Thursday, March 31, 2011

a little air guitar, air piano, dancing and of course smack talk

I'm running a bit behind as far as packing goes for this weekend. I've been working 12 hr shifts and most of my time after work has been spent tinkering with my bikes and camera equipment. Melinda unfortunately pulled a muscle in her back last night working out. I think she got a little carried away lifting weights. I came home to find her laid out on the living room floor with ice packs and pain reliever. She's pretty bummed out about being on the injured list this weekend, we were hoping to get down early Friday to take advantage of the Niner demo day put on by Luna Cycles. I'm not sure if she will be riding but hopefully she'll be in a lot better shape by Friday. Yesterday on the Facebox, Chris left me a message, something to the effect of, "Was I going down to Wilkesboro this weekend to race or shoot a freaking movie?" My reply, something along the lines of making sure at one point during the race I would point the camera behind me and as long as he could keep me in his sights on the trail he might just make it into the "movie". If he is unable to do so I'll get a shot of him with the Flip cam as he crosses the line, well that is if the line at the beer wagon is not too long. Good luck Mr. Dillow, I'm glad you didn't pansy out like so many of the others we know. I stated earlier in the week I was going to give the Conti Mountain King a shot this weekend at Warrior Creek but for some reason it didn't hold it's air all weekend. I think it was contributed to the rim strip getting a bit out of whack and since it's officially up for sale and I'll be swapping it out for a new set of Bontrager 29-4's. I went ahead and put the old ACX back on, it's still in good enough shape to last a bit longer.

Earlier this week I mentioned the plan "B" we resorted to on Sat night while camping near Dupont. Rather that sit out side in the cold rain with no campfire Melinda and I converted the ECO into the party zone for a couple of hours.

Although the dance floor was a bit small for one person alone, Fat Tony did not let that stop him from getting down and cutting a rug.

Then he proceeded to entertain us with his air guitar skillz or should I say beer bottle guitar skillz.

Really long guitar solo.

Once things calmed down I played a soothing air piano piece to soften the mood for Andy. The new beard is started to look really good in my opinion.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

getting ready for the big show no matter what they say

Rain, yeah that what we've got, good for people who like rain bad for me. The weather forecast for this weekend is up in the air right now if you ask me. Last year I would have said, "It's gonna be awesome! Just check the forecast." Right now the call is for rain today and tomorrow for sure no doubt about it. Fri it's a 30% chance and Sat and Sun it's nothing but clouds and sunny skies. I have several pessimistic friends who like to tell me just before we leave, "It looks like rain for you all weekend." Don't you just love those people. Never the less I'm paid up for the race and my campsite so I will be racing unless they cancel it which probably won't happen. Being an optimist I look at it this way, if it does rain there is a better chance for me to get closer to the podium because no doubt there will be some pansies who will stay home. Another good thing about all this rain is it knocks down the pollen count, yay for me and my allergies.

If you haven't been paying attention lately this weekend is the first big race of the year for me, The 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. I'm pumped, excited, and giddy like a little school girl. Melinda and I were planning to head down Thursday after work until we realized Friday is the first official day of the season for Bandit's Roost campground. So instead of making a late night of it and camping out in Wilkesboro's WalMart parking lot we're opting to leave early Friday morning. Luna Cycles is setting up shop with a whole fleet of sweet Niner demo bikes at the trailhead and we plan to be there to sample the goods. Fingers crossed there might just be a SIR9 in attendance.

If you haven't been over to Warrior Creek in a while there is some new trail that's been added, the section shown above is one of my favorites. Just around the corner, over the bridge is a really cool rope swing. You can see it in action here along with what it's like to ride the trails there when wet.

Speaking of SIR9's, I called my LBS and Niner has a couple in stock in my size and color. So on a whim I threw up a couple of pics of the JET9 on my local club forum to see if I would get any bites. If you're interested in a 2010 Jet9 give me a shout.

It's in perfect condition with less than 100 miles on it. I'm selling it frame only with the headset, seat collar, and Thompson seatpost. I might let the Reba go with it for the right price. I'm in no rush to sell nor do I need the money so any low ball offers will be ignored. Shoot me an email if you're interested and we'll talk prices.

Race-ready 29er full suspension, updated for 2010

3" of CVA™ suspension

custom valved Fox RP23 shock

Compatible with 80-100mm forks

Tapered headtube technology

Hydroformed tube construction

Custom forging throughout

The headset is an FSA that comes with an adapter if you don't have a fork with the tapered steer tube.

I spent a good portion of the evening sorting through my GoPro stuff, charging the batteries for it and my Flip cam. I also spent some time thinking about new angles to shoot from and such so anticipate a new video coming down the pipe in the next week.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

setting my goals too high

The first race of my season is coming up this weekend, The 6 Hours of Warriors Creek. This year so far my allergies have not been bothering me even with camping all last weekend. Fingers crossed I'm hoping this is a good sign of things to come for the weekend. I totally plan to ride this race until I can take it no more. My plan is to complete 4 laps minimum, in fact unless I get injured or break both bikes I will finish 4 laps come hell or high water. If I have any gas left in the tank after 4 and there is still time left which I doubt both will happen I'll attempt a 5th. As of right now the weather man says it will be dry but I'm sure that will change. I've ridden Warrior Creek in the rain and it's actually not that bad, the trail sheds water pretty well but it will also shed you if you push it too hard in the turns, banked or not. I've seen that happen first hand with more than one rider. I know there are alot of IF's going on but I'll just be happy with a clear head and a decent race this year. Maybe I've set my goals a bit high this year but I'm feeling good and there is nothing wrong with a little trash talking. The Go Pro will be in full effect as will my Flip cam, which finally made it's filming debut in the IMBA TCC video.

I did get around to uploading our pics from last weekend so here are a few for your viewing pleasure.

The water was pretty high at all of the crossings and still too cold to be riding through, especially at the beginning of the ride.

I took the JET9 out on Saturday and had an absolute blast on it. Just when I think I've made up my mind on which bike I want something happens and I start second guessing my decision.

We forgot to pack our Park Tool bottle opener but thankfully Jackson and Moonshine are both sporting the Cycle Dog collars these days. I got to put them to use Friday night sitting around the campfire.

We had an unusually large amount of dogs running around the campground Friday, seven to be exact.

Saturday night we put the ECO to good use and stayed out of the rain. Some might say owning a camper is not real camping but it does allow you to stay no matter the weather while others are packing up soggy gear and heading home. The reason we originally bought the ECO was not because we're getting soft, I actually miss tent camping sometimes, but when we're out on a 3 or 4 hour ride in July we can't leave the dogs behind in the tent, and no campground will allow you to leave them tied to a tree unattended.

The stereo was really rocking between 3 different Ipod's, it was interesting to see all the different genres of music we had between Fat Tony, Andy and myself.

Monday, March 28, 2011

the back-up plan

How many more camping trips are going get rained out before we get a dry one? After this weekend we are well past due for a dry weekend. Melinda and I left home early on Thursday in route to Dupont/Pisgah hoping to get in some extra trail time in before the rest of the crew rolled into town on Friday. Our anniversary was Friday and there is nothing more romantic than a mountain bike themed camping trip.
The weather forecast when we left town was showing a 40% chance of rain for Saturday and nothing else. I knew I would be in SORBA meetings for a large portion of the day Saturday so I wasn't too disappointed but things changed rapidly. I checked the forecast again later that evening and the percentage shot up to 70%, not looking good.

We made the most of the dry weather and headed out for the trail head as soon as we got things situated. Moonshine and Jackson made they're first trip up Cedar Rock and I think they were impressed with the views.

Friday Melinda and I hit the trails again realizing there was a good chance it might be our last chance to ride for the weekend. The weather was almost perfect and the trails were in awesome shape.

Saturday as expected we woke up to the rain. Anthony, Andy, Rick and myself got up early before the ladies and drove into town to register for the days events. This whole trip was centered around the SORBA, Southern Mountain Bike Summit. Anthony and I have been in the process for a few months now to get our local club, NTMBA affiliated into the vast network of clubs that make up SORBA. This weekend at the board of directors meeting we were to be voted in making that the last step in the process.

We showed up late, checked in and grabbed a couple of danishes and bagels off the breakfast table and snuck out the back door before the morning classes started. A majority of the the morning's material was stuff that we had already experienced so we were just there for the important stuff like free breakfast.

By the look of the skies it appeared as if the rain was there to stay so rather than hang around a soggy campground we rounded up the ladies and headed to the local coffee shop for breakfast #2 and hung out until time for our meeting with SORBA.

As luck would have it we made it to the meeting just in time to score a free lunch and grab some seats in the back row in case the meeting was slow and I fell asleep. Since I'm the president of the club I was expected to stand up introduce the club and give a brief introduction. Of course Melinda suggested earlier in the week that I sit down and write out my speech on paper but I opted to wait until the last minute to throw something together. My rough version was drafted in my head on Friday in the truck as Melinda and I drove home from the trailhead and the final touches were applied as I sat on the throne Saturday morning after multiple cups of coffee. Yeah I guess you can say I was slacking a bit but when it comes to speaking in front of a big crowd I always get nervous and end up saying whatever comes off the top of my head anyway. A month or so ago when Anthony and I went on Channel 5 news, Anthony kept trying to get me to throw in the word jellybeans somewhere randomly which I did not. So when I was called upon during the board of directors meeting to speak for our club I did manage to throw in a NASCAR mention but nothing about jelly beans and it did get a few laughs and we did get voted in so no harm done.

After the meeting was over it was still raining but just barely, I was wanting to ride so I mentioned to Andy and Anthony that we should go anyway but unfortunately all of Anthony's riding gear was in his car, in Asheville with the girls who were shopping. I don't think he believed me either when I told him he would be fine riding in jeans.

Since we could not ride and the girls were gone shopping we decided to do the next best thing. Drink beer at the local bike shop.

Yes, The Hub in Brevard serves beer, not just any old beer but local craft beers. We rolled into the Hub joined the required private membership, which was free and spent the afternoon the best way we could think of considering our situation.

Slowly as time went by more and more folks from the summit trickled in, I guess we weren't the only one's with the same idea. A bike shop that serves beer is an awesome thing and a bad thing all at the same time. It's cool for obvious reasons but also bad in the sense that too many Pisgah Stouts almost caused me to walk out with a sweet set of Industry 9 wheels priced at a little over $1000. Yeah that would not have been good.

We did take a bunch of pics but I haven't had time to sort though them much less upload any but hopefully tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

tire delimma

I finally went out and bought a new set of tires for the AIR9 yesterday. When I built it up last summer I just moved the Bontragers off the Mamasita and over to the AIR9. They have been great tires and I got a good deal on them when I bought them but Bontrager has discontinued them so I've been on the hunt for a replacement for a while. In my search I've learned one thing, 29" tubeless tires are not only hard to find but they are also freaking expensive, almost as expensive as tires for my truck. I've been shopping around, getting quotes here and there but not really finding much, that I could afford anyway. The tread on my rear tire was really starting to get low and lose traction so this week I decided I needed to make a move especially with two big, back to back weekend trips, one being the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek.

Yesterday I decided on a set of Continental Mountain Kings. They were reasonably priced and had a good looking tread in my opinion. Really my opinion on tread is really not something I would base a purchase on because I'm clueless when it comes to tires and tread. I listen here and there to conversations about tire tread for as long as my attention span will alow (5 min max) then I go out shop around throw all my good info out the window and buy on what I think looks good for the best price. Sounds like a good way to pick a tire huh.

I bought the Mountain Kings, took them home and began the ridiculously long, painful, irritating and messy process of mounting up a set of tubeless tires. Normally I make a mess of epic proportions, cuss and fight the tire for 2 hrs before giving up and running down to the local bike shop for help. You see I have no air compressor which makes this process alot easier but I'm always putting off the purchase of one because the only time I need one is when mounting up tubeless tires.

Last night as usual I spent alot of time trying to mount them with my floor pump and as usual I made a mess and got no where. I finally gave up and waited until this morning when I could get access to an air compressor.

Once I did I got them seated only to find out one of the tires had a slice in the side wall. I was forced to return home and swap it back out for the better of the two Bontragers and make the drive to the air compressor again. Finally after wasting too much time with my tires I was ready to go but something wrong. The Bontrager was alot bigger than the Conti. They were both supposed to be 2.2's but I guess it's that whole European skinny tires are better crap that screws everything up and running it on the back made it look even weirder. I was already late for a ride so I said screw it and decided to swap them around later.

After the ride I finally broke down and bought an air compressor so I could swap the tires around before heading out for the weekend. Now that I have two totally different tires and two obviously different sizes I'm going to go crazy worrying about the whole vanity thing. I mean you have to look fast and good too right? Anyway the AIR9 is a hardtail and a skinny European girly tire just won't do when it comes to smashing my way through nasty rock gardens. Since I have already paid for and ridden the tire I guess I will keep it a give it a shot. Obviously the cut tire went back to the shop for a return but I'm pretty much stuck with the other one.

Monday, March 14, 2011

bikes more bikes and a flashlight

Our bike room at home is full, of bikes that is. The norm for our bike room is 7 bikes but we've added 2 extra in the past week. Moonshine loves bikes almost as much as I do but she was complaining the other day that she was running out of room for her bed on the floor. Really only one bike is permanent, for now, Brownie is back to stay and I'll be damned if I can't think of another name for it and for some reason keeping it "Brownie" when it's no longer brown kinda sounds fun to me. The other addition, while temporary for now is another 29er. No we're not flipping bikes these days, it's a demo Niner Air9 that Melinda is currently putting the screws to at Bays Mountain as I type this. She's been pondering the big hoops for a while but I never thought we could find a size to fit her much less a demo for her to ride before throwing down the cash on one.

Not the prettiest looking bike I've ever seen, Kermit green, gold and red kinda hurts the eyes but it's hard to come by demos, especially in a size small. Having this bike in the house does help me make up my mind whenever it comes to whether I would like the Kermit green color or not. It would be hard to find parts that flowed with this color and you would really be limited to all black.

On the subject of new bikes I'm still on the fence on what to do with my full squish frame, I like it but yet I feel like it's not me. It's fun on the downhills but in my hood you have to do alot of climbing to get there and I'm not 100% sure I'm really that much faster going downhill with the full suspension vs a hardtail. I had serious thoughts of selling the JET9 for a SIR9, Niner's steel hardtail that can be run geared or SS. I almost talked myself out of it but now it's creeping it's way back into my head again. This year they've got the SIR9 in the sweet Moondust grey color and to tell you the truth I think I might just enjoy riding a singlespeed more than the squish. It's simple, fun and challenging not to mention the feel of steel on the trail is like non other. The deraileur/gears on my JET9 has been nothing but a pain in the ass the whole time I've had it, some of that has to do with the fact it's a 1x9. The debate continues inside my head.

LED's are getting brighter and brighter and coupled with a Lithium Ion battery you can have one small, lightweight light that lasts longer and is super bright. Melinda says I have an addiction to flashlights, blinkies and other lighting systems and she's probably right. I ordered 2 high powered LED flashlights a couple of weeks ago from China and they finally came in the mail the other day. These things are super bright, brighter than any flashlight I own. They are almost if not as bright as my LED headlamp I run while night riding. They each came with 2 small Lithium Ion rechargable batteries and a charger. I only paid $10 for the light, 2 batteries and a charger. I've seen several similar flashlights you can order that are about half the lumens of these at 10x the price. With a little bit of engineering I could strap them to my helmet for riding and I might try it soon. Some of my older LED's won't even hit the back of my yard at night but I have to be careful where I point these things cause they'll light up my neighbor's house 2 houses down. I'm scared what I might see if I accidentally shine the light into the windows down the road.

Spring is looking up, I'm seeing the trees starting to bud and green stuff sprouting up in my garden and so far my head and allergies are doing good. I'm really hoping the new allergy meds are going to make this spring clearer for me. I'm determined to silence the ridiculousness that goes on in my head and straighten out whatever distorts my thought process. I'm convinced it's congestion effecting my inner ear or something of that nature. I've talked myself till I'm blue in the face to several doctor's but they all look at me like I'm an idiot. I've researched this on the webMD sites for those people who think they're internet doctor's and some tried to tell me I'm paranoid but that's crap. Why can one minute I feel normal then the next have trouble processing thoughts or sentences. I've thought about telling my doctor I see dead people just to mess with him so maybe he would take me seriously but Melinda doesn't think it's funny when I say things like that.
I'm really hoping to redeam myself this year at the 6WC coming up in two weeks, the past two years really sucked last year being the worst. It's the first and only time I've bailed on a race like that. I busted out two rides at Warriors in the past two days and felt great, no allergy side effects or weird feelings in my head.
Last night I met up with Fat Tony at 6:30 to squeeze in a lap after work. I thought for sure we would need lights near the end of the ride but we were able to finish out the lap with enough light to still pin it in the corners coming down MCR.

If you haven't already seen the IMBA Trail Care Crew re-cap video check it out.

It took a little longer than expected to finish it. I had to wait a few days for the rain to quit before I could get out and shoot a ride on the new section of the Big Oak re-route and it rides great. It may not be as fast as the old section but it's 500 feet longer, no longer has a creek running down it and it's rideable going up hill when wet. Give it a couple more weeks to get properly ridden in and I think it will continue to get faster. If you're still pissy about the change you can still go bomb down the creek called Azalea trail that keeps getting wider and more rutted out everyday.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

brownie makes a comeback

Friday after my ride on Buffalo with B-Rad and Ben the Applebeast I headed over to Norris Bicycles to check on the progress of Brownie. I was told over a week ago it would be ready on Friday but I was trying not to get my hopes up. Technically it wasn't ready, it still need brakes and a few other minor accessories but once the brakes were installed it was ready to go home with me. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it looked, better than I expected. I probably should have waited to post up any pics until every last detail was taken care of but my excitement over the project was too great to wait.

The old Brownie

The new Brownie

The majority of the bike was kept original, all the drivetrain and the hubs were overhauled. The brown paint was changed to a very clean white powder coat. The original handlebars and stem were missing when I got ahold of the bike but Dave replaced the heavy four bolt stem with an antique Schwinn stem that looked good and suited the style I was looking for much better. The bmx style handlebar went away and was replaced with a Soma Fabrications Noah's Arc bar.

The brake levers were also replaced as they just didn't fit the new style as well. There are new white Oury grips on order as well.

Of course Brownie got new cables, housing, chain, tires and brake pads. I have new pedals on order to replace the current bent ones.

I plan to put the chain guard back on but Dave hadn't got around to painting it or the fenders yet so it will probably be another week or so. The fenders will stay off but I'll be holding onto them in case I change my mind. The saddle and seatpost were replaced as well but the saddle on it right now is just temporary, I've yet to decide what will go on it permanently. Hopefully by next week the new pedals and grips will be in so she will be ready to roll. CRAWL season is just around the corner and I'm ready to roll in style.

Friday when I was out riding Buffalo we stopped for a bit of refueling and B-Rad pulled out a small pouch of peanut butter & chocolate by The Peanut Butter & Co.

The pouch was perfect for carrying in a jersey pocket and perfect for a trailside snack. I had tried their peanut butter several times before and was impressed but I had not seen the small pouches. Today while I was at the store I grabbed a few to give it a try, they pack quite a punch in the way of refueling and with dark choc. and peanut butter it has to be good.

Friday, March 11, 2011

IMBA TCC photo re-cap and Buffalo Mtn. monkey business

Last weekend Melinda and I hosted the IMBA Trail Care Crew at our house for the weekend. Who the heck are they you ask? Go here to learn a little bit about who they are and what they do. We had Steve and Morgan Lommele, a really cool couple that we had alot of fun hanging out with.

I've already written a re-cap of the entire weekend for the NTMBA site so if you want to know more of the details about what went down go here. I didn't see any reason to repeat everything I've already said and what alot of you have already probably read. Steve and Morgan have their perspective of the weekend reported here.
So anyway what I've got for you are some other little tidbits that maybe weren't as important or might have left the NTMBA report a bit lengthy and of course alot more pics.

It wasn't all lectures and workshops, there was alot of hanging out shooting the bull, drinking a few brews and of course a bit of riding.

The section of trail we worked on last weekend was basically built all wrong, during heavy rains it had a small creek running down the middle of it as you can see above.

Friday afternoon several of us accompanied Steve and Morgan into the woods to watch their flagging process.

I basically took a bunch of random shots and video, scouted the other new trail across the creek that is the Azalea Trail and goofed off.

It crazy some of the stuff you can find in the woods when your just standing around in the same spot for a couple of hours. Steve and Morgan went back and forth in one section of trail flagging, reflagging and then reflagging some more. Finally they came to a mutual agreement and we headed back to the cars to go ride.

Since they had already ridden Bays the day before we took them over to Warriors Path to show off one of our crown jewels.

Both Friday and Saturday we started the day off with workshops fueled with coffee and donuts. Yes I ate more donuts that weekend than I have in a long time but I'm pretty sure I earned the calories.

Kingsport, TN

We had a good sized crew show up for Saturday's workshop despite the threat of rain. We actually got pretty lucky the entire time we were in the woods because I really don't recall getting rained on at all.

The photo above is #1 in a series of 4 all taken in the same spot. The trail you see to the right is the old section of Big Oak just above where the problem area begins. Look closely on the left and you will see the orange pin flags marking where the new trail will begin.

Kingsport, TN

#2 This photo is at the very beginning of the workday as the volunteers are just beginning to clear away the leaves on the new trail.

Kingsport, TN

#3 The digging or benching of the new trail (left) has officially begun. On the right the old trail is being prepared to return it back to nature and make it disappear so it will look like the old trail never existed.

Kingsport, TN

#4 Again this photo was taken in the exact same position as the previous three. The new trail is officially completed and the old section no longer exists. It was amazing to look back and try and figure out where the old trail used to be.

Later that evening Melinda and I host a social event at our house in celebration of the new section of trail we built. Unfortunately the weather did not hold out for the party but I took necessary precautions and set up the EZ-UP out on the deck for crowd gathered around the uh... um... adult beverage dispenser.
I shot quite a bit of video from the weekend, some riding, some trailwork and just some random stuff. As soon as the trails dry up, hopefully tomorrow, I plan to head up to Bays and ride the new section, completing the footage I need to make a video. It will probably be next week before I get a chance to put it all together so stay tuned.

Pretty much all week I've been stuck indoors except for Tues when Melinda and I spent the entire day digging ditches. Today B-Rad, the Applebeast and I went for a ride on Buffalo Mountian. I kinda figured we would get rained out when I went running yesterday but B-Rad said we were on and that we were riding the roads from his house to the trailhead getting in about 8 extra miles. We saw a little bit of everything as far as conditions go. Sun, strong winds, clouds, snow, and small streams where there are not usually small streams.

It seems that everytime I ride Buffalo Mountain the weather is either rain or snow, never sunny and nice. I'm not sure why that is but I aim to change that this summer. I always wonder how B-Rad got to be such a strong rider, the ride we did today is his normal route and it hurt. I think I need to joining him more often especially if we're going to be competing together in the TN Cup series together.

We ascended up to the firetower which is currently being restored, somewhere I haven't been in a while. We really only rode around 2 miles of the new Pinnacle Firetower trail which was nice from what I could tell but it was completely covered with snow.

A view form atop the firetower, the views weren't the best with all the clouds in the way but it was too freaking cold to be up there for very long anyway.
I was probably a bit under prepared, riding up I was sweating alot and once we started back down I got really cold. Cold enough that it took me a few hours to warm my core back up. At one point in the decent I lost feeling in my toes which made me nervous until B-Rad told me it would take a while before I did any damage. Every once in a while I would have to stop and warm up my hands, they would get so cold I was having trouble shifting gears and braking.

Once we rolled back into B-Rad's driveway I think we logged close to 24 miles, not bad considering the conditions we dealt with.

After I left B-Rad I headed over to Norris Schwinn to pick up the bike formally know as Brownie. Dave finally finished her and I have to see she looks awesome. I still have a few things to do to her before I'll call it done but it shouldn't be too much longer, at least I brought her home. I really didn't have time before work to snap any good pics but I will tomorrow and I'll give a full run down on the restoration job.