Thursday, December 29, 2011

Call me Curmudgeon

In my end of year gear post I made mention to me waffling back and forth between upgrading to a carbon fork or getting hydro brakes.  I was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do for next year.  Each option had their pros and cons and I would randomly talk myself both in and out of each decision quite frequently for awhile.

I thought I had figured it out at the time of that post and hydro brakes it was.  Then Bully told me to man up and get the carbon fork and for a bit I was waffling again.  Then today I realized that I wasn't actually waffling between two choices, I was at odds with both choices independently at the same time...get it?

I have always been somewhat of a no-nonsense racer/rider.  Always err on the side of simplicity and durability.  I think that is why I took to SS so readily.  Investing large sums of money to drop weight and increase maintenance has never really jive'd with me.  I would much rather have a solid fork that works just fine and I know can take a beating and brakes that work just fine and I can fully service myself quickly and cheaply.   I don't want to worry about applying the correct torque to a carbon steer tube and have to bleed possibly corrosive DOT brake fluid if my brakes go least not right now.  I've upgraded to a tubeless config for this year, that is going to be my tech advancement for this season.  I am going to master the crap out of that so that I can fully and easily maintain it from my shop.  We'll see what that does for me this coming year and if I get fast enough maybe then my curmudgeoness will fade and I will demand the finest and most expensive tech.

In the mean time I put my BB7s back on, mounted the rotors on the new wheels, cabled everything up (quickly and easily) and threw the new grips on.

As is it comes in at about 22lbs even (just using a little home scale with me shouldering the bike).  Not the most accurate measure but probably a good estimate on reality.  It will be rideable with pedals, a chain, cog and cassette spacers which at most will add another pound or so.  Not too shabby and as is I am about $400 richer without one of those upgrades on the horizon.  That means plenty more funds for actual race fees, or gas or nutrition.  So maybe I won't be going quite as fast as I could but I'll be able to easily afford to go slow way more often.  Besides this is just more motivation to work harder...didn't end up spending the money to drop an extra 1000g?  Better HTFU.

Black IPA...India Black Ale...Cascadian Dark

To date I had been calling my next homebrew endeavor a Black IPA but as I have done some of my due diligence to familiarize myself with the style I have found that there is still some contention in the upper echelons of the Brew World as to appropriate naming and characteristics.

I had heard lots of chatter lately about this somewhat newer style that was making the rounds and I was intrigued.  Seemed like a interesting mix of styles that I like.  Turns out this is still pretty cutting edge as far as brewing goes and the community appears to still be 'hashing this one out'.  Only analogy I can think of that more people might understand is dog breeds and the folks at Westminster.  Just about everyone knows that there are 'x' official dog breeds as far as the governing body is concerned and every other dog is just a 'mutt'.  Beer is kind of the same way.  People mix and match styles all the time but every now again some sort mix differentiates itself for whatever reason and those characteristics are deemed desirable enough to want to repeat and over time new breeds or brews are declared 'official'.  Its in that declaration that things get tricky.

Who mixed it/bred it first? What exactly should it be called? Should it be named by the founder or original brewer/breeder or by the governing body?  Who the hell governs beer?  Who really cares about any of this?

From what I can tell there is one camp who says a style that pretty much matches with this type of beer has been being brewed up in the Pacific Northwest for some time now which those folks have been calling a Cascadian Dark Ale.  Some people have gone with the simple Black IPA because most of the style adheres to IPA qualities with the main difference being that it is black and not pale.  Problem is the P in IPA stands for Pale.  So that obviously leads us to removing that P for Pale and inserting a B for Black...India Black Ale.  Seems the most logical thing to do to me.  And don't get me started on the folks who think all this hoo-haa is really just an Imperial Stout in a fancy dress.  So call it what you will...a rose by any other name right?  Bill Shakespeare knew what was up.

6oz of 4 different types of hops: Cascade, Summit, Centennial & Chinook

I can't wait to go through this whole tirade every time someone asks me what I'm brewing currently or when they ask me what they are drinking.  Maybe I'll just whip up some business cards with a QR Code that links to this post.  What do you think Shaun, does that jive with your inbound sensibilities?  Maybe yes, maybe no but I can guarantee it will be inbound to your stomach come Spring time.  Sneak some up to Cannon and toast one on the deck in early April?  See you there.

Monday, December 26, 2011

End of Year Gear Extravaganza

Christmas has come and gone and now its time to look ahead to 2012 full force and mess with all my new gear of course!

I've got a full week of 'forced vacation' to mess with new toys, brew some beer, ponder upgrade choices, finally get some time on the slopes, etc., etc.

My race bike has begun to take its new form for next year, the bike shop has moved into the basement this year on account of I hate working on bikes in a 20 degree shed.  FYI metal gets real cold when it sits out in the cold.  I got a few new bits for xmas this year to get me rolling.  I bought myself some new wheels before the holidays, my Dad got me a new crank/bb, and Gina got me a new stem and grips.

Wheels are Stan's ZTR Crests, running tubeless with some Maxxis Ignitors on there right now, I stuck with the 180mm Stylo cranks and a new Stylo Race stem.  Not sure what makes a stem 'Race' but I'm sure I'll be faster now.  I had contemplated hard about going to a full carbon fork but lately I have been waffling on that a lot.  The fork I wanted was pretty expensive and I'm having a hard time mentally qualifying spending that much money in essence to just drop some weight and maybe increase some chatter absorption.  I think dropping the weight in my wheels as well as running tubeless now with be enough of an improvement in that realm and I feel like spending some of the money I was saving for the fork on a nice set of hydro brakes might be a better investment.  That way I improve the bikes weight and ride feel as well as its stopping power.  Now I just need to figure out which brakes I am going to go with...

I am really liking the bikes weight right now and most of the stuff I need to add isn't very substantial weight wise: cog, chain, pedals, brakes, grips thats it.

I also scored all kinds of GoPro accessories.  Very much looking forward to doing a bunch more filming this winter.  I got the vented helmet mount for another angle while biking, a grab bag full of various mounts to mix and match and some of the moisture absorbing strips to try and combat those issues I had while filming the Mighty Chicken vid

I'm also running a fairly hilarious inventory of Cytomax now as well as Clif Bloks and Stinger waffles.  Or more appropriately murder juice, murder bloks and murder waffles.

As for beer, its been a long time coming but this week I will finally be getting my next batch going.  A Black IPA with a full 6oz of hops!  YeeHaaaaa, can't wait to drink some of that after a sweet day of spring skiing in a few months.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cold Crank Challenge 2011

A 29er! A 29er! My kingdom for a 29er!

Well the Y has been nothing but fun since I built it but today it met its match, at least with me riding it.  We were a match made in hell today for sure.  I think I may be able to take my work today and apply for a minor in Physics at PSU with all of the lessons I learned trying to pick 29er lines through the craggy stuff.  I can totally ride that line! **explosion**.  I guess from here on out if I want to go fast I need big hoops and no squish.

Luckily I at least got my layering right and surprisingly I was actually pretty comfortable during the race.  A few short moments where I felt like I was overheating and a few short moments when I was cold, other than that comfortable.  Can't ask for much better temp management than that trying to do hard cardio work outside on Dec 10th.

I rode the first half lap at the pace of / and choosing lines like I was racing my Redline.  And I must have looked like a complete spaz.  A local rider, Dave, told me I looked 'a little out of sorts'.  Thanks for being nice Dave but lets be honest I'm sure I was way closer to jack-ass than out of sorts.  I probably fell or dabbed about 126 times and finally decided this whole racing thing wasn't working out for me on this day and I slowed things up in an effort to not do something stupid and ruin my ski season.  BUT I did make sure to air out a little drop every lap where they had a photog set up.  I really hope I get to see some of those pics.  I hit it 4 times so at least one of them has to be awesome.  This whole thing was worth it if I can get a sweet pic of me tail-whipping a Y-frame. Ok fine there was no tail whipping but its still gonna be gnar (I hope).

 it WAS all worth it!

The fast guys just started lapping me as I was finishing off what I decided was my last lap (I did 4, top guys got 5).  Andy Gould came by and asked me if I was racing in the Duo Team division.  Which is a different way of saying "Why are you going so slow?".  But I will choose to interpret it as "Oh hey Kevin, I'm surprised to see you so far back in the field because usually you are pretty fast."

It's probably just as well that things weren't working out because the Y was starting to take a beating.  I cleaned it off when I got home but didn't have the gusto to really get in there to check everything out but I'm fairly certain the rear shock may have cashed in its chips, I believe both hubs are loose and probably need rebuilds, brakes were definitely all screwed up.  Oh well, it isn't likely I would be getting much more mileage this season anyway.  I'm hoping to be on snow exclusively any week now.

The race itself went off great.  Good turn out for Dec with about 50 riders in attendance.  Course was challenging for sure.  I didn't stick around for results or awards because of my lack luster showing but NEMBA Racing had a pretty good day with Shawn and Carl both in the top 10 (I think).  Lis mentioned this was over double the turn out from last year.  Good to see that MTB racing in NE is back in a big way, even in December.