Friday, May 21, 2010

They say when you rub your nose while talking you're lying...

The whole cycling world blew up yesterday on news of Floyd Landis saying he doped and naming the names of everyone else he rode with (basically) saying they doped too. Including one 7 time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong. This whole thing has become so large that even mainstream sports media (ESPN radio) is talking about it.

And of course, many cycling related news sources and blogs are going nuts about it, albeit with a different twist than the mainstream media. Most cycling blogs are saying "finally, the truth is coming out". I won't say that. I will say that there is suspicion around almost everyone that is a pro cyclist. But, what Floyd had to say had no impact on what I thought of pro cycling, one way or the other.

Floyd lost all credibility with me when he made his statement yesterday. For 4 years he's been saying that "I didn't do it. I had a drink after my bad stage, which was the reason I tested positive. Blah, blah, blah." Now, all of the sudden, he said he did it. To me, it was like catching your kid doing something wrong. They deny it and deny it and deny it. Then, finally when you get the truth, they say "well yeah, I did it, but so did this person and that person and that person" to deflect the scrutiny from themselves. Maybe all those other kids did that same thing, but at that point, you don't really care, you're just interested in what your kid did and why they did it.

Same thing here with Floyd. Now, had he come out back in 2006 and said "yup, I did it. I was on teams that had a history of doing it and everyone on my teams were doing it, and I feel I need to come out and stop this from completely ruining my sport" then I'd believe him.

Right now I don't give a shit what Floyd says. Floyd is a liar and a cheat and there isn't too much that he could say to change my mind. I bet Floyd is a decent person. I bet he's fun to ride with and fun to have a beer with, but as a credible source for who is doping in cycling, well, he lost that in July of '06.

I won't be surprised if every other pro cyclist, including Lance Armstrong, are caught doping. I mean, seriously, how can a human, no matter how well trained, ride like they do for 20+ days and not need to take something? Hell, if I ride a bunch for 1 week, I want to take something, much less 2000 miles in 20 days. But, I need someone more credible than Floyd Landis to say they did it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

OK, This is getting weird...

Well, after we got back from our trip, I got sick. Not just a sniffly nose, but sick-sick, like I went home early from work sick. I rarely get sick. I usually deny the fact I am sick when I am such, but this time I couldn't. Achy joints, tired, a weird cough, the whole works. Needless to say, I hadn't been on the bike until yesterday, so for almost two weeks.

The break gave me time to give my road/CX/do-it-all whip some love. It had not been faring too well as of late, so I got her back into some semblance of riding shape. Then, and this is where it goes all sideways, I started researching doing some riding/training with a heart rate monitor. I found a site that gives me guidelines and calculators for heart rates and I have a training plan for peaking at the 24 Hours of Moab.

Training with a heart rate monitor? What the hell? I wasn't supposed to be serious, and that sounds REALLY serious. That sounds like some leg-shaving, food-weighing, obsessed training program. In all seriousness, it helps keep me from that (or at least that's what I'm telling myself). By using the monitor, I can keep my training hours down to a minimum, opening up the week for real riding, like the kind you'd do on singletrack.

Yesterday's ride with a monitor actually went a lot better than I thought it would. I did a nice little road ride (about 30 miles) with some biggish climbs in it and I kept my heart rate (mostly) in the zone I wanted to. And, I was actually a bit faster than I thought I'd be by doing that...hmmm, I might be onto something here. Yeah, I know I didn't discover this as people have been doing it forever, but I had to find out for myself. And, one ride doesn't make a trend, so I'll have to report back in a week or two.

I'll keep it short today to make up for those long ride reports last week. Besides, I have to go do my weight training today. Really, I'm serious...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rambler Spring Trip 2010 Part 3: The final chapter!

The final ride day found us waking the ENTIRE crew up by 6:00 for an 8:00 roll out so we can load up on the shuttle by 8:15. Getting 17 riders up, fed and on the road by 8:00 was going to be a chore at the least, but we made it happen. Everyone was up and rolling shortly after 6.

After breakfast, we were doing quick bike rundowns as we didn't want any mechanicals on the trail. One of the new riders, Jason, had a Crank Bros. pedal that was new and ready to fall apart. We tried to tighten it up with no success, so a few of us blasted off early to get him some over-priced Moab pedals and install them before the shuttle takes off.

As I have hinted to a few times, the weather was a finicky bitch for our whole trip. It was 80+ degrees the day before we got to Moab, then in the 50's the whole time we were there and was to return to the 80's when we left. Nice. We also saw about every kind of precipitation imaginable. When we were on Amasa Back the day before, we noted how low the snow line was on the La Sal Mountains, where our ride on this day was going to take us.

Anyhow, after a somewhat scary 15 passenger van ride to the trailhead (the road was muddy, with no guard rail and a cliff on the side, with the van sliding side to side in the slop) we get out to a supremely muddy road and about 4" of snow...excuse me, fresh pow. We shouldn't be using snowboard terminology for a bike ride.
We saddle up and hit the trail.

We are riding the LPS trail (or Lower Porcupine System) which is some SWEET singletrack above the actual Porcupine Rim trail, dumping you out onto the "overlook" of the Porcupine trail (you know, where everyone gathers and freaks out how high you are above Castle Valley). About 1/2 way through the LPS trail, there is a really steep section called the Notch. Last year when we rode it, a guy slipped, fell and lost his bike, which went tumbling down the hillside. This year it was covered with snow that the sun had softened/melted and turned the whole thing into a muddy slip-and-slide for adults. Imagine hearing 17+ guys laughing, slipping and falling in the mud. Unreal fun. Jay slipped, fell in the mud and went sliding and took out the legs of Jasper. Good times.

As we get to the overlook, the snow is getting lighter, but the dirt sections of the trail are still muddy. We take a few shots of the group at the overlook and are getting ready to roll out when Howie, another trip newcomer, asks me what we can do about his brake. The front brake is pulling all the way to the bar. After Jasper and I fiddle with it for a while, we make the decision to send Howie back down the Sand Flats Road to town as Porcupine isn't the trail to have only one brake. Damn. I hate losing one of the group and I really hate sending him off on his own. I kinda feel like some sort of momma bird. Dumbass.

So, we take off and are cruising down the rim. The guys up front stop every once and a while to let the group reform. At one of these stops, I get to the front of the group when we take off. I am with Cleatus, Marr, Bobki, Nick and Jasper and we are FLYING. Hauling ass down Porcupine with reckless abandon is fun, scary and probably not a recommended activity.
When we get to the singletrack to finish the ride, we had the same group of guys at the front of the pack. At some point on the singletrack, there is a fairly technical section, with a series of rock drops and slickrock ledges. As the group rolls up to this section, a different group of riders was there eyeing the section, seeing if it was "rideable". We all go blasting through it like it was nothing. Damn, damn fun!

We finish the ride and roll back to the camp for our fabled last night dinner, which involved bacon wrapped food, which makes it AWESOME. We had bacon wrapped tenderloins as thick as a phone book and bacon wrapped scallops. As we're sitting around, two of the leaders from Bikerpelli come over and chat with us. Bikerpelli is a quasi-tour group that rides the Kokopelli trail from Fruita to Moab. Their trip was blown-apart by the weather, so they were based camped in our campground sending their riders out on day rides. They tell us they are going to have a game of bike-tag that evening in the parking lot and asked if we wanted to come.

So, fully fed and fairly drunk, we cruise over to the parking lot at the appropriate time. This little section of parking lot is mostly surrounded by a fence, so spectators are lining the sides. I am ringing my cowbell as the riders ride around trying to get their competitors to put a foot down (and thus go out). I hear someone yell my name and I look over to the other fence to see Bobki standing there with his pants off and just holding them over his package. I zip over and Bobki says he needs my cowbell. As the group starts a new game, Bobki goes streaking through the crowd, ringing the cowbell. AWESOME!

Bobki comes back, pants on and says he is going to do it again, but with someone else. We convince Greg (the crazy Aussie) to do it with him. So, both drop trow and when the next round starts, they go streaking through the group again. Bobki runs straight through, but Greg is running side to side, jumping up in the air and clicking his heels together, putting his ass in peoples' faces. People are laughing their asses off.

Finally, Bobki says he'll ride the ride sans pants if someone gets him a bike, which makes Nick shoot off like a shot to get him one. Nick returns with Cleatus' bike, Bobki drops his pants and starts playing bike tag. Of course, Cleatus didn't authorize this use and didn't notice it at first. I lean over at tell him to look at Bobki's bike. Cleatus isn't too thrilled with this turn of events. He yells at Bobki, telling him he just bought an Enduro. And there's Bob, riding around with his grapes dangling over the saddle and his bung-hole on Cleatus' white saddle.

I have to say, a perfect capper on a great trip. We were handed a batch of shitty weather and we made the best of it. We had epic rides, epic food, epic beer consumption (two, count 'em TWO 15 gallon kegs were drained by Saturday afternoon) and epic fun. I can't wait to plan for next year's trip.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rambler Spring Trip 2010 Part 2

So, day two comes on our trip FAR too early for me. The previous night saw me drink a lot of beer from the Fat Tire keg (which we found out later we brought into Utah illegally) as I had ridden an epic ride that day and, probably more importantly, Bobki showed up that evening with his nephew and Cletus. We were up until 1 am drinking beer and we woke up at 6:30'ish the next morning...ouch.

So, not feeling the greatest, we load up the troops and drive back out past where we started yesterday's ride for a ride called Baby Steps/Klondike Bluffs. This was part one of a two part ride, featuring Amasa Back in the afternoon. On the way to the trailhead, I feel something break loose inside of me. Uh oh, the Fat Tire is starting to work its magic. I can hold it I think to myself.

The ride rolled out on a two track, with Bobki and Cletus taking the lead. You can tell they didn't ride yesterday, those bastards were rolling on fresh legs! We got to the junction and started up a bit of nice slickrock, but I was having a hard time enjoying it. Hard to ride hungover and pinching your butt cheeks together so you don't shit yourself. Unfortunate too, as the trail was really cool. The slickrock actually dumped us onto real singletrack. For those of you that have ridden in Moab know that singletrack there is kinda like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. You've heard it exists, but haven't ever really seen it.

Anyhow, we ride this really fun singletrack, mixed with a bit of two track and slickrock when we come to the junction of the Klondike Bluffs and we decide to ride the mile plus to the Arches National Park overlook. As we get to the trailhead for the Arches trail, there is a gate, a bike rack and about 40 bikes there (with some of those people standing around). We get off the bikes and I realize my shit has gone code red. I need to take a dump and I need to take it NOW. I get ass-paper from JT and tell the group I'll catch up. I sneak off into the scrub juniper, trying to walk uphill with my ass pinched shut. Ever tried to do that? Not easy, but I didn't want to soil my chamois. And speaking of chamois, it was attached to bib shorts, which made getting ready for the dump that much harder. Anyhow, I find the perfect spot, undress quickly and barely got squatted over before a cow pie came flying out. The wind is blowing and I almost lost my paper, then trying to find it, I almost step in my own dookie. Disaster adverted, I bury my duty and hoof over to the group. By the way, I end up taking 5 dumps on this day. I think my body was revolting against what I was doing and had done to it.

The ride down Klondike was fast and furious and mostly downhill. We get back to the car, have a few beers (well, I didn't) and back to camp for lunch and get ready to prep for the afternoon ride.

Under grey skies we set out for our afternoon ride on Amasa Back. This ride isn't too long, just a 5+ mile out on technical jeep trail and back on the same trail. During lunch JT drank about 7 beers. I don't know how the hell he was riding, but we take off and the first section is a gnarly waterfall type section. JT is BLAZING up to this and I am thinking that the liquid courage was going to cause him to hurt himself, then at the last second, he hits the brakes. Yep, this is going to be an interesting ride.

We climb up the ride at a decent pace and I am feeling about 100 times better than my morning ride, not 100 percent, but a LOT better. Bobki is riding his Yeti freeride bike that weighs about 40 pounds and is climbing up and cleaning everything. Unreal. The guy must be channeling his native billy goat spirits, 'cause he's climbing really well.

We get to the overlook and hang out for a few pictures and looks over the edge. I look back towards town and see there is something nasty rolling our way. We'd best get off this rock in quick manner. Thankfully it takes about an hour and a half to go up and only about 30 minutes to come down. We take off and are BLASTING down the trail. Cleatus was going way faster than everyone down, as usual. About 1/2 way down, Quigley flatted and we stopped and waited for him. YEA! We're learning that we don't leave anyone behind.
We finished the ride with very little issue and a lot of smiles. A couple of beers at the trailhead (including a Yuengling for me from Cleatus) and we pack up for the camp. One more day of great riding in the books and time to hit the Moab Brewery.

As was customary, we had one night out at the Moab Brewery. A lot of beer was consumed and a really REALLY good burger, though at that point they could have served us a dog turd on a bun and we would have thought it was manna from heaven. Our waitress really knew how to work the group for a tip as she was Johnny-on-the-spot (or Jane as it were) and was very charming. Even at the end she wanted to give us all hugs when Owen picked her up and took off with her. That crazy Aussie. By 10 pm, we were all back at camp and in bed. We had to get up early the next day for one more epic and I for sure wasn't going to drink all that beer again. I'm not down with trailside shits.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rambler Spring Trip 2010 Part 1

The 4th annual Spring Rambler trip has come and gone and, well, it went off a LOT better than I had anticipated.

I started this post a few days ago, then got caught up in, uh, I dunno, actually talking with my wife about the stuff that happened around here while I was out galavanting around the desert. Then I got sick (and I still am), so I've been slacking on my reporting.

Because we had such epic riding, I'll break this up into 2 and possibly 3 parts, as to completely bore you with the minutia of each ride such as how the rocks sounded when the crunched under my tires and the exact smell of my jerseys after each ride.

Sometime after rolling out of RC at 1:00 am (yes, you read that right, ONE am) the decision was made that we would ride our first ride in Fruita as opposed to Top of the World at Dewey Bridge. We rode Mary's to Horsethief Bench, which turned out to be a smart decision, as sitting in the car for 11 hours does weird things to your legs. This ride was a blast, but we've done it a lot and it was fairly uneventful, so not much to report on this one.

The next morning (after setting up camp in hurricane force winds which gave me Curt Gowdy flashbacks) we woke up to overcast skies and we could see precipitation off in the distance. Time to layer up the clothes and get out there! This day was going to take us on the Gemini Bridges to Gold Bar Rim to the Portal (yes, THAT Portal trail, the one where people have died), a few of us had done the Gemini portion of this ride, but we ALL were virgin Gold Bar/Portal riders.

The plan was to drop one vehicle off at the bottom of the Portal (which we'd use to go get the other vehicles), shuttle 3 cars up to the trailhead to get 14 of us there. Then one of those cars would drive up and over the first pass of the ride, with 4 riders in the car, into the valley where the Gemini/Gold Bar junction lies. This vehicle will contain lunch for our group and this event will play a pivotal role later in this epic journey.

So, those of us that were going to pedal from the official trailhead take off after the other truck has started heading over the pass. We climb the initial big climb and as we're descending into the valley I get *SNAPPED* in the face with something hard. It starts sleeting like I've never seen. The sleet is gathering on the red rocks and running down like a sleet river. Unreal. In the valley, we actually pass our support vehicle, but just a few minutes before the junction where we're to meet.

After we get the support vehicle crew out on the trail, we roll to Gemini Bridges. This part of the ride isn't difficult at all, being all 2 track and/or dirt road, but once we get to the bridges, it was all worth it. The bridges are two natural arches, side by side, spanning the entrance to a box canyon. At the end of the box canyon is a shelf that hangs out over the end by about 30 feet or so. All of this (the bridges and the shelf) are about 300-400 feet above the canyon floor. As I always do when I go to Gemini, I lie down on my stomach on shelf and look underneath the shelf (which is only about 4" thick on the end), which freaked out everyone in the group.

After we were all done playing around on the bridges, we saddled up and headed back to the car, where we had lunch planned. You have to understand, when we plan lunch, it isn't cold cut sandwiches when possible. Nope. In our vehicle, there was coolers and a grill to make buffalo burgers with potato salad and trail beers for lunch. Yes, we do it up right. We ride our asses off on this trip and gain weight (which I don't need to do).

We end up having to find a cave/crack in the rocks to do our lunch to get out of the gale force winds, which was a great move. Hell, we could have stayed there all day, eating and drinking, but there was more trail to experience!

After our stellar lunch, we hit the trail. The first 1/4 mile was a sand trap, which wasn't making me happy. Soon, the trail turned up and into rock, which was perfect. Climbing was fun, trying to clean little step ups and ledges that would be unthinkable unless you had slickrock under your tires for other-worldly traction, which we did. We ran into a few jeepers and saw a few riders far off in the distance, but the trail traffic on the Gold Bar was light at most.

As we crested the Gold Bar, once again we're on top of a "cliff" overlooking Hwy 191, across the canyon from Arches National Park. This time we're well above 600' above the canyon floor. Hell, the cars look like dots moving across the shoelace that was the highway. The trail book we have says it rolls across the rim following "blue dots" painted on the trail. The book also says that when we lose the dots to stay as close to the rim as possible.

Well, we did lose the blue dots. And then some people started to lose their tempers, and NOW it officially became an epic ride. We were lost, people were getting pissed off, and we were too far in to turn was AWESOME! Obviously we weren't too lost, as I am relaying this story to you a week later.

We eventually did find the trail and continued to roll on. At one point the trail rounded a bend
right on the edge of the cliff, turned back and headed back away from the cliff edge. As a few of us that were in the front of the group turned around and looked back, we notice the trail was on a ledge that had NOTHING UNDER IT. Super cool and creepy at the same time. Flashes of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner went through my mind, seeing the rock fall with the riders on it, unaware they are hurtling toward the canyon floor.

We finally come to the Portal. Ahh, the infamous Portal trail. The trail that has literally claimed lives. The trail that has been talked about in probably every single bike magazine in the English speaking world. I was expecting huge, technical ledges and crazy exposure on a trail notched into a craggy cliff wall. It wasn't anything like that. The two spots where there were deaths don't look too crazy at all, which is why I suppose riders have tried those moves before falling to their deaths. Actually, if there wasn't severe penalties on the left side of the trail for messing up, a person wouldn't think twice about riding these sections.

We all walked down this section and as we got to the corner where the really dangerous stuff was over, we all gathered and were waiting for the others to come down. We turn around and see JT walking with Howie and no bikes. What the hell is going on? Jay and I walk back up to them to find out JT's legs locked up on the edge (from fear) and Howie was helping him down. Jay and I get their bikes and get everyone back to the corner. JT has never liked heights or cliffs, so his fear was understandable.

Finally we're on the final stretch of the Portal and I crash going down this stretch, twisting my bars. I have to stop and fix my bike and the group goes past me. What the hell? I was pissed that no one asked if everything was OK. Son-of-a-bitch. Now I am pissed off. Yep an epic ride.

At some point before the bottom we realize that the vehicle that was to take some of us back to the trailhead wasn't going to be able to perform this task as the keys for this vehicle were LOCKED IN THE TRUCK IN THE VALLEY. Holy SHIT! That means a few of us were going to have to ride the 10 paved miles back to the trailhead. A few of the fast guys volunteered but we realized we needed 4 riders, not 3, so I peel off and go with them. 10 miles into the wind. Uphill. On pavement. On the side of a busy highway. Sounds like a great time, which is why I went.

Shockingly, it was miserable. Probably more so for my partners, as they could have been back 10 minutes or so quicker than they were 'cause they were going slower for me. But we got to the vehicles, got back to town and cracked the keg wide open. It was a completely epic day. We had almost every weather pattern one could imagine, got lost, got scared, got hurt, had mechanicals, forgot keys and had an absolutely awesome time. This ride has to rank in my top 10 rides of all time.

WHEW. That was a lot longer than I thought. My next one won't be so long, as it was two small rides and I was fairly well hung-over, so I don't remember all of the ride.