Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Theoretical Bicycle pt.1

My dropbar-converted Stumpjumper rig is a Helluvatrooper.

I really love this bike. It’s fun to ride. It rides over and through anything and everything. It requires relatively little maintenance. It very very rarely flats. It would be hard to ask for a better DailyDriver.

But it is a little too small (check out that saddle height!) and I look not unlike a 90’s time trialist when I hammer, let alone sink to the drops. It’s also equipped with cantilever brakes and it rains here a lot. Also hilly. That makes for a dicey c-combo and my stopping distance is Considerable when it’s wet out (and steep out).

A few months back I caught sight of a kickstarter campaign and I took a gamble. I threw in a largish chunk of change and held my breath. The darn thing got funded though and now I’m poorer but I’m allegedly taking delivery of a brand new and untested exotic frame this coming January. This has me excited. I’ve been poring over parts lists and options and compatibility charts and installation guides and then balking at prices and through it all have come up with a Plan. This Theoretical Bicycle may one day become real but for now it’s little more than a google doc and a big number surrounded by red (parentheses) in my checking account. Recently though, it’s made its first strides out of the imagination and into the corporeal.

 I saw this photo on the internets of the first-off-the-line frames, still unpainted in Taiwan and made of a different alloy than mine is expected to be. Still, that’s something.

And then I took delivery of some of the first shiny elements.
They hint at the Plan.
And are certainly pretty to look at. But this project has a long way to go before the bicycle becomes Real. Lucky for me the Stumpjumper is a Helluvatrooper, ready for the winter studded tires, and happy to take me through the dark days of winter.

Stay tuned as this project takes on a bicycle-shaped shape.

Monday, October 29, 2012



TdM 2012, a set on Flickr.

Last weekend, October 29th, was the 16th Annual Tour de Muktileo. There was a deep field this year, 3 brave contestants, none of whom rode the same course, or could even agree on what the course should be. There were was one thing clear though, this was a Bike Event (This was a Swig Event).

First we all rode to the bottom of St. Andreas Blvd, just because we love riding back up it. I rode up it. Ocean rode up it despite being a baby about his helmet. Gerald decided to ride a more difficult course and rode up Picnic Pointe prior to Andreas, make sure her's legs were assuredly Jello before the attempt. A brilliant Strategy.

We rode to the Diamond Knot (II) becuase they make excellent pizza, but we just has a beer.

We rode to Scuttlebutt for a beer too. darker ones.

Skirtsteak met us there and joined us for the remainder of the day's stages. We set off at a blistering <10mph pace back toward Chateu Chapeau. Once there Ocean made us all the requisite Gins and Tonic that mark the successful completion of The Tour. Always refreshing after a Hot Summer Ride.

I don't know excacty who won the day (photo finish results pending), but Ricky Williams was the clear KOM.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cowboy in another life?

Le Grizz 50 miler, Hungry Horse MT, Oct 13, 2012

31st year of this race, a very popular Western States 100 qualifier because it is "easy" (36 miles gravel road, 14 miles paved, 2000 ft rolling vertical) and scenic. Yet it is a small race with many veterans, like Larry C. with whom I ran the first 100k of Pigtails. He ran it 23 times, twice finishing under 7 hours (men's record 5:34, women's record 6:37). I'll admit I have crazy thoughts of trying for WS100, and god forbid I actually get in one day (1/11 chance in lottery after qualifying with a sub-11h 50 miler). But for now it's more fuel for the addiction, 50 mile being my new fav distance.

Flew into Kalispell and drove 14 miles to Hungry Horse. Felt so peaceful in Montana, the same peace I felt flying into Spokane and driving north to eastern BC.

Now the routine, pick up rental car. Stop at grocery to buy food for race. Check in at Mini Golden Inns motel. Start swigging. Get up ridiculously early (in this case 4 a.m. mountain time) to make sure Body Glide is properly applied before getting on the shuttle to the race start.

Then the bus driver got lost, over 2.5 hours to get to the start. In addition to the usual Maniacs, I saw Keith S. who was at VT100, one of those guys who did the Badwater- Grand Slam combo, didn't recognize him without the pink tutu. Also heard a couple runners from iRunFar were there this year.

Francine had warned me the weather would be crappy, but did I listen?
At least Francine's husband is wearing the right gear to crew.

Rain Rain Rain. Gun start at the back of the pack.

There are few manned rest stops on this course, so everybody had their crew car constantly leap-frogging you on the course. Very hard to find a private place to pee.

It's a long road ahead, and you're pretty much on your own. Like life but a lot easier and more pleasant.

I hear it's got amazing views when not so rainy/ foggy, but it was pretty amazing anyway.

A race volunteer offered to take my photo, even before he realized I was carrying my own camera. Doggie lost interest when he realized I wasn't carrying any beef jerky.

It would clear a little, then rain some more, then a rainbow....

The hard part was hitting hard pavement at 14 miles left to go, knowing that a sub-9 was still possible, but I had to average 10:30 pace to get there...

and that there was a steep scramble to the finish.

8:55:08, that's a PR for me. Handmade wooden finisher's plaque and PBR? life doesn't get better. 

My drop bag (and post race clothes) were soaking wet so I was too cold to brave the massage. Fortunately I met a fellow runner from Seattle who offered me a ride back. He had done the 200 at Pigtails and even finished PLAIN. I must've done good, rarely finish in the company of such fast runners.

Got back to Seatown at 6:30 AM, breakfast at Speedway Cafe with Ocean, then a blessed day to sleep. and swig and blog.

Oh Canada!

Montreal Marathon, Sept 22-23, 2012

When CZ texted that he was running the Montreal half-marathon, and did I want to come along (to run the full) it was a no-brainer. I had not been back there since graduation from M.D.C.M. in 1999. While there I was so eager to get back to Boston at every opportunity, I didn't fully appreciate the city, such is 20/20 retrovision. It sure felt different in my 40's as opposed to my 20's, but then again everything does.

Luckily I chose to take the red-eye and arrive late Friday night. Had time to catch a beer sampler on Rue St. Catherine, closed the place down.

Next day I had an agenda, went to replace my dead McGill backpack and get a view from the chalet on top of Mt. Royal. Luckily the subway system is great, you pretty much never have to see the light of day in winter (which is handy when it's minus 30) as the entire city is connected underground. 

After bagels boiled in honey water on the Plateau, stopped by the Shatner student center and by Redpath, the oldest building in Canada. 

Hiked up to the Trashcan (aka McIntyre medical building) where I spent so many hours. 
The students in there looked like infants. Then hiked up in the rain to the chalet. 

The climb is a lot less than I remember, but I wasn't a runner then. 

CZ was less excited about climbing a crapload of hills in the rain the day before a race, so we cabbed it to Oldtown, 

where I got to watch a 3D IMAX movie featuring polar bears while drinking beer and eating popcorn. The Canadians have it figured out. 

That evening, dinner outdoors next to the hill at km 16 of the race, and even fireworks outlining the Jacques Cartier bridge which we could see from our hotel room. 

Next morning, a perfect crisp fall day for a leisurely run through a beautiful city. I think I did more in that 1.5 days than entire months 17 years ago. 

Kaslo Sufferfest, Kaslo BC Sept 29-30, 2012

I actually sighed with relief when fellow Maniac Francine suggested we downgrade from the planned Loonie Toonie (200 km trail race, supported only by crew, divided over 3 days) to the "regular" Sufferfest 50k trail run. Either would earn you the coveted "sufferfest hoodie". 

Flew in to Spokane then drove 3 hours to pick up Francine in Rossland, BC. I was oohing and aahing the scenery, huge mountains and trees with crazy mountain bikers climbing 10+% grade hills for miles and miles. 

We drove 2 more hours to get to Kaslo, another beautiful small mountain town.

The Kaslo Sufferfest is a 3-day event with multiple mountain bike (100k, 45k, 14k, Monster Enduro) and trail running events (50k, 25, 10k) going simultaneously. People can mix it up (do 100k bike + 50k run) or double up (100k + 45 k bike), the Loonie Toonie being the longest. It was news to me there are separate helmets for ascending and descending.

Camped for $20 then got up in the dark for the 6 AM start, under a full moon. 

The pictures cannot do justice to the beauty of the trail. There was a fair amount of climbing but not the bush-whacking I feared after hearing stories about the brutality of Canadian trail runs.

They had a volunteer standing in the middle of the forest directing bikers in one direction, runners in another.

And there's nothing like seeing dawn through the trees, over some water with Selkirk mountains in the background, when you're slightly lightheaded from climbing.

And what goes up must come down

Met up with a runner from Alberta named Bobby Jo who was doing her first 50k.

Never such a variety of terrain in one race, forest, sandpit, rocks, single track, dirt roads....

and it was a perfect sunny day

We saw a bridge painted with dye made from beets, there were a lot of running in the wide open. 

And despite all the dilly-dallying, still finished under the 8 hour cut-off. 

After the race, grilled burgers and "suffer bucks" to spend in any food place in town, got to individually thank all the race volunteers. Love small town races. 

Apparently we didn't even get to see the most amazing parts (here are some photos pirated from the Sufferfest)

We'll be back next year for the Toonie.