Sunday, April 13, 2014

Like a new born baby

Before I get into the meat of today's post, it appears that I possibly could be responsible for shaming Mother Nature into getting on the wagon, sobering up long enough to wrest control of the weather away from Old Man Winter. I am positive she read that last post, realized she had a problem and decided to get on the wagon. Unfortunately, it also appears she's planning a party this weekend. So, once again Mother Nature, I implore you, don't get to tore up this weekend. Don't relinquish complete control. Thank you.

OK, all that being said, we finally did have Spring around the NSS HQ this last week and HLMP opened it's trails up on Wednesday. Finally, some singletrack/dirt riding to be had!
The Boy taking a fiver at the top of the climb.

For my first mountain bike ride I took the Boy out for some trail adventures. Riding at his pace I figured I was able to chalk up my ineptitude to our slow pace. The Boy on the other hand railed the Lower Rim Trail!

I went out solo on Friday for a quick jaunt after work. A zip back over to HLMP and I realized that my problems from the previous evening had nothing to do with the Boy and everything to do with the fact that I haven't ridden singletrack since December 3rd.

I suppose every cyclist (and especially mountain bikers) experience this. Last Autumn, before Winter took over, you were smooth and graceful (at least by your standards), riding down rocky sections like flowing water, not having to think about that quick flick of the shifter, that dab of the brake lever or that little back pedal to clear the rock. Now that you haven't been on a daily singletrack quest, those movements don't come quite as naturally. Sure you may have it happen in a section or two of the trail, but not for the whole ride. You're like a newborn horse, sure you can run, but it is definitely without the speed, style or grace of the fully mature horse.
Looks exactly like my riding style.

So, yesterday I got the Moots out for one good, longish ride before Mother Nature gets all weird on us. It started out kind of rough, as I climbed singletrack to Dinosaur Hill, there were a couple spots I stumbled on, but after I got back over to HLMP, things started to smooth out. Sure there were a couple of miscues, but they were fewer and further between. By the time my ride was wrapping up on the Lower Rim Trail, in my mind I was Mark Weir bombing Downieville although reality says I might have been a touch less skilled. 
Look! I can time travel on my bike!

Well, we've got about 2 1/2 weeks to go until we go to Moab. I hope I can get a few more rides like that in, you know so the horse matures. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ode to the Idea of Spring

"In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." - Lord Alfred Tennyson. 
"In the Spring a middle-aged man's fancy turns to the thoughts of mountain bik...what? It's SNOWING again? Dammit Mother Nature, you're drunk, go home." - Not-So-Serious Cyclist. 

This is the view we're getting SICK of seeing...
Ahh yes, Spring is in the air around the NSS HQ. Terry Peak closed for the season last weekend (and the last day was a blast), my pass to the Swim Center expired this week, and there have been enough nice days that I've been able to get out for a couple road rides. And yet that drunken tart Mother Nature is passed out on her day-bed with a box of wine on the floor next to her while Old Man Winter is still at the controls, having his way with us. 

Just when we thought it was turning into Spring, we start the week out with a mini-blizzard on Monday (it was forecast to be a big one, school was called off, but it didn't really materialize), snow on Tuesday morning and then 6+" of snow on Wednesday.  C'MON! This is getting ridiculous! The last time I rode my bike on a trail was December 3rd. 4 freakin' months ago! This is NOT good for my overall mental health and well being. 

Last spring we had 3 blizzards in the month of April. Working in a public place, when people come in they like to talk/bitch about the weather which makes sense because it is something we all have in common.  I jokingly said in a post I was gonna punch the next person out that said "well, we need the moisture". Well, THAT post about got me punched out by someone that felt like we did need the moisture (and they unfriended me on the Book of Faces, sheesh). But guess what people are saying this year? NOTHING. No one is saying the classic old-man'ism "Well, we need the moisture." That's because everyone is SICK OF THE SNOW! 

And, even if we don't get anymore snow this season, it's still gonna be two weeks or so before any trail is dried out enough to ride without causing damage (which is a whole other blogpost). Holy shit, we're going to Moab at the end of the month. There is some technical riding there. I'd really love to be able to ride my mountain bike a few times on some trails before we go, you know just to shake the cobwebs out. 

See this Mother Nature?  This is what we're looking for...

So Mother Nature, if you're reading this, please put the box of wine back in the fridge.  It's time to sober up, give Old Man Winter a kick square in the balls, and take control of the Spring. There are flowers and robins and baby wildlife counting on the weather to be nice. Even more importantly, there is a certain middle-aged man that is tired of riding rollers, swimming monotonous laps in an indoor pool, that would really LOVE to be able to ride his bike on a trail. So, can you sober up long enough to make that happen? Thanks. I knew we could count on you. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Winning the Lottery?!

Is that Ron Jeremy winning the Lottery?
The lottery. The thought of a lottery tends to get people all lathered up. The idea of a life changing win is exciting to contemplate. While a lottery win always changes a person's life, it isn't always for the better. Tales of the lottery winner's rags-to-riches-to-rags run rampant and are so common that it's surprising that any one ever plays the lottery. But, there are always the people that think the lottery won't change them, that if they win they'll be the same person yet were before. HA!

"Not-So-Serious, did you win the lottery?" I hear you asking. I'll tell you up front that while I won a lottery, I didn't win the lottery (meaning the multi-million dollar one).

You may remember a few years ago when long time friends Cleaver and Al "won" the lottery and got
Al and Cleaver the last
time they got into Leadville.
into the Leadville 100 and my Lovely and the Boy went to run support for them. When they lined up that morning, I remember pangs of jealousy, thinking I should be lining up with them, although at the time I thought the chance of me riding 100 miles off road were just a pipe dream. It would take a lot of work on my part just to be able to ride 100 miles, much less do it in a race.

So many people want to race Leadville that they have made it a lottery system. $15 gets you a chance in the game. If you're lucky enough to win, you're instantly charged the entry fee for your non-refundable, non-transferable place in the race. Basically, if you win, you better get it in gear cause you're going to Leadville.

Well, that didn't prevent me from entering the Leadville lottery the next year, thinking that if I did get in, that would be great motivation for me to get ready for that race. I signed up and shortly after the 1st of March I got my "Dear John" e-mail saying thanks for the 15 bucks, but unfortunately (or possibly fortunately) you didn't get in, thanks for playing, try again next year.

Then, the Tatanka 100 came about and it was my opportunity to see if I could do 100 miles off road much closer to home. Of course, you all know I was able to complete that first edition of the race, and although it was a bit ugly on my part, I gained valuable knowledge of how to do a 100 miler.

The next year came and so did another entry into Leadville, with the exact same results. Einstein once said (supposedly, although it's also been attributed to Franklin and Twain) the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Thinking I wanted to get into Leadville was definitely insane. And once again, I raced the Tatanka 100 with much improved results.

So, yet again this year, feeling much like Bill Murray's iconic character Phil Conner and after a
You see that first line?  
slightly drunken pact with Cleaver in a booth at the Dark Horse Saloon at Terry Peak, I signed up for Leadville expecting the same results.  On Tuesday, March 4th, I got my e-mail, only this time it was different.

You know when you get an e-mail and you can see the first line of text on the page showing all your e-mails?  Well, this time it didn't say, "Thanks for the $15 chump and SUCK IT" like it usually does, it said, "Congratulations".  I almost puked when I saw it.  What?  Really?  No.  Yes! NO! YES!  I couldn't wrap my brain around it.  I sent a quick text to Cleaver and my Lovely to make it all seem real, to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  As of this point Cleaver hadn't heard anything, so he was assuming he wasn't in.  I had to let it all sink in.  I swam a quite a bit harder and further than normal the next morning and rode harder the next morning on the rollers.  This was going to mean a LOT of riding this summer.  C'mon snow, melt!

Early the next morning, my shrieking text alert (a sound that my Lovely absolutely HATES) went off.  Naturally, since we've all become slaves to our smarter-than-us phones, I checked to see who/what it was.  It was Cleaver, saying he got his e-mail, which had gone into his junk folder, and HE GOT IN TOO!  I was freakin' stoked!  Sure, there was a bit that was excited as I could glean knowledge from him about the race since he was a veteran now, but more importantly, I was going to get to ride it with one of my best, long time friends!
One of the views at Leadville I probably won't get to enjoy.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that winning this lottery won't change me, because it will.  And as long as the elevation doesn't kill me, it will for the better.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bang your head!

Winter is in full stride here at NSS HQ.  Well, it's kinda been in full stride around here since the October 4th blizzard Atlas made me an Urban Lumberjack™, but since the around the first weekend  of December, we've had real winter.  And for me, with real winter comes a chance to do some other things that interest me, like the chance to strap the board onto my feet and slide down a hill, otherwise known as snowboarding.

Terry Peak opened on the 7th of December this year on a weekend that had crazy below zero temperatures (I think the overnight low was somewhere around -15F) and that prevented me from partaking in the opening weekend.  I love snowboarding but not that much.  Those cold temps pushed me to the next weekend to get my first day of riding in.

I had big plans for last weekend.  Saturday was going to be my first day on the slopes, Sunday would bring the last cyclocross race of the year and a journey into the woods to get a Christmas tree.  Yeah, yeah I know, it's a bit late, but like I said, those cold temperatures weren't worth it.

Saturday morning came and I geared up and headed for Terry.  Getting there right around first chair, I was up the hill and sliding down in the first half of the 9:00 hour.  Somewhere in there I ran into Cleaver and we rode together the rest of the morning.  The snow was fabulous, riding with a friend was fun and the day was just about perfect.  As the noon hour approached, I knew I needed to call it a day soon so I could high-tail it back to RC to pick up the Boy from a birthday party.  Well, I needed to be there no later than 3:00, but that coupled with the fact my leg, you know the one injured from the famous Christmas tree incident of '11, was getting pretty fatigued.  Cleaver and I slid down the hill one last time to the bottom of Kussy and our waiting vehicles.

On the run, I maneuvered to avoid another skier and crashed, falling backwards and hitting the back of my helmeted head on the ground fairly substantially.  It rang my bell a bit, Cleaver came over to ask if I was OK.  Everything seemed in-check, so off we went.  I loaded up and headed home, or so I thought.

I got back to RC and headed over to the apartment complex where the birthday party was and to my luck, the mother of the birthday boy was taking out some garbage, so I followed her into the building, chatted with her at the door for a few minutes and the Boy and I headed for home.

Once at home, the Boy and I went down to the "family room" where I dozed off on the couch while he watched a little TV.  Hey Not-So-Seriuos Cyclist, this is a real damn boring account of your day you might be saying to yourself.  Well, that was all backstory to get you to this interesting part.

When I woke up about 20 minutes later, I was a bit disoriented.  Suddenly I remembered I had to get to the store to send an order but I was confused about what time or day it was.  As I started to really wake up, I realized I didn't remember much of my drive home.  Then I thought about picking the Boy up and found that I remembered seeing the mom outside, following her into the apartment and I remember standing there talking to her but I couldn't remember anything about what we discussed!  WTF?  From the point where I crashed and hit my head to the point where I woke up, there were big gaps in my memory.  And the biggest gap of all was yet to be discovered.

Sunday I got up and felt a tiny bit blurry but not horribly so, so we got our stuff together and headed to Spearfish for the last CX race, help JT get his blog going for the Black Hills Expedition,  and to get a tree on the way home.  My Lovely asked if it was a good idea to do a CX race after hitting my head on Saturday to which I replied, "As long as I don't crash and hit my head again everything should be OK."  In retrospect, that was fairly stupid and I can't really afford to lose anymore grey matter.
At least it wasn't the most expensive tree
we've ever had.

The CX race went off without a hitch, JT's blog was up and running and the tree was harvested and is up and decorated behind me now as I speak (type).  It wasn't until Monday morning when my Lovely said something to me that I realized I really hit my head hard.  She mentioned I had a beer with Cleaver afterwards, which I didn't remember.  A quick text to Cleaver about what the hell happened on Saturday was in order.

At this point Cleaver could have told me just about anything and I would have had to believe it.  But what he did tell me FREAKED me out.  He said after the wreck he asked if I was OK (which I vaguely remember) and I said yes.  We left the mountain and I went with him to Lewie's to have a beer, where I had two IPA's and while I was a bit quiet, I chimed in appropriately on the conversation he was having with another person, NONE OF WHICH I FUCKING REMEMBER!  Seriously, I have ZERO recollection of even pulling into Lewie's, much less having a beer, a conversation or leaving there.  I vaguely remember getting my gear off in the parking lot at Terry Peak and bits and pieces of the drive home, but none of Lewie's at all, which really pisses me off 'cause I love going to
Next time I SWEAR I'll remember.

Thankfully, I'm OK today (although I have a cold which is obviously unrelated but could have contributed to my fuzzy feeling on Sunday morning).  I'm realizing the common denominator here.  A CX race, snowboarding and a Christmas tree in the same weekend is a recipe for disaster for me.  Two years ago I did a CX race on Saturday and went snowboarding and tree hunting on Sunday and that netted me a torn quad.  This time it was snowboarding on Saturday and CX racing and tree hunting on Sunday that netted me a concussion.  You can bet that I've learned a lesson here.  Doing all 3 of those things in a weekend going to end in tragedy.  Now that I know that, I can prepare for it. Will it stop me from doing all 3 in one weekend in the future?  Probably not.  The next time you see me, if I'm standing there with a vapid look, drooling, just politely wipe that drool away for me.  At least I'm not limping.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Roubaix, Roubaix, Roubaix!

In this case, the Dude does NOT abide.
This weekend, to quote the Dude, "Certain things have come to light." It seems that in Canada there is a bike shop called Cafe Roubaix. It appears that the Cafe Roubaix is a small shop located above an ice cream shop in a little town called Cochrane, Alberta, population 17,580.  This little shop has garnered the attention of one of the biggest bike brands in the world, Specialized Bicycles.

Now, little Cafe Roubaix has not caught the attention of this bike industry behemoth by selling more Specialized bikes than anyone. No, as a matter of fact Cafe Roubaix doesn't even sell Specialized bikes. So, why the hell did this little shop get the attention of the big red "S"? Well, it seems that Cafe Roubaix had the audacity to use the name "Roubaix" in their name.  Roubaix.  A name associated with one of the most grueling road bike races in the world, the Paris-Roubaix, held around Easter weekend since 1896 (117 years for those not mathematically inclined).  A name revered by cyclists the world over because of said race.  A name apparently trademarked by Specialized when they introduced their road bikes of the same name, which I guess is where the problem lies.
I'm guessing this shot was taken sometime before the
1974 creation of Specialized.

But is that where the problem lies?  I guess Specialized trademarked the name but does the town of Roubaix, France, established somewhere in the 9th century, which seems to be before the jackasses at the big red "S" laid claim to the name, sue Specialized for sullying the good name of their fair city by attaching it to their line of mediocre plastic bikes?  Nope.  Or, let's even move locally and look at the little Roubaix Lake here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which has been around since before me, which is before the 1974 creation of Specialized, which I'm assuming was before their trademark of the name Roubaix.

This kinda reminds me of when Cannondale trademarked the term "freeride" when that was a thing.  They sent cease and desist letters to Rocky Mountain (bikes) which forced them to make the satircal "Froriders".  How did that work out for C'Dale?  Does anyone even ride their bikes anymore, or does anyone use the term "freeride" anymore?
The Froriders laughing at the trademarked term Freerider.
Or, lets just get all the bike companies to sue anyone that uses one of their trademarked names.  Like Kona.  They should sue Hawaii, or any of those companies that sell Kona coffee, or even better since it is quasi-bike related they should sue the Kona Ironman.  How about Salsa?  They could sue Spearfish, SD for the use of that name. Even better, they could just sue anyone that uses the word Salsa!  Force everyone to start calling it Mexican Ketchup.  Hey Specialized, here are a few more for you.  How about every time Phil Liggit says "Ooh, he just hit the tarmac" you get him to pay you a royalty?  He says that about 100 times in the first week of the Tour de France alone.  How about anyone that puts on an Enduro race?  Sue the hell out of them too!  Maybe move to the prison system and give those guys cease and desist letters every time the carve a shiv out of a chicken bone to shank someone in the shower.  They'll have to come up with a different name than Shiv since you own that too.  Kinda ridiculous, no?

So Specialized, I understand protecting your brand but c'mon,  pressuring the people at Cafe Roubaix to change their name is a dick move. We get it, you're a big bully and nothing is going to stop you from world domination.  But just remember, while you may win this battle, you won't win the war.  Just ask Cannondale how that whole trademark thing worked out for them.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One More Time?

See, this is how I operate. I don't even log into my page for like two months and now I'm pounding out three posts in one week. This will probably require a year off.

Anyhow, today is December 2nd so we only have 18'ish days officially left of autumn, but in reality it is winter. Or at least it should be, and tomorrow it will be with a forecast of 3 degrees for a low (no, I didn't forget a digit, it's gonna be 3) a high of 34 and a strong chance for snow. But for today, with temps in the 50's, there was on last ride to be had.  I cut out of work early just for the occasion!

I made a bee-line for HLMP in a light rain. I almost turned back as the sky was pretty dark and the
rain was a bit chilly but I knew it was now or possibly never again for 2013, at least on dirt. I kept pedaling.

When I got to HLMP I had the trails basically to myself and the little but of rain mixed nicely with the dirt at the park creating that familiar smell that any mountain biker, save for some of those in the desert southwest, can relate to.  That smell of dirt, detritus and other decomposing organic material that transports you mentally from our modern day lives of cities, cars, computers and smart phones and puts you in touch with our primitive roots.

Hearing the tires crunch on the trails, the click of the shifters, the whir of the chain, the creak of my bottom bracket (damn it, I need to do some maintenance on this bike) were a symphony that drowned out the cares of life.  I'm not trying to run from it, but a break from it once in a while makes you a more balanced person putting those things that stress you out into perspective.

Daylight and the looming weather front dictated that my ride would not be a long one, so I looped around the trails on the top of the mountain, taking in the views from the East and North out on the Great Plains, to the West and the foothills and to the South and the stunning sights of the Black Hills and Harney Peak.  I sped down the West side of the mountain, dropped into some newly cut trails on the South end of the park and pedaled home.

As I sit here and type this I'm still awash in a post ride bliss.  Riding a bike does your body good but riding trails does your mind even better.  If that was my last ride of the year, it ended on a high note, but I'm holding out hope that there is just one more.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The TDRSYCHAPOP Tradition Continues!

Take a look at the map of the US.  If you're not one of the many people that have a college degree but are still as smart as a bin of Play Doh, and since you're reading a blog (the fact that you're reading at all) it is probably safe to assume you are not one of those people, find the area known as Four Corners.  No, not the intersection of roads south of Sundance, WY for you western SD and eastern WY people, but the actual place where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet.  Now draw a line,  bisecting that mystical convergence of 4 states brought to you by lazy boundary makers, that runs east-west across the US.  If you live north of that line your chances of the weather being nice on Thanksgiving Day are sketchy at best.  This year we had a nice Thanksgiving.  Second year in a row.  Thanks Al Gore!

So, you're wondering what the hell does a map of the US and some weather talk have to do with a bike blog that is unreasonably intermittent?  Well, let me explain.  Get your Sherman and Mr. Peabody on and lets jump into the Way Back Machine and go back 16 years and 1 day...

It all started on November 27, 1997 which happened to be Thanksgiving Day.  It was the Princess,  Cleaver, Al and myself (and probably some other people that my foggy memory can't retrieve from the hard drive) doing a mountain bike ride on the now defunct Pigmore trail with a loop onto the Centennial for good measure (oh how I miss that trail).  Here we are 16+ years later and I still think about how much fun that ride was and little did we know at the time the Thanksgiving Day Ride So You Can Have Another Piece Of Pie was born and carried on with as much regularity as this blog.

Life drastically changed for me shortly thereafter, moving us to Colorado.  I tried to carry on the Thanksgiving Day ride tradition with as much success as can be expected living north of that line mentioned earlier, but no where near the amount of fun as that first ride, especially since many of them were solo affairs.  But let's not rehash the distant past, but let's talk about the recent past, like Thanksgiving 2013!

Scoping out the weather forecast last weekend, it looked like Thanksgiving was going to be a nice enough day to let the TDRSYCHAPOP tradition carry on.  Last year we rode HLMP and we could do that if necessary, but I thought Bulldog would be a nice halfway point for the Spearfish crew and anyone else from Rapid to converge, so I did a little recon on Monday afternoon.  Bulldog was in PRIME shape and ready for a Turkey Day ride!

After sending out the Rambler signal via e-mail and top secret message service, it was set for 8:28 am (a JT inspired start time) with everyone encouraged to bring an adult beverage to share and I'd bring some bacon to share on the trail.  RSVP's were flooding in and it was shaping up to be a grand ride!

Above the fog.
I awoke to a foggy and a bit cold (22 degrees) Thanksgiving morning.  Not quite the weather promised, but rideable none the less.  I headed out early to hit the trail and get a few bonus miles in before the rest of the crew assembled.  I hit the trail in patchy fog and finger numbing temperatures, hoping that the fog would burn off and as I warmed up my fingers would too.  I was right on both accounts!  I summited Bulldog and dropped back down to hook up with the group to ride back to the top.

When 17 riders converged at the summit, we basked in the sunshine, temperatures that were about 15 degrees warmer than the valley below (thank you air inversions) and the fog didn't matter as we were well above it.  Bacon was shared, some beers were cracked, a bottle of blackberry schnapps was passed around to those of us that were of age, bullshitting commenced with a smattering of high and low fives, fist bumps and bro-hugs thrown in for good measure.
Bacon and Beverages...

As we jumped on our bikes for the awesome descent back down Bulldog, I realized that two powerful cups of coffee and one piece of bacon was decidedly NOT enough to counteract the effects of two big gulps of blackberry schnapps!  Slightly buzzed, we bombed back down the mountain.  Maybe not my fastest descent of Bulldog ever, but it was still fun anyhow.

Back at the trailhead, more adult beverages were shared, this time courtesy of Cleaver doing his best Smokey and the Bandit rendition, dragging some super delicious Pennsylvania Troegs beer across 7 or so state lines the previous day.  Once again, bullshitting commenced with a delightful furor.  After a few beverages were consumed, and the lies started to wane, the party began to disperse, punctuated with many more bro-hugs.

So, the TDRSYCHAPOP was a rousing success this year, almost (but not quite) supplanting that first rendition all those years ago as the greatest one.  As long as Al Gore continues to perpetuate his global warming myth, those of us north of the sketchy weather line will continue to give thanks on two wheels, and just maybe have another piece of pie.