Saturday, February 14, 2015

Seriously, WTF?

Before we get too far into the meat and, well, the seriousness of today's post, I have to encourage you to go over to the Tatanka 100 website.  I'm doing some guest blogging over there about what's coming up in this year's edition of the race...big changes and I think the race will be really amazing.  There are shorter distances if you don't want to ride your bike for 8+ hours as well as combining the whole thing with the BAM Festival so there is live music until 10 pm for family and friends.  Check it out.

OK, let's get really, really serious.  Last time I was here, I asked everyone to take some action on HB1030, the 3' Passing Law which would require all vehicles overtaking a cyclist to pass with at least 3' between them.  The law was amended to read a minimum of 3' under 35mph and a minimum of 6' over 35mph.  Great!  This is all good news, but I will say, we need to barrage our representatives with e-mails and/or calls to pass this bill.  The bill has been deferred to another day 3 times.  I know that this is a common practice, but I've also watched them defer bills right out of the legislative session, obviously killing the whole thing.

All this being said, and I shouldn't even give this guy any publicity at all, ever, we have good ol' Gordon Howie, Tea Bagger extraordinare, turning this into a political thing and uses scare tactics in his headline, Move Over Stupid or Go to Jail (and his follow up post, Why I Hate Bicycles)  WTF?  First, NO ONE is going to jail.  When was the last time you saw someone go to jail for a traffic violation?  It's almost always a misdemeanor.  Second, since when is giving someone the courtesy of not clipping them, maiming them or killing them with your car a Left/Right thing?  Last time I checked it was a human decency thing.  If you read his blog post on this you'll see that he only sees two options for passing a cyclist.  1.  Swerving into an oncoming lane of traffic. 2.  Buzzing the cyclist.  I had a conversation with a person once about this exact same subject and their opinion was the same as Howie's until I asked them "you do realize there is a 3rd option, right?"  SLOW THE FUCK DOWN until it is safe to pass.  It's going to cost you about 5 seconds in the grand scheme of things.

Some of his solutions for this are not allowing cyclists on roadways not intended for cycling OR posting a minimum speed limit, that is half of the maximum speed limit, and if you can't maintain that speed then you can't ride on this road.  So, South Dakotans, how many times have you been on a rural road in our state and come upon a tractor/combine/bailer/farm implement , etc., on the road?  What do you currently do when this happens?  Using my best Arnold Horshack impersonation, OOOH, OOOH, let me guess. You SLOW DOWN until it is safe to pass, then you go around them, not buzzing or clipping them, and probably wave to the farmer/rancher on your way by, right?  But using Howie's demented logic, if
Buzz that slow moving
son-of-a-bitch.  I dare ya.
there is a minimum posted speed limit, well, then these vehicles shouldn't be allowed on the roadway.  This is the kind of logic that is happening in our state folks.  E-mail your legislators NOW.

While you're there, tell them to KILL HB1214. HB1214 is a bill requiring cyclists to wear fluorescent/reflective clothing while riding on a highway (for those of you living in Rapid City, if you ever have ridden in the new bike lanes on Jackson Blvd., you've ridden on a highway).  This bill is stupid for many reasons, let me explain.
1. There are already laws regarding reflectors/lights for cyclists. This is just an added layer bureaucracy on top of what we have.
2.  This law puts an undue burden on people that are poor and use a bicycle for their only means of transportation.  Yes, I know you can get a vest for under $10 at a hardware store, but if you don't think that is a burden for some people, then you've not been that poor.
3.  There have been many studies showing that fluorescent clothing does NOT increase the visibility of the cyclist.  I could link this for you, but when I Googled it, I found a lot of data on this.  The biggest thing I found in multiple studies I read were that if your clothing contrasts with your surrounding you're slightly more visible.  Doesn't have to be fluorescent.  Riding in the city where everything is grey? Wear a color other than grey.  Boom, problem solved.
4.  (This piggybacks on #3) In those some of those same studies I read, it said that cyclist that did wear fluorescent/reflective clothing had a false sense of safety because of the clothing.  They thought that since they were in these "hi-vis" colors that motorists would see them, making them less defensive in their riding.
5.  (This is the biggest one for me) If a motorist hits a cyclist that was not wearing fluorescent/reflective clothing it gives them an out for a crime.  "Well I didn't see them because they weren't wearing fluorescent.  It doesn't matter that I was uploading a selfie of my crotch to my Tinder profile."  Motorists get off in auto-bicycle accidents WAY to often in this country, lets not give them another reason.

Damn, I've been on my soapbox WAY too much lately.  I'll do my best to post something lighter, maybe Not-So-Serious next time around.

Oh yeah, for you loyal readers, thanks for being around.  I got a shout-out from one of the blog-o-sphere's biggest bike-blogger/douche bags (same diff), Stevil Kinevil at All Hail The Black Market (the shout out is about half way through this post).  You were in on the ground floor.  This shit's about to get HUGE!

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Not too much to ask...
(image borrowed from Biking Bis blog)
For the first official post of 2015 I'm asking that all (3) of you that faithfully read this blog to e-mail your state senator regarding bill HB1030.  What is HB1030 you ask?  The short answer it requires motorists give a 3 foot berth from the furthest point on the right of their vehicle (mirrors, cattle catchers, jousting poles, machine guns, what ever is on the right side of their vehicle) and the furthest point left of the cyclist (typically handle bar, but could be extended middle finger).

A blog out of Sioux Falls called The MinusCar Project wrote this up yesterday that gives the complete skinny on what HB1030 is all about.

It’s officially official. HB 1030 is a bicycle related bill that will work its way through the South Dakota Legislature this winter. Riders will want to pay attention to this bill. When laws are scrutinized anything can happen to them. Additions, deletions, omissions. The last time a bicycle bill was in the legislature South Dakota was close to becoming the first state in the union to legislate cyclist wardrobe – and that was on a 3 foot passing bill.

This year HB 1030 is mostly a 3 foot passing bill. Notably this bill seems to have originated with the Department of Transportation. My sense is a change to law recommended by state staff is more likely to be successful.

Part I

The bill will introduce a new section into the books that reads:

“The driver of any motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall allow a three foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including any mirror or other projection, and the left side of the bicycle. The driver of the motor vehicle shall maintain that separation until safely past the overtaken bicycle. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.”

I’m pretty ok with adding this into law. I do recommend adding the word MINIMUM in the sentence “shall allow a three foot separation.” Many riders say 3 feet isn’t enough and adding this word implies more is better.

Part II

The bill will amend an existing law. The bold portion indicates the amendment:

A person operating a bicycle shall give a continuous signal of intention to turn right or left during the last one hundred feet traveled by the bicycle before turning. The signal shall also be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn. A signal by hand and arm need only be given intermittently if the hand is needed in the control operation of the bicycle. No driver of a bicycle may overtake another vehicle on the right if the overtaken vehicle is signaling to make a right turn.

I am always happy to point out the most dangerous place to ride is to the right of a right turning vehicle. How do you know vehicle is turning right? You don’t. This amendment would make it illegal to ride to the right of a right turn signaling vehicle. I say don’t ride to the right of any vehicle.

I’m neutral on this amendment while pointing out my personal standards are more strict than this amendment would require.


So write your state representatives. Get them early. They don’t start real work till Monday. Tell them this weekend what you think of HB 1030. Surprise them by showing them you care.

Find your reps now!!!

You can find your representative by going to the "Who are my legislators" page on the SD State Legislature website.

As was stated in the MinusCar post, the state legislators don't start real work until Monday, so let's flood their inboxes with support for HB1030 (with some minor adjustments).  Even if you're a casual cyclist, this law impacts you!  Take 5 minutes to show them that you care!
3 is still pretty close when a car is traveling over 35 mph.
(image borrowed from Biking Bis blog, where they've been
enjoying their 3 foot rule since 2011)

That is all.  Please proceed with your normal weekend shenanigans.

UPDATE:  I already e-mailed my state legislators and have received a reply from Senator Craig Tieszen.

Here's my e-mail: 

I am e-mailing you regarding HB1030 the Bicycle Passing Act. I am a cyclist, a business owner in Rapid City, a registered voter in your district, and your neighbor Sen. Tieszen. I ride my bike past your house and have said hello to you many time when you've been outside.

I ask that you please ensure the passage of HB1030, with a minor change. Line 7 reads "allow a three foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including any mirror" . I would like to see this changed to read; "allow a minimum three foot separation between the right side of the driver's vehicle, including any mirror".

As a bicycle commuter, I follow the rules of the road, stopping at stop signs, signaling my directional changes, and riding as far to the right as safely possible and yet have had more than my share of close calls. This bill isn't much to ask of our fellow motorized commuters.

Thank you for supporting this bill. My safety and the safety of all cyclists, children through adult, thank you. 

And Sen. Tieszen's response.

I believe I have supported a previous attempt and probably will be able to do so again. Thanks for contacting me. I am looking forward to bike riding weather again!!!! Senator Craig Tieszen

Contact your legislators folks!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Have a Happy Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanza-Festivus and New Year

I pulled off the greatest Christmas coup of my life this year.
I mostly did this post so I could use this picture.
I built a new bike for the Boy. Well, it's not "new" but it's new to him. I got a frame from a friend and it's been languishing in the basement for about 4 months, waiting for me to build it up for the Boy before he outgrew it. Some lightly used parts from friends, a part or two from fleaBay and the rest from Acme and it was finished and was a complete surprise on Christmas morning for the Boy!  

I was feeling bad about giving him a used bike for Christmas, succumbing to the pressure of the media to buy, buy, buy. But thankfully, rational thought overcame those feelings and I realized that 1. He's not going to be on this bike for more than a season or two before he outgrows it. 2. I built this by hand for him, going as far as getting touch-up paint to get the frame looking really good. 3. It turned out REALLY good. I couldn't stop looking at it sitting by the Christmas tree. 
Crappy picture of the bike...Trying to not wake the Boy (whose feet are right
behind the front wheel of his bike).

And, finally, especially for those that we're looking forward to a white Christmas, can thank me for building this bike up, since you know that if I would have got the Boy a sled it would have been dry and brown outside.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Greatest, Top 10 Moments in the History of Forever (or my top 10 of 2014)

2014 is drawing to a close so it's now time for all those year-in-review shows like TMZ's Kim Kardashian's 10 Best Ass Moments and Barbara Walter's Most Fascinating People of the year like Tyler Swift (who the hell is he?) and Elon Musk (wasn't he the bad guy in the last Iron Man movie?).  Her list didn't have Jens Voigt so I know it's a bullshit list anyhow.

Yeah, I know what you're probably thinking, "Holy shit Not-So-Serious, you haven't posted in a like 4 months and now you want me to read some lame-assed year in review?"  Well, yes is the answer to that question but I'm also going on record to state my pre-New Years resolution is going to be posting on here in a more semi-consistent-sporadic state than I did in 2014.  So without further ado, here are the top 10 moments and/or things in the NSS year on the newly recommitted, slightly more consistent blogishness.

10.  Knocking myself out at Terry Peak.  Yes, I know that was technically in 2013, but hey it was almost 2014 and truthfully, the effects were lingering into the new year.  And the story was told many times in 2014 so it qualifies. All of this leads me to the next moment:
The Boy and I at the "Peak".

9.  My season snowboarding at Terry Peak.  There were a lot of great days on the hill this year, even if it was not the best conditions.  Don't get me wrong, the snow was great all season, but it was a damn cold winter.  But those days that the temperature hovered in the single digits didn't prevent me from being there first chair to last and having some fun in the Dark Horse in between. (Although this year there will be NO PBR consumed unless some bartenders can assure me of winning something in the PBR drawing). Plus it was great to be able to spend time on the slopes with the Boy, as well as my brother and his family.

Busted bike stuff #1
Busted Bike Stuff #2
8.  All my broken bike stuff.  This all started out with a cracked Kona Jake frame and then spiraled out of control for the rest of the year (which will be a theme from here on out).  Yeah, I know some of it is because of my fat-ass asking the bike parts to do more than they should, but some of it was just plain dumb luck.  And the Jake frame failure was in the exact same spot as my previous Jake's frame failure, so I'm gonna chalk this one up to design.  And besides, Kona came through for me with a new, sweet assed ride which will roll us into the next item:
Busted Bike Stuff #3

7.  My NEW Kona Jake.  My 'cross bikes have always endured more abuse than any other bikes in my stable.  I use 'em for just about everything, from commuting to road riding to gravel to singletrack to riding rollers in the winter to general abuse.   It's no wonder that I break frames every few years.  And as I mentioned in #8, Kona and Acme came through for me once again.  I took my cracked Jake to the great guys at Acme Bicycles, they stripped the frame down and sent it off for "inspection".  Sure enough it was cracked and the options were a different model of Jake frame or a whole new bike for just a little bit of scratch.  Well, um, duh, lets get a whole new bike with new components, disc brakes, etc.  It seemed like a no brainer.  And this new model is sweet!  Even if it is one of their lower end cross bikes, it is a great whip, and it took me on way more adventures this year than either one of my mountain bikes did (GASP!) but there were plenty of (long) off road adventures on it, so don't worry, I'm not becoming the Not-So-Serious roadie.
The Maiden Voyage

6.  My new favorite distance loop. As I said, the Jake and I went on many long adventures, exploring the gravel/forest service roads around the NSS HQ.  As a matter of fact, the first ride on it garnered me a sliced sidewall on a forest service road straddling the Lawrence County/Pennington County line somewhere.  In my exploration, I found a nice 85+ mile loop that I can start from the house, get some good climbing in to Nemo, SD, on into Sturgis, then take gravel roads home from Sturgis.  It is an amazing ride, climbing up through the Black Hills, roll out past Bear Butte, and finish up in the rolling prairie, eventually climbing back up to the looming Black Hills.  I'm already looking forward to doing this one many times in 2015.
Bear Butte!

5.  Winning the Leadville Lottery. The shock of getting that e-mail that said I was entered was like no other.  Excitement, fear, anger, joy all rolled into one.  Since I'm getting older, it could have been a moment when I pooped my pants, but thankfully I still have control over that function.

4.  The Leadville experience.  I am happy with the way I handled that whole day.  I could have been just a complete bitch with a broken seat post, but instead I didn't quit, stayed positive and gave it my best effort to get through the Twin Lakes checkpoint, missing it by 12 or so minutes.  That all being said, it lead me to meet:

3. The Kevin Lewis Factor.  As the 3 of you (outside my family) that read this blog might remember (if you don't, click on the linky thing on the Leadville experience above), during Leadville while I was climbing up the first big climb of the day, sans seat and seat post, I came across a guy that was having a difficult time with a repair on his bike.  Despite my personal bike issues I stopped and helped him.  Please, go back and read the account.  It was a cool experience for me because he was so unbelievably stoked about getting his bike going.

A month or so later, I get an e-mail from a guy named Kevin Lewis.  He was wondering if I was the "Chris from South Dakota" that helped him at Leadville.  After a couple of e-mails back and forth to verify that I was the person he was looking for, I got to hear about the rest of his race.  He had just barely made it through all the checkpoints, some with just seconds to spare.  He finished the race (although unfortunately, he didn't make it under 12 hours for the belt buckle) and received a finishers medal.  And that is why he was searching for me.  He told his wife at the finish that "this medal belongs to Chris from SD if I ever find that guy", so that's why he was looking for me, to offer me his medal!  (I also found out later that literally hundreds of people rode by him and I was the first one to offer any help.) Obviously I couldn't take it, but the offer was overwhelming.  This kind of stuff is why our sport is so cool.  We line up on race day, complete strangers and through a couple small acts you've impacted another person in a positive way and have made a new friend.  Very cool.

Rambler Mick Ride
A different Rambler ride?
2.  The Rambler experience.  There is a great group of guys that form our really loosely defined cycling "club" The Queen City Ramblers.  Every year we have our annual trip to the desert of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah and our annual Mickelson ride in one day and every year we have a blast on both.  Maybe it's because of all the beer/alcohol we drink on these trips/rides, but I'd guess it's more because of the people that make up the group.  There are guys on each of these trips that might never otherwise socialize together, coming from very disparate careers, interests, etc. and yet all have a common love of cycling.  This contributes to the fact that we say after every trip/ride that this was the best one yet.

1.  Camping/trips with the family.  You knew I'd have to save the sentimental one for the best, but it's true.  From our rain soaked camping experience at the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder to the shared "cabin" at Leadville to another rain filled camp-out at the Dakota Five-O (what's up with the rain at Spearfish events?) it was all a great time!  And even if I had supremely bad luck at two of those events (I broke NOTHING at the Five-O and truly had a blast!) and two of them were completely rain-soaked, I wouldn't trade them for anything.  The only thing I'd do differently this year is do it more often.

So there you have it.  The Top 10 moments/things of the NSS year.  I hope your year was a great one, because I know mine was.  I'm looking forward to 2015 and seeing you all out on the trail!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The summer of our discontent.

In my life of riding bikes I've had pretty good luck. In all the races and/or rides I've done I've not much more than a flat tire which is easily repaired on the road or trail (yes there was a derailleur in Fruita once, but that was at the beginning of the last ride of the last day so it wasn't a huge issue). All that luck came to a shitty demise this year. 

Now understand that all these issues that I had this year have been really freak things and I'd say that they probably shouldn't happen again.  We can start telling the tale of woe with the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder at the beginning of the summer and a derailleur that was torn off my bike less than 10 miles in to the race. There was mud involved, a gravel road that was a bit rough and a derailleur that was bouncing around and finally into the spokes where it met its demise. Freak right?
The Gold Rush Gravel Grinder freakiness...

Next was the Tatanka 100 and the absolute downpour that was going on at the start of the race which caused more than half the field to not even start and of those that did almost half of those didn't finish. (I was one of those that didn't start. While I'm bummed I didn't get to do it, I don't regret not starting that day, or there could be even more tales of busted bike stuff). So we had freaky weather. Chalk up one more freak occurrence. 

Black Hills Back 40 was my next chance to get freaky. I got a flat early on in the race, but I'll completely blame that on pilot error. The second I hit the obstacle that caused the flat I knew that I was going to have one. No, the real treat came 10+ miles later when I had a really light tumble off the side of the trail. The crash was about as gentle of a wreck as a guy could ask for, just causing me to get a little dirty. In said crash, my bike landed in the perfectly right (or wrong depending on your perspective) way breaking my brake lever into two pieces. COMPLETELY FREAK, right? 
Umm, is it a brake lever or a break lever?
Which brings me to the latest and greatest freak thing. The ride/race I've been focused on all summer. The one I've put umpteen hours in on my bike for…the Leadville 100

Cleaver and I at the start with a little photo bomb from the Boy.
Leading up to the start of the race, everything was proceeding as planned. Cleaver and I got lined up in our corral (not unlike leading cattle to slaughter) where the newbies/first-timers/you-haven't-paid-for-one-of-our-other-races racers go which is WAAAYYY in the back of the pack. The gun went off and we didn't. There we sat for 3-4 minutes and then we finally started to roll out. Blasting down the hill out of town on what would most likely be a long day in the saddle. 

We finally turned off the pavement and onto a gravel road and started to climb. At this point we were about 4 miles in when I heard/felt this little *PLINK* and then suddenly didn't have a seat anymore. WHAT THE HELL?!  I slammed on the brakes to find a tiny 1" stub of jagged seatpost sticking out of my frame and the remainder of my seatpost and seat lying on the road behind me as hundreds of riders went zooming by. "THIS ISN'T FAIR!" my brain was screaming. All this effort and time and you're gonna get to ride 4 fucking miles? It took me a minute to assess the situation and realize that I couldn't stop yet. I whipped my phone out and texted my Lovely, the Boy and my mom and asked them to meet me at the Pipeline aid station (24 miles away) with the Boy's seat/seatpost from his bike. I now had to figure out how to get there. I tried to pull the stub out of my frame but couldn't get enough of a grip on such a tiny piece. My next thought was to jam a stick into the stump and put the other part on top which worked for about a mile. Finally I was resigned to the fact that I was going to have stand up and ride with no seat and a jagged, cookie cutter piece of seatpost staring me right in the taint. As a SAR (search and rescue) worker on a quad came up I asked how far until the next aid station (where I might be able to get that stump out) "About two miles" he said. SWEET. Off I went, standing and pedaling as much as traction would allow. As the gravel roads got steeper, I found myself having to push up a few of the climbs as my tire would spin out because of my forward weight distribution. 
The jagged remains of my seatpost.  
(The post-mortem inspection of the seatpost revealed a couple of deep "nicks" that were stress risers where the post broke.)

As I was climbing, about 1.5 miles later, I encountered another person. He saw my predicament and said, "Wow, that sucks! You're crazy. The next aid station is about 2 more miles."  What the? The last guy said it was two miles and that was nearly two miles ago! SHIT. Just keep pedaling…

As I crested one of the last climbs, there was another racer trail side. I asked if everything was OK, to which he replied with a very stress filled "NO!" At this point I knew I was pretty screwed, so stopping to help him wasn't going to change anything.  I pulled over and helped him get his chain fixed. He was so frazzled that he couldn't figure out how to get everything together. 5 minutes later he was up and running and so ecstatic that I got him running that he said he'd buy me anything I wanted. I almost asked him for his seatpost, but I figured it might be a bit much, but I'll take some karma points instead. 

Five miles after breaking the post I got to the first aid station where a person had a big ol' set of pliers that I used to get the stump out of my frame.  The stumpy portion (pictured above) went in and I was off! My seat was about 4" too low, but I could sit and spin up climbs, at least as much as having my knees come up to my armpits would allow. I pushed as hard as I could to get to the Pipeline aid station, never getting passed by a rider, but passing many myself (this isn't bragging, there is actually a point to me telling you about passing people, just hang on). After losing almost 30 minutes of time (according to my Garmin's "stoppage time") just fixing my seat, much less the slower pace I had to ride at standing up and with a seat too low,  I knew it was going to be very close getting to Twin Lakes before the 4 hour cutoff. I approached one rider named Conner that was sporting the Leadman number plate (the Leadman/Leadwoman are also doing the 100 mile running race the following weekend) and we rode together for quite a while. It was good to take my mind off of the situation for a while and just churn the pedals. As the climb over the Powerline got steeper, he pulled away from me for a bit. Cresting the Powerline was a great moment as I knew I'd have some decent downhill to the Pipeline aid station. 

I passed about 50 people on the climb to Powerline and the subsequent downhill and rode hard on the pavement to get to the aid station. On the road I caught back up with Conner and we conversed on our way to the aid station. He said I was crazy (There it was again, crazy.  Am I?) for going this long in my predicament and he thought I'd totally lose him once I got a seatpost that was the right length (I did pass him shortly after changing my post out and didn't see him again until later that day.)

We rounded the bend and I saw the Boy waiting for me! I don't know if I've ever been so excited!  He yelled directions to me of where my Lovely and mom were and I pushed hard to get to them. I quickly switched my seat and post out and took off. It was past the 3 hour mark and I had about 12 miles to go. It was probably unlikely that I'd make it by the 4 hour mark, but I couldn't just quit.  

I rode as hard as I could for the next hour, once again passing many and not being passed by anyone. As I crested the last hill before we started to descend to Twin Lakes my clock ticked over the 4 hour mark. I knew I was screwed. I pushed on anyhow, hoping against hope that I'd somehow get through the checkpoint. 

As I crossed the dam at Twin Lakes, I could see the timing station. As I got closer, the lady that pulls people from the race stepped out of the shadows and pointed me to the right. She walked up, said "I'm sorry," and pulled the timing chip off my number plate and gave me a hug. 12 minutes. I missed the cutoff by 12 damn minutes! I turned myself inside out for the last 35 miles and it wasn't enough by 12 lousy minutes. 

As I slowly rolled over to our crew, I had a rash of confusing emotions. I was happy with my effort and ingenuity in light of the circumstances, I was really disappointed in how things turned out. I was thankful for my family and how they tried so hard to help me but I was completely pissed that I dragged them 500 miles for such a shitty ending. I was happy that I was OK, but super bummed that all those people that I passed, most of whom put in a ton of training and a valiant effort that day were also done. 

We stayed and crewed for anyone that needed it and our guys, Cleaver and Andy (both of whom finished under 12 hours). One guy came in with a flat rear tire, but had lost his tools somewhere on the long, bumpy Columbine descent.  I got his wheel off, helped him get stuff rearranged and going again.  More karma points.

On a side note, as we were driving the 22 miles back into Leadville, a few miles down the road we came across a guy riding toward town. He had a number plate on his bike, so I pulled over to see if he needed help. He also had missed the time cutoff and didn't have a ride into town. We loaded him up and took him to his car.  If nothing else I was racking up serious karma points. 

A bunch of the crew including Andy and Cleaver (two on the right) with Ken Chlouber, the Leadville 100 founder.  Note,
I am NOT in the picture. Grrr.

The next day my mixed emotions turned mostly to anger as I watched all those people get their belt buckles and finishers jackets. I should have been their with them. I know I could have done it especially with how close I was with all the issues I had. And now I'm gonna have to do it all over again next year. Except this time you can be damn well sure I'll have a new seatpost or I'm turning in my punch card with all those karma points. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Nipples. The part of the human body that people don't like to talk about all that much. The part of the anatomy that takes a movie from PG to R just by showing it (you can show the whole boob and it's OK as long as you don't show a nipple, but show that and suddenly it's "dirty").  Nipples do serve an important purpose. They can be erotic zones. They can indicate when someone is cold.  And without them the human race, and mammals for that matter, wouldn't have got very far since they are the way we feed our young (and cavemen didn't have access to a Walgreen's and 76 versions of Similac). And all theses things are great…ON WOMEN.

Seroiusly, why the hell do men have nipples?  I am sure they are left over from our formation in the womb before our gender was "assigned" but why was our gender not assigned first then placement of our nipples? They serve no purpose on men. And, before any Whole Foods hippies lay down the whole "dude, a man can lactate and feed babies too" (click the linky to find out), stop. No we can't. First, I'm all for equality in parenting, but I draw the line here. There are some things men should just not do. Second, I do not want to have to wax, shave or any sort of depilation of my chest hair, and for godsakes, a baby should NOT get hair in its mouth when breast feeding. 

Getting ready for
a ride
So, you may be asking yourself what the hell this commentary has to do with cycling. A lot, let me tell you. When most people go out for a long ride, a concern is the comfort of their grundle/taint/crotchial area. In addition to the padded cycling shorts, there all sorts of salves, creams, and butters to keep things moving smoothly without rubbing or chaffing. And these are important things to use! But there is nothing to prevent chaffing of that tiny little spot on the end of your nipple that is rubbing against your jersey for hours on end. Trust me I've tried it all, bandages, New-Skin (which stings like hell when you apply it) chaffing creams, the works. Nope, still have the problem. And I know I'm not the only one with this problem, since when I was in Moab one of our crew, who in the sake of anonimity will remain nameless, was walking around with big "x" bandages over his nipples looking like Wendy O
from the early punk scene. 

I'm thinking this model would be great!
Unlike other body parts I can't "train" my nipples to get stronger, although I suppose if I scab the tips over enough times a callous will form. But here we are getting close to the first 100 mile mountain bike race of the year, the Tatanka 100, and in addition to the normal preparation of my bike, I'm trying to figure out a nipple buffer. Maybe a trip to the local stripper supply warehouse for some pasties is in order. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Gravel Grinder or Mud Masher, you pick...

The Gold Rush Gravel Grinder went down this last weekend. And as usual, with it comes tales of glee and tragedy, highs and lows, good and bad. So sit back while I spin a yarn for you.

Let me start out by saying I was pretty stoked for this year's Gold Rush. I had been getting good training rides in (training *gasp* I know, right?) and was feeling like it was going to be a good day for me. The weather forecast looked a bit sketchy with chances of "scattered" rain, but it looked like we'd be OK.  Also, let me tell you that I'm fairly anal about my bike maintenance.  Not quite to the level of Flyin' Brian but better than most.  This will play a part in my tale later.

The plan was the NSS clan going to Spearfish on Friday afternoon, set up the mobile NSS HQ, or a campsite for the rest of the world, and enjoy a weekend of camping with friends while throwing a long ride in the middle. Sounded like a good plan. Mother Nature had a different plan. (I swear I'm getting that bitch some anti-depressants.)

Friday before we headed out, the Black Hills was socked in with a steady, heavy at times, drizzle. I was not thrilled with the lack of accurate forecasting from the weather crew. I wish I could have a job where I was as wrong as much as meteorologists and still keep it. Anyhow, we made the best of it, going to Spearfish, getting registered for the race and set up our mobile HQ. We had a nice evening and meal with friends and got to bed in a slightly lighter drizzle.

I woke up at 3 am because my bladder woke up at 2:45 am. I tried really hard to get it to shut up, but my bladder won out.  Why is it that when you're camping getting up to piss in the middle of the night is a requirement? I rarely get up in the middle of the night when I'm at home.  Anyhow, I stumbled out of the tent to a clouded, but rain free sky. Things were looking good! I scrambled back into my sleeping bag due to my cold wet feet and tried to get back to sleep. After an hour and a half of going in and out of sleep, I got up for good to get my poop in a group and get ready for the 7:00 am start.

I rolled over to te race start for the pre-race meeting at 6:45. After 15 minutes of fist bumping, high and low fives, catching back up with people not seen in a while, and a few bro-hugs thrown in for good measure, Perry "Pedal-Power" Jewett counted down and it was time to roll.

A police escort led us out for the first 3-4 miles and the group rolled at a nice pace up the pavement to where the gravel would mark the beginning of the "race".  We hit the gravel and we were off! Of course the fast guys took off like they were shot from a cannon, but I was rolling in the second group, feeling comfortable.
Tatanka! On the neutral roll out.  (Photo from the
Gold Rush Gravel Grinder FB page.)

Remember the drizzly day I mentioned? Well, the further we rolled on this initial stretch of gravel, the muddier it became. Not sink-in, swampy, big mud, but just enough that it flung all over stuff and coated drivetrain parts like it was some kind of miracle lubricant, but that did the opposite, accelerating wear. Soon my rear derailleur started skipping around and things were NOT sounding happy. I pressed on although it was causing an itch in my brain that I couldn't scratch.  I really hate when my drivetrain isn't doing what it's supposed to do. As we were just descending a small hill, I was shifting a couple gears up to take advantage of the momentum, when things really sounded clattery in the back. I just started touching the brakes so I could slow down and see what was going on when *WHAM*, my rear wheel skidded to an abrupt halt.  I didn't hit the brakes hard so I know it is not good.  I look down to find my rear derailleur in my spokes, on the opposite side of my rear axle from where it should normally sit.  SHEEE-IT! In that split second my day on the bike ended. 

That morning I told my Lovely to make sure her phone was turned on (so she could hear it ring), you know just in case.  After 7 frantic phone calls, she finally answered (in fairness to her, she did not expect to hear from me, especially this early).  I then freed the bottom half of my derailleur from its spokey jail so my wheel could turn and began my walk-of-shame past all the people still riding their bikes. Many well meaning folks asked if I was OK, needed help, or if I wanted their help turning my bike into a singlespeed, further rubbing salt, or in this case, mud into my wound. I can fix just about any trailside mechanical issue.  Hell, I've given random strangers a freaking cleat bolt on the side of the trail for godsakes!  Having a spare derailleur in my "magic tin" is not something I or any sane person does unless you're riding the Tour Divide.  A few minutes after the last rider went by, my Lovely and the Boy showed up to extract me from this situation. 
Umm, I don't really think it's supposed
to look like that...

Making the best of the situation, I had a good afternoon spending time with friends and family waiting for the racers to come in. Jim Meyer was the first 110 miler to finish in just under 7 hours(!) and Chanceller Burleson was the first 70 miler in.  We  hung around, shot the shit with friends, ate great food, had great beer, and won cool prizes. With that said, Perry, Kristi and the whole crew once again did an outstanding job putting on this race, so the day/weekend was not completely lost on a blown derailleur. But, and this a big but, it still doesn't sit well with me. I'm already looking forward to the 3rd running of the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder. There's a chance I'll have a spare derailleur in my pack.