Sunday, February 12, 2012


The small but still prominent competitive bone in me loves to get in with the younger crowd just to see if I've still got it.....or ever had it for that matter.  Racing here and there either on the road or mountain bike is something I've done throughout my two wheeled life.  A friend of mine has always stayed away from the competitive part of the sport saying that when you race you're really pushing yourself and taking risks to go faster, and that's when you're more likely to get hurt.  That's exactly what happened to me last October.  About a third of the way down a Super D course I could see the guy that left the start 30 seconds before me and I just knew I could catch him. I'm not exactly sure why or how it happened, but I went over the bars at what felt like 100 MPH.  It's the hardest I've ever hit the ground.  When I got up my chest felt really tight and it hurt to move my arm.  I reached up and felt around and confirmed what I thought had happened.  I had broken my collarbone.

This isn't the first time I've crashed or injured myself riding.  I've always lived by the motto if you never crash you're not riding hard enough.  Over the years I've broken a couple of toes, dislocated my shoulder on 3 different occasions, busted a knee cap wide open and even cracked the bone in the heel of my foot.  The countless scrapes, cuts and bruises that accompany mountain biking all run together like the days of busy week.  Most of the time they come and go, but every now and then an injury will hang around like visiting in-laws.  You just can't seem to shake 'em, but they do go away eventually.

After breaking my clavicle I knew I would be off the bike for a while and I thought I knew what that meant.  Of course I understood the physical aspect of it would hurt me fitness wise.  I've always been able to gain a pound or two from just the smell of a double cheeseburger but that didn't concern me.  I seriously underestimated the mental aftermath that would be left behind.  My favorite response to the question where are you going or what are you doing....I'm going to exercise the demons.  That's what riding does for me.  It takes my mind from troubles at work or life in general and puts them on the back burner for an hour or two or three or four.  It's hard to worry about making your house payment when you're dodging trees in the woods or even think about FAFSA applications when your legs are burning from a 13% grade you've been climbing for 30 minutes.  Riding equally provides physical and psychological benefits that create a healthier mind and body.

Since cleared by the doctor for some light physical activity, I've started watching my calorie intake and even starting running again in an attempt to rid my midsection of the 10 or so pounds I've gained over the last few months.  Weather and free time permitting I've even got a few road rides and a couple of smooth easy mountain bikes rides in the last few weeks, but a winter with very little riding has taken its toll on this guy.  Each spring arrives with a road paved with pain and sweat, but this year it's sure to be a little longer and most definatley have a few potholes along the way.  I have no doubt I'll get there in one piece, it'll just take a little longer and I'll have to work that much harder for it.  Before I know it,  this injury, like all the others before it, will eventually fade and end up a trail tale being told over a cheap beer after a ride.  Probably with someone rolling their eyes because they've already heard it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Here are a few quotes that have stuck with me over the years:

"Mountain biking is about adventure and the rediscovery of your childhood freedom.  It removes you from the daily grind and puts you in an environment with endless possibilities - wildlife, epic views, a personal epiphany about what really matters, and tasting your own endorphines after a long hard climb.  The reward is looking back at obstacles, that are now behind you , and feeling like anything is possible." - Gary Klein

"It never gets easier, you just go faster." - Greg LeMond

"Sharing is only fun if it's not your stuff." - Jeff Crenshaw

The last one has absolutely nothing to do with bikes, but I've always thought it was very funny...and true.

Please comment with any of your favorite quotes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Split Personalities

In the cycling world there are many different disciplines, or subcultures if you will. There are roadies, mountain bikers, free riders, dirt jumpers, downhillers, triathletes, single speed riders, XC racers, BMX riders, fixed gear riders and yes, there are even those that use bicycles for transportation.  What a concept.  All of these different riding styles are either on or off road and each one comes with its own type of bikes, style, attitude and even fashion.  The riders are just as different as the bikes they choose to ride.

I own a couple of different mountain bikes and a road bike and often participate in group rides on both sides.  While we all share the same passion of riding, each group is very different in attitude and approach.  To me, the paved side of the house has always seemed to be a little more serious, very seldom stopping to regroup or just to take in the moment.  Socializing takes place before or after the ride.  "No time for chit chat, buddy....I gotta hit my lactate threshold."  Group mountain bike rides are very different.  The ride usually stops about every 20 minutes or so in order to regroup or maybe just to make sure there isn't somebody that might need a hand, maybe a tool, ride to the ER, whatever.  If someone in the group has a flat, generally everyone will stop and shoot the bull while waiting for the repairs to be completed.  Socializing is much more a part of the ride in the mountain bike community.

In my years as a cyclist, I've always been pretty good at fitting in with each group and adjusting to the different styles and personalities.  This helps to not be labeled as one of the "other guys".  I come to the mountain bike ride sporting my baggies and laid back attitude ready to rip it and have a good time.  The very next day I'll show up for the roadie ride in my lycra bike shorts (AKA skinnies) that are just as restrictive as the treadless rubber on the tires.  In going from group to group I've noticed one thing they can agree on.....the other guys are crazy.  Of course there are several like myself that enjoy both, but the majority of riders stick to one or the other.  While out mountain biking one afternoon I ran into one of the guys that frequents group road rides out for a hike.  I asked him why he wasn't on a bike and he replied, "Nooooo way, not for me.  Riding on trails really scares the hell out of me."  At the polar opposite of that, one of the fastest downhillers I know told me I was crazy for owning a road bike.  "Don't you know if you get hit by a car you're gonna die?"  This struck me as being very funny since I've seen this same guy ride a bike off of a six foot high boulder without so much as flinching.  The only thing missing was a great big YEEEEHAAAA worthy of the General Lee.

My point is, there is more than one way to enjoy yourself on a bike.  I'm encouraging all free riders, roadies, downhillers, XC racers or what ever two wheeled label you or your peers have assigned you, to try and be open minded.  Give the other guys a chance.  I promise that once you realize that they love a great ride, whatever that may consist of, just as much as you do, it will open the door to a whole new world you never knew existed.  If your idea of a thrill is clearing a twenty foot gap on a mountain bike, you may just find that same giddy feeling at 40 MPH on a decent six inches from the wheel in front of you.

Monday, January 23, 2012


At the ripe old age of 28 I started getting a little pudgy.  Okay...a little more pudgy than usual.  I decided I needed to get off of my ass and start some sort of physical training regimen to ward off the unwanted pounds.  Since running was staple in the military I figured I would go for what I know.  That was a big no go.  I ran at least every other morning and just couldn't seem to settle into it.  Knees and ankles aching I thought there has got  to be something better. The idea of riding a bike came to mind.

Shortly afterward my wife's cousin offered to let me use his 10 speed bike for a while.  I rode that bike up and down the road and enjoyed every minute of it.  Every time I rode I took note of a few small trails off of the road and thought man would that be fun to ride off road.  This is when I realized I wanted...needed a mountain bike.  So I saved up a few pennies and in September of 1997 I purchased my first mountain bike.  It was soooo "RAD".  A Giant Boulder.  I couldn't believe I had actually spent over $200 on friggin' bicycle.  But it was awesome.  I rode that bike every chance I got.  But there was a problem with it.  Every time I went riding I broke something on it.  When I asked the guy at the shop I bought it from what the deal was, he said "you're riding this $200 bike like it's a $1000 bike and it's not made to do the things you're making it do."  And the wheels in my head turned.  All I could think of was that if I got a better bike I would be a better rider and it would be ever better.

Now 14 years and God knows how many pennies later here I am.  I presently own three different bikes.  One "All Mountain" bike that's great for all around riding, a different mountain bike for more of a cross country style riding and a road bike which is tasked with pavement and pavement only.  I love and cherish each of them for different reasons.  Like movies and music of different genres, each has their own time, place and appropriate application.  No one bike is better than the other....only different.  Diversity in the purest form and yes, we can all get along.