for about a month getting things looked at and tuned up. I got my bike tuned up before every mountain bike race this season, with a special tune up before heading to nationals (they even packed it up for me!), and didn’t have any mechanical during any of my races!

BioWheels also stocks Hammer Nutrition, other nutrition products, bike accessories, clothing, parts, and maps and guidebooks.

So, if you’re looking for a friendly little shop, with helpful employees and a great service department, check out BioWheels! They’re located in Asheville, NC, Cincinnati, OH, and online!

DeFeet Socks: Why They are Awesome

In addition to being one of our awesome sponsors for Mars Hill Cycling, DeFeet is also a local business, based out of Hildebran, NC.Knowing this, when I was preparing for USAC Collegiate Nationals, I picked up a couple pairs at Liberty Bikes in Arden. My wool sock collection up until that point consisted mostly of dressy knee socks and ski socks, so I was in desperate need of wool socks that could be worn with my mountain bike shoes.

DeFeet Wooleator. Source: DeFeet

The Wooleator is perfect, and comes with green accents that match my kit! The fit is amazing, much more comfortable than my SmartWool socks of a similar weight. They’re thin enough to be worn with my hiking shoes, boots, and dress Merrells, as well as with my mountain bike shoes.

The biggest test that I’ve put them through thus far has been wearing them at nats in races at 28-34 degrees. My feet never felt wet or cold during my races despite running my bike through miles of deep mud and snow. And they even kept me comfortable during my shady and breezy descent.

Since nats, I’ve worn these socks just about as fast as I can wash them! They are perfect for almost any temp and really comfortable. Now, I’m not a big fan of shoes and socks. I’m much happier in the summer when I can wear my flip-flops and run around barefoot. But these socks make me happy and I want to wear them!

So, if you’re looking for a specific purpose sock for cycling, running or hiking (they have all the bases covered), or just an everyday sock, be sure to check out DeFeet. You won’t be disappointed! And you’ll be supporting a local business that makes their products in the USA.

DeFeet

Note: I have not been compensated in any way to rave about DeFeet. They are an awesome team sponsor and make an awesome product. I’m happy to share my experiences and hope to inform and educate my readers.