Thursday, November 29, 2007

26er vs. 29er

Four times in the last week and a half I've tried to compose a post comparing my two bikes but I just can't seem to get the job done. As far as I'm concerned the bike serve two completely different purposes making for an unfair comparison.

Anyway, I guess I can at least give my impressions how the new bike rides. For the first half of my Sedona break-in ride I had a hell of a time climbing on the El M. Mid-ride I had a revelation about my riding style and started treating the new bike like a SS. I picked a decent middle gear and everything just clicked into place. It was like night and day, I could climb again. For easier climbs I picked a slightly harder gear and vice-versa. The bike climbs and descends very well, large obstacles were handled with relative ease.

It didn't feel quite as snappy as my other bike nor did it really handle switchbacks as well, of course this can be attributed to my level of familiarity. The whole low speed handling is kind of interesting to me because the El M felt quite balanced during the first turns around the parking lot. The bike formerly known as Unit has been slacked out by the 100mm fork and feels a little sluggish just riding around but quite nimble when push comes to shove and the El M was just the opposite.

The last thing that really struck me about the new bike was the amount of flex in the rigid fork. I've ridden many a rigid mountain bike but never one with a fairly light and intentionally flexy fork. I never felt that the flex was a detriment and didn't notice it at all in relation to steering.

I've still got some cable to shorten and grips to swap and the bike will be all ready for some riding this weekend.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Safe and sound in Seattle

"What do we have here?"

"And you say you really need this?"

Yes, yes I do.

I just can't get over how purdy it is. The bike suffered one badly bent brake rotor during shipping, and all of my spares are the older Avid 165s and don't play nice with the newer 160 setup. Time with the Park DT-2 didn't really help all that much. Other than that, the bike is no worse for the wear and I'm looking forward to getting out there with it.

On a non-bike related note, I'd like to draw your attention to the Christmas stocking disparity in our household. That's how I roll, bitches!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tree's up.

I heart Heart Lake

Michele and I went up to Anacortes today to check out Heart Lake. It was a beautiful day for it and the trails we hit were a shitload of fun, even if there was a bit of walking involved. I'm going to have to get back up there to check out the rest of the ACFL one of these days.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dirty bike?

Anacortes put off until tomorrow, leaving me a good opportunity to deal with the mess left behind from the last ride.

The places I have yet to ride

The new issue of Bike hit my mailbox today and got me thinking. Many years ago, when I first started mountain biking, I only rode the trails right out my door in Spokane. I couldn't really see why I would ever need more than what my little park could provide. I occasionally ventured off to do other trails, but never far from home. Mt. Spokane, High Drive, Liberty Lake, Beacon Hill, never anything more than a half hour away and still fairly similar terrain. By the time we left Spokane for Missouri, MTB trail wanderlust had set in completely. I wanted to do it all and was building up a decent little list in my head.

In the last couple of years I've ridden in some amazing places and knocked a few very big trails off of the list. Sedona, National Trail, and MRT come to mind right away.

Here's what's currently on the list, in alphabetical order.

Crested Butte, CO - Twice I've been to CB and the first time Michele and I had bikes with us, at least we did when we started our trip. An unfortunate Yakima failure led to the loss of our bikes and a MTB free stay in CB. Poor and not feeling able to absorb any unplanned expenses, I refused to rent a bike, even with Michele urging me to. I retrospect I really should have gotten a rental, oh well, that's hindsight for you.

Fruita, CO - I spent a couple months in Palisades, just a few miles away from Fruita back in '96. I didn't have my bike with me or any idea of what Fruita had to offer at the time. I was back in Spokane by the time the buzz reached me.

Gallup, NM - Gallup is a recent addition to the list, I heard about what the area had to offer only a couple years ago. The last time I was in Gallup I even had my bike and the option to ride but all I wanted to do was bust-a-move back to the 'nix so I've only got myself to blame that it's still on this list.

Gooseberry Mesa - I don't remember the first time I heard about Gooseberry, but it was a while back. It's a full day's drive from Phoenix and I made plans a couple times to head up there and it never happened. Totally my fault that it never happened.

Grand Canyon North Rim - Again it's a fairly new addition to the list and supposed to be relatively tame, but it's the fucking Grand Canyon. How can it not be on any self respecting mountain biker's list.

Maah Daah Hey Trail - This is the first trail I remember feeling that I really wanted to ride. I read about it in an issue of Bike sometime in the early nineties. It's the first time I ever really thought about riding somewhere other than the trails I already knew.

Moab, UT - Been to Moab, ridden in Moab, but only Slickrock Trail and rumor has it that's just the tip of the iceberg. Not a big priority to get back but it still makes the list.

Mt. St. Helens - Close by and supposed to be fantastic riding. It's my understanding that there are still some access issues due to last winter's storms but still good for multi day riding.

Orcas Island - This is a fairly new addition to the list. My one big plan for '08(not including NAHBS) right now is to make sure that I get up to Orcas for a multi day bike camping/mtb adventure, and that's why I'm now the proud owner of a brand spanking new El Mariachi.

Seven Summits Trail - Heard about the trail in passing a couple years ago but the new issue of Bike is what actually put it on the list. Not too far away from here and a definite candidate for a quicky trip this summer, if I ever get around to getting a new passport anyway.

You'll notice no middle America or right coast trails on this list. Not because I don't have any interest in say Pisgah or State College, but I just don't see traveling that far for a ride. Then again there was a time when I didn't see driving across town so you never know.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Michele had a call shift on Wednesday and she crashed hard yesterday when she got home. We had talked about heading down to Portland to see my extended family or going over to Spokane to see Rachel's people but it just wasn't happening. When she finally got up around six neither of us had much interest in attempting to put something together so we drove out into the night in search of a meal. It took a little while but we found a little Thai place in Fremont that was open and happy to serve us.

Anyway, fast forward to today and our real Thanksgiving dinner. We went over to the house of one of Michele's co-interns and had a real feast laid out for us. In all there were about 12 or 13 people there. Lots of beer, a big ass turkey, green bean casserole, cheese plate, and of course pie.

Tomorrow we're going to head up to Anacortes to do a little riding and work off the meal. Should be a good time, or an outright train wreck.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The rest of the weekend...

Sunday dad and I started moving around the apartment pretty slow. The fact that I had not ridden much the past couple months was pretty obvious by the way I felt in the morning. Achy all over, but not really full on hurting. We finally got around to loading up a little after 9 and headed to the preserves, 32nd St trailhead. Dreamy Draw had been tossed around as a starting point but since it's climbing in every direction I really wasn't feeling it.

We started on Michele's Loop to 40th and up 8 to 8a, over to 1a all the way to DD, side trails to the North end of 220, 220 to conversation point, and down the Zipper back to the truck from there. There were sections of trail that I traveled at greater speeds than I ever have before simply because of the gears, and a couple other sections that were easier due to the larger tires. It was a good ride at a decent pace. Near the end I gave dad the choice of three paths and he of course chose the one with the most hike-a-bike but it did get us back to the top of the zipper and that's always fun.

Post ride we hit Sabuddy for lunch and then dropped the bike off at Rage to be shipped back. It should hit my door sometime early next week. Later we took Char to LGO for dinner and the Gelato Spot for dessert. I went ahead and crashed on her couch last night and she dropped me off at early this morning.

The camera never made it back out after Saturday so no pictures, sorry.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ride baby, ride!

Dad and I loaded up the bikes this morning and drove up to Sedona for a proper new bike break-in. Crazy Joe and Gordo the Wonder Dog made the trip down from Flag to help with the festivities.

Once we had our shit together we all rolled out through Oak Creek Village toward Baldwin. After a mile and a half or so of pavement we shot off toward red dirt on on some unknown trail in search of adventure. Our little shortcut got more and more faint until it disappeared completely in a wash. Now bushwacking and walking we made our way back to real trail and the road in search of Baldwin, Buddha, and Templeton. Once the start of Baldwin was found the rest of the ride really just fell into place.

Up to Templeton, on a brand spanking new bike.

Joe, on the sidewalk.

Dad, loving the trail.

Closed? Yeah, right! Really though, after consulting a map post ride we really should have continued on Templeton but oh well.

Hauling ass just for the camera.

Joe and Gordo doing a little bushwacking.

Not a very big ride by six months ago standards but it sure kicked my ass today. Something a little more mild perhaps tomorrow. Sleep well little big wheeled bike.

Bike formerly known as Unit vs. El Mariachi thoughts, impressions, comments, and concerns will be forthcoming within the next week or so.


Friday, November 16, 2007

What does it say about me..

... that I stared at this picture for a good 2-3 minutes before I noticed the guy in his superhero underwear?

You gotta love the work of Sacha White.

The photo is stolen from Bummer Life who stole it from someone else. If it's yours and you don't want it up I'll gladly pull it down.

Hurry up and wait

So my flight's been delayed. Here I am sitting at the airport pondering today's dumbest decision. Never again will I take a bus that goes right by a high school immediately after school gets out. Holly fucking hell, I cannot believe how many of those little loud, gangly, pubescent, shits crammed onto the bus. They were everywhere, yelling and screaming, causing a general ruckus. There's no way in hell I was ever that obnoxious. Ok, so maybe I was, but when in the fuck did I get old? I'm old enough to pay for a taxi, that's for god damn sure.

Speaking of money, I had my three month review at work today, a full five months after starting. It went quite well, nothing but positive feedback and a 9% pay raise effective immediately. Now I feel a little better about the new bike purchase. Who am I kidding? I never felt bad about it, but perhaps the person with whom I've joined forces will feel better about it.

If my flight gets delayed more, and I'm still crazy bored I've got some other things bouncing around that I'd like to get down, but we'll see.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

El Mariachi has arrived!

Well it's made it to Scottsdale anyway. Dad's going to pick it up tomorrow and I'll be riding it on Saturday. I also talked to both Crazy Joe and SuLing today. Joe's going to join us for Templeton loop on Saturday and Jeff and SuLing might hook up with us for some preserves action on Sunday. It's going to be a whirlwind trip for sure and I'm really looking forward to it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A day full of adventures

It's not really worth getting into why but I needed to make a work related trip to Vashon Island sometime this weekend. As long as I had to jump on a ferry I figured I might as well bring Michele and the bikes. I prefer to get my money's worth from my ferry dollar, and unfortunately I only got a couple chapters from Fauntleroy/Vashon. At least it wasn't my dollar.

The BBTC trailhead instructions were less than clear and MTBR was as unhelpful as ever so it took a little doing to figure out where to start. The first 1/4+ mile was incredibly overgrown and difficult to pick out, not to mention slippery as all hell and nasty brush stump punji sticks all over the place. 100 yards in and Michele was out while I trudged on.

I can't remember ever riding anywhere as slippery as this, worse than the occasional snow excursions back in Spokompton. Of course that doesn't make it bad, just more interesting. Didn't that long for me to take a nice little off bike excursion. The culprit is in the foregound, freshly broken, the bike is where it came to a rest, and I stopped rolling another 10 feet down the trail. I was carrying a fair amount of speed when I hit the slick stick. The front of my bike went off to the right while I continued straight ahead along with the back of the bike. Fortunately the ground is quite soft and not a punji in sight.

Michele refers to this photo as "a new take on a Sean classic".

Same old, same old.

I didn't stay out too long partially because I felt a little(really, just a little) bad about Michele not riding. When I got back to the E Michele was working on a book but ready to go. We headed straight for the ferry, home for a quick pit-stop, and off again to St. Edward.

Definitely Michele's favorite local place to ride so far. We did a couple times around the St. Ed's triangle loop that Michele loves so much.

It was much muddier than last weekend thanks to a good helping of overnight rain. The trail was real nice wet and not very slick at all. I really liked the way the new meat cut right through it and allowed me to climb just like on dry trails. Very satisfied with my winter tire choice thus far.

I got a little muddy.

Michele too, albeit less so.

Post ride we hit Redhook for eats, the food was ok but we were both a little let down by the scene in general. Given the distance from home and the "meh" factor it's unlikely that we'll be visiting again anytime soon.

Home again for a short time then up to Mukilteo for yet another birthday(speaking of which, Happy Birthday SuLing), and finally home again just a short while ago.

Now I'm off to bed.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Weekend Update

Friday was Michele's birthday and conveniently enough she got off around noon and hit the bar early with a few off her co-interns. Later we did dinner up on Phinney with Rachel and Casey. Back at the house for more fun and cake plus a little Wii.

Saturday we went to Carkeek Park to watch the salmon run. Michele's never witnessed this particular part of the circle of life and was chalk full of questions, questions that I did my best to bullshit my way out of. When she got tired of my answers she turned to Quinn the talkative random five year old who somehow knew it all.

Today we went and did around six miles or so around St. Edward/Finn Hill. It was good to turn pedals with my wife, it's been a while. No more words, just pictures.

'08 El Mariachis show up at Salsa tomorrow and ship to dealers later in the week. The new bike should hit Rage before I land in the 'nix. Woohoo!