Thursday, December 7

Bursting your balloons

Sorry not sorry for the disconnect.  I checked out for a bit.  Work has been sorta stressful and life has been life.  

We went to Florida.  That was nice.

Dump the luggage, walk to the beach.

Christmas hits different in Florida.

Long story behind the SS Dickbutt we saw washed up on the beach.  Long and also mebbe sad, but the guy did have "boat money."

I don't know how much money is "boat money," but since I don't have a boat, I assume it's more than I have.  Mebbe boat money comes after second car money.  Dunno.

Pie's big night out to see the Christmas-afied lifeguard chairs and such.  We're Dillens, and when we're on vacation, we walk everywhere.

I'd skipped supper before we went out, thinking I'd grab something on our travels.  I was excite when I saw a vending machine, disappoint when I saw the contents.  I'm assuming a Bag of Dicks tastes like it sounds.

The rest of the images are in not much of any order at all. 

I rode out towards the naval base on one of my Sad Dad™ rides.  I'd seen it from the other side of the river way long ago on a past trip to Amelia Island, and it wasn't very visible from this side as well.  I could see the top of some ship of death, but that's about it.

Comforting to know that there is a heaven for Pies, especially since we celebrated Thanksgiving by doing our wills.  I bet everyone does that.  Such a morbid conversation on a holiday.

"How much do you really wanna live, Pie?  I mean really, really wanna?  Like laugh at fart jokes or live plugged into a wall socket levels of enjoyment?  Where's the threshold and sign here and here and here and... "

One of my Sad Dad™ rides, I headed to Dutton Island Preserve hoping to find some under-biking worthy dirt.  I mighta been over-biked.

I like dirt on my vacations, even if it's just Florida dirt.  The trails on my first ride outta the front door of our place we stayed at was Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park (KAHP from here on out).  I thought it was gonna be an easy ride (logistically).  It was not.
I took a much longer Sad Dad™ ride down to Guana River Wildlife Management Area.  The keyword there was "Wildlife."  At the first entrance, there was nobody there to collect my $1, but at the secondary entrance, there was a man there to warn me that there was hunting going on in the area.  

"What are they hunting?"

"Mostly small game."

"I don't feel small."

*no reaction*


I ended up getting all turned around trying to get out of the forest in my own particular.... ummm.... idiom.  The old road that the sky robots had told me was there wasn't, so I ended out jumping a gate elsewhere to get out.  The signs did say that users should use the official entrances, but since I was exiting, I think I'm okay.

I've worked for a law firm for almost twelve years, so I'm pretty much an attorney, right?

Gads.  I hate on-trail, forced selfies, but I felt like I should mark my existence here.  I'd already officially checked myself outta the trails (and taken off my knee pad), but I was passing one more trail that I'd already ridden on my way out yet another unofficial exit from yet another park... mostly because getting in here officially was an ass-to-elbow adventure, and my now planned way out only meant going down the beach a half mile or so.  I also needed to pee and doing so on the beach seemed less buenos.

I went back for one more since the first one sucked.  It only sucked slightly less tho.

What was odd about KAHP is that the black trails were only black because they were more twisty and slower than the blue trails.  Mebbe there were 30% more roots?  This was the only thing I thought was sketchy, but if you've ever ridden Alafia or Balm Boyette, you know Florida has "real black" trails, so I don't judge.  We have trails in Charlotte that are black because they're more difficult than what you would expect in the rest of the area, so any confusion is mine own.

Literally, dunno.  Walk around Jacksonville Beach after enjoying the half-off specials at the Surfer Happy (3) Hour(s) as much as possible and see what ends up on your roll.

There was one refreshing dirt ribbon at Dutton that didn't dip below swamp levels.  No idea if it's a real trail, but kudos whoever bothered to build it.

Sad Dad halts the ride on a Sad Dad™ to take a picture of a mural to seem "cultured" and "in touch."  Fails, prolly.

You should trust Google maps when they tell you to cycle ass-to-elbow to get somewhere in Florida.  The most direct route that I could see that wasn't suggested was through here.  The park is literally on the other side of this fence.  Then when I rerouted to get to the real entrance going ass-to-belly button, I found myself in front of a gated community I could not get through.  Dammit.  You win this time, Florida (and almost every time).

Also, and not disparaging Florida or Floridians, but if I found out that 95% of flat-earthers lived here, I'd believe it.  On my longest ride of 47 miles, I only had 46 feet (recorded) of climbing.  I've never ridden so far in a straight line except at La Ruta, and I have to say that Florida road riders must have taints of steel.  It felt like riding in a Zwift world, except the sound track is mostly nail guns and F-450s.

If I didn't like Florida, I wouldn't be going there for what seems like every single year.

I did get to Pisgah once while I was on my blerhg sabbatical.  It was my first time back since slicing my knee open on September 9th.  We rode some leafy chunk gnar, and that probably wasn't the best way to dip my toe back in the water.  Also, I'm more confident on my Vassago Meatplow V.9 Radimus in the slow technical business, but I chose the baby that had been sitting in the corner the longest.  My bad.  I gotta get my thousand yard stare back ASAP.

So, not a consistent return to writing and such, but making sure the blerhg's not ded... mostly because it hasn't had its living will notarized yet.

Wednesday, November 8

Content(ment) Creator

Huh.  Would you look at that?  Everyone complaining about the time change makes me feel less like adding to the clamor of overwhelming disappoint.  I get it.  You wake up.  It's dark.  You go to work, come home, and it's dark.  Then the weekend comes, and when you blink your eyes while standing in the cereal aisle at Target, it's gone.

Mondays just last a whole week now until sometime in mid-March.

Commence ramble.

I saw the trainer stowed away in the spare room closet when I was moving the puffy coats to the main closet in the hall on Sunday.  It looked up at me from the dusty, dark corner as if to say, "we're gonna do this again, aren't we raggedy man?"

I mean, I don't wanna.  Really, I don't.

Move the coats to the hall closet.  Move the coats back to the spare room closet.  Repeat ad infinitum. 
What are the goals in life that we all share beyond finding true contentment?  Contentedness might be a nice feeling after suffering through a protracted ordeal and finally getting to the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's probably not the state you want to live the rest of your life in until death.  Kinda like Alabama. 

I woulda said Ohio (but I got family and frands there), Arkansas (but Bentonville), or mebbe North Dakota (but.... ?)

yeah, how about North Dakota then?

I guess that's the main reason I try to throw a stage race or two into my "season" every year.  It narrows my focus down in the lead up as I attempt to prepare my neglected body for a week of suffering.  The months before are filled with sweating over packing lists of spare parts and wardrobe changes and waking up from anxiety-riddled fever dreams.  The day-to-day of being at the event is consumed with the sense that I need to get to the end of the week in one piece.  The seconds, minutes, and hours of trudging forward from the start to the finish each day knowing that it will feel so "worth it" when it's all done and dusted.

I'm fortunate* that 95% of my "struggles" are self-fabricated issues.  I find myself at the bottom of a steep gravel road climb because I just rode down a magical ribbon of dirt through the trees and over the chunder gnar.  I wake up bleary eyed because I cracked a final triumphant celebration of another day above the ground beer at 9:20PM.  I want to lose weight because I allowed myself to look away from the scale for a few too many months whilst eating the random leftovers that show up at work all too frequently that I can accommodate within the terms of my Everest Diet plan.

"Because it's there."

I have one problem.  Although I despise problems, I love problem solving.  I'm Schrödinger's Dick in a  Box.  That said, I don't think I'll find myself stacking any more Tetris blocks or finishing another Sudoku puzzle any time soon.  See above image to see how that always turns out.

I'm optimistic that 2024 will be a better than average year. Still, not so confident that I didn't place one final order with Maxxis before submitting my sponsorship application for next "season."

What can I say?  I recognize that all good things must come to an eventual end, so why not be both the cricket and the ant?  This blerhg spits and sputters along, and my desire to create "content" wanes as I lose interest in making my life appear to be anything more marvelous than completely average**

le sigh

I think I'll plan on going outside tomorrow to stare at the sun for the fifteen minutes that it's actually visible in the sky.

* I always remind myself that "bored" is a privilege.

** It's actually much better than average, but I don't wanna be to braggadocios except in the footnotes that no one will read.

Wednesday, November 1

Unexpected Race Report: The Fastest Fist at the Fister Fest '23

I was supposed to go to Pisgah on Saturday.  I didn't.  A last minute cancelation of plans plus local event with registration still being open meant I still get to have fun (of an ass total opposite type) so whatevs.  I'd kinda planned on going to Fisher Fest in the back of my mind, forgot about it, made other plans, and voila.  

Doing the bull dance, feeling the flow, working it.

Only problem being that I'm 75% packed for a semi-epic in Pisgah on one bike, and now I need to pivot to XC mode and get another bike ready... and it's 7:00PM.  I don't really wanna ride my rigid single speed over all the roots and whatnot at Fisher Farm, but I don't wanna drag a 140mm fork around... and I've just recently come to the realization that all but one of my rides since getting back on the mountain bike since slicing my knee open have been on the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 as such, so...

After this past weekend, I've ridden only this mountain bike off road and none other for almost two hundred miles.  Glad I as in such a hurry to have all the bikes' squishy parts rebuilt after my injury.

Dunno if any of that makes sense, but some of the usual Winter Shart Tarck SSuspectSS had signed up for the challenge, so I decided to join them.  Time trial format, five mile laps, up to three shots at setting your fastest single lap time as long as you start between 9:00AM and 11:30AM.  That's the Fastest in Fisher XC Race.

I was planning on taking the first lap easy to get to know the course.  I don't really ride out here much anymore.  Not because I don't like it, but it's just a pretty long drive when I have so many trails much closer to the house.  Oh... and Interstate 77.  Anything I can do to avoid ever being in a car on that godforsaken route.  North or south.  Any time of day.  It's the worst of humanity.  Seriously.  It's worse than a bunch of seventh graders being supervised by a sixty-eight year old substitute teacher with no chin, except their misbehavior is slightly less deadly. 

Oh, back to the riding and less about the whining.

I went into the trail for lap one some number of seconds behind diesel single speeder, Bruce.  It seemed like I was closing the gap when I could see him through the trees, and as it turned out, I did.  I'd planned on using the first lap to familiarize myself with the trail and just warm up, but I realized that since we were the first two to start, the trail would never be as clear as it was right then.  I ended up going full gas and making lots of mistakes, but I still squoze out a sixteen second lead despite making multiple poor line choices.

But like I said.  Bruce.  Diesel.

Lap two and he goes twenty seconds faster than his previous time and I go ten seconds slower... and Shawn has now gotten in a fast lap, and he's matched my second lap time, and I'm about blown from doing two twenty-four minute intervals.

So, do I go out for a third when I know my legs are blown, but I know the course better and Bruce (who rides here with some regularity) doesn't think he wants a third and Shawn is deliberating his last attempt?

I just need four seconds.  Hard to give up when I just need to go one second per mile faster.

So I do.

Firstly, I can't comprehend how I can still see max heart rates that are the same as what I could do when I was in my young 20s.  Secondly, I don't see how it was possible to bury myself the most on the third lap.  Suffice to say, I shaved fifty-five seconds off my fastest previous lap.  That was enough to win, as Shawn and Bruce didn't go back out, and Kevin got there too late to get more than one attempt in before they closed it all down.

So, a "win" in that I was the fastest single speeder, but a bigger actual win is that I'm finally feeling "me" again.

I would also take one in the "L" column if I take into account what I did the rest of the day to not recover much at all.  While I did do squeezy leg bags that night, I ate like shit and also way too late and didn't really rehydrate or take that nap my body really wanted or get a good night's sleep.

And then I grabbed the rigid SS one more time on Sunday to head out to North Wilkesboro without much thought being put into the distance or elevation of our route or swapping my cog out for something a little more 100 feet per mile friendly.

So now the decision is do I race again in two weeks or prioritize a shop party the night before?
I do so love the unhealthy endeavor of playing last man standing (on the patio) at the annual Spoke Easy Anniversary Party.  It takes a special something to make the podium there.  You don't always have to end up walking a celebrity eight miles back to your house.

Wednesday, October 25

Barnburner 50k 2023: Groundhog Day Edition

Apology ahead of time for typos and such.  I'm punching the keys with 90% of my normally operating digits.  What is it about owning a fixed gear and trying to crush and destroy some phalanges at least once every five or so years?

Here we ago.  Another year.  Another Barnburner.  

No real "goal" to mention of.  I'm just pleased as punch to be back on a mountain bike and feeling my regular normal.  Good to be back in the hunt, regardless of whether I'm the hunter or the hunted.  The top of the field is so stacked that it's highly unlikely that I'll get the same 4th place that I managed the two other times I've raced here before.

Line up in the second or so row because once we turn outta the driveway, we're gonna get slapped in the face with a headwind and then a steep half mile climb.  I'm not nearly warmed up enough to hang at the back of the big boys and girls, but I'm just dangling off the back of the "haves" and at the bleeding edge of the "have nots."  The climb ends at a left turn onto a gravel road that undulates enough to really string people out.  As I said last week, I'd just pre-ridden the trail a week ago, and I "know" we're on this gravel until the three mile mark, and then we bang a hard right.

Despite having all that knowledge, I see 3.0 pop up on my data acquisition device, and then a trail to the right... and a quick glance... and I see pink tape... but everyone ahead of me within sight is going straight.

So I continue to follow the herd.  Until I see someone headed back towards me.  Grab some brake, almost get run over from behind, get off the side of the trail... and head right back into some dense traffic in a real hurry to go the wrong direction.  I see Gabor (also in the single speed class) and yell "WRONG WAY," although my direction was very unpopular with the sea of riders coming at me.  I get to my missed turn and a rider has picked up the arrow sign that musta blown down in the extreme winds. 

Now what?

Honestly, I have no idea how many of the riders ahead of me missed the turn (all, some, none except the ones I saw?) or if any of them were single speeders.  Wherever I thought I was in the field is now just scrambled eggs, other than Gabor being behind me, and assuming he trusted me, he's gotta be close enough to catch me before the finish.  I shoulda told him I was going back to pick up a dropped bottle.


I start catching riders who I assume didn't miss the turn that should be behind me, but they were smarter or at least more observant.  I got in the mix with a single speeder for a bit and went back and forth with him until Gabor caught and passed us, and then he decided to make chase. 

And then they were gone.  That's Charlie about to come around me me for the final time with about ten miles to go.  

Honestly, everything was just a mind jumble.  I mean, if the whole front of the pack missed the turn, how far would they get before figuring out their mistake?  If the three of us are "winning" due to a bunch of riders missing the turn, are we really racing?  I feel like any minute now, riders are going to come screaming by me.

But they don't.

I ride into the finish, apparently not aware that I needed to try and outsprint some rando on a geared bike.

Look around.  There's Gabor.  There's the other guy I was riding with, Charlie.  There's Jarz...

Looks like at best mebbe fourth place depending on how many single speeders ahead of me missed the turn and never caught back up.

And that was that because that's totally what had happened.  I came in fourth.  Again.  Like in 2019 but way more like I did in 2022, missing third by less than a minute (again), or about .6 something seconds per mile (again).  Dammit but also whatever.

I still had a blast, so I'm not all that worried about the results.  I'm hoping the race doesn't take a bad knock just because the high winds blew down a sign (the course still had the upcoming turn pieces of pink tape and confirmation tape in place).  I'm sure it just as frustrating on both ends.

Beer was had in the sun and me knee never touched the floor and my heart still beats so buenos.

Might squeak out one more race in '23.  One more chance to use this:

That Out Front Bracket from So Pro Cycling was so worth the $20 investment.  Sure, your data acquisition device mount has to have the GoPro mount under it, but whatever.  Figure it out or just keep using zip ties and scissors to turn your number plates into an art project cum engineering disaster.

Wednesday, October 18

(im)Perfect Timing

Halfway through the summer, I became addicted to wearing bibs with pockets WITHOUT wearing baggies over top of them.  The entire Southeast is a swampy, hairy butthole roasting in a sauna that needed cleaned months ago, and I just couldn't take it anymore.  I went on a quest to find an appropriate top/shirt/blouse that wasn't a sleeveless jersey with redundant pockets and an elastic, non-breezy waist or a dumb sleeveless cotton t-shirt.  I came up empty... mostly because I had to leave the house and experience "retail sporting goods stores" and the people who frequent them or buy something online that I'm 95% sure I'm gonna hate the fit once I get it. 

Like most solutions to my problems, I find them once I've ignored the issue long enough.

I got an email from HandUp Gloves and Also Apparel about a new women's performance tank top, the ActiviTANK.

Without getting into a discussion about gendering things, the average woman's body is different than the average man.  They have breasts and waists and stuff.  I realize there are men who have those things too.  My fit issues are that I'm a tiny man with generally long arms and legs and about half a normal person's torso.  Most size small men's shirts hang down well below where I'd like.  I would fit better in a woman's shirt, but they are usually flared at the bottom to accommodate hips, something I have zero of.

I perused the many images and I saw what I liked.

The neck seemed nice and crew'ish so as to not accentuate my skinny neck.  Short in the front but longer in the back to keep butt crack exposure limited if I end up wearing it with jorts.  Poly/Spandex blend that looks more like cotton so I don't feel like I'm cosplaying an "athlete."

And as this post is titled, the timing couldn't be more ironic, because riding while wearing as little as possible won't be happening again for quite a few months.

And as far as wearing "women's clothes" goes, I think I'll hand that topic over to the great Eddie Izzard:

“They’re not women’s clothes. They’re my clothes. I bought them.”

Other not so good timing would be that Dr Mike and I "pre-rode" the Barnburner 50K course this past weekend.  I would have preferred to NOT do it the weekend before the race to avoid the same old same old feeling of back-to-back rides in the same place.  That said, I was either too busy or too broken to do it earlier.  I don't necessarily need to pre-ride a course, but it helps me with the suffering when I have a clue as to where it will be the worst, how long it will last, places where I might be able to get around slow traffic, opportunities to grab a bottle, etc.

I also needed to put the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 through some paces since getting back from the King and Queen of the Watershed.  Since that event a week ago, I de-bubbled my rear brake, swapped the Rekon 2.8 front for the Aspen 2.4 (have I mentioned that I've fallen in deep smit with this tire?), and mounted the Vittoria Air Liner insert in the rear... and lowered the pressure down from my usual 21.5PSI to 18.  I didn't remember to address the slightly slow Cascade dropper post with a quick rebuild until after the ride.

I didn't pull up the YouTube video, and I forgot that it's not the same process as the Rainier Gen 3 on my Vassago and garvel behk or the Loam on my Epic EVO.  Not in the least.  I've rebuilt/serviced it at least once since I pitched the poopy AXS wireless into the bin, but I'd forgotten the process.


I busted the nylon cord I totally forgot about, and although it had plenty of excess length to mebbe work with, my multiple feeble attempts to trim it cleanly and reinsert it into the barrel nut were 100% fail... until I'd finally trimmed it a skosh too much and it was no longer useable.


I did reach out to the excellent customer service team at PNW, and they've assured me I'll be good to go before the weekend... assuming I don't muck it up again... which I won't.

And much excite for the Barnburner 50K this weekend.  Thirty five miles of full gas fun followed by hanging out in the sun with my frands one last time before saying goodbye to the 2023 "season."


Sorry, I meant "buenos."

Wednesday, October 11

King and Queen of the Watershed '23

I went to the King and Queen of the Watershed with zero aspirations, aside from spending some quality time with my frand, Watts.  That's always been at least 60% of the driving force, aside from having some interest in turning late season fitness into making sorta good bike race.  I've only been back on the mountain bike twice leading into Sunday's event since seeing my knee cap, so my only goal in the timed sections was to keep the rubber side down... mebbe have a little fun too.

Unfortunately, I didn't leave the house fast enough on Saturday, so I was still around when the mail was delivered.  Nothing sours weekend plans like getting that final ER bill and finding out I owe The Man approximately 1.7 Vassago Optimus Ti frames (or $2,700 in US monies).

Anyhoo, Watts still had the taps flowing at Revolution Cycles when I got there, and I had a chance at some bonus rounds while he stayed open an extra hour to set up a guy with some clipless pedals and shoes... and teach him how to use them... which also allowed me enough time and wallet lubrication to purchase a Vittoria Air-Liner Light I'd been eyeballing.

I couldn't halp myself.  Mebbe I'll "review" it later, as it's already on the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 and getting ridden the next two weekends.

We managed to keep the general debauching to lower levels that in the past, and getting to bed slightly after midnight allowed for what would closely pass for an appropriate amount of sleep.  

As per ushe, Watts would have us pedal the twelve something miles to the start as opposed to driving to the finish and getting shuttled to the start in a school bus... which of course tacks an extra twenty five plus miles on to the day but whatever.

The race is over five timed segments ridden in an individual time trial style format.  There's just not much to say about the racing action, as you have no idea how the "race" will shake out, and your only real issues will be trying to pass people who started ahead of you and getting out of the way when one of the nineteen riders in the E-Bike category came flying up your ass.  

Tee hee but not really ready for ER or ER bill-related humors.

Generally speaking, I gave it just about all I had over the first three stages.  I was pleased as punch to see I was able to chug along in the 180+ BPM zone for such long durations, but somewhere in the middle of Stage Four (after a couple slices of pizza), I realized that I'd forgotten to have fun.  This was the first time I'd been feeling comfortable at speed on a bike since my wreck a month ago.  The weather was perfect, riding next to Lake Brandt was aesthetically pleasing, and I don't think I had to get outta the way of an e-bike stampede for the last couple miles.  It was, as the kids say, buenos.

I did go ahead and put my whole ass into the last, short stage... as if they would perhaps mebbe reward a prize to first place not-from-Greensboro single speed class... but no.

As the post-race beers went down, the results from each stage trickled in.  I was in sixth place outta eleven... which is what I told Watts I wanted. My favorite number and also precisely mid-pack.  

But damn, if I didn't fall back to seventh after my "fun stage" when I allowed myself to forget that I had a number plate on the front of my bike.

But also damn (in a good way), putting my whole ass back in race mode on the fifth stage meant I clawed back the time I'd lost allowing my to cling to sixth by a hang nail. 

What else can I say?  Many beer tickets found their way into our mitts.  Those tickets were transformed into beers until they took the kegs away.  Many podiums were had, and Watts and I were not fortunate enough to be present on any of them, save for the award for last men standing (in a field). 

Dammit, I love this race... despite the five 20-30 minute intervals that test my limits every year.

On a very somber note (because I can't stop thinking about it), 23 year old Zoe Clay passed away after sustaining critical injuries at the event this weekend.  A GoFundMe has been established to help her family deal with the medical and funeral bills.  I can't really put my thoughts into words on this beyond that, and at least I was able to write 99% of this post before I found out about what happened to her.  My heart goes out to her family, friends, the community, the promoter, and everyone that is having to process this unfortunate turn of events.  Yet another reminder of how precious this gift of life truly is and how quickly it can all go away.


Wednesday, October 4

That did not pan out

I'm back on the mountain bike.  Sorta.  Kinda.

Despite putting myself on my back foot by attending a day long Oktoberfest bar crawl on Saturday that was way more crawl than bar, I arose from my chambers Sunday morning prepared to hit dirt once again.  Sadly, whilst I was 42.0% prepared physically and 69% mentally, my bike was truly not prepared at all.

I had to go back and look at my STRAVA to figure out that I hadn't ridden this bike since Colorado...

and those two or so fateful minutes at the Horny Cat 69 three weeks ago.

Good news, bad news, good news (or vice versa or versa vice).

Sometimes (often?) I work on my bike upside down.  At me.

My brakes were oddly either contaminated or terribly glazed over.  They were perfectly fine in Colorado for seven or eight days of riding a month ago but no buenos on Sunday. Oddly enough, I kinda remember that the first time I rode down that slight incline I wrecked on that something didn't feel quite right.

This past Sunday... I knew nothing was right in the world.  

Try and give 'er and haul back on the lever and just about nothing.  Well, not just nothing.  Quite a godawful racket, but not a whole lotta slowing down.  So it was a pretty nervous sub-twenty mile ride of dragging my what I'll loosely call "brakes" way before going into a corner hoping to slow down enough to be able to avoid getting super yoinky and bouncing off trees.  Considering my condition and still feeling a little PTSD from my last ride on this bike, I can't say the ride was entirely fun.

But I lived, so there's that... even though I forgot rides require calories and I had none of those.

So anways, fixing my brakes and going over all the other ignored bikes before hopefully heading to the King and Queen of the Watershed this weekend with Watts to do that thing we do.  Granted, my expectations of making great bike race were low at best before I tried to rip my knee cap off, so let's just cross our fingers and hope I can keep the rubber side down and my bendy parts out of the dirt.