Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sign here please...

Let's say you own a business, say Black Bear Burritos; Outdoor Adventures; or a physical therapy practice,......, and I came into your shop with a clipboard and said"...hey, would you like to have more wilderness and nature in our country, and cleaner air and water, and healthier plants and animals? Cool, sign here please" Who wouldn't say yes to that? Look at all these folks who did. Look at all the health professionals supporting more Wilderness. How many of those folks signing that understood the ban on bicycles, and no ban on horses, skis, or guns?

This is what we're up against. Regardless of right or wrong, regardless of whether an act written in 1964 should control where someone can ride a bicycle 50 years later, this is the way the fight is playing out. The current congress people don't know all about this act, they don't necessarily understand the term "mechanized" and what it includes and doesn't include. But what they do understand is numbers, and big numbers of signatures get their attention. This is the movement that is underway. We can already see how others have their game face on. The West Virginia fight was nearly over before bikers even saw the card. The last ditch phone and e-mail flurry many of us took last Spring resulted in the saving of Spruce Knob/Seneca Creek, but we lost Dolly Sods.

Environmental law groups are picking apart the Forest Service's own policies and federal laws and telling the Forest Service how to do their own job. And they are usually right. Do we mountain bikers have anyone who will be doing the same in our corner?

We should not be complacent in waiting for the comment periods, and taking the public civility of the W advocates in the meetings as a sign that we are seated fairly at the table. I don't think we really are. The W's are already working behind the scenes, with Congress, while we're writing letters to the FS Superintendent.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

what's next

Now that the pump track is fun & done, you might see a few more topics on this stuff on this page for a while. Feel free to tune out if you like.....

The George Washington National Forest Plan Revision process is beginning again, and it's another battle with Wilderness advocates, as well as a new major player in our public lands, Wind.

I like wilderness, but not Wilderness. I try to spend as much of my personal time as possible in wilderness settings, on a bike, on skis, and even surfing. I fully appreciate protected areas and resources, like National Forests & Parks, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge etc. Those are all wilderness places, but not Wilderness places. The difference between the protected GW National Forest, and the unprotected Michaux State Forest is night & day (but this is another discussion...). I consider the GWNF well protected, but serious and new threats loom.

Check out some of the preliminary comments submitted to the FS so far. Official comment period is still months away, but many groups are already seriously on this in a big way. Read the incredible (and very long) letter by the Friends of Pendleton County. Remember that old guy who used to come to the Wild 100s and promote the Gnarly North Fork? I wonder if he's involved in this? Read also the letter from the Hang Gliders and Paragliders organization. What do you think 200' wind tubines will do to their sport? Most of the comments are pro-wilderness, anti-wind, and pro-species. I found the word "bike" only one time in all those pages, and it wasn't even from a mountain biker, though the writer was at least throwing us a bone in the Sherando area.

The meeting section of GWNF website

I like the idea of wind energy as part of our global future, but I don't like the idea of using our public lands for it. At this stage of the game, utility scale wind energy production is barely profitable for the energy companies despite large subsidies. Wind also contributes very little to the grid, and has not replaced any coal-fired power plants. It may in time, but I wonder if the future of wind energy lies more in small wind. Small wind is defined as smaller turbines used on ranches, farms, and by townships and counties. Small wind is generally located on private land.

I'm not anti-wind, in fact, I'm very interested in the GIS side of the alternative energy industry and would even consider hitching my own future to it in some way. But the current way that wind energy is controlled by subsidies and large energy companies like Dominion, Allegheny, etc. indicates that it's no different from the oil and coal industries right now. And their target, for cheap windy land, is our National Forest ridge tops.

If you read the hang gliders concerns, you know that they consider the whole Massanutten ridge as a unique national resource. Those ridges were listed as potential for wind development. If you've ever ridden your bike on those ridges, you know that that idea is ludicrous. You know how narrow those ridges are. Can you imagine the disturbance needed to construct the roads to carry those long turbine double-trailers; and the huge cranes needed to lift the turbines; and the huge flat spot that would need to be created to hold the concrete pad for each turbine?

Look at the marginal ratings for utilty scale wind on the Mass. ridges. Note the higher potential in Shenandoah Nat'l Park, and west on the North Fork and North Mountain ridges. Look out Wolf Gap area....

Note how much more utility scale wind potential there is in the coastal region. Look at the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James river basins compared to the ridgetops of Massanutten and Great North mountains.
The National Renewable Energy Lab's GIS app
Wind Powering America (wind research, mostly pro-wind)
Anti-wind in Pennsylvania

I'll be sending in my comments and stories to the GWNF Supervisor Hyzer. They will be pro-bike, pro-Scenic Area, and anti-wind.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Thank you Ben Blitch

I hardly know what to say about this guy.
This guy, who is only 28 years old,
who has so much background, experience, energy, skills, talents,
he's been everywhere, can relate with anyone,
lawyers, councilmen, firemen, dirt jumpers, racers, landscapers, skaters, managers, kids, laborers.
Ben is in this game for so many reasons, and they're not all about bikes. If you're lucky enough to hear his presentation at the upcoming National Trails Symposium, you'll get a good idea of what he's all about. If you get a chance to ride a trail he's worked on, you'll get an idea.

THANK YOU BEN! I hope to work with you again soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The real posts on the track are over here for the week.

Some personal observations:
It is really waaay harder to ride a pump track than I thought it would be. If I'd known how hard it would be, I'm not so sure I would've pursued this. A couple laps totally wears you out, and you come off the track breathing like you just powered a time trial. The legs do get worked, much to my surprise.

Our track is still totally soft, and hasn't yet had a drop of water, but it's still ridable on a bike with no chain. Tim keeps busting his chain somehow, and he was able to ride 11 laps without a chain. This means our track is very well designed and built thanks to Ben.

One of our Town Councilman, the one most interested in our track, and the man most responsible for getting our rail-trail built years ago comes by each day on his morning walk, and again each evening on his Harley. Tonight, he got off his Harley with a big smile, saw about 25 kids, parents, and adult mtn bikers around, and said "...this is not big enough......we need to cut that bank there down, and expand down into there.....".

People are showing up out of woodwork. There's a guy who won the 1999 Cycle Messenger World Championship bunny-hop competition. He now lives here, and talks about starting a Trips for Kids program where he'll bring city kids here to ride the track. He's trying to beat Ben in who can first gap the backside's berm-double roller-berm combo.

There are a couple kids who can manual the block, and only quit because of the stop sign at the bottom of the hill. Hopefully some decent video to come of them. Other kids can whip 360's and J-hop about 4 feet high. None of them had ridden a pump track before either, and some of them are killing it.
I'm pretty surprised about all the interest and support. Seems every other local is too. The only person who doesn't seem at all surprised, is Ben.

folks should start finding an excuse to get to Chambersburg for a few hours.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 1

I'll be bloggin' over here for the week of the pump track build.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Yea, that's what the Outlaw talks his friends into, like Jay here, all smiles at Totem Pole. Joe also convinced one Big Dog to partake as well.

This group and I rode the Michaux portion with them to Mackey Run, and then we turned back to home. Joe and I have been talking about this and the route and trails for over a year, with all the trails planned out. So, I monkey wrench their gig, and stash a 7-pack of Dales Pale at the Rattlesnake Run Rd. creek crossing, Travis shows up, we squash all the cans, and then we start up Sucker Punch. This was a completely un-discussed, non-vetted singletrack climb, that really slowed us down, and lived up to it's name. Thoroughly softened up, we make our way to Mackey Run and bid the thru-bikers adieu.

My first time back on Mackey since the winter, and it was a killer. Hard to believe Travis has cleaned every section there. I'm gonna hit that a lot this winter. Wore us all out hard enough that we took mostly roads to get back in 6.5 hours.

This mossy lounge was Donna's favorite part of Mackey.

As I type this, I'm not positive the intrepid trio made it back to Fredrock yet. I know I probably sabotaged their ride with the beer stop and gut punch trail additions. Or maybe they ran into some political troubles skirting around Camp David?

As tough as their and our day was, hey, it ain't as dangerous as cyclocross.

Friday, September 05, 2008


I like this shot of Dominic,
the safety plate
the wheelie finish
the drop bars
the fixed gear

I believe he and his buddy Carney will be adding their names to the list next year

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


pic from the flood year, swiped from

Year --------- time
1999 ---------12:10
2000 ---------11:00--------(the flood year with the different course)
2001 ---------10:35
2002 ---------12:26---------(still sick stomach from TransRockies)
2003 ---------9:58----------(first year on single speed)
2004 ---------10:42
2005 ---------10:21
2006 ---------10:53
2007 ---------11:05
2008 ---------12:09
2009 --------- 11:04
2010 ---------12:39 -------(geared, chainring fun)
2011 --------- 11:45 ------ (back on the SS)

Monday, September 01, 2008

test ride

Checked out the pump track in Harrisonburg on the way into the Shenandoah 100. Was pretty fun, a little tough to ride on my 29er, but still doable. This looks to be a little bit bigger than the one slated for Chambersburg, and they have plans to build some new larger tracks at the same park.

The 100-mile test ride with the new Honkin' Bar went pretty well, though it was my slowest 100 in many years. Probably can't blame that on the bars. Maybe on the prior evening's Stage 1 of the rockstar. All these years of doing the 100s and watching fellow competitors have shown me the importance of a strong performance on Saturday night. I knew that at my current speed level, my best chance for a leaders jersey would be after stage 1. So I went for it, and found myself still at the pavilion, hours after the other 1000-milers, the cupcake/philly contingent, and the WV Night Club all went to their tents. Before long, I looked around and noticed that there was no one still up except for volunteers, Young Matthew, and me. Matthew was going strong and sucking up years of insider info from the graybeard, preparing to throw it down tomorrow in his first Shenandoah.

Awake happy with the bullhorn and the gong and proceed to do basically,.... nothing for the next hour. Didn't need, or want to eat too much, just needed some hydration and basic digestible fuel to get me 31 miles to AS-2. Fruit, yogurt, figs, the breakfast of rockstars. Cut to 06:27, the back of a green Subaru in dawn's low light, dinky headlight, searching for the right items for my Camelback. Tubes, pump, CO2, NUUN tablets check, but where are my tools?? D@mn, I still gotta hit the porta and get my ass on the line in 3 minutes.

Started at the back of the pack with fellow1000-milers Quigley and Riggin. Yea, was hoping for a special call-up for us, or maybe a 1000-second head start or something. We hang at the back long after the leaders have probably hit the bridge. I think someone had time to go get a cup of coffee..... No biggy, my buddy Albert was back there with us, and a few other friends who would figure prominently in the enjoyment of my day were still back at their campsite trying to get ready.

I can tell going up Narrowback that I am not in my usual crowd. I can really tell that when we hit the first 10 yards of trail and about 6 people immediately jump off their bikes. It used to be my strategy at my first few long races to start in the back, and try to pass people all day to the finish. With now 500+ people doing these things, that strategy doesn't work so well. Sure, I didn't exactly blow up like I have a few other years (where I actually did start near the front and tried to hang), but everything all the way up Lynn and down Wolfe took longer with a long slow train ahead of me.

I rode a jackhammer all the way down Wolfe. The Honkin' Bar is stiff alright. I guess the people that buy this bar usually ride 8" travel bikes. But if this seems so stiff, then the last 3 bars I've had on my bike must be way flexy. I don't know if flexy is what I desire in an aluminum bar. Too much pressure in the front tire and that bar made for a rattling, cautious descent. I'm thinkin', I still have 80 more miles to see if I like this handlebar... I let some air out of the front tire at the base of the first Hankey climb and the Dowell's descent was much nicer.

I never got a chance to test the log-hopping ability of the Honkin' Bar. The logs, including Nick's facial log, were all cut out. There wasn't another log to hop for the rest of the race, nor any real reason to have to lift the front end. So unlike Michaux, where you're lifting your front wheel 10 times/minute. There was one log though, I guess a tree fell on the course overnight, it was on the way to Braleys I think. It was a little higher than my comfort range, but I was antsy and hadn't been able to hop anything all day and wanted to test out the bar. It was an elevated leaner, higher on one side than the other. A friend riding in front of me stopped to walk over the low side, I called out that I was gonna give it a go, and he let me have a quick look at the high side. I gave it shot, but was too fatigued to clean it. So, 0-1 on log attempts on this way stiffy bar. The Honkin' Bar loses a few more points.

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful for me, not a lot of excitement back there, other than riding with Young Matthew and Carney. Chris pulled me around all day, and I hung with him as long as I could until his dot got smaller on the way to Little Bald. Last year he was about 10 minutes in front of me, and his buddy Dominic was right behind me. Two years ago I finished right behind Chris. Seems like Chris and I were both slummin a bit, about an hour off our usual pace, with several rest breaks thrown in there.

AS 5 goodies, didn't need any of it

Each year, I try to make sure I have enough gas to ride Hankey the second time. Passing people there makes me happy, and I savor the minor victories nowadays. Rolled in around 12 hours, which was about 2 hours later than Kim was expecting me. She was forced to listen to friends wondering what's wrong, and had begun to get concerned for the tired old 10-timer.

Classy Chris has a plaque for the 1000 Mile Hall of Fame club, and our names will be the first four on the plaque. Yours could be next. So, will there be an 11th for me? Will I be like the aging and ineffective Cal Ripken just riding out the streak until the band finally snaps? Or do I possibly have one more .300 season in me? Two days later my answer is of course, yes, I'll be back for more, and was thinking an awful lot about this during the race. Could be a new era for me. I certainly question whether I can (or want to) do 10 more of these with only one gear. Maybe I should test ride it before next September.

Congrats to the fast folks, and to all who've finished this great race. And thank you Chris Scott for providing 10 years of these experiences. You'll probably never really know how important your races are to us regular riders.