Monday, November 21, 2011

would you like a bag for that?

These days almost everyone has a smart phone, they are hugely popular and very handy. I have one that I carry with me at all times. I can remember when I was first contemplating buying one, I was trying to figure out how to justify spending the extra cash. For over a year I couldn't see the necessity so I kept on just getting by with a regular old phone, one that makes calls and well, makes calls. I think it did have a camera but I couldn't upload pics to the internet. After a while I couldn't stand it anymore and I bought both Melinda and myself one. I had figured out a plan by cutting our minutes in half that we could justify the purchase. Now that I've had one for over 2 years I can't imagine not having one. They are so convenient and having the internet at your fingertips comes in very handy all the time. Not to mention the most important, posting everything we do from eating a sandwhich to riding a new trail on Facebook.

So as you can image, the accessories for these phone are everywhere, there are gadgets for your gadget and covers to protect your gadget and so on. Well the bike industry has finally tapped into this. There are all kinds of bike related apps you can download but what I'm talking about are the protectors for you phone. I always carry my phone while riding because not only would it be good in case of an emergency but who knows when I might catch a glimpse of Bigfoot and capture a pics for Facebook. Can you imagine the hits and comments your FB account would get if you posted up a Sasquatch photo?

Anyway, when I bought my first "smartphone" I realized just shoving it in my jersey pocket was not going to work. This was a delicate and expensive piece of equipment. I thought long and hard about how to protect my investment from sweat, rain, mud, impacts and Sasquatch incounters. Stashing it in my camelbak is the best protection but I only carry a pack on long hot rides so I needed something small that fit in my jersey pocket.

I've noticed several new wallets or bags made just for this.

Probably one of my favorites by Lezyne but very pricey @ $40. It holds alot more than just your phone but I think by the time I get my phone out of this contraption I would have missed my chance to snap a photo of Bigfoot.

This one is a little cheaper @ $30 but carries alot less. I really don't have a need for credit cards and cash in the woods but it would be handy on the road. Not to mention the canvas would get pretty stinky soaking up all the sweat.

This one it pretty plain and simple for only $20.

I've looked at many different versions but I've yet to spring for any because of this one.

The good ole zip lock bag, a box of 50-100 for $2-$3. It's a no brainer, they also work well for maps, cameras and well just about anything no bigger than a ham sandwich.

This rain is about to ruin the really nice temperatures we've been having, I totally planned to ride tomorrow but with a 70% chance of rain it's not looking good and with Thanksgiving and work this weekend I may be off the bike until next week. Melinda and I were just discussing that we should start a Thanksgiving ride tradition. I'm hoping we can start the tradition this year.

Man's Best Friend - Watch MoreFunny Videos

I thought this was a pretty cool video, that dogs is crazy fast!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fall Festival cont.

After the ride we headed back to our vehicles and opted for warmer clothing and began the search for some refueling and adult beverages. It wasn't hard to acquire a beverage, did I mention that it was free? Thanks to New Belgium & local brewery, Underground Brewing for providing some great brew. After a couple of beers we all began to wonder if we should head out in search of dinner because all that they had was popcorn, Little Debbie's & granola bars. Not really wanting to leave I ate my weight in Rice Krispy Treats only to find out a gourmet dinner spread was on it's way, and gourmet it was. It was one of the best meals I've eaten in a long time, and did I mention it was free?

I ran across a few pics on the Facebox of a couple of the new bridges.

This was the one that took out the first rider of the day. Melinda made a point to tell me she rode it twice.

After the sun went down the lights came on, prizes were handed out and a few bands played well into the night.

Stolen Sheep, John Baker, aka (Mr. Hill of Truth) on drums.

Big Bad Oven

The Wild Gifts

Stuff was burned

This one was new on me but impressive, old water heaters used as fire pits. Very cool

After few adult beverages, Rick decided it was time to ride again and he grabbed someone else's bike. A monster bike built from 2 Wal-Mart specials. One frame was a full squish, put on backwards and used as the fork. Needless to say it was tough to get moving and steer, but that could have been the Fat Tire talking.

I hate to say it but we missed most of the late night shenanigans, we called it an early night. We had about a 20 minute drive to the hotel and I didn't want to get into trouble on the way. Unfortunately the only hotel or should I say motel in Knoxville that doesn't discriminate against larger dogs, wasn't the nicest of places. Since when do bigger dogs cause more problems than small dogs? Just because we don't carry our dogs in Melinda's purse doesn't mean we can't stay in a nicer place.

I think we were the minority but most were pretty friendly. The clerk at the front desk advised against leaving any valuables in the car, I took that as our bikes and rolled them into the room, mud and all. Melinda made the comment that we should have camped. How many women do you know that say stuff like that? Next year we probably will.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

the Fall Festival and the Dirty South

The Fall Festival has come and gone and I'm really glad we made the trip. The guys in the AMBC really know how to do it up big and right. Being situated in a much bigger city definitely has it's advantages. Sponsors, bikes shops that really get involved, members with deep pockets, members with good connections, and of course a ton of volunteer help. We rolled into town early to try and score a good parking spot near the action. We had both dogs with us and we didn't want to leave them in the truck the whole time at a different location. We got lucky and scored a good spot in a field so Moonshine and Jackson could run around a bit. In true, "I'm the queen bee badass" fashion, Moonshine picked 2 fights with other dogs right off the bat. I don't understand why she does it but she's feisty and unfortunately cannot run loose when other dogs are around.

As soon as we got kitted up we headed over to where the mischief was and I could tell by the spread that they meant business. The first thing that caught my eye was the beer trailer with 4 taps. Some of the bike shops showed up with a fleet of demo bikes and I'm pretty sure one of our own got hooked on the 29" wagon wheels when he left his kids bike at the car and scored a Kona 29er with full squish.

We had a huge crew roll in with us, probably close to 15 or more so even if we didn't know anyone we were sure to have a good time. Josh the "Discerning Hobo" had heard how cool it was going to be and traveled all the way down from the northern regions to join us on the ride. Check out his take on the day here. There were 4 different guided rides throughout the "Dirty South" trail system. Me and about half of our crew opted for the big ride, 30 miles. I had a feeling 30 miles might be rough with my lack of saddle time but I went for it thinking I could get myself back if I had to bail.

Just as they called for the 30 miler to started I realized I'd forgotten to put any food in my pack. I raced back to the truck, grabbed a bar and rode as fast as I could to catch up with the HUGE group that was taking off for the 30 miler. I swear there were at least 25 or 30 people in our group, waaaay too many for such a long ride. I knew it would only be a matter of time before things went south. I had a map in my pocket, much much better than the map we had last time so I felt ok about getting split up.

The ride was pretty slow going at first, we would get moving and start rolling fast and then all of the sudden stop at a slightly technical spot. I guess some were in a bit over their head when they picked this ride. I was in the middle of my friends riding so I didn't care, we were having fun. We came upon a newly built section of wooden bridges. This is where things turned ugly, as we approached one of the slightly more difficult bridges, the people who had just crossed it stopped causing the guy who was in the middle of the bridge to stall which was bad, very bad. In what seemed like slow motion he flew off the bridge head first still clipped in. People went running when he didn't get up and luckily for him there was a doctor in the house. We sat there for a good 15 minutes while the doc checked him out and helped him out of the ditch. He came up bloody but conscience and walking on his own. Unfortunately for him his bike was trashed and unrideable. As we got back moving we realized that our group leader didn't realized we stopped and kept going leaving us unguided. I'm not really sure what happened to the people who were behind us but we were officially lost, again. After riding around in circles and taking a few wrong turns we found the sweep guy who we nominated to be our new ride guide. He agreed and we were off like a bat out of hell riding race pace. I should have known better to follow a shop guy on a singlespeed. Luckily for us he didn't leave us to get lost again.

The longer we rode the more of our group we ran across and picked up. Some people we found were just out in the woods drinking beer, not sure if they were originally part of our ride but they were happy to ride with us just the same. Even though the pace was ridiculously fast we did stop alot and for long periods of time. The faster you were the longer you got to rest as we waited on the group to re-group. I'm not sure how it happened but we got hooked up with the guys from the TVB bike shop who could ride, ride fast! One guy in the group was rocking a CX bike and riding all the techy stuff.

At every stop, beers were pulled out of packs and consumed. I had a feeling this might happen and I planned ahead not wanting to be the out of towners mooching free beer. I pulled a pint of the kickin' chicken out of my pack and instantly made a whole slew of new friends. Even some of the kids I ride with who normally pass turned up the bottle. Not wanting to blow chunks knowing the race pace would continue I took it easy.

Beer stop #2, only 4 miles into the ride..... nice.

As we rolled on we hit alot of stuff Anthony, Shane and I missed the first time and some stuff that had just been built. Some really cool bermed stuff, rollers and and an awesome section built almost completely with bridges and elevated structures. It was so much cooler than before and I walked away totally impressed the first time.

We even rode some trails that were not trails yet, just ideas for trails. The corridor had not even been cleared, the only thing we had to follow were the orange pin flags. It was an interesting ride indeed. Some rode it, some tried and crashed and some just walked.

If you missed my last post about the Dirty South ride, let me give you a short run down. The trail system is actually 4 trail systems connected by neighborhood streets and greenways. The first time we rode in and out of trails at respectable trailheads, this time we cut through people driveways and backyards to get there. I'm not sure why we did this but the locals didn't seem to think anything about it and no-one came out of the houses chasing us with shotguns so either it was ok or they weren't home.

I apologize for the lack of good trail photos but the time spent on the trails were spent riding as fast as I could and I didn't have time to get my camera out.

I guess due to the amount of time we spent getting lost, drinking beer and doing whatever, we ran out of daylight before we hit the 30 mile mark. Honestly I wasn't sure if there was really 30 miles to hit without doing some backtracking but we managed to squeeze in somewhere around the 20 mile mark and I was plenty happy with that.

I held onto my new updated "Dirty South" trail map for future rides which I'm totally ready to go back now. Hopefully we'll get down sooner than later and I'll remember my way around and not have to rely on the map so much.

More to come, stay tuned..................

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

trying to turn it around

It felt good to be off for a couple of days last weekend for a change but I still felt really run down from a combination of too much work, a head cold and sleep deprivation. After my 3 weeks of hell I had one day off then I transitioned right into nightshifts through Thursday evening. When I woke up Friday around noon I knew my body was telling me I've pushed it too far. The thing is, usually when this happens, it's a result of too much riding and not enough rest but I had only ridden once in 3 weeks so you can imagine how bad I was jonesing for a ride. I struggled a bit getting moving but with enough coffee and some fuel in the form of pb&j I made it out the door with my bike, headed in the direction of Bays Mountain.

On the drive over I knew from the way I was feeling that this wasn't going to be one of my better rides and physically I just wasn't up for a big climb so I opted to just stick near the bottom and enjoy the newer singletrack. I was correct on my assumption that it wasn't going to be good, I felt like crap and my riding performance was terrible. So bad if fact that I left the mountain feeling depressed at my state of fitness. I knew deep down inside that I wasn't as bad as I felt but it was still something that bothered me.

Slowly but surely I'm feeling better, I skipped riding on Saturday in favor of trailbuilding. Melinda is still in the healing process so I knew taking the day off was the best decision. On the bright side we made some HUGE progress on the Chestnut trail at Bays Mountain. A new entrance was added as well as a bunch of new trail on the upper section. The new entrance is currently open but does still need some work. I've not ridden it yet but I hope to get out this weekend and see how it rolls.

This coming Saturday is when the real shenanigans will take place, a crew of the local kids are heading down south to Knoxville to join the AMBC for their Fall Festival and hit the Dirty South Ride again. This time we should have a good map plus a tour guide so we can focus more on getting rad rather than getting lost. All kinds of fun is going to be had, I've heard talk of short trackin', beer, live bands, more beer, scavenger hunts on bikes, beer again and even some stuff that can't be mentioned. I guess if you want to know what that is then you'll have to show up and find out for yourself. There have been some improvements made to the trails since we rode them earlier this summer that include wooden structures, I've seen a few pics on the Facebox. Should be a good time so if you're not already too busy washing your hair come on out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

ride, stop, put chain back on, repeat

A few months ago I had the opportunity to buy a complete, slightly used 10 speed drivetrain at a pretty good price. Technically I didn't need it but it sure has made riding the JET more enjoyable. I've been a 1x9 or singlespeed rider for many years and having a front derailuer on my bike has never been something I've entertained. I like the simplicity of the 1x9 system and once set up properly with a good chain deflector works pretty damn good.

Enter the new JET9 last year, complete with big squishy parts on both the front and back, also something I've not ridden in a long time. The 1x9 system, no so much fun with all this new extra travel that I'm not used to, especially on the big climbs. Once I threw the 2x10 system on the JET it made riding it much more enjoyable. At first I was afraid it was going to make me soft especially with all the extra squish but riding it has become so much fun I can't bring myself to change anything on it. This might have something to do with my craving for another singlespeed, maybe to even me out and feel tougher.

For the past couple of months I've noticed my front derailuer on the JET has been acting a bit screwy. Screwy as in throwing the chain both to the inside and outside of the crank during shifting. No biggie I thought, just needs a bit of a limit screw adjustment. I let it slide for longer than most partly because it really didn't happen that often and partly because whenever I try to do derailuer adjustments they usually get worse resulting in a bad ride for Greg. Over the past couple of weeks it seems to have gotten a little worse and even throwing the chain off the chainrings when riding through rock gardens without any shifting involved.

I finally took the JET to the experts at my local bike shop to address the issues thinking maybe not only am I having shifting issues but maybe the shifty bits were getting worn. The first thing the guys at the shop noticed was my front deraileur and shifter were not the 2x10 system I thought they were. I felt dumb, they were 3x, set up to run just 2 chainrings. Not 100% sure this was the cause of my problems, they went ahead and made some much need adjustments and put some new chainrings and a chain on order.

Now as I said before I'm used to SS and 1x9 systems so the only chainrings I've bought in a long time were Surly singlespeed steel chainrings @ $25 - $30 a piece, they work perfectly for both systems. I never gave much thought to how much the chain rings for a 2x10 system would cost me. Today I heard that price and was blown away! Ouch, don't get me wrong I wasn't being cheated by my LBS, those guys are my friends and would never pull the wool over my eyes. I knew 2x10 stuff was more expensive but I guess I just wasn't expecting it. Once I replace these parts I hope my problems go away and I don't need to invest in a new front derailleur and shifter.

I can't believe I just wrote 5 paragraphs on drive train issues, I'm sorry for that.

I've noticed quite a few local peeps on the Facebox expressing they're grief in missing out on getting into the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek next April. You would have though more folks would have been on the ball, there were Tweets, blog posts, emails and smoke signals announcing when registration opened and with how fast it sold out the last 2 years if I were racing I would have been online the minute it opened.

This year I'm taking a break from the 6WC to head out west to Moab. I've done the 6WC race the past 3 years in a row and it's one of the best races on one of the best courses I've ever done hands down. The fine folks at the BMCC do a heck of a job at putting on one helluva race. I do however hope to visit their hood next Halloween for the 2nd Annual Escape From Dark Mountain. A point to point race consisting of all 3 trailheads, Dark Mtn, The OVT and Warriors Creek. How awesome of a race would that be? This year was the first year they ran it and I hate I missed it. I got an email from the promoter a few weeks prior asking that I help spread the word through our local club with I obviously obliged.

Enough rambling for one night, maybe I'll have something in the way of viewing pleasure after this weekends festivities.

The dirt is calling my name.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

back at it

Oh man does it feel good to get things back to half way normal. The past 3 weeks have sucked like none other. Once every fours years at work we have a big shutdown and do a ton of cleaning/maintenance/repair/improvements. You see I work at a plant that runs 24/7, 365 days a year and this is the only time we have to do alot of the big projects so we really pack a lot into a small amount of time. Every workday was a 12 hour shift spent outside. Week one was a 77 hour week, 2 & 3 were 84 hour weeks. I had 1 day off in that time period. The only plus that comes from this is I get paid by the hour so overtime was good for my paycheck. It would've been cool to have a GoPro strapped to my hardhat, I spent alot of time climbing up and down 200+ foot columns and all over pipe racks. There were some really high crane basket rides as well that had me traversing over onto the columns, talk about exciting.

Yesterday was really my 1st official day off after the madness and I had plans to go for a ride but I developed a nasty head cold a week or so ago and couple that with a bit of exhaustion I just couldn't pull it together. I felt that bad pretty much all day. Today was a better day and even though I'm back at work tonight I made it out to the trails for a ride today and man did it feel good.

I hit Warriors Path with the JET9 and other than a little bit of fitness loss I felt really good. I cleaned everything and felt only a little off in my rhythm. The trails were in perfect shape, almost too good. The local trail gnomes have been hard at it already this fall fixing problem areas and re-routing some sections with huge downed trees. Thank you guys, your efforts are very much appreciated. As I rolled into the parking lot I noticed I was the only one there, it would have made for an excellent day for riding in the buff, not that I did.

I was really expecting the leaves to be really thick on the trail making navigating tough but I was surprised to find they been packed down very nicely throughout the entire trail system and not just the more popular trails. The trails at WPSP have become very popular in the past couple of years and we're seeing a huge boost in mountain biking in our area.

This weekend I hope to get a couple more rides in with Melinda as long as her hip is up to it. She is one tough lady, she's been riding with a torn tendon in her hip for months now without really knowing what's been causing her pain.

Saturday I'll be putting in my hours doing some trailwork out at Bays. We've officially begun the process of building the upper section of Chestnut and there has already been one workday. I hear that the trail gnomes will be at it tomorrow, I wish I could join them. That's enough for now, my head hurts.