Thursday, September 30, 2010

Number Twenty Nine

Attendance: Myself, Racin' Rob, Secret Steve, A/C, Kevin, Sarah, and Cheryl.

Weather: Sunny and 60 degrees.

Trail Conditions: Excellent. I spent a little over two hours cleaning up the trail before the ride. The biggest project involved firing up the chainsaw to finally clear out the Bodhisize trail that has been clogged with downed trees most of the summer. It's really nice to be able to get through there without dismounting and climbing over a bunch of crap.

Sarah took Cheryl on some new trails; and since most of my group is racing this weekend, I led out what I was hoping to be a leisurely (as if that's even possible anymore with this crew) ride around Pond Hill Farm. After the ride, we were all treated to another delicious dinner from RaRa. Next weeks WNR is @ Boyne. Bring your lights for sure. RaRa and I are departing for the east coast next Wednesday afternoon, so we'll be out for the next two WNR's. Ride well and keep the rubber side down. Perhaps I'll post up some stuff from the road. Over and out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

28 and Counting

A little late on the draw this week for the blog…I hope I haven’t abused blog etiquette too bad by not posting quite on time.  Kind of a busy week, and hey, I have quite a blog to top from the last one!  Pressure!  Haha!  But, here we are, better late than never!

With 28 Wednesday night rides so far this summer, I, along with everyone, can say what a great one it’s been!  I don’t mean to say it like its past tense, because our rides are still rollin’ along, even into the night hours!  We’ve truly had a great summer of riding though, I don’t think any mountain biker or outdoor enthusiast could argue with that.  A few wet ones here and there, but all in all, a terrific season!

I’d have to say this ride was fairly casual.  Well, casual compared to last Sunday…I’d say most anything is casual compared to 40 miles on knobs.  Me, Rob Horsepower, CB, Action Cheryl, Sarah, Pete, New Chris, and Secret Steve took another tour of the Crybaby.  This run was about the same as our last one with the same view of Rob drifting off into the distance.  Except this time I swear there was a little rooster tail spewing out from behind his tire!  Well, rounding the first corner we could tell the course had been groomed, it looked rather nice.  It had that texture every mountain biker looks for in a turn.  Smooth, but tacky enough to feel the tread squirm just the right amount into the dirt.  The kind that allows your weight to transfer confidently into the bars, lowering your weight just enough so you can squeeze an extra mph or two to sneak ahead of your would be competition.  And the course…if you were wondering…yup, still hurts.  All the way up.  I’m trying to figure out where I’m going to take a swig of water because my lungs will be working overtime!  Not sure what I was thinking when I signed up for three laps….

Our short tour of the course took us into the night.  On our way back the trail was dotted with our lights dancing all over the singletrack.  Thanks again Pete for letting me trade batteries for my little test.  Ah yes, night riding.  That’s a damn good time.  For #28 we didn’t get to dip into the darkness very much, but if our fall stays in line with our summer, we could see quite a bit more of it.  Might actually have us slow it down a bit so we don’t overdrive our lights…there’s only so far you can see careening down a familiar singletrack…the darkness plays tricks on you.  I remember more recently that one well worn trail “seemed” to veer right…well, it didn’t.  My poor knuckles.  (fist bump?)



As the lights feathered out, we gathered for some friendly brewskies and a little armchair racing thinking of how the upcoming race is going to pan out.  Grinding about technique, lane choice, and generally how the event is going to unfold.  Seems like I’ve heard a lot of positives, but we’ll see.  Until then, I’ll be sure to pack my tissues for that hill…  As Pete would say, yes, the race this weekend is going to hurt like a mother fu**er….or should he say more appropriately, HTFU!!!

New U.P./Old U.P.

WNR # 28 came and went. I think A/C said he was going to do the post so all I'll say is the race this weekend is going to hurt like a mother fu**er.

I had a really nice last minute trip to the U.P. over the end of the weekend. Some of it was same old same old, and some of it was brand spanking new to me.

The same old same old: I stayed at the Landmark. It's a really nice (not overly $) hotel in downtown Marquette, and I like it a lot. When I called to check on a room and gave the front desk person my last name, she immediately said "You've stayed with us before if I'm not mistaken Mr. Gurney. Let me pull up your information." Hardly necessary, but nice all the same. While in town I ate breakfast at the Sweetwater and had pizza from Aubrey's, they are both top notch eating establishments. If you ever find yourself in or around Marquette, I highly recommend checking them out.

The new stuff, in order of least exciting to most painful:

I took the Newberry way home. We always go Blamey Park. It's literally six of one, half a dozen.

I finally pulled into the Scenic Turnout just west of Munising. It's pretty, and there's a good view of Grand Island. I stayed about two minutes.

I rode two and a half new loops of the South Marquette trail system over the course of two days. The trails up there are sweet. Part of one of them is a long downhill literally on top of an old concrete pipeline. It's called the pipeline. So the trails are super technical, but almost all rideable even on the singlespeed. I've now ridden all but half of one loop in the system at least once.

I was talking with Kate and Nick before I left work on Saturday afternoon, and I mentioned I was thinking about checking out the Cut River Gorge on the way up. Kate and the fam had been up across the weekend before, and they stopped there on their way home. I had been thinking they had some stairs down to the bottom, and Kate confirmed that they indeed did. My mind was made up. I'd park, change into my running gear, go for a little jog to warm up, and then do a good hard stair workout to break up the drive. There are something like 250 steps, and I ran up them three times. People looked at me like I was insane, and with the way my legs feel today after that workout and a couple of solid rides they may have a point. I took a sauna last night, and that seems to have helped a little. I'm just hoping they start feeling better before the weekend.

P.S. I was thinking of doing a cross race up there on Sunday. I didn't. The blue skies, warmish weather, and the abundance of sweet singletrack trumped riding/running around a park as fast as I could for an hour.

WNR @ HQ tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Couldn't Resist

I see a lot of funny sh*t on the internet. Usually I figure most people see the same stuff, or maybe they wouldn't find it as funny as I did; but with this one I couldn't resist sharing with the class. I found this over on the DC this morning and had a good little chuckle. I just laughed again when I pasted it over.



Anyway, got some good bike work done the other day. I tightened up the tension of my singlespeed chain, so hopefully no mechanicals for Pedro tonight. I also finally got some new tires on/racks off the cyclocross bike just in case I'm so inclined to drive to Marquette for a little pain and suffering on Sunday. Over and out.

p.s. Sarge, check out the hipster/fixie rant over at DC as well. It sounds like you and that dude share a similar outlook on that particular sub-set of cycling.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Forties

Sunday Dirt Services went a tad longer than expected over the weekend. We were shooting for a 2.5-3 hour ride, we ended up with 3 hours and 45 minutes for just about 40 miles. It's the longest ride I've done since Ore to Shore, and it felt really good. Those are the kind of rides I do at least once a week starting in late March/early April up until Memorial Day pretty much. Then sh*t just gets busy, and I simply don't have time for long jaunts in the woods. Plus, if I do a long race in June, July, and, August my body probably wouldn't respond very well to additional four hour rides in the woods. Anyway, doing longs rides like Sunday with a good group makes them even better. Benson, Racin Rob, A/C, Secret Steve, and KnewKhris joined me on the adventure; and while I kept them out on the saddle a little longer than expected, I think everyone enjoyed one of my personal favorite loops.



WNR is moving to the end of Valley Rd. just past Chestnut Valley this week. I know someone told me why, but I can't remember. Benson is supposed to be sending out an amended invite as well. Hope to see you there, it's getting real tight on getting by without a light. Contact myself or Benson and we might be able to hook you up with a loaner.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Feeling Like a Slacker...

I know that it's been quite some time since my last post, but I must say that life has felt a bit overwhelming lately.  And so, I've taken a month off from riding.  Not necessarily by choice.  Nor did I even realize that I was doing it at the time.  Folks, I must say that buying a house, preparing to move, getting married, and having a child were not really meant to happen all at the same time or pushed into the same month.  Welcome to my world.  Although these are all great things leading up to one of life's greatest pleasures, one of life's simple pleasures has been put on the back burner...  riding my bike.  I feel like a slacker.  I feel lazy.  I feel rushed.  I feel like I need clarity.  I feel...  well, like I need to go out and ride my g*d damn bike.  So, this weekend's goal... no, wait...  requirement, besides packing, is to get out and ride, damn it!!!  I'll make a post real soon about how good it feels to get my ass kicked after an extended break.  Until then, check out all the cool bike sh*t that I've come across while cleaning and packing.  Amongst the piles of loose bike parts and dirty rags, I've uncovered some classics...  and a spare bedroom.  It's been a while since I've taken inventory of my bicycle collection.  Lot's of work to be done on these babies, but with a garage and a proper work space at the new place, it's sure to get done...  eventually.
From front to back:
1.  Early 70's Azuki 10-Speed, Blue
2.  Late 60's/Early 70's Sears Roebuk 3-Speed, Black
3.  1965 Schwinn Fiesta, White
4.  1971 Schwinn Collegiate, Green
5.  Mid to Late 70's All-Pro, Beige
1965 Schwinn Fiesta
Anybody remember this old girl?  She's been retired for a few years now.  Brand new front triangle has only had about four rides on it before the SS started dominating the dojo.

WNR #27

Summer is behind us and so are most of our races, the temps are dropping and the daylight is fading earlier each day not to mention that the weather pattern has been decidedly too rainy & October-ish for mid September. This isn’t so much whining as stating the facts of Fall Mountain biking in Michigan. However the transition to this year’s season of riding has been a bit abrupt and we have had to adopt our cool-weather riding gear much sooner than expected. All of this may lead some non/infrequent riders to beg the question: “Are you nuts riding in this weather?” I say NO! We’re just enjoying the variety that fall riding brings. Not to mention that we get to don the headlights and do some night riding to extend the season! (still, maybe a little nuts...)

As for this week’s ride, the majority of the day was bright & sunny, a little cool but a nice fall day…until late afternoon when clouds started rolling in and a sizable green & yellow radar blob was pushing its way over the lake destined to collide with our ride on the Larks Lake NCT trail. Seeing that radar blob and having the opportunity to hit the trail early, I opted to get in a 30-40 minute pre-ride (or ride in the unlikely event that the other riders might bail.) Doing my best to ride between the raindrops, I headed up the trail and near the two-mile-mark I encountered Pete heading south on his ride from home to meet the group. We rode a bit further north & then headed back to see who was going to brave the weather. The rain was coming down a bit steadier but wasn’t too bad under the trees. Upon arrival at the trail head, we were encouraged to find a solid contingent of our fellow riders gearing up to brave the green blob. Kevin & Kerri were just pulling in, Charlie & Cheryl were almost ready to go, Bobbie was putting the finishing touches on locking herself out of her car (solved by a quick phone call to her dad for a spare key delivery) and Sarah was rarin’ to go! OK, we had to convince her to suit up & not sit in the car for an hour, but isn’t that what the rain gear is for?

The trail was in pretty good shape save for some plentiful sticks & downed branches from all of the recent windstorms. A few of the corners started to get a little sketchy with the added rain but all in all still good. Then Pete had a little mechanical with the single speed (yes, another bike issue) that kept ejecting his chain from the front ring. It looked like the chain ring was bent but turned out to be a loose chain ring bolt, easily tightened. Not wanting to chance it, Pete headed back to the car while Action Chuck, Kevin, Bobbi & I pedaled on to Robinson Rd. After a brief rest, we headed back up the climb (surprising Kerri on her way down) & back to the cars. With the clouds & rain, it was getting a little dark so we switched on the lights for added trail clarity…mostly to even out the fact that we couldn’t see through our rain & mud streaked glasses. Generally an uneventful return to the vehicles except that I managed to clear a sizable branch from the trail by picking it up into my pedals/frame/wheel/leg & instantly ground it into innocuous trail chips. Gotta love my steel-framed wood chipper (got lucky!) With everyone safely back and the rain continuing to fall, we made a quick change of clothes & headed north to Moosejaw Junction for some post-ride grub & beverages (minus Kevin & Kerri who were headed in the other direction but plus Racin’ Rob who worked late but joined us for dinner.) A weekend ride is planned for Sunday, starting from Team HQ at Noon:30 with a BYO cookout planned afterward and next week’s WNR will meet at the Pleasantview Township Hall to ride the NCT south with the possibility of some of the Cry-Baby course thrown in for good measure. See you next time!

P.S. I’ve been meaning to throw in a Copper Harbor Fat Tire Festival report but haven’t found the time. Here’s a little tidbit of a recently completed trail that wasn’t on the race course but should whet your appetite...if not for my post, then for the sweeeeeeet trails in Copper Harbor!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

WNR # 26 BOYNE HIGHLANDS

My first blog how exciting! This weeks ride at Boyne Highlands was rather cool and cloudy and with recent rain a little....O.K. alot slippery. Time to get out those long sleeve jerseys.
Riders attending this week included myself (Racin Rob), Rock Conquering Chris Benson , Secret Sandbager Steve , Kamikaze Kevin , Action Chuck and sidekick Super Cheryl , Jamin Joe , Pedalin Pedro , Singletrackin Sarah , Newer Chris , and Chain Krushing Kerri. Quite a cast of characters huh. Pedalin pedro got an early start and was already out on the trail and would meet us in the new section between the pines and Stutsmanville rd. Rock Conquering Chris rode with Singletrackin Sarah and Chain Krushing Kerri to introduce them to that same new section.
The rest of us took off up the valley with Secret Sandbagger Steve leading the way. we decided to add a little mileage and ride the bridges section on our way out to the new trail. There were alot of trees and branches down from all of the high winds over the holiday weekend and just as we started into the bridges section there was a good size tree down over the trail. Action Chuck decided to take action and show us a good line to get back on the trail. As he started his descent the slippery hillside and gravity put him head first into that downed tree. he was O.K. but I thought we might have to call in a helicopter to lift him out. There was some talk about mounting a winch to his bike to get him out of these situations. We finally made it to the pines and into the new section and caught up to Benson, Sarah and Kerri. As we got going again Kamikaze Kevin
took a log to the shin and had a nice goose egg. It looked painfull but he powered through. nice job! We kept going and ran into Pete as he was coming back south. He decided to ride back with Benson , Sarah And Kerri. Kerri was breaking in her new Salsa Mamacita 29er and break it in she did. The chain had come off and was pinched, sucked or jamed behind the big chainring and frame. Pete and Benson carefuly got it out with just a few minor scratches on that pretty red frame. A little red finger nail polish should touch it up nicely. The rest of us made it to Stutsmanville rd. and I decided to do a few wheelies on the pavement before we headed back south. With all of the trees down there was a lot of creative an competitive trail cutting (you know who u are) all in good fun. As we headed back to the meadow it was getting dark in the woods so those that had lights lit up the trail. We all made it back safe and enjoyed some beverages , chips and pretzels and made plans for next week. Just a reminder only 350 days untill COPPER HARBOR FAT TIRE FESTIVAL 2011 JUST RIDE AND SMILE

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Preview

So I started work on another new trail yesterday afternoon/evening. It's going to be a continuation of the "other new trail" that debuted during last weeks WNR. When finished, it will be known as the "lower loop". It will be it's own self-contained loop between the house and the road. It will cross the driveway twice, and it will have at least one bridge feature and perhaps a teeter totter. I'm hoping to have it done before we leave for Vermont next month.

Before:


After:


I'm really digging (no pun intended) this trail building gig. It's quite rewarding to see the results from a few hours of manual labor here and there, and it's always fun to ride new trails. Plus I'm getting some good upper body/core workouts to get geared up for ski season. I'm still waiting on a report from the race that Benson and Racin Rob attended in Keewenaw country over the weekend. Over and out.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Old School New School

Old School: We brought Marcus's teeter totter out of retirement last night. We set it up in the driveway and took turns riding it while everyone was getting suited up. I'm not sure if it's still under warranty or not, but we managed to break one of the hinges. Still, fun to ride. We also rode the old logging road down to Lower Shore Drive just like the olden days so we could cruise over to Hugh's trail. The party light stayed on longer than it's been on in a long, long time (remember the WNR's when the party lasted till close to midnight?). We didn't make midnight last night, but we sure made it close to eleven standing around in the shop sipping on beers and talking about bikes.

New School: I recently completed a new short section of trail that debuted last night. The picture below shows the boys just about to shoot back out onto the driveway.



The "Loop" has been going through a bit of a transition this summer. Between the logging off the back end of my property and the utility work down by the creek we've lost a bit of singletrack. So last night we rode what I've been considering "The Loop" this season. SIngletrack behind the house/Up to the 95 acres/Sweet Downhill/Trail across from Sammy's driveway/Down to Lower Shore/Up 119 to Hugh's trail/Back home via Surfwood. It works out to right around 11 miles and takes just under an hour. It's a good loop.

In other New School news, Sarah and Cheryl had our first WNR wild animal encounter. I say "encounter" because we've had lots of "sightings" over the years. Deer, various birds, and even a bobcat have all been spotted while out riding in the woods round these parts. Last night the girls came upon an animal standing in the middle of the trail blocking their way. They couldn't tell exactly what it was, but it looked pretty scary. They grabbed some sticks for protection, and tried scaring the animal off by yelling and causing a ruckus. Nothing worked, it stood it's ground. Sarah and Cheryl were forced to retreat up the trail to Dan and Susan's house. Sarah told Susan sorry for cutting through but they had some "bike mechanicals" and needed a shortcut home. Susan asked if they'd seen Missy out on the trail. So the "wild animal" that scared them off the trail turned out to be a 12 year old, half blind cocker spaniel. Needless to say we all got quite the chuckle out of that.

So I was the only singlespeeder last night, and that kind of sucked on the road sections. My top speed is about 17 mph pedaling like a madman. The geared riders were able to drop me like a bad habit whenever our wheels touched pavement. As I was watching them pull away again on the way home I had a thought though. Actually I probably had lots of thoughts, but one in particular stuck with me. Why don't Benson, Racin Rob, and Charlie have road bikes? I guess I know why Benson doesn't have one but anyway, they clearly enjoy going fast, and I think we would all have a blast ripping up and down 119 in a double pace line all nice and quiet without the hum of knobbie tires. I mentioned this to Rob and Benson later in the evening, and both of them said they'd been thinking about acquiring one before next season. Sweet.

So next weeks WNR is @ Boyne. We might me able to squeak out one or two more weeks without lights, but fall is definitely in the air. And so I leave you with a rather blurry parting shot. Fu**ing iPhone camera. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Well, it's that time.  The time to announce the "big winner" of this month's WNR blog posting.  I must say that I've really enjoyed reading everyone's posts throughout the last month. A big thanks goes out to the four contributors:  Benson, Sarah Gurney, Secret Steve, and Action Chuck.  It's been a real pleasure to have several different point of views on the WNR.  I really enjoyed Benson's play by play through a pseudo O2S race, Sarah's shear enjoyment coming through the pages as she pedaled around Avalanche Mtn., Secret Steve's PBR comment (Post Bicycle Refreshments), and Action Chuck's "fist bumpin" on his post.  Thanks to all.  And to the rest of you Wednesday Night Riders, keep 'em coming for next month.  It wasn't an easy decision, in fact I had to go back and reread the four posts and got just as much enjoyment as I did the first time.


And to the August winner...  Four Milwaukee's Best Ice 40's!!!  Perfect for a hot summer day on the porch.













Just kidding...  Actually, Peter has donated a wonderful six-pack of one of my all time favorites, which is hard to come by out here, Bell's Oberon.  As described by the Bell's website:  "An American wheat ale brewed with Saaz hops; spicy and fruity, Oberon is the color and scent of a sunny afternoon."

Drum roll please....

This month's winner is Action Chuck!!!  (Insert fist bump)

Congratulations and enjoy!!!