Monday, August 21, 2006

Hubba Hubba

The Maverick climbs so well, I keep looking around to see who is secretly pushing me. I was still pretty tired today from Saturday's race, but still felt like riding the backside of Hall Ranch. And it felt way better than I would have imagined. Love that!

I like these isolated trees you see at Hall Ranch sometimes. The land there is an interesting combination of forest and open grassy meadows. I changed this to black and white because the light was so crappy this morning.

Then I got to enjoy the twisty, rocky descent all the way down without being stopped by a single person. Sweet!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The New Ride

I got my new bike on Friday evening! It is really, really beautiful:

Here's the fancy Maverick fork. It makes the bike look like a miniature motorcycle. And if you squint, you can see on the head badge, where my friend Frank hand-engraves the frame's creation date and it's individual name. My frame, Basilisk, was born on June 8, 2006.

My very first ride with this bike turned out to be the huge King of the Rockies final race in the Winter Park series. It's 26 miles, with a lot of climbing and technical singletrack. I love it. This race turns you into quivering mush in the best of circumstances; riding a bike that you have not had any opportunity to dial in or have fitted can be a recipe for even more pain.

Here's Cindy getting ready:

Here's me and Basilisk:

I was very happy to feel good and have strong legs. Most of my summer has been lost in a weird bog of fatigue, low heart rates, and subsequent lack of motivation. So I was psyched, for sure. I was climbing well (for me, that is... climbing is not my thing), but the bike was really helping in that regard. It goes uphill so well, with little excess movement in the suspension. And when you stand up, it feels even better. Bubba's one drawback was that standing up tended to feel worse and frequently cause rear-wheel spinout. I always thought that was just pilot error, something I could never figure out how to do right, but with Basilisk it's a cinch. Sweet.
But then on the downhill, the Maverick's suspension was surprisingly harsh compared to the GT. I'm not making any judgement on that yet, though, since I've had zero chance to tweak the suspension. The idea behind the GT and Maverick suspensions are very nearly the same, so I should think that with some knowledgeable help, I can get Basilisk to feel just as good going downhill.

At about the halfway mark in the race, my back started to hurt. This race is so long that it always hurt, even on Bubba, so I wasn't surprised, but I could tell it was going to get a lot worse, since I haven't had a bike fit on the Maverick yet. Sure enough, several miles later I was in some major pain. I had to keep standing up and trying to stretch in every direction. When I got to the final climb, I was so buckled from the pain that I could barely pedal. Luckily, the final, twisty, rocky descent was a total blast, and I cruised to the finish line in 7th place out of 15, a very good result for me, considering how crappy I felt for most of this summer.

I had to strip the final parts off of Bubba today, which was sad. But there's no denying that Basilisk is cool! I'm psyched! I've got one more race in Keystone, but most of my weekends now will be filled with fun rides with friends, my favorite part of mountain biking.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Outta Sight I'm So Behind

Hey there folks, I'm sure you thought I abandoned this blog. But life just got a bit ovewhelming there for a while! But I'm back, and thanks to my awesome brother, I now have a laptop, so I can work on the blog anytime. Sweet.

So, to catch up:

1. I had another KILLER trip to Crested Butte. This might have been the best one yet. I got put in a condo with really fun people, the trails were in great shape from daily late-afternoon thunderstorms, and I finally got to do the last descent on Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadmans.

If you're really bored or trying to avoid work, you can surf on over to Mike O's website and look at a bunch of goofy photos of the trip. It's not too dialup friendly, unfortunately.

2.My teammate Cindy and I went to the Blast the Mass race at Snowmass Mountain. Neither of us had ever been there, and damn, it's beautiful. Snowmass is steep as hell, and the cross-country race was brutal. It was gorgeous, and a real mountain biker's course, with tons of technical singletrack. I loved it, even though it put me in the hurt locker from the get-go. Cindy and I were both pretty hammered by it, but we managed to squeeze in a practice run for the next day's Super D race, and also scope out the Mountain Cross event:

You will be amazed to know that I actually camped at Snowmass. I know, it's a shock. Truly, I love to sleep outdoors. What I can't stand about camping, though, is the claustrophobic feeling of sleeping bags and tents. If I could just sleep on a queen-size bed under the stars, I'd camp all the time. ;) But to my surprise, I managed the camping thing just fine. In fact, the view of the night sky through my tent roof was so amazing that it was the most memorable part of the trip. I'm the background tent:

We dragged our tired asses out of bed the next morning, got stuck on the lift for the obligatory few minutes, and finally made it to the Super D start. For those of you who don't know what that is, I'll explain: It's a race that runs down a ski resort, but also includes a few short climbs. It's usually longer and not as technical as a true downhill race, which these days is extremely rocky and difficult.
I tried to go through a proper warmup, but it was a bit hard to do at the top of a ski resort, plus I was too distracted by watching other waves start. I had never done a Super D, and it's pretty funny to watch if the venue uses the Le Mans style start. This means that everyone lays their bike on the ground, and then from some distance away, when the gun goes off, everyone runs to their bikes, jumps on, and starts riding. You can just imagine the comedy that ensues. And because Super D is still finding its legs in the racing scene, all kinds of people show up. Downhillers in full-face helmets and pads; skinny cross-counry geeks in tight lycra, and everything in between. Watching all these folks awkwardly stampeding in helmets and cycling shoes is truly an amusing sight.

When our turn came, I was actually worried about being dropped during the running portion, since I run as well as a pregnant hippo, but I managed to hang okay. Our cyclocross experiences helped Cindy and I mount our bikes swiftly, but there were some wicked fast downhillers in our group, so they got way ahead right off the bat. And sadly for me, my derailleur, which had flawlesly survived the previous day's five creek crossings and other abuse, decided to blow up during the brief climbs of the Super D. I was further dropped, but still loved hauling the mail downhill, and I finished tolerably well. Conclusion: I think Super D rules!! What a fun event! I'm going to do the last one in Keystone next month.

3. After much stress and unneccessary freaking out, I finally got moved in to my own one-bedroom, for the first time ever in my 16 years in Boulder. What a blessing!!! I love it. It's tiny but perfect. I have a porch where I can see the Flatirons while I eat breakfast, or work on my bikes; a little creek passes nearby, and so far the neighborhood has been very pleasant. (We'll see if that changes when the students arrive in the next week or so!)

The porch:

And the living room:

4. The very bad news is that I lost Bubba. My GT I-Drive, always so dependably fun and nimble, suffered a frame crack, right near the seatpost weld. I'm crushed!! I wanted at least a few more years with that bike, both because I loved it, and because I wanted to actually save up for a new bike, which I was starting to do.
Here's my honey:

I really and truly was saddened by this, for reasons that had little to do with financial issues. That bike was with me through a lot; riding it was my way to escape stress and bring light into gloomy days. I will really miss it, no matter how cool my next bike may be.

I wrote an essay (that became my cycling column for the week) about the loss of Bubba and how it echoed the loss of Z.V.
On a side note, I will probably have to quit my job after it runs, either out of fear that Z.V. or his friends will hunt me down, or because a bunch of weirdos will start hitting on me. That will make life interesting, won't it? At any rate, I'll post a link when it runs.

Well, I've been camped out in the coffee shop for a while now, and the feeling that I'm a pretentious nerd has become overwhelming. I promise to be back very soon with an update on my new bike, which I should be picking up from Blue Sky Cycles later today.

May Bubba go on to Mountain Bike Heaven, which is a perpetual descent down the 401 Trail in Crested Butte.