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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.

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.

I won $30 for crushing both stages of the Socorro race this weekend in a SS field that had 17 riders.  Socorro is notorious for not giving out much money.  One year I finished about a minute down on Damien Calvert for second place and the race promoter gave me a folded up $20.  Wow.  I definitely don’t do this for the money.

What do I do it for?  Socorro’s XC course got doused with rain all Friday night.  Luckily we raced the hillclimb on Saturday which was shortened due to a nice layer of new snow up top.  I smartly ran the 32X22 which I was supposed to run last year.  With ridiculously light wheels and semi-slicks, I cruised through the slick sections and floated up the steeps.  After putting a decent gap on my main competition, I backed out of the pain cave and hung out at the doorway.  In less than an hour I was at the finish which was quite nice.  Blue skies, fresh snow on the peaks, and kind of warm.  The ride down was pretty interesting with the semi-slicks and Stan’s rotors.

A bunch of us camped out near the start of the of the XC race and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon and a perfect night of sleep.  It’s pretty funny that so many people camp at this spot now.  Our first time out there we were the only ones at this spot.

The XC course was sure to be fast after getting a good soaking.  It’s amazing how much better some of the trails in the southwest get so much faster after a good rain.  After winning the SS category, I went out for a third lap.  I’m not sure where I would have placed in the pro or expert category, but I think I would have done ok.  The pro category was stacked with the regulars plus Travis Brown and Trevor Downing.  Trevor was getting really fast back when I first upgraded to semi-pro after winning the expert short track championship in ’06. 

It was a super fun weekend with a great field of racers on a great course.  Too bad the town of Socorro won’t pay out the fields better than they do.

Here are a couple more photos from the 12 hour.

ss podium

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race promoter Mike Rossen is in the background doing his best to stay awake.  I wonder if he had a headache?

solo winners

 

 

 

 

 

 

Myself and Adam Hoppe.  I’m so glad I had a recliner.

Lots of other good pics here and here and here.

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.

ss trophy

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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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.

Man.  I think I’m going to invest in a skycard so I can update my blog, check email, pay bills, and get directions when I’m traveling.  I went over a week without internet access.  Big mistake as I failed to plan our return trip.  Ooops.  And that made me grumpy….even though everything turned out well.

Here’s a quick wrap up of my trip.  We drove from El Paso to just past Abiline on Day 1.  We stayed in a Walmart lot and it hit about 20 degrees that night. 

Day 2 we hit Tyler State Park.  We rode that afternoon (first time in wool tights in over a year) and took off the next morning.  Only a few hearty souls were camping there.  It hit about 20 again that night. 

Day 3 drove to Birmingham and spent the night at Oak Mtn. State Park.  We rode the next morning and then headed to my mom’s in SC. 

Day 4 we rode Lynch’s Woods (seems like that would not be a very PC name in the deep south).  Lynch’s was covered in leaves but still rideable.  We had a good time trying to keep from drifting completely off the trail. 

Days 5 and 6 it rained.  So we didn’t hit any trails.  We really wanted to ride FATS, but it was closed. 

Day 7 we headed to my dad’s and hit Harbison on the way.  Spiderwoman was a treat….especially on the SS.  Everything else was kind of blah.  Below Jen is checking out some long leaf pine.  This species was almost completely wiped out by the timber industry who really liked growing loblolly pine due to it being a bit straighter and faster growing.

jen at harbison checking out long leaf pine

Day 8 we rode Marrington Plantation.  That was rippin’ fast as they use leaf blowers to get all the leaves and pinestraw off the nice sandy trails.  We saw this big fat bloated dead aligator.  It stunk really bad.  

bloated alligator                    leaf blower action

Day 9 I gave Jen a quick tour of Charleston.  I showed her my old school/church and checked out the Battery.  Later that day we hit Edisto Island.  It’s famous for its shells.  We scored a bunch of nice ones which we still haven’t sorted yet.  We’ll be making shell jewelry for everyone’s christmas present next year. 

Jen getting the Charleston tour        This is the corner of Broad and Church St.  ( I think )

live oaks over road  The roads to the islands have these huge live oaks growing over them.  They are quite nice during the summer.

campsite at Edisto  Jen can’t believe that palms grow wild.

horseshoe crab  This ancient creature was still alive.

 

the slide out  My dad’s camper has a slide (his girlfriend paid the additional charge for the slide)…..

rear awning …and a rear awning.  It’s a sweet rig.

Day 10 we headed back home with not much of a plan.  I got grumpy and Jen got mad at me.  We ended up driving a bit further than we planned, but we got to ride the ’96 Olympic course in Conyers on ….

Day 11.  The second loop of that course was a blast.  What a perfect single speed course.  Too bad no one was racing 29ers back then.  That course was fast!  We drove straight through Alabama and Mississippi and spent New Year’s eve in a Walmart lot in Lousianna.  Yee Ha!  Luckily it was pretty windy so our heater stayed on most of the night and we didn’t have to listen to all the necks firing off their bottle rockets. 

Day 12 we made it to Tyler again and rode a lap and a half.  Everyone we passed was in their freakin’ granny gear on a brand new high dollar rig.  We packed up and head across Texas and made it back to Abiline that night. 

Then we drove most of Day 14 back to El Paso.  How’s that for a wrap up?

I hope everyone had as good a year as I did.  Sometimes things seem really crazy and stressful, but then when I look back on it all I realize how cool everything was.

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!

 

The first weekend of the holidays was a mess.  My old man came out to pick up a camper I had purchased for him (with his money of course) that ended up not really fitting on his truck.  So we had to build a spacer to lift it high enough to keep from bumping the roof of the cab.  We also spent 2 full days getting his truck prepped with the bed liner, power plug, and tie downs as well as fixing and cleaning the camper.  When we finished…it was tip top and ready to roll.

 Here are a couple pics….   Dad and his rig in the drivewayMe, Jen, and Gary blocking the street

Luna had a tough time dealing with the old pug Yoda.  He held his own though.

Yoda, Jen, and Luna

After parting ways with the old man who decided to hurl himself into the snow country of the mid-west, we headed to Vegas. 

Luna got to try out her new shoes.  The fronts were a little big, but she seemed to enjoy them in the rough stuff.

Luna at Estrella

After slowly making our way through warm and sunny Arizona, we finally stopped on the other side of the Colorado River to ride Bootleg Canyon on Christmas day.  We came across this beauty.

ram’s head

Of course I had to mount it on the bars, but it was too hefty to ride with on the SS….up a trail that is supposed to be ridden down.  Word spread pretty quick about this beauty and it was gone when I went to get gps coordinates for it on New Years Eve.  The skeleton is still out there though.

Vegas had beautiful skies while we were out there, but it was windy and cold, so we headed back to AZ for more sun and vegetation….

 Jen at Black Canyon

Jen always enjoys the upper reaches of the Sonoran desert.  The little one hour loop on the Black Canyon trail is a blast in both directions. 

That’s all the pics I took.  We had a nice visit to Titus and watched the exogrid makers destroy some slightly blemmed tubes.  I never remember to ask if I can take pics while I’m there.  It’s such a cool place.  One guy had about a hundred exogrid tubes stacked in his office.  Very cool indeed.

Today I did laundry…6 loads.  Jen yacked and we are both trying to get our legs back after 2 full weeks of single speeding.  No regrets!

When I was a poor sack that traveled in a mini-van, sometimes tenting it, I used to bag on RV’s.  “RV’s are so…wasteful.  Their mileage sucks.  They take up so much of the road.”  Well…..that was then, this is now.  Granted there are things that are practical for some and ridiculously impractical for others.  I would never be able to afford a Class A diesel pusher with 3 slides, but there are plenty of choices for people to improve their racing lifestyle without looking like a rock band cruising down the interstate.

Jenn and I just finished what we refer to as Summer of Fun III.  Summer of Fun (that’s part I) consisted of a POS pickup pulling a Coleman pop-up camper.  We spent the entire summer on the road and even put in a full month in Crested Butte.  That was sweet until it got super hot and the black flies announced their presence.  Our poor dog got waxed by fly bites while we were killing ourselves on the high altitude trails around the Butte.

We decided that pop-ups sucked.  They are basically a giant suitcase on wheels which you must unpack anytime you want to sleep, cook, or whatever.  Sucked. 

Summer of Fun II consisted of the purchase of a used Lance Camper and a kind of new big ass truck to haul it around.  We spent 63 days in it and did the entire norba national series.  I won’t even try to total up the expense, but we never had to use credit.  And California sucked because we hit it during a horrendous heat wave….that stretched to Idaho where we tried to escape it.  No luck there.

So then came Summer of Fun III.  Not quite as fun as I and II due to me being in school.  So we planned a full month on the road to do the National Championships and a couple other races.  I did some math on this one and it is turning out to be a good investment.  Several years ago we flew back east for Snowshoe and Mt. Snow.  For the two of us, it ended up costing about 2 g’s.  And the condos we got….sucked monkey sack.  I almost cried after my first night in Mt. Snow.  Horrible beds.  If it weren’t for some stellar results, I would have been pissed.  And that was only a nine days of travel.

So SOF III consisted of about 5,000 miles of driving.  Our truck does better than 10 mpg, but for easy math sake, well say it gets 10.  At $3 a gallon average for diesel, we ended up spending $1500 on fuel.  We spent the night in a couple of campgrounds so we could have AC.  Our total for that was under $300.  Well under.  We visted to parental units…..free food there.  One of those units donated about half our fuel costs to our hedonistic cause….but I won’t count that in the final balance. 

Here’s the bonus…In and RV, you’ve got a fridge, a freezer, a shower and toilet (yea….you don’t poop in the woods and bury it halfway you nasty tent/car campers), a sweet bed that you know has clean sheets or if they are dirty, it’s your own fault, and you can let your dog hang out without having to pay any sort of security/cleaning fee.  That means no nasty hotels or condos.  No disgusting restaurant food.  Our food bill is outstanding because it’s the same as it is when we are at home.  This summer is actually cheaper because our parental units allowed us to maintain our normal weight instead of losing it due to all the riding we were doing by stuffing our faces with homemade goodness.

So our total ends up being a bit over 2 g’s…..there were race entries in there and our food was a couple hundred dollars.  That’s for an entire month of travel.  And I never had to shit in the woods and hope that I got it buried deep enough so my dog wouldn’t dig it up an snack on it.

If you are a serious mountain bike racer, I would suggest spending money on a good camper BEFORE dropping assloads on a bike.  If you are a pro, you should be getting a bike for free or almost free.  Think about the RV thing.  No sense giving some clown who pays an illegal cleaning crew minimum wage your hard earned money.  Join the chuckwagon circle and be in control.

….oh yeah…today I bought a truck camper for my dad.  Well….he paid for it.  I did the shopping and closed the deal.

Dad’s camper.