Friday, September 29, 2006

Interbike 2006 or Why I'm too old for red-eyes...

Just back in from Vegas this morning. Oof. While I didn't leave a lot of cash or brain cells in Vegas, I managed to leave my cell phone in a cab on the way to Lotus of Siam last night, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I got in on Sunday night and rolled out early the next morning for DirtDemo. I was planning on walking to the back of the Sands Convention Center but I saw two guys with shaved legs getting into a rental car. I talked my way into the back seat and the crazy Italians drove me out into the desert for a day of fun. These guys were great. There is only one way to drive in the US if you are Italian and that is braks-gas-brakes-gas etc. Great fun. Trying drinking coffee going from 80mph to 40mph repeatedly. I managed to not burn myself. The crazy Italians were great fun and truly good sports about my barging in on their rental car. It was a lot nicer than taking the bus and it was fun to listen to them argue when we had to get off the freeway due to an accident.

I hiked up the hill, past Tim at Masi (new 'cross bike!) and did a quick lap around the vendor booths. I ran into a bunch of old friends and ended up at Cane Creek with Paul and Malcolm. We've been working with Malcolm at Cane Creek for a few years now and they have been great to us in terms of support and product. I've always wanted to check out their double-barrel shock and this seemed to be the perfect time! They had a few Enduros and Demo 8s set up with the shocks. I've spent a good amount of time on both of those bikes so I thought that I MIGHT be able to tell a difference. Whoa. I know a few pros who have these shocks and swear by 'em but I was still surprised that I felt a difference. A BIG difference. I pride myself on being able to ride almost anything and have a good time so you might say that my expectations are low. You might also say that I don't notice if something is a little bit nicer than what I'm used to. I noticed this shock right away. It's a HUGE difference from the Fox rear shox that I have been riding for the past 6 years or so. Forget PUSH. Forget everything. These things are rad. And pricey.

That's Aden, scratching her brain. Ouch. It hurt me just watching it.

I rode the Demo 8 on the DH course and the Enduro on the long xc loop and was impressed. I also managed to ride all of the mtn bikes from Jamis. They have a few new platforms this year (and a new mtn bike product manager) so I got to spend some time on them. I wasn't a big fan of the XLT platform but this new XAM is really nice. I also liked the XCR. And the Exile 29'er. Now I managed to ride the Moots 29'er YBB and the Jamis 29'er and I'm not sold. They are fun, sure, but I still don't get it. Oh well. Let's move on.

I rode the 15" and 17" Diablo and LOVED it. The bike rides really well and pedals really well also. The bottom bracket is really low for a 7" bike (12.6") but I was into it. I'm a freak for riding Speedplays on DH bikes but I managed to pass a few guys on the way down the mtn. Without pads. Or full-facer. Heh. Me likey that bikey. I also rode the Haro 6" bike. I thought the headtube angle was a solid degree too steep and a 32mm stanchion fork with a qr on that bike is a mistake. That's just me. The rear on that thing was solid but could have been more responsive.

Monday was all fun for me as it was just social and riding. I hooked up with Lars and the boys at Trail Head Cyclery for a few runs during the day. I hit the last bus back to the hotel, had dinner and crashed out. Tuesday, I was back at it again after breakfast with Martin. More riding all day, dinner with Sheba, Martin and Darren, bad pirate show then sleepytime.

Wednesday was the beginning of inside time. I scheduled meetings all day for our core staff at Interbike. We also had some seminars to hit up and we split up when necessary. We got to look at all of the new product coming down the pipe. Here's some favorites... the Moots Snoots, built for Mike Curiak, is set up to store white gas in the fork legs and downtube. Check out the custom racks and just beautiful workmanship. And how about that 4 inch wide tire from Surly! Oh, Mike races for days on end at events like Iditabike in Alaska. Oof. Really cool bike, eh?

People asked me what impressed me about the show. What did I see that I was excited about. I have to tell you, Jon and Moots did it for me this year. Imagine the attention to detail that it takes to custom fabricate a bike that doubles as a gas tank. Think about the non-standard stuff that you would have to do for someone. Think about how expensive that would be to pull off. The boys at Moots didn't look at this as a burden, they were excited to pull it off. Think about it. You are trying to grow a business and sell lots of product so that you can feed your family. At the trade show, you SHOWCASE a bike that you will NEVER sell again. A bike that required so much one-off, custom work that there's no way that they made any money on it. The pride and joy of Moots is the fact that they CAN do this type of work. Just amazing. This is the type of philosophy that endeared me to the bike industry in the first place. Moots is keeping the dream alive. Thanks again Jon. Here's Mr. C at the demo day. I think this was the only time he managed to sit down that day.

Also new is a fit setup from Speedplay. They are putting together a little kit that has stuff to fix leg length discrep, long femur, etc plus 5 pairs of custom spindle length pedals to adjust Q factors. It will be pretty useful and we'll see it soon. They also have a new 'Easy Entry' model with a softer spring based on the Zero platform. This will be a cool pedal as they will be offering it in a few colors. Pink, red, blue, black, yellow (I think). Here's a shot of the pedal fit set up. Spare screws, LeMond wedges, extra baseplates and custom green pedal bodies. Not bad. Also shipping this week from Speedplay are the pink Zero pedals (Maglia Rosa) that were supposed to be the Basso model but we won't talk about that. I was hoping to have the Tyler model AND the Basso pedals to trade for some smack. Poor guys.

I test rode the new pedals and got a pint glass from Speedplay. I like pint glasses. Susan will be happy about that.

I hooked up with Sjoquist briefly but managed to shoot a picture of him at the Bikes Belong booth. So here's a picture of the man himself with a picture of himself with Cong. Oberstar. Also here's Martin at the DirtDemo, refueling after standing around all pasty-like in the desert. Here's the boys waiting for me at breakfast and finally the long-lost Demo 7 tattoo frame. About three minutes before I took this picture, a dude fell over right in front of me, out cold. I roused him quickly and he said that he needed the Starburst in his backpack. A buddy of mine is diabetic so I knew what was going on right away. I popped a couple of those suckers out of the pack, unwrapped 'em and handed 'em over. After he ate three or four of 'em, he looked me straight in the eye and asked,' How long was I out?' He thanked me, I hung out with him for a few minutes more and asked that he do the same for me if I ever fell over in front of him. He laughed and I went to drink beer at the Cane Creek booth.

I have more pics and a few more stories but I'm tired and I have a lot of catching up to do. Next trip is looking like a SRAM-sponsored flight out to Trail Head for some tech stuff. News on that later. Enjoy!

How could I ever forget the new stuff from Surly. Martin couldn't stay away from 'em and I knew that if he wasn't around, I could always find him there. That boy likes him some Surly.

This year brings a new frame with integrated hippy sled. Think long bike with super carrying capacity. There's no way this thing costs less than $100 to ship so don't expect it to end up near normal Surly prices. Surly + Extracycle = fun. Also, they are bringing shifting to fixed gears. Sure you have to stop, pull out a wrench, move the chain over, retension and go, but that's easier than it was before. Two cogs in one. Talk about smart. It's the best thing since toilet water. We'll be stocking these suckers fo sho.

Malcolm at Cane Creek also did a small run of custom rim colors for their Volos LE (I just made the name up) that will retail for around $750. There are only about 100 of these wheelsets made, including the supercool copper etched logo and band around the hub. And check out that rim color. It changes, man, it changes! Sapim xray spokes, I believe. Here's Malcolm showing off the new beauties.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Less Gears, More Vegas

I am in love with full-suspension bikes. That being said, I only have one. The Sworks stumpy carbon bike is rad. I enjoy it. Here's the 'but.' But I have two singlespeeds. I have been riding singlespeed bike since I lived out in San Jose back in 1998. Steel stumpy, rigid at first. When I moved back to the DC area in late 1998, I rode that thing to death. I rode it to work from Takoma Park to the League, I raced it at 24hrs of Canaan, 12hrs of Lodi, Wed at Wakefield and just rode it and rode it. My Bontrager Race Lite saw very few miles until I got my first dualie back in 2000. It was December and it was a gift from my wife. I still have the frame. Rocky Instinct. From there, I got into the Sworks stump 120 and rode that thing all last season. Starting this year was carbon 5" bike at sub 27lbs. Lovin' it. But. I rode the single at Patapsco yesterday and felt pretty good. I like the bike. It's fun. The Phil with the Lefty and that WTB Weirwolf 2.55lt up front with the Spec'd Rockster sworks tire on the back. Plus, you can't forget about the Brooks saddle. Hell yes.

I felt pretty good and managed to do a big loop from Rockburn to Morning choice over to the top of the fire road climb then all the way back along Ridge trail, across the swinger bridger, up Soapstone up to UMBC to Hilltop, river trail, bridge, Cascade to Landing Rd, parallel trail back to Rockburn. Fun. Sure, I went a little slower on the downhills, but I felt a greater sense of accomplishment and probably went faster. I'll do most of my training this Fall/Winter on that bike, methinks. Unless I get a 29'er from Jamis (hint hint!), this will be it.

By the way, it seems that most of the big boys have got their new sites up for 2007. Cannondale, Specialized, (new Sworks Enduro SL from their site), Jamis will probably launch in the next few days or so. I know they were trying to get it going late this week or early next.

Next week, I'll be posting from Vegas. INTERBIKE is the big industry trade show and four of us from City Bikes are going. I'll have some great pics (I think) and some good stories. No Marzocchi girls but maybe a picture of some product. I hear Moots has a new carbon bike that they are only showing me at the show. Whoa! OnDirt Demo is Mon/Tue so I'll be riding more new bikes at Bootleg Canyon. Diablo, Moots YBB 29'er, more time on the Demo7... Poor me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bigger, Better, Faster, More!

Oh great. I wonder what this is going to mean for us? I can't wait to blow the bead off of a rim at 120psi. People have been asking about tubeless for road for years, ever since the mtb stuff came out. Weights will be similar (if not identical) to tubed systems with the added convenience of carrying a spare tube if you get a flat. Is it supposed to be lighter? It ain't. Is it supposed to be more compliant? Open tubulars are the best riding tire (on a clincher rim) so far. Easier to mount? (Says so on the website). I doubt that something with a tighter bead seat diameter will be easier to mount. Just because you don't have to worry about a tube doesn't make it physically easier to get the tire on the rim. AND when you get a flat and need to put that tube in there on the road, when you are tired and sweaty, will be that much harder.

I'm a contrarian. It's just who I am. Stuff that I want and like gets way less criticism although I would like to think that I am kinda fair. That's human nature. If I'm proved wrong about these things (which doesn't bother me), I'll be the first one to start buying it and filling the shelves at the shop with it.

One cool thing, no doubt, is the carbon fiber bead. The kevlar was too weak (go figure) to make a lightweight tire so they had to figure something else out. Not only will that stiffer bead make it stronger, it might also find its way over to other tires. Maybe we can see stronger and lighter mtn bike tires. It would be nice to get some 29'er tires down a few hundred grams for the boys and girls out there. Hell, the dh market is always looking for lighter AND stronger. Here's hoping that Hutchinson has the presence of mind to pull this technology into other products.

Oh, and the new Rock Shox Totem forks have dropped in. They are available in coil, air in 1.5" and 1 1/8" steer. I hope I can find a way to get one of these on a bike this year. Again, I'm hoping that I can run one of these on a 6" travel bike. I'm stoked about the new e150sl on the Enduro SL but I'd rather have a light and stiff single-crown. I'll do some research and see if Brandon gives his approval. No point pissing off the guy who will be ok'ing your warrantee issue, right?

Of course, the next issue is that I can't get a Enduro SL frame without the fork. And who's going to take that off of my hands? Fat chance. I could be wrong.

Can't get the damn photos up again. I needs me some bloggerphotoviagra. Ok, we're good.

The fork that I'm in love with right now is the revelation 426. Shawn just plopped that sucker on his Sworks stump 120 and he loves it. The fork that I WANTED didn't exist yet. It does now. The Lyrik is basically a thru-axle version of the Revelation forks. 6 inch travel thru axle is the way to go for aggressive, big-guy xc riding, which is what I do. Which is what most of us do.

Rock Shox continues to up the ante for almost all categories of suspension forks for 2007. Fox redesigned some forks but no major technological advances or models. Manitou continues to be buggered by issues with dampers, Marzocchi uses ETA and TAS which are goofy and take too much time to mess with (if you ask me). Rock Shox forks are easy to jump on, dial in and ride.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Happy Bday to Me!

32. Whoa. Never thought I would make it here. And I never thought I would make it out of the woods yesterday with Punga. We did a little co-birthday ride yesterday (his birthday is a week before mine) and since I was away last weekend, we got together for a rare bike ride out in Fredneck. We rode out into the 'shed and had a good time. Of course, we had mechanicals, flats and I was late getting home to see the fam. Oh well, it was fun. I felt great on the bike when I was rollin' but the slow-speed stuff was a little off for me. I was climbing just fine but for some reason, the flat/slow stuff wasn't happenin'. I was really working for it.

I never thought that I would be spending so much time with these two little ones. Here's Jrock at SportsFest at VE in Warminster. This is Emma on the bike on The Big Day as we cruised around the 'hood. And finally, Jeremy and Emma, running towards the street, just as daddy told 'em to do! Heh.

Oh well. JJ came over and made spearfish on the grill which went really well with some couscous (a food so nice they named it twice) that Susan made. I made my own birthday cake ('perfect chocolate' from the back of the Hershey's cocoa can) and we used some leftover frozen orange/chocolate frosting from a previous cake that Susan had made. She also whipped up some mango, lime, jalapeno, onion salsa for the fish (which went really well with the couscous). Oof, just a good meal. A few bottles of wine and a six-pack later and it was an official good birthday.

Saturday night, after Madeline's 2nd birthday party, Susan took me to see Jon Stewart at Merriweather. Damn, he's funny. Ask me about the pinata joke. He waxed about the political situation in the US, the war on terror (favorite shirt ever: I love T.W.A.T.: The War Against Terror) and then slid into normal funny stuff. It was really cool seeing him there and it was a beautiful night. I'm a big Daily Show fan even though I don't ever really get to see it unless we download it. We haven't had cable or TV reception since we moved in back in 2002. We have a DVD player so we can NetFlix stuff or I just download stuff. Pretty much everything you could ever want to see is available these days. I'm amazed that more people don't just do that. It's nice to not have a bunch of discs and stuff laying around. I just have a 250G hard drive and keep stuff that I like. It's great for kid's movies, too. I can play it on the 'puter downstairs or when we are away, if the need arises.

Pics up.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

For the Ladies...

Here is a winner of a ladies road bike. They have another bike a little lower, but it's hard to look at a $500 road bike. Maybe it's a winner and I'm jaded but we'll see at Interbike.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Bike Images

Since my uber-marketing wife has turned me on to Google Analytics, I can see how you all are finding me. In an effort to serve a public need, I'll start posting stuff that people are looking for. So, here are some images that people have been looking for (and that I promised).

2007 Jamis SuperNova (over there ====>). It's around $1900 this year. It's got an Easton 'cross fork on it, Easton wheels, true 'cross gearing up front. This is a departure for Jamis as it is an aluminum frame and carbon rear end. Their Novas have always been steel. This is a nice addition. It's a sub-20lb race bike. I'm sure this thing will handle like a dream. I'd love to throw one under my own ass. Oh yeah, 105/Ultegra 10 spd stuff plus FSA 2 piece cranks. The frame is hydroformed aluminum and they designed it to be flat on the underside of the top tube to aid in portaging (that means carrying on your shoulder). Fat tires, drop bars, what else is there?

Another cool new bike from these guys is the 29'er geared bike that they are doing for 2007. It's nice to see a singlespeed steel (previous post) AND geared bike in aluminum in the same year. That's a great couple of choices. They aren't making them in small sizes and I can understand why. If you are 5'7" and over, you shouldn't have a problem. We are going to stock all of these bikes so you'll be able to check it out. They are calling this the Dakota 29'er which fits nicely in with the previous Dakotas in terms of price and spec. Rock Shox, LX, XT, Juicys... Just what you would expect for the $1300-ish asking price. Not a bad price of entry for this sucker and it's sub 30 lbs. I think you could easily drop 2-3 lbs on this if you wanted to hook up on a frameset and go your own way. Total price would be less than $3k for something pretty light. Somebody will want to do this (Gwadz?).

Last but not least for tonite is the good 'ol Nova. For 2007, we stick with the steel frame/carbon fork of year's past. I'm lovin' that orange. Panel paint jobs are always classic. Jamis has made it a point to step up the quality of the paint and finish on their bikes for 2007. I'm all for it. Your stuff's gotta look good before people are even willing to ride it or ask questions about it. People won't admit it, but it's key. Hell, this is retail, after all, and you have to make your products 'pop' for people or they won't buy it. Bikes are a real reflection of the person straddling the top tube. There's no question. People make that decision sub-consciously. Anyway... 631 frame, 34/50 up front with 2 piece crank, 105 1ospd stuff (WOOHOO!), Avid brakes, actually comes with pedals! Crank Bros (I hate 'em), Ritchey wheels, all under 22.5 lbs complete. What's not to love? We've always done really well with the Novas and I don't see anything changing. It looks like we'll be stocking 2 'cross bikes from Jamis, 2 from Cannondale, 3 from Specialized plus the SWorks E5 frameset (big seller for us in 2005-6), the Surly CrossCheck... Damn, that's a lot of 'cross bikes.

I'll have to get that Cannondale disc from the Adams Morgan shop and try to pry a few images out of that to post. Busy day tomorrow down there so don't hate me if I don't get to it.

Any other requests? Interbike will have me posting some up close and personal pics from the show (no nudity, sorry), and I'm going to interview some industry friends of mine if I can wrangle 'em. Short list is Brandon Sloan from Spec'd, Greg Webber from Jamis, Gary Klein (what's he up to?), Chad Peterson from Cannnondale, Jon from Moots, Bubba from Yeti, Ned Overend (my buddy), Patrick and Mark Weir from WTB and Big Ed from SRAM. We'll see how it goes. I already have a full schedule. Got any requests? Just let me know.

Anniversary, Birthday and MORE

I can't believe that I'm going to post a link to People Magazine (I'm going to Hell, right?) but here it is, straight from the wife. It's about Lance. I want to know more about Floyd. What's going on? Susan also said that she read an article that Lance was chasing around Paris Hilton. I don't believe it. It's probably true, but I WON'T believe it. Scary stuff. I thought that Lance was rad because he did something that no one has ever done before. Ain't nobody gonna tell me that Paris 'ain't been done before,' that's for sure.

By the way, here's Emma, the budding photographer, taking a shot of me putting Jeremy in the car this morning. Yes, there are two balloons in the car but the rest is hard to make out but it's a rad pic, eh? She's a good photographer, methinks.

Yesterday was Charlie's birthday. He's 44. You're allowed to know how old boys are. He went to Burning Man a few weeks ago. He says that he was more 'out of his tree' than he's ever been before. Nice job Chazzy. Keep the dream alive. Yesterday was also the 5th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. We don't have cable or tv reception at the house but when we were in PA this past weekend, all of the Sunday 'talking heads' shows did some sort of retrospective and I wasn't ready. Susan and I work both working in downtown DC back then. I was at the League and Susan was at WABA. My office was two blocks north of the White House and Susan's office was one block east. I'll never forget watching the first plane hit the World Trade on the internet and then walking across Lafayette Square in front of the White House to go get Susan. Susan was super-pregnant with Emma (who will be five in 6 weeks). We had to take the Metro home and there was only one other person on there with us because the feds were telling everyone that 'they' were probably planning to attack the Metro as well. Crazy.

I just got back from a meeting at Patapsco regarding the proposed jump park situation that we talked about back in June. We've got the un-official, pre-go-ahead on a site and we'll start doing the planning in a few weeks when Rich is up from the 'Burg. We are hoping to have a pump track, 'advanced xc,' and features section, all within an acre or two. More on that in the coming weeks. Thanks to Dan-o for his continued help here. Same with Eric. Hooray for MORE. The site is near under-utilized parking, bathroom facilities and actual trail so you can build it into a normal xc ride. Hopefully we can start on this in the Spring. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Some Sting!

That's the bite. It's been a few days. Today is Wed and that little bastard bug bit me on Sunday. Sorry the pic is shiny, I just put some medicine on it to keep it from itching.

I know, I'm supposed to shave the legs, but I'm just not that guy. That is one ugly leg, though, I've gotta tell ya. Would it look any better sans hair? Well, it couldn't look much worse!

Everything underneath that red spot (about the size of a golf ball) is hard. It feels like there is a chunk of hard dough or something in there. I've been trying to rub it out a little bit (no jokes) but it's holdin' strong. Anybody out there have a clue here? I'm not going to the damn doctor for this little thing, but it's got me curious. If there is some way I can scare up the coin to get a massage (the legal kind) I should get over there. It's probably worth it. The kids don't need winter clothes, right?

The rest of me is fine. I'm not tired, I have above-average stiffness, but nothing more than a full week of riding usually provides. I've been eating like a champ and haven't put on a pound (yet). I rode the bike over to drop the kids off today before my meetings and it felt great. I'll be at the shop in CC in the morning and then I have a conf call and an appointment in the afternoon so I won't be riding tomorrow either.

Oh, somebody asked me what bike I rode at the SM100. I rode the carbon stump fsr. Next year I might try it on the singlespeed as it was WAY easier this year than last. I think the power that you get from onespeedin' it is very useful. I used to only ride my single back in 1998-2000 and I was plenty strong on the rare occasion that I jumped on the 'ol Bontrager hardtail. I think that's the key for me to break 11 hrs next year. This year would have been pretty close. I'm sure that napping on the side of the trail and hurling a few times will slow you down, I just don't know how much! I'm hoping for a 10.5 hr effort in 2007, if it doesn't rain.

This year, I trained too much for simple endurance instead of endurance and power. Michael M just gave me a book about core training that I'll check out. Brian told me a few of the exercises that he does, mostly body-weight type stuff and yoga. I should check in with Kent, too. He's nuts and strong. He picked up his Moots Ybb 29'er geared bike today. Bega managed to get it built before I even saw it. I'll have to get some pics of that bad boy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

SM100 2006: Bee Sting Boot and Rally!

New phrase of the year is 'Bee Sting Boot and Rally.' It is my new greeting.

My buddy Brian (see right, pic #1) flew in from San Jose, CA, for the SM100. I told him about the race and he managed get a pass from the 'boss' to come out and race. He showed up at my place at 8:30am on Saturday with race bike in back of Lincoln. Damn those cars are big... I cooked up a hearty breakfast, we transferred his junk out of the rental hoopty and we were off. To the shop. We had to stop by Chevy Chase to pick up the ez-up and I had to fix a broken nipple on Joel's bike. All that done, we were off, again.

It was raining when we left DC and we were taking bets on when we'd see blue sky (IF we'd see blue sky) as we approached Harrisonbug (aka: the 'burg). After our safety meeting, we settled in with some Kyuss. Brian couldn't believe how pretty it was along I81. We got half way to the 'burg and we got blue sky AND sun. We were stoked. So much for Ernesto. Chupa me, Ernesto!

We rolled in to Stokesville (love that name) and found our camping compadres right away. Scud and Margaret, Mark, Evan, MattyD and Katie, and more. We had a little tent city just off to the side of the main start/finish area. It was beautiful in there. The ground was barely wet from the rain the night before. We expected the course would be in epic shape.

We got registered and grabbed some Scud grub from the kitchen/pavillion and started to socialize. JoFo, Chris, Pooch, Kent, Camp... everyone was there. Food, beer, talking, laughing, rider's meeting, drop bags then bed. Brian hadn't gotten much sleep in two days so he hit it right around 9. I stayed up until I had the urge to 'lose weight the old-fashioned way' so that I didn't have to worry about it in the morning. I got the sleeping bag out, jumped in the gravity chair and slept under MattyD's 'cheezy up.' It was a beautiful night, getting down into the 50's. Sweet.

Here's some pics. Uncle Bri on the drive; MattyD and Joe 'Do you know how much this camera costs?!' Foley doing some insta-reminiscing, digital-style; Scud on the job, feeding hungry riders; sunset at Stokesville on Sat; Uncle Bri dropping the drop bags; Uncle Bri, Kent and Joel at dinner on Sat.

That damn gong came earlier than expected. As usual, I snuggled in my bag as long as I could, getting up, throwing on clothes and getting on the bike with only about 10 min to spare. Safety meeting, line up, shiver and off. Chris started us a few minutes after posted start time, otherwise known as 'right on time.'

I was nervous about doing well this year, but not about finishing. I proved that I could finish last year (12:22:17) without lights with minimal training and I thought I would do better this year. I knew the course, knew about the nutrition, gearing, pressure, tires, etc. My body was the only question mark.

I got up the first climb up to the radio tower a lot quicker than last year. I didn't push it, but I was able to motor up with only a few granny-ringers on the steep parts. I didn't walk, which is what I try to avoid, in general. I was grinding up Wolf Ridge (climb #2 and really hard) with Swampy (at the bottom), chatting and havin' fun. I got stuck behind a rider who couldn't clean the lower part of the singletrack (one of my goals) and kept getting off the bike but not moving out of the way. She (oops) was riding a lower gear than me as well so every time I stopped, 6 dudes behind me stopped as well. I was trying to give her some distance so that I might be able to avoid stopping, but she just couldn't keep it going. It sucked. I finally passed her when she tried to make the first steep switchback and came off the bike. I called it and rode by. That's just bad manners...

So, to pay me back for my impatience, I had a little run-in with a bee. Or a wasp or something. I was stuck behind about 9 guys, walking up the last switchback when somebody said 'OW, SHIT, I GOT STUNG' and one second later, I felt like somebody stuck a hot poker through my calf. I reached down without even thinking and smacked my leg. I didn't see what bit me (an elephant, if you ask me!) but I was bleeding a little and it looked like I had a splinter, but it was the stinger.

Now I've been bitten by tons of bugs growing up. Yellowjackets (12 at once is my record), bees, wasps, whatever, and never had a problem. 5 minutes after this bite and my heart was POUNDING in my heart and throat. I know what anaphylactic shock is all about and I got real nervous, real quick. My lips went numb (?) so I decided to sit down. Sit down turned into lay down 1/2 a second later. I watched a ton of people pass me, asking what was up. 'Bee sting' I said. 'You alergic?' 'I guess so.' One SUPER nice guy gave me a few benadryl (YOU ROCK!) and I just laid there. After about 10 minutes, my symptoms stabilized and I realized that I was going to live (important) and that I might be able to get myself out (also important) and maybe in 1 hr, I could start riding again. Brian showed up and he took stock of what was going on and he decided that I needed to move. Brian is my boy and I trust him so I managed to get my dumb ass off the ground and start walking. I got about 10 paces and I said, 'I think I'm going to BLAH!' Here's the 'boot' part of the 'Bee Sting Boot and Rally. I threw up a solid quart or so (benadryl and all) and felt great about 1 minute later. I mean Lazarus-type shit. I felt like $100. I got back on the bike, rode the rest of the way up Wolf Ridge, Brian flatted and I rolled on. I got to the bottom of that descent (fast!) passing 3-4 people and hit the fire road CHARGING! I rolled by at least 25 people by the time that I got to CP2. I even managed to catch Joel! I felt great. Seriously.

Everyone at CP2 realized that I was the reported casualty from the top of the ridge. One volunteer at the rest stop took a little convincing that I was ok and not delerious. He kept asking me questions, obviously looking out for my best interest to which I finally replied 'ask all the people that I just passed how they think I'm doing.' It was a little sharp, but I was trying to let him know that I was serious about being fine. I was truly greatful for his concern and I in no way wanted him to worry and if I upset him, I am sorry. I don't think he took offense, but for Karma's sake...

The Dowell's Draft traverse was deep, fast and wet. It felt great, though and I managed to provide JoFo with a little respite from the heat with a personal shower. He LOVED it...

The rest of the ride was uneventful after that. I was so stoked just to be able to ride again that I didn't even think about my time until the bottom of Braylee's. I got in to CP4 after RIPPING down that hill, passing quite a few people, mildly out of control and loving it. I left for the re-enactment of the Bataan Death March up to CP5 at mile 75. I surged when I felt like I had some power and relaxed when my body told me to. I did the climb a lot stronger than last year and left the checkpoint MUCH quicker than last year. I left CP4 with Jonathan but dropped him on the fast fire road stuff (singlespeeder) but he came in just a few minutes behind me at CP5. We rode off together to conquer the last, gut-wrenching section up to Bald Knob and the pure pleasure of the descent off the back side. At the end of the race, Brian would say, about that downhill, 'I was eating a cookie out of the gnar jar.' I managed to drop Jonathan (and a few others who stuck with us) coming off that mountain all the way down the hill. In the sections you can actually pedal, you are choosing between your highest three gears. It's just freaking fast! I was all over the place, barely hanging on, forearms pumped, looking 20-30 feet down the trail, just trying to keep the bike upright. I managed to clean all the little drops and logs and crazy-fast rocky-ass turns with more speed than I felt comfortable with. Hey Chris, can you say Super-D race? The main reason that I do the SM100 is that downhill. That rain made the loamy dirt feel like velcro. Nobody can say ANYTHING negative about the trail conditions this year...

I got to the bottom of the drop and pedaled right through CP6. I hated that pavement climb, as short as it was, but it's only a warm up for the last couple of climbs. The last 10 miles are kinda brutal after you get the 'I'm finished' thoughts in your head after Bald Knob. I had been back and forth with these other two guys who were riding together and we started the climb together. Somehow, I managed to ride away from them and get to the singletrack first. I passed another 4-5 people on the fire road singletrack stuff (big ring, baby!) and BLAZE into the finish line, fellow City Bikes Team members cheering me on. It's rad to have people you know yelling for you. The only thing better is hearing Jeremy, Emma and Susan yelling for me. Alas, the weather question kept them away this year.

I finished. Again. I don't have the oh-fee-shul time yet, but I think it was around 11.5 hours. That cuts about an hour off of last year, although my bee-sting detour and subsequent dehydration from puking MAY have affected that. Ya think? (Official time: 11:33:46).

My ass hurts a bit, I'm sore and tired and a little foggy. The first thing I asked Brian when he got back was: 'Is that the best one-day ride you've ever done or what?' His response? 'Absofuckinglutely.' Brian is a rider, for sure. His input means a lot to me. The fact that he LOVED this ride means something.

Let's not forget Kent shooting with the sight too close to his eye and putting a hole in his head, just above his eye... And riding fast...

Brian and I have been friends for almost 10 years now. That's pretty cool. Brian took me on my first ride in Marin, my first Skeggs/Corte Madera ride, me, Brian and Lars all managed to make it to each other's weddings in Santa Fe, Germantown and Lake Tahoe. I'm pretty stoked that he made it out here. Now that we all have kids and houses, it's harder to get together. This really meant a lot to me and I'm glad that Brian made it. The SM100 is such a great ride, world-class, really. Thanks again to Chris Scott and all of the amazing volunteers. Oh, and Jeremiah broke is previous record, finishing 100m and 14k' of climbing in 7:15. If he wasn't such a nice guy, I'd hate him.

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