Saturday, March 01, 2014

I Got My Own Thing Now - TrailWerks Cyclery is Coming!

After a few decades in the bike industry, I've come to the realization that it's time to open a bike shop.

There are a bunch of market-based reasons, various and significant opportunities, but it all boils down to one thing: my family.

Maybe it's my advanced age. I'm not a kid anymore. I've lived a life of the stereotypical man-child. A mechanically-inclined Seth Rogen who really loves to ride bikes with friends. And now all I can think of is sharing. Mostly, sharing myself with my kids, at work, with friends and strangers around. It's about showing them that it's always best to do the right thing, when people appreciate it or not, deserve it or not. It's about who you choose to be in this world and how you make your way through it. I want to make sure that they become good people and I want to be an example for them.

I want to continue to raise my kids into adults. Susan and I spent their early years nurturing and loving them. We made decisions with only them in mind as we shifted jobs, moved out of DC, organized our lives around being with them as much as possible. Now that they are really little people, capable of compassion, caring, helping, comedy and lifting heavy objects, I'd like to be able to give them what little I have left: the mechanical understanding of the world and materials that comes with working with your hands, the amazing interactions that you can have with strangers that starts them on the path to becoming friends as well as customers and a solid work ethic that values honesty.

My wonderful kids have been watching as I have struggled through the paperwork, the phone calls, the thousands of emails involved in starting a business. They have watched me work in the garage while TrailWerks Suspension Service was established. They have done their homework next to me as I have bled FiT cartridges and cleaned out lowers. And they are excited to work on bikes, fix flats and learn to work the cash registers.

And my wife. My poor, long-suffering, self-proclaimed bike widow. She, of course, is excited. I think she said something to the effect of: "It's about damn time". I'm going to take that as a positive statement...

So, in just a few weeks, TrailWerks Cyclery will be open. We've got a great physical space in a great location, right next to another business committed to fitness, wellness and nutrition. There's trail across the street for a mid-day singletrack fix, roads with shoulders in a few directions and plenty of food options within a mile for random lunches and stocking up from the grocer.

This really will be a family affair. You'll see the kids at work with me, especially during the summer. I'll have to teach them about scary stuff like working with a grinder and various cutting tools as well as the gentle touch of helping a customer find the next love of their life in the shape of a bicycle.

I hope that I see everyone in TrailWerks in the coming months. I'd love to welcome you into my shop. It's a shop that I've spent 22 years building in Salisbury, San Diego, Moab, Grand Junction, Fruita, Vegas, San Jose, Frederick, Annapolis, Snowshoe, Mountain Creek, Harrisonburg and a few dozen other amazing places. It's a shop that would have never happened without the full support of my family, and they'll continue to be there right beside me. All of my hard work will be for them and with them. This will be the defining moment of my kids as they transition from kid-ness into young adults and leave their mom and me for college just a few short years from now. This is the part where I wax about "where has the time gone" and that nonsense but I can honestly say I know exactly where the time went. The time went right into the two amazing little people Susan and I have been raising to the best of our limited ability since early 2001. More importantly, I have decided that "what am I going to do now" has been answered with TrailWerks Cyclery and the continuation of TrailWerks Suspension Service, side by side with my wife and kids, as much as they can stand...

I invite you to come along for the ride. Let's get some butts on bikes, get out for an adventure and discover some smiles.

And thank you.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Bud Scud

It's been a few weeks since we laid our good friend Scott Scudamore to rest.

This is a very hard thing to write about. It has been hard for all of us who loved Scud.

I met Scud when I moved back to MD from California in 1998. I had started to get involved in some mtn bike advocacy in NorCal and wanted to continue doing that here. I hit the AOL search engine and found MORE. Back then, it was basically a list-serve-based organization. Everything was email. I set up my first email address: onespeeder@yahoo.com. I was riding singlespeed back then, obviously...

My first MORE ride was a early fall Schaeffer event. This was before the boardwalk in the farm loop, before the bridge that lead out to the farm loop, before the rollers off the white loop and before the re-route down to the water crossing. It was a long time ago.

I introduced myself to the ride leader and asked him if I would be ok on a singlespeed out there, having never ridden at Schaeffer. He wasn't sure. He had never seen anybody on a singlespeed before. He asked where I had been riding. I said California. He said I would be fine. I remember Roel coming up to talk to me about riding single as he was planning to build one. I raced a bunch with Roel over the years after that conversation.

So the ride starts and we all duck into the woods, hanging a left out of the parking lot and onto the white loop. I end up riding off the front with Roel right behind me. I put a bit of distance on him after the driveway crossing, through the pines and up to the three-log spot. I stopped. Roel rolled up and we high-fived. The trails were rolling nice. Two minutes later, a rider rolls up to us and starts shouting obscenities at us. He was unhappy that we went off the front on a group ride. Apparently, staying together meant slowing down, not hammering and waiting. During the tirade, the ride leader rolls up, silences the shouting and takes me aside.

"Listen", he says. "That guy is an asshole. Don't pay any attention to that guy. Don't judge the club because of this one guy. I'll talk to him but you should stick around and ride with us. Don't worry about him. He won't bother you again."

Of course, the ride leader was Scud. Years later I was about 200 yards from that exact spot the SECOND time he broke his collarbone at Schaeffer. I was late for a MORE ride and was riding to catch the group that had already left and what do I see walking up the white trail just out of the treeline? Scud, holding his arm, with someone walking his bike.

A few months after that first MORE ride, I got a job at the League of American Bicyclists. During my time there, Scud was MORE president. We worked closely on a bunch of projects. The League started the National Bike Summit. Despite IMBA not representing mountain biking at the event back then, Scud sure as Hell showed up. I was in charge of training all of the on-road marshals for BikeDC for a few years. Scud volunteered to be a marshal to help out. My wife worked for WABA at the time and Scud wanted to help WABA (even considering running for the Board). He helped them get a printer for their office through some workplace giving plan they had at HP. MORE needed insurance for their rides. MORE joined the League of American Bicyclists as a club before IMBA had a club program in order to get ride insurance. Scud and I signed MORE up. I volunteered to be the first MORE trail liaison at Patapsco because of Scud. I reached out to MAMBO (Eric Crawford and Jeff Dalik) and got those guys to support MORE and we all worked to expand MORE into MD because of Scud. There were almost no members in Maryland and nobody really know anything about MORE with the notable exception of Phil VW. Scud also deserves quote a bit of credit for pointing our attention toward Mr Chris Scott and all of the stuff going on in Harrisonburg, VA. He talked up the VA Mtn Bike Fest, SM100, Douthat and Stokesville. Elizabeth and Catherine Furnace... Scud wanted everyone to support these great events and experience all of the amazing rides so close to the DC area.

When I left the League of American Bicyclists, I worked for City Bikes and opened up their Chevy Chase store. We were the only shop in DC to really support mountain biking at the time and we supported MORE quite a bit. Because of Scud, we supported the SM100 with some cash and a few hundred water bottles for a few years. We were also the first bike shop to provide a bike for the MORE Winter Party. It's hard to believe but the early years of the Winter Party had almost zero product. Now, it's an embarrassment of riches!

Before I got married, my wife and I did some trail work at Schaeffer Farms with Scud and MORE. We cut every single board for the boardwalk at the back of the farm loop. It's still there. I knew Scud before I knew my wife. The only father-type pre-marriage conversation I had with anyone was a long lunch with Scud out in Germantown after a trail work day.

When DCMTB started DCCX a few years back, one of the first calls Matty made was to see if Scud would make Scudfries for the event. It was a crucial part of the community that we knew had to be a part of a great 'cross race.

Over the years, there have been excited phone calls from the slopes of Colorado and beltway traffic. I loved hearing his GPS talking in the background as he shouted to the speakerphone. And you can't forget always seeing Scud at Jim Harmon's races. I can't remember an EX2 bike race without Scud there.

Because of Scud, I signed up for my first SM100 back in 2004. I finished my 10th last year. The last person I saw at checkpoint 6 was a smiling Scud. I was tired, happy and looking forward to finishing. Out of nowhere I hear 'Hey Mikey!' and a Dixie cup full of ScudFries was in my face. Behind the cup, a smiling Scud apologizes that he can only give me a cup with the full explanation a blinding blur of why's and who's and where's and 'What else do you need?' Coke. I need Coke. 'Hold on bud!' Scud grabbed me two cups of Coke to get me on my way. I down them with the carbonation exploding when it hits the salt from the fries on my tongue.

'How am I doing Scud?'

'You're doing great, Mikey! You'll be just over 11 hours'.

'F that! I'll see you later buddy! Thanks for the fries!'

'Go get 'em, Mikey!'

'Yup!'

Thanks for the fries, Scud. I'll see you later.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TrailWerksin'

It's been 5 weeks since the launch of TrailWerks Suspension Service. It's been a busy time. Getting all of the paperwork in order takes time, sure, but it's nothing compared to the workload once things got up and running. The website, logo, text, images... And then, talking to all of the companies about opening you up so you can do business with them is a whole other set of phone calls, emails, forms... And on top of that you add in the customer emails, maintaining the website, keeping up with the facebooks and fielding phone calls from friends. There has even been a few on-trial set-up sessions for people who want to get their suspension dialed in. And there's one tomorrow because a certain beardo got a new bike today...

Oh, and there's suspension product to work on.

And an event in Philly with Jamis and GSK where we were building 36 bikes in a huge ballroom with 180 lawyers...

I'm relieved that most of the best names in the industry have been very welcoming to what TrailWerks is doing. Fox, RockShox, Manitou, Marzocchi... I haven't called DT Swiss and I have a line on Cannondale for Lefty's but I haven't taken the time to reach out. This week seems to be the first calm week in the last five so maybe I can do that tomorrow.

I'm lucky to have so many great people around me, supporting me and sending me business! I'll always have a nagging voice in my head that makes me check everything twice, makes me say out loud 'what the hell am I doing thinking that I know what I'm doing' and gets me back on the phone or on the internets, learning about new product or trying to think about old problems in new ways.

Like how to get a new bike in the next 10 days before opening weekend at Mountain Creek...

So it goes. I hear TrailWerks roll off of the lips and it makes me smile. People ask me what I do for a living and I snicker and give a brief explanation, knowing that is sounds nuts.

The workshop is organized, the favorites have been added to the bookmarks bar and my paperwork is in order. TrailWerks Suspension Service is, indeed, open for business.

See you on the trail.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

BikeBoss Announces TrailWerks Suspension Service

BikeBoss, LLC, is proud to announce the creation of TrailWerks Suspension Service, a full-service bicycle suspension company.

Have you ever wanted a dedicated, knowledgeable rider to help you get your suspension dialed? Do the settings confuse you? Ever wished you had pro-level support at your local downhill or endurance race? Let TrailWerks create your solution!


TrailWerks offers rebuild, tuning and on-site support for your favorite suspension products.


Soderstrom says thank you...

Internets

Facebooks

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Things That Inspire Me

I've done so very much.
 So much more to do...
Here's to carrying on.









Thursday, September 06, 2012

Summertime Rolled...

Wow. Amazing how time flies, eh?

Since Memorial Day weekend, I have spent almost every weekend at a bike park on the east coast. Seven Springs, Snowshoe, Mountain Creek, Highland, Burke Mountain got two visits from me and the RockShox Ride Experience. Kingdom had their Bike and Brew, Snowshoe had Blues and Brews, Highland had the Claymore, Seven Springs did Memorial Day mid-mountain fireworks, Mountain Creek opened their bag jump... What an amazing summer!

I have always enjoyed going down hill on a bike. It's what has kept me on a bike for 20 years now. Getting to spend all summer riding bike parks was an amazing experience. Sure I've done 6 foot drops before but not a few hundred times. Sure I've done some gap jumps and tabletops but not 60 in a single run and not 20 feet long. Sure I've ridden on flat pedals but not all summer long. Throw me into anything on a bike and I'll smile and hoot the whole way down!

We all have trails that are etched into our mind. Luckily, I added Hellion, Powerline, ProDH, Cat's Paw, 007, EC, Knight Slayer, CLR, Lincoln Logs, Lo Pan, Tempest, Dominion, Secret Stache and quite a few others.

I spent more time hanging around, working on bikes and getting to know riders than I did riding. One thing that I can say for sure is that the trail crews at these mountains are some of the most talented, creative, caring and hard-working people I have ever met. They challenges and experiences they provide for riders are at the leading edge of the sport. Whether it's old-skool DH, progression or flow trails, these guys and gals have to work with serious resource constraints to create dirt and lumber trails that will help beginners learn and keep experts coming back for more. By definition, their job should be impossible but each trail system offers wonderful trails, stunts and lines. It's so amazing to get to know these people. I have learned that each builder shares so much of themselves over a beer and through their trail. I thank you all so very much for your time, hospitality and hard work.

I also got to meet some amazing riders. These are the people who spend all summer cruising around to bike parks to simply ride. Some families, some guys, some women... Riders who were so excited to see RockShox at THEIR local trails. Some people I ran into at different parks on different weekends. Everyone was more than happy to show me their favorite trails and almost everyone asked me why I wasn't wearing any armor...

Two pro riders in particular stand out: Martin Soderstrom and Thomas Genon. Martin was quick to show up at the van at Claymore at Highland. He had a great smile and introduced himself which is good because I would have had no clue who he was and I barely recognized the name. We got him sorted out with some headset drama and he was very appreciative. He came back later with his friend Thom and asked if we could help him out. He broke a bike and needed help building a new one. Everyone else on-site was too busy but I was lucky to have had three locals and three guys up from Seven Springs to help out, leaving me time to work on his bike. We got TG sorted out and both guys were very grateful. I'll never forget Martin introducing Thom to me. Wide eyed with a slight rearward head tilt he said, 'This is Thomas. This kid is an amazing rider. We need to help him out.' Thomas was almost embarrassed.

Due to a change in my travel schedule, I was going to be around on Labor Day weekend. It's no secret that you could find me in and around Harrisonburg that weekend for the previous eight years. I was very excited (and scared) that I would now be around and able to line up at the SM100 for my ninth consecutive attempt. My dad had just gotten out of surgery and was recovering which was another potential hitch. It was amazing that he recovered so quickly. I was so unprepared for the SM100 this year and so stressed out from the previous weeks with dad's situation. I knew that his recovery would be difficult and that I had to man up to finish this suffer-fest. And then it rained for an hour... I was very fortunate to finish this year.

As I wrap up this season of 'local' travel, the long stretches of highway still leaking out of my brain, I prepare for the last season of RockShox Ride Experience 2012. Las Vegas for Interbike, Park City for a few weeks, Grand Junction/Fruita and Moab before heading back to RockShox HQ in Colorado Springs.

My estimate for mileage for this year's travel? 18k miles...

I am a very lucky guy to have such a great family. It wasn't easy for me to be away so much and the best weekends were the ones where Susan and the kids could come along. I was around most of the summer and we got some good pump track, pool, river, hiking and water park time in. The good news is that my kids actually miss me and recognize me when I come home.

Thanks honey. I know it's been hard. I love you and I thank you.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Travel Update

It's been a long time since March 8th...

Since my last update, I've been on the road getting used to my new schedule and the details of the RockShox Ride Experience experience. I've been in Austin, Houston, Lakeland (FL), Athens, Brevard and Greenville. I've ridden at Rock Hill Ranch, Memorial Park, Comite River, Loyce Harp/Carter Rd, Santos, Heritage Trails, Stokesville, DuPont, Pisgah, Issaqueena, Paris Mtn and Douthat.

I've driven about 7,000 miles and flown 5,000.

Some highlights:

I pulled in to Austin after driving 15 hours from Colorado Springs to find John C. Riley in the hotel lobby.

Tony was told that you cannot put catsup on a Rocky Burger. And then Timmy got us crayfish.

Houston is dripping with money. I've never seen so many expensive cars in one place in one day.

After riding Comite, I dropped in on Bicycle Michael in the French Quarter, which was rad.

Austin fills up with people during SXSW. And there is much merriment.

The Tone likes fish. A lot. And I don't think it is healthy. He may need counseling.

In Florida, climbing is called 'turns'.

Wild Dr Bill is living the good life in Athens with his tin foil hat and some good trails.

Brevard Brewing Company is open, makes really good beer and is available on tap at a bike shop next to an entrance to Pisgah.

You can climb under Hooker Falls in DuPont, there are no hookers there and don't slip or you will die.
Frank is alive and well in San Antonio and he will not die from excitement.

People in South Carolina must be low on men's underwear, or so the ladies of downtown Greenville would have you believe.

Mint julep's taste better when people are happy to see you.

George Hincapie can be made to crash on a mountain bike if you forget to properly install the rear wheel. No, it didn't happen when I was there, nor was it my fault.

There is a larger-than-expected DH scene in South Carolina with many fast riders doing big gaps and drops before they hit puberty.

And finally, while different, bike riders are all the same.

I've managed to stop in Harrisonburg a few times on my

drives south. I've driven I81 six times out and back this spring already. I managed to catch the boys coming back from Douthat after SDS and got to ride down Hankey with them. It was a tough, wet ride for everyone on SDS this year. I enjoyed spending the evening hanging out with Evan and Matty and catching up with Chris, Misty, Bishop and the SBC crew for breakfast.

This past weekend, the DCMTB crew rode from Stokesville to Douthat and many of them raced in Douthat on Sunday. I showed up to the lodge late Sunday and we got in a wet ride on Middle Mtn with some really fun hairball descents. It was great catching up with Wheaton and Mr Biggs.

Pics, from the top: the brother's Hincapie and friends at Paris Mtn, SC; blurry me and John C. Riley in Austin; Lakeland mtn bike tour guide Mike; Santos mtn bike tour guide Danny; Issaqueena DH trail set-up; The Tone and The Fish in Lockhart, post Black's BBQ.

It has been great meeting so many people who really appreciate RockShox taking the time to pay some attention to them and where they ride. I have received so much good feedback from people. We've had shop employee, vendor sales reps, downhillers, xc racers, average riders,

endurance crazies stop by and chat. I don't know if it's the product, the company or me, but we've had no bad interactions of any sort from anybody. Happy hikers, excited land managers, eager advocates and inquisitive industry folks. It is certainly a lot of hard work but people have been very appreciative and helpful. Everywhere I go, people are excited to show me around and bury me in stories of crashes, trail history and detailed descriptions of what the next section of trail will bring.

And every time I come home from a trip, there are three smiling, happy faces waiting to greet me. The kids are always super-excited when I pick them up after school in the RockShox truck. You'd think it was Santa's sleigh!

I have taken a chunk out of this task but there is quite a lot more to come. I have two more trips this month then local events for June. July sees me traveling throughout New England. I depart for Colorado in August and will enjoy Denver, Winterpark and Fruita before Utah, Vegas, ABQ, Salt Lake, Moab and St George in September and October.

If I'm lucky, my first weekend back will be DCCX in October, another fun, difficult day but one I'll be able to enjoy with all my local friends...

Thursday, March 08, 2012

RockShox Ride Experience: Prep

I spent last week in COS preparing for my upcoming travels. I got to meet some of the other
RockShox staff and reconnect with some friends at RockShox hq.

Andy is the other RSRE driver and he is a hard working, knowledgeable, friendly guy. I can see why they hired him. I wish I got to spend more time with him or doing events with him but I probably won't see him until Interbike, if we both end up there.

I also got to meet Tony. I forced the poor guy to fly
out to COS from Chicago so we could get acquainted. He's running a lot of the logistics for the events so we'll be working 

closely throughout the season. My job of driving and wrenching will be WAY easier than his job of finding venues, partners and participants. I've done enough event planning to know how difficult it can be and when you are dealing with non-local situations on a weekly basis AND mountain bikers, it really ups the pressure level. He's a level-headed guy so I'm not worried.

Mike showed me the Sprinter and showed me where our product was. We had three PALLETS full of forks and rear shocks for the vans. It's crazy to stare at that much product. Totem, Lyric, Sid, Boxxer and Revelation along with Monarch, Monarch+, Vivid and Vivid air. I also have drive train parts, pedals, Reverb posts and shwag. Yes, I hooked up on a bottle opener belt buckle...

We got the steerer tubes cut on 120 forks. That's 80 aluminum and 40 carbon for those of you counting... We burned through them pretty quickly thanks to the fork carrier the testing guys let us use. We burned through four hacksaw blades on the carbon and 

ended up with quite a collection of short steerer tube ends. Now all I have to worry about is installing star nuts and expanders into all of them. That is a job we left for later.

I also got the low-down on shock tuning from one of that masters: Jimmy. All he does is rebuild, customize, tune and test rear shocks. Watching him pull apart those shocks was like watching a ninja. He's pro, no doubt. I can' even posit a guess as to how many he has gone through. I have so much more to learn but I learned enough to be dangerous. I can see some rebuilding and custom shock tuning in my future though...


We also had to clean up the vans, wash them for the photo
shoot and get the shelving in. We are set up with 46" lcd teevees and AppleTV. Oh, and two iPads. It'll be a pretty impressive situation when it's all set up.

Andy and I snuck a few rides in. The weather outside was a bit cooler than here but it was amazing. It snowed and cleared up 5 times one day.

The Sprinters turned out rad. Andy talked them into upgrading the stereo so we have two USB inputs, a 3.5mm input, it'll pull Pandora off of your phone and it's got a cd player. Not much else I want, save for some booming bass... I had to replace the 'storage' that was installed in my van so I'm now a Sprinter headliner expert.

On Friday, we had to head over to pick up the shelving for the forks. There was some installation drama that comes with a custom-made, perfect fit wood shelving unit install. About 1/2" had to be shaved off of the back corner so it would fit in place. There will be a 

wall of forks and shocks when you look in the rear-view. I don't have photos but I'll share once I get it filled up. Here is the open shot with the teevee on the right.


Feb 29th was Maggie's birthday so I cruised up to Denver to wish her the best. There was a pretty ceremonious arrival at Great Divide, a comic caravan over to the park, some Xtracycle surfing, a spill, beer shotgunning (not me: driving) and a human pyramid. I think it's safe to say she enjoyed her 8th birthday.

I fly back out to COS on Wednesday for my first oh-fee-shul trip. I have to finish up the van and then drive to Austin by Friday afternoon. It's 12-14 hours so I should be ok. After Austin, it's Houston then a week off before Florida, ATL, NC, NC, Chatt then Pitt. I'll be flying and wrenching quite a bit.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Rock Shox crew and SRAM staff I've met are really great people. They are knowledgeable and patient and it's something that is really exciting to be a part of. I'm very lucky. And thanks to my family, I'm very lucky to be able to even pull this off.

That top pics is of Pikes Peak shrouded in snow. Next is a shot of the forks for one of the vans. Mike and Andy on our ride in Ute, Andy driving the forker, the van and me.

See y'all soon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Adventure

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

I will be spending the next bunch of weekends traveling and working for the RockShox Ride Experience situation. There may be flaming guitars but no promises.

Starting next month, I'll be traveling from UT to NH, TX to FL and a lot of places in between, getting people excited about RockShox forks and rear shocks.

That is the new sled in its new wrap. Matte finish with a big three-point on the grill. Hells. Yes.

I'll be setting up at trail heads across the US, fitting forks and rear shocks onto bikes for people to test-ride. I'm not sure how much riding I'll be doing, but I'm pretty sure that you'll be hearing about it. The social media aspect of it includes Instagram (I don't know what that is yet), Twitter (I don't use it) and the Facebooks.
I could only do this with Susan's approval and support, obviously. She was excited that I could have the chance to do something like this but when she heard about the social media aspect of it, she got REALLY excited. She has told me that she will be running the social media aspect of me. I don't even know what that means. Rest assured, RockShox/SRAM has no idea what they have gotten themselves into. Before Susan is done, I'll be world famous (in the bike industry). She's on it.

I'm lucky enough to know a bunch of people in different cities around the US. I'll be able to visit with many of you and really look forward to catching up. Frank in San Antonio, Leland in FL, Chris in ATL, Mike in Pitt, Maggie in Denver... I also get to spend some time in Harrisonburg, Baltimore and WV with a lot of my local peeps. I'll be around most of June/July but August has me mostly in Colorado. I have a few weeks off in September and then out in ABQ, Utah (Moab, Salt Lake, St George) in late Sept, early Oct. Yes, you should come.

And then I will rest and make up for being gone so much this year.

I'm going to miss a lot of soccer games, but I have seen many. I'm going to miss a lot of hikes, but there will be time for many more. I'm going to miss a lot of nights at home with my wife, but I'll have a wife to come home to. It's bittersweet.

I'll miss the SM100 for the first time in many years. No Lodi, Greenbriar, Cranky Monkeys. I'm hoping DCCX is Oct 27-28 this year so I can be around. That would be my first weekend back after the gig is over. And it would be a sweet one.

So, I guess I'll be seeing you around.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Long Overdue 'Shed and MORE


I haven't ridden with MORE in quite a while. I don't pay that much attention to what is going on over there, save for Patapsco-Rockburn projects. A lot of the same people are floating around from back in the day and many, of course, have moved on.

My buddy Denis was planning on leading a ride out there called 'Iceberg for Dummies'. I think the average person would look at that 'trail' and say that the name is redundant. Rock, rock and more rock with a layer of rock and snow throw in for good measure. I decided I would throw in and ride with Denis.

There were six or seven rides happening at the same time so the San Flats lot was packed. There were probably 70 people there. Denis lead me and 10 others out of the parking lot at the appointed time. I volunteered to sweep. He handed me a beer and we were off.

Now, for those of you who don't ride or who ride and haven't ridden iceberg, let me just say that it's a trail that was designed as a big middle finger. The 'easy' parts are harder than many people have ever seen. And it's high-consequence in many spots, meaning if you fall, you will land on large pointy rocks.

Despite Denis' cruel intentions, no one was seriously hurt. I think people fell down multiple times and many may not be walking today without major soreness, but we all rode out. No emergencies.

It was good to see a lot of friends. I didn't get up to the 'shed a lot this year and it's a nice way to cap off the riding season for 2011. Denis' mandatory post-ride chimay always hits the spot. If you don't like the French, you don't enjoy life.

Photo credit: Denis, our fearless leader.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Emma, the Actress

Emma has been acting in plays for a few years now. I should say, acting and singing. She was the lead in the Spring play, 'Honk', an adaptation of The Ugly Duckling. She was great. I mean, OF COURSE she was great! How else could she have been?

That's her and Jeremy's buddy Carter over her left shoulder.

Just last week was the Christmas adaptation of the Wizard of Oz. She had a smaller part in this one as 'Grouchy Grumble', which is the Wicked Witch of the West, basically. And yes, she got to melt. And send the flying monkeys. And do an
evil laugh. When she found out about her evil laugh, she started practicing. It seemed like the most important part of her performance. Needless to say, it didn't strike fear into the hearts of the audience. It was very cute. If she has any evil in her, it didn't come out in the laugh. It was beautiful...

Here's the melted Grouchy Grumble...

I can't remember all of the plays she's been in... One was Seussical and I'm sure I have video and pics from the others. She really seems to have a lot of fun. The kids rehearse for about six weeks. I love to hear her sing, watch her struggle
with her lines, help other kids remember their cues and generally pull off something that I never did.

After the play, we celebrated at Mi Casita, our local authentic Mexican joint. The food really is great. It reminds me a lot of the family-owned joints in San Diego. Matty was in town for the weekend and we had a 7am date for a ride at Patapsco. The grande margaritas left their mark.

This is obviously pre-melted Groucy Grumble. I guess she's looking for Dorothy and Toto.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pump Track

About a year ago, word reached my ear that there was a plan afoot. People were mobilizing to build a skills park at Rockburn Branch Park in HoCo. I dragged my kids to a few meetings, opened my big unhelpful mouth and committed to helping out.

After much hard work by some local riders, there now exists a completed phase one of the project: pump track.

I had ridden a pump track a few years back in the neighborhood of Asheville at the house of a local pro. It was difficult and fun. Skip forward a few years and there is RSP opening day, Oct 9. Needless to say, we attended.


Now I'm a big fan of learning. I love learning new stuff any time I can. I'm a geek. And I like bikes. I know that a lot of the fastest riders out there train on pump tracks and/or have them in their back yard. And riding a pump track is cool. Mr. Mark Weir has done a lot to promote pump tracks and they are popping up all over the US for almost a decade now. Riding pump track for multiple laps is quite a workout. I haven't tried to set a record or anything but my current record is 15 laps. I usually string together 3-5. It ain't easy.

I slapped the flat pedals on the old stump fsr and dropped the seat all the way down. Susan gave it a shot and seemed to really enjoy it as well. Needless to say, the kids were all over it. After a few weeks of pumptrackular fun, I realized the need for a purpose-built machine. Enter the dj bike.

One skill that is crucial to going fast on pump track is the manual. I can manual on the trail over various obstacles but a flat-ground manual is not something I have practiced. It was something I was driven to learn on pump track.

Now apparently my drive to learn has caught the attention of, well, everyone around me. Jokes have started about how much time I spend at pump track. Apparently, there will be a yurt for me soon. Everyone I know is completely hilarious...

The kids go with me a lot and they spend half the time riding and half playing on the huge dirt pile for phase two of RSP. It's a great place to learn and watch people rip it and to help others learn. Everyone is patient with each other and the plethora of kids who can ride endless laps.

If you have the time, you should check out Rockburn Skills Park. And if you have some cash money, please donate to help get the rest built. And if you have time in the spring, make arrangements to get out there and help us build the rest of the area. There will be much radness.

See you at pump track... Yes, you'll see me there.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy birthday!

10. Wow.

Today is Emma's birthday. She's 10. I can't believe it. I feel like it has gone by so fast. I'm heading over to her school for lunch so we can hang out. She had a rough morning. Susan bought her a brand new birthday outfit but apparently she wanted roller blades. Jeremy had asked for (and gotten) roller blades for his birthday and apparently Emma wanted roller blades too! She neglected to tell the procurers of roller blades so she was a bit disappointed.

I also found out that she wants to have a party. Tonite. With all of her friends. Ugh. Saying 'no' to that makes me feel like the worst dad EVAR! but it's not to be.

Someone please let me know when parenting becomes easy. For some reason, I have a sneaky feeling that it won't.

Maybe she's feeling better now that she's at school. We'll see. I should get some cupcakes...

Happy Birthday Emma!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The House

Susan had this great idea that we were going to make some changes to our humble abode. I believe the terms 'upgrade,' 'update,' 'fix' and 'improve' were used and there was some discussion about money (mainly that it would take quite a bit of it).

We talked about downstairs (basement/first floor), the kitchen, the living room, dining room, future laundry area, additional 1/2 bath, slop sink inclusion and I believe she used the term 'media room' which to me meant I would be getting proper surround sound.

The 'talk' culminated in my arrival home one Saturday afternoon from a mountain bike ride, most likely with Wheaton or Seibold. My arrival was preceded by a phone call...

Susan: Hey, are you on your way home? How long until you are here?

Me: Oh about 25 minutes or so

S: Are you hungry?

M: Yeah.

S: Well then I'll make you something.

M: That would be rad. Thanks.

S: Ok, we'll see you soon. The kids are out playing. I've been really busy and I hope you aren't mad. BYE!

M: Wait! What?!

Cleek...

I pulled up in front of the house to see the entire garage entryway covered (COVERED) by carpeting and padding. Susan had pulled up around 550 sq ft of carpeting and tack strips and piled them in a way that forced me to deal with them before I even got in the house.

Subtlety is one of her many talents.

As you can see by the November post below, the project has progressed. Oct/Nov saw the construction of the half bath with pocket door, laundry area, slop sink, heated floors, tile, paint, trim and my goofy gear closet. I ran the speaker wire in the walls and put in the electrical, RCA and HDMI plates in the wall. After that, Susan moved the 'kitchen' downstairs for the kitchen work.

We ordered the cabinets from the internetz and they arrived flat-packed and ready to go. We
shoved all of the living/dining/kitchen stuff into the living room and gutted the kitchen. We removed the cabinets, co
unters, wood floor, vinyl floor under wood floor, trim, lights
and switches. In went the cabinets, light, switches, outlets, su
bfloor insulation, heated floors, tile, paint, range hood and back splash tile. We went without a working kitchen for a record-setting 10 days. Our ace in the hole was the local granite guys. They told me 24hrs and I thought they were kidding. I talked to them at 5pm on a Wednesday, the measurement guy was there at 6pm and the crew installed the rock on Friday at10am. My buddy Dave got the plumbing going and we were rocking. New range and fridge, under cabinet lighting and amazing back splash tile and BAM! We love the kitchen.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I decided to gut the kitchen a few days before Xmas. Against Susan's wishes. When we were expecting 5 guests. For a few days. Yeah...

Shout out to Phil around the corner. I was talking to him about all of the work going on at the
house (our kids are together after school) and he said he had a 40 yard box in his driveway I

could fill up. I filled it up with house debris. He saved me a few trips to the landfill, that's for sure.

After that, it was floor prep time. We pulled the carpet, padding and tack strips. I screwed down the subfloor, stapled the vapor barrier dow
n and we went to town. I had the oh-fee-shul floor nailing gun from Home Depot for two days and did a lot of the finish work, front steps and powder room using my 14g nail gun. More paint, trim and stair nose and the floors were done. And it looks amazing.

I tore up the carpet on the steps from the living room down and just painted the stairs with porch and floor paint. The risers are white and it
looks pretty good. I've been doing trim, painting walls and ceilings, removing wall paper and small electrical stuff for months. I have a few small transitions to finish and a few small projects (front door) then we should be done.

That first pic is the transition from the foyer to the powder room inside the front door. I had to bridge over the doorway, measure backwards then start the flooring and march it to the wood in the doorway. I took my time and was lucky that it worked out perfectly.

The second is the back splash tile, cabinets, lighting and counter. I know, you would have never known had I not told you, right?

Pic numero tres is the 1/2 bath and laundry area under
construction. If you have an eye for it, you can see the 1/2 studs for the pocket door. It's a space-saving design but I would have rather had a properly-framed wall. The tight space required this design.

Number four is the kitchen with the insulation going down for the heated floors.

Finally, the last pic is the almost-finished floor.

Ok, so it wasn't ALL work last year. Here's the kids at their birthday party at Earth Treks last year.

Last year, I also managed to pull through for DCMTB at DCCX as parking captain again, ride the Patapsco Thru Trail with Wheaton, ride up in Fredneck with the guys from Specialized, corn maze, watch Emma play volleyball, see Emma's play, have an anniversary (10th)... jeebus.

Anywho, this weekend is new front door project and a little pump track action.

More to come...

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