Friday, August 26, 2011

Back in the High Life Again

Pagina Bonita shreds.

I had the great fortune of visiting southern Colorado last week and, as promised, would like to share a few of the details. My sweet sister Evil-E and her family were gracious hosts, warmly welcoming my family of twelve into their home. Amazingly she was able to rally enough bikes for all of us for the entire duration of the trip; counting town rides and trips with the kids to the BMX track, I rode bicycles everyday of the trip. There were so many shared smiles, high-fives, good vibes, emptied bottles, and rehashed jokes that it was incredibly difficult to return to the daily grind of making ends meet here in the Steel City. With so many people and children and family all in one house I expected that a screaming match or two would be part of the game; however,as a testament to the amount of merriment dispensed, over the course of the week, the most virulent hostility was just a few under-the-breath comments about how long to boil corn. For the visually oriented of you out there, the Rigid Bicycles art department created the following infographic:

I was at the gracious mercy of Evil-E for my bicycle conveyance during the week, and although i usually ride on a rigid single speed, she set me up with variety of suspended cycles for the week. I had a blast on these bikes and the Scott actually made me rethink my addiction to the rigid ways; that bike goes fast, and it's really fun to ride. My sincerest thanks goes to Chris, John, and Steve for lending me bicycles during the trip.

This Scott Genius 20, full carbon, and full squishy--with simultaneous front and rear lockout though--was a blast to ride.

This O.G. Santa Cruz Bullit was like a 6inch-travel tank, pretty fun too.

I won't bore you with all the details of the trip, and, considering the number of consumed Pacificos , there is no way I could remember it all anyway, but my favorite day ended with a quick out-and-back on the Colorado Trail.

Evil-E and I sneak away from the legions of children at the house and pedal out into the August heat. The trail starts out up Junction Creek road in Durango and sidewinds besides the creek for the first mile; a breeze carries the gurgling sounds of the creek through the branches. The temperatures are cool through the valley even though the trail is dusty, a little sandy, twisting on its way up the valley floor. Hunkering granite boulders lunge between the pines like threatening criminals out of dark alleys.

Evil-E's legs are moving like a sewing machine. The climb is fairly steady, with some rocky, technical parts mixed in, but she never leaves the saddle. She's like a goat; she just throws it in the small chainring and churns up the trail. Behind her, I dabble and weave, mashing a bigger gear because I cant remember how to shift quickly and efficiently. I would be walking these steep sections on my single speed. We cross the creek on a nice wooden bridge with handrails and the trail turns up the opposite side of the valley, snaking its way through high altitude ferns, scrub oak, and pine trees. The switchbacks are dicey, but Evil-E puts her head down and spins right up. I squeeze the wrong paddle on the trigger shifters, all momentum stops, and I keel over with a grunt. Evil-E pins it. Just as the heat of the climb's exposure starts to bake into my back, the clouds rush in and little drops of rain make their way through the trees. If you don't like the weather in Colorado wait ten minutes they say. The rain threatens to turn into a downpour; we debate turning back while craning our necks for a better look at the sky. Evil-E says we should push on, it doesn't look like a storm to her. After more climbing, we take pictures at Gudys Rest, drink water, and eat peanuts. I think we should push out over the flat toward the Hoffheins connection; Evil-E reminds me of the twelve kids at home waiting for dinner like baby birds in the nest.

The descent back down is fast. I'm smiling so much my jaw hurts a little. No more dust. The rain is still sputtering, but the dirt isn't greasy yet; the only slick parts are the waterbars angling across the trail. It has been a long time since I've ridden a full suspension bike and this is way better than I remember. I don't have to choose my line carefully or brace for the little rock drops; instead, I just send it. I could get used to riding this kind of bicycle I think to myself, then I remember that the thing costs about as much as my car.

If you are curious about why I did not take any pictures of people on our trip it's because I have deep psychological religio-animistic representation issues. Anyway, thanks to all the friends and family that helped make the Colorado trip happen, it was a joy to see parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, colleagues, friends, and midgets all getting along and all spreading the love.

Finally for today, if we move away from the mountain type cycles, but still stay in Colorado, we'll probably end up looking at the Coors Classic Reboot. If you haven't had the chance to tune in and check out the coverage, you can check it all out for the next two days at the USA Pro Cyling Challenge tour tracker. This high altitude race is one of the few examples in cycling where Americans are highly competetive, so if you are one of the face painting and U-S-A- shouting types then here is your chance to go buckwild.

Have a great weekend, catch everyone next week. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Music for your Mondays

The crew here at Rigid is still recovering from our trip to southern Colorado. Expect a half-baked recap and a few out of focus photos in the coming days. In the meantime, this video is pretty funny. Future Fambo and Sean Paul had me laughing out loud. Yard style to the world!

MATRIMONEY MOVIE [HD] Music Video from ReggaemerchTV on Vimeo.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Of News and Heroes

I've been getting in the dirt a fair amount lately which has inspired me to reflect on my abilities and motivation  as a rider of the mountainish cylces and my reflections can be summed up succinctly: I am pretty slow. I love exploring new trails, hammering through the woods, slicing down twisty descents, and even occasionally feel some satisfaction from grinding up painful climbs. But there are men and women out there doing all of this same stuff  much, much faster than I am doing it.

I have always had a tremendous admiration for people who, in order to achieve greatness, work incredibly hard, train incessantly, and dedicate their whole life to one specialized component of what makes them human. World class athletes generally provide great examples of this. With the completion of the Tour de France last month, there was a lot of talk about how cyclists are the greatest athletes on the planet. I don't consider myself a sports fan, although I do enjoy doing sports, but trying to say which sport is the most demanding is idiotic, and filled with personal bias, like trying to decide which is the tastiest berry (straw-, blue-, huckle-, ras-, whatevs-) or trying to decide who was the greatest American president (Van Buren, Pierce, Cleveland, etc.).

Every single sport has examples of true professionalism, amazing stories of overcoming adversity, awe-inspiring cases of physicality, even bowling, yes, I'm saying it, even marbles, yeah, that too. Except golf, those guys suck. So whatever sport you're into, there is someone out there doing it on a level that is nearly unreal, so check out that person, and get inspired; unless, you are that nearly-unreal person who is slaying all comers at the top of your game--but let's not joke here, if that is you, then there is no way you're wasting your time reading this gibberish.

Wait a second. I totally take it back. Even golf too.

Manuel de los Santos is one of sport's most inspirational figures. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, he played baseball from a young age and by 2003 was planning to turn professional. But a motorcycle accident changed his life forever when he lost his left leg above the knee.

Manuel de los Santos from Peter Montgomery on Vimeo.

Golf rules.
Anyway, that last paragraph was a long-winded way of introducing one of my heroes, a world class athlete whom too few people have ever heard of. This guy is now 50 years old and at the top of his game, an ace at several disciplines of cycling, David "Tinker" Juarez. I could write a lot about Tinker and his humble demeanor, his incomparable presence in mountain biking, his crackerjack performances in cross country, bmx, and long distance road rides, but let me just sum it up with this: Tinker won the Iron Horse Classic MTB race in Durango, CO in 1989 and also won the Butte 100 one-day hundred mile MTB race (with over 16,000 ft. of elevation) two weeks ago in July 2011. I have never done a hundred mile race but I am told that the Butte 100 is one of the hardest in that particular form of cycling. Counting his days as one of the first professional bmx riders ever, Tinker has been winning bicycle races for over 30 years. Tinker is modest, soft spoken, and one of the greatest cyclists ever; if ever, buy some remote chance, he were to read these words, his passion for the sport has made a positive difference in my life and his ability to compete, and win, races inspires me to this day.

Well after that little love letter, to Mr. Juarez, how about we check in with the cycle goings-on here in Pittsburgh. The fine folks at Bike Pittsburgh have got lots of fun cycleish events planned for next week. The party starts tonight for their annual fundraiser so if you're in the area, then make it happen. Check out the schedule and turn up the heat.

Finally, in an effort to tie in all the ideas that are swarming in my cramped (numb)skull--Tour de France, athleticism, longevity, personal heroes, porn--I thought I might present to you a short glimpse into the world of big money bike company Specialized. The McLaren Venge was a big deal when it came out this year for several reasons, not least of which because it costs like $90,000.

Most people who know me by now understand that I find a particular satisfaction in the longevity of certain bicycle parts made from steel and that I am particularly slow to adapt to new changes in bicycle technology. Tinker keeps on winning after 30 years in the business and I guess I sort of think that there should be some effort devoted, on the part of bicycle manufacturers, toward making products that last a long time. I guess some folks prefer to go with a different approach. "Innovate or die" indeed.

That wraps it up from this corner of the playroom. Next week I will be out in Durango, Colorado trying to get just a tiny little slice of the rad. I hope you all find a way to do the same.