Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The company you keep

Cods wallop.
I should have listened to my parents.
They were always harping about being careful who you hangout with.
You never know what sort of negative influences you will be subjected to.
Thats the problem with hanging out with people like Butch.
You get a little taste of the good stuff and all of the sudden you are in a realm of italian depravity that you never knew existed.
I left my jacket behind last week, and Butch lent me his Castelli Fusione.
Holy nuts.
I don't get up in a hot fuss about clothing much, but that was one of the most comfortable pieces of apparel I have ever donned.
I like it so much that tomorrow I am going to walk into a bike shop and (gasp) pay retail for one.
Given the mild winter we are in the midst of, I am not hedging my bets on buying any skis this year.
Sometime in the next couple of weeks I am going to be doing some shilling. You might notice, that I don't advertise or even really promote sponsors on this blog. Its not that I am not grateful for the support I receive, but that in my mind is business. My blog is personal, and is not something that I put a dollar value on. Brands and products get promoted because people see them being utilized. I utilize the crap out of my stuff everyday.
That being said, I don't have any money and daddy needs a new bike. I promise I will not get all dicky on you, and fill this with daily drivel about straps and a bobble head doll that dictates the nature of my bowel movements.......or whatever sort of ascendancy Mike Piazza has over the wee one.
My goal for this next year is to have a 10,000 mile year, which, granted, is pretty ambitious given the short nature of MN's unfrozen state. Brace yourself.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Aftermath

The perceived fallout from getting back from a fortnight away from home and not cleaning my bike upon returning home, manifested itself in the form of a Jockey wheel that crapped its pants after the great hog wrestling that was was a hell of a sentence......channeling Hunter S. Thompson.
I have had to deal with a lot of jockey wheels recently

Above: on the Left are SRAM X-9 Jockey wheels. The furtherset left one I managed to partially crush while riding off a skinny. To the right of it is the X9 pulley (filched off the tandem), only to learn that they changed the design the next model year (shaking fist at the sky). I ended up going to Buchois's (french for Butch) local bike shop to get what I needed. The two pulleys on the right are off of my SRAM Rival Derailleur, but the rightmost was completely seized. There was mud in between the metal caps and the bearing seals and the bearings were pretty well packed with mud.

I cleaned the bearing out as best I could, then blew it out with WD-40. It cleaned up really well, but the bearing was still completely siezed. The bearing brackets and what I could see or the races did not appear to be especially corroded,

After a little thinking and pricing replacement parts I said, "screw it" and clamped the center of the bearing with vice grips and used a chain whip to break it loose. after I forced it free I hit it with a few blasts of WD-40 and then hit it with some compressed air to dry it out. By now it was spinning very freely, so I repacked it with waterproof grease, snapped in the clean seals and put it back together. I should also add that I that taken the whole bike apart for its yearly deep cleaning. I also repacked the external BB bearing that I salvaged last year. I have found that I if I can keep grease in it it remains functional. I just get sick of having to cough up at least 40 bucks every time a bearing craps out.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Just Jill did some family pictures for us when we were back home. She was incredibly patient and got some great pictures. If you are in East TN or Western NC you should consider her for your Family portrait needs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Old Country

I am so covered up with things that I think its easier to just let the pictures tell the stories

Gaspar got to visit the Brothers Scott. Jake struggles with the concept that one time, he too, was a small person

Brutus and Barley had a budding bromance

Butch would have approved

Huffing and puffing up the north Boundary Road

Recovering from all the riding

Slaving for the man.

The view from my parents farm. If it wasn't for the prospects of abject poverty I would go back.

Gaspar gets behind the wheel

Image jacked from E. Hoesly's Facebook Album
The mud and the Crud at Jingle Cross. Results were marginal at best, but the honkeys from Nebraska were positively dominating. Its pretty obvious that they are taking it to another level. Mod swept the Masters 35+ all three days, but Noah was just killing it. I can remember when we were pretty evenly matched, but He has really taken his game to a whole other level. Rafal was within striking distance of the SS podium all weekend, and finally took the spot that he wanted on Sunday. Great Job Nebraska! But Nebraskans ain't no one trick ponies. Enter the Super Fans.

Image jacked from E. Hoesly's Facebook album
Good times!
Last night I got my old Reba fork converted over to 100mm of travel. Ali wanted longer travel on her 29er after riding my bike this summer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Traveling to AMBC Fall Festival

Brutus and I Jumped in the car early last friday and drove all the way to Kentucky. We couch surfed with a awesome family in Berea, and I went to a Homecoming function at Berea College (my alma mater). Its kind of amusing to see peoples reaction when they find out that I am a scientist. I was not the most dedicated student, and had little interest in STEM careers. All of my professors were really excited to see that I really loved working in science (as opposed to living under a bridge swilling Wild Irish Rose).
After the Homecoming Breakfast We jumped in the car and drove down to Knoxville for the AMBC Fall Festival at Knoxville's Dirty South Trails. It was hands down, one of the most enjoyable days on the bike I have had. I also ran into a fellow Kansan Abroad, Charles Coats, DVM. Its such a small world. There was a guided ~30 mile ride on tap in the afternoon, and we rolled out a little behind. But within 15 minutes I kept dropping my chain off the SS. I ended up having to break the chain and pull a link, then reset the EBB. I cant figure out how all of the sudden my chain could stretch so much that the EBB could not pull all the slack. ugh. I hate being that guy on a ride.
Our group was comprised of the Me, Brad, and several of the NTMBC. We rolled a few miles, just starting to get into the flow of the trails, when we ran into the rest of the motley crew from TVB changing a flat. Beverages got passed around, morale was high.
From here on out there was a mighty gnar shredding, that was led by TVB co-owner Scott Smith, who would absolutley rip rocky, tech singletrack on a CX bike with 35c tires.
The Work that has gone into creating the "dirty south" trails is simply mind blowing. There are sections of raised bridges that go one for hundreds of feet, flow that knows no end, and a judicious use of terrain that made my 34:18 gearing not unreasonable. The only qualm was that the trails cover a very large area, and could very easily be confusing. The trails are on private and public land. Getting LGU's onboard for trail development is often less rewarding than sticking your hand in a garbage disposal, but the AMBC guys have done a brilliant job of it.

We ended up getting about 25 miles in before heading back to the festival. I made it back with 15 minutes before they started the short track race. So I sat down, had a cherry Coke, and tried to collect myself for some wild-eyed short track fun (spoiler: This would hurt).
About 10 of us lined up for the Expert race, that was started with a real cannon (insert rebel yell). We started and quickly realized that there were only about 200 feet to pass, and it was right in the middle of the crowds so people were yelling, throwing beer, and encroaching on the course. It was awesome. Once the cannon roared we sprinted to make a 90 degree turn into the singletrack.
After having spent the last 3 months on rock hard dry dirt in MN, I let it all hang out and went wide into the 90 degree turn and hope for the best. To my surprise (and the 3 guys in front of me that I cut off) I did not wrap myself around a pine.
Enter the Hero Dirt.
You could go just about as fast as you wanted, and if you had enough room to get the bike leaned over you were going to maintain traction. The rest of the one mile course was tight, fast singletrack. It was sweet. I spent two laps catchin up to the guy in 4th, then we saw the 3rd place rider with a mechanical. There was already a pretty good gap between 2nd and 3rd, so on the last lap I used the ol' Josh Patterson Chop pass to slip into 3rd place right before we went back into the ST. Then I just tried to bury it. I knew I had a little gap, but the tight nature of the trails did not really give you a chance to look around. Then my concentration lapsed. I clipped a tree and went down. Boom.
When you are in the process of piling it up at high speed, it is pretty amazing how quickly you can react. I was convinced I broke my hand when I hit the ground, but that thought was secondary to the thought that I needed to get back on the bike and finish the race. I feel like I must have bounced up, and waggled my fingers as I was leaping onto the bike. It just happens so quickly.
Turns out I had a good ten seconds on Shaggy in 4th, so I was able to ride it in for 3rd place in the expert field. Scott from TVB took the W.
Some footage

Then I managed to indulge in a refreshing beverage and some spectacular gnosh. I ended up sitting next to an old couple to eat, and we struck up a conversation. Turns out he is one of the Knox County commissioners, and has worked very closely with the AMBC to further the trails in Knoxville.
The bottom line in all of this is that you should make the trip to the southeast for MTB fun. Checkout the AMBC Site for details and maps.
Checkout TVB to hang and ride with people that love bikes.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Levis Trow

First, it is pronounced Lev-iss, not like Levi's jeans. And apperently a Trow a mystical northern euro-centric midget. Hence this is why they host Gnome-fest here? (in best Mina Hosni voice, "creepy")
I racked up some flex time last week so I took Friday off and we went to central WI to check out the IMBA Epic route. I had heard stories about these trails and wanted to scope things out. The trails will close in a couple of weeks due to WI rifle season, and the woods were already thick with bow hunters.
Lots of terrain, roots, loose sand, and steep climbs abounded. I really felt that I spent all of the first day just trying to figure out what direction to ride and never got past the Levis mound. This morning I managed to find the trail of the IMBA Epic Route and proceeded to ride until I could not stand it any more.

The only one-way trail.

Billy Goat Gruff

Rolling Toad Road

I was getting pretty sick of all these vistas.

6 point.

Goat Dance.


For the next trip bring:
Gears or nothing bigger than 32:20. I ran 34:18 (and walked nothing) and it hurt. alot. Its not that you cant do it with a big gear, but if you wanna ride all day, its not sustainable.

Tent: There is primitive camping at the TH with bathrooms and water. Since it was pretty chilly at night we stayed at a rustic country motel. It was really nice, but next time we will camp to make full use of the facilities.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Idle hands

John Waller did this. I find it vaguely disturbing.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I love a good race, but that being said I hate a bad race. I have never done a road race (with the exception of a collegiate race on my SS CX bike), but saturday I went to the north side of the city for a crit that was masquerading as CX.
It was flat, hot and windy. I started in the very back row. The race started and every knuckle head in front of me decided to fall on each other. I just rode around them and was in the top 5 in about 8 seconds. The dude in front of me was muttering about cat 5s, and proceeded to lay it down about 15 seconds later. I am not Gods gift to bike handling, but these guys were making me look like a ROCK STAR! Dudes would just fall down.

This was the only exciting part of the course
Once we got past the technical section, it became apperent that wattage could overcome many shortcomings. I passed one dude like 3 times as he was picking himself up off the grass. However I was still losing a position per lap and finished like 12th out of 30?. With one lap to go one guy even offered to pull me. I could not stay on his wheel. It was pathetic. I had nothing.

In the 4 frames that preceded this I was actually holding my bike over my head. Its just how I run, Noah would not have approved.
There was such a huge gap in the skill level in that field. There were some dudes out there in the 3's that would have been in the top half of the 1/2 race. Even finishing as far back as I did I still managed to lap a handful of riders.
It was a good experience, but I will never go to that venue again. I am beginning to realize how spoiled I was in KS and NE, with such great CX promoters and really well attended races. I also have an appreciation for promoters that get a great venue before getting the event permitted. You can't make chicken salad out of chicken poop.

Then Sunday night we did a family ride. Its kind of nice when I pull the trailer, since it allows me to work as hard as I want, and it creates a huge draft for ali to sit if she wants to. She did get frisky and tried a break going up a climb, but I covered that move.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

USGP CX at Sun Prairie, WI

So after watching on Saturday, I got to race the SS race on Sunday morning. IT was an absolute swamp. We got several showers that really got things good and swampy. I am not really sure what is wrong with me. I knew it was going to be crappy, and I still did not put mud tires on (Michelin Mud 2's).
For some reason I was also under this impression that you got a set of AVID Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes for taking the holeshot. So when I got called up (how I cannot fathom) I quickly assessed the situation. The Craig Etheridge (who crushed everyone and rode through the entire masters field) was back again, so I knew that I was going to be relegated to scrapping for whatever was left. I got a front row position so when the gun went off a really stood on it and went right to the front (remember, I think that I am going to win a brakeset for getting the hole shot), and no one contested it. I lead for about a 1/4 lap and then a couple riders came around.

Racing in mud that soft is always draining, but the grass and mud was building up around my V-brakes creating extra drag.

I did my best to chase down the masters racers and remain upright, but it was slow and slimey.
If I was not so absolutely shelled I would have cared that I was covered with filth and mud that had so thoroughly penetrated my skinsuit, soaked my chamois, and created the sensation of having soiled ones diaper.

I then waddled over to the pressure wash station to try to clean up my bike, only to have some guy come over and turn off the pressure washers, saying that they had to save the water for the UCI Pro race.

I was tempted to unzip my skinsuit , scoop out some grundle mud, and artistically express my true feelings of inadequacy on this dudes forehead. I managed to contain my artistic proclivities, and went chase down my new brakes (for winning the holeshot). The officials that I talked to, looked at me like I was high when I asked about the brakeset. Apperently, I created a imaginary preme for winning the holeshot. There was a $250 prize for the pro's but nobody else got anything, other than the chance to lead 25 weird dudes for about 2 minutes. Don't get me wrong, I have never entered a race precisely because I was going to win something, but I was so bewildered that I had conjured this imaginary, non-existant prime. Maybe it was hearing Dave Towle repeat the phrase, "the AVID Shorty Ultimate Holeshot!" for 2 days. Never doubt the underhanded, brainwashing potential of SRAM's marketing ploys.
I have some more thoughts that I will try to get down later this week. My time is at a premium , so time devoted to bloggage is slim. Jasper managed to eat part of a manilla envelope while I was making dinner. About 2 minutes later it looked like a scene from the exorcist. He threw up so much! I almost got it cleaned up before Ali walked in....almost. We both were chastised. So no more multitasking while I have Jasper duty.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

USGP CX #1 Sun Prairie

Nate Woodman feeds the mob mentality at the Stanley Run Up. He rode it every time.

More after I get something to eat.

Monday, September 12, 2011

calling 911

Had another interesting Saturday morning. Butch proposed a bike ride south out of the cities, escorting Wes as he was headed back down towards Rochester. I left the house at 6am, and was going to meet Butch and Wes at the Mendota bridge.

As I was rolling into St. paul I found a big guy laying face up in the middle of a the street right at the intersection of Robert and Kellog. Not moving. Traffic is light so I put my bike in the street infront of the dude and start asessing the situation. No apparent trauma, and I could see the rise and fall of his chest. I started talking to him and he opened his eyes, and said that he could not feel his hands or feet. I could not smell alcohol on him and he did not look like he had been out partying all night. I asked him if I should call 911, and he said yes. After I got off the phone with 911 it took the firefighters about 7 minutes to get to the scene (and they brought a ladder truck?) I told the medic on the fire crew what the story was and got the ok to leave the scene.

Then it was a SS TT through the Mississippi River bottoms to try to meet Butch and Wes at the appointed time. I was spun out when I rolled up, almost on top of, the most robust looking coyote I have ever seen. He looked like he had been living fat all summer. Probably eating stray cats and dogs. For a few seconds I was close enough that I could have spit on him. He did not seemed terribly concerned, but I was. I need to put the Hope hub back on that bike so it will scare away all the critters.

Then I caught up with Butch and Wes, and we started heading south towards farmington, mn. Wes was on his big dummy with all of his gear so the pace was conversational. We talked of many things

"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--

Of cabbages--and kings--

And why the sea is boiling hot--

And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,

"Before we have our chat;

For some of us are out of breath,

And all of us are fat!"

Lewis Carroll

As it has become a theme lately all pictures were jacked from Butch's Twit-pic feed, and will continue to be until he tells me to stop and or gets a restraining order. You can also find his resurgent blog on the right under "Radness"

As I was riding along I noticed that Wes had the leg of a pair of jeans hanging out he back of his Big Dummy. The jeans turned out to be the carrying case for a incredibly cool idea.

Wes had created a snow breaker plow for a bike.

I was blown away.

I looted a field of food grade white corn. It looks like sweet corn, but is not sweet (it has a corny flavor)

Little did we know that there would be double scoop ice cream cones at the bottom of this long downhill.

Good times!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ah, the dirty south

TN is always good for some satire
For reference, This is the town next to where Ali grew up. My mother-in-Law (who is with us in MN right now) is gonna bust some skulls when she gets back on Saturday.
This tyranny will not stand!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Butch enhanced Cayuna Daytrip

I was watching the weather all this past week. waiting. plotting.
Then Thursday night I heard that Katie and Al had bike riding planned for Sunday. Perfect.
This (in my mind) justifed me and Butch getting together for a long ride on Saturday.
Friday I sent Butch a plot thickening text message. Turns out he was down for a trip up north.

So we left the cities at 6am on saturday morning, to hit the 30-some miles of single track and not be out all day.

Images jacked from Butch's Instagram feed
As soon as we got there I laid out the plan of attack. On my previous trip up there I rode all of the Portsmouth Mine trails first, and by the time we got over to the Yawkey Mine my compatriots were too pooped to properly shred. So I had some unfinished business that we needed to address. We took the singletrack traverse over the the Yawkey Mine. Usually butch lets me lead, since he always worries about holding me up on the climbs since I was on the SS. I, on the other hand, worry about hold Butch up on the descents, which means I sometimes go a little faster than may be prudent.
So we were cooking it over to the Yawkey mine, working the pump track rollers. we were really moving, when I got a little big for my britches, and overshot a little double gap, slamming my front wheel into the base of another roller.
In the span of a second, 100mm fork totally compresses, I see a small Jesus is sitting on my stem, waggling his finger, and try to decide how I am gonna ride this one out.

I actually had a quick flashback to this video (Warning, there is blood and bone at the end).

If you are not comfortable with this image from Joshua Abrahamson, keep scrolling

I managed to hold on long enough to scrub speed by riding into the uphill part of the benchcut. I sheepishly look back a Butch, who surmised my thoughts by commenting, "that was close". Was a little scraped up, but not really worse for wear. We proceeded on with caution and prudence, and that lasted about 5 minutes.

Images jacked from Butch's Instagram feed
Cayuna trails really allow you utilize the inherent terrain, and pump to carry speed. If you are not careful you can carry that speed right into the hospital.

Images jacked from Butch's Instagram feed
One of the things that really puzzled me was how confused people were by the maps and trail routes. Literally every time we stopped at a trail junction someone was asking for directions. Cayuna is really well marked, but its pretty obvious that most people do not have to know how to use maps. I feel much more comfortable with a good map and compass than with a GPS, but it kills me how intimidated the general public is by a topographic map. I will refrain from "a technology is making people dumb" rant. Granted, the trails are really stacked in some places.

Anyhow, we ended up with about 40 miles, and had time to get a swim before loading back up to be back in the cities by dinner time, but not until we had a DQ ice cream cones. Life, to the fullest.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Border Battling and adventures with small children

So last week my folks were in town to visit so we made the trip up too Duluth.

The lift bridge in all its glory.

Jasper gets grammy time

"We don't know nothing about what happened to your beer"

Then Ali and I had some free time for bike ride/date nights, and she squanders it taking pictures of me peeing in the woods

I made a quintessential southern dinner of Collard greens, rosemary roasted taters, and buttermilk brined fried chicken.

Jasper is mobile enough now to really begin to pester Brutus

Then on Sunday I slipped out to River Falls for my first WORS race. Not quite sure what to think. There were a ton of people. After the tar whipping I recieved at last years afton avalanche I thought that comp would be a more appropriate place for me given the depth of the fields and my disdain for actual training. I am rethinking that after sunday. I think I would rather deal with a few PRO women than have to spend half my race fighting traffic in the COMp class.

It was a good experience, but putting 200 racers on a 5 mile course with 4 passing spots made for lame racing, especially on the SS.
Getting a callup in the WORS race is a huge advantage. I got 7th in the comp SS but was only 2 minutes back from the first place time and a good minute of that difference was established in the first mile as we slogged up the BFH. My 7th place SS time would have gotten me 2nd place in my age can't say the competition isn't great.