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Thursday, January 20

I've been picking scabs again

Last week, I posted a blerhg about my anally-compulsing over the minutia of setting up the Epic EVO in a manner that fit my particular riding style (or lack thereof).  I got two comments.  I published one.  The other I did not.

Basically I was told I was "filling a void" and needed to get Jesus (in 153 words or less but actually 153 words exactly).

*sigh*

At the age of fifty two and a half, I find myself taking less pleasure in taking a piss outta things that give others comfort and joy.  Sure, I still think that road bikes should have drooper posts, fat bikes make sense if you live somewhere that snow occasionally makes a normal bike pointless, and cyclocross races should not allow pit bikes but should allow handups.  

I'm not going to be the one to tell someone to not have Jesus in their lives.  I'm also not going to tell a vegan to eat a hamburger, yell at a roadie to put some pants on, or insist that someone read a book* or something before voting in an election or making important health decisions.

You do you.  I do me.

I take great joy in tweaking my bikes (obvs) to extract the largest amount of exhilaration out of their existence in my life. I'm also immersed in self-serving rapture with my ability to unload a dishwasher in the most time-efficient of manners, and I'm wholly filled with heart-warming gratification when I stand back and look at yet another well-organized closet.

I do things half-ass or full ass or no ass at all.  95% ass is too close to full ass and not close enough to half ass to take my foot off the ass gas.

As former bike messenger Kevin once pointed out, I enjoy fucking with shit.

The weather only cooperated for one day over the wintry-mix, shitted-on weekend so I could only get in one ride with the new stem part.  I finally started feeling like this bike could be a pea to my carrot.

Shorter stem, wider bar (as wide as my other two mountain bikes), and now I'm feeling at home.  Although I'd set plenty of local PRs without trying on this bike when I first got it, I no longer feel like my nose is gonna be abraded by the front tire when descending.  I'm so comfortable on the bike that I was even floating the idea of taking it to the Moab Rocks stage race in April... thus confusing the matter all the more, being that I was already struggling with the idea of mebbe doing a stage race with a suspension (front) fork equipped SS.  I don't plan on being what one would call "in shape" by April, and the 50+ class is loaded with what I would call "talent," so why not?

FWIW: Now that the bike is really feeling like a keeper, I decided I was going to finally pull the trigger on a different rear shock and...

Sold out.  Of course I'd been looking at it since I got the bike back in July, and it was in stock right up until last week.  

Poop.

Speaking of the shite weather**...

I ended my streak of days of bike rides in a row... at some number... because I wasn't counting, but I can't remember the last day I didn't ride a bike.  It's been weeks and months and who knows?  I skipped out on Sunday's freezing rain and 25mph winds but forced myself out on a Sad Dad™ in the slush and melt and typical NC "winter" joy.

Also...

Yeth, pants.  Ignore the Port-a-Jon in my front yard, although I'm now claiming we have one and a half baths.

I don't like pants in general.  They're just sleeves for your legs, kinda stupid.  That said, when I got my HandUp AT+ Shorts, I couldn't help but notice that not only were they a little beefier than their standard short, they were warmer.  It was cold enough the other night to leave the house in my "work" jeans ("work" meaning gutters, poison ivy heavy trail maintenance... dunno), and I could feel the cold air coming right through the leg sleeves  What's the point?

So I got some AT+ Pants to up my game, and dare I say just in time.  They are warm, stretchy, form-fitting, and the legs are tapered so I don't have to peg my leg sleeves like we did in the '80s.

Yeth, we did that.  No, it's not because we were riding bikes and tryna keep our leg sleeves out of the front sprocket.  We just did that.  Because... breakdancing?

Anyways, stoked to have a pair of pants for those times when leg sleeves seem favorable.  

I guess I'm old now.  I always thought old people wore pants.

* I'm using "read a book" in an all-encompassing manner meaning educate yourself somewhere other than social media.

** Continuing to speak about shite weather, this weekend looks as turd'esque as the last.  The odds that I might "race" Winter Shart Tarck will increase as the chances of the trails remaining in shambles continues.

Thursday, January 13

The final piece of the puzzle...

that I didn't know I needed to solve.

I've been struggling with the back and forth of embracing the new (to me) world of geometry for whatever my bikes are called today.  Down country?  Technical XC?  Trail bike?  Marketing babble speak dogfish?

It was the Specialized Epic EVO that I didn't know I wanted but bought just because I could that forced me to at least give it a try.  No more traditional 70°+ HTA or 72.5° STA (head pipe angle and seat pipe angle).  Now it's  66.5° and 74°+ and obviously a longer effective reach, front center, and all that jazz.  I feel like I'd always been slightly ahead of the game on the short stems tho, running 70mm when everyone else was stretching out on 90-110mm, and then dropping down to a stubby 50mm years ago.  

When I started talking to Tom at Vassago about getting a Radimus (because I was going full-in on long, low, slack... unggh), I think he mentioned something about me being on a small with a 30-35mm stem.  I ignored him... mostly because I had zero stems in that length and a plethora of 50mm stems.

When I want the stems, I take the stems.

So trying to be cheap while still trying to get the bike set up proper-like for me, I did what I had to do.

Which was a fine stop gap, but when my Oddity Lowrizer bars arrived... it was obvious that I'd solved half the problem... but it was also apparent I needed a shorter stem... and Industry Nine was/is still working on a 42 day wait time... so I just bought something that was in stock from a non-sponsor correct brand... because I had to know.

At that point, the Radimus became the funnest bike I currently own.

Not taking anything away from the Epic EVO, but it wasn't as "fun." anymore, relatively speaking.  With very similar geometry, a 140mm fork, and a CushCore-aided low pressure tire in the rear, the Vassago was just... happier.

*sigh*

*orders new stem for Epic EVO*

Now I'm going to monkey around with bar widths and rises and see what I can get outta the Epic performance-wise (for me)... and by "performance," I really mean joy.  I'm also going to stop staring at the pile of money bolted onto the plastic frame with so many moving parts thinking about how much fun it would be to mount all those bits up to a Vassago Optimus (I'd just need a headset)... and take the extra money from selling the frame/shifty bits and dumping it into an AXS group that I could easily swap on and off that bike... and mebbe a Boost ENVE turgid crabon fork (or Whisky cuz they all got warts now) too... because?

Burrito, obvs.

Since you can't buy the non-S Works version of the Epic EVO frame (without components), someone would want it... and yeth, owning three titanium single speeds would be dumb, but...  I think.  Mebbe?

I was recently reminded that now is not the time to make rash bike consumer decisions (it hasn't been for almost two years tho).  The bike may represent a virtual pile of money, but once converted into actual greenstuffs, turning that pile back into a bike may not be so easy.

I chatted with Tom, and asked him about all this.  I'd end up with a VERY similar bike with slightly less travel and lower weight and the turgid compatibility... and that's about it.  

*more sighs*

FWIW: Despite my internal struggle of trying to mold my bike cycles into the perfect form, I'm in a generally good mood.  I'm not sure if flipping the calendar to the new year has lifted some kind of dark shadow, or mebbe starting to put things on the schedule for '22 is the reason for my brighter outlook, but I think I'm better off not looking the positive outlook horse in the mouth.  

Oh, and hey.  Who's looking forward to yet another three day weekend of shite weather and has three thumbs?

Not me.

Thursday, January 6

Looks like we made it...

I woulda "celebrated" my ten year anniversary of working for The Firm at the beginning of 2022... but... whatever.

I said whatever, Tom.

I got what I wanted after my decade of diligent delivering, which is more paid time off.  Don't get me wrong.  I like a paycheck, and benefits are nice, but what I really want from work is the ability to not go there.

So given a bit more time and a free airline voucher from some canceled-due-to-covid travel... that happened... some time ago, I decided to do something with the free airborne can yeet across the country and sign up for the Moab Rocks Stage Race

The first new-to-me stage race I've done in some time, but what really mattered the most is that it fit in certain parameters:

My "free" travel has to be completed before April 8th.

I'd probably be fit enough to finish a three day stage race by the end of March without having to try too hard.

Dahn Pahrs lives close enough and is going, so ground logistics are stupid simple.

I've ridden in Moab several times since 2001, my first being the weekend after 9/11... which was about as surreal as a mountain bike trip could get.  Being "out of touch," no TVs, no social media on phones (shit, no phones), sleeping in tents, and wondering what's going on outside of the desert in the real world.  I've ridden in Moab aboard my Santa Cruz Bullit, a 42lb Craftworks FRM 125, the Tallboy single speed, my custom Stickel Meatplow V.6, and the Vassago Meatplow V.8 from the highs of Burro Pass and Hell's Canyon all the way down to the edge of the Colorado River.

Now I need to figure out which bike to take with me in a few months.  I haven't ridden anything other than a single speed at a stage race, and I've only done my first La Ruta and a couple Enduro™ stages of the Trans-Sylvania Epic with a squishy fork.  I've been having sooooooooooo much fun on the Radimus that it's so tempting, but then again... I like to do things in my own particular...

Idiom, sir?

Yeth.

I'll figure that out at some point.  At least I have something big to look forward to on the radar that isn't months and months and months and months away.

Side note and nothing even close to a seque.

Member when I flatted on day one of my trip out west last year in August (and also cracked my rim)?

That Forekaster was torn at the rim and punctured where you see that clot of TruckerCo Cream II.  It sealed well enough for me to pussyfoot my way back to the van.  That was only my sixth ride on that tire.

Maxxis sponsored "athlete" or not (thanks for making 2022 my 12th or 13th year?), I wasn't planning on just pitching the tire in the trash.  That said, I had other tires on hand and little desire to mess with any patching or plugging...

I took the tire off when I got back home from that trip so I could send the wheel in for warranty.  I rinsed the tire out, tossed it on the side porch to deal with someday... and it was ignored for months.  Somehow all the injuries and sadness took my interest in fixing things down a notch.  I eventually got tired of tripping over it, so it was moved to the darkness of the laundry room to stay forever (or until I ran outta tires).

That is up until I was gifted some free time at home thanks to my Covid exposure at work.

I assumed I'd need a coupla plugs in the hole at the rim and also if I pulled the scab off at the tread, there would probably be some air loss.  I'd put off the repair because I didn't wanna pull a tire off an existing setup to mount it, air it up, and fix it.  Messy business just to fix a tire I didn't need right away.

I membered that I had those XT wheels still, and they were non-tire shodden.  I got my plugger loaded with bacon, mounted the tire, went out on the porch to use the air compressor, and prepared to get all stabby with my tiny baconator tool...

and no air came out at the rim.  So I pulled the scab off the tread... and still no air loss.   Let the whole things sit for twenty four hours...

mebbe I lost a little bit of air.  Not a clue if it came out of one of the holes or just loss at the bead because I put zero sealant in the tire to reduce the messiness of the whole operation.

Anyhoo, just one more testament to the efficacy of TruckerCo Cream II.  It works.  It just does.  I'd say " nuff said," but I'll never stop saying it.

Never nuff.

Monday, January 3

Gutters and Intercourse

This past Thursday, due to a Covid case in our department, I was willing to take one for the team and stay till 7:30 to close things down... mostly because I'm old and whatever.  Within hours, I got the call.

"Blah, blah, blah... you were exposed to this person... blee, blee, blee... go home."

Interestingly enough, I wasn't "exposed" by the definition of our protocol IMHOMO (within six feet for an accumulated period of fifteen minutes over twenty four hours), but I knew any protestation would fall on deaf ears.  I was going home for the day.

And here's where I finally got to experience the nuttiness I had hoped to avoid.

I couldn't test until at the earliest on Monday minimum amount of time from exposure).  Without a test, I couldn't come back to work until Thursday.  As far as getting a test, HR told me they would help me if I was having trouble, but honestly, getting an appointment right now?  Not easy.

Well... given the parameters.

Finding an appointment that would take an insurance card?  Not before next Thursday.

Finding an appointment that will take an HSA card (which I have zero dollars on... because I don't contribute to it... because I have no recurring medical expenses) meant I could get in at 1:30PM on Wednesday and mebbe get my results in time to get back to work at... 3:30PM.  Which makes sense?

So I was encouraged to spend time looking for appointments online.  No response from HR through my manager regarding possible out of pocket reimbursement if I pay up front.  Filling out all sorts of questionnaires on all sorts of websites to get to the part where it says "there are no appointments available."

So on and so forth.  Every single day so far.

Traveling?  No appointments.  No symptoms?  No appointment.

There is a NCDHHS website that is supposed to make it easier... but it doesn't.  It would be nice if there was a menu where I could click "asymptomatic but exposed" and then "need rapid PCR test between these dates" to pull up a S.O.L. response would be simple enough.

I'm sure some would say shut up and enjoy your time off, but it's cold and wet and I'm going to be paying for dog boarding (nonrefundable) for a couple days because The Pie is headed outta town for a multi-day running event.  Quite honestly, I'd rather just be at work.  I mean, my gutters are already clean...

Cleaning out my gutters at the age of 52.5 is like marathon sex.  It seems like a great idea at the time I get started.  I need to make sure I change positions and methodology to avoid cramps.  It's a good idea to take short breaks.  The next day, I'm sore and realize I woulda been better served breaking up the task over several days...

But I'm happy that my gutters are clean.

Oh yeth, woe is me.  I was exposed to Covid and there's an infinitesimal chance that I got it because I was recently boosted and had limited contact with a positive person and people are out there sick and dying and I'm just bummed because I can't go to work and I'm out of gutters to clean and somehow all this is happening at a time when our testing capabilities are once again stretched beyond limits? 

Yeth?

Quite honestly, I considered what is the point of this post, but whatever.  I got nothing better to do.

Bicycle related content:

Got in a sweet rip with fellow Radimus owner (who in Charlotte isn't?) Todd on New Year's Day at Lake Norman.  It's been pretty dope to see so many people fall in love with the bike I'm currently having the most fun riding lately.  It's just that fucking good.  I almost want to build up a newer generation Optimus... although my frands are all "don't be stupid..."

They do know who they're talking to, right?

Wednesday, December 29

Unholy Schnikes

A three day weekend of sun and high temps in December beats the ever-loving shit outta two days of cold, pissy rain and cat euthanasia.  I got to ride all three mountain type bike cycles at five different trail systems with a random group, solo, and with a now Vassago-owning Dr Mike.

A group of people I mostly didn't know were going to ride from Rocky Branch Bike Park, up to Poohstain Park, and back... and because I've wanted to do that route but didn't wanna actually figure it out by myself, I went.  

Also, any ride that lasts longer than four hours total means I get to eat guilt-free pizza.

It was quite a pleasant day, despite the early and unnecessarily cold start.  Just rolling around in random anonymity, a bunch of dudes being dude'ish and semi-schralpy...

Oh, and mebbe when you think your fork ("front fork" for listeners of the Just Riding Along podcast) is a little soft so you just stick a shock pump on there with the bike hanging on the wall and put "some more" air in there and you think it's all gonna be fine... mebbe don't.  I definitely missed the mark due to my laziness, and paid the price for my stupidity all day long.  Yeth, I did write a post recently about how great it was going to be to have a super accurate digital pump and how I was going to take full advantage of it... but lazy won.  

This time.

Christmas day, I gave myself the gift of riding the new and "improved" Winter Shart Tarck course in Rock Hill.  

The ruins of the Carhartt Manor are not part of the course but totally should be.

Mebbe I wasn't there on the best of days, what with parts of the course high up on top of a landfill on a purpose built criterium loop and 15-25 MPH winds that afternoon, but oof.

The road climbs were hard with a face full of wind, the all-weathering materials that were recently put down on the trail were pretty loose, and the two climbs outta the woods were real kicks in the dicks.  The racers are what makes racing what it is, and the course is kinda secondary (as Peter Sagan says, "race is race."), but that said, hmmmm.  My cockles are not warm at the moment, probably just as cold as Momma Bear's porridge but not one degree colder.

I headed over the Airline Bike Park on the way home with my plastic squishy bike so I could at least say I did in fact go "mountain biking" that day.  No photographic evidence but I could show you the spot where my not-drooped-enough saddle tagged me in the taint when I came up short on a double.

Mebbe my grandson was in town for a spell.  Check out my house crack in the background.  Months of the city blowing up bedrock for water improvements made me such a happy home owner.

Up not so early on Sunday and it was time to spin wrenches with Dr Mike.  He just got his Vassago Optimus frame, meaning we gotta have close to fifteen Vassagos in the Queen City at this point.

As with most bike builds, some of the hard stuff went smoothly and some of the easy stuff confounded us.  In the end, we'd built a bike that once I saw it, I was trying to figure out why I need an Optimus in my life.  Is it too much to ask to have a tugid SS, a 120mm SS, and a 140mm SS?  I bet Elon Musk has the whole set.

Currently, the Radimus is the bike I'm gonna grab most of the time I ride.  The geared bike is nice and all, but the Radimus is the most fun.  The Vertigo is still awesome for those moments when I want to hurt myself... not like I did this past August tho.  The good kinda hurt myself.

So one more week of just living in the moment, and then I guess it's time to really consider what I'm gonna do next year...

other than trying to justify buying another single speed.

Tuesday, December 21

untitled and more uns

I loathe this time of year. There is no one factor that creates this palpable malaise.  It is a myriad of external stimuli and internal conflict.  People out and about in their cars going god knows where at all times of the day to do god knows what with god knows who.  This cycle of whatever the holiday season hath become when you're too old to be excited about exchanging wrapped turds.  Staring at the shelves of winter gear as I get ready for my commute to work without taking into account the constant fifteen mile an hour headwind I wasn't expecting.  That thing inside me that says I need to make the most of every day talking down to the part of me that wallows in the miserable stenchy guilt of not wanting to do much of anything at all.

Probably has nothing to do with any of those things.

All I wanted to do this past weekend was ride my bike, attend the local bike shop Christmas party, do some trail work on the Winter Shart Tarck course... and mebbe sneak in some laps afterwards.  I'm undecided if I'm going to race at the new for 2022 venue, and this was gonna be chance to determine my interest level.

Then there was the rain.  A massage in the middle of Saturday that The Pie had gifted me for Christmas during the short break in the rain.

BTW:  An annual (or so) massage is probably like driving your car around for a couple years, putting it into the ditch a few times, flooring it at every green light, jumping every railroad track crossing, clocking up 75,000 miles... and then thinking an oil change will make it all better.  I did enjoy my massage, but suffice to say, my body (specifically all the things I damaged this past summer) is not well.

The rain kept me down to one short Sad Dad™ ride on the greenway...

no cruise over to the shop party, and then no ride on Sunday because... we had to head over to my mom's place to euthanize her cat.  Can't say I was in the mood for another Sad Dad™ after that.

When it rains, it pours.

Regret coming over for a quick read yet?

I'm looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.  My mom already has a new adult cat living with her, so hopefully that will ease her grieving process.  I'm thinking about Winter Shart Tarck, mebbe doing the Moab Rocks Stage Race.  I'm 100% headed to Snowshoe for the World Cup in July.  I'm leaning hard into the idea of heading back to the Breck Epic to get my revenge.

I've got a couple books from the library.  Will be nice to bury my head into something, even if I have to wear readers now.  I haven't read a book since the pandemic started back in  March 2020.  Dammit.

What did Jack Donaghy say about fiction being for people with beards... ?

Hopefully this blerhg post was shitty enough that people won't be all, "I wish Dicky would write more."  I mean, I covered all the hot topics already in the past... why road bikes should have drooper posts, why cyclocross races should be done on ONE BIKE (no pit bikes), where babies come from, how to write a bulletproof resume (hint, leave out the part about being a bike messenger for twenty five years), five things you shouldn't put in your mouth, and why the world would be a better place if we had one global potato-based economy.

Pretty sure I covered all that.

The other day, Barlow told me a story about a conversation he had with a homeless person the other day.  The shirtless man told him that he'd be all set once he married himself a sugar momma.  

Here's to the power of positive thinking.

Wednesday, December 8

Looking back, around, down, and sideways

I guess before I come up to periscope depth to take a look at what's on the horizon, it's time to reflect and be thankful.  

Give me a ping, Vasili. One ping only, please.

Holy poop in a bucket. What a year 2021 was (or is thus far).  I started out with the Winter Shart Tarck Series.  I wasn't sure if I was gonna give the whole series a go in 2021, and even though the venue change was a bit disappointing, it was the closest thing to normal that I had available to me.  Such a sweet distraction it provided for a few weeks.  Although the rest of the world seemed to be insane, spending a Sunday outside with frans and bikes and beers was refreshing... even if it was cold and muddy most of the time.

It was a short respite before I was back to "racing" at The Triple Dip in March... as long as you want to call that "racing."  It was such a great time, and once again, at least for a day, the world made sense again.

But then there was a short drought that was kinda moistened with the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek followed by a return to normalcy that may have been equal parts blissful ignorance and guarded optimism at the Trans-Sylvania Epic in late May.

With the announcement that I'd be going back to work like normal (as opposed to every other week) in July, I did what I could to suck the marrow from those last moments of pandemic free time, filling my day with bike rides and organizing my sock drawers.  A couple weeks after being a normal worker bee again, I was on a plane headed west with my new squishy/shifty bike that I didn't know I was going to buy until I did... only to bust the rear rim on day one... and then bust so many parts of my body on day two.  Regrettably (at least now that I'm looking in the rear view mirror), I went ahead and showed up for the Breck Epic nowhere near physically or mentally healed.  I found myself piled up in a heap at the side of the trail on day two hurt even worse than I was a month ago.  The right side of my body from shoulder to big toe was pissed off and constantly reminding me of my mistakes.

Fuck.

I still went to the Shenandoah Mountain 100 a month later.  Mebbe I'm "proud" that I managed to finish, but once again, the smarter move mighta been to stay home or just volunteer.  I was still a broken (small) man.  Riding scared with a foot/ankle/leg that didn't wanna do stuff like "move" or "exist" was just plain stupid.  

And I was still pretty terrified about wrecking again... like give up mountain biking for life petrified.  I thought mebbe this is how it ends.

But somehow...

And I got to slam my way through a bunch of racing in three weeks at the King and Queen of the Watershed, PMBAR, and the Pisgah 55.5k... although I carried The Fear with me through all of those events.  It's a heavy rock to get out from underneath.

I'm definitely getting my mojo back now.  Me and my relatively new'ish bikes are getting along like Peanut M&M's and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  Admittedly, I'm not railing leaf covered trails in the Pisgah without at least acknowledging that danger might be lurking below in the form of giant holes, loose rocks the size of a loaf of Wonder Bread, or a spoke-eating log.  For all I know, there could be a predator hiding in the leaves.

You can't tell me with 100% certainty there isn't.

Can I say it was a "good" year?  Why not?  I'm feeling great riding bikes in the woods, I have a wife who loves me, a jehrb that still lets me wear shorts while only occasionally doing hygiene stuff (I really need a shave right now), and my dog still greets me when I get home as if I'd been on a deep space mission to Mars for three years.  Mebbe I learned a lesson about respecting the limitations of my injured body.  Perhaps I've become a better person...

Probably not, but I'm trying.

Only twenty something more days till 2022.