Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Breck Epic Stage 5, Wheeler, King of The Queen Stages

This is another post that didn't make it up on the Mountain Bike site. Some of it is territory I have tread upon in the past, but it was apropos of what was going on. I am so glad I stayed up writing these every night during the race when I could have been sleeping for a couple hours before the 8:10 AM starts. But hey, I got in for free, so whatevah dyude.

Thursday, August 26, Course #5: The Wheeler Loop

There wasn't enough coffee in the world to wake me up this morning, and there wasn't enough sealant in my tire to stop the air from gushing out when I slammed a rock fifteen minutes into today's stage. Doesn't sound like an auspicious start does it? But it was really a great day despite the cement in my brain and the further abuse I suffered from the pointy rocks. Today we ascended Wheeler Pass, which towers over the ski resort of Breckenridge, solidly above tree line. As I coasted down Main St. in the cold at 6:30 AM, the moon hung, nearly full, what seemed like inches above the peak we would be climbing in just a short time. That sight reminded me that soon the sun would occupy that very same position in the sky and that I had forgotten to apply my 50 SPF sunblock, a mistake that could have proved deadly for someone as incredibly white as me.

Back to the flat thing for a second...

People always say "Oh, you got a flat, how unlucky." No. Flats don't happen because of bad luck; they happen because of bad riding, or bad tire choice. It reminds me of a quote from That 70's Show:

Eric: Bad things keep happening to me, like I have bad luck or something.

Red Forman: Son, you don't have bad luck. The reason bad things happen to you is because you're a dumbass.

Keeping your bike together until you reach the finish line is part of this game. I flatted three times this week due to inadequate tires, and once because I blindly rode into a rock — dumbass. That said, neutral support like they happen to have at this race is pretty sweet, those guys have helped me out repeatedly throughout the week, check out The Organic Mechanic on Facebook, they rule.

So after the flatting and the freaking out and the cursing and the infantile histrionics (oh, I didn't mention all that? OK, we won't talk about that bit then) we headed up Wheeler Pass, I do not possess the words to describe how beautiful this thing is, it kind of sums up what makes this race so awesome. I race bikes because I love the combination of fun and suffering. Hike-a-biking over high mountain passes like Wheeler and descending down the other side epitomizes that philosophy for me. The ascent was so hard (the suffering) and the descent was so insane (the fun, combined with a dash of terror). And this isn't the kind of descent where you can recover, it's every bit as exhausting as the climb. It's a hang on for dear life, white-knuckle, brake-pumping nightmare.

Which leads me to my next point...

I've talked about acclimating to altitude and western-style speed, but there's also the acclimation to heights. The Shenandoah Mt. 100 race in Virginia has a descent that is just as crazy as the one off Wheeler, the only difference is the SMT100 version doesn't have the abyss factor. If you over-cook a turn on Wheeler, you are going base jumping with your bike, and a bike doesn't work anywhere near as well as parachute when it comes to arresting your deadly plummet to the hard, hard ground below. A couple times on Wheeler I came around a corner sliding, and there it was, calling to me — the abyss. It gave me vertigo and caused my sphincter to clench up so tight I pulled a butt muscle.

Wheeler is 13,000 feet high. And speaking of high, depriving your brain of oxygen makes you act really, really funny. I came over the crest of Wheeler hike-a-biking with a guy named Adam from Michigan, there was a photographer up there, "We're having a speed walking competition, if you don't have one foot on the ground at any given time, you're DQ'ed." Man, I thought that was A-material up there in the clouds. When we got back on our bikes and began trying to navigate the traverse, I felt like I'd had a few too many Ranger IPA's, I was a total mess. If I ever need to prepare for riding singletrack at high-altitude again, I think I'll take a couple Percocet and go try to ride my local trails back in Massachusetts.

Tomorrow the fun to suffering ratio is supposedly skewed in the direction of fun. Each stage of The Breck Epic has been better than the last, so I can't hardly wait.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Putting the Brr and the epic in the Breck Epic

This is my stage 3 report from The Breck Epic. For whatever reason it didn't get posted on Mountain Bike. They did, however, post the one where I talk about EPO being a great idea. In this one I do imply that I want to shoot promoter Mike McCormack in the penis. Did I cross the line? You be the judge.

Tuesday, August 24, Course #3: The Guyot Loop

I just want to set the record straight. Despite all my whining and crying in my previous posts about the insane amount of climbing in this race and my total lack of compatibility with high-altitude...anything; this is an incredible race. But it is not a race to be trifled with. If you ever decide to do this thing, which I think you should, you need to come prepared. Which means you need to be ready for rain, cold, heat, (did I mention insane climbing?), and pointy rocks. I took lightly the warnings of locals and those in the know about the pointy rocks, "Ya whatever dude...we got rocks back east." Yes, but back east those rocks are hit at 8 MPH, not 25 MPH. There aren't as many rocks out here in Breckenridge, but when you're traveling at such a rate of speed that your eyeballs are being rattled out of your skull, you can't really see that one rock that is going to slice through your sidewall like a hot light saber through butter in the Death Star cafeteria. So run bigger, burlier tires than you might think or you'll end up like all the folks I saw on the side of the trail today, all flatted-out and demoralized.

There are huge fluctuations in temperature throughout the stages. Most morning's it is cold, like 40° cold, but then it jumps up to 70° or hotter. Today we ascended French Gulch, which brought us up to 12,000+ feet. It was either raining or we were in a cloud, either way, we were getting wet, and I was getting kookoo for Cocoa Puffs. I was part of the most gigantic hike-a-bike...I won't say "conga line" that I have ever seen. The view was spectacular but it was immensely painful. It was like looking upon a beautiful creature like a peacock, and exclaiming, "My God, that is the most gorgeous thing I have..." and — Thock! — it jabs its beak through your eyeball, blinding you and causing you horrible discomfort. And that was the most normal thought I had atop of French Gulch. When I first looked up to see the extent (or what I thought was the extent) of French Gulch and saw the riders hiking a quarter mile in front of me, I screamed "Jesus Christ! They might as well be walking on the moon." And then I started singing "Walking on The Moon" by The Police and telling my buddy Doug that Sting has plans to record a Reggaeton version of that song. He was appalled until I reminded him that I am either lying or wrong 100% of the time.

When I turned the next corner and saw what was the true extent (or what I hoped was the true extent) of French Gulch, I completely lost it, I threw both middle fingers up to the highest mountain valley I have ever seen, then turned around and started tramping back down the trail yelling "That's it, I am going to go buy a gun and shoot Mike McCormack (Breck Epic promoter) in the [expletive]...what's the waiting period on hand gun purchases in Colorado?" Just as we reached the peak, a creature emerged out of the mist. We started voicing our guesses as to what it was: "A Yeti!" "An Ewok!" "A Wookie!" "It's a unicorn selling lemonade!" But it was just a photographer. I waved my hand and told him "Don't be ridiculous, cameras don't function at this altitude." Then we descended away from the highest point on the course, the visibility was poor and I felt like I had just left the dentist's office after a root canal, jagged rocks emerged out of the mist like small, not-hairy gorillas (that were jagged).

And to reiterate the burly tire thing for a second...
I saw three dudes pulled over, fixing flats in the same spot on that descent. All three flats were probably caused by the same mean little rock. A bit more rotational weight on the climbs would be worth every second not spent fixing a flat on that wet, freezing, windswept peak, however picturesque and full of mythological or made-up creatures it might be.

At the end of the day, as I was descending down to the finish, I saw promoter, Mike McCormack (who I am not really going to shoot in the [expletive]), I blurted, probably unintelligibly, "That descent off that crazy peak was the best thing I have ever ridden!" I was talking about the rocky, technical, rip-roaring deal off of Georgia Gulch, but that statement could possibly have described no less than three different sections of the course. He was probably like "Wow...that guy is a moron, I can't believe he isn't riding an adult tricycle."

Allegedly we won't be attaining the same heights we did today on tomorrow's ride. Which is too bad, I was hoping to ask the Oompa Loompas where they get their hair-dye.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breck Epic Pre-Blog, Too Hot For Rodale?

This was my Breck Epic Pre-Race post, for whatever reason it didn't go up, so here it is...BAM!

You ever seen that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Total Recall? You know the part where Arnold gets violently ejected from the underground mines or whatever and finds himself rolling down a hillside, gasping for breath in the oxygen-free atmosphere of Mars — his tongue is hanging out, lolling all around, and his eyes are all bugged way out of his head like they’re going to explode, but then luckily, the oxygen making machine turns on and converts the atmosphere just in time to save him? That’s how I feel right now, only there ain’t no oxygen making machine here in Breckenridge to save me. There are several beer making machines, and there is an Oxygen bar, but I don’t think either of those things will be of much help. I’m a lowly sea level dweller, and I’m here in Breckenridge for the Breck Epic, a six day mountain bike stage race covering 240 miles of rugged terrain with 37,000 feet of elevation gain. Like my buddy Jeff from Denver said to me, “It’s not actually that hard, it would be an easy race...at seal level.” Yes, and fighting Tyson in the eighties wouldn’t have been hard either, it would’ve been an easy fight...if you had a gun.

I’ve been here in Breckenridge for three days and each time I found myself forgetting my name after bending over to buckle my shoe, mouth-breathing audibly while brushing my teeth, or doubled-over at the top of the stairs, feeling like I was trying to suck an orange through a cocktail straw, I told myself that I was experiencing the worst of it, that it would only get better. But I was wrong. Tonight on the way back to the hotel I was wheezing like James Gandolfini jumping rope on top of Mt. Everest. And, for good measure, I made sure to acquire a mean sun burn today. I didn’t think I needed to apply sunblock...to eat lunch at an outdoor patio. At this rate, by the end of this event, I am going to look like a cross between a piece of luggage, an alligator, and Keith Richards. I’m screwed, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say, in so many lame analogies.

One defense mechanism I employ when entering a situation as hopeless as this, is ignorance. I know almost nothing about what I’ve gotten myself into here. Here’s how I see it: if someone told you that you were going to be killed by an axe murderer on a particular evening and there was nothing you could possibly do about it, would you really want to know the specific details — How tall is this axe-wielding-maniac? Does he have bad breath? How many times, exactly, will he hack and chop me? I don’t know, maybe you’d like to know those things, maybe you also like to pay homeless men to eat handfuls of mayonnaise with their mouths open while you sit and watch...hey, whatever floats your crazy train. Me, I’d prefer to lie in bed until I was — whack! — totally-freaking-decapitated. It would be less horrible that way, I think. I know this race is going to painful. I am sure the climbing is going to suck a maximum. I am positive that I will be more tired, hurt, bombed out, and depleted than I have ever been in my life...why stress myself out with the details?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Breck Epic Post #2

My second Breck Epic post is up over on Mountain Bike. I'm going to take a nap now.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dude, I'm Semi-Legit Dude

In case you didn't show up to class last week, here's where we're at. I'm out at Breck Epic six day stage race in Colorado. I am probably going to die out here, so savor my final words. All my blogging power is going to be directed toward my race-blogs for Mountain Bike this week. The first one is up, check it out right HERE.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Briggidy Breck Yourself Before You Briggidy Wreck Yourself

Friday 8.20, Breckenridge

I got winded brushing my teeth today. And running up the stairs...forget about it, I end up doubled-over at the top, feeling like I'm trying to suck a fish eye tapioca ball out of my mango bubble tea with a regular size straw; not one of those bubble tea specific, gigantic diameter straws. I'm hoping this is the worst day, although it's hard to tell, I wasn't exactly pushing out it there on the little, neighborhood flume ride I did. I did manage to flat though, which has led me to begin re-thinking my wussy-ass tire selection. The rocks here may be few, but they are pointy bastards.

This was the kind of ride I had...I stopped to smell (and photograph) the flowers.

Monique Merrill's house is a crazy place: a place where people on their day off go for a two-and-a-half hour bike ride...then a forty-five minute run...then another hour-and-a-half ride later on. I'm going to feel like a massive wuss-bag if I don't make that 5:45 ride. If I'm going to do that, I should probably go deal with my tire-issues, stat!

Breckenridge is pretty sweet. Any place where you can ride out your door and hit trails of this quality is aces in my book. Ya I got The Fells in my backyard, but it's just not the same. I'd rather ride in places where you have a better chance of being mauled by a bear than man-raped by a man-raper.

After last night's frigid monsoon, I have opted to go in on a condo with Dicky, Doug, and Dieter from Misfit Psycles. My goal is to keep referring to Peter Keiller as "Dieter from Misfit Psycles" until he goes to Google himself one day and Google asks him:

did you mean: Dieter from Misfit Psycles

Friday, August 20, 2010

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dumb

Yesterday I arrived in Denver. The direct flight that left at a reasonable hour seemed incredibly tolerable relative to my layover laden flight(s) to Oregon a week or so back. I can't even complain about the airline trying to ream me for the bike case. Jetblue actually kinda rocks. $50 for a bike case AND a borderline over-size piece of checked luggage. It also doesn't hurt that I got to spend the flight watching Colbert and something on Discovery called "Two Weeks in Hell," a show documenting the awesome horribleness of Green Beret training. I thought it was fitting, a portent of what's to come during the next week or so for me. I'll think about those poor bastards trying to lug a one-wheeled cart through deep sand with stress fractures in their shins while I'm climbing laboriously, high above Breckenridge, in the cold rain, hatin' life. Only instead of being forced not to sleep afterward, I'll be drinking beer, eating pasta, and getting made fun of by Dicky all night.

I lived in Colorado back in the early nineties, I worked for Green Peace canvassing door to door. Often I would end up working a "turf" in Denver, it generally didn't go well. I was once shoved off a stoop, onto my ass, in the snow by a shirtless fat man, as he screamed "Green Peace! That's a fucked up outfit!" I then made light of his corpulence, which lead to him running barefoot across his snow-covered lawn, jumping in a beat up mini van and chasing me around the neighborhood for the rest of the night. It was the pre-cell phone era, so I had to hide cowering behind some bushes until my scheduled pick up time. I didn't make my quota that night.

But Denver's not really that bad after all, it's quite lovely in fact. I had a great time hanging with Jeff Carter and his wife Liz, eating and drinking in their North West Denver neighborhood. This morning we went to a weird little burrito joint called "Giant Burrito." Like all weird burrito joints, they had exercise equipment for sale over in the corner of a back room, and aesthetically abhorrent pottery for sale in another corner. Normal.

Jeff and I drove up over Loveland pass and all that other beautiful crap on the way up to Breckenridge to meet up for a ride with Jeff's buddy Mike, Dejay and his buddies Claire and Peter from Australia, and Doug. I have no idea what or where we rode, all I know is that there was no air there and flat ground felt like a 23% grade. And the descents were like a dream of flying. The trail head was off Tiger Rd. and it had something like the word "dredge" in the name. Oh, and we rode on the Colorado Trail for a bit. I'm gifted navigation-wise. After the ride we stopped for a snack in downtown Breckenridge, an hour later I had no idea how to get back to where we'd parked.

Tim Faia hooked me up with his friend Monique Merrill for a place to stay up in Breckenridge. I was completely baffled by her generosity, how she opened her home to a virtual stranger without asking for compensation. I told her what she was doing was amazing, "That's the way the world works" she said. Man, I wish it did, it would be a lot better place if so.

After today's ride I feel like tornado passed through my lungs, but in a good way. Tomorrow the elevation will probably hit me even harder. Don't know what the ride plan is, or if there even is one. My posse from today all departed for Denver or Boulder and they won't be back until Saturday. I expect Montana "I win single speed races riding a HUGE gear at elevation even though I'm from Pennsylvania" Miller is probably showing up at some point to put a pre-race hurt on me.

I'm going to break a cardinal Big Bikes rule and possibly blog through the weekend, at least Saturday. Allegedly I won a Blogger Grant to get into this thing, so I might be blogging for another major cycling media outlet (aside from Big Bikes) the rest of the trip. We'll see, I haven't heard any word on that business. Goin' with the flow.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thank You Thursday

The word Thursday starts with a "th" and the word thank starts with a "th." Isn't that incredibly clever? I think all my wit oozed out my ear one morning after a bout of acute insomnia.

I'm going to talk about some new additions to my bike, but first I've got to give thanks and praises.

First off there's the Ohio band, Black Owls. You may have noticed that I've been doing some video-work for Cyclingdirt. You also may have noticed the sweet tunes used in my videos. I've basically been using two band's songs for the soundtracks, Black Owls is one of them. In the absence of Guided By Voices, they are keeping the rock-dream alive out in Ohio. I used a Black Owls tune in this video for the Wilderness 101. I met Dave Butler, drummer and vocalist for Black Owls in Aviemore, Scotland in '07, during Single Speed Worlds. Dave is a wicked cool guy and a great graphic designer.

Dave's art work is every bit as striking as Black Owls sound work.

And on that...I'm not going to say "note," I also have to give props to Hallelujah The Hills, the other band I've been using in my videos. Videos like this one. They are a band that is indigenous to the Boston area, the trumpet player, Brian Rutledge, actually competed in The Ice Weasels Cometh 'cross race (that I had something to do with). He is very tall and friendly and talented. They kind of have a Neutral Milk Hotel, Flaming Lips, Built To Spill thing going on, which, in my mind, is a very good thing.

It was all I could do not to segue all over the place back there...
I'm in the airport, so I couldn't verify the quality of the Guided By Voices clip I used back there. It's kind of like the time I linked to a Big Black video while I was blogging from an airport with a slow connection. I wound up linking to the saddest over-done, home-made, video for the song "Kerosene." If Steve Albini ever ran into the guy that filmed that overly-literal, horrible piece of crap, he would probably garrote him to death with a busted guitar string.

And semi-on the subject of Neutral Milk Hotel...
when I was out with some folks the other week, someone threw some...I'm not going to use the acronym "NMH" on the jukebox. We started talking about how there might be a kind of NMH renaissance going on. Sure enough, a few weeks later when I was leaving for Martha's Vineyard, I stopped for a sandwich at Dave's Fresh Pasta...they were playing NMH. Then I got down to Wood's Hole, I grabbed a coffee at some place near the ferry dock, and you guessed it...they were playing NMH. It's not like these guys are the new, hot thing, their last album was released over twelve years ago, and these days they only seem to make news for un-musical activities like trying to save carousels from extinction.


IBC was awesome enough to hook me up with a front wheel to match the one my buddies at Trek had hooked me up with. Again, the issue was that my rotors are six bolt and the new wheels were center-lock. Cue JRA Cycles logo:

I called up Adam down at the JRA and asked if he had another Mavic center-lock to six bolt adapter lying around, he did. Sweet. The Shimano one I had at the house wasn't going to work due Shimano's overzealous overbuilding. Thanks guys, I owe you Mountain Dews.

I don't think I even mentioned that I forgot my freaking helmet when I went Oregon. I did. Lucky for me, Dejay Birtch has a spare head stashed under the bed in his van, and for that spare head, he keeps a helmet. He leant me that helmet, complete with a V-Hold R mount already installed. Thanks Dejay, you are as magnanimous as your sideburns are unruly.

And A big thanks to International Bicycle Centers for the continued sweet hook ups.

The new Race X Lite carbon bar is a lot lighter than my old aluminum jam and it is 20mm wider, which is just right.

Another sweet new addition is the Evoke RXL Saddle. I did a typically brilliant thing and threw it on right before the High Cascades 100, but it actually worked out. Impressive.

The weight of the bike with the new stuff is really 21.8 lbs, the above photo lies. That was before I installed the new RXL front wheel and the Bontrager 29-3 2.0 Team Issue tire. I would have taken a picture but my camera, along with my 29er Crew knee warmers, arm warmers, wind vest, a bunch of GUs, a tub of chamois cream, and some tubes were all stolen...or something in Oregon. Maybe I should tell that story some time.

I would love to tell more stories, but Jeff Carter or his two-week-old baby are going to wake me up early so we can head up to Summit County to possibly meet up with Doug for a ride. So I will drift off to sleep now, thinking about how Denver is way, way nicer than I previously thought.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My God...What Have I Done?

I head out to airport at 7Am tomorrow. Am I prepared? No. Have I thought this thing through? No again. All I know is that Tim Faia and Jeff Carter are saving my ass. I won't be sleeping on the cold ground, getting devoured by Wookies or Big Foots or whatever other carnivorous creatures run amok in that crazy, mountainous place.

I also know that Dicky, Doug, Dejay, and Dieter will all be there to share in the pain and the fun with me. Dieter? That would be Peter from Misfit Psycles. Dicky, Dejay, Doug, and...Peter just doesn't sound anywhere near as good.

I'll try to check in from road, I gotta get a high tech phone one of these days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Planes, Bikes, and Therm-a-rest Rafts

This is my kind of "everything but the race" report about the Oregon trip. If you want the pure, un-filtered racing-type-report, that, of course, is over on the 29er Crew blog.

Boston to Bend and Back

I'm not a planner, my wife's the planner, things go differently when she is it at the helm. I leave everything to the last minute and use my time poorly. For instance, right now I am writing about how badly I planned my Oregon trip, while I should be packing for my Colorado trip. In my pre-trip stressed out state, I usually manage to make my wife mad at me. She tells me she's not going to take me to the airport and that I'll have to get a cab or take the train or go fuck myself. Then she caves and takes me anyway, even though I'm a dick.

Inevitably I miscalculate my wake up time, we hit traffic, and then there's a massive line at check in. But I've somehow never missed a flight. My bike has though. It's a fine line, you get there late enough and they might not charge you for your bike case. You get there too late and your bike might have to catch another flight. If I have time, I usually go through various contortions to get my bike on for free or at least for less money. "I'm an Olympic athlete...an Ironman...an Astronaut?" Sometimes it works out. And I never say that it's a bike, its "bike parts" or "exercise equipment" or "trade show supplies." Traveling with a soft case, however dangerous it might be for your bike, is awesome. They see it as a giant bag and they can easily un-zip it and see what's inside (the hard case has all those buckles). When they see the jumbled up mess in there, they think "wow, there's no way that's a bike...I think I'll have pizza for lunch." Usually they'll hit you for no more than $30-$60. Beats the hell out of $100-$150.

I try to fly as cheaply as possible, this means that I end up with multiple lay-overs. It took me over twelve hours to get to Oregon and about fourteen to get back. Not ideal. Part of flying cheaply involves jamming as much crap as I can into my bicycle hard case, while being careful not to go over the weight limit, which is a paltry 60 Lbs. at Delta and United (thank you for your 100 Lb. limit Jetblue!). And speaking of Jetblue, all these lay-overs mean that I get to witness the histrionics of boarding passengers that many more times during a trip. Ya, I have a full-size carry on, and ya it's gigantic, but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay to check it. If the overhead bins are full by the time I get on the plane (I try to sit on the plane, sucking that stale, germ-ridden air for as short at time as possible) and my bag has to get checked for free, so be it. I have to go to the luggage carousel for my bike case anyway, and I sure as hell don't mind not lugging another bag around the airport.

Of course, a lot of other people don't feel that way, and when they can't jam their stupid-huge bags into the overhead bins, they freak the fuck out and hit flight attendants in the head. I just want to voice my support for Mr. Slater, he is my hero. People suck, people on planes suck more. I have no idea how flight attendants put up with the crap they have to deal with, they are superhuman; Steven just demonstrated that he is a mere mortal when it comes to dealing with massive amounts of people's bullshit.

As I shuffled onto the prop-driven puddle jumper that would take me from Portland to Bend, I saw that 90% of the seats were already full, and as I got back more into my seating assignment neighborhood, I saw that only one seat was open. Well, it was about two-thirds open, the other third was being eclipsed by a 300-plus-pound, 6' 4" man. He was so big that his ballooning belly almost hit the seat in front of him. "You have got to be fucking kidding me" I said (in my brain). I squeezed my bony ass in next to him, we were firmly pressed together, he smelled like cologne trying to conceal horrible body odor, I was slightly nauseous. He started talking almost immediately, first about the 4,000 acre forest fire outside Bend, then about his fascinating work on an oil pipeline in Alaska, complete with vivid, mind-numbing detail. He really got going when he hit the subject of fishing, "Do you fish Thom?" "No, not since I was a kid." He recoiled, as if he had just asked me "Do you not-kill-babies Thom?" and I had replied "No, I kill babies all the time, killing babies is awesome!" He recovered, "Well...that's OK, maybe someday you'll find yourself by some water and next thing you know, you'll be fishing." "Yup, and maybe some day you'll find yourself by a bike, and next thing you know, you'll be racing a 100 mile mountain bike race" I said (in my brain).

The smoke form the massive forest fire made for a sweet sunset

I got to Bend and made my way to the race, all that was pretty uneventful, getting home wound up being a little more exciting. I had no plan for a ride to the airport Sunday, I also thought my flight was at 10:30 PM. My printed itinerary was a mess, information had jumped out of columns and ended up all over the page. So my flight was really at 7:15 PM. Still, I had all day to get to the airport, shouldn't be a problem. Right? If there was such a thing as an annoying little acronym that would convey the fact that I am laughing audibly, I would use it right now. With an exclamation point.

What I chose to do instead of getting 100% ready to go and maybe working on editing my cyclingdirt videos was to go floating the Deschutes river with Dejay Birtch, Andrew Genco, and friends while drinking Tecates. I wouldn't trade that experience for all the calm, sitting in the airport with my shit together time in the world. The tube rental place was out of tubes, but Dejay, being the staunch advocate of fun at all costs that he is, worked things out for me. I found myself in the middle of a fairly cold river, scrambling to stay afloat on a double-over therm-a-rest. According to Andrew I "looked like a monkey fucking a football." And I did. A little while later, border-line hypothermic and not-so-borderline out of time, I jumped out of the river and ran in my flip flops (or flip flips) back to the put-in spot. I hammered back to where I'd stashed my stuff, packed the bike, just as Andrew rolled up in the van. It was half an hour to the airport and we had...half an hour to get there. But we beat the Google directions time, by four minutes! I had four minutes to make my flight, with a bike case, could I do it? I stumble-ran to the ticket counter, "you're gonna think this is funny, but I'm here for the 7:15 flight to PDX." "7:15? You must mean the 6:55." AAH! But wait..."You are a very lucky guy, that plane is half an hour late, it hasn't landed yet."

It just goes to show: God watches out for children, fools, drunks, and morons who decide to float on rivers drinking Tecates instead of getting to the airport in a timely fashion. Actually, the fourth category may, technically, fall under the second and third categories. But I'm not so technical.

Chris Sheppard's bike. The tube-rock/dust-guard is apparently an old World Cup trick for keeping crap from hitting you in the face.

Monday, August 16, 2010

High Cascades 100 - Belated Proper-Report

Sorry to leave you hangin' there last week. I was feeling a bit burnt so sleep and work had to become a priority. OK, at least sleep had to become a priority. The proper High Cascades race report is up over on the 29er Crew blog, so please go check that out.

It's a day and a half to go until I leave for Breck. I think I have a place to stay when I get there, and I think my bike wasn't broken in transit coming back from Oregon. I have to take it out of the case, throw some new bits (courtesy of International Bike) on, clean it up, and put it right back in the case. Maybe we can talk more about and some other real cool shit later.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

High Cascades Helmet Cam

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After about 39 hours of consciousness, the last of which I pretty much hallucinated through, I finally got a bunch of sleep. I still look like baboons punched me in the eyes though.

Not sure how much more blawging is happening this week, but I'll be back next week for sure to begin the hyping of the Breck Epic stuff. Still don't know which major-cycling-media-outlet I'm blogging for or how it all works, all I know is I'm flying to Denver Wednesday and it doesn't seem all that far away.

Monday, August 09, 2010

High Cascades 100 Videos on Cyclingdirt

Sorry, no action here today. I haven't slept since 6AM YESTERDAY. All the hot bike on bike action is over on Cyclingdirt, so check it out.

Oh, and I will be taking a couple days off from der blawg. So much to tell, but no time to tell it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Bends

This is horribly out of character and awfully Gewillian of me, but I am double-posting today. Well, it doesn't feel like double-posting to me because I really posted at just past midnight last night (while I was not-sleeping before my 4:45 AM wake up call for my 6:25 AM flight). Thing is, I'm in Portland Oregon, they have free Wi-Fi (that's right FREE...so suck it Logan!) and I'm incredibly bored. This is what it must be like to have a desk job, blogging out of boredom...or contempt for THE MAN.

The first leg of my flight was mostly uneventful, I couldn't sleep, I never can. I had my bad-ass Panda neck pillow instead of the slightly-less-bad-ass pink pig neck pillow. The Panda pillow looks way, way better with my Big Black compression socks.

God, I wish I could track down a Big Black shirt. They used to be so readily available at Newbury Comics back in the late eighties.

We did hit a bunch of turbulence and I am not a good flier. I had an incident many years ago that I have never been able to shake. Sometimes I'm OK, sometimes I'm not. After thirty minutes of turbulence I was not OK. But I managed to calm myself down by picturing myself as Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, riding the nuclear warhead, hooting and hollering all the way to the ground.

The second leg of my flight was hell. I was sandwiched between a huge serial killer looking dude and a manic-incessant talker who over-shared stories of her drug addiction and the car-crash-related death of her boyfriend. Thankfully the talker gravitated more toward the old man across the aisle (he didn't have dark sunglasses on, earphones in, and a book hiding his face). If that wasn't enough to fill me with overwhelming joy, there was a screeching baby one aisle up. It was like the drunken Red Sox fan of babies — the Sox win, we riot and burn dumpsters; the Sox lose, we...riot and burn dumpsters. This devil-baby screeched in bliss, it screeched in frustration, it was not very discerning about its ear-splitting screeching. Oh, and all that screeching and talking made the serial killer mad, mad, mad. He twisted his large carcass in his small seat, exhaled loudly, and rubbed his face in irritation. If he had snapped, I would have gotten it first. Thanks stupid baby and chatty lady, look what you did, I'm dead now...that's just great.

At some point during the flight I had that "Oh Shit!" moment, realizing that I had forgotten my helmet. I will be duct-taping my Contour HD by V Hold R to someone else's helmet on Saturday, I hope. I mean, while it's on my head. I'm not going to duct-tape a camera to some random dude's head. I've also got a camera on loan (with the option to barter bike parts for it) from Results-Rooter. It's a Mino Flip HD. It looks way more legit than my Stylus-Not-So-Tough, which I've been using for my Cyclingdirt interviews. Now maybe Jeff Schalk will take me seriously when I accost him in the porta-potty line at NUE races.

The More I Do

The Less I have to say.

That's not really true, I have plenty to say, I just don't have the time or energy to say it. It's not even like I've replaced blogging time with sleeping time, you should see my eyes, I look like one of the zombies from 28 Days Later. I leave for Oregon at 6:25AM tomorrow and get back on a plane in Oregon at 10:15 Sunday night, but I won't get home 'til 10:30AM. Yup, I got the cheap seats. I'm hoping to post some pre-race, smack-talk vids to Cyclingdirt by Friday night, so look for that. The one where I ask Dejay Birtch about his gear ratio should be good, I might have to figure out how to bleep stuff.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Wilderness 101 - Viddy This

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Here are my excuses for the not-really-blogging today:

1.) I spent all day editing video from the 101, you can check all of it out HERE.


2.) M is watching Hot Tub Time Machine, not some cooking competition show...it's really distracting.

Below is the helmet cam video, you don't have to watch it all the way through, but I'm tellin' ya, the last few seconds are the best.

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Nick Waite's interview is pretty freaking entertaining too.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Wilderness 101 Prelude

This lack of sleep thing has gone past the big fat joke stage, I am really hurtin' at this point. I had a great 101 despite the hockey bags under my red, swollen eyes, I'll tell you all about it later over coffee. The short story is that I beat my P.R. by almost an hour, breaking eight hours, but this year that was only good for 28th place.

A bunch of the Cyclingdirt vids are up and the 29er Crew post is on its way.

We left Friday morning, Will, Montello and I. Things started off auspiciously enough, Will broke his glasses putting the bikes on the car. I think it's a good look for him.

While he was doing that, I was off doing an emergency road-side repair for M, who had flatted the rear wheel on her sweet, sweet fixie on her way to a conference. I would do a crap job, leaving a piece of glass or wire, or some damn thing in the casing, causing her to flat yet again. I would have to go back and help her out a second time. Of course I was wearing my compression-sock-New-Zealand-All-Black get up.

For whatever reason I don't seem to pull it off as well as they do.

Eventually we got the Fit packed up. Three grown men with all their gear for a hundred mile mountain bike race, jammed into a little, black clown car. A clown car that would end up smelling so bad that it wasn't funny by the end of the trip.

Only brown liquids. I've slept so little recently, I now drink my coffee out of a gallon jug.

Half way to Coburn, PA, we noticed the rack was migrating off the back of the car with our three bikes on it. Luckily we caught it before tragedy struck.

I knew fellow Breck Epic blogger grant recipient Montana was going to be there, I knew he could drive a monster truck really fast, but I did not know how fast he was on the bike. More on that later.

What I did not know was that another blogger grant recipient was going to be there, Sarah Uhl. She's super-nice and so is her (fast) boyfriend, Andrew. I'll be glad to see more of them in Breck.

We showed up late to the race venue, doing a little pre-ride on the last few techy miles of the course on Fisherman's Trail, then went for dinner and beers in Millheim at the Elk Creek Cafe. The next morning we would wake to the sound of the gong at 5:30 AM.

Tomorrow morning I will not be waking to the sound of a gong, the sound of a gun shot, or even the sound of a tractor trailer full of howler monkeys smashing through my living room wall. Or I'll be up at 5AM working on this post, trying to make it not suck so freaking much.