Monday, June 29, 2009


I think my mental ink well has run dry. I've still been riding, hiking and generally making a mess of things but for some reason I haven't felt the fire to write about it.

I wouldn't call it writer's block, its more of a writer's bleck. So until the word faucet gets turned back on, here's some pictures to tie you over.

Katie commandeered the Camelback, and the camera on a recent Trail Dog hike. She just couldn't resist taking her own picture. She's such a beautiful girl.

Allie rocking a piano recital. She was pretty spooked, but got through it fine. Such a beautiful girl.

Weird fungus thingy at Ahquabi. Nick wouldn't take a bite. What a chicken.

Betrayal - the Yeti is currently up for auction on fleabay. Currently 25+ people are "watching" it. C'mon Bike Voyeurs, don't just watch - bid!
New helmet light, super cool Dinotte.

Here's a cow that's a little lost. He looked at us like, "Do you know where I'm supposed to be?"

Moo (?)

Sunday, June 21, 2009


On Saturday I met a boy I'll call Jay (not his real name, but you get the idea). Jay is a pitcher for the Cardinals of the Des Moines Miracle League. If you're not familiar with this organization, you should be. Sponsored by Kiwanis, they arrange for physically and mentally challenged kids to play baseball complete with everything a baseball game should have; teams, uniforms, coaches, umpires, fans, scoreboards, a concession stand, etc. etc. This is the second time I've volunteered to "umpire" some games, which amounts to shuttling bats, balls and batting tees around, dishing out high fives and smiling ear to ear.

Everyone of these players has a special story and I wish I could relate them all. Since I can't share everything (come down and volunteer! and see for yourself!) I'm just going to talk about Jay. The Cardinals starting pitcher is a lefty with a strong presence on the mound and a good fast ball despite the fact that he happens to be blind. Just clap and say "put-er right here" a couple of times and Jay will get the job done. He was able to give several of the Cubs hitters (heated rivalry between those Cards and Cubs) good enough pitches to hit. It was awesome.

Of course, Jay bats as well. This time around I was on-hand for the Miracle League's debut of the Beeper Ball. This oversized ball beeps continuously to allow the sight impaired to track it in the air and swing at the right time. Jay, with a little help from his buddy, was able to swing away and hit the ball. The ball only went a few feet but it might as well have been a 400 ft homerun. He now knows what it feels like when a swinging bat contacts a thrown ball and what a crowd sounds like when its going bonkers over your big hit.

Not much else to say really, just like last time it was perfect.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pour Some Sugar On Me

Anybody that knows me, or has ever had more than 5 brews with me, knows that I sometimes like to proffer these….theories, little fundamental truths, I have come to know through keen scientific observation of the world around me.

Due to this habit I have postulated about topics ranging from tacos to “bi-sexuals” (oh yeah, ask me about that one sometime). I mention this now because the title of this post reminds me of one such universal axiom – chicks dig Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard.

And when I say “chicks” (with the utmost respect, ladies) I mean all chicks - young, old, teen, tween, city, country, good girls, bad girls (especially bad girls) any nationality, color or creed. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never heard the song before. Heck, they don’t even have to speak the language!

I’m just sayin’ - you could walk into a old folks home anywhere in the world with a boom box, kick out the Def jams, and get some geriatric toes tappin’ (hopefully it ends there, before someone brakes a hip).

Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar on Me
Uploaded by hushhush112. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

If you are a chick and you’re reading this (I know, not likely) check yourself with the link above. Seriously, we’ll wait……..seeeeeeee, I told ya.

Young men reading this, take note, there is great power in this knowledge……..aaaaand you’re welcome.

Incidentally, I have found that when presenting one of these theories, phrases such as “I’m just sayin’” and “seeeee, I told ya.” are key.

Damn if I’m not loquacious, what I really meant to say was – I went on a mountain bike ride at the Sugar Bottom trails on Friday.

A last minute plan came up on Wednesday while Nick and I were riding at Ahquabi. I was battling an on-coming head cold but I figured by resting Thursday I should be good to go on Friday. Not according to plan I felt pretty snotgurgley on Thursday and not great Friday morning, but I resolved myself to juicing up on caffeine and gettin’ er done.

And that's just what I did.

Nick and I were Weather Ninjas. As it rained in Des Moines we rode at Sugar. My Garmin is on the fritz and Nick's wasn't charged so I don't have a track or elevation profile to share, sorry. We did 2 full laps, measuring around 21 miles of great flowing singletrack. The riding is wonderfully varied, just about the time you're gassed from a long, steady climb the trail turns downhill to carve through smooth hardpack laden with pine needles and scarred by embedded roots. About the time you get comfortable rolling with the tide a loose rocky climb, mini drop off or a rooty switchback appears. With nothing really crazy you can let the brakes go and roll but some sections sneak up and demand attention, skills and respect. For the Midwest, for me, its about a 9 on a 10 scale. I didn't take many pictures because I was just too busy riding and having a blast at a favorite old haunt.

Skateboarding Dog, beat that.

Nick taking the usual mode of transportation to the top of cyclocross hill, walking. The second time through we skipped Cyclo Hill and followed the green trail around. They've really spruced that bit up with some cool boardwalks and other interesting features.

All manner of roots; if there's a curve or a switchback at Sugar, rest assured - its full of roots.

See, they call this Hell Trail. Charming.

Troll Bridge isn't nearly as sketchy as the rooty downhill right before it (not pictured)

Even though my cold didn't seem to slow me down at Sugar I had a feeling I would be paying for it later - and I did. I stayed pretty tethered to the couch Saturday and Sunday and am just now getting back to about 70% speed.

It was so worth it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not the Best Ride

I need to start listening to that little voice in my head. A couple of weeks ago the lil voice said, "Hey, you need to get another derailleur hanger for the Voodoo." Fast forward an hour and SNAP! the hanger is busted.

On my way out the door for a ride on my cross bike yesterday I thought, "You should stop by the shop and pick up a spare tube and some more CO2." I knew my spare tube featured an iffy patch job and I'd recently blown through the last of my cheater bike pump CO2. Without it you're doomed to spend eternity inflating a tire (ok, I exaggerate, but it is damned inconvenient).......

The plan was to drive to Moffitt Lake and ride west, eventually looping around Badger Creek State Park. I have never been to Badger, so I was looking forward to seeing what was out there.

I didn't get that far.

View Larger Map

The first unpleasantry came in the form of two aggressive little dogs. Bishon Frisbees I think. Rocketing little masses of yapping curly white fur, I do not like them Sam I am.

After out sprinting the furious cotton balls I intersected the main east/west gravel road. Right away there's a medium-sized climb and near the top I see a pickup is pulled over to the side of the road.

When I pass the truck I find two portly shirtless ole' boys 'bout to go fishin'; gettin' their poles and tackle out. It doesn't seem to bother them that there's no pond in sight. I startle one-a-them-fellas and he spouts, "What in tarnation are you doin' all the way out here?!"

Yes, he said tarnation. I made him repeat it.

When my wonderment wore off I replied, "Just out for a bike ride....Whadda you guys doin' fishin' on the road?"

They roared with laughter. I thought, after the fact, maybe I shouldn't be a smartass to a guy who uses the word tarnation.

A few miles down the road I hit an unseen pothole on the downside of a rollercoaster hill and felt that too familiar rim bottoming out feeling. Hmm, that didn't seem good...and it wasn't. The climb up the next hill revealed the dreaded flat tire.

Curse you, Little Voice, for always being right.

I searched my pack for patches but had none; so the shoddy, ghetto, half patch crap tube would have to do. Oh, and I'll have to pump it for a half an hour with my crappy 1993 mini pump. To make matters worse, I was menaced by a large (is there any other kind?) Yellow Jacket while fixing the flat. It wanted to sting me. I could tell.

The tire wouldn't fully inflate no matter how much I mini pumped, so I abandoned the Badger Creek plan and turned back. The approaching rain clouds also encouraged retreat. I stood on the peddles most of the way back so I wouldn't have to feel that sickly low tire feeling as much. Still, I had to stop several times to reinflate.

Arriving back at the Road Fisherman's truck, there was no sight of them, I guess they found their pond....Then it occurs to me, I have an important choice to make - take the shortcut and face the Flying Mopsters or go another 1.5 miles around. I know I can't sprint very well with a flat rear tire...

Aw....screw it.

I stop and give my tire a shot of air and a little pep talk. "C'mon old girl. I'm gonna need you to stay inflated just a little while longer. I think we can make it, if you just hang in there."

Resolved to my fate, I turn down the road. I think, "Man, wouldn't it be great if those little @#$%ers were in the house? I mean, they're house dogs right?"



Just like last time they take good attack angles, running along side instead of straight at you. I think they've done this before. I guess those 5 practices a week and off-season conditioning drills are all paying off right now.


Little @#$ers. "No!" and "Bad Dog!" does nothing to deter them, one on each side of me now. I ask my rear tire for a little more, she just squishes side to side. I'm worried about rolling the tire off the rim, so I let up. I concentrate instead on resisting the urge to boot the little yappers, but neither one has taken a nip at me or dove at the wheels - yet. Then we roll through a swampy spot in the road. The Mops suddenly abandon the chase, it seems the precious furballs don't like getting wet.

Oh yes, next time, Fuzzy Little F%$^&ers, I will surely crush you (or at least squirt you in the yaptrap with my water bottle).

Once to the pavement, and past the frizzy onslaught, I stop to pump up the tire for (hopefully)the last time. I put a couple of shots of air in and suddenly...HISSSSSSSS, ALL the air runs out at once.


My morale is flat as the tire but I carefully reattach the pump and try to resurrect it. To my surprise it actually does reinflate. I don't know what that was about, maybe the tube was just trying to getting back at me for putting it through the Mop Dog's Gauntlet.

From there I make it the rest of the way back to the car without incident. The tire seems to hold air better when its not being jostled around on gravel or in a sprint for its life.

Yeah, it was not the best ride.....but to me it was better than no ride(and that says it all doesn't it?)

Friday, June 5, 2009

One Cog to Rule Them All

I really wanted to entitle this post, "Hey Man, Check Out My Unit." The intention was to announce my purchase of a 2007 Kona Unit 2-9 singlespeed mountain bike frame, but somehow I think I would have been attracting a whole 'nother kind of webernet visitor. So, instead I decided to go with a title that meshes my bike nerdlyness to my JRR Tolkien dorkitude.

Anywho, I have bike OCD so I went through a million iterations when thinking about what to buy. I was going to splurge, I was going to go cheap. I was stuck on steel, I considered aluminum, new/used, convertable to gears or dedicated single, eccentric bottom bracket or sliding drops; so much to noodle over. I think I pulled a brain muscle or two...

Enough about that, you want to see the frame, right?


You've heard of "white hot"? Well, purple is waaay hotter.

Purple People Eater, Purple Nerple, Grape Ape.



Thursday, June 4, 2009

Riding on Sunshine and a New Challenge

I made it out to Banner last night for a pseudo Taco Ride. It really does hold up well to rain. The northside was dry with the exception of a couple of mud puddles in the usual places. Riverside was greezy but rideable.

Nick had an advantage as his bike appears to be powered by sunshine. No wonder he felt compelled to start training for a enduro mountain bike race. He wasn't really sure what race he wanted to do, but he was sure about wanting a training partner. Me: "Yeah, that would be nice - to have someone to train with.....if only there was someone who likes to ride but isn't all that serious, or fast, to ride with.....hey, wait a minute...."

Ok, fine, whatever, I'll do it. I need the extra motivation, since returning from Womble my weight loss challenge has gone awry. This time of year is difficult for losing poundage because allergies kill my motivation to workout and strangely my stomach is often unsettled, only really feeling ok - when? - immediately after I eat - great combination there.

So, I think Nick and I will be doing the Rapture in Misery 6/12 hour race in mid-August at Crowder State Park. Should be a good time.

Que the Rocky music.