Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tuesday Night Racing

Pedal hard, turn left. It is really that simple. However, there is no guarantee that what one perceives as "hard" will be hard enough, especially when Ed decides to sandbag in the C category. 4/24/07 marked my third and first decent outing at the track, while it was Steve's first trip of 2007.

The picture above is just before the start of the final race of the night. On this particular night it happened to be the B,C 25 lap points race. Note that I am in first place, oh yeah!

There is no way to adequately explain how much fun racing and spectating at the track is. I encourage all young and old to come on down, it is free, and drinking is encouraged.

Back to the race, blistering pace from the get go, sprint laps every 5th lap, and prime laps just about every other lap. 26+ mph was the average speed for the race, as you can see, no camera could capture me without some blurring.

More posts to come, look for some action shots of the Steve very soon. B3 racing!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

San Juan Trail 4/22/07

What can I say dot dot dot full stop This was a ride for the ages full stop Pat needed help with his tire comma then his tire pressure full stop The ride started fantastically comma many switchbacks to the top comma followed by some sweet rutty downhill full stop We then did the loop proper comma followed by some sweet technical uphill full stop After a few gu apostrophe s comma we chinese downhilled to our heart apostrophe s content full stop The downhill was awesome comma except for the rescue helicopters looking for Pat apostrophe s weed stash full stop Back to the car in one piece comma followed by a sweet trip to a fish taco slash fish sandwich shop full stop A quick coffee and we were on our way full stop San Juan Trial is definitely a top 5 ride for the UCSD crew full stop

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Porcupine Rim, Take 1

Porcupine Rim's got something for everyone: technical climbing, fun scrambling, little hucks, big hucks, tough downhills, easy downhills, singletrack, sand, action photo ops, panoramic photo ops, precipitous drops, and the occasional quad-bruising root to fall on and fuck up your next few days of riding vacation that you've been daydreaming about for months.

Monday. First major ride of the week. The continental breakfast at the hotel leaves something to be desired, though Mota seemed to be pleased eating half a dozen donuts. The hotel provides THE worst coffee in town, since they seem to be the only ones making it from a can, while everyone else serves fresh, locally roasted coffee to order.

On to the ride ...

It's difficult to imagine riding to the trailhead from town and completing the loop. Even shuttling this ride is exhausting, so I have to put my shuttlers-are-wimps elitism on hold. It's definitely deserving of its reputation as one of the classic rides of the area. By "area", I mean Earth.

Kev and I each took a while to get all the cylinders firing, with our new, strange bikes and our respective broken ribs. Not to mention that it's rough having to warm up on a climb. So it was ironic when we all looked up to find the source of the "THUD --- GRRrrooooaannnnn" about 2/3 of the way up to the peak. Mike had crashed. Mike Morton, the shit-talker of shit-talkers, the bane of Pat's riding reputation and the principle perpetuator of all stories Pat-endo, had gone over his bars. None of us was ready to give him shit, though, because he had actually hurt himself, falling on a root that might have actually contributed to his trip over the bars. Such a fall so early in the first ride was not a good mood to set for a week of riding.
Nonetheless, he soldiered on and finished the ride, and then cursed me and Pat for taking too long to return to the foot of the trail with the car and pain remedies: a bucket of iced beer, a bag of ice, and a bottle of ibuprofen.

Pat, on the other hand, seemed to be unfazed. If anything he actually seemed charged up, like it was retribution or something. He stole Mike's Mojo and rode the hell out of it that day. It was a drastic change from his cramping up and nearly dying on the San Juan trail the week before. He made several passes at each photo op huck spot, going bigger each time. These performances even warrant redundant picture postings.

Last thing: we saw the biggest idiot on a bike in all of North America (at least, of those not already elected to office). Some dude, presumably a retarded local, passed us on the single track section with the huge exposure riding without a helmet. Keep an eye out for him in the Darwin awards, or in Congress. He looks like one of those kooks in the 70's ski movies with a bushy moustache and a sunburned scalp and the big blue blocker sunglasses, but he's on an red, unmarked full suspension ride.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Steve and Mike's first Crit

Fast, is the only way to describe the race today. 40 minutes of pedaling hard and turning right, Steve and I are used to turning left when pedaling hard, so we were at a distinct disadvantage.

The average speed over the race was 24 mph. The course was .9 miles and mostly flat, but with a nasty headwind, which seemed to blow harder when we were riding into it than when we had it at our backs.(I believe this is typical wind behavior)

No podium finish for either of us, but ample servings of humble pie were available.

Klondike Bluffs

Sunday afternoon Kev, Steve and I headed off for a quick warm up ride before calamity Pat arrived. Little did we know that Pat would leave most of his calamities at home(except for his penchant for taking trail dumps). Kev picked up a sweet rental bike and we were off. The trail started with about 3 miles of gentle climbing on fire road. We then veered to the left and hit a relentless patch of sand. The 29'er Steve was on seemed to cut through the sand the best, or was it because Steve lacked the mass necessary to sink in the stuff? Clearly, Kev and I sank like rocks(probably due to our massive biceps and quads). Some sweet slickrock and moderately technical climbing followed, culminating in a sweet view at the top.

The descent was without incident, until the final 3 miles of fire road were "chinese downhilled"! Kev, in the wake of crashing his new car, wisely sat this one out. Steve and I raced to the death, and for the first time in my life, I drafted off of someone while mountain biking. Steve, ultimately, was no match for "Mota Morton" as I raced like mad for about 10 minutes longer than I needed too. The win rang hollow, as I realized I had won nothing other than a case of very sore legs.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Long and winding road

The dreaded automobile red-eye. Steve and I thought it would be a good idea to leave San Diego at midnight, with the hopes of arriving in Moab early enough to have lunch and get a ride in before dark. Missions accomplished, but not without some danger. First, Steve played some Alanis Morrissette on his ipod, which almost put me in a coma(a car crash in Victorville is never a good thing). Second, Steve's rhythmic snoring, unlike Forber's chaotic log sawing(to be discussed in a later post) contributed to some tense moments in the pre dawn hours in St. George. After a delicious McGriddle in Cedar City we were getting our second wind. Steve took over somewhere on I-70, "the I-70" if you are from so-cal. A rest stop/ vista caught our attention, that and the finely tuned machines(known as our legs) needed a stretch. As stated earlier, a safe arrival in Moab was had. We had better driving luck than the doctor that week. . .

Sunset at Arches

End of the journey. We spent the last afternoon watching the last rays of the afternoon slip away in Arches National Park, while sipping the last of our imported beer. On the road again all too soon. But the team will be back, no doubt about that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The 5/805 merge at 4:30pm, or Amasa Back?

Ahem. Jeep week. F$@# Jeep week. For that matter, F$@# jeeps.

One cool thing about it, though ... the local merchants and baristas seem much happier to see you, a mountain biker, than they likely would be during any other week. I overheard several locals' conversations about Jeepers parking their trailers on sidewalks, constantly revving their loud monstrosities, clogging parking lots, and behaving generally obnoxiously (and stupidly). My guess is that mountain bikers are more warmly welcomed during Jeep week because they're not Jeepers -- they're rather the lesser of two weevils -- but without the Jeepers there in high numbers the mountain bikers might be the obnoxious guests filling the stories.

But I gotta say that the Moab locals are pretty damned cool.

Moving on ...

Wednesday we rode Amasa Back, and got stuck in traffic. Lots and lots and lots of traffic. Yup. Traffic on a mountain bike ride. (That sounds so L.A.) On several occasions we got to stand by while the Jeeps filed through the tough sections, one-by-one. And there were looooooots of Jeeps. The larger the group of Jeeps, the longer they take on a trail. It's so awesome that we were there at the same time!

The lesson learned is that, during any week, there may be little difference in what trail you ride -- you just go for what you fancy on any particular day. But during Jeep week, there is no question at all: don't even bother with the Jeep-accessible trails. Stick to single track and closed or otherwise impossible-to-navigate-with-four-wheels parks (like Slickrock or Bartlett).

Anyway ...
The Amasa Back ride starts with THE STEPS. or THE STAIRCASE. or something. Aaaaand wouldn't you know it, I didn't get any pictures of that part (maybe Mike did), which turned out to be the only remaining part of the ride that still deserves its notoriety, since all the other sections (e.g. Humbucker) have been trampled, dug out, blasted, or otherwise flattened and tamed. Not that this is always a bad thing, though. "Death on the left" is one of an obvious set of warnings that should be taken seriously, and the newly tamed line that Humbucker offers is still kind of fun, but without the high peril. Though, to be fair, I never had the opportunity to ride Amasa in its original, truly terrifying form. And the steps are right at the beginning. As a newbie I was not anticipating having to be so ready to charge so early. Steve likes his long warm-up.
One more note about "Death on the Left": If you can look past the death, the scenery is pretty spectacular. Here's a shot from Mike of Kev and me near the top of Humbucker:

Not a whole lot more to say from my end. As with all rides in the area, the views were truly amazing.

And to send this point home, a couple more pictures from the same, gorgeous, Jeep-free overlook at the top of Amasa.

Pat points out how amazing it is to see snow-capped peaks on a hot, red, dry desert day.

And then I strike a rigid pose ...

It was at the top where Kev relayed his story of passing by one Jeep occupied by a fat, fat man smoking a cigarette. Said occupant queried, "So when's the part where you have a heart attack?" The irony just drips deliciously ... so rich and smooth.

I know Mike took a few pictures on this ride, too ... ones with the whole crew, and from different spots. Hopefully we'll see those soon, and hopefully he'll have more to add, especially since he was one of the seasoned Moab MTB veterans.

The second ride that day was the Slickrock Practice Loop. I know that I was a weenie that day. I remember just feeling totally exhausted, but thinking back I can't figure out why, as both the Amasa and Slickrock rides are relatively short (the Practice Loop, anyway). Funny that. I know part of it was the crooked dagger that I had in my lower left back those first few days and the horrible discomfort of riding over hard, non-smooth surface like slickrock.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bartlett Wash (according to sdl)

I'm sure the other 3 riders for Team Ücktard will have far more interesting things to say about this ride ...

On Thursday Kev, Pat and Mike hit Porcupine again in the morning. I took that ride off and instead went to the Red Rock Cafe and abused the WiFi while I got completely wired on their locally roasted coffee (the hotel was the only place with bad coffee -- everyone else in town seemed to be trying to make up for their bad beer with excellent joe). But the second ride of the day was a fun session at Bartlett Wash, which is basically a slickrock playground with countless spots that get unbelievably steep unbelievebly quickly. Best to watch where you're going. Lots of fun little lines and drops and ups and such that can entertain weenies like me, too.

Several businesses in town had racks of these free (?) postcards, one of which featured some dude hucking off this huge ledge with a big rock mushroom nearby. We found that spot easily (essentially the farthest slickrock point visible) on the ride in, and Mike stopped to ponder life and when he would score his next beer with more than 3.2% alcohol content and at least 30 ibu's while he took in the scenery and waited for me to get the damned camera ready.

I learned quickly that there are 2 major types of slickrock, easily identified by their visible texture. It turns out that they're also easily identifiable withOUT looking at them just by riding over them with a cracked rib ... on a hardtail. Here's how: put on a blindfold. Ride. The smooth, buttery feeling means you're riding on slickrock that looks like the stuff on the left, with the parallel layers and the appearance it was combed before church. The feeling that your spinal discs are popping out in all directions and your ribs are turning into a game of pick-up-sticks as your taint is hammered with a seat-shaped mallet means you're on the second type along the right edge, which looks like it was mud that an army of children trampled through before it solidified. It would be monumentally stupid to ride at Bartlett or Slickrock with a blindfold, but you get the idea. I ended up deflating my rear tire (hard-tail) to try to get a little more cushion. I wish I'd thought of this sooner, but I also wish that I'd remembered to re-inflate before riding Sovereign Trail. Flatting on a 29er really tests your bike karma, since basically nobody rides one and therefore nobody has spare tubes to offer you. More on that soon. Here are a few sample seconds of that silky smooth slickrock riding ... I filmed while riding one-handed till I came to a seam and panicked, so it's a short video.

Kev, Pat and Mike were pretty tired that night, mostly from Porcupine, but I could actually tell that they were a little flat even while at Bartlett. Now, riding with me is kind of like golfing with a total hack (e.g. golfing with me), in that my terrible game totally rubs off and your riding is going to suffer. I did work up to trying a few little silly lines, but I think that if they were filmed or photographed it would have looked totally lame. I'll one day post some sample videos of me hucking off some pretty sick curbs in my neighborhood to give you some idea.

I say this, because viewing videos of mountain biking is deceptive. When done well, feats look easy and insignificant, while they are probably death-defying and ludicrous in reality. Take, for example, the Toilet Bowl at Bartlett Wash. A certain other Youtube video shows three guys riding down into it, and you have to pay careful attention to notice that they're 1. riding their brakes the whole way, and 2. pushing their chests down on their saddles, they are pushing their weight back so far. When Team Ucktard arrived at the Toilet Bowl, it proved to be too mind-blowingly steep for any of us to try. The 2D projection of this 3d insanity hardly does it justice, but a couple of the other shots from AROUND the toilet bowl might give some idea of what an insane drop off it is. Though, it's even deceptive from the top. At one point Mike suggested it might be a good idea to hook left about half way down and skip the bottom half. The line he was talking about is visible -- it's the one that sweeps into the lower right corner of the picture at a 45deg angle. Not the kind of escape route you'd like to have to rely on.

Kev gazes into the mind-fuck of a steep line from the bottom ...

... while Mike and Pat seem to circle the drain above.

Uh-oh. Kev gets flushed.

But we all managed to survive and take in some of the many, many gorgeous views (a common theme to these rides). repeat picture, i know.

I have more videos from Bartlett, but they're rotated by 90deg. Quicktime has the capability to fix this, but you have to upgrade to the PRO version (i.e. $$), so I'm seeking other methods.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

meet the team

Air Morton, of San Diego, CA (the face says it all):
You'll be seeing a lot of this guy around the San Diego cycling scene, though most of the time his tires ought to be glued to either the track or the road. Look for Mikey on the San Juan trail, at the crit series, the Tuesday night races, or cranking out repeats up the Torrey Pines Bump as a bed-time wind-down. Expect big things.

Dr. Kev, or RUFDAWG (-y-dawwwwawwawwawwg) of Denver, Co, tucked tight and bombing:
They don't just call him "Dr." for the degree, folks. Who needs steep ups when you can tuck like a GS-er down Porcupine with a cracked rib? Sorry ladies, he's taken.

Steve ... just Steve, from perpetual student universe in San Diego, covering brakes and dropping his front wheel, just to show that he can get away with it:

As he loafs towards his degree in Physical Oceanology, you'll find Steve in the slipstream of Mike, just before the bell-lap. Then look for him at the finish line. He'll be the guy in first. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP ... shit. time to get up already?

And from Irvine/Boston/San Diego/Denver/Sydney, meet Dr. Huck, a.k.a. the Grandmaster Pat, a.k.a. M.I.P. ...
Pat was under threat of never getting the respect he deserved with his PhD, until he found his groove at Moab'07. It would do one well to learn from the professor. "Hey Mike, can you buy me some beer?"

Most of the crew, at Bartlett wash ...

season kick-off

welcome to the 2007 season, team ücktard!

hopefully with moab 2007 we've seen the end of injuries (2 cracked ribs, 1 sub-something-or-other femoral yadda-yadda hematoma, and a few egos) and only the beginning of successful riding and imbibing (>3.2%abv). in that order.

i thought we could try this blog as a site to exchange glory shots and maybe videos, so that we can absorb each others' pieces as bandwidth and schedules allow, and document a few of the precious moments into eternal hilarity as blog posts. i see an entry titled "tables turning: forber watches morton endo".

let me know what you think, and maybe pass it on to eric and tim. pass it along to significant others at your discretion, and remember whose others talk to who-else's others, eh?

if this doesn't work, i'm open to ideas.