Friday, April 28, 2006


I skipped beers at the shop this Friday opting to get home before the sun dipped to replace my car's rear brakes. I was certain that Jeff and I would be doing an emergency brake job on the side of the highway driving back from cohutta last Sunday. Lets just say we had to think ahead (way ahead) while exiting the highway because the brakes were non-existent. Well, problem solved.
My neighbor Harvey (an obsessed road biker ((the best kind)) for the past couple decades) has invited me on a group ride with a local road club early tomorrow morning. Harvey is a great guy, asked to see my road bike because he knows from last ride that I have it set-up all wrong, my defense.."I'm a mountain biker! What do I know about road bikes?" The bars are rolled down too far and the brake hoods are in the wrong position and the saddle is all wrong. Harvey disappeared across the street for a few minutes and reappeared with a shopping bag full of road goodies for my borrowed Buenos Aires. Thanks Justin, but we made some more changes.
The road ride tomorrow will be excellent but I am JACKED for the epic mountain bike ride Jeff and I have planned for Sunday. I drove the Igleheart frame to the powder-coater today so I'm left with the VT for the double Kahuna we've got planned. I have ridden a hardtail (cannondale and Igleheart) so often for the past few months, it's a change of pace to go back to a 6 inch travel dual squishy. Time to jump off shit!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Long race, long race report...

Good times in Duckville Tennessee this weekend. Cohutta was a rip!
This was the kick off to a good year and the reason for training all winter...that and I like to ride in 20 degree weather! The bad part...we had to drive 1100 miles to get our ride on. Jeff and I left Thursday at high noon, hit four or five gas stations and a Shoney's along the way.

Reached Ocoee Whitewater center Friday around 5:00pm to check-in for the race and prepare our drop-bags for the next day. Drop bags were a great idea - riders got three of them and could leave them at any of the six pit-stops along the course. Pit-stops (or sag's) were every 15 miles, loaded with water and heed and the usual gummy bears and m+m's but the drop-bag idea gave competitors the chance to not only place a fuel of choice in the one gallon bag - but also place that bag at the sag of their choice...Brilliant! I chose to fill each of my bags with Perpetuem, bagel, banana, hammer gels and Ibuprophan and placed them at sag 45, 60 and 75.

With the important task of checking-in completed, we hit up some of the trails near Ocoee to shake out our well rested legs. Trails were in great shape - perfect single tracks winding around 4000 ft. peaks, great flow, banked turns, no grunting climbs...this was going to be a FAST race!
Shake-down ride complete, it was time to settle in for the night and eat our weight in Chicken parm. Thanks again to Harvey for the lavish accommodations. I'm accustom to a camp tent and sleeping bag on the night before a race...maybe that was the secret to success at cohutta.

Race began at 7am. A short 2 mile climb up the paved road from Ocoee and we turned in to the woods for 90 minutes of roller-coaster single track. On the trail for just a few minutes I realized my handlebar was loose..Jeff was kind enough to hand off his multi tool out of his jersey pocket. I stopped to tighten the pinch bolt and scrambled to catch up...perfect timing because the main group (including Jeff) turned the wrong way on a road due to confusing cones on the trail..when I was catching up to the group they were coming right at me. I just stood there and handed off the multi tool back to Jeff..I was relieved that I hadn't affected his ride because of my stupidity.

We came out of the single track on a stretch of rolling gravel that we would spend the next six hours. The weather turned ugly and it started to pour. Riding along with three other dudes at this point. We all seemed to be pushing at the same intensity so we teamed up and formed a paceline and attempted to catch the lead group that was just out of sight. The four of us stayed tight for half an hour to widen a big gap from the racers behind us but never saw the lead group. Two of the guys decided to peel off from our group and were dropped. It was just me and a guy named Alex from Michigan. We cranked side by side up and down the gravel road, but nature soon called (in a big way) and I had to stop for a pee break...if only I could master peeing on the bike! That is the true sign of a seasoned racer! Alright, enough about peeing, I was now alone pushing to find Alex or wait till HE had to pee, but he never did. Maybe he's a seasoned racer?

Came upon pit 3 at mile 45, the rain has stopped but now riding in thick fog. Chatted with Namrita who was volunteering at sag 3 while I stuffed my face full of banana. She told me the lead group (including Jeff and Hendershot) were 10 minutes ahead. I really didn't think it was possible, or a good idea to catch them and try to hang at their pace because I would surely blow-up. Headed out of sag 3 feeling good.

Looking through the fog a while later saw another human on the trail..shit, it was Jeff having technical problems with his ride. Broken chain. He had been riding such a fine race that I felt for that brother. Stopped and busted out the park chain tool and paid Jeff back for helping me with my loose bars earlier. We headed out after the repair, nice to be riding with my compadre' Jeff but odd because it had never happened in a race before. Not that we were now racing each other...just riding together fast! Jeff was clearly pissed about having the chain trouble and losing time...we rode together for what seemed like twenty minutes and Jeff made an effort to bridge to the lead group. Before he made his sprint I wished him good luck.

Alone again, sun now coming out, unzipped my jersey and let my pasty white chest show to the passing trucks on the Cherokee wilderness road. Truck and camper traffic on these roads made the fast gravel descents interesting. Played leap frog with a family in an old F150 pulling a pop-up trailer. They'd pass me on a climb and then I would pass on the decent, then be stuck breathing their fumes on the next climb. Went on for a few miles, I don't know if they knew there was a race in progress - think they just thought I was some kind of freak racing them on my bike.

The guys at pit four may have saved my race. The guy had a can of aerosol lube and without me saying anything grabbed my bike and lubed my drivetrain. Sweet! The other two (who were each about 12 and 14 years old) filled my bottle and handed over my drop-bag. I ate the advil and banana but nothing else. The perpeteum I'd been sucking on the last 60 miles was working it's magic.

Full sunshine now, hammering the climbs and descents. Looking down at my bare - steel frame covered in surface rust from the a.m. showers. I just laughed and tried to pick a color in my mind to powder coat her when I got back...I'm thinking lollipop blue.

Then I caught a glimpse of Jeff up ahead. It had been a while since He'd made his attempt at the lead group. Things didn't go as planned and Jeff was in the pain cave. Never good to see a close friend in the cave but Jeffrey is a tough dude and found a way to work through his bonk.

The end of the race I paid a visit to the cave. The last 12 miles was on the rolling single track that we'd begun the race 8 hours earlier. I knew this was it and didn't want to be passed in the final few miles by someone sneaking up from way back. Gulped down some calories and mashed the pedals till it was all over. Ended up in 7th place overall at around 8h 24m. Jeff recovered nicely in 8th place 6 minutes behind me.

The top ten skinny white men

Thursday, April 20, 2006


T minus six hours till lift off. The last 36 hours have been a mad the bike, ride bike, make changes, tweek, change, ride, tweek. Think I've finally got the new steel rig set. She's a beauty! Loads of detail. Can't really tell... till she gets paint! Hope it doesn't rain too hard down in Georgia!
The new bike rocks! Just not familiar with it's riding characteristics yet..nothin a ten hour race can't cure! Loads of detail on the the new Igleheart frame; Silver-soldered polished stainless seat binder (say that 10 times fast), Love the stainless eye on the head badge! Nice burley gussets at the head tube and BB.
Soo much to do and soo little time..gotta pack, go shopping for food, get an oil change, go to the shop for last minute Jeff at noon...I'm screwed!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

vacation = lots of hours

Vacation is over. :( Weather was gorgeous all week. Got an enormous amount of quality saddle time..Biggest week all year. Shot out on the road early yesterday to meet up with Barry. We spun around Ipswich neck and along the coast for twenty miles. Barry had some family commitments for the afternoon so I was solo up to Newburyport.
Somewhere around thirty miles into the ride I met up with another biker heading to Andover..we chatted it up for twenty minutes while rolling down some back road in West Newbury. I didn't ask the rider's name, told me he's a bike commuter that lived in Andover and commuted to Boston regularly. nice long commute! 35 miles each way!
First time I'd engaged a stranger in conversation on the road. Very cool to be rolling down a country road, glide up to a complete stranger and talk bikes. I know, could go all wrong with the freak factor..but if things did go wrong just sprint out'a there, right?
In all a great road bike Saturday, covered ground all over the north shore...think I rode through every town infact. 4 hours on the ride for ?? miles. Been in the habit this week of leaving all electronic gadgets at home, no gps, mp3, hrm, nothin but a watch.

The new steel rig is not quite done yet. Stopped by Iglehearts shop Saturday to check progress, He received the seat stays and was going to cut and weld them on the frame Sunday, bike will be done Monday! Paint however...will not. Who needs paint anyway?

Rebuilt the Fox F100x last evening.. Extremely easy rebuild. Required alot of different tools and a few specialty fox lubes (fully synthetic 80w oil? who owns this...thanks Mark from the shop! you saved my ride) but Enduro puts out a .PDF illustrated instruction manual that's easy to follow. I guess high performance = high maintenance.

Rode the hardtail early this morning on the freshly rebuilt fork...Was the ballz! No oil leaks..not even a drop!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Here's the buzz

Vacation week has been extremely relaxing. I have left the computer alone for the most part. Hell, I even shut off my phone - Now if that isn't relaxing I don't know what is!
Gotten a bunch done on the house. Had to finish scraping and sanding the final side of our ranch and paint her up. I have found that it's a great time of year to paint the house, not too hot and the wasps and bees aren't buzzing around quite yet. Although there are a few bees buzzing around. I have determined that I am afraid of stinging insect's, particularly when trapped high on a ladder. Got my "adrenaline fix" yesterday...When hammering on the skirt boards of my roof yesterday I paused because of strange noises. Sounded like an airplane taking off, no, more like hundreds of carpenter bees trapped in my attic franticly boring their way to the sound of my hammer! Every tap enraged the bees trapped behind the wall. Hurriedly I repaired the skirt board before the bees could find daylight. Too late..One big fat sucker squeezed his fat butt through the trim and clap boards.."ugly mother!" I shouted and I flew down the ladder. Got to find a way to kill those carpenter bees before they eat a hole in our house.
Today would have been the day to brush on the final coat but looks like rain this morning. Can't complain about that- weather has been outstanding.

Had a good mix of trail, xc and road riding this week. Hit the road for a few hours yesterday and ripped a loop through Manchester, Around Cape Ann and back through Ipswich. Beauty of an afternoon! I was looking to go out at the hottest point of the day to acclimate my self to warm weather..Didn't quite work though - the sea breeze off the ocean kept temps in the mid 50"s.

Going to visit Christopher today and see what progress he has made on my new steel rig. It's a 50/50 that I'll be riding her down south next week. Christopher had some problems with bending the seat stays so he ordered pre-bent stays...if he can't get'er done (love saying that) by Monday and off to the powder coater I may be building her on Wednesday night. Talk about cutting it close!
Anyone know about plant species? 6 feet tall with leather thick leaves.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

too muddy for the trails

Woke early to rain and gray skies. Trails are a mess from the past few days of rain so the road bike made the most sense today. Lesli had a few appointments set-up for late morning and early afternoon so that gave me about 4 hours to link up some roads through Boxford and points north west. Made the mistake of heading through Haverhill again..when will I learn? Roads are shit and that city is just too busy for continuous spinning. When I left home at 10:30 a.m. my plan was to ride to Haverhill, cross the Merrimac river and head up to Plastow NH and then over to Aimsbury. That would have put the ride in the neighborhood of around 80 miles. Don't know why I didn't cross the Mighty Merrimac? Just wasn't having a good time in Haverhill and kinda freaked out..was thinking too much about the weather, if it was going to rain or not...just pussed out.
I did how ever have a good ride. Turned out to be 2.5 hours, 49.8 miles....Should have gone to Plastow. Next time I guess. I blame it on the weather.
Dropped my GPS in the middle of the street 17 miles into the ride. I quickly turned around and darted for it, lady in a mini van almost squwashed it. I had been keeping the GPS in my jersey pocket, taking it out at intersections for reference, basically a pain in the butt. I had just enough duct tape to rip into two long 1/8th inch wide strips and lash to my stem. Worked out much better to look at the screen while riding, making decisions before I hit the intersections...what a concept...planning BEFORE I need to react! JB and his blog gave me the idea of mounting it on my bars but didn't actually do it till I needed to. I just never learn, - won't change till I am forced too. I'll look into that Garmin bar mount instead of relying on the duct tape...Although it did work great in a pinch but would be pretty cheesy if I were to do it every time.
I am on Vacation for a week after tomorrow. Need to work around the house and paint the final side of our house. The neighbors have been hinting about our multi-colored crib since last October. But as for Tomorrow, grabbed an overtime shift at work but wished I hadn't. Saw my neighbor (Harvey) who is a die-hard roadie. He invited me on a ccb ride out of Topsfield tomorrow morning. Bummer - would have been great to ride with a large group and learn their routes. Oh well, gatto pay for my new ride some how!
Man, I am talkative tonight..just got lots to say I guess. One last thing. I need to talk to Brad about a road ride I'm planning for Wed and Thurs of my vacation week. I am spinning your way for a two day, 200 mile road loop. Save me a bed Wednesday night, I'll bring the beer.

Friday, April 07, 2006


It's good to see Daren is using his new computer and battling it out with I know you can solve this p/w problem, question is do I want you commenting on everything I do and say? Yes, It'll be fun. The computer seems to be winning at this point but I know you'll prevail brother! Blogging is right up your alley - you have a lot of good ideas and strong opinions.

Had some caffeine with Christopher at his shop bright and early this morning. He got a bunch more done on my ride yesterday. The BB junction looks phenomenal!
This bike rocks! I didn't think I'd ever get so excited about a hardtail. I had given up on hardtails back 6 years ago when I sold my beloved I.F. for a Santa Cruz bullet. (Ahh, the quality of a 1 mega pixel camera from the year 1999).
rear stays were shortened from 16.75 inches down to around 16.625 inches. Man I wish every one used the metric system then I could just say they were shortened to 42.2 cm..I guess equally confusing. Anyway, the front end will be easy to pick up and wheelie off rocks.

Love these drop-outs now that Christopher has welded and blended them with the chainstays. Next up...Seat stays!

Christopher still has some work ahead on this build, but almost in the home stretch! When I left he was bending the seatstays and fitting them to the backend of the frame.

I know what my wife lesli is's just a bike?

Anyway, My friends Mark and Julie are equally excited (if not more, duh?) about the birth of their first child coming early next week. Just shot an email out to Dirks down in Tennessee to see how Jules is doing and the due date is Monday. Good luck and we'll be thinking of you.

Also thinking about Mr Whittingham as he'll undoubtedly kick ass at the sea otter classic on the west coast. That dude has spent almost as much time on a plane this week as on the saddle. Good luck to you Jeff and bring home gold! Or golden legs for the cohutta in two weeks.

Almost beer time.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Birth of a frame

Mr. Christopher Igleheart called this morning with some good news.

Tubes are in and cut! I couldn't wait to get my oily finger prints all over them!

Picked out some burley drop-outs and stout chain stays (mmm...Stout)

Christopher drilling holes in my down tube for water bottle bolts

This is Christopher marking where the bottle holes are located. Real scientific measurements. He mocked up the front triangle, took a quick look - and then put two marks. He said the bottle holes on the seat tube were more critical due to the front deraileur clamp but the location for holes on the down tube was more flexible.

Front triangle is look'in sweet. Tubes fit together nice and tight! A little more cutting for the BB, bend up the seat stays and then time for Christopher to do his thing and weld some perfect beads. After spending an hour at Igleheart's shop (drooling over my new ride) it was time to get out of his way and let the man get back to work.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dog blog

Loving the F100x! Went back out this afternoon for the third ride on that magical component. The inertia valve is freekin incredible, great for out of the saddle climbing. Like an auto lock-out! Enduro seals on order to remedy the slight oil seepage and hopefully make the fork bullet proof for a season's worth of riding. Four inches of travel combined with the instant lock-out inertia valve is going to be a valuable weapon for epic rides this year.

Yesterday I went out for a solo Kahuna on the H/T and made it to G-spot before the rocky terrain and constant beating turned me to the road for a ten mile spin home. Was a great three hour trail ride till my my knee took a shot I won't soon forget. Smacked it into the stem like NEVER before. Good for me there were no fellow riders near as I shouted a few choice words and watched my knee turn purple. I showed it to my wife when I returned and she thought I should go to the hospital. Instead I iced the piss out of it and this morning it was feeling much better. Thought for sure I'd chipped my knee cap but don't feel anything floating around in there. Got me thinking about the ball frog I had on my Gary Fisher Excalliber back in 1997...What did I do with that thing?
What we need is a yellow lab to round this crew out. What am I saying? three is enough! Bronte is quite happy here on the ranch. She has fallen into her routine, or maybe we have adjusted to hers. Les and I are dog-sitting while Jeff and Jen are down in sun country.
Bronte is the only dog I have ever known that can tell's like she can read the clock! At exactly 5:06 am she wakes Lesli and I up for her morning feed..maybe we'll luck out tomorrow morning and she'll be fooled again by the day light saving time change.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


It occurred to me recently that I have some damn fine friends and owe a few of them thanks for favors they have done for me.
In no order, big props go out to Justin for lending me his Lemond Buenos Aires. I know I have thanked him numerous times, thanks again. The road bike has added to the bike training and has reminded me that road biking is enjoyable..Not as fun as trail riding but close.
Next up is Daren..that dude did me a huge solid today by driving down from NH with my new fork! The head shock went up in smoke a couple few days ago and the opportunity came up to buy his fox F100x. You rock! Can't wait to do some riding with you brother.
Thank you Jamie. I always seem to bust into the shop at the worst times with crazy bike problems. At noon today I monopolized half your shop, taking control of a work stand and many tools attempting to cobble together yet another strange bike fix. Without your help today I wouldn't be riding tomorrow.
Last up, Thanks to the creators of MXC on Spike tv. Just watched an episode in which contestants had to run up hill in a fenced in "hallway" (for lack of a better term) while huge Indiana Jones style boulders rolled down on them. - Thats some good TV.

Accidental Epic

Yesterday morning was too good not to ride. Geared up at 6:00am for what I thought was going to be an hour and a half road ride through Boxford but I just kept going. Temps at the start were brisk but comfortable in long sleeves. Had a plan to start the ride through Topsfield and head over to an old riding spot (Bald hill res.) that I hadn't ridden in years. Found a SWEET short-cut off Pekin's row that sent me right into Topsfield and hit some hills on Prospect street.
Now passed Bald hill my plan was to take a right and loop back through IPS but these back country roads just wanted to be ridden! Had the MP3 flowing, sun was warming the air every passing minute, the views of vast farmer's fields and rolling hills. I just kept peddling..Hammering accually. All the while on Middle rd in west Boxford through Groveland and into West Newbury I was passed by no more than 20 cars. Looped it back on 1A, the sea breeze was great around the Parker River. Looking at my watch at that point thinking I was way late for work! Put the hammer down and was in the pain cave for an hour averaging in the low 20's with little headwind.
My only mistake this day was not packing food of any kind and only two bottles of water. Lesson learned; never know when an epic could strike! Worked out ok, I rationed my water and the sirloin steak and FF that I'd eaten for dinner the night before got me through.
48 miles. 19.4 average 2H 30M