Tuesday, May 22, 2012

tsali re-cap

The 12 Hours of Tsali has come and gone, not really much different from last years race except that we had to secure a pit this year as we didn't camp at the Tsali campground. Once again we registered in the Sport category and once again there were some ridiculously fast teams. We ended up 10th in our respected category, not a bad finish but nothing really fantastic about it either. I had a good time racing, the course was fast, smooth and well fast, that pretty much sums up Tsali. 

I started off the race for our team again with the run, my only real goal was to try and keep up with Mr. Dillon, a fast rider and fast runner. I did for the first couple of miles but he slowly pulled away from me on the fireroad climbs. I pretty much knew this would happen so I'm not really surprised and once we were on the singletrack there were just too many people between us to make up any time, not that I had it in me anyway. The run and fireroad sprint always really take it out of me, by the time I hit singletrack I'm red lined and all over the place but backing down just can't happen. 

My lap times were a few minutes slower this year than last year. I'm going to blame it all on the craft beer and my focus on building trail over trail riding. Sounds like a good excuse to me.

There were no mechanicals to blame my performance on the FROG, it performed flawlessly. I did notice a bit of creaking coming from the EBB but I swear I think it went away after a couple of miles.

As I entered the bike staging area of the run I began to think I'd passed up my bike but as bright of green as it is I kept going thinking I couldn't have missed it. Sure enough I found it laying in the weeds right next to Melinda who was snapping away with the camera.

I caught alot of flack from this photo, I swear I wasn't trying to shove this guy off the trail. He was standing right in the middle of everything taking his sweet ass time getting on his bike. Everyone else was running up grabbing their bikes and taking off running with them, usually jumping on with a cyclocross mount of some fashion. Not this yay-hoo, he was in no hurry and in my attempt to squeeze into the river of racers I lost my balance and leaned into him. I did apologize as I sprinted off trying to chase down David Dillon.

My first 2 laps were on the FROG and I felt good on it not sure if I wanted to ride the JET or not. After my first lap I had noticed the new Conti tire I'd mounted up had gone flat without a single ride on it. I pumped it back up felt and listened for leaks but and left it sitting to see if it would hold in case I needed to call it into service.

As soon as I rolled in off my 2nd lap it began to rain and the following 2 laps my teammates were coming in covered in mud. I had a feeling the knobbier tires, extra gears and more squish might come in handy as rumors of a peanut butter course started coming in. I checked the psi on the Conti and it was holding so I took the JET out for my final lap. Sure enough the first 6 miles were a sticky momentum killer but the farther I went things began to dry up allowing me to pick up a bit of speed but not enough to help me advance much in position. It turned out to be my slowest lap not surprisingly, just a hair over the 1 hour mark.

I'm pretty sure there is a small gash in the sidewall of the new Conti tire causing the slow leak. This morning I noticed it had gone soft again but not completely flat as I rolled it out the door on my way to work for our weekly Tuesday ride at Warriors. I guess I'll pull it off and patch it, maybe throw it in the back up parts bin if it continues to leak. That's the 2nd Conti we've got with a gash in the sidewall, undoubtedly getting sliced by a heavy handed box cutter.

Speaking of slashing sidewalls, I pulled the George from the Saguro and washed the Stan's off of it so I could return it back to it's rightful owner. Thanks Mr. President, you served my tire and your country well.

As promised the FROG will return to a singlespeed this weekend, I kinda wished I'd had time to convert it back before tonight's ride but I didn't. I watched alot of singlespeeders crank past me on the climbs last weekend not too mention local badass David McDaniel pulling off a 2nd place finish in the 12 hour SS solo category. Nice job dude!


Just in case you missed, my video recap from Bike @ Bays.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

will gummy bears make the FROG go fast?

Busy week for me this week, preparations are being made to ready the ECO for a weekend of camping and racing. This weekend GRT Racing is heading back to WNC for the 12 Hours of Tsali. We've got the same line up this year as last, Andy, Abby, Anthony & myself, the only oddball who's name doesn't start with an "A". I thought about asking my teammates to call me Arthur just for the weekend so maybe I might feel like I fit in a little better. Still no co-ed category and once again we'll be up against some fast as hell teams that should probably be racing in the expert class. If it weren't for the great watered down spaghetti I might lodge a complaint, wait I totally missed the spaghetti flavored water last year. You think the Gone Riding folks have caught wind to my blog heckling of their cooking? I'll lay low this year and see how it all unfolds.

There was a bit of smack talk earlier this week from one of the other local teams that will be traveling down with us. A bit of friendly, spirited smack talk, calling me out because there was a rumor I was putting gears on the FROG for the race. I won't deny, the rumors are true, the FROG will be sporting a 1x9 drivetrain. Have no fear, as soon as we get back from the race the gears will come off. I've been back and forth on what to do about FROG, SS or gears? I thought on it and thought on it, tried to ask my teammates on what their opinion was but heard nothing but crickets chirping. I was discussing it with Melinda one night last week and she simply responded, why wouldn't you put gears on it. Yeah why not, so I did. I'm not so worried about the climbs, it's more the fast rolling sections that I'm afraid I would be spinning out and losing time so I went for it. Gears it is.

With a gash in the rear tire on the JET and currently only one tire option I will be attempting to mount up another Continental tubeless this week. A brand new X-King that we got as a warranty replacement that been sitting in the bike room for a couple of weeks will be replacing the Saguro. Melinda's had good luck with hers so far so hopefully I will to or I'll be forced to go down and dig through my pile of worn out tires for a suitable back-up.

A few times I have been asked if I own any t-shirts other than cycling t-shirts. I've been asked this on more than one occasion and by more than one person. With that I decided to go a whole week without wearing a single bike related t-shirt.

Monday's t-shirt, plain navy blue.

Tueday's t-shirt, plain gray. Some said it was the same shirt as Monday, they must have been color blind. Wednesday, will probably be black or brown, I've yet to decide. So many non-cycling shirts to wear the decision will probably keep me up at night tossing and turning over which one to pick, oh the horror.

The real decision keeping me awake is what race fuel do I take this weekend? My current list of options is as follows: gummy bears, twizzlers or skittles. I was leaning towards gummy bears until I remembered Anthony's addiction to little funny colored bears that squish. I'm afraid he will raid my stash while I'm out on a lap and in an attempt to cover cover his own tracks will eat them all and make himself sick and useless to the team.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Ribbon Trail video

As promised my video from the Ribbon Trail in Grand Junction. This trail was just up the mountain behind our house. Probably one of the tougher rides we did in Colorado. We shuttled to the top and rode/hiked a bike down. There were alot of sections that were over our heads but it was a fun trail, especially the large flat granite sections near the top which offered up some of the best views.
After that, we hit the Gunny Loop which ran through our backyard and dropped us off just the road up from our driveway. I actually enjoyed the Gunny Loop better, mainly because I spent more time actually riding my bike rather than pushing it but like the previous days I ran out of battery juice and didn't get any of it.


Monday, May 14, 2012

4th Annual Bike@Bays recap

Saturday we, the mountain bike club, held our 4th annual Bike@Bays. It's a small one day festival of sorts that celebrates all things bikes, mountain bikes mostly. It started off  a few years back as mostly a friendly competition amongst ourselves in the way of a 12 hour race and then down to a 6 hour race. After a couple of years we realized the need to plan a day around more than just racing, we needed to draw people in and create an event that would cater to the core of our area's riders, people who just enjoy riding for fun not racing. With that, Bike@Bays was born.

Every year we build on the event making it more fun and adding things to draw folks from all levels of riding, from the newest beginner to the guys who live for pure competition.


We saw a huge crowd turnout across the day with close to 100 people pre-registered.


We saw all kinds of bikes, very small bikes, Wal-Mart bikes, shop bikes, demo bikes & fat bikes.


One of our local shops brought out a first ever fat bike to our event, a Surly Pugsley. I wasted no time in jumping on it and hitting the trails. I've seen a couple here and there but had never had the chance to ride one much less on actual trails. That's the great thing about Bike@Bays, you can actually demo bikes from multiple retailers on actual singletrack, all for free.

The Pugsley surprised me but in all honestly I didn't know what to expect. It did take some finesse to make it dance through the tight singletrack but I was able to push it much faster than I thought I would. I may have pushed it a bit too hard when I railed a berm and hit some sand as I exited the turn and slid off the trail but thankfully I managed to slide between the trees and did no damage to myself or the bike. Not really having time to get it dialed in properly I opted to ride it with the flat pedals that were on it. It went smoother than I expected until I hit a small jump actually getting a wee bit of air and I remembered I was not secured in. My feet shifted on the pedals a bit but stayed in place, just enough to give me one of those "oh shit!" moments.

I wished I could've spent more time aboard it but I had an event to run and I didn't want to hog it all day. I regretfully turned the Pugsley back in where a line of folks were patiently waiting for their turn.


One of our newest events at Bike@Bays this year was the Tiny Bike Race. Adults racing around a set of cones on kids bikes has to be one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. There was some serious competition going down with the first round of races pitting two racers against each other. The final showdown had the winners of each heat, all racing against each other in what was the most entertaining races of the day. There were crashes, elbows being thrown, a small amount of cheating and a final sprint at the end between two rider who almost took each other out in a cloud of dust and little pink bikes.

This year we brought back the Chainless Downhill Race which was definitely one of the highlights of the day. This year I threw my hat, or should I say sombrero into the ring. Costumes are encouraged and help those who choose to dress up make it a little farther down the hill than those who don't. I chose to go with a Mexican man outfit, complete with a sombrero, poncho fashioned from an old beach towel and a fake moustache.


Before we even got started with the race I had a bit of an issue. Rather than completely removing the chains from the bikes most were removing it from the front chainrings and ziptying the chain out of the way which actually worked very well. After I ziptied my chain to my chainstay I was handed a rather sharp knife to cut away the excess ziptie. That's when I made the dumbest move of the day, not paying attention I sliced a nice gash in the sidewall of my tire when the knife slipped. Needless to say it was much too large for the Stan's to have any chance. There were no 29" tubes to be found so with a $1 bill dipped in Stans and a 26" tube stretched around the rim we made it work.

It did hold but the bulge that appeared after 20 psi made me reluctant to run it in the race. Partly not wanting to ruin a rim at low pressure on the rocky downhill and partly not wanting to take the chance of flatting at high speed I took Josh up on his offer of riding his Trek Fuel. No doubt this fix would have gotten me out of the woods on a normal ride but I just didn't want to take the chance, the patch was still holding nicely the next morning.

The Sombrero wasn't the most aerodynamic hat to be wearing atop my helmet but I still managed to break into the top 3. Oley!

Video from the event to come soon, but first up my video from the Ribbon Trail in Grand Junction. It's uploading to Vimeo as I type this and will be posted up here tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

a good ride

Yesterday I was dragging ass, 5 nightshifts in a row took it's toll on me and I was worth all of 2 cents all for most of the afternoon. Most of my plans of some needed yardwork got washed away with the on and off, tiny but fierce rainstorms that rolled through every 2 hours. I couldn't have cared less though, my only obligation for the day was our regular Tuesday evening group ride at Warriors Path that I kicked off 3 weeks ago. It's been a bit of a slow start compared to some of the regular group rides around the area but then again this is the only organized group ride off-road. The roadies see a huge turn out but most of those rides have been going on for a couple of years.

I had a feeling with the brief rain showers that last nights group might be small and I was correct in my assumptions. There was only 1 other car in the parking lot when I arrived but no sign of anyone belonging to that car so I figured it was safe to assume they weren't joining me. I wasn't surprised at the turnout, I wasn't 100% gung ho on the ride myself but I showed up not wanting to let anyone down that wasn't scared of a little rain.

Once I got on the trail I was really surprised at how great of shape they were in, I half expected the roots and rocks to be a tad wet but nada. Hero dirt all the way around! Those noisy cicadas had even taken the night off, I guess the rain shut them up for the evening. A nice cool breeze kept things feeling good, so good in fact I wished I'd had more daylight to hang out and just enjoy the beautiful scenery.

I stopped for a minute to play around with a new app I downloaded to my phone that takes panoramic photos. Not really the best scenery for this one but I thought it was cool.

As I neared the end of my ride I crested the top of Ridge Top just before the decent on Magic Carpet Ride to the parking lot and I was rewarded with this. The photo didn't really do it justice and those pesky power lines didn't help either but the low hanging sun was sending some really nice rays my way across the lake.

It made for some really great photos when looking away from the sun.

Last night was one of those nights where I wanted to back out but was glad I didn't. It couldn't have been a more perfect ride, the only thing that was lacking was a post ride beer waiting for me in a cooler at the end. That's the difference between living in the southeast, topping off a great ride with a frosty beverage at the trailhead is frowned upon, out west it's a must do.

I hope you've enjoyed my videos from our western adventures so far. I've got a 3rd one finished but waiting in the wings until Vimeo says it's okay to upload another. It's the price I pay for the free version.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Video from The Kokopelli Loops

The second video from our trip out west. This video is from the Kokopelli Loops in Colorado, the trails we rode that day were: Rustler's Loop, Mary's Loop, Horsetheif Branch and Steve's Loop. It was a long day on the bike but an awesome day on the bike. I ran out of battery juice and missed out on some really cool footage near the end but oh well, I plan to go back. This particular trail system had some sections that I recognized from the photos of my Bike magazines, talk about cool. When you see sweet pics in mags of awesome singletrack and then actually get to ride it, it's like living your dream. I did alot of stopping just to take in the scenery and marvel at my surroundings. The pics and videos really don't do this place justice, trust me, you gotta go.



I've got another video coming down the pipe but Vimeo will only let me upload one a week with the free version. Next on tap, The Ribbon, part of the Lunch Loops in Grand Junction.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

on the road again

I know it's been a while since my last video but things have been busy for me lately, we're prepping the backyard for some fencing and it's been pretty labor intensive. Last Sunday alone Melinda and I cut down 8 trees, cut them up and hauled them to the curb. It's long over due that we built a fence to keep our dogs from dropping bombs in the neighbors yard but I guess better late than never.
I have been sorting through my footage for the next video, next on tap will be the Kokopelli Loops in the Canyon Lands Area of CO. It was definitely one of my favorite days and one of the longest on the bike in Colorado but I ran out of battery juice before the day was over. I had passed on the chance to pick up an extra battery before we left for $13 but the big dummy that I am I didn't go for it. The following day I spent $20 on a back up so I wouldn't have that problem again.

Before I bought the FROG a friend of mine had warned me of the creaking problems of Eccentric Bottom Brackets but I ignored the warnings. I'd read up on Niner's EBB, which works a bit different that the rest and was supposed to not have any creaking problems. I didn't at first when I used waterproof grease but had slipping issues. My next step was to use plumbers tape like instructed on Niner's webpage, that's when the creaking began. I scoured the web in search of a solution and found a mtbr post where Niner recommended a spray called CarboGrip designed for carbon parts. Well I couldn't find any locally so I tried what I could find, Finish Line's version which helped but didn't eliminate the noise completely. I broke down and order a bottle of CarboGrip and paid almost as much for shipping as the CarboGrip, meh. I finally got around to cleaning the EBB today and spraying down the BB shell with the new stuff. I slapped it all back together and headed out into the yard with only 15 minutes to spare before work and gave it a test run. Success! The only noise I heard were the Cicadas.

Speaking of bike fixes, I am now back in the road riding business. My replacement frame came in last week and I gave it, it's first test run Wednesday. I had all kinds of ideas on what I was going to ask for in means of a replacement but I never got the chance, I was either going to upgrade to carbon or go for steel but before I could place a request my frame was in. What I received was a 2 year old model, not much different from my old one but still brand new. I'm not complaining, I like it better than the old one, the color that is. My old frame was dark blue, my favorite t-shirt color but not my favorite bike color. My new frame is sparkly silver with white and black graphics. All of the parts from my old frame were transferred over to the new frame included the dark blue saddle that now looks out of place.


I'm thinking it needs a white saddle and white bar tape to match my white shoes.

So my first ride aboard the new roadie was not a ride of magical proportions but it didn't suck either. For one my legs were pretty much trashed from all the yard work and a singlespeed lap at Warriors the night before but I had to know how it would feel. I had some pretty serious thoughts of selling it to fund some fancier parts for my dirt sleds but I guess I've changed my mind again.