Thursday, May 31, 2007


Nothing of much interest to report hence the lack of posts lately. The only major news is we have now taken to calling Boulder Tripod. Yeah, that would be funny if he were two legged to start out, but unfortuantely it's not the case. The maniac has been hobbling around on three legs for the past couple of weeks. It started out as a limp and he didn't want to bear weight on it, but now he's full on flamingo style. We couldn't get an appointment with the othropedic vet until mid-June but while at the regular vet they evalauted him and determined he tore his ACL. Great. There goes another chunk of change.

I kind of thought the whole idea of pet insurance was a bit of a scam, but now that I look back, it would have been totally worth it. I can't imagine not caring for my dog if something happened to him. I was at Bike Jam this past weekend and there were losts of people out with their dogs, which was kind of cruel considering the sweltering heat that day. I watched as one lady's dog basically gave up and thought was going to die or heat exhaustion. The poor dog which was probably 120lbs with a heavy coat of hair was lying limp in the field. I thought she was simply playing around with it but she was trying to roll it over and get it to stand up and get out of the sun. Fortunately she was able to get it to move.

The worst though are the people who own animals only to feel better about themselves. Earlier on in the day this older man comes walking through the park, paying no mind to the barriers blocking the course while there's a race going on, dragging his poor border collie by the neck. And when the dog wanted to stop for a break he yanks the leash so hard the dog skids along the grass. All a dog ever wants is to be your best friend and unfortunately some get stuck with people who need them around for thier own insecurities.

All Boulder wants to do is be your best friend and for that I'll gladly pay what ever it costs to make him better. Even if we do have to start calling him theMillion Dollar Dog.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Manic Friday

I started this post Friday not knowing how my weekend would develop. Let's just say I called it.

After years of racing bikes, both on and off road, I've established a few unwritten rules to live by if you want to make it through a race weekend. Breaking any one of these rules can lead to either total race disaster or a pre-race day melt down. The two most important rules are:

1. NEVER, under any circumstances, make unnecessary changes to your race rig the week before a race, no matter how minor,
2. Pack your bag the day before, trying to pack your gear the day of a race will eventually catch up with you in the form of forgotten helmet, shoes or other must have implement of race day destruction.

Live by these rules and everything will usually run smoothly until the gun goes off, don't and you'll have a day like today. I usually live by rule #1 to a tee. There's nothing worse than treking to the bike shop on a Friday night looking for a part to make your bike ridable again. Thursday I decided I really needed to get the creaking out of my bottom bracket, easy enough. Use extracting tool to pull crank arms from BB, remove BB wil BB tool, clean, grease and replace parts in reverse order of removal, make sure it's all nce and tight when done. Easy right? Thread extracting tool into drive side crank arm and remove, check. Thread extracting tool into non-drive side crank arm and extract, WTF? Instead of the crank arm slipping effortlessly of of the BB axel, to my utter dismay the extracting tool is extracting the threads from my crank arm as it removes itself. This is NOT good. I try threading the tool back on but it's not lined up so it just keeps pushing itself out of the crank arm. I call up to Race Pace and fortunately Bork answers the call, he laughs as I explain my situation and tells me there is hope. So Friday I stop in for what takes all of 2 seconds for him to pop the (ruined) XT crank arm off.

Now I'm left to pretty much replace my drivetrain at this point since I don't have another set of XT or similar 5-arm cranks that will work with my now obsolete Surly Blowerdriver chainring guard/mount. So I'm left to putting a 5-arm XT spider on a set of XTR cranks w/o my trusty Blowerdriver since the XTR crank arm profile is to low and cannot be mounted on the Blowerdriver. This leaves me with a very different chain line so I need to move the cog on the rear wheel almost to the end of the cassette body. Still using my trusty Singleator, I get everything running with a nice straight chain line and go for a short spin with Thomas. Other than forgetting to tighten the cassette lock ring causing some chain slippage, life was good. I tightened everything up and went out yesterday with Bryan for another ride and she rode flawlessy.

Having put the race rig back together and overcoming sure disaster, I was primed and ready to rock the Expert SS class at Granogue today.
Fatmarc along with Tom McDaniel and crew put on an excellent event and found trails there I don't ever remember. I swear the trails they used on the last half of the course were freshly cut this week and they hauled in dump truck loads of rocks to spread on them.

However, I committed another cardinal sin and broke my second rule of racing. Instead of packing my bag last night after having a fine cook out dinner with Bryan, Jailene and Zoey, I opted for dessert and an early bed time. So this morning I grab a handful of bike clothes from the laundry room, throw them in my bag and we hit the road. Somewhere around the Ft. McHenry tunnel traveling up Rt. 95 I realized I forgot gloves. I would have rather forgotten my helmet as I did not look forward to the idea of racing 21 miles on a rigid SS with no gloves. I might as well grab the tires of Special Sauce at 80mph for the desired effect in a shorter amount of time.

As we're headed up 95, Bryan is searching through his bag and realizes some of his clothes are wet. After closer inspection, they smell of beer. A few seconds later I hear "Hmm, where did this beer come from?" He pulls out a half empty, yet still sealed, can of Old Milwaukee's Best Light. "This must be left over from 'cross season" he says. So to my luck Bryan has a spare set of gloves to lend me, however they're soaked in very stale beer. On the first lap I needed to wipe some sweat from my face and as I put my hand to my face the smell made me flash back to college and the stench of our apartment the morning after a keg party. I almost threw up as I tried to keep from riding off the trail into the woods.

The race was going well, even for having to hump up that bastard wall climb from the 'cross race. Can you tell I was happy to see it when I came around on the first lap?
For most of the first lap I was following Buddy the Leg Breaker. I figured what better wheel to follow than the guy who helped put the course together? As I ran past him on one little climb, he laughs and says, "I love to see guys run, the hardest part is still to come." No shit. Like I said, those were some of the fastest, loosest trails I've been on in a while and the only section of the course that never really dried out from last nights rain making them even more sketchy.

The race was going well, except for the fact that I was kicking myself for not swapping the 16T cog out for something a little more humane, like the pimpy 17T Chris King stainless steel cog I picked up at Race Pace on Thursday, until at the start of the third lap my trusty (I'm going to stop calling it that now) Singleator took a shit on me. After the log bridge and nasty root section I was out of the saddle punching a little climb when I almost summer saulted my bike. Somehow the spring tension on the Singleator gave out and the chain was skipping on the rear cog under load. There was a guy working the race and he gave me a 5mm to try and fix it but as I took off, the chain started skipping again. I ended up having to call it a day.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Single Track Mind

Four rides in three days, all on picture perfect days on super fast trails. I knew last week that Poolesville was going to bring me down, and without a missing a step, it walked all over my ass. But I prepared myself and lined up some friends for a Ronde de Avalon on Sunday morning. Forgetting the prior day's disappointment, I met up with Chip, Theresa, her boy toy Wayne and their friend Mark (who happens to fly helicopters for Howard Co. police, pretty cool job I'd say) at the park and ride. As I pulled in, there are several Baltimore Co. police and Chip seems to be talking to one of them. Apparently one was handling a break-in while the other was taking a report of a stolen car. Some poor kid from Penn St. had just gone into the park with his friends and went back to his car and it was gone, to make matters worse, as he was standing there dumb-founded the asshole that stole his car went driving by in it. Ouch.

We set out from the park and ride and headed up and over towards the Hilton area. Hilton has some of the more technical trails at Avalon, twisty and rocky with some steep, knarly decents. We get to the the top before the final decent down to the river and Theresa decides to mention it was Wayne's first time at Avalon. I asked her what she was thinking letting us bring him to this side as we were about to decend one of the most technical downhills in the park. Time for your final exam. After several large log crossings you're presented with a series of significant drop offs that require a sharp left or right turn quickly after, so not carrying too much speed and overshooting the turn is as key as not going slow enough so you don't just endo. To make a long story short, the ride was cut short due to injuries, hopefully none of them serious.

Later that afternoon Thomas calls me up, he had been stuck at the Sheep and Shear? with his kids. I don't know what that is but you won't find me there. He's finally free and looking to ride. He swings by the house to pick me up and we drop in from Landing Rd. for a quick hour or so loop. Twenty minutes into the ride my trusty steed starts having problems.
The chain is skipping, kinda odd for a single speed. We stop and I notice the derailleur hanger is slightly bent outwards which would cause the chain alignment through my Surly Singleator chain tensioner to be off. With a little wrenching I bend the hanger back and realign the chain. Life is good so we take off. Minutes later, my chain is skipping again and then it comes off the rear cog, WTF???

I ride my single speed for two reasons, first it's the purest form of riding. There's nothing to think about but ripping the trails and two, it's simple, no gears, not chain suck, no skipping, none of that crap you put up with on a geared bike. Also, thanks again Sean for that sweet Vicious fork you gave me years ago for Christmas!

So I stop again and notice the pulley of the Singleator is not aligned, the pich bolt on the main arm must need tightening so I take out my 4mm and go to work. As I'm tightening the bolt, or so I think, I start seeing little metal threads work their way out, that's not good. Hoping there was some thread left deeper in the arm, I removed a water bottle cage bolt which was longer and tried that to no avail. I love the Surly Singleator but when that one simple part breaks, you're f$!@ed. There was no good chain length that would work without the tensioner so the remainder of my ride was a run as I told Thomas to finish his ride and I would meet him back at the truck.

Monday I swung by Race Pace bike shop which is awesome enough to stock Surly parts, almost everyone who works there rides a singlespeed so having the parts around is a must. I was rollin' again that night with the new and "improved" model.

Really it's just the chain guide that's improved over the little 'U' shaped guard they used to use and would sometimes clamp down on your chain. The lines and the finish of the main arm are cleaner, must have a new CNC machine.

Monday's ride was solo, just cruising the trails and enjoying the day.

Tonight I wanted to stretch my legs before racing tomorrow so I cruised over to the park for another solo ride. I love living so close that I can ride there. As I turn down Landing Rd. Thomas is coming the other direction. He's meeting Bill for a quick loop so I wait for them to get ready. We all agreed on a steady pace so we started out towards to horse farm loop since I didn't want to do too much climbing. Immediately I knew it was going to be hard to hold back, but with the single speed, most of it is just keeping your momentum and being smooth through technical stuff, not necessarily putting the hammer down. Most gear heads don't get that and assume you're hammering. We met up with their friend Paul and soon we were four ripping the trails and enjoying another beautiful day.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Wish You Were Here

I've had that song stuck in my head for a while now, it's probably my favorite Pink Floyd song and it's not even on my iPod. That song evokes alot of memories, good and bad. It's amazing how the mind and body work sometimes, how a sound or smell can conjure up memories and experiences that are years old and thought to be forgotten but are brought back in an instant like it just happened . Not to get all Timothy Leary on ya, but I think the mind is too complex for us to ever comprehend on a conscious level.

It's already May, that means only one thing, Poolesville. The race from hell. This race is my nemesis, my sworn enemy. I remember February like it was yesterday, after getting sick and telling myself I still had over 2 months to get ready for this race. So much for that. I never do well at Poolesville, it's a pure race of attrition but like most cyclists, I'm a glutton for punishment and continue to offer up my entry fee year in and year out. Two years ago when I was feeling really fit I had the wild hair up my ass to register for two races. The first race I blew up pulling back a strong early break and got dropped for my effort, the second race I flatted out on the second lap. Thanks for playing, and your $50.

Whatever, the racing isn't as important this year, it's purely about having fun and learning more about myself and my body in the process. Last year was rough and the start of this year seems to be a bit better but lately I can feel my toes dangling over the slippery edge of that downward spiral I was in last year. Although, I think I seem to have identified my problem and have made some corrections in training and life management in general.

Life truly is about balance, the things you enjoy and the things you just have to do to get by, I've found that too much of one makes you despise the other.