Monday, September 25, 2023

Let's talk about buttered sausage

What do you do the week after Marji Gesick? Besides talking about buttered sausage, where it comes from, what it does, and why it's doing what it's doing, of course. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it means you're behind on what the "kids" are talking about nowadays, and you probably need to look up "Gary Busey buttered sausage".

But first, please, if you do nothing else today, scroll down and take a look at the elegant gallery of Simon. After reading the rest of the blergh, of course.

Ok, on we go. I had a lot of bike work to do after Marji Gesick, some of which was getting to use a q-tip for yet another unintended purpose. I mean, seriously, has anyone ever actually used a q-tip for what they're supposed to be used for?

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Marji Gesick 2023: The Buckle Edition

I went into the Marji Gesick 100 this year with one goal: get the belt buckle. In order to get the belt buckle, I'd have to finish the race in under 12 hours; a difficult feat on the challenging course. Usually, only 10 or 12 people out of more than 500 racers get the buckle. It's a long race. Lots of people take over 20 hours to finish, and lots of people don't finish at all.

The last singlespeeder to get the buckle was Justin Holle, back in 2021. I was just coming off of a 2nd place finish to Justin at Breck Epic, so I was interested to see how I would compare to his time at Marji Gesick. All of this is just to highlight the fact that it was far from a sure thing to get the buckle. I thought I had the fitness, but at the same time, I really didn't have anything to base that off of. Last year, I missed the buckle by 40 minutes, albeit on a slippery wet course. 

Going into Marji this year, my motto was "buckle or bust". I knew the time splits I had to make, so I was going to push as hard as I needed to make those splits, and if I blew up, I'd just crawl to the finish line with disappointment.

The buckle class of 2023

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Onion 2023

Kennerdell is a little river town up in the great northwest of Pennsylvania, and if you've ever been there, you can't help but feel there's something special about it. Even before I started mountain biking, my family used to do camping trips on the Allegheny River, and Kennerdell was typically the town where we'd put the kayaks on the water. So you see, Kennerdell, despite being an oft-forgotten nook along the winding river, has a bit of nostalgia for me. When you add in fantastic backcountry trails and awesome friends, it's easy to see why the Onion is one of my favorite weekends.

Admittedly, I've only been to a few Onions, but despite some, uh, difficulty on a past Onion for me, it's something that will always be on my calendar. The name "Onion" comes from the idea that people can "peel" (bail and head back to camp) off from the route at any point. Those who do the whole ride are the "core" of the Onion.

The new Onion poster (left) and the Dahn Pahrs send-off poster (right)

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Shenandoah 100!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, 100 mile mountain bike races are my favorite kind of racing. For one, I love the patterns you recognize in races. It start's off fast, you find a groove, you feel great, you feel crappy, maybe you feel great again, and so forth. That narrative seems all the more dramatic when you're in the moment. 

And then there's the adventure. Climbing up abandoned forest roads, traversing along ridge-tops, and flying down literal mountains is the epitome of mountain biking. You get all the great views and all the great trails all while getting to race and push yourself. That's a win-win, win.

Perhaps the most important to me, though, is the experience of being at the race. That's intentionally vague because it encompasses so much. Spending a weekend with family and friends - and new friends - is a blast. Racers camp together and then the now-veterans of the race hang out at the finish line after the event. If only for a weekend, mountain bikes seem like everything.

Being from Pittsburgh, there are three 100-mile races that stand out. The term "Triple Crown" perhaps seems a little bit ostentatious, but still, for the Pittsburgh area, it's hard to argue that there are more iconic 100-mile races than these: the Mohican 100, the Wilderness 101, and the Shenandoah 100. Now that I think of it, perhaps that's only true among my friend group of singlespeeders, but I'm a singlespeeder, so that's alright.

Dan, me, Stick