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Thursday, June 25, 2009
  "Klunkerz" interviews on on 6/24/09
By Alison Chaiken 


Modern mountain biking was born on the trails of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County in the 1970s. We talk to some of the pioneers of the sport who are featured in a new documentary, "Klunkerz."
Host: Scott Shafer
• Charlie Kelly, creator of the Repack races and founder of the first magazine devoted to mountain biking
• Gary Fisher, founder of Gary Fisher Bicycles and mountain biking icon.
• Joe Breeze, founder of Breezer Bikes
• Wende Cragg, one of the first female mountain bikers and a photographer whose pictures are featured in "Klunkerz."

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Monday, August 04, 2008
  Ride with Levi
By Yokota Fritz 
Have dinner with Levi Leipheimer at the the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League's 2008 CycleFest Benefit Dinner in Mill Valley, California. Join other League enthusiasts on Saturday, November 8th, for an eventful evening with Levi, the two time winner of the Tour of California. Join Levi for a group ride through Marin County on Sunday, November 9. Advance purchase price for the dinner tickets are $125 until August 15. More details here.

SoCal cycling league launched

The Northern California High School Mountain Bike Racing League (NorCal League) will launch the Southern California Interscholastic Cycling League (SoCal League) in the 2009 academic year.

The new league is based on the successful model of the NorCal League, now in its eighth year and which currently has reached a membership of over 400 high schoolers, 150 coaches, and 35 schools in the region.

Matt Fritzinger, executive director of both the NorCal and SoCal leagues, said, “We are tremendously grateful for the generosity of Mr. Easton and his foundation. The grant allows us to launch a new league, and that has been a dream of ours for several years. With the SoCal League, we’ll be fostering the same values of life-long physical fitness, community, and self-confidence combined with athletic competition that has been so successful in Northern California.”

The NorCal League has developed methods and curriculum for introducing young riders to the world of mountain bike racing, as well as recruiting and training coaches that are committed to producing amateur athletes who are gracious in both victory and defeat, and are respectful of their environment and community.

The year-round cycle of events organized by the SoCal League is scheduled to include:
  • a Winter-Spring five-race series, including participation with NorCal riders in the May state championships;
  • a Fall coaching conference;
  • rider training camps;
  • an annual benefit gala (tentatively planned for November 22 at Ca Del Sole and hosted by mountain bike pioneer Gary Fisher); and
  • promotional outreach events at bicycle stores and pre-existing cycling events.


Saturday, April 19, 2008
  Sea Otter Classic 2008 photos
By Yokota Fritz 
So you can wish you were here. You still have Sunday to see bike stuff, bike races, bike people, bike fun, and try lots of samples of organic energizing health drinks and foods and teas and concoctions and ride high end mountain bikes for free (after you pay the entry fee, of course).

Tara Llanes is at Sea Otter. You might recall that she broke her back and became paralyzed below the waist. Here she is with my daughter.

Tara Llanes with Ivy

The crazy folks at Clif Bar were up to their usual antics and passing out tons of free samples of Clif Bars, Luna Bars, Shot Blocks, Clif KidZ bars, Builder Bars, and their other products. I'm still stuff from all of the wonderfully tasty free products, and I had fun watching them do some urban surfing from the top of an Xtra Free Radical.

Clif Bar bike surfers Clif Bar antics

It's gettting late; I'll try to post more tomorrow! I haven't uploaded them all yet, but I have 120 photos so far in my Sea Otter Classic 2008 photo set at


  Spot single speed 29er bicycle
By Yokota Fritz 
I'm trying a lot of bikes out at the Sea Otter Classic 2008 in Monterey, California. A lot of them feel like any other bike, but a real stand out is the single speed belt driven 29er from Spot Brand Bikes.

Spot bike test Spot steel 29er mountain bike with belt drive

I took the Spot 29er for a spin on the demo trail and flew down the singletrack with absolute confidence on this bike. I feathered the brakes a little approaching some of the sandy curves (and that was only because I don't know the bike), but other than it was full speed ahead. On the uphills the bike goes like it should -- I didn't miss the lack of gearing at all. I didn't have the legs for a couple of especially steep uphill sections, but that's because I rode my fixed gear to Sea Otter some 40 miles from Santa Cruz County yesterday morning.

I tried to make the Gates belt drive slip like Guitar Ted did last fall at Interbike, but I couldn't do it, but again, my legs weren't quite up to snuff. The belt drive is absolutely smooth and clean.

Spot Brand's steel framed bikes are hand built in Golden, Colorado. The bike I tested retails for about $3400. They're selling their demo bikes from the show, however, for as much as $1,000 off of list. These are brand new, hand built, nicely equipped bicycles.

Visit the Sea Otter Classic near Monterey, California this weekend to try these and other bicycles from a number of vendors.

More info about the Spot single speed 29er and their other bikes at Spot Brand Bicycles.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008
  Haro Beasely 650B first ride
By Yokota Fritz 
Jill Hamilton is the "Bike Biz Babe" and she's brand manager for Haro Bicycles in southern California. She rode one of the new 650B bicycles Haro is offering this year: the steel, fully rigid, 650B Beasely.
Don't get me wrong...I love my 29ers. But for a "little" person like me (at 5'7"), a 29er is a lot of bike. The Beasley didn't feel like such a big felt very nimble and quick, yet very stable. Just like a 29er, it climbed with what felt like infinite traction, cornered with stability, and rolled over trail obstacles with ease.

The fact that the Beasley is steel also lends to the fun factor...steel truly is real. It yields a ride unlike any other material. It's lively, yet stiff enough so you "feel" the trail. Steel frames also just look great...since you can make frames out of smaller diameter tubes, steel frames look sleek and svelte.
Read more and see photos at Bike Biz Babe.


Monday, September 17, 2007
  650B wheels on a mountain bike
By Yokota Fritz 
The Bike Biz Babe & Haro brand manager Jill Hamilton installed Velocity 650B wheels with Neo-Moto tires on a Haro Werx Neon all mountain bike for some 650B experimentation.

Soma also plans to show a 650b prototype at Interbike next week. The 650b tire size -- in between the traditional 26 inch mountain bike tire size and the 29 inches used on 29ers and typical road bikes -- is liked by MTB designers because the required design changes aren't as radical as those required for 29 inch designs.

Guitar Ted believes that the 650b trend will continue, although he says the larger bike builders will probably need to weed something out before introducing yet another tire size to the mountain bike market.

I will be at Interbike next week and promise to provide plenty of photos and news from the show.


Monday, August 13, 2007
  Henry Cowell State Park mountain biking
By Yokota Fritz 
I'm not much of a mountain biker, but the past few Sunday's I've ventured into Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County. The park's south entrance on Graham Hill Road is just 2½ miles from my front door, so I ride my bike there. The hiking trails are off-limits to mountain bikers, but bicycles are permitted on Pipeline Road, Rincon Fire Road, Ridge Fire Road, and Powder Mill Fire Road. Although these are called "roads," motor vehicle use is for authorized State Park vehicles only.

Towering Redwoods
Pipeline Road is a paved multi-use path shared between cyclists, walkers, and equestrians. This road runs from the park's south entrance on Graham Hill Road in Scotts Valley to the Henry Cowell State Park visitor center near Felton. Brakes and low-gearing are handy for the steep sections at the south end of the road.

Powder Mill Fire Road is a short, wide dirt trail from Pipeline Road uphill to the park campground before ending at the Observation Deck. The observation deck is at the highest point in Henry Cowell and gives spectacular views down the San Lorenzo Valley into Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay.

Ridge Fire Road runs straight down from the observation deck to cross Pipeline Road. Ridge Fire Road between the high point and Pipeline is a steep downhill sand trap with monster water bars. I have difficulty negotiating this trail (i.e. it's not much fun either up or down) with my inexpert mountain bike skills. Beyond Pipeline Road, Ridge Fire Road continues as a nice, smooth dirt path with some leaf litter before it circles around to connect again with Pipeline Road.

Rincon Fire Road connects with Ridge Fire Road and winds steeply downhill to the San Lorenzo River. Most of this trail is somewhat bumpy dirt, though gravelly sections, steep turns and fallen trees across the trail add interest. Rincon Fire Road crosses the San Lorenzo River -- you must carry your bike and ford across the river -- where it continues steeply uphill to the park's southwest entrance on Highway 9.

While the scenery throughout Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is spectacular, for mountain bikers the Rincon Fire Road provides the best views, with close up encounters with redwoods and stunning drop offs into the river valley. The Redwood Cathedral along Rincon Road is beautiful circular arrangement of giant old-growth redwood trees.

To return into Henry Cowell from the Rincon Road parking lot, you can bike up Highway 9 toward Felton to the visitor center entrance, where you can get back to Pipeline Road. To extend your ride, the U-Con trail runs across Santa Cruz's Pogonip park to connect Rincon Fire Road with UCSC Mountain Bike trails and the spectacular riding in Wilder Ranch State Park along the wild and rocky California coastline.

More information:

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Monday, August 06, 2007
  Bikes banned from Slovak trails
By Yokota Fritz 
Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič signed into law legislation that will ban bikes from forest trails in Slovakia.

Slovak mountain bikers were caught by surprise when they learned that a widespread ban of mountain biking on forest trails has been proposed. Just few days after the information became public the Slovak parliament passed the legislation, albeit after heated discussions. Mountain bikers believed they would be able to persuade the Slovak President to veto the law. A petition against the new regulation was signed by 3,000 people within a day of the decision and eventually garnered close to 16,000 signatures. Yet, without any advocacy organization of their own, it was hard for Slovakian mountain bikers to take further decisive steps.

Read more at IMBA.

Wow, two mountain biking posts in one day is more than I've done the whole rest of the year. Will Fritz turn more to mountain biking in the near future? My sources for mountain bike news include Go Clipless and Blue Collar Mountain Biking.


  MTB: Sand riding?
By Yokota Fritz 
I'm not an expert mountain biker, but I enjoy the occasional foray into singletrack and I know the basics of riding through sand: deflate the tires, unweight the front, and push your way through.

But what if you also need to clear 18 inch water bars? Going uphill, I didn't have the strength to bring my bike up and over the water bars while pushing through sand. I don't know if there's any more technique I can bring to this so I can accept that I just have to carry the bike or muscle it through on the uphill.

But is there something I can try going downhill? I tried a few things, but the result was front wheel plant in sand downhill of the water bar, with the resulting back end flipping up and over. (Yes, I was ready for it and landed on my feet while ditching the bike).




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