Monday, November 20, 2006

Patapsco Trail Work Success

First, thanks to everyone who made time on Sunday to help us out and work on the trails in Patapsco Valley State Park. Trail work this past weekend was a success. The bridges that have been put in over the years on Cascade have been impacted pretty heavily by the elements including a few nasty storms. After a long day of working, we improved a situation that was overdue for some attention. A few of us doubted whether the bridges would last one season of heavy rains. They are still here.

Who knows how many people have fallen off of them. We really should have gotten to them earlier, but honestly, I never really thought that they were that bad. The stories that we heard from riders passing through and some fellow trail workers were scary to be sure. One pair of riders who blew through stopped to mention their buddy who had ripped every tendon and ligament in his knee when he went over the bars, landing on the rocks and in the water. Ouch. He's been off the mtn bike for two years now. I'd be pretty pissed if I had to stay off the bike that long. The state is lucky that dude didn't sue.

Honestly, after hearing these stories, I feel bad that we neglected them this long. The ride-arounds are obviously well-used and only very recently did I even think about using them instead of the bridges. Unfortunately, the banks of the river are now a solid 6 feet wider than they were when the bridges were put in. It would have made more sense to harden the sides and create a ford out of stone instead of doing all of this heavy-lifting work. Oh well. I wasn't asked about this project when it was put in so I'm just helping out.

The entire Cascade Trail is on my shit list anyway. It's a legacy trail (meaning it was never designed, its just always been there) and it's really not in a good spot. I don't like working on trails that require a lot of attention. I'd rather get a section of trail re-worked so that you are less likely to have to get back there with man- and woman-power to fix problems. A lot of the sections of trails that we have focused on in the last 7 years or so have been dramatically improved and are much more rideable much closer to any rain or other precipitation event. A lot of the trails over by Morning Choice in the Avalon/Orange area are more hardened and require no maintenance, which should be the goal of MORE and the park management.

So, of course Emily and Emma had a great time. They had a trail PLAY day to correspond with our trail WORK day. Eric and I both kept our eyes in their general direction for the day and they still managed to get pretty wet. I'm sure as hell not complaining. We were moving hundreds of pounds of large stone, I was running a chainsaw, people were throwing shovels full of dirt and rock all over the place and they never got TOO in the way. Everyone was super nice about it and helped keep the girls in line. They were both great. Having them run around the stream was helpful. Random woods might not have been as much fun for them so it worked out great and I had a great time with Emma. She's such a great kid and I was lucky that she decided to cooperate.

Jeremy is posing with his new favorite toy: a big-ass box. We got a new table and chairs for the kitchen and they came in huge boxes. I cut them up and taped 'em together and the kids moved in. We colored on it, they played inside, they hid from the cat... You know, the normal stuff. It's going to be hard to get rid of their new fort, but we'll let it hang around for a few days until it looks really bad.

Happy Thanksgiving! Drive safe, ride safe, walk safe, eat. Try to find something to give thanks for.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Trailwork and EuroBike and 24 Hours

I went to a training session a few weeks ago (last week?) at Rosaryville with Disco Dan the Trailwork Man and Rich 'Grizzly' Edwards. Good-looking guys, eh? MORE got some money from the state of MD through the DNR and they decided to spend some of it on training DNR staff on sustainable trails including heavy machinery. Jeremy would have been stoked...

Rich works for IMBA Trail Solutions and he was contracted to do the trainings all around the state. The heavy equipment part was a few short miles away in Rosaryville, Maryland's newest mtn bike destination. If you haven't ridden there yet, it's really fun. It's no Patapsco, of course, but when you consider how quickly that place has come on-line for riding, it's pretty incredible. It's almost all narrow and the entire place is like a primer on how to build sustainable trail, being almost completely MORE and IMBA designed and built. IMBA has a few pics and stories of Rosaryville on their website although they list it on 'Maryland's Eastern Shore' which it ain't. To be clear, this project alone is worth joining MORE. So do it, if you haven't already. And if you aren't local, do it anyway and when you come to town, we'll get you a bike and take you for a ride. A few years ago when NEMBA was buying 'Vietnam' our family ponied up to help them buy it. Sure, it wasn't much, but that's the beauty of democracy. A whole bunch of littles make up a lot. And they bought the land to protect it. So let's spread the love, eh?

Here's Ben (pink helmet, no judgements) showing the controls to a DNR staffer as another staffer and Rich (far right) look on. This is a Sweco. It's one of the only trail-building-specific machines made. It's only 48" wide. It's one mean mamajama. On the right is the new Toro Dingo that lives at Patapsco. That's Rich showing all the parts that they've broken and the location of all the important grease fittings. I'm lucky enough to have built a section of trail at Rosaryville with one of these things and it's amazing what you can do with these little walk-behinds. They are quick and powerful and you can get into a lot of trouble quickly. My personal favorite task is popping trees out of the ground by pinching and pulling with the blade. These things do the work of 20 hard-working volunteers. If you can stand the noise, they are pretty fun to use.

On the trailwork side of things, we also have trailwork this weekend in Patapsco. Tomorrow morning, 9:30am at the Avalon Pavillions, the normal meeting place. We are doing post-storm cleanup and fixing those bridges on Cascade Trail off of Landing Rd. We are planning on laying down some geotex and building a turnpike on top of those locust stringers. I'm bringing Emma so bring the kids along if you are so inclined. Eric is bringing Emily as well. That's Emma with Big Daddy numero uno at the Quiet Waters art festival thing, by the way.

Here, used without permission, is Eric 'Other Big Daddy' Crawford's input on bringing kids to trailwork:

What I learned: Having a tool her size really helped, I didn't have to worry about her trying to use a Macleod as I could point to her rake and ask her not to use the big stuff. Having a little camelback was neat for her, but she lost the mouth piece ten minutes into the woods, hopefully she learned from the mistake. Pack a snack in the camelback that they like, I thought she would be cool with a clif bar, you know eat what I eat, be part of the pack and all that, wrong. She really would have rather had some yogo's or trail mix. Pack two ziplocks and small amount of toilet tissue and some purell hand cleaner or some such for coppin a squat in the woods, it's gonna happen. Be prepared to carry all of it out, she was super tired when we were finished.

I love that guy...

My last bit of information for the day is courtesy of BR&IN. EuroBike (Europe's bike trade show) just announced that it will have an event in Portland in 2007 that basically competes with Interbike in Vegas. For you fellow geeks out there, the BR&IN story talks about the previous trade show fractions and factions in the industry during the 80s and 90s, including CABDA and BIO. Here's another take on the announcement. While I've got nothing to say about the actuality of what type of 'competition' this really represents, I plan on having a few conversations with the few people I know in the industry to support going to Portland for one reason or another. Quite a lot of industry people are sick of going to Vegas. A lot of the industry newbies can handle the stress, travel and indulgences of Vegas, but us decade-plus veterans are getting sick of it. Vegas has got to be the most un-natural, soul-sucking, non-bike town on the planet. I'm not exaggerating here. It looks even worse when you compare it to a place like Portland. Those of you who have spent time there or live there know exactly what I'm talking about.

Portland has given us THE MOST bike-friendly Congressman on the planet in Earl 'Crazy Hippy' Blumenauer (I LOVE this guy). Portland's City Council voted on a resolution recognizing the bike industry as a 'target industry' for the city. They have more transit connections, bike lanes, inexpensive-but-super-nice hotels of any bike-friendly city. I mean, just look at the headlines on this page. Who wouldn't want to go to Portland? Oh, did you know what city has the highest number of microbreweries in North America? That's right. F'ing Portland. I'm going to Portland. You hear me Interbike? If you went to Interbike this year (or ever) send them an email saying you want to go to Portland with the crazy Euros. Go here and post a comment or two saying you want to go to Portland (or anywhere that ACTUALLY supports cycling). Tell your suppliers, tell your shop buddies, and bike people, tell US that you want us to do something that supports YOUR sport instead of supporting Vegas. Here's a shot of mtn biking on Mt Hood. Yeah, that looks like it sucks...

Hell, I'd love to get to actually use a lift at a mtn resort than sit around waiting for those trucks to haul us to the top of Bootleg Canyon. That wait got old, to be sure.

So come on kids, let's get together and go to Portland!

And finally, it looks like Jamis is going to come through with some sponsorship for a City Bikes 24 Hour national championship venture. I put the seed in the ground at the last Team Meeting (no not THAT type of team meeting) and we actually might have a team to do four or five of the races. That would be sweet. I picked up that last picture from the Granny Gear website. Too funny.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Floyd, Let It Be True!

I hope that ABCNews has got it right about this stuff and Floyd. Here is a quick update on what is going on.

GO FLOYD! I may be the only one still with ya, but I'm with ya!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Here We Go

My degree in Political Science makes it impossible for me to resist commenting about the elections yesterday...

First, congratulations you crazy Democrats. Let's move EVERYONE forward, Democrats. No more fear, no more morally bankrupt, hypocritical rule. No more wars, or anti-gay, anti-women's rights, anti-education programs. Let's get this country back on track. America is a wonderful country with resourceful people and a lot to offer the world. Let's return to our status as a beacon of light in the world and relax our imperialist stance.

Let us talk, not fight. Let us disagree and shake hands. Let us respect each other regardless of how vehemently we disagree. Let us treat others better than we expect them to treat us.

I hope that this personal feeling of optimism lasts and is reinforced by the actions of our leaders in Washington, DC and locally.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mr Bike Safety Gets Some Props

John Overstreet has been a fixture in MD bicycle advocacy WAY longer than I have. Here is a quicky from The Sun about a trail being named after him. Great guy. Tireless. All the best, John.

More Industry Stuff

DT Swiss Acquires Pace Cycles Fork Business

NOVEMBER 07, 2006 -- GRAND JUNCTION, CO (BRAIN)—DT Swiss acquired the front suspension and rigid fork business of Pace Cycles. The move allows DT Swiss to offer complete suspension systems to manufacturers.

“The purchase allows us to quickly jump into providing a full line of suspension products to manufacturers,” said Kenny Roberts, DT Swiss’ U.S. sales and marketing manager. Since Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) distributes Pace Cycle forks and DT Swiss products, Roberts expects this relationship to continue.

Christian Mueller, DT Swiss’ Suspension Division manager will be overseeing the integration of Pace’s forks into DT Swiss’ suspension line. Mueller rejoined DT Swiss this spring after a few years at Answer Products Europe. Pace forks will be integrated into the overall DT Swiss suspension range within the next six to 12 months. Pace will continue to manufacture and supply customers with its full fork range during the transition period for the model year 2007.

Adrian Carter, owner of the Pace brand, will act as technical consultant to DT Swiss in the transition period and for future developments. Pace Cycles continues to manufacture and sell frames, clothing and its other products under the Pace brand. Pace will become the exclusive UK distributor of the full range of DT Swiss suspension products as well as continuing its renowned suspension technical, spares and service support in the UK.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Clothes, Bdays, Halloween, Weeds...

Warning: Commercial

City Bikes just received some clothing from the UK company Endura. People have asked me about them before and we met with them out in Vegas. They make some super-cool fusion stuff.

I think about cycling in terms of a few different areas of product. Endura brings together high-performance and utilitarian ethics together. They make cotton-like-nylon knickers as well as traditional nylon knickers with a snap-in liner (6 or 10 panel) that works in all of their shorts. They have some rad wool jerseys as well. We've got it in both shops so check it out.

The top short is the MT500 and the bottom is the Zyme 3/4. It feels like cotton but it's nylon. The jersey is the woolie Halcyon which comes in short sleeve and long sleeve.

Their jackets and overtrousers are rad as well. All waterproof, seam-sealed and taped for great prices. They have some motorcycle-esque stuff that is overbuilt and messenger-worthy and some fitted lighter-weight jackets. It will be great for our market. The stuff looks and feels great. Check it out.

Emma is now 5 years old. Ho Lee Sheet. I can't believe it. Irma said 'You're old because you have a five-year-old.' Thanks Irms. Jeremy and Emma celebrated their birthdays on Saturday with our family. We all had a great time. It looked like Christmas in here.

Here are the boys, having some fun with a cupcake. Jonas grabbed Jeremy and it was pretty funny watching Jonas show Jeremy how to eat the frosting off of the bottom of the candles.

Emma and Lindsay took over the head of the table. They had a few cupcakes to deal with as well. No cutting, no silverware, just cupcakes and a face.

Susan and I made a few batches of chili for the event. Not great for the kids, but all of the adults seemed to like it.

For Halloween, we stayed home and rocked out around the local 'hood. The kids got a lot of candy for daddy and I have been religiously putting a few pieces back each night. Lots of KitKats this year. Anybody else get that?

Emma went as Cinderella and Jrock went as Buzz Lightyear and proceeded to yell it out every time that anyone mentioned it to him. Two is rad. He had a great time. Some knucklehead around the corner had his son (who I swear is 'special') run out of the house in costume with a chainsaw sans blade and scare everyone. Of course, at age 2, Jeremy freaked out and had to be carried for 2 blocks. Emma laughed. He rolled up to Susan and got right in her face and stepped on her toe. She said 'Uh, you are stepping on my toe and it really hurts' so he got in my face. I wanted to knock his ass out. This is why Susan won't let me have a BB gun because I would have just sat in the woods across the street and shot at that asshole every time he poked his goofy head out of the house. Maybe next year. What a jackass.

Oh, I forgot. The previous weekend, we went up to PA for Jim's 50th birthday party. As a sign of his appreciation for irony, Jim dressed up as an old man. I brought a flask and a monkey mask. Susan did the witch thing. I leave the ironic comments up to those who DON'T live with her. Here we are, on the other side of sober... Yes I am wearing a mask. Yes I know it's hard to tell. It was the best Bush impression that I could do...

We saw Borat on Friday night. Sasha Baren Cohen is amazing. There is a clip from the movie on the homepage so check it out. You can download Da Ali G Show to see the origin of the Borat character. Funny stuff, to be sure. The movie was just amazing. It really makes America look scary but that's an underlying, subversive theme. You should see it for sure. Everybody seems to love it. This movie will make you laugh your ass off. It will also make you more uncomfortable than you can imagine. I'm talking falling-on-broken-glass uncomfortable. I mean sleeping-on-the-Interstate uncomfortable.

And finally, Marthea told Susan and I that we had to watch a show on Showtime called Weeds. I got the torrent going and pulled down the first season to watch. It took us less than a week to watch all 11 episodes. That show is amazing. All those who have seen it seem to absolutely love it. Check it out. Second season just ended last week (or so). It's pretty funny, scary, smart and dangerous at the same time. Check it out and let me know what you think. You can get it for your iPod now as well. It's well worth it.

Here's MattyD and Katie at our house for dinner. It's too bad that our kids aren't social, eh?

Hayes (disc brake people) Puchases Answer (Manitou)

This is from the BR&IN website. Pretty amazing.

HB Performance Systems Acquires Answer Products

NOVEMBER 06, 2006 -- MEQUON, WI (BRAIN)—HB Performance Systems has acquired Answer Products, a company that produces forks, shocks, bars, stems, clothing items and other bicycle-related parts. Details of the sale were not immediately available. Hayes representatives declined to comment until an official company press release has been sent out.

“It’s a good marriage,” said Chris Smith, Answer’s director of global sales and marketing. Smith didn’t have any details on the transaction, but said that “Hayes’ goal is to manufacturer every part other than the frame.” Smith added that it’s still “business as usual” for Answer.

This latest acquisition shouldn’t come as a surprise. In a May Bicycle Retailer and Industry News interview with vice president and general manager of Hayes Bicycle Group Rhonda Kirkwood, she addressed the possibility of future acquisitions.

“We’re also looking at other potential acquisitions that are a good fit culturally, that align with our values and our product lines, particularly those bicycle components that could be integrated with our current products,” Kirkwood said.

In September, HB acquired Wheelsmith Fabrication, a company that produces spokes and offers wheel-building services and other wheel-related products. In July 2005, HB acquired Sun Metal Products, a leader in the design, manufacture and sales of Sun Ringle brand wheels, wheelsets, hubs and other bicycle and wheelchair components.

More Lance

MF ran a marathon. Sub 3 hrs. Short version here. Thanks to Susan for the link. She also sends out stuff about who Lance is chasing in his personal life. Great stuff...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

There are no words . . .

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