Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Post-Christmas Fun!

"Check the weather, check the avalanche report, check the nordic grooming report, look outside, GO!" This has been our program since Christmas as the weather has kept us on our toes...but in a good way.

Take a guess at what we did on this day.

My plan Sunday was to get in a long snow bike ride regardless of the weather. The "High" avalance danger simply made the choice "feel" a little better since the snow has been piling up non-stop. JayP, T-Race, Jill, and I rallied for a ride in Wilson, WY on snow-packed backroads. It snowed non-stop all day.

Jill stuck it out with me til' the very end. Nice work Jillie-o.

JayP was off the front frequently in the techy sections.

With Michelle taking some well-deserved time off, we headed out for a snow bike today to see what the Big Holes trails were like. Yesterday's warm temps followed by temps in the 20s today left the trails firm and fabulous.

Kenai is an excellent snow bike buddy

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekend +

I never get tired seing big fluffy flakes float straight down from the sky.

This morning accounted for the "+" part of the weekend Blog post because with 8-10" of new reported, I had to join the Fitzy's for an early run on Glory. Ed & JJ, I was thinking about you two today!

See that "poof" of snow in the middle? That is Jannine getting her pow groove on. I was not far behind.

As of noon on Monday, it is still coming down.

The rest of the weekend was excellent as well:

Saturday - 5 hour snow bike ride with JayP, T-race and Jill
Sunday AM - Michelle, the hounds, and I went hunting the elusive Christmas tree
Sunday PM - Snow bike ride with Michelle

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Human Factor

I have avalanches on the brain lately and immediately after completing my Level 1 avalanche class over a week ago I dove right into reading “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain” by Bruce Tremper. Tremper’s book is an excellent read and complimented the Level 1 class nicely. The book also reinforced what I thought when I walked out of class: Snow pit study, rescue strategy, and hazard evaluation are all important but Human Factors cause me the most concern.

What are the human factors? According to Tremper, the human factors that repeatedly get people into trouble in avalanche terrain include familiarity, peer pressure, the herding instinct, competition, poor communication, the “sheep syndrome” (blindly following whoever is leading), the “horse syndrome” (a rush to get back to the barn), and the “lion syndrome” (a rush for first tracks).

Let’s just say that my radar is on for things like:

“XYZ slope is safe; there are always tracks on it”

“XYZ slope is safe; I have skied there for 5 years and have never seen an avalanche”

“Let’s go to XYZ slope before anyone else gets there”

“My fingers are frozen and I am late for work so I am just going to drop in here and head to the parking lot”

“I ski this all of the time, don’t be a pu$$y”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Fatback is Phat!

My new 19" Fatback frame is finally built up and I was able to get out for my first snow bike ride of the season yesterday.

This project began last February, the day after the Su 100, while Chris E. and I were visiting with Greg at Speedway Cycles. After sitting on a few bikes and playing with rim & tire combos I knew I had to pull the trigger on a Fatback. I applaud Speedway for putting so much passion into developing the Fatback and for sourcing the special parts that help take snow biking to the next level.

Two of my main reasons for buying the Fatback were:
1) Better fit with a 19” frame – my Wildfire frame is a 17” (Med) and is too small
2a) Better performance at low PSI – the new 80mm rim distributes the load more evenly than the 65mm Large Marge and I am no flyweight.
2b) It is dead sexy, in a voluptuous kind of way

After close inspection, I am very pleased with the build quality of the Fatback frame, the 80mm wheelset, and the steel fork/rack combo. Greg at Speedway has been awesome to work with. The rest of the parts were taken from my Wildfire FatBike frame and moved over to the new frame to complete the build.

I snapped a few pics to highlight some of the key features that set the Fatback apart from other snow bikes.

Ti frame - compliant, and zero corrosion issues

165mm rear disc hub by Hadley

135mm front disc hub by Paul Components

All 27 gears are usable

Enough tire clearance to go bigger in the future if I want

Clean cable routing designed for full-length housing

Nice welds

Steel front fork and custom rack

The custom rack turned out great and the design was based on the modification I did to my Old Man Mtn rack last year. I almost always have some sort of bag on the front of the bike so this was a key piece for me and Greg's builder did a great job.

12/17/08 Edit: Weight is 31.5 lbs with rack & Surly tubes in both tires. I don't trust the WTB 2.2-2.5 tubes at 4.5 to 5 PSI yet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Embracing the simplicity

Sufficiently warm
Click the fan up a notch
Drop three cogs
The number must stay above 317W
20 seconds fly by
Pulse pounding through the back of my molars
Creep forward on the saddle to eek out more power
Stay smooth
The final seconds creep by…:57, :58, :59
Shift up three cogs
Sit up and spin
Watch the heart rate slowly come down
Concentrate on slowing the breathing
Sip of water

Repeat 20x.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A new set of tools

The 3-day Level 1 Avalanche class left me with wanting more. I have so many more questions because all of this is new to me and the cool part is that every day in the backcountry this season will be a learning experience.

Prior to this class I would typically skip over this section of the weekly summary at JHavalanche.org and read the overall rating. Now I can dive in and will pay close attention. I don't want to become a full-on snow geek but I know I will take the Level 2 class next year once I have more experience.

Most importantly, I can now contribute to a group's decision making process about the day's travel plan and have a set of tools to use to make an educated decision.

What perfect timing...it snowed 6-8" overnight and more is on the way.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Avalanche Class

Friday through Sunday I am in a Level 1 Avalanche Safety Class. Our snowpack is off to a slow & strange start so the timing for more education is very good. This is the next step towards more backcountry adventure.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Planing ahead

When thinking about next year's endurance race season, I have mixed emotions about trying something new versus going back to familiar races to improve on my 2008 results. The main conflict occurs during the month of July and given the effort required to complete any of these events I will have to pick carefully.

Breck Epic Stage Race - July 5th - 10th, 2009
Cream Puff 100 - July 12, 2009
Intermontane Challenge Stage Race - July 27th - 31st, 2009
Laramie Enduro - August 1st, 2009

The Breck Epic is shaping up to be a monster. The allure of the Intermontane Challenge is the terrain. However, I would really like another shot at both the Cream Puff AND the Laramie Enduro. And there is the American Mountain Classic later in August if I feel the need to try a stage race. Hmmm.