Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MoCo Epic Round-up!

I few days ago I posted up about my preparations for the Montgomery County Mountain Bike Epic  Today I thought I'd come out from under the pile of work on my desk and post up how it went.
The MoCo Epic was another great ride this year.  Calling it a ride is actually selling it really short.  It was a full-on mountain bike festival.  There were rides that were epic, yet doable for people of most skill levels, music, beer, food, stunt cycling performances and a great bike expo area.  

I ran into 3 others who rode a long ways to get to the epic.  Jeff rode from Arlington, for 131 miles total, Baler and I rode from different sides of the DC Metropolitan area, but wound up with just short of 140 miles for the day, but Super Dillon took the cake riding around 150 miles for the day to complete the epic.    I saw a lot of single speeders... and Drevil's amazing single speed fat bike, but I didn't see anyone else riding fixie.  My buddy Ben rode the 35 mile route on his unicycle.  Truly awesome. 

The cool thing about the MoCo Epic is that it can be epic for all kinds of cyclists.  There was a time not that many years ago where 25 miles was epic for me.  This event makes it possible for people to challenge themselves and do stuff that they didn't think was possible! 

Quick observation about riding fixie for that kind of mileage... It is a very interesting prospect. One thing I love about the fat front fixie is that the bike just SCREAMS to blast through, up and over things.  On a 137 mile ride with a rolling time of over 12 1/2 hours, I am not able to ride it that way.  My game plan from the get-go was to do enough to make it over the next hill.  I didn't blast up anything.  I rode to survive.... Not a lot of blasting was done.  There were some times where my legs were saying, "Come on!! You can crush this hill!" and I had to hold back a lot.    That isn't easy when my buddy Sean is up the trail churning out a great pace up a hill!  I did make it home, but there wasn't much left in the tank.  Luckily two of the aid stations were still open on the way home and I got to top-off on gummi bears.  

I can't begin to thank the volunteers and organizers enough for making this festival happen.  It was great to see so many people out having a great time on two wheels.  It was great to reconnect with a few friends.... some I hadn't seen in person since last year's epic.  

What's next?  The MoCo Epic's Volunteer ride is this Sunday.  I'm going to bake some cookies and ride back up to MoCo and say thank you in person. :D

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MoCo Epic Prep

Twas the night before MoCo and all through the house, pretty much every creature is stirring. 

The MoCo Mountain Bike Epic ( is what I'm talking about.  This is my third year of riding the MoCo Epic and I seem to do it differently every year.  By the book, it is a collection of rides that connect as many as 11 different trail networks together in Montgomery County, Maryland.  The 62 mile route is an IMBA Epic.  There are also 50, 35 and 25 mile loops that go off with this ride.  There's something that is epic for everyone. 

What is epic for me?  This year the long loop bumps out to 65 miles and includes about 8 miles of new single track.  The last 2 years I've I've ridden the MoCo from home, in Falls Church, VA.  That adds about 35 miles of riding to the beginning and end of the ride… about 22 of those miles is on dirt.  The paved sections are no picnic… pretty much a series of short, steep climbs and descents that serve as the Virginia/Maryland welcoming committee.  Any time you arrive at or leave from the Potomac River in that area, you're faced with some nice hills. 

In 2010 I rode the MoCo from home on my rigid single speed mountain bike.  It came out to about 139 miles of riding and it took me a hair under 14 hours of rolling time.  I had a blast and thoroughly loved the ride. 

2011 needed a little extra challenge.  The day before MoCo I rode Seagull Century on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  It is a wonderfully flat, but notoriously windy century.  I rode it on a fixie road bike and had a time a hair under 5 hours.  At the time that was the fastest century ride I'd ever done.  Sunday morning I was rolling out of the house at 3:30am on my geared, full suspension mountain bike for 136 miles of MoCo Epic goodness.  I rolled easy to the start and was very, very fortunate to have Sean, Chris and others to pace me through the ride.  It wasn't until almost 11am that my legs woke up and started to really put out a bit of power.  I managed to make it home in very good time… I cut an hour out of the previous year's rolling time. 

2012 is a very different year.  I've had some great rides, but have been plagued by nagging issues that, though they didn't stop me from riding, they certainly made my endurance rides for the year a lot more challenging.  For that reason, MoCo is special for me this year.  This is my last endurance event for the year.  I thought I'd step it up by attempting the ride on my fixie mountain bike.  A fixie is a bike that has only one gear and does not allow you to coast.  If the bike is moving, so are the pedals.  The trick is to pick a gear that lets you make it up the climbs while still allowing you to hold a decent pace on the descents.  I've been riding fixie mountain bikes quite a bit the last 2 years and having a lot of fun with them.  It is a nice next step to go long on one. 

The bike is ready to go!  My clothes are laid out.  I made the food I'll eat during the ride and prepared bottles for tomorrow.  My lights and GPS are charged.  I'm pretty well rested and ready.  I'll set out at 3:45 tomorrow morning and head northwest into Maryland to ride with 800 of my closest friends.

The truly amazing thing about this ride isn't the people riding, it is the folks that made it happen.  My friend Denis has found an amazing crew of people in Montgomery County that all pitch in to make this ride an amazing event.  It is bigger and more spectacular than we've seen yet.  He's got hundreds of volunteers and many sponsors that have tirelessly worked to build and mark trails, set up the start area and aid stations and will work from early in the morning until well into next week to make this event one of the most incredible mountain bike events in the country. "Thanks" just isn't enough to show how grateful we all are that you do this.

Tune in tomorrow and see how it all plays out. 

Hugs and kisses,


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Evolution of a Troll

I'm talking about a Surly Troll, not the other kind, you perv. ;)

"What the hell are you riding?" is not a question that I'm entirely unaccustomed to.  This morning's ride got a few new iterations of that question.

The short answer is that it is a fixed-gear touring bike.  I call it Tuna Casserole Surprise.  If you grew up in the 70s, you may remember dinner on those nights when no-one felt like shopping and pretty much everything in the cabinets and fridge ended up getting tossed into a casserole dish with a can of tuna, some mayo and crunched up potato chips on top.  It came out of the oven a little while later as a "meal".  That pretty much describes the life of this bike so far... and it gets re-invented on a regular basis.

I use it mostly as a commuter, but I'm really preparing it for a trip on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal (Pittsburgh to DC) either this fall or next spring.  

The bike is based on a Surly Troll mountain bike frame.  The troll is a particularly versatile frame... designed as a 26"-wheeled mountain bike with all the things you need to use it as a touring bike (rack and fender mounts and lots of tire clearance).  I built mine using 700c wheels, 45mm tires and really long aluminum fenders.  The frame has rear-facing, horizontal dropouts in back, so it is perfectly set up for single speed or fixie use.  A bike that gets this much use really works much better with disc brakes.  They're reliable, durable and have great stopping power.  I sized the bike so that it fits correctly with drop bars.  

I've been riding it in this incarnation for about 5 months now.. putting close to 2000 miles on it in that amount of time.  It has proven to stable, reliable, comfortable and a lot of fun to ride.  

The newest addition to the bike are front racks and panniers for carrying stuff.  I've got a long history of shoulder injuries, and having a bike that I can commute on and not have to rely on messenger bags or backpacks is a good thing.  It additionally gives me the ability to do something like a 3-day, 420 mile tour without having to cobble something together to carry all the things I'll want.  

The racks are from Tubus. They are the Duo model.  The Surly fork is designed specifically to work well with this rack, as it requires rack mounts on both the inside and outside of the fork.  It lets the racks be small and minimalist without sacrificing the ability to carry two fully-loaded panniers up front.  

I chose Ortlieb classic roll-top panniers for up front because they're compact, great in bad weather and virtually indestructible.  They also come in a lovely color of orange that matches the bike.  

I know what you're asking:  Why put all the weight on the front wheels?  Doesn't it handle strangely?  

As a fixed-gear bike, it actually handles much better with the weight up front.  With a fixie, most climbing is done out of the saddle and by sprinting hard on the pedals.  Over the years I found that if I have a rack with bags on the back, the whole back end of the bike wags and bends along with the extra weight.  This makes the bike a handful to control and forces me to ease off the power going up hills, thus making climbing a lot more difficult.  

While having the weight on the front wheel takes a bit more effort to initiate a turn, the climbing and sprinting ability of this bike is GREATLY enhanced.  As long as the load between the two sides is relatively balanced, it is stable enough for me to ride confidently with no hands.  

What's next with this bike?   Yes, there are still many things that need to be completed before it is really considered "done".  

The next two projects are a Dixie Drivetrain (please ask) and a generator light system.... both of those are topics for another day and another blog entry.  :D  
Hugs and kisses,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Vanquishing the Black and White

Events of the last few weeks, months, years have been weighing heavily on my mind.  It bothers me when people’s views on certain topics come between them.  I’ve had so many times where the politics have been so divisive that friends who have had so much in common either can’t talk in a civil manner, or just choose not to talk at all.  I often find myself not saying anything because don’t want to deal with angry comments on either side of the issues. 

Am I talking about the Presidential Election?  Immigration policy?  The ongoing budget/tax cut battles?  Nope.  I’m talking about the Lance Armstrong doping case that has been going on for quite some time, but has come to a head in the last few weeks.  To some he’s a hero.  To others, he’s a cheat.  In cycling circles, there is virtually nothing between the two extremes.

As usual, I’m so far outside the box, that I find myself right smack in the middle of the two extremes.  I’m not here to talk about what I think on the topic.  I’m going to try to get y’all to talk about it in your own lives and with your own friends.  More than talk, I wholeheartedly encourage you to listen.  That’s something that we tend to lose so much.

It wasn’t so long ago that I was so far to the extreme of the “Lance is evil” camp that I couldn’t listen.  What changed?  I had a shakabuku, the swift, spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever.  I had a 90 second talk one day with a friend in the bike room at work.  It was just the right amount of time for me to realize that I needed to change.  It wasn’t anything that my friend said… but my reaction to what he said.  He’s someone I respect immensely.. and his views were so different from mine, that I couldn’t help receive the cycling equivalent of a shakabuku.  I needed to spend more time listening and a lot less time thinking about right and wrong… black and white. 

Bottom line:  The years of negativity that I’ve had about Lance, the way he treated other people and the sport of cycling were really not at all different from the people I know who have just as ardently believed in his innocence and great works for cycling and those who suffer from cancer.  Seeing things only as black or white helps no-one.  Nothing worth being passionate about is every good to see in only black and white.  The joy is in the details…. The meeting of minds… the process of adding complexity to ones views and lives. 

Where do we go from here?  I know what I’m doing.  I’m going to find some people that I know and love and listen to what they have to say.  I’ve been doing that for a few months now, since my initial shakabuku.  It helps.  Trust me.

If you’re cheering about the recent happenings in the case, then I urge you to go out to the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s web site and spend a little time there.  Read some of the testimonials from people whose lives have changed dramatically from the things they do.  Better yet, talk to a cancer survivor about the help they’ve received.  Listen, learn and make it your own.  I did.

If you steadfastly believe that Lance has been wronged and is a victim of a witch hunt, spend a little time reading Jonathan Vaughters’ recent editorial/confession in the New York Times, the article about Betsy Andreau in yesterday’s Washington Post or Paul Kimmage’s article in The Guardian this week and see how things look from the other side. 

From there you do not walk away.  Do not point fingers.  Do not judge.  Learn, live, love and go for a long bike ride!  

Thanks for reading.




Lance Armstrong Foundation:  Look everywhere, but specifically look at the Get Help, Take Action and What We Do links.  This blog entry was another good place to start:  Notice that I say “good place to start”.  There are so many good resources for positive information here.  Let this be the beginning of a journey to learning about the good and the healing that goes on… not just talking about healing bodies… but also minds, souls and families.

Jonathan Vaughters’ editorial in the New York Times:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Big loss for all of us.

Arlington County PD released this today:

Elderly Female Dies After Being Struck By Bicyclist
No Charges Brought Against Bicyclist During Tragic Accident
June 12, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Dustin Sternbeck, 703.228.4331

June 12, 2012

ARLINGTON, Va. – A 80 year old Arlington resident was pronounced dead late yesterday afternoon at Fairfax Hospital after being struck by a bicyclist.

The Arlington County Emergency Communications Center received the initial 9-1-1 report at 7:11 a.m. on June 11, 2012, regarding a collision between a bicyclist and pedestrian on the Four Mile Run Bike Path in the area of the 4900 block of Columbia Pike. The victim sustained significant head trauma after falling backwards, striking the back of her head on the pavement. The 62 year old bicyclist remained on scene and received treatment for a minor knee injury. He did not require transport to a hospital.

According to a witness and the bicyclist, the 62 year old man was heading downhill on his Next Powerclimber bike when he saw the victim ahead of him and attempted to warn her by yelling “to your left” and ringing a bell. This is when the 80 year old woman stepped to her left and turned around to be struck head-on, causing her to fall backwards to the ground.

Ita Lapina, 80, of Arlington, VA, succumbed to the injuries she sustained during the June 11 incident. She was pronounced dead at the hospital at 6:20 p.m.

For information related to bicycle and pedestrian safety, please visit the Prevention and Safety section on the Arlington County Police Department homepage at External link.

My thoughts and prayers are with friends and family of the woman who died as well as the man involved in the accident.  Truly a sad, and difficult time.

As cyclists, it reminds us that even when we do things correctly (sounding the bell and calling out) that things can go horribly wrong.

Please slow things down, leave extra room and pass with extreme care.  Y'all are very important to me.

Be careful out there.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seniors suspended for riding their bikes to school? Can some good come of it?


A few friends posted a few links about the Kenowa Hills schools principal who suspended 65 seniors for riding their bikes to school. 

Here's the article:

Here's Ms. Pennington's apology:

I liked what she said. It seems obvious to me that she overreacted, but that everyone could have handled things better.  Are we all better now?  Can we move on from this? 

Not quite yet.  I'm a bike guy that rides everywhere.   I gotta ask why a police escort is needed to ride your bike to school.  I thought that might be a good opportunity to see if some good can come of this whole thing...  So I wrote a quick email to the superintendent of Kenowa Hills Public Schools.   Will it do much?  Who knows.  Gotta try though. :D

Rock on, folks. 

I love you!



My letter to Kenowa Hills school district superintendent Gerald Hopkins:

Dear Mr. Hopkins.

My name is Pete Beers and I'm just a normal person that rides his bike a lot in the suburbs of Washington, DC.  I read a little about your neck of the woods this week and thought I'd write. 

I imagine you've received a lot of contact about the whole "bike to school prank" thing.  I'll be brief and constructive.  Ms. Pennington overreacted and gave what came off as a heart-felt apology.  Lots of things could have been handled better by all people involved.  It sounds like things worked out well in the end. 

Could this be a good time to maybe take a look at why a police escort is needed for a student to ride their bike to work?  I know it isn't an easy issue because it involves a lot of people and groups in the community.  There's a group that specifically works on this issue.  They are my friends at the Bikes Belong foundation.   Riding a bike to school, or anywhere else for that matter, cures so many problems that we are facing these days.

You've got a great, spirited bunch of students in your school district.  Perhaps this can be a cause that y'all can take up together.  Make the whole community a better and more sustainable place to live and move.

Please find a few links with a little information on how to turn this whole thing into a positive gain for the school, Ms. Pennington, the district and the community.

Best wishes,

Pete Beers
Falls Church, Virginia.

Bikes Belong's Safe Routes to School National Partnership:

Safe Routes to School:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'm in the mood for love...

Okay.  I'll get this out of the way now... I'm the world's worst blogger.  Sorry about that, y'all. 

Now on to the topic for the day. 

If y'all know me at all, you're familiar with my rather odd way of dealing with conflict and aggression while riding a bicycle.  I had a good example yesterday. 

There's a cyclist who I encounter almost every day... often twice per day, who passes people very close, with no warning and riding REALLY fast.  He also salmons (rides the wrong way on a one way street) down Lee Highway into Rosslyn.  I've asked him a few times to please give a little more room and announce his passes.  He used to respond politely, but not change his behavior.  Last week he started just telling me to shut up. 

Last night on my way home he did a particularly obnoxious pass and cut between a stroller and a dog walker at high speed in order to keep from having to slow down.  That kinda set me into action.  I chased him down and sat on his wheel singing the song "I'm in the mood for love" (Doris Day version... not the Nat King Cole version) while on his back wheel.  Best part is that I really don't know the words... so I just filled in a lot of nonsense.  

Eventually he asked me to stop (It seemed like 20 minutes later...  It was probably more like 5 minutes).  I told him that I'd stop when he promised to pass more safely.  He agreed.  I wished him a nice evening, turned around and headed for home.  We'll see what happens. 

Love overcomes all obstacles!