Sunday, April 26, 2009

travelin fast and dirty

So last weekend we were supposed to meet some Joy Z and Mary T at Crowder State Park in Western MO for some campin, but schedules and Cantatas conspired against this. And they could not make it. Well as the weekend approached it looked like rain in KS, so her Al-ness was like let take a road trip to MN and WI to see them instead. 20 minutes later we were in the car and on the road.

Found out B-nast likes the water (it has been really dry in the north since the snow melted, hence the low water levels)

Brutus got to meet Eli (lab) and Skyedog (westy)......but there were so many squirels for him to hate on (hence his anti-social behavior).

Brutus and Eli wallering in the muddy water

After I did some gravel road cruising on the bike Mary T and I spent an afternoon splitting wood, a favorite pasttime in WI

Al , Joy and the dingos went for a trot

I went for a trail run, and then proceeded to walk around for the rest of the day in stinky technical wear and shorts that were questionably short for Lutheran tastes.

Joy and Al basking in the sunlight by the St. Crouix River

Later we retired to the veranda for thoughtful conversation.

Then we headed to The Top Spot for some tavern olympics and fried Cheese Curds. Joy won the Pool tournament, but no one else could match my prowless at Cricket (darts)

We finally had to go home and we were pretty wore out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


About 4 years ago I rode a steel bike for the first time, and I really have never looked back. It really is amazing how "buttery" a steel frame rides compared to Aluminum. I do not think that it has a longer life span than other metals because there are so many variables with fabrication and butted tubing.
I have also had the opportunity to ride some different bikes and learn what I like.
My first real bike was a 01 Gary Fisher Supercaliber sized 19. Stupid light and stupid fast. This was probably not the best first bike since it has some pretty twitchy and really stretched me out. I was never comfortable in technical sections. The fork (skareb) was also extremely noodley, and tended to wash and wander in corners. Boo! That lasted about a year.
Then in early 07 I purchased the MC Flight 29. Whoa. All of the sudden I had this bike that felt stable and comfortable, and really fit the riding in NW NC. There was crisp and precise cornering. the ability to roll through stuff comfortably. I think that Flight 29's are a great first bike, and gives you an appreciation for picking a good line and being balanced on the bike. I found that when I started riding on a bike with a suspension fork, I kept my weight too far forward.....well because I could. A rigid bike forces you to relearn your positioning, and the SS reinforces a attack and recovery type of riding.
In late 2007 I purchased a Gary Fisher Rig for the KSU Collegiate MTB season, and then turned it over to Al. The Rig is a bike you can just get on and ride. To be terribly honest there was nothing about the Rig that really stood out in my mind. It was not slow, it was not fast, but it did have a very creaky EBB (which took me a long time to master greasing the crap out of). Al wanted a smaller frame, so I sold the frame and Cranks to Paddy up in Alberta. Al got a new Green MC Flight 29 frame in green, it was cute, we had matching bikes.

Anyhow, after riding Rich's Ferrous at Ouachita I have decided that its time to move on past the MC. So this past week I started scanning the marketplace, and decided what I wanted and what I was willing to pay. So last night I did some bid sniping with less than a minute to go on a new Gary Fisher Ferrous frame.
There are a glut of 29er SS frames on the market and they are all nice, but I am not interested in purchasing a model that I have not been able to test ride. I have a big problem with the lack of demos from manufacturers. So i went with the Ferrous.
I was actually kind of suprised when I started looking at the Geometry of the old (07-08) ferrous frames compared to the new 09 frames....the numbers are the same. They just changed the offset of the fork. The 07-08's were spec'ed with a 38 mm offset Reba, and the 09's come with a 46mm offset F29 Fox. The intrawebs are awash with conspiracy theories about, offset, trail and this G2 foolishness. Its enough to make your head hurt.

But, the important thing is that I got a new frame. Hooray new bikes!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ouachita Challenge

We had a great time and I want to first off say thanks to all the great volunteers, promoters, and folks that make this happen.
If there was one photo that summed the emotions of this soiree it would be this one

Photo Cred Josh Patterson
There is Surprise, bewilderment, disgust and great pleasure all coming together in a kodak moment.

Waller graciously let us commandeer his car and we split up the driving. Waller made a point to sample the local delicacies of gas station table fare.

Photo Cred John Waller
The caramel corn cob and a substance dubiously refereed to as "Party Olives".
We stayed a the Mena Mtn top cabins and were joined by Joe Bob, Hershey, Jeremy, Kelsey, Adam, Patterson and his lovely lady Jaime.

The first morning we tooled around and got to go preride some of the course. Since the Tour was going on we stuck to the 80 mile course just past the first aid station. This is a great section to just absolutely tear it up. Fast flowing trails. Much fun!
I spent the afternoon resting and taking it easy after a gut busting session at the Chinese food buffet. Then I retired back to the cabin to be regaled with stories from Joe Bob, Hershey and Jeremy.

Waller, Slater, Kelsey and Adam went bouldering and exploring around Mena.

Photo Cred John Waller
They came up with some pretty interesting stuff.

Photo Cred John Waller
It reads "a brother might not be a homie, but a homie will always be a brother" Welcome to Arkansas.
Sunday Morning met us with the threats of showers, but we got to Oden and were ready to roll with the pack. It was pretty obvious that this was gonna be a tough race as I was able to watch all the real players pull away on the first 5 miles of road, leaving me in the midst of old guys (no offense old guys) and other underachieving singlespeeders (aren't we all?).
I started moving forward at a pretty good clip as the incline turned up, and was able to start passing folks on the fire road climbs. once we topped out on that first climb the trail was littered with people going down with flats. I just slicked my eyebrows back and let it roll on the descent and hoped that nothing really bad happened.

The first 20 miles was a mix of riding slowly while people navigated the creek crossings, and being spun out on the fire roads. After making it to the first checkpoint I started the vicious cycle of ingesting PB&J sandwiches and chugging cytomax. Joe Bob and I teamed up for the next section of singletrack and took turns pulling. One of my favorite sections of this race was descending the knife edge ridge of Reed mtn. as you descent towards the lake.

Photo Cred Josh Patterson
Then we pulled into aid station 2 and were subjected to all sorts of banana hammock weirdness.

Photo Cred Josh Patterson
We were really lucky to have Slater there to make sure things went smoothly. As I rolled into the check point I saw Patterson leaving to start the ascent to chalybeate Mtn. Chalybeate was indicative of what was to come. Super steep hike a bike stuff. This section really took a lot of time and i walked most of it, since trying to grunt your way up steep climbs on a SS is a losing proposition.
I caught up with John from North KC and we pushed our bikes together for a while. Really a phenomenal guy, he built his own kayak then mounted his bike and a trailer onto the deck of the kayak, and paddled this down the MO River from one side of the state to the other. Then he hooked his trailer to his bike, loaded the kayak onto the trailer and rode back across the state. Once we made it up Chalybeate we rode the ridges for about 8 miles. Then you descended this screaming downhill with waterbar launch pads every 100 yards. Sorta like What Greenslick used to be like outside of Asheville. It was sweet.

Then you joined back up with the 60 mile route and joined the climb and descent into Station 3.
Up until this point I had not really paid any attention to cutoff times or the like. Cutoff times have never affected me. Well I passed a SSer with about 2 miles to go till checkpoint three and he was looking at his monstrous GPS and surmised that we had about 10 minutes to go 2 miles. 10 minutes till what, I asked? Till the cutoff time! That got my attention and I commenced to start laying it down. I was really amazed how good I felt trying to lay down a lot of power late in the race, and despite my screaming speed coming down the mountain into rock row I missed the cutoff by a couple of minutes.
WOW, that was a wake up call. Its never fun being told, "you are not going fast enough". Well then I had to start the dejected 10 mile ride back to the finish line via fire roads and Tarmac.
The temperature was dropping and the wind had picked up, so it was looking to be a pretty miserable ride back. I did manage to catch a ride with Dave Fox who served as the course marshal on blowout mountain. We ended up picking up the rest of the Cycle City crew along the way as they got pulled a little earlier than I did.
We got back to the school and saw Waller who finished 65th in the 60 mile races despite running a fever and being sick. After a hot shower and some food and drink Waller and I set out to find out what had happened to Patterson. He was one of the last riders to make it through checkpoint 3,

Photo Cred John Waller
so we headed in the direction of check point 4 via the twisty gravel roads in rally car fashion, blazing through creek crossings and just having a blast.
That is until Waller attempted to cross one of the creek crossings in reverse

Photo Cred John Waller
Apparently the plastic of a Honda is not meant to withstand the opposing force of hitting water at 30 mph in reverse. I have never laughed so hard in my life. We ziptied the bumper back on and went to meet Patterson and Slater back in Oden. We then packed it in and started the long drive back to KS.

What really worked well for me
  • Wheels. I did this race on a brand new set of wheels freshly laced by a custom wheel builder. Hope ProII laced to Stans ZTR Arch Rims with SuperComp spokes good stuff!
  • Suspension I saw a lot of guys do this race on rigid bikes, and I was glad I had some squish. The descents were as demanding as the ascents.
  • Taking the time to have some fun and talk to people along the way.
What I did not like:
  • Getting pulled 20 miles from the finish when I still had 4 hours of daylight left. They were really serious that if your were not an elite racer with the capacity to average 10 mph throughout the race, you probably would not finish it. I am interested to see how many if any SS actually finished the 80 mile event.
I do not think I will do the 80 mile event again. I really enjoyed the Womble section of the 80 mile route but other than that there really was nothing spectacular about that route unless you really are into pushing you bike on really rocky trails. Plus I do not think that I could go fast enough to finish it unless I had some gearing.
Good times all around though!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


This was too much via photoshop and the boys at Hawley. The soft underbelly of the wholesale bike world.
I will regale you with tales of mediocrity and much humor in Arkansas as soon as that worthless John Waller sends me those pictures!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ouachita Challenge

Like some many other things gone awry in life, my warranty replacement has not arrived, so it was time to call up my roadie friends and bum a bike for the weekend.......or longer. Its road season and rich never rides it anyway.
I really like the fisher geometry, its is a fine line between feeling more racy than the Flight, but not being twitchy.

I think the Squish will help ease the pain

But the 34 tooth Tomi Ring will only worsen the pain.
Let you know how thing go on Monday.
Perhaps you should investigate our newest sponsor, as we will arrive in the Dirty South bearing gifts from the big red barn.