Thursday, October 11, 2012

Press Release -- Team XXL Responds to the USADA Report on Lance Armstrong

In light of the recent U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Report on Lance Armstrong, today, Team XXL accepts full responsibility for drinking and having too much fun in the past, present, and future cycling events. Many of us have been sober since last night. "We hope that our admission will help make people drink bikes and ride beers even more,” wrote one Team member. "What people don’t realize—what I didn’t realize until after I was already on the team—was that drinking was organized and everywhere on Team XXL. Drinking wasn’t the exception, it was the norm. And it's freakin' awesome!"

“Beer or tequila, in our mind the choice was “do it or go home,” wrote another Team member. “For me that was not a choice. Team XXL was something I worked very little for I was not willing to throw that all away."

"Our admission is part of a bigger plan that would make positive changes. Thanks to micro-brews and a shift in the culture of the sport, the Wakefield parking lot has been way fun for a number of years. The new generation of riders is not faced with the bland tasteless beers we were years ago. And, by taking responsibility for making team coozies, our generation will also make sure that luke warm PLBs are a thing of the past."

"We have also made great strides in our testing program. Team XXL was recently rated 100% fully kickass by the U. S. Department of Wicked Sh-t (USDWS) and we are very proud of that."

"To our friends, family, and fans: we deeply regret nothing and refuse to apologize to anyone."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

XXL Does Davis

XXL needs a "Debbie" on our roster for better blog titles.  Anywho, the team had another amazing fall weekend of riding.  Just when we thought nothing could top the sweet riding at Rattling Creek, along comes the MORE annual camping trip, this year in Davis, West Virginia. 

Gotta love fall

We all filtered in Friday evening, set up camp, met some Sasquatch hunters, and then set off for dinner at a local favorite, Blackwater Brewing, known for their Jager Schnitzel.  After dinner, a few pitchers of stout, and a good-old-fashioned "Dumb and Dumber" quote-fest, it was back to our weekend home, Blackwater Falls State Park, to enjoy a campfire in crisp fall weather.  Team XXL was assigned the two campsites closest to the ranger station.  Ordinarily this would prove to be the worst decision ever, but lucky for us it was the sMOREs (the little ones) that got the first noise complaint, distracting the ever-watchful authorities.  But team XXL was unusually mellow Friday evening, filled with anticipation about the big Saturday ride.

Two of our Niners, resting up for the big ride -- or are they mating?

Rumors about the "difficult" Saturday ride began to swirl around the campground.  The ride, originally advertised as 4-6 hours of challenging terrain for experienced cyclists, was now expected to be an 8-10 hour sufferfest on impossibly challenging terrain and the ride leader, former pro coming off a win at this year's SM100, Sue Haywood, would lead us to certain death and dismemberment.  Be afraid!

But Saturday morning came and XXL was not going to turn down a challenge, especially if the Honey Badger was coming with us.  Sue and another local, Todd, patiently and generously led a most fantastic ride through some of the sweetest, rockiest, winding singletrack one can imagine.  We hit Son of Plantation, Plantation, Firelane, Forbidden Forest, Mossyback, Mini Moab, Spruce Forest, Hellbender, Splash Dam...which included beautiful forests, open exposed rocky surfaces, sweeping views, fast downhills, lovely streams, and oh yes, did I mention rocks?  The ride ended up being a bit longer than anticipated due to a 1 hour mechancial delay and a group-split in the later half of the ride, but overall an incredible day.  Our team photographer spent Saturday leading the sMOREs ride, so the images of the ride will live only in our minds.

Our photographer's sMORE, next generation XXL

Saturday night was the MORE pot luck dinner and contest, with one XXL dish (Texas Caviar) getting a nomination.  With the toughest ride behind us, and Joel's birthday due at midnight, the Saturday campfire festivities were a little more lively.  This weekend's "Mayor of Drunkingham" award winner, a friend of the team, was tossed into his tent by his belt and greeted unhappily by his sleepy and sober tent-mate.  His XXL escorts, true friends that they are, could not have zipped that tent up fast enough before running away.

CVI Ride

The team split up on Sunday.  One group went off to do a downhill ride at nearby Timberline.  The rest of us hit the CVI trails right next to town.  Not nearly as challenging as the day before but still technical, diverse, and fun.  These trails included the famed "Moon Rocks" which live up to their name and reputation; definitely a worthy destination.

Ernie on the Moon Rocks

Thoroughly whooped, we headed back into town for the famed burritos at Hellbender...fabulous!...then it was time to head home.  Thank you Davis...until we meet again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keeping the Bash Alive

The annual Rattling Creek Bash -- our season closer to celebrate another great summer of racing, and the weekend that reminds us that there is nothing better than a weekend of bikes and beers in the woods with your pals. 

Camp XXL

As avid proponents of the three+ day weekend, XXL started arriving on Thursday to claim our annual camp site and get a Friday ride in.  Friday turned out to be eventful, as one of our teammates took a nasty spill.  Says Joel: "I landed on a pointed rock that gave me a rather severe, deep bruise to the thigh.  I got lightheaded, threw up, and had to lie down for a while before walking out to the road."  For those of you wondering, this describes a ride (not campfire) injury, although it is a reasonable question and we should note that we cannot confirm the contents of our teammate's Camelbak.  We're happy to report that Joel came back strong and rode both remaining days.

Friday night the rest of the cavalry arrived and the festivities began.  XXL has mastered the art of deluxe car camping.  After all, what campfire is complete without a generator, light strands, and ipod tune-age.  After a bottle of birthday bourbon made it's way a couple of times around the campfire and some of us made friends with our neighbors who possessed a "shot ski," the deep cuts on the ipod came out...and, as one would expect, dancing, congo lines, Honey Badger massages, and sweat-pants flagging were quick to follow.  (Note to ipod owner -- while it was a nice attempt blaming your spouse for the presence of Barry Manilow mp3s, we know they're all you!)  One teammate had us all concerned as he biked in circles around the campfire, each time seeming puzzled by the log pile in his way. None of us are certain but we suspect he licked windows as a child.

Shot Ski

Saturday morning we were greeted with a shining sun, chirping birds, and, thanks to one XXLer who didn't think folks were getting up fast enough, the gentle hum of a chain saw.  After delicious breakfast burritos and several trips on the "shittle," a single speed brought for trips to the rest rooms, we were off!

XXL headin' out

A beautiful day was spent on the trails in Weiser State Forest and the Lykens Watershed, maintained by the Rattling Creek SingleTrackers.  These trails are truly first rate.  Diverse and challenging but fast and rideable...sweet rocky ridge riding for miles and miles.

Some of us bailed out early just shy of 20 miles, others continued for the full 26.  Either way, we were ready for sustenance and more shenanigans.  Those sitting around the campfire were treated to Brett's chainsaw whittling demonstration, where Wilson was created.


Chainsaw activity and singed eye brows were enough to encourage most of us to head up to the pavilion, where we were treated to some live music.  Sums up one camper: "After this weekend, my [live music] standards have changed.  The campground band should:
1. Only play Grateful Dead with some Neil Young and originals thrown in
2. Have a keg of Octoberfest right next to them
3. Have their own groupies
4. Have a shot ski and a big bottle of Jagermeister (with handy spout)
5. Have a puppy

Sunday brought yet another beautiful day.  After blueberry pancakes, Jason led us to Swatara State Park for a change of scenery.  The trails are maintained by the Susquehanna Area Mountain Bike Association (SAMBA), and kudos to them for fast swoopy trails with some fun TTFs.  Worth a trip if you're in the area.

A fantastic weekend.  Here's hoping the Bash gets picked back up next year.  This is an event not to be missed!

JV Mountain Biking, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SM100 Take Deux

A belated congratulations to Simona for finishing her second SM100 this past Labor Day weekend in extraordinarily difficult conditions.

"It was a tough race.  We all know I'm a fine weather rider [that's Czech for fair-weather] and this rain and mud just wasn't my cup of tea."

Adds Vincenciova, "First 30 miles were hard, I couldn't get my legs going. I was being passed left and right and the rain didn't help.  The rest is just a muddy blur.  By the time I got to aid station #6 my bike wasn't happy, I wasn't happy [Gasp!  Did Brenda drop an audible f-bomb at AS6?!?] and if I was a quitter I would have quit but I'm not."

Amen, sister!!!  Your perseverance makes us very proud indeed!

Pint glass in hand.  Hooray!

XXL is hoping that the weather gods got the rain out of their system for next year's SM100.  Rumor has it there will be a big team showing for a special milestone birthday celebration.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What the Fork?? XXL in WV

LollaPellerinOoza in Wild Wonderful West Virginia!! 

XXL and friends met up at Camp Pellerin on Friday evening where beers and bourbon were flowing and a fine meal was to be had.  We all hung out on the porch enjoying the company and the crisp cool mountain air.  To ensure that Saturday morning's wake-up was extra special, Simona passed out Mojitos.  Friday evening highlights - trip mascots Bert & Ernie, a belligerent and somewhat incoherent toast attempt, and who could forget Honey B's attempt to "right" the cabin screen door by smashing into it from the opposite side.

12-week old Ernie Pellerin.  It's tiring being the life of the party!!
Sat morning greeted us all a bit too early but the call of the North Fork and Mike's pancakes could not be resisted.  For those that did not immediately rise to the smell of coffee and pancakes, Dave's performance of Reveille on his trumpet outside a certain bedroom window woke up every living (and perhaps dead) thing within a ten mile radius.  After much unresolved debate about snoring sources, with our bellies full and heads ringing, we piled into the cars and drove to the trail head to meet up with more XXL friends.

Headin' out!

The weather was cool but not too cold and the sun was trying to break through the early morning mist as we put wheels down.  The ride got off to a slow start as a half mile in we experienced the first mechanical -- HB's rear derailleur.  Joel had to break the chain, put the derailleur on a rock, and pound on the hex wrench with another rock in order to remove the bolt attaching the derailleur to the broken-off piece of the hanger.  "Fun stuff playing caveman by trailside," said wrench Kennet, though we suspect he was a natural.  The trail was quite littered with branches, twigs and even downed trees.  The twigs and branches proved to be too much, at least for Joel's rear derailleur, which was toast at mile four.  He ended up having to limp back to the car, done for the it seemed.

Rear derailleur victims - Mr & Mrs Honey Badger
The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful aside from the 6'-7' black snake on the trails edge which Simona wasn't too thrilled about.  Fortunately most of us didn't see it and, as always, ignorance is bliss.

No snakes!!!

A few nasty hike-a-bikes, but overall the North Fork is spectacular ridge riding with awesome views.  We reached the start of the final descent and low and behold there was Joel at one of the overlooks waiting for us.  He went into Davis, got a new RD, got his bike working and rode pretty much all the way up that hairy-arse climb from the bottom to meet up with us.  Cold beer and shuttle vehicles awaited our arrival.

Stick a North Fork in me!!! 
When the chill set in we got in our smelly cars and headed back to the PellerinOoza for burgers on the grill and a much more subdued evening.
Sunday morning brought the expectation of another ride -- a Spruce Knob loop.  Sadly it started to rain and as we all headed down the drive leaving the cabin the rain only became more intense.  By the time we reached the gate, any riding had been cancelled and all were heading home. 

Overall, a great weekend, great company and great ride on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Ho-hum.  Brenda tops the podium again.  It's kind of annoying but we love her anyway.  What is her secret?  Is it her VO2 max?  Strength-to-weight ratio?  Her cycling skirt?  Her mysterious and unabashed preference for Bud Light Lime?  1st Place, Sport Female, EX2 Cranky Monkey Series Race #1, Schaeffer Farms, MD, defeating a deep field of 18 women.  You go, girl!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good Times at the Gap

Wolf Gap was a ton of fun.

The first part of the ride was an easy 3 miles on a gravel road, which  was followed by a steeper 2 miles on blacktop, which took us to the WV border and the Wolf Gap campground.

This led us to the Mill Mountain Trail and the dirt portion of the ride, which started with just under a mile of super steep hike-a-bike.  I am pretty sure that no one liked me at that point, because I didn't like myself. Sweat was flowing off me like there was faucet turned on. Thankfully, that turned out the be hardest uphill of the day.

Jason is a jerk.
After taking a small break, we hit the ridgeline. Very good stuff. Lots of rocks, technical, and reminded me some of the North Fork WV trail. Definitely some challenging riding.

Nice form, Mike P
After a mile, we took a side trip to see Big Schloss. It's a very cool rock feature on top of the ridge. The majority of us left our bikes behind, but Matt and Ron brought that up for the ride back down. The view from the top was awesome. There was a 360 degree view into VA and WV. Joel and Ernie used this opportunity to properly rehydrate Ten Fidy style. It was very crowded up there with hikers, which surprised me. I think that we might have just been unlucky and hit some sort of critical mass. The hike back down had some sketchy sections, but Matt and Ron rode it all in style. The pictures of Matt and Ron make it look a lot flatter than it was. Very impressed.

Fueling up
We continued for another mile on the Mill Mountain Trail, which continued to be rocky, technical, and exposed. There was multiple "WHOA!!"s exclaimed as you came upon a rock hiding is some tall grass. We hit the intersection for the Big Schloss cut off trail, but continued on the Mill Mountain Trail. The character of the trail changed and became slightly less technical and was under the cover of trees. This was a fun section. A little more flow, but you had to be on your guard for a tight turn or technical, rocky section. Was definitely a highlight of Mill Mountain.

Eventually the trail turned upwards again and turned into another hike-a-bike. Thankfully, it was not as much of a grunt as the first one. We crested the top and there was some momentary indecision on which way to go. Matt and Larry were able to use their GPS to figure out where we were.

We turned onto the Tuscora Trail and a made a short descent to the Little Stoney Run Trail and the start of the real downhill. We had heard it said that this downhill was a waste of gravity.  It was a great downhill. Narrow, rocky bench cut single track for 3.5 miles. A couple of hard moves that were all doable, but required you take a deep breath. I am done having kids, which is good because I racked myself pretty good on one of them. Larry, Matt, and Ron were gone on the downhill. The rest of us would regroup, which did not take away from the trail at all. Mike, Steve, and I were in a line on the downhill and we all launched off a log into a rock garden. All rides need a good 'Oh Sh!t" moment and that was it. Mike might of had another when he somehow managed to make an abrupt and unplanned high speed 90 degree turn into the woods.

Oh $h-t moment
The downhill finished exactly where we parked the cars. Perfect. A couple of beers and we headed back. No mechanicals, no injuries. Awesome. There are lots of trails out there and we could find a big ride that would allow us to shuttle. We will have to figure it out.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

XXL Across the Pond

Brad W. proudly dons the XXL jersey after a big win in London.  It's not the W@W, but we're still proud.  1st Place, Men's 44km time-trial, XXX Olympic Games.  Brad averaged 32+mph.  Way to go Wiggo!!!!

Captain Steve joined Brad for the after-party, where Brad seriously underperformed XXLs typical standards.  We've invited Brad to train with us at Rattling Creek this year to improve his post-ride activity skills. "Blind drunk" after a couple vodka tonics?  Come on Wiggo, we've got a reputation to uphold.

As a result of Brad's winning performance at one of the lesser known Cranky Monkey races this year, the Tour de France, XXL management is willing to overlook the after-party embarrassment.

Monday, July 30, 2012

XXLer's W@W Debut

Team XXL is proud to report that our newest teammate, Corinne, had an outstanding debut at this year's Wednesdays @ Wakefield series, hosted by PVC.  Corinne represented Team XXL in the Sport Women category for all four races, capturing 5th place for the series and even snagged a podium in race 4.  Congratulations!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Mud, the Blood, and the Beer

Steve and Jason braved the elements to represent Team XXL last Saturday at the 9th annual Liberty Jamboree in Columbia, MD. The Liberty Jamboree is a grass roots, single-speed-only stage race and fund raiser hosted by Jim Casey and his in-laws.  An amazing, fun, epic day -- XXL will be back for the 10th anniversary!

The prized yellow jersey, which has not been washed in 9 years.

Jason and friends.  Overall winner, Joel, on right.

Steve, despite his initial concerns, did not catch "chest herpes" from the yellow jersey.

Monday, July 16, 2012

XXL Battles Burke Farm

Team XXL had a big day on Saturday at the Battle at Burke Farm race hosted by FredEvents.  Nevermind how much Advil was required upon waking up race day morning, these brave racers persevered through blistering heat and oppressive humidity.  The promise of beer, bbq, and pool (well, pool for Brenda, pond for everyone else) at Extra G's coaxed everyone to the finish line.  Congratulations racers!

Brenda, clearly not working hard enough. 1st place, Sport Female.

Joel, showing some grit. 3rd place, Clydesdale


Mike P. 4th place, Sport Male 45+

Honey Badger, 3rd place, Sport Female

Steveo, 5th place, Sport Male 35+

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brenda Rocks Quantico

Once again, Simona (aka Brenda) carries Team XXL to the podium.  First place, Duo Co-Ed, at 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey in Quantico, VA.  Congratulations!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Big Bear 2x12, XXL Style

Getting a bit of a late start, Joel & I met up in Hagerstown around noon on Friday.  We hit the Walmart for provisions and loaded my gear into Joel's "Smellement" for the haul out to WV.  Arrived at Big Bear around 3:30pm or so, and found an awesome campsite just off the airstrip in the woods.  We quickly set up camp then our plans to pre-ride the course slowly dissolved as more and more beverage varieties emerged from our coolers.  Joel came up with the term "punctuate" to describe the action of drinking a cup of water every 3 beers or so, and, being good race-boys, we made sure to punctuate.  I don't remember how many times though.  At some point we got off our asses and took a walk to visit some other campsites.  One in particular had Christmas lights and a huge fire, so we went there like a couple of moths.  We found the race promoter there, drinking moonshine and having a good time in general.  We run in to a guy there who immediately deemed himself “3 sheets to the wind” and started chatting it up with us while alternating sips from one of those large jugs you’d get at a gas station which was full of Mtn Dew and a water bottle full of Jack Daniels, ummmmm yeeeeah.  I ask about the course, if he's racing this weekend and where it heads into the woods after the start.  He immediately responds with I'm not racing, just here to hang out and drink, pulls out a pen from his pocket and points over toward the start/finish tent and blasts it with a bright green “laser” stating it's somewhere around there.  While fumbling around to put the “laser” away, he accidentally blasts me in the left eye…”that’s gonna leave a mark”.  A little more conversation with the promoter and then we decide to call it a night and head back to camp.

Joel, captured by impaired photographer.

 Saturday:  Race day!  Knowing that the first one to finish is the first one to the beer, I volunteered for that duty.  The start was a sprint up from the bottom of the gravel entrance road, then a turn through the start/finish tent and into the woods to ride the yellow loop. We were greeted instantly by a fairly serious, but very rideable rock garden, followed by a downhill and then basically a slow climb to the piney section, which is on a plateau and very pleasant - a good place to grab a drink and some shot blocks. Then on to a gradual downhill, with some ups and downs, and then THE big downhill.  According to some regulars, they've cleared a lot of the loose rock that used to cover this section, but there was still a good bit of it if you were unlucky enough to lose your line.  A few twists and turns added to the excitement.  Anyway, it was a blast, and I couldn't help but think Joel will really enjoy this on his Jet.  There were terraced drops that invited a full susser to catch big air, but I decided it would be best to keep it down on the hard tail and concentrated on keeping it upright.  After that, there's a long, slow climb that goes on for like 5 miles, both on jeep road and single track, with the occasional steep section, and then a flat section out to the finish.  The finish involved riding over an iron pedestrian bridge, then making a quick counterclockwise circle before entering the transition point.  Very fun ride, but definitely not the easiest 12 miles.  I clocked in at about an 1:40 minutes.

Chris finishing Lap 1

Joel went off for his lap and I headed back to the campsite, restocked my water and electrolytes, and cooked up an espresso(would regret this last move soon enough)  I went back to the transition after a while, and Joel rolled in sooner than expected, somewhere around an hour and 30.  Off to lap 2.  I was buzzing along for this one, getting up to the piney section in good time, and used the smooth terrain to take in water and food.  The mile or so to the big downhill went quickly as well.  Then on the downhill things went to sh*t.  I felt a twinge in my lower back about half way down then towards the bottom a muscle spasm developed and I had to limp out of there to the water station about half a mile away.  There I took in some more water, laid down and was able to stretch and finally release the spasm.  I got back on the bike, took it easy for the rest of the lap now fighting off leg cramps and finished at 1:52. Not a great time at all, but the taps were just being turned on when I rolled in.  Joel went off and that was it.  Hot showers awaited.  The stalls were clean, and the water pressure was nice.  By the time Joel got back about 1.33 later, I was a happy camper, with clean clothes and a fresh beer from one of the 11 taps on hand.  Joel took his turn in the showers, and we hit the party. 

Sweet singletrack

Great food was being cooked up and served: Greek chicken wraps, pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, macaroni salad, and a nice fruit salad were among the offerings.  Then there were the 11 taps, and then the first band came on.  They played a little while, and then the awards were handed out.  The fastest lap was something like 62 minutes.  Holy B Jeezes.  In our age group, the winners turned in crazy good times, but I think they fell off after the top team.  We missed 3rd place by about 28 minutes, and the 5th place team was a fair bit behind us as well.  I couldn't help but think that if I hadn't cramped up, we could have been up there getting our handmade Big Bear beer steins.  Oh well, there's always next year. The party got going after that, and some time in the evening the second band, the Speakeasy Boys, came on.  They were even better than the first band!  Joel was out there dancing in place with a beer sloshing in his hand and a sh*t-eating grin on his face (see photos).  Good times.  At the end of the night, we talked with the fiddle player, who turned out to be a Carruthers - one of my clan!  Rob was a very cool guy - he played us a few tunes just for kicks while we sat around at the end of the night.  When it was all said and done, we were the last bikers standing.  The only remaining people were a few locals, who had arrived as the evening wore on in their jacked up golf carts with big off road tires and they gradually took over for all the wussy bikers who couldn't stay up and drink.  Team XXL should be proud of our representation.

Perfect weekend.  To become annual XXL event.

XXL @ The Races

A long overdue report of some XXL racing adventures...we've been too busy riding!

In April, XXL was the life of the party in Leesburg, fielding 3 three-man teams at the sixth annual Bakers Dozen. 

In May, Simona graced the podium at 9-Hours of Cranky Monkey, placing 3rd in the Solo Female category.

That same weekend, Mike P. placed an impressive 2nd at 12 Hours of Lodi Farm in the Solo Male Masters category.  Another XXL podium.  Congrats!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rattling Creek Field Trip

Weekend Cliff Notes

On bike activity:
Miles ridden: 32.7
OTB crashes: 4 (that I counted)
Blood draw: 3 cases
Bike related equipment failure: 0

Off bike activity:
Fights: 0
Beer drank: 3 cases
Alcohol consumed: 1 bottle of Mr Evans
Private parts viewed and/or shown : 1
Gourmet meals cooked : 2
Non bike related equip. failure: 3
Feelings hurt: many
Drunk dials: 3 (see GG you were not alone)

Rider of the weekend...........Honey Badger

All in all I give the weekend 87.9 GNAR points

The Crew

A helmet with an air bag

Brett airing it out

The best kind of trail feature

XXL *heart* rocks

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Team XXL in Training

So I commuted in today, and I am on the Mt Vernon trail and I hear a bell behind me............

It is this dude in his late 50's/early 60's passes me MOVING on a hybrid bike.

Feeling that I must save my honor (what little I have left) I muster up the strength and punch it to catch him.

In my haste to catch him I do not realize his cadence, until I actually catch him. It is like 10 rpms!

Then comes one of the sweeping/rolling hills on the Vernon trail and I say"now I got him" so I jump out of my seat confident in victory...........and he still does not slow down! My god this man is a robot!

Then I realize he is on one of these electric assisted bikes! Basically a electric moped!

My honor saved (I think) I dropped off and finished my leisurely commute to work.

Editor's note: XXL is now investigating the viability of motorized bicycles for off-road training and racing.  Would a case of PBR fit on this rack? 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Snotcycle? Mudcycle!

The Team XXL 2012 season is officially underway.

XXL led the way in first place for the first half a lap and then realized it was not a drinking contest and fell back to 7th.

Steve 7th & Mike 13th out of 41 starters in Cat 2 Male 40+.  Not too shabby.

Oops I forgot to train.


True grit: "I'm smiling but wanting to throw up."

Thanks Gary Ryan for the pics!