Saturday, December 27, 2008

Flying Clydesdale


We kicked the off the 3rd Annual Bike, Bonfire, and Beer Exchange last night with the customary night ride.  After about 45 minutes banging around on slick but passable trails, our imposing 9 rider express train bombed the Quarry Trail and  started accelerating down the Struble heading for home (and of course the beer).  As most of you know, that section of the Struble is straight and level and encourages excessive speeds.  That stretch is also very muddy and when frozen is littered with rock hard ruts and gullies perfect for twisting a front wheel and violently ejecting a rider over the handlbars.  And yes, the "days since last crash" counter on the mo7s blog has now been reset.  Quipped one of our riders who had a bird's eye view of the crash - "it's never pretty to see a flying clydesdale from behind." 

Yes it rained...and it sleeted...quite a bit.  But that did not appear to dampen spirits at all, possibly due to some other spirits and our 8' rip roarin' bonfire stoked with a kiln dried treehouse.  I would like to recap some of the high brow competitions like the synonym game, the Angelina Jolie game, or even the other "game that doesn't have a name yet" but honestly I would not be able to do them justice, so I will focus on the less cerebral competitions:

Fire jumping.  Not that anyone we know would ever attempt such an insanely dangerous feat, but hypothetically, if some were to attempt this, it is apparently best to use someone else's bike. Also some extra momentum will apparently make up for insufficient altitude. 

Competition for best beer presentation:
  • Entry #1 (reigning champion) - very large in scale (striking resemblance to a parade float) festooned with festive images not appropriate for this blog.  Very high marks for combustability.  
  • Entry #2 - festive holiday theme, nice attention to detail, demonstrated high quality joinery and woodwork.  Bold use of family hierloom, almost backfired.  Very high marks for execution.
  • Entry #3 - creatively combined carnal knowledge and sisterhood/brotherhood without quite crossing the line, very elegent in it's simplicity.  Very high marks for incorporation of negligee.  
Unfortunately entry #2 had to be DQ'd due to the "must burn to win" contest criteria (read the small print).  And while last year's champion was definitely competitive, the judges agreed that entry #3 set a new standard in debauchery and therefore must be awarded 1st prize. Congratulations CD.

Kudos to us because we managed to fit all this (and more) in well before the 2am deadline. Thanks to Kirk and Mike for cleaning this morning - it couldn't have been pretty.  By the time I got down there after lunch today, the only evidence was a still smoldering firepit.  

Chris

"All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lookee Here

Lookee here, see what Santa brought.  Looks like some wrenching this afternoon!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2 for 1 Deal

Sunday morning's "wintry mix" froze into a crunchy and downright grippy coating - great conditions to kickoff the ride.  As the ride progressed it gradually loosened up to the consistency of pea gravel - not the most efficient riding surface.  In the end, 2.5 hours of riding felt a lot more like 5 which, depending on how you look at it, that is actually a pretty good deal ("2 for 1").  

Welcome Kirk Thibault to the mo7s fold.  Kirk (both of them actually) turned in solid rides, but KT's ride was all the more impressive because he did it on an old-school all-rigid cyclocross bike (pictured here).  Hoping to see a lot more of both Kirks on future rides.

We are looking forward to the possibility of some opportunistic rides in the last 2 weeks of 2008 so stay flexible and close to your email.  If weather conditions cooperate even a little, we should be able to squeeze in a bunch of local rides and maybe a few roadies before the 6th when the party ends.  Stay tuned.

Chris

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a bicycle, must be in want of another one."

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Fine Line


Today Andy Sokol had a brilliant idea.  "Since Chris has so accurately determined when the solstice occurs (7:04AM) we should be riding at that time [at Wissahickon]."  The thought of hitting the trail at the very instant that the sun hits the Tropic of Capricorn is incredibly alluring and a stroke of genius on Andy's part, and I am ashamed that I did not think of it first.  

Alas an early Saturday ride at Wiss is not in the cards for me personally.  But I can try to avoid such an embarassing scheduling snafu in the future so I started looking at the ride schedule for 2009.  And of course that little diversion snowballed into something a little more ambitious.  Here are the highlights:
  • Vernal Equinox - sun crosses the equator on it's way north - Friday 3/20 @ 7:44am - looks like an early happy hour ride, count me in
  • Summer Solstice - sun reaches northernmost point, the longest day - Sunday 6/21 @ 1:45am - ouch, might have to miss this one
  • Autumnal Equinox - sun crosses the equator again, this time heading south - Tuesday 9/22 @ 5:18am - maybe our last early morning ride before hunting season, count me in
  • Winter Solstice - already explained ad nauseum - Monday 12/21 @ 12:47pm - xmas week, traditionally slow at work - this is a no brainer
  • Full moons - Sun 1/11, Mon 2/9, Wed 3/11, Thr 4/9, Sat 5/9, Sun 6/7, Tue 7/7, Thr 8/6, Fri 9/4, Sun 10/4, Mon 11/2, Wed 12/2, Thr 12/31 - weather reports not available yet, but clear skies would make these strong night ride candidates.
  • Hibernia Duathlon - 5mi trail run + 11mi mt bike race at Hibernia Park - Sunday 4/19 - low-key event and traditional kickoff to our spring riding season, may be run as solo event or relay.  great mental goal to keep your head in the game through the winter.  I have a daughter who can run like the wind so I am ALL IN baby!  believe it or not, registration  is now open
  • Sunday Rides - well established and reliable - 52 +/-1 of these next year as well
  • Happy Hour Rides - late afternoon on Fridays, scheduled in ad hoc fashion - there are 52 +/-1 of these babies next year 
  • Roadies - at least 1 per month, would like to up that a little bit so let's call it 1.5 per month which means 18 of them in 2009
  • Weekday rides - ad hoc during the winter season, more reliable schedule during the summer months, but every weekday is a possibility so let's call this 261 opportunities next year
  • Chelsy's ride - let's make our new years resolutions to get back onto the 1x per month schedule
1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 13 + 1 + 52 + 52 + 261 + 12 = 395 rides to fit into 365 days next year, so cinch up your chinstraps and get ready for a busy year in 2009!

Chris

"It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."
     -- David St. Hubbins (This is Spinal Tap)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunday Solstice Celebration

This Sunday at 7:04am marks the winter solstice - the point at which the sun begins it's long trip from the Tropic of Capricorn back toward our neck of the woods in the northern hemisphere. This also marks the beginning of winter (and hopefully some colder temps and passable trails) and the point at which our days begin to get longer rather than shorter.  

Please contain your excitement, this gets even better...  

...we will celebrate the '08 solstice with a Sunday morning 9am ride. Accuweather is promising us snow and temps in the low-20s Saturday night, so Sunday morning should be one friggin' awesome ride. Some of you Nancies (you know who you are) need to take off the skirt and climb onto your bikes for this one. There will be plenty of time for lounging around in your PJs later next week.  

Chris  

"Bicycles don't insult you if you're a bad rider"
 -- 'Corey from Kitchener, "Why Bicycles Are Better Than Women"

Relive our (mis)adventures at mo7s.blogspot.com


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The News - Good for Nick, Bad for Duke and Buster

Thanks to you guys Nick will be driving a spanking new radio controlled All Terrain Mini Desert Truck around the Calvaresi household Christmas morning.  And it's not one of those cheesy Radio Shack trucks, this puppy is the real deal from Hobbytown in West Chester featuring oil filled shocks, real bearing transmission, adjustable clutch, and all replaceable parts.  Special thanks to Rob (our resident RC geek) for meeting there and helping to pick this beauty out.  We decided against the helicopter (fragile, a little tricky to fly) and are confident that Nick will have a blast with this machine (what 10yr old boy wouldn't?).  I also picked up a couple of $15 iTunes gift cards for his siblings (Sammy and Pete) so they would not feel left out.  

I am sure Nick will enjoy tormenting Buster and Duke (his dogs) with the truck, but most importantly will get a real charge from knowing that "the Dads" are thinking of him.

The total tab is just shy of $180 so $10 per person will do it.  You may:
  • give it to me personally
  • mail it to 101 Kaiser Drive, Downingtown PA, 19335
  • or do it via PayPal (seriously, let me know if interested)
Thanks,
Chris

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Finest Hour (not)

Cool nighttime temps so Sunday morning the trails were in pretty good shape.  I wish I could say the same for myself, not my finest hour (not my worst either, but definitely not my finest).  Was nice to see a few fresh faces we haven't seen in a while including Kirk pedaling up with a hot coffee in one hand and Coldplay on the iPod.

This week's forecast is for a double whammy of warm and wet, not terribly promising but we'll see.

Chris

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lets Put a Smile on Nick's Face for Christmas

There is a lot of interest on the part of the biking group to do something for Nick and his family, you guys are awesome.  This is a message to keep you updated on the status of that effort. 
 
We will target Christmas morning so that gives us a few days of breathing room, I have reached out to Dave to get some ideas on what type of gift would be most meaningful to Nick over the next few months.  In the meantime I'll be consulting with all the 10yr olds I know and we'll pull the trigger by early next week, keep the ideas coming in.  Also a few of you have suggested making this inclusive of Nick's siblings Sam and Pete which seems to make a lot of sense.  

I tried last night to find a card to attach to the gift(s) - something memorable and bike-oriented.  No luck, so I twiddled away some time during that lame NFL game to cook up something fun in PowerPoint.  I was surprised how well it turned out.  Who knows, maybe we'll start issuing our own line of holiday greeting cards in the future...

Stay tuned.

Chris

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

3rd Annual Bike, Bonfire, and Beer Exchange


Hold onto your hats, it is almost time for the 3rd annual Bike, Bonfire, and Beer Exchange ("Beer Exchange" for short).  

The Beer Exchange is our answer to the ladies' annual cookie exchange where (reportedly) they sip wine and eggnog while listening to christmas carols and swapping Christmas tree ornaments and home baked confections.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about the cookie angle (I personally benefit from that), but the whole thing left some of us wondering if Lyndenwood was becoming, well, a little "light in the loafers." So we instituted the Beer Exchange - a physically demanding (barely), low-brow (totally), utterly unsophisticated counterpoint to the cookie thing  and an opportunity for our fellowship of bikers (and biker wannabees) to celebrate the holidays in a manner befitting our sport.

The 2008 Beer Exchange will be on Friday 12/26.  Our low-brow format will be pretty basic:
  • Bike.  It's a night ride, short format.
  • Bonfire.  It's a big one, behind Carl's house.
  • Beer.  Bring your own.
The evening will also feature a repeat of last year's big hit - the contest for best beer presentation.  Steve ran away with first place last year with an assortment of beers and low-brow reading material presented in a magnificent Longaberger basket (which was promptly incinerated in the bonfire).  Top that and you may win an entire year of bragging rights.

And in case there is an impromptu trivia contest, you may want a refresher on the sordid history of the Beer Exchange:
More information will be forthcoming during the run up to the 26th - precise time, review of open action items from last year (yes, we had action items), weather details, etc.  Mark it on your calendar with a big black X, charge up your light, and notify the wife and children that you will be MIA on the 26th.  Note: A few loaner lights are available for those that may need them, let me know ahead of time so I can coordinate.  

17 days - but who's counting?

Chris

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Creative Playthings

I believe the Sunday morning ride was our first bonafied snow ride of the season.  The shaded trails were in great condition - firm and fast - and the fresh snow was spectacular.  At 9am most of the trails already had tracks in the powder and we encountered at least 2 other biking groups during our ride.  

We did have some challenges with cleats clogging up with snow.  Maybe will try WD40 non-stick treatment on the cleats next time.  Another sure-fire solution would be fewer dabs, but with the snow covered roots and rocks this could be at the cost of a busted collarbone so we'll try the WD40 first - stay tuned...

We caught the bridge crossing on film and discovered that the main causeway is actually an old piece of "Creative Playthings" playground equipment (possible trail name coming).  Glad to see that even though it is semi-retired, it is still serving it's purpose as a plaything.  

Temps are up and down this week, Monday and Thursday look coldest and so promise the best riding conditions (frozen / firm trails).  Wed and Thr look pretty mild (a.k.a muddy).

Chris

"Get a bicycle.  You will not regret it if you live." – Mark Twain

Monday, December 1, 2008

Talk Dirty to Me

Last weekend (Thanksgiving) while on a casual stroll with my family in the Adirondack mountains trying to work off the fog from days of endless eating, drinking, and napping, I innocently dropped the term "babyhead" to describe a certain trail feature to my Mom.  The reaction from her (horror) abruptly jolted me out of my turkey-and-pecan-pie-induced trance and I was reminded that the infantile language we bikers use can actually be quite amusing.  So I shamelessly committed myself to frittering away the remainder of that day to capture some of these terms in this blog for my amusement, and yours.  

I am sure you can find many cycling dictionaries out there, but this one is special - it is grounded our own local "dialect" - the select slang terms that we customarily use in our cozy little biking family.  I have even cited our own people or locales where appropriate.   

I am sure I have missed some doozies, so if you think of any please send them my way and I'll be sure to include them in the next MO7S glossary (with proper attribution of course).  I'll go out on a limb right now and say that this might be an annual thing, a fritter-the-time-away-between-naps Thanksgiving  tradition of sorts.  

So here goes, the official unexpurgated  2008 MO7S Biking Glossary:

A-B
  • Babyheads - terrain with many medium size rocks (roughly the size of a baby's head) protruding from the ground which make negotiating a trail treacherous.  Similar to deathcookies, but bigger.  French Creek is a babyhead wonderland.  
  • Bacon - large thick scabs found on shins, knees, arms, and elbows resulting from a bike crash.  Handy distraction during long weekday conference calls (picking them that is).
  • Bonk - expression used by cyclists to describe exercise induced low blood sugar levels; a feeling of light-headedness and weakness in all limbs. "I was bonking until Chris gave me his Gatorade"  Has fallen out of usage in recent years due to alternative meanings not appropriate for this blog.
  • Booty - sock like neoprene cover for biking shoes that keeps feet warm and dry during cold muddy winter rides.  For bootylicious please see Jim.
  • Bunny hop - to lift both wheels off the ground by crouching down and then exploding upward, pulling the bike with you. Useful for clearing obstructions such as railroad ties, rocks, and small logs. 
C-D
  • Chain ring tattoo - the dotted-line scar you get from gouging your shin on the chain ring. Also known as a rookie mark.
  • Chainsuck - when the chain fails to cleanly disengage as it leaves a chainring or sprocket and begins to wrap around, generally due to a bent tooth or stiff chain link.
  • Clipless - misleading name for a pedal-and-shoe system where pedals mechanically clip onto cleats on the sole of your shoe.  Always entertaining the first time someone (Matt) rides with them.
  • Dab - touch the ground with your foot in order to maintain balance through a tricky piece of trail.  Also shoulder dab, done against a passing tree or fence post.  Considered to be bad form.  "That was pretty good crossing that stream, too bad you had to dab."
  • Double butted - spokes that are a heavier gauge at the ends than the middle, strength with less weight penalty.  May also be triple-butted (3 different gauges), getting into J-Lo territory now...  
  • Doubletrack - path that is as wide or wider than two bikes, and only half as much fun as singletrack (inverse relationship).  See Singletrack
E-F
  • Endo - an abrupt trip over the front handlebars, to go "end over".  Often characterized by matching thigh bruises where your legs impact the handlebars on the way over. 
  • Epic - a ride that must last for at least six hours and include at least three mechanicals, one of which requires a trip back to the car for a special tool. Epics are usually started with a statement like "the trail looks easy, it should about take two hours." Think Blue Marsh (Matt).
  • Face plant - in a fall when your face is the first part of your body to impact the ground. In the most extreme cases it may leave a nose shaped imprint in the dirt.  Also known as a digger. Ask DaveM about how the "O positive" trail got it's name.
  • Fixie - a bicycle with a single rear cog affixed directly to the hub of the wheel.  A fixie does not allow coasting.  The ultimate in cycling simplicity, eclipsed only by the unicycle.
  • Full rigid - frame with no suspension.  See Full Squishy, Hardtail
  • Full squishy - both wheels suspended, full suspension.  See Full Rigid, Hardtail
G-H
  • Granny gear - the lowest (easiest) gear ratio.  So easy to pedal your grandmother could do it.
  • Gravity - style of riding that depends primarily on gravity for propulsion rather than pedalling.  Downhill DH and Free Riding FR or gravity oriented, while Cross Country XC and All Mountain AM use both gravity and pedalling.  "Snowflake: I don't like XC because it's too slow, too boring, and too much work"
  • Grind - a long slow painful climb.  Alternatively, to rub two things together in a forceful manner. 
  • Hammer- to ride fast and hard.
  • Hammer Head- someone who doesn’t know the meaning of "enjoyable pace". They usually ride hard and fast all the time.
  • Hard tail - rear wheel is rigidly affixed to the bike frame, rear not suspended.  See Full Rigid, Full Squishy
L-M
  • Lawyer Tabs - Ridges or bumps on the front fork dropouts that keep the wheel semi-secured even if the quick release is not tightened.  This is done as a defense against frivolous lawsuits.  It also means that the quick release must be adjusted every time it is used, essentially making it a slow-release.  "Did you see that guy crash when is front wheel came off while grabbing some air off the curb on the way to the ice cream store with his 8 year old kid?  Too bad he didn't have lawyer tabs."  Jamie can elaborate.
  • Lefty - Cannondale's innovative mountain bike suspension fork (half of one actually).  Alternatively a term for a marijunana cigarette or someone with liberal political leanings.
  • Line - the fastest or safest way through a technical section of trail.
  • Milk Run - a trip with many stops
  • Mojo - action figure or other idolotry affixed to the seatpost of your bike, for example Jimmy Snooka.
  • MRDBS - Mike Rikey's Drunken Bike Shop.  'nuff said.  
  • Mule - rider at the front of the pace line to Chelsy's; by breaking the wind (as opposed to just breaking wind) this rider makes it easier for the riders behind him.
N-R
  • Nipple - Umm...that thingie that affixes the spoke to the rim.  They come in brass and aluminum.  
  • NOOB - Term of endearment for someone new to mountain biking.  Phonetically derived from "newbie".
  • Organ donor - someone who rides without a helmet.
  • Pace line - really stupid way that we conserve energy during our mad dashes to and from beer drinking sessions at Chelsey's.
  • Rat trap - type of platform pedal with nasty protrusions to reduce chances of feet slipping off (the same protrusions that fillet your shins when your feet eventually do slip off).
  • Roadie - to ride road bikes, often includes brighly colored spandex attire.  Also to transport mountain bikes via motorized vehicle to a remote destination, should include earth tone clothing and little if any spandex.  Alternatively, an alchoholic drink that you have in the car, maybe after the bike ride.
S-T
  • Singletrack - path that is the width of a single bike, and twice as much fun as doubletrack (inverse relationship).  See Doubletrack
  • Snake bite - signature punctures that result when the inner tube is pinched by the rim, as in a high speed impact with a log or rock.  Or a shot of Yukon Jack with a splash of lime.
  • Swag - free stuff, sometimes given away as trinkets by your local bike shop (e.g., water bottles, stickers).  See Trail Swag
  • Taco - when a wheel folds over on itself, pretty much beyond repair.
  • Thudbuster - a name for when DaveC crashes, generally near the end of our annual holiday bike ride and beer exchange down by Sebastian's mudpit.  Also a suspension seat-post from Cane Creek.
  • Track stand - to balance on your bike while stationary.
  • Trail swag - free stuff, found on side of trail (e.g., bike pumps, car keys).  See Swag
  • 29er - Bicycle with 29" diameter wheels instead of the customary 26", reportedly roll better over obstacles.
  • 69er - Bicycle with 29" diameter front wheel and 26" diameter rear wheel.  Purported to have the advantages of a 29" bike (rolls well over obstacles) and a 26" bike (light weight and low center of gravity).
U-Z
  • Weight weenie - someone who cares more about the weight of their bike than riding it.
  • Wrench – someone who has a wrench and knows how to use it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fair Hill Report

Roadie report - our Saturday trip to Fair Hill was well, awesome - even sweeter because it was the first time to Fair Hill for 3 of our riders.  Those of you who have ridden there know that it is an windy-twisty-rolling-singletrack wonderland interspersed with some spectacular scenery.  Trails were in tip top condition - frozen and firm - due to the subfreezing morning temps.  Probably 80% of the trails had been carefully manicured (blown/raked) by local trail hands so snow, ice, and leaves were not a factor at all (except when crossing slick frozen bridges).  $2 parking per carload seems almost criminal!  Check out this cool animated GPS track of the ride that Andy Doble captured during the ride.

Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is this week.  It's probably a good idea to jam  in some rides to help work up an appetite for the big feast.  I will probably ride Tuesday night assuming it's cold enough to avoid a mudfest.  I am out of town Wed-Mon so will leave it to others to crack the whip in my absence.

Chris

"There is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite so worthwhile as simply messing about on bicycles"
     --Tom Kunich

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bustin' In Some NOOBs

Sokol and Riley will be hosting a NOOB ride on Sunday afternoon - if interested you should contact them directly.  Note ride is for new guys only, no exceptions.  If your ride still has that new-bike smell or you are biking in sweat pants then you may qualify.  Remember, we've ALL been there - this is an opportunity for new guys to get acquainted with the sport without a lot of pressure or heckling. If we handle this right, we'll have some new faces (a.k.a. fresh meat) on the rides soon.  If we screw this up then there will be more bikes gathering dust in garages and guys gathering inches around their waists on couches.  Let's do this right and make the world a better place.  

With Riley and Sokol committed, Ferrer on the road with soccer, and Ahern harassing the nurses while on medical leave, attendance could be thin for Sunday morning.  If you want to do the customary Sunday 9am ride then please chime in and we'll keep it on the schedule.  Otherwise I may ride earlier or later in the day based on family activities.   

Chris  

"You've got to be tough if you're going to be stupid."       
-- anonymous

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Race Results















Race results for Sport class have been published so I took the liberty of cranking them through Excel (yes I am a data dork).  The results are depicted graphically above (click the graphic to expand).  Note that all times have been rounded down to nearest minute.  


Some highlights for the Sport class:
  • 62 riders finished (5 DNFs)
  • Average time was 2:08, median was 2:07
  • Best time was 1:46
  • I would like to point out that the top 5 Sport class finishers were all OLD GUYS!  Those that found ourselves in the bottom third of that age group (45-54) would have placed mid-pack with the youngsters (35-44).  I take a great deal of satisfaction from this.
  • Nearly all of the single speeders finished in the top third overall.  Who are these guys?
  • There does not appear to be a major sandbagger issue (fairly constant slope to the curve)
  • We did not get dusted by the girls.  Some consolation in that I suppose.
A more sobering perspective gleaned from the Expert class split times (their first 2 laps):
  • First place finisher completed his second lap at 1:36 
  • Last place finisher completed his second lap at 1:57
Finally to end on a positive, following is a piece of anecdotal data that is sure to impress the ladies.  It was posted by a racer to the dtownmtb group on yahoo:
"Here's a quick note on the race that I learned from one of the race officials. Only one racer, in any class, climbed the nasty, slippery trail up from the railroad tracks without getting off and walking at least part of it. 

That rider would be Rob Inforzato! Great Job!"
On another note, great ride last night - first official night ride of the winter season.  Trails were silky smooth from the Sunday race, clear skies (sort of), nearly full moon, and balmy temps in the high 30s.  Data analysis:
  • 5 riders (CD, SF, SM, AS, MY)
  • 80% of the bikes left the woods with their drive trains intact
Chris

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bonkers

WARNING: There is a lot of leg in this picture, maybe too much.  

The grindfest is in the bag.  2+ hours pushing at full throttle on that course was brutal, but I think all the finishers clocked in at or very near their target times.  A shower, four loaded tacos, and a big honkin' bowl of apple pie and I am beginning to feel human again...

The course was in pretty good shape given all the rain this week.  That crazy stretch of bridges, logs, rickety causeways, 4x6 handlebar grabbing posts, mud and brambles that was the gateway to the lakeside trail was transformed to something resembling the Santa Monica Freeway, complete with a chicken wire wrap to ensure good traction in wet weather.  Rob, Jim, and I would like to take credit for it (we spent about an hour working on it on Saturday), but what we saw on Sunday was a definite improvement on our work - somebody was busy late Saturday.

As predicted the race claimed some bonkers on the 2nd lap.  For example I passed one fellow near the top of the quarry climb who looked like he started with some game but at that point was pretty green around the gills and pleaded with me for food.  There were a few others out there in the same predicament.  

The results were impressive - we got a Riley onto the podium!  Father and mother were very proud (yes, it was Mike's young son Sean that had the podium finish).  This took the pressure off the rest of us and respectable times were turned in by the remaining riders (aside from our one fatal mechanical).

Our favorite park ranger was making the rounds on his ATV and strolling the field with his little ticket book drawn and ready.  This was crimping our style until in a flash of brilliance we figured out that that a bike water bottle filled with beer and dangled casually in one hand is the perfect camoflage and allowed us to stroll the after party, choke down tube steaks, and most importantly drink with impunity.  We finally closed down the afterparty around 3:00.  

We now begin a new chapter of autumn riding, doing it just for the fun of it (no more "training" rides), and best of all welcome back a few riders that have been out of the saddle for way too long.  We even have a NOOB climbing on board (got his bike yesterday).  

A day of rest seems in order for tomorrow, but by Tuesday I suspect that rigor mortis will be settling in and the legs will need a spin to loosen up, so I'll go ahead and suggest a Tuesday night ride 8:30pm.

For those of us who have been pounding the crap out of MCSP the last month or so, there is serious interest in a long overdue roadie, sometime this weekend or next.  If you think you might be interested, please chime in with weekend preference if any. 

Chris

"Pedal, b*tches!"
     - anonymous

Relive our (mis)adventures at http://mo7s.blogspot.com/

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Game Faces On

The light hearted email banter has tailed off and the game faces are on, race day must be just around the corner.  I took a spin on the course Thursday night and cursed Todd up and down while trying to make some of those rooty rocky muddy wet-leaf covered climbs between the Struble and the green trail. 

Possibly a ride for me tomorrow, but it will probably be a milk-run type thing just to keep the legs loose, make final tweaks on the bike (yes, the same bike that was in pieces during last weekend's wrenching debacle), and possibly do some trail maintenance over by the bridges (it's a sloppy mudfest down there after the rain an 100 bikes won't help matters much).  

Sunday is race day (duh).  If you are not racing, feel free to swing by to offer some abuse or to hear all the carnage stories while they are fresh and before they have been exegerated beyond all recognition.  I think most of us start around 10:15am and are shooting for about 2 hrs on the course, which puts us at the finish line shortly after lunch.  Look for the muddy guys with the big grins who are drinking out of plastic cups.  

Friday, November 7, 2008

Terrible News

One of ours received some terrible news this week.  Dave Calvaresi learned that his son Nicholas has a brain tumor.

It is going to be a long road back for Nick and his family, but with the support of a very strong family and many concerned friends I am confident that Nick will WIN this battle convincingly.

David is keeping us current via a blog at http://nicholasfight.blogspot.com/.  I know that Nick and his family would appreciate any good wishes you could send their way via the blog. 

Chris 
 
"If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell."
--- Lance Armstrong

Monday, November 3, 2008

You do NOT want to see this

This picture is what you do not want to see on the Sunday before the bike race.  

The picture was taken in my garage yesterday (the Sunday before the bike race).  

It is what happens when you ignore that cardinal rule of race preparation to NOT DORK AROUND WITH YOUR BIKE before a race.  "Dialing in" type of stuff is (borderline) ok, but what you see here is definitely not.  This was an aborted attempt to swap forks to create a more nimble full suspension bike for next week.  You can imagine how thrilled I was with myself when halfway through the nightmare project, I realized I was going to have to abort and reassemble the bikes in their original configuration.  That's about all I have to say on this particular debacle, except to remind you (and me) that when that little voice whispers that "I don't think this is a very good idea," you should listen to it.

I did manage to turn in a race lap yesterday with a couple of other riders.  We were only able to fit in one lap due to the early nightfall but were encouraged by the result.  Race day will tell. 

The coming week is all about one more hard ride, a milk run late in the week, and lots of clean living (maybe put that off until Wed or Thr).

Chris

"Those who love you are watching, and they expect greatness"

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bragging Rights and Dead Horses

Greetings fellow fat tire cyclists.  Just over one week until race day - still plenty of time to get your registration in and get an orientation ride to secure home field advantage for yourself.  I have been asked if there is any shame in registering for the beginner class.  I will share my response for what it is worth (edited to protect the identify of the rider):

"Anybody who tapes on a number and rides in the race earns bragging rights, regardless of class.  One lap on the new course is still 50% longer than last year's course, and last year was no picnic.  I think the 2nd lap will bury some in the sport class - I predict quite a few bonks, crashes, and mechanicals.  Also everyone knows you've been off the bike for a while. I'm sure you would get some friendly encouragement like "c'mon you should go for it [sport class]" but nabuse, at least not from me, and I don't think anyone else either. "

Have I beat this horse enough yet?  Not to worry, only one more week of dead horse beatings left...

Happy hour ride today @ 4:00pm (early due to trick or treating activities).  Sunny and very mild today, great conditions for biking and trick or treating!  We'll call this our Friday double-header.

Some conflicts so we'll have to move the Sunday ride to 4:00pm.  Hopefully that doesn't throw a wrench into the monkey works for anyone.  

Chris

"Ride it like you stole it"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Low Can You Go?

This picture of an Alaskan eco-friendly bike rack reminded me that it's almost that time of year...that time when our caloric intake increases (think lasagna, turkey gravy), our caloric output declines (think couch, NFL football), we deposit another layer of fat around out internal organs, turn all pasty-white, and shave another 4 months off our life expectancy.  This is known to many as winter.

But it doesn't have to be that way.  Bicycling IN the cold and wet does NOT mean BEING cold or wet.  Your natural inclination when starting off on a cold winter bike ride is to bundle up with too many layers (because logically, you expect to be cold).  Then after 10 minutes of exertion you start to sweat, your layers (maybe cotton) get soaked, and on the first downhill your wet clothes start to freeze and so do you.  So you are miserable and frustrated and longing for the couch.  We have learned the hard way (through experience) the secrets to staying comfortable when winter cycling.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Dress for Success

Clothing should be synthetic (NOT cotton) and breathable with two possible exceptions:  Underwear or jock or whatever you wear down there (wear whatever you want, enough on that) and socks can be wool if you are old school but not cotton.  So starting at the top and working our way down:
  • Skullcap or a balaclava (a.k.a. chickenhead) if it is really really really cold. $10.
  • Clear glasses to keep your eyes from watering up.  Clear because you'll be riding at night.  You probably already have some of these.
  • Breathable windproof top layer.  Not insulated, it's just to cut the wind.  Definitely breathable becuase you will be sweating. 
  • A long sleeve synthetic shirt or two.  Zipper is nice - believe it or not you will find yourself occasionally unzipping the jacket/shirt while riding in order to shed excess heat.
  • Gloves - windproof and you guessed it, breathable.  Full finger for obvious reasons.  $20
  • Pants.  You would be surprised how late we ride with shorts.  Sebastian has been known to stay with shorts well into the 30s.  But at some point you will want long pants - insulated, breathable, and windproof tights or baggy long pants.  Either of these with a pair of synthetic long johns will get your through basically anything.  I prefer the tights because they don't snag on bushes etc, but if you are homophobic or just don't see yourself in tights then baggies are great.  $50.  What DOESN"T work great is a fleshtone leotard.  I am not going to mention any names (107 Gottier Drive, 484 228-8349), but most of you already know what I am talking about here...
  • Neoprene shoe cover.  This is critical because your feet are very exposed and cleated to frigid metal pedals, and if your toes get cold you will be miserable.  $20.  Old school alternative is duct tape around the front of the shoe.  $0.05
You should actually be a little chilly (feel under dressed) when you first climb on the bike.  If you start off comfortably warm, then you are likely overdressed and will soon be sweating and shedding layers.

The Bike

Most lower end forks use an oil-elastomer suspension versus an air or coil spring.  This is fine when it is warm out, but when the temperature drops to the low 30s and below, that oil and elastomer thickens up and by the time you hit the low 20s, it is pretty much a rigid fork.  That’s fine, people ride all rigid bikes all the time, but good to know.

Glare ice is a really nasty problem when you are on a bike.  With no friction between the wheels and the ground, the bike will shoot out from underneath you faster than you can say “broken collarbone” and then gravity does the rest.  This happened to me at the beginning of a ride last year, and I just put my tail between my legs and went straight back home.  If it is glare ice conditions, then best not to ride.  Now I have not done this yet but it seems like a great idea – studded bike tires.

If you are using a camelback for water you will probably be ok (you might put it underneath your jacket to keep from freezing) but if you are using a water bottle, you will want to (a) fill it with warm water and (b) put it upside down in the bottle cage.  Water freezes from the top down, and if the spout is at the top it will be clogged with ice when it is time to drink.  Or just use vodka instead.  

The Ride

Remember the ground is frozen solid and doesn’t give when you bury your shoulder into it. Also if you are riding through a mud-pit that has recently frozen, then all those knobby tire tracks and grooves are like hardened cement and if you go down hard on that it is going to tear you up something awful.  If your tire gets into one of those grooves your bike may get a little bit squirrelly.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Right about now you may be asking yourself "how low can you go?"  Well, last year we had gotten pretty good at this sort of thing and we set a record (for us) for low-temperature riding - 7 degrees fahrenheit.  And the ride was a blast – church quiet in the woods, trails wicked fast, and not a lot of congestion on the trails as you can imagine. 

That's about all the advice I have about winter riding.  If you made it this far then hopefully you are considering giving it a try.  Bottom line - there is really no good reason to put the bike in storage over the winter.  Some of our best riding (in fact one of THE BEST riding memories for many of us) has been in the deep of winter.  

It's too good to give it up for half the year.  You need to give it a try.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gin Something Up

Two more weeks to race day.  We have a respectable contingent who intend to race but there is always room for more.  You will be glad to know that the trails weathered the weekend rain and equestrian event pretty well - yesterday the trails were well fertilized but overall still in great shape.

Everyone survived the big-wheel race down Kaiser drive yesterday.  We did have some attrition due to mid-race "mechanicals" - to be expected when you load a $35 plastic trike with 180 pounds of rider and shove it down a steep paved incline with a 90 degree turn at the bottom.  I understand video will be forthcoming.  We are already looking forward to lowering the bar, yet again, next year.  Can't wait.

Aside from Tuesday, the weather looks pretty good for this week.  Be sure to get out there while there is still some color in the trees, life is too short to miss opportunities like this.  As usual if you want to "gin up" a ride this week just say so.  I am doubtful for tonight as I still have to clean up some carnage from yesterday.  

Chris

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Intoxicating AND Less Filling

If the sheer number of grinning bikers in the woods these days is any indication, then fall riding is so definitely ON baby! The sights, smells, sounds, moderate temps, and general sensory overload make it a special time - you just gotta jump on it if you haven't already!

Todd has tweaked the Nov 9 race course and marked some of it with very pretty pink ribbons. Today and Sunday will be great opportunities to check it out as he continues to dial in the course. This is called home field advantage and at our advanced age, we need to leverage it to the hilt.

Sunday ride will assume 9am departure as usual. I would like to push it back a few hours so things can dry out after the Saturday monsoon, but our neighborhood block party may be moved to Sunday in which case we'll need to finish before noon (so Dads can prep for the big-wheel-trike-race down Kaiser - as Sebastian so aptly said we have "lowered the bar yet again"). So most likely we'll stick with 9am but if it changes I will put out an email by 5pm on Saturday.

Finally I guarantee that today's happy hour ride will more intoxicating and less filling than whatever else you may have planned. We have a few already confirmed and will likely roll sometime between 4:00 and 5:00. Let me know if you can jump on and if so, any time constraints.

Chris

"Old age and trickery beats youth and speed"

Relive our (mis)adventures at mo7s.blogspot.com

Monday, October 20, 2008

What if the Candidates Were Bikes?

Found this on the web.  Clever and topical but no mountain bike, maybe next time.

Spring City Recon

It's been a great run with 5 rides in as many days.  On Sunday a couple of us went to Spring City to check out the trails along French Creek.  Not a lot of miles, but great trails, lots of twisty single track, and some spectacular scenery along French Creek.  

On our way to Spring City we  stumbled upon a cyclocross race at Ludwig's corner.  Quite a spectacle with a few hundred vehicles including large RVs, food and beer concessions, about a mile long serpentine track with lots of short steep climbs and descents, some tight technical turns, obstacles that force the rider to dismount and carry their bike, and varied surfaces including lots of grass, loose sand, pavement, and a live announcer calling out the race.  Mostly people were riding cyclocross bikes which resemble road bikes but seem to have fatter knobbier tires (at least that's my assessment).  I would also say there was more brightly colored spandex than necessary but hey, it's their gig not mine...

The weather looks dry for as far as Accuweather can see, so we should be able to get in plenty of riding this week which is a good thing because it's like, the best time of the year to ride.  For this week we'll stick with our opportunistic protocol - chime in with time preference and we'll sort it out via email by 5:00pm or earlier if appropriate...  

Chris


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Keep it SImple, Stupid

By the way I wanted to say thanks to Rob for reminding of Henry David Thoreau's timeless words "As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler." I had eagerly taken on a bike wrenching project for a friend (we'll call him Mike Young) who had mangled his drivetrain in that insane stretch of bridges, logs, rickety causeways, 4x6 handlebar grabbing posts, mud and brambles that is the price of admission to the new Lakeside Trail.

The job was not complicated - straightening of a couple of chainrings. I had begun working on disassembly of the crank and discovered that this bike did not use slotted nuts on the inside (as I had seen on every other bike I have tinkered with over the last 47 years). I was now imagining this quickie 20 minute job morphing into a 2hr PITA when Rob happened by. Being one who could never pass an unfamiliar bike without a cursory inspection, he quickly assessed the situation and suggested I employ the crude but effective prybar approach. Which I did. About 6 minutes later the job was complete, the bike fully functional, and I had gained 14 minutes and hopefully the enduring admiration of my friend with the once-mangled drivetrain.

Now this is not to suggest that all bike problems can be solved with a prybar (some call for a hammer) or that I am completely devoid of any imagination or mechanical ability. But it does serve to remind that with bikes simpler is better and that having a neighbor who knows a thing or two about bikes and who walks his dog in the morning is invaluable.

KISS

Friday, October 17, 2008

Brotherly Love

Welcome back - Wednesday night we welcomed back an old soul who hadn't been seen in 8-9 months.  If he was rusty from the layoff, it was not readily apparent.  We thought about turning him on to the Lakeside trail but decided to save that for another day, better to witness the carnage in daylight.  Anyway we're hoping to see more of him on upcoming rides.  Also a little bird told me that another rider is completing knee rehab in the next week or so and is looking forward to getting a bike between his legs soon.  

MC race course - the problematic left hand turn in the baby head field has been effectively neutered.  Someone found Jim's line behind the big tree and blazed the new trail a mile wide.  Personally I think they went a little overboard but it is no longer a white-knuckle turn and you can enter the ensuing climb with some momentum which is nice.  Someone also removed a log-hop from the Entrail climb - another loss in my opinion but it appears some little biking-elves are committed "cleaning up" the course for November.  

Brotherly love - Rumor has it that Steve McLaughlin and his brother-in-law Chris Dougherty are engaged in a pissing match to see who can turn in the best time at the Nov 9 race.  McLaughlin muttering something about his "(very much) older brother in-law" and I think Chris retorting something about Steve's nice new bike "gathering moss" in the shed.  A good start on some trash talk that should lead to some stellar performance(s) on game day...  Keep up the good work guys!

Happy hour today - Lots of interest in a happy hour ride today, which should be spectacular now that real fall weather has finally arrived.  If you are interested please chime in with your time preferences/constraints.  We'll do the math and find the time that works best.

Sunday ride - will be a roadie to some unexplored territory up near Spring City.  We don't know much about these trails except that horses ride them (so they should be fertile) but we figured what the heck...  Again, chime in if interested.  We'll be shooting for an early departure on Sunday.  

That's all for now

Chris

"Just one more hill..."

Monday, October 13, 2008

On Best Behavior

You couldn't swing a dead cat in MCSP today without hitting a park ranger...so you will be relieved to know that we were on best behavior and tried to ride single file whenever possible.  We rode the Nov 9 course again and at the conclusion all riders agreed it is challenging but has a lot of variety and a high "fun factor."  Jim Ahern successfully demonstrated the right line for the one technical turn that had us stymied (sharp left exiting Entrail into the baby-head field).  Next we need to figure out a strategy for that miserable grind from the Blue up to the Green trail.  

Nov 9 is shaping up with solid confirmations from 4 riders and 5 more who have voiced positive intentions.  There are some veterans who have been uncharacteristically silent, my strong suspicion is that you just want to keep us in suspense and will signal your positive intentions shortly...    

The 5-day forecast for this week looks good - dry with nigh time lows in the 50s - so we should have no problem getting a few rides in this week.  Again we will employ the "flex" ride schedule - if you are interested in riding just chime in with any time preferences and we will nail it down via email by 5pm on ride day.    

That's all for now.

Chris

"Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Stakeout

Fellow Marsh Creek night riders, following is today's excerpt from the dtownmtb forum on yahoo. Interesting turn of events, good news looks like Todd (our ambitious race course designer) has a r'ship and will try to  smooth things out...

hop_devil61:

“There was a group of three park rangers standing at the north end of the Struble trail on Wednesday evening, just before 6 p.m. I assume they were there to intercept mountain bikers headed toward the park, knowing many ride on Wednesday evening. 

We parked in the township lot off Shellmire Road. We shot down Dorlan Mill Road and then entered the park via the usual gravel road. Doing this allowed us to escape any contact with the park officials at the bottom of the hill. We didn't see any of them for the rest of the ride.

Thought I would pass that along.”

Todds:

“Vic...

Are you sure they were mc rangers and not the county park rangers? County ranger gave group some shit last ride for not riding single file...   Hopefully we will get it all worked out soon... I plan to meet with park guy next week when i am back in town...

Later…"

Robinforsomething:

“Not riding single file, that's awesome.  Are walker's supposed to be single file too?  What about dogs on a leash, should they be single file with their owners too?   What was your response?  I probably would have been speechless (and thought of a good comeback 20 minutes later).” 

Riding from the neighborhood probably helps maintain a low profile but until this thing blows over it probably makes sense when riding at night to avoid (or at least be stealthy in) high traffic choke points like the boat launch and the Dorlan Mill access road.  Of course if you are riding “lights out” then it will be hard to plead ignorance if you do get caught.  Anothe roption would be to tape a fishing license to your helmet - that activity is apparently permitted in the park at any hour of the day or night.

Never a dull moment...

Start the Stampede

Not much interest in a roadie this weekend so we'll regroup and try again later this month...so Sunday will be local at MCSP departing at 9am from the 'hood.

Tootsie-pop-finger-guy and I rode the race course last night to see what a loop would feel like. We rode non-stop but at an easy pace, which got us around the loop in 1:04 (including one slow-motion crash by yours truly).  For those of you considering the race but concerned about level of difficulty here are a few observations...

Really just 2 truly painful sections:
  • The double track road from the dam to the farm.  We all know this stretch from the pre-lakeside-trail days.  It sucked then and it sucks now too.
  • On the climb up Blue from Sebastian's mudpit, we think the course zigs left up a new trail which I had not ridden until last night.  It bypasses the rooty section on the bobsled run (that's good) but it grinds straight up to the top of the ridge (that's bad).  It is the most miserable climb I have seen at MCSP but it is fairly short.
The rocky climb wasn't bad at all because I didn't ride it, I walked it (shamelessly).

All of the uphill grinds are followed, eventually, by some flats or downhills which gives you an opportunity to rest.  I know it's not exactly a flash of brilliant insight that all uphills eventually turn into downhills when riding a loop, but my point is that it is remarkably easy to rest while coasting so don't get freaked out by the non-stop aspect of this. 

There are a couple of sketchy sections:
  • Eddie trail descent (weight back, hold on) - I think most of you have done this one already anyway.  And the stinging nettles have been removed.
  • Left turn in the baby-head field from Entrail.  Haven't figured out how to do this one yet, but heck it's just one turn.
I think that's all.  I have encouraging indications from other riders indicating they may jump in.  Seems like some of you are just waiting for someone else to jump in first, start the stampede so to speak, so for Gods sake would one of you please announce your intentions??? 

I am traveling the remainder of this week so don't expect any rabble-rousing from me until the weekend. 

Later,Chris

"Tune in, Turn on, and Go long" --Tom Warren