Thursday, September 28, 2006

A good week...

Two good rides happened this week. I rode cross bikes with Nate and Dan on Tuesday and singlespeed bikes with Nate and Dan on Thursday. Both were very good rides; Iceman training is in full effect.

On Tuesday, we had an interesting experience. When I arrived at Nate's to start the ride, there was a large trailer parked in the back yard filled with 4.5 cubic yards of wood chips. Nate mentioned that he had to spread those chips around the kids' swingset before he could go to bed for the night. We rode cross bikes for an hour, until Dan realized he had lost 3 of his 5 chainring bolts! We went back to Nate's so Dan could scrounge some bolts to get his bike working again. As he was doing that, Nate and I...Shoveled wood chips! There we were, fully-clad in spandex and helmet lights with shovels and rakes laying down the chips; it was a hoot! Dan took some pictures, which I will post if they turn out. We then hit the road for another hour of riding.

I was on Dan's singlespeed Cross-Check. It was a nice ride; stiff where necessary but smooth over the bumps. It had a fairly serious gear on, so I suffered. Dan and Nate are both wicked fast on the cross bike, and they were on geared DD-X frames from Slingshot. I was butt-deep in the hurt locker most of the night.

Thursday I was late for the single speed ride. I met up with the guys after they had already put in at least an hour of hard riding. We met up at the parking lot of Cannonsburg Ski Area, and proceeded to head over to ride a section of trail that is not quite open to bikes. (Note: It was not Egypt Valley...) Anyway, we took a new route to this trail. This new route went up a killer hill. Fun was had by all. I felt great, in part because I had plenty of pasta the night before and slept for a full eight hours. I still suffered some on the climbs, but all in all I felt pretty good.

Why was I late for the ride? Well, I had to visit this guy. I gave him some money, and he is going to build me one of these. Mine will have singlespeed paragon dropouts and won't be green; can you guess what color it *will* be?

"So Joe", you might be thinking, "I thought you were about to become unemployed? What's with the fancy new bike?" Well, it turns out that I accepted a job offer today. I won't go into too many details, but suffice it to say that I am very exited about my new job. And now I can get a new bike and I will complete three races before the end of the season; here, here and of course here. I wish they were endurance races, but I will settle for cross country at this point. I am very psyched to race. I am also psyched that my new bike just might be here for Iceman; I'll keep you posted.

That's it for now. I plan to race the Kiss Cross race this weekend. I'll be rideing my main singlespeed bike for this one. Chances are pretty good that I will have an actual cross bike of my own for the next cross ride. Once again, stay tuned for details...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Park to Park

We bailed on the Tripple Trail Challenge, as the weather was sketchy and it was unclear if the ride would be held at all. So we decided to go ride the North County Trail instead.

The North Country Trail ride was called off due Bummer.

Instead, Dan Jansen and I did a four+ hour cross bike ride. I borrowed his cross-check. It was a good ride, which we dubbed the "Park to Park Epic Ride". We rode from Riverside Park to Richmond Park to Nate's house to ride his mini-cross course. We picked up Nate and rode to John Ball Park and hiked up the uber-hill. We then jotted over to Highland Park to reprise last week's cross race. After that it was over to Manhattan Park to prep for the next Kiss Cross ride after a quick tour around Reed's Lake.

Good Times.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Good Training

I skipped the Tuesday cross ride. I had a meeting that I had been trying to set up for a month, and the only time the other person could meet was 5 PM on Tuesday. I did make it over to Nate's to help him and Dan assemble Nate's new singlespeed. Good times...

Last night was the Thursday Night secret trail ride. Scott, Nate, me and a new guy named Joe threw the hammer down a bit. Nate and I were on singlespeeds (with big Iceman gears) and the other two riders were on geared bikes. The new guy had a pretty weak light, and had lost his mtb shoes (!) and was riding with road shoes and pedals (!!). The secret trails have quite a few spots where it is necessary to dab or run up loose, sandy hills. Needless to say, he had troubles with equipment. However, he seemed like a strong rider and kept a good attitude threw it all.

The ride as about two hours. I don't know if the ride was slower or if I was faster, but I was able to hang pretty well. Last week I was shelled out the back and had a rough night.

Today I took the day off work to do some errands and pack for the trip to Poto for the Triple Trail challenge. Dan and I (and maybe the new guy Joe) will head over there this afternoon for a quick preride tonight. Then we will hammer the 50 miles tomorrow, hang out for the party, and then get a quick ride in Sunday morning as well. There has also been some talk about a night ride.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cross Pictures

I can't seem to find me digital camera, so I had to swipe these from here. It sure looks like I was giving it my all; too bad the speed didn't match the grimace.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

All Crossed up at Kiss Cross

Today was the first real cross race of the season. I had my singlespeed set up with 1.7 tires, but Jason Mead set me up with his Jake the Snake while he rode his DDX. This was my second ride on a real cross bike, and my first race on a real cross bike.

I did less well than I would have liked. I did the 'A' race, and had no intention of running with the lead group. There were some real fast guys at this race, and even some of the fast locals ended up getting lapped. The Snake was a fun bike to ride, but I really need to get my own bike. The reach was a bit short, the wheels a bit heavy, but what the heck; it's somebody's backup bike. I was glad for the opportunity to ride it. I finished near the back of the pack.

Lots of riding this week. Cross training on Tuesday, super-secret trail riding on Thursday. Triple Trail Challenge on Saturday, with some Poto riding Friday and Sunday. Got to get in shape for Iceman...

Friday, September 15, 2006

What's up?

No ride on Tuesday; it was wet and cold, people had to work late, and [insert excuse here].

Scott, Dan and I rode MTB's last night. We rode a bunch of trails around Egypt Valley State Game Area. Most of these trails were new to me, and it got dark just as we got to the tricky stuff. Lots of under-used trails with logs, short and steep hills, off-camber high-speed stuff; fun to ride, but I was perhaps a bit over-geared. This will become a weekly ride.

First cross race of the season is Sunday. I still don't have a cross bike, so I will either skip this one or use the MTB. Next weekend is the Triple Trail Challenge, a ride on the east side of the state. This will involve tents, cook-fires and lots of hard riding. Good Stuff! Perhaps I will bring...a camera?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mother Nature and Psycocross Baptism

I did a four-hour ride on the singlespeed yesterday. The forecast included a chance for rain, so I packed a rain jacket.

Just before my turn-around point, it started to sprinkle. Just after I turned around, it started to rain in ernest. I decided to push on through. Then, the brightest flash of lightning and loudest crash of thunder I have EVER heard exploded somewhere just over my head. The rain was coming down in buckets. I pulled over to put on my jacket and take off my glasses. Did I mention it was about 8pm, and dark. I was sporting LED and HID lights, but the rain and clouds combined to make vision an issue. After a few more crashes of thunder, the rain eased off a bit and eventually stopped.

Although the rain had ended, I could see lightning off in the distance. I put the hammer down to get home before the next cell rolled through. No such luck. More thunder, lightning and rain as I hit the one hour to go mark. I saw a couple of people sitting under an overpass, and I decided to stop and make sure they didn't need any help. This couple was in t-shirts and shorts, no helmets and no lights; something I see every day. However, in this case it turned out to be Neil Scharphorn and his wife! We hung out and talked until the rain let up. They I guided them back to their car.

I got home, ate some food, and went to sleep.

Woke up this morning to find that I had no electricity. I went out for breakfast--I knew I'd need the fuel for the Kiss Cross kick-off ride. I got to the start location an hour early, because I need to help set up the Slingshot DD-X I would be using for this ride. What a sweet bike! It was light and stable. It smoothed out the stutter bumps. It climbed like a champ--what more can I say? It was a very fun and effective bike, and one that I plan to add to my quiver as soon as the job situation gets resolved.

A bunch of people showed up for this ride, a couple dozen at least. Dan Jansen, Nate Versluis, Danielle Musto, Russ Tiles, half of the Priority Health road team; it was a who's who of Michigan racing. One guy in particular I was happy to see. We had a nice chat about steel, ti, Paragon drop-outs and the like. Are my days of using a converted singlespeed frame nearing an end? Could be...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Quick Update

A busy week, with a wee bit of riding thrown in. Spent the weekend in Chicago, where I saw more 'core singlespeed road bikes than you could shake a stick at. I'm talking about old-skool, mid-'70s, slotted drops, flopped-and-chopped bars and aluminum toe-clips. I saw very few pre-packaged track bikes. Pretty cool stuff. This was mostly in Wicker Park, by the way. No bikes on Michigan Ave, thank you very much.

Anyway, the trip was good, but no riding was done. I think I rode some on Monday, but I don't remember exactly. Great ride with the team on Tuesday. Dan (National Endurance Series SingleSpeed Champion) Jansen came out, as did Nate, and Jason. Scot and Danielle showed up for pizza and beer after, but were absent from the ride. Good Times.

Did a little spinning around tonight, but have serious miles on tap for the next two weeks.

Also, things are happening with the job search. Nothing to report yet, but perhaps soon. Stay tuned...

Friday, September 01, 2006

People need to chill...

This is just...silly.

First, the 'Snob is a stand-up guy.

Second, anyone that races endurance events knows that you can't race a frame that is damaged. After training for months and spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to do a race, you have to have perfect faith in your equipment. Suggesting that someone ride the frame until it breaks shows a lack of understanding regarding what goes into getting ready for and completing an endurance race.

Third, if the frame shipped out of alignment, then Niner needs to make it right. If the frame was knocked out of alignment during less than a year of normal use, I would argue that Niner needs to make that right as well. You may disagree, and that is fine. I guess I hold companies that I respect to a higher standard.

Finally, it is my guess is that Niner is going to take care of the 'Snob. I believe that that are a company that stands behind their product.

Just my $.02.

Three Days, 300 Miles

I had a brainstorm last night. Becky will be out of town next weekend, and I will have some time ride my bike. I'm thinking that I will do 100 mile night ride on Friday on the White Pine Trail, 100 mile road ride to Holland on Saturday and cap it all off with a 100 mile road ride to Grand Haven on Sunday.

I need to practice my night riding. I figure it will be dark for three or four hours of the Friday ride. The road riding is just for the heck of it.

Three days, 300 miles. It's like a slow-motion TI, but with road bikes thrown in....