Thursday, March 29, 2007

Russel's Revenge

Years ago, we named this climb "Russel's Revenge". Scott was the first one in the gang to make the climb without stopping, so we gave him the honors. The hill continues to get steeper at the top. Right when you are almost ready to give up, there is a choice between whoop-de-dos and a slippery off-camber side. There is more traction on the side, but you must sprint through it so you don't fall into the whoops and spin out.

Todd displayed the common side effects of Russel's Revenge. Severe oxygen depletion and nausea.

The view from the top ain't bad!

I rode again after work and got to see the trail in a different light.

Go Away, Snow

Go Away, Snow
Originally uploaded by Facility Bike Club.
Winter returned briefly on Tuesday and cooler temperatures continued through yesterday. I think Spring is back today! Go away, snow. Nobody likes you anymore.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fun Girls Luv Dirt!

Last Friday Amy, Patti and I drove to Reno to meet Chris and Barbara for a girls ride. We packed up team Turners with my Stumpy, and we headed to the dirt. I hadn't ridden with Patti or Chris yet, but I knew they were experienced skilled riders. So when Amy asked me if I wanted to ride Peavine with Patti and Chris, I said sure! She said, "Oh we'll get our asses kicked, but it'll be fun!" How could I pass up an offer like that! I am always up for a good ass kicking, it puts hair on your chest...err something like that.

So we were following Barbara's truck who was following Chris on the Freeway, but we lost them. Amy was driving her new truck, AKA "the Land Yacht", pedal to the metal at 75, but we were still unable to keep up with the speedsters. Unsure of the turn off, Patti finally reached Chris on her cell phone. I remember her side of the conversation went something like, "Ya Bitch! You lost us! What are you thinking speeding off like that?!?". I like these girls already!

Right from the start I had recognized the trail. I had done it before. My first mountain bike was a Specialized Rockhopper that I got back in 1989. J-Mo had taken me on this trail shortly after we met at UNR. In fact, we probably ditched class to ride. Anyways, I only remembered the first 5 minutes of the trail, then we made a left and started to climb up.

Chris took us on her favorite trails, looping up and around the rolling hills. I remember one of my favorite sections was coming down a canyon riding high berms and quick turns on the way down. It was great! I remember stopping to take a picture and Barbara saying, don't even bother, it won't do it justice.

Barbara had to head back early, so we split off and headed over to a rocky area that had a great downhill section. I remember saying to Patti earlier in the day that I feel okay on the climbs, but my downhills need work. She said, "Downhills needing work? That just does not go in the same sentence!". I thought about it for a bit. True...downhills are the payback. They are supposed to be the fun part, not hard work! So with that in mind I tried to relax, loosen up a bit, and enjoy myself.

We had a quick stop and were getting ready to ride when Chris said, 'Watch yourselves on this section, girlies." I thought this meant it must be rocky or there may be a sharp turn coming up. I came around the corner and there was a drop off to the left, a huge boulder straight ahead, and sage brush to the right. Quickly I decide to dive into the sagebrush. No way was I going down the drop off. Amy comes up behind me and says, "You could have done it if you were going fast." True...if I had just been going a little faster, then I would not have had the option of stopping. I would have probably pulled it off, but may have peed my pants in the process. That was always the line I remembered when dirt biking ... when in doubt, gas it.

We hurried a bit to get back to the truck. I had to pick up my boy from school about an hour away.

What a blast! I was glad to finally meet and ride with Chris and Patti. It was a great trail and an awesome day! Thanks for the ass kick'n, girlies! Can't wait to do it again!

From left to right... Chris, Amy, Barbara and Patti.

Note: Amy, thanks for the title.

The complete photoset is HERE.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Taking it Easy

We decided not to do a big road ride today, since we have a century (metric) ride coming up next weekend. We had originally planned not to ride today, but were talked into it (quite easily I might add) last night right before bed.

We loaded up the mountain bikes and headed for the Pine Nuts trail head. The girls did a loop in the main valley, and I talked the Jeffs into a loop in the next valley over. I had ridden the loop several times before, but it was on my motorcycle. I was hoping it would be as fun on the bicycles. How far would the Jeff's follow me if the trail sucked?

Jeff F. was on a full suspensioned geared bike, I was on my single speed, and Jeff P. was on his new 29er single speed. A few miles in, we got to this very smooth hard packed road. We had the wind at our backs, and we were making good time down the hill. But then it dead ended into private property. Shoot...would I remember how to find the trail? It had been a couple years... We back tracked a ways, and then found a road that looked familiar.

We found the single track that crossed the valley, and it was great. Smooth, twisty, and almost no climbing. It was very relaxing. And the Jeff's praised me. After crossing the valley, the trail turned into miles of rocky uphill. In between the rocky sections were deep unrideable sand washes. I thought the Jeff's might bludgeon me with a rock and stash my body, but they actually appeared to be having fun!

We finally made it to the ridge trail that I was seeking, and the payoff was great. Even better than I had expected! We got to enjoy a couple miles of fast rolling single track along the ridge. We all had smiles at the end.

We encountered quite a few rocks on the way back, and they started taking a toll on my body. The rigid forks were beating me up. Jeff P. seemed to be in much better shape with his rigid forked 29er. The accumulated smoothness of the larger wheels seems to be a big plus for enduring longer rides (that, and Jeff P. is a better rider than me). I could see the Jeff's way up ahead, but they'd wait for me to catch up once in a while. They're nice like that.

When we finally made it back to the trail head, we figured we did about 30 miles. That's by far the longest I've done on the single speed yet! As I type this, I'm feeling totally wiped out. So much for taking it easy...

Friday, March 23, 2007

New Bike Blues

I'm normally a used bike kind of guy, but have been riding new bikes for the last year or so, and yesterday the lifestyle change finally bit me.

I was riding alone yesterday on the lunch ride because I had meetings that conflicted with the time everyone else was riding, or maybe they just don't like me much.

It was a lovely day and I was having a pleasant climb to the water tower on the hill when my left foot hit the ground on my down stroke. I looked down and saw my foot attached to the pedal and the pedal attached to the crank, but the crank was no longer attached to the bike.

My new bikes have been so reliable that I have done nothing to them but oil the chain and put air in the tires. I have all but forgotten my normal used bike maintenance checks, and here I am, crankless.

The first thing was to see how lucky I was going to be. I looked around for the crank bolt and of course saw nothing. I started walking the bike back down the hill still hoping to find my crank bolt and wasted a perfectly good downhill in the process.

Once I got to the pavement, I decided to keep looking for the bolt while I tried to ride back. My first attempt was to use the bike as a scooter with my right foot on the existing pedal and pushing off with my left foot. That didn't work worth a crap. It was like trying to ride a pogo stick. But wait. I remembered that I have a fork lockout. Locking out the fork made a huge improvement, but I still wasn't making very good time.

Then I heard the words of The Sarge echoing in my head. "Don't bobble, Bitch!" I'm still not sure what that means.

Back when The Sarge was riding with us, he would occasionally ride one legged for training purposes. I decided to give this a try and the ride changed dramatically. I was actually able to keep a good speed going on the flat roads back to the office. I even managed to pass one rider on the way back to the office. OK, he was probably about 106 years old, but he had both legs.

I scanned the road for my bolt while I was riding and never did find it, but I did find several rocks that look like bolts from far away and a few miscellaneous tools that had been abandoned by other travelers.

I guess my honeymoon period with my new bikes is over. The moral of the story is, keep up on your maintenance. I'm just glad I didn't pull this bonehead move during long ride.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kristy's 29er

Kristy ordered an On One Inbred 29er last week, and it arrived on Monday. We assembled it on Monday night, and Kristy has ridden it a couple times this week. Today I rode my On One 26er...basically the same bike with smaller wheels. Both are single speeds, steel frames, with no suspension. The 29er has a slightly higher bottom bracket, but the flat bars are about the same height as my riser bars.

Kristy even let me ride it towards the end of the dirt section. I've been wanting to try a 29 inch wheeled bike for quite some time now. I was going to try to be very careful during my first test ride, and note any subtle differences in the way the bikes handled. I thought I may even have to ride a section a couple times to notice something.

I ended up being surprised instantly though. The bigger wheels rolled over stuff much easier. Little bumps and rocks seemed to disappear. I still felt the larger impacts of course, since it has a rigid fork. Conversely, Kristy said my bike felt like a pinball...bouncing off every little thing in the trail. Kristy will be riding her Stump Jumper with some friends in Reno tomorrow, and has agreed to let me test ride the 29er some more. I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Prison Hill

Prison Hill
Originally uploaded by Facility Bike Club.
Tonight after work I met Brent and Jeff P. for some single track riding on Prison Hill. Prison Hill is flanked by a medium security prison on the south and a maximum security prison on the north. The place could also be called Prison Hell because of all the steep climbs. First gear, mouth gaping, lung burning climbs. This, mixed in with great single track... I brought my 35lb Coiler for tonight's ride. I was hating it on the climbs, but very thankful for the extra control on the steep rocky descents. There are more pictures here if you'd like to check them out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

High Plains Shifters

I'd like to start off by saying, "85 miles and 3,200 vertical feet of climbing, baby!"

On Sunday the road riding gang met in Wellington, NV, a small farming community in Smith Valley. It was a bit nippy out, so we put on the wind vests and arm warmers and headed out. The ride started out with a nice flat road out of town, and gave us a nice warm up before hitting the climb up the canyon. Within the first half hour, we were too hot, and stripped off the vests and arm warmers at the first pit stop.

I expected the temperatures to be much cooler, and the snow levels much lower this time of year. It felt like May with temperatures in the high 70s! After emerging from the canyon, we were treated to views of the Sweetwater mountain range for several miles. I felt like we were on the set of a Clint Eastwood Western. In fact, High Plains Drifter was filmed not too far from here.

When we reached Sweetwater Summit, the highest point in the ride, I had already felt like I had a good ride. Turning around at this point would be a good 40 miles, but we were only half way to Bridgeport. We got on the bikes and headed downhill for several miles towards the Walker river. My descent was abruptly interrupted by a couple of Asian tourists. They honked their horn at me and were asking me if this was the road to Las Vegas. They were clearly lost, so I had them pull over before we crashed.

They had a junk map...just a one page tear out of some tourist magazine that had only the main roads on it. They asked me to show them where they were on the map, but I told them this road was not on their map. I gave them instructions on how to get back to Yerington, and over to HWY 95, the well traveled route. It would be a bit of a back track for them, but better than trying to steer them through some obscure mountain pass if they continued on. Always carry a good map when traveling in Nevada. It can be very far between services!

Everybody else was gone, so I was thankful the Asian guys were so friendly. It could have been bad. They could have been lonesome desert dwellers with a homo-erotic spandex fantasy perhaps. I got down a bit further and saw that Kristy was waiting for me. I wouldn't have to ride alone after all! We took turns drafting down the rest of the descent, and then headed up the Walker River towards Bridgeport Reservoir. We soon entered California, and it started feeling less like the desert. We regrouped with the rest of the gang, and got a pace line going all the way to the reservoir. When we climbed out of the canyon and saw the water and mountains, it was breathtaking!

We pedaled along the lake shore and finally arrived at the half way point of the ride, Bridgeport. We were thirsty and starving, so we patronized one of the local delis. During our brief stay in Bridgeport, the population temporarily increased to 848. After resting, we saddled up the bikes and headed back north. My butt was already getting sore, and we still had 42 miles to go!

In order to get some quick miles done, we organized a pace line. Jeff F. and Jeff P. took turns leading. I'm still getting used to the whole pace line thing. When I ride my mind likes to wander. I like to look around and take pictures. It's my meditation time. In a pace line, however, you have to concentrate only on riding. If your mind starts to wander, you find the guy in front of you drifting away from you. At one point, Amy was giving me pointers on what I was doing wrong. I didn't quite understand what she was telling me, but before I could figure it out, she said, "There you go!". Apparently I had corrected what I didn't know what I was doing wrong! I have much to learn.

The pace line broke apart when we reached the 900 foot climb back to Sweetwater Summit. It was the steepest climb of the day, and we were at around mile 60. Kristy and I started falling back from exhaustion. In my mind I was going to have to take care of her and help her back with lot of encouragement; however, after doing a glucose carb-bomb, Kristy took off and was way ahead of me! I would be the one that needed words of encouragement... After topping the summit, we started down the canyon. The canyon seemed to go on forever. I was happy when we got to the flat desert section, but as you can see from the picture, it was a pretty long stretch too. I didn't feel relief until we made the final turn into town with only a few miles to go. The last stretch felt like a ceremonial ride! A parade lap.

Normally I hate getting in the car, but with our 3rd degree monkey butt, the wide padded seat was heavenly. Kristy and I drove home and quietly celebrated our longest ride ever!

More pictures from the ride can be found HERE.

Another Mommie & Me Ride

I took my daughter out on another ride this weekend, this time on the V&T trail. She did great, you can read all about it here on my family blog.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Virginia City

On Sunday we got some of the usual Sunday gang together for a road ride to Virginia City. After we rode to Markleeville last week, something I've been wanting to do for a long time, I was wondering what would be next. We seem to push it up a notch each weekend, and when Jeff P. announced we'd be riding to V.C., I got pretty excited. I've only been there by car and motorcycle, so in my mind it's a long ways up in the mountains. Getting there by bike would be an adventure.

We left Potter's base camp, elevation 4,700 feet, at around 10:30. The temperature was just starting to warm up, and we decided to wear shorts! Three guys named Jeff, and four ladies headed east across Carson City. We took the back roads on the north side of town and found little traffic. Once across town, we were treated to the climb out of Carson City on Hwy 50. The traffic was pretty heavy, but the speed limit is fairly low, and there is a decent bike lane. Brent commutes this way to work on his bike, and has not died even once.

Before turning off HWY 50 to V.C., we got to tour the lovely town of Mound House. It's not really even a town...just a wide spot in the road full of wrecking yards, gun shops, and legalized prostitution. We didn't stop. The first stretch of road to V.C. is narrow and a little unnerving, but being early in the day we didn't encounter any drunk motor bike riders (That would be on the return trip when some toothless wench/meth-addict on the back of some bike barked at the girls to get off the road...). In just a short time we got off the main route, and began the five mile twisty ascent up the V.C. Truck Route. As it turns out, grades good for big trucks are also great for bicycles! The group that had mostly stayed together up until this point began to spread out.

Once we regrouped at the outskirts of Virginia City, elevation 6,200 feet, we decided to split up the group. The girls headed back down, and the guys headed for Geiger Grade to the north of V.C. As usual, V.C. was packed with tourists, bikers, and all the local characters, many in old west costume (Sometimes you even see Mark Twain walking around). Bicycle was the best way to get through town, as we were able to slip through the gaps in traffic.

We were treated to many smells as we pedaled through town. Stale beer and cigarettes from the bars, kettle corn and fudge from the local shops, and horse manure from the local mounted posse. If there was the sound of honky tonk piano coming from the Bucket of Blood Saloon, we didn't hear it over the V-Twins of the hundred or so Harley Davidsons.

We left V.C. and continued north up towards Geiger Grade. Before reaching the top though, we turned onto Lousetown Road, and did the Virginia Highlands Loop, another 1,300 feet of climbing. We even blasted by Todd's house on the descent. I had just enough time to see Todd's old truck...the one that has been slowly sinking into the earth over the last few years. We continued to descend. I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into... Finally we started to climb back out. After the steepest climb of the ride, we finally dropped down to Geiger Grade where we could begin another ascent to the summit. The traffic was a bit scary because of the narrow shoulder, but at least the traffic wasn't heavy. We were treated to spectacular views of the Sierras to the west, the two prominent peaks being Mount Rose and Slide Mountain. At 10,776 feet, Mount Rose is the third highest mountain in the Tahoe Basin.

We finally reached Geiger Summit, elevation 6,789 feet. We paused for a picture to show how much taller Jeff is than me, drank some water, and had a snack. It was time for miles and miles of downhill! We raced down the east side of Geiger Summit towards V.C., zipped through traffic in V.C. and then blasted down the truck route. It was probably one of the more exciting things I've done in my life! I couldn't keep up with the other Jeff's, but I got a feel for all the turns and will be able to let go a bit more next time. We finally made it back to Carson City, and decided to take the scenic route around the south side of town. It was longer, but what the heck...I was already out of food, nearly out of water, and sunburned. We finally made it back to the Potters. I was actually glad to get off the bike and put it back on the roof rack. I didn't have the strength to keep my head up I was so tired. I was led to a table with a bowl full of pasta, and I began to eat. And eat. I even downed two water bottles full of water, washing down a couple chocolate muffins. Once again...thank you Potters for your hospitality!

In the end, the guys ended up doing 62 miles and lots of climbing. The girls did over 40 miles with their big climb. But now I have to ask myself...what's next?

More pictures from the ride can be found HERE.

Sunday Ride with My Girl

Yesterday I took my daughter Madison (she is 9) on her first official MTB ride. Up to this point she has been too timid to try the dirt.

You can read the full story here at my family blog.

Life is Good!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Human Roundup

Human Roundup (comic)

The Trees are back, and they are pissed!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Snow Melt

The temperatures have been in the 50's at lunch time this week, and the snow is melting. As you can see in the picture, snow on the northern slopes is still present, but the southern exposures are in good shape. No snow angels this week. It's even been warm enough for insect life to emerge! I saw a caterpillar crawling along yesterday, and I think I may have eaten the 1st butterfly of spring on Monday.

Sandie and Barbara head down the single track.

Kristy descending the single track with Carson City in the background.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Recovery Ride

Monday was a recovery ride for Todd and I. Barbara sensed our weakness, and took the Combs Canyon Hill Climb. I wanted to chase her down, but my legs advised me to stick to the plan. You can see Barbara up front in the yellow wind vest.

The north canyon is still full of greasy snow. Forward motion was treacherous!

The view looking down the north canyon.

Todd's idea of a recovery ride is throwing himself down a snowy precipice! Todd took the standard line around the corner, but unfortunately it is covered in greasy snow. His front tire washed out.

Randy looks at Todd laying in the snow and thinks to himself, "What a dumbass...".

Much of the trail was in great shape though...

A great view of Nevada's capital city.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Road Ride

As usual, we went out for our Sunday Road Ride. It was one of the first road rides in quite some time where we weren't miserably cold by the end of the ride. It sure looked cold out, but was actually quite pleasant.

FBC rider Todd joined us today, and this was his first ride on his new Fuji Roubaix. It was also his introduction to road riding too!

We began the ride from the bottom of Kingsbury Grade, and rode a few miles along Foothill Road, a pleasant, gently rolling road along the base of the Sierras. Once into California, we began our ascent to Woodfords. The group split up at this point. Some took the more scenic Carson River Road, and others took the steeper Emigrant Trail Road.

Once we regrouped at the Woodfords store, the group split up again. Some headed for Diamond Valley, and my group headed for Markleeville, a cool little mountain town. The snow started to get deep as we started our ascent, but the roads were completely dry. This was my first time on this road on the bicycle. The slower pace offered me time to enjoy the alpine scenery. It just seems to go by too quickly in the car.

We stopped at the entrance to Turtle Rock Park before beginning the descent into Markleeville. Turtle Rock Park is the start and finish of the world famous Death Ride, a ride that includes 129 miles of road, and 15,000+ feet of climbing! We split once again, Kristy and Amy heading for Diamond Valley and Genoa, Me, Todd, and Jeff P. heading for Markleeville. The descent into Markleeville was a blast, losing a lot of elevation quickly over three miles. About 3/4 of the way down, I started thinking, "You know, Jeff, you're going to need to climb back out of this when you're done!".

We took a little break in Markleeville, and then made the climb back up to Turtle Rock Park. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I was glad to have a triple chain ring for sure. Once at the top, we made our way for Diamond Valley. There were several miles of downhill all the way back to Foothill Road, a nice change from all the climbing we had been doing. About a mile from the staging area, we met up again with Kristy and Amy. They had already been to Genoa, and were coming back to see what was taking us so long! Once back at the cars, we wolfed down some of Amy's scones and Kristy's cookies. We spent the rest of the day in R&R mode...

Friday, March 02, 2007


I've been taking most of the pictures at lunch time lately, but unfortunately it's not the best time of the day for capturing good colors. I took this first picture on my way to work, about 1 minute from my house. The peak on the left is Job's Peak, and on the right is Job's Sister. These two prominent peaks are the defining landmarks of the Carson Valley. One of the local casinos even had a billboard sign that read, "Build This, Las Vegas!" featuring the two peaks in the picture.

The snow was still hanging around today, so we did a climb on the road up Combs Canyon into Lakeview. We pretty much rode until we could go no higher and then made our way back to work. The first couple of miles were screaming pedaling needed!

Next up...Carson Valley Road Ride on Sunday!!!

Shopping around.

Yesterday, Jeff and Amy took me on a road ride, that I have never done before. They called it their Around Carson ride. I am not as familiar with the Carson streets so here is my best attempt at relaying the route. Starting at Potter's house on the West side, we made our way up to Arrowhead then turned onto Goni Rd. Then to Graves St. across Highway 50 to Edmonds. We took side roads and explored a little by Brunswick Canyon, then crossed the river over to the Empire Ranch area. We stopped by the stable where Amy's mare, Flicka resides. We checked out the horses and gave out treats. There were some pretty big horses there! Then we made our way back to Potter's house, by taking 5th street and looping back around. We got a nice tour of town, plus I was glad to get some much needed practice riding in traffic.

I took this picture as we were heading up Edmonds. It was quite a challenge getting this shot, while riding up hill trying to keep up. This was my view of Team Potter, the majority of the day. It was a nice to have them as my tour guides, because I sure don't feel comfortable riding in traffic on my own yet. All in all it was a nice easy riding day.

Afterwards at the Potter's we relaxed with some Chi Tea and Amy showed me how to make bagels. I always look forward to winding down from a ride at Cafe De Potter. The food is always homemade and the conversation is never dull. It's amazing what you can learn about someone over tea and strumpets. We had some laughs and Tank got his Honey Bush.