Wednesday, April 18, 2012

the first video of many

The first of many, this video is from our first ride/day in Fruita Colorado, probably one of the shorter rides we did but definitely big on the fun factor. I shot this video in 960 dpi but who knows what it ended up after being compressed when I uploaded, 720 I think. Anyway, Vimeo only allows 1 HD video per week so I guess I'll have plenty of time to get another together. The amount of footage I have is a bit ridiculous, it should keep me busy through the summer.

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

the FROG get's a new hat

Yesterday was my first day back in the saddle and back on the FROG, I'll admit I was a bit uneasy thinking I would take a beating by the SS gearing. I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt and how I was able to ride every trail without stopping. I don't know if it was the trip out west and I'm stronger or maybe the difference in altitude gave me some advantage but I felt much better than I thought I would. I would think any advantage from altitude would have already passed after a week, not that there was really much of a difference but I'l take it.

Wanting to get my ride in before I made the bike shop rounds I was forced to dig into the old parts bin deep in my basement for a suitable saddle for the FROG. I found a couple and went with this old Performance brand saddle I've had for years, not really the nicest seat but it was a great bang for my buck back in the day.

Ahh the smell of a fresh saddle. Ain't it purdy! I picked one up and dropped off another along with my broken roadie frame.

If you look hard you can see the crack just above where the carbon stops. Fingers crossed I get something of equal or better value in return.
Throwing caution to the wind, I ordered another Surly cog, something a bit smaller in diameter and a little faster in hopes that I will be able to raise all hell at the 12 Hours of Tsali on the FROG with only one gear. I did just realize I forgot to pick up the rear shifter I'd ordered. Maybe it's a sign?

Monday, April 16, 2012

back to THE roots

I miss the western landscape and singletrack but I am glad to be home. I did miss those 2 big black stinky dogs that like to harass me every time I sit down to relax. I've been off the bike since last Monday and I'm very anxious to get back on the saddle, so anxious in fact that I'm a bit surprised that I sat down to write this post but I had a little inspiration, something that hasn't hit me much lately so I'd better take advantage of it.

Today I'm off to see how well I remember what it's like to ride on roots and how well I do riding in close proximity to trees. I'm also taking it up a notch and riding my singlespeed hardtail, something I've definitely been missing. I took the JET9 to Moab and was definitely glad I did, I think I only saw 1 maybe 2 hardtails the entire time I was out west and I visited several bike shops while I was there. I'm just hoping that after this ride I leave with my saddle still in tact. My last 2 ride on the SS, I managed to mangle 2 perfectly good WTB Silverados, one of which has been warrantied the other is going back today.

After my ride I'm headed out to hit the local shops. I'm finally getting around to taking in my road bike hoping that I get a new frame under warranty. When I first noticed that it was cracked I contacted my LBS figuring it was out of warranty and was blown off, (not by the owner). It was my fault for not doing the research myself but once I did and realized it has a lifetime warranty on the frame I was a little irritated. Really it's no big deal, I've not had much of an urge to ride the road but that may change this summer, we'll see.

Oh yeah I almost forgot, GRT Racing is finally gearing up for another race, it's been a while since we did, almost a year I think. The 12 Hours of Tsali are on tap for next month and we're officially registered. As usual nothing is being taken too seriously except having fun so it should be a good time. This year it looks as if we won't get to the venue in time to score a spot at the nearby campground so we've opted to stay up the road a piece where we can actually reserve a spot, a much  nicer spot with full hook-ups and sewer. The dogs prefer the comfort of air conditioning while they sleep, they're spoiled I know.

One of my stops today I'm picking up a new shifter for the FROG. I'm thinking seriously about converting it to a 1x9 specifically for the race since the course has alot of fast rolling sections that I'm afraid would hurt my lap times and of course my legs. I've yet to fully decide especially since I will be taking the JET as back up. Maybe I'll just throw on a faster cog on the back and throw caution to the wind.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moab Utah

Ahhhh... Utah, such great mountain biking but the liquor laws are enough to make me not want to live there. All the beer is 3.2%, it doesn't even taste like beer. We stocked up on as much as we could in Colorado before crossing the state line. I mis-calculated on what we had and what we needed and we ended up with quite a bit left over. Luckily I had the sense to leave it at room temp and we lucked out on being able to ship it home with a friend who is also hauling our bikes for us.

Just before we left on our trip I heard about a new New Belgium flavor called Shift. I looked in every store we passed while in CO., (where New Belgium is made) but found nothing. Two days after getting back home I found it in my local grocery store, go figure.

While we were there we had a nice SUV rental but unfortunately it came with ski racks and no bike racks. Having to haul the bikes around in the back with the seats folded down was a pain and it really made me appreciate a good hitch rack.

The day we drove over to Utah the wind was fierce. We stopped half-way through the scenic route to snap a few photos and as soon as I stepped out of the car a wind gust about took me down blowing my hat down the road in the process. It took me a long time to catch it and at one point I though it was a lost cause.

Our first stop was Dead Horse Point, we took in some of the awesome views before we hit the trail.

The wind died down a little but it was still a little cold. After that we had beautiful warm sunny days for the remainder of our stay.

Dead Horse Point was a fun trail that had alot to offer, it didn't have a bad views either.

The Slickrock trail, one of the more popular trails you hear about in Moab was a must on our list of trails to ride. It was nothing like any trail I've ever ridden, probably not my favorite trail I rode but definitely fun and I'd do it again in a heart beat. Being that the trail was smooth you would think it would be an easy trail to ride but that's not the case. The granite was like sandpaper which offered alot of grip but was also hell on your skin if you fell.

All you had to follow are painted lines on the granite and some tire wear on the rock. I think I left quite a bit of rubber on the trail. If you rode that trail on a weekly basis I could see having to buy new tires every few months.

Being that the Jeep Safari was the same week, we saw alot of really cool 4x4's. The Slickrock trail crossed the jeep trail 3 different times and at every intersection we stopped to watch the Jeeps climb and descend the rock.

The was no time to rest on Slickrock if you let your guard down you were going down. Towards the end of the ride I got tired and a little sloppy. I wasn't on my "A" game when I hit a climb, some of which were so steep I was practically laying my chest across my handlebars. Anyway I lost momentum, stalled out and before I knew it I was rolling backwards. I tried to unclip but the sand in my pedals was making that difficult. I got one foot out and tried to hop it out but eventually gravity won over and down I went. I lost a little skin on my knee and my seat lost a little hide as well. 

Hot, tired and weary we made it back to the truck and the cooler full of cold beer with big smiles on our faces.

The following morning we went back to the slickrock trail climbed up on one of the hills and watched the sunrise for Easter. It was nice to reflect on the beauty of our surroundings and all that we have to be thankful for.

Our plan was to take the next day off the bike and at hike in Arches National Park.

We saw some cool pictographs left behind by the Indians, it's amazing that the paint is still there after all these years.

The Delicate Arch was one of the coolest things we saw, I would have liked to spent more time hiking around the park and seeing all of the arches not to mention some of the back country but we felt the urge to get a ride in even though we planned to stay off the bike.

We hit the Amasa Back trail, which was mostly double track and jeep roads but still very fun and the top offered some more amazing views.

Our final day there we rented a shuttle to run us up to the La Sal Mountains which were still snow covered. We rode probably 3/4's of the "Whole Enchilada" trail system, 18+ miles of mostly downhill, all technical riding.  

Not only did it offer up some amazing views, the singletrack carved back and forth to the edge of the canyon sometimes just a couple feet from the edge.

The Porcupine Rim section of it was probably one of my favorite trails we rode while in Utah.

A large section in the middle of the ride dumped us out onto double track, fast, technical and gnar.

The last few miles was all singletrack and a perfect ending to a perfect day. I couldn't have asked for a better ride.

I plan to start pouring over the GoPro footage the next few days and hopefully make a few videos. My plan is to make the videos in the sequence in which I rode them. I've sampled some of the footage here and there and was blown away with the quality of the new Hero2.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Colorado, a few of my favorite photos

I've been sorting, uploading, sorting, deleting and sorting photos for the past 2 days and I doubt I'll ever get them all right. We took well over 400 photos during our trip to Colorado/Utah, most of them were taken with my iPhone which worked remarkabley well in my opinion. Two days before we left on our trip we realized the LCD screen on the back of our camera bit the dust. The camera still worked but there was no way of viewing what you had shot and all the pics had to be viewed though the crappy little view finder that was full of dust. I got alot of funny looks when I held the camera up to my face to line up the shot. It's crazy the little things in life we take for granted with all the new technology these days.

 The entire time we were out west I was sharing photos and stories on Facebox via my phone, alot were instantly from the trail. Some may say I can't believe you were on Facebox while out riding with all that baeutiful scenery surrounding you. Yeah well, I couldn't help it, I like to share. I actually got a couple of nasty but joking notes from friends who said I was driving them crazy with my photos while they were at work. I apologize for that my friends, please don't delete me form your Facebox friends list. But heads up, I've got 5-6 hors worth of GoPro helmet cam footage to sort through, edit and make into videos. I expect I'll get 5 to 6 videos minimum from the footage. I'm sure it will take at least a month or two to get through it all. More on that later.
I'll not bore you with every photo that I took but below I've put together a few shots, all from Colorado that I shot and or borrwed from our friends who were with us. I'll share more later and keep the pics from Moab seperate. Like I said before most of the photos were taken with my iPhone, we did snap a few with our half broken camera but not many until we reached Utah.

This pic was atop Joe's Ridge just before we decended down the ridge. We were waiting on Andy to fix a flat and we leaned our bikes on this dead tree which made for a cool photo I thought.

This was our first day in Colorado and it was super windy and cold. Luckily this was the only cold day we were there. The first day we rode the 18 Road trails: Joe's Ridge, Prime Cut, & Kessel's Run. I really really wanted to hit Zippty Do Dah but time constraints and scary windy conditions on a high exposed ridge said otherwise.

A view of us decending down Joe's Ridge. I swear I thought I was going to be blown off the trail, it was scary.

This pic was taken on Mary's Loop, a portion of the Kokopelli Trail system. There we rode Mary's Loop, Steve's Loop, Horsethief Branch & Rustler's Loop. This trail system was probably my favorite in Colorado. Some great views and scenery. I got so much footage just in this area in one day I'll probaly have to split it up over 2 or 3 videos

We had a killer house just outside of Grand Junction which was a cool A-frame. The view was perfect from every direction.

The sunrise from our deck.

Sunset from our back porch.

One of my least favorite trails we rode was the Ribbon, part of the Lunch Loop system. Don't get me wrong I loved it but it had alot of rough and steep hike a bike that left blisters on our feet. I did get some of the coolest views from this ride. The 2nd part of this ride was on the Gunny Loop which ran right through the backyard of our house. The Gunny loop reminded me alot of one of my backyard trails, Darwin's Revenge but without all the trees and a couple miles longer. We shuttled to the top of the Ribbon and rode our bikes all the way home. It was a near perfect day.

A cool view from the 18 Road trailhead, after every ride we re-grouped in the trailhead parking lot for post ride beers which seemed to be perfectly acceptable and the norm for all the locals. Every morning we left the house with enough food for the entire day, our bikes, a change of clothes and a cooler full of beer. Nothing completes a long hot ride than an ice cold beer right there in the parking lot of the trailhead while talked about the trails we had just ridden.

We ate at alot of cool places in Colorado, 3 of which were breweries but the Hot Tomato in Fruita was my favorite CO. stop. I'd heard about it prior to going so it was on my list of must stops. They served some of the best pizza and their beer, was all New Belgium brew. I finally got to taste the Cocoa Mole Ale, a spicy choc beer, it was like nothing I've ever tasted.
 The Hot Tomato is a small little joint run by mountain bikers, one of the owners Anne Keller is also a photgrapher for Bike magazine. Check out her stuff, I'm sure you've already seen it if you read Bike, Several times during the rides we did I recognized sections of trails I've seen on the pages of Bike. 

Post ride beers at the 18 Road trails.

A group shot just before we hit the Ribbon.

A gnarly hike a bike section down the entrace to Horsethief Bench, I'd seen several You Tube videos of people riding this section but the trail looked much tamer then. I think alot of the original dirt has eroded leaving nothing but rocks. I saw no one clean this section while we were there. This photo doesn't even begin to do it justice but I did get some good helmet cam footage while we hiked it.

Before we left for Colorado/Utah I'd heard alot of great things about the riding but two of the locals who've visited stated after 2 or 3 days they were ready to get home and that they missed the trees not sounding like they really enjoyed the terrain. To that I say you're crazy, I loved every minute of it and I hated to come back. We rode 8 out of 9 days and I could have easily stayed another week. There are so many trails out there we just barely scratched the sureface. I don't think there was a single trail I disliked and I see a return trip in 2013 for sure.

I'm not really sure what I'll post up next but I'm sure my blog will be pretty active with all the stories, pics and videos.