Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Not a Good Single Speed Day

Today, I had one of my worst rides in recent memory (but it was still better than bellying up to the buffet table).

I decided I was going to try the tree run and maybe part of Deer run if I had time. I changed that plan as soon as I hit C1. The whole climb was deep mud, but I wasn’t quite bright enough to turn back. Instead, I had to stop three times on the climb to keep my heart from exploding.

I finally got to the water tower and decided to cut my losses and head toward Stewart’s run from there. The mud on that mild downhill was as slick as snot. I tried to stay in the middle of that off camber trail, but eventually gave up and rode the washout on the right side of the trail.

I then decided to try and ride as much of the fast path as I could. That was another mistake. I nosed into a washout and pinch flatted and then spent time cursing at my replacement tube because I couldn’t get the CO2 cylinder to fill it properly.

To top it off, the thick mud had gunked up the whole bike, so the front brake was dragging all the way back home.

Would you like some cheese with this whine?

My 1st Front Wheelie

It has been about 5 months since I joined the gang and although I have crashed a lot it has mostly been what is called the clipless pedals learning curve. In fact, I have been known to actually get blown over by the wind. Until today that is… I am riding down the backside of Lakeview and I get to that spot where it is like a garden, the fresh loamy dirt. My front tire digs in and turns and I feel my back end going up in the air and suddenly I am flying through the air….and did a face plant straight into a bush. I get up and there is a perfect hand print there in the snow. You know the kind that you make for your mom out of plaster. Then I hear Jeff yelling from the bottom of the hill “you ok?” I got back on my bike and rode down the rest of the hill. It was rad.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ride of the Eunuch

As it turns out, my GT Ruckus never materialized. They must have been pretty popular because the bike shop and GT rep couldn't locate a medium sized one for me. They gave up last Friday and I started shopping again.

I first checked out a 2006 Kona Eunuch (or maybe it was Unit) and didn't expect to be impressed because I had already ridden one a couple weeks previously. For some reason, this one felt much better than the one I tried earlier. I talked to the bike shop owner about it and he told me Kona made the frame much lighter for 2006. It really made difference. The new Eunuch felt as zippy as Jeff's On-One that I had been riding the last couple of weeks.

There was one other bike I wanted to try. I saw a Gary Fisher 29 inch single speed at another bike shop and had to give it a try. It felt kind of like driving a truck. It was big and heavy (probably due to the disk brakes and front suspension) and also cost $1100, which was way more than I wanted to spend.

I went back to the first bike shop and picked up the Kona Eunuch. I made sure the one I rode was my size because I didn't want to screw around with ordering a bike that might or might not show up again. I locked the bike up in my garage for the weekend and sat on the front porch with a rifle across my lap waiting for scumbag thieves to try and to steal this one. I didn't see any, so the land mines in my driveway must have discouraged them enough.

Today was my maiden ride on the Eunuch. It was a beautiful day, probably the best one of the year so far. We decided to ride Deer Run. This would be a good test for both the bike and me. The Eunuch felt feather light on the climb. I don't know if it was something to do with the bike, my fitness after riding a single speed for a couple of weeks, or the euphoria of having a new bike, but I was able to climb seated in several sections where I had to be out of the seat on Jeff's On-One. It will be interesting to compare the two of them directly on a future ride.

The Eunuch felt both quick and fast on the downhill. I misjudged several of the Deer Runs single track turns because I am still used to the slower steering of my long lost Enduros (sigh). The Eunuch flew down Stewart's hill, the DB Highway, and the paved roads all the way back to the Facility.

After this glowing review, I have only one concern with my new Eunuch. After the beating I gave it today, I wonder how durable it will be. Hitting rocks at high speed on the downhills has to be rough on the wheels, solid fork, and frame. We'll see how they hang in there.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Where is Bill?

"Where is Bill?" It's a question I hear pretty often. Bill told us today that he's down in Texas gearing up to do some low altitude mountain biking. Bill joined the riding group sometime in 2001...sometime near the beginning. This was back in the day when we'd do the Winnie Lane Loop and call it a huge ride. There was one time Bill almost passed out at the "top of the hill"... a place that we now think of as the beginning of the dirt trails. Bill gained fitness with all of us and was soon doing all the rides up at Lake Tahoe. There were a few bumps in the trail though. One was the separated shoulder incident on the sandy downhill. And who can forget the infamous care flight ride for the pulled hamstring? Don't make jokes with the'll cost you! Bill retired last year, but has continued to ride with us off and on since then. And unfortunately, now that he's down in Texas, we will see even less of him.

The picture above was taken from one of our "Hole in the Ground" trail rides. The picture shows Bill telling one of his famous stories. I think he may be exaggerating a little bit...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Full Pack

Today Barbara had to leave from her training class and was forced to bring all her belongings on the ride...street clothes, book, lunch, etc...all stuffed in a hand bag. Luckily I brought the camera to capture this awkward moment...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sarge Update

Here's a recent shot of the Sarge building up his new bike...the Racer X from Titus. This is the bike he'd be kicking your ass on if he still lived here.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Farewell Special Eds

Two weeks ago, I joined a club that nobody wants to be in, yet most members of the Facility Bike Club are already in. I had a bike stolen. Actually, both of my mountain bikes were stolen from my garage along with a bunch of my other stuff. Fortunately my old Trek avoided that fate by being on loan to Barbara. Her bike was stolen a month or two ago.

Both of my stolen bikes were Specialized Enduros. The original got its name "Special Ed" after a lunchtime ride up a sand wash a few years ago. It was summer and the sand was deep, dry, and soft. I fell over 5 times on the way up the hill and Jeff said "Your bike may be a Specialized, but the way you ride it is more like Special Ed". I took the cue and taped over every 'IZ' on the bike that night. From then on it was known as Special Ed.

Special Ed started to get tired last year so I decided it was time for a replacement. I bought Special Ed II last March and barely got to know it before it was removed from my garage early this March.

The day after the theft, I let the group know I couldn't ride because I didn't have any bikes. Barbara immediately told me she would give me my Trek back and Jeff said he would let me ride his single speed. I was already thinking about buying a single speed and I wanted to keep as many people riding as possible, so I took Jeff up on his offer and told Barbara to keep riding my Trek.

I had to take my first single speed ride alone because I had meetings scheduled during lunch hour (stupid work!). I took an easy ride, paced myself, and was glad I hadn't eaten lunch early because I would have left it at the top of the climb. My second ride was with the group and we did a tough climb; Hail Mary, aka Race Loop, aka C1C2C3, aka Hell - Fire - Damnation. This time, not only would I have lost my lunch, but I also considered coughing up a lung, although in a masochistic sort of way I was starting to enjoy it.

By the end of the week, realizing it would be a while before I could replace my Special Eds, I was hitting the local bike shops and checking out single speeds. After riding several of them, I ordered a GT Ruckus and am now waiting for it to arrive.

I guess the moral of the story is; when life hands you lemons, borrow a single speed and take your agressions out on the hill. Thanks for loaning me the bike, Jeff.

Also, there are several ways to booby trap your garage entrances with hand grenades. Learn them if you are going to own nice bikes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More Snow...

Only six more days until Spring begins, and winter is still going strong. Today's blizzard ride was a blast nonetheless. The snow was coming down hard, but it wasn't sticking to the roads. Three and a half months now of riding in the snow...we know the routine. You just don't really expect anything exciting. Today seemed pretty fun for some reason though. We ran into our jogger friend on the bike path, and he advised us to chain up. I figured we had our snow tires on, so we pressed on. We did the Lakeview climb, and the closer we got to the top, the less visibility we had. I was concerned the cars wouldn't see us it was that bad. The descent was crazy. I warned Sandie that our brakes didn't work very well wet and to control her speed on the hill. Either she didn't care or didn't hear me, because she disappeared into the blizzard. Barbara didn't have any glasses on, so she was hanging back some. I did my best to keep a moderate speed, but the icy snow stung my face. It felt like a thousand tiny needles. I couldn't look up the road for more than a couple seconds, and then had to tuck my head down out of the blast. The snow had picked up and I lost sight of the rider in front of me and in back of me. Either Sandie was hauling ass, or she went off the cliff...wasn't sure. I finally got to the bottom and Sandie was waiting for us. Barbara showed up a few moments later, squinting from the icy breeze. She had grabbed the wrong tights today too...the ones with a saucer sized rip in the knee. A cold, red, wind burned knee was peeking out of the hole. The next couple miles were just a leisurely pedal. We were just trying to stay warm. We ran into Patrick on the way back. He had his snow goggles on was headed out for his own adventure.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hell - Fire - Damnation

After last weeks struggle with C1, C2, and C3 I respecfully request to the group that we rename said hills. From this point forward they shall be known as......hell, fire, and damnation.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Code Yellow: Estrogen Levels Elevated

Last year we were shocked to pick up a female rider. We were even more shocked when she started keeping up with us. Well it has happened again. Sandie has joined the group this winter, and has quickly gone from calling Washington Street "a big hill" to knocking out the Lakeview Loop in a lunch hour. I sense Barbara is pleased to have another female companion around too. Pleased yes...but it has also bred some competition. On some days, Sandie is the Snake to Barbara's Mongoose. Or is it the Mongoose to her Snake? I don't exactly remember. Either way it's fierce! Sandie is still riding a heavier hard tail at the moment, but plans to buy a race bike this spring. So fellas...don't let your guard down and keep training hard. Start thinking about race tires and titanium parts so your machismo is not too badly bruised...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

New Trail

I had the fine pleasure of riding by myself today, so I thought I'd go do some exploring. Exploring usually turns into a death march, so it's best not to drag the whole group through the experience. Today's exploration was no different than the typical, although it was mostly because of the particular bike I was on (single speed), wet sandy mud, and a good head wind. There is a new fire break that goes from King Street all the way to the canyon behind C-Hill. I made all the climbs except for one, but my heart rate was near max the whole trip. It was a bit better on the way back without the head wind, and I took an early out off the trail to get back to the road. I think the trail will be more fun as the dirt dries out.

And since the trail came out near the trail head of our South Side of C-Hill run, I was able to check out the trail conditions. We haven't done that trail this year, and it looks a bit different than last we saw it. The most notable difference is that the dry creek bed is not dry anymore. It will be interesting to explore the upper part of the trail since it crosses the creek bed several times. And of course there are the excavation scars from last year, but it doesn't appear to be any worse than last year...that may be good news.