Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rollin' with my gnomies and why I love trail runners



So, you may already know that Mohican is my happy place for mountain biking. 


So, I was distraught to find out that, sometime in July, someone removed the famous gnomes at around mile seven. Everybody loves the gnomes, so for us, this was like losing the soul of the trail. 



(Heidi Coulter and the gnomes. Photo by Heidi)


There was disagreement among my Mountain Bike cohorts - some claimed the gnomes were gone, others claimed to have recently seen them. 


Naturally, I had to check the situation out for myself. So, I rode out on Saturday for a one-man gnome expedition and rescue party. 


When I reached the gnomes' hollow tree, the mystery deepened. There were indeed some gnomes there, but not all of them, and they had been rearranged. 




Fortunately, after my ride, I received a message from my friend and badass-trail runner (and mountain biker) Lauren. 


Here's what she said: 


Someone threw all of them into the woods and smashed a lot of the ceramic ones. My friend Robbie Gannon, who lives near there and lives and breathes the spirit of Mohican got his friends together. They tied ropes to the trees and scaled down the side to rescue all of them.  






Robbie is a die hard trail runner and so are his three kids. No one in the world cares more about Mohican. They literally call him "the gnome"




What kind of sick shit would smash and dump the gnomes? They better hope they stay anonymous, is all I can say. 


Now, I'm usually only a trail runner when my bike breaks, but I do see a lot of trail runners at Mohican. 


And, as Mohican 100 and OMBC Race Director Ryan O'Dell explained to me, about the Mohican 100


The race was originally born from the Mohican Trail 100 Run, at 28 years, reportedly the fifth oldest ultra run in the USA, and the home of the first ever USATF National Championship for the 100 mile distance in 2005. I became the fifth director in 2006. Early in the MTB100, it was combined with the Mohican Trail 100. At that time, with a 10+ mile road section before the singletrack trail, there were elite runners who beat slower mountain bikers to the trail.



(Photo by Josh Kunz - Ryan is in the back)


So, in my estimation, the trail runners are as big a part of the Mohican story as the mountain bikers. And, after all of this, I think they all deserve a hug. 


So, fair warning to Mohican trail runners, be prepared for a mountain biker to stop and hug you. You are my gnomie homies now!


Now, what happened to the gnomes at mile 21?



(Paul Patterson and the gnomes at 21. Photo by Uncle Paulie). 


If you want to read more about why I love Mohican so much, check out my latest Dirt Rag column here


Be brave, my gnomies. 


Friday, July 28, 2017

Couple of things



So, I have a random assortment of thoughts for you today. 

First off, I am on vacation. And, every time I'm on vacation, I'm reminded how much better it is to get around by bike. 

On past trips, I have tried to "train" on vacation. This usually leads to a boring out-and-back ride on the straightest path I could find. 

But recently, I have just picked a destination and arrived by sort of purposeful wandering. You see so much more and such cooler stuff than driving and you can cover more ground than walking. What were you going to do otherwise? Go "tourist shopping" for a bunch of overpriced crap that you don't need anyway?

My formula nowadays is a comfy bike, a backpack, my iPhone, and a couple beers. That way, I can pack stuff like a beach towel or lunch for impromptu stops. 

This time, we found lots of cool stuff off the beaten path, like the unicorn sculpture above. 





Also, an observation. I love my new moustache, but fewer people talk to me when I am out and about. Wonder why?


A double-edged sword, to be sure. But, my wife hates it, so it will probably be gone in a day or two. 

Anyhow, couple cool events in town relating to mountain biking. 

First off, Rebecca Rusch's film Blood Road, about her trip down the Ho Chi Minh trail, to find where her father's plane crashed, will be showing in town for one day. I'll be there. 




It's at The Gateway Center on August 18. Go ahead and preregister. I'll wait. 

Also, COMBO's board meeting in August will be at Alum Creek Phase Two. We will have a ride before the meeting, some cookout food, and a chance to stay and hear what COMBO's up to. I think some folks may even do a night ride after. Join us! 


And, I realize I'm behind on my Dirt Rag column. Here's my second-to-last post  about the Lumberjack 100. It was a great event and race. Even though our accommodations were "interesting."


Be brave and get lost!






Friday, June 9, 2017

I'm hurt

 

I hate this post. I hate it I hate it I hate it. 


I didn't want to even post it after I wrote it. But some tragic events have happened in the Ohio cycling community that have made my stomach sink.


And like the one-too-many beers, the post has to come out, along with some bile and the taste of self-loathing. 


So, if you're not a die-hard cyclist, don't read it. You won't understand. It will cause you concern. It may reinforce your  preconceived notions about why I'm stupid. 


Still reading? Another warning: this post isn't funny. It may make you sick like I am. 


So here it is. 


I'm rattled. And I am scared lately. Too many close calls. Too many friends hurt. 


Cycling is dangerous. There, I said it. 


I suppose I should qualify my statement. 


Riding sensibly on bike paths, in bike lanes, and on low-traffic roads are not inherently any more dangerous than any other outdoor activity. Possibly less dangerous than, for instance, hiking or rollerblading. 


But the kinds of cycling that I enjoy are inherently dangerous. 


Traffic is the main danger in city cycling. 


Fast-paced road riding risks include getting run off the road, tangled up in a peloton, chased by dogs, and wiping out on a downhill, a patch of gravel, or a tricky corner. 


Gravel grinding is, well, essentially riding on a bunch of loose rocks. Duh. 


And mountain biking. Yeah, my favorite, might be the most dangerous. When you start riding, you crash a lot. As your skill progress, you crash less, but your crashes are faster and harder. Some say, if you're not wrecking, you're not progressing as a rider. 


 


I must be progressing, because I have had every kind of wreck on every kind of bike. Some caused by me (or my lack of skills or attention), some caused by other cyclists, and I've been hit by car drivers twice. 


 


I have had concussions, broken several bones, had many, many lacerations, and I have been rendered unconscious twice. I've suffered road rash, bruises, and dog bites. I've even been burned by a brake rotor. 


 


I can't fully bend my middle finger anymore, and sometimes the screws in my collarbone painfully remind me of their existence when I try to use a shoulder bag. My right knee squeaks and gets stiff, my hip pops, and I'm pretty sure I'm ignoring a chronic rotator cuff injury. 


 


Overall, I'm healthy and no lasting harm has befallen me. I'm fortunate. 


In the last couple weeks, I have been buzzed at high speed by drivers, and have had a couple close calls on the mountain bike. Happens all the time, but I can't stop thinking of my friends, for whom that couple centimeters or milliseconds were the difference between eating dinner at home or not.  


I won't go into details mostly out of respect, but also because describing even minor injuries to my friends pulls me into a dark place. 


I have fallen into a cycle of reflection and introspection. I'm trying to understand myself (and my friends). I mean, I know it's dangerous. And I have kids and a spouse who would be deeply affected if I got hurt. 


 


So, why do it? 


Analytically, I suppose it is explained by personality. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of risk-averse to thrill-seeking. In economic terms, this is the difference between being "thrifty" and being "greedy."  Some are content with a small reward, if the cost is not high. Others are willing to gamble big for a big payout. 


I admit to being somewhat closer to the "thrill-seeking" side. This makes me greedy, because the potential adverse consequences are high, and would affect my loved ones, yet I do it anyway. 


 


But this is not a full explanation. It's not just the thrill of risk that I seek. 


It's the escape. I love the outdoors. When I'm in nature, I refocus, find my center, and at the same time, lose the baggage of everyday life. 


And there's the adventure. The new place, the new trail. What secret surprises await? 


And the challenge. Small accomplishments, like a faster lap on a trail or a smoother landing on a drop, are tiny rewards to myself. The soul-clearing exhaustion of hard and repeated physical activity is addictive. 


Cycling has given me my health back. As I age, I see a fitter, healthier, sharper me. A better me than existed before. 


I could make all of these things sound really meaningful, purposeful, important. It's easy - in western culture, rugged individuality is romanticized and constant self-discovery and self-improvement is applauded. Self-love counts more than love for others. 


Individualism is an appealing concept; it enables self-centered behavior - and it makes for inspirational memes. Imagine a picture of a winding trail through the woods with a quote like "life is meant to be lived" or some other tag line. Heck, you have probably seen one today. 


But isn't this just enabling self-centered and destructive behavior? 


 


And don't get me started on the notion that "he died doing what he loved."  Yeah, but he fucking DIED. 


I'm spoiled. Riding bikes makes me happy. So, I do it. I have the money, the free time, and I'm healthy enough. 


But is it really right? 


I don't know. Probably won't ever have a satisfactory answer. Maybe there isn't a rational answer. 


I don't want to get hurt. I don't want my friends to get hurt. But I like riding too much to stop.  I can't imagine not riding. But I can't shake the cold in my stomach at the moment. 


There's no message in this. No advice. It's up to you. 


Be brave and be safe. 


Monday, June 5, 2017

Road diets and MTB diets

 

What's happening? 

I'm hungry today, so I'm posting food pics. 

That up there is a beet, asparagus, and quinoa salad with goat cheese on a bed of arugula. 

So good. 

Anyhow, some of you know I like to cook. Making good, healthy food is the only way I can stay on the diet. I can't just eat canned tuna and protein bars. I'd lose my mind. Got to have something to look forward to. 

But right now, I'm kinda hungry. 

 

Mango avacado slaw with pulled chicken and peanuts over spinach.

Not all diets are bad though. They just have to have a purpose. 

I'm on the "cut" right now. Trying to lose weight for the race season. And because I could still stand to lose 10 pounds. I'm a couple weeks, before my next big race, I will switch to "maintenance."  

 

Spicy turkey with cilantro and cabbage. 

Know what else is on a diet? The roads in my neighborhood

It's pretty cool. This four lane road (with center turn lane) will be cut to three and some protected bike lanes will be added. Can't wait. 

This section of road "technically" has a 30 mph speed limit, but nobody follows it. Which sucks, because there are a lot of pedestrians and bikes. 

So, the "road diet" should help. Bike lanes and low speed limits have a calming effect on traffic and promote local people to go to local business by foot or bike  All good. 


Breaded cauliflower bites with hot sauce and carrot salad. 

My wife and I already ride all over our neighborhood for errands and fun. This road diet opens up a whole new corridor for us. Baller. 

 

Ennyhoo, I have the perfect bike for the new bike lanes: my awesome Peugeot commuter. 

 
 
I wrote a whole story about how much I love this bike for Dirt Rag. Check it out here: http://dirtragmag.com/mountain-bike-trailer-park-the-rime-of-the-ancient-peugeot/

Be brave and diet. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Way behind again

 

So, here I am, gliding into summer and I am realizing I have badly neglesctes this blog. So, I apologize to all three of you. But, I have been busy. 

Busy with COMBO. 

 

Busy finding miracles in my bacon 


All hail mighty seahorse. 

And busy driving to far away places for long races and longer bar tabs. 

 

This is how an awesome mechanic fixed my missing axlenut at the Cohutta 100

 
 
That's Charles Nelson, the awesome mechanic who did it, of Trailhead Bicycles. Thanks man! 

Also, having fun riding new trails and new races here in Ohio. 

 

This was the Twain Reign of Pain 6-hour put on by Team Knobby Side Down  Great group of people, supporting their local trail system at Camp Tuscozoar. 

And I've been busy training. 

 

And hanging out with goofballs. 

 

 

That said, I owe you a post, so here's a like to one of the best things I have ever written, over on Dirt Rag's website. Hope you enjoy!


Be brace, and be busy. 


Friday, March 24, 2017

WYD? The Barry Roubaix part 1

 

We're stupid. Really stupid. 

We're heading out on a Friday for a three-day trip to Michigan for a three to four hour race, the Barry-Roubaix. 

Think about that for a minute. We're giving up three weekend days for a 3-4 hour race. Does that make sense? 

And, here the forecast for race time:

 

Meantime, it's gonna be nice in central Ohio:

 

Stupid. 

But first, I had to pick up my new bike. So, I headed off to Breakaway

 

As Joe and Mikey and I discussed the race, Dan and Paul started looking nervous. Paul said "your first ride on this bike is going to be a 62-mile race?" "You're killing me."

 

Yes. Yes I am. Paul is right to be concerned. The brakes haven't been burned in yet. No test ride for sizing. No opportunity to shakedown the build. 

I'm stupid. 

The bike is sahweeet. It's a Trek Crockett 5

 

And I'm gonna go get it dirty. 

I dunno. What would you do?

Be. Rave and be stupid. 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Are we hipsters? And my race calendar.

So, my team just picked up a new sponsor, Mad Tree Brewing  This is our second beer sponsor, since we already are sponsored by Staas Brewing  Oh, and we're sponsored by two blogs. 

 

Two beer sponsors and two blogs. Are we hipsters? Hm, well we do have a lot of beards. 

 

On the other hand, there are a lot of mom jeans happening. And, we're mostly middle aged. So, probably not. Also, there's this ...


Anyhoo, believe it or not, I have already done my race calendar for almost the entire year of 2017. 

Seems early to do this in January, but there are so many good races and many require travel and days off. Add in family trips and school/work schedules, and you can see why I need to do this so early. 

Plus, I'm already in training for the season. I have to. Long races start already in March. 

My calendar is mostly based around three race series: the NUE Endurance Series  the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series  and the Tri-State Six Hour Series

Following the Quickdirt plan, I tried to schedule not more than two events per month, although I still ended up with four months with three events. 

Without further ado, here it is:
 
January
16 COMBO Fatbike
28 Fat Bike Nats Grand Rapids MI*
29 COMBO Fatbike
 
 

February
11 COMBO Fatbike
26 Brewery Vivant Fat Bike Grand Rapids MI*
 
 

March
18 OMBC Mohican
25 Barry-Roubaix Hastings MI*

 
 
April
9 OMBC Eastfork
15 CAP City Short Track Chestnut Ridge
29 NUE Cohutta 100 Copperhill TN*
 
May
7 OMBC Scioto Trails
 
June
17 NUE Lumberjack 100 Wellston MI*

 
 
July
9 Tri-state Eastfork
15 CR 6 Hour
23 OMBC Lake Hope

 
 
August
6 Tri-state Hueston Woods
13 OMBC Westbranch
19 Tri-state Idlewild
27 OMBC Dillon
 
September
OR
3 NUE Shennandoah 100 Harrisburg VA
10 OMBC CR

 
 
October
7 OMBC Great Seal
21 OMBC Championship
 
November
3-5 Iceman Grand Rapids MI

 
 
December
Fat bike racing starts again!