Saturday, November 29, 2008

The un-training ride...finally!

So far, nearly every ride this year has been set to the tune of getting ready for Vision Quest. So, this holiday weekend, Stan the Man suggested a Sat ride around Strawberry Peak in the San Gabriel Mtns. Sitting behind Mt Wilson and next to Josephine Peak, the Strawberry loop is a great mtn bike ride offering hard climbs, death defying trail sections best walked, swoopy, techy, singletrack in hidden canyons and deep draws leading to exposed mountain side trail with excellent views! Got it all except hucking stuff and who cares about that drill anyway? Not me.

We began with an immediate climb toward Josephine Saddle. Steep and switchbacked (arrows point the way), soon we were looking out over Pasadena toward the city of LA, barely visible in the one pic (see arrow). Say hi to Buddy Steve and Stan the Man.

2.4 miles later and 1400' higher, we hit Josephine saddle. We talked to two ladies and one gentlemen who were running the same route we were on. One lady had a Western States 100 t-shirt on. They all were veterans of that race and the Badwater run, etc. In fact, one ladies husband had been the second place finisher in the Western States run. Impressive. I hate running, but I do envy the simplicity of trail travel by foot. Two shoes, a water bottle, some clothes. Go run.

The trail begins with some real hazardous sections. I used to ride this, but no more. A good friend pitched over the side and fell 10' into the canyon only to be stopped by a bush before he continued to a sheer 50' fall to almost certain death. He found out that bar ends, a rock outcropping on a narrow trail, and clipless pedals can be a bad combo. He was just a bit bloodied and was very fortunate.

The trail gets funner from funner a word? More funner. How's that? Recent rains had provided perfect ground conditions and the weather had rebounded to make for sunny temps in the 60s and 70s. Gotta love So Cal. At 4 miles and 1700' of up-ness, we topped out to summit number one and the trail plunged down toward the backside of Strawberry Peak.

The fun is soon over after a sweet section of curvy, mildly techy canyon bottom singletrack. The fun ends because the trail turns up. And up. And up. Pushing going on here. Then riding. It is only 1000' in 2 miles, but some of that is in the first couple hundred yards and is ugly stuff.

At the next saddle, reached at 7.5 miles, Stan the Man let us know how he felt about the whole thing.

The trail drops down quite quickly to Hwy 2 at Red Box (named for a red box that used to sit in the parking kidding, really!) and the beginning of an excellent section of the Gabrielino trail. This is some choice singletrack, even though much of it is on an old roadbed and is quite wide, it still rocks. It is also rocky in the real sense and here the 29er wheels figuratively, on the rocks. Got that?

The trail is so sublime. Very little pedaling required, just enough brakes to keep things mellow and watch for trail users. It swoops and follows along the canyon through tunnels of oak and alder as the creek burbles in the streambed below.

A couple of miles of downhill, nearly perfectly sloped trail later, we arrived at Switzers picnic area. A ridiculously steep paved climb out of the canyon brought us back to Hwy 2 and then our truck. 3 hours and 14.5 miles later.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Be thankful.

Go ride.

Colossians 3:15 (New International Version)

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

How was your first solo 12/24 hour race?

A bit of a story from Ed the Tall who finished up his racing season by training for his first 12 hour solo at the Temecula finals. Ed rides a Salsa Dos Niner, was racing on the Specialized Fast Trak S tires, and is faster than I am.

But, hey...who isn't?

Sorry, no pics as you will see, things did not get off to a smooth start. This happened during the recent Sylmar fire that burned over 500 homes and shut down three freeways.

"As you know, this was my first attempt at doing a 12 or 24 Hr race solo. Twice before I’ve teamed up with one other guy, and each time I had some success. I felt like I needed another goal, a loftier one. So, three months ago I marked this race date on the calendar and began to train. Convinced I really needed to step up my quality time in the saddle, I even plopped down some cash for a road bike. Who would of thought it possible?

Honestly, I felt really good about my chances coming into this event. I signed up in the Solo Sport category, foregoing the usual route of starting off in the Solo Beginner’s class. Many rides during the course of the summer were spent on the road bike chugging up and down the canyon roads north of town. Not particularly thrilling rides, but I felt stronger, especially when I hopped back onto the mountain bike.

Last Friday (14th) was not a particularly good day and was perhaps a bit of a sign of things to come. It turned out to be a very busy day work wise and I was putting out the proverbial “fires” all day long. I had decided a couple weeks before to not go down the night before to stay at the venue site. Rather, I would wake up in my own bed early Saturday morning and make the 2-2.5 hr drive down with plenty of time to set up my pit area and spin around on the bike to warm up the legs. Friday being the way it was, I was pleased to make the decision to stay home Friday night. A good night’s rest and I would be ready to go with adrenaline pumping.

The race was slated to start at 9am. My alarm was set for 4. No problem there, I jumped out of bed and was ready to leave the house with a bit of breakfast in me and a cup of coffee in hand by 4:30. I jumped on Interstate 5 and within a few miles I could see the red lights beginning to back up in front of me. Strange, considering it was 4:45 on a Saturday morning! Quickly I got an AM radio station on and learned that a fast-moving, out-of-control fire was moving toward the Newhall Pass, threatening to shut down both the 5 and the 14. However, the news mentioned a few times that the 5 south was open. The CHP were doing their best to slow down traffic by merging all the traffic into one lane before Calgrove. As I was inching towards Calgrove, I noticed a Highway Patrol officer get in his car and quickly make his way to block traffic altogether. I was three lousy cars away from being told I could make my way through the pass. Instead I found myself on Old Rd. heading north towards Lyons. Once at Lyons I sped across the valley to check the situation at the 14. Southbound traffic was being diverted off the 14 at San Fernando Rd. and everybody was continuing sound on Sierra Hwy. So, the lemming that I am, I jump at the chance to see if I could make it through on Sierra Hwy. Once we passed the old oil field the traffic came to a complete stop. Without skipping a beat I whip a u-turn and head north towards Placerita Canyon. I quickly formulated a plan to head over to Sand Canyon and make my way into the Valley via Little Tujunga Canyon Road. A small sign announced that Little Tujunga was closed ahead. The sign gave me pause and I turned around. However, as soon as I did three cars quickly passed me, heading south. I figured it was worth a shot and I followed. I was probably four or five miles from the 210 when in front of me a section of k-rail completely blocked the road. I turned around and really got irritated as I realized that I had just wasted another 45 minutes on this goose chase only to come up empty. Meanwhile, lots of other people were soon to realize a similar fate as I must have passed 40 or so cars all looking for a short cut into the Valley.

In order to get to Temecula, I must drive nearly to Palmdale to get to Angeles Forest Hwy. Ultimately Angeles Crest Hwy would dump out along the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. It was 7:15 am when I got to the 210 Freeway. I was starting to go into panic mode. All the training, giving up the beer, etc. towards this end goal about to go down the drain. I called a friend and fellow competitor and told him to give the race personnel a heads up, I would be arriving hopefully just before the race was to start. I jump on the gas and begin to make some time, finally. After driving 85-90mph I managed to get to the Vail Lake venue at 8:40am. Somehow I managed to find a parking spot fairly close to the start/finish line and expo area! I’m literally running back and forth between my car and the pit area ferrying my gear. I quickly set up my pit area and begin to get dressed. As I finished getting dressed the horn goes off and all the competitors begin the parade portion of the first lap. The parade lap around the resort at Vail Lake lasts about 5 minutes and then all the racers head off onto the race course proper. At 9:15 I roll up to the start/finish to begin my 12, err 11:45 Hours of Temecula.

The race course at Vail Lake is a really great course, a real nice mix of fire road and singletrack. The course is just a bit over 10 miles long with about 1300 feet of climbing per lap. The climbs in general are short and steep, the exception being the first and longest climb on the loop known as the Dam climb. The course is moderately technical, with a few really technical short downhill sections for good measure. It is a course that rewards the mountain biker, not a converted road racer with little to no time spent in the dirt. Conditions this time around were the driest and, consequently, the loosest I’ve ever seen them out there. There were no signs at all of the rains that had fallen a couple of weeks prior. Kitty litter-type sand had reduced a few of the short uphill grunts into hike-a-bikes. The normally tough section of switch backs were a little tougher than I remembered them, each of them loose and would only get worse as the day progressed. The worst, or best (depending on whether or not you were a bystander watching the carnage) section was a short but very steep section of double track downhill covered from top to bottom in silt to a depth of nearly a foot. Many racers, including myself on a couple of laps, would walk this section and many others would walk due to a spill they took on their way down. In fact by early afternoon a group of people had gathered at this spot on the course to enjoy the festivities I saw many nasty spills and I later heard that a couple of people had been taken to a nearby hospital. With the day quickly turning to night the race organizer made the executive decision to “pull the plug” on that section of the course, much to the relief of most racers (including myself).

As a result of my late start I found myself at the back of the race trying to make my way through the slow traffic. I didn’t really mind this since it allowed me to slowly warm up and keep a nice easy pace. Speaking of warming up, the temps were quickly climbing on the course. The Santa Ana winds weren’t that strong, yet, but the air was bone dry. It was one of those days when your sweat would evaporate almost immediately. I was aware of this and made it a point to try and stay hydrated. After my first lap the traffic out on the course began to thin out and I began to make some time. I felt pretty good, though not great, as I made my way around the course early in the day.

Things began to take a turn for the worse on my third lap. The combination of the hot and dry conditions had me reaching for my water bottle at every opportunity. Shoot, I should have brought the Camelback. It turns out I couldn’t hydrate fast enough! I stopped after my third lap and ate a PB&J sandwich. After half an hour in the pits I went out for what would be my worst lap, my fourth. It took me nearly an extra twenty minutes to make my way around the course. Following my fourth lap I collapsed in the pit area and quickly consumed a 32oz Gatorade. I couldn’t eat anything, so I just fell back in my chair. A half hour later I woke up when a friend of mine came into the pit area with his family cheering him on. I was in no hurry to get back out on the course, it was the hottest part of the day. I mulled around a bit, worked on the bite and actually contemplated calling it a day.

Another half hour went by and the combination of rest and fluids began to turn the frown on my face upside down. I suited up quickly, determined to get in another lap before the sun went down and we were forced to run with lights. My fifth lap turned out to be fastest of the day at 58 minute. I came in and quickly got my bike set up with lights. By 7pm I had two night laps under my belt and I decided to call it a day. The winds really picked up towards and shortly after sunset, with 30-40 mph gusts blowing competitors around on the ridges. I finished up with seven laps, one shy of my goal. Next time!

The tires performed admirably, I thought, given the dry and loose conditions. In a non-race situation, I probably would have opted to run a tire combination with a wider and more open footprint, and some taller knobs. However, the tires never let me down! After I adjusted the air pressure, I was able to scramble up every short, steep power climb without the rear tire breaking loose. I never suffered a flat, and these tires roll quite well. The course offered up one section of singletrack (Tunnel of Love) where you could really get off the brakes and let the bike cruise through the desert scenery, and the tires just railed the terrain. I can only imagine what these tires would be like on some tacky, fine-grained dirt! "


Friday, November 21, 2008

Fluid Wrap up.

Well, I am staring at an empty jar of Fluid recovery drink, soon to be replaced by a full jar. This is good stuff, and I am definitely on this bus for a long ride.

The first time I used it after a hard ride, I was curious whether all this was just another product designed to separate me from my money. Saturday was a hard 4.5 hour ride and I was nicely worked. I would have expected to feel the after effects in my legs for one to two days following. Sunday I jumped on the SS Monkey and went out with a small group for what should have been an easy spin. However, everyone decided to do more climbing than I expected, so up I went expecting to feel the hurt from yesterday. I never did.

Oh, I knew I was climbing on an SS, but my legs felt like I had not ridden the day before. Weird. Was it the Fluid or the promise of pancakes after the ride? Time would tell.

Well, time has told me that this is a good product. Not magic, I mean, Lance is not worried about me now, but this stuff is the deal. Today I met the other half of Fluid, David Brown. We got to talking about what the inspiration was behind Fluid, that they were looking to help prevent overtraining issues with endurance atheletes, and why he thought Fluid was a better product than the others out there. Ya know, I am not completetly ignorant, but I have to confess that I would not know an amino acid from an antacid. But, I know how I feel after a workout, and after 20 years of doing hard workouts, I know that the day after is a better day if I put down a bottle of Fluid right after the workout. I know that much.

Want to know more?

Go to school

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thoughts on the Captain Controls and Eskar tires.

I have been rolling around on the Specialized 2.2 Captain Control 2-Bliss and the Eskar 2.3 2-Bliss S model for a couple of months now. I mounted the Captains on the Lev and the Eskars on the SS Monkey.

Check for more on that a bit later this month, but I will sum up a bit here.

The Captains:

See this signature right there on this tire?

That is right, Ned Overend. Deadly Nedly. The Lung. The Captain. I remember standing alongside the racecourse at Mammoth watching him put the hurt on a much younger group of racers like Tomac, Weins, Grewal, etc. Man, I could hardly walk up that hill without dying and he made it look easy.

Ned was the man. So if his signature is on it, it must be good, right? Well, marketing being what it is, that may not be true, but in this case, Ned did me right by these tires. I don’t know if he dreamed them up one night or rode thousands of miles to prove them worthy or what, but these tires rock. They roll well, hook up well in all the dry-ish conditions I have tried them on, and I love how the front tire steers. As a rear tire it is good, but not great. It has a tendency to ping off of rocks that land across the side knobs and it will break and slip down into a rut a bit easily. I blame that on the relative lack of an agressive row of knobs like the Eskar has. Still, it was not bad at all and has become one of my favorite tires I have run on a 29er. If you need a good XC tire that does not need to be huge (these did fill out to be a true 2.2" tire after a while), this is a contender.

Ned is still the man.

Now it was the Eskars turn. I had mounted these on the SS Monkey using the DT Swiss 7.1TK rims with tubes. I was looking for a bigger tire than the Ignitors I had been using. I figured that if I needed more air volume and a bigger contact patch on one of the two 29ers I have, it was on the hardtail SS. I inflated them to 25psi as a starting point.

So, I have to say that I was disappointed in the non-2.3 size I ended up with. The numbers were not significantly larger than the 2.1 Ignitors, although they were sporting some pretty aggressive rows of knobs. Since tires can grow a bit when they have been mounted up a while, I re-measured them after a half dozen rides or so. They went from a 2.025” casing (sidewall) width to 2.06”. Tread width grew from 2.085” to 2.2” and height changed from 2.80” to 2.95”.

They ran a bit slow on pavement, but they made up for it in overall grip when climbing, braking and turning. I am not so crazy about the way the front tire handles, but I have never been a fan of square-ish tires with a gap between the center row and side rows of knobs. It has some certain handling personalities that reward an agressive cornering style that likes to be tossed into a corner and driven out. I am more of a sit back and carve kinda guy, and I always have preferred rounder front tires.

It is a very good rear tire. I even got it all muddy and it just drove along with little drama.

I have more detail of the testing heading toward, so keep an eye out over the next week or so.

In the meantime, I am going to pair up the Eskar as a rear tire for the Lev and keep the Captain up front. For the SS Monkey, I would like to go up a notch to something like a Rampage 2.3 or Racing Ralph 2.4. The Captain/Eskar is about as big as I would go on the Lev, but the Monkey has tons of room and the hardtail SS is just begging for a bigger footprint and cushier ride.

Next up is some thoughts on the FastTraks, hot off the race course.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday wrap up

Friday already?

Well, it was a singlespeed week as usual, meaning I rode SS for my Tues and Thurs night escapades. Tues was a night ride with Ed the Tall. I felt pretty good, which was encouraging since I have been feeling sluggish as of late. Thurs night was without lights (barely got by) since I got out early, but I felt very strong. Yay! Good to see some improvement. SS is so cool in that simple and fun way, but hard enough to get a great workout in 90 minutes. I like.

Bummer note: I have one more portion of Fluid recovery drink. I really have enjoyed the way this product had performed for me and I am planning on making this a regular part of my regimen. Time to stock up!

I have the first parts for my bike light building project and a list for the rest of the parts. Mad scientist stuff going on here and I will do a pretty detailed blog when I fire up the soldering iron.

I am ready to write up the short term test results of the Specialized Eskar and Captain Controls that I wrote about on 29".com. The Fasttraks are heading to a 12 hour race on Ed the Tall's bike. The Eskars have been talked about on MTBR recently. I will keep the Eskars on the SS for a while but they are not a tire I would run long term. More on that later, but the Captains are wayyy excellent so far on the Lev. One final ride this weekend and I will follow up with those later.

This weekend I have plans for a good day on tasty, high mountain singletrack. It is a very digital ride...straight up, straight down. I am very tempted to take the SS, but I will ride the Lev instead. Too chicken to take the SS to a trail that is pretty much a granny ring ride for the first hour on a geared bike. This is a group ride too, so that is a factor. Still, I know guys ride this trail SS, so I have to try it someday.

Well, that is the week as it was. Right now it is in the 70s headed to the 80s and above. So Cal. Mercy! That is the good part of our fall/winter season and the Santa Ana winds...shorts and t-shirts! Not too good for the folks who are losing their homes in the Santa Barbara/Montecito area fire. Sad. That is the bad part of out fall/winter season and the Santa Ana winds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lumens and Drivers and Volts, Oh My!

With apologies to Dorothy from Kansas and her fears of lions, tigers, and bears (ya gotta see the movie) in the Land of Oz, my concerns of late have been around building the perfect light set up for night rides. I have an old light duo for the bars and a better one for the helmet, but both are pretty ancient technology being halogen bulbs driven by big, heavy, lead acid 6V battery packs.

One can do better.

In fact, LEDS are all the rage among the DIY (Do It Yourself) light crowd. And, I have been reading and waiting till I can make my own set. I want to enjoy the whiter light of LEDs, the smaller battery packs, and the longer run times due to dimmable power settings, etc. Plus, they can look really cool, too.

See this link for more info : Lighting Forums on MTBR

Here are some examples I picked at random of home brew solutions:

I caution you that the terminology can be dizzying at times and some of the lights are works of art and some are works of ugliness. I am gonna make my own art in motion as soon as I get the bikepacking bags paid for (will post on THAT whole deal soon enough) and save up some more sheckles. I figure that between $50 and $100 I can get a simple, low-ish lumen h-bar lights built and then I will convert my helmet light to LED as well. I am sooo excited to get them done, but I am geeky-techy that way.

So tonite I went on a night ride with Ed the Tall and had to fit up my old lights to the SS Monkey. The clamps were a bit loose on the bars, so I wrapped a few turns of the World's Best Electrical Tape around the carbon XC bars. How do I know it was the World's Best Electrical Tape? Cuz it was nearly impossible to unwrap it when I figured out I had put too much on and the clamp would not close completely. Sheesh! It was like it was some evil thing, the way it stuck and stretched and would not let me grab it.

Then I looked for the black strips of Velcro I had brought with me to tie up the cords with. Hmmm, they must be here somewhere...look at watch...Ed the Tall is on his way. Good lord, I have not moved 3 feet from here? Where could they go? back in the house, retrace steps...nothing. Back to the garage.

Here is a tip for ya: If you want to hide two black velcro strips, place them within arms reach on top of a black box and then drape a black witches hat (left over from either Halloween or when the house fell on the bad witch ...NOTE: see earlier reference to Kansas, Dorothy, etc) and I promise you, it will provide at least ten minutes of head scratching, sanity doubting, mildly cursing fun for all.

After all that, we never even needed the lights for our ride. Oh well. I will post up my adventure into LED land when I get the soldering iron out and begin the mad scientist stuff. I will be deep into lumens, drivers and volts by then and who knows what will happen. Stay tuned, and if the West Coast is plunged into a power failure, it was not me. Honest.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Triple Bypass: the road to VQ

Well, this weekend required that I stay close to home for work reasons, so in order to get some saddle time, I strung three local rides together, each one an hour+ and each one looping back through town so I could respond to any calls from the boss.

I rode the Lev. This route has climbs all over it with grades as much as 20%, averaging 12% or so. So, off I went loaded up with some left over Halloween candybars, one Gu from the Demo Days, and 70oz in the Camelbak plus one bottle of Accelerade. I must have been feeling optimistic.

Not enough food and water. Not even enough. First of all, it was quite hot. Not sure what the deal was, but it felt way warm. So, I ended up rationing water the last hour and wishing I had a bit more food with me. I did not eat much of the Pay Day bars, slammed the Gu at the 3 hour mark, and rode on.

I had a touch of an inner thigh cramp in the right leg as I went to push a big gear on the last climb in the top of the fourth hour. Huh. Same spot it always cramps first...right there. I took the last S Caps and sucked a bit more water down, feeling my pack get reeeal light. Not much splashing around in there. My low back muscles were very flared up too. This has been more and more of an issue as of late. Not sure how to deal with that. I have been stepping up the upper body and core stuff with side plank pushups, normal planks, and V sits. Maybe I can support my low back muscles better, maybe it is just my back getting less flexible and more cranky. Not sure. Getting older kinda sucks sometimes.

Back at home, I hit the shade of the front lawn and had 3 gulps left in the hydration pack. My right thigh was trying to cramp so I got up and walked into the kitchen to make up some Fluid recovery drink. Man, that tasted good. I really underestimated water needs today.

It felt like a hard day, sitting there on the lawn. Even my upper body was feeling worked. After loading the GPS into TopoFusion, I was surprised to find it to be 30 miles and 4800' of climbing over that 4 hours of riding. I figure that Vision Quest will be twice that in nearly every way: time, gain in elevation and miles. I have some work to do and I need to pay better attention to fueling the body. Leg cramps halfway through would be bad. Leg cramps have been and perhaps always will be my cross to bear. I think I am going to get onto the road bike a bit and see if I can get more miles with less brutality to the bod. Gotta try something.

Anyway, I was toast that night. I just wanted my hammock,but I had barely an hour before I was off to errands and church stuff. No rest for the weary.

The next day was chores day. Lawns, leaves, boxes, stuff, eBay ads...phew! Ya know what? I had plenty of energy all day. I still think the Fluid stuff is magic powder. I know I would normally be lagging in energy after a drag down like the previous day.

So, next week I am headed to elevation for a good singletrack ride, unless winter says otherwise. If it does get all snowy, perhaps I will spin the road bike up one canyon or another.

It all adds up to VQ. It is good to have a goal.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How to ride harder tomorrow.

Anyone can ride hard today. Just go out and pedal like a crazyman. How fast you are is relative, but you can work hard regardless.

Now, get up the next day and do it again. What, can't do it? You are tired? Legs dead? Butt draggin'? I understand. Here is a word for ya, lesson of the day: Recovery.

The holy grail of performance enhancing products is the pill or powder that allows you to run faster, jump higher, swim deeper or pedal like the wind without working too hard for it. But, outside of the kind of drug that often leads to blood tests and congressional subpoenas, it ain't happened yet. It still takes hard work AND the right genes AND a good nutritional program, including go fast stuff like Gu, Accelerade, Hammer products, etc.

All that hard work makes ya tired and uses up the body's stores of energy in the form of calories burned, glycogen used, etc. So, the next day after a hard effort can be tough to bounce back from, especially when you are older like I am. Recovery is key, recovery being the ability to restore the bod's fuel reserves and keep on keepin' on the next day.

Now I am no sports nutrition expert, but I do know when I am tired and when I am not. 20+ years of being an athlete have required that I pay attention to how my body reacts and responds to stuff. For recovery after a ride, I have recently being using this stuff:

Yep, yummy chocolate milk. I have not won the Happy Place contest yet, but I expect to hear from the bunny any day now. Chocolate milk is actually a pretty fine recovery drink (Google it if you don't believe me) and it tastes like a hug from grandma. Hard to beat that. But it is not perfect.

Enter Fluid.

I have been reviewing this for The Bike Lab and so far it has been perfect. I will let you do your own research at the Fluid site and you can read about it for yourself, but so far I am amazed at how I feel the next day after I follow up a hard ride with a bottle of Fluid.

I want to finish the jar of Fluid before I pronounce it truly blessed, and I plan on doing some very long rides this year and next. As of right now, you could not pry the jar of seemingly magic powder out of my cycling gloved fingers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on a Fall Night Ride

It occurred to me as I pedaled off to do my usual Tuesday night SS loop that most sane folks are not doing this right now. It was in the low 50s, but the stiff breeze made it more like the low 40s. It was getting dark, and the cold wind out of the north was blowing tumbleweeds across the road like some old Karloff movie, the one where the werewolf meets Dracula.

I thought about this for a while, the absurdity of dressing up like this, long sleeve jersey, long baggy shell over knickers, wool socks, and leaving a nice, warm house to sweat aboard the single speed stairmaster from hell.

I checked my headlight to make sure I had a few candlepower to wash away the bogey man and turned toward a decision point. It was blowing harder now and the wind made riding a straight line down the road difficult. I was approaching a T in the road. I normally turn left up a wide canyon for a few miles and then turn right and begin the climb. A cold blast of wind had me dodging another tumbleweed while I considered turning right at the T, looking for a sheltered and much shorter ride. It made a lot of sense, you know. No one to argue with me.

Spinning my squirrel gear, I approached the T, rose out of the saddle, and turned left into the wind toward my normal route. The wind hit me full in the face, the face with a big grin on it. I reached up, turned on my headlight to ward off the werewolves, and pedaled on. No compromise for the crazy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

This is a Mud Puddle

I thought I would post a pic of a fine specimen of a mud puddle for all you So Cal readers. Chances are you have forgotten what they look like since we have had so little rain as of late. Despite the clear evidence of tracks in this puddle, showing a history of bicycle use, I do expect to have Barbara Boxer and the green patrol of California seek to make this puddle a Wild and Scenic waterway with a suitable boundary of wilderness as a buffer. So, ya better hurry if you want to see it on your bike.

Be that as it may, the rain we had this weekend was pretty amazing and the thunderstorm absolutely delightful. BIIIIGG thunder, lightning, heavy rain. Very unlike my neck of the woods, but nothing that the plains states do not see all the time. "Yawn!" Yeah, I know, but I thought it was very cool.

So today I grabbed the SS Monkey and headed out to get a ride in once the rain stopped falling. I also wanted to try the Eskar tires in some sloppy conditions. Around here, we have tons of clay in the soil. What is not clay is sand. Pretty much no loam or sloppy, slushy mud. The clay gets to be absolutely unrideable and it will pack up the tire and frame worse than a retirement home out of breakfast bran muffins. You don't want that. This climb was not too bad, having had overnight to drain a bit.

The singletrack was awesome under the damp conditions and the Eskars ate it up. Fun stuff, and the Monkey is great in the mud with all the tire clearance. SS is the ticket for this kind of ride...much less stuff to corrupt with the goo.

A mud ride is very childlike and playful in the way it feels to the soul. I had a bit of mud fly off of a spinning knobby and go directly into a nostril, not once, but twice. I mean what are the odds of that? Ya gotta laugh.