Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Bike


I was finally able to meet my friend yesterday and downloaded the pictures from my camera. So now I can do a write up on one of the best climbers in the area, Matt St Marie. Matt is a Brevard local and has been riding the trails since his teens. After slowly moving his way up through the ranks and jumping up to a full season of Expert racing last year he started the season with a “W”. After winning the Greenbrier race in Maryland his luck seemed to go south. At the national championships in Vermont he DNFed both the short track and cross country due to mechanical issues. After recuperating at the bakery after a long, hard season he came back strong to help Tristan Cowie win his two national championships in the collegiate racing scene. Matt is usually in Sycamore Cycles every chance he can work, many believe that Sycamore is almost his home away from home in a sense. If not working, he is riding in Pisgah or drilling it at the front of the weekly Tuesday Night Worlds.

Here is the overall picture of the bike, a 2009 Specialized S-Works Epic. He is also running the Specialized S-Works OS carbon crank and the Specialized Future Fork. The frame and fork both have 100mm of travel. St. Marie usually runs a softer suspension and tire pressure than his teammates.

Matt rides a size large frame with extra seat post showing. He recently switched over from an Easton bar to SRAM’s Noir bar which is a whopping 27 inches wide. Wes Dickson, Tristan, Matt, and a few other regulars have made the switch over to the Noir bar due to its improved steering and control, both of which come in handy with the technical trail these riders train on year round. Matt, not known as the speediest descenders around has made great improvements with the addition of the new bar. St Marie enjoys having a firm grip and runs road bar tape in lieu of standard grips for comfort and light weight.

St Marie uses the team’s Industry Nine wheels and spokes. After much debate, Matt went with the Mavic 717 rim for the improved stiffness over the Stan’s 355rim and the lighter weight over the DT Swiss 420rim.

The wheels are clad with Specialized rubber, naturally. St Marie is running the Fast Track LKs in this picture but he is known to be a fan of the Captain and has put in several miles over the winter on a set. Matt is a very powerful rider and it shows with his tire selection. The Fast Tracks track very well and have very predictable cornering. Specialized lowered the knobs on the LK tires to improve their rolling resistance. These tires work best on the dry and fast courses. Any type of wetness will causes these tires to pack up with mud. A better choice for the nasty conditions would be the Sauserwind or the Purgatory tire. The Fast Tracks are best for DuPont style riding and several of the Sycamore team will switch tires before riding in dark and damp Pisgah.

As St Marie is not as harsh on his equipment as other riders on the Sycamore team, he can afford to run the lighter S-Works version of the Fast Track LKs. The casing of the S-Works tires are not as durable as the Control casing which is Specialized’s stronger, heavier casing.

In the quest to make his bike the light and high performance Matt pulled out all stops. The Hope Mini X2 Pro brake is not known for its superior power but more for its superior bling factor. The same goes for the carbon Titec stem, and the top shelf componentry.

Two questions that will hopefully lead to answers are the fact that St Marie uses the more expensive and heavier XT M770 labeled pedals instead of his old choice the M545 pedals. When I asked Tristan about it he just shrugged his shoulders.

The second question is about the water bottle cage, people are usually pretty particular about their water bottle cages and Matt is one such person. He runs the standard aluminum Specialized cage. No frills, no spills I guess.

Tristan called me back today and filled me in on the SERC round in Tennessee. So I’ll bring everyone up to date. Matt Wells and Donnie Kirkwood made the long drive over to Columbia. Wells almost missed his start when the Cat 1 and Pro were sent off together. He chased back up to the top half of the field before “just surviving” on the last lap. The trail conditions sounded almost perfect. Super tacky with no slippage. Donnie held it down with a 10th place finish in the Cat 1 Master's race.

Good results all around, as the team preps for the third SERC in Bryson City, NC.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Old News

Greetings again,

Sorry it has been so long since the last post. I had to go out of town for the weekend and have not been able to get on the net. I also took some pictures but I left my camera at my friend’s house. I finally got a chance to get some pictures of Matt’s bike and then I managed to leave them behind.

I have been talking to several members of both the Sycamore Cycles racing team as well as the Brevard College Cycling team. It looks like I will post information about both teams on my site. The collegiate team has been having trouble with getting through the school’s rules and regulations. I’ve been talking to several members on the Brevard College team and they agree that it would be great to have a website that is completely different from the schools. That way the team riders can say what they want without going through the guidelines set by the school.

So before I go any further I’m going to go through the normal liability speech. This blog has nothing to do with Brevard College and does not represent the views of the college or the Athletic Department in any way.

This does not mean that I’m going to say bad things about the college, more so there have been a few instances where the college has taken reports written by the riders and twisted them to make it sound more interesting. Instead it made the team look terrible. This is where you can find unbiased reports of the races and happenings with the team.

On a lighter note, the Sycamore team traveled to Hobby Park last weekend. This was one of the first mountain bike races of the season and all the riders sounded happy to be away from rainy road racing and pinning it on fat tires. I was unable to make the race this year due to my visit to my friends, but I heard all about it from T. Cowie. The Pro field was stacked with 10 pros and almost 25 riders. Most of the team was in the Pro/Cat 1 class. Tristan got a good start and followed wheels before making mistakes and slipping back to third. Wes Dickson was in the chase group for most of the race and couldn’t quite catch the group in front of him before he ran out of ground. He ended 7th on the day. Chris Bennett and Matt St. Marie fought off the traffic on the tight course and slipped in just after the KOP in 13th and 15th. Matt Wells, Andrew Griffen, Tim Reinhart rounded out the team’s results today with good starts to the season. Kell Bond and Jenna Walker raced in the morning and pulled off a 4th and a W respectively. In the women’s race Julia Tellman followed the men’s solid results with a 3rd. Guest rider Emily Benson sat in 5th for most of the race before mistaking the number of laps for the women and eventually pulling the plug. Donnie Kirkwood had a great ride in the Masters class with a 2nd. He was very satisfied with his result and his payout.

This current weekend was the Assault on the Carolinas. Most of the Sycamore team skipped the ride because of the chance of inclement weather. Jeff Parker stayed in and rode with the front group for the entire ride. He finished with a time almost 10 minutes faster than his old time. Chris Bennett and Tristan Cowie both rode in the Assault to get good sponsorship coverage for local support; however they both pulled out at the top of Walnut Hollow to save the legs for the next weekend’s race. Julia Tellman along with most of the Brevard College Team completed the 60K option and are riding the entire Assault course on Sunday for some extra training.

Matt Wells is currently in Tennessee for the second round of the SERC series. I unfortunately do not have his phone number so I’ll probably call Tristan and get his results later on. I heard the course was in good shape for the amount of rain but it was supposed to rain more the night before so it will probably be a slip and slide on race day.

I’ll try to write another post as soon as I hear back from Tristan and yes, I will post pictures of Matt’s bike as soon as I get my camera back.

Alex exits.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First Try

Howdy folks,
Alex here.

I deiced to try out this blogger thingy and post some cool stuff. I'm a huge fan of mountain bike racing and go to almost every race in the South East. I live in Brevard North Carolina and ride in the mountains of the Pisgah National Forest. I'm a huge fan of the area and the riders who can tear it up there. Some of the best are Chris Herndon, Wes Dickson, Tristan Cowie, Marshal Hartley, Chris Bennett, and Matt St. Marie. There are many more who hang out at the local shop, Sycamore Cycles. It is the best in the area.

I figured that I could start off this blog with a Pro-Bike spec from the very best: the King Of Pisgah himself, Wes Dickson. Wes is a Brevard area native and has been ripping it up for several years on the regional circuit. He's been out to Cali for the Sea Otter Classic a couple of times as well. Wes is the man to beat on any bike. Although Tristan Cowie can give him a run for his money, Wes is the guy to bet on day in and day out.

Here is one of his mighty steeds, the S-Works carbon hard tail. He has a pretty normal set up, the suspension is always balanced and he hardly ever changes his set up for different course, preferring to grip it and rip it.

Basic set up again. Wheels and rims come from the Sycamore team sponsor Industry Nine. This is an older picture with his previous tires on. Wes along with the rest of the team is rolling on Specialized rubber this year and they all seem to be very happy with the choice. Tristan is still testing different treads but Wes seems to be set on the Fast Track LK for hard pack courses and the Sauserwind for wet conditions. Wes is a huge fan of SRAM components and it again shows with the team being sponsored by the Chicago based company. He runs a full SRAM drive train with the various exceptions in the crank which is the new Specialized crank. His steering control comes from the a Cane Creek headset another team sponsor. For the past two years Wes has been running a size large frame but this year he has used a smaller size for both his hard tail and full suspension bike. He likes the smaller feel and quicker handling bikes. Tristan on the other hand, although a similar build he rides a larger bike with "standard" length stems. Wes's bike is a healthy 20.5 pounds with the set up in the picture, for racing he uses different tires and wheels which drop the weight a bit more.

Anyway, enjoy and I should have some more reports coming soon.
Alex exits.