Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Crew Member for Gnome Fest

Because everybody needs somebody, I thought our resident Gnome, Billy

could use a little company at da Fest.

Through the miracle of Ebay, enter Jerry:

This is what Ebay had to say about him:

NEW Farting Gnome Sassy Novelty for Garden Yard

He looks cute enough, but when you pass by this Farting Gnome lets out unexpected gassy explosions along with a series of several seam-splitting comments sure to stun his victims. Hidden motion sensor is sure to surprise all that cross his path. Durable PVC. 11" Tall. Uses 2 AA batteries, not included.

Now, how was I supposed to resist that? I mean REAL-LY.

There's a little back story to choosing the name Jerry. My pal Joel used to call all his friends (so it wasn't a big problem) either Billy, lil Billy, Jerry or maybe Captain or Cap. He said it was to simplify things. Truth is it amused him in a way only your own little asinine joke can. He'd call me, say "Hey, Billy." I eventually learned to reply "What's up Jerry?". We still play this game from time to time. I used to try thinking up other names to call him, usually something feminine. (Ring) "What's up Jerry?" (sometimes he'd switch it up on you) "Not much Lilly.......Tomlin". Ah, the things you do to amuse yourself.... buy a farting gnome.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Green Lantern and a Wolverine

After taking the dog out to Banner for a hike on Sunday I had to get back out there on the bike.

I also had a new mojo, the Green Lantern, to test out. He is more formal than Fez (my single speed mojo). For example, he insists on calling me "Citizen". "The trail looks clear, Citizen." Thanks superhero dude.

Green did his job admirably early in the ride, stopping me moments before I destroyed my headphones. I haven't been doing much solo riding this year, so I completely forgot I'd hooked my iPod up but didn't put the headphones in my ears. About 30 yards into the trail it felt like a vine grabbed me from behind, when I looked back this is what I saw.

They are a wrap around design, just not wrap around your cassette. It is amazing I didn't cut or nick the cord or chew up the earbuds. They did need a little reshaping, but all things considered I got off easy. " Your headphones are now safe! Onward with easy listening, Citizen!" Uhm, yeah....thanks dude. We're going to have to work on his demeanor.

Banner's north side was in great shape and Riverside wasn't too bad. The big bridge is back. I don't really know how, but its back.

It reminded me of Richard Chamberlin's shipwreck in Shogun.

I don't know why I thought of the old TV mini-series based on James Clavill's book, but it did. I remember watching it in elementary school and wanting to be a Samuari, bad. Me and the rest of the boys would battle (BONZAI!) with sticks during recess for the sake of Bushido. I should watch that show again to see if it stands the test of time.

On my 2nd of 3 laps I had the misfortune of encountering a wolverine heading in the opposite direction. No not this kind:

this kind:

A serious disagreement about trail right-of-way ensued. Unfortunately, for us both, it escalated to a throw down. Wolverines are tough customers so blood was spilt, but he finally succumbed to reason, along with upper cuts and left hooks.

At least that's how I think it went down....It was either that or I ran into this bunch of roughly broken off tree limbs that were hidden by the light/shade shadows and obscured by the low hanging branch...either way, I won (kinda, sorta, but not really).

Minor arm carnage.

Stupid wolverines.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

High Trestle and Trail Dog

Nick and I rode the Ankeny to Woodward (A2W) trail on Saturday. I guess its recently been renamed the High Trestle Trail for obvious reasons.

Its smooth pavement, complete with paved dirt road crossings all the way to the yet to be completed trestle bridge right outside Woodward. When its done (2010) this bridge is really gonna be something; 13 stories high, with an impressive view.
It was so nice with temps in the 70s that we decided to explore part of the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail too (Slater to Cambridge). This section was well manicured crushed rock and dirt path along with some brief chipseal pavement and some road, perfect for a cyclocross bike. After Cambridge it is "undeveloped". I'm going to have to check that out some time.
All together we rode just over 62 miles.
Sunday I took Trail Dog (aka Captain) out on a hike at Banner. I was wondering how overgrown the north trail would be, but it was not bad at all. It looks like its getting a fair amount of riding. It was a little rough on the ole pooch since we hadn't been out of awhile. I'll have to remember next time to ramp up to a place like Banner. You can almost see his butt dragging...

We still had a good time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What to Expect When You're Expecting, Dad Version

I have two friends who are both about to be new fathers. Of course, I have taken several opportunities to razz them about their impending doom…I mean soon-to-be blessing. Since I’ve had some fun at their expense it is only fair to balance it out with some fatherly wisdom.

Admittedly, my perception could be a bit…skewed. I am what the Bedouins call Abu el Banat, or “father of daughters”. In their culture these men are treated with the utmost kindness and respect for their burden is heavy…..Tell me ‘bout it.

Ok, so here’s what I’ve got:


Once you get past the fact they are letting you take another human being out of the hospital to keep, without a license or certification of some kind, you’ll be fine…kinda. Put those thoughts of a 90 day cash back return out of your mind, all sales are final. Buyer’s remorse is moot.

The basics (repeat frequently 24/7/365): feed ‘em, change ‘em, bathe ‘em, clothe ‘em, don’t forget where you put ‘em (that one is important) take pictures, pictures, pictures, drive ‘em all over to meet family. Prepare to carry bags and bags of everything you need everywhere you go. It would help to grow an extra set of arms. Turn your hip into a shelf to sit them on, cuz you’re carrying them everywhere.

Be prepared to draw attention from strangers everywhere you go. You’re a spectacle now. Tell the nice waiter or waitress you're sorry about the mess before you even order because you might forget later.

You know those people that say their dogs are their “babies”? Its best not to have anything sharp in your hand when you’re around them.

Don’t forget to smell baby’s head after a bath. That’s got to be the best smell ever.

Sleeping (and lack thereof) has to be mentioned here. I hope you’re not too attached to slumber. I'm sure you knew that, but here's something you might not be keen on and this is important --> If Mom is in the vicinity (make that the area code) don’t try to “catch a nap”, just don’t do it man. No matter how tired you think you are you can never be as tired as She. Don’t even try to sneak one in, somehow She can tell.

Sometimes it helps to have a big sister around...

other times it doesn't.

Money – oh so sorry, you’re poor now. The sooner you come to terms with it, the easier it will be. Despite the obvious efficiency, you can’t actually feed the kid money.


We do not bargain with terrorists is easy to say, hard to do.

If DANGER is point A and TODDLER is point B, how long do you think it takes for these points to intersect? You’re wrong, it’s faster than that.

Prepare for the “I DO IT MYSELF!” phase even if it takes them 20 minutes instead of 5 and you’re already 20 minutes late. I don’t know if you were punctual before, but you’re not anymore.

Mess – you've created a professional mess maker, a true artisan, and now you must deal with the consequences. I don’t know if you were a “clean freak” before, but that will surely be beaten from your psyche. It’s a war of attrition and my money is on the kid. Sometimes you just have to say eff it, let 'em messify, even if it is with paint.

Closely related to MESS is TOYS – you should probably just plan on moving out of your house, there’s no room for you anymore. You know those rooms you quaintly call other things like; living room, den, dinning room and master bedroom? That’s gone now. Its all "toy storage" or "children's annex".

Christmas is pretty awesome though.

Potty Training – Ugh, I haven’t the strength to describe….you’ll see. I will say I considered suing the makers of Diaper Genie for false advertising and really instilling false hope (this is especially sinister since hope is in such small supply).

The fact is that there’s no Genie that magically appears to change the diaper for you. That’s bull, all this thing does is twist up the garbage bag.

Don't forget to rake up a big pile of leaves and let 'em go to town.

Preteen and Teenagers

What the hell do I know? I’m Abu el Banat, I know that much.

Drama – what to wear, my hair, text, text, text, who said what about whom, you’re wrong, no you are, no you are, no….Dad, can we (insert an infinite number of things) I’mmmmm boooooored. Oh yes, there's drama.

Its a a bit of an allegory, but it goes a little something like this:

Occasionally the calamity is interrupted by a genuine act of kindness, moment of insight or other gesture that lets you know you might be doing something right. Blind squirrel, meet nut.

Report cards – the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Boys – Grrr. I know you. I was you. You get outta here.

Go on, git.

Its an uphill battle for sure, but the cool part is they make you realize that you can love someone more than you thought was humanly possible.

The End (and the Beginning).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Creatures of the Night

Nick, Corey and I went for a night ride at the Center on Friday. With temps topping out over 90 degrees during the day, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

We had tentatively planned on doing a 3 hour tour (a 3 hour tour) but since conditions were so perfect we ended up extending it to a 6 hour tour.

Why so long? Well, for one thing we were being really safe.

For another thing we took 20 minutes or more just to set up this shot. I don't think I'll be making a living as a nocturnal wildlife photographer anytime soon but I was able to wedge my camera between two trees for this shot.

If you haven't seen the bridge across Grey's Lake at night up close, you should. It is really cool.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm no Weatherman but...

I don't think they should ever forecast a 0% chance of rain.


This insight came to me this morning, as I was about to leave for work. I had finished my shower and walked into the other room to continue my beauty regimen (oh yeah). It sounded like my shower spontaneously came back on, but it was really the sudden deluge outside.

Great, I thought, the Taco Ride is toast.

I didn't think it was supposed to rain, so I pulled up They said there was a 0% chance of rain, which was as a matter of fact 100% wrong.

Don't you think there should be a minimum of at least 5% chance rain to account for the i-dunno factor?

This uncertainty principal is depicted here by the Underpants Gnomes of South Park

(sometimes its odd the things you talk about after a Taco Ride)

Speaking of Gnomes...Gnomefest is quickly approaching. It looks like a pretty good contingent of Iowa freaks will be headed north to the Land of Delicious Cheese (you might call it Wisconsin) to camp, ride, party, ride, party and repeat over a two day hippie dippy lovefest (not like-that, ya pervert).

I believe veteran of last year Billy "the stolen" Gnome will be making another run. Last time he had a bit of a rough go, so hopefully things work out better for him this time around.

I hear Gnomefest is a "singlespeed celebration" meaning if you bring a geared bike it might have something, like a peddle or a grip or a wheel, go temporarily missing overnight as Gnomes do not like gears (or gnears) at their Fest.

It is not wise to anger the Gnomes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I took that Boom Boom Pow

Funny how you come to think you're bullet proof on your home trail.

I was showing Nick my old stomping ground at Easter, including one of the downhill runs where you can get a little air off of some embedded roots in the trail. Sounds innocent enough...

I was going fast,

caught some good air...just like I said I would,

landed a little crooked,

felt the front tire flex....then pop of the rim,

Nothing to do now but hit the ground...hard.

The ground didn't move (funny that) but I bounced, rolled and skidded to a stop.

My water bottle flew 10 feet past me down the trail.

It hurt my:

(in rank order of ouchiness)

Inertia is stupid.

My helmet that was only slightly cracked is now...


It rang my bell.

Ding, ding, time to come in from recess. What's a matter Brian? "Oh, Ms. Whatsyername, I seem to have lost my mittens." "My mom said not to lose them". "Can you help me find my mittens?" "I have to be in when the street lights come on."

My mojo, Fez, said he was "sawright", which was nice for him.

I thought about keeping it my little secret from wife und kids, but ultimately knew my hobble would betray me.

I fessed up, showed her my shoulder which is missing some epidermis. She said, "and this is fun?"

She's used that line before, so I had a witty retort ready. I said,


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fez and the Purple Unit

Rigid single speed mountain biking is a subculture of a subculture. I mean, mountain biking itself is off the beaten path (by definition) but singlespeeding leaves any remaining path and dives headlong into the underbrush. You're damn-near Rambo. You and one cog against the cold world and its backward hillbilly police force.

"Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my war! You asked me I didn't ask you!

It’s an enclave, a brother(and sister)hood who seek a return to the minimalistic approach of tires on the ground, grips in the hand and a solitary gear v the wild. The burning in your legs and lungs, along with the throbbing in your hands and shoulders is your tuition to the eldest of skools.

My entry into this not-so secret society comes in the form of this beauty. A Kona Unit 2-9. I built her up custom with a White Brothers Rock Solid carbon fork, Easton carbon riser bars, Bontrager Duster Rims set up tubeless with Panaracer Rampage 2.35 tires. Thomson post and stem, Avid BB 7 brakes, Bontrager Race Lite 32t crankset and a Surly 18t cog. You can't tell from the picture but yes its even blinged with a PURPLE KMC chain. Oh yeah.

A couple of quick clarifications before we proceed:

1.No, a purple bike is not girly. Purple is the color of kings, of Gods, of the artist known, then formerly known, the re-known as Prince…..ok, forget that last one. Hey, what color is the medal they give to wounded soldiers?

I rest my case.

2.No, that is not a stuffed animal. It is a Mojo, a commonly used trail guide and karma protector of mountain bikers everywhere. Every Mojo is unique but this one, I feel, is exemplary. His name is Fez and he is both Co-Pilot and Cosmic Advisor. Our dynamic duo began when I noted that McDonalds Happy Meals were coming with Beenie Baby toys. I had one in particular in mind so off we went to Mickey D's. I asked the pimpley young man at the counter if I could "choose my toy." He had a puzzled looked but ultimately confirmed I could pick from their roster of plushness. Eagerly I said "I'll take Grimace." He's a fat, purple blob that likes cheeseburgers too much, it just seemed appropriate. Imagine my dismay when moments later he said, "We're out of the Grimace." Seeing my disappointment another lady behind the counter quickly said, "We have a purple monkey." After an extraordinarily brief comtemplation I said, "I'll take 'em" and our Butch and Sundance partnership was formed. In our few rides together I will check in with Fez periodically.

“Hey Fez, How ya doin’ down there?”
“Sawright” is all he ever says.

So far, he’s been right, it has been “sawright” but I am waiting for the day he answers, “Uh, not-so-gude”. In that event, we will stop immediately to rest and reassess. A canary in the coalmine is he.

3.Yes, technically it is my purple unit and it is a 9er. Ok ladies, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

4.Yes, if you ask me and Fez nicely chances are good that you can touch my monkey.

I have exactly 9 rides on the Grape Ape for which to contemplate this new uno gearo, no squishy shock thing. Its been to local haunts the Center

Peterson Pitts

McFarland Park


Lewis and Clark

and a little place I like to call The Stash.

The first thing you notice is the TOTAL POWER TRANSFER. If you put it into the peddles, you get it back out of the bike, there’s nothing lost in the bob of shocks or clicking of maladjusted gears. The second noticeable thing is what Nick calls IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK. That means when you jam into a corner or over a rise there isn’t any wondering what the shock will do. Unfortunately, it also means you hit it, you feel it – ALL of it. I do like the straightforwardness of it all. You either make it up that hill or you don’t, you pick the right line or you pay.

Fez and I ran into a ton of those pesky little green sticker bushes at Manawa....We'll be sawright.

As for my new singlespeed life, my back and neck is taking awhile to adjust to the beating I'm giving it, but I'll be sawright.