Thursday, May 28, 2009


Yes this is an incredibly lazy post. But think of it as an opportunity to get to know me better. My soon to be submitted WVMBA profile:

Montana Miller       

Greensburg, PA


Racing Class.
Single Speed

Favorite preparation method for coffee.
Espresso with a touch of milk

Oldest piece of cycling equipment that you're still using.
1980’s BCA frame. It’s almost 11 years older than me.

Favorite color.
Lime green


All American Paintball Park

Twin Six

Favorite Race Course. and why.

Big Bear. The rocks remind me of Laurel Mountain where I learned to ride.

Current bike you are riding.
Suspension free Niner One9

Fixed gear BCA

Career Highlight or favorite moment on a bike?
Not enough of a career to highlight yet. But the time I rode my unicycle to work was nifty. There were plenty of open mouths and shouts of encouragement from the driving types.

Favorite food.
Pancakes and cereal

Favorite movie.
Revenge of the Pink Panther

What is on your iPod right now?
Some dust and a pile of papers.

And a little Swedish power metal.  Nothing gets the heart pounding like a few thrashing, out of tune Swedes. 

What year did you start racing?
Fall 2008

If you could take your bike and ride anywhere on the planet where would you go?
I’d do a tour around Europe and down into Italy to play a few games of bocce. It would be swell.

Your hero?
Will Kellogg  

29" or 26"?

Lance or Lemond?
My moneys on Lemond in a fight, but I’d rather take Lance to dinner.

Would you eat an earth worm for $100?

Hells yeah. Deep fried or in a salad?

Favorite bike you have ever owned?
My N
iner. It’s a pretty color plows over small children with aplomb.

Shout out!...

Thundercats! Hoooo!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

hot french toast

I really want to get out to the Creek to Peak race in Elanor this weekend, because it looks like a really sweet course. Lots of climbing, plenty of switchbacks, and from what I can gather from descriptions of the 12hr that just happened out there, plenty of rocks. But Elanor is four hours away as the Grumbler grumbles, and grumble gas is expensive. Meh.

From Drop Box
I hate this headset. It is the bane of my commuting existence. It sucks. Did I mention that I don't like it? 

It refuses to stay tight for more than 200 miles, after which the fork begins to wobble under braking. Then when I try to tighten it the fork binds up when I turn. And I thought that threaded headsets were supposed to be more bombproof than threadless. Bollocks.

I really need to ditch the whole thing and get a crosscheck fork and 1" threadless.

In other, more joyous news, I made the picture section of the Tour de Lake, here, and here. (and no, i did not intend to hyperlink that entire sentence.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

across the hills

I put in abute 61 miles and 2 pounds of beef this memorial day weekend. (45 on Saturday, 0 on Sunday, and 18 on Monday. i keed about the beef. but i did eat a lot of cupcakes.)

Saturdays ride was something I've been meaning to do for a long time. Many moons ago, a friend informed me that it was possible to start at Laural Mountain and ride to Hidden Valley and Seven Springs ski resort. The road, it was said, was dirty. 

I had never really looked into the actual route one would have to take until Friday. But when I did check my handy all inclusive map of the Forbes State Forest system, it became clear that a route to the ski areas would rather simple to follow.

Bright and early on Saturday (2 pm) I loaded up the Grumbler and headed for the mountain. I parked at the far end of the park's parking area, and started toward Beam Run Trail. Along with being a mountain bike route, the trail is still an active logging road.

From Drop Box
Hurray for the Burea of (de)Forestry!

I kept trundling along the trail until I came to a section of exposed slate.

From Drop Box

At first I rode passed the big rock, but I had to turn around. I raised my fist in the air, shouted "Tally Ho!" and charged up and down the thing, pretending that I was in Moab. Good fun.

After Beam Run, I took a few connecting fire roads, some that I had never been on, and rode down to a little bridge that crosses over the turnpike. If that turnpike did not exist, Forbes would be a nice, uninterrupted stretch of wilderness. But I guess somebody is in a hurry to get somewhere.

Beyond the bridge (which is a bitch to get a bike across. stupid bike/ horse control barriers) I had never ridden on any of the trails. It felt really good to be unsure of where I was. It was uncharted territory, (although I was carrying a chart of the territory) and all of it was mine to explore. I think that is something that has been missing in my cycling. I've been so focused on the ride, that I have forgotten about the destination. It felt like an accomplishment when I came off the mountain trails and rolled into Hidden Valley. Maybe some bike packing is in my future.

I reversed my course without an issue, and instead of riding Beam Run, took some of the technical single track through Laural Mountain. I rolled up to the Grumbler with a flat tire, and 45 miles in 4ish hours. My average was 11 mph for the day. I think I'll be ready for the Stoopid 50.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

things i brought home from the tour de lake

An extra large t shirt (used as a rag at the race) to fit (or not) my decidedly small torso

One cut

From 2009-05-18

And one large boo boo

From 2009-05-18

Some less than half-assed photos courtesy of the lady bear

From 2009-05-18

(the bear in question)

From 2009-05-18

(you can see my lime green fork wayyy in the back of this one. clicky for big)

From 2009-05-18

(no, this bicycle race is not on the water)

From 2009-05-18

(hellooo back there! this camera has a zooom!)

And about 5 pounds of WV clay
From 2009-05-18

But I must say, it was a fun course. Kudos to those who designed it. And I swear this is my last post about this race.

From 2009-05-18

(grr. he's an angry cut.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

tour de lake follow up (or stupid shite I did durring the race)

I really did not have my best race on Sunday. It was not bad by any means, just not as good as it could have been.

I bumped my tires up to 15 psi front and 18 rear. It was way too high. I was having so much trouble keeping the wheels planted on the ground. The combination of mud, roots, and small rocks really screwed me up. If I would have had the pressure at my normal 13 psi front and 15 rear I think I would have been fine. I guess I have to run my pressure so ridiculously low because I'm a small guy on big tires. Most of my other woes stemmed from a few strokes of the pump right before the race.

I was riding like a rigamortised whistle pig for half of the race (maybe not that bad. but you get the point.) Death grip on the bars, twitchy turning ect. I was just tense. I blame the tire pressure for that one. But at about the 45 minute mark, I did get it together and smooth it out a little.

Because I was riding so tensely, I crashed hard twice (or three times. I'm actually not sure.) Depending on how many times I did go down, either 100% or 66% of my crashes were in front of the same rider. I felt really bad about that. On the first crash I slid down a set of off camber roots and into a tree. I had to stop and straighten out my stem, but he had to stop and straighten out his tacoed back wheel. After apparently using a tree to smack it straight, he caught up to me about 30 minutes later. And I proceeded to crash again. Fortunately, I didn't take him down with me and he rode on by. After the race, he told me that he knew I was going to crash on that section of roots. He said that hes crashed there dozens of times (hes apparently a local) and when I apologized for screwing up his wheel and likely his race he replied in an even WV drawl "Ohh that's fine. It's all part of the fun." Mountain bike people be nice people. 

I got lost. Or at least I thought I was lost. At one intersection, I convinced myself that I had made a wrong turn. I slowed to a crawl and shouted, "Hello? HELLO? oh boy. SHIIIT!" I got off my bike and waited. Then I got back on, crawled a few feet, and got off again. I stood for a minute, pondering, then got back on the bike and rode backwards towards the intersection. Finally a rider came along and informed me that I was in fact riding in the correct direction. The whole ordeal probably cost me three minutes.

And just so this post isn't completely self depreciating, 
Things that I did well:
Opened my gel packet a little before the race start
Climbed really well
Climbed on foot really more weller
Didn't loose or break anything

Honestly, I feel like my fitness is there. I just need to get some more race experience. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tour de Lake race report

I have to start this report by saying that the drive to Spencer is a bitch. 119 through West Virginia is honestly the worst road I've ever been on. It is full of steep hills, steeper drop offs, and 180 degree switch backs. In a little car it might have been fun, but driving on those roads for two hours in a lifted cherokee was hard work. But really, I felt bad for the cows. Every 'field' we passed was just a cleared mountain side. Cow tipping would probably be deadly in WV. I wonder how often bovine boulders come rolling down the slopes.

Anyhoo, it took us (the lady bear and I) 3.5 hours to get to the race, and nearly hit three or four small tree climbing rodents on the way. We arrived at 11:15 (race was scheduled to start at noon) and I ran up to the registration table to pay my fees. Fortunately, there were enough t-shirts left for me to chose between an XL, an XL, or a 2XL. I picked the XL.
I rushed back down to the Grumbler to get my shit together. I was going crazy trying to finish my pre-race defication, check my tire pressure, zip tie on my race number (now officially 172 since I am now an officially official WVMBA member), finish my second pre-race defication, and eat (not during the pre-race defication. that would be unsightly.) At 10 minutes to race time the promoter came strolling through the parking lot and announced that we would be starting at 12:30. I breathed a sigh of relief, and ran to the bathroom again.
The race started up a heinously steep paved/pothole/gravel climb to the parking lot. From there it took off into the woods. The mud on this side of WV was totally different than the greasy diarrhea-esc stuff at Mountwood. It was a red clay, that while managing to be slick, was also sticky enough to clog tires. Weird. On the first set of switch backs, riders were losing traction and coming off their bikes in droves. I was able to track stand behind a few of the jam ups, but I ended up getting off and pushing much of that climb. The next section of single track was even more slippery, and I was really wishing that I had run a lower gear (and wishing that I owned a lower gear to run.) 32X18 is perfect for PA, but in WV I think I would be better off with a 32X20 or 19.

The trail continued up and I passed a few people to get to the front of a little train. As soon as roots and rocks started showing up on the single track, it became painfully obvious that I had made a big mistake. Before the race I pumped my tires up a few PSI to 15 front and 18 rear in an effort to avoid rim strikes. While that seems like a pretty low pressure, I'm a small guy, and I'm riding pretty high volume tires. It was bad. I had plenty of traction on the climbs, but I could not keep my front end down in the turns. My bike was bouncing all over the place. To make matters worse, I started stressing out about the to-high pressure, and got tense.

I really stated to worry when immediately in front of me Benji Klimas hit something and endoed right into a log. He went the whole way over. I thought to myself "Damn. That sucks. It's been a while since I've done that."

About 5 minutes later, I came around a sharp rooted turn, and slid right off the roots and into the side of the hill. My little train of about five riders chugged on by. I got back on the bike a little shakily and took off in an effort to catch up. The trail looked like it should have some traction by this time, but it was still treacherous.

I almost caught the riders that passed me, and ended up with a few more guys on my back wheel. I was still tense, and trying to keep my bike on the trail over the uneven surface. Then without warning, I went down.

I hit a steep off camber section of roots and slid right off and into a tree. The rider immediately behind me ran into me and we both kept sliding. A few guys worked their way around the crash. "You alright man?" I asked the guy. Then I looked at his back wheel. "Oh shit dude. That looks bad." It was folded in half. "Oh, it'll be ok. Just gotta bend it back." I said ok, even though I had no idea how he was going to ride the rest of the race on a tacoed wheel, and took off. Ten feet later I noticed that I was turning even though I had my bars pointed straight ahead. I looked down and saw that my stem had been twisted about 45 degrees by the crash. Crapscalions. I got off the bike and took out my multi tool to straighten it out. I really should have just lowered my tire pressure right there, but of course, I didn't.

I started riding again and by now I was starting to get really stiff. I looked down at my leg and noticed it was bleeding. Before long I passed another guy riding rigid, and he started giving me coaching advice. "Just loosen up! Take those obstacles more smoothly. That's the way!" That really helped me, because I started to realize how unrelaxed I was. So thanks for the advice man.

Before long, at about 45 minutes in, I passed another SS and actually started riding a decent race. I was really making great time on the climbs and smoother sections. The trail finally opened up into a little fire road section, and I hammered up it. The course turned back into the woods and up a steep muddy run up. I caught two guys on the run up, and went past. After a long descent, the course went back across the dam and by the finish line. I started the second lap.
Before the race start, the promoters emphasised that there was a critical intersection where the course split into a first lap and second lap. I went through an intersection, and immediately assumed that I had made the wrong turn. There was no one around me. "Shit." I thought. (why do I always think of fecal matter when something goes wrong?) I kept riding for a few minutes, then stopped and got off my bike. I looked around, couldn't decide what to do then got back on. 500 feet later I got off again. I waited until the SS that I had passed a while ago caught up. "Are we gonin the right way?" I shouted. "Yeah." he replied. "You sure?" "Yeah. Turns up here." "Well dammit. Why the hell did I stop" "Dunno." he replied, "but I'll take it." He rode past.

Sure enough, the intersection was little more than 200 feet ahead. We turned right and went up a steep climb. "Damn I am such a dumbass." I shouted as I blew by the guy.

The second lap had even more climbing than the first, and the little cut in my leg was throbbing when I pedaled hard. There were so many unridable sections that at times it felt like a running race. But that worked to my benefit because I just finished track season, and I'm a pretty fast runner. I made up a lot of lost time on those hike a bike sections.

A good portion of the lap was 'fire road.' I would describe the ever climbing overgrown trail as double track, but it was smooth and I was shooting up it at almost 15mph, so I can't complain. Before long, I caught and passed Don from probikes and Steve from trek on a steep run up. (gotta love those run ups.) The course continued in an upward, muddy, running direction and I put some time in ahead of them.

Soon the trail turned back down, and I started to wonder when Don and Steve would catch back up to me. It took longer than I thought, and with about two miles to go, Steve went by. Don stayed behind me, and we were neck and neck when we came down the hill to the finish. We sprinted across the top of the dam, uttering animal noises as we struggled to pedal faster. I think he edged me out by a tire length. I'll blame it on my lack of gears (even though that wasn't the reason.) It was a good effort, kudos to him.

I finished 5th SS

Saturday, May 16, 2009

cruising to victory: part deux.1

We finally got the lady bear's sister's birthday bike finished up. It looks damn good. I would go as far as to say that its one of the coolest cycles I've built. I'll upload some more pictures from a real camera later.

Tomorrow is the Tour de Lake. I have a lot of shite I need to get together today. And directions to print. Ideally, I would like to get there without getting lost. I'm going to have the lady bear bring along her tom tom, but I fear that he is retarded. He says some crazy things in his synthetic British (English to be exact. I wouldn't mind it as much if it was Scottish. The Welsh have thier own language so they don't count.) accent. I wish he wouldn't speak at all. A nice little moving map would be so much nicer than "Turn left in....200 feet" "Turn left." "Turn LEFT" "Beeeeeeee.....rerouting." As a matter o' fact, I think I would prefer a paper map to that. I hate having a computer tell me what to do. But maybe I'm alone in that sentiment.

My front hub is squeeking. I need to get that figured out today. Oi.

Word at the local BS, (no, not that kind. bike shop.) is that the course is smooth and flowy. Should be perfect for an unsprung (with regard to front suspension) rider like myself.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I dug up another shot from Mountwood last a few couple of days ago. We were standing in line waiting for a "bike wash" (shower)

(clicky make big)

I didn't notice this until I zoomed in on photoshop, but the petite woman is giving the camera a look that could only be described as the most evil thing in the universe. 

AHHHHHH! Beware the small red shirted lady!

Monday, May 11, 2009

now with more wire(less)s

I finally got a computer. No more will I be completely confused and unaware of my surroundings in a race (at least in terms of mileage) 
The little Topline 1106 that I bought is pretty nice. It tells me how fast, how far, and how long I've ridden. The wireless system works without a problem so far, but I do only have a few rides on it. 

The computer and sensor attaches to the bars and fork via some nifty little rubber o-rings, which are apparently replaceable at the local hardware store. So in theory, it should be really easy to take the computer on and off. Unfortunately, the o-rings are a bitch to hook into place. They hurt my thumbs. Waaa. 

But it does stay in place, which surprised me in a good way. I rode out at Roaring Run, Apollo on Sunday (9.84 miles with a 7.5 mph average pace. thank you mr. bc 1106) And I have to say, my 7.5 mph pace was a bit discouraging, even though the blue loop at Apollo is rocky, rooty, and twisty as hell, with some climbing thrown in. It is defiantly the hardest (and best/most fun) race course I've ever ridden. And the computer did not budge. Kudos to it. Hopefully it'll hold up during the next race. 

On similar note, I am 100% sold on the 50mm stem. I'm able to clear switchbacks so much much more easily (by more easily I mean that I could not clear them at all with a 90mm), and get my weight way back on the descents. I think that it is the best length for a 29er. Or the best length for me. Whatever the case, it works.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I was able to squeeze in two hours on the road today after track practice. And I'm beat.

I might have to think about doing the OMBC #4 instead of the WVMBA #3. The OMBC race is an hour closer, which means its two hours less driving. But the Ohio race might be shorter, and if the race is shorter, it very much negates the benefits of less driving.

I need a nap

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

onward and lakeward

I did make the picture section

That means I am featured in exactly 1/335th of the photos. Heheheh. One step closer to single speed domination.

I forgot to remind myself in my things to remember next time I race post, to get a computer. A cycling computer to be exact. Because I obviously already have a computing computer, for without one, this daily drivel would not be possible.

But back to the cycle mounted computer. I was starting to get a little confused over how much racing I had left at Mountwood. I had no watch, and even though I knew the race was 23 miles, I had no way to judge how far I had gone. So I asked every one I passed. I felt like a kiddie on a road trip.

"How far? How far? How far? Are we there yet? Mom I have to peeee!"

I'd like to avoid that situation from now on. Looking ever ahead into the bright and sunny future, my next race is the Tour de Lake.

Lap 1:

Lap 2:

To my very untrained eye, it appears that there is a fair amount of fire road in this race. Time work on the crazy 200 rpm spinning.

And I need to find some sponsors. This racing thing gets expensive. Everybody I race against has them. I feel left out. A mighty harrumph to that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

mountwood followup

I'm winning! Hurrah!

I must say that I am just pleased as a peach to be in the lead of my first series. Even if there have only been 2 out of 15 races run. 

On to the race follow up. (this is mostly for my benefit)

Fenders are a fantastic idea in the mud. I thank the flying spaghetti monster that I used one. Even though my body did get muddy during the race, my eyes stayed clean. Fenderless folks were not so lucky. There were quite a few people in the bike wash using the hose on their eye balls. Literally hosing out their eyes. Ouch.

I really thought about taking the fender off before the race. After all, most people didn't have one. I'm so glad that I didn't follow the crowd. I think that it was a case of form over function gone horribly horribly wrong. Fenders don't look cool, so many chose not to use them. I saw one guy riding a $3500 Jet9 with a cut up milk jug zip tied to his down tube. A good fender costs about $15. Figure that one out. I certainly couldn't. 

Rampage+ Crossmark is a surprisingly decent combo in the mud. They didn't pack up, and the grip was as good as I could hope for fast rolling tires.

I need to run lower gear in the mud. 32X18 was much to hard. I was not able to stand much because I lost to much traction, so I had to stay in the saddle and grind away. It hurt a bit. 32X19 or 32X20 would be perfect.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mountwood Challenge Race Report

I just checked the website, and the official results are in. 2nd SS and 10th overall. Not to shabby I say.

Unfortunately, I must be very un-photogenic on the bike, because I again failed to make it into any of the event photos. At the risk of wounding my pride, I shall maintain that I am simply to fast to be photographed. Harrumph.

Sunday was rainy. And grey. And a bit nippy. Not my idea of ideal weather. But the race had to go on. 
After signing in at the signing in table in the signing in area, I was presented with a tee shirt, a map of West Virgina, and a sticker. The tee shirt was grey, small, and cotton. The sticker had an adhesive backing. The map was paper. None of the above (or beside depending on the width of your monitor) has any relevance. But I thought I should share anyway. 

After my mandatory quadruple pre-race water closet breaks, I rolled up to the start about a minute before the race began. I lined up in the back again. 

(I'm the handsome devil astride the orange and lime steed)

The course started with a mellow climb up a paved road. I did my best to stay with the geared riders, and to my surprise, I was fairly successful. By success I mean that I wasn't dropped and spit out by the pack, left wheezing on the road side. 

We made a turn onto gravel, and the trail narrowed down. I started working my way around a few riders. Before long, I spotted Gerry Pflug in all his black and orange stripped strippieness. I made some passes and tried to get up with him, assuming that if I could stay close to him I would have a good finish. He kept passing riders in the single track, and I tried to follow, but I just was not making my passes happen as quickly. After a few minutes he was gone.

I settled into a pace and tried to stay smooth. At this point, the trails were a little moist, and traction was sketchy in places, but nothing was unrideable. I was probably a bit to cautious on some turns, but I had qualifying for track and field states in the back of my mind the whole race. I did not want to crash and get hurt. (I have to admit that I am still primarily a distance runner. At least until May 22nd)

The pack thinned significantly, and my passing essentially came to an end. I kept pedaling away and making good turns. The course was almost all cut into the side of a hill, so it kept me on mi toes the whole time. The trail was starting to get a little muddy, and I was starting to get a little glad that I was running a fender. 

Before long, I hit a much dreaded section of downhill switchbacks. I sped down them, made the first turn, pedaled up to speed, braked for the second turn, and promptly shot off the trail. Two riders passed me. I'm not even sure where they came from. I shook it off, and the race was on again. 

I did hammered to try to stay with the two passing riders. I kept with them on the climbs and flats, but as usual, I lost a little ground on the descents. I hit another switchback section, and noticed this fine gentleman on my tail.

He passed me on a section similar to the one I was currently on last race. I was determined not to let it happen again. I weighted my front wheel and managed to keep my bike on the trail through the turns. I struck out and pedaled away from him.

At the bottom of the hill there were a series of wooden bridges. On the first one, about six feet in the air, I almost lost it. I yanked my bars back to the right and averted a disaster. "Ohh hoo whoo. That's a trixy one!" I shouted to the legions of on lookers. They were greatly impressed with my manly man speech.

I hammered up a hill (its a common theme on this course. I don't recollect much flat ground.) Pulled nails out (opposite of hammering.) on the way down, and was spit onto a section of road. The fine gentleman from Trek, we'll call him Stephen, (only because I think that's his name.) was still behind me. I put in a mighty effort on the road, and actually pulled away from him while catching up to another SSer. I grabbed a water at the aid station, almost knocking over one of the helpers (lo siento. and thanks for the agua) and climbed back into the woods. To my extreme surprise, Pflug appeared about 30 meters ahead of me. 

As I caught up with him, I noticed he was standing an awful lot. On closer inspection, I discovered that his seatpost was missing. I spent the next 10 minutes trying to think of something witty to say to him. 
"Rigid SS not hard enough for ya?" was the least lame thing I could muster in my anaerobic state.
His retort was nearly as clever: "Yeah. Right?"

I passed him, but he stayed right behind. The trail was getting extremely muddy now. We were covered in the greasy brown stuff, but I hardly noticed. We were routed back onto the trail for a second lap, and the real mud began.

I'm going to assume that the sport and beginners also rode this section of trail, because it was completely torn apart. My speed slowed to a crawl. I couldn't get out of the saddle because the traction was so bad. I came off the bike at one point, causing Gerry and Steve (who had caught back up) to do the same. Gerry ran and did a cyclocross mount, swinging his leg perfectly across the saddle. Or so he thought. 

But he still had no saddle. I'm not sure how he avoided mashing his delicates, but he seemed ok. Steve decided that since he could spin a nice low gear and keep traction, he would pass. Then Gerry went. I was alone again.

I passed three people with clipboards and asked each one how many miles were left. I was getting tired, and I think my inexperience was showing. I kept slogging along in the mud, hoping the finish was near. 

I found Stephen on the trailside a few miles later with a flat. I raced by, and he DNF'ed for the day. After climbing a hill, I finally got a definite distance to the finish from someone. 

"1/2 mile to go!"

"That's it? really?" I shouted back. But I didn't wait for the reply. I gave all I had left.

Then I crashed. (it was really slippery. i can't be blamed.) 

I rolled in the last few meters without incidence. I was pleased, and figured that I at least had a decent finish. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

1st 2nd

2nd single speed at the Mountwood Challenge. The SS that beat me was Gerry Pflug, who rode almost 20 miles 
without a seat post (yes, he is that good.) The course 
looked like it was covered in a layer of shit 
laden chocolate pudding.
Race repor to follow.