Monday, December 28, 2009

Product Review:
Gore Bike Wear Cross Gloves

Last year we brought in Gore Bike Wear products. I've been rocking the Alp-X jacket for over a season now and couldn't be more thrilled. OK, that's a lie. No matter how many times I tell the Alp-X jacket to make me nachos, it invariably refuses. Silently. It just stares at me. But I can see in its eyes (or maybe its zipper) that it is saying "make your own damn nachos."

I recently picked up a pair of the Gore Cross Gloves. Things I have noticed:

  1. They aren't much good below 30°, but with a decent liner that issue could be resolved.

  2. If you get the inside wet, you are screwed. The inner liner gets all bunched up and buggered, and getting your fingers back where they belong becomes a nightmare.

  3. They really are wicked, wicked waterproof (see below, seriously, they are that waterproof)

I think they'll be just the thing for iffy weather winter rides. There is almost no point in venturing out on a winter ride in New England without waterproof gear. If it's going to be warm, if it's going to have some sort of wind stop element, why not make it waterproof? Well because it's really expensive, that's why.

Go on one wet winter ride where your hands take the form of useless ice flippers that can't operate an STI shifter and you won't think seventy bucks for a pair of gloves is exorbitant at all.

I am planning a more demanding battery of tests. With climate change, who knows when it might start raining really, really hot water? We need to know if Gore gloves can withstand such extraordinary elements.

And what if you were riding in a a tornado, and the water was swirling around and around the glove? I have devised a way of testing the Gore gloves performance in such a scenario.

I will share the results of those tests at later date.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Run Fat Boy...Walk...

M and I leave for our Honeymoon tomorrow. There will be no biking on our vacation nor will there be any blogging. Starting with this post, I will be post-dating some posts*. Hey, CNN doesn't take a week off or even a day off, so why should Big Bikes? Of course CNN doesn't take weekends off, but the entire staff of CNN isn't off bike-racing. The news might be less depressing if they were. Unless they sucked at it and liked to whine about how much they sucked at it.

Due to the oddly seasonal weather, mountain biking is out right now, and it's not quite time to begin logging thankless, frozen base miles on the road (though that time is looming). As mentioned-afore, I have met and surpassed my winter weight-gain goals. It is time for flabbage control. Thus I began running. Not with the recommended short, slow almost walk, but with a full-on three mile run. I hate going slow.

The problem with being a Demi-Pro racer on the mountain bike is that relative to the majority of the populace, I have a pretty damn good aerobic engine (even if relative to the majority of Pro-racers I have a pretty damn mediocre one). A problem arises when I go to run — I can't get my heart rate and breathing up while running at a rate that won't cause my body to break apart like a meteorite entering the earth's atmosphere. There's an analogy here somewhere, let's see.

It's's like...putting a 500 Horsepower V-8 engine in a used Pinto. It'll go zero to sixty to wheels falling off to spinning into a jersey barrier in six seconds.

But that's beside the point. The point is that to motivate myself to go on a run I needed a rabbit to chase...and then eat. My mission: run the 3 mile round trip to Dave's Fresh Pasta to get a delicious sandwich for lunch. I was out the door in a flash.

My ankles began to hurt before I cleared my block. My back began to hurt two blocks in. My knees began to hurt a quarter mile in. Like I said: Pinto. I pointedly ran by my parent's house (I'm not a townie, they moved to my town, MY TOWN!) to see if there was anyone there, any possibility of getting a ride home after I procured and devoured my delicious sandwich. It looked good, there were two cars out front. Bail out looked highly feasible.

I arrived at Dave's, where I ordered the Spicy, smokey Turkey with chipotle mayo pressed on Iggy's Rye. I then ran as quickly as I could to my parent's house, saliva cascading down my face, freezing into a beautiful drool-cicle. But when I got there, no dice. No one home, bail out was not an option, I was running it, like it or not.

I ran even faster on the way home (faster = more pain and soreness the next day and even more the day after that) motivated by my hunger, by the fact that I had to pee, and by the fact that when I slowed or came down to a walking pace, I began to freeze.

With a about five blocks to go I was a hobbling mess, the only thoughts in my brain: "Ow-ow-ow-this sucks-ow-ow-ow-I wish I was riding my bike-ow-ow-ow!"

But in the end I was sitting at my desk, eating a delicious turkey sandwich. It was so worth it.

I'm already plotting farther off culinarily motivational destinations for my future runs.

Did I just say "future runs"? Is a lobotomy considered elective surgery?

* Late edit: turned out there is not time for the creation and post-dating of all those alleged posts. There will be no Xmas post (sorry to all my Atheist-non-consumer brethren and all the Big Bikes readers in most of the rest of the world). Look for a Monday post, but after that it'll be a dead zone over here until Monday the 4th.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Look Back

Last week I talked a little bit about looking forward; well this time of year is also a time to look back. Sometimes when I sit here going, "what in the hell am I going to write about today?" I forget that I was racing bikes for several years, having all sorts of wacky adventures pre-Big Bikes-blog. Somewhere in the pile of files I grabbed off my old powerbook (just before it booted up for the last time) is a document called, lamely enough, "My Cyclo-Biography." "Cyclo" instead of "auto." Get it? I am very witty. That document is a train-wreck of a story, piecing together my first few years of racing. In the deeper, darker, colder days of winter I will try to finish it and polish it up for yuz.

This is one I've pulled from the archives, my 2006 Sea Otter Classic SS race report.

First a blurb from a post-race email thread:

My favorite exchange of the race occurred during a downhill section of trail which was completely rain rutted and treacherous, the guy in front of me dropped his front wheel into a rut
then made the mistake of trying to get out of it, the result was an amazing vault over the handlebars. He managed to catch back up to me and apologize for crashing in front of me.
I told him "the thing to remember when riding ruts is if you should happen to
drop into one, just ride it out, don't fight it...y'know if you make a bad decision just stick with it, hey it works for our president right?" He replied "ya, I'm a registered republican."
I didn't have a wise-ass response so I just dropped him like a wet baby and never saw him again.

And...The race report. I edited the punctuation, but otherwise left it as it was.

Thom P.'s 2006 Sea Otter Classic

Single Speed Pro/Expert Race Report


When I picked up my buddy Jeff ( I.F. Grassroots newbie) at Oakland airport Friday afternoon, he mentioned something about a pleasant forecast for the weekend of Sea Otter. I stared off into the distance through the car window (while a pronounced tick developed in my left eye) and muttered something like " it rains, it always rains...they lie."

I'm a broken man, I came to Marin County last December to avoid another New England winter and we've had four months of east coast March-weather, complete with snow, floods, and mudslides. Sure enough it poured all the way down to Santa Cruz as we wove our way through prime slide territory to our borrowed beach house abode.

Saturday was a beautiful day, a beautiful day to watch a bunch of severely chagrined pros churn their way through a quagmire of stinking, tepid mud during the short track event. All I could was imagine what much of the cross-country course must look like. Preliminary reports did, in fact call the course a "muddy hell-hole."

Despite some flip-flopping on the subject of tire choice I stuck it out with my Hutchinson Pythons, perhaps not the best dedicated mud tire (cough! understatement) but yet bafflingly good in any conditions and they sure as hell don't pack up.

By the time Sunday's race rolled around the weather was not looking quite so clement the only reminder of the previous day's sunniness was the bright red knit hat line on my forehead and the feeling that I'd rubbed warm up balm on my neck.

It wasn't exactly the perfect storm but it was that kind of "arm warmers or not?" sort of temperature bordering on "should I pack my copy of 'Don't Die on The Mountain" in my camel back?"

Up until this point the only purely Single Speed event I had participated in was SSWC 2005 in State College which began with a Lemans start which figure eighted on itself then headed straight up a hill. At Sea Otter we started on The Laguna Seca RaceWay track, about seventy of us, in a pack, spinning our legs like mad, looking like a flock of hummingbirds in fast forward. Terrifying.

Travis Brown sat at the front of the group, riding at what seemed to me like an oddly reserved pace, then something happened...apparently someone attacked, flipping Travis' "Kill 'Em All switch," and he rode off into the mudset leaving the collateral damage to race for second place. I wasn't even in that race, what I was in was a world of gastrointestinal distress, bouncing down the trail like a miniature Hindenberg, periodically throwing up in my mouth a little bit, my belly distended like a two week old corpse floating in The Congo river.

The course was a grueling mix of slippery climbs, run-ups, and deceptively deep and sticky mud bogs which called out to me "Hey you, ride over me, you can do it tough guy, come on, just lean back and pull up, I promise I won't grab your front wheel and hurl you face first into the rancid muck like last lap, I've been in therapy, that's all behind me baby, give me one more chance..." Wham! Lights out.

Road course my Assos.

For the past month I'd been geeking out about the course pretty hard, I'd pre-ridden it once and familiarized myself with it's "metrics" on After much inner debate I decided to go with my training gear, a 34 X 18 not the "two to one ratio" which is so popular amongst the SS racers. I figured this race was going to be all about the climbing and at two 19 mile laps with 3200 feet of climbing per in muddy conditions it would be a de facto endurance event.

I knew it was all about he second lap yet when we went off the line I tried my darndest to remain in contact with the leaders for as long as possible.

The fact I'd been putting in the long miles and not the hard miles became apparent as I went anaerobic and immediately felt like I was going to blow chunks all over my gorgeous Citron yellow paint job. Obviously staying at the front wasn't working out for me so I opted to bide my time and reel folks in on lap two.

As I completed lap one, I was told I was maybe in 14th place, this was OK by me, all I had hoped for was a top twenty placing, I told myself all I had to do at that point was not completely explode or crash so badly that I couldn't get up...sweet.

Oh that, and beat Ron Bolds my self-appointed nemesis, which shouldn't be too hard considering the fact that he is, (and don't quote me on this, I do suffer from numeric dyslexia) 74 years old, that and he races in sandals. After rounding the raceway for the second time I began firing on all cylinders, picking off guys steadily on the singletrack climbs and mud bog sections, working my way into the top ten by the half way point.

The last section of the course was called "The Long Climb Home" and I don't know how this worked out but by the time I hit it for the second time there were literally hundreds of riders strung out along that thing. I began picking my way through the mob, keeping my eye out for other SS riders, as I passed one geared rider he said "Hey, there's a single speeder just up there."
I replied "I think I'm in the top ten, I'm happy, whatever." He wasn't having it "Be happy when you're done, go get that guy!"

I acquiesced, stood up on the pedals, stomped on them, cramped in both calves, and promptly sat back down. I finally gapped up to the SSer, sort of hid out on his wheel for a bit, catching by breath, then hopped on the wheel of a passing geared rider on the next false flat. I thought that would be it for him but when I looked over my shoulder he was right there, he was on me like a grizzly bear on a man in a meat suit. I hit each climb as hard as I could but he kept closing it down, I made a move before the last section of singletrack, cutting off a geared rider, putting him between us, hoping that he would slow this madman down long enough for me to make my get away. Wrong, he was obviously a superior technical rider because he had come around the other rider and was right on my wheel through the tough stuff. I don't know what happened but I ended up with a small gap as I hit the pavement of the raceway, a few seconds later the dude comes whizzing by me drafting off a hard charging geared rider, I jump on as well and we round that last corner going thirty plus miles per hour at approximately five billion RPMs. The other SSer broke left a bit early, as he hit the wind he slowed way down, I moved onto the geared guy's wheel for a second, SS tried to come back in but clipped his front wheel on my foot, it was hectic as hell, I broke right , head down, blind from the mud in my eyes, legs flailing like mad, I even threw my bike as I hit the line first. When I looked up I saw, to my horror that there was a huge group of people congregated at the line, I grabbed two handfuls of brake, my right lever going straight to the bar, my front brake activating enough to put me into a nose-skid, coming to rest between two spectators, who caught me before I fell over.

The other Single Speeder and I tried to express how awesome we each thought the finish was through a series of unintelligible gasps, grunts, handshakes, and even hugs. He introduced himself as Dejay Birtch. honestly I couldn't have been driven to the brink of a massive coronary by a nicer competitor, a class act all the way.

I ended up 7th which was way better than I'd hoped for and had a killer time doing it, except for the throwing up in my mouth part, that I could have done without.

That's Dejay Birtch right on my wheel. The kid to the right was walking his bike in the middle of the only piece of trail with anything like traction on it. I told him to move...with feeling. I look at his face now and feel bad about it, but hey, as Paul Curley says, "that's bike racing."

If you clicked on the Dejay Birtch links (like the one you just ignored) you may have noticed that his blog "Single Swizzle." Which used to be dedicated to the celebration of single speed culture and endurance racing is now a fashion, shopping, and jewelery blog. He kind of came apart after losing out in that sprint all those years ago, shaving his substantial and unruly sideburns and growing a gel-quaffed faux-hawk. But the world of single speed mountain biking's loss is the fashion world's gain, what would they do without Dejay's "Top Ten Shopping Tips for Teen Girls"? Where he gives invaluable advice like:

"The web is a fabulous way to see the world. Using your computer allows you to get all kinds of information on all kinds of things."

That point was illustrated here today. Thanks Dejay, we'll miss you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday How To:
Make a Neck-Warmer and
Cold-Weather Yamulke Out of an Old Hat

Yesterday I was about to head to work on the bike, it was not warm out. Now I have a Balaklava, but often I want more neck-protection. Unlike hats, which ( like crappy XL white logo-covered event T-Shirts) seem to accumulate or even reproduce over time; neck warmers are hard to come by. They are not a clothing item that grows on trees (you should see the trousers I once made out of pine cones). I wanted a neck warmer and I was determined to have one.

Cold neck - WAH!

After searching the pantry for viable options, I ruled out duct taping zip loc bags filled with warm oatmeal in a ring around my neck (it would be heavy and eventually become cold).

My mom always told me not to run with scissors, "it's inefficient and you'll hurt your back and knees" she'd say. "Ride your BIKE with scissors instead."

Just when I was ready to abandon hope, it dawned on me. I have tons of hats and I only wear about one of them (one stinky hat). This renders most of my hat collection expendable. I just needed to find the ugliest, most horrible hat in my collection.

I don't even know where I got this thing.
I mean I don't remember being handed this hat
at my graduation from ESPN University at all.

I then cut off what seemed like the appropriate amount
of material from the top end of the hideous hat.

There. That looks gorgeous. A beautiful neck warmer!

Look how warm my neck is. Outstanding!

And as an unintended bonus bi-product, I also created a cold-weather Yamulke.

Monday, December 21, 2009


The plan for this morning's blog post was to do a sort of photo essay on my snow ride over to Allston last night to see The Stooges tribute band "The Scrooges." But for some reason the memory card in my camera was blank this morning. I had no plan B, and the story isn't actually that great without the photos, so I will now subject you to an almost tweet-like assortment of random half-thoughts.


I finally signed up for a Twitter account. I'm not sure why. My two "tweets" are"

"Not Tweetering...ever (until further notice)."

I followed that with:

Nothing to see here, it's all happening over here:"

I don't have a fancy phone, and tweetering on my computer seems weird when I spend so much time blogging. And at the risk of pissing off all the tweeterers out there — I just don't get it. I heard Biz Stone (blogger co-founder, Twitter founder, my former classmate, who I am very proud of) on NPR a ways back talking about Twitter. He said something about how he was re-carpeting his apartment, so for example he would post "I am re-carpeting my apartment right now." I scoffed, "Ya Biz, blogger is pretty awesome, but that twitter crap...good luck!"

And we all know that Twitter was a huge failure. THAT IS NOT TRUE! Biz (or Issac as he was known when he was a, little bowl-hair-cut-having kindergartner) Stone and I went to the same elementary school and the same high school, but while I was off drinking beer under a bridge, he was off planning world domination in his mom's basement. We took very different paths and on my path when someone tells me about an idea like Twitter I say "that is really dumb." On Biz's path when someone offers him a quarter billion dollars for the company he started he gets to say "no thanks, I'm holding out for a better deal."

did point out a very viable use of Twitter the other day. He told me he googled "Cyclocross World Cup" on Twitter (I told him that the kids call it "twoogling." Made up) and found a live video feed of Sunday's race in Kalmthout. That's pretty cool.

If the kids call looking up things on Twitter "twoogling," then searching blogger for things would, of course, be called "bloogle-ing." Of course.

Shortest youtube video ever.

I've got something kooky in the works with the Double Hop guys (more on that later). The subject of skateboarding came up during an email exchange. To show them that not only did I skate back in the day, but that I can still dust off a trick or two even at my advanced age, I linked to the video above. But I saw that in the comments section, one dissatisfied customer had written:

"Quickest video I've ever seen on YouTube. "

I was deeply hurt. I had to see what kind of Youtube comment monster had lashed out at me so harshly. Turns out the guy is a stand up comedian. Then I thought, "this guy is a stand up comedian and that's the best he could come up with?" Upon watching his self-proclaimed pretty good Vincent Bugliosi impression I realized that, yes, that probably is the best the guy could come up with.

I also noticed that the video of me skating had been viewed quite a few times (more than any of my bike vids anyway). I wanted to comment on The Comedian's self-proclaimed pretty good Vincent Bugliosi impression saying, "Hey douche bag, my video might be the quickest video on Youtube ever, but it's been viewed WAY more times than your self-proclaimed pretty good Vincent Bugliosi impression, so HA!"

Then I noticed the title of the me skateboarding video: "Gleaming The Cube." My buddy Jason who had posted it had borrowed the title of the seminal 1989 Christian Slater film of the same name.

People were not Youtube-eling "Thom Parsons on a skateboard."

The only reason it has so many views is because folks were looking for clips of bad dialogue and stunt doubles performing a Hollywood movie director's idea of radical skateboard stunts. Without the title my video would have far less views than my critic's self-proclaimed pretty good Vincent Bugliosi impression.

Just imagine if Jason had entitled it "Paris Hilton Nipple Slip."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Looking Forward - Going Sumo
(and Chelada Challenge News)

It's that time of year again...what kind of lame way is that to start a blog post, "it's that time of year again?" Let's try that again.

This time of year SUCKS. At least for riders in the northeast. Suddenly the weather is behaving in a brutally seasonally correct manner (I skipped my ride out to school last night because it was 14-f-in'-°). I told myself that skipping last night's ride and racking up a whopping weekly total of maybe two hours on the bike is OK because in January I'll be riding 10 hours a week minimum. That is if, I say if, I ride to school every day. Then of course I'll have the 40 minute (woo!) round-trip to work on Saturdays and whatever I decide to do on Sunday. That'll get me out of Sumo territory in no time right?

I do have a Jan Ullrich like habit of ballooning my weight in the off-season. It used to be a matter of 15 or 20 pounds. Now I try to keep it under five. This year I have failed. I shot up to 170 by the end of November, even before Thanksgiving. That is not good. I am now hovering the 167-168 range, still almost ten pounds over ideal race weight. God, I am gonna look like crap in my thong speedo down in Costa Rica on the honeymoon next week.

Looking forward. It is officially break time, actually I'm well into my break, I'm even staring at the ice cold light at the end of the tunnel. It is closer to the beginning than the end for me. The beginning of "training," the beginning of long, cold winter rides, where I hop from Dunkin Donuts to Dunkin Donuts (yeah kid!) motivated only by the prospect over another half cocoa/half coffee around the frost-heave mangled bend.

Right now I can't imagine getting out there and riding for three or four hours, but I can't imagine riding the trainer either. I am the worst trainer rider ever. Not quite as bad as my wife, who once crashed her trainer. This is not a joke, I may have mentioned it before. Her rear quick release was not appropriate for trainer use. Sometime during her session she reached for a bottle and woke up on the floor lying next to an over-turned stool. It's a good thing Clint Eastwood wasn't directing the film "Million Dollar Trainer-Baby," or she might have woken up paralyzed.

My trainer ineptitude stems more from my inability to stay on the thing steadily for more than five or ten minutes. I find a myriad excuses to get off and do other more appealing activities — activities like doing dishes, cleaning the toilet, and writing my wife haikus with the word poop in them (it makes up for the fact that I occasionally make light of her trainer wreck).

This is the time of year when I plan, I fill legal pads with unintelligible (even to me) notes about schemes, training ideas, potential race schedules, and doodles of angry monkeys. It's very constructive.

Wait, this is important!

No matter how much I scheme and doodle, I still can't come up with a way to make the Chelada Challenge work, I'm open to ideas. The most horrible thing I can imagine is drinking a six pack of Chelada on the trainer while watching a movie from Rotten Tomatoes Top Ten Worst Movies Ever. While periodically video taping my commentary as I becomes less coherent and more nauseous. For the right price (donate button upper-right there) perhaps it could turn into an endurance event.

Wait this could work...I have weekdays off now. I could do a live video feed (Rooter would have to help me figure that out) for those of you working, as I watch movies for eight hours (we'd have to come up with a combination of movies that totaled that amount) and drink Chelada. There might be a secondary fueling element as well. Like BK Steakhouse Burgers or something...I dunno, what goes "well" with beer and clam juice drinks?

I'd set my computer up so we'd know how far or long I'd actually been riding, then maybe I'd accept donations on a per hour basis. For every whatever...$50 I ride an hour and drink X number of Cheladas.

Remember, all donations go toward the near-impossibility of me going to Single Speed Worlds 2010 in New-freakin'- Zealand.

Yes, Fatty raised over $125,000 in a week for cancer research. I'm sort of doing the same thing. Only I'm performing an inane and potentially hazardous to my health stunt to to raise a few thousand bucks, so that I can go to New Zealand...and perform further inane and potentially hazardous to my health stunts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"You Have Crazy Ideas, I Agree." - Colin Rooter

There seems to be a surplus of wild-directionless race promoter energy bouncing around in this post-IWCII void. Some of this energy has been directed toward digging up facts about Massachusetts races from the past. Things like EFTA's Wrentham State Forest race (allegedly quite hard, which is what I would have imagined). And The Boston Cup races held in Needham Town Forest. This with the idea that someone (not mentioning any urls) might be attempting to put on a mountain bike race.

You can't just Google these things. These races were held pre-internet, pre-blogging, to find stuff out about these races you have to actually talk to people (and of course by "talk" I mean email them). Right now I have an email thread going with a half dozen people, trying to put together the pieces. In ten or twenty years mountain bike racers will be able to park their hover cars, hover inside their geodesic dome homes with their hover shoes, sit down in their hover office chairs, and look up races from the early part of the millennium with ease. Thanks in large part to jabbering imbeciles like me and my blogging buddies. I have never thought about what a service I am doing for posterity.

Wow, I feel good about myself. I am going to pour myself another cup of coffee.

Something I'm contemplating right now (see me up there contemplating?) is how to make mountain bike races more like Cross races, but in a good way. Not in a "let's ride around a schoolyard in circles way." There has to be a happy medium between that and, as Mr. Myerson puts it, "riding around in the woods by [yourself]." There has to be a way to make it more spectator friendly without making it a Short Track course (which is exponentially lamer than a Cross course).

I mean, I like riding mountain bikes, I ride them all the time, I do it by choice, and I don't suck too too horribly at it, therefore I enjoy most mountain bike races. Even the hard-tarded ones like EFTA's Glocester Grind and Treasure Valley Rally. Mountain bike races can be so hard that beginners wind up walking more than riding...and that's no fun for anyone. I'm not sure what the answer is to that problem. The thing about a cross course is: anyone can ride it. Their ability level just determines how fast they do it. And they probably aren't going to die trying.

I've always thought that it's incredibly funny that Mt. Snow has a beginner race at all. There is no beginner way down that mountain. There isn't really a beginner way up either. It's a massive suckfest even if you kind of know what you're doing.

The problem with most good mountain bike races is, however good they might be for the riders, they have almost zero spectator appeal. Most mountain bike races are like that, even the stupid ski area ones. Is there a way to get spectators out to the more interesting parts of the course? Is there a way to show them what's going on in the less accessible parts of the course? I have no answers today, I'm just asking questions, thinking out loud here.

And trailing off about this subject here...

Below is a video of Adam "Da Spyder" Snyder hopping the barriers at the verge NBX race a couple weekends back. It was a hard approach but he pulled the hops out of his ass and got it done. I'm pretty sure you could slip the kid a Ruffie, blindfold him, spin him around in circles until, he was dizzy and vomiting, point him in the general direction of a barrier — and he'd hop it.

If you listen "carefully" you can hear some mega-douche shouting encouragement at Adam.

Why do I call him "Da Spyder?" Well a few months back, out at SSWC09 Durango, I ran into Adam at a bar. He was with his posse of "Durangutans," I threw up my arm shouting "Adam, my man!" He gave me a hand to neck, cut it out type motion. Then covering his mouth halfway with his hand he said, "Dude, be cool, everyone out here knows me as Da Spyder." I started to laugh, but my laughter ended abruptly and painfully as I found myself in mid-flight, head aimed right at the corner of a wooden table. The next thing I recall is a hand grabbing me by the throat and lifting me off the floor, out of a thick pool of my own blood. Through his gritted teeth he spat "I SAID, out here, people call me Da Spyder! Got that?" "Sir! Yes Mr. Da Spyder sir!" "Do you work at Panera bread ass face?" "Sir! No Mr. Da Spyder sir!" "Then what in the wild wild world of animals are you making sir sandwiches for?!"

And that is why I call him Da Spyder.

Adam "Da Spyder" Snyder Verge NBX Barrier Hop 2009 from thom parsons on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The IWCII Race (Promoter) Report (of Sorts)

My something like an Ice Weasels race report is up over on the 29er Crew blog, it's really not 3/4 bad, go show them some love.

More IWCII bloggage:

Report and photos up at: New England Cross
2nd place Elite finisher Toby Wells has bar cam footage of the course over on his blog. Very nice!

Next Year...More Beer

Right now I have a very different feeling about The Ice Weasels than I did at this time last year. Last year I was shattered, running a fever, lying in bed for three days, talking about how "there might not be a next year." This year I'm sitting here taking notes as to how to improve NEXT YEAR'S race. Things that jump right out are whoops and the addition of a second berm mirroring the existing one. Course length has to be added, lap times have to be longer. We're thinking we should have gates between the parking lot and the Start/Finish to make it less confusing for folks to navigate the labyrinth of course tape.

Medical. We will have a better plan for medical next year. We had a good test of our flawed "system" when a Hup rider dislocated his finger. "I can either print you directions to the hospital or call an ambulance." "Hmm, I don't think I need an ambulance." Luckily he turned out alright and even came back after they popped his finger back in. When Leah Papas-Barnes went down in the women's race, I had to do the old "Is there a doctor in the house?" And then, since Steve and I were being so goofy on the mic, had to reiterate, "no seriously, anyone with EMT training please report to the PA area."

And of course...MORE BEER. What the hell? I dropped out of the single speed race with a flat at 12:30, went to grab my first beer of the day and — nothing! No beer left. Maybe we shouldn't have tapped the two kegs at 10AM. Wait a second, that's crazy talk. The only reasonable solution is procuring additional kegs from Harpoon.

Yes I dropped out of the single speed race with a flat (while running a 2.25 tubeless tire). On a course with nothing that could possibly cause a flat. I will explain, but not today. I owe the 29er Crew blog a post or two and I plan on posting my amazingly awesome IWC race report over there, perhaps tomorrow.

We are going to have to get our acts together, the write up in Cyclocross Magazine is sure to drive even more people our way in 2010. Maybe we'll have to build that "3 story fly-over like they have in a UCI C1 race." It would open up the course quite a bit and make those lap times longer.

And no, I did not drink a six pack of Chelada during the 45 minute single speed race. I am still open to suggestions on a Chelada Challenge. Something bike-related, something where I won't definitely be arrested or definitely die.

Since I was busy running around like an idiot (what other way do I ever run around?) I didn't take any photos really, but other people did, check these out:

This is special: Cosmo "Cyclocosm" Catalano's geared to SS conversion in a matter of minutes before the SS race:

A video:

Double Hop:

Of course results are up on Crossresults.

Some bloggage:
Chris P.
Steve , who has a graph that proves, with science, that The IWC was superior to the NoHo Verge races. Maybe next year we'll compete with day one of NoHo...we're coming for you Adam!

I haven't scoured the inner-net looking for write ups, so link 'em in the comments section if you find any.

Oh yes, this is important, LOST AND FOUND.

I've got quite a few items at the house in Somerville.

  • Corner Cycle windbreaker
  • IF warm up jacket
  • GORE jacket
  • Craft wind pants
  • Millwork One warm up jacket
Leave a comment with your email spelled out and we'll work it out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Berms, Barriers, and Beer -
The Ice Weasels Cometh

Where to start. Aside from a couple small snags, The Ice Weasels Cometh Part II went off without a hitch, maybe with even less hitches than last year. Things looked dicey on Friday with the amount of snow we had on the course, but due to some hard work by our volunteers, it came together. I'm going to put my thanks up front, if I forgot to thank you and you were an instrumental part of making this event awesome, it is not because I am not thankful to you; it is because I am an idiot.

Big thanks go out to:
My co-promoters Colin and Kevin. I joked during the event that none of the three of us knew everything about what was going on during the event. Like a well-organized terrorist cell, we each held crucial bits of knowledge, but if we were to be tortured and interrogated our torturers/interrogators would never get the whole story. It was just like that.

Thanks to Mike Rowell, Dave Wilcox, Bryan Philbrook and Mike Zanconato for all the course work. And special thanks to MVP of course construction: Chris from White Barn Farm who, with some deft tractor work, turned a rutted out, icy nightmare into a smooth run-in to our berm.

The Berm graffiti was, of course, inspired by Thomas Needham's video (see below).

Our sponsors: International Bicycle Center, Crossresults, Harpoon , Bell Lap Coaching, and Cycleops (and Jon Lewis from Cycelops). Sweet merch was given out courtesy of IBC. Results were posted in a timely fashion by Crossresults. Two kegs of free Harpoon beer were tapped and emptied by 12:30. Bell Lap provided coaching gift certificates as prizes. And Jon Lewis had a huge Cycleops trainer warm-up station in the barn.

My family: My grandmother, Mary Alice Raymond for letting us wreck her yard. My cousin Christy and partner Chris who run White Barn Farm and let us run over their gardens. My wife Miriam, my sister Julie, my mom, and cousin Hannah for dealing with food.

Race announcer Paul Nixon donated and set up a pro-style PA system so we could have tunes and commentary during the event (thanks to Steven Hopengarten for stepping up to the mic and filling my dead air).

And of course thanks to all the folks that came out to watch and race and support. Shout out to Cambridge Bikes, Seaside Cycles, NEBC, Hup United, and all the other bad ass Cyclocross crews that brought the ruckus to the event.

I think I need to do some processing. At the moment I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, too overwhelmed to weave this into anything like story. For now I leave you with photos and captions, more to come later.

I'm still reeling with laughter over this video Thomas Needham did to promote the event. It was more funny to me than the very funny "Hipsters Discussing Cyclocross" Xtranormal vid.

There was some magnificent meat being grilled just upwind from the PA area. Thanks to the grillin' dudes who shared some of this stuff with me.

Uri warms up at Jon Lewis' Cycleops trainer station

Heading down in the butt-ass early AM. I got to go through the tunnel twice because I forgot the damn registration forms. I sat in a northbound traffic jam on 93 for twenty 6:15 on a Saturday morning.

Parking lot capacity had me sweating. Luckily Alex jospe and boyfriend Ed kept it under control.

Leah Papas Barnes went down in her second race of the day (she won the women's single speed race). Colavita rider Chris Raymond was on hand with the EMT skills. She had us worried there for a minute, but being the super-trooper that she is, she was up and walking (hobbling) around drinking beer in no time.

I joked that "the guy on the Pugsley was going to win." Then he did, handily. Arnold Roest and Alec Petro from Team Psycho won the 4 and 3 races respectively on their mountain bikes. Sick!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Putting The Ice in The Ice Weasels

This has go to be quick. Slept about 3 1/2 hours last night and not looking at that much more sleep to be had tonight. Race Promoter stress AH! Colin, Kevin, Mike Rowell, Mike Zanconato, Dave Wilcox, and I (I could link to all those people but I don't have time...but I do have time to write a parenthetical excuse for why I can't link to them) went down to prep the course today. We were met with ice, snow, tractor torn soil, ruts, and general adversity.

Like riding on a rumble strip, Hell yeah!

Course design involves a whole lot of pointing and
moving your arms around like the Techno-Viking.

Kevin "Tenzing Norgay" Sweeney. That's what I call him.
Thom "Edmund 'Douche Bag' Hillary" Parsons, that's what he calls me.

Kevin is standing ON the course. It doesn't look like that anymore, trust me.
We've inserted jagged pieces of rebar into the ice
for added structural support and impaling power.

Thanks to a bunch of hard tractor work by Chris of White Barn Farm and some elbow frostbite on the part of the aforementioned crew, we got 'er done and it looks like we'll be Cyclocross racing tomorrow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday Night Clip-On Lights

"Oh, you can kiss cross-country good bye, he's feeling the flow!" That's what I heard when I played back one of the videos on my camera from last Friday night. It was Carl talking, the guy in the video below, the guy ripping in the video below, he was watching as my buddy Dan filmed me. I guess I was feeling the flow, but watching the video of me feeling the flow...I was not seeing the flow. It was abso-freakin-lutely astonishing how slow my flow looked compared to Carl's flow.

Today's secret word is: "Flow."

Wintah Hill Pumptrack from thom parsons on Vimeo.

Dan The (Camera) Man and Carl (the ripping little guy there) have built a fully operational pumptrack in their backyard. It encompasses about the same space a birdbath might in a normal person's yard. But somehow it works — and it's sick.

At one point during the night I got in there on my Ferrous (Dunderchee). It was awkward. The wheelbase of my bike was so long, it was nearly straddling the whoops, not dropping between. I felt like an oil tanker off of Cape Horn, riding on the crest of two very far apart waves, bowing in the middle, about to break in half and spill my contents all over the ocean.

Bryan blurs the line between sickness and awesomeness

Dan gets fast and loose, letting it all hang out. And he's a damn handsome man. Check him out. He's sprawled out on a damp-slug-infested-pumptrack with a big can of the champagne of beers, but he could just as easily be lying majestically upon a white tiger skin rug sipping actual champagne...waiting for you.

I really dug the pump track, I might have to change the name of this glog to "Big Bikes (and sometimes little bikes too!)."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ferret Legging Vs. Cyclocross

Everything I know about the bizarre and painful sport of Ferret Legging I have learned from a 1987 article for Outside Magazine by Donald Katz on the subject of Reg Mellor – “The King of The Ferret Leggers.” Everything I know about the bizarre and painful sport of Cyclocross I have learned…while competing in two or so seasons of the bizarre and painful sport of Cyclocross. In both cases I already know far more than I would like to and shall cease any further research. What I do know is that ferret legging is not entirely dissimilar from cyclocross.

Ferret Legging is basically, as Katz describes, “the tying of a competitor’s trousers at the ankles and the insertion into those trousers of a couple of peculiarly vicious fur-coated carnivores called ferrets.”

Cyclocross is, in my definition, “ the riding of a hybrid bicycle in circles (much too hard), in a park or schoolyard, in bad weather, and the getting off of that bicycle for no good reason other than to pick it up and carry it over a couple of sideways wooden planks while drunk people clang cowbells at you.”

Both sports entail potential damage to the male genitalia. In cyclocross an ill-executed remount onto the saddle can result in a devastating blow to “the Netherlands.” In ferret legging, the ferrets or “piranhas with feet” have full access to the male bits and pieces. As Reg Mellor describes: "I had 'em hangin' from me tool for hours an' hours an' hours! Two at a time-one on each side. I been swelled up big as that!" [As Reg pointed to a five-pound can of instant coffee].

Damage to the flesh of the legs is inherent in both disciplines. Cyclocross racers choose to forego donning leg warmers or tights (or even stylish sheepskin ass-less chaps) in cold weather. Opting instead to smear “embrocation,” (essentially pepper-spray – the ointment!) on their calves and quads, creating a low-grade chemical burn which provides the illusion of warmth. Ferret leggers thighs are cross-hatched with scars left by the hypodermic needle-like claws of the dirty-white animals they choose to stuff in their trousers.

According to UCI and USAC regulations cyclocross racers are precluded from using performance enhancing substances or “dope.” Ferret Leggers too are not allowed the use of dope (in their case they would likely opt more for the pain-killing variety of dope). Reg Mellor reminds us: “The ferrets must have a full mouth o' teeth. No filing of the teeth; no clipping. No dope for you or the ferrets. You must be sober, and the ferrets must be hungry-though any ferret'll eat yer eyes out even if he isn't hungry."

One of Reg Mellor’s contributions to the sport was the implementation of white trouser use (“shows the blood better”). Many cyclocross racers in the US have adopted the style of European cyclocross champions – the wearing of all white skin-suits (“shows the mud better”).

Reg describes ferrets as: "cannibals, things that live only to kill, that'll eat your eyes out to get at your brain at their worst, and untrustworthy at their very best.” This pretty accurately describes most cyclocross racers I know as well.

Cyclocross racers trousers are tight, very tight, that is the nature of skin-suit unitards made of lycra. There is no room in there for a ferret to run around and bite the wearer repeatedly. Conversely a ferret legger’s trousers must be loose, as Reg reminds us: “it's no good with tight trousers, mind ye. Little bah-stards have to be able to move around inside there from ankle to ankle." If a cyclocross racer stuck a ferret down his skin-suit the little bugger would be pinned down with just two options:

a.) burrow out through the lycra side.


b.) burrow out through the leg side.

Maybe giving the ferrets more real estate to “de-value” isn’t such a bad thing.

Ferret leggers stand in one place grimacing and sweating and being in horrible, horrible pain. Cyclocross racers ride around in manic circles…grimacing and sweating and being in horrible, horrible pain; which is the polar opposite of standing in one place and doing those exact same things.

There is a huge disparity in the duration of the events. Cyclocross races last for 45 to 60 minutes. Ferret legging competitions (at least when Reg is there) can span upwards of five or six hours. A cyclocross racer could continue riding after the hour mark, but eventually the course tape would get pulled down, the barriers would get pulled up, and he’d find himself riding a hybrid bicycle in circles around a park or schoolyard by himself, without even the drunk cow bell clanging people to give him the false sense that what he’s doing isn’t completely, um… differently-abled.

At first glance these two sports might not seem at all alike, but under closer scrutiny it is obvious that cyclocross and ferret legging are not just “not entirely dissimilar,” but virtually identical. The only real difference between the two is the tightness of the participant’s trousers (I sure am glad we’re using brit-speak because “participants pants” would have sounded clunky); the duration of the event; and the amount of ground covered during the event. That and in cyclocross there is slightly less likelihood (barring a freak occurrence) of having your reproductive organs gnawed off by an animal.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Magic/Buy a $777 Raffle Ticket
and You Will DEFINITELY Win This Bike

The magic. With yesterday's allusion to an explanation of The Magic, I feel like I should probably try to explain The Magic. Thing is, it's hard to explain. I guess that's part of what makes The Magic so damn...magical.

I remember situations when I was a kid, where things seemed extraordinary. At the time this generally involved an adult: a parent, aunt, or uncle taking us (me and my sister usually) to some (to us) incredible place. This probably didn't seem like much to the adults involved (probably because we were really just someplace like Saugus), but to us it was, that's right — The Magic.

Confusion about where you were going and how you were getting there helped. Getting out of the car in some strange and exotic place (all these adjectives should be in sarcastic quotation marks) like a Ground Round in Newton could even have hints of The Magic. Going on a hike in a local town park that you'd never been to before could seem like an ascent of Chomolungma (sounds so much more magical than "Mount Everest").

Little kids have completely screwed up ideas about geography and distance and that has a lot to do with creating the The Magic feeling. It can happen as an adult, usually when you're being dragged along to some place by someone who knows where they are and where they're going. They might be enjoying the thrill of showing you how awesome their local trails are, but might be experiencing some The Magic.

As an adult, it's hard to make The Magic for yourself. In my case it's not so hard. Basically because I'm not much of an adult and I still have completely screwed up ideas about geography and distance. Just yesterday I went for a 14 mile ride out of Somerville and I'm pretty sure I rode through the theater district of Djibouti. It looked like what I think (or imagine) the theater district of Djibouti looks like).

I felt a little of The Magic on that Asheville ride, where we rode out in the dark for over an hour.

Sometimes I get that The Magic feeling when I connect the dots on a trail system: "Whoah, holy crap, I'm HERE." Again, this kind of epiphany is not hard to come by in my world. I don't generally carry maps, I don't own a GPS, and I quickly forget all about trails I had previously learned about.

I don't know if I've done the best job of describing what all this The Magic business is about, but you may have inferred by now that it has a lot to do with being kinda dumb. Little kids are dumb, they can't help it. Their heads are really, really small. Me, I have to work hard to be as dumb as I am. Head injuries help. Watching mixed martial arts when I should be reading a book probably doesn't hurt either. Never sleeping enough to allow my brain to repair itself is likely the most effective method of intelligence-reduction I employ.

Whatever it is, I find that once in a while (and not as often as I'd like) I can see things through little-kid-eyes (I'll take those over X-Ray vision any day. Of course if I could have both, I'd take both, duh). And when you see things through little kid eyes you might just experience The Magic.

This is my Lemond Maillot Jaune Sweet-Fixie trainer. It is for sale, er, I mean if you click the Donate Now! button and buy a $777.00 raffle ticket you automatically win this bike! I know that's a pretty expensive raffle ticket, but the odds are about one in one that you will win the bike.

It's got the White Industries Eno cranks. The chainring is pretty new, it's nice.

That's right, it's real steel. And $777 is a steal for real steel. Really.

It's spec in brief:

  • Lemond Maillot Jaune 57cm Frame in very good shape (old but only used for a year)
  • Wheels: Mavic Open Pros laced to a Surly rear and an XTR (dude!) front hub.
  • Fork: Reynolds 1" Ouzo Pro with CARBON steerer

I'll be putting it up on the Craigslist later. I'll have a complete spec on that Ad which won't prevent people from emailing me: "Um, how many wheels does it have?"

It's a sweet bike, I am selling it because I am too small for the bike. I think I'm shrinking.