Friday, December 21, 2007

Appalachian Nordic Skiing?

I call it West Virginia style cross country skiing. Aka survival skiing, hillbilly skiing, wild and wonderful. Kyle and I went over to White Grass for some of the fluffy stuff. Last time we went over the skiing was powdery and very user friendly. This time it was a mixed condition that required a little more effort. There were the remnants of the ice storm with every piece of vegetation having a icy coating. The climbs required more herringboning and the downhills required some quick stepping. Bushwacking is my favorite to get to know the mountain better. We traversed a lot and explored the amazing xc/backcountry skiing that is White Grass. Cabin Mountain is such a special place in the winter. I skied the Karhu solstice xt(with and edge). Its a good ski...good all-a-rounder. I look forward to skiing the revamped xcd gt.

We got some of the best soup and veggie chilli this side of the mississippi at the cafe and then got some fitness laps in on the snow farm. I like Kyle because he likes the snow farm. A lot of people aren't happy skiing unless they are going straight up and straight down. But I like the kick and glides in between. It was great to see my favorite nordic gnome on the planet, chipper!

Skyline Drive

25 miles outside of Harrisonburg is a Shenandoah National Park that includes a section of the Appalachian Trail. It is a treasure to have so close to town and provides lots of recreational activities like hiking, road biking and rock climbing. But definetly not mountainbiking. But when the weather is too cold for me to bike, hiking is a favorite activity, especially with friends who like to bushwack. It gets boring sticking to the trail all the time. The ice storm left a beautiful crystal patina on everything and ice daggers fell from the sky.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fixed Gears

I went out on a trail ride on my pretty new fixed gear. Tim build me up an Eno Hub to go on my Trek aluminum hardtail. Zack sent me a rigid carbon Bontrager fork. Its a beautiful bike. Almost as nice as Tim's carbon fixie. The universial Fixed gear champion, Joel Maynard, took us out on one of his favorite fixie trail rides...Up Hankeys and down Dowell's. I was suffering the first 10 minutes up the hill, then it got fun and very challenging. Its some hard cranking uphill, but its going to make me strong. Plus, I wouldn't be a Harrisonburg local if I didn't have a fixed gear bike.

Now the downhills are a bit scarier, but exciting. I imagine its like going from alpine skiing to backcountry on skinnier skis. It makes the mountain a lot bigger and more difficult.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pump Track

Harrisonburg is home to two new pump tracks. One is public at the Hillendale Park. The other is private at Justin's house. They are both really fun and very different from each other. I took my 69er out there and then switched to the Mirraco. Bartley is really good and Trevor gets better every round. I pretty much suck, but its a blast! Its good for staying warm, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Plyboo is bamboo plywood. It has a very exotic look to it. Bamboo is a sustainable wood for cabinents, flooring, furniture and even dishes. Andy Rhodes made the cabinents. Tim and Trevor made carcasses for the cabinents.

Day to day

I rode once since La Ruta. My legs felt great, but I had no desire to push it. I've been getting into other things. I helped Tim put in the new concrete countertops. It was a labour of love with lots of hiccups but they look fantastic and so original. You can't pick these up at Lowe's. There are actually ball bearings in there that look like a constellation. Plus they go so good with the plybo cabinents. Next project is a tile backsplash behind the sink and maybe a creative tile mosaic behind the 5 burner gas stove.

Matt and Katy put up a climbing wall in the backyard in addition to the slack lines. It sounds like good cross training!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

La Ruta Story

I sat on the starting line on stage one of the La Ruta de los Conquistadors mountainbike stage race. I was nervous as hell. It was dark, about 5:30 in the morning. The fireworks celebrating the 15th year of the race were really spectacular, but they hardly put me at ease. They were loud and they were only ten feet away from all of us. I worried about my fitness, did I train enough? I was worried about the chaotic nature of racing south of the border. Would I collide with a moto or get bit by a dog? I was nervous about hurting myself.Would I break my upper mandible like Jeremiah did here last year?

But one of the biggest worries of the morning was the bike. My sweet carbon 9.9 was MIA. My suitcase showed up at the San Jose Airport, but the bike never made it. The TACA airlines clerk said don't worry...think positive! That actually made me feel better and I was sure it would show up later that night or the next day or at least before the racce.

I called Luis Fonseca, the marketing director, who invited me down to La Ruta after we met at Trans Rockies. The tone of his voice said it all, "oh know, that's not good" He wasn't saying no problem like the clerk. He mobilized and said I'll call the local Trek dealer and get you a bike for the race.

Its good to have a Trek family all over the world! In the morning I was taken over to Pazos bike shop owned by Claudio Brenes. I guess they helped Jeremiah last year when he was hurt. They didn't have a bike right there for me, but they would bring it to Jaco Beach that night. They got my info like size, stem size, tires and pedals. Super, I was set.

So, at least I was going to be able to race. The guys from the bike shop drove all the way to Jaco Beach to deliver me a bike. They arrived at 11. The race started in six hours. The bike was a beauty, but lost in translation was my size. It was a small 9.9. It seemed like a toy bike as I pedaled it around in the hotel lobby. We were both a little disappointed. I said to myself you have to learn spanish so these awkward moments don't happen so often.

So as I sat on the start line with 550 other racers, I felt the nerves of the unknown. What will this day bring? Will my back seize up? Will the front wheel come flying out? Are all the bolts tight? What does 15,000ft of climbing feel like?

The day was amazing and difficult. The bike was great. It was a little small, mostly because of the short stem. It was quite good on the climbs, but on the downhills I was wanting my bike for sure. I stopped once to raise the saddle, but thats it. Whenever I was hurting I wondered if it was the bike , or just my november fitness. But, by the end of the day I was in the leaders jersey of La Ruta! It was a long day on someone else's saddle, but It was success.

I continued to call the airlines with no progress. I won day two on the borrowed bike. I was getting used to it. I always wanted a bike with a shorter top tube so that was pretty cool. What wasn't so cool, was the absurd amount of climbing on day two. Day one was 15,000ft of uphill and day two was 12,000. Someone said that there were grades of up to 38% on pavement that day. The hardest part was never knowing where the summit was. The most soul crushing part was after all that climbing, the downhill singletrack was a slippery clay ditch that was hazardous to even walk. There was a cliff to one side that some racers even slipped off of. I was cussing the promoter, Roman, for sure. But I couldn't be too mad having won the stage and grown my race lead.

TACA was really starting to piss me off as well. They were starting to act like it was my fault that my bike wasn't with me. I implored the help of Hillary Harrison's mom, Karen, and her friend, Pipa. Karen said if anyone can get your bike back its Pipa. Pipa called and explained who I was, how expensive my bike is and how important it is that I get that bike back to continue as the leader of La Ruta. Pipa convinced them and I got my bike later that night. Apparently, it had gone to Panama for several days.

So, day three I got to ride up the Irazu Volcano on my own bike. I was putting a little pressure on myself now. Would I be tons faster on my own bike. Well the funny thing was, I couldn't get too comfortable on my own saddle. Maybe the damage was already done. I struggled up the volcano. It was only 9,000ft of climbing today. But, on the downhill I was so happy. Finally, La Ruta has a downhill. And I felt great on my bike on the downhills. It was a burly downhill and claimed a lot of victims, including JB last year.

Day four was brtually long. It was 120 Km and a lot of pedaling over very rough roads and railroad tracks. I was not very motivated to push it. I was in stage race mode...protect the lead and thats it. Do the minimum to win the overall. Thank god, I had Louise to follow the whole day. I trusted her lines and her experience on this last day. It was over 6 hours of riding for a total of 23 hours in four days!

La Ruta was crazy hard, but such a thrilling and challenging experience that I would recommend that everyone give it a try. It is exactly the hurt so good experience that mountainbike racers love!

It did take its toll on my body, though. I got a quick stomach bug for about three days after I came home and then I got a bad cold after that. Plus, my bike is trashed. The hubs won't spin at all. The white lithium grease is still packed in every part of the drive train and the kerosene is eating away at every surface it can.

But, La Ruta was an experience of a lifetime! Plus, Costa Rica is a stunning country with cool, friendly people.

I'm happy to answer any questions that you have about the race, too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A couple of pics from La Ruta

I survived La Ruta. My brain is not working good enough to tell the story yet. But this morning Tim was a little perplexed that I was so worried how crazy the world is and how many accidents can happen. I think that I'm just so thankful that everything went well and I didn't get hurt or have any bad experiences. I just feel like a dodged a bullet and caught some podium flowers instead.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

La Ruta de Los Conquistadors

I'm off to La Ruta in Costa Rica! I'm really nervous for this stage race. Its four days of riding with something like 10,000ft of climbing per day. The first day is supposedly the burliest. Last year's first place woman did it in 8hours 20. That is a long day. Also, there are a lot of hike a bikes and no singletrack. But the good news is that it warm and beautiful and plenty of other people to slum with. There is no denying that its going to hurt real bad racing for four long days in November without too much training under my chamois. But its one of those races that I have heard about for years and finally am getting to go to so I feel really lucky to get to ride my bike in another new country. You can check out the race at

North Fork Triple

We got our third taste of North Fork Mountain this month. What a life! It was a ride for Joel's birthday. Anne Brie organized the ride and she had never done North Fork before so that was special. The rest of us were all psyched to get another go at the ridge ride. Our warm and dry experiences earlier in the month were a soggy memory. It started sprinking on the way out, but we were all optimistic that we would stay warm. We all have great gear that is for sure. We had a nice loop planned. We climbed up Redman trail, which is a nice and relatively easy way to the ridge. Then we turn south on the ridge and proceeded to get soaked as the wet laurels slapped us on the way by. We rode on to sleet and some very light snow. By the time we got to the intersection of the ultimate downhill of North Fork Mountain Trail and Landis Trail we had to bail and take Landis down. We were all freezing and starting to get spacy and shivering. Landis is a killer downhill as well, but just not as extreme as NFMT. I rode the 69er which was cool, but have to ride it some more and make a couple of changes to tires and fork pressure before I really get a good idea of how the bike rides. I suggested we take the scenic route on the way home. Without a Gazatteer it ended up being a 20 mile extreme tourist circle. Joel's eurovan did awesome on the steep downs and ups of South Branch Mountain. Sometimes that is how you get to know the area, though, by getting a little lost. I'm amazed at how difficult it is for me to dress right for mountainbiking in the cold. I'm definately a summer lover when it comes to mtbing. Wish I was tough like the girls from Vermont!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I did my token cross race for the year. There might be one more on the horizon, but not in the next couple of weeks. I like cross, but jeez no way is it as cool as mountainbiking. The Leesburg course was a roadie course. There was nothing techy. I'm still waiting for the sand pit or the off camber mud slide. I guess I don't have a good perception of cross since the 3 races that I have done were very small and very dry. It was fun , though and a great workout. Virginia and West Virginia are not exactly the epicenter of cross.

Congrats to JB for looking a lot like a still fit bike racer. His white shoes stayed nice and clean as well.

Monday, November 5, 2007

13th annual six pack invitational

Grooms Ridge was the site of the 13 th annual sixpack downhill. Its a straight up downhill, not a super D. The Quinn Family finally took home the coveted men's win. Christian had been second and third many times and finally won by 1 second over winchesterton, Matt Mchale. I won for I think the 7th time. Come on Marla Streb when are you going to come and beat all the boys, too? Tim was the first Burger in 5th place. What's up H-Burg? Tim had a very, very tight team issue Mexican skinsuit that I got at Pan Am Champs back in 2002. It has never been washed, of course. The party was off the hook, sweet jesus.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

North Fork again!

Life is sweet when you can ride North Fork Mountain Trail twice in one month. The boys from Bike Magazine got treated to a sunny warm day in West Virginia. A crew from the burg went up and did just the sweet bits on the trail. We had our usual share of problems like a busted d-hanger and numerous flats. It was classic off camber leaf surfing and still the best downhill off the mountain.

Then we took the back way up to Canaan and stopped by the very eerily beautiful Bear Rocks. JB and conspired routes for the off road version of H-burg to Canaan. The next day the crew rode a classic Davis route...Forbidden Forest, Son of Plantation, Plantation, Davis Trail finishing on yellow birch. The day started out 48 degrees and raining, but somehow the sun came out later and we enjoyed trails and the view of Blackwater Falls. And of course, we then spent and long, long lunch at the best pizza place in the world...SIRIANNI'S!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tidewater Pics

Tidewater Challenge

I had an awesome weekend down in the Tidewater, Virginia area. It is a historical area because of the first settlement of Jamestown. Plus, it is the on the Cheasapeake Bay, which has a massive watershed draining the rivers of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and some of West Virginia. Its humbling to be around that much water. My sister Beth lives in Chucatuck and my parents came down as well. It is an area that is mixed with busy roads and malls and then pumpkin patches and cotton fields.

The Bike Beat of Williamsburg invited me down to give a pre race clinic on the course and then give a talk at their shop in the evening. All the ladies who attended the clinic were really cool and good riders. We had fun. My sister Beth probably got the most out of the clinic since it was about her 5th time on a mtbike. She was planning on doing the beginner race. The Bike Beat is a cool shop with a top notch staff. It seems like the perfect mix of experience and youthful enthusism. The crowd was bigger than I expected and lots of questions were asked. It was brilliant of them to have spaghetti and beer to draw some folks in.

The race day was cool , but sunny and the course was perfect. The lines were fast and predictable. I raced my hardtail and overall liked it for that course. I won the women's race and then jumped in to the men's pro race. I didn't have any expectations of keeping up with the lightning bolts of the Trek trifecta(Bishop, Schalk, Helmick) but I wanted to get some more riding in. I was pretty fast for three laps then petered out and just rode tempo. 11 laps on that course is plenty for me,but Kyle was superman doing 17 and winning the enduro. I had fun following Thomas on his GF 29er. I was wishing I had the 69er ready to go, but this week I'm going to get out on it.

My niece Lindsy cheered for me everylap and my parents were hootin and hollering, too. They remarked how nice they thought mountainbikers were. I agree. I was so cold after the race waiting for awards. I won some nice cash, a bottle of wine, a cool medal that will go up on my Christmas tree this year and a pint glass. David Duval wins the hospitality award for making some great burgers and snacks post race. And Hoover is the best photographer/feeder.

We went to Joyce and Mke's beautiful house for dinner. The meal was cooked in their very interesting AGA stove. I've never seem anything like that, but she is a princess so she deserves it. David made me and Beth kiss him on the cheek like we were his own private Podium girls. We humored him since he did win and beat the national champ. I think Beth is going to be addicted to mountain bike racing with her third place finish. Of course she is spoiled getting to do her first race on an XTR Top Fuel.

Big thanks for Steve Nevin for keeping old school mountainbiking alive and relevant. Its a fun atmosphere and great competitive outlet for all of us. Thanks Rick Bartels, our uber Trek/Fisher rep in the area. Thanks to Bike Beat and EVMA.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Spruce knob

The day after North Fork our posse set out to conquer Spruce Knob . Spruce Knob is the highest point in West Virginia at about 4865ft. We had the weather gods showering us with warm temps and lots of sunshine. It is such an amazing place to begin with, then put sunshine on top and its out of this world. I had ridden all of these trails before, but it had been years back when I worked at the mountain institute. The climb up from the campground took us three hours and that was pleasure pace, but still a big climb for sure. Huckleberry trail is a must do for any mountainbiker in this area. It will test your suspension and your pure power to the pedals. The reward is coming out to High Meadows and looking down into the Seneca Creek drainage. Some folks took to skinny dipping in the creek. It seems strange to be swimming in October, but I'm not complaining. It was like our own little Havasupi.

The fun stopped with a brutal .9 mile uphill on Horton Trail. Most of the boys said it was doable, but not for me, nor them on the day. Carp exploded his freehub then ran and coasted the long way home. Some more rollers on Allegheny Mountain Trail and then a six mile mostly decsent to Seneca. Maybe it was just the way I was feeling...euphoric, but I put that decsent in my top five for the year as well.

Back at the campground we finished Buck's keg and drove home in a hot, getting hotter eurovan. Will Tim need to replace a head gasket?

North Fork

North Fork Mountain Trail is a gem of a ridge ride that goes from Rt 33 north to Smoke Hole Road. The first three miles are usually where the most carnage happens with wrecks, flat tires and broken chains. Which all of those things happened. Then its all big rollers until it starts getting some hike a bikes and then some serious moves towards the end. The downhill is so super fun that it ranks in the top five for sure. Our group moved quick. It was a little cool and windy, but clear as a bell. We had a 12 mile road ride back to Princess Snowbird campsite where our burritos awaited. Awesome views and a superior ridge, plus the good company made this an outstanding day in my life. I had a good wreck on an uphill and fell to the low side of the trail. It was a bit scary, but I was fine.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mooreland Gap

Trevor, AnneBrie, Kristin and Sue Gorge and me had the best ride today. There were tons of giggles and lots of pinballing and hike a bikes. It was a very techy ride. It was especially hard after partying last night at the Toots and the Maytals concert in Charlottesville. Toots is an old guy, but he was full of energy and got the crowd singing and dancing. But today on the ride I declared that I had CRS syndrome...Can't Ride Shit! I didn't have the mojo today, but haven't giggled so much on a ride in a while.

Then I came home worked over and proceeded to make 30 burritos for our big riding weekend in West Virginia. I'm so excited to ride North Fork Mountain and Spruce Knob in one weekend.

Tim won the six pack downhill tonite. He is so fast! I was pissed the party was at our house since he won, but I got over it. Good job, timmer. Its still and honor to win the six pack and its good to celebrate.

These are pics from our ride on Mooreland Gap today. Virginia riding is really nice right now.