Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hood to Coast

Okay, so this post has nothing to do with the Bull City (Durham) or cycling (bicycling). But it does feature a Bull City Cyclist (me). Flew out to Portland, Oregon last week to participate in the Hood to Coast running relay--the self-proclaimed "mother of all relays". Oedipal complexes aside, I highly recommend doing this if you ever get a chance. 12 runners running 3 legs for 197 miles, from Mount Hood's Timberline Lodge (the hotel featured in Kubrick's "The Shining") to the Pacific Ocean (the ocean featured in Ocean Pacific clothing). The description didn't sound too bad; 3 x 10k over about 24 hours. However, the body needs rest and recovery. The first 6 miles was all downhill on pavement and it really did a number on my calves. The second leg was at around 1:00 am, and went through a dark, industrial section of Portland. The third was just after sunrise after sleeping for two hours in a van. Overall, it was probably eaiser than an endurance mountain bike race or an evening at the bars with the bike shop guys, but more difficult than trying to convince Hollywood to buy a bike not made by Specialized or listening to Pirate bust a funky freestyle rhyme. In any event, my other team, The Shagbark Hickories, reeled off the miles in just under 28 hours with only two wounded hands (you can crash while running, too) and a dozen or two blisters (for the whole team, my feet are alright). I'd post pictures, but you've already seen enough pictures of us in tight shorts, you don't need to see me in short shorts.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Team Meeting Tonight 7:30 PM - Wednesday August 27th

Just a friendly redundant reminder about the Bull City Team Meeting tonight.

If you want beverages.......bring them. I have zero at my house.

So check your emails and respond to my new email address, not my old hotmail address with comments.

And once again.......someone please show Geoff the email.

See you all later.

Brian- (Hollywood)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nuclear Recap - Race at the Reactor 8/24/08

Quickly posting some photos, text and race discussion will follow

JD and future BCCer Luke warming up

Adam pre-race

Me (Brian) getting my butt kicked.

New Brian (not holster Brian) finishing up Single Speed (I think he needs a new jersey? Thought?)

Daniel pushing it hard to the line despite breaking his chain on the starting line!!! Determination!!!!

Sexy Ben finishing up the Sport race looking strong.

Racing his first mountain bike race? On a singlespeed 1994 Specialized Hardrock? Nice

Post Race Discussions and excuse swapping

Adam so excited that he actually gets to hang out with cool people like Bull City Cycling.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Race at the Reactor - Triangle MTB Series Race this Weekend

Oh yeah......Bull City is going Nuclear this guys and gals, leave your flux capacitors at home this Sunday.

The 4th and final "normal" race of the TORC Triangle Mountain Bike Series (The Race at the Reactor) is this weekend at Harris Lake County Park in southern Wake County just south of Raleigh. Should be a fun one and hopefully the weather will hold out for a dry and fast race.

Anyone wanna volunteer for some buddy points for me to help me move up in the standings? Somehow I am now in 4th in expert by 1/2 a point and could be in second if I can just get 1.5 points I would be in 2nd overall!!!! All I have to say is consistentcy, cause these guys sure are faster than me right now.......despite 9 days of altitude training in Crested Butte last week.

It is actually an early start so if any of you peeps or bike shop folks wanna come cheer, race or watch my race it starts at 9:30am. Cheerleaders are always much appreciated and can double as buddy points that could move me to 2nd in the Series!!!! Beginner is before and SingleSpeed/Sport are afterwards.

And no the new "Hollywood" bike will not be ready for this race as it is not set to arrive until next week.

Come support Bull City Cycling!!!!!!!

The anticipation builds...

Word has reached BCC HQ that Hollywood has picked up a new ride. Loyal readers will recall that earlier we speculated over his selection. A Specialized for sure but will it be Epic dualie? 29er? Carbon hardtail? Keep it here folks

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

two wheels good/two legs bad

Reality check: sometimes, when slowly grinding up a hill on a mountain bike, I ask myself "wouldn't this be faster if I didn't have to drag this bike and was just walking/running/hiking?" 
The answer: no.
That is, not if you're carrying a heavy backpack. Case in point, a backpacking trip in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 

18 miles. 9 hours. Biking is faster. My quads are destroyed. So please, for the love of Pirate, stay on the bike. Don't get off the bike.

No beets or Battlestar, but we did see some bears:
mother and child hanging out in a cherry tree in the parking lot. Bearstronauts!

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Bike!

What better way to make my first-ever post on a blog than show off my new bike. The purchase was inspired by a recent trip to Pisgah where I decided that if I am only to have one mountain bike, it needs to have gears. Also, I have spent the majority of my mountain biking years on a rigid single speed and have become very accustomed to the feel. That said, in an effort to make this a less abrupt transition, I decided to swap the bike's factory Fox suspension fork for a Salsa rigid. Many thanks to Andrea at Trips for Kids/Grassroots Bikes for the Salsa fork and The Bicycle Chain in Durham for selling me the bike. For those with a sharp eye, ignore the lack of a front brake, the proper adapter is making its way to me posthaste.

Colorado Update.....

Sorry for the delay but due to my ineptitude at loading flickr or picasa (which) i just learned about I have not posted any or all of our epic trip to Colorado week before last. Life has kinda gotten in my way over the last week......but I have hopes of posting a concise picasa album tonight. Needless to say Ali, Wicked Mike, and myself had the most amazing week of our lives. I'm also working on producing a DVD of the week with movies, photos, graphics and maps. This will come later. Be patient. And everyone better start planning for a July or August week in Crested Butte next summer. This is your 365 day warning. No excuses. Start saving now!!!!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Feeling Foolish

I made it just in time for the Fool's Gold 50mile race in Dahlonega, GA. Don't ask me why I never checked the start time for the race and just assumed it was 7:30AM. No pancakes from Trisha for the pre- race breakfast but she did give me a nice neck massage the night before. I noticed on the drive over from Etowah River Campground to the race that I was the only one on the road and remembered something from last year about starting at 7AM. No time to panic so I got parked and assembled my bike with one hand while pulling on my snazzy BCC kit, helmet, gloves, shoes, and camelbak with the other.

As I rolled up to the start the gun was going off so I jumped onto the back and started the first big climb with lots of people between me and the other singlespeed riders I'd be competing against. I finally caught up with a couple of riders that were forced into the same low cadence as me. I chatted with Mike from Macon for awhile as we passed some other SS's. I let him get ahead because my plan was to conserve enough energy to really rip the downhills and still have enough to ride the last set of climbs in the race without cramping. I pass Mike as he's pulling over with a flat. "That sucks" I yell to him. I would find out first hand how bad.

I roll past the first sag and finish up the first set of fireroad feeling great. The singletrack was welcome and I was staying right behind a guy on full suspension. Then I feel the rear is low on air. Pull over and foolishly try to get air in the tire and swish my tire sealant around to get the hole filled up. Doesn't work too good when there is no sealant left. Got a tube in as I watched a bunch of people pass me by. Man am I slow at fixing flats. I notice a broken spoke too but bend it around a couple of good ones and try not to give it another thought. Thankfully that was my last mechanical problem but I felt like I wasted too much time getting back on the bike.

I needed a sandwich at the second sag but took it on the road. This quick pause probably got me by 90% of the people who passed me while fixing my flat (at least I told myself this to make me feel better). There was some pretty steep singletrack climbing so I just walked and ate for a little bit and then started riding. Lots of climbing in this section so I used it to pass several folks, at least two singlespeeds. I was working hard especially to pass but still felt like I was being conservative and saving something for later. The downhills that followed were awesome and I remembered following Dave through some of this on the race last year. Trying to hold his wheel on downhills really pushes me out of my comfort zone but it's given me alot more confidence.

The second half of the race had more climbs than I remembered and that's even with them taking Jake Mountain out. Got kind of worn down and was walking more than I would have liked. Got another sandwich at a sag stop but once again took it on the road and was able to eat while riding on the fireroads. The volunteers at the three places I stopped were really helpful and quick to get me what I needed. Really glad to have them there. I felt a little better but one singlespeed rider I was hanging with for awhile got ahead and I didn't forsee catching him with the way he was consistently climbing everything we came to.

I did catch back up with Macon Mike on the last section of climbing and that gave me a boost of morale. He had just finished fixing his second flat so I felt lucky to only have one myself. I rode almost everything else from that point and was able to stay with Mike. The few times I tried to test him, he didn't have a problem holding his lead on me. I even tried to sneak in a finish line sprint but he noticed me just in time and took the photo finish. It was all just in fun and hopefully pushed him to finish a little bit faster than he would have. The competition definitely kept me going stronger than I would have solo.

I didn't have time to stick around and see how I placed but my time was just under 5.5hours which was the goal I set for myself. Trisha, Luke, and our friends Lee and Stacy were waiting back at the campground for me so we could go get lunch and go tubing on the Etowah River. FYI: don't tube on the Etowah until Georgia gets more rain. It was about half walking, half floating. Still felt alot better than pedaling for 50miles.

News from the North, pt. 4: What have I gotten myself into?

There are a few common signs that your ride has gone on longer than planned: you run out of food or water, you use all of your spare tubes and have to start patching, cramps infect your legs, your over-pumped hands loose the ability to hold the bar, or -- and most dangerously -- your nips get chafed. This last is no joking matter, however laughable it may be: once those tender bits of flesh start to feel like Andre the Giant is having at them with 50-grit sandpaper, your fun on two wheels is over. On what I think was some sort of initiation ride devised by the guys in Albany, we experienced all of the above.

It started out innocently enough: Brian, my tour guide from the SMBA trails, suggested a longer ride for this past Saturday, one that linked up the two nearby trail systems of Grafton Lakes and Pittstown State Parks. Both parks are located just east of Albany, over the Hudson River in a rural area nestled among some decent hills. One park (Grafton) is located several hundred feet uphill the other, and the plan was for us to ride the Grafton trail system, bomb down hill the Pittstown, work our way through those trails, and then enjoy a leisurely -- if uphill -- ride up a fireroad and back to the cars for some frosty beverages.

The best laid plans...

Brian had a map complete with a highlighted route and trail notes that spoke of both authority and knowledge on the subject. Dan and Gary -- the other two in our quartet -- were a little leery of all that was sketched out, but a quick check of the (did I mention impressive?) map and we were on our way.

I was once again thrilled by the trails: with more elevation change than the SMBA trails, but with more interesting features than those I found at Thatcher State Park, both the Grafton and the Pittstown trails were a blast. The terrain was great, as we rolled though a series of thickly-wooded hills, around several small glacial ponds, and up and down rocky, undulating hills. The loamy trails went from moist, to wet, to soaked, to the point were we were essentially riding in a stream, but this seems to be the norm in the area, as without the clay that makes the Triangle trails so susceptible to damage, this singletrack bounces back much more quickly.

Another factor in the trails' resiliency has to be the fact that there are simply fewer riders in the area. While a typical Saturday at Beaverdam could see a packed parking lot and more lycra-clad nignogs than a Poison reunion concert, we didn't see another rider the whole day. There were a couple of fresh fat-tired tracks on the trails, but other than a couple of hikers we had the trails to ourselves. Not bad, especially considering that we were only 30 minutes or so outside of Albany.

But remember Brian's map, and our best laid plans? Yeah, about that...

We were hoping for a three- to four-hour ride (the ubiquitous 'three hour tour'): something long enough to loosen the muscles, but short enough to allow for some riding on Sunday. The problems began to arise as we hit the trail from Grafton down to Pittstown. This was supposed to be a fire road, but daaayuuum: as far as I could tell it was just a place where the giants (that ruled the land before people arrived) had collected rocks and placed them into a long uphill trench for some humanity-torturing purpose I can only begin to fathom. I mean, I guess you could drive on it -- thus giving it 'road' status -- but the idea of heading up that in anything less than a Hummer is hard to imagine.

That said, it was a blast to ride: high-speed, rock-strewn (from the pesky giants), drop of something around 1000 ft in just a couple of miles. The Ferrous went from hill-climbing diva to descent-eating monster, with the big wheels and the Reba just eating things up. (Or so I'm saying: with no witnesses I can cloak my downhill ineptitude in the fiction of my unobserved skill.) This was easily the fastest, most technical descent I'd been on, and by the end -- and after several close calls where I saw my life flash before my eyes... or at least my teeth -- I was in love with the road, rock-collecting giants or not.

This is when I got my first sign that our day might have taken a turn for the worse: as I approached the end of road, I came upon Brian spread out on the trail, deep ruts around him, a dazed look on his face, and his bike pointing the wrong way back up the trail. Whenever the locals on their long-travel bikes (and their all-important map!) go down, you know you're in trouble. Even worse, when you ask anyone if they're OK, and they look at you in a bit of confusion, and then answer 'I don't know,' things could get hairy.

Luckily, while Brian was pretty beat up (his back made him look like he'd developed a sudden S&M fetish and made quite the night of it), both he and his bike were in one piece and he insisted on continuing. It took him a few minutes to get his bearings back, but by the time he'd correctly identified a 1982 Dodge Omni in the distance (without reference to the crappy-american-cars-of-the-80s field guide) we knew he was going to be OK.

The next few miles were a bit of a comedy of errors: first Brian and Dan were attacked by bees (causing me to get "Bee[t]s. Bears. Battlestar Gallactica" in my head), then Brian got one flat, then another, then there were chainsuck issues, and before we knew it the watch on Gary's arm said 5:3o: we'd been out for four hours, and we were miles away from the cars, not to mention a thousand feet lower than where we needed to be. Moreover, I'd eaten all my food (actually, for some reason I did this before we were two hours into the ride), we were all bleeding a little bit, and we wanted to get home, pronto.

This is the point were questionable judgement came into play. While the original plan was for us to go up the trail that we'd come down (and where Brian had wrecked), popular consensus held that most of that was unrideable in the other direction, and that we'd be pushing most of the way up. There was a plan floated for us to try a much longer gravel road ride up the hill, but this was nixed with the following logic: "ya know, if we're going to be pushing anyway, we might as well take the shortest, most direct route, thus minimizing our pushing." It doesn't take a genius to see that this would also mean that we'd be headed back the steepest route, one even steeper than we'd come down. (Like I said, it made sense at the time.)

However, if route one was made by rock-hoarding giants, then route two was created by an evil sorcerer, who bewitched the rocks to march into one long line heading directly up the mountain in an unbroken stream of boulders, then sent an actual stream cascading down it. As some sort of silly joke, someone then labeled this as a 'trail' on the map, and the hilarity ensued.

By hilarity, of course, I mean nipple-chafing hell. I'm not the worst climber in the world, but I was probably on my bike for a total of 200 yards on our two-and-a-half mile hike up to the cars. Luckily, my feet -- clad in always-comfortable, carbon-soled shoes -- didn't hurt, as I was much more focused on the nipular region. At some point things just got funny, such that I began imagining how I'd think back on the occasion, rather than what I thought about the moment in the moment, some sort of weird present-thinking-into-the-future-to-imagine-the-present-as-past that made things more bearable.

Eventually we summited (and yes, I do think that word is appropriate), and it only took us a few minutes to get down to the cars. I bypassed the cars for a quick dip in the lake, bike-n-all, in an attempt to get some of the mud off me and to pretty-up the Ferrous. At this point the crew looked pretty shell-shocked, and three hours had stretched into five-and-a-half, and we'd traveled something like 43 or 48 or 75 or 900 miles on and off the bikes: I mean, we'd basically ridden to the moon and back, all uphill.

I'd be certain that this was some sort of Yankee initiation ritual, a make-the-southern-boy-pay stunt, if the others hadn't looked in a similar state to me. And to be honest it was a great ride: long, hard miles on great trails, with only relatively minor mechanicals and one serious fall. Moreover, the beer tasted all the better at the end of the day, and as sore as I am today I'm glad that I got out for as long as I did yesterday, and even more pleased that such lengthy trails are so close to Albany, and that I had such great guides for the area. It's not enough to make me quit missing the Triangle, but it is enough to make me very happy with Albany.

A few pics of the day:

And a quick video of Brian working his way up one of many short climbs:

I hope NC is treating everyone well and that the Fool's Gold fools come back from the battle unscathed.

Edit, 8/19: As it turns out, the spill that Brian took on our screaming downhill did end up doing some permanent damage, specifically an "avulsion fracture of the humerus." I don't know what that is, but it doesn't sound good. Here's hoping he heals quickly!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Missive from Yankeedom, pt. 3

It's possible that I've moved not to upstate New York, but to some sort of deciduous rain forest: it's rained nearly every day I've been here, with numerous severe thunderstorms and some pretty serious flooding. As a result, I've been a little hesitant to go on a long road ride or a fixed-gear urban exploration ride for fear of getting caught in some sort of biblical deluge. But I'd heard rumors of a sandy, quick-drying park west of town, and on a whim yesterday afternoon I threw the bike on the car and headed to the Pine Bush Preserve.

Sandy indeed: I was shocked at how different the land of the preserve was from anything else I'd seen in New York. In fact, this was easily the sandiest trail system I've ever been on, including some pretty loose trails in southern Arizona and the Sandhills region in North Carolina. The difference from the rest of the city was striking: while the region is largely characterized by thick, loamy soil interspersed with rocky granite protrusions, the Pine Bush is covered with deep, light-brown sand heaped in rolling dunes with nary a rock to be seen.

As it turns out this area is an example of the rare 'pine barrens' ecosystem, and a specific inland variety that is unique in the U.S. The sand is the remnant of glacial lake that covered the area during the last ice age, explaining why there's beach-quality sand so far from the ocean. During my ride it was a veritable riot of vegetation: clearly all of our recent rain has prompted a great deal of growth. And like many forests, the ecosystem is threatened by a lack of pruning fire, which traditionally helped to beat back the underbrush and keep the woodland relatively open.

The effect is hard to capture in words, but the place is undoubtedly beautiful and even a little erie: the blackened sand, cut through with soft brown trails, all over topped with dense, clinging brush and interspersed with black-water bogs could easily be a little creepy. This was heightened by the fact that I got caught in yet-another thunderstorm, meaning that it was just me on the darkened, twisting trails, with thunder and gunshots echoing through the trees. (Evidently there's a shooting range nearby.)

The Pine Bush is -- or was -- relatively well known: George Washington includes his impressions of the region in his journals, Longfellow uses the setting in his poem 'Hiawatha,' Melville cites them in Moby Dick, and Nobokov writes about them as well. While the trails themselves weren't that interesting -- they were wide, relatively straight, and the deep sand had me pushing the bike more often that I'd like -- the park was great, and made me happy I made the trip. I can see why the area has captured the imaginations of past generations, and why it's worth saving the land now: evidently the park supports a wide diversity of plants and animals, a number of which are endangered. I'll certainly be back, though probably with a pair of running shoes as opposed to a mountain bike.

Alas, the rainstorm means that I didn't get any pictures. You'll have to take me at my word that the place is spooky. That, or re-read Moby Dick and see what ol' Herman has to say.

Missive from Yankeedom, pt. 2

After a week off, during which I spun around town some, found a great bike shop, but left the big wheels alone, I headed to the southwest of town for a Saturday afternoon ride at John Boyd Thatcher State Park.

The park is several miles outside of town, so I saddled up the Focus and headed out. As I drove I began to wonder if I might not have the wrong form of transportation: the roads were beautiful, and even my fat-tire-loving soul wished that I was cruising along on my road bike. Unsurprisingly, I saw a number of lycra-clad warriors on the route, and I'm sure I'll join them in the future, as the spin through old villages and up the climb onto the escarpment looks like a blast. (And it should help with my inability to climb.)

The park was packed with picnickers, with the smell of grilled goodness and music wafting over the hills while I rode. The trails themselves weren't anything special: a mix of double-track and wide paths that were heavy on smooth and low on excitement. The climbing, on the other hand, was fun (whether I did it on or off the bike), and the views made the trip well worth the drive. Here are a few snaps of the area:

Of course I've since found out that there are some really sweet trails in the park, just not where I was. An excuse to head back, it seems.

Missive from Yankeedom

As I've flown the coop from Durham and settled in the upstate NY (aka The Land of No Barbecue), I thought I'd update everyone on how the Ferrous likes the new surroundings. (Updates on the General Lee and the Cannondale will have to wait.)

A few days after piloting the moving truck into Albany I started itching for a ride. A few feelers on the web landed me with a guided tour of the Saratoga Mountain Bike Trails just north of Albany in Saratoga Springs. Brian, a knowledgeable local and officer in the local club, was kind enough to meet me and show me around their complex, overlapping trail system.

And it was a good thing that he was there, as I never would have managed my way on my own: the trails were tight, slow, rocky, and highly technical. Normally I find myself getting bored on slow-speed trails (like Rocky Road), but after an initial break-in period I found myself having a blast. The trails were hard, and I appreciated having a local to follow, as I'm not sure I could have picked my way through the rock gardens otherwise. As it was I tried to stick Brian's wheel, crossed my fingers, and prayed that the big wheels and my fork would make up for my relative inexperience on this type of trail.

These were easily the rockiest trails I've been on since I left Arizona, and it was quite a shock just how many boulders can equal a trail, as well as how much exposed granite slickrock there is here, many miles from the mountains. In fact, there wasn't too much elevation change at all, though the quick, technical nature of many of the climbs had me walking more than once (or twice, or three times a...). I would have loved to have had a lower gear here than my 32x18, as I think I might have faired a little better and embarrassed myself a little less. A swap might be in my future.

I wish I had some pictures to illustrate what the trails look like, but as we got caught in a torrential downpour it was probably best that I didn't have my camera with me. Next time, though, I promise.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bees ... what?

It appears that, once again, my locked bike has drawn unsolicited commentary from a passerby. Can anybody explain what someone was trying to communicate to me in this photo? Last time the message was pretty direct, maybe a little too direct. But this time ... I just have no clue.

  • Was a local child warning me about a beesnest under the pavement? I looked, but didn't see anything fly out.

  • The last time I locked my bike here, I came back to find the front tire totally flat. Have I infringed on someone's special rack, and they've moved on from simple vandalism to mind games?

  • The same day I took my daughter to a playground and there was a handmade sign in one corner reading "Here be hornets." Are gramatically eccentric apiphobes on the rise in Durham?
Or is this just some in-crowd phrase, like "Bears Beets Battlestar Galactica," which I still don't get. Bring me in, oh ye in-crowders.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Crested Butte Team Home, O2 overload, and Dr. 7

Watch out kiddos. Ali (now called Dr. 7) and I are back from the high mountains and breathing has never been easier, minds clearer, smiles bigger, tan lines darker, scabs crustier and bruises bluer.

Fake Racin' on tonight? Our lovely mt. bikes are in the hands of FedEx at this moment......safely I hope.

Crested Butte the Movie (DVD) is in pre-production and we should be looking for an early release date around the Holidays, that is if Emily helps me out with the formatting in iMovie. Need to coordinate on a red carpet gala at the raleigh Imax with Koelle and reception at Second Empire with Daniel. Should Rivial the Collective

Also more photos and blog posts will follow as Ali and I catch up on work and "normal" life.

It was epic.

Speaking of secret WORLD RELEASE from Bull City Cycling. Specialized is making a 2009 S-Works Epic 29er. It is a top secret project that we heard about from a Specialized Product tester in Crested Butte. But you didn't hear it from us. It is so secret they did not even talk about it or show it at the 2009 Product Line Dealer Event unveiling last month in California.

Monday, August 11, 2008

hot buttered soul on a roll

Yesterday marked the death of soul music great, Mr. Isasc Hayes. Most will remember him as the guy who's only talkin' 'bout Shaft, Southpark's Chef, a crazy Scientologist, or Chris Rock's rib joint nemesis in "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka". For me, Mr. Hayes also provided the soundtrack for a particularly outstanding moment of cycling in the Bull City. Several years ago, Hayes was playing a late-summer nighttime show at the Durham Athletic Park, home of the film "Bull Durham" and many infamous World Beer Festivals. I was not in attendance, but was across town, enjoying beers on a friend's porch. It was one of those great September nights; low humidity, about 80 degrees, few mosquitoes, not much traffic. There was also a strange pulse to the night air. We could hear music, dimly in the distance. We couldn't quite tell what it was, but it sounded different from a house party or a car's subwoofer. As I rode home, I remembered that Hayes was playing outdoors, and as I neared my place the music became louder and clearer. On certain nights, atmospheric conditions are just right and sound carries clearly for long distances. In Durham, this was just one of those nights, and soul music wafted down the streets, like the smell of fresh pie in cartoons. It was undoubtedly a perfect night for cycling. The streets were free of cars. The air temperature was in equilibrium with my body. The soundtrack was impossibly smooth. The few people out walking around or sitting on their porches, also feeling the magic of the evening, waved and waved back. People were in great spirits and I'm willing to bet that there are quite a few four-year-old children walking around Durham today who were conceived that night. There is a special feeling about being a kid out after curfew. But I realized that, as an adult, this feeling had a greater significance: I felt like I felt like when I was a kid out after curfew. It was one of those moments, like in literature, when cosmic forces align. And it moved to the beat of Isaac Hayes.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Monarch Crest Trail Epic - Continental Trail

Monarch Crest Trail

Monarch Crest Trail

Monarch Crest Trail

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Crested Butte Report Days 1-3

(Photos uploading)

This report has been a while in coming and for purpose of catching y’all up I have provided a day-by-day account of our adventure so far. If you don’t want to bother with the words and just want to see the photos, click the sub-titles.


The first obstacle we faced was simply getting here with our equipment. Brian’s travel saga can be summed up as a comedy of errors. He missed a couple of flights, arriving in Colorado Springs almost 3 hours later than schedule. Up in Denver, Wicked Mike discovered that Southwest had left his gear bag with riding clothes and shoes on the tarmac in Raleigh. It would Mike another two days to be reunited with his kit bag and he did the first couple of rides with flat pedals, sneakers, and gym shots- but I am getting ahead of myself. I arrived with all my things and the extra time allowed me to visit a friend who had recently moved to the Springs with his family to begin a new job at Colorado College. We had a long drive to Crested Butte that night and we arrived past 1 am after Wicked Mike drove 200 miles in 4 hours over the Continental Divide.

Day 1

We awoke on Saturday to behold the amazing views from our lodgings. Mike and I were up early, our body clocks unwilling to compromise their Eastern Standard bearings. Brian, on the other hand, slept like the movie star that he is until 11am. With a late start, we went to town to sort out our bikes and the rides for the next couple of days. Due to a mix up with FedEx, Brian’s Stumpjumper found its way to Salt Lake City and we’re expecting it sometime tomorrow (Tuesday). Making lemonade from lemons, Hollywood rented a Gary Fisher Hi-Fi 29er dualie dubbed Blue Steel from The Alpineer in town. The staff there was busy but made time for us. CB Veteran Wicked Mike was recognized immediately as the “guy with the Moots Rolhoff.” I had my hydraulic lines bleed because the altitude had generated bubbles in the lines and I thought it would be a good idea to have effective braking for the descents here. We were fortunate to have our first taste of the local trails with the Alpineer’s store manager Lisa serving as our guide. We were pleased; we were very pleased. Coming back into town we met Alpineer owner and IF 29er enthusiast Travis Underwood on the trail. We turned around and rode together, but the NC crew let the locals go. We were feeling the first effects of the altitude and they were training for singlespeed worlds this month and La Ruta later this fall. Total miles: 20.

Day 2

We headed out Slate d’Huez, an impressive route climbing almost 2000ft in under 12 miles, to Paradise Divide at over 11,000 ft, after a first stop at the home of Mtn Bike Hall of Fame founder Don Karle. Mike took us over to introduce Brian and I and borrow a set of clip-in pedals and shoes. Don is a mountain bike legend. As he positioned Brian on Blue Steel he mentioned many of the leading lights of mountain biking history by first name in the process of describing the trails around town. As we were chatting, Manitou Suspension founder Doug Bradbury ambled up to the backyard deck Bikes dialed in, we made the leg busting climb up to Trail 403 which descends from almost 11,800ft back down to Mt. Crested Butte where we are staying. 403 is a ribbon of wildflower hemmed trail that winds down the mountain. The descent was fast and fun. Too fun for Brian, who took a tumble when he came upon a large drainage that cut the trail too quickly. We found saw him lying on his back almost 10 feet below the trail, slightly dazed, his helmet cracked. Given his fall, the damage was light: some scrapes and light bruising. We rode home along Gothic Road having experienced on the most difficult 30 mile rides any of us had ever experienced. Total ride time: 5 hours.

Day 3

We headed south of town to hit the Reno Divide-Flag-Bear Creek trails. The ride began with another long 5 mile climb to the summit. This one was easier after the prior day’s climb of Slate. We were rewarded with an indescribably amazing descent down Flag. This trail flows! We have fewer photos from this ride because we were too busy enjoying the ride and trying to out-run the rumbles of an approaching thundershower. We do have a few though. We don’t have a a shot of Brian’s scary fall at the end of Flag. I discovered him lying in a creek bed almost 15 feet below the trail. Again, he was lucky to avoid serious injury. As he said as he scrambled up the embankment, “I’m laughing.” And so we were we. We preserved through two sandy single climbs which robbed our legs of power to enjoy a ripping downhill with 33 switchbacks that brought us to the trailhead. We caught and passed a party of moto-crossers on this downhill, our human-powered bicycles proving more nimble in navigating the tight, rutted, and rocky corners. Total mileage: 17. Total hours: 4. Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Crested Butte Videos - Day Three (8/4/08)

Video#1 Ali and Ritualistic Black Fly Removal Dance at 10,000+ feet on Day 3

Video #2 Still Battling Black Flys in our Soccer Mom Mountain Bike Transport Vehicle

Video #3 Reno Divide Climb

Video #4 Drive back on Hwy 135

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Crested Butte Videos - Day Two (8/2/08)

Approach up the beginning of Slate d'Huez........ seriously.

Gothic Road Ride Home


Dear John, The Pirate has left us.
No, he's not dead. He's up and moved to Albany, NY. Could this be a fate worse than death? Only time will tell. He mentioned he found a local skate park and that outdoor temperatures allow water to exist in liquid form, rather than the commonly found solid form. And speaking of solid form, I joined John for one final mtb ride at New Light, preceded by one final Biscuitville breakfast.

I give credit to John for being a powerful motivational force, advocating for dirt. Definitely not dirt on his bicycles, which were always suspiciously clean. But dirt under the wheels. I had mostly stopped mountain biking prior to meeting John, but he was always rallying the troops to hit the trails. And for that, I salute you. Also, he helped convince me that I should get a 29er and a bmx bike. And for that, I salute you. I guess I managed to convince him to do a cyclocross race, which he said was one of the most miserable experiences of his life (at least prior to moving to Albany), so he owes me one there. If anyone is reading this blog in the Albany area, give him some love.

In an unrelated piece of news, the stork delivered this to my doorstep:Just what is the significance of this puffy bike, you might ask yourself. Have I decided to one-up the hipsters with top-tube pads on their fixed-gear bicycles by adding pads to all of my tubes? Did I misinterpret the freeride dudes talking about "full squish" bikes? Are carbon fiber tubes "out" and foam tubes "in" (laterally non-rigid/vertically compliant)? Did my old cyclocross bike go on a Krispy Kreme eating binge? Is this bike psychologically unstable, posing a threat to itself and others, thus requiring padding and restraints? Oh just you wait and see...