Monday, January 31, 2011

Simplify...

simplicity
The heart and soul of riding a bike in the woods, to me, is the quiet solitude and a natural focus on what blissful fun might be around the next corner or over the next rock. The more 'pieces & parts' you have on your bike, the more shit there is to break, make noise, fail or just plain get in the way of enjoying the wind on your face. "Why do you single speed?" some folks ask me - This is one of my many answers.

mIX-mATch...

My 3 year old son dubbed the term Mix-Match. This goes for just about anything that does not match, or is a combination of things. I think my bikes are all built with some kind of mix-match, parts-bin technique involved. Other examples of mix-match might be; two different colored sock's, mixing foods such as yogurt and broccoli during family dinner, two different shoes, etc. The list is endless.

Trail conditions are at a high-low (that's mix-match for the ultimate in suck-ass). All of our snow has been melting and the trails are a soupy mess. Even roads and paved trails are at a minimum wet; mostly stomped-out ice and piles of rotten snow. Riding right now is just a sucky, mix-match-of-a-mess.

O.K., now lets change momentum here and talk cup-half-full. I did get in a ride on both weekend days. I did ride my bike on the road, however I made sure I had fun, hit every 'feature' I could find and tried not to go fast...just fun. I took out the new 29er and got her dialed-in as far as fit and comfort. I actually like it. With a suspension fork I might actually make it my main trail steed; it's that good. The route I took around my hood was a good one with a crap-load of hills and good farm-land scenery. The big wheels really do keep on rolling and both rides were a blessing. On the Sunday ride was I was accompanied by my cuz, Brad. We had a good time in the sub-freezing temps, frozen faces and all...

Moving on, mix-matching away...enter Sunday dinner: This is a mix-match pepperoni/BBQ Chicken Pesto pizza, complete with a divider crust; homemade by my wife and son. Freakin' Kick-A$$!
Here is a little tech-tip for you. I have been thinking that I don't really need a seat bag just to hold my extra tube. I mean really, why the extra 'thingy'? My pals have all been using electrical tape and just lashing a spare tube to their bike at random locations. I'm not so down on the tape thing, so I came up with this great use for those old, rarely used, bottom of the parts-bin toe-clip straps. As you see in the photo, I just strapped my spare tube to the bottom of my seat and wha-la, still have my tube; don't need a seat-bag. Done deal.


I also managed to take advantage of my Kuat Trail Doc for a quick pre-ride brake adjustment. This little gizmo is a pretty dang handy bike stand if you are away from home and need to get trail-ready. Those fellas at Kuat sure do have some creative ideas and do a fab job getting them put into production. Speaking of Kuat...stay tuned for my product review on the Kuat NV later this week. You don't want to die wondering what you should have been using for bicycle transport...and the best part, your bike will love you for it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Smack Down...

Mug Shot
Yes, Slaughter Pen Hollow happened. I had just enough daylight after a days work in Fayetteville to check out the place. I could not believe how close to the highway these trails are (maybe too close) or I'd have hit them many months ago. Anyone traveling 71 hwy through the N.W. corner of Arkansassy best make a pit stop, and have some fun.

Did I mention 44 degrees, sunny and NO F-ing SNOW!!!!! A welcome change from the arctic-like conditions we've had for weeks here in KC.
My SS and one of the many fine features built at the park

Birds eye view of SPH Phase 1 trails, and my ride via GPS
I had limited time, so I was only able to check out phase 1 of the trail system. Situated on a hillside above a pedestrian trail, the access was as easy as it gets. All trails were marked, and even some obstacles were labeled with 'caution' signs. Kinda weird, kinda nice...dunno. I first climbed up and left to ride all of  Medusa, which then dropped me onto the middle line called Tatamagouche, then back across a lower trail called Armadillos Last Stand, and finally back through the terrain park and onto Seed Tick Shuffle. The trails were perfect for Single Speed sending. There were also some well built ladder bridges and skinnies all over the park. I tried my first dab at video taping myself riding one of said ladder bridges, and was reminded that the first time you video tape yourself doing something like riding a bike, you are bound to do something dumb; I was no exception. I proceeded to crash in the most retarded way (showboating like G-Wiz would do). I'll go ahead and apologize for the 10 seconds of nothing mid-vid, but I don't have video editing software...yet.
video

29er's Maiden voyage
The guys at Phat Tire Bike Shop were awesome and gave me great trail and dinner beta. Pretty classy shop they have too. Check'em out next time you're in Bentonville.

The Shop...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

It ain't long, but it's Skinny...

Winter is upon us here in the Midwest. I have been cooped-up in my house just dying to ride, but after last weeks meager attempt at riding in this crap*, I just feel the depression setting in. I guess it's a good thing that i am building a new bike. At least that is something to look forward too (and the fact that i am actually having trouble getting the 29er build dialed-in, so I'm constantly thinking about it).

So to pass on the gloom and the general dire state of blah that has become trail riding in Kansas City this winter, below you will find a few too many photos of my snow covered, backyard skills trail. Enjoy...








* Way too damn much snow to have fun on anything that's not a snowboard, inner tube or buck-naked...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One Step Closer (29er project)...

 So with winter comes my 29er project. Mostly a parts-bin style build, meaning I am not spending much $ on this rig and am pretty much grabbing the parts on a free or beer-trade basis (more-less). I'm pretty psyched to get her out for a test-ride as soon as I figure a few more things out. I'm having a little trouble with some second (or third) hand BB7 mechanical disc brakes giving me a headaches due to the fact that they are in less than desirable condition...and I might be missing a few small pieces...

So moving on to the build list;
-Kona Unit 29 Steel Frame
-Surly Karate Minkey Fork
-Bontrager Race Lite Wheel set w/ SS spacer kit
-Geax Segaurro 2.2 Rubber
-Race Face Turbine Forged Cranks, 175
-Salsa 34t ring
-Surly 19t cog
-Sram 8-speed chain
-Crank Bros Candy Pedals
-Hope Headset
-Thomson Stem and Post
-Bontrager Big Sweep Bars
-Yeti Lock-on Grips
-Real 'old school' Levers
-WTB Slim Line Saddle
-Salsa Clamp
-Avid BB7 Mechanical Disc Brakes
-Salsa QR Skewers
-Spot Bash-ring



I think that once I can save my allowance and can buy a carbon fork and get the tires set-up tubeless, this will be a fun and mean little bitch!

Educated Guess...


Burrrrrr! No ride for me today, I'm assuming the trails are going to really suck. It's nutty outside, but the hot tub was amazing last night as all of this snow was falling. Cold weather makes for some good drinking, and Drew's idea of some coffee with Bailey's sounds perfect...and I know there's some in the cabinet...amen!

Maybe I'll get off my arse and get that 29er project finished?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tight Pants...

< Burnsey     -     Timbo >

My pal Timbo found this shot of us as we lined-up at the start for the 2009 Leadville Trail 100. I think this is about one of three times I've been seen in tight pants, so feast your eyes and proceed to vomit in the nearest trash can.

Snow Plowed...

The excitement of a half day spent riding bikes at Landahl was overwhelming. The recent 6" of snow had dampened my riding schedule, and I am not one who rides a stationary bike indoors, no sir. Sunday, it was going to be awesome!
Gunnar; Fixed w/ Mary Bars
I figured the Fixie was the bike to take, as the snow capabilities are greatly improved when you are so in tune with your bike. Of course the Gunnar was in a hundred pieces and I had to do a quick 15 minute build (at 6:30 a.m.) to get her ride-ready. This is to be my first experience trying 'Mary Bars' and I think the ergonomics of these sucka's is going to be a good thing.

A small devoted crew of Ethos freaks met at the Argo trail head at 8:00 sharp with a temperature of 18 degrees. It was a bit nippy to say the least. We suited up for what was planned to be four hours of riding the crap out of Landahls excellent trail system.
Burnsey, G-Wiz, Wilson & The Manimal
About 20 feet into the ride the realization that this was going to really suck-ass set in hard. The snow was deep, there were no other bicycles tracks but there were a ton of footprints from hikers. When you mix dry fluffy snow with hard packed, frozen footprints, you get this strange surface that is much like dried mud after horses had been through, plus this slicker-than-snot snow aspect. It was mega-slow going, and you sure the hell had to earn every peddle stroke.

I can't say that I successfully rode any obstacle, any hill or anything else. I was dab-nastic. I was pitiful; a real looser. I have not had to 'dig this deep' since Leadville. Holy crap the ride was exhausting. We sent approx. 6 miles of trail in...drum roll please...2 hours. Now that's flying.

The good; I got to ride with my best pals, had a fun time hanging out in the woods, and those Mary Bars were sweet!

Dear baby Jesus, make the snow melt and the trails dry. Amen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Strike Three...

There are (were) three mountain bike endurance races that I had my heart set on for 2011; I'm not getting into any of them. Bummer of a day, among other things, just a crap week.

1) Ouachita Challenge: Totally missed registration which filled up the first day.

2) Leadville trail 100: Not gonna happen. Conflicting dates with family.

3) Syllamo's Revenge: Missed registration by seconds...all 300 spots were filled in 7:45 minutes. Here is an email I got from Bikereg.com regarding Syllamo's Revenge;

Sean,
We noticed that you attempted to register for the Syllamo’s Revenge MTB Challenge after the registration had filled. This happened because you started the registration process before it closed and attempted to finish the registration process after it had closed. We apologize for the inconvenience. However, there is another Syllamo’s Revenge event taking place that is 125 km long and is currently still open. You can register for that here:
Furthermore, if you want to contact the promoter to see if there will be a wait list, you can do that here:
Let us know if there is anything else we can do for you.

-Evan Huff-
Customer Relation Specialist

So if I can come up with $125 bones I'd enter the 125k for sure...but that's a lot of dough, and with my luck registration will end with spots filled while I'm "in the process".

So it goes. Just one of those months I guess. So now what? Should I throw in the towel on racing this season and just joyride, climb rocks and focus on fitness. Maybe just curl up on the couch and drink myself into oblivion? I don't know...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SMP Red, better by the day...

Here's a video clip of the Red trail in it's current state at SMP; my local trail. It's your typical helmet cam vid, but it gives you an idea of the small rocks that SMP distracts you with as you ride, and also, from time 7:17 onward in the video is the 'just opened' new entrance to the Red trail. A great addition made possible by a handful of guys; mainly Sean, Joe, Brian and Pete. Mad props to you fellas for the hard work. I promise I'll make it out for a workday soon, it's just gonna be harder with (2) kids now (I used to do trail work with one kid strapped to me in the baby sling). Good stuff at SMP, it was nice to see this trail in the daylight too, since my usual travels as of late have been night rides post kids to bed.

Enjoy the video, and thanks to Brad for shooting it. Also, You jerks better let me know next time your riding in my backyard so I can join you...


'Red's Rock Garden' (Still Image from the Video)


Monday, January 10, 2011

A Real Tool...

I'm going to apologize first to Marco, Tyler and Sean, as you are stand-up guys, but that manager fella at the Trek Store KC is a Tool. He has always rubbed me wrong and after my experience with his inability to provide quality customer service over the weekend, I will NEVER step foot in that shop again. I will spray about my negative experience to the ends of the earth, to all of my riding pals, "refrain from entering that shop". 

Dude, YOU are lame. Don't lie to my face, don't make excuses and please, let someone competent have your job...you'd get more business.

Moving on... BikeSource seems to be the ONLY shop I can rely on here in Johnson County, period. I'll be paying you a visit today my friends!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Four Years Later...

I've lived at my current local here in the KC area for 4 years now and I have finally dialed-in some sweet single track action to and from my driveway. I'm not talking some lame trail through the woods that the local kids use to get back and forth to a tree fort, I'm talking some fun trail in the woods, with the feeling of being out of the city. 

Wednesday I had the pleasure of riding with the Manimal and Pyro, checking out the above mentioned trails. I have to say that I did not have the loop entirely dialed-in because until yesterday, I had only been out to explore said loop in the dark. We had a great time and did about 14 miles in a two hour time span. Temps were great and we finished off the ride with a good a$$ kicking on the Ogg Hill.

Yesterday was my first ride in over a month that I did not have a light on my helmet. It was sooooooo nice to be able to check out the view and actually see the landscape of my ride. I was also able to get (what I will from now on out refer to as my 'Home Loop') totally dialed in. A great ride that is 96.5% single track from my driveway. I love this! Who wants to join me for a ride soon?

I was also able to do some work on the back yard skills trail, and that sucker is looking better than ever! I added a few sally lines to increase the flow for longer ride times. I think most folks could actually do a lap w/o dabbing now, maybe...

I've been using the Garmin on my latest rides and find it pretty freakin cool that I can see my ride in Google Maps. I'll start posting those soon. Fun stuff!

On the whole 29er thing...I think I am bailing again. It's either the Gunner Fixie or the 29er. One has to go, one I can keep. Any vote before I pull the plug?

And back to the Home Loop...I'll be sending out an invite to hit it up one evening this week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Project 29er, Take Four...

Yes, I've gone and done it once again. I've started another 29er project. This time I hope to stick with it and give it more of a go than before. Why am I doing this you might ask? Well, I am telling myself that this is going to be my do everything bike; commuting to work to save gas money and the environment, racing CX monster style, running to the liquor store, cruising for babes, backyard skills course playing, wheelie poppin', skid-markin' and whatever else my super-sweet-bad-ass 26" SS is not reserved for. Don't get me wrong...I'm not crossing over yet. I will still be seen blazing trails on my 26" bike. I will still be racing my 26" bike. This new project is going to be for all of those less glam moments when you just need to get from point A to point Z with style.
I am still not totally sure where I am going with this build. I am thinking COMFORT and a mix-match of goods from my parts bin. So far however it is color coordinated almost too well and looking almost like I meant to do so. I am trying out a Mary Bar, which I think will suck on technical terrain but be sweet ergonomically on my trashed elbows. I am still about 50/50 on single speed vs. fixed, and that will all depend on what wheel set I can pick up on-the-cheap. I'm also still looking for a carbon fork (the one in the photo does not exactly belong to me...yet). Otherwise I am pretty psyched with the components; Kona Unit Steel Frame with sliding drop-outs, King Headset, Thomson stem and post, Race Face Turbine Cranks, WTB saddle and Avid BB7's. I think its a good start and I hope someone out there is going to magically have a wheel set collecting dust that they can send my way for mere pennies. Then I can get this shit-circus on the trail. More to come as progress is made.

The Vertical World...

No ride for me this weekend. Instead I went back to my roots and had a stellar half day of rock climbing at the best crag in the world with my bro Jeremy. My outside thermometer read 15 degrees when I left my house in the morning and I was keeping fingers crossed that we would not freeze our balls off and the crag. Our destination was a little place we refer to as Warsaw, on Truman Lake; a limestone bluff overlooking the lake that ranges in height from 60-90 feet.
Jer leading Batstroke
We arrived, hiked in and found it to be quite pleasant at the base of the bluff. The rock faces south and with the sun reflecting off the water, it felt like it was in the low 40's (but in reality it was like 18).
The View
We had a blast, Jeremy took the sharp end since I have been on the couch for way too long. We did four different climbs and I enjoyed the heck outta my day. Thanks Jer!

Rain from Below...

Garet and I had a kick a$$ ride at SMP on Wednesday. The weather was freaky-weird and most of our group bailed on the ride. I convinced him to make the drive up from the boonies and go for it. All day it had been foggy and unseasonably warm. The warm temps caused a strange moisture to rise from the ground, though it never actually rained; it was like it rained without raining. We were socked-in by clouds at ground level, weirdness.

The trails systems in KC have been so dusty and dry this winter that I had a suspicion that a little moisture might be a good thing, so we went. We hit the trails and the dirt was actually still dusty, however, the rocks were all wet. It was weird to see these dark colored wet stones on a perfectly dry bed of dirt. The rocks were slicker than snot to say the least, and it was almost like riding on snow.

My ride was crap. I think I bonked as soon as I left the driveway. Something was wrong and I could not for the life of me keep on top of my gear. I was a poor excuse for a riding partner. Not only that, but as we were starting our second lap, my light died (did I mention this was a night ride?). I have never had my light go out before during a ride. Bummer! Garet went ahead and finish the lap and I found the nearest chicken exit and headed for the road to rendezvous with him and the paved trail heading back to my casa. I was not really unhappy since I was riding like a lame a$$ anyway and this was my mandatory excuse to be done riding.

We were able to do another half mile or so of single track in the dark, me following him with only his single light glowing in the distance. Lesson learned, bring a back-up light source, even if it is only a lighter...and don't be a pussy.