Friday, February 17, 2012

Cold Feet

A Great Cold Weather Riding Shoe....

Here in most parts of Southern California we don't get too many truly cold days. Sunny, 70 degree days in January are rather normal. But short winter days mean a lot of night riding and I've always had trouble keeping my feet warm. There have even been nights that have been reasonably nice, yet my feet still have gotten cold. I realized things were slightly better in my old casual shoes with laces -
But those only helped a little. So I researched and found bike companies actually make shoes for riding in cold weather. I guess that should have been obvious.

Shimano is a brand I trust so I looked at their shoes and then went to Don's to see if they could get them for me. Ben called the Shimano rep and I can hear him say, "Oh really, oh, ok" so then Ben tells me, "yeah, they have them, but these are full on Gore-tex shoes made for riding in places like Minnesota. The rep says he hasn't sold any in Socal in a couple of years." I tell him that's perfect, that's what I want. So a few days go by and the shoes come in.

It was unseasonably warm for the first few weeks I had them so I didn't get to test them initially. Finally the weather cooled and I've been using them off and on now for about 3 months. They have been everything I could have wanted. On nights when I normally would have gotten cold and numb feet, my feet were fine. Didn't even notice the cold. I've even worn them in 70 degree weather and my feet
did not get too warm.

The other night was the first real test. Temps dropped and according to my Garmin it got down to 41 degrees on my ride. People on most parts of the country probably don't consider that cold, but that's about as cold as it gets in most parts of Socal and it's a temperature that would normally give me some real foot problems with numbness. I was wearing normal socks with these shoes and they protected my feet and kept them feeling normal. Not the slightest feeling of cold.

I have yet to use these in water to see how waterproof they are, but I imagine they're at least better than any other shoe I have. This was money well spent and I'm grateful to have found them. It's especially nice knowing they won't make my feet too hot so if I take off on a cold morning I don't have to worry about things heating up and my feet getting too hot. So if cold feet get to you, or if you live in the local mountains where it truly can get cold, then these are probably worth getting. Stop by Don's and ask Ben to order you a pair.

(posted by Jeff Stanners)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hell Ride 2011 "when Hell froze over"

The 2011 Bike for Bender Hell Ride is officially in the books!

Nov 5th, 2011 marked the 20th anniversary of our annual Hell Ride. We had been planning this event for months and this time we were ready for anything; well just about anything.
  • We had a new route planned that included a loop through the Boy Scout Camp above the SART.
  • We were out on the course clearing bushes and doing trail work weeks beforehand.
  • We had 8-10 designated trail guides.
  • We had sign-ups so we could keep track of everyone on the ride.
  • We had number plates so we could easily identify riders.
  • We had an emergency contact number on every plate.
  • We had a surplus of trucks and trailers to shuttle everyone up.
  • We had an official aide station with food, water and snacks.
  • We had over $4000 of raffle prizes to give away after the ride.
  • We even had 20th Anniversary t-shirts.
But the one thing we didn't have was good weather!

Decision Time

Even though this was the 20th Anniversary of the ride, Mother Nature wasn't going to let us off easy. The day before the ride it snowed over 5 inches up at Angelus Oaks and the temperature dropped down into the 20s. If we were going to host the ride, we were going to have to adjust the course and come up with a brand new plan (quickly).

So that's exactly what we did.


The evening before the ride we called our friend Rick at the Boy Scout camp and he confirmed there was over 6 inches of snow up there and that the road conditions were dwindling quickly. That meant the top two sections of the SART (South Fork to Middle Control Rd) were out, and the biggest disappointment, we'd have to cancel the SuperD loop through the Boy Scout Camp park.

We'll definitely have to schedule another event next year just to ride the mountain bike park. Stay tuned for more details.

New Course

No worries however. We decided to start the ride at Angelus Oaks, survive a few 1000 feet of snow riding, climb Morton Peak, take the SART down, hook a left on to the "Upper Workout", cross the wash and then add a section through Crafton Hills at the bottom. That meant that the aide station would have to relocate to the wash in Mentone and that would be the "bail point" for slower riders.

All in all it worked out perfect. The amount of riding time, distance, climbing and descending were almost exactly the same as the standard Hell Ride. See new course here.

So did we survive?

Absolutely, but only the courageous! That morning over 70 riders showed up at Uncle Howie's. We signed everyone up, shuttled up to Angelus Oaks and got started. It was around 32 degrees and pretty chilly at the beginning.

It took everyone a few pedal strokes to figure out that "you can" actually ride on snow and ice; you just have to be careful. All I have to say is thank god for the 4x4 tracks up to Thomas Hunting Grounds! Without that, we would have had a much more difficult time.

Shortly thereafter, the sun came out and it was all breathtaking views and awesome single track the rest of the way down. Everyone was smiling the whole way.

Thank you!

Thanks to everyone that made it this event a reality; from all of the organizers and volunteers, to the sponsors, to the riders that stuck with it to the very end. It took every single one of you to make this a success.
Intense Cycles, Don's Bikes, Bear Valley Bikes, Redlands Cyclery, Team Sole, John Wayne Cancer Foundation, SoCal Endurance, VSI, 5.10, Romano's Pizza, Visualized Business Solutions and Redlands Spine and Sport
Stay tuned for a new event in the spring of 2012.

Here's a few shots of what happened this year.

NOTE: There are endless amounts of pictures, videos and comments on facebook as well if you are interested.

Going over "the plan"

Enter the fridge

100 pedal strokes in

Are we done yet?

Simply beyond words

Enter Single Track

Russell and Margaret in the clouds

Warmth at last!

Morton Peak

Bender's Aide Station

Uncle Howie's Aftermath

Many important folks are missing here but thanks to everyone who helped make this such a success.

Let us know what you thought about the ride. Ideas for next year?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Racers and Chasers: Freedom 100

Every racer needs a little challenge every once and a while. I've been eyeing the Racers and Chasers series for a while now and finally I found one that looked right up my alley. Last year they hosted a 50 mile multi park marathon, but this year they introduced a true endurance race called the Freedom 100; a 100 mile version of the 50 miler that toured the parks and trails north of San Diego. How's that for a challenge?


A few years back Robert Herber started up the Racers and Chasers series. I've known Rob for years now as we used to race against each other back in the semi-pro days and we were both sponsored by Intense Cycles. He's a great guy and his race series seems to fill in all of the cracks for anyone that's into racing anything on two wheels, and who lives between the latitude and longitude of the OC and San Diego. He has even hosted a Motocross - Mountain bike duathlon at Cahuilla Park where you ride moto and then gear down and jump on your mtn bike. How cools is that! For an ex-moto guy (me), very cool.

Gearing Up

As usual, this was a totally last minute thing but I finally decided to race the week of. I collected a few items and started packing. Here's what I ended up with

1 26" tube taped under my seat (I always use a 26"tube in my 29" wheel - more on that later)
1 Big Air mounted to seat post
1 New pair of Smith Pivlocks (my old lenses were shot!)
1 Straightened rear wheel
1 Gel flask
2 coolers
8 Bottles of Hammer nutrition
8 Hammer Endurolites
2 PBJs (good old pbj's...)


Robert really puts on a great event and knows what endurance riders need to finish. He had aid stations set up every 10 miles on the course where you could have your bags and bottles sent to before the race. This is very important because otherwise you end up carrying 8hrs of nutrition on your bike, mixing drinks at water stations, and scrambling everywhere. I've done it before and it's not fun!


The 100 mile guys started a few minutes before the 50 mile guys. The course started with a pretty hard uphill climb that was rocky and loose. Most of Pro guys cleared everything just fine, but if one guy made a wrong step, it would have been like dominos for the rest of us. The trail then shot down some fun 40+ mph fireroad descents and across roads (with traffic directors), and then into the parks full of single track, switchbacks, bridge and stream crossings. One of the coolest sections was the singletrack that followed Lake Hodges (see GPS map). The trail was windy and fast, but the best thing was the breeze was cool and refreshing.

Go time!

It was just after the lake section that things got seriously fast. The final 10 miles was essentially a flat time trial down a sandy double track.This is where a rocketing peleton consisting of the lead racers from the 50 mile race group caught up to us. We didn't really want to ride that fast that early, but it was a good chance to make up some serious ground on lead 100 guys that managed to sneak away earlier. Romolo and I hung in with them for about 15-20 miles but neither of us could keep this pace up with over 60 miles of racing left. When we hit the hills we backed off and let them battle to the 50 mile finish line. That was seriously taxing but fun.

Round II

When we crossed the start/finish 50 mile point, I stopped, oiled my chain and grabbed some fresh bottles. It was daunting to turn back knowing we had another 50 miles to go. Plus, it was near noon and it was starting to get hot. Looking at all of the 50 mile guys that just finished, it was very temping to just roll in and call it a day...

Upside Down and Inside Out

I've been doing this "endurance" stuff for a while now and I'd like to think I've got it down pretty good. Well, this time I faultered. I just switched to Hammer products and I didn't really have time to test mixtures and drinks before the race. I just went by the charts, but everyone's different and I knew this wasn't ideal. Anyhow, at about mile 60 my stomach was so upset that I had I couldn't ride any longer. Over the next couple of hours I actually stopped 4 times trying to deal with it and just took in as much water as I could. I'll leave out the gory details, but let's just say that I when through some tough times. It was the first time that I actually didn't think I was going to be able to finish a race.

Getting it done

The last 2 hours were tough but I was still hanging on. In the last hour I started to feel better again and even after all of my unplanned breaks I finally caught back up to Romolo and we headed to the finish line. In the end he edged me out on the last climb and I rolled in just after him. He finished 4th and I finished 5th. We were just outside of the money but it was still a great feeling just to have finished.


100 Miles
10,000ft of climbing
40+ mph
<8 hours
0 crashes
20+ close calls

So how was it?

Overall this was a great race. SoCal doesn't have many out and back races, so that was a bonus. The course joined up a bunch of single tracks that lead through parks just south of Escondido, so the scenery was nice and the course was fun. The only issue was that you had to keep an eye out for two-way traffic and pedestrians on the park trails. If you are interested in trying this race, keep in mind that some of it was pretty rolling and fast, so if you were in a group or if you can hook up with someone, you could save some serious time and energy.

I'll definitely be there next year with my nutrition dialed in and all cylinders firing!

You can find out more information about the event here.

Next big endurance event is the 50 mile Fat Tire Epic at Vail Lake October 1st. Be there!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cedar City Fire Road 100K

This past weekend Lisa and I traveled to Cedar City for the new Fireroad Race. Doesn't sound super appealing does it? An endurance race all on fireroad with no singletrack to speak of. But this year Lisa has been focusing on endurance stuff on the road with lots of climbing and I always like the short XC races so this race gave us some good middle ground. Finally a race that we could both go to together. Plus, we figured, anytime you're in Southern Utah and on a mountain bike you're going to have a good day.

The race offered 3 distances - 100k, 60k, and a 25k. Lisa clearly was doing the 100k and I decided on the 60k with the single speed. We both agreed afterward that this was one of the best races we've ever been to. The course was a good as you could expect considering it's all fireroad. But the way the race was run was 2nd to none. We started with a neutral start down Main St. with a police escort. The town wasn't exactly buzzing with excitement at 8am, but nonetheless it was pretty cool. At about 3 miles we turned off the road and they waived the flag to go. On an open road with a slight downhill this was the last I'd see of the field. I was almost spinning out on the neutral rollout so when speeds went from 15mph to 30mph I didn't stand a chance.

There were some rolling hills early on, and then at mile 9 we hit the big climb. It lasted a good 8-10 miles and included a KOM race within the race. Cool thing for me was since I got so far behind on the flat stuff at the start I was able to continue to pass people the entire way up. I even got to ride with Lisa for a little bit. Once at the top the 100k racers made a right for their extra 40k loop and we peeled off to the left. The next 6-7 miles were mostly rolling hills. Then a long fast downhill with some great views. There were a few miles on the downhill that included a double track jeep trail that was pretty technical. It was a nice reminder that we were actually on mountain bikes. We eventually made it into town, rode by some houses, then a short stretch on the bike path, then around some baseball fields, and finally into the finish at Main Street Park.

I finished 1st in the 60k single speed (out of only 2 guys) and then managed a 3rd overall in the 60k out of 30+ guys. Lisa got in just under 6 hours and finished 3rd of 10+ women in the 100k and she even won a little cash for her effort. 1st place in the women's 100k was Paula Newby-Fraser who is somewhat of a legend in the triathlon world with 7 Women's Ironman titles. Men's 100k winner was Socal local Brent Prenzlow.

A few bonuses with this race
Great Support - 5 aid stations on course with at least water and gatorade
Great Location
Good Food - BBQ sandwiches after the race!
Goodie Bag - 2 shirts, cow bell, water bottle, wallet, lots of stuff from Clif Bar
Cheap Hotels
Great Weather (this may have been lucky as Thunderstorms are fairly frequent)
Friendly and helpful volunteers
It's in Southern Utah!!!!!!

Bearclaw Poppy - Can't think of a better spot for a pre-race spin.

A couple of 3rd places overall for our distances

The day after we took a trip up to Cedar Breaks and then to Brianhead for a little lift assisted riding.

Special props go to all the people in Utah who knew of Don's Bikes. Especially the Cedar City local who wasn't even in the race, but found us after the race and told us he'd just bought a bike from Don's a few weeks before.

Newspaper Write-up

Lava Magazine Write-up

Race Website

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

12hrs of Temecula: June not-so-glume

A number of Don's riders came out to tear up a few laps at the 12hr race in June. The weather was perfect and the course proved to be challenging for everyone.

Here were some of the folks in the Don's line up:

1. First time Solo riders - Lisa, Russell and Marget
2. Veteran Solo - Chris Branson
3. 4-person SS - Jeff Stanners
4. 2-person - AL and Paul Romero

The solo riders did well in their classes, Jeff's team took the SS 4-person win, and Paul and I managed the 2-person class win.

This was the first race ever that Tinker entered the Pro/Open Solo class and didn't finish. Apparently he became sick and had to pull out. This left the 12hr solo open class wide open. Sure enough, up and coming endurance guy, Daniel Munoz, stole the show and $400 for the win. Good job Daniel!

Another up-and-coming young gun, Jarred Jordan, took the Under 18 solo win. Watch out for these guys in the future.

Oh ya, big thanks to Kat and Rachael for taking care of us in the pits. And congrats to Karen Lundgren who won the solo women's class, and Angela Myers and Matt Smith from Big Bear who finished their first 12hr race. Matt was super lucky and won the Spinnergy wheelset at the post-race raffle. How cool is that?

Huge thanks to Jason for putting on another great event.

Tell your friends. Tell your team. Just get off the couch and come out and join in the fun!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


To the Point
SoCal only offers a handful of point-to-point XC endurance races throughout the season, but if you are up for the challenge, the Traverse is definitely one to put on your calendar.

The Traverse is a slightly shorter version of it's big brother Vision Quest, but it still dishes out 46 miles and 8100ft of climbing pain. As the name suggests, you basically "traverse" all of the peaks across the Cleveland National Forest.

Sign-up Early!
And just like Vision Quest, the Traverse usually sells out in a just a matter of hours. Yes, that means you have to set your alarm for 12:00AM, get on your computer, and secure your entry as soon as sign-up site opens. It's a pain, but it's worth it. If you miss it, you can always watch the STR forum and buy someone's entry a few weeks beforehand .

The Race
This year's race had all of the usual suspects: Tinker, Manuel, Doug, Mario and so on. I've been racing with these guys for quite a few years now and not only are these guys some of the fastest riders around, they are also some of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

On the starting line we all got caught up and cracked a few jokes. As the race went on, Mario and I actually road about 4hrs of the race swapping back and fourth the whole way. We chatted a bit and joked a bit between gasps. I kept asking him how long it was to the next peak and he just kept saying "oh, about 5 or 10 minutes", which was a nice way of telling me "you think I'm going to tell you!". This was Mario's backyard...

The "S" really WORKS
The funniest thing about this whole race was that this was the second time this year that I rolled up to the starting line for a 4hr+ race with a bike that I had never really ridden before. How crazy is that? This time I was on a 29er SWORKS Epic.

I really have to give special thanks to Derek Herman from BVB for throwing this sweet ride together for me at the last minute. All I have to say is what an awesome machine! I used every inch fo the 29 wheels and the suspension when it came time to charge down the fireroads and single tracks at full speed. No flats and the bike handled great.

Get old, go faster...
Well, considering that I'm still way out of shape and I road a bike that I had never ridden before, I was happy to finish 6th behind the likes of Tinker, Manual, Doug, Daniel and Mario. See full results here.

And to top everything off, when I rolled up to the finish line, Doug Andrews (from Geoladders) handed me a frosty amber ale. What a great guy. Doug just turned 50 this year and he's still one of the strongest XC/endurance guys out there. Hats off my friend!

How's that for inspiration!

Anyhow, this was a great ride and a lot of fun. See everyone next year!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

13,000 Feet Up

Lisa Stanners (formerly Lisa Crowe) completed the first stage of the King of the Mountain Series. Saturday was the Mulholland Challenge Century. 112 miles with roughly 13,000 feet of climbing. Lisa finished with an unofficial time of 9 hours 44 minutes (official results not yet posted).

Picture from RockStorePhotos.

Next up will be Breathless Agony on May 7, 114 miles with 12,000 feet of climbing. This race will start in Redlands and finish in the Big Bear Area.

The final race in the KOM Series is the Heartbreak Hundred on May 28.