First Appetite Seminar

Barring weather every Thanksgiving in Marin County, California, USA since 1975 for hundreds of mountain bikers has started with a group ride on the historical hallowed trails where it all began. The tradition known as the “Appetite Seminar” is described best by Charlie Kelly, one of the founding fathers of modern day mountain biking, on his dated but informative web page.

This year I was finally able to join the horde of appetite riders with a group of friends and it was terrific. The conditions were soggy at times and a bit chilly (38° F at our 6am start) but once we were moving that was a non-issue.

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SRAM Eagle 1×12 Drivetrains: Good News, Bad News

Upon learning of the new system SRAM announced recently it was nearly impossible to avoid daydreaming about the possibility of running a 36t chainring  (I run a 32t today) while actually improving the climbing gear ratio.  That’s just incredible. Never mind that probably the most important advancement for me, assuming true, is the improvement in durability (see 1×11 Drivetrain Competition) .

If this new system is in fact more durable and the frequency of replacing chains and cassettes is reduced enough the total cost of ownership would go down (even though the initial cost is STEEP)!

All (most) of this is really good news.

And now for the bad news.  I just heard back on my inquiry to Quarq and was informed their XX1 power meters are incompatible with the new Eagle system and at this time they “have no announcement about a replacement”. So if you are an XX1 user today with a Quarq power meter, at least for now, it seems you must choose between riding with power and the new 1×12 SRAM system.

White Hill Preserve Trail Work

Weather may have cancelled the Novato South Little League opening day ceremonies but that didn’t keep us inside! Along with about 20 or so other able bodied trail enthusiasts my son and I braved the conditions to help maintain a very popular trail just outside of Fairfax in the White Hill Open Space Preserve.

He was very excited to wield the pickaxe and even more so when he discovered the colorful critters underneath. Special thanks to the gentleman with the bandaid that helped address a “carrying mishap” he experienced with the tool.

The work was focused on getting the water to drain from the trail quickly which included both rut filling and enhancements to existing berms and a couple of new ones.  In addition we did pull a bunch of french broom, quite the invasive species, from the trail side.

After a long morning of work we joined most of the crew at Red Boy Pizza in Fairfax for some well earned post activity food and beverages. Thank you Marin County Parks, Marin County Bike Coalition, One Tam and everyone who helped make it a fun and successful day out there!

51 Mountain Bike Capitals of the US

The editors over at singletracks.com put together their list of the best destination for mountain biking in each state + a national capital that’s worth seeing as it will either a) give you motivation to make a trip or two with your beloved bike,  b) give you fodder for debate amongst your friends or perhaps both.

Before you fully engage the debate, however, it’s equally worthy to review their criteria:

The quality and quantity of mountain bike trails available in each specific area.

Current trail access issues and any recent hostility toward mountain biking.

The general popularity of a given destination with today’s mountain bikers.

Amenities and infrastructure to support mountain biking tourism, including bike shops, shuttle services, craft beer, restaurants, lodging, and more.

Living in the cradle of mountain biking here in Marin I was not necessarily surprised that it wasn’t the chosen capital of California but since they listed some of the contenders and it wasn’t listed there either (even if it as bundled under “many, many more”) I was a bit surprised but it highlights an omission of a criterion that would have potentially changed the outcome: climate, measured in solid riding days/year.  Of course despite that additional criterion I’m sorry to say it still wouldn’t have made the list at least in part due to the access issues and I’m certain this played a critical role in other selections too, cough-Idaho-cough,cough.

Personally, given those criteria and with the addition of # days of riding per year I would have chosen Santa Cruz. No offense to South Lake Tahoe, which is great and only getting better I might add, but Santa Cruz has way more of a mountain biking vibe,  hosts a premier manufacturer and has incredible trails that can be ridden 11 months of the year.

Not a surprise for those who know me but I would place zero value in the availability of shuttle services.

All that said perhaps another outcome of seeing this list, sort of in line with a) above, is counting the # of these destinations you’ve visited with your bike. I’m happy to report I’ve made it to 5 capitals: CA, IN, NV, WV, WY and after this year I may be able to add a couple more.

How many have you ridden? Does this influence your riding bucket list in anyway?