The San Juan and Candy Store Mountain Bike Trail

February 18, 2009 by  
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It’s amazing the things that were around me, that I never realized were there, that is until the whole mountain biking bug got me.

The San Juan Trail, and the Candy Store Trail are just about 35 minutes from my house, and I never even knew they existed 3 months ago. But they have become two of my favorite trails. Now I am not a hard core XC rider, that said, we shuttle these two trails, they do have some pedaling mixed in with the downhill and it’s a pretty good workout (for me). Usually we go in a group and park one car at the bottom to bring the driver of the other car back to the top to get his truck. You need a forest Adventure pass to park there; the rangers do patrol the area periodically to check for them. A year pass is only 35 bucks, well worth it.

san juan candy store rides 300x225 The San Juan and Candy Store Mountain Bike TrailI ride with my 2 sons mostly and some of their friends, yeah, I know, my two sons! Yep, well I am 50, and have been doing the 2 wheel thing since I was old enough to push a pedal or twist a throttle. My 2 rides on the San Juan Trail, and 2 on the Candy Store section, have been in the best conditions, winter, cool temperature and 3 of the rides were after rain or during, making the sandstone like trails the perfect texture for some great riding.

This is single track riding, mostly between bushes and manzanita. That Manzanita will rip you right off your bike, shred your jersey, poke your arm, maybe draw a little blood, and then not even look like you touched it. There are some awesome switchbacks, fast narrow sections and some sections that weave under a canopy of trees, it is almost too beautiful of a scene to just bomb past.  Read more

Are You “Over Skilled”?

December 30, 2008 by  
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I would have to say that 90% of the MTB riders and racers that I have met would be defined as “over skilled”. It sounds absurd since most feel that some aspect of their riding needs work, be it skill related such as gate starts or fitness related such as better power endurance (I define MTB specific fitness as a “skill”). However, when you really understand how the human body functions and best adapts to MTB specific skills and fitness you will see what I mean. First, though, I need to explain the OPP.

optimum performance pyramid 300x207 Are You Over Skilled?The Optimum Performance Pyramid (OPP) was first introduced to me by Gray Cook, a highly influential figure in strength training circles. It is probably the best explanation that I have come across describing how performance training should be viewed. Gray uses the OPP to explain the 3 distinct levels of performance training, their prioritization and how to best integrate them.

The first, and broadest, level is Functional Movement. Contrary to the current fitness trends, this does not mean standing on a wobbly doo-hicky, looking like you are trying out for the circus. Functional Movement simply refers to developing adequate mobility, body control and movement awareness in order to safely handle higher level movements.

Examples of exercises in this level would include single leg box squats, pistol squats, Bulgarian split squats, single leg deadlift, push ups and their variations, inverted rows and alternating DB shoulder press. Bodyweight and unilateral exercises make up the bulk of this type of training. However, bodyweight exercises are extremely humbling when challenging variations are used. Do not underestimate the power of this type of training.

The Functional Movement level should also address any imbalances in the body, both mobility and strength wise, as they are a huge red flag for a potential injury. An athlete without a strong base built in this level of training will be far more prone to injuries, have a harder time mastering new skills and techniques and generally find that their training efforts yield few and inconsistent results.

The second level of the pyramid is Functional Strength. This level focuses on improving your raw strength and power. As I have touched on many times, increasing these areas will effectively add to your raw potential. Riders without adequate time spent on this level will also find that they have a harder time mastering new skills and will probably feel as if they have hit a plateau with their progression.

Examples of exercises in this level would include deadlift, front squat, bench press, military press, weighted pull ups/ chin ups, and DB rows. Compound, core exercises for the main movement patterns make up the bulk of this level.

The last, and smallest, level is Functional Skill. Unfortunately, this is where most training that MTB riders undertake would fall. This includes trail riding, DH runs, dirt jumping, 4X track time, gate starts, sprints, intervals and high level strength training methods such as plyometrics and Olympic Lifts. These methods will only yield the biggest “MTB specific” gains if they are used by someone who has spent time developing the base levels of the performance training pyramid. Believe it or not, over use of training methods in this level can actually slow down and stagnate skill development and fitness progression.  Read more

Early Bird Registration Opens for the National Bike Summit, March 10-12

December 18, 2008 by  
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The below was an email received on December 18, 2008 from IMBA
For Immediate Release
Contact: Drew Vankat, Policy Analyst

Join IMBA and an expected 600 bicycle advocates at the 2009 National Bike Summit, March 10-12, in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the League of American Bicyclists, the Summit provides a unique opportunity for mountain bikers to interact with cyclists of all stripes, attend diverse informational sessions and lobby the halls of Congress. IMBA supporters who attend receive discounted registration, a private banquet dinner and tons of great swag.

An Extremely Important Year for the National Bike Summit

The sweeping administrative and congressional changes in D.C. make 2009 an extremely important year. “With so many new members of congress, it’s more important than ever to show them the human face of mountain biking and introduce yourself to their staff and your issues,” says IMBA Government Affairs Director Jenn Dice. “Mountain bikers have a golden opportunity to protect more land, influence public lands bills, increase funding for trails and lay the foundation for productive working relationships.”

Attendees will be treated to presentations and panel discussions on many important topics. IMBA is currently finalizing an exceptional line-up of speakers and sessions to cover the following topics: urban trails and jump parks, integrating trails and neighborhoods, small-group land protection training, funding for the National Park Service and integrating singletrack into the Bicycle Friendly Community program.

Sign up online to attend the National Bike Summit. Early bird registration is now open and available through Feb. 5.

Bolster Your Trails by Attending the National Bike Summit

The Summit is the perfect way to build a relationship with your member of congress. U.S. representatives and senators can be very powerful allies when the time comes to develop singletrack destinations. Just ask the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC), who garnered $800,000 for new singletrack north of Minneapolis. “Your congressional office can help you find the right way to go after money for trails. The funding opportunities are there, but you have to go out and get it,” says MORC’s Tim Wegner.

Mike Dulin, of the Kentucky Mountain Biking Association, says, “Last year’s Summit was amazing. The combined knowledge of so many fellow cycling advocates is truly inspiring and the meetings on Capitol Hill are a fantastic way to get the ball rolling on new trails projects.”

Advocates looking to influence public lands protection also benefit from coming to D.C. “We’ve sent Virginians to the National Bike Summit the past few years and it’s undoubtedly helped us become better advocates for mountain biking and protected landscapes in the Jefferson and George Washington national forests,” says IMBA Trail Solutions Director Rich Edwards.

Resources to Get the Most Out of the National Bike Summit

IMBA pulls out the stops to make sure mountain bikers make the most of this event. Attendees are encouraged to register early so they can join pre-Summit conference calls and take advantage of IMBA’s online resources for comprehensive guidance on a variety of topics, including how to raise money to attend and finding lodging options. Limited scholarship money is available to help offset costs.

If you’re serious about taking your local singletrack to the next level, make sure the National Bike Summit is on your schedule.

Entry-Level Hardtail Shootout

December 18, 2008 by  
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Choosing your first bike can be tough. There are a lot of options out there and everybody has a different opinion about what is best. First let’s clear some things up: For the most part the name is the frame, that’s it. Almost all, if not all of the other components on a bike are made by another company that makes the same components for the other bike manufacturer. A lot of people get stuck on a name and think that a certain bike name means quality, but the real key is to try to get the best components for the buck. If you don’t know much about bikes this can be tough but I’m here to help. Here is a quick guide to few different hardtail bikes out there. The full-suspension shootout is coming soon. If you aren’t sure what you want check out the Hardtail vs. Full-Suspension article on MTOBikes.

2008 GT Avalanche 2.0 MSRP $629

gt avalanche 20 mountain bike 300x154 Entry Level Hardtail Shootout

Good value. Triple triangle frame is very tough but a little bit on the heavy side. This one is great for more aggressive or heavier riders.

GT Avalanche 2.0 Product Page

2009 Trek 4500 MSRP $689

trek 4500 mountain bike 300x195 Entry Level Hardtail Shootout

This is a great entry-level cross-country bike. It is light compared to others in it’s class but not built for anything overly aggressive. Perfect for fast singletrack.

Trek 4500 Product Page

2009 Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc MSRP $770

specialized rockhopper comp disc mountain bike 300x247 Entry Level Hardtail Shootout

Usually I find Specialized to be overpriced, but this model is a pretty good value. It costs a bit more than the competition, but you get paid back with some better components. This will definitely outlast the competition by a bit. If you want a solid all-around performer with a longer life, this is it.

Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc Product Page

2009 Mongoose Tyax Super MSRP $649

mongoose tyax super mountain bike Entry Level Hardtail Shootout

Not a bad combo. Uses a lot of off brand components like Promax and SR Suntour which means a decrease in quality but for $649 you get a decent hardtail with hydraulic disc brakes (they make a world of difference) and a remote lockout for your front fork (cool feature for riding on hardpack or streets).

Mongoose Tyax Super Product Page

2009 Kona Blast MSRP $699

kona blast mountain bike 300x176 Entry Level Hardtail Shootout

Solid setup overall. Not much else to say.

Kona Blast Product Page

2009 Gary Fisher Wahoo Disc MSRP $659

gary fisher wahoo disc mountain bike 300x188 Entry Level Hardtail Shootout

I’m very impressed with this setup. Solid drive train including, nice mechanical disc brakes, and a decent wheelset. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck this is it!

Gary Fisher Wahoo Disc Product Page

Buying tips

Avoid buying online or used, I’m not saying don’t consider it, but be very wary.  Check out our MTOBikes article on buying used bikes for more details.

Look for last years models in bike shops, you can often get a great deal.

Ride before you buy. Different manufacturers use slightly different geometries and sometimes this is the most accurate measure of a good bike. Think of it this way are you buying a bike or are you buying fitness, a new hobby, thrill, etc.?

You will need a lot more than just a bike, plan a hundred or more extra and see if you can get a deal on some of your accessories (this is where bike shops usually have the most margin).

Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

December 9, 2008 by  
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We wrote a review awhile back about Ay Up’s mountain bike and road bike light system.  Ay Up’s lights weigh under 60 grams and the battery a tad over 80 grams which enables users the ability to use the new Gecko Lightest Mount velcro mountain system.  This type of helmet mounting offers an alternative method of mounting your helmet lights and batteries.

The below is a press release from Ay UP

ay up gecko lightset mount 1 300x226 Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

ay up gecko lightset mount 2 300x146 Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

ay up gecko lightset mount 3 300x197 Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

Above image shows the Gecko Lightset Mount …

Using very flexible plastic mountings that can be contorted and twisted into any shape along with Industrial Strength 3M velcro dots you can now mount your helmet and light mount in seconds.

ay up gecko battery holder naked 300x177 Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

Above image showing the naked Gecko Battery Holder, note the slots in the sides to allow cable ties through for permanent mounting. (featured on both the mounts)

Both mounts can be removed completely extremely quickly leaving behind 8 velcro dots on your helmet. Battery swap over is super fast for those ever shorter pit stops during epic races.

Daytime use helmet below…

ay up gecko lightset mount daytime use 300x187 Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

With both Gecko’s attached less the Lightset which snaps into place …

ay up gecko lightset mount both mounts attached 300x201 Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

Complete Gecko System, installed in seconds

ay up gecko lightset mount system 300x211 Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

The added benefit of the mounts being super flexible is you can mount these anywhere on any type of surface.

Below head on image shows the slim but strong profile of the Gecko Lightset Mount…

ay up gecko lightset mount profile 300x162 Ay Up Introduces the Gecko Lightset Mount

Round poles, walls, glass, skate lids, caving, hard hats and helmets with no vents whatsoever, no problem.

The mount weight is under 5 grams but these little guys are as tough and as strong as our current mounts. The plastic composite we use super flexible and UV protective. They will attach to any profile and shape, no worries …

Not Your Grandmother’s Wool—Smart Wool Socks Perfect for Cooler Riding Conditions

December 7, 2008 by  
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smart wool womens phd cycling light mini sock 300x300 Not Your Grandmother’s Wool—Smart Wool Socks Perfect for Cooler Riding ConditionsI promised myself this fall and winter would be different; I’d stop thinking of excuses to not ride and just start riding. So I piled up on winterwear: under-helmet beanie, tights, long-fingered gloves, and of course, warm socks.

As a winter sports enthusiast, I own plenty of wool socks of differing thicknesses. The problem is, when I slip my wool-covered feet into my Sidi Dominators, my feet feel restricted and confined by the lack of flexibility of most wool socks. This, coupled with the cold weather, numbs rather than warms my little piggies.

Enter Smart Wool Womens PhD Cycling Light Mini socks. These socks breathe, flex, and feel like cotton. They lack the mild abrasiveness of most wool socks. They kept my feet warm through biting forty-degree weather and twenty-mile-an-hour winds. I wore them biking on my home turf, Denver’s Front Range, and even took them on vacation to two of mountain biking Meccas, Moab and nearby Fruita, where they performed beautifully.

One caveat: I wore these socks trail running and because trail runners are bigger than regular sneakers, the socks had room to bunch up. Wear them for cycling or everyday use, but break out thicker socks for hiking or trail running.

Smart Wool: one less excuse to not ride.

Holiday Gift Ideas: What to get that Mountain Bike Lover or What to Ask for Yourself

December 3, 2008 by  
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Love it or hate it the holiday’s are here. The hardest part of all, I think is choosing the right gift. If your like me. you hate giving gift cards and gifts no one will really use. Well I’m here to help you with gift ideas for the mountain biker in your life; or if you are a mountain biker here are some things you might want to drop some hints about.

The Small Stuff: Make them a Kit

pedros levers 300x300 Holiday Gift Ideas: What to get that Mountain Bike Lover or What to Ask for YourselfPedro’s Tire Levers
Ok these aren’t a one gift item, but trust me, these tire levers will change the frequent tire changers life! In my shop time I changed A LOT of tires and the thin but extra-wide design made even the tubeless tires on Bontrager rims easy. A good idea with this is to combine it with a bunch of other smaller items to make a kit. So keep reading for more ideas.

Finish Line Citrus Degreaser (Spray)
Another piece of the kit. This is an amazing degreaser and it smells like oranges. This is a gift for the bike freak who is constantly doing overhauls and degreasing and regreasing everything. Pedro’s is pretty good too. Enough said.

park tools cyclone chain scrubber 150x150 Holiday Gift Ideas: What to get that Mountain Bike Lover or What to Ask for YourselfChain Cleaner and Degreaser
If they don’t have a chain cleaner yet they need one. A clean chain means a happy chain, and less drive train wear, longer chain life, less resistance, and quieter operation. They are very easy to use and you don’t have to take the chain off of the bike to clean it! Don’t forget to buy the liquid degreaser with it.

A GOOD Multi Tool
There is a big difference between a multi tool and a good multi tool. I prefer Crank Brothers or Topeak. They both have a few different models based on how many tools the rider wants. If they are very weight conscious or don’t ride extremely often go for the simpler models, but for the extreme riders the more expensive versions will have a lot of great extra tools to help with trail fixes.

Cleaning Brush Kit
It doesn’t matter much who makes it (Park, Spin Doctor, Pedro’s and Other do) but a cleaning brush kit makes cleaning the drive train MUCH easier. A great addition to a cleaning kit with orange degreaser and a chain cleaner with degreaser.

Floor Pump, Mini Pump or CO2
Everyone likes a good air pump. A good mini pump is a must for any mountain biker; CO2 pumps makes inflation a snap for the rider who craves simplicity; and having a dependable floor pump is always a good thing.

Nutrition Sampler
One cool gift is a nutrition sampler. Find a good bike shop or nutrition store and buy a variety of bars and gels to try. Put them in a basket or something and it is a great way for a mountain biker to figure out what they like and don’t like.

One Item Gifts

If they have one they probably won’t mind having another one. I have four and I still want a couple more. Camelbak’s are one of the coolest ways to stay hydrated and carry all of your stuff. Stick to the Camelbak brand hydration packs. The knock offs always lack some quality and cannot even begin to compare in comfort or features.

nokon cable housing 300x225 Holiday Gift Ideas: What to get that Mountain Bike Lover or What to Ask for YourselfNokon Cable Housing
This is the perfect gift for the rider that spends as much time buying stuff for their bike as they do riding it. Nokon housing has a very cool bling factor, not to mention it shaves weight and reduces cable friction. It is made of a bunch of small anodized aluminum segments. There are a variety of color options out there so do some background prodding first.

Fox Shorts or Jerseys
A nice jersey or a pair of great shorts always makes a great gift. For mountain bikers Fox is one of the best manufacturers out there. Search for the articles about them on MTO Bikes to get the details.

Dieting and Biking

November 27, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

thanksgiving turkey 300x236 Dieting and BikingIts Thanksgiving time and there will be lots of great food on the table. My wife is a fantastic cook and I know I can gain two pounds just breathing in the fresh aroma’s. This post is about losing weight and using your mountain bike to get to your goal weight.

Dieting is not easy. I don’t care who you take to or which Guru you listen to. I have a rather logical and scientific mind. Lets first look at the basics that will frame our understanding of how to lose weight. Just so you know, you MUST combine diet and exercise (bike riding) to lose weight effectively and keep it off. New habits must be formed.

Lets look at the math first. One pound of Fat on your body is equal to roughly 3500 calories. So, if you are going to lose just one pound, you have to go below 3,500 calories in the course of a week, 7 days; about 500 calories day. How many calories do I use a day just doing nothing? Assume you are sick in bed watching Oprah all day. There is a website that will calculate you daily calorie burn doing nothing all day. This daily calories burned calculator provides a simple estimate of your basal metabolic rate (BMR)

It turns out that my basic rate is about 1,800 calories per day; give or take a few. If I want to lose one pound a week, I must not exceed 1,300 calories per day. Now let me caution you that if you go below 1,000 calories a day, your body goes into “starvation mode” and secretes nasty metabolism slow-down hormones and really inhibits your long term weight lose trend. The long and short of it is that losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint.

mountain bike training 288x300 Dieting and BikingSo where does the mountain biking part come in? Well it turns out that Mountain biking, can burn a lot of calories; and since my Warhorse is 35 pounds I get to burn a lot of calories on the bike. The estimate vary depending on how vigorous your riding style is, but generally speaking, here are some sample estimates for an hour of continuous riding:

Cycling 5-6.5 mph 288

Cycling 6.5-8 mph 324

Cycling 8-8.5 mph 374

Cycling 10 mph 540

Cycling 12 mph 639

Cycling 13 mph 702

Cycling 14 mph 806

Cycling 15 mph 873

I am on my bike for 45mins to 1:15hour 6 days a week, so I know I can add up to 500 calories to my 1,300 that I am allowed and still lose weight.

I know some of the community may say, where is the proof. Well, in my case, I started this diet on September 1st of this year and now its November 19th. I have lost 15 pounds in these 6.5 weeks; that’s about 2 pounds per week and my calorie intake has ranged from 1500 to 2500 per day; less of the later and more of the former.

Jeff, my Winter Park Mountain bike racing buddy, and I discussed dieting this week. He remarked on how funny it was that some weekend bikers obsess over 100 grams of weight in a new shifter or a seat post. He told me that the best way for me to get a lighter bike is to lose ten pounds. You will be surprised how fast you can go up a hill. There is nothing like passing on Hills!!

Mike, my old college roommate, used to tell me that you can’t diet without exercise…I disagree, mountain biking isn’t exercise, its my passion! See you on the trails!

Interview with Bicycle Frame Builder Ted Wojcik

November 18, 2008 by  
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ted wojcik custom mountain bike frame builder logo Interview with Bicycle Frame Builder Ted WojcikTed Wojcik has been designing and building custom bicycle frames for the past 28 years. As he informed me of this he said, “how time flies when having fun”…it was 100% genuine. Hearing that was one of the highlights of the phone call…it didn’t sound cliché.

A true American hero, not just for the frames he builds, but serving in our armed forces during the Vietnam War. Ted gained extensive engineering and mechanical experience during his years of service in which he worked on gas turbine engines and helicopter transmission systems.

ted wojcik the solution mountain bike and ted 300x224 Interview with Bicycle Frame Builder Ted WojcikTed Wojcik Custom Bicycles got its start while Ted was working at a motorcycle repair shop when his now wife brought a moped in for repair. It was the beginning of a relationship as well as the foundation of which the business would evolve from. It was Ted’s wife who changed his focus from motorcycles to bicycles. His wife was, as he put it, “altitude challenged”, being that she is 5’2” and an avid cyclist having trouble trying to have a bike frame to fit her. Having already learned the art of motorcycle frame fabrication, Ted ordered tubing from a local bike shop to build what would become his first bicycle and a wonderful present for his beloved. Being an accomplished welder, Ted decided to try his hand at creating bicycle frames. Built in Ted’s cellar, the next frame was sold before it was completed. In 1986 Ted went full time into bicycle frame building and in 1990 he moved out of his cellar and into his shop where the business remains today. The current shop is about 1600 square feet and is well tooled with a number of dedicated machines. He has collected a large amount of jigs and fixtures over the years and uses them to insure accuracy and repeatability in his builds.

Business slowed after 9/11and a great opportunity awaiting, Ted worked for a little over 2 ½ years on a project with the perk of spending $7.5M of a companies money building training aids for automotive vocational schools for the Venezuelan government. In 2004 when Ted returned to his business he noticed that it had moved backwards considerably. He has spent the past few years rebuilding his brand, awareness, and reputation which has enabled him to produce about 50-100 frames per year.

Ted is the lone employee and that doesn’t appear to change anytime in the near future. He is fussy about his work and there is a long learning period, he says that if he brought someone on they’d either end up hating him or they’d wreck stuff.

ted wojcik sof trac mountain bike name decal 225x300 Interview with Bicycle Frame Builder Ted WojcikUnfortunately Ted is unable to do much off-road mountain type riding due to nerve damage from diabetes in his feet. He didn’t say it, but I have a feeling there’s a bit of peace in knowing that his work provides others with a riding experience matched by none. Seeing the joy and excitement of others probably helps ease any frustration regarding his situation.

Ted’s logo is as unique and as interesting as his story. The font came from a Santa stand in Harvard Square in 1990, “it looked like it represented something happy, so we adopted it…mountain biking is suppose to be fun and happy.” The colors represent the colors of Poland; red, white and black. If you look closely at the logo you’ll notice the “T” and the “W” representing the initials of his name.

I spent a little less than an hour on the phone with Ted, but I could have spent hours; days listening to him. If there was a book about him I’d read it. He is very engaging. I can’t count the number of times that I have visited his website, read the same text, or looked at the same pictures over and over. Take a look yourself, I’m pretty confident his work and story will engage you too.

Below are some additional photos of his craftsmanship…look at those welds!

Learn more, watch the video of Ted below.

Darn Those Socks: Switching from Hanes to the Smartwool Ultra Light

November 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

smartwoold womens ultra light cycling sock 300x300 Darn Those Socks:  Switching from Hanes to the Smartwool Ultra LightA sock by any other name is well, still a sock.  Or so I thought, until I slipped my foot into the lightly cushioned sole of the Smartwool ultra light woman’s cycling sock. As I eased my battered foot into this sock I could see the aura of light haloing around my feet, clearly indicating that this was “the sock.”

Socks, to me, have always meant the Sam’s pack of Hanes. You loose them in the wash, they stretch out, get holey, and of course, for those of us mountain bikers…stained with mud. Finding a sock that doesn’t slip down into your riding shoe while climbing is usually a tough task, in addition to finding a riding sock that is warm, yet not too thick.  Hence the staple pack of Hanes from Sam’s club.

The Smartwool ultra light riding sock fit all my needs, from riding to yoga to weight lifting and running. Immediately after putting them on, my feet were engulfed in the sultry deliciousness of their feel. Snugly securing themselves around my foot, they harbored each toe with comfort and support. They showed off my ankles and bulging calf muscles, while at the same time never slipping below the shoe line.

I still have my first pair of Smartwools that I bought 10 years ago in Steamboat, Colorado. They have since manufactured themselves a hole from years of wear, but yet remain a staple of my winter wardrobe. Usually I dedicate my biking apparel budget to high quality chamois and shoes, but the Smartwool ultra light has proved itself to be more than just a sock and is worth buying multiple pairs.

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