Louvre Jumping!

Carolina jumps for her love of the Louvre. Thanks for sending!

Redline Conquest - New 'Cross Iron

Cyclocross season is just around the corner and with that, Racer Boy Ian needed a new ride since outgrowing his 44cm Redline Conquest Pro, that he raced last season.  The Conquest Pro, a 2010 model, was bought used off a fellow junior teammate and worked well.

My original plan was to score a bigger 'cross frame and move everything over - since the Conquest Pro sports some nice SRAM Rival running gear.  After checking his team deals, online offers, and local shop stock - wound up scoring a very nice deal on a new 2011 Redline Conquest from my pals who own Bicycles West, a chain of stores here in the Seattle area.  Good folks, ring 'em if you're in the market for any bike goodies.

Ian's new ride for 'cross this year poses for photos.  The fast growing 13 year old now riding a 52cm frame.  Aluminum frame, carbon fork, decent components and wheelset.

Shimano 105 rear derailleur mounted to replaceable dropout.

FSA Vero crankset, a bit low spec with old school square tapered BB, but totally useable, plus correct 172.5 crank length.  I might swap this out for a lighter, hollow axle crankset - maybe.

Kenda Small Block 8 tires - nice for dry courses.  I dig 'em on my 29er.

Shimano Tiagra shifters.  9 speeds of Shimano smoothness.

The Conquest is one model below his previous Conquest Pro, so maybe a pound heavier.  Still completely race ready and a nice bike, especially since it probably won't fit Ian next 'cross season.  I'll put up his 44cm Conquest Pro up for sale soon, and that should cover the cost of the new 'cross bike - since we scored deals for both.  Not bad, eh?

The new bike has been a 20+ mile road ride, some backyard barrier practice, and one official team 'cross practice/ride session.  It works and fits Ian well.  Only complaint is the taller gearing.  I'll swap out the rear 25 cassette for a 28, or change the inner 36 tooth chainring for a 34.  I'll also need to score some mud ready tires for the season.  Otherwise, full steam ahead.

Race reports to follow...

Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

Emotions ran really high tonight, and not exactly the emotions I was thinking would be flowing from my children.  Thankfully no one had a care in the World, except me of course.  Tonight I'll say extra prayers for Kingston, to ease any fears that may arise in the morning and to comfort him if he starts to miss us while he's at school and please God, let him eat his lunch and not just the dessert.

Charlie left Kingston some goodies in the mailbox! 

The envelope contained a little poem that read:

And here we are trying to read The Night Before Kindergarten...

Here's to tomorrow!

Sandy Ridge Trail System - Sandy, Oregon

I've been on vacation for a bit, so decided to hit the Mount Hood area for a few days with the family.  We've never visited that area of Oregon, so when the wife scored some killer online deal for a resort in the area, we packed up the race ready Toyota wagon for the four hour drive south. Of course, bikes loaded on roof rack, ready for new trails.  Away we roll.

Resort turned out to be on a golf course, nothing wrong with that, even if golf ain't my bag (Ha, get it?).  And yes, I've golfed a few times via work related shindigs, so I have tried it.  Different strokes for different folks (Ha, get it?).  We did score a few nice meals outside overlooking the golf course and mountains, so not too shabby, even if golf does nothing but remind me of Caddyshack.

Okay, enough talk about golf, this is supposed to be a bike blog, enjoyed by millions of viewers (Ha, get it?).  With shared family vacation festivities and short amount of time available, Ian and I had to pick a location for one afternoon of mountain bike adventure.  After some online cruising and visit to the local ranger station, decided on the Sandy Ridge Trail System, just a short drive from our very golf oriented hotel. Sandy Ridge being a "mountain bike park", we figured on some easy trails to buzz around on for a few hours.  The word 'Foofy" even came up thinking perhaps even a bit boring.  Oh, how wrong we were, in a really good way...

After parking at the very new looking trailhead, complete with paved lot and rest rooms, studied the trail map and headed out.  Even with this being a weekday afternoon, a few other riders in the lot as well.  Appears to be a popular place.  Discovered most of the trails are downhill oriented and require about a 4 mile pavement climb to the top.  Homestead Road is gated and closed to general traffic, so almost like a bike path, though we spotted a few government type trucks.  Not a bad climb though and a good warm up, as Ian demonstrates above.

Finally at the top, the entrance to the fun.  Info board, bike rack, and bench as proof.  Nice.  I should also mention it was sunny, clear, and about 63 degrees.  Perfect day.  We roll into our first trail labeled Three Thirty Eight Loop.  Fun, technical, rocky singletrack greets us.  Cool. Mostly downhill, then loops back with a slight climb.

Loads of sweeping berms in the park, along with technical trails.

Trails are well marked, basically impossible to get lost.

We linked the Three Thirty Eight Loop to Quid Pro Flow.  The top section sports some technical rocky sections, at least technical for XC types like Ian and I.  Then after that, Holy Crap Batman, what a fun trail.  Downhill, big roller jumps, linked banked turns and more singletrack frolicking.  Without even knowing what was ahead, Ian and I ended this trail laughing and smiling.  Fast 'N' Fun for sure.

We then rode Three Thirty Eight Loop again to link to Hide and Seek Trail, the longest trail in the park.  Man, another fun trail, 3.5 downhill miles of technical rocky singletrack, more sweeping berms, and smaller roller jumps.  Mega fun, even though I clipped my shoe against something solid at speed - probably a rock - bashing my pinkie toe big time.  I didn't even stop, just glanced down to see if my Sidi was ripped open - nope. Even a throbbing toe couldn't wipe the smile off my face.  Awesome trail.

Another section of the Hide and Seek Trail.  "Foofy" trails these are not.  We did hit the easy Laura's Loop before heading back to the parking lot. Easy cruise to end the ride.

Map of the trail system, you can trace the route we pulled off.  If I did it again, would have sampled Communication Breakdown into the mix.  If I had more time, would like to check all the trails eventually.  I think our total mileage for the day was around 15 miles, which doesn't sound like a lot, but with the climb and very technical terrain, not a bad gig at all.  Fantastic day of riding.

Huge kudos to the folks who put this park together, lots of work involved.  If you're from the Seattle area, think of a giant Duthie mixed with Tiger Mountain, to get an idea of what Sandy Ridge is like.  All the jumps can be rolled, so even old school XC types like me on a hardtail 29er with a whopping 80mm of fork travel can have a good time - though this kind of place even gets me thinking of long travel suspension, full face helmet and pads.

Ian (13 years old) is also a XC rider/racer on a 26" wheel hardtail, though he can now completely kick my ass on technical downhills.  I couldn't even keep him sight on this ride.  He rode really well, while I occasionally floundered like the 51 year old XC wannabe race geek that I am.  After the ride, two folks in the parking lot seemed surprised we hit the more difficult trails on our XC steeds.  Not a big deal and shows this park can be enjoyed by most mountain bikers.

Overall, this place gets two thumbs up.  I'd be sure to hit it again when in the area.  Big fun.  I didn't take many pics during the ride - didn't wanna stop!  Google search will get you plenty of pics and videos from other folks to give you a better idea.

On the way back to Golf Land, stopped at a local Mexican place for wild boar tacos, perfect ending for the day.  Chalk up another fantastic father/son mountain bike adventure for the memory banks.  Until next time...

Summer 2012 Re-cap in Pictures