Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Started Monday morning with a flight out of Missoula at an ungodly hour of the morning. Touched down in SLC with minimal turbulence, then booked it to Newark, where I had a lovely view of multiple smokestacks and congested highways while landing. Despite my sarcasm towardss the state of New Jersey, there are plenty of things that I love about this neck of the woods. Spent the night catching up with Mom and Dad, enjoying a old fashioned cooked meal I havent enjoyed in a while. Tuesday included a fine trip to Easton with Mom to visit friends and wax poetic at Lafayette. Went inside the Old Delta Upsilon house (which I called home for two years), and cursed at what the school had done to it. After being angry, I went to the one place in Easton that will always make me feel great: Porter's Pub. You would think a bar in Easton that is only a couple blocks away from the County Jail to not be worth a stop, but Porters is amazing, no bones about it.

Turns out old college friend Courtney was the barkeep/waitress, so it was nice to play some catch up with her. Nothing had changed, still 60 great beers to pick from, and all sorts of food to make the belly happy. Had some Troegs, which is probably my favorite brewery in the state of PA. Sure Yeungling is better known, but the stuff that Troegs makes just tastes better to me.

Porters has a great message for life on their wall, and it brings a tear to my eyes. Picture of the Troegs Dead Reconing I drank. After Porters Mom and I enjoyed a nice drive down to New Hope, followed by spending time walking around enjoying the day. Today was more of the same with sister arriving in town from Chicago, spending time catching up, all capped off with family dinner with delicious drinks. Now I'm capping it off with some Troegs Mad Elf, 11% of goodness helping to put me to sleep.

Tomorrow is the trip to Boston for the Thanksgiving and the twins' 85th birthday. Plenty of family funtime that I'm looking forward to. Hoping to get a quick visit to catch up with Jerry Guy while up in the land of bitter Red Sox folks. Once home remaining time will be spent trying to see other Lafayette folks like Niedermeyer and Little John. Thats about it, Happy Thanksgiving to all, eat a bunch of food, and enjoy the good times with those around you. Link dump if you need to waste time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Onto The Next

Got my arse over the academic hurdle referred to as the GRE earlier today, so now its onto better and brighter things.  The plan now includes a few more days of riding before heading back to the Northeast for family and festivities.  Can't wait to get my full of traffic, dirty looks, and breathing in dirty air.  Self and Dollar Bill will be heading out to ride out own version of the Iron Cross on Sunday, 11 am at original K-Hole if you feel like joining, be ready for long ride with no refueling stops, the weak will be left on the side of the road.  

In Montana related news Saturday is the conclusion of the state cyclocross series, which for many might conflict with that Cats Griz game.  Too bad cyclocross and Cats Griz pales in comparrison to the ultimate life experience: Lafayette vs Lehigh.  Nothing better than watching one of the greatest degree granting institutions of the world (Lafayette) go and try to beat the crap out of that fourth rate group of life rejects who are too stupid to realize how much they suck (Lehigh).  It's quite the buzzkill I can't be out there with fellow alums sucking down a Mad Dog at 6 in the morning on an empty stomach, oh well I might just have to do that anyway.

Sunday is one last attempt to get a big ride in before all motivation is lost, once again if you wish to join, be at the old Kettlehouse at 11 am.  Bikes will be followed by football, and hopefully I wont have to throw something against the wall because the Giants royally suck.  Also got to deal with that packing before my way too early flight.  I am certain that being forced to spend multiple hours in a giant enclosed tube (airplane), will result me in getting some version of whatever flu is the new hot comodity.  All I got for now, enjoy the link dump. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Iron Cross - Yes Please

Came across this article today over at DirtRag, and it looks like it might just be one of the greatest cyclocross races ever.  The idea of the race goes against the conventional thought of what a cyclocross race should be, but who the hell cares.  Cyclocross lasting for more than three hours and including thousands of feet of climbing, why the hell not, dumber things have happened.  And for you folks who came on over for Rolling Thunder and enjoyed the spiral of death, it looks like the Iron Cross race has that, but on steroids.  Maybe we can get this going on here in Missoula, make it include Deer Creek Rd, a trip up Mt. Deanstone, throw in some of the Old Marshall Grade?  Like I said before, dumber things have happened.  

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Winter Escapes

I’m taking a page out of Josh Tack’s book today.  Since I have not been doing any racing to write about, and minimal motivation has kept me from doing any “writeworthy” rides, I need to find other cycling related topics to ramble on about.  As Old Man Winter’s presence becomes more and more apparent (even though it's sunny today), I’m listing off the top 9 of best cyling escapes (with a slant towards MTB) in the US.  Take a look, find some plane tickets, and plan a winter escape.

 9.) Phoenix, AZ:  Great riding, great weather, and halfway decent culture.  South Mountain has tons of technical trails, and is literally right out the backdoors of the folks who live south of the city.  Other great riding within a drive includes McDowell Mountain, White Tanks, and Black Canyon City.  Phoenix has a quality group of mountain bikers, with racing all through the winter, and ASU being nearby also means plenty of cheap booze.  Phoenix is one giant parking lot though, so it's high on the list. 

 8.) Colorado Springs, CO:  Can be a crapshoot as far as the weather is concerned.  If the weather is good (meaning no snow, and 40s to 50s), and trails are open, you will be smiling.  Pros such as Katie Compton, Kelli Emmit, and Alison Dunlap choose this for their winter training grounds, so it obviously doesn’t suck.  Famous cycling rant-man Patrick O’Grady lives here as well.  Bonus points for Garden of the Gods and The Air Force Academy are nearby as worthwhile things to check out.  Just be sure to BYOB.

 7.) Albuquerque, NM:  Like Colorado Springs, the weather can be a crapshoot, but odds are it will still be better than wherever you are escaping.  Great riding in the mountains north of the city, and phenomenal southwestern culture within the city.  There’s a university there, so cheap anything is available.

 6.) St. George, UT:  Gooseberry Mesa is a well known spot to go ride, and proximity to Vegas make this a great place to head once it gets cold.  You can spend hours upon hours riding trails, while being treated to spectacular views.  The main buzzkill is you are in the heart of Mormon Country, so places will be closed on Sunday, and 3.2 beer will only make you have to pee.  

 5.) El Paso, TX:  I’ve never ridden down in El Paso, but one thing is for sure, they certainly have great winter weather for riding.  Current US Singlespeed Champ Jen Wilson, and husband Dave (Brec Epic SS winner) live in El Paso.  This summer they told me the riding is great, nice and technical with steep climbs and descents.  Juarez is just across the border, so cheap anything is available, just get back to the US before the sun goes down.

 4.) Boulder City, NV:  If it’s good enough for the Outdoor Interbike Demo, then its good enough for me.  Technical desert riding is like a gift from the cycling gods, and this spot has it in spades.  Las Vegas is a pretty easy place to get to, so that makes travel easy, plus if you’re lucky you can make some money while down there. 

 3.) Sedona, AZ:  Sedona might get some snow, and can be cold, but it’s referred to as a mountain bike mecca for a reason.  The riding is absolutely phenomenal, and there is tons of it.  One of the best weekends I spent riding was in Sedona, where a group of 20 or some mountain bikers, rode close to every trail as possible down there.  The landscape of Red Rocks makes almost any place you stop of picture worthy vista. 

 2.) Hawaii:  This is pretty simple, Hawaii is just wonderful, and they have mountain biking, so it’s a no brainer.  Sure getting a bike between islands is a bitch and will cost you your first born, but if you are spending time in Hawaii from November to March you have no reason to complain.  Besides where else can you see an erupting volcano in the morning, and then ride singletrack in the afternoon. 

 1.) Tucson, AZ: Pros train here in the winter for a reason, it is warm and the riding is great.  Starr Pass, The AZ trail, the entire front side of Mt Lemmon, and that is just a start of where to ride.  Added bonus of SSUSA being held there this February, and a great cycling community.  Cheap burritos and plenty of tequila are a great way to cap off any day of riding, and ladies who populate the U are gorgeous.  Any time you can start in town, ride to a trail, then follow that same tail all the way to another county, you are in a special place.  If you haven’t ridden in Tucson during the winter you are missing out.  

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Tale of Two Headlines

Media bias is everywhere, sometimes its funny, and sometimes it used to brainwash, this is a story of the funny.  For my cycling news, I mainly default to three websites.  Drunkcyclist takes care of the cycling/life/rants/fill in the blank, VeloSnooze for domestic stuff, and CyclingSnooze for anything else I might miss.  For race news, I prefer CyclingSnooze, for a couple of reasons 1.) They cover more races 2.)seem to provide a better report, with more photos and 3.)don't seem to have some sort of quota for weekly articles where they stroke Lance Armstrong's ego.  But today, I was thrown off by what I would have to call a "pro-Euro" slant of one of their headlines.

Yesterday over in Nommay (somewhere in Europe), there was a Cyclocross World Cup, where Niels Albert, and Katie Compton won the men's and women's race respectively.  The headline provided by CyclingSnooze for the women's race read, "Vos second to USA 'cross specialist"  Now before I do anything more to make myself look like the ugly-America, the race report did go on to describe how Compton basically stomped out the field, and that she is the top female cross racer out there.  Vos is the current women's world champ for cross, so I get that she will get a fair amount of coverage no matter what result she gets, but to exclude Compton's name for the report headline, just seems silly to me.  Also referring to Compton as a "cross specialist" is an understatement, she does have a short track national championship, oodles and oodles of results on the track, and to boot she can rock a singlespeed with the best of them.  Refer to Compton as what she truly is, a "talented all around cyclist."

Conversely, if you head on over to the coverage of the race by VeloSnooze, the headline includes Compton's name.  That was the only thing they got right, there were no pictures to speak of, and I think that the report was slapped together based on a bunch of notes written on the back of a greasy napkin.  There wasn't much of report to describe what went on during the race, so VeloSnooze is once again second fiddle as far as providing an actual report.  I doubt that the folks who write reports over at CyclingSnooze have a honest bias against the US, that they want to portray through report headlines, but this was just something that caught my eye.  Come on, the US got ride of Bush, Armstrong didnt win the tour, and I dont think there is a menu that has "freedom fries" on it anymore, which should be enough to make Europe stop thinking of the US like the kid who got left behind in kindergarten because they couldnt figure out how to use scissors and ate paste.  Maybe Compton will use this most likely unintentional slap in the face to get super pissed off, and just destroy the rest of the field for the rest of the year.   

Friday, November 6, 2009

Red Skies at Night, The SingleSpeed will take flight

It's been a while since my last night ride, so last night I loaded up on spare warm clothes, made sure the batteries were all charged, and headed up into the Rattlesnake.  I was hoping to make it to the top of the Ravine trail before I had to switch on all the lights, and despite my poor excuse for "legs" i managed to pull it off.  The picture below sucks, but you get the idea, nice colors from the remnants of the sunset were my reward.  Before heading down Ravine, I took a quick little drink to warm up the bones for the descent.  

Riding the Ravine trail in the daylight can be tricky enough if you don't know all the turns, and whatnot, but make everything pitch black, and you better have either your A game, or zero desire to go fast.  I'd like to think I hung out right between those two options, never getting too gnarly, but not riding the brakes.  Good times, and as with any trip down the Ravine trail, you better be ready to ride back up unless you want to just ride pavement back to town.  The climb worked me over like a load of laundry, and I was wishing I had me a 22 in the rear.  Oh well, I finally dragged my ass to the top, and with the extra chill in the air tossed on a jacket, warmer gloves, and pulled the leg warmers down so they covered all skin.  I kept rocking the flimsy PBR cycling cap, because I felt like.  After polishing off the contents of the flask, I headed back to town via Dropout, stopping every now and again to check out the glow of lights from the city.  

In other news, SSCXWC09 is taking place over in Portland this weekend.  I was hoping to find me a Sugar Momma in time for the race, so I could afford to go over there and live it up for a weekend with fellow singlespeeders and Hockett, but alas, I am poor and will be spending the weekend in the Zoo Town.  It looks like they are keeping the course top secret, and scrapped the Saturday qualifier idea for a big old party.  Those Portland folk know how to do things up right.  I'm hoping that someone who isnt paid to ride bikes, and looks like they were rolled off a curb, wins this one.  

Montana's got its State Championships this weekend, and even though I would love to pretend like I know what I'm talking about, I dont have a clue who is gonna win.  It's too obvious to guess that Man and Woman Curry are gonna take it, but you never know, plenty of folks looks spooky strong.  If i had my way, there would also be a coed tag team class, where you pick a partner of the opposite sex, and are forced to alternate laps.  One bike, two people, ride a lap, pass off the bike, try to keep the legs moving, wait nervously, get bike back from partner, ride next lap.  That could be more entertaining than a room full of monkeys on crack.  Maybe I'll make my way onto the Montana Racing board of whatever, and get this as an option, stranger things have happened.  

Enough of this rambling.  Happy Friday, enjoy the weekend, try the veal, and don't forget to tip your servers.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Something awesome, and Something really dumb

The great American poet Lloyd Christmas once stated "its true what they say, the elderly though slow and dangerous behind the wheel of car, can still serve a purpose to society."  84 year old Lan Yin Tsai proved that, and did it with style to spare.  Anyone who has pedaled a bike for 150 miles or more, knows that it takes some strong legs, big lungs, and some mental toughness for good measure.   But doing it on a singlespeed in a dress and wearing high heels, well that is just awesome.  I love the fact that she said:
"I went to church, so I always dressed up and would ride my bicycle.  so that's why I do it that way - I do it that way naturally.  That's the way I ride my bike."
Singlespeeds, and church, helping to raise money to fight MS, things dont get better than that.  Acting as icing on the cake, the gal did it all in New Jersey.  Which hopefully will help to stop the myths that all ladies in New Jersey, have hairstyles which are held up by a can of hairspray, and six inch long painted fingernails.  I doubt it, but I'm sure afterwords she made her way to a proper dinner, and plowed through some greasy burger.  

According to the folks over at VeloNews, the organizers of the Giro might be considering starting a future edition of the race in either New York City, Philly, or DC.  When I read this, I was reminded of a what my buddy Della used to say in college when someone voiced a stupid idea, "On a scale from 1 to bad, that is the worst idea ever."  First things first the race is called the Giro D'Italia, so in my opinion the bulk of the race should take place either on Italian soil, or just over the border for a short period of time.  Second, this will probably do very little to improve cycling's popularity in the states.  The NFL is trying this in London, sure the locals will show up to watch and experience the event, but American Football is still small potatoes across the pond.  

Third, they picked three horrible cities.  People in DC only care about something if it has to do with politics, or lets them talk about the current campaign they are working on.  Sure people might turn out to watch the stage, but they will constantly be checking msnbc on their iPhones.  Philly is just full of surly folks who might boo everyone, even the winner.  Besides the best part of bike racing in Philly is "The Wall", and I dont see any promoter agreeing to put that in the first stage of a grand tour.  Although it would be funny to see all of the Europeans racers getting sick when they are told they have to try a cheesesteak with cheese whiz to get the really Philly experience.  New York will be full of the same self centered folks that DC would have, but with a hint of the surlyness of Philly.  

If these organizers were serious about starting the race on American soil, they would go with a place that has some better cycling culture, and potential for better fans.  The Twin Citys would be good option, plus the drunken heckling of those Minnesota Mafia boys and girls would be memorable for the visiting racers.  What about Golden, Colorado?  It would be great to see a grand tour stage mimicking a scene out of American Flyers.  I can only hope one of the racers would grow a mustache as a tip of the cap to Costner.  Keep the Giro over in Italy, maybe sending it into France or Switzerland for a bit.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Granny Gear unveils 2010 24 Hour Series Dates, Laird Knight lights a cigar with a 100 dollar bill

Even though Granny Gear hosted the 24 Hours of Moab as the 2009 24 Hour National Championships less than a month ago, Laird Knight is keeping his foot on the gas.  Earlier today, the schedule for the 2010 Granny Gear 24 Hour series was released to the public.  The 24 Hours of Moab, Big Bear, and 9 Mile will be the three races to comprise the series, with the 24 Hours of Big Bear acting as the 2010 National Championships.  The series is doing a phenomenal job of making getting an even distribution of races in the eastern, central, and western part of the US.  However, the big question that popped into my mind, was is three races really enough to comprise a complete series?

If you head on over to the Granny Gear page, you can see that from 2006 to 2008, six separate races were used to comprise the entire series.  In my opinion, six races makes a proper series, because racers have more chances to race, on varying terrain, and with six racers the best racers will emerge with the overall title.  So why would Granny Gear shift to three events in 2009 and 2010?  My theory is pretty simply, because the entry fees are so high for Granny Gear events, only three races are needed for them to turn a healthy profit.  Why go through all of the headaches, red tape, and general BS that goes along with putting on a 6 separate 24 hour races, when you can make enough money off of 3 races?

The race prices are really high, and that is compared to both the biggest 24 Hour race out there (Old Pueblo), and probably the smallest 24 Hour race (Rapelje).  Now I dont know what sort of costs go into the 24 Hours of Moab, Big Bear, or 9 Mile, but it just seems like the Granny Gear name puts a huge tax onto the entry fees.  Granny Gear, also seems to to a great job of milking every cent out of anyone who shows up to their events, racers or not.  At Moab this year, you had to pay 10 bucks a person a night, just to stay at the venue.  Technically a solo racer, who spent the whole night awake, either riding laps or refueling in the pit was being charged to camp out that night.  There were about 900 racers at Moab this year, and I'll guess an extra 200 non-racers, making 1100 total people, staying an average of 2 nights, comes to an extra 22 grand for Granny Gear charging people to sleep on PUBLIC LAND!  Maybe next year people will be charged for using toilet paper in the port-a-jons, or for taking showers.  I can see the signs now, $3 toilet paper, $5 cold shower, $10 hot shower, you may think I'm joking, but stranger things have happened.  

Rapelje cost me 55 bucks, and that included a whole bunch of food, hot showers, free camping, and a great weekend race vibe.  Even though the race was rained out after 8 hours, I didnt feel like I had been screwed out of any money.  Why does Granny Gear have to charge so much money, I guess because they give away such great swag, and I didnt see anyone get any swag at Moab.  I dont know what goes on at the inner circle of Granny Gear, but I would sure love to hear why they only feel the need to put on 3 races next year.  

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm out 20 bucks

While mountain biking and other forms of bike riding is how I get my competitive juices out, I invest far too much energy towards other sports, mainly football and baseball.  Sunday was a big day for me, the Giants played the Eagles in the am, followed by the Yankees versus the Phillies at night.  The sports nuts can call this all a big NY vs PA battle, but for a kid from the Dirty Jerz like myself it is really North Jersey vs South Jersey battle, in my mind.  If you were raised in North Jersey, you would be rooting for the Giants and Yankees on Sunday, South Jerseyans would be pulling for the Ealges and Phillies.  I have seen people get slapped in the face because they told someone they were from North Jersey, and that person felt they were from South Jersey.

Anyway, this is my fourth year of gambling on the Giants Eagles game against none other than Big Jonny over at the DC.  One case of Olde English is put on the line, we talk smack to each other during the season, complain about how horrible the Giants or Eagles are looking, and when all is said and done one of us winds up with a fridge full of malt liquor at the others expense.  Well this year I talked too much crap leading up to the game, and the gambling gods have put my in my place.  I knew the Giants were in trouble when my mom called me ten minutes into the game and told me the Giants were already down by two touchdowns, I knew it was just the tip of the iceberg.  The Giants completely crapped the bed, and I have no faith that they will finish with a record better than 9-7.  A team that everyone says has a great defense gave up 40 points, to a Westbrook-less Eagles, and Brandon Jacobs who is supposed to be a "wrecking ball" cant even break 90 rush yards.  With that Jonny will be getting a check in the mail, and I'm sure once he finishes this semester at law school he will be drinking booze that my money bought.  I wouldnt have it any other way.  

At least the Yankees won, keeping the surly folks of Philly angry and scared about tonight's game 5 of the series.  I was out on the Yankees for about 5 years or so, but when you combine the Cubs sucking since July, and three straight weeks of NY sports radio at the beginning of September I am back on the bandwagon.  What can I say it gives me more to talk about with my grandmother than the weather.  I just hope that Cliff Lee shows some signs of mortality tonight, and the Yanks can put this away, so the Philly folks wont gloat about the Eagles win too much.  That would just add on to the joy that I am feeling because it looks like we get a week rain free in the 50's up here in Missoula.  At least I'll get one more week of mountain biking up in the Rattlesnake before Old Man Winter settles down.  The race season for myself is done, and hibernation is just on the horizon.  Maybe some time on the trainer will be in order, but I think I'll just try to recreate the training montage from Rocky IV and Rocky VI.