6.29.2004

this afternoon my boss let me off a few minutes early....I love when that happens
and honestly...my boss is pretty cool and it happens fairly often, although not often enough, yet still often.
so what do I do with a few extra minutes before Lisa gets home from picking up Dean from school after a her full days work?
well there is the deck project...
the basement is a mess....
that side project for the business cards....
yard work, okay now I am getting silly
yes, you guessed it
I went for a ride
it was not even quarter of 5 and I was already suited up and peddling down M Street into Georgetown
unsure of my path I weighed my options...
M Street to Key Bridge? over the Potomac and onto the Mt Vernon trail towards the airport? (the trail itself goes to George Washington's house, he is not home, but it is a nice ride along the river, passing Bell Haven Marina where Bennett and I use to kayak and swim on summer nights at sunset after we closed the Big Wheel shop in Old Town Alexandria)
or drop down to the C&O canal towards Cumberland? it is a hundred and eighty-six miles, I did it in a day....it rained..it sucked...but I did it
but not sure if it will happen again...it was one of the worst sensations of my life...and dreadfully boring at times (the rain and mud made it ultra painful)
or ride with the commuters on the Capitol crescent trail towards Bethesda?
okay...I am on the Karate Monkey single speed
none of those stated options appeal to me
so I turn up 28th street passing my friend Andrew's childhood home above Shiffely's Market, then on up to Dumbarton Oaks, pass the cemetry, down the brick path, past a few sun bathers in bikinis, and into the woods along side of the gardens
yes I know bikes are not on the guest list
it is early...people are still at work
it is dry
and I am friendly and full of smiles
okay, I will not justify it...no one asks the car driver to justify their ignoring that the speed limit sign says 25 MPH
okay, I am not trying to rationalize my skoff law ways
the car modifies that law that says that no car should go over 25
and I modify that law that says no bike should go down this path
I will break this law courtesously and without putting anyone at risk, well no one else but myself
the greenery has grown since the last time I was in here
the path is beaten and clear
but the grass is high
not the pleasure of a frozen winter day, but the bikinis make up for it
I do a loop through one section, I do not encounter any hikers (bikers/horses/police/workers/kids/....anone for that matter)
after that loop I shoot towards a winding climb, but I can see a women with a newborn in a baby bjorn so I opt to take a less familiar trail
giving her space
as I climb there are logs and obstacles I can not clear
I dismount
remount
dismount
remount
several times
then once back on the bike with a little rhythm
and then I hit an off camber log and my bike slides out from under me
still in the clips I fall into the brush along side of the trail
a large stick the diameter of making a circle with your index finger with your thumb jams into my neck
slows my fall
luckily it is brittle enough to snap
amazing how strong the human neck is
I check
no blood
no piercing
sure there is pain
and almost a little panic
I am a little shaken up
with the sign of the cross I shake my head
thank god and thank my lucky stars
I could have been bleeding to death gasping for air
rolling on the ground and quoting Nancy Karrigan with "why me?,,,why me?,,,,why me?"
but instead I am back on my bike and rolling further up the hill
the trail ends at a small clearing with pile of trash
well, trash to you or me, but some bags, some long pieces of tin, and other random stuff
obviously the dream home of some homeless resident
must be male, as it is a work in progress
I turn the bike around and head back down the hill
again it is more dismount and remount, dismount and remount
then on the bike
and out of Dumbarton Oaks and right into Rock Creek
still on dirt
with more time before lisa and the crew will be home I continue to pedal
even with a sore neck I have a window of opportunity
so I use it
from the dirt path I am on a bike path
through a tunnel on the sidewalk
and then along side of the National Zoo
no time to see the pandas
especially since that is one no bikes sign that I can clearly see
then in moments I am up a curb and climbing a fireroad towards Klingle Mansion
a spot where DC's own Keystone Cops searched aimlessly for Chandra Levy's body
rather than going all the way to the mansion which is used as Department of Interior Park Services offices I turn down some single track and get back onto the bike path
a few minutes of spinning and I am on the bike path
and convinced that I am too tired and lacking the technical touch for the woods
as non-technical as they may be
opting not to climb the hills on ross road, not much of a hill, but up just the same
I head down Beach Drive
the single speed is not the machine of choice in traffic
even maxing this machine out I am going slow enough to force the cars to pass aggressively on these thin winding roads
a few miles into it
just past the Park Police office
I am tired of the commuter traffic passing me too close too fast
so I dip into the woods
not rationalizing things
just getting my wheels and my body to some place where I feel a tad safer
this trail is wide and smooth
sure it is just a path
but it is a dirt path without cars
I sprint through having to wheelie through a number of mud puddles
a mile or two of this same type of trail and I am headed up over water bars and getting closer to some roller coaster single track
the only other trail users I have encountered have been leashless dog walkers
again I am struggling with some technical spots and the climbs are more than I can muscle
I do a little rogue maintenacne
clear a fallen tree
and
try to add some logs to make a tall fallen log ridable
I try to test it
I crash as I tenatively raise my front wheel onto the first log
with no shame I turn my bike around
and start getting a rhythm on the dirt
I slow and stop for another leashless dog
this one did not chase me like the last two
rolling fast
I look forward to the two drop offs
the first drop off is sweet
the second is taken at such speed that I feel air around me
before my rear wheel touches down first
I zip up a side path and skretch to a halt before a fallen log too high to even dream about clearing
as I disount I glance at my watch
and plot my course for home
back out of the single track
onto the wide smooth flat fire road
veto the option to take the alternate single track back
and get back onto the road
it is more of the same
battling the commuter car traffic
so many cars passing so fast and so close
some on cell phones others trying to teach me a lesson and still others too stupid to know that they are putting my life at risk while others still just don't care
up Park Road and heading home
as I pass my own house
cars pass me
still too close and too fast
my ride never ends at my house
I take my bike around back
and I always take my bike to the top of the hill
since I do not ride often or long enough
I try not to cheat myself of this hill
sometimes I do it several times before I put the bike into the basement
I get home
and hang with lisa grant and dean
plug the iPod into the auxilary slot
and before I know it Lisa and Dean are dancing in the center of the room
it was fun
I hike the dogs
we order some thai food
lev comes over to fix the dinning room light
I finish that business card job
put the last of my laundry into the wash
blow off recharging my light
pour myself a glass of Absynthe
and turn on the tube and start to blog

but I think I had another objective
this blog may not have circled to the point i was seeking
the intro becmae the full tale
Blogathon 2003

Funny stuff....It would seem that 24 hour events are not just for Mountainbikers!
BLOGGERS are doing it too!
maybe there are 24 Hour Bowling events too!
I have also heard of 48 hour Indy Film Competitions....
I love the 24 hour format...
but for me it has always been about biking or partying!

6.28.2004

GWADZILLA AT SNOWSHOE!

IMAGES

this is on brian's mac page
click on the first image and it will open a slide show
then scroll on through to see all the glory that is the podium at Snowshoe
(if you listen closely you can hear fully loaded cars and trucks squealing wheels as they pull out of the parking lot thus leaving the ceremony for those receiving the awards,and only first and second place were on raised platforms...third in all classes stood at the same level at the deck)

in hindsight I am not sure if I fully appreciated the moment
it is pretty cool
our team was solid and we finished strong
there were those that were faster
there were even more who were slower

I would have to say that I am curious about the future of Granny Gear in West Virginia
Laird is crazy loyal to that state
he may be leaving Snowshoe resort, but he will never leave West Va

((if you bother to look at the images you will get a kick out of me in the shot where all the racers raise their arms and cheer....the cycling apparel is less than flattering to my Clydesdale build...my gut rolling right out))
Back from Snowshoe!
Race Reports and anecdotes to come, first I have to let the dust settle, or in this case let the mud dry before the event is clear in my head.

Gwadzilla Results



In short....
It was a classic Granny Gear Snowshoe event...
Well put together with no control over what Mother Nature has to deliver. Seems that Laird Knight may have pissed her off some time ago as she has rained on 10 of is 13 West Virginia 24 hour events in the past 13 years. Although it did not race during the race time itself, it did rain violently the Thursday before the Saturday noon time race start. This year I left my class of choice, Clydesdale, to race with my brother's Vet team (men 35+). It was a good group of guys; my brother marc, former City Bikes team captain and team founder Brian Kemler, the British Brain Dave Wotton, and myself. A good mixture of different personalities with very similar finishing times. The race was hard, there was a mixture of technical riding, long climbs, and long hike-a-bike sections. Too much hike-a-bike for anyone's tastes....deep mud....slick roots...and boulder size rocks....almost dangerous to move through on foot while carrying the bike. Each person independently said to themselves during their night laps that they would not be doing this race again. As for me, I was crossing my fingers that this race would not be held here again as I feared that I would race it out of some strange fear that I would feel like I was "pussing out!"

Check out the Results!
My Team's Results! Complete with laptimes etc.
We managed to get Third in Men's Vet and 17th overall. A finish that I was very pleased with. The winning Men's Vet team was also the top finishing team overall! Their efforts were nothing shy of impressive, yet perhaps not as impressive as the Solo Riders

The Clydesdale field was small....part of me was sad that I was not part of the Clydesdale competition....but I enjoyed racing with my brother's vet team more than I would have enjoyed


Laird Knight's bio in the Mountainbike Hall of Fame
there is no question that this man deserves some great credit for his contribution to the sport of mountainbiking
after my first Canaan many years ago the 24 Hour race format became part of my yearly objective, most other races had no appeal to me
Since that first Canaan I have also raced at Granny Gear 24 Hour events at Donner pass, Moab, the first Snowshoe event and now the last Snowshoe event
and if things go as planned
I will race next season at the new West Virginia venue and perhaps make a trip to the west coast venues again in the future!

6.25.2004

Off to Snowshoe....
I am out of bed, coffee is brewing, time to walk the dogs
while I walk the dogs I will run through a mental checklist of what I best not forget....
bikes...lights...many changes of cycling gear...several pairs of shoe...two helmets
it seems so easy!
all I need is multiples of what I would need to ride
but something vital can easily be overlooked
when the coffee finishes brewing and I take that first morning sip
then my mind will think more clearly
well
I am off...
wish me luck!
think dry!
and if your feel the need to know how the race is going for me and for others, Granny Gear has REAL TIME RESULTS

http://grannygear.com/Races/history_results.shtml

hope my bike and body hold up!
this is the equivelant of many races in one weekend
if it is dry I expect to do roughly 5 laps
which would be the basic equivelant of doing 5 races in 24 Hours!


6.23.2004

Absynthe and Gripe Water
When Dean was a baby, which seems like many lifetimes ago when it is actually days longer than three years, we delt with his pain, his discomfort, and his tears. Everyone but the doctors said that he had colic, I thought he was just hungry. One product that we found that had moderately good results was something called GRIPE WATER. It was a great little natural product....don't recall what it was...maybe pickle juice or something just as odd. But it was banned and unavailable most everywhere. We searched everywhere for it, even the stores in Chinatown that sell Elk Antlers and Tiger bones as afrodesiacs did not have this BANNED product. I ended up buying it from an Indian Market that had an online store that was based in London....then later we found the product in other similar markets in the states including the 'bodegas' in my neighborhood. No one knows why this product worked, but for us it was the Medicine Show! And the bottle itself had that Medicine Show feel. Seems that we often think that our cures rest in a bottle; whether it be for our baby or for our cars...head over to Track Auto and take a look. There is an isle at Track auto that has a bottle or a can that claims it can cure most any issue a car can have....flat tires....no problem.....knocking and pinging...easy.....leaky radiator...try isle 6.....the list is endless....
the sad reality....
The answers are not in these bottles. There is no resolve here. Perhaps a temporary solution, but definitely not a cure. Time and growth cured Dean's stomach pain.....not the Medicine Show. (but it did help him to calm down and stop crying)
Anise/Anis, Absynthe, and Wormwood
Last week my father and his wife (my step-mother, joyce) went out of town for a wedding. The timing was perfect, they needed someone to watch the dog and we wanted to use their swimming pool and backyard for Dean's 3rd birthday party. On one of the nights before the party I was spending the night there and watching their black lab, Max. Max and I had settled down for a DVD and I thought that if I was going to watch, "Blazing Saddles" I better have a beverage in front of me. The basement has a closet that has been modified into a liquor cabinet, a well stocked liquor cabinet. With the doors open wide the choices seemed endless. Without much thought I went with my initial inclination that a red wine would suit my mood best. So I grabbed a bottle or red, accessed the label, checked the year, and thought "Okay.....it is red...this will do." Went upstairs to grab and opener. Immediately things did not seem right. The cork was dry and crumbly, the bottle had been left in the upright position; the cork was damaged and the wine was ruined. I took a sip and poured the vinigar scented sediment filled bottle down the drain. Had I been camping this bottle would have suited fine, but I was in my parent's house in Bethesda, no need to rough it. Then back to the basement to grab another bottle of wine. As I opened the doors to the liquor cabinet my attention was drawn away from the wine to a few bottles at eye level...there right before my eyes was a bottle of Absynthe and a bottle of Anis. I grabbed the Anis and headed back upstairs for the right glass and a few cubes of ice.
I followed the mixture instructions loosely and poured a 1 to 5 mixture of Anis to Water with a few cubes of ice. The cloudy concoction was had a bold licorice flavor....smooth! It numbed my teeth. I had a few glasses and laughed my way through a Mel Brooks comedy that still has me questioning what makes that film a classic. I could appreciate that they really backed this movie with a budget and played it straight like it was a real western, but I did find the plot to be a tad thin. I killed the power and drifted off to sleep with a sense of satisfaction that I had finally seen the film classic Blazing Saddles in its entirety. No longer did I feel left out from all of those playground conversations in grade school where the children replayed their favorite scenes.
That night I had a very odd night of dreams. I may have drifted off to sleep before the effects of the alcohol wore off. What I drempt I can not recall, but I do recall that it was very disorienting to wake up in the dark basement of my parent's house. I glanced at my watch and discovered that I had failed in setting the alarm correctly. It was 8:30, an hour later than I had planned. Life is different without the sunlight and a 3 years old son to wake you up before 7 each morning. Rather than leaping out of bed in the classic Dagwood Bumstead panic I went ahead and accepted that I was going to be a tad late and got up and walked the dog.
It was interesting.....for as drunk as I got I was not in the least bit hung over.
This was the miracle drink. It was going to travel home with me.
Here it is a week later and I have nearly finished this bottle.
Today when Chinese carry out from Mei Wah was not ready I thought I would kill some time in the liquor store along side of the chinese restaurant. They did not have the Richard's Anis product I was looking for, they did have an Absynthe product I have tried before, but it is not Absynthe, just an Absynthe product, it does do the job, this package even came with a nifty Absynthe Spoon. I talked with the well informed sales people in the store and they assured me that such a product is illegal in the states and would not be found locally....
The long and the short of it....
good thing my dad has never been much of a drinker and will not miss this bottle
and
I better have him get me another bottle next time he is in France
cause I need to have some for backup the next time I want to have a special toast for a special occasion
an occasion more special then Blazing Saddles film in Technicolor

amendment: I have only been to that one liquor store in search of this product, but I am confident that there should be an assortment of Anis products and quasi-Absynthe products available in the states....but the real drinks derived from Wormwood.....that is what I seek and have yet to find.

6.22.2004

FRESH

very odd
very very odd
I had this beautiful little piece about reading to my son and blogging about bikes
it was stream of consciousness
oh well, the electronic world and its wonderful glitches washed it away.
in any case
I was checking out and catching up with the words and images (more images than usual all images worth a look and a reservoir of links well worth checking out)
after viewing a long list of thought provoking images I caught a glimpse of the links
and along side a link to me, gwadzilla, was the word FRESH!

with the attention drawn to me
I return the favor
check this out

VELORUTION

(although the link has been there all along under Bikes and Blogs)
so bikes and blogs equals http://velorution.blogspot.com/
Abusive Bosses...
Years ago I worked at Big Wheel Bikes.
It is an interesting shop, as all bike shops can be. But this one is a little different. The multi-shop owner Mike Sendar is a total character, and often a bit of an asshole. There is a NY TIMES ARTICLE that discusses research about such "bullying bosses" and also their second in command who adopts the same behavior, which in this case would be the Arlington Store manager, Mike. I worked for Sendar on and off again for a couple of years, it was like one of those late teens/early 20's dating relationships. You know the ones....the ones were the couple keeps falling back into the arms of the other, knowing that they do not want to be there, but feels that it is better to be with someone rather than to be alone and at least they are getting laid. Well, Big Wheel offered me that same similar security, except not in dating, but in the world of employment. Is that metaphor too flimsy for ya? Are you stuck on thinking that I was dating Mike Sendar? PLEEEAAAASSSE!
In any case...my time at Big Wheel was a colorful time. Not the most productive, but it had its flavor. I worked hard and did a good job, but kept getting slammed by the boss. Sort of like a big dumb labrador retriever who keeps bringing his master his slippers, only to be slammed upside the head with the newspaper on each approach. Then rather than biting the master or running away, this big dumb lab just stood there wagging his tail.

For those who don't know about Big Wheel Bikes, ask a friend....I am sure that someone has a story about being screwed by Big Wheel or having Sendar take their money and slam the door right in their face.
Funny thing....for those not in the bike world there is a similar book store in DC and the surrounding area, Second Story Books. This used book store employed all sorts of indy rockers for years and years long before there was even the term indy rockers. The employer treats his employees in a similar fashion and runs his stores in a similar manor....and Mike Sendar is this shop owners lawyer. Birds of a feather?

6.21.2004

perspective
explain why I am pissed (or is that pist?)

Several years ago, and this one is easier to estimate, some of the facts may be blurred or confused as life has gone through some changes. But it was the weekend before the wedding and this year was our fourth anniversary, well last year in October 2003, so that means 1999 I was in Moab Utah racing the granny gear 24 hour event out there. I was teamed up with a fireman from Idaho and a well traveled east coaster who had been out in california for so long that the east coast was almost all washed out of him....well almost. The fourth rider on our clydesdale team was the only racer I had not raced with before, well, had not raced with on the same team...as I met him in California at the 24 Hours of Donner Pass where we camped and raced along side of each other. This racer, Greg, had never been considered as a race partner before, it had nothing to do with speed or personality. Greg was plenty fast as well as way cool to ride and hang with, but he was definitely not a clydesdale.....he was not even a clydesdale for his height. The race team was put together on short notice, and not knowing anyone in Utah, well, not knowing any fast fun clydesdales ready to race, it made more sense to ride with someone we knew. And Kurt the well traveled san franciso kid, well....39 years young, had been spending a fair amount in Downieville riding and hanging with Downieville local/shop owner/shuttle bus runner/and fast riding dad aka greg. We all came out to the race days early. It was a party. Kurt had traveled from SF with his pigtail wearing girlfriend and seasoned 24 hour racer, Michelle. While Aaron drove in from from Idaho picking me up in his little japanesse truck at the Salt Lake City airport. Aaron's dog Auger rode on my lap, there was a third passanger, but not sure if he slept or rode in the back of flatbed. But once his presence was know.....HIS PRESENCE WAS KNOWN. This kid was pumped. He was riding and racing some Cezch frame as a single speed.
It was quite a gathering. Great riding and great friends. Good times all the way down to the food. Whether we were going out for pasta or hanging in at the camp ground.....
THIS STORY IS LOSING ITS DIRECTION!
TIME TO REDIRECT THE STORY TO THE MEAT OF THE MESSAGE INSTEAD OF MEANDERING DOWN MEMORY LANE!

We were all having so much fun. The race was important, but a good deal of it was background noise. Had we been taking it seriously, well, we would have been freaking out. All the shopping for certain parts or shoes, hanging out while the pumped single speeder from Boise trades forks with me, as the Judy SL was not just blown out, but it was not Clydesdale worth. This kid, Jake, which was his full name much like Cher or Madonna go by one name. Picture him. Hold that image. And think fast and fun! Okay
You got him. In the right situation he is awesome....and riding/racing/and hanging is the right situation.

enough with this wandering rant
seems that this cloudy glass of Annis is going to my head


the circular story was supposed to be leading down a path of a shot gun start in Moab Utah, riders running to their bikes leaving behind them a cloud of dust....a cloud of dust and one lone rider tailing behind. Trailing behind moving on one leg with the aid of crutches. This image was supposed to be carried from the deserts of Utah to the wooded mountains of West Virginia. Where in these lush green woods of West Virginia, where the trail was a path of slick rocks and slick roots, separated by mud, deep mud. The roots had gone beyond slick from moisture, enough riders/racers had crossed the roots to tear off the semi textured bark, leaving behind the pale white/green inner rooted.
SLICKER THAN CAT SHIT!
While off the bike lugging my knobby wheeled bike through a textbook hike-a-bike section I gained ground on another rider. Riding the unridable previously described terrain. I marched with long strides moving faster on foot than I could mounted on the bike crashing every 3 feet and then remounting again.
WE WERE IN THE DARK DIRECTING OURSELVES with HEADLAMPS!
As I get closer the image becomes more clear.
The racer is riding with one leg.
He is slow and precise, more cross country than trials, moving forward all the time.
When he crashed it was like Q-bert bounding around on his spring like body. USing his bike to stabalize his balance and hanging on till the last second, never wanting to dismount his bike.
We spoke as strangers on night laps often do.
What amazed me was not his miracular riding, but his positive attitude. I am healthy and whole, yet I am not this positive.
Actually I am pissed!
Why am I pissed?
What is my damage? Where does this anger stem from? I am too old to be PUNK ROCK! Actually it is not 1977, so the time does not all anyone to be punk rock, even the mall rat walking out of the salon with his green mohawk as his mother pays the cashier and tips the stylist, even that kid does not get to be punk.
I travel with him and we exchange tales, well, I probe him with questions.

And he delivers answers.
The talk goes from the classic mountainbiker exchange as we discussed our bikes of choice. Two bikes ranked very similarly.
The Rocky mountain bikzzard and Voodoo Bizango...equally rated steel hardtails.
I learn from his words that he works for Voodoo and lost his leg in a motorcycle accident.
No Whinning.
No Complaints.
No Excuses.
Just the facts.
He did not give anyone the finger.
why am I pist? why do I give the world the finger?
with all that I have
why do I wake up angry?

okay
enough with this rant
that is where it was supposed to go
but the path to get there was so long
that I lost the energy and focus to direct my idea

but maybe I need to wake up each morning and borrow the copeing techniques of Stewart Smally
because....I am good enough....and I like myself and my family likes me
even my dogs like me
not sure if anyone likes my tales/sagas/flashbacks whatever you want to call them
but I do want to make it clear
I am not some character hanging out saying, "back in the day..."
after all, TODAY IS THE DAY!
this is not what I am trying to do
nor do I think I am a thick skulled marlin brando type laying back and saying, "I could have been a contender"
there are people faster and stronger
there will also be people faster and stronger
it is not that I am so great
it is that I have such a good time doing it
riding/racing
it is all about biking
and biking
biking is all about living
biking makes me feel alive
and keeps me sane
well more sane
or at least less insane
Flashback: Canaan 199something

I can not recall the exact year, but I am sure I have a glow in the dark Frisbee (excuse me....flying disc, not the registered trademarked product Frisbee from Whamo) that tells the year. Without the glow-in-the-dark Frisbee I can still estimate...it was before Snowshoe, I was not on a Clydesdale team, and although the industry had them...I had no idea what suspension or clipless pedal were. Part of this was ignorance, part was economics, and another part was just poor old stubbornness.
Concepts of training were as foreign as homework was to me in school. People cheered rigid as I rode rocky, rooted, off camber trails on a 19 inch Bianchi grizzly. I did not know that "rigid rules" as I did not know the comparision. My bike fit was so small that it was easier to abandon as I flew over the handlebars or got tossed to the side. I am not sure how, but somehow a few friends talked me into this madness of my first 24 hour mountainbike relay. Sure I had raced before....but with a 10 watt headlamp on my helmet! That was a whole nother level....thank goodness for the Cateye battery operated handlebar mounted light for backup! That is almost enough light to shine on your foot so you can tie your shoe...but you better know where your foot is to point it there, cause that is not really enough light for anything more serious. Candles in hurricane lamps would be a sufficient surrogate. At this race we learned friendship and camaraderie, and not just with our own team, but with the other racers and with the spectators.
My lap times were vague, but such things were vague in my mind across the board back then. I battled my spirit and I battled my will, what I did not have in experience/training I made up for in heart. And a little luck flavored with some pigheadedness....crashing at high speed into trees was just something I had accepted as part of mountainbiking....there was no other way to go fast for me. Braking power was too weak to do anything but decelerate. And if you doubt me, think this discs kick v-brakes ass, but the v-brake kicked the cantis ass twice. So as great as cantis are over sidepull.....it ain't much. But in some ways that was to the rider's advantage...the rider was commited and the rider had momentum. If you were going down....better hang on....cause there is no stopping you! well, nothing to stop you other than the tree directly in front of you.

On a late morning lap as the sun was coming over the horizon there was a mist in the air....my lap was coming to a close and so was my contribution to the race or maybe I had one more lap, but the specifics are vague. Excitement ran through me as the night was behind me and so was this lap. It was the last off camber loose rock downhill. I had hike-a-biked a short section of rocks that suited a trials rider better than an unseasoned racer with a Clydesdale build. But not too far into the rock garden my bike was off my shoulder and I was lifting my leg over the saddle. Then marching up the hillside I saw a man dragging his bike up the hill, without covering the trail he was working his way to the top. With closer inspection I could see a bugle in his pack, I recalled seeing him the night prior...he had invited himself to play with the band that was playing some jam band country/blues cover type stuff. He worked it and he worked it right in. So I asked as I mounted my bike, "so bugler can you play me a tune" and he paused, rested his bike and pulled out the bugle, which could have been a trumpet but the memory of this is also too faded to remember. Perhaps he worked the keys or just moistened up the mouthpiece again specifics are vague. This gave me enough time to mount my bike, put my foot into my toe clip, access the trail ahead, and begin peddling. My energy of the morning was being given a turbo boost bugler style. Then just as I started to think I was cool...WHAM!!!!!.....slam on the loose rocks. The music stopped, my bugler or perhaps trumpeter pulled his brass instrument from his face and spoke, "well, are you going to ride? I am not playing for free." With that added inspiration I was back on the bike, foot was in the toe strap, and I was peddling. The music grew fainter and fainter, my smile grew larger and larger, the light got brighter and brighter as I rode out of the woods into the START/FINISH pitt with REVELRY taking me all the way there! The power of his music gave me the added push to rock and roll through the last miles of the course with the greatest of ease.
here is a race report that I sent to my team mates on the City Bikes Mountain Bike
it may not be the most dramatic or exciting report
maybe I will get more try to put a more creative spin on it later
Race Report: Cranky Monkey #1 at Wakefield

2004 is the Year of the Monkey!
And not just for those of Chinese descent, but for me as well.
Early in 2004 I bought a Surly Karate Monkey and had it built it up as a rigid single speed. After riding and racing the 29 inch wheel bike I felt that I had finally found a bicycle that fits me. The 22 inch frame is part of the equation, but the 29 inch wheels are the "clincher." With the 24 Hours of Snowshoe rapidly approaching I had considered making some upgrades to my Rocky Mountain Blizzard, this bike which is a few years old is in deep need of some TLC; some vitals included new bottom bracket, handlebars, new cables and was also thinking that I would upgrade the well used v-brakes to disc, well, disc in the front which would also merit the purchase of a new wheel. The initial inclination was to buy an inexpensive steel bike out of a box, Jamis has some great bikes with some solid features and I have a good deal through City Bikes. Lucky for me the bike I wanted with the parts I needed was not available, thus causing me to rethink my needs/direction. Then the Monkey to surface. After some discussion back and forth with friends and resources around the country I went ahead and called Mike at the Chevy Chase store. HE HOOKED ME UP! It did not seem like all of this could happen two weeks before the 24 Hours of Snowshoe, but he it did. He said he would...he said he could....and he did....and for that I am beyond grateful. THE MONKEY HAS LANDED! Landed with plenty of time to break things in. Made the inaugural dirt voyage at this Cranky Monkey race at Wakefield. All those hours of stress and fear that the bike would not arrive in time are forgotten, now my heart rate can concentrate on the race and the long climbs instead of whether my bike is ready or if it will hold up for one more race/ride.

I had the original intention of heading off to Delaware for the Fairhill Classic, lucky for me I did not take that drive as that race is not till the 18th of next month. It was not clear if I was going to race or just going to ride on this Father's day Sunday, but as we celebrated my older son Dean's 3rd birthday at my father's pool I got to talking with two other City Bikes Team members; my brother Marc and Dave Vannier. They were both planning on racing at Wakefield. So I opted to follow their lead, local and close is the family man's way to go (especially if it is the only way to go.) The Cranky Monkey did not offer a Clydesdale Class so I went with the Experts. This being a smaller local race without any climbs I figured I would get my money's worth and race the greater distance. After all, someone needs to be last and why not let that person be me. This is not to say that in the future on a different course with a more competitive field I will not drop back down to Sport.

The Cranky Monkey had a good showing and City Bikes was well represented, with a handful of racers in the single speed category and Joe Foley bumping up to Sport. My brother Marc also lined up in the Expert category as well did some other riders/racer friends of mine that I knew I was similar skill as; so I did not feel entirely out of place in this class on this course this day. At the line up all the racers chatted as the morning sun started to bake our skin. The prerace anxiety was a tad less than usual because on this day my experience was more about riding my new bike hard rather than racing and placing. Clydesdale is more my class than sport or expert, so to me there is a little less on the line when I am not racing my fellow big boys. Eventually the race started. There had been a long drawn out description of watch out for this and avoid that and remember to turn here and not to turn there, but as I have not ridden the course before it would be a waste of my energy to try and memorize these recommendations, more than likely I would be asking myself, "is this where I stay right when the beaten trail goes left?" So I opted to follow the racers in front of me and look out for arrows marking the trail. The 15 mile expert class was going to be a three lap race, sending the racers up a gravel hill towards the singletrack. As to be expected it was a tight in the single track, which ease was not aided by some moisture from rain some days prior. I managed to crash several times, at the same point on the course during lap one and lap two, but wiser on lap three. There were some tight turns on some wet roots, not sure if less tire pressure would have helped me maintain balance. Tire pressure is a riddle that I have yet to figure out.....took me years to combat the snake bite, now I have to learn about traction. This PSI thing may be a balance that I will never learn.

The Monkey treated me well. The large frame and the large wheels are a different ride and it may take a few more hours of riding to get accustom to the demands of a 29 inch wheel machine and what it has to offer. Keep in mind that even if the 21 inch bike with 26 inch wheels was an improper fit, it is the only fit that I have known for all my years of riding. A good metaphor for the move from 26 inch wheel bike to the 29 inch wheel bike may be the idea of going from a 164cm snowboard to a 174 cm. Sure on the flats and the wide open the may be some speed advantages, while it may take some learning to maneuver in the tighter more winding sections (ie the bumps) Sure this longer board may land airs with greater stability, but the increased size will add more weight so getting into the air may be more of a challenge. There was a great deal of stop and go, a tall bike with wide bars can be difficult in the tighter sections of single track. The wet roots were a barrier for all. I am sure that I am not the only person who slide out on certain corners. I could feel the taller wheels rolled through some sand and mud just like the reviews said, but only with momentum. Without momentum this bike can stop dead without touching the brakes. The bike climbed well enough, but there were no real climbs to really test the geometry/positioning and whether or not the heavy bike would be an issue going up the climbs. In the end it is a good fitting bike and not all that different from a 26 inch wheeled bike, other than a more comfortable fit. On this bike I managed to ride and race with moderate success and very little disappointment. Am I significantly faster on the bike with taller wheels? Perhaps not, but a new bike with any sized wheels will ride better with the well lubed and finely tuned parts. The bike held up well and I feel confident that it will treat me well at the 24 Hours of Snowshoe this weekend. So confident that I will be traveling to Snowshoe with my two Karate Monkeys, leaving the Rocky Mountain Blizzard at home. It is a tad sad, I do not want to abandon the Blizzard, but it may be time to say goodbye. I knew the time would come, but I never thought that I would leave the Blizzard for another hardtail, not to mention a big burley 29 inch hardtail.

you want results?

http://www.ex2adventures.com/tcm/results/2004/6-21-04_1030.html
Cicadas and Popcorn
I am not trying to be the next Dave Berry, sure I do like to waste my time and others by discussing some of the humorous circumstances of life. Yes, I can appear to be a tad Seinfeld-esque when I drag on endlessly about how calf high socks are too much material and that we should all wear ankle length socks unless we it is cold or we need the fabric to hold in shin guards while playing soccer. As the harmonic drone of the 17 year cicada is a faint memory we have found the hype of the cicada to be as unnecessary as the prep for the Y2K Bug. Although I do miss the loud background noise of the cicada, it sounded like the mothership was calling me home.
The other day as I was rolling down the Capital Crescent trail on the new Karate Monkey with gears with dean tucked in the trailer in tow I had the pleasure of witnessing a bird snatch a cicada out of the sky just feet in front of my eyes. It was a visual opportunity of a lifetime. The bird was gliding in along side of me and then accelerated in on the cicada, meeting at the point of intersection dead center right in front of me, yet not so close to cause me to panic and crash my bike. It was then that I thought about what this bird was going through. A month ago this bird and all of its bird friends had all the cicadas they wanted.....more cicadas then they ever thought they could ever consume. They may have enjoyed the taste and texture of the first couple cicadas, but then after a while there were just so many cicadas that they just gorged themselves. But now that the cicadas are nearly gone they are searching far and wide for a fresh little morsel. The once over looked scraps are being snatched up and picked at, and a fresh live cicada flying clumsily through the air...well that is a delicacy.
How is this like popcorn?
It is not uncommon to go to the movies and purchase an absurdly large barrel of popcorn, so much that I could never imagine eating it all. The theater grows dark and I sample a few lone pieces of popcorn, savoring the flavor. Then as the first preview is ending and the next is beginning I find that I have moved from a few popped kernels, to handfuls, mouthfuls, and soon stomachfuls, then after the 4th preview and the alledgely tasteful product advertisement the feature presentation is beginning. At this point my barrel is nearly empty, my belly is full, and I am scouring the bottom of the barrel looking for fragments of the popped corn and risking breaking a molar crunching on a less than desirable unpopped popcorn kernel. That is how popcorn and cicadas are similar, not how they both taste better with Old Bay.

6.18.2004

my young cousin wrote something that I found on the internet today

Rebecca in Paris

this entry was made by her late last year
in 1991 a year after college graduation I was feeling a little anxious...
the months between college graduation and the rapidly approaching summer had been fun packed, but lack something....but I was not sure what. During those months were I worked as a messenger and also spent a just shy of 2 months traveling the south with two friends where we spent the majority of that time planting trees in Georgia. As summer got to be closer I developed a plan...I was going to ride cross country via motorcycle. It was a half cocked plan. It took some creative orcestrating.....had to sell one motorcycle....buy another...get that motorcycle running then tagged/insured/etc. The plan was in the background, very few people knew of this plan, but when it came to surface it all just sounded like talk in a bar.

more on this later
I may leave work early
so would rather finish working here and go ride my bike

6.17.2004

THE MONKEY HAS LANDED!
At the first available opportunity I will deploy all personal to move in on the arrival location! The MONKEY must be greeted and welcomed into its new home!
now to try and convince my boss that I need to leave early.....

6.16.2004

last comic standing....
bummer
total bummer
tonight I was doing a little channel surfing (and I told you I don't surf) when I passed through a quasi-reality show, The Last Comic Standing.
It was seconds before I saw DC Benny was going to be one of the competitors. Having seen him before I knew that he could be funny, having gone to high school with him I knew he was a nice guy and deserved a break. Enough with the intro...ran downstairs and came back with a glass of wine, just in time for the show to start back up with a few reality bites of Ben's life, then he was on the stage. His opening was weak and fell dead....he responded to the crowd's lack of response....but...being a professional and a fighter he came back, but the time limit was not in his favor....he finally transitioned into some humor, the crowded started to respond positively. They rebounded well, but before he could move from the Indian Rapper Bit....time had run off and he ran off the stage. The previous performers had all hung out for a little clever Q&A response time where they could showcase a little improv back and forth.
Not that his career was hinged on this one event, but it did seem like it could be a good break for an aspiring comic. Perhaps he has a bigger opportunity around the corner and this had to dispell so he could be open to the next.
BLOGGER'S BLOCK
It is happening again...the time is here and I have nothing to say (yet I blog on anyway) The other day while out on the bike I had a few quality blog ideas race through my head...even had a few catch statements. All I needed to do was sit down and start typing and link all those catch phrases together. Needless to say nothing is coming to surface. The clock is ticking and quiting time is rapidly approaching...there are a few final minutes where I could maybe jot down these ideas.
unlikely

6.15.2004

two ideas for later
Freaks and Super Freaks
and
Popcorn
Clinton Forced to Settle on Shortening his Book Title!

Soon the book stores will be flooded with Bill Clinton's memoirs, "My Life." Shortly after that Bill Clinton's hotel (or maybe motel) room will be flooded with groupies and would be interns....it is going to be bigger than the American Idol auditions. Lucky for the ladies like Monica, Bill is not as critical as Simon. After the lawyers met for many days at the mediation table it was established that Bill could not use his original book title as it is already associated with a classic foreign film; "My Life as a Dog."

6.14.2004

Nice Breasts......Nice Rims!
This is a tough post to try and compose as the written word can be so incriminating, but I feel that Lisa is accepting that I will look at other women until I am blind or until I am dead. Hopefully writing this post will not have Lisa kill me or blind me....
The other day I was walking down the street when I saw these two women walking down the block. They had similar builds; long, tall, and lean; each with rather small breasts. The site was taken in with the same pleasure of viewing the setting sun, I looked at them as they passed as if it were the sun dipping off the horizon, just soaking it in and allowing it to disappear, enjoying the warm glow knowing it would soon be gone. Once they passed I thought to myself....those were two very attractive women. In a certain way their small breasts were an asset rather than a detracting. Had they each had large breasts I feel that most onlookers (maybe even me) would have zeroed in on the breasts and missed out on the other features. Yes, other features....the shape of the eyes, the curve of the nose, the muscular angles of the legs....okay you get the point, no need for me to go any further as we all know the components of the female form. With that said.....a boob job can be like some flashy rims on a nice car. The car goes down the block with its sharp lines and smooth curves, all the while the eyes are drawn in towards the spinning chrome...and the rest of the car is over shadowed by the wheels/rims. Almost as if the rest of the car does not matter....seconds later you could ask the gapping onlookers what color the car was and you are sure to get a blank stare and an audible, "dah, I don't know....but those were some nice rims!"

Why BLOG?
this is a very odd little passion/compulsion I have developed over the last year
it is a whole lot of fun, almost as much fun as my old SCRABBLE addiction on GAMES.com
that offered me so much, both game and chat, but not unlike THE BLOG it took so much of my energy and attention from the tasks at work
sure, right now I am REIMAGING one of the company user's new machines
and sure, my writing a blog is no different than someone else reading the paper, doing a cross word puzzle, or even playing that dreaded solitaire
yet, my rationalization gives some sort of admission of guilt
or worse yet, fear of my boss' disapproval
but...he left early and I am staying late, so I guess it is all okay
as long as I get my work done there is no complaint
if laptops were stacking up at my desk and the help line was ringing off the hook
and I was screaming "NOT NOW! I AM IN THE MIDDLE OF A BLOG!" well, then and only then I think I would have an issue, well, I may have an issue, but maybe then I would have a serious issue

on a similar related not of "WHY DO I BLOG?"
I typed out a tale of meeting Brooke Shields while mountainbiking a few entries ago
and it did not score even one comment
guess I should go back and edit it with a Pam Anderson and Paris Hilton sandwich
Another "why did I not think of that?!?"
Well, to quote the west coast hardcore punk band from the 80's DOA, "talk minus action equals ZERO!" I do come up with some great ideas from time to time, none of which are engineering or bike related, but you have to admit that my doubled sided tube of tooth paste AM/PM is a great idea (PM for night time, tryptophan or melatonin as a sleep aid and Am with caffeine for the morning brushing to get you going! But in a litigious society as this I can not risk any business venture that may risk me getting sued, so I stay poor and off the infomercial circuit)
Here is a very simple design that seems like a great modification of the downtube shifters!

I saw another great shifter "mod" that turned index road shifters into top bar mountain shifters some time ago, but can not find the link.

oh....I was never the biggest DOA fan growing up, most of my tastes stuck FAITHFULLY to the DC sounds and ideas, unless of course it came from across the pond (man I wish I had the UK SUBS Diminished responsibility on DC or THE DAMNED Machine Gun etiquette)
Weekend Update

Here is my WEEKEND UPDATE as typed up as a response to TimmyP's weekend update.....
and no this Weekend Update has nothing to do with SNL.
I Bill Clinton Narcoleptic?
On Friday at the Reagan funeral at the National Cathedral I caught a clip of Bill Clinton asleep at the funeral. Then today there was a press conference, looked like Bush was about to speak, Clinton was there as well. His head was down and he looked like he might be asleep, then when there was clapping at the arrival of Bush he snapped up as if from a bit of a nap.

That is my man Bill!
oddly I think that this gathering was for a portrait of Bill and a portrait of Hillary...separate portraits as they could not get them to be along side of each other long enough for the painter to make a sketch.

narcolepsy
Encyclopædia Britannica Article

Narcolepsy
a sleep disturbance that is characterized by sudden, uncontrollable spells of sleep during the day, with disturbances of sleep at night.

The syndrome usually occurs in youth or early adult life and is presumably due to dysfunction of the diencephalic reticular system. The narcoleptic can fall asleep anywhere, anytime—while in conversation, at work, while eating, …

6.11.2004

Fatherhood

What was the first thing that happened to the Invisible Man when his wife had their first child?

He became apparent!


It is a funny thing. With as much work as children demand and all the sacrifices parents have to make it is hard to imagine that one of the first reaction to having children is.....I wish I had done this sooner. It is an odd phenomena. Parenthood is a club, correction, Parenthood is a cult. A cult where all the members are only permitted to talk about these three topics; children, realestate, and schools. To the outsiders we are a complete bore, but to the members of this cult...the well informed are the "bell of the ball."

Compare and contrast Pampers vs. Huggies?
To Diaper Genie or not to Diaper Genie?
What are the latest Safety Recalls?
some people get a little deeper into the magic by researching the philosophy of teaching a child to ride a bike without training wheels vs. learning to ride a bike with training wheels

well you get the picture....

but that is my life
I roll up to the toddler park
my older son Dean runs off and starts climbing on stuff
and I walk around with my younger son Grant in my arms and yap it up with the other parents
and that is what we talk about

that is why I had to turn to other people for information on what suspension forks to by and other topics I would have been more up to date with if I were not the father of two wonderful boys!

oh....right now Dean is really psyched about the bike
at times he likes to move from his two wheeler with training wheels to his tricycle....aka the three wheeled direct drive machine (a kids fixed gear)
VooDoo 29er Frame

Van Dessel 29er

Dirt Rag reviews Fisher 29inch Dualie

Dirt Rag also reviewed the Karate Monkey....here is a none 29er that fits the big guys bill.....and that bill/cost is quite reasonable
well
that is the Kona Hoss, as reviewed in Dirt Rag 105, guess they do not put everything online

oh well
that is enough linkage
as if I send you linking
you will not read my novel, Pretty Baby
OMENS and SIGNS
I do not consider myself particularly superstitious, but I do try to pick up certain signs in life. The other morning I was up with Dean and Grant in the play room, I had the TV on to help entertain Dean as I was fully occupied trying to entertain Grant. The cartoon playing was something on one of those kids channels, maybe Nickelodeon, not sure. It was not the rug rats, but drawn in a similar style, the characters were all surfing, there was a big fat native Hawaiian adult was giving the kids guidance. One of the children, this little while dough boy of a child, could not balance the board well enough to paddle, the adult flashed back to his childhood and the same set of issues. It seems that the solution to the young boys troubles was his board, he was short boarding it, when he needed to be on a long board. Once on the long board he was cutting through the waves (and in this story...more importantly accepted by the cool kids.) After seeing this I knew that it was a sign! The 29 Inch Wheel Bike is my Long Board! The morning continued, Soledad came over to watch Grant, I dressed Dean, walked the dogs with Dean on my shoulder through Rock Creek, dropped Dean off at Rosemount Center, headed back through the woods, changed into cycling gear, went into work a few minutes late as usual, and finished my research on the correct 29 inch fork that I needed for the Karate Monkey.

Not sure if my LONG BOARD has been ordered, but am excited to be surfing the dirt in no time on a SUPERSIZED bike for a SUPERSIZED RIDER! But not sure if this purchase will give me any help in being accepted by the cool kids
In the 80's I owned a handful of SWATCHES....
an inexpensive accessory that I never bought
always got as gifts or acquired
more often than not someone got them as a gift and figured that they would never wear them
the coolest one I ever had was more 80's than all the rest with its Keith Harring graphics

does the RIBBON WATCH have the same accessory potential?

remember the accessories make the outfit!
Pretty Baby

years and years ago
well at least over a decade ago
in a time when I had hair...so much hair I would say that I could have been a hair farmer, there was hair on my head that draped down my spine three quarters down my back, long glorious blondish brown hair with a natural waviness from long days in the sun on my bike and in my convertible rabbit, swimming in the ocean, jumping off the cliffs into the potomac, or wading into the C&O canal with my family dog
my chest was nearly hairless as it was just starting to creep up from around my belly button and I could not grow enough facial hair to grow a respectable beard
I was young and vain
never knowing that genetics was going to be my Samson and clip my wig


in these younger freer times we rode our rigid bikes without helmets
it was humorous time
the mountainbike was young and the technology was just out of the gate
I was riding a Canondale SM600 a wonderful yellow bike with a 26 inch wheel in the front and a 24 inch wheel in the back
the brakes were Sam Cunningham's roller cams
the gears took muscle to shift with the Suntour top of the bar thumb shifters
(some people were going custom mounting them under the bar, inspiring the designers to create the rapid fire thumb shifter technology)
our feet bounced free on the pedals with loose harnesses that were called toe clips

I remember a day I was out riding with a few friends, rob and greg, we were out at Great Falls Maryland on the Gold Mine Loop. we were young and foolish and felt like outlaws with little concern for the no bikes signs. I may have been a courier at the time and greg and rob had each had been couriers at one time or another thus extending the outlaw feeling for times on the bike. we were running these loops through the woods, popping out at Old Angler's Inn, and spinning up Macarthur Blvd to the top of the hill at Falls Road and dropping back into the woods. It was a pretty solid routine. The wooded trails were short loops and a far greater pleasure going down than up. As these were the early days of mountainbiking, and we went under the rule....no training.
On this one ride in particular there was a strange encounter...
After one of our loops I came out of the woods before Greg and Rob, while waiting for them to meet me at the parking lot a tall beautiful women caught my eye as she unloaded her bike. Just before Rob and Greg got out woods I started up with some small talk...."oh I see you are running the FARMER JOHN in the back and the FARMER JOHN COUSIN in the front....personally..." the conversation went that way, she had no idea what I was talking about and deferred all the bicycle questions to her riding partner, the owner of the bike, a guy I did not see, notice, or care about. Then Rob and Greg exited the woods, I mounted my bike with a quick good bye and then we headed up the paved road for a some more fun in the woods.
We dropped into the woods and I lead the route downhill. we were hammering down a chattering section with our helmetless heads, our rigid bikes, and our feet strapped in tight with leather straps on our toe clips; when I see this same beautiful women working her way up the opposite direction. as we passed/nearly collided she said, "oh, deja vue!" I turned looked, checked her out and thought.."oh, death to us all if you don't get out of my way...cause I am not stopping" While in actuality, I could not stop as the braking power of that era was more a matter of decelleration rather than stopping.
we did the loop one or two more times and managed to connect with this women and her invisible riding partner as they loaded up the car
we chatted, laughed and giggled and had a pleasant exchange
rob and I took in her striking good looks as greg finished loading up his car
then she removed her helmet and pulled off her glasses and shook her ponytail free
in a classic teen movie sort of way this all happened in front of me in slow motion...a hazy filter softened that already soft features as her long flowing hair whipped from side to side and dropped softly on her soft round shoulders
at that moment rob evacuated with a cloud of dust floating where he once stood
figuring it was time to go, I said my good byes and got into robs sporty little capri
we looked at each other
rob was white like he had seen a ghost
I turned and asked, "was that Brooke Shields"
rob said, "I don't know, but that is how I am going to tell the story"
we pulled away with greg following right behind and we headed off to the Highs Store (a 7-11 style store of an era now long since past, think Slush Puppies not Slurppies) to get some Gatorade and Dorritos or maybe a Blue Flavored Slush Puppy for a guarenteed ice cream headache. As we shopped around for the right snacks to replace all the calories that were burned I felt a friendly slap on the back. I turned and looked and thought..."oh, deja vue!" sure enough it was that same tall beautiful brunette that we had established as Brooke Shields, she was still wearing a white t-shirt with a Guess print and black cycling shorts....in other words dressed to kill...not wearing blue eyeliner and big hair as was the fashion of the day for these hollywood types. we again laughed and joked, I told her it was getting creepy having her follow me around like this, as if she was some sort of stalker, she laughed comfortably and touched my elbow in a friendly yet meaningless way, but then our laughs and exchange ended abruptly as her invisible riding partner became visible and snatched her away by the arm, confirming her hollywood status by saying to her..."brooke...I want you to meet a friend of mine"
rob, greg, and I paid for our goodies and went on our way

again I was tickled
it was all very silly and funny
not sure why meeting famous people is so interesting to regular folk like myself
but there are those times when regular folks get together drinking their regular folk drinks (usually beer straight from the can) and they sit around and exchange the answers to such questions as..."who is the most famous person you have ever met?"
and clearly my story of meeting Brooke Shields is more interesting than my story of riding in an elevator and making small talk with Richard Nixon or my taking a piss at a stand up urinal along side of Dan Rather and our small talk exchange as we each washed our hands.

6.09.2004

I wrote these two Keith Bontrager entries after a very long news day...although I am the low man on the totem pole here at work (one of two computer guys.) When there is a big news story, as in the case of the death of former President Reagan, I have long work days with a situation filled with excitement and some stress.
For other TV BABIES (a quote from DRUGSTORE COWBOY) think of the film BROADCAST NEWS, that movie was based off where I work. I know some of the characters that the movie characters were based off of, and yes, they are characters. With that said, it had been a long day, I had spent too much time on the computer already, the Whiskey and Coke I poured when I walked in the door did not help things....so I BLOGGED without revisions; my mind and hands were not nimble enough to get my point across.....so I am going to review things now


KEITH BONTRAGER
Keith Bontrager is cool! He has been cool for years; and I am sure he was cool long before I heard of him...and I heard of him before I could afford any of his parts and that was before Fisher bought him. The so called "sell out" is something that I have never disagreed with, this gave his equipment a greater audience and I am sure that it took his testing grounds from his garage to the lab! Keith in my mind is an engineer version of Henry Rollins....well of the Henry Rollins in Black Flag, and maybe some early Rollins band but maybe not; okay some modern day spoken word stuff may be cool. But not the cameo/extra king...again...not unlike Keith, I have no issue with anyone making a buck, but it is not clear if Rollins is trying to be an actor, trying to make a buck, trying to stay in the spotlight, seeking some form of immortality, or just having some fun with it. We can only hope that he is having fun with it, on an episode of JACKASS he sure seemed to be having fun driving a HUM V in the desert with SUPER JACKASS STEVEO got a tattoo of a smiley face on his arm, well a tattoo of a smiley face on his arm as the HUM V was driven fast and wild over off road terrain. I envy people whose lives have taken them in directions where they get to write their own ticket. Remember, I may envy aspects of people's lives, but I do not for a second wish to trade lives with anyone, but perhaps draw inspiration from other's lives and improve upon my own.
Years ago my brother did a trip out to California to race the Granny Gear 24 Hours of Donner Pass, on that trip, at a very grass roots 24 hours race I was very tickled to meet Keith Bontrager. No, we did not hang out at the campfire, share microbrewed beer, and then leave the race promising to write....nor was it me running up to him with a picture in a magazine begging for his autograph.....it was somewhere in between. I was tickled. He was friendly and cool, while I was tickled.....when he said something it came through a filter...Keith Bontrager Said This Filter.

read this article and you will agree that this guy is cool! He is cool in the same way that fellow parts guru Sheldon Brown is cool, or maybe the guys from Rivendale, Gary Fisher, or Tom Richie. There are many others, and these are just some cool folks who are cool in the cycling industry....there are other people making cool contributions to our planet who are not bicycle related, just can not think of any right now.


Okay, just thought of a few Jake Burton and Sims the two inventors that argue over the creation of the snowboard. Although it is super cool that these guys did this...there is a tad bit of irony, THEY TRIED TO REINVENT THE WHEEL! For some reason as they invented this tool to be used on the ski slope, they failed to look at the ski for some of the most basics strengths of its evolution....they created it without a metal edge! So as great as the early snowboard was, in so many ways it sucked! But it was stage one of the evolution of what is now the snowboard. A sport that I live too far from the hill to enjoy and a sport that I can not afford. In my mind, a week travel to a ski resort and all of its costs is pretty darn close to the price of buying another bike. Lift ticket prices have gone through the roof, last time at Vail I think the tickets were 60 Bucks, okay maybe 52, but you get the point. (oh, I did not pay for my tickets for Vail, my old friend katerina hooked my up with a stack of employee tickets and for Copper my friend Tim let my borrow his pass)

On another day I was tickled.....
maybe at work
I need to put my feet up
lets see if I feel like chasing this tangent in the morning.
okay...this entry was also after that long work day
now in the middle of another long work day; the funeral for former President reagan, I am going to take a break and spruce up this post a tad
not much
clean up and edits are not my thing, you should see my basement


this rider friend of mine that I have never ridden with before, nick, send me this amazing article on a KONA bike, the Kona Hoss Deluxe; it was an article in dirt rag. the article had some simple genius. it said so much, so clear.
this kona bike the HOSS DELUXE and this article from Keith Bontrager are about what we all dream the bike industry is about, but sadly this is not so. So much about the industry seems to be about making money, making it affordable, or making it....well, who knows what they are thinking. why does a 15 inch frame have the same fork as a 21 one inch frame? why do frames stop at 21 inch?
Why does the cycling industry thing that after 5'10" tall and 185lbs is ONE SIZE FITS ALL! When actually they are making a product where ONE SIZE FITS NONE!

not unlike snowboards....
snowboard lenghts are made for riders 140lbs-155, 155lbs-165, and then a longer board for 165-175, and finally a board for riders 175plus (and they tend to be wider for the taller bigger foot rider) Well, I think there is clearly a greater difference with 200 or god forbid 220 or 240, than 150 and 170lbs.

the 29 inch wheel bike seems to be an answer for the taller rider
perhaps it makes less sense for frames to get larger and larger and perhaps awkward for them to work with the 26 inch wheels.

I may be thinking of going 29 across the board
if I go DUAL SUSPENSION, dare I say it, it will definitely be 29 inch
and again
if nothing else because it will fit
it is like I have been wearing a size 11.5 shoe for the last 15 years
and just learned that they can make a 13
what took them so long to start making a 13?
when will there be more choices in a size 13?

yes it is true CUSTOM is an option, but not an option for me.
I can not justify the costs of some of these machines. it just does not make sense to me to spend so much money on anything, even a bike.
I had a discussion with a long time friend and Big Wheel Shop manager, Bennet. He said something that I agreed with about how the rider fits the bike, not that the bike fits the rider. In essence what he is saying is that we get a basic fit, and we adjust from there. It is a strange irony. In the sales situation there is always the TEST RIDE. And the customer rides many bikes. For the most part every bike should ride well out of the shop, and not much can be told in the initial moments of riding any bike. And there are always slight modifications that can be made to "customize" the machine, a shorter stem, seat height and position, riser vs. flat bars, etc. In the last many years I have made a number of bike purchases, never once has I ever seen or touched the model of bike that I was ordering. I had never even seen a Karate Monkey when I ordered one, I had never seen a Rocky Mountain Blizzard, I had never seen a Kona Huma Huma Nuka Nuka Ah' Pua Ah, nor had I ever seen the Kona Explosif. There was the reading of the reviews, a check at the frame size, and an a analysis of the components.
This test ride idea is extended to riding, racing, and training...
Most of my training is done on a 26" commuter bike, with and aluminum frame and rigid fork, then most of my trail riding recently has been done on my 29" wheeled rigid karate monkey, and then when it comes to race day I get on my 26" hardtail Rocky Mountain Blizzard. (well, that will all change if Mike can find the time to make the call to order my bike today)

with all that said
if I were a consumer without a hook up through a great shop and team sponsor, City Bikes
that Kona would be a no brainer
I am excited to check one of those things out
it comes in a 22 inch frame!
and it is catering to the needs of a bigger rider
I love it when the industry does something right!
AHHHHH
HELLP MEEE!
I AM GOING INSANE!

both these forks seem resonable in price
but does either offer a DISC OPTION?

Marzocchi
and
WINWOOD

what to do
?
what to do
?
ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!
so I had this idea....to put a couple of bucks into my Rocky Mountain Blizzard before the 24 Hours of Snowshoe...Disc brakes were my main objective. After some math I started to think that I could get a new bike out of a box for just a little bit more...well a tad more than a little more, but not much. So I settled in on a Jamis Dakota XC , sure the DRAGON is a tad nicer, but it was a little more than this logical step wanted to take me....for that much money I may cross to the DARK SIDE and go full suspension. Well, all that dreaming of the Dakota XC was a waste of time, they do not have the 2004 models available, I could get a great deal on a 2003, but, the 2003 lacks the DISC BRAKES; the center of my upgrade decision. (neither had a fork suitable to my size and stature) Then I started to flip flop in all sorts of directions....Karate Monkey owners said get another monkey...but one said DON'T GEAR THE MONKEY. That one vote was my Henry Fonda among 12 Angry Men, he had presented a reasonable doubt. So I be bobbed around the net and started to get opinions from friends who ride, friends in the industry, people who made recent purchases, and from strangers all over the WEB. Soon I was thinking 29 Inch Double Banger. But I could not find the FISHER HOOK UP! And then I noticed...the FISHER LACKS THE DISC BRAKES! So even with the HOOK UP it would cost me more than I am looking to spend....yet there was no hook up so my dreams in that direction did not occupy much time. It is not that disc brakes are that expensive, but with disc brakes you need a disc wheel and a disc fork.

Now I am back to the MONKEY!
It offers so much what I am looking for!
I have ridden it and I know I love it! It is moderately cheap....not free....and this process is not proving to be easy, yet I chase this dream down just the same. CAN THIS ALL BE DONE IN TIME FOR THE 24 HOURS OF SNOWSHOE? Am I not learning from DT that you can not bleed your hydraulic brakes at 11:50 PM when the race starts at MIDNIGHT? Am I shooting for the impossible?


That reasonable doubt was the speed check that I needed....but hopefully I did not slow so much that I will not clear my obstacle (getting this bike for Snowshoe)


the main question is...
CAN THE WINWOOD HANDLE THE STRENGTH AND POWER (okay weight) OF A CLYDESDALE LIKE ME?
WINWOOD
If so...I may make the call tomorrow
that is if Mike works on Thursday
not sure...but I think Thursday is his tanning day at the beach, Monday was his massage and facial day at the SPA...today he was in a meeting at the downtown store.

Wish me luck!
Help me to get the bike I want and need
and
try to insure/assure me a dry race at SNOWSHOE because the Karate Monkey is a tad heavy and the 29 inch wheels are bigger and could hold more mudd
thus causing the risk of a hernia on the first section of muddy hike-a-bike

give me guidance
or a winning lotto ticket

6.08.2004

A fellow Monkey owner, Timmy P, says that his monkey weighs over 30 pounds...yet it still scares me
that sounds like a heavy bike

any thoughts on the White Brothers Fork?

any other recomendations on 29 Inchers?

ABSOLUTE has a set of links for various 29 inch bike manufacrturers

went to the SEVEN CYCLES page after going to the ABSOLUTE page and noticed it was not listed....guess it was not listed because these bikes cost more than I hope to spend on my next car!

If my choice is a bike for over a grand that weighs 30 pounds or a bike that weighs 26 pounds for 3 grand....my choice is made
that is just unreasonable!
WHAT BIKE DO I NEED!?!?!?

I need some help. PROZAC would be a start, but not sure if it would take effect in the few weeks before the 24 Hours of Snowshoe so I am considering another route.....

I need a new bike.
Some basic laws of economics...The Law of Diminishing Returns, may apply here. Basically my old and tired Rocky Mountain BLizzard could use some help. Was thinking of putting front disc brakes on it, but that would require a new front wheel. Then it also needs a new bottom bracket, then add on the new pedals that I wants...
Well, you get the picture. A bike out of the box is starting to sound like a more sensible investment. But what to buy? I do not want to get all GUCCI and go for a Double Banger, thinking I will stay hardtail.....BUT! and I have a big BUTT! BUTT, I was seriously considering going to another 29 inch wheel bike, but I fear that the Karate Monkey would be a tad heavy once built up.

Any thoughts?

Any recomendations?

Anyone know anyone who rides/races a Karate Monkey as anything other than a single speed?

I GOTTA KNOW!
and I gotta act fast!

HOOK A BROTHER UP WITH THE 411!

give my fat ass the skinny!
Journal
So much happens in each of our everyday lives that we rarely take notice of it. We go through phases and changes, we exist on certain levels and think we will maintain there forever, and we hold ideas or memories and feel that they will always be there at the surface to be retrieved. Then one day we are sad to find that our memories and ideas have faded and have been replaced with more recent and relevant ideas and memories, this can be sad...whether it is the memory of a special day in childhood or the idea that was the basis of the All American Novel that was going to get you a couple of million bucks and the freedom for you to quote Johnny Paycheck and say, "take this job and shove it!"

There is a cameraman here at work....he is a nice guy....I do not know him well....but I have known him for years. When Dean was born he gave me a present, a hardback journal with blank pages. From time to time as we pass in the halls, and not every time we pass in the halls, he asks me if I have been keeping a journal, I try to mention my BLOG, he rolls his eyes and says, "you have a pen, you know how to use it, WRITE!" He may be right.

This weekend past my wife Lisa went to Syracuse NY for a ladies bonding session. One of her college room mates has been battling breast cancer for years, she thought she had beat it, but as it turns out the cancer that attacks the younger women is far more aggressive. The treatments with all of their successes have given way to the cancer. She is declining. Lisa and a slew of her girlfriends from college went up to spend some time with a near and dear friend. To allow for this to be a girl's weekend I took on the duty of watching our two sons; Dean who is rapidly approaching 3 years and Grant who is just surpassed the 3 month mark. She was only gone for 36 hours, but with a baby crying in my arms 36 minutes can seem like a lifetime. Durning that short span of time I lived through many lifetimes, even after calling in the reserves for gaps within the day.

One of the more memorable moments in the weekend was when it was rapidly approaching 10PM, hours past Dean and Grant's bed times, I was trying trouble shoot Grant's crying: his diaper was clean and fresh, he clothing was crisp and clean, the climate in the room was comfortable, it had not been that long since he last ate...but I opted to feed him again. After warming the 'pumped' breast milk to the appropriate temperature I was in trying to feed Grant. It was a very frustrating moment. Dean was at my side issuing orders...."he needs the breast milk from the bottle!....he is hungry!....let me feed him!" Then Dean and I started wrestling for the bottle, I could not break Dean from his objective, so I allowed him to try and feed his baby brother. Dean being just under three could not quite get the sublties of the situation, his angle was a tad off with the bottle and his efforts were not as gentle as they could be, but his heart was in the right place. We took turns, neither having any success, so I rushed everyone to the car. Dean had the responsibility of the bottle (the same responsibility I entrusted with him the next day, where on the departure of the front door he got slightly distracted and traded his younger brother's bottle of breast milk for a his baseball mitt and ball) We moved towards the car as if we were rushing a ticking bomb from a student filled elementary school. Once in the car I tried to drive down the road and feed Grant the bottle, all the while Dean was instructing me...."he does not want the bottle, let him be, leave him alone....he does not want the bottle." As you can imagine it was a moderately stressful moment. Grant never took the bottle, we had a nice drive through Rock Creek Park, Dean excitedly looked for deer and we discussed where they might be on this rainy night, oh, and more importantly, Grant fell asleep. With Grant asleep we pointed for home, mission accomplished. We were gone for such a short time span that the same parking spot on the street remained free right in front of our Mount Pleasant abode. I took the car seat out and put grant on the ground, unclipped Dean's harness, and leaned in to grab Dean. Dean turned mission accomplished into Mission Impossible and leaped to the driver's seat. I gave him some fatherly demands, grant woke up, I increased my fatherly demands, Dean told me that I scared him, but climbed out of the driver's seat, into the back seat, out the back side door, and into my arms. I carried Dean and crying Grant back into the house. Somebody needed to go to bed, well, that someone may have been me, but in this case it was Dean. It was late, way late. Some gentle rocking in the car seat and Grant was back to sleep, I rushed upstairs with Dean and enjoyed the few moments while Grant was asleep....was able to make the transfer from the car seat to the couch, he rested there in the 'boopy pillow" for a while, but when I tried to transfer him to his crib I was back to square one.

This continued. Finally I was able to get him to sleep on my shoulder as I walked the sidewalk back and forth in front of my house, then he slept as I watched an episode of KUNG FU the original tv series I have on DVD. Finally when he woke, he took the bottle and accepted the transfer to his crib. He fell asleep and so did I. Upon lisa's return I learned that I had forgotten to give Grant some reflux medicine, and that may have been the cause of his inability to sleep. Lessons learned.
Parenthood: A World of Pleasure and Pain (and Prayer)

Last week Dean was suffering some pain and discomfort, as it turns out he had a molar pushing through in the back of his mouth. In addition to the pain in the mouth there are a handful of other side effects correlated with this occurrence; sometimes fever,diarrhea, loss of appetite, and inability to chew food if you have an appetite. Dean was uncomfortable. He could not eat and had trouble sleeping. In the night he woke several times. I rushed to his aid. His shirt was covered with a mixture of saliva and tears, he cried inconsolably. As I tried to pull him close to comfort him, he pushed me away. No words or actions could break his tears. The Children's Motrin had been given to him before he went to bed, so he could not get any more medicine until morning.

When things like this happen I do my best to help Dean (or Grant), but more importantly I try to put it all in perspective. When Dean was an infant he cried a good deal, if I recall he cried for the first three months nonstop. Everyone but the doctors said he had colic. Putting a name to it made no difference, he was in pain, and it was hard to contend with. When we were going through this period with our first child for the most part I did not sweat it. Firstly, it was my first child and I had nothing to compare it to, so I thought that Dean's behavior was par for the course. But more predominant was the fact that my baby's tears and discomfort were slight in comparison to the other problems that a newborn may face. Lisa and I would be out to dinner and we would see a family with an autistic child, or a child with severe retardation....I would say a quick prayer for the family of that child and a quick thanks for the health of our family; after that I would say to Lisa, "so our baby cries."

This morning I called a friend of mine to see if he was back from his overseas adventures as a documentary film maker. He was back, but he had no time to chat. He was knee deep in a letter to a close friend whose baby is suffering severe brain damage from complications during the birth. His details were slight. The whole story effected me profoundly. Sadness overwhelmed me. I again gave thanks to the health and fitness of my family, for relatively easy births, healthy infancy, and for healthy futures. When I got back to the office I felt a need to contact this friend of a friend. He is my friend as well, but I by no means ever knew him well. On our infrequent encounters I always felt that he had a warm spirit, and I always found a special closeness to him. To contact him I went to his website to get his info. On his website I found a posting of the details of delivery and the complications. I wept openly at my computer station. Never for a second ashamed that I a 6'4" of 235 pounds could be caught crying at my desk. I am not ashamed of my emotions or how I responded to the news/information.

I called; no answer; so I left a message. Then I opted for the written word; rather than sending an email I chose to send him a note via the US Mail. When I went for something to write on I found a birth announcement for my second son Grant. A debate raced through my head about the appropriateness of this being used to send as my message. The message was coming from a father and a friend, and I thought that if the message was from the heart that there would be no misunderstanding of my intentions.

No need for me to recount the words I shared with this man and his family. The message was no more than a few paragraphs, yet it took two postcards to cover my point. I cried big round tear drops as I wrote, I was careful not to let those big salty tears drop and drench the postcard. Then I took a walk to the post office to mail the letters. After going to the post office I grabbed a piece of fruit at the corner hot dog stand when asked how I was doing I shared this sad news with the man who operates the stand. He is also a father and immediately shared my sorrow, he offered to pray for this baby and its family. I too prayed.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not religious. Perhaps a tad spiritual, but not religious in the least. For years I had a pact with god, I would not go into his house and he did not come into mine (okay that is a joke, every time I say it I fear a lightning bolt is going to shoot through the clear blue skies and strike me dead on the spot.) But as I got older and wiser I came to feel that there has to be something other than this world. Or at least something to hope for like a dollar lotto ticket and all the dreams it holds, or prayer (if there is a god) is a cheap form of insurance. Then as a father to be I found myself praying more and more often, never going to church, not even ever considering it, but praying. Prayning, praying not just for my wife to have a happy and healthy pregnancy, but praying and giving thanks. Giving thanks for the birds and the flowers, and for creating the woods for me to walk my dogs and ride my bike. It is all very odd and very confusing.
Oh, and I definitely thanked god for giving man the power of free thought and creativity.

6.06.2004

DUMPSTER DIVING
this is a post that I have started several times, tried once to publish it unfinished
yet for some reason it does not appear
so I start to get the point across, again

there are two points

1. I am a dumpster diver, fred sanford is my hero
it is my dream for my life to be more like his, or at least my house
currently only my garage and basement have that moldy junk everywhere feel, if I had things my way...it would be the whole house. lucky for me and the world, lisa IS IN THE HOUSE!

2. would I be a dumpster diver if I lived in a rural mountain village in Peru? We have enough money to buy stuff, so why do I feel compelled to gather all sorts of junk I do not need and will not every use. Do those two things mean the same? repetition is my writing style.

long story short...

I was driving in Northern VA trying to find my friend maggie's house. I have been there a handful of times, but I have a problem with Virginia. Something to do with not thinking I will ever go back there, so I do not feel like I will ever have to learn my way around. Some sort of amenesia effect. Well, I did not find her house, but as I drove down a street that I thought was her's I saw a pile of junk. At the bottom of that pile of rubbish, with Dean napping in the car seat I turned it around and pulled in closer for a look, once closer it look promising, I stopped the car , opened the door, and stood up and moved in closer, instead of instinctively closing the door, I moved to the hatch back door unlock button. I could see that this dive was worth taking. It turned out to be an OUTBACK aluminum frame, no rear wheel, but a nice XTR/XT mix. Everything is rusty and crust, but in good enough condition to meld with lisa's bike for a step up. The shock still had nice action, even if the headset was fused with rust in place. Today at Home Depot while grabbing some wood for the deck I also grabbed some powder pink spray paint, it was called rose something, but it was still the best of what was available.

this bike is definitely a keeper
and I have room for it as I took a handful of the other bikes that I rescued in the same fashion to Chain Reaction (as well as giving a mess of stuff to career courier Scotty as well)

in addition to dumpster diving I also make foolish purchases at yard sales, garage sales, thrift stores...friends of friends, coworkers...I can not pass up good deal...
although you rarely know it is a good deal until you get it home or until you pass on it
so I do not risk passing on it


onto the other idiot box

6.05.2004

6.04.2004

The Pope

Until the Pope can get his priests to keep their hands off little boys (and off each other or any other man/boy that falls victim to their priestly ways, after all there is a certain vow of celibacy) I think he should keep his opinions on the US and the modern world to himself.

Another perspective...The Pope is old as is my grandmother....their views of the modern world are not dissimilar, heck, I am shocked by the behavior of modern society, but Girls Gone Wild is what freaks me out, not legal abortions or same sex marriages. Not only is the Pope old and sharing the conservative views of many of his same cohorts, but he is also of another culture, a more conservative old world culture.

Article on the Pope's comments

there was this guy who once said..."let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
and then some lesser unknown person said, "people in glass houses should not throw stones"
that is a lot of stones being thrown around and some that should be blocked or withheld
maybe it would be easier if people just stood in front of the mirror, took a good look, and then policed themselves for a little while, the church included

once I ask my teacher Sister Columkill about a priest and some of his human imperfections she replied, "thou shall not touch god's anointed ones"
that statement worked for a 6th grader, but now I would have to say that yes, priests are allowed to have humanly imperfection, but being a priest does not put them above the law; whether that law be of the church or the state

no way to bring this one back to the bike, but I will share this with you

Sister Columkill was an Old Irish Nun who taught at Our Lady of Lourdes school in Bethesda. She was an odd mixture of gentle and strong. Her skin looked soft as if it had grown in the misty Irish country side, her garb was the classic black dress and black nun habit, she wore black shoes, and glasses shaped like a cats eyes. She was a strange, mysterious, old woman, her age was unknown, somewhere between 55 and 155 years of age. Sister Columkill had eyes in the back of her head, there was not a trick that she missed. She was a quirky old bird with a passion for education. Her mathematics classes were unmatched. She turned it all into a game. There were competitions and fun mnemonic devices, no chance of sleeping in her class, and less chance of not learning. She was dedicated to the core.

I can not recall the whole limerick, but here is what I can retrieve....

How many kids could Columkill kill, if Columkill could kill kids?
that sentence seemed longer when I was a child. It seemed clever and true. It had a myth and legend that seemed to be as old as she was. As much as all the students fear(and thought they hated) the nuns, everyone was sad to see them go.