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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.

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.

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.

Here are some things I’d like to sell off before the little one comes.

Spot Belt Drive Kit – great condition w/ about 100 off-road miles.  39×24.  Newest setup with guides on both sides of the rear pulley.  $150.

Magura Hugin Rear Shock.  “Short shock” 6.5×1.5 . http://www.magura.com/en/products/older-products/rearshocks-2008/prod/hugin.html  Used on Titus Racer-X 29er for 3 rides.  $150

WTB Rocket-V Race – Ti Rail – White.  Used twice.  $50.

Shimano XT clipless pedals – brand new in box – $75.

Niner SS Cog – 22 t – Brand new. $30

Will possibly trade for the following:  Crank Brother’s Egg Beater SL pedals, WTB Silverado Saddle.

Sorry it has taken me so long to update my blog.  Things have been super busy with the scene here in El Paso.  This past weekend’s 12 hour race confirmed that we have an awesome scene and it also helped further solidify my reasons for racing.  It’s all about helping to put our scene on the national radar.  Winning the Breck Epic was to legitimize the trails in El Paso as it was for my own personal goals.  The fans at both the Epic and this 12 hour were awesome and I got huge cheers during awards and throughout the event.  Mike, myself, and Brent have been putting in some serious time to make the mtb scene here in El Paso better for everyone.  I just wish more people would get involved with the grunt work or volunteering with trail building or race marshalling. 

I knew this weekend’s 12 hour race would be harder than most people thought it might be.  Yes, it’s in my backyard and I know the trails quite well.  I ran a 21 t on both bikes.  I was hoping everything would go well,  but damn…where that wind come from? 

The 12 hours of old el paso was a hit!  It’s gonna get big in couple more years.  It’s gonna be big next year.  This year’s event only cost $40 a person.  They had food, music, beer, and fireworks.  Lots of my buddies were out marshalling the course and the state park guys were making some laps to check everything out. 

Here’s how it went down for me.  Not wearing a costume…like Brent, I had settle for a longer run to the bike. 

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The run wasn’t bad, but I definitely need to run more if I plan on doing more LeMann’s starts.  I started out on the FS with the YESS tensioner, 32×21, nanoraptors front and rear.  The first lap was a bit faster due to a bypass of the first section of single track.  I was sitting in about 5th or 6th and moved up to about 3rd or 4th at the end of the lap.  I rode the first 2 and half laps with eventual solo winner Adam Hoppe.  He was geared and had much more fun on the climbs than I did.  First lap was 38 minutes.  Second lap was just as fast considering the additional single track….42 minutes.  On the third lap, I switched to the hard tail so Jen could let some air out of my tires.   I pitted so fast she didn’t hear what I said and ended up adding air.   

The hardtail was a bit slower feeling with a 2.55 Weirwolf up front and a 2.3 Exiwolf in the back.  3/4 way through the third lap on the hardtail, I stopped to pee and started to feel some cramping.  4th lap I was back on the FS.  I was drinking 2 full bottles every lap.  About half way into the 4th lap, my legs cramped so bad I had to get off the bike, which made it worse.  I pitted a bit longer the next couple of times through and ate some solid food and took some more salt tabs and sportlegs.  Eventually I was taking one or two of either salt tabs, sportlegs, or ibuprofin from lap 5 and on.  My pits were still pretty quick with my longest at probably 5 minutes.  My lap times stayed around 50 -55 minutes. 

On my first “night” lap, I grabbed the hardtail with lights and a helmet with lights.  I didn’t want to sit around putting on lights when Jen could do it for me.  I ended up not needing the lights as I was able to finish it before it got too dark.  Back on the FS I was lit up and rollin’.  I love night riding and the laps seemed much faster though my fastest night lap was only 52 minutes.  I kept rolling laps as hard as possible and finally stopped cramping on the climbs at about lap 10.  Sometime in there I saw that Lenny, my challenger in the SS category, was done and hadn’t left his pit in a couple of laps.  I decided to go for 13 laps and finished at 9:30. 

My lap count was good for 2nd place solo overall.  I won the SS by 3 laps, 2 if you count Karen Rishel who rode well after the 10 pm ending to complete 11 laps.  She ran a huge gear on a sweet new Superfly.  Props to the solo field.  The sign in posters looked to have about 30 spots on them for all of us nutbags.

I had no flats and only came close to crashing once.  That was on lap 5 or 6 when I was feeling absolutely stupid with my legs cramping on the descents.  My pit spot was probably the best in the race and my pit bitch did a great job even though I rushed through way too many and could have slowed down just a little in order to think things through a bit more and communicate better.

After awards, I crawled back to the camper with my cool trophy and a check for $100.  Hopefully this thing won’t rot away anytime soon.

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The Catholic School girls (they’re really MILF’s in disquise) brought back memories of high school.

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My pit area….you can barely see the trail between my 10×10 and the tent in the background.

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I didn’t look nearly this good at 10 pm.

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My dog had a field day checking out lots of new smells and being in her natural “race” environment.

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As a 200 pounder, I am classified as a “seated climber”.  In other words, it is much more effecient for me to remain seated when climbing than it is to lug my giant arse out of the saddle to grunt my way up the hill…thus the need for some sort of rear suspension.  

Ever since I started single speeding, I’ve been using some sort of rear suspension.  My first SS foray was on a K2 Razorback, but I couldn’t get the tensioner/cog combo to work for me.  I gave it up quickly after a banged knee and a shot to the nuts from the top tube.

On my current hardtail SS, I use the Moxey Suspension Seatpost.  Since these posts don’t exist anymore and parts are unavailable, I don’t like to spend lots of time on it…..especially since the Cane Creek sucks crack. 

So I’ve begun my second foray into full suspension singledom.  With the generosity of Renny at YESS Labs, I now have a full suspension specific chain tensioner.  My second ride with it was the Horny Toad NMORS XC race which I crushed on a 32×17.  I had some skipping, but I’m pretty sure it was related to the slightly worn aluminum cog with a new chain.  I put on a steel 21 t for the weekend and rode over 6 hours with it.  I got no skipping or popping!  I also don’t have a front chain guide or tensioner other than the cateye chain watcher….which I probably don’t need as I’ve yet to throw the chain on it.  I did drop it during a night ride when rolling a 20 t after the Horny Toad, but I think my chain alignment was off as I was popping excessively in the rear.

Setup is tedious with this device as there are 5 points of adjustment.  The use of almost every allen size on your multi-tool is required.  Once set up correctly, it works really well.  I really like the fact that it works!  I never had luck with the rear deraileur as a tensioner and the stupid little “singulators” don’t work with the lower swingarm being in the way.  I have to use those as a push down tensioner which does not allow for any chain wrap on the cog.

The YESS ETR-D has a fixed upper bushing/roller/pulley/thingy that allows for maximum chain wrap.  The lower pulley is a standard pulley that is spring loaded with a cantilever brake spring.  I found that running the spring with max tension and as little chain as possible provides the best performance.  There is a bunch of leeway for adjustment in pulley position and spring tension, so set up may take a bit of time.

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You’ve already heard me complain about set up a couple of times.  There are some other things that may bug you that kind of bug me.   I don’t think this device was originally designed for epic SS rides.  I think it was designed for dirt jumpers or park riders who want to forgo gears on their FS bikes.  I say this because the thing is noisy.  The upper pulley/bushing/roller/thingy is quite loud on the chain.  I don’t think it really adds that much friction to the system, but it is definitely more than a sram XO with ceramic bushings.  Not being able to remove the wheel hasn’t been a big issue as I’ve yet to flat while using it.  But if I were to flat at hour 5 of an 8 hour adventure, it may cause some problems if I space off and lose a skewer spring or nut.  I also have only done wheel changes on the work stand, so doing it off the stand may pose some additional challenges.  These are the only gripes I have.  I think that Renny has something pretty good here and if demand dictates it, some minor changes may help create a product that would work even better for us long haul SS’ers. 

This thing will get a ton of use this fall and winter and I’ll be keeping Renny updated.  If you are using one for SS XC use, let me and Renny know how it is treating you.  Maybe we can help develop one that is quiet and allows for easier wheel changes.

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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I’ve been wanting to pull off something brutal and fun this fall and I think I’ve got it.  Am I a masochist?

Check it out here.

http://nmes.wordpress.com/6-%e2%80%93-el-paso-enduro-poker-ride/

The course is going to be pretty sick. 

I doubt it will include the new northern pass trail, but we’ll see.  The current configuration goes over Mundy’s twice….once in each direction.  This will be a good preview for the shorter Puzzler which takes place in January.

I guess you could call these blingy.  But at only $110 retail, does that qualify as bling?

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You may remember my previous post on the M086.  They served me quite well this summer.  They were awesome during the Breck Epic which had numerous long hike-a-bikes.  The stiffness was perfect and the right amount of flex at the toe made them quite comfortable.

The downside…one of the velcro straps on my black ones broke…the day after the epic.  I was able to use duct tape to fix it.  I used the new Loctite brand Sumo tape.  That stuff is way better than standard duct tape.  I continued using the shoes the rest of the summer with no problems. 

At the beginning of the summer I ordered the above bronze colored shoe from the UK.  They finally showed up today!  I’ll have to take extra good care of these bad boys as I don’t think the Sumo tape comes in a bronzish gold color.  They’ll be my race shoes.

Anyway…I got on Facebook this week.  It’s a time waster for sure, but I think I can maintain good internet discipline.  Signal Peak is this weekend.  The camper is ready to go and the truck got it’s first oil change.  It took me over an hour to get the filter off.  I think the robot they use to install the filter hadn’t been calibrated in a while.  I turned it one full turn with 2 tools on it before I could turn it with my hands.  Ridiculous.