Andy Hale: 2011 ORAMM Finisher, Nermal

Here’s the storm that was a brewin’ Sunday afternoon that truncated our relaxed road ride but bumped up the effort/intensity levels by ten fold. Yes, pictures of clouds are awesome and inspiring, yet terrifying. Thanks to Billiam for the inspiration.

In racing news, congratulations to Hawley north Florida sales rep and devoted family man Andrew Hale for completing his first ORAMM. 9 hours and 45 minutes of mountain biking bliss! Also congratulations to blogger and bon vivant Rich Dillen for snagging 2nd place in the single speed category with a time of 5 hours and 38 minutes. What could account for a 4 hour difference between two equally serious and talented riders? Simply put, technique. Notice the difference in climbing postures and number plate arrangement. An effervescent Rich is dancing on the pedals like a non-dead Fred Astaire as Andy slowly grinds his knees into a fine but edible paste, like a dead Fred Astaire.

Creek crossing techniques show a discernible gap, nay chasm, in skills, confidence and general intelligence. Rich literally rides across the surface of the creek, barely disturbing the water let alone the pebbles on the creek bed like some heavenly Pisgah water nymph. He loses little to no speed, and also finds the the water spray cool yet refreshing. Conversely, Andy plunges front first into the brackish, horse pee-laden water, losing speed and control as he locks up both front and rear brake. Bike and face coated in the fetid “liquid”, Andy is demoralized, shaken and questions his own existence in a world built upon chaos and happenstance. Thanks to Lightbox Productions for the photos. They’re a professional outfit in Asheville who are starting to upset the applecart of race photography in Western NC for 2011.

In product news, with cyclocross season “fast” approaching, we received our latest CX tire offering from our good friends at Schwalbe Friday morning. The SMART SAM (TIRE7617 for those following along) is a budget-centric wire bead tire with an aggressive tread yet supple rubber. Unlike some other Schwalbe CX tires, the sidewall is beefy so shred capabilities are maximized. Tread pattern is very mtb-ish with knobs “all over the place”. This tire would make a good all rounder for a beginner or cheapskate’s first foray into the barriers. Many in stock but priced low so inquire, post haste….