Friday, February 29, 2008

Beer, Burgers and Cyclists

We had our Scenic City Velo event last night and I would like to think that it was a resounding success. I know that I had fun and it was great to get the chance to meet so many local riders. I have to thank everyone for showing up and many thanks to Big River Brewery for the beers and Krystals for the food. We had all of our show bikes on display and all of the killer new Planet X bikes we are distributing. Lookout US, I have tons of inexpensive bikes for every dicipline you can imagine. Of course, if you want the top of the line stuff, we make all of that too. It is going to be awesome to now have something for everyone, regardless of budget.

I have been riding the rollers all week due to the cold weather and the need to keep it low key. The final installment of the Snake Creek Gap TT series is Saturday and I have my work cut out for me. I am 4 minutes off the SS leader and the weather sucks which means the course will be rough. So it will be a tall order, but I am going to try and kill it tomorrow. Several of the Yazoo crew are coming down tonight and while the flu has knocked others out, we will make sure our presence is known tomorrow. I will have a full report tomorrow night. Wish me luck, unless I ma racing you tomorrow, and in that case, I will see you there.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Chillin the Most

After a few days off, getting back to the grind was a chore. I had two days to make closure on several custom orders that have been sitting open and RC sent his fit data in while I was gone. Now we can move forward with the 650B project I mentioned some time ago. David has nearly finished with the tandem jig and that is one serious piece of equipment. Not sure if I can post photos of that one yet, due to some potential competitor espionage. I will save that entire rant for another day. I have mentioned this to a select few, but I have to be careful. Desperation causes people to do crazy stuff, even in the bike scene.

We are planning a social gathering with the Scenic City Velo race team and club next week. That is going to be fun...I always love a party. We will have our handmade show bikes on display and if I can get my R320 built in time, that will be on display as well. I am going to build it up with Chorus but I cannot make up my mind on the wheelset. I would not think twice about getting a new I9 road set, but I don't want to push my luck or my wallet, at least right now. There are a handful of pimpy wheels at the shop and I will probably run some 202 tubies for the time being while I make up my mind. I am looking forward to a new road bike. I love my custom road bike from the guys in upstate NY that starts with the letter S, but it doesn't look good from my job standpoint. How's that for bad ass, I "have" to build a $8000 road bike for work purposes. I need to call my accountant and see if I can write off race fees, bike parts and gear as well. If it is possible, I will have an entire entry on that subject.

Thursday and Friday were pretty low key. An indoor roller party was as exciting as it got. I woke up early this morning and made my way to Raccoon Mtn for 3 hours at threshold. It started off pretty crappy because my breakfast was trying to escape my body. The weather was cold and with 90% humidity, the air was thick. I was sure that the trail was going to be messy and slick from the recent rain, but despite a few select sections, the trail was hooking up beautifully. It was perfect conditions to turn 2 laps as fast as I could. I reinstated the speakers today and I forgot how awesome they are for a solo ride, or any ride really. The first lap went well and I easily rocked out a sub 1.5 hour lap with all the outers and inners along with the perimeter. The second one was a little tougher. I was pretty cold and sweaty so it made me have to work hard to warm back up and by the time I was comfortable again, I was more than halfway through the second lap. I wrapped up the lap and went back to the car for a few minutes to warm up.

Suck Creek and Bear Creek Bikes were hosting a dirt demo at Raccoon so I decided rather than driving to Laurel Point, I would suck it up and jump back on the bike and ride over to check it out. It was about a 15 minute ride to that portion of the trail and right as I rolled up, Moose was wandering around the trail head. We hung out for a few minutes and then went up to the lot to check out the fleet that was there for the punishing. Lots of cool bikes and the only one I rode was an IBEX 650B full-suspension rig. While I liked the 650 wheels, I cannot dig on full-suspension. I keep trying, but I just don't like the squish. Full rigid is the way for me. I like riding the razors edge, what can I say. I will always keep giving it a whirl for kicks, but I have yet to find one that I would throw cash at. The search continues.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Knocked Down, but Not Out

The trip to NC was fantastic to say the least. After bailing early from work and making some sweet time to Knoxville, I met up with Jut Rut and Ty in Asheville in under 3 hours. We made our way to the Industry Nine facility to take a look around and talk shop. When we rolled in the back door, my eyes met the glorious site of a wall filled with beautifully colored hubs and spokes.

Jeff took us around for the nickel tour. He showed us the various stopgaps in the wheelset manufacturing process and the machinery arsenal required to make such fresh hubs and spokes.
Coming from a custom production environment, it was hard not to nerd out on all of the super cool machining and fabrication tools they have. These guys put a ton of time into their wheels and the quality is amazing. After a few minutes of mental math going through all the steps and various processes, it takes around 12 hours of machine time alone, to fabricate 1 wheelset. From prawls, to hub bodies, spokes and all the little inner workings, 12 hours of machine time folks. They should charge more than they do if you ask me. Plus they come in all kinds of sweet colors.

After all the sweet chat about machines and hubs and tolerances and work stuff, the tour officially ended and Friday began. The pit bike was fired up and we headed out back to witness how I9 throws down. They are in the process of building a new pump track, but a few sweet jumps were there for the launching. We hung out for a little while longer and tried to work out the details for Saturday's festivities. The funny part was Jeff and I were both at MTSU at the same time and frequented several of the same haunts back in the day. Birds of a feather do flock together. Thanks to all the super rad folks at I9, you guys make the bike scene even better.

When I drove up to the Crow's Nest for the first time, I could not believe how bad ass that place is. I will pay rent and not even live there, just for the opportunity to hang out for the weekends. It has all the characteristics anyone would want in a home. Open floor plan, double porches and a vibe that makes you want to read a Walden novel, yet all within the city. Asheville is cool like that. The second tour of the day began and it proved to be even sweeter than the outside suggested. When your house has a name, you have to represent. My hat's off to Jut and Ty for the hook on this pad. If I vanish for a few days, your best bet is to look here.

The weekend itself was balls out. We rode hard on Saturday in Pisgah only to find to the upper sections of the trails we damaged by windfall. So all the climbing we had been doing was in vain. Ride a little while then jump a downed tree and repeat. We decided to bail and hit Bent Creek on the way back to town. This place was a load of fun. I have ridden here many times over the years, but never as a destination, only because it was there. I have always gone to Asheville for the death marches to make me stronger on all fronts. But I have to say, Bent Creek was a blast. We had so much fun riding that place. It wound up being just what I was looking for to wrap up a great day on the bike. Back to the Nest for some wonderful pasta dinner.

Next day was a struggle to say the least. The weather was cold and wet, not fully raining but the humidity made everything wet. It should have been snowing. An easy day to blow off a ride for sure, but that would be unacceptable. So we pony up and meet Matt J at Biowheels and rolled out to Black Mountain. This is where thing got a little ugly at first. I knew I did not have the clothes for the weather and the conditions. Bishop came over from campus and Bennett met us in the Kitsuma lot. I am familiar with this area from ORAMM, but we were going to do a modified version and it started by climbing straight up Rattlesnake Gap, Trail. Incline, whatever. That shit was sweet. Being the only single speed and only non suspended bike, I was in for one hell of a day.

All my boys were on squishy geared bikes, except for Bishop, but he had a sick Fox fork. It made no matter. I would not be me if I let those details matter. The climb to the Heartbreak Ridge decent was unreal. The wet rocks that covered the climb made it a game of torque for what seemed like forever. I think that may be one of the best climbs that I have ever done. It was hard, yet doable and it was a ball-buster but kind of fun all at the same time. The decent down Heartbreak sent me back to July 2007. A rigid bike just careless wants to fall of a mountain. It is your job to tell it where to go. All finesse and will power...a beautiful thing to me. That trail gives it to you, the whole way down. In the freezing cold rain, I thought about how hot it was in July and just tried to see how long I could lay off the brakes. Pure bliss.

We hit the bottom and started climbing old 70, I think. It was also part of ORAMM and seemed very familiar. I finally got my second wind and we flew up to the top with little effort. Even after all the riding we had already done. At the top we came back to the car and it officially started to rain. I think that it had been raining for a while but we were in the deep forest and it blocked much of the immediate moisture. A stop for pizza in Black Mountain was the perfect end to a killer day. That is the very reason why you need to buck up and hit the trails any chance you get.

I picked up the flu bug on this adventure or at least I beat myself down enough to be vulnerable. I had two days of necessary recovery and had to take some time off. It is rare that I do that, but it was obviously necessary, my body went on strike. I worked up the strength to get out on the bike Wednesday night for a slow grind to the top of Lookout and bombed down the other side on some single track that I heard about near a college at the top. It was super sweet and very technical. I don't know if these trails are legal but I am going to find out. I hope not. Climbing up that would be insane. It's Thursday night and it started raining right after work. I was hoping that it would hold off all day and it kind of did. Now I am subject to an incarcerated workout on the rollers. With a race next weekend, you do what you gotta do. Last Snake next weekend

Friday, February 15, 2008

NC Bound Sucka's

This entire week has been the build up to today. I have been riding some, Tuesday night fo sho, and a little time on the rollers, but nothing more than that. I have been saving myself for a weekend in Pisgah. I cannot wait to go off on that place. So looking forward to it. Plus it will be my first trip up since Jut moved up there. Going to hang with Bishop this weekend too. It will be a little cycling family reunion. How nice.

First stop is the Industry 9 HQ for a factory tour and hang out session with Jeff and Brandi. These guys could easily be some of the coolest folks in the industry, I may be a bit biased, but what the hell. They have been there for all of my strange and immediate requests and have never bitched or turned me down...and that is just the work side of things.

Just picked up my new ride yesterday, a 2008 Pro29 with a shapelier down tube and fatter rear stays than my previous custom models. Going to test this shiny new rig out in Pisgah. This is one of my favorite parts of my is a new super spendy bike, build it up and beat the shit out of it. Have I died and gone to heaven? This will be the next prototype ride I build once we work out some of the drive train tweaks.

Jut informed me that there is a velodrome in Asheville...looks like Darth Vader will be coming along for the ride. Hopefully we can test this baby out as well...or at least do sprints through town later tonight. I will try and keep on top of the blog while I am gone, otherwise it will be a recap of the entire weekend with photos on Sunday night.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Portland to Cleveland, It's always about the bike.

The work week is over...not much to report...lots of the same. Worked out many of the details on Project Dirt Rag and received some kind props for doing so. Thanks Andy.

Show Bikes are being lovely. Now you can see them too. Enjoy.

Show links :

During the week, riding has been one big solo mission. Kinda like it was when I first moved here. Nice but relatively low-key, just out riding to be riding...kinda like it should be.

I have had too many balls in the air and have not been able to commit to plans of any kind. We had to cancel the trip to the ATL at the last minute, but are still having company on Sunday. Wife is having back pains from pilates and massages are not helping. Now to plan B. Drugs and Rest...maybe a visit to the chiropractor. I feel bad for her...reminds me of when I broke my clavicle and jacked my shoulder up. I was pretty useless for a couple of weeks. Then pissed off that I was missing some killer early Spring riding. Oh well. She will be fine, she's a trooper. This situation has much to do with the inability to make plans. I figured that I would be hanging around the pad this weekend playing nurse. Not the case, like I said my wife is a trooper. "Since company would be in town on Sunday, I should ride on Saturday"...really?, sounds like a plan to me. A trip to the video store, 3 chick films, pharmacy drive-thru and she had a full Saturday planned.

I received a phone call from Jon McLovin on Friday night and he graciously invited me to a road ride in Cleveland, no not that Cleveland. Cleveland to Benton to Reliance and up Chilhowie....some stuff I had never seen and had no idea where he was talking about. Out 64E way out in the country. I was apprehensive, especially on the road bike and with Jon...but all I could say was, "Yes, I'd love to. I think that is just what I need".

We rolled out from his place around 10:30am on Saturday morning. Way later than what I have been used to the past few weekends which was nice. Me, Jon and Matt. 2 locals and 1 sacrificial lamb. The weather was perfect, about 58 and sunny, but there was a enigmatic head wind going on, similar to the infamous Eastside Headwind in Nashville. No matter which direction you went, the headwind found us and gave us 25+mph blasts. Restiance training at it finest. I was just along for the ride and that was great. No concern for directions, all I had to do was pedal up and down the mountains all day. I wish that I had the camera several times today, but these guys were not too keen on stopping and the pace did not warrant many photo op's.

It was a great ride. I had the chance to see some more beautiful Tennessee rivers, streams and mountains. What a blast. We rocked it out for the first 3.5 -4 hours and then we split up. Jon and I rolled on to add a bit more time in saddle. All I can say is ouch. I have never deemed myself a roadie, but damn, those are some strong fellas and they made me hurt...for that I am grateful...80 miles later, it was what I needed. I was right all along. I will be out there again very soon, if they will have me back. Apparently there is a serious ball buster ride out to Ft. Mountain from Cleveland...sounds painful...count me in! Going to chill with family tomorrow and get ready for Tuesday Night Live.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Brown Frown and Riding Downtown

All show bikes have finally arrived in Portland, now I can finally rest a little easier. A bit of rough housing on UPS's part required me to send some new decals and all the necessary application tools with the boss man. It makes it hard to respect the men and women in brown with stunts like this. You think that with the cost of shipping these days, the least they could do is not beat the shit out of the packages you have entrusted to them. Oh well, I guess that since they only get paid something like 30 bucks and hour, they don't need to be concerned about the contents of the packages they handle. God forbid you actually place a fragile or do not bend sticker on the package, that must mean destroy as much as possible while in transit. Many thanks to UPS. Enough about that.

Otherwise all is well around the shop. We are as busy as bees and with Spring nowhere near, I am very excited about our output this year. We should easily beat last year's numbers before we even get to Interbike. Once I get the go ahead, I will be blasting the world wide web with the killer photos I shot of the show bikes. If you are in Portland this weekend, drop a few quid on the show and check out some bike porn and meet some of the best small builders in the industry. Oh yeah, and we will be there too. Make sure to stop by and ask Mark 10 stupid questions about your other bikes. He loves that stuff...just kidding. That is the only down fall of "public" shows. While you must be engaging and interested, the questions people ask are insane. My best goes out to all exhibitors.

Since the last Snake, I have been resting a bit and trying to finally shake this damn cold. I went out last night for a couple of hours in the hood. Just wound up doing hill repeats to keep from getting bored. The weather was really strange...tornado weather actually. Something like 71 and super windy. I just made it home in time before the bottom dropped out of the sky. We had some serious rain and hail. No damage my way, but it seemed pretty bad for some further North.

Dinner with my father-in-law was just canceled and now I am free to hit the road bike tonight for a few more hours. Thinking about marching up Lookout a couple of times tonight to punish myself and get all of the race junk out of my legs. I am traveling to Atlanta for the weekend to see my brother-in-law's band play. It is going to be a ton of fun. We will be staying with my wife's cousin in Buckhead and he is an absolute blast to party with. So I will be riding as much as possible this week and then take the weekend off.

The new team direction has been defined to some extent. We will be rocking it as usual, just under a new name. Yazoo Racing it is and I will be pounding away at the keys building a new site over the next few weeks. I think that we are going to host an open forum via the blog avenue until we have the site built. The cool thing about this will be that each team member can actively participate in the blog and add whatever they want. It is going to be the best year yet for the Yazoo Crew.

Monday, February 4, 2008

What happened?

Last week absolutely flew by and all I could do was hang on for the ride. I spent the first few days building show bikes for the handmade show and then transitioned back into regular details. I spent one night on the rollers and one night out on the road bike. Roller night was boring as usual, but Thursday night Jason and I hit the road in the rain for 2.5 hours of self loathing and punishment. I really need to blow off some steam and I had been fighting a cold all week.

After a lap in the neighborhood, we decided to climb Lookout Mt from the Scenic Hwy side. As we started through town, the rain started to pick up. I think we both wanted to turn around but neither wanted to say it. We rolled to the base and started up the mountain. By the time we made it to the top, the rain had turned to snow. That was actually pretty nice, but the trip back down the mountain was sketchy at best. All went well and we just cruised back to the Northside. It was what I needed at the end of a long week with a race looming on Saturday.

On Friday morning I woke up feeling terrible. Not to sure that the ride the evening before was such a good idea. On one hand, it was great to put some hurt into the legs the night before, but the rainy cold weather put the hurt on my chest cold. I went into work late and spent an hour or so getting my work load in order. I knocked out a ton of stuff that I had been neglecting because of the bike show. It was nice to wrap up this work week.

Saturday morning I woke up early and started getting all my bike stuff together for the race. By not riding much last week, all my gear was in good shape and in order. I rolled down the street and picked up Jason. After a quick breakfast at Aretha's, we drove down to Dalton. I was not feeling like racing at all. A belly full of pancakes and chest full of funk was not the recipe for racing I usually like.

By the time we finally made it to the starting line all I wanted to do was get on the trail. I jumped in on one of the first 5 waves that rolled out. Jason and I were finding our tempo and quickly caught the slower folks of the first few waves. It was nice being out on the course in muddy conditions earlier than most. There were only a few ruts by the time we made it to the top of the first climb. The corners were a blast, but completely sketchy. I felt like I was listing like a ship as I would start on the inside of the turn and slide all the way to the outside while still pedaling the whole time. It was fun.

The halfway point came quick this time. I quickly changed bottles and rolled back onto the trail. Less than 10 minutes into the second half, I spun out on a steep rocky section and rammed my left knee cap right into my stem. I think I fell over clipped in and everything. I remember a guy asking me if I was alright, but I could barely hear him. I thought that I was going to throw up it hurt so bad. Much like hitting your funny bone really hard, nothing really funny about it. After several years of single speed racing, this has happened before, but it never gets better. As I was regaining my composure, my main race target comes flying by. I shake it off and jump back on my bike. I keep his wheel for the next few miles then we hit some traffic and I was trying not to think about my knee and my cold and just stay focused on moving forward.

I hit the last section and I am pretty much over the entire race. I decided to just sit down and start spinning as solid and smooth as I could without getting to worked up. Near the top of the final climb I look back and see a pink rigid bike back down the trail. Pink bikes usually mean single speeds, so I started to ramp it up a bit but I was not feeling it at all. He caught up with me on the last part before the the road finish and rode my wheel all the way down the hill. Right at the last minute I realize that this is going to be a sprint finish. I make a break for it and he pimped me by half a wheel at the finish. Too bad for me, he started in the wave behind me, so we didn't need to sprint, but I am glad we did. That was fun. While I was trying not to puke earlier on, he had time to catch up and finally beat me to the line.

We were the first two single speeds back and I shaved 14 minutes off of my January time. I think that I had some bottled up frustration and stress from a long work week and lots of rain. I merged all my riding time into one day and it worked out pretty well. I will start my speed work this month and am looking forward to dropping some more time. The last Snake Creek is the best anyway, might as well throw down a killer time and have something to celebrate.

We have a new direction for the Yazoo Race team and there will be much more on that front as Jut and I finalize the details. New kits will be coming soon.