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:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ultimate Backcountry Access Vehicle?

Ridiculous. All you can say really.

Moab Trails

My family moved to Moab in 1987 from Crested Butte and at that time the town was a very different place. Sure, it was somewhat of a destination, but it was nothing like the world famous mecca for mountain bikers, jeepers, climbers, etc that it is today.

With regard to biking, it's easy to assume that because Moab is famous the trails there happen automatically; when in reality Moab's trail-building revolution has happened only recently. The really old classics, Porcupine Rim (or, zee Porking Pine in German tourist speak) Slickrock (Zee slippery sliding sledge rock trail) Amasa Back and Poison Spider were all built before mountain bikes and for different user groups. We've just been having fun on other people's (jeep, moto) trails without building much of our own.

That's all changed now though. Moab's blossoming local community of riders has banded together over the past 5-8 years to change the face of riding in the desert. Faced with stiff competition from Fruita, not to mention the hundreds of miles of established singletrack found at (insert Colorado mountain town here) Moab has been working hard to step it up. Every time I go home it feels like there is new stuff to ride. First it was Sovereign Trail and the network that has grown out of it. Then Baby Steps, Blue Dot, Magladon, the Bar-M area, Rockstacker, Jackson's. And of course, to top it all off, The Whole Enchilada, which has to be one of the most insane rides ever. (I know not all of these are technically 'new' but they are at least improved and/or legitimized.)

To go along with that the community has been continuing to improve biking in town and on the roads as well. They had a bike path system through town a decade ago along with bike lanes painted on most streets, and soon there will be an expansive bike path system along the roads north of town.

Here's a taste of Moab's new riding frontier.

Just for awesome-ness sake, here's my previous writeup on The Whole Enchilada from

Mark and Josh on Hazard County, with lots of downhill still ahead.
Looking west across the new bridge, which will become the centerpiece of a new trail network

Two maps I put together for Moab Trails Alliance.

I forgot to mention Dead Horse Point. The new Intrepid trail is amazing, and provides some flowy singletrack in one of the most beautiful settings you could hope for. Check out this post on it.

At night, and in the snow.