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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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The camping in Breck has been interesting.  We are now surrounded by a Texas Wheelchair (ATV) convention and the rain has been pretty steady.  Downtown Breck is PACKED with cyclists and 4th of July drunks. 

Jen is racing tomorrow and I’m hanging out giving her a feed.  She’ll be on the hardtail rolling the Pacenti NeoMoto in the rear and the Nanoraptor in the front.  Her ride today was rippin’ fast.  She should do well as long as we don’t get sick from the lake water we put into our camper.  Yeah….long story which I will spare you from.

Luna has a new boyfriend.  His name is Koa and he’s awesome.  He really loves Luna and they play together well.  Koa belongs to Pua and Ron Sawicki.  He’s absolutely hilarious.

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Ron and Pua have been awesome to hang out with.  Ron is very generous with his stuff.  So far I’ve borrowed his Nomad bike wash and his bench grinder.  He’s also kicked down some Infinit nutrition and some Okole Stuff…which absolutely rocks.  It will definitely be nice to have in a 6 day stage race…which I start Sunday.

I hope it rains a lot!  I love riding my SS in the slop.  6 days of slop would be even more awesome.

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

"The Elephant" from Smuggler's Canyon

"The Elephant" from Smuggler's Canyon

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

two holes with one stone

two holes with one stone

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

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

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

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

Ryan Cody taking top honors.

Ryan Cody taking top honors.

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

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

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

Here are some of the views from our hike.

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

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

A pretty view looking to the south.

A pretty view looking to the south.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

I think that today had to be one of the craziest days in my life.  It started at about 3:30 when I could no longer take the tasks in my head anymore.  I had to get out of bed and get to work.  So I got on the computer, finished writing my final assignment for my teacher certification, then went to work making stupid little signs for the Puzzler…like “Sign in at feedzone before going to start line” and Station 1 – License Check.  After Jen woke up at 6, I immediately started printing the signs.  I also printed 20 blank # plates on cardstock.

Then I loaded my backpack full of stakes and arrows to mark the course into the Benzo.  Loaded my other pack for school with a change of clothes and lunch.  Ate breakfast, walked my dog, took care of hygiene, then finally headed out at 7:25.  I had a meeting at 8 am.  My dad called me on my ride in….which I did on my frankencrosser…so I called him back to make sure nothing was wrong.  I cut him off as I had to be at my meeting.  After signing in, I found out where the meeting was and headed down.  School started at 8:45, so that spared me from anymore mumbo jumbo from worthless central office employees.

First period class, got observed…as expected…by central office employees at the end of class.  2nd period common planning with my team.  Ran around like a chicken with no head for about 20 minutes trying to get lab book from team coach.  Made copies, distributed them, heated can of soup on laboratory hot plate.  Packed up physics lab materials, ate lunch, headed to lunch duty, then went to class….outside at stadium.  Back inside for the rest of class.  Then my 4th period hell class, which went fairly well except a bunch of snooty girls did their nails and shit and got totally ripped on the polish fumes.  Jen walked in at 3:30 to lots of fanfare from my students. 

Oh shit!  We’ve got to mark the heinrich area trails….and I didn’t ride my mountain bike to school.  So I Phelan’d it with a 30 pound pack and pounded stakes all over the heinrich trails.  We taped a bunch of signs onto big rocks.  Freakin’ hilarious.  Rallied Tomac style back to car just before dark.  Got home, took in big boxes of cheap ass water bottles for Puzzler (they look great, but they are hard to squeeze), made delicious salad, microwaved some veggie lasagna, ate and finished up my portfolio for teacher cert. 

Proofed through the portfolio with Jen, printed that beeaawtch, and organized.  Interview is Thursday night.

A little blog time and I’ll be ready for bed.  Next week I should be a fully certified teacher.  Maybe I’ll finish my masters and so I can earn that extra $1000 a year.

Wow!  What an amazing weekend.  I probably should have ridden longer/harder/faster, but I got a lot of stuff done and introduced some new folks to the northeast trails.  Rudy from the UTEP bike club brought some friends out and I gave them a little tour.  We hit Mad Cow, looped back to the dam, then went back up to the “tire” to hit Stan’s and and the last bit of the Puzzler before the feedzone. 

The only reason Jen and I wore our knee warmers was because the wind picked up.

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Before we met up with these guys, the sun was blazing and the wind hadn’t picked up yet.  We saw a garter snake.  The views were amazing.  We were up on Sotol when I went for the camera and realized I’d left it on top of the car.  I rarely drive to the trails, but since we were meeting these guys, we figured we’d take the single speeds….which wastes some serious time on the roads getting to the trails.  We also had some errands to run afterwards.  We took the b-line back to the benzo and happily…my camera was just chilling on the roof. 

Good thing.  Jen was able to snap this sweet poser shot with me in my hummingbird attracter kit and not so matching yellow socks.

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The day before, Jen and I saw this fat feathered friend on a ridge line.  This is one of the fattest hawks I’ve ever seen.  I could see him pretty well, but the camera was a little lacking.  I refuse to carry a huge camera with a big ass telephoto lens.

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Thirty people have registered for the Puzzler.  That’s more than last year, and most of last year’s entrants waited until the day before the race to enter.  Hopefully that will be the same this year and we’ll hit our target of 50.

I’ve got some stuff for sale if anyone is interested.  I’ll send pics if you ask.

Hayes HFX Mag brakes with both fat aluminum levers and carbon levers – $50 for the pair

Surly Jim Brown Disc bolt on hubs, 32 hole, with freewheels 17-22.  21 and 22 are White Industries – $150

26″ Fox RLC 100mm disc only.  Will include 1st gen stan’s rim laced to DT Swiss Onyx disc hub with Revolution spokes.  Steerer about 7″. $350  BBB5 brake another $40.

Magura Hugin Rear Shock….almost brand new.  6.5×1.5.  Comes with lots of hardware to mount to any bike that uses that length shock.  Mounted to Jen’s Racer-X for about 3 rides.  Back on Fox for this season.  $125

That’s what this guy thinks about the Puzzler.  I haven’t yet tried to do the entire 50 yet, but the 35 mile loop is a killer.  I usually include a ride to and from the trailhead when I do it, so that adds an hour.   What’s scary is that the big climb is at the end of the 35 mile loop and the additional 15 mile loop is freakin’ slow.  It’s so techy that it may be a cause for concern on race day.  I’ll be doing my best to evaluate everyone who makes the time cut before they head out for  the final loop.

I would dare to say that it is the toughest race in Texas and probably a lot tougher than some other endurance events around the country.  Breck 100 sucked.  It was really high altitude.  The techy portions were all downhill, so that helped, but being 100 miles makes it a different game.

The Puzzler is definitely the toughest 50….by far.  I can’t wait for this year’s race.  I hope that by having the sag vehicles, more people will be willing to give it a shot.  Completing a course this tough on your own or for training is more difficult than in a competitive setting.  So I’m hoping that more people give it a shot this year.