Your source for Mountain Biking in the Triangle
Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill

pas·sion Pronunciation Key (pashen)
n. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.

This page can be considered the creative, "rainy day" page of this web site. It's a place for you to express your love of mountain biking, your bike, and your biking companions with those who share your passion.

Cycling Cartoons
Stories and Tall Tales
Just for Laughs
Writings on Riding
Monthly articles from around the Triangle
Why ride a single speed mountain bike?

Tim Muth's "Down in the dirt.


How to submit your stuff
To submit your very own story, photo, poem, top ten list, cartoon, or other creative piece, just send it to [email protected] with "passion page" in the subject line of the email. Remember, I can't post copywritten material without copyright permission, so please only submit original work, and let me know if you want your name posted with your work. If you're sending photos, please make them smaller-sized GIF files (3x3 inches or so) and 72dpi resolution if possible, so they're not too big to post. Also, give me at least a few days to post it to the site. Content will stay on the site for an indefinite time. First in, first out kind of thing. Thanks!

Stories and Tall Tales

Why my XT cranks suck by Goldfish
Last September, I began having problems with my Truvativ cranks that came on the 06 Stumpjumper FSR Comp. Little did I know that the problems were just starting�

Once I got the new XT cranks (and cassette w/ SRAM 991 solid-pin chain) on, then I rebuilt my XTR 952 derailleur only to find out that it is worthless and that I really need to upgrade to a Shadow or SRAM.

After the drivetrain was installed and adjusted, I also decided to overhaul the bike. This included cleaning, lubing, new pedals (540�s), new grips, new tires (WTB Wolverines), and even new Bontrager bottle cages.

Then I went for a ride.

I never thought that, as an avid amateur, you could really feel the difference in components. I had upgraded only as a precautionary measure to avoid mechanical failures and the associated frustration. Little did I know�

The XT cranks were so much smoother.

If this component feels so much better, then what would happen if other components got better? What would happen if the frame got better?

Now on the list of upgrades are wheels and shocks. Not just any shock. No, I must have shocks that are specifically calibrated to my weight and riding style (get PUSHed).

My wife and I are planning on buying a house in the near future. My son has some dental issues that are currently being fixed. I have to promise not to run any debt. However, as a valiant member of the National Mountain Bike Patrol, I qualify for some significant discounts. So it really isn�t that bad. Now I just need to get Kim to understand why we need to cash in her 401k.

Those damn XT cranks gave me upgraditus!


Come to the Dark Side
(A bit of prose on night riding, by John Gruener)

The Jedi. No, not the magical warriors of Star Wars fame. A mountain bike trail behind Chapel Hill High School. Its moniker is derivative from the fabled trilogy, though, and more directly from the trenches of the empire's Death Star. You remember when Luke and Wedge fly their X-wing fighters narrowly avoiding obstacles in their attempt to fire a pair of proton charges into the exhaust vent of the Death Star? A similar rush is experienced careening down this narrow track through the trees, varying in width from three feet to ever so slightly wider than your handlebar.

There is a unique energy, a tingle, that encompasses you and your friends as you straddle the top tube of your mountain bike on the brink of a night mountain bike ride. Even on the drive to the trail a sharp eye can notice puzzled looks from other drivers at the bikes on top of your car and your cycling dress—at nine o'clock at night in the dark. At the trailhead each rider is tooling around, testing her lights, checking his shifting, making last minute adjustments. There is a mystique to mountain biking, but a group of people ready to embark on a ride in the dark feels a little something extra. No one voices it, but each rider senses it: "We're going biking at night. That's just cool."

Regardless of one's choice of lighting system, the field of view is limited to at best ten feet to each side and twenty-five feet ahead. This boils down to a small glow of light in a big forest of darkness. Whether you choose a single light, dual light, handlebar mount, helmet mount, or some combination thereof, only determines how much detail is visible in the aforementioned field of view. You still can't see the tree you're headed straight for thirty feet ahead, but maybe you can see the small stump ten feet ahead, or maybe you can't.

Under the cover of night The Jedi engenders much truer imagery likening it to its namesake. I am often reminded of the old Star Wars video game with its black and white graphics. You're always looking at the very front edge of where your light reaches, the trail unraveling before your eyes. There are only moments to glimpse the obstacle you'll encounter in about a second and to contemplate your line. Trees whiz past you on either side in a blur. The tree canopy is only a few feet above and you can't but feel like you're falling through a tunnel, walled in on every side by trees. But at fifteen or twenty miles an hour with your narrow beam of light there isn't much color, just lots of lines passing through your vision faster than you can associate them with shapes. It's a psychedelic, almost mesmerizing or hypnotic barrage of information. Ironically, night riding can be less scary than riding in the day as you likely won't realize how much danger you just narrowly avoided. All you know is the small sphere of light that surrounds you and the other riders as you whoop and holler bombing through trees, leaning this way and that to avoid parking your bike on a tree that encroaches the narrow trail that is called The Jedi. You may have ridden it during the day, but you haven't lived it until you ride it at night. There's a whole new world that you can't see. So grab your lights or borrow a friend's. Go live The Jedi.

Saw a couple of girls on the trail today
By Tim Broyer

Got laid off from work the other day. One of life’s curve balls just hit me square on the chin. Not having much to do besides look for a job, I have been riding almost every day. I ride the Harris Lake trails in New Hill, NC a lot because they are decent single track and are close to the house. The price of gas is now very apparent to me.

It was a pretty cold day for North Carolina, hovering around 40 degrees. I brought my new single speed mountain bike that I had bought while still employed. I swapped out the brakes that were on it with a nicer set from my old mountain bike. This ride was going to be fun, but it was also planned to be a tune-up ride for my newly installed brakes. The park was virtually empty, besides a prison gang spreading mulch around the picnic areas. I jumped on the trail and relished the cool, crisp air as I rode. I was probably the only person in the park who didn’t work there. I surmised that I had the whole trail to myself.

My rides as of late have been very therapeutic. It’s not easy losing your job and can be down right depressing. Riding has kept me busy. It has given me time alone to think and also given me time alone not to think! I look forward to each ride as a chance to go out and truly be myself. Just Tim, cruising down the trail, jumping logs and climbing hills.

On this day’s ride, I wasn’t doing too much thinking. I was pushing it a little hard, something I like to do when it is cold. Helps me to stay warm. I rode alone, fast and with little trepidation. Harris Lake trails border its namesake. Parts of the track are right along the water edge. It is some of the prettiest trail around the triangle. I have ridden it probably fifty times and always seem to find something to appreciate. Today would be no exception.

About 10 minutes into my ride, I stopped to adjust my rear brake. I jumped off my bike and ditched my camelback to retrieve my multi-tool. It was going to be a quick adjustment on the rear brake and I would quickly be rolling again. I heard something move in the brush just in front of me. I looked up, and to my surprise, saw two female deer standing there looking at me. I was probably 8-10 feet from them. They looked at me, and I looked at them. They didn’t run, which is what I thought they would do. Most deer bolt at the sight of a human. But not these two girls, they stood and stared at me. One of them resumed eating some wild grass that grows by the edge of the lake. It was an awesome sight. They are very beautiful, gentile animals. Inside, I was screaming how cool this encounter is. On the outside, I was frozen. I didn’t want to disturb them. This was their home; I was just passing through. I gingerly picked up my things and walked down the trail another 10-15 yards. There, I finished adjusting my brakes all the while the two does ate grass and looked at me. I wondered what they thought of me, clad in spandex and a helmet, tinkering on my steel contraption. I guess they had probably seen my type before. They eventually crossed the trail and slowly headed away from me.

With a huge grin on my face, I resumed my ride. I felt lucky to have shared their home for a few brief moments and look forward to seeing them on the trail again. They sure were a nice couple of girls and I was glad to have met them. Never know who or what you are going to see while riding. It is one of the many reasons why I love to ride a bike. Things don’t look so depressing now.

Just for Laughs

10 ways to tell if you have a biking problem
(by Kristine)

1. Your bike is worth more than your car.
2. You can predict your bike's moods better than your spouse's.
3. You schedule business meetings based on the weather forecast.
4. You can easily change clothes in your car.
5. You measure your daily water intake in camelbacks.
6. Your only bathroom reading material is bike magazines.
7. Your friends don't understand why you can't find time to clean house, work in the yard, or buy groceries on sunny weekends.
8. The guys at the bike shop know more about what's going on in your life than your mother does.
9. Your dog has chain grease on him.
10. You don't have a problem with buying beer in tights and clipless shoes.

Cycling Cartoons by Robin
Here are a some cycling cartoons that Robin recently submitted.