Joe Grant is an endurance runner and ultra-marathoner whose transition to endurance bike racing has been nothing short of incredible. Having never entered a mountain bike race before, he jumped into the Colorado Trail Race in 2015 with just two weeks of bike training and finished the 560-mile unsupported ride from Durango to Denver in five days, seven hours and 31 minutes. That’s about 110 miles per day through some of Colorado’s roughest mountain terrain on a fully rigid bike. This spring he upped the ante by competing in the Arizona Trail Race, a 750-mile unsupported ride across Arizona from the Mexico border to Utah–with a mandatory 24-mile portage through the Grand Canyon. Pushing himself to the limit, and with little sleep, he finished in second place at seven days, 12 hours and and 12 minutes.
“Joe is a super tough dude, and he’s not afraid to push it to the max whether it’s running or climbing or riding,” says Chad Melis, marketing director for Oskar Blues Brewery and its bike brand, REEB Cycles, which are Joe’s bike sponsors. “We couldn’t ask for a better ambassador.”
Joe’s Colorado Trail Race bike is special. It’s a REEB “Sam’s Pants” equipped with SON dynamo lights for night riding, a Whiskey carbon fork, Stan’s No Tubes, and a Gates Carbon Drive system mated to a Rohloff hub for low maintenance. The belt drive and Rohloff are a secret weapon that allow Joe to rest and eat when off the bike, instead of having to clean, lubricate and maintain a chain and derailleur. Joe is still riding on the same belt that he bashed through the Colorado and Arizona trail races.
Want to be like Joe? Fat chance. But you can enter to win a bike like Joe’s. On August 28, REEB Cycles and Oskar Blues Brewery will host the Gold Rush Bike Rally, a mountain gravel grinder in the hills outside of Boulder. The race has two options: a 35-miler with 5,000 feet of climbing, or a 50-miler with 7,000 feet of vertical. The courses start in the historic town of Gold Hill and include sections of the famous Switzerland Trail with a finishing descent into Boulder, where cold beer awaits. Oskar Blues and REEB will give away a trip for two to Boulder, lodging, beer and a Sam’s Pants. Enter here: goldrushbikerally.com
photo: Eddie Clark
When Carlos Vulgamott won the singlespeed division of the 2015 Breck Epic stage race, he not only did it on a Gates belt drive–he was also 100 percent plant powered. Carlos has been meat, egg and dairy-free for four years, and he credits his vegan diet with making him lighter and faster. His speed and endurance were on full display this summer at the Breck Epic, a monster race with six stages of between 30 and 50 miles, 40,000 feet of grueling climbs into the thin air of Colorado’s high alpine, and lots of fast and rocky descents. He first raced the Epic in 2013 and vowed to return and win it. “I was instantly enamored by this event and the international feel, plus I found joy in being around a group of individuals who are ambitious enough to take on a six day stage race of this magnitude.”
A member of Team Gates Carbon Drive, Carlos hoped to win in 2014 and took several stage victories, but he suffered two tire slashes that cost him major amounts of time. This year luck was on his side. He also made winning the Epic his top priority. “In 2015 I focused all my training and racing around the Epic and didn’t stray from that goal.” It all paid off on Stage 5 this year, when he turned a 40-second deficit after Stage 4 into a 12-minute-and-16-second lead. “Going into Stage Six I couldn’t have been more stoked. I was in the leader’s jersey and my wife and daughter were there to cheer me on for the win.” Overall, Carlos had three stage wins and finished on the podium all six days. Scroll down to read our Q&A with Carlos, who discusses singlespeeding, the advantages of racing on a belt, and giving up meat following a family cancer scare.
Belted Blog: When did you start racing bikes, and when did you take up singlespeeding?
Vegan Singlespeeder: I started out racing BMX as a kid and went for my first mountain bike ride in 1984 in my hometown of Buena Vista, Colorado. I didn’t actually begin racing bikes until 1997 when I finally started making enough money to buy a bike and pay for entry fees. I started racing singlespeed in 2003 when I decided to spice up my riding adventures.
Belted: What do you like about singlespeeding versus geared riding?
Vegan: Singlespeeding is a simplistic and primal experience for me. At this point I have been riding singlespeed mountain bikes for so many years I am actually slower on a geared bike because I find myself fussing around with the gears.
Belted: You’re known as the Vegan Singlespeeder. Why did you become a vegan and do you think it helps your racing?
Vegan: My wife, Erica, and I have been vegans for four years. We moved to a plant-based diet after she went through breast cancer. After all her treatments, the doctors had her on a list of medications, oral chemotherapy, anti-depressants, and more. At that point we decided to take control of our lives and get off of the prescriptions and begin a completely plant-based diet. Today my wife is cancer free. I have lost weight, I recover faster, and I just feel healthier overall.
Belted: You’ve been racing a titanium Spot Cream SS with Gates Carbon Drive for several seasons As a racer, what are your impressions of the Gates drive?
Vegan: When I first heard of the belt drive concept I was intrigued but also apprehensive. But after I started riding and racing the Gates Carbon Drive system I was blown away by the level of engagement. You can feel every ounce of energy you apply to the pedals go into your forward momentum, which is key for singlespeeding. I also like the “set it and forget it” aspect of the Gates drive. All you need to do is apply the proper belt tension, make sure it is aligned and then get on your bike and go. The low-maintenance aspect is key during stage racing because after a stage I can rest and recover rather than work on my bike. After every stage all I did was wash my bike and belt. It’s also incredibly strong and gave me the confidence to really hammer the climbs.
photo: Eddie Clark
What a nice guy! Did we mention that Carlos also won the 2014 Breck 100 and the 2014 Rocky Mountain Endurance Series overall in the singlespeed category? Carlos is now beginning the fall cyclocross season, racing on his Gates Carbon Drive equipped Sycip singlespeed CX bike. If you’re inspired by his story and want more information on veganism, his bike and racing results, check Carlos’s Vegan Singlespeeder Twitter feed, and watch the video interview by Spot Brand where he shows off his 21-pound Cream SS.
In the garden
photo credits: Tim Lucking
Meet the 2015 Team Gates Carbon Drive in its natural habitat–the trails and foothills of Denver. Colorado is one of the best places in the world to ride, and the Gates team is once again ripping up the Rocky Mountain singletrack. Mitch Westall, Jesse Swift, Carlos Vulgamott, Derek Strong, Tim Lucking and Ryan McFarling are riding belt drive Spot Brand Honey Badger and Cream frames, equipped with TRP’s new Slate T4 brakes. Other sponsors include Lazer (helmets and glasses), Crank Brothers (pedals) and Primal (team kits).
The team will compete in the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series, the Winter Park Series and races throughout Colorado virtually every weekend all summer. The goal is to win races–and also show how tough the Gates Carbon Drive belts are. The squad had 35 podium finishes last year. Swift won the SS class at the Dakota Five-O. Vulgamott (aka the Vegan Singlespeeder) will race his third straight Breck Epic this season, shooting for a podium finish again. Vulgamott won the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series overall SS last year. Westall won the Winter Park Series overall SS, and McFarling and Strong won the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde duo. Get updates, race results and info on the team Facebook page, and on Twitter @teamcarbondrive.
Carlos “the Vegan Singlespeeder” Vulgamott
Tim Lucking, looking belt drive tough!
Zoltán Bakó is one hard Hungarian. This summer the fixie fanatic and founder of Fixed X Hungary will do two rides worthy of the record books: a time trial across Hungary, attempting to beat his old record; and an Ironman triathlon that will require him to run 21 km, swim 1.9 km and cycle 90 km. This would be tough on a geared bike. On a one-speed fixie? Insane. But like we said, Zoltán is a hard dude. “I’m an amateur athlete but this year I am training with a professional coach who is helping me get fit for the Ironman. My schedule is quite hard: six days of training per week. All bike sessions are on my belted fixie.”
Last year, Zoltán rode 443 km (275 miles) for 22 hours and 37 minutes on his fixed gear bike to set a new Guinness record across Hungary. This year he wants to beat that record, and he has set a tentative date of late June or early July for the ride. A month-and-a-half later on August 22 he will compete in the Ironman 70.3 Budapest. His bike was created by his company, BBS Cycle, a belt drive specialist. Zoltán enjoys the Gates belt drive (“szíj hajtás” in Hungarian) due to its light weight and low maintenance.
60-tooth front sprocket, 21-tooth rear with a 108-tooth belt
Follow Zoltán at www.facebook.com/fixedxhungary and on his website www.fixedxhungary.hu
Residents of Hungary who would like to learn more about Gates Carbon Drive can contact our official Hungarian distributor, Massive Bikes.
Gates Corporation and Schindelhauer Bikes have partnered to launch the world’s first belt-drive fixed gear racing team, Schindelhauer-Gates. The seven-person team will race in the international Red Hook Criterium series, Germany’s Rad Race events and select fixed gear races in Great Britain, Germany, the United States, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. On May 31, Schindelhauer-Gates won the team competition at the Fixed Gear World Championships in Berlin, where the male and female winners received custom-painted Schindelhauer frames with Gates Carbon Drive systems.
“The Schindelhauer-Gates team is an opportunity to showcase the high performance of our belt drives in an exciting, spectator-friendly sport with a growing global audience,” says Todd Sellden, director of Gates Carbon Drive Systems. “Schindelhauer was an early adopter of the Gates Carbon Drive system and we are proud to be an integral part of their brand and lifestyle.”
“Schindelhauer’s aesthetic and brand identity are deeply rooted in Berlin’s street scene, so it is natural for us to be part of this growing international fixed gear criterium culture,” says Jörg Schindelhauer, co-founder of Schindelhauer Bikes. “At the same time, Schindelhauer is attuned to the technologies that make bicycling simpler and more fun, which is why we use Gates Carbon Drive on all our bikes.”
The team consists of five men and two women from Germany and Switzerland: Mianzi Rei (pictured above and below), Martin Morgenstern, Claudia Weiss, Adrien Merkt, Dylan Longridge, Roland Trauzold and Yvan Morf. Rei is a well-known competitor in the fixie scene and the subject of the movie, “My Legs My Gears.”
Schindelhauer-Gates recently competed in its first race, at the Berliner Fahrradschau’s “Last Man Standing” and “Last Woman Standing” Rad Races. Rei finished second in the women’s competition, delivering the fastest lap, while Weiss finished seventh in the women’s race. Morf made it into the men’s finals and finished fourth, while Longridge finished seventh.
- Mianzi Rei, 34, Berlin
- Claudia Weiss, 34, Zurich
- Dylan Longridge, 25, Zurich
- Adrien Merkt, 21, Zurich
- Roland Trauzold, 33, Zurich
- Martin Morgenstern, 29, Hannover, Germany
- Yvan Morf, 20, Zurich
- Schindelhauer “Hektor” frameset
- AL6061-T6 triple butted aero tubing
- Horizontal dropouts with Crocodile belt-tensioning system
- Schindelhauer SBP belt port
- Integrated seat post clamp
- Straight carbon fork
- Gates Carbon Drive CDX belt and sprockets