Friday, October 31, 2008

The Donkey Rides Again

Remember the cry of the Lone Ranger when he mounted his steed and galloped away..."Hiii Hooo Silver!", etc? It was kind of like that last night on a pre-Halloween group ride. It was actually a fun idea. Get a group, get some lights, ride to the top of a local climb where a truck awaited with jackets, coffee and Halloween goodies, then drop into a singletrack and loop on back to a BBQ at the bike shop.

So, off I went. At the first sign of the hillclimb, I heard this awful braying noise. Soon, I realized it was coming from me. Was it a full moon? Oh no, not the dreaded, not that, just the regular old donkey that lives within me and seems to come out whenever a long climb comes along.

It was very frustrating, cuz I have been riding quite a bit. Maybe last night was one of those off days. I usually ride that climb in a mix of small to middle chainring and the second half nearly all in the middle. Last night I had to live in the small ring pretty much all the way up. I think I passed 3 people. Sigh. Only 25 more to go.

Well, I don't know. I suppose it should make me more determined to train harder or better or...

Right now it just makes me depressed. Donkeys get that way sometimes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eskar Go?

Hah...a little play on words there. I decided to run the very knobby and pretty light Eskar 2.3 S Works tires on the SS Monkey for dirt duty. Only one ride so far, but they have a pretty strong personality that I am not sure agrees with me, but one ride is not enough to say for sure.

We shall see. I will post up the whole story at when I have given them a fair shake.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend Stoke.

Saturday's ride was fit in between Daddy duties, but I still managed to get in some quality pedaling time, most of it with this guy:

I have known KT since way back. A true cyclist, KT was a fast guy. Road, off road, whatever. I thought I did big rides? Naw. KT did big rides. He became one of my go-to guys for cycling related wisdom and advice.

A couple of years ago, he had his dirt bike land on his leg and broke it so badly, that combined with a post-op infection, nearly cost him his leg. Two years of surgeries, wheelchairs, crutches, limping and now, riding. His left quad is half the size of his right one. He does not have full extention/flexion in his knee. He is signed up for Vision Quest next year, something he has completed 3 times now, and one of the hardest one day race events anywhere for someone with TWO good legs.

Yesterday he chased me over four hours of demanding singletrack and never fell behind or complained, in fact I could barely gap him. He had ridden five days in a row and was stoked to be out there that day on his bike.

KT is the man.

Sunday morning I drug my son out the door at 07:30 and joined a group/family ride in the local canyons with the promise of breakfast pancakes afterwards. It was cold at first, finger numbing cold, and then it does what only a desert can do, when the sun hits the hillsides and it warms up like an Easybake oven. Yesterday it was 93*. Ah, So Cal.

He hung with his peers, all the boys struggling up the climbs, and then zoomed the downhills, yelling "this is awesome!". Watching them together, about 6 young boys soon to be men, I was so pleased just to see him having a great time on his bike. The chocolate chip pancakes were good, too.

Both days I enjoyed my ride, but the real stoke was from watching others and the fun that two wheels were bringing into their lives. I mentioned to KT that if he had not been an athlete and had been Joe Regular, he may have never recovered from that injury, never gotten out of that wheelchair or off those crutches. It was the pull of the bike, the trail, the hurt, the pain, the joy of two wheels that made the difference.

It was two wheels that brought such fun into the Sunday morning of a 14 year old boy and his dad, only a slice in time on the way to adulthood, but a very good slice it was.

Weekend stoke.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Update: Deuter Race EXP Air hydration pack

Well, I made a good call with the Deuter pack. Although I have bumped it out of everyday duties in favor of the Octane XC, I did get a chance to use it several times lightly loaded and once about 80% loaded, including a full water bladder. It performed just as I had hoped. The mesh panel kept the pack flat and stable against my back. The plumped up bladder could be seen as a bulge at the back wall of the pack, but that part never reaches my body. In fact, I think it rode better heavily loaded than lightly packed. Very cool. Literally. The way the pack rides away from your back is quite nice on hot days.

The expandable section allows for stuffing clothes as layers get shed, so it can carry a fair amount. Is it perfect? No.

Every once and awhile the wings seem to annoy me, but then hours will go by and I don't notice it again. I am not so crazy about the bite valve and the main compartment could use some segmentation or maybe a bit more ways to organize things in there, but that is about it as far as complaints. I have more to say about the pack, including detailed pics at this write-up on, so check it out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bring it, Big, Brown Santa

I came home to find a package on the front porch. I love packages on the front porch, especially when they have my name on it and they have bike stuff in them.

This box was from Specialized and was stuffed full of shiny, black, 29" tires. Over the next few months, I will be running some tires through the paces on the Lev. Stay tuned here and at for all the details.

Fast Trak, Captain, Eskar. Gotta ride.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Romance Meets Reality

As I was riding this weekend on the Lev, I found myself thinking about something that had not crossed my mind for a long time. Smaller wheels. I had actually become aware of the bigger hoops as I was riding. Odd, not sure why, but there I was, wondering if the magic was over? I could feel the slight bit of extra resistance when turning. The thought of a Yeti 575 was romancing me, whispering in my ear.

Then I came upon an old friend riding his Cannondale hardtail 26er. If anyone needed a 29er, he does. At 6'5", he looked like he was on his kids bike. Right away he is asking about the 29er thing, how is this and that, etc. So we swapped bikes and turned up an old doubletrack trail. I was immediately struck by how nervous and odd it felt. The first patch of sand I almost fell over trying to ride through it. The front wheel began to dart around and dig in. Everything felt harsh. On the return down the canyon, I felt like I was riding a road bike with 125psi in the tires.

Well, this sucks!

My buddy kept saying how smooth it was and on and on. He is convinced. Me too.

Romance. Who needs it?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Ride

Now, is that a thrilling title for a blog post or what? I was on the pager for work this week, so no big rides. Instead, I put together a little three loop jaunt around town by stringing three normal one hour rides into a triple crown wonder ride. I must have done it right, cause I ran out of water (70 oz + one bottle) right as I came out of the singletrack return

Stats: 30 miles, 3 hours and 3700' of climbing. Not epic, but better than staying on the couch and it all adds up to Vision Quest.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

High Octane Hydration

Octane XC, that is, from Camelbak. I was in the middle of setting up the Deuter XC pack that I am still trying out and it came to me that I really needed to slim down my hydration set up. I first I thought the Deuter would be a good everyride pack, but it really is better suited for long days or at least a situation where you need to carry a fair amount of stuff. And, there is some truth to what they say...a bigger pack just means you will bring stuff you don't actually need.

So, I set about slimming down my kit, partially by carrying more on the bike as far as spare tubes, etc. It went well, and when I was done, I was able to get the Octane XC to be what I needed it to be...slimmer, lighter, sleeker, and faster (well, the faster part may be stretching it a bit).

Here she is in all her green and black beauty...kinda a Green Hornet theme there

Two things caught my eye in the catalog before I ordered. One was the little wingy things on the sides of the pack at the hip straps. This looked like it would not only comform to the bod, but make good stash spots for Gu packs, etc. The other was the bungee net on the back cover. That is sooo useful and many packs no longer offer that nifty feature.

It also has a storage spot in the flap over the bladder fill with an inner net and a key clip. The bladder can be filled without removing it from the pack and it sits in an insulated pocket.

I packed it up with my hand tools, pump (slid down along the bladder) Powerbar or two, and strapped in a windbreaker (also in green and black) and found it to be barely noticeable on my back, even when filled with 70oz of water. Will it be the go-to pack for after work rides and supported race events? We shall see.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for an update on the Deuter pack which I have been working over lately.

Still the Right Dance Partner?

I am not sure if you understand this, but when I was shopping for an FS 29er, I wanted to purchase a great dance partner. I say that because on some level, a really good bike compliments the rider, lets them lead without much argument, and then simply moves to the music. Dancing, indeed.

This past month I have been able to throw a leg over most of the latest and greatest 29er FS bikes. It has been interesting to see how the new crowd of wunderbikes compares to my old gal, the Lenz Leviathan. From the rocky trails of Bootleg Cyn to most recently a few hours spent comparing a Jet-9 to a RIP-9 for, I have a pretty good idea how they compare, at least for an old weekend warrior like me.

I won't repeat my findings at Bootleg, you can go read that here , and the RIP vs. JET is posted here to read as well, but I will sum up a bit as thoughts come to me. I don't think the Lev 3.0 that I own is better at any one particular thing than any other bike I rode. There is no 'best' bike. But so far, nothing other than the Big Mama from Salsa (and my time on that was limited) has impressed me in its ability to do nearly everything very well and some things really well, and the Levs are lighter than pretty much all the others in that genre. Is light weight everything? Nope. But it does not hurt the final result to start a build with a lighter frame.

I would not hesitate to take the Lev on a multi hour ride with tons of climbing, race it in the endurance environment, etc, and yet I rode it from Hazzard down to Porc Rim and while more travel would have been welcome, it never felt anything but competent and steady. Remarkable, really.

I do find myself thinking about more travel both front and rear. There are bikes that fill that notch really well now, the RIP, the Big Mama, the Sultan, and more. I am tempted to cheat on the Lenz folks (well, Devin, really...just one guy building them critters), but I would sure miss that Lev's all around goodness.

Maybe I need to start looking for a 4" Lev and a 120mm fork. Maybe THAT would be the killer app. Meanwhile, despite a lot of winks and whispers from other babes out there, I am still taking the same ol' gal back home from the dance.

Choosing a Bike Like an Expert: Part II

Well, if you remember where we left off with the first segment, we had gotten to the point where we were actually throwing a leg over the bike we had 'expertly' evaluated.

There are only a few things that we need to be able to pull off to keep the aura of expertness going right to the very end. Do we consider the top tube length, set the saddle height, check for standover clearance, or rotate the bars or brake levers to fit us? Naw. Who needs that stuff? We are experts.

This is what we will do:

Find the bike shop parking lot. We are test riding a full suspension mountain bike, so there is no need to have any dirt to ride in. There will be several tests we will perform.

The Full Bounce -

Riding the bike, we will bounce the fork and rear suspension up and down like some crazed flashback to our pogo stick days. This will tell us nothing, but if we add a few choice sayings like, "Slightly overdamped, with a rising rate to the spring curve and an oakey aftertaste" (...oh, wait, that last part is for wine tasting), we will be lookin' good.

The Curb Huck -

To finish the suspension testing, we need to make the big drop off of a curb. All experts can huck. You can huck too.

The Wheelie - A parking lot wheelie will tell so much, that to leave it out just won't do. The shop monkey is watching for this to see if you are simply acting the part of the expert or are the real deal. SO, let's not dissapoint. It does not have to be a big wheelie. Actually the front wheel can barely leave the ground, but if it does not impress, just shake your head and repeat the "overdamped suspension" part. Leave out the oakey aftertaste. Save that for lunch after the test ride.

If you can find which brake lever works the rear brake, lock up the rear wheel just as you stop in front of the shop guy. By now, you are a legend in his eyes, a keen eyed, bike choosing wizard.

You, my friend, are an expert and I salute you.

Post Script: Now, this is, of course, all in fun as there is waaay more to it all than this. The person working in a good bike shop is typically a knowledgable employee and can easily help you choose the right size and type bike for you. But just in case it requires a little bit more on your part, you are good to go.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

VQ Training Ride 1

Well, with VQ coming up in a few months, I figured I would see where I stood, fitness wise. Well, I am still standing, but perhaps on one leg and I think VQ will take 2 legs. Still, I figure I am halfway there.

This ride was 34 miles and had 4682' of climbing. It was supposed to be 50% pavement and 50% dirt, but it ended up being a bit more pave' then anticipated due to technical difficulties. More on that as we go.

First, the steeds for the day: Lev and Dos.

The Dos belongs to Ed. Ed is pretty fit and is training for a 12 hour solo effort in Nov. Go, big Ed.

We hit the road into a cold morning and a slight breeze as we began an 8 mile climb. I had noticed a low rear tire when I unracked my bike, but the tire looked sound and the Stan's juice should fix any pokey thingy...not. Guess I let the Stan's goop dry out and it was soon that I was slapping in a tube on the side of the road. Delay #1.

We topped out with views of Red Mtn and Elderberry Forebay. Say hi to Ed.

We dropped about 1500' and headed into Cienega Cyn and the narrows. In the spring, the creek runs right down the middle of the road. Very nice. Alder, Sycamores, poison oak.

The climb out is a bit of pedaling. As we were in the midst of it, Ed was about 10' in front of me when all of a sudden, *POW*. Tube goiter. We fixed it, but it left a bit of a question as to the integrity of the bead seat on the Bonty rim and the tire. Very loose fit, and the rim tape was a bit in the way of the bead area of the narrow rim. I love my Stan's rims. No worries for me, but Ed was a bit concerned, especially when the first tube change leaked immediately and then we had one more flat at the top of the climb. Bad juju.

To help us get home without any more issues, we kept to the pavement and skipped that last section of dirt. Good thing too, as I was flirting with cramps on the top of the last hill.

A good day all around, but I figure I have work to do and plenty of time to do it. Today's total: 34 miles and 4682' of climbing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Trail to Vision Quest Begins.

VQ. Just the initials seem to strike fear and respect into So Cal mtn biker's hearts. Vision Quest. Perhaps the premier endurance race in California, VQ and the lesser Counting Coup is a cruel day in the saddle hosted by the Warrior's Society.

I plan on finding out if the stories are true. I am signed up for next year's event. I am one of the lucky ones (lucky???) as it closed registration the same day it opened.

"Popular, this suffering is" - Yoda during his time spent endurance racing in the Toth system.

I have done one 50 miler in Brianhead, one 35 mile race, and the 45 mile 40 Something ride I did last year plus the 1st loop of the Julian Death March. That is the extent of my endurance racing and long ride experience of this past year(s).

I have some work to do. Stay tuned as I blog every so often about the prep work and thoughts leading up to the race day. I may not finish, but I don't plan on quitting. At odds? Perhaps.

"A, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" - Robert Browning, racing experience unknown.

Drop Bar Mtn Bikes.

Regading this blog post: I get it, GT.

Late 80s Schwinn Paramountain Frame as DB MTB. Old school.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Xtreme Sports ID bracelet

Anyone who spends a great deal of time in the outdoors usually ends up alone much of the time. Being alone in remote places and participating in a motion sport like cycling is a reasonably serious risk. Cell phones may not work. Who knows where you rode that day? Where would search and rescue look for you?

There are sophisticated products like the SPOT locator device. This is slick but is somewhat expensive for the average Joe out for a ride.

There is another option that, while it does not locate you and broadcast your position, it does identify you and supply crucial info for emergency contact numbers, medical issues such as allergies, etc, and will even send an email to people stating where you plan on riding that day and when you will return, etc.

All that for a few bucks. Xtreme Sports ID has a motto: "Never Go Out Alone". Their product is a simple ID bracelet like the ones you see all over the wrists of people, the colored rubbery ones like this:

The bracelet has an individual serial number on it that links you to an online database of your info for contacts, doctors name, etc. It will also allow you to send a pre-ride email to select addresses that details your plans in case you drop out of site. As well, there is a phone number option that allows the rescuer to dial a number, enter your bracelet's serial number, and get interactive text to voice info on you with no need for an internet connection.

If you are found and are unable to respond to questions or are unconscious or, well, dead....there, I said it, your identity and contact info will be readily available.

All this for eight bucks per bracelet which includes one year of the web and phone service and it is five dollars per year after that if you wish to continue.

I got mine. Cool deal for $8.00.

How to Choose a Bike Like an Expert

Experts. You have all seen them. They stand out from any crowd by the way they intimately know their field of expertise. The average man on the street stands in jealous awe at the skill and ease with which they work their craft.

Take for instance the wine afficionado. From the reading of the label to the first taste, this person judges clarity, color, bouquet, taste, and quietly pronounces judgement like Emperor Nero at the arena. Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Likewise, the keen eye for horseflesh. With skilled hands they examine the animal's hocks, withers, teeth, hoofs. No brokedown mare will pass through undetected.

Bicycles can be judged the same way by those in the know. Up until now, this has been a closely guarded secret passed on from rider to rider, but only in the strictest of confidence. However, I am going to change all that and empower the average Joe or Judy to look like an expert. I say look, because much is made in the appearance.

The wine dude? Hey, who knows if he really can tell the difference between Ripple and Chablis? He looks so confident and sure that no one dares challenge him. He is an expert.

The horse master? Hey if the nag falls down in the derby, it was rider error or such. He is, after all, an expert. You can tell that by the way he acts and the things he says. I mean, what do YOU know about strangulated tendons? I thought as much.

See, experts just need to LOOK like they know more than you, and since you may not know the first thing about it either, the most practiced and prepared will win.

Now, bikes. They are no different than wine, cars, horses, etc. If you know what to do and what to say, you can be an expert there too. You may not know how to spell deraaill...ahh....derrailer...well, shifters (hey, it's French, who can spell that stuff?) or tell a clincher from a tubular, but that is not important. With the secrets of the ages I am going to reveal to you, it won't matter a bit.

Consider the typical bike shop. The shop rat figures he knows more than you and he may or may not, but that is neither here nor there. You are an expert and you will demonstrate that in no uncertain terms by these key steps:

Choose a bike, any typical mtn bike for instance, and begin with:

The Brake Lever Flick -

The brake lever is lightly gripped with one or two fingers...NEVER the entire hand...and then released like a bow string. This should be done a few times in repetition as you listen to the qualifiying 'thunk' of the brake lever. Immediately the shop monkey is re-evaulating you. Perhaps there is more about you than meets the eye? This is the equivalent to uncorking the bottle.

The Heft -

Moving to the side of the bike and getting close to it, grab the bar/stem interface with one hand and underneath the back of the seat with the other hand and pick the bike off the ground. Bounce it up and down a few times, not letting it touch the ground, and then set it back down. Say something like, "well it is a bit heavier than what I am used to", but never venture to guess the actual weight as the monkey may know this. If you do venture a guess, say it in some obscure unit of measure like "I bet this is about 6.5 stone, maybe less" or, "huh, I would say it is less than 26.5 kilograms". At this point, the shop rat is confused and in awe of your tactile and mental abilities. This is to bikes what holding the filled wine glass to the light reveals.

The Squish -

If it has a suspension fork, this is the next key move. Holding both brake levers firmly on, push up and down on the fork and make a few noises with your lips, barely more than murmurs, perhaps a knowing nod. Be subtle. Ever see a wine guy take a sip and yell, "That is AWESOME!" I think not.

You are almost done except for the ultimate test of frame rigidity.

The Crankarm Press -

Find either crankarm (the thing the cheap, plastic pedal is screwed into) and place the pedal all the way down in the rotation. Once again, get to the side of the bike, holding the bars and seat just like in The Heft, but with your body farther away. Now place either foot on the pedal and press the pedal down in such a way as to cause the bike to bend away from you. This will seal the deal in concrete for the shop guy and anyone around you as you expertly show the ultimate test in bottom bracket stiffness. Never mind that the tires are nearly flat and the spokes are as well tensioned as Top Ramen, you have shown by this move that your judgement is not to be questioned.

One more thing: DO NOT ACTUALLY RIDE the bike. That may ruin the entire performance, but if you are forced into actually saddling up, stay tuned for part two on Choosing a Bike Like an Expert

Friday, October 3, 2008

Magic Salsa, Hold the Chips

SO, what is it with Salsa bikes these days? In my opinion, they are getting a lot of things right for 2008. In fact, right now I could satisfy my bike longings with:

A - A beautiful SS in the new Selma. Very sexy bike. Gotta be fast on that baby.

B - An XC FS bike in the new Big Mama, and depending on the build, be there for everything but rides where weight is more important than comfort, like maybe 24 hour racing.

C - You know the 24 hour stuff the Big Mama may be too heavy for? How about a Dos Niner, maybe the king of affordable soft tail 29ers. Would make a killer 1x9 fireroad bike.

D - The Fargo. Wow, has this hit a niche that was untapped except for custom frame offerings!

E - Podio. A road bike even I would like to own.

F - Chile Con Crosso. I am not sure what I would do with it, but I bet I could find a spot somewhere.

And I have not even mentioned the Mamasita and El Mariachi and I hear they even make 26" wheeled bikes too, but this does not concern me as it is just a nasty rumor.

Now I could possibly come close to this with, say, Trek brand stuff if I mix Fisher in there too. Specialized....ahhh, almost, but no Fargo. Anyone else? Nope.

And it is not just variety. They could all be mediocre bikes and be varied, yes? But as much as I can tell, folks love these things. Very happy owners. And, they don't seem to break a lot either.

Good combo, all that. But there is more that sets them apart and it is a bit of an intangible.

I remember when Salsa Cycles was Ross's baby. I first knew them from custom stems, then the Ala Carte. Then a veritable outpouring of stuff that always had a cool factor to it. The little Pepperman guy, etc. I remember the Mangos De Amor, the Handles of Love barends. Still makes me smile.

So, 'back in the day' there was Salsa, Ibis, Fat Chance, Ritchey, Yeti, etc, all still made, if not by hand, at least in limited production numbers and captained by the guy that began the company, usally by accident cause he loved bikes and one thing led to another...voila, a bike business is born.

With most of the boutique bikes either swallowed up by big box type corporations or faded into history, there is Salsa, owned by a huge-ish entity, QBP. And there is Salsa, no Ross as far as I know, and yet still cool and innovative. Huh. How come? Why do I still want a Pepperman t-shirt and not a Yeti t-shirt (I don't own either bike brand)?

Must be in the hearts and talents of the guys running the show and I guess the folks that write the checks are smart enough to let them be dreamers and inventors and bike riders and bike nuts and whatever else separates them from Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, etc.

I think the brand appeals to riders who know what they want, are educated in cycling ways and do not need the bike shop to do the thinking for them. Maybe not first time buyers and maybe not the buyer looking for the Seven Cycles custom Ti or Litespeed, but there is a huge middle ground of seasoned riders with a medium budget and a desire to buy a niche brand that makes them feel like the old days when it was cool to ride a homegrown bike brand, even if they are too young to have been there 'back in the days'.

To sum it up, Salsa has remained cool and relevant and THAT is

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Part Four: Interbike - Let's Make a Deal!

The last day of the week long journey dawned hot and bright as only the desert can do. When we had rolled into Vegas the night before, it was still over 90*, quite the change from when we had left where the evenings were very pleasant. But hey, the halls of the convention center were air conditioned and so was Steve M's Honda, so we were good to go.

I still was walking like the Tim Conway character, the old man, remember him? Maybe Festus on the Gunsmoke program? Yeah, I know, the age is showing, ain't it? I had the challenge of walking for hours through the show, so I popped way more Ibuprofen than normal and headed out with the gang. I figured I could always find a place on the floor or some abandoned hallway to lie down in if I had to.

It is funny how these type of events go, usually I just hit the top 6 or so booths that I really want to see and then the rest of the show fades into a blur of stuff, none of which I need and little of which I want. Inevitably I forget something or walk right by the 'gem of the show' only to read about it later on some other persons report. "Hey, did you guys see the Zero G cycles booth? They had the new Sputnik XC bike there with super secret declassified Russian mystery metal that actually weighed LESS than nothing. It leaves black holes whereever you ride it!". Nah...must have missed that one.

However, this show was a bit different. You see, I was being educated by a member of our group, who's name will be kept confidential so I don't embarrass Cliff by talking about him. He is a super shopper. If there is a deal within 200 square miles, hectares, kilometers, or light years, he will find it. The boy has talent, he does. SO he revealed to me that I-Bike can be a shoppers dream. Really? I had no idea. I had never even thought of actually buying anything there, but I had not been to the show in years, so maybe it happened while I was away or I just was clueless.

Now, I am not talking schwag or free stuff, or even scamming. I mean, "Hey, are those for sale, and if so, how much?" I won't even touch on his ability to get free stuff. The man's an artist, but I will leave that be. So now, with the thought of being able to buy some cool stuff at a good price in my mind, I was in another mindset altogether. I still had the living dead/zombie shuffle going on and my left hamstring was all messed up from the nerves getting zinged, but I still managed to do pretty well.

I already posted up the Deuter hydration pack. Sweet deal. More to come on that once I have used it for a while, but I also picked up the new DVD 'Seasons', a couple of insulated water bottles, a sweet pair of Serfas glasses with 4 lenses, and the usual samples and catalogs, magazines, etc.

Now, we were there on the last day. And in the last hour of the show, on the last day, things in the swapmeet heat up to fever pitch. Bikes, wheels, tires, etc, hit the chopping block. Shimano was selling the high zoot shoes which included a custom fit (done right on the spot) for silly prices. I heard of all kinds of stuff bought for cheap. I wanted to come home with some amount of money in my pocket, so I sat, rested my back and watched the whole thing wind down.

God was gracious and I was able to get through the day with a lot of discomfort and some pain, but hey, I ride mtn bikes. That is SOP for me. Felt like normal!

Some highlights of the show other than shopping:

Talking to Jason at Salsa about his Fargo adventures and touring plans he has for next year, then turning around and meeting Guitar Ted standing right next to me. VERY COOL. Heck, I would rather meet these guys than Lance Whatever His Name Is.

The booth that had those energy food bites that looked like malted milk balls...was it Clif Bar? Can't remember. Cookie Dough flavor....mmmmmmMM!

The entire Salsa line-up. I may need to blog just about that all by itself. How can they get so much, so right?

Watching Jeff Jones of Jones bikes, yes the swoopy $$$$ Ti ones, take his bike and stand it sideways on the front wheel, then jump on the center of the wheel to show how strong the set up is. I guess so!

Meeting the owner of Rawland cycles and training myself to look at him sign (apparently he is deaf and mute) his words while I listened to the interpreter off to the side. Now I only mention this as a point of self realization. At first I was looking AND listening to the interpreter. Then it occurred to me that that was a bit rude, so I focused on the owner, Sean (more about him here) and I could see the passion in his eyes for what he does. Very cool stuff, definately out of the box.

One negative thing. Specialized thinks I don't rate. Hey, they may be right, but how come I don't get into the inner sanctum of their bike display? Dealers and media only, I miss on both accounts. I guess this is nothing new for them, but it ticked me off. Makes me glad I don't own a Specialized bike and I doubt I will again. Salsa liked me. I buy stuff from folks that like me.

Anything else? A few things I will blog about all on their own, but the rest is all fuzzy, just one big mash of lights, banners, and shiny, expensive things.

Now a couple of pics just cuz. Salsa goodness, The Santana bike-as-fence-rail booth, The Lenz 6.0 and a quiet statement of faith, and Rawland steel, not in any particular order.