Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Satisfaction Denied

Today was to have been part one of my first-ever attempt at back-to-back evening pump sessions. Different groups each night. But as mother nature would have it, she would not have it.

Thing is, among the various bike disciplines, pumptracking is maybe the most weather-senstive. A bit of moisture is good and even necessary for a track, but anything over that is dangerously slick and will subject your track to damage in a hurry. It pretty much poured, for the first time in weeks, so that was that.

The first half of the reason for planning doubles is that I'm sensing the impending change of seasons, complete with dwindling daylight and disabling precipitation events, and the pressure is on to get as many sessions in as possible, while there's still an opportunity to do so.

Other part of the doubles equation is that it takes so much work to get the track ready that when you do, you wanna take full advantage of the readiness. I think maybe that's one of evolutionary conclusions of a pump track proprietor - there's just not enough time to keep the track in shape all the time, so it makes sense use it in bursts.

Anyway, in preparation for the back-to-backs, I busted ass and had the track in maybe its finest-ever shape, as of this morning:

But you know, best laid plans and all that.

I'm happy to report, however, that we moved things under cover and made the best of it.

Thanks to Joe, Robin, John, Jon and Glen for hanging out, despite the shit weather. It wasn't quite the fun we had hoped for, but it was the next best thing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Backyard Pump Tracks: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Blogging has been a little tough for me lately, for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones is that I've always tried to keep this blog as diverse as I can, given the constraints of my limited knowledge and experience. I recall one particular exchange among local bloggers regarding "why we blog", and the consensus was that the desire to blog is ego-driven. True for them maybe, but for me, I think it's a lot more about connection. I don't facebook or tweet or anything, so for me this blog is my means of hanging out with my local and national bike buds, known or unknown.

But back to the diversity thing. The pump track has kind of taken over my life and rendered me pretty much one-dimensional, and I've been trying to figure out how to work other stuff in as part of the connection deal but as of tonight, I guess, I'm throwing in the towel and thinking that my best path forward, short term, is to just lay it out there: My name is Pat S and I'm a pumptrackaholic. The backyard pump track season is drawing to a rapid close and so I won't be talking about it forever, but maybe there's some value in just focusing on and sharing what I've learned and experienced and think about every day, ever since I decided to throw myself into this project back in early spring. Or not, that's for you to decide. But for sure I can't do diverse right now.

So even though backyard pumptracking is a miniscule segment of the bike scene here in Spo, tune in here over the next few days if you want to know more than you ever wanted to know about this particular weird little subculture. Including some tales of satisfaction, disappointement, revelation, downright rants, and major exhiliration. And of course how could I not share some data.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back In Bidness

It's been exactly four weeks since my crash. This weekend was about getting back in the saddle. I picked up dirt after work on Friday and did some track mods over the weekend that made me feel safer or whatever - rationalization and head games and managing fear mostly, but also partly some good improvements that came out of four weeks of reflection. John was over for moral support or is that Evil Knievel, the new nutcase is messing with my head.

I'll be honest, I was scared shitless for a coupla laps, but once I was able to loosen up, it was so rad to be back on the track.

Pump track, I'm sorry for the harsh words. You complete me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

You Die

I love you, but you die, mofu. You dumped me on my head, harder than shit. But I am alive, stronger than ever, pissed as hell and then some. I created you and I will alter you and I will rule you and I will hit every corner of you so hard that you will cry like the baby pump track that you are. And when you beg for my forgiveness, well . . . I will think about it.

New dirt is here, consider yourself modified. Deal with it.

This is your brain, pump track.

This is your brain on Pat.

Any questions???

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fat Thursday

On their blog this morning, Surly posted a buncha details and pics about their new products. Lots of their new offerings are fatbike-related. The forums lit up and through the course of the day, the excitement drove the needle on the fatbike nerd meter straight through the side of the housing.

I was able to read the blog text today at work, but IT filters out the pictures, so I just now got to look at them. Damn, the fatbike choices just got wildly more diverse and delightfully more confusing. I'll have to follow what fatbikers are saying on the forums and process it all over the next few days/weeks.

As far as whether it will affect my buying decisions, I'm not sure. I'm really wanting to go after a reasonably light rotating mass and the new Marge Lite scores well in that department. And the cool thing is that the new tires are gonna be available almost immediately and fatbikers are such hackers and they're gonna be playing with all kinds of shit as far as fitting them into existing fat frames. Will I get smitten with the Moonlander itself? Only time will tell. Maybe the Moonlander is such a drastic evolutionary step that current fatbike owners will be compelled to convert and more of the current crop of fatties will be available, and at more reasonable used prices and that's what I'll go after. Once again, time will tell.

One thing for sure, it's really fun to watch this unique velo genre evolve, because unlike most others, it's in its infancy and there's tons of experimentation going on. I needs to gets me in on it. One other thing for sure is that Surly has reached the size, as a bike company, that might automatically make you not like them quite so much anymore just based on that fact, and that if not ubiquitous, Surlys are at least common. But I love them more than ever for their innovation and for the way they seemingly listen to and respond to what people ask for. Maybe that respect will have the bigger affect on my buying decisions. Only time will tell.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Discombobulated Downtime

My pump track crash was three weeks ago today. I hit pretty hard. F%@kin' hard, actually. I've had trouble focusing my eyes due to some swelling around the socket, but I think that's mostly over with now. Lingering problems are a rib injury and what I think is probably a broken bone in my left hand. Based on past experience with those two types of injuries, I'm guessing I'm about halfway there. The hand is the most problematic, because riding aggravates it, and I'm thinking the only way for it to heal is to stay off the bike, so that sucks.

So that mess, combined with some pretty serious overload at work has left my head in a pretty weird place. But maybe it's okay and even a good thing, as the out-of-saddle time is cause for a lot of reflection on what bikes really mean in my life and what I want out of them going forward. My obsession is fully intact, but I've never considered it as anything as serious as a religion. A super happy escape/diversion from the hard realities of life though. Anyway, I think I'll be altering my course a little. Not drastically.

Biggest thing is, I'll be getting a fatbike, barring something major like my own death. I'm now fully engaged in this particular form of insanity and I've been having great fun sorting through the nuances of the various equipment options. My major fatbike focus is next year's cross-state tour on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, but I'm convinced I'll have all kinds of other fun once I get one in my hands. The following vid is more extreme than anything I will ever do at my age, but I'm so incredibly captivated by the possibilities. It may not be your thing, but maybe you can at least get a glimpse of the bug I've been bitten by:

Bikerafting Alaska's Lost Coast: Yakutat to Glacier Bay. from lacemine29 on Vimeo.

Yeah, the idea of crossing the Columbia on a packraft. I know.

Second biggest thing is, I think, maybe, I'm ready to live without a road bike. The dedicated lightweight roadie kind, in this case my Orbea. In my mind, a road bike's always been a pretty solid part of my stable/who I am, bike-wise, but I've hardly used it these last 2 or 3 years and when I have, it's been fun, but not all that. It wouldn't have to be forever, or it could be, but I think it's time to let go of this particular security blanket. Watch for it on a craigslist ad near you.

Other than that, there was some dolling up of the Elephant tonight, in advance of the big Elephant-owner's photo shoot this week. See how well I have Patty trained to mow the yard while I wash my bike?

Know how I talked earlier about my own death? I think it's now imminent, once she reads what I just wrote.

I've also been working on a basement organization project - the BABSSA (Bike And Bike Shit Storage Area). It's a long-overdue project, as I have krap scattered all over hell in the basement. That pile in the foreground is what will now get organized and put on the shelves. I'm proud of the fact that except for just a couple of new 10' 2x4's, I did it all with recycled materials that I have around, including the paint. (The color is what I got when I mixed a buncha partial leftover cans of paint together and it's not pink, dude, it's mauve.)

So anyway, good catching up with you. I'll try to get my head screwed on a little better and not be such a stanger.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thur Pump Sesh Pics

(As always, click any pic for big . . .)

Too many people heading into one intersection. Don't let Joe L's
expression fool ya - the traffic is stressing him out.

Moments later, Justin anticipating the inevitable . . .

Road rage. Don't let the expressions fool ya.
I was there and the stress was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

These three pics of Glen are the textbook pump sequence.

Justing eyeballing the line . . .

. . . and executing.

If I've learned one thing in life for sure, it's that kids dig pump tracks.

Breathe deep for the downstroke . . .

. . . then count on your grit and determination to get you up the other side.

Tommy!  Eyes on the track!!!!!

Justin, railing the 180 that tried to kill me.

Joe T, taming the beast.

Joe L, still not having fun.

Joe T brought home-brew beer (not pictured); Joe L brought home-brew
ice cream (pictured).  The Joes are rad, rad, RAD.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pondering My Response

If you find a bear cub or baby giraffe or something on the side of the road and bring it home and raise it, you can delude yourself into thinking it's all domesticated, but you have to know in the back of your mind that there's always the chance that the wildness that can't be totally and completely purged will emerge for just a split second. If/when it happens, you're hosed.

I understand that this isn't Wild Kingdom and we're not talking animal babies . . . we're talking dirt.  But shit, I just thought that based on the Frankensteinian process I endured to give this particular batch of dirt some fabulous life, it would somehow honor me. Wrong, apparently.

We all love innocent baby animals and dirt, but hell, at some point, a bit of retaliation is in order.  I'm thinking C4.  I seriously doubt that I can bring myself to destroy that which I have created, but at least I can dream.

One thing's for sure:  It's not enough to simply love your pump track; you must also respect it.