Monday, September 29, 2008

Charlie Brown - Mountain Biker Extraordinaire

You know Charlie Brown, he's a good kid. Okay, he's a bit of a blockhead sometimes, but he's kind hearted, determined and plucky. Despite his good qualities, things usually don't work out in ole' Chuck's favor - whether its pitching baseballs, flying kites or kicking footballs.

Charlie and I are kindred; we're homies. If he rides mountain bikes, I guarantee Chuck rides just like me.

After the debacle that was last week (friend's bike blows off the back of my car) I was feeling the need to purge that bad biking experience with a trip to Seven Oaks in Boone. You know, Charlie just keeps trying to fly those kites, despite the presence of a kite eating tree.

While waiting for Corey in the parking lot I decided to try a little adjusting on my rear derailleur because the hill climbing gears were not shifting well and you n-e-e-d those gears at 7 Oaks. Well, as usual, I made things worse. My 21 speed (old skool) was reduced to about 3 speeds. Struggling with it in the parking lot I said, "I hope this isn't a bad omen" Oh, if I only knew, but Charlie never knows Lucy is gonna pull that ball away, does he?

Adding to the mix, I was trying out some different biking shoes. About 2 miles into the first 7 mile loop I started feeling blisters forming on both my big toes. That's okay though, I don't need my big toes anyway. I was also having trouble clipping and unclipping. This caused a few minor introductions to the Boone dirt.

When we got to the top of the ski hill, about 5 miles into the first loop, I went to get a power bar out of my seatpack. I found the zipper open about an inch. Luckily everything was still there, everything - that is - except my car key. You need that to unlock, start and drive your car. Well, that's inconvenient.

I couldn't figure out how the key which was under my phone, a powerbar and a multi-tool could pop out of a space this (_______________) wide.

Charlie can't figure out why his baseball team sucks so bad.

We thought it could be on the ground back in the parking lot since I turned my bike over to (un)adjust the derailuer. So, we headed back with fingers crossed.

No luck.

I went up the beginning of the trail to another spot we stopped to readjust my derail unadjustment.

No luck there either.

So, I made one of the most super fun phone calls I've made in quite awhile. "Uh, Honey.....hope you weren't doing anything for the next couple of hours because I need you to drive up to Boone with my spare key and bail us out.............smooches." I'm paraphrasing because I don't really remember what I said. It, like a lot of things, is in a fog. She said it was pure joy to be married to such a well-prepared and self-sufficient person and she would be glad to set aside her plans for the day in order to assist me in my time of need......or something like that.

So, the plan was that I would continue to ride the trail again looking for the key amongst the leaves, sticks, roots, dirt etc and she would start driving. I planned to call her if I found it so she could turn around.

About 2-3 miles into our key search loop we came to a spot known as Rick's Drop. Before Saturday I didn't know what Rick did to get a drop named after him, but now I think I have an idea. It comes up fast, after a nice stretch of flowing downhill. Its not a huge drop, 2-3 foot probably, but it turns somewhat sharply at the bottom in some loose BLACK gravely coal like dirt. I was going pretty fast, but not too fast, and my front tire dug in the loose dirt, I heard a POP like the tire exploded and I was down, taking all the fall on my thigh, knee and inside right forearm. My arm was BLACK on the inside with a couple of bright RED spots showing through. It felt swell. I took a few minutes to shake it off, test out the bike and used my water bottle to wash it off as best I could. All-in-all it was a highly unsatisfactory mountain biking experience.

From here on out I would be much slower, standing to climb on my newly converted 3 speed wasn't as easy with a Charlie horse in my thigh. As we progressed I noticed the front of the bike getting more and more squirrely so I stopped to check the pressure and it was really low. I pumped it up, but I had the sense it wasn't going to hold air well. Since these are tubeless tires, and I didn't have a tube with me, I was pretty much stuck with it. I reserved myself to continue poking along. Nearing the spot where I noticed the key missing I came to another little drop-plus-turn spot, when I rode over it my front tire again dug in and let out a big POP.

I flew ass over tea kettle.

Corey said it was a "great save" which I didn't get since I somersaulted in the air and rolled off my shoulder. The worst of it was I now had a matching hamburger spot on my left arm. This time the tire was completely flat and so was my desire to bike.

I decided to walk to the top of the ski hill (remember, I had blistered big toes) and then take the bailout back to the parking lot. About 10 feet up the trail there was my key, laying perfectly in the middle of the trail, if we had turned around when we first noticed it missing we would've found it in less than 10 minutes.


I immediately called Jackie. She was only about 10-15 miles from Boone. I told her I found the key so she could turn around. She said I am the light of her life and everyday with me is a blessing.....hmmmmmmmm, that might not be exactly right either. Anyway, I don't like to ride bikes anymore. I'm going to take up cribbage.

Despite the obvious disaster, the were some good points. Corey and I both tamed the gravity cavity, that was cool. Riding the hardtail helped fo shizzle.

Stupid flat tire. This is the second crash-and-burn this season because of low psi up front.

Dear Low PSI:

You are the Enemy.


Brian and Charlie

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Don't Wanna Talk About It

I had some bad bike mojo go down last weekend. I don't really wanna talk about it, but it seems to be festering and stealing my will to blog. So, I'm gonna talk about it just this once and then it shall never been mentioned again - henceforth and forever more.

Me, Corey and Allen headed out Sunday for a bike trip. There are a number of stupid things that occurred on our adventure, but I'm not talking about all of that. I have not the strength for it. Instead I'll just focus on the main stupidity - believe me its plenty all on its own.

We picked up Allen last. He is new to mountain biking and so he got his first serious bike about a month ago. I strapped his snazzy bike to my snazzy Thule rack - strapped that mutherscratcher up snug as a bug.

We made it all the way to Bethany, Missouri. When we stopped to check a map Allen said, "Um, Brian....we now only have two bikes." Yes, that's right two bikes, three riders.

Great News
Simply Outstanding

We drove back to DSM, scanning the highway all the way, then we went back to Bethany, scanning the highway all the way, then we drove back to DSM - ah yeah - scanning the highway all the way. All told, 8 hours on the road looking for the mysterious disappearing ghost bike.


We didn't hear it rattle, didn't see it move, didn't get any drivers honking and pointing.


Apparently, we drove through the Bermuda Triangle for bikes.

Allen bike commutes to work, so his main mode of transportation vanished too.


I feel mad/sad/angry/depressed/embarrassed/wronged/flummoxed and........pissed.

I'm helping Allen out on buying a new bike, but I'm not talking about it anymore.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back in the Saddle - Kinda

I decided to do a little mind over matter and get back on the bike for this week's Taco Ride. I knew I wasn't going to be in top shape, what-with my recent germyness and subsequent frailty, but I had to give it a go.

Low turnout tonight, Hanser thought it might be because "everyone is getting sick" - you don't say. I took a picture of Teri taking a picture.

Right away I knew it was going to be a rough night. My energy levels were pathetically low and just keeping things rolling was a struggle. I was going so slow I think I saw a snail wizz by me - towing another snail.

Adding to the fun, there were some wet spots in Denmans with a couple of them being flat out MUD puddles. People tend to ride around wet spots, making narrow singletrack into bloated bubbletrack around the spot.

This is bad.

I was part-of-the-problem early on, circumventing the first couple of trouble spots, but local trail building guru, Mr. Ryan Hanser, was behind me complaining about the bubbling so when the next one came up I just plowed right through it. For succumbing to the peer pressure I was rewarded with a surprisingly thick coating of MUD. Hanser said I did "the right thing" so that really made it all worth while. A little further down the trail I plowed another puddle and added a second coat. Later when we stopped I noticed Hanser didn't have so much MUD on him. Hmmm, maybe he just glides over it, or maybe he was riding in my MUD wake.

After Denmans we headed over to Hillside. This is where I really turned into a turtle. I ran so low on juice coming up the first climb I just had to stop. I took a picture right where I gave up. Funny, you can't see a wall, but I know one was there.

Apparently I was too weak to even hold the 2 oz camera steady to take another picture of Teri and the gang. I'm HeMan Defender of the Universe.

Hillside goodness

its like marble madness in spots

I took my sunglasses off and hung them in my shirt collar for the ride through Hillside because it was starting to get pretty dusky. Even though I checked on them frequently I lost them somewhere - frickin' idiot. I noticed it on the way back to the car so Corey and I turned around and did some searching, but it was getting too dark so we headed home.

I hauled my sorry butt back out there this morning before work to do some looking. Normally I would have been glad for the chance to get a little more riding in, especially since its really peaceful out there in the morning, but I was still running on empty. I retraced my route forward and backward to no avail so I figger:

A. some early morning dog walker, jogger or bike commuter found them
B. they're well off the trail under some foliage or
C. some damn party wabbit snagged em.

I already told you, stupid wabbits, stop stealin' my stuff.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Life Lesson # 3,347: Never Complain About Having a Head Cold

Why? Because things could be sooo much worse. For example you could get the FLU on top of the head cold.

Hurricane Ralph descended upon the nation of Brian on Friday. Things had been brewing a bit off shore, but sadly Brian's inhabitants paid no heed to the warnings. Ralph made landfall at Brian's southern coast somewhere around 7:00 p.m. CST necessitating IMMEDIATE evacuations of all his citizens.

Inhabitants in the central region were the first to go, exiting rapidly to the north, followed by the southern region which choose to head south. There was confusion, mayhem and even a little price gouging and looting were seen along the way.

Even though Ralph moved on after Friday, the damage had been done. Devastation was widespread, power has yet to be restored. Only the most mild mannered citizens like Soup and Turkey Sandwich are being allowed to return at this time. Mr. Spicy Chicken Wings, it doesn't look like you'll be coming back in the foreseeable future.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never Surrender (except in cases when you can't even climb the stairs)

Getting sick on Friday was stupid. Being basically no weller on the following Thursday is really dumb.

I have been planning on going to Whiterock Conservancy for CITA's first annual retreat this Saturday. I was looking forward to camping, riding and enjoying the company of like minded individuals.

I even passed on a great chance to go to the rip-roaring good time in Wisconsin known as Gnome Fest in large part because I was going to Whiterock.

Then the germs came. I didn't give up though, I told Jackie yesterday I might still go. She just shook her head. Then my friend Corey had to back out, but I was still going. Rain, no tent, football game party at my house......the reasons to bail just kept coming, but I wasn't giving up hope.

Today I thought I felt better; I was at least going to work. On my way out the door I realized I forgot something upstairs. I ran up to get it. You woudda thought I just climbed Mt. Everest - no breath, lightheaded, pretty exhausted really.

I have been stubborn about going because I thought I would have a great time. I realize now even if I were to make a miraculous comeback I would still be way too wiped out to really enjoy riding. I would probably ride in the morning, struggle like all get-out, and be tent bound the rest of the time. Getting pneumonia would be colossally bad.

So, sorry to all those guys I told I would be there. If I was a horse sombody would have to shoot me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

When Hummingbirds Attack!

What do you do when a hummingbird is stuck in your garage?! Get a grip man! What -- do-you-do?

1. Assemble a team. Here's mine; I took this picture afterward, telling them to act as if they like each other - what you see here is about as good as it gets.

2. Assign roles and responsibilities: Allie, (CAREFULLY) shoo 'em this way with a broom. Katie, take pictures (and stop screaming) Me: corral wittle birdie without creating a "When Animal Rescues Go Hoooribily Wrong" episode.

I had to chase the little critter back and forth across the garage ceiling. It was unnerving thinking I might just squash him/her/it (I'm going with her).

She was getting tired and landing more and more. I tried to coax her out of the attic access and she let out a little tweet. I thought I had just committed birdicide, but she was just tired. I can relate. Bashing your head on the ceiling over and over is tiring. Don't ask me how I know that.

The goal was to get the skimmer between her and the ceiling in order to direct her down and out the door.

After some considerably nifty net work she was free.

In the excitement Katie took a bad angle and only captured my (very impressed) neighbor's kids and part of the skimmer. I'll give her a break this time. Next time there's a Animal Planet moment in my garage I'm gonna expect award winning action photography.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Being sick is stupid, I'd Rather be in Dublin

Some evil head-to-chest cold has descended upon our household and I am the latest casualty. Allie gave it to Jackie and she gave it to......(ah, yeah) me.

I am wondering if her crowding my side of the bed and germing-up my pillow had anything to do with it?...............but I'm not bitter. There's no time to be bitter, I must get to the doctor.

There's a long wait in Docs' office; If you haven't been before, the walk-in clinic is a hoppin' place on a Friday evening at 6:30.

Docs says, among other things, Ew and Ohhhh. She tells me something like my ear drums are concave. HUH?! WHAT'S THAT YOU SAY?! I CAN'T HEAR YOU, MY EAR DRUMS ARE CONCAVE!

Also, my froat hurts.

As if that ain't bad enough I also have a plantar wart on my foot. It hurts. Biking to Joe's aggravated it (thanks a lot Joe). So I had Doc look at it while I was there. She cut on it with a razor blade. I just love going to the doctor.

She said my foot will be fine but I'm sure I can't hike or bike or nuthin' right now. I'm still going to the game tomorrow but I'm not going to be able to party down as much as I would otherwise (or am I?).

I got some medicine but it doesn't even taste like bubblegum so this pretty much sucks.

Jackie says I complain too much when I'm sick and that hurts my feelings.

Whatever, being sick is stupid.

Here's a couple of old pics from our trip to Europe. Jackie and I went to Dublin, London, Paris and Madrid for an study abroad class with Drake's MPA program in 2001. Its definitely one of the best things I've ever done. Thinking about Dublin makes me happy.

An authentic Celtic Cross in the graveyard of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

I kid-you-not - the Organ Fund in St. Patrick's

One end of Christ Church Cathedral. This was the first church we went to, it is one of the oldest (if not the* oldest) churches in Europe.

This cage, hanging inside the sanctuary, contains the heart of one of the patron saints.

They had an extensive crypt under the church.

The Brazen Head is the oldest bar in Ireland, founded in 1198. You could see where they used to tie up horses in this little courtyard. The people could not have been more friendly. I think our group was the only tourists there. One of the guys in our group was (is) DSM PD. He brought uniform patches to share with groups that were hosting our educational presentations. He gave a patch to the bartenders and you woudda thought these guys won the lottery. They were hootin' and hollerin', ringing a bell and buying us all drafts (Guinness of course).

The Kilmainham Jail. Built in 1796 it held many prisoners; men, women and children. Incredible brutality happened here. Its hard to explain the feeling you get from being in a place like this, but suffice to say it was very powerful.

This is the Gravtiy Bar. It was built on top of an old tower at the Guinness factory. Your tour included a pint of the dark stuff with a 360 degree view of Dublin. The bartenders even made little shamrocks in the beer foam, for us dorky tourists. We dorky loved it.

Whadda expect?! After all, it was a Wednesday.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Comedy of Errors....and Little Smokies

Got up early this Labor Day and hit the road on my cyclocross bike headed for Pleasantville and fantasy football domination.

Although I had the best intentions of leaving early I let myself get sucked into the pre-ride planning perpetual circle. You bikers know of what I speak: walking around the house saying, "Oh, I'll grab this, and I'll charge that real quick, maybe I should grab a little of this and take along some of that." AGH! STOP!, Okay now GO, LEAVE ALREADY!

So I got out of the house a little late, but not too bad.

It was almost 21 miles to Joe's house and I gave myself about an 1 hour and 20 minutes. Right away I was concerned about the time. I started a little conversation with myself, "Should've left earlier, Dummy. Don't set too high a pace or you'll be hacking and cramping while trying to draft." And so on.....

My concern was alleviated somewhat when I made good time through Carlisle and up to the S23 junction without a problem. I remembered S23 was a nice stretch of road but forgot that one of the things I liked about it was the hills.

My plan was to hit some gravel cross roads to cut off some distance just south of Palmyra. If you don't know about Palmyra don't feel bad. If you blink you miss it.

I blinked.

I had mentally pegged my trip time estimate based on how long it would take me to get to Palmyra, so when I didn't see it I started wondering how far behind schedule was I? I wasn't seeing gravel roads much either. I did wizz by Grimes Ave and recognized the name from my Google Maps scouting. I thought this was a good sign. Soon enough I rolled up to the 92 intersection and knew I had missed my gravel cut through.

The conversation started in my head again, "When are you going to call Joe? You're late now for sure, Frickin Idiot. Didn't account for the hills, didn't adjust for wind." I92 has a pretty big hill heading into Sandyville. I was not glad to see it. I finally conceded that I was not going to make it on time and stopped to call Joe to tell him I was running behind and ask him to draft Rex Grossman for me. He said I was only about 5 miles away. That was good news. He also said not everyone was there yet - more sweet sounds. With a new, more positive, outlook I took off for S31 which would lead right to Joe's. This road starts with a good climb, but then gives way to a 2-3 mile stretch of steady downhill on buttery smooth pavement. It was just what the doctor ordered.

I rolled up to Joe's house just in front of the last guest to arrive. Pretty darn good, especially after all those self conversations. 24.01 miles, 1,230 feet of ascent, 14.7 mph average.

Sweet bacon wrapped little smokies. I've been thinking about you since S23.

On the way back I took the gravel I missed on the way out. I was liking this better already. "Road closed? You must not get it, this is a cyclocross bike, my friend. The right tool for the job." See, my internal conversation was getting more chipper all the time.

Here's the reason for all the fuss.

Even though my disposition was brighter I did notice it was HOT and I still wanted to make good time back because - get this - I was supposed to ride with Corey out at Easter when I got home.

I was having another little conversation on the way back, "Ugh, pretty tired, gotta ride when you get back too, that's a little much don't you think? Yeah, well you told Corey you would go. Call him, you said you call on your way back. If you wait to get home you can at least rest a little. Sandwich, I'm hungry; shoulda stayed for lunch at Joe's. Hmmm those little smokies were good."

By the time I rolled into home I was pretty spent - 20.8 miles, 1,297 ft ascent, 14.3mph average.

I called Corey, but he had other commitments and had to bail. Me = saved by the bell. From there? Sandwich, shower, no more talkie, talkie - nap.