Tuesday, July 23, 2013


photo by fdecomite
The Tour is over and I'm emerging from the grips of a twenty day Eurosport live race coverage binge. As dull as I find the Skybot in their US Postal-esque approach to dominance and control of the tour, it was great to see Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff probing the chinks in their armor. But that was to be too little too late as Froome's initial gap from the first climbing day proved to be insurmountable.

I found myself rooting for Alberto Contador, his alter ego Albuterol Clintador seemingly a thing of the past. Notice the distinct lack of very punchy climbing acceleration attacks by him? Remember how that was the thing he was most known and feared for? It looks like we saw a post-doping Contador in this year's Tour, a man who used tactical nuance to orchestrate the single best flat stage of racing I've ever seen in the Tour. Watching Saxo, Quickstep, and Belkin eviscerate the field in the crosswinds was unbelievably exciting.

Nairo Quintana quickly became our favorite rider here at Casa Moore. His closed mouth, Aztec visage, and legs spinning light, tight circles of death made him the climber to watch. All the better that he was finally able to drop Chris "Big Worm" Froome on the final HC climb of the Tour to ride himself into the maillot a pois (polka dot jersey) and 2nd place overall, after already securing the maillot blanc (white jersey). Chapeau, too, to JJ "Purito" Rodriguez for climbing his way past the duo of Contador and Kreuzinger to take the final podium position on the second to last day.

And finally, a begrudging congratulations to Quint Ervin for winning the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France for the second year in a row. Much like doping in sport, we're not sure what he's doing to win, but we know something ain't right.... As for my fantasy team, well let's just say building a team around Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen was not the most brilliant idea I've ever had. In looking at the worldwide winner of the Velogames.com Fantasy Tour de France, it appears that you have to exhibit some kind of combination of Rainman-like statistical knowledge with the prognostication powers of The Amazing Kreskin to reach the top. Here's the winning team:

I think next year is going to be my year. But, then again, I think that every year. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

What was I thinking?

With the foolishness of picking Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen as my GC contenders for this year's Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France now being readily apparent, I have been able to watch the Tour with a disconnected enthusiasm. To my own surprise, I have been rooting for Alberto Contador (now, clearly, no longer Albuterol Clentador) and Alejandro Valverde (of Operacion Puerto taint) to topple the predetermined destiny of Chris Froome. I don't have anything against Froome, but the dispassionate application of force by a drilled-to-roboticism team that simply rides the best riders into dust is too reminiscent of the USPS team tactics of the Armstrong era.

I am absolutely loving the emergence of Nairo Quintana as a climbing phenom. His closed mouth and smooth spin obscure the speed and power with which he climbs, but the catching and subsequent dropping of other pure climbers vividly tells the tale. He will have to add quick accelerations to his arsenal to cover the burst attacks of Froome and others to be an even bigger threat in the mountains, but that will come with training. He will need to work on time trialing to be a GC threat, but Froome has certainly shown that you can go from an unremarkable time trialist to a phenomenal one in the space of a year*.

Kudos to the fantasy cycling acumen of Quint Ervin who looks poised to take the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France for the second year in a row. The podium boys are getting all warmed up for the photo op, Quint!

I'm not taking things lying down though. Owen and I are working on some top secret hidden engine technology that we think Cadel, Tejay and BMC may be interested in. It may be a very different Tour next year. Very different.

*Fun Fact: prior to 2011, Chris Froome had never cracked the top 10 in any World Tour individual time trial. In the first ITT of this Tour de France he finished only 12 seconds behind former World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin and distanced formidable GC contenders with time trialing chops by over a minute in 25km.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Kaibab was never going to be an adventure dog voluntarily. While we lived in Flagstaff, it seemed like everyone around us had an adventure dog. We had Luna (our shop namesake) who despite being congenitally deaf and blind in one eye was always up for hours of mountain biking, trail running, hiking and hanging out in coffee shops and bars. There were dogs that loved going skiing and skijoring, there were river dogs that went for rafting trips down the Colorado River and other rivers in the Southwest and Rocky Mountains. There were all around adventure dogs that went everywhere with their owners forming a kind of unit, one never seen without the other. But that was not the life for Kaibab.

Kai and his litter mates were abandoned on the Navajo Reservation and made their way to a Humane Society display cage in a local pet shop. A typical mix of the herding dog breeds prevalent on the rez, they all appeared to be mixtures of border collie and heeler. I was smitten, Golden not so much. Kai was the last of his litter mates to get adopted, his odd mix of barrel shaped heeler body, skinny border collie legs and completely incongruous bat ears made our destinies hopelessly intertwined as I am a sucker for misfit animals (see: aforementioned deaf, half-blind dog, also see: crippled cat named Koshka, etc...).

We named him Kaibab, the Paiute indian name for the Grand Canyon, which translates to "mountain lying down". He did, in fact, resemble a mountain lying down as his physique tended toward bulbous and he was a layabout when it came to most things except food.  The tales of Kaibab's eating are legion and legendary. If you knew Kai, you had a story about him eating something usually something that you would have thought to be inedible.

Kai worked on the guideline that all things are edible until proven fatal. He ate half of a coke can, the leather piping from the driver's seat of our Land Cruiser FJ-60 (we saw the car jerking side to side and found him with the piping in his mouth like a spaghetti noodle, swallowing a bit then jerking more free from the seat...), he ate a quarter pound of fresh roasted coffee beans, he ate fabric, he ate rags, he slurped the grease laden sand that accumulated around the drain in the back of the Mexican restaurant we lived above. We found him in a 40 pound bag of dog food that was in our neighbor's mud room, his rear legs the only thing visible as they stuck straight out from the top of the open bag (it is estimated that he consumed at least 10 lbs. of the food before we got him out of the bag). He wandered into the 6 lanes of Route 66, his snout firmly buried in a Baskin-Robbins sundae cup, his eyes obstructed by it's rim as he lifted his snout upward and walked forward in an attempt to get his tongue just a little closer to the specks of hot fudge clinging to the bottom. He ate poop from every animal known to man, including man. His palate was as wide open as the world itself.

He ate until his stomach was distended and the only position of comfort he could possibly find was to be on his back, his spindly legs spread wide in all directions and a mixed moan of utter discomfort and sheer bliss whistled out of his nose. The vet explained to us that puppies deprived of food at a young age lost their ability to recognize fullness and reset their appetites to eat everything they possibly could whenever they had the chance. For Kai, every meal was potentially his last as far as he was concerned. We honestly thought that he would some day die due to something he ate, but that was not the case.

Kaibab was a reluctant mountain bike dog and an indifferent trail running companion. He went his pace regardless of what you were doing and had utterly no qualms about laying down in the middle of the trail and forcing you to sling him over your shoulders and carry him back to the car. He swam with the most graceless, stiff-legged Frankenstein like posture and only managed to survive being in the water due to his incredible buoyancy. He loved sleeping in the driving rain and dumping snow, his astonishingly thick fur impervious to water in any form. And yet, this runty mutt from the rez walked and ran through the beautiful mountains of the desert southwest, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the mountains of Montana, the rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest, the Red Rocks of Oregon, Yosemite and countless other places that we dragged him to.

I'll miss his breath that smelled like fresh turned soil after a rain. I'll miss watching him on his back wiggling around in a patch of grass where earthworms have risen to the surface, a satisfied tongue lolling out of his mouth and little grunty noises coming from his mouth. I'll miss "that damn dog" who always seemed to get into something he shouldn't in the pursuit of just one more morsel of food. I'll miss our reluctant adventure dog.

Saturday, July 06, 2013


Lance Armstrong would always label performances by his rivals as "not normal" if they were outside of the expected. The performance of directeur sportif Grant Dunstan's Pedaling for Pints team in this year's Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France is decidedly "not normal". I mean, who picks Simon Gerrans for their team? But that pick has put him up at that top of the leaderboard for several days. True, he's finished outside the top 5 the past few days and will surely topple from the lead once the mountains start, but for now, Not Normal is definitely applicable.

Today, the Pyrenees start and we'll see who is on form or on the juice. I predict a Cadel Evans - Tejay van Garderen 1-2 for the next few stages, putting them in yellow and white solidly through Paris. Then Team Dirtboy Cycling will take their rightful place at the top of the 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France.

I flew back to the states to celebrate Independence Day and to ride in the Luna Cycles July 4th Gravel Grind. We got lucky and road from Lenoir all the way to Blowing Rock without any rain. I was joined by Dennis Lockhart and John Hogan (on his new Specialized Crux 'cross bike). All agreed that the conditions were perfect, the sights beautiful, the waterfall the highlight of the ride and that all who bailed on doing the ride missed out big time.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Nail biter

Kudos to Jan Bakelants for sticking a gutsy move to the line as the pack nipped at his heels all the way. Winless as a professional and dogged by injury, he went all in with great success. Chapeau!

The 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France leader board looks like this:

Jeff Welch and Grant Dunstan are no strangers to the podium in the early stages of the race. Kudos to Eric Johnson who normally sits much further back.

I'm busy preparing for the transfer back to France as we leave Corsica today. I'm looking forward to the much more laid back reporting of covering a Team Time Trial and being in Nice will be a nice bonus. I promise to stay out of trouble.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I thought it would fit...

Right off the bat, let me say to Peter Sagan, Tony Martin, Albuterol Clintador and the other riders caught up in today's large crash in the closing kilometers of today's stage - my bad. I woke up late (the Corsican wine is incredible) and didn't catch my ride to the race start. I scrambled and then sweet talked my way onto the Orica-GreenEdge team bus with my new best friend and fellow oenophile Gary Atxa, team driver for Orica-GreenEdge.

The set up was perfect as I got to follow the race via the on bus video system, listening to the official Tour radio for the inside scoop, while traveling in air-conditioned comfort with all you can drink espresso. We cruised along, Gary and I making small talk as best we could with his 20 or so English word vocabulary. Then we reached the finish line and that stupid arch. Anyway, there's some uptight French dude in a suit yelling at him to stop and I'm like, "Gary. Dude. You got this. It'll totally fit." Really, all I'm thinking about is how I'm going to be at the finish line with perfect timing to write down all the action and maybe grab some photos.

There's this super load screeching metal-on-metal noise. Gary slams on the brakes and just glares at me with the international "why did I listen to you?" look on his face. He opens the door to inspect the problem and I take the opportunity to quickly absent myself from the situation figuring that I would just add to the problem without being able to contribute anything meaningful to correcting the situation.  The two Corsican police officers who tackled me as I bolted for the anonymity of the crowd must have thought I looked suspicious or something.

A few hours of them yelling at me and me discovering that the American Embassy isn't really concerned about minor situations like mine, finally resolved itself. I tipped the officers a handful of Euros for their trouble and made my way back to the hotel, the after race parties long since over.

So the leader board of the 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France came down to the impossible to predict third place finish of Danny van Poppel (son of TdF sprint legend and current DS for Vacansoleil, Jean-Paul van Poppel). Our current top 3 after the first stage of this year's Fantasy Tour de France looks like this:

Friday, June 28, 2013

It was just a matter of time...

349 2011 04 31 Off Modern
Alberto Contador at the pre-Tour party
photo by Simon Archer Hurlstone
Inevitably, when you get a bunch of press people together in a sultry Mediterranean playground like Corsica, you are going to have to attend some press conferences and the Tour de France is no exception. I am world weary and the race hasn't even begun, but my firm sense of professionalism won out over any selfish inclinations I had toward staying deeply ensconced in the downy goodness of my hotel bed, working my way through a healthy sampling of Corsican red and white wines in the hopes of gaining background material.

So off I went to the stuffy confines of some warehouse district dive to stand around with a bunch of other awkward and burned out members of the cycling press. Sure, there were lots of really skinny guys with ridiculous accents talking tough about their chances for winning the Tour, but there are a lot of days left between here and Paris. What I really needed was a local who would be willing to help me out on this island and allow me to get the inside line on the best way to cover this historic first stage.

Ice cream party before departing Corsica 20110811
My Corsican guides
Luckily, I found some super nice people (who spoke English!) and said they would love to help me out. They are going to help me get dialed in on the local culture, hip me to the night life and let me experience the "flavor" of Corsica. I'm in a pretty sweet position now to really cover this race with depth!

Ten teams have joined the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour this year and there is still time to join if you haven't already done so. Head to velogames.com, create your free team, and then join the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France mini-league with league code 24114540. Deadline to enter is this Saturday!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Arrivee Corsica!

The view of Corsica from my hotel room balcony

My chauffeur dropped me off at my hotel, kindly reassuring me that the 5,000 euro charge for the ride from Switzerland to Corsica was about $5 in American money. No wonder the European economy is in shambles, everything is so cheap! Suffice it to say that this palatial hotel is truly a good deal at just a $1 a day (1,000 euros).

Corsica is beautiful. This place is exceptionally mountainous and according to the locals, the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is hard to believe that the Tour de France has never been here before, but by forgoing the traditional prologue time trial in favor of a road race that travels all over this island of 3,000 square miles. After being cooped up in the back of a limousine for the better part of two days, I'm ready to stretch my legs and explore this place before the real work begins on Saturday with the kickoff of the first stage of this 100th Tour de France.

Ten teams have joined the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour this year and there is still time to join if you haven't already done so. Head to velogames.com, create your free team, and then join the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France mini-league with league code 24114540. Deadline to enter is this Saturday!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Le Tour awaits

 I've spent the past couple of days making my way to Corsica for the start of this year's extra special, 100th edition of the Tour de France. I arrived in Switzerland on Monday to handle some minor banking tasks that my travel finances required. Following this bit of business, I hired a somewhat dodgy looking driver to give me the scenic tour of the countryside en route to Corsica. Through my detailed pre-trip research, I have discovered that Corsica is an island, it is closer to Italy than to France, but it is claimed by the French nonetheless. 

My driver and I have made a brief stop over in Italy to stock up on provisions and to gird ourselves for the coming trials that in depth coverage of the Tour de France seems to always mete out. I am firm and resolute in my mission to bring you all the Fantasy Tour de France coverage I possibly can, limited only by the frailty of the human body. 

Many have been joining the Fantasy Tour this year and there is still time to join if you haven't already done so. Head to velogames.com, create your free team, and then join the Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France mini-league with league code 24114540.

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Fantasy Tour de France time!

 OMG! You've got one week to get to velogames.com and register your free Fantasy TdF team and then join the 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Tour de France mini league by entering the mini league code 24114540! Once again, I'll be travelling as part of the press corps, doing my utmost to bring you all of the action as it happens*. 

*some reporting may be embellished due to sleeping in or otherwise being occupied 

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Come on, slow pokes!

It's the last day to register a team for the 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Giro d' Italia at Velogames. Entering is free. Just register your team and then enter our mini league by clicking on "Join a Mini League" and entering the code 30174912. You can compete for bragging or heckling rights for free, but if you want to be eligible to win a $50 gift certificate from Luna Cycles you'll need to pay a $5 fee. All of the money we are raising with this Fantasy Giro is being donated to Caldwell County Pathways for our Zacks Fork Mountain Bike Trail project. Drop off your fee at the shop or if you are out of town, send it via paypal to shawnmoore@lunacyclesnc.com

Good luck and may fortune be ever in your favor!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Luna Cycles Fantasy Giro d'Italia is on!

by F. Gopp /
CC License: Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives
We're proud to announce that the 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Giro d' Italia is now accepting entries! Once again, Velogames is hosting the Luna Cycles Fantasy Grand Tour mini league within their worldwide framework.

Signing up on Velogames is free, as is joining our mini league. This year, however, we'd like to offer you the opportunity to compete in our fantasy grand tour for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Luna Cycles. For each team you enter into our mini league, you can pay a $5 entry and be in the competition for the $50 gift certificate that will be awarded to the overall winner of the 2013 Luna Cycles Fantasy Giro d' Italia. All the money raised by this will be donated to Caldwell County Pathways as part of our fundraising efforts for the Zacks Fork Mountain Bike Trail project.

The deadline to register on Velogames is this Saturday, May 4th. Once you have registered your team, you can join our mini league for free by clicking on "Join League" and entering our mini league code - 30174912. Then simply drop off or mail in a check (with the name of your team written on the memo line) made out to "Caldwell County Pathways" to be eligible for the $50 gift certificate competition. Deadline to register for this competition within a competition is Saturday, May 11th.

Good luck!

Monday, April 15, 2013

What mountain bike dreams are made of...

My instructions were simple: "Stand where I tell you and keep the flag on your downhill side." Simple. A child could do it. A reasonably intelligent monkey could do it. A stick could do it. And then it hit me - "I'm a human surveyor's rod." At first I said it to myself, but then I said it out loud and Jim Horton, of Horton Design and the trailboss designing the trail being put in at Zack's Fork, said, "Yeah, pretty much."

The job was simple and complex. As we tromped through the woods, Jim eyed a route that would take us from one section that had already been laid out, to a flag that signaled the start of another section that had been laid out. What the job entailed for me was to serve as the reference for Jim to measure incline of small bits of trail to make sure that he didn't deviate from a + or - 10 degree incline. This keeps the trail beginner friendly, insuring that no climb is too steep or descent too scary and maximizes the fun factor as you end up with a fun, flowy trail.

In a 3 hour long trail design tutorial, I got to see how an artist lays out a mountain bike experience upon the highly variable canvas of a landscape. Nuggets of wisdom like what trees to avoid routing a trail to close to (Pine trees with their wide spreading root systems that are right at the top of the soil require tons of work to route trail near as the routes have to be removed.), how a trail should maximize space but not be so stacked upon itself that you just go back and forth seeing the trail you've been on and the trail you're headed to, how trees are used as "choke points" to control rider speed going into S-turns, and much more. My favorite gem of wisdom was that dogwood trees basically fall over "as soon as you put a survey flag beside them."

Over the course of 3 hours, I got to see the trail that we have talked about and dreamed of for many years taking shape. Views emerged that I had never seen before as we tromped through the woods. I was struck by the idea of not only how much fun this trail will be, but by how pretty it will be as well. I simply can't wait now that I've seen the sketch on the ground!

Yesterday Golden, Owen and I went to explore the Boone Fork Recreation Area trails. Primarily horse trails, the potential for the area is incredible, but poorly designed trails coupled with neglect has made the need for trail maintenance very high. We, of course, chose to ride a route that is best avoided by mountain bikes at this time due to the incredibly damaged and poorly routed nature of the trails. We managed to stay clear entirely of the two trails that Jeff recommended to me (the green/white flashed and orange flashed trails) and opted instead for the blue/green flash (avoid), and the yellow flash (very fun at the end, but didn't make up for the tremendous amount of hike-a-bike).

 Owen got to perfect his steep descending technique with a tutorial from his mom. Hands on the brake levers, eyes forward, butt way back off the saddle, he dropped down some long, steep chutes and ruts like a champ. We sang songs ("I like big ruts and I cannot lie"), we dubbed sections of trail "rut-o-rama"s and generally had a great time. But this turned into a fairly typical Moore family excursion in which one of us (usually Golden but this time me) suggests some ride that is far more than what we bargained for. With Golden, it typically starts with something like, "Well let's just see where this trail goes. We've got plenty of time." What typically follows is some over the top route that takes us deep into the early set up of a survival tale and ends with us running low on water, or energy, or daylight (or some combination of these) and emerging way farther away from our car than would generally be advisable, but persevering and surviving nonetheless. 10 rugged miles and 3 hours later, Owen joined the family tradition by surviving with flying colors his first Moore Family Sketchy Backwoods Adventure.

Butt back, jersey unzipped.. pure focus.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The 24 hour vacation OR The Hunt for the Great White Squirrel

Spring break ended yesterday. For me, big vacations from school become opportunities to work more at the shop. Now that we are short handed*, being able to work more in the shop is more critical than ever, but it doesn't lend itself to taking advantage of one of the few perks of being an educator. Enter the 24 hour vacation. We decided to condense the traditional spring break getaway into one, 24 hour blast of fun.

Golden had a grad class Saturday morning, so final prep for the trip fell to Owen and me. Friday night I finished building up my new mountain bike which was integral to this trip since we decided to go ride Dupont State Forest as the focal point of the trip. So new bike in hand, Owen and I tackled all the other details while Golden got schooled.

Our first mission was to find someplace cool to stay and the +Sunset Motel looked to be just the ticket. Located in downtown Brevard, the renovated retro-fifties style beckoned us. With great amenities, reasonable prices, close proximity to restaurants and other downtown offerings, plus the all important WiFi for watching Sunday's live streaming of the Paris-Roubaix, we weren't disappointed in the least.

Second on the to-do list once we had unpacked the car was to get some food. I did a little searching and found a couple of candidate restaurants. Among them was a Mexican place called +El Ranchero . With a thumbs up from the guy behind the desk at the motel, we headed downtown for a mexican feast.

We sat down at an outside table beneath the crookedest tree Owen had ever seen and ordered some drinks. Checking out the menu, I found it difficult to decide while Owen immediately became intrigued by the "Mexican" cheeseburger and Golden chose the fish tacos (this was somewhat predictable given an in depth discussion of various ways to prepare fish tacos that we had listened to on "The Splendid Table" radio show while cruising down I-40). The waiter arrived with our drinks - apparently it was 1/2 gallon of draft Negra Modelo for $3 night (Score!) and I was now faced with entree selection crunch time.

I went for the Chipotle Chori which turned out to be a pork chop smothered with squash, onions and crimson chipotle peppers the size of a swollen thumb.

Then, quite possibly the world's worst mariachi band came out to serenade the diners. While the two guitar players weren't bad, the violin player sounded about on par with Owen after his first violin lesson and the trumpet player made up for his consummate lack of ability by steadfastly remaining wildly off key. After enthusiastically warbling renditions of La Bamba and Tequila, we decided to forego the remainder of the Mariachi Standards for Gringos playlist and wander around downtown.

In case you don't know, Brevard is a bit proud of their white squirrels. Lots of places in town reference the squirrels, which aren't albinos but are a white variant of the common Eastern Grey Squirrel (Sciuris carolinensis). We had never actually seen one and I kind of thought the whole thing was just a bit of local color ginned up for the tourist trade. So we walked along playing spot-the-white-squirrel in which Owen points out all of the white squirrels on shop signs, town banners, or the stuffed animal variety sitting in shop windows, when I saw a white squirrel run across a parking lot and sit on the stoop of a derelict building. I pointed it out and Golden and I both pulled out our phones to capture the evidence.

Behold! Definitive proof of the extant white squirrel! Add another weird squirrel to my life list which includes the Abert's squirrel (Sciuris aberti), the Kaibab Squirrel (Sciuris aberti kaibabensis), and the Mt. Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciuris hudsonicus grahamensis).

Our impromptu cryptozoological expedition over, we headed back to the motel, bed, and a night's rest before THE BIG RIDE. Morning came. Coffee and breakfast were procured from the excellent +quotations coffee cafe (Three words: blueberry french toast). We packed and watched Zdenek Stybar play human pinball on the final cobbles of Paris-Roubaix as Fabian Cancellara went on to win his third cobblestone trophy. With all of that out of the way, it was time to ride.

We play fast and loose with our family mountain bike adventures. While some plan things to the nth degree, we printed off a map of Dupont State Forest trails, drove off in the general direction of the forest and picked a random parking lot with multiple trailheads after driving by it and finding a place to turn around.

One of the unique features of Dupont is its slick rock trails, something better associated with southwestern riding meccas like Moab, Utah and Sedona, Arizona. We had ridden the Dupont slick rock several years ago, but hadn't been back on them since. As fate would have it, the random parking lot we had chosen was the access to the slick rock section of trails in Dupont. What followed was an all day mountain bike adventure that took in some of the best views on a trail anywhere.

My new Niner SIR 9 (with a suspension fork!)

The key to riding with kids is to constantly shove food
 in their mouths...

We got back to the car, feasted on triscuits, cheese, hummus and pears, and then loaded up to head home. We stopped at Tupelo Honey Cafe South (a restaurant that we eat at every chance we get) to fuel up for the drive home and then pointed the car east on I-40 and booked it to the casa. Our 24 hour vacation drawn to a close.

*Contact us about exciting opportunities in the fast-paced world of Bicycle Retail! Experienced mechanics needed. No freaks. OK, the no freaks rule is pretty loose.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Coming back to life

I went to a funeral Thursday. Funerals seem to make me contemplate the past. At least that's what I've noticed from the few funerals I've attended.

This time, I started thinking about my friend +Jason Darden and how he brought me back to cycling. I had drifted into a life that involved more partying than riding by about a 100:0 ratio. Jason meanwhile, had continued racing and had gotten on the powerful Chisholm Racing team as a Category 2 rider. He specialized in criteriums, which to be honest, was really about all there was to race back in the early nineties.

Jason showed up at my door in full team kit with a gorgeous red, white and blue Schwinn Paramount with a full Dura Ace kit and the first STI shifters I had ever seen. Jason said, "Get your bike. Let's go ride."

We had grown up on bikes together, Jason and I. Our houses were less than a mile apart when we were growing up and we lived right on the edge of the Ft. Bragg Military Reservation which was nothing but sandy pine tree scrublands in every direction. We had great country roads to play on and we took full advantage. We spent countless hours in the saddle together in high school.

I got my kit on and pumped up the tires in my bike. Fortunately, down tube friction shifters withstand a lot of neglect or else my bike would not have been functional it had been so long since I had ridden it. We headed out at a comfortable pace, out into the country roads that surrounded Greensboro back then. We road and talked and slowly but surely I emerged from the fog I had been living in. I will never forget us passing this exotic bird farm with all of these parrots living in breeding cages stacked up in transfer trailers. The end result of this one ride was the rekindling of my love of riding.

After two years of not riding, I got back on the bike that day and haven't gotten off since. If you haven't been riding in a while, then consider this your gentle reminder. And to give you a simple, modest goal to keep you in the saddle and turning pedals, consider signing up for 30 Days of Biking and pledge to ride your bike every day in April. And make today's Mellow Monday ride your first ride of your #30DaysofBiking pledge! The one thing I know about riding my bike is that I never regret it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wayback When-sday: 1988 Ritchey Outback

Welcome to another installment of our semi-regular series on the old bikes that we love, cherish, and keep in our homes daring anyone to label them clutter or junk. Have a bike you want to share? Let us know about it here.

It's been hanging from the rafters in our basement for about 5 years and it has moved all over the country with us. "It" is a 1988 Ritchey Outback mountain bike frame and fork, the mountain bike that my wife, Golden Brainard-Moore started mountain bike racing on for the first time in the late eighties.

What kind of bike are you sharing?

1988 Ritchey Outback, an off road touring bike. Originally equipped with Shimano XT (the first year of indexed shifters, thumbies) with Campy track pedals, campy short toe clips and Binda straps, Selle Italia saddle and I had these great Sidi cyclocross shoes.

Are you the original owner?


How did you come to own the bike?

My boyfriend at the time had worked for Ritchey and he called up some guys he knew and got it for me.

What makes this bike special to you? What memories or special moments do you have associated with this bike?

It was my first nice mountain bike, I basically learned how to ride on it. I did my first race on it. It originally had chainstay u-brakes on it and Tom Ritchey brazed cantilever studs on the seatstays for me. I was given a Bridgestone MB-3 by a shop after this one. I became Expert National Mountain Bike Champion in 1992 or 1993 on the Bridgestone and then turned pro with Fat Chance.

Do you still ride this bike?


*note - Golden retired from professional mountain bike racing in 1999. Her palmares include representing the USA at the Women's Elite Mountain Bike World Championships five times, a win at the NORBA National Series Race at Big Bear, in addition to the rare opportunity to devote yourself to racing your bike and getting paid to do it.

Downtube derailleur cable stops are pretty rare these days...

Ovalized seat tube meets the bottom bracket for added lateral stiffness

Fastback seatbinder with rack braze-ons and cantilever brake cable stop

This frame was tig welded in Taiwan by "Ritchey Trained" builders. 

If you love 'em, you ride the hell out of 'em. That's why it doesn't look immaculate!

Unicrown rigid steel fork

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Love Valley Roubaix

The rain is so light you don't even realize it's there until you turn off the windshield wipers, but the intermittent clicking of sleet on windshield let's you know that it is real out there. Really real. I've got a front row seat to the suffering behind the wheel of the follow car. Riders slapping their hips with their hands trying to pound life and feeling back into them. The former leader sits in the car seat next to me, hunched over double, shivering uncontrollably, a frozen stream of snot hanging from his chin in defiance of the blast of heat being hurled out of the cars vents at him. I'm sweating, Owen is stripped down to t-shirt and sweat pants and still he shivers.

This is the Love Valley Roubaix. Gone is the fear of overheating that some riders had at the start. Gone are the majority of the riders who started this 50 mile jaunt through the Brushy Mountains. They've been left behind in the opening miles by the 7 riders in front of me. The opening climb that came in the first miles of the race was a veritable mine field of shattered dreams as one rider after another exploded spectacularly as the Fox Mountain road tilted up and up and up. Two riders popped from the lead group (including +David Clark ) fell far enough behind on the climb to warrant me passing them and nestling in cozily with the front group that included +Jeff Welch , Sonni Dyer, Reid Beloni, Miles Hubbard, and Dirty Darrel Prillaman.

This rolling sufferfest ground out mile after mile, passing through the odd bit of sunshine and then plunging into fog and so many different kinds of rain that I was able to marvel at the variety of precipitation that pelted the car. This lead group was rejoined by David Clark and another rider who chased back on with some impressive descending on the twisty dirt and gravel roads criss crossed with rivulets of tan water.

I stopped to help a rider fix a flat tire. He expressed simultaneous disappointment and relief at not being able to ride in the lead group any more. He fumbled the tube change with the frozen blocks of wood buried deep in his gloves. I took off to catch back on to the lead group only to find it in tatters on the second long climb of the day. Riders drifted past the car, numbly locked in slow motion heroics as they inched toward the unseen top. I finally caught Reid, his upper body pistoning up and down as he put every bit of strength he had into the pedals. Just ahead of him, Jeff and Darrel spun survival circles in pursuit of Miles dangling just in front of them. Just out of sight rode Sonni Dyer with the aforementioned lead rider some two minutes off the front.

For a good many miles a half-hearted chase was mounted by the group containing 3rd through 6th place. And then the penultimate climb appeared. Darrell chased mightily to catch back on to the group after exchanging gloves with me on the fly in the flat valley road leading up to the climb. He caught just as Reid came untethered from Jeff and Miles' wheels. The Miles set off on his own at the midpoint of the climb and by the three quarter's mark, Darrell had opened an inexorably expanding gap on Jeff. With the exception of the early retirement of the lead rider, this pecking order remained set in stone for the remainder of the race as riders switched from competition mode to survival mode. Each descent was followed by another brutish uphill in some cruel example of why gravity always wins. As we hit the final road, you could see the relief was through Jeff as he realized that the suffering was almost over.

I hadn't been in a follow vehicle for a long time, but my vantage point left no doubt to my conviction to not race this year. It was good seeing many of my racing friends, but today was a day that I did not envy them in the least. No, my weekend ride featured ride companions like this:

And I also got to experiment with riding new roads in a very familiar area by taking a turn that I've passed a thousand times, but never actually taken. Instead of following the road up Goat Hill, I turned right onto the dirt road right in the apex of the turn. It was nice doing something new, riding by myself, and just enjoying being outside in the semi-warmth of newly born Spring. I'm excited about the coming year of riding, surprised on not thinking about racing too much, and yearning for a lasting run of warm weather, clear skies, and bountiful sunshine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It might be about the bike

It struck me over the weekend that I live in an incredible area for cycling. Situated at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, tucked in amongst the Brushy Mountains, and bordered by a large chunk of the Pisgah National Forest, this area enjoys a variety of terrain from rolling hills that help keep a cyclist honest, to long and steep climbs that challenge you until your lungs might burst. The nearby Dark Mountain/Overmountain Victory/Warrior Creek Trail system gives a rich display of the trail builders art for when we hit singletrack. Wilsons Creek Gorge gives shy glimpses of beautiful trail and bigger ride challenges for when you want to put an all day adventure together on the mountain bike. The Blue Ridge Parkway dangles above us, beckoning like a siren, luring you to its beautiful, lung crushing stone. And a tangled web of dirt roads provides ample opportunities for gravel crusher/"Roubaix" style riding when you want to have the joys of a road ride but are looking to take the road much less traveled.

I love exploring all this area has to offer to the two wheeled set. As I was working at the shop Saturday, I caught a glimpse of one of the books we have in our little library. Pausing for a moment, I contemplated the cover. There was Lance Armstrong, looking human and slightly vulnerable, staring out at me from the cover of It's Not About The Bike. I remember reading this book when it first came out, back when I still believed in superheroes. Shortly after reading it, creeping suspicion and doubt started to make the story look tarnished, but there still had to be some substantial amount of credibility to it, but we all know how that turned out. It doesn't do to add insult to injury by parsing the incredible amount of damage that the lies has wrought and continues to wreak in the world of professional cycling. No, what I remembered was how Armstrong talks about coming to Boone and discovering that he still wanted to be a bike racer. It was this area that was transformative to Armstrong. Well, that and an apparently staggering amount of performance enhancing drugs, but let's focus on the transformative powers of this area, shall we?

This area really is that remarkable, but it was a conversation with a friend later on Saturday that really served as an interesting counter to this idea. My friend said that by all rights, Lenoir should be successful. It has so much to offer, not just in outdoor recreation opportunities, but in terms of low cost, a low bar to entrepreneurship, an active community of artists, and it is remarkably beautiful. What he expressed was a conflicted feeling about buying a house here, despite the fact that he really likes it here. He wondered if we are destined to forever be on the verge of taking off, on the verge of being successful.

So if our area is so transformative, why can't we transform our area? I would put to you the idea that we are transforming and we are doing it at an accelerating rate. I see more people moving to Lenoir and the immediate area. Their demographics are the critical 25 to 45 age range. They bring with them ideas and notions of what they want in a place to live from all over the country. Recently, an article in the Lenoir News Topic talked about the area's past, a past when this area was referred to as the Athens of the South. I feel that we are ressurecting that notion of ourselves in a new and fresh way. The litmus test for me of this new concept of Lenoir is the success of +Howard Brewing Company . The very fact that a microbrewery can open and quickly thrive in downtown Lenoir, signals a sea change in attitudes and sensibilities for our area. It's a change that I firmly believe will continue to gain momentum and I'm glad to be a part of it.

You may or may not have heard of our efforts to build a trail in town. I'm happy to say that +Jeff Welch  has been busy laying out the proposed trail route with the head trail builder and progress is coming along nicely. The possibility of having a completed trail in town this season is very real. There will be many opportunities for us to come together as a community and put in some sweat equity on this project as there will be several trail building days to volunteer on. We've also got a few other irons in the fire, but that's a story for another day.

Our Spring Fling open house was our way of trying to bring many disparate parts of our cycling community together in one place to lay out this idea of being more involved in the whole community. If you weren't able to make it, one of the things that we introduced was the +Luna Cycles Google+ Community. This takes the place of our old Yahoo! Groups forum which was revealed to be intimidating from feedback we received on our 2013 Cycling Community Survey. The impression that we were unintentionally giving was of a forum of extremely hardcore racers doing nothing but big miles at fast speeds. This is far from the reality of what we want. The intention is for us to have some centralized place for everyone to be able to put out their ride ideas and try to find others who want to ride with them.

Yesterday, I observed two customers introduce themselves to each other (they had heard of each other but never met). They talked about riding together, one of them mentioned another person who would like to join them for a ride, and then they layed out a semi-complicated plan of communication to attempt to coordinate all three of them riding together. This is exactly what the Google+ community is meant to make easy, this communication and coordination of rides. Put your ride out there, communicate directly with people if you so desire or put your ride out to everyone that might be interested. You might just get more people than you imagined showing up to ride with you!

The point is that when I moved here, I saw lots of people riding, but few of them riding together. There were 3 or 4 people riding together here, 2 or 3 riding together there, but no large group ride. My background is one of large group rides held every week. No one talked about not being fast enough or training for the group ride. The group ride is training. It's fun to push yourself a little harder than you would by yourself. I see lots of people hiring a coach who I think are skipping the vital step of just coming out and doing group rides to get to the next level. The point to all this is that we need to stop thinking "those guys are too fast for me" and "those guys are not as fast as me" and trying to find exactly what shade of gray category of rider we are and finding the other 1 or 2 people who share our shade and riding only with them. Go ride with a group of riders that are slower than you. Do more time on the front at a slower pace. Offer people advice. Teach them to be better, faster, smoother. Then go ride with a faster group. Don't pull; stay in the back. Hold on for dear life, ride 'til your lungs burn and you go slightly cross-eyed. Get dropped. Catch back up at the regroup point (or turn around and catch the pain train again on the Tuesday night ride). All of these things will make you a better, fuller, more active participant in our cycling community. That robust cohesiveness may just be the transformation our cycling community deserves.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

New Bike Stoke 2!

+daren wilz picks up his Gunnar Crosshairs 'cross/gravel grinder bike built with SRAM Rival. Look for this bike at the upcoming Love Valley Roubaix.

2013 Specialized Myka

+maggie jo sime just walked out the door with her new 2013 Specialized!

Bike: 2013 Specialized Myka

Name: Mona

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Wayback When-sday: 1993 Titus FCR

Welcome to the first installment of our semi-regular series on the old bikes that we love, cherish, and keep in our homes daring anyone to label them clutter or junk. Have a bike you want to share? Let us know about it here.

In the furthest recess of the shop, you'll see a small titanium mountain bike frame hanging from a hook on the wall. A large downtube sticker identifies it as a Titus and a smaller sticker on the top tube shows its model designation as FCR.

What kind of back are you sharing? 1993 Titus FCR (Full Custom Racer)

Are you the original owner? Yes

How did you come to own this bike? I was Titus Titanium's first sponsored cross country mountain bike racer. They had a downhiller and me.

What makes this bike special to you? What memories or special moments do you have associated with this bike? It was built to custom specifications for me. I can get on it at any time and it just fits.

Do you still ride this bike? Why or why not? No. It's a 26 inch wheeled bike and it's built around a different suspension fork standard than what is available now.

Please share anything else you would like to about this bike and your experiences with it. It was built originally for cantilever brakes. Titus rerouted the cable stops to accommodate v-brakes. Titus also shaved the bottom of the headtube to accommodate the move from a 63 mm travel Rock Shox Mag 21 Ti to the 80 mm travel Rock Shox SID.

Dropouts were cut with a water jet from Titanium billet. Look kids!
No disc brakes!

Head tube/Down tube gusset added after a crack appeared.