Oct 29, 2011

Maiden voyage of the Mission 1

This morning I met a friend at Sprain Ridge Park in Yonkers, NY to get a quick and early ride in before the forecast snow began to fly. At 7:30 this morning JP and I were dropping into some gnarly-fun singletrack. It was my first ride on my new full suspension bike. I must say, this bike is incredible. I need to add a few more PSI to the rear shock but other than that the bike rode beautifully. I was throwing it into some really sketchy rock gardens and it seamed to just eat it right up. I also hucked it off a few 3 and 4 footers with no problems. Love it! The only bummer about the ride was that I managed to twist my left knee pretty badly. I have never felt a sensation like it before - like strands of rope snapping. Ouch! I'm hobbling around (again), but I think another trip to the doctor is in order... Below is a quick video made from footage snapped with my iPhone.

Oct 18, 2011

New wheels

Last Friday, I ordered a new All Mountain (AM) bike from Diamondback. I haven't paid much attention to Diamondback since around 1997 when I was enamored with their OCLV technology during their Rocketboy Campaign. You know, the good old days of '95 & '96 when Travis Brown (and his famous side burns) was ripping it up on the XC pro circuit. At any rate, I was looking for a good AM bike to ride at Blue Mountain Reservation and the Mission 1 seems to fit the bill. The Mission 1 has 6" of front and rear travel, both adjustable and both have lock-outs. The components are roughly, mid level and nothing fancy but the bike is 100% ready to rock as is. I won't be upgrading any of the parts until they break or prove insufficient for my riding. I'm so eager to take big hits with this bike. I've been so careful on the Cannondale when riding at Blue Mountain; now I'll have a bike that can take a real beating! It should arrive this Friday. Below is a photo of the bike and an exploded view of the 4-bar linkage system Diamondback calls their "knucklebox" technology.

Excellent AM skills video

I stumbled upon this video the other day and really enjoyed it. In my 17 years of mountain biking I believe I've watched one or possibly two actual skills videos. Well, my eyes are wide open to them now. I actually learned a lot and found myself outside practicing my newly learned cornering technique. In this video Fabien Barel from the Mondraker Factory Team explains some really basic and helpful All Mountain (AM) skills in a way that is very easy to understand. The video editing is top notch providing many very clear visual demonstrations of each skill. I particularly liked the layering of videos showing Barel using proper vs improper cornering techniques at the same time. Techniques are slowed down and replayed for clarity and graphics point out where your center of gravity should be during each move. It's a lengthy yet excellent AM skills video showing how a little bit of correctly applied body movement can increase your ride's stoke factor. Enjoy.

Oct 10, 2011

The Bottle Ride - 2nd Annual Race

It's Monday morning and I find myself in the office feeling both sore and good, not unlike other Monday mornings. Recounting Saturday's race, I wash down a couple of Aleve with a sip of mediocre coffee from the kitchen here at work. In my cube, I shuffle my legs a bit to keep my slacks from sticking to the giant raspberry on my right leg. I loosen my tie in hopes of reliving a little tension from my shoulders. What an awesome race.

Above left: my left leg in 2010 after The Bottle Ride. Above right: my right leg in 2011 after The Bottle Ride.

Saturday morning I raced in the 2nd Annual Bottle Ride at Blue Mountain in Peekskill, NY (See last year's race report here). This time, I raced on my rigid single speed. Why? Because I love they way it rides: the flex of the steel, the direct connection to every impact that travels from the wheels up through the frame. Again this year, Georges's efforts in the race preparation, organization, and enthusiasm really paid off! Where else can you find a free race, comprised of a bunch of random cool cats, strong riders, prizes and on trails as brutally epic as the ones at Blue Mountain? Nowhere, mon frere. And so again, this year I raced.

So how did I do? Racers were sent off at 30 second intervals; the race followed the time trial format just as it did last year. Just, like last year, I started off aggressively, over excited and clumsily. I crashed hard, 50' into the race in almost the exact same spot as last year. The start of the course skirts off-camber, along the side of a steep hill and runs through a large rock garden. This is where I stalled, balanced for a moment, then slowly started to fall to the right, down hill. Looking downhill at my landing zone I saw nothing but boulders! And over I went, unable to disengage my cleat from my right pedal. I fell in an almost sitting position, still clipped in on the downhill side. Without a smidgeon of grace and with my arms flailing wildly, I plummeted downhill reaching out at the last second, bracing for impact. Luckily my upper body landed in a wonderful little soft patch of leaves while my hips and legs landed hard on the rocks. Adding insult to injury, my bike came to a stop on top of me.

Calm down.

While I scrambled back up the hill to the trail, I noticed my legs were scraped up but other that, they felt fine so I was eager to get pedaling as soon as possible. A race is no place for standing still you know. It's also not the place for hyped up, adrenaline fueled, clumsy riding. I had to calm myself down and ride smarter. A few minutes further down the trail and I had settled into a rhythm and started to feel very "on". My lines through the technical sections were precise and smooth as I lofted the bike over small rock patches, logs and slippery roots. I passed about 6 people in the first half of the race, and was able to stay ahead of the people behind me which was a really good feeling. My legs were loosened up and I was feeling great. So I began to push it. When I reached the long climb up Ned's Left Lung I just put my head down and chugged up the hill with a steady but ambitious cadence. I puked up a little coffee from earlier that morning, without loosing my focus and continued to turn the cranks.

Half way up Ned's Left Lung, I lost the ability to clip into my left pedal. The 2-year old wings in my Crank Brothers Candy pedals seemed to be stuck in the "open" position and would not close around the cleat in my shoe. I stopped half way up Ned's Left Lung, a grueling climb over loose baby-head sized rocks, grabbed a rock the size of a baseball and gave the pedal a few hard blows (TWSS). the wings snapped back in place and I was able to clip in for a few more feet before the pedal failed again. This time I just kept riding. Riding with only one foot clipped in is very aggravating. Every rock and log I hopped, had my left foot flying off the pedal, so I had to take them much slower than I usually would.

In the end, I think I did pretty well. The winner won with a time of 45:15. I suspect my time was probably somewhere around 60:00, but I won't know until Georges posts the times. Regardless of my time, I had a great time and even made a couple of friends who I plan on riding with. You can never have too many riding buds. Lastly, I want to thank Georges for all of the work he put into the second, Bottle Ride. Thanks G!

Oct 7, 2011

2 new prints

So, I've recently scored these two awesome Shepard Fairey prints below. What's extra cool about them is that they're both prints are signed and numbered. The one on the left is the poster that ATP asked Fairey to make for the I'll Be Your Mirror music festival. I went to that festival (Though not to thrash & mosh, but rather to see Fairey's Revolutions show) and it rocked. So, I'm glad to have this print because I was actually at the festival and saw the Paramount Theater he incorporated into the print; pretty sweet. The print on the right was released for sale yesterday and I was lucky enough to score it before it sold out. Though I don't find it as visually striking as some of his other prints, I do really like the message. And as my sister pointed out, those bright red arrows at the bottom of the print force your eyes to see the "large transgressions"I think I'll be getting both of these prints framed so they can be hung proudly at phattire headquarters.

Oct 3, 2011

Oh hell yeah

Another excellent video by Marco Toniolo. Check out his videos on Vimeo, they're all excellent! This one in particular really makes me want to ride. This guy's got some sick skills!

Marco Milivinti's training track from Marco Toniolo on Vimeo.


Yesterday I met my sister Mary at her frame shop in Summit, NJ so we could drive down to Asbury Park and see Shepard Fairey's album cover art show: Revolutions. Asbury Park itself is an odd, sleepy little town. Ocean Ave is the main drag along the shore with a boardwalk on the ocean side and all sorts of odd sights along the inland side. It reminded me of Cherynoble: old funky hotels, half built structures with concrete pillars sprouting rebar high into the air and several empty parking lots. Still, the boardwalk seemed to have a some energy to it and when you glanced around the entire scene, giant Shepard Fairy murals popped out at you in the distance. We walked around the area taking pictures of the art Fairey had posted here and there and then popped into the gallery to see his Revolutions show. I have to say, seeing his work full size and up close was really amazing. The detail he puts into the pieces and his seemingly endless creativity continue to impress me. Mary and I both bought the latest edition of his book Supply & Demand and even got it for about $15 cheaper than it sells for at the Obey Giant website; sweet! Below are a few images from the day and here is a gallery of all the images.