Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gear OCD

This is sort of a recovery week in terms of training so I've had time to go over some gear. I feel really confident in terms of my gear selection (other than in 2008). Gear is not what has kept from making it to Durango. The one item that I tend to go back and forth on is the bivy. The other day I went back to the lighter model but I'll make that swap a few more times over the next few months. I did move the bed roll to the front this year and I'm much happier with that setup. It impacts the handling a heck of a lot less. I do still have some mountain feedbags that Eric made for me but I'm so particular about how the cockpit looks that I have not decided to use them yet. 

I installed a new Ardent (2.4) tire a few days ago and have been playing around with air pressures but finally found the ideal pressure for the load and riding style. I love this tire. 

I always have a few Esbit tablets for emergency when I do a long ride but during something like the Colorado Trail Race, I do not bring a stove and I do not rely on backpacker meals. I may take one for the long haul between the Hot Springs and Silverton but we'll see. The one thing I generally find myself craving is coffee. A while ago I bought an insulated bottle from Kleen Kanteen. It's a bit heavy but it will keep coffee or soup hot for about 8 hours so I am strongly considering bringing it. I hope to hit Breckenridge in the evening of night 1 and I can't think of much better than to be able to take 16 ounces of hot coffee along with me for the night hike up the 10 Mile Range. My carbon cages don't allow the bottle to fit real nicely so I dug through some boxes and found an old Cateye cage that works perfectly after hacking off the curved portion designed to fit around the neck of a normal bottle.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My tool

This is my tool. It is a good tool. It has served me well. I got my tool in 2008. Yesterday I started my ride about 25ish miles from my house. I am now using bolt on skewers and lovin' every minute of it so I've been using my tool a bit more lately. I drove home after securing the El Mariachi to the top of the car. I worked like a slave around the house today but had to go run errands down the mountain late this afternoon. When I was in downtown Springs I heard something on my roof causing a racket and looked to my left and caught a glimpse of something shiny falling off. I was moving along briskly but managed to take a quick inventory. Phone....check. New ipod Nano...check. That was the only important stuff I could think of. I immediately swung a u-turn and parked on the other side of the median. I walked up and down the median looking in the lane I was in trying not to look like a total psychopath. All I needed was a damn sign saying something witty while asking for change. One guy said hi to me and I immediately responded with, "I have a really nice car parked right over there. If you don't believe me you can go ask that gal sitting inside if she's with me. She'll tell you she is!!!" He drove off. 

I couldn't find my tool. I did the walk of shame back to my car and got in. We drove for a few miles and I just couldn't let it go. I had a lot of shit stolen from me last week. That tool has to be in that half a city block SOMEWHERE!! Heather says, "Dude...I'll buy you a new tool." Really? I thought you knew me. I swung another u-turn to go back to the scene of the incident. I parked and got out with more determination than ever before. This time I decided to study the possible lines of trajectory that my tool could have taken. Then....I started walking on the other side of the road. I estimated the speed I was traveling. I took into account random abnormalities in the road surface and old bubble gum that might have an influence on my tool. Nothing. Just as I was about to give up...I spied something. My tool!!!!! It was in the middle of a very busy 4 way intersection. One car did run over my tool while I was waiting and plotting my moves. Heather said, "You're never gonna get that stupid thing." "Shaddup...I'm trying to get into my zone!!!" I soon as this light turns red, it's Howdy Dooty time. But then...the other light turned green and I had to deal with cars from the other direction. I yelled out, "Let's take this up a notch!!". By now people are looking at me with curiosity. I'm pretty sure one guy was checking out my wife. Then it hit me. This is just like the Seinfeld episode where George is trying to transport the Frogger game across the busy street. This was my Frogger game. Without much more thought, I saw my opportunity and took off. Flip flops and all. I darted out, made a few sexy moves, grabbed my tool, then headed back to the sidewalk where I did a small victory dance. My tool has a few new marks on it but, otherwise, it's ready for more action.    

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend ride

I was supposed to do an overnighter this weekend but, at the last minute, I realized that the rat bastard thieves who broke into my car last weekend and grabbed my gear bag, also made out with my 1/8" closed cell foam pad that I sleep on as well as my knee warmers. My plan was to sleep at about 10,000' and it was supposed to be a low of 30 here at 8500' so I think it would have been pretty miserable and borderline dangerous since bailing to lower elevation in the middle of the night would not have been possible since they also stole my lights (I still have the charger asshole!!!!). At the last minute I decided to call an audible and do a long ride both days but sleep here at the house. So I left Saturday and was going to ride a chunk of the Ring the Peak trail. It started out really nice (but a bit cool) and then weather moved in and the temps dropped. I did not take pics during the last 3 hours of the ride because I was freezing. Ya know if I'm's cold.  

I rode the blue bike today with a full load of gear that I would use on a week long trip but I decided to leave the gearing at 32x20. This was a huge mistake and the ride was filled with a lot of doubt about whether or not I could ride this bike on long stuff like this or not. Up to that day, I had felt a lot stronger than last year (with only 3 weeks of training in) and I attribute that to riding so much on the singlespeed this year. It has completely transformed how I ride (how I brake, the lines I pick, how I climb, the way I pedal, etc.). It's amazing. For so long I have been amazed by singlespeeders like Chris Plesko, Eric Cutlip, The Dick, Dejay Birtch, and Jason Shelman.

Today I headed out towards Deckers with the intention of riding Section 2 of the Colorado Trail. I was still riding with a full load today but I did swap to 32x22 and it made all the difference in the world. I covered the same distance today that I rode with no load last week but 6 minutes faster and my heart rate never went over 162 (and the time that it was there was minimal). I was able to ride a lot more stuff than yesterday. Section 2 is in stellar shape so get out and ride it if you can. The wildflowers are off the hook and look even more amazing in that relatively barren area.

There were flowers of all colors (blue, purple, different shades of yellow, orange, red, and white). It was awesome and I wanted to photograph more but I was supposed to stick to the moving time this weekend so I cant share all that's out there with you.

This is near the end of Segment 2. This area is bouncing back remarkably well from the Buffalo Creek fire years ago. I was actually a bit stunned at how green it was near the end.

I continue to be impressed by this bike. I just love the way it rides. I have the plastic bike with gears ready to roll and sitting in the bullpen but, in the back of my head, I can't help but wonder if I could do a really long ride with this thing. I tend to re-think that when someone like Kurt Refsnider says that HE is blown away by others doing big stuff on one gear. Kurt can burn it up and if he wouldn't consider doing so then I probably have no business dreaming about it but it still crosses my mind a lot.

The worst thing I saw today was this. This is the bathroom at the start of Section 2. It appeared to just be trash. Sometimes people really disappoint me.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Frame bag

Most of the bikepacking specific bags that I have are from Eric Parsons and his company (Revelate Designs) out of Anchorage, Alaska. Eric does amazing work and he recently took a big step and partnered with Salsa for frame bags for the Mukluk, Fargo, and El Mariachi. Because he is no longer doing custom frame bags, I had to get my hands on one of these. I had my good friend TK keep an eye out for them to show up at Quality Bicycle Products and BAM!!! Here it is. I'll probably use this for some longer trips this summer but I really wanted it for a Tour Divide ride in 2013. I now have all of the bags I would need for that kind of ride. The frame bag is incredibly stable and it will likely hold a bladder of water, lot's of food, maps, and tools/first aid. The reason for the frame bag for that long of a ride (2700 miles) is simply to get the weight off the back. The more weight on your back, the more pressure is applied to your sit bones and going to be tender. 

The main compartment is on the drive side. I love how Eric put yellow fabric on the inside of this and on the Mountain Feedbags. It will just make seeing into both of them and looking for that one particular item while tired and pedaling so much easier. The other side of the bag has a smaller pocket that will be perfect for the tools/first aid stuff. 

Many thanks to Tim for helping me get this important item. Thanks buddy. 

Friday, May 11, 2012


It's rare that we wake up to clouds here but today that's what I saw. It stayed that way all day. I knew that as soon as school was out it would start raining or snowing. Sure enough...just before 3 the snow started. I was supposed to ride for 2 hours and do some really uncomfortable Zone 5 intervals. I hurried home and got dressed and headed out. As I was riding to a bigger climb that leads above town, I remembered this same workout last year. Same weather. I rode this 20 minute climb in a 32x22 and never saw higher than 158 beats per minute. Then I looped around and down and arrived back at the base of the same climb. I was not able to hit 182 last year. I warmed up for an hour and by then it was coming down pretty good. Snow one minute. Then rain. Then sleet. Usually I start my intervals and wait until I hit the number I need to be at and then start the time. After almost 2 minutes of climbing in the middle ring and bottom cog, I still hadn't hit it yet. I tried again. Still couldn't do it. Have no clue why. I was frustrated and very cold. I know I am not in that good of shape. Maybe work stress? Lack of beer intake? New mustache not thick enough?

Then I happened to look off the road and saw this small herd of Elk. I made the decision to ride off road next. I went to a little loop that I've ridden before and seen high numbers. Not today. At the 2 hour mark I couldn't feel my hands anymore and decided to head home. This workout gave me fits last year but I remember feeling like a super hero at about 9 weeks in so I'm sure things will be fine. Just wish I knew what the problem was. 

Supposed to rain/snow all night and be shitty most of the weekend so I imagine things will be rough but school is almost out and then I'll be able to try and wait the spring storms out a bit. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Time to start

I'm working with LW Coaching again this year and things started off tonight. I rode for 2 hours but the important chunk of that time was a 20 minute time trial. The end result was an average heart rate that was 3 beats higher than last year. This changes my training zones but not by much. Interestingly, I did cover slightly more distance this year than last year even though I was on my mountain bike. I could not have gone much harder during the effort and there was a few times where I thought the lights were dimming. I think I impressed myself by finishing and my head expanded because the retention system on my Bell helmet busted. Now I gotta buy a new helmet and those things are not cheap.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Can you dig it?

The Alma (AKA Shaft) has not been ridden since my shivering, dismal, frightened, and morose 2011 attempt at the Colorado Trail Race. It's been hanging in the garage since then. I threw it together Friday night and got him all dialed in and cleaned up today. He's probably going to get a new fork real soon here and very well may get called into action next month depending on whether or not I think my scrawny little legs can push over one gear for at least 88 miles and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 feet. I had forgotten how well this bike cleaned up. It's pretty bad. 

That big ole aluminum seat post doesn't flex nearly as much as the Eriksen ti post does. I swapped out the stem for this Thomson zero degree and both bikes measure pretty darn closely. The bars do sit lower on Shaft because of the sag in the fork and that's the biggest reason I'll replace it soon. I also mounted up the WTB Weirwolf tire. What a buzzkill that thing is. It's a 2.5 that could easily pass for my 2.1 Ignitor in the rear. I'll have to look at a Racing Ralph or an Ardent eventually. Those are also the horrible WTB Laserdisc hubs on the wheels that left me high and dry in 2008 just south of Monarch Crest (it was so choice sitting in the back of that guys Ford drinking his Coors and eating some Pop Tarts while cruising in to Salida).

I'm so lucky to have 2 really nice 29ers. I really love riding the SS but I don't know if I'm man enough to do more than 5-6 hours on it. 

With work being so crazy lately, I haven't gotten in as much riding as I would like but I still feel like I'm in pretty good shape after having taken off a month with neck issues. The MRI showed that I have a bulging disc at C6. My doctor suggested some Cortizone injections in the area and the doctor that would do that is supposed to call me this week. I'm a bit nervous about it but I'm gonna listen to what he has to say and go from there. 

The first event I have signed up for this year is the Salida Big Friggin' Loop. This is put on by the same guy (Tom Purvis) that puts on the Vapor Trail 125 in the fall. I've wanted to do the VT for a few years now so completing the BFL will be good for Tom to see and it will be a big step in the right direction for me this year. This race was originally scheduled for June 16th but it recently got moved up a week. This is not ideal for me because I am supposed to be on the road for 5 days but it's gonna have to do. 

Yesterday I got out for a decent ride. I rode up to Rampart Reservoir and did 2 laps on the trail and then dropped back into town. It was a 40 mile ride. The BFL is actually going to have 2 loop options (88 and 109 I think). We will start in Salida and take the first few miles of the VT before turning on the Colorado Trail and heading towards Cottonwood Pass and then dropping down into Buena Vista. From there I'm pretty sure we start in on some fire roads that eventually will hook up with the Tour Divide route and drop us back into Salida for the finish.  

Just because Heather loves the self-portrait. 

Little bit of fire road connector to the reservoir loop.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Things are getting crazy with the school year coming to a close. We're less than 20 days until the end. This time of the year is all about keeping the peace and maintaining order/sanity. I've been doing some decent riding the last few weeks mostly on the trails right here in town and just a short ride from the garage. One of my favorite rides is climbing up Lovell Gulch Trail to a fire road above town (but I love the paved climb heading to the same spot). Then I take the main fire road south which passes quite a few trails (still find new ones after 7 years of living here). I then bomb down singletrack that puts me right behind school and then it's all downstream back to the garage. That ride has the best views of Pikes Peak right before the drop back to town. 

This is one of the trails in Lovell Gulch that climbs up to Rampart. I've been riding 32x20 with my bedroll on the front of the bike right now and it feels fine. I love the thought of doing something like the Colorado Trail on one gear but I gotta figure out if that's gonna be feasible. I have a few rides planned in the near future that will start to give me a good idea.

I'm going to work with Lynda Wallenfells again this year for coaching services but I'm going to be much more willing to deviate from the plan and have some fun. That's about it really. Hope everyone is well.