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El Paso has been getting GOOD rain!  Afternoon early season monsoons!  They make the trails freakin’ incredible.  You can rail turns without the kitty litter getting all slippery.  Last weekend it rained Friday and Saturday.  I was able to put in 3 huge rides.  This weekend I will have to miss out as I’m flying to Mississippi for some family business. 

Next week is exam week.  The last week of school!!!!  I should be able to get in some pretty good rides before heading out of town.

Money does grow on trees.

Today is my birthday.  I’m 39.  Not long into the workday, Jen sent me a text telling me to check this out.  Not something you really want to read on your birthday especially when not long before you read about this.  And a couple years ago there was this.  I remember Steve racing with this crazed mad look on his face in the short track at Deer Valley with blood dripping down his chin and onto his jersey and number plate.  I don’t think he won, but he sure tried.  Freakin’ hard core.  I think that was the year he got snubbed from the olympic team because he kept flatting in the big races.  He was usually up by over a minute.  What a bummer.

Is it because they pushed too hard?  Was it the stress of accumulated training?  Intervals?  Doping?  Travel?  Who knows?  I guess if I were to kick the bucket, I’d want a similar fate.  Either out doing what I love best, or dreaming big on the couch with drool running down my chin and my dog snoring contently under my feet.  Just let me go fast with no pain.

Enough of that.

Today’s my birthday.  I went to work just like any other normal day…on my bike with a big shit eatin’ grin on my face.  Less than 3 weeks until summer vacation.  Lots of kids quit doing work a few weeks ago and now they are failing.  Hopefully they won’t be in my class again next year.

Today was the BMBA Poker ride and Jen and I rode over the mountain to meet up with everyone.  It was cloudy and cool enough for arm warmers.

"The Elephant" from Smuggler's Canyon

"The Elephant" from Smuggler's Canyon

Then we railed down from Blue Rock….so fast that I caught a huge rock that put two sweet puncture wounds in my shin.  Yep…it left a mark.

two holes with one stone

two holes with one stone

Not actually hurting as bad as some others I've had.

Not actually hurting as bad as some others I've had.

The new BMBA socks came in this week.  I think we are selling them for $13 a pair.  They turned out really nice.

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The Poker Ride was a blast…other than the fact that you had to clean a bunch of sections to get a chip.   Ryan Cody won it with a full house.  There were 4 straights to take the other prizes.

Ryan Cody taking top honors.

Ryan Cody taking top honors.

My meager pair didn’t stand a chance.  I knew something was up when Ryan put back an Ace and a Jack.

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Adrian G. took home a sweet bottle of Boone’s Farm schnapps for his worst hand.  Why do I get the feeling that it might actually get consumed?

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Over the past couple of years, I’ve been pushing for more “epic” length trails in El Paso.  Robert Newman has helped my dream come true by linking up a lot of single track to form a loop around the Franklin Mountains that will be entirely inside the state park.  This loop will be about 75% single track with 2 mountain passes.  The final sections are now coming together.  Jen and I went out last weekend to hike the newest section.  He did a great job laying it out as it is much higher on the mountain than I expected it to be.  So the views are spectacular.  Hiking through the Franklins without trail is a nightmare.  I used a walking stick and my shoulders and neck have been stiff all week.  Jen’s calf got stabbed pretty good a couple times by lechugia.  Two miles of trail took us 4 hours to hike.

Here are some of the views from our hike.

Ridge line above north end of upper and lower sunset trails.  View is looking west.  Hitt Canyon is behind us.

Ridge line above north end of upper and lower sunset trails. View is looking west. Hitt Canyon is behind us.

A pretty view looking to the south.

A pretty view looking to the south.

This canyon behind me is going to be a cool place to explore during one of those all day rides.

This canyon behind me is going to be a cool place to explore during one of those all day rides.

We saw a bunch of these web traps.  Not sure what kind of spider this is and none of us were willing to stick a finger in there to find out.

We saw a bunch of these web traps. Not sure what kind of spider this is and none of us were willing to stick a finger in there to find out.

A lot of lechugia is going to have to be removed to clear this trail.

A lot of lechugia is going to have to be removed to clear this trail.

Near the junction with Hitt Canyon trail (the one used in the Puzzler) with a view to the east.

Near the junction with Hitt Canyon trail (the one used in the Puzzler) with a view to the east.

This is going to be an awesome trail, but it’s going to take many volunteer hours to get it finished in time for next year’s Puzzler.  Anyone who puts in time on this trail will definitely be rewarded with an excellent trail.

We were thoroughly impressed with Robert’s driving skills.  He took his jeep up Hitt wash past the trail.  He then came back and put his jeep on the edge of the wash at the trail junction.  For a video of him getting off the edge, click here.

Most of you who read my blog know that I’m not one of those bloggers that spouts a bunch of crap about their sponsors and shamelessly (or would it be shamefully) name drops every other sentence with some sponsor who gave them some piece of crap product that no one really needs.  Nor do I tout new products that I purchased with my own money at full retail hoping that I might get a discount from that company in the future.  But thanks to my genetic contributors, I wear a size 15 shoe.  So anytime I find shoes that fit, I spread the word to other big footers around the land.

Let me start with a bit of background.  I’m pretty much a “Big15” on a Brannock device (the measuring device you find in shoe stores).  My left definitely is on the line if not slightly over it.  My right is a little smaller.  My heel is pretty narrow and my instep is low.  My toes are a bit long putting my first metatarsal head slightly behind the natural bending point of a shoe.  I comfortably wear a size 15 in shoes from Vasque, Nike, and New Balance as long as nothing funny is going on like the pair size 16 of Nikes I got once that were made in Vietnam.   

I wear a size 51 in Sidi.  They are a bit roomy and I have to use an after-market insole….which most people my size use anyway.  I have a set of custom footbeds as well as several pair of Superfeet insoles.  They all take up a bit of volume in the shoe since my foot is thin….not narrow, but thin.  I don’t really like the Sidis available in that size as they are total noodles on the pedals.

I wear a 50 in Northwave.  I bought a few pair from Sierra Trading post long ago and still have 2 pair.  They run pretty long and fit really well, but they are a bit flexy on the pedals. 

Since both Sidi and Northwave don’t make anything in carbon larger than a 48, I ordered a pair of “stock 15” Rocket 7’s.  Very expensive.  They originally started as customs which were WAY too small.  Then I wound up with the “stock” model after some begging and pleading.  They are light, super stiff and have held up fairly well.  The lorica around the sides has taken a beating, but they are supposed to be super light race shoes.

Recenly Shimano released the M081 shoe up to a size 52!  This shoe has a ratchet buckle, 2 velcro straps, and a fiberglass reinforced sole.  So I ordered a 50 and 51.  I started with the 51’s by unleashing a 6.5 hour mountain bike hammer fest followed the next day by a stout 5 hour mountain ride.  The 51’s are a bit large.  My insoles slid back and forth in them and made my feet hurt a bit.  No blisters though.

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A week later (yes, I’ve turned into a weekend warrior), I rode in the 50’s.  My insoles still have a bit of wiggle room, but the toe box is distinctly smaller.  Every now and then I’d notice my left toe rubbing the end of the shoe…..and I was wearing traditional sock guy bike socks.  But I think I’m going to stick with these as they have the “race fit”.

The rubber sole is very sticky allowing for confident hike-a-bikes.  They even have the size molded in to them.  Downside is you can’t screw in toe cleats.  They also have the size of the sole stamped into them.  Different size soles for each size….some shoe companies use one sole length for a couple of sizes.  The stiffness is EXCELLENT!  I can actually feel the insoles “squish” when I stomp on the pedals whereas with my Sidi’s, the entire shoe would flex around the pedal.

P5150200   P5150201

The mesh in the toe is very breathable and my feet stayed cool in mid-90 degree temps.

My future concerns include tearing of the synthetic upper and shrinkage.  While I never had any problem with tearing of shimano shoes long ago when I wore a 13, these seem much more supple….maybe thinner.  And those old shimanos from years back shrank up on me.  I may soak them in water and take them on a long ride in the heat to see what happens.  Then I’ll soak them again and leave them in the 90+ degree heat we are getting and see if they shrink.  If they don’t, I’ll be ordering another pair of 50’s.  I’ll hang on to the 51’s in case my foot decides to grow again or I’ll use them as winter shoes.  Throw a little duct tape on the toe and you’re good to go!

The M086 is available up to a 52!! Wow.  I’d venture to guess that a small 17 or big 16 could fit into those.  The Euro mail order companies are selling them in bronze.  American companies are black and white.  If anyone finds any bronze size 50 here in the US, please let me know.  I want!  While these shoes are a bit heavy compared to carbon sole race shoes, they’ll work great for clydes and big foot racers around the land while saving you a ton of freakin’ money over a custom carbon shoe since retail is only around $100. 

shimano-m086-bronze

I passed on driving to Santa Fe for the La Tierra Torture (short track and XC) and I passed on going to witness lance and the other clowns tooling around Silver City so I could get in some big dirt miles. 

It was a smart idea to cache water on Thursday because it was hot this weekend.  In the 90’s, but windy.  So I looked like a giant salt lick.  Jen joined me for the first part of the ride and I crossed paths with her on my third time up Mundy’s Gap.  She was shelled and on her way home.

Here’s a google picture of Saturday’s ride.

55-mile-franklin-ride

55 miles total…6:25….a good pace considering I had to walk up the scree slope and the wind was a beeaawtch on my way home.

Wasn’t sure how I’d feel today, but had a good 4 plus hour ride with another trip up Mundy’s.  I think I’m in pretty good shape now.

For you dorks who like to see data, I’ll send you the HR, speed, and elevation data for $25.  Paypal fastmtnbiker@hotmail.com.