Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Screw the whales......

....save race day registration (RDR).
The ability to register on race day is ultimately a service that promoters have provided since the crust of the earth cooled (thank you). For big races I will acknowledge the need to have preregistration, but for local XC events?
Promoting a race is a big financial risk that is incurred on the part of the promoter, and the promoter should have every right to hedge his or her self from this risk by paying out according to class size, combining classes, etc.
However, preregistration does not help manage your risk since 80% of your costs are fixed, and will be incurred whether or not people show up. It does help streamline the registration process and make things flow a little more smoothly on race day, but most promoters just give a discount to encourage preregistration/discourage race day registration.

I, for one, am not going to be able to go to AR this weekend due to work conflicts (and am out $65), and thought I might be able to squeeze in a XC race on saturday, but required preregistration means that if something else at work changes I am out of a entry fee.
The ability to register on race day offers flexibility.
I place a lot of value on flexibility. I have no problem paying a extra $5 for RDR for a XC race or even $10 for RDR at a endurance event.
By all means encourage folk to utilize preregistration, but don't limit your clientele by requiring it.
Thats all I got.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Syllamo's Revenge Entry Available

Syllamo's Revenge, this Saturday, Mountain View, AR.
Our planting schedule is all jacked up at work and I will have to plant corn all weekend, so this means I can't go to race in arkansas this weekend. I thought about quitting, but that might complicate my life adversely (ie: Big Al would stab me).
So I am putting my entry up for grabs.
This race filled up in less than 24 hours, and is one of the few truly single track endurance races. None of that "20 miles of fire road" crap.
50 miles. single track. gnar.
$65 will get the entry transferred into your name.
Let me know if you are interested, and I will put the ball in motion.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trans Iowa

I have never had a scorching desire to do this race, and this year is a perfect example of why.

Pic from S. Fuller's Flikr page
  • First, this is the worst time of the year to hold a gravel road race (and this only adds notoriety ). In the midwest, Precip is distributed in a bellshaped curve from Jan-Dec. April and May are going to have the heaviest amount of rain fall.
  • Couple this with the fact that most of the gravel roads in Iowa there are primarily pea gravel/course sand. If you want to have a all weather road you need a coarse aggregate to form the base.
  • I also have a bit of anxiety about failure. If I do not think I am capable of finishing something, I will not start. This was a rule that was beat into me growing up, and has given me a bit of a complex as an adult.
  • Could I do it (ride 320 miles)? Maybe, if the conditions were not total crap and the cards were falling in my direction. Would I develop a stomach ulcer in the months leading up to it? Probably.
  • I have tremendous amount of respect for the guys that go out there and throw down on iowa roads, but its just not my cup of tea.
  • Sounded like half the field was done by the first checkpoint.
Hoping that EB, Corey, Troy, and everybody else stays safe out there. I am looking forward to hearing tales of this glorious, albeit soggy, adventure!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Epic and some geometry thoughts/questions

The Epic
Really dug the 2010 Epic that Tyler let me ride on my 2nd lap at Bonebender, but it was really disconcerting on the first 2 miles because I would mistake the threshold "break through" of the Brain suspension for the rim making contact with roots and rocks (which give you a very sick feeling in your stomach early in a lap).
But once I got used to that it was all gravy.
Shifting was smooth and crisp. Tylers Epic is spec'ed with XT/X9 and I feel safe to say that it was under 25 lbs.
I will say that I was not as comfortable on the really technical sections as I was on my SS. Maybe its the steeper angles, higher BB, longer travel, etc. I just felt a bit of trepidation, right as I was getting to hit that little rocky off camber stairstep right by the lake (you know what I am talking about). I rolled through it on the SS with nary a thought and caution blowing in my wake.
I will say that it was the cats PJ's to be able to stay seated and roll through all the chatter that would of had me standing on the SS.
Overall I would give it very high ratings. I was really impressed with the new SID from Rockshox. I have always thought of SID's as a bit noodley, but if I had not seen the pictures I would have sworn it was a Reba. Both now have 32 mm stanchions.
Not as "harsh" as the Top Fuel, but a little heavier.
So I am constantly caught in that proverbial "no mans land" in frame sizing between a Medium and a Large.
I have rather long legs for someone of my stature, and can typically jump onto the bikes of people that are 2-3 inches taller than me and not have adjust the seatpost height (this also may have to do with the fact that I tend to "reach" with my feet in my pedal stroke). But, I am strung out like a Seattle hooker trying to cover the top tube on these bikes. Standover has never been a issue for me.
In cross bikes I tend to defer to larger frame sizes since running up a ton of seatpost leaves me all hunched over and the drops out of reach given my flexibility (or lack thereof), and I can compensate by using a shorter stem to even things out.
However, I am not sure that I will be comfortable doing this on a mountain bike. This is compounded by the way manufacturers size their frames. A largeTrek Top Fuel has a longer TT (625mm TT) than a Large Specialized Epic (615mm TT) , but the Trek comes in 5 frame sizes as opposed to the 4 frame sizes of the Epic.
Big P's has been doing a valiant job of trying to keep us Riding for the Brand. I have been told that I can have this bike now that its done making the rounds at shows.

But its a large and has a 641mm TT. That would have me using a very short stem.
Why not just order a Medium? Well expected delivery for any DSR's that are not already in country is going to be late summer.

So thoughts, concerns, insightful input? What should I do? Sooner or later I will run out of friends and acquaintances that will let me test ride their bikes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bonebender - The words

What a great time. Hats off to Chris Locke and all the Earth riders that put in all their time and effort into making this a great course and event. My apologies if I told you that the course was not going to be technical. The ERTA has really busted out some awesome new sections that I had not ridden before, so I was as surprised as anybody at the technicality of the race course.
So Saturday night I rolled into the OP, in south KC with Mexican food on my mind. Patterson and his lovely lady knew just what to do, as we laid waste to a La-Somethinginspanish restaurant. After getting swoll up on Carnitas we returned home for some bike fondling and sleep.
The next morning we all took off bright and early as I had to pickup CO2 and caffeinate before getting up to Smithville.
John "your best isn't good enough" Waller and I were tag teaming the 6 hour.
After all the perfunctory things Waller went off for the first lap so I did not get caught in traffic on the SS on the half mile of pavement following the Lemans start.

about 58 minutes later he rolled back in looking terribly proud of himself, handed off the CO2 and baton and sent me off with a pat on the bottom.
Here is where things got dicey.
About 2 miles in I got a bit to big for my britches and burped my front tire. STOP. hit it with a CO2. leap back on and chase the Rasmussen rider that got around me. Right before I hit the Shoreline trail (the one that left you swearing under your breath) I heard a POP, TWANG!
I immediately notice that my tire was rubbing, and start weighing my options. For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to tell John Harter to alert my teammates to this and interrupt his heckling session. I found that if I rode with my right buttcheek on the left side of my saddle the tire did not rub too bad. This foreshadowed what the next 8 miles would be like. I tried to stay real light and ride with lots of finesse, and finally finished the lap without lossing any places (~59 minutes).
Back at the Bad Goat corral we set about to finding a new rear wheel. Aaron Apel (of Big Poppi fame) had broken a half link on his 650b SS setup so he handed me off a 650b wheel. Then Tyler Whetsone rolled in stuffed a bratwurst in his jersey pocket (you think I am kidding?) swapped to his MTB fixxy (with no brakes) , and told me to take his new Epic for the next lap.

TWhet shouts, Bring me my fixie! Who am I to argue with a man like that?
So once waller rolled back in and we traded snide remarks I started wailing on the Epic. Tomoorow I will give a more thorough write up about that bike since I courting new bikes. Anyhow, I was digging the ability to dial in the pain setting on the gears. I did find myself in the midst of lapped traffic and so I did my best to encourage folks as they were riding but still try to get through in a timely manner.
(NOTE: always say thank you and acknowledge people when they give you room to pass even if you are @ 180bpm. gasping "thanks" goes a long way).
I did find the Brain a little disconcerting at first since the sensation of breaking through that suspension threshold feels a little like your tire pressure being low and your rim making contact with a root. Anyway, manage to catch Rico "the angry dutchman" Van Buskirk. I decided that it would be a great idea to serenade him with the "Rubber ducky" song (did I mention I am tone deaf?) Right as I reached the crescendo (I'm in love with you!) I realize that I am going to hit a tree. I tuck my head into my shoulder so it do not break my collar bone and let my helmet take the impact. In retrospect it appears that one should not use their noggin to break a fall, but whatever.
Crash, lights flash, legs cramp, Rico is yelling about how I am blocking the trail, collect myself and get back on. Finish lap (~59 minutes). Baton and CO2 exchange with Waller. I am gonna have to learn to focus more if I get FS bike.

While I was floundering about, Patterson, J. was getting serious bout some solo 6 hour SS action.

Rich Shurtz also made his MTB endurance racing debut. Not a bad showing for someone whose primary bike is TT rig.
Back at the Bad Goat corral things are staring to pickup. The grill is out, Saadia just finished her 3 hour race, and Brutus was growling at hippies. I decide to back the gearing off just a little for my last lap (34:19) even though I have the 650b on the rear.
Once Waller rolled back in around 3:00 we had one of those 15 second powwows:
JW: we put 10 minutes into 3rd place
Me: what are you trying to say?
JW: don't screw this up.
Me: watch out honky, you might end up with a 4th lap.

I had no intentions of inflicting a 7th lap on anyone so I cruised my last lap (~1:05) and I am pretty sure that my HR never got over 150. Got to talk to some of the Iowa guys from Rassmusens. They were not amused by the rocks. Goll darn glaciation.

Anyhow, Waller and I held on to 2nd place in the 6 hour duo category behind the blisteringly fast Chambers/Donn team.

Waller gives Harter the stink eye! Harter heckled us the whole race as we failed to provide our usual libations

Patterson finished 2nd in the 6 hour SS race and turned 6 laps! (but was dropping a deuce during the awards ceremony so you have to settle for a picture of the dude that edged him out)

Rafal was also out there and looking strong.

Then it was time for the long drive home north to Omaha.

Thoughts on the Epic tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Good times were had, more later. I gotta get to work.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Trek Top Fuel

Thanks to the Trek guys at Midtown for letting me give their Top Fuel a spin over the weekend.
Here are my thoughts:

  • I did not realize that a FS bike could be so stiff. At first I thought that the suspension was set up for someone twice my weight, but I was using up all the travel in the rear.
  • The bike came equipped with a Fox F-Series with a remote lockout. I always thought of remote lockout as kind of gimmicky, but I really dug how you could just flip it on and off if you wanted to stand and navigate through a sketchy rock garden in a big gear ( will always be a SS'er at heart). Plus on the long climbs it was nice to lockout the fork and stand to climb........the rear suspension kept my (narrow and minimally treaded) tire hooked up at all times.
  • XT all around.........its solid.....I have never used trigger shifters (gripshift for life!) and even a numbskull like me was able to operate them. The XT brakes really stood out, but that should not surprise anyone.
  • Wheels......meh.....I was actually surprised how quickly the Bontrager (Pro?) hubs engaged. Not light, not heavy, just OEM wheels. I am not a huge fan of bontrager wheels though. (Patterson has made me into the wheel snob I am today).
I took the bike to Platte River on Saturday for 5 laps. The first lap felt really awkward. I felt way up in the air, and was not feeling the narrow tire love, slip sliding around. The 2nd and 3rd laps marked improvement. I felt comfortable really leaning the bike into the corners, and learning to "sit down, use the gears, and ride" (4 years on a SS kind of turns you into a stand up and mash kinda rider).
The 4th and 5th laps were what it was all about. By this point I am usually in shambles after having put out tons of extra energy grinding up climbs, banging down descents, and spinning like crazy on the SS. I was tired, but I was not cramping or otherwise impaired and I was still having fun.
Then it was off to Tranqulity to see how the Top Fuel fared on a raging fast course. I turned 2 laps before my tank signaled empty and I headed back to the house for the quintessential southern mans dinner (and PBR).

So when it was all said and done I got in almost 40 miles.
Some thoughts
  • The frame I rode was a large.....I need a med. the TT was just too long and made my low back sore.
  • The Saddle was not meant for my bottom.
  • I really dug how stiff the Fox Fork was, but I actually wish that it was as adjustable as the Reba. A little plushness goes a long way.
  • Not sure I am in love with the Fox Fork, but I really need to learn how to adjust them before I start casting stones.

Al tiptoes through the tulips.......

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

going 0 for 3

So that whole details thing ........ not really been working out for me. Three race entry failures in fours days.
  • Chemaquagon Lottery system (on the tandem): Fail!
  • TT @ Jewell Park: Fail (but I have no one to blame but myself)
  • Laramie......doesn't look good.
seriously, I cannot fathom that that many people can type that much faster than me. I started registration the instant it opened, and then I checked the entries it listed me at a number just over 160. oh well!
Its good the see small events become popular, and there are inherently going to be some growing pains as this or any event that grows exponentially. I hope that it is wildly successful whether i get in or not.....
......and here is why.
One of the things I really liked about going west was the sense of community and the grassroots nature of events out here. I really dig the fact that stuff like Laramie, CtB, Almanzo, PCL, Ride to Paradise, Farm House Classic, The Tipton Chicken Ride (which me and Waller crushed on the Tandem), even Ouachita are all events that are meant to showcase a region, town, or just a bunch of lonesome gravel roads that people might not otherwise visit. The folks that put on these events do it cuz they want to, to raise money for a community or school and have a good time.
And they do it reasonably.
Regardless of whether I get in to the Enduro, I will probably be there. Handing up bottles, creeping on Waller and Brad, being a hooligan and otherwise bolstering the economy of Laramie, WY.
See, I am not a total dirtbag........but I am not above riding bandit.


I can't believe it!
I got dumped into the Laramie Enduro lottery.
I was registered in the first 200 by my count.
I will refrain from using all caps and brightly colored letters.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

TT Fail!

Most anyone that knows me will tell you that I am not a details person.
Just give me the overarching agenda and I will generally bulldoze my way through life and all it entails. I truly believe that the details will work themselves out (or Big Al will take care of the details....whatever).
Well, this morning the details got the better of me. Last night I had dinner with our very dear friends, Larry and Dana Simonson, in Lincoln. Anyway we were talking about how great it was to live near a metro area so we could just show up to a race a half our before it started and not have to drive 2 or 3 hours from Manhattan. I was feeling particularly smug about the fact that this morning I would roll out of bed, have some coffee, walk the dog, eat a scone or do whatever cyclists do when they don't have to drive 150 miles to a race. Just generally relax until when I would show up, register, and race the TT at Jewell Park.
A minor detail was that you had to preregister by last night at 8pm.
so looks like no racing for me. I am getting ready to start calling some shops to see if anyone has some FS bikes available for demo (I expect to hear no a lot). The bike I have been after is supposed in a container on a ship somewhere in asia........but that ship is dry docked indefinitely.
Bike Industry Fail!
It is rather disappointing how some few shops actually keep nice mtn bikes in stock, much less actually have nice bikes to demo. But I know that hybrid bikes a $500 mountain bikes are bread and butter for almost all shops. such is life.
Her Al-ness and I did manage to sneak out to Platte River yesterday. The place was absolutely deserted. I figured on a beautiful holiday weekend it would be crawling with folks. oh well more for me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

shipping excitement

My favorite Iowegians decided to hook a brother up with some sweet threads

The wheels for my new bike also showed up.
Now If I can just get the rest of it.