Friday, April 24, 2015

Plus Sized

The whole 29+ thing is officially off the ground, and very quickly, almost without warning (except for those of you that have been reading my shit and hearing me predict that this is the next big thing for years now) it's the big thing, way up in the sky.  Good for us.

The front window of BRC right now has no fewer than 4 of these things.  Trek Stache.  Surly Krampus.  Others.  Not fat bikes, mind you, no indeed.  These are 29+ bikes, the primary physical difference being 3 inch tires, not 4 or 5 inch tires, and a geometry more aligned for the jibber kids to get rowdy with vs. the old, crusty fatbike crowd that seems content to ride on icebergs or whatever.

I'm all for this.  There are a lot of reasons that this is happening, most of them have a lot to do with the simple reality that 29plussers (I just made that up.  Copyright pending) can outperform your average 2.3 inch tire in very much the same way that your 29er tire can outperform a 26er, or a 2.3 inch 26er tire was better than a 2.0 inch tire, and so on and so forth.  It's a simple process of growth, in a lot of ways, and with the advent boost bottom bracket and hub systems, the overall acceptance of 1X drivetrains, the mold-ability of carbon, etc, have all swung into motion at the same time and in the same way that puberty changes a young man quickly, drastically, and for the bigger.  And yeah, things are just bigger now.  Good for us.

You can read more about all of the reasons this is happening from official media outlets:

Here's my prediction, even if you didn't ask for it: In 5 years, everyone but XC racers will be riding at least 3 inch tires.
It will actually be a really divisive thing, sort of the same way that roadies and mountain bikers differ today. Racers will still have their own technology built for speed, but 85% of the rest of the mtb market will be just 29plus riders - and with very little overlap.  Today, you can sort of go out and race your average trailbike and not be terribly disadvantaged.  But 29plussers, though enormously fun on trail, won't be fast in the way a race bike needs to be, and the idea of racing one will be pretty much laughable.  So people won't do it, and people with one bike will have a 29plus, and they'll face a pretty enormous barrier to entry when it comes to racing which doesn't really exist today, and they won't overcome it, and they won't care, and good for them.

Roll over your average rootball wedge in a section of single track on a 26er with a 1.9.  Then try it on a 2.3.  Then try it on a 29er.  Then try it on a 29plus.  The evolution is actually pretty obvious.

There's also something to be said for those of us who will make this jump in order to go rigid, leaving suspension behind for good, and probably gears as well.  Nothing before now has really been so conducive to rigid single speeding as a 3.0 which has just enough cush and loads of traction not the steep stuff.  That Trek Stache can be set up single.  So can the original 29plus, the Krampus.  So I think you'll see more of that - people taking advantage of the opportunity to abandon those shifty and movey bits that never seem to work right since the ramifications of that are now not so bonejarring and difficult.  And again, good for them.

But also, and here's my only actual unique point that you couldn't read elsewhere sooner and better:
It's also about your penis.

Don't act like it's not.
This is a simple, male-dominated sport and the rationale of size matters is not unique or missing for us any more than it doesn't apply to monster trucks, or burritos, or the NFL.
And again, good for us.

Keep growing.
Up, up, up.

Monday, April 13, 2015

AJ Linnell

AJ Linnell, gone far too soon.

I still can't figure out what it is I want to say about AJ.  I didn't know him personally.  What I did know about him came from snippets of conversation with Qwadsworth, online interviews, and reading his blog.  So it's a little difficult to know what to write about a person who - though you share a community of like-minded, unique, awesome people - you've never actually met.

I went back this morning and read some more of his blog, and watched his interviews on dirtwire, and generally felt terrible about the loss of a guy who, though I never got the chance to meet, I have some sense of his person that is, admittedly, impossible for me to actually have.  So there it is:  despite having no actual bond with the guy, I feel one anyway.

I believe today in a generation of relentless, connected people that this is one measure of a great person: that you will be remembered and cherished by people who you didn't even know long after you're gone.

Words can do that.  And AJ is more than capable of speaking for himself, so I guess I'll trail off now, go ride my singlespeed for a couple of hours, and let him:

Up, up, up.

Monday, April 6, 2015

No Peace, Los Angeles

For fear of beginning to sound like a Mike Doughty fanblogger (which I am) I'll allow that one to speak for itself and instead just dive into the heart of the matter:

I'm in  L.A. for a stretch this week, THE COAST, brah, consuming water, wearing organic sandals, sneering, yelling into my bluetooth earpiece, and generally contributing my fair share to the greatest drought of water and reality that the modern generation has ever encountered.

But I'll be back, Thursday eve, likely quite parched, and ready for a fast, loose tour of the northside fringe in the pouring rain, departing from the Rancho Relaxo no earlier than 9 PM (because I'm west coast, brah.)

Up, up, and out.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Out Like A Lamb

The End of March, good time of year to be riding a bike.

Race results all over the place, group rides, night rides, bike festivals; just enormous amounts of drinking, pedaling, and making life merry and worth living after all.  I won't rehash race results and war stories and rides with rock stars and what not herein, but I'm more than happy to summarize the general feel of it all, that being, "Catch you on the flip side, winter."

Video above, if you haven't checked it out already, is The War on Drugs.  If you dig it, now is the time, mostly because I just found out about them, which typically happens late for me in the life cycle of any given thing, shortly before the band is about to break up, or the technology deemed insufficient, or the product discontinued because it causes cancer.  So it's likely now or never.  And it's pretty amazing stuff, so give a listen and let yourself dream a little.

Worth noting, BRC is about to become a two trick pony as opposed to a one trick pony, which is huge and awesome.  Two shops, not just one.  Bravo, bro.

Northside: Hollymead Town Center, right next to Bonefish Grill, caddycorner to that other pillar of cycling reliability and innovation, Target.
Downtown: A gigantic flagship location in The Coke Building, opening in June.  Ish.

This whole arrangement is not only bigger, better, and easier to access for one and all, it's also a new launching point for the Northside Extreme night ride, which happens to be departing tonight at 8 pm from BRC Norte' to tour the sketchy halftrack and dirt road drug deal pulloffs of the northside hinterlands.  Charge your shit, and bring a beer to blend in.

Sure is spring.  Enjoy yourselves.

And I'm out.  Like a lamb that is.
Up, up, up.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

"I've been running."

"I've been running."

Those three words you never want to hear your riding buddy say.  The dreaded siren's call, going back to foot travel, it's like seeing a toe tag on his cold, stiff corpse.

Still, time together in the woods is better than not, and the basic sense I get from exercise scientists with something to lose from being wrong about running is this: it'll keep your old man bones from going brittle and breaking under your own corpulence. 

So once/week or so, I've been running.  

The blue ridge school MTB race is Saturday morning.  As a $25 entry to a burly, muddy, rock-infested trail race with no prizes (all cash goes to World Bike Relief), one might summarize it as cheap, dirty, and purely for the glory.  

Like your mom.

Bike form not withstanding, I'm hoping
all of this running will translate into non-brittle bones and good hike-a-bike condition.  Both of which are pretty vital out there in my experience.

In short, I'm labeling myself here as the odds-on favorite not to break my arm on Saturday, and I recommend you to place your bets accordingly. 

Gonna be a big one.
Join me.

Up, up, up.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pantani X in the books

Scud would have been 65 today.  

Don't get me started on the passage of time.  I'll start blubbering, and you'll get uncomfortable, and we'll both leave this awkward blog post a little stranger than we started, and no one wants that.

Yesterday, under a huge blue sky and on near perfect dirt, The tenth Pantani ride went live after a rough go of weather for the last 6 weeks.  Sensory shock and springtime bliss being as they are, it was pretty surreal.  There was this long stretch in the middle of the afternoon, 2 pm or so I guess, and I was climbing brokenback and feeling pretty dizzy, and the sun was beating down and it was finally full-on hot, and I couldn't remember how old Scud was when he passed away, or what the last song was on the Metallica black album, or when I started riding bikes.

These are the things you begin to forget, I've been told.  But they also stick with you, in ways that you can't identify.

The last time I rode with Scud was up there, on a full moon ride to flattop, and the dirt that night might have been the only time it's ever been better.  So I always feel a little connected to Scud when I'm up that way.

Then, to make his point perhaps, there was this massive tailwind on the ride back in, maybe 20 miles/hour or more at times, and as I came past the turn for Davis Shop - for my tenth Pantani finish that is - there were dead leaves blowing up the hill faster than I could pedal.  I was physically and suddenly awakened by that, and I had to pause and smile.  Son of a bitch crafty old bike rats always know when to attack.

Chris Michaels from Rocktown took the W in fine form with a 30+ mile solo breakaway.  On a full suspension mountain bike.  Into a headwind.  Along the way, he got all 5 kom's, and he finished in 2:58.  That's some Pro level shit.

Not as pro, but way, way better, Chris is now the proud owner of the tackiest kit on Earth, that being the Maillot Pistachio for the W and the accompanying but not-so-matching handknit knickers.  I'll track those down and deliver them for you, Chris, after a really minimal amount of wearing them myself.

Anyway, a big crew hung about for a while, we followed all of the action up with a few hours of lying around in the sunshine on my front deck, eating chips and drinking beers, and swapping war stories and ride plans, and things finally came into focus.  It was like the afternoon was celebrating us just as much as vice versa, and you only get so many days like that.

So anyway, thanks to all of you for coming out and getting rad, and thanks for peeking in on us Scud, wherever you are, where I hope that you're out riding and not waiting for us.
Up, up, up.