Thursday, October 28, 2010

getting scary

The day is drawing near and I'm starting to feel the excitement. I've checked almost everything twice some things three times and I'm sure that I will check them again before Melinda starts checking them. I've been so obsessive about getting ready this week I changed a pair of brake pads yesterday that really didn't need changing. I almost changed another set just because they sometimes get noisy but ran out of time.

I've charged all the batteries we have in the house, batteries for the the Hero cam, batteries for almost every light for night riding we own. I'll probably only need one but I've got four on hand just in case. Can you say OCD?

I mounted up Frank to the AIR9 yesterday in an effort to scare the competition a bit, it seemed to work last year. It could've been the rain but I'll give all the props to Frank and his ugly face.

I was hoping to have 2 Hero cams running for the race but it looks as if Alan will be finally putting his to good use filming some CX. This will be the first race I've ever shot footage for and I hope everything turns out as planned.

So far the weather forecast for the weekend has not changed, sunny skies and warm temps, let's hope it stays that way.

If your not heading down to the Hill of Truth race this weekend make plans to head over to Bays Mountain Friday night. The nice folks who run the park have allowed mountain bikes to stay a few hours later than usual and sneak in a night ride. Sadly I will miss this opportunity but maybe they will have a good showing and see a good opportunity.

Dogs wearing glow necklaces & a roaring campfire, now that's how we roll. See you Friday night!

Monday, October 25, 2010

stem swap and the GRT line-up

Today I spent most of the day mentally preparing myself for this weekends race. After this weekend there won't be much to look forward to in the way of racing as winter slowly approaches that is if it comes around this year. I really could care less, I dig the warm temps and would be fine with 2 seasons a year, Spring and Summer.

A few days ago we hit up Bent Creek for a little singletrack action and I decided to take Vana White in favor of her squishiness. I wanted to see how it felt bombing down some of the faster downhills like Green's Lick. I did feel a bit more brave and sailed over a few jumps here and there but for the most part I'll probably never be a big hucker. This is one of the reasons I chose the JET9 over the RIP9, it's just a bit more my style. While at Bent Creek I noticed my rear derailleur acting up a bit but not enough to ruin my day. I was able to use my limited mech. skills to keep things rolling but I knew it needed a professionals touch.
Instead of screwing things up myself again I gave Alan a shout and headed his way to get things straightened out once and for all. For a 6 pack of frosty goodness he got things rolling right for me and now Vana will be ready if called upon this weekend.

For a while now I've been running a bit shorter stem on the Jet9 because it was all I had and it worked well for me but I scored a new stem off of Alan that suits my needs much better and looks good too. I put the new stem on the Air9 since it was white and I was quite pleased with the look.

The Race Face that came off the Air9 was moved over to Vana which looks and feels much better than the Easton that was on it.

Next up on the agenda for Vana, a new crank set, but that will probably be a while.

As of right now the weather forecast for this weekend is sunny with temps of high in the upper 60's to lower 70's and I couldn't be more pleased. Perfect weather for racing, camping and all around good times at Haw Ridge. The Hill of Truth race has been in the past some what of a festival surrounding the race. There are all kinds of shenanigans going on in the woods and in the campground. Last year that was not the case, the skies opened up and Mother Nature had her way with us all day Saturday turning the trails, us and our bikes into a muddy mess.

GRT racing did not let that get us down, we raced through the mud, the blood and the beer and came out victorious in the end.

Yes it was nice to win 1st place for a change but I will gladly give that up to the sandbaggers who dominate the sport class every year for sunny skies and dry trails. I've never been in it for the prize money, I just enjoy the atmosphere and the excitement of racing with and against friends. There is nothing like hauling ass through the woods, seeing old friends camped out along side of the course with a mountain of empties stacked up on the hill behind them and stopping for a brief moment to partake in the festivities before jumping back on the bike.
It's looking like we might have a bigger and rowdier crew with us this year so staying focused during the race may be tough to do especially when the sun goes down and the bonfire is lit.

Now for the most important section of today's blog.
The GRT Racing crew for
The 12th Annual 12 Hours of the Hill of Truth.

Anthony Duncan aka "Fat Tony"

Andy "I"ll punch you in your freakin' face!" Mullins
Brad "I'm a badass" Reed aka "B-Rad"
and of course me
See you this weekend suckers!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

a hike on the trails, a swim in the lake and a busted up shin

Friday afternoon I was running around trying to get all my errands done before work and still get in a short hike with the dogs to burn some of their energy. Needless to say the day got away from me and I ended up having a lot less time to hike than originally planned. I knew if I didn't get them out of the house even for just a short hike they might tear down the place and I might not get any sleep the next morning coming off of nightshift.
I decided in an effort to get the most out of our hike we would hit the closet trail to the house, a trail I'm really not fond of due to it's off camber sections and little to no access to water even though the trail runs parallel to the lake along most of the hike. That side of the lake is really rocky and there is almost no shoreline. It's been a while since we've hiked this trail and Friday reminded me just why that is. The trail to begin with is poorly constructed but if you hike all the way to the end will take you to a beach area great for dog swimming. The problem was we didn't have time to hike all the way to the beach, but some hiking was better than none.
The entire hike Moonshine was constantly looking for a place to go for a swim and eventually she did. She's a pretty agile dog and has scaled some hillsides that have made me wonder if there are goats somewhere in her family tree. Jackson on the other hand is as clumsy as it gets, I really have to keep an eye on him sometimes or he can really get himself hurt.
As we were heading back to the car Jackson followed Moonshine down to the water as she continued to search for a good hole to jump in. I don't think he had any intention of getting in but as approached the water he stepped on a slick rock and in he went. I didn't see it happen but I did hear the splash. Not really much of a swimmer he flopped around in the water with was filled with large rocks trying to get out. His only exit point was a large slap of slick rock too steep and slick for him to climb up. Every time he tried to scale it he would make it about a third of the way up and then slide back into the water below. I tried reaching him from the rock but he was too far away from me. I also tried to coax him to walk up the shore but the rocks were so big and jagged he refused to move after a couple of failed attempts to walk left him falling down. I took a chance and climbed down the rock after I found a small ledge to step on but the rock was too steep and slick for me to drag Jackson's 100 lbs up. In an effort to find another route I slipped and stepped in the water soaking my right foot. Irritated I climbed back out and tried again to get him to walk down the shore but he still refused. After a couple more times of him trying to climb the rock and falling in the water I climbed back down to try and calm him down before he hurt himself.
While I was trying to help Jackson, Moonshine had found an old frisbee and brought it to me tossing it around in my face as I was trying to soothe Jackson. At the time it was really annoying but looking back on it now it was funny that all she cared about was playing when Jackson was all to hell and having a nervous breakdown. I knew once I got him home he would be reminding us of his traumatic experience for a while.
After another failed attempt of trying to get Jackson back up the rock I decided to climb back up and look for another option. As I turned around on the rock my foot slipped again but instead of land on my feet in the water I fell down the rock and landed on my back completely soaking myself and smashing my shin, hip & shoulder into the rocks below. If anyone would have seen us they would really have been entertained.
Completely soaked I climbed back out check myself for cuts and bruises and found only minor scrapes. At this point I was starting to stress as I was close to running late for work and it was looking like my only option was to go back down to the water, get in and force Jackson to swim around to the better exit area. Not really wanting to go that route I tried one final time to get him to make the trek by himself. Instead he made one more attempt to scale the rock but this time he managed to get halfway up and not slide down. I ran over to him and was able to grab his collar and drag him the rest of the way up and out of the water.
Later that evening what I thought were just minor scrapes and bruises turned into some really good sized lumps and a nice dark red bruise on my hip about the size of a golfball.
The next time I'm running short on time and the dogs are in need of some exercise I think we'll stick to a walk around the neighborhood on the leash.

Friday, October 22, 2010

too much to do

Too much to do around the house today to write anything for ya so here's a sweet video for your viewing pleasure.

ps. Alan told me today he might come down to the HOT.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

mother nature, please don't let me down

With less than 2 weeks away I think I'm ready, well as ready as I'll ever be since I really don't train. The 12 Hours of the Hill of Truth is just around the corner and I'm pretty excited. Andy, Anthony and I, 3/4 of GRT Racing scoped out this year's race course last Sunday and it looks like it should be a fun fast course with the exception of the dreaded Hill of Truth climb. It wouldn't be the same race with out it so I'm not gonna suggest they remove it from any future courses. It's a nasty loose climb that gets steeper as you go, it's an energy sucker that will leave your heart racing and your legs burning. Every year I hope to clean the climb at least once but as loose as it is especially on the steepest section near the end I don't see it happening. I know deep down I could clean it if the dirt was free of debris and hard packed but hey this is mountain biking. I'm not really sure it's faster to ride it vs walking it but it would be nice to say I did it. I feel pretty strong right now. I'm not as lean as I would like to be but I don't feel over weight either, I just feel, well normal. Too many post ride stops at Papas & Beer or the Mellow Mushroom is part of that problem but hey what a better way to end a good long ride.

I spent a good portion of the day yesterday washing the ECO in preparation for the HOT only to see it get rained on last night. It never fails every time I wash one of our vehicles it rains, I hope I didn't just jinx our weather for next week, we really need a dry year this year. I really don't want to race in the mud again, even if it keeps all the sandbaggers home and out of the Sport category.

So I've got three rides on the new Jet9, I'm tempted to call it, or her Vana since that's the official color of the frame but I'm not sure just yet. Anyway with three rides on the Jet9 I've yet to drop the chain running it as a 1x9. Normally I run the N-Gear Jump Stop chain guide which is simple, cheap and works very well but the rear shox mount design will not allow it. So I'm looking into other options like some of the more fancier chain guide systems out there that mount within the bottom bracket and also incorporate a half moon style bash guard to save a bit of weight. They're a bit more on the pricey side but they look cool and do double duty with chain protection and weight savings. The Jet9 currently weighs in at 27lbs., just barely and I would like to keep it that way. I wish I could post some pics as examples but blogger says no image uploads till 5pm due to maintenance, sheesh.

Two rides are on tap for tomorrow, I didn't mean to schedule two rides in one day but hey it happens. The first one is a Creeper run with some co-workers and then a night ride @ Warriors if I get some takers. I'm really trying to make the night ride a weekly thing and draw a big crowd but it's been slow going so far. We had 4 riders show last week which isn't bad but no bites yet this week. After this weekend I'm taking some time off the bike until next Saturday in an effort to have fresh legs for the race. I was toying with the idea of racing the Fall Fear held at Hungry Mother State Park just up the road a bit but working nights this weekend would make it tough both racing and working on little or no sleep. I think I will skip this one yet again and hope for a free weekend again next year.

The Hero cam will be in full effect this year at the HOT as long as the weather holds out. I've yet to film a race and I've had good intentions before but fell short due to crappy weather or crazy head feeling due to allergies. Seeing dead people really makes filming and riding difficult. I've got a bunch of good ideas for this year's race and if they turn out well it will make those of you who skipped this year's race wish you hadn't.

Monday, October 18, 2010

vana white and big wheels

Today I finally got around to snapping a few pics of the new Jet9. I have to say I'm quite pleased with it. It's still a bit of a work in progress as I continue to dial it in but I think I'm really gonna like it. I did two rides at Warriors last week in an attempt to get all the bugs worked out before I took it out on any road trips.

I have to admit the Jet is one pretty bike. Originally I was supposed to get a Kermit Green one, that was the color that was being discounted but some where along the line there was a screw up and there were no Kermit Green frames in my size so they offered me the Vana White for the same price. If I had my pick of any color it would have been the white so it was a double score for me.
Once I finished the build I picked it up expecting it to weigh a ton but I was pleasantly surprised at how light it felt for a full squish 29er. I though it would be at least 30 lbs but I weighed it today on the bathroom scale with pedals and it showed 27 lbs. Not bad I thought, especially since there are several components that could stand to be upgraded.
Sunday a few peeps and I headed down to Knoxville for a pre-ride of this years HOT course. Really the course was nothing new, I've ridden just about every trail Haw Ridge has to offer and the course is fairly similar to some of the previous courses we've raced in the past. Any excuse to get out of town and ride something differnt is a good excuse in my book and the weather couldn't have been any better. I took the Jet along for this ride curious to see how it would feel in case I decided to race it on a lap or two a couple of weeks from now. It definitely made the big rocks and roots seem much smaller on Soccer, one of the more technical sections of this years course. I'll probably rock the Air9 for most of the race but the Jet9 might see some action later in the day, I have a feeling it will turn some decent laps times if called into action.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

pedal damn it!

Remember a couple of weeks back when I was doing a bit of whining about wanting a too many bikes and I couldn't make up my mind on what to do. Yeah I've had the itch for a full suspension 29er for a while now. I know I said a couple of years ago I would save a full suspension for when I get too old to ride anything else. Well I'm not too old or even anywhere close so I guess I'll have to eat those words now. As I pondered on a few different models and brands I did some price checking at my local bike shop and a couple of days later I was at home watching TV with Mel when her cell phone rang. The caller on the other end had a special message for me. There was a closeout special on the Niner JET 9's at a price I could not say no too. I knew this was one of those times when I had to give an answer right then and there because it wouldn't be around the next day. This is what helped me make my decision.
A week and a half later a 2010 "Vana White" JET 9 was in my hands. The only downside to this purchase was the demise of the Karate Monkey. In order to go ahead with the build up I had to strip the Monkey down and use what non singlespeed parts it had. The next part was one of the toughest things I've had to do in a while, sell the Karate Monkey. It's something that's been on my mind for some time and while the KM and I have spent alot of time together some good some bad I will shed a tear when I hand it over to it's new owner. I did sell it to a certain Local Cult Hero who I have no doubt will build it back up into something great and show it the love it deserves. When I told Melinda I sold the KM she was actually disappointed in me, how many of you can say that about your wife? I feel I made the right decision and if I decide to build another singlespeed in the future it will be another steel 29er for sure.
Back to the new ride, I pondered on whether I should go big and get the RIP 9 with more travel but after some thought I figured the lighter less travel version was more my style. I've had the JET 9 in my position for almost a week now and last night was my first actual trail ride on it. The picture at the top is the only actual photo I've taken of it yet. Why? I've been so busy with work I've barely had time to put it together and last nights ride showed just how that can effect a proper build. I really only had time to do a little here and a little there. This build was my first ever complete build of a geared bike with no help what so ever. I may have to enlist the help of a real mechanic later this week if I can't get the bugs worked out.
The first ride aboard any bike always tends to be riddled with multiple stops making small changes and making notes of bigger ones that will need to be done at home. I realized yesterday while suiting up at the trailhead that I had left my multi tool at home so if any problems were to arise I would be walking out. One problem showed up right off the bat. During one of the many test/adjustment laps in the yard I had forgotten to retighten the rear shifter pod so through out the entire ride it moved and bounced around everytime I shifted gears or ran over something in the trail. Basically it rattled around the whole time like a bag full of empty cans on the way to the recycle bin. Next I realized my seat was too low and too far forward, I think this is what contributed to my lower back pain through the whole ride. During the ride I passed two guys who both were riding with they're seats too low, much lower than mine. It's funny how much a thing so small can make such a huge difference in the way you feel on the bike. About 4.5 miles into the ride my right crank arm began to loosen up. Eventually it go so bad that I had to cut the ride short and push it out. The crank arm wasn't a problem on the Monkey so I must have added too many spacers or something. I've yet to research this problem.
The first ride aboard a new bike can be kinda irritating but I try not to let it influence my opinion of the bike because it was all my fault. Even though I was riding an ill fitting bike that was rattling with every bump in the trail I was pleased with the way it smoothed out all the rough stuff. I played around with the Pro Pedal on the rear shox but with it turned off the bike still climbed better than I expected. The only thing I've found that I don't like is that it's hard to flip the Pro Pedal switch during the ride because it's hidden behind the water bottle mount. I'm not sure how much I'll actually be switching it back and forth but I may end up removing the bottle mount in favor of a CamelBak.
I'm off all this week so I plan to really spend some quality time with the JET dialing it in and figuring it out. Hopefully I'll get around to snapping a few pics tomorrow but who knows, my day is going to be very busy preparing for the NTMBA Poker Ride.
If you don't have plans for your Saturday afternoon yet go ahead and load up your bike and the kids and head over to Warriors Path Mountain Bike trails for the 1st Annual NTMBA Poker Ride fundraiser. All the proceeds go back to the trails which you and I know don't build themselves.
Check out the website here for more info and details.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What a great day it was on Sunday, the weather was beautiful, the trails were in perfect condition and I was with Melinda and a great group of peeps riding @ Dupont State Forest. Thanks to Richard H. who decided he wanted to get in a good ride for his birthday, I was more than happy to assist him in his B-day wish.

I really don't have alot of great pics to share from the ride as I've posted so many over the last couple of years. I spent the day just enjoying the scenery and the ride rather than fiddling with a camera. There were 3, yes 3, action cams filming during the ride and not a single one of them was mine. I did get mine back in time to take it on the trip but I opted to leave it at home. I am looking forward to seeing other people's version of the sweet singletrack Dupont has to offer. You know who you are and there is no sense in wasting time and money on a camera if your not going to share the footage with the rest of us. Let's see it!
I wasn't sure how big the turn out was going to be yesterday but I was really surprised at the rather large group we had. I think there were around 15 or 16 riders and about half of them were sporting the new NTMBA kits.
Coming up this weekend, the 1st annual NTMBA Poker Ride on Sat Oct 16th. Come out enjoy the ride & free food, all the proceeds go to a good cause. Building sweet singletrack trails, raise your hand if you think we don't need anymore trails.
I didn't think so, the more the better!
Sunday the plan is to head over to Knoxville for a little Haw Ridge action. Hopefully the organizers of the HOT will have the race course posted up so we can do a little pre-ride action.

Monday, October 4, 2010

changes are a coming

Some big changes going on around here but unfortunately it's too early to say anything. I've had trouble in the past with big changes in my life but I think this one will be a good one, hopefully I won't regret it. If your wondering I didn't quit my job, I'm not going back to school and we're not moving, I'm talking about bike changes. As of right now, if things don't work out I can always go back to the way they were. I did make the Local Cult Hero an offer on a straight up trade that could change that but he's yet to acknowledge me. I'll talk more on the move I made when things are more permanent.

I attended another MSG cyclocross race this weekend but only for a few minutes. Seeing the races has really made me want to throw my hat back into the ring. My first experience with cyclocross was aboard my old Surly 1x1 singlespeed mountain bike. It really wasn't the best weapon to choose especially since I was racing folks with gears. I'd do my passing on the climbs and techy sections and get smoked on the long flat sections. For some reason cyclocross really hurts, more than it looks like it should. Watching the race, your thinking I could do that, racing the race your thinking, "What the heck was I thinking?" Then after it's over your thinking, that was fun. After my first year I decided to go out and buy a CX bike which saw more time as a commuter that a race machine. My first race on the CX bike was a bit disappointing for me. It wasn't what I expected it to be. The beating of a fully rigid aluminium frame was rough and I struggled some with the handling on the drop bars. I'm not really sure if I was any faster aboard the CX bike and going from disc brakes to canti's wasn't helping things either.

As much as I really like the new color scheme of the 2011 Surly CrossCheck I think I will stay away from buying another cyclocross bike for a while. If I do decide to throw my hat back into the CX ring it will be aboard a mountain bike. If MSG ever offers a mountain bike catagory like some other series do I might really be interested, hint hint.
It looks as if the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek is officially sold out. Alot of local peeps got in this year and I hope everyone who registered actually registered to race not just make a profit. For a race that is only 2 years old it sure has grown into a popular event. AKS has even registered for this race. The folks at BMCC have really done a spectacular job at building a great trail system and putting on an event that should be the model that all event coordinators should follow. I just hope the fame doesn't effect their decision making in the future.