Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BYOB (bring your own bedroll)

There has been an event that has been on my mind for about 5 years now, and with the release of a certain documentary, it has become an obsession once again. The idea of pushing my limits, to see just how far I could ride. To crack mentally and contemplate bailout. I have witnessed countless others meltdown, but I have yet to find that threshhold. SDS 2- day 2 years ago, was close, but I was able to keep it together. The pace was brutal, especially the road sections on a single speed, but I somehow pulled through. Something about when the comfort and safety of everyday living begins dimishing and the adventure sets in, for me, a different state of mind does as well. Thoughts and decisions are no longer emotional, but very systematic. A thought process I rarely experience but chase constantly. I find that many people cannot relate.

Friday preparations were made for something I have been eyeballing for sometime now. Bags packed, I hit the sack early as I knew there would little sleep in sight for the next 36 to 48 hours. I awoke at 7am threw on a backpack which contained my riding clothes and headed off to a busy day at work. Off at 6, I changed into my riding gear, consumed a couple of hotdogs courtesy of a salty asian street vender and began my journey up the canal. No matter how many times I see it, I still find myself stopping along the Potomac to take in the sunset. I figured it would take me around 5 hours to make my way to Harpers Ferry where I planned to spend the night. As I passed by Pennyfield Lock I was stopped by a ranger who told me the canal below Seneca Creek was closed at sunset. He then asked where I was going and I told him Brunswick which is just a few miles below Harper's Ferry, to which he replied, "Brunswick!?!" He just asked that I not camp until I get past Seneca Creek and sent me on my way.

My evening commute....



I thought about how I wanted to gear my bike for the trip and decided 32 teeth in front with the option of 18t (commuting) and 20t (single track). The 18t felt perfect on the way up and I found it quite easy to find my rhythm on the pedals. I wasnt straining, nor was I spun out. Just a nice, comfortable pace which I felt as though I could maintain for days. I pulled into Brunswick at 6 minutes to midnight, just shy of my estimated time to arrive, and lay out my bedroll in a grassy area, where I had no problem falling asleep. I decided to sleep here as I would be riding the road the rest of the way and late saturady night riding on country roads didnt sound like a good idea.

4:15am, I woke up, and packed my bike and headed out on the road. Only a couple of cars passed, half of which had words for me. One of the vehichles was a pick up truck full of kids who I encountered just before the Sheetz on 17. They pulled in as did I. I thought twice about it, but I needed some coffee and food to keep me rolling. Not a one of them even looked my way. I probably wouldnt either. I mean, seriously, a tattoed traveller with wild hair out in the middle of nowhere on a bike at 4:30am? I wouldnt mess with him either. Anyway, my plan was to meet up for an 8am ride in Frederick, so I got back to it. The 25 miles on the road seemed to pass fairly quickly and I got onto 40 just as the sun began to rise. The early morning clouds glowed pink over the silhoette of the Catoctin Mountains capped with the familiar Comcast towers I would soon be riding past.

As I made the left onto Gambrill Park road, I stopped to switch my gears and adjust my b/b for the single track ahead. I jumped onto the blue trail and began heading towards the bottom lot on Hamburg road where I would be meeting up with the group. All of these years riding out there, I had never taken the blue trail down that way. Other than a few blow downs, the trail was nice and rocky. I rolled into the lot at 7:55am, just as the rest of the group began to arrive. My timing couldnt have worked out better.

We climbed the way I had just come down, and I was having difficulty conjuring up those short bursts of energy needed for riding the single speed or picking your way through the chunky Appalachian rocks. I had to humble myself saying that there was still another hundred miles of riding ahead. I did my fair share of walking and captured a few images along the way. At the top of blue, we headed up to the tea house and took in the view at the overlook where we were aproached by a friendly, attractive, young ranger who introduced herself and told us she was new there. We all chatted for a while and she asked where we usually met on sundays to which Ted replied, "Come over to my place on saturday night and I will show you where we meet." I couldnt believe it took so long for his charm to present itself. She took it well and kept talking to us for a while before we parted ways and continued the ride.

The overlook...



Everybody wanted to see this new trail that is all the buzz lately but after riding the yellow loop we still had some time to kill. Lawnmower to Volkswagon and up Knuckle Buster before hitting up Kublai Khan. Tony let me lead out on most of the descents and I could hear him just inches off my wheel. I enjoy the pressure. I asked once again if he wanted to lead on Kublai Khan, but he deferred saying he wanted to watch my lines, as to not be outdone by someone on a hardtail with a bedroll strapped to the bars, but not even the allure of fame and fortune and fortune with the paparzzi's presence could convince him to ride that last steep. Maybe next week I will have to bring out my mid '70s Bianchi touring bike.

At the bottom I parted ways with the group and began the climb back up blue with Don. I was feeling rough; very low on energy and finally enterred that dark place I had been looking for. I bummed a little water off Don and told him to leave me alone in the woods with my food and thoughts. I was happy to be alone at this point as it would have been far too tempting to jump in someone's car after being offered a lift. I ate the rest of my food and got moving again, with the promise of nourishment just over the hill. A burger, onion rings and a coke put a smile on my face and I was on the road once again. I rode through downtown and picked up 85 in route to Point of Rocks, where I stopped for more food and jumped back on the canal. I knew I had squandered too much time at the 3 eating establishments in the last 20 miles to make it back before sunset, and I knew there would be even more squandering done taking pictures.

Homeward bound...



The view from Indian Flat...




Even with the 18t on the rear, I was feeling spun out on the way back down to Washington. My butt and shoulders were sore as my bike is not set up for riding long distances in the saddle. I had to make a conscious effort to keep my elbows in and shoulders down. My rear light ejected somewhere along the way but the headlight was still intact and still had juice. As I rolled through Pennyfield Lock, I once again laid an eyeball on that ranger, but he didnt see me until I was way past. The closer I got, the more I was filled with the excitement of getting home. All in all a pretty good trip, but not half as epic as this guy's...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Now that the sympathy has subsided and I no longer resemble something from Wild Zero or any other zombie movie for that matter, (it just happens to be my favorite) I out fitted my replacement Specialized helmet with a helmet cam I bought a couple of months back. I was heading out to the watershed once again in hopes of getting some footage amoungst the rocks, hoping to catch some folks getting in a bit too deep with the opportunity of fame and fortune following 6 inches behind them. I was supposed to meet 4 or 5 of my riding buddies for a few hours' spin on a wonderfully quiet morning. It started early for me, 430 in the Am to be exact as I had been prepping for a different kind evening/ day, which we will discuss at another time, so I had to sort out my gear as well as myself before heading out the door.

8AM and Pat was the only person who showed. Not even Tony or Andy posted for the ride they put together so we began our climb up Trail of Tears to head across to the Gambrill side in search of Kublai Khan. It took a minute to locate as I had only skimmed over the directions and that was at least a month back. The camera rolled as did the bikes down this gradually decending trail. It's more of a Super-D type trail with a bit of pedalling and some tight tricky moves along the way. A fine alternative to the old school DH brakeburning, fall-line garbage where any 20 something with a fat trust fund can buy his way into the fast guy club. Yes, this trail is no waste of elevation, eventhough it dumps you into the void where the blue bottoms out. Earn those turns my friend. We rode back along the road, took Knucklebuster over to Little Cannaan/ Enchanted Forest and rode some OG Frederick Freeride goodies, cameras rolling once again. Pat was trying to drop me, but I know every little nook and cranny on that trail and was able to reel him in again. I was really stoked to see what it looked like on video as I have seen it for almost a decade only from the pilot's seat; much of the time just inches off another's wheel. Pat made it through cleanly and I picked my way through some B and even C lines to mix things up a bit. We then decided to go try one of the DH trails we hadnt ridden yet to get over to Death March and what a waste. Not a single feature on the entire trail. Just steep and rocky fall line stuff. Ah, yes, I'm beginning to remember why I stopped riding DH. After 12 years, I still cant wrap my head around why people love riding trails like that. Back in the Whitetail days ('98 & '99) I can remember riding this trail called The Funnel, which was technical as all get out and I had to bargain with people to get them to ride it. They would just want to ride fast washed out stuff. Whatevs.

Anyway, at the bottom, I pointed out the spires that Poz and I rode a couple months back which is crazy intimidating from the bottom, but it is 100% ridable. We climbed up Death March and ripped the turns down Supersweet back to the cars.



No, sadly enough, this video was not taken with my camera as I hadnt properly installed an SD card, so for now, I give you a rider with mad skills egtting his bike dance on. For those who dont know me too well, technology and I dont get along so well which makes this video that much more appropriate. As I write this, I am send a text via my 2 way pager. That's right, I have done away with the cell and taken things back to 1998. I am currently in a technological regression. Next step, limiting the social networking and internet time.

Monday was a beautiful day in the Pits. I havent spent too much time back there since the winter made short work of the Tubby Loop, but the motos seem to have been busy burning in some new trail. One of these days, I am going to have to get me one of those trail building tools. The trails may be sandy, blown out in sections, overgrown in others, and not terribly difficult; there is something about the place that has a feeling all its own. The knowledge that you will not run into another cyclist or hiker out there. Remembering that I am on my own in a place I am not supposed to be and possibly amoungst others who arent supposed to be there. There is an excitement that comes each time I go back and explore new corners to ride. All in all, a pretty darn good way to spend a monday. I brought the Fisheye 2 and got few images.

On the move in the sand...



Chillin' by Tubby's...



Random chair torching...





These didnt make it out alive...


















I saw this fellow riding a heavily loaded bike so I decided to chat him up and get the skinny. Turns out, he is at a Japanesse University and is spending his vacation riding across the states. He began his journey in LA 38 days ago and will be spending a couple of days here before going to see friends in New York. I offered him a place to stay and gave him my number. Although our conversation was brief, it put a smile on my face. I hope you have enjoyed your ride and maybe you come across this page to see a photo of you through my lens in my city.






Just a reminder...



That is all

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Toys

So while I was in New York getting some re-Neducation, I popped into the Lomography store and picked up a couple of new toys. I had to get out of there quick before I bought a few more. Here are some some images I captured in the past couple of days.

I only came here for the pictures...



Interesting that it is still referred to as Chinatown, seeing as the Chinesse have all been run out...





Fountains, cobbles, and clouds...



9/11 at the White House. I chatted with the fellow manning the inflatable elephant who competed in Iditafoot...



Merry go 'round...









Jenny hates me right now...





Always a smile...



Post Terror at Teaberry: bloodied and muddied...



Friday morning...



Hundred's Eye View

Here are a few pics I pilfered from others of me, folks I know, or just shot I like. I guess there are a few of mine in there too. For those who weren't there, it was a hoot and some of these images will give you an idea of the places, both physically and mentally, we visited throughout the day...

Rise and shine!


(Travis foto)

On top of the world...


(Dualresponse1731 photobucket foto)

Poz crossing it up for the camera...


(Bob Popovich foto)

Kyle near check point 4...


(Bob Popovich foto)

Mike K. in a very dark place...


(Dualresponse1731 photobucket foto)

Putting the old BMX skills to good use. Speed jump over a large roller...


(Bob Popovich foto)

"Hey gorgeous..."


(Dualresponse1731 photobucket foto)

Thanks for the motivation...


(Dualresponse1731 photobucket foto)

Chad has been spending a lot of time on the bike and it shows. Note the snazzy new IF colors he is rockin'...


(Bob Popovich foto)

Poz made a good showing...


(Dualresponse1731 photobucket foto)

Becky, coming in hot...


(Natron foto)

The gauntlet...


(Natron foto)

Unknow, bringin' it home...


(Natron foto)

The later it gets, the louder they cheer...


(Natron foto)

The cupcakes had front row seats...


(Travis foto)

These folks heard some noise as they rolled in...


(Natron foto)

Interesting image...


(Travis foto)

The burn after the burn...


(Travis foto)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Terror in Teaburry

Things were looking bleak with a wet start to this 40 miler, especially after yet another round of pre-Michaux self mutilation. A Le Mans start kicked things off and I made sure to be in good posisition once I got into the woods. I was around 15th going in as Im a crappy runner due to previous injuries, but I was happy with it. Plenty of time to make it up. I rode conservatively and kept some strong riders in sight to gauge my tempo. I found myself ahead of some folks that typically leave me in the dust. Roger Masse's seat bag broke early on and I saw him hiking back for it. Theo was stopped along the way cleaning his spectacles, and Kyle Lawrence? Where the heck was Kyle? This seemed to be his kind of terrain as he spends alot of time ridge riding down in the 'Burg. It was my kind of day with slippery rocks and some big moves. I knew folks would be walking but I rode 90% of everything and made up lots of time doing so. I made my way into the top 10 and began to pick off riders. Big rocks moves were cleaned with ease but it was a little stick put me over the bars, straining my shoulder again, but it got the adrenalin pumping and I got back on it. A couple miles and riders later I sliced the tread on my 10th Bontrager 29.3EXP of the season. I really wanted to like this tire, but buying new rubber every month is kinda rediculous. I watched all that hard work go down the drain as I put a tube in and added the traditional penalty psi, but could never get my grove back. I bounced off every rock and finally experienced another flat by way of thorn. Poor prep left me with a patch kit, but nothing to inflate with. I rode a bit on the flat and walked for several miles before I got to the aid station; shoulder throbbing and stiff. "Main Force Patrol, we're out of the game; unable to continue pursuit..." I inflated my slow leaky tube and took the road back to the lot with another rider after spending some time chatting up Lee and watching other riders pass through. One minute cock of the walk, the next a feather duster. A big shout out to Pedro for lending me the funds to register as I only had a card. Karma paid off as he made some cash today. Nice work.

Monday: Shoulder is really sore and stiff. Hard to get out of bad, but finally findng some lessons to learn here. Im one lazy son-of-a-gun, so I ride a single speed so as to not have to do the post ride work a geared bike needs, yet there are some minor things that should be done on a semi regular basis. For instance, make sure Stan's sealant isnt all dried out in the tire. How can a puncture or slice seal if nothing is sloshing around to seal it with; and regular nut and bolt checks are not a bad idea, especially before undertaking something as big as the SM100. A couple from Harlan...



Cameron Dodge...


Stylin...








Here are some images Tomi captured...

Unknown entering the woods...



Unknown on the coals...



Your's truely in pursuit...



Churtle ruling it in the homeland...





Mark still celebrating (mid race) his win at Rattling Creek...