Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One Last Ride.

I went to bed Monday night feeling like crap and didn't feel much better come Tuesday morning. While everyone else was getting up and getting ready for a road ride, I was lying in bed trying to decide whether or not I felt like going. I finally decided that I probably wasn't going to feel any better just lying there all morning, so I might as well go on one last ride with my friends before heading back east.

We'd added a few people to our group, so we rolled out of the hotel parking lot 8 riders strong. I still felt like crap as we rode through town, but I still knew I'd made the right call to suck it up and ride. Once we got off the main highway, we didn't have to worry about traffic and other road hazards as much, so the shenanigans started. This is what happens when you take a bunch of mountain bikers and put them on a road ride together. "What happened?" you ask. Well, you really just had to be there. Or if Nixon would ever post the video he made, you might be able to get a better idea. Let's just say there was a lot of grab-assin' around. As we neared the turnaround point, I had started to feel a lot better. We all stopped and regrouped and then took off again back in the direction we had come from. As we started rolling, Eric suggested we get serious and really try to push the pace heading back. Pretty much everyone else said, "Nah." I was riding next to Nick out ahead of everyone and we were having a nice chat when Eric flew by us. Nick looked at me and said, "We can't let him do that, let's work together and catch him and drop him."

Now, listen. Some of you may already know this, but for those of you who don't, I'm slow as hell. I don't know what would make Nick think I'd be up for that kind of thing, but he seemed pretty disappointed when I laughed at him and said, "Yeah right." "Come on, he said, I'll pull you." I sighed and said, "Alright, I'll try, but I don't think I can catch him even if I am sitting behind you."

The staccato clicking of shifters grabbing more gears signaled the start of our chase as we both stood on the pedals trying to build some momentum. On a roll, we sat down and I settled in on Nick's wheel trying to stay calm and steady; trying not to blow up. Nick looked back and asked if I was alright. I gave him a thumbs up, which he apparently took as a sign to increase our pace. Miraculously, I stayed with him. As I started blowing hard lungfuls of spent air, I thought about dropping off and letting Nick go at it alone. Then I decided that if I could keep it together just a little longer, I'd get used to our quick pace. I don't know how long it took us to catch Eric. I had lost track of time as I sat there, trying not to lose my breath, trying not to lose Nick's wheel, my focus switching from Nick's head to his saddle to his wheel and back up again until I saw Eric just a few lengths ahead. "I'll be damned," I thought as we all sat up momentarily to greet one another and take a quick break. As I glanced behind us, I saw Jaime rolling up to us. He took the lead and the rest of us fell in behind him. The pace was much harder than I would normally put up with, but sitting behind three boys allowed me to hold on for a little while while they took turns pulling. Our human train rolled on for several more miles, silent except for the steady hum of chains flowing over cogs. Eventually I realized how tired I was getting and that we still had about ten more miles left, so I sat up and watched as the boys soldiered on. The rest of the crew was still a ways behind me, so I rode alone for several miles, pacing myself to ensure I'd make it back to town without bonking.

Soon enough, I rounded a bend and saw Jaime, Eric, and Nick waiting on the side of the road for the rest of us to catch up and regroup. As we stood there waiting, we realized that we should have seen Nixon by now. He had flatted on the way out and told us to go on, figuring he'd catch us on the way back. But he was no where to be seen. We decided he was probably waiting naked behind a rock to jump out and scare us or perhaps he had decided to go for a swim in the nearby river. Nixon is like that. You never know what he's up to. The rest of the group caught up and our reunited troupe minus Nixon resumed our casual pace back toward town. Before long, we caught sight of a pony-tailed figure walking a bike just ahead. Apparently Nixon's attempt to fix his flat was thwarted by a spare tube with a hole in it. So we had another roadside break while 5 completely (usually) competent bike mechanics struggled to fix a flat tire. They boys finally succeeded and we merrily rode back into town, stopping along the way to replenish our lost calories with burgers and fries.

Back at the hotel, we rewarded our efforts with showers and naps before parting ways in the afternoon. Tori went to visit a friend, Eric took another nap, I caught up on some reading, and everyone else went for a mountain bike ride. We all met up again for one last dinner together in Moab before we all went our separate ways. Veggie burgers all around, of course.

I only managed to snap a couple pictures, but one of these days Nixon will get that video up. Until then, here's all I've got:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Meet Me in Moab.

We rolled away from Blondie's Diner hoping to make it the rest of the way to Moab that night. We should have known that a glorious day can't last forever and that the night would catch up to us and drag us down until we finally gave in and stopped for the night. Exhausted and dirty, we checked into the Richfield Marriott for some showers and sleep.

Morning came around too soon, but it brought another bright day and the promise of more adventures for our wandering little group. We drove across Utah at a leisurely pace, stopping every so often for gas, food, a nice view, and to harass each other. We made it into Moab on Sunday afternoon, just in time to settle in and meet up with our good friend Nick from Fox. The five of us walked over to the Moab Brewery where Nick insisted that we all "get on the program," which meant ordering the following: A veggie burger, server picks the cheese, onion rings, and no pickle. I have to say, that was hands down the best veggie burger I've ever had.

Monday mornings are notoriously lame for most people, but not for us. We slept in a little and then hopped on our bikes and rode down to the Jailhouse Cafe for breakfast. I'm not usually a big fan of breakfast, but that place had it nailed. Scrambled eggs with a billion different vegetables and cheeses mixed in, fat thick strips of bacon, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and hot tasty coffee that didn't spill in my lap.

After breakfast, we rode back over to Chile Pepper bike shop to stock up on stuff we'd need for our ride. We got back to the hotel to get ready and to drop our dirty laundry off next door so we'd have clean clothes for the rest of the week instead of going around like the dirty stinky gypsies we really are. We took off down the road to the trail head and before long, I was riding in Moab for the first time.

And I hated it.

First it was the sand that pissed me off. I felt like we were riding through the world's biggest litterbox. Then we got past some technical sections and I thought maybe the fun part would start. Not so much. The whole trail was one technical sandy section after another with a few patches of slick rock thrown in. Not my style. Toward the end of the trail, Tori and I were trudging through the sand all pissed off and poor Nixon was riding along next to us listening to us bitch and talk shit about Moab in general. At one point, Tori and I paused our whining to wonder where Nixon had disappeared to. He had just been behind us and he hadn't passed us, but we couldn't see him anywhere. Suddenly we saw a figure on a bike pedaling rapidly toward us. As he got closer, we could tell he wasn't going to slow down. Then we realized why. He was naked except for his shoes, holding his clothes in his hand as he whizzed by us. We just kinda looked at each other and then laughed, grateful for the comedic relief.

It had been a hard, hot day and Tori and I were quite displeased with our ride. Our sour moods didn't help the boys much, so it was a quiet ride back to the hotel. Showers and naps soon rallied our spirits and once again our merry troop went in search of food. Tori lived in Moab once, so she knew of a great spot to eat. As the sun dropped, bringing on the cool evening, we sat under strings of bare light bulbs laughing at one another over several bottles of wine and huge plates of local fare. We were all spent and pretty tired from the finished day and we knew the wine would bring sleep to our heads before long. We spent the rest of the evening catching up on e-mails, making plans, and watching mountain bike videos before dozing off in anticipation of an early morning road ride.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

One of Those Days.

As I sat down to breakfast next to Nixon, my standard hotel coffee from the breakfast bar was suddenly replaced by a fresh cup from the coffee shop in the lobby, courtesy of Troy. He's good like that. As the four of us chatted about our plan for the day, I gratefully took a sip from my paper cup. Whoever happened to be talking at the moment (Nixon, I think), was loudly interrupted by me quickly jumping from my chair and saying "oh shit ow fuck that's hot ow." I hadn't noticed that the coffee shop lady hadn't gotten the plastic lid all the way on the cup and, consequently, blazing hot coffee had spilled in my lap, McDonald's style.

That's how my day started.

While I was upstairs changing pants, the rest of our crew had been talking to a couple of guys who had just been to a trail called Thunder Mountain. They were raving about it and Troy was in the mood to try out a trail he hadn't been on yet, so we finished breakfast, printed some directions, and off we went. The trail wasn't too far out of our way to Moab and we'd get to drive through Zion National Park to get there, so we figured we had a pretty good plan. However, the crew at the gate to Zion didn't agree. They took one look at The Superliner and said, "Nope." There were some tunnels and steep windy roads through the park and they were pretty sure Troy's rig wasn't going to make it through. We hatched a new plan. Troy found a spot on the side of the road just before the gates and parked there. He and Nixon put all the stuff they would need in Tori's rig and the lady at the gate laughed at us as we went through.

We had a lovely drive through the park. In some places, we all gazed up at the massive bare rock formations cut jagged by wind and water, crowned with proud arches. In other places, we marveled at the maze of deep canyons slashing through the sandstone. And everywhere in between we admired the vast spectrum of colors cloaking the landscape. We made it through the park and back onto a normal boring highway. We managed to entertain ourselves for a little while with the camera:

But that could only last so long. Then there was the incident of the angry boner ... ahem ... Nixon (two boners in two days!). And finally we arrived at our destination.

Clouds loomed overhead, but the weather forecast claimed they wouldn't fall. Not that it mattered, we were intent on riding, dry or not. We took awhile getting ready, pumping up tires, checking shock pressures, and in general, just kind of messing around. We were all hungry for single track by the time we started pedaling. Unfortunately, we had about 2 miles of climbing on a paved trail to conquer first. Tori and I reached the top ready to hit the trail, but we had to stop so Troy and Nixon could share an intimate moment:

We left the paved trail and followed some double track for a bit. Soon enough, the meandering double track gained some focus and got down to some single track business. We cruised down quick descents that plunged us into a sparsely populated forest and every so often, we would climb out of the trees and up onto small expanses of exposed rock where we would be rewarded with astonishing views, each vista unique in its picturesque offering. At one such peak, the four of us peered down in eager anticipation at the trail etched in the desert panorama below us. It carved its way through the brush and pine trees, crept around the stoic silent hoodoo formations, and flowed like water through the arid basin. We stood there for a while, observing, until our excitement got the best of us and pulled us back to the trail. After miles of winding and rolling over the playful terrain, the trail spit us out across an old wash bed and back onto some double track. We thought the ride was pretty much over, assuming this double track would take us back down to the parking lot. My legs were spent and starting to cramp and I knew this was going to be a painful last two miles. Nobody was in a hurry, though, so we started to just slowly cruise along. Troy and Tori rode ahead and Nixon stayed behind me to keep me company. The trail started to roll downhill, a welcome relief to my exhausted legs. Suddenly, Troy and Tori were out of sight and I realized that the trail had once again narrowed into lively single track. It was the kind of tumbling single track that makes you forget you were tired. It makes you forget your problems and makes your cares drop away like autumn leaves. As we floated down that earthen river, I think we all forgot, for just a few minutes, that there was a world outside of this place. Without warning, the dirt turned to gravel and we found ourselves in a parking lot. No one said anything. We couldn't find the words. Troy took one gloved hand off his handlebar and held his fist out to Nixon, who silently bumped it with his own in return. That pretty much summed it up.

We rode out of the parking lot and back onto the paved trail. At that point, we all realized how hungry we were. The soundtrack for the rest of the short ride back to the car consisted only of us talking about food. We reached the car, greeted by Ms. Spokes Tumbleweed (Troy's dog) and took off back in the direction we had come. We wound our way back through Zion. The towering rocks and plunging canyons stood unchanged except for their once bright and burning hues that had darkened along with the sky. We reached Troy's truck and decided we'd stop for dinner somewhere along our way. Less than a mile later, Troy pulled over and we were sitting in a booth at Blondie's Diner devouring our well-earned cheese burgers. After that, we drove a little way toward Moab and then decided to stop for the night in Richfield, too exhausted to go any further.

Every once in a great while, we all have one of those days. The kind of day where nothing can go wrong. Where, even if something did go wrong, it wouldn't matter anyway. The kind of day that, when you look back upon it, you feel humbled and grateful and you swirl the memories around in your head, hoping they never go away.

This was one of those days.

The Beginning.

As Tori and I walked back to the car from our In-N-Out feast, we looked at the clock and realized how late it was getting. We were leaving Vegas several hours later than we had planned. We would either be driving into the wee hours of the morning to get to Moab or we would be stopping somewhere along the way. After a short while, we heard the cell phone's anxious chime. The text message told us that our traveling companions were only a half hour behind us, so we stopped in St. George, Utah to wait for them.

We found a Starbucks and went in and sat for a little while, recounting our Vegas stories and repeatedly exclaiming how much fun we were going to have in Utah. Suddenly, Tori's gaze fixed upon something outside. "There they are," she said, pointing at the unmistakable looming figure of THE SUPERLINER, piloted by none other than the intrepid Troy, around whom countless wild legends and rumors swirl like mists on the mountain tops:

Does that remind anyone else of that scene with the ship in Spaceballs? If anyone knows where to get a bumper sticker that says, "We brake for nobody," please send one to Troy.

After a quick discussion in the parking lot, we decided to call it a night there in St. George. We checked into the St. George Mariott and ordered a pizza since it was too late to go anywhere and we were all pretty beat anyway. As Tori and I settled into our room, she noticed a couple making out in the pool just below our window. They were being wildly inappropriate, so we scurried down the hall to let the boys in on the fun. Right about then, the lovebirds decided to move from the pool to the hot tub. First the lady got out and then her man followed. Imagine the wholly immature glee and excitement that came over the room when the guy stood up, proudly sporting a huge boner. Don't judge us. You know you've laughed at someone's boner before too.

So that was pretty much the highlight of our night. We were all exhausted from the week before and needed to get some rest for the week ahead. We slept in the next morning, had some breakfast, and prepared for our excursion to Thunder Mountain, which deserves a post of its own, so get ready for that.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bright Lights City.

For those of you playing along, yes, I did backdate this post. And yes, Sarah, I can do that. It's my blog and you're not the boss of me.


Chris and I managed to endure our entire 5 hour flight to Vegas without actually speaking to one another thanks to our arsenal of books, iPods, and video games. I think somehow we both knew damn well that the flight there would be the last part of the trip to go quietly. And we were right, of course. Our cohorts Tori and Lindsay were waiting for us at the airport when we landed and there was much rejoicing. After our obnoxious reunion, the four of us headed out to the parking garage to Tori's car. We couldn't find it. Tori and Lindsay forgot where they parked. After dragging our luggage on and off the elevator, across the lot and back, and up and down the stairs a few times, Chris and I finally sat down and told Tori to come pick us up when she found the car. Then we made her take us to In-N-Out burger, which was awesome.

The next day we met up with the rest of our crew out in Boulder City to set up for Interbike's Outdoor Demo (our reason for being in Vegas in the first place). It was a long, hot day and the sandy desert wind was brutal, but it was fun to get to see all of our industry pals again. Then we spent the next two days busting our asses to get as many people on bikes for test rides as we could. Of course, we did make some time for shenanigans, including a repeat of last year's Monday night ride that ended under the moon and a drunk sushi waitress who danced a lot and called us motherfuckers.

Wednesday morning we headed over to the Vegas strip to join in the festivities surrounding Interbike. Chris decided to be a loser this year and flew out of Vegas on Wednesday afternoon, so Tori and I drove over together to check in at Treasure Island. I'm kind of a big deal, so when I checked into my room, I got upgraded to a suite with a jacuzzi. The lady who was checking Tori in told her that free upgrades were done randomly, but I'm pretty sure she was only saying that to make Tori feel better about her inferior room. We parted ways at that point but then met up later with some other friends to go watch CrossVegas, which turned out to be pretty cool. Nick and I ended up calling it an early night, but word on the street is that Tori and Troy had a hell of a time. I was a little sad to miss that, but then again, I'm not the one who stayed in bed all day Thursday. Besides, I knew I'd have plenty of time with Tori and Troy the following week.

I actually did a little bit of work on Thursday. By "did a little bit of work," I mean, "I stood around drinking and talking to people." My boss and I were supposed to go to the crit races together that evening, but she bailed, which was alright because then Nick and I got to use the VIP passes she had to eat free dinner and sit around drinking free beer while not actually paying any attention to the races. We had an extra VIP pass, so I found my friend Lisa to come join us. She actually wanted to see the race, but we were sitting down, so she yelled at this random guy in a suit to get out of the way, at which point, he took our picture:

I know. Random.

Friday was departure day for Tori and me, but Nick didn't have to work, so the three of us went to lunch at Hofbrauhaus, which turned out to be a very good call. It was relatively quiet since it was lunchtime, but I have a feeling that place is super fun at night. All the tables are those long picnic table ones and if the restaurant is full, you sit with groups of strangers and drink beer and there's a dude in lederhosen playing German music and doing tricks and stuff. He also drinks beer. If anyone wants to go, call me, cause I wanna go back and have more of these really huge beers:

So with our bellies full of beer and delicious German food, Tori and I bid the City of Lights adieu and started east toward Utah for a long and eagerly awaited retreat with some of the bike industry's most brilliantly shining stars (in our minds, anyway). But we stopped at In-N-Out burger first.

I promise there will be more pictures of that adventure. Believe it or not, the two pictures in this post are the only ones I have of my time in Vegas, and I didn't even take them.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Garden State.

I didn't have any events scheduled after the one in Baltimore, but I needed to spend some time getting ready for Interbike. Once again, I was faced with a choice: 

Choice A: Spend three days driving back to Arkansas, rush to get ready to fly to Interbike, have no time off, fly to Interbike, fly back to Arkansas, spend two more days driving back out east to Raleigh.

Choice B: Spend two hours driving to Chris's parents' house in southern New Jersey, take my sweet time getting ready for Interbike, have some time off, fly to Interbike from Philly, fly back to Philly, spend a day just hanging out, spend one day driving south to Raleigh. 

It was a pretty easy call. So, I've been in Jersey all week hanging out with Chris and her parents. Chris and and I got some bikes boxed up to send to Vegas and we got some other bikes built to put in our trailers. Plus, I got ALL of my laundry clean, including the massive pile that was in my cargo box. I got in plenty of laying around time and plenty of sleeping in time. You could say it's been a pretty good week. 

Of course, we had plenty of time for shenanigans, including a trip to nearby Atlantic City and a bike ride over to the boardwalk at Ocean City for some incredible pizza and tasty fudge:

Some people eat Power Bars on the bike, but we prefer Pumpkin Fudge. That's how we roll. Now we're both finishing our packing for our flight tomorrow for some scorching Sin City bike slingin' action. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Boston Tea Party!

Sitting on the ground on the platform at the Amtrak station, I thought to myself, "Man I really feel like a hobo." Then I wondered, "Why do movies always show hobos at the train station?" I had just spent the morning in a furious rush to get to the station on time only to have to sit there and wait for a train that was running late. Soon enough, the train rolled in and I was on my way to Boston to see my old friend Kristin.

I had told Kristin I wanted to do some honky touristy stuff while I was there, so she graciously obliged me with a Duck Tour. It was definitely an easy way to see the highlights of the city and our driver was funny to boot. There weren't very many opportunities for cool pictures, but I did manage to snap one when our driver pointed out the Prudential Center, where Kristin and I were planning to go later on for drinks, dessert, and a cool view:

After our Duck Tour, we wandered around Boston a bit, doing some shopping and checking out a few of the points of interest from our tour. Then we headed back to the house to change and get ready for our venture to Top of the Hub:

If you ever find yourself in Boston for a night, Top of the Hub might be worth your time. And order the cookie plate. Because I said so.

We slept in the next morning and then headed out for dim sum. Or something. All I know is they didn't give us any forks, but my chopstick proficiency was surprisingly adequate considering I rarely eat Asian cuisine. Kristin, however, could kill a person with those things:

After we'd stuffed ourselves with various sorts of dumplings, we headed over to the Sam Adams Brewery for a tour. Of course, there were plenty of other places in Boston we could have toured, but this was the only one that offered three glasses of free beer. The tour was a lot shorter and a lot less intensive than I expected, but I was okay with that. That was just less time standing there to get my free beer. After the tour we managed to have a nice stroll in the Boston Public Garden:

Don't judge me. You can't walk past that statue and resist the urge to jump on it. By the time we finished walking around the garden, it had started to rain, so we sat down for some tasty dinner and beers and then decided to call it an early night at home. The next morning I bid Kristin farewell and hopped the train back to Baltimore.

And for the record, I didn't see a single hobo at any of the train stations.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My Hooptie.

Once again I'm venturing out of my usual territory, but that's a good thing because I get to come see places I haven't seen before. I was in Washington DC today and was planning on riding my bike on the Mount Vernon Trail, but it rained. Bummer. So then I decided I'd better at least get some work done. While I was sitting there, my pal Susan near Baltimore called and said they were going to cook-out and drink beer all afternoon. So I hightailed it out of DC to come have some fun. Susan has four kids, so there's lots of neat toys around. This thing was the first to catch my eye when I got here:

Yes. Anywho, that's all I really have for now. Don't worry. There's guaranteed to be some incredible stories in the next few weeks, including but not limited to:
  • A trip up to Boston.
  • Another night at Susan's house.
  • A few days with my nemesis, Chris.
  • A trip to Vegas.
  • A Phil Lesh & Friends show.
  • A Galactic show.
  • Quite possibly a Widespread Panic show.
Sweet. Alright. I gotta get some rest. I've got a lot goin' on soon!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Why haven't I posted in well over a month? I've been busy, alright? In fact, I'm still busy, so all you're getting is a summary. But don't worry. I'll make up for the lack of stories with a couple pictures.

I started the month of August with a women's mountain bike camp down in Dallas. It pretty much went like this: ride, eat, drink beer, sleep a little, repeat. We also sprinkled in some intense ping pong, launching cakes off teeter-totters, and a whirling dervish:

Then it was on up to Wisconsin for our annual sales meeting/dealer show. If you weren't there, it's tough to explain. If you were there, then I don't need to explain. In any case, it sure was good to see Matt:

And TJ and Ken:

And everyone else. Except the Beavers. Has anyone seen the Beavers?

I ended August with a bang at the family reunion in Branson. All I'm gonna say is this: I don't think our family is going to be invited back to that resort.

Cute Leetle Seester:

Livin' the High Life:

Out of control:

Cousin ... OWNED:

As much fun as all that was, it's good to be at home for a couple days. Even though my to-do list is seven miles long, I'm still making sure to get some quality time with some quality people:

Before I go, one last item. I received a comment on my last post from the infamous Melissa in Asheville requesting that I post this video of Becky having an intimate moment with Melissa's dog Dino. Since Melissa was such a gracious hostess while I was in Asheville, I feel obliged to go ahead and put it up. It's probably only funny if you know Becky, but then again, somebody getting humped by a huge dog is usually worth at least a chuckle. Make sure you can hear the sound:

And ... I'm out. I promise, better stories soon.