Matt Donahue

Friday, May 26, 2006

Chain Reaction

Fellow City Bikes team member, and Chain Reaction Director, Eric Welp asked me to put up a link to Chain Reaction. Chain Reaction is re-opening on June 1, at their new location- check out their site to learn more.

This photo/art/image is taken directly from Gwadzilla. I could not have set it up better, so there it is.

Gwadzilla also added a comment relating to my wife's bike being stolen and then returned. This is a segue into my rambling thoughts about kids, the city, kid's use of their time, and bikes.

The relationship between kids and bikes and what bikes can enable kids to do ties in well with what happened to my wife's bike and what Chain Reaction can provide. Not that bikes are some sort of all powerful answer to improving every child's life, but they can help to a certain degree. Chain reaction's mission
Chain Reaction educates youth about the role of the bicycle in sustainable communities, equips youth with job skills, and provides residents of Washington, DC, with safe, affordable, and pollution-free transportation.

is a great way for kids to learn to fix their own bikes and to see the value in community, their own talent and ability to learn new skills, stay fit riding bikes and have an outlet.

The kids in my alley regularly ride bikes. Some own their own, some don't. Yesterday Kievry(sp?) and his buddy were playing basketball back there. The buddy had a mountain bike with two very flat tires, no front brake and a rear brake that barely worked. I rolled through on my way home from work, saw this bike and immediately called the kid into the backyard. I broke out a few tools and the pump, inflated his tires and tightened up his rear brake. It's crazy that he was riding this bike around the neighborhood streets with essentially no way to stop. But this was a nice bike in comparison to many I've seen ridden around my area.

As much as possible I try to help the kids in my neighborhood with their bikes, small things, like tightening a handle bar, brake or seatpost or inflating a tire or two. It's apparent that they cannot do these things themselves, either lacking the know-how or equipment. It only takes a small amount of my time, and I think it fosters neighborly respect, and friendship. Maybe this helped get my wife's bike back. It certainly didn't hurt. Hopefully a connection through bikes provides a little chain reaction in my 'hood. (how poetic)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bike is Back

A huge thank you to the neighborhood kids. I'm totally impressed, thankful and happy.

The same kids who saw the non-neighborhood kid steal my wife's bike showed up this evening with it. In my last post I mentioned that three kids were playing basketball when some other kid, who they didn't know showed up and stole the bike.

When it happened we asked them if they knew who it was. They said they didn't and that they hadn't seen him around in our neighborhood.

I wasn't home when they brought the bike back, but will get the full story from my wife when I get home later tonight. Based on what she said on the phone, it sounds like they simply found the bike and thought it might be hers.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Stolen Bike

Be on the lookout!

My wife's Trek was stolen tonight. We were about to leave and she had to run back in the house for something, I stepped in to get a phone call, and when we came back outside my wife caught a 12-14 year old kid riding down the alley on her bike. I was still on the phone, she started yelling, I came out and jumped on my bike, but the kid had obviously picked the right way to run, and I the wrong way to follow.

Metallic gray Trek 6000 1999
Red Trek lettering
Red Manitou suspension fork
LX rear derailure
XTR V brakes
WTB saddle
Rear fender
Time pedals (the new xc pedals)
slick tires
Lots of PSB stickers ( big colorful parking sticker for her office building with PSB on them in black)

It's amazing and sad that kids don't have better things to do than stealing someone's bike from their back yard. Had I been slightly closer to the door, and not on the phone things may have worked out a little differently. So frustrating. As I sped through the neighborhood I wondered what I would say if I caught the kid. "That's my bike kid." What if the kid didn't give it up? What if he were with some other 'kids'?

For the most part I felt mad, but still rational enough to know that I would probably not find the kid or the bike. I didn't.

I also wonder if the kids who we know in our back alley know the kid who stole my wife's bike. They say they don't. They cleared out though when we came out after the thief. We talked about it later, they say he was showed up in the alley and that they never saw him before.

We went to the police. The bike is not registered. So it's unlikely we will get it back. They advised me not to go after the kid. Probably wise. Obviously I won't now. But at the time it seemed like a good idea.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

12 Hours of Lodi

The 12 Hours of Lodi Farms is a race of firsts for me. Four years ago it was my first cross country race ever. I did duo with my buddy JB. While there is no race report for that one, I'll say that it was the greatest physical effort I'd ever done at that point in my life. On top of that it poured for the entire race. We stuck it out and finished 3rd? in beginner probably because the rest of the field quit. Somehow that camaraderie/sufferfest with JB gave birth to my addiction to mtb racing.

Last year it was the first mountain bike race that ever sent me to the hospital. For more on that, see that post.

This year's 12 Hours was the first completely dry Lodi race that I've participated in (AT LAST) and the first race where I've been on the winning team.

My team consisted of Mike (fellow CBer) and Jonathan. We cobbled ourselves together after a few odd events, Joe breaking his clavicle and bad email communication with CityBikesMike. There's more behind all of this, but our team was an evolution of sorts. We named ourselves "Not Klasmeier's Team" in honor of our email miscommunication.

Cutting to the chase, I volunteered to go first and do the LeMans start- which was extended to a half mile run from about 100 yards in previous years. The half mile is fine, but for the bottleneck that occurred after the run took the group into the single track. Evan and I stupidly lined up at the back of the pack and had to stop and wait to get into the single track during the run. More people to pass on the bike I suppose.

Once on the bike, things started improving. Right off the bat I started passing folks. There is about a 300+? yard double track through the camp site before the course turns to single track which afforded the opportunity to launch a quick sprint and get around 10-15 riders. Once into the tight stuff it was slow going- with lots of twisty up hill. I was behind Single Speed soloist Markie for all of this section, JoeP passed me on a sweet log hop. Shortly thereafter I made a bad shift and jammed my chain on the course's short steep grassy uphill and had to hop off and un-jam. Needless to say this prompted some serious commentary from the SS gallery. "Nice gears Matty." Great.

Thankfully there was no major issue and I was back on in no time. Another positive was that the course headed out into the open field section of the course where there is the best opportunity for passing and big rigning- good thing.

I recall Evan catching up to me at some point in the second half of lap one. Then I caught him with his bike upside down. He became Mr. Mechanical.

My team agreed to double up on our night laps- more sleep for those not riding. Lap two felt a lot worse than lap one but less traffic in the trails. I felt kinda weak and my back was cramping. It turned out that my camelback was too tight, thus the cramping in my back. At least that is what I am attributing the cramping to. I ended up with some massive rash-abrasions on my armpits, lovely. It's weird not to notice this stuff happening during the ride.

I ate and went straight to bed, looking forward to some hours of sleep before 5:20.

Around 4:20 I was awakened by Mike's return from his two laps (numbers 3 and 4). He was pissed. His main light failed at the beginning(?) of his second lap which caused him to have a much longer lap. His return was angry and depressed. In a sleepy state I mumbled something like "it's a long race." Our fellow City Bikes team "Klasmeiere's team" was in first. They were happy.

Jonathan headed out and I gradually awakened. I greatly overestimated how long it would take Jonathan to complete his two laps. He rode past as I was pulling up my bike shorts in my tent. Crap. Several people were yelling my name. I was rushing. I didn't have anything together. Jonathan came back to camp and I had hastily dressed, stuck some shit in my pockets, begged for some tire levers and headed out.

I turned out that we were in first at this point. I cost us about 6 or so minutes with my non prep. I headed out and felt much better than I had before. Not sure whether it was the light (the sun was up) or the rest I had. Either way, it was a great lap. Klasmeier's team was after me. Kent was chasing hard behind me for the entire lap to regain first. Because the course loops so much, you end up seeing people behind you by passing them with literally only tape and a few saplings separating you. I was sure he would catch me and this fueled my effort to push it at every opportunity. He made up a few minutes on me but did not catch me.

I handed off to Mike still in first. It was on.

I refueled and got myself together. It turned out that I had ridden that lap without pulling my bib up. Whatever, it was probably my fastest lap.

Lap 4 was good. I don't really remember much.

Lap 5 came after much discussion with the second place team. Klasmeier wanted to know if we were going to contest for a final lap, something about riding it together came up. I just wanted to race, and keep it going. My teammates had ridden hard. We were in first and I wanted to keep it that way. So I rode my final lap hard. Probably not as hard as others but hard enough to remain solidly in first. I had never won a mountain bike race and was totally psyched to be on the verge of winning one.

Lap 5 was fun, I had a 15 minute lead so the necessity was to not crash or have a mechanical, so ride it smooth buddy. I repeated that over and over. Just ride smooth.

It was a great race. We all had a blast and were totally happy about winning. Yeah we were very far ahead of the other sport teams, but we all had no idea where we would fall. We had fun, rode hard and were psyched about the race.

It also didn't rain for a change.

Big thanks to the Lodi promoter. The put on a great race and we're lucky to have it. Also big shout to the Old Dominion team for a great showing and the beer.

Jonathan headed on his laps and I continued my sleep, happy that my next lap would be in the daylight.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Race #1 Greenbriar AMBC

My first race of the season is in the bag. It went OK... 6th out of 21 starters. The pisser of the day was flatting on the third and final lap. It happened near the top of the final downhill less than a mile from the finish and cost me a few places.

There were lots of CB team members on hand at the race, and also lots of flat tires. A full race write up to come.

This photo sequence of me turning through the main rock garden on the course is from friend and fellow teammate Joe who took several good shots of the team and other folks he knows from the biking scene.

Look at that concentration! It's kind of strange to see a photo of yourself in a race. Seeing my own facial expression now and trying to think back on what I was thinking at the moment- Rock rock turn rock line look up damn brake pedal knee-out pedal turn- or something like that. Here are the results if you feel like breaking down the times. Look under Sport Masters Men 30-34: Greenbriar AMBC results
Joe takes better photos with one arm than I do with two. The reason he was behind the camera and not behind the handlebars is due to a recent crash where he broke his clavicle. Nice shooting Joe!

More photos of the race and the team here: Flicr Also, our team website is sure to have several more race reports from other riders in the next few days.