Monday, January 28, 2013


The 1st fender I broke - and "trail-fixed"

The last fender I'll break

I broke another one. I think this is my fourth busted fender and it’s the second one in under a week’s time. Only this one belonged to Caution (Greg). I borrowed his because I hadn’t the time to go buy a replacement and I wanted to use something for our wet and nasty ride last Wednesday night. I used it again this Saturday morning and split it in two on the first run. Thankfully none of them shattered due to a crash on my part. These types of fenders are mounted to the front shock and so they take a great deal of abuse during any given ride. If the shocks compress to their full limit, usually about 6 inches, they top out and the tire hits the fender with enough force to bust it in half. This normally doesn’t happen but speed combined with a high drop-off will max out the forks. Snap-o!

Spending 30 bucks on a new fender isn’t that big of a deal. But the frequency is what’s got me thinking. It obviously makes no sense to buy a fender after every other ride. The fenders I buy are considered some of the best so there’s no question of quality. There are several different styles of fenders, some mount to the frame, some to the bottom of the head tube (my style), and others mount to the shock chambers. Each have their own pros and cons and each of them keeps some of the mud flung from the front tire out of my mouth. Yeah, I said some.

I’ve been using fenders for a long time and I’ve ridden in nearly every conceivable weather condition. I almost always put fenders on because even in the peak of summer there always seems to be some sort of wet muck on the trail…even if it’s just horse apples. And the fenders are light and unobtrusive so they’re imperceptible. Here’s the thing though, I don’t think they make any difference.

Ok, maybe a little bit of a difference but if I’m riding in the rain, I’m going to get wet – with or without fenders. If the trails are sloppy muddy, I’m going get muddy – with or without fenders. And somehow I end up riding close behind someone just as they rake through a fresh pile of horse crap, which doesn’t even come close to getting captured by my fenders.

So why do I ever bother with some of this stuff? Because that’s what everyone else does. Guys in the magazines use fenders. My local bike shop has a whole wall dedicated to fenders, all shapes and sizes. I’ve been using them because it’s been one of those “why not?” things. But now I’m asking, why should I? It doesn’t seem to make any real difference, not how or when I ride anyway. It’s one less thing (two, actually) to put in my bike box for a trip, one less thing to put on and take off every time I ride, it’s one less thing to break and one less thing to spend money on. So screw it, I’m going fender-less. I’m stripping things down to the bare essentials. Now I’m thinking, what else can I get rid of? Who needs all that extra crap anyway. What good is it? Bring on the mud ya slimy bastards!!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

No is easy

Saying "no" is easy. Doing nothing is easy. Excuses and rationalizations for not doing something are a dime-a-dozen. It's easy to say I'm too tired or it's too cold or whatever. When ice covers the front yard the last thing anyone thinks of doing is going for a bike ride. Which is precisely why I do. It builds character and confidence. Makes me happy? Sounds weird but yeah, it does take the edge off to know that I'm doing something that very few would even consider. Some people also call that crazy. Whatever.

Winter in the Northwest is mild compared to many places around the world but we still get nasty cold temperatures, snow, ice and frost. It would be easy this time of year to sit inside on the couch and hide under a blanket. I would love to eat cookies and get fat, lazy and complacent. But that's not what I'm about. I'm on a mission. I have something to prove and something to fix. Resting on the couch and watching Top Chef ain't gonna cut through shit, sorry. 

Paradise Valley is covered in ice and not your regular run of the mill ice, this is Ice Palace ice. Slippery, glossy, unforgiving, what-the-hell-are-you-thinking ice. I let the air out of my tires for better traction and nature laughs at me. Ha! There's no adjustment or compensation I can make to my bike or my riding style that makes it easier to ride on ice. The ground is frozen solid, no give at all. Cover that with a sheet of ice and thats what we have, sort of. I mean what's a difficult situation, or nearly unrideable situation that couldn't use an extra dose of wtf impossibility sprinkled over the top. 

Well leave it to me. Look at the picture above: that's Lee (Crash) on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Everything is frozen solid and ice covers everything. Difficult riding conditions? Hell yes. Nearly impossible. So what. Three days after this picture was taken we went back to Paradise to night....while it was raining. Yeah that's right, we ARE bat shit crazy. But we had the best time. Because we knew that no one else was willing to do it. It was just the two of us out there in the freezing rain. 

When I do something that I know others aren't willing to do it changes me, little by little, into the man I want to be. Is it hard? Yes. Would it be easier to not do it? Yes. Would I be a better man if I stayed home? No. I'm not looking for easy because I know it's a whisper of a dream, it doesn't exist. The only path to healing is through pain. Anyone that says differently is trying to sell you something. Go and do. Stop saying NO.