Friday, June 30, 2006


The Tour just exploded!

With the consensus top two of Ullrich & Basso suspended and withdrawn from the TdF who are the favorites now?

Vino, Valverde, Cadel, Floyd, Levi?

Shit, maybe someone like Simoni or Mayo will rise from the ashes.

Will there be other revelations during the tour? Kaboooooom!

Although I'm bummed about what's happening it should make for an interesting three weeks with a wide open race and more melodrama than a soap opera.

It does seem that a good chunk of the peloton is doped up to their eyeballs and this could be a watershed event for the sport. Will there finally be some major changes?

If so, which way will it go?

-Shorter, less brutal races that don't require athletes to resort to cheating? Maybe this works if they can implement a testing protocol that actually works.

-Legalize everything and let the best athlete with the best medical program win?

I've never been under any illusion that these guys are completely clean. That doesn't take away from my enjoyment of watching the races.

I enjoy riding and racing my bike. I'm glad that I don't have to make a living doing it, because it seems like it's a lose-lose proposition. You either race clean and watch the cheaters denigrate your efforts...or you join the cheaters, lie through your teeth, and try to ignore your conscience.
Something tells me that all the bullshit would take away from the joy of riding a bike.

On to a happier subject...only 86 days until the 'cross season opener here in Charm City!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Another adventure is in the books.

The journey began with a flight to Vegas, drinks by the pool, a sweet new pair of green & orange Pumas, sushi at the Wynn, and some sleep.

The next morning we were up early lugging our gear next door to the Mirage where we were meeting our guides from Escape Adventures, Erik Klausen and Jared Fisher. These guys are tireless workers, amazing riders, and always full of great stories and banter. Jared and his wife Heather own the company and they have found a way to make a living from their passion. Word.

From Vegas we drove through the Virgin River Gorge to St. George, Utah and Fredonia, AZ to pick up the rest of the 10 guests. On the way we passed some legendary locations for riding and sightseeing, including Zion, Bryce, and Gooseberry Mesa. It was a bit of a tease to be so close and not ride, but we were heading to a pretty magical place. At least we have many reasons to get back out there.

Leaving Fredonia we immediately started driving up the Kaibab Plateau, a magnificent National Forest nestled along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We had to stop at Jacob Lake for gas and water so we picked up some Fat Tire Ale for the cooler too. Is there a better post-ride beverage?

A couple of primitive dirt roads later and we were out of the van setting up our bikes and getting ready to ride. Melanie was on a Santa Cruz Blur and I was riding a Superlight.

Santa Cruz Superlight

Day 1 was a ride on the Arizona Trail. The singletrack, trees, and meadows were gorgeous. The climb known as Mission Impossible 1 was steeeeep, loose, and challenging, but doable.

We pitched our tent on a cliff edge overlooking a view of the Saddle Mountain Wilderness and the East Rim of the Grand Canyon. I inaugurated "The Groover" and slept well under the the intense canopy of stars in the sky.

"The Groover"


On Day 2 we rode across the Kaibab Plateau on singletrack and old jeep tracks over to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Stands of ponderosa pines, blue spruce, and aspen framed the trail in the woods while wild grasses lined the way in the meadows. We checked out Crystal Spring, but me and my stomach were too chicken to fill my bottle there. Fast downhills and a couple of awesome, but nasty, climbs accentuated the mostly rolling ride. I'm used to the short, steep climbs of the East Coast, but I tend to ride well on the longe climbs out West where you can get into a rhythm.

By lunchtime we arrived at North Timp Point on the North Rim where we would camp for the next 2 nights. After a quick lunch we rode part of the Rainbow Rim Trail over to Timp Point, a 6 mile round trip.

The view from North Timp Point


The Rainbow Rim Trail is an 18 mile stretch of world class singletrack along the North Rim. John Neeling created the trail less than 10 years ago with a goal to make one of the best trails in the world. Without a doubt he succeeded. Unfortunately, John passed away on May 14th, 2006. By all accounts he was good guy and a national resource for his stewardship of the great outdoors. The Rainbow Rim Trail is a fine memorial of his life.

On Saturday we rode the Rainbow Rim trail out to Parissawampitts Point and back, a 30 mile ride on 100% singletrack. The one word I would use to describe this trail is "FLOWING". Every foot of climbing is rewarded with a fast and twisty descent. There were many moments of pure joy on this ride. We were grinning and yelling and overflowing with stoke. Oh, and the views were pretty good too.

Singletrack on the North Rim


Rainbow Rim Singletrack



Steamboat Mtn


Post-ride we would wash off some of the dirt with waterbottles, drink a Fat Tire, eat dinner, and spend a couple of hours sitting on the ledge taking in the sunset. After a long day of riding this was both a relaxing and soul-moving experience. It really puts a lot of the day-to-day bullshit of "civilized" life in perspective.

The minute the sun had set a powerful warm wind began to blow up out of the Canyon and onto the Plateau. This kept the temperature perfect for sleeping while filling the forest with a soothing white noise.

Watching the sunset from North Timp Point



On our last day we road a bunch of old jeep roads up and down through the forest to Indian Hollow Overlook. For the first two hours it was all climb > descend, climb > descend, over and over as we traversed the fingers jutting out to the rim. Even though this was jeep track some of the downhills were washed out and very!

At one point we rode right by a section of burning forest.

Forest Fire



We later learned that the entire Kaibab Plateau had been closed that day due to the fires. Nobody else was allowed to enter. In fact, by the next day the Forest Service was escorting the remaining visitors out of the forest. The fires had picked up and jumped the highway leading to the Plateau. We were lucky to even get our trip in! But if we had been denied access to the Canyon we still could have ridden at Gooseberry. 8-)

on fire

Towards the end of our ride on Sunday we were racing along a jeep road in a group when one of the other guys attacked. I jumped out of the saddle to accelerate, but after half a pedalstroke something bad happened. I lost all tension in the drivetrain and I was thrown forward onto the stem of the bike. My left foot came out of the pedal and I was pretty sure I was going down, but managed to hold it together. It was sketchy.

I rolled to a stop and checked out the bike. The chain was fine, but the wheel was very wobbly. There were no broken spokes, but the rim was bent. I guess my massive power taco'd the wheel when I accelerated. ha! 8-)

Jared worked some magic and got the wheel somewhat ridable for the last few miles of the trip. Jared is a great guy and destined to be a legend in mountain biking. He loves to ride his bike and take on insane challenges.

He's done 24 hour solo races (including Solo World's) and Montezuma's Revenge all on The Pig. The Pig is his bike. The Pig is an Ellsworth Dare DH/Freeride bike that has 9 inches of travel and weighs about 65 pounds. The Pig is a pig, but Jared can ride the shit out of that eff-er both down and UP hill!

At Montezuma's Revenge he lugged the Pig up Gray's Peak, a tough 14er. Most racers strap their lightweight XC bike to a backpack for the very long and technical hike up the mountain. Then they hike most of the way back DOWN the mountain.

Jared pushed the Pig all the way up, sometimes using the bike as a ladder on the rock climbing sections. Once at the top he asked which way for the trail to ride down. The dumbfounded race official tried to explain to him that it wasn't possible to ride a bike off the mountain. Undeterred, Jared pointed his bike downhill and hung his ass over the rear wheel and rode his bike down to the bottom. He crashed a few times and at one point there were boulders crashing down around him, but he made it down in around a half hour. The previous record for the descent from Gray's was about 2 hours. He also managed to place 9th in what is probably the hardest race in North America.

The dude is not normal, but he is super nice and a fantastic guide. He and Erik worked their asses off and always kept us entertained with stories from rides and previous tours.

Us with Jared


Me checking out Jared's bike, "The Pig"
65 pounds
24 inch wheels, 3 inch tires
9 inches of travel front and rear


After lunch at Indian Hollow we hopped in the van for the long drive back to Vegas. The stop in St. George for a blizzard from the DQ Lounge was nice, but the 3.5 hour traffic jam 20 miles outside of Vegas was not so sweet. It was 110 degrees and even hotter considering the heat coming off the highway. We had to turn the AC off to keep the van from overheating so we were kicking some serious funk!

Instead of getting into Vegas with time to hit the pool, clean up, and grab dinner we were cutting it tight to make even our flight. In order to spare our flightmates we did take 5 minutes for a hobo shower in the Mirage bathrooms. I don't think the Mirage staff was too psyched about that, but we didn't care.

We made it to the airport in time to eat some crap and drink a beer at Chili's before boarding our redeye flight. We scored spacious seats on the emergency row and I slept the entire way home! That was nice, but we were still luggage when we got home.

We had been missing Thor a ton so it was nice to get home and see him. We all went out for Mexican and got to bed early.

We rode about 16 hours in the 4 days and a rest week is in order. Since we've gotten a shitload of rain here it'll be easy to actually take that restweek and stay off the trails for a few days.

I would highly recommend doing a trip with Escape Adventures. They are great people and know all the best trails. Plus, they will take good care of you. Check them out in Vegas at the Las Vegas Cyclery or in Moab at Moab Cyclery. The do trips worldwide so I'm sure they have a flavor for you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rainbow Rim video

We're back from our mtb hippy adventure to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

1 night in Vegas, 4 days of riding, camping, & dodging forest fires on the Kaibab Plateau. It was amazing!

I'll get the photos and story up in the next two days.

Until then here's a quick video of Melanie climbing part of the Rainbow Rim trail. This 15 mile trail of 100% singletrack is one of the best on the planet. Each climb is rewarded with a fast, swoopy roller coaster descent. And every couple of miles the path heads out onto the rim with exhilarating views of the Grand Canyon.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Exposing the problem

I don't know if this an effective way to bring about change, but you have to give them credit for their creativity and having the balls to do something. I couldn't find any photos.

From UPI

Mexico cyclists streak the capital
MEXICO CITY, June 13 (UPI) -- Cyclists rode through Mexico City in the buff to
protest increasing car traffic.
About two dozen cyclists sped through the congested streets of one of the
world's largest cities with the slogan "respect bike riders" painted on their
bodies Saturday, El Universal reported.
The demonstrators said they had to take extreme measures to address the
pollution problem in the capital and to prompt motorists to respect cyclists
and the few bike lanes in Mexico City.

Monday, June 12, 2006


I'm testing out using YouTube to post videos.

Here's a glimpse of the intersection of bike culture & cafe culture from the Summer of 2004.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Doing the laundry

Thor is now walking all over the place. He loves to push buttons, whether they're on the phone, TV remote, or in the laundry room.

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.