Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Wham! It's over!

I haven't quite caught up on business since things went haywire in September, and here I'm closing up shop and taking off until after the New Year. Some 'entrepreneur' I am... Guess I won't be taking over the world anytime real soon, despite what certain doomsday theorists might have you believe...

Of the tens of thousands of pics that I've taken this year, I stood no chance whatsoever of picking out just one to end the blogging year on. I could search for hours, nay, days, and still narrow it down no better than a couple of full file folders. So I basically picked one, at random, from last weekend's ride atop the Grand Mesa.

And I chose it because it has some combination of beauty, aesthetics, symmetry, and a certain something I can't quite put my finger on, but that makes me want to follow that treeline to see what's around the next corner. I think that about sums up my outlook on life these days: trying to enjoy what's right here and right now, but not afraid to look ahead and wonder about what's coming too.

See y'all next year.

MC

Sunday, December 16, 2007

In Winter.

Months have passed since the summer riding season ended. You segued seamlessly into knickers, then tights, then tights with windpants, but this is a level or three beyond all that. The frosted edges of the window hint at the depth of the frozen world that lies beyond. Hands grasping the sill, you scrape some frost from the glass and peer out, already imagining the bite of wind on your cheeks, the initial reluctance of your lungs to inhale the sharp air, the discomforting feel of the cold that lies, hopefully, just beyond the few layers of clothing you’ll be wearing when you head out. Behind you the furnace kicks on, filling the room with warmth and reminding you that imagining is never the same as being out in it. A wave of realization hits; the cold beyond that window is tangible, even in here. A shiver runs through you.But still you want to ride. Maybe the shiver wasn’t just from imagining the cold--maybe it had something to do with nervous anticipation, or possibly its’ origin was the childish thrill of heading outside when common ‘knowledge’ says you shouldn’t. The only certainty is that you ARE heading out. Tugging shoes on over thick socks--the last in the winter-dress ritual of layering, velcroing, and lacing--you try to get out the door before soaking yourself in sweat.Once out you immediately note the absolute silence, which, curiously, brings a knowing smile to your face. After a fantastic season of epic group rides, mud-fests, trailhead tailgate parties, post-ride barbecues and fall color tours, you’re about to get back to basics. You smile because you’ve missed the solitude.In winter you ride alone far more often. Chances are you won’t see another person, and won’t need to remember how to tactfully say, “On your left”. Because of that, there’s less urgency to the rides. Winter brings out the possibility to slow down and enjoy the ride for what it is: a chance to be outside when the rest of the world, or so it would seem, isn’t.For those who don’t put their bikes away when the cold and snow come, the rewards lie in the subtleties; the cold air sharpens you enough to notice the little things. Feeling the first bit of ice forming inside your nostrils. Noticing hoarfrost on a tree limb, on your bike frame, on top of the snow itself. The key to noticing these things is the lack of distractions.Alone and undistracted in the cold, you’re able to experience and observe so many extraordinary things: crystalline, shimmering air; sundogs; northern lights; moon bows; even the simple, satisfying crunch of snow under your tires.
As fantastic as those things are, even better is that winter riding allows a few moments of clarity away from an otherwise chaotic world. You’re able to sort out many of life’s details, letting go of the trivial ones, thereby gaining fresh perspective before returning home.Add it all up and what do you get? The solitude afforded by winter riding allows you to notice--and more importantly appreciate—the life that surrounds you.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Egads--look at the time!

I guess I'm probably not the only one crunched for time these days. Not much time available to spend here, dumping random thoughts outta my head. Which is a shame, because there's so much clutter bumping into itself inside my oblong cranium that not a whole lotta space is left for actual constructive or productive thought. I need to spend some time writing, here, in order to save some time everywhere else.

Tomorrow.

Maybe.

Much/most of my non-work time the last week has revolved around this:




(yes, that IS indeed a braze-on compact cage XT front der. You wanna talk rare? Beat that.)

The most astute observers will note that it is still nothing more (in the pics) than a rolling chassis. I honestly and literally haven't had a minute available to take pics of the completed bike yet. I've been out on it for a total of 6 hours and have the fit 99% fine tuned. Much, much, agonizingly much more time will be needed to figure out the gear storage and weight distribution.

Re-reading that, I realize that I just made it sound like tedious monotony. In the wrong mindset, it *can* be that way. I need to clear the mental plate a bit over the next few days so that I can approach this as the hoo-boy once-in-a-lifetime science project-slash-opportunity that it is.

I love projects and this one has taken years of thinkering to get to this point. Two short months to savor the rest of the preparatory process (read: cramming!), then it's exam time.

I can't wait--for tomorrow. February can worry about itself for now.

Snowing lightly outside at the moment. Gonna be a good weekend.

G'night.

MC

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sobering.


World Clock.

One of my high school teachers loved to say (re: stats) that you could make 'em say anything you wanted. I think you'd have to be the king of spin to get much positive out of the numbers on the link above.

The only stat I saw that was remotely uplifting: Bike/car production ratio.

I guess there's some hope.

On the lighter side, just finished lacing my second 100mm wide wheel for the new Moots. Snowfall/road conditions dependent, I hope to pick up the frame/fork and 'old' 100mm wheel in Steamboat sometime tomorrow. With a bit of luck I'll be riding it this weekend.

Wa-hoo.

MC

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

December 5, 2007.

Couldn't think of a more appropos title for this post than the date. Significant mostly because I just finished up a ~3 hour singletrack session on some of the most finely compacted yet still moist dirt that I've ridden in years. Out and out grin factory.It all started when Tom called this morning. We'd planned to ride at the usual time, but he suddenly found himself feeling a little 'off'. He described it as 'anal glaucoma': "I couldn't see my ass staying at work any longer". Too damn nice out at a time of year when every ride could be the last dry-dirt ride for months. His affliction seemed worrisome and I wasn't in a risk-taking mood so I reprioritized the rest of my day too.
The pics above were shot hastily because Tom is strong and he doesn't dilly dally. I saw dozens more shots I would have liked to have taken as the shadows got longer and the light got warmer, but my glycogen was already low and playing catchup, yet again, didn't seem appetizing. So the camera stayed put and I merely enjoyed the unfolding sunset while grinding out another steep, techy climb.

Parting shot is actually a vid I took of Tom early in the ride. Several linked arcing turns on the aforementioned dry, tacky dirt.


(I highly recommend going here and watching that video in HD, full screen size.)

A guy could live like this and be happy.

Happy trails.

MC

Monday, December 3, 2007

Perspective.

In 1996 I got a bug to go do this low-key and not-often heard about race called the Iditabike. No one I knew had ever heard of it, done it, nor knew of anyone that had done it. The totality of my knowledge of it came from a three-sentence blurb in a magazine, where I learned that it was run in February on a chunk of the Iditarod Trail. In hindsight, the lack of info could have been what was so intriguing about this race. Where I lived at the time (Crested Butte), there was no 'internet' available and researching anything meant asking lots of questions then heading down to the local library. With respect to the Iditabike, that approach netted me precisely zero information.

So I had no idea what to expect, very, very limited budget (well, no budget at all, really) and figured that my single speed would be as good a bike as any. I became obsessed with planning for this race, mostly because the harder I looked the more I came up empty for info. Paranoid! One winter night about a month before the race I had dinner with a few riding friends. After dinner we adjourned to their 'bike room' where I spied a fascinating set of wide bike rims hanging from the ceiling. Snowcats! We finagled some sort of a trade, I relaced them with my SS hubs and fresh spokes, and then 'trained' on them for another few weeks before flying north for my first adult-sized step into total immersion learning.

Leaving the start and intensely relieved to be moving.

Up to about mile 50 things were going well--I felt great on the bike, the day was gorgeous, and I could often see the 5th and 4th place racers just ahead. The track deteriorated over the next few miles, leaving us no choice but to walk and posthole along. About 60 miles in I tore my MCL and meniscus thanks to a careless step into a hole left by a moose (I was running to get warm at the time), then hobbled another ~20 miles before realizing I was off-course, borderline hypothermic, and pretty damn scared. In my infinite wisdom, I decided this was a great time to test out my never-before-used sleeping bag!

I shivered uncontrollably for a few hours in my bag before realizing things weren't going to get better, and it was still 6+ hours til sunrise. Got up, packed up, and started hobbling back down the trail. My torn up knee had tightened considerably while I 'slept', so I flagged down a snowmachine (that was out looking for me...) and took a ride *back* to the next checkpoint: In my lostness I had taken a different trail that cut north of it... Stubborn and stupid, I took a few hours' break, refused to accept my knee woes, then shuffled/stumbled (knee was too stiff and weak to pedal) the remaining ~30 miles back to the finish.

With hindsight it is SOOO easy to see all of the mistakes I made, not just in action during the race, but in judgement and assumptions made leading up to that point. It took a few more races with my steep learning curve to come to the conclusion that a bad race was infinitely more valuable (from a learning perspective) than a race won. And a few more races still until I understood that the process of making mistakes, learning from them, then getting back out to make more mistakes was a lifestyle in itself, and the races were merely a far flung goal to work towards.
Cantina ad published after that race.

I've never lost sight of that--it's the learning process that matters most, and the results will always take care of themselves.

MC

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Just keeps getting better.

When I crested the ridge and saw the wall of white bearing down on me, I didn't immediately think "I'm hosed". But I did, in a not undignified way, push much harder to get a bit ahead of it. When I finally had no choice but to stop (poised on the tip of the storm) to add all of my meager layers, I was acutely aware that I was underprepared in the gear department. Note to self: It's finally winter, plan ahead. Then it swallowed me up in a whirling, pounding, barely-10-feet-of-visibility slice of glorious madness.

Rolling across the top the snow piled up on my gloves, in the crooks of my elbows, on the bridge of my nose, and made a little shelf on the lip of my light, further obscuring the ground. The wind whipped and screamed, pushing me everywhere but on the line I'd chosen. Just had to keep pedaling, wasn't gonna stay warm any other way.

I knew that somewhere between here and town the snow would turn to rain, at which point there'd be spray off the tires that I was unprepared for. I also knew that at that point I'd be racing numbness home. Cresting the last rise and seeing the lights of town far below, I braced myself for an uncomfortable descent.

But it never got that bad. Partially because I got off and ran, twice, to produce a bit more heat. But also because as I descended the temps rose. At the top my hands had been marginally functional: right at the point where they were still painful and that pain tells me that, at least for now, all is OK. I expected the pain to be gone by the bottom, replaced by numbness and with just a few minutes before things got really bad. But the warm valley temps never let things get there. I alternately shook warm blood out into each hand as I got opportunities to take them off the bars, and this helped too.

Rolling through town hands were tolerably painful, and I started to relax and even smile, thinking back to the whirling maelstrom that continued up on top. I like to be reminded of how fragile life is and how shortsighted I am a few times a year. No better way to freshen one's perspective than to get pimp slapped by ma nature. Rolled up the driveway, hung the bike on the stand to remind me to lube 'er up later, then beat feet for the house.

Is there any one word that can describe fumbling the door open with cold hands only to be greeted by 95lbs of tail-wagging-happy-dog that wants nothing more than for your hands to be all over him? Grins.

The capper for the evening was exiting the shower revived, nuking a bowl of pesto pasta, tearing off a hunk of artisan bread, then settling in here to find 2mb of pics recently sent by Brad.

The frame is welded!

The fuel box is added. Note small tubes connecting top, down, and seat tubes for uninterrupted fuel flow:
Gratuitous butt shot:
Exit port for fuel:
Still needs cable guides and stops, disc tabs, blasting and decals, but that stuff is easy-cheesy. If you're Brad, that is...

The day approaches!

MC