Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My friend didn't know...

this was in his fridge, and he's "not a big pale ale guy." And now I am going to drink it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

railing on my saddle...

This past weekend I traveled north to visit by brother in lovely Saratoga Springs, NY. This is my brother, Eric:

My brother is not a hipster.

He may be looking guilty because I may have been chastising him about his fixed gear bicycle. It is an undersized Miyata with the original hot orange bar tape. I was not chastising him, as you might assume, for attempting to be hip with his fixed gear; really, I was disappointed he did not get orange DeepV rims to match the bar tape.

Here is his not-a-hipster bike.

My brother is cool: he went out and bought some good beer for my visit. And then we went for a nice bike ride out to the Saratoga Battleground. There were some beautiful views of the Hudson Valley and the fall colors in the leaves.

On the way home from 'Toga, I decided to race day 2 of Hudson Valley CX in Newburgh, NY. The NYCross Series, while growing, is definitely not quite at the level of competition seen in the MAC series, so it's always fun to jump in their races. While not a big fish in a little pond, I'm at least not the opposite, and in the past have done fairly well in the B races.

Anyway, I arrived at the venue, which was held in a park on the side of a hill. There was a lovely view of the Hudson Valley, and the course was pretty fun. After a preride, I noted several things: short lap, 4 dismounts per lap, and the last third of the course was all uphill. We would do a lot of laps, and that climb was going to hurt.

The ladies about to start with the Hudson in the background.

I got to the start line early, anticipating a scrum start, and I was rewarded with a front row starting position. The race started with 25 meters of asphalt into a 90 degree right turn onto grass. I was on the very inside of the front row, and the dude to my left arrogantly gave me a lecture: "Hey, just so you know, if I get a good start - and I will get a good start - I'm going straight for that corner. And I'd hate for you to be right inside of me, because I will have to chop you." I smiled politely and remarked that I didn't want to crash him as much as he didn't want to crash me, and that everything was going to be alright.

The race promoter comes to the front and dangles a pair of Maxxis Raze tires in front of us. "First one across the line after the first lap wins these!" And then, the official gave us the "GO!" I let d-bag take the hole-shot and jumped right on his wheel. We got a decent gap, and I just stayed glued to him. Through the second set of barriers, I got a little gap, so I thought: "Screw it, I probably won't win, may as well try to get some tires I can eBay." Plus it didn't hurt that I wanted to make d-bag suffer for his start line commentary.

The scene of the crime.

Held on to take the Lap 1, and at the end of the second lap I still had 10 seconds. I see "6 to go" so I sit up and wait for d-bag, figuring we can work together. He agrees, and off we go. Going through the same set of barriers I had attacked earlier, I feel something go horribly wrong on my remount, and eventually discover a few things:
  1. There's a reason Bad Andy wants me to be smoother on my remount,
  2. If you're going to put your saddle all the way back on the rails, you should probably just spring for a set back seatpost, and
  3. I should probably lose some weight.

The damage to my otherwise awesome new rig.

You see, my saddle rails had folded under my bloated carcass, and that, my friends was the end of my race. It's awfully hard to put any power down with a saddle poking your prostate. I did finish the race, going backwards the whole time, because I didn't want to lose the tires to a DNF. After the race, a more friendly d-bag was perplexed by my disappearance. I pointed to the saddle, and we had a laugh, and he's not so bad after all I guess.

So to recap:
  • $60 USAC license
  • $30 race entry fee
  • Broken saddle, and need for a new seatpost
  • But I won some clincher tires!
It was a pretty good weekend.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

assault on the southwest, 2009 edition...

A little while while back, I sent in a little entry form to the D9 crew. Well, I was accepted to contend a second time for the title of Single Speed World Champion. Despite the fact that I had ridden my singlespeed all of 3 times this summer, a plan was formed: ship bike, head to Flagstaff, AZ. Rendezvous with the HBar Sandwich Crew. Shred the Southwest. Drink some beer. Then head to interbike for work.

Checkpoint 1: Flagstaff

Met up with Nathan and unpacked my whip. We headed out his front door for a little ride up the local mountain. Trails of note: Schulz Creek and Little Bear. Turns out climbing to 9000 feet on a singlespeed you haven't touched all year can be a little painful, but the descent was well worth it - rocks, flow, drops, sand, amazing views and switchbacks. Nathan dropped me like the low-land dwelling out of towner I am, but it was a great ride. Later, a reunion with some good college friends brought us out for some Thai food and some 80s themed dancing at a local drinking establishment. Flag is a cool little town, with some serious riders and some even more serious transvestites.

The view from Little Bear.

Checkpoint 2: Durango Colorado

I peeled myself out of bed and jumped in Nathan's car with Rocco and Chris. The goal was to drive across "The Res," surviving the Res Wind and chasing Res Dogs and make it to Durango with time to ride before the darkness and drunkenness set in. A few false starts, for instance one to turn off an iron that was already off, prevented us from arriving in time to ride. But drunkenness did ensue.

Sipping on a Res Soda on the way across Northeastern AZ.

New Belgium Brewing hosted a killer party with a band, dirt jumps, a bunny hop competition, and plenty of beer to go around. The perfect warm up for a World Championship Race. We slept like true Pros, wedged in the only open floor space in a condo with 18 other racers.

Also hung out with Chris and Kate of Albany fame, see also www.blk13.com.

Dirt Jumps.

Checkpoint 3: The Race

The race was scheduled to go off at 11 am, giving us plenty of time to get some coffee and sign in for the race. One of the organizers brought his childhood baseball card collection as give-aways, and I hoped that channeling a young Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens as spoke cards would only help my chances.

Powered by Major League Moustache.

Here's my race report: 1000 racers. Lap 1: 6 miles of road / fire road climbing. 45 minutes of hiking, pushing your bike uphill in a long line of racers. Ridiculously rocky technical fun ridge riding that was partly unrideable because of the traffic. Fast descent. Lap 2: Much more flow. Just as much climbing / hiking. More sun. Bacon, whiskey, beer - none of which I was in any condition to consume. Super fun descent - I saw a girl puncture her thigh in a nasty crash. Then, 3 hours, 18 miles, and 3500 feet of climbing later, it was over.

2009 Hike-a-Bike World Championships.

Durango as seen from Raider Ridge.

The riding on Raider Ridge.

MJ pumping away. Soon he'll be a doctor.

Post party ensued, the centerpoint of which was the basketball game between "Italy" and "New Zealand" for rights to host next year's race. I use quotation marks because there was only one local - a Kiwi - between both teams. The really is nothing funnier than watching a bunch of skinny cyclists with little coordination playing ball for 45 minutes. The other highlight was the art show inside of Ska Brewing - featuring all of the entry forms sent in. 10 of the entry forms were selected to be photographed and framed and auctioned off. I was delighted to learn that I was one of the featured artists.

Beards represent.

White men can't jump.

Tattoo trophy time.

Gollum looking for "his precious" in the river.

Later I learned that Greg "Hball" Herbold was gifted my artwork after the show was over. Ironically, I learned this only hours after talking to HBall on the phone for a work-related project, so I called him back to let him know he knew the guy behind his priceless new art. Small world.

The artist celebrated with his masterpiece.

Checkpoint 4: Phil's World

On the way back to Flagstaff we stopped for a little shred in Cortez Colorado, on a trail system known as Phil's World. It is the home of the 12 hours of Mesa Verde, and we got in a nice 2 hours on some of the flowiest, rollercoasteriest, fun desert singletrack I've seen. Thought we were going to get bowled over by a vicious thunderstorm, but the rain passed just in time to rip through "the Ribcage" - the greatest collection of over-sized pump track I've ever ridden.

Riding along cliffs is fun.

Riding through an old burn.

Checkpoint 5: Grand Canyon National Park

Seeing as I had to travel west from Flagstaff, I figured I'd detour slightly and see the world's biggest hole in the ground. I parked at the visitor's center, and pulled my bike out of the trunk. Riding along the shuttle bus roads, I was able to see the canyon from 5 or 6 vantage points in an hour and half. Descriptors coming to mind include: huge and beautiful, and remote yet accessible. Threw my bike on the shuttle bus rack and headed back to the car to head to Vegas. A surprising highlight of that trip was crossing the Hoover Dam. Pretty remarkable that it was built 80 years ago, and even more remarkable is the bridge they're building across the canyon right now.

Big ass hole in the ground, click for full resolution.

I should have been a civil engineer.

Checkpoint 6: Interbike, Las Vegas, Nevada

Finally, Interbike. What a show. I won't go into it, as the normal rags will have far better coverage than the working man can provide. But I did get Eddy Merckx and Johan Museeuw to sign my Paris Roubaix book. And I got to see my bike cables on Contador's and A. Shleck's bikes. That was good enough for me to celebrate with a little karaoke and a nice sushi dinner.

The Tour de France winning bike, with winning bike cables.

The Cannibal did not want to be there, but he signed my book anyway.

My favorite display at interbike, click through and read the sign at the bottom.

Final Checkpoint: Back to Flagstaff

I headed back to Flag to catch a flight home. With a day to kill we fed Nathan and Rocco's pet spider, and then J-Money took me for a hike in Sedona. We headed 5 miles into the exposed, dry, skin-melting desert to find a glorious oasis: a cool, spring fed swimming hole in the middle of the canyon. The water was so nice on a hot day, and on the return trip we got some malted shakes at an alien themed diner. Sedona is one strange town, but goddamn, they can make a milkshake and fry some pickles.

Feeding the spider.

Hiking by prickly pears.

Oasis, with a dog sniffing my crotch.