Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I called up my main man in Columbia at Harrells Bicycle World and asked his professional opinion on what brakes I should look into. Without hesitation, he told me to ditch the Hayes and go for Shimano. I told him to give me some time. I did some research on the Shimano Brakes and they seemed to have pretty good reviews so I called Paul back up and told him to order them.
I ordered the XTR calipers and the XT levers. I also ordered a 7” rotor for the front. I dropped my bike off on Thursday evening. Saturday morning I went over to the shop before they were open and voila my new brakes were all setup.
I had a problem when I installed my Hayes on the Drunken Monkey. I could never get the front caliper aligned just right. Come to find out that my Walt Works fork’s disc mount holes were not bored to the same depth. He bored the hole out for me so the caliper would sit straight.
The brakes are setup perfectly for my riding style. They are nice and tight so I can one finger the steep technical descents and still have four fingers for holding onto the bouncing madness. They are also mounted perfectly for quick rear wheel removal as there is no need to loosen bolts. This is very handy and why I love the horizontal drops with a quick release.
They also use mineral oil instead of DOT brake fluid, so if I do happen to have catastrophic failure again, I won’t have to worry about the harm I have done to mother nature. Hippie brakes, fantastic! Supposedly there will be very little maintenance required with these brakes. They should run a long time without having to bleed them.
I am using the semi-metallic pads as of right now. I will have to wait until I get a good rainy ride in to know whether they will hold up. These pads and brakes are quiet, super quiet. I could goose the road runner with my handlebars at this point. I have a set of full metallic pads to try as well.
I have also been looking into some other ways to relieve my hands of any numbness that might come from sitting on the bike for hours on end. Paul gave me some bar ends to play with. I have never ridden with bar ends before and I must say that for cross country they stink. I hate them with a passion. Luckily I learned quickly that when your hands are on the bar ends, there is no way to brake.
See I am a wide gripper. I usually ride with my hands way out on the ends of the bar. This way I can “feel” how wide the bars are for weaving and bobbing through the trees Muhammad Ali style. The bull horns prevent this.
I did see a great advantage to having them for extended climbs though. They give you a great amount of leverage for out of the saddle efforts. I foresee the ends being a big help on my long mountain days. It is also very nice to have some different hand positions. I will most likely run them on some of my longer rides and races but for short rides I will not have them on. I am still learning their nuances though so who knows.
Last night we had Dave, Dave, MtnGoatEpics, D-Kuntz and Broussard in for a ride.
It was an awesome night to be in the woods. I could say a lot about this ride but I will let the pictures say it for me.
Did you know that D-Kuntz and I are brothers?
Dave showing us what he’s got after the steep climb:
The Goat himself: Peace
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
My ultimate moments from last year were probably coming down Black Mountain in our 13th hour on the bike during PMBAR. It was the only time I have ever wished for a downhill to be over.
The second time I rode hard enough to catch the bug was when I was lying on the gravel, 75 miles in on the Shenandoah 100 puking nothing and shivering like I was racing the Iditarod. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the suffering from those two events.
So I dug up these old pictures from last year to try and remember the feeling. Let’s reflect shall we? So let me set this picture up. It was my first 12 hour race, it was hot enough to make Dr. Evil happy, I wanted to complete 100 miles in 12 hours. I completed 80 and this picture explains it all:
At least I was suffering properly in that picture, I had a beer.
Last night I went out and rode Paris. As I was headed out of the parking lot I saw Ty and stopped to say hello. We started chatting about the new trail and he was telling me they have some steep grade issues they are trying to resolve. They are looking to build some ladders to prevent erosion on the steep sections. Here is a picture of a “trial” (yes they are trying it out and it is not on the trail yet) ladder they are using:
It is hard to tell, but that ladder is at a 43 degree pitch. That’s pretty steep. Most likely they will incorporate steps along with the ladder for hikers. Ty was having some issues figuring out how they would incorporate them into the trail properly. I suggested using them for the steep section of a switchback. It is going to be a cool trail for sure!
One last picture from my ride:
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
So I don’t have much to say this morning as I just drove in from Columbia and I have a meeting to get ready for.
So I will leave you with my game face for the Gathering:
Monday, March 26, 2007
Friday evening Kristin and I went to see Carolina Ballet’s production of “Cinderella.” Kristin teaches dance to these young children and so it was our privledge to get to see them for free. As Kristin sat there, watching with a critiquing eye, I started thinking about the similarity in her passtion to be a dancer and mine to be outdoors and on the bike. It is good that we are both very passionate about things in our lives. That way we are more understanding of how much time goes into these sorts of things.
I wondered if there were any ballet enduro nut jobs out there. It does seem as though ballet takes a lot of endurance. However, I couldn’t find any 24 hour ballet’s or anything of that sort.
I did find that the longest tap dance ever was 20 miles 63 yards and it took 8 hours to complete. I wonder if he or she used any sport legs or hammer gel.
I did listen to my own advice this weekend. While I was out at Harbison, I met a fellow on a Voodoo 29’er. We rode together for a bit since we were on our own but quickly parted ways as we set our own paces.
I have some new weapons installed on the Drunken Monkey but I am not yet ready to reveal them as they have not been fully tested.
I am sure this weekend will give them a good run down though.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I started back up riding at a very easy pace and when I would go on group rides I would always be sucking wind in the back. I had a couple weeks under me and then the spring gathering in Pisgah was here. I had never been to a gathering or met anyone at one of the gatherings before but I wanted to go so I could meet more like minded people.
I had just recently joined MTBR and I figured “What’s the worse that could happen when you incorporate bikes and beer?” Kristin and I weren’t able to make it Friday night, we showed up around 10:00 Saturday morning. When we arrived, we quickly set up the tent and I noticed that there were two cats getting ready to ride. Everyone else was already gone on rides for the day. I rode over and asked if they would mind me riding with them. One of them said “We are going to the top of Farlow and we don’t really know where we are going.” I said “perfect just give me a minute.”
I made sure Kristin had everything she needed for a relaxing afternoon; (unbeknown to me that I had forgotten the bicardi part of her bicardi and cokes) I suited up and rode over to make my introductions. The two guys introduced themselves as Rich and Josh, another independent rider Drew, joined us.
As we started our ride, I noticed that Rich and Josh were riding fully rigid single speeds. I didn’t even realize that people did that in Pisgah. I figured it spelled out death for sure. Drew was on a single speed as well but he had a fork. I was on my Gary Fisher Cake.
As we were headed out, I remember Drew making the comment “So you just show up, set up the tent and tell your girlfriend that your going biking all day? That is your girlfriend right?” I said “Yes, she is cool.”
A couple lungs later and probably 9 or 10 hours of wait time for Rich and Josh, we were at the top of the “gnarliest” bike legit downhill in all of Pisgah. I rode down the first wall of rock and had to bail before the “big stuff.” I watched as both Josh and Rich negotiated moves that I would have thought impossible on a rigid bike. I remember specifically Rich cleaning a super steep section that blew my mind and my front brake trying to negotiate the top half, more or less the bottom half. I walked down spitting dirt saying “Crap, you friggin cleaned that didn’t you?”
After the weekend was over, I was staring at Jeremy’s site, wondering if I was going to try any races for the 2006 season when I noticed a link he had on his site at that point in time. It said “TeamDicky” and I remembered a few people calling Rich that name. So I clicked the link and there was a picture of Josh coming down Farlow.
I started posting my rides on MTBR just to see if I could get anyone to ride with me in the mountains. At first, no one paid my threads any attention. After a while, people started jumping in on the rides and I was meeting new people all the time. We had so many people show up for my birthday ride last November that I couldn’t even figure out who was riding with us and who was just there to ride.
Fast forward to a year later and now I have met so many good people through my initiatives and biking. We are headed to the Gathering this year knowing a laundry list of people and I can’t wait. Things have gotten so out of control that my own link is on Jeremy’s site, he even has a picture up of Eric that I snapped while he was coming down Sinkhole in Wilson’s creek.
It is pretty cool to think about, how strong our inter-web of mountain bike crazies is. So now, here I sit typing for a BLOG entry of my very own and I actually have readers and people that look to my site for valued (ok not really valued) information and a few moments of sanity during busy work weeks. I enjoy everyone's comments and feedback as this is a great tool for outing my creativity that I have every now and then.
I write this just to remind everyone of how lucky we are to be healthy, have a great area to mountain bike in and all of the wonderful people you get to meet on the trails. So remember this spring and summer while you are riding, smile and be courteous to your fellow trail users, sometime soon, they might be your friend.
So in the end I say thanks, thanks to everyone for putting time and effort in on the gatherings and being so kind to those who we have never met before. Thanks to those who have shown me a new form of mountain biking. Thanks to everyone that I have met along the way and everyone I am going to meet. We all hold an awesomely unique position to aspire to do more in a world where laziness seems to be increasingly overwhelming.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
We parked at the Fawn Lake area last night. Here was our route:
Fawn Lake loop, Mine Mountain, Airstrip, Shelter Rock, Corn Mill Shoals, Bridal Veil falls Road, Barn Trail, Shelter Rock, Conservation Road, Airstrip, Shelter Rock, Corn Mill Shoals, Shoals, Laurel Mountain, Cart Trail, Reasonover out and back
I have never done that route exactly; we just rode hard and kept an awesome pace. My new Nevegals are giving me “nevitude.” I feel like I am cornering on rails at all times. They corner so well that I am grabbing onto more aggressive lines than I am used to. When you lean the tires over to turn, a turning method that is extremely effective with 29’ers, they feel like you are still flying straight because the outside knobs are so prominent. Soon I am going to push the tires to the limit and find myself on the ground. I almost did last night on the new section of Corn Mill shoals. Both tires slid out from poor turning technique by me but they caught before I hit the ground and I just ended up perpendicular to the trail on the bike.
We were really warmed up when we got to Reasonover and D-Kuntz was leading. Past the uphill, it turns into this rock and roll roller coaster from heaven. We were flying through the trees. I could hear the grip of my tires chewing into the dirt as we held our speed into and back out of tight corners. We were ripping.
D-Kuntz and I commented on the fact that we don’t know too many other places where we feel comfortable going that fast through the woods.
Rest days follow,
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I saw one of my old college buddies over the weekend and it reminded me of a time when we used to have pep talks. We would go over to each other’s perspective place of residence, prepare (drink) to go out, and then we would conclude with some manly terms for the evening.
Yesterday before my ride I had to sit the Drunken Monkey down and have a pep talk. DM wanted to chat about our good times together but I couldn’t let things waver off course, so I had to cut her off.
I let her know my initiatives (I hate the word goals and expectations) for the season. I explained how even though I have good knowledge of the Ranger District she might still be called upon to make some crucial north, south, east, west decisions in May. I talked about how warm she would be when we go exploring in Georgia and not to forget her swim suit so she doesn’t have to go skinny. I discussed our early to bed, early to rise routine for our trip through Virginia.
When I commented on her good looks and sleek figure she brought up a good point. She said “Your fat and lazy, you drink too much beer and I want to go faster.” I quickly responded with “Whooooooaaaa there Miss DM, this is a PEP-talk not a DOWN-talk.” She agreed to keep it positive and told me that my hair was “strikingly dapper today.” I sensed sarcasm in her voice.
So after some good words of encouragement we decided that we should have these talks more often. Then we rode like the wind.
Now that it is light out, people are more inclined to speak to you out on the trails. Last night when I got to the top of Sulphur Springs, I always have to stop because the pitch is so steep up and down that you want to gather your composure before going down and I saw two riders at the top.
After I stopped, I got these two quotes:
“You don’t have a front fork or a back fork.”
“Where are your shifters.”
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Kristin and I went for a quick walk around the Congaree Swamp again yesterday. All the water had subsided and we got to see a huge woodpecker. We had seen some large holes that this beast of a bird had created before but this is the first sighting of the bird.
I can imagine that as close as we were it was a bird watcher's fantasy. However, I am not a bird watcher. Unfortunately, I did not get a good shot of the guy doing his business. He seems to prefer dead trees as they had the most holes.
Well I believe I have made my decision for the year. I am doing all of my races on the Drunken Monkey come hell or high water. I haven’t still completely committed to single speeding the hundred miler’s. It will depend on my physical limitations at that particular point in time. Yes, I have a lot of physical and mental limitations.
The DM will see some more makeovers in the near future though. There are still some additional weapons that I might need to add. Who knows, you might even see the Drunken Monkey featured on this show sometime in April.
Monday, March 19, 2007
On Sunday we purged our souls of the St. Patrick’s festivities with a short hike up Stone Mountain in GA. They have a tram to the top of this mountain even though it only takes twenty minutes to walk up it at an easy pace.
Does this sentence hit home with anybody?
“Relish the challenge of overcoming difficulties that would crush ordinary men.”
It is a sentence from “Will and Suffering” written by Mark Twight.
Dave sent me a link to this article:
It is a very short but great article about Alpinist. It can easily be applied toward just about anything but most importantly, endurance mountain biking. He thought about sending me the article after the slightly sadistic route out at Dupont last week.
Here is my four part series on how to take a group photo:
1. Set up camera, set on custom timer as you please, run.
2. Attempt to arrive in position quickly:
Friday, March 16, 2007
The trip didn’t seem to take as long as it did last year when we hiked up. We stopped at the shelter on the way up for a break:
Once we were at the top we were rewarded with great views and swirling Hawk. They were riding the waves of wind that would rush up the two sides of the rock. At one point I could count about 7 of them. It was mesmerizing watching them float effortlessly through the air. I could have stayed there and watched them all day.
As we sat taking in the view:
We noticed some teenagers that had come up in running clothes. Out of five of them, no one carried a single thing. No water or anything at all. As we hiked back down I heard the gitty teenagers behind me. I figured they were in a hurry since they had nothing to eat or drink and decided to let them around. However, when I turned around they weren’t rushing to get by me. They were slurping the ground seepage where everyone hikes down. YUMMY!
You can’t beat that place for a nice day hike. I would mark it down as semi-strenuous.
Have a great St. Patrick’s weekend.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Sorry you won’t get that title unless you are in the know. Last night Mtn Goat, BrouSSard, Dave and I all rode Dupont.
Our route was slightly sadistic as we didn’t feel like crossing the creek or heading north.
Corn Mill Shoals, Long Side, Pine Tree, Rock Quarry, Buck Ridge Road, Micajah, Wilikie, Corn Mill Shoals, Big Rock, Cedar Rock, Little River, Cedar Rock, Big Rock, Corn Mill Shoals, Burnt Mountain, Nooks, Burnt Mountain, Corn Mill Shoals, Longside, Twixt, Rock Quarry Road, Micajah, Wilikie
Shewwwwwwwwwwww, that’s a lot of names for 15 miles. And people wonder why you have to have Dupont memorized to ride there.
I had a milestone last night. I climbed Big Rock for the first time. No one cleaned it. Then we went down the tech side of Cedar and came back up the easy side. Well, for the first time ever, I made it up Cedar without walking!
We completed a small amount of mileage but we earned it the hard way. The figure eight we did on Cedar was breath taking to say the least. Next time I think we will park at Fawn Lake for some less sadistic riding. Good for the soul.
Ok enough of the gibberish.
Jeremy and Dave climbing hard.
Ahhhhhhhhh a Burnt Mountain sunset, does it get any better?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
In other news I was able to make my circuit out at Paris last night. I was trying out some new weapons. I recently received some Nevegals that I installed for the first time last night. Here they are in all their fatness:
Now you must first understand something when I tell you about these tires. While I was riding my suspension bikes I never really took the time to research tire options. I just kind of ran whatever. Now with the Drunken Monkey I pay very close attention to these things.
The Nevegals inspired a new confidence in me. I have seriously never ran a tire with this aggressive of a tread pattern and volume. Wow is all I can say. I could even feel sand and dirt flying off the tire onto my legs around corners. There were two times last night were I was really testing the tire and my own limits when I would hit a root and send the front tire through the air. I would un-weight the front end and get ready for disaster but the tire just hooked right back up. AWESOME!
My other new weapon is shown here:
Yup I got some “adventure racing” shoes. I figure most of my rides involve hike-a-bike so why not get something more suitable to this design. The soles aren’t as stiff as I would like but that is the trade off for being able to actually hike over rocks with some sense of safety.
The shoes are definitely comfortable and the first ride I had with them was over 40 miles so I am confident in them already. It is weird to look down and see a normal looking shoe though. It doesn’t seem right.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
So on with the fun and games.
Saturday there was a worry that rain would impede our plans but fear not. Here is the entire group waiting at the top of Bear Branch:
After Bear Branch Jeremy decided he would fix a mechanical in the middle of an open fire road around the corner just to make it extreme. Either that or he was hammering his loose cleat in with the handle bars.
After Bear Branch we made the climb up to the parkway so we could drop into Bent Creek.
As we were flying down the hill into Bent Creek all I could think about was climbing out. I had never actually crossed into Bent Creek that way before and I was wondering how much climbing there was.
The tunnel at the top of Wash Creek road and the Parkway:
We proceeded on to ride a lot of trails in Bent Creek. I am not sure of all the names as Goat Epics was leading at this point.
I did stop to take a picture of one of the many rhododendron tunnels:
I was pulling the caboose on Saturday as I struggled most of the day. At one point, I came around the corner to Dennis sawing away at a fallen tree:
Here is Momentum coming down the end of Green’s Lick. We had two flats on that bad boy:
We did eventually make it up to the top of the Parkway again. It was everything I could do to stay on the bike and not walk at this point. Here is one of the most famous signs on all of the parkway:
There are three tunnels to navigate, luckily this section of the Parkway is closed this time of the year. I wish it were always closed to cars.
Did I mention there was a threat of rain?
We crossed the creek at the end just to give my new shoes a proper test.
Somebody decided that the joke was on me. At least my car wasn’t broken into.
I was whooped at the end of the day. Thanks to those who came out and a special thanks goes to D Kuntz for providing post ride brews!
Monday, March 12, 2007
We took Wash Creek road over to Bent Creek and then rode what I would suspect to be 75% of Bent Creek. The climb coming back to the parkway almost killed me. I was not having a good day but I struggled through it.
Somewhere around 40 miles in six hours.
On Sunday Broussard and Meaghan joined Kristin and I for a hike up to Table Rock. It was another long day on our feet but it was all worth it. Both days turned out to be beautiful. Unfortunately, my computer is not cooperating with the pictures that I took. Some of them might be corrupted. I will hopefully salvage them this week.
That's it for now.
Friday, March 09, 2007
We are on our way as petitions are out around the local bike shops so stop in and put your name and number down if you are interested in seeing MTB growth in the area. Don’t think petitions work? Well Mr. Andrew started the petition to allow night biking at Paris, we got a hundred names and guess what? Now we are allowed to ride two nights a week out there.
We have made contact with the SORBA folk and it looks very promising so far.
On another good note some folks went out to Fants Grove on Wednesday to make some notes about where we can improve the trail and make it rideable again. This would be great if it happened. We would then have Croft, Issaqueena, Dupont, Paris, Lynch’s and Fants Grove all within an hour of Greenville. Can you say MOUNTAIN BIKE MECCA?
For those of you who have been living in the dark, there is a big big ride going down in Pisgah tomorrow. If ya wanna come out here are the details:
On bikes @ 8:30Location: 1206 parking area just before the gravel and bridge past North Mills.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Since I have no bike news or Dog Runner’s to talk about I will relate a story from lunch yesterday.
To understand this story’s context, you must first know that I live in South Carolina where there is still controversy over the confederate flag being flown over the state house.
A disturbingly funny thing happened to me at lunch yesterday. I went to McCallister’s to eat and as I sat down to read my book and await my food I realized I was opening the book to the next chapter entitled “The Klu Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents.”
Let me give you some background. I started reading the book “Freakonomics.” This book is basically a study of economics through slightly skewed observations in society. In this particular chapter, the author explains how the hoarding and exploitation of information can have advantages or adverse effects on your organization as a whole. Let me just state for the record, in no way is this book racially, religiously or politically biased.
So here I am trying to hide the first page as I don’t want the general public peering at my book to see the chapter title and think that I am some racially bigoted individual when my food comes. So I eat and read in peace. . .
Until along comes the “ask if everything is to your satisfaction guy,” to ask me if my meal is ok. I gave a quick reply “yes” and went straight back into the book. At this point, I had a salt shaker on the left hand corner of the book, holding the page down and covering the title of the book “Freakonomics” but the chapter title “The Klu Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents” on the upper right hand corner was exposed. The AIEITYSG guy then said “Whatcha readin’ on?” I wanted to grab his wrist twist it in a not so comfortable fashion slam his face against the book Chuck Norris style and say “PLEASE, mind your own business.” However, I just said “A book.”
He laughed as though my comment was a joke and then proceeded to put his face directly above my book which was also strangely close to my food, read the chapter title and said “Ooooooooooooooo Interesting.” Then he walked off.
I am sure that as he was leaning in, he saw my angst at this action and probably only read the first three words. So now this little twit thinks that some white supremacist with a beard (me but not really me if you know what I mean) is inside McCallisters eating a sandwich while. . . . you get the point.
Mind your P’s and Q’s and stop worrying about my bidness.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
It was nice seeing the park lit up by the sun again. I haven’t seen that in quite some time. Once down at the lake I took my first break of the day. Things at the lake were peaceful as always:
I rode the loop around the lake avoiding the log bridge. I went clockwise around the lake which is the best direction for riding the log but I wasn’t feeling the consequences today and if you aren’t feeling it no reason to even try.
Next up was to be my climb out from the lake. Wow, that is a hard climb. Luckily I didn’t hit any riders coming down this time so it was smooth.
After Brissy, I got to the top of Firetower and noticed that the sun was just right for a picture of the old chimney to the house that used to be used for I don’t know what. So I snapped one:
I cruised down the technical side of Firetower and then up to the top of Sulphur. At this vantage point you can see 360 degrees. The sun was setting and changing the sky non-dramatic purples and pinks.
This guy runs with his dog draped across his shoulders and neck holding both is hind legs in his left hand and front legs in his right hand. Yes, just like a dog-made scarf. Yes, he really runs as well. Tonight he moved aside to let me pass and blurted out a hello that I couldn’t quite make out. I was just so mesmerized to see him again. The first time it was almost dark and I thought someone at work had slipped Strick-9 in my sweet tea.
Now I know he is real and not a figment of my imagination. Next time, I will see if I can strike up a conversation. This subject needs further researching.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
As we made the drive, I thought about the recent rains and the swollen rivers and figured we might not even be able to get anywhere. They have a raised boardwalk that takes you about a story off the ground around the park. The water was flush with the wood in spots. We were able to hike on most of the boardwalk, even though it appeared that earlier in the day most of the spots we were on were under water.
It made for some cool views. I took the picture above while standing on the boardwalk. All the other times we have been there, that would have been dry land. I can imagine it is a cool place when the rains come.
As we were walking out in the dark we heard something of decent size jump off a tree into the water and swim away. Kristin went diving over the edge to see what the creature was. Ok, it didn’t happen exactly like that.