South Baldy Hill Climb Race report

Thus beginnests the 2007 mountain style bicycling series.

Race number one of the new mexico off road series was the "Tour of Socorro" omnium. Consisting of the South Baldy Hill Climb on Saturday 4/21/07 and the Cerillos de Coyote xc race on Sunday.

Socorro is a mere three hours from Los Alamos via the coche and about as far as one likes to travel the day of the race. As such, I have a special relationship with the socorro races having done their very memorable fall race in 2004 and having done the triple flatted wind and fireroad suckfest last year. In two races and 60+ miles of racing in socorro I have flatted four times and had some sort of horrible stomach bug inducing a very memorable night in the socorro motel 6 . However something compelling keeps bringing me back there. I suspect it is the excellent brew pub in town, but I am not sure...

Anyhow, Saturday's hillclimb starts at noon, so Elena and I leave Los Alamos around 7 so we have plenty of time to get there. The drive goes pretty smoothly for the first couple hours until somewhere just south of albuquerque I hear some horrible noise coming from the car and pull over to see the best Socorro related flat yet:

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Yeah thats a 100+ dollar car tire with less than 3000 miles on it. I think I hit some debris in albuquerque that started a slow leak culminating in the tire riding the sidewalls at 70mph resulting in this multiple puncture flat:

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Anyhow. I suck at car things. I hate working on cars, I am not a huge fan of driving. Elena is a pretty sharp car mechanic. BUT, I am proud to say, I am damn near NASCAR proficient in changing flats due to persistent rotten car flat luck. I estimate I am averaging a flat per 9000 miles driving, which is probably about what I get on my road bike...

After 15 minutes or so, we were on our way, me in a decidedly sour mood. We got to the race site in Water Canyon just outside Socorro with plenty of time, I registered, changed and got ready to rumble.

The race today would involve some 8.3 miles climbing with just under 4000 feet elevation change, topping out at 10,600 feet. The race details are here, including course profile
. As a bonus the course ended up above the new Magdelena Ridge Observatory and they were offering tours after the race. Being a big race and science geek I was becoming happier. Also happier was that the road that we were racing up is well graded and Elena was able to drive up to the top in our Golf so she could see the race ending and the observatory as well.

I will intersperse photos I took while we were driving down, I noticed very little on the way up as I was deep in the pain cave, but it was quite pleasant to see the route and views.

about 5 miles from race start on the way to water canyon. We climbed up to the left
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The race started in waves about 5 minutes apart. Pros-experts-women-sports and singlespeeds- and finally beginners. There were about 110 racers on the line, which is a pretty great turnout for a NM event. There were 12 singlespeeders at the start as well, also pretty great. The course is a fireroad that, due to the new observatory, seems to be graded weekly as it was completely free of braking stutter bumps. It had an average 9% grade. The weather is really cool for Socorro, say high 40's low 50's, overcast and very windy.

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Here is a mile by mile summary of my race.

Mile 0-1:
Hard start, got away in a front group of 10 or so including a couple single speeders, a couple of guys on cross bikes and a few mountain bikers. There are a few attacks by the cross bikers, with chase downs and regroupings. I am running a 34-20 on 26 inch wheels. It is pretty good. I am working pretty hard but feeling good and able to follow the attacks.

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Mile 1-2:
The group is winnowed a bit. Two cross bikers (jamie ryanwhite and ??), one Mtber (aaron), and 2 single speeders (Me and Ray). Ray is a strong rider with a bigger gear than me. Jamie pulls a look around and roadie attack from the back and blows us all apart. He disappears up the road followed by aaron. Cross biker #2 (I think he is actually on a Tomassini road bike with cross tires) and I are grinding along. Ray implodes and is not seen again. We start to catch the end of the womens field by mile marker two.

Miles 2-3:

Crossbiker number two is gapping me, but I look back and see NOOOOOO one. I feel good. I am winning the single speed catagory. By alot. I am slowing a bit, but still moving along steadily. So I am feeling really good. I ride along a bit and then I hear talking. Two guys on single speed 29'ers ride by me, side by side. They gap me slightly and then a bit more and settle in 100meters up the road, just out of reach.

You can see the course way way below on the left
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Miles 3-4:

Ouch. Pain. Ouch. The grade is steeper, the road a bit looser, the winds higher. No one is near me. The two other singlespeeders are just up the road, appearing and hiding around the switchbacks. I am hurting. My speed starts dropping below 5 mph, which is dropping me below 40 rpm. I walk when I hit 4mph. I cross back on. Ouch ouch ouch. Then it starts to snow.

Miles 4-5:
The course settles in. The switchbacks still suck, but not as steep. I am carrying one waterbottle in my back pocket and it is about 1/4 full. I ride almost the whole mile. I feel like I can do this and am closing in a bit on the two guys up front. Still riding side by side. Snow patches appear on the side of the road. i am approaching 9000 feet. I am catching some of the experts that started 10 minutes a head. Perhaps one of the sport guys I started with has caught me and we are yo-yoing.

view down to switchbacks way below
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Miles 5-6:

Uh, more pain. I walk a bit in this mile, but I am moving pretty solidly and feeling better. No more snow from the sky, but it is getting pretty damn cold and windy. I am yo-yoing madly with two geared guys.

odd snow curl formations on the side of the road
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Miles 6-7:
I feel pretty good and am hauling the two guys up front in. This is a pretty easy mile in the middle with some false flats, I am cruising. It kicks up toward mile 7 but I pour it on trying to get back into it. I am at the edge of vomiting and bonking and almnost completely out of water but still hauling along.

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Mile 7-8:

As we start to come out of the trees to the bald of South Baldy there are spectators at the sied of the road, with a cooler and are holding lred cans of tecate. Want some beer? Why yes, yes I do thanks. I grab a can, take a long pull and hand it back to the kind soul. Best tasting beer consumed mid race, beating the previous record of the rainy year I did sea otter. I feel mildly refreshed am up above 10,000 feet and heading toward the finish. Unfortunately the two single speed guys up front seem to have noticed me closing and they have taken off. The last mile is one big sweeping left hand turn that is free of trees and visible the whole way. It is very cold. I am not feeling great, but I clean the last mile handily as the end is near.

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Mile 8.

Ah sweet relief, there is the observatory, I am done... Whats this? Another switchback and up a gravelly snowy steep bit for another half mile? Why? There is no one near me. I am near no one. Surely the results won't change.

Me embarking on somewhat gratuitous push to the summit
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I am pooped and can't ride it. It is loose rocky and snowy. So I power hikeabike up to the top, and hop on for the last 200m and ride up to the very tip top of baldy. It is cold as crap and very very windy. I quickly put on my vest and head down to the observatory. On the way down, my hands and fore arms cramp and I am shivering. It is blowing hard. I find out it is 28F with gusts up to 60 mph and wind chill of 7-12F. Right on!

Frozen Tarik returns from his successful summit bid
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Windspeed and temperature at the observatory at the end of the race
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I finally get to the observatory and Elena is there with the car and warm clothes. There is hot tea, chocolate and food. All the racers are crowded in. Some of the skinnier females are hovering on the edge of hypothermic. The race organizers hand out garbage bags and dry shirts for those who missed the clothes drop. The observatory has a three bedroom two bath living area with a nice operation room and lounge.

Bag enshrouded frozen racers warming in the ops center
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Lounging post race in the lounge
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We get the tour of the MRO. Good stuff. The dome can rotate at 17 degrees/minute which is much faster than the typical 1 degree/minute that observatories have. This is so it can track asteroids, satellites, missles and aliens. It has a Hubble telescope "reject" mirror 2.4 meters in diameter which actually was better than the one that is on the Hubble. The mirror, being made for zero G use had an elaborate system of strain gauges and air pocket that can help it keep its shape as its orientation changes.

Me and the mirror up in the dome
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Elena and me in the dome
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Elena braving the wind at the top, 50-60mph gusts
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Loading the bike for the drive down
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A "view" toward the mountains on the way back down
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After the race, we headed back to the motel 6, got some food and drink at the brewing company and then headed to the coffee shop on the square for the awards. I over heard Issac, the guy who won the single speed division discussing whether he would be attending the prom tomorrow. Prom? Turns out he is 16. Damn! I finished in 22nd overall in the men out of 91 finishers. results here

Issac and I getting our medals
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The real deal:

Thats about it for the epic lengthed hill climb report. Stay tuned for a shorter report of the XC race on sunday. Sheesh...


Odd local formations

In response to disbelieving comment on the Camel Rock photo, here are a bunch more pics of some local rock formations. All in Los Alamos on the pueblo canyon-firebreak-rodeo something something loop. All photos are by Scott. I think these were summer 2005 as I am so skinny looking.

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Did I just blow your mind?
Well how bout this:

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Yeah, hard boulder over soft rock plus erosion equals tent rock formations.

How bout this?:

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Ancient wagon wheel ruts in soft Bandelier Tuff rock starts the party and then years of hikers and bikers and erosion complete it. Cleanable, and lets just say, for example, that I did...


The good part of last weekend

It seems that the tree stab wounds are getting smaller and the bruises are growing larger and more colorful, I even went hit a short climby singletrack loop afterwork today and I felt pretty good.

So here are some photos of the ride on down to Santa Fe on saturday.

Taken while riding, me in front of Gabriels on the frontage road with the Santa Fe ski hill and santa fe baldy in the background:

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Taken while riding, me and the rock that gives camel rock casino its name:

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Not all the taken while riding pictures came out so well, but I liked this blurry sun picture so I share:

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I enjoyed the postride eating of sandwiches and coffee with elena at the Perscription Coffee house downtown. As I arrived I noticed a woman enjoying her coffee with her large sulfur crested cockatoo. The woman was half asleep, and the bird was all the way there. And the bird was wearing a fetching red jacket. I wimped out and did not take a picture. I did not want to angrify the cockatoo as they are mean and bitey.

Here is the nice courtyard with my bike and a really nice Bob Jackson touring bike:

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A blurry picure of the touring bike, possibly belonging to one of the coffee slingers:

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See last entry for the story.


Good and bad bike weekend.

Some pics later, but sometimes biking goes all wrong, or all right.

On Saturday I biked my buttocks down from the Alamos to Santa Fe. I was delighted to find that it was exactly 2 hours and 36 miles, not the 45 I was expecting. The ride starts at my house at 7200 odd feets and hits just below 6000 at the rio grande crossing and then crests above 7000 feet at the city limits before dropping back down into Santa Fe at just below 7000 feet. It was a good road ride. A very nice antidote to the very cold snowy morning that dawned in Los Alamos after a full day of snow on friday.

The first 10 miles are a very fast downhill, followed by 10 miles of rolling terrain and then a nice grind upward for 10 miles with the last 6 or so punctuated by little walls before getting to caffeine and food in downtown Santa Fe. I had done this rides in bits and pieces before, but never all at once. Good stuff. Like I says, pics soon. I was a bit undernourished for this ride, but I held it at the edge of bonking for the last 10 miles or so, including attacking the Mur de Bishops Lodge and the Mur de Santa Fe CityLimits on the way to my stunning solo victory on the ronde van santa fe.

Delightfully I was able to witness a pickup truck getting pulled over by the coppers just after buzzing me north of Tesuque Village. I am not sure why he was pulled over. I am almost certain it was NOT because he violated the 5 feet passing zone rule in NM, but it was cool nonetheless. Instant Karma

Elena met me in Santa Fe, we grabbed a nice lunch and coffee at Garcia st. and then visited the hipster shop, new of a nice BRAIN write up, and got a stylee evil cycling hat. We donated some paychecks to the whole paycheck and returned via the auto on home for a nice dinner.

Ok, Ma you can stop reading here.

Today, sunday, dawned pure and sunny with a steadily rising thermometer. After the eggses breakfast and proper caffination, I took the MTB up the nasty Quemazon hillclimb, with the intention of hitting the up Quemazon, down pipeline and around perimeter and on home loop.

I did the first half of the Quemazon trail climb smoothly and then near disaster struck. I nearly pulled a Herbert (for you knoxvillans). As I crested a small rise with a sweeping right hand turn, I was focused on the trail ahead, ignorant of the burnt and half fallen Aspen tree pointing directly up the trail. I did not see it at all. I just felt it as it pushed into my left shoulder a bit, broke, pushed in more, broke and then did it again. Ouch.

At this point the ride was no longer better than a poke with a sharp stick, it was exactly on par.

All told, my jersey was not ruptured and I did not seem to be bleeding much. I took stock, moved the offending 15 foot long spear off trail and thought a bit. I was exactly 2.5 miles from home, 2 miles from the hospital and still in cell range. Pretty good considering.

The bad is that I was alone and up a fairly gnarly hill climb from the trail head. My shoulder hurt a bit, there seemed to be a bit of a puncture, but again, no bleeding, I had full range of motion and I felt I could ride. So I rode on down the trail. It was steep and rocky and slow going, but I took no chances and cleaned the eazyklean sections and walked the rest. Just keep moving and I will be OK I thought. My stomach was hurty, but I was not in shock. My shoulder hurt but I was sitting at home a mere 30 minutes later surveying the damage.

Damage was one slightly bloody jersey sans holes, one swolled up 5 mm deep puncture, one big scratch/bruise and one mini tree bite mark. Good thing it was a brittle burnt dry tree, or I fear it would have been pretty ugly.

I cleaned it well, dressed it and decided I did not need another emergency room trip. So we went off to a neighbors house warming party. It was alright.

We bailed out a bit early so I could watch Paris Roubaix on the TV. The depths of the bad bike day was revealed as I turned on VS and saw a hockey game in the first quarter. Turns out the TV schedule was on east coast time putting me 2 hours late for the start of the festivities. Crap. No obvious rebroadcasts either. Crap.

Now the bicycling day is officially worse than a poke with a sharp stick.


April 13th, 7:30 am

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mini movie review GRINDHOUSE

At some point in 1995 at a double feature of The Doom Generation and something forgettable at the UC theatre in Berkeley I fell head over heels in love with Rose McGowan. So, it is pretty inconceivable I would not like a movie featuring Rose McGowan as a Go-go dancer/machinegun-prosthetic amputee/zombie killer. Just so you know my preconceived notions.

That said, the movie was freeeking awesome. All the fake previews and intersticies were spot on. The Planet Terror first part is the pinnacle of the current resurgence in zombie movies. The Deathproof part started slow and then built up to the point that elena and I were yelling YEAH with our arms up in the air as the movie concluded.

Good stuff. See a much more indepth and better written review over at Chris Knipp's joint.

If zombie/slasher/car chase flicks are not your bag, skip it.


Fold Ork!

Ok, Jimg here you be.

Here is the fork in better times (2005 pajarito punishment race):

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The deceased:
Whole fork

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Nifty low rider and fork mounts. Kelly whipped this one up for me when I was leaving california, I think I got it in late 2000 or early 2001. It did exclusive duty as my MTB fork from 12/2001 until 3/5/2007. I was going to customize a double mounting for a Paul's rack back in aught one, but never got around to it. It did not ride great loaded up front. Something something trail...

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The cracked area from afar, left fork leg, running around midway of the front leg, toward the back. Powder has been removed to look at crack. Rust is from nasty winter commuting with crack in the paint.

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This gives you an idea of what it looked like (the left, still painted side) when I noticed it. It still was not this obvious, there was a thin thin line of rust along the weld there. It just looked like a slightly rusty long crack in the paint only, the give away was how long it was. It was hard to see among the winter commuting slush, dirt and salt spray.:

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Here is what happens when you use a vice to squeeze the dropouts about 20mm closer together. This can not happen when you are riding as the hub is in there, but it sure looks extra nasty:

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I am not really sure how this one started. If I had to guess, there was an undercut or wonky weld bit in the center of the crack and it propagated over the last year. I am pretty certain it was not detectable last year at this time when I was getting the bike ready for '06 racing.

Lots of dumb races and crashes int the last year, and the last 6 of hard riding and racing. I got my money's worth out of this fork. In addition to numerous over the bars type crashes, there was one memorable wipeout during the pajarito punishment that could have been a good starting point. I think I rode the front wheel in sliding mode sideways about 50 feet downhill before I finally went over the bars. But really, for 5/6 years, I am pretty pleased. The fork could have been bent/buckled/torked any number of ways in crashes that were avoided or not.

The lesson, check the equipment fairly often. Winter is helpful in introducing rust so you can see the crack. Winter is frustrating as it hides cracks amongst slush salt and dirt. The same thing happened with beakham, no joke, that GIANT crack was hidden below over half an inch of encrusted ice dirt and who knows what.


Few Nork!

I cracked the rigid fork on my MTB, so I got me a shiny new one. A nice fillet brazed unicrown from rick hunter. He does really nice work. I would have loved to get one of his archy forks, but I discovered the crack a mere month before the first race, so I took what he had hanging on the wall.

I have a few rides on it so far and it seems really nice. A slight bit lighter and a slight bit flexier (in the comfortable way) than my old Kelly fork. We shall see how it holds up, but so far it seems pretty great. I laced up a new front wheel for it for the upcoming season so it can ride in style.

The kelly fork bit it after 6 hard seasons of use spanning TN and NM. Lots of stupid racing and riding on it. Drink a beer in its honor...


Dammit, What are you doing

to save the Pacific NW tree octopus?

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I am telling you about it so you can go do something.

Go! Do! Something!


March update

Here is the March motion update.
280 miles biking, a big 10 running.
100% commuting.
I was able to ice skate once on the 1st of the month, which was the last day the rink was open this year. Three cross country skiing days as well, before it all got mooshy.

I will, next month, post some sort of bar graph or some such showing the different bike tallies on the year, but this month is still pretty boring, almost all the Jan/Feb mileage was on the mountain bike. So for this month 28 miles on the one speed mtb in the first week of march, then I had a bad day where I noticed that the fork was cracked and I managed to shred the rear studded tire and had to walk two miles home. Bad day. Anyway, I ticked off about 100 miles each on the road and fixie, 50 or so on the breeze.

The yearly mileage is up to 584.

Yearly run milage is a comical 28. The forcast is crappy for the duathlon, I may just do the "little boy" wimpy one, rather than the outrageously for the early season "fat man" one. Or I might just go race the mtb somewhere else. Bah. Run.

I was a bit lazier than anticipated on the weekends, but overall pretty good year thus far. Much of the milage was commuting, but now that the time has changed I have been hitting a few stretch out the commute home rides. A few nice road rides on the weekend. Yay bike. I anticipate a 400 mile month this month as I panic and over train for the mtb and other races at the end of april. Stay tuned.


Pallet playpen

I spent a couple hours making a little playpen for the composting.

I planned to make a double pen out of 7 pallets with two swinging doors but it turns out pallets are really big and only 4 fit in the car, so a single should be more than enough. The local hardware store had some free ones. I recommend hunting around for some smaller ones if they still make 3'x3' ones.

Before I started we had a nice little snowstorm.

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The apricot flowers seem OK, despite hail, rain, snow and a few 20 degree nights since the sprouted. I thought they would have all shrivelled by now, but the seem to be holding on and the bees are going crazy, so good for you apricots.

I used the "screw in as many 3" drywall screws as you can" strategy for putting the box together. It worked OK. That and 2 hinges and a latch I was the proud owner of one gigantor composting hut.

It looks like hell, but it fits in the far side of the yard and it is hard to see from the house.

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It opens so I can get in and roll around in it.

And now it is starting to be filled with coffee puckys and rotty onions. Woo!