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Single speed enduro guru Dejay Birch has announced the date for th 2008 Single Swizzle.  The 50 or so that participated last year will all tell you that it is a single speed experience not to be missed.  Jen finished it in 4:20 and this year it’s supposed to be a lot longer.  There was a limit on the field size last year, but we’ll see what Dejay has in store for ’08.  I sat out ’07 with the dog nursing my knee injury, but took part in much of the post race festivities….cheap pizza and good beer!

Saturday I completed my longest mtb ride yet.  Though my wife keeps telling me the 10 hour ride we took way back when on the Wasatch Crest was the longest, I still don’t think it had the distance as we spent about a third of that day hike-a-biking. 

So the Zuni 100…then 86er…finally decided to be 83 miles.  That distance is according to my bike computer (which was calibrated with my gps and the Chupacabras) and Troy M’s gps.  Ride time 8:02, total time 8:31.  My goal was 8:30.  So I’m pleased.  I flatted once, stopped to add some air once, stopped to chat to lots of riders who were doing the 43er….or whatever distance it was…, stopped to chat to guys on the 83er who missed one of the side loops, and ate a decent pile of pasta soaked in soy sauce while back at camp at the half-way point.

Total singletrack was about 76 miles.  When I say singletrack, I mean SINGLETRACK.  Not old doubletrack now converted or grown into single track, but pure singletrack.  The course was ridden in both directions.  The trails in McGaffey are what I call “fat man” trails.  They don’t have a lot of sustained climbing and most of the climbing consists of middle ring spins out of washes and mellow switchbacks up stuff that should just go straight up.  Granny gear not required.  Very single speed friendly. 

If my SS was more comfortable, I would have given it a go.  But the comfort and second nature feeling of my Racer-X made my choice easy.  It’s my “go to” bike, so I felt it deserved the a good hard ride through lots of singletrack.

If you’ve never ridden the Piedmont of the Carolinas in late fall or winter, and you live out west and don’t see the need to go east, then ride the trails at McGaffey outside of Gallup, NM.  You’ll get the same feeling with less humidity and higher altitude.  There’s lots of packed sand and pine needles just like the piedmont except the species of pines are different.

Despite a serious lack of organization, lots of people showed up to support Gallup Trails 2010 (though I didn’t know it was a gathering to benefit 2010 until later), listen to several bands, camp in a beautiful little canyon, hang out with a couple of America’s top mountain bikers, drink some good beer, and ride lots of trails.  My dog was happy, Jen was happy, I was happy.  I didn’t see any sad faces until we left. 

Here’s the homebrew contest.  I actually got some suckers to drink my 2 year old porter.  My camera sucks…especially at night.


This is me post ride trying to explain to Dara why I’m such a salty sweater.  Not like the sweater you wear, but sweat.  Just look at the picture, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

after the ride

I lost count of the number of barbed wire fences I climbed over and crawled under, and I lost the trail about a dozen times. No one got lost, just off track.  My cue card system worked well.  When I finished, some guys asked if they could take a picture of the cockpit of my bike with the cue card taped to it.  They thought it was super cool.  I didn’t even look at it on the way back, but the first lap’s card had mileage and it was referenced a few times.

If you are a fast rider, my suggestion is to buy the Gallup Waypoints trail book and ride on your own.  There are a few fast guys in town…..Jack, Pete, and some others.  But the average Gallupiun will only get through about a 1/4 of the trails out there in a day and they like to stop a lot.  Jen and Dara rode almost half the trails in a loop fashion that incorporated Hwy 400 in less than 3 hours.  They are fast, but they were being girls and having fun that day.  I’m glad they didn’t do the big ride as they probably would have schooled me.

Yesterday’s Chupacabras 100km in Juarez, Mexico was one of my best.  After making it through a bunch of absolutely retarded crashes and trying to figure out why all the tiny Mexicans half my size wanted to be in front of me or beside me, I made it to the turn around without harm.  I couldn’t believe some of the shenanigans on the way out. 

Right after we started heading back west, a group of about 15 or 20 rolled off the front and I was sitting back in about 50th.  I roll up next to Scott Romero and asked him how many were in the lead group.  He told me and I asked him WhyTheF did they get away and WhoTheF let them get away.  Sheez. 

Well,  after making it through a few miles of high speed double track, we popped back out on the levee and I tried to get a double paceline together.  Turns out all the roadies are doing the Tour of Chihuahua, so teaching 10 mexicans how to double paceline was my mission of the day.  I kept yelling, “Dos lineas!  Trabaje!”  Well, we got two lines, but the line that was supposed to be pulling off would never stay close enough to the pulling through line and it was all f’d up.  After about 20 minutes of that crap, we rolled up on the lead group.  They were sitting up!

Cool, I was the second rider across the railroad tracks….freakin’ nightmare if you are in a group….and got into an awesome group with the two Italians (eventual 1st and 2nd), Tinker, McCalla, dude name Scott from Trek grassroots (top 5 last year), the Turbo boys, and some other Mexicans.  We made it off the levee unscathed and headed up a wash/road/neighborhood.  Trippy seeing cars parked in a wash.  The Italians and the Turbo boys said seeya and dropped the piss out of the rest of us.

I was climbing great with Tinker, Scott, and McCalla, but I got caught up between some fence posts and a gap formed that I didn’t want to close.  Seeya guys….been nice riding with you.  So I was by myself up to the Christo and ended up getting back with a Mexican guy after the Christo.  We worked together pretty well until he flatted. 

So it’s mile 30 and I’m already starting to cramp. Freakin’ hamstrings.  I went halfway through my food and water and I took a bunch of water from the support crews before the Christo.  Cramping should not have been happening that early.  I was in the top 10 before the first hike-a-bike.  I felt much better pushing my bike.  Santiago and I put a gap on the rest of the local expertos and I pinned it over the top and down the first long descent.  I put a good gap on Santi, but lost it as I stared at a huge pool of water below the chapel.  It was like one of those mud pits they use in the tractor pulls you see on ESPN or Spike TV.  Did I have to ride through that thing?  Some old lady waved me around the side of it.  Whew.  That looked disgusting.  I was cramping again so I took a banana and more water and Santi and I headed up the long single track to the Asphyxia climb (flankerdog has some great pics here).  We were working really well together.  I was riding way more stuff than he was and I felt good despite hamstrings that felt like they were going to pop.  We were almost halfway up the asphyxia, I’m still riding, and my tire got cut. 

I lost three places while putting in the tube.  I caught one guy on the way down the big descent and I never saw him again until the finish.  I managed to make it through the slum without breaking down like I usually do…..something about having kids in a slum cheer for you and knowing that the bike you are riding is more than their family will earn all year….and hit the levee with plenty of strength.

I was able to climb the rock wall with no issues, got lots of cheers, grabbed some more water, and rolled into the finish in 12th place.  Awesome!  My second best finish ever and the race is easily twice as large as it was when I finished 10th in 2003.  Someone told me 3800 pre-registered but that includes the kid’s race, the spinnathon, and an archery event.  So maybe about 2800 real Chupa participants.

Half an hour later, Jen rolled in.  First female!  She was stoked.  38th overall.

We grabbed our loot…..another sweet jersey and full-zip to boot….and rolled back across the Rio. 

McCalla got 5th, Tinker 6th or 7th, and Santiago 11th.  Scott from Trek and one of his buddies were also in the top 10.   Not a bad day for the Americanos.  If Damian or Jens had shown up, we may have had the first gringo winner since Sager.

I drank 100oz from my camelbak, 7 bottles of water/cyto, and drank from at least 5 other bottles handed up to me.  I ate one banana, 4 gels, 3 Clif Z bars, and 5 salt tabs.  It’s never enough.

I started my GPS about 6 or 7 miles down the road from the start…bonehead move….but check it out here….

 Why can’t the Bush administration do anything right?  Sheeez. 

And it goes to show that the NSA’s Carnivoure system isn’t that great.  I guess that’s what you get when you put a bunch of not so educated army privates in front of a computer screen.

This year I’ve got my crap together for the Chupa.  Goals?  None…other than making sure the 29er is comfortable enough for the Zuni 86.  Just have a good time and ride fast.  The best I’ve done was 10th, but it’s a different race now.  Big teams with the fast Central and South Americans combined with a few old pros from the north, and it’s a freakin’ burner.  Since it has so much flat road, I can’t really call it a mountain bike race.  If you can run fast and pin it into the wind with a train of 80 or so riders, you’ll have a good race.  If not, you’re back there with the other 2, 420 or so. 

My first year I finished 50th or something.  I had a huge hole in my knee and a pretty good tear in my achillis tendon.  I rode with Jen most of the race and had a great time.  Since then I’ve pinned it to stay at the front and I usually finish with my legs cramping severely.  This year I just want to finish strong and have fun.  Maybe 50th won’t seem so bad. 

Tinker is supposed to come back after getting his butt kicked last year.  It’s supposed to be hot on race day, so maybe he’ll do well as he is a skinny dark skinned guy with a much more equatorial genotype than a gringo like me.

UTEP is finally getting a club together that may one day morph into a cycling team.  Some of my younger classmates stepped up as leaders and formed the Miner Endurance Training and Sports Club.  So far we have about 5 runners, 4 roadies, 2 mountain bikers, and a couple of tri-geeks.  We are starting our recruiting drive this week.  If you know anyone that goes to UTEP and is into those obscure outdoor endurance sports, have them contact me.

 Unless something strange happens this week, don’t expect another post until after Chupa. 

Once again, I heard the whispers and even a few shouts related to my continued foray into the dark world of the SS.  Dark world my ass.  The dark world is road racing in Europe.  SS is all about choosing the right gear for the course, killing your knees, and keeping it light.  Having raced bikes of all sorts since the age of 5, you’d think my first SS race would have been years ago.  Being 6′5″ prevents me from just going to the bike store and buying a $600 dollar bike with one gear and big wheels.  Since I need custom to get something that I’m not going to break or is not going to break me, I have a pretty sweet machine.  And when does handicapping yourself with one gear mean that that you’re sandbagging?  Give me a break.  SS is one of the toughest cycling experiences I’ve ever had…and it’s pretty fun.

So all you fairies with your mary bars, stop the whining.  Put on the big meat and push harder.  Just don’t call me a sandbagger.  A five minute win in a 2 and half hour race isn’t that comfortable of a cushion, but being only 13 minutes off the geared pro…..that was awesome.  I probably raced as fast on the single as I would have on the geared. 

While up in the booming metropolis of Gallup, I previewed some more of the trails for the Zuni 100.  There are going to be some lost mofrackies out there for that one.  It’s strange how a place that gets so much riding from the locals is kept so secret.  My experiences with the Gallup locals has been anything but mountain biker friendly.  I’ll expound on that more someday. ….maybe to whoever linked this shit to the nmes page.  Ha!  It’s really interesting that a trail book has super descriptive explanations of the trails in the McGaffey area, but when you get there, it seems like no one wants you to ride them.  The trail heads are almost invisible save for a few small stones, an old piece of flagging, or a barbed wire fence held apart by a stick.  If you are trying to find Mike’s Rippin’ or the Tampico Loop, have fun.  You’ll find them, but you better have some trail blood hound in you.  Once you are on the trails, they look 3 times as used as the trail head and there are cairns every 30 feet.  Also, watch out for the barbed wire fence right in the middle of some of the descents.  Are you guys up there sure these trails are legal?  Maybe that’s why they aren’t signed. 

Oh well.  At least the map is good and when you do find the trails, they are pretty rippin’.  I’m looking forward to a fun time up there and maybe all the extra traffic will work in those trail heads!