Thursday, March 31, 2011

I went to Ohio and all I got was this stupid disease

My throat is closed up, I'm freezing wrapped in a blanket, and I have a splitting head ache. Waa.

Spending a weekend in a house with 15 college girls isn't all it's cracked up to be.

On the bright side, my new I9 wheels should be shipping today. They'll be like my old I9s only better.

And tomorrow is April, which means there's only three-ish weeks left until I move back into my tent down by the river.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

damn you ohio

The sun was sunning and the enormous pickup trucks were out to warm their duel 39"s:

Colleen and I thought it would be a great day to go mountain biking.

We were wrong;

We went to Reagan Park in Medina. The mud was like cement mixed with clumping cat litter.

After about 3/4 of a mile we realized we needed to turn back. Couldn't even push the bikes without the wheels clogging up and locking.

I tried rinsing stuff off in a little cesspool, but I only succeeded in making my bike smell like rotten deer meat and feces.

If I stood up and sprinted I could shake most of the mud off of my Conti tires, but the Geax's on Colleen's Karate Monkey refused to shed anything.

So we rode around in a parking lot until Colleen's friend, Suz, finished running. Then we went to lunch in a cafe that was complete with a girl sitting in a corner wearing a purple beret:

Feeling very uncultured and beret-less, I was inspired to read an issue of Wine Spectator. I gave up after the first 30 pages of old guys looking at grapes.

I was talking to Suz about where she was going in the Peace Corps next year, and she mentioned that she would really miss Ohio. I was incredulous.

"I just love the land. How flat and the same everything is. I've been running over this pot hole for four years. My first year it was just a big hole. Then Sophmore year they filled it in, and Junior year it was black and tarry. Now this year it's starting to get a dent in it, and I step on it every day. I'll miss that pot hole."

I stared at her with my mouth open. She loved Ohio for all the reasons I hated it. I told her she should try Kansas.

Monday, March 28, 2011

michaux mash 2012 race report

I got a text from Ernesto while Rob, Don and I were heading to Carlisle on Friday night. They had pre-ridden the new course at the YMCA day camp. It didn't sound good.

Rob checked in with a man named Gandhi at the travel lodge. We went to sleep in blood stained sheets (or Don Powers went to sleep in blood stained sheets. I was smart enough to bring a sleeping bag.)

The next morning was 25 degrees while the sun came up. The Pflug and Ernie pulled up beside us while we were loading bikes.

"We pre-rode the course yesterday. It was really bad. There's a stream crossing within the first few feet, and the rest of the trails look like some dude cut them yesterday. We might not even attempt it," said the Pflug.

I was stunned. The Pflug quitting a race was crazy. The first time I saw him racing he snapped his seat  post in the first few miles. He rode two more hours of mud with no saddle and a sharp piece of carbon pointed at his ass, and still won the single speed class. The course must be really messed up for him and Ernesto to bail.

We headed to breakfast with them and they told us more about the course.

"There's no place to pass. Trails are all off camber and fresh cut. There's jaggers hanging down everywhere. Like five stream crossings. Muddy. Figure-8 intersection. Frozen club-feet. Through an archery range. Totally ghetto. It would make an OK cross course, but not a four hour enduro," they said.

Once we got to the YMCA camp, we saw what they were talking about. We went and talked to Zach, and he was mighty swell about the whole thing. So we didn't race.

Instead, we watched people catapult themselves into the stream:

Too bad for that guy. It was 30 degrees. Not good swimming weather.

They had to scramble up the muddy bank on the other side:

I felt like I was watching a figure-8 race at the county fair:

After a few minutes of heckling, we headed out to Michaux and rode. We met some guys from Jersey that showed us around the trails, and ended up having a cool day.

The Mash was awesome last year when it was in Michaux, and I'll for sure race it next year if it's back in the forest. It's a shame that Zach lost his permit to have the race, but no biggie. Hopefully it'll work out in 2012.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

tornadoes in greensburg

Yesterday a tornado touched down just outside of Greensburg. Fortunately it broke up before it was able to destroy my house, but it still dumped little icy cauliflowers:

That's big hail.

I was at work in Ohiopyle all day, so I missed out on the fun. But my drive home was made considerably shorter by dead traffic signals:

There were no circuits and flashing lights telling people what to do, and the world didn't explode. Amazing. I wish they would just leave the damn things off.

Zach sent out an email with the course description for the Michaux Mash, or more accurately, the YMCA Daycamp Mash. I'm pumped. I can't wait to get out there and go fast.

It's going to be about 4.3 miles of twisty single track. With such short laps and four hours of racing, it's going to get wild once people start lapping each other. But if we use a chip timing system like last year it shouldn't be too stressful for the people counting laps.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the first race approaches

Michaux Mash, first race of the year, Saturday.

Last year I won the best homemade number plate competition with my inflatable pack-flamingo:

(Apparently I didn't need to see out of my right eye.)

But this year I won't have that chance. The race is all official with real number plates and stuff. There's even a single speed class.

And it looks like it's going to be really competitive:

There's plenty of fast dudes in there, including my arch-evil-twenemy that I'm not related to, the Tressler Brothers, and the two loafs I'm sharing a hotel room/camping spot with.

But the fastiest of them all was the last to register. He registers at the last minute because nobody else would bother if he signed up first. He never loses a race. He leaves me sobbing and rolling in the mud like a wounded wildabeest every time I race him.

He's Gerry "The Strangler" Pflug.

Oh that stocking cap gives me the chills. Terrifying.

So, with a great challenge ahead of me, I think it's time to reveal the official 2011 season theme song:

May it's brassy funkiness carry me to victory.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

more promiscuous jukes and mentally impaired sea-life

To follow up on the Promiscuous Nissan Juke, I asked a girl in my class who is very into cars if she would ever be promiscuous with a turbo Juke owner.

Her answer:


I expected that.

Then she added. "I would never date someone who drove a foreign car."


art work by dick face

Then I thought about it, and I think I only have one close friend that drives an American car. And that's a now defunct Pontiac. I guess I better stay away from car-type drag strips (I would probably be welcome at the other type of drag strip.)

Unfortunately, the rest of that promiscuous post was not without controversy. The very nice Church Lady came and talked at school, then linked to everybody.

One reader was quite offended by this sentence: "And lastly, putting a turbo in a car that looks like a retarded manatee trapped inside a Sketchers Shape-Up is not going to allow me to have "sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis."

Offended reader said: "You should consider signing this pledge and sharing it with others:
Better yet, you could write a blog post about the issue, encourage people not to use such a derogatory word and help make the southwestern PA corner a better place.
Think about it..."
So, if you're a manatee or whale and you're reading this post on your coral computer, I'm sorry. But I'm not going to give you an apologetic hug. I still think you're ugly and slimy. Shit. Just used the u-word. Damn me.

I will acknowledge that I can be an insensitive idiot. But it's not my fault. I hang out with Don Powers too much.

Anyway, I think I was really doing that person a favor because white people like being offended.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Laurel Highlands 50 and Coopers Rocks

Don Powers asked if I wanted to ride on the mountain. I wanted to.

Don Powers mapped out a route that strung together every long painful climb in the Laurel Mountain area. I wanted to kill Don Powers.

I felt good for the first couple climbs, then my back started to lock up. It just wasn't ready to grind up that many miles of steep dirt.

Over on the Laurel Mountain side of the mountain parts of the fire road were still frozen.

We rode across on Beam Run Trail, which is just another fire road, then hit all the rocky single track through Black Bear, Wolf Rocks, and Fish Run.

I was eating vegan cookies and granola bars that I pilfered from Colleen. For some reason, they weren't doing shit for my energy levels. I'm done with sawdust and cranberries on long bike rides.

After beating ourselves to death on ten miles of rock gardens, Don insisted that we ride the whole way down the mountain.

Then we rode the whole way back up. Something in my lower back felt like it was going to rupture every time I turned the pedals over.

Don will probably want me to mention that I was tired in the last ten miles. So there. I mentioned it.

When we finally got back to the cars I drove straight to the Pie Shop and bought two cherry turnovers and a Starbucks bottled sugar coffee thing.

The next day we headed to Coopers Rock in WV for an easy ride with a hunchback and some other people.

I brought two king sized Twix Bars and some Reese's Cups and felt great all day. That proves that processed sugar garbage is superior to processed soy garbage for bike riding.

Coopers has a really nice network of trails. I'll have to hit that place more this year.

I was keeping my camera in a plastic bag (I'm very open to clever dry-camera suggestions), so it was a pain in the ass take pictures. I did a bad job of documenting the ride. But there were nice views:

Some standing and shin welts:

And dirty dirt:

We went to Burger King afterwards. Everybody ate some floppy little slabs of meat. Mine had two miserable slices of bacon. Don was very proud of consuming three double cheese burgers. I was very grossed out.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

promiscuous nissan jukes and rotten couches

I was listening to the skatilites on Pandora and going about my rat killing watching a ball python kill a rat, when the music stopped for an ad.

We put a turbo in the Nissan Juke so you can be as promiscuous with the ladies as you are with your music!

I have a number of problems with this.

I've never met a girl that was impressed out of her pants by car, let alone a Japanese economy suv thing.

I don't appreciate that google tracks my every move on line, knows that I'm a young male, knows I like stupid looking cars, and knows that I have casual sex with my Pandora stations.

And lastly, putting a turbo in a car that looks like a retarded manatee trapped inside a Sketchers Shape-Up is not going to allow me to have "sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis."

Unless I can find a girl that's really turned on by sea-life and bad tennis shoes.

I did ride my bike yesterday, and I was going to come on here today and talk about how great it is to be a mountain biker in Western PA.

Then I ran into a branch that forced it's way up my nasal passage and made contact with my brain, killing the area that allows me to love Pennsylvania.

So here's my ride. There was a decayed couch. Yellow and orange shot gun shells. Slag heaps. An empty case of Keystone Lite. And some muddy ATV trails.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

mushroom melts

Inspired by my girlfriend's and friend who is not a girl's blogs, I decided to make weird looking hippy food. (Actually I was forced to because I ran out of cereal and tortellini.)

When ever I cook something, I have one goal. Edibility.

It doesn't have to taste or look nice, but it must make me feel like I've eaten something. This opens me up to range options that are overlooked by most people.

Things like peanut butter dipped carrots, Chexmix n' tuna, and provolone and honey sandwiches all burn in the great gastrointestinal furnace.

So yesterday I chopped up some fungus, covered it in cheese, and threw it on an English muffin.

To my surprise, it was more than edible. It actually tasted like food. But in the end it was a failure, because I wasn't full and had to supplement my diet with a bunch of pretzels.

Back to bikes.

It rained yesterday when I left class. I hated it. The Gnar Check V.2 has no fenders. My ass got soaked. I hated it more. I was cold.

I'm down to the treads on the Gnar Check V.2's rear tire. I plan to keep skidding it around corners until it pops. That should be an exciting event.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ohiopyle - sugarloaf/ mccune/ baughman loop

This has to be one of the biggest single track climbs in PA:

Seven miles with 1722 of elevation gain, all in one push. (Elevation profiles are a cyclist's version of blasting terrible music with the windows down. "Notice me notice me! Does this make my penis look bigger?")

It's almost as long as the Wheeler Loop climb at Breck Epic (minus the thin air.)

I mapped it out from Wilderness Voyaguers in town. I guesstimated the exact route since I have yet to enter the age of gps's and spinal taps and other bicycle mounted wiz-bangery.

Although I did recently upgrade my telephone so that it could remind me of important events:

Masking tape app(lication)

Anyway, there should be a cue sheet of trail names on the MapMyRide.

I do a short version of this loop most days over the summer, but on Sunday I went the whole way to the top of the mountain.

It was almost 90 minutes of standing on the pedals. Most of Sugarloaf is wide and covered in loose river stones. In the middle it's almost too steep to clear.

On top of the mountain at McCune, the trail narrows down and the vegetation is scrubby. Stuff gets twisty and rocky like Big Bear or Laurel Mountain. There's a few overlooks on the trail. The river is a long way down. 

After that, the downhill is almost 20 minutes of steep singletrack. My hands went numb from the cold, and I could barely grab the brakes before I hit the last steep drop on Baughman.

It good preparation for the Annual Championship of the Universe of Riding Raccoon Trails.

Friday, March 11, 2011

the poorly composed parting shot

I don't think people spend much time reading blogs on Friday, and I don't feel like writing a lot. (If you want to read something, I have an article in today's Post-Gazette.) So I'm going to start ending the week with a few bad pictures.

Bird eats squirrel:

Montana eats bird:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

clearing mohican

I did go to Mohican the other day, and all the trails were perfect.

Well, all of them except this one:

This trail will be temporarily closed while Columbia Gas is working on the well clearings. Sorry for the inconvenience. 

Like most state forests, I'm sure that Mohican has had wells in place for a while. I just can't help thinking that I'll be running in to closures like this pretty often now that Marcellus drilling is ramping up.

I went back to check it out, and the gas company had cut about a 30 foot wide swath of trees out. I assume it was for a pipe line.

Leasing popular park land to a gas company is like renting a church for a porn convention. There are some places that should be off limits.

But at least the notice was polite.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

missed exits and bananas fosters coffee

Back into the grey plains.

Every time I drive into Ohio, I look down at my ipod to skip some terrible song at exactly the wrong second. Then I curse loudly, smack my steering wheel, and miss the exit.

This time I ended up at the Arabica Cafe, so it was alright.

The place reminded me of the Coffee Bean where I used to work. It had the same horribly confusing and inconvenient entrance, pumpkin orange bathroom walls, and fake fire place.

I got a mug of bananas fosters coffee. It smelled exactly like artificial banana and tasted exactly like coffee.

I normally like things to smell like they taste (garlic should smell like garlic and taste like garlic, tofu should smell like processed soy garbage and taste like processed soy garbage, ect.) but the banana fosters coffee was a nice effect. The nose had me expecting to taste something kind of I enjoy, but then it hit the tongue and turned out to be something I love.

Once I got to Wooster, the town was so excited that they brought out their miserable smiling pizza slice to greet me.

I rode the 24 mile loop at Mohican yesterday, and it was great. Maybe I'll talk about that tomorrow.