Monday, May 30, 2011

Kingdom Trails: 5/28-5/30/2011

Rode the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT over the Memorial Day Weekend.  It was fantastic.  I'll give a full report later in the week, but here's a quick edit I made with some GoPro footage that I got on Sunday.  I know how boring straight GoPro Footage can be, so I tried to mix it up a little bit with other riders and unique camera angles (I put it backwards on my helmet for a while and shot my friends behind me - ended up being a little bit of a commercial for Camelback, but it came out pretty cool).  If nothing else, the video shows how awesome the trails at the Kingdom are.  Here it is:

EDIT: Damn it, audio disabled by Youtube . . . I'll fix this tomorrow . . .

EDIT: Hopefully fixed?

Untitled from Matt Charles on Vimeo.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Last Chair: 5/26/11

This is the post that wraps up the blog posts, articles, and trip reports that I've been checking out over the past week. When I see cool stuff, I post it on my twitter, and the feed appears on the right side of this page.

Well, it was a slow week for skiing and mountain biking stuff.  It was so slow, if fact, that I started reading some running stuff (and I despise running).  The Saratoga Skier and Hiker had a great post that almost got me out on the trails - but only because I love great quotes, and his post was filled with them.  Incidentally, if I did get into running, it would be more trail running and less marathons.

A couple of nice mountain bike reports from a place I'm dying to visit: Moab, UT.  Here's one from MTB Racer Jeff Kerkove.  And here's one from a hot chick on TGR (the Mags must be getting more mature . . . not even a single comment about T or A).

And if I ever decide to write a book about the outdoors, or activities, or life (and I actually have some ideas), Jill seems to have a pretty good way to get it published.

Finally, here's some GoPro footage of a freakin' Lion!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Last Chair: 5/20/11

Time for my weekly roundup of the cool stuff on the web that I've been putting on Twitter for the past week. My twitter feed appears at the right, or you can follow me @mattchuck2. Okay, without further ado, here we go:

I made a note that I wanted to mountain bike Fruita, Colorado when I saw this post and this video.

Loved this post. A guy tries to drive his ski bum van and have a winter of craziness at all sorts of Western Resorts. Unfortunately (or fortunately), he gets stuck in Jackson Hole.

This post came on my 31st birthday. It was about achieving your lifelong dreams, and doing what you love. It made me want to make my life better.

The video for the week is a Heli downhill DH mountain Bike race. Not too shabby:

Bike Commuting

Well, I took part in National Bike Commuting day today. It was . . . interesting. The ride in was kind of rough. Really threatening weather to start out:

And it soon went from bad to worse.  I ended up riding a major route with a lot of traffic, combined with a drenching rain . . .

Eventually, it let up a little (and I was able to get off the main roads), and I was finally feeling good about the road in.

I finally got into work (a little late), and I found that 2 other people participated in Bike to Work Day.  Actually, these guys always ride their bikes in (I see them every day) so really, I was the only person who partook.

I gotta say, I wasn't too too excited about biking in.  It's kind of stressful (possibly more stressful than driving in).  Plus I have to get up earlier - something I hate to do.  And all I got out of it was about $2.00 - the equivalent of the half gallon of gas it usually takes me to drive the 12.8 miles to the office.

On the way home, I waited for a break in the weather (so I wouldn't be riding through rain again), and got out on the roads.

Needless to say, it was a lot better than the morning ride.  I was able to take off my raincoat, ride in short sleeves and enjoy the biking.  I even saw a deer bounding through the forest next to me.  I was feeling so good, I chose a different route, one that included less main thoroughfares and more secluded bike paths.  It got really, really nice.

I'm never going to be like this guy.  But I can see myself doing this a little more throughout the summer.  I felt really good after the ride today.  Besides the woman who honked at me, and the weird dude who let out a guttural scream in my direction, there were no problems at all.  Traffic seemed a little heavier today (heavier than the time I commuted earlier in the year), but drivers were mostly courteous.  I still saw a couple of dirt paths that I wanted to explore:

And my bottom bracket developed a bit of a clicking sound.  I'm hoping that will go away when my bike dries out a little (I realize that's not likely).  All in all, though, I had a pretty good time bike commuting today.  I felt fitter, happier, and more prepared for the 100 mile Tour de Cure that I'm riding on June 5th.  I'm looking forward to a few more bike commutes before then.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have over 500 channels on my cable TV. Actually, I have over 1800, but a bunch of those are sports package channels, music channels, and HD duplicate channels. I'm not picky, so I watch everything from ESPN to the Style Network, The History Channel to E!. I get HBO. I have Netflix movies delivered to my house. I can get movies and television shows through my cable box, my Xbox, and my laptop. And what do I do every night? I flip through each channel, browse each movie source, and decide that there is absolutely nothing that I want to watch. I usually settle on the Mets game (which is invariably disappointing).

I only mention this because I've been thinking about choice. More specifically, I've been asking myself why, when I have so many options in my life (TV options, movie theater options, weekend vacation options), why I still feel like I need more. When I scroll by the Showtime (a channel I don't get), sometimes I see a movie that I'd like to watch, and I briefly contemplate purchasing Showtime. Today, while watching the Tour of California, I contemplated trying to hook up an antenna so I could get the Universal Sports feed of the Giro d'Italia. Every week, Ace and I try to use a pair of free movie tickets that we have, and every week we decide that there's nothing in the theaters that's worth watching. Every time I try to decide what to do on the weekend, I look at some options and decide that I want to do other things. I wish that I lived in Colorado so that I could mountain bike Fruita, or ski A-basin.

All of this leads to the "Paradox of Choice", which is really nicely described in this Youtube video (but it is long, so I summarize the main points below):

The Professor at Swarthmore College explains that there are four ways that more choices actually make us less happy:
1. It produces paralysis, rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.

2. Even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.

3. Escalation of Expectations

4. When people make decisions, and even though the results of the decisions are good, they feel disappointed about them - They blame themselves.

The reason that I've been looking at this sort of stuff is this: I'm thinking of buying another bike. And I'm getting paralyzed by the decision. I don't even know what type of bike I want. Some friends want to do a lot of downhill biking this summer (at Whiteface, Plattekill, etc.), so I was thinking of getting a cheap craigslist dh bike that I can throw on the back of a lift, in the bottom of a shuttle bus, or off a rock drop, and not care about it.

Other times, like today on my short little bike ride around the neighborhood (just trying to get something in before I got rained on again), I want something more along the lines of a "Gravel Grinder". I came upon this path:

Whenever I'm on my road bike, and I see a path like that, I always want to take it to see where it goes. But my skinny little road bike tires can't handle it. I'd also like to get into "bikepacking", and a gravel grinder that could fit 29x2.0 tires would be perfect for something like the GDMBR. I keep on looking at the Origin 8 CX700, a cross frame built for touring, durability, and 29x2.1 tires.

Still other times, I want a sweet 29er singlespeed that I can convert to a geared bike for races and bikepacking. I was thinking about this when I was in Ellicottville for work last week (from what I hear, PRIME mountain bike territory). I couldn't jam my enormous full suspension 29er into my little office car, so I didn't get to ride while I was out there. But if I had a nice, simple singlespeed like a Niner SIR 9, especially one like this with S&S couplers, I could fit it into my work vehicle, or into a plane to go visit my bother and ride Sedona, or into a train for a European bike adventure, etc.

And the worst part of all of this is: I don't need a bike. I have a perfectly good road bike, and a perfectly good mountain bike. And here, the paradox of choice will work twice:

First, I will become paralyzed with all of these bike choices. When I finally choose my bike, I will inevitably be disappointed when I can't do all the things that I could've had I made a different choice (if I get the singlespeed, I won't be able to use it at Whiteface, so I'll have to rent). Then I'll blame myself for having to pay the $80 for renting.

Then, if I do end up getting a bike, I'll have to go through a stupid choice every time I ride. Should I go road biking or mountain biking? What about a mix? Maybe I'll take the gravel grinder out for some doubletrack. But when I get on to some trails, and I start having all sorts of fun, I'll wish I brought the mountain bike so I could hit more technical trails, and I'll blame myself for making the wrong decision.


So, after thinking about it for a little while, I bought . . . One new tire for my mountain bike. Now should I put it on the front wheel or the back? Hmmmmm . . . .

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Last Chair: 5/13/11

I've been slacking a little on my twitter feed, and my weekly update is coming one day late. Ehhh, whatever. Here's the stories I found interesting in the last two weeks (last week was vacation).

As this is still the transition period, I linked to a mix of Skiing (Famous Internet Skiers) and Biking (Big Wheel Building) posts.

I liked this post about "getting after it" and not making excuses for the situation you're in.

And two videos this week. The first is the guy who lived across the hall from me in college (Warner Nickerson), ripping up Sweden with Jon Olsson.

Team TNT - We´re having fun! from Kristofer Fahlgren on Vimeo.

And the next is a cool little bike film that inspires me to ride my bike more:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blogging, St. Kitts, and Upcoming Events

I've been taking a break from the blog lately.  I have a good reason, though: I've been on vacation in the Caribbean - St. Kitts to be exact.  Sometimes, when you have a blog, you get behind in your stuff, you start to think that you need a really, really good post to come back with, and you end up letting your blog fade away.  And sometimes the opposite happens - you come back with a really, really wordy post that bores everyone and drives the few remaining people who follow your blog away.

So I'm not going to do that.  Here are some pictures from St. Kitts:

It was definitely a good trip.  Played some golf, did some snorkeling, rode a mountain bike with the Triathlon Champion of St. Kitts - Nevis, and got some quality beach-laying in. Plus there was this:

Sugarloaf Sticker in a beach bar in St. Kitts?  Nobody can stop Eastern Skiing!

Now, I'm back at work (and back on the road - at a hotel in Ellicottville, NY for 3 days).

I'm a little bummed because I wanted to get some bike time in.  The first few weeks of June, I have a two week stretch that includes the 100 mile Tour de Cure and the 40 mile Black Fly Challenge.  I haven't been the model for athletic training lately.  It's not technically my fault, the food in St. Kitts was really good and the beach-laying was so relaxing.  Then today, I had to hit up the Ellicottville Brewing Company, one of my favorite ski town bars in the east.  Great food and beer, but I had no energy to hit up the exercise bike in the hotel - Gotta get that energy up if I'm going to be ready for 100 miles on June 5th.  Time to get to work.