Trail Review: 18 Road Trails Fruita, CO

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The four of us left our bike shop with equal amounts of excitement and curiosity. Our plan was to spend Labor Day weekend riding as many trails as possible between Fruita, CO and Moab, UT. We knew this trip had potential to be one of the best riding adventures we had done, but we didn’t know much else to expect.
Only one of us had ever ridden Moab and none of us had ever ridden Fruita. We spent 14 hours driving from Carson City to Fruita. Highway 50 is called The Loneliest Road in America. We understood why as the sun set behind us and we saw more deer than passing vehicles. When I woke up, we were somewhere on Interstate 70 in Utah. Jimmy, the one in our group who had ridden Moab, was excited to pull over at a particular rest stop with stunning views. The rest stop delivered as we were able to watch the sun rise over an endless valley dense with incredible rock formations and 1000ft cliffs.
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We settled back into the RV for the final push into Fruita. The route to get to the 18 Road Trails was interesting. We exited the interstate to drive through a network cozy Colorado homes, many of which positioned on a small chunk of farm land. 18 Road’s pavement eventually turned into a three mile stretch of gravel that pushed the limits of the RV’s suspension. The trailhead was clearly marked and provided ample parking.
Our plan was to ride three trails: Kessel Run, Joe’s Ridge, and Zippity Doo Dah.
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We decided our first ride would be Joe’s Ridge as we were collectively more excited to ride that trail than the others. We left the trailhead and climbed a dirt road that got us to and intersection of trails. One of my many favorite aspects of 18 Road Trails is that the trails have signs posted that encourage riders to only descend or ascend certain trails. Joe’s Ridge happens to be a trail where riders should only descend, and for good reason.
The trail starts off pretty mellow. Not long after, however, the classic ridge riding is exposed and the trail represents the uniqueness of 18 Road Trails. To be honest, the ridge riding was a bit intimidating the first time I saw it on Joe’s Ridge. It was like nothing I had ever ridden in the past. But I set aside my nerves, for the time being, and continued on.
We gathered up around the halfway point down Joe’s Ridge. One of our riders, Adam, noticed a free-ride line he wanted to attempt. He hiked his bike up a ridge consisting of soft dirt and scouted his line. He committed to it and descended down the steep line and into a rolling valley floor. The rest of us continued on the main trail which now presented more jumping features. We made our way to the end of the trail which emptied into an intersection between the other two trails we planned on riding. We ascended a short, punchy climb back to the parking lot and fueled up on food and hydration.
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For our second ride, we chose Kessel Run. Kissel Run is considered the easiest of the three. It took less climbing to get to than Joe’s Ridge and was certainly less technical. Kessel Run is a great trail to practice turning on as it is winding and full of sharp burms and turns. One of riders suffered a scary crash and rightfully wanted to rest around the RV while taking inventory on his bike and body.
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The other three of us decided not to ride Zippity Doo Dah without the entire group so we checked out the trail map for other options.
We decide to ride PB&R (Pumps, Bumps, and Rollers). The ride is classified as a black diamond trail. I feel that this trail is better classified as an intermediate trail. Never mind the classification though, PB&R was an absolute blast! Of all the trails we rode, PB&R was my favorite in regard to trail quality.
By the time we got back to the trailhead, Jimmy was feeling better after his crash and was ready for another ride.
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We had time for one more ride and decided to do Zippity Doo Dah. Getting to Zippity Doo Dah required more climbing than any of the other trails. The climb was fairly mild with the exception of a couple spots. Zippity Doo Dah offers the best views from 18 Road Trails.
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This trail had the notorious ridge lines that I was so excited to ride. The trail is classified as black diamond. It’s not that Zippity Doo Dah is overly technical, it’s that some of the ridges are carved through some high risk areas that I found a little intimidating.
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I even ended up walking one specific section as it really played with my fear of heights. That said, Zippity Doo Dah was a well designed trail with really fun sections and stunning views.
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It was the perfect ride to finish up our afternoon. I am so glad I went and rode 18 Road Trails.
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We did four different trails and still have more to do. I am looking forward to the next time I ride Fruita, CO.

Review: Royal Racing Matrix Jacket

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I’ve been on the hunt for a lightweight, hooded riding jacket for a while now. I have struggled justifying the cost of some larger company’s jackets that retail between $400-$500. When I ran across the Matrix jacket by Royal Racing with a list price of $140, I knew my search had ended.
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Offered in two different colors, the Matrix jacket brings style and function to the trail.
The jacket is non-insulated and requires some layering in really cold conditions. During Spring, Summer, and Fall, I imagine this jacket will be great with only a base layer underneath.
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With a waterproof and breathability rating of 10,000, the Matrix performs well in light rain and average snow conditions.
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Royal Racing claims that the fitting of the Matrix ranges from regular to loose. They also recommend sizing up if riders plan on wearing body armor. I usually fall in-between medium and large with most companies. I ordered the medium jacket and found the overall fit to be very comfortable.
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The Matrix includes an i Port pocket for electronic devices that has internal routing for earbuds.
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The hood on the Matrix is adjustable and large enough to fit over an open-face helmet.
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I would recommend this jacket to anyone on a budget who is looking for a quality shell with a rider-inspired design. Make sure to hit up your local bike shop and let them know the Matrix is available through QBP.

Have you found the perfect trail jacket? Leave a comment below and let me know all about it 🙂

 

E-Bikes: Progress Meets Hostility.

*For the purpose of this article, “E-Bike” refers to a non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycle.

E-Bikes may be the most controversial topic in cycling since Lance was first accused of doping. That may seem like somewhat of a false equivalency, but to many cyclists, both topics have one thing in common: CHEATING. The rapid increase of E-Bikes has sparked a lot of heated discussion in the industry. Many riders feel that E-Bikes offer an unfair advantage to other riders and shouldn’t be allowed to share the same trails. Other people view E-Bikes as motorcycles in disguise, and since they are just motorcycles, shouldn’t be allowed to share the same trails. Where is this bicycle segregation coming from?
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Even at my bike shop, located in an area where E-Bikes haven’t really hit the riding scene, we are having daily discussions about them with customers. There are shops now, often in urban settings, that exclusively sell E-Bikes. The demand for this technology is clearly there. So why are so many cyclists passionately opposed to the idea of E-Bikes? To some extent, the answer is in the question. The most negative opinions about E-Bikes come from longtime cyclists. People I talk to that are new to the sport of mountain biking have a much more open mind about the idea. That’s not to say that longtime cyclists are wrong. They have spent decades in the saddle and have developed their own justified ideas of what mountain biking should be.
A regular customer at my shop told me a story yesterday that blew my mind. He owns a hardtail fat bike. Since purchasing his fat bike, he has outfitted it with a large frame pack. He was recently riding a popular trail in our area when he was stopped by another rider. The rider looked at his frame pack and began lecturing him that E-Bikes didn’t belong on the trail. The customer made light-hearted efforts to explain that it was a frame pack full of food and clothing but the cyclist who had stopped him refused to listen. This particular situation is rare. However, it was very unsettling. After hearing that story, I knew it was time to get on here and try to open a discussion with you guys and see where everyone stands on the topic of E-Bikes. Let’s first go over the two most common arguments I hear around my shop.
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E-Bikes are just a new way to cheat.
It’s a common complaint I hear about E-Bikes. I think it has some truth depending on the scenario. If someone is sneaking an E-Bike, whether road or mountain, into a race, then yes we can all agree that it’s cheating. But if someone is taking an E-Bike out for some recreational fun, I don’t see an issue. One could make the argument that the rider is cheating his/her personal fitness, but that’s a conscious decision that person has the right to make. I took a Specialized Levo FSR Expert out for a ride this morning. In certain areas where I would normally be gassed, I felt strong. In what would normally take me a couple of hours to complete, I did in just over an hour. I had fun the entire time and never felt as if I was cheating myself or anyone else around me. If I was on my personal bike and someone passed me on an E-Bike, I would greet them and wish them a happy ride. That’s the type of attitude I would like to see cyclists carry towards E-Bikes, even if they’re purists. If you have moral objections to E-Bikes, use the proper outlets to express them rather than confronting riders on the trail (e.g. writing a letter to the National Parks Service or Bureau of Land Management voicing your concern).

E-Bikes are just motorcycles in disguise.
Let’s refer back to my opening statement: “E-Bike” refers to a non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycle. There is a vast variety of E-Bikes on the market. Some even have throttles and high-wattage motors capable of speeds over 50mph. Those bikes aren’t the focus of this article. Instead, I am referring to bikes similar to the Specialized Levo. This type of E-Bike has a pedal assist motor that only engages when the rider is pedaling. The more physical effort put into the system, the more output the motor will produce. The pedal assist won’t engage until the rider is moving just under 2mph. The pedal assist automatically turns off once the rider hits a speed of 15-20mph depending on location of purchase (USA/Canada). So is an E-Bike just a clever way of selling motorcycles? A quick search for the definition of a motorcycle produced this result:
mo·tor·cy·cle
ˈmōdərˌsīk(ə)l/

noun
noun: motorcycle; plural noun: motorcycles
1. a two-wheeled vehicle that is powered by a motor and has no pedals.
The obvious discrepancy in this comparison comes down to the pedals. By this definition, E-Bikes are not motorcycles. They also lack any characteristics one would look for in a motorcycle. I believe cyclists are running into a mental block at the mere mention of a motor. I think it is unfair to conflate non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycles with those stocked with throttles and motors capable of reaching 50mph without pedaling.

To wrap my opinions up, I will mention a couple examples as to why I support E-Bikes on the trail. I recently spoke to a couple that love to mountain bike but have reached an age where traditional cycling is taking a toll on their bodies. They love the sport and E-Bikes may extend their ability to ride for many more years. The couple isn’t looking for an over-powering motor, just the opportunity to continue their passion. I’ve also heard of several riders who have physical ailments that have left them with very low lung capacity. E-Bikes have allowed these riders to stay on the trail and continue riding. I find it very difficult to protest E-Bikes when some people benefit so much from them. The rhetoric surrounding E-Bikes is becoming increasingly hostile. I hope this article provides some insight to why E-Bikes aren’t as evil as they’re being portrayed.

Please share your opinions below. Did I nail anything in this article? Is there anything I should reconsider my position on? Let me know, I’m interested to see what you guys think.

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to check out my content. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any comments/questions that you don’t want to post publicly, email me at justinchiazza@gmail.com

Biker Soap

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My family and I were out grocery shopping the other night when we stumbled upon a discounted soap marketed at cyclists. Since I’m a sucker for good marketing, the soap ended up in our shopping cart.

Biker Soap was created by a Formulation Chemist named Dr. Dennis T. Sepp. Dr. Sepp says, “Many years ago I created this hard-working soap as a special formula just for my son and his friends, all avid bikers.”

Here are some of the key features listed for Biker Soap:
  Quickly removes the toughest oils, grease and road dirt.
  Is gentle. Won’t damage or dry skin and will leave hands soft, smooth and moisturized.
  A natural cleanser which contains no drying agents or harsh chemicals, no pumice or abrasives.
  Gentle enough for the whole family to use everyday.
 
 Contains no animal ingredients and is not tested on animals.

The scent of tea tree oil really stands out in Biker Soap. The texture of Biker Soap is very smooth, it reminds me of any gentle hand soap put out by Dial or Softsoap.

Full information can be found by clicking here.

Catching up.

Recent picture I took of a sunset on the valley floor of Northern Nevada.
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I hope everyone’s 2016 is off to the start they had hoped for. I’m trying to get out a couple posts a month while I’m in school full time. I’m going to be releasing a review on a really cool tail light from NiteRider by the end of the month.
If you guys have any requests for an article of any type, please hit me up and I’ll do my best to give you a detailed post.
Email me: justinchiazza@gmail.com

Welcome to Surlywood!

New year, new excitement. And by that I mean, new products.
Surly is making it especially easy in 2016 to show off your Surly of choice with a new run of t-shirts that represent your specific bike.
Most shirts are offered in both male sizing (small-2xl) and female sizing (small-xl).
*Shirts available through Surly dealers. Visit Surly’s Website for a list of local dealers.
TrollStraggler
PugsleyCrossCheck
LHTIceCream

$30 DIY Cycling Home Decor

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After a time consuming semester and a newborn baby boy, I’m hoping to start blogging again with a vengeance. However, before I jump back into bicycle repairs and bike reviews, I wanted to get my feet wet with something simple.
Today I made a quick stop by Michaels art store and grabbed some cheap supplies to make some really cool cycling home decor. All you’ll need is: stencils, brush, chalk paint, and a wood canvas.

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All these items were available for $30 or less.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Stop by soon for some new posts 🙂

DIY: Almond Milk

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Anytime I have the chance to make something myself, in a controlled environment, to cut down on questionable ingredients, I always consider it worth my time and effort. When a buddy of mine mentioned that he and his wife had been making their own almond milk, I knew I had to try it. I experimented with a few different methods and narrowed it down to just a handful of clean and simple steps.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups blanched or sliced almonds
4 cups filtered water
Agave
Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon

Tools:
Bowl
Blender
Strainer
Cheesecloth

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First, dump your almonds into a bowl and fully submerge them in water. Set in the refrigerator and allow to soak overnight.
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Once soaked, empty almonds through a strainer. Add 2 cups of filtered water into blender.
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Combine your almonds and filtered water.
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Blend until almonds and water combine into a thick paste.
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Now you can make it your own. Add whatever amount of agave, vanilla extract, and cinnamon that you like. Once you get the desired taste, add two more cups of water.
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Blend it all together once more.
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Now place a few layers of cheesecloth inside your strainer. Hold the strainer over a bowl and slowly pour the milk over the cheesecloth. You will start to collect frothy remnants from your blend of ingredients. Shift the remnants arounds to allow the milk to pass through the cheesecloth. You will likely have to dispose of the cheesecloth halfway through and layer down some fresh cloth.
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Your final step is to pour a glass and enjoy!

Bonus tip: Add a spoonful of cacao powder for a clean and healthy chocolate milk.

I hope you enjoyed this article 🙂
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions/comments.
justinchiazza@gmail.com

Hammer Nutrition Vegan Protein

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Whenever I browse different supplements at various stores, and read two paragraphs of ingredients on each bottle that I’ve never heard of, I am thankful for companies like Hammer Nutrition. I am in no way a nutritionist but I’m familiar with the vast majority of ingredients they put in their product.

A few months ago I committed to a vegan diet and was searching to find a good plant based protein. I’ve used several products from hammer nutrition including their Whey, Perpetuem, Recoverite, Gels, as well as a variety of Hammer Energy Bars. I couldn’t have been happier to discover that the had a 100% vegan mix that is also gluten and soy free!

The blend of different plant proteins include derivations from peas, brown rice, alfalfa, and a whole bunch of other organic and healthy sources.

In one serving(1 Level Scoop), the nutritional facts are as follows:

Protein 20g
Calories 110
Sodium 140mg
Total Carbs 5g
Sugars 2g
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0g

You can mix it straight up with water but I like to blend up a plentiful post-workout shake with the following recipe:

1 scoop Hammer vegan mix
1 cup chocolate almond milk
1/2 of a frozen banana
1 spoonful almond or peanut butter
1/2 cup of raw oats
1 tbs chia seeds
2 ice cubes
*You can add, remove, or replace ingredients as you see fit 🙂

One 26 servings jug of Hammer Vegan Protein goes for $44.99 on their website. Check your local bike shop before ordering online.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please contact me if you have any questions.
justinchiazza@gmail.com