Monday, April 27, 2009

did i mention the mug?

As you can see by the fine self portrait, this mug is roughly the size of my head. Which means that its capacity is similar to that of my brain, and that, good amigos, allows me to drink brain sized amounts of coffee every morning. 

But more importantly, the mug is inscribed with a large blue bear, the ancient deity of window shopping. 


In other news, slime tubes are just terrible. I’m not sure what the good people at Slime intended their green mess to do, but if it was coat an unsuspecting cyclists hands in florescent snot, they were successful. 

But honestly, I would rather fill my tires with feces. I mean they're really quite awful. I'll explain tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

slue bkys

I'm still a little annoyed by last night's situation, but I'll get over it. I can't decide if I should write a letter to the local police department to tell them how their (my, our) officers treat citizens. Oh wells.

I did get out for an hour on the road today, and it was fantastic. 60 degrees, blue skys, and a slight breeze. It was the kind of day that let me shut out the Jeep that blared it's horn while passing, and the Porsche that felt the need to rev it's engine and shoot by at 70 mph. Ahhhhhh. Bliss.

In other news, I would give my left nostril (only the functional part. I wouldn't want my nose to look funny) to replace every road with single track. 

My bike setup, and more specifically, my method of carrying stuff on my bike setup, needs to get itself straightened out. But I'm not holding my breath on that one. So I guess I will have to straighten it out myself. 

I need to get a saddle bag that actually holds things, and a multi tool that isn't sitting on a trail somewhere in big bear lake. I do still technically own that muti tool, so purchasing a new one is going to hurt all the more. Its frustrating for me to own something, but not be allowed to use it just because I lost it.

Other than losing all my stuff, I think I finally have everything else worked out on my bike. The 50mm stem is the best thing that I've put on my steerer tube. It makes it so so much easier to float over rock gardens, and I can keep more traction on the back wheel when I stand and climb. Muy bueno it is. I've reverted to using broken Spanish to fill space. That's my brain's way of telling me it has nothing more to say. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I was going to try to extend my big bear classic recollections tonight (although I've probably written about the race for longer than I raced the race.) But a very kind police man gave me a new topic. 

My commute home from work is about two miles long, and all down hill. In the two miles, there are five traffic lights. The lights are incredibly worthless at night, and do nothing except stop the flow of traffic and waste time. The lights really should just be turned off from 9pm to 6am.
On my way home tonight, I pedaled through one red light. I slowed to make sure no cars were coming, (there never are anyway), and went on through. I was under the assumption that cyclists were permitted to treat a red light as a stop sign. Apparently, I was mistaken.

Half a mile later, a police car turns on his lights and shoots in front of me, parking half way on the sidewalk. The officer gets out of his car and shouts "So what, you don't think you have to obey the rules of the road? Think you can just blow through red lights? Is it gona mess up you 'pace' to stop?" I explained to him that I had read it was permissible for a cyclist to use a traffic signal as a stop sign.
"Ohhh that's what ya read did you? Well were'd you read that?"
"I can't remember" I said
"Oh so you can't remember. So which one is it? You can't remember or you read it?"
"I read it somewhere."
"Well were did you read it?"
I told him again that I couldn't remember. The conversation continued like this for at least one more 'where?' 'cant remember.' cycle. He then proceeded to tell me that if I did it again I would be fined $110 and get points on my drivers licence.

That's $110 AND points on my drivers licence. For riding a bike. He then said "And if you want to doubt me, I'll give you the fine and ticket right now." I said I didn't doubt him.
But here's the PA bike code.

Section 3502. Penalty for violation of subchapter.
Any person violating any provision of this subchapter is guilty of a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $10.

$10 is a little weee bit less severe. But I was also wrong. A bike is subject to the same rules as a car in PA. Which I think is ridiculous, but I guess I'll have to follow the law until its changed. I just do not think the police man had to be such a dick about it. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

following the bear

In my long seven months of being a mountain cycle racer, 4th at the Big Bear Classic was my first good finish. I felt like a completely different rider than the one who struggled through the Month of Mud series last fall. At Big Bear I was pinning the turns, hammering on the climbs, and actually descended pretty damn well. But I still did I few things that were incredibly stupid. They were mistakes that I will not make again.

DO NOT stop to tighten a saddle bag.

My bag was loose. I lost my multi tool. I was angry, and I shall explain. My saddle bag was home made by me. Being the creator of the bag, I am totally at fault for its failure. I really did do a bad job making the thing. After bouncing down a big hill about ten miles into the race, I noticed it was flopping around. When I stopped to tighten it, I was passed by another SS rider. Which brings me to my next point.

DO NOT get passed.

Apparently, when one places well at a mountain bike race, they are paid. I won $50 for fourth place. This is a foreign concept for me. The most I have ever received at a running race is a medal and some pride. When I let those SS by me, I had no idea that I was in effect letting a few dollars fly away down the trail. Which brings me to my next point.

Riding rigid sucks. kinda. (I'm gonna keep doing this one anyway.) And I haven't a clue how that last point brought me to this point. 

I was hurting on some of the downhills without suspension. I imagine that a lost a fair amount of time by being bounced all over the place. But when I crossed the finish line many a person was impressed (or shocked by my stupidity) that I had ridden that course rigid. I guess I have to ask myself if riding suspension free is worth it (it being about $500, the cost of a new suspension fork (and I know I'll feel like a wuss with a squishy fork.)(and they don't make a lime green Reba.) (look how many curvy lines this sentence has accumulated!)(Yay!)))) 

Monday, April 20, 2009

big bear classic race report

The Bowl and I met at walmart at around 8:00 to head to the big bear race. (big bear, race. not to be confused with a race of large furry mammals)(although some of the SS racers could be described as large furry mammals.) But anyway. Enough parenthetical use. Back on topic.

The Bowl and I left walmart at 8:10 for the big race. We headed down the long and winding road to Bruceton Mills, WV full of anticipation, coffee, and eggs. I forgot the directions.
We reached Bruceton Mills without much incident, and having forgotten the cue sheet prepared by the lovely people at google maps, I had to try to recall what the Big Bear Campground instructions said. After much meditation I remembered what was written. It was: "look for signs to campground." So look we did.

We searched and searched but could not find a single sign. The inability to read signs would prove to be Bowl's downfall later in the day. Finally I stopped at a gas station and asked for directions. "Go dawn to road ta hazleton and follow the signs. But I'm not to good with directions." said the attendant. A ha! My memory had served me. We were supposed to follow the signs... they were just in a town six miles from where we were.

We finally arrived at the campground with one hour to race time. We unloaded the Grumbler, and since Bowl had never ridden a mountain bike before, he pedaled around the parking lot in an attempt to familiarize himself with his new steed.

The Start
Experts lined up first, with the SS group starting 15 seconds behind. I stood near the back of the pack, assuming that I would finish the same. The man on the line said "Go!" and the experts were off. The SS class started rolling up, and after what I'm guessing was about 5 to 45 seconds, we left as well.

We shot across 200 meters of open field before being funneled into the woods. I tried for the hole shot, but since I had lined up in the back, it was impossible. The first mile of the course was tight and smooth single track with almost no room to pass. Things were getting a little jammed up and I tried to get around people, but I was racing a little conservatively at that point.

When we left the little tree patch the course opened into a longish fire road climb. I gunned it and passed a huge portion of the pack. The trail slowly narrowed down, but I stayed on the gas and kept passing. I was feeling good.

The Meat of the Bear
At the top of the climb, I latched onto a blue (I think) jerseyed man's wheel and we started chasing the rider in front of us. I eventually passed blue jersey man and caught the red and white clothed guy ahead of me. The trail was still pointing up, but big embedded rocks were becoming more numerous. 

I got into a rhythm and kept pushing, trying to catch a Speedgoat rider that was off in the distance. The course was twisty and rocky, there was never a dull moment, and I felt like I was riding great. After a while I started to notice that most of the guys around me were running gears. I had not seen a SS in a while. I assumed that I was way behind.

The trail was still climbing, and I knew in the back of my mind that I was eventually going to have to descend. I tried not to think about it, because I knew that it was going to be an arm pumping death fest without front suspension. The trail smoothed out and leveled off with some nice bermed corners and swoopy sections through a pine forest. Then, finally, it pointed down.

And it pointed down steeply. The smooth dirt turned into a mess of leaves and loose chunk rock about the size of softballs. It sucked. My arms were dieing and my hands could barely hold the bars. I was getting bounced in every direction and I could hear the big rocks shooting up and smacking my frame. It was all I could do to keep the bike on the trail.

I made it around the first two big turns switchbacks, but on the third I lost it. I was going to fast, and my front wheel was bouncing to much. I careened off the side of the trail. Two experts and one SS shot past.

I hopped back on my bike and started wobbling down the trail. That little slide really took me out of it mentally. I tried to catch the guys who passed me, but they kept getting farther away.

A few minutes later, I was able to collect myself and get back in the race. On a little climb, I re- passed one racer and got back in my groove. For the next few rocky miles, I rode alone.

Pretty soon I realized that my homemade saddle bag was loose. I grabbed it and realized with a start, that my multi tool had jumped out. Yarg! I privately screamed. I tried to keep riding, but the loose saddlebag was driving me nuts. I did not want to lose anything else. So I stopped to tighten it. A SS trucked on by. I got on my bike and started chasing him. At least now I had someone to race.

Finishing Blow
I saw trailers off to my right and realized that we were getting very close to the finish. My legs and hands began feeling better and I pushed hard to stay with the guy that I just let pass. We hit a little fire road and I caught him, but when the trail turned back to a rocky single track descent, he pulled away. Damn people and their squishy forks.

We shot back across the damn and down the fire road that we started on. I sprinted hard to make up a little time, but he was rolling down the hill faster than me. We crossed the line and I got off and started drinking some water. I was mighty parched. The 16 mile course had not let up enough for me to drink more than a few times.

I looked around me, and there were not any single speeds, other than the racer who edged me out. I started to wonder where I finished.

I walked over the the score board they had set up and started watching for my name. Eventually it showed up.
Miller, Montana 4th SS
Holy crap! 4th! Which meant that if I would not have stopped to tighten my saddlebag, I might have been third. And before I slid off the trail, I was in second! I had no idea that I was that close to the front. I was stoked.

Meanwhile, Bowl had still not made it back from his eight mile beginner race. I started getting a little worried. But since awards would start soon, I headed to the building.

45 minutes later, and two hours after he started his 8 mile race, Bowl walked in, covered in mud, blood trickling down his shin. "Where the hells were you?" I asked. "I took a detor." was his reply.

They started giving awards, and I was given a big mug (with a small bear on it) and fifty dollars. First prize money I've ever won. Huzzah!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

bears attack turkey

4th in the SS expert class at the Big Bear Classic today. Im happy as a chicken in a blender :D (chickens like blenders.) Race report to follow

Friday, April 3, 2009

top o' the pile

I won't say that I neglected to go some where that I should have gone yesterday, but I did go somewhere that I wanted to be, even though I should not have been there. But that's neither here nor there.
I drove (yes drove I say. new transportation has been acquired. more on that latter.) out to Ohiopyle for a ride in the multiple mountains. I say multiple because there is more than one mountain. Mind blowing, I know.

From Worthless Garbage

Pretty eh? Photo credit goes to someone who has never met me, and certainly is not me

For those of you out of the know, the pile is next to this place:

From Worthless Garbage

Though I can't say I've ever been there (this picture also pirated)

But anyway. The ride. The ride was good.

From Worthless Garbage

(Clicky make more biggy. My route is outlined by the multicolored lines. I changed colors every time I changed direction. Just to keep it interesting. Ya know. And no, I did not ride the magical pink arrows.)

Every trail in Ohiopile either goes up a mountain, or comes down a mountain. That of course excludes the (im)famous rail trail. I started in town and worked my way over to Great Gorge. GG is just full of rootles and rocks, and I must admit I had to walk a large portion of it. At the top I turned left and headed over to the scenic Kentuck overlook. The overlook more than lives up to its name (scenic, not kentuck. I don't know what a kentuck is.) It would have been a perfect spot for a picture had I brought a camera.
I headed back down Kentuck, then really down, all the way to the bottom of the other side of the mountain. After a quick roll down to the rail trail, I headed up sugar run.
Sugar Run is pretty uneventful in the upward direction, and at the top I rolled to the bottom of that mountain. And then back up (That's three mountains we've climbed so far boys and girls) On climb back I ate an uncrustable, which was quite yummy.
Coming back down Sugar Run was a little more hectic. The geography of Ohiopyle is really strange. There are a lot of rocks, just like Laural mountain, but unlike Laural, all the rocks are loose, and about the size of baseballs. On a steep, loose part of one decent, my front wheel hit one of the aforementioned baseballs, and bounced off. Since I was indirectly attached to said wheel, I nearly bounced off of my cycle. I ended up straddling the bike with one leg on a log and the other on one of the rolly rocks. I'm not sure how I manged not to leave part of my face on those rocks.
At the base of the hill I turned onto the rail trail, and pedaled it back into town. The three or so miles I spent on it were more than enough to remind me of my immense disdain for crushed limestone paths.
My final ascent of the day was up Sugar Loaf. The loaf is steep, long, and just filled with loose rocks. Near the top I turned around and coasted (after a bone jarring descent) back to the parking lot. Total ride time was 4:01. Hurray!