Monday, March 22, 2010

scheduling conflicts

The more I look at my Night Owl vs Tsali pros & cons list the more I think it's going to be the Night Owl that ends up winning. I still would rather do the 12 Hours of Tsali but the Night Owl is new, local, and probably going to be alot cheaper no matter which way you look at it. Supporting the local small events are a good thing and it will probably end up being more fun than I'm anticipating.
The BURN 24 Hour Challenge just so happens to fall the very next weekend with our local mtn bike club camping trip coming just after that. Too many events falling back to back like this makes it difficult to fit them all in. Most of the summer months look to be wide open. Why is that? Three events in a row will be too much for Melinda and I. I don't think asking her to go to back to back race events are fair of me.

Recently I've noticed more and more underground events taking place. Both of the bike mags I subscribe to did articles about them. My good friend Alan put on 2 last year. No entry fee, no big prizes just good ole clean fun. This underground event organization sounds kind of appealing. I would rather participate in it but putting one on could be fun too. I hope to see the return of the Dead Possum this year as I've heard the Possum Creek ride is once again cancelled or changed or something.
Last year about this time I was looking at a pretty uneventful race season and it turned out to be one of the best I've had yet, maybe this year will end up the same who knows.
The 6 Hours of Warriors creek is just around the corner and I'm trying to prepare myself as much as possible with out over preparing myself if that's possible. Between work and bad weather I'm currently not where I thought I would be fitness wise. My lower back has been bothering me some from riding so hard last week and I hope that it quits complaining before race weekend. My goal of 4 laps minimum could be very hard to achieve with a screaming lower back.

Maybe I should get off the computer and do some yoga.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

monkey gots new shoes

I've neglected the monkey for some time. A couple of years ago I decided I needed to add a mountain bike to the stable that actually had gears due to a back injury. Enter the Salsa Mamasita, the past couple of upgrades have been in her direction and before I knew it the Mamasita became the lightest mountain bike in the bike room. Light bike that pedals up the mountain easier, sadly it became the bike I grabbed on a regular basis. The longer I rode it the more I passed by the monkey.
This year I've decided the monkey is due for a facelift. I needed to return it to it's old badass self. First upgrade was a new fancy Reba upfront. Yeah you can say I'm getting soft if you want but while the squish makes it easier to make my way through rock gardens it also allows me to go faster through rock gardens and downhill and that's what it's all about right?
Secondly I upgraded the cockpit, well actually just the handlebar is new. I added some Easton carbon to the mix. A new stem and grips are on the list.

Last but definitely not least was a pair of new shoes. The monkey has been running the same old worn out wheels since day one. A set of Salsa Delgados with XT hubs. Good wheels but they were ready for retirement. After upgrading the mamasita to tubeless I've really been wanting to do the same with the monkey. Melinda decided one a day a couple of weeks ago that since my birthday was just around the corner it was a good time to go ahead and purchase that set of C29SSMAX wheels I've been eyeing for sometime. Yeah tubeless! Since I had tubeless wheels I had to go out and pick up a set of tubeless tires right? I found out that there are not a whole lot of options out there in the way of 29" tubeless tires. I tried the ghetto version of tubeless but I'll save that for another blog post. I've had good luck with the Bontrager Jones ACX so why not.

I've actually had the wheelset for a couple of weeks but Melinda said I couldn't use them till April 1st. I think she finally grew tired of seeing the clutter of an extra set of tires and wheels sitting in the bike room floor so Tuesday evening she gave me the green light to go ahead and put them on. Now the bike room floor is all neat and tidy.
One last thing, last year I bought a new set of pink bottle cages in an effort to give the monkey a new look without really spending any $$$ but I finally realized the pink cages just weren't doing it any favors. They just stuck out like a sore thumb so off they came and into the parts bin they went. The monkey just looks better dressed up in all black.

The Man in Black would be proud.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tis the season

No I'm not talking about the jolly old fat man and a stocking full of presents. I'm talking about that time of year when everything turns green and the winter kits get pushed to the back of your pile. I'm talking about not only meeting your friends at the trailhead with your bike but bringing along a camping grill and a few cold beverages for a post ride grill session in the parking lot.

It's that time of year when you dust of the fenders of your cruiser, swing your leg over the low slung saddle and reach up high for the ape hanger bars and cruise around town.

All winter long I think about races, when where and how I can work them into my schedule without wasting all of my vacation days over the course of 3 months. How many camping trips can we get in this year? I think it time to de-winterize the ECO.

I know most of you who choose to read this blog know we ride all year round but the spring and summer are different. We go from fighting frigid temps and stinging finger tips to all day rides in the sun and hitting the local Mexican joint on the way back home for a round of tacos and a Dos Equis.

Melinda and I have already begun filling our calendar with potential trips, rides and races. Can we get them all in and still manage to get to work on time?

Yeah bring on summer! I'm ready for funky tan lines, riding on sore legs day after day and sweating under the heat of my grill while my cycling buddies raid the cooler on my deck.

Is this my favorite time of the year? Why yes it is.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

12 Hours of Tsali vs. The Night Owl

May 22nd is the date, there are two races to choose from. The 12 Hours of Tsali put on by the folks from Gone Riding. The other is a new race on the horizon called the Night Owl held on the trails of Hungry Mother State Park just an hour or so up the road from me. Both I'm sure are races I would like to attend. The 12 Hours of Tsali was already penciled in on my schedule. Now all I need to do is figure out if I need to erase it and write in the Night Owl.
Whenever I find myself in a situation like this I like to make a list of pros & cons to help me decide.

Pros: Tsali

1. It's a fun course to ride, & a great trail system.
2. It's a 12 hour race in which I really wanted to push myself to see how far I could go.
3. I really enjoy the camping and the other trails there are to ride before and after the race.
4. It's the only 12 hour race I have on my schedule.
5. Although I don't agree with the promoters fees and lack of swag, it makes for really good blog material.
6. You can drink beer and play music past 10pm.
7. The majority of this race is during the daylight hours.

Cons: Tsali

1. It's a further drive which is more expensive to travel to.
2. The race fee will be higher & the swag is skimpy.
3. The spaghetti is watered down.
4. Alot of my friends are leaning toward the Night Owl.
5. The crappers in the pits smell terrible in the summer.
6. Alot of racers who think they are better than everyone else show up for this event.
7. No free beer

Pros: The Night Owl

1. It's closer so the travel expenses will be lower.
2. It appears to be the race a majority of my friends will be attending.
3. It's a local promoter not some cat from Florida.
4. The race fee will probably be alot cheaper.
5. First year for this event so it will probably be a small turnout which about half of the participants will be my friends.

Cons: The Night Owl

1. The race is a night race only. (I haven't decided if this should be a pro yet)
2. The race will be alot shorter.
3. The course reminds be of the Bays Mountain race course minus the ruts.
4. The venue is held in a VA. State Park which I have had bad experiences in under certain situations. We mountain bikers just like to have a little fun after the ride.
5. No free beer

I guess I really don't have to make my decision yet so I'll probably continue to add to my lists as pros & cons come to mind.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ray's Indoor Mtb Bike Park

As promised a little insight on my trip to Ray's, for those of you who may be reading this and are wondering what the heck is Ray's? Ray is some guy who decided to take an old abandoned factory and turn it into an indoor mountain bike park. There are not very many trails to choose from in that part of Ohio at least not that I can find and the winters up there are cold with lot's of snow covering the ground for much of the winter. Ray's is a blessing for the bike lovers of northern Ohio and a real treat for visitors like me. I was quite impressed with what I saw and rode. Would I trade some of our singletrack for an indoor park? No, but I might trade a few miles of rutted out fireroads.

I had a feeling arriving as early as possible was going to be my best option since it was a Saturday and being my first time I would have a bit of a learning curve. We arrived at 10am just an hour after they opened, next time I'll get there at 9. There wasn't much of a crowd but riding on raised platforms made of wood with a concrete floor below takes some time to adjust to especially with no trailmap and four or five lines to choose from at every turn. I found myself making wrong turns and bad choices here and there for about the first hour but I managed to stay upright.
It's a bit intimidating at first but once I learned which obstacles to steer clear of and which way was the best route of choice I had an absolute blast. It would have been fun to have a few friends to ride with or my partner in crime Melinda but the call of new shopping centers and malls with fancy stores proved to be too strong and after an hour of watching from the sidelines her and my Mom decided it was time for them to move on leaving my Dad to watch alone. I have to say thanks to my Dad who waited patiently for a couple of hours while I enjoyed myself.

Ray's has a little bit of everything for everyone, well except for the ultimate beginners. There was a beginner room but it proved to be a bit much for some and even I had a bit of trouble navigating everything. The place was broken up in to several categories, skills areas for all levels, XC style riding, a BMX room, half pipes, bowls, a pump track and a dirt jump section but it was closed for some reason.

I knew going into this that my 29er might not be the best bike for the job but it would have to do. If it were up to me I would have at least on one of everything but space and limited funds say no. The bikes I saw the most of were bmx and 26" hardtails. The Mamasita performed great on the XC stuff and the trials course but the pumptrack was a bit tight. It didn't help that I had never ridden a pump track before either.

As far as the bowls and half pipes I chose to just watch from the sidelines rather than get in anyone's way. I had plenty to ride and could have gone back another day. Next time I'll probably just rent a bike and save my tires for the dirt.

I should have the video finished by tomorrow, I can't give it all away in one day. I don't want to be one of those deadbeat bloggers who get's fired up about once every three months and rambles aimlessly for 2 pages about what they've been doing for the past few months.
Who wants to read that?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I apologize for no Ray's footage today, no pics and no stories. I keep forgetting to take the camera out of Melinda's purse before she leaves for work and I won't have time to finish editing the video footage before I roll out the door today. I'm headed to Panther Creek for a bit of daytrip action. I gotta get all the singletrack riding I can in before the rain begins to fall tomorrow.
I just hope I can keep up with Alan and AC today as I've spent more time in the saddle the past 2 days than I did the past 2 months. I woke up this morning sore and sluggish but I've got the coffee pot rocking and the Hero cam's batteries charged.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

lottery ticket salvation

This past weekend Melinda the dogs & I made a much over due trip to Ohio to see my folks. I feel bad for not visiting more often but with grand kids nearby it seems they are coming down south everytime I turn around.
Early Friday morning we loaded up the car and managed 5 stops before finally leaving town, (gas, groceries, 2 stops for breakfast & 1 for a book on CD). Once underway we managed to stay on the road until the first tank of gas ran out. I never thought I would be happy to see the needle reach "E" as I could no longer hold in all the coffee I drank. We pulled into some random gas station in West VA and I let the dogs out to do their business. As I walked the dogs around I was paying close attention to Moonshine's neck full of staples and not where I was walking. Little did I know that the area we chose to let the dogs use the bathroom was quite popular for others traveling with dogs. Unfortunately there was dog poo everywhere and somehow I managed not to see any of it. I loaded the dogs back up, jumped in the car and pulled up to the pumps. As I drove the 50 ft or so across the parking lot I noticed an usually awful smell. It wasn't until I got out of the car that I realized it was coming from the bottom of my shoe. It seems I must have stepped in a huge pile of dog poop. In all reality I'm used to this at home where I can wash it off easily with our garden hose but with no garden hoses available I was in quite a predicament.
I went on a search for some sort of outdoor water source to remedy the situation and found 2 faucets, the 1st one appeared to be frozen and the 2nd one had a broken handle. With no other options I went into the gas station bathroom and attempted to use the sink. I know this is gross and unsanitary but it was my only option. You see I was wearing trail running shoes with aggressive lugs on the sole with all kinds of trail grabbing crevices that are excellent for keeping you upright on the trail but also excellent for dog poop to get into creating quite a mess. Dragging my shoe through the grass only made things worse. I have realized that high pressure water is the only way to solve this problem.
Upon entering the bathroom I knew I was going to ruin the sink and I said a short prayer that I would not get caught cleaning dog poop off my shoe in a sink used my humans to clean their hands. I cranked up the water full blast and got nothing but a measly stream of water that almost made me cry. I tried my best to wash away the poop but wasn't having much luck. I looked around for some paper towels to aid in my efforts but this gas station had decided to be environmentally friendly and go with a hand dryer. I put my wet dog poop covered shoe back on a walked into the nearest stall to get some toilet paper. The toilet paper of course was the cheapest available and wasn't much help either. I repeated this process several times, wash in the sink, wipe with toilet paper. I realized after the first trip across the bathroom floor that I had left a trail of brown water on the floor. Not wanting to make an even bigger disaster than I had already created I resolved to hopping on one foot back and forth from the stall to the sink. I was getting no where with my process when the bathroom door opened and in walked an EMT. Luckily I was in the stall and not the sink but I had the door open so I was caught red handed with my dog poop shoe in one hand and a wad of brown toilet paper in the other. I just knew at any minute the guy was going to realize what I was doing and unleash a slew of obscenities in my direction. Nothing was said even as he washed his hands in the sink. I thought I was in the clear as he made his way to the door but turned to me at the last second and looked at the shoe in my hand. Hear it comes I thought. To my surprise he did not accuse me of destroying the bathroom but instead he started asking me about my shoes. Apparently he thought they were cool, never mentioning the mess I had created.
After a couple more hopping trips from the sink to the stall I spied my saviour out of the corner of my eye. I was having no luck getting the poo from out of all the tiny little crevices in the sole and I wasn't about to use my fingernail. Someone had left an unlucky scratch lottery ticket wedged in between the toilet paper dispenser and the wall. What was unlucky for one man turned out to be my jackpot. I was able to use the corners of the ticket to get all the tiny little crevices of my shoe clean. One more quick wash in the sink and I threw on my wet shoe and got out of there before anyone else decided to come into the hell on earth I had created in that bathroom. Normally I think lottery tickets are bad and I never buy them but now I have a different outlook on them. I will no longer accuse the state of convincing people to cough up their hard earned money on the ridiculous chance that one day they will become a millionaire.
When I finally got to the car Melinda said she was about to come in searching for me thinking I had been abducted by some burly trucker.
We did finally make it to Ohio and I did get to ride Ray's Indoor Mtn Bike Park which was awesome. I shot alot of footage with the Hero cam and Melinda snapped some photos but I'll save that for tomorrows post, sorry. There is still alot of editing I need to do before I post my video so stay tuned all week.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

a healthier new me

In the past few months I've really made an extra effort to eat healthier, lose weight and concentrate more on an overall fitness. Last month I stripped my diet of sweets for Lent. This month I upped it a notch. I have officially given up all types of alcohol for 30 days. Will I make it? I think so, I've never really had much of an addictive personality. Giving up sweets has actually been harder on me than the alcohol. Unfortunately I do have several good beer stored in the fridge including a Rogue Double Dead Guy that I was awarded with for my winning essay I wrote a couple weeks ago.

Speaking of that essay, I found it funny the amount of comments I received from people inquiring about how much of it really happened and did I really have a wild enough dream that threw me out of bed. Thanks to all those who took the time to read my submission and an extra special thanks to those of you who voted for me. I'll make sure there is something a little extra in your stocking this year.
Next week should be a complete turn around in weather and the amount of time I spend on my bike in the woods. Luckily the local college's spring breaks are the same week as my 7 days off. A couple of day trips are already in the works. Got any sick days?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the hippie grocery & 29" chocolate donuts

I had this weekend off and with no precipitation in the forecast I was hoping to sneak in a ride. Melinda had a birthday earlier in the week and her Mom was coming in town so I had a feeling our weekend might be a bit busier than normal so sneaking in a ride was going to be tough but I was thinking optimistic. Friday morning I came off of night shift went home and tried to get as much sleep as possible before my 9:00 dentist visit to get a cavity filled. What a great way to start the weekend.
With the cold temps, high winds, and a lack of sleep I just couldn't get in the mood to get out and ride. After I got back from the dentist I hit the sack in an attempt to get some rest but it wasn't happening. My mother in law was due in town at anytime and with my lack of sleep I settled for an hour of P90X in the living room.
Saturday I could tell my day was going to be exciting. Shopping for diet books, and diet food with 3 women was the only thing on my agenda. I was just thankful I wasn't stuck standing outside the women's dept. dressing room while the ladies tried on everything in sight. I decided to load up my bike for the trip just in case a window of opportunity presented itself and as we neared Johnson City a plan slowly began forming in my head. One of our stops included the Earth Fair Grocery Store, an all natural, organic, hippie grocery with ridiculously over priced food. Don't get me wrong the place it great and it makes me hungry just thinking about their deli but the prices keep me from voluntarily stepping foot inside. I decided instead of torturing myself watching our grocery cart fill up with $5 boxes of crackers I would head over to the local singletrack @ ETSU for a short ride.
As I pulled into the parking lot I remembered how this particular set of trails sometimes takes longer to dry than any other trail system in the Tri-Cities but this was my window of opportunity and I could not pass it up. I suited up, adjusted the psi in my tires for slick conditions and pedaled my way toward the tree line. Three tenths of a mile in I knew it wasn't going to work. My 2.1 tires looked liked giant chocolate covered donuts and rather than do damage to the trail and my bike I turned around and headed back to the truck. As I drove to the hippie grocery I hoped for another chance on Sunday to get some riding in, this time I would choose a much drier destination, Bays Mountain. We did manage to make it through the hippie grocery with a decent bill, the only item I picked out, some organic coffee beans, turned out to be the most expensive thing in our buggy.
Sunday I got the okay to take off and hit the trails at Bays Mountain. As luck would have it the singletrack was in excellent shape. My start was a bit chilly with temps in the mid 30's but a good long climb to the firetower got me toasty warm. All was not lost and I considered the weekend a success. I managed to get out and enjoy the singletrack while the ladies hit the clothing stores.

Monday, March 1, 2010

going to Ray's

It's March and I have a feeling goods things are gonna happen. The weather forecast for the weekend is supposed to be high in the 50's and sunny. Melinda and I are actually heading north with our bikes for colder temps and snow. While we won't see much in the way of dirt will will be riding the man made obstacles @ Ray's Indoor Mtn Bike Park!

I'm not sure what to expect but I'm sure it will be fun even if I'm no good on a pump track. I curious how well a 29er will do. Never fear I totally plan to get plenty of Hero cam footage for your viewing pleasure.