Lehigh Valley Free Riders...Hucking the (Hudson) Valley one trail at a time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

LVFR - New York Edition

Yes boys and girls...or anyone else who is left still reading this little blog...LV Freeriders has officially moved to the Great State of New York.
Beacon, NY to be exact. It was a sad day when I had to pack up my bike and move away from the great trails in the Lehigh Valley. Fortunately, I moved a little town called Beacon, NY which has an equally amazing trail network and some ridiculously fun trail systems within a 20-30 minute drive of what I now call home base.

I hooked up with the riders at the local shop, Beacon Cycles, and they were plenty stoked to show off some of the great trails they've built here over past few years.  I must say, I was impressed. There is definitely some serious vertical here with the Hudson Highlands Mountain Range being literally right out my front door. There is definitley no lack of Freeriders here in Beacon as I learned the first time I made the 40 minute ascent up Mt. Beacon and encountered a group of riders trudging DH Rigs up the jeep trail that leads to the trail head at the top of Mt. Beacon. Yes...that's right. You have to ride straight up the mountain, 35-45 minutes depending on your fitness level and how much you drank the night before, to simply get to the trail head.

There are also some serious riders in the neighborhood and I've had the pleasure to ride with "Downhill" Jay Memmelaar and "Big" Ryan Gardner both of whom placed second in the Pro and Category 1 divisions, respectively, at the first round of the Gravity East Series last weekend at Massanutten. Needless to say, these guys can rip. No doubt in part to the awesome training they're afforded by the trails here.

Don't worry though PA Freeriders, I still have love for PA and have all the guys (and girls) stoked on the Vertical Earth Series this summer at Blue Mtn.

Look for the Beacon Bombers Team at the races this summer and know that if you come up to ride in NY....there are trails to rip and riders to show you the way.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Speed and Style For Miles

DirtTV - Finally Part VI

Check it out....

More Mountain Biking >>

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Video of the Day

I need to move to Canada...or bring riding like this to the East Coast.

Postill Vid 2009 from Eric Marciniak on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DH Balls...XC Legs

So when you like to ride like I do, you tend to have to make certain compromises when it comes to bike set-up. I love to huck everything in sight and ride my all-mountain bike like a downhill bike, but also don't mind earning those downhills by riding to the top of the trail.

If you ride the local trails here in the Valley, then you know what I am talking about. My favorite place to ride, Sals between Bethlehem and Allentown along the Lehigh River, has some of the fastest, gnarliest, descents you can handle short of riding a full on downhill rig. But if you've ever ridden there, you know getting to the top of the trail is equally as challenging.

So when choosing and setting up a bike to ride on these trails, you inevitably have to face the questions of weight vs. strength, geometry, gearing, tire choice, etc. Because the attributes that make a bike able to bomb downhill, also make it a pig to ride up hill. Without going into the engineering of the new breed of "All-Mountain" bikes designed to be able to ride to top of the mountain and rail everything on the way back down, I thought I would highlight some of the gear I use to let me do just that.

I Like Big Bars and I Cannot Lie!!!

One Thing I love to run on my all-mountain rig is some big 'ol, wide DH bars. I have gone through a bunch of different bars through my years of riding and for the past year or so have been running the all-mountain version of 'ol faithful...the Easton EA70 Monkey Bar.

The Easton EA70 is incredibly strong, relativley light, and if you know someone who has bent a pair, tell them to email me and I will send them an official LV/FR T-shirt, because they either huck like no other, or survived the gnarliest crash ever.

The Easton's measure in at a stable 685mm or 27" wide and to this point have served me well. Recently though, several companies have been releasing new downhill and freeride bars that boast the strength and width demanded by aggressive riders, but also come close to the weight of what a solid XC bars was just a few years ago. Knowing the advantages of wide bars, I figured I would set aside my beloved EA70's and try something new.

So, thanks to a recommendation from the guys at CUTTERS I picked up a brand spankin' new Sunline V1 OS bar to "chopper out" my all-mountain stead.

The V1 is Sunline's top offering of the aluminum variety and is right there with the new trend of low and wide bars that most of the best riders in the world are running on their DH bikes.

The V1 has a great look in Dark Grey with a bead blasted finish. The bar comes in 2 rise and width offerings. I went with a (low) 19mm rise and (wide) 745mm or 29" width bar. The V1 instantly transformed the feel of my bike to that familiar, comfortable, stable feeling you get when you ride a DH bike. The width of the bar provides the leverage and stability to allow me to really work the bike on downhills and slows the steering just enough to keep the bike more stable at high speeds.

While not a welter-weight at 311grams, the true DH strength provided certainly makes up for any gain in weight. Compared to the Easton EA70 at 265grams, the V1 is slightly heavier, but the gain in weight can mostly be attributed to the additional width.

While bars this wide are not for everyone and not for every bike, they are what works for me. I can feel the immediate difference in stability at speed and the extra leverage they provide really gives me the confidence to lay the bike over in turns and the ability to get it back upright in the blink of an eye. Full disclosure, the extra width most certainly slows down the steering of my Enduro. While great at speed and downhill, the difference can definitely be felt on tighter, slower sections of trail and when climbing, but for the most part is negligible.

But like I said, compromises need to be made in order to build the perfect all-mountain bike and the control, stability, and confidence these big 'ol bars provide when ripping the downs wholly makes up for any additional effort needed to get to the top of the trail.

While there are a lot of new offerings out there for DH/FR handlebars, the Sunline V1 is a great choice and gets the LV/FR stamp of approval. I know CUTTERS has a few of them in stock, as well as a selection of similar offerings to help you build your perfect all-mountain machine, so get over there, get yourself a set, and tell them I sent you.

As Specialized coined in a ad for their new Enduro, "DH Balls...XC Legs". Or something like that.

More on my all-mountain set-up to come. Until then...keep hucking the Valley.


Saturday, January 23, 2010


Random....but shaweeet. Not sure where this is, but looks like fun.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DirtTV: Finally Episode 4

The skills that pay the bills. Big ups to DirtTV and Dirt Magazine for producing these awesome videos recapping the 2009 World Cup Season and letting us watch the FOR FREE!!!!!

The Maribor Coursee is definitely one of the gnarliest  I've ever seen and the MegaAvalanche is France is just insane. I love the guys sliding down the snow on the asses hanging on to their bikes for dear life. And the English guy at the end of the vid is priceless.

Damn these guys can motor!!! Even if you don't like racing...these speed these guys can carry is ridunkulous.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Swamp Thing vs. The Abominable Snowman

Great ride at Sals today....a little icy, but Maxxis could rename their Swamp Thing tires after another mythical being, The Abominable Snowman and sell them as snow tires.

The conditions up at Sals were a wonderful combination of snow, ice, hardpack, frozen dirt and leaves. The Swamp Thing's hooked up on EVERYTHING, even the scary transitions from snow to ice to dirt and back again.


Winter Tire Review - Maxxis Swamp Thing

 Swamp Thing...the words probably conjure up memories of the slimey anti-hero from the mid-eighties who fights to protect his swamp home, the environment in general, and humanity from various supernatural or terrorist threats. You probably don't think of mountain biking when you hear the words Swamp Thing, but thanks to a little hidden gem from Maxxis Tires, you will now.

If you are like me and like to ride your bike twelve months of the year here in the balmy northeast, you have probably come across a situation where you felt the conditions had you totally outgunned in the tire department. I have gone back and forth over the years with trying to find a dedicated winter riding tire to deal with the slime, wetness, roots, rocks, and varying soil conditions we encounter in the NE part of the US while riding during the winter. As much time as I spend maintaining my bike, I don't really want to have to change tires for every ride to adjust to the varying conditions over the winter. Finding something that worked just as well in the wet, sloppy stuff you encounter after a mid December thaw as it does on the frozen, crunchy, leaf covered wonderfulness that makes winter riding so much fun was no easy task...until now.

Introducing (at least to my consciousness) the Maxxis Swamp Thing MTB Tire. I was introduced to this little known wonder by the guys at Cutters Bike Shop, the unofficial home of my little blog, and I will never look back for my winter riding needs.

This burly offering from Maxxis has apparently been around for a while and is not available in the US anymore directly from Maxxis, but several online retailers still have them available and I was able to pick up a set for a pretty reasonable price.

When the leaves start to fall it's the start of Swamp Thing season. In all but the most sloppy conditions,  the Swamp Thing will find grip. The rounded profile can take some getting used to if you have spent the summer on squared edged tires, but the transition is worth it and you will soon appreciate the level of control these tires provide in the sloppy stuff and the speed at which they roll through wet roots, rocks, and logs.

By no means a welter weight at over 1000 grams per tire, these suckers don't so much finesse their way down the trail as they turn your bike into a off-road freight train and plow through it. But if railing and hucking throughout the winter months is your goal, these babies will be your best friend.

 The Swamp Thing is technically a downhill tire and is not that well known, but is definitely a hidden gem. I have been running these on my Enduro for the past month and can attest to their awesome huckability and hook-up in all conditions.

I have been running the 2.5 version and it is not much bigger than the 2.35 version, if at all, and easily fits within the clearance thresholds of my Spesh Enduro. The tires come in several configurations, but I decided to go with the 2.5", 60 TPI, wire bead, version. as the tires are pretty soft to begin with, I thought the 42 TPI casing would be way to soft and so far the 60tpi's are working brilliantly.

The super tacky compound is confidence inspiring over roots and rocks but will probably wear quickly so I don't expect to get more than 2 seasons of riding out of set.

The bottom line: Nothing else comes close for riding the slippery, steep, varying conditions of a NE winter.

Detail shots below.

Finally...DirtTV UCI Worldcup Roundup

Parts 1 and 2 sucka!!!

How cool is Dirt Magazine (From the UK) for putting these together and letting us watch them for nuthin'??
I subscribe to Dirt Mag....you should too.
You should definitely check them out in HD.

Oh to be this fast......

DirtTV: Finally, Part 1

DirtTV: Finally Part 2

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Simon says....."What the what!!!!"

Not really appropriate for "Free Riding"...maybe "All Mountain" riding, but that would still be pushing it. I came across this video and it is definitely interesting and worth watching.

So apparently Cannondale has been developing an electronic control system for their Lefty Suspension fork for the past five years. They call it Simon, probably an homage to that damn little memory game with the red, green, yellow, and blue flashing lights.

Riding in the Northeast, I think it's safe to say that we probably come across more types of varying terrain on any given ride than most riders in the rest of the country see in a lifetime. Rocks, roots, mud, trees, bridges, clay, loose, hard pack, etc, etc, etc. An electronic system that constantly monitors and changes the suspension settings could be interesting...I think. Actually, I don't really know what I think about this. As much as I embrace technology and love my 6" of squish...this seems like it may be a little overkill.

Don't know if I think it's worthwhile, but it is definitley interesting and worth a look. Check out the video below and the article from BikeRumor.com here: Cannondale Debuts Simon Suspension

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 - Here We Go Again!!!!

2010 is here!!! The best part of the new year....winter is almost over and spring riding season will be upon us in no time. Not that the cold weather has stopped me...b/c I have definitely done some good winter riding. As have the many  riders I've seen on the trails over the past couple cold months.

But spring time means warm weather riding, soft dirt, and no more thermal tights. Looking forward to the next year, I am looking forward to a lot of riding, a little racing, continuing to progress my bike skills, some new gear, and hopefully a new bike or two if I can swing it.

Coincidentally, as I was thinking about all the great riding I will hopefully be doing in the next year, I came across the 11th trailer that has been released by DH Productions for the full length Mountain Bike Feature, "Here We Go Again."

The trailer features PA's own and Cannondale Pro Rider, Chris Van Dine reminising about his humble PA upbringing. The trailer features some great shots of the South Side of Bethlehem (where I call homebase). as well as some unmistakable shots of some "secret" PA jumps. If you live in or have ridden around the LV, then you definitley know what I am talking about, but it is pretty cool of Chris to keep it on the DL.

Hucking into 2010.....