Monday, April 30, 2012

Shoots & Ladders...

My good pal TB (Tall Bitch) has joined the ranks of the few and proud - Backyard Skills Connoisseur! I don't know what he's calling his network of ladder bridges and single track bliss, but I'm thinking 'Circle Of Death' or 'Cris-Cross-Crash' might be appropriate. Just one more great reason to hang out at TB's crib sometime in the near future, toss back a couple cold ones and recover in the hot tub...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A BuRP in the Night...

 As the Taco Tuesday group was returning from their evening ride, the Pirate crew was dawning lights to take over the night shift. Blue River Parkway Trails are some of the oldest in KC, and house some of the best technical rock terrain one could ask for. We had a solid crew of about 6-7 fellas cruising the trails, dodging raccoons, crashing on loose gravel and bonking late in the ride. It was a nice change of pace to take the P-ride to a different venue, to have a bar at our disposal post ride and to get hooked up with swag from Mr. Taddihogg himself whilst swilling malty beverages. 
We actually kept the ride time down to 2 hours +/- and still got in plenty of great riding, I believe we hit everything south of Martha Truman at least once. MaxiThad redeemed himself of previous mishaps by cleaning nearly every rock garden and obstacle in his path, including but not limited to all of Highline and Wagon. It was an impressive display of skill not to be topped by G-Wiz's early roll-call to the bar, where he made sweet love to numerous fifty-cent beers.

video
Random Video of Cameron Chambers hitting one of the many drops in Swope Park during one of our 2011 rides.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Swopersize...

It's been busy-time at the Pirates lair. I could spend hours writing about everything I did over the past four days; planting trees, mowing, camping with my kids, cleaning house, building a bed, hardware store runs, replacing my sons stolen scooter (yeah, if I find you, I'll kill you), riding trail and building trail. But, You'd be bored with all of that daily life stuff, so lets get down to it.
Saturday was perfectly rad. The weather was bomber and every trail system known to man was dry as a bone - almost too dry as I sit here with dust encrusted boogers creating discomfort in my nose. Most of my good riding pals were meeting early at Landahl, one of the finer and more lengthy trail systems near KC. I of course had kid duty and would not get out to ride until mid afternoon, when I'd meet The Manimal, CORE-bin (a.k.a. Handleballs) and Billy-MANilly at Swope for a few laps of dirt. It's been a while since I've been out to Swope and I was pleasantly surprised to see the sweet new re-route on the Phase Two section of Woodchuck Run, as well as a rock armored section where a large boulder had collapsed. These two new lengths of trail helped with flow and quality. Thanks to whomever took the time to make it happen.
The ride was good an uneventful. My legs felt like ass. I think it was due to the six hours riding last Sunday and 3 hours Tuesday that put me in the hurt locker. Right from the start I was feeling like I was out of fuel and never really got my legs. Fortunately the fellas had been riding all morning and were tired so we all were on the same page and just cruised around having a good time. I do have to admit that I'm noticing faint traits of familiarity with how the trails at Swope are starting to erode and do the same baby-head rebirth that happened a few years back at SMP. During this process the once smooth tread erodes down and hidden rocks below the surface become exposed creating a bumpy ride, and a less obvious line. This must be one of many reasons The Trail Asshole has gone to the dark side of full suspension gadgetry. I was getting beat-up to say the least.
Speaking of SMP. Sunday I went out to do trail-work with the SMP crew whom are hopeful in opening up the next phase of the Red trail by Memorial Day.  My guess is the trail will be open for sure. The amount of work completed Sunday was much and the amount of flagged trail left to cut-in is little. This new section of Red is the best yet; long flowing bench-cut sections in deep forested valleys with mixed terrain. Lots of technical and fast sections with the feeling of solitude make for an amazing trail experience. Considering how much time I spend riding out here I should be putting in more hours building trail. I'm selfish with my time I suppose, but I tell myself the minimal amount of free time I get should be used riding. After building trail over the weekend I felt as much joy in said labor as I do spinning pedals. The Red trail is amazing, and I'll be back building as much as I can over the next few weeks. I wish I'd taken some photos. You are going to have your mind blown...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

V-Slot...

I just can't seem to wrap my head around this whole issue of over-riding. Yes, there is a slight issue that generally occurs during the weekly night ride; the ride goes way longer than planned. The 1-2 hour ride typically has been 2-3 hours. The crew that has been showing up to ride dirt seems gun-ho on hitting as much trail as possible. Only after what seems to be an uphill forever battle, legs swollen to their max and many non-cat-like tumbles off trail, does the crew start to show signs of needing to rest and rehydrate with a malty beverage. Last night was no different.
Billy, The Silent Killer, The Manimal, Steve-o, Pyro, G-Wiz, Taylor, CORE-bin, MaxiThad, Cliff and I all set out to ride some dry trail. As per the new standard, all contestants on the price is life must make numerous attempts on the backyard skills trail. I believe this is the new standard because those who show up on time to ride get bent about having to wait on those who show up late, or those slacking off. Whatever the reason, the sight of bikes and body's flying is always welcome and an exciting show, and a good laugh is usually had.
The actual trail ride started off on typical terrain, though the trail was a bit horsed-out at spots which makes for a really rough ride. Other sections of our adventurous line would take us through jungle-like terrain and ghost-town gravel. With a few newb's aboard we popped their V-Slot cherries and rode The Darkness loop. Someday, someone is going to f*&k [that] obstacle up and go for the plunge-dive into oblivion. I hope I'm not around when it happens. It'd be a huge tumble.
As a first for the night ride we did hit about 20 minutes of asphalt to link-up the planned route of rogue and difficult trail. The crew was blindfolded, sworn to secrecy as we rolled out to ride what was The Pirate cXc Race No. 2, The Howling. A fair bit of the single track sections had been over run by new vegetation, but that didn't stop us from riding the never ending and brutal climbs this course is known for. When we arrived at The Wall, none could ride, all could barely hike the hill; it's that steep. The technical creek crossing was in great shape and many were able to ride the spine of rock and blown-out cement that lead to the other side. We sent varied yet many short and steep ascents which eventually led us back out to more asphalt and finally to the Autobahn - scene of last weeks near death experience.
At this point we'd put in 16+ miles and were down for more pain. The Autobahn was blazed at ludicrous-speed, then it was off to finish our ride on the Mountain Bike Trails of SMP - where we cruised various sections of Orange, Violet and Red trails. By this time we'd been in the saddle for close to 3 hours and decided to take Wrangler Ridge back to the Pirates Lair for cold beverages and a few minutes of relaxation.
Once again another successful night of riding great single track (and some treacherous bush-whacky trail). Thanks again fellas for coming out to ride, I had a great time - even with my OTB action during the last ten minutes of the ride. I had to do it, you can't have a night ride without carnage! Hope to see you all next week. Same time, different location (BuRP) for more fun. Cheers!



Monday, April 16, 2012

Bonebender 2012...

It was a roller coaster of a weekend here in KC. Saturday came around with skies veiled in angry clouds. Reports of damaging storms, tornadoes, giant hail and/or seemingly the Apocalypse was looming at the tip of every tongue. Why is this happening; there’s a Mountain Bike Endurance Race tomorrow?!?!
CORE-bin and I cruised out to Clinton Lake State Park to check on-sight conditions for the 2012 Bonebender 3/6 Mountain Bike Odyssey on what was hearsay to be the last opportunity to register. For some odd reason I tend to be a race-day-registrant, but in this scenario there was no race-day option. COR-bin and I were there to pre-ride the course and get hard evidence as to IF we’d be down for racing if shit did hit the fan. The course was marked well and full of short powerful climbs, flowy single track and rock gardens galore. The trail was 99.9% dry and great for racing. Assuming we'd dodge the forecasted overnight rain, we planned to race. If we did get dumped on; it was going to be up in the air as to whether or not we’d be willing to endure the epic that would ensue. Slick rocks and tree routes are deadly when riding at race speed, and we knew poor conditions would make for a day of pure hell. I for one was not really interested in crashing my brains out in the mud considering the flying circus that occurred just nights ago. Needless to say I was feeling a bit sandy in the giner…
Sunday morning did in fact arrive and Dirt Church was on my mind. Peering out the window in a daze of barely awakedness, I see hints of dryness and decide I'm racing. COR-bin, being less core than he’s generally known for, bails out of the adventure leaving Ranski and I all alone for the forty-five minute drive to the race - during which the iPhone radar gadgetry was overused yet pleasantly admired. A storm was in the area, but the *465 mph winds would surely dry the tread long before we could drink a pre-race six-pack of carbohydrate goodness.
We arrive casually late and get all geared-up for action; Ranski with his photography gear that far surpassed the expense of my bike by double and me in my team apparel. I’m not sure how many more times I’m going to be able to convince myself to dawn said wardrobe. It’s so gay in a bad way, and highly unnecessary.
There are 275 plus folks registered. The crowd was large and we lined-up for the neutral start consisting of a loop on Bunker Hill and way too much pavement. Riding one gear I knew from the start that I would end up late into the single track behind a handful of geared roadie-types who could not ride over a wet rock if they’re taint depended on it. I was correct, as soon as we hit the black line of earth carving through the green forest, bikes and riders were strewn about the place like rag dolls. It was a nightmarish slow-train of jerks not willing to ride, not able to ride or just ignorant that a few of us were interested in actually riding our bike. I was yelling for people walking bikes to move off the tread as ‘Rider Back’ was coming through. Don’t you agree that if there is a person walking their bike they should GTF outta the way for someone riding? I sure the hell do. Passing during a race is somewhat awesome. It gives you a feeling of being fast, even if you are a turtle. I passed 32 riders during that first treacherous lap.
Not soon enough but sometime later the train derailed and it was fast and fun riding for lap after lap of slicker than snot rocks, tree roots and otherwise good dirt. The climbing was intense and the trail was indeed technical. I feel for those poor souls who’ve never set rubber on technical trail in heinous conditions. They were in for a rude awakening for sure. Clinton Lake hosts some gnarly trail, and riding said trail for six plus hours is no small task for anyone.
My first two laps I kept an o.k. pace; not too fast but not lolly-gagging. My third lap I was hurting and tired. I had hit my already injured knee on my stem and just about crawled-up in a ball on the side of the trail, but instead just groveled-on. I took a nice break after this lap, ate a killer PB&J that my four year old son made for me that morning, took a short visit to the toilet-with-a-view and was off again for a casual final lap. It was most pleasant on the trail by this time. The tread and rocks were dry, the sun was out, wind bowing and a general sense of peace engulfed my mind. I was so into the moment of being in the woods that at several occasions I stopped and sat there looking out into the lake, taking it all in, letting people pass and cheering them on. I was not racing to win, but as an excuse to ride my bike for six hours on great trail; to be in the woods and escape the routine of work and responsibility. It was a glorious time.
Ranski was out shooting photos of the Ethos Posse for the entire race. I think he had at least four blood-sucking ticks high-jacking a ride home in his flesh. It was great to see him through the dumb-end of the lens each lap, perched in some dangerous location hoping to catch some poor soul eating dirt.
Ranski
I was in the saddle for 6 hours and 22ish minutes. It was a great time. Thanks to The Dirt Dobber for running one of my favorite events. Thanks to John of Pot Pie for the best fried chicken/ mac & cheese in the multiverse. Thanks to my family for letting me go out and play in the woods.
K-Rocket
Coletrain
For those who didn't come out to play, well, the show turned out to be great. G-wiz pulled a cool 4th in the fast 3 hour solo, Team Rocket with the 6 hour duo overall, Coletrain with a 2nd in the 6 hour SS, Peat Awesome in 1st 6 hour SS (in true form) – and then there was little ol’ me with a 4th place in 6 hour solo SS. Good Times!
G-Wiz
 I am hopeful that Chris and the Cow Town team puts this race on again next year, as I’ve heard talk that he’s wanting to pass the baton. I can understand being that race promotion of any caliber is a huge pain in the ass…but worth it in the end if your event turns out to be a giant success. Bonebender 2012 was nothing short of just that.
Peat Awesome
Mr. Pot Pie
Free Awesome
G-Wiz


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Handerpants...

Oh how I look forward to Tuesday nights. Tuesday night = bike ride night, on rogue dirt, with friends. Last night all things pirate went down in full and true form. Our newest landlubber, CORE-bin, arrived early upgrade and further pimp-out his bike. In the last week [he] has raced and stood on the top of the podium in his first ever mountain bike XC race. He also had a sweet new SS wheel-set built and stepped-up from mechanical to hydrolic disc brakes. It's almost as if he is enjoying and really getting into this whole realm of riding bikes. I certainly enjoy his company and kid-like energy.
Our crew last night was for the most part the regulars, minus Pyro & Farmer, but consisting of; The Manimal, CORE-bin, G-Wiz, Billy & I. So instead of being in a hurry to roll right at 7, we lolly-gagged around and played on the backyard skills course for a good 30 minutes. It was like a yard sale gone wrong back there; bikes and dudes in tight pants flailing all over the woods. I know that each of us crashed at least once in our pursuit of stardom, challenging one another to do or die on random log bridges, rock skinnies and features that make your average cyclist get a case of the snail eye. Let's pause for a moment to recognize the man, Billy. He is so gung-ho on the P-rides that he ordered his very own pirate jersey, if for no other reason but to scare the trail into dusty submission. Yes, you get bonus points for that one.
We roll into the woods in a fairly normal fashion, avoiding our typical creek crossing due to a slight chill in the air. The Manimal likes to induce immediate suffering, so we made a feeble attempt at his favorite rogue and nearly impossible switchbacks as a warm-up. We then found ourselves riding some excellent bench cut trail through heavily wooded valleys that had a strong exposed feeling about them. One wrong peddle-stroke and you were in for certain carnage off the side of what at night appeared to be straight from the movie, The Abyss.
With darkness upon us we rendezvous with P-ride newb Griffin and continue on our quest for all things dirt. We give him a tour of the finest hidden gems of the area, including but not limited to; The Darkness, The Autobahn, Beer Climb #'s 2 and 3, The Circle of Death and so on. It was great to have a new face riding with the crew, especially one that could keep up and have a good time on his single speed. Looking back I realize that it was only G-Wiz who had more than one gear during our dust-fest of a good ride. What do we have to do to get that kid back to the dark side?
I guess I should also mention that I took a good dive during our adventure; a fly-bye rumble-tumble of a crash you might say. It must have looked like some kind of animal attack from the bug-eyed stares and laughter coming from my riding pals (thanks you f-ing jerkwads!). But as we entered The Autobahn, a giant and well known tree root the size of Ron Jeremy's third leg tossed me and my plastic bike into the earth like a rag doll. I had a slight scratch on my knee and a pain in my hand like I'd just high-five'd a Mack truck at 80mph. All was good though, since a P-ride just isn't as memorable without a good visual showing of acrobatic skills, which was shortly thereafter challenged by Billy's flail off the trail, a.k.a. instant karma (now who's laughing).
Thanks for coming out to rally fellas! Our three hours of dirt, blood, comedy, skills course action and man-cave beer drinking goes down once again as a fond memory, though my memory usually fails me 24hrs later. It couldn't have been much better a ride. See you fellas and the rest of you next Tuesday night for yet another episode of 'The Misadventures of Handerpants'. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

360 Minutes...

This Weekend there's a race. It's a really fun, technical, long and painful race. Be there, race and endure. I will be. Why not spin 11.6 mile laps on one of the best local trails for 6 hours straight? THIS is high on my top five, favorite local race list - without a doubt. Don't die wondering...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monster Trucks & Hovercrafts...

You know the drill. last night was the first official Pirate Night Ride of Spring. Most of the usual suspects showed up in cool daylight conditions for a few hours of riding dirt. New to the game was CORE-bin, and for his second showing (this time with a group) was MaxiThad. All day I was watching the radar as storms moved towards and surrounded KC, yet a drop of rain never touched the dusty singletrack. We were all psyched for some riding. It was a bit strange to start our ride not-in-the-dark.
Farmer showed up early with my freshly rebuilt squishy fork, care of Billy The Kid, master of all things bike. I was more than excited to have the plush feeling back under the front of my steed. The Manimal, G-Wiz, Billy and Farmer Pit-Crew-styled the transition from my rigid to suspension fork in minutes as the rest of the posse (Squara, Justin, CORE-bin & I) prepped for the ride. Thanks for taking care of business fellas, you're the only jerks I almost trust with my bike.
Per the norm we rode in on some less than perfect rogue trail to rendezvous at the classic Beer Climb. I think G-Wiz put a bit too much power-down off-the-line, and his chain exploded off his cassette only to wedge itself handsomely between his hub and frame. This was our first ten minute break of the ride. Once again the team Pit-Crew'd G's Monster Truck back into riding shape like the pros they are. This gave the few of us not helping some time to watch and/or make multiple attempts at the infamous Beer Climb. Farmer, G-wiz, MaxiThad and The Manimal all cranked out the beast-of-a-hill in good fashion - MaxiThad rolling up on his Hovercraft (The Pugs).
We then rolled 99.9% of the SMP MTB trail system; the dust was flying. A little rain might have turned the trail into hero dirt, but we suffered through the cloud for a solid paced lap. As we huddled to plan out phase two of our ride, now in the moonlit night, a discovery is made that we're on the verge of multiple yet imminent light failures. At this point, part of the crew bailed, and the rest of us that were still good-to-go headed off to do a lap of The Darkness race course.
It's amazing how good the course was in considering it was built for a one-day race and had not been touch since December. I was reminded of the great time had by all at that race and enjoyed spinning around on the fun whoop-dee-do's and short yet challenging climbs.
Billy did a killer job rebuilding my fork (THANK YOU!). [It] combined with my new and properly sized Niner, meshed together perfectly to create the most excellent and dreamy riding bike I've ever laid my taint on. VERY psyched and lucky to have this machine to race for 2012.
It was a great night to be on the bike with a handful of pals who are always down for pretty much whatever happens. Hopefully what happens next Tuesday night will NOT be lights going out, chains sucking and folks bailing early - but hard and fun riding followed by shit talking and beer drinking around the fire. 
If you see this Robot, do not approach it. It is considered extremely dangerous and armed with overly effective Beer Hand-Up capabilities.

Head Badge...

To promote darkness throughout the multiverse one must customize his bicycle. Aside from a flat black rattle-can paint-job, this headbadge for the death machine is a very good start.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Like Summer...

What a great weekend! Warm temps, sunshine and a TON of fun stuff to do outside. I started off the weekend with a family bike ride, picnic and playground fun.
Then I was motivated to ride some rogue trail after being sent this... a little video clip that CORE-bin made during some post Pirate cXc Championship race recon. This is the Ladder Bridge that he and The Manimal built specifically for the race . If you were there, you know all the details.
video
And here is what the stunt looked like on Saturday during my own personal post-race recon adventure...There's a crap load of water making the course impassible. It's amazing how fast this place was consumed and flooded.
It would appear that after the plethora of rain that we've had the last few weeks, the low parts of the course have transformed into a frog breeding ground. The section incoming from the high field, just after the many dirt humps and down the bench-cut hillside was once a nice bit of single track surrounded by tall grass. Suffering a simular death it has become a creek as seen below.
The Deep was a fun race to see go down in the history books. I know the Pirate cXc courses are designed specifically for race night, and not meant to be ridden again, but I 've been craving a lap. Most of the course was still good and enjoyable. It was just the two spots seen above that were better traveled by canoe. Even in the daylight it was a super fun lap.
At some point in my ride I spun a quick lap on the SMP Mountain Bike Trails. Things were prime if not a bit too dusty. I quickly learned the importance of setting your EBB high in it's rotation to gain optimal bottom-bracket ground clearance. I had mine set too low and was peddle-striking the holy-hell out of SMP. Lesson Learned and remedied.
Next I headed over to do a lap of The Darkness Course. My plan was to ride all three of the Pirate cXc race courses in one 'Endurance Style Lap', though at a casual off-the-couch pace. [They] can all be linked together if you know the area, and I was thinking it would make for a fun night-ride or endurance-festival in the not-so-distant future. 
I make it to The Darkness Course and I'm climbing the long grassy hill just beofre the V-slot, when suddenly my right foot ejects off the pedal. I'm thinking that my cleat possibly came off my shoe or loosened-up. Upon further inspection I realize that my cleat is fine, but rather my pedal is GONE! I search the ground and locate my Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 only to find is has somehow seized-up and self-extracted. Hoping to fix this sucker in the field I start to tear it apart only to find that I cannot get it fixed. I need a vice or vise-grips to hold the round sleeve in order to re-thread the cylinder back onto the main body (see exposed threads in comp photo below, left pedal). Just a totally weird mishap which made for a crappy one-legged ride home (with my bad knee).

So even though I had to hike-a-bike and one-legged-pedal *3, 645 miles to get home, all turned out great and I finished up the night hanging around the campfire and camping with my boys. It's times like these that I live for. Keeping my fingers crossed that the forecasted rain misses the area, allowing the Tuesday Night Pirate Ride to commence as scheduled.