Saturday, April 30, 2011

The NZ Crew: A Race Around Lake Hawea

The B.P.R. race season (race?) is coming to an end down in New Zealand. (Maybe) So, before the snow flies and the ski slopes open, the B.P.R. NZ crew set out on a friendly 125km ride around Lake Hawea.

Friendly? Come on, there is always a brutal race going on at the Back of the Pack. Seriously, there is. And it AIN'T friendly. (I love the word Ain't.)

Check it out -> The Race Around Lake Hawea -

The NZ Crew:

It's great to see the B.P.R. NZ crew sporting the plaid and patches down on the South Island. Too bad I'm not there to drink their beer and eat their pizza. Next year.

Anyway, the NZ crew not only embraces the B.P.R. Operating Instructions, they've added a few NZ options unique to the NZ lifestyle. 1) must pack beer for the race, 2) must stop mid race to drink the beer and pizza. No joke, jokester.

Yes. The Lt Col is famous for eating pizza during a race - but The Lt Col usually tries to wolf down 2 slices during a slow, hard climb. Well, there is no such urgency down under in NZ. I think.

You are curious. Aren't you? Why would the NZ crew stop to drink the beer and eat the pizza? Because a) they can and b) they're smart. It's better to enjoy the experience, enjoy the adventure. The NZ crew is a bit more laid back. The NZ crew realizes that the race within the race is at the Back of the Pack.

New Zealand is the ultimate when it comes to Mountain Biking and single speed freaks. Just look at the photo at the end of the post. Where else on Earth would a few dudes take a jet boat to the trails? Crazy! Awesome! Anyway the B.P.R. NZ crew consists of a strong 3, maybe. Dan and Jasper are flying the flag and pushing the cause forward. Henry, The Organizer & The Responsible one of The Ultimate Adventure definitely earned his Full Membership by going above and beyond the call of duty. But The Responsible One may be too responsible to slum around at the Back of the Pack. Maybe. But B.P.R. Patches were sent 1/2 around the world and are clearly on display at all major SS endurance events. So I'm told.

Future Recruits?

B.P.R. is following the single speed revolution around the world. We are growing, growing slowly. And New Zealand is the ultimate place to grow the team, spread the word and evolve the lifestyle. So we will see what happens. There are a number of dudes & dudettes that could push the movement forward. Only one problem. I'm out of patches and I cut up my credit cards. Maybe I need to find a 2nd job so I can outfit the new recruits. Uh, nope. Maybe the new recruits should get the 2nd job to outfit The Judd. Yeah. That's it.

Moving to NZ:

I'm headed back to NZ in early 2012 for a few weeks of riding, racing and hell raising. I keep telling The Madre that I probably won't return to The Land of Enchantment. The Madre just looks at me as if I'm crazy. Maybe I am.

So, why would I travel to NZ and not return to The Great Southwest?
  1. Because it would be fun.
  2. Why Not. You only live once. I think
  3. The Aliens are coming. The world is ending on Dec 21, 2012. So I'm resigning from all my responsibilities as soon as we enter 2012 - the last year of our existence on Planet Earth. Yep, on Earth. I'm pretty sure the Aliens will abduct me and take me to the official Single Speed Paradise. I'm a believer. Believers move to the front of the line.
The Race, I mean Ride:

Dan sent me a few notes on the Race Around Lake Hawea. I'll summarize the events - just to ensure Dan doesn't hunt me down for plagiarism.
  • The race started at 7AM. Pizza and Pizza Picnic at 12:20. That's a long 5 hrs & 20 min.
    • Jasper was lagging behind Dan. Sounds like a friendly B.P.R. rivalry. Friendly?
  • Dan finished the 125 km around 3PM - an 8 hr 'race'.
    • Jasper was lagging, again, over the last 20km.
    • Dan, on his Blackbuck, had to throw a toe line to the dude wearing red plaid and riding the Black Sheep. Yeah. Friendly rivalry. 
    • Sounds like Dan is dominating Jasper just like The Judd dominates The Lt Col.
  • The B.P.R. NZ crew is totally 'down' with the endurance stuff. They realize that a SS freak can go out for 8 hours, devour some pizza & beer and still roll in with an acceptable time. 
    • Yeah, it's amazing how all those gears and derailers and mechanical problems slow down dudes & dudettes. The SS freak can just roll with flow and grind out the miles.
  • Back of the Pack is known around the world. A NZ B.P.R. fan called out to Dan and Jasper - "Hey - Back of the Pack Dudes". 
    • Yep. The revolution, the lifestyle at the Back of the Pack is catching on. 
    • Ok. I'll snap out of this dream, someday.
A Few Pics:
Jasper rockin' the red plaid
Awesome Black Sheep

The Plaid & The Patches

A Cold Start?

Chaos @ the Back of the Pack

The lake at 8am.
Jasper sporting the red plaid on his wicked Black Sheep - fully rigid, of course

Dan's Blackbuck on the Epic Tour
What's a Blackbuck?

Making Progress
Not much longer
The beer and pizza is calling
by the way - the fork was locked out - says Dan

Jasper having fun
Since when is single speed torture fun? 
Oh, it's always fun

Jasper reaching terminal velocity on his sheep
Isn't Jasper on the wrong side of the road? Seriously

Pizza & Beer

The Legendary Pit Stop
NZ hospitality - farmers feeding the 'racers'

Beached the Jet Boat

The Jet Boat
Standard Transportation - to and from the trails.
This picture is from Todd (Black Sheep Bikes) and Dan's Oct 2010 adventure

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coco Macho 200 = A Coco Loco Bike Packing Adventure

The Morale Chairman, Mad Rhino and The Judd headed out on a classic adventure @ The Back of the Pack. Yes, three dudes and three attitudes and three cogs hit the trails outside of Flagstaff. The Goal: Survive. The Duration: 4 Days. The Details: Keep Reading.

If you're here for pictures - follow the link... Coco Macho 200 pictures, 230+ in 3 pages.

The Background:

After we recovered from the Arizona Hurricane at the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo - we convinced ourselves, convinced The Team, to tackle the Arizona 300. So. We prepared. Then... we changed our minds.

It was obvious that the Arizona 300 presented 2 challenges, 2 challenges we would leave for another day: 1) The Arizona Heat, 2) The lack of H2O, i.e., the lack of knowledge where the H2O could be acquired, filtered, begged for. Call us Fully Rigid Singlespeed Wimps, BUT don't simply call us Wimps. We may have killed our share of brain cells back in the day, but we can still make good decisions while cranking our way through Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

So Mad Rhino, The B.P.R. Tour Guide, put on his thinking cap and formulated Plan B. Plan B? What the HELL is Plan B?

Well Plan B is the 4 day monster that Rhino planned via a large set of documentation - provided by the masters of Arizona bike packing. Plan B is the ride that The Judd now calls The COCO MACHO 200. Yes. The Judd has used many temporary names for Plan B. But Coco Macho 200 it is. Coco Macho Roles off the tongue, like a scoop of Chocolate Mint from The Professor Emeritus' Baskin-Robbins. And I like Chocolate Mint.

It's getting deep here. So I'll put it in English, with a few mathematical equations.

The Coco Macho = The Coco Mucho = The Coco Loco...

BUT the Coco Macho DOES NOT EQUAL the Coconino Loop or the AZ300. Get it?

Yes. Mad Rhino planned for the Coconino Loop, a 250 mile beast. But us dudes at the Back of the Pack are always behind schedule, always lost, or always bellying up to the bar. So a flexible plan was required - Plan B. You see Plan B was designed to evolve with our progress @ the Back of the Pack. And evolve it did.

The real goal was to ride FOUR DAYs. NO MATTER WHAT. That's the real reason we ditched the AZ300. Because the probability of bailing on the AZ300 near Tucson was greater 38.78%, based on The Judd's calculation. And bailing at Tucson meant a short adventure, like a 2 day adventure. Yeah, We aren't in this for the podium, we are in it for the ADVENTURE. AND a FOUR DAY ADVENTURE is what we SURVIVED.

For Rhino's take on the Adventure - check out the Adventures @ The Back of the Pack blog, dude!

So, enough background. Enjoy the details. Enjoy the pics. And... you are always welcome to join us for the next adventure - assuming The Morale Chairman doesn't scare the S*^T out of you. Which is a real possibility.

The Bizarre:

Before I get to the track, the data, the pics: check out the damage that a tornado (yes tornado!) did to the forest NW of Flagstaff. Wow! It looked like an Alien landing zone or like an Alien spacecraft executed a low altitude, low speed flyby... in honor of The Lt Col.

The Ride:

Simple. 4 Days and 200+ miles.
  • Day 1: Flagstaff to Munds to Sedona. ~ 58.1 miles, 10.5 hours
  • Day 2: Sedona to Cottonwood to Jerome to Perkinsville. ~ 49.4 miles, 10 hours
  • Day 3: Perkinsville to Williams to Sycamore Canyon. ~ 51 miles, 11 hours
  • Day 4: Sycamore Canyon to Flagstaff. ~ 42.2 miles, 8 hours.

The Awards:

B.P.R. AZT Steeplechase Championship:
  1. Mad Rhino
  2. The Judd
  3. The Morale Chairman
Discussion: Mad Rhino is a bunny hopping, tail sliding freak. He was jumping over all the obstacles on the AZT - as if he was late for dinner. Actually he was. The Judd was behind, far behind. The Morale Chairman? Good Question.

B.P.R. Coco Macho Downhill Championship:
  1. The Morale Chairman
  2. Mad Rhino
  3. The Judd
Discussion: Mad Rhino, the bunny hoping freak, was definitely the fastest on the downhill course. BUT Mad Rhino had to stop EVERY single mile to take a few pictures. The Morale Chairman cruised to an easy victory - after The Judd mistakenly stopped 20 feet short of the finish line. Yeah, the victory was handed to The Morale Chairman.

B.P.R. Jerome Hill Climb:
  1. The Judd
  2. The Morale Chairman
  3. Mad Rhino
Discussion: The Judd was cranking over a 32 x 19 on a fully loaded sheep. The other B.P.R. dudes were rolling the 32 x 20. End of story. Not really. The Jerome Hill Climb was BRUTAL. The heat was insane. But The Judd's freakish victories at the 2010 B.P.R. High Altitude Championship and the 2010 B.P.R. Ultra High Altitude Championships provided the required skill and mental power to suffer through the conditions and pull out the victory. The Morale Chairman sucker punched Mad Rhino 10 feet from the finish and pulled out the 2nd place finish.


The Judd had 3 instruments fundamental to survival: a) a gps with Coco Macho tracks and topo maps, b) a SPOT beacon, c) a water filter. ALL of these intruments failed one way or the other. AMAZING. Be Prepared? Yeah. But what does 'Be Prepared' mean. Hell, I don't know. But I will figure it out some day.

The Lessons Learned:
  1. If you carry an iPhone BECAUSE you know your SPOT device will fail, make sure it is completely powered off, NOT just in Airplane mode. Trust me. It's hard to find an outlet in the middle of nowhere, sometimes.
  2. Packing efficiency is fundamental. I had more than enough room in my packs.... as proven by all the air pockets. I HATE air pockets, it's very frustrating when you must jam in 3 burritos, 2 honey buns, 3 snickers, beef jerkey and a few Clif Bars into your backpack WITH 4L of water. I had NO ROOM for the potato chips that The Morale Chairman lived on AND wouldn't share. It's frustrating, just saying.
  3. When you think you are out of H2O, you really have 2L left. Really, you do.
  4. If you have a 5:45AM wakeup call, you still won't have the cranks turning until 8:20AM. Just because.
  5. Don't camp near a river, if you don't want to donate blood to the creatures that some call mosquitos.
  6. 50oz of Dogfish Head IPA may, just may, create a world of leg pain the next morning. 
The Crazy Question:

A lady approached The Morale Chairman at the Verde River near Perkinsville
  • The Lady as she scanned the plaid and saw the B.P.R. Patch: "Mr Morale Chairman. Are you and your team sponsored by P.B.R.?" 
  • The Morale Chairman: "No it's just a play on letters. It's B.P.R. for Back of the Pack Racing"
  • Lady: "Oh, I was just wondering. My roller derby team is sponsored by P.B.R."
The Ludicrous

Remember I mentioned that my GPS failed on Day 1. Well, what a crazy failure. The topo maps just DISAPPEARED around hour #5 on Day 1. I messed with it, and messed with it and messed with it. Finally, through a series or rash and careless steps, all the data and gpx tracks were erased. YES, erased. Great. I was blind. The geek of all data geeks was blind.

Oh well. 

GPS Lesson #1: Don't let a small failure turn into a monumental failure.
GPS Lesson #2: Check your SIM Card. On Day 4 I changed the Lithium batteries in my GPS. I about fell over... my SIM card slipped out of the holder. That was the minor failure that turned into a monumental failure. Live and learn, dude.

The Pics:
Two Data Geeks - Geeking it Up

The Rock & the Mud on the Arizona Trial

More Mud, More Rocks. AZT Style

Cruising down I-17, just for 2 miles
We took a detour due to the mud

The Beauty
The Sheep
The Overlook @ The Schnebly Vista Point - ABOVE Sedona

another pic, just because

Wow! The Southwest. Sedona Arizona

See that mountain - far in the distance? 
That's where we're headed, back to Flagstaff.
109 miles to go!

Mad Rhino and The Morale Chairman walking... Again

Just a Bridge Near Perkinsville
Did you know that Perkinsville has as many empty Bud Light cans as Leadville
Must be a 'ville' thing

Single Track? Not Really

Oh the ROMANCE @ the Back of the Pack

The B.P.R. Camp @ Perkinsville

Don Miguel - Representing @ the Back of the Pack

Mad Rhino - Pigging Out on a Don Miguel

Mad Rhino? The Morale Chairman? Is Breakfast Ready? I'm Hungry
AND I don't want that day old ham sandwich
AND I don't want another Honey Bun

The B.P.R. Morale Chairman is The Brother of The Judd
The Judd's life is very difficult when The Morale Chairman is PISSED OFF
BUT it would have been funny to see The Morale Chairman go for a swim. Wouldn't It?

Costanza? Mad Rhino?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dawn 'til Dusk Race Review: Just a Day on the Trails

What a day of racing and weather! The race started under IDEAL conditions. Warm, sunny, zero wind. Paradise! Then the wind picked up around 10:30 am. THEN the rain rolled in around 1PM. Then the blizzard hit around 3PM. Then the race was called at 5PM. And the blizzard continued. And then the party started. 8 kegs provided by La Cumbre Brewing Co. made the party another classic Gallup experience. Need I say more?

Ok. I will.

It’s safe to say that The Judd continues to DOMINATE the Back of the Pack ranks and the Back of the Pack Championship Series. Remember. The Back of the Pack Racers really don’t race - race the field that is. It’s all for fun - at least that’s what we say. But once the gun goes off there is a raging race within the Back of the Pack crew. We're all out for blood. Man against man. Dude against Dude.

There is no sympathy, there are no high 5’s, there are is no such thing as support for your fellow Back of the Pack racer. All of us B.P.R. dudes find great enjoyment in watching the others suffer. We really want to see a few tears. And we never ever utter words of encouragement. It’s more like ‘Oh really, your legs are cramping? Good. I’ll put more miles down and get a few laughs while you cry in pain.’ Or it’s ‘Oh Lt Col, last lap you puked up two pieces of pizza on the 1st major climb. Bummer. Eat some of my pizza and see if you can hold it down on this next lap.’

So, back to the race.

After lap 4, around 12:25 pm, I decided to chill out and let The Lt Col catch up. My domination was evident during the 1st few miles of lap 1. I had this thing wrapped up, so I wanted to wait for The Lt Col and see how bad he was suffering. The Lt Col rolled in 40 minutes later. I had my rain jacket on and was ready to roll, ready to be the punisher. I asked The Lt Col, ‘You going out for another lap’. His reply, as we watched the rain roll in and turn to snow, ‘nope’. 5 minutes later The Lt Col said, ‘I’m calling it. It’s over’.

THANK YOU Lt Col. The race was over for us at the Back of the Pack and the party started. No need to race in the blizzard. No need to battle the 50+ mph gusts. No need to ruin a good start to the spring / summer race season.

Then the guilt set in. Then the mind started to wander. The idea of quitting was killing me. Then I checked Facebook and saw posts from our Colorado friends, TR and El Freako. They packed it in around the same time, one lap ahead of us - because they are super cool super freaks. So if TR and El Freako called it a day, then I could smile, drink beer and feel good about The LT Col’s decision to call the race. It’s good to live guilt free. It really is.

The B.P.R. Championship series. The Awards, The Points:
  • The Judd: ‘I’m not afraid to ride the hills that The Lt Col walks’ Award. 4 Laps / 49 miles in B.P.R. record time. 100 pts
  • The Lt Col: ‘I’m not afraid to keep my cadence at 10 revolutions per minute’ Award. 4 laps / 49 miles in the classic Lt Col pace. 99 pts. Yes. 99 pts. Anyone that suffered in the weather deserves a little bit of credit.
  • The Morale Chairman: ‘I’m not going, but I still want my t-shirt’ Award. 0 Laps / 0 miles, just a t-shirt. Playing soccer mom prior to a big bike packing trip. +10 pts, just because
  • Prob-eee: ‘I really do have a fun factor quotient’ Award. 0 laps / 0 miles & a lot of cuddling at home. -50 pts. And I'm being gracious. 
  • Mad Rhino: ‘The B.P.R. Tour Guide’ Award. Hanging at home and planning the Big B.P.R. adventure - a 250 mile bike packing trip. +25 pts

Lessons Learned:
  1. The Lt Col's Texas chili is awesome. Yes, awesome. Until the morning after. No more Lt Col's Texas chili for The Judd prior to a big race in the B.P.R. Championship Series. No I wasn't 'sick'. Just major heartburn while I was cranking up the hills, the hills that The Lt Col was walking.
  2. 32 x 18 works. But 32 x 19 would make it more 'enjoyable'. I think.
  3. No need to dress for the 1PM snow storm at 6AM. 
The Video:

Remember. 29 Inches, Single, Rigid. Yes. The video is rough but the music is awesome.
Just a Video, Just some Singletrack, Just some Highlights

The Course & Some Data:
A View

One Lap

Quote of the Race:

The Lt Col: "If I was a probationary member. I’d be out there in the crap, trying to earn points and move up in the team rankings." (Prob-eee, are you listening?) "But because I am a Founding Father, I’ve really got nothing to prove. Nothing!"

The Lt Col’s Delimma:

The Lt Col had a spirited conversation with El Freako about the single speed setup. El Freako was rolling with a 32 x 20. The Lt Col always rolls with a 34 x 19, basically his mandate for 2:1, converted to rolling inches on a 29er. Anyway. El Freako explained the strategy, the strategy to race, not just suffer and ride. The Lt Col was educated and will continue to ponder this issue for some time to come. The real problem, the Lt Col is worried about the snowball effect. If he goes for a 20T, there is a slight chance that he would migrate to a 21T, 22T or EVEN a 23T. Ok. Let's not get crazy.

A Huge Thanks:

Big Bad Joe Fortin (1st place, solo 45 to 49) invited us to his RV for an awesome pre race dinner. Ever wonder why we go to all these races? To ride bikes? Maybe. To hang out with awesome dudes and dudettes like Joe Fortin & Family? Of course.

Donna James: Donna is the responsible one. Donna gave us irresponsible dudes a ride to packet pickup. Thanks Donna! We owe you. And yes, I haven’t forgotten about the 20 beers I owe you.

A Few Final Thoughts:

The Other Brothers:
We met some killer brothers from Fruita, Tyler and Ryan. These dudes rode the Colorado Trail last year - single speeds & fully rigid. (Rode the trail in July, not the race in August.) Tyler and Ryan gave me some great advice, advice about everything. Probably the best piece of advice - don’t tow a 40lb bike trailer behind the SS. No joke, jokester. Tyler had the bike packs, Ryan towed a trailer. Whatever works. The dudes did the entire trail. Awesome.

Not a Good Idea:
Dawn ‘til Dusk and La Cumbre Brewing Co. provided 8 kegs for the post race party. Yep, the party started at high noon. It’s not a good idea to have 8 kegs with no adult supervision. Just saying.

Just When:
Just when I was convinced that the big freight trains were off on Sundays, I heard a long blast of a horn. And then the trains kept coming, one after another.

Career Change:
For some reason I’m enthralled with the idea of being at the controls of a big freight train. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s the thrill of blasting that horn at 4AM. Yeah, I don’t know why. But it would be a fun job.... for a day or two.

Prob-eee’s Train Wreck:
Since we’re on the subject of trains. Let me discuss the new set of issues with Prob-eee. It’s well documented that Prob-eee enjoys his leg warmers and his Zone 2 training. It’s also a fact that Prob-eee signs up for races and then tries to back out of each and every race. One way or the other Back of the Pack peer pressure has kept Prob-eee ‘in the game’... until this race. And we are all stupified that Prob-eee backed out of Dawn ‘til Dusk. Sure the weather forecast was less than desireable. BUT there were 3 MAJOR reasons why Prob-eee should’ve been at the race: a) His new Black Sheep arrived Friday PM. A new bike and he’s not racing? Weird. b) He paid his entry fee. Nothing like signing up and not showing up. c) He lives 2 1/2 hours from the race. Yep. The race is right next door and he can’t make the drive.

So the Lt Col is wondering why Prob-eee really skipped out. We can only think of 3 things: 1) His leg warmers were in the washing machine. 2) His Zone 2 training on the stairs at work didn’t really prepare him for ANYTHING single speed related. 3) He had tickets to a White Zinfandel wine tasking & cheese nibbling extravaganza.

What’s up Next:
Bike packing - The Coconino Loop next weekend and then something. Maybe the 12 Hours in the Wild West. I need to get this 12 Hour Monkey off of my back. Maybe I’ll hit up the 18 Hours of Fruita. Maybe. Then again, I may just get on my fixie Black Sheep and ride and ride and ride - around the neighborhood, of course.

A Few Pictures:

The Wild Wild West

this is how I roll - KoRn Style

the early morning wakeup call

the sunrise

The Judd is ready to Dominate the Back of the Pack ranks

the start - from the Back of the Pack

The Lt Col - at the Back of the Pack

the snow, the snow

still snowing

a break in the snow, before it starts snowing... again

the morning after

Beautiful Blue Sky in Gallup

I wonder why I gained 5 lbs this last weekend

my favorite restaurant in Gallup - on the famous Route 66

when The Lt Col talks - I shut up