Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Star Spangled Bangers...

Yep, you guessed it. The 24 hour team consisting of Cameron Chambers, Craig Stoeltzing, Travis Donn and Jason Gaikowski kicked some major a$$ at the Granny Gear Productions 24 hours of 9-mile this past weekend in Wisconsin. The local Kansas City a$$ kickers brought home the bacon with not only a big win in the expert men's class, but five of the top twenty lap times where reeled in by Cameron and Craig with Cam bringing in top honors with the fastest overall lap.
I'm pretty psyched that new-to-the-team Travis Donn was able to pull in some great times in his first ever 24 hour race (heck, this is his first racing season ever, so take that home to your momma!). Travis has come a long way under the wing of Cam over the summer months. Way to go bro!
I hope these guys come home to KC feeling loud and proud. If I was more than a man in the shadows, I'd have the mayor and a full parade awaiting the return of our boys with a key to the city and a nice oversized ice cream cake topped with hookers and bourbon.
***Congrats fellas!
Cam's Race report can be found HERE

A Few Things From The Bike Shop...

Click on the title above for one of many "Best of Craigslist" classics...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Flint Hills Death Ride...

It was a fine evening to make the 2+ hour drive to a little town called Madison in Kansas to do the Flint Hills Death Ride. Timbo, Garret and I packed the Subaru and headed out for a night of sleeping under the stars and what would hopefully be a fun time crushing the 80+ miles of "dirt" that we had been reading about. We arrived in Madison around 10 p.m. Saturday night, found the city park and set up our camp/bivy. Temps were good for sleeping outside, so Timbo and I enjoyed the stars while Garret hunkered down in his tent. Between the dogs barking, streetlights, and the idiot local who thought it cool to work on his hot-rod (revving the engine for hours), we caught at least a few hours of sleep.

We awoke to perfect temps. Timbo whipped-up a batch of Swedish oats for breakfast as we all got ready for the race. 7:30 was race time, and we headed over for the 'pre-race meeting'. The mass of riders were there listening to an older fella who described himself as a 6th grade school teacher announcing the race business. This took all of two minutes and without hesitation we heard a 'GO'! All of the riders kind of looked at each other like 'Is that the start? Do we go now? WTF?'. So we all just started the ride.

Now to revert to my pre-race dilemma: My bike! As you all know I ride single speed bikes, that is all I own and all I ride. Prior to a race, I change the gearing to accommodate that particular race. I could not for the life of me, on either of my two race bikes, get things changed and in order. My 29er has a stripped-out bolt, which made it so I could not change my gearing and my 26er has no cranks, though I do have a pair for it, I could not get the bottom bracket out to install the new one. This is all last minute of course before we left town for the race, and i was totally pissed. It was either skip the race or ride my 29er WAY under-geared. Riding under-geared basically meant I'd be spinning my brains out for 80+ miles, going slow at best, and just trying to make the cutoffs and finish before it got dark. BUMMER! I'm the type pf guy who likes to just do with what you have, so i went for it.

Garret decided that he'd just ride with me at a snails pace for the entire event, he was in no hurry or mindset to win anything, just have a killer time riding. We have a great time just riding so it was all good. I'd look over at him at times and say ' So this is kinda like taking a new girlfriend out for a ride, eh?'. He'd chuckle and just keep me pushing it. I was lucky to keep a 12 mph pace, and that was seriously making me spin like a gerbil on cocaine! Timbo had left us early in the race to see what he could do as far as getting it done in good time.

Photo: Garret doing the self photo thang w/ me in the background...stole this from his blog.

As it turns out, the 80+ miles of 'dirt' was nothing more than a gravel road ride. I can't believe I paid the big bucks for this so called race when in reality it was a group ride in the heat and dust of the Kansas plains. The finish line was non existent and a total let down; no cameras, no cheers, no cowbells...nothing. I had to ask around town just to see where I was to go and if I needed to check in somewhere. Weird and a total let-down after riding all that way successfully. They talk this ride up like its the most hardcore thing to do, and that only like 50-60% of the fittest riders even finish. Well, I am going to have to call bullshit on that one...

We were all all successful 'finishers' and completed the ride around three o'clock, Garret and Tmbo just before and me just after. Not a ride I'd recommend to a mountain biker...maybe to a roadie I don't like. I'm almost positive that I got first place in the single speed class (if they only had classes...I'm 99.9% sure I was the only guy out there with one gear). I'd give this race a 1 out of 5, and that's just because all of the volunteers at the SAG stations were super nice and helpful!

Two weekends till my birthday...then the following weekend is the Leadville 100. Good times ahead!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Time for some PAIN...

It's been a great week for riding. I got out a few times but the best ride was at Swope Wednesday night. I arrived about an hour late, missing my opportunity to be graced with the presence of one SCotter and ended up doing two laps alone before running into Shoffner and Steele. We then cranked out a lap together before darkness came. After a quick rehydration session at the cars, these boys dawned there light rigs and I opted for some Jedi training by riding another lap w/o lights. It was pretty sweet to ride such a challenging trail in the moonless night. I had to Fred Flinstone it through a few of the more technical sections, but for the most part I was able to crank as fast as a high-centered turtle before a rain storm. Needless to say it was a grand time, I was spent but ready for the weekends festivities...
Sunday is the Flint Hills Death Ride. Am I a complete idiot for doing this 70-80 mile dirt ride in possible 90 degree temps and 90% humidity on a single speed? Maybe so, but it's all I have and I am going for it! I figure this will be either a great training race for the Leadville 100, which is coming up in a few weeks, or my doom. I will keep you posted on my success or you can read my obituary in the Monday paper...
Happy trails...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rocky Mountain High...

PTD…Post Trip Depression. What a horrible sickness to have, and I have come down with an awful case of PTD since arriving back to the flatlands from a ten day hiatus in Colorado. This was summer vacation at its finest. My wife Kelly, son Seamus and I headed to Denver for the 4th of July festivities. We hooked-up with my old pal James and his sister. We started things off with a bike ride up one of the canyons near Golden and then headed back to town for some BBQ and beers at Sarah’s casa. Good times!
Next we drove to a sweet mountain home just south of Buena Vista, where we ate FAT for several days. We were here to celebrate our friend Kevin’s B-day, so some activities were planned.
Monday Kelly went with the group rafting down the Browns Canyon section of the Arkansas River while Seamus and I did an acclimatization ride on gravel. Pulling a 30lb kid around in a trailer on gravel at altitude on a single speed 29er is a good work-out…to say the least.
Tuesday I headed out to Mt. Yale (14,202) with Kevin and Bob for a summit attempt. The weather was more than perfect and we made the hike/scramble up to the summit via the East Ridge without issues. The 360 degree view from the summit was awe inspiring, even with the crazy winds coming at us from the south. We hiked down the tourist route which we had dubbed ‘Denny Crane’ (because the route started at a trailhead with a similar sounding name). This route was in no way comparable to our climb up the East Ridge. We were glad to have made the right choice in not hiking up ‘Denny Crane’, which would have just made for a lame hike on loose and overused trail. All in all we made the summit, car-to-car in 9 hours. Not bad for 3 old guys from the Midwest!
After saying our goodbye’s to the Buena Vista crowd, we headed over to Crested Butte for the bulk of our trip. We love this town! No corporate anything, lots of bikes, peaks, wilderness and streams. We set camp in a shaded pine grove next to the Slate River, just 6 miles from town. Jesse & Bit, James, Amy, Kristen, Andre & Jeannie, and Erin all came out to enjoy the mountains and camped nearby. We would all casually awaken every morning, have some coffee and breakfast and plan the day.
Day one in CB the guys rode Snodgrass (out and back) while the ladies hiked the same trail one-way. This is a great intro to CB trails and was a nice warm-up to the rest of the trip. Snodgrass starts at a horse ranch with a steep and long climb, then begins flowing and traversing around a smaller peak to end at Washington Gulch Road. Not the longest ride, but good times none the less.
Day two Kelly, Seamus and I hooked up with Jesse and bit for a hike up Oh Be Joyful. This was a gorgeous hike up a mountain valley full of wild flowers and cascading streams. We hiked as far as we could before nap time, ate a good lunch and returned to the cars and on to camp. We ended the day with dinner at a kick-a$$ place in town called ‘the Secret Stash’. Absolutely the best food in Crested Butte!!!
Day three was a big day for riding. Kelly and Jeannie were dropped off at the Painter Boy Mine near the top of Washington Gulch road. They cruised down and into town in no-time and we all met for some food at the Brick Oven Pizzeria. It was cool to watch the ladies rocket down the gravel having a great time. Running the support vehicle, I got to stop and change a flat about midway down the mountain for Jeannie, in full pit-crew style and speed, and they were once again on their way.
After Lunch and naps it was the guys turn. Andre, Jesse, James and I all packed up our gear and headed to the low end of trail 401. Our plan was to ride the 7-10 miles up Gothic Road to Schoffeld (sp) pass, then ride down the 401. With looming clouds and sprinkles falling, we opted to get straight on the single track and ended up riding both up and down the 401, skipping most of the boring gravel grind. On the way back it was getting dark so we did hit the gravel road a few miles early, which required us to cross a river. This thing was cranking and was up to our knees as we thrashed through on our steeds. Now we were not only tired but wet and cold. We made short work of the remaining few miles and got back to the cars just before more rain started down. The ‘ups’ in Crested Butte are long, endurance style rides and the ‘downs’ are fast and flowing. Totally different style from what we have here in the Midwest! Neither Jesse nor I geared down our single speeds for this trip; however, I will be doing so for the Leadville 100 next month!
Day four was a group hike up trail 403. This was a fun time and an impromptu rest-day…at least for us. We all hiked up the trail to a point at which we could see both the Gothic valley and Washington Gulch. We ate some food and hiked back down to the cars, then headed into town for some window shopping and relaxing. Andre and Jeannie got a nice hotel room for the night and we were all given the opportunity to take a much needed shower, ahhh.
The next morning we casually broke camp and headed our separate ways. The vacation was a success and we all had a great time! Thanks to all of my close friends who were a part of the adventure!
I’ll post-up some photos and maybe even a few video clips of our trip very soon!

John Bachar 1957-2009

In memory of a true legend. A man I looked up too as a climber, one who found a home in the vertical world, experiencing the ultimate freedom and peace.
Tyrus Bachar FundraiserLimited Edition Photographs
By Phil Bard HERE

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Generic Update...

I have been far from motivated to write anything of substance lately. The mighty heat-wave and humidity had dampened my ability to move all of my fingers in a matter to type and make any sense of anything. I've been back in the office working since Kelly is off for the summer (oh how I wish I taught school for a living). Between house projects, riding, raising an awesome son, building my new bike, having BBQ's, going to the pool, getting cars repaired (doing some of that on my own); time is a thing I have little to spare for writing. I am also a fan of having some photos to go along with blog entries (that is all I really look at anyway...the photos) so with this post I've added the following of my 'dream machine'.
To recap my cycling history since my last post:
Had a very fun and successful BBQ/Skills trail extravaganza with a ton of my closest bros and chickas over for a long night of shenanigans. We ate tons of great food, drank some fine beverages and played on the backyard bike trail, what a freaking blast! Luke and his wife came up from Springfield to grace us with their presence and meet the KC Posse. Luke is owner of Kuat, who makes the most bad-A$$ bike racks (described in a review on an earlier post). He hooked me up with a team Jersey, which I have proudly been sporting on every local ride I've done since receiving it, mostly because it makes me look sooooo good.
I've made it out for a few great rides at the local hard-man training grounds referred to as 'SWOPE", totally kick-your-a$$ trails that are getting better by the day. Hours of spinning and grinding on those trails with Dave, Travis, Travis, Jesse, Cameron, Scott and the likes of a few others whom I won't mention in case the authorities are reading.
I've also commuted a few days, when temps allow, to work and home - often hitting the Shawnee Mission Park Trails on the way home for some additional mileage and my favorite; dirt.
Taco Tuesday this week was Travis, Garet, Jesse and I shredding 3.5 hours of Landahl. That place is SO freaking perfect for some long rides on perfect single track with every type of condition desired. We had a blast riding the just of the place, including the 'numbers', which have a few great re-routes since I'd been put there last. This was 'THE' best ride of the year....so far!
Tomorrow I leave with my wife and son for 10 days in Colorful Colorado. We plan to do some climbing, hiking, biking, rafting, peak-bagging and of course; relaxing. I will have a full trip report loaded with photos upon our return, so stay tuned!
Long live long rides!