Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Of summer, photos, and fall.

The speed and chaos with which summer always steamrolls through is no longer a surprise. Embracing the chaos and riding it out seem to be the best plan, and I've gotten to where I can sometimes (~once a month at best) even slow down and catch my bearings for a brief moment before rushing off to the next good thing.

But the end of summer is always sweetest because I finally have a few moments to look through all of the pics I've snapped. A few of the trips I took this summer saw upwards of 700 pics being taken over as little as two days, and once I'm back home there's simply no time to flip through all of them before something more pressing demands my attention. This happens over and over from mid-April through early Oct, and leaves me with close to 10,000' trip images to flip through, not including stuff that I take locally.

Having all of these images to sort through is great, because usually I've already forgotten all but the most stunning moments and flipping through them allows me to relive and remember everything. The trips and rides themselves are always the focus anyway, the pics are just gravy.

Now that fall is here and the pace has slackened, I've found some time to edit a few pics. Nothing stunning, just a few good ones that remind me of the fun that was had and the memories that were made. The slideshow below catches me up to early May (!). Might have to wait a bit longer for the shots from mid-May onward.

Hope you enjoy 'em.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to rush out and enjoy the fall...

MC

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blues? And blue.

Just finished loading up the truck for VeloSwap. Overstuffed with 6 complete bikes, 12 wheelsets, 30+ tires, 30+ tubes, plus a few duffel bags of headsets, derailleurs, brakes, rotors, etc... you know--Very Important Stuff. Could not, can not rid myself of the image of Jake and Elwood sitting in the 'Bluesmobile':

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half pack of cigarettes, it's dark out, and we're wearing sunglasses..."

I'm actually not taking off until tomorrow AM, but I didn't want to wait to pack everything up at the last minute, as that's a guaranteed way to forget something impo'tant.

VeloSwap is a necessary evil for me just about every year. Ordering stuff in to have "in stock" year-round is still not much more than a guessing game. You just never can predict 100% what people are going to want. The "sure things" aren't always so sure, and this time of year I'm always sitting on a pile of inventory that's simply taking up space--space that I could be using for the stuff that does sell. So I cart it all down to VeloSwap, wheel and deal for the better part of 8 hours, and at the end of the day I can only hope that there's enough to cover all of my costs. It'd be really, really nice if I had a little jingle in my pocket for a good meal in the big city. I'd most likely spend it on sushi, but maybe not...

Now that I'm packed there's another matter to attend to: a deep, dark, cloudless-crystal-clear blue sky above, a raw temp of +70f, not a hint of a breeze, and 2+ hours of daylight left to spend.

"Hit it!"

MC

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No way out.

Like moths to a lamp, swallows to Capistrano, or post-race cankles, there's a certain predictability to autumn. Daylight wanes, temps fall, precip rises, and invariably my thoughts turn north to Alaska. Each February of the last 11 years I've made a pilgrimage to some part of that state to spend time, usually alone, enjoying the backcountry. This year I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to spend that time, nor where, nor with whom. Like so many circling moths I'm not even completely sure why I choose there.

No matter where you live the rest of the year, it is cold.

It starts at very expensive and only increases as you go.

There is often anxiety,

and tedium,

and monotony.

But on every trip there's at least one moment that I wouldn't trade for anything.

Sometimes it's a combination of scenery and light.


Other times it's an interaction with a human or animal(s).


Occasionally it's indefinable, which is a groovy way of saying that it can't really be explained, can only be experienced.

Whatever it is, it always happens. That collection of memories is more valuable than almost anything else in my life. It is irreplaceable, and it has had a huge part in shaping the person that I am and the direction that my life has taken over the last decade.

On autumn days like today when I can see my breath while toodling with the dog around the block, there's no place my thoughts would rather roam.

Time to start getting ready.

MC

Monday, October 22, 2007

Verbiage?

We've all heard that a pic is worth a thousand words. I think vaguely that that means much more can be said about a photo than can be inferred from just looking at it. Pics can be stunning and revealing but they are one dimensional and often need words to bring out their significance.

That tongue twisting intro was all for this pic:

If you feel the need to post this pic elsewhere, please also link your post back here. Thanks.

For those that have been waiting for a true 29" aggressive (ab)use trail tire, it's getting very close. Click on the pic and zoom in to have a gander at that contact patch. That's roughly the pressure I've been riding these babies at, and as you may have guessed the traction is unflippinbelievable. They're also virtually unflattable, but that's another pic and story entirely...

All for now.

MC

The Mesa

A recurring theme in my life revolves around recreating atop Gooseberry Mesa in SW UT. Fall/winter/spring it becomes ground zero for a lot of fun with friends, stress relief from cramming too much work into too little time, as well as a proving ground of sorts for whatever component of the bike I've chosen to focus on most recently.



The LenzSport Leviathan, Behemoth, and LunchBox, as well as the White Brothers Fluid 135 and (soon to be released) F150 were all dreamed up and proven out while riding up there. And in some cases they were dreamed up specifically for riding up there. Many, many, many rear dampers have been taken to The Mesa to be fine tuned before production, not to mention countless rim extrusions, and (currently) several iterations of beef baloney 29" tires. It's also a great place to fine tune the rim, spoke gauge and crossing recommendations that I make. If something can last 3 days on The Mesa, chances are it's gonna last anywhere.


It's a fantastic place to play and explore, but so many folks that go there tend to see it through a twisted sort of tunnel vision that prevents them from really seeing it. Following the white dotted line is easy and fun and flowy, but every now and again (as in all aspects of life) you gotta diverge from that path and see what you can see.

The pics in this post were chosen to illustrate the 'other' Gooseberry that so few are aware of. Some of these moves are as little as two steps from the main trail, while others could be as much as 100 meters away. Potential is limited by how much time you have to play, how much skill you have to work with, and how much your bike can take. And unlike so many other semi-desert trail meccas, riding off trail is just fine on The Mesa because (and as long as) it's on rock. Did I mention that it's a great place?


There is most definitely some bashing to be done, both onto and off of boulders and ledges large and small. But there's also a huge amount of finesse riding that the pics don't necessarily highlight. Knowing the limits of your tires, as well as the low end of their allowable PSI spectrum is key. And then feathering those edges ever so slightly to maintain traction can get you into (or out of) some unbelievable places.

Last week's trip to The Mesa ended almost before it started with a stupid injury on a nothing move. Biding my time and counting the days til I can get back to play some more.

One last thing: If you go to The Mesa please, please, please be smarter and more eco-sensitive than those who've been there before you. "Campsites" are springing up wherever people feel like pulling their vehicles off of the road, and as unthinkable as it seems, people are harvesting wood for campfires from the juniper and sage that line the mesa rim. I love sitting around a campfire and telling lies as much as the next gal, I just make sure to bring the wood from home (or buy it en route) and burn it at one of the established campsites. End rant.

MC

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bangin' the first one out

Finally got tired of the politics and shenanigans going on in the places that I have, until now, spent way too much of my 'free' 'net time. So here goes, um... this...

Just enjoying the segue from summer to fall that seems to have come overnight. Summer was stunning and long lasting this year (feels odd to write that--most often we complain about how short it was), due in large part to beaucoup miles ridden in self supported singletrack mode. Had the good fortune to tour with Pete, Scott, and Lee (as well as solo) several times this spring/summer season, laying mucho groundwork for future 'splorations and possibly a new uber race. A few slides here to give you an idea.

Early spring AK tour:


Late spring tour w/Pete and Scott:


Mid-Summer tour with Scott:


Late summer tour with Lee:


There are volumes that could be written from this summer's explorations alone. When time permits (think: "retirement") those words will be written.

Also managed to stick a slideshow onto the GDR main page. If you could conceive of how computer illiterate I am, you'd know what a big deal this is.

Enough for the inaugural. Enjoy the pics.

MC

P.S. Can't see the slides? Upgrade your flash player.