Thursday, February 28, 2013

all the kids are jealous

There's just too much cool shit out there, with the National Handmade Bike Show pics floating around all over the interwebz you can't help but oogle all the cool stuff. While most of it will never see mass production some really cool stuff is created and not just left as an idea on a drawing board. Fat bikes were all the rage from what I understand and from the looks of the pics I can see that was true. The one that really caught my attention was the Moots IMBA RCR trail work bike, complete with a 6er for those hard working trail gnomes. I really need one.

I even saw a downhill fat bike with a triple crown fork, crazy stuff. I can't, not mention Specialized's new 29er Enduro, while technically not the first, definitely one of the cooler, most well designed 6" travel 29er's. Of course there was some of the anti 29er crowd calling it stupid but come on why waste your breath. You know it was gonna happen and it won't stop there. 29" wheels are here to stay, so are 650b and fat bikes and whatever else the engineers/artists can dream up. Why would you want it to stop with 26? There will always be someone out there trying and building new things, if there weren't, this sport might become stale. I say if you don't like 29" wheels or fat bikes that's fine with me but keep the negativity to yourself.

After my post about the Club Ride Apparel I noticed another company, Zoic has jumped into the fray with their version.

It seems to be geared more to the cold weather gear line up but I'm digging it just as well. With the looks of our weekend's weather forecast I could use one of those flannel shirts to ride in. At least they're not calling for rain and snow. I'm ready for some warm, dry riding weather. This is the most time I've spent off the bike in a long time and I'm done with it. Wait.... I'm pretty sure I've said this before, recently.

My newest edition of Bike Mag came in the mail yesterday and when I reached the Bike Review section the first sled I saw was the Transition Kunker, it was glorious! I love that bike even and while the testers made fun of it in a round about way when comparing it to today's modern bikes they both agreed it was the most fun they've had on a bike in a long time. Both made immediate plans to obtain one for their own quiver. For once I felt a sense of pride, I have something they do not.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

what to wear

Normally I don't do product reviews but after yesterday's ride I certainly feel compelled to do so. Maybe because I'm hoping some of the LBS crew will read this and take note.

For Christmas I put a Club Ride jersey, on my wish list and Melinda got it for me. I've worn it around town a couple of time but since it's short sleeved yesterday was the first day I've really had a chance to try it out on a ride. I loved it, definitely a pricey jersey but if you stop to think about the fact that it's made in Sun Valley Idaho, not a Chinese sweatshop and it can double as a nice shirt for a pub crawl or to dinner with the misses it's not a bad deal.

Other than looking really cool it felt really comfortable unlike some form fitting jerseys I own. It does have 2 zippered pockets on the lower back and 2 breast pockets though I didn't use them. I never felt constricted in it and I'll definitely buy another one soon, maybe next payday but soon enough.

I know some of the racing kids will probably think the look is dumb or silly but anymore I ride to have fun and I get compliments on it everytime I wear it, on or off the bike. This year I'll probably shift more to the baggy side of clothing unless it's scorching hot. Sometimes I feel the full lycra kits look silly, especially when your out on a big fun ride with the crew.

I know this isn't a proper gear review breaking down the jersey in fine detail but frankly those bore me. The bottom line is, the jersey was comfortable and the fit and look were spot on.

Friday, February 22, 2013

harlem shake?

What is up with all these stupid Harlem Shake videos? Will someone please explain this to me? They're everywhere, in an attempt to figure what this craze is all about I asked Melinda if she had any idea. Her response, "Is it like a shake you drink?" I explained to her what I'd seen and she looked at me like I was crazy. Just last night I hit the You Tube app on my "smarter than me" phone and without doing a search I counted 9+ different "Shake" videos. It's so popular old folks homes are doing it, swim teams, celebrities, and even some of my local businesses are doing it. I'm not sure why but I feel like I'm always out of the loop on the newest Facebox trends. I guess I don't spend as much time on there as Melinda says I do.

I'm ready for this yo yo weather to get warm and dry and stay that way, my allergies are having a fit and I'm ready for the trails to stay dry longer than 2 days. It seems the best days to ride lately are the days I'm at work. The one good thing about this weather is it's easier to get trailwork done, not that I need a reason to do it. I'm actually a bit obsessed with it lately. Creating a new trail the way you have always wanted and then getting to ride it is a waaay better feeling than cleaning a technical section you've been trying to clean for years or winning your first race. Why is that? Well cause the glory of a trail finished with your handy work lasts indefinitely, that is unless you're building illegal and someone finds out and tears down your trail.

The only bad thing about my obsession is the fact that I tend do it more than I should. My lower back does not like this nor does Melinda when I let it get in the way of things that need to be done around the house. Luckily there are a few local guys who seem to be as obsessed with it as much as I am, some even worse, but don't tell them I said anything. The folks who ride our trails and never lend a hand far out weigh the trail gnomes.

Maybe if I made a Harlem Shake trail gnome video that would change? Nah

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

klunking ain't free

I've been debating on writing here for a while, blogging is time consuming. Maybe if I wrote shorter pieces more often I wouldn't have as much to say when I finally get around to writing. Good thought, maybe I'll keep this thing for a bit longer. Facebox has definitely killed the blog but I'd flood it with posts if I said everything I wanted to on there.
Anyways, on to more important matters, Klunking, one of my new favorite things to do.
Damon and I made the inaugural ride last night at our monthly Bays Night ride. Not really the type of ride this bike was suited for but it's a slower paced ride meant for beginner night riders that I figured would be a good time to get my feet wet. I had more fun riding that bike than I've had in a long time.
Needless to say I was a bit sore after pushing the 36x18 gear, normally I run a 32x20 on the FROG but I had a blast and pushed it less than I thought I would. Once you get that thing rolling a few stomps of the pedals and you're up the hill. The hard part was keeping that flow going when the geared folks are downshifting in front of you.
I thought that between the gear I was running, the wheels being 26" and the frame fully rigid I would struggle but not so. The only thing I ran into trouble with was learning to ride coaster brakes on singletrack. You really have to anticipate when you need to brake and make sure your pedals are in the proper position. I need to work on my power slides and jumping on flats, I suck at both. Damon on the other hand was a  natural with his BMX background.

One thing I did learn, a proper tool for bolt on hubs is a must from now on. I forgot if you drop a chain you have no brakes, Damon dropped his 5 or 6 times during last nights ride and it was scary, luckily not collisions with trees. Neither of us had anything to tighten the rear hub bolts.
My next ride, I'll focus more on riding downhill and trying to hone my skills a bit.
The only blood shed last night was me, trying to jump the Klunker and forgetting I wasn't clipped in. My BKB sock took a bit of damage too but they're tough and don't bleed.

Another first last night was my new Kali helmet with it's built in camera/light mount. The helmet came with a grab bag of mounts but unfortunately Cygolight wasn't one of them. A bit of drilling and I was able to make it work but I do need some fine tuning to make the fit more precise.

Monday, January 28, 2013

this weather blows

Man this weather SUX, yeah you know it too. The last couple of winters here in the south have been warmish and dry, spoiling us and allowing us to pretty much ride comfortably all year round. Riding year round even in the cold is not unheard of, I do it every year and have plenty of cold weather gear to combat the temps but this cold, wet weather is really taking a toll on me. The trails are a soggy mess and are pretty much unrideable right now. With 100% chance of rain on Wednesday it doesn't look like much will change anytime soon. Too warm to snow and too cold to dry out before the next round of precipitation.

I've been very tempted to get back out there and start running again but I'm not gonna lie when I say I'm scared too. If I don't get in some sort of ride in the next 2 weeks I'll be forced to test the waters.

Even the past 2 trailwork days have been cancelled due to the sucky weather, we're getting behind on a ridiculously full work schedule and it's driving me crazy.

Alot of progress has been made in the way of trail sign production. Joe and Daniel have been cranking them out left & right from the dry confines of their garages. My end of the deal though, painting the signs, is starting to stack up.

In all my down time I was doing a bit of reading lately, bikes of course but a topic about beer cellars and aging beers caught my eye. After reading about where the best place to store beers that you're aging is a dark basement with a steady temp range of 50-65 degrees I realized the potential my basement has. A few days later I was strolling through the high gravity beer aisle at my local package store when I noticed a new shipment of Sam Adams brew specifically created for this aging process. I figured this must be a sign so I bought my first two and promptly deposited them in the basement hoping I won't be tempting to crack them open early.

Speaking of fine aging, Ocho is growing like a weed and becoming a fine dog. He's definitely a smart one, I wish I had the patience to train him properly. Unlike Moonshine when he does get to ride in the cab of my truck he sits very still and is calm. Moonshine can't and won't do this, even in her old age, riding up front is too muchexcitement for her, she whines and paces constantly. As soon as things dry up I plan to start teaching Ocho the way of trail riding.

With no opportunity to ride I have had plenty of time to do a bit of bike maintenance. Another new handle bar was ordered, this one for the FROG, a matchy matchy Niner Green one. I honestly wasn't planning to go with the green but there was a killer sale and the only color choices were green or orange. I thought hard for a minute about the orange but decided a little too much matchy matchy was better than the orange.

It's a sharp looking bar and I was really tempted to remove all the shifty bits from the handle bar space and make the FROG an SS again but again I held off with my lower back in mind. I'm pretty much pain free but I don't want to push my luck.

Our 2013 calendar is filling up quick, almost too quick, luckily it's all fun bike related trips and adventures. A recent invitation to join a local racing team was extended and while it was tempting I'm standing firm as of now with my decision to pass in favor of keeping my summer free to do rides that are all about the fun factor.

I may throw my hat into the racing ring later this year but as of now I have no race plans on my agenda.

Monday, January 21, 2013

spilling the beans

It's really no secret, I'm not good at keeping quiet when it comes to new bikes. I'm like a little kid at Christmas all giddy with excitement.
A few weeks back, at a ride I missed out on or some sort of adventure in the woods probably involving a couple of beers and idea was spawned to have a klunker build off and ride by this spring. An announcement was made of sort via the Facebox and I immediately jumped on the bandwagon.
About this same time Transition bikes debuted a new bike the "Klunker" an ode to the pioneers of mountain biking. 26" wheels, steel retro look frame, singlespeed, coaster brake and no suspension. All the newest, latest and greatest technology was throw out the window for a straight in your face good time the old school way.
Originally I had planned to build up a klunker like everyone else in the build off with a real old school frame salvaged from where ever you could find one. The more I thought about it the more I was leaning toward buying the Transition, even though I knew I would take some heat for it.
As I weighed out the pros and cons of the 2 different routes I realized I would probably spend on the higher end of the $200-$400 spectrum of building an old school bike. A bike I knew would only be ridden a handful of times and would likely break by the years end due to off-road riding it wasn't designed for. This happened back in the original klunker days hence the start of some of the most famous bike companies in history.
Enough of the history lesson, basically I decided to go ahead and buy the Transition because I knew it would last and in all honesty get ridden more. I don't fully expect to ride it every week but hey the complete bike it cost less than some wheelsets I've purchased in the past.
I almost missed the boat in scoring this one, I looked vigorously online for one and ended up grabbing one at the Hub in Brevard NC. The entire first run of these sold out before they hit the bike shops, I got very lucky.
I guess I'm a member now.
Buying a bike with 26" wheels was something I thought I would never do again. I've heard the argument made that 29" wheels make mountain biking too easy. The same argument could be said for gears, big suspension travel, hydraulic brakes, carbon fiber, seatpost droppers etc....
I know this bike won't quiet the naysayers, I didn't buy it too. I bought it because it's gonna be fun as hell to ride. I'm really not the anti 26er person everyone thinks I am. I might lead a few to believe that online but that's mainly for my own amusement. Call me an instigator if you want, I know I am.
Where will I ride it? I've got a few ideas, I doubt I'll be doing any big xc rides on it. Most of the rides this bike will see will consist of pushing up hill and riding down and a handful of urban assaults, CRAWL anyone?
It came with a 44x18 drivetrain but I knew that was silly for my taste and ability so I swapped the front chainring to a 36, still a bit steep for anything with much incline but I'll manage or push it.
For now my plans are to rock it with flat pedals and my old school bmx helmet, I never rode bmx but it made for a great snowboard helmet. Anything else just seems silly.
Oh yeah, I wasn't alone when I made this purchase, there might be another Tranny Klunker lurking in the Tri-Cities but I'll let that individual spill their own beans.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

what do I plan to do with 2013?

1360 and some change, that was my off-road mileage for the year and as usual I have no idea what my road mileage was, those miles don't matter. At first I was certain that this was less than what I rode last year but after a bit of research I realized I beat my 2011 mileage of 1342. Hot damn I wasn't a slacker after all.

I set the goal of 1500 early in the year but then quickly decided I needed to focus on being more physically fit all around than just a stronger rider. With that I began lifting more weights, which obviously didn't stick once the warm weather kicked in and I also focused on running more which stopped all together once I started experiencing lower back pain again. After a couple months of ice & ibuprofen I decided it was time to let my body rest and start searching for an alternative to healing. Through a friend I found a book on how to make lower back pain a thing of the past, all without the help of doctors and modern medicine. Seven quick and easy exercises that I do regularly even when I'm not experiencing pain have help me become mostly pain free over the past couple of weeks. For a while I was living off of ibuprofen and I didn't like the idea of relying on medicine to help me get through the day, now I don't have to and I feel better about it.

So my goals for this year? To continue or should I say pick up where I left off in being more fit all around for one, I really have my work cut out for me. Will I start running again? I'm not sure. Also I plan to focus more on giving back to my local trails and cycling community. This year we have more opportunity to build and revamp existing trails than we have ever had, so much opportunity that I don't see us getting it all done in the next 2 years. That my friends is a good thing. Not getting it done won't be because of a lack of trying, we'll be working hard at it every month. The real question is, who will come out and join us?

In the past year we've really seen a growth in new fresh faces showing up to the trail workdays. Yeah we don't see huge numbers like some of the bigger cities but we are seeing double the amount of participants coming out to lend a hand. The cool thing is that most are excited about doing the work and some complain when we are forced to cancel a workday due to weather. That right there makes me smile and very proud of my fellow singletrack friends.

Am I satisfied with what we've accomplished? Yes but don't expect me to settle for it, I will continue to push for more, and I will continue to encourage people to come out and lend a hand in creating one of the best areas in TN for mountain biking. So here's to the new year, better health and new trails to ride, chock full of roots, rocks, berms and jumps!

See you at the next workday!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

29+ and then some

Strolling through the Facebox webosphere, wasting time as if that is nothing new and I click on the Surly blog post link in my news feed. One can usually find something entertaining to read around those parts. It's wasn't the blog they linked that really caught my attention but an older entry that had some photos that stopped me dead in my mouse tracks.

I'll be damned if that ain't the new Krampus rocking a Fox fork! I wasn't sure if I was seeing this correctly so I kept on scrolling and there were several more.

It had to be the Krampus but no where in the blog post was there anything mentioned about running a suspension fork on the 29" FAT bike. I immediately went to the information hole of Surly's site and read the fine print that clearly states that Surly does not recommend running a suspension fork on the Krampus due to tire clearance. Then they go on to state the frame is 120mm suspension corrected. WTF?

I'm determined to get to the bottom of the mystery pics and why did they post so many on their blog if the don't recommend it?

Since the introduction of the Krampus I've been a very curious boy and watching my friend Spencer ride his Pugsley all over the freaking place with a big smile plastered on his face it makes me want one even more. The wheels are turning my friends and this could be a bad thing. An email will be promptly sent to Surly demanding answers shortly.

My email: I'm sure you guys have already been asked this question but what's with the pics of the Krampus running a Fox fork on your blog recently? Your site clearly states running a suspension fork on the Krampus is not a good idea but then there are pics of you guys doing just that? What's the scoop, can you or not?

Greg Carr

Surly's reply: Greg, You cannot - or rather, you should not. Our party line is that there is not enough clearance to run a suspension fork with the Krampus. We are working with various fork manufacturers to see about changing this in the future. I hope that one of them will have a stock fork that will work soon.

Until then, my lawyer won't sleep at night if we tell you that it's ok with current fork models.

Eric Sovern
Surly Bikes

So were they riding prototypes? Doesn't really look like it as there was very little tire clearance. Why am I so obsessed with the Krampus? Cause I want one really bad, bad enough I'm considering selling the FROG to fund the purchase.
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

my 5 minutes of fame

Yesterday I ventured out to one of the local bookstores in hunt of a certain mountain bike mag I've never read or bought before. It's a smaller magazine that only prints quarterly and being that it's published on the farthest reaches of the west coast and costs $10 a pop not too many of us east coast hillbillies have heard much about it. The reason behind my search for this magazine was because it contained my picture, big, bold and well um beautiful, in my eyes. A friend of mine had found it and told me about it, actually gave me a funny award at a Christmas party for it but I had yet to see it so I figured I'd better go looking before it was too late.
How did I get featured in a magazine? Well I didn't really, it was a piece more about my local trails and our little club who built them. Back in spring I was contacted by one of the contributing writers by the name of Kristian who I immediately thought was a female about doing the article. Kristian said she was an editor from Freehub magazine who ironically lives in Boone NC and wanted to come down for a ride and ask a few questions. I said sure and did a quick search on Freehub and thought cool but that was about it. Fast forward a couple of weeks and some hard questioning by Melinda about this woman I was meeting for a ride I decided to Google her. Well to my surprise Kristian was a guy and not just an editor for a cool magazine but also the guy partly responsible for the new bike park, Rocky Knob in Boone.
We were scheduled to ride in June which was suffering from a pretty serious heat wave so we opted for an early ride to stay as cool as possible. When I arrived at the trailhead the temps were well past 90 and climbing. We did a brief introduction and a little history about the place and mounted up our steeds for a ride. All along the way I answered questions about the trails and our club in between deep breaths. About 2 miles from the finish I felt my energy bank bottom out completely and for the first time in a long time I found myself unable to finish the last climb out. I had to do the embarrassing hike a bike up and out. I couldn't figure out was was wrong and I sure felt stupid pushing in front of this guy who was there to do the article.
Once I finally made it back to the car waves of nauseousness started rolling in. I knew this wasn't good because Kristian was wanted to know more, ride more and take a few pics. I tried my best to rally myself and shake it off but it wasn't happening. We opted for a cool rock to snap some pics on that to my relief wasn't far from the trailhead.
I think I rode down that rock 4 or 5 times to get the perfect shot all the while trying not to blow chunks in front of the camera. Finally in my best "I promise I'm not this weak" voice I explained that I wasn't feeling too good and would have to cut it short. I felt bad but he assured me that he had what he needed and I could do some more Q&A via email.
On the way home I cranked up the AC, drank some water and prayed I would make it home without having to pull over and blow chunks on the side of the road. I did make it but pretty much crawled in bed and stayed there for the rest of the day and a good portion of the fallowing. After some self assessment and doing a bit of searching on WebMD I concluded that I was dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion.
After my sluggish performance and early exit I felt pretty bad for the club and the hard work that had been put into the trails. Our first chance at a magazine article and I might have blown it. I sent an email to Kristian explaining my sickness and gave him as much info on the trails as possible hoping for the best.
Finally yesterday I got to see the rewards, a sweet four page spread that looked awesome! I couldn't have been more proud and excited for our club and the trails. Surprisingly my picture was featured big and glossy right at the beginning. Thankfully you can't really tell I was feeling awful as I rode down the rock. 

Once I finally saw the finished product I was relieved to see it turned out great and I shot Kristian an email thanking him for doing such a great job and shining a light on our little gem.
I'll be autographing copies of the magazine, if you can find one, tonight at the group ride. I'm gonna milk this one for all it's worth, hahaha.


Monday, December 10, 2012

riding at night

It's gonna be a crappy rainy day forcing me to stay inside so I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to waste some time and blog a bit, but not too much time as Melinda left me a rather lengthy "Honey do list" before she left for work this morning.
Last week I decided that enough time had past in my "time off the bike" in order to reduce my lower back pain, that coupled with missing a few Tuesday Night rides and catching some flack about it from a certain bike shop employee for not showing up. I decided to join the guys for a ride which ironically, said bike shop employee did not show up but plenty of fast people did. My plan was to take it slow and easy, that didn't happen as I ended up being one of the slower riders of the evening. The good news was that I was able to hang with the guys and stay mostly pain free.
I've been itching to test out my new LED headlight for a couple of weeks and the weather was too perfect not to ride. How odd is it to ride at night in December in shorts and short sleeves and finish the ride with sweat pouring down your face? Thank goodness for global warming right?
I wrote a short review of my thoughts on my new light on our local forum but since Facebox killed the forum I figured sharing it again here wouldn't be too redundant.
I've written several times before about the various lights I tried out and this newest one I think is probably my favorite of them all. I will admit to you now that I was smitten by the price a couple of years back like so many were but I've also realized you get what you pay for with those lights.
I bought two Magicshine's, one for me and one for Melinda and within a year we got the dreaded recall information on the batteries. Like most we received the new ones and disposed of the old ones in the wrong way, our trash can. The new batteries worked great for about 3 or 4 rides last year but once the night riding season kicked off this fall I found out the hard way that these batteries sucked too and left us in the dark in less that an hour into our ride.
Right then I knew it was time to stop being cheap and start hunting for a new replacement light, one that I could buy local, not online from China.
The light I finally decided on was the Cygolite Expilion 700 and I will say I was VERY impressed.


I ran it at a mix of settings to see how well it performed, 400, 650 & 700 lumens. At 400 I felt comfortable riding at a good pace, at 650 & 700 I could go as fast as I wanted without worry.

Comparing this to the Magicshines the only downside I could find was the cost. I spent a measly $30 over what I paid for my last Magicshine but that doesn't include the shipping cost I paid for the MS.

The pros I found over the MS were the Cygo was smaller, lighter and all in one unit, I hate having a cord running down my back that I have to disconnect in order to take off my helmet. My MS claimed to put out around 800 lumens but obviously my Cygo was as bright or brighter at 700.

Other pros are, I bought this from my local bike shop who will take care of any warranty concerns I have if any arise. Buying a quality LED from a local shop really is a big plus for me. One cool thing I really like about this light is that I can cary a spare battery if I feel the need that is slightly bigger than a regular AA and that I can swap easily on the fly, tool free.

I recently read a review on the newest LED's on the market done my MTBR and they had a nice chart showing the claimed lumens and the actual recorded lumens they found in their test. It was not surprising to see that there were a couple lights in the test that did not actually put out the lumens they advertised. For example the Magicshine MJ-808 claimed to put out 1000 lumens but MTBR recorded only 648. Something else I've heard is that the MS puts out the most lumens per dollar but is that true if your technically only getting half the lumens the company claims?
Sadly Cygolite was not featured in the test but in my own little un-scientific test I think they are very close to the claimed output since they advertise 100 lumens less than my old MS but seem to be brighter on the trail.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

thanksgiving mischief

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone, my Christmas tree is already up, I've made a Christmas play list on iTunes and the shopping for presents has begun. What's that got to do with riding? Nothing really but I feel as if that's all that's been going on in my hood, not much riding at all.

Melinda's been off the bike due to a procedure she had a week ago and my lower back has been a mess so I'm pretty much taking this time as time to try and get all healed up and stuff. I've been plagued with back pain for a couple of months now and I'm afraid it means I'm in serious need to make some changes in my life style. It sucks yes but at least this isn't happening during the peak of the warm weather riding season.

Whether I like it or not I made the decision to put gears back on the FROG, I don't like it and I don't think it's the cause behind my pain but I realize it's definitely not good for getting better. Will I ever go back to one effing gear? I don't know right now, hopefully yes but it won't be anytime soon. Right now even riding gears hurts, basically anything that puts stress on my back hurts.

I'm officially taking the rest of this week off the bike and seeing how I feel this weekend. What I am doing is anything that doesn't bother my back. So far that's been hiking, yoga, push ups & pull ups. I can still stay in shape and get in a good workout without pain so I'm feeling positive.

Thanksgiving, my entire family made the trek into NE TN and we had a good time hanging out, eating too much and shooting guns.

 My Dad has started quite the gun collection and he brought them all in for our annual Thanksgiving turkey shoot. No turkeys were harmed in this event, no animals were harmed. There was one certain dog that almost got shot accidentally when we didn't realize he had gone into the tall grass behind the target area.

Our victims? About 4 to 5 cases of cheap, brightly colored soda and some random aging furniture we found in my brother in law's shed.

We shot all kinds of guns from .22 rifles, .38 pistols an SKS and a few other big pistols.

It took some prodding but I finally got Melinda to join us this year. She would only shoot the .22 rifle but she was pretty good at it.
 I would have hated to be one of the neighbors while this was all going down. I seriously hope we didn't ruin any Thanksgiving dinners or post turkey naps.

Oops I almost forgot, I did take Ocho on his first trail ride yesterday. I was anxious to see how well my mechanic skills are coming along when I put the gears back on the FROG so I took it and Ocho out to Warriors for a test run and some much needed puppy exercise. How did he do? Terrible, but that's to be expected, he's never seen me on a bike other than the back yard and he's only 6 months old. It was a short ride, less than 3 miles with a long swim break halfway through at the lake. As long as I stayed in front of him everything was good but put him out front and the hound in him slows down every 50 feet to see what that smell was.

Hopefully I'll have riding stories to tell after this weekend, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the longest day

As the work week rolled on last week I started taking mental notes of all the things I needed to do. Chores around the house before winter sets in, ride my bike, trail work, meetings about trails, ride my bike, etc.... The list kept getting longer and longer, my days off were suddenly seeming busier than the days I was working. Have you ever heard the term, "I have to go to work to get any rest?" I do it to myself really, there is so much to do and so much more that I want to do.
Early in the week my friend Brad shot me a text message saying he wanted to ride Friday, rides with Brad don't come often because he's always running ultra endurance races so I jumped at the chance. I already had an appointment at Bays with some flagging tape and an idea of some new trail so I told him to meet me there around 10:30, giving me plenty of time to squeeze in a ride before the flagging began.
Oh wait, that would mean me being gone all day for 5 days in a row leaving the dogs cooped up in the house. I decided I had better take them on a hike before I meet Brad to ride. I guess this means no need for a workout on Friday.
Just to add to the mayhem, Thursday night Melinda announced she wanted to do a night ride at Warriors Friday evening. Night rides with Melinda are something you definitely don't pass on. How many girls do you know that ride their bikes in the woods after the sun goes down? Very few my friend, very few.
Despite the chilly temperatures Friday morning the dogs decided it wasn't too cold to play in the creek. You gotta love dogs.
On my first ride of the day at Bays, Brad and I decided we would explore some of the outer trails of the park neither of us had been on. There are several old homesteads in the back country at Bays Mountain. Just looking at the old structures makes your mind wonder what life was like back then. What did they do for fun? There is nothing out there except trees and rocks.
Several of the old houses are still standing, some just barely and some maybe just a portion of a wall or two. Some still have insulation in the form of old newspaper glued to the walls.
There are a couple of waterfalls out there, none of which I had seen, the further out you go the more interesting the riding becomes. We didn't ride the entire trail, after a certain point we were hiking more than riding our bikes. The area has alot of potential for some great riding, it just needs a little work and TLC.
Thinking that the flagging would be a good opportunity for Ocho to get some more exercise I took him with me and left him in the truck while I rode. When I got back to change out of riding clothes and into hiking clothes I found that Ocho had needed to go and hadn't used the time I gave him wisely. He dropped the biggest, stinkiest bomb in the back of my truck, wow was it rank! I guess the puppy in him overrides his need to relieve himself and his attention gets turned to "ooh what's that bug" or "hey there's a stick". Thank goodness there wasn't much in the back of my truck and I have a removable mat that can be pulled out and hosed down.
We got a good amount of trail flagged but the terrain is hard to work with and I'll have to go back and walk it down a couple more times to make sure it doesn't turn into a switchback nightmare. I've already thought of 3 or 4 changes that need to be made.
On the way home Ocho crashed hard, I was feeling the same but I needed to get home refuel and get lights ready for ride #2.
Saturday was no different, go go go from the minute my feet hit the floor. I woke up ridiculously early, before 6am on a Saturday and rather than toss and turn I went ahead and got up and headed down to the donut shop for fuel for the day's trail work.
We had a project planned to do some much needed maintenance to one of the trails at Bays Mountain. Donuts always bring a smile to the dedicated volunteers who show up early on a Saturday morning to give back to their local trails. Without these folks none of us would be riding. Think about that the next time you have nothing going on, on a Saturday morning and instead of heading out to a trail workday, you decide to sleep in or go for a ride somewhere else.
We had a good crowd, alot of new folks who were excited about learning what it takes to build trails.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DS part 1: the ride

I'm going to do the best I can to write about our adventures at the Dirty South this year without making anyone jealous that they did not attend. Warning if you are already envious that you didn't get to go STOP reading now. We had a blast and everything was fun so reading this post will only make you angry.

We got any early start to the day Saturday to make sure we got there on time and scored a good parking place. We made it it to Knoxville in record time and I apologize to anyone who was following me if they felt like we drove too fast. I get a bit excited about singletrack fun filled days followed up with a good ole fashioned par-tay.

We had a good sized group, just large enough that our presence was known but not too small that we felt like the odd balls cause we didn't know anyone. Actually we caught up with several people we knew and a few new friends we meet at the Big South Fork camping trip back in September.

We pulled into a back corner of the camping area and laid our claim, set-up camp and basically just chilled out until the festivities began. Actually we commenced to starting the festivities as soon as we got there.

Another camping trip in the books for Ocho and he was really digging it. Normally the Knoxville events include canon fire late into the night that scares the crap out of my dogs but it didn't faze Ocho one bit. Moonshine on the other hand was shaking like a leaf. We kept them separated as best we could so that Ocho wouldn't pick up on her bad habits. So far so good.

As we were hanging out, un-packing and digging through cooler something bright and rainbow colored caught my eye. A tool box sitting on the ground between mine and Damon's cars that had some serious old school airbrush artwork all over it. The only thing it lacked was a Unicorn with star bursts popping all around it as it flew through the sky. BMX STYLIN' fer sho.

I had the GoPro set up and ready to go with full intentions of filming the ride and post ride activities but that fell through the cracks as I began suiting up. I just wasn't in the mood to fool with a camera all day. I just wanted to concentrate on the ride and having fun.

We opted for the advanced ride, not because we're advanced riders but more because it was the longest ride. It started out as a group of 60 plus so I knew it would break up quick. It was one of the better organized rides I've been on in a while with several ride leaders, sweepers and people stopping at every turn, making sure we all went the right way.

The Dirty South trail system, a group of around 4 or 5 trail systems all linked together via a couple of neighborhoods has had a few miles of trail added since the last time I rode it. Alot new, cool and fun stuff to ride climb and roll over, those kids in Knoxville know how to do it right. We would pop in and out of the woods in the weirdest of places, people's front yards, backyards, elementary schools and an old rock quarry. It is definitely a different experience than anything I'm used to.

Probably about halfway through our ride the ride leaders broke us up intentionally as we were getting pretty strung out when things pointed up hill. Our group decided to stick with the 2nd group and opt for a more relaxed pace that allowed us to take advantage of beverage stops and the scenery.

I'm not sure how the residents feel who's property the trails cross think of a bunch of lycra wearing dudes drinking beer in front of their house. Nobody seemed upset by our presence and we tried to behave ourselves and not pee on any bushes or leave any empties on the curb.

What was supposed to be the "Dirty Thirty" ended up being more like the "Dirty Twenty", a large portion of the trail system was closed due to hunting season, kind of a bummer but by the end of the ride my legs were ready to call it a day and the free Red Hoptober trailer was calling my name.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dirty South Part 2: the par-tay

Back to the story I was telling, we finished our ride, made a bee line for the New Belgium trailer which was already flowing, grabbed a Red Hoptober and headed back to camp to freshen up a bit. We didn't have any running water or anything so the closest we got to a shower was a box of baby wipes.

Baby wipes really only get you clean to a certain point, that certain sticky feeling just never really leaves but driving home and missing the post ride shindig just wasn't going to happen.

First things first we hit the food which was a pretty nice spread and did I mention, it was free! Then back to the NB trailer for a refill. Once the sun went down and the bonfires were lit the real action got underway. There was live music, not just a DJ which had been going for a while. The AMBC evidently has a few members who are in bands. There were 3 in the line up, each one a bit different from the rest.

The first band, I can't remember their name, was certainly out there, they were a 3 piece band that played 80's cover songs but with their own twist. The lead singer sounded like he was in pain but he sang with such confidence and swagger that I couldn't help but not like them. Most people around me thought they were terrible but the longer I listened to them the more I liked them. Call me weird, if you heard them, but I guess it was the artist in me that found something about them enjoyable.

The second band Stolen Sheep I'd heard before, probably one of the better bands of the night but not really anything that got people out dancing. Everyone seemed to enjoy them, good ole fashion rock is my best description.

The last band, Big Bad Oven, was probably my favorite, another 3 piece band with a saxophone, some sort of lap guitar, (I'm not familiar with) and a drum set. This band definitely got the crowd moving, dancing and even a semi mosh pit formed during one song. The energy was high and there was definitely plenty of beer flowing and with many pumpkins sitting around for decoration none were safe. I'm not sure how many got smashed but you couldn't walk within 20 foot of the stage with out stepping in pumpkin. I feel sorry for the folks who had to clean it up.

Anthony & Melinda getting down.

The hard core STC crew who refused to go to bed early or hit the road back to the Tri like some of the others.

More pumpkin smashing and dancing.

Late into the night a small rain storm crept in unannounced and sent everyone running for cover. Most of the STC crew headed back for cover at camp but once we got there we realized the one EZ-UP in the bunch was being used to keep Todd & Tracy's truck bed, sleeping arrangements dry. We all squeezed in around the edges hoping it wouldn't last long. Todd realized Tracy hadn't come back yet so he conned me into going with him to look for her. What we found were her, Damon & Steve under a nice awning provided by the local taco truck eating giant burritos. We decided this was a much better option so we gave a shout to the rest of the crew and waited out the storm eating burritos the size of a small child.

Some pumpkin bowling

One of the local bike shops, TVB or Tennessee Valley Bicycles, provided a free breakfast for those who camped. Cowboy coffee and mimosas were on tap, the cowboy coffee took a bit getting used to. The first few sips were a bit crunchy but after I got past that part it was pretty good.

The carnage

Probably one of the best nights I've had in a long time, I'm definitely putting it on my calendar for next year.