Monday, October 31, 2011

Cuyahoga Valley Awesomefest!

What began as a simple getaway for Lydia, Luka and I quickly evolved into something much more awesome. You see, we don't get out much. Everyone we know, we know on such a superficial level it's really quite disgusting. In an effort to be better friends to the folks we know, we thought it might be really cool to open up our little weekend hide-out to any roll: customers who were insane enough to buy in at the rock-bottom and non-refundable price of thirty dollars.
The Cuyahoga Valley Awesomefest was born. Siobhan Blake and I met clandestinely at Cup-O-Joe in Lennox Center to plot the numerous routes that would send riders throughout the only National Park in the state of Ohio.

The e-mail was sent via the store's Google-Groups group-ride e-mail list. Here's the pitch...
"Anyone wanna come up and stay with us in the historic Stanford House B & B for the last weekend of October? It's $30 bucks, and I'm not babysitting any one of you." In six hours, we had forty two people fighting for twenty nine spots. Luckily for Chris Blumenschein, after a two month wait..there was a cancellation. He was in so fast it was scary.

With a sales pitch like that, who wouldn't want in? The entire house was rented for the weekend. It was done. Sweet baby Jesus help us. I'm bad enough on my own, but sprinkle in Shanna from Graeter's Ice Cream and Steve Priest, and we have problems. Deep seated, emotional problems. Be patient...we'll get there..

Meeting at 8a.m. in the Lane Avenue parking lot, what assembled in the thirty one degree temps was far from the Justice League..more like the rag-tag bunch of misfits from the A-Team. I'm B.A., by the way. Siobhan is "Face Man" know..minus the "man." We made like a baby and headed out towards the sleepy town of Boston Mill. I think the Headless Horseman lives there, but don't quote me on that. Arriving by 11a.m., we quickly poured ourselves into Spandex and split up into three different groups.

The bulk of the house headed up and out to the "paved" bike path at the edge of the park, where they split in two and some went north towards Lake Erie, while the rest went south towards Akron. Lyd, Luka and I chose the scenic and historic tow-path trail to Akron.

Chris B. blew a rear tube at mile 1, and "Spray and Pray" Barry Jackson busted a spoke on his brand new Ksyrium Elite's. Everyone managed to handle their bid'ness, and the riders kept going. I love it when a plan comes together (flagrant A-Team reference, get it?).

Lyd and I stopped with Luka in tow at Botsam station. Turns out, this weekend was the last for the year that the historic Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Train picks up bike riders for a paltry $3 and will carry them in heated comfort back to the nearest train station from whence they came. Perfect.

Train staff are always very pleasant, and to get to snack on a massive hot-dog and beer from the trains' food car is always better than it sounds after riding for hours on a thirty one degree day. They let us ride both ways for the price of a one way I bought the guys a six pack as a thank you on behalf of all the cyclists for the season. Nice.

The roll: Element was clutch in the ferrying of Awesomefest participants to and from the Winking Lizard restaurant in the nearby town of Peninsula. With ages ranging from two to sixty-five years old, the Lizard was a perfect spot for a large group with feral children. Having ridden all day, beer and anything fried was the order of the evening. Upon returning to the Stanford House, everyone began to settle in for the night.

After a failed attempt to start the massive fire pit, Siobhan Blake and Chris B. channeled their inner Rambo and siphoned jet fuel from a nearby passenger liner to "accelerate" the process. I miss having eyebrows. Shanna and I reminisced about the Golden State, and Lydia broke out the Martin acoustic and played some music for the house in the cozy and acoustically sufficient living room. roll: customer John Scott arrived late with his wife and two kids, but made themselves part of the group quickly.With a raging and presumably deadly inferno outside, and Lyd playing inside, everyone seemed to be quietly rolling in to that fuzzy area between wiped out asleep and "let's stay up all night." I had made the mistake of strapping on the lights and hammering out an extra thirty miles, rolling north past the historic Frazee House before turning around. Holding an average speed like that on a mountain bike ain't easy, and I paid for it on Sunday.

Sleep came quickly to all who got horizontal. The beds are amazing in the house, and nobody failed to mention how all-enveloping the snooze-a-riffic comforters were on the beds. Nighty-night hit about midnight. Everyone was up and ready Sunday a.m. by 8. The temp was just below freezing, so the decision was made to wait until 10a.m. to begin coffee and lies about how fast we are quickly filled the house.

The deal was this. Ride the perfectly groomed tow-path to Botsam Station near Akron, board the last train of the year, and ride it north the stop above Boston Mill, and ride back before heading home. One mile in, Barry blew his spoke. Again. Barry is not a large man. How this happened is still a mystery...or IS IT? Colonel Mustard WAS seen in the study with a candlestick, so who knows. Letting out the rear brake and removing the pads completely, Big B finished the ride tough-guy style. Barely making the north bound train by minutes, everyone was overjoyed with the prospect of warm grub and a final push home. The tow path can occupy an entire weekend with all the historic placards explaining the locks, mills, boat yards and stone quarrys in the area. Highly recommended.

We disembarked at Brecksville Station. Five miles back to Boston Mill. It was on. Siobhan, Chris B. and I pinned it with no rest stops at all..two mountain bikes and a BMC Street Machine.
It was fun averaging 19.5 m.p.h. on a fat-tired mountain bike with Siobhan for that entire run.

Chris has been riding a lot, and has learned to go with every attack just to get faster. It paid off, and we found ourselves pace-lining back to Boston Mill. Lyd and Luka were there awaiting our return, and after recovering and talking about all the endangered species we could eat with cheese and bacon on the top, we split up and everyone called it a weekend.

Some things to ask people about for the week....bother Chris B. about how he grabbed a stray black cat by the neck in attempt to get the two park rangers from wasting three more hours of tax-payer funded gas money waiting for the animal to enter a cage.

Be sure to ask Lydia about the much longer than necessary hugs she was finding herself involved in with Barry. Then ask Barry about how he beat up that kid's fist with his face on a road ride the day before we left.

Ask Shanna to perform a cheer for you from her san Diego high school. Really..she will totally do it.

Ask Siobhan how she managed to start a raging the rain..with nothing more than a cel phone and a Whiffle Ball bat.

I'd like to personally thank all who took the chance this weekend and made the Awesomefest a really memorable weekend escape. I hope that all of you sign up for the next one, which I'll begin planning right now...

Monday, October 03, 2011

Ara's Near-Death Temecula Race Report

Yesterday was the last race of the season, the one day State Championships, over at Vail Lake Resort in Temecula. Mark Thome and I represented Backbone with only a handful of other racers. Turnout was low but the place was nice, hopefully we can have more races there in the next season.

The weather was warm, especially for a 1:15 start time, so hydrating was key before and durning the... race. Topped off with Amino Vital Endurance and Shortstack would be the feeder of great performance drinks during the race. Sadly, I limped in only to complete one lap of the three.

Had a good start, Tomac Type-X was running greatl, Kenda Karma and Small Block 8's were gripping great on the loose soil, until that faithful corner on one of the canyon descents. Came into the turn way too hot and caught a hidden rut under the sand and PLOWED into the ground. It happened so fast. My shoulder popped out (2nd time) which I luckily popped back in, wrist was mangled, handlebar was totally twisted and I couldnt get it straight. After a few minutes of catching my breath and doing a 100 point inspection, I really thought I had broken ribs as I tried to ride to the finish line. Could not grip or put pressure on my right side. Eased into the finish line and called it quits. The medic there was nice enough to check me over and clean up a massive gash on my forearm. Ribs are not cracked, but really bruised. Knee has a hole in it. Too keep it short my whole right side hurts. Always wear a helmet, saved my noggin.

Royal signature gloves held up and did not tear. Testament to the boys over in Colorado and the work that they do. Sigma Rox computer did not break or shatter, held up and still working. Spinergy Xcyclone wheels are still true after some knarly crashes. Roger at Kenda is a great sponsor that works for the peoples. Ryder sunglasses are still usable and not even scratched. Shortstack for making the trip out there and supporting the crew. Everybody else that I forgot to mention because of the mild concussion.

Going to take a few days off, maybe a week, but will recover and ride in some cross races. Had a good season despite the knee injury and crashes, looking forward to next year and improving more and more. It is all good and fun. Enjoy!

Thanks to all ,


Saturday, October 01, 2011

SIGMA EVO Lights In Dirt Rag Magazine!

The current issue of Dirt Rag Magazine is out, and SIGMA's new EVO light system got top nods for their bright-as-a-solar-flare bar mount light offering. If you see Tookie at night, ask him about his SIGMA lighting system!