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Monthly Archives: December 2009

NON-RACE DAY DRAWS NEAR…

As we move closer to non-race day, the final pieces are falling into place.  We have the maps printed, kayaks lined up, the cabin reserved, and most of the control points properly placed (via a GPS so they’ll be accurate).  We made a great contact with Dan, the owner of OZ Cycles  in Lake Ozark, Mo.  Not only did he get my bike up and running (look for details in an upcoming post), he provided a wealth of information of the local trails and state park where we are holding our non-race.  In addition to that, he made some suggestions regarding the course and also arranged the kayaks for us to use.  He was friendly and provided us with great customer service, and we found a great bike shop that we will use when we are in the area from now on. 

We invited Dan and everybody that uses his shop to join us at our non-race.  Hopefully, we will have a few more participants come non-race day.  If you are interested in joining us please slap a post up here, so we can get a final count for the maps.  Also, you are on your own for canoes/kayaks due to the short notice.  If you want to participate and cannot get a boat, that’s cool too.  We are flexible, and it’s all about having fun.  You can do two-thirds of the race with a bike and a pair of shoes.  (In fact,we already have 1 team that is skipping the paddle section and is planning on running the orienteering leg and the mountain bike section only). 

There is no mandatory gear list or gear checks, just bring what you need.  You are responsible for your safety and properly equiping yourself.  If you are unsure of what you might need, post questions (in the comments below) here and we’ll let you know our opinion and what we are planning to bring.  It looks like it will be cold (lower to mid 20’s) and dry on non-race day but the forecast is not always accurate so be prepared for anything.  The non-race will start at 9:00 am (be there by 8:30 am to get your maps and bike’s situated) at McCubbins Point in Lake of the Ozarks State Park.  Look for a bunch of guys with mountain bikes who look like they are about to have a blast and you are in the right place.  Come on out and have some fun.  What better way to start the new year?  We’ll see you there.

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Join Us for the Team Virtus New Year’s Adventure Non-Race

Okay, we’ve kept it a secret for long enough, and now it’s time to spill the beans. The masterminds behind Team Virtus are putting together a mock-adventure race on Jan 1st, 2010. If you’re reading this, then you’re invited. HOWEVER… we make no guarantees.  This race could be the worst thing ever created since this was invented (actually… I might order one of those).

Team Virtus First Annual Adventure Non-Race

We’ve never attempted something like this before, and we clearly don’t know what the hell we’re doing.  This might be a total waste of your time.  It might be too easy or too hard.  It might be boring.  It might be stupid.  It might not be worth the effort.

On the other hand… It could be an absolute blast!!!

Either way, if you want to come then you need to let us know immediately.  We need to know how many people to expect so we can get enough maps printed. You also need to make arrangements for your own canoe/kayak.  If you REALLY want to come and can’t beg/borrow/or steal one, then we might be able to rent an extra one for you.  But you have to let us know – like yesterday.

And if you’re a beginner, that’s cool.  I’d be happy to help you out or even do the course with you to get your feet wet. Since I set up most of the course (don’t yell at me if it sucks!), I’m not really going to do the race for time anyway.

The tentative start time is 9:00 AM on Friday, Jan 1st at or near McCubbins Point, near Osage Beach. You should plan on being there by 8:00 AM, though, so you can plot your points (again if you’re new to this, we can help you) and make sure you’re ready to go.

There are roughly 14 checkpoints to hit, and you can plan on roughly 2-4 miles of paddling, 4-8 miles of trekking, and 12-18 miles of mt. biking.  How long should it take you?  I have no idea.  I’m guessing anywhere from 4 – 7 hours. This is an unsupported, unsanctioned, uninsured event.  So participate at your own risk.

Right now, confirmed participants are Bob Jenkins, Casey Lamb, Zack Lamb, Darin Layman (our newest teammate), and myself.  If you want to take part in the shenanigans, then you need to post in the comments section and we can figure it out.

And once again, beginners are not only welcome, they are encouraged to come along.  It’ll be a great way to get a taste of adventure racing for a small fee – and by a small fee I mean absolutely FREE (unless you need to rent a canoe).

So, who’s got enough strength, power through courage, and bravery (that’s what Virtus means by the way) to join us?

Failin’, Bailin’, & Nailin’ it at Bittersweet

When the alarm went off early Saturday morning, I was pissed.  It was way too early.  Then I looked outside, and I was even more pissed.  There was an inch or two of snow on the ground, and snow/rain was still misting the ground. There’s no better way to start a day of mountain biking.

Zack, Bob, and I decided to head down to the Lake of the Ozarks to ride Bittersweet and then Honey Run.  Zack had to leave around noon for some family Christmas stuff, so Bob and I were going to set up a short orienteering course for a non-race that we are planning for Team Virtus over New Year’s weekend (although this is still hush-hush… More on that later).  So we rolled into Carl’s Market & Hardware store to start our ride.

Getting Ready at Bittersweet

Zack is sneaking up on Bob and... Where is he gonna put that finger?

Bob had to drop a deuce, and he always feels guilty about destroying a fine establishment’s toilet.  So he felt compelled to buy something, and it suddenly became clear that this was going to be more of a fun ride than a training ride.

Bob with Ten High and Redman before riding Bittersweet

We are still looking for sponsors - Redman? Ten High? Give us a call.

Bob riding a girls bike with whiskey

Although Bob was riding his girlfriend's bike, the whiskey adds a touch of masculinity

What’s cool about Bittersweet is that it has many man-made stunts and obstacles on the trail.  The first real one we encountered was a banked boardwalk corner.  Bob, being the master that he is, nailed it.  Zack went for it, his back tire lost traction on the icy boards, and his ass-end spun out from under him.  Below you will see how he ended up:

Zack crashed on the boardwalk corner at Bittersweet

Zack failin

After picking himself back up and hearing us laugh at him, Zack went back once more to try to clear it.  Although we don’t have video evidence of him nailin’ it, here is photographic proof:

Zack clearing the boardwalk corner at Bittersweet

Nailin' it

After seeing Zack go down hard, I was a little hesitant to ride this thing.  It doesn’t look that bad in the pics, but it was icy and, as they say in the Midwest this time of year, slicker than deer guts on a skinnin’ knife. So Bob grabbed my camera and switched it to video mode to see how I would do.

Listen closely to Bob and Zack giggling in anticipation of my impending doom, and then listen to their disappointed laughs when I nail it.  Okay, I wouldn’t call that nailin’ it since I went pretty damn slowly, but it was successful nonetheless.

We kept on riding at a decent pace – nothing too hard, but fast enough to have fun.  We came to a nice little view of Lake of the Ozarks, and it turned into a 3 hour break where Zack and Bob told stories.

Zack and Bob chatting at Bittersweet Mountain Biking Trail

Bob actually doing air quotes to prove his point

That’s all fine and dandy, but I was the only one dressed to actually ride.  They both had twelve layers on and were ready to hunker down and spoon each other to wait out a blizzard.   So while they chatted like two little school girls, I did jumping jacks to stay warm and literally watched a deer decompose into this:

Deer Skull at Bittersweet Mountain Bike Trail

We finally got back on our bikes and headed down the trail.  We soon came up to the next stunt – a broken down teeter-totter.  I’ll admit that I was the first one to say I was NOT doing that. I know, I know… I failed, but if you saw this thing, then you wouldn’t have ridden it either – unless your name is Bob Jenkins.  Zack proceeded to make fun of Bob until he agreed to ride it.  Check it out:

Can you blame Bob for bailin’ out at the last second?  Again, the pics and vids don’t do these stunts justice.  They are bigger and scarier than they look.  That thing was sketchy, broken, and icy.  Bob even points to his shaking legs at one point in that video.  But would that stop the great Robert L. Jenkins III?  I think not.  Take a look at his second attempt:

While we were watching Bob do his thang, my new – old ride, Dolly was just chillin’, taking it all in.  Ain’t she pretty?

My Single Speed Specialized Rockhopper from the early 90's

Obviously, we were not setting any speed records, but the fun meter had already been shattered with a lot more fun sprawled out ahead of us.  We kept riding down the trail, and soon found our next huge, gnarly obstacle.  Okay, it was actually a log with a small board leaning against it as a ramp.  Since Zack had pretty much forced Bob to ride the teeter-totter, Bob told Zack he had to bunny-hop the log without using the ramp:

As you can see, Zack didn’t quite clear the log.  In fact, I’m amazed that his rear tire is still functional.  Although he may have been momentarily deterred, he was not defeated.  Unfortunately for me, he simply had to try it again so he could salvage some dignity.  While he clears the log much better, the landing still needs work:

Um… Yeah… That was awesome.  For another look at this awesomeness from different angle where you can hear Bob laugh harder and hear me groan in pain right at the end, click here.  As you just saw, Zack lost control on the landing and literally rode his bike up my chin and knee.  Don’t believe me?  Have a look for yourself:

Tread marks and blood on my leg

Yes, that is a tire tread and blood on the tights

After placing a tourniquet on my leg to stop the blood from profusely leaving my body, we ventured on.  We came to a sign that read “Men —>, Boys <—” with the “Men” arrow pointing to a sweet-ass jump and the “Boys” arrow pointing to a trail skirting around said jump.

Men/Boys sign at Bittersweet

Unfortunately, a new house had been built here, and the trail had been re-routed.  So, there was no good approach to the jump.  That is the only reason I didn’t do it (well, that and the fact that I would have killed myself).  Bob was once again going to try this.  The board however was iced over and really slick.  There was an easy solution to this, however.  Bob and I peed all over it, and Zack spread the urine with a branch.

Bob Peeing on Board at BittersweetZack spreading the pee at Bittersweet



























This stunt really was ridiculous, though.  Even with our ingenious pee-pee plan, it just seemed like a bad idea to try it.  Although it’s not very exciting, if you want to see Bob bailin’ right before he hits the ramp go here. Zack’s words of encouragement in that video are inspiring.  You can also see Bob trying to redeem himself by jumping off a rock right here (again, it doesn’t look as impressive as it did in real life).

Zack needed to get back home for some Christmas stuff, so we needed to finish this section of the trail and then skip the last section to take the road back to the cars.  There was one last stunt on the way out, though.  It was just a simple little board crossing over a 2-3 foot deep ditch.  No problems at all, but we took a video with Bob’s phone anyway just to prove that we could ride it (my camera batteries were dead):

You really need to watch that video several more times.  Listen to us laughing (especially Bob).  If that doesn’t brighten your day, then you have serious issues.  When you’re having a shitty day, come back and watch that video again. Zack, to his credit, did ride the bridge successfully on his next attempt.

So we had a really great time on a cold Saturday morning.  We ended up skipping Honey Run since we took way too long on Bittersweet, and we simply had too much fun.

Empty Bottle

Is there such a thing as too much fun???

Zack headed back to Jeff City for his Festivus celebration, and Bob and I headed down to a super-secret location to plan our upcoming Adventure Non-Race.  Right now, it’s top secret because only the cool kids can come out and play.  In fact, it’s so super-secret that the only photo I can show you is when Bob tried to use his cat-like speed and quickness to cross the creek. It was amazing, and I haven’t laughed that hard in a loooooong time. I truly wish I had it on video, but all I have is this:

Wet Bob at Lake of the Ozarks

Alright, the non-race is not just for us cool kids, but this is our first attempt at doing anything like this.  We don’t want to waste anyone’s time.  This is kind of a dry run, and if we think it works out well then we’ll plan another one in the Spring or Summer.  If you want more info on this mock adventure race anyway, then post in the comments section – but you have to use the code word to show that you’ve read this entire post.  The code word is “Blathering Blatherskite.”  You also get a bonus point if you can tell me what that quote is from.  It may suck.  It might be fantastic.  There are no guarantees.

Until next time… Buh-Bye.

Doin’ Work on the Single Speeds

About a year ago, I had the very first mountain bike I ever purchased (when I was 13 or 14) converted into a single speed by our local bike guru Nick Smith at Red Wheel Bike Shop.  It was an early 90’s Specialized Rock Hopper, and I loved it.  I actually loved it more as a single speed than when she had gears.  I call her Paula (after Paula Abdul the Laker Girl since it is purple and yellow).  Here she is:

Early 90's Specialized Rock Hopper Converted to Single Speed.

Unfortunately, the threads on the original fork just couldn’t keep up with the punishment I’ve dished out on Paula.  I hated to replace the original fork, but I had no choice.  So, as I talked about in an earlier post, I found an early 90’s Specialized Rockhopper frame and fork on craigslist-St. Louis for $30.  I figured I could use the fork from that bike on Paula, and then I could eventually use that frame to build another fantasticly-old-school single speed.

Bob working on the single speed Rockhopper

Bob with a big tool in his hand

Well, apparently the bikes were not from the same year, and the fork would not fit Paula.  So, Bob and I had a little fun moving everything over from Paula onto the other frame.  Now, keep in mind that we are not bike mechanics, and I know almost nothing when it comes to working on bikes.

Converting an early 90's Rockhopper into a single speed

The "Quick" Release chain link was not very quick

We got everything switched over.  The brakes were a pain in the ass, and we still don’t have them quite right.  I stole a pair of grips from Bob, and I also stole some platform pedals with toe cages from him until I can switch my clipless pedals over.  The only thing that is going to need replacing is the headset, because the handlebars are a little loose.  But for now this baby is ready to go.

The New Old Rockhopper Single Speed

Since this bike is made up of a hodge podge of parts begged, borrowed, and stolen from others, it is sort of a Frankenstein of bikes.  So I think I’ll call it Frank.  If you have any better ideas for a name, post them in the comments below.  And here’s one more pic of my new-old ride:

Frank - the Early 90's Specialized Rockhopper single speed.

The ABC’s of Adventure Racing Gear Part III – Stuff We Use and Recommend

Well, here we go again, continuing our list of recommended adventure racing gear and equipment.  In case you missed them, here is Part I and here is Part II.  Now, on to our list:

K is for Knife – Victorinox Swiss Army Tinker and Classic

Victoinox Swiss Army Tinker and Classic

Some, although not all, races require you to carry a knife.  You can get the smaller Classic knife for free when you order the Tinker by going here.  While the Tinker is a great knife, I actually prefer the Classic.  I keep it inside my first aid kit for all of my races.  I like it better because it is smaller, but I also like the fact that it has scissors and the Tinker does not.  The scissors are great for cutting moleskin or athletic tape.  Both knifes also have tweezers which can come in handy for splinters.

L is for Lighting System for Your Bike – Princeton Tec Corona Bike Light and RF6 Tail Light

Princeton Tec Corona Bike Light for Adventure Racing Princeton Tec RF6 Bike Tail Light for Adventure Racing

I use the Princeton Tec Corona on my mt. bike when I race.  For the size and price, it makes a great headlight with several output settings, including a flashing mode.  Yes, you can get a brighter light that may be a little lighter, but you can’t get them at $48 like the Corona goes for.  This thing is waterproof, too, and it comes with Princeton Tec’s life-time warranty.  It’s a helluva deal. Get one right here.

The Princeton Tec RF6 is also a great, inexpensive tail light for your bike.  Pretty much every adventure race has a bike tail light on the required gear list, and this little light will do the job perfectly.  It’s plenty bright, it has several flashing modes that will make you visible to traffic, and it will even clip to your pack or waistband.  And it’s only around $12.50 when you get it here.

M is for Mechanix M-Pact Gloves

Mechanix Gloves Make Great Mt. Biking Gloves

Yes, these gloves are not specifically designed for mt. biking, but they are far superior to any biking gloves I’ve ever tried.  Some people like the original Mechanix Gloves, and they really do work great and are pretty damn cheap.  I prefer the M-Pact Gloves because they have a little extra padding on the palm and some extra protection on the fingers and back of the hand.  They come in a variety of colors, and they look pretty damn cool.  They are way more durable than any other biking gloves, and they are pretty much the same price.  Grab a pair, and you won’t be disappointed.

N is for Nalgene Tritan Water Bottles

Nalgene Tritan Water Bottle

These are the best water bottles out there, hands down.  No, they won’t fit in your bike bottle cage, but you can throw them in your pack.  I normally don’t carry one with me during the race, but I always have one before and after the race. I also leave a couple at the transition area at races with my beverage of choice already mixed up in it.  The wide mouth and 1 liter volume make preparing drink mixes a breeze (although if you use e-Fuel this is never a problem).  I’ve NEVER had a bottle leak or crack.  These bottles are indestructible.  Pick one up right here.  You can also get a sweet water bottle parka that fits over your Nalgene to keep your liquids cold or hot.

O is for Outdoor Reseach Swift Cap

Outdoor Research Swift Cap

I love this hat.  I don’t race without it.  It’s perfect for running and paddling.  It breathes well, keeps the sun out of your face, and it’s lightweight.  It holds up to abuse – I just cram it in my pack when I don my biking helmet.  When it gets dirty, I just throw it in the wash.  You can get the hat in white, red, gray, orange, and khaki.  Take a look at some of the pics from our race reports and you’ll see me wearing this hat.  Get one of your own and you’ll be happy that you did.

That’s all for part III in our series.  When you’re ready, be sure to check out part IV in our series of adventure racing gear reviews.

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