Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pumptrack progress and more...

It's absolutely dumping in the homeland. They've got more snow than all of South America right now. Hard to say what my life would be like if I was still there, would a deep pow day still feel the same? The photos coming out of Durango right now are killing me, but I have my own little paradise in the backyard, at least until the snow falls tomorrow night (white Christmas in Nashvegas??).

Yesterday I got a bale of hay to combat the stickiness of the mud/dirt on the pump track and after a little grading and some digging, I've got it going on out there. Complete laps, at speed, just a few modifications and I think I'll start planning the Big Loop. The vision is wider spacing and some jump-able features, like a dirt jump run within a pump track. I'm not sure Sarah knows what the yard's about to look like.

She seems fine, however, with how it looks now, so after digging and riding from 10-3 today (my back will be killing me tomorrow) I have this to show for it:

this is the first turn I built, a super tight 180* that leads down the backstretch seen below:

the view from inside of turn 1, the 180.   you can see the cross-over to the left of the second roller and all the way at the end, turn 2:

this is turn two.  I completely rebuilt it this afternoon.  I knew it was too small when I built it, but it was relatively easy to build bigger and steeper and it's made it clear that I need to do the same thing to the other turns.
this is the view from the new jump-entry point I built before I put the tools away.  You can see turn two in the upper left, the jump in the lower right, turn three on the left, covered in straw, and the new entry berm in the middle.

Here's a video:

Next on the agenda is to start building a series of table-top jumps leading into the entry jump.  I gathered a bunch of large chunks of tree my neighbor cut down, seen to the left in the third photo, to use as fill in the table-tops.  These should save me a lot of dirt moving over the next week and they probably won't rot out before I'm ready to re-build the jumps anyway.
Snooped around looking for info for the Pofahl I posted earlier this week, didn't really find much about the maker, just this video of his son riding up stairs:

I did, however, stumble on this sweet bike from Fisher:

only $1299 with adjustable dropouts and a split rear triangle so it's Single Speed or Belt ready. A Fisher is a Trek, and a Trek is not what you want, but it's nice to see Trek making something interesting and sexy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Weekend of Racing

This weekend my last two races of the "season" were contested in Southern Tennessee. The final race of the Beat The Freak series on Saturday and the only Chattanooga race of the season on Sunday. Let me mine my memories and work on the narrative.

Saturday dawned cool, much ice was scraped from the Tercel. Jeremy D showed up at 7:30 (you get to get up super early when your ride partner is a 4), we headed south and less then two hours later crawled out of the car at the Park in Fayetteville. The temps had dropped and the sun was obscured. BTF courses are flat and hard, with no rest and very little braking. Basically a roadie-master's dream. Only three of us started the Pro1/2 race; me, Dustin Greer, local mountain bike hardman and Edward Krei, a nemesis from my days in the 3's.

We started slow, no one really wanted to ride hard. I led the first lap, soft-pedaling most of the course. Dustin just got a single speed bike last week and was itching to race it in the SS race, so as soon as Edward pushed the tempo a little Dustin vanished. There was no rest on the course, absolutely none, and no opportunity to make a move. Jeremy was asking us if we were "on a date," and I think that motivated Edward to dig in a little. He got a little gap, I closed it down through the sand, but drifted off the back on the last lap. I was trying to leave something in the tank for the Single Speed race, but that proved to be a waste as I neglected to eat between races and had to drop out in the middle of the second lap. Courses with no rest are no good for me. There were no climbs, no descents and brakes were basically unnecessary. Tough day.

I came home, ate a ton of food, drank a ton of beer and dropped into bed around 12:30. I'd planned to double up on Sunday, but at bedtime realized I'd have to get up at 7:30 to make the Single Speed start so I bagged it. Midway through our drive down (mom was with me) I realized I might make it in time, so when we pulled in 15 minutes prior to the SS start, I threw my $ down, kitted up and jumped in with no warmup or pre-ride. I went right to the front and after about a lap of back and forth with Jeremy C, dropped the hammer and rode away. The prize: bag of coffee, growler of Chattanooga beer, gift certificate and bottle of lotion.

The course was on private property and was set up fully belgian-style. Most of the grass sections were soft and muddy, with some standing water, greasy corners, substantial elevation gains, a mud hole full of rocks, a brutal but short run-up and a nice set of barriers. A course better suited to my strengths I hadn't seen yet this year. The dudes down in Chattanooga put on the best races every year and I usually show up in good form. They also had a keg of Yazoo Dos Perros that kept my mother busy.

An hour after the SS race, the Pro1/2 race started. Andy Reardon was there, he's a pro, the rest of us are 2's and he showed us why by motoring away after the first technical section. I knew he was gone, but I kept the pace up until I had a 30 second gap over my pursuers. The gap grew as the race went on, I ended up getting lapped by Andy (fucker lapped the entire field) so while I technically was only 2nd, I beat everyone that I had a reasonable chance to beat, securing a moral victory, another growler of beer and enough $ to cover the two days race entry fees. Incidentally, Edward was on the scene and I lapped him, so while he barely beat me on Saturday, I destroyed him on Sunday. If we'd have been stage racing it wouldn't have been close.

Probably the last races of the season, might end up in Knoxville one day in January but it's not anything worth planning for. If the TBRA Series ended today I'd be in 2nd in the Pro1/2 and 3rd in the Single Speed Categories. There's 2 more races, I'll miss them on Ski Tour and it's impossible to speculate who'll show up at them. My form came together for the last race, just as "planned" and I'm looking forward to flogging myself daily without so much regard for "recovery" or other training terms. I'll be putting the 42x16 and slicks on the Single Speed for the winter and trying to get the Mountain Bike out at least once a week prior to leaving on Ski Tour in January.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh no... I need one of those too.

Can't stop snooping on bike blogs. Found this, it's a 36er:

I want one.

Near total fucked-ness

If you need further evidence that we're in a state of near total fucked-ness, here's something I found on the Bike Hugger Blog this morning.

This is almost as alarming as the amount of time I've been spending reading bicycle-related blogs as of late (see lengthy list at right).  It would seem that a bike ride would be a perfect excuse to detach the iPhone/Brain umbilical chord for a couple hours, but I know that's not an option for hipsters or "businessy types" and I'm certain they'll sell a shit-ton of these things at $65 a pop.  On a related note, I was berated by my wife for not answering my phone for at least 2 hours while she was out running errands last night, but in my defense, I forgot it was in the car and was enjoying a few hours of phone detachment.  I'm rarely berated by said wife, but for the seemingly often occurrence of iPhone detachment I choose to "practice." 

Speaking of practice, my cousin, who's like a sister I never had, sent me B.K.S. Iyengar's YOGA, The Path to Holistic Health yesterday.  I'll be practicing this afternoon.

Yesterdays HTFU ride was glorious.  No one else opted to HTFU out at Montgomery Bell so I had the place to myself.  The snow has now melted as a result of rising temperatures and rain through the night and as a result, the pump-track is still totally unrideable and unworkable.  Since I'm "peaking" for this weekends Double Header, which is more accurately described as a "Quadruple Header, as defined by me as doubling up on a Double Header, I won't be riding today or tomorrow.  Incidentally my mother arrives tonight on the 10:30 from Denver, so my world will be upside down until Tuesday at 6am.  Fortunately, she's amongst the sweetest women I know, means no harm, and usually arrives bearing gifts and a substantial liquor budget.  Conveniently, my "season" ends on Sunday.

Merry Minimalistmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Cold today, calling for freezing rain so I went for a ride. 1:30 at Montgomery Bell, there was snow on the ground and no one had ridden yet so I got first tracks. Been reading a lot of Velominati and now I'm obsessed with Hardening the Fuck Up. Like this:

Two races this weekend, doubling up both days, it'll be cold. Great opportunity to HTFU.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Rules

I don't know how I didn't discover this sooner. It would have saved me a lot of trouble.

The Rules

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh Atlanta, I hear you callin'...

Spent the weekend in Atlanta, hanging out with my friend Burle. I'd send you to him via link but he leaves no trace online. He's surly. You'd love him.

On the way down I stopped off at Raccoon Mountain outside Chattanooga. It was cool, extremely foggy and raining periodically. I went around counter-clockwise, like the race I did a few years ago. Actually enjoyed the ride even though I was soaked, the knee ached and the fog was so thick I had trouble seeing.

Sunday I got up and headed to the final race of the Georgia Cross series in Conyers. Atlanta is huge, we drove for over an hour and were still in Atlanta (with no traffic). Course was awesome, lots of elevation, lots of room to pass, slick corners, tough singletrack, soft sections, grass... I knew it would be good when I heard the Masters complain. The old guys hate a good course. Single speed race started, I worked up to 4th and sat in until we hit a 180 and a short climb. Everyone tried to ride and I had the sense to run. When I hopped back on, I was in front so I gassed it and got a quick gap. 3 laps later we were done, I won by only 10 or 15 seconds but rode alone the entire time.

Pro 1/2 race was stacked. I was in the top 10, lost a couple spots on the long sustained climbs (in my defense I had 3 hard laps in my legs already), picked up a few when three different guys went down three different times right in front of me, rode alone for the last 3 laps until a guy in a kilt passed me. Ended up 13th of 22, not a great finish but I knew I was using a lot of gas in the Single Speed race.

Next year, gears. I've decided. That's final. I'll start building it this spring so I've got a road bike this summer. Gears, if Big Bikes can do it, so can I. Just a couple of geared pussies. I'm psyched, actually, no more excuses.

Hit Raccoon Mountain again on the way home today. Dry, cold and sunny, rode it the other direction which was different.

Incidentally, I weighed myself when I got home (after a BBQ Buffet in Sewannee) and I'm pushing 195. Ah, holidays. Time for another beer.

Friday, December 3, 2010

New(ish) Crap

Picked up a crappy 20" off of Craigs for $40 today. Got it home and realized I probably paid $20 too much, but such is life. Rode it around and around the pump track till my wife came home and pointed out that:
1. I hadn't taken my phone outside (again) and she'd been trying to call me.
2. I'd left her ATM card in the ATM when I made a deposit the day before (in my defense she was right there with me).
3. The check engine light was on in the car she's planning to drive to the east coast at 8am tomorrow.

I'm blessed to have a wife with the good sense to tell me about a check engine light and see it as a potential problem, not just an annoying, unexplained light thingy. I took it to the shop and they determined a sensor is going bad, so being the good husband that I am, I got them to turn the light off and told my wife it "should be fine." We're both blessed because someone turned her car in and it doesn't seem like they withdrew any $.

Discovered after riding the track a little that it definitely needs some tweaking. The rollers are too tall/too close together. This means I'll either plow them down or plow them over all together. I'll decide some other time. In the meantime I'm headed to my first Georgia Cross race on Sunday.

no pictures. sucker. I also discovered that the pump track takes an enormous amount of energy, especially when it's not flowing right and I'm on a crappy bike. crap.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I stumbled across this blog and now realize that if I don't learn how to shoot some decent photos, I might as well knock this whole blog business off altogether. What was I thinking?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Alabama.  What do you think of when you think of Alabama?  I think of college football.  After today I also think of kick ass cyclocross races.  This morning Jeremy and I headed down to the 6th race of the Bamacross series, the first of two consecutive weekends at Avondale Park.  The park is near downtown and as a result, there were a bunch of spectators including an overzealous girl that stopped Jeremy and I mid-pre-ride to chastise us for being on the course during the masters/womens race (In our defense, we got off course whenever anyone came within a few seconds of catching us).  Instead of arguing, I simply rode away, prompting her to inform me that she would make it her personal mission to "heckle" us the "entire race."  Incidentally, I had to remind her on the second lap, but once prompted, she and her friends gladly obliged.

The course was layed out with a lot of turns, some grassy power sections, lot's of braking/accelerating, two tough run-ups back-to-back and a lot of hidden rocks/roots.  Very fun, wish they'd had a single speed race to occupy my time while Jeremy raced, but you can't have it all.

Anyway, by the time the Pro 1/2/3 (everyone at once) race went off, the sun was shining and temperatures hovered around 60 degrees.  30 of us started, I worked up to the top 10 by the time we hit the brutal, 30+ step, stone run-up.  A few guys tried to cheat by skipping the steps and running beside them so I used my shouldered bike as a blocking device and kept the crowd at bay.  Over the top of the second run-up I was in 6th, made it up to 5th, dropped a place and settled in on Troy's wheel.  Troy is 47 and tough as hell.  He doesn't turn as well as I do, but he's a lot stronger/smarter than me so I was content to sit in.  A college kid I'd met pre-race caught and passed us and the 3 of us stayed together, vying for 4th place for a couple laps.  Troy got a gap, then the kid got a little gap but I closed it down in the final corners.  I calculated my move and made it but the kid shut the door, (accidentally) then apologized, but it was too late and I didn't have anything left for the sprint.  6th place, just off the podium.  I felt great, didn't fade, didn't let up, didn't make my move for the podium stick but had a really good race, loved the course and had a lot of fun. 

I think the legs are back-ish, three weeks until the next races, two points races back-to-back on the 18th and 19th.

I'll try to post up a picture or two.

Best thing I've seen all week, this is for the Cat 4 riders, time to upgrade, ladies...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First (half) lap

Took a few quick laps around the roughed out track.  Looks like my distances between rollers is right, some are a little tall, all of them need to be wider and my 180 berm is way too tight.  All these things can be fixed.

Headed for Bamacross in Birmingham first thing in the morning.  No Single Speed race (why?) but I'll get an hour in on the Pro 1/2 race.  Monday will be a big dig day on the pump track.  More to come.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pump Track day 2

Got out this morning before the big meal and dug for another couple hours, worked on stump removal and moved the compost heap (track runs right through it).  Built up a pretty substantial berm and set the skeleton of three rollers.  Actually pretty fun pushing dirt around now that I'm developing a technique, wouldn't be surprised if I end up with an entire pump track/dirt jump-filled yard.  Sarah took a shot of me out in the yard, this will be the view from the kitchen.  The black stuff left of the basketball hoop is compost (that's what a year of veggies, grass clippings and leaves looks like), the garden goes there.

about a half hour later I'd dug the first three rollers and finished piling up the first berm.  Here's what it looked like from ground level.

Obviously there's a lot of organic material in there, some of it I'm pulling out as I go, some of it will die off and some of it I'll regret leaving in there, but I'm developing new shoveling/scraping techniques that should help get more of the grass out with less effort.  Essential to the process will be getting the bike out and seeing how the spacing feels.  I can't afford this:

(The Specialized P24, 24" cruiser BMX.  My ideal ride for backyard pump/dirt jump.  Only $550.  If anyone out there... never mind, I'll get it myself.  Sick though, right?)

But I can put knobbies back on my utility bike and start to break in the track, test out the distances between rollers and corner radius'.  I've already revised my design and I expect that to continue to happen over and over and over again until eternity.

Here's a video,

On a side note, the pictures coming out of CO and MT right now have got me literally weeping. Can't wait until Ski Tour (3 months!) this winter. Hoping to hit Big Sky, Jackson, the Cottonwood canyons, Wolf Creek, and my old DMR. I'm getting ahead of myself but I can't help it.  I need another shot at The Big.  Ed, you listening?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pump Track day 1

Got it in my mind that I wanted to build a pump track.  We weren't really using our yard anyway, and I had already resolved to turn a bunch of it into a garden, so it's no sacrifice to dig up the rest of it.  Fortunately my wife is supportive of nearly all of my endeavors and didn't even bat an eye when I told her I wanted to dig up the yard.  After a little less than 2 hours, I have an initial layout and some piles of dirt.

I've got a lot of digging left to do.  Initial layout has a straight away, into an s-turn, a 180 and a left hander before another 180 brings you around to the straightaway.  I've also got a dirt jump line planned that will start in the front yard, transition off the 3 foot drop near my AC unit and continue across the back of the yard.  Not really sure how the neighbor ladies are going to take this turn of events, but until they buy my yard, I don't think they really have any say in the matter.  It will be interesting to see what kind of dirt I've got underneath the grass...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cross The Way: Murfreesboro

Let me tell you a little about the last 24 hours.

Band rolled into Atlanta last night and played to a full house at the Variety.  Full moon always makes me feel funny, but that was cured by some pre-gig brews, followed by a couple of tall Franziskaners and some lively conversation at Porters post gig in celebration of a most excellent tour.  Crawled into bed around 2:30am, alarm sounded at 8 and after rounding up the band, we headed north.  The band dropped me with all my band-type gear and Sarah rolled up with all my bike related gear just as they were about to pull away.

30 minutes later we started the Pro1/2 race.  There was 10 of us, I was in about 4th heading through the first two corners.  Over the barriers someone went down.  All I saw was a cluster of dudes and a bike in front of me, so I rode over it and caught on to Troy before the singletrack.  I thought it might be the selection move, but neither Troy nor I wanted to force the issue so early, so I followed him until he bobbled, then he followed me until I clipped my left foot going over the second set of barriers (slammed my foot, really, might lose my entire big toenail).  I saved myself the indignity of a crash by planting the bike, but as soon as I hopped on it was clear my front wheel hadn't faired so well.  You can actually see it's not straight in this shot.

I jumped off, pulled off the wheel and started slamming it on the ground guerilla-style until it was fairly straight.  After another 1/4 lap, I realized my front tire was going flat, so I slowly glided around the course begging for a wheel until Eric Boerman yelled to meet him in the pits.  With a new wheel I got to work, but quickly saw that my race was over.  After another lap or two I started to feel good and decided to stay on course regardless of it's futility.  I think I finished 8th.

Single Speed started 20 minutes later, just enough time to borrow a tubular wheel from Nate.  I was second going into the barriers and the guy in first stopped for a beer handup along with half the field.  I took off into the woods, Jeremy C caught on and we started to distance ourselves from the recreational drinkers.  I've raced Jeremy a lot and I know he's a great all around rider, usually stronger than me with more endurance, but I can move the bike around a little better than he can, so he was at a serious disadvantage on the narrow, windy course.  I had a few seconds on him at the end of the first lap, which he shut down on the long finish straight, but after the singletrack the gap was up again and it only grew from there.  I'd let too much air out of Nate's front tire, so I was forced to ride safer than I would have liked but it didn't matter.

Perfect course for a guy like me.  Nonstop turns, no climbs, lots of dirt.  Would have loved the chance to see how the Pro1/2 race unfolded with me in it.  Hoping to head to Birmingham next weekend.  Did I mention it was almost 70 degrees?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Five Fingers

Wearing the Five Fingers this week, lots of funny looks.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, November 7, 2010

One last gasp

I read a book, Off The Deep End, about a 44 year old trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 100 meter freestyle.  He's crazy.  But it inspired me to try to get my act together enough to salvage the season.  I've got 4 races spread over 3 weekends planned before the Holidays.  After that there's one weekend in Knoxville in January and one in February, but they'll both be a hassle logistically and they start to get dangerously close to ski season. 

At any rate, I've got a plan and I plan to use it. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Into the Pain Tunnel

Yesterday I headed to Memphis for day one of Spooky Cross.  I'd planned to head to Louisville for the Eva Bandman but bagged it in favor of Memphis for several reasons:
1.  Closer
2.  Cheaper
3.  TBRA Points
4.  I could double up
5.  Afternoon racing

So it was with much anticipation that I headed for Memphis.  Weather was still beautiful (will we see mud this season?) and the drive was benign.  The course they set up was really exceptional and soul crushing.  After a long grass-crit start, we hooked up with the last quarter of the course, winding through a tight set of corners, a super fast off-camber left hander, then a little up and down that required brakes, power and intention.  After a super tight set of corners the lap started with a really sweet high speed left/right cornering section then dropped into the amphitheater.  We had to dismount to cross a double railroad tie, then run across the amphitheater and up a large set of decomposing stairs, seen here:

After a remount we plunged into some wicked singletrack that was several dudes unmaking (and one of the few places I could make time).  A couple barriers, some flat along the lake, a crushing grassy singletrack climb to a paved bike path, then into the last quarter grass section and through the start finish.

Single Speed lined up in front of the B race.  I took the holeshot and set the pace the first lap.  The course designer and crowd favorite Boomer glued himself to my wheel for the first 3 laps until I kinda cracked a little.  He rode me off his wheel and I floated by myself for the remaining 3 or 4 laps.  Finished 2nd.  I need to learn some tactics.

The A race started immediately afterward.  I drank a little water, pulled myself together and lined up in the back.  For the first time I was last headed out of the start gate.  It was interesting to watch from the back but also a little humbling.  I started moving up, picking off a rider here or there.  I started to feel really good after about a lap and a half, but we were doing 10 and with 6 laps to go I really started to suffer.  After giving up a few places late in the race, I was dying for an excuse to drop out, but fortunately I got lapped.  Yep, lapped.  Humbling.  Kept me from quitting, though, so it was a blessing in disguise.  Don't know how I finished, had to split and find fast food. (Update:  finished 4th of 4 in the 1/2 combined, 2nd of 2 in the 2's behind Bosio...  baby leg)

I'm so fortunate to be racing at all and to even be pseudo-competitive at this stage.  I'm trying to not get attached to my results and yesterday's A race was a prime opportunity to face that.  This wasn't a priority race like last weekend, so I spent a lot of time on the bike last week, even got in my first long run since my surgery.  I think the competition is getting better around here, the field was certainly larger than I expected and the front of the B Race was really cooking.  As the sport grows, it's probably safe to assume that fields will keep getting bigger and wins will be harder to come by.

Can't say enough about the course out there.  Lot's of really great elements, tons of corners, lot's of braking required, definitely not a roadie course.  I was absolutely killing the bike handling, now if I could just get these legs going...  maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

USGP Wrap-up

Wrap it up!
USGP in Louisville last weekend.  Lots of dust.

I started 114th and 118th, finished 41st and 39th.  Last year I pulled off 19th place so I was decidedly slower this year, though everyone agreed the competition was a little more fierce this year.  I didn't look good.

definitely gotta drop a few more lbs before I'm riding like I was last year...

Friday, October 22, 2010

USGP Bitches!!!

Headed to Louisville for the Big Dance, the USGP Derby Cup, out at Bandman Park.  Louisville has set aside this little corner of their fair city for Cyclocross.  That is to say, cyclocross only.  Very very nice.

Apparently Louisville put $125,000 into this thing...  pretty epic, I'd say.  Psyched to see it and race it.  Might even head up there for the local race next weekend...

Becker took me to the Predators/Penguins game last night.  It was a nice little date.  Penguins won 4-3 in overtime.  Becker was happy.  Maybe I'll take pictures this weekend.  Probably not.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a couple bike dorks...

Got up uber early this morning to do a little 'cross practice with my man Jeremy.  He just landed his new Kona Jake the Snake and was itching to get it on some dirt prior to this weekends main event.  I lucked out and got the course mowed last night before dark.  I was able to drop the mower to it's lowest setting so there was a clearly defined route when we went out there this morning.  Super fast, lots of bullshit and remount sessions.  No pictures from the park, still not sure if I'm going to get harassed or arrested for my "course improvements" but it's a really sweet 6-7 minute loop.  If I had a helmet cam I'd let you in on it. 

Yesterday I took the 'Hopper in to reduce the travel from 100 to 80mm.  I didn't think it could be any faster but it is.  3 consecutive 41 minute laps out at Lock 4 have me convinced that I'm not "recovering" anymore, just a little slower than usual.  What a ridiculous bike.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The Festy was absolutely ridiculous.  Here's a link so some amazing pictures.

Seriously the best time I've had in my life.  After staying up till 2am drinking Stringduster beer and moonshine in the campground, I was up at 8am for the Devils Backbone Challenge.  We started at the Brewery and after a neutral roll-out climbed about a mile and a half up a steep paved road.  The pack sorted out, I pushed hard, felt great and rode some amazing terrain.  An hour and five minutes later I rolled back into the finish at Devils Backbone in 1st place.  Thanks to Woody and his crew for putting this thing on.

This was what it looked like from our perspective.  Next year, same time, same place, cyclocross race and another night of music.  Make your Festy plans now, fool.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've been waiting for this bike since my custom painted Schwinn Homegrown hardtail got stolen from a party back in college.  Not that I didn't have a few other rides along the way, just none of them had the handling characteristics and vibe that the Hopper and the Homegrown had.  With just a few minor tweaks on the ride today, I think the 'Hopper and I are settling into a nice rhythm.  I'm no good at photos, here's the only one I got.  I'm sure there'll be more.

Once I tilted the handlebar back (I like it in line with my arms so the bar bends up a little) adjusted the brakes (I like them looooooose), got the seatpost to stop slipping (grease?), and tightened up the headset, the bike started to feel really comfortable,  familiar even.  The 30 degree bend in the handlebar is glorious.  The morning was perfect, just a little chilly, and no one was out on the trails at Montgomery Bell.  I took one minor spill on a steep switchback (still working with little to no horsepower) and clipped a tree with my right forearm but otherwise managed to not break anything body or bike.  Headed for The Festy (see yesterdays post) with running shoes and bike in tow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Festy Preview... and more!

This weekend is the long awaited Festy Experience, a music, outdoor and beer festival hosted by yours truly and The Infamous Stringdusters at the Devils Backbone Concert Grounds in Nelson County Virginia. We've put together a ridiculous lineup.  Seen here, at right.  As well, we've joined forces with the Devils Backbone Challenge mountain bike race and The Blueridge Burn 5k and 10k trail runs.  I intend to do the 5k and the mountain bike race, but I make no guarantees.  It all takes place this weekend, October 9,10 on the concert grounds at the Devils Backbone Brewery, 2010 World Beer Cup Champion Brewery. They're making a special beer called The Stringduster specifically for the event.

It's about a beautiful location, beautiful people, incredible music, world class beer, mountain biking, hiking, running, and just about any other fun thing you want to do (ultimate anyone?).

So basically we've got it all.  If you can't stop in, I'll make you aware of what you missed.

This just in!  A photo for you bike people.  

Oh that's the stuff.  Feel so good when it gets replaced.  Put the new bike together tonight (actually another Travis at Biker's Choice did it but I watched) and didn't finish until the sun was setting so I haven't had a chance to ride it or take a decent photo.  I'm going to remedy these things tomorrow early in the morning before we head to The Festy. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bike Snob on Cyclocross

Big Snob NYC nails it.

Rode the practice course yesterday, it's fantastic. 6-6:30 lap times. New section winds through the ravine single-track style. Makes me want to get a helmet cam just to show it off.

I'm going for a ride.

Update: It was awesome.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week (Weak?)

It's been a week since my last post, mostly because I'm trying to not just puke a bunch of nonsense onto this page, but also because there's basically nothing going on noteworthy.  Well, maybe there is, let's see, shall we?

- Last week was IBMA week.  For those of you who don't know, IBMA used to be a huge bluegrass party, now it's just a small one.  We partied in one room, all week, every night, till like 6 am.  Tons of music, great new bands, check out Milk Drive:

and Roustabout. Really killer music all the way around. We even got in some impromptu showcasing, here's our "band" Heady Festy feat. LARF playing in the Acoustic Trail room.  This is basically a dream band with Falco on guitar, Panda on banjo, Dennis Ludiker on Fiddle and Dominic Leslie on Mando.  Sarah's lurking in the corner as well.

- So while all that was going on, I was getting no sleep, drinking heavily and basically taking poor care of myself.  I got out for a short ride then honed in my course at Charlotte Park.  There's more dirt, more technical aspects and more speed this year.  I took the weedeater, the rake and mower out and made a full lap with the mower.  Today when it warms up I'll head out there and take a few hot laps, see how the new layout feels.  Might even take a few pictures...

- Still waiting to build the Single Speed which also means I'm still waiting to shoot photos of "the crack."  As soon as that's all up and about, you'll know.

- The Festy is this weekend.  Three days of music, outdoors and beer in the hills of Virginia.  Tickets are cheap, the lineup is ridiculous and it has something for anyone that would find themselves reading this blog.  We've been preparing for our festival for a year now and it's upon us.  Cyclocross race next year, this year you'll have to be content with a run or mountain bike race.  The Revivalist blog did an interview with me about the Festy.  Check it out

Monday, September 27, 2010

Let "The Comeback" begin, or "Baby Leg Booksy" arrives on the scene

I'm back!  Not really, actually.  I'm slower than a first-time CX4, but I'm back to racing and that's what's important.  Here's the run-down:

Saturday I got up at 6 AM for our family yard sale.  Note-to-self:  instead of doing a yardsale, next time, pile all the stuff in the 4Runner, drop off at Goodwill, write off a number in the neighborhood of $700 then spend Saturday doing something really fun.  The benefit of the yard sale was some great family time with the in-laws, punctuated by an hour long picking session with my father-in-law.  I'm lucky to have a family of amazing musicians and it was painful to end the session, but I had a wedding gig with some friends, Hit & Run Bluegrass so I cut it short.  On the way I stopped into Bikers Choice to pick up a cable hanger and some bar tape and check out the new Specialized cross bikes they got in.  Wedding had no beer (seriously) so I stayed somewhat sober.  I'd yet to even ride the cross bike since the State Championships back in January, it still had mud caked on the wheels and there were some finishing touches needed before Sundays race so fast forward to 12:30am when I finally got in bed. 

10am departure for Beat the Freak.  I'd only been planning to hit up the 30 minute Single Speed race but in the course of conversation with Tanner I realized that life was short and only to be lived once (that we know of) and to make the drive and only race for 30 minutes was very un-Booksy.  So it was with low expectations I registered for both the 1/2 and SS races.  All the usual suspects were there and everyone seemed happy to see me though no one was buying my "baby leg" excuses.  The 3's race was well contested with Ed coming in 2nd and Nate coming in 3rd.

We kicked off the 1/2 race with 7 guys.  Matt and Tanner from Biker's Choice, Jeremy C, Ryan B, Ricky C and a guy I didn't know.  Guy I Didn't Know took the holeshot and absolutely hosed me down with mud 3 seconds into the race.  Here's that moment captured brilliantly:

He led the first lap, fishtailing around corners and basically behaving oddly until he went down on a right hander.  Here's a good look at him and me with the mud on the first lap.

I was with the leaders for the first lap, but without any top speed, power, or anything else really I quickly fell off the back.  I passed Ricky, but was passed by everyone else, slowly falling back until the finish, 6th of 7.

Single Speed race followed, Jeremy put the hurt on me, I finished second.  Results didn't matter to me, I was shocked/thrilled to find that my knee didn't bother me at all.  I've been on the bike less than a dozen times since February and still finished on the lead lap in the 1/2 race (11 laps, could have easily been lapped) and finished right where I thought I would in the SS race.  I'm about where I was last year at this time, relative to the competition.  I'm psyched, really.  Next race is the USGP in Louisville in a couple weeks.  I have no expectations for this season, just thankful that I can be out there amongst the boys getting muddy and trying to puke. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Here's Ned on my new bike.  Or one like it, on his way to the SSNC.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Got on the 29er for the first time since January.  It was glorious.  I felt great.  Afterward I stopped in the shop to talk about lowering the front end and I discovered a crack in the headtube.  I immediately ordered a new bike.  It's the same frame Ned won the SSWC with.  Here's a little video of him talking about it.

I left the bike at the shop, hoping they'll put some extra energy into it.  Photos will follow.  Headed out for a long one, see you later.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Race and Rides

First race of my "season" is this weekend.  I'm not even close to fit enough, my knees definitely can't handle it but I'm going, and I'm paying, and I'm racing.  Beat The Freak, put on by The Freak himself, Kevin Freeman, was the site of my first victory two years ago.  I was strung out on the front with my soon-to-be partner in crime Nate when the Freak started yelling at me to "break the rubber band."  I did.  I won.  I was psyched.  I've been waffling about racing this season, I know I don't have the fitness, not even close, but the leaves are changing and you only live once (that we know of) so I'm going on Sunday assuming I get the bike built.  It's down to the frame today, tonight I'll start the build and hopefully take it out on Friday to shake out the cobwebs.

The rest of the week should be a bunch of milestones as well.  Tonight I'm headed out for my first ride on the 29er since like January.  Wednesday I'm going for a road ride with my bandmate Pandolfi who's been dragging his feet about riding with me.  I intend to teach him a little something about riding more than 8 miles (his current longest ride).  Thursday night we're doing a full moon ride out at Lock 4.  Looks like there'll be a few of us out there.

Put the new saddle on the 29er and it feels terrible!!  I'll have to ride it a little, but I can see now why it was sold slightly used for $25.  There's some major cockpit changes coming to the Ute and the 29er.  I'm planning a couple straight bars with 30 degree sweeps in hopes I'll save my wrists.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Parts and New Legs

The legs are back.  Not exactly in full effect, I haven't felt sensations like I did yesterday since I was 14, but they're both turning pedals and I can stand (though not for long).  When I was 15 I had an emergency appendectomy that put me in a hospital bed for 8 days and kept me in bed at home for another 10.  I could only bench press 25 lbs when I finally got up.  My legs are a little like that now.  I can pedal, but there's surprisingly little power.  All in due time, I suppose. 

I still can't accept that my season is shot.  We were in Ohio yesterday, fall's arrived and all I could think about was cross season.  I think it's the smell of the leaves.  Instead of racing, I'll probably just attend, drink, yell and report for CXMagazine.  They've taken a liking to my amateur writing style, for some reason, and they started publishing some of my ideas.  Sunday they posted an article I wrote on training while traveling.  You can see it here.

In the meantime, I'll just secretly order new parts and hope they arrive when my wife's not looking.  On order already are a set of cheap townie baskets for my wife's bike.  It's our anniversary and now that they've built a grocery store around the block, it's time for me to call her bluff and remove one more roadblock between her and bicycle freedom.  I cannibalized the saddle from my Bianchi (see above) for the utility bike earlier this summer, so I took the opportunity to order a used version of the saddle I've had my eye on, the WTB Silverado.  Found it for $25 online, should arrive next week.  I've been riding WTB Saddles for years and I think this will be a good balance of size (I like them big) and weight (I need to lose a little weight off the top end of the SS).  To that end I'm also planning a new handlebar/stem combo for the SS, probably going with Bontrager Race Lite flat bar.  It's got a nice sweep that should ease the pressure on my wrists and it'll lower the front end, which is desperately needed.  I also crushed the end of my MonkeyLite carbon bars on the utility bike in my epic crash last month, so I've got my eye on the Surly Open Bar.  I've not ridden a bar like this so I'm dragging my feet, but I've got a hunch the carbon bar is unwrapping itself from the inside out and something's got to give. 

The Cross bike is about to get a full re-build with Avid Canti's, Cane Creek levers, new ring, new freewheel, new chain, new cables, etc... I have to rebuild the Surly hubs since I put them away wet after the State Championships (they've since seized up).  This will happen next week before I head down to Beat The Freak for a nice little pack-fill session in the SS race. 

Ordered a new helmet today, finally.  I've been using the same one for like 10+ years now.  Realized this morning the crash split the back open.  Ordered a Giro Athlon, it's about the same thing as what I had and it comes in Green, which is the only way my wife can pick me out of a pack.  Found it onsale for only $70, down from $130.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On Cyclocross

Amazing thing I found via the Facebook tonight. Eugene Christophe on Cyclocross. There's an entire article complete with photos from January, 1921.

This is of particular interest because this dude's on a single speed.  That's what I'm talking about. 

Check out the article, or if you're skeptical or lazy, check out this one paragraph.

-- Here, I shall answer that you preach to the choir. For a long time I have known that the general public's interest in cyclocross will attract more audience than the fifty passers-by and curious who attend our starts and finishes, that amateurs will definitely wish to participate in this easy and quite variable sport. The public will begin following the competitors; it will realize that the race is engaging and eventful, they will have a good time; the time will fly past. It is impossible that it will not develop a taste for it; it will follow other races. And, as well as people who like like to sometimes leave the road for quieter and less dusty tracks, also the amateur cyclist, enticed by cyclocross, will no longer content himself with riding up and down the monotonous and trafficky road; he will ride through the thicket as easily as the pedestrian, he will learn to handle his bike and he will see that he can pass untroubled everywhere a pedestrian ventures. He will understand that a bike should not necessarily follow the road as a train follows the railway. His admiration and love for the bicycle as a mode of locomotion, can only increase following such experiments.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cyclocross Season

This has not been my year.  I arrived home from the road a week ago last Saturday, and on my first ride back, the first day of a planned 2 week epic hiking, running, mountain biking, tubing and otherwise summer-tastic session I absolutely wrecked my right leg.  I haven't been able to do more than barely walk for two weeks.  Now I have two baby legs.  Goodbye cyclocross season.  I have not the legs nor the constitution to compete this year.  My only hope is to miraculously regain form in time for January, but really, I'm looking ahead to Ski Season.

If you're in the Nashville area, you're psyched.  A bunch of local races and the big dance, the USGP in Louisville:

U.S. gran prix of cyclocross from Jim Fryer/BrakeThrough Media on Vimeo.

I'll be there, though I won't know until the last minute if I'm racing, which is the best way to do the USGP anyway. Last row and no knowledge of the course makes for super fun racing. Cross your fingers, get out your wrenches and start doing intervals... this is going to hurt. You.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Urban Farms

This summer we've been playing music, traveling, sitting in the river, and gardening.  Our sublet's backyard is a shared garden.  Fortunately we share it with our good friends so we've all been sharing in the maintenance and reward.  I had a productive garden years ago in Durango.  I've got a picture of me with hair down below my shoulders, a big scraggly beard, holding some carrots and other various produce, giving a thumbs up or some other equally stony symbol.

I've dabbled in gardening the last few summers but I'm away from it too much to really do it right.  I planted a grape vine that had a mind of it's own and is surely feeding the birds of Nashville as I write this.  This summer's garden is simple, but I was floored when I showed up at a friends house for a gig the other day and his dad has successfully converted his yard and several other neighbors yards into farms.  Literally a Neighborhood CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or NSA called the Flatiron Neighborhood Farm.  I started to do some research and discovered the guy who gets credit for inventing the idea, Kipp Nash of Community Roots Boulder.  I think the idea is brilliant:  Take grassy or otherwise landscaped yards and convert them into highly productive micro-farms then distribute food through a NSA.  The people who's yards are converted can eat out of their garden and on very small pieces of land there can be immense amounts of food grown.  It's fresh and doesn't require energy to transport, assuming the NSA members are truly in the neighborhood.  I think it's great.  Check it out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How's Your Air?

What color is your air?  Check it out, I bet you can see it.  Did you notice before? Weird, right?  Has it always been that way?  Is it just dust?  Hot gas expelled by machines and livestock?  I can't figure it out.  I don't really remember being able to so clearly see so much air 5 years ago when we started this band and started roaming around the country.  I remember Virginia was green in the summer compared to Colorado.  I think the sky was blueish.  Now it's grayish.  Multi-hued grayish with tints of yellow.  Everything's brown in VA and it's all green and wet in CO.   I think something's up.  I'm not sure who's right or who's wrong, I can't exactly tell who to believe and it's hard to know what's true.  But it's hot and the air's gray.  I can see it and I can taste it and it's weird.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Heat and Grey Air

It's hot. Yesterday in Tupelo, heat index was up around 108 during our set. Looking forward to the next run through MT and CO, should be a little cooler up there.

In other news, we're shopping for a box truck to replace the trailer. We're trying to move toward a smaller footprint when we tour, and the new vehicle will be able to run on bio-diesel. We've also started a recycling program in our van and we've cut our landfill destined waste in half. Moving around the country I've been shocked at the hue of the air. It's getting pretty grey out there. Let us know if you have any ideas about what we can do to reduce our footprint.

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, August 6, 2010

Case of the Van

-- Post From The White Torpedo

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Greenway Expansion and a New Fork

I was riding back from an appointment on Thursday, taking my usual route through Sylvan Park, and was shocked to see new Greenway being built along my route.

In spite of all of the added burden to the cities budget brought on by the flooding, they've apparently opted to continue with the scheduled greenway projects.  Way to go Nashvegas.  Maybe I can live here after all.  This section, unfortunately, runs parallel to some really nice neighborhood roads so it's not going to help bike commuters much, but it does run along the golf course so it'll be a nice section. 

In my ongoing quest to rehabilitate my Baby Leg, I got the geared bike out a few weeks ago and decided that I had to remedy the fork issue.  Previously the geared bike had a suspension corrected fork on it, but I discovered (almost immediately) that it didn't need one.  It felt like riding a chopper.  So I stopped by Biker's Choice and got them to throw on a $30 rigid fork they had lying around.  Works great, looks ok.
For sake of comparison, here's a shot with the old fork:
It's a subtle difference, but it handles a lot better now and will be even more noticeable when I hit the trails out in Colorado.  Riding a 26er, geared, rigid bike isn't really what I had in mind for my summer, but it'll have to do until I get my knee back 100%.  Hopefully after the summer is over it will still be alive and will achieve its destiny as an XtraCycle.  Went for the longest ride since the injury yesterday and it felt great.  I followed that up with a long walk to get some dinner, then realized I'd locked myself out of the house.  This happens to me sometimes. 

Trying now to decide which of the Specialized CruX cyclocross bikes to get.  The Alloy frame is sweet and affordable but the sponsor wants me to get the carbon.  I've got a standing rule that I can't spend more that $1000 on a bike, no matter how I slice it, this one's going over budget.

Headed West tonight.  So psyched to breath some clean air and spend some time in some hip communities (Flagstaff, Santa Cruz, Grass Valley, Big Sky, Lyons).  This is going to be a great summer.

Trying to get everything packed and ready in time to squeeze in another short ride this afternoon.  Forecast looks pretty good in about an hour and a half, so the timing may work out perfectly.  Gotta work on the "brace tan."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Reading

Summer's finally arrived. Out of the dregs of a spring spent just trying to walk, I'm back to more normal activities. This week I took about 50 books into McCay's and turned them into Summer Reading Gold. I've gotten away from novels, not because I think they're a waste of time, but because I find myself empathizing with the characters and obsessing over plot. When I catch myself daydreaming, on-stage, about a character in a book I'm reading, I know it's time to put it down and engage in something with a little more utility. Food, Economics, Social Theory, the Outdoors and Yoga are my main topics of interest. I hope it's not too pretentious, but I wanted to share my summer reading list:

A couple by the Dalai Lama, the king of joy, some opposing viewpoints on the state of the world, several volumes on yoga, some straight up travel writing (I like to stash the Best Of series under the benches in the van, and it was only $1.50!) and ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes' autobiography.  There's a little too much about the state of the world, I'll need to balance it with some lighter fare, but that'll come around on the road I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Heat Theory

It's getting hot. Time to test my Heat Theory, in which I theorize that by getting out and getting maximum heat exposure in the hottest part of the day, for example by running shirtless in the sun on asphalt at 2pm, the body is trained to function at a higher temperature, thereby rendering all other parts of the day more bearable, especially when at rest. This is dangerous, it requires a lot of fluids, but I think it works. I don't have the luxury of running (luxury of running?) yet, but in an effort to get there by the 12 week mark (I'm at 9 weeks now), I'll be further testing the Heat Theory this afternoon with a ride to the gym (for a swim) and back.

Yesterday Sarah and I tested it with a walk to pick up the 4Runner from the oil change place and only succeeded due to a timely margarita stop. We'll see if the moving air of a ride makes it a little easier today. It's supposed to be 89 degrees at 3pm, that's pretty close to the sweet spot for testing the theory. Pray for me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Margaritas and The Leg

Went to see my Physical Therapist today. At the end of our appointment I asked him if I should plan to see him when I'm back in town in a few weeks. He indicated that it seemed like I was doing fine and probably didn't need to see him again. I could take this one of two ways:
1. My progress is so great and consistent that he really doesn't need to see me anymore. Or...
2. My incessant questions are no longer worth the exorbitant fee he charges my insurance company. "When you say 12 weeks, do you mean 12 weeks?"
I'm assuming it's the former.

So to celebrate I spent the day outside, walking back from dropping the 4Runner (Foreigner) off at the oil change place, mowing the grass, cutting down bamboo, and walking back to pick the 4Runner (Foreigner) up from the oil change place before heading to Tequilas for margaritas (again). Happy Hour comes once a day and lasts for more than an hour, kids.

Sarah leaves tomorrow and I've got a couple days of full-on bachelorhood before I head west for the summer. I'm trying to throw away or sell everything in sight that's less than very useful. The rule is if I haven't used it for it's intended purpose in the last year and/or wouldn't pack it in a moving truck headed for Colorado it goes in the pile. Liberating? Indeed. Now all I need is a bigger garbage can.

Life is so mellow here in Suburbia. Can't wait to head west. I have friends with more interesting lives than mine. They're the Coyle's. You may now replace my blog with theirs. Good on ya, Ed and Katie, can't wait to kick back on the ranch for a few days next month. Don't give that .22 back to your neighbor just yet.

Walk on Water


Friday, May 28, 2010

On being "Pro," and First Ride

I read something in CXMagazine yesterday (whilst perched upon the throne that is my bathroom toilet) that resonated with me and occupied most of my thoughts throughout the evening (in spite of 3 margaritas on that patio at my favorite restaurant and a rousing performance by my homies Bearfoot at the Station Inn).  It was an article about film maker Brian Vernon but it descended briefly into a tritise on pro infatuation and the resulting Anti-Pro movement (it's not a movement, really, but since I was having one at the time I was reading it I got a little confused and mixed up my experiences).  Basically acting pro, but being an ameteur, is strange.  Like my favorite video so eloquently points out, if you're not getting paid to do it, there's no reason to act like you are.  I had this pseudo-revelation last season when, about midway through my "base mileage" period, I looked down at my "training journal" and realized that I had no reason to waste my time keeping a "training journal."  What was I "training" for?  How many great rides or hikes or whatever had I missed because I was following what Joe Friel told me to do?  Now, I like Joe, and his book is awesome, if you follow the Cyclists Training Bible you will get fast, you will also lead a boring, one-dimensional life.  (I will admit, however, that time spent with this volume still influences my riding, and there's a ton of useful information in there, Joe's the man, but it gets a little over the top.  See Favorite Video above).  I'm just a part-time Single Speed Cyclocross Racer/Musician/Beer Enthusiast/whole lot of other things that don't even need to be made a part of this "identity" that I've conjured up, what business do I have checking my resting heart rate every morning?  I closed the "training journal" and haven't opened it since, choosing instead to do whatever I want whenever I want.  20 mile mountain bike ride the day before a race?  Sure!  Make it 30! (I won that race, incidentally).  10 beers?  Why not?  Hairy legs, purple tights, 10 year old helmet, camelbak?  HELL YEAH!! 

I threw all this "Pro-like training" out the window, rode where I wanted, when I wanted (when the weather and schedule allowed, really) and actually got faster and enjoyed my life more.  I beat guys with white bar tape (seriously, white bar tape?  It's fucking cyclocross.  Why don't you wear a damn wedding dress?).  I showed up late, didn't pre-ride, and warmed up in the grass (seriously, dude, what are you doing riding the indoor trainer outdoors in a parking lot?  Seriously!) and still crushed it. I don't understand the phenomenon of looking/acting "Pro." I don't get super expensive bikes, $1000 spare wheel sets or matching pit bikes.  I guess if that's how you want to spend your money or that's what yanks your crank that's cool too.  It'd be a lot more enjoyable for everyone if we just acted like normal people, turned ourselves inside out and worked less, rode more, laughed at the absurdity of cross and generally ditched the attitude.

On the other hand who am I to question your motives.  If I had tons of cash, I might buy a super expensive bike too (Vanilla understands black bar tape and custom handmade bikes receive immunity from my rant).  As long as you're out there riding and racing and participating, that's cool.  Just don't be surprised when the hippy on the $600 single speed crushes you, he's been out riding while you've been in your basement wrapping your handlebars with new white bar tape.  Because otherwise I have no pictures, I will post a photo of fellow blogger, and admitted Demi-Pro Thom.  I read his blog every day.  I've got issues, too.  He added the Dork, not me.

On a more personal note, went on my first ride since January 31st (when I beat like, 1 dude at the State Championships).  Just a little back and forth on the completely flat and completely sun-soaked Metro Center Greenway.  It was awesome.  Lighting was terrible and it was the Metro-Center Greenway so there wasn't anything worth photographing.  Brace chafes a little, to be expected, and pinches my already expanding leg, but I shouldn't complain.  Later that night I got frisky coming up my basement stairs, tripped, and absolutely drilled my bum knee into the top, un-carpeted stair, slicing it open and scaring the shit out of me.  All's well, however, since my knee is now super-bionic.  Should have taken a picture.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Whip or A Sad Realization

Things have been pretty ho hum over here.  None of the usual fun and games.  Not even much unusual fun and games.  The leg is improving, day by day.  Back on the bike starting today, no standing allowed, only seated and no hills (is that really riding a bike?).  Got hooked up with this sweet Donjoy leg brace.
As you can see it contorts my leg in strange ways and looks very very hip.  I like to stay ahead of the hipness curve.  I was supposed to get a custom brace (only thing custom is the color, apparently) but my insurance company balked (imagine that) and stuck me with a standard off-the-shelf unit.  Such is life.  At least I can ride and hike.  The standing up can wait a few weeks/months and the pushing around of one gear will have to wait even longer.  My Physical Therapist recommends I skip cyclocross season.  I seriously considered finding a new PT when he espoused that advice, but I understand where he's coming from.  It's an 18 month recovery for the ACL and even if everything goes well I'll be hard pressed to nail the dismounts and re-mounts with this brace on my leg (or will I?  Stay Tuned).

The only hope I have of catching cross season is a geared bike.  I was at the shop today, trying to get a new fork installed on the beater (now known as the rehab bike) and Travis showed me an as yet unreleased Cyclocross Specific bike from Specialized called the CruX.  It's badass and cheap ($1400-$1800) which means it's met all of my criteria.  Only question mark for me is the downtube cable routing.  That area always gets hammered by mud, I would have routed it on the top tube.  Comes out in July, hoping to have one bought, built and shipped to CO by the time I arrive there for Rockygrass Academy week. 

In the meantime I can get stoked about a few other things:

New Whip:
I've had my eye on my dad's 2000 4Runner ever since he got it and after he saw the condition of the Carolla, he drew the line and made us take it.  I think he just wanted an excuse to get a new one.  Now I've got my eye on that one.  I see a pattern emerging.  The point is I've got a serious rig again, something I can drive over things with and fit a bunch of crap in without risking breakdown.  Sarah's basically made it her own so most of the time I'm stuck driving our '93 Tercel, but I plan to get a trunk rack for it and that baby hauls ass and gets 40+ mpg so I can't complain. 

Three days a week I've been hammering out laps in the pool.  I'm finally getting where I can swim without investing every ounce of focus on the act of not drowning and can actually slow down and relax.  I'm getting used to the water in the ears but I'm still having a hard time getting used to the old men sitting around watching TV naked in the locker room.  I hope when I'm 60 I have something better to do than watch other men change.

It's no secret I dig yoga, but this accident has given me some clarity about risk management.  Yoga's pretty much the safest thing I can think of and it feels absolutely incredible.  I'm even considering getting a teaching certification at this place.   Seriously.  I know what you're thinking, and yes, I will wear a leotard and smell like scented oil.  It's not that different from wearing bike shorts and embrocation and certainly no stranger than racing Cyclocross.

Weight Loss:
I lucked out and didn't put on any weight these last few months.  I actually lost 15 lbs, most in the form of muscle, but at least I have a decent starting point and I'm optimistic I'll be able to keep it around 175 through the summer.  The swimming and yoga are helping, the one beer per night rule is helping, going semi-vegetarian is helping (helping a lot of things, actually).  The lack of long runs, long hikes or long rides (long anything) and constant touring (I've been on the road since the first week of February) is not helping.

Free Time to Clean House:
Sarah and I are spending July/August in Colorado.  We decided to do it and we're making it happen.  It's strange how things that seem so far-fetched fall into place when you decide you're going to do it, no exceptions.  This coincides perfectly with the delivery of the new bike (whatever it's called) and the green light from my PT to run again.  The timing couldn't be better as July/August absolutely blows in Nashville.  This may precipitate a permanent move, time will tell, but we're treating the next two weeks like we're moving so I've put a mess of bike parts up for sale and a massive Craigslist campaign and garage sale will follow.  Hopefully this will free up some capital (for the bike) and free up my mind from all the crap we've accumulated.

The Infamous Stringdusters
We put out our new record, Things That Fly, in April and things are flying.  Shows are selling out, crowds are going crazy and the band is achieving new levels of musical freedom onstage and personal enjoyment offstage.  It's all coming together.  Now if I could take a bike on tour and take Cyclocross Season off, I would want for nothing else.

The Festy Experience
The Dusters are throwing our own Festival in October on the Concert Grounds at Devils Backbone Brewery outside Charlottesville, VA.  Music, Beer and Outdoor Lifestyle all collide in this weekend event over Columbus Day Weekend.  There's even a Mountain Bike race and a Trail Run that weekend less than a mile away.  This is perfection.  It has it all and this is only half the lineup!  Tickets go onsale June 11th...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cyclocross Singlespeed Pro

So I was browsing the CXMagazine Forum yesterday, something I like to do occasionally, and I came upon a question/topic that it turns out is right up my alley.  Under the heading CX Singlespeed Pro, a guy asked, "If you wanted to compete with the "geared" folks and were in amazing shape, what set-up would you use."  I crafted a response, ended up writing an article, and a few people found it really valuable.  I figured since I wrote it and hadn't posted anything to this blog in awhile, I'd reproduce it here for your benefit.  It's long winded, consider yourself warned:

I don't consider myself in "amazing" shape by any stretch of the imagination, but I do compete on a SS against the local 1's and 2's with some success. All I can share is what I've figured out through experience as there's not really anyone else around me that I've seen racing SS against the geared guys (I don't live in a hotbed, a 10 person local field in the 1's 2's race is a large field). I think that's probably because everyone assumes that you're at a major disadvantage, but for a variety of reasons, I don't think that's necessarily the case.

Setup-wise, there's nothing exceptional about my bike, it's not even expensive (or that light). I've got a Specialized Tri-Cross Singlecross with the following modifications:
I run a 39x18 which is smaller than the SS hammerheads, but makes it possible to ride short or moderate inclines and in mud for an hour. Obviously I work on legspeed for the pavement sections, usually only an issue at the start, and rarely find myself unable to keep up.
I built some simple wheels (surly hubs laced to Open Sport rims) changed tires (panaracer cross-blasters are cheap, light and fast, though narrow, so watch out for those submerged rocks, Pinch Flatington) and will soon be replacing the V-Brakes, but that doesn't really have anything to do with it being a SS.
The other significant modification I made was switching from a 175 to a 170mm crank arm length. My SS mountain bike has 170's and I was used to it, that's why I made the change, but I think it helps with the legspeed thing, and makes it easier to get the crankarm up and over the weakspot in my pedal stroke when I'm really in the shit (like deep mud, 180 degree turns or hills). It also allows me more clearance in the corners, crucial since you're pedaling more and need to get on the gas earlier coming out of corners to get on top of the gear. That's another reason I run a 39 x18, I get up into the sweetspot of my powerband a lot easier and spend more time cruising comfortably than the 42x18 mashers.

The most important thing, though, is your mental state. That's where it's at when you have gears too, (clearly if you're thinking of going SS you KNOW the bike doesn't really matter that much) but it's even more important without them. When you pull up on the starting line, remember; your opponents think you're dumb, crazy, and possibly tough as nails. You want to encourage this thinking. I wear a camelbak during warmup because you wont be drinking for 60 minutes once it starts, no one else does it, everyone should and because it makes me look like I have no clue. I always keep it breezy in the start area, crack some jokes, make fun of myselfand wear outdated clothing. All of these things confuse your opponents and make it hard for them to know what to make of you. If they can't figure out why you dress/behave like you do, it'll be more difficult for them to factor you into their strategy or respond confidently when you attack (which you have to do at some point). They already know you're going to have to ride the course a little differently, but when you don't behave like they expect a "serious cross racer" to behave before you even start pedaling, it'll be even tougher for them to know what to do with you around the 50 minute mark.

Once the race starts stay relaxed. Smile. If anyone's acting sporadically or spazmatically, make fun of them a little. Serious cross guys (especially the roadie types) don't like to be made fun of by the weirdo on the singlespeed when they're getting all squirelly in the first 3 minutes. Spin circles, breath deeply, laugh out loud a little, make more jokes, pretend you're out on a frisky group ride. Observe how the geared guys approach the course. They'll slow down on the hills (it's natural to bail yourself out if you can) you slow down with them. When they go fast on the smooth downhill sections, stick right in there as if it's no thing at all. Tell yourself you can spin at 140 RPM "forever" and believe it. Pick your spots to make your moves but don't let on where you're going to crush them later by coasting past them, or punching it up a tricky short hill. Let them think you're just barely managing to stay with them. This of course isn't true because one speed isn't really slower. Stay near the front, pick your spot and break their hearts. Nothing worse than getting passed by a laughing, crazy, happy, lunatic going really fast on a singlespeed while you're turning yourself inside out. It's really tough to recover from an attack from a singlespeed at the 50 minute mark. Especially from a guy in Purple tights circa 1995.

Now, every other race, particularly ones with climbing, you will blow up and be an absolute non-factor. That's cool, you were on a SS in the Main Event, no one expected you to be a factor. Have a beer and congratulate everyone that beat you, that's part of riding with one gear too.

Of course none of this applies if you're trying to race against National pros. Those guys are just damn fast. Semi-regional too. Cat 2 is going to pit you against the big guns in local races (we have a 1,2 combined race here) and allow you to be competitive at the bigger National-type races (in the 2,3 category). Can you imagine trying to ride a SS against Tim Johnson? That would be ugly. I'm dumb but I'm not delusional and I wouldn't bet on a SS against TJ if Lance himself was riding it with a head start.

When you're on a SS, your bike is more efficient and gets more efficient as the race wears on and mud accumulates. You're forced to ride as efficiently as possible for the sake of momentum. I've never dropped a chain, never been in the wrong gear, never even had to devote one iota of mental energy and focus (at a premium in a 60 minute session) to deciding what gear I want to be in, I just pedal as efficiently as possible and stay on top of the gear I've got (which, you'll find, is going to make you ride pretty fast around the course). SS has it's advantages; use them to yours.

You also will want to make sure that being extra uncomfortable is something you're into because 60 minutes against the fastest geared guys around isn't going to feel very good until it's over.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tour with The Baby Leg

Progress. It comes in baby steps. Especially when you have what I call "my baby leg." I'm lucky. 12 days after surgery I was walking. 15 days after I was able to negotiate an airport and rock a show. The pain is still real, but it's more fatigue than pain, but the discomfort is real. I'm lucky, already over the crutches hump, walking, and working/living. Life is good. I'm starting to think cyclocross season isn't out of the question.

Baby Leg:

-- Post From My iPhone