Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

back down by the river

Yesterday I took my last final, turned in my last papers, and moved back into my tent down by the river.

I'm pretty pumped to have a platform this year. No more sleeping in the mud for this guy.

Now I don't have to worry about anything other than riding my bike and being buried at work under piles,

and piles

and piles of new stuff to receive.

I just registered for the Michaux Maximus this weekend. Hopefully I'll have better luck out there this time than I've had in the past. The single speed category has more riders than any other category right now. Should be a pretty slammin race.

And a final note about the Pisgah contest, you need to be signed in to facebook to vote, and this link should get you to the contest. Lemme know if that works. If you haven't voted, go click it. I'm trailing 2nd by around 35 votes, and only the top two get to go race.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Pisgah Mountain Stage Race blog competition has re-started and moved to facebook

Massively important news. The Pisgah Mountain Stage Race Bloggers Grant is now on Facebook. All previous votes are void.

So if you voted for before, do me a huge favor and go recast your vote. Right here:
Blue Ridge Adventures

Thanks a ton.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

cute hamsters

One final tomorrow morning, then I'm a free man. I'd express how excited I am, but it's only coming out as a high pitch squeak. And nobody likes reading squeaks.

The trees around here are finally getting their green on:

And the trees that aren't are getting their dead on:

As the skid mark shows, this one almost killed me. Sam Morrison tried to make a snide facebook remark about how hard that corner was to see around, but fortunately he's a failure of a college student and is unable to use social networks. And he doesn't understand the mind bending speed at which I was traveling down that singletrack.

31.8. My mind is bent.

I hate to keep beating on this, but if you haven't voted for me in the PMBSR, go hit a couple buttons and vote. If I win, I'll have plenty of fun things to write about. If I lose, I'll pout for a couple minutes. But seriously, go vote. You can vote once from every computer you have access to. Tanks.

At the last count I had something like 150 votes. Many more people than that read this thing everyday, so that leads my to a few conclusions.

1. I am a meat bag and people don't care if I get to go stage race
2. People don't feel like clicking the links because they are distracted by incredibly cute pictures of hamsters
3. A combination of the first two

I'm leaning towards option three, but I'm baffled by the speediness at which the new entrants to the contest gathered votes. And many of them just started blogs. Such mysteries.

Here's a picture of a cute hamster in case I tricked you with that other link:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the new race machine

Before the unveiling of the new racing bicycle, I must again ask you to go vote for me in the Pisgah Mountain Stage Race Blogger's Competition. Two clicks to make me a very happy stage racing man. Thanks for being swell.

And without any further groveling for votes, I give you the Yet To Be Victorious Victory Melon:

The bike handles exactly like I want it to, is pretty light, and I know all the parts will hold up to being ridden hard everyday. Most importantly, construction worker's safety vests shield themselves from it's brightness.

I couldn't imagine a nicer single speed, and I have to express extreme gratitude to those fine sponsor type folks for that.

I've read a lot of internet complaining about the Biocentric ebb slipping and creaking. But I've gotta say, the thing works perfectly if it's set up right.

Up and forward is the key. Looking at the bike from the non-drive side (the opposite of this picture) (i went out my way to make this confusing) if the bottom bracket is positioned from 12 to 9 o'clock, there's no way it's going to slip. Every pedal stroke is bringing the force forward, and trying to tighten the chain.

Here's a bad post-it-note scribble to illustrate my point:

Until Rob and Don turned me on to the high-forward thing last year, even my old set screw ebb was slipping. After, no slips.

The bigger I9 Enduro front and DT RWS Thru bolt definitely help with front end stiffness. It's not a real thru-axle, but it's a big improvement over a regular quick release. And the bigger bearings are super smooth.

Here are all the fun little details:
frame: Niner One9
wheels: Industry 9 Ultralight Single Speed Enduro
grips: Ergon GX1 Carbon
tires: Continental Race/Mountain King
fork: Rock Shox Reba
bottom bracket: Chris King
headset: Chris King
brakes: Formula RX
rotors: Formula R1
cranks: Shimano SLX
chainring: E13 Guide 38t
cog: Endless Bikes 20t
pedals: Crank Bro's Candy 3
post: Thompson 410mm (extended to the minimum insertion line)
saddle: WTB Rocket V SLT
skewers: DT Swiss 9mm RWS Thru Bolt
bars and stem: Raceface Atlas 50mm

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the poorly composed parting shot 6: Delaware, Ohio

Well, I did say I was going to introduce the new bike today, but it's quite nasty outside. Too nasty to take any decent pictures. So I'll save that for later in the week.

But I did forget to do a photo Friday last week, so now I'll do it now. Behold the glory of Delaware, Ohio:

I'd be pissed if some fool towed my burro:

The outside of a brothel:

And a gluten intolerant person's idea of a Subway breakfast sandwich:

Monday, April 18, 2011

mohican wilderness race report 2011

mohican wilderness - ombc #2 - 6th expert/open - sunny, windy, 50 degrees

This picture pretty much sums up how my race went:

A closer view:

Not so good.

Tim and I drove to Ohio on Friday night. Despite his best efforts to kill us by power sliding around the on and off ramps, we didn't crash or blow up the engine in his little Hyundai Elantra (although it was shaking like an electrocuted chipmunk above 65mph.) We were supposed to race the Mohican Wilderness on Saturday, then head to Big Bear that night, camp, and race Big Bear on Sunday.

It was a great plan. Until it thunder stormed and Mohican was bumped to Sunday.

So I went and watched Colleen's track meet, which was not canceled by the strong winds and threatening clouds.

It looked like this for 25 laps:

No thank you. I'm so glad I started riding bikes.

Tim called while I was at the meet, and after a long council we decided to go camp at Mohican that night.

We did. It rained and the wood was wet.

Once we got the fire blazing everything was swell. Then it rained harder and we had to run for the tents. It was like a repeat of the thunderstorms the night before the Mohican 100 last year. I was terrified that I would drown in mud again.

Sunday morning was cool and breezy. The rain stopped, and it looked like it might turn out to be a nice day. We packed up the tents and headed over to the starting line.

There was only one other single speeder there, so I registered for the Open class. I thought it would be alright. Tim made it sound like the course was nice and flowy.

I went to the port-a-poty one last time, smeared A&D ointment on my crotch, then lined up. "3,2,1 go!"

(I don't know why the guy on the white bike was wearing aero shoe covers in a mountain bike race. But they must have done something because he beat me.)

Everybody went hard through the first field and into the little piece of single track. I was right behind Tim when we popped back onto a field on the other side. The wind was cutting across the empty field like the blast from a jet. I tucked behind line of guys in front of me and everybody slowed way down. Tim jumped out of the pace line and took the lead.

As soon as we hit the first climb I knew I had no chance of placing well. It was so damn steep. I was giving it everything to keep turning the pedals over, and there was a big root in the middle of every switch back. I would lose traction then have to run until it flattened out a little.

The climb was two miles long. By the top the leaders were way out of sight and I couldn't see straight. I tried to make up some time on the down hills, but I wasn't very smooth there either. Didn't ride enough last week.

On the bright side, it was a beautiful day and the trails were in perfect shape. I was having a great time, but I just didn't have the legs to go fast.

Every downhill was the same. Rocks, nice carving bends, then a sharp 180 degree turn at the bottom that pointed right back up the hill. I had to scrub all my speed going into the corner, then start the climb with no momentum. It was about as hard as a course could be on a single speed.

And it went on for three laps. I felt better on lap two, but on the third lap I was totally spent. I had to hike and run most of the steep stuff.

I rolled into the finish, saw Colleen holding a camera, and made the most disgruntled face I could muster:

Tim knew all weekend that he would win, and he did. By a fair amount. He had a great ride. It was a cool race, but I wish we would have gotten to hit Big Bear as well.

The new bike held up well, with no creaks or slips from the Biocentric ebb, so now I feel like I can properly introduce it. Tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

the pisgah mountain stage race 2011 blog competition


Yesterday I mentioned that I entered another bloggers grant competition. And yesterday they put my un-peeled self up on the contest page:

Montana Miller:

Another singlespeeder promising to crush Dicky. That banana looks angry.

Worst experience on a bike? 2010 Mohican 100 in Ohio. It thunder stormed before and during the race, and we had to deal with 100 miles of horrible mud and farm run off. There was a 50% drop out rate during the race. I finished, but ended up with some sort of digestive disease from ingesting so much crushed up cow feces.

Scroll down to the bottom of Pisgah page and vote now: right here

The competition is for the Pisgah Mountain Stage Race in North Carolina. The race is five days, 185 miles, and has 40,000 feet of climbing. I've never been down to Pisgah, but it sounds like a super cool place.

The two bloggers with the most votes win a free entry to the race.

I really want to go. I posted on the facebook that I would grant my "undying affection" to anyone that voted for me. While that attracted supportive comments from five girls and JR Petsko, there didn't seem to be any male takers.

So now I would like to offer "hearty fist bumps and appreciative handshakes" in addition to "undying affection" to anyone who votes for me. You may choose one or both.

Vote here. Thank ya kindly.

Apparently the tiny convertible is going to need a new transmission, timing belt, water pump, and possibly clutch. So it looks like I'm gonna have to rely on friends to get places for a while.

I'm hooking up with Tim Carson to race on Saturday at Mohican, Ohio and Sunday at Big Bear Lake, WV. Something weird and fun to write about will happen. I have no doubt. I just hope that nobody poops in a field:

My new Niner arrived yesterday. I've decided to name it the Victory Mellon. More on that after I finish building it:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

another blog contest

Late edit: the contest for the Pisgah Mountain Stage Race is up. I'd appriciate it mightily if you'd go vote. The link to vote is right under the picture of me in the bananaVOTE HAR. Thanks folks.

I've officially thrown my mediocre blog into another stage race contest. It's a good thing Dicky mentioned it. Since I just sent in my entry, I'm not up on the contest page yet, so I'm not gonna provide a link. I wouldn't want anybody to vote for the wrong person.

Although I probably have no chance of beating Dicky with my Knobby Meat in the blog competition, I don't need to. The top two get free entries. So all I have to do is sneak in in second place, then I can focus on crushing him during the race.

Three days of class left, and I'm frying my brain writing about birth control and aids in Botswana, detective fiction, and a cleaned up newspaper version of Don and Montana's Big Gay WV Adventure.

So, here's a picture of a cat. He's always good for blog filler:

And before anybody notices the tiny dumbbells and makes fun of me, I want to make it clear that they aren't mine. Colleen left them here. I swear it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bummer day. It's back down to 45 degrees (from 85 on Sunday) and pouring.

Occasionally riding a bike isn't super fun.

But at least Mountwood was really cool. The trails out there are awesome when they're dry. There's a ton of pictures up now.

The next race is Big Bear on Sunday, and I might do the OMBC Mohican Wilderness race on Saturday if I can hook up with Tim de la Garcon to get out there.

I still haven't heard anything from the mechanic heading up the tiny convertible revival process, so my petroleum powered future is still in limbo.

Monday, April 11, 2011

mountwood challenge race report 2011

1st SS - 2nd Overall - Dry, sunny, 85 degrees - 25 miles - 2:06 hours

I picked Don Powers up in the tiny convertible at 7 to start our Big Gay WV Adventure. We were cruising down 79, and Don Powers kept begging me to put the top down so he could feel the wind in his hair. I told him to wait. We would put it down in a few minutes when the fog burned off.

Then the transmission popped out of gear. I put it back in. It popped out again. Everything started rattling and grinding in a horrible way. I put it in forth and crawled to the last exit in Pennsylvania. We were six miles from Morgantown.

I pulled into a gas station and called Rob. They were a few miles behind us, but he didn't think his small VW would be able to take two more people. Probably right. So he had Aaron start calling people. He got a hold of Joanna and MJ, who were also a few minutes behind us on 79.

Rescued by the women in the big pickup truck, we abandoned the tiny convertible and our Big Gay WV Adventure. But we were still going bike racing. The whole ordeal cost us about 15 minutes. It's good to know nice people.

When we pulled into Mountwood Park the place was packed. The turn out was huge since it was a combined WV and OH series race. The sun was out and it was legitimately hot for the first time since September.

We lined up on the road and I punched Nate Annon in the ribs a few times as we compared the size of our emaciated biceps.

"20 seconds. No, hold on. 3 2 1 go!" the starter yelled.

I clipped in and sprinted hard. I took the lead on the road climb kept it until the top of the hill. I thought the single track started when the pavement ended, so it seemed like all the work to get the hole shot would be worth it.

It wasn't. Turned on to a long section of rolling gravel double track. Hell. I was breathing hard and loosing ground. Went way to hard off that start.

A bunch of geared guys passed me, then a single speeder I didn't know, then Nate. When we finally hit the single track I was in about 10th. Tim Carson two other guys had formed a lead group and were breaking away.

I was still trying to recover from that start. Nate started making quick passes. I tried to go with him, but I was still recovering from that fast start. He pulled away.

After a few miles, I let Joey the Riddler go around me. I sat on his wheel and we started picking up the pace. Not feeling great, but not terrible either.

It was so hot. My vision was going blurry on the hills. I was putting out so much effort, generating so much heat, and moving so slow. The sun was beating down through the leafless trees, and there was no breeze. My hands were on fire and my head felt like it was going to pop.

We ripped down a switch backed descent and rolled on to the paved road around the lake. I went around the Riddler and started chasing Nate down. I reached out and grabbed a cup of water from the water stop and dumped it on my head.

Back into the woods. I caught some guy on gears first, and kept getting glimpses of Nate through the trees. He was getting closer. I pedaled hard and cruised along the flowing dirt.

Caught him in a field. We complained about how hot it was, then I went around him and put in an effort to get away. He looked pretty cracked.

Then I saw Tim Carson. He looked back at me, and his face was the color of a stop sign. He was barely moving. Even from a hundred yards back, I could tell what was wrong. His fancy new $8,000 Specilized Epic only had room to carry one bottle.

I caught him right as he was grabbing his second bottle from a post on the side of the trail. There were only six miles left to go. It was way to late for him. I'd drank 48 ounces of water in the same time he'd had 24. I went around and wished him luck.

That put me in 2nd overall. I passed some volunteers and they told me I was four minutes behind the leader. There wasn't enough course left to catch him. I rode conservatively into the finish. Nate came in a few minutes later.

I was pumped to finish 2nd and win single speed in such a big field. When I saw how dry and fast the trails were, I wasn't expecting anything better than a top ten overall. And with how bad I felt at the start, I wasn't sure I'd even be able to catch Nate. But as bad as I felt, the heat made everybody else feel even worse.

When it's dry, Mountwood is one of the best race courses I've ever been on. The trails are awesome and fast, there's room to pass, and there are plenty of tight turns and fun downhills. It's perfect.

After the race, we sat in a stream and Don Powers puked everywhere.

It was a solid first race, but not a good day for the tiny convertible. Poor guy:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

skinned palms and explosives

I hit some railroad tracks on my way to class today. Usually when I misjudge a distance and hop into a big metal rail, I un-clip and put a foot down. No drama, and I continue making engine noises and yelling "IMA DUMP TRUCK!" to scare people on the bike path.

But today I was wearing my extra special shoes that occasionally and unexpectedly refuse to disengage from the pedal.

Now I have medical tape for palm skin:

After refusing to grant a frazzled-shopping-cart-pushing-bag-woman passage on the trail until she kissed my boo boo, I went home to watch a Cash Cab marathon and cry.

But my bald guy driving a mini van and asking stupid questions session kept getting interrupted by two bald guys performing a movie length advertisement for the Dodge Challenger:

And I've decided that I must go see it. The Rock grew facial hair just so I, the lowly movie consumer, could distinguish him from Vin Diesel. That's an effort that I won't take for granted.

FAST5 (the title isn't really all caps, but it should be) is the ideal movie. Lots of people taking themselves too seriously, going nowhere as fast as possible, and ultimately accomplishing nothing. It's just like bike racing with more explosions. Pure heaven.

Speaking of bike racing and explosions, the first West Virginia race of the year is this Sunday. But I think I mentioned that yesterday in my wildly exciting post about hexagonal tools. In any case, it's all I feel like thinking about. At least it's mostly harmless.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the lightest multi-tool

I saw Tim Carson for the first time since we parted ways in Boulder last August. He stayed on the road until Christmas and went all the way from Montana to San Diego to Florida before heading back to Pittsburgh. Lucky.

We rode at Apollo, and he was ripping his single speed. On the other hand, I was still a little sick and dizzy, and kept falling into trees.

He's going to be at Mountwood this Sunday also. Since it's a combination Ohio Series and West Virginia Series race, I'm betting there are going to be a ton of fast dudes there. I better get over this cold thing real quick.

I was thinking about something Team Wiener Wagon said somewhere. It might have been on his blog, or it might have been in the land of over-punctuation and irrational rants (waa! my bike part wore out!!!! I wnted it to last frver!!!!!!...?).

Anyway, the Team Chipmunk Testes said he doesn't carry a multi-tool in races.

This is the stuff I was carrying (excluding my tooth brush on the right)

Pretty small package, but I check all the bolts on my bike, and sure enough, it was too much. I only have 4mm, 5mm, and T25 torx bolts on my bike.

So I gathered up those three tools. Then I pulled apart an old crank brothers multi tool and stole the chain tool.

I can stick the 5mm in the hole and use it as a handle:

And there's the whole thing bundled up next to the old multi-tool:

The only thing I don't have is an 8mm for my pedals. I'm sure that means they're going to fall off next time I ride.