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This past weekend I chose to skip our local 12 hour race to join the freaks in AZ for Dejay Birtch’s birthday party ride, AKA SSAZ.  This was my third and by far the best one yet.  Dejay surprised us all with a shuttle partway up Mt. Lemon so we could ride Bug Springs.  After instructions, a hundred or so riders took off up the road for a couple of miles before linking up with the trailhead.  I hung out in the top 5 or so and then we hit dirt….which went up…which meant everyone was walking…..or running in the case of some little guy with a 99% carbon full rigid rig with really narrow bars.  AZT honch Dr. Kurt Refsnider was hot on his heals and I sat back in 10th or so, waiting to warm up.  Bugs was awesome and I only dabbed in a couple of spots.  Not bad for never having been on that little beast.

After Bugs we crossed the Catalina Hwy to hit the AZT down to Prison Camp.  That section was fun and still had plenty of gnar.  When I reached the parking area at Prison Camp, I shed some clothes and tried to eat something.  Crossing the highway again we headed up to Molino Basin.  As soon as the trail got a bit techy, I saw a dropped Luna bar…nuts over chocolate…opened up but not bitten into with no dirt or ants on it.  Score!  Turns out it belonged to my buddy Mark who I eventually caught on the climb.  Thanks buddy.  It was delicious.  The decent down Molino was tougher than I remember and Mark got around me there and proceeded to school everyone in the vicinity.  After that, there was a bit of climbing mixed with techy mixed with 2-track.  I stomped a couple of climbs and found myself around 3 or 4 other riders.  I grabbed a cookie in the comfort station and headed up Bolletello Rd. to hook up with Reddington Rd.  While climbing the Bolletello, the flyweight on the 99% carbon bike came around me.  He must have gotten lost somewhere.  Eventually I made it to Reddington Rd and headed down to Chivas.  I didn’t see many tracks and doubted my route finding, but I got to Chivas without being run over or shot.

Chivas was hammered with recent rains and of course anyone with a lift kit and 4×4 thrashes the hell out of that section.  I caught flyweight again who claimed he was fixing a flat and then he passed me when I stopped for a bottle that flew out of my King Ti Cage.  The route eventually took us to the secret stash and I soon found myself looping through the woods with Robin from Grand Junction.  Headed up the sandy wash, I only saw two or three tracks in front of me.  Seriously?  Dudes must have dropped or taken wrong turns…..or stopped for bowls in the woods somewhere.

Back on the AZT, I eventually crossed Reddington again with Robin not far behind.  I was far enough ahead of him that I did solo gate duty as I didn’t see him after I got them opened.  Eventually he caught me on some descending and we rolled into the comfort station again where I made myself a nice mixer with Hornitos and 7Up.  It warmed me nicely.  I had to walk/jog about 50 yards down the wash to my bike where it had been transported by a helpful party goer.  Apparently there were only two riders ahead of us…Kurt and the flyweight.  Pleased as punch to be kind of at the front, I made my way into La Milagrosa….where my slight buzz from the tequila did not help my flow at all.  I walked more than the other two times I had been down it.  I tried to take in some of the views and not think about how tired my arms were.  At just over 4.5 hours and 42 miles, I rolled into the party/finish as the fourth finisher, signed in, and grabbed pizza.

The rest of the evening consisted of  catching up with friends, watching finishers try to find the sign in sheet, eating lots of pizza, checking out the grounds of the host’s estate, playing with the kiddo and the dog, eating more pizza, checking out some seriously amazing bikes, enviously staring at a titanium bong whose owner had a huge canister of medicinal marijuana, and trying to find something in the prize stash that would fit me.

Once again Dejay hosted an amazing ride with the raddest crew of riders around…..some who finished well after sunset.  This course had the most gnarly descending of any event I’ve ever done in the least amount of mileage.  I’d almost say it was too much gnar per mile, but then that might make me seem like a pussy….which I kind of categorized myself as since I ran a 32×21 and was kicking myself for not running at least a 21….or as the Back of the Pack Racing crew says…32xFU or 32xYM….or something like that.  I carried too much food and water and wished I had run a full sus rig like I did the last time I rode this thing.

Sorry for no pics.  If you want to see pics, go to Facebook.  I didn’t take any and I don’t feel like stealing pics and trying to credit the correct folks.

If you are wondering why I chose this over the 12 Hours of Old El Paso, I have several reasons.  1.  I’ve won the overall solo (on a SS) twice and took 2nd the first time I did it when Adam Hoppe beat me on a geared bike.  2.  The 12 Hour was never officially announced until several months after Dejay announced SSAZ.  3.  I just couldn’t bring myself to ride laps around Lazy Cow and Mad Cow when I knew a record 13 or 14 laps on that stuff wouldn’t come close to providing the amount of gnar the SSAZ course dished out in less than 45 miles.  4.  It’s SSAZ.  I got another patch and a few lessons on how to ride the gnar! ….and there were stacks of really good pizza.

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Back in 2008 I thought I was going to attempt Tour Divide.  I figured I’d kit up the Racer X and hit it, but I had never done any bikepacking and I was still ripping fast in XC races, so I put that idea behind me and never really thought about it again until a couple of years ago when I did the AZT 300 and CTR.  I thought, “No way in hell would I do TD…..too much road.  Yuck.”  Then I started Nuke Sunrise and I started thinking about things I’ve accomplished….and haven’t.  TD was back on top of the list.

At the start of last summer, I made the decision that 2014 would be my year for TD…..northbound as it would be stupid to fly my ass up to O’Canada just to ride back home to a place I prefer to escape every summer.  Soon after making the commitment, I contemplated a new ride.  I really wanted to do it on a Fargo style rig since JP’s last attempt was done on one and he mentioned that he had no hand issues during or after…..something I’ve been battling for a couple years.  So I looked up some of my favorite frame builders….and saw that Walt Wehner of Walt Works had moved to Salt Lake City where I was visiting at the time.  I made arrangements to meet up with him and I gave him a deposit….a whopping $200.  Just before my Christmas break, he started building my frame….a severely upsized Fargo.

bb fargasmo almost finishedheadtube  main triangle ???????????????????????????????  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

orange frameSo all these build shots made their way into email and I was really hoping to have this beast ready to roll by the time I left for South Carolina, but that didn’t happen.  It  didn’t show up until a couple weeks ago.  I got it built that night (despite over an hour spent rummaging for all the parts I needed) and rode it the next day to Mundy’s Gap….a burly rock fest of  a climb.  I cleaned everything up and down and was thoroughly impressed with the short stays and general fit.   The ride down was a hoot on running a Knard 3.0 up front on the fat bike fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ditched the Knard after one commute.  Those things are tanks and I really am thinking speed.  I think I can achieve plenty of comfort with a carbon fork and maybe 2.3’s front and rear.  I think I may even ditch the Moxey post…..mainly so I can more easily run a seatbag.  This bike is so comfy that I really don’t think I’m going to need it.  I’ve got a Thomson on the way.  I’ll put some miles on it to make sure.  The Selle Anatomica is pretty sweet.

Eventually I got this thing made.  What a freakin’ puzzle.  Now I need to start working on the tanks that will bolt on to the top tube….and ride more.

frame bag

 

 

 

 

 

I also bought this bad boy.

dyno wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s a Shutter Precision thru-axle dynamo hub.  I had it laced up in less than an hour to a Velocity Blunt SL (420 grams).  This will be the first blunt I’ve ever rolled…..seriously.  I’ll be charging batteries with this bad boy so the only batteries I’ll have to purchase will be AAA Energizer Lithiums to power my Spot….which I don’t plan on using 24/7 like other racers.

So here’s a run down of the build:

Walt Works frame

Salsa Enabler Fork (will upgrade to Niner RDO carbon TA fork)

Chris King headseat

DT Swiss 240 S rear hub w/ Stan’s ZTR355 rim

WTB SS rear hub w/ Stan’s 355 rim on the fat bike fork (will upgrade to SP Dynamo TA on Blunt SL rim)

Shimano Ultegra front shifter/brake lever

Shimano 105 10 speed rear shifter/brake lever

TRP Spyre cable discs w/ Yokazuma cables

Shimano XT 9 speed rear derailleur (new 10 speed dynasys won’t work with 10 speed road shifters)

Shimano XTR front derailleur

Truvativ X9 180mm cranks (28/42 rings)

Crank Bro’s Candy SL pedals

Sram 1050 10 speed cassette

105mm generic stem (upgrading to Syntace 100mm stem)

Salsa Woodchipper bars

Lizard Skins 2.5mm thick bar tape on with one layer of fake cork foam tape under the “tops”

KMC chain

Moxey Pro seat post

Selle Anatomica X seat

As for tires….right now I’m using some old WTB semi-slicks.  For TD, I’ll use something like the 2.35 Kenda Slant 6 or the 2.3 Maxxis Ikon.  Those are a bit bigger than what most guys run, but I do want some comfort on all that washboard.

Currently, my during the week training consists of riding it like this.

loaded with racksSome days it’s well over 50 lbs.  This pic was taken when I was at a text book fair.  I took home a crapload of books ($$$) and I could really feel it back there.  Good training for sure.

I’ll post more after I get the new fork.  I ordered an orange one, but when I pulled it out of the box, I saw it wasn’t even close to matching and Jen thought it was pretty lucky.  So I’m sending it back for a black one.  It will drop some weight for sure.  I’m more curious as to how it will feel.  I’ve never ridden a carbon mountain fork and my road bike fork is 14 years old so I really have no idea how it’s going to feel.

 

 

Background – Last summer I made up my mind that I wanted to do the Colorado Trail Race on my singlespeed.  Not having done any bikepacking or ultra racing, I was going to try to put together a 300 mile adventure east of El Paso through the Cornuda’s and the Guadalupe National Forest.  I purchased a sewing machine and spent a lot of time making bags for my bike and buying a new GPS and Spot tracker.  Time flew by and the Guadalupe trip never happened.  I also needed a sleeping bag, pad, and puff jacket.  More time whipped by and next thing I know it was mid-Spring and I needed to make a decision quick.  I thought I’d try an individual time trial (ITT) on the AZT 300 course but figured I’d learn nothing doing it by myself.  So I got permission for some vacation days and found myself able to line up with the big crew on April 13….a Friday!

I had just finished up some new bags for my Racer-X and had done a total of about 6 nights in the back country of the Franklins.  I probably only put in about 300 miles of trail between Christmas and race day.  My only other mileage would be from my short commute to school which I included a 40 to 50 pound bike with load.  Needless to say I was a bit concerned about my fitness when the 13th rolled around.  I was also having some really bad saddle sore issues as well but saw a doc the Monday before the race and finally got some meds that cleared things right up.

Our trip to Parker Lake, AZ would be our first trip in the Caribou.  We battled a viscous head wind to AZ and arrived at the trail head well before dark.  The weather was really nice and others were looking forward to cooler temps but concerned about a BIG storm rolling in Saturday.

My final packing list was much heavier than I wanted it to be, but I soon figured out that I was just being a safe old man…aka pussy.  My main frame bag carried four 3 hour AyUp batteries, 2 CO2 containers, 2 MRE entrees with heaters, a pop tart, 2 packs of squeeze cheese, a spare pair of socks, a spare pair of shorts, PI leg warmers, a wool tee, fleece gloves, derailleur cable, and half of a camelbak bladder.  In the gas tank I had chapstick, 8 clif bars, 4 mojo bars, 2 Z bars, and a few rolls of my mom’s fruit leather.  On the bars I had all of my hygiene products, my GoPro camera, two 6 hour AyUp batts, and Smith hard case with glasses and lenses.   I also had a set of laminated cue cards on the outside pocket.  In the stuff sack I had my MontBell 30 degree sleeping bag, Thermarest NeoProXL pad, Tyvek bivy, and my MontBell UL down jacket.  In the seat bag I carried 2 Stans’d tubes wrapped in tyvek, 2 bottles of Stan’s, Park Tool, Leatherman, small bottle of Progold Extreme, cotton rag, and a patch kit box containing spare chain links, brake pads, plug tool with plugs and rubber bands, a cleat bolt, needle and a full prewound bobbin of thread as well as patches and glue.  On my back I carried a Camelbak blowfish with a full 100 oz bladder, PI rain jacket (XXL), Pur Hiker Pro water filter with some tablets, full size shock pump, Crank bro’s tire pump, cash and cards, Spot II, 2 spare AAA batts, 2 AA batts, and about a pound and a half of my mom’s fruit leather.  I also had a full bottle under the frame.  On me I wore a full zip jersey, SOS mid weight wool socks, Nema gloves, Rooly mirrored lens glasses, old Bell helmet with AyUp lights, Descent shorts, Spot wool arm warmers, and Shimano M087 shoes.  My bike is a custom ti Titus 29er with a brand new drive train, 180 cranks, 3×9 sram rear setup with OLD Sram half pipe shifters, Magura Marta SL brakes, Stan’s 355 rims, DT 340 rear hub, WTB Laserdisc Lite front hub, 120tpi WTB Exiwolf 2.3 rear tire, and 2.55 WeirWolf LT 60tpi front tire.  The frame is 4 years old and the oldest parts are 5 years old. I sat on a mid level WTB Silverado saddle and held on to a set of 4 year old Ergon grips with bar ends.

My GPS was a Garmin Etrex 20 with sweet topo maps from a free source via Scott Morris’ Topofusion forum and the official AZT gps track.  I also put on about 30 waypoints indicating water sources and bailout points.  On top of the headtube I used a Stem Captain thermometer.

The week before the start I spent some time making sure the bike was good to go.

DAY 1 – Since cooler weather was in store for the start, I decided I’d roll out at 9 with everyone else.  I spent some time with Connor and did a surprisingly small amount of socializing.  I was not one bit nervous but only concerned with the fact that I was carrying a lot of crap.  I knew I wouldn’t need all the food I brought, but just felt more comfortable with it.

After the shuttle rolled up, I decided I’d better start getting stuff together and slabbed on the sunscreen.  The crowd built and Scott Morris briefed us and sent us on our way.

I let all the fast guys go and started to head down the trail but realized I had not turned on my gps.  Scott laughed at me as I mentioned something about hoping I could figure that thing out by the time I finished.  Pretty much everyone with an Etrex 20 had some sort of complaint.

I rode a comfortable pace and passed lots of slower riders and riders already dealing with flats.  After about the first 30 minutes I rolled up on Kurt Refsnider (ultra bike racing god) and Max Morris on a hike-a-bike.  Aaron Gulley who had flatted caught me and we soon found the four of us riding pretty fast together.  I stayed with them all the way to Patagonia where we rolled into town about 4 hours after the start.  Their pace wasn’t exceptionally fast, but too fast for me to be doing with a 52 pound rig.  I stopped at the Velvet Elvis for a pizza and ordered a Sassy…which had way too much sausage and cheese.  I ate two pieces and wrapped the other two for the road.  Stopping in the general store I picked up some snacks while I heard another rider (Pete?) asking for sunscreen.

Rolling up the road to Sonoita I had a great tailwind, but my gut was a rock and my legs kind of stiff from the hard 30 miles and the half hour sit down for lunch.  I kept cruising and after turning into the headwind, Aaron G. came by me again after getting his tire patched at an auto shop.  Kurt S. came around me as well and I soon found myself quite alone in the wind heading to Kentucky Camp.  I took a good break at KC to eat a snack and fill up with water.  I headed out with the goal of La Sevilla picnic area for the night.  At about 9 pm or so, I passed Brad M. (started at 6 am) who had a dead light battery.  He was walking and was not using his backup light.  At 10, I was absolutely exhausted.  My legs felt great, but I had no sleep the night before due to Connor being a bit excited about his first night in the truck camper.  The first flat spot I found (about mile 80) I rolled out my bivy and was sacked out in less than 15 minutes.  I was really close to the trail and did not put in my earplugs.  Many riders passed me and shined their lights on me as I tried to ignore them.  After most of them passed me, I slept quite well….about 6 hours….until the wind started to scare me a bit and the moon came out.

DAY 2 -I heard a lot of people complain about the wind that night, but my spot was pretty much immune to it.  I heard it, but never got blasted.  The storm was moving in quickly so I boogied on out of there with the goal of making it to La Sevilla for shelter.  It was only misting, but quite cold and windy when I got there.

Some other riders were there but only Justin stuck around as he had minimal cold weather gear.  I heated up an MRE and decided to crash in the covered picnic area.  I was joined by Fred W. and Eric Lord.  Others came and went, but I figured I’d better stay out of the rain and sleep some more.  It rained and blew hard so I ended up with a 4 hour break.  When I got up to get going again, I had a bunch of water from my camelbak in my bivy.  Luckily it only got my pad wet and not my bag.  I packed up and took off down the trail after Justin.  We went off course about a mile, but quickly got back on and rolled out X9 to the pave.  I had to stop to put on my jacket when a session of sleet hit me, but soon after I stopped at the Rincon gas station where I scored the last bean burrito and a Mexican Coke.  I then continued on to the Safeway for some more hot food.  I chilled in the Quiznos eating a bowl of chicken soup.  At Safeway I picked up a loaf of whole wheat bread, an apple, some organic poptarts, a pack of tuna, and a small container of chocolate almond milk.

I connected with Dave Goldberg headed up to Reddington where I just chilled with him on our way to the top of La Milagrosa where I knew there would be a good camp spot and water not too far away.  On one of the descents I felt something hit my leg and backtracked to find my Park multi-tool.  Turns out my seat bag was WIDE effing open and gone was my patch kit box.  I’ve had that box for about 15 years.   Very bummed and a bit nervous after that since so many parts were in it.

A short distance from La Milagrosa we could smell a campfire.  I was hoping to roll up on a few U of A coeds but it ended up being Brad M. who had made a glorious fire.  I rolled up the road to find water and luckily there was a large puddle with crystal clear water in it about 200 yards from camp.  I had to prime my filter but I soon had one and a half bladders full for the trip up Lemmon.  Back at camp I pulled my stuff out to dry while I ate the bread, tuna, and apple.  I sacked out with earplugs but was awoken by Fred W’s coughing.  Poor guy ended up dropping out at Oracle.  He was riding very steady, but not sleeping much.  I got 7 hours that night and when I got up the next morning, decided I’d better get moving if I wanted to finish this thing in a respectable manner.

DAY 3 – After the hike-a-bike up to Molino, I took a pit stop at the Molino outhouse.  I soon caught Fred on the trail, and rode alone up Lemmon to the restaurant where I sat with Aaron Boatman and ordered a breakfast burrito.  On the way in to the restaurant I saw Les headed up to Oracle Ridge. After horrible service at the restaurant, I went to the general store for a complimentary cup of hot cocoa, a soda, and some snacks.  I ended up riding with Aaron all the way down to the Kannally Ranch house.  The trails were totally ripper on the way down despite a bit of snow we had to trudge through.  Our bikes got a bit muddy, but nothing I was worried about.  We passed Jill H. near the top and just said hello and kept moving.  At Kannally, Aaron wanted to hang out a bit, but I wanted real food and left him for Oracle.  I picked up two sandwiches, a Muscle Milk, and a small can of Pringels, exchanged pleasantries with Eric Foster, and rolled out.

After eating one of the sandwiches on the road, I felt great and decided to get to work.  I was flying through some great singletrack with the goal of hitting the Freeman Water Cache at a decent hour.  Just before it started getting dark, I took a header on a switchback and landed directly on my lights.  I removed my helmet and immediately plugged in a battery to make sure they still worked.  YES!  I quickly got back up and got rolling again.  The trails were incredible out there.  Lots of blooms and it smelled great.  The sun soon set and I was frequently checking my GPS as the route was becoming less used and more convoluted.  I started seeing some lights and gave chase.  I came up on Brad K. and Matt who were chilling in a wash.  I talked to them for a few minutes.  It’s always cool to meet guys from back east who are tough riders.  I grew up riding back east in the Appalachians and always loved riding in the slop and roots.  It’s fun to share with guys who can relate.

Soon after leaving them I passed Les.  Sometime in there I rolled passed a big tank with the old windmill fan flat on the ground.  There was a noisy owl there that was cracking me up.  He calmed down after I passed, but then I heard him again and looked back to see a bunch of lights in the area.  The singletrack seemed never ending and I was starting to get sleepy.  My legs felt great, but I crashed again in a wash and was looking forward to getting some rest.  I soon rolled up on Forrest who was just kind of standing around the junction with Freeman Rd.  I knew that the cache was not on the road, so I rolled on and soon found Steve and Pete bivied right next to the trail by the cache.  I found a spot a ways off the trail and threw my crap down.  I filled my camelbak, ate my other sandwich and the pringles, and drank half the muscle milk.  I crashed out hard until about 4 am.

Day 4 – The moon still was not out when I first woke up so I went back to sleep for a few more minutes.  When the moon came out I finished the muscle milk, ate some cookies, and got dressed to ride.  My helmet straps were almost completely chewed through by a rat and I think the rat threw dust down my snoring throat as I had a bitch of a cough.  Little bastards also got a hold of my  camelbak which I was using as my pillow.  Nothing like having vermin hanging out around your head while you sleep.

I was out of the cache by 5 am.  As soon as the sun came out, I put on my clean but still wet chamois and put my dirty chamois on top.  Two layers was super comfy and after sunscreen, some more snacks, and changing glasses, I was rolling again on the powerline towards Ripsey.  I cleaned about half of the Ripsey switchbacks and was soon flying down the ridge.  I got slightly off course but was soon back in the wash and rolled up on an unopened bottle of 7UP!  Yay!  I cracked it open and drank about half of it saving the rest for Kelvin.  I finally rolled into Kelvin just in time for an early lunch.

At the maintenance shed I topped off my camelbak and filled my water bottle.  I heated up my last MRE and chit chatted with Bill from Del Rio.  He was thru-hiking the entire trail.  He was loading his pack with 10L of water.  That’s 22 lbs for those of you who don’t know your conversions.  The MRE treated my stomach well and I was rolling on the machine cut singletrack down the Gila.

Wow!  I thought it would never end.  It went on and on and on and on.  Miles and miles of Sweco dozer action in terrain that would make the average dozer driver breakdown like a crying little bitch.  The heat cranked up to around 90 and I was a bit worried about my water supply.  I was soon down to the half  bladder I’d been carrying in my frame pack for a couple of days.  I passed Pawel with his 1×5 gearing.  He’d stopped to snap a pic and I quickly caught him.  It still took a long time to get to the finish as there seemed to be 9 or 10 inner canyons.  I seriously thought it would never end.  Eventually I passed a pair of horseback riders so I knew I couldn’t be far.  Then I started seeing foot prints so I started pinning it again and drinking my water since most people don’t walk very far from the trailhead.  Sure enough I soon saw the Caribou and other vehicles.  I felt a bit dry, but my legs felt great.  My hands were pretty cooked and I rode the last 10 miles or so without gloves as they were so crusty they were irritating my hands.

I finished in 3 days, 7 hours, and 50 minutes.  Pretty good for a total of 22 hours of sleep during that time.  No flats!  No bonking.  No major injuries.  Only 2 encounters with cactus and only one close call with evil gnawing mammals.

My beautiful wife and son spent their weekend learning all about our truck camper.  With minimal guidance she dumped the holding tanks, changed a propane tank, and had to deal with some tire issues…..that’s a whole different story.  I must thank her for supporting me in this endeavor and spending our 12th anniversary (Sunday) watching my blue dot on Trackleaders.  I spent many a late night on the sewing machine and several nights away from home testing out my gear….though I’m sure she slept sideways on our king size bed when I wasn’t there.  Connor was a good boy the entire time I was gone thanks to some solid entertainment from Paula and Beto’s chickens and their new pup Parker.  I also need to thank Scott Morris for all his help with my totally non-intuitive Garmin.  He helped me find some really sweet maps and understand how to load the track.

My apologies to those who were hoping for some trail pics.  I bet I spent a total of about 45 minutes stopping to take photos with my GoPro.  The little bugger kept acting up and none of the picture I took were saved.  I saw so much gorgeous green desert and I can only keep those in my memories.

I was going to pay someone to weld a metal deck to the hitch so everyone (dog, kid, wife, and myself) would have a larger platform to step on when entering and exiting the rig, but I really didn’t want to hassle with a last minute issue of driving around town and asking some busy welder to do an “I need it Wednesday” job.  I got to thinking about all the crap I had around the house and got to work and came up with this.

The kid and the dog can get up the ramp.  Connor has a bit of trouble coming down, but I’m sure he’ll figure it out.  Luna already figured it all out and was super stoked to have a nice large floor area to relax.  Not sure if the steps will ever be used again and I’m curious as to how I’ll rig all this up when we have a trailer on the hitch instead of the hitch rack.

So this rig just needs new hose and sprayer for the outside shower and it’s ready to roll.  Generator starts with the push of a button and 30 seconds later the AC is blasting cold air!  All gas appliances are finally cranking, and there’s a brand new water filter for drinking water at the sink.  Inverter has been installed under the sink so Jen can grind her fresh coffee in the morning.

So now we’re soon to be AZ bound where the temps are looking to be ridiculously low and maybe even some rain.  Too low and that means I have to carry more clothing.  Too high and I have to carry too much water.  No matter what, Jen and Connor are going to have a ton of fun in our new rig.

The big question will be whether or not I have a ton of fun on my rig.  It’s kind of heavy.

Follow all the action a multi-day endurance race can give you here.

In order to have a bit more confidence in my rig for the Arizona Trail Race 300, I did some part switching replacing parts that needed some love with parts that have been just hanging around the garage.

So off went the 5 year old Reba and on went the 4 year old Fox which hasn’t seen much use.  It’s a bit stiffer which is probably one reason why I was using the Reba….which probably makes no sense at all to some of you. With that switch, it included a different caliper due to the post mount of the Fox fork.  This included a newer and longer brake hose which replaced a hose that was cracked.  I also switched out my 175 Race Face cranks and BB for the 180 XT cranks and a Chris King BB that was sitting in my junk box.  The XT cranks have BRAND NEW rings!!!  I also took the newer style Crank Bro’s pedals off my Superfly 100 race rig and replaced the really old plastic Candy’s.

With all these changes, I added a sweet thermometer from Stem Captain.  This thing is really nice and will help me make the decision whether to keep riding when it’s hot or to seek a bit of shade and take a nap.

Some of you may also notice that the frame bags are a bit different.  Last week I decided that I needed a bit more room since I’m not using a large seat bag or seat post rack.  After going over my list a few times, and not wanting to use a large seat bag, I made new bags with a few tricks I’ve been wanting to apply to my bags.  They turned out pretty good and both hold a bit more.  I still need to make a nice thin bag to go in front of the seat.  I tried one that was as wide as the gas tank, but my thighs rubbed on it.

And finally….a trip to The Bicycle Company to borrow their rivnut tool and the dually now has 3 water bottle mounts.  The first two of course have been taken by the frame bag which easily holds a 100 oz. bladder as well as a day’s worth of food, Ayup batteries, and other gear.

So now it’s very easy for me to carry 224 oz of water and I have plenty of room in jersey pockets and my camelbak for more bottles if necessary.  I may even make a couple bottle/food bags to go behind the bars next to the stem.  This would make it easy to carry a cup of coffee or a stash of almonds.

Just over one week left.  I still need to construct my Tyvek bivy and a couple bags for the bike.  Everything is coming together….last minute!

Last night I packed up the bike I call Lazy Lightning for a test run in the Franklins.  Temps were going to get down to just above freezing and high winds were expected.  It rained all day, and I was kind of hoping to get a bit of rain just to see how my gear would do but it didn’t happen.  Despite having the messiest garage in the world, I got everything packed and said goodbye to the family.

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Connor’s been a bit under the weather, so leaving the family alone may or may not have been a good thing.  He sure was happy to see me this morning though.

I headed up the new Sotol Forest extension with plans of camping in a flat spot just over the pass.  It wasn’t that big of a deal considering that my bag is a synthetic 30 degree mummy that compresses down to half it’s original size and that I used a mylar/bubble sheet windshield reflector for a pad.  I dealt with it and got probably 8 hours total.

The ride up had some mud in spots which is really rare in the Franklins.  I knew riding it in the morning would bring a grin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Nemo Gogo was perfect despite not having the foot pole or the pump.  I’ll have to rig the a pump up using a bike pump, but I’ll have to get my metal shop to machine down a presta valve that will fit in the little hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next morning I dealt with more wind than I wanted to and packed everything up to ride some trail.  Sotol Forest is one of the rockiest around so off I went.  I stopped by the old mining equipment for some chocolate covered coffee beans then headed over to Gellman’s.

Gellman is the only guy I know of in town that does custom sewing.  I wanted to see what stuff he had in hopes of maybe not having to make another costly order to complete the other bags I want to make.  His setup is totally sweet as he’s got a dedicated room with lots of shelves full of lots of webbing, velcro, elastic, thread, etc.  Of course, he’s a war fighter making a little extra off the war fighting community so all of his stuff is some sort of camo.  He’s also rockin’ a servo on his machine so I wanted to check it out.  He’s got a nerf football stuffed under the treadle to keep things under control.  Great idea and it may be working better the foam padded stop I have set up.  I need to toy with mine a bit more to get it dialed.

I’m really stoked about the way my frame bags turned out.  I’ve got some refining to do on the handlebar set up and I want to make some feedbag style holders.  Some people asked me if I’d be willing to make bags for them.  The answer as of now is “not yet”.  Give me a couple more months so I can finish the things I need for myself before I attempt something for someone else.  When I do farm out my skills, it will be for the frame and gas tanks to start.  They’re not too hard to make.

Anyway.  It’s getting cold here finally and we may finally get our first freeze.  I picked these beauties before covering as much up as I could.  If I can get some in next week, that will be 4 Decembers in a row that I’ve picked tomatoes.

This past weekend I took part in my second race of the year.   The first race was a duo with Jen in Ruidoso back in April.  We were the 3rd place team overall that weekend thanks to the help of my mom.

This race was the 12 Hours of Old El Paso and I decided to try it again after a year off by nutting up and going solo on the single speed.  I was a bit nervous as I haven’t really been doing much riding much less on the SS.  I didn’t even get my bikes ready until Tuesday night and the full suspension Superfly was questionable due to some slight skipping.  I set it and Dirty Girl (my custom ti hardtail) up with a 32×21 gearing, worn out Nanoraptors on the front, and fairly new Small Block 8’s on the rear.

I took the RV out to the venue on Friday and scored a sweet spot on solo row….about the same location I had in 2009 when I suffered like a dog to finish 13 laps.  I headed back home for the evening and I loaded a cooler with 10 big bottles of Cytomax, 6 bottles of water, a couple Mexican Cokes, and topped it off with ice.  Luckily the race didn’t start until 10 Saturday morning so I got to bed early and slept in until about 7:15.

I got out to the venue and did the final touch ups to my pit and headed to the start.  Jen rolled in just as we were starting so I didn’t get to familiarize her to the set up of my pit.

First 3 laps were on the Superfly and the skipping started to get worse.  Not sure if it was alignment or wear differences on the chain/cog interface.  After 3 laps I switched to Dirty Girl and told Jen to adjust my left grip and flip the cog over hoping it would solve the problem.  I came back in after lap 4 and had to change shoes because my left foot went numb and it kept pulling out of the pedal.  I switched back to the Superfly, but it skipped worse.  Came back in for the pit and changed socks and went back to Dirty Girl for the remainder of the race.

I was up about 20 minutes on fellow SS’er Lenny Goodell and down about 10 on Sem Gallegos, the only other solo rider ahead of me….but he was on gears.  It started getting really hot laps 5 through about 8 and I remember drinking 2 large bottles on all those laps.  Lap 6 I came through and saw Sem in his pit.  Sweet!  I was leading the entire solo field and I felt really good while climbing.

Jen brought me a sandwich from Subway, some pound cake,  and cooked up a cheese pizza.  I consumed pretty much all of the food she brought while out riding.  She had to fill more bottles for me as I was getting pretty low.

Lap 10 rolled around and I had to run the lights.  It appeared that I had the single speed category in the bag.  So I made sure I put some nails in the coffin of the next solo rider.

I ended up with 13 laps in well under 11 hours and got to remove the grime with a hot shower and still had time to socialize before awards.  A set of decent commuter or backup lights for the win and the satisfaction of still being able to race my bike for a long period of time a bit faster than everyone else here in El Paso.

It’s been tough to blog lately. This past summer I made little effort to get to internet access. I spent most of the summer NOT riding due to an issue in my back/neck/shoulder/arm. I’m better now and after pretty much taking a full year off from doing anything hardcore on the bike, I’m prepping for a next summer starting today.

I spent 2 hours this evening cleaning out my toolbox. This was initiated by an oil spill of some sort in the top compartment. I ended up dumping half my tools into the wash bucket with lots of soap, water, and orange cleaner. I thought all the handles on my Park cone wrenches were black. Turns out they’re blue. I ended up resorting all my tools, picking out all the duplicates and tools I don’t use for bike repair, and removing all the non-tool items like cable housing and zip ties. I completely emptied the box and scrubbed it with a sponge and the hot, soapy water. After rearranging everything, I’m much happier. I placed all the tools I use a bunch like those large T-handled Park allen wrenches, the tape measure, the shock pump, and my torque wrench set in the top of the box instead of in a difficult to open drawer. I put all the chain lube, anti-sieze, and rarely used tools in the bottom drawer. Genius! Should have done that years ago.

Now I’ve got to sort out all the parts I pulled out along with the tubs of parts on my work bench. Once I get that done, I’ll be ready to do actual bike maintenance. And boy do my bikes need some love. So do Jen’s bikes. Her’s more than mine.

I’ll be ripping off the parts from her strange fitting 659’r that was supposed to be a 29’r two time national SS winning Titus to put on her On One Inbred which is currently draped with junk parts, commuter wheels, and a rack. She said she didn’t want to have a heavy SS, but why ride a light one with a strange geometry and a weird sized rear wheel that barely fits and handle like a Corvair convertible?

Did you hear about Jen’s attempt at a 3rd national SS title? I thought it was a valiant effort and I’m very proud of her….and myself. Why am I proud of myself? While I was hanging out with Connor and Jen was pre-riding the shitty national course in Idaho, I saw Rebecca Rusch on a hard-tail that was converted to a SS. I kept my mouth shut all week knowing that if I said anything Jen probably wouldn’t even start the race. Jen was WAY under geared for what turned out to be a running festival and Rusch plowed through the waves of geared riders that started ahead. Luckily Jen has been doing a bit of running herself and moved into 2nd place at the hike-a-bike short cut that was near the top of the course. Rusch put down the fastest women’s amateur course time of the day. Jen finished in 2nd more than 9 minutes down. I was proud of her because I knew she was under geared and she only did 4 mountain bike races previous since the end of Summer 2009 when I knocked her up with Connor. Of course, she was pretty disappointed, but it was Rusch’s home turf. And honestly, nobody really cares. She also beat last year’s champion by 3 minutes. Not bad for someone riding a wierd fitting/handling bike that’s 5 years old.

After I get her bikes all dialed (the Titus will become the Chariot dragging device), I’m going to do some major stuff with my bikes. More to come….I promise. Maybe I’ll even have some pictures.

Some of you may know that Titus closed their doors earlier this year.  It’s been a LONG time since I’ve blogged, but this deserves a bit of attention as it’s one of the root causes of problems in our current economic situation.

Here’s my view on why Titus went down.  It’s an outsider’s view with some internal information that had been gleaned over a few years of correspondence with Titus personnel back when they gave me a great deal on custom bikes.

Chris Cocalis was slow to innovate and change and had trouble managing a growing business.  He sold out to investors who brought in Pat Huss who had previously run Cannondale into the ground.  Pat brought with him Jeff Titone.  Both are nice guys, but I’m not sure they really belong in the bicycle manufacturing business.

Failed efforts at fancy exogrid products and carbon stuff from overseas started the fall.  Originally producers of HIGH quality custom frames, they tried to seek more profit by going overseas.  This never made sense to me as they had to fly over there all the time to do quality control….which sucked if you ever owned a carbon chainstayed racer-x.

A couple years ago, they sold off their sweet jigs and took all ti production to Litespeed.  Yuk.  The aluminum stuff was still being made in Portland and the carbon stuff overseas.  They shrank their operations in the states trying to become a marketing and design company.  Customer service suffered and people started looking at other great bikes like the Trek/Fishers, Pivots, Tall Boys, and other fantastic bikes on the market that cost about the same or less.

Titus deserved to die.  Hanging on to the Horst Link and giving up on in house production reduced their value.

Planet-X Bikes recently purchased Titus.  I hope they didn’t pay much.  Hopefully they will return to some custom in house production if they can ever get a hold of those sweet jigs they used to have.  Good luck Planet-X Bikes.  If you bring back Titus, keep ’em custom, keep ’em ti.

This year’s Horny Toad was as rowdy as years past as a really bad band decided to take the stage at 11 pm and played till 2.  They got worse as the night wore on and their bass player dropped out somewhere around midnight.

Here’s some shots from the chainless DH from which I have retired.

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