Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Yesterday sucked just about as much as a day can suck. First, the road commissioner stood me up at our property so that we could get our driveway permit. After getting to work late (because of the failed appt) I was immediately engulfed in the mountain of shit that comes with running a $13m project that has no hope what-so-ever of being done on time and then to top things off we find out that the septic system we need to replace to sell our house is triple what we expected! By the time I left the office I was a blubbering mess. I THOUGHT that what I needed was a good hard ride to clear my head since that usually works so I set out for my planned ride/sprint interval session. Half way into my intervals it was clear that I wasn't firing on all cylinders so instead of pushing on and potentially making things worse I packed it in and headed for home with my tail between my legs.
I was in a serious funk and wanted nothing more than to go home and have a couple of beers. Of course, I had none waiting for me which put me in an even bigger funk. Thankfully, a couple miles from home I passed a store that I know carries a few good beers so I quickly dove across route 1, avoided being turned into festering road kill, and landed myself this fine Dubbel.
I knew there was no way I was going to be able to cram a 6 pack in my jersey pockets so this bad boy would fit the bill. It was a bit heavy for my jersey pocket but it was well worth it! I enjoyed this fine ale while watching an episode of NOVA where they were talking about the future of cars and the demise of the internal combustion engine. By the time the show and beer were done, I felt muuuuuch better.
In other news, I'm seeing that Ergon's sponsorship of me is actually working even if it's on a rather small scale. In the last few weeks I've found out about quite a few of my peeps who have switched (or are switching) to Ergon grips since I started rolling with them. I've even helped sell a couple of the BD1 packs. I wish I could take all of the credit for their decisions but I'm sure there were many other reasons too but if I at least planted the seed than I'm happy.
Speaking of Ergon, they've come out with a sweet "suspension" seatpost that I hope to someday be able to try. According to Jeff, it's unlikely it will ever make it to the states but if it does, I'm so there!
Monday, July 28, 2008
- 4 wheels whose quick releases weren't nearly tight enough. Lose enough, actually, for the wheels to be flopping around in the drop outs.
- 1 quick release simply spun closed (still tighter than most of the other wheels though!)
- 2 extremely well "oiled" chains.
- 1 extremely dusty dry chain.
- 3 nearly useless sets of brakes.
- 1 seat that moved in the post.
- 1 valve stem that was about to be sheared off because of a mis-aligned tube.
- 3 extremely long zip ties.
It was a pretty extensive list and those were only the major things that I felt NEEDED my attention. They all could use serious tune-ups as well but I had neither the inclination or time to go to those extents so I did enough to keep my family from dying in the near future because of a front fork augering in at 30 mph.
All that being said, I'm still psyched that my parents and brother are riding so often now (my other brother rides a lot as well) and I'm sure that if I were to look back at my first real bike it probably was in a similar state of dis-repair. As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember getting the "WD-40 is not lube!" lecture from a bike shop employee shortly after buying my first bike.
Pile-o-bikes with my El on top.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Super quick post today as I scramble for yet another client meeting.
Commuted today. Felt like crap when I got up AND it was raining but my mind needed a re-boot so I pulled the rain cover over the Ergon BD1, aired up the El Mariachi and headed out. Wish I could say I felt better once on the road but I didn't. Instead, I continued to feel like a shit layer cake with a creamy diarrhea center. Ummmm, moist!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Wowzer, is shit happening around here. My head is spinning with what needs to be done. BUT, by commuting by bike yesterday I was still able to get in a 10 hour work day, go to a 2 hour board meeting, get in 2 hours of ride time (all commute) and clean the basement for a couple of hours for tomorrow's inspection. Busy day. If I could somehow figure out a way to carry a port-a-pottie and a hibachi on my bike I could probably lengthen my ride time to 2:30. Necessity is the mother of invention right?
As mentioned, after work yesterday, I had a board meeting to go to. When I first started going I would try to bring clothes with me to slip on so that I didn't come across as a lycra clad cyborg (this was winter and I would have my lights on my helmet!) but since then I have quit caring what I look like. If someone is uncomfortable with the way my package looks wrapped in lycra then they can find someone else for my coveted (not!) position. Anyway, after busting ass to get to the meeting on time I walked into the room glistening with sweat and breathing heavy and the first thing I hear is "hey there stud muffin". Apparently, it's only sexual harassment if a man says something like that to a woman. Did I mention that the rest of the board (at least the ones who show up for the meetings) are women?
Wait, I'm getting off topic here. After the meeting I proceeded to put in the prescribed 20 30 second sprint intervals with 30 second breaks between each. I guess it was a good workout because by the time I finished the last interval I thought I might puke right there on route 1. What a sight that would have been for all of the tourists in their minivans heading out to get some lobstah! Nothing like witnessing a bit of lung butter expulsion to get you in the mood for seafood.
Rating: 1 squirrel enjoying a Guiness. Who wouldn't deserve a Guiness after a day like that?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
With the impending (hopefully) sale of our house and the ensuing cluster-f that will be design and construction I've decided to not miss a single opportunity to ride since they will be few and far between. Yesterday's plan was that the fam would ride (in the car) to work together and then Marcy would ride her bike home but just in case she wasn't up to it (she's had stomach issues recently) I brought my bike to ride it I had the opportunity.
Fast forward to the end of the day, Marcy wasn't feeling well so I got the green light to ride home. It had been overcast all day but no rain and as I headed over to change a light drizzle had started. The conditions were such that if I ample time to ride I probably would have pulled the plug but as I said, I need to maximize my time, so I decided to give it a go. I ran in, changed, came out five minutes later and it was freaking pouring! Cats and dogs. Frig! Of course, by this point I had no choice since my ride home had left 20 minutes earlier so I was committed.
Once on the road I remembered how enjoyable a rainy ride can be. Once you accept being wet and can actually be pretty fun. Until you get a flat. Less than 10 minutes into the ride I left the rainy area and was greeted with dry roads but before I could enjoy it for even a minute I realized I had a flat front tire. By the time I had it fixed the rain had caught up to me and I was getting drenched again. Riding in the rain can be fun. Changing a flat in the rain sucks monkey nuts.
Rating: 1 wet squirrel.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The resurrection of Maine's biggest mountain bike race was fun to think about for a few days but, unfortunately, it's yet again cancelled. Bummer. In a way it's probably a good thing from my point of view. You see, over the weekend we did indeed get an offer on our house and we have a signed deal. If things go well on Thursday with the inspection it'll be balls to the wall house wise as we try to figure things out. You know, silly things like designing the new house, finding a place to stay, packing our stuff. You know pointless things. This means, of course, that riding is going to take a bit of a back seat for a while, maybe even for the rest of the summer. Sure, I'll still ride and do some races but I think that my quest to de-throne Wheels from the Master of Mud are through (in reality my only chance was if he ate some tainted peppers). The good thing is (again assuming that the inspection goes well) is that by spring we'll be into the new place and I'll be able to focus on next summer.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I may be an ass but at least I'm honest. Here is an excerpt of a conversation with a co-worker from 2 minutes ago:
N: "you remember my cousin who is really tall?"
Me: "no, I only pretend to care about other people's business."
Rating: 1 honest squirrel.
A few weeks ago we (people who race in the MMBA series) got word that the series most popular and successful race, the Bradbury Enduro, was cancelled. The promoters reasons were many including a change of regime at the state park and personal and business conflicts. I know how hard it is and how much time and effort it takes to put on a race so I was a bit bummed but kinda understood. Of course it would have been nice to do it before the season started and before people pre-registered on Active.com. Of course, there was lots of talk around about the real reason for the race being cancelled. Reason number one was that the promoter was simply tired of organizing the race. He already got rid of one of his races (another very popular race) a few years ago and, in fact, tried to stop the Bradbury race a few years back as well but kept it going because of the uproar the potential cancellation caused. Reason number two was a rumor that he was offered a trip to see the tour this year and since the tour's last day is the day of the race it would mean choosing a trip to the tour or doing a race you're tired of promoting. Easy choice I guess.
Thankfully, the other day, I got an e-mail from someone who is resurrecting the race since it seems all of the hard work was done anyway; the park's rangers are on board (they were never even told about the cancellation and the race is a huge money maker for them!), the timer is already been hired and the course layout is already planned. The only snaffu is that part of one of the park's trails was accidentally put on private land so that trail will be out of the race but other than that it's game on.
Bradbury here we come!
Rating: 2 zombie squirrels for bringing a race from the grave.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Sunday, after dnf'ing out of my race I high tailed it home so that I could salvage the day with some good ole' fashion family time. By the time I got back B was down for her nap so I got to work on her monsterous swing set for a couple more hours (only about 15 hours left to finish it!) and then once she got up we geared up for a mountain/road ride together as a fam. We'd start with some smooth-ish dirt camp roads and then test out some tame trails and see how things went. Initially she wasn't crazy about the bumps (even on the camp road) but within a half hour she was asking to go faster and would freak if Marcy got by us (I guess the competitive nature is built in!). After our turn around point we hit up some double track trails that B really liked. According to Marcy, one root that we hit put the trailer onto one wheel and B didn't mind one bit. She even started to get into the bumps by making funny noises as we crossed bumpy areas. If it wasn't for a super pokey pooch (he's starting to show his age I guess) we would have had a really good time on the trails. Back at the car we decided to ditch the dog in the car (which was parked in a nice shaded area) and head into town for some ice cream. On the way there, B demaned that I go faster and faster and faster until I literally couldn't pull any harder on my mountain bike. I may have missed out on a bunch of effort at the race but I made up for it hauling her around town at squirrel speed. Her maniacal giggles behind me kept me going though. Things look good for a "real" mountain bike ride soon.
Marcy in her urban warefare garb.
Whatcho talkin bout Willis?
I love this video by Marcy. Slight rocky downhill + first time holding a camera while riding = loads of viewing pleasure.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
This is a rest week for me, or more accurately active recovery so there won't be a whole lot of exciting things happening in the next couple of days (as if there ever are!). Marcy and I continue to work regular bike commuting into our lives and are on track to only use two cars once or twice this week. The logistics are kind of silly to get it to work but it DOES work (so far at least) so we'll keep it up for as long as we can. Meanwhile, the more Marcy commutes (and rides), the more she seems to be lusting for a new bike. While recounting her morning commute to me this am (when we swapped the spud) she slipped in a comment about her bike being "kinda old". I'm no John Holmes (or is it Sherlock Holmes, no matter) but me thinks she's angling for a new bike.
On another note, got a call from my father last night and it seems that while doing their ride the other day my brother got his first flat of the season. Of course, despite my telling them they needed to carry a spare tube and levers (they do already carry a pump for some reason. maybe to beat off all the cycling groupies in rural Maine), they had nothing to fix it with. Lesson number one. Lesson number two was when my dad went to Dick's to get a new tube and bought Schraeder valve tubes instead of Presta. They'll figure it out eventually, it wasn't that long ago that I was in the same boat. They really are getting bitten by the cycling bug though because both have expressed a bit of interest in doing one of the final races of the season. Pretty cool.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sucks monkey balls. Ok, that wasn't fair because, in reality, the course seemed like it would have been fun if I had been able to race beyond 15 minutes.
Here is the short rundown. Concert Friday night in Portland. In bed at 3 am. Awake by six but doze on and off until 8-ish. Too tired Saturday to loosen the legs for Sunday's sufferfest so I figured I'd take my chances with dead legs come Sunday.
Sunday morning I headed up solo, met up with Wheels, Andrew, Al and Steve for a pre-ride. The course was primo technical with lots of rocks/roots and tight turns. Minus the tight turns it was a perfect 29'er course, especially the trail called "King Root" where I witnessed a couple of 26" riders come to complete and abrupt stops while we rolled right on through. The legs felt fairly good during the pre-ride so I was hopeful that things would come around during the race.
The gun went off with the whole pro/expert field going off at once (yippee!) and after a minute of complete squirrel, I found myself third wheel behind Wheels and Andrew. In the first tech section Wheels' itty bitty 26" wheels got caucht up in the deep roots so I was able to slide past. Unfortunately, once we hit an open road section I realized the legs weren't opened up yet so I let both Wheels and Al (on his fully rigid Mamasita) roll past hoping that once my legs loosened up I'd bridge back up.
Fast forward a few more minutes and after a short, punchy climb a pokey rock nicked my front tire sidewall and I heard the sickening sound of air leaking out of the tire. Unfortunately, I didn't hear any Stans leaking out to fix the puncture. I stopped quick to try to get some Stans in the area of the puncture and soon realized that the tire was basically dry inside (maybe I should have put some in like I had thought about Saturday night!). Ok, no biggie, I'll just throw a tube in and hope to not lose too much more time. No go here either. As I tried to unthread the nut holding the tubeless valve in it seized up so I couldn't take the valve out to get a tube in. After a few minutes of fighting with it I threw in the towel and made the walk of shame out to dnf. Son of a bitch.
I can kiss that slim master of mud lead goodbye.
Rating: 1/2 of a rotten squirrel.
On a good note, since I bailed so early I was able to get home hours earlier than usual so that I was able to work on B's swingset, mow the lawn AND get out for a nice ride with the fam (more on that later).
Friday, July 11, 2008
Yesterday, for my commute home I opted to throw a leg over the Dos instead of the road stead for two reasons. One, with a race this weekend it makes some sense to hit the trails a bit to get the skillz honed and two, a couple of weeks ago I somehow bent two cogs on my cassette (folded them outward from my massive watts) and had cobbled together a repair that I wanted to try out before the weekend. I didn't want to have to replace the whole drivetrail for two bent cogs (since a new cassette would definitely need a new chain and probably a new ring up front) so I found a cassette that the three highest gears were worn but the bottom five were still good (now I know why I never throw stuff away), did a little mixing and matching and voila! I had an almost new cassette that seemed to mate perfectly with the rest of the drivetrain and it cost me nothing to fix. After yesterday's 2:40 of saddle time, I can say that it did indeed work perfectly and all of a sudden I feel like I have a modest amount of tech skill (and creativity).
For the commute I also did a bit of 'splorin in the area of the new property. I had seen a sign for a preserve only 1/4 mile from where the new house will be but had never bothered to check it out because it appeared to only be a dirt road. Turns out there are a few miles of very tough but fun singletrack hidden in there. From the look of it, the trails are never used so with a bit of tlc (rake the leaves!) it would be a sweet place to ride. As a bonus, I think I know another trail that I could use to link back close to our property with only a few miles of roadage afterwards. I had checked the trail out once but since it was relatively short and nowhere near anything else I knew of at the time so I had written it off. Time to go back I guess...
View of marsh and rt 1 rest area from new singletrack.
Not enough berries to ride this bad boy.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
My wife is the best. I know I don't say it enough, but she is. She had rescheduled a doctor's appointment that she was supposed to have today to tomorrow so that I could get in a group ride after work this afternoon. This morning I saw that major thunderstorms are coming in for this afternoon while tomorrow is going to be perfect so she immediately got on the horn and rescheduled AGAIN moving her appt back to today so that I can ride tomorrow instead. Like I said, she rocks!
Rating: 2 squirrels!
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
It was a long holiday weekend and much happened. Too much to really go into with my compressed schedule this week so I'll give a brief run-down.
Thursday, after a morning meeting down in Portland I took the opportunity to hit up Bradbury State Park mid-day. I don't often get down that way so driving by on a beautiful, clear, sunny day was SOOOOO not an option. I only had time for a quick spin but the 1hr there had me on more single track than I usually get in two weeks.
Ride rating: 1 squirrel - it was a short ride but playing hookie from work brings it up a notch
Saturday, I had offered to help the 'rents put in a bunch of hay. I figured there was no better way to prep for a long, hot afternoon in the fields than to do a long, hot ride beforehand. So I "mapped" out a route to my parents that would take me over many hills, including the dreaded Moody Mountain Road with its 18-20% grades. I was giving myself 3 hours to ride and 1/2 hour to clean up and eat before hitting the trails. Unfortunately, I didn't bother to figure out the length of the route, I was going by feel. Well, my sense of feel sucks and I ended up riding a bit over 3.5 hours (only warming up after two hours) and had just enough time to eat a banana and have a glass of milk before getting into my red neck gear and heading into the fields.
My bro flexing the guns. Check out my bad ass farmers tan!
Ride rating: 1 big balled squirrel - the ride wasn't quite what I had hoped but chucking hay bales in 80 degree weather for 5 hours afterwards added to the difficutly rating.
Monday was my commute day. Easy ride in in the morning followed by what was supposed to be an interval session for the commute home. Got the call mid-day that Marcy wasn't feeling well so I ditched the intervals for a TT session from office to work. 13 miles in 35 minutes (including a stop in town for traffic). Close to a record but not quite.
Ride rating: 1/2 squirrel - a good but short ride.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Last week while riding with Mike and Wheels in Camden I had the opportunity to ride with Mike's new pooch. She's a german shephard/huskie mix named Penelope, Phoebe, Payton or someting-or-other starting with P. Whatever the name is, it makes me think that secretely Mike carries P around in a dog purse on the weekends while he goes "lawn saleing". Anyway, P is a pretty decent riding dog, she's super fast, sticks with us well and gets the hell out of the way when yelled at. All good attributes in a riding dog. During one of our re-groups I noted her speed to Mike and he said "that's nothing, you should see her when she goes after a squirrel. She has another gear."
What does this have to do with me and "the unveiling" I alluded to in the title? Well, I've decided to (and already have begun to) use the term "squirrel" in my daily riding. Basically, I use it anytime I need to kick things up a notch beyond what you would typically do. In Space Balls terms Squirrel would be on par with Plaid (you know, beyond lightspeed, beyond ludicrous speed right into plaid) or if you prefer a Spinal Tap analogy, Squirrel is like turning it up to 11.
So basically, whenever I unleash the fury I'll be hitting Squirrel. Simple enough. In addition to that though I'm also going to start using Squirrel as a rating system for rides as well as in "that was a 2 squirrel ride". Why? Well, I've been feeling like this blog needs a gimmick. Dicky has his Mike Piazza bobble head doll, the Fat Cyclist has humor (you won't be finding much of that here!) and Jason has, of all things, interesting writing so I figured I needed to have SOMETHING. Sadly, this is it.
Enjoy your frickin squirrels.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Today will be a quick one, with the 4th of July weekend quickly approaching and me heading out of the office for a meeting most of the day I have very leetle time to post.
Yesterday, Wheels, Mad Mike and I hit up the Camden Snow Bowl for some actual singletrack riding. With Mike and Wheels there I was sure it would be a great workout with Wheels pushing the pace on the fast stuff and Mike kicking me in the junk on the tech stuff and that is pretty much how it worked out. 2:45 later and we were enjoying a couple of adult bevvies in the parking lot and saying we should do it again soon. We definitely should because there is nothing like a good, hard group ride to get your "training" in. I put training in quotes because even though I got way more intervals than I was required to put in it hardly felt like work. Intervals solo on the road = bad. "Intervals" while mountain biking with buddies = awesome. I should ride with people more. I'm lonely. Please hold me.
Aaaaaaannnnnnnnywho, here are a couple of lame pics. (I really need to get a new camera!)
Pre-ride trash talk.
View from the top at the lean-to that I never knew about. I predict camping there soon!
The only reason I'm showing this pic is because 2 seconds later I almost endoed because I'm a douche with a camera.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Check out this bad boy that showed up in my e-mail box today via Sam's Club. For a measly $2,144 you get a "BB shell with cartridge, 27 speed, index, high precision, dual pull levers, accurate performance... hydro pneumatic adjustable front suspension, rear pneumatic shock suspension... hydraulic disc brake - very soft and powerful" I don't know about you but I don't know if I want my brakes to be "very soft and powerful" maybe my crimefighting (as Jason likes to say) but not my braking. And does anyone out there know what the frick "hydro pneumatic adjustable front suspension" means? If you do, please let me know and, while you're at it, teach me how to change my headlight fluid.
Hold on, there's more:
"Tires: Great traction on all types of roads wet and dry - great complement for efficient braking
Fork: Suntour Epicon
Rear Shock: Rock shock
Handlebar: XC aluminum
Stem: Aluminum 3D cold forged
Crankset: Alloy crank 44/32/22t w/ cartridge
Brakes: Shimano hydraulic disk
Tires: Continental Explore Pro 23 x 2.1 foldable
Wheel Set: Exclusive design 24 special stainless spokes "
Thank goodness they spec'd tires, for a mountain bike, that work on wet and dry roads. For a second there I thought I'd need to change tires every time it rained and I wanted to putz my way down to the piggly wiggly. I'm not sure what the hell a Suntour Epicon fork is but I'd be happy to sell you a Roleks to go with your Rock Shock rear shock.
And finally: "The Ferrari CX-60 offers a balance among dynamism, flexibility and weight. It's the perfect ride for adrenaline pursuers."
I personally can't wait to throw a leg over one of these bad boys and test out it's dynamism, flexibility and weight.
Moving onto good bikes, while purusing the Salsa Cycles site yesterday looking at Marcy's next new bike, I took a look at the Sol Sessions slide show and came across two pics of Bikeman.com's own Big Al. Not only does he manage the team and website but he also walks on pieces of wood. Is there nothing he can't do?