Thursday, September 30, 2010

PMBSR Part III Stage 5 Transylvania Loop

The third and final installment of the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race trilogy is over on the 29er Crew blog. Things will be back to "normal" tomorrow don't you worry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race Part II Stage 4

Since I began what has now turned into a race report trilogy over on the 29er Crew blog, that is where it shall be continued. Why do I send you over to the 29er Crew blog to read my manic drivel? In the words of Gerry Finnegan, "it's about respect!" The guys at Fisher (and now Trek) have been very good to me, so I in turn like to be good to doing things like sending them the four hits I will get at this blog today. They will be very impressed. So impressed that they will send me to single speed worlds to cover the antics of the Gary Fisher Collection riders in New Zealand like it's a freaking reality show.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

PMBSR Proper(ish) Race Report From Memory

Alright, I gone and done it. I wrote a proper, albeit partial race report for Pisgah. It's over on the 29er Crew blog of course. Part II tomorrow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Showing Up

Ya, I know there was some mention on Friday of a proper Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race Report getting written, well that's not gonna happen today. This has something to do with sickness, a wedding, the premiere of Dexter, and a whole lot to do with the fact that what I have written so far is boring and worthless. So that will have to wait for tomorrow...hopefully.

I was pretty excited to have my Olympus Not-So-Tough show up in the mail Friday along with the rest of the contents of my High Cascades 100 drop bag. I even took it down to the Mayor's Cup, the big money criterium that happened in down town Boston today. For some reason I'm getting error messages when I try to upload the photos from that, but that's OK, they'll look great adorning mt PMBSR report tomorrow.

I took a photo of Greg "The Leg" down at the crit, which I can't upload. Under that photo I would have written about how Greg did the Vermont 50 Sunday morning and then drove his crazy-ass down to Boston to jump in the crit. Ya, he lasted about two laps, but it was the effort that counts. Between reports from Doug Jenne and The Leg, I have a little bit if an idea of what went on up in Ascutney. Sounds like Jason Sager (who's got a wicked cool-looking web site) beat Adam "Da Spyder" Snyder on his way to setting a course record in something like 4:06. Insanity. Doug laid down a scorching-fast 4:42, but with all the fast dudes there, it was only good for 27th place. Most years a time like that would land you in the top five or ten. I hear the mysterious mountain man, Bryan Lyster won the single speed category in front of Will Crissman and Mike Ramponi. I have no idea how that all played out and I can't wait to hear about it.

I'm falling asleep with my watery eyes open. Let's try this again tomorrow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Thought Scramble

You may have noticed that I've been a little hard up for images lately, hence the above Bob's Red Mill Logo (we'll get to that in a second). This is because my errant Olympus Stylus Not-So-Tough is still on its way back from Oregon after that unfortunate-unintentional-theft-of-my-drop-bag-incident at the High Cascades 100. Word is my 29er Crew vest, knee warmers, and arm warmers are coming back along with it. But that's not important right now, what's important is that I tell you about my very exciting breakfast (Wow-wowee-wow!) and how sometimes, just sometimes, sponsoring an athlete actually has an effect on the sales of your product.

Up until a few weeks ago I had never heard of Bob's Red Mill, but then I heard that they were Mo Bruno-Roy's new title sponsor. Fast forward — no faster than that, yup there you go, four arrow fast forward, oops, too far, now back up a little bit — to last night. I'm walking down the aisle at the grocery store and I decide to get some steel cut oats. Now, normally I don't have much of a preference for what brand of steel cut oats I purchase, but then I see them there on the shelf: Bob's Red Mill. And I go "Hey, they sponsor Mo...Mo is awesome...I think it is awesome they sponsor her...I will buy these oats to support their choice to support her." Yes, all that went through my head, really.

The bonus part was when I woke up this morning, cooked up the oats, and they were GOOD. I mean really good, way better than the stuff I usually grab at Trader Joe's, a real treat. They were like these big-honkin', chewy freakin' oats. They're so tasty, I think I'm going to have breakfast for every meal today. Throw in some apples, honey, and soy milk — POW! — that's some damn good eating.

Maybe for my "dinner oatmeal" I'll throw in some meatballs or sausage.

This type of marketing doesn't always work on me. I'm not sure if Tim Johnson is even sponsored by Red Bull anymore, but when he was, and he'd pull that very UFC fighter or NASCAR driver-like maneuver of tipping back a can of his energy drink sponsor's swill during his post-race interview, I wasn't buying it. Not just because it was such a blatantly obvious, I-am-getting-paid-to-do-this move, but because it is well established that Red Bull is total shit.

Unless you like the taste of rancid hobo-urine. But hey, whatever floats your short bus.

And the thing is, I think Tim is almost every bit as awesome as Mo (I say "almost" because Mo is my neighbor and if I make her mad, she may walk across the street and crush my skull with her preternaturally strong massage-therapist hands) it's just that the product he is pimping is, how can I put this lightly...oh wait, I already called it "total shit" and "rancid hobo-urine" — not nearly as palatable as the product Mo is pimping. Although I do respect Tim's decision to get paid, by anyone, to ride his bike. Shit, if Haliburton or BP showed up at my door step and offered me money to ride my bike all day every day in the service of promoting evil, it would be hard for me to say no. I ain't judgin'.

OK, a little bit more rambling about The 50 and then I have to get down to doing some "real writing." It would be so much easier for me if each of you readers just donated fifty-cents a day to the "keep Thom P. from working a real job fund." Is that too much to ask? That greedy Sally Struthers wanted seventy-cents a day to feed the children, and that was in the early eighties.

"For just seventy-cents a day, you can feed a child like Jamal nourishing meals. For about seventy-cents a day, you can also buy a cup of coffee. BUT, for just fifty-cents a day, you can prevent Thom P. from working a real job."

Seventy-cents for a cup of coffee. Fehkin' Starbucks.

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So there have been some changes in my VT50 predictions. I did not know that Adam "Da Spyder" Snyder was showing up. And I couldn't help but peruse the start list and see that wunderkind Peter Ostroski is also signed up. Monte can still win any race against anyone, but he is going to have a battle on his hands. I think he's actually riding gears too, craziness. Ostroski had some severe mechanical issues last year which took him out of the running for the win (he even finished behind me), but I think without those issues, he would have been right there with Whittingham and Letendre, maybe not quite up there with Jakomait, but who knows, the kid is pretty talented. This year there will be no Letendre, Jakomait, or Whittingham, so I see a big battle between Snyder, Ostroski, and Montalbano going down. Of course the VT50 still doesn't have an Open or Elite category (and it should) so Ostroski will be riding with the generally slower, younger group which will be staggered behind the group all the heavy-hitters will be in. He will have the disadvantage of not being at the front of the race, but those in the front group will have the disadvantage of not knowing what the hell Peter's doing behind them. I'd hate to be one of the guys in the front group, waiting to see how long it takes for Peter show up at the finish line, counting the seconds.

Those dudes should have fun with the new-improved earlier start too. It's now 6AM instead of 6:15 AM, because it wasn't cold enough or dark enough when we started at 6:15. Hey VT50 promoter Michael J. Silverman, go out the day before the race and try to ride that first section of trail without a light at 6AM, see how it goes you nutter.

Jeebus, I have never yammered so incessantly about a race I am not doing in my life. I got issues.

Monday! I swear that I am going to put together something like a race report, if only for my own records, for the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race. God knows I got nothin' else to talk about.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Fifty For Me

I'm just going to come out and say it: I will not be doing the Vermont 50 this year. Wow, that felt better than the time, five minutes ago, when I took a shower and expectorated two gallons of phlegm. Too much information you say? Too much fluorescent green mucus I say. The main reason I am not on the start list for The 50 this year is that I have wedding the day before. Now I could go to the wedding, be a total lame-ass, not party, and try to jet out of there early, but I would still party a little and I wouldn't be able to jet out of there early enough to wake up feeling at all not-like-crap for the 6:15 AM start. I would lose on both ends. All my friends at the wedding would still think I was a douche bag and I would have a total shit race. Sunday night I would feel like more of a sad and lonely loser of a man than I normally do. Not worth it.

That knowledge was enough to prevent me from signing up when registration opened back in May. But it was just enough. I still wanted to hit that submit button "just in case." Sort of like how I signed up for SSWCNZ "just in case." I mean, who knows, the wedding could have gotten called off or something. (I'm so glad none of my friends actually read this thing, otherwise Greg would be pissed.) Back in May I couldn't have known that I would be doing the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race either. And, having never done a stage race before, I wouldn't have known that I ride like a tranquilized Himalayan cat the week after a stage race. I also couldn't have known that I would come back to the Boston-ish area completely sick after said stage race. The stupid thing is, if I didn't have this wedding I would no doubt be on that start line Sunday morning oozing phlegm from every orifice.

That's the 50 for me, I do the race almost every year, no matter what, and it's a race that doesn't suit my strengths at all, the reason I am drawn to it is inexplicable. And apparently when asked about The 50 I tend to gush a bit. Both Garth Prosser and Sue Haywood expressed interest in coming up to the race and I told them they absolutely HAD TO do it, that it was the best thing ever. I actually think that Garth could win the thing, it definitely plays to his strengths. That skinny Tinker Juarez look-a-like can climb.

I haven't perused the start list but I'm going to tap Mike Montalbano for the win. With Whittinghammer sidelined with a broken leg (that he rode on for two weeks before noticing) and Jesse Jakomait having transplanted himself to Colorado, it's anybody's race...but mostly Mike's. Although you've also got Doug Jenne who was brilliant at Breck, Will Crissman who has shown some great form recently with a second place at the EFTA Treasure Valley Rally and a sixth place in a stacked field at the Landmine Classic. Then there's The Ramponi, Mike Ramponi, coming off a second place in the scary-fast single speed category at the Wilderness 101. I'm sure all the usual top ten suspects will be there as well: Tyler Merritt, Stephen Humphreys, and Brian Lyster. It should be good, so sad I won't be there to get my ass handed to me by a long line of professional ass-hander-toers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Failed Attempt at Misdirection

I'm not sure if I have any intention of doing a proper Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race report at all. I mean, it's five days of stuff to talk about, and each day, aside from the first were long days. The short of it is that it started out really crappy and got progressively better each day. Coming off of the Breck Epic just two weeks prior did weird things to me I think. I did ride in-between the two races and I did make some efforts, but I came into the prologue at Pisgah feeling both tired and flat. What I did have was the psychological edge, I knew that I could pedal my bike every day for five days and not completely die. Shit, I could pedal for six. Actually if the PMBSR were six days long, I would have done slightly better. My best performance came on the final day when I got 8th overall, beating all the Masters 40+ Elites but one, all the single-speeders, all the women, and a couple guys who were in my stacked field. On second thought, that's bullshit. I got sick on the fifth night and woke up feeling like a Vesuvius of mucus. If I had started a sixth day feeling like that, I would have been one hurtin' gator-unit. That's the expression right?

So what I'm going to do once again is post a bunch of videos and talk (hopefully) briefly about them. I've got a bunch of loose ends to deal with and my blogging time is scarce.

A couple days of lying sick on the couch has allowed me to catch up on some stuff, stuff like Cannondale Factory ride Alex Grant's helmet-cam videos from the Breck Epic. This is the longest but by far the best one. If you want to see more of his vids, go HERE. It's awesome because, first off, it was an amazing stage. We went over French Pass up at twelve-thousand somethin' feet. There was snow, I think we were in a cloud, it was truly epic. Another reason why it's awesome is because Alex was in contention for the win, he chases Jeremiah Bishop right to the line as Bishop virtually levitates over the singletrack.

Breck Epic Stage 3 French Pass, Alex Grant Helmet-Cam:

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Further evidence that I have had some actual down time to do the thing the people call "surfing the internet," a video from Fail Blog of a kid eating massive shit helmetlessly attempting to jump a dry creek bed. The finest moment, for me, is when, after shearing the head tube off his bike, and devouring an all you can eat buffet of dirt, he says: "The chain came off."

Oh ya, before I forget...
the above photo, at the top of the post there, that's from Brad O Allen's blog. He's got more great shots of the PMBSR course over on his site, they really capture the awesomeness of the trails.

And before I go on to introduce more distracting videos, I want to say that I also finally got a chance to read Colby Pearce's Breck Epic blogs on Cyclingnews and they are GOOD. OK, I may have initially dismissed them, before having read them, as the very serious race reports of a very serious racer-dork. I was wrong. After spending nigh on a week staying in a house with Colby I realized that, however serious he may be about bike racing, he is not really that serious about anything else, and that comes across in his posts big time. And I'll be damned if his post about his stage win on the final day isn't one of they most inspirational fucking things I have ever read.

And this, this was something I picked up of the Facebooks. I am blown away at how far cycling-film cinematography has come. I saw the same progression with Skateboard and Snowboard films — each endeavor getting more polished and aesthetically awe-inspiring. This trailer raises bar, I cannot wait to see this freaking film.

Life Cycles Trailer:

Life Cycles OFFICIAL Trailer from Life Cycles on Vimeo.

And speaking of aesthetically awe-inspiring...
I meant to post this when it was slightly more timely (but still after half the world had seen it). But, if you're like me and you ambulate around the internet like you have a 56k modem, this will come as a pleasing shock to you.

Rapha Continental | B2B | Boston, MA to Windsor, VT

Rapha Continental | B2B | Boston, MA to Windsor, VT from RAPHA on Vimeo.

Although the video below is old news, it is worth another viewing, especially now that it is Cross season. My favorite moment comes about 1:20 in, when the dude trials/rolls a log on his CX bike. Wicked. Another aspect of this video that appeals to me is the lack of soundtrack and the use of bike/nature sounds. With the helmet cam stuff I'm doing, that really isn't an option, all you'd hear is loud wind-noise and horrible rattling; not crunching pine needles and a light breeze blowing through the tall grass.

Local Trails Ala CX:

Local trails ala cx from Andy Wardman on Vimeo.

Tomorrow: maybe we'll talk about how I won't be doing the Vermont 50 this year and how it's tearing me up inside like I swallowed a live ferret. I might work some more yammering about Pisgah in there too.

Best of Cyclingdirt Coverage

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Alright, so I'm gonna chill out for yet another day and fall back on the veritable bounty of Cyclingdirt coverage I amassed over the past week. Last night was the first time I really got to sit down and watch a lot of it. Much of that stuff got posted without any kind of screening, just my memory of the interview. And they sure as shit weren't edited in any way...the interviews that is; the helmet-cam stuff is heavily edited, particularly the vids for stages 4 and 5. One thing I learned from watching all those videos is that I need to focus more on, well...focusing more. The Flip Mino (which is still on loan from the Reuters collection) I'm using has a very narrow angle on the lens, you really have to pay attention to where you're aiming the thing or, in my case, not aiming the thing — like, during the mid-point of this video where I linger a little too long on Dejay Birtch's hairy nipples.

OK to Cyclingdirt coverage. The above video is of Eric Purdue, post stage 5. Eric Purdue is awesome. He is hilarious. He is the man. But apparently some people don't get him — people like Joeseph, a dude who commented below Eric's video on Cyclingdirt. I don't like talking trash (real trash) in comments sections of blogs and I don't even walk on the same side of the street as those angry-forum-folks. Incidentally, speaking of trash, did you know that the Spanish word for trash is "chatarra?" Unlike me, you probably did. I learned this from my Guatemalan housemate in Brevard, Charlie. I guess he saw a house with a yard full of a bunch of cars and refrigerators and other assorted detritus while he was driving through Brevard and he wondered why the people who lived there kept all their "chatarra."

But back to Eric Purdue and the angry this is what the guy said:

I'd like to show this doucebag some mercy on my own handbuilt, pristine, kick donkey ass trails!! I built Pisgah when I wasn't building my own shittt. I do like the follow your dreams bit, Nothing says follow your dreams like getting your ass handed to you by the first loser!!

- Joeseph

One trait that pretty much all people who spout ungrounded, venomous comments on the internet share is this: they can neither spell nor construct a coherent sentence. Case in point, this guy can't spell "douchebag" or "shit." Hell, he can't even spell his own name. Who spells Joseph "Joeseph." Yes I am a Thom who spells his name with an H, but at least Spellcheck doesn't flag my name when I write it. I hope, for Joeseph's sake, that he never crosses paths with Eric Purdue. Eric may not the the fastest cyclist, but if I had to choose the person I would least like to fight out of the PMBSR field, it would be him, hands down. If Joe-seph ever did the PMBSR I'm afraid he wouldn't make it past morning check in:

Joeseph: Yup, I'm just gonna sign in here, that's me right there, Joeseph with an extra E for no reason at all. Let me go ahead and...

Eric Purdue: (Standing behind JoEseph in his black and white ensemble, looking like a threatening Panda): You say your name was Joseph-with-an-extra-E?

Joeseph: That's right, you got a problem with that you shitt head, you deuce-bag?

What would follow is not a scene I can describe here. I'll just say that in homicide cases the term "debris footprint" is not usually applied. For this an exception would have to be made.

The rest of these are going to have to be a little less involved.

Below a man named "Shrimper" describes what it's like to inhabit a rancid squirrel suit for six hours in the humid 80-something degree heat of the Pisgah Forest:


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The highlight of this video comes near the end, when Ozzie Open womens' leader Claire Garcia-Webb takes a dive off the podium...sober:

Stage 4 Helmet Cam

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This is my most heavily edited helmet-cam vid and the tunes are wicked good. It's also got highlights from the the kids race and the pie-eating contest. Good stuff:

Stage 5 Helmet Cam:

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The best part of this one is when a kid asks Jeremiah Bishop if he's a pro rider, he says "I try" and she says "You're AWESOME!":

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What can I say, his name is Butt and he's the funniest Australian this side of Ronnie Johns. You also might learn a little bit about how my race went from this one:

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And this, this is rad. I mounted a Helmet Hero to the head tube of local hot-shot-ripper Cory Rimmer's bike. The dude is 20-years-old and he had no problem chasing Bishop or Pearce or whoever else he felt like chasing. He wasn't racing, he was just out there training. He must be kinda scary when he races. Oh, and thanks to my buddy Bullit at Cycle 9 in Carrboro it has the best soundtrack of any of these videos. I tried to keep the music local as much as I could: Southern Culture on The Skids, Superchunk, Flat Duo Jets, and...The Monks!:

Colby Pearce, Cory Rimmer-Cam

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Shoot, I wrote a lot for someone who wasn't planning on writing anything.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sick and Tired

Photo Cred: Brad O Allen

But not necessarily in that order. Yes I came home sick from The Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race, but I don't think I'd be feelin' all that well even if I were healthy. Riding 175 miles with 40,000 feet of elevation gain in five days will do that to a man...or me. It's not like I've been treating my body all that well this season, if one bout of sickness is the price I have to pay, I'll take it. I know things have been a little quiet here lately but that's only because it's gotten very noisy over on the PMBSR Cyclingdirt page. And speaking of noisy, there's nothing like flying with a chest and head cold next to a screeching-like-it's-being-put-through-a-woodchipper-baby to make you want to pull the emergency exit latch and fling yourself into stratosphere. Of course it could have been worse, I could have been wedged in next to this guy:

Seats on planes should be sold like real estate. If you pay for a house with a one car garage and you have two cars, you don't get to put your second car in your neighbor's garage. This guy's "second car" was a first model year Hummer comprised of a flaccid, sweaty, ass; taking up a good third of his neighbor's seat. At the very least big boy should have paid the dude to his right some rent in the form of a cocktail.

I have no idea why I got sick. I mean, my days down in Brevard went like this:

  • Wake up at 6:30 Am or earlier
  • Drink more coffee than the other five people in the house COMBINED
  • Take establishing shots at the venue while getting ready to race
  • Race hard for 4-5 hours
  • Hang out at the venue doing interviews for an hour-and-a-half
  • Do not pass shower, head straight to the cafe to edit vids for 2-3 hours
  • Drive over to the awards ceremony/movie night and try to edit vids while being semi-social
  • Go back to the then closed cafe to pirate their Wi Fi and eat dinner in the car, in a dark parking lot while posting my videos to Cyclingdirt
  • Get home at 10:30-11, drink a couple High Life's to unwind
  • Sleep badly for 4-6 hours
  • Do it again only with progressively less vigor and progressively more pain

It'll pick up here as the week goes on, although I still have lots of "sweet footy" to edit and post on Cyclingdirt.

And, if you're in the neighborhood and you care about access to The Fells, please attend this meeting:

Trails Action Alert!

On Monday, September 20th, 2010 DCR will be presenting their Draft Trails Plan for the Middlesex Fells at a public meeting at the McGlynn School in Med- ford, MA.

We need a strong presence from the MTB community at this meeting! Anti-MTB groups have continued to hammer DCR against any equitable changes to MTB access in the Fells and we need to make sure our presence, voices and rights to singletrack in the Fells are *strongly* represented.

Where: McGlynn School in Medford (adjacent to Hormel Stadium)

When: Monday, September 20th, 6:30-8:00pm Action: Get yourself there! Tell your friends.

More info at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Had Enough Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race?

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Well too F—in' bad kid, cuz you got at least two more days of video and then...and then I start TALKING about it. You are screwed. Unless, of course, you like-ah the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race. In that case, you're stoked.

Above is the stage two helmet cam.
I'm in the process of uploading stuff from Stage 3, check the official PMBSR page on Cylingdirt.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race on Cyclingdirt

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It's late for a post, I know.

It's been a long day and this is the shortest day of this five day race. Oh, and the easiest. Like getting shot in the gut is less painful than getting shot in the foot, just like that.

Above are my helmet cam highlights for stage one. The rest of the coverage can be found right freaking HERE.

Now I have to go home and take a shower so Garth doesn't kick me out of our rather small room for stinking like the ass end of a dead rhino.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Wicked Pisgah Mountain Stage Race Preview

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Things are way to crazy and tight for a proper, yammering, train-wreck of a blog post this morning. So what I give you is this: my Pisgah Mountain Stage Race Preview on Cyclingdirt. Get used to looking at my contorted face and listening to my umming, aahing and nervous throat clearing, 'cause that's what's in store for you this week you poor bastards.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We're Having a Fire...Sale! Oh The Burning!

I'm selling my Fuji Cyclocross Pro, it's just not a bike I ride anymore and I doubt I'll be doing any Cross this season. It's a rather smallish 58cm (it fits me well and I'm a shortish 5' 11"). It's in great shape, new brake pads, new chain, new bar wrap, but other than that it's entirely stock. Except for the tires. I actually have road tires on it at the moment, which I can easily swap to cross tires.

All the specs can be found HERE on the Fuji site.

I'm thinking about $950.

I'm leaving for Pisgah Monday afternoon, I'd love to get rid of it before then.
Hit me up at thomp2000 at the gmails or give me a call at 781-801-3107.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nothing For The Weekend

Yesterday was nuts, the most entertaining display of joyous mayhem I have witnessed since I tried to follow Dejay Birtch down a dusty, rutted out decent at Breck. (Hey, I can't get through a day without mentioning Breck; it's my 'Nam.) I worked a bike donation for The Shop over at a Boston Housing Authority development in Roxbury. This was in conjunction with Boston Bike Czar Nicole Freedman and the Mayor's office. We actually donated less bikes than we did during the Holland School Donation, but it seemed like a much bigger deal. There were camera crews, a PA system, tons of orange-shirted volunteers, and exponentially more mayhem. At the Holland School the kids got their bikes four or five at a time, and they weren't really allowed to ride the bikes outside of their brief fitting session. At this thing the kids all got their bikes at once and they were all told to go navigate a "safety course." You ever seen Death Race 2000? Death Race has nothin' on this.

Let me explain what the hell is going on here, so...

International Bicycle Center has a program in place that encourages customers to trade in their kids bikes within two years of the purchase date for a credit of up to 50% of the value toward a new kids bike. It's an incentive for people not to go buy a rickety-kid-maiming-machine from a department store. Although it is fun when they do just that and then they come into the shop and ask to get the thing tuned up: "$65! But I only spent $100 on the whole bike!" I quote my old friend Bruce Weber on that one, "OK, then why don't you bring it back to the service department at Toys R Us." "Toys R Us has a service department?" And that's when you look at them knowingly and, if they're not as thick as day old oatmeal, they get it. "Oh."

The truly crazy part of this arrangement is that the customer can actually trade that last kids bike, the 24", toward an adult bicycle. The crazier part is that almost no one does this, we get very few 24's back. The only reason I can come up with for this is this: at that age if you give a kid a choice between a bike and an iphone, the kid will chose the iphone, hands down, every time. And why the hell not? iphones have way more apps than bicycles, pedophiles can't cyber-stalk kids via a bicycle, and no teenager has ever crashed a car into an oncoming semi, killing two of her best friends because she was texting on her bicycle. I'm going to start a politically-based bicycle advocacy group called "Phones not Bikes."

The by-product of this program is that IBC ends up with hundreds of still-very-shiny and new looking kids bikes to donate. Which is very cool.

Alright, so I just wanted to get a plug in for the baffling awesome program IBC has regarding the kids bikes. They do a lot to support my racing and they even continue to employee me in some capacity while I waltz all over the country doing whatever it is I think I'm doing. I will be waltzing (I really have no idea how to waltz or why I am using that expression at all) down to North Carolina for The Pisgah Mountain Stage Race on Monday. There will be some updates here throughout the week, but most of my energy will be devoted to the video-work for Cyclingdirt.

OK, one more semi-awesome thing. Like I said, this thing was a big deal, there was even a podium for the mayor, yes the mayor. He showed up in his black SUV with his entourage, made a long speech to a bunch of baffled and ancy six-year-olds and then opened up the microphone for me. Yes me. "Ulp." I was given enough warning that this was going to happen to allow myself to become completely nervous and freaked out. I was not, however, given enough warning to plan anything to say. Which reminds me of a funny story about public speaking and me sucking at it:

Back in Breck....

crap, I have no time to tell this story, I have to go over to Roxbury to deliver 8 more bikes and nine more helmets, it will have to wait for another day, perhaps a Monday. It involves Dicky, Peter, and Tequila (no, that is not Doug's nickname, though he does need one), Christopher Walken, and me breaking glass things that are of great value to others with my bony ass.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Brecked Out

Alright, I think I'm Brecked out, but who knows, maybe some more Breck will come oozing out of my pores sometime in the next few days. And I better be Brecked out because it's time to get all stoked for The Pisgah Mountain Stage Race, which starts next Tuesday. I spoke to promoter Todd Branham on the phone last night and it was awesome, the guy got me completely amped to do this race. He used adjectives like "slow" and "hard" and "technical" repeatedly to describe the trails. There was some discussion of the "half-track" trails, singletrack so narrow that it seems un-rideable. There was a whole lot of talk about the differences between Breck and Pisgah. I know from my two Swank 65 experiences that western North Carolina's trails are much more similar to our trails here in the Boston-ish area.

Except with hills.

I mean, what the crap? Somehow the Pisgah race boasts MORE climbing per mile than Breck. I haven't done the math but it seems that way anyway. OK ya, you don't have to be Rooter to figure this one out: Breck has 37,000 feet of gain over 240 miles in six days; Pisgah has 40,000 feet over 175 miles in 5 days. AAH! Well, at least it's not at elevation. That was the only hard part about Breck right? No, not really. Once I'd acclimated, I'd be grinding up some awful climb going "yup, this would suck at sea level."

I really just came down here today to make excuses for why I wasn't going to be posting anything. Gotta head over to The Shop to finish getting the donation bikes ready for the kids.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Thank Youz, Thank Youz Very Much

I cannot say definitively that this is the very last bit of Breckiness I have to get out of my system, but here goes.

Basically I just have a whole bunch of people to thank and say nice things about. I can't even guarantee that I will be a wise ass about any of it.

Tim Faia. Tim opened the door to Breckenridge and welcomed me inside with open arms. He checked in with me daily to make sure I had everything I required. It's funny, I've "known" Tim for many years, but only through blog stuff and team stuff — first with Independent Fabrication and more recently with the 29er Crew. It made for a relaxed and easy first meeting, we spoke like old friends. I can't thank Tim enough. I also have to say that his blog: "On Your Left" is a just about every post read for me. It is everything this blog is not: deep, heavy, poetic, honest...and succinct.

Tim hooked me up with his friend Monique Merrill for a place to stay my first couple nights in Breckenridge. He explained that she was "kind of running a bed and breakfast...but she didn't want any money." Huh? What? And she didn't. Immediately I picked up that Mona was really, really into her sports; the house was cluttered with in-line skates, full-face helmets, bikes, running shoes, and who knows what else. Then her friend Sue showed up and to "play" for the weekend. This involved multiple bike rides per day and trail runs in-between. My second night staying at Mona's house, I tagged along on a group ride, where I met another super-cool person, Jeffrey Bergeron or "Biff America" a guy that moved away from Brockton, Mass the year I was born. He still hasn't lost his Boston accent.

After the ride Mona invited everyone into her restaurant, Amazing Grace for beers and nachos. At one point (after helping myself to several beers, so dangerous for me) I went to the bathroom. Above the toilet hung a giant, glossy poster of a man and a woman in a kayak, crashing through some serious, gnarly white water. The woman had this crazy warrior face on, it was terrifying. I was like holy crap...that chic is BAD ASS! Then I realized that it was my host, Mona Merrill. Turns out she's this super human adventure racer and celebrated ski mountaineer.

Mona's Protein Power sandwich.
Second only to the "Turkey Berry" in the realm of culinary awesomeness.
And this from a dude who's had waffle fry nachos at Jake's Dixie Road House
and taco pizza at Flatbread.

Amazing Grace is sort of a hub in Breckenridge, all kinds of folks pass through, either on their way to do cool stuff or on their way back from having done cool stuff. It's a block off Main, off the beaten path, but the only place to be as far as I'm concerned. The Grace will take care of all your breakfast and lunch needs better than any other spot in that town.

Thanks Mona!

Tim Faia also introduced me to Tim from The Organic Mechanic (Mona would introduce me to Russ, another Organic Mechanic) a traveling band of top-notch wrenches working out of a solar powered trailer. These guys supported the race like you wouldn't believe. And, despite the fact they probably thought I was a dick, they took care of me at the request of Tim Faia. Check them out on Facebook and look for them at Cross races all over the country this fall/winter and for fucks sake, BUY THEM BEER!

In that department I also have to thank Kris and the guys from Breck Velo. I wandered in there looking to get a tubeless tire mounted. " name's Thom, what kind of beer do you guys like? Um, I need a tire mounted..." I expected attitude like I'd get at any, and I mean any Boston shop, but what I got was invited behind the counter immediately. That's all it took. After that, they were my shop. Amazing what not being a dick to your customers will accomplish. Of course BEER also factored into the equation of friendliness here.

I'm starting to hear the "wrap it up" music here, so I'm going to do that pretty quick. But I can't forget to thank the loquacious juggernaut, the owner of the biggest dog I have ever seen, the promoter of the best high-alpine stage race I have ever done, Mike Mac. I help co-promote a dinky, little cross race once a year and it literally makes me ill. (Seriously, I ran a fever through the first edition and slept for two days afterward.) I have no freaking idea how Mike does what he does and less of an idea how he does it so damn well.

And the credits roll...

Jeff Carter, thank you for letting me crash at your place in Denver, for driving me up to Breck, and for kicking my ass on that Colorado Trail group ride the Friday before the race. Jeff doesn't have a blog to link to, he's too busy having a life...and babies.

OK, one more,
Sarai Snyder for getting my posts to Mountain Bike even though they were weird and silly.

Shoot, I could sit here an list off awesome people all day, people like Sarah, Montana, Dicky, Dougie, and Petey, but I have to go get some sleep. Worked an event for The Shop today and we're building up rapidly to another kids bike donation, um, this...Thursday? Oh crap!


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I'm Changing My Name To Brock Mantooth

I never quite got out all I had to get out regarding the Breck Epic, but now that topic is becoming less than timely and time is running out before, what is apparently, my next BIG EVENT. And for those of you who don't click the links because you're afraid I'm going to send you off to some under-age-gay-midget-porn site (again), what I linked to back there was The Pisgah Mountain Stage Race. I will be covering it for the Cyclingdirts, doing the annoying man with the camera thing. I am really hoping more Pro Men sign up, because this Demi-Pro is looking pretty shabby in the company of these bad, bad dudes:

Pro Men

Peter Butt
Evan Plews
Colby Pearce
Chris Strout
Drew Edsall
Robert Marion
Jeremiah Bishop

Hey, at least at this point I'm guaranteed a top ten finish! Top 8 even. Ozzie Peter Butt, who kicked lots of his namesake (sorry, how could I not do something with that?) out in Breck is in the Boston-ish area this week and allegedly we are going riding. Perhaps I can slip him a Ruffie and then dump ball bearings down his throat until his preternaturally skinny 6' 12" frame weighs as much as my 5' 10" frame. That way I might be able to hold his wheel on the climbs. God damn! He makes it look so easy. The only two times I saw him during Breck were both during the final, Gold Dust stage of Breck. I was amped up in the morning, so I stayed close to the front, making sure to ride with the guys who would destroy me and burn me out as quickly as possible. I rode with Peter for a while on the road while nursing my delusions of grandeur. Then, after I flatted, and I was ATTACKING the Boreas Pass climb with everything I had (everything I had was only good enough to get me half way up, where I imploded) this rider was bearing down on me like we were in the airport and he was running while on the moving sidewalk and I was walking backward while not on the moving sidewalk. I was relieved to see that it was only Peter Butt, returning to the course after getting lost. He was spinning away and chatting so I tried to hop on his wheel, he seemed to be just cruising along effortlessly, those twiggy legs moving at Cuisinart-esque RPMs. I found out pretty quickly that his pace was much higher than it appeared, and then I felt all ooky and wanted to take nap.

I haven't yet had the incredibly awkward, potentially contract-destroying conversation with my title sponsor about my intention to return to single-speeding full time in 2011. If the Mayans are right, and I have on year left to ride a bike, I want to do it all on a single speed. That and I'm slower and broker (10 speed chains are a killer) on gears. So I don't think I can sign up for the single speed class at this point and maybe, I say maybe avoid total devastation and embarrassment.

I had other stuff I wanted to talk about, but I think I'd rather talk about how I don't know a few of the guys on that terrifying Pro Men start list for the Pisgah Stage Race, and how, based on their names alone, they sound way, way tougher than I do.

First off, let's look at my name:

Thom Parsons

Not a tough name. If you picture that guy Bruce Buffer announcing a UFC fight, it is nearly impossible to imagine him announcing, "FIGHTING...out of the red corner...he's a mixed nut enthusiast, with a professional record of no wins, eighty-three losses, and five no-shows...standing five feet ten inches tall, weighing in at an un-toned one hundred sixty-seven pounds...FIGHTING out of Somerville Massachusetts...Thom 'Why Do I Have An H In My Name' Parsons!"

It just doesn't work.

But Chris Strout, that's a tough name. He wouldn't have to change his name to be a UFC fighter. Strout, it sounds like "shout" or "stout," it even has the word "rout" in it. Tough.

And Drew Edsall. The dude has the same first name as Drew Barrymore, and Drew Barrymore can do this:

You follow my logic?

Then there's Robert Marrion. His last name is the same as John Wayne's birth first name (but with an extra R, but who's counting?). Like a boy named Sue, John Wayne grew up quick and he grew up mean (and then he changed his name to a Man's name when he couldn't take it anymore) and Robert Marrion may have followed a similar path. Shit, he may have changed his name from Robert Mantooth or Robert Magnusson to Robert Marrion, just so kids would mess with him. He might be that freaking bad ass. I am not about to go pick a fight with him to find out.

You follow that logic?

There will be some more sprechen about the Brecken tomorrow, and other stuff.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

Look! A Unicorn!

I have no real time to write today, so please allow me to re-direct your rapt attention to other Breck Epic related media.

For instance:

The above depicted Peter Keiller's account of defying the advice of a cycling industry icon.

Or the below depicted Doug Jenne's very thorough, extensive, and coherent reports from Breckenridge.

Or how about Montana Miller's thrilling tale of finding a beach towel one-thousand miles away from and 13,000 feet above the ocean.

And if that hasn't left paraplegic with delight and drooling in your desk chair, then check out Sarah Uhl's unique observations over on Singletrack.

Of course if you aren't as Breck-Epic-Centric as the rest of us, you can go listen to Dicky as he sort of talks about the Breck Epic while he talks about some other stuff, like becoming a Geared-O Weird-O.

If you like-ah the video, Cyclingdirt's got all sorts of fast Cannondale-dude Alex Grant's helmet cam vidz up all over the place.

Well, I'm outta time and there's still a lot more Breck Epic stuff out there. A good place to find it all is right on the Breck Epic Facebook page.

I'm still waiting for Mountain Bike to publish yesterday's post, yes, the peeing in my pants one. They titled my last post "White Knuckling Wheeler Pass." Perhaps they'll title that one "Yellow-Chamois-ing The Gold Dust Loop." I'm not going to hold my breath though. And I'm probably not going to hold my breath waiting for a call from Mountain Bike editor David L'Heureux telling me if I have a job doing a Dave Barry (if he rode a bike and was weirder) type column for Mountain Bike.

P.S. - Sweet! I just got a call from Washington state. A dude named Andrew has my errant camera and a bunch of other crap that I thought I lost permanently at the High Cascades 100. I am, as Adam "Da Spyder" Snyder says: STYCHED!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Breck Epic Stage 6, Golden Showers on The Gold Dust Loop

This is the last of my Breck Epic Posts. Man, have I enjoyed not staying up writing the past few days, but now I suppose I have to come up with something to fill out the rest of the week. And what is it...Wednesday? Damn.

I thought they weren't going to publish my last post over there on Mountain Bike, but they did. I am almost positive they won't publish this one — it's basically all about peeing in your pants. Who knows, maybe they'll love it and put it in their print magazine. Everybody loves stories about other people peeing in their pants. Not as much as they love stories about other people pooping in their pants, poop beats pee, every time.

My Stinky Left Foot

Those who think the words "epic" and "brutal" are played out or cliched are probably just bitter because they haven't done anything epic or brutal lately. I think they should come out to Colorado to do the Breck Epic, I defy those haters to hike/ride over French gulch or Wheeler Pass and not use the words epic or brutal. I defy them.

Today was the "easy" stage. We rode out of the Ice Rink parking lot that has served as ground zero for the 2010 Breck Epic all week. As we rolled up the road during our not-so-neutral-as-per-usual start, I realized that I should have peed beforehand, but I was feeling good. I wondered if I was going to have an "I am totally going to pee myself" day. The kind of day where I'd be so concerned with losing time that I'd have no qualms about urinating in my bib shorts. There are many behind the scenes occurrences that are not discussed in professional cycling; peeing in your pants is one of them. Ya, during the Tour De France the riders take very civilized "natural breaks," where they pull over on the side of the road to take a leak, but there is nothing civilized about mountain biking. Nobody bats an eye when a rider attacks a competitor during a technical. No press conference apologies are necessary, no anti-I'm-a-big-fat-jerk ads have to be run. That, and we pee our pants. Well, let me speak for myself...I pee my pants. The thing is, when you're wearing lycra it's not so much like you're peeing your pants. The lycra doesn't hold all that much liquid, that's its nature. It's much more like you are peeing your shoe, more on that bit of wonderfulness in a second.

Back in the day when I was a Sport going on Expert racer, I had a discussion with my wicked fast friend Colin. He told me that the difference between a Sport racer and an Expert racer, aside from riding your bike for more than three hours a week and not eating nachos three meals a day (What, you've never had "breakfast nachos?" You haven't lived.) was this: Expert riders are willing to pee their pants to win...or at least place in the top eleven. Not too long after that discussion I was faced with that very situation: pee my pants or lose forty-five seconds to a minute not peeing my pants. It was a, pun unavoidable, watershed moment. At first it was incredible, such a huge relief, "Oh wow, this is great, the best feeling ever!" Having to pee really bad is the definition of negative reinforcement. It's not like peeing feels really good, it's that not-peeing feels so bad. You're just removing the horrible discomfort of not-peeing.


Then the pee began running down my leg, which wasn't so bad either. Then it started to my left shoe, and the shoe got heavy, "Ugh, this is not so great, this feels quite ooky." The pee-filled shoe feeling is not awesome, but it beats the feeling of a borderline exploding bladder any day. And that is all I'm going to say about pee and shoes for now. Oh wait, one more thing: don't forget to wash your shoe, and for the love of God, don't leave the thing in the car overnight in the middle of summer. Your wife will murder you...and me, for telling you that peeing in your shoes is a very-pro thing to do.

So yes, I peed my pants today and it was amazing. I even got to ride through a couple streams to rinse off some of the result, but then, immediately after letting 'er rip, I flatted. Again. I am a flat-machine. I can flat any tire at any pressure on any terrain. I could flat downhill tires riding over bubble wrap. Anyone need a tire-tester? I'm available. I was standing there on the side of trail wearing my bib-shorts-turned-ineffective-adult diapers feeling kind of like an idiot. If I had only waited a few more minutes I would have been able to pee on the side of trail like a normal person while fixing my fifth Breck Epic flat. That way I could have spent more time drinking beer at the finish line, instead of running off to get out of my stinky-pee pants before I got made fun of for being a chamois-wetter.

One of the rules of The Breck Epic was "Don't be poopy," but there was no rule about "not being pee-pee." That was a joke for all the six-year-olds in the audience, thank you. Thank you very much.

I hope you have found this race report about the final stage of the Breck Epic educational and informative. With any luck, I'll be back next year to ride these sweet trails and pee in my shoe some more. See you then.