Project Niner Air 9 Carbon – Uber Light Race Bike

So race season starts in a couple of weeks here in Utah. The first couple of races are in St George which very desert like with rocks and ledges, so full suspension bike is probably best. However, after those two races the series moves north and into the ski resorts. So because of the long and sometimes very smooth climbs, a lightweight hardtail seems to,have an advantage. So, our project race bike for this season is the Niner Air 9 Carbon RDO. It will be built with functionality and lightness as the top goal, but will not include super exotic parts that are only available from Europe with long waiting lists. The bike parts that will be used are available from US distributors.

We start our build with the strikingly delicious Air 9 RDO in Black Licorice.

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We have always been very impressed with detail and the workmanship of the Niner frames. Niner does the details like no other frame maker. They also seem to have the 29er geometry dailed in better then anyone.

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The new frame arrived the other day and we put it on the scale. Raw frame weight is shown without seat tube collar.

Niner does details like no other fame maker. The bottom bracket shell has these two metal plates to protect the carbon from the chain. The plate in front of the bottom bracket shell will protect the frame if the chain drops off the chainrings to the inside. The plate behind the bottom bracket will protect the frame if you develop chain suck and draw the chain up behind the rings. I havent see this type of detail on any other frame.

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The drive side chain stay has a built in protector for chain slap. This is a super clean way of protecting your frame from a chain is slapping around and causing nicks in the carbon. Niner includes this and other carbon frame makers should all do this.

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To add to the cleanness of this frame, Niner does internal cable routing like no other. The headtube badge has two small openings where your shifter cables go in. The drive side chain stay has a small opening where the rear derailleur cable exits. This is super clean and keeps cable clutter to a minimum.

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Another nice touch is the mounting of the rear brake caliper on the inside of the rear triangle. This provides better brake performance and less flex.

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So that is a tour of the frame we selected for our new hardtail race bike. We believe the Niner Air 9 Carbon is the best 29er carbon hardtail frame on the market today.

Next we will highlight the fork that we have selected for this build.

Do you have a dream bike build? Tell us what main components are on your dreamy hardtail.

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Winter Cycling – In Utah

So, i enjoyed the Alpine Scenic Loop ride I did the other day, i decided to do it again. It is a very scenic ride, and a great workout pedaling uphill for 2000 ft in the snow. The last time i did it, it was a beautiful sunny day. This time it was cloudy and there was a storm on the horizon. I knew the storm would bury us in snow, so i wanted to get a good ride in before that. The temps were about the same so i dressed about the same as last time. A Merano wool very thin base layer on top, a long sleeve jersey and a jacket. On the bottom, i used full length cycling tights and that all. I stuffed a neck gator in my pocket for the decent and some of those chemical reaction warmer packets just in case. On my head, just a beanie cap. Helmets are pretty ridiculous when you are going about 5 miles an hour on the climb, and although on the decent you are doing maybe 15, you are all alone, no cars, on a very wide swath of pure powder, so any fall would likely feel like an old fashioned pillow fight.

I learned a few lessons on this winter cycling ride that i will share with you. I parked at the Sundance Ski resort. Parking here provides a few miles of climbing on regular paved road that is fully plowed. This is a nice warmup before hitting the tough stuff. It also adds about 800 ft of climbing to the ride, s thats a good thing. My goal was to ride to the summit trailhead at bout 8000 ft.

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I started out with no pack and a small water bottle. Just the stuff in my back pockets mentioned earlier and of my iPhone w earbuds tuned to Pandora on the House radio station. The initial climb on paved road was no big deal. I got to the gate where the road turns to pack powder and was really in a good rhythm. I noticed i was drinking more than usual. I think i may have started out slightly dehydrated. Anyway, as the ride progressed i got hot as usual, even though the temps were in the mid 20s. Opened the jacket and jersey and off came the cap. Halfway up the climb and I was already out of water. I pulled over and packed as much snow as i could get into my waterbottle and kept going. So, lesson number one. Snow doesn’t melt in your waterbottle when its 20 degrees outside, duh. I kept trying to get a drink, but got nothing out of it. Then i remembered the heat patches in my back pocket. I peeled open one of those and placed on the outside of the bottle on the backside, the leeward side. That worked. I was finally able to drink.

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I made it to the top and i could see the storm clouds of to the west. I quickly recovered for a few minutes. Zipped everything back up, put my neck gator on and cap and headed downhill in a hurry. I didn’t think the storm was that close, but from the top i could see i was fixing to get hammered by 60 mile and hour winds with blizzard snow conditions. Lesson number 2, if there is a chance of weather, wear a pack with additional clothing and supplies just in case. I got a new PR on the decent on Strava, not that i was trying to, but i felt like i was going to have to take a few chances on the way down if i was going to make it back to car before the storm hit.

Well i made it with about 5 minutes to spare. As i was driving away, i got slammed with howling winds and white out conditions with blowing snow. Glad I hauled ass!

Got any winter riding tips? Share them with us.

Oh also, the Niner pictured is going up for sale as we build up the new Air 9 Carbon RDO project bike that will be featured on this blog.

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Winter Cycling – Alpine Scenic Loop

So our local mountain bike race season starts in about a month down in St George, Utah. Up here in northern Utah, we are pretty much snowed in everywhere. Many of the mountain top climbs are still accessible though as they are groomed for cross country skiers, and are perfect for winter cycling. This is Alpine Scenic Loop with Mount Timponogas in the background. It is a 2000 ft climb to the summit if you start at Sundance Ski Resort. Great training hill for the upcoming season.

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Cycling Fitness – Losing Those Last Few Pounds – Part 4

So here we are, mid January. The holidays are behind us and the race season is 30 to 60 days in front of us for most. Now is the time to start to make that final push to your desired racing weight or if you don’t race, just your desired weight for riding. I usually don’t try to stay on any structured eating plan during the holidays because it usually just leads to frustration and guilt, so i don’t even try. However, as we get into January, all of that crazy binge eating is behind us and it is a time where you have much more control over what goes into your mouth. Lightweight bicycle parts can only do so much, you are going to have to help by dropping some poundage.

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Being able to control what you eat is a big factor in dropping those last few pounds. I am a firm believer in the “you cant manage what you cant measure” way of thinking. So, in order to manage your weight you need a way of measuring what goes in your mouth. There are thousands of crazy weight loss plans out there that claim all types of miracle foods or magic pills will make you lose weight, but weight loss is really pretty simple. It really just comes down to that dreaded word, calorie. Yes there are factors like the glycemic index of food and the actual nutritional value of stuff and what your body does with the food. Those are all factors in the food cycle but the bottom line of weight loss is calories in versus calories out. Yes it is the dreaded calorie. That word that no one wants to talk about. No one wants to measure them. No one wants to count them. They are the truth of all food. Calories are nothing more than a measure of heat units that a particular food generates when consumed. When calories are stored by the body to create heat units in the future there are about 3500 calories that equal one pound of body weight. This is pretty common knowledge. So, in order to induce weight loss there is only one sure fire way to do it, and that is to create a calories deficit on a regular basis. Wait! Don’t leave! I know no one like to count calories. I used to hate to count calories, i still do. But the truth is, if you can handle the truth, until you measure you will not be able to manage.

Look, i hate counting calories as much as the next guy. You are not unique in this. But if you are serious about losing those last few pounds, you are going to have to face the truth some day, and it might as well be today. The good news is that there are some very good tools out there nowadays that make calorie counting breeze. I tried a lot of them but the one i found that works the best is:

Myfitnesspal.com

Let me state right up front. I am in no way associated with myfitnesspal.com i do not receive any commissions or compensation of any kind from them. I just think they have a great little app and it is free and it makes counting calories at lot less painful than it used to be. the app lets you set up a profile with your current weight and your desired weight and it figures out how many calories you need per day as a base rate, and keeps track of everything you eat to calculate the surplus or deficit at the end of the day. It has a built in food database that is simply amazing and if you use the smartphone app, you can just scan the barcode on many foods and it will automatically add the food to your daily log. The app also includes a database of exercises that you use to plug in your ride or run for the day. Calorie counting couldn’t be easier. I use this app everyday during my weight loss periods and find that it really encourages me to stay on target. Try it out, and tell me what you think.

In the next part i will share with you some of the foods that i use to control the amount of calories that i take in per day. And i will share with you some of the methods that i use to determine how many calories i am going to consume that day. Now go burn some calories and let know how its going.

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Cycling Fitness – Losing Those Last Few Pounds – Part 3

Ok, so here we are at part 3 of how to lose those last few pounds. In part 1 we talked about how as cyclists we think we can eat everything we want and still lose weight, and as we get more fit we start to plateau in our weight loss. In part 2 we introduced the eating method of paleo as a method to get our eating habits corrected by eating food that our body knows what to do with and it can actually use to nourish us through our rides.

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There are many great websites out there about paleo foods. Find one that you like and start eating live a caveman. You will be surprised how well you feel all day, without the roller coaster effect of the carbs spiking your blood sugar and crashing you down an hour later. When you first start introducing your body to paleo, start out slow as your body will fight back and want you to give it processed sugar and salty foods. Start by just replacing one meal per day with a paleo meal. Usually breakfast is the easiest meal to be very consistent with. Eat meat and fruit. Like eggs and a banana, apple etc. No dairy or grains. Do this for a week or so, then add lunch. Meat with a salad and veggies, and fruit. Then finally add dinner.

You will have low energy for about two or three weeks as your body fights back from the overloads of processed sugar and salt that it is used to. By week three or four you will start having amazing energy as your body starts to realize you are not going to give in and your blood sugar stays stable throughout the day. I used the paleo eating method to get my body weight down to where i wanted it to be. For the first six months i stayed like 99 % paleo, with an occasional stray into the non-paleo when i couldn’t find that right food or i needed to eat something just to be social-able. But other than that i stayed the course during the weight loss period. Once i reached my desired weight i went into the maintenance period and stayed about 90% paleo to accommodate eating with other family members and friends.This overall strategy worked very well for me and it wasn’t very hard to do and i didn’t feel hungry as i was doing it.

So, once you are eating the right foods you will see the pounds start to drop as you continue your cycling miles. In the next part i will talk about some of the tools that i used to drop the pounds, and some of the foods that i use to maintain my desired weight.

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Cycling Fitness – Losing Those Last Few Pounds – Part 2

In Part 1 we talked about how as cyclists we tend to think we can eat anything we want. In part that is true, but there comes a time in most serious cyclists life when they have plateaued in their fitness and in their weight loss. It can be a frustrating time as you try to increase the miles in the saddle to increase weight loss, but life only allows so much saddle time, right?. I found that looking towards my diet, dangit there is that word again, was the key in cycling nutrition to losing those last few pounds that i really wanted off. I hate the word diet, as it usually implies calorie deprivation, so lets just use the term eating method as it describes the process in a better light anyway.

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As cyclists, we think that we need to pound down lots of carbohydrates. Actually, if you look at a typical American diet it is already hyper-loaded with carbs. That is why we see so many folks walking around with 60 inch waistlines. Also, most of the carbs that are being consumed are empty carbs with little to no nutritional value, leaving you more hungry than you were before you ate, after the sugar rush wears off. The truth is even cyclists don’t need as many carbs as we are consuming except during a century ride or similar. In addition, the type of carbs we are consuming are usually just adding more weight gain as they have little nutritional value so your body doesn’t know what to do with it except store it on your left hip.

Adopting good eating habits will allow your body to use the food that you give it, and will make you less hungry. Your body is very smart. It knows what it needs to maintain a balance. But if you are always reaching for processed foods that are heavy in salt and sugar, you are not giving your body what it needs, and your body will react by increasing hunger pangs.

So, how do you develop good eating habits? Its really pretty simple. Give your body what it was designed to consume. Before the age of industrialization and before our agricultural geniuses figured out how to genetically modify our food so that insects wouldn’t eat it so they could yield ten times the amount of food per acre than before, before all that we just had real food. I guess the insects are smarter than we are. Then the food geniuses figured out how to take out all the nutritional value of the food, and add back in loads of sugar and salt, and that would increase shelf life ten fold, so they could put food in a box. So, how do you get through all the non-food to get to the stuff your body really needs? One word. Paleo.

Paleo is an eating method that is natural to your bodies digestive system. It will help with weight loss and it stabilizes your blood sugar so that you are not always looking for more snacks. It wont leave you hungry as most diets do because you will be giving your body what it needs and what it knows what to do with. What is paleo? Really simple. Meat, fruit and vegetables. Thats it. Pretty simple. If it is meat, eat it. That includes beef, pork, fish and poultry. If it is a fruit, eat it. That includes apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, any and all fruits. If it is a vegetable, eat it. That includes broccoli, squash, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus and anything that looks like a vegetable, eat it. By the way, corn is not a vegetable, it is a grain and as such not designed for human consumption in its natural state. Also potatoes, although some claim them to be a vegetable, there is debate over that, are also not designed for human consumption without processing. A real vegetable can be eaten in its natural state, without processing. So, pretty much everything else is fairly straight forward. Meat, fruit and vegetables. One more clarification, eggs are considered meat. Paleo is an eating method that is easy to figure out as it only has those three main components. Everything else, is not paleo and hence not originally designed for human consumption. Yes that includes all diary and all grains. We were not designed to consume these things and we have all types of health maladies because we insist on eating them.

Paleo has many health benefits, not the least of which is weight loss without being hungry. I wont go into great detail here as there are many websites out there that have tons of great information on the subject, but suffice it to say that my weight lose journey started to work again once i decided that my eating methods needing work also. Here is a great paleo site if you need a place to start

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Cycling Fitness – Losing Those Last Few Pounds – Part 1

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If your like me, and you probably are because you are reading a cycling blog, then your in pretty good shape. You have been riding a while and you have probably lost some weight. You probably haven’t lost all the weight you wanted to lose, but you have lost some and you feel pretty good about it. And you should. Over the years i have tried many different ways to keep my weight in check and cycling has by far been the best and the easiest method to stick with. When you first start cycling you begin putting a big workload on your body that it is not used to, and consequently you begin to lose weight and get excited about it, and press on with more riding. This works great as a motivator and the weight continues to come off. However, as your fitness level goes up and your body weight goes down, you will eventually start to plateau. Your body wont be working as hard as it used to, even though you are putting in the miles in the saddle. You increase the number of miles and time in the saddle, and that will work for a while, but there are only so many hours a day that you can devote to riding that eventually you plateau again. Your workload is just not great enough to shed those last few pounds that you really ant gone. Sound familiar? Yup, you may even start to gain some weight back even though you are riding a lot. Physical exercise will only get you so far in your journey to lose weight. The other component is diet. Yes its that dreaded word, diet.
I hate that word. I actually prefer the term eating method, over diet. Diet has a negative connotation to it that usually brings up thoughts of starvation, so i try to stay away from that word and just use eating method. So, if you have been paying attention, you can probably see where we are going with this; after cycling there is your eating methods to deal with.

When i first started cycling, i lost about 20 pounds pretty easily. I started out in the high 190’s and went down to the high 170’s. But after riding for nearly 15 years, the pounds were starting to creep back up little by little and before i knew it i was back in the mid 180’s even though i was putting in the miles. Nothing seemed to work. As cyclists, we think we can eat whatever we want and stay trim, and to some extent that is true, when you compare our metabolism to mast folks, but there comes a time when our fitness is so good that our physical exertion from riding is not as great as it used to be, and we begin to plateau or pack on the pounds again.

In the next post on this topic i will get into what i did to get those last few pounds off, and it wasn’t that hard. I will show you a few tools that make it a lot easier. I am now where i want to be, in the low 170’s and i think you can probably be where you want to be too.

Cycling Nutrition

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