Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rocktown to Foofville

I was out there on the edge of the Internet earlier this week, really deep, far out there, where things like public healthcare are debated, and total strangers call each other asshole, and elf porn happens.  And I bumped into this: a one-way road ride from Harrisonburg to Charlottesville.


And I thought to myself, hey, that's swell, I wonder if there's a similar ride on dirt?



Waiting, waiting.

I had crossed over into the nether-regions of the internet, where the maps aren't on paper yet, and the gas stations only have kerosene.  There's nothing out there.

And I thought to myself, hey, wait a minute.
I know those dudes in Rocktown ride to Massanutten and back, pretty much all on dirt.  And if you can get to Massanutten, you can cross 33 and then the Shenandoah River, and find yourself at the base of the West side of Simmons gap without too much trouble.  And if you can do that, and you've got panache, and you're an enterprising individual, you might very well make it to the top for the start of the Trans-County route, and be at BRC by dusk.

If I do recall, I tried to talk Kev29er into round 2 of that same transcounty ride not long ago via email:
Me to Kev29er:
BRS to Walnut - the trans-county point to point is back and slightly longer.  This ride was a hoot last summer, now giving it a try in the cold to see how it goes.  

Blue Ridge School start
Up brokenback
Down the super d
Up markwood to the Paranormal loop
quick paranormal rally
Aid station 1 (my house)
A new connector and fence hop to Buck Mtn rd 
Bleak house singletrack (Sunday only)
Up reas ford to earlysville
Aid station 2(the new and critically acclaimed cruise-in diner)
Poach a little Danny flow half track(Sunday only)
Advanced Mills to preddy creek (paved)
Preddy loop ( conditions permitting... It's been muddy there)
Aid 3 (Dunkin donuts)
Gravel to fo' lakes
Fo lakes singletrack (conditions and permission permitting)
Into town - perhaps via the Dunlora link
Rivanna trail 
Aid 4 (blue ridge Cyclery)
Rivanna to o hill to old lynchburg
Old lynch to walnut
Finish down the goat trail(conditions permitting)

Kev29er to Me
that email made me throw up a little

So we didn't do it.

But we could have.

It's like the Giro bus stopped at summers market, opened the doors, and said, "everybody out, let's party."


So, I dunno, just spit-balling ideas here, because it's winter, and it's easy to assess what's do-able and what's not from your office chair as the workweek winds down, and you're not actually grinding your saddle into your taint on mile 140 or whatever it might be, in the rain, out of food, muttering something about trolls.  But, to compare the transcounty ride (which I've done) to a Rocktown-to-Foofville one-way (which I profess has not been done yet), I guess you'd have to more or less double it to account for whatever lives west of Simmons Gap, figure out exactly what that is, pull out whatever doesn't fit into daylight here on the East side of the mountain, and you'd have a dirt route from Rocktown to Foofville. It's a far cry from the sort of pioneering that Chris Scott did when he put together the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail, but for two towns with such filthy-great bike culture, I sort of thought this kind of thing had already been executed successfully and described with voracity on someone's strava widget.

Turns out, not so much.  Just goes to show: there's shit the internet hasn't done yet.
But, I'll go on record here with the following:

It will.

Any takers?
Up, up, up.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Pantani Ride 2014, part of the VES

When it comes to free, epic, backcountry bike races, Robert Issem has been bringin' it to the people for about a year now.  Maybe more than that.  Generally speaking, I don't catch on to these things until they're on the downswing, or the feds have seized all the assets, or the band breaks up or whatever.  So it's a unique position for me to be able to half-promptly present you:


If you don't think that's pretty rad, then you wouldn't know rad if it jumped you on your ride home and beat you unconscious with a sack of dirty old cassettes, then left you a note that said something like "Hey, I'm rad."  Which, conveniently, is how I'm told you might feel after some of these events anyway.

For example:
The Star City Vicious Randonnee

I'll give that one 2 wows, and one long drawn out ooooooouuch.
Something about the word "Suiride" conjures images of Japanese fighter pilots flinging themselves at aircraft carriers over the South Pacific a century ago, so maybe that's a little overstated.  But there's something to be said for undertaking a ride that you probably won't be able to finish.

Ah, yes, winter.  The time for dreaming up big routes, drawing squiggly little lines on huge maps, microbrewing, and proclaiming to oneself, "yeah, I could do that in a day."

So here's where I come in, because despite my palpable lack of fitness and resolve, I have to come in somewhere.  Yes indeed, due to the freeness, the epicness, and the backcountryness of The Pantani Ride (all VES pre-requisites), and despite the fact that the route doesn't include a dime of singletrack, The Pantani Ride is in for 2014.  Rad.  Also, in a real display of anachronism, we were also in for 2013, I just didn't know about it because I don't know about much of anything on time.

Strangely enough, if you click the link on the VES blog, it'll send you back here for the 2013 Pantani Ride info, which will send you back there and so forth, and if you're not careful you'll end up in some weird time-space continuum like in 12 Monkeys, and you'll be fucked for all eternity.  So be patient, don't do that, and I'll try to get up an official 2014 Pantani Ride post in the coming weeks that VES can link to and thus prevent the failure of the public internet.

I'm a hero, I just don't have the pink socks to prove it.  Nor do I deserve them.

But the date is set:  February 9th, 2014.  I'd mention the obvious choice for a rainout date, but I know that you already know how that works, so I won't do that.

Aside from the VES inclusion, I'm not sure much else is new.  Indeed, in a year that Marco Pantani will be honored by the Giro D'Italia in commemoration of his death 10 years ago, we'll actually be in our 9th year of doing so.  So thanks for getting on board, Nation of Italy.

hey shorty, it's your birthday.    
Or at least, the 10th anniversary of your untimely demise.
We miss you enough to do you proud.
More details to come.
Up, up, up.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fallrides, nightrides, and fatbikes.

Wooooooooosh.  A weekend in Richmond with Big John, and Monday all I can think is that sound.  Such is the ass end of fall.  Wooooooooooosh.

You know what to do.  Seize the day and all that.

Also, for those of you who now can't fit your rally into daylight hours (myself included), I've got a little standing night ride going in parts north of town for any takers with the desire, mettle and burn time requisite for that sort of thing.  This week:

The northside extreme will roll from Timberwood Grill via Flo Lakes at 8 PM on Thursday night for a fine smattering of gravel roads and local singletrack, both purpose built and not-so-much.  Post ride bevies (they've got OB's Ten Fidy on tap) and perhaps the final, inconsequential snaps of TH night football to warm the soul at, quite possibly, 10:30 PM or so.  So call it a 3 hour tour if you know what I know, which is that I don't actually know.  

Dig?  Charge your shit and so forth.  

The thing about this "standing group ride": usually it's just me and C-Ham.  Sometimes just one of us.  Sometimes it doesn't happen at all.  So it's worth noting that it's not really standing, nor is it that groupish.  Consequently, there's an email list to sound the alarm, pretty much once/week, about what we'll be riding, when and where to meet, and how much beer to bring.  It's not for everyone.  In fact, I gave up a long time ago even trying to explain to people why I do it.  But if you've got the legs and the soul for it, shoot me an email and I'll add you to the list of dudes who pretty much never show up - you'll be in great company.

Final thought for the day: Fatbikes are going to surprise, attack, and overrun the planet like a mash up of Terminator and Planet of the Apes.  It'll happen slowly at first, and then, bang, something big will happen, and they'll simply be what everyone rides, almost overnight.

And, like everything else with 4.8 inch tires, it will be awesome.

Up, up, up.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hey Ryder, Fuck You.

Sometime shortly after the turn of the century, I was learning how to mountain bike, and someone gave me a copy of Chainsmoke 2.  Chainsmoke 2 was one of those early mountain bike films, before Freeriding really took off and began to dominate the sport from a marketable visual perspective, and it mostly focused on professional racers, but it was a little different than the run-of-the-mill downhill bike porn because it actually had some great footage of the XC race scene in the early 2000's.  I was psyched about that.  And maybe 10 minutes in (I know how long because I used to play the video while I was donning my Gary Fisher riding ensemble, getting ready to go ride) Ryder Hesjedal would grab a holeshot and ride up some insanely steep section of a race course out West in his big ring, all skinny, power, and glory, and disappear over the other side of the hill.  One word would come out of my mouth: Badass.  And then I'd go ride.  In my head, I could ride like that.

Might as well steal this one from Youtube at this point.  It's all stolen anyway.

Much coverage in the news this week (like most weeks) and some pretty bad news for professional road cycling, but this time the culprit is one of our own.  I guess not, it turns out.


Honestly, that one hurts me a little.  There's not much I can say about it that hasn't already been said in the mainstream media that's way more timely and better written than this rag, and the damage is already done and all that.  But damn.

Still, I'm just a fan, and despite my fantasies to the contrary 12 years ago, I've never had that kind of power.  But plenty of other guys did - or might have - guys I know and respect and still see on the local goods sometimes.  And it's those guys that really ended up holding the bag for Ryder's greed.

Erin Bishop put this photo up on big blue yesterday.  It's just sad.  Jeremiah and JHK, all the clean riders, taking a back seat in an up-and-coming sport to cheaters.  Shortly after this, Hesjedal got a pro road racing contract, departed for Europe, and made a whole life for himself on the basis of his "talent" as a mountain biker.    That's a whole lot of money, fame, a house in Europe, the adoration of his country, Sportsman of the Year in Canada, etc, etc.


Photo: When VeloNews named Jeremiah the "revelation of the season" in 2003, they only knew the half of it. In his "breakthrough" season, when the NORBA Nationals were a huge scene with international riders and tons of fans, Jeremiah and plenty of other riders were racing and training to be the best athletes they could be. It's a damn shame we look back at images like this one, now knowing that the honest, hard-working and inspired athletes were up against cheats - and not just up against them on the racecourse, but in the job market and bicycle racing history. Jeremiah's third place at Mt Snow was a HUGE deal back then. Now knowing he was the CLEAN winner, with JHK (at left) the only other CLEAN rider on that podium, really changes what would have been. Another HUGE CONGRATS to you for all your success, Jeremiah!

Look, I don't really care that another pro roadie got popped for drugs.  If that surprises or dissapoints any fan of cycling at this point in the game, it's probably worth admitting that it's going to get worse before it gets better.  And hopefully some notion of clemency and forgiveness can happen on a large-scale, global level that will allow that sport to move forward before it completely goddamn implodes.

But this sport isn't that sport.  So don't give us that bullshit, Ryder, about "everyone was doing it so I had to cheat too blah, blah, blah..."  You were a mountain biker.  It was a pretty clean sport (I hope, God, I hope) save for a few assholes like you who cheated to get to the top.  In my head, that's way, way different than leveling the playing field in the pro road peloton where you pretty much had to juice just to stay in line.  You cheated because you wanted an advantage, and you thought you'd never be caught.

Maybe the real drag of this, though, is that there's no punishment.  Ryder cheated, now nothing happens because of some randomly selected eight-year statute of limitations on the matter.  Ryder gets to keep racing, even though his whole career is founded on the same artificial legs and stolen money that righteously sacked other riders. He, as they say, "can't give back the legs, won't give back the money."

And really, I guess maybe he shouldn't.  That's dirty cash.  I'm not sure JB would take it anyway (though I do hope JB would spit on him.)  But it gives me pause, and I wonder what would make us - the fans, fellow racers, sponsors, all of us - feel better about this.  Maybe if Ryder self-served a two year ban on his own volition, though he might as well retire at that point.  But that won't happen, and it doesn't matter.

Indeed, the only real consequence is that we all know now.  Sure, this blog might be tiny, and my readership (that's you, Dad) probably doesn't identify with this quite as strongly as I do.  But, even if it's all we've got, I guess it's still our role as a mountain bike community to call this one out for what it is and not forget.

Hey Ryder, Fuck You.

If nothing else, maybe the sale of those awful POC shades will take a little hit, and thank God for that.
Ryder Hesjedal
You can take this picture down if you have to, Blogger, but you know what ugly is now.
To the guys that raced clean, dreamed the big dream, and had to watch Ryder sprint away time and time again, I'm really sorry that I looked up to him.

Up, up, and onward.