Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lost Valley - KOM on the Venerable Shitbike

Only moments before, I was in a downpour.

I keep stating how much I don't like Lost Valley, but I think reality is that I don't like racing there.  Whenever I ride there, I end up enjoying it quite a bit.  Today I went out with quite a bit of energy and quite a bit of lactic acid in the legs from the workouts over the last few days.  I hadn't quite completed a full lap when the sky opened up and poured rain.  I took it in stride because it only lasted a couple minutes.  Like, maybe three minutes.  Enough to make me cold and the trail slippery.

Then...the sun came out and it became a beautiful night.  I was fine with ending the ride, I was really tired.  In a strange twist, I was also riding incredibly well.  That was confirmed by my Garmin and a nice, long KOM that contained some of the best single track out there.  Further proving that perceived exertion is nearly meaningless.

And I forgot my seatbag.

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's (more than) Halfway Over - 50 Years Young

In the cave man days, average life expectancy was between 25 and 30 years old.  By those standards, I'm like Methuselah.  By today's standards, I've got a few years to go.  Latest estimates say that a dude living in the United States will probably be around for 76 years.  That means Deanna, Hanna, Tyson, and Eli will be annoyed by me for another 26 years. Think about that for a moment.

After riding the Redline up to run the stairclub stairs, I came home to a nice, nice cheesecake and candles for my birthday.  Sweet baby Jesus, cheesecake!  Perhaps it will take one of those 76 years and throw it into the rubbish, but eating cheesecake is worth it.

Yesterday was supposed to be a grand Happy 50th Birthday ride for me at Greensfelder.  It was supposed to be so perfect.  That's the first place I ever rode (and raced!) a mountain bike, and I wanted it to be something special, something to remember.  Frankly, the day was off to a rocky start and I had decided by 3pm that I was not going to do anything but sit and bitch quietly to myself.  And I did sit and bitch, mostly quietly.  By 4pm, my mood had changed and I gathered my things to make good on my original idea.

Because of recent developments, I'm back to riding the blue shitbike.  Another sub-text of the day was to rock the shitbike like a boss.  I feel that I accomplished both missions.  I blasted the entire trail system, rocked the hell out of it in fact, 6 minutes faster than the last time I did the same task.  My Garmin did not upload any segments which caused me to revert to bitching when I got home, but I did get the overall result and I haven't felt that good on a bike in a long time.

Who knows how long we've got?  Should we want to live forever, or until we're satisfied?  And what is satisfying?  We each answer those questions in different ways.  I'm going to stick with the idea that the little moments, the great and not so great, add up to a lifetime.  So live those little moments.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Car Watching - 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396

After getting some business done at Protech Collision in Ellisville, I wandered into the showroom.  Not really a showroom, exactly, but a place where really nice cars set on display while waiting on some paint or body work.  And what did my wandering eyes spy?  Why, a 1967 Chevelle, of course.
This absolute beauty is a SS 396.  Beautiful red paint, smooth lines, and some really base looking wheels, painted body color with some wide drag radials on the back.
396's in 1967 pumped out 375 horsepower.  Who knows what this one has to work with?
It's hard to find a bad angle on this one.  I was trying to figure out what sort of body work this one might need and I didn't come up with much.  There might be some misalignment of the fender/door relationship....I don't know.  I'd start this baby up and drive her home.  Any imperfections would just be character lines to me.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rex is a problem solver

It's really hard to lay on the hard wood floor while you're waiting for scraps from the table.  So why not pull up, I don't know, maybe a fluffy comforter and enjoy the wait?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Car Watching - 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS

 I was lucky enough to catch this 1972 Malibu in the parking lot today while I was test riding a bike.  It was obviously a driver rather than a show car, but it's really eye-catching.  This appears to be an SS model, and it says 350 on the fender. That engine was rated at only 175 horsepower (all engine ratings went down in 72 because the rules went from gross ratings to net ratings, even if the power was unchanged) I have no doubt that it started out as a regular 350, but the raised cowl hood says there's probably more under there.
 The green was quite fetching, and the mag wheels are the perfect style and compliment to the car.
 Pretty good lines all the way around.  And the bumpers were top notch, too.  I spied the interior and noticed the column shifter, so it's an automatic for sure.  It has some classic plates, too.
All in all, it was a very pleasant surprise.  A little while later, I heard it rumble away and there isn't much chance of it having the stock 350!

Surprisingly, I Have Moved On

Rex Loves Me Either Way

It came as a surprise to me that I really am done with racing.

As early as mid-summer 2016 I had begun to plot my 2017 season.  I wanted to do Tuesday night criteriums, some mountain bike races, and local cyclocross races.  I talked with a couple close friends about doing some close out-of-town trips to race the mountain bike.

Training has been awesome.  Not the full-on, disciplined training of old, but old-fashioned hard riding.  I'm in great shape.  I feel fast.  I love the pain and hurt associated with riding on the rivet.

But I don't see the point in racing.  It just won't accomplish anything for me.  I can ride my bike (when it's convenient) and ride it fast and hard and enjoy the hell out of it, and I don't need to race as a way to justify it.

Good. I'm happy.  I'm at ease with it.  Whew, that was way harder than it should have been.  Now I just have to find another tag-line under Pedal Brake Pedal.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Hanna is 17 - Better Late Than Never Edition

 My darling princess Hanna is now 17.  Her birthday was actually a couple weeks ago.  I finally got around to posting about it and she's 1/12 of the way to 18.  As usual, her and cousin Max celebrate their birthdays together with the family at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Max is in the background throwing up his set.
 She's 17, he's 19.  Both are just kids, but they're big kids.  She's a junior in high school and Max is enjoying the college experience.  Eli, on the left, is only concerned with getting some ice cream.
Hanna was having trouble lighting the candles because Max kept blowing on them.  Some things never change.  Tyson and Eli both have April birthdays and maybe I will not be so tardy with the photographic evidence of their parties.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

The Cycling House - Tucson Arizona

 I was the incredibly fortunate guy to attend a bicycle camp at The Cycling House in Tucson, Arizona. I've been prodded to go to one of these things for years, so I had to take advantage of this chance.  The Cycling House has been hosting cyclists for years, a warmer-weather alternative to normal winter riding.  Spectacular accommodations, spectacular riding, an incredible staff...you truly have to experience it to understand just how amazing this past week has been.
 The bikes are waiting for us in the garage, along with a full service shop and nutrition station.  That's my bike in the stand, and the fine Cycling House folks offered to build it for me but, you know...
 Yes, the house is every bit as awesome as I am telling you.  That table goes on for twice this length, it didn't fit in the photo.
 All of us riders were treated to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, cooked by the staff.  Get this:  not only are they great cooks, but every one of the staff is an accomplished cyclist, triathlete, climber, etc.  No, you can't beat them.  And yes, they are fantastic people without ego and are only at the Cycling House to usher in your awesome cycling experience.  Solid, solid people.  I should also note that the attendees of this camp were some fine people, as well.  We had people from St. Louis, Montana, Colorado, California, Baltimore, and New York.  I had a great time meeting and riding with them!!
 This house is nothing short of stunning.
 Very large patio.  I didn't get a photo of the pool or the hot tub just beyond.
 On the first night, I opened up my suitcase and this is what I found.
 My view in the morning.  There is the pool.
 Just one of the cool prints that dot the walls of the House.
 Morning Yoga.  I believe I was the only one who didn't participate.
 I couldn't contain my enthusiasm on the first day.  Such a diverse ride with a little bit of everything.
 Me, atop Mt. Lemmon.  Hell yes, I suffered like a pig.  I stayed with the tough guys for 16 miles, and then entered into some kind of personal hell at 17 miles, corresponding with the 7000ft of altitude.  I made it to the top, all 20.7 miles of it.  I wanted to crack the 2 hour mark and I didn't.  Around 2:05 after I backed out the slow start at the bottom.  There were so many groups attempting Lemmon that day, more than cars actually.
 Yep, over 5000 feet of climbing in one bite.  You know what was more fun?  Going down.  It was a killer, killer descent.
 We walked our legs out one night and came upon a strange little park situated on a spring.  I thought this sign was really interesting.
 Day one: Super cool ride with some awesome climbs and some great speed work.
 Day two: Mt. Lemmon needs no further introduction.  It won this time, maybe I'll crack two hours next time.
Day three:  Gates Pass.  I think this was my favorite day.  We hit a stretch of road that was so fast it was scary....followed by a return up Gates Pass...all 18 percent of it.
 Last day: Parker Canyon Lake.  Pretty far south of Tucson, so we shuttled down to the Sonoita Winery as a launching pad.  Windy day, but gorgeous scenery and a blazing fast return route.

 Yes, my room mate texted me to stop snoring one morning.  Sometimes I snore.  Ooops.

 The mountains await us as we are suiting up at the Sonoita Winery.
 Parker Canyon Lake.  Mexico is just over those mountains.
 Sometimes the sky in Arizona is so picturesque it makes you take random photos.
Last view of Tucson, from the airport entrance.  It's a week I won't ever forget.

If you find yourself longing to take a cycling adventure, be sure to check out thecyclinghouse.com.  Tucson is but one of the adventures.  There are tours in Montana, Solvang, Mallorca, a tour to Yellowstone, as well as an MTB camp with Todd Wells.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tucson Arizona Here I Come

 It's been a long time since I've had a vacation.  I really, really need it.  And I'm not going to visit the Bowling Museum or the Giant Ball of Twine.  I'm going to Tucson, Arizona!
 Believe it or not, the Caad12 fits in that box, and that box is going on the plane with me tomorrow.  I'm going to ride my ass off for four days, climb some mountains, ascend MT. Lemon, and probably find something to complain about while I'm enjoying 80 degree days.  Hey, know thyself, I always say.  I'll be sure to take lots of photos and relay the stories when I get back.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lost Valley - Because Sometimes You Have To Ride Where You Don't Want To

 I never noticed this handy map at the small parking lot off of 94.  Why ride the boring gravel road from the Mound when you can just park at this handy little lot and bomb IMMEDIATELY down into Lost Valley??
Not a ton of riding today, but I did Lost Valley counter clockwise (the typical race direction) which is probably important.  I can't put my finger on exactly why I don't like CCW direction.  I thought it was Lost Valley in general but when I rode there earlier in the week we did CW and it was quite enjoyable.  One fact is that the trail is really choppy.  Getting a rhythm when not on a gravel section is impossible.  There are so many things to keep you off balance.  I like hard trails; Chubb Greensfelder, Matson hill, etc. are my favorites.  Lost Valley is different, that's all I can come up with.  I guess if I rode there enough I'd figure it out.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cliff Cave - Because Everyone Can Learn to Corner Better

To break my Greensfelder addiction, late this afternoon I went to Cliff Cave.  Braving the traffic on Telegraph Road, the sun burst out right as I drove into the park.  I never spend much time here, as it's pretty easy to cover the trails back and forth in an hour, but it's an hour well spent.  Hitting the leaf-strewn corners at full tilt, corner after connected corner, builds skills.  I feel like a bad ass drifting through left/right transitions.  I saw one couple walking.  Other than that, I was totally alone out there.
I had to get this shot.  The super blue sky, light and puffy clouds, the steep hillside, and the old trusty seat bag.  This view and the trails made me forget about all the dumb things I've done lately.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Preparing for Tucson Road Bike trip by riding Mountain Bikes

It's true!  I've been riding the hell out of my mountain bike all winter long, and today was the first ride since November on this bike.

Why would I do this?  I've known for a while that I would be going on the trip to Arizona with the Cycling House.  But how many winters are this nice, I ask you?  I just never really got the Caad12 off the trainer. There it sat while I've worn out a few tires on the High Ball.

On the plus side, I like the Caad12.  The ride is great, it's light, it's stiff, it looks good.  And I have a ton of anger to release on the hills of Tuscon.  And perhaps Mount Lemon has a ton of anger to release on me.  Challenge accepted!

Car Watching - BMW M4

 Admittedly, I was drawn to this car initially by the color.  And the M badge on the grill.  It's none other than a BMW M4.  The M division pumps out the highest performance cars from the German maker, and the M4 is a hot one.
 This dude sports a twin turbo inline 6 under the hood with 425 horsepower.  I couldn't tell whether it was an auto or stick, I didn't want to lean in too close.
The tailpipes are massive, as is the trend these days, and it adds to the menacing look.  So do the big black wheels.  The sort of acid green color is hotter in real life, but you get the picture.