Sunday, November 23, 2014


I've been spending my mornings before work raking leaves off the trail at WYCO.  It's nice to be able to set tires on dirt and to be able to see the (formerly) underlying obstructions but most importantly I'm knocking down the leaf berms.  This winter when it snows, the melt will shed off on the clean trail and it'll be a couple of days before it's ridable rather than a couple of weeks.

I hope to finish this weekend- oh, my weekend is Monday/Tuesday- so I can ride it after that.

I have had several people stop and thank me for the work I'm doing.  They think I'm a Trail Mason.  I tell them I'm just an interested party making a contribution.  They don't realize it's a selfish endeavor.

The Trail Masons have created something great and it deserves a whole lotta love.

By Thanksgiving, WYCO will be primo and the most solid ride in town.

Thanks Cliff and Joe and all those who've contributed to this masterpiece.  I hope you don't mind me touching it up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

To put a fine edge on things

I spent most of my day off reshaping and sharpening my pulaski.

It's the only pulaski I've ever owned and it's one of my favorite earthly possessions.  I remember buying it at the Ace Hardware in Manhattan because I wanted to touch up a few spots on Fancy Creek Trail.  What an amazing tool.  Thank you Ed Pulaski.

While I had the file and stone out, I put an edge on my spade as well.

It's great to have a sharp edge on a spade because the weight and driving force makes it a great tool to get through big roots with one cut.  I don't hone the edge on the spade- I only file it because it gets dinged pretty quickly anyway due to contact with rocks and all the other things you do with a spade.  But when it's sharp, and if you can find a giant vein of a root just under the surface of soft ground, when you plunge it in and divide the thing with one powerful plunge.. well, the feeling is like no other.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

4 Days in Arkansas

I just got back from 4 days in Arkansas.  Hobbs, Leatherwood, and Womble X2.  I felt like my toe was finally healed enough to go 100% (and I was right) and I thought it might be my last chance to get down there in a long time.

I think I've finally figured out the formula for a smooth Arkansas trip.  I drove directly to Hobbs and rode there the first afternoon, then stayed in Eureka the next two nights.

I spent all of Day 2 riding.  Started out at 8:30 am from my room at Sherwood Court (Awesome place!) and headed into town for a quick breakfast.  Then I rode out to Leatherwood and spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon on the trails.  After that I rode back through town to Sparky's for post-ride eats and drinks, finally returning to my room that night.

There is no better place for beer and burgers than Sparky's.  They have the best on-tap selection of beers including many local micros... and CHOCOLATE BEER!  And their salsa burgers are crazy good.

Days 3 and 4 were spent on Womble.  I'd originally planned to hit Vista on one day but decided I wanted to ride all of Womble instead.  That trail is a singletrack dreamland.  I did an out and back from the Fishing Village to Hwy 270 the first day and an out and back the other direction from North Lake towards Hwy 270 the second.  The trail was a little overgrown on the section from Hwy 270 to 94, but otherwise it was in great shape.  Beautiful.

There is a section of trail in the middle where it travels the south-facing slope.  I'd only ridden that section one other time- on the very 1st "Arkanthaw".  I remember taking a picture of Doug and Lyle on the exposure that day and it's also when Sweet Feet McCreavey came into being.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ranger--->Happy Camper--->Zombie Monkie

It sounds like a Widespread Panic setlist but it's not.  Yesterday, Will and I set off in kayaks in pursuit of the WyCo headwaters.  We found it and a whole lot more.  Did you know that when ducks take off they run across the water?

Problem solved.  The Curtlo MTB and I have only one disagreement:  BB height.

The Curtlo is about 3/4" lower than the Chester was and I've been chucking, chipping, and catching rocks and roots with my pedals.  I've been attentive about pedal position but I was still catching a few.  Before I rode yesterday I swapped out my 175mm cranks w/ some 170's.  Voila.  It was just enough extra clearance to give me the clearance I needed.  It's not much, but apparently it's enough.  I haven't noticed the decreased leverage b/c I'm still nursing a broken toe.  So yeah, add 170mm cranks to the list of freakshow items on this thing.  I don't care.  I'm just doing what works.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shadowy shadow

Ketchupy ketchup.

It is what it is.

MAH TOH!  I broke my toe again 2 weeks ago.  Finally rode yesterday and noticed this.

Same toe I broke in June.  Same toe I had pinned back together 10 years ago.  I've not been kind to that toe.

A smart young man by the name of Chris Moseler once asked me, "Do addicts get all the drugs they want in Heaven?"

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Home-crafted bike rack

I made a small fork-mount bike rack for the back of my car but I got tired of taking the front wheel off every time I went to the trail.  It works great for roadtrips b/c it keeps everything inside, but when I'm just driving 30 minutes to a trailhead it's kind of a PITA.  So, I made a receiver hitch rack.

Basic design- no arms to swing about or latches to work.  Just a tray w/ two tie-down points.  Solid.  Works.  It's all steel and it weighs just under 20 pounds so it's easy to load on the vehicle.  I spent $65 on it including the cost of a brand new set of tie-down straps.  I had Metal By The Foot make the tray for me.  They cut and bent it to my exact specifications.  The rest of it is hardware store stuff.  I spent a few hours at the drill press and grinder and, after some finish filing, bolted it all together and rattle-canned it.

It holds tight but I cut a tennis ball to fit over the handlebar just in case.  If testing goes well over the next few months I'll probably build a 2-bike rack of the same design.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New favorite album: Aha Shake Heartbreak-Youth & Young Manhood

That's two albums, but I've never listened to one without the other so I don't know where one ends and the other begins.

If you cried at the end of School of Rock then you know.

"I didn't hear the question, but the answer is music."
     -Gary David Eastep

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ozark Trail - Council Bluff Weekend

I could have titled this post: New Favorite Trail in Missouri outside of Kansas City.

Because I had a long weekend, I planned a little getaway down to Mark Twain Natl. Forest for some riding and paddling.  My plan was to spend 3 days and 2 nights at Council Bluff riding and paddling but my trip was truncated due to unending rain.  I didn't get a paddle in, but I got a couple of nice rides in regardless of the rain.  That's what I love about the Ozarks- rain or shine!

I got to Council Bluff in the afternoon and, after settling on a campsite, figured I had just enough time for one lap around the lake.  I'd ridden the CB Trail before including a couple of Bonebenders many years ago.  It's a beautiful trail.  It drizzled and misted the whole time I was riding but the trail handled it fine and it was actually quite nice.

I slept in the next day and prayed all morning for the steady drizzle to stop.  Finally at around noon, I figured it had let up as much as it would.  I took the trail out of the campsite and followed the connector to the Ozark Trail where I turned south and followed the Trace Creek section for a about 10 miles.  Beautiful.  Out-and-back rides are nice sometimes b/c you know exactly what you're in for.  What a great trail!  I want to go back soon and ride a lot more of the OT.

Friday, September 5, 2014

New favorite salsa: Lizano

I used to have Lizano on hand all the time when I lived in Manhattan.  I think I must have got it at the Asian food market on Colorado.  Anyway, I forget all about it until I saw it in Costa Rica.  It's like ketchup down there.  M got me a bottle the last time she was down there and I've realized how great this stuff is once again.

It's not hot.  It's sweet and spicy.  It's good on eggs and many other things.  Here's a recipe:

Cooked rice (warm), diced white onion (cool), and Lizano.  It's great.  Not sure of the nutritional value but it's cheap and filling.  And it goes great with green tea.

Monday, September 1, 2014

New favorite day to work: Labor Day

Double & half time X 16 = Chinnngg

Actually it's still not worth it.  Work in general is not worth it if we're talking about work in the job sense.  Work is good otherwise- like in the energy X mass thing or whatever it is.

Whatever it is, IT IS.

I think I'll buy a new bike frame.  Road.  Because life is too short to clammer around on a carbon frame.  I'm tempted to get another Curtlo, but 3?  I already have a cross and a mtb Curtlo.  The thought of it makes me feel uncomfortable.  Like when you meet a new friend and you go frogging and rock-skipping and stuff like that. And then you're like, Hey, you should come to my family reunion.  Then it gets wierd.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

New favorite route: Smithville


I've been doing a lot more riding lately.  I'm in a constant search for the least amount of traffic and intersections as possible.  The best route I've figured out is one that heads out north of my house and then east over to Smithville on KK.  Then out of Smithville towards the lake and back south.  Lots of beautiful rolling roads up there and not much traffic on weekdays.

I don't care much for long flat sections.  I'd rather be climbing or descending and this route is full of ups and downs.  IT IS, just like EVERYTHING.

Friday, August 29, 2014

New favorite drink: Green Tea

Arizona zero calorie Green Tea.


It's sweetened w/ honey.  I don't know what else they put in this stuff but I can't get enough of it.  I drink it in the morning.  I drink it at night.  I even get up out of bed to have a glass.  I'm buying it 2 gallons at a time!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New favorite song: Cowboy Dan

Cowboy Dan, by Modest Mouse.

Every time you think you're walking, you're just moving the ground.

I've had a bad couple of days at work and a good couple of days on the bike.  My favorite time to ride is an hour or so after a rain when the liquid is gone but the pavement is marked and the cracks and seams are all in HD.  I love passing over the dark and light pattern in many different ways.  It reminds me of a part somewhere in The Chronicles of Narnia where the children floated on and on and on until the sea became shallower and shallower until, eventually, patterns began to appear beneath and they became clearer and clearer.  Do you know the part I'm talking about?  It's one of my favorite parts.  Is it Prince Caspian that guides that ship?

I'm thinking seriously of making my way back to the Black Hills for some more riding.  There are many reasons for this but the most important one is: EVERYTHING IS.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Alkali Creek, Black Hills, SD

I just returned from a long weekend in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I had family obligations but I had a few days to play also.  I intended to ride a handful of trails but it rained nearly everyday and I ended up doing a lot more hiking than biking.  It has been a wet winter and spring in the Hills and everything is lush and green, so the hiking was magnificent.  It even sleeted up in the high elevations... and on the first day of summer!

The only trail I had a chance to ride was Alkali Creek near Sturgis.  Alkali Creek is part of the Centennial Trail System and I was told it is the best single section of the entire system.  It was spectacular.  I started at the Black Hills National Cemetery TH and rode toward Elk Creek.  This route starts with a long grinding climb that takes you up out of the valley and away from the interstate and into the Hills.  After you reach the first summit, it's all up and down through the Hills on beautiful singletrack.

The trail is between 4 and 5 thousand feet and I could feel the effects of the elevation on the climbs.  I had to adjust my climbing style:  much more seated tempo riding.  I rode as far as I thought I should and then turned around and rode back to the same TH.  Upon turning around, I was surprised at how much I'd been gaining elevation on the way out as it seemed like the up-and-downs were much more down on the way back.  The final downhill back into the valley was incredible.  It was about 20 minutes of all downhill singletrack- just holding on and carving all the way down!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

1X5 = AOK

I put the Curtlo together around a 1X5 drivetrain utilizing a vintage XT 7-speed thumb shifter and a slightly less-than-vintage D/A derailleur.  Mid-nineties stuff, when Shimano still made solid precision machinery.

I added a new chain, cogset, chainwheel, and cables and figured on a solid drivetrain but when I got everything together it didn't want to shift correctly in index mode.  It was like the spacing wasn't right, but I knew it was.  I fooled with it on several rides and finally gave up and left it in friction mode.  [I realize I've lost some of you here]

Well, I'm happy to report it is now working flawlessly in index mode.  On a recent pre-ride tune up I decided to give the index another shot.  I tuned it up on the stand and when I hit the trail it was spot on.  I guess it just needed a hundred miles or so of break-in.

So far, so good on the carbon rims.  Light and stiff are good qualities to have in rims and I'm sure they play no small part in the wonderful ride of the bike.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The most awesome guitar solo ever

Describing the feel of a certain bike can be like trying to describe the most awesome guitar solo ever.  It's impossible.  It's a futile endeavor, but we try.

My new Curtlo feels like that, so I won't try... well, just one point:  Soul.  It must have (a) soul- and it does.

There are precious few things on this planet that move me, stir me, appeal to me, and ultimately define me.  And like the most awesome guitar solo ever or my favorite new bike, those are things indescribable to others no matter how badly I want them to understand.  What does a banana smell like?  Phenomenological, you might say- well, I might say.  But I digress.  I said I wouldn't try, and I won't.

Just know that it sings to me.  It strikes a chord.  It rings a bell.  It floats my boat.  It blows up my skirt.  It curls my hair.  Think about what does that for you and you'll know how awesome it is.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Las Catalinas MTB Trail

While in Costa Rica, I had the pleasure of spending an action-packed day at Las Catalinas on Playa Danta.  Playa Danta is the name of the beach that was already there.  Las Catalinas is the name of a brand new town built there by a couple of lifestyle-focused Americans.  You park your car outside of town and walk in.  On your way in you'll pass by a sign that states their philosophy:  "This is a community designed for car-free living where people can live an active lifestyle and have fun".  I'm paraphrasing, but that's pretty much the point. There's a bar and restaurant on the beach and there are swings and ropes, hammocks, games, and even a slack line.  It's my kind of place.

We got there in the morning as the staff of Pura Vida Ride were setting out surf boards, kayaks, bikes, and other play things.  Pura Vida Ride is the local outfitter and they have all the supplies you need for a week's worth of fun in a little beach town set on the side of hills rising right out of the sea.  I was going to try to pack all of this fun into just one day.  Fortunately, Pura Vida Ride had a one-day all-you-can-eat special:  for $75, you can use any and all of the equipment they have on site from dawn to dusk.

I started out on a mountian bike.  I figured it would be nice to hit the trail while it was still relatively cool and get to the watersports later in the day.  They have a great selection of hardtails and full-sussies.  I ended up on a Cannondale 29er which turned out to be a great bike for these trails.  The trails are carved into the hillsides surrounding Las Catalinas and many of them take you out to points overlooking the ocean.  It's the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen from a bike.  The trails are well done- smooth and fast flowing with super wide bench cuts everywhere and some nice wooden bridges set into the terrain.  The only thing requiring you to brake are the countless lizards scurrying all over the trail.  It flows everywhere and the only hard part is trying to ride and take in all the beauty at the same time!

After my ride, I returned the bike and picked up a two-person kayak.  Michaela and I paddled out through the surf and into the deeper waters of the inlet where stingrays and fish of all sorts swim about.  We paddled up the coastline exploring rocky tide pools and took a rest on a secluded beach before heading back.  After a short siesta at the bar, I grabbed a SUP board and Michaela headed back to the beach.  I paddled about just beyond the breakers checking out all the sea life below me.  Then after a bit of surfing, I was finally exhausted.

The town of Las Catalinas is fully accessible to anyone during the day, but if you want to stay overnight you've got to have mounds of money.  So we headed to the Sugar Beach Resort just to the south of Las Catalinas.  Sugar Beach is even more beautiful than Playa Danta!  As I was thoroughly cooked- inside and out- we avoided the sun and water here until the next morning.  Instead, we watched the sun set from the open-air restaurant while enjoying Pina Coladas and a big plate of fresh fish.  That night, the howler monkeys sang their goodnight to us and the sound of crashing waves sent me into a deep sleep.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Costa Rica & Nicaragua

Costa Rica and Nicaragua were both incredible.  If you like fish, fruit, and nice people, you should go there.  If you mostly want to hear english and want stuff to be pretty then go to Costa Rica.  If you want bigger bolder adventures and don't mind a little grit, then it's Nicaragua.

Our hosts Fritz & Brigid put us up in there home above Playa Hermosa for our stay.  Hermosa means 'beautiful' and yes it is.  The people we met there were all so happy and quick to become our friends.

From Hermosa we explored the coastline as far as Playa Grande.  Grande has the big waves.  It also has the best tacos, made right on the beach in a hut.  My favorite beach was Playa Azucar, 'Sugar Beach'.  It was sweet.

Thanks to Mike for the great food, drink, and entertainment.  Thanks to the howler monkeys for waking us every morning.  And thanks to Gary for everything else!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cocaine Airstrip

Happy sun-shiny days are coming sooner than expected.  I'm going to the airfield that Ollie North built.  If I'm burned, poisoned, eaten, or drowned, so be it.  Full report whence I return from the jungle.  Howlin' Monkey out.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I shoveled the drive 4 times in the last day and a half.  I like shoveling snow.  I really like a good heavy snow storm.  It's an undeniable hindrance to everyday life and it forces adaptation, in however small way.  For most, it's something to be grumbled about.  But if you grasp it, you can revel in it and it becomes something awesome.

Happy Sun-shinny days will be here soon...

...but for now it's stockings, coveralls, gloves, sniffles, introspection, perception, appreciation, and warmth where you can find it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pig Sticker

Courtesy "A" Winter Wind Storm.  That is the official title of Sunday's wind storm, I guess.  I worked a 16 and my policy following storms is to reward myself for the anguish I endured using the overtime money I earned.  It makes me feel better.

I've wanted a Buck 119 for years.  It's an american classic.  6" blade.  $60.  Can't be beat.  I have been using an old BSA knife forever.  It's been a good knife but the blade is pitted and doesn't hold an edge and the stacked leather handle has fallen apart.  Also, I have been left wanting a little longer blade many times.

It's not fancy.  But fancy don't make the pigs squeal any louder.  Yeeee - haaaw!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Bike Carrier

Got a new transport vehicle for the new bike.  Picked it up today and went straight home and threw the kayak on it.  Will and I did some bird scatterin' and ice crashin' at WYCO today.  Beautiful day to be on the water.  Sun was out most of the time and we found some warmth out of the wind in some westside coves.  "Westside"... yeah.  Must have been about 2314 geese, 43 swans, and 1767 ducks on the water.  We tried to get along with them but we did scare up a few clouds.  It's an amazing site to watch a dozen or so swan take off, but the sound is indescribable.

Oh, it's a Nissan Xterra Pro4X.  That's right, PRO.  6 speed manual w/ 4 hi and lo.

Plan for tomorrow is to hit Swope before it thaws in the morning.  Finally ride the new bike!!!  I'm thinking 10ish???  Hopefully...

Huh, my car has more gears than my bike.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


The new Curtlo is complete.  A ride around the block told me everything is straight and solid.  A proper thrashing comes next weekend.

It's tight.  With a 40.3/4 inch wheelbase and 422mm chainstays, it should be a surgeon.  But you never know what kind of personality all the numbers equate to until the tires hit the dirt.  The build focus was "solid" and "nimble".  I told Doug what I wanted and he nailed it.  It makes me think of an F4U Corsair WWII fighter.

I used a lot of reassigned parts from my Cove Hooker, so that didn't help to keep weight down, but I don't really care.  Here's some specs:

OX Platinum frame w/ 44mm head tube and conventional BB
Profile BMX cranks w/ Tree spline drive 30t sprocket
5 speed cassette on a Hadley SS rear hub and a D/A derailleur
circa 1992 XT thumbie
Avid cable disc brakes
Chinese carbon "All Mountain" rims

Monday, January 6, 2014

Until It Gets Warm...

There's this:

Swrve Milwaukee jacket.  Awesome.  Get it at Volker Bikes.  I'm critical about things being engineered correctly, and this is.  Great fit, perfect cut, hood works, and double zips on the front and big pit vents with super sticky rubber grippies so you can operate w/ gloves on .  Haven't tested it in rain but it breathes surprisingly well for a "water and wind proof" garment.

Speaking of Milwaukee... There is a new deli/bar around 9th & Baltimore- might be 10th- called the Milwaukee.  Great food and great tap beer.  Velvet Rooster, Buffalo Sweat and other Tallgrass on tap!  Excellent mayonnaise.  Cool little place.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

More New Bike

This is a 30 tooth Tree steel V.2 spline-drive sprocket.  It's been sitting in a box along w/ a Profile racing outboard bearing set b/c I couldn't get the bearings to work in my MC frame.

I ended up using E.thirteen 15G cranks instead.  Spent the last 2 years trying to reconcile with those things but I could never get them to be quiet- they are the creakiest cranks I've ever owned.  Softer than I thought they'd be also.  Disappointed with those.  I'm looking forward to being back on tubular steel cranks.  Totally... tubular..!

Ringle Zuzu's and it's gonna be an all-out callout for full-on moto thrashin!