Friday, September 09, 2016

Fall Is Here.



Well, finally.
It is a tough thing being a cyclist in Ohio, especially in the humid summer months. You live for Fall, Winter and Spring around here. The weather dries out, gets cooler, and the as the seasons change, it gets stunning. Leaves turn to auburn reds and Crayola yellows, and the bugs are nearly non-existent.
Tire selection gets a bit larger for the winter, like my 2.35 Nevegals on the hardtail. Road tires run a bit softer on days when you are likely to get hit with sleet and hail.







Ara, Bob, Randy and Mark still seem to be enjoying the dry, dusty trails of So Cal, and it has been a pleasure to see Randy Rush pop up on Instagram riding through Cuyamaca and along PCH.  Bob has been busy racing, riding and drinking a LOT of wine north of Frisco. Ara? Well, he's been working hard to get back in to racing shape, taking a podium spot just two races out of the hospital.






Josh and Jeff have been riding a great deal of road and mountain. Josh had wrecked out, but was back on the bike quickly. Seriously, he's fast. Chucky-T has been off the bike, but eating up the track in his Subaru, racking up numerous 1st place finishes again this year.






Me? I have been riding less thanks to the new job, and also due to the disgusting humidity. That is about to change, as you can already start to feel the air get dry, and the mornings don't start out feeling like 96 degrees and swampy. Fresh KENDA tires are mounted on the Titus. New schedule is dropping Monday. FALL IS COMING! Hopefully, I will have some aof that new SIGMA SPORT bling to talk about, as Eurobike is over and we should start to see the new stuff!


Enjoy Fall, and go shred some dirt people!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Summah Thyme!

Memorial Day in Westerville, Ohio.

Sweaty, swampy, and hotter than a two-peckered goat in mating season. That is precisely how I would describe the higher-than average temps here in the Midwest, steeping in humidity. Not even chamois butter rendered from elephant seal fat could stand up to withering humidity. That being said, it is not negative twenty degrees, either, so you ride in it. I recently replaced some older KENDA TIRE bib shorts with two brand new pair, and what a difference! Voler makes some amazing cycling clothing, and the newly upgraded KENDA bibs are no exception. My days off have changed to Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so the rides have been longer than usual to attempt to maintain a decent mileage goal for the week. Good shorts are a must.

 
Jeff Williams and his beautiful family. I mean, without him they would be beautiful, of course:)

Jeff “Tookie” Williams is planning a stellar ride down at Greenbo State Park on Memorial Day Monday. 18 miles of singletrack, Kentucky bliss. My riding partner Jon “Angry Cyclist” Hanshaw is up in the mountains of Pennsylvania riding his hardtail through the ferns this week,
The Angry Cyclist (Jon Hanshaw) roaming the mountains of PA.
and it looks like Josh Qualls has been organizing group road and mountain rides and reroofing homes in his spare time.

 
Josh Qualls in Greenbo, KY.
 
Josh leading the charge with the Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts.


Randy Rush is looking to get back to racing this season, and Ara has been working very hard to rehab his leg from blood clots and get to the finish line of a race. Vegas Bob has been roaming about France with his sommelier girlfriend, Cyrille.
I love this. Vegas Bob and Cyrille roaming the French countryside on Sturmy-Archer 3 speed vintage bikes.
 
Bob posing in front of his new bike garage in France.
Drinking and vintage bikes are rad in Europe. Mark Thome seems to be killing it at the Over The Hump race series, occasionally showing up to a Fullerton Death Loop for training and tacos.
Mark Thome has been racing his chamois off!

The Fuzz at the recent Kenda Cup race.

 

In sponsor news, Peter O’Brien (alias POB) is back working with long time partner Amino Vital. This is great news for both us and them. The new product tastes cleaner and works much better, and under his direction we have seen some great ads with Backboners! Everyone seems to be cruising along this year, and I love seeing the team page blow up with ride and race photos. Keep up the great work, and see you all on the trails!

 
Finally, winter has moved back to Canada.

Cap’n Chris


Monday, March 14, 2016

Backbone Riders Ready For Spring!


 It's here! O.K, it's finally here in the Midwest and eastern states. It never really leaves California, although El Nino has made CA a little colder than us a few days this past winter. Ara and Mark have been in attendance at the 2016 Kenda Cup West races, where Mark has been working hard to get on the podium.  Ara stopped by Bonelli to heckle him, as he is still dealing with some blood clot issues.

  Jeff and Josh have been riding pretty non-stop all winter, and Josh says he is ready to throw down as soon as the XC and road season starts up in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio. Jeff seems to be enjoying crossing dangerously swollen storms, much to the chagrin of his wife, Donella. Josh is apparently leg pressing about a metric ton, and his quads look more like apple-fritters than anything human.

Vegas Bob has been riding a ton of mountain bikes in his new home of Santa Rosa, CA, and even managed a quick podium shot from a local race. Look for him soon as a featured ambassador of Amino Vital.

  Randy is likely riding, shaving unnecessary parts of anatomy, and chugging beers. I like that.



  I have ridden too many sub-freezing road and mountain miles this year, and I am afraid I will need a wool thong or something if I have to do it again next year. My riding partner, The Angry Cyclist (Jon Hanshaw) dutifully froze his arse off with me all year, often dragging me home in the biting hail and wind. Amino Vital has been gracious enough to use Josh and I in some new banner ads, and I hope one day to convince them to photoshop me skinny!

   Here is to another great year of riding and racing. I look forward to all of the adventures!

Cap'n Chris

Saturday, January 09, 2016

2016 Is Here! El Nino Is Keeping It Crazy.



January 7th, 2016 here in Columbus. Not a snowflake to be found.

Unseasonably warm days have led to rain-filled gorges in the Hocking Hills of Ohio.

Conkle's Hollow in December of last year.

It has been one crazy "winter" here in the Midwest. Mild temps, not a single flake of snow on the ground, and we have been warmer on many days than back home in So Cal. The nice thing about that for me, is racking up 600-plus mile months on the bike! The ground will freeze soon enough, and that means the mostly unrideable mountain bike trails will be ready to go.
Hail makes road riding "interesting."

Miles are piling up here in the Midwest.

Jeff and Josh have been hosting some great mountain bike rides in Kentucky, and even spending some time down in the New River Gorge logging some miles. I have been dabbling with the new Polaroid Cube + Jennifer hooked me up with at Christmas, and thanks to some amazing January weather, working on maintaining about 120 miles per week...unheard of here this time of year! I am all ready to go for Spring with a new cassette and KMC SLTi chain. My current one has over 4200 miles on it!

Jeff Williams' pic was seen on MAMIL SPORTS UK's Facebook page last month!

Josh and Jeff riding in the leaves at Greenbo State Park, KY.

Ara is recovering well in Glendale. Tsolag is looking after him, which may or not be helping:)
Bob and Cyrille have relocated to a nice new home in Santa Rosa, and VB has not missed any opportunities to ride his various bikes both on and off road.  Randy checked in from the outlying areas of San Diego Friday, where it was just 48 degrees in Ramona. he has been rocking some night rides with his SIGMA Buster 200 and Karma lights. Even my mom sent in a pic from the old backyard of snow-capped Idyllwild. California is frozen, and Ohio has had 70 degree days in December. Craziness!
The Fuzz with his Next-Gen 'cross racers.

Bob eating oysters. Don't ask why.

Randy's Trance is ready for some night riding action.

Matt Thome just had a baby! OK, his girl did...but he had a marginal bit of input on that situation. Mark is probably riding the Fullerton Death Loop and drinking beers.
Matt Thome and the new baby screaming for mom.

Mark Thome ends his rides the way I used to. Bastard.

I hope everyone is healthy, happy, and taking every chance to ride bikes and get ready for the coming season. Sea Otter is just around the corner!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Prospect Ride

   
   Wet and foggy mornings always make me a bit nervous before a road ride. Limited visibility, increased stopping distance on rain-slickened roads, and those damned lane line paint stripes. I hate those things. Thank god I have serious rubber on my Kenda Kountach road tires! This was exactly the scenario yesterday for the fabled "Prospect Ride." This one is a local Columbus favorite, and yesterday was my first time doing it.

    It's amazing how much coffee I can put down. It's even more amazing that I can get my hands to stop shaking long enough to start my Sigma Sport ROX 10.0 computer before clipping in and riding. The crew was on time and had even eaten prior to the ride today, which typically equates to much more satisfactory average speed. Forty six to fifty miles was the projected distance, and we were ready.



    Departing the parking lot of the Olentangy High School parking lot on the corner of Sawmill and Home Rd., we rolled north and west down Hyatts Rd. to Section Line Rd.  Clark-Shaw Rd. provides a nice drop in elevation down to Riverside Drive where we roll north.. I had never even driven this far north along the river, so I was pleasantly surprised by the undulating terrain. Large expanses of farmland were occasionally interrupted by sweeping bends in the river. Cavernous barns dotted the landscape, the faded names and dates of the families who built them barely visible through the weathered wood. A ten mile per hour tailwind driving hard from the south propelled us along Riverside Drive at an alarming pace. Look for the historic Oller Cemetery as soon as you hit Riverside Drive, it's amazing. Grave markers dating back to the early 1800's I am sure hold a lot of secrets.


   River Road becomes Klondike Road just after crossing Rt. 42, and parallels the river all the way up to Marysville Road. Klondike dead-ends into Marysville Road, so you need to make a quick left/right combination and continue north on Warren/Warrensburg Road (same thing). There is a funky corner at Rt 172 and 173 where you can make a mistake, crossing the river and ending up on Ostrander Rd. Don't do it. Veer right (north) and stay on 172 (Warrensburg Road). I will include the link to the corner in question here..
https://www.google.com/maps/@40.3063843,-83.1664689,254m/data=!3m1!1e3

   In very short order and after a right turn, look for the LEFT turn on Hodges Road, just at the crest of the short hill. This is a nice stretch, with scenic vistas of the water and large, custom homes. One of the nice things about this ride, is that the residents along these roads are used to seeing cyclists. In many cases, they will wave from the porch, or even offer fresh water for us like the fine folks at the Warren Presbyterian Church! Just look for the cooler on the corner and help yourself. The church sits at the intersection of Hodges and Rt. 37. Make a quick left on to Rt. 37, and take the first right back on to River Road. This section is nice. No turns for a long time, and just big farms everywhere.


   The next turn comes in the apex of a corner with Watkins Rd. Take the left and continue north, staying as close to the river as you can. Be advised that the road from here on in to Prospect is marginal at best, and in many cases seems more like a Tijuana toll road than a frequently used roadie route. Chip-n-seal, manure covered and even sometimes more gravel than pavement lies beneath your tires. Once here though, you are so close to the halfway mark! You will dead-end in to Main Street, where a left turn places you on the path to the trusty "Dexter's Market." On the corner of Main Street and Water Street, Dexter's is the jam for a restroom and all the junk food and drinks you will ever need to satisfy the calorie debt. Look for the old artillery piece at the American Legion post! This is 23.5 miles.


   Be advised that the return is more downhill than up, but is still hilly and usually means you face a sizeable headwind blasting from the southwest...exactly the direction you are headed. Ride with a  group and paceline it home for the most efficient use of remaining energy stores. I am lucky enough to have bunnyhopping skills, and thusly managed to avoid disaster by jumping a dead opossum in the road.
   Be prepared for the final short-burst ascent up Clark-Shaw, then cruise out the final couple of miles to the car and go eat some tacos.

See you on the road to prospect!


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Fall And Winter Backbone Style.

A little airtime over a camera never hurt!
  
 With such a mild fall and winter here in the Midwest, the miles have been racking up when normally they are dying a painful, abrupt death. Jeff and Josh have been ripping it up in Kentucky and West Virginia since the mountain bike trails are still perfect. They have dropped some amazing fall foliage photos on us over the past three months, and managing to teach people how to mountain bike with frequent skills clinics at Greenbo State Park. Super awesome dudes!
 Josh even managed to pound a 100 mile group ride with the boys and girls of A.C.E.....ON HIS MOUNTAIN BIKE!
100 miles. On a mountain bike. Dick.


Jeff, as usual, makes people feel bad about themselves while leading the train through the singletrack trails, as seen below.
https://www.facebook.com/chris.sharp.338/videos/10207784981763256/?l=5894673641035484458


     Ara was doing great in the So Cal Cyclocross Series, even looking to take the overall series victory! He then found out that an earlier crash was causing blood clots in his knees. This removed him from the series final, and I'm pretty sure he was not happy about that. The docs released him, he did a few short recovery rides, then BAM! Clots came back. He is still dealing with them, and we wish him all of the best.

Beautiful shot from Phil Beckman.


Mark Thome has been landing on the podium for the Over The Hump Series, and blowing up his HRM on the Fullerton Loop in the evenings. Amazing to think that one could be THAT OLD and still ride a bike!! Hahaha...his son and Backboner Mark Thome just had HIS first child...that we know of...in November. That makes Mark a grandfather. Old bastard.
Mark Thome thinks it's a biscuit.
Charles has been racing his Subaru like a freak, and bringing home ALMOST as much bling as he did racing downhill mountain bikes! Check out this latest medal..pretty sweet.


Randy, asleep holding his nuts.

NICE WIN'S WHEELS KIT!


October along the reservoir's single track near Westerville.

The ol' 26er hardtail still works. Go figure.

I have been doing what Randy Rush does...drinking beer and being surly. It's in the contract. Seriously. The riding in and around Columbus is certainly the best between September and January. The leaves are popping, the air is cool and dry, and mosquitos aren't the size of pterosaurs. The road miles for me have been racking up well, with roughly 2400 miles between September and November. Most of it was rolling the country farm roads, but at least this year it was above freezing on most days....except two Sundays ago. See the hail in the photo below...
That's hail.

Admittedly, the cold days last year were awful. Negative 11 degrees is not fun to ride in. It beats CrossFit, don't get me wrong...but it's still not ideal. All of my rides begin and end on bricks, and all bricks seem just a little bit harder and less forgiving on days that are that cold.
Carpel Tunnel? You betcha'!

The open country roads appear quickly from our home here in Westerville. Vast swaths of flat, glacial scraping turned in to corn and soybean fields await me, just minutes from home. Open skies give you at least a fighting chance of seeing the approaching, almost daily storms that roll in from August to November. There are not many places to hide out there, so the reality of having to lie in wait snuggling up to deer ticks in a swail is legit. The trees are amazing though in the fall, and worth every bit of risk. The Cuyahoga National Park roads and trails are perfect in the fall and winter.
Big sky, beautiful roads.


F*****G BRICKS.





Vegas Bob has moved to Santa Rosa, CA. He has been racing in his new home town, and has also been very active in the high school mountain bike racing scene as a coach! He has also been consuming large quantities of beer. Star Wars is coming by Christmas as well, so there is a good chance he will be found somewhere without pants, in a storm trooper helmet. Just sayin'.
Vegas Bob, carb loading.


 All things considered, it has been a magnificent year to ride bikes, from the left coast to the right coast and everywhere in between. Hope you all are out enjoying it while it lasts!

Cheers..