Friday, August 1

What I wouldn't do for you

I don't pay much attention to blog stats.  I just chug along daily and give few fucks.  Once in awhile, I click a link or two, more interested in seeing where people are going to and coming from, the latter often times providing me with future blog fodder.

Surprisingly, yesterday's post became the most read (in 24 hours) pile of word shit I've ever written here. 


Yes.  I almost didn't bother to write it at all.  I was inspired by all the recent goings on with the 2014 SSWC and the Dirt Rag cover that I doctored with MS Paint (terrible) while between runs at work... and before I forget to mention, it got shared just the right amount on Facebook to be far enough removed from the source that people thought it was a real cover.

Sometimes the best part of creating is the reaction to the creation itself.

But yeah, I almost didn't write it because although the idea had been swimming in my head for over a week, I knew I had no actual point to get across to the audience.  Just a limitless bunch of random thoughts and analogies that I could blather on about until I ran outta time and had to hit the "publish" button before heading out the door to work.  Even though I ended on a "can't we all just get along" high point, I prefer things stay the same in order to make life more interesting.  Please continue to argue about wheel sizes (width and circumference), roadies, cars, gears, single speeds, races, events, crabon fibre, expensive clothing manufacturers (some people want riding scarves), opinionated bloggers, industry insider douchebags... all of it.

From chaos, entertainment.

And for even more quality entertainment pleasure here, I have invested deeply (relatively speaking) in new technology.

Not my photo, but I was too lazy to grab a camera to take a picture of a camera.

I have to admit, I didn't know what to buy.  I took a photography class in college... all the way back in the summer of 1990.  Although I got an A in the class using a camera with a broken light meter, I remember so little information about how to use a camera to its full potential.  I asked my FaceFriends which camera I should get for $250 or less, and the answers I got were so varied that I felt like I got nowhere.

The planets aligned and fortunately with some winking and nudging and exchanging of cash, I was able to get a camera that was suggested by Photo John of MTBR and fame.

Looks like a man who knows a thing or two about cameras and PVC construction.

I really want to take better pictures than the ones I normally put on here.  Not so much for your enjoyment, but to save time and effort.  I waste so much of both trying to snap an image in my dungeon of a bike room or out on the trail only to be disappointed with the results... which I sometimes end up using anyways.

I took the camera to work yesterday and played with it.

Sorry.  The art student in me was always amazed by textures.  My final project had lots of closeups of motorcycle seats, sewer drains and all manner of mundane subjects.

Thursday, July 31

Single Speeds are Dead

Allow me to ramble for some time and accomplish nothing.

For one to determine if single speeding is indeed dead, one needs to allow for the notion that it was ever alive to begin with.  This may start to sound like a pro-choice/pro-life debate, but when and where does life really start?

Not here:

That's just running... with style and accessories.

Not here either:

This is about mountain biking with only one gear, what we call "single speeding," so let's skip past the images of Nelson Vails and Tour de France riders from days of yore before the invention of the derailleur... despite how much it looks like what we do today.

Tour de France or the Breck Epic Single Speed Stage Racing World Championship?  Same diff.

Let's go back to the birth of mountain biking as we are told it began, on the top of Mount Tam.

These guys started with single speed beach cruisers, but it wasn't long before they were all retrofitting derailleurs onto their machines in order to go further, longer and faster.  So they weren't really single speeders as much as they were guys who hadn't found gears yet.

The embryo that eventually became the fetus that later was the anti-Christ brought forth from the birth canal of Rosemary NORBA has to somehow be genetically linked to the sperm of Bob Seals and Retrotec.  He and his roving band of gypsies have to be given credit for inspiring all other "fuck the establishment" single speedery.


Tim Richardson of Team Hugh Jass... East Coast single speed fuckery at its finest

The 1999 Single Speed World Championships brought back the douchery of Bob's first and only W.H.I.R.L.E.D. Championship of 1995.  Although the yearly gathering known as SSWC is kind of the defacto class reunion of single speeders from all around the world, an anti-establishment, anti-NORBA, anti-"The Man" event, the first one was still won by two pro riders; Marla Streb and Travis Brown.

Wednesday, July 30

A Tale of Seven (or so) Shoes

Maybe more or perhaps less but probably more.

Many would say that I'm "picky" about things.  I would call it "painstakingly finicky."   I like things the way that I like them.  Things I don't like are quick to be tossed aside.  Things that I do like are clung to like a cloth mother.

When I find something that works for me, I like to stay with it.  Unfortunately, things change and disappear over time.  One of the most important pieces of gear to an off-road bike cycle racing racer type is shoes.  Shoes can make or break you.  The sad part of this is once I find a pair I like, by the time I wear them out, the manufacturer will have "updated" that particular model or stopped making them altogether.

Assembled here, the shoes that are still serviceable from the past few years... spaces left to honor shoes that were discarded or didn't make the cut.

Not shown are all the Sidis that just won't die but are barely functional as a decent riding shoe for one reason or another.

Shoes in the sense that they can be worn to cover one's feet... and little else.

I will not bore you with the history of my shoes.  It would take too long, and I doubt it would make good reading.  I can say that I'm tired of looking for the Mr Right of shoes.  They all suck for one reason or another.  Nothing has made me happy.  I was close with the original Mavic Razor, a great racing shoe at a enthusiast friendly price.

But they were fragile.  One season of real use maximum... I'm eeking out what I can from the pair I have left.  Local riding only, no hike-a-bike whatsoever.

The Razor got "updated."  Much needed toe protection added (where the previous version fell apart) but the toe box area was increased to a more "enthusiast hobbit" width.  I bought one pair, and because I made the mistake of taking (and finally destroying) an original pair of Razors on a hike-a-bike intense trip out west, I was forced to buy a second pair (black, yuck).

Wait. I'm starting the History of My Shoes: Volume One

I said I wouldn't do that.

Many of my shoes see their last serviceable days at work.  There is no ideal shoe for work, and if someone made it, they would just change the design and ruin it in a few years anyways.  Former mountain bike shoes are the new work shoes.

My Sidi Spiders were on their last legs.  Replacement soles are getting hard to come by and the new 2014 design does not have the metatarsus grippy thing (which isn't included in the SRS replacement sole kit, WTF?).  I thought maybe it was pointless, but after trying a pair of Sidis with nothing but carbon at the mid-foot point?  Stupid.  Dangerous.  Meh.

So I broke down and went back to Mavic.  The only way to get something that fits my narrow feet?

The Mavic Fury.

Tuesday, July 29

Tuesday already?

What can I say?

I woke up yesterday on the wrong side of meh.  Just not feeling it.

Was it because I wasn't here Sunday afternoon?

Dunno.  I think my biological clock felt like I shoulda been doing something difficult for somewhere in the neighborhood of four to six hours over this particular weekend.  I did nothing of the sort.  The Pie outta town, I was Dad most of the weekend.  Putzing about the house, I guess like a normal person.

I don't do normal very well.  I wasted way too much time thinking about why Godzilla wouldn't start with the blue flame thing when he had to battle the MUTO things.

I'd lead with it instead of getting the shit beat outta me first.  But I'm like that.

This whole not having a race on the near horizon.  Difficult to contend with.  No reason to put in extra miles or extend a weekend ride... or watch what I eat... or drink less beer... or sweat the details in any respect.

Westward Ho Before Bros Mancation is just over two weeks away.  We're gonna wing it for the most part.  From the airport straight up to Georgia Pass... because why not step right off a plane and head to 11,660 feet.  After the ride, we're heading to Salida to spend the night at a hostel in Salida.  An early wake up the next morning, and we're on the shuttle to do the Monarch Crest everyone rambles on about.  The ride ends near a brewery, so there's that.

Everything on a bike.  I like it.

Next, we wake up with a hangover and head to Durango... and then the winging begins.  Don't know where we are staying.  Don't know how long we'll be there.  Don't know where we're going next.  I do know I love the fact that there's great riding in Durango without getting in a car, a sweet greenway, and Ska Brewing.  And then?

It's Colorado.  Not like it's gonna suck wherever we go.  Crested Butte?  FrOOta?  As long as we're riding something every day, I'll be okay with that.

Friday, July 25

Girthy Issues

Few things, then a few more.

I forgot to mention the one challenge I had with the Maxxis Chronicle 29 X 3.0.

The lower tray on my Raxter rack had trouble accommodating the extra girth.  I'm used to having this kinda problem.

Fortunately, I had a JAMLOC Strap handy, and stability was brought forth unto my world of chaos.

That said, let's talk more about events I'm not doing.

There was a brief moment this week when I thought I was going to the Downieville Classic to do the All Mountain Challenge (or whatever they call it).  This exclusive event sells out quick, and someone had a single speed entry up for grabs.  I looked at flights.  I talked to The Pie.

"When is it," she asked.

"First weekend in August," I replied.

"You mean next week?"

I know that there are things called calendars.  I see many of them in my peripheral almost daily.  I just rarely look directly at them. 

What do you know?  August comes in less than in a week.  I should look at these things more closely... since I'm still thinking about going to SSUSA.

How would things look if I went to Michigan in less than two weeks?

What the... who's in charge of my scheduling?  I hadn't really stepped back and looked at this very closely.  Even after I get back from the Shenandoah 100, two weeks later there's that Pisgah Monster Cross thing I'm dreading... I mean, looking forward to attending... that now has a fixed category (shoot me).

Wednesday, July 23

Tour de Droopy

I'm not a roadie.  No disrespect to roadies intended.  If anything, the absence of me from their ranks probably brings them up a peg or two... or many more.  I just don't enjoy enough of the experience to actively participate in this particular hobby.  Sure, I ride to work on what some call a "tarck bike" and sometimes extend those rides in search of fitness (and wayward tools at the side of the road)...

and of course I get paid to ride a bike cycling machine on roads in order to deliver various goods and perform certain services.

But intentional road riding.  Ewwwww.  These bikes with these bars:

Silly macaroni noodles.  No idea how it all started.  Too indifferent to find out why they exist at all.  I just know that when I ride in the drops, my neck hurts, I'm looking out over the tops of my protective lenses, I get numb in certain zones and I'm generally miserable.  The only problem being that if I want to go down a serious hill in a serious manner, that's where I need to put my hands.

And if you want to go down in a real hurry, you do something even more stupid.

or as shown in this year's Tour of France, something even stupider.

There are many ways to get down the hill fast.  Want to descend like those superheroes on TV (or on borrowed live internet feeds)?  Watch and learn...

Tuck like a pro... not to be confused with this:

If you have an attention span as small as mine (if you've read this far, yours surpasses mine by days), here's the breakdown of the three methods that are preferable to sitting straight up like a brick wall (AKA: Being marginally comfortable on a road bike).

Not to be confused with the Human Toolbag.
Here's the thing I don't understand.  The current UCI weight limit requires that all bikes weigh at least 6.8kg (14.99lb).  This rule has been around for almost one and a half decades.... since a time long ago when riders and mechanics were doing absurd things to drop weight on the bikes in order to make great bike race.  The rule was put in place to keep the riders safe from self-created death traps going down a mountain at 60MPH (sorry, something something KPH).  Currently, the rule is quite stupid, and much ado has been made about modifying it.

In the meantime, mechanics are sticking weights on the bikes to have them make the minimum weight requirement.

They stick and/or hide them anywhere they can.  Totally useless, dead fucking weight. Well, I guess riders like former Grand Tour sprinter, Tom Steels, would have something a little more effective than a half-empty bidon to toss at offending sprinters who go off-line.

Why, oh why... on these climbing heavy days when riders are also descending some sick, sick, sick winding roads down the side of a mountain, are they not using proper drooper posts?

I'm not talking about this abomination that Nibali has used this year.

Tuesday, July 22

The Chroni(what)cles of Gnarnia

So that tire showed up... the tire of my dreams?

The Maxxis Chronicle 29 X 3.0

It's big.  How big?  Notoriously (without the extra "g").

The Vertigus?  The Vertigampus?  The Pamela Anderson?  (the additional rubber has made it front heavy)

I've lusted after a big tire ever since I gave up 26" wheels.  I loved my competent but heavy (1,800 grams) 3.0 Nokian Gazzy.

Farlow Gap.  2006.  Riding a section I haven't ridden in years... either because I gave up the Gazzy, the trail has terribly eroded, or I have gained a certain sense of my own mortality.  It was an enabler.  I could ride some gnar that I might not have at the time, with confidence and aplomb.  At 8 PSI, it stuck to everything like it had tentacles (not testicles, big difference).

I was reluctant to go to 29" wheels back in 2006.  My go-to 26" tire was the 2.5 UST Continental Diesel, and there was nothing that could replace it.  Then there was the 2.35 Rampage.  I bought two of the first 150 that hit the states (when an awake Mike C cornered the market and pissed off the guys who got caught sleeping).  Then there was/is the 2.4 Maxxis Ardent which took the place of the Rampage as my go-to... but no replacement for my ride-over-my-own-head-with-confidence Gazzy.

Until now?

We shall see.

Most of the trails in Charlotte were closed over the weekend.  I thought about heading to Uwharrie, one hour to the east.  Then I remembered Steve's Place AKA Rocky River Trail.   The most "raw" trail in town.  Rocks of all shapes and sizes, roots, steep pitches, off-camber sections... it would suffice for the purposes of finding the right PSI to run the new Chronicle at for max cush and traction.

Just enough room in the Niner crabon frok for a 3.0 and about zero mud.

I started at 16PSI... sorta.  I use a Topeak Smart Gauge to set the pressure.  I don't think there's a better gauge out there for the money.  I have a pretty tight tolerance for pressure on the Ardent.  Lower than 17PSI and I might ding a rim.  Higher and I'm bouncing all over the place.

Sorta.  I say "sorta" because the gauge is accurate to the single pound, not the tenth.  The bleed valve allows air to creep out at MTB pressures, so going from 18PSI to 17PSI can take 15-20 seconds... which means lots of time for tenths of a PSI adjustments.  Those are just guesses though.  Normally, when I run 17PSI, I wait until 18 disappears, wait a few moments, and then let go.  17.something.

So 16PSI is actually 16.somethingPSI.  I rode some, let out 1PSI, rode some more, and settled on 14.somethingPSI.  I stopped there.

Mostly because I was out of time and desire to ride more of Steve's Place.  I wasted so much of it, time that is.
It makes noise and grabs the earth like it has its own gravity.
So far, no squirm on an Industry Nine Enduro (no ™) rim.  31.5mm outer/26mm inner width for those that want to know.  It looks a little silly, but no more silly than the 2.5 Diesel on a Mavic 819 rim that I used to run.  I'm pretty sure I can go lower on the air pressure.  I might have noticed the extra weight.

"How much extra weight?" you ask.

I don't know if I'm allowed to say.  This tire has prototype written on it, and "industry insider douchebags" don't like when you over-share information.  I will say this.