Thursday, March 29, 2012


Finally got a chance to bleed my brakes. The bleed screws need to be vertical to do a good job, so I rigged up this sweet setup with an old road bar (I've never owned a road bike, but somehow I have a bunch of old road bars sitting around. The unstoppable accumulation of stuff.)

I didn't have an old rotor, so I used the 25t "Sam is a giant pussy/ Diedre wears the pants" Breckenridge cog to hold the caliper.

The brakes feel good, all my bearings are re-packed, and I think my bike is ready to go for Dragons Tale. Which is good, because I'm heading to the Bird's Nest tomorrow.

And I'm finally retiring my trusty Giro Atmos. Way back in 2010, at the WVMBA Championship race, I rode into a big hole going about 20 mph. My bike was swallowed. I went over the bars and landed squarely on my head. It left a big dent in my helmet:

I probably should have retired it right away. But I kept putting it off, and before I knew it two years went by. Whoops 

So yesterday I grabbed a Giro Xar, which the Viking Cat refuses to let me photograph.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Post Tuscarora and Pre Dragon's Tail

Just a couple things to follow up the Tuscarora race report (Part 1, Part 2.)

There was a Pittsburgh sweep of the single speed podium. Pflug, me, Dahn Pahrs, Stickboy the Skinny Hobbit, then Jpok. Stick was slower than Dahn because he ate a mushroom for dinner. Dahn ate a 14oz piece of beef steak.

Cinder Bloch came in 7th and ruined what could have been a six-place sweep. I forgive him. He was racing without a big toe nail.

As predicted, JPok did smash his bike. He double flatted, then complained that the course was "all road."

The Pflug is still fast. I'm waiting for the day that I catch up with his increasing elderliness. Maybe when he turns 60.

Harlan Wikipedia Stub Price didn't show up. Must not have wanted to get muddy. Not a bad choice.

Every bearing on my bike was full of sand. My front wheel felt fine on Monday, but it seized up yesterday when I was trying to pull it apart and clean it. I've never seen my stuff that bad. If you raced, I suggest popping all those bearing seals off. As a guy once told me, bicycles are not submersibles.

Shimano external bottom brackets say "DO NOT DISASSEMBLE." Apparently they say that because Shimano wants you to buy new one every time the bearings get crunchy. I just pulled mine apart and packed it with new grease. It's fine.

I'm going to Dragon's Tale this weekend with Bradley the Birdman of Charleston and Mayor McCheese. So today I really need to put my bike back together.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 Tuscarora Enduro Part 2

Part 1
Photos by Abe Landes.

Zach, the promoter, has grown a huge Amish beard over the long pleasant winter. He's wearing a camo jacket, running shorts, crocks, and a fedora with a feather. He cracks a whip. The women take off. The single speeders shuffle forward.

"Alright guys, we're going to wait five minutes or so," he says. I'm standing next to the Pflug. He hands me his bike and runs behind a tree. I consider letting all the air out of his tires.

"30 seconds."

The Pflug takes his bike back. Zach cracks the whip. I clip in and sprint. Up the first long gravel-road climb. It's wetter and slower than yesterday. I get on the Pflug's wheel and we break away from the rest of the pack.

We roll across the top, then down gravel on the other side. On the first section of single track, Pflug dismounts and starts to run. I stay with him. I know he's going to keep going hard until he drops me, but maybe he'll back off a little if I make it clear that I plan on sticking behind him. On some level, I also know that my logic makes no sense.

Back on our bikes, we start passing. First some of the women, then the old guys class, then the back of the open men's field. I make every pass with Pflug. I don't want to let him get away because I'm stuck behind somebody.

Into the mud bog section. First lap, and it's bad through here. The puddles are hub-deep and getting deeper. I ride when the Pflug rides, and run when he runs.
(the devil incarnate)

Up a steep muddy climb, over more slow gravel, then into the only real downhill on the course. I shoot around Pflug and hammer down the hill. I know this is the only spot on the course that I'll be able to put any time into him.

"Hey man, I need to pass on the left," I yell to a rider up ahead. When I get closer, I see the dude has long blond hair and is wearing a skirt. Not a guy. That's embarrassing. I should stop calling everybody man.

I hit the road at the bottom and look back. The Pflug pops out of the woods 15 seconds later. That's not enough.

I fight to keep moving on the power-sucking gravel. Pflug is way stronger than me on road sections like this, so there's no point in trying to drop him. Half a mile later, he comes whizzing past, attached to a geared rider. Typical. I sprint to get in position to draft those two. You're not rid of me yet Pfucking Pflug.

Through the start finish without stopping. One lap down in about 40 minutes. This is going to be a six lap race for sure.

We start the climb again. Near the top I attack. I can't hold this pace for four more hours, so I need to see if I can get away from him. If he counters, I'll just have to let him go.

He counters. Hard. I back off. Now you're rid of me Pfucking Pflug.

Just grind out the miles now. I might have a chance if he has a mechanical, otherwise I'm gonna have to ride for second. He's too strong, and I haven't put in the miles yet this year.

I ride three more laps at a steady pace. Every time I go around the circuit the mud is deeper and wetter. Surprisingly, it's easier to ride through. By the third lap I'm able to ride through the bog section. But it gets harder and harder to turn the pedals on the soft gravel.

On a flat section I pull my bibs down and start peeing off the bike.

As I round a corner, an attractive female photographer steps out of the woods. This is more embarrassing than calling that other girl a guy. But there's nothing I can do. I continue peeing in her direction as I ride by.

I'm walking up the steep hiking section half way through lap four. I look behind me. Shit. Don Powers. How the hell did he so far up here? I start to run.

"Dahn Pahrs ride fast! Dahn Pahrs!" His shouts echo through the woods. Fuck. He can't catch me. I can't let that happen. I'll have to ride home with Cinder Bloch if he does. It'll be unbearable. Hours of gleeful shouting and weeks of demeaning Facebook posts. Don't even think it. Being caught is not an option.

Damn that guy. I was having such a nice relaxing race in the horrible mud, and he had to ruin it. I jump on my bike at the top of the ridge and blast through the puddles again. Half of my fork is submerged when I ride through.

On every clear section, I look behind me. No Dahn Pahrs. Up a draggy gravel climb. 

My legs start to twitch. I pound them with a fist. No you fuckers. You're not allowed to cramp now.

Through the start finish and up the climb for the last time. I look back at the top. Dahn Pahrs is down at the bottom. Dammit. I can't let off. 

When my legs start to twitch I get off and run. When my calves start to twitch I get back on and try to ride. So close now. If I can get to the downhill without seeing him, I should be set. My arms start to lock up going down the hill. I look back. No Dahn Pahrs. Thank god. I coast into the finish. Six laps and 40ish miles down.

Dahn rolls across the finish about three minutes later. I throw my bike in the creek and sit down in the icy water. The mud washes away.

2nd single speed, and 6th overall (5th if you count the staggered start.) Zach put on a great race this year. Even with the terrible mud, which I completely blame Tlaloc for, it was a fun race. And the prizes were great. Nugget Nectar, peanuts, and practical trophies. I plan to use the ax and burn the wood. 
(I don't like that Dahn Pahrs is still taller than me. I need a bigger 2nd place log.) 

2012 Tuscarora Enduro Part 1

On Friday night, I was standing outside the Pub watching some rednecks try to pull start a Harley with another Harley.

It started to rain. Somebody yelled "Shoulda bought a Honda!" The rednecks got the Harley started, then tried to kill the Asian kid standing outside. He was not the one who yelled about the Honda.

On Saturday morning it rained more. I met Dahn Pahrs by the turnpike. It kept raining.

When we got to Tuscarora, the rain had slowed down a little. We parked next to Ole Cinder Bloch and Stickboy the Skinny Hobbit and headed out to do a pre-ride. Stick was on the lightest gear, 36x23, and took off up the first hill. The water had saturated the gravel sections. I felt like I was trying to ride through fresh cement. The we hit the trail. The puddles were already bottom bracket deep. We finished the six-mile lap in under 45 minutes. I started getting myself ready to do that five or more times tomorrow.

Bikes loaded, we drove to the hotel. Cider Bloch's GPS took us up and over a mountain pass, where we had to stop and clear a tree from the road.

I got the key to our room from hunched over old Peggy, and Cider Bloch discovered that he didn't fit on the beds. (If you want to keep your breakfast down, I suggest scrolling through the next part really fast. You've been warned.)

Then his big toe nail fell off:
He kicked something hard at work, and his steel toe boot broke his toe. Steel still isn't soft, even when it's lining the toe of a boot. Go figure.

After I fainted and almost drowned in a pool of my own vomit from looking at Cinder Block's toe, we went to dinner. Stickboy the Skinny Hobbit ordered a portobello mushroom burger. I grinned, knowing that his communist-vegetarian beef deficiency would lead to a poor performance in tomorrow's race. While we were eating, we talked about how we were going to trade some cogs to get lower gearings. Dahn had a 22 that he would give to Cinder Bloch, and I would take Cinder Bloch's 21.

Outside of the restaurant, somebody said "Alright, ready to get back to the hotel and do the big cog swap?"

"Yeah, let's swap some cogs," I said.

The middle aged couples going into the restaurant looked at us with their mouthes open. I'm pretty sure they heard, "Alright, ready to get back to the hotel and do the big cock swap?"

"Yeah, lets swap some cocks."

The next morning, Peggy made us blueberry waffles. I covered mine in Table Syrup, which doesn't even pretend to have maples in it. To be continued.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tuscarora Pre-Post-Race

I had to spend all my free time today re-packing every bearing on my bike, so I'm going to write my race report tomorrow morning.

Until then, here I am:

Desperately trying to escape everybody's favorite neanderthal:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tuscarora Mountain Bike Enduro

This Sunday is the first race of the year. Dahn Pahrs, Cinder Bloch, Stick, and I are registered. I called a woman named Peggy and booked a cheap room in the Kenmar Motel. My gel jug order came in.

Now I just have to mentally prepare myself to be crushed. There are 23 single speeders signed up.

One of them is Justin JPOK SMASH Pokrivka. He's very fast when he doesn't destroy his bicycle.

Another is the Pfucking Pflug. I've can only beat him at altitude and in stages of stage races that are in North Carolina and shorter than 30 miles. So twice. Two wins and 30ish losses isn't a good record.

Then there's Harlan Wikipedia Stub Price. He has a red white and blue America jersey, because he represented the US in the UCI Marathon World Championships. That means he's good at bike riding. I hope I get to ride on his wheel for a couple seconds going down hill.

Finally, my three previously mentioned motel-mates have been doing long rides on Laurel Mountain since January.

I've been typing papers and receiving dirty hippy sandal orders at work. So I think I have a really good chance of winning.

The course looks like this:

1,100 feet of climbing in 6.5 miles is a lot. The cut off is at four hours, so I'll probably get to do five laps if I'm moving really fast. I'm excited. First race report of 2012 will be up on Monday.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Digging Ditches and Writing Stuff

It's spring time, and that means it's flood season in the WV bike shop. So yesterday I dug a ditch. Glamorous.

The new Dirt Rag is out. It has my article about the PIGSAW Stage Race. So if you're that snarky anonymous commenter who kept asking me where my stage five report was, go get the mag. In addition to my stuff, you'll get to read Chis's piece about lube and Dicky's piece about ass scratching.

(Note: There are exclamation points in the article. I didn't type them. I know that I'm probably the only one who cares, but I have to distance myself from those punctuation marks. They make me think of angry teenage girls, YouTube commenters, and angry teenage girls writing comments on YouTube.)

And you'll get to look at a picture of the Pflug. He shredded gnar that was available for shredding:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lunch loops

I borrowed a GPS from work and rode my usual lunch loop. It's way shorter than I thought it was:

(It doesn't look like the embedding thing is working. The GPS file is here.)

I was under the impression that it was six miles long, and I was shredding at 14 mph through the woods.

But it turned out to be half that. And I turned out to be going half that fast. Oh well. It's still pretty good mini race course. The first part is a mile long, 500' climb on loose gravel to pavement to gravel. Then the trail heads into the woods. The top section is twisty, and the bottom is rocky, bench cut, and covered in slippery logs.

I've done the lap on my rigid One9 twice, and it's been around 24 minutes both times. So now I have a good baseline.

Once my new cog order comes in, I'm going to give the RIPSS another shot. Then I'll hit the loop a few times on a hardtail. That should help me figure out what's fastest.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Breck Epic contest that I have nothing to do with

Since I'm thinking about what single speed I'm going to race this year, I'm also thinking about single speed races that I'm going to race this year.

Breck Epic is having a Single Speed Stage Race World Championships jersey design competition. The winner gets to have their jersey worn by the world's fastest stage racing single speeder in Breckenridge from August 12th to 17th. Terrible prize. Anyway, here's a link to the contest.

I would probably vote for this white kit if it was more black:

The problem with dumb ideas

Sometimes they don't work. Like the RIPSS. It doesn't work.

I thought I had everything set up perfectly. It was flawless on short, casual rides. Then I went on a group ride with Don Powers, Cinder Bloch Lochner, and Stickboy at Coopers Rocks.

Like the name implies, Coopers Rocks is rocky. Don Powers had been giving me shit about riding a full suspension single speed, so I was going fast on the downhills, trying to drop him and make him feel stupid. And it was great. The CVV suspension on the RIP really is awesome.

Then the chain dropped. And everybody passed me. Stickboy giggled. Then the chain dropped again. And again. Don Powers shouted joyfully while I tried to fix my bike.

The Paul Melvin wasn't working when stuff got rough. So I took it off and sold it on Ebay. I hope the guy that bought it isn't planning on building a sick gnarly full suspension single speed.

So now I have a few options.

I can use a Yess ETB/D. Dicky has one and supposedly it works, but it's also really draggy. A heavy bike with a draggy drivetrain does not make a good race bike.

Or I can use a derailleur as a tensioner:

I'm using some longer set screws to lock the mech in place:
That looks like it'll work.

But if I have to use a derailleur, I might as well throw a shift cable and a few gears on. And if I throw a shift cable and a couple gears on, I'll have to race geared.

So at this point, I'm thinking that I might do some WVMBA and ABRA races geared and try to win some money (the expert payouts in those races are pretty decent.) The RIP is a super fun bike, and I definitely want to keep riding it.

Then I'll have to figure out something else to race in the endurance stuff, SSUSA, and Breck Epic. I would use my old One9, but my tapered Reba won't work with the straight 1 1/8" headtube.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I'm getting rid of some bike stuff I don't need so that I can buy some other bike stuff I don't need. So I added a page on the top right with a list of stuff. 

If you want something, leave a comment or shoot me an email at I'm happy to do paypal and ship stuff.

Hope Pro II to Stan's Arch 29er - $400. I also have 20mm endcaps for the front hub.

A Mellow Shredding of the Gnar at Apllegrippis

On Wednesday I headed out to Raystown Lake with a couple friends from school.

It's been a couple years since I've been out there. Fun place. Miles and miles of flowing dips and turns.

Then yesterday I headed up to Laurel Mountain. It started pouring as soon as I rode away from the car. 

I was wearing a wool jersey that I hadn't washed in a while, and I think the moisture must have gotten into the wool membranes and released all the locked up up stink. As soon as it got wet, I was suffocated. The thing smelled like a wet dog that rolled in a tub of dirty lax pennies then grew some mold. 

So I just climbed up to the top of the ridge and aborted the ride at Grove Run Trail:

Grove Run is one of the hardest pieces of single track in the area. It's up and down, badly off camber, and full of big rock gardens. I hiked down the whole thing, and still crashed a few times.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Peacock Candlestick Lounge

When the slightly less warm weather set in (it hasn't been bad enough to call it a winter,) I moved out of my tent. Even though I don't splash around with people in rafts, I was able to grab a room in the guide house in town.

My room is right outside of the Peacock Candlestick Lounge (We spend a lot of evenings playing board games. I'm still waiting  for the game where Mrs. Peacock does it in the lounge with the candlestick.)
The Ping Pong table is a recent free-addition. I'll be really sad when some drunken beefcake breaks it this summer.

Anyway, my digs are pretty sweet.

I have a fridge in a fireplace:

A 90's radicool carpet:

A finely constructed bicycle rack:

And a pretty decent view:
All for 50 bucks a month. Can't beat that.