Sunday, July 29, 2007

2007 Tour de Fat

Yesterday we attended the Tour de Fat. Pictures and words don't do this event had to be there! I'll do my best to give you some highlights though. I arrived to this event "on time". Anyone who knows me, will find this to be out of the ordinary. This just goes to show you where my priorities are at. I did NOT want to miss the bike parade! We loaded up the bikes and headed up into the mountains for Truckee, CA.

Soon after I arrived I had the fine pleasure of meeting Mr. Wolfy of Team Bacon Strip. We had good talk of blogs and bikes, and he hooked me up with a few TBS stickers. I also learned that he and some others had ridden to Truckee the night before and camped. I thought that was pretty cool. Quite an accomplishment with all that camping gear if you ask me. This sort of thing went perfect with the whole event though. The main theme of the Tour de Fat was a move away over consumption, wastefulness, and heavy reliance on petroleum. I had planned to talk with Wolfy later in the day, but never saw him again. I take that back. I did see him once in the freak bike arena, but using every ounce of concentration to ride, I was not able to speak to him. Go check out The Bacon Strip. It's good reading!

The event kicked off with a bicycle parade through Truckee. Any type of bicycle you can imagine was there. Many bikes looked like Dr. Seuss had been the chief designer. We got behind a bike towing a music trailer, and enjoyed the tunes for a while. Vegan Charlie mistook the event for a race though, so we had to catch up to him, leaving the tunes behind.

Music Trailer

The parade route took us through downtown Truckee. Traffic was not blocked off, and most if not all the bystanders seemed a bit stunned to see so many bicycles coming by, not to mention the costumes and freak bikes. For a short time, bikes ruled the streets, and cars were made to wait. One cyclist in an Indian head dress positioned himself in front of a Hummer and then just stopped. He sat there for a good while and allowed the cyclists safe passage. I praised him for his fine work when we got back to the park.

After the parade was over, it was time to enjoy the beer, sights, and sounds. And believe me, there was plenty of everything. New Belgium was there with most of there beers on tap. I had most of them, and all were delicious. I think the mood and theme made them taste even better. Now some might think that with all the beer that was flowing, things would get out of hand. This was not the case though. It wasn't even rowdy. People just seemed to be having a good time and laughing a lot. Nobody that I saw appeared to be intoxicated. Plenty of people, including me, were there with their kids. The kids were having just as much fun as the adults. I think this says a lot about cycling and the cycling culture. It's largely a happy, peaceful, and fun loving bunch!

In addition to the new friends we met, we ran into familiar faces...Brent, Sandie, and Robin, guys from the local shops, riders I've met out on the trail, and the riders from the local cruiser scene. The Slow Rollers, Gonads and Strife, and The Rusted Chain Gang were all represented by their fearless leaders. All three groups mentioned have rides coming up soon...stay tuned!

As you could probably surmise from all the pictures here, something out of the ordinary was going on at the Tour de Fat. All day long there was music and entertainment. Everything had a quasi-carnival-circus-vaudeville feel to it. And when I say carnival, I don't mean meth addict, 80's Aerosmith Tour Jersey, Tilt-a-Whirl, missing teeth carnival. Old time carnival. Traveling performers and musicians. To be laying in the grass, sipping a Mothership Wit, listening to live accordion music, while three girls in pink poodle costumes prance by you, is to be totally disconnected from your usual life. It was very surreal. I had thoughts of joining the circus and living the life of a gypsy.

I have one simple request, and that's, "Fire jugglers riding frickin' flame shooting pogo sticks!"

Halfway through the event, my camera started flipping out. It would only take images like this! Fortunately, Brent and Sandie took a bunch of pictures too, and even let me snap a few with their camera. The camera that broke was responsible for almost all the pictures you see on this blog! It will be missed. Kristy investigated, and it looks like we bought the extended warranty. A replacement camera may be in the near future! With any luck, it will be upgraded. For you, the reader, this means more megapixels packed into the same amount of viewing time. It will be quite a value that I will be pleased to pass onto you at no additional charge.

Throughout the day we enjoyed a variety of vegan victuals. The vegetarian food went well with the theme of the day. Less energy. Bicycle Power. There were no trash cans. They had a compost station setup. Beer cups and forks were made from corn starch and were compostable as well as were the paper plates. The shows were powered mostly (if not 100%) by solar power. Tour buses run on bio diesel. Many people went to a tent and made written pledges to drive their cars less. As one guy said, oil is not a bad thing, it is our overuse of it. As Americans, we tend to take more than our fair share of the world's remaining non-renewable energy sources. The Tour de Fat proved how much fun you can still have at a "powered down" event. I believe this is something everyone will take home and incorporate into their daily lives.

And another thing...Yay for Beer!

The complete photoset is HERE.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Limo

The Limo
Originally uploaded by Facility Bike Club.
We just picked this up today! Room in the garage is a little tight, but it fit nonetheless. We took it for a spin around the neighborhood tonight and got a feel for it. I tried hard, but couldn't wheelie it. Going off the curbs feels weird too. You expect the rear wheel to drop, but it's late getting there.

We need to do a little customization for the rear cockpit area to fit our six year old, and then we'll be set. I think it's going to be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Bicycle Racks

According to the Nevada Appeal newspaper, Carson City has received two new Muscle Powered bicycle racks like the one pictured here in front of Comma Coffee. One is located at Sunset Park, the other at Fuji park. Both are a welcome additions to the community, and are the result of people's generosity of both time and money.

I decided to read the article's comments, hoping to see some thankfulness and other gracious remarks. Here are a few of the heart warmers that really stood out:

  • "I wish people who ride bikes would stay off the damn road!"
  • "Lycra-wearing limp-wrists expect others to pay for their fun. Why do taxpayers have to pay for others' hobbies?"
  • "Just because your vehicle is bigger and gas-powered doesn't give you rights above theirs - But that is a tough argument to win when you are being dragged under a Humvee!"
  • "Lycra-covered bithyclithts should pay for their hobby. Bike lanes are a good thing. Now get off your lycra-coveredand start building them with your money."
  • "Roads are built for motor vehicles using gas tax dollars. You and your limp-wristed, lycra-wearing bithyclithts expect someone else to pay. Why can't you pay for your hobby, like the rest of us do? Oh, that's right... YOU ARE A SCUM-SUCKING, PANTY-WAISTED, LIMP-WRISTED LIBERAL."
  • "Nice bike racks - now move them to San Fransicko"
  • "'Muscle Powered bicycle rack' That is an oxymoron. Bicyclists have no muscles... Now, if it was a 'lycra-powered bithycle rack', that would be understandable..."
  • "I love bicyclists. They make lovely hood ornaments."
  • "More bikes=more targets=more fun"

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. The citizens are appreciative as you can see.

It appears even the newspaper thinks these comments are in good taste and are conducive to the discussion. Their disclaimer, "We reserve the right to delete any comments which are in bad taste or not conducive to the discussion."

Do you all have this same problem in your part of the country, or did all the morons just settle here?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Le Tour de Fat

If you are reading this, there is a very good chance that you will never ride in a Tour de France. This is nothing to be ashamed of or even sad about. That's just the way it is.

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a tour you could participate in? One where nobody cared if you showed up without your bike and just drank beer all day? If by now you are saying, "That's crazy talk, Jeff!", you'd be absolutely wrong.

New Belgium Brewing Company's Tour de Fat rolls into Truckee, CA this Saturday, July 28th. The event kicks off with a quick bike ride through town, and then spends the rest of the day at the park. New Belgium will have a wide assortment of beers available on tap while you listen to music, watch side shows, or ride one of the many freak bikes.

If you can stand viewing a MY SPACE page, there is one for the Tour de Fat HERE.

If you are unable to attend, or are looking to see if the Tour comes closer to you, check HERE.

Here's a movie we took from the 2005 event.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tahoe Rim Trail

On Sunday we got to ride a section of the Tahoe Rim Trail that I've been wanting to do for several years now. The trailhead is a longer drive from my house, and the trail is only open to mountain bikers on even days. So as you can imagine, planning to ride this trail around a busy schedule can be tough.

We parked the truck at Spooner Lake State Park, and took the shuttle service to Mount Rose Meadows. The Tahoe Rim Trail crosses here, and there is an excellent trailhead. There is parking, bathrooms, and a beautiful meadow that would make a great day trip for a hiking family. A short ride across the meadow and a creek, and we were into the woods on the TRT.

This section of the TRT is very popular with hikers, but it is an amazing mountain bike trail too. It has a nice rolling feel, and the grade is never too steep. There are fun little challenges everywhere, but there is almost always an easy line around them too. The trail seemed to be a nice single speed trail too. Jeff P. was on his 29er single speed, and he was polite enough to wait for me once in a while. I chose to ride my big fat full suspension bike. I think either bike would be a good choice for this trail.

The trail swaps back and forth on the east and west sides of the Carson Range. You get to enjoy views of both Lake Tahoe on the west side, and Washoe Valley to the east.

We came to the Tunnel Creek intersection, and there were mountain bikers everywhere! Kristy and Amy chose the Flume Trail route to Marlette Lake, while Jeff and I continued on the TRT. Both routes offered unique views and fun singletrack. The TRT made a ascent up to the top of Marlette Peak, which in my opinion, is one of the most spectacular views in the area. I could've stayed at the Marlette Peak overlook for hours, but we had to keep moving.

From Marlette Peak, we dropped back down into the woods, and headed towards Marlette Lake. As we got closer to the lake and streams, the wildflowers became abundant. I couldn't really capture the true beauty with the camera, but I gave it my best shot. I was crawling around in the flowers trying to find a good angle, when Jeff P. cried out, "Hey! Do you want to get a picture of a big snake?!?". Not wanting to miss a wildlife shot, I sprang out of the grass to see this fine specimen, only to find Jeff P. taking a leak on the side of the road. You know...I really should know better by now! I declined on the photo opportunity and went back to the flowers.

We met up with Kristy and Amy on the south side of Marlette Lake. We had a snack and then climbed the final hill to the saddle above North Canyon. From here it was a 4 mile descent on a fire road back to the parking lot. The bike shop at Spooner Lake has some post ride refreshments including Haagen Dazs ice cream bars which Kristy and I both enjoyed while we examined our "tan lines". Upon returning home, we treated ourselves to a dinner of sushi and Pad Thai at one of the Carson Valley restaurants. The end to a spectacular day.

I highly recommend this trail/route. Add it to your list of things to do this summer!

More photos of this ride can be found on our Flickr page.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday Night Races

The BMX races are Friday nights and Sunday mornings. We've found that at this time of year, Friday nights are a bit more comfortable. We had some strong winds into the evening, but they made the track very fast on the north bound straightaways. It also helped cool us down in our long pants and long sleeved jerseys.

Charlie had a very small class to race with. It was just him and a 6 year old girl. This girl has been his main competition since he's started racing. They're almost even on the first straightaway, but she pulls away in the corners and the table top section. The good thing is that she's close enough to keep him motivated. She's a good rabbit to chase. They did two heat races and a main together, and Charlie was stoked about taking home a 2nd place medal. He tried hard, he got a medal. He likes the reward at the end, and I like to see him try hard. It works out for both of us!

I raced three other guys that I don't think I've raced yet. They all had nice bikes, and looked pretty sharp. I didn't know what to expect. I ended up taking 2nd in the first heat, and 1st in the second heat. In the interest of daylight, only 2 heat races are run on Friday nights. It was a good thing too! It was almost dark when we got to the main. I switched to my yellow lenses and they helped light up the track.

I got the hole shot on the main event! For a very brief moment I thought to myself, "I'm winning!" Then the guy who won the first heat passed me going into the first turn, and I ended up chasing his rear wheel all the way to the end for a 2nd place. It was a great bunch of guys to race with. We all shook hands at the end of each race and had a good laugh. There were no egos!

I used the stock platform pedals for my last race, and found that my feet were bouncing all around. I put on some Shimano SPD clipless pedals for this race, and it made a big difference. My feet were always where I wanted them, and I could just concentrate on pedaling. It took a bit more concentrating at the gate though, making sure I could stay clipped in and balanced.

Next week I'm going to work on finding a line that will allow me more speed through the first berm. The track is the hardest packed dirt you'll ever ride. Taking the first turn too tight makes it hard to keep pedaling for fear of sliding out. This is a big contrast to the rest off the week when I'm riding my mountain bike through loose sandy single track!

To sum it up, it was a fun night! Charlie and I took home a couple 2nd place medals to put on the trophy shelf. Kristy was a big help too. I was moto 4 and Charlie was moto 6. I had just enough time to catch my breath and put my bike down when Charlie would hit the track. It takes a whole team!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lost and Found

I found this on the Ash Canyon road today. It looks to be some kind of high end billet aluminum barrel adjuster, although it seems quite large for a bicycle.

Is it yours? If no one claims it, I'll just put it back on the road.

Monday, July 16, 2007

2007 Death Ride

Saturday was the infamous Death Ride, or "Tour of the California Alps" if you're having problems getting your mother's permission to ride it. Did I do it? Heavens no! I spent the day napping, frolicking in the garden, supping a 2003 Zinfandel from Winery By The Creek (El Dorado County), and eating a delicious supper prepared from a fructuous visit to the farmer's market.

I know two guys who did though. Our very own Marcus and Brent! Brent has a very good story with pictures over on his blog. Go check it out!

Marcus, do you have any Death Ride lore you'd like to share? Other than "I forgot my camera?"

Good job you two!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Race Day

This was our first Sunday race. We thought it'd be cooler on Sunday morning, but it was about the same or hotter! It was hard not to get dizzy out in all that sun.

Kristy had planned to race today, but upon arrival we found that no other girls were racing the cruiser class. Kristy told me I needed to race. I didn't have long pants or a long sleeve jersey though, so I didn't see how I could. As it turns out, Kristy had worn a pair of my pants so they'd be a little baggier for riding. She also had on a size large long sleeved t-shirt! We jumped in the car and swapped clothes. I was ready to race! Kristy went and signed me up for 36 - 40 year old cruiser class. The cruiser class allows 24 inch wheels and larger.

My son and I ran some practice laps together, trying not to get burned out in the summer sun. I'd run a few laps on Wednesday, and was starting to get the hang of the turns and jumps. I've found that it's best for me to try my hardest to keep the wheels on the ground. Not only can I keep pedaling this way, I don't get hurt either (sorry Chris, no throwing down 80's style...).

They posted the moto sheets. I would be racing 4 other guys and had no idea what to expect. They called my moto, so I lined up at the gate. One guy had a hard tail mountain bike, so I thought I might be able to take him. It's just not the right tool for the job on the BMX track.

My strategy for the first moto was to let the guys sort out the first turn, and then I'd catch them on the next straightaway. This didn't work out too well. While I missed the aggressive battle for the hole shot, I never caught the three guys in front of me. I'd have to get more aggressive for the next moto.

The winner of the first moto transferred to the main. He got to sit out the next two motos. It was down to four of us. I got a much better start this time around, and my energy bar was kicking in. I think I surprised the guys that beat me in the first moto. I caught the leader in the whoop section, and got along side him through the berm. We raced side by side to the finish line, and it was so close that I didn't even know which one of us won! I found out later that he beat me by an inch or two. I'd have to race moto three since they only transferred one rider to the main in this moto.

Moto Three. Down to three of us. The faster of the two guys I beat in the last moto got a jump on me. I followed him close all the way to turn two. I knew I'd have to step it up. But then the leader's front tire washed out in the berm, and I got around him! I was glad to back off a little and enjoy my first win of the day. The guy on the mountain bike and I transferred to the main, as they took two from the 3rd moto.

I was getting pretty tired by this time. So was Charlie. He had a great performance in his 1st moto, and tied for third place. The heat was getting to him for motos two and three though. He was running much slower than his initial performance. We took a break and prepared for the main event.

I was balancing up on the gate, looking down at my front tire. I lifted my head up to look down the track and got dizzy. Man, it was getting hot. I imagine the other guys were feeling it too. They had misters going in the tent above the moto line, but that refreshment had already worn off. The gate dropped, and I got a pretty good start. I just couldn't hang with the two guys in front of me though. I wasn't too far off, so that was good for encouragement. You have to keep on it in case someone screws up. In the end I got 3rd place, and I felt pretty good about that. Not knowing what to expect, it was cool to take home a trophy. When we got home, we put the trophy up in Charlie's room with his other trophies. I think it boosted Charlie's spirits some too. I think if we can keep it a family team, it takes some of the pressure off him. It's also good for me to know what racing feels like. I know how tired I was out there, and know what my son is going through. We can talk about each section of the track as equals.

So as expected, I had a few thoughts on things I'd like to change on the bike. Some lighter tires for sure. Many of the guys run clipless pedals, and today I saw why. Just like in mountain biking, it keeps your feet just where you want them. I found that if my foot wasn't perfect on the platform pedal, there wasn't much time to fix it. To fix it, you had to stop pedaling. Stop pedaling, and you lose! We're going to put some Shimano clipless pedals on for Wednesday night practice. Kristy and I both have the shoes for them, so it will be a good experiment.

There is also a lot of upper body fitness involved in BMX riding. From the sore parts on my upper body following the race, I now have a good idea which muscle groups I need to work on!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wednesday Night Practice

On Wednesday, Kristy and I joined Charlie for BMX practice. What surprised me the most was how much one little lap kicked my butt! This worked out good for Kristy, because she got more time on the bike. She was having a blast and would just keep doing laps while I rested. One kid even challenged her to a race. She plans to race for real on Sunday too! I'll be the pit dad. They run the motos pretty quickly, so Charlie may need assistance while Kristy is racing.

My favorite part of the track was the whoop section. You didn't even have to pedal, and you picked up speed! Push down on the bike as the front wheel goes down the whoop, pull up on the bike as it goes up the face. You get going pretty fast and have to remember to set up the berm. I forgot once and came close to going over the top of it.

Our friends had some kid gear that was too small for their son, so they passed it down to Charlie. He looks pro now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shop Rides

Looking for an after work ride in Carson City?

"Shop Rides" leaving from The Bike Smith parking lot are now happening every Tuesday at 6:00 PM. Jeff P. has led the gang on the last two rides.

The Bike Smith is located at 900 N Carson St, phone number(775) 883-3210.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Blue Lakes

The heat continues on here in Northern Nevada. To add to it, there are multiple fires burning that have made for smoky skies. It was a perfect day to get out of town.

We headed up into the mountains for a morning in the Alpine area of Blue Lakes. It was still a bit smoky and hot, but within the tolerable range. The wild flowers were outstanding today. I could've spent a lot more time checking out all the different varieties, but kid sitters are $5/hr...

We passed many a spot that looked good for breeding mosquitoes, but I think the heat may have kept them at bay. I bet they are fierce when the sun goes down!

After a meandering forest road, We rejoined the Blue Lakes road which has recently been paved. This made for a nice fast downhill into the Blue Lakes basin. The camp grounds looked pretty full, and there were many anglers out on the lake shore. It was pretty peaceful with the exception of the occasional OHV.

Upper Blue Lake

After peacefully riding the shore of Blue Lakes, we pointed the bikes uphill and began the granny gear grinder to reach the heights above timberline. Near the top, we crossed the no-bikes-allowed Pacific Crest Trail. The road was nasty, but at the slow speeds we were going, keeping the bikes under control was not a problem. We finally finished the climb and took a break at the very scenic Forestdale Divide overlook at around 8,800 feet above sea level.

The view from Forestdale Divide - still a bit of snow!

We finished the ride with a ride along Forestdale Creek. The somewhat obscure trail appears to be used mostly by horses. It used to be a double track, but has shrunk down to a single track. The trail is barely visible through some of the meadows. A stark contrast to the overused Blue Lakes road!

I highly recommend exploring this area during the summer months. It's a bit different than the Lake Tahoe area, and less crowded.

Also, thanks to the Potters for showing us the way!

As usual, more pictures can be found on our Flickr page.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Give Me A Sign

Neighborhood Watch
Originally uploaded by Facility Bike Club.
Some people wait their whole life for a sign.

Some proof.

I received mine today.

Much like Moses received his instructions from the Burning Bush, I received my spiritual guidance from the Burnt Tree. This tree burned to death in the fire of 2004, but still stands as a monument to the once proud conifer it was. It was nearly hot enough today on this sere mountainside for this tree to spontaneously burst into flames, but I think the signs are pretty obvious without the fire.

I believe in you Oh Burnt Tree.

Many spiritual messages are not direct instructions.

They are up for contemplation and interpretation. I am still pondering and meditating on my newly acquired promulgation. What do I do with this new information?

But isn't it a little ironic that somebody stole a Neighborhood Watch Sign. Maybe that program isn't working out...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

H.O.T. !!!

The weather has been ahead of schedule pretty much all year. We've already hit temperatures in the triple digits, something that doesn't usually happen until the end of July. Today's lunch time ride was baking with almost no wind. Breathing felt like sucking on a hair dryer! I would've gone through both water bottles, but the water was air temperature by the end of the ride.

The best times to ride right now are early morning, and the evening. Last night we went to a party at the Simpson's house up in the Timberline area. There were enough riders to make a good group ride, so we took off from the house, got a good ride in, and finished just in time for a good BBQ and fireworks.

Kristy also tackled the Ash Creek trail on her single speed. The trail is in beautiful shape, but is still quite challenging. The challenges are made even more visually challenging by adding the steep drop offs for most of the trail. Nevertheless, Kristy did a great job of surviving her first run on the trail!

Surly Stainless Steel

Surly Stainless Steel
Originally uploaded by Facility Bike Club.
I just replaced the freewheel, chain, and chain ring on my single speed.

I went with an ACS freewheel. It's a bit loud, but has quick engagement. The bike is so quiet that a little bit of freewheel sound is kind of cool.

I went from the stock BMX chain to a SRAM PC68 8 speed chain. Not only is the chain quite a bit lighter, it feels more efficient. And I love the power link too...great for taking the chain off for cleaning.

While replacing the chain, I noticed the teeth on the chain ring were pretty worn down. I ended up going with a Surly Stainless Steel 32 teeth chain ring. It's a bit heavier than the aluminum ring, but is supposed to last much longer. And since the bolt mounts aren't recessed, you can flip it around and get even more use out of it.

The new drivetrain feels great! So great in fact, that I've had a hard time riding any other bike in the last couple weeks.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Grand Opening

A few weeks back, I was running some blog ideas past Marcus. He said that my ideas didn't belong on the FBC blog. After some pouting careful consideration, I agreed. The FBC blog should be kept to the topics of riding bikes. Duh.

But I still want to write about a lot of different things. There are always random thoughts spinning around in my head that need to find their way out. So with that in mind, I started a new blog to do just that. A place where any subject is permissible.

The new blog is still in its infancy stage. I'll be adding more links and other stuff as the blog matures and finds its direction. Which may be here or there or possibly nowhere but always somewhere. You dig? A phantasmagoria of ideas if you will...

So without further ado, I present to you Alternate Realities. Stop by and leave some comments or ideas!