Thursday, April 28, 2011

Racing

It took me almost 20 years to accept the fact that I suck at it and probably always will. Its not that I dont know how to ride a bike or lack the fitness required to do well, but I lack the ambition and mental game needed to be the top dog. In a nutshell, I just dont care and realize I never did. I have always been perfectly content being "moto filler." I love running into old friends and making new ones on the trails. I used to travel all over the country to ride for 15 minutes and then one day i woke up and thought, "What the heck am I doing?" I drive all night, get all stressed out, and end up getting my butt kicked b/c I havent slept and have no money to eat, when I could be out joy riding for an entire day.

With this being said, I do have a few things on my calander this year including the Michaux races since it is 40 miles of riding on amazing trails within 2 hours of home. Fixed gear riding is the only way I can justify it. I will be at the Hundred in some form or other, this Enduro thing Ross is putting on has caught my attention. Hard tail class, Ross? I will make an appearance at Le Tour and maybe Soup-D at Hoo Ha. That is a very skepticle "maybe." Man, it looks like a lot now that I see it on plastic. Gonna have to trim that list a bit. Must make time to joy ride.

All of that being said, Michaux is going to be a barrel of monkeys...



...or just a wheel barrow full of them.

More Fotos

Pat captured some nice digital images. I left my digi at brunch along with a lot of other gear I will see again for the next next suffer fest known as S-D-S. Some more discussion of this ride here...


Dawn on Jawbone...


Roll call...




The ghost of J-Mac...


Pipe shower...


One good thing about being off the pace is you get you picture taken...



Pat stopped to capture some pretty things...


Carp in the locker...


In other news, I brought home a little friend who had his black head burrowed into my arm. Deer Tick, I will never forgive you if you give me the Lyme's. Love Nate.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Summit Fever

Sunday: I realized I had not heard a peep from the gang in regards to this ride in a couple of days so I could only assume I had been uninvited. I was a bit worrined at first but after making 3 drops of my own, I realized a solo bid for The Ring could be doable if it came down to it. Water, food, clothes, tubes, spare hangers, and a back up battery for the light had all been strategically placed along the route. With the recent rains and moving, I havent touched my mountain bike since our last attempt a month or so ago. Not sure if that's a good thing or not. Riding up Veach to make a water drop, the bike felt great but the forces powering it felt weak. As I sat at Jalisco's in Strausburg, my mind raced with questions of who would show up, who would succeed, fail and why. I felt confident and mentally prepared, but anyone whoi has spent a long day along the Massanutten/ Tuscarora Trail can attest, anything can and will happen up there.

I got to Camp Roosevelt and as I set up my tent in the smaller of the two flat areas with fire rings (some courteous equestrians let their steeds crap all over the other one), Mike and Jimmy pulled in with some storms in tow. Pat and Kyle pulled in as we lay dwon to sleep. Our gang of four awakened at 3am downed some grub and began our journey. I felt strong climbing up Duncan Hollow until I burped my tire bulldozing into a downhill switchback. It took me a while to get the tire reseated and then made a short detour before realizing I was on a trail blazed white. Backtrack and then the hike-a-bike up Waterfall. I shouted up for the others to push on. Regardless of my situation, I was able to keep my cool and caught up to the group on the ridge as the sun bagan to illuminate the foggy valley below. On Jawbone we came across 3 angry hunters. The obvious ring leader with his salty beard, bear claw necklace and meth fueled stare shouted, "It was a good day!" as Pat greeted him with a pleasant, "Good morning." Must be hard living when you can let someone ruin your day before most even think to hit the snooze bar.

I was feeling strong and comfortable on Jawbone and Short, casually making my way through some of the tricky bits the ridge has to offer. I was having trouble getting food and water in me, and thought this may come back to haunt me later in the day. On the climb up Short Mountain, Jimmy flatted after being pretty badly blown. I had a feeling this was the end of J-Mac. Lunch at Tasker's Gap then steady gunning up Wanazze Peak, rolled the flowy ridge to Woodstock Tower and kept moving North with the promise of water at Mudhole Gap. We all had "pipe dreams." Thoughts of sticking our heads under the pipe that carried fresh, cold water from the spring to roadside. We filled and chilled knowing the Signal Knob fire road would be rough. A slow, chunky, 45 minute grind in sun before heading west to the overlook. Pat and Kyle kept it rolling up the road while Carp and myself walked a good bit of the way.

I have only done a limited amount of riding with Carp, ut I had never seen him suffer to the extent he did on that climb. He was able to recover and keep with the group on Signal's descent, but I fell off the back. I was in bad shape. I tore off a hanger and went over the bars and over the exposed edge. It seemed like a long tumble and as I lay tangled in bike and brush, I noticed my right calf contorted and cramped. Broken tib/ fib? I grabbed my leg behind the knee and pulled toward me. The cramp subsided and I was able to move my leg fine. Left femur took a nasty hit and is possible still in one piece due to the rod Dr. Sumida put in place 7 years ago. My noggin got a floggin' and broke my helmet in the process. I remembered the story of a hiker who broke her ankle on the East Ridge and bled to death up there. I slowly got moving and made it to the lot where I was accosted by a stranger named Joe sent on behalf of one Chris Scott to assist our efforts. I was hardly in the mood to be social. Bonking, blown up, and broken biked, I shed my gear and grabbed a sandwich. The group had been there for at least 30 minutes already and was ready to head out. I barely got a sandwich and soda in me and my bike rolling before it was time to move again. My leg was protesting. Stiff and weak and started to push up Shawl Gap. The others were far ahead of me by now and I began to think of how this would pan out. I was experiencing something referred to as "summit fever" in the climbing world. The realistic thought of bivvying at Veach crossed my mind and then the clarity took over. Water would be an issue the next day, but above that, the fact that I only had shorts and a sleeveless jersey to overnight. I knew I had to bail or things would go very wrong. I shouted up to Pat to ask where his keys were and made my way back down. Never had I ridden that trail so slow.

I drove back to camp packed my things and rolled out. Delerious and mildly concussed I laughed and cryed my way through the valley. I wondered where the others were on the ridge and how they fared. I ate and drank non-stop on the drive home and somewhere along I-66 I checked my phone. There was a text from Pat. Carp bailed at Veach to ride the road back. I felt like a sack for not looking sooner. I was a good hour away. And then there were 2.

On my drive back, conflicting thoughts flowed through my mind. All I wanted for my birthday was to complete this one ride. Instead, I found a very dark place I had seeked for a long time. I have seen others find it and I have been at the threshold and pushed through. that point where you just cant go any further. The point where your spirit not just cracks, but splinters into a million little bit and the oh- so human weakness is exposed for all to see. It's humbling for sure. I have had my eye on the Tour Divide for this very pupose. I guess I dont have to waste a month on my life to get to that point.

The next day, I had an email in my box from pat saying that he and Kyle pulled the plug Milford Gap after being forced off of the ridge by an electrical strom. And so the legacy of the Ring lives on.

Foto from my Fuji Instax Mini

Tree boxin'...




Crossing the streams...




Last seen slummin' on Short...




Downhilling on Duncan...




Pat on Short...




Raspberries are out early this year...


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shell Shocked

This year for my birthday, I had hoped to celebrate by completing The Ring ride around Fort Valley, but instead I found the very dark place I have looked so hard to find. You know that place where the spirit cracks and you throw your hands up and say I just cant go on, while at the same time, hanging your head in shame. I have seen many others experience this and have been at the threshold, but have been able to pull through. I will say, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. I guess that is what happens as you grow old. The realistic thought of continuing on and bivvying on the ridge crossed my mind and that is when I knew it was time to walk away. I had no gear to overnight and wore just shorts and a sleeveless jersey. It was a good long day in the woods which I will go into detail once the head is clear enough to sort through all of those thoughts.





Saturday, April 23, 2011


Happy Easter...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Mumbling

Sitting, seven years stagnant and completely oblivious to the fact. Three weeks out in the desert is enough to change any man, but I only know my experience. And of that experience only a few things seem certain, while others are just clouded interractions. Some still bounce around in the old brain pan waiting for that "ah ha" moment to arrive where those thoughts too bring some kind of brilliance or change or substance. Out in that desert, something happened. Call it a vision, a feeling, an epiphany, but I did not notice it as it all went down. I felt oddly at home amoungst the deranged desert dwellers, as I shed my scaley, city skin, learning to live life free once again. I quickly adopted their way of life and saw through the eyes of a different man. Somewhere along the road, the famed "route 66" on the way out, I left all of my crap behind. The job, the romance, the bills. Nothing left but to experience all the west had to offer. As we stopped in towns along the way, I tried to see life as the locals saw it. It was hard and sometimes I could feel their pain. Seeing anti- Government graffiti on abandoned gas stations in a town that was fueled by people passing through en route to that promised land by the sea. I understand the frustration. My reality is very different from theirs.

It has only been in these days, weeks and months since my return do I notice the effect. Taking things as they come and shying away from tension. That is, tension in the sense of trying to "force" things to go my way and just following the flow of life. I find myself reaching more for the pen than the camera. An inward transition toward deliberate thought ever so difficult to capture with the close of the shutter.
Still uncomfortable, I take pause and seek possiblilities proceeding with excitement into the unknown. This new attitude sees change as opportunity making room for new and wonderful things to enter into my life. "Half full," my glass has plenty of room for things to come and go as they may.


Happy 4/20 you hippies...


Slavation lies within...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Deep Lametations...

Found on drunkcylist.com

flo Says:

April 19th, 2011 at 1:05 pm
Fuck, the main reason I ride a singlespeed is because I don’t have the coin to buy a groupo and the other shit that is required for gears. I agree, shit is overpriced. Especially when for less than the price of a new decked out mtb bike I can go pick up a new CRF450. And that fucking has an engine! Why should nice italian-made bibs with a comfy chamois run me north of $150? Why is it so damn hot here in the desert come summer time? I just don’t know. Why won’t my son just fall asleep when he’s so dang tired? Instead he just cries and fuses. I just don’t know! Why does he cry and get bent out of shape when trying to take a deuce in his diaper? Personally, I find taking a deuce to be rather comforting. Deep unanswered thoughts by Flo.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fotos Finally

Yes they are all from the fisheye which kinda bothers me, but as I have already mentioned, my primary camera has gone missing once again; this time it may be for real. Who knows, I did find my phone burried in the leaves out there after dropping it at the Jawbone lot, so I guess if for no other reason, camera retrieval will get me back out there sooner than later, however finding it on a Ring attempt would be doubtful as it would be dark, I would most likely be half asleep and already in the hurt locker. Anyway, here are the half assed images from my end.

Matt already hitting the Hammer Gel. Just the thought of eating that crap gives me stomach issues...


Chris on the move...


The sun on the rise along Jawbone...


Fueling up for Short Mountain...


Chris on the off-camber...


Lunchin' at Edinburg...


Shattered from the climb up to Signal Knob...


I was just trying to hang on for the descent...


Anyone for a little East ridge action?


The spirit rises and sets with the sun...


A cruel joke...


Next time, definately next time...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Well, all has been discussed at nausea at this point and the frame is officially under construction. The lines will be very similar to this bike having a 24.25 top tube, which is longer than I have been riding, but same length as the EWR I have been growing quite fond of and there will be something very custom and extremely unique going on up front. Stay tuned...

Sidelined

Some of the cables running through my wrist and thumb have been highly inflamed for the past few days, so I opted to take the weekend off in hopes of not further irritating it and missing the entire spring riding season. I have already overbooked and it looks like I am going to be pulling the plug on racing the Yee-ha. So much for making my return to the DH racing scene. With SDS the week after and something big in the works for other weeks there-abouts, something has got to give. Did some poking about yesterday to find some goodies for the new living quarters with some success. Megan texted me a photo of a chair which I scooped up yesterday as well as this fine grocery getter. Contact me if you want to rent some ad space...


Another 3 wheeler, this one of the velocepede variety. Couldnt justify the purchase...


Feels appropriate...


Lurkers need to post up!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ring Recap

I am slacking big time on getting this film developed and I have no digi pics as that camera decided suicide was a better option than being stuck capturing the dreary images of my so called life, so here are some that I ran through a couple of filters which revealed some amazing bits I hadn't expected. Last week consisted of endless emails about top tube lengths, rack designs, redneck styling and the like. a rowdy single track technician ready and able to act as head sherpa on an overnight expedition. I never thought I would get sick of talking about my custom bike and exactly how I want it. The emails didn't stop there was a massive undertaking to discuss, one that has not even been completed in 3 days let alone one, which our group was going to be attempting. Talk of food and water caches, start times and weather combined with the stress of looking for a new apartment added up to one hectik week for your not so humble orator. I had trouble getting to sleep that night as I was still trying to load up on calories as I slivered down into my sleeping bag under a think comforter of stars Wednesday night. Just shy of 4AM, folks began to stir, water on the boil and bags being packed. A pair of lonely headlights made thier way up toward camp Roosevelt which could only be the one Chris Scott. Most folks had thier powerful mountain bike lighting systems which are good for about 2 hours of light, but I opted for a AA powered commuter light which doesnt pack nearly the lumens of the larger systems but lasts much longer and is far lighter. I figured we would be needing lights on the back end of the trip so this would pack nicely.




A boyscout is always prepared. Almost always. This former scout just picked up his frame last week and didn't have a chance to chase down spare derailleur hangers so I needed to be extra cautious on this journey. Everytime a rock or branch passed dangerously close, the image of a man in puffy pants came to mind...


The spare hangers I ordered had arrived at work while I was starring at the one I had sheared off on Sherman. Luckily, Scooter carries a nifty little emergency hanger that attatches to the axle and I was able to make it the next couple of miles to Veach Gap where we dropped down to meet Matt who had bailed earlier.



I was so burnt I had trouble figuring out how to get my chain sorted out. Had one not known better, they may have thought me to be on a heavy dose of psychadelics, watching me try to figure out how to untangle my chain as the coveage of grease on hands slowly crept up my forearms befor e I finally just unhooked the quicklink and ran the chain back through.



Muddied, bloodied, battered and bruised, our group called it a day, but vowed to review the information obtained on this trip to begin preparations for the next attempt...




Bath time for this cat...

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Ring Revisited

Rough morning. My cassette came lose within the first 5 minutes of the ride leaving me uncertain of what else may not be settled in, putting me way off the back in the dark. I lost a camera on Duncan Hollow, took 2 dramatic spills and dealt with frozen derailleurs before most folks were even thinking of hitting the snooze bar. I re-tweaked thumb when I stuffed my front wheel in hole which has since been affecting something up in my forearm making it difficult to hold a handlebar. I spent the first several hours feeling like the weak link while I sang the new bike blues but was able to pull it together on Short mtn and those thoughts of calling it a day were pushed way back into my subconcience. Matt began to fall apart and opted to ride the road for 20 miles back from Signal Knob and met us with the car at Veach Gap as we knew there was no way of pulling out the rest in the dark. I dont know what to say really other than it was a long day on some super gnarly trails. After getting intimate with the EWR for a few hours, I got to become quite fond of it. The slack headtube and high bottom bracket made it great for rock crawling, however the fact that a 140lb weakling such as myself is able to flex out the rear end keeps me looking. Always looking for the perfect all 'rounder. Nothing like 15 hours on a bike to draw your own conclusions on how a bike fits and rides. For the six of us we only encountered a broken chain and a torn derailleur hanger. Not too shabby. The one nice thing about being off the back is that people ctach you in the photos. Here are some from Pat and Chris...

Preparations being made...


Come out swinging. Darkness on Duncan...


Miserable hike-a-bike on Waterfall...


There were a couple of rocks on Jawbone...





Pre-melt Matt...


Breakfast drop...


Melting...



All-Mountain Mike on Signal...





Buzzard's looks on...




One of 2 mechanicals the entire trip...


Mike was very sad we failed to complete the loop...