Monday, April 27, 2009

The Angles Sing

DoubleD asked me last week if the maiden voyage on the new Mach 4 caused the Heavens to open and the Angles to sing. The first test ride was kind of a mixed bag, as the euphoria of a new bike was blended together with tired legs and knowledge that I would be on the bench for the next 7 days. (more on that another day). So no, the Angles were’nt singing, just whispering I guess.

Fast forward to this weekend. Green Beans, Dr J., Daisy and myself put together a quick camping weekend at Council Bluffs to taste some of SE MO’s best. Within the first 15 min of our Lake loop I began to fall in love. The super plush yet efficient 100mm of suspension that the Mach 4 serves up must have been designed for the flowy rock gardens of SE MO trails, as this baby was heaven on a bun! My old Epic was fast but twitchy. Think about going left, and your already there. The Pivot is still a fast turner, but doesn’t get all jittery when the odometer gets to double digits. It will stick an off camber line like a Chinese Gymnast on the vault. Trail chatter that would sting the hands and cause me to unweight the Epic, is little more than a dull thud on the M4.

My helmet straps were stretched to the max from my cheesy grin and total excitement of the new steed. To say the Angles were singing would be an understatement. In fact they must have been weeping with joy, as the heavens did open and it poured for 5 minutes before returning to blue skies. (note to self, always put the rain fly on the tent when camping in MO, always).

Sunday consisted of some more sweetness on the Middlefork section of the Ozark Trail. If you ride dirt, this is a must do.

I’m stoked for another trip to AR and Syllamo’s Revenge. This new bike will be the Bees Knees for the NW AR trails.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pivot Mach 4

After much to-do, I present the Pivot Mach 4, MB edition. 26" wheels, and 4" of trail swallowing goodness. A full report after some TITS!!! (that's time in the saddle dummy). I will say that with just one 2 hour spin last Friday, that this baby rocks the house. For endurance Mt bike racing and all day epics, I cant imagine anything out there to be any better.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


The old girl is tired. My old friend of six years is really starting to show her age, and this last go around was a dusey. Last week when preparing the old steed for one last battle, I almost shed a tear of nostalgia in remembrance of the good times and bad, pain and joy, success and failure we'd shared. Counting them on the way home from AR, I named 11 different states where we've shredded trail together. With the birth of a new bike eminent this week (SRAM order may finally get here), its about time to put the S-Works out to pasture. From here forth, she'll be relegated to the dirty work, when conditions are tuff, and the terrain unspeakable. An unfortunate fate for something who's given such fateful service. RIP old friend...

On another note...

Spend 10-15 hours a week riding around the roads and trails of Mid Mo and beyond for half your life and you'll witness some beautiful, peculiar, and even comical things. From cosmic sunsets, to deers at full gallop. From unbelievable star filled skies on sub freezing night rides, to two turtles mating on the centerline. From ridge-line views of Lake Tahoe, to the mighty Missouri at flood stage. Unfortunately tonight, I added one more thing. A fatality. On my recovery spin down Rangeline tonight a came across a string of emergency vehicles parked along the airport road new Englewood. Between the ditch and vacant corn field rest an obviously rolled 4 door sedan, and the unmistakable lump of a body bag. A quick conversation with the closet Patrol confirmed the driver had ran off the road and been ejected, before the car came to rest on top her.

Enjoy those long rides, and keep the seat-belt fastened. You never know when your time is up!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ouachita Challenge...

...or the Ouch-It-Taw, if you've ridden it, was a blast. 60 miles of single track goodness, with a smattering of rockgarden madness.

Race Report:

With over 400 riders lining the roads for the start, I knew a good spot on the start was a good idea. DoubleD and I quickly made our way to the front of the line after the riders meeting and settled in on the second row of one of the biggest fields I've ever lined up with. With a someone unceremonious countdown we were off on a neutral start behind a blue truck. We made good time on the first mile of pavement, dropping onto some gravel, all the while turning about 25 mph. I knew a separator of a climb leading into the first single track was approaching so I push my way to the front keeping an eye on the Ergon crew. The pace was fast and I hit the first single track climb about 15th. The trail continued up for another mile or so gaining some serious elevation. The front group of 10-12 riders gapped me as I was on the rivet and unwilling to put down that much effort so early on such a long race. Big mistake! After a short decent we were back on gravel facing a nasty headwind and the lead group was 40 seconds ahead of me, and I was stuck in no mans land with no-one to work with. A theme that would repeat itself again later in the day.

I pushed on, removed the arm warmers and began to go to work. After a some more single track and a switchback grave climb it was time for some serious section of the Womble. The Womble trail is serious fun. Bench cut contour trail built for slaying on a bike. I was making good time, catching roadies on the descents and climbing better than most. I forced a pair of riders into mistakes and made up even more ground. Some of the views from the Womble were choice, but I didnt have time to smell the roses. At about 90 min in, the Womble came to an end, and it was time for 16 miles of road section. I was just off the lead group and again facing the windy road alone. Had I known better I would have pushed harder to remain intact and road with the main group. Oh well.

After some hard efforts I linked up with a guy from Austin and we worked together until we hit the first section of Ouachita Forest. Here's were the pretenders get sorted out. Blowout Mt. is a section of 10-15 miles of trail most sane humans would not even walk. The trail is old school forest service trail, that totally lacks any planning or design, just go straight from point A to B. Think granny gear climbs moving at sub 2 mph, and rock gardens Hans Rey would walk. This section hurt. Bad. With each hike-a-bike I felt the resolve of my go-get-em attitude slipping. At this point in the race, it was as much mental as physical, as you really had to question your desire to keeping moving forward. Eventually it did end though and dropped me into the last check point.

From the last check, I knew it was around 8 miles of trail and an equal bit of road to the finish. I made my one and only stop of the day, 15 seconds tops. The support at the OC was top notch. Almost like a NASCAR pit stop, one lady grabbed my water bottle, another guy filled it, a third told me I was in 6th place, a fourth handed me two glasses of Cytomax, and yet another was reading off the split times to the next rider. Schweet! I rolled on with a new purpose, knowing I was close to a top 5 finish.

I was making good time on the Brushy Creek trail when I spotted and past what I thought to be 5th. I past and disappeared into the forest and was alone again. This is where the demons started to sink set in. My legs were still pushing well, but the overall fatigue was taking its toll. I finally made the last check point and hit the last 8 mile section of gravel. Lucky for us, the wind was at our backs, and I covered that 8 miles in under 30 min rolling into Oden School in 6th place, just out of the money.

This was a fabulously well exectued event with unbelievble support. Three meals, a T-Shirt, and help at every turn of a very long course. That being said, why the placed only 5 deep in a field of 250+ (60 milers only) is beyond me. Oh well, I had a blast and may go back, if the fear of Blowout Mountain is somehow erased from memory!

Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm Off...

Dr, J, Daisy, DoubleD and I are off in the AM for the trip south to warmer weather and lots o'rocks. A 60 mile mtb race in the Ouachita National Forest awaits.

Race report to follow. Wish us luck!