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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My second attempt at the AZT 300 snapped up on me much faster than last year’s.  My fitness was WAY below what I had going into last year’s, and I spent the final week trying to figure out what bike to ride.  I really wanted to ride my Superfly 100 set up as a SS, but I couldn’t get the brakes from sounding like a howling wolf with a tracheotomy.  They chattered and howled and drove me nuts….not just with noise, but with inconsistent feel.  Not a good thing.  So I went back to the Dirty Girl which proved her worth on about 750 miles of the toughest single track routes known to humans on some of my adventures from last year.

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So Dirty Girl got a new chain and the much more powerful Elixer brakes from my Superfly.  I also switched over to my Fox fork which hadn’t been used since AZT 2012.  The night before the race, I rushed to finish a new frame bag for it in order to highlight a new fabric I recently picked up, but my rush caused a poor fit that I wasn’t pleased with…at all.  Oh well, there was nothing wrong with my old bags.  I still got more sleep that week than the week previous to AZT 2012.

Our drive to Parker Lake was uneventful and we arrived to see Judd and Rhino setting up camp.  Rhino was rocking one of my harness/pouch systems and it looked good on his bike.  Later, others started to show up and sometime well after I had crawled into the warm covers, a large group rolled in.  It was the shuttle from Picket Post (the 300 mile finish point) which was supposed to leave at 5:30 pm.  It’s only a couple of hours driving from Picket Post to Parker Lake, so I secretly hoped they had hit the bar to begin the dehydration process early.

DAY 1

The next morning was gorgeous and the parking lot got packed quickly.  There were a few other Nuke Sunrise product spottings.  One was the tiny Rich Wolf and his red and yellow seat bag.

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A bit of socializing and a briefing from Scott Morris, and we were on our way.  This year I led it out.  Aaron Gulley quickly moved past on his way to a record time.  I never saw him again.  A couple of other guys got around me as well, but knowing the trail and my fitness, I held back as much as possible.  The first section of the Canelo Hills brought little drama except for the unnecessary hefting of Dirty Girl over a fence which was off-route.  A re-heft found myself and the 3 others I caught up to at that time quickly back on course where I pulled away from them all.  I drained my first bladder about a half mile from the end of the trail.  I waited till I hit the pave to trade bladders and make a small adjustment to the front brake caliper.  On the road I spun my giant legs and clown feet as fast as they could spin and actually caught up to Chad.  Ross from Australia caught me and the three of us were soon at Sonoita where some early starters were exiting and Pete Bassinger was eating.  After grabbing a bunch of crap food, I went outside to eat, top off my bladders, and finish a bottle of Gatorade.  Pete was helping Neil with his fork which despite looking almost brand new, was not working at all.  Pete grabbed his shock pump back and rolled out.  Ezster rolled in and I rolled out after Pete and Chad.

The next section of dirt took us into the Kentucky Camp section.  I forgot how difficult this section was, distracted by the fun sections of swoopy descending and flume singletrack, quickly catching and passing Pete and Chad both.  Thinking I could make it all the way to Colossal Cave with the water I had, I passed on topping off at Kentucky Camp…..bonehead move #1.  At this point in time I was well ahead of Pete and Chad and well ahead of my time from last year.  I cruised on and eventually had to take a break where Chad, Pete, Aaron Boatman, and a guy from Tennessee came past me.  I eventually got going again and caught up to the last two and put a little time on them.

Night started to come and the lights came out.  I eventually passed the spot I camped the previous year and wasn’t near the level of tired I was the previous year, but I was starting to worry about water.  About that time I heard the worst sound ever.  The psssst of air quickly leaving my tire due to a cut sidewall.  This of course was payback from Aaron B. as about an hour before he warned me to heed the rocks I was popping out from under me with “save those sidewalls”.  The previous year I was shocked to see he did not have his GPS tethered to his bike, and sure enough, he ended up losing it….backtracking the next day to find it still on.

I quickly got off and tried to get my wits together.  The cut was pretty big, but only about 3/4″ went through the threads of the sidewall.  Stitching it up was the only desirable choice in my book.  I removed the wheel, found my repair kit, and went searching for my needle and thread.  Grabbing the thread, I pulled it out….sans needle.  I searched the box for the needle and found it stuck in my Leatherman Micro.  Crap.  Threading the needle was going to suck.   It was dark and my close up vision is long gone.   I focused my lights on everything and after only two tries, I got it threaded and knotted.  Leaving the tire seated on the rim, I stitched it up quickly.  In the meantime, a bunch of people passed me….Eszter, Aaron, Tennessee, Chad, ???  They all asked if I was ok.  I mumbled that I could use some water, but nobody wanted to lighten their load for me.  After running the stitch up and then X’ing it back down, I tied it off, added a bottle of sealant, and hit it with an inflator.  It held!!!  I packed everything away and was back on the trail.  I’m pretty sure it didn’t take me much over 5 minutes….but then again, time is weird on rides this long.

Back on the trail I passed a guy that had fallen in a cactus.  (This may have been before I flatted.)  There’s no other way to describe his predicament as other than being ‘effed.  He knew it too.  I was actually afraid he might go into shock.  I asked him if he had duct tape….he which had wrapped not so neatly around his seatpost…..and told him to get to work with it.  I asked him if he had a Leatherman…..which he did….and I told him to start digging.  He eventually gave up and made his way to the highway flagging down a Border Patrol vehicle finally making it to a hospital.  His saga is highlighted with a picture of all the thorns he removed on the bikepacking.net forum here.

I continued to cruise along towards I-10 in hopes of some trail magic in the form of a gallon jug full of water.  I caught back up to Chad as we crossed the highway to the final section of trail to the I-10 tunnel.  I mentioned that I was getting tired and that if I found water I’d put down for the night.  As we entered the tunnel, I saw 3 jugs of water!….or what appeared to be water.  They were not full, so I assumed that the intended user had already topped off and left behind what they didn’t need.  I filled one of my bladders with fluid from two of them, and sure enough, one of them was not water.  It was pretty weak tasting so I couldn’t pinpoint it.  Fermented Vitamin Water?  Fermented Gu2O?  Zima?  Bartles and James?   I wasn’t sure, but it wasn’t burning my throat or making my stomach upset, so I cruised on soon catching back up to Chad…..soon followed by bonehead move #2.

Chad and I worked our way up the final climb that would have taken us over to Colossal Cave and on to a totally sweet picnic area with a water spigot, but we wimped out and camped in a flat spot where the train woke us up 4 times in about 5 1/2 hours.  Cramping also woke me up.  Most of it occurred in my feet and in my back/neck.  I was hoping this was not due to dehydration, but it was most likely that combined with my poor fitness and the fact that I did a pretty stellar job hauling my big ass up and down a bunch of hills for 95 miles.  Sleeping here was not the best choice.  Chad didn’t snore, but that train was VERY loud.  In hindsight, I’m sure I could have made it to the picnic area without much more suffering and had a much quieter sleep in cooler temps.

Strava file for the day here.

DAY 2

Early the next morning Chad and I wound up at the picnic area where we came across Neil.…the guy with the blown fork.  He, Luke, and Casey got around us sometime in the night.  Luke and Casey were not there.  I emptied the suspect water from my bladder and topped off quickly chasing after Chad where we ripped some sweet singletrack that was added to the course since the previous edition.  Soon we rolled into the Rincon Market where the bitchy owner told us about calling the Sheriff on a couple of riders who slept on her porch.  I bought two Don Miguel breakfast burritos and a crapload of other crap and enjoyed a break on the porch with Chad and Max Morris who had put down early….I think I passed him before I flatted.  I got reloaded and headed out alone realizing that I left my coffee cake on the table next to Ray’s bike.  Ray was another singlespeeder who had his sweet Seven frame get crushed by a truck on Reddington Rd. during last year’s race.  He looked pretty beat and also mentioned a cut tire on which he had stitched in a patch.  I wasn’t too worried about him and took off wondering where some of the other racers might be….maybe at the Safeway?  Maybe already to Prison Camp?  Meh.  I kept moving.

The cruise up Reddington was pretty uneventful and traffic was non-existent.  Pretty awesome for a Saturday.  I messaged Jen at the bottom of Reddington since my SPOT refused to work.  It was 10 am local time and the heat was starting to come on.

I saw Max headed up the road a couple of switchbacks down, but he didn’t catch me until I stopped under some shade to eat a snack.  We rode together all the way to the top of Milagrosa where we topped off with water.  Max was pretty beat down, super skinny, and mentioned something about finding some shade.  I took off to tackle the switchback hike-a-bike to the Molina Basin campground where I topped off with water again….both efforts were quick, but I chose to pump from the creek so it took more time than you’d think.  The next water was more than 15 miles up the road and I did not want to go dry.  Max said the nice restaurant at the top of the mountain closed at 9, but I wanted to be there before dark.  I topped out on the climb just as it went dark….7:15ish??  I went into the restaurant surprised that it was almost empty on a Saturday night.  I quickly ordered two meals….a pulled pork sandwich with soup and salad, and a turkey sandwich to go.  Then came bonehead move #3.  I ordered Coke.  I’d yet to take on any caffeine, but I figured I’d ride until midnight or so and it would help keep me awake.  In a few minutes, Casey, Luke, Max, and Ross all poured in followed by Neil.  I was super stoked to see Max for I feared the worst for him after we parted ways at the top of Milagrosa.  I spent over an hour inside taking care of hygiene and refueling.

When we left it was buttass cold and we were all layered up for the decent down Oracle Ridge.  I couldn’t wait for this portion as it was one of my favorite portions from 2012.  The road down was no fun as a dozer…. or a crew of idiots in crappy jeeps….WTF?…. had completely softened up the road surface.  I struggled to get down safely and finally got to the singletrack where it seemed the temps went up quite a bit.  I worked my way through the climbs and decents until I came to a really nice spot with soft sand and no wind.  It was only about 9:30.  Since I love sleeping outside, I put down for the night.  A few more riders came by, but I wasn’t worried as I really wanted to get a great night’s sleep.  I  removed my shorts and wasn’t even all the way in my sleeping bag and passed out for almost 6 hours of sleep.

Day 2’s Strava file here.

DAY 3

With no alarm set, I got up around 3:30 (according to Strava…which may be reflecting MST instead of the wacky non-daylight savings AZT).  I quickly got back on the trail and passed somebody tucked away on the side of a gnarly section of trail.  Whoever it was kind of freaked out thinking I was going to hit him.  No problems though and I was on my way.  Then I passed the trio of Neil, Luke, and Casey.  Neil was up and about, but I kept on rolling.  The sun was coming up and I was dreading the passage across the desert to Kelvin.

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It has some great trail, but it can get hot and seem endless out there.  Not long after the sun rose, I was rolling into the Kanally Ranch house and quickly cleaned up at the hose.  Luckily I did not top off my water here as it turned out it wasn’t so great, almost causing record setting finisher Aaron Gulley a disaster in the middle of the desert.  I cut the top half off my home made tyvek bivy and threw it in the trash just to drop a half pound, and changed my socks.  Bonehead move #4…..I didn’t reapply sunscreen after washing my face.

Rolling into Oracle I was pretty bummed that the grocery store wasn’t open yet but I plowed on to the Circle K.  It had a surprisingly decent selection, but since I had just finished off the sandwich I ordered the night before, I didn’t grab anything substantial.  They did have bananas!!!  At this point I probably made the smartest move of the weekend.  I filled my empty bladder with ICE!  As I was rolling out, Neil was rolling in.  He looked great and was super motivated.  On my way back to the highway, I saw Luke and Casey killing time at the trailhead on the Oracle road.  I waved and rolled on.  I rode for another couple of hours on the awesome switchbacks up and down the washes until my tire finally gave up.  Here came bonehead move #5.  I removed the stitches from my tire and without removing the tire from the rim, I restitched it wrapping a tire plug under the stitch.  This did not hold well so I attempted to patch it.  My glue was unopened, but it had turned to a gel and it didn’t work.  I then plastered a piece of Gorilla tape on it.  At this time, Neil rolled up and hung out with me while I finished it up.  This seemed to do the job and I punctured my last Big Air cartridge.  We rolled on down the trail to see a pretty amazing sight for sore eyes.  It was Jen Judge (Aaron Gulley’s girlfriend), Caroline Soong (Kurt Refsnider’s girlfriend) and another female.  Was I hallucinating?  We quickly exchanged pleasantries and rolled on.  Caroline took this rad photo of me and Neil.

neil and dave azt 2013Neil and I wound up at the Beehive Well and took a break under the shade of the building there and I took off without him.  Eventually I made it to the Freeman water cache to find Aaron from Wyoming taking all the shade under the Mesquite tree.  I quickly topped everything off (both 100 oz bladders were dry) and rolled on.  I noticed it was getting kind of late in the day so I stopped to eat an MRE.  It was delicious and I was on my way.

Soon though, my tire went low and I pinched it crossing a wash.  This time I wasted no time taking it off the rim so I could do something to the backside of the hole.  I removed the flapping Gorilla tape (I couldn’t believe it was still clinging on) and balled up all the adhesive from on top of my stitch job.  Then I dabbed some Gorilla brand super glue on there.  I then put two layers of Gorilla tape on top and used the last of my Big Air to seat the tire.  Yay!  Still tubeless.  Neil finally caught back up to me and we rolled on….into this very nice Crotalus atrox.  It didn’t even rattle….pretty rare for a diamond back as they usually get all pissed off and let you know where they are.

?????????????That was the third snake I saw that day.  The other two were WAY too fast to photograph…..one being a black racer of sorts maybe 6′ long, the other a red snake about 5′ long that came right at me!

Neil and made the goal of getting to Kelvin before dark.  FAIL. At the bottom of Ripsey we  saw this cheesy love note from Jenn to Aaron.

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We got to the top of Ripsey as the sun went bye bye and we had to break out our lights.  We did our best to rip the switch backs down to Kelvin where I ended up getting Cholla balled for the first time ever in my life.  I pulled out the Leatherman micro where the ball promptly jumped from my leg to my hand.

Neil and I finally got to the large parking lot that’s about a half hour from Kelvin and it was DARK.  We knew nothing would be open and I was pretty bummed at the thought of having to pump water from the Gila.  Lucky for us some kind trail stewards were keeping the trailhead stocked with Kearny water.  We at first thought it was reserved for a group calling themselves Kearny, but then we saw multiple dates on the jugs going back a couple of weeks and I remembered that there was a town called Kearny.  Duh.  Let’s top off!!!  We then hitched our bikes to the hitching posts in the parking lot and ate dinner.  It was 9 pm local time and my last MRE tasted like a million bucks.  Beef ravioli!

On we went to the awesome singletrack that lasts forever.  FOR EVAH!!!  Sheez.  4 hours later (and we weren’t goofing around) we still weren’t climbing away from the Gila.  So when we hit a nice gate in an even nicer sandy area, we decided to take a 30 minute nap.  Alarms were set and I rolled out the bed roll and spent a couple minutes getting enough air into my pad to be comfortable.  A nearby cow seemed a bit distressed at our presence and I shouted out, “Sing us to sleep Bessy!”  The next thing I remember was waking to my alarm.  Holy crap!  That was the best nap ever. Just as we started packing back up, Ross rolled by.  He said his knee was shot and he was quitting after 300.

Not long after the nap, we were finally climbing away from the Gila.  I told Neil that I didn’t want to climb that last section in the daylight as 2012 put the hurt on me and it wasn’t even that hot.  I was bummed to escort the young rookie through one of the most beautiful desert environments on the planet.  Saguaros 50′ tall, grottoes, and huge barrel cacti, cliffs and rocks and tons of vegetation,  and we couldn’t see any of it.  What was really trippy is that every time we passed a Saguaro, it felt like we were riding in a dense forest.  The temps were perfect for putting in a hard effort at the end of a 300 mile jaunt across one of the most unforgiving deserts anywhere.  We hear frogs (saw a good sized toad on the trail) in some the cold side canyons indicating that water must be present.  I ran up on a bobcat that trotted up the trail and then turned to stare at me for a while.  I waited on Neil to proceed as I didn’t want to mistake what I thought was a bobbed tail for a full size one attached to a 200 lb super cat.

On we went eventually catching up to Ross who was taking a rest near the crux of the top of the inner canyon.  I got a bit excited and turned up the heat a little as we began some descending.  From this point on I never saw Neil again until the finish.  As the sun came up I ripped the final descent to the sound of waking birds to the parking lot where Jen and Connor were still sleeping.  I finished in 2 days, 21 hours, and 23 minutes.  11.5 hours faster than the previous year and on a single speed!  5th overall and no other single speeders nearby.  It was an awesome ride!

post AZT 2013

No….that is not an ice pack on my crotch.  It’s the leftover crust from an entire loaf of bread from which my family thought I’d enjoy.  The butter was delicious.

Final Strava files here and 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.

Here are a couple more photos from the 12 hour.

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

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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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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.

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.