Friday, October 30, 2009

Last minute dinner parties

Lots of last minute conniving to bust out some quick dinner, paused, surveyed the kitchen and decided it was time to call in some troops to lay waste to some butternut Squash soup with Ravioli. Two phone calls later there is a dinner party happening. I have a tendency to let things get out of control

On the other side of the food front........
The Review of 4 Olives
I generally keep my mouth shut when something sucks, I have worked in the fine dining industry and I understand that things happen. Plates get dropped, orders do not get fired, things happen. But, when the service staff is apathetic I will never return there. Waiting 10 minutes between courses of dinner is acceptable in my mind, however having to wait 50 minutes between courses is not acceptable.
I will make no qualms about the food. The duck was very good, and Ali liked her salmon. However, we were most of the way through our entree before our wine ever came out.
The wine list is extensive, overpriced, and the house reccomendations are marginal. Meh.
I am a service oriented person and have very high expectations. I could have built a set of new cross wheels with what that meal cost me. Restaurateurs need to recognize that people come to a fine dining establishment with certain expectations, and if those expectations are not met, then no matter how good the food and wine is it will not get the bitter taste out of a customers mouth.
I should have saved myself the grief and gone where I knew the service would be exceptional, the wine list just as expansive, and the food is exceptional.
I have never been disappointed by a Noah Reagan experience.

On the low brow front, I can't really come up with much positive to say about Buffalo Wild Wings in Manhattan. Ordered the lunch special, and still had to wait 45 minutes to get it and they were not even slammed! Seriously, its chicken wings and French Fries........throw them in the fryer. maybe 5 minutes. Its not exactly haute cuisine.

I am flying into Pittsburgh, PA later this weekend for the annual tri-societies meeting. Lots of geeking out to the tune of soil carbon, soil hydrology, and Nitrogen Use Efficiency
I also have to try to retain my title as the fastest agronomist at the 5-k running race. Might have to hamstring those skinny little geologists before the race.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Photo Cred for this portrait of pain goes to the venerable Roger of Lantern Rouge infamy

Shad S was killing it in the Cat 123. Great Job!

What am I doing in the drops? I never ride in the drops

The monster

Trying to scrape that wheel sucking ner' do well off my tail

Fjorm....take that dicky

Paul rode with us and got his first taste of the difference between a 4's and 3/4's race. Coincidentally he also learned what "sandbagging" means

The worst sand section I have ever encountered.
I managed to drop my chain with 2 to go, and had to spend a lot of time chasing Waller back down.

Tall Paul leaning into the corners

Getting Pwned in a sprint to the finish.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How Fortuitous.......

That I should drop a headset full of bearings and I was able to recover all of them.....its almost like a proverb.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The cost of hard living

You can see it in the faded paint, nicks, scalloped chainrings, mavic wheels that no longer have a machined braking surface, .......I can flatout make a bike old quickly.
A life of riding gravel road will age you really quickly especially given the weather that we see out here.
I found this picture from when I first got my new frame

and I have to admit that the IRO Rob Roy has not had a easy life. But, man!, I looked at the old girl this evening and the paint is looking pretty haggard (kinda like the waitresses at Denny's). I am waiting for some new(ish) wheels to bring some spring back to her step, and am entertaining the idea of having the frame stripped and powdercoated since I have another cross bike to ride over the winter. Know any body in eastern KS that does a good powder coat? lemme know
In case you were wondering I am switching to Stans ZTR 355 rims for my cross bikes. I really like the utility of stans rims and the ability to reliably run tubeless. The SS will get American Classic hubs laced to 355s, and the Redline will see my Kings relaced to 355's in the spring.
Why the wait?
My man in Damascus tells me that Stans is gonna bust out 29 inch ZTR 355's with a machined braking surface in the next few months. Word!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Ride 2 Paradise

Holy nuts! we left for the hill country of north central KS on Saturday after getting a text from Waller that went like this:
JW: hey you guys left yet?
Me: You blickety-blank, no account, so and so..........
JW: I will take that as a no, go sit on your thumb, I will grace you with my presence in an hour.

What I did not tell Waller was that 3 people and one dog were gonna drive 3 hours in the cab of my truck, which seats 2 uncomfortably.

He was not amused.

We met Tanner and Mina in Hays and went out for dinner at The Liquid Bread Company in Hays, America. The vittles were spectacular!

The next morning we went out loaded for bear, as the temps were not forecast to get out of the mid 30's all day.

After Tanner knocked off a liquor store he finally showed up.

He was rocking the pimpest shoe covers I have ever laid eyes on

Big Al was all smiles as we caffeinated prior to rolling out, Tanners outlook was not so positive.

He warmed up quickly once he was astride The (pseudo)recumbent gravel road machine from RANS (note that wheelsucking ner' do well loafing in the side mirror)

Never Doubt the gnar hucking potential of a pseudo-recumbent (especially when it has Juicy Carbon disc brakes and comes with a Sid fork)

Taking a break at a sag stop

Someone pointed out that it could effect my ability to operate a car or machinery......pppssshhhh. Al was like, "shut up and get on the bike!"

Al finally cracks the whip and we finally get the freight train of pain underway. High temp for the day was sweltering 36 degrees. It was a brutal ride with lots of climbs, that eventually saw us resorting to the granny gear on the tandem.

Making love to the camera with seductive looks during my Velonews interview at the lunch stop regarding our current domination of the "midwest endurance gravel road tandem racing scene". Mina quietly gagged behind the lens.

Things quickly turned ugly when someone pointed out there was no such "scene".

This is a common look I get from J. Dub regarding how I deal with fame. Disbelief, contempt, pity......whatever..... jealousy it a bitter pill.

Once again We have gotten caught "ridin dirty" at another great grass roots event in north-central KS. Many thanks to The Renard family, the gracious volunteers, and all the other folks that braved the weather to make this a great event and helped raise money for the NKDSVS
Also many thanks to Mina for taking picture, being the Hostess with the Mostess, and for keeping Tanner from dragging his knuckles.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Western NC

Ok I am writing this forDG, the intrepid Iowegian, who is spending a week in Western NC, but primarily in the NW high country. I intend to list the must ride trails in that area and in the "Asheville Trifecta". If the readers have any suggestions or tidbits of info please post them in the comments section.
  • Kerr Scott lake: Home of the Overmountain Victory trail, Warriors creek trail, and Dark Mountain. I think this is the must ride trail system that is not in the backcountry of NW NC. BMCC has all the trail maps and info. If you want a really good day (35-40 miles) I would recommend 2 laps at WC, and then an out and back on the OVT. Dark Mountain is a great trails system, but I prefer the flow of the the other 2 more.
  • Jefferson National Forest and the grayson high lands: There are not a lot of true mtb trails in this area, but it is unmatched in remote rugged backcountry and challenges (Its like Pisgah, but less refined) The same group that does the shenadoah 100 did a 100k race there earlier this year. Map is here.
  • In the same area is also hundreds of miles of forest service road and rural gravel. Here is a route I have ridden most of before. 40 miles does not sound like a long ride, but up there its some soul crushing climbs and lots of winding roads. Its in a figure 8 so you can stop at the subaru to re-supply since there are not alot (any) stores out there.
  • Pisgah : you can find all you ever wanted to know about riding in the mountain valleys here. You could spend weeks riding everything down there. I would devote at least 2 days to pisgah proper. If you really hate yourself (and I know you do!) you can follow the trail of the race formerly known as The Most Horrible Thing Ever
If there is anything I forgot or you want the 411 on just let me know. I expect the East TN crowd to chime too.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Frisco CX 2009

I had a great time, and they have some really great cyclocross races out there in CO. I rolled up planning to race the Cat 4's (call me what you will). ACA sanctioned CX races are all 45 minutes whether you are racing open/elite or cat 4.
They race one Category at a time, so races start at 9 am and go on until 5 pm. ACA takes a very loose interpretation of barriers, and they used logs that were bunny hopped almost exclusively in the mens open class. The course had 1 long open climb, and a couple short tech sections that were uphill. Probably the collest part of the course was the downhill "slash pile" descents. You would come screaming through a section with a well defined swoopy line, but if you got off the line you were in trouble. Several parts of the course were very rocky and rooty. There was a super steep gnarly run up through this really powdery dirt. I would say that about 50% of the course would be classified more as singletrack than CX course, but you play with what you have got and the promoter did a great job(It would make a great mtb short track course) .
There was a bunch of cat 4's lined up, and they proceeded to call up about 20. Being a new face I did not elbow my way to the front after the call up (but i should have). I started on the back row. I quickly realized that this was gonna suck. A lot.

The course was very dry, dusty and the wind was whipping at about 15-20 mph with temps in the mid 40's. being towards the back in a mass (cat 4) start really made for a interesting first lap and a half. You could see that there were obviously some riders in the field with some huge motors, but were operating without technical skills.
The front of the field was quicly out of site as I negotiated traffic and got into the open after a lap. The second lap was chasing down few folks while trying no to die.
Racing CX at 9000 feet brought a new level of pain and asphyxiation to my world.

In the above two sequences you can see that I was able to move through the pack quickly when we were off the bike, but I would suffer mightily.
Sometimes after a run up or barriers I would just keep running to make sure I did not get bumped, bobble or wreck in the sketch that is remounts in a Cat 4 CX race.

I found myself chasing the same few folks after about 4 laps, occasionally I would surge, but I just did not have the gas or the legs to keep anything going. The last 2 laps were spent trying to hang on. It was a very humbling way to start my CX season

Front Range Foray (in two parts)

So we made our trip to FC this weekend to see whats afoot. We were able to sit down with Mike Weber with Northern Colorado Realty and talk about what the housing outlook is for that part of the world. Mike also spent at least an hour talking mtb and local riding info with us. He was a great resource and the person to talk to if you are thinking about buying a home in the FC-Loveland area. I actually found Mike by searching MTBR.......who says its completely worthless?

A touching moment

Some sweet veiws after crossing Pennock Pass on road 44H then proceeded to descend all the way down to Poudre Canyon

Thats a new one for me

Still climbing up to Pennock

We camped in Poudre (pronouced pooh-der) Canyon and went into FC on Saturday night to eat some dinner and look about old town. We ate at the Rustic Oven and I must say it was a spectacular culinary affair. We really did not spend very much time in FC, I was more interested in what was around it. Some Observations:
  • The "Boulder affect" is present especially in the recreational areas near town. lots of regulations (no swimming, no camping, no dogs off leash, no fun....etc)
  • Lots of sign ordinances (signs can only be like 10 feet off the ground, neutral colors, etc) which is great unless you are trying to find the dark.
  • Its a college town. It reminded me of Lawrence, but more pedestrian friendly. Old Town was pretty cool.
  • I have never seen so many bike lanes that are respected by drivers.
  • We really did not stop to see the usual tourist sites (New Belgium.......I hate Fat Tire...come to think of it I do not like any of their beverages)
  • The locals in Masonville (ie the old crusty tatooed biker/trash crowd) were the most friendly people we encountered on the whole trip. They were just really friendly people, and Brutus made a lot of friends when we stopped for lunch at a biker bar/grill (it was more of a bar than a grill).
Then we headed to Frisco......

Friday, October 2, 2009

Screw it, we are going to fort Collins

We are going to Fort Collins for the weekend. Made decision last night over dinner. Am trying to line up a couch to surf. If you know someone give me a shout. 336-469-1526
I have got some good gravel lined up for Saturday, and then the Frisco CX race on sunday. then drive home early Monday.
leaving in T-minus 15 minutes. Stories will ensue.
By the way there is a job in FC just so you know, I have some justification for this foolishness.