Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Baker’s Dozen Portraits are currently being featured in “The Bike Project: A Visual, Literary, and Cinematic Celebration” at the Rouse Company Foundation Gallery at Howard County Community College in Columbia, MD. The show runs from October 8th to November 15th, with a reception on October 24th from 5-7 pm.
I should have blogged about this sooner, but I'm barely keeping up with anything these days. We'll be up at the reception on the 24th, so stop by and hello if you're there. I haven't been able to make it up to Columbia since i dropped the Bakers Dozen prints off a couple of weeks ago, so I can't wait to see the rest of the show. From the pictures I've seen, Becky has done a great job putting it together.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
there were a couple of navigational problems to work out along the way where the trail got a little indistinct, but with a couple of maps, some good eyes, and a GPS or two we managed to find our way to the split at the end of the ridge. there are two options at the end of the ridge. drop off the western slope and you can ride back into the park on fireroads in 5 or 6 miles. drop off the eastern slope and you get a couple more miles of downhill, but there's no easy way back across the ridge to the park. luckily we had lined up a ride and knew chris scott would be waiting for us at the bottom of the trail for a shuttle back to camp. a couple of riders took the western route to get a bit more riding in and the rest of us set off down the eastern spur.
the downhill that followed was pretty sweet. there was a little sketchy trail at the end of the downhill, but nothing too tricky, a couple of narrow bridges on the trail and a nice swinging bridge at the cowpasture river that had a few of our group humming the indiana jones theme. chris rode into the clearing while we were regrouping and most of the group took quick dip in the cool clear water of the river.
the ride wasn't actually that long and while there was a good 3550' of climbing in the 13 miles of the ride and some of the riding was slow going where the trail was overgrown, it wasn't a ride that would be beyond a lot of riders, as long as you've got a shuttle lined up.
todd has pictures of the ride here on flickr.
stage 2: charm city cyclocross
after a quick lunch back at camp -- and a change out of my wet shorts -- i packed the car back up and hit the road. i made pretty good time, in spite of being a little more tired than i'd have liked to have been for that drive, and made it back home around 8 and got my gear ready for charm city cyclocross the next day. i ended up being lucky that i'd done a shorter ride at douthat than i'd expected, as my legs felt pretty good.
up early the next morning, if not bright. a couple of cups of espresso along with a quick breakfast perked me up and before too long i was on my way to druid hill park in baltimore on time.
i've only managed one cross race in each of the last two years so made sure to arrive early to take a couple of warm-up laps to remind my legs what cross was is all about. by the final warmup the instincts were all coming back. while the mens cat 4 race was going i went back to my car for a refuel and to dump the arm and knee warmers, and vest, and to check in with Heather who was hoping to come by the race on her way back from Philly with Sam. she'd called while i was out warming up, so i called back. she was on here way, but wasn't sure if she'd make the start. i kept my legs spinning and checked out the start and prologue loop, made a pit stop at the conveniences, and then checked the time. 10 minutes to start time. time to head towards the line.
staging was by bib number and well marked so i took my place as the grid started to fill up and the waiting game began. two dcmtb team mates where nearby -- dave vannier was just to my left and corey twyman was in the next row up -- and some bike lane friends were just behind us. joel gwadz was a couple rows ahead and trevor and jonathan from family bikes were a row ahead as well. 1 minute to go, 30 seconds, and we're off.
i'd like to be able to write a detailed account of every lap, but they blur together so seamlessly in the race induced haze that it can be difficult. i lost a lot of places in the first couple of laps. riders seemed to be coming around me way to easily at first, but after 2 laps things stabilized a little. Heather and Sam had missed the start while they were looking for parking and i missed them on the first lap, but by lap two i'd found them near the sandpits, cheering me on.
after i settled into a grove i managed a couple of passes. a c3 rider, an adventures for the cure rider, and i was holding of the riders behind me, but i was starting to have some traction issues wit my rear tire. i'd put a little more air in my back tire after my warmup after having problems with a sharp turn onto pavement near the end of the course, but was now having trouble with ton some of the corners. eventually i took a spill on lap 4 in a big fast right hander and lost a couple of places while i got my chain back on. somewhere in the race i started having twinges of pain while running up the stairs on the back side of the course, i wasn't feeling that bad, at least not anything out of the usual the scale of cyclocross pain and it didn't look like i'd be lapped. i managed to finish fairly strong to heather and sam waiting for me at the line.
after a little chit-chat with team mates and some time in the playground with sam (*1) we drove downtown and had lunch, and some recovery beverages, at pratt street ale house. just took a look at the results, and it looks like i finished in 74th of 96 starters. not great, but i'll take it. next race: maybe hyattsville on the 11th, or granogue on the 17th.
next weekend: sailing lessons...
*1 - note to race promoters: please make sure all race infield areas include a playground.
Friday, September 11, 2009
This story may be familiar to my regular readers or anyone who read my first Spokes column back in May, but I'm retelling it here and now for the benefit of the folks organizing the Specialized Trail Crew 2010. They're looking for riders and I think i might be what they're looking for.
If you're looking for a list of bullet points here goes:
- I think the best way to spend the day before labor day is riding 100 miles in the woods with several hundred of your closest friends
- I love doing big backcountry rides and races
- I've been blogging since you had to explain what a blog was and I think i'm pretty good at telling a good story
- I'm a photographer and also a writer
- I have my own beer on tap in my house and I like to bring it along with me
- I'm 34 and live just outside Washington, DC with my wife and 1 year old son.
- I've love my stumpy 120 (and my epic and tri-cross)
- I love the shoes and gloves and helmets too
- other places to find me online: twitter, facebook, flickr
- somewhere out there, there's some really embarrassing video of me doing a slow-speed endo right in front of ned overend on a ride at the IMBA summit
Back in the year 2000 or so I was just out of college, overweight, and out of shape but something grabbed me one day and made me pick up a copy of a local mountain bike trail guide in the book store and see if my little brother wanted to go mountain biking.
I dusted off the bike I'd used (rarely) to get around campus and the second I put knobby tire to singletrack I was hooked. Mountain biking was like nothing else I'd ever done before. Rides went from monthly to weekly to daily in no time flat. The old bike was replaced within weeks and before too long I was heavily involved with the local trails advocacy group, MORE.
The next winter I tore my ACL in a skiing fall, but mountain biking helped me come back stronger than ever. Afternoon rides turned into all day backcountry epics and weekend trips into the George Washington National Forest. Before too long i was racing, joining a local team and then I signed up for the Shenandoah Mountain 100.
It was the 100 that was to become the real turning point for me. That first year I trained seriously for the first time and finished the race, but as the very last finisher in just over 15 hours 10 minutes. The race hurt, badly, but it was the best day of my life so far and the next year I trained harder, rode more and went back down to Stokesville to try it again. The second time I finished (this time on an S-Works Epic that i still have and love) in 10 hours 50 minutes, a single year improvement that I don't think has been matched by anyone before or since.
I didn't realize it at the time, but mountain biking had profoundly changed my life. Over those first two years of racing the 100 i'd lost over 50 pounds, but more than that I'd made great friendships and found the self confidence that I'd always been lacking. I didn't just mountain bike, I was a Mountain Biker. At the end of that year I met the girl I've since gone on to marry and I'm not sure that would have happened if it wasn't for what mountain biking had done for me.
But that's in the past, what's going on now. I started blogging back in the run up to my first 100 and haven't stopped since. The subjects have varied a bit over time but there's been lots of riding, some politics, and recently quite a bit of photography.
A couple years ago, a few of us from the DCMTB mountain bike team decided to take a stab at the Granny Gear 24-Hour national point series, so in 2007 we traveled across the country to race in California, Vermont, Missouri, and locally at the 24 Hours of Big Bear in West Vriginia. We had some stiff competition and the series came down to the wire, but we did win the Expert title in the series along with 2 class and 1 overall win at the races.
A year ago my wife and I started a new adventure with the birth of our son. Now i'm trying to figure out how to balance riding and family. The riding has been a little thinner in the past year but i still jump on every chance to ride, especially on dirt, and now I'm looking forward to next year and trying to pick some new challenges...
Back in June of this year I organized a fundraising team through the Team IMBA program. We raced the Massenhutten Hoo-Ha, and three of us managed to raise $1500 for IMBA and $4600 for MORE that's going to be dedicated to The Fountainhead Project, and effort to make the trails at a Fountainhead Regional Park in Virginia a model of challenging and technical environmentally sustainable trail.
I need to get back to the 100 for my 4th attempt at that (10 hours?) and there's the Transylvannian Epic, a brand new 7 day stage race in Pennsylvannia, that looks like an interesting challenge. I'd like to get out to Fruita and Moab, my last attempt at which was cut short my a broken collarbone a week before the trip.
But mostly, I just want to ride. To take those extra hours that crop up in the day and get out into the woods, to recharge and feel totally and completely alive.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I spent saturday at Joe McNally's one day lighting workshop is Dobbs Ferry, NY. Lots of lights, lots of gear, lots of setups. Other than seeing how he works through each lighting setup the best part was getting to split up into small groups and set up our own shots in the basement of the building the workshop was held in.
Micheal, Seshu, and I ended up with Aaron. Above, you can set two of my setups, both shot with 2 small flashes and one tri-grip diffuser.
This one (above) is from a little later in the day when we got to shoot Joe's setup with Aaron. In this shot, in addition to the lights inside, there are two gelled sb-900s at full zoomed to 200mm on a 30' lightstand (we're on the 2nd floor here) outside the windows throwing the shadows on the back wall.
We each got to shoot the lights that Joe (and his team of great assistants) set up for each set, but there were a couple of setups late in the day where there wasn't time for us to shoot, so hopefully we'll see a blog post soon with Joe's shots from those (and the rest of the day) soon.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Since we got back so late, all the food was gone so we drove into down, dropped our stuff off at Chris's place and then walked over to Dave's with another guy who was staying with Chris for some food and a few beers. The pizza was good and a few rounds of beers showed up before Chris showed up and we walked over to another bar for one last round. All of this lead to a later night than expected and a few minor regrets from some the next morning.
Sunday morning rolled around and Evan was trying to fix some major brake issues on his bike, so Matt and I left him with Chris and made a dash for the venue to try and get him in to the XXC, which started at 9. Since i wasn't racing until 11 i was able to help him get his bike & gear together while he registered and he made the start on time. Evan did eventually get his brakes sorted out and lined up with the experts for the regular cross country race, but more mechanicals kept him from finishing.
I knew that I definitely wasn't up for the 35-40 mile XXC, but I was going back & forth in my head about which class i should enter. I made the move from sport to expert a couple of years ago, though my expert results were never very good, usually within 2 or 3 places of DFL (or just plain old DFL), and i've not done any realy training this year. More importantly, this wasn't a course to play lightly with (it starts with a 1000'+ vertical climb) and the difference between 1 & 2 laps could be the difference between a race that i enjoyed and helped get me back in the saddle and a race that left me miserable and wallowing in my loss of fitness.
I was a hard decision to make, a bitter pill best swallowed quickly than lingered over, and one that no doubt I'll get some flak for. In the end i registered for sport and settled into a nice spot near the front of the starting grid of the 30-39s as the whistle neared.
The start was chaotic and faster than i'd expected. it was something i hadn't seen for a while, since the only straight XC races I did last year where the wednesday races, and those were almost a year ago. We started on a long prologue loop that gradually climbed on fireroads and then returned down some paralell singletrack. After a little push at the start i dialed it back, knowing the climb was coming, and watched a lot of the sport fields pass me by. My legs were very quickly filling with lactic acid (no warmup of course) and feeling the burn so i was worried how I'd do on the big climb to come.
To call this climb tough is an understatement, it's a beast. Around a 1000', now almost all singletrack, straight up to the top of Massenutten Mountain. The climb kept throwing new challenges at you -- rocks, wet roots and mud, tight switchbacks -- so I was glad I'd seen it the day before. It didn't take too long to settle into a rythym and find the pace i could keep, and before too long i was starting to pull back some places, eventually finding myself riding between a couple of friends. I traded places back and forth with Charles a couple of times on the climb, but Mike Bender stayed just out of reach. The climb now ends with a new section of singletrack that starts with 6 switchbacks and then ends with some giant slabs of rock before you cross the road for one last time and start heading across the ridge knowing that the worst is behind you and best riding of the day is dead ahead.
the ridge ride is short and sweet. rocky, but mostly rideable, at least it was the day before. the race my oxygen deprived brain and lactic acid filled legs were still recovering from the beast and combined to make for a few bobbles. a quick hike a bike across some rocks i'd only attempt with a bigger bike and some armour and then onto the main event, upper ravine trail.
really, there aren't many words to describe this downhill... there are some nice insloped turns to start off the ride down the mountain and then you get into super flowy bench cut trail. constant grade reversals and turn cur just right so that you can almost stay entirely off the brakes and just let the bike run. with the pre-ride having left an imprint of the trail i ripped this downhill, getting air of the grade reversals built into the trail (for sustainability reasons, of course).
from there the course continued on through the lower reaches of the ridge, some short steep climbs, some rocky twisty singletrack, a couple of short fast downhills, and some fireroads thrown in for good measure before you pop out into a field and make a big right hand turn into the finish. still can't find results online, so i'm not sure where i finished, or how long it took. doesn't really matter as far as i can see though, since the idea was to have some fun (and raise some money for IMBA and MORE).
Post race i broke out the camera gear while i was waiting for Matt to finish and shot some portraits. Didn't get quite as cohesive a result from them as i did from the Baker's Dozen shots, but i like 'em anyway. See them all over on flickr
Monday, June 08, 2009
thomas jenkins, chris scott, and mike carpenter
Monday, June 01, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
1. artomatic opens on friday (probably today since i'm writing this at 11pm). the bakers dozen portraits will be there on the 4th floor, east side of the building somewhere. if you're there, look for them. if you're there for opening night then look for me (or give me a call), we'll be there for a while.
2. bakers dozen portraits are also in issue two of xxcmag.com
3. i'm riding the hoo-ha next weekend for team imba-more. we're raising money for IMBA, MORE, and the fountainhead project. if we average $1000 in donations per teammember we get $1000 each in matching from SRAM, so please donate here to me or one of the other team imba-more members. donations are split 50/50 between IMBA and MORE, but MORE gets 100% of the matching funds.
4. the va imba festival @ stokesville was a blast this past weekend. since we were traveling with sam, we only went down for one night. got two good rides in, braley pond with punga, and lookout by myself, though the lookout ride ended with a flat and a snapped derailleur hanger that lead to the lucky discovery of the stumpjumper's magic gear. more importantly, sam had a great time, had lots of fun with ryder and andrew, and did great camping.
5. in aid of #3 (above) we're hosting a ride and barbeque this saturday as a fundraiser. current plans are for a ride at rosaryville (fast loop at 7:30, slower lap at 8:30) followed by grilling at bike doctor waldorf at 11:30. rain plans to be announced, but we won't ride dirt this saturday if conditions are bad.
6. next spokes column will be out in the coming week.
7. heather's lavender wit tastes good, but the golden ale is kicked already. how did we get through that so quickly?
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Monday, May 04, 2009
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
on the left is the original in-camera auto white balance. in the middle it's set in lightroom off the blacks in the jersey. on the right it's set off the whites in the jersey. anyone care to offer an opinion of which they prefer?
Monday, April 20, 2009
Thanks to all who played along with the Baker's Dozen project... The results are up on flickr now. Edits are still preliminary and some of the post processing has gone a bit too far, so expect to see some changes.
The results aren't quite what i'd expected -- thematically or visually -- but i'm still really happy with them...
I'd been seeing the project in my head in black & white, but once i started shooting i knew it was going to end up in color.
The lighting needs a little work. Most of it was complete dumb luck combined with nikon's CLS mad science. basic formula: -2 stops EV comp + ( +1 stop flash comp + ( 1.7 stops A-channel [main, normally camera right] or 1-stop B-channel [fill/rim, camera left] ). the later night shots got some CTO gels...
There was more than a little lightroom work on them to dial up the mood.
Monday, March 23, 2009
my expectations were low, but i was happily surprised with how my body felt. the climbs hurt a little more than they used to, and i'm sure i was a good bit slower, but i didn't feel as bad as i'd expected to after the hiatus i've had. at least i'd been out on my road bike a couple of times to get my legs back under me.
i'd hoped to grab a couple of pictures of the ride, but when i pulled the little camera out of my bag i found it had a dead battery. oh well, next time i guess.
after the ride we drove out to the eastern shore for a lazy afternoon. a little lunch, a stroll around st. michaels, and some fun with sam. perfect.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
turned out to be a bit of a messy job --why builders thought 6" of concrete was the best way to lay a tile floor in the 40's is beyond me -- but we've now got a temporary plywood floor in the footprint of old bathroom that's being added to the kitchen. it'll stay until we can get someone out to look at what will need to be done to the joists -- they were "altered" somewhat in the tile laying -- to lay a proper subfloor.
we also removed the old bathroom door frame and framed in the hole so that we can drywall up the opening, so, all-in-all it was a productive weekend.