LV Group Ride

Alright, the GORC LV group ride went off without a hitch this past Saturday night. A group of about 20 people got together to have some fun while riding their bikes. We had a loosely organized Poker Run in store that saw people out riding anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours. Conditions were fair and I think everyone had a great time. I think the next one is already being planned, so stay tuned...

Those aren't Kirby's nipples glowing in the dark!

Here's The Pimp shredding the new section of Phase 2.

Izak towed the fuel, unfortunately it ran out too quickly.

The proud winners:

More Pics of happy bikers...

Lost Valley group ride

Hey all, this Saturday June 20th we are planning on having a group ride starting from the mound off of 94 hwy. Leave time is going to be somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30pm. Come out, you will be glad you did and richly rewarded.
If you are a card shark it could work in your favor. Also don't be surprised to see a B.O.B fairy yielding gifts on the trail.
Good times to be had!

Pictorial of SeaMonkey's May 2009

Since pictures say a lot and I don't have a lot to say, here's a blog entry on the cheap.

Here's my May/early June recap with editorial assistance courtesy of my new Michigan-purchased 20 year Dirt Rag anniversary pint glass filled to the tip with Bell's Amber Ale...

The view off my front porch along the Allenton Loop is mostly early in the morning, too often wet and almost always with the thought of "wish I was riding."

The monsoons of India have landed in Missouri and when I'm not cleaning up the Ozark Trail so others may ride and hike, I'm cutting grass and drinking beer - usually while cutting grass. The JD rider has a cup holder, gotta use it, ya know...

It's been a wet 2009 to say the least.

And since I've been breaking Paul's nuts on the hill climbs, the Lynskey is still non-operational. Not that it's broke, more like I'm lazy and busy. Mostly lazy. Paul's rear hub with a conversion axle has two hollow aluminum nuts and the drive-side can't take the heat. Paul knows - he gave me 4 this go 'round.

Since global warming means more wetness in St. Louis I've been in this hell working on the GORC site, reading up on other people riding in awesome western states and inputting work invoices that never seem to end. The GORC site lives on the right-side laptop. Notice that it is not on. Work is busy.

I've relegated the old Fujeye to city ghetto spins on the Riverfront Trail. It's been good to me for 7+ years but I got upgrade my ride sometimes, ya know. The hubs were - are - still - crunchy with sand and glass and the BB is played but it gets me from A to B when I'm in the city.

With all the rain, post-workday daylight singletrack drive time issues I've been enjoying the hell out of my new road jet. It may not be pedigree but it's light, fast and left me money in the checking account. I've been getting to know the Allenton Loop quite well - 600 climbing feet per lap 7 miles flat - hurt kitchen.

But I don't get to ride it nearly as much as I'd like. It is a good base keeper, though. The chip-n-seal Loop lets you know if you are slacking. Very quickly.

That's my May. Here's to more singletrack and GORC rides in the latter half of June.

Poker Burner this Saturday at Lost Valley 7PM. Be there.

Never invest your money in anything that eats or needs repairing. - Billy Rose

I don't really remember much about Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" and I'm pretty sure my bike wasn't mentioned in it, but it probably should have been. Yeah, so maybe I've packed on a little beer weight lately. Perhaps so much so that if my ride of choice had been a horse (*scoff!*) he would have Christopher Reeve'd me long ago and trotted off into the muddy, post-holed sunset (and left big piles of fly-covered poop all over said sunset scene, but I digress). Instead my favored steed has been a much-loved ("tough-love", that is), somewhat-aged Turner Burner... and it'd apparently had enough and died while JRA at Castlewood... an unceremonius death by metal fatigue.

Such is life, I guess. Crap happens and things break. I should probably spend more time fishing and less time smashing my mountain bike. No biggie. Turner offers a significant customer loyalty discount on new frames so it's really just a matter of choosing which sweet new model I want, right?

Well, yeah, maybe not so much. Turns out Dave Turner has been keeping up with the Joneses and the Joneses have been living large. Like $2400- for- a- frame large. Wow. I'm all for supporting American craftsmen (especially since I'm buddies with some out-of-work American welders and CNC machinists) but holy crap! My loyalty started to waver at the prospect of plunking down more bucks for a bike frame than my car is worth. Maybe something more plebeian would be in order for a man of my financial stature (or lack thereof)... like a used Surly. Or another rusty Redline. There may be champagne wishes and caviar dreams here but, truth be told, I'm on a beer-budget (in the literal and metaphorical senses).

After much gnashing of teeth and beating of man-breast(s) and like 50-zillion consolation beers I opted that I should stick with the company that had sold me a good product in the past (Turner), and provided excellent support when I called them for advice (Turner), and were employing American welders that most likely were bike nerds like my friends (Turner)... so I sucked it up and did the right thing. I called Turner...

...'s warranty department (guy) and got all pathetic on him. Like "Boo-hoo, woe is me, nothing to left to live for" pathetic. He had pity on me and scrounged up a lightly used front triangle to help me out. A few phone calls, some pleading, several hundred dollars later, there's a practically new Flux front triangle at my doorstep. I think the warranty guy's name was "Greg". He rules. Seriously. He didn't know me from Adam, but since I was a prior customer he definitely took care of me. Huge props.

So, my brand loyalty and grovelling pay off. I rob a few parts from the deceased Burner to get my old POS SS running again in the meantime, order some new parts and tools, and wait for a rainy day to Steve Austin-ize the mangled remains of my fav ride. Next free day I decide to sneak in a quick ride and, just to keep things interesting for me, the seatpost head on the SS promptly blows the hell up for no apparent reason (I'm self-consciously sucking in my "Dunlap" as I type that) and it's one of those not-so- easy-to-find sizes like 26 point -0- and six-and-seven-eighths or something. But whatever, crap breaks... it's definitely not the end of the world or anything. I knew I should've just gone fishing instead of pushing my luck with bikes.

Long story longer; the planets align on a rainy day off from work, I make a sick-strong pot of coffee, load an all speed/death metal playlist into the iPod and sequester mystelf to the basement to Frankenstein this bike back to life... assuming one can use "Frankenstein" as a verb. As a service to the casual reader, I should of course truncate the text here, favoring a 80's TV-style video and music montage to depict the frenzied flurry of over-torqued bolts, splintered carbon, and the comic-relief imagery of my dangling iPod headphone cord being drawn rapidly into my rotating cranks and rings with my head in tow (music choices range from the "Yakkity Sax" of Benny Hill's chase scenes to the inspirational snare drum and brass "A-Team Theme"... both somewhat fitting in their own regard).

After laying waste to my eardrums and mangling my knuckles for the better part of the morning, the trailing shuck of the donor Burner had been cast aside and the salvageable bits grafted to the Flux. Flashing well forward through a series of sodden days that relegated me to road riding on a Guerciotti that Karl Becker had infused some new SS life into (sparing it from the dumpster), things outside eventually desiccate enough to take the new bike for a spin. (I must add in the interest of complete disclosure that on one of the aforementioned road rides I did manage to fire one of the chainring bolts from the Guerciotti sharply due north while westbound on Arsenal approaching Sublette during some high-torque, fat-guy-mashing-on-the-pedals-style climbing... so if someone finds an injured Italian-American with a ring-shaped wound on 'em or should you or someone you know receive a heaping bowl of Cunetto's pasta with a malformed bit of threaded metal in it, we may presume who might be culpable).

Turns out, "Frankenstein" can really hold her own on GORC dirt. The Fox suspension is really impressive. The bike has enough heft to feel substatntial on descents, very unlike my old aluminum hardtail + SIDxc (a combination that rivalled a thoroughly cooked ramen noodle for stiffness) and enough giddyup to scoot me up some of my favorite climbs. As with any bikes I build, there are some nuances present... nuances that make "click"ing sounds although they are frequently drowned out by the biologically generated "clicks" and "pops" of my knees and vertebrae... (combined with the racket I make struggling for air, I'd imagine that I sound somewhat akin to an obscene phone caller being pursued by a meth-crazed castanet player... or a reasonable facsimile thereof).

Duly impressed with my new orange beastie, we continue to thrash dirt as the vagaries of spring weather allow, clicking, popping and panting all the while. If NPR's Car Talk has taught me anything, it's that 'if your ride's making a racket, turn up the stereo'. And largely, that strategy works for me, save for the day that finds my first downhill application of the rear brake punctuated with a profound squealy-then-crunchy sound that muscles its way past the din of my iPod. Something was definitely rotten in Denmark... if "Denmark" is my back hub and "rotten" means that the frickin' rotor bolts have exploded out of frickin' "Denmark". Now that's a pretty convincing argument for me to drop some beer belly baggage... If "F=ma", my "m" can generate some serious effing "F", son.

The walk back to the car that included brief stints of low-speed cruising on flat roads with my rear rotor jangling freely about the hub gave me ample opportunity to ponder how I've neglected my instinct to do more fly fishing and give the bike a rest... I mean, clearly the bike has been sending me a message (and the message is most likely "Get off of me, you fat jerk.")


Not one to ignore my instincts (*scoff again*!), Frankie lies is blissful but temporary repose in the basement while I take a fishing field day. To sweeten the deal, I'd saved my pennies long enough to have recently netted myself a new Imperial rod festooned with a smooth and lightweight Ross reel. Waiting for its chance to shine, I think it had been telepathically contacting me from my back room for months while I wrenched and wrecked bicycles, whispering "hey, Dummie, let's go fishing... bikes are for dorks". And, honestly, when that day arrived it was pretty grand; ...big, energetic sunfish awash in spawning colors and pot-bellied bass taking advantage of the sunfishes' preoccupation with gettin' freaky, and neither cognizant enough to mind me prowling the lake in a belly boat, picking them off one by one.

The new rod punched poppers straight through a wind stiff enough to push my floating watercraft around. It would lift great lengths of sinking fly line up from the depths and turn over waterlogged streamers with only minimal effort on my part. It's feathery weight allowed for hours of fatigue-free casting. Best off all, the tip was sensitive enough to telegraph subtle takes as I dredged the deep with sinking flies yet had ample enough backbone to steer hooked fish back to the bellyboat and away from snags.

What it couldn't do was float.

A fish that warranted a photo was brought onto the stripping apron of my bobbing belly boat and in a fleeting moment of inattention, the Imperial must have slipped away from me. I received the last of her telepathic transmissions shortly thereafter as she sank to the bottom of the lake... it sounded like "blub, blub, blub... you asshole... blub, blub, blub..."


All things considered, despite what appears to be series of whiny sob stories from me, I think what really matters is that I'm actually quite happy and thankful just to have so many opportunities to go out and smash, mangle, ruin and lose things.

It's just stuff anyway.

...(although, if anyone would like to lend me some money for some new "just stuff", that would be pretty rad...)

North Trace Cleared (again)

This is sounding like a broken record. This past weekend GORC members helped with the cleanup of the Ozark Trail after the May 8th storms which downed an estimated 3000 trees, and left nearly 80 miles of trail closed. The Ozark Trail Association has come up with a plan which should have the trail from Onondaga Cave at the beginning of the Courtois section, to Barton Fen, midway on the Middle Fork Section, and everything in between, including the Council Bluff Lake area, open by the end of June. These are some of the most popular sections of the trail for mountain bikers, so a great deal of thanks is due to the OTA, and particularly its sawyers for all of the hard work.

While our role was fairly small in comparison, GORC decided to say thanks by doing something, rather than just talking or typing. On May 21st, Glenn Meyer and Kent Kopplin, both GORC members and OTA sawyers, cleared over 20 trees over the 1.5 mile stretch between Council Bluff Lake and Hwy DD. Matt Hayes, Lisa Troehler, John Twist, Bryan Adams, Jeff Ripplemeyer, and myself then cleared the remaining 12 miles of trail between DD and Hazel Creek of about 30 trees. Now 50 trees may not be a lot in comparison to sections that may have as many as 50-100 blowdowns per mile, but we see it as allowing other crews to concentrate on areas which sustained heavier damage, rather than having to worry about a longer, more spread out section like North Trace which wasn't hit nearly as hard.

This wasn't one of the easiest sawyer runs by any means. 30 trees has been a typical number for recent visits, but this time, in addition to the usual dead or sick ones, there was a mix of older, mature trees that were toppled at the roots, and trees which were carried on to the trail by the tremendous water that was rushing through Trace Creek.

Hopefully, this terrible storm will serve some useful purpose in helping people who use the Ozark Trail understand just how much time people actually volunteer to keep such a valuable resource available for use by all. Without them, this trail might have been as good as closed for many years. In fact, parts of it may still be closed for up to a year. Show your appreciation by doing something. Get involved with the OTA, or GORC and help build new trails and keep our current ones open, and in great shape.

Pictorial of the 2009 Midwest Mountain Bike Summit

The Summit, held in Grand Rapids, Michigan this year offered fast, swoopy, sandy, bermed n' buff trails. The Summit/Festival will be held there again next year so you got another chance to ride some great rollercoaster-like trail systems. Here's the SummitFest in pictures...

Mike Dunston, trail armoring guru

Lisa riding the Cannonsburg SGA

The main Summit Strip featuring Dirt Rag, Specialized, Trek, SRAM, Scott and others

Mike Dunston of GORC along with several members demonstrating the art of trail armoring. This was put to the test immediately with a downhill race! The drop got downhillers across the XC course.

Many people watched as GORC meticulously built the rock launch pad.

The Cannonsburg Ski Resort features an advanced skills area with substantial drops, skinnies, jumps, teeters and doubles. Impressive!

Midwest Mountain Bike Summit Recap

Another Midwest Mountain Bike Festival has come and gone. Hands down, this one gets the crown for best beer, with a choice of fine brews from Founders, Arcadia and Bell's. The welcome party got started Thursday night with the roasting of a 137 lb pig, and some other very nice food, complemented by a keg of Founders Double Trouble and another of their Pale Ale. Very nice indeed.

Friday morning, the Advocacy portion began bright and early at 9am, at least for those who had not indulged too much in the Double Trouble! I attended talks from the IMBA Trail Care Crew, and a very interesting one from a representative of a philanthropic foundation that awards grants to worthy causes. There was some very interesting stuff about dealing with club dynamics, and things to be aware of when searching out prospective sources of grant money.

After lunch Ryan from IMBA gave a talk about one of their newest programs- Gateway Parks, which are accessible trails located in urban areas that allow riding opportunities for beginner and advanced riders alike-- something we hope to implement at Creve Coeur Park.

That afternoon we traveled to a trail called Yankee Springs, which was further away than the 3 parks which were the main focus of the Festival, and enjoyed a nice 13 mile ride on some twisty, sandy singletrack that traversed a lot of different types of terrain, from swamp to pine forest, to a hollowed out glacial depression called the Devil's Soup Bowl (in which bikes weren't permitted).

For us, Saturday got started with Mike Dunston leading an armoring workshop in which we armored a section that had been a problem area for the WMMBA. It was especially interesting because it was a drop that was going to be used in the downhill race that was going to be held that afternoon, and the riders wanted to practice before it. This left us working under a bit of a deadline, but we managed to get it done so they had about 90 minutes to check it out. We were happy with the result, but it may have been a little too smooth for the liking of some of the racers.

After that we rode the 3 parks that were the main ones for the Fest: Cannonsburg Ski Area (5.5 miles), C-burg State Game Area (7.2 miles), and Luton Park (6.5 miles). All 3 trails were pretty different with the ski area trails winding back and forth up on the hills, the SGA being pretty much flat where you could rocket around the curvy trail which had lots of blind corners because of thick vegetation, and Luton being sort of a cross between them with very tight trail and a little more elevation change. All were good fun. The ski area was also home to a Skills Park that was the real deal. I can't venture to say how high the largest drop was, but well over 10' for sure. There were a lot of wooden structures, and it was interesting to talk to Jason, the Skills Area Coordinator, to hear about what what went into their construction.

We skipped the epic ride on Sunday since it was over the same 3 trails and instead rode at another park called Edwards Creek. This proved to be my favorite trail out of everything I rode there, consisting of 7.5 miles of trail densely packed into a very small area in which the trail was constantly doubling, and even tripling back on itself. There were many wooden structures, stream crossings, logs, culverts, teeters, berms, and lots of alternate lines constructed with material that they seem to have found laying around the site. This was something that we don't have around here, but hopefully we will be able to do somewhere soon.

All in all, it was a very good time, and the WMMBA clearly put a lot of hard work into the Festival. If you didn't attend this year and have an interest in seeing how another club makes use of the terrain and resources they have available to them, riding good trails, drinking great beer, and perhaps even jumping your bike off or over stuff, you should consider going next year, because it will be in Grand Rapids for another year. Lots of photos are here.