Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vegas MTB

Mountain biking in the Southwest - now that is "chicken soup for the soul." I spent 3 days in Las Vegas last weekend with my cousin getting a taste of the excellent trails just outside "sin city". Wow, they were awesome. Lost every penny I gambled ($2 at the airport on the way out of town).

DAY 1: It was a rather cool 30 degrees when I woke up on Saturday morning. It warmed up to about 45 degrees when we got out to the trail head. We hit the trails in Cottonwood Valley. The Spanish Trail cuts through this area, we were on the lookout for the wagon-wheel tracks, but I missed them since I was busy avoiding the multiple cacti. The most wicked of the cactus was the the choia - that's the ones with all the nasty stickers in the photos below. Luckily, I learned quickly and missed those guys the entire trip.

The scenery was awesome. The area is so different than the Pacific Northwest. This was real desert riding (not that Central Oregon stuff). The trails were rocky and dusty. Definitely more technical than I'm used to (got to work on that balance: a swiss Ball is on the Christmas list).

DAY 2: We hit the cowboy trails on Sunday. Wow, you soon learned where the name came from. Rocky, bumpy, and technical. Near the top is a gypsum mine (the rock they grind down for sheet rock in homes). I brought about 15lbs of samples down the hill in my back-pack. I figured the extra weight would help me keep from flipping over the handlebars (must have worked).

Great view of Vegas at the top of the hill. The descent was a quite a roller coaster (note to self: bring my full suspension Stumpy next time). The views again were awesome.

DAY 3: Snow in Vegas?!?! Yep, I was one of those tourists that only thought there was gambling, strippers, and sagebrush in Vegas. I was proven wrong as I blazed fresh tracks through virgin powder. Luckily, it was all downhill. My cousin was kind enough to shuttle me up the road a few times (he prefers extreme skiing in the snow). Mt Charleston is the mountain bike escape when it's 100+ in the summer. It's nice and cool at 11,000 feet and there are fine trails to enjoy.

Sunny weather and access to trails only known by a local. Now that's a trip to paradise. Enjoy the photos below.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Timber Park Cross - 11/11/08

Timber Park near Estacada was the site for my 4th Cross Crusade race. It was also the Unofficial Official Cyclocross Single Speed World Championships (SSCXWC) - when one doesn't exist you can claim whatever title you want. Single speeders and cross means lots of crazy folks and beer. Actually, it was so cool that the national cross champion couldn't pass on showing up to this one (he beat everyone easily).

My race was a lesson on what NOT to do to prepare for a cross race - drink too many cocktails the night before. My morning mantra of "man at night, man in the morning" faded to "survive this last lap". I started out just fine. Got a great starting position (our group lines up 20 minutes prior to the start since it is the biggest class). I was hammering at a good pace. The course was fast and slippery. I fell on a corner in the 2nd lap and my shifter was jammed - stuck the big chain ring the rest of the race. The previous night activities started to take it's toll about the 25 minute mark. Survival mode kicked in and I made it through the finish. I was a bit shocked when the early results came out - 86 of 90 persons. I knew I was bad, but not that bad. Luckily, the officials reviewed the photo finish and realized they miss counted my laps. I moved to 41 of 90 on the results. Just imagine if I actually prepared for these tests of pain.

Luke competed in his 2nd Kiddie Kross. I figure it was the kids division of the Single Speed Championships since tricycles are indeed singlespeeds (however, no free beer for them). He did great. Looks like he is turning into quite the competitor. Enjoy the photos below (courtesy of Denise).

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Dream Bike

OK, I fell in love this weekend. It was at the Handmade Bike Show. I've been thinking about a custom bike for about a year now. Always "checkin' out" the figures and lines of other rigs at the cross races. Yes, it is bike ENVY and LUST.

However, I didn't really know what I wanted in my dream cross rig until this show. TITANIUM Wow, what a perfect metal for a cross bike. Stronger than steel, lustrous, corrosion resistant (good for wet and muddy), and a beautiful finish. No paint is required, so that means no paint chips when you bang it around. All you do is buff out a scratch with a brillo pad. How wonderful is that.

One builder had a frame he was passing around. It looked brand new, but it was 13 years old and had over 50,000 miles of racing on it. Amazing!!!!!

Now, I must decide who will build my dream bike. Definitely local and someone with lots of experience. Looks like either DeSalvo out of Ashland or TiCycles out of Portland.

Oh to dream, and dream big.......

Monday, November 05, 2007

Barton Park Cross Race

It was back in the saddle this weekend for cross racing. It was out at Barton Park near Estacada. A venue that I haven't raced before. Actually, it probably should be called Barton Rock Quarry since most of the course was at a quarry next to the park.

It was another sunny day for cross racing. This is actually unusual since rain and mud is typically a requirement for cross in the NW. Luckily, there was some mud on the course. There were a few run-ups, a fun quick decent (see photos below), and a mix of gravel roads and pavement. This was the first course with these longer run ups. Boy, they put me in the "red-zone". I was typically passed by a couple people on the run-up and pass them on the straight away. Looks like I need to work on those hill sprints!!!

My last lap was a great finish for me. There was about 1/2 mile of gravel road with a slight up hill to the finish. I caught the guy I was back-n-forth with most of the race and then passed a few more. It was a down to the wire sprint with another fellow to the finish. The finish line was right after a 180 turn around a tree (an odd finish line position). He lead into the corner since I slowed down since we were going way to hot. I slipped by him on the inside corner as he slid out to the outside since he was going to fast. Sometimes technique is the key in these races.

Denise and Luke will be out for the race next weekend, so look for a report next week.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cross Crusade #3 - Rainer "Playground"

Well, the third race was shaping up to be a classic cross race. It was pouring down rain on Saturday, so I expected the same on race day. To my surprise - no rain and saw the sun!!! Luckily, the course was wet and slippery!!!!

It was about an hour trek up to Rainer, so I picked up my carpool mate, Matt, bright and early at 6am. It was his 1st cross race, so he was raring to go. The venue was at Rainer high school, a new course for the Cross Crusade. Hopefully, we didn't piss them off too much. 800+ racers doesn't treat the landscaping on the course too well.

The course was AWESOME. The highlight of the day was the "playground". The Crusaders laid a new "sandbox" that was about 25 yards of deep sand. It was off a descent, so you could pick up speed and maintain momentum through most of it. A few pedal strokes at the end and you were out of it. It was definitely the spot for the spectators since not all made it through. At least it was a soft landing.

The Human Bean team had a decent race. Some problems with my rear derailleur made the climb to the finish a pain with slipping gears. I finished in the top 50%. My carpool mate finished in the top 10 with the rookies. I'm sure he'll be schoolin' us in the Masters Cs soon and movin' to the B league.

I'll be missing the Halloween race next week, but the schedule in November looks great. Good courses near PDX again. Come on out and check out the races - I got a cowbell you can borrow.

Excellent coverage at BikePortland .

Words of wisdom to remember (got to remember this next race):

"Pain is the sign of weakness leaving the body"

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cross Crusade #2 - Hornings Hideout

Hornings Hideout, located about 20 miles west of Portland, was the site for the second race in the Cross Crusade series. It was foggy in town, but as you drove up the hill to the course the sun was actually shining.

There was another large group of racers in 10am race. About 250 riders total. The first lap was really congested at the beginning, but it soon spread out like it always does. The course weaved in and out of the trees and across some open fields that were really bumpy. In the woods, there were some steeper short climbs. I was able to ride them all through the entire race, so that was a good sign. I avoided the slippery roots in the corners (good thing since one poor fellow didn't heed the low friction of a wet root and ended up going home with the EMTs).

Good race for me overall. Put in a good effort the entire time.

If you’re going to charge, charge hard.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Cross Crusade #1 - Alpenrose

First day of CrossCrusade. Wow, doesn't get much better than this. The entire Formiller family hit the dirt. Weather was great and the course was fairly dry. An excellent day for the first race of the season. There were 1078 racers. That's a new record for a cross race in the entire USA.

Denise and Luke competed in their first cross races. Denise joined the "girl power" crew in the Womens division. She dug deep, looked great, and finished the race with style. See her guest blog entry below.

Luke competed in his first kiddie cross race. Down the pavement and in the grass (we skipped the barriers). He was the only one to bring home a ribbon.

I'm racing in the "crazy C" division. Cranked out the first lap in the top 15 or so. However, I think I burned alittle to much reserve on that. Riding the entire race in the drops this year. Feels much more stable and powerful. I think I stick with it. Lost a chain on the last lap after the stairs - not sure how that happened.

Video of the event at CrankMyChain
Great coverage and photos at

Enjoy the photos below.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Right Here, Right Now - Denise takes on Cyclocross!

Guest Blogger: Denise Ker

There was no turning back as I lined up at the back of the pack waiting for the whistle to blow for my first Cyclocross race and for that matter, my very first sports-related competition. Ignorance is so bliss, I must say. I had not idea what I’d gotten myself into as I agreed to try out Cyclocross while sipping cocktails at a Labor Day party with my girlfriends. Seriously, it’s 45 minutes of my life, no problem. I’m a gym rat, I can get my butt kicked in spinning class and come out feeling great! Hey, it’s nothing compared to what my marathon buddies endured during their races held earlier that morning. All those thoughts kept replaying in my head as I headed into the first lap.

OK, I started out looking for the nice paved road, where was it? All I found was dirt, gravel, and a blur of cyclists speeding past me. Holy crap Denise, kick it in a high gear to gain some speed, but wait... stop, get off your bike, throw it over your shoulder climb a hill, hop back on, turn some sharp corners and get off again, run over six barriers, get back on and then ride a bit more up and down some steep bumpy hills and climb a flight of stairs with bike slung over your shoulder – ouch! What the hell, I was in utter shock; I just kept going like a lab rat in a maze searching for the brie and pinot noir at the end of the maze! But no, I endured a total of three laps and finished without falling of my borrowed bike, never walking when I should have been riding, and didn’t trip over any of the barriers in front of the crowds. Phew! I didn’t even finish last, imagine that!

Those that know me well know I always have my top key take-aways list…so here you go…

1. Next time, skip the pre-race preparation of half-time celebratory cocktails at the OSU tailgater the night before.
2. Try riding the bike you plan to race more than a lap around your suburbia neighborhood.
3. Never underestimate the power of cheering for the cyclists on the course. The crowd and fellow cyclist were amazing, encouraging me every step of the way. I plan to hang next race at the toughest hill cheering to return the favor.
4. Be confident it your body and strength, believe it will match your heart and soul.

A shout out to my two biggest fans, Paul and Luke. Thanks for all the support, prep and encouragement before and during the race. You guys ROCK!

My next guest blog entry should come after the next race scheduled for Sunday, October 21. Enjoy life and connect! All my best - D

Sunday, September 30, 2007

LiveStrong Challenge

Days like today you really discover what "LiveStrong" is all about.

I volunteered with the Portland Velo club at the 1st reststop at the LiveStrong Challenge. About 40 people showed up on a rainy miserable day to "see Lance" and give a helping hand.

Well, we got to see Lance as he turned the corner and gave us a wave. Turns out he wasn't the one that inspired me today.

Working the rest-stop I jumped on handing out the PowerBars. It was 10 miles into the ride and you could tell these folks needed some movitation in the freezing rain. Well, when you try to provide some inspiration, you find that you'll get alot more inspiration in return.

LiveStrong is the riders who aren't typically bike riders. They are doing the ride for a reason or a person. They were all in different abilities, shapes, sizes, and personalities. They wore signs that said "Survivor". Lord knows what kind of story they had - there wasn't enough time to find out as they stood in the pouring rain and grabbing a PowerBar for some physical energy. However, you could tell there was no doubt they would finish the ride. They had a reason inside them that was driving them to complete that ride today.

There was one fellow in particular. He was an odd duck - everyone was wondering who is this guy talking to. But, when you listened to his story, you saw his "passion for life". Young kid, must have been in his twenties, from Modesto CA, obviously was expecting sunny weather because he was definitely not dressed for the occasion. Testicular cancer survivor - he was proud to show the scar on his belly. He had no idea what idea he was doing on that bike, but as he rode off there was no doubt in my mind that he would finish. He was proud and full of passion for life.

Met Chris Carmichael, Lance's coach, as you can see from the photo below. Lance canceled out on the speech he was going to give at 1pm. However, there was no disappointment in me. I already met and saw plenty of people that LiveStrong everyday.

A day a today confirms that saying, "give alittle to others and you'll receive more in return".

Now that's LivingStrong!!!!

Another amazing story that was posted.....

The last rider to finish was a cancer survivor who road alone through the rain and wind for most of the day. At one point she was at least 5 miles behind the next to last rider. Often moving along at barely a walking pace, with inspiring fortitude she never wavered in her determination to finish. A sag wagon stayed with her and even offered to give her a ride back when it seemed she was not going to make it. She replied, "I've got three hours until the course closes, I'm going to keep going". And she did. She finished the 70 mile course in just under 8 hours, long after most of the participants had gone home. Maybe the second hardest thing she's done in her life. You know what the hardest thing was.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Kermeese - 9/15

Wow, it feels good to be back in a race. It was a great warm up for cross season at the Kermeese at Sauvie's Island. The course was about 1.5 mile lap around a guy's farm. It was a great course to hammer on the cross bike.

I felt great the first few laps, slowed down during the next 4, and hammered the last two. You really need to dig deep in the middle. I think the taste of blood from the bottom of my lungs got me motivated. Always remember - PAIN is a sign of WEAKNESS LEAVING the body!!!!

The bike performed well - no mechanical issues.

Saw a collegue from work - his son and grandson were out there. His grandson is about 10 years old and he's really into it. Great to see.

Welcome Cross Season!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

It's been more than a few months since I got on a bike, so I haven't been "inspired" to blog much.

The separated shoulder kept me off the bike for awhile. Then I figured since I was down, I may as well get "fixed" at the the same time (those male procedures at 37 years old gives a new meaning to "saddle sores").

Well, after 3 months without reasonable heart pumping excerise, I was a physical example of how biking is directly proportional to happiness. I lost my mojo, man.

The good news, is that I started riding at the beginning of August. It took a few weeks, but the MOJO IS BACK. Over this weekend, 6000ft+ of climbing and 30mph decents on gravel roads - I found it.

Don't miss the Bike Film Festival this weekend. I'm planning to go Thursday night and program 4 and 5 on Saturday.

Cross season is almost here and I'm pumped. It's definitely the most fun you can have on a bike while busting your lungs for 45 to 60 minutes. Here's an excellent blog on cross racing by a local racer (best I've seen).... Laatste Ronde

Here's the races I have circled on the calendar. Hope to see you there.

Sept 15th: Krugers Kermesse
Oct 7th: Cross Crusade at Alpenrose
Oct 21st: CrossCrusade at Rainer
Nov 4th: CrossCrusade at Hornings Hideout
Nov 18th: CrossCrusade at Hillsboro Stadium
Dec 2nd: Cross Crusade at PIR (national guys will be here, you don't want to miss that).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Helmet Required

I got 3 substantial cracks in the skull lid from my episode. So, now that I'm on the mend it was time for a new top rate brain bucket. No expense was spared for the noggin' with the Giro Atmos (OK, it was on sale at Performance).

However, I'm still sticking to the trainer and doing some short road rides on the weekend. So, alittle inspiration is needed at times. I've been packing the Ipod with tunes recorded from internet radio. I also found this great video of the man....

Saturday, June 09, 2007

On the Mend

Making progress on the shoulder - got full range of motion but still can't put too much weight on it. Plan is to visit the physical therapist every couple of weeks to track progress and get new torture exercises from the cute doc.

Spending time on the trainer in the garage to keep the legs going. Made it out for my first road ride last weekend. Good training for the legs since I have to do the seated hill climb.

Had to sell my Death Ride ticket. Oh well, I'll plan for 2008.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Badge of Courage - 5/20/07

Last Sunday started out like a normal race day. Woke up, coffee, loaded bike and gear, warm up laps, etc..... However, the 2nd lap at the Falls City Firecracker didn't go as expected.

Fast, faster, bump, endo, airborne, and then laying on my back grasping my shoulder. Thanks to some friends, I got a ride to the Dallas ER. Denise didn't totally freak when I called her (probably because I was at least able to call myself).

Yes, my string of never breaking a bone still stands - only tearing joints!!! "AC shoulder separation - go see an orthopedic" was what the Dallas ER doctor said.

Wasn't too painful as long as I kept still. Actually, the most painful part was getting off my stinky bike jersey on Sunday evening (no way I could cut the Beaver jersey).

Called the orthopedic on Monday AM and after 10 minutes of hold music, finally got the message that Mondays are "high call volume". Finally drove to the "walk-in" clinic and found out that I didn't qualify since I went to the ER (it was probably worth it since my helmet had at least 3 cracks - a new addition to the "saved my life" shrine).

Finally got to the orthopedic today. Sure enough, grade 2 AC shoulder separation, click here to read all the gory details. Sounds like it is a very common sports injury, especially for cycling. Good news, no surgery. Bad news, I'll be doing physical therapy for ~12 weeks (nothing worse that a cute doctor gal making you cry in pain each week). Making progress already - I can button my own shirt again.

The gal rolling me to the x-ray room put it in perspective well..... "at least you were having fun, alot of people get injured at work."

That's right - a tough day having fun always beat working!!!

I'm thinking about cross season already!!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Spring Thaw, Ashland OR - 5/6/07

Good times in Ashland, Oregon over the weekend. You can't go wrong with moutain biking, Japanese Spa , and Shakespeare (OK, we went to a more modern play). Denise and I had a great time.

The course worked out to be about 28 miles. First 12 miles straight up the road out of the local park. Totaled about 3300 feet of climbing. The last 5 miles or so was some most excellent single track (the stuff Ashland is know for).

I maintained a good hard pace for the entire uphill without bonking at the end, so I was very happy with that. Lost about 10 places on the downhill. My official excuse: must of been the locals.

Denise and I even went on a ride "together". Jacksonville and back turned out to be about 34 miles round trip.

Definitely need to plan to do this next year.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Commuting to Work

There is finally a break in the rains in Portland area. Therefore, it's time for us fair weather bike commuters to start hit the streets.

My commute from Wilsonville to Beaverton is 19 miles and takes about 1hr-20min each way. There's a great gym at work to take a shower, so I pack my gear on car days.

Some key benefits...
1) Great way to get miles on the bike. I shoot for 2 times per week, so that's ~80 miles of riding.
2) Save gas. However, it's not the economics - I don't pack a lunch when I ride, so the money I save each day (~$6.50) is spent on buying lunch.
3) Great way to lose weight by burning extra calories.
4) Doesn't cut into family time. Got to go to work anyway!!!

Give it a try. Once you do it a couple times, you resolve all the excuses.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mudslinger - 4/22/07

I had to skip out on one of the annual campouts with the guys to make it to this years Mudslinger. I've been doing it off and on since highschool, so it's a fun local race.

The race started with a good long uphill on logging roads up to the top. It rained pretty good the day before, so the singletrack downhills were good and slippery. I was finally getting my balance for the slip down after the 1st lap. Started to rain for at the end for a wet finish. 3000 feet of climbing over 22 miles - not a bad Sunday stroll.

My results weren't stellar, but it was fun. My buddy Evan (who I used to ride with) captured 1st place in the PRO division (yes, he is a mountain bike stud).

Here's a photo from the event and the heat-monitor printout (gray peaks are elevation). I'm smiling since I'm finally going downhill!!!!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hornings Hideout - 3/25/07

Wow, what a mud-fest. I knew it was going to be alittle sloppy when I drove in and the redneck in front of me had to stop to lock in his hubs to get his truck to the parking lot. That's expected this early in the year.

I got there early to pre-ride the circuit. It wasn't too bad since not many people had rode it yet. Well, that changed quickly after the first lap. Luckily, they reduced the number of laps for all. It took a almost 2 hours to slug out 10 miles. Alot of pushing involved.

Mudslinger is on April 22nd!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Death Ride and Others 2007

Beware of what you wish. That's what I thought this week when I found out I was one of 2800 lucky souls to participate in the Death Ride.

Well, I was looking for a good goal to set for the season. This should get me motivated when I'm riding that trainer at 5am in the garage during these dark rainy days in Oregon. Here's a link to the course map that I hung on the wall for inspiration: Death Ride Map.

Talking about schedules. Here's the schedule I'm planning for this year.....

3/25/07: Horning's HideOut
4/22/07: MudSlinger MTB
5/5/07: Spring Thaw MTB
5/20/07: Falls City Firecracker MTB
6/10/07: Test of Endurance MTB
6/23/07: Tour De Blast Road
7/14/07: DeathRide Road
8/4/07: 12HRS at Willamette Pass MTB
10/07 to 11/07: CrossCrusade

Should be a good season.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Torque Wrenches

So, I was installing the cleats on my new Shimano M225 shoes (Christmas present to me) and I did it again - stripped the darn hex screw. I thought I'd learned my lesson from 2 years ago. Added a new tool to the toolset after a trip to the local hardware store: screw extractor.

Anyway, I've been looking for a torque wrench ever since. Well of course the boys at Park Tool have the perfect tool, but you need to spend $80 to get both wrenches for the full range of in-lbs.

I did a google search, for torque wrenches. About 5 places down on the list is: TORK-GRIP, The Ultimate Torque Wrench For The Bicyclist. This link is definitely worth the read. Actually, this guy has quite a few humorous inventions for the cyclist.

Anyway, I chatted with my co-workers for some ideas (these guys have hobbies like machining and reworking old oscilloscopes - yes, we're a bunch of nerds at Tek). The Park Tool beam wrench is only as accurate as your steady hand, so we're thinking the dial-n-click wrench that we use at work. We'll those cost a small fortune at most places.

Well, my buddy knows a good low cost tool store. Yes, it's MIC stuff - made in China, but he says he's been happy with the stuff he's bought. Located in Salem. So, for about $40, I'll be totally set. I'll give them a try and report back.

Small Torque Wrench

Big Torque Wrench

Cold Feet but No Rain

Went for a ride with the Portland Velo folks on Saturday. 28F out, but a least it wasn't raining. Did 38 miles and my feet were FREEZING at the end. Couldn't feel a thing. Which brings up the topic of cold feet.

I actually went to GI Joes on Friday in preparation for this chilly event. However, they SOLD out of foot warmer inserts. Bought some battery heated socks. However, gave up on that idea when I put them on with the D size battery hanging on the side of my calf (didn't think it was the best thing for spinning pedals. So, my feet FROZE on Saturday and it's my new mission.

Today, I went back to GI Joes to return my battery socks. I came across some Little Hotties hand warmers that came with a free toe warmers. It was only $5, so I figured I'd give these toe warmers a try. I'll report back after this weekends ride. Looks like you can buy a case online at their website. Hope they work out!!!!!!!!