Monday, November 26, 2007

Iditaconsumption: by the numbers

Below is a list of the consumables that I, errr, consumed en route to completing the 1,100 mile Iditasport Impossible race in February, 2000.

240 Clif Bars (do the math--that's an average of 16 bars per day...)
30 lbs of cookies (mostly fudge stripe, plus some chocolate covered grahams)
16 lbs of black licorice
10 tall cans of Pringles
10 lbs of red licorice
16 lbs of turkey jerky
30 lbs of candy bars; Twix, Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfinger, Three Musketeers, etc... (at this point of re-typing this list, my teeth are starting to hurt, and I'm no longer wondering why my dental bills have been steadily increasing...)
90 fruit roll ups
80 peanut butter and nutella burritos
15 lbs of cashews
15 lbs of turkey bacon
45 Pop Tarts

And while I wouldn't exactly call them consumables, the above could not have been ingested without these:
3 lbs of Tums
3 lbs of Flintstones childrens chewables.

To this day I have no idea how I ate all that in 15 days. It makes me feel bloated thinking about it. Even basic math skills can come up with an average of over 8 pounds of solid food per day. 8 pounds. Good god!

For those whose minds instantly leapt ahead to the next logical question, NO, I had no trouble staying regular out there... I credit the oil in the licorice for that...

And at the end of the race, once I'd checked into a room in Nome, showered, called home, and ditched all my extra clothing, I sought out a scale to learn that I had lost one pound in that 15 days. One.

In 2002 I used a very, very similar diet (but didn't write it down) to again complete the 1,100 miles to Nome. The only details that leap out from my hazy memory of that event are that I replaced the PB & N burritos from Y2K with bacon and Velveeta burritos. Typing that DOES elicit a gag reflex...

Oh yeah--in 2K2 I ditched the licorice in favor of an equal amount of gummy worms, and that was a stroke of brilliance. Of course they were frozen solid upon removing them from my pack, and of course if I accidentally dropped one on ice (which totally constitutes food abuse) it would shatter like glass. But if I could somehow wedge them into my mouth, a few short seconds in there would thaw them into their 'normal' chewy state, and that memory brings back a grin and not just a little bit of salivation.

Great stuff.



Saturday, November 24, 2007

Moore please.

There's a trail near Loma called Moore Fun. It's a short trail--maybe ~4 miles from end to end. It runs roughly east to west, and can be ridden in either direction. It consists, basically, of a two-level climb to a false summit, followed by a false flat to the other summit. Then a two-level descent to the other end.

The above is 100% true and can be verified by anyone that's ever ridden it.

It also tells you precisely nothing about the trail.

And the fact is that words can't do it justice. I could call it a 'tech trail' and light bulbs would go on over a few heads, but tech means different things to different people, so it's still not enough. If it means anything, when friends or industry types come to town and want to be shown something technical, very, very few of them are thankful when I take them there. Typically they're only thankful to be done with it.

The climbing is steep, rocky, ledgy, and often off camber. The rock is usually dusted with baby powder, and the hardpack is always coated with kitty litter. While climbing, you're frequently along edges where you can't help but to notice consequences for blowing the line. Big consequences. There are stopper rocks in all the wrong places (wrong if you want flow, right if you like chunk), followed by mandatory burst moves where zero momentum can be brought in.
This trail has been eating my lunch since it opened in the late '90's. I've had some great days on it, coming very, very close to cleaning every move. I've had some brutal rides out there too, crashing, bleeding, breaking bike parts and limping home happy that it wasn't worse. And the reality on Moore Fun is that no matter how good of a tech rider you are, the good days and the bad ones are never far apart.

Take yesterday for example. I started from the east and had made it to the top of the first summit without a single dab. First time that's ever happened. I didn't dwell on it, but I couldn't help but to notice it: zero dabs. From the first summit to the second is less than 1/2 mile. I dabbed three times in that distance, then once more on the way down the other side. Dammit. At the west end of the trail I decided (based on waning daylight) to simply turn around and climb back over. Essentially, I wanted another shot at it.
On the way back up I stopped counting after 6 dabs. I went to pieces, basically.

FWIW, one of my neighbors refers to this trail as "Moore Walking". If you're a beginning or low intermediate rider without significant confidence in your skills, that's what you'll mostly do on MF--walk.

Dabs are just expected on this trail--they simply mark the spots where concentration has lapsed. It's interesting to note that ~75% of the time you're riding this trail the Interstate is visible immediately below you. Because of the focus required to simply stay on the bike, very, very few people ever notice the highway is even there.

I'm a terrible tech rider so dabs are just a given for me. But even when I've ridden with (or near, as the case may be) superstar riders on this trail, it is a bit heartening to see that they sometimes/often dab as well. I don't wish the dabs upon them (well, not *all* of them...), rather, I try to watch their lines, their timing, and the way that they burst or deliver the power to get up onto, over, or off of certain moves. I try to sponge off of their ability to pull myself out of my intermediate rut.And it HAS helped. Over the past few years I've gotten several of the moves that stymied me for years before. But none of it is ever a given. The combination of the pitch and the trail alignment virtually guarantee that, should you ever be so lucky as to clean the whole trail, end to end, *once*, odds are that it'll be years upon years before it ever happens again.

If you're reading this, and you've cleaned Moore Fun, you are a superstar. Hats off. Betcha can't do it again!

One of the fascinating things, to me, about MF is the fact that there is no such thing as an 'ideal' bike for the trail. The amount of climbing points to a light bike, but the chunkiness and anti-flow of the climbing favor something heavier to keep you planted. The precision and nimbleness of a hardtail would seem to be a benefit, but if you've ever ridden it back to back on a HT and an FS (or switched mid-ride, as I've done), it is immediately apparent that the FS requires significantly less work to keep moving on the climbs, and is much smoother and gives much more traction on the descents. Still, the light weight and precision of a hardtail is hard to argue with out there--for some. The stopper rocks, ledges, chunks, and holes would seem to favor a 29" wheel, but the tightness of some of the moves and switchbacks seem to lend themselves to something smaller.

It is an awful trail on a singlespeed. Awful if you like riding, anyway.

Regardless of the bike chosen, I'm constantly wishing for a different setup on it. Climbing the steep techy pitches I pine for a longer wheelbase and a stretched out cockpit. Descending I want exactly the opposite. On the ups I wish I could drop my bars 2 inches to get more weight onto the front wheel. On the downs I want the bars 3 inches higher to lessen the chance of endos. A higher BB would be nice on the pedaling sections, to keep from smacking pedals or chainrings. When coasting, I always wish my BB were lower to keep from feeling so top-heavy.

In short, it is a brilliant trail. It favors no bike, no rider, no riding style. It forces you to work like few other trails around, and the currency that it uses to reward hard efforts is nothing more than personal satisfaction. That right there might be what I like most about it.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Right on time.

After two months (!) of zero precip, clear skies, and unseasonable warmth, the winds changed, the temps dropped, and we woke here on the valley floor to light flurries this AM. But up high, things look a bit different...

Entertaining and puzzling to hear folks complain about the cold while running errands today. Why do they live here? Or, to put it another way: If they didn't want to go to Chicago, why'd they get on the train?

Enjoy the weather you have, whatever it may be.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Tubeless" sucks. Tubeless rules!

I shot a pic on tonight's ride that, to me, sums up the need for a 'real' tubeless tire and the downfall (at least around here) of all ghetto/homebrew tubeless stuff.
This section is indicative of many, many miles of our local and regional trails. Hit one of the available lines just perfect and you're golden--at least until the next section. Miss the line and hold your breath, waiting for the nearly inevitable hissing that tells you just cut a sidewall.

Because our local loops have so many square edged ledges and hatchet rocks, you'll pinch or cut a sidewall at least once per ride if you're running tubes at anything less than ridiculous pressures. Because the terrain is often kitty litter over hardpack that rewards, nay, demands lowish pressures to keep you upright, *AND* because the roads en route to all of our trails are littered with goatheads, I've spent mucho time and $$$ the past 7 years trying to get a ghetto tubeless system to last more than a ride without shitting the bed. And it was a rare setup (or a lucky day) that lasted more than one ride before I had to stick a tube in and limp home.

It seems those days are over.

Earlier this summer Hutchinson released what they called a 'tubeless ready' 29" tire. Thrilled that such a beast finally existed, I ordered several, inflated them with some goop onto a few different tubeless ready rims, then proceeded to be deflated as the reality never lived up to the promise. They never held air (not even overnight), sidewalls were very thin and easy to cut, and the tread was sub optimal (and that's being optimistic) for anything I like to ride. Gradually I wore them out or gave them away, and went back to tubes and too-high pressures.

Not too long after, Bontrager released the ACX TLR tire. I bit. Again. And they bit, again. This time the tread was decent and the casing size was good, but damn if I could ever get them to hold air even overnight. For a few weeks I just dealt with it, pumping them up every few hours on rides and telling myself that eventually they'd seal. Nope, they never did, and a sidewall cut at 12,000' as a thunderstorm bore down sealed the deal: I was done with these tires.

Well, I'm nothing if not a sucker for the latest geegaw, so when I saw that Bontrager had released a Dry X TLR tire, I ordered a few in and went to work.

And this time, they get a HUGE thumbs up.

I've been riding them on two different bikes for the past two weeks, with mucho miles through terrain similar to the pic at the top. They hold air *without* sealant. That alone is huge, although because of the goatheads I'm running sealant anyway. But they also have a thicker, more durable sidewall than any other 29" tire to date. I'm sure that at some point I'll screw up huge and earn a sidewall cut on these guys, but it's gonna take something special to do it. Haven't been able to burp them yet, despite running ~20psi on both ends and riding the bikes pretty aggressively through stuff like what's pictured above.

Color me happy.

More tread patterns and varying widths are needed to compliment this one for sure. But it sure is a great first step.

On a non-tech geek related note, I'm very much enjoying my time on the SS lately.I'm not remotely in SS shape (ahhh--those were the days) but enjoying riding it and seeing some small improvement each time I head out. Great stuff.


Stick a fork in it.

A few non-riding posts lately, simply because I've been riding solo. The local loops are fun and scenic and challenging, but I've taken so many riderless photos of them that I just don't get motivated to whip out the camera much unless I'm riding with someone. So there you have it.

The new snowbike fork is "99.99% done". Brad sent pics last night on his way out the door to visit family over the holiday. Mighty nice of him to get those out and satiate my thirst before taking off for 5 days.

While the frame has many, many riddles left for him to solve, I get the idea that he's very relieved to have the fork sorted out. Ideas have been floating back and forth about the racks for this critter, but those will just continue to fester until we have the rolling chassis to work with.

For now, enjoy the pics.
Something blew through and dropped the temps 20 degrees last night, so at least it feels a little more fall-ish. Headed out for (another) solo ride right now, and feeling a little SS'ish...



Monday, November 19, 2007

Brownie points on offer!

65,329.26 brownie points go to the first person that can correctly identify each racer in the photo above from the start of the '98 Iditasport Extreme.

Start from left and work your way right. There are 15 racers.




P.S. In the very likely event that no one gets all names correct, partial points will be awarded to whomever gets the most.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bonk story.

Had a great dinner and conversation with good friends this evening. Most of the group are cyclists and so it's no surprise that most of the conversation revolves around cycling. At one point my memory was jogged about an epic ride I did when I first moved to the desert many moons ago. Warning--this is one of those reminiscences that's not very interesting to anyone other than the person (raises hand) that it happened to...

I was new to the area and had gotten a good feel for the trails, but wanted a little more than just a trail ride this day. Fall had weeks before bled into winter, snow was on the ground even in the valley, and I had an itch to explore something new. I had the night off from the restaurant, and knew that I wanted to be out for 6+ hours of on-the-bike moving time. No agenda otherwise.

Started with a decent climb on dirt, a much bigger climb on pavement, then an hour or so of short, semi-steep rollers before coming to a T. Headed left since that seemed like it went away from home (still only ~2.5 hours into the ride) and cruised through a little community at a 4 way stop. Noticed a building with the word 'store' painted on it, but didn't need anything so I kept on going. Climbed gradually on pavement then steeply on dirt/plowed snow for another 2+ hours. Hadn't eaten anything as was my habit those days--didn't even bring any calories along with. After climbing for the better part of 5 hours, and topping out at what I guessed was close to 9,000', it became obvious that there was more dirt/snow road and trail to explore, but that I was at the high point and all roads headed down. I'd been in such a great groove climbing new terrain that I'd lost track of time, and was suddenly feeling a lot less spunky than I should have, considering how far I still was from home.

Backtracked down the steep plowed road. Got back to the little store at dusk, clipping out of the pedals for the first time, I'm fairly certain, since I'd left home almost 6 hours before. Suddenly became aware that my fine motor skills weren't quite as sharp as I had expected they would be. I stumbled on the smooth pavement after leaning the bike, caught my toe on the threshold when stepping through the door, then fumbled to get my glasses off as they steamed upon entering the heated building. Dropped my gloves as soon as I'd removed them, bent down to pick them up, then when I stood up became acutely aware that the 'emergency dollar' in my back jersey pocket wasn't going to go very far in a store like this. I salivated looking at the cartons of chocolate milk ($1.69--drat), and briefly considered the 'chocolate' covered mini-donuts at two packs for a buck before my addled brain remembered that sales tax might or might not be an issue. Then I wandered closer to the cash register and saw salvation in a plastic tub: Red Vines. The shopkeep had marked "5 cents each" with a sharpie on the top of the tub. Bingo.

It should have been just this simple: Count out 20 licorice whips, hand the clerk my buck, saunter outside with a mouthful of corn syrup, wheat flour, and that staple of the endurance cyclists diet: Red 40. But it didn't quite happen like that. For starters, my fingers were still lifeless and couldn't find the folded dollar bill in my middle jersey pocket. After much struggle and contortion (to the continued amusement of the cashier, I'm sure) I finally dug it out and held onto it like a prize. But then I simply could not figure out how many nickels there were in a dollar. My face burning red, partially from wind and partially from shame, I stood there and tried for all I was worth, first subtracting from a dollar, then trying to multiply by .05. Even counted on my fingers but couldn't get to the end of them before I'd forget where I'd started.

Frustrated, bonked, miles from home in a strange place and with the sun already below the horizon, I finally gave up. I stumbled over to the cashier, placed the crumpled buck in front of her and stammered: "I have this". Then pointed at the tub and demanded, "How many of those can I have?".

I think she'd been watching me since I walked in and had a sense for how hypo-glycemic I was. She quickly walked over to the tub, shook open a brown paper bag, then filled it with a fistful of licorice and told me I was good to go.

The licorice was stale and difficult to chew, but it still provided the calories I needed to snap out of my stupor. The descent was toe-numbingly cold, but the best was saved for last. About two miles from home, soft pedaling along a descending false flat in the dark, something felt strange on the bike. I looked down while spinning and saw (in the lights of a following vehicle) ball bearings falling out of my bottom bracket shell. Had a momentary flash of 'What if that had happened way the hell out there while I was bonked?' before I rolled to a stop on the shoulder. Clipped out of the pedals and just walked the bike the last two miles, happy to be walking, happy to have some calories in my gut, happy to be living in a new place with new things to explore. And feeling especially lucky that it had all worked out the way it did.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Warm feet are happy feet.

Since I was a kid I've ridden year-round. Living in MI, MN, and the mountains of Colorado, I've had more than my fair share of cold feet through the decades. It wasn't until I started riding and racing in Alaska that I finally got tired of it and decided to do something proactive to prevent permanent damage.

Most folks in AK give up their clipless pedals in the wintertime. I can't pretend to explain such an irrational act using my limited grasp of the English language, so I'll leave it to them to try to confabulate a worthy reason.

I start with a very, very thin liner sock. I've used wool, polypro, silk, and many blends. All work about the same--they move the moisture away from your feet as best they can. All of them stink after just a few uses. As long as you avoid cotton, you're on the right track.

Next I use a vapor barrier liner. Some folks use something like a Subway sandwich bag, which works fine right up until your toes poke a hole through it. The point of the VBL is to keep the sweat produced by your foot from soaking and degrading your insulation. Once your insulation is wet, your feet are cold. Period. I've used the high dollar Black Diamond VBL's on a few trips, and while they're durable and good at keeping the moisture where it's supposed to be, they have many seams that always succeed at rubbing holes and sores into my feet after about day 4. So now I use a thin plastic 'boot' that I got from a bootfitter at the local ski shop.
It's meant to be used when getting custom foam liners fit to your fancy alpine ski boots, but I think I'm giving it a far more dignified life in protecting my insulation from my stinky feet.

Next is the insulation. I use a Sorel felt liner sized ~1/2 size too big for my feet. One of the big 'secrets' to keeping feet warm in winter is giving them room to breathe, which means enough space that you can wiggle your toes easily. What this does is to guarantee that blood is circulating freely. All the insulation in the world is useless if it's clamped too tightly around your foot. The insulation doesn't *produce* any heat--it merely keeps what heat you have available from escaping. So that blood supply is critical because it's the blood that's keeping your feet warm. Nothing else--just the blood.

The Sorel felt liner I use is 12mm thick. If you're a savvy shopper you can find thicknesses from 5mm on up to suit your local temps and needs.

I've got some seriously screwed up ankles from a lifetime of football, basketball, and hockey mishaps, so I need to use a custom orthotic inside of the felt liners. YMMV here. Underneath the orthotic I glued a piece of reflective foam (from a car windshield sunshade) to 'reflect' any heat that makes it's way down back up at me. I doubt it does anything other than satiate my need to know that I at least tried to cover all bases. On top of the orthotic I glued a piece of felt. Very comfy and never cold to the touch.

The outermost layer I use is the Lake MXZ-302 winter cycling shoe. At roughly $270 per pair they are what most folks would consider hideously expensive. I guess it's just a matter of perspective. Having known too many folks with frost damaged feet over the years, I think my toes are worth a few extra dollars. Besides--I wear them 4-5 days a week for three months of every winter, then for roughly three weeks straight when I'm in AK, and I usually get two to three seasons out of a pair. Money well spent, methinks.

The key to this system is sizing the felt liner to your feet, and the outer shoe to fit the felt liner. For reference, I have a size 8.5 foot. I buy a size 9 felt liner, and a size 15 (!) outer shoe. If your feet are bigger than about a size 10, this system will probably not work for you, simply because the outer shoes only go up to size 15 from most manufacturers.

I make a few mods to these to increase traction on ice and to keep overflow from getting in when I have no choice but to dunk my feet at -40 degrees.

This system has evolved slowly over the last decade. If you ride in the lower 48 for less than two hours at a stretch it is overkill for you: For that purpose a pair of the Lake shoes sized 1 to 1.5 sizes too big, with a mid-weight wool sock and a VBL should be plenty. If you ride in the northern US or anywhere in Canada, Alaska, or Northern Europe, my system might be worth further investigation and some fiddling. I've used this setup comfortably down to -65 degrees, and am confident in them to much colder than that. Truthfully, should I ever meet my maker on a winter trip, I think my feet will be the last part of me to freeze. This system really is that good.

If I left out any critical details, please point them out and I'll edit/elaborate later.

Happy winter riding.


Monday, November 12, 2007

I have issues: I need space.

Take a minute and try to imagine every single thing that you 'need' when you head out on a bike ride: Bike. Clothing. Food. Sunglasses, shoes, helmet, and gloves. Tools, tubes, and spare parts. Camera? GPS? Batteries? Alright, now put all of that into a mental pile for a second. What if that ride were going to be overnight? Then you'd need to add shelter of some sort (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad), more food, perhaps a means of cooking it, and a means to procure water. Got that added to your pile? Now, imagine that this overnight ride is going to actually be more like 25 overnights--over three weeks out. And it's going to happen during the Alaskan winter.

Got all that? Pretty big mental pile, eh?

Now load it all onto your bike. Ha! Three weeks where you have no possible chance to get so much as a toothpick if you need one, unless you've been carrying it along the whole time. 3 weeks worth of toothpaste, TP, clothing, food, shelter, and all the little necessities. If you give this any thought at all, you'll quickly realize that you may or may not even know how much TP to take for a 3 week trip. And that's only the beginning of the head games.

Deciding what and how much to carry is one part of the puzzle, figuring out how to carry it is another. Since the aforementioned trip will occur in winter, the sheer amount of insulation, calories, and fuel that need be brought further compounds the head games.

For the '05 trip this was the answer:
It took about 500 miles for me to finally get it through my head that it was unrideable on anything but flat tarmac, and then only just. Ask Bill M.

In '06 the answer evolved to this:
Almost completely opposite from the '05 version in that this one was awful on flat tarmac, and got better on snow and even better still as the snow got softer and more technical.

The problem with both is that third wheel hanging back there and creating another chunk of rolling resistance. I never had any illusions that it'd be easy to pull a ~90lb trailer in soft snow, but I also never envisioned just how slow it would be. I ended up having to take more stuff along to account for the slower pace of pulling the original load of 'more stuff'. And while we're heading in a different direction right now, I may still end up using the '06 setup again, as it may prove to have the fewest compromises.

But for now, we've taken a different tack, and one that I'm not completely certain is the 'right' one.

Many folks have been telling me (some of them for years) that I should just throw it all onto the bike and ride it that way. This is a good time to go back to the opening sentences above and think about how much stuff one needs for three winter weeks at 65 deg N lat. Then look at the pics of how much 'stuff' is packed onto the trailers. Then consider that I'm no slouch at packing light. Lastly, consider that riding snow poses it's own set of problems, and distribution of one's load makes all the difference between riding and walking. Load poorly even on a 3 day sashay and you'll walk more than ride. Load 3 weeks worth of stuff onto two wheels and the odds are that you're gonna walk, period. Snow trails are often nothing more than a few mm of crust left by a fast moving snowmachine. Overload that crust and your speed goes from 3-4 mph to 0-.5 as the effort to maintain it increases exponentially.

I *did* mention that I'm not sure this is the right road to follow, didn't I?

Among many, many, many other ideas that have been batted around this summer, this is one of the few that is unequivocally a 'good one'. The only good reason for a titanium dual crown rigid fork is (IMO) to store fluids that would otherwise take up valuable space elsewhere on the bike. In this case, that fork will carry about 8 days worth of fuel for melting snow to make water, which will in turn be used to rehydrate food, hot chocolate, and eventually me.

And that's just the beginning.


Sunday, November 11, 2007


The last few posts have been fairly tech intensive. Rather hypocritical considering I started this as a means of at least partially divesting myself of excessive tech geekiness. Pics throughout this post are a random sampler from the last ~week worth of local riding.

The last few days have been, no surprise, just like the ~6 weeks that preceded them: light winds (or none), blue skies, few clouds, and ~60+ degrees. Joyous.

Spent yesterday with some good friends that are also great riders. Rode a loop that has fallen out of favor around here the last few years (or so it seems from my perspective) and seems quite disused by all but the motorheads. And the motorheads didn't seem very happy to see us. Or maybe it was just shock?

Many hours of grinding up a seemingly endless climb before my legs came around and got motivated and it went from painful, laborious work to somewhat less painful and somewhat less laborious. For a brief few minutes it actually felt good to climb. Couldn't tell ya the last time that happened. While writhing in misery on that climb I had lots of time to think. Many of the thoughts were self-abusive, as they have been more-or-less since I stopped racing full-time and started a business. While the business is thriving the fitness is not, and I haven't quite come to terms with that compromise. Or maybe I don't want to just yet?

Regardless, I realized that I've been a bit blind (denial? who you lookin' at?) to certain facts.
* I've never, ever been 'xc racer' fast. Even when I aspired to be 'that guy', I was never better than mid-pack in the sport class, and then only just. Expecting to keep up with even moderately fast guys is more ridiculous now than ever.
* The people that I ride with day in and day out are very, very strong riders, and some of them are very fast and fit.
* While I used to be able to keep up with them somewhat effortlessly for the first ~6 hours, and then even easier after that, they have gotten stronger and fitter while I've gone in the other direction.
* 99% of my rides these days last about 2 hours. For over a decade I barely considered that a warmup, and now it is the norm. No wonder that I feel like I'm suffering and slaving on every ride--I'm never quite getting warmed up before heading back to the barn! Thinking back to all of the ~4 hour or longer rides I've done this year, and many if not most were very different, with at least a short window of good legs somewhere in there.

After the ride I had a bit clearer focus on where I am and now I just need to determine if those are, indeed, the facts, or if I'm just rationalizing to save ego.


Guess I'll go wind out a long climb somewhere and give that some more thought...


Friday, November 9, 2007


Not unlike a crack dealer that understands where to place herself at various times of the day, Brad knows how to string a guy along. These shots surfaced just a minute ago and give a very big clue as to what the beast will look like.

A few smack-you-in-the-face-obvious details about this one that I'm excited about. Can ya see 'em?

What's left out of the picture is even bigger in the grand scheme of things. And there will be a rear rack, but that (and the details of the front one) will be addressed once we have a rolling chassis to work with.

Drawings are great to ponder but what really gets me amped is seeing the various bits coming off the machines. Knowing a bit about Brad, this pic tells me that a fork may be a reality before the weekend is through.

Not remotely wishing the indian summer away, just psyched to know that when winter comes I'll be prepared.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

I do what I can to maintain some semblance of balance in my life, but, like most people, sometimes things just happen too fast to process and I need to roll with 'em until I get that chance to come up for air. I thought that this week was going to be relatively mellow, expecting to build and ship a dozen or so wheelsets during the day, ride in the afternoons to take advantage of the indian summer, then while away the evenings with the fam. And until this AM, things were on track.

But damn if Brad didn't just throw a wrench into that.

Brad spent much of last winter thinkering, fabricating and welding (after putting in his 'normal' days at Moots) to put together an unprecedented machine for over-the-snow expedition rides. Dubbed the Snoots, you can see a few pics and a bit of explanation about it here and here.

Custom frame and fork with integral fuel cells, jewel quality (and unbelievably durable as well as feather light) front and rear racks, and not just one but two fully custom single wheel titanium trailers, also with integral fuel storage. Words cannot describe what Brad is capable of. I'm not sure even HE knows what he's capable of just yet. He is an amazing (far too weak a word) creative talent with limitless potential and a fertile imagination.

And he just dropped a bomb on me.

After last winter's trip we realized (as we always seem to) that there were a few things on the Snoots that could be improved upon. The kinds of things that you can't see or feel or understand until the beast lives and you've spent some time living with it. What am I getting at?

From start to finish, that's one of the dropouts for the new fork. As in, for the new bike...

Which makes me realize how much work there is to be done on my end (to say nothing of the mind-benders that Brad will have to solve) in preparation for it's arrival.

So much for a mellow week.

The Snoots is dead! Long live the Snoots!!


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sparkly and shiny.

The stunning fall weather continues, and I don't think anyone is complaining. Today is November 7th (for those of you hiding under rocks with your laptops and iphones) and tonight's sunset ride was comfortably executed in shorts and short sleeves. I didn't ask for it, but I guess I can suck it up, roll with the punches, and deal with it for a little while longer...


The ride this evening was the first shakedown on the new Moots. Just one semi-bike geek pic to show, as many things will change before she's done and until then I have neither the time nor the inclination to take and edit pics. Call me anal...

Doesn't show much, but it tells all. I ditched my true road bike in a racing/training-burnout-induced-funk two years ago, and finally started to miss it during the peak of heat this summer. But I knew I didn't want 'just' a road bike, I wanted something a lot more versatile.

And I got that in spades.

A few more rides of various flavors, with a few component swaps and tweaks betwixt, and I'm hoping she'll become invisible. The good ones always do. At that point I'll be able to stop fiddling and just enjoy the ride. Detailed pics will follow then...


Friday, November 2, 2007

Anticipation. Satiety.

The second thought that ran through my still-sleepy mind this AM:

"It'll be here between 7:30 and 8:00 PM".

Although it's been months in the making (and months longer banging around inside my head), with refinements and unique suggestions right up until three weeks ago, it wasn't until Brad called on Tuesday to tell me that it was done that I started to think about it in actual, physical terms.

It's easy to conceptualize (easier for some than others) and even easier to fantasize. But once the planning is done, the work commenced and then completed, and then the final wait begins, something changes. In my case, fixation would be an appropriate term, although some might simply refer to it as anticipation. Whatever you call it, it's a fascinating time where thoughts come faster and more chaotic as a result of the heightened awareness.

Although I'm more in tune with my surroundings when in this mind-frame, I'm also not fully processing everything I sense. Walking through a parking lot with L and the dog tonight, I noted a hint of decaying leaf stench as we stepped over a gutter, deciphered a trace of woodsmoke in the air (and thought haughtily: "It's 60 flippin' degrees! Who the hell needs a fire tonight??!") as we left a restaurant, and detected a hesitation, then a quiver, from the dog just before he flushed a cat from a thicket. Atta boy. But through all of that I failed to notice the ember-red leaves of an ash tree dominating the entire scene. Where the hell is my head?

At that moment it was in Steamboat, wondering when Evan had left and (more importantly) when he would be arriving.

L and I and the dog trundled on home and settled into the couch with two bowls of ice cream and some light reading material. Comfy on the couch yet still alert and facing the clock (now 8:20pm), I had a hard time reading a full sentence (and admit to zero comprehension of what I was 'reading') before being distracted by a noise outside. A skiff of a breeze had moved a few leaves, voices of folks moved by on the sidewalk, a branch from the gnarled old elm strafed the roof. Back to silence, through most of a sentence, then again "What was that?". Through all of this the dog snored lightly on L's feet, clearly unaware of anyone or anything approaching.

At ten til nine I'd moved a few pages ahead (still with no idea what I'd been reading) and slouched further into the couch. Shoes kicked off, dregs in the ice cream bowls solidified into lumps in the center, and L and the dog ramping up into a snore-a-thon. Then a car door closed nearby, and with that my heart rate jumped. Distant, muffled voices. Light laughter. Another car door closing. The crunch of leaves underfoot. A very, very long pause, and then an authoritative (yet somehow polite) knock at the door.

Just (snap!) like that, the months of slowly increasing anxiety were over as the door opened to reveal Evan. Knowing that he was on his way to Moab (and thus had already been in the car for 3+ hours) I offered him use of the pisser, a glass of water, and then made idle chit chat for a minute, all while steadfastly engaging him and pointedly NOT looking at what he delicately clutched in his left hand. But then my subconscious took charge and my right hand shot out as if to say "By god man--give it to me already!"

He released his grip as my hand closed around it, then carefully pointed out his role in making it come to be. Knowing that he was on his way to a camping/riding weekend, and probably ready to be done talking shop for a few days, I switched the subject to preferred campsites, the streak of stunning weather, and lingering late-summer trail conditions. Minutes (or seconds? No idea...) later, he bade me goodnight, the door was closed, and there I stood with sweaty palms and a goofy grin spreading across my face.

It. Is. Here.

Which brings me to this very moment, and a keen inability to decide on exactly where to point the camera. What picture can capture everything that led to this point? What single photo, optimized for the web, can do anything but fail miserably at conveying what sits on the desk to my right?

Gah. As inadequate as photos are for this moment, they're heaps better than the remaining words that come to mind.

Good weekend.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Newness? Or same old?

The local riding community is all atwitter over a recently built trail. The express purpose of the trail was to cater to the gravity crowd piloting longer travel bikes and looking to challenge themselves with speed, chunk, and drops. It's a rare beast in hyper-litigious 'murrica--a trail officially recognized as The Place to challenge and potentially maim or destroy yourself. Booyah y'all--hold my beer and watch this!

5+ years of meetings and red tape in the making, plus more broken promises and outright lies than any of those involved care to count, now that it's open some are really happy to have it. Others are into it but less enthused. Some (whom have the other 99.5% of the trails in the valley that cater to their abilities and whims and complaints) have griped about it since the start. Since the idea was announced, actually.

I'm in the camp that thinks it's great that this trail exists, even if I am not the demographic it was intended to please. It isn't that different from the other trails around it: Lots of chunk, not so much flow, pedaling intensive (even though it trends downhill), and with some cool alternate lines built in to give different ability levels some fun choices to make as they approach each play area. On my first lap down it I must have found the ever-elusive lobotomy switch, somehow convincing myself to ride ~80% of the "big" or "hard" lines en route (most of which I have yet to touch or seriously consider since).

It's not that the trail is that technically challenging, it's just that it has lots of what we like to call 'heady' moves. A straight 5' drop is nothing to most folks around here, but throw in some exposure, or a funny hitch on the in-run, or a 5+ footer (at speed, with exposure, and a blind takeoff) to a berm into a mandatory hip/8' gap with more exposure, and you can start to see where the challenge lies.

One of the main bitch points (thus far) has been the signage. Many have complained about how intrusive (and huge, and verbose, and gaudy) the signage is, but I'd wager that few of the complainers have stopped to realize that without the signs, the trail wouldn't exist. Period. I'd much prefer it if the signs weren't there, and most riders are certainly willing to accept the responsibility that comes with riding this sort of stuff signed or not. But that's all beside the point. No one believes for a second that the local trail group or the BLM put the signs up to protect anyone other than their own asses. That's the state we live in--might as well complain about the sunrise.

As fun and challenging as the trail is, much of it is not conducive to photography for various reasons: Poor sight lines, poor perspectives, and poor ability of the monkey with the camera to get off the bike and snap some pics... Which is fine--it's the ride that matters here.

The pic of a broom stashed under an overhang just kills me. Rumor has it that a 'rider' complained that a certain section was 'too dusty', and that something should be done about it. How that rider made it to that point alive is beyond me.

The first two signs in the slideshow are legit. I took the liberty of adding a few others to the show to give an idea of what the trail will probably look like in a year or two after the local BLM whores themselves out to local businesses...