New Winter Project

Well, I've been thinking about this non-stop since I took that Carbon 29'er Cannondale out for a test drive about a month ago: I certainly don't have now, nor am I willing to bet that even in early spring, will I have an "extra" $2,700 laying around in order to buy that bike. Job ONE is to save cash and get ourselves out of this crap neighborhood and into a larger house. Family first. (Dammit, I hate being responsible.) Who knows, something could happen next fall that would make a carbon niner possible.

SO anyways, I've been trolling eBay for a decent Cannondale frame to replace the 1997 General Lee...who is one size too small for me (Medium) and the HeadShok is on it's last leg. (The guy at the shop said pretty much when it dies this next time, that will be it.)

After doing much research, the cheapest way into a "new" bike, but still using the less-than-one-year-old parts from the General was to buy a new frame, HeadShok, Disc brakes and call it good. Everything else I have existing and in great shape, ready to integrate into the new bike.

So, without further ado, I present to you the Blue Bomber: $300. Brand new, never assembled. 2006. I will have to probably buy a $200-300 HeadShok cartridge for it and $250 worth of disc brakes, but for less than $900 I can have myself a "new" bike.

It's easy to think that if I would have saved up this $900, plus the $800 or so I spent on refurbishing the General Lee last winter, that I'd be more than half way there, but I would also have not been riding a mountain bike for two solid years - which is unacceptable garbage-talk.

The General will be no more in a month or so. So long my friend, someday I will bring you back to life. Maybe as a rockin' single speed. RIP.

Blue Bomber with Fatty Super Ultra DLR80 HeadShok
(I'm gaining 20mm in travel over my old fork.)

"Dual Assault". I think 2006 was the last of the "Handmade in USA" frames,
as Cannondale was sold to Dorel Industries (the people that own crappy Pacific Cycles)
and frames since then have been outsourced to Taiwan. This will be a keeper.


Turkey Jerker

Decided today to ride from my house to Luton to ride the trails then head home before going out (for the first time ever) for Thanksgiving dinner. I figured maybe the extra exercise would mean I could load up on a few extra desserts. HA

It was a chilly morning, but also very humid with some sort of gray haze everywhere. I thought it was supposed to be sunny, but I don't think I ever saw it.

Definitely didn't set any land-speed records here as it was just super-nice to get out of a busy house, away from the stresses of work in order to properly feel the burn. As long as I was moving forward, I considered that good enough. Otherwise, there was no goal in mind for this ride. Kind of a nice change of pace.

Only crashed once. It happens every time my legs are tired from riding the roads on my heavy mountain bike, then attempt to maintain correct lines and balance once I reach the single track. It was slimy out there today with decomposing leaves and a fresh rain from the day before. I was coming in hot through a sweeping left turn, the bike slid out from underneath me and I slid with the only thing stopping me being my left collarbone slamming into a small sapling. As I'm laying there fresh from the wreck, my left calf cramped up and I was scrambling to unclip both feet in order to relieve the cramp. I bet it would have been funny to see. I would liken it to watching someone scramble up from the ground after having a bee in their shorts. After just a few minutes, I would reach a turning point to where I could bail out on the trail, I actually forgot to turn off because I wanted more trail. Too late to turn back now. It hurt for the next 3-4 miles pretty bad and was better by the time I got back onto the road.

Overall, a good ride. I can tell with my lack of sleep and regular exercise lately, I'm already losing some of my conditioning. Want to stay "in it", but also take some time to recover/heal over the winter from a long 2011 season.

With this ride, I surpassed my 2,000 mile goal for the season. Thinking back, I missed a few rides I was hoping to do, so adding those in I could have easily reached 2,300 miles this year, which is amazing. I would have never thought it possible.

One more month's worth of riding to go. Maybe I still can reach 2,200 miles??!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I love riding dirt roads. It's all I pretty much plan on riding this winter.

A serene Luton Trail.


Random update

Okay, with almost a full two weeks of Iceman disapointment behind me, I'm ready to start my march into winter riding in preparation for a few early spring races. I've joined up with the Rapid Wheelmen MTB Race Team in hopes of learning a few things about racing - hopefully also this will help give me the drive to do lots of racing in 2012. Good group of guys, so it should work out good. All leading up to (hopefully) a stellar performance at next Iceman.

On Tuesday, I drove all the way out to Grand Haven after work to this tiny bike shop, Loose Spokes, just to try on and order up some NorthWave winter riding shoes. The shop was crazy to me. It was basically a shed attached to a house out in the middle of nowhere. I was kind of spooked out approaching the door to the shop - because of course, no one else was there, it was dark and the parking lot was not well lit . The owner (a sawed-off little man) greeted me and immediately asked my name and retained it during my entire visit. It looked like they specialize in VERY high end equipment - there were actually more antique (unridable) bikes there than new ones - stuff you see on American Pickers. It was like stepping back in time. (I think I saw 3 new MTB's and 2 new road bikes - none of them carbon). I'm sure they could order you something, but otherwise they only had parts, clothing and trinkets manufactured by some more of the well known high-end companies in cycling, but many more obscure ones I have never heard of. Apparently, they're big on Italian-made products, the owner was showing me around and my mind was blown.

He ordered my boots for me. They cost about $50 more than if I bought them online and I had to travel there, but it was worth it to try on a pair to make sure I was getting the right size. And, I don't know the shop at all, but its nice sometimes (to think at least) you're helping keeping a shop like that alive and kicking. Also, if I'm spending big money on shoes that are rated to -15F, I'm not going to "wing it" and get what size I think I need online. I can tell you, they were comfortable and the owner said he tried a pair on years ago, tried them himself, and cannot recommend anything else for winter riding. So, I'm excited for the temps to fall and the snow to fly. Bring it on!

I got all the parts in this week to fix up the General Lee. I replaced my trigger shifters by stepping back into grip shift - still staying with SRAM X.0. In order to fit everything on the bars, I have to forego bar ends, which have been on my bike since I bought it in 1997. I guess it's time to move on, (they're not "in" anymore) and it will be weird to pilot - I used them often on climbs. I was up at 4am this morning to feed baby Nick and by the time he went back to bed, I had an extra hour to spare before my alarm would go off so I wasn't getting back into the warm sheets. So I went downstairs to the General and set everything up, hung a new chain, tried out my new chain tool, etc. Still have tweaking on the gears to happen tonight, but otherwise, ready to get it back into the dirt.


Iceman Cometh 2011

#1500 DNF. It hurts even more to type out than to say.

I was feeling good, the day was perfect. All my preparation was spot on. I was super stoked to be just one of 4000 riders embarking on an epic Autumn journey on (what I hear) what was one of the best days for Iceman and best trail conditions anyone could remember.

I only made it 17 miles in on a 30 mile race. I guess it could have been worse. I could have been that guy at mile 4 puking his guts out. Or the guy that endo'ed two bikes in front of me and taco'd his front rim. Or I could have been that lady I met after my mechanical fail who had broken her collarbone.

It all started at about mile 16.5 with a shifter malfunction. Somehow I pushed my thumb right through the lowest setting and stripped out all the internals. No more rear derailleur shifting. So I stopped and set up what I thought would be a good single speed gearing. Rode about 30 feet, mashed the pedals and popped the chain. Pulled over to fix the chain and broke my chain tool. I tried for a few minutes to repair the chain in a last ditch effort still using the broken chain tool to no avail. My fingers now shaking and covered in black grease and oil. I was there on my knees beside my bike, like a novice surgeon working on my fatally bleeding pet who had just gotten run over by a car. There was nothing I could do, but stand up, feel the sun on my back and watch as about 40 guys pass me in this brief moment of time. I was done, the General Lee was dead.

I walked about 1/4 mile to a main mid-point in the race. Lots of spectators, a man on a loud-speaker reading names of participants and where they were from. My name would not get read. The worst part was upon me now...I call it the "Gauntlet of Shame". Running up the hill, with broken chain in left hand and the General in the other hand while having to listen to spectators say "oh no! he has a broken chain", "oh man, did you see that? Poor guy's chain is broke", "what's he gonna do?".

Already knowing that the day was over it was all I could do to look anyone in the face there at the spectator point. People were nice and offered me rides to the finish line. All I wanted to do was get back on the bike and finish it out - even if it meant taking 4 hours. I guess I could have ran and finished it that way, but it would have jacked up everyone else on the course. I was disappointed, sure, but having friends and family waiting for me at the finish line, only for me to show up in a van instead was heartbreaking. I hated the feeling of seeing the finish line from the outside looking in. All I wanted to do was report my DNF, congratulate the boys on a fine race find my family and get out of there.

Looking forward to next year? Right now...no. I guess I'm not p!ssed enough about it right now to do or say anything. Besides, what else could I have done? Everything seemed out of my control. I'm not the kind of guy to charge right back immediately and seek revenge and act all hardcore about it. For now I guess I should take some much needed time off, reflect on the heartache and work my way back in the saddle and work the next 11 months for Iceman 2012.

I'll put this aside - it was a learning experience. More about myself than the race itself. I'm at least really happy for Matt Remus who smoked the course to finish 12th out of 71 riders in our class, and Matt Longest who finished with a great time and only had to stop once to put on a thrown chain. Well done boys, really proud to have you as friends and fierce competitors.

Three Men on a Shuttle Bus.

View from the start line of Wave 22, 10:03am

The General. Laying in repose with intestines laying
out on the stump for the vultures.


Demo Day - Luton x2

It rained all of last night into this morning. Today was the day I was taking a half day off of work to demo a brand new 2012 Cannondale 29 Carbon Flash 3. I didn't care. Mud or not, it was going to be the best half day off of work I've taken off just to ride.

Holy cow, what an experience. It was the best $50 I can remember spending. It rode so smooth, I rode the first 5.5 miles with the Lefty locked out - didn't even know. Once I figured that out, the riding got even better.

This will be my bike in Spring of 2012. Just gotta come up with $2,700. (Well, $2,650, since I will get credit for the $50 ride today.) Much more affordable. HA!


Lefty in all it's glory.

Mud machine.

It was a heavenly ride.

The Lefty looks weird, but honestly you don't even know it's there. Beautiful.