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.  


"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.


"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!


"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.  


"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

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)

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.


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.


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?


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).


"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:

  • 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. 
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.