Friday, February 26, 2010

positively negative

"Hey I saw you riding your bike on the road yesterday, and I almost ran you over."

How am I supposed to respond to that? "Well thank you so much for not killing me. I'd feel just awful if I left a dent in your car."

And then it snowed.

The snow has led to the postponement of the much anticipated KSF'ed up weekend. I will not be riding my bicycle through the Kanawanana Rock Forest of Despair at all this weekend. Even worse, I have a huge surplus ammunition for my bear rifle, and no bears to do battle with. Winter can go pound salt.

Since I can't ride my bicycle this weekend (salty slushed roads do not count), I'll have to look forward to riding my bicycle next weekend. Celtic 'Cross on Sunday.
Celtic Cross flyer
It'll be like Cross'd Bite with less rain. I hope.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

eh. frosted mini wheats?

The sun is out for the second time in 25 days! Glorious!

When the sun was out on Sunday, I went for a hilly 45 mile loop with Don Powers. I spent the entire ride watching him get smaller and smaller down the road ahead of me. In my defense, there was a slight disparity in equipment, (he was on a cross race bike, and I was on my fixed gear with risers, full fenders, thorn proof tubes) but I was still toast by the end of the ride. 45 miles at 16 mph on a fixed gear in these parts is a lot harder than it sounds.

The accuweathers tell me that another snow storm is going to bury everything again, but to be honest, I'm not too worried about it. Because after Friday, I'll be in the Kanawanana Rock Forest of Despair, riding my mountain bike all day long.

But I do need to get some stuff ready for the weekend. On the smaller end of things, my hydration pack needs to be stuffed full of big cookies, ammunition for my bear rifle, and band aids. I also need to liberate some Stan's from the best bike shop in the world so that my tires don't go flat in the middle of the dark forest (there's good reason for that bear rifle.)

More importantly, I need to ditch the rigid fork on the Fluorescent Death Machine of Doom. I've come to the conclusion that riding down a rocky hill on a full rigid bike sucks.

In pseudo-tough guy ignorance, I used to believe that if I was fast downhill on a rigid bike, I would be crazy fast on suspension. But when I made the switch to a suspension fork last year, I discovered that I was still slow. It took a while to get used to riding the squish. And truthfully, I was going so much slower with the rigid fork that I wasn't used to the higher speeds and faster reaction time I needed to have with the Reba on my bike.

With miles and miles of sharp pointy rocks, riding rigid is downright painful. Last summer, I was doing so much pounding over the angular WPA stones (mountain cycling every day courtesy of a schweet job at Wilderness Voyaguers.) that I started having problems with the thumb-palm connection zone on my hand, and I was even riding Ergons. It was starting to really bother me, even when I was off the bike.

When riding rigid is harsh enough to screw up fairly robust (yes, I did just refer to myself as robust) youthful joints, it would almost certainly rattle a person who is old enough to race vet into hundreds of quivering pieces. Rigid forks do excel in climbing, slow speed tech sections, and cyclocross races, but I've promised myself that I'll avoid riding rigid in an area with long rough downhills.

Since the Kananawanan Rock Forest of Despair is 87% rough downhills, it's suspension season.

(And yes don powers, I am trying to scare you. you should be afraid. because I'm still bitter about the s-turns)

On a final note, Eryn Hughes is starting a junior development program to help high school students get into cycling and mountain biking. Eventually it will be like a PA version of the NorCal program. I think that's super cool, so I'm going to help out with it. You should too. Web site:

Friday, February 19, 2010

crackling with weevils

Snow. Cold. Cold. Snow. Slush. Mud. Salt. Cold. Muddy salt slush. Grey.

It's starting to crack me. The weather has been bad for so damn long now. I'm tired of cars splashing dirty slush on me, getting ice in my goat scruff and nose hairs, and not being able to ride off road. Actually, not being able to mountain bike is the thing that's really getting me. But there's 40 inches of snow on the ground, and there's another storm on the way. I can't even put my bike in the rack at school anymore.
That little thing under the pile of snow was once a functional bike rack. Apparently 12 grand a year does not include winter bike parking. I guess if I really want to use it I should stop whining and go dig it out since there are only three people on the entire campus that ride bikes to school.

After riding home from my first set of classes, I drove back to the school yesterday. And I felt like a lazy asshole. But as I found out that morning, there are people who live on campus and still drive to class. And they're fine with it. The future of America:

"I have to drive to class. I live in courts across the street."
"There's not a sidewalk?"
"Yeah I guess there is. But it would be a really far walk. I have to drive."
(the walk is half of a mile. and that includes a stop in the cafeteria for coffee.)

UPG better start including motorized wheel chairs in the tuition so people don't have to put wear and tear on their cars (they need those for more vital tasks, like running* to the choice for cigarettes.) (*"running somewhere" means that the person is going to drive. people who run with their legs are considered "fitness nuts", which insinuates that they are insane)

And why the hell does Pandora have an ad that interrupts the music every three minutes now? Even free internet radio isn't free anymore. And my backspace key just got stuck, forcing me to retype this sentence. Yarrrg.

Alright. I'm done bitching. But like most people on the east coast, I'm also done with winter. I'm gonna go ride my bike now.      

Monday, February 15, 2010

the stubby ski assault on laural mountain

After days of combing the internets, I found a write up that claimed to be the only way to bleed the Grumbler's un-bleedable transmission. I followed it, and miracle of miracles, the Grumbler was fixed! I can finally partake in the recreational burning of fossil fuels again.

Taking advantage of my regained mobility, I headed to Laurel Mountain on Saturday. The FDMoD stayed home, because the novelty of hiking through the snow next to my bike has worn off. On the short drive to the wilderness I thought I would be alone on my mountain, but when I arrived there were a dozen big trucks with snowmobile trailers in the parking lot.

(caught unaware by a shorter than expected self timer)

I strapped on my snowshoes in the parking lot. "Ready for some fun?" asked a snowmobiler through his curly handle bar mustache. "Hells yeah I am."

Leaving the parking lot, I started the hike up Quarry Run Trail. The snowmobiles did a great job of packing the trail down for me, so I was able to keep a good pace going up the mountain.

The brapping snowmobile engines detracted from the "alone in the woods" feeling, but they made such a great trail that I didn't mind.

I climbed for an hour and 15 minutes before I reached the top. Once on the summit, I surveyed the scene with my best Eastwood face.

I took off my snowshoes, unloaded the skis gear from my pack, and prepared for the ride down. (short skis were not the best choice. but they're sooo much funner)

I had to skate down the top part of the trail, but once I reached the steep section, it got a little hairy.

The bottom part of quarry run is steep. And it was close in speed to a ski resort run because the snowmobiles had essentially groomed the trail. But unlike a resort, there is no room to make turns, because the trail is only as wide as a snowmobile. I did my best to make little cuts down the slope without falling off the side of the hill. As I neared the end, the run was peppered with little rhythm sections and jumps that were a blast to hit even with my minimal (non-existent) jumping skills.  

The whole descent took me 15 minutes, and I must say that a free 15 minute ski run in WPA is a win and a half.

Friday, February 12, 2010

boxes of bears

Three feet of snow stands between me and any good mountain biking. I've ridden every day of this snow event, so I shouldn't complain too much, but I haven't been on the mountain bike since last Friday.

A week ago the ground was nearly bare, (that's hard to imagine now,) so I headed back to some slate dumps a few miles from my house. Eric has been insisting that I ride there, but I kept putting it off. I'm sorry I did.

Fast flowing moto trails trails spider web around a mountain of slag by the rail road tracks. It's a popular spot for ATV and dirt bike guys to ride, so there are tons of steep slag climbs, jumps, and banked turns. I sprinted around the top of the slag pile for an hour and had a blast the whole time.

Trails shoot off the edges of the pile, and they are pretty stellar as well, but there are tons of over hanging thorn bushes. My gloves were off because it was almost above freezing, and as I tried to duck under an overhanging branch I was snagged by one of the thorns. Before I had time to think it ripped long lines of skin from my pinky finger. I bled all over my ergons on the way home, but it fortunately the gods took pity and sent a chilling rain to numb my finger and wash off the blood.

The snow trapped me at the lady bears house for 3 days, so when the roads finally cleared we evacuated the house and went down to the funnest bike shop in the world to hang out.

I rode around on a two wheel drive electric assist bike, and I have to say, it was awesome. When the pedals are turning, a motor drives the front wheel. Even with slick hybrid tires that thing ripped through the snow. I picked up a pizza with it and rode back to the shop holding the pizza in one hand, and climbed steep snowy hills without an effort at all.  

After eating the aforementioned za, I noticed a strange package on the floor:
I guess packaging isn't important to QBP any more.

I kicked the box a few times, and when it groaned, I grabbed a knife and slashed it open.

When I saw what was inside I tried to force it back in and tape it up, but it was too late. The boxed animal stood up and started to complain. I slapped my forehead and grabbed the two wheel drive bike to ride far away.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

crunchy and savory guava strudel

The lady bear got a new cat yesterday (actually he's pre-owned. but new to her) He's an adorable little beast:

Chewy is only two, and he's lovable, but he can be a feisty devil. I was rolling him around on the ground and kissing his head yesterday when he suddenly slapped my face with both of his front paws. In shock, I jumped away. The cat rolled back over and purred. I will not be rolling him around on the ground anymore.

The snow started again last night, so the world has gone to sleep again. Fortunately I was able to go out for two slushy hours on the road yesterday before the weather started. I might try to get a little time in later, but right now the snow is coming down too hard. 

Back to reading eating beef jerky. I'll just have to occupy my mind with thoughts of future trips to Kanawanana State Forest, and purple wheels to ward off the cabin fever. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

the great coming of the blizzard of 2010

At work on Saturday night, Mike and I were making fun of the severe looking blondes on CNN. The headline "Northeast braces for massive snowstorm" flashed under the image of a grown man trying to roll a snowball in a light dusting. "Ohh merciful heavens..the world is ending. We better start bracing." At the time there was only a few inches outside the cafe.

When we shut the place down and parted ways, there was a little more of the slippy stuff. Rt 30 was covered in about 3 inches of packed powder and cars were inching along. The road felt like a snowmobile trail.

Once I got back into town, I went home and exchanged the cross bicycle for the mountain, and rode back out to watch people struggle to get their cars up hills. Anything without all wheel drive was completely immobilized. I watched a spinning and sliding 18 wheeler, a Cadillac, and a lowered Honda that was fantastic at making noise, but not so good at moving forward. There were a few handfuls of people out on the sidewalks that apparently just gave up on their cars.

I rode home and went to bed, and over night the storm did its best to prove the CNN reporters right:

Pretty eh? Too bad it all needed to be shoveled.

The Grumbler is one of the few motor vehicles that would have been capable of driving on Sunday, but it decided to break a few days ago. So I left it buried:

(thanks Grumbler. I'm glad I can depend on you.)

After moving a few tons of snow, I slammed my helmet on, grabbed the florescent death machine of doom, and struck out for the lady bear's house. I didn't get 20 feet from my door before someone yelled the first of many good natured comments "Hey! Ya got them winter tires on today!"

I find it interesting that crazier I seem, the friendlier people are. If I were riding the same bike on a nice day, they would think I was a jackass and try to run me over. But when I ride in heavy snow, or ride a unicycle, people love me. I guess it's like a little show for them.

As I rode, the shouts of encouragement continued.

"Hey! Got them snow chains on today!"

"Grug. You get some extra credit today."

Oh man... there's something wrong with your head."

"You've got the best transportation out there today!"

Friday, February 5, 2010

they kill the fish with bitter roots

I thought this hurt more than it should have:

On my way home last night, I was grunting up a steep grassy hill on the florescent death machine of doom when I lost traction. I fell. As I toppled, I tried to hold myself up by grabbing the telephone pole full of rusty screws next to me, but the combination of a 30 pound backpack and un-releasing clipless pedals thwarted my best efforts to stay upright.

I slowly stood up and my leg hurt like hell, but I immediately started to hobble away (just a few seconds earlier I was pretending that I was being chased by deer.)

"Oh god dammit dick salad. Why the hell did that just happen?" It happened because I suck. But at the time I fully blamed my bike, the telephone pole, worn tires, the grass, and the deer for making me run away from them.

I continued to hobble down the sleeping road for a few minutes before getting back on my bike. "Just pedal it off." I thought. Luckily it did stop hurting, and I was able to ride the rest of the way home, then spend half an hour slaloming the cement things in front of parking spaces (I can't remember what those are called.)

When I got in my house, I noticed that my shin felt a little wet. When I lifted up my corduroys, the inside and top of my sock was covered in blood. "Well that's just great. Now I'm gonna have to wash these pants" I lamented.

So I'm going to quit using that Rampage. Once I start hurting myself because something is worn, I get furious and light it on fire. Or I would, but I would be fined by the city, which would make me mad enough to light the ticket on fire, which would prompt another ticket and so on. It never really ends when angry things have to be burned. The world is a flammable place.

In contrast to fiery things, there's a gigantic storm thats about to dump snow on my (and most people east of Oklahoma's) little corner of the world:

(I know you want to know the "#1 rule to colon cleansing" and why "snoring can kill" but that's just too bad. Go ahead. Try clicking those links. They won't work.)

In parting, I leave you with Justin's new bicycle. It turned out absurdly classy:

I would be jealous, but it's just too put together for my tastes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the cheese is rolling and the logger ran out of dinosaurs

It seems like every year right about this time I'm rendered car-less. Last year, the venerable dirt mobilis did not pass inspection, so I was forced to hawk it on craigslist.

A few days ago, the grumbler started having shifting problems. Its always been a workout to operate the clutch on that machine, but the cold in the last few days has made it worse. On my way home from Apollo on Sunday, I had to stomp the clutch to the floor, then use both hands to slam the shifter into gear. At red lights, I had to use 4lo to start rolling, because it was impossible to use 1st or 2nd gear. I cursed at the damn thing the whole way home, but it didn't seem to listen.

After some furious researching in internet forums, maintenance manuals, and the minds bike shop mechanics (scary place), I've narrowed it down to a bad clutch and slave cylinder, or a bad clutch plate. If it turns out to be both, I'm screwed. But maybe it'll turn out to be neither of those problems, because I don't know what I'm talking about. I'll know for sure when it goes to the mechanic man on Monday. I wish the grumbler would stop breaking, but I guess it's a Jeep thing. (and yes tessa, I said it again. and I'm gonna keep saying it until its fixed. so go carve vassoline)

Speaking of things breaking down, I'm about due for some new bicycle tires.

My rampage:

What a Rampage should look like:

My big tire has lost all it's biteyness, and left me with grabbing surface the height of one regulation penny:

But it sure does roll fast now. Panacer should put this into production as the Rampage LK.

It's just a damn good thing my food is well guarded.

Monday, February 1, 2010

medicated hand salve

Global Ride just released their trailer for their up coming Dirty Dozen 'indoor cycling workout. for charity.' I think the only thing more painful than riding the DD would be riding the DD on a trainer, but there is plenty fun footage that documents how incapable road riders are at standing up on a hill.

Apparently a shoe equipped with a slippery tread-less carbon sole it doesn't hook up well on cobble stones:

My big moment in the video comes at 6:35 when I can be seen tearing into a nutter butter in the shadow of Sam Morrison.

Perfectly framed in the old crook o' the arm.

The big difference between young Samuel and me is that he is good at doing fast things on a bike, like nearly dethroning a 6 time Dirty Dozen winner, while I am good at doing dumb things on a bike, like finishing the Dirty Dozen without a freewheel or rear hub bearings.

Speaking of dumb things on a bike, I've decided that I really like the 38t front ring on the FDMoD:

I spent the wee hours of the night and into the morning a few days ago working on my bike, and I discovered that I could in fact run the bing ring on the inside of my crankset. This is quite a revelation, because I was under the impression that I would saw my chainstay off with the eccentric bottom bracket rotated the whole way back. There's only a hair of clearance, but it'll do.

Right now I'm riding with a 38X20, but I think once the snow melts I'll be spinning a 38X19 or 38X18 for the race season. I think I climb faster with the bigger gear, although Don did seem like he was getting ready to pass me on the uphills when we rode on Saturday.

Fortunately, I was able to assert my manliness by eating a big cookie on the opposite side of a stream that he was too scared to cross: