As we look back at 2013, the Gates Carbon Drive singlespeed mountain bike team would like to thank all its sponsors for creating some amazing bikes and contributing to a highly successful season. The team hit 30 races in three states and landed on the podium 24 times. Team captain and bearded pedal pusher Tim Lucking took first place in the 18 Hours of Fruita as part of a two-man team that raced on singlespeeds against geared competition. Says Tim:
“Mitch Westall had a banner year, winning three of the biggest series in Colorado–the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series, the Winter Park Race Series, and the Highlands Ranch Backcountry Mountain Bike Series. Jesse Swift, Derek Strong, and Taylor Nye took third place in the team relay category of the grueling Breckenridge 100.”
In 2012, journalist Ryan Stuart and several buddies undertook one of Canada’s most extreme cycling expeditions. The Canol Heritage Trail extends about 220 miles from Macmillian Pass at the border of the Yukon and Northwest Territories and heads northeast to Mackenzie River and the town of Norman Wells. The trail follows an abandoned oil pipeline that has lapsed into decay. A group of mountain bikers had completed the route in the 1990s, but it had become overgrown with vegetation during the intervening years, making passage difficult for Stuart and his colleagues.
Carrying all their food and gear, including inflatable rafts for river crossings, Stuart and his team traveled from 15 to 50 miles per day, depending on the roughness of the terrain. Grizzly bears were a constant worry. Bike malfunctions were not an option. To avoid mechanical issues and derailleur failures, Stuart rode his singlespeed belt drive mountain bike, a Norco Judan. His Gates Carbon Drive performed without a hitch, with no need for lube or daily maintenance.
Stuart wrote about the arduous adventure in Bike Magazine in 2013 in a story called “Pipeline Passage.” An excerpt from his report:
“The Canol is often credited as being Canada’s most rigorous backpaging route: 22 days of mountainous wilderness, 10 big climbs, high concentrations of grizzly bears, three major river crossings, and dozens of miles of boulder-hopping, stream crossing, and leaping over mud pits. But rather than hike it with two or three food drops like most adventure seekers, we’ve decided to ride it unsupported with 10 days of food packed on our singlespeed mountain bikes.”
Stuart is among the growing number of bicycle adventurers who are using their belt drive bikes for epic expeditions that cause problems for chains. Other recent examples include Reza Pakravan who rode 11,000 miles from the Arctic Circle in Finland to Cape Town South Africa on a belt drive touring bike, and Geoff Harper of the Unchained Iceland expedition who rode a fat bike with Gates Carbon Drive around Iceland’s gritty beaches for three weeks. We salute Stuart and all the other adventurers who are taking their belt drive bikes on expeditions that push the limits of endurance and allow the rest of us to dream big.
Mitch Westall of Team Gates Carbon Drive takes the top stop of the Shimano Cyclo X Series podium, while the team takes a total of six of the top 10 placings!
Mitch Westall and Taylor Nye take 1st and 3rd in the Shimano Cyclo X Series
After seven races, the Shimano Cyclo X Series presented by Without Limits Productions, still had several possible winners as racers lined up for the eighth and final race! And it was sure to be an epic race, as single digit temperatures and and a shortened snow-covered course at the Boulder Reservoir greeted riders Saturday morning. And if the arctic temperatures weren’t enough, the snow made for an extremely technical course, offering up just a narrow lane of solid snow which turned to loose snow and sand just inches off-line. The battle was on from the start, and it didn’t take long before the leaders were into lapped traffic on the course, which made passing another technical aspect of the race. Without a doubt, Mitch was able to put his past years of mountain bike racing to the test, taking aggressive lines and maintaining traction, because of the superior traction of his low-pressure Stan’s No Tubes setup.
At the finish line, Mitch stayed upright to take second place, with just five seconds covering the top three places. That was just enough points to ensure he maintained first place in the series to take the win! I’m sure much of the other racers were jealous of the Carbon Belt Drive and TRP Helix full-hydraulic disc brakes both of which were completely unaffected by the ice and cold temperatures. Overall in the series, Team Gates Carbon Drive took a commanding six, of the top ten placings in the series. Congrats to Mitch Westall in 1st, Taylor Nye in 3rd, Ryan McFarling in 6th, Taylor Jung in 7th, Derek Strong in 9th and Jesse Swift in 10th!
Sunday’s race was less dramatic, but no less miserable, as Taylor Jung and I lined up in Morrison, Colorado in more single-digit temperatures. Another tricky, icy, yet very fun course laid out by the RLW crew, with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. I can tell you, the race was all about survival, even as we waited for the signal to race. But in the end, Taylor did an awesome job learning from a crash on Saturday, and took an impressive 4th place on the day.
Mika Amaro is a city bike brand based on Cologne, Germany, that specializes in edgy and fashionable urban bikes. They have just introduced three new bike models, all with Gates Carbon Drive. The Cushy Black and Indy White have an eight-speed Shimano Alfine internal hub, Brooks leather saddle and grips, curved handlebars and Mika Amaro’s distinctive parallel spoke lacing pattern. The Inky Blue is a clean and low maintenance singlespeed with horn handlebars and airline rims. All feature high gloss paint and other refined touches.
Cushy Black stalking the streets.
Indy White dresses up a pair of jeans.
Mika Amaro produces just 111 bikes of each model, and each buyer receives a numbered bike from 1 to 111. The brand’s bikes bikes are sold in Berlin by Stilrad and in Switzerland by Fixieshop.ch, as well as through the brand’s online store. Cologne is a beautiful city on the Rhine. Now it has a bike brand made for it’s modern cityscape and lifestyle.
Matthew Small is a 15-year Marine Corps veteran serving in Afghanistan as a member of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, a high-risk job that involves removing bombs and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that have claimed many lives in the war-torn country. On Sept. 21 and 22 Small and three other Marines will embark on a charity ride like no other: They will pedal 160 miles through a combat zone to raise money for wounded and fallen ordnance disposal technicians.
The ride will raise money for the EOD Warrior Foundation (www.eodwarriorfoundation.com), a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to the families of injured and fallen Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians and family members. The EODRIDE (www.eodride.org) was created to honor EOD Technicians, promote healthy healing and camaraderie among supporters. EOD Rides are held annually in locations across the United States and overseas. The Afghanistan EOD Ride will be a first.
Last year, Small led eight fellow technicians on a course through the hills of Okinawa, Japan. “Upon hearing of my deployment to Afghanistan I began planning for another memorable ride; the Afghan EODRIDE,” Small says. “My sincerest hope is that my efforts and time inspire others to give a little more, push a little farther and never give up when presented with a challenge.” Learn more about the Afghan EOD Ride at www.facebook.com/afghaneodride. So far Small and his buddies have raised more than $3,000 for the foundation.
Small will ride a custom Trek District with Gates Carbon Drive. He worked with Gates engineers to upgrade his bike with a CenterTrack belt drive system. “With over a thousand miles of training rides on the bike to date, I am pleased with the feel, performance and reliability of the CenterTrack system,” Small writes us.
Stay tuned for an update from Small after the ride. Meantime, consider making a donation at the links above, and share the Afghan EODRide Facebook link with your friends.