Saturday, June 14, 2014

European Cliches: La Rioja Bike Race, Toblerone, and the Tightest Pants in the World

Four benadryl later I was wheels down in Frankfurt, Germany. I awoke to a teeny tiny Toblerone on my pillow, the capstone finish to three courses of hospital grade airline food. The sleek obsidian finish and pitch-perfect resonance of Europe's busiest airport surrounded me - Frankfurt literally  hummed with efficiency. And techno.

My stomach rumbled in time with the smooth sounds of the latest NOW! Thats What I Call Music electronic mashup of Lana Del Ray. Having meant to change out of my compression tights before landing, I was unable to dislocate both hips to accomplish this inside the coach-class bathroom. Stumbling off the jetway, I was relieved to find I was not the man wearing the tightest pants in the airport. Not even the 2nd or 3rd tightest, in fact.
Pain and horror. And 40 minute descents.
Welcome to Spain.

Never having played with over-the-counter sleep aids before, I was unsure how capable I would be after 7.5 hours on Luftansia's finest not-quite-A380 quality European bicycle portage. Three or four teeny tiny coffees would clear my head, and nothing is more sobering than trying to order up a large Americano with soy milk in broken Spanish, in Germany. 

"Soy grande americano por favor." 
"No s#it you are, brah."

I f#cking love Europe. Time to ride bikes, bitches.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Rare Day in Colorado's Front Range

High above Colorado Springs.
There are some pretty weird hobbies in this world:  rubber band collections, dressing up like a stuffed animal, or jumping off bridges with a parachute to name a few.

When you really think about it, climbing and descending hiking trails on a bicycle is no more or less reasonable than collecting porcelain figurines, running ultra-marathons or re-writing all the endings to Disney movies to make them horror flicks.

But for some reason I've chosen mountain biking.  So, what exactly do I get out of it?  Why do I spend an inordinate amount of my free time either mountain biking or thinking about mountain biking?  Why is it more appealing to me than, say, chasing a little white ball around a meticulously landscaped yard?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Answering the Riddle at Charlemont Trails (June 2014)

Something tells me the skiing in this glade isn't too shabby either.
A couple of years ago I was enjoying an evening ride on the singletrack around Belmont Rock Meadow when I came across another mountain biker.  We stopped to chat for moment and he presented me with a riddle that I've been struggling with ever since.

"Where can I find the real big hills around here? The long climbs and descents?", he posited.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Other Side of Ellicottville (May 2014)

This is what flow looks like.

In what is fast becoming an annual tradition, I made a late May trip to ride the trails around Ellicottville, New York.  Almost exactly a year ago I made my first trip there and was awestruck with mostly smooth, swoopy singletrack I found.  I had sampled Big Merlin, Rain, Sidewinder, Mesa, among some of the other trails on one side of the mountain.

However, an offhand comment from a rider I met near the end of my day there, stuck with me.  When I told him where I had ridden, he exclaimed, "Oh, man, you haven't even seen the half of it!"   While the map showed a number of trails in the Northwest corner, I couldn't imagine they would differ so greatly from what I had already ridden.

Did they ever.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Blueberry Lake Trails: First World Problems

I'm getting really fed up with the beautiful scenery too.
This is getting ridiculous.  It's getting harder and harder these days to go anywhere in Vermont where you can pull your bike off the back of your car and not land on some fantastic singletrack.