Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bike @ Bays and GRT Racing takes on Tsali

After some serious planning organizing and fretting all the small details, the 3rd Annual Bike @ Bays was a great success and the day rolled on flawlessly. NTMBA's annual picnic that originally started out as a 12 hour race for it's members evolved into a 6 hr race and then finally just a picnic with nothing but fun riding. As the year went by people stopped taking the racing so seriously and were having more fun just hanging out and riding with friends. A decision was made as the race attendance dwindled to concentrate just on having fun and boosting mountain bike awareness in our area.

Three years ago we took it to the next level and invited the local bikes shops to come out and bring their demo fleet. No one likes to test ride a bike they are interested in buying in the bike shop parking lot, the trails are the best way to know which bike is best for you.

This year we decided to bring the competition back in a small dose to up the excitement level and give some of the more experienced riders something to look forward to. This year we created the Chainless Bike Race, an all gravity race down the Azalea trail where riders were unable to gain momentum with the use of their drivetrain. Congrats to Ben Appleby who took home the winnings.

If you missed this year's Bike @ Bays I feel sorry for you it was a ton of fun and hopefully next year you'll make it out. We had a huge turnout and everyone really seemed to be enjoying themselves. I shot a ton of video footage and plan to put a re-cap video together so maybe it will make you feel like you were there somewhat, either that or make you more jealous. I chose not to participate in the Chainless Bike Race in favor of helping run the event and getting some great footage of riders as they bombed down Azalea. I did give my Go Pro cam to one of ETSU's finest downhillers Thomas to shoot footage of the race from the riders prospective. I think his footage will be much more interesting than mine would have. He's a bit faster downhill than I will ever think about being.

I did get a chance to get out and do some riding yesterday on two different bikes, both full squish 29er's. First I hopped aboard the Giant Anthem X and wow was I impressed. It handled, climbed and descended nicely. There were only two things I can think of that I didn't care for about the bike. One was the tires, it was sporting Maxxis tires, Aspens I think, and in the wet I felt them loosing traction in the corners and climbing in spots, the other complaint was the amount of time I got stopped to answer questions about the bike I was riding. Despite some of the negative comments I read about the Giant's looks I thought it was a good looking bike and so did everyone I passed. I could easily see myself riding the Anthem X.

The other steed I tried out was the Niner RIP9, Hampton brought one out but everytime I tried to ride it someone else was riding off on it. Mark graciously allowed me to hop aboard his brand new all black anodized RIP with a bit nicer spec'd components. I was expecting the RIP to be a slug climbing especially on the fireroads from some of the locals reviews of it but needless to say I was impressed with it. I didn't really get to rip up the downhills with it like I wanted to because the duties of running the show yesterday took priority. From what I did get to ride I have no doubt Mark will really enjoy his RIP, it was one of the sweeter looking bikes at the picnic. He spared no expense in building his bike.

Coming up this weekend is the 12 Hours of Tsali, GRT Racing is bring a 4 man team to the fight this weekend, or should I say a 3 man 1 women team this year. Andy, Abby, Anthony and I will be giving the other Sport class riders a run for their money. Maybe I should change my name to something that starts with an "A" like the rest of my team, Adam, Archie, Abe, Arnold?

All week this week I will be training for the race. Train the week before a race? Yep, every night I will be eating watered down spaghetti to prepare myself for the stuff the Gone Riding folks will be serving up. There actually might be a chance they won't have spaghetti this year because we are getting race t-shirts but I don't want to be taken by surprise if they do so I am planning to be fully prepared. We'll see if they are truly giving a little back or just trading one for the other.

Which bike will I race now that the JET9 is sporting a better drivetrain set-up? Probably both, I'd say I'll do my first lap on the AIR9 and then breakout the JET and compare lap times. I have a feeling they will be close. Speaking of drivetrains both of the bikes I demo'd yesterday at Bike @ Bays, were sporting the new 10 speed drivetrains. Talk about easy climbing, I think I could climb all day with a 10 speed cassette. Maybe next year I'll upgrade to the 10 speed stuff.

Melinda and I are going to hit Tsali a day earlier than the rest of the crew in an effort to get the nicest spot in the campground and take advantage of a bit more time camping. The ECO hasn't been called into action since the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek so I think we are ready for a few days of roughing it. Yeah I said roughing it.

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