Cirrem is like the finest microbrew. Not mass produced, doesn’t appeal to everyone but to those that love it’s flavor, it’s dope! Here are my race highlights from 2014.

1. Getting in. I screwed around and it filled before I registered. Fortunately they have a waiting list and I rose to the top of it.

2. My new ride. I took my Salsa Mamasita and converted her to a light and lithe gravel monster.

3. A speeding ticket. Less than and hour into my 10 hour trip home!!! More on that later.

4. Breakfast burritos. I believe every mountain bike race should include pre-race breakfast burritos, Cirrem, you’ve set the bar.

5. Old friends. I got to catch up with the Fritzenator before the race and on the way back to the car to prep my bike, heard someone cry “Beernuts!” Only DePenning calls me that.

6. Crazy people. Lots of them at this race but I’m thinking of the kid with the totally tricked out Surly Ogre that had used it for off-road touring in Alaska. I bet his bike started out around 40 lbs. ice and frozen mud would have pushed it to over 50 by the end.

7. Fat bikes. Lots of them this year. Sorry, I don’t get it, it’s a race. Why start on something that’s heavy and slow. Might as well ride on flat tires.

8. Missing the start. About 1 minute before the start I realized I had forgotten my race number in the car. After a mad dash to the car and sticking myself twice with the pins, I rolled out only a few seconds behind the pack.

About the time I freaked because I forgot my number.

About the time I freaked because I forgot my number.

9. The first 15 miles. They were dry.

Pace lines work when the road's dry!

Pace lines work when the road’s dry!

10. The cookies at the top of half way hill. I almost turned around and went back for seconds. I passed on the PBR’s.

11. Broken spoke about mile 40. A chunk of frozen mud must have fallen off and taken it out. I heard a metallic snap and hoped it wasn’t my frame. The sexy curve in my rear rim told me it was a spoke.

12. The steady loss of gears. At mile 30 I had maybe 4 or 5 I could use. I was down to a single speed by mile 45.

13. Always racing. After riding totally by myself for miles I heard voices behind me with 5 miles to go. I glanced back and saw two riders closing in. I could have let them catch me and chatted with them while we road in together. We were all just in survival mode anyway at that point. Instead I put the hammer down and dropped them again on the last hills. I also passed a guy 1/4 mile from the finish. In fairness, I did tell him, ” come on, let’s finish this mother!” And tried to get him to pick up his pace a little and ride with me but he was toast.

Typical section.

Typical section.

14. Finishing!

15. Post race. Tacos and beer for racers, need I say more? Korean chicken and wasabi brisket from Tacopocolypse were my flavors of choice. Caught up with Squirrel (creator of the race awards), DePenning and the race organizers, Kent and Jed.

16. Inspiration.Chuck, aka the Fritzinator, broke his derailleur with 13 miles to go (I saw two other broken rear d’s and two broken chains). He decided to walk the rest of the race pushing his mud encrusted bike with him. He said he did not want a DNF.

17. Bike maintenance included two washings, once at a car wash to get the concrete like frozen mud off the bike and once by hand at home to finish it up.

This was all frozen as hard as a rock.

This was all frozen as hard as a rock.

Look at this thing, why was it still going!? I replaced the broken spoke and put on a new chain. Surprisingly it still shifts. Headset needed to taken apart and cleaned out, too.

18. I checked out the spot where I got my speeding ticket on the way home. The two signs giving you a heads up about the reduced speed were both blown parallel to the highway by the wind. You couldn’t see them at all, especially in the dark. I took pictures and I will be vindicated! See you in court sucker.

Cirrem 2014…another memorable batch!

When you bust out on a 60+ miles ride through the hinterlands in February one thing you know for sure is something’s going to happen you’re not expecting. I think that’s why I love it. Last Saturday’s Cinnamon Roller from the Winter Ralleye (yes, that’s how they spell it) Ride Series held true to form and threw a couple of curves at me but the one that I absolutely didn’t see coming was NO CINNAMON ROLLS! C’mon, that was supposed to be the high point of the turn around, a hot buttery drippy cinnamon roll and some good coffee. It was on the poster, “warm food, hot drinks and cinnamon rolls.”

Rolling out from Bean Cycle

Rolling out from Bean Cycle

I really not that big a fan of cinnamon rolls in general but by the time we stopped at the Forks, supposed purveyors of aforementioned rolls, we’d experienced a 20 degree temperature drop with nasty headwinds, a detour requested by a scary group of men dressed in black fatigues and holding assault rifles and I’d broken my chain (again) which had me riding in the DFL position.

This is what the route looks like when you are DFL

This is what the route looks like when you are DFL

As I was grinding up a hill, into the wind, not feeling my feet anymore, all by myself and wondering if I would be able to find the group again, I started thinking about that cinnamon roll. Oh yea, I can do this because that hot sugary goodness is waiting for me. I made it to the Forks, which is a roadhouse at you guessed it, a fork. Bikes were scattered everywhere and I added mine to the pile. Inside was warmth, a convenience store, a bar, and a little restaurant with sub sandwiches and soup but not cinnamon rolls. I figured that riding DFL meant they’d run out before I got there so I started asking about them wondering if they’d been good. I got the same answer from everyone…there weren’t any and there never had been!

Leaving the Forks, the non-cinnamon roll capital of the front range

Leaving the Forks, the non-cinnamon roll capital of the front range

I almost settled for a microwaved Honey Bun. I know a guy that lived on them when he thru hiked the AT and I don’t think they caused permanent damage. But dammit, a Honey Bun is not a cinnamon roll and I didn’t do it. The next ride in the series is called Deadman’s Long Haul. I’m hoping the pattern holds and there are no dead men on that one, too.

I’ve been looking forward to today. Group ride, unknown route, untried bike set up, unknown companions, wonky weather. I know we’ll ride some gravel, I know there’s a place to buy cinnamon rolls (the ride’s name is the Cinnamon Roller). I know the roads will be sloppy and I know it’s going to be windy.
I must be nervous because I’ve been fussing with the bike for an hour. Light or no lights, tweak handlebar placement, which pedals, add some air, should I wipe down the rims, change bar plugs. All useless at this point.
I want to be riding but I’m not…yet. Another moment will arrive later today when I will want to stop riding…but can’t.

I’ve been working on my single speed. Seems like I’m always working on a bike. I’ve decided I like fiddling with them as much as I like riding them. My latest fiddle involved new brakes, lower gearing and cross tires. I want to use this bike at Cirrem later this month so need it set up for fairly hilly gravel roads.

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This picture was taken on my shake down cruise. I was exploring the gravel roads east of town enjoying a gorgeous front range day and view. The bike was working great, all was well until it wasn’t. This is a converted 80’s road bike with horizontal dropouts so it’s got limited chain adjustment. Turns out the gearing that was perfect for me wasn’t perfect for the bike. With the axle pulled all the way to the back of the dropouts, the chain was still too loose. The bumps on the gravel road exposed this flaw and the chain kept getting a little hung up.

I was in limp back home and fix mode when I hit another bump and felt the chain catch again only this time, when I started pedaling again, the crank just spun freely. I looked behind me and saw the chain laying on the road, crapper dapper! One of the chain side plates had snapped and the halves were still riveted to my open chain. I had a spare master link but I did not have a chain tool to remove the broken pieces so I was SOL.

I arranged an extraction from my wife but it would be awhile before she could get me. I was about 10 miles from home so I started walking. After awhile I discovered I could make a lot better time if I got on the bike and “scootered” it along. I ended up scootering/walking about 6 miles before I met up with the rescue vehicle.

Lesson learned, use chamois butter to minimize discomfort of prolonged scootering.

 

The alarm jolted me awake at 5:30 AM last Saturday. No, I did not accidentally set it, it was intentional and I was excited to hear it because it meant adventure. Adventure with a small “a” not a cap “A”. I’d prepped the Fargo the night before so she was waiting patiently for me in the garage, leaning  casually against the work bench with a come mount me baby look in her head light. I obliged.

I rolled out about 6:30 after coffee, filling a Camelbak and grabbing some saddle snacks. First stop, Consuelo’s for a breakfast burrito. They have about 6 different breakfast burrito varieties and a drive through, beautiful. This morning was chorizo, egg and potato. I wobbled off juggling the burrito in my lobster claws and unwrapping it’s foil with my teeth. 15 minutes later, with sauce on my face and gloves I hit the trail that heads towards the foothills and got serious. I’d ridden by a bank that said the temp was 24° and was pretty toasty except for my fingers, I’m still looking for that magic.

I had two goals, ride towards the hills and cover as many new roads as I could. I turned off on some gravel I hadn’t ridden before as soon as I could and wandered. You’ve probably done this many times yourself, if not, you’re missing out. Sometimes you loose and end up on ugly roads with mean dogs but most of the time you find some cool new stuff and learn the hidden byways that let you put together some great routes when you need to have a plan.

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Saturday’s ride was somewhere in between the mean dog and route to heaven extremes. I didn’t come across anything I would call amazing. I must be getting used to the mountains here already! A year ago I would have said IMG_1173just riding somewhere I could see mountains during the ride would have qualified as amazing. I connected some dots on the map, figured out new ways to get from A to B and saw a sunrise from the saddle.

I also came home with a couple of good ideas for projects I’m working on. I’ll always remember a design teacher I had in college, Mr. Ragouzeos, and the advice he gave our class. He told tell us if we got stuck on something, go out, wander and observe and we’d find an answer. He was right. Here’s to wandering with no purpose. Car’s don’t count, you have to be out in it and you need to go solo. Turn down the chat track that’s always running in your head and just observe.

Oh, Christmas has come and gone but the joy that a new bike brings is only beginning! Did Santa miraculously stuff a bike down your chimney this year?! If he did, then you were a good and lucky kiddy for sure.

No new bike for me this year, (don’t feel sorry for me, I bought myself one in October to avoid the rush) but I did reflect on Christmas bikes past and there’s one that stands out for me. It was beautiful and amazing and cool and I loved it very much. Image

A purple Sears Spyder muscle bike with banana seat and top tube gear shift! I must have been 11 or 12 when Santa dropped this motherlode on me. I lived in the country on a gravel road and would tear up and down our road and around the yard on my purple machine. I vaguely remember a bad crash when the boards I’d stacked up to make a jump shifted and toppled under my thunderous take off.

In those days a bike like this and a little imagination could take you anywhere. I’m glad some things never change.

How do you feel about knickers? Ridiculous or fabulously hip? Don’t answer, I don’t care. I like them and think they work great for running, biking, cross-country skiing and wading but they are a little polarizing. The worst think about them, they’re expensive, especially for technical ones. A quick search confirms a new wool pair will cost you a Benjamin plus which has kept me from pulling the trigger.

Wool is the most amazing technical fabric out there, period and it has been forever. Check this out! chilpruffWool not only keeps you warm but makes you want to kick off your slip slips and rock some sweet upward facing dogs when it’s 20 below. You just don’t see guys wearing the latest wicking, breathable, super duper, techo wonder from Pearl Izumi knocking those out. Do you?

I was trolling a local thrift shop last week searching through the worn out dockers when I found a gem. Banana Republic stretch wool pants, in my size. I snatched them off the rack faster than a Black Friday shopper grabbing a Furby. Price $6.50. Yes, that’s premium scratch for thrift shop goods but I paid it happily and headed home with my prize. I was going to have them professionally hemmed at the little alterations shop in my neighborhood but then I thought whoa, why triple the price of my find just to get stitches that go in a straight line so these are DIY hand sewn hems by yours truly. P1010015P1010014

I’ve been wearing my new knickers all about the house but I haven’t tested them on the bike yet. The crack seam might not feel the best but I can buy a lot of chamois butter with my savings. They’ll get a good test this week on Winter Bike to Work Day this week. Technically, I don’t ride to work because I work at home but there’s free breakfast for bikers all over town. I may see how many I can eat and still fit in my new woolies!