Crashes: The Achilles Heal of My Road Racing- Jake’s Blog 

I dedicate nearly all of my race Season to Enduro and XC Racing. So when I have an opportunity to compete in a road race, I need to capitalize and get the best result possible!  Out of the 13 USA Cycling sanctioned road races I have competed in during the past 2 years, I have been involved in 5 crashes. 3 of which occurred in the last 7 days!

img_9745The first crash I was caught in was the 2015 Bariani Road Race.  The crash occurred after racing 56 miles, 300ft before the finish, as a racer in the front of the peloton was blown sideways by a gust of wind, causing a domino effect crash. I instinctively swerved off into a paved ditch to avoid the multi-racer pileup, crashing there.

 

img_8161In 2016 during the last lap of the Folsom Criterium, the rider in 5th or 6th position crashed 2 bike lengths in front of me. Causing me to slam on the brakes to slowly ride around the crashed riders. This set me so far back that I had no shot at the win.

 

 

 

 

img_6477In 2017 during the Cantua Creek Road Race, the racer in 4th, who was directly in front of me crossed wheels and went down causing me to go over my handlebars. I untangled my bike and had to chase back to the lead group blowing all of my energy.  I just caught them before the finishing climb where I was dropped.

 

 

img_6741 5 days later during the Thunderhill Circuit race, on a tight, wet, corner on the last lap, a racer’s front wheel slid out causing a major crash.  I again had to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing, setting me far behind the lead group.

 

 

 

img_70622 days later during the Steve Harrison Criterium 2 1/2 laps in someone slammed into my rear wheel going into a corner nearly causing me to crash. The rider broke my rear wheel spoke and damaged my derailleur to the point where I couldn’t shift, and I was stuck in a small gear. I ended up riding to the pit zone and was forced to use a neutral bike throughout the rest of the race.

 

img_7056I’ve learned that if I get involved in a crash it is nearly impossible for me to get a points result, which I am seeking in order to upgrade from Category 3.  Since I have been caught in so many crashes, I know that in order to avoid being crashed out, I need to stay in safe positions in the peloton and always be ready to react and avoid any potential crashes!

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Lauf, May The (Best) Fork Be With You -Jake’s Blog

IMG_0102Over my 10 years of bike racing I have raced, ridden, and pushed many different forks to the max of their performance, and although they worked well I never knew there would be a better option available for XC racing.  This year I finally have the closest fork to perfect, The Lauf Trail Racer Boost.

IMG_8369Lauf Forks have been the best performing XC forks on the market since they were introduced. In early 2016 Lauf introduced a second generation fork, The Lauf Trail Racer Boost. The Boost Fork is now 20% stiffer, laterally, and forward & aft.  This increases the suspension’s performance and gives you more feedback and control during your ride!  What follows is a review of the Lauf Trail Racer Boost.

IMG_0412The Lauf Trail Racer Boost is the best XC fork I have ever ridden and there are many things that make it the best!  The Lauf Trail Racer Boost is the lightest XC fork on the market, being made completely of carbon ( and 6 fiberglass leaf springs ) it comes in at only 2.20lbs!  The Lauf Trail Racer Boost also features 60mm / 2.35in of travel, it’s maintenance free, has 15mm thru axel, a tapered steer tube and comes with a 5 year warranty!

IMG_1001The Lauf Trail Racer Boost is not only light, but I feel it is the best performing XC fork.  CLIMBING: The Lauf Trail Racer Boost blows all other XC forks out of the water when it comes to climbing.  A racers ability to climb is most greatly effected by weight/gravity.  No one can argue that shedding  1.00-1.75lbs off your fork will significantly boost your performance!  Unlike the bobbing of an Air Sprung traditional fork, the fiberglass leaf springs of the Lauf Boost Fork do not flex during stand up climbing.  This allows me to put all of my energy into the pedals without loosing it through the compression of the fork.  And I don’t have to mess around or maintain a lockout!  DESCENDING:  Our Team has raced the Lauf Fork at events like: The Downieville Classic XC Race and The Mammoth Mountain Kamakazie Games XC Race. IMG_4635 Time after time the Lauf Fork has proven its ability to handle the rugged trails.  Given the great benefit we receive from climbing with the Lauf at those difficult courses I wouldn’t trade it for another fork!  The Luaf’s 60mm of travel is progressive, which means it is the most compliant in the beginning – perfect for absorbing small bumps and rocks- and becomes stiffer the further it compresses.  Exactly what you need for bigger hits and bigger drops!

In April I raced the Kenda Cup race #3 in Fontana CA, and it was the perfect place to put the Lauf Trail Racer Boost to the test!  The XC course had it all:rock drops, jumps, babyhead rock gardens and washboards.  The descent had several rock drops up to 1.5ft tall and the Lauf capably handled them all without bottoming out!  There were also a few sections of babyhead rock gardens.  I was able to speed  though these sections because the Lauf Boost, with it’s progressive travel, glided, extremely smoothly over these babyhead rocks!  The steep, heavily brake bumped section was where the Lauf really out performed its competition!  Traditional forks compression/rebound cycle doesn’t react fast enough to allow the wheel to trace over the wash boards, resulting in the wheel bouncing from top to top of each washboard. However, The Lauf Boost Leaf suspension is adept at tracing through the peaks and valleys of the brake bumps, resulting in a more smoother ride. Having The Lauf Boost Fork was like bonus, it handled all these obstacles capably, and boy was I loving the its lightweight, up the 1 mile, 700ft climb each lap!

IMG_1361This is my 2nd year of riding a Lauf, and 1st year of riding a Lauf Boost.  I haven’t had a single problem or complaint about either Fork.  So if your looking for a lighter, better and faster XC fork, acquire a Lauf Trail Racer Boost it will be the best fork you’ve ever ridden!