Monday, July 25, 2011

back in the pyle

Now that I'm back in Ohiopyle, I've resumed my normal patterns of working, eating free meals at Colleen's house, and being pissed off at the screeching train that rumbles by every 45 minutes:

Colorado's mountains were 75 degrees the whole time I was there, so the "heat bubble," or what ever they're calling it now has not been a nice thing to come back to. It's been so hot that I was forced to remove the rain cover from my home and string up an elevated roof for better cooling:

Ahh. Un-conditioned air.

Lazy picture transition:

The Breck 100 went great. Prompted by Don Powers and Aaron, I switched from my usual 38x20 to a 38x25 before the race. Since I was switching gears, I figured I should get smart about the rest of the race.

Racing smart is a new thing for me. My typical strategy in a hundred miler is to race the first 30 miles like I'm going for the overall win in an XC race, then blow up and spend the next 7 hours crying, walking, and wishing that a bear would rip open my stomach and eat my intestines so that I have an excuse to quit.

But this time things were different. I ate protein bars, oranges, and roast beef. I ran an easy gear. I slept a lot in the days leading up to the race. I drank coffee before the third lap. And it all worked.

I could ride every climb, spin at around 10 mph, never blew up, and I finally beat the Pflug. I finished in 6th and had a lot of juice left. Next time I do that race I'll run a 38x24 and go a little harder.

Despite crying about oxygen deprivation all week, Aaron beat Don Powers. And despite winning every pre-ride, Don Powers exploded and almost didn't finish the race.

Or maybe it's because he won ever pre-ride. As we found out one night at dinner, "Dahn Pahrs ain't never read a book! Dahn Pahrs do what Dahn Pahrs does!" (his words, not mine), so he couldn't be expected to understand how his muscle recovery works.

That's the short story. I'm saving the good stuff for Old Melancholy Mahokey of XXC Mag fame. That article should be out in the next issue.

Tomorrow will be the first hopefully weekly edition of the Pittsburgh ShortTrack-ish. It'll be a weekly thing as long as Aaron and I don't screw something up. I'll put up some more details once we get through the first night.

I also need to do a post this week about my preparations for the Pisgah Stage Race. Be sure to look for that write-up about how I've included more fiber in my diet.

And I know I'm thinking really far ahead now, but the Wilderness 101 is this Saturday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I left Breckenridge at 9:30 am mountain time on Sunday, and got back to Greensburg at 4:30 eastern time on Monday. That was a 26 hour drive with about two hours of stopping. One hour to eat, one hour to sleep. Sweet.

Rolling through a construction zone in Chicago at 2:00 on Monday morning, I see an unmarked car pull out of its hiding spot. It puts its flashers on. Shit.

I pull off to the side of the road and roll down the back window. The cop taps on the front passenger window. 

"Roll it down," he says.

"I can't. It's broken," I yell to the open back window.

"Fine. Then open the door," he says. I open it. "I pulled you over because all those bikes are blocking your licence plate. Where are you coming from?" he says.

"Colorado. Breckenridge."

"Breckenridge huh? Step out of the car and come back here." he says. He shines the light on me. He notices my long, and at this point in the drive, fairly dirty hair. "Medicinal Marijuana is pretty big out there isn't it?" he says. "Do you have a licence for that?" Another unmarked car pulls up on the shoulder. 

"No, I don't have a licence for it," I say.

"So are you transporting any back? Did anybody ask you to bring them some back?"

"No, I don't have any."

"Can you certify that you packed everything in that car?" 


"Well, this being Chicagoland, we'd like to search it to make sure you aren't transporting any illegal substances." 

Fantastic. Unpacking my stuffed car is just what I want to do right now. But if I don't let him search, he's going to give me a ticket for my blocked licence plate. 

"Alright, if you really think you need to," I open the trunk. He sifts through some dirt chamois, empty jars of peanut butter, and coffee grounds. He moves around to the front of the car and looks inside the car tire I have on the back seat.

"Why do you have three bikes with you?" the other cop asks, "Are those all your bikes?" he says. First I'm a drug dealer, now I'm a bike thief. 

"Yes, they're all mine." I say. 

"So you were speeding? That's why he pulled you over?" Cop 2 says. And now I was speeding. Jesus. These guys are really fishing for an offence. 

"No, I wasn't speeding." I say. 

"So why do you need three bikes? Are those all yours?" Cop 1 asks. Dammit. This is exasperating. They finally let me go, and I pull off the shoulder, carefully obeying the speed limit. I can't wait to get away from Chicago. 

Later on I stop in an Indiana gas station. A portly trucker wearing a cowboy hat mistakes me for a fellow trucker. 

"Damn company won't pay for my arr conditioning. It's a hundard an eight degrees in the cab," he says.

"It's hot out there. I just came from Nebrasky today. It was a hundard and two degrees outside." I say. I've always wanted to play a trucker. 

"I jus came up from Waco, Texas. I'm hauling a load of potatoes. For Taco Bell and Wendy's. Alls freeze dried." he snorts and blows his nose.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I've gotten way behind on blogging about this Colorado trip. But I'm still out here, sleeping on Dahn Pahr's and Shelmire's hotel room floor:

I dropped Colleen at Denver International on Tuesday, but from Boulder two weeks ago until then we drove to Kremling, Breckenridge, Avon, Eagle, Rabbit Valley, Fruita, the Grand Junction Sears Auto Center, Meeker, Steamboat Springs, and back to Breck to hike a 14er. We stayed with a few friends, and camped the rest of the time.

Don, Aaron and I have been doing rides in Breck to get ready for the Breck 100 on Saturday. I've got a ton of stories from this trip, but I'm probably not going to get to writing them down until the beginning of next week when I get back to Pennsylvania.

We're about to go hike through the snow on the Wheeler Pass stage of the race, so until I can sit down to write something decent, I'll post some pictures:


Friday, July 1, 2011


"Hey, do you have any scissors?"

"I always just use the meat scissors."

"There it is. That's your new nickname. Samuel the Meat Scissors Morrison."

"But I don't like that. Waaa."

"Too late Meat Scissors."

Colleen and I have spent the last three days in the home of Old Meat Scissors Morrison, where only one thing is holy:

Most conversations around here go something like this:
"Dude, I gained a half a pound last from eating at Smashburger night. Now I weigh 134.5."

"Oh man. Fred got the stomach flu and lost eight pounds. He's got his best beach body."

"Yeah. We should congratulate him. Let's look at girls on Facebook and decide if they're skinny or not."

"Sweet. Let me go weigh myself before I drink this cup of water." And so on.

But in between all the weighing, everybody around here does ride a lot. Sam and Deidre took us on a sweet loop outside of Boulder on the second day we were here.

It took me a little bit to get used to all the loose sandy corners again. The trails are all so fun and flowing. We rode for about two hours, then headed back to Boulder.

As I write this, Meat Scissors Morrison is asking his roommate Nate what he weighs this morning.

On Wednesday, Meat Scissors convinced me to do the A race in short track instead of the single speed race. That was a horrible, horrible idea. Almost every guy on the start line was 6'3",150 pounds and hairless, which made me feel like a fat hobbit.

Half of the course was a big flat slab of dirt, so I got dropped immediately. Every lap it got worse and worse. I could keep up in the twisty sections, then we would hit the flat part and everybody would shift up and crush it at about 30mph. Needless to say, I did not win that race. Sam lapped me going about three times the speed  I was.

After the race, we went to the bike house where everyone was drinking gin and tonics and discussing the merits of steel cut vs. rolled oats.

On Thursday Colleen and I ran up the mountain outside of town to the top of the Flatirons. Those massive rocks jut out from the hillside, completely separate from the rest of the land. It's one of the coolest things I've ever seen. At the top, it's clear enough to see all of the snow covered mountains to the west. There might be 3 days a year that are that clear in Western PA.

I was so impressed with the place, then on the way down, we were subjected to this conversation that brought me back to reality:

"She wouldn't want me to tell you this, but she's baking at Whole Foods now. She trained in France, and she doesn't feel like what shes doing there is real baking. Now she's just putting icing on frozen cakes. You know they out-source all their pastires?"

"That's terrible," said a guy in a straw fedora. "Yesterday they were grilling corn outside of Whole Foods, you know, just traditional Monsanto corn, and people were like 'Wow this is the greatest thing ever!' and this macho dude was like, 'Hey how long did you grill this?' And it was just regular Monsanto corn! Isn't that ridiculous?"

After the Flatirons hike, I started thinking about how much hiking I'm going to be doing at the Breck 100 later this month. Then I started thinking about how ill-fitting and falling apart my riding shoes. After much thought about all those things, I decided it was finally time to retire the old denim reinforced cruisers and buy some classy new brown riding shoes:

At the store, the sales person asked me if I was looking at men's shoes.

"Well I don't usually wear ladies shoes." I said.

"What? Ladies?" he said.

"Ladies shoes? I don't wear ladies shoes. Oh forget it." I said dismissively. I couldn't understand why he was too dumb to understand my simple joke.

But as Colleen informed me after we left the shop, the conversation actually went like this:

"Are you looking for mountain shoes?"

"Well, I don't usually wear ladies shoes."

I think it's time to leave Boulder.

Colleen and I are heading out to Breck today. I'm pretty pumped to start doing some rides in the big mountains.