Check Your Head

So RL and I were talking the other day when he tells me a little story. He tells of how he was just riding along with the lovely Lady P when they see a fellow mountainbiker suddenly eject himself from his bike. This poor soul decided to do a little helmet testing right there on the trail. RL being the stand-up man of action he is immediately renders aid. He calls for a helicopter, clears an LZ, stabilizes the victim by placing him in full c-spine, establishes a large bore IV, advises the trauma center of their in-bound patient, and tunes up the guy’s bike so it will be ready for him upon discharge from the hospital. He then asks me, “Albacore, not everyone who reads this site would be able to jump into action without hesitation like I did. They may be scared or unsure of what to do when someone rattles their noggin. Would you mind putting together a little something so our fine readers may be able to help a downed rider like I did?” “Of course!” I replied.

Firstly, if you or someone you’re riding with takes a spill, remain calm. Once you start spinning you make a manageable situation spiral out of control. If said unlucky rider bumps their melon, don’t wail like a banshee as you jump and down. You remain calm then you keep them calm and still. If you are unsure if you can manage the situation then get help. Call 911 or flag someone down. Don’t move him unless there is an immediate need to do so. Establish his mental status. Yes, I know, he was nutjob before he got hurt. But find out if he is kookier than usual. Ask simple questions he is sure to know. What is your name? How old are you? Do you know where you are? What hurts? If he can not answer any of those questions readily of if he repeats the same questions or statements over and over, annoyingly so, that is a sign of a more serious injury. If he has pain to his neck or back keep him still. Do not move him unnecessarily. Again, no screaming and dancing at the sight of blood. Lacerations to the scalp bleed moreso than cuts to your legs or arms. Apply pressure to control any serious bleeding but don’t freak out. It is the bleeding within the skull, that you can’t see, that will kill you; not the superficial cactus needles you wear on your forehead from Aliso. Look at their helmet to clue you in where his injuries may be. Scratches, dents, and cracks will say a lot about what part of his head suffered an impact and how hard.

People often say, “He hit his head so I made sure to keep him awake.” Big deal. Again, if he is tired after an OTB smackdown it doesn’t matter. He was riding his bike, he should be tired. It is when he unresponsive upon crashing that is a concern. If he crashed hard enough to knock himself out don’t yell and shake to wake him up. Instead, keep him still and in a position that will keep his airway open and allow him breathe. If possible, while supporting the head, roll him to his back while keeping his head inline with his spine. Watch that he doesn’t vomit while unconscious. If he starts to throw up gently roll him to his side while still keeping his head in line with his spine. Your concern should be keeping his airway open until help arrives. If he is awake but feels nauseated watch that he doesn’t lose consciousness. Keep him still and calm. Again, he may have bits of brain and lint and dust rollin around up there. You don’t want him to suddenly decide to HTFU and walk or ride himself out only to DFO (pass out), fall, and now add to his injuries. Support him so if he loses consciousness you can gently lower him to the ground.

You are not going to fix Joe Lawndart on the trail if he has a serious head injury. The trauma docs at the hospital will do that. You want to minimize any injuries and keep him stable until help arrives or you determine his injury is not that serious and you can carry on. If in doubt, get help, call 911, find a ranger, flag down another rider to get someone to help. I often get asked about ridiculous calls we go on. I say we respond whenever someone calls 911. It may not be something I consider an emergency but to that person who called it is. Do not be afraid to ask for help or call 911. Head injuries can be troublesome because so much can be going on inside that you can’t see. Remain calm, keep him still and breathing. Next time I’ll discuss simpler topics like broken bones and gaping wounds.

Check Your Head

My Arsenal

So, RL and I were riding together the other day when the topic of what I carry on a ride came up. I explained to him that given my fireman/paramedic/search-and-rescue/general outdoorsman/pro bike mechanic/avid rider/all-around-bitchin guy background I carry more than your average mountain biker. It was with awe and amazement that he exclaimed, “The world needs to know this information. You must share via this magnificent site what you carry and some tips on how to use all that great stuff.” I agree. Check back later this week for the first installment of what should be a regular series. I gots alotta stuff crammed in my Camelbak.

B1 Arsenal 2

Happy MALentine’s Day

So, Valentine weekend has now come to an end. Valentine’s Day was this past Thursday. Some of you may have chosen to make a long weekend out of it. You obviously do not have kids, are not married, or, if you are sentenced to life, you have served less than 10 years of that marital sentence. You blew hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on a created holiday to get you to do just that. You should have spent that money on something that will give you more pleasure — bike shit. Thankfully, my wife hates roses, hates ’em. I don’t have to buy her chocolates either because she, like most women, wants to lose that last 5 pounds before beach weather hits. I got the kids to create a card out of construction paper, white glue, macaroni, rainbow flakes, pixie dust, phoenix feathers, kraken scales, and unicorn. . . corns. Voila! Valentine’s Day handled. Unlike my friend, poor Captain Cranium, I get sexytime with the missus more than just my birthday and Christmas. So who needs this made-up holiday?

Let’s celebrate Malentine’s day. Malentine, the patron saint of pet peeves. Mal, from the Latin meaning bad, ill, or wrong. The following list of irritants are all bad, wrong, and make me ill:

1. Wearing bike clothes to the trailhead. Perhaps this came from my years of organized team sports. We would wear a shirt and tie, get on a bus, travel to the den of our opponent, then get dressed for battle. Now I’m not suggesting you wear your Sunday best prior to riding your bike, but for comfort’s sake, don’t wear your entire riding kit in the car. Nevermind looking like a dork-on-wheels (that’s what you are) sitting at the 241 toll plaza with your neon sublimated cycling jersey on. You’re then going to wear that sweat crusted, stinky, muddy, bloodied, Cytomax sticky, wet rag home. How hard is it to put on a clean t-shirt? Don’t tell me you are afraid of forgetting something so you get dressed at home knowing you have everything. You are an adult aren’t you? Why not just put on your helmet, gloves, and clipless shoes on at home too? I’ll grant you a tiny bit of leeway and allow you to wear your cycling shorts. Afterall, I wouldn’t want you fumbling next to your car with a towel around your waist, trying to pull down your tightie-whities, all the while terrified that said towel with catch a gust and expose your little cheeto.

2. Pre-ride bike repair. Now that you are dressed and ready to go, the rest of us begin to pedal off when you yell out to us, “Any of you guys have a pump, chain lube, Park T-handle wrench set, bearing press, or fitness I can borrow?” You knew you were riding today, right? Too busy last night catching up on this season’s The Bachelor to make sure your bike was ready to go? So you had the forethought to bring your own pump, lube, and tool set with you so as not to ask us. Use that forethought to take care of any maintenance at home. Don’t lube your chain right there before we set off either. You should know how I feel about that.

3. Dumping grounds. Okay, done dumping on you, let’s ride. WTF! Great Odin’s Raven (been watching Anchorman) look at all the trash strewn about. I hate those lazy mofos who use any bit of open land just off the road for their own dumping grounds. Sure, this looks like a great spot to dump all your shit that is too large or awkward to just leave at the curb. Even Jules and Vincent took their trash with them to dispose of properly. Or, the savages who, when on their “nature hike,” just toss their Red Bull can or Starbucks cup into the sagebrush. The only positive I can find — on a recent exploratory ride I was unsure which way would lead me back to the main road. How did I find my way out? I saw a discarded mattress, sofa, 2 t.v.s, fridge, and decomposing body. I followed the trash. The piles grew bigger and bigger then bam, civilization. Even pot farmers and coke producers pick up after themselves.

trailside trash

4. Mix and don’t match. Pick a component, any component, and stick with it. Shimano begets Shimano, Sram begets Sram, Thomson begets Thomson, so on. Your bike is so bitchin with its Shimano cranks, Sram shifters and derailleurs, Thomson seatpost, FSA stem, Easton bars, etc. Buy your bike, ride the crap out of it. When you know better, spend more, and become enlightened, stick with a manufacturer.

5. Sitting backwards. So you’re all high on yourself now because you just installed a Thomson seatpost and Thomson stem. One thing smartguy, your post is backwards. Is that why you don’t change at the trailhead? Afraid when you put on your pants the fly will be in the back?

The Right Way
The Right Way

Don’t worry, I’m not one to make fun of you behind your back. If you fit into any of the above bonehead categories I’ll call you out to your face (then make fun of you behind your back). Happy Valentine’s Day.

Pedros Ice Wax Review aka Lube That Chassis

So, a friend asks me tonight, “What’s the best lube to keep my bike as slick and as dialed as yours Albacore?” I tell him of this new (to me) stuff I have been using lately. When I find something I like I stick with it. Once a product proves its worth I become a loyal follower. I write its name over and over on my Pee-Chee, I tattoo it on my neck, I build a shrine to it in my yard surrounded by candles, and the truest test of loyalty — I gladly pay, sometimes even pay more for it. So to get me to switch to a new product that product had better be phenomenal. You had better be lighter, stronger, faster, tastier, emit rainbows, breed unicorns, or dispense cash, candy, and liquor. Or, the ultimate tool of persuasion, you are free.

That is just what got me to switch from Boeshiled T-9. I have been using T-9 exclusively since 1998. Prior to that I have tried every lube there is. Some were too oily, too waxy, too flaky, too messy, or were only good for making a blue flaming drivetrain.

Nothing has ever beaten T-9. It works. It keeps your chain lubed in all conditions. It is smooth, quiet, reduces wear and friction, keeps your drivetrain clean, and makes you waffles in the morning. So when RFD knocked on my door bearing gifts I was reluctant to say thanks. In one hand he had a bottle of homemade wine (I did thank him for that), and in the other hand he a bottle of Pedros Ice Wax.

Pedros Ice Wax

The bottle of Ice Wax sat on my workbench for a few weeks. Then, when Newb had me tune his bike I figured he would be the perfect guinea pig. After all, NMB is spoken here. (NMB — Not My Bike.) Now I am particular about my bike. I am not going to spray a new lube all willy-nilly on my chain without first removing all parts and doing a thorough solvent wash. Always start with a clean slate, err chain. Again, Newb’s bike was the ideal candidate.

The first thing I noticed about Ice Wax was its viscosity. This stuff is thick. The bottle has a finely tipped applicator that dispenses a steady stream of icing. Yes, it looks like icing. I thought for a minute I had one of Lady P’s cake decorating tools and not a bike lube. I thought that there is now way this is going to keep a drivetrain clean. On the bright side, it is so heavy you easily see where you applied it. There is no guessing if you have hit every link.

From Pedros site:

I recommend you pedal slowly when applying Ice Wax. Its viscous nature will disperse itself all over your frame and components if you go too fast. Simply hold a rag around the chain, backpedal, and wipe off the excess. Next, which is key with ANY and ALL lubes, let it sit for an hour, or 2, or ideally, overnight. I hate those wankers(C) who pull up to the trailhead, unload their bike, squirt on some lube, then ride off. I want to strangle you with a derailleur cable.

So, by now you are either dying to know how this stuff works, or you have gotten bored and are now perusing some Hot Latinas site. It works great. I have been using Ice Wax for 2 months and I love it. How much do I love it? 1: I’m using it, that’s endorsement enough. 2: I’m reviewing it, and recommending it completely unsolicited. I was not asked to try it out and write a review. It is something I started using and was impressed with. I suggest you use it to. Hell, I would even buy more when my current bottle runs out. Like the name says, it is a wax, and thus, works like wax. Novel huh? It coats completely, keeping dirt and grime at bay, keeping everything smooth and slick and quiet. It is not specifically designed for muddy environments but in these past wet weeks it has worked well to keep me clean and shifting through the slop. Just look at how nice my chain looks:



Lasts for multiple rides
$10 for 4oz is a deal


Can be messy when applying if rushed or overapplied

Baller on a Budget

So I spend a fair amount of money on my bike addiction. Most of you like-obsessed readers do. I hit up all avenues for a deal. I need to make the most of disposing of my non-disposable income. Like many of you too I suffer from that most common of money hemorrhaging afflictions — a wife and kids. I am by no means an Extreme Cheapskate. I DO use toilet paper, I DO NOT eat roadkill, and in a show of extreme financial waste, I have both 26″ and 29″ wheeled bikes outfitted with TUBES! Gasp! However, I do try to save money where I can. An example of which was a daddy-daughter-day yesterday.

My daughter and I spent the day at Knott’s Berry Farm. Money savings #1 was we got in the park for free. $$$ Money savings #2 was I packed our own snacks and drinks. $$$ Money savings #3 (this is where frugality trumps convenience) I ensured we had free parking. The lot adjacent to the shops near the entrance has free parking for 3 hours or less. Therefore, I park, set a timer, hang with Snoopy, return to lot, get in the car and exit, drive 200 yards to re-enter lot, park, reset timer, $15 saved.

Why am saving money? College? Nope. Braces? Nah? Shoes for the Mrs? Are you kidding? No, it is for a new one of these sexy beasts. . .

Courtesy of Transition Bikes
Courtesy of Transition Bikes
Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Kuat Vagabond Review

Kuat Vagabond

So in August I turned my little commuter soda can into an 80 mph shopping cart. That’s a lot of beer fueled football games and rum soaked partying since then, so it is easy to forget the preview I posted.
It is aptly named the Vagabond. I quit loggging the miles this rack spent perched atop my car after 3000. I have removed it and remounted it half a dozen times since then. This do in part to its ease of installation. The Vagabond mounts to round or square crossbars via four clamps. These clamps are shaped in a way that allows them to accommodate nearly any crossbar spacing. This is a good thing since my Civic is a two door with very little rooftop real estate. I was concerned about the crossbar spacing prior to mounting the Vagabond. Kuat specifies that your crossbars be no less than 22″ apart. Whew! I just made it. The four clamps are secured via 2 castle nuts each. These help make installation a breeze but could also make theft just as easy. Said castle nuts also sit up a little high. Depending on what you are carrying in the cargo basket, these nuts may get in the way (yeah, yeah, I know, it sucks when your nuts get in the way. Especially when you sit on them.). The Vagabond relies on a standard quick release skewer to mount the bikes (not provided). I suggest you invest in a quality set like Shimano’s QR skewers to keep with the rack. It quickly becomes a PITA to fully remove your front wheel’s skewer to mount the bike. Then you’d have to remove it from the rack to reattach your wheel once at the trailhead. The Vagabond does comes with 2 burly nylon straps to secure the bikes’ rear wheels.

Kuat Vagabond

Kuat Vagabond

It has a wind fairing which does a good job of cutting the wind noise and allows you to plaster even more stickers to your car — making it look like the entrance of a Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. As with any rack gas mileage is cut slightly but not so much to be a concern. I mounted mine first in line with the slope of the roof, then a little forward as evidenced in the pictures. The in-line position produced less wind noise but having it more forward made weight distribution more balanced. Remember, I have a small car. Any 4-door sedan, SUV, or wagon would not have such an issue. Despite the small footprint I have with the Vagabond, it has always remained secure.

Obviously, the Vagabond is great at carrying bikes. But you could do that a multitude of ways. What makes this so nice is its ability to carry anything you can fit in the basket. I was able to go the beach with 2 bikes, 2 beach chairs, and a skim board all loaded in the Vagabond. Now I can leave my truck at home and still carry what I need; while also fitting my car in compact parking spaces.

Kuat Vagabond

The list of features I don’t like is short. One item short — lockability. To lock the bikes to the rack you would have to use a cable lock. To be extra secure, you would have to swap out the castle nuts for hex nuts. This change wouldn’t make the basket theft-proof, but it would require tools and time to remove, thus making it a lot harder to steal/remove. Thankfully, like all smartly profitable companies, Kuat has addressed this issue with their upgraded Vagabond X. The Vagabond X has locking mounts and integrated bike locks for a retail of $489.

The bottom line — would I spend MY money on this rack? Dunno, maybe, but I am a cheap bastard. I really like the thing. Overall it is well made and is just the right size. What really sets this apart from similar products like Yakima’s LoadWarrior are the two bike mounts. To accomplish the same task with the $279 LoadWarrior you would have to buy 2 of Yakima’s bike tray racks at another $100 – $180 each. Not only would this double the price of the setup but it would severely limit the cargo carrying capacity if the basket.

I would be more inclined to buy it if I had an SUV or a wagon. But, it does greatly increase the cargo capacity of a little car like mine so. . . maybe I am the ideal candidate for a Vagbond. To be honest, had I not been given this rack to test, it would never be on my radar. It is one of those luxuries you never knew you wanted, and once you have it, you don’t know how you’d go anywhere without it. My dad just bought a Subaru wagon and is jonesing for this rack. I’m going to mount it on his car and drive over the other half of God’s green acres. I can’t wait to borrow pop’s car again, just like 20 years ago in high school.


Ease of installation
Ability to carry 2 bikes plus cargo
Well constructed
Ability to fit nearly any crossbar configuration


Lack of security

MSRP $295

Kuat Vagabond

FTC Disclaimer

You Are What You Drink

I’ve heard it said, “You are what you eat.” I call B.S. I have been eating fast food for years and I have yet to get any faster. After brewing my daily pot of coffee this morning I have come to the realization You Are What You Drink. I like my coffee black, mornings, afternoon, strong and black. My wife on the other hand has a tremendous sweet tooth. I joke that she doesn’t add coconut creamer to her coffee but rather she adds coffee to her sweetened creamer. She is much sweeter than I. I like sugar too — sugar that has been cooked down, fermented, distilled, and aged into rum. Given my bitter disposition it should be no surprise that I drink a fair about of beer; bitter IPAs most regularly. I am imbibing as I type this. My beverage stays chilled thanks to my favorite coozie (maybe 2nd fave, these are awesome). Sadly, my glorious G-men failed to make the playoffs this year. You are what you drink? Call me a loser.

The Best I’ve Ever Ridden (Today)

My coworkers and I never back down on an opportunity to cram one another. Dinner is often the most ammo-laden battleground of the day. Good or bad (especially bad) shots will be fired. Such salvos that are heard are, “Of all the meals I’ve ever had, that was one of them,” and, “That was the best chicken I’ve tasted, today.”

While riding today I thought to myself, “This is the best bike I have ever ridden.” Then my thoughts turned to all of the bikes I have ridden. Over my life I have ridden an XC race hardtail and FS, an AM FS, a freeride FS, several incarnations of the latest DH design, 26″ SS, 29″ SS, and multiple BMX and road bikes. My previous favorite was my 1998 Santa Cruz Heckler.

This was the first bike I built component by component, from frame to cable ferrules and spoke nipples. I picked what suited me best at the time. The gear ratios, lengths, heights, component levels and brands were all of MY choosing. I loved that bike. Yes, there was a fair bit of sentimental value to it. But also, it was my do everything bike. I was able to hop on my Heckler no matter the trail or time of year. I rode it like an XC bike, DH bike, AM bike, and even the occasional beer run. It didn’t excel at those specific disciplines but it did exactly what I wanted it to do. Point, pedal, go; predictably.

Today’s ride wasn’t particularly special in any way. I wasn’t faster, I didn’t ride farther, the trail wasn’t some epic locale. I was out having fun, riding, not thinking about the bike. Again my bike did what it was tasked to do. Just like my old Heckler, my current bike was built up component by component (except the wheels, they were a compromise soon to be replaced). As with all things, changes occur. My riding style is different now. Technology is different now. But like my old bike, I can hop on my current bike no matter the trail, no matter the distance and become one. As I was riding my CrMo Rocky Mountain I thought, “This is the best bike I have ever ridden, today.”

9/11 Years Later

There are few seminal moments in one’s life where you know exactly where you were, when it was, and how it changed you. If you are my age then you’ve probably heard from your parents that they remember the moment President Kennedy was shot. Prior to 9/11 my moment was January 28, 1986 with the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. All changed 11 years ago.

At that time my wife was still working. I happened to be off that day. I awoke with her at 5:oo am, kissed her goodbye at 5:30, continued to listen to the clock-radio, then heard it live as the first plane struck at 5:46 PST. We had just moved into our house 2 weeks prior. Our t.v. was not yet hooked up. As the horrendous events of that morning that unfolded I quickly ran to Rite-Aid and bought a set of “rabbit ears” antenna. I came home just in time to watch the static filled images of the towers fall. Like many that day I was glued to my t.v. while also listening to the radio. Also like many, the attacks were my impetus to do something.

In October I sat in a fire department informational class. By December I was in a fire academy and by February I was a volunteer firefighter at my local station. The following year I would quit my job at the bike shop to work for an ambulance company. My friend the Street Dr. would join the military. Not too long thereafter I would get hired as a full-time fireman.

Now it is 11 years later and I am here at the firehouse, my brother-in-law is in Afghanistan, and we think back to how we got here. I am not telling you how to honor the over 3,000 that died that day, or the over 5,000 that have died since, or how to remember this day; I’m just saying that you should.

Celebrate Bacon


Today Is International Bacon Day. No, not that Bacon. I know I don’t need to tell you to enjoy bacon; you were going to do that anyway. Recite all the cliches you’ve heard before because they are all true. Bacon is meat candy. Bacon is gifted from God. Bacon makes everything better. . . etc. The only thing more perfect would be a bike made of bacon. But then I’d never ride. I would have half of it eaten before getting to the trailhead. Yes, I have made just about every incarnation of bacon and they are all great. Bacon explosion,  bacon Jack Daniels, bacon cookies, bacon wrapped everything, the list is infinite. I am not going to bother with suggesting bacon recipes. Want a recipe? Add Bacon! That’s it. Don’t like bacon? Then we are not friends as I could never trust anyone who doesn’t eat/like bacon. Even my ultra hippie-lefty-vegan friend says the hardest thing about eating vegan is the absence of bacon. After nearly a decade it is the one exclusion he misses most. ENJOY BACON TODAY! And enjoy bacon tomorrow too.


Larger image here. Hang around a while, The Oatmeal speaks the truth.