Friday, June 24, 2011


Been busy lately hence the lack of posts, although I didn't get any quality riding in this week I did get down to Asheville last weekend for a Bent Creek ride with some people I don't get to ride with often. Most of my usual riding crew was outta town, doing other important stuff or sitting through weddings that had no juice.

Luckily for us the threatening rain and thunder held off until right up until the very end. Had I not lead a small group down the wrong trail which dead ended into a fence we probably wouldn't have gotten wet. We were the last ones off the trail but also the cleanest riders in our group to leave. Probably the last 3 miles of our backtracking, trying to find the right turn was in a heavy down pour. It was actually pretty nice as both me and my bike were clean by the end of the ride. So clean in fact that I forgot to take a shower that evening once we got home and it wasn't until Melinda insisted the next afternoon that I did so.

On the way home Rick conned Olga and Melinda into stopping at the nearest grocery to hunt for some beer that we can't get in TN. I scored big with 3 different New Belgiums and an Abita I've never seen. They didn't have the mix-a-six program like most stores but I got lucky and found a pre-mixed pack allowing me to get 4 different kinds of my choosing in 2 packs.

I'm off to the LBS this morning to pick up the JET with it's new facelift. This bike is going to be super pimp with a lot of white bling. Alan said something along the lines of me looking like Frosty the Snowman. The wheels finally came in and the fork is on. Unfortunately I probably won't have time to ride it today due to getting it all dialed in but we have a trip to FATS coming up where I'm sure it will see much more action than the AIR9.

FATS in the heat of the summer? Yes, having a camper with AC does make taking trips like this a bit more doable no matter what the weather. This trip is just Melinda and I with the dogs, we didn't really take a vacation alone last year so we're getting one in this year but skipping the beach in favor of singletrack.

I plan to take the Go Pro and shoot plenty of video of the riding, it's been a while since my last video.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

words of wisdom from the guys @ Surly bikes

Every once in a while the guys from Surly write a blog post that really makes me smile, today this one was one of those posts and I thought I would share.


If you think your bike looks good, it does.

If you like the way your bike rides, it’s an awesome bike.

You don’t need to spend a million dollars to have a great bike, but if you do spend a million dollars and know what you want you’ll probably also have a great bike.

Yes, you can tour on your bike – whatever it is.

Yes, you can race on your bike – whatever it is.

Yes, you can commute on your bike – whatever it is.

26” wheels or 29” or 650b or 700c or 24” or 20” or whatever – yes, that wheel size is rad and you’ll probably get where you’re going.

Disc brakes, cantis, v-brakes, and road calipers all do a great job of stopping a bike when they’re working and adjusted.

No paint job makes everyone happy.

Yes, you can put a rack on that. Get some p-clamps if there are no mounts.

Steel is a great material for making bike frames - so is aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium.

You can have your saddle at whatever angle makes you happy.

Your handlebars can be lower than your saddle, even with your saddle, or higher than your saddle. Whichever way you like it is right.

Being shuttled up a downhill run does not make you a weak person, nor does choosing not to fly off of a 10 foot drop.

Bike frames made overseas can be super cool. Bike frames made in the USA can be super cool.

Hey, tattooed and pierced long shorts wearin flat brim hat red bull drinkin white Oakley sportin rad person on your full suspension big hit bike – nice work out there.

Hey, little round glasses pocket protector collared shirt skid lid rear view mirror sandal wearing schwalbe marathon running pletscher two-leg kickstand tourist – good job.

Hey, shaved leg skinny as hell super duper tan line hear rate monitor checking power tap train in the basement all winter super loud lycra kit million dollar wheels racer – keep it up.

The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

The following short answers are good answers, but not the only ones for the question asked – 29”, Brooks, lugged, disc brake, steel, Campagnolo, helmet, custom, Rohloff, NJS, carbon, 31.8, clipless, porteur.

No bike does everything perfectly. In fact, no bike does anything until someone gets on it to ride.
Sometimes, recumbent bikes are ok.

Your bikeshop is not trying to screw you. They’re trying to stay open.

Buying things off of the internet is great, except when it sucks.

Some people know more about bikes than you do. Other people know less.

Maybe the person you waved at while you were out riding didn’t see you wave at them.

It sucks to be harassed by assholes in cars while you’re on a bike. It also sucks to drive behind assholes on bikes.

Did you build that yourself? Awesome. Did you buy that? Cool.

Wheelies are the best trick ever invented. That’s just a fact.

Which is better, riding long miles, or hanging out under a bridge doing tricks? Yes.

Yes, you can break your collar bone riding a bike like that.

Stopping at stop signs is probably a good idea.

Driving with your bikes on top of your car to get to a dirt trail isn’t ideal, but for most people it’s necessary.

If your bike has couplers, or if you have a spendy bike case, or if you pay a shop to pack your bike, or if you have a folding bike, shipping a bike is still a pain in the ass for everyone involved.

That dent in your frame is probably ok, but maybe it’s not. You should get it looked at.

Touch up paint always looks like shit. Often it looks worse than the scratch.

A pristine bike free of dirt, scratches, and wear marks makes me sort of sad.

A bike that’s been chained to the same tree for three years caked with rust and missing parts makes me sad too.

Bikes purchased at Wal-mart, Target, Costco, or K-mart are generally not the best bang for your buck.

Toe overlap is not the end of the world, unless you crash and die – then it is.

Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.

Yes, you can buy a bike without riding it first. It would be nice to ride it first, but it’s not a deal breaker not to.

Ownership of a truing stand does not a wheel builder make.

32 spokes, 48 spokes, 24 spokes, three spokes? Sure.

Single speed bikes are rad. Bikes with derailleurs and cassettes are sexy. Belt drive internal gear bikes work great too.

Columbus, TruTemper, Reynolds, Ishiwata, or no brand? I’d ride it.

Tubeless tires are pretty cool. So are tubes.

The moral of RAGBRAI is that families and drunken boobs can have fun on the same route, just maybe at different times of day.

Riding by yourself kicks ass. You might also try riding with a group.

Really fast people are frustrating, but they make you faster. When you get faster, you might frustrate someone else.

Stopping can be as much fun as riding.

Lots of people worked their asses off to build whatever you’re riding on. You should thank them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

dancing the bike room jig

There has been alot of moving and shaking going on at "riding with dogs" headquarters. When I say moving and shaking I'm referring to bike frames and parts. With the acquisition of not 1 but 2 Niners this past year for me, Melinda has been long over due for a new bike or frame or whatever. I've been on her to find something new but in a mostly male dominated sport there just aren't alot of choices out there for women. Half of them are spec'd low or have foo foo paint jobs and Melinda just doesn't like foo foo color schemes. After much discussion and an attempt on a demo Niner she decided to stick with the BMC but this years model. Rather than buy the whole bike, she just went for the frame and swapped over all the parts. She's been upgrading parts and really has her bike decked out. It's easily the nicest spec'd bike in the bike room.

After a couple of days of riding the new frame she complained about smacking her pedals on roots and rocks she had not previously hit. After a bit of over due research we realized there was a bit of a geometry change in the frames. Her new bike was set up to run a 120mm fork and her old frame a 100mm. I made another call to the LBS and she now has a new Rock Shox SID on the way, wow!

I spoke of moving and shaking and it's not all been on Melinda's side of the room. The JET is in the process of a facelift as well. I did a bit of researched, asked alot of questions, thought about it and then re-asked some questions and then made the call to replace the current Reba SL fork with a new 2012 Fox F29 RLC 15mm thru axel fork with the Kashima coating, I love saying that word, Kashima, it just rolls off the tongue. Anyway the part in question was my Mavic wheelset, I wasn't sure if it would convert to a thru axel but after many questions I was told it would. Well, the fork came in and I immediately went to work trying to convert the front wheel to accept the thru axel but it was a no go. I'm not placing blame anywhere so don't anyone get huffy, I should have done my homework a little better and I wanted and needed a new wheelset anyway so what the hay.

After much debating and pricing I finally placed an order, then today I changed that order to something slightly different but I'm gonna wait until the wheels get here before letting the cat out of the bag as to what.

Until then the fancy Kashima will have to reside here on the couch.

Since my discovery of the crack in my road frame yesterday I've given some thought to what to do in my predicament. I'm not making any decisions yet mainly because there is too much going on in the way of upgrades to the fat tire bikes right now but I have had my eye on a certain steel frame made by Surly for a loooong time.

I've had a soft spot in my heart for the Cross Check for sometime but due to my lack of CX racing and commuting I've never pulled the trigger on one. Maybe later in the summer if I pull a couple of overtime shifts I might be able to acquire one of these bad boys and swap over the parts from my road bike. I know it's not a true road bike but I'm not a true roadie either. I don't race on the road nor do I do metrics or centuries or anything like that. A frame like this for me could be a road bike, a commuter, and a singlespeed/geared CX bike.

I'm not making any decisions, I can't afford to right now but who know what the future holds, I'm just thinking out loud. Man that Robin Egg blue looks weird and cool all wrapped up in one big ball of steel. I like weird and cool.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

my road riding season officially started and ended today

I stated earlier in the year that I planned to ride my road bike more this year and I was serious when I said that. I had a small itch to ride the road, very small. So small that I haven't scratched it until today. I had most of the day off today and I was trying to think of something easy to do to give my legs a rest but yet I didn't want to waste the day and not ride. I decided the time had come to take the road bike down off the wall and take it for a spin.

I have contemplated selling it a couple of times this summer but kept talking myself out of it thinking I would regret it. I knew I had to get out and ride it to see if I had been missing anything. I decided to do just a short ride and work some of the soreness out of my legs and try to just have fun. The thing about road riding for me is it's hard to free your mind and just ride, I'm constantly watching and listening for cars. In the woods I don't have to worry as much about this because if I come into contact with something it's my fault.

As I rolled out of the parking lot it and onto the road I went through a quick run down of all the shifty bits and brakes, everything worked smoothly and flawlessly. The good thing about road bikes is, the parts last so much longer and take much less abuse.

I wish I could say I fell in love with road riding all over again but I didn't, I didn't hate it but there was nothing there that made me want to ride more and more. I actually found myself thinking about my mountain bikes and some of the new upgrades I doing to the JET. I imagined my self slicing through the woods, leaning my bike into bermed turns, getting small amounts of effortless air off of rocks and natural dirt jumps and splashing through creeks. Yeah I'm truly a mountain biker at heart, if I was told I could only own one bike it would be one with fat knobby tires, no doubt about it.

As I pedaled along I tried to immerse myself in the road but the pavement never really changes like the trail does. There are no berms, roots, rocks or wooden structures. Occasionally you'll run across some rough or broken pavement, maybe a dead raccoon but riding on skinny tires pumped up to 110 psi really makes riding over anything but smooth pavement suck.

As I cruised back into the parking lot where I left my truck I decided one ride was not enough to give up and sell my bike. It would take some time to get back into the groove and get a feel for riding the road, then maybe I will enjoy it more.

As I lifted my bike up onto the bike rack I gazed across the frame admiring it's sleek lines when something caught my eye. I took a closer look at the top of the seat stay just above the area where the carbon meets the aluminum and wiped the road grime off the paint. I'll be damned if there wasn't a hairline crack all the way around the top half of the tube. I couldn't believe it, just when I thought I was going to re-open an old door it was slammed back into my face. Suddenly I felt that feeling of despair when you loose something special. Even though I've neglected my road bike for the past couple of years I still like to ride it and any thoughts of selling it to fund another mtn bike or some bling bling parts were washed away in an instance.

Now I'm left not knowing what to do with my situation, I really don't see myself spending any money on a new frame anytime soon. With all of the new upgrades to mine and Melinda's mountain bikes there is just no room in the budget. That and once the transformation of the JET is complete a new road frame would get passed up all summer and just collect dust on the wall.

I guess for now I'm just going to hang the broken bike on the wall until something speaks to me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

tough as iron and skull fragments

Every once in a while a group gets together and does a backcountry ride in the mountains of VA. Iron Mountain they call it and the name is fitting. It's a tough place to ride up and down. This year I've managed to make it twice which is really unusual for me. A majority of the time the ride dates are set on days I work and with the limited amount of vacation I usually have to pass.

I'm supposed to be racing the H8R in Knoxville this weekend but after a date change by the promoter AGAIN, B-Rad my teammate had to bail due to work. I hope this trend does not continue, I would like to step on the podium again and maybe for the overall. I tried rounding up a fill in for B-Rad but that didn't work so I decided to pull out myself and do the Iron Mtn ride with all of the crew.

Watching the thread on my local forum the rider number kept growing and growing. After it was all said and done I added one more and we maxed out the shuttle at 13.

Shuttle? Yep, I had a co-worker looking over my shoulder as I was uploading pics and he asked if I was shuttled to the top of the Creeper. What? This definitely was no Creeper ride!

We had a good crew rolling with us with a wide variety of skill levels making for a fun day on the mountain and no big push to hammer the whole way. We took plenty of stops, took pics, ate PB&J's, talked to horseback riders and had a good laugh at Chris's mismatched kit.

Our first attempt at this ride earlier this year was cut short due to 6 inches of ice covering the fire road ascent to Skull's Gap. There is nothing like a long steep fire road climb straight off the shuttle with no warm-up to get you moving. As we reached the top and waited for all of the crew to regroup we noticed Fat Tony and Sean were missing. Rick announced they were just a 100 yards down the road working on Sean's brakes. Andy and I decided to ride back down and see if we could be of assistance. 1000 yards later we still didn't see any sign of them and almost turned around until they rounded the corner brakes squealing. Andy layed hands on Sean's brakes and commanded them to be quiet and they did. Once he was rolling smoothly and quiet again we climbed back to the top and began the singletrack descent. As we descended I realized why it was named Skull's Gap, it was because of all the skull fragments littering the trail from previous riders who's skill wasn't up to par. The trail was rough, rocky and demanded your full attention or you might find yourself going head first over the bars adding to the collection of skull fragments.

The first, fast smooth fire road descent I noticed just how bad my rear wheel has gotten. My plan was to ride it until it bit the dust before rebuilding it. As the rear end of my bike developed a slight shimmy I decided that time had come.

On Iron Mountain the climbing while not really that long can be rough and steep forcing you to dismount and hike-a-bike often. The descents are worth it but I found myself working almost as hard going down as I did going up. Just staying on my bike and keeping my line became tough. Some descents my arms and hands ached from the beating they took and the constant braking. I'm sure my brake pads are toast now.

At the beginning of the ride I packed as much water as I could hold in my Camel Bak and in water bottles not knowing halfway through the ride we would have a water stop. Next time I'll drop about 5 lbs and only bring what I need.

About 3/4 of the way through the ride I was thinking about how lucky we had been with such a large group and no mechanicals and then it happened. A stick grabbed ahold of Andy's derailleur and decided to go for a ride into his rear wheel. Fortunately the only thing that was destroyed was his derailleur hanger. After some serious trail side work that included trying to straighten his hanger with a rock, Andy finally converted his bike to a 2x1 and rode what he could and walked the rest.

With just a little over 4 miles to go we reached an intersection that split us up. Once choice was to turn left, descend Beech Grove to the Creeper trail and ride the remaining 4 miles into town or go right, climb for about a mile and then descend singletrack into town. Chris and a couple others decided to go left while the rest of us stayed right. As we stood at the intersection trying to figure out who was going where Chris and I started trash talking about which way was the better route. It was finally decided that we would each take our respective trails and race to the cars back in town, the loser had to buy the winner a beer at dinner.

The green flag was dropped and so was the hammer, me climbing him descending. Anthony told me before we started that he thought our route was faster but I wasn't too sure. My legs were toast from all the climbing, hiking and descending but I dug deep and cleaned it. The trail followed the ridge for a while on some of the smoothest singletrack we had ridden all day. I pushed as hard as my legs would allow enjoying every inch of the trail knowing I had chosen the best route no matter if I won or lost. As the trail began to drop off the mountain it the smooth trail turned ugly. The faster I went the more I bounced around, by the time I reached the bottom my arms and legs were screaming. There were several creek crossings near the bottom which I crashed through splashing water all over me. It felt nice and helped wash some of the mud off that I had accumulated over the ride. I popped out of the woods onto the asphalt, locked out the squish, ran through the gears and put the hammer down pointing the JET in the direction of town. The JET is not really known for it's speed especially on asphalt but the only cars that passed me were the ones going the opposite way.

As I rounded the corner I stood up trying to scan the parking lot for any signs of Chris. At first I didn't see anyone but the closer I got there he stood with a big smile on his face. He pulled in 30 seconds before me and as promised I bought his first beer.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

let the summer begin

Wow, I hadn't realized how long it's been since my last post. So much going on, on the home front there hasn't been much time for blogging. One adventure with Melinda after another and 2 weeks have flown by. Normally this time of year we are in the middle of some big project on the house but this year we lucked out with a decent tax return and some insurance $$ from the recent storms so we've called in some hired help. These are projects out of my league anyway, roof, gutters and driveway, my skills are only so limited.

Slowly but surely Melinda's back has allowed her to do more and more although she's been careful not to push it too far. She's been putting in some miles at the trails on and off the bike.

Our last trip to Warriors we almost stepped on this guy. I don't know how we got so close without seeing him because he was pretty big and moving our way. I had to run him off with a stick just so Melinda could get into the truck.

Last Wednesday B-Rad, Wondergem, the Beast, Jesse and myself all ascended on Buffalo Mountain for a late evening ride to the firetower. It was a punishing pace to the top trying to keep up with those hammerheads but I managed. One on top we climbed the newly reconstructed firetower and took in the view and setting sun. Well, we didn't actually wait for the sun to set but it was close. Ben was without lights so we made for a hasty decent. I'm not sure how he managed but he lead the whole group down the mountain without lights in the dark. I guess he really knows that place well. Once we rolled back into town we pulled into B-Rad's pad for some post ride refreshments, Sam Adams & PBR, what a great combination. I think I may owe Brad a couple now.

Thursday Melinda and I switched gears and headed for the Holston River for some paddling. This was Melinda's first whitewater experience and she loved it. I'm not sure I will be able to get her back out on the lake after that. The Holston doesn't really offer alot in the way of rough whitewater but it was plenty for two kids in rec boats and no spray skirts. Once we were through the first set of rapids we had to stop and empty out our boats. Melinda had taken on several gallons of water and was sitting waist deep in her boat. I guess it may be time to invest in some skirts especially if we keep this up.

I've been moving some blog links around on the right, several of the local blogs have really gathered dust, I can't say much for mine but several were 3-6 months old so I deleted a couple, moved a couple down the list and added another to the list of folks I don't know but like to read. It's seems like they are my only real source of entertainment anymore. I don't know how some of these people have the time or the subject matter to blog 5 days a week and keep it entertaining but they do. I could never pull it off.

On the race front it appears as if GRT Racing will be a no show at the H8R. Due to a last minute date change by the promoter again, B-Rad had to pull out unable to get off work. I looked for a replacement but couldn't get anything nailed down so I'm opting to use my time off for a big fun group ride with all the homies up on Iron Mountain. I'll probably get in close to the same amount of miles as this ride won't be cut short due to icy conditions. With a crew rolling 15 deep this could be very interesting.

No Hero cam this time I think I'll probably just shoot some normal pics. I've been there and done that with the video, that and I won't have time to get my gear ready to roll before we head out.