Trek Fuel EX 9.9 Project One Update

I’ve previously shared my thoughts on my custom Fuel Ex 9.9…

Saturday, we did a 40 mile road ride (on the Madone, of course), which I’ll write about separately at some point…and in the afternoon, I headed up to Kettle Morraine with a good friend, to do a lap on the mountain bike.

I was pretty hammered after 40 miles on the road, a significant chunk of which was spent rocking at full speed, with a strong group of riders…but the weather was beautiful (80 and sunny), and I couldn’t wait to spend some more time on the Fuel.

I have to tell you, it may be the greatest bike I’ve ever ridden.  It is so incredible to ride–so confidence inspiring–it’s amazing.  The Madone is a great bike.  But honestly, the gains in speed I have on the Madone over previous road bikes I’ve had were marginal–if you’re looking at the gains solely attributable to the bike.  My Moots is a great bike–but again, compared to previous gravel bikes I’ve had–marginal gains.  Marginal gains do make a huge difference over a full day in the saddle…and even if the gains are marginal, I’m in no rush to go back to earlier bikes I’ve had.  But there’s something truly different about the Fuel.

It makes me a better rider.

I ride at a comfort level on the Fuel that I’ve never had on any previous mountain or fatbike.  Unless you’re in sand (more on that below), the grip seems endless.  I’m running about 30psi in the tires (tubeless), recommended pressure in the shock based on sag, recommended pressure in the fork based on weight, and the bike just shreds.  The harder I push, the tighter it turns.  It’s the perfect bike for my mountain biking.

The XTR 1×11 drivetrain is perfect.  For midwest climbs, plenty of gearing.  Shifting is perfectly intuitive–think about a gear change and it’s already happened.

The XTR Trail brakes are literally braking perfection.  The levers are perfectly shaped for one-finger braking, the brakes work consistently on every stop from first to last, they don’t squeal, they don’t fade, they don’t change consistency.  They don’t require bleeding, they don’t warp, they don’t do anything bad.  They just do everything you ask of them, perfectly.

The RS-1 fork took some getting used to–you can’t set pressure based on sag.  (Pressure ends up way to low).  But if you use the weight chart, it’s just buttery perfection on every surface.  My RS-1 is laced up with Sapim CX-Ray spokes to an ENVE XC rim…and it’s like having a surgical scalpel.  Wherever you think about putting your front tire, it’s there.  The level of detail and precision in the handling is amazing.  That surgical steering precision is combined with buttery shock absorption that is disconcerting at first–but when you get used to it, it’s just amazing.  It’s the best fork I’ve ever ridden–made better by stunning wheels.

The DRCV shock does its DRCV thing in a totally transparent fashion.  You just use the travel on the bike–no sagging, no hopping, no bottoming out.  It just crushes whatever obstacle you ride over, and you don’t feel anything averse from the saddle.

The dropper post took some getting used to, and some effort to get properly working, but now it’s fine.  Honestly, I don’t really use it much.  I have it set so that at full height, I’m at full cycling extension (road bike saddle height).  I tend to drop it about 3/4″ from there, and just leave it set.  That gives me enough leg extension for comfort and power, but enough saddle clearance to move around and get in front of or behind the saddle.  For my purposes, a carbon post would be lighter and less complex.  But it’s on there, and it works, so I’m not changing anything just yet.

I spent years screwing around with Ergon grips, and getting hand cramps at the end of a long day of biking.  On the Fuel, I have a set of ESI Chunky foam grips.  Stupid simple, stupid cheap, stupid comfortable.  I’ve chewed up the ends a bit from some narrow trails, but when they need replacement, it won’t be a shock to the bank account.

In short, this bike allows me to ride faster, and more comfortably, than any other mountain bike I’ve ever owned, or test-ridden…and that’s quite a big swath of bikes.  It just shreds.  I brake less, carry more speed, feel more comfortable.

I suck in sand.  I can’t figure out how to ride it, and Kettle has quite a bit.  My front wheel pushes, I steer more, my front wheel grabs, and I oversteer off the trail.  Or my front wheel pushes, I try to hold a steady line, and I understeer off the trail.  I’m not sure if that’s technique, tire pressure, tire or a combination of all.  I suspect it’s technique, but trying different things (more weight up front, less weight up front) didn’t seem to help.  I have some reading to do there.

This is a rare circumstance where I can definitively say that I would be slower (and less comfortable) if I was on a different bike.

I continue to question the wisdom of those who do not ride full-suspension bikes.  My good friend was on a new Trek Stache 29+, but even with 29×3″ tires, there were areas with roots and such where he had to get out of the saddle to pedal, or just to try to ride over stuff.  In many instances, I was able to stay in the saddle, pedaling in comfort, letting my bike do the work for me.  I had better traction and greater comfort, and in those areas, I made up ground on a faster rider because of my rear suspension.  And this is such an incredible rear suspension.  ABP helps prevent brake jack, and whatever the anti-squat geometry built into this thing is, it just plain works.  The Superfish avoided squat by having very little travel.  The new Spearfish and (Horsethief, and all of Salsa’s other FS bikes) uses the Split Link rear suspension.  Every brand has their own thing.  The Trek rear suspension is simple in design, simple to maintain, elegant, and it just plain works.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

I know.  I’m not a former BMX’er, and I just don’t get the hardtail life.  C’est la vie.

With the possible exception of the seatpost, if I was ordering a new all-purpose mountain bike tomorrow, I would change nothing about it.  Nothing.  It’s just perfect.

If I was moving to the Rockies tomorrow, I’d throw a 2x XTR drivetrain up front, and change nothing else.

If I was doing an XC race, I’d change nothing.

Really–it’s an incredible bike.

The Best Ride I Ever Missed

Saturday was the Rapha Prestige Midwest ride, which was hosted by Axletree.  An amazing Rapha event, held locally, and hosted by my group.  Knowing my love of riding and my love of Rapha, you’d expect me to be there, but I wasn’t.

You see, a few weeks before Rapha decided on that date, I bought tickets to Taylor Swift for my daughter, and told her I’d take her.  And then the RPM date was announced, and I went into a moral crisis.  Take my 7 year old to her first concert and miss an amazing cycling event, or go to the cycling event and break my word to my daughter?  Yeah, I know.  I know.  When you phrase it that way, the answer is pretty clear.  So with a bit of a heavy heart, I decided I had to go to the concert.

When Dana and I were expecting our child, we both knew it was going to be a boy.  I mean, we didn’t find out from the doctor–we just knew it.  We were completely confident. We were so confident that when Lu was born, I did a double-take.  I was pretty sure something was missing.  In her first few days, I spent some time wondering if I was going to be a good “girl’s father.”  I mean, I knew I was going to try as hard as I could, but it seemed like a lot of my interests were more boy oriented.  As a kid, I spent a lot of time outside with my brother, or working in the shop with my father and grandfather.  We didn’t really do sports, but we spent a lot of time doing activities that are stereotypically man-centric.

The universe has a way of working things out.  With the passage of time and accrual of some small amount of wisdom, I’ve come to realize that there are no activities that are man-centric or mans-clusive.  And I’ve come to realize that I was destined to have a daughter.  An amazing, wonderful, brilliant, curious, enthusiastic, courageous daughter.  A daughter who does everything–from working in the garage to hitting the American Girl Doll store.  And so, as I held her tiny hand in mine and we walked into the Taylor Swift concert on Saturday night, the RPM ride was the furthest thing from my mind.

I’m not ashamed to admit that this is a new leaf for me.  Honestly, a few months ago–or even a year ago–I might have made a different decision.  I might have justified it to myself by saying that my daughter is only 7 and there will be more concerts.  Or I would have gone to the concert and been bitter about missing the ride.  For all of my angst about Dirty Kanza, and for all of the mixed feelings that it’s given me about cycling, it has been a rebirth of sorts for me.  It has reminded me of the things in life that are more important than cycling.  This has been a tumultuous summer.

So my congrats to the ladies and gentlemen that rode and finished RPM.  Personally, I think that if you weren’t screaming Shake It Off at the top of your lungs Saturday night, dancing with a 7 year old, you’re the one that missed out.

The Worst Best News.

Those who read this blog know that I’m a fervent supporter of Local Bike Shops, and that wherever possible, I buy locally.

I’m sharing this news with a heart that is both heavy, and happy.  It’s both broken and open.

North Central Cyclery is Seeking New Adventures and New Owners.

Tobie’s post over at NCC does a better job of describing what’s ahead than I can.  Tobie is a very good, very close, personal friend of mine.  He’s in that inner sanctum of brothers from other mothers.  I am indescribably excited for the next chapter in his life, as I’ve been indescribably happy to see his growth over the past six or so years that I’ve known him.  For me, the past six years have been full of change, of growth, of sickness and health.  Of finding myself, and finding who I’m not.  Tobie has been a vanguard in my journey of self-discovery, and a trusted friend and confidant.  I will miss having him at the shop, and I’m not going to go into it beyond that, because my feelings aren’t capable of being transcribed into a blog.

I met Tobie at NCC.  I wanted to check out the Big Dummy that they had in the window, when I was driving by.  That was a long time ago.  Through Tobie and NCC, I met Chad, Jeff, Paul, Aaron, Brendan, other Chad, Beth, Ross, Lenny, Mike, Jeff…I could keep going.  The list goes on and on.  I met the people who have formed the core of my non-family relationships.  I met my best friends.  (Heck, it also formed the basis of many of my e-friendships, like Eric, and Chris, and all of the other keyboard commandos out there).

But let me say something else, here.  North Central Cyclery has developed into something more than the sum of its parts.  There is a culture, an ethic, a group of workers and riders, and a brand, that are incredible.  This is an amazing opportunity for someone–someone to come in and take ownership of the shop–work with the amazing staff that they have (including a crew who are ready to assume all of Tobie’s managerial duties–or as much of those as the owner wishes to delegate).  Someone to work with the dedicated riders and community members who support the shop.  I don’t benefit from the sale of the shop in any way–I’m not an owner or employee.  But I am incredibly hopeful that the torch which has been carried thus far will be picked up and carried forward, by someone who has the same vision and integrity that Tobie has.

North Central Cyclery has a bright future, with the right leadership at the helm.  This is an unusual transaction, as the shop isn’t being sold because of death, or because of failure, or because of downturn.  The shop is on a steady, progressive growth trend that has the potential to continue indefinitely.  It has a name and a market that defy its location and size.  It has people from Michigan to Maine to California that order bikes from there, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t sell online.  It has a dedicated, national core of customers.

From time to time, I list something on here that I’m selling, or I’ll link to something that a friend is selling.  That time has come again, today.  This is the opportunity that someone has been waiting for.  I want to continue to be a part of a successful organization in our community.  I want to continue to patronize a local business, and to send my friends and neighbors there.  I want you–whoever you are–to find this opportunity and grasp it.  And so I share this, mindful of the fact that it signals a transition where my LBS manager will no longer be one of my best friends.  But you know what?  Six years ago, I didn’t know Tobie at all.  He was the kind of quiet guy with the earring, at the bike shop that had the weird bike in the window, who kept telling me I could test ride the bike whenever I wanted.  He never pushed me to buy.  It seemed like an awkward, and unprofitable business model.  And it’s carried the shop so far.  So.  Far.  Someone needs to come and be the next chapter.

Hurt so good.

Last night, it was about 60 degrees and raining.  10mph winds that were shifting direction constantly.  A miserable night to ride.

Before last night, I hadn’t ridden in 11 days.  I had been out of town a bit, but frankly, since Kanza, I haven’t had the fuel to ride.  Ordinarily, I’d be riding 4-5 days a week.  Through June, it’s been 1-2.  So I knew I was going to be off my game.  I knew I was going to be riding with a group of guys who were really on their game.  I knew I was going to suffer.

The weather was awful, as expected.  Spray from the road, pelting rain, the feeling of suffocating.  Trying to breath heavily while getting sprayed with a hose of water off of the tire in front of you.  The relief of reaching the front, getting out of the spray, and then realizing that you’re now facing the headwind.

I rode ok.  I got dropped, a few times.  I wasn’t in the money on any sprint.  (I wasn’t really there for the sprints, frankly).  You know how when you overcook a sausage, it stretches out the casing…and then when you cut it, as soon as the knife pierces the casing, it splits open?  That’s how my legs felt…like overstuffed, overcooked sausages.

At one point, coming up to Alp D’Kalb, I was pushing as hard as I could and the main group was pulling away from me.  Feller slowed down a bit and tried to pull me back on.  (Feller?  Seriously?  When did that dude get so strong?)  I was done.  My calves were starting that pre-cramp twitch, my quads were burning, my lungs were burning, my eyes were watering, and my vision was narrowing down to a tiny pinhole in front of me.  And I didn’t make it to join back on.

Coming back into town, I was sore.  I was experiencing the dull pain of fatigue, rather than the sharp pain of a hard exertion.  It sucked.

And I’m so glad I did it.  I’m so glad I rode.  I’m so glad it hurt–it was a reminder of the perils of not riding.  It was a reminder of how good it can feel to ride well.  It was a reminder of all that is good and wholesome about sprinting to the yellow sign.  I was wet, sore, tired, and feeling just this side of water-boarded.  And it was good.  It felt like a baptism back into riding.

My desire to ride has been rekindled, borne out of suffering.  Sometimes, you have to suck, to want to excel.

Exercising Your Demons

A few weeks ago, I had texted a friend on a beautiful day and asked if he wanted to go for a ride.  He responded that he was riding solo–that he had to exercise his demons.  Of course, it was an auto-correct error, but we both remarked on how ironic that change in language was.  Perhaps he wasn’t ridding himself of demons (i.e. exorcising), but rather was exercising them–making them stronger.

After Kanza, I have a few demons.  Strangely, my will to ride has been lessened.  If I missed a ride a few months ago, I would’ve stressed out.  If I miss a ride now, I’m ok with it.  I’m going to miss a major ride in a couple of weeks, and it doesn’t trouble me.  About a week ago, I did a long ride in the Driftless with Tobie and Chad (and partly with Pitts), and it was fantastic.  Not everything went to plan, but it just felt so good to be on the bike for a long day of effort, and it felt good to grill some burgers afterwards, and it felt good to blare the Beatles White Album on the way home.

Because not everything went to plan, it felt a bit like exercising my demons.  Maybe they’re stronger, but for some reason, I hear them less.

For those of you that are doing the Rapha Midwest Prestige, the course is brilliant.  Chad has outdone himself.  For those of you that don’t know about the Rapha Midwest Prestige, apologies–it’s too late for you.  But as a special preview, this is what the course will be like…

Driftless Drifting from Lawfarm on Vimeo.

Dirty Kanza, 2015

Language/Angst warning.

I went into Kanza ready for it.  I had trained for six months.  My nutrition was dialed, my bike was dialed, my life was dialed.  This was going to be a long, hard day, but I’d finish strong and be proud of what I’d done.  I could visualize the whole day, and visualize the finish.  I can’t say it in a different way–I was ready.  I was prepared.  I was fully aware, had completely researched, and I was completely in tune with what I had to do.  I had ridden training rides of the proper length and intensity.  I had tried various food and hydration regimens, and even with the rigors of this event, I was on it.  I was ready to crush it.

We got into Emporia on Thursday night.  We stayed at the Best Western, which was truly a hell-hole.  They didn’t have the right rooms for us, the doors wouldn’t latch closed, and the help was in full IDGAF mode.  Didn’t matter.  We were there to ride.  We were ready.

Friday was greeted with downpours of rain.  As the day went on, I started feeling sick.  And sicker.  And sicker.  I spiked a fever and started to lose my voice.  My compatriots took care of me, and I was in bed by 7:30 on Friday night, fully dosed on a variety of cold medications.  Around midnight, I awoke drenched in sweat, my fever having broken.  I took a shower, changed clothes, and went back to bed.  Saturday morning came early, and I rolled out at 4:30am.

We had breakfast.  For this trip, I had literally packed every morsel of food needed from when we left on Thursday morning through the completion of the ride.  I was leaving nothing to chance, and nothing to restaurants.  My GF/DF meal plan was in full effect, and I was totally conservative in my approach.  My wife–my ever-loving wife–had made so much great food for me to eat.

I was fully prepared, heart, soul, body, bike.  When we lined up, I didn’t have much in the way of voice, but I had spirit.  I was prepared.  We were at the starting line, and I was in the gates.  I was psyched.  I was ready.

Immediately before we started, Bobby Wintle gave me great advice.  He said, “where there’s mud, recognize it.  Walk when you need to walk.  Don’t try to ride the mud.”  He was totally on, and I knew he was wise.  We rode about 12 miles and hit the first mud.  I saw it, and I immediately stopped and bailed off the bike.  I carried my Moots for about 3.5 miles.  From time to time, I’d roll it, but mostly, it was carried.

When we got to the end of the walking section, I meticulously cleaned out the mud and muck off of my bike.  Meticulously.  I held my rear tire off of the ground and spun the pedals, to confirm all was good.  Feeling confident, I hopped on and started riding.  All was great.

We rode about 3/4 of a mile when I heard “PING PING PING PING Psssstsssst.” and my rear wheel locked up.  I stopped as quickly as possible and looked at the bike.  The rear derailleur was obviously f’d.  My first thought: “ok, this sucks.  But I am prepared, I have quick links and tools.  I can singlespeed this biatch, and go on.”  I then look at my rear tire and try to figure out why it is flat.

My bro-heim Brendan comes over to look at the bike.  I’m starting to remove the rear wheel, to get going on a singlespeed setup, but something isn’t right.  The rim is pushed hard into the frame.  He reaches down and points out a broken spoke.  Next to 3 other broke spokes.  Somehow, the derailleur went into the wheel, breaking 4 spokes on the drive side.  The wheel lost tension on that side, and warped into the frame on the non-drive side, hard enough to blow the tire off the rim.  Fuck.





Ok, come up with another plan.  I can still singlespeed it.

But the tire is blown off.

I can throw a tube in it, and singlespeed it.  Problem solved.

But the wheel is so warped, that it won’t spin in the frame.

I can…

I can….

I can……

What can I do?  I can’t release enough tension on the non-drive side to true the wheel enough to make it rideable.  Even if I get the tire back on and singlespeed it, the rim won’t clear the frame.  I’m fucked.  F.U.C.K.E.D.

This whole process took about 60 seconds.  Brendan and I realized that I was fucked.  He started to say how sorry he was.  He knew how I’d prepared.  He knew how fully invested I was.  I could see in his eyes that he was gutted–gutted for me.  I couldn’t take that.  I couldn’t make eye contact and see his pity.  (It wasn’t bad pity.  It was the pity that accompanies true friendship.)  I couldn’t do it.  My eyes started to well up involuntarily, and I made eye contact with Brendan.  I said all that I could say–“go and finish.  You’ve got this.”  I dunno–something to that effect.  I turned to walk my bike down the road, but the rear wheel was so fucked that the bike wouldn’t even roll. I shouldered it again and started walking.

At that moment, I had only one thought.  I’m proud of that one thought.  My only thought was that I needed to get back to town, get our car, and support the guys that were still riding.  I posted one quasi-vague, quasi-negative Facebook post, and deleted it 5 minutes later.  I was on a mission.  Support the troops.  I figured out where I was, and called for a ride.  My walk to the ride ended up being about as far as I had ridden all day.  C’est la vie.

I eventually got back to a car, bike on my shoulder, and got a ride to town.  I took a shower, got dressed, and headed to the course to support my brothers.  I did everything I could, all day, to support them.  I did everything I’d have wanted to be done for me.  I lubed, cleaned, and checked their bikes.  I lied to them, telling them that they looked strong and ready to go.  I gave them food and drink, and pushed them to keep eating.  I suppressed my internal strife.

From our team of 6, 2 finished.  I wanted.  So badly.  To be one of the finishers.  I was ready.  I was prepared.  I don’t know exactly what to write here.  I have a lot of conflicting emotions, and I haven’t fully processed my experience at DK, even though it’s a few weeks later.  I’ll do this stream of consciousness style, and try to get across my conflicting emotions.

  • Those that finished have my great admiration, and nothing that I write is intended in any way to diminish from their accomplishments.  I wish I could say that in a way that made it absolutely, unimpeachably clear–for my homie Brendan, I was truly inspired by your ride.  For my homie Chad, you’re insane, in the best possible way.
  • I was riding a CX frame with a Di2 drivetrain.  I’ve seen bloggers writing about all of the idiots with road derailleurs who blew up in the first 20 miles.  To those bloggers, I say: fuck you.  This isn’t Trans-Iowa.  I studied the past decade of DK races in detail.  I was fully prepared, fully acclimated, and had picked hardware that was properly suited based upon every scintilla of information available.  If you’d like to throw a stone and say I’m stupid for running the bike I ran, then great.  As soon as I develop the ability to predict the future, I will gladly start to do so, and will pick equipment based upon the conditions that I’m able to foretell.  Until then, I’ll prepare based upon all available information, and do my best to accommodate changes in the field.  That’s what I did here.  I failed.  I did my best.  Dudes on fatbikes failed too.
  • I accept that what happened was beyond my control.  I don’t know why it happened.  My drivetrain was clean and running properly when I got back on the bike.  I’m guessing I picked up a clod on the tire, and it fell on the chain and went into the derailleur.  I don’t know how to prepare for, or prevent, that particular situation.  I’m sofuckingmad that it happened.  But it did.  I can’t undo it.
  • I’ve read all of these posts saying, “if you haven’t failed, then you’ve not set hard enough goals.”  Honestly, I don’t subscribe to that.  That sounds like the kind of thing that failures tell themselves to feel better about failing.  I set ludicrous goals for myself–personally and professionally.  I prepare for every contingency.  I train.  I read, I prepare myself.  I go in ready for anything.  And I finish.  I win if winning is possible for me.  I do it. I adapt and overcome because when I set a goal, I’m set on accomplishing it.  I didn’t fail at DK and feel some sense of empowerment.  I didn’t fail and think, “damn, this is a true challenge that really puts me on the spot.”  I was prepared.  I failed.  I didn’t feel that I was a better person for it.  I set my sights on finishing DK, at all costs.  I failed.  That’s on me.  My previous successes in life have not been because my goals weren’t hard enough.  They’ve been because I’ve thrown my entire soul at my goals.  My failure at DK wasn’t because I didn’t try hard enough.
  • I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve questioned the course.  The DK organizers are amazing.  But.  If I was in their shoes, I can’t say as though I’d feel comfortable routing riders where they routed riders.  It doesn’t make a ride more epic when more people fail.  It just makes for a larger group of unsatisfied riders.
  • I just wrote, two points above, that my failure at DK wasn’t because I didn’t try hard enough.  That pains me.  So.  Much.  If I failed because my spirit broke.  Because I ran out of food or water.  Because I ran out of leg, or heart, or mind.  If I failed because of me.  Such a failure would, improbably enough, be so much more satisfying.  Instead, I failed because of some unforfuckingseen condition that blew up my bike and ended my day.  When I was done–when I realized I was truly done–I thought about walking as far as I could on the course.  I decided that my time would be better spent supporting my brothers that were still mobile.  In the greatest twist of irony yet, after making that determination, I realized that I had to walk the course to get to somewhere that a car could reach me.
  • Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.  I’m still there.  I don’t have a more eloquent answer.  Still just fuuuuuuuuuuck.
  • I’d like to say that barring this issue, I was prepared enough to finish, and to finish strong.  I think I was.  I think I was.  But honestly, that’s bullshit.  That’s talk from a blogger.  That dog won’t hunt, unless I actually did finish–which I didn’t.
  • I don’t know if I’m going back.  I don’t know if I can train for an event for six months, only to be taken out by some great cosmic joke.  I didn’t come away thinking, “DK vanquished me this year, but I’ll be back.”  I came away thinking, “I can’t believe how much of my life I wasted preparing for this.”  If I go back, it will be because I want to face the challenge of DK.  I will not go back based solely upon a quest to avenge this year’s squalid showing.  I have seen the consequences that a desire for revenge has upon people.  I will not be motivated by revenge or spite.

I’m sharing all of this because I don’t think it gets shared ordinarily.  If I went out and raced a crit tomorrow, I wouldn’t be all broken up about it if I lost.  That’s not my strength.  My strength is the stubborn will to continue.  My strength is analytically reviewing something and then preparing for it and then finishing it, when it is a test of will.  I know I’m not the strongest or fastest.  But I can control myself, and I can finish what I start.

I’m not writing this to solicit responses or sympathy.  I’m aware that some of what I’ve written may be controversial.  I’m writing this because it is the truth of my response to this event, and because I feel as though I need to write something about DK before I can go on with this blog.  So my options were either to write this, or to kill the blog.

This experience has changed me.  I see all of these posts about the new Salsa Cutthroat, and I’m like, “damn, that tire clearance…those big tires…that’s awesome.”  And then I look and see a regular derailleur without Alternator dropouts, and I’m back to, “that’s fucking stupid.  Who would design an adventure bike that cannot be SS’d in an emergency…or that cannot be built with an internal-gear hub?”  I dunno.

I’ve got a lot of pent-up anguish about this failure.  It’s my failure–no one else’s.  I’m not satisfied, and yet I’m not rushing back to sign up again.  I’ve written this to be a truthful reflection of my feelings, concern for others be damned.  I’m not planning on writing about it again; I’m moving on.

Brendan and Chad, I was inspired.  I wanted to be you, when you finished.  Knowing that I couldn’t be you, I wanted to, at the very least, be there for you.