Sunday, December 30, 2007

Finally, A Dry Ride!!

We had compact group today. I think the threatening weather kept a few folks from venturing out with us. Little Ball begged off due to his work schedule. Poor kid. I don't think he's used to that. He'll just have to learn as he gets older. If you don't plan ahead and make things happen, you'll miss a lot of riding time due to responsibility. Now today, today he was just plain soft. He had to be at work at 12 noon. We rode at 9am. Are you working class folk doing the math? That's plenty of time to ride for a couple of hours and maybe even get a real shower before reporting to the taskmaster! I spent many years doing Food Lion rides at 8am and being at the shop by 10am. No time for a real shower there, though. I promise you, in the winter, that cowboy shower from the water hose behind the shop was DAMN cold! But you do what you have to do if you really want to ride. Oh well, I'm sure he'll learn.

Wrecking Ball, Derwood, Tim Shank Redemption, and Mr. Bikechain himself all showed for what looked to be another wet ride. But the fog only hung around for the first 1/2 hour or so. The temp and humidity were both way down from yesterday, too. The trail was near perfect. Traction was so solid that I don't think you could slide out if you wanted to. I just kept testing the limits in each turn and was never let down. When Munson gets like this, it's one of the most fun trails in town. The trail has so much flow to it, you just flick from corner to corner. Watching the guy in front kind of reminds me of watching Moto GP racers as they rip through tight, S-curve rhythm sections. Just keep laying the bike from side to side, don't touch the brakes, and trust your tires to hang on!

We rode about 20-22 miles of singletrack out there this morning, and the efforts to push hard through the more fun rhythm sections apparently took their toll. I'm more tired than I would have expected. Now, I'm sure W.B. will tell you the bursts of speed were my design to make Kent uncomfortable. And he'll try to convince you that it was not coincidence that every time Kent bridged back on, the pace would elevate again. He may even go so far as to say there was an evil snicker every time I might have noticed Kent chasing. But it's just not true. Kent and I are long time friends and I would never, ever do that to a good, good, friend like Kent.....would I? Kent led the last few miles of the ride with me on his wheel. And maybe if what W.B. accuses was a little true, I felt guilty. So I convince Kent to settle in and let his skills do the talking. Efficiency is key in this game. After a particularly tight section, KW had opened up a little gap, so with a little motivation from yours truly, he proceeded to put the nail in the coffin all the way to the next regroup. Even Derwood was impressed and accused Kent of playing possum earlier.

Everyone ended this ride on a high note. There was no drama, which is very unusual in our crew, and no crashes, which was a big improvement over yesterday when 75% of the ride ended up on the ground at least once! Kent felt good about being back on track with his Felasco prep, and Tim got to ride twice this weekend! Now if the weather channel has their forecast in line, The rain should be moving out tonight to make way for clear skies and more winter like temps. Perfect!

And if you're wondering about that random pic at the top of this post, that's just to remind Wrecking Ball of where he got passed, ever so smoothly, near the end of the ride.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Where'd The Sun Go???

I am just about over these H.T.F.U. rides. I know they are supposed to make you tougher, but DAMN! Every ride lately is foggy, rainy, cold, or all three! Personally, I don't think I could hack the Seattle or London weather patterns. This much wetness, and I'm banging my head on the wall in frustration. My hats off to our foul weather friends, who don't have a choice, and carry on regardless. Now that I sound like a fair weather whiner, I'll sign off and sit quietly in hopes that the rain backs off enough, so that I can do another damp, foggy ride tomorrow.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ooohhhh, Dirty!

Today was as promised, the perfect grey, grimy, winter day. The fog was so heavy en route to the ride that I had to use my windshield wipers. I prepped myself and the bike under the porch at Joe's Bike Shop, while it went from foggy, to pissing and spitting rain. A brief motion to drive to Munson was squelched by a long missing K.W.. We're not sure if he had an aversion to Munson, or was just afraid that if he got back in his car, he'd return home.
We rolled out in the rain with a plan to ride the Greenway first, and then work our way around to Pedrick, The Cadillac Trail, Tom Brown, Fern, etc. Unfortunately, this plan took us through a fair amount of pavement right out of the gate, and the standing water on the roads had me wetter than I wanted to be so soon. As soon as we hit the woods, things got better. The tree cover kept the rain from being as invasive. Within a 1/2 mile of the rooty dirt roads, Little Ball's cyclocross bike decided it wanted to be on top for awhile, so she pitched quite cleanly. It was probably the quietest crash I've ever seen. If nothing else, that Ball kid sure can crash smoothly!
All was well as we traversed the next section of pavement, and started through the vineyards. Down the long hill on the vineyards cut-through road, there was loud bang! I knew someone's tire had blown, but in the microsecond before my rear wheel got squirrelly and tried to pass me, I had just enough time to wonder, "Who had the flat?". Imagine my excitement to realize it was me.....again. My back wheel kept trying to pass me on either side as I slowly wrestled her to the grass. When I changed the tube, I come to find out the tire casing has separated from the bead. tried several methods to boot the tire and reinflate, but the tear is too long, and in a really bad spot. I tried to convince the crew to roll out, and I'd call for a ride home, but they were having none of it! They probably figured that if they had to suffer the weather, I needed to suffer, too. A quick call to Little Ball's dad, Big Ball, and rescue was on the way! (Now just a quick note. It's Sunday morning and nasty outside. You're warm and dry at home, getting ready to watch whatever your favorite sport is on TV. The phone rings and you get a request to get dressed and bring a spare tire to the other side of town, so that a friend, who doesn't have enough sense to stay inside in this weather, can keep riding. What do you do? I know what most people would do! Ken is a stand up guy, and I'm in his debt!)
Tire repaired, and appropriate (and inappropriate) heckling commenced, we're off again. The remainder of the ride was uneventful for the most part. At one point, Big Mark tried to tackle a tree with his head. But unfortunately, we all missed seeing it, as all these wet roots still give him a fit, so he was bringing up the rear. His skills are definitely improving, though. The wet roots of Cadillac will give anyone a little surprise dirt kiss from time to time, and at each regroup he was closer than expected.
This day was definitely one of those H.T.F.U. rides, and I'm thankful to the crew for being patient so I could finish it out!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

I'm proud to announce the birth of a bouncy baby Bicicletta! Wrecking Ball is the proud father of a young beauty named Trance. Tomorrow morning will be the maiden voyage.

I have to say, I'm a little envious. It takes me forever to get my rides set up where they feel like home, but I still love to build new rigs. It doesn't matter if it's just a grocery getter, I can't wait to have it off the stand and on the road. I'm building a commuter for my wife right now, and that bike makes me just as stoked.

Anyway, tomorrow should be cool and grey, like a good winter day ought to be. Perfect day for a nice long mountain bike ride. Technical trails to keep the speed down, and the body temp up. Can't wait. Hopefully I dotted all my i's and crossed all my t's while building W.B.'s bike, and we have minimal mechanical stops. Little Ball is in town for the holidays, and even K.W. claims he'll be on his bike for the first time since his biophysical breakdown. Should be good prep for this year's Felasco trip. Hope everybody gets in a good ride this weekend before the Christmas Eve/Day hoopla gets too out of hand. See ya on the trails.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gripe and Moan, Grumble, Mumble, Mmmphh!

Well, I've heard from everyone under the sun, "You haven't written anything lately!?". Duhh!! I write this little ditty, and I know when I haven't written any new lyrics. Unfortunately, Bigworm had lost his muse over the past couple of weeks, but fear not! Christmas is upon us, and Bigworm likes him some Christmas! We had a damn fine ride last night and my legs are still tired! So hang in there. While this post is short, there will be stories to come, soon. For now though, I've gotta go do my part to pump money into the economy, in the name of the birth of Christ.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I like it when.....

I know! I know! It's Tuesday and I'm just getting around to stories about the weekend. Tough. Better late than never!

Saturday was big day for the T-town cycling scene. Thanks to much hard work by Jim and the Atomic crew, we actually had a cyclocross race in town. Even better, it was part of an 8 race series in Florida. So there was a good turnout, and it wasn't all locals! I heard one group talking about a 6 hour drive home! Roadies make that kind of drive all the time for races. Mountain bike crews start to grumble at that distance, but they still do it. For people to drive that far, for what is still a fringe discipline here in the southeast, is hopefully a good sign for the future.

'Posse crewer, Marko, decided to give the race a go, despite nervousness regarding his bionic foot. And personally, I think Kristen has a sense of humor, as she convinced him he should be in the B race. After much debate, Marko finally abandoned his attempts to get yours truly to join him in the carnage. When the boys lined up, I took stock of who was there. Most of the earlier vet racers were in line. And most of those guys would kick my ass! Then I noticed the guys that kick the vet guy's asses were in line, too! Now securely convinced that I'd made a wise decision to sit this one out, I told Marko good luck, and went to get my camera so he could see how hurt he looked later.

The whistle blows, and the hurt starts! Marko comes through doing his best imitation of a tomato. Later, he points out that he didn't have his water bottle on that lap. Apparently it "flew out" somewhere on the backside of the course. Now I don't want to cast too much doubt Marko's way, but had it been me, after that blistering start, I would have thrown my bottle over a chain link fence so I could stop next lap and take my time looking for it! Supposedly, on one of the next laps, he had to stop and get a piece of dirt off of his chainring. He called it putting his chain back on, but can produce no witnesses. After all of this calamity, he digs deep to get back in front of Kristen. She was also in the B race, and again, would have kicked my ass! He told me later he didn't want to get "chic beat"! A solid finish, not first, but not last either. My hats off to you, Marko!

On Sunday, our ride turnout was minimal, but solid. Wrecking Ball, Kent, Cliffy, the Spanish Mackeral, and myself rolled out from Joe's parking lot. Mackeral has been off his bike so long we have to help him balance and give him a little push to get started. Slowly, but surely, his legs remember the happiness that is being out with the crew on mountain bikes. Though he does still smell vaguely of that "rut juice" we spoke of in an earlier post. We start out east and at Cliffy's suggestion, we ride the old Call Street trails behind the Royal Order of Buffalo building. The trails are overgrown to some degree, and there are definitely more forks than there used to be, but we eventually came out on the other end. Deciding not to backtrack, we loop around through the neighborhoods to pick up the Albertson's Fern, up to the Indian Head trails. I guess Mackeral being along brought out the old school vibe, so we took all the old school routes.

Now for those who have not been around Cliffy lately, you've missed a real treat! That boy has had a heavy duty case of the grouch for the past month or so. A little whining is just typical, and perfectly acceptable, but this has been another level! If you rode with him, he didn't like where you went. If you tried to go somewhere else, he didn't like anywhere else. If you called him, he didn't like how you dialed his number. You get the picture! Anyway, about an hour in, Wrecking Ball loses it after one too many negative observations from Oscar the Grouch! "That's it!", he screams! "From now on, all of your sentences better start with "I like it when...", or you better not even speak!" Cliffy was strangely quiet for quite awhile after this, but the mood is definitely more jovial. Cliff did his best to stay the happy course until we turned back towards home much too early for his liking. I could tell he wanted to voice his displeasure, but was trying to hold true to Wrecking Ball's mandate. Finally he looks back all flustered and says, "You know what I like? I like it when I get back home and can be as negative as I want!". That cracked me up then, and for the rest of the day. I was still laughing to myself about it later at lunch, and had to explain the whole story to my wife, who thought it strange that I was so amused by my pizza. Quintessential, Cliffy!

I too was a little bummed by the shortness of the ride, and the high percentage of pavement, but you know what? I like it crew comes together and I spend the whole weekend riding and I am left with all of these stories!