Sunday, May 26, 2013

Urge Endur-o-Matic helmet review.

I been getting a lot of questions about the helmet I've been wearing lately out on the trail so hear it is. I happened upon the Urge Endur-o-Matic helmet back in February while working on the Quick n Dirty XC race that I was helping put on in the park. I spotted a friend of mine on the trail sporting it during a pre-ride and was immediately drawn to it. I had been looking at alternative styles of helmets for a while and this one seemed to fit the bill nicely. It has a retro look to it that reminds you of the old school moto helmets, the kind from the Evil Knievel/ Easy Rider days. Look wise I was intrigued, but how would it work.

The nuts and bolts.
It has 8 round vents (30mm diameter) that are positioned in order to create a Venturi effect and the air flow is regulated by internal channels. The weight of the visor is close to 0 grams and its material is flexible, which helps prevent injuries in the event of a crash. Its design contributes to create the internal Venturi effect by guiding air into the vents. As good as that sounds I still had reservations but after 4 months of riding with the helmet it makes sense and really does provide the air flow need to cool your melon down.

Comfort is guaranteed by soft, removable and washable pads. The frontal pad features a very simple and unique innovation: the «Gangsta pad» Passing just under the mould (around15MM) and being in contact with the air while riding, this part of the pad remains dry and absorbs sweat. This is one of the areas the hype falls short. The pads are soft and comfortable and makes the helmet sit nice and snug on the head. This system has no tension mechanism so the various pad sizes help you tune the fit and stays on your head amazingly well. The “Gangsta pad” does adsorb sweat but not to the point that the pad remains dry and I found sweat in my eyes on many rides. I ended up wearing a Halo Headsweat band to control that issue. Works like a charm.
The helmet itself is an in mould one piece design that weighs in at 319g and is extremely durable. I have to admit I did go OTB a couple of months ago and hit my head on a nice well positioned pointed rock. The helmet had a small scuff on it and the visor stayed in place with no harm done. That crash with a traditional helmet would have saved me yes but also would have sent me back to my local bike store for a replacement. Like I said extremely durable. The back of the helmet also extends down past temporal lobe of the skull giving you added protection in that area as well.

The price on these babies are right around a hundred bucks and the color combinations are many and unique.

The Ride.

The ride is great! The weight and vent system make it feel like there is nothing there but the wind blowing threw your hair. I've been on all sorts of terrain and it stays put regardless of the lack of retention system, and the knowledge that the material it’s made of is near bullet proof provides me with great comfort while bombing down the trails. Be forewarned though you may get some people that just don’t understand the benefits of this helmet and will seek to ridicule you on looks alone, but don’t worry too much about that you can take comfort in the fact that you are protected. It’s a small price to pay to be on the cutting edge.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Herding cats

Its been a little over three years now since I helped author the program to allow events to take place within the boundaries of the San Dieguito River Park and man what a roller coaster it has been. While I do admit that in the beginning it was more a way of generating monies for the park that had been taken away by the City's budget issues than anything else, it has grown into much more than just that. I feel that I have been able to create a small but unstable bridge between the meeting the parks goals and the needs and wants of an ever expanding community of riders and runners. But it's not without it's issues.

I like the fact that I can help people come together in a natural setting by holding events, I like participating in events, I like sharing what I think is a great resource (the river park) and I like the joy that the events bring to all the people attending them. But what I don't like are some of the underlying attitudes that come with them.

These attitudes manifest themselves in different ways, some seem to think its OK to tell you one thing then do another.  The old adage of "It's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission." happens too often to ignore. In actuality it only makes it harder for the next guy to hold an event.

Some seem to think it's OK to change features within the park or open space to accommodate what they perceive are lesser skilled individuals. They sanitize the trail by taking out rocks and other features or haphazardly fill in areas they deem to be problems, again without asking permission from the land owner. Now they have not only made it harder on the next guy to hold an event but they have also managed to make it less enjoyable for all those people that frequent the area on a regular basis. More times than not this renegade trail work actually makes things more dangerous.

Others seem to forget who and where they are. They obliviously believe that the money they spent to participate in the event and the mere fact that they're part of an "official" function gives them the permission to run roughshod over the land and not feel bad about it later.   

Like I said I love being able to do events, but when I see the blatant disregard for the environment it causes me to pause and question my motives. This is where I and others work and play, I have dedicated countless hours to try and make everyone's experience an enjoyable one, and most importantly I am trying to preserve and enhance that experience for generations to come. I know my situation is not a new or unique one, I see other areas dealing with the same issues.

Merriam defines an "advocate" as a person who upholds and defends a cause, to speak, plead or argue in favor of. I consider myself to be both an advocate of the natural resources of the park and the trails that reside within, as well as for the enjoyment of said park by both the individual and the masses. It would be a lot easier to be one side of the fence or the other, but for me I believe it's crucial to walk down the middle of the fence and chance having the proverbial shoe thrown at me by a mean ol' man. Play by the rules and I'll be right there with you if anything should happen, side step them or ignore them and nobody wins. Hopefully with education and patience we can continue to walk this road together because I don't even want to think about the flip side.

I want to thank everyone I have met and worked with over the years that have made these events so successful and to all the support for the San Dieguito River Park shown by so many people. Thank you and keep up the good work. See everyone on the trails.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A bike by any other name would ride as sweet.

A bike is a bike right? They have two wheels, a drive train, a way to steer them, brakes to stop them and a frame to hold it all together. For the most part I agree, components come and go, some are very similar in function, some are unique but they are all utilitarian and serve a basic purpose. The frame on the other hand is the key piece to the puzzle, it dictates how all those components will work together. Mess up the basic angles and you have an unsafe machine. Too short and it will be too "lively," twitchy and unpredictable, too long and it will be sluggish and slow. But when all these elements combine to fit the rider the machine will perform perfectly.

I've had some good luck with the bikes I've owned and some bad luck. But after decades of riding I had never ridden or owned a small-batch-production hand-built bike. I'd always just settled for what was hanging on the pegs of my LBS or the deal I could get on Ebay or second hand from a buddy. I had always wanted a unique frame, something that by just looking at it made my hands sweat and my heart rate increase. I recently found that frame.

Siren bikes have been around for awhile. I first noticed them at the first XC mountain bike race I competed in back in 2009 at Balboa Park. I remember talking to Brendan Collier about his frames and admiring the craftsmanship. The way Brendan talked about the fruits of his labor really resonated within me and I told myself at that point that "If I ever have the chance to own a custom frame this would be the one".

Fast forward to February 2013. I had been meaning to get up to Idyllwild for the longest time to ride I had been up there a bunch to rock climb, hike and generally hang out but only a handful of times to ride. I had been to the Hub Cyclery a couple of times and knew they had shop rides but always seemed to somehow miss them. On an odd day in February I managed to get the guided tour of the area from Brendan owner of said Hub Cyclery and Siren frame builder extraordinaire.

Long story short I've become addicted to the riding in Idyllwild. See "Ranger Dave meets the Silver Fox".
As my relationship with the area and the people grew I knew it was time for a Siren, for me the obvious choice was the Siren called the "Twinzer". Born with altitude this steel steed is the epitome of form and function. The twin top tube that runs seamlessly from headset to dropouts is truly unique.

A visit to the Siren shop sealed the deal and after a couple late night meetings fueled by whiskey, beer and pizza I was the proud owner of one Siren Twinzer.

Now all I had to do was choose a color. I did with the help of my wife, she wanted "French Blue" but I wanted more of a gray overtone so I choose "Blue Grey" and off to the powder coater it went. After what seemed like a hundred years but in actuality was only a week it was done and ready for pick up.

Last week I set off for Idyllwild via a quick stop at the powder coater in Temecula to pick up the frame for the build up. The frame came out great and the color was just what I was looking for. The next hour was spent trying to concentrate on the road up to Idyllwild while continually looking at my new frame that was securely seat belted in the passenger seat beside me. Rider and bike arrived safely and the process of preparing the frame was underway.

A little sanding here a little sanding there and she was ready for the final touch the Siren head badge.

Time to get to work. I starting into to stripping my old bike down and systematically building the new steed up. The work went fast and within a couple of hours I was done and ready for the shakedown ride.

What a ride it was. I headed out of town and hit the trail and after a quick seat adjustment I was off. It took a little while to get used to but the ride was outstanding the whole time. Every technical rock section this bike ate up and was hungry for more. It felt solid under me and soon it was like I had always been on it and that this was just a routine run. Every time I told someone I was getting a steel bike they would add that "Steel is Real" heavy that it is. That might be the case but the performance was so buttery smooth that I must not have noticed it. Shake down run in the books, I was one happy camper. Time for a true test.

I was set to ride the Archipelago ride two days later. The Arch ride is a 45 to 50 mile mountain bike ride held in North County San Diego that joins six major open space parks together on trials that test both rider and bike equally. The bike held up great and there were no issues to speak of. I'm gonna be keeping this beauty for years to come. Look for it on the trails around the San Dieguito River Park where it will be on patrol on a regular basis.

Special thanks to Brendan Collier at the Hub for being such a great down to earth dude and for making such a killer frame. I appreciate the time you have taken to help me and the dedication to your trade. If you are looking for a great frame look no further.