Santa Cruz Bike Ultimate Experience

Back-story below image bank. Click first image for full sized view.

Early in October we saw a Facebook post from Greg Minnaar about “The Ultimate Mountain Bike Experience”.  After a bit of exploring we knew this would be an awesome experience indeed.

Instead of the usual Christmas with gifts under the tree, Jenn and I felt that collecting experiences and traveling were a much more worthy gift at this stage in our lives so we decided to do this for Zach and the family this year.

After some really fun decoys and unique school arrangements (re-arranging final exams) Zach and Jenn met me in San Jose.  We led Zach to believe we were going to meet Bear Grylls as part of my company’s annual party. Little did he know. We headed south and decided to stop in Santa Cruz for lunch and explore.  “Hey Zach,” I said, “Isn’t the Santa Cruz Bike Factory in Santa Cruz?”

After lunch and touring the town we decided to get a room in Santa Cruz and head for the company party in the morning.  Zach still had no clue.

Jenn and I were both getting concerned that he was still not catching on to the whole thing.  Later that evening I sent him an email outlining the event with a simple “ Merry Christmas” in the subject line. He was laying on the bed checking email and read it and started looking weird. “Merry Christmas?  Hey we are in Santa Cruz, did you know that there is a Santa Cruz event where we can ride with Peaty and Greg and Josh, tour the factory and get to be part of Peaty’s premier of his new movie?”

“Duh, that’s why we are here.”

He flipped out. Needless to say the day was one of the most memorable for him, as it was for us.

Being in a position in life to provide for your family is a blessing. To be able to gift an experience to your family and amazing young son that has truly found his passion is priceless.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Santa Cruz Bikes, Rob Roskopp, Greg Minnaar, Steve Peat, Josh Bryceland, The Clymb, and everyone that made this experience possible and exceptional.  Well done everyone–we will be back!

Icycle Race 2013 and Hub Hunt

Icycle 2013 Bike RaceSo we were being really wishy-washy about attending the 2013 Icycle Downhill Night Race, but at the last minute—Saturday morning of the race—we loaded up the Jeep and hit the road. Pleased to discover higher than forecasted temps and lots of sunshine, the drive up was beautiful. Patches of snow remained from the storm that blew through on Friday and huge icicles hung from the rocky cliffs. The views of Fontana Lake below made for an easy drive.

Approaching Fontana Village Resort, our mission became obvious. A herd of extremely muddy bikers emerge from the woods as they complete laps in the cross country race that began a few hours earlier. Mud would be the common factor of the day. It’s on every rider, on every bike, it’s something to be ridden through, to be ridden around. The racers slide through it, fall in it, some wallow in it. The photographers sit in it, kneel in it, and lie in it to get the shot. Saturday became about negotiating the “peanut butter” for racers and spectators alike. Now add darkness!

Racer Kevin Loorham on his first practice run down the hill.
DH Racer Kevin Loorham’s First Run

This was a first for many of us new to the sport of downhill racing: a race at night with a light conveniently attached to helmet, handle bars, or both. As the moon rises, those 650 lumen lights feel lacking, at least from the perspective of a parent. None of us first-timers to Icycle could imagine how these young men and women would get down the hill in the mud and in the dark without breaking their bikes or worse, their bodies. But they did! And it was a blast! The mood was festive, excited and friendly all day long. The practice runs in the dark were a great visual from the base of the hill by the warmth of the bonfire. Racers’ lamps twinkled in the woods like a strand of Christmas lights decorating the mountain. Very cool!

Oskar Blues Brevard Sponsors Icycle 2013
Oskar Blues Brevard Sponsors Icycle 2013

Christopher Herndon, the event organizer, put on a fabulous show this year. He had the support of generous sponsors including Sycamore Cycles, Industry Nine, Oskar Blues Brewery Brevard, Specialized Bicycles, Gamut, Cane Creek, Suspension Experts, and of course Fontana Village Resort. Prizes included some awesome swag, bike parts, and the most likely favored prize… cash. The end of the event was capped off with a “hub hunt.” Think egg hunt for biking fanatics looking for the ultimate goody! All race attendees stood around a huge circle filled with 100 Industry Nine boxes, 99 were empty. Only one contained the coveted set of shiny orange hubs. Should you want to see more, there is video! And it’s a good thing because I am pretty sure all the photogs put their cameras down to try and find that one-in-a-hundred for themselves. Turns out luck was on my side that night. The first box I picked up was heavy. What are the chances? One in a hundred, I guess! Much to my son’s dismay I found the box and brought home a beautifully crafted bright orange hub set by Industry Nine.

Industry Nine Hub Hunt at Icycle 2013
Industry Nine Hub Hunt at Icycle 2013

It was a super event and a really fun day that included getting to know quite a few Brevard College students and cyclists, hanging out with the nice folks who have become our downhill family, and watching my son—and so many others—do the thing they love most. Thank you to the organizers and sponsors. We look forward to next year’s Icycle Event.

Pictures from the event can be found at Random Start Photography, GoJaMMedia, GoJaMMedia on FB, and Icon Media Asheville. Race Results have been posted to See you next year!

Industry Nine Hub Hunt at Icycle 2013
Industry Nine Hubs, Icycle 2013

Zach to Ride with Snyder Cycles in 2013

Zach Miller with Snyder Cycles for 2013After a successful 2012 with Steve Peat Syndicate NA, Zach was invited to ride with the Snyder Cycles Gravity & BMX Team for 2013. Team leader Ryan Kramer has assembled a great group of gravity and BMX riders of all ages and experience from around the Metro Atlanta area. The gravity teammates include Chris Frohsin, Austin Mason, Justin Rush, Owen Witcher, Kyle Brnovich, Ethan Bell and Ryan Kramer.

It’s going to be an awesome year for the Snyder Cycles Team. Zach is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this growing group. We as a family are looking forward to joining with this family.

Snyder Cycles, the lead sponsor of the team, is an Atlanta-based manufacturing  and bicycle repair company specializing in the construction of steel bicycle frames and custom, hand-built bicycle wheels. The teams co-sponsors include SUNringle, ODI, Nema, HDFIT, answer, and ProGold.


Whatchu Grabbin’? blogs about OURY GripsComing in at 8 ounces, standing 4.5 inches tall, we have the Oury lock-on grips! Perfect for those of us who like the big diameter grips. The squishy and tacky compound seems to fuse to your hand (or glove) after just a few minutes of riding.

I only recently—like last week—started riding gloveless and it feels awesome! The Oury grips have this crazy anti-vibration rubber compound that is really comfortable to your fingers and palm. The design of the grip is basically a row of four large rubber squares or ‘pads’ going around the whole grip.

Now, your probably wondering, “If the compound is so squishy and molds so easily, wouldn’t that make the ride feel weird?”A quick pinch of the Oury grip 'pads' shows how squishy it really is.

Not necessarily, the grips help to absorb a bit of the annoying trail vibration or small breaking bumps that you might feel otherwise. You can tell by the pictures that the rubber moves around pretty easily. This allows it to move with you and mold to your hand.

I have very girly hands and I’ve always been concerned about riding gloveless because of the comfort level and the grips feeling too shallow or harsh over the smallest of things. Thankfully, these awesome little buggers make it all good!

Oury grip compared to the Peaty grip I have been using these lock-on grips since August on my downhill bike. I would definitely recommend these to anybody looking to try riding without gloves or anyone needing new grips. They will make a great stocking stuffer!

You can find the amazingness at Oury Grips. They are made in the USA.


Air Travel with a Downhill Bike

We’ve had the pleasure of visiting many bike parks this season, two of which required air travel. Due to the tight race schedule and distance/ground transport times, shipping the bike to our destination was not an option. The thought of putting my son’s race bike on an airplane was horrifying from the get-go. I couldn’t imagine that anything would keep it safe from damage, accidental or neglectful. After weeks of researching how to travel with a bike we finally settled on the Iron Case by TricoSports.

Air Travel with Downhill BikeOur original pick was a soft-sided case that would allow the bike to be transported almost fully assembled. This seemed a great option to reduce the time putting the bike back together at our destination. When I discovered the luggage policy on one of the airline sites that we’d have to sign a disclaimer for any damages to a bike checked in a soft-sided case, I nixed the idea immediately and went back to the hard cases. The long wheel-base on the downhill bike meant that it would have to be dismantled almost completely to fit inside the 30″ wide x 47″ tall x 10″ deep case. And we still weren’t sure it would all fit.

It did. And after four flights to and from, I feel like a seasoned veteran of traveling with a bike. I thank my lucky stars that I was not the one having to re-assemble and take apart the bike for each leg of travel. We used neoprene and foam coozies for padding and to prevent rubbing, suspended the derailer and rear brake caliper between the swing arm with zip ties, and put the disc rotors between stiff cardboard. The necessary tools to reassemble were also put in the box with lots of padding. We tried to make sure nothing would move or fall out when opened. The concern was keeping track of all the moving parts while TSA inspects the box. We had no idea if they’d take the care that we had to put it back together after inspection. When all was said and done, everything fit but it was kind of scary. We could only fit 2 of the 3 foam pieces that came with the box. The layer above what you see in the picture was the second foam piece with both of the wheels, and then a few layers of bubble wrap on top of that. It took both me and my son to get the box closed. We developed a system of loosely buckling the straps at first, then going around the box and tightening each strap one by one, until it felt secure and snug. Next, we check in at the airport.

Less daunting than I imagined, the TSA process in oversize luggage wasn’t too bad. A ten year veteran to her job, our agent was really friendly. She did what she needed to do and worked not to create chaos with all the parts. She even allowed us to help her re-buckle the case to our liking. We had similar good experiences in the Atlanta, Denver, and Seattle airports. If you are respectful to the TSA agents and request to watch the inspection, they will attempt to accomodate you. One agent even said he preferred that the customer be present. Thankfully, the bike made it to the destinations with us and without damage or loss each time.

A few things to consider if you are planning air travel with your bike:

  • Airlines suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to deal with the oversize luggage. Do it! You never know when there is another bike, or 2 or 3 sets of golf clubs ahead of you.
  • Don’t forget that vehicle rental (or however you’re traveling) at the destination has to be large enough to carry the bike box.
  • Check oversize luggage fees in advance at each airlines. They range from $50 on Southwest, to $150 on Delta and United. Remember that the fee is each way. Ouch! Up to $300 plus your ticket? Yes, it’s painful. Bike info is usually on the Baggage Policies page and under Sports Equipment.
  • Try renting a bike travel case. We were lucky to find a local business Atlanta Bike Travel Case Rentals from which to rent our case. It saved a lot of money not having to buy the case outright, and it saved the trouble of having to store it until next year.
  • The large frame carbon DH bike packed inside the box weighed about 75 lbs.

Good luck!