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I've seen the future //
Wednesday - July 29, 2009
The heat and humidity has definitely arrived here in Maryland. Monday was hot and sticky when I arrived in Catonsville to pick up my nephew for a ride at Patapsco State Park.
My nephew is getting ready to turn 13 and has been wanting me to take him out to hit the trails, but kids these days seem to have busier schedules than the adults, so it has taken a bit of time to coordinate this outing. When I was his age I was out ripping it up on the dirt on BMX bikes, having not yet moved on to mountain bikes, so I was anxious to help set him down the trail of dirt addiction.
Having thrown my work stand in the car, the first thing I did when I got to his house was to give the bike a once over: checked the brakes, lubed the chain, shifted through all of the gears, checked his tire pressure and put his saddle at the proper height. Then it was on the roof rack and off to the trail head.
A light rain the evening before knocked down the trail dust and provided nice traction. Before we started I gave a few pointers, trying to find the balance between giving him what he needed to know without boring or overwhelming him. After a few struggles with being in the proper gear he quickly figured out where he needed to be when the hills approached. Kids are quick learners that way.
It was cool to watch the trails through his eyes as he checked out the falling down remains of the Civilian Conservation Corp houses that remain in the park, spotted the pileated woodpeckers I pointed out beside the trail, and negotiated the roots, rocks and turns of the singletrack. He quickly picked up the basic skills he needed and will only get better the more he goes out.
It's a cool thing to watch the next generation of mountain bikers develop, every time I see them on the trail it gets me pretty stoked. If you have a chance, take a kid out on the trails. You don't even need to wait until IMBA's "Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day" on October 3rd.
2009 Liberty Jamboree //
Tuesday - July 28, 2009
It was another scorcher for the Liberty Jamboree in more ways than one. The annual summertime gathering of Mid-Atlantic single speed riders were greeted with dry but hot and humid weather. Like other races I've done this year I opted for the fixed gear MTB. Probably not the best tool for the job considering the sprint style racing that takes place, but it's never been just about first place. Push your limits, see what you can do (see the recent 24 Hours of Big Bear report).
The Jamboree is basically the summer version of the Single Speed Punk Bike Enduro, a single speed stage race where riders accumulate points with top finishes and capturing of various "punks" or "outlaws" (photocopied photos stashed on the course). Stage winners swap a yellow leaders jersey, unwashed in all the years of the event, as the day progresses. The Jamboree's final winner is determined by a hand of black jack where points are wagered against the dealer. Serious business as you can see.
Stages were a bit longer this year, but still short overall which doesn't play to my strengths. No excuses, you play the hand you are dealt. The fixed gear left me losing places on the downhills which meant putting in extra effort elsewhere to gain lost ground. Still, I managed to finish in the money in more than half of the stages and captured an outlaw which was worth as many points as a first place finish. A few mistakes on my part led to losing some higher places on stages, but that's racing.
At the end of the black jack hand DC had swept the podium, the first time they've taken the yellow jersey home. MD has been out of yellow for two years now with Virginia dominating, time to stage a come back for next year.
The post ride reservoir swim, BBQ and kids race topped off another great Jamboree. Big thanks to Jim, Amy and her parents for hosting. Summertime mountain biking should always be this good.
Lots of good photos of the event, courtesy of Al Santos, can be found here.
Bits At The Local Shop //
Monday - July 27, 2009
Snapped a few pictures the other day when I was in the local bike shop, The Bicycle Escape. First is the wall of single speed and fixed gear related parts. Chainrings, tensioners, lockrings, cogs, it's all here plus the odd handlebars many of us favor. Nice to be able to pop in and grab what you need locally.
The other pix are of the new Chrome Messenger bag display at the shop. Cool idea. Day in and day out my Chrome bags take a beating and serve me well so if you need a bag, check them out. The asymmetrical shoulder strap lets the bag hug your body so everything sits nice and comfortable. Plus the padding is integrated into the strap so it doesn't shift around. Just one of many well thought out design features on their bags.
Disclaimer: both of these companies are SSOFT sponsors.Don't hold that against them.