Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I picked my bike up from Vecchio's the other evening after it's year end 'Grundle-Spritzing Revitalizer Tune' courtesy of Jim Potter. Year after year it never ceases to amaze me how sweet my bike ends up looking after a day at the shop with a true professional. Jim's skills as a mechanic combined with a frame and parts that were chosen for their durability rather than their sticker count means that a day in the stand rewards me with a bike that is as exciting today as it was when it was new.

Some of the parts in this picture are over 8 years old, while others are less than a year. Thanks to Potter they all look and feel brand new.

New tape is the part that you can see, but true to form, Jim made sure the real improvements are hidden to the eye, but far more tangible to the ride. The internals on this 8 year 0ld 10 speed Chorus lever are now all new carbon Record bits, and it feels amazing.
Bikes are fun.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mark puts the slick in Slickrock

We've had a pretty solid December of snow here in Boulder, but that's not very unusual. Moab however doesn't get a whole lot of snow. When it does its usually in the order of a few inches that are gone by noon the next day. Well last week they got a whopping 8 inches, and my good buddy Mark took advantage. Freshies on the Slickrock Trail, color me officially jealous.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Best of 2009

I share a trait with many males in that I love top 10 (or 5, or 3, 50, whatever really) lists. We've all done them, cars, cities, albums, you know the drill. Magazine and the like always love lists around this time of year, so I figured I'd put together a top 10 of 2009. This is the stuff that I'll remember the most from an another awesome year.

Mt. Audobon - Abby and I climbed this 13er in July, and while it may have only been one day of hiking, it stands out as one of the year's best moments. Perfect weather, beautiful wilderness, and my favorite person in the world made for one super day.

The Quest for 200 - From January through December I've ridden significantly more this year than ever before. Racking up the days became a quest for me this year. People do this all the time with ski days, and I've always said that riding is so cool because you can almost always get a ton of days in. I came up short of trying to ride 2/3s of the days (244 of 365) in 2009, but I'll be well over 200 come December 31st.

Powdercats - I've got to get at least one ski day on the list, and while 2009 was a meager year for huge ski days in general, snow cat skiing in Steamboat was off the charts and thus it makes the list. We had a blue sky day this year and the steepest terrain I've skied up there combined with pair of loaned K2 Pontoons made for a skiing experience that was more akin to water skiing on Lake Bemidji.

Interbike - Driving out to the bike show with Mike Dahl this September was a pretty perfect road trip. Highlights included four wheeling the Mini out to Gooseberry Mesa, and a particularly beautiful evening on Slickrock.

Foosker's Man Week - When Rafael came to visit this summer I don't think any of us had any idea what we were in for. 7 days and 7 rides later we were left in a daze, marveling at how the same jokes, told on the same trails and in the same restaurants, can never get old.

Black Hills - Abby and I headed north to meet her sister in the Black Hills this summer and it turned out to be the perfect escape. Almost no cell reception to tie you into the networks, and no shortage of attractions made it a weekend no-one wanted to end.

4th of July - My third summer visit to Lake Bemidji was the most action packed yet. Beautiful weather treated us to endless fun on the lake while Kim, Ed and Tyler made the trip for their first time to see what I've been raving about.

Thanksgiving - When we bought our new house one of the things that was immediatly apparent was its party potential. Plenty of space for people to spread out and relax, a garage full of toys for people to have fun with during the day, and a stocked bar at night. After a year and half it was time to truly do it right for a major holiday. We had an amazing time, and nothing made me happier than to see friends and family having fun together under Abby and I's roof.

Family Road Trip - This fall saw us head out on the road with Steve, Sally, Kim and Ed for a deluxe tour of Southern Utah. We hiked, rode, ate and drove our way across some of the most spectacular land around, all the while appreciating the simply joy of the open road.

Moab Man Trip - You'd think this kind of thing would get old, but it never does. This fall we had an absolute ball in the desert doing our usual combination of riding, eating, and pushing the envelope of tasteful humor.

Wedding Scouting - Heading out on an adventure with my lady is pretty much the coolest thing in the world. Heading out on an adventure to find a wedding location among some of the prettiest spots in Colorado during the height of summer is out of this world. Crested Butte and Telluride, we may not have found our spot there, but we sure had fun looking!

Magnolia - Getting a puppy this fall has easily stolen the headlines from a year full of them. The journey of raising a dog is just starting and we're having even more fun than anticipated.

Engaged! - After dating for almost five years, I popped the question to Abby this summer while on the dock in front of her house on Lake Bemidji. Luckily she said yes, and we're on our way! It never ceases to amaze me how much fun we have together and I'm looking forward to a lifetime of it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Ever get sick of bouncing, flashing, talking bla bla bla ads and links all over the edge of the web page you're reading? Me too. A couple of months ago David Pogue wrote about this and I failed to take the advice and check it out, until today when he mentioned it again in his what I bought column.

Here's what I've been missing:; a cornicopia of advertising surrounding every article you read.
After clicking the installed Readability 'bookmarklet' I installed in Firefox. And not only do you nuke the superfluous ads, you can specify how you'd like it reformatted for maximum, well, readability. Get it here, it's easy and almost instantaneous.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This month marked our first attempt at a family holiday after a year and a half of Life at Forest. We had visitors from Moab, Portland, Florida, New York and right here in Colorado, all hell bent on depleting our bar as quickly as possibly between days spent riding and shopping.

A few images from the mayham, and thanks to everyone for making it such an awesome time.

You know its party time when these are out.

Don't touch me.

No people.


Burn off that turkey.

One more on Picture Rock to end the vacation.

Monday, November 23, 2009


The below flow chart could prove to be revolutionary in my life as I was never formally steered toward one religion or another. I've always floated along in a god-less void, wondering what it all meant. If you feel the same way, I'm sure you'll also find this helpful.

click to enlargify

Thanks to Bryon for posting this on Facebook. Freaking hilarious.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wheels + Tires

The Panaracer 45s have been a revelation on my Trek XO-2. The incredible loft they offer, combined with the increased braking power of some mtb brakes has made this bike a sort of 29er lite mutt. It's great fun.

I did have to hand clip 102 side knobs, per side per tire, for a total of 408 snips of the clippers, so they wouldn't rub the stays under heavy loading.
My Nomad was finally in need of a new set of hoops after the rear Crossmax XL exploded into fixie mode earlier this fall in Nederland. Since then I've been riding a spare set of Mavic Deetrax (aka you couldn't make them heavier out of concrete) and was amazed at how many people were distracted by their copious stickers and concluded they were some new uber wheel. Nope, four years old, and they weigh like 9 lbs. Yellow stickers must really speak to people's subconscious, and I think it means awesome.

The new ones are much more subdued than Mavic's premade stickerfiestas.
In true form over function Vecchios style, Jim put together a proper large gentleman's wheelset that'll take whatever is thrown at them, or whatever they're thrown off of.

DT 5.10 All Mountain Rims, 36 spokes, tied and soldered front and rear, with XT hubs.
And my favorite grippy, fast rolling, huge volume tire for the front and back, WTB's Weirwolf LT 2.55. Somebody get a doctor, because these wheels are SICK!

Training Day

A guest post from the slopes of Mt. Ventoux

I awoke this morning to a rather spectacular email from my dad which reminded me quite a bit of the Pez Top Rides features I enjoy so much. Well, it seems he's outdone me again here. While I've been yapping about how great the weather is in Boulder and that we've been getting tons of good riding in, it's nothing compared to this.

Enjoy, a dispatch from lovely Provence:
Spent the night in Malaucène, started early on the road to Bédoin, a road I'd never been on. Turned out to be an absolutely glorious ride. Sun low, temperature cold but warming, air still, only people out were a few hunters. Easy grades, narrow roadway, excellent pavement, a solid procession of bends and turns, a good percentage of which were generously decorated with tire tracks from cars sliding off the road at speed. Spectacular colors despite the late date.

Cruised Bédoin looking for the good bakery. Found it. Bought a loaf of bread filled with chunks of apricot and walnut. Headed out, or rather up, but gently. Into more fields of colors. The mountain this huge presence to the left. I didn't wonder if I could ride it but I sure did wonder how long doing so would take and how much it would cost.

At the rate I was stopping for pictures, a while.

Grade slowly increasing but gently. Into a village and that was that, the climb began. No shots taken for a good bit of time now. The road was too steep to stop. And always in a forest. Unrelenting grades. Kilometer after kilometer averaging 9%, 9,5%, 10%, on and on. Inside those averages were ramps lined with powerful vacuums that sucked energy out of the legs like a starving italian sucking down spaghetti. Climbed up through a narrow swale heading straight up the mountain with the road bending back and forth until exiting up through a hairpin that soared up into double digits. And onto a ever so slight relief with the first view of the summit since a long time. Time to knock down water and grab some shots. The pavement liberally painted with names and exhortations.

The respite lasted for maybe 10 meters then it was right back into leg-killing grades. Suddenly an easing, subtle but still there and deeply appreciated. What's this, shifting a cog! Amazing. Into a shallow bowl with ski lifts and a restaurant, Chalet Reynard, and the road from Sault arriving from the right. Hard curve to the left past the restaurant and there's a sign, Col du Mont Ventoux fermé. Surely only for cars.

The grades are easier, especially when the wind that is picking up strength is on the back. Around a curve and there's a bar blocking the road. Off the bike, pass underneath, onward I go. With every curve the wind changes direction, sometimes gratefully on my back then hammering from the side and battering me around like a feather on wheels. The views are spectacular. I'm here so rarely I can't pass them by. The view down towards Bédoin is huge.
Always the summit soaring overhead.

The higher I get, the stronger the wind. The grade is strengthening too. I'm way too hot inside my layers. I stop to take one off, plant a foot on it while I pull out my windbreaker and fight with the wind to get it over my head before it disappears over the mountain. I'm stopped, might as well shoot again. I stand the bike up and hear a sharp crack. Damn! A spoke broke. Just like that. Nothing touched it. It just snapped. Amazingly the wheel isn't far off true. No problem. Press on. No way I'm not getting to the summit.

The grade stiffens. How do those guys in the Tour go up this so fast! I arrive at the Col des Tempêtes. I've never heard of it and in truth it's not really a col, just a place where the wind howls over the mountain then plunges off to the north. I have to get a shot. Thankfully there's a wall or I think my bike could have been blown over the edge. Maybe me too.
Views looking north are sublime. A wild country laced with small roads. A paradise of cycling.

The vertical drop into the valley below is huge. There's a road there I'd like to do someday. From Malaucène to Sault to Bédoin and back to a Malaucène.

Back to the climb, the final section. Double-digit grades and pounded by the wind. I hug the inside edge, press on. At last, the final hairpin to the right to the summit. The wind brutally shoves me to the outside then once I'm around the corner, the wind is bouncing off the building and hammering me in the other direction. The summit is totally deserted. A year and three weeks ago I was here and couldn't even get my bike in front of the summit sign for a shot. I still can't but only because the wind is tearing over the wall so hard the bike wouldn't have a chance. But behind a small sign there's a calm spot. The bike stands untouched by the winds.

I find a corner against the building where I can stash my pack without it getting lifted and blown away and shoot some shots looking back where I came from. Beautiful.

Time to go, the wind too violent to make staying longer enjoyable. I want to fly back down but the weakened front wheel is ever so slightly worrisome. Thankfully there's little wobble. Should be good. It is. Definitely a bit slower than would otherwise be the case as I don't want to strain the front wheel. On the slopes just below the summit I hold on tight while the bike is buffeted left and right. Wild. Fabulous downhill. Maybe the best I've ever done. That section where the road bends back and forth through a shallow trough is as good as it gets. The acceleration is huge. Unreal ride. I was ready to take the road to Sault and then climb back up but not with the broken spoke so called it good with as fine a ride as I've done.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009


CX@XILINX09 from Mat Barlow on Vimeo.

Top Gear is Back

The world's greatest TV show is back on the air in Britain for a 14th season, and it opened last night with a doozy of an episode. Amid constant rumors of the show's demise or reduced budgets, this season opener contains all the elements of their best episodes paired with new forays into the unknown, both geographically and There are super cars, a super star guest, burnouts in luxo barges, the works, and the finale is even better than I expected it to be after seeing youtube footage of it's filming earlier this year. So enjoy, the boys are back!

(btw full screen works pretty well with this video, for me at least)




When I bought a cross bike a little over a year ago, it wasn't to race with. I was hoping for a sort of rough gravel road, road bike. Something I could go on multi hour epics through the mountains but leave right from my very own driveway. A bike fast enough to ride long distances, but tough enough to ride singletrack. Now, after a year of tinkering and trying out various bits here and there, I've finally got it dialed. Panaracer's FireCross 45c was the final change that transformed my ride.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009


This is Kirt Voreis' segment from this year's New World Disorder movie that I saw in Vegas at Interbike. I love this segment for the a few reasons. First, it's all natural sound, which is rare and cool in this genre, second, it's just a sweet singletrack, not a huckfest, and third, he's riding a Blur LT Carbon, which is an all mountain trail bike. You hardly see anything beside dh bikes in these videos. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Crash Landing

Check out this video I found today, a computer generated re-enactment of US Airways flight 1549 crash landing in the Hudson River.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mixing and Motoring

This new Bacardi ad cracked me up, although the logic is a little shaky. Some guy named the Schu says this proves drinking and driving don't mix, but all I saw was mixing while motoring. Either way, entertaining. I should talk to the Bitter Bar about doing something along these lines... Wonder if James Lee could make an aviation while I take him down Flagstaff?

Incidentally, this reminded me of a segment on Top Gear I found interesting. Apparently the BBC wanted to do a show about drinking and driving so they gathered a group of drivers and had them do hot laps of a track while sober, buzzed, and wasted. Turns out they were faster buzzed, and way faster wasted because they weren't afraid anymore. The drawback? Their reaction times to surprise circumstances were way down. So you may be faster 'round a track, but you'll be less likely to brake for the grandma walking out in front of you.

Be careful out there kids.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bringing downhill mountain Biking to the people

One of the biggest challenges to making mountain bike racing spectator friendly is access. Simply put, it's hard to get thousands of people to go traipse off through the woods to catch a glimpse of a mountain bike race. Which brings us to the format of urban downhills, of which this is one of the coolest I've seen. Enjoy:

(was hoping to embed the video here but their code seems messed up and I can't make it work)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Hot / Not

Porsche and Aston Martin are simultaneously launching big risk forrays into the hyper performance sedan market. Both cars represent attempts to bring sports car heritage, performance and design language to four doors, but only one succeeds. For your review, the Astan Martin Rapide vs the Porsche Panamera. I wouldn't be surprised if the Porsche was a technically superior car, but as Clarckson says, you just wouldn't.

Aston: Hot - Porsche: Not

Or, if you're really in the market. Try these examples of how to make a limo sexy

Maserati, the established player:
Or if they make it, the insane Lambo Estoque. I'll have that one please: