Or maybe a sauna. I was a bit sad to find out that this was not exactly a portahobbit home. Prestocked with hobbits. The next big thing, kind of like terrestrial hairy giant sea monkeys.
Seen in crested butte over thanksgiving.
Also, I tried to shove the old Kelly into the mountainbike hall of fame, but they would not let me. Bastards.
It took a snow day to get the thing done. It had been sitting as a well cleaned, prepped, framesavered frame and fork with headset and cranks installed for about 3 weeks (possibly longer). I busted out the wheels last night, and with the assist of a couple few hours and a fair number of Anchor Steam Christmas Ales, I got it out the door and for a late night really really cold test ride.
Riding conditions ranged from snow packed roads to 4-8 inches of fresh snow in the park to rutty bits to a couple ill advised trail shortcuts that did not end badly. It was about 5F out and my face hurt. I mostly resisted the urge to ride through all my local cyclist pals snow covered yards leaving fatbike tracks. This is going to be a really fun bike.
Note the squishy blue ritchey grips which have been sitting in the box for over a decade waiting for the right bike. They are made out of smurfs. As cool as the flat bars look, I need some much wider riser bars on it. Maybe just swept back a bit.
These were some fun wheels to build.
They were a good challenge. I really like building wheels. I am also pretty darn slow, but the second wheel was a breeze compared to the first. The tricky bits was getting them dished right, the first one laced up way off in dish and truousity. the second one laced up almost dead on. Not sure why, other than I was better after building one. If you are building your own fat bike wheels I highly recommend reading the surly pugsley instructions a bunch and then figure out your spoke lengths with this handy visual calculator at freespoke double check the rim and hub dimensions, vic has a nice post that discovered some error in the large marge calcs. I found the ERD on the rolling Darryl rim is a bit different than surly's spec, but it is easy to play with the numbers and change them. I also HIGHLY recommend not using an ERD that is 15mm to big when you order your spokes. Good thing I have the Tarik's Everful Box o' Spokes at my disposal. No matter how many times you double check your calcs, if you transpose some numbers consistently you will still be wrong.
I had to press out the bushing out of a old canti brake and pair that with a beheaded M8 bolt to get the surly wheel build tool to work with the Paul hub. If I had my unimat set up, I should have just turned down the head of an M8 bolt. But one stupid project at a time. Don't worry if this does not make sense to you. It is not a common problem to have.
I can think of lots of things I would do differently. The most likely one is that I would probably have set up the disc brakes before I put the tires on. You can not get a line of sight on the caliper and pads with the tire on. Your head keeps hitting the tire. I set em up by smell. It feels good to be a gangsta.
Thanks to the Mellow Velo Fellers for helping me put together the highly personalized build kit eons before I could actually get the fat bike built. I shall now commence the riding the hell out of it.
Here is the original, watch it again and again and again...
Late the night before the race, I was sitting in front of the TV, drinking beers, watching the baseball playoffs and blogging my last race report. I noticed an email on the NM bike racers list reminding that the next day's cross race would be in Pojaque, a mere 20 minutes or so from where I sit (a mere half mile from where I was living when this blog started many moons ago). I have mostly given up racing cross in NM as the races are most often in Albuquerque and honestly I am way to lazy to drive 2 hours each way for a one hour or shorter race. However, this race was close enough to get me interested.
I thought about it a bit, finished watching the Rangers run up the score on the Tigers and then decided to race. First thought, where the hell is my cross bike? I decided it probably was in the back of the bike closet. I unearthed it from its hook and headed to the bike dungeon to give it a once over. The tires were well goatheaded from its last adventure a number of years ago. The sealant still held in the back wheel, but was not holding in the front. The tires were a bit hard as well, so I changed out the front tire and tube, picked all the goatheads out of the rear pumped it up and gave it a spin and called it good. I was running a 36-17 on the bike which seemed good as I have not been racing much lately. I spun a 16 freewheel on my pit wheels and aired them up too. I slapped some lube on the chain and checked the brakes. It was good. I love singlespeeds.
I grabbed a helmet with a light on it and went out for a late night shakedown ride. I spotted an aluminum schwinn hardtail on a junkpile destined for large item pickup, decided I did not want it. Rode around for a couple few miles getting used to the handling, and decided to go back and check out the bike again. I looked at it more carefully and noted it had shimano quick releases, a bell, an old headlight and some bmx pedals, all worthy conquests! It also had some IRC mythos slicks on it, which are not a bad tire to put on a commuter, they looked pretty new, and were aired up a tiny bit, so I pulled the bike off the pile and ghost rode it a couple blocks home. I got in just after midnight, put the bikes up and went to bed.
The Race morning I woke up late, got my gear loaded and hit the road. Got to the race site about 15 minutes later than I planned and registered quickly and noted my race was not the next one. Somehow the schedule I read online was an hour earlier than the race day schedule. The NM cross series has 2 oddly laid out websites with a third for race registration. Information is sparse and confusing at times. But the races are usually worth the hassle of figuring out where and when to show up.
The race was at the Pojaque Reservation Wellness center. I am pretty familiar with the area, having lived very near by for most of 2003-2004, but I was not sure where they would run the race. Turns out they had laid out a really fun course over the slow wet grass of the football field/track to a nice long gravel road climb and descent and then a dirt section. Lots and lots of chicanes and 180 hairpins and a couple three sketchy high speed turns thrown in. One set of double barriers on the grass and a stairway run up on uneven large stones.
I warmed up slowly as I watched the womens/masters men race unfold. I did not really get a chance to hit the course at all, but snuck on for a brief recon after the race before ended. It turns out I was not used to my cross bike at all after not riding it for so long and I had tons of trouble with the hairpins, especially the dirt ones. But no matter, I headed to the line and lined up with the 10 or so racers in the singlespeed collegiate race. 8 or so of us were on one speeds and there was one geared male collegieate racer and one geared female racer. It was really sunny and warm as our race started, we were scheduled for 40 minutes, but we were warned that they might cut it short a bit, which was fine with me.
NM has a funny cross scene. I looked over on the line next to me and noted a hot tubes lugged cross bike with bart bowens name stickered on the top tube. I look at the rider, nope, not bart. But he is a NM native and usually shows up once or twice a year to stamp his authority on the local race scene. Also I noted there was a dude warming up in the parking lot on a slick looking carbon Trek single speed cross bike with Travis Brown's name on it. Rider looked to be Travis Brown himself. Durango is a 4 hour drive, so occasionally we get special guest visitors from the Durango scene. Fortunately for me, he was planning on riding his single speed in the Cat1-2-3 race, instead of dicing it up with our anemic singlespeed field.
Anyhow, I lined up in the second row, unsure of the condition, we got a laconic, "ok go" from the official and off we went. One dude went out really hard and I looked around at the rest of the field and realized no one else would be going after him, so I rode around a couple of people in front of me and sprinted to try to get to the guy in front. I hit the grass just behind the leader and the barriers went OK considering I had not done any barriers in almost three years.
The slow wet grassy chicanes did not go so well and the leader had gapped me and a few guys behind were tight on my wheel. We then hit a stretch on the track to a short dirt section with a tricky hairpin to the stairclimb. That part went OK, then we remounted did another tricky turn and did the big gravel climb out descend back. I tried to catch the leader here and by the top of the climb I had closed in a bit. I noted the riders close behind me (all on single speed mountain bikes) dropped off a bit on the climb.
After the fast descent we hit a hard tricky right on gravel, followed by a short climb and a fast descent to a 90 turn on pavement that was pretty tight, followed by a section of chicanes and hairpins on dirt. I pretty much screwed up all these parts. The leader gapped me good and two riders were right on my tail. We transitioned back to the grass part and I further screwed up the grass chicanes, but did well on the barriers and the stair climb.
I drilled it on the gravel section and got a pretty good gap on the lone chaser and settled in. It was pretty clear at this point that I was probably not going to catch the leader, and it was clear that I was only going to be caught by the guys behind me if I kept screwing up the hairpins. I transitioned to the downhill and over to the dirt section, screwed up a bit less than before, but the guy behind me had pretty much closed the gap. When we hit the grass again, I did much better, finally trusting my bike a bit and opened up the gap a slight bit through the stairs to the start of the climb. I drilled it again on the long climb and had a ton of room behind me by the time the tricky bits started. The third time through I did pretty well all through the gravel and the grass, I hit the track and got three to go from the official and probably had a good stair run and went out to climb again.
At this point I was hot and tired and thirsty and vaguely aware that my rear tire was getting soft. There were goatheads everywhere on the course, I could only hope my sealant would hold long enough for me to finish. I was pretty sure I could hold off everyone behind me and was dead sure I would never see the leader again. So I resolved to drilling it yet again on the climb and looked back at the top, delighted to see no one even close. The rest of that lap went very well as I finally got the corners dialed through the dirt and grass. The rest of the race was only dramatic in that my rear tire was getting progressively softer.
To make my long story shorter I will say the race ended just like that. I think I actually closed in on the leader a bit once I figured out the corners, the guy behind me had pretty much thrown in the towel and I finished second in the race, second of the single speeds. Just before I got the bell, I think I pinch flatted the rear in a manner that the sealant could not deal with and lost quite a bit of pressure in the last lap. I finished with the tire damn near flat, but I barely had to slow at all.
I changed drank some water, grabbed a cowbell and cheered on the A's for a bit. When I left Travis Brown was yo yoing off the back of the lead pack in the A race, but it appears that he won in the end. The course was really nice and was quite fun. The views of the snow capped Sangre de Cristo mountains were supurbe. I am not a huge fan of separated single speed races in cross, I think they should have thrown us in with the A group so there would have been more racers in between to make it more interesting. As it was the A (cat 1-2-3) only had about 12 racers in it. But otherwise I remember why I like cross so much. I think I started cross racing 15 years ago (1996 DFL cross races and Surf City Races) and I have skipped 3 years since then, so happy dozenth season to me. I may try to hit one or two more races before season end, but I would bet on fewer rather than more...
This is totally Travis Brown. Not some cheap imitation. Real deal.
Race well run by, results posted at, and photos borrowed from Dash for life
So last friday night (10/7) my plane touched down in the pouring rain in Albuquerque at 9:40pm. I grabbed my luggage, got to my car and drove 2 hours home in more pouring rain. I pulled into my driveway around midnight just as the rain was turning to snow. I went in the house, had some leftover pizza and crashed hard.
My alarm awoke me at 7am, I got my oatmeal and coffee on. Found some runny gear and some warms, looked out at the bright cold sunny day and saw the snow line was at 7700 feet or so, my house is at 7200, the race would start at 9200 feet and go up and over pajarito mountain at 10,400. Before my brain woke up Coach K and hubby were in the driveway to pick me up.
Some freshies at the lodge pre-race
We drove up the ski hill and found the road snowy and very icy in spots. Got the lodge to find 3-4" of fresh snow. The 9am start was postponed till 9:15 to accommodate the people who had to park on the side of the road and hitch up. Mood in the lodge was apprehensive, but the turnout was excellent, especially given the weather. The race organizer, Petra, made an announcement saying she had run the whole course and the trails were completely snow packed and slippery and snow was chin deep in places. Panic ensued until we collectively realized chin and shin sound pretty similar in charming accented english.
The course is pretty similar to most of the races I suffer in on the ski hill. Up singletrack to the top (east side this time), over the very top of the mountian, and then down singletrack on the other side of the mountain. I did this race in 2009, the course was pretty similar, but the bottom half of the downhill was changed due to fire damage and possibly the snow.
I decided to not warm up at all. I wore shorts, a wool tank top, a bike jersey, arm warmers, wool socks and a visor. It was a bit cold sitting there at the start line, but it was sunny and I had 1200 feet of climbing ahead of me to get me warm. After some joking and greeting at the start line, I lined up in the second row and the gun went off. I cleverly did not go out t oo hard, nor it seemed did anyone else. I settled in to the back of the lead group as we initially descended slightly on the Aspenola trail. Course was slick indeed and the wind was kicking up making it kind of unpleasant. The lead pack stretched and spread out immediately and I settled in to around 10th place or so (probably about half were 10k runners, half were in the 2 lap-12 mile race).
As we started climbing the exposed switchbacks I felt really good, taking it easy, watching my footing but I drifted off the back of the lead group and lost sight of them pretty quickly. A group of three was closing in behind me, but I paid them no mind as there was lots of climbing left to do. I settled into a rhythm of running as fast as was comfortable and slip free on the steep stuff and opening it up when it flattened out. We went in and out of the woods and across ski slopes over aspen leaf dappled snow covered trails. The next time I looked back I saw no one close behind me and perhaps one runner off in the distance.
Further up the hill the snow was approaching a foot deep, slightly deeper in drifts and I was reduced to some sort of weird toe kick in climb on the steeper slope. It was hard going but I felt amazingly good. The runner behind me had closed in, but was clearly breathing much harder than me. I snuck a look back and was surprised to see that it was a young kid (12 it turned out). I was able to drop him as we hit some steeper bits toward the top. As we came out of the woods on the back side of the hill I could smell roasting chiles. Some of the ski hill workers were having a little barbecue overlooking the valle.
Me at the top of the mountain
The views were spectacular on the back side of the hill overlooking the caldera and the snow covered Jemez mountains. I took a few cell phone photos here and kind of lost my impetus a bit. We descended briefly and the kid caught up to me and then blasted by me as we started seeing some of the front runners come down the trail from the top. We ran up a steep singletrack scramble to the very top of the hill, looped around and descended into the field behind us. I still felt pretty good and tried to open it up on the slick trails to catch the runner ahead.
As we turned off the top loop to the descent we hit some off camber trails that traversed the ski hill. It was really hard to see where the trail really was. So I slipped badly a few times and took a pretty big fall in the first parts of the descent. Further down the hill I could see I was not the only one, all sorts of scrape marks leading down off the trail where people had biffed. Most of the descent alternated between offcamber singletrack to really steep little drops through the woods. It was insanely sketchy and really really fun.
Alas I am a pretty crappy downhill runner in good conditions, I was really crappy this day. The runner ahead of me was not seen again and two runners ran by me like I was standing still. I had many near spills a few real ones and lots of unstable foot plants. It was a blast. The further we got down the trail the more mud there was in the sunny spots where the snow had melted away. I had to stop to tie my shoe and saw two more runners closing in fast and I said basta and took off. Fortunately the trail leveled out a bit with some long straight trails. I was able to decisively drop them and close a bit of ground to the runners ahead of me.
The end of the race got a bit squirrely coming straight down the grassy snow covered ski slope toward Mother lift. I fell three times in quick succession, flat on my ass, but bounced right up and kept on rolling to the finish. I ended up finishing in 6th in the 10k race, one minute back of the kid and one of the guys who passed me on the downhill, but well back of the top three. My time was 1hour 13 minutes 15 seconds. 5 minutes slower than when I did the race two years back, but given the conditions and how good I felt during the race and afterwards, I think I was much faster. I was sore for 4 days or so, mostly in the hips and inner leg from trying to stabilze myself on the snow, but otherwise no big deal. There were nice raffle prizes at the finish, a good cookie and muffin spread for snacking on. Alas, the kitchen was not open so I was denied the traditional post race burrito. Overall 65 people finished the 10k and 25 did the two lap 12 mile race. The turnout was excellent given the crappy weather. results here.
Aida (pink hat) runs towards the cookies and beads
Aida and Elena came up to watch the finish and to have Aida run in her first race the 100 yard kids race. The kids race was great, featuring approximately 10 kids, much pushing on the start line and much excitement about post race cookies and rewards. Aida actually started running when the starter mentioned the cookies and juice post race. Fortunately there were no DQ's for the first false start and she was allowed to line up again. The race went off and she ran the whole way to the end. I am pretty sure she was torn between picking up interesting looking rocks and running the whole way, but her racing instinct held out. She ate some cookies and got a shiny orange bead necklace for her prize. She was mildly irked that her older friends ran the 1k bigger kids race too, but that was soothed by more cookies. Hurray cookies. We returned home and I took an epic nap.
She has been looking for bugs and chipmunks and squirrels. And monkeys! To take home with her. Alas, we only got bugs. She was unreceptive to the idea that there may be no monkeys to be had in the forests here. But we did see a rare Los Alamos Road runner. They usually stick to lower altitudes, but this is the third I have seen in town since I moved here. This one in the western area (our neighborhood).
Took some stuff up a couple hundred feet to a bbq at the park this past weekend.
Got some wheeled goodness to bring home.
Anyone got some spare fatbike rims (32 hole) tires and tubes they don't need? The unicycle is a vintage schwinn to borrow until I learn how to ride it. The pugsley is mine all mine.
Future plans may include daddy and daughter at the park on the grass while she masters two wheels and I master one.
My neighbor at the end of the block took down a pretty good sized piñon tree that was blocking the view around the corner. He also took out a juniper tree. I saw my chance, gave him a call got the blessings to go wood scavenging. I got two really heavy loads of piñon and juniper and I am pooped. Piñon is the heaviest and sappiest wood I have ever worked with, it burns hot and long and completely cruds up your chimney, but it is a NM staple. This tree was half dead and probably predated the manhattan project, but at least it will keep me warm this winter.
I did grab a few piñon nuts from a cone to see if I can get them to grow. The birds and squirrels are amazingly good at eating all the good ones. I opened a few, but they were all shriveled. I have a seedling growing in my yard that I planted a few years back. It is doing pretty well. Most of the piñon below 7000 feet in the area have died off in the last 15 years due to prolonged drought, but the few that are in town here seem fine.
The ride was less than a quarter mile to get the wood. the first load was a bit tough, the second one was half piñon and half juniper and it was a cakewalk. I probably will just walk up there with a wheelbarrow and trim the remaining branches with an axe to get some good sappy kindling.
I was able to score a small haul of cottonwood earlier this summer. Cottonwood and aspen are the anti-piñon, they burn hot and fast and clean. I think wood hauling is my favorite use for the big dummy thus far.
Including a big batch of elm that the tree owner would not let me haul off on the bike (he insisted on delivering it to my house via pickup), I probably have scored a cord or so of free wood from the neighborhood over the past few years. Good stuff.
previous wood hauling on the big dummy
Anyhow, technical soft rock trail does not really hold up to being bulldozed.
You can see some burnt trees from the 2000 cerro grande fire up in the top of the picture. The trail was a narrow doubletrack with technical bits here. Now it is pretty smooth. You can see the bulldozer track scars on the tuff rock.
Same deal as before. You can see what was individual rocks now sort of smooshed together where the tracks went. Most of the trail looks like this now. I am pretty impressed they could get a bulldozer up the steeper parts and through some of the technical section. Fortunately they went around the first technical section right near the bottom with the step in it:
But that is pretty much it for the tricky bits.
I got a pretty good look at the upper southern part of Los Alamos canyon. It either burnt heavily or was backburned. The slope is steep and completely denuded of vegetation. LA canyon goes right alongside of town. The major fire fighting effort to save town and my neighborhood was to keep the fire from spreading down the canyon. It worked. This trail bulldozing was a part of that.
The dead trees in the foreground are from the 2000 cerro grande fire which heavily damaged this trail. The south side of the canyon and the east side of the ski hill is visible and fireblackened.
Here are some pics and videos from pre-Las Conchas:
All the rocky lumpy bits are smoothish and the single track is now bulldozed width. The wagon ruts are dimished, but are still there, with overlaid bulldozer track scars. I think the few large remaining ponderosa pines next to the trail have been knocked down. There are some large bulldozed firebreak/clearings where the trail gets near LA canyon. There may have been one major reroute, but I can't really recognize much of the trail now. I will try to ride the trail this week to the top to see what it really looks like.
The good news:
1. The town and my neighborhood did not burn thanks to efforts of the fire crews, this bulldozing is part of that effort. Looks like some pretty intense burning was well within 3 miles as the crow flies of my house.
2. Most of the trail did not burn (the very top reportedly did, but I was too tired to run up there today)
3. Shoots from aspens, locust and scrub oaks are already coming back in the some of the bulldozed sections, so the trail will narrow up pretty quickly.
4. Trail work crews have already constructed waterbars on the steeper dirt parts of the trail to hopefully prevent major damage.
5. The huge aspen grove was widened a bit, but was not damaged too much. There may be shade yet on this trail. The aspens were a couple feet high when I first moved here. Now they are 10+ feet high.
Anyhow, kind of a bummer, but all told, it is still a good trail and I still have a house. So it is in the plus column in the big picture.
The Greater Los Alamos Rootsnake almost kilt me on a high speed descent on the way to work today. I saw it poised to strike. I focused on it and then swerved at the last minute in a panicked manner and almost slid out. I had seen and been startled by this very rootsnake before, but it was sleeping previously. What compelled it to raise its rooty snake head in anger I do not know.
Later this same day:
I almost punctured on a vertebrae.
I got caught in a downpour.
With bonus hail.
I got me a burrito while trailing puddles of water in the burritory.
I got caught in another downpour.
I almost got caught in a third downpour on the way home, but skirted the danger.
TV shows tiny bike men flying down the back side of the Tourmelet.
I am attempting to get Aida to watch the tour instead of shouting and singing louder than the TV.
Me: Aida, look at the tiny bike men racing down the hill
Aida: They are not racing!
Me: Yes, this is a bike race!
Me: What are the men doing then,
Aida: They are riding to the grocery store.
Me: Why are they riding to the grocery store?
Aida: To, um, to get tomatoes!
Me: All those riders are going to the grocery store?
Aida: Yes they need to get tomatoes!
Aida: Mad cackling
Then she ran away.
Either teaching by example really works, or Aida wants some tomatoes.
After a, no joke, 7 year ongoing effort to get a california poppy to flower in Los Alamos, NM. I win. The key for this one is that it was a seed that did NOT flower from a planting last year. I have tried planting in the late fall before unsuccessfully. But maybe this was close enough to the house to winter without getting too cold? Not sure. A woman down the block has them growing like weeds in her yard, she actually has to weed them out of other beds, why is she so blessed? Probably as she is right with the god. I am so not right with god, in my defense though, it said nothing about that on the back of the seed packet. I will further investigate as seasons progress. She also graciously will allow me to collect seeds from her known producers. We tried transplanting her unloved poppies to my yard, but california poppies resist transplanting and seem to even resist starting them indoors in compostable pots and then just plain old planting the whole pot in the ground.
So the new plan is to monitor the poppies planted this year to see if any succeed, and then to sow seeds in october or november this year.
That is some fairly unambiguous stuff. I need to watch the full video, they sure cut to a grimacing Tyler often for a 1 minute clip. I don't think he is a particularly credible witness what with the 5 years of denial and ruining himself defending his "honor". But I don't think people just make things up when they come clean, especially multiple years of chronic doping. Lance-y-pants is on the highway to vast conspiracyville at this point. Floyd and Tyler had millions of dollars of incentive to lie when caught doping. Not sure what all encompassing conspiracy would give them the incentive to lie now. I am sure we will start to hear more first hand doping reports come out in the next year. Lanceipants should have retired for real the first time. I think the whole Federal case against armstrong (and Barry Bonds) by Jeff Novitzky is a huge waste of taxpayer money, but due to the grand jury subpoenas that many riders received, there is big incentive for telling the truth. Hamilton appeared before the grand jury last year, I would suspect he started spilling beans then. There is at least one other (not yet caught for doping) US cyclist out there who reportedly provided first hand accounts of Lance doping to the grand jury. (see this Aug 2010 NYT article.
I wish Tyler came clean in 2006, but I was pretty sure that there was imminent confession coming down the pipe from Tyler, see the end of my last two Floydtosterone posts (1,2). Anyhow, I am now officially tired of the doping. My doping writing has been ongoing for 5 years. Which is a long freeking time. I do I am pretty sure we are in for some more confessions from prominent American cyclists who decide to confess and retire before getting caught, or at least confess their past doping. I welcome it all. I will still watch them tiny bike people, but I probably am not going to write about the doping no more. There are a sea of other bloggers doing a much better job at covering doping in pro cycling (boulder report is my favorite), and the mass media has been coming around to reasonably non-hysterical bordering on intelligent coverage of doping. My work is done.
So thanks Tyler, thanks for telling the truth, and thanks for setting the Moscalines free.
The first is from the children's book Little Pig is Capable.
While Aida seemed to enjoy the book, I found it a bit odd and disjointed. The bicycle barely features in the tale despite the prominent cover picture.
Stunning really. The frame angles are forgivable. The chain leading to the rear tire is not. The front training wheels are just confusing. Even from a stylized point of view there is little excuse for this. I imagine the author, Denis Roche, has not ridden let alone seen a bicycle in decades. This being the internet, I look forward to a response from Ms. Roche.