Monday, November 30, 2009

Cage-Fighter Mother

I can't remember what year my mom actually started mountain biking, somewhere in the very late eighties or very early nineties I think. I do recall that we went over to Newton, to what is now my place of employment (yes, I suppose I'm a townie), to get her first mountain bike. She was inspired by the too-big, bright orange Rockhopper I had purchased there some time before (with the money I made painting Stu's parent's kitchen). We wound up getting her a closeout Fisher for around $230; a pretty good deal even at the time.

She rode that thing down to a nub, then she got a very yellow Fisher Kaitai. A while after that I convinced her to go full suspension and disc brakes, putting her on a Specialized FSR with Avid Mechanicals. She accepted the new technologies but still outright refused to ride with clipless pedals; which I can understand. She used to ride with toe clips and straps, but most of the time they were strap side down anyway. More a liability than an advantage.

She has mentioned recently that she might want to get on something lighter, and of course I do have something in mind. It's not a 29er but it'll probably do.

"Cage-fighter mother" my sister called her as she roared past us on a rolling hill shouting "momentum is my friend!" Her completely jacked legs hammering at the pedals. We were all out on a family ride this past Sunday in Dover. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am not the natural talent in the family. My mom has naturally ripped legs, her calves make mine look like swizzle sticks. My sister has preternatural poise and balance on the bike. That and she has no fear. OK, not just no fear, she is FIERCE — she wants to eye-gouge the trail then kick it in the nuts until it pukes. She rides a handful of times a year and demonstrates skills which took me years to develop. And my brother...what the hell, he doesn't ride a bike, ever, and he kills it. And this while wearing his very own idea of "biking boots."

Do you know how bad my mom is? She hosted a ride and my cousin Will BROKE HIS WRIST before he even made it out of the parking lot! If you're reading this Will....don't feel bad, I once broke my hand riding uphill on a fire road at about 4 miles per hour, not trying to hop a telephone pole at mach 3. Heal up and next time you're out we'll work on how to hop a big ol' log (yes I realize that in the video title the apostrophe is out of place, but it's too much of a pain in the ass to change it now).

Sponsor thank you: Endless Bikes

Last winter I sent an email to Shanna Powell of Endless Bikes, inquiring about sponsorship. I'd been using her products for a while and had already committed to using them exclusively (probably not the best pitch for sponsorship, "ya, I'm going to buy and use your products even if you don't sponsor me, but it'd sure be nice if you did sponsor me."). Kick Ass Cogs are light and smooth and look great to boot. At this point I have a full aray of the things, from 15t to 22t. That's like a whole 8 speed drivetrain! And believe me, I use them all. I'm proud to ride Kick Ass Cogs and represent Endless Bikes!

The Thom Parsons (Bacon Egg & Cheese on a Boston Cream Donut) Project is a go! I have commissioned a cameraman, things are moving forward, so look for that perhaps tomorrow, perhaps later in the week. Depends on what I decide to do with the footage. And although one generous donor has helped "us" meet "our goal," some people are still hitting that donate button (sidebar, upper right, nudge nudge, eh?). "We've" raised over $100 toward The Big Bikes SSWCNZ2010 trip. I haven't looked at plane ticket to New Zealand prices, but I'm pretty sure we're going to need at least THREE TIMES that amount.

Battle of The Bulge Road

First things first, I have to get my excuses out of the, I mean "further hype" the Thom Parsons (Bacon Egg & Cheese on a Boston Cream) Project. Despite the fact that I received a generous donation from an anonymous donor, I was not able to schedule the execution of the gastronomically dastardly deed over the weekend. On what I call "Normal People Thanksgiving," morning I met up with fellow Ice Weasels co-promoters Rooter and K-Sweet for brunch to discuss how we can design the most horrible course ever. The plan was to have Rooter film "the event" after brunch...after Soundbites. Awesome plan, great job. For some reason, after ingesting enough calories to sustain Dicky for three weeks in one sitting, I wasn't feeling the Bacon egg & cheese on a Boston cream thing.

Hey, did I ever say I was really, really smart?

No. But maybe I did say that sometimes when I ride I like to rock out
wicked, wicked haaahd to Judas Priest. Families walking down the Battle Road on Thanksgiving morning love it when some guy in a black leotard rolls by singing "Turbo Lover." A disapproving scowl is a New Englander's smile.

Why do I call it "normal people Thanksgiving?" Because my family has Thanksgiving on Saturday. This, despite the fact that Abraham Lincoln's 1863 proclamation calling for a national day of thanksgiving was pretty much directed at my ancestors who had a habit of scheduling their thanksgiving to conflict with other holidays which were popular in the middle part of the 19th century in America — like Administrative Professionals Day (known then as "Secretary's Day) and Yom Kippur .

An excerpt from Lincoln' proclamation:

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People (the WHOLE American people, that means you, you crazy Raymonds you). I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part (especially Massachusetts and especially Wrentham Massachusetts)of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them (you know who I'm talking about) that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness (I'm talking to you Auntie Neil) and disobedience, blah, blah, blah.

Sometimes, just randomly our family's Thanksgiving fell on the last Thursday of November, until Thanksgiving 2003, when cousin Sam stood up in the middle of dinner after a few glasses of hard cider, threw a blueberry muffin at my grandmother's head and slurred "I have a proclamation...I proclaim that from this day forward the last Thursday of November shall be known as 'Abraham Lincoln is a dick day, ' and we're gonna have our Thanksgiving on frickin' Saturday."

It is funny that Lincoln's proclamation from earlier that same year never caught on as well as Thanksgiving — the one calling for "a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer." Can't figure that one out. Americans love holidays that call for not eating and not buying a ton of crazy crap. That's why they're so thin and have piles of money in their savings accounts.

I'm out of time, guess I will never get to explain the title of this post or talk about the great ride Miriam, my brother-in-law and I had on Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I've got so much to be thankful for, I don't even know where to start, the above photo sums up a lot of it.

I'm also thankful for the really nice thank you text message I got from my Cog sponsor (who I will officially thank Monday) yesterday.

And I'm thankful for the huge donation I received from Matt from Dedham Bike, which means that The Thom Parsons (Bacon Egg and Cheese on a Boston Cream Donut) Project is a Go! I'm shooting for Monday for that.

Two Thanksgiving dinners and that thing...we may hit a record off-season weight height here.

Happy Thanksgiving, thanks for coming over here and reading.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

100 Times Faster Than Me

Bacon Egg And Cheese on a Boston Cream Donut Challenge Total = $10.69

Thanks to Charlie for the sixty-nine cents.

See, now if you donate, as an added perk, I will link to your blog and you will experience "the Big Bikes bump." How do you think Fat Cyclist, Bike Snob, Perez Hilton, The Huffington Post, and Dicky got their starts? — The Big Bikes bump, that's how. Somehow since I initially gave Fat Cyclist that bump he has increased his traffic to 100 times that of Big Bikes.

If blogging were a race I would be a HUGE loser. When it comes to mountain bike racing, even the very best riders in the country are only about twice as fast as me. Just twice as fast. If I were a fisty-fighting-wrasslin' type guy, that would be like me taking on a 340 lb. dude (that's right, I weighed in at a solid 170 lbs. today...and we haven't even hit Thanksgiving and Christmas yet). But if Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski were 100 times faster than me...I'd probably quit this sport and take up competitive eating.

Just like an NPR fund drive, the sooner you go click that donate button (sidebar, upper right) the sooner I shut up about The Bacon Egg and Cheese on a Boston Cream Challenge. Shut up about how I'm going to make a helmet cam video of the ordering process and then subtitle it.

Sponsor Thank you: GARY FISHER.

I honestly believe Fisher had the 29er geometry thing worked and dialed out before anyone, and they continue to produce the best handling 29ers on the market. The release of the Superfly Single-Speed frameset in 2010 is HUGE. I don't know how many people asked me about where they could get a Superfly SS. I had to tell them that I wasn't special, that my shop sent me to Trek World so I was lucky enough to get offered a deal on a bike which didn't exist. I had been drooling over Jesse's bike for a year. It was literally a dream come true. There might not be luck in bike racing, but there's definitely luck in bike-getting. Things are moving forward with Fisher going into 2010 and I'm looking forward to spending another season atop a carbon fiber-gleaming-black-death-machine. Thanks Fisher!

In Ice Weasels news. We're up to 52 Pre-registered riders. This is a problem, I'm beginning to get worried about all that FREE BEER Harpoon is donating. So stop telling people how fun this event was last year or we might not have enough FREE BEER to go around. What? I'm not advertising that we've got FREE BEER. I'm telling people NOT to come and drink all the FREE BEER. How the hell could you possibly describe that as advertising?

Bryan, Kevin (the guy who needs to update his damn blog and tell us how he went about killing it at the Lowell Cross race Saturday), and I were down in Wrentham today, doing a little prep with help form Christy and Chris from White Barn Farm. We put a bench cut in where last year we had a bumpy, precipitous drop. We put a BERM in where once there was only a pile of uninteresting dirt. There will be a few less twisty turns this year (we had a few to spare) and some more straightaway (but not too much). Ultimately, no matter what we do, the race will be 90% more horrible and you should skip it and let me, Colin, and Kevin sit around drinking all the FREE BEER by ourselves while watching a live Webcast of Cross Nats.

And now...Ice Weasels Course Prep photos.

Or what? You'll release the dogs?
Or the bees?
Or the dogs with bees in their mouth
and when they bark they shoot bees at you?


Bees. We have added Africanized Killer Bees to the course. You'll be OK, just don't cause any vibration around their hive. Or breath loudly. Or sweat. They love sweat. They want to lick it up...then sting you to death when they are finished.

And we added a bench cut descent to cut down on injury and death. We have to make sure you're nice and the bees can get you. We have a deal with the bees. It's us or you.

Bryan packed some stuff down with the big-ass heavy roller. Kevin and the dog with the bees in its mouth survey their work. Farm Bike Yeah! And Farm Bike takes the plunge.

Chris moves some leaves to make for more course options. Bryan and Kevin gesticulate wildly and make chimpanzee noises at Chris (somehow he deciphered their gibberish and sculpted a great berm with the tractor). Me and Kevin fine-tune the BERM. Bryan takes a run at the berm well on a big farm bike YA!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mis-re-direction and Sponsor Thank you #1

The main story is over on the 29er Crew Blog today. Did a write up of my Bay Circuit Trail scouting mission yesterday and posted some photos, RIGHT HERE.

The above photo is from the NYCMTB Highbridge Classic from earlier this summer. It was one of the highlights of the season for me, riding with Jurgen Beneke and all that. The shot was taken by Roger from Spectrum Imaging and I think it stands out in the realm of event photos. These are true, dynamic action shots with an eye for composition. Not your average "Hey look at me, I'm on a a field...with my race number fully visible to make for easier cataloging" shots. God forbid the photographer should have to go out in the woods and risk getting a frickin' mosquito bite while taking a decent action shot. I almost never buy event photos, but I bought this one and some others from Spectrum.

Sponsor Thank You.

International Bicycle Center
. They are my employer and my sponsor. Unlike some other bike shops where "everybody works all the time," IBC is good about giving their employees the time to race. I probably get too much time to race, if they said no to my insane schedule requests once in a while I might be less crazed. They are responsible for connecting me to Fisher and for the furnishing of the parts which grace my bike. They are an awesome shop with great sales and service staff. Thanks IBC!

And in other gastronomically appalling news: we are 10% of our way toward the goal of raising $100 for the Bacon Egg & Cheese on a Boston Cream Challenge. The entire 10% was donated by a generous philanthropist who probably wants me to eat the thing so I just get more fatter and more slower so he can beat up on me some more next season. That donate button is still over there on the right sidebar, I even moved it up so it's easier to locate. If we don't start making progress toward the goal soon I may have to up the ante.

Heading out to see about building a BERM for the Ice Weasels course tomorrow AM. We've got tractors, ex-military personnel, and computer programmers coming out to consult on the project. The only member of our course design team (besides Rooter) who couldn't make it was the Techno Viking. More on that maybe Wednesday. Not Techno Vikings, The Ice Weasels...more on the Ice Weasels.

P.S. - I've added links to the Blogs, Trogs, and Glogs list. The only way I could make that work was to limit the list to 25. It's not organized by any kind of favoritism based hierarchy; it's ordered by most recently updated (as it was before). I don't use one of them consarned RSS readers. The only way I know if people have updated is from that list. Primitive.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Thom Parsons
(Bacon Egg & Cheese on a Boston Cream Donut)

You may have noticed that little Paypal "Donate" button over on the sidebar there. You probably thought to yourself, "why in the hell would I give money to this guy?" I don't expect you to give me your hard-earned money for nothing, I intend to work for it. It's an experiment, we'll see if it works. I gotta raise the funds for SSWC New Zealand somehow.

This my proposal: I am going to throw a figure out there, say $100, and when I find that there's $100 in my Paypal account, I will then perform a heinous, self-destructive act purely for your entertainment. In the future perhaps I will take requests — I will be your trained bike monkey, stopping just short of murder and the eating of raw tomatoes for your enjoyment.

The heinous, self-destructive act I intend to perform is this: I will enter a Dunkin Donuts, order a "bacon egg & cheese on a Boston cream donut." If the people at the counter refuse to fulfill my order, I will then proceed to order a bacon egg and cheese and a Boston cream donut...and ask for a knife. This will all be caught on film. Perhaps photographs with cartoon word bubbles will accompany the post. Of course I will then eat this culinary abomination.

So go click away. The faster the money makes its way into my Paypal account, the sooner I begin my accelerated journey down the path to cardiac arrest. Every dollar counts. It could take hours, it could take weeks, it could take months, maybe we'll never get there and I'll weasel out of this thing. All I know is if every Big Bikes reader donated a dollar today, we would be 3 maybe 4% of the way toward our goal!

In other less disturbing news, I scouted out another section of The Bay Circuit Trail, the section between Fawn Lake in Bedford and Walden Pond in Concord. I won't say it was the most exciting piece of trail I've ever seen, but it had its moments. Regardless of the lack of awesomeness of the trail itself, its function as a connector between other areas in invaluable. It's always good to know where one can get off the pavement and take off on some dirt. Say you spit on a bright yellow Hummer after the driver...drove by you in their bright yellow Hummer. They might try to kill you. It's good to know where you can duck off the road and make an escape.

Too droopy-eyed sleepy to talk about it right now, words and photos tomorrow perhaps, over on the 29er Crew site.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oot And Aboot

Big day...big day. It all started with a trip out to Harvard, MA with my friend Deborah to watch her horseback riding lesson. While this might not seem exciting to some, it was exciting as hell for me. I felt like a little kid at the zoo — a zoo where you get to pet the elephants. I've heard Deborah talk about horseback riding a lot over the past year or so, but I had to see it to believe it. I had no idea how physically taxing, how dangerous, and how freaking intense it is. Wow. I was impressed.

When I first showed up, I gotta say, the 1,000 pound animals made me a little nervous, "Is she going to bite my face off? If I walk behind her, will she kick a hole in my head the size of a tea saucer?" These seemed like valid concerns. But after a while I was hand-feeding Deborah's horse "Hope" carrots and oatmeal cookies. I even got comfortable with her nuzzling my pocket with her huge, muscular head, looking for more treats.

Deborah rides her bike to the stables from the train. People there think she's a freak. I'm going to start a blog called, "People Who Ride Bikes to Places Where People Think They Are a Freak."

And then, just when I let down my guard, Hope bit my face off and kicked a hole in my head the size of a tea saucer.


That is the full phrase from which "NOT!" was derived. In the nineties it was considered funny to say something ironically, but then, just to reiterate the irony of the statement, shout "NOT!" immediately afterward to further the point. Hilarious. This incredible comedic artifice was derived from an earlier, more protracted form. Before the days of strict industrial safety codes, workers in glue factories were exposed to glue fumes for up to 27 hours a day. This caused catastrophic, irreparable brain damage.

As a result, the level of humor in these factories sunk to a low level. An example of a glue factory joke was to say something at the lunch table like, "A unicorn just licked my lettuce sandwich...THAT DID NOT HAPPEN!" Another version of the joke was to say something like, "My cheese sandwich is on fire...THAT IS NOT TRUE!" (most jokes were told in the lunchroom and therefore tended to center around the props at hand). Any variation on this theme was guaranteed to illicit raucous laughter, just as long as the speaker leaned forward as they shouted the contradicting statement, spraying the listener with flecks of the creamed corn which had been bubbling out the side's of his mouth.

Alright, moving right along. This is kinda cool, I submitted a photo to Singletrack's "Phat Photos for November" contest, and it's in the running. It's one of the shots from last month's trip to Vermont's North East Kingdom.

After my visit to the horse stables I stopped by Miriam's work to check out her new "Green Building." I would make a joke about how it was not actually green..more red and bricky, but I don't work in a not-up-to-code glue factory. It was cool to see where she "fixes the defective kids brain's," as she puts it. She rides her bike to work. She does it in the dark, when it's way colder out than when I ride, and she has to look and smell nice when she gets there. She's the only person who's not eight who rides a bike to school. Everyone thinks she's a freak. I think she's kinda awesome.

Ah yes, the photos at the top of the post. I rode my bike for the first time (other than riding the 36 lb, protected-by-elven-magic Schwinn Varsity to work) in a week and 3.5 days exactly, or " a week and a half" as you normal people might say. It was a lovely day and I hit up Burlington Landlocked Forest. The trails were leafy but packed down, allowing for a lot of free-sliding in the corners. I wasn't content until I laid it out a couple times. I rode through what was left of the available daylight and then some, getting out to the power-lines after sunset. I love riding that stuff, the trails are killer and now they're even well-marked. Thanks trail-marking dudes.

Next week: More Bay Circuit exploration, sponsor thank yous (really entertaining ones, promise), and cool never before seen photos of the NYC MTB race at High Bridge, and who the hell knows what else.

Everyone is so different.

See the above photograph? When you go out dressed like that on any given day...on a normal day — dressing up for Halloween doesn't seem all that exciting anymore. When I was a kid I used to die my hair, put rings in my nose and ears, dress crazy, go all out of my way to be different. When I got to art school the task of being different for being different's sake was too tall an order, everyone was so freakin' freaky; so I wore logo-less T-Shirts, jeans and stand out. Or maybe I was beginning to get old enough not to care. I don't know.

The funny thing was, one day in orientation a super-gothed out girl with purple hair broke down and started to cry when it was her turn to speak: "Back in high school it was so EASY for me to be different...but here it's so HARD. I mean everyone here is so...different."

Everyone is so different.

OK, I'll admit it, I'm back in school. That's what made me think about this stuff. I see all these kids walking around trying so hard to freak people out, when all they have to do is ride a bike to school, walk into class in full lycra, and act as though nothing is amiss.

Singing The Misfits "Last Caress" while humping a chair is optional (but encouraged).

When people accuse me of wearing lycra for fashion purposes I think they're really, really off base (idiots). It's not usually civilians, but other bike-people who ride street or downhill or BMX, or who ride off road but make a conscious effort NOT to wear lycra. I wear lycra because it doesn't get caught on trees, it keeps me cool, it doesn't snag on my full-height saddle, and because I am too old and over it to care what I'm wearing. It's function; not fashion.

A guy wearing baggies can walk up to a Dairy Queen full of rednecks and not getting horribly beaten with ax handles. Can I do that while wearing lycra? Probably not.

I've gone to the bar, like the full-on frat boy infested bar with my lycra on. We used to have our bike team meetings at a big, dumb bar in Allston. It was only halfway to my house from work, I had another solid 25 or so minutes to ride after the meeting. I could not be bothered to change. Of course the other fifteen or twenty people on the team were dressed appropriately, I was the only one suffering "for fashion."

Let me just interrupt myself to clarify — I am not putting down people who wear baggies, wearing baggies is AWESOME; just don't tell me what's what about what I'm wearing or not wearing and we'll get along just fine. Unless you like The Eagles, then you can go die.

One night at that really cool, aforementioned bar, a woman came up with three sailors in full sailor garb, complete with the funny hats. I would never fight one of those guys. They have got to be super tough to pull off walking around a city in those goofy get ups. The rest of the armed forces get to look bad ass and cool when they're off duty, but, poor bastards...poor TOUGH, really tough bastards (that's still more compliment than denigration isn't it?). OK, one more — bell bottoms...seriously? This woman wanted her photo taken with the three sailors...and me. Maybe she was on a scavenger hunt and had to have her photo taken with the four gayest looking guys in the place. That was not a joke I made at the time. You can tell by the fact that I have all my teeth and can still tie my shoes without the assistance of a live-in nurse.

So yes, I choose to wear lycra not for its functionality but for its fashion appeal (and for the getting called a faggot by drivers part). Wearing an outfit biking that only requires the removal of your helmet and the donning of a flat brimmed hat for you to pass for Jesse James...that's function!

OK, now I'm just being mean.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No, You're Out of Order!

I have a few more North Carolina/Swank 65 photos here, and yes, they are out of order. This is about the last of them. We have to move through this stuff and get on to such pressing topics as The Ice Weasels. It's strange, not strange like a huge, sketchy homeless man walking down the street in Central Square Cambridge, stomping his foot and yelling "I'M A BAD MAMMER JAMMER!" And totally freaking out a whole crowd of passersby, but strange still that I am not sweating this Ice Weasels thing like last year. The beauty of the blog is that I can go back in time and see not only what I was doing (or not doing) a year ago at this time, but what I was thinking (or not thinking), and get a good idea of how badly I was freaking out (or definitely freaking out) at a given time.

So far so good. We've got a few folks signed up. Last year I was stressed about our registration numbers. This year I'm not worried at all. Actually I don't even want people to come, if we have 30 racers, not 130, all the better. Makes my "job" easier. And we'll have a whole lot more of that FREE BEER Harpoon is donating to go around.

Tal shows off a nice wound he received courtesy of The Swank

The beautiful morning of the race Shanna blew by us on the highway. You can see those white, 29" rims from a mile away.

You know it's a good night when you're taking photos in the bathroom going, "whoa, that looks cool, I have never seen better art anywhere."

Gored by a rhododendron bush. Sam Koerber said something about how "nature has a way of rounding things out. "
Man has a way of trimming back nature with hedge cutters and making it all pointy again.

While I nodded back off on the couch at Jess and Tal's on the morning of the race, my astral projection grabbed my camera and took a photo of me. That's not strange is it?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Only Look at Big Bikes for The Pictures

After typing up yesterday's Swank 65 race report, my fingers are exhausted. I may have also used up all the words in my brain, so what we have here are photos from the first day (hey, it was an action-packed day, what can I say?) of the trip to North Carolina, or "North Koo-Koo-Looky" as native Christopher McQueen calls it.

Above: I shipped my bike to Cycle 9 in Carrboro. My good buddy Chris works there. The shop is pretty much my worst nightmare — they primarily deal with electric assist and cargo bikes...not that there's anything wrong with that. I just don't want to deal with it is all. Their motto is: "Ride your bike more." The idea is to encourage people who live far from their workplace and need to transport large amounts of stuff, or children, or large amounts of stuff AND children. These aren't necessarily people who would ride a bike at all otherwise, so I think it's a great thing, these guys are doing good work at Cycle 9. I commend them...from afar.

More Cycle 9. The shop opened up and then , almost immediately a coffee shop moved in next door. One of Cycle 9's employees even does double duty, working over at the cafe. This is a dangerous combination. Coffee is like bike mechanic crack. As it stands, I drink an absurd amount of coffee. If I had access to virtually free and limitless coffee, I would drink it non-stop, until I devolved into a shaking, babbling-at-ninety-miles-per-hour-mass.

That photo on the bottom right, that's a car battery. Albeit a tiny, three wheeled car, but still a battery for a car. And now I will back even further away (and maybe hide behind this trash can here) and commend them once again.

After building up The Superfly Chris and I met up with Brian Plaster, owner of Johnny's. Not sure how to describe Johnny's. Next time you're in Carrboro just go check it out. If you go in the morning grab a coffee and a "Bretzel." Or head over at night and get a taco from the taco truck, buy a beer from inside, and sit down by the fire to listen to some live music. That's almost like a description, and it sounds a whole lot better than Farlow Gap.

The ride we did was all local, as in right there in Chapel Hill. It's called "The Water Tower Ride" and it's amazing for what it is. What it is, is right out the back door and down the street. Real fun up and down with lots of logs to hop, and I love hoppin' logs.

We rode right down to the wire, heading straight over to pick up Chris' son Dexter at daycare. Dex took one look at me in my silly-suit, and said, "Pider-Man!" He's two, he thought I looked like Spiderman. I've heard worse. What was funny is that even later, after I was dressed normally (for me) he still called me Pider-Man!

After the ride I made my second trip of the day to Johnny's. This time for Tacos. I will risk stirring up more controversy by saying, without apology, that you can get a better taco in Carrboro than you can get anywhere in Massachusetts, or New England for that matter...and you can get it from a TRUCK. Someday I will hijack one of those trucks and drive it to Boston, so that people can experience a really good taco. It's a matter of taste you say, how can we argue matters of taste? We can when it's so extreme. If Boston tacos were even in the same phylum as Carrboro tacos it would be one thing, but they're not. It's like comparing Applebees to Orange Julius...oh wait, no it's not, that doesn't even make any sense. A Carrboro taco is like Christmas (that or any other crazy-make-'em-upper holiday which is a big deal for you personally) in your mouth. A Boston taco is like eating a sponge you found under the bathroom sink. Ignorance is bliss; unless ignorance leads you to eating things that taste like sponges you found under your bathroom sink.

See all that stuff going on up there at Johnny's? Music, bikes, fires, tacos...the place rocks.

Chris and Dexter by the fire at Johnny's, kinda special.

Then it was on. Adrian "Mexican #2" Fletcher (this nickname refers to his billing as an extra in the upcoming Orlando Bloom drama "Main Street." That's only half a joke) came down from Durham and he, Chris, and I went out on the towns...all two of them. PBRs were put away, followed by Sake-Tinis. Yes, Sake-Tinis. They are delicious and refreshing.

Local, Jack Whitebread sat with us at The Orange County Social Club. He shared with us the secret to getting admitted to the exclusive private drinking club a couple doors down, "It's hard to get in. Aw, it's not that hard to get in...ya just have to be a racist bastard!" For some reason they didn't let us in.

Then we hit up another taco truck. The young man pictured above came rolling up to the illuminated vehicle, looking super-cool...then rode straight into a foot and half high asphalt curb which he had failed to take note of. Adrian suppressed his laughter, sort of.

By the end of the night it seemed completely in order that Chris should don his snowboard helmet and dance like Elvis.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Swank 65 - Wicked Pisgah

Oh Hello. I see you came over here looking for something. Well, what you're looking for is over HERE. It's the 2009 Swank 65 report over on the 29er Crew blog. It was crazy, it went well, and I apparently had a whole lot to say about it, so top off your coffee, and hang on for the ride. If you don't get at least to the "I bet you can't even find Fantasy Island on a map!" part, then I might begin to doubt your commitment to Big Bikes.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fiasco Day

Q: "Do you ever get a good night's sleep before you leave to go somewhere?"

A: "No, no I guess I don't. I think I like it this way."

As you can see above (above right, not above left...we'll get to that thing on the left in a minute) I have very important things to do the night before I go on a trip — things like loading 80 Guided By Voices songs onto my ipod.

Oh what a grand adventure I did have today. As I mentioned, my bike is in pieces. The frame, front wheel and other bits are in Carrboro at Cycle 9. The fork and rear wheel are still with me. Today I had to go into the shop to throw my fork back together and re-build my rear wheel. Can I just say that I hate, I say HATE those three little bastard ball bearings that reside inside a Fox lock out lever. Their mission in life is to get lost and make a mechanic's life hell. If ball bearings could die, I would kill them. If they could feel pain I would torture them first.

The plan was to either ride over to Newton and get my shit directly or wait for the van to shuttle it over to Boston, if the time-frame worked out.
I spoke to the van driver at our Newton shop before he left, "you got the Fox seals, the spokes and that rim?"
"Ya dude!"

But when I got to the Boston shop the seals and spokes were there...but no bumba-clot rim. I threw a little bit of a hissy fit. I had obligations in the early evening, my window to get the wheel and fork done was small. Not quite knowing what to do, I went about dealing with the fork and trying to calm myself and devise a plan of action, "do I ride my bike to Newton, get the rim, bring it back to Boston (that's a 40+ minute roundtrip), there's no way I'll have time to build it, so I'll have to throw the rim, the fork, and truing stand in the B.O.B trailer, and cart it all home, so I can build the wheel until midnight...oh that's just fucking great! I am PSYCHED!"

While I was finishing up the fork I got a call from the van driver, he was on his way back with my rim. There is a god...and his name is Chris Agee. He's a pagan god who listens to lots of Bahaus and owns a Pegoretti covered in skeletons, but I'll take him. Actually I'll take him because of that.

And...go! Um, no, not so fast. Someone had, perhaps, quickly measured the spokes on their existing wheel, and this someone had, perhaps, not taken the time to note that the Bontrager 240 based hub employs two disparate flange sizes, so this someone had to make do with spokes which were about 5mm too short, and this someone now has the unenviable task of re-re-building their rear wheel when they get back from North Carolina. Oh fun.

The wheel and the fork got done in time for me to make it to my early evening obligation. The stock cotter pins on my B.O.B. trailer did attempt to thwart my progress, opting to eject somewhere after the footbridge leading down to Lower Allston. I don't use the trailer all that much, I like riding as unencumbered as possible, but I knew there was a reason for the two little hose clamps on the stays of the B.O.B.. They were there because, years ago, while riding from San Francisco to Cincinnati (That was my intent too. The hell with riding coast to coast, I just wanna ride from S.F. to Cinci-fuckin-nnati!) my tour-mates and I developed a better systtem than the crappy-stock-fall-out-and-kill-you cotter pins provided. We used spokes bent over and secured with mini hose clamps. I think B.O.B. has improved upon this design since then. I hope so.

OK, off to bed and then off to North Carolina in the AM.

Time to make the stories.

Above, top to bottom left to right: 1.) Encumbered 2.) Welcome back Cotter 3.) The rest of my bike in a wheel box...and my fat, hairy belly 4.) Too hot to handle too cold to hold

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I'm A Mess

I leave for North Carolina to do The Swank at 6:30 tomorrow morning. Half my bike is already there, the other half is still here, in pieces: the just overhauled yesterday hub is sitting in front of me on the desk; the fork is completely dismantled, lying on my bench at work, waiting for seals and wipers to be sent over from the other shop. One issue is that the new rim will come in sometime today, anytime really, could be this morning, could be late this afternoon, I don't know. I'm expecting a call when the rim does show up, at that point I will hop on The Ugliest Bike Ever and hammer over to Newton to retrieve the rim (and the seals and wipers for my fork) and then hammer over to Allston to build my wheel and reassemble my fork.

posted this quote today: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

I say: "poor planning is the mother of adventure."

And wow, what an adventure I am going to have today, riding around the suburbs of Boston putting the pieces of my bike-puzzle together.

And now! Bay Circuit photos with captions:

Sketchy water crossings were the theme of the day. After Bill took a dive off the first slippery-ass bridge, I was a little gun shy (when I saw him go down, I walked the rest of the bridge, probably saving myself from a cold swim). Andy rode the above left bridge in its entirety, this involved a Philippe Petit type maneuver over a slanted and slimy 2 X 6...I walked it. To make up for my otherwise neutered riding throughout the day, I made the first attempt on the "Dangerous Bridge" (it said so right on the map). My theory was that the submerged , off-camber and dilapidated boards were probably moss-free due to the half a foot of fast running water coursing over them. My theory held fast and the entire group was able to traverse the bridge after I demonstrated that they were not going to die...or get very, very wet and uncomfortable.

I love New England in the fall. I used to associate the cool air, the orange leaves all over the ground, and the warm afternoon light with skateboarding. I took up skateboarding in the fall one year, many, many years ago, and was just glued to that board every afternoon after school. Now I associate fall with long group rides with friends I might not see otherwise all year (and not doing Cyclocross). The wheels are way bigger...that must mean I'm way more mature.

We ran into a few beaver dams. I think it's funny that humans get pissed at beavers for "wrecking stuff." The way I see it, the beaver is just acting human. I can't think of another animal that, like humans, changes its environment to suit it wherever it goes. There is a very small portion of the planet which we can inhabit in our natural state. Let the beavers have their damn dams...damnit! Accept for those consarned Evil Beavers.

Roger tries to make sense of a map that looked more like it was made by termites on acid.

Kenny talks to a local, trying to get us back on track. She told us what we were looking for was "The Old Hojo Trail." "On Sundays, we used to walk through the woods to the old abandoned bridge, and cross the highway over to the Howard Johnson's. " As soon as she said "Howard Johnson's," I developed the most overwhelming craving for Indian Pudding with vanilla ice cream.

Two reasons why Andy Sanidas deserves a Nobel Peace Prize:

1.) The night before the ride, he drove down to the halfway point of our ride and dropped a giant bin of food, water, and root beer out in the woods.

2.) Even after six hours of riding, he will still try to ride over an enormous horse jump. He's one of those guy that's XC racer quick, but then, out of nowhere, busts some sick, Danny Macaskill move.

Oh, that link to Danny Macaskill up there, if you haven't seen it, click on it. It's the ad he did for S1 Jobs. It is beautifully shot and scored. I made the mistake of watching it before hopping on the Superfly to ride to work the other day. Danny Macaskill I am not.

Heading out to NC in the early, early AM, may or may not get a post up for tomorrow, and if I do, it's gonna be WEAK. Not sure if I'll be posting from down south, I may have to bottle it all up and save it for late next week, we'll see.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bay Circuit Trail
Andover to Hamilton
Part One?

Below is a link to Bay Circuit Trail, It is a trail that stretches from Newburyport to Duxbury, 172 miles. I have ridden it with Andy Sanidas from his house in Hamilton to rt 114 in Middleton. The sections I have ridden are a cross of single track and fast fire road. I was thinking it would be cool to find someone to shuttle us to the Andover area and we could ride home. Any thoughts or interest let me know. I was thinking Nov 1st.

- Roger

And that was the email that launched a thousand bikes...and by "a thousand," I really mean seven — seven bikes. This ride had been attempted unsuccessfully earlier in the spring, that unmitigated disaster was documented HERE. They still haven't scrubbed all the blood off the rocks. This time around an elite cadre of mountain bike ninja-super-army-soldiers were assembled for THE ASSAULT on the Bay Circuit Trail.

Above, left to right, top to bottom: 1.)The trailer 2.) We could hardly find our way out of the parking lot at Ward Reservation 3.) Skug River. I think I'm going to have a child just so I can name it "Skug," and then promptly sell it 4.) Twenty minutes into the ride and we spend half an hour locating a lost rider. That is the type of thing that keeps people from completing this route.

Andy "The Man With The Plan (and a bunch of maps and a fancy phone)" Sanidas arranged for us to meet in a parking lot up in Hamilton, MA. strategically located in close proximity to a Dunkin' Donuts (Andy's attention to detail is staggering). His buddy Roger loaded our bikes onto a trailer for the trip down to Andover. We loaded our bodies into Roger's truck and Christopher Igleheart's rolling toaster. Chris was nice enough to drop us off, although he wasn't going on the ride and Roger's wife shuttled the truck and trailer back. This meant that all we had to do was pedal from Andover to Hamilton, back to that parking lot and we would be done. That's right, ALL we had to do was pedal our bikes from Andover to Hamilton.

Above: 1.) Slippery bridge, I walked it, Bill went for a swim 2.) First flat 3.) Second flat 4.) Chain break (my powerlink mojo came in handy).

Things started off well enough: one minute in I almost took myself out riding around a fire road gate. Ten minutes in Bill fell off a slippery bridge, soaking himself. Twenty minutes in we lost Kenny and spent half an hour finding him. Less than hour in, we had our first flat. We were not making good time. It has been said that this ride is cursed.

Our ride took us through Ward Hill Reservation, Skug Reservation, Harold Parker S.F., Boxford S.F., Bald Hill Reservation, Phillips Wildlife Sanctuary, Georgetown/Rowley S.F., Willowdale S.F., Bradley Palmer S.F., and Appleton Farms. Aside from wicked singletrack of Harold Parker, most of the ride was comprised of scenic fire roads and hiking paths. The cool thing about it is that you're seeing areas you might not see otherwise...incredibly beautiful areas.

Above: Kenny busts a move in Harold Parker

After some early mishaps and turnarounds, we got going at a good clip, covering some serious ground. The day was gorgeous, over 60° and sunny. I had almost bagged it in the morning, when I woke up to rain. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I'd gone back to bed and missed out on this thing. The trees were past peak, so the ground was strewn with brown leaves, masking many of the turns from us. We spent a lot of time back-tracking and searching for markers. There's a good reason why this ride takes so damn long.

Above: It's that time of year, one bottlecage has been replaced with a flask holder
(still full of Whiskey from SSWC07, Scotland)

I've got a bunch more photos to edit and possibly some more to say, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow.

If you're curious about what we rode, check out
maps two and three:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Things Fall Apart

And they do it with the best of timing too. I have one race left on the calendar this year, The Swank 65 on November 8th. The Superfly has decided to completely unravel going into the finishing straight here. The Fox F-29 RLC has been leaky lately, still functioning, but leaking inordinately. Saturday night, while getting ready for the Big Bay Circuit ride (which we shall speak more about the week) I noticed one of the eyelets on my rear rim was pulling out. To get my bike to North Carolina on time, I had to have it in a box Monday afternoon. With an all day ride Sunday, there was no way I was going to overhaul a fork and build a wheel in time.

The rear wheel of The Superfly is that DT RWS 10mm Thru-Bolt jobby too, which is generally awesome, but in this case, sucks. The Superfly uses a rear-facing horizontal drop-out, it requires a bolt-on hub or a system like the mentioned-afore RWS business. I can't just use some wheel I have lying around the house. I guess I've taken for granted how durable the Bontrager Race X Lite wheels have been. For a couple seasons I had "race day only" wheels like The American Classics or The No-Tubes ZTRs. This season I didn't bother getting a second set of wheels, relying on this set of wheels for both racing and day to day trail riding. I'd say over all this worked out swell...until now.

So two seasons on one set of not the lightest, but pretty damn light wheels — not too shabby. Replaced the bearings once on the rear, the front wheel is still straight as an arrow and the bearings are smooth as one of those weird, hairless Egyptian cats.

See that photo above? That's my bike, or at least the parts of my bike which were functional enough to send to North Carolina...they fit in a frame box. Pretty sweet, $28 for sending "my bike" UPS to Carrboro. The fork and the rear wheel will be flying with me, I'm hoping the wheel box I'll be flying with will be perceived as checked baggage and will illicit no further charges. Who knows, maybe I'll bring the bike back this way. Like a poor man's (total pain in the ass) S & S Couplers.

The Superfly has taken some abuse in the past couple months. Between the five and a half hours of riding in a downpour at The 50 and the Wrentham Cross race, it's kinda hurtin'. In fact I went to pick it up the other night and heard sloshing, like many ounces of water sloshing inside the seat tube. A wise man named Lloyd Graves, one of the founding fathers of Independent Fabrication once said "You gotta let your bike pee." I had not done that. Simply flipping my bike over after either of those water-logged events would have allowed the liquid to drain out. Now I'm not sure if the seat tube on The Superfly is sealed, but I'm assuming, since the water was unable to drain out through the bottom bracket, that it is, which with a carbon fiber frame is not a big problem. If this were a steel frame which had a can of soda worth of fluid hanging out in its seat tube for over a month...we might have a problem.

Pre-drainage weight, post drainage weight. You do gotta let your bike pee.

So when I get back from North Carolina I do believe The Superfy will be up for sale...just throwing it out there. I'm talking frame/fork/headset/seat binder (maybe a post if you want one) for about a G. I will be posting more stuff for sale soon, maybe even doing an official type thing on the sidebar there. I've got a 57cm Lemon fixed gear, a Large 2008 Trek Remedy...couple three speeds, all sorts of exciting crap. Aren't you excited? I'm excited.