Tuesday, September 23, 2008


My friend Mark from Purgatory Bikes let me borrow one of his downhill bikes for a little while.

Its called the "Harry Knuckles" and has 10inches of active rear suspension travel with a floating rear brake caliper and an isolated drivetrain. The Marzocchi Shiver front fork is, what, 8inches of travel?

My friends and I went up to Jiminy Peak in western Mass this past Saturday to ride. Great technical trails with lots of rocks and roots. Horrible trail maintenance. After a ride or two I figured out how I wanted the suspension dialed in (sag, compression & rebound damping, etc..) and began to feel super comfortable aboard the bike. The bike felt super stable and nimble at high speeds as I was able to throw it around some the tight singletrack they have at Jiminy. Some quotes from that day are "You've found your calling." "You should start racing DH." We will see...

I did take a good digger into a tree. Collar bone took the brunt of the impact and somehow I escaped unscathed (and I wasn't wearing any chest protection!). Did managed to crush my right foot between a tree and the bike at the same time my collar bone hit an adjacent tree. Had trouble walking that evening but everything healed up by Sunday morning.

Sunday we rode some local trails here in CT that contained some stunts. I figured out how to ride this 48.5lb bike up hills. Really only used two gears (haha. its the singlespeed nature in me) and found it more comfortable to lean forward, compress the front shock and hold it, while also pedaling. Seemed to keep the bike stable and it turned out to be a good climber.

I was following Joey into these tabletops and gaps. Used him to gauge my speed and stayed about 10ft off his wheel. Wow. I never thought I'd be going over these obstacles (I prefer riding the fallen trees to work on my balance) but it felt so natural once I had the right amount of speed and forward momentum. I still prefer just technical singletrack over 'hucking'. After all, aren't most DH courses just technical and rocky terrain with hardly any 'big drops'?

Wound up double flatting on Sunday. I hate tubes. There's a reason why I ride tubeless... I also somehow got a tad too close to a tree and shattered the front brake lever and reservoir. Old Skool Magura Gustavs are destroyed. If you have an early 2000 Magura Gustav brake lever / reservoir combo please let me know. Its the bright neon green model:

Riding this bike with just a back brake is scary. Esp since my braking is mainly 80% front and 20% rear.

This week: back to the singlespeed for some XC riding. Probably also head out on the road for an easy ride too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I love this show. Looking forward to the new season!

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Monday, September 15, 2008

change of plans

As you may have noticed I just got to finalizing my blog entries about SSWC08. That was closing in on a month ago!

Well, I caught a viral infection in my sinuses thanks to flying home in yet another 'death tube'. Seems I can't fly anywhere lately without getting sick. 7 days to get it. 7 days with it and now I'm working on 7 days to get rid of it. Finally feeling better and not coughing up all kinds of multi-colored phlegm. I can also sleep through the night now without waking myself up from coughing.

As a result, I skipped out on racing the last race of the Michaux series this past weekend. Sucks. I wanted to do that race too.

I also had a wedding to attend to for a really good friend of mine Labor Day weekend. That drive me away from attending the Shenandoah Mtn 100. Plus, the drive to finish 4 races wasn't there so I never opted to fly back out to Cali for the Tahoe/Sierra 100. Plus, I had some virus reaping havoc on my insides.

Not feeling well, and doing nothing but resting, got me to really think what the rest of this year is going to be like. La Ruta was in the plan. My travel partner, and fellow compadre', TimmyD is dealing with a few medical issues on his own front. Needless to see La Ruta was not looking promising. Got me thinking about why I do all of this stuff. Why? I ride my bicycle and race because it is fun. It is fun traveling to and from venues with friends. It is fun hanging out before and after the race with friends. It is fun sharing like, and dislike, experiences about said ride/race with friends. I do this because it is fun. I do not do this because "I have to".

As a result, La Ruta quickly started looking like something that was not going to be fun. Granted, your definition of 'fun' and mine may not be the same. La Ruta 2008 began looking like the following:
1) sharing a hotel room with some random person I do not know
2) 'racing' to happy hour for what? To enjoy it by myself and with people I do not know?
3) doing everything before and after each stage without joking around and sharing some laughs with some friends I traveled all that way down there with?

So, I've decided not to go to La Ruta this year and use that week of vacation time from work for other fun. Looking forward to some epic rides in PA with the Michaux/Jim Thorpe crew. Possibly thinking of heading down to take part in the SWANK 65 with ThomP. I think I am also going to try my hand at a few cyclocross races with good friend Matt@Ghostship.

Needless to say I just want to ride my bike(s) and explore some new places to ride with my friends.

sswc08 - day four

Monday. The day after the race and fun. Skyline Park is a ghost town. Guess everyone went home Sunday night.

Took my leisurely time packing up and hit the road to meander down to San Francisco. My flight wasn't until 10pm so I had plenty of time to check out the coast.

Here is my recap of day 1

Here is my recap of day 2

Here is my recap of day 3

SSWC08 'official' blog:

Here is an article in the NY Times about SSWC08

Swobo's blog about SSWC08

Here is an article in the Mountain Flyer Magazine

Here are a bunch of photos I've found:




TONs of photos here:

There are a lot more. Check out the Flickr Group Page here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/sswc08/

sswc08 - day three (race day)

Awoke to the campground filling up with a couple hundred singlespeed racers. Fired up the stove for some oatmeal and hung out chatting with a few people here and there.

10am we’re starting to gather for what will be the 2008 SingleSpeed World Championship mountain bike race. A few individuals that didn’t have an ‘entry’ arrived. Curtis had a little game for them: go run out and back around the horse corral. First one back gets an entry. That was enjoyable to watch. Upon return Curtis let everyone into the race. We then had to go stash our bikes on the other side of the field for what would be a ‘le-mans’ style start.

At some point the race actually started. The start was loosely arranged and went off well after 10am. I, personally, had a mediocre start. We had to run maybe a mile around a horse corral and through a field to our bikes. I opted to follow the Swobo guys and run against the majority of the traffic (500peeps) to spice it up a bit. After all, the name of the weekend was chaos and fun. If you didn't finish the race in 1st place no one cares.

I Spy Team Dicky. You can't miss that green fork.

(photos above borrowed from Steve Makin)

Got to my bike and was in the congo line trying to get into the singletrack. The first lap (out of 3) consisted of a nice long climb (in the sun) up an ATV-wide gravel path. You were packed in like sardines so if the guy infront of you fucks up you're screwed. I immediately noticed I had a much easier gear than everyone around me for I was able to pedal comfortably and everyone else was struggling. Off the gravel road onto a very steep rocky climb. Everyone was walking so this was my opportunity to run past people. Hard right onto some awesome, fast, singletrack. That took us up to the top of the climb and then we descended a fast switchback descent. I immediately noticed the guys infront of me couldn't descent worth a shit so I had to take the hairier and more challenging routes through the rocks and around the switchbacks to pass them.

Coming out onto the bottom of the gravel road and onto a singletrack climb (this marked the beginning of every other lap, the gravel road climb was only done on the first lap).

Up the singletrack climb and I was feeling really good. Rode just about all of it and passed a few people when I could. Caught up to a lot of my east coast peeps and passed them (have typically been behind them in races this season). Then we did some more climbing and looped around the backside of the park (around Lake Marie). Enter the rocky switchbacks.... I had a blast and was passing even more people here since I'm so used to riding rocks here on the east coast. Spectators galore looking for blood and cheering you on if you cleared it all. They'd suggest lines that were most likely the harder ones. I took all the hard lines and showed-off a bit. Noticed the rear wheel was hitting the rim on a few rocks. Gonna regret letting some air out for climbing traction...

Through two big sweeping turns and onto a little ATV gravel road back to the field we started at. Through the field, through the start/finish, lots of people watching. I felt great and kept passing everyone. Might as well ride well when I'm feeling good. Starting lap 2 and back onto that singletrack climb we did on lap 1 (after the prologue loop to weed everyone out). Motored up that climb yet again. I get to the top which was crossroads and my friend who was watching told me my buddy Dicky was just up ahead. I caught him a few turns up the trail and we finished lap two together hauling ass passing people like it was our job.

(photo: Andrew Brooks)

Finished all my food and my waterbottles by the end of lap two. Lap three is going to hurt! I also pulled away from Dicky and climbed a bit slower up that first singletrack climb. I felt the muscle fatigue and twitches coming so backed off the intensity a bit. Made it up the climb but Dicky wound up passing me at some point. I had him in my sights and was only a few seconds off of his wheel. The back half of the course, with all the rocks, is where things fell apart on lap 3. I burped my rear wheel on a rock (popped the bead and lost some air). Had to pull over and pump up my tire with my CO2. All my east coast peeps passed me. Damn. I had a good gap on them too.

Back on the bike and some more climbing to the rocky descents. Muscles are in a lot of pain right now so climbing is slow-going. I'm holding my own but not catching up the guys that passed me on my first flat. Dicky was long gone. Fuck. I successfully make it through the rocky descents and had my groove back going into those last two big sweeping turns. A huge sweeping left to a huge sweeping right to the ATV trail to the field to the finish. I had that left turn laid completely out pushing the bike through the turn and was at the mercy of the corners of my tires holding traction. Once you successfully negotiate a turn like this you've reached pure bliss. It is so much fun. Well, I was down so low that my sidewall caught a rock and the rock ripped a good hole in my tire. Instant deflate. It was so much of a shock that I almost high-sided the bike. Had to put the inside foot down and kind of slide the bike out to stop.

Fuck. No more C02 but I do have a tube with me. A nice rider gave me her pump and I went to work. First order of business was to remove the tubeless valve core. Fuck. I gorilla'd this thing on and couldn't get it off. I was probably also sitting in Poison Oak (all over the course). A spectator and I worked to get the valve core off but it wasn't going to work unless I had a Leatherman Tool. After many minutes of fucking around and watching many, many racers pass me I gave in. Fuck it. I can run through this singletrack and then I can ride the gravel climb and ride the field. I'm doing it. Tire still on the front wheel to protect the rim (but completely flat) I set off to get to the finish. It was a short 2-3 miles away if that.

Rode up the gravel climb. Passed a person or two. Drew lots of attention from the spectators seeing that I'm riding with a flat front tire and the front wheel is SO loud on the gravel. Came down the slight descent and started feeling good. Guess I had a handle on how the bike behaved (I was also leaning way back to off-load the front wheel). Wound up riding off course because I couldn't make the turn. Back on the bike, across a road and into a field. Sweeping right to sweeping left. I made it through the right but picked up speed and my front wheel washed out in the left. I went tumbling and rolling on the dead grass for 20-30ft. Got some nice road rash all up and down my left arm.

Here's the short descent I was wheelie-dropping the water bars with a flat front tire. I think this is Travis Brown

Back on the bike. Down a little gravel road, up a little incline to a big left turn. Look over my shoulder and people are gaining. After this left turn was the start/finish so I buried myself and sprinted to the finish (with a flat front tire). Beat that group of riders that were gaining on me.

Thanks to my flat tires I finished around 150th (3-3.5hrs). Dicky finished 68th so that is where I anticipate I should have been. Right where I wanted to be too, top 100 and top 75. Oh well, some days you're on and other days things fuck up. I haven't had any tire problems at all this year until this race. Figures too since I felt awesome and better than I have all summer. My wheel is perfectly fine. I had one little dent that I pulled out and was able to seal some new tubeless tires on it Tuesday night. Spins true and rode well last night. Thumbs Up

Lots of costumes. Lots of heckling by the spectators. Lots of cheering by the spectators. It was the spectators that helped give us that little push to muscle through things. I haven't been to a race that had that many spectators before. Not even the national NORBA races (attendance is very low). As Dicky said 'I'm conserving energy when no one could see me and riding my ass off when the spectators were there.' Curtis Inglis put on a great event. Thank You!

sswc08 - day two


Stayed at Nic’s in town Friday night. Got up early and got my stuff together and found a Whole Foods for some groceries. The next two nights I will be camping up in Napa.

Saw my car in the city. Well, the hardtop version (I have a convertible). And the same color too!

Slowly made my way up towards the Skyline Park campground in Napa (whilst listening to some bearing). This is where the festivities would take place. Arrived somewhere mid-afternoon. Ran into Travis and Lisa. They just got back from a ride on the ‘course’. Said hello to DeJay, Fuzzy and Buck. Wandered over to pick up my number plate (a very nice paper plate written in crayon) and other misc stuff. Then got the bike together to head out on a ride of the ‘course’.

I had a 32x19 for riding on the east coast and around San Fran. Decided to bump that up to a 32x20 for Napa. I also cleaned the bike up a bit and ‘she was all set to go. Decked with the latest BKB garb, ready to kill some dreams, I headed out for a nice spin to see what Napa Valley (and California) mountain biking is all about.

First impression: A lot more climbing than I anticipated, however the 20tooth was working well for me. Ran into Fuzzy along the way and he kind of played ‘host’ and ‘tour guide’ as I tagged along with him. He and Dejay arrived earlier in the week so they’ve been riding the area for a few days now. Climb up this beautiful singletrack ascent. Climb up that beautiful singletrack ascent. Descent this narly meandering singletrack (lots of tight switchbacks) and repeat some more. All in all, it was quite fun but most of the course was exposed to the sun which made for a hot ride. I quickly figured the 21tooth cog would be better suited for a race that consisted of three laps of what I just rode. The 20tooth worked well but I knew it would hurt a lot with some fatigue. So, the 21tooth it was for race day.

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out with the NC Pisgah crew amongst others. Late afternoon / early evening was the decider for the 2009 SSWC. Four gents stepped up to the plate:
One individual from the Phoenix Arizona area
One individual from Paris, France
‘Doom’ from Durango Colorado
‘Fuzzy’ representing the New Zealand peeps

Curtis made it be known that 2009 would be decided through a round of bowling at the local Napa bowling alley. Saddle up! We’re riding into town to take over the bowling alley (and town). Many of us mounted up and rode the few miles into town. It was such a cool thing, seeing so many cyclists riding and having a good time. We overtook that bowling alley including half the parking lot filled with singlespeed mountain bikes.

Durango (aka: “Chainsaw”) came out hard from the gate setting some high points (many, many strikes). While sporting the Denver Bronco’s trucker hat and a John Elway jersey. Fuzzy was in hot pursuit with Paris a bit a-ways and Phoenix holding on for dear life. Part-way through the round Paris broke out the Nacho Libre’ mask and popped his pink polo shirt’s collars up ala: Gotti-style. This brought about even more participation from us spectators through the channels of heckling and cheering on. More pins fell. Durango would have none of that! As a result the Elway jersey disappeared for the remainder of the round.

Once all 10 frames were bowled it was Durango taking the win with Fuzzy right behind. That was not the end. Curtis had one more trick hiding in his mustache…. Final, Final decider via a head-to-head game of Miss Pac-Man. We all mosied over to the arcade in the bowling alley and watched ‘Chainsaw’ and ‘Fuzzy’ go at it. I think this was the best part, partially because I had front-row seats. Haha. In the end, ‘Chainsaw’ beat out Fuzzy. Durango Colorado it is for 2009!

‘Ohio’ Rob and I rode around town a bit jumping from party to party and found our way to a bike stack-up at one of the local watering holes. Sometime thereafter we headed back to camp. At some point that evening I grabbed my thermarest and sleeping bag and laid out under a tree to go to sleep. I slept so well that evening.