First I did this by sticking my fingers into the spokes of my moving bike to slow it down:
Not an optimal braking method, I assure you, but on the upside the finger should heal within 6 weeks or so and I should get mobility back in that finger tip real soon.
Then I relearned the hard lesson that I suck ass in cross races involving deep mud, particularly deep mud on uphills. This is not an excuse, it is a reason. I sink to the bottom of the mud, where I sit, immobile, doing a dirty, knobby tired version of a track stand. BCA Cross at Ft. Ritchie was a beautiful venue, a new course that I'd maybe like to get a crack at tuning a little bit, and a bunch of soul sucking uphill mud portions that killed me. I rode three laps with a sticking front brake, which maybe didn't help much, but it comes back to the deep mud. Not my bag, man.
Then I rode mountain bikes with my wife and kid which was sublime because the Rouleur Wife really loves her new 29'er. I watched football, vacuumed the damn house at half time and between games, and cooked some delightful sirloins on the grill.
What did you do with your weekend? (No World Championship spoilers here since some of my loser friends Tivo'ed it and will get angry at me mentioning Spartacus' TT win and big man Thor Hushovd's road championship at any time before next Wednesday).
The Tacchino is coming! Funk, sausage, three (3!) great beers from Duvel/Ommegang, Frites, prizes for best new riders and top singlespeeds, and we're going to push the prize money down into the Cat 3 races if enough of you turkeys sign up for it.
After you register for Tacchino, you need to think about registering for Hyattsville CX - which is this Sunday. It was a first year race last year and was sort of small, but a top flight event. I think it will be really well attended this year because, damn, the word gets out. Hard racing, great course that wrings every little bit out of the terrain features at its venue, and a party par excellence. The awesome Belgian-style brewhouse Franklins (Brewery & AAAAWWESOME General Store) is sponsoring it too - a brewpub that all of you would be raving about if it was located at 12th & H or in Arlington.
DCCX ought to be on your list too, because (1) much as it pains me to say it as a promoter, they leave the rest of MABRA in the dust as a race day experience; and (2) you owe it to yourself to go there, race, and/or just enjoy the day. It is a great event, and frankly, they raised the bar on the rest of us in MABRA, it's a Granogue-ian crossfest that we should all want to imitate. No, I'm not admitting to envy here; just amazement. Tacchino will never duplicate DCCX; we can't be one. But what we aim to do is what DC MTB has done with DCCX, and that is to give racers and fans an experience that combines a great race with an event that pegs the fun meter. Oh yeah, one other thing - they're having a single speed and tandem race at the end of the day. Consider rockin' it Portland style, racing geared early, and rollin' out your Hipstervagen for the last race of the day, and I don't care if you need to drink six beers to get your nerve up to do it. The demands of the single and its peculiar harshness make it just like a regular cross race - only moreso.
Product Review: PUSH Industries Suspension Fork Rebuild/Mod
Wise bike guys will tell you - if you're a big guy, you need to be careful about what suspension options you get on a mountain bike. Most stuff can't hold up to your beating. Oh, the stanchions and springs are probably strong enough not to break - maybe - but the valving is wrong, the seals aren't built to take it, and if you get the shock or fork pressurized up to the appropriate level for your weight & riding style, it will have the responsiveness of a hardtail or a rigid bike.
I've been pretty happy with the Fox RP2 and Rock Shox Reba Race on my Salsa Big Mama. The rig is built for comfort, for all day epics and endurance races. The RP2 came stock and I moved the Reba over from my hardtail. Still, the Reba was getting nigh on 3 years old and it was time for a rebuild anyhow, so when it converted itself to a rigid fork on a ride up at Patapsco - a lockout due to blown seals which is common with older seal sets in Rebas - I decided to PUSH the fork.
PUSH Industries, near as I can tell, only does modifications and rebuilds on shocks and forks. Based in Loveland, Colorado, they do rebuilds for about 185, and they do modifications - tailoring the gear to your size & riding style - starting at about $225. Prices vary depending on model. I had heard good things about PUSH and I was tired of running the Reba at maxed out air pressure, so I decided to give them a shot.
Ordering the work was simple. I used their web order form, told them how big I am (very) and about my riding style (floats like an iron butterfly, stings like a wasp in the mouth), and what exactly I wanted - very soft on the top, steeply progressive, resistant to bottoming. They then emailed me mailing labels with pre-paid postage, and I FedExed the fork off to Colorado.
Ten days or so later, the Reba arrived back home. This was in mid-July. I bolted the fork back on, and went riding on it.
Now that I have 7 or 8 hard rides in on it, I feel like I can review its performance.
First of all, getting the work done was no hassle. The exterior of the fork is unchanged, so it's a bolt-off, bolt-on operation that any user with basic skills should be able to do. PUSH sent me back the old damping rod, the part that controls oil and maybe air flow as the fork compresses and rebounds, so the mod obviously involved replacing that; I'm not sure what else they did though they include a list on their web site if you're interested.
Second, it came back exactly as I ordered it. I wanted it plush on top because most of the bumps you hit, and most of the energy-sapping bouncing, occurs on little tiny choppy bumps in the trail. To cancel this annoyance out, you need your suspension set with proper sag - the natural drop in the fork or shock when you sit on it. This way when the wheel catches mini-air of an inch, it drops down into contact of the ground, rather than bouncing up each time it hits a little rock or root. You also want it a little mushy right at the top, to absorb that chop. But then when you catch air, you don't want to hear the internals clacking on the bottom. Nor do you want it going halfway down and hitting a wall - you want the resistance increasing as the fork compresses. This fork does exactly that - soft at the top, and I haven't quite bottomed it out yet despite trying. Some people like their suspension set up differently - I suspect big hit riders don't care about softness on top the way a cross country or all mountain rider would, and PUSH will no doubt set you up the way you like.
Third, I am running slightly lower air pressure in this, but the air pressure doesn't matter as much as with the stock Reba because the fork is damped properly. Air pressure was concern before because that and the rebound damping were the only two adjustments I had, and the fork was very sensitive to both. Neither is that critical now; both produce incremental changes, but the way the damping is set up internally by PUSH is now the dominant factor in how this fork works.
Fourth, it works really well. It revolutionized how this bike rides. It handles much better, and the rear suspension works better (without being modified) than it did before. This changes how I ride. In tight single track requiring fast right/left moves, I can bounce a little bit left to right, snapping the bike and getting a rhythm going. If there is a small log or a root crossing the trail, I have the option of doing the traditional bunny hop, or if I'm moving at speed I just throw my weight downward, then hop straight up and jump the obstacle - pretty cool. The effect is most noticeable, however, in rock fields. Rock fields test handling skills and suspension to the limit, and with this perfectly set up fork, I find rocks challenging, but not the ultimate test that they used to be. Part of this is me learning new skills, but part of it is being on a bike that is optimized for my riding style.
I didn't have a chance to test some things. I don't know how well the modifications will hold up over time. I suspect the life will be equivalent to the stock gear - kind of hard to stay in business selling a product that is worse than OEM, right? I also haven't had a chance to test their warranty or customer service. Their work comes with a one year warranty, which is pretty solid.
So there you go. If you are thinking about getting a rebuild, it may be worth thinking about dropping the extra $50 and getting your fork PUSH'ed.