Monday, November 30, 2009

Just a walk in the park...

Not much to say that isn't summed up in the clear skies, warm light, and toothy grins. Just a quick fun ride with good friends, great trail, and stellar weather, all wrapped up with an early afternoon mini-feast.







































Good times--thanks to all y'all for makin' it happen!

MC

P.S. I think I ate more meat in the last 4 days than the rest of the month combined. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Delightful.

Fall continues her glorious fade here in the desert, and we continue to get out amongst it.

Legs are fried, shoulders sore, hands are beat. But we never tire of tacky dirt and sweetious golden light, so each precious day between now and snow will be savored.

Often the savoring looks, feels, and smells *just* like this.

(Yep, you can click the 'VIMEO' link at the bottom right of the box to watch it in HD. Much crisper that way.)

Thanks for checkin' in--we're doin' just fine thankyouverymuch!

MC

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Someone had to do it.



Here's to being thankful on more than one day of the year.

MC

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heck yeah!

Most years the snow has shut down the local trails by now, leaving us groveling on the road or sneaking in brief, cold, early AM rides while the goop is still frozen.

Not this year, at least not yet.



(EDIT: Click VIMEO and watch it in HD. Muchmobetta----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ///^^^\\\

The forecast looks good for at least another week--get out and get ya some!

MC

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eleven 'ought nine.

Thanks to the usual suspects and a few special guests for the rides, laughs, photography, videography, fartography, and everything else.

Enjoy.



Life is good, eh?!

MC

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mythbustin'.

Many moons ago someone a lot smarter than me said something along the lines of, "There can be too much of a good thing".

Taking that statement literally and pondering a bit, I came to a few quick caveats.

Powder skiing?

Bacon?

While I'd like to write that I immediately rattled off countless other exceptions to that "rule", the reality is that once I had pork on the brain, salivation and obsession quickly followed. Can a guy actually have too much bacon?

Unpossible.

Or so I theorized. Which quickly morphed into a need to test the theory. And it didn't take long to find the means to do so.

I didn't come up with any other exceptions on the way to the market, but I *did* get there PDQ.

(To my dear, dear non-meat eating friends that find themselves sickly fascinated but afraid to read further: Click HERE).
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You've been given ample warning.

Back at the ranch, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

Take 12 strips and weave 'em.


Baste liberally.


How much? 'Bout that much.


Unwad 2 (yep, two) pounds of sausage and cover your weave.

Meanwhile, sizzle up another pound in the background.


Once that pound is done to taste, chop it up and cover the sausage, then roll the whole slithery beautious mess up.

Delicately place this priceless gem onto the grill. Ovens can be used in a pinch, and a smoker is purported to be the best way. Run what ya brung.


Common practice with this critter is a BBQ theme. I'm not much of a BBQ fan. Never have been. Friends afflicted with a BBQ problem have suggested that I just haven't had good BBQ yet. Following that rationale, I haven't had good saddle sores yet either, but I've had enough of both to have formed an opinion.

Anyhoo, I punted the BBQ theme and used maple syrup to baste the outside of the weave.


That 4" thick slab o' lean, juicy flesh takes awhile to cook through. Get some other stuff done while you wait.






Check in on occasion, noting the sumptuous sizzling.


After three hours at 225*, I couldn't wait anymore.

Ahem. I mean after three hours IT WAS DONE!

When I started the project Herself showed little interest, tossing her hair and sauntering away muttering something like "Men... sheesh...". Curiously, she reappeared at the Ultimate Moment.


Herself, not being afflicted with the chronic quite the way I am, savored a few quick forkfuls, emitted some perfunctory yummy noises, then walked away. Just like that--she walked away. Impressive.

I stuck with it. The superdeliciousness of it is, of course, completely indescribable. After about 3/4 of a pound I felt *zero* need nor desire to stop eating. If anything I wanted to eat more, faster. In fact, I'm 100% sure that I could, without hesitation, guilt, or even a second thought, easily polish off the whole thing.

Completely confirming my original theory.

;)

MC

Sunday, November 1, 2009

DHM, the details.

Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about this trip.

First, the route track, waypoints, and cues can all be found at Dave Harris' TU site.

I used a Garmin GPSMap 60cs. I've owned it for 3 (4?) years now, and while it is far from perfect or even really good, it is predictable and functional and I don't want to buy a new one. Yet.

Next, the total distance we covered was ~302 miles, with ~38,000' of climbing. Note that TO and I did NOT complete the entire planned route--we stopped short due to TO's wheel failure.

Here's a profile of our route, with mileage on the horizontal axis and elevation on the vert.


And here's a coarse overview.

Looking at the above it'd be hard to argue with Hairypants' assessment that his course covers a 'spectacular chunk of planet earth'.

Next, all of the pics and vid on this trip were shot with a Canon A2000IS. I like this little camera for a few reasons. Primarily that it is small (like that's a big deal anymore?!) and easy to carry and access. But I also like that it cost me ~$180, so if I kill it I can replace it and not worry too much about the $$$. My last favorite feature about it is that it uses AA batteries, so I can use NiMH rechargables in warmer months, and lithium when it's colder, and I can get batteries for it pretty much anywhere.

TO shot this, er, shot a few days into this trip. My camera is in the black neoprene sleeve on the right shoulder strap.


I've learned enough about photography (<-not very much at all!) the last few years that I can easily see all of the flaws and inadequacies in my shots. Most of them are user error--this little camera takes amazing shots if you let it. But even when I get everything right there are still some unavoidable pitfalls to cheap p&s cameras: Way-too-high pixel density, barrel distortion, whacked ISO and white balance, blown highlights, etc... These are unavoidable when using a point and shoot--even the high $$$ p&s cameras are going to have the same flaws.

In order to 'step up' and get rid of these flaws I'll need to spend the $$$$($) and lug along a DSLR and at least two lenses, plus a filter or two and the attendant stuff needed to protect, clean, and keep it all clean. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, this seems unappealing. I'm not out there to create perfect images. My focus (<-snort!) is on experiencing some of the world outside, having a little adventure, moving light/fast/efficiently, and recording the trip to jog the memories later in life. Imperfect photos seem a small price to pay for the convenience and cost of the camera I'm using.

Some folks that know a helluva lot more than I do about photography hold out hope that the recent introduction of micro four thirds cameras will bridge the gap and provide a decent solution for those of us looking for quality without the bulk and hassle of a DSLR. I'm happy to play wait and see on that one.

Next, the bike.

Obviously this is not the bike as it was packed for *this* trip--I don't seem to have a pic of it set up that way.

It's a '10 LenzSport Leviathan 4.0, with a RockShox Reba 120. Wheels are DT Swiss 190 hubs laced to Stans Arch rims, with 2.0 Comp spokes and DT Prolock alloy nips. This wheelset is three seasons old now, and gets used for all of my alpine/XC/bikepacking rides in summer, as well as CX and road duty all winter. The rear shock is a Rock Shox Monarch 4.2. It has a platform feature (Motion Control) that I don't feel much need to use on this frame. It is lightly active, supple on small stuff, maintains traction well without blowing through travel when you stand and burst, and can easily keep up with the extra inch of travel afforded by the Reba up front when hauling the mail. Hard to imagine wanting a different bike than this one for pure XC *or* bikepacking--it just seems to do everything really well and without drama.

Component highlights include SRAM twisters, Phil Wood square taper BB, Middleburn cranks, Action Tec ti rings in 20 x 29 up front, an 11-36 spread out back, and Egg Beater single ti's. Tires were/are tubeless (Bonty 29-3 up front, Specy Fasttrak Control 2.0 out back) run with a 60/40 blend of Stans goop and Tubeless Slime at ~23-24psi. No flats or air loss throughout the trip. They're good, solid, predictable XC tires with a decent combo of volume, grip, and rolling resistance. Everything else should be easily visible by clicking and zooming on the pic.

Here is a *different* bike, but packed pretty much identically to the way I packed my Leviathan on this trip with TO.


Frame pack was custom made by Eric at Epic Designs to fit the Lev's main triangle. I used a Sierra Designs 30* down bag, Big Agnes Primaloft insulated 2.5" thick sleep pad, Osprey Talon 22 pack, and a handful of other things that have been proven to work (by me, for me) on similar trips. Among these are a pepsi can stove, MSR filter, Fenix L1T AA LED light, Crank Bros multi tool and mini pump, custom Black Sheep 28" wide x 20* swept ti bars with 8oz of fuel stored inside, WTB Vigo saddle, Oakley Radar glasses w/polarized lenses, Lake MX90 shoes, head-to-toe wool from Ibex and others, and my newest favorite, the Tak shell from Loki.

At the start, fully loaded with ~7 days worth of food, fuel, batts, 140oz of water, fly rod/reel/flies, zip ties, chain links, lube, spares, etc, etc... the bike weighed ~38lbs and my pack was ~18.

Hope that helps--don't hesitate with questions.

MC

Going down, getting up.

This past summer I got involved in a project with a handful of manufacturers, helping to develop a 29" wheeled downhill bike.

I don't know very much about DH bikes or DH'ing. Until this point I'd never owned one. Living where I do, there isn't much point in owning one--we have lots of vertical and chunk but no lifts, so you gotta climb if you wanna descend. I've always been perfectly fine with that arrangement.

Over the summer, I was able to get out and ride it a few times on the lifts at Winter Park and again in BC. It is simply boggling how quickly you can learn a new skillset, simply by intensive immersion into that skill and mindset. Downhilling and downhillers earn beaucoup derision for a lot of good reasons, but you have to admit that some of them can rip some amazing lines.

Anyhoo, I had a blast while downhilling, and also learned a lot about the bike and each component in so doing. Feedback and data went to the manufacturers, tweaks were made to some of their products, and the whole package has evolved as a result. Under the most scrutiny were the frame geometry and spring curve, followed in random order by fork tuning, brake pad compound sussing, tire compound and casing fiddling, and determining appropriateness of the hub/rim/spoke combo.

Then, about a month ago, all of the lift-served riding areas that I could easily get to closed down. Like, as in for the season. As in not reopening until next summer, some 7+ months away.

Without lifts I can't really ride this bike, right?

Well--that's not true. I can ride it plenty if I wanna become a shuttle monkey.

Hmmm... lemme think for a minute...
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...screw that crap.

I bolted on a front der, shifter, and a 20t granny.


Full 11-34 cluster out back.


Lighter brakes, plus a crisp set o' proto rims to suss out.


Flipped a bargain-bin offset seatpost the wrong way around.


Accepted a little hand-written mojo from someone in Wisconsin...



Hopped on and rode it to the top of the local loops.


Slowly, of course--it is ~39lbs after all.


Climbing wasn't important when the geo was considered, so of course it isn't ideal. Short cockpit, VERY upright, floppy front end, low bottom bracket, etc...


But all of that beats the hell outta shuttling or waiting 7 months to ride it again...


You do what you gotta do.


It ain't gonna become my go-to XC bike. Ever. But when the mood strikes, or when the guys wanna go to Moab, or St. G, or The Swell, or...

...well. It oughta work pretty good then.

MC