Friday, February 26, 2010

Style on Purpose

I saw this motley pair of creations on the sunday dirt gravel ride while sprinting up Bleak House Rd to try to catch the lead group. Made a mental note to go back and check it out. Did so yesterday and, sweet jesus, Eureka! It's worthy of a click to enlarge that one, web surfers. I don't know who this guy is, but I like him.

Classic VW Bug? Check.
Old Steel Cannondale behemoth set up fixie? Check.

But it's the little details, like with everything, that really get the ladies.
Pink Wienman rim? Check.
Carbon seatpost? Check.
Off-kilter passenger seat, handmade wooden door flares, and wooden bumper? Check, check, and check.
It's a common misconception to think that the details are haphazard, as if thrown together by necessity or chance. But make no mistake - this is the work of a brilliant mind. This guy knows what style is, and he knows exactly how to put his giddyup together.

Cue the obscure late 70's Zeppelin. Put on a powder blue tuxedo. Imagine being about 19, picking up your high school aged prom date, casually explaining away the fact that yes - the car is partially made out of wood - and making her wait for a few minutes in the askew passenger seat before you head to dinner while you dial up a few sprints on the track to get the blood pumping.
She'd be furious, mind you. But there's something about those sinewy legs of yours pumping out turns under your jean shorts, like fine art in motion, that she can't look away from.

It's Friday. Be that guy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Rooster Crows

Remember that 114 mile road ride the Rooster was crowing about?

C'mon...when the rooster crows, you should listen.

It's a half-marked, dirt/paved, bootleg, flatlander underground road race WITH A FERRY RIDE. Plus there's a pancake breakfast before it, and if I estimate the scope of the event correctly, heavy drinking after. I don't see any reason why not.

The Ferry-Roubaix, April 10th.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Berm Weather

Good berm-building weather this week. Lots of melting snow, some rain showers, and moderate temps in the day. Lunch breaks away from the computer have been uber-fulfilling.

First thing's first, though: fill in all the places where trees fell and ripped away 10 feet of trail.
Looking better now...

Then I got down to building some berms:

Rip it.

This one is kind of interesting. A tree fell and ripped away a lot of trail right on a little corner. So I filled it in and kept going. Look a little dangerous? It is. If you come into that thing too high you'll probably lose a limb on the exposed root structure right now. Nothing a sawzall can't cure. And Bender can fly through the thing just fine. It does appear to have a temporary drainage issue though. You'd think we've had 50 inches of snow or something.

Coming off the log ride, get some speed, cross the main trail, and then yank it through the berm going left. Cash money. Note that you have to actually ride the log ride first.

Looking back up from the bottom of the trail at the same berm. I boxed in a little ramp and a landing here. Nothing too outrageous, but with a little speed you can probably go far enough to properly hurt yourself.

Maybe a few more forthcoming tomorrow and Thursday. Then Thursday night, it looks like we'll get cold enough to have a good freeze. I'm thinking frozen singletrack Friday AM at sunrise is the ticket to start the weekend. Any takers?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Girl Scouts

Those cold, heartless devils, the Girl Scouts, showed up at the door this evening. The interaction went something like this:

"Sir, would you like to buy some girl scout cookies to support our..."
"Ok, what kind would you like, we have..."
I think she could smell the desperation, probably sees that wild, faraway look pretty often when she's out making the rounds pushing her smack, so she sold me a couple boxes and split pretty quickly. I have no idea how much money I gave her. Doesn't matter.

Someday, I a
spire to have the kind of legal swing to properly bring the girl scouts up on charges for crimes against humanity, to be able to make them pay for what they've done to the good people of America. Every February, just in time for the final, dramatic throes of the winter doldrums, these kids push drugs with names like Do-See-Do and Samoa. They even SOUND fun, and it won't stop snowing, so you might as well count on throwing a few dozen down your neck and just deal with it like everyone else.

Until I do have that kind of legal swing, or at least until February is gone, pass me another box of thin mints. Let it snow.

Anyone feeling as this point like they're not going to completely suck it at Hilbert 1? As much as I'd like to believe that the 4 laps I suspect I am capable of throwing down in the 6 hour enduro would be enough to take the race, I doubt the truth in that. Even a few years a
go when it seemed like 8 or 9 laps might take it down there, my current 4 lap-worthy physical fitness would only score me, say, next to last. And now, with technology advancements and a pretty stacked local scene, those of us with only a 4 lap capacity are in the hunt for the Lanterne Rouge.

But don't despair. It hit 45 degrees today out here at the Rancho Relaxo. Dirty, stick-strewn singletrack is popping out of the snow like Shaun White. I cut about 20 downed trees, dragged branches out of the trail, and I "freed" about 100 other trees that were just bogged down and frozen in place. If I'm not mistaken (and usually I am about this stuff,) I think we could ride singletrack* out here early on Sunday if we got a good freeze Saturday night.
*singletrack, by February standards, is a mix of slush, snow, mud, and dangerously icy log rides.

Let's go to the BFR mailbag. You can smell the desperation and the winter funk.

"Oh God I want to ride a bike outside in the woods."
-Amen. Double amen for 1-line emails that say what they mean. Let's move on.

"Moots Mooto X Ybb 29er 20" Single Speed W/ Sliders - $1420 No idea if it is sold. Been up for 1 week on Oodle. What do you think about a soft tail single?"
- Dude, if you don't make it to a trail soon, Visa is going to have to declare bankruptcy. But yes, a YBB Moots set up single with big wheels sounds like something I'd dig riding behind. Probably way behind.

"Dirt gravel. Sunday. Pack a lunch."
-A quick check of the weather says 4
9 and sunny on Sunday. I will officially be skipping church.

"The Handmade Bike Show is in Richmond next weekend, same day as Trailicious. Bring it."
-An outstanding use of gas, by my calculations, would be a road trip to The Capital City next Saturday morning, a sampling of dry singletrack God-Willing, then throwing a few thousand dollars at handmade bikes I can't afford and trails we can't live without.

Because that's what neighbors do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pantani Ride - Recap

Sunday started clear and cold for the Pantani Ride. I checked out the back window for any sign of trouble and found 4 foot long icicles with frozen striations that made them look like elephant trunks, or maybe something straight out of fantasia. I knew it would be a good day.

It was. 8 brave souls turned out for an abbreviated Pantani Ride. Abbreviated in that we got a last minute conditions update from the 3,000 foot elevation residents that there were 2 plows and a front end loader stuck up on Simmons Gap, unable to plow, and snow drifts that could swallow a whole bike until April. Good sense, winter legs, and frozen toes prevailed, and we pre-emptively cut out the lollipop up and over the mountain and back (much to the disappointment of the hordes of international fans that had swarmed the mountain to cheer, jeer, and loop the leader's handlebar with their purses,) making for a cool 30 mile grinder on mixed pavement, dirt, and ice.

So how did it shake out?
Well, in hindsight, the Richmond contingent's intelligencia deeming studded tires to be the ticket to the top of the podium was wrong. Similarly, my counterintelligence was also faulty - that v-brakes, a frozen front derailleur, and a frame that is cracked more ways than Whitney Houston was my best chance to stay in the coveted leaders jersey - incorrect. Lastly, lighting out from the start in an anaerobic, full-tuck position with insubstantial knowledge of the course route and no map also proved to be a poor strategy. In the end, carbon fiber hardtail, early fitness, and course knowledge prevailed, and I believe Shawn got in in under 2 hours. For the rest, a grupetto formed around Mission Home, but the tenuous alliance was blown apart in the last 2 miles in a fury of flat tires, misguided sprinting, and a recalcitrant lust to be 2nd best. I believe the newly 29erfisherfied, Eric Moore, took the honors for 2nd best, and better yet, due to the real champion's disdain for the heretofore appalling lack of competition (or maybe the smell of the jersey,) Eric also claimed the coveted "maillot pistachio."

the silver bullet, defeated but at rest. will she ever rise again?

So what is next in the world of organized and disorganized bike racing?
Well, the good Mark Junkerman maintains on his website that Hilbert 1 is a go in 20 days. I believe the over-under on that is actually more like 50 days, but I like his optimism. Then, the Blue Ridge School Ride the Ridge course is purported to be March 28th - a course that notoriously oozes mud until May or June, even in a dry year. My point here? Maybe don't lace up your new drivetrain until summer.

But what's that out there at 6 PM every night now? That's daylight, folks. And daylight means brownie crits, starting again on a Wednesday soon, if we're lucky. Lucky like four leaf clovers. Lucky like the Irish. Wednesday, March 17th, St Patrick's day, 6 PM. BYOGB.

Let's Rally, O'Mally.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pantani Ride - Saturday update

Sunrays on a Saturday out here at the Rancho Relaxo today. But let's go to the Bike Factory Racing blog mailbag, shall we? Lots of folks checking in with questions regarding the status of the Pantani ride.

Cappuccino for 1, and oh by the way did you notice the FEET of snow out there?

"Is the ride still on?"
"How are the road conditions?"
"Will there be any parking at your house since your yard is snowed in?"
"Do you have any back up plans?"

No one panic. Let's take those one deep, existential question at a time.

Is the ride still on?:
Yes. Sort of. I mean, if there were a director sportif here, or any officiating body for that matter, then Dear God no, the ride would definitely be off. I rode up to the top of Fox mtn and back this afternoon, and road conditions range from mudslide to dogsled trail.

Of course, being that the Pantani ride isn't official in any way, anyway, we are certainly lacking an officiant to make that kind of call for our collective safety. So yes, the ride is still on as long as you acknowledge you are taking your life into your own frozen, white-knuckled hands. And those of any nutjob on a bike who might be riding near you at any given moment. And the countless rednecks out there drink-driving their pickups like toboggans on Fox Mountain.

How are the Road Conditions:
Look, I'll be honest, they're miserable. It took me 2 hours to get to the top of Fox and back - a trip that usually takes about an hour. The pavement connectors are a little narrow but OK, but all the dirt roads are a disaster. Presumably, this is statewide - Iron Mike checked in from Ridge Road - "If it is representative of other dirt roads in the county things will be quite difficult tomorrow. Road was either muddy or packed ice. The icy bits were very difficult to run on, don't think they were rideable unless you were running seriously studded tires." Ignore, for a moment, Iron Mike's questionable grammar (likely induced by sustained hypoxia and many, many high speed crashes), and acknowledge that the roads are bad today, perhaps worse tomorrow after they freeze tonight, and let's be honest - if Iron Mike says they might be a little squirrelly, they are probably impassable.

"Will there be any parking at your house since your yard is snowed in?"
A valid question, and something I hadn't really considered given that I get to wake up here with my car already safely parked. My yard is, indeed, snowed in, and all but the most remarkable 4wd systems will probably get out there and stay a while. But there are a few spots here and there along the driveway, and people have always been pretty creative with their parking out here anyway. If you get stuck, you'll be joining a long, proud list of drivers who have narrowly escaped the Tevenyard with their lives. But we'll figure something out*.
*anyone with a winch, bring it.

"Do you have any back up plans?"
Yes. I've got backup plans out the wazoo. Regrettably, all of them involve cold feet, lung busting pain, and lots of snow and ice, and you could argue the safety of any one against any of the others until you forgot to look where you were going and got hit by an out-of-control snowplow. So let's not do that. I will say this - we'll gather around the start line in the morning and discuss some options. I don't anticipate anyone in their right mind being on that start line anyway, so really the sky's the limit.

Let's recap:
If you're not put off by
A) Lack of safety
B) Icy, dangerously steep roadways
C) An epic parking disaster just waiting to happen
D) backup plans that will require a buddy system and a compass
Then I'll see you out here at 10.

Otherwise, I recommend the trainer.

Just don't forget what separates the breakaway from the peloton.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pantani Ride - Wednesday Update

You'd better believe it, kids. The weatherfella' called for a foot and what did we get? About three inches. Story of my life. I just love it when someone else comes up nubby besides me.

So it's a good thing this time. The sun came out today, the wind blew like hell, and all in all I feel we've finally turned the corner, at least for now, on the winter of this hellish year of our lord, 2010.

That being said, and ignoring niner's post below for now because we're keeping our eye on the prize (that prize to be disclosed momentarily), The Pantani Ride is freaking on.

Address: 551 Allen Rd, Earlysville VA 22936. Googlemapit. Get your Gameface one. Get your Giddyup in Gear. 10 AM this Sunday.

Now about that prize, I make no claim that this would make Marco Pantani proud. Anything less than a premium, extra small, silk Castelli would probably make Il Pirata roll over in his grave, but what the hell, he was the pirate and this is our ride.

I present to you, the leader's jersey.

At the start, we'll take a look at the collective assortment of who has shown up, determine who doesn't look completely tubby and shut in, and call them the leader and make them wear it.

Then, a moment of silence, mostly to apologize to the Ghost of Marco Pantani about the jersey, and we'll have at it. Upon return, whoever makes it back first, it's your jersey for the year.

1) print the route.
2) bring some serious tread, it'll be slick out there
3) Plan something nice for later in the day with your lady, fella', or whoever it is that is cool enough to let you come rally on V-day.

Up, Up, Up.
Let it be known that today, the 10th of February of 2010, David Tevendale has made a verbal commitment to complete the Wilderness 101 on a Single Speed. I'll be there to witness it. Will you? July 31, 2010. State College, PA.

9er, out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pantani Ride - Tuesday Update

Supa'Tuesday out here at the Rancho Relaxo. What's that mean?
Well, snow, for starters. As you may have guessed.
But also, let's have a Pantani ride update.

First and foremost, the level of apathy around this joint is enough to make a man turn to whiskey and not come back. Yes, it's been snowing a lot. No, conditions are not ideal for riding, even if you've got a fatty, 4 inch-tired monster rig, ice boots, and no appreciation for the feeling in your toes. But that doesn't mean we're ready to throw in the towel on the Pantani ride. Here are a few reasons this thing is on like Donkey Kong:
1) Marco would go. Think about this. Think about the reasons he did what he did and the reasons we do what we do. Painful cold, by that kind of logic, only makes the ride BETTER. The word for the day is masochism. Use it in a sentence. Be cool.
2) The rooster says he is in. I don't think I know this guy, but I feel a certain kinship, and he seems like the kind of guy who might like to crush a 114.89 mile ride sometime in early April. Wish I knew more, but I don't. Do your own research on that one.
3) After whatever happens today happens, and whatever shit from the sky falls out of the sky tomorrow, we're looking at 3 straight days of sunshine before Sunday. That should be plenty of time for the hard-working men and women of VDOT to almost completely ignore obscure gravel roads like Fox Mountain and Simmons Gap, leaving them in a state of washed-out, iced-in, near total disrepair come Sunday. All traits I find attractive in a dirt road.
4) If, for some reason, good sense trumps the need for speed on Sunday (and let's be honest, I don't think it will) we've got other options for pain. A timed run up Simmons Gap might be worthy. Singletrack here on the farm might be workable by then, opening up the possibility for a dirt crit. The sky's the limit.

So prepare accordingly. Pack all your shit in your car on Saturday. Skinny tires, fat tires, running shoes, extra socks, bottles, and a spare lung. And keep checking back here as your misery tries to convince you to stay on the couch. Sunday will still happen. Like Hiser said, you can't cancel a mountain.

Up, up, up.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mega-Blizzard 2.0

Well, I thought I'd post a Pantani ride update before Mega-Blizzard 2.0 sets in and the world as we know it all goes black. Or white, I guess. It's been a rough winter so far. And with a forecasted 20" - 28" of the heavy white stuff blowing in this weekend, there is some question about the Pantani ride being rescheduled.

Last I heard, brokenback and simmons gap were both a sheet of ice. With the storm we're having this weekend, more potential snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then a week of 30 degree temps before the Pantani ride, it seems inevitable that most of our route will be snow-covered, sketchy, and outright dangerous by Sunday. Moreover, singletrack options are even less likely - the farm here had just about melted out by this morning, but that dirt is now gone baby gone. See you in March, Dirt.

But reschedule? No way. Pantani day is February 14th. Something painful will go down that day, at 10 AM, starting from here on the farm. Could be anything.

So fight off the despair a bit longer. Avoid secluded hotel rooms and lots of alone time. Check back for details as the day draws near. The details will make themselves clear.

Up Up Up.