Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Daze

Its winter in Colorado.  Damn its col… O sweet it’s Spring in Colorado.  Ahhh, soak in that warm sunsh… shit, its winter in Colorado again. 

Today I departed for what was supposed to be a big ride in the mountains.  It only took about 20 minutes to realize that today wasn’t my day.  It felt like I had jet lag.  I’m actually not sure at all what jet lag feels like, but if it feels anything like the wind-down after 10 days of working my ass off, riding my ass off, and then partying my ass off, then I had it.  And I don’t have much ass to lose.  Not to mention that my body was still recovering from the 4 ½ hours spent on my new 31 lb full-suspension the day before.  It was a shred-fest.  More on that later.  So after a few short miles this morning I turned it around; something I rarely, if ever, do.  I’ve spent countless rides in the doldrums, only the dregs of energy left in my body, pushing on and through, coming out the other side usually feeling worse.  It’s not a pretty sight, and today I decided against it.  Good thing I did!  A few hours after returning home, at which point I would’ve been somewhere high in the mountains, a white cloud engulfed the hills in front of me and proceeded to dump snow.  Never have I been so happy with my decision to give up and be lazy.  Cheers to being a quitter.
Not my pic, but much like I saw this afternoon.

Speaking of quitting, shouldn’t Lance just give up?  Jesus man, everyone knows what you did, doesn’t care anymore and you still can’t tell the truth?  That “confession” bullshit was so lame.  Oh, you’re being SO sincere Lance.  But only sincere enough to hopefully get your ass out of trouble.  You can just keep lying about everything else that doesn’t matter and hopefully no one will notice.  And hopefully not many people did.  I did completely waste a couple hours of my life watching the first Doprah episode, and still haven’t seen the second.  It was pathetic, that’s it. Rant over.

Back to cool shit.  I actually used my day in a semi-productive, semi-expensive, semi-exploratory manner.  Sorry, I’m kind of sort of a little bit non-committal sometimes.  Anyways, with a new build on the cusp of becoming a reality, I needed to make some moves.  Luckily, it’s a singlespeed, so not many “moves” need to be made.  I have already secured bars, stem, post, fork(YOU!), wheels, brakes, etc.  How am I supposed to make all of this stuff go around? Right, cranks.  A few minutes of perusing the interwebs (which usually catches me like a fly wherein the giant spider comes in to suck my brain dry) were all it took to find my match.  SRAM’s new XX1 crankset.  Still comes in a “normal” bottom bracket configuration, lightweight, and the hottest shit going!  Boom! Ordered. Done.  Then I packaged up and sent my fancy crabon fibre Lefty off to Mendon Cyclesmith for some much needed maintenance.  Maybe a much-needed overhaul.  We’ll see.   Next up I get an email from some guy at some shop telling me that some color choice for my new frame was only some number of weeks out.  Good to know that I don’t have to succumb to the Henry Ford marketing model from the 30’s.  “You can have any color as long as it’s black” is not a good marketing option for modern-day bike companies.

So it’s snowing right now.  Yesterday was a bit different.  I was slightly (tremendously) hung over, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy shorts and t-shirt sunny weather coupled with dry trails and a new shred-worthy steed ready to rock and roll.  I made my way to the nearby Heil Ranch trail, which at its best is a rocky trail, at its worst a complete clusterfuck rock garden.  I ride this trail about once a month, and the succession usually goes like this:  
 O sweet, rocks, obstacles, challenges... damn I’m feeling good, this is hard but fun, really making me work... okay a little bit is fun, but can I just get to some flowing singletrack... no! More rocks! Your hands hurt? More rocks!  Oh your back hurts? More rocks! Wanna go uphill, downhill, sideways, in/out? More rocks! Screw this; I’m not coming back for a month.   
In fairness, the builders have done their best at creating a sweet trail system out of a boulder field, and I’ve been riding it on a hardtail.  On this day my experience was different.  It was my first time on a full-suspension in over 6 months, and one with more travel than any bike I’ve owned.  As I made the initial climb the feeling I had forgotten quickly came back.  Just sit back, grind, and let the front/rear do their work.  No need for carefully executed line choices.  Just plow right into, through, and over those pesky little trail obstructions.  And when the trail goes down is when the going gets good.  It didn’t take long for me to gain a fair amount of confidence in the Shinobi’s capabilities.  With new found confidence in my machine, it was only my own confidence in descending and skill that held me back.  Let er rip!  4 ½ hours, 36 miles, including a trip through Lyons up to Hall Ranch, a spin around there and back down through Heil Ranch one more time was all it took for a good day. 

I learned a lot about the Shinobi yesterday, but many more rides need to be had on this machine to give an objective review.  First, it descends better than any bike I’ve owned.  That might be obvious considering the 140mm of travel up front, but I think it has more to do with the geometry and slack head tube angle.  What was most surprising to me was the climbing efficiency.  I honestly could not tell if the back was bobbing at all while climbing!  And when standing up and powering to get up a steep or techy section, it seemed to leap forward without any hesitation.  Considering I climbed over 4400ft on a 31 lb bike and left without feeling much tire in my legs means it must be an efficient climbing bike.  The handling felt good, but a lot more time needs to be spent on it for me to completely figure it out.  Overall, it is definitely an incredibly stiff, burly, and capable machine.  The FUN is back!

And then I made rice cakes.  Never should your ClifBar expenditure exceed beer.  As I am writing this my roommates are devouring them.  Fail.

Dick's Power Mix

Friday, January 18, 2013

Serious Stoke

Do I use the word “stoke” too much?  Possibly.  Why the eff am I answering my own questions.  Moving on.  I can barely contain my excitement after getting my hands on something this week that was just a pipedream only weeks ago.  Since getting rid of my Specialized Camber Pro full-suspension this summer there has been a gaping hole in my biking repertoire.  I was hindered with two hardtail mountain bikes, each with minimal travel up front.  Then I broke one.  That leaves me with one hardtail mountain bike composed of this fancy new crabon fibre material, XC geometry and a 90mm travel fork.  Half of my riding destinations just got tossed out the window.  Sure, I can ride this bike in Moab, Fruita, local ball-busters, etc. but it’s not going to be fun, and something will break; either me or the bike.  What I needed was another trail monster; something that could get my juices running; a burly steed capable of going anywhere and eating up terrain like Hulk on speed.

Then an ad showed up on craigslist.  Something finally in my price range, and exactly what I was looking for.  I inquired, I pondered, I stopped pondering, I went and bought.  I present the Norco Shinobi.

Trail Ninja
 And why, again, do I “need” this bike?  Well, I can explain, but I’d rather let my friend Kenny do so.

That’s just it.  I don’t ride mountain bikes just to train all of the time.  I ride them for adventure, challenge, adrenaline, accomplishment, freedom, and so much more.  Nothing can send chills down your spine and leave you smiling ear to ear like a crushing descent down a mountain.  Drugs and sex actually come pretty close, but both require some extra level of commitment and follow up.  Plus, it's going to be way cooler than these guys:

Norco is a company well-versed in big-travel bikes that are designed to handle the gnarliest terrain that British Columbia has to offer.  If you’re a bike company based out of BC, you know how to build a stout, terrain gobbling bike.  The advent of long-travel full-suspension 29ers only started a few years back, and companies have taken some time to get the potion dialed.  When Norco released the Shinobi, their first attempt at the all-mountain 29er market, it was received with almost flawless reviews.  This is one reason I’m so stoked about the Shinobi.  I haven’t even ridden it yet but I have the utmost confidence in its abilities.  Another reason to be excited is the partial custom build.  Almost every crucial part of the bike has been upgraded with components much better than stock, some of which have seen very little use.  The wheels, cranks, seatpost, derailleurs (SRAM XO), and most importantly, Rockshox Monarch RC3 Plus shock, are all major upgrades.  It’s so ready to rock and roll, and so am I.  I’ve never ridden such a capable, diverse, and well-equipped machine, with this much suspension travel, dropper seatpost, and so on and so forth.

Everything about the purchase seemed so perfect, that something had to be wrong.  Upon further inspection, I noticed this:

One of the shock linkage bolts was hanging out, and it’s cohort on the other side missing.  Damn, where the hell am I going to find a Norco dealer?  Oh wait, I live in Boulder.  Anywhere else in the country you would be lucky to be within 100 miles of one.  For me it was a 2 mile bike ride.  And it just happened to be across the street from Avery Brewing.  I couldn’t pass up my own offer to try some of their newest offerings.  The chocolate mint stout was delicious, their newest IPA brewed with String Cheese front man Kyle Hollingsworth was interesting, and the Mephistopheles was… sorry, I’m digressing.  Right, back to bikes.

First ride on the newest creator of “stoke” is yet to come.  Boulder had been frigidly cold for the last couple of weeks, but has just changed for the better.  This is good, because staring at my new toy is starting to get both frustrating (think untouchable naked girl in your dream) and somewhat obsessive. Ride review to come.

Cow shit and 14ers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy New Year

This New Year starts off all old and crusty.  It’s like I got rum-drunk in a shrimp shack full of drifters and fisherman, stumbled to the beach, folded out my broken Corona beach chair and passed out.  When I woke up with sand in my crack and the sun in my bloodshot eyes it was 2013.  Who’s ready to party?  In actuality, the last days of my 2012 were spent in similar fashion, albeit a little more responsibly.  I did hang out in seaside tiki huts.  I did eat copious amounts of fresh shrimp, washed down with Budweiser.  I even met some fisherman.  In fact I enjoyed one of the best Christmas days in memory.  It consisted of sitting on the beach in the Florida keys with my closest family, sipping down watery beverages, swimming in salty water, staring at girls in bikinis (some not so nice), and eating the freshest seafood that money can buy.  In fact, the only way it could have been any fresher would be to personally kill the fish with my own teeth.   But large grouper are scary looking, so I’ll let someone else do the killing. 
It's good to be King.
Then I came back to Colorado, where it’s cold and crusty.  Nothing moves very fast.  The thought of riding in this environment, after running half-naked next to the ocean only days beforehand, is hard to grasp.  Along with my unwillingness to brave these conditions and disdain for them, it goes that I’ve been singlespeedless for almost three months now.  The real crustiness of this New Year was hanging on my wall; a beaten down and broken bike frame that had served most of my purposes in the last couple of years.  So upon my arrival in this frozen tundra, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Armed with a hack saw and the desire to put this piece of steel in its final resting place, I went to town.  On a less dramatic note, to be able to get a new Niner frame at a discounted price, what they call a “crash-replacement” (not sure how this applies considering the absence of any crash in my situation), they make sure you thoroughly destroy your frame by cutting the bottom bracket out.  I could have used a power tool for the job.  But I felt it was my duty to put some blood and sweat into killing this machine that endured my constant abuse for so long; a last hurrah. 

So at some point in the next couple of weeks I should be seeing a brand spankin’ new fresh as frozen fruit sparkly hand-robot-welded-Taiwanese-made bicycle frame show up, in all its mass-produced yet still considered “small-box” glory, with full singlespeed capability.  It will undoubtedly be an upgrade from the old SIR9.  Although not their top-of-the-line crabon fibre model, it will still be a whole lot lighter, stiffer and more race-worthy than Old Golddy.

I am also awaiting the arrival of, or word of, or even half-brained ideas on my custom Generic Cycles titanium hardtail.  The builder has been less than responsive about its creation or any other details.  You could say that he’s been completely unresponsive, but I’ll cut him some slack.  He does build bikes for an awesome brewery up the road from me, and with that he stays in good faith.  That being said, parts are starting to arrive for this build.  Parts that, aside from a completely custom hand-built titanium frame, I cannot wait to try out.

Next up, the tingle that goes down my spine when I think of riding in Moab and Sedona; and on  a bike capable of such.  These are not places that were designed, through millions of years of volcanic activity, wind and water erosion and the harsh desert, for a hardtail race bike.  No sir.  To fully enjoy the fruits of our earth’s labor, one must be on a machine of squishy forgiveness.  The same reason you let your wife get fat.  So in addition to prepping new builds for the upcoming season, I’ve also got my eye on some fun-candy.  The race bikes are that apple you got on Halloween.  What I’m spying is the full Snicker’s bar.  Tell me which neighbor you liked better?  

And when not drinking beer, in preparation for the upcoming season, one can always find solace in a 35 pound bucket of peanut butter, in all its creamy goodness. 

I'm going in!

Happy New Year!