Friday, February 27, 2009

Built to Spill (The Blood of my Competitors)

Whoa I drink pots and pots and pots and
pots of strong black coffee
Trying to keep my sleepy soul awake
But the sleepiness still comes along
and when it does its fast and strong
I end up with a bad case of the shakes

- Jared Mees and The Grown Children

Not much time to write. Spent the day building up The Superfly SS and then riding it despite the fact that I have a nagging shoulder injury (Fine! I'll do the frickin' dishes shoulder injury). It's like the fat kid said after he ate his baby sister "I couldn't help myself".

Ran into a snag with the 140mm rear rotor. The caliper mounting system doesn't allow the caliper to move far enough down to fully engage the rotor. I found that if I placed the wheel as far back in the drop out as possible the caliper/rotor relationship was fine. This isn't ideal though, it would prevent me from swapping out chainrings and cogs at will, I would be locked into one chainring/cog combo. Wouldn't work for this gear ratio geek.

As far as I can see there is no way to run a 140mm rotor on this frame (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) so I threw a 160mm rotor and the appropriate adapter on and I was ready to roll.

The official weigh in - 20.5 Lbs. Kind of nuts. That's three pounds less than my last two race bikes and two pounds heavier than my road bike (I don't have a light road bike).

The pink bottle cage. Now Precious Thing, you are mine, all mine.

Below. Big Bike, shot so monumentally. DT RWS Thru-Bolt. I'm going to do a full on, gushing report tomorrow but I'll give you this preview - the RWS skewer worked great, absolutely flawless. It did not budge under heavy torquing in a large gear. It works like a SUPER Wing Nut. The fact that it works at all is the truly amazing part.

More on the conversion to this system HERE.

XTR Crank. I went there. No holding back on this build.

Avid Juicy Ultimates. They feel better than clean sheets after a bath.

Another snag I hit (a pretty foreseeable one) was the tires. I tried to mount up my new Bontrager XR1s Tubeless. They are non-tubeless tires. It did not work. I may try again. They are a super-light tire with a great tread for fast, dry conditions. Problem is, I won't race non-tubeless. Just won't. They'll make a great training tire if I can't make the tubeless thing work on my next attempt.

I wound up using the Jones XRs. They're a great all around, high volume tire and they mounted up Tubeless supah-easy.

Like I said, stay tuned for a full first ride report tomorrow. Thank you for reading the all Superfly all the time News.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Left to right, top to bottom:

1.) Eating clean. Although I have recently become a carnivore, I certainly don't turn up my pug nose (which contains virtually no cartilage) at Tofu. During the nearly twenty years I was a vegetarian people would ask "How do you get all the nutrients you need?". And I'd say "Go take a flying f-- at a rolling doughnut, taking a flying f-- at the moon!". No I didn't. I thought about it, and I went out of my way to make sure I got what I needed. That's how. Just because you're eating Wendy's burgers doesn't mean you are fulfilling your daily nutritional requirements by default.

2.) Top cap! The most effectual top cap! I keep a stash of carbon Bontrager top caps in my box. Only the most specialist bikes get them. Some people might say that this is one of the only viable uses of carbon fiber. I beg to differ. I collect the carbon dust from below the bench vise and snort it or sprinkle it on my Corn Flakes. It doesn't seem to have any ill effects.

3.) Squeakin' by. Barely 2mm separates my the Superfly SS's top tube from getting gouged by the brake lever during a jack knifing crash. Nothing beating up a hipster and stealing their sweet fixie top tube pad wouldn't fix. What? You don't think I'm tough enough to beat up a boy in girl jeans? I fight like a wallaby or a Kangaroo. Using my scrawny little arms (despite all the push ups) to hold my opponent by the head, drawing them toward me as I kick and gore them with my toe spikes. Then maybe I eat their face. And steal their top tube pad.

4.) The other viable use of carbon fiber, headset spacers. I keep a stash of the slick Bontrager ones in my box next to my stash of top caps. It's the small things that make me happy. Or kicking small things, like Yorkshire Terriers.

5.) Somebody (me) accidentally ordered two rear brakes. So I installed both the brakes on the rear. My bike is going to lay down the SICKEST skids guy! No. I did have to cut the hose and bleed the front brake though.

6.) Going hydraulic. Can't wait to feel the power. I love the feel of Avid brakes, I only use Sram chains (PC 991s), but I hate how much packaging those guys use. I'm being serious, look at my's very serious looking. CD cases for chains? That is way too much plastic, totally unnecessary. The egg crate packaging for derailleurs and other components. Hey, they're not eggs, they're made out metal and plastic, they won't crack. The little bags that Red components come in? Actually those are kind of useful. You can put glasses, cameras, and tools in them. I once had a rommate who lambasted me for using empty soup cans to mix paint and wash my brushes in (back when I actually made art). "Ugh, (tongue clicking sound) Thom! Now we can't recycle those!".

Should have the bike built up today in its entirety. What do you think the first thing I'm going to do once the last component is installed? The scale! The scale! Take it to the scale! You know what I am speaking about.

Precious Thing

You are my precious thing,
thing of speed and beauty
You are my precious thing,

as long as you remain beneath me

-Big Black

Today was a super-good day. A couple hours after I got to work Chris down in receiving came over to my bench and said "Hey dude, there's something you need to look at". I had a pretty good idea what was up, so I grabbed my camera and followed him to the back corner of the shop where a large frame box stood.

Last night I set up my profile over on the 29er Crew site but I had sort of a blogger's block, complete stage fright. Jason at The Shop didn't help assuage my fears "Three people read your blog (if I quit reading it there'd be two, but hey) and thousands of people read the 29er Crew blog. No reason to be nervous". When the frame showed up my first post content was a no brainer. And no brainers are where I do my best work.

I'm stoked that a bunch of East Coast kids made it onto The 29er Crew this year. We got Andrew Freye, Brad Perley, Ricky Visinski, and of course 29er Crew vet Michael Patrick. I was also happy to see NC guy Marshall Hance on the roster. He whupped my ass at SSWC07 in Aviemore, then we ate the best fish and chips I've ever had in my life. Ran into him again at The Swank 65. He whupped my ass, then we had a couple beers by the fire. I sill think I need to bottle some of that North Carolina water and smuggle it up north. There' something going on down there. Maybe the secret is in the Chic-Fil-A sandwiches.

I was so amped up about the bike I will henceforth refer to as "Precious Thing" I turned into a raging blog whore, posting here, there and everywhere.

Don't have much time for the babbling tonight, got to get downstairs and put the parts I need for The Superfly build on the Ferrous (called Dunderchee) so I can ride them to work tomorrow.

And now I will simply quote more song lyrics because I am personally at a loss for words.

Because you're gorgeous I'd do anything for you

Because you're gorgeous our love will see us through.

Because you're gorgeous I'd do anything for you
Because you're gorgeous our love will see us through

-Baby Bird

Hopefully I'll come back to my senses by tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Whenever I return to Boston from afar,
the first thing I do is a get a "Regular Coffee" at Dunkin Donuts.

Let's Get Face Down to The Brass Facts

We're not getting paid to do this. If you are getting paid to do this (and by this I mean ride a bike competitively) I am honored that you are reading this (and by this I mean a blog that will fill your head with so many crazy-bad ideas that you won't be able to help but get slower just looking at it. Oops, if you've read this much you're already screwed, might as well keep reading). What this means is that we shouldn't take it so f-in seriously.

I spent High School Math class daydreaming, designing skate parks, which I would build from stolen lumber without using a measuring tape or a level. I spent Science class drawing caricatures of the teacher farting and getting bit about the genitals by turtles. No wonder that when I come home from a bike ride I don't want to crunch a bunch of numbers and analyze data. Hey, if that's what's fun about riding a bike to you, knock yourself out. It's just not my cup of energy drink that tastes strongly of something you swish around your mouth at the Dentist's office.

Looking at the wattage or heart rate numbers my body produces during a ride seems about as fun as reading a guide book about Peru while sitting in a hotel Peru.

Sorry, time out. I'm watching all the Tour of California I recorded on my VHS recorder while I was away. They're going up the Tunitas Creek climb near Palo Alto. I've done the thing a couple times, it is magnificent. What I feel right now is akin to what a starving man feels looking in the window of a Waffle House. But god, they make it look so damn easy. Outstanding.

If you're new to the sport, just go ride your bike. Ride your bike with faster people. Get hurt. Go too hard. Bonk. Find your limits. Next time you're up against them, ignore the flashing red lights. Shatter yourself. Ride home in your granny gear - on flat ground, then pull a chair into your cupboard and eat until you feel sick. Let your fitness come up as your skills increase. Buy new equipment as your break it. Don't upgrade it until you earn it. Look like an idiot, a barney, a Fred and then rock the shit!

Enjoy the act. When I was kid my buddy would say "Hey, you wanna go ride bikes after school". That's what we'd do, ride around the neighborhood on our Sears bought Columbia Apaches with their banana seats and chopper bars, no plan whatsoever. Jamming our toes in-between our tires and our fork crowns to do ghetto endos, sometimes getting it stuck, landing on our lips with our foot still wedged in there, our legs twisted at obscene angles. We'd do skids. We'd put a board on a chunk of telephone pole and jump over a trash can. We'd eat shit, we'd get hurt, it was funner than hell.

I'm trying to get myself stoked as much as anyone. I am guilty of losing focus of the fun. Focus. Not on nutrition, abstaining from beer, or the numbers. Focus on the fun. On the act.

Let's go ride bikes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Practice

No fun my babe no fun
No fun my babe no fun

-The Stooges

My time at Work Out World, A.K.A "W.O.W."in Medford, A.K.A. "Med-Fid" Mass is almost at an end. Thank god.

The idea that as I age I must become smarter and more organized in my "Training" lead me to spend a portion of this winter lifting heavy (to me) things in a fetid basement room full of grunting behemoths clad in Affliction Wear. If I really had my shit together I would have started all this silliness much earlier. Maybe next year for that. That is if the coming year makes me that much wiser or at least not quite so damn clueless.

Whatever I might be whining about today,
I am doing a whole hell of a lot better than this little dude

As it was I got barely two months of practicing doing things in. It is now time to start doing the things again. That's what going to the gym is "Practicing doing things". "I'm getting in shape", "I'm working out". For what? What are all those muscles for anyway? What are you going to use all that Cardio for guy? Go DO something. Lift something, anything that actually needs lifting. Volunteer as a human escalator at The Mystic Mall. Run SOMEWHERE. How about running away from the gym? If only to put as much distance between you and that insipid, brain cell popping music they play.

Jesus, that opposites song, "You're hot and you're cold, you're up and you're down, you're in and you're out, you're in the Klan and The Nation of Islam...". OK, made the last line of that verse up, that would just be too damn interesting. I heard a four year old freestyle better lyrics the other day. I'm not kidding, really I'm not. I would rather listen to the sound of a splintery chopstick being forced into my ear canal by the palsy-ridden hand of Ozzy Osbourne.

Sylvester Stallone quite possibly said one of the dumbest things I've ever heard (NO, I don't believe it!) regarding sport. Something about how you can go around playing Tennis or Soccer or whatever but the thing that makes you feel really good is LIFTING. That's the stuff. Most serious Tennis and Soccer players lift...then they actually go DO something with their useful, not all veiny, weird, and knobbly muscles. I guess Sly does something too. He lifts heavy things so he can look and act like someone who actually does things when some crack-smoking Hollywood producer hallucinates another loathsome vehicle for him to star in.

This is my way of saying, in way too many words, that I've had enough with the practice, it's time to get on with doing what I do to get better at doing what I do.

Speaking of loathsome vehicles...
The rental agency said we scratched the car
. Kind of nit-picky don't you think?

Friday, February 20, 2009

I don't wanna be on the beach

Sand is hurting my tender feet
The air smells like rotting fish and solarcaine
I hate the people on the beach
With their towels and umbrellas
They're so insane

-The Dead Milkmen

"What makes people most unhappy? Not work, but commuting to work."

-Enrique Peñalosa

For weeks I've been meaning to link to this article about former Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa
and add some sort of poignant commentary, but since that isn't really what I do here the task has proven daunting. What do I do here anyway? That's a good question. Now I will link to the article, ramble around, say something stupid, possibly something a little crazy, get on with my life, and let you go read a about a truly excellent human being.

In the above quote Peñalosa is talking about commuting to work by car primarily, but that statement could apply to buses or trains as well. If you commute to work by bicycle you are adding time to your day and your life, not subtracting it. I know it may seem like I hate commuting by bike some days, but I really wouldn't have it any other way, the alternative is ever so much more horrible.

He strikes a chord with me when he talks about Hedonics "an economic philosophy whose proponents focus on fostering not economic growth but human happiness". The happiness part is all I've got, so I better freakin' focus on it. It touches on something my buddy Pete and I often discussed while I was living like a refugee in Fairfax, CA - Standard of Living Vs. Quality of Life. If you have all the money in the world but no time to use it you may have the former but lack the latter. The only time most people have both money and time to use it is at retirement (if they're lucky...or come from money). What's the point of visiting Machu Pechu if you're relegated to using a Walker?

Oh ya, the title of the post and the Dead Milkmen quote...we're still in St. Maarten and this blogging is eating into my valuable sitting at the beach, doing nothing and going out of my god damn gourd time. Yesterday wasn't actually that bad, the weather got a little gnarly, whipping the waves into a frenzy which made for some good body surfing. One wave picked me up like Randy "The Ram" Johnson (if you haven't seen the Wrestler, do it, it is excellent) and body slammed me to the sand. Laying in bed last night, sore from my overzealous running and wave wrestling, I felt content. My bedtime daydreams of the new bike which is, as I speak with my hands like Terminator X , already in a box and on its way to me now didn't hurt either.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It Is Officially On,

the 2009 season that is. I did sign up for Battenkill a few weeks but that is, despite the fact that it boasts a bit of dirt road, a road race and therefore not enough to give me motivation to start riding my bike wicked, wicked hard. I’ve signed up for The EFTA King of Burlingame race which is an off-road time trial and I now have the impetus to get off my ass and get going with the training.

The training. Miriam asked me to put her on “a plan” to get her ready for the Cohutta 100 and whatever other races she chooses to do this season. Funny, I’m going to spend time thinking about Base, Building, Periodization, and Peaking for her while my “Plan” involves getting less fat, doing lots of push-ups, drinking less beer (that may fall under the getting less fat category), possibly drinking less coffee (we’ll see about that), riding my mountain bike in the woods in the morning then commuting to work on my Fix-ed Gear. I’m not using the heart rate monitors, the power meters, or even the Rating of Perceived exertions. What I’m using is Rating of Perceived Fun. If it ain’t fun, I ain’t doin’ it (jesus Christ spellcheck, don’t start with me, I’m only half way through my first cup of coffee).


Don’t let this happen to you. When I clicked on the link from the EFTA site for the King of Burlingame TT I was sent to this page which is the page for last year’s race so of course it says ONLINE REGISTRATION IS CLOSED. Which is a scary thing to see when you really want to do a particular race. If you don’t want to see that page go HERE and register now. Thanks to a violently virulent stomach bug I was not able to attend last year’s event but I hear it was awesome.

A Shrine in Marigot to Bob Marley or some Guess model

In other news I just had a positive experience while running. And The Pope decided he would stop wearing a funny hat and sport a “Life is Good” baseball cap from now on. The first thing was true, the second…not so much. I was out running around in the rain on the narrow, rolling roads near the place we’re staying here in St. Maarten, dodging silly little mini-mini vans.


When the first drops hit that thing happened where all the oil in the road rises to the top making it slicker than hell. This poor little work truck was spinning out trying to get up what was probably a 10% or so grade (the road to our place is more like 17-20% in spots, luckily we have good tires on the van) I mean smoking his tires and going absolutely nowhere with traffic redirecting around him. He was beyond hope so I just watched over my shoulder as I ran in the opposite direction. Eventually he fish-tailed his way over to the shoulder so one tire was in the ditch, rooster tails of dirt flying everywhere. This was enough to get him going again, up and over the top of the hill. If it ever snowed here…scary f-in thought.

M and I went out for a lovely romantical dinner in Marigot

The rain started coming down pretty damn hard on the return trip as I thudded downhill into a headwind. The shoulder I was running on was about as technical as a sidewalk gets, chunks of broken glass, assorted debris, and low hanging branches, I was focused on what I was doing, not spacing out and thinking about a billion other things. At some point I decided it was a good idea to take my shirt off because it was all sagging and weighing me down. It was an excellent feeling, the rain beating down on me, the wind whipping through my 3mm of hair, I think I was actually enjoying myself. Maybe the Pope’s new hat is right, maybe life is good.

When we got back to the house the gate keeper was asleep so Miriam opened the gate. The sleepy guard walked out and shot her in the back, I'm really sad now, I have to find a new future wife.

Wild horses. Either the owner of these guys had let them out to graze by a narrow-ass busy road or they were on the loose.

Either way it was a cool and eerie thing to see while driving late at night in St. Maarten

Does this one need a caption?
No Sane Person Could Possibly
Enjoy Themselves

The title of this post is a quote borrowed from IBC rider John Fennel. He uttered it while he and I were discussing resort type vacations on a ride the other day. I thoroughly enjoy his sardonic wit.

Doing absolutely nothing for an extended period of time as a form of enjoyment is something I’ve never understood. Someone once said “You can’t relax your way to happiness” (or I hallucinated the fact that someone said it, Google isn’t being very helpful today). To properly enjoy myself I must first thoroughly flagellate…myself, then I can relax. Going on a week vacation with the focus on sitting at the beach drinking cocktails and occasionally going for a swim is enough to drive me half batty.

It’s not my idea of a good time but I’m not footing the bill, so like the time that millionaire paid me to have breast augmentation, I’m going to roll with it. I’ll do anything for the right price. That one didn’t really work out for me though. Selling a kidney on the Blackmarket to pay for elective breast reduction surgery is no one’s idea of ideal. I could be wrong, I don’t get out much.

And now I post photos of my Salt-Barnacle encrusted bike because I miss it and, in a totally perverse way, the horrible New England weather.

The Race Blades they give adequate, not complete coverage, my seat tube suffers for it

Mini Moonscape on the backside of my fork

White Cranks, so many nooks and crannies to clean

The bottom bracket, it's like the dirty butt of your bike

Why such a perfectly isolated area of crustiness? I have no eye deer

It's nice to come home to a clean house. I'll only be coming home to a clean bike.
Which is still nice.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Running is horrible, Pancakes are Wonderful

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m off the bike for a week, on a “no bike vacation”. M and I are down in St. Martin with her family doing some hardcore chilling out. We had planned to rent bicycles (Trek 7.1 FXs) but upon arriving on the island we realized that this was not a brilliant idea. The hill leading up to the house we’re staying in is RIDICULOUS, I mean it is hard to walk down without slipping and falling on your ass- and it’s paved. When driving a car up it you peel out around every corner like the follow cars during the mountain stages of The Vuelta A Espana. You actually have this awful sensation that the van is going to stall out and begin rolling backwards, out of control. By the time you reach the top the car smells like burning.

Run to The Hills

The roads are also so narrow that two cars can barely pass each other (which is an improvement over some of the roads in Cambridge and Somerville – the “One way two way” streets where you actually have to pull off to let an oncoming car by) so we opted out of bike rentals in favor of the abhorrent and miserable act of running.

Yesterday morning we scaled our way down to the bottom of the hill and ran/walked back up. It was an intense workout, very pure and apparently the fact that we were doing this was enough of an anomaly to stop locals in their tracks and cause them to stare and cheer. I’m not sure how this will translate into cycling fitness but at the very least it will help keep me from packing on several pounds of beer weight.

Koko. That chimp's alright. High-five

Alright, I have to go show off my mottled and bizarre sunburn down at Dawn Beach. Yesterday I was walking through the bar area down there, all these people were staring at me, I was all “Ya, they’re checking out my amazing cyclist’s physique” (push ups don’t put any bulk on this guy’s arms…the video is forthcoming Solo). Then I get into the restroom and take a gander at my chest in the mirror. I looked like an abstract painting done in reds and whites straight from the tube by a baby Gorilla. Cartoonish hand prints on my shoulders and arms, strange geometric patterns continuing down my legs. My future Brother-in-law (who’s background is in medicine) described the burns as “Angry” . They felt angry that night as I attempted to sleep, I felt like I had touched my right elbow, my knee, and my shoulder to a hot stove in some freak pancake-making accident.

Pancakes…time for breakfast.

Scrabble is not a drinking game

Monday, February 16, 2009

From The Archives

'm away on a non-bicycle-related vacation so I've dug this one out of the pre-Big Bikes archives. This was an email I sent out to some friends after a particularly eventful New Year's Day group ride out in Marin, CA a few years back. Please excuse the formatting and glaring flaws, I chose not to edit it at all and leave it in its original, somewhat raw state

New Year's Day 2006.

Once upon a time the idea of waking up at 8AM on New Year's Day would
have seemed anathema to me, today it just seemed incredibly painful.
Prior to the scheduled ride I had to install a new front derailleur
on Mo's bike and take a hike up the street to get some photos of the
massive mudslide which had taken out a large gazebo, two SUVS, and a
Mercedes, as well as partially destroying a 2 million dollar home. I
managed to pull all this off with a couple minutes to spare, none the
less we still somehow showed up so late to the ride that it was coming
toward us as we rolled into to downtown Fairfax. I was shocked, it was
a pretty huge crew, especially for a rainy cold day, a rainy cold new
year's day morning no less, the final head count was 17.

Like all rides in Marin this one began with a couple hours of
climbing, immediately the group became strung out, I followed Ron and
"Crazy" Andy (thus called due to the fact that he is known to ride a
fixed gear on mt. bike rides in a pair of SPD sandals and crash a
lot) the three of us were on single speeds so the climbing pace was
more comfortable. The slower you go, the more you grind. At the top of
the climb we had to wait a while for the full crew to assemble.

Bringing in the rear was a guy in a full face helmet, complete body
armor, with a fluorescent yellow rain cover over his huge backpack,
all that and he's riding a ten year old hard tail with rim brakes.
From the get go I knew this guy was trouble. We dubbed him "Full Face
Fred" as in "who are we waiting for?" "oh, just Full Face Fred". And
wait we did.

As the ride progressed it ended up being me and Ron on the front,
him leading and me holding on for dear life. Don't think I mentioned
that Ron is 46, 46 but with
3% body fat, total Ned Overend type.
After what seemed like hours, oh wait, it was hours we arrived at
the top the climb,
my legs officially ripped off. When the group was intact the "Candy
Juice" emerged,
a concoction of Ron's rumored to be based in Swiss Rum. Whatever it is
it looks like brake fluid and tastes like, well... brake fluid.
Properly hydrated we started the traverse i.e. the fun part. Here Pete
went to the front, I took up a position a few folks back, virtually
everyone in this group was an unknown to me and I didn't want to get
in anyone's way. This traverse is pretty hairy on a good day, but
after the storms and mudslides new elements were added to the
equation: head-high blown down branches,
unridable-killyadead-washouts, and sections of trail blocked by
tangles of full-size trees washed downhill by the slides. We had only
had one guy go over the edge and he was able to arrest his fall on
some shrubbery and escape unscathed.

We came to the true downhill portion of the ride and waited for Full
Face Fred.
Now here I thought we'd see Fred's true power, I thought that although
he was upwardly challenged that perhaps he was a sort of down hill
thriller, waiting in the wings to school us all on the descent. After
witnessing him ride down a wet staircase with his brakes fully locked,
front wheel twitching back and forth, rear wheel levitating, barely
getting away with it, I knew this was far from the case.
I was able to stay almost within site of Pete on the real nasty
stuff, dabbing several times, sliding through some sections one foot
out, letting out all kinds of bizarre vocalizations, but never
completely coming off the bike.

As we waited at the next juncture two hikers with telescopic hiking
poles, high-gaiters, and wide-brimmed hats came bearing down on us,
I'd heard that these were the type of people who might give a mountain
biker a hard time...sure enough
"Did one of you see a large mushroom back there, pick it, and then
throw it in the air?" "no, why?" "oh, because a large mushroom just
mysteriously fell out of the sky and hit her on the head". Just like a
mountain biker to a.) notice a mushroom while traveling at 20-30mph
b.) come to a screeching halt to pick it, and c.) hurl it high in the
air in the hopes of clocking some Sierra Clubber in the head. I
imagined the type of grief they'd give us would be more along the
lines of "you're causing erosion
by riding in the rain" or "your squealing brakes scare the newts" but
this, this was just surreal, I mean what were the odds of that
mushroom I threw actually hitting someone in the head? I joke.

At the next regrouping point we came up two riders short, Alan,
another sandal and no sock wearing guy, and Full Face Fred were
unaccounted for.
One of the adventure racers on the ride decided to run back and try to
find Fred.

Ron and I rode upward to the next fire road intersection, and anyone
with cell reception tried to call Alan, no one had a number for Fred.
This is when the rain really began to come down, we were all wet, out
of food, pretty much out of water,
and completely ready to get down to Iron Springs Brewing Company and
eat fried food. After close to an hour of searching, calling, and
cursing we came up with nothing,
so we split into groups and descended the mountain in several
different directions,
hoping to run into our errant riders. Pete, Ron, and I were the first
back to Fred's Fred.

We went back to the house to get dried
out, when the next group arrived at the parking lot, Alan had turned
up, but still, no Fred. So Pete got on the phone with search and
rescue, just putting out Fred's description, Pete: "ya, red full-face
helmet, fluorescent yellow windbreaker, body armor..." Dispatcher:
"sir, sir can you describe his face?" Pete: "Mam he's wearing a BRIGHT
RED full-face helmet" Dispatcher: "that doesn't help me" Pete: "are
you serious?".
It went on like that for quite a while.

Eventually one of the other riders found Fred at a parking lot very
far from where his truck was on the west side of Mt. Tam. Initially
Full Face refused a ride back
saying he "wasn't a quitter" and that he'd "been lost on a motorcycle
in the Mojave desert", apparently he had a wealth of experience when
it came to getting lost.
This was evident by some of the decisions he made after becoming
separated from the group. First off he didn't stay put, then he
followed a stream because "water flows down hill" (which hill?), and
my favorite: he came to a lake and it was dark to the right and light
to the left so he naturally went left. Of course this took him in
precisely the opposite direction of where he wanted to go, it was well
past noon and he wanted to go east, the "dark" direction...jackass.

After being informed that search and rescue was about to go out
looking for him and that fifteen people were waiting around expecting
to hear that the rangers had found a fully armored body he acquiesced
and took the ride back to his truck.
Altogether a great ride to start the new year, I mean what's an epic
ride without a call to search and rescue? Can't remember the last time
that happened on a group ride in the Fells.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Gone A-Visitin'

That's what I did today (we'll get to the creepy dead birds in a minute). Me and M are heading out on vacation next week (don't worry I have a week's worth of "Very Special" Big Bikes posts waiting in the wings, hopefully I'll get to put them up) so I had to go see some family and do a good sized base ride. I've gone with the low cadence, big gear sort of endurance riding this year. Oh ya, I was out on the proper road bike, The De Rosa UD (Rhymes with THUD! Not really). Been doing so much spinning on the Fix-ed gear it was nice to go out and grind my legs off to wee little nubs. Just nice to mix things up too.

OK, I'm trying to look at the bright side but riding a road bike when it's windy as hell, in the forties, and the roads are bombed out, wet, and sandy kind of sucks. Totally sucks. I had good tunes though. Thanks to one of this guy's posts I wound up downloading a bunch of stuff from the Dischord site that I hadn't heard since I gave my brother several milk crates full of cassette tapes sometime in the 90's.

It was incredibly windy today but not incredibly cold so I used my incredibly busted-ass mid-weight booties, this may have been their last ride.

My Grandmother I call Ganga lives down in Wrentham. It's a nice ride from Somerville down to those parts, not too hilly, just winding country roads. I didn't call ahead, hoping to pop in and surprise her. When I got there the house was empty, the only inhabitant was Pickles the Jack Russell Terrier. We talked for a minute then the door opened and in walked Ganga, My Auntie Ann, her boyfriend Bill, and moments later my Uncle Elliot and my cousin Christy's buddy Christian. I stayed for all of five minutes (power visit) then set out for my sister's in South Natick.

I flatted in the gorgeous town of Norwood (Hi Josef!) Massachusetts. Lovely day to fix a flat. Nice spot too, right next to a few piles of dog shit and an earth worm the size of an Anaconda.

Ann and Bill had been up in the barn cleaning when they came upon this macabre scene. Apparently a bird had nested in the bottom of a pillar, probably a Starling. The adult birds could easily fly straight up and out but when the chicks were ready to fly they couldn't quite pull off this feat of vertical ascent. They must have been about full grown when they expired. I don't really want to imagine what these poor little guys went through.

I meandered my way up to South Natick for dinner with my sister, brother in law, the parents, and my niece and nephew. By the time I got there I was shelled and starving, but I showed up to the right place - the house of amazing snacks (much better than a house of a thousand hats).

Did I complain about drivers once in this post? I don't think I did. I had to say it was a good day...and I didn't even have to use my A-K.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Squirrels and Human Hair

How random is this. Last night I write about my highly-scientifical findings regarding the ideal bicycle frame materials, Squirrels and Human Hair. Today I discover that Craig Gaulzetti, master bicycle fitter and one of the World's foremost authorities on Italian bicycles has started up his own frame building company and you'll never guess what these bicycles are made out of - Squirrels and Human Hair.

Sometimes it works that way, great minds fall upon the same idea simultaneously. Sometimes a great mind falls upon an idea while an imbecile falls upon his head while washing his feet in the shower...and then he goes and writes stuff.

From Mr. Gaulzetti's new website:

The design elements of each Gaulzetti Squirrel and Human Hair Bicycle are based upon traditional Italian racing geometry with regard to fit and function, but updated for the rigors of modern racing conditions as well as for the ergonomic demands of contemporary components and repeated washing and rinsing. Gaulzetti Cicli produces a nimble, fast and balanced bicycle comprised completely of Squirrels and Human Hair. The frames are designed to excel under all potential race conditions (except ones involving open flame and cats), especially technical courses where constant hard cornering and the need to find and bury nuts are encountered. Years of experience on the Belgian Kermesse circuit and a history of training and racing on the poor roads of northern Europe and New England and an internship under Paul Mitchell influence each detail. The Gaulzetti Cicli geometry may not be ideal for every cyclist or sane person, but an athlete seeking a pure race bike made of Squirrels and Human Hair need look no further for the ideal bicycle.

Disclaimer: Please do not allow your Gaulzetti Bicycle to escape into the eves of your house and die, creating a horrible stench which may never be fully expunged.

Disclaimer Two: Totally made up. To see what Gaulzetti Cicli is all about go HERE.

Your eyes are probably glazed over from the glut of technical information I have subjected you to today. To lighten things up, more horribly narcissistic self-portraits.

I shaved my head in the middle of winter, now I feel a perpetual draft - I will put a hat on, my Vermont 50 hat, I wear this thing more than almost any other single clothing item - but I am still feeling cool air rushing over my virtually naked dome - I will put another hat on, my SSWC07 Hat...that's a nice hat - but I am still feeling cold.

Good thing I live in the house of a thousand hats - I will put on this Pearl Izumi hat I almost never wear, except under my helmet on very, very cold days, still not enough - now I will don the Alpaca wool cap Jason brought me from Peru, like any good wool item it never gets stinky, amazing, it isn't doing the trick though - my neck is starting to buckle under the weight of these crazy tuques but I will stretch this red turtle fur hat I got in high school on regardless. Brrr.

Good thing I have another High School era turtle fur hat, this one in blue, these things dont wear out, they will probably survive a nuclear war, I hope the giant cockroaches who will then rule the planet like turtle fur - Wow, I also have yellow one, how many turtle fur hats did this greedy, cold-headed, High School Thom P. need? - I am in serious danger of toppling over and impaling my brain on the camera lense, adding this Castelli hat is the straw that broke the ice berg - I'm finally warm enough but now my neck is broken and I can't feel anything but my sweaty head. Why did I cut my hair?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm Just a Boy With a New Haircut

Yesterday I kind of meant to get all my awesome tech-feature material out of the way. Wasn't that an amazing tech feature? Well there's more where that came from and I thought it deserved its own post. OK, maybe not its own post, it might have to share a post with photos of me making faces while I get a haircut, but at least it doesn't have to sit next to a Thru-Bolt made by a bunch of Cuckoo Clock making Neutrality Monkeys.

What we're looking at above is Peter Verdone's hardware upgrade for the Paragon Slider Dropouts on Miriam's Igleheart. Below you'll see the Paragon Dropout with its original hardware. The bolts have 5mm heads which round out pretty easily, and don't allow you to apply much torque while tightening. The replacement bolts have 12 point heads which can be tightened with a 10mm socket or Box end wrench. There is no chance in hell of stripping these things.

The Paragon Slider is a beautiful piece of work, but like 22" Spinner rims on a '94 Nissan Sentra Pete's hardware upgrade only enhances the inherent beauty of the original. Wait, it's nothing like that, nothing like that at all.

Here we see a bolt head to bolt head comparison.

Pete sent me a bunch of other hardware which only served to confuse me. I called him up and he told me that the several 4mm bolts in various lengths were for the rear facing tension adjustment bolts. The bolts provided by Paragon are very long. If you want to neaten up the look you can use a bolt which better suits the position of the dropout in the slider, i.e: not have so much bolt hanging out. Thanks Pete, these things are sweet!

As alluded to in the title of this post I got a new haircut. Not really new, it's the same freakin' haircut I get every time my mop gets too unkempt. I've been on the grow until intolerably shaggy then shave to stubble regime for as long as I can remember. The mess of hair is good during the winter months for keeping the brain warm. I've read that keeping your netherlands cool promotes high sperm count. The opposite is true of your brain, you want to keep it warm to promote high..brain cell...count. It works for me or can't you tell? Made up, but what's not made up is that I needed to wear a hat around the house after the haircut, it felt so drafty. This proves beyond a reasonable doubt that having tightly shorn hair and the enhanced air-cooling of the head associated with it is a performance advantage for cyclists.

Oops, I just ruined my own joke about only having a pair of Conair nose hair clippers on hand (they were for my cats, the ones I had euthanized, and then ate) by adding the photo of the hairy mess in the sink with the proper clippers. Crazy baldhead.

Scruffy, Depressed Mess - Clean up & Cheap Liposuction - BLUE STEEL!

What I like about hair-cutting time is that I look and feel like crap and then Bam! In a few minutes I've taken years off my life...I mean on the other end, not the I'm going to die sooner end but the I look and feel younger end. I may actually start getting carded again (as opposed to getting cut off at the bar before I've had my first drink). What is baffling about this process is that you end up with piles upon piles of hair, it looks so heavy, there's so much of it, it must weigh something, but no. You hit the scale and it all adds up to nothing, 0 weight loss from hair loss. Sorry Bruce Willis.

This gave me an idea. It has been proven that Squirrels are stronger than Carbon Fiber...

I have proven that hair weighs literally nothing. Why not make a bicycle frame out of hair? Make it out of hair and lug it with Squirrels!