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The BMBA is hosting a poker ride on the 17th of May.  I’ll have more details next week.  Our regular club ride is this Sunday at Heinrich.  8 am….new time to beat the heat.

This Saturday I’m doing a slaughter fest in the Franklins with 3 trips up to Mundy’s Gap in the plan.  Start at Heinrich, bee line up to Mundy’s, clockwise around big loop in park on west side, back up Mundy’s, down the middle road (past the tires) to Mad Cow, back on Sotol, Scenic Rd back up to Mundy’s, turn around and head back to Heinrich via Stan’s and whatever else I feel like riding.  I’ll be caching some water on Scenic.

Hopefully hit Heinrich by 8:30 am.  Let me know if you want to join me for some or a all.  Jen’s going to try to hang on as long as possible.  I’ll be rolling gears and big tires.

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My blog has been getting plenty of hits this week.  I’m guessing it’s because people are wanting to see what happened with the puzzler.  It was a huge success for us.  More than twice as many people than last year, longer, better weather, more food, better prizes, and a real bike race vibe.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered.  Races never happen without volunteers.  Sometimes you get a good spot to watch some action.  Other times you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and riders come by huffing and puffing every 5 minutes.  So thanks a bunch to all of you who put up with broken up cell calls and complaints and confusion from riders.

For the full story, check out the write up on Cyclingnews.com.  I spent a few hours compiling that thing.  Here it is:  http://cyclingnews.com/mtb.php?id=mtb/2009/feb09/elpasopuzzler09

We are getting flurries today and it’s really cold.  I’m so glad we had the weather we did for the Puzzler.   Next week is Old Pueblo.  It should be interesting.

For those of you in El Paso, please check out the BMBA blog.  We’ve got some work to do.

It’s been so long since I’ve made a post, I had to actually think for a bit about my password to log on. 

It seems that even though I haven’t posted in a long while, my blog still gets major hits for people seeking info on El Paso mountain biking.  The BMBA page is starting to take over….thank goodness.  It is a personal goal of mine that the new BMBA page is what people go to for info on El Paso trail info.  I have all the maps online now thanks to Robert Newman.  Club membership is up and we are very active in making the city a better place to ride the fat tires and big wheels.

My after school at-risk youth bike program is growing too.  I have all kinds of kids involved.  I had 4 girls show up today to find out what they needed to do to join the club.  Too bad the time has changed and we won’t have time to hit the trails after school.  We’ll have to spend the winter putting in “base miles” around the ‘hood.  Here’s a little video of our last trail ride at Heinrich. 

If you want to donate stuff to the at-risk program, please let me know.  We need the following:

  • 2.1-2.2 knobby tires
  • tire sealant
  • portable workstand
  • tool set
  • frame pumps
  • seat bags

We also need money.  Your donation will go through Irvin H.S. and will be tax-deductible.  Contact me at my contact info on the left of the page and I’ll give you the scoop.  We will eventually need new bikes as our current bikes are about 5 years old and they are LOW quality.  Some of our shifters are already breaking down.  I’d really prefer to put these kids on 29r singlespeeds since most can’t figure out the shifting anyway.  If they throw a chain, they freak out.  The big wheels work way better on our rocks and sand too.

I’ve been trying to enjoy my time off from training even though I have already incorporated and increased the level of my secret fall program.  It’s making a huge difference in the way I feel.

I got a call from Mary McConneloug the other day.  Yep.  Two time Olympian!  She’s trying to figure out what she wants to do this winter and next year as well.  She may be back on the chuckwagon circle again to defend her national title.  I talked to her for an hour and a half and blew off a bunch of grading I needed to do that night.  But hell…when a two time olympian calls, you talk to her. 

Anyway….I just made my first order of Monster Cross parts.  I’m turning the tricky ti titus tooniner into a monster crosser.  I’m gonna have to get a custom fork.  I’ll be sending Walt or somebody some cash’ola here pretty soon as I’ll need a REALLY long fork to help adjust the geo on that crazy frame. 

Don’t expect too much blogging from me this fall.  Sorry.  But stay in touch.

Today we had two rattlesnake encounters today on our 5 hours SS adventure around the Franklins.  Our first one was this little western diamondback just south of Bowen’s Ranch.  Jen almost ran over it and it didn’t move until I got my camera out and went back to take pictures.  After I snapped these pics and put away my camera, we looked up and there was a very bummed out hawk flapping at us.  It’s funny how a bird like that can communicate his displeasure.  I felt bad.  Sorry I disturbed the balance.

 

   
Then…..after about another mile on the road I saw this bad boy!  And he was either pissed off or just making sure we wouldn’t get too close to him.
He was rattling hard when he headed under the bush, then he got into a great pose for me and just rattled away.  This fellow wasn’t that much longer than the first one we saw…maybe a foot longer….but what was impressive was the size of his head and his girth.  It was at least twice as big as the first snake.  Not the biggest I’ve seen but the biggest I’ve photographed.
The rest of our ride was pretty uneventful other than the stifling heat.  Jen was suffering, but rode really well.  She’s loving her 659er and can’t wait for the neo-moto tire to arrive even though the quasi-moto his holding up just fine.

Or at least a new frame.  Titus has been so good to me.  And they try very hard to do what they can to meet my strange requests.  A year and a half ago, I had them build up a 29er hardtail frame for me.  I had them put a steep head tube angle on it AND a high BB.  Not such a good decision.  I thought running 180 cranks would make the high BB work better, but combined with the steep front end….and steep seat tube angle, it made it extremely twitchy.  In the slow techy stuff it shined, excelled, kicked ass, etc.  I could pedal through any rock garden no problem.  But the handling at high speed and trying to corner on loose flat stuff was sketch.  I also was quite disappointed with the tire clearance.  With a 2.55 Weir Wolf, I had about 1 mm on each side. 

This new frame got broken in today with a 5 hour jaunt through our various riding areas here in the pass.  I climbed it, did the spin coast spin thing on the flats, and sent it down the rock scree slope on the west side of Mundy’s Gap.  Handling was much better.  Tire clearance is still a bit tight, but I ran a ragged out Nanoraptor on the rear today and that baby has plenty of room.  A neighborhood test ride showed that the Weir Wolf 2.55 fits pretty good with just enough room to spare.  It worked suprisingly well. 

I had them build this frame with similar stats as the 23″ Specialized 29er hardtail.  I’m glad I did it because the front end feels just like my Racer-X.  Of course, the rear end is a bit….um…stiffer.  Just because you are a big tall guy, doesn’t mean you should try to tighten up a bike to make it handle quicker.  Stick to the relaxed angles and it will fit better and handle better.  I’m not sure what to do with my other frame.  I think it might work really well with a 650b rear wheel.  I’ve got one on order, so we’ll see what happens.  If it handles really well, I may just keep it.

With the three water bottle cages…all King Ti of course… I’ve decided to nickname this bike Desert Destroyer.

I also had Titus use the Paragon Sliders.  These babies are beautiful.  While they take a bit longer to set up, you can use a cheesy QR rear hub and not worry about it sliding forward.  While I like the Titus interchangeables due to their light weight, I either had to crank the bujeezus out of a crossmax mavic skewer or use a bolt on rear hub.  They did a really nice job welding these puppies on.

I ended up breaking my Mr. T starter kit.  One of the pins was so loose I could almost push it through the links with my fingers.  Luckily the closest shop in town to the trails does the BMX thing and I was able to score a master link. 

It’s totally hammering rain outside now.  We got some good sprinkles on our ride this morning, but now it is really raining.  The trails were in good shape today, we’ll see what they look like tomorrow.  Hopefully this will never happen again.

Bad thing about all the rain, besides all the crazy weeds that grow, is that in a few years these suckers will be MUCH bigger.

   

We saw both of these guys on Thursday.  Luckily they were both mellow.

Pray that no creature ever chews through the main wiring harness of your vehicle.  Especially if it’s a newer vehicle.  Yes….I’m still waiting on our truck to get fixed.  As you can see from the pic below, there were quite a few wires in that harness.  I probably could have reconnected them all myself, but it’s 100+ outside.  I was also hoping that my dealer would be willing to find a harness from a salvage yard, but they wouldn’t go for that.  So instead of paying $1900 for a new harness and waiting for about a month to get it, I let them repair it.

Turns out that when everything was chewed up, a bunch of fuses blew.  Then, when I tried to start it, I blew more fuses and reprogrammed the main computer as well as burned out the neutral safety switch.  Not good.  So we are still waiting.  Friday.  Still waiting.

I guess that’s the downside to electronics.  While they help our lives in so many ways, they can leave you in a pickle when they get messed up.  As a former electronics guy in the military, I learned enough to do quite a bit with electronic hardware stuff.  If I had an airconditioned garage, I would have been able to fix the wiring harness.  I would not have been able to reprogram the computer or find out what other funky codes may been showing up on a diagnostic system. 

Speaking of electronics….seems I’ve put some people up in arms about my comments regarding power meter screenshots.  I really wanted to focus more on people’s subtle cries for help that they post on their blogs.  If you aren’t racing well, and you are having dietery problems, or you are overtraining, or you are trying to mix up too much intensity when you are focusing on endurance events, or you think you are overtrained but you are really undertrained…..and you have a coach, it’s probably in your best interest to keep it on the downlow.  It’s definitely not going to help your coach any by telling people you are dead tired and can’t turn the pedals over. 

These cries for help are not entertaining.  Jen tells me to never comment.  “Let them flounder,” she says.  Hell.  We did our share of floundering that’s for sure.  But we never paid anyone to tell us what to do either.

I guess it takes time to find yourself, your limits, your favorite foods, your favorite bike position, and whatever else makes you fast.  Hopefully you will do your best to have fun.  Losing is not fun.  Not achieving your goals is not fun. 

I’m not sorry if I insulted anyone.  I do hope that my comments help you realize just how petty competition is.  Our world is changing quite rapidly now.  Racing will soon be only for the really wealthy or the ones that know the really wealthy.  Those days of loading up the VW bus with a couple friends, a bag of weed, enough energy bars for the weekend, and just enough money to cover gas and race entry are long gone.  The lowest payout isn’t going to get you back home.  The highest may only get you halfway home or to the next race.  Free underground racing will take over, but there will not be any $$$ involved.

Soon (and I mean in a few years) we will ALL be commuting regularly by bicycle.  It’s going to be tough.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of us.

 

Sorry if I made you check back here a dozen times trying to see if I updated my Gila report.  I was waiting on a card reader so I could download pics from my phone to my laptop.  My phone’s pics are pretty low quality, but I’m not too disappointed in the way they turned out.

I loaded up the mutt into the 25 year old Benzo….no A/C, no stereo, no cruise…and tried to keep it between 75 and 80 – preferably in the draft of a semi.  I got to Silver City in about 2 1/2 hours.  Not bad.  Jen had the rig parked at some doctors house where her friends were crashing for the week.  It was a nice place for sure.

Here’s a little llama farm near the doc’s house.

Jen had called me the night before day 1 to let me know she was blowing ass with a seriouso case of the runs.  Nothing I could do for her.  She avoided the major crashes to finish with the pack way down in 34th.  She was kind of pissed.  First off because she’s always done well on Mogollon and second off because her teammate Kathy Sherwin broke her thumb in one of the crashes.  Kathy took off to Phoenix to have a doctor set her thumb in a cast.

Jen’s second day was pretty good at building her confidence since she got in the main break that got away on the descent.  They got swallowed up later, but no major happenings.  Day 3 brought the TT and Jen threw on a 54t, aero bars, and a disc wheel to finish 18th.  That moved her up to 24th overall.  She was stoked.

I arrived the evening after the TT and she was pretty excited.  She didn’t race until 2 on Saturday, so that left me to some ride time on the Continental Divide.  Afer breakfast and reconverting her bike back to a real road bike, I took off towards the mountains.  No map….just a good sense of direction and about 5 hours to play.

I hooked up with the CDT off of Gomez Peak and headed north towards Signal Peak.  I’ve heard stories about the difficulty of the Gila and I’ve ridden the portion of CDT north of Signal Peak, so I wasn’t suprised to find a bunch of crappy trail that hadn’t been used much.  When I got to the pavement of the little road that goes from Pinos Altos to the Gila Cliff dwellings, I decided take the pave to the road that goes to the top of Signal Peak.  On the way I got passed by two of the Tecos boys but was able to use their draft for about 15 minutes.  That kind of smoked me, but it saved me some time. 

I climbed the road to just below signal peak and hopped back on the CDT to ride a pretty sick descent back to the pave in Pinos Altos.  The first 3.5 miles were off camber with about 3 inches of new pine needles on top.  Luckily I was rolling the Stout up front so I didn’t slide around much.  The last 3.5 miles sucked as it was rock garden after rock garden.  My arms were starting to feel hot and I remembered that I hadn’t put on any sunscreen.   Whoops.

I ended up making it into town about 2 laps into Jen’s crit.  I scored me a fat burrito from some hippie grocery store and put myself in spectator mode.  I ended up getting a couple of good pics.

Jen finished with the pack and on the final day finished 11th to move up to 15th overall in GC.  I think she was the most improved over the week and was able to walk home with 4 times as much money as she did when she finished 9th five years ago.  I was able to do another ride on the CDT (Pinos Altos to Gomez Peak and back into town to fetch the Benzo) and make it back right after Jen finished.  It was definitely a good weekend.

Enjoy the pics from my mediocre camera phone.  I’m hoping for a real digi-cam for my birthday!

Here’s a view from the CDT looking northwest.

Here’s the stamp of approval.

Why does my beater bike always want to take breaks against trees?

The beater bike taking a break next to a tree.

Gord Frasier and Henk Vogels before the final stage.  Henk says he has to sleep on his back.  He’s a true hardman!

There’s Jen hanging at the back.

Those are some nice rear ends!

 

I used to come down to Vegas almost every winter when I lived in SLC.  The trails at Bootleg were just being born and people were loving the flowy goodness at Cottonwood.  So on our way into town….after riding Fantasy Island in Tucson and Estrella in Phoenix…we hit Bootleg for some ill riding.  I was a bit skeptical since we’re rockin’ the 20t on the SS’s.  But it gets the SS stamp of approval.  I suggest Boyscout….and pretty much anything else that hugs the contour.

Today we hit Cottonwood.   I used to tell everyone that Vegas was one of my favorite places to ride.  I still think that is true.  Cottonwood is covered in trails now.  They are a good one foot deep in some spots as well.  I remember them being surface trails back in the day.

We hooked up with Nat Ross for another couple hours of sweetness.  Nat’s rockin’ some fatty prototype rims.  They are OCR’s that look to be about 25mm wide.  They make his Jones tires look huge.

Other than being quite cold up here, it looks like it’s going to be a good holiday.

I find it funny that so many “racers” try to train all winter in the base mode.  They tend to insist on doing this on the road.  So when it’s freakin’ 25 F in the am, they are stacking on clothes to ride their road bike for 4 or 5 hours.  Dumb.  Most of them don’t even get into the aerobic zone.  They spend most of their time freezing their butts off doing a 4 to 5 hour active recovery from a ride they never did.

I prefer to hit the trail.  It’s much warmer due to the slower speeds, but the pace is generally at the top end of the aerobic zone just below the ventilatory threshold.  Every now and then you’ll have to gasp for air up a steep climb, but rarely do you fry yourself.

 Yesterday was a beauty.  4:30 ride time, 4 miles of pavement.  No loops or repeats on any trails.  Ate about 2000 kcal when I got home.  A bit more sun on the face but I remembered to wear sunscreen this time.

I keep kicking myself for not starting a cycling team when I first came to UTEP in ’04.  I figured there would be little interest.  This year some of my classmates stepped up and instead of just forming a cycling team, they started an endurance club.  This club is slowly morphing into a cycling team.

Our most popular outings are bike rides, both road and mountain.  Finding college kids with the same schedule is impossible, but we are averaging 5 riders on every mountain bike ride, and the road rides consistently have 3 or 4.  Yes, I’m sure someone from Ft. Lewis or CU might read this and get a huge laugh.  Yeah…all you rich kids up there have it made with mommy and daddy buying you sweet full-suspension bikes.  I’m sure you have crowds of youngin’s lining up for group rides.

Here in Paso, things are a bit different.  Many of the residents of this town have never visited our state park, the largest urban state park in the nation.  Many of our students here have never ridden a bicycle.  Most are on some sort of financial aid.  $500 for a bicycle is too much for them…considering most of them haven’t spent much more than that on their car.

The mentality here is different.  Riding a bike is something only the extremely poor people do.  In order to keep from appearing poor, you must own and regularly drive your car.  That’s what happens when you live less than a mile from a city where most of the residents are lucky to make $40 a week.  Yep.  That’s not a typo….forty dollars a week.

But things are looking up here in the borderland.  Cycling in Mexico is growing as fast as the middle class.  Almost 3000 entrants in the Chupacabras is proof of that.  The METS now have 44 people on their email list, and one of our members just ordered her first mountain bike from Randall Scott online.  Small steps caballeros.  Small steps.

This past weekend four of us rode/hiked to the top of north Franklin peak.  It was an awesome ride, but a bit disappointing due to the smog over the city and valleys.  Two girls in the club hiked up to Mundy’s Gap.  For one of the girls, it was her first hike ever. 

Here’s a view from the summit:  http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u316/fastmtnbiker/franklin%20summit/franklinpeak16.jpg

Here’s the three guys climbing.  Yep…Jen kind of put the wood to us on that climb:  http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u316/fastmtnbiker/franklin%20summit/franklinpeakride1.jpg

So those of you who have to deal with too many people at the trail head or so many people at your club meeting that no one can sit down, come join us here in El Paso.  It’s November and we’re still slathering on the sunscreen and wearing camel backs and shorts.  If you are afraid of visiting, at least send some good vibes that will keep the kids interested in mountain biking my way.