f

You could say I’m addicted to FaceBook.  The first thing I do in the morning besides cursing the alarm clock is roll over and check “da book.”  I check it on my phone fairly regularly during the day, and right before I go to bed, and especially when I was drunk (sorry ladies! haha).  I was thinking about this as I was driving around this afternoon running errands.  I know it’s good to disconnect and get away from it all, but I was also thinking that I not only have some REALLY kickass FaceBook friends, but also incredibly diverse as well.  In fact, my list of FaceBook friends is hands-down the most diverse thing in my life (although my iPod is a VERY close second, haha).

Just a quick glance through my friends list and there are bikers and hikers, bankers, bakers, and businessmen.  There are conservatives and liberals and Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, Anarchists, and Socialists.  Married, single, divorced, gay, straight, lesbian, it’s complicated, you name it and they’re on there.  Genuine dirtbags and mortgage brokers.  Hell-raisers and preachers and teachers and professional students.  Whites, blacks, Mexicans, Germans, Dutch, Scots, Irish, Swiss, Finns, Canadians, Texans, English, Aussies, Kiwis, Chinese, Japanese, Inbetweenese (you laughed, admit it), Koreans, and so many others.  Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, cowboys, and Indians.  Broke-asses and millionaires.  Amateur foodies and professional nutritionists and cycling coaches and soccer, volleyball, basketball, and football coaches.  Single moms, stay-at-home moms; empowered women and embittered ones.  Ultra-runners and couch-to-5k-ers and drama queens and prom queens.  At least three people on my friend list are fighting cancer, and hundreds of others are fighting their own battle.

On my news feed you’ll find inspirational quotes, jokes, funny pictures, memes, all kinds of drama, family updates, news from around the world, and updates from long-lost classmates and friends.  Never before in human history has the kind of instant information and communication been available as we have now.  Scandals have been exposed and regimes have fallen because of this.  I don’t think people fully realize what an awesome power social media can be!  My question is how can you NOT be addicted to this?  Truly amazing.

Matt

P.S. – I still won’t play Casino Slots, so stop asking.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

2014 – A Quick Look

Well, besides working some insane overtime at work, 2014 is looking to be a pretty damn good year!  Here’s the straight skinny:

May 20th – June 4th: A trip to Scotland for the Highland Trail Race, a 550-mile mountain bike race through the Scottish Highlands, then heading over to France to visit a couple of beaches.  (It sucks missing all the people coming to town for the Dirty Kanza, but at least I won’t be here when Eddie O’Dea ruins Emporia.)

Image

 

July 1st – 6th: 5 days in Washington and Oregon with my cousins for a big 4th of July party!  Not taking the bike, but I’m making them take me to go explore the area.  They just don’t know it yet…  Haha

August 12th-17th: An individual time trial (ITT) of the Colorado Trail Race.  It’s a 500-mile hiking and biking trail through Colorado, that has something like 70,000 feet of climbing.  I don’t know that I’ll be able to finish the whole route from Denver to Durango, but it will still be an awesome ride, regardless.  I’m REALLY looking forward to this one, but it’s gonna be an ass-kicker and a lung-buster (although everyone says the Highland Race is just as hard, if not more so, it just lacks the altitude).

August 29 – Sep. 1st:  A thunder-run 18 hour drive to Ketchum, Idaho for Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a 100-mile gravel-grinder put on by Rebecca Rusch.  A couple of guys from here in town went up last year, and had a blast.  The Adventure Monkey did a write-up on it here.  You can also see some of his pictures on the event’s website; how cool is that?!  He’s also the guy in blue on the fat-bike at :09, haha.

September 23rd – 28th: Back to South Dakota for the Black Hills Expedition, a new race/route that’s 425 miles of singletrack and rail-trails through the Black Hills in South Dakota.  

December:  Not 100% for sure on December yet, but I REALLY want to do a long-distance cold-weather race on the fat-bike.  I’m looking at either the Tuscobia Race in Wisconsin or the Arrowhead 135 in International Falls, MN.  Speaking of which, the upgraded Pugsley is flat-out awesome.  It’s so much quicker and responsive than it used to be, thanks to dropping over half of the wheel weight, and the Knard tires grip amazing!  It’s still nothing compared to the new line of carbon bikes that are out now, but much, much improved!  

Welp, that about sums my plans for 2014.  Hopefully I can make all of this work out, but it’s looking good so far!  I’m leaving you with two videos to end this post (which I PROMISE to do more of!). 

The first one is a stupid video that happens when you merge a Pugsley, a Go-Pro, and Apple’s iMovie.

The second one is a compilation of Brian Williams from NBC News doing Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang.  It’s pretty frickin’ epic!

 

See you down the road (in Scotland, France, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota, Minnesota, or Wisconsin),

Matt

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2013 in Pictures.

Here’s my 2013 picture video collage thing, haha.  Had some pretty good adventures this year, and hope to continue that trend in 2014!

See you down the road,

Matt

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Dakota

Last week I went to South Dakota for a fat-bike race.  The race didn’t go so well, and I ended up dropping out at 29 miles instead of the 69, but all-in-all it was probably a good thing.  I picked up my upgraded Pugsley from the bike shop Tuesday afternoon

IMG_1300

and headed out early Wednesday morning.  I got to Sioux Falls around 4, and stopped by Two-Wheeler Dealer, the bike shop that was putting on the race, to make introductions.  I met Joe Stiller, one of the organizers and also a Tuscobia Winter Ultra 150 racer.  I also met Kamp Kirsch, the shop owner and another race organizer.  I talked with those guys for a few, got a copy of the course map, and then headed out for a 4 more hour drive to Rapid City.  I got there around 11pm (it was actually only 10 because of the time change, but I didn’t realize that I changed time zones until the next night, haha.  I’m slow like that).  On Wednesday, I headed out to do the South Dakota tourism thing.  I swear, winter is the best time to visit National Parks!  There was exactly one other car on the way to Mt. Rushmore.

IMG_1303

After Rushmore, I headed north to Deadwood, which was fairly quiet as well.

IMG_1305

I unloaded the Pugs and headed out on the Mickelson Trail, a 105 mile rail-trail that connects Deadwood and Edgemont.  In the winter, snow-mobiles are allowed on it.  The day I was riding, it was around 45 degrees, and the top layer was slush.  I aired the tires down to around 4-5 PSI, and was able to get decent traction, but the going was slow, and uphill to boot.  I rode about 10-12 miles, and turned around and headed back to town.  Of course, I got about 20 minutes into the ride and realized I left my phone in the car, so I have no pictures other than the one I took at the trailhead when I got back.  The trail would make an awesome overnight ride with better riding conditions and freezing temperatures, though!

 

 

IMG_1306

 

Back in Deadwood, I stopped and had lunch at The Gem, which is a casino, bar, and grill on the site of the original notorious Gem “Theater” owned by Al Swearengen, that was depicted in the HBO series “Deadwood.”  After doing some reading up on the place, the Swearengen depicted in the TV show is much milder than the real-life Al Swearengen.

After lunch in Deadwood, I headed back to Rapid City via Sturgis.  No motorcycles were in sight, and the town looked pretty dead, so I didn’t even stop.  I checked in a hotel in Rapid City, crashed, and hit the road Friday morning for the drive back to Sioux Falls.  I grabbed a room there, and met some of the other racers for dinner Friday night.  I got up around 7 Saturday morning, as being the race didn’t start until 10.  I got dressed, and headed over to McNally’s, an Irish bar and grill, where the race started and ended.  The organizers had a breakfast laid on for us, which was awesome, by the way, so I grabbed a plate and a couple cups of coffee from the bar.

IMG_1314

Here’s some of the racers at McNally’s before the start.  I just want to say that this was an extremely well-organized event, especially for the first year!  The bike shop had mechanics on hand prior to the race, breakfast and dinner were both included, the swag-bags and prizes were awesome (like a pair of 120TPI Surly Nates awesome), and the checkpoint was well-organized (and at a winery).  Basically, if you’re a fat-biker, this race is one to put on the calendar for next year!

About 10 minutes before the race, we went outside for a pre-race meeting

IMG_1318 IMG_1317 IMG_1316

 

then lined up for a picture for the local newspaper who was covering the event.

IMG_1328

We lined up, they said go, and… CHUNK.  My chain came off.  No shit.  I hadn’t even gotten out of the goddamn parking lot, and I was a quarter of a mile behind.  I got the chain back on the derailleur, and it kept slipping to the small ring.  I finally got it to go back on the big ring, but thought I would never catch the group.  About 3 miles in, I passed one racer, and a mile later, 4 racers, including Tina Stiller, stopped for a bit, and I was able to catch up with them.  I rode with them for most of the way to the first checkpoint, although they pulled ahead on the horrendous hike-a-bike.

IMG_1327

IMG_1326

These two pictures were both taken by the photographer from the newspaper.  Actual riding was fairly easy, as being we head a tailwind, and the roads were packed, and we were easily able to go 14-15mph, which is FLYING on a fat bike.

IMG_1319

 

A picture of one of the people I was riding with.  I’m horrible with names.  Sorry dude, haha.

The hike-a-bike, however, was what really killed me.  By the time we hit it, my hydration hose had frozen solid, and instead of the 1/2 mile or so that I was envisioning, it was easily two miles of uphill slogging through knee+ deep slow.  By the time I got to the top, my thighs were on fire!  After building up a pretty heavy sweat, I crested the Energizer Bunny Hill  (it just kept going and going and going), I almost immediately coasted into a big downhill… and freaking froze.  My thighs locked up tight with cramps, and it was all I could do to get to the checkpoint.  I was there about 30 minutes before the cramps let loose, and just decided to call it.  I could have taken off again, but if I would have cramped up again in the middle of BFSD, I could have been really screwed.  The final decision-maker was that it started snowing again, and although it stopped shortly after it started, I had made up my mind I was done, so I was done.

I waited at the checkpoint, and snapped a few pictures as people came in.

IMG_1320

 

IMG_1321

 

When the 27 mile racers came in, I congratulated them.  The first place winner was a girl on a SS Pugsley, so I started chatting with her.  She said her name was Jill Hueckman, and I knew it sounded familiar, but couldn’t place it.  She was in Rapid City for a business trip, and made the trip over to Sioux Falls for the race, but lived in Denver.  We got to talking, and she said she was in fourth or fifth until the hike-a-bike, and managed to pull ahead because that’s what she was used to in Colorado.  I told her I had bike-packed the Vapor Trail, and was intimately familiar with Colorado hike-a-bike.  She laughed and said she has done the Colorado Trail and the AZT.  To win the “mine’s longer than yours” debate, I told her I had done 1,200 miles on this year’s Tour Divide, and she said she was not only doing the Divide this year, but going for a triple-crown, which also includes the Arizona Trail Race and the Colorado Trail Race – definitely a serious challenge!  It’s always great to meet a fellow bike-packer and ultra racer, even though she’s much, much faster than I am, haha!  You should check out her blog – All Things Epic.

IMG_1322

 

Jill on the left, and the second-place woman on the right.

After everyone had came through or was accounted for, we headed back to McNally’s for the after-race awards and food.  I stayed there for a while chatting with Jill, her roommate, and other racers, then headed back to the hotel, got warmed up in the hot tub, and headed back to KS early Sunday morning.  When I left Sioux Falls, it was a whopping 4 degrees, but I had a really nice surprise waiting for me, because by the time I was on the KS turnpike headed back to Emporia, it looked something like this:

IMG_1330

 

Nothing like a 55 degree temperature swing in 6 hours.

See you down the road (just not in Scotland because my 520 mile mountain bike race through the Scottish Highlands followed by four days of sight-seeing in Wales and England ending with a trip to France to attend the 70th anniversary ceremony of the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach has been cancelled because the Kansas Army National Guard is fucking  forcing soldiers with a second 2-week training event that somehow just became mandatory.    If it seems like I’ve been in a really bad mood, that would be the reason.  I’m so fucking done.),

Matt

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Of All the Blogs, On All the Internet…

Yeah, it’s been a while.  I know.  Shut up.  I realize haven’t posted anything since I got back from the Divide.  I realize it’s almost f@*#ing Thanksgiving.  My computer broke.  No really, it did.  Here’s my “letter” I sent to Apple to prove it.

IMG_1209

 

They never replied, but I thought it was pretty damn funny anyways.  Actually, I take that back; it’s freakin’ hilarious.  Come to find out my hard drive was fried.  Anyways.  Here’s the video I put together of my Divide Race.  It’s on Vimeo instead of YouTube so people at work (meaning me) can watch it because our dyed-in-the-wool pinko Marxist Communist IT Department blocked YouTube.  It’s 10 minutes long, so grab a Snicker’s, because you’re not going anywhere for a while.

Now to answer the two biggest questions I get asked.  1 – What have I been up to?

A – Eating.  No kidding.  I put on 20 pounds since June.  I haven’t been riding hardly at all, although that’s changed considerably in the last two weeks.  I did, however, learn to fly an airplane.  Well, I am currently learning to fly an airplane.

IMG_1248

 

Me, nervous?  NAHHH!  It’s all part of the adventure of life!  Riding kind of took a back seat this summer/fall, and it really shows.  I’m really starting to get back in shape, mainly because I had a really good fitness base built up.  I’m down 12 pounds since the 2nd of November (I was 183, folks.  Shit just got really real).  I’ve been going to the gym regularly, and I am trying to get a good, long ride in on the weekends (that’s what she said!).  I did start drinking after I got back from the Divide, but I’m done with that.  I don’t need it, not to mention that when I don’t drink, it’s like someone started shoveling money at me with a pitchfork, so I’m done.  For good.  Besides, with all that extra money, I can make a few bike upgrades, like this:

IMG_1265

 

That’s my fat-bike frame.  They’ll be more to follow on this.  On to question #2.

What are you going to do next?

A- This:

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 9.18.51 PM

 

It’s the Highland Trail 550 - a 550 mile mountain bike race through the Scottish Highlands.  Check out the link, there’s some amazing pictures!  They’ll be more to follow on this, as well, but I’m pretty excited about it!  Before then, though, I’ll be doing a 70 mile fat-bike race December 14th.  In South Dakota.  In December.  The upside is that the weather will probably be better in South Dakota than it will be in Scotland.  Also, I’m going to finish up flying lessons as time permits, and should be ready to solo shortly.  On second thought, maybe I WON’T be going to Scotland…  Sorry Mom, I know I shouldn’t joke about that!

Well, that kind of gets me caught up.  I know there’s a lot I’m leaving out – deal with it.

Faic sibh a bahn slighe, (that’s Scottish Gaelic, btw)

Matt

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Well, That Was Fun!

Here’s the start of my 2013 Tour Divide post.  For those of you who don’t know, I ended up dropping out of the race about 40 miles outside of Jackson Hole, WY with a severely strained IT band in my right knee.  Total distance covered was just under 1,200 miles, which was not quite half of the 2,745 miles total.  I honestly have no idea how to even begin to describe this thing, so I’ll just do the best I can and hope to distract you with amazing pictures.

I guess I’ll start at the beginning.  I got the bike and all the gear boxed up and my Dad gave me a ride to Wichita on June 11th (Tuesday) so I could stay the night in a hotel, because my flight left at 5:45 am Wednesday.  The hotel had a shuttle van to the airport, so I didn’t have to wait on a cab.  I lugged my stuffed bike box up to the counter, got it weighed in no problem (61 pounds total!!), got the ticket, went through security, and off I went.  I had a two hour layover in Chicago, and ran into three other racers that were on my same flight to Calgary.  Our plane in Chicago was delayed about 45 minutes, so I called the company that runs the shuttle from Calgary to Banff to tell them, and got switched to the next shuttle, no problem.  Got off the plane in Banff, and the four of us were waiting for our bike boxes in the baggage area, and met Kevin Campagna, another racer from Dallas that I had gotten to know somewhat on Facebook.  He had also raced the Dirty Kanza last year, plus did the Land Run 100 this year, that a lot of folks from here in town did, and was organized by former Emporian Bobby Wintle.  I went over and talked to him, and we found our shuttle, got loaded up, and took off for Banff.

We got to Banff about 3:30 that afternoon.  The shuttle dropped me off right at my hotel, so I got checked in, got the bike box stowed, and set off to explore the amazing downtown and find the YMCA, where most of the rest of the racers were staying.

IMG_1021

 

Downtown Banff.

While walking downtown, I ran into a few other racers, including Karlos Bernart, whom I had met at last year’s Stagecoach 400.

I found the Y, found Kevin again, and he said that there was a get-together planned at 5 at a local microbrewery.  After walking around downtown, and finally asking a local for directions, we finally found it.  6-7 racers showed up, and we all enjoyed a big dinner and a couple of drinks.  I didn’t partake too much because I planned on starting my race the next morning, which I did.

After dinner, we went back to the Y and continued chatting with other racers for a bit, then I headed back to the hotel to put my bike together and get some sleep.  I got everything put together, and went to adjust my brakes, and noticed the front brake rotor bad been bent during the flight.  Shit.  The bike shop didn’t open until 10 the next morning.  Next morning, I get up early, and double check everything one last time, and head to the Y for breakfast, and HOPE that someone who drove up happens to have an extra brake rotor.  Not so much.  I waited on breakfast for 45 minutes, and had to bail to go to the bike shop.  I get there, get a new rotor, get the brakes adjusted, tires pumped up, and head back to the Y, go past there to the Banff Springs Hotel, where the race starts,

Banff_Springs_Hotel1

 

and head out on the Spray River Trail.  I ended up starting around 11 am, which was 3 hours later than I wanted, but so goes the Divide.

IMG_1026

 

IMG_1030

 

IMG_1031

 

I followed the course for about 40 or 50 miles, and ran into John, a guy from Boulder who was touring the route, and planned to take about 50 days.  We got to the Bolton Campground and General Store around 6:30, which was lucky because they closed at 7.  My original plan was to restock there and continue on another 50 miles to Elkford, but decided to get a campground with John and take a short day.  The next day we took off around 7 or so, climbed a fairly good pass, and then descended to the town of Elkford.  We stopped there for a late lunch at the hotel, and decided to wait out yet another rainstorm.

IMG_1038

 

During this time, the leaders, Craig Stappler and Mike Hall, ended up passing us, so I decided it was time for me to get up and going.  I bid John good luck, and headed out towards Sparwood.  The ride from Elkford to Sparwood is only about 30 miles, and is fairly flat, and most of it is paved.  You jump on a highway for just a bit and then turn onto a two-lane paved backroad that was a really magnificent ride.  It reminded me of riding through a model railroad scene.  That’s after I took the highway for 5 miles that I wasn’t supposed to, and had to backtrack, in the rain, because my GPS batteries died and I didn’t check the map.  Lesson learned.  Due to the rain, I decided to take another fairly easy day, and stopped for the night in Sparwood.  I got a hotel, and hit up the fairly famous (at least for Divide folk) A&W.  Two cheeseburgers, a huge thing of fries, a big water, and a root beer float, and I almost wasn’t hungry anymore.  I knew there would be other racers who would show up, and ran into Kevin again, and Scott Thigpen, and a few others.  They said they were meeting at the gas station at five, and taking off from there, so I agreed.  We met up, grabbed a quick gas station breakfast, and headed out.

I’ll continue this tomorrow, where I cross the border, and also the most insane single track/hike-a-bike ever.  Also, if you’re lucky, I’ll tell you The Incredibly True Story of Tweedle-Dee and Ass-hat.  Stay tuned.

IMG_1023 IMG_1024 IMG_1029 IMG_1032 IMG_1034 IMG_1035 IMG_1036 IMG_1037

 

See you down the road,

Matt

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Last Month…

Wow, it’s been a MONTH since I posted on this damn thing!  It’s been a hectic, insanely fast 30 days, that’s for sure!  I’ll give you the rundown, starting with the CSF&O route I attempted.

The CSF&O – The last time I posted, I was preparing to take on a ~550 mile gravel course I mapped out in January.  One word – Mud.  Wheel/soul/life-sucking mud.  I rode 141 miles the first day, all the way to Newton.  I knew a pretty big storm was coming, so I got a hotel room, and it started raining hard as soon as I got inside. WHEW!  Dodged that bullet!  I woke up the next morning, got 4-5 miles outside of town, and hit mud.  Hike-a-bike mud.  It would have been 40+ miles of hike-a-bike.  I tried to find a bypass, but ended up getting a couple of flats and using up both of my spare tubes.  I finally got to Hillsboro, grabbed a hotel room, and bam, more rain.  That night I debated whether to continue up an asphalt road  to Abilene, and then over to Manhattan for more bike tubes, or just head home.  I had read that there was a bike shop in Hillsboro, so I waited until 10am, and found out that it was no longer in business.  Crap.  No tubes.  I ended up riding back to Emporia, but managed to still have a good high-mileage week.  After I got back to Emporia, I snagged another 20 miles with the Thursday Night Ride gang, then Friday I rode about 45 miles to Eskridge, camped out at Ryan Dudley’s house, and rode in the Maisie’s Ride 80 mile gravel grinder, against a 35-mph wind!   Great week, regardless of some pretty major plan changes.

IMG_0962

IMG_0963 IMG_0964 IMG_0978 IMG_0979 IMG_0980 IMG_0983 IMG_0984 IMG_0985 IMG_0988 IMG_0991

There’s some pics for the week!

After that, it was back to work, and between Wolf Creek and the Kansas National Guard, I’ve been going pretty hard.  Another set-back was my Uncle passed away yesterday.  We found out he was sick in the hospital, and was in the ICU.  He hung on for about a week longer than the doctors said he would, but finally found his peace Monday.  I have to give my cousin’s some major props, because they’ve had set-back after set-back, not to mention some major family drama, and have persevered.  They’re tough folk, though, and it was great to see them again!

The Tour Divide – My Tour Divide Race starts in 9 days.  I’m racing the Tour Divide in 9 *^&$ing days.  Holy shit.  Wow.  Ok, haha, I’m done.  It’s mind-blowing how fast the time went.  For those of you who haven’t been following along, it’s a 2,745 mile mountain bike race from Banff, Alberta to the US/Mexico border at Antelope Wells, NM.

trev_map

I’m hoping to complete the race in 24 days.  My preparation is just about complete.  I’ll pack the bike up Friday, and I head out Tuesday evening for the Wichita Airport, and fly out (really freaking) early Wednesday.  I would like to have a day or two to spend in Banff, but that’s not going to happen.  The official Grand Depart is Friday morning, but in order to maximize vacation time I’m starting on Thursday.  I plan to leave Banff at 9am Thursday.  You’ll be able to keep tabs on the race at home via my SPOT GPS tracker here at trackleaders.com.  You can check out my personal profile here.   There’s a couple other resources for the Divide Race; one being bikepacking.net, where there has been a 2013 race discussion going on since December of 2011.  There will also be a discussion thread once the race kicks off.  The other is a facebook group called Endurance Rides and Bike Packing.  Originally a well-thought out and meaningful discussion concerning bikepacking, ultra-mountain bike races, and the like; it has since devolved into a raucous flame-war of  shake-weight debates, happy socks, and who can come up with the scariest bear picture.

bear

This one wins.

All joking aside, it’s been a great asset for not just planning, but also quasi-meeting other racers.  They’re awesome people, and I can’t wait to meet them in person and get this party started!

***EDIT ALERT!!!***  I forgot about the rider call-ins!  Riders can call in to give updates to MTBCast.  This is actually a great way for riders to keep friends and family up-to-date on how the race is going for them.

All the major prep-work is done (I hope).  I sent four resupply boxes to various towns along the route with emergency repair supplies. The maps and GPS tracks are loaded in my GPS and phone.  Cue sheets and town information spreadsheets are in my phone.  The equipment list is ready for when I pack.  I found a ride from Antelope Wells to El Paso, TX.  All I need to do now is get on a plane, get to Canada, and start pedaling.  I’m really pumped to get this adventure started!

Ok, I’m gonna end this thing, but I’ll try to update this blog as I can along the route, along with my twitter (slater_m_d1) and my Facebook page.

I’ll see you down the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route!

Matt

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments