Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There will be flats, the earth is not soft

Councilman and Rock God oversaw the careful packing of five men, five bikes and one dog into their vehicles (ensuring that every rotor was safe) and we headed for the Knott Lot. We met Lars, who bashfully admitted that he wouldn't mind choosing the route. After a short discussion about the current location of SPI logging activities, Our Dear Ride Leader declared that he felt like he had been gone for so long that he needed to requalify -so off we went.
Just past the gate to the boy scout camp, we rolled up on two spotters walking dogs. "It's the Tuesday night bicycle ride," they called us out. "We've been running into you guys for years."

A fast qualifier run left Rock God wondering if he was going to lose his membership. But, all those fish tacos and beers helped pull him downhill, for as soon as we turned down the chopping block he was fighting for the front.
We took the canal frontage road and the steady climb up to Park Creek Road. The steep and rocky descent of Park Creek Road supplied plenty of action. Councilman ricocheted from one side of the road to the other, his rear wheel almost getting ahead of his front.
When we turned down Barnes Back RG burped his tire and we stopped for an air up. Shortly thereafter, C-man had to stop and futz with his tire. After airing and spinning he finally said "let's just roll it," and that did the trick. Not to be outdone, moments later LOtB's tire went flat. He wrestled it off the rim, to reveal a pretty nasty puncture. He used a bar wrapper to boot it and gu for adhesive. Meanwhile the tube was patched. When the tube didn't hold air, B took the tire off the rim to inspect for secondary punctures. His fingers encountered the sticky mess at the boot site and he exclaimed, "You used gu for this? That's food!" We stood around for lord knows how long, swatting at mosquitoes and getting cold, before the flat was repaired. If only expert field mechanic NH could have been there to take charge of the repair. Alas, he was too busy embrocating his hiking boots.
Back on our bikes we rolled the lake CCW, dashing through the busy camp grounds. Tension was high as various tires weren't maintaining pressure. But, we made it back to the Knott Lot without further incident.

T2 joined us at the taco session. Some aces turned up, the tacos left only a slight sheen of grease on the wax paper and Rock offered some tropical sauces to the table.
B and Councilman are planning an all Friday dirt outing for anyone looking for an epic adventure. A repeat of Cap'n's commemorative ride is possible, or exploring around Barrett jeep trail. Who is in?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

His base is bigger than my peak

Expecting no compensation other than the gratitude of his fellows, Cap'n invited three more bikes and their riders into his truck. This car pool was met at the bustling Knott Lott by a non-bike-wielding LOtB and a non-handle-wielding rider. Xteric also arrived in due time.
Thus assembled, the pithy six pack rolled out the back, with NoHandle taking the reins.
We took the back trail to the fire station and dropped B's chin trail, back up, and over to Fleming. The pace was nothing short of furious as we cranked our way around to 8B. I enjoyed plenty of quality time off the back. Throughout the night, the peloton was split repeatedly with multiple attacks, breakaways chased by groupettos and me in the back inhaling dust. In spite of the pithy pace, count-offs were largely ceremonial as the gaps were never great.

After out and backing 8B, we rounded the loop to Redneck Rising -the only trail that Councilman had specifically requested not riding. His opinions weren't strong enough to mount a mutiny against rideleader nohandle, though, and up we went. A delicious descent of the lip brought us to the lake.
I finally got close enough to the front to realize that it had been B throwing down the hammer all night. He took front wheel for the lake loop. Which was most fun when he deadended us into a campsite. A chorus of dogs erupted into yips and barks and the owners started yelling at the dogs. Our line unraveled with backtracking and fence hopping, then quickly reformed as we sprinted away to hoots and cheers from the perplexed campers.
Cap'n chose a new swim spot, and the cleansing waters were refreshing. Back at the Knott Lott, the teeming masses had left and we could change without having to worry about showing the spotters too much. Checking the clock, it was 9:45 with, reportedly, 22 miles on the bikes.

Xteric was the first in line for tacos and Mother Rye kindly offered to make his order noonion. It was obviously a ruse to teach him that noonion tacos are for children, because while everyone else was heaping on sauce and digging in (or hiccuping) Xteric sat silently, looking like a kicked dog. At pay time, we learned that Mother Rye was another year older. So, we treated her to a booming Happy Birthday complete with five part harmony.

Now its red hot Wednesday. And while we normally would be despondent, knowing the next tuesday is so far away, this week we have the Friday bonus XP ride to anticipate. B is determined to long ride it. And schemes to minimize shuttle driving are being hatched. Sure would hate to be the rider that misses that one.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ode to FT3G2

I meant to post this a few months back, but it was a hectic period. Between naps in the dirt and dirty nappies, I just never found the time. Consider this a tribute/call-out of sorts. It's Tuesday, and ya'll know what that means...

Funny thing, time. For some of us, it's capital; carefully saved and spent in pursuit of one thing or another. It might be a hobby, or a home improvement project, or a well-deserved respite on some far away beach. For others, it's often a battle to carve out the time to spend with our little ones. Between us, we have over a dozen budding members of the next generation of FT3. They are involved in myriad activities, including swimming, soccer, softball and music lessons. One thing they share in common, besides frantic fathers with freewheel (or foot) fetishes, is a love for cycling. Whether it's Nocar's annual race, or a session at the local trail, these boys and girls can send it. More importantly, they share this passion with generations of youth, going back to the early 19th century. For over 150 years, children around the world have suffered/enjoyed the same right of passage as they learn to keep their 2 wheeled contraptions upright.

My eldest is no different, and upon the sage advice of at least one member of FT3, the push bike made all the difference. Evan finally broke free on Bambi's little orange fixie back in early May. As most can attest, it was indeed a proud moment. Primarily, because I saw in him a reflection of my own early discoveries; pedal power, freedom, speed. A close second is the fact I would no longer have to carry him in the bike trailer. Hallelujah!

As a would-be wordsmith, I am partial to anything written in this vein. My in-laws used to read nightly to my wife from a charmingly English collection of stories and poems. We've since inherited it, and this particular tome boasts one or the other for each day of the year. I have been dutifully reading to Evan, and just last week we discovered the following poem. It dates back to the mid part of last century, but is essentially timeless in what it means to folks like us. I dedicate this to the next generation of riders. While it forms a credo of sorts for current members, I pray Gen2 will take it to heart:

When the sun is shining
Or in the pouring rain,
I take my trusty bicycle
And pedal down the lane.

I like to skim round corners,
I like to ring my bell. I strain
And climb the steepest hills
Then freewheel down again.

That's how I like to travel;
It's better than a train,
Or bus or car or motor-boat
Or even aeroplane.

I must admit to a slight alteration or 2 from the original, but the essence is still there. I didn't make up the part about the train. Apologies to the rail folk.

I know there were mid-week mini ride reports, as well as some back-channel hike/recon reports. If there are others, please list. We can't leave it up to the spotters.

1. 5:45 at the 'squito lot.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

There may be hills, the earth is not flat

Happy as a schoolie on the first day of classes, I rushed to the Mosquito Lot for the meet up. Councilman fielded phone calls and counted riders, trying to minimize drivers in spite of Cap'n's threat that he may short taco.

We assembled as 8 at the Knott Lot, and received a send off from NoHandle and Mrs., who were enjoying an evening of childless bliss. Cappy repeated, "where should we ride tonight?" When he heard the suggestion of Cappy's cache, his eyes twinkled eagerly and we headed out the back to the horse trail drop below the dam and up to MET. At this early juncture we had a first incident of Too-far-off-the-back-to-see-the-pack and our ride leader took the necessary precaution of reminding all of proper etiquette.

We followed the trails nearest MET. At the top of the downhiller run (Chiquita banana) we waited for stragglers and B passed around snacks. On to the top of the lips, then we hit the road. Cappy gave a callout to grab a wheel. Those who knew what was following quickly lined up. Others were promptly dropped as the paceline picked up speed. At one point Bambi made a textbook attack, but the ride leader was not to be drawn in to such antics and maintained his pace at the front of the line. Regrouping at the turn-off onto dirt, a couple riders rolled back to check on the last rider and avoid becoming mosquito bait. All-in we sped down the dusty logging road and then churned up the steep gravely pitch on the other side. At the top of this climb Cappy made a clever wrong turn, giving the front of the pack a little out and back as a delay tactic.

The exhilaration of the cache can not be overstated. The trail keeps getting narrower and steeper, and then, around a sudden corner, it drops over an uncompromising rock face. Bambi had to ride the last bit twice. It's that fun. At the end of the trail we burst into a campsite. The campers thought they were at the end of the road, and their eyes just about popped when they saw our whole peleton emerge from the woods.

Bonetti to MET to the top of the lips, where I got to cathartically retrace the route where I performed my non-compliant dismount, so many weeks ago. Not satisfied that all the lessons of that trail had been learned, we then did a full lip loop. Back at the lake, we heard that Peter might show up if we rode too much longer. So back towards tacos, hitting the horse trails for good measure, and pointing out our "ripped calves" as we "danced on the pedals" the whole way.
We picked up the last bit of trail around the lake, and stopped for a refreshing dip. Bambi, dreading the alarm clock, headed for bed. EID patrol rolled up, politely dimming his lights and not exposing the swimmers. We were in a day-use area, and it was no longer day time. With no intention of lingering, we headed for the much anticipated taco session.
The fire crackled, the meat dripped grease, the taco bitties mercilessly teased B, and the scouts (OT and T2) earned Knott Hole t-shirts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I love tacos, they're delicious!

Our post-holiday SSFT3 was indeed a cause for celebration. With thunderstorms threatening somewhere above, and exceptional conditions carried over from last week's rain, we anticipated a small turn out. Safety and Cap'n were waiting when I, as your councilman, arrived in typically tardy fashion to the 'squito lot. A last minute post from NoCar, and text from B, put them both on injured reserve. So, we three rolled up to the Polly in good spirits.

We were met at the KL by our newly crowned Herr Director NoHandle, who was busy texting his directives to far flung subordinates. As we readied ourselves, and hydrated properly, who but Xteric should pull up. He quickly assembled his gear while we discussed ride leadership. A decision was made to craft a "SS-friendly ride". This was likely THTH's first official decision as Il Capo, and we applauded his effort.

And off we went towards Fleming, via the backdoor, sketchy horse trail. We immediately lost Safety when we turned left towards the spillway bridge and up to MET. Xteric was kind enough to retrace and recover and we commenced with a counterclockwise tour of trail 8. As stated above, the trails were in awesome shape. Little dust, tacky and fast as h311. There was much work related discussion, as well as a recap of Cap's race. We also dissected the training methodologies of various members of FT3. Suggestions were made to incorporate this amount of climbing, that amount of flats, whether SS was a necessary component, and more. In the end, NoHandle summed it up best; Just get out and f'n ride. And that we did.

From the upper Fleming parking lot, we opted for Redneck Rising and then over MET for a descent of the right lip. Said descent gave those gravity minded folks a chance to shine, with Xteric leading the charge. We hooted and hollered all the way down to the lake and a regroup. From there, we pursued a traditional lake loop and then a season-opening swim. Despite children and the elderly present, THTH threatened to don his birthday suit for the plunge. The more modest members kept themselves attired and we all enjoyed a refreshing dunk. All except Xteric, who initially refused to join us. After being reminded of his handle, and the fact he had an Xterra event (which ironically includes a swim) looming, he reluctantly jumped in. Like a fish in water, he began swimming for the far shore. We had to reel him back to shore so we could head for tacos.

Our dear ride leader emeritus joined us for the post-ride nosh, and regaled us with tales of Jackson's birthday party/challenge/sleepover. Zip lines, bbq, Star Wars? We all agreed we'd like an invite for next year. As for tacos, round 1 was divine. The shells were exquisite, the meat savory, but not greasy, and the lettuce and onion plentiful. The sauce selections were the best I've seen in some time. We had new bottles of Vidalia and Red Rooster, and a myriad of old favorites. Cappy went with some old-school combinations, and they did not disappoint. With a buddha-like face, X remarked, " I love tacos, they're delicious". Truer words had not been spoken that night. And then round 2 came, and the serene nature was disrupted. These now swam in fat, and had lost their abundance. Mind you, we are the men (and women) of FT3, so no tacos were left on the table. However, we are also connoisseurs of this most elusive food, and as such have more refined tastes. That said, ice creams followed and joy returned.

All in all, it was neither a short nor a long ride. The weather was neither too hot nor too cold. It was an SS-friendly ride, and as Goldilocks so aptly stated, "it was just right".

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It was raining last week.

First off, I would like to welcome London Claire Romney to FT3 Gen 2. After the long and arduous labor mom put in, I think little London is ripe for endurance sports right from the womb. Congratulations to the whole Ghost Rider family.

Secondly, or singly, it is SSFT3 today and it promises to be a great one. With rain last week (did that really happen?) the trails should be primed for S/S ripping. Maybe Bambi will make a guest appearance.

Not sure what riding took place over the weekend, aside from the Leesville Gap Road Race and the riding of rapids that NoHandle and I did. I think NoCar was out worshipping our lady of the skinny tire? Oh, speaking of Leesville, I suppose now is a good time to throw out a race report.

Leesville Gap Road race was something I chose to do based on a recommendation by our acclaimed resident roadie, Rock God with additional pressure and recommendation from Green Fro and Ghost. Rock indicated that this race is one I would enjoy given its rough roads, long climb and my affinity for cross. It is true. What a great race. It should be an FT3 requirement. B nailed it - I gave him a description of the race course and he said "Oh... so its a hard man's race." No truer words have been spoken. FT3 FYI, road racing is very different from MTB or cross. Total game of attrition, especially at this 60 mile distance. Yeah, tactics, smart riding... yeah right! I could hear NoHandle's words as we rode from the start line out about ten miles toward the rough roads and climb, 'they will ride slow, you will get frustrated and go to the front.' So me and one other guy took turns taking pulls until we got to the rough roads where I began to really push the pace. Now you guys have seen rough roads but these roads are, in the words of another local racer, "totally whacked." It is like a continuous series of potholes, filled and unfilled, for miles. Roughest roads I've ever ridden a road bike on, hands down. Totally jarring. The climb was gradual at first and that took its toll on the majority of the group. There were three of us in a tight group up and over the climb and one straggler hanging on behind about 200 yeards. I knew that I needed these guys for the trip home on the flats, so I did not attack on the downhill in spite of my desires to. Once back on the flats, and after riding a bunch more rough and dirt roads, the straggler I mentioned caught up to us! Nice work. One of the four guys in our group was in the 45+ age group, so a top three finish was looking promising. The four of us worked together for a while then the road turned upward again. I started to unravel a bit and had to let two of the guys go. The 'straggler' and I stayed back and suffered together to the water stop, which was around the 45 mile mark. After the water stop was a long and much needed decent, which was the first real rest of the whole race. Me and the straggler worked together well off the decent and into the 15 mile flat strech home. A quick word about flats. As you know we don't ride them. They require an excessive number of pedal rotations, something we are not used to up here in the hills. They also get deep inside your head and torture you. That being said, at some point the straggler and I cane around a couple turns, about 7 miles from the finish and the elastic broke. I became the straggler. I was well into survival mode by now and managed to finish on my own without being passed, taking third in my category. I kept a strong pace, but man was I suffering. I emptied the tank, 100%. Had a cramp during the last 200 meters and needed to sit down immediatly after arriving back at the start area, which... by the way was like 2-3 miles from the finish line! Green Fro was there all dressed and enjoying watermelon, he started like 10-15 minutes ahead of me. He had a great race, finishing 8th in Cat. 4, and looking pretty fresh having done that. Nice work Green Fro! FT3 needs to consider this as an event for next year, it should be a requirement for us as non-road racers. Hairy legs are welcome.

Happy SSFT3!