Monday, March 18, 2013
Otis has always seemed like a mythical place for me. Sort of like Mordor or Gnarnia....oops Narnia. I have never been to Otis. Otis Airforce base is a winter rollercoaster playground for mountain bikes. Typically when the rest of the NECX is buried in snow the Cape will be rideable. Not always. But after a winter like we have had I was (am) losing it. How would you be able to tell my losing it from my day to day full auto ADD velocb? Its not easy. I have never ridden Otis. I have heard great things but it just hasn't happened. Again like mythical places or beasts you over think it. But when Sensie asked my to play hooky for a Ferris Bueller's road trip to the Cape to shred the Gnar I got interested. I jokingly asked him whether he got the day off because of the new Pope or because of St Patrick's Day. Pretty much both. Ahh Boston you so crazy...
I was a bit nervous. While most people look at the #chipbakerlifestyle as a permanent state of staycation. I have actual responsibilities. And while your "job" may seem important to you, if you mess up you get yelled at by your boss. NBD. If I mess up DSS gets involved. I take the care of my kids very seriously. Sure I can get out for an hour so on a ride midweek when you all are stuck in your cube. But I have a comfort zone of how far I can be away from home during the day. Sort of like how a cat roams its territory. I circle out. I don't like to be too far away incase something happens. And trust me something happens pretty frequently. And while Otis is pretty close the Cape is weird. For a world class tourist destination it has a pretty crappy infrastructure. I have been stuck for hours trying to get across those antiquated bridges. But I put my little stay at home dad freak out in a box. I could tell Matt needed to get in the van. So we met up around 9 and headed out. You know that feeling when you leave the house and you just know you have left something behind? Ahh yeah. I did the usual check. Helmet, shoes, yadayada yadada. I had my usual yard sale of stuff in the van. A little voice kept trying to tell me something but I was too stoked to finally be riding Otis to listen.
So we pull into some parking lot off the highway. We start getting kitted up. Ahhh that is what I forgot! Left my leg warmers at home. Shit. It was way too cold to go with uncovered legs. So I improvised. I took my long sleeved craft baselayer and cut the sleeves off. Voila instant leg warmers. I figured I would end up looking like Katie Compton at World's when her leg warmers kept falling down but wasn't going to worry about it. Shockingly they never slipped. A testament to the Vermarc bib leg grippers I suspect. I forgot to mention Aumiller set me up with a sweet awesome strap to hold my tube under my saddle. I guess he was sick of seeing my lame duct tape job that I have been using since Dark Horse 40 last year. Can't blame him nothing like duct taping a tube to your seat post. Its effective but pretty trashy. The awesome strap is really nice. Holds the tube and 2 Co2s and a lever really nicely. And it looks pretty badass in my mind. It also gives me room in my jersey pockets. I tend to cram so much stuff into my pockets. I am not a big fan of wearing a camelback but having to dig through a tube and a bunch of stuff trying to find that one gu packet can be a drag.
So we punch into the woods and start looking for some fun trails. The conditions were great. Zero snow, zero wet spots. There were still some downed trees but clearly someone had been busy clearing the trail. There was a ton of stuff on the ground though. Otis is hungry for deraillers right now. Be warned. I sucked so many things up into my chain it was ridiculous. Luckily neither of us had a derailler on our bikes so we had zero mechanicals. Yeah singlespeeds do have some advantages over geared bikes. And they are way more fun. Obviously. So other than forgetting my leg warmers I had broken a golden rule of any ride. I installed a brand new Rotor Ring on the bike. Of course Otis was the first ride on it. Now this is no big deal for someone like resultsboy. I have seen him do full stem swaps right before a race. But I am sort of picky about these things. Nothing screws up the flow of a ride than having to stop and mess with something on the bike. But for once I actually worked on my bike and it didn't explode 5 seconds into the ride. What is up with that weird chainring? Who knows. Its good enough for Vos and Bigbikes Thom. People got pretty antsy when I posted a photo of it up on instagram. How can an oval chainring work on a single speed? My god the chain tension!!! It was fine. Man people need to chillax. It did not as Thom said make a big ring ride like a little ring. In fact I may have to stop listening to fast guys and taking their equipment suggestions.
The problem with asking a fast guy for equipment advice is they are fast and you aren't. They aren't fast because they have some weird chainring, they are fast because they are strong as hell and ride constantly. And are badasses. But yeah I asked for some gearing advice for SSPA. Go bigger. My friend who won DH40 last year did it on a 33x16. Holy crap that is a big gear. But there is a method to the madness. Sure you will suffer on the hills but its nice to be able to actually put some pedal to the metal when you are on some nice flowy single track. So as a start I put the Rotor Ring on the bike. My old front ring was a 32. This one is a 34. So I went from 32x19 to 34x19. No big deal right? Umm yeah not riding the singlespeed all winter and then having to power up some nasty little climb was a bit like getting kicked in the nuts repeatedly. Didn't help that Aumiller is on form right now. Well he is always on form but clearly has been doing his Blue Hills access road repeats. He was floating up all the hills while I was at heart attack levels in the red zone. I chased him as best as I could. After about a half hour of this we stopped to take a look and to get our bearings and saw a "rabbit". It looked very familiar. Had Das Ice Weasel's handiwork all over it. It was pretty creepy why lie.
We shredded for about 2 hours. Matt sort of knew where he was going as he had been in there before. But I have to say it was pretty easy to follow. We definitely missed some stuff. But what we did find was pretty sweet. Flowy, up and down. Definitely a power riders playground. Some sketch but more of the moto influence. You could see the influence of offroad motorcycles. I sort of pump checked on a drop in. Its been a while since I have come across a gash in a trail like that. Just some drop in chute with boulders scattered about. It was NBD once I got over my mini-freak out. It was a good introduction to Otis. I would definitely go back in Winter or while the trails up here are closed. I think it would be a disaster in the summer. It was pretty overgrown to say the least. Lots of branches and sticks etc. Eyewear was a must. I got "stabbed" in the neck on one drop in by some branch. Luckily I had a high collar on my winter jacket. Full contact to say the least. We did find some pretty hilarious stunts in there as well. Don't even know how its possible that anyone could ride them. But they looked well made. So clearly someone was hucking off them. I also found my Spirit Animal. And out Bodi'd, Bodi. I found a gorgeous Red Hawk feather right as we were heading back to the car. I stopped and put in under my seat. Then as we punched out into a clearing a HUGE hawk swooped down and just hung over us. Aumiller called me a dirty hippy. Yeah its true. I am...so stoked for mtn bike season to be back. Man I have missed it. Oh and the fast guys are telling me I need an even bigger gear. To go faster...ugg.