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Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, Travel

SSCXWC

Victoria, BC. That’s in Canada. It’s called the “Garden City.” It’s the capital city of British Columbia- and is not in Britain or in Columbia. It’s really confusing. Something about history, there is a lot of it there too. Tons of old buildings that I’m sure if they were in Seattle would be torn down- modern glass and steel condos put up in their place.

With the graying of the the team (Hodala) – we’ve taken to renting a big house when we travel for SSCXWC. It means that our “responsibility buddies” make sure everyone gets home, we can drink our own kegs and well- we just like to hang out together. Hodala is much more than a bike racing team- we look out for each other on and off the bike. We had a great house on the water with a hot tub and dock access.  Turns out “dock access” doesn’t mean “water access” and Dirty Randy cut the shit out of his leg (spoiler alert: he was drunk) trying to climb onto the dock out of the Gorge Waters on our first night. This year we channeled this video and it served as inspiration for our shenanigans.

 

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Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, Races, Seattle, Travel

Seattle before SSCXWC.

After traveling nearly 3000 miles and consuming a lifetimes worth of alcohol, pizza, cheeseburgers, donuts and ice cream cake- I’ve returned home to my house on the hill in Cordova- alive.

Bike racing is hard.

This year I’ve spent less time on this blog than I’ve spent on my bike- which isn’t much. I’ve taken very few photos as I seem to break every camera put into my hands. My phone is sometimes used- but I often forget that I can use it as a camera. What follows suit is a cycle of poor blogging- each shortfall I offer compounding the next shortfall. As my memories are dragged through coffee filters and alcohol, the days meld into one and the voices words in my head resemble the marriage of a Dr. Bronners label and a can of Four Loko. For that I’m not apologetic, it’s just like that and that’s the way it is.

Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships took place in Victoria, BC, Canada this past weekend and I was lucky enough to attend with Hodala: my CX team and some of the… how can I say… most polarizing people I know. After a red eye flight out of Anchorage, I flew into Seattle at the butt crack of dawn on a Monday. Bubba picked me and the bike up at the airport and we had some breakfast and red beers as we made our way into the city. A good friend that I see too rarely- it’s always good to cross paths and catch up. He dropped me off at Back Alley Bike Repair where Ben helped sort the wheat from the chaff on my all too neglected bike. A new chainring, chain and cables were installed along with some general maintenance performed, while we drank Berzerker and listened to Puscifer. Ben and Julian at Back Alley are solid dudes that are pumped to get people riding well maintained bikes. IMG_9396 2

Matt Falwell from Manwolfs CX came out from Louisville and I got to play tour guide around Seattle- the city I called home for 6 years. Matt was one of the organizers of Louisville last year and rode a we pretty good loop together:  Continue Reading

Bicycle Racing, Cyclocross, DIY, Seattle, Washington

Broke Ass Racer: aka the BAR bike

Cyclocross season is coming up quickly. Next month, people will begin attending CX camps to hone their skills for the upcoming race season, which begins in September.

10733846_10204050088066291_2340075667420873788_oFor those of you not familiar with ‘cross racing, Ryan described it best as “combining the worst elements of bike riding and long distance running into one sport.” Admittedly, CX racing is, by nature, a sufferfest. You ride what equates to a road bike equipped with knobby tires over courses that may contain some or all of the following:

1) Dirt

2) Mud

3) Sand

4) Stairs

5) Barriers that require riders to shoulder their bikes and run with them.

Weather. Does. Not. Cancel. EVER.10750013_10204049976903512_5293972783870888779_o

In fact, race organizers have been working with the CIA and Area 51 to ensure that the worst weather of the year occurs between September and late November requiring  CX races to take place in ankle deep mud and freezing rain and Category 5 hurricanes. While the racing may be miserable, watching your friends suffer before or after your race, brings miles of smiles. 

10683568_10204049999424075_4987743583948998782_oThe Seattle area has two CX racing series: MFG and Cross Revolution–neither of which are UCI sanctioned. Even though non-sanctioned racing can be frustrating to aspiring pros who are chasing points, removing the UCI licensing rules and requirements opens the door to anybody that wants to come out and play in the mud on whatever bike they want or can afford.

I’m pushing 40. I sit behind a desk 5 days a week and I’m lucky to get in an hour of riding a day Monday thru Friday. My training regimen consists of riding my bike for 6-8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday, followed by large plates of food smothered in gravy and hot sauce.

That said, I could probably take racing more seriously, but that would take all the fun out of it. While I know many a racer who has thousands of dollars in their CX race bike, why spend all that money on something that you’re just going to destroy over the course of a race season? Cross racing ruins shiny paint jobs, makes derailleurs surrender their powers (they are a French invention, after all), and turns wheels into tacos for lunch.

For a weekend warrior like me, I just can’t justify literally throwing away thousands of dollars for the sake of entertainment….unless porn stars are involved, then it’s anybody’s guess.  In all honesty, I’ve seen people on cobbled together mismatched rides decimate riders atop full carbon unobtanium steeds many, many times.

After watching my friends race for a couple of seasons, I decided to try this thing called cyclocross myself. Being a man of modest means, I found a budget ride at big box bike store Nashbar for about $400. I figured if I didn’t like racing cross, or if I wasn’t any good, I could always turn the bike into a commuter.

As it turns out, I LOVE racing cross…although, I’m still not any fucking good at it.  I raced the bike mostly stock, save for the pedals and a secondhand saddle (thanks, Rob!) for 2 seasons. Realizing that the bike was pretty much useless going into the 3rd season, I decided a rebuild was in order. I knew I wanted to upgrade the brakes and I also wanted to go single speed for added simplicity and drivetrain strength. As a beer gutted man who hovers around 180-190, when mud and hills are added to the mix, things like spokes and chains and things begin to break.

Using the power of the internet, I found clearance parts, NOS pieces from a few years prior, and rebuilt the race bike for just a few hundy. I also scoured the used parts bins at the local non-profit bike shop. Most of those hundies are wrapped up in my Vuelta wheels. They are handbuilt, but I suspect that they are built by the same kid who builds electronics at the Foxconn facilities. I’ve created these fantastic infograms below showing how I pulled off such a feat.

So now, when I finish at the back of the pack, rather than people saying, “That guy sucks AND he has a $5000 race bike. What a dick!”, people say, “Wow, that guy sucks but he’s on a shitty beater bike. Dick.”

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Alley Cat Racing, Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Races, Road, Seattle, Washington

5th Annual Girls of Summer Alleycat Race

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It’s that time of year again. When the girls come out to rip up the streets of Seattle in Menstrual Monday’s “Girls of Summer” all female alleycat race.

This no rules race around the Emerald city is open to women of all ages and skill levels whether this is your first alleycat race or your 40th.

The race features a bunch of fun checkpoints and great prizes from Seattle-area companies such as Raleigh, Recycled Cycles, and Detours.

 

Sat. June, 13. $5 registration 2PM. Racing starts at 3PM.

GOS Facebook page

Menstrual Monday’s Blog Post

 

 

Bicycle Racing, Mountain Biking, Washington

Downhill and Dirty in the Desert

 

 

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I spent enough years drinking cheap booze and “attending” classes at Eastern Washington University to be called “Doctor.”

During that time, I enjoyed the awesome and flowy trails offered by the dry side of Washington.

For anyone new to the area, most of Washington state lies east of the Cascade mountains where it rains little more than it does in Arizona. Thus, lots of fast and fun desert off road riding. One of the pinnacles of the early mountain bike racing season is the Hubapalooza downhill race and the People’s Enduro, the first stop on the All Gravity race series.

The trails are located at Beacon Hill/Camp Sekani park. This year’s event offers free camping for registered riders in the Camp Sekani parking lot. In addition to downhill and enduro racing, there is a fun night ride for registered riders and a jam session for dirt jumping enthusiasts.

If you’re looking to get out of the rain and clouds, come on out for some dusty fun.

I will be racing the enduro on Sunday, but I’ll be hanging out at Camp Sekani sampling the offerings of Evanson Handcrafted Distilling all weekend.

Come on out for fun in the sun!

Neal

Alaska, Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, fat bike, Races

Frosty Bottom 2015.

As I said on my last trip to Los Anchorage, it is home to one hell of a fatbike community. Nearly 300 racers came out last Saturday, to race the 9th annual Frosty Bottom 25/50. A race that starts at Kincaid Park, heads up to Hilltop (where the 25 ends) and/or back to Kincaid (for the 50.) The race is open to runners and skiers as well, but the fairly dry and fast conditions only brought 2 skiers to the finish line- with most of the participants choosing a bike over shoes, like a civilized person would.

I got into town Friday and like most of my trips to Anchorage it started like this:

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A delicious beer from Midnight Sun Brewing that I enjoyed with my lunch at Cafe Amsterdam. A Cohoho Imperial IPA on Nitro. So good. The nitro gave it such a creamy consistency and opened up a lot of flavors that I hadn’t noticed in bottle or C02 draft. My food, like most found in Anchorage, at least in my price range- was ok. I didn’t get dysentery, but it was nothing to write home about. From my experience, you won’t find great food or an amazing cocktail in Anchorage- but you can find some good beer, a lot of it brewed in our wonderful state.

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Alaska, Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, fat bike, Rides

Global Fatbike Day, Anchorage. The recap.

I got back from a shitstorm of fun on Sunday night, after an amazing weekend in Anchorage. I went up for Global Fatbike Day, and since my move back to Alaska- Anchorage is my new Portland. Turns out there are lots of dirtbag bike folks that like to drink beer and have bum fires in parks. Sure, the weather is about 50 degrees colder- but a little whiskey warms the body and good conversation warms the heart.

I met too many people to remember- but all were nice.

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Time in Anchorage when coming from a town with no road out is not without the errand running to stores, purchasing things that aren’t available in Cordova. Since I’m currently doing construction, I made a stop to buy some hand tools. I also made the rounds to the bike shops, to see what might be new and interesting. Here’s what I found in my rambling around Anchorage:

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Bicycle Racing, Cyclocross, Seattle

Photos: A Walk in the Park

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No one will ever confuse me for a competitive cyclist, and any time someone talks about an upcoming cyclocross race, I can only think of Clubber Lang’s pre-fight interview from Rocky III:

But there is something incredible about watching riders push themselves beyond their limits, often with nothing more than pride or their own expectations on the line. This past Sunday, I got up early (my own little sacrifice, it’s ok to be in awe) to head out to MFG Cyclocross’s Woodland Park GP to capture riders facing the course, their peers and themselves. These are some of the results.

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(Lots more after the break…)
More photos after the break…

Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Cyclocross, Travel

You’ll never make it out alive.

It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday night and I’m contemplating whether or not I should get my shit packed and head to Louisville on Monday for SSCXWC.  Probably not a great idea, which likely means I’ll be there- Hodala willing. They have bourbon there, right?

Much to well dressed bloggers dismay, beer will likely be spewn.  Like my mom always said “Sometimes you just gotta be a man and shit in your pants.”

Here’s some Playmobil toys riding bikes.