Monday, January 31, 2011

After a weekend of starvation and drinking dirty sink water at American University in DC, I felt pretty ok on my ride home today.

It always feels good to get out there in the sun and breathe.

I registered for the Mohican 100 this morning. If it rains again...I'll still race, but I'll be real pissed about it. I can't wait for the season to start so that I can get back out on the road.

Friday, January 28, 2011

stop sign sprints

Stop sign sprints are the closest thing to structured training that I do all year. They suck real bad, but they work the legs quick.

I don't keep track of zones or heart rates or any of that other witchcraft, but they still work. They seem like the best way to replicate the short bursts of power used in racing on east coast single track.

I leave my house and sprint up to the top of the hill without warming up to simulate the start of a race. Then I roll into a neighborhood, and every time I hit a stop sign I slam on the brakes and track stand for 10 seconds. Then I sprint as hard as I can to the next stop sign and brake again.

I do that until I feel like throwing up, then roll around for a few minutes of recovery. Then I start sprinting and stopping again. When I reach the vomit threshold, I slow down and soft pedal to recover. Then I go home and dig into the mini-marshmallows.

Or I used to dig into the mini-marshmallows until I saw this:

I wonder how many people died with a mouth stuffed full of tiny marshmallows before Kraft started printing this warning.

Monday, January 24, 2011

bare feet for white people

Vibram has built the most advanced shoes in history. This combination of abrasion resistant polyamide fabric, Hypalon straps, Chinese sweat shop labor, and antimicrobial microfiber has produced a shoe that feels like a bare foot. They're so sensitive that technical tree climbers can "tune into tree time" while wearing them.

Behold, the culmination of hundreds of years of rubber and textile technologies.

It's amazing. Vibram has managed to charge $85.00 for something that much of the world does out of necessity:

Look at how connected to nature that little barefoot starving kid is.

Sarcasm and the fact that the price of my pseudo-barefeet could probably feed that kid for a year aside, I dig these things. They're neat.

They don't really feel like bare feet. They feel more like a 2mm thick rubber sock. Because that's what they are.

I don't feel more connected to the Earth, nor do I feel all Zen-ey like I do when I "become one with my fixed gear bicycle", but I can feel sticks and rocks and other shit that I step on. I'm not sure why I want to feel all the little pointy things under my feet, but I do. I'll leave it at that.

They are very light and fun to hop around in. I wore them hiking for a few miles when the ground was melted, and they felt good. I tried to run in them a few days ago when the snow was still on the ground, and my feet went numb. So they didn't feel like anything.

Cool shoes. If you're not afraid of looking like a pretentious hippy douche bag, I highly recommend picking some up.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

a super productive weekend

The Mountain State 100 put registration up over on bikereg. A 100 miler in West Virginia sounds pretty sweet. And the after party is at a place called the Dirtbean. That's just too good to be true. I'm thinking about it. Race is on May 14th.

It's been awful cold here for the last few days. I rode a little and ran up some stairs in a parking garage for a while, but mostly I sat on my ass and read.

I discovered the primary danger in buying a book from a used book store. A bookmark with someone's child on it might fall out:
I was terrified when this little blond kid fell into my lap. Look at the beady-eyed devil. Smiling his little 2005 smile. Who knows where he is now. He could be selling heroine on the streets, or worse, making smoothies at Orange Julius. 

I also repacked my tool bag. While I had everything out, I made a list of all the stuff I haul around. 

-8 spare I9 spokes (they don't break often, but I assume that I won't be able to walk into a shop and buy some if they do.)
-Ratcheting screwdriver with torx and hex bits
-Hammer, a plastic one for fixing things and a metal one for destroying them
-Vice grips
-Channel Locks
-Pedal Wrench (not sure why I carry that around, none of my pedals have wrench flats)
-Ratchet Set

And small parts:
-Formula compression fittings
-Headset spacer
-Northwave shoe buckles (rocks are not kind to clicky-buckles)
-Stan's valve stems
-Zip ties
-Extra chain pieces 
-Digital pressure gauge
-Brake pads
-Pad spreader
-Duct tape
-20t cog for when the first one wears out 

With some spare tires and friends to steal stuff from that's enough to fix almost any bike or small car problem on the road. It's probably two much. I think the back pack I have that stuff in weighs almost 40 pounds:
But I'd rather have something and not need it than need it and not have it. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

a farewell to the grumbler

The Grumbler is sold and gone. I was fond of that noisy piece of machinery.

I rolled about 40,000 miles that Jeep. From May to September, it was home.

I bought the Grumbler when I was a senior in High School. It looked a little rough.

Early on, it had some issues. I blew through two radiators, all the hoses, and a water pump.

Then the clutch gave out in the middle of snowmagedon last February.

That was a bummer. Probably the only time that four wheel drive and max-traction tires would have been practical, and it wasn't drivable. Once the snow melted in March and I was able to crawl under it, it took about 15 minutes to fix.

In spite of everyone's predictions (including my own), it made the 3,000 mile round trip to Breck this summer.

Not comfortably, but it made it.

As much as I liked the Grumbler, it wasn't a good vehicle for the open road. I could pull 20mpg if I drove really nicely, but I could never go faster than 65 on the flat and 50 up a hill. That's fine in Pennsylvania, but out West where the speed limit is 70 and everybody drives 90, I felt like an old woman pushing a shopping cart in the sand.

I bought a little VW Golf that should be ready sometime next week. I don't think I'll be able to sleep in it as easily, but it is twice as fuel efficient. And it has carpet, a sunroof, and a working radio. So luxurious.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

over the ridge - greensburg to laughlintown

Dow Powers and I got out for the first long ride of the year yesterday:

This is close to the same route I took on my first big ride when I was 15. At that point I was riding a Gary Fisher Hoo Koo e Koo. I used to lock up the brakes to skid the tread off that bike's tires so that they would roll better. 

Back then I rode on the wrong side of the road, wore a lime green bandanna instead of a helmet, and cramped up climbing the ridge in a 22x32 low gear.  The loop took me almost 8 hours. I thank the great puffy hamster in the sky that it doesn't take that long anymore. 

After the first few miles in Greensburg, there wasn't much traffic on the back roads. We rode past the St. Vincent wetlands, through the only traffic circle in Western PA, then started up the ridge.

The climb over the ridge gets real steep towards the end. I still cramped, but this time it was with a 40x17. In an unprecedented reversal of roles Don Powers had to wait for me at the top.

The sun was scheduled to come out and warm things up to 30 degrees. Predictably, it never did. We were pretty warm after getting to the top of the ridge, but all that sweat instantly froze on the way back down. I couldn't bend my arms or move my hands for a few minutes when we finished the 40mph descent.

After rolling past the base of Laurel Mountain we cut through the grounds of the prestigious Rolling Rock club. A few target pheasants were clucking around in the snow. I guess the former VP left a few standing.

We stopped at the Pie Shop in Laughlintown and I refueled with a peanut butter chocolate gob. Easily the most calorie dense food on the planet.

After that it was a straight burn from Ligonier to Latrobe on Rt. 30. We held about 22 mph through the gorge, which I'm delighted with on a single speed with risers.

Back into Greensburg with about 4 hours of rolling time and a 15mph average. That's a solid ride for January.

And bonus awesome, the maintenance people are salting the bike parking at school now. I feel so spoiled.

Way better than last year:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

shoeing the snow

There's been too much snow on the trails to ride, so Colleen and I have been trying to find something else to do. Bananagrams was cool for a while, but the games always degenerated into fights over the validity of words like "zangs." But at least we haven't resorted to mixing downers and trying to burn down the house.

Today we went down to our place of summer employment in Ohiopyle and rented some snowshoes.

We started on the falls side of the Fern Cliff Peninsula and hiked around the loop. The sun was out for the first time in days. Place is pretty in the winter.

Then we found a little rodent thing on the trail:

Rat dogs aside, snowshoeing was fun. It's not as hard as I thought it would be, although some of us had trouble with the big rocks:

More exciting news about the new official Knobby Meats Racing Conglomerate transport machine next week. It doesn't look like this, but I would be lying if I said I didn't consider it:

Thursday, January 13, 2011


It happened again.

I'm starting to feel like this frozen precipitation thing is going to be a yearly occurrence. I shudder to think of the horrific controversies that it could cause every winter from now until I die. And even beyond that.

I haven't been to work in the last few days. But I'm sure that if I went in would spend my day playing pass the pigs and pondering sleeping phoenix perched high above us.

But I have made good use of the free time and posted a bunch of bike stuff on craigslist and fleabay. You should go buy it.

I'm also working on selling the Grumbler to fund a smaller and more efficient form of transportation:

Viking cat feed is expensive.

Last week my post about the Ergon stuff was re-tweeted by The Ergon itself.

And that's the whole reason I named this blog Knobby Meats. I was praying that one day a German would tweet "Say hello to Knobby Meat."

I think I can change the name now.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

most excellent new ergon stuff

I found a big brown box on my door step the other day.

I carefully cut the tape, then before I could react, I was forced to the ground by an ergonomic axe murdering sock monkey.

I knocked the stuffing outa him with a big mallet, then confined much subdued monkey to my window sill.

The rest of the box held another set of Ergon GX2 Carbon grips (not attached to a monkey), and an Ergon BC2 pack.

I'm super glad to have some new grips, because my other GX2s were starting to feel a little worn after a few thousand miles and about 50 race days. White looks so damn spiffy with purple.

My dad bought a pair of GC2s a few years ago to cruise rail trails. At the time I was riding round grips, and since I was young and never felt pain, I thought there was no reason for me to use those silly winged grips.

Then I stole his and tried them. Huge difference. It took less energy to grip the bars, I had more control in rocky sections, and my arms were staying fresher on my rigid. I was sold.

I've been racing on the GX style grip since my first West Virginia race three years ago. The GXs aren't as soft and squishy as the GP or GR style, but they have better bar-feel through technical sections. I switched to GX2s with bar ends halfway through my first season, and it made a huge difference. Bar ends make wrenching up a hill on a single speed way faster (not easier.)

The bar ends fit flush with the rest of the grip, so I end up with my hands out over the end of the bar even when I'm cruising on flat sections. It's second nature now for me to switch from bar end to main grip body.

I tried going back to round grips once last year, and I couldn't stand it. In short, Ergons are awesome.

But I'm even more excited about the pack:

I haven't gotten to do any rides with it yet, but my initial hiking test was good. The ball joint on the pack allows the shoulder straps to pivot without shifting the load around. More on that later. It's mighty radical.

And I really need to send the big cog I borrowed from Dicky at Breck Epic back. I think I'll do that today.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010: giving myself a pat on the proverbial ass

I might be a few days late with this, but I'm gonna do it anyway. 2010 season review. I think I got most of the big events of the racing year, but I did leave out a bunch of XC races that went pretty well.

Anyway, it was a long season. And I must say it was a pretty good one.

But it didn't start out so great.

Before the snow, I won a winter 'cross alley cat. After it melted, I won a not so wintery cross alley cat. Both at the slag heaps.

Got my first big brah deal from Industry Nine. (40ish races later, the wheels are still rad.)

Beat all my friends in the most important fake race of the year and was crowned champion of the universe.

Lived in a tent down by the river and worked at the greatest white water rafting and bike touring company that I've ever worked for.

Won my first SS race at the Big Bear Classic.

Won my first Open class race on my single speed at the Mountwood Challenge. They paid me for winning SS and gave me a Surly flask as a reward for beating everybody on gears.

Started riding for the fine fellas of Speedgoat Bikes.

Won the open class at Tour de Lake. They paid me for winning the overall. It was very nice.

Helped build some obstacles and haul around kids bikes for the Velomuse Junior Devo Program.

Picked up a girl down by the river in my chariot of charm.

Led the Mohican 100 for a few hundred meters. Received a mild case of giardia for finishing a hundred miles of cow shit and mud.

After Mohican, I started begging people for votes on facebook so that I could win the Breck Epic Blogger's Grant.

Did the Big Bear 2x12 with Rob. Didn't have a great race.

We drove out to State College that night, and did the Stoopid 50 the next day.

I finished 3rd SS, my first decent endurance result. The waffle in my drop bag was intact.

Lost to Don Powers, Betsy Shogren, and everybody who's anybody at the Hilly Billy Roubaix
DSC_3911 by bstephens83.

Won the Breck Epic Bloggers Grant. Started frantically saving money to drive to Colorado.

Pretended I was fast enough to ride with JPok, the Pflug and Ferrari for the first 60 miles of the Wilderness 101. Finished 6th SS.

Drove to Colorado with the Little Ball of Hate. Did a Super D in Indiana and finished 4th overall. Behind the Little Ball of Hate.

Lost my will to live in the 110 degree heat of Kansas.

Won my fist race at altitude at Winter Park.

Watched Sam crash and break his crabone Cannondale.

Did Breck Epic. Most awesome race ever.

Finished 5th SS.

Discovered that five days is not enough time to recover from a large stage race. Didn't race too well in Ohio

Crowned the 2010 Peanut Butter Proiest.

Had my most horrible race ever at the Terror of Teabag.

Beat all my friends and won my second fake race. (After running out of food and foraging for apples.)

Fell into a big ditch the next day, but still won the WVMBA Championship Race.

Finished the WVMBA Series 1st in SS.

Won my very first Month of Mud race. Possibly only because Evan Perrone flatted.

Rode my Crosby around in grassy circles and threw donuts a bunch. Finished the ABRA SS 'Cross Series in 2nd.

Did the Dirty Dozen on a Tandumb with Sam.

Started a table sitting job at Jet Messenger.

Banana time part duex.

Put the Viking Cat in armor.

And that's about it.