Monday, March 30, 2015


My wife and I are entering Trek's Driven By Adventure contest and this is as good a place as any to collect the entry materials. The contest requires 5 photos, 2 essays and 1 video.

The Photos: We tried to pull some photos that show our adventurous side.  Most of them seem to end up at the top of mountains.  I guess we climbed them because they were there.
Burnt Meadow Mountain, one of our favorites!
Mountain Climbing In Reverse

Pre-dawn Ride to the Top Of Cadillac Mt

Overall Winners of The Great Adventure Challenge

Mount Washington Summit, Awesome!
The Writing:  The two stories required are the most memorable adventure and why should we be chosen.

Most Memorable Adventure
Of our adventures, a few come to mind as memorable.  Buying plane tickets and donning backpacks for a 2 week adventure across 10 countries in Europe with no itinerary for our honeymoon comes to mind.  But that memory is fading so it doesn’t count as most memorable.  Loading the bikes and heading to Acadia National Park for an extended weekend of riding ALL the carriage trails was just last fall.  Those memories are vivid because it was our most recent adventure, but in time I don’t think they will be the most memorable.  For me, the most memorable adventure we have taken together was a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  We were both in adequate shape with adequate experience but we weren’t in great shape with great experience.  This is how memories are made.
We started our journey with 3 days of gambling, drinking and eating in Vegas.  I must admit, that portion of my memory is a little fuzzy… but that could be accurate.  We made our way to the Hoover Dam and took the tour, which was pretty unforgettable.  That thing is BIG.  From there we drove to the south rim of the canyon.  We’d been planning this trip, brought gear from Maine to Arizona, packed food and tents and all.  What we hadn’t done was make reservations to actually hike down into the canyon, who knew?  Not us!  We’re from a place where if you want to hike a mountain you park your car and point your feet up the trail.  Some places, like Mt Washington, they like you to sign in to make sure that you sign out.  But limiting the number of people on the trail was foreign.  Ultimately, we got on a waiting list and got our permits to hike down.
To our surprise, it was snowing on the rim on the morning of the descent.  Given the time of year and the hot desert we just drove through to get to the canyon we were caught a little off guard.  No matter.  We collected our gear and headed down.  We were prepared, maybe a little over prepared.  We were only staying one night but I think we could have made it for three.  The trip down was pleasant and quicker than I expected.  It should go without saying that the views were amazing!  We got to our campsite and set up our tent.  The weather was a stark contrast to that on the rim, hot and windy!  Sand was everywhere.
The next day’s assent started easy enough.  I got to experience my first and only rattlesnake in the wild.  My wife does NOT like snakes. Poisonous snakes on a 2 foot wide path with a cliff on either side even less.  As we neared the rim, our lack of training and abundance of packing was showing.  My pack gained half or her pack’s gear. But, we made it out with some sore muscles and great memories!

Why We Should Be Chosen For The Driven By Adventure Contest
Well, who wouldn’t want to be chosen for an all-expense paid bike tour with nice bikes that you get to keep?  Maybe a little more detail is in order.  I love to bike, my wife loves to bike!  Need more?
I started biking in my late teens and it transformed me from a fat kid to an athletic adult.  Biking has transformed my life.  I own 8 bikes (10 if you count antiques) and ride them all.  I commute an average of 24 miles/day to work over roads, trails, snow and ice.  I’ve tried my hand at road racing, mountain bike racing, fatbike racing, cyclocross racing, triathlons(on and off road) and all things biking.  I’m not that good but I’m not that bad.  Coming in at the middle of the pack is good enough for me in a field of clearly skilled riders. Oh, and I keep a bike blog:
My wife has a similar story.  She started as a fat adult (sorry honey) and chose running as her means to an end.  From her peak weight she’s dropped 90 pounds and kept it off for well over a decade.  She’s run several marathons and will be participating in The Boston Marathon next month.  My biking influence as rubbed off on her and last year she finished her first half iron man.  Add to that countless 5Ks and smaller races.  My passion for riding to work seems to be addictive too because between the two of us the car usually only makes one trip per week with supplies.  She’s worked her way up to 4 bikes of her own but has her eye on her fifth.  Oh, and I write about her in my blog:
Together we have ridden in about 10 centuries in the past 5 years and organized group road and mountain bike rides in our area.  We love to bike!  But even as much as we love biking, we have never had the opportunity to do a bike adventure.  The logistics of flying bikes back and forth has kept it on the bucket list but never in the bucket.  Also, with all the bikes we own, neither of us owns a touring bike.  N+1 baby, N+1! 
So, it is obvious that we should be chosen for this adventure.  We represent a healthy active couple who love to bike and love to write about biking.  When you choose us for the adventure please give us the full 14 days to respond because we will be in the Dominican Republic.  Guess what we did the last time we were there.  I’ll give you one guess:

The Video: This sounds fun but it can be kind of stressful trying to put together a decent video.  One big challenge was that it couldn't infringe on any intellectual property, i.e. no background music.  Most of the other entries we saw broke this rule so maybe they will be disqualified.

There you have it, wish us luck!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Awesome, Just Awesome

Just returned from a 20+ mile fatbike ride with friends on one of the best trail condition days of the season.  We started out across a lake.
Followed the pipeline to what we thought was the trail to Hackers Hill.  It didn't really matter that we didn't know where we were going because the trails were perfect.

Got a little lost and then road mostly free-range through the woods to the top of not Hackers Hill.  In the interest of time we abandon the Hackers Hill idea but did  take a side detour to the top of a scenic lookout and proceeded to take pictures about 1000' before we got to the scenic and/or lookout part.
Not The Top of Hackers Hill

Not the Scenic Lookout Either
Our Bikes At The Scenic Lookout on the Top of Hackers Hill

The Lake Was a Challenge for Anybody Without Studded Tires


What?  You're taking a picture?

Makes You Feel Kinda Small, we just came from that lump in the background.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Winter Bike Shootout Take 2

This is a followup to my last Winterbike Shootout. Using the same bikes on the same trails I decided to take a second datapoint.  The trails this time were definitely faster with hard packed late winter conditions.  I changed the order too.

Day 1: Monday, GT Sensor 1.0.  The trails were prime for a studded trail bike and it showed.  I turned in my fastest time ever on the Lower Log Downhill segment.

Day 2: Tuesday, Surly Pugsley.  I wont lie, the fatbike is growing on me.  The stability and traction over the rutted trails is comforting.  I was able to beat my yesterdays time on Lower Log today on this bike.

Day 3: Wednsday, GT Sensor 9er Expert.  Again, I felt the most vulnerable sitting high up on this big hooped horse.  The trail conditions had deteriorated somewhat through melting.  BUT, this bike did deliver the fastest time and I tied yesterdays KOM on Lower Log.  By the last segment my legs were unable to keep up the pace for the whole thing.  It's not that I don't like the 9er.  In the summer it can be my bike of choice.

Results:  All bikes performed similarly.  The slowest was the Pugsley at an average speed of 10.3mph.  If the weight was similar to the other bikes I thing that would have been closer.  The second fastest bike at 10.5mph was the Sensor 1.0.  Again, this bike was fun to ride.  In an unexpected upset, the Sensor 9er came in at 10.8mph with deteriorating trails and tired legs.  Of the 3 it was the least stable bike with the least traction.  I may have been pushing harder because I haven't decided to do a shootout until I started riding this bike.

The Winner: I'm going to have to give it tot the sensor again today. With the right combination of fun and speed.  If the conditions had been different the results would be too.
2010 GT Sensor 1.0

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Riders from different groups collide; not literally

So it was the second day of spring.  That means, time for a winter bike ride. Normally you don't associate spring with 12 degrees and 2 feet of snow still on the ground but that's what we've got.  5 of us joined together to explore some trails that none of us had ever fully ridden and the result was awesomeness! 

Here's a not terribly exciting video of the event but some footage none-the-less. 

After the first 10 miles we got back to the car and only 2 of us remained for the last loop.  Luckily, this also meant that there was a Mukluk available to try.  It definitely had a sportier feel than the Pigsley with quite a bit of understeer (oversteer?) I can never remember.  Given a choice of the 2 I'd probably pick the Muckluk but it wasn't enough to push me into the must-buy category. 
Identities being preserved through the use if silhouette
 FYI Ted, it looks like you made the right choice not to ski Sugarloaf today.

Hill Bombing

Friday, March 20, 2015

Trails are still awesome - see Strava for proof

The late winter trails are in prime shape.  Not mush more to say.  The first part of each of these is the best, the rest was just letting the tape roll.  I've got to figure out how to keep youtube from taking perfectly crisp videos and turning them into blurred lines.
One of my favorite tails in the winter with an overall downhill grade and banked corners, Woo Hoo speed.

This trail is fast and a blast!

Trails are like paved roads

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mainley Fatty Fatbike Race 2015

 Don't trust that crust, it's a lie

In retrospect I should have started closer to the front.  I'm not a serious racer so I usually start off casually and work my way through the pack when I can.  This course was so narrow, soft, tight, bumpy, icy... that there was pretty much no passing except for the run-ups.  "Luckily" there were plenty of run-ups. 
See me?  No you don't, I'm way in the back., Photo by John Keller
 The trouble was that any time anybody ahead of you got got off.  Over the race period that probably cost a few minutes.  The course was pretty rough.  I had 2-3 unplanned dismounts where the front wheel broke through what was previously known as the trail.  Other than that, the singletrack was pretty fun.

Did I mention I was sick?  Not that I'm looking for excuses, but I felt like crap on race morning.  Luckily, I was able to set that aside for race time.  After the first lap I was actually feeling pretty decent about my performance.  And, I had a HUGE cheering squad.  At least they sounded huge.  If you were there know who they were. "YOU'RE A VIKING!!!"
Lap One Complete, Photo by Bruce Manley
Lap 2 was a little faster, for me, mostly because the pack had thinned to a point where your pace wasn't being determined by the rider in front of you.  I was back and forth with a few riders in my speed range but had a little saved for the finish.  I was able to move from lucky 13th 12th place to 12th 11th moments before the finish line.

Going In for the kill!, photo by Bruce Manley
Pass complete, photo by John Keller

 And then 30 seconds later I was at 110% max heart rate.

 I was happy to see that I placed in my usual middle of the pack standing. It was pretty surprising to see how well the sport category had separated itself from the expert category.  The fastest experts finished 2 laps faster than the sport group did 1 lap and I managed to come in a handful of minutes behind them.  I'm not judging because that was a pretty intimidating course for a casual rider.  I really wanted to take my cheering squad for a lap after the race so they could get a feel for it.  Except  I was sick, my wife was sick and they left, oh well.

Now for the excuses.  I'm usually pretty good at excuses but seriously, I was riding an original Pugsley.  I'd really like to see what I could do on a lighter, racier bike with fatter tires.  I might even try to start closer to the front of the pack if I get one.  I've been talking about this long enough, it just might be time.  'Nuff said.

No, I'm OK, just resting, photo by John Keller

Bonus video by Barny B

Have You Ever Felt Like You Were Being Watched

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five Bikes in Five Days

The stars were aligned and the conditions were right.
Five bikes came out to see first morning light.

Monday: After riding the fatbike almost exclusively for 2 months I was itching to get a trail bike out.  The forecast was for very cold and I was hopeful.  The 29er was near the front of the heap so that's the one I tried.  The ride in wasn't great but not bad.  I was confined to the roads on the way home but at least the lake was solid enough to ride.
I am pointing out the sun.

Tuesday: After Monday's recon mission I decided I'd go back to the fatbike which worked much better.  Great ride.  Again I rode mostly roads home 'cause the trails were really soft.  Riding along and suddenly sink to the axle soft.
Sunrises Abound

Wednesday: After months of consistent below freezing temps, this was the first day I felt comfortable taking a road bike out.  It wasn't my fastest road bike but a road bike non-the-less.  The ride in was nice, the ride home was a headwind from hell.
I didn't stop to take a picture

Thursday: After 1 day of above freezing temps, the roads had plenty of black ice from thwaed snowbanks re-freezing on the road.  The studded winter road commuter came out to play.  The ride in was nice.  The ride home sucked hard.  It was only 28 degrees but I think it may have felt like my coldest ride yet.
I also didn't stop to take a picture but I got one enroute

Friday: After 2 days on the roads I was ready for some more fun.  The temp had dropped and the trails were fun and fast with a few ruts that made the ass pucker.  The kind where the front wheel is turned but it's still traveling straight and your sphincter grabs the seat in an effort for more control.  No mishaps and the trails were fast!  I rode my trusty GT Sensor, "Trusty".  Given a weeks worth of crappy return trips I'm thinking that carpooling is in order tonight.
Judging by these photos we've had a pretty good week!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Everybody.s bitching about daylight savings time, loosing sleep, blah, blah, blah!  I'm enjoying the early morning rides with sunrises again.



Awesome way to start the day

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Wearing Out the Dogs

If you have young dogs you understand that the best thing to keep a dog out of trouble is keeping them well exercised! Surprisingly enough mountain biking is my favorite way to do that.
It may not look it, but these dogs are frickin excited.
 It certainly is easier to grab a bike and go without worrying about which roads you may cross or who you are going to encounter on the trail but the dogs really love to get out and run.  I'm hoping that the obedience training that we are starting tomorrow will lead to better voice control over them so we can expand our trail network.  Right now they are actually pretty good at coming when you call...except when they don't.

About 1 hour of riding condensed into  less than 2 minutes.

We discovered the Dog Not Gone vests last year during hunting season but found that they work great for dogs that blend into the forest floor any time of the year.  In the winter it helps them not get run over by snowmobiles that are usually going about 2x faster than the trail allows.
They came home and told mom all about it.

And then they rested!
Unfortunately the the period of bliss only lasts about a day and then they casually start looking for ways to get into trouble like chewing my favorite pair of gloves.  You've got to love dogs.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

More Deer

Still no sunrises to take pictures of but there are plenty of deer around.  Every day I see between 10 and 40.  Of course getting a good picture of them is a little harder.  Maybe I need to start riding with one of these around my neck.  Nikon 83X Megazoom.  I could get a picture of deer from my armchair with a zoom like that.

Did you hear something?

I call this one Snow Face