Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Answer

25° temps ensured the trails were fast and grippy for twelve  riders who turned out for the last ride of 2014, and if this ride was any indication then 2015 is gonna be a hum-dinger even if it does start with vegan month (more on that later).

The short ride to the trail was painfully cold, but once the cold turned to tingling and then to burning, the blessed numbness finally set in. In two hours we hit most of the sights at White Clay including The Goat Trail (never gets old) and Corkscrew a couple times.
Trail tip: After the first trip down Corkscrew, Kirk's rear brake started dragging. Unable to find any bike lube he resorted to borrowing a flask of bourbon to "loosen up" the caliper and we learned yet another valuable lesson - that that sometimes "alcohol is the answer."
14 miles later, eight of us hit McGlynn's pub to recap the awesomeness of the ride and to celebrate that it is not yet vegan month by devouring:
Bourbon fixes everything
including stuck calipers.
  • One ahi tuna burger (a vegan distant cousin)
  • One McGlynn's Stuffed Burger. The vegan coup de grâce, this is pile of beef the size of a bowling ball stuffed with a whole philly cheese steak sandwich and (we think) poached in duck fat.
  • Six Farmhouse Burgers topped with cheese, locally grown mushrooms, and a fried egg. We added lettuce and tomato just to make our Moms happy if they are reading this blog.
We started washing these down with a session IPAs (it was 11:30am after all) but then mercifully switched to Old Dominion Bourbon Oak Barrel Aged Stout. 


We thought we might have a problem when Jesse (our passionate part-time vegan) dove into her Farmhouse Burger and her eyes rolled into the back of her head like a great white shark devouring a sea lion. No joke. It was weird. Tom thought he might have seen an extra eyelid too. 

Thanks all for turning out for the ride. I'm lucky enough to be able to ride a bike in the woods. To do it with eleven other great people who are at least as passionate about it is just awesome. Impossible to put into words.

Cheers,
Chris

"RIDE HARD, live easy"
     -- Unknown

photos courtesy of our vegan photographer

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Licking Windows

"We're licking windows now."  It was an apt observation. At 2:00 am the discourse had deteriorated to something akin to a bunch of 12 year olds in the back of the school bus at the end of a very long ride.

About seven hours earlier we kicked off festivities with the traditional mountain bike ride. This ride is never too ambitious but it's always fun because we know what's coming next. The ride is how we legitimatize what happens afterwards (the window licking part). This years ride was notable for the number of  fatties (five) and our penchant for driving headlong into every mud pit we could find on the west side trails.

Some kiln dried lumber and a couple gallons of kerosene ensured that the bonfire got rolling without a hitch once we tossed the match after the ride. We had a minor violation since Rob, as only the second person in history to clear the Trail of Broken Collarbones uphill on a mountain bike, was supposed to do the honors but was otherwise indisposed. We'll somehow rectify this next year at the Tenth Annual which is sure to be a doozie.

The post-ride alfresco menu featured reindeer chili topped with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, cornbread, homemade mexican guacamole-sour-cream-cheese-bean dip, bags of cider donuts, a huge pile of christmas cookies, chips, and assorted other high-calorie snacks enjoyed by mountain bikers.

Well fed, amply watered, and energized by the ride, nine of us settled in for a long night of shenanigans and belly laughing around the bonfire. Shenanigans included one fire jump (it's not a bonfire without one of those) and belly laughing included Löwenbräu lyrics and some now immortal bonfire memes and quotes including:

  • "The Finger of God." I won't attempt to explain it here and Google won't help so don't bother.
  • "It's the end of the the world and I was facing the wrong way." It looked like it was, and clearly one of us was. Yeah, I guess you had to be there.
  • The window licking reference which I think has some legs with this group.

We finally threw in the towel not because we'd run out of material but because it was almost 3:00 am and apparently you have to draw a line somewhere.

Chris

"Here's to good friends, last night was kinda special."
     -- The Löwenbräu guy

Friday, December 12, 2014

Just Around the Corner

This guy provided the chili recipe. I figured if he could make 
a bunch of squirrels edible then he could probably do 
wonders with some reindeer meat.
Quick update on the bike bonfire beer thing, which is just around the corner:
  • Elk & bison meat chili has been re-dubbed "reindeer chili" by my disapproving daughter. No need for me to bring any home, she won't be trying it.
  • It will be mild (low 29 degrees) so consider flip flops for apres-ride attire. Also Kirk has kindly offered the use of his hot tub to "take it up a notch" so bring your bathing suit too (no birthday suits please). Seriously, bring it.
  • Kirk and I will be setting up the bonfire tomorrow mid-day (felling trees, lashing the pyre together with bailing wire, dousing with gallons of kerosene, setting up a fire jumping skills course, etc.) so if you want to join that fun let me know and we'll keep you posted on time. 
  • Park at my place or in the cul de sac, then hump your stuff behind Kirk's (walk to left of his house) and down the trail to the bonfire site by the creek. Plan on a couple trips to get all your stuff (bike, cooler, chair, food, gear, etc) down that dang trail. It's called the Trail of Broken Collarbones for a reason. Note: if you RIDE down the trail then you are nominated to light the bonfire (an honor not unlike the lighting of the Olympic torch). If you ride UP the trail then you are superhuman. It's only been done once. Ever.
The fun starts in about 21 hours and this house smells awesome!

Chris


"Oh the things you can find if you don’t stay behind."
     -- Dr Seuss

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bike Bonfire and Beer Exchange Fun Quiz for 2014

Back by popular demand, here is the Bike Bonfire and Beer Exchange Fun Quiz for 2014... 

1. At Mike's Tiki bar in East BurkeVermont, four dollars will buy you:
a) A warm beer
b) A cold beer and a warm shower
c) A cold beer and a space heater with an empty propane tank
d) A french Canadian cycling chick and a cold shower
2. "Ginger lips" is:
a) An organic lip balm made from hemp and ginger root oil
b) A taunt used to provoke red heads, as in "get back in your biscuit tin, ginger lips"
c) Someone who insists on ordering fish tacos even when barbecued pork shanks are on the menu
d) All of the above
3. The Dirty Penny Fan Club is:
a) Figment of our imaginations
b) Back in business after a brief but alarming 12 hour hiatus
c) A hall of mirrors that makes big things look small and possibly visa versa
d) All of the above
4. Which of the following has never happened at a Bike, Bonfire, Beer Exchange:
a) Burning of a scantily clad blowup doll
b) An Irishman getting a sunburn
c) Driving a lawn mower through the bonfire
d) Visitation by a homeless guy wearing spandex
e) An Irishman taking a swing at a town council member
f) Drinking beer from a toilet bowl
g) None of the above (i.e., they have all happened)
5. The "Brew Screw" is:
a) A novelty item made by mountain bikers in a garage in Pennsylvania
b) A form of fraternity hazing that has been mostly outlawed except in Kentucky
c) Espresso chased with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
d) At the bottom of Marsh Creek Lake with a cheap Welgo left-side pedal attached to it.
e) Both a and d
6. During the 2014 Kingdom Trails trip, Andy Doble earned $80 cash by:
a) Playing Texas Hold'em in a barn outside of town
b) Playing slot machines at a dive bar just north of the US/Canadian border
c) Throwing a hissy-fit at the LBS when his fancy Niner frame cracked
7. During the 2014 Kingdom Trails trip, how did we learn that Chris' nickname is "Rug Rat." 
a) He was caught sneaking to the bathroom in his flannel RugRats cartoon pajamas
b) His Navy buddy Marc told us
c) He mumbled something about it while half asleep in the lounge chair by the wood stove
d) Someone saw it tatoo'd on his leg
e) None of the above (his real nickname is "Maverick") 
8. The 2014 Cinco de Mayo ride featured:
a) Hot dog tacos with cabbage and barbecue sauce
b) A teak coffee table and a 7' blowup cactus
c) Three donkeys and a guy playing guitar
d) Home made heirloom tomato salsa eaten off the bottom of a SIDI riding shoe
e) Bike riders riding by and smashing a pinata with their heads
f) A horrified trail runner splayed out on the ground
9. Steerer tubes should be cut:
a) By a professional
b) By someone who is not drinking beer
c) By a chopsaw
d) Once but only after measuring twice
10. Two DB's were DQ'd from the Brandywine race because they:

a) Were juicing
b) Wore flesh colored spandex
c) Stopped for unsanctioned hydration during the race
d) Couldn't follow instructions
11. The January 2014 "Tour duh" planning meeting at Victory resulted in:
a) A detailed plan for the event of the century
b) A bar tab of $147.58
c) Decision that Corinne will be our waitress for all future "Tour duh" planning meetings
d) A bunch of scribbles on the back of a paper napkin
Happy holidays, and don't forget to...

..."use it while you still have it"
     -- Gasp4Air

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fat Bike Beat Down

Five and a half hours into the ride we ran down our list of aches and pains. "Oh God my butt is KILLING me". "My hands are sore". "My back and neck hurt". "My knees are a mess". "The balls of my friggin' feet are sore" (Bryan was literally pedaling with his heels at this point).
It has been months since we've indulged in a beat down of this magnitude. Even longer since we've gotten up at 5:00am in sub-freezing weather for the beat down. 

Our Tour de Perkiomen (led by Rob - thank you FaceBook) used miles of scenic creek-side Perkiomen trail to string together a grind up the backside and down the front side of Spring Mountain and a spin around Knight Lake in Green Lane Park. Cool temps and a warm sun made for ideal riding conditions. 

Most of us were also on fat bikes which makes just about any ride more fun. Fat bikes are ironically very nimble and they go just about anywhere as long as have the legs to keep pushing the pedals. They also put smiles on the faces of civilians who think they look like clown bikes. 

And there is something immensely gratifying about suffering together and draining the tank bone dry once in a while.

Chris

"Suffering has a luminous beauty, and cleanses the mind in much the same way a wildfire clears an overgrown forest."
     -- Mike Ferrentino

P.S. Thanks to Kirk and Rob for the snaps.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Magical

Today was the first FHHR since the Kingdom '14 trip - a chance to catch up with friends I hadn't seen in a while (two of whom were Kingdom '13 riders who sadly couldn't make this year's trip).
Tangent: I'm embarrassed to say that I rode from the cheater lot (I didn't know how my back would handle the milk run the The Beer Tree). I'm glad to report that, while still a bit tender, it felt OK and I am optimistic about Allegrippis '14 which is just around the corner. Yes, two bike trips in one month. I am a lucky guy.
The Beer Tree flaunting
her stuff in the warm
evening sunlight
Dirty Penny Gets Nailed
at The Beer Tree
This Friday's FHHR menu included home-made beef jerky, one of Jesse's vegan chocolate coconut masterpieces, and beer "samples" from the up and coming Boxcar Brewery.

The company, the weather, and the low evening sun reflecting off the lake made it kind of magical. Especially the company.

Chris

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."
     -- Dr Seuss

Making Omelets


$4 for a craft beer and a shower at Mike's Tiki Bar sounds like a pretty good deal. Add in seven guys with a long-weekend hall pass, a rented post-and-beam farmhouse with a million dollar view of Vermont's Green Mountains, and countless miles of world class singletrack and you've got more than a pretty good deal. You've got the  recipe for one amazing omelet.

Omelet? Let me explain. We'll start with the ingredients:
  • Mike's thatched roof Tiki Bar sits at 45° north latitude. There are not many Tiki Bars that close to the North Pole. Instead of Stripers and rum drinks, Mike had 25 varieties of craft beer on tap.
    Our perch overlooking The Kingdom.
  • We started with eleven guys prior to the trip, lost two to nasty mountain biking accidents, one to a sales conference, and one to the legal system, which left seven of us to carry the flag to The Kingdom. A couple nicknames were revived and/or earned, including Rug and Ginger Lips. I'm not going to elaborate, join us on a ride if you want to learn more.
  • Our base of operations was a rented post-and-beam farmhouse on about 15 acres of land on a hilltop overlooking The Kingdom. It was equipped with four bathrooms and a fridge large enough to (barely) hold a substantial supply of bacon, pulled pork, smoked london broil, and Cincinnati chili. I think there may have been some vegetables in there somewhere but can't be sure.
    Early Morning
    Wrenching
  • Over 100 miles of amazing singletrack, with many capital improvements since last year's trip. I don't know where to start, so I'll just mention that Farm Junk had a lot of work done on the top side. Riverwood was a tight twisty masterpiece which we rode in both directions - multiple times - and spurred many fruitless debates about which way was better (this type of argument is clearly a "first world problem" that we're happy to have). Leatherwood, Pines, Kitchel (Oh My God), Tap and Die, Troll Stroll, Webs, New Webs. The list goes on and on. 
  • Random ingredients added "to taste": Homey the Clown, a very angry guitar player, and a bottle of root. 
Broken Egg #1
(look close)
We started mixing the ingredients Thursday morning at 5:30am and by mid-morning on Friday the Dirty Penny Fan Club was back in business (after 12 hours of unnecessary self-inflicted panic) and we were on the trails. By Sunday night we were sore from laughing and dog-tired from dozens of miles of single track, repairing a set of hydraulic brakes, and one marathon poker game. We had eaten a pig and probably half a cow and of course we had broken a few "eggs" for the omelet (actually a tooth, a chain, a shin, and a lower back). 

So sure, this recipe can be a little messy and takes some time to prepare, but it's a real crowd pleaser. A keeper.

Broken Egg #2



Chris

"If you want to make an omelet, you're gonna have to break a few eggs"
     -- Chris (one of the eggs)

"Fixing chains makes me gassy."
     -- Flatch

"Root makes me gassy."
     -- Flatch

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Calling an audible: MC 630 Phat

It was a good call and here is the photosphere to prove it. Give it a whirl (literally)...

 

More (and better) to come I am sure.

Chris

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose"
     -- Dr Seuss

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Brew Screws and Compounding Math

Victory! The newly installed
Brew Screw in action.
Tonight under the cover of darkness we would do some multiplication and we would screw a pedal into The Beer Tree. But first we had to get out of the parking lot which was proving to be a challenge. We were already two riders down, and both of these riders were centerpieces of tonight's ride. They were night riding newbies. Even better, for one of them it would have been his first time in clipless pedals. But they were last minute scratches due to a light failure (rider #1) and a logistical snafu (rider #2).

So we were down to six riders, clipped in and rolling into the darkness, when ChrisR quipped "wait, i have to take care of something" and abruptly turned back to the parking lot. How that something wasn't taken care of earlier we will never know, but it was promptly dispatched and we were rolling again into the darkness to do our math and to screw a pedal into a tree.

Bryan's dentist had no idea that a few short
hours after his root canal he would be
clipped into The Beer Tree serving
microbrews off the bottom of his foot.
The trails were dry and the lead-out single speeders were throwing up a lot of dust. With a light on my head it looked like I was riding through a thick fog. The narrow bridges and twisty single track all looked a little narrower and twisty-er in the dark and the gazillion-lumen light on MikeM's head (behind me) cast shadows on the trail ahead. Night riding turns familiar trails into unfamiliar trails and makes everything feel just a little riskier (probably because it is). It also feels just a little bit illicit which is articulated so well in this brilliant blog post about why night riding is like hotel sex.

A couple hours earlier Bryan was speaking with his dentist about his après root-canal evening plan. to ride a mountain bike in the woods at night. She said he was medically cleared but that his plans sounded dubious. She didn't know the plans also involved a stop a The Beer Tree where we'd do some compounding math by introducing another risk fun factor (beer) into our already complex equation of fun = riding bikes * in the woods * at night.

The Brew Screw newly installed on
The Beer Tree under cover of darkness
All singletrack eventually leads to The Beer Tree and tonight was no exception. After a CCW spin around The Double Bonus Loop we found ourselves in the warm embrace of The Beer Tree and what would be a special night for many reasons:
  1. Mark singing the Lowenbrau jingle ("Here’s to good friends, tonight is kind of special. So tonight, tonight, let it be Löwenbräu")
  2. Our first field install of The Brew Screw.
  3. Bryan clipping himself into The Beer Tree because... well... because now he could.
Around 10:00 pm we put our cold wet sweaty gear back on and saddled up for some more drinking beer riding bikes * in the woods * at night. Three riders headed to almost certain disaster on the new yet-to-be-named trail in The Forbidden Lands and the rest of us headed back to the parking lot, showers, and in my case half a pint of Ben and Jerry's "That's My Jam Core" ice cream.

What a great ride. Kinda special.

Chris

"Wait, i have to take care of something"
     -- ChrisR

Friday, July 18, 2014

Brew Screw

We've sunk to new lows and we think you should too.

Introducing the Brew Screw.

For about the cost of a six pack of craft beer you can convert your old SPD pedals into a nifty conversation piece and bottle opener with which to open that six pack of craft beers. If that circular reasoning is not enough to convince you, then you should also consider that:
  1. Repurposing your pedals is green in that "not actually green but makes me feel good about myself" sort of way.
  2. It is a definite conversation starter because people are still confused when they see a pedal screwed into the side of a tree.
  3. It was hand made by mountain bikers in a garage while drinking beer (more of that circular reasoning).
We recognize these are lofty claims so we produced the following video documenting the successful use of the first Brew Screw that came out of the garage off the assembly line.

video

We're a small operation and supplies are somewhat limited BUT we still haven't burned down the garage and we have plenty of beer so rest assured we'll be cranking these puppies out and hawking them on eBay as fast as we can.

If you have questions or comments or would like to pre-order, please shoot us a note at BrewScrew@hotmail.com.

Thank you for your support of this questionable endeavor.

Chris

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fiver

Kirk reconnoitering
"The Contraption"
"Kind of like White Clay" is what Bryan told us. But it's small and it's a bit of a haul (1 hour 20 minute drive from Lyndenwood) so it never quite made it into the weekend rotation. Finally this weekend with an appetite for an early 8:00am start, we made the trek to Trexlertown.
Tangent: "Early" start you say? Well yes because there are a lot dominoes that have to fall before a morning ride. The first domino is coffee and the forth or fifth domino is the 80 minute drive, but the problem is the approximately 20 minute delay between domino one and domino two. And you can't skip domino two. In my case, this game of dominoes translated into a 5:00 am alarm for me personally. 
The drive into the preserve reminded my of my rides in Wyoming and California. Small steep ravines, open vistas. The weather didn't hurt either (low 80s, dry air, blue sky, brilliant sunshine).

We saddled up, dove into the single track, and after a short climb (which, yes, could have been mistaken for White Clay) we were treated to some downhill flow like I've never seen on in SEPA (but did see in The Kingdom last year). Huge bermed diving turns one after another. Real table tops. Big pump-worthy rollers. Perfect flow through dense green cover mixed with excellent views. Most of the trails are directional - the downs obviously good for only one thing and the ups were deceptively gentle with lots of tight switchbacks that got us back to the top with seemingly no effort.

There were also a few miles of trails bench cut into the side of the various ravines. Fast and again expertly designed. There were also plenty of stunts in a small skills park as well as "The Contraption" (a compact collection of skinnies and ramps with at least a 6' drop on one side). We ogled but did not ride it although I think the wheels were turning in Kirk's head.

They've packed an incredible amount of fun into a small space here. It felt like about noon when Bryan told us it was 9:30. We were all giddy and couldn't believe we'd only been riding for an hour. So we rode another hour. And then we rode some more.

Thanks Bryan for your persistence. T-Town is definitely on the rotation now and I will have some super-sweet dreams tonight.

Chris

"Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for one more ride."
     -- Unknown

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Isn't it just awesome when self-evident truths are confirmed through rigorous application of the scientific method?

I just (tried to) read a 2014 study from Royal Society Publishing titled "A relationship between attractiveness and performance in professional cyclists." About half way through the introduction my eyes glazed over and I skimmed to the findings to find that "the top 10 percent of cyclists is about 25 percent more attractive than the lowest 10 percent." Now for the ten people reading this blog post right now, this is fantastic news for one of you and not so great news for another one of you.

However the nine of you who are feeling varying degrees of disappointment may find some comfort in another study - this one conducted by scientists at Mindlab - that found "cyclists are considered to be 13 per cent more intelligent and ‘cooler’ than other people." Now this sounds like something we can all get behind, especially since the research was focused solely on roadies so a conservative 25% adjustment (3.25 percentage points) would raise that to just over 16% for mountain bikers. Who can argue with that adjustment? Certainly neither of these two roadies having an apparent argument during the 1995 Vuelta Espana:


Below are links to the two studies. Actually one appears to be a study and the other is just a self-promoting article from a British website and a picture of Bradley Wiggins sitting on a throne.

I will sleep well tonight.

Chris

"Chicks dig the dirty ones"
     -- Unknown



Reaction


Sunday was Evansburg State Park, a rugged "executive nine" of mountain bike trails near Collegeville. "Executive nine" because it is a short 5 miles (10 miles if you ride it forward and backward according to Mike, his math seams reasonable to me). Rugged because it hasn't been dumbed-down like more popular trail systems in our area. Log-overs, rock gardens, a couple of rough cut ramps and causeways, tight twisty obstructed-view single track, and an ample supply of death cookies on the punchy uphills and one particularly puckery downhill.

Duff hosted the post-ride debrief on his back deck, pouring some fine session ales while Carlos licked the blood and sweat off our legs (he was busy).

I was reminded how awesome it is to ride somewhere for the first time. It forces you to deal with what is coming at you. It forces you to react instead of prepare and it makes you a better rider. I see more road trips in our future.

Chris

“Like dogs, bicycles are social catalysts that attract a superior category of people” 
     -- Chip Brown

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Classic

Long shot of the peloton racing down Main Street. 
A parking spot on Main Street, breakfast outside at Winnie's Le Bus, and all the excitement of a professional cycling race rushing by table side. Twenty-minute laps left just enough time to do some people watching and hit the local bike shops before the peloton and the ridiculous parade of support vehicles races through town again. 

There is nothing quite like the spectacle of a cycling event. Yes, even a "roadie" event like the 2014 Philly Cycling Classic

Next year maybe I'll enter the morning amateur race with my fat bike. Turn a few heads grinding up The Wall.

Chris

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wear and Tear

After 3+ hours of riding at Fair Hill we were showing a little wear and tear but not as much as this stream crossing in the Fox Pen.

Kudos to Andy for leading the way on his single speed, and to Bryan for turning those monster 5" tires for almost twenty miles of rocky and rooty single track. It was a BIG ride and a fitting kickoff to another season of summer single track.

Chris

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Circle of Life

From this evening's pre-dinner ride.

A reminder of the circle of life and the long hard winter we endured.

Now, what's for dinner?

Chris

“A bicycle does get you there and more And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun.”

-- Unknown

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Donkey Never Stood a Chance

Click me. Photo sequence capturing some sort of sacred shamanistic rite. Obviously.
The 2nd annual Cinco de Mayo Friday Happy Hour Ride was neither. It was Dos de Mayo and the "ride" was an express gravel grinder direct to The Beer Tree.

Well almost.

Add caption
We somehow managed to fit the skinny 70' swamp bridge into our ride. This was particularly interesting for me personally with a large pinata bungy-corded to my handlebars. I could not see two feet in front of my front wheel. This made the bridge more interesting than usual (which is saying something). I suspect it was also interesting for Mike (with a teak coffee table strapped to his back) and Kirk (with 24 pounds of Modelo in his backpack). Yes, you had to be there.

Once to the hallowed grounds of The Beer Tree we wasted no time. Within minutes our favorite friday hangout was festooned with a wanted poster of the much feared El Cinamino, Mexican flags were flying, the (in)appropriately stereotypical el mariachi music was playing, and a pinata was swaying too and fro over the trail.

The crowd continued to grow. The guacamole and chips came out. The camp stove was fired up and the sweet smells of simmering hot dogs taco meat filled the air. Mustaches sprouted. A cactus took root and swelled to six feet in a matter of minutes. More bikes and more people.

The much ballyhooed CdMFHHR was finally ON.

Add caption
Of course fans of high caloric pursuits tend to enjoy food. CdMFHHR featured an innovative menu included including guacamole lovingly prepared by senorita Wegman and hot dog tacos with fresh cabbage, barbecue sauce, and organic sour cream prepared onsite by our favorite mountain biking cocinero.

A few banditos stumbled into our festivities. We successfully wooed one with promises of a Modelo and a ride on a fat bike. A couple TBR racers working on their Strava KOM ratings dodged the pinata (and the Modelo) much to the disappointment of the crowd. Boo. And a trail runner so stunned by a Cinco de Mayo celebration occurring 3 days early took a header in the dirt on his way through.

The pinata competition may have been the crowd favorite. I won't attempt to describe it in words, instead I have cobbled together a short video that captures the unbridled spirit of this years competition.


I think I speak for everyone who was there when I say that the fun ended way too soon but thank God because of course we had to get ourselves home in one piece. Which we did.

Be sure to mark your 2014 calendar for Cinco de Mayo (on Uno de Mayo).

Chris

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I Like Open Bars

Rusty wheel-less Huffy inexplicably locked to a bike rack
in front of NYC Velo
The 30 minutes were almost up on our Citi Ride bikes, so we checked them into a lower Manhattan bike station. Maybe we'd find a bike shop, I sort of had in my head that I might buy a set of Surly Open Bars if I could find a decent price. I had a hard time swallowing the $60 online price so figured I might at least save on shipping.

At NYC Velo I asked the proprietor if they carried Surly.

"Yes" he replied.

"Would you happen to have any Open Bars" in stock" I asked. Fat chance.

"Yeah. As a matter of fact I do" and he produced a bundle of them from under the counter.

My pulse quickened. I didn't particularly want to lug a set of handlebars around Manhattan for the rest of the day, but what the heck. "How much" I asked, figuring the New York City markup would bring it close to $70.

"Twenty dollars" he said.

Holy shit. "I'll take it."

Fast forward to today when I rode The Double Bonus loop with the new bars installed. The bars are amazing. The substantial sweep puts my wrist in a natural position and the flexy steel takes the sting out of the full rigid ride. Combined with the fact that I have recently figured out how to tune the "self-steering" out of those Vee Rubber Mission tires (it's totally a tire pressure thing), the bike is starting to get dialed-in.  It's closer to an eleven. The wrist doesn't hurt. The bike rails turns without any inkling of self steering.

But before you run over to NYC Velo for your $20 Open Bars, be advised that it's a 25.4mm diameter (not 31.8mm like most mountain bars) so you'll need a different stem. I pulled one off Sara's bike. It's heavy and has more rise than I would like, but it will keep me going until I can find the one I want.

Remaining upgrades for the fat bike:

  • Replace large ring with a bash guard (convert from 3x9 to 2x9)
  • Lighter tubes (saves like a pound of rotating mass)
  • "Hog out" the rims (Rob's words)
  • Change calipers to BB7 (no rush)
  • Remove the dork disk

Chris

"It won't make you ride better, it will make you ride more, and that will make you ride better."
     -- Nippleworks ad

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spare Square

So today I rushed home early after work so I could go running with my favorite distance runner. Well, actually, she would do the running and I would be riding but the point is we'd be doing it together.

We decided to ride from The Cheater Lot so I could show her some new trails. My plan was to ride ahead, stopping at each intersection to wait for her and point her in the right direction. It turned out I did not have to do much waiting, because she was pretty much on my tail until the mid-point.

This is where the story actually starts.

I was waiting at an intersection, a little surprised that she wasn't still on my wheel. It was at the top of a good climb and while I definitely have the advantage on downhills, on uphills she had been right there with me. After a minute I doubled back only to find her in some distress.

I will spare you the details, but suffice to say she was "relieved" that I came prepared with some emergency "paper supplies" in my backpack for just this sort of emergency. And best of all, we now have a another named section of single track, aptly dubbed "Turn Number Two."

Chris

"Can you spare a square?"
     -- Elaine Benes

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Just About Perfect

The air was warm and silky. The dirt was smooth, fast, and tacky. Twenty of us rode for almost three hours at a good pace. Fast enough for an occasional burn, but slow enough to avoid any risk of a season opening blow-up. It was a long steady draw-down of the tank. EXACTLY what I needed to clear the cobwebs from a tough winter.

Watching the train of bikes ahead, snaking through the woods, was sublime. It was one continuous train, with each bike hooked to the one in front by an imaginary bungee cord gently pulling each rider along. The bungee cord was made by mother nature from the love of riding. It was perfect.

That's not my knee, that's where the top
tube smashed the inside of my tibia.
Well, almost. I rolled up behind a pileup in the chunnel and chose a bad line (there were no good ones left). Thankfully there was about a foot of water running through the culvert so as my tire slid out on the slimy algae coated metal sidewall of the culvert, my left pedal was filleting open my shin and the top tube was smashing the inside of my tibia and my leg was bathed in refreshing bacteria-infested farm runoff.

Back in the lot after the ride, Susan hit me with some sort of disinfecting spray. She said it was "for kids." The irony of that was not lost on me and I wouldn't have it any other way. "Perfect" I said.

Every year we have one of these rides. You never know when or where it's going to happen. But it's the first perfect ride of the year, and you know there is a full riding season of them ahead of you. And that is one pretty incredible feeling.

Chris

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Scene of the Crime

Scene of the crime, we will never be able
to look at that spot the same way again.
February 19 was the Chinese New Year, celebrated with parades and fireworks. April 11 was the local Mountain Biking New Year, celebrated with bikes and beer and jocularity and just a pinch of debauchery.

There is nothing like that first FHHR of the year, tying a bow on the workweek, welcoming the weekend, and looking forward to the months of Fridays to come.

Chris


Friday, March 21, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fit for Duty

Great news. As I predicted last week the doctor rubber stamped me today saying the bone is officially healed. He said I'm a good radiologist and an even better healer but qualified the "fit for duty" part by saying something about needing to strengthen the atrophied tendons to avoid re-injury or some such nonsense (Mom I'm just kidding). Weight bearing starts with the therapist next week.

I did treat myself to a fat-bike-road-ride when I got home so I could assess my fitness (I have none) and my wrist (it doesn't like bumps or the flat bar).

A couple other observations:

  • My right hand is pasty white and the skin is softer than a baby's bottom. It is really weird when I rub my hands together, because one hand feels soft and smooth and the other hand feels rough and leathery. That's how it feels and it is really weird. 
  • There is nothing quite like immobilizing your wrist in an anatomically neutral position for two months then going for a short ride to show you how anatomically incorrect flat bars are. I see some risers or maybe Marys in my future.

With the spring equinox just two days away I cannot over-emphasize how incredibly awesome this news is.

Chris

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Declaration

I went for CT scan today and came home with a gazillion images on CD. I have carefully reviewed all of them and concluded that I am fully healed, so I am declaring myself fit for duty. Next week I will see the doctor for his rubber stamp. Looking good, the fat bike will get dirty soon.

Chris

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I'm Getting Fat

The dark days of winter always mean weight gain and conditioning loss. This year's record snowfall has accelerated the decline and this broken wrist has dashed any hopes of even slightly bending the curve. But of course I can still drink beer (and I have found a limited supply of my new favorite Limbo IPA) so my spirits are high but it's bending the curve even further in the wrong direction. 

So I've had a few Limbos. I've cleaned and lubed the bikes twice since January 17th. I'm replacing the fork on the Inbred SS but that is a story I will save for another day. And today I am officially announcing that I am lazy, I am soft, and yes I am fat.

Yes, fat. 

So imagine my surprise this morning when my girls rolled out my birthday present. It was in a big box that looked suspiciously like a bicycle shipping container and on the side was printed "Part Number NB-BFAT" and all I saw was blah-blah-dash-blah-FAT

Yep, I am now the proud owner of a spanking new fat bike (or as Ruth would say, "clown" bike)! This XL porker weighed in at 38lbs with pedals (tubeless conversion, drilling the rims, and replacing the seat and post may drop that closer to 35). The steep head tube makes for amazing slow speed handling (in my living room at least) and the olive drab paint job is bad ass!  

Thank you ladies for making me glad to be fat. 

Chris

"I have too many bikes
     -- said by no cyclist ever

Monday, February 10, 2014

Unveiled


Corina asked "are you ready for the 'grand unveiling?'"

After ten days in those bandages with a useless club for a hand I was definitely ready. "Yes." And a minute later it was unveiled. What I found was a series of pleasant surprises:

  1. The incision was pretty small. I will never know how he managed to get in there with the pin, k-wire, screw, and a cordless drill. I suspect there was some stretching involved.
  2. The screw placement is pretty good on the x-ray, right through the core of the navicular. 
  3. I can now wash my right hand.
  4. I am back in the custom spica splint, but four times a day I take it off and do some therapy. Nothing terribly ambitious - wrist bends and touching my thumb to my pinkie -  but at least now I can do something.
Also lots of good material in the Rider Down forum on mtbr.com. Great advice for wrist (and other) injuries but more importantly a reminder that there are a LOT of people who are battling back from injuries and illnesses much worse that a busted wrist. MUCH worse, not even close.

Both sobering and inspiring.

Chris

"If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you're lucky enough."
     -- Unknown

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Plan


Cool composite image from today's
computed tomography (CT) scan.
Navicular fracture circled in red.
Today I went to the Exton Mall for my CT scan. Main Line Health has just opened a snazzy facility right in between Victoria's Secret and Radio Shack. It is a little weird and a lot genius. Check in, grab a latte at Saxby's coffee, get your CT scan, and grab a pair of socks at Macy's on your way back to the car.

The CT scan confirmed a break all the way through but non-displaced which is good, but still looks like I'll get that titanium I've always wanted. I was thinking ti bike frame but will have to settle for a ti surgical screw. I will get my titanium on Monday followed by 6-8 weeks immobilized in a splint then (hopefully) saddle up and begin training for The Tour duh on May 10.

At least now I have a plan.

Chris

"Safe biking is no accident"
     -- unknown

Torture

Business Plan took up the entire
back of the beer menu. So YES
Bryan we did pick up a pencil!

Yesterday I tortured myself by:
  • Buying a new Reba fork from Merlin Cycles dot com for $276. That's a really  great price for a fork that I can't install on a bike that I can't ride.
  • Meeting some fellow bike riders at Victory so we could start developing our business plan for "The Tour duh"
At the same time, I saved myself some pain (and a lot of one fingered typing) by stealing Mark's email summary for my blog post. I think he wrote it in the form of a list to make it easier for us to grasp (short attention spans):
  1. Corinne will be our waitress moving forward.
  2. MR now knows what FW means...again.
  3. The "happening" beer is Dirt Wolf.
  4. Next time go with the salesman, we are MTB racers.
  5. Free alcohol from the table next to you is good.
  6. Our enthusiasm for all things Cranston related is very much alive and can bring everyone off topic instantly. Special thanks to Chris R for this.
  7. We are a tall group...well most of us.
  8. Guest Blogger and future
    Baja 1000 winner
  9. Oh, we did agree on the date. The Tour Duh is slated for May 10 @ 9am. This means FW around 7:30 am.

Cinco

"You guys are so funny. I thought you were short."
     -- our favorite waitress

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Clairvoyant

This is the third time I have posted an x-ray
on this blog. I think three is plenty. 
For the record, yesterday afternoon I made the following predictions about the impending Friday Happy Hour Ride and what might happen when we enter a drinking establishment clad in muddy sweaty bicycle clothes:.
  1. At Chelsy's it is awkward initially but by the time we leave everyone is asking when we'll be back (this is based on first hand experience).
  2. At Crossroads it is antagonistic and it ends very badly. We leave violently out the side door, one person goes to the hospital in an ambulance with sirens blaring.
  3. At Station Taproom a couple hipster beer snobs put down their calamari long enough to roll their eyes behind their nerd geek retro eyeglasses but that's about it. Nobody notices when we leave.
The awesome thing is that all of these places are within a half mile of each other, we can make a game time decision on which experience we want to blog about tomorrow.

Looking back I'd say Clairvoyant is not too strong a word to describe these predictions. Let's examine them one at a time to see if you agree:

Prediction #3 - pretty much spot on except instead of fried calamari it was hand cut fries seasoned with black truffle infused sea salt. But the nerd references were pretty spot on and I have to say the craft beers were excellent.

Prediction #1 - again pretty much spot on except we were a little disappointed that some of the original artwork is now obscured by an obnoxious duck hunt video game. 

Prediction #2. No we did not stop at Crossroads which is probably a good thing but the remainder of the night did have some uncanny parallels to the "goes to the hospital" part of this prediction. It started with a track stand held 1-2 seconds too long and devolved into one of those classic "I'm falling over and I'm clipped in and it's really gonna hurt" situations. And yes it did hurt but honestly it seemed like one of those "I'm gonna feel that in the morning" hurts. Not one of those "go to the local clinic in the morning to learn you've fractured your navicular (wrist) and ulna (forearm)" hurts. 

We somehow finished our 5 mile ride home complete with the traditional derby race to the base of the dam (I think Mike and I tied).

It's not easy being Clairvoyant.

Chris

You do something stupid, you gotta act like it didn't hurt"
     -- unknown

Friday, January 3, 2014

I am not so I won't

If I were superstitious I would keep this to myself for fear of jinxing it.

But I am not so I won't.

With a touch of rain, a lot of cold, and a little luck the east coast could have some out-of-this-world riding on Monday night (see infographic). We're talking east coast slick rock. Grip like velcro. Mountain biking unconstrained by trails. The last time we had this kind of riding was in 2007 and it was just awesome. Anyone who experienced those rides in '07 knows what I am talking about.

So yeah, a lot of stars need to align for this to happen, but they seem to be moving in generally the right direction and if they do align YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS IT so be sure your lights are charged and your long undies are ironed because you may need them Monday night.

Chris