Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dirty Kanza preparations are in full effect

I've been working on my setup for Dirty Kanza for a while but now it's time to collect everything and put it all together. I got my frame back and built back up Monday right, after driving back from Dallas all day. Started gathering all the bits I'm borrowing and last minute items I needed to buy. I did a short shakedown ride last night to test out the handlebar setup with bags and bartape. The bike is riding great with the extra load. I thin because so much of it is on the front, the bike really doesn't ride like it's heavy at all.

I'm still waiting on one more bottle mount to put on the downtube. This will give me 4 total bottle placements and with my new sexy red bottle and full 93 ounces of fluid on the bike, and not on me. Only being able to have two mounts in the frame (and no frame bag) is one drawback of the design I went with on my Quiring, but it also means I have a lot of seatpost to utilize. I borrowed some clamps and a bottle cage from Dan and got it tucked in under the saddle bag. There wasn't quite as much room as I thought there would be so I tried mounting it on the front of the seatpost. I rode around the yard with it and quickly realized it wasn't going to work. My thighs were rubbing the bottle... nope, can't have that! So back it went to the backside of the seatpost. With 1" of tire clearance the bottle is tucked in right up under the saddlebag. The bag is actually touching the bottle but it should help hold the bottle in on the choppy gravel roads.

I also borrowed a Jandd handlebar/seat bag from Dan and got it mounted up. It's relatively small but holds more than you think. I have a tube, chammy cream, drink mix, tools and a vest in it for now. I taped up the exposed areas of my handlebars to give me full use of all the grip options. I scored some great red and black left over tape from Eastside Cycles and did my first wrap job. It's not overly professional looking but it should do the job. One full wrap of red tape and then I added a little bit of black to cover the brake lever mounts.

My food is going in the Epic Designs Gas tank (on the top tube) and my Epic Ride Research Feed bag. This will give me total access to all the food and places to put my extra light battery and some odds and ends like sport leg pills and chapstick. (I'm borrowing the gas tank from Thad, who is using a custom Epic Designs frame bag on his new RigorMoooootis)

I'm running my normal slim saddle bag. I like that it doesn't rub my legs anywhere and (generally) stays put nicely. In it is one tube, multi-tool, 3 Co2 cartridges, Co2 blaster and a patch kit.

For lights I'm running a Cateye Commuter 3 LED light that runs on 2 AAs and has a super long run time and a flashing feature. I'm also going to use my new Niterider MiNewt USB light with an extra battery for a 6 hr run time. I'm planning on using the Cateye when I can and only turning on the MiNewt when I need more light and more light throw.

The main goal of this setup it to keep all the stuff off of me. This is something both Dan and Thad stressed as essential for long rides. Let the bike carry the weight, you just pedal. I've really enjoyed working through all the different choices of gear and setups and being creative with the tools I have at my disposal, and donated from nice friends.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fortunate one

So apparently Google is down? really? Mine works? I've been searching, checking emails, reading up on other people dribble through google reader. I guess I'm one of the fortunate ones.... or maybe I should wonder how much I'd get done if in fact my little area of Google stopped working. I don't see any of my gTalk (riding buds) online... I guess they are off the map.... what are you guys doing with your freeeedom?

So some highlights from DSG I wanted to share before life moves on to something else:

• going down 'early' this year and hanging Friday afternoon
• Seeing Clay with a huge grin on his face (you know this guy is having fun)
• Meeting new cool peeps... Misfit crew, Moots crew, Curtis Inglis, even Team Dicky
• Seeing old NMB friends of late (some I haven't seen since DSG aught 8)
• My first solo 12hr event (though it actually became a solo 4.5 hr event)
• My first 1/2 lap in the rain was actually fun
• Seeing clay be the big equalizer....
• Watching Scott McConnell muster on all day with a smile
• Seeing the crowd still enjoy the day even after being anniliated by the thick clay

Some photo highlights of the weekend:

credit: Bluetree Images
I enjoyed making it up the powerline climb on my first lap. I was forced to walk it on my second lap.

credit: Travis West
Still smilin' after Lap 1

Hannah grinning after her 1st lap. Hilary still happy after getting cleaned up.

credit: Bluetree Images
Mathew Portell of having a blast on the trail

Monday, May 11, 2009

wow what a weekend - Dirt Sweat and Gears 2009

Words cannot describe all that happened this past weekend down in Fayetteville. I'm sure if you've come here for a race review, you've read (or will soon) all about the full out cement/mud fest that insued. Thankfully this was only one small part of the weekend fun. I drove down to Fayetteville early Friday morning to get setup and settled in. This event proved to be the biggest Dirt Sweat & Gears yet with over 400 racers coming out. After getting camp setup and finding where friends were setting up and I had the pleasure of meeting some new friends from Moots, Team Dicky, Will of Bolt Brothers Cycles, Misfit Psycles, and Curtis of Inglis Cycles. The trail was looking wet on Friday but everyone was optomistic it would be great if the rain stayed away. (little did we know)

I himmed and hawed about going out for a preride lap. I didn't want to trash my bike before the race but I did want to try and get a ride on a YBB bike from Moots. Unfortunately the one they had in my size was already out on the course so I quickly jumped in on the tails of Johnny5 and his teammate Dickey on my Quiring. I rode most of the trail alone and at my own slow pace. It was as wet as I'd seen it but I was loving my tire choices for the weekend.... Kenda Klaw rear and Conti Mtn King front. After cleaning up my bike and myself we made dinner plans and headed out to Raphael's for pizza and gyro plates. The 20" frankenbike race was held when we got back. This was just hilarious and painful to watch. The bike was a normal size frame (for 650b or 700c wheels) but with 20" wheels so the pedals were like 2" off the ground. Just about every racers dug their toes into the ground which caused the entire bike to donkey kick into the air. I got some great pictures of it up on my Flick set.

Saturday morning came early and the sky looked ominous. The forecast called for rain around 9am but we all hoped they were wrong, as they usually are. Camping makes it hard not to get up early so I was up by 6am and slowly getting my stuff organized and getting breakfast and coffee. Once again Clay supplied a great pancake breakfast for all the racers. The perks were huge this year from the organizers... free beer, free pancake breakfast, $10 worth of free food, free beer and a great Yazoo/DSG pint glass.

As we were all standing waiting to start the race the rain came...right on schedule at 8:55am. I knew then it would be a long day for me. I was hoping for 6 laps for my debut 12 hr solo effort. I also was hoping for a long day on the bike as training for the upcoming Dirty Kanza ride. credit: s3ll0ut

I ended up doing neither. My first lap was wet but I was enjoying riding the trail. I was pacing myself for an all day effort so I was in the back of the pack and sitting in a lot of traffic in the singletrack. I was surprised how well my tires were working. Mini review here: Kenda Klaw 1.95 rear tire gets great traction in the wet mud. I was climbing a lot more than the geared riders around me. I got about halfway into the trail before the mud started turning to cement. It was last year all over again, but this time I had a better bike with better clearance, 1 gear and a rigid fork. I was doing good with walking my bike. I had to clear out the back tire a lot but my front still had ample clearance so I trudged along. My chain started looking like a long log of poo and sounded nasty when I could pedal. I finally made it to our pit area and stopped for a bit to get some fluids. It was only 2.5 miles til the end from here and I thought I'd be back soon to clean my drivetrain, lube my chain and head back out. When I finally made it to the finish line I questioned just waiting out the next few laps to let it all dry out. I ate and drank and got my bike lubed up and decided now was the best time to attempt a 2nd lap.

Back out I went but was immediately stopped in the singletrack and the pushing began.

Push push push

clean bike


clean bike

push push

try to lift bike....too heavy (bikes were weighing in at over 100lbs with the added mud)

clean bike... lift bike and carry til my back hurt

Fuzzy passed me walking and had his bike on his shoulder in a way I'd never seen. I was immediately inspired and I cleaned my tires and picked up the bike for the next 1/4 mile. My shoes were getting no traction at all so it was just as hard to walk up a hill with a bike on my back than it was to just push a bike up. Atleast I could lean on the bike when I was pushing it.

credit: Travis West

I decided that once I got to Clay's house at the top of the hills and saw the entrance to the poop-shoot that I was quitting this lap. I struggled with quitting as I've never quit a race before. I convinced myself that if the conditions improved, I would just go back up the poop-shoot and continue my lap where I left off. That was it for me... I finally made it to Clay's house and took the right turn straight down the hill back to our pit area.... exhausted. My first lap was 2:25 and it took me almost 2 hrs just to get halfway around to Clay's house on my second lap. I could see no one was riding, even the pro riders were carrying their bikes and knew it was just a walking day. I wanted to ride, bad, but there was no choice. I could quit and enjoy the rest of the festival or I could continue to carry my bike around the woods on my back.

I'm still bummed that I quit, bummed I couldn't test my endurance but I had an awesome time the rest of the day. Everyone was still in good spirits and laughing it off. I got cleaned up and got my bike clean and grabbed a beer. I'd say the day was saved by the fun people and the food and beer available. People were quitting the race left and right at this point. Strong riders that I admire were quitting which made me feel better. I felt bad for the teams though with riders who never even got to get out and try it. I feel fortunate that I was able to enjoy some of the first lap before it all just got rediculous.

credit: s3ll0ut
there were huge lines at the bike wash stations so we used the creek to wash up... it only smelled a little like horse poo.

Big big thanks to Clay/Grant and Tryon for putting on such an amazing event. Thanks to everyone for coming out and giving it their all. The people who attend these events make them a success and this event has the best participants for sure! HUGE props to Scott McConnell...the only rider I know who started the 12hr race and didn't finish until it was over. He didn't quit when everyone around him did. Amazing!

I am sore, definitely more sore than I should be for only being out there for 1.5 laps and I still have a lot of cleaning to do on my bike and tent and gear. Next adventure looks to be the Montgomery Bell Monkey Grinder race this coming Sunday. They are giving an amazing deal on the entrance price so I hope I can get out there to support them.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Are we gonna have a repeat?

rain everywhere

We just got back in Nashville after leaving a craft show in Athens, GA where it was raining. It rained the entire drive back to Nashville and it's raining here in Nashville. I hear it even rained here in Nashville all weekend. Pretty sure it rained in Fayetteville...the home of Dirt Sweat and Gears 2009.

I hope we don't have a repeat of Laps 1-3 of last years DSG race. As a new 29er rider, I don't have a stash of extra tires built up, actually I don't have any extra tires. So... I'm calling on some NMB friends to borrow some narrower tires that will hopefully work well enough in thick, sticky clay (not toochickens Clay) conditions. I'm super excited about the race and entering it solo. Even if the race is exactly like last year, I see myself sitting out the first lap or so, since I can do that now.

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