Oh Hey.

What’s up everyone?  Hopefully you are all getting your miles in and having a great time, regardless of our never ending winter of doom.  I know I speak for most of the midwestern cyclists (and most other people here also) when I say Mother Nature needs to show a little more kindness to us outdoors type folks.  I had a great time riding in all kinds of crap weather this winter, but GODDAMNIT THERE IS A LIMIT TO MY FAKE ENJOYMENT OF WINTER CYCLING AND WE PASSED THAT POINT ABOUT APRIL 5TH.

Anyway, wanted to check in with a few things.  A few events have passed and I haven’t produced any ride reports or product opinions,  nor any bike trend predictions.  It’s probably been pretty dull for the three of you who read this here bike blog type thing, so here’s an abridged version of the last two months.

CIRREM 10: Didn’t do it BUT I GOT MY SHIRT! (This is my official race report)

Revelate Mag Tank Bag: Tops the list of “don’t leave home without it” gear

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Gent’s Race 7 Careless Whispers

Gent’s Race 8: The Careless Whispers once again proved why we are the longest lasting continuous team by all showing up on time and ready to rock.  I love these guys, and we had a great year again.  Actual ride report to follow.

Project Pink: Has become my main bike for the time being, and it’s proving to be a real beast of an All-Road setup. It’s done the “every type of road” days like a champ, and the “all-road aka roads only” days have been great.

Porcelain Rocket “Nigel” bag: Was very skeptical about this handle bar bag at first, but goddamn if it isn’t some killer kit.  More on that later.

Sinewave Beacon: It’s bulletproof and pricey, one of my favorite combos.  More on that later.

tumblr_namg5c6rap1t8enq1o1_400#RoadIsTheNewGravel: You read it correctly. Gravel is out, road is back in. HTFU, butterstuff, your comfy #supplelife is a lie and gravel is no longer lit.

The Stoker is still stoking away, but now has her own single bike, a Surly Straggler 650b and I’m a little jealous of it. That sea foam green looks great next to Pink. 650b Crew 4 Life. hahaha.

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Good Intentions Tour 2017 lasted a record low of 26 miles. 

I’m planning out this year’s “Good Intentions Tour” and it looks like a toss up between dirt bagging and my normal Bag Bike thing.  I feel like this year should be a ride to another state border and back, seems poignant in today’s political climate. Or maybe it will be blazing hot out and I just stay home and do some grilling.  Who knows?

According to Strava I have ridden 889 miles this year as of 4/17/18.  My low end goal is 5k miles for 2018, so I’m a little behind goal pace.  Those miles will all get made up soon.

That’s it for checking in. Winter, kick rocks. Ride Bikes.

CNB

Writing Gravel

The good folks over at RidingGravel.Com have a site full of useful information for those of us who prefer rocks to road.  It’s a solid resource for thorough new gear reviews, very important as gravel supplies are not cheap, bike news, events, and a very active and what is probably my favorite forum.  RGDC is home to a few of my my favorite people, Guitar Ted and MG, and a few other folk I hope to get to meet in person at some point.  What I’m saying here is that you should go visit this site if you are of Gravel Mind and Body, they have the goods.

All of the contributors at RGDC are Dirt Accomplished in their own right, so it is an honor to have been tapped by GT to make some contributions to their site.  I sincerely hope that every post that I submit to RGDC lives up to their standards, and helps guide Grinders in their Grinding Life.

My first article is up this week, it’s about a subject near and dear to my heart, Dyno Hub Lighting.  You can read it here.

I encourage you to visit the site, do some exploring, and maybe make some connections with like minded folk on the forum.  What’s the worst that could happen, you have even more fun in the dirt?

Sam CNB

 

I’m OVER IT.

Warning: I’m pissed.

Last night I took my first ride in a few weeks to check out the newly reopened Grand Ave Bridge.  The bridge, a main thoroughfare between the East Village and the Court Ave district, has been closed for over a year, and those of us with businesses or residences downtown have been patiently awaiting this opening day.  I mounted up on Pink and hopped a block south to the new Protected Bike Lanes that run down Grand Ave from Pennsylvania Ave to the bridge.  Beard pointed west, I was bridgeward bound.

It’s taken a while to get used to having the Protected Bike Lanes in my neighborhood.  Even though I’m (obviously) a cyclist, the adjustment to this new feature has been a little slow.  I spent the last three-plus months driving a giant box van through this, makes the car lanes seem a little anemic (they aren’t), and dealing with having total protection from cars feels weird.  I guess I’m so used to dodging giant metal weapons that to not have that worry is worrisome in its own right.  Kind of a sick way to think of it, and not in a DO THE DEW KORN SNOWBOARD PUKA SHELL kind of sick.  Like Stockholm Syndrome sick.  Now that I’ve had time to adjust, though, I’m in love with the PBL’s.  I’ve stopped jig jagging around on side streets to get to and from home, I can just ride up and down Grand, just like I would drive.  It’s nice.  Thank you to all who have made that happen.

The Bridge is only partially open, as the crews are still finishing up some curbs and edges, and they are putting in PBL’s in that run all the way to 2nd Ave.  This is really amazing.  I’m hoping that in the future the city decides to make these protected lanes run Grand Ave all the way west to 63rd in West Des Moines. That would be super cool. Wink. Hint. I crossed the bridge, then across 2nd Ave, on to the weird side switch the bike lane makes at 3rd (please fix this nonsense sometime), then down to 7th to swing around to Locust Ave and come back east towards the Grand Bridge again.

Cars were breathing down my neck on Locust, cyclists and motorists forced to coexist in the same space by “Sharrows,” and today to ill effect.  I rode the last block towards 2nd ave in the left turn lane, made the turn onto 2nd floating over to the far right so that I may make a right turn back onto Grand Ave, a car pulled up near me and yelled “GET THE FUCK OFF MY STREET MOTHERFUCKER!” then sped north on 2nd, the driver flipping me off, then the passenger joined in as I flipped the bird back and shouted a hearty and customary “FUCK YOU” to the two.  Judging by their intolerant nature and the vehicle graffiti’d up with 90’s Nu-Metal Band decals and Hot Topic/Spencer’s stickers my two verbal assailants and hobbyist bird keepers were probably in a hurry to get to their meth dealer or their job begrudgingly making pizzas at a convenience store , and could not be bothered to stop to SAY THAT SHIT TO MY FUCKING FACE.  Well played, gentlemen. Well played indeed.

Now, I would like to chalk this incident up as isolated and due to the current sociopolitical climate in which those with intolerant ideals feel emboldened by those in power to speak their mind, no matter how small that mind may be.  BUT, sadly, this is how it has always been for those of us who choose to travel by two wheels rather than four.  I have been called every derogatory name in the book, I have had people get out of their cars and attack me with weapons, I have been hit by cars, I have had death threats shouted at me from cars, I have had many friends struck by cars and A FEW OF THEM WERE KILLED.  Why?  Because people see “bike culture” as some sort of threat.  Cyclists “don’t follow the laws, they don’t pay taxes, they don’t buy gas, they aren’t American, THEY TOOK OUR LANES.”

I’M THROUGH WITH THE DEBATES AND THE IGNORANCE AND THE BACKWARD FUCKWADS WHO THINK THAT ATTACKING ME, OR ANYONE ELSE, ON A BIKE IS A GOOD IDEA.  If you don’t like bikes on the roads, FUCK YOU.  STAY HOME. If you don’t like to share the road, FUCK YOU. Take another road, asshole. IF YOU THINK THAT INTIMIDATING ME OR ANYONE ON A BIKE WITH YOUR 3 THOUSAND POUND WEAPON OF AN AUTOMOBILE IS A GOOD IDEA, be prepared for some fucking backlash. I’M OVER IT. If you can’t accept that there are laws in place, oh hell if you can’t have the COMMON DECENCY to treat others with respect or at least respect their right to breath air and exist, then FUCK YOU. YOU ARE FUCKING TRASH.

I know, it sounds a little harsh and we should probably all work together to make things work for everyone and all that sharing is caring shit, but I don’t fucking care about it anymore.  I care about people staying alive. I care about people being safe I care about you.  Unless you are some douche that is against me riding a bike. Then I would still like you to be safe, but seriously FUCK YOU.

Gloves are OFF, and discussion is OVER.  You come at me with your cowardly drive by expletives, better hope I don’t catch up to you.  You want to threaten my life with your car, be prepared to either take me the fuck out or face some fierce backlash. It’s not going to end well for either of us. I promise.

Stay safe out there, and Happy Holidays

CNB

A Colossal Ride

It’s been a pretty rough year for cycling here at CNB.  Injuries, mechanicals, work, family stuff, more injuries, blogging, extreme heat, and other assorted crap have gotten in the way of enjoying the normal amount of time that would normally spent in the saddle.  I’ve lost a bunch of weight and started making much healthier choices, but The Fitness Train hasn’t pulled into the terminal yet.  Now that it’s practically the end of summer (aka cross is coming), it’s time to get that Pain Pass punched.   This week I am doing an assessment of where I am at and where I’m headed, making a plan for this fall/winter, and putting together a rough training program to follow for next spring’s cycling.

By “Doing An Assessment,” I mean riding bikes.  Project Pink is down for the count as Rassy’s figures out what SRAM is going to do about my faulty crank arm, so it’s time to bust out the road bike for some base miles.  Yeah, base miles are starting in August this year.  Wow.  So far this week I have assessed that I am in no shape or form to toe the line at DAMN or Gravel Worlds (although I still plan on trying to make it down to Lincoln for the hanging out), and that it’s going to be a rough road to Spotted Horse, which is also a bunch of rough roads.  I may do some SS cross this fall, I haven’t raced in a few years and I think it’s time to add some CX back into the mix.  I may even look at doing some road events (not crits) for some fun.  I mean, I just wanna have some fun. I want to make use of this weight loss. I want to have fun on the bike again, something that has been elusive through my health problems and fitness issues.  I know many of you reading can relate to this in your own way.  I would really like to hear from you all.

IMG_6754Anyway, this is the bike I’m riding while waiting for Pink to come back to life, a stripped down version of my “road packing” rig (because everything is “________ packing” these days).  2015 Salsa Ti Colossal, Nextie carbon wheels with my favorite White Industries/Son28 hub combo (built by Ed at Beaverdale Bikes, who builds all of my wheels and should build all of yours), Panaracer “Gravel King” 28’s, SRAM Red Etap, Thomson Stem/Seatpost, Selle Anatomica saddle.  The bike was built by up by Matt at Rasmussen Bike Shop in West Des Moines, IA. Matt is my go-to for the tough/frustrating stuff that I can’t do, and the pricey stuff that I shouldn’t be allowed to install/work on to begin with.  Thanks to Matt and Ed, I have a few pretty nice rides.  Thanks, guys.

Anyway, I need to go ride that fine uh….ride.  Have a great rest of the week, and keep that rubber side down!

Sam

CNB

Carving Slayer Into My Life

Reign-in-BloodI turned 13 in 1986, the year that Slayer’s classic album “Reign In Blood” was released.  I remember thumbing through cassettes at Uncle John’s Records in Sioux City,  meeting what would ultimately be one of the most influential and loved albums in my life for the first time.  Staring up at me was a simple “Slayer – Reign In Blood” beckoning for my hand to reach forth.  As I lifted it from its cassette limbo, I turned the case to see the wicked Larry Carroll illustration of demons, blood, and other evil figures all residing in a hellish tomb.  The story goes that guitarist Kerry King* hated the cover originally, saying it was “not very metal” in a 1987 interview, but later had the realization that the cover had in fact redefined metal album covers to an extent.  That moment I instantly fell in love.

As a young boy I was exposed to some of the darker classical composers such as Chopin and Holst through my grandmother. I had also been raised by my Mother on Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, and Queen, who all had their darker sides, and as a mentally troubled youth all of this kind of kept me on an even keel.  The darker, heavier, or faster (or much slower), the better. Since elementary school I had been buying my own tapes, choosing Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, and early Def Leppard, then Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Ozzy, and writing this I realize I probably should have ended up with a mullet and a Camaro. I had picked up Anthrax’s “Spreading The Disease,” Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning” and Megadeth’s “Killing Is My Business” some months before seeing Reign in Blood in that store rack, and those albums were mind blowing, even for someone who searched out the most “extreme” music he could get in small town Iowa as a kid (some would say my love of Frank Zappa and Weird Al were also very extreme, but those will be written about another day).

The first time my ear drums were punished with the opening to “Angel Of Death.” all those albums just fell to the wayside.  It was just RAW AS FUCK, I had heard nothing even close to this ever in all my music searching.  It exploded out of the gate like a thousand nuclear hell hounds, each clawing and shredding at my brain, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman holding the riff leashes of those hounds and guiding them towards my destruction.  Then came that famous scream from Tom Araya, possibly the most famous scream in all of metal. The speed, the riffs, the reckless, atonal solos, just a total cacophony, and the blasting drums of Dave Lombardo, it was almost too much.  I remember well the mile-wide smile that cracked the surface of my oily pubescent face.  THIS is what I had been waiting for.

Then came the fifth track, Jesus Saves. The opening riff to this beast will forever send a shiver through my body.  Here I was, all jacked up on speed metal riffing and blasting drums, then comes this monolithic pedal tone riff.  It was, and still is, crushing.  It’s like a half time break in the middle of armageddon, picking up to a solid mid-paced thrashing. That opening riff, I will forever bust that riff out while soundchecking, testing microphone placement, or just hanging out being an ass at a guitar store.  It has been melted into my mind.

The rest of the album is a ripper, ending with “Raining Blood,” Slayer’s calling card song, but that opening riff from “Jesus Saves” will always be my favorite piece from this album of iconic riffing.  It’s really tough to pick from an album that is literally just end to end golden, blood soaked riffs, but it’s the one that still stirs me from within.

Reign In Blood busted open the flood gates of speed metal for me, after my first listen I needed more.  Morbid Angel, Halloween, Mercyful Fate, Napalm Death, Carcass, Kreator, Fate’s Warning, Overkill, and Coroner all followed closely behind, if it was fast, or intricate, or bombastic, I was in. I’m still in to this very day. If you have a moment, cue up track 5 on your copy of Reign In Blood, max out your volume, and fire it up.

Sam

CNB

This was the first of a series of articles about the music that has guided my life, I hope you enjoy the meandering recollections.  

*the same guy who covered himself in ridiculous “tribal” tattoos, then used them as his brand’s calling card. Yeah, also not very metal.

A Few Of My Faves

CNB Bike Related Favorites Listing:

  1. Sarah Cooper – “Coop” is a local central Iowa endurance cycling beast. She has been on the “podium” of many of the midwest’s nastiest endurance races, and last year she flat out won Race Across The West, which qualified her for even more punishment in this year’s RAAM.  She won the Women’s Solo category in RAAM last month riding 3,070.28 miles in 11 days, 18 hours and 56 minutes, which also put her in 10th overall among these elite racers.  I will hopefully get to talk with her about her experience sometime soon and transcribe that here. Click on her name up there and read about it all from her own words.  Also, she put on a little thing called the Spotted Horse Ultra, a punishing 150 or 200 mile gravel race in central Iowa. (Sarah if you are reading this, I’m sorry I missed the party, work got a little crazy.)
  2. RidingGravel.com – It’s got the goods, and they know their stuff. Click the link and learn a few things.
  3. BikePacking.com – Have you ever had a question about Bikepacking (DirtBagging)? These folks probably have the answer. A wealth of knowledge for all you who like your touring dirty, or all of those who aspire, it’s worth a click.
  4. Compass Snoqualmie Pass Tires – These 700cx44mm tan-wall beauties are the big sibling in the “pass” line. Mine are in the ulra supple “extra light casing” model, and ride so nice I’d like to put these on pretty much any of my bikes that would fit them. Highly recommended.
  5. J-Paks GravelPak – It’s the “Baby Bear’s Porridge” of seat packs.  This Pak is the ultimate seat pack for long day rides, packing wet weather gear on your commuter, or keeping your “ride kit*” handy in an easily transferrable package. This thing has lived on many of my bikes over the last 10 months.
  6. Pink (the color) – I’m way into pink right now. There’s Project Pink, and it was reaaaaaally difficult to avoid trying to put pink ano everything on this beauty. If you have pink ano parts for sale, let me know. I’m starting to horde them for a rebuild of one of my current bikes.
  7. TAN WALLS TIL SNOW FALLS – That’s my new mantra.  The Compass line of tires has nothing but tan wall goodness, and the WTB Byway set waiting to go on Pink are a lovely tan wall. Maxxis, Panaracer, and many more can provide you with those lovely walls of tan. Tan is the new Black.
  8. Speed Metal Cycling Podcast – This is the only way I like to experience the thrills and chills of professional road racing, through the hilarious insight of Dan Skullcrusher, Klaus, Natalia, and Mike.  It’s amazing how a few huge doping scandals soiled this sport for me for life.  I remember getting the Tour De France special editions of the bike magazines when I was a kid, seeing these heroic young (and some old) men just destroy themselves in the name of winning “just a bike race.” Decades later we all find out they were also destroying themselves with performance enhancing drugs.  It’s a shame that road racing was just a sham the whole time. I’m totally in to not watching the Tour, but listening to these lovely creatures discuss the tour is awe inspiring. They also have a Name That Colombian page that coaches you on how to properly pronounce the names of Colombian racers. Very helpful.
  9. Dirt Bagging > Bike Packing – Tomato/Potato situation.
  10. Trans Iowa 14 – NO, this hasn’t been announced, and I half expect that TIV13 may have been the last year, but I’m sure GT will be reading this and I want him to know at least ONE person is thinking about what to do with his fall/spring “free time.”

Sam

CNB

*tools, tubes, air, rain gear, lock, burrito, whatever you take with you on the reg.

Less Breathless

As the tens of you who have been reading along here know, I have recently hit a brick wall with my health.  I had been eating like a huge asshole, and I do mean huge, to the point where not even riding was helping out. I was the heaviest that I’ve even been in my life, a full 70 lbs more than when I was in “racing shape,” and I felt it.  My joints ached, my hips were really unhappy on long rides, I would get out of breath putting on my cycling shoes, and I realized I had been lying to myself about what was going on with my health.  It was time for a change.

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I’ve gone from milkshakes to smoothies.

This week I have hit another milestone. I put my Sidis on without having to gasp for air. This may not seem like something to brag about, but in my 18″ of space it is a reason to celebrate.  When I weighed in yesterday, I had gone from 302.8 to 288.2 lbs in one week. There was a full week prior to my initial weigh in that was undocumented, I would say that based on losing 14+ in the past week, my actual weight at the start was closer to 310-315 lbs. (my poor wheels). I’ve dropped about my first 20, and I am already feeling great. My shirts are fitting better, my mood is better, and I don’t feel as sluggish on the bike. I’m excited, as the weight loss has been from simply changing my diet and getting adjusted to eating Vegan again. I haven’t joined a gym, I have actually been riding less due to being fairly busy, I simply cut out meat, dairy, cheese, etc. This wasn’t an abrupt change, I had been planning this and purging my pantry and fridge for two months, and I have spent a few years eating Vegan in the past, so the groundwork was laid.  I just needed motivation like failing at a bike race that by all means I should have been able to finish.

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Tofu Scramble, Spinach, Tater Crowns, Home Made Vegan Biscuits w/Fig Preserves. Breakfast of Champions.

The Stoker is pleased that I’ve decided to actually look out for my health instead of plowing through life expecting things to just be ok, even though things were most decidedly NOT ok. We are looking forward to a summer of cycling, I’ve decided to cut back my “race” schedule a bit and focus on using 2017 as a recovery year from the past few years of just letting myself go.  It’s time to rebuild, have fun, and get things going the right direction again.

Sam, CNB