Friday, April 29, 2011

What 10 Yards Of Dirt Looks Like

I had a fair idea, but wasn't exactly positive.  Coupla wheelbarrows, then.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bermage. Bikeage.

More about bermage in a moment.  But first, a word about bikeage.

Couple or three weeks ago, I was shopping around for a pump track bike.  Even though I didn't have a track or even a workable plan for one.  Let us call it research.  Among the shops I dropped into was Wheel Sport East and as fate would have it, I was helped out by Jake.

I didn't have a clue at the time, but Jake is apparently a badass downhiller, who raced in the Pro category at the most recent version of Double Down Hoe Down a few weeks ago.  But what he did mention is that he rides a pump track.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

When he first approached me, he asked what I was looking for.

"Whaddya got in the way of pump track bikes?", says overweight, middle-aged me.

"For who?", says he.

"For me", says me.

Summoning every ounce of restraint in his character, Jake kept a straight face and walked me over to the dirt jump bike section.  And at that moment, it was immediately apparent that I was dealing with a true bike shop professional.

But it got better.  As we talked, it was obvious that Jake had pretty massive firsthand experience with building and riding a pump track.  And that he was willing to share it with me.  He was super laid-back about it, but I just totally understood that he knew exactly what in the hell he was talking about.  And what he told me that what I should get is a Specialized P.1.  Why? Read on.

What's typically used for riding pump tracks are either 20" wheeled BMX bikes . . .

. . . or 26" wheeled dirt jump (DJ) bikes . . .

Both are funny-looking bastards, but no way in hell I'm swinging a leg over a BMX machine and I don't even wanna talk about it.  So that helped narrow things down.

Almost all dirt jump bikes have suspension forks.  Maybe sprung forks help with dirt jumping, I don't really know.  Anyway, Jake walked without hesitation, directly to the rigid fork P.1.  He said it's the fastest way around a PT and that if that was all I was doing (which I told him it was), there wasn't even anything to think about.  And the engineer within agreed - if you want to transfer the maximum energy to the track, you don't need no moosh.  In technical terms.

I left the shop and then there were a few agonizing days of almost pulling the trigger and going back to buy the bike that I don't know if I'll ever use, only to be talked out of it by myself at the last minute, and then finally, I visited Mr McBurns, and then all hope was forever lost and I caved.

Goofy-looking piece of hardware, I know.  Except that it's totally sexy.  Except unless you dig that particular type of skid mark, in which case you are a freak.

One last thing about Jake before we move on to bermage.  He spent a chunk of his day off today helping me out with pump track stuff.  The details are another something that it's none of my business talking about on the internet, but suffice to say that between Mr McBurns (also Jake) and (Wheelsport East) Jake's help, I'm totally confident about how to move forward.  Which was totally not the case just a few days ago.  Huge thanks to both Jakes.  You guys are rad.

Bermage, then.

John planted this sinister pump track seed in my head and he is who I will blame when spending every spare moment building it leads to the failure of my marriage.  But to his credit, he is over here every night busting ass on the end of a shovel, or rake, or that torturous contraption known as the tamper.  He and I are in different places about riding what little we've accomplished to construct - we're both extremely eager, but ever-impatient John is happy to make multiple passes through a muddy and far-from-pumpable berm, while fuss-budget Pat is holding out for something worthy of the skills he falsely envisions he posesses.

He looks fast here, but it could just be my krappy camera.  Your call.

Neither of us is right, it's just a difference of style.  I can't wait until we're taking turns hammering around this completed rectangle:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hundred 'N Four Fever

Today I bought this cordless sawzall, so that I don't have to f'ck with the rip-your-hair-out mess of multiple extension cords necessary to run the regular sawzall across the yard, for cutting that lone root in the path of the track that's too big to cut with a pick axe.  Welcome to my world.

If you're not into this pump track business, then I'm surely just a coupla posts away from losing you, at the very most. If you need to go, I understand and appreciate your past support and hope that we can reconnect at some point in the future. After I settle the hell back down. Big 'if', big 'when'.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

And So It Begins . . .

Mr McBurns invited me over today (thanks John and Glen, for the intro) to check out his pump track.  And then ride it.  I needed that like a hole in the head.  I know I shouldn't be saying this on Easter, but holy hell.  I came home amped out of my mind.  You can learn a fair amount on the web, but eventually you need to see the real deal in person and when you do, well, it messes you up big.

We talked all about dump trucks full of dirt and bobcats and elevation changes and radii and bump spacing and much other nerd shit.  I talked about my idea to start now and build as I go, and he was down with that. He also told me I need a bike, like, yesterday.  The hills are alive with the sound of music.

Let me get ahead of you with your next question - there are no pictures, because you don't go over to someone's house who you are meeting for the first time and start taking pictures of their backyard and then go home and stick them on the internet.  But I came home with the conviction necessary to hurl myself off the cliff and so what I can offer you are some pics of the initial damage I did to my own back yard tonight.  Thanks once again to Mr Speare for egging me on.  And for the heavy lifting.

Shit.  I cannot believe it, I accidentally deleted the pictures I took tonight and was about to post, and I am not kidding.  I will go out and take one in the dark, just so you know I'm not some kind of joker.  Damnit.  Be right back.  Damnit.

Here it is.  Sucks, but here it is.  Damnit.

Anyway, it's a berm.  Coupla months ago, I was kind of looking for some inspriration, wondering what I was gonna be up to this year, bike-wise.  Guess I got it figured out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I'm deep into pump track research. Scary deep. In fact, I have some dirt that I'd like to start moving, but I'm kinda paralyzed by the amount of how-to information out there, and unable to settle on a design just yet. So I'm just building a pile, until I know where to put it.

The thing that amazes me is that for an activity that is so apparently subculture, how evolved it is in terms of the number of variations. And not really even defined in terms of subcategories. Just all these energetic people cutting the edge and pouring huge amounts of energy into their plans and shovels, all calling their creations basically the same thing. For instance, . . .

"backyard pumptrack" exhibit number one

"backyard pumptrack" exhibit number two

I'm finding that there is the rhythm aspect of pumping and then there is the air aspect, and I'm mostly interested in the rhythm part. That makes me lame and old, but in the end, it's my dirt, my labor, my track, and most importantly, my knees. So bite me, ye airborne youngters. I need your videos, though, so keep 'em coming.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Dreams Are Made Of

I'll be the first to admit: I'm a total deluded mess. This pump track thing. Oy. My mind's eye truly believes I can "shred", or "pin it", or "kill it", or something. Off the deep end would be a step back from where I'm at.

But since I'm already there, this is the bike I fancy . . .

No worthless gears or unfortunate front brake. None of that mushy, power-robbing gobbledy-gook garbage between the head tube and front axle, just plain cro-mo steel. Clean and mean. Massive direct transfer of flowing power! Layin down the pump, bro!!!

Feel free to laugh out loud, whatever. The world is full of critics. You can't even believe how many g's I'll be pulling. Then we'll find out who's laughing.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Cleaning

The pic of the dudes packing their bikes up the snowy hill is obviously so yesterday. But where to go from here. It will take a few days to get the new season's theme sorted out. In the meantime, don't be too alarmed. I would never subject you to that background on a permanent basis.  Just messin' with your head.
That was the mouse that made its way into my pannier and chowed down on the food I thought I'd secured on the first overnighter of last spring. 70% scared, 30% pissed.  Could be a little less scared, a little more pissed, I'll admit.  Sucker'll probably chew through my jugular while I'm sleeping at some point, in revenge for blinding him with the flash. I should probably worry, but I can't let fear rule my life.

22.April: Editing in the historical context . . .

Monday, April 11, 2011

Not Like Anything Else

It starts out normal enough . . .

. . . but then it gets pretty crazy . . .

I don't think the gravel is the worst of it, I think it's the rollers and wind. And then again you can't really separate the two. But I can't say for sure, I'm a spectator. It's just what I hear, what I parrot. Everyone who's been through this particular spin cycle says it's the worst they've ever felt and the best they've ever felt.  WTF ever that means.  Crazy buncha bastards.

Only thing I know for damn sure is how great Team Two Wheeler was for manning up all the volunteer spots - flaggers, marshals, drivers, . . . you name it. I can't begin to say enough good things about their positive, can-do attitude. And I know for damn sure, based on firsthand experience with several of 'em.

Double shoutout, though, to Bill Radobenko, for helping with sign setup. It's a huge job and it was just so rad to have help and company.

Not sure about the future of this event . . . it probably can't continue with just the 65-70 racers that came out last year and this. Maybe it's worth another year or two to see if it can grow and draw to a point that makes sense.  The experience is already legend.  I just hope it's not something we look back on way too soon.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Despite a bunch of sign building last year, we were still a couple short for this year's Ronde Van Palouse. Now we're not.  We do take a certain amount of pride in pointing riders in the right direction.

It's the eve of, and the weather looks just right and I feel like tomorrow could be colossal.

The link to Ted Chauvin's killer why you shouldn't not race post has shown up at least a coupla other places around Spokane bike interwebs, but it's worthy of copycatting, so there you go. (I'm feeling extremely relieved that I qualify for the volunteer exemption, btw.)  Yep, same Ted.  Hope he kicks ass tomorrow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Borrow Your Hoe?

Somehow, today turned into this major marathon yardwork bullshit deal (I did not plan it like this) and at the end, as the sun was going down, I was way up on a bigass ladder, having just butchered the top off of this weird half-tree-half-bush thing that grows about 12 vertical feet a year straight into the power lines at the back of our property and I took just a moment of me-time to envision what a pump track would look like in this space:

Dude! Yes, I'm seeing it!!! There's a f'ing backhoe parked across the street!

In a split second, my mind is reeling - I could get out there at the butt-crack-of dawn on Sunday, hotwire this bad mother, get my pump track built by noon and have it parked right back in the same place like nothing ever happened! Except that my new pump track just happened!!!!!

I hollered across the yard to Patty: "Are your seeing what I'm seeing?!?"

She hollered back: "Come down from that tree and settle your ass down. Before you hurt yourself."