The Joy of Suffering

I was trying to explain why I like cycling to someone awhile back.  It’s hard to explain to a sedentary person just how awesome it is to go out and completely gut yourself on a bike.  Yeah gutted, thats a term we use, it has two meanings, to remove the intestines and internal organs before being cooked, or to feel very upset and disappointed.  In cycling lingo gutted is closer to the first definition.  It means to ride so hard that you have nothing left, you can hardly get off your bike, you’re dead, cooked, stick a fork in you, you’re done.


When I think about it, we use lots of terms that may lead people to think that cycling is more about a group torture session then having fun.  We bonk, get road rash, endo, go on death rides, death marches, we kill it, drop the hammer, we suffer, have a sufferfest, get used and abused, and sometimes we auger in, that’s when you crash and get driven into the ground.

So what makes it so great?  I was on a veteran’s day mountain bike ride last week that makes for a great example.  Give me a minute to walk you through it.  Seven of us started the ride, all good riders, and everyone looking for a good full ride since we started early.  We kept things very civilized through the first part of the ride.  Eventually we came to the “Coon” a 2.82 mile trail that mostly climbs up to the road that would be our turn around point.  Eli took the lead on this climb and kept the pace very manageable, but as we got closer to the top he would slowly turn it up a notch, then another.  I was sucking wind and just trying to hold on and felt a great relief when we finally got to the top.


I decided to get a little revenge on the way down.  I’m not really that brave of a rider, but I pretty much let it all hang out on the way down.  I managed not to do anything too stupid and kept the bike upright.   While the climb was a steady state grind the descent was a series of all out sprints followed by hanging my rear way off the back of the bike and hoping I could get slowed down enough for the next turn.  I knew everyone was behind me trying catch up and I didn’t want it to be easy.  At the bottom I was sucking wind and bushed.  Tom explained what is so great about riding like that.  He said that when your riding trail at those speeds every bit of your concentration is focused on riding, there is no time to worry or think about anything but the next few yards of trail.


On the way back we detoured to do a little exploring and look for some new trails, we rode old school trails that are slow and technical.  Eventually we came to a natural spring that was really cool.  The water gushed out of a a hollowed out tree root.  Of course I had to try some of the water.  The sulfer content was very high so the water had that delicious rotten egg taste and I immediately spit it out.


We continued on and I began to pay the price for my earlier hard efforts.  The ride was going a bit longer then I had planned and I was getting low on calories.  I could tell this because I was beginning to get light headed.  I found myself dangling off the back of the group.  When your blood sugar gets low on a ride it’s called a bonk.  A full on bonk can come on real fast and take all the wind out of your sails.  An extreme bonk can leave you nearly delireous.  Fortunately this was just the early warning signs, I was feeling weak, tired, and just a bit lightheaded, but I could remember my name.  I stopped and ate my remaining gummy bears.

The next couple of miles were a blur, I was teetering on a bonk but  I felt the delicious high fructose corn syrup in the gummy bears creep into my system and soon energy levels were back up, and just in time too.  Our final climb of the day was a quarter mile up a rough fire road.  I was near the back but feeling great.  I got out of the saddle and launched the bike up the climb.  Tom was in the lead and had been riding strong all day, it wasn’t really a race, but you know.  I passed a few guys and came up on Tom fast.  He glanced back and saw me then kicked it down.  I drew up beside him and saw we were almost out of hill. I was giving everything I had to the bike but I couldn’t pass him.



The quarter mile gravel road to the parking lot was the longest quarter mile of the ride.  I slumped over the bars, barely able to keep the bike moving.  Joe asked if he needed to come pick me up, even though the truck was now in view.  In the parking lot I slid off my bike and crumpled to the ground in a state of both complete exhaustion and euphoria.  Why would anyone drink or take drugs when you can feel this good for free?  I remembered to thank Joe for his military service in South Asia.

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Dirty Benton Cyclocross Clinic

IMG_8151It’s kind of strange, last year we had a Cyclocross meet and like 20 people came, it was 35 degrees, raining, and so muddy we could barely ride the course.  Today we had a meet it was mid 60s, clear, and the course was dry and fast and 6 of us showed up.  Since there were just 6 of us and we had a variety of really delicious food and beverages we did a series of hot laps followed by intervals of eating.  It was excellent training.  Here’s the pictures from today’s Dirty Benton Event.

There will be more cyclocross meets this winter, it’s good dirty fun.

still life





tony crash1





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Sharing the Trails Like a Boss

Like a Boss

Like a Boss

A group of us rode yesterday around Pounds Hollow on some trails that are so perfect for mountain biking that you’d of thought they were built solely for us, though they were built primarily for horseback riding.  It’s deep fall now which means the campgrounds and trails are loaded.  We encountered so many horseback riders yesterday that I lost count.

I’m very happy to say it was a fantastic ride, the folks I ride with are contentious and respectful of everyone on the trails.  Sharing trails is not hard, we’ve been mountain biking in the Shawnee and sharing trails with other users for 30+ years.  It simple, we spot the horseback riders well up the the trail, get off our bikes, move off the trail and talk to the equestrians until they pass.  We did this many times yesterday without any trouble and talked to alot of friendly good people.

The last group we encountered were a little sour, as Tom and I talked to them and their horses while standing ten feet off the trail they kept telling us to talk to their horses.  I was thinking, damn I’m trying to talk to your horse, you keep interrupting.  They weren’t rude but they pretty much let us know they didn’t like us to be on the trail with them.

I got to see Barry’s new bike, a Santa Cruz Bronson which is an amazing machine.  It’s got lots and lots of suspension travel, big hit tires, and yet weighs about the same as my single speed.  It’s a true Enduro bike and Barry has the skills and lack of common sense needed for such a machine.



Now for some other sour news someone thought that it might be funny to write a few notes on some signs the forest service posted out there.  It’s funny because whoever made the notes can’t spell.  I can’t say much, I’m a horrible speller as well, but then again I don’t write stupid notes on government signs.  Just to be clear its not illegal, there are no fines, and your bicyle will not be cofiscated.


Umm Sure.


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Goodwill, Facebook, Phones, GlenVegas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATime for a Super Combo Post, first up is Goodwill, my favorite store in the world.  I could make a whole blog about how awesome buying crap at Goodwill is.  I found 3 awesome shirts yesterday.  A super sweet western shirt, a merino wool argyle sweater, and a Performance cycling jersey with BUILT IN NECK GAITOR and HOOD.  How awesome is that!  How about I model my new threads for you.

I'm such a pro that I can model and hold a conversation on the phone.

I’m such a pro that I can model and hold a conversation on the phone.



I try to stay off bandwagons.  I never bought a MC Hammer cassette tape, I never made a myspace page, I never got a cell phone, and I stayed far away from facebook.  I suppose in my mind usually the more popular something is the worse it is.  This is of course a fallacy, popularity doesn’t tell you if something is right for you or not.  Well the last few months I’ve embraced Facebook and tolerated a cell phone.

I made a facebook account in 2010, made 3 posts and didn’t log back into until 2014.  I checked it every now and again, but really didn’t start using regularly until the last few months.  I had a chip on my shoulder when it came to facebook.  I’ve been blogging since 2010 and I couldn’t see what use facebook would be to me, I already had an outlet on the internet and I didn’t want another site to check.  After using it for awhile I’ve found that I really enjoy glimpses into other peoples lives and heads.  Also I’m not ashamed to admit I like attention and facebook is great for attention starved dorks like me.  You can find me on Facebook as Gatt Molson. By the way, I’ve checked facebook about 3 times in the process of writing this post so far!


Phones, I’m not quite so keen on,  I’ve been using one on and off for the last year for my job, but I didn’t have a smart phone, and I only paid for like 250 minutes and used about 100 a month.  These phones were so unimportant to me that I washed 3 of them.  I finally bought a smartphone, though it was the cheap one.  I think its pretty awesome, it has a real keyboard!  I like having the phone, but mainly I use it as an mp3 player.  Text messaging is nice I have to admit.  Here’s a little tip for you guys that may have an older phone say like a Droid 4.  Uninstall all the updates to pretty much everything on the phone then set it not to autoupdate.  It works so much better now.

If your phone doesn’t have a sliding keyboard then you’re pretty much a loser.


Finally the time changed last weekend so it was time to break out the lights for riding.  Last night I got together with, John, John, Moon, Matt, and Ed for some night riding at Glendale.  Riding at night, as you can guess, is a much more intense experience.  We have bright lights and have no trouble seeing the trail in front of us, but the woods becomes a mystery.  Trails that you’ve ridden hundreds of times seem brand new at night.






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Wouldn’t it be Exciting if I Abandoned You in the Woods?

IMG_8022So Shauna and I decided to go hiking at Garden of the Gods today.  Really I decided to go hiking and dragged her along.  She wasn’t too excited about it, we’ve hiked here and there, and really everywhere, she wasn’t feeling to excited about anything really.  As we made our way down the 108E bluff trail I was trying to think of ways to make her life more exciting and raise her happiness level.  I said, “What if there was a bear and you thought it was going to eat you, and it ate me instead. I bet that would raise your happiness level.”  That idea was debunked since there are no bears in the Shawnee.


“OK, what if I abandon you here in the woods, and right when sun’s about to set I show up to guide you out, I bet that would be exciting and raise your happiness level,” I said. She agreed it would probably but she’d probably kill me if I did that.


About this time a group of horseback riders overtook us down a steep hill.  We entered into a hollow and the trail became very rugged.  The horses had difficulty with the terrain, or a few of them did.  We ended up waiting for them, a few times.  I’ve always wondered what kind of speed horseback riders usually maintain in the forest so I followed them leaving Shauna behind.  Thing is that I’m about like a dog, I’ll chase cars, people, bikes, horses, whatever.  I just like run and chase things.    I was hiking the rough terrain briskly, but not really breaking a sweat.  Shauna was struggling with the terrain and I was putting some distance on her.


Eventually I looked behind me and didn’t see her,  I decided to wait up and let the horses go.  After a few minutes when she didn’t show I began jogging back.  I encountered a group of 3 hikers and asked them if they’d seen a woman.  “Yeah we saw her, she was 100 yards ahead of us.”

“She was going back right?” I asked.

“Nope she was still going our way,” they answered.  How could that be.  Had she fell into a portal?  There was only one trail and it was meandering through a box canyon, there was no way out, other to turn around.  I decided that she had to have turned around and these guys just didn’t’ see her.  I ran most of the way back up, a little over a mile.  I knew there was no way she was ahead of me after a about 5 minutes because I was moving probably twice as fast as her.

Now I was starting to freak out.  How could this be?  She couldn’t disappear?  Could she?  I stashed my camera in the car and began running back down the trail, cursing my stupid joke earlier.  I really had abandoned her in the woods.  I tore off running and in about 5 minutes I stopped and began to whistle.  I heard a faint whistle coming from a trail that we didn’t take, one that went East instead of West.  I ran down the trail and in a minute  I yelled “SHAUNA!”  and heard back, “MATT.”

So the story was that when I got out of sight she couldn’t find the trail and thought she saw a path that lead up out of the canyon to the east that I must have taken.  She scrambled up this path and followed it until it petered out in the middle of the forest.  Dead end paths like this are ubiquitous in the Shawnee.  She continued to bushwack, totally lost until she nearly tripped on some ancient barbed wire.  She was about to give up and offer her body to the circling vultures when she remembered that Strava had a map and she was using Strava on her phone.  She was able to use the map and get on a heading back towards the parking lot.  After about ten minutes of bushwacking she ran into the o01 trail heading East and followed it back to me.

So did it work?  Yes.  her excitement and happiness levels were much higher after being lost in the woods and finding her way out, but she didn’t need me to come save her.  She still wanted to kill me though.


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Share the Trail, episode 1

This was tongue in cheek, and really not fair.  99% of horseback riders we meet are friendly.    The real thing to do when you see a horse is dismount and yield right of way to the horseback riders, giving ample communication to help them know your intentions.

Share the Trail!

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Not Exactly Going Single Speed

I procured a new derailleur hanger for my SCUD 29er frame this week with the hopes of converting it to a single speed.  I really don’t want to have a single speed, but I’m tired of my derailleur getting hung up in the cassette or getting snapped by a twig, plus most of my friends are on single speeds.

I considered gearing, when you only have one gear to choose from that choice becomes pretty important.  Everybody’s got their own ideas of what kind of gearing works best, but the truth is that everybody is different.  I’m a road biker at heart and like to spin.  I’ve ridden a 22 and 23 tooth gear with little problem, but for some trails with little climbing a 20 may be the way to go.





Considering I’m using a tensioner for this bike, I thought, why not slap on more than one gear.  So here it is a multi-speed-single-speed.  24, 22, and 20 tooth options.

In other gear news I got a new bash guard for the Beast of the East, a vintage Girvin Rock Ring in ANODIZED PURPLE!!! This has been hanging on the wall at Carbondale Cycle for about 20 years, I said, “Hey I’ll give you 1o bucks for that.”  It worked.



In atmospheric news the sunset was stunning tonight.


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