Monday, November 28, 2011

6 Degrees Away from a Really BAD Day

In an ongoing effort to get Hondo all trained up for the Arrowhead 135 I am sometimes obligated to ride my bicycle in adverse conditions. This past Saturday would be one of those days. In an act of full disclosure I will even add that I left my partner a message on his fancy land line phone requesting that we postpone the effort for the following day's weather appeared to be much more favorable. In reality it was a test of the DBD code and Hondo passed. He ignored my message and showed up at the designated meeting place. The morning was dark, cold and a light mist was already laying heavy on our surroundings. Our initial salutations included stories of Hondo's short commute to the secret location. It seems that in a mere 4 miles he had one flat and an interview with a Police Officer.  I shrugged off his stories as the lies of a simple man. He went on to mock my "rain gear", stating that he didn't need rain gear and that I looked like a highway worker. Humiliated, I suggested we commence with the training.

A volley of insults behind us we began to get to the business at hand. Our route had us entering the pristine lands of Wisconsin. Sands raft we were forced to travel across the formidable BONG bridge. A monstrosity of sorts, this engineering feat of mankind sits high above the St. Louis river and receives countless blows from the great Gitchie Gummee. We gave each other concerned glances as we rose from our saddles upon entering the pedestrian passage that would lead to Wisconsin. Soon we were forced into our drops as the hurricane winds and sleet battered us, threatening to pick us and our little pedal bikes up and over the side. Not one for heights I dared to steal a glance to the waters below, unsettling to say the least. I've looked Mother Nature in the eye before, but never high upon a man made structure exposed to winds that had hundreds of miles of unimpeded momentum behind them, a knot formed in my bowels.

Snaking our way through the industrial hamlet of Superior, Wisconsin we finally found our gravel. This corridor/snowmobile highway would serve as our "out and back". Immediately, Hondo elected to ride on the hard packed side of the path forcing me to toil in the loose sand. So goes the bonds of friendship formed in the light of the DBD.

The steady drizzle turned to a steady rain, which evolved into a hard driving weather "event". It seemed that the rain drops had some weight to them, as if they were turning that corner, wanting to become frozen b.b.'s.

Our return through Superior was concerning as things were now flat out stormy. I noted the performance of my new "mud flap" and how the water was pouring off it. I called out to Hondo, "check out my mud flap, do you wish you had fenders right now? Do you wish you had rain gear?". I only heard a faint muttering from behind me. "My God, he's got to be soaked to the bone by now, how is he doing this?" Passing by a bank a temperature reading notified us of our current state, 37 degrees. It was at this point that I turned to my training partner and flatly stated, "You're about 6 degrees away from a really bad day."

We went on to ponder the reality of our existence. 6 degrees Fahrenheit separated us from a very dangerous situation. Was this "living on the edge", was it "adventure", some would say it was "stupidity". We called it "FUN".

Hondo died a little on this day, but I'm pretty sure he's got enough life left in him for all of us.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let's Face It, Winter's HERE!

This project has been in my stand for too long, but I think it's finally where it needs to be, coming out of the stand. Winter is all over Duluth and I'm fighting off the blues that usually come with it. I plan to do plenty of snow boarding and I'm already workin' out in ways that don't have anything to do with the bike. Yes, I'M SORE!

In an effort to make my life easier I've decided to do some major "mods" to my winter commuter/long distance training bike. I threw a 39/16 on it, yet I'm not sure if it will stay, depends on how I'm handling Duluth's hills.

This year has not been the "year of the monkey" or the "year of the dog", or even the "cat", but for me it's been the "year of the wheel". I have had so many mishaps involving wheels this year that I should be covered for the rest of my life now. My boys from the Slender Fungus, Ari and Jay know what I'm talking about here. Anyway, this beater wheel pictured above is no different. Sadly, it's dying. It sounds like there are small pebbles inside the hub instead of bearings. If I get through this winter on this wheel I'm going to mount this sucker on my wall. I just hope it doesn't decide to go for the big dirt nap when I'm 80 miles from home and dealing with a zero degree day. Knock on wood for me please.

So, I'm going through a phase of being sick of stuff that's created for our winter by people who live in say, California. What I mean is why can't the fender people make a fender that is really a FENDER. I modified mine, big time. That's my car floor mat hanging behind my front wheel. The road gunk will not be on my drive train, I can assure you of that.

Check out the killer Wood Chippers. You can't really see the flare on these babies from this picture, but trust me it's there. I did a little mod to these too, trimming an inch off the ends, just to tidy them up a bit. Oh, and those are studs on that front tire, gotta have 'em!

This last shot is just a beefy SRAM single speed specific chain to get you thinking. Enjoy your winter commutes and do yourself a favor, modify your fender, because you know it really doesn't work like they say it will.

Soon, I'll be coming to you from a different location. I've been contacted by my personal trainer and he wants to get it going soon. I'm heading to my doctor to get my shots now.

Take care....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Eki's Super Mini Camp - Beer Included!

Hey, next year I might throw this out as a scheduled mini camp and invite EVERYONE. The idea makes no sense, yet if you take a step back it makes all the sense in the world. Here's the concept...A one day, two session ride in the Chequamegon National Forest. Objectives include riding slow, drinking some beers (provided by ME), eating a huge lunch, then a couple more beers preferably in a gravel parking lot while examining the minutia of mountain bike rigs that are present, then ride slowly again. Oh, the most important objective, HAVE A BLAST!
Zach carves up some sweet single track.

The inaugural Eki Super Mini Camp was located in Cable, Wisconsin, the heart of some of the Midwest's premiere mountain bike trails. I was traveling and riding with my good buddy Zach and slated to meet Salsa design engineer, Tim Krueger. However, due to countless delays directly related to the "Zach Factor" we were put way off schedule and unable to meet up with Tornado Tim, despite about 25 failed attempts to contact each other via fancy cell phones.
The "Zach Factor" and we wait...

No worries! We would ride, have a few of the beers I mentioned, and ride some more. The day was, crisp, and bright blue. We were lovin' it! I vowed to document the day with photos, but proved to be an extreme amateur with action shots. Ultimately, I decided that I was wasting valuable riding time trying to get the perfect shot, not to mention risking life and limb riding tricky single track one handed, while taking pictures.
Lunch at the Seely "Sawmill"

The good moods flowed, so did the laughs. The Summit Brewing Company is directly responsible for poor decision making on my part as I entered a section of trail called "Wall Street" on the Rock Lake Trail (see Tim Krueger's account of this day as he rode on without us, as he just couldn't wait for our endless delays - I can't blame him). Fueled by an Octoberfest blend I paused briefly to scan "Wall Street", quickly surmised, "No Problem" and dropped in. Lightly concerned that I was having a spot of trouble clipping in my left foot and an apparent boulder field was coming more and more into focus at the bottom of the gully. I surfed my hard sole cycling shoe around the pedal waiting for it to find it's home with the familiar SNAP, but it wouldn't come. "C'mon, c'mon, where are you?", I thought as I fished for the egg beater. "UH OH!", was the next thought when I completely lost the pedal and began the "rudder effect" with my left leg as it dragged behind me somehow attempting to help steer the bike. The seat was popping me in the throat while the rear wheel was buzzing my crotch - not good! Now, being this stretched out made it hard to reach my break levers, in fact I couldn't reach them at all. I began to accelerate into the boulders ahead. "This is going really poorly" I thought, then I saw my front wheel fall perfectly into a slot made for a 29'er and in one twisting, sickening motion I was flung from the bike and into the rocks. A nano- second of an image was burned into my brain, the sight of my front wheel folding up like a tin can.
Random ride and shoot pic.

I collected myself and the Spearfish, reversed the handle bars back to the direction they are supposed to face and pushed the machine up the other side of the gully. Apparently dazed from the fall I looked over the scene I just passed through and saw a hazy Zach running toward me yelling/asking if I was o.k., but in an echo type voice - so weird. Inexplicably, I removed the front wheel from my rig, raised it over my head, and slammed it down on the ground in a hard fast motion. The singing wallop rang through the hard woods and seemed to play on like a guitar player holding a note. I gave the wheel a spin and couldn't believe that it had boinged back into something that looked like a wheel. I put it back in the bike, looked at Zach and said, "Let's try to get out a here without this thing folding up". He simply replied, "I can't believe you did that".
Mmm, mmm, Good!

I limped out of the trail and back to the car with one super wobbly, sketched out wheel, that my favorite mechanic ended up pronouncing DEAD the next day - so sad (and spendy).

Nevertheless, it's all part of the risky game we play in the woods and if you can't laugh at it, you shouldn't be doin' it. We clinked a couple more bottles, changed clothes, dumped the gear in the car and enjoyed the setting sun.

Now, that's what I call a mini camp. See you next year???? You're invited.


Friday, November 4, 2011

WANTED: Fat Stacks for Fat Wheels

Fat Stacks

(so I can purchase)
Surly Rolling Darryl Rim w/ Cutouts
Fat Wheels

This FRAME for sale

2010 Salsa Chili Con Crosso
(55 cm)
$500. (will negotiate)
email me: