Wednesday, July 17

Downcountry For Old Men: Part Deux

After getting in a buttload of riding over the last few months, I think I'm "tapering."  Timing, schedules, agendas, responsibilities, and quite possibly weather are going to make it hard to pump out some mega-miles any time soon.  

Meanwhile, progress continues on Meatplow V.10, my "downcountry" single speed that will slot between my XC single speed and my Enduro™ single speed.

Following up on a theme I was too lazy to pursue with MS Paint two years ago.

My SOLiX UL 300 wheels finally made it to my house... after spending a few hours on my neighbor's porch where the FedEx guy left them.  This disappointed me so.

Being that part of my jerhb is delivering things, I take great pride in taking those things to where they are supposed to go.  It's not that hard really.  You look at the address.  You take that item to that address.  You leave it there and nowhere else.


Anyways... first step.  Weigh them... because?  I dunno.

1,400 grams on the nose'ish, because my scale rounds up/down to the tens of grams, so mebbe heavier than the claimed 1,385 grams but also mebbe not.  Just about all the weight saved is negated by the swap from Ashima 6-bolt rotors to Shimano Centerlock, but the mass is closer to the center of rotation, and the Shimano rotors won't eat pads as fast, and I gained an extra 2mm of inner width on the rim, so...

Buenos, I guess.

I've built the bike out just about as much as you can without having an actual frame.  The Vittoria Air-Liner XC installed in the rear tire pretty easily (99% turgid XC SS bike won't need it), and both mounted up nicely with just a floor pump.  I try to not use my air compressor if I don't need to because Boppit hates it... and garbage trucks... and strangers... and doodles.

Something else I noted in my mad rush to put together a bike without the most important part because I lack patience:

Apparently Industry Nine updated their valves to be tire liner compliant.  That might help explain why it was so easy to inflate, as I was getting ready to "modify" my insert a tiny bit for easier inflation and cleaning before I realized I didn't need to.  It's not noted on their website.  It wasn't announced when they launched the new wheels.  Even the images of valves on their site are the old ones.

Dunno what's going on there.  My brain is always on Ctrl + F.

Now, unless I wanna grease my headset cups in advance, I literally have nothing to do except sit and wait and anticipate and hope for non-shite weather this weekend so I don't lose my mind.

Wednesday, July 10

One Thousand and Ninety-Five Days

At least I kept the Epic EVO longer than any other full suspension bike since I started this blerhg back in 2006.

No, I didn't clamp the shock, you dim wit.

It almost made it to the three year mark, although it's only seen 81 miles in 2024.  That's like 5% of my recorded '24 miles, so obviously, the thrill is gone.  The heart wants what the heart wants.  Speaking of, after my most recent trip and a four day weekend, my Radimus finally has more miles this year than my garvel bike, so I'm calling myself a "single speeder" again.

This is the only part left of the Epic EVO that isn't being used on the new bike that isn't spoken for:

Great fork, but I wanna try the new Stepcast 34... because I'm not ded yet.  No reason to hold on to it any longer.  You should totally buy it.  Yeth, you.

Somethings old, somethings new, somethings borrowed, somethings purple.

No idea when the frame will be here, but the SOLiX wheels (the last big piece of the puzzle) should be here soon'ish.  No real rush, but I would like to have it all together before the Old Fort Fifty in August.  That's my last new white Ergon saddle, so I'm sad to be down to the final one.  I can't find them anywhere.  Le sigh.  Also, this will be my first go around with Centerlock rotors on a mountain bike.  I was reluctant at first, but what's ironic is that back when I used to travel on planes way more with my bike, I complained that Industry Nine didn't have a Centerlock option on their system wheels to make rotor removal/installation easier.  Now I hardly travel and got what I wanted then but not now but okay.

BTW: Those Wolftooth alloy bar end plugs have more than paid for themselves by saving my ESI grips from tree bashings and dumping the bike to the ground because I don't ride good.  Highly recommendo.

Things I'll miss about the Epic EVO?

I feel like the Rohloff tensioner was really dialed in and making less noise with the alloy pulleys.  I was pretty stoked when I figured out that I coulda carry a spare UDH hanger attached to the bottom of my bottle cage with an old seat post binder.  The chain tool/spare link storage headset compression thing was the perfect compliment to the under-the-bottle-cage SWAT tool, but since I'll be moving the Conceal Carry tool over to this bike, I don't have a bike that can use it anymore.  Womp womp.  I'm not getting rid of it because... hoarding.

While de-rubbering my Hydra wheels, I noticed that once again, TruckerCo Cream II did its job effectively without ever letting me know I had a puncture.  This shit just works.  I like shit that works.

I really thought for quite some time, at least since finally buying a garvel bike that suited my needs, I'd not have the pleasure of putting a bike together any time in the near future.  I'm glad I was wrong.

You only YOLO once.  Mebbe twice if you live long enough.

Monday, July 8

Journey to the Center of the Mountain Bike Capital of the World: Part Three

Day six.

Leaving the tranquil peace of Mount Nebo and headed to Bentonville.  We were aware that the meat of the Bentonville trail systems had been gutted by the tornados a little over a month ago.  Coler and Slaughter Pen were off the menu, so with just the Back Forty and Hand Cut Hollow being the only real Bentonville/Bentonville-adjacent options, we decided to hit Kessler Mountain in Fayetteville on the drive north.

The layout of the trail system seemed "obvious."  

This here trail is probably the main up over here, these are the "descents," this is the connector to the other "descents..."

What a chunky place.  You could still smell the "Walton money" here and there, but there were plenty of raw sections.  The parts where I thought I might be able to let it roll had plenty of pointy, fuck-faced rocks trying to push my back up the mountain.  Quite a taxing place to ride in the heat, but a fine substitute for some of what we'd be missing in Bentonville.

We chose The Bike Inn for our van life accommodations in town.

I can't say the bidets were the main reason we chose it, but they had me at "bidet."

They also had a feral cat that wanted to experience van life.

Comparing my rotor burn pattern to the rotor.  I think I woulda leaned in a little more had a realized the opportunity to get a sweet brand.
Day seven.

Back Forty.  I've only been up there the one time for the Ozark Epic 50 with Watts.  I had no idea which bits I'd seen, but I chose the Tunnel Vision side based on nothing more than knowing there was a "hub" at the center, and generally speaking, "hub" means the top of some fun stuff.

I'm an idiot.
I think after we went through our third or fourth tunnel, I finally realized why the trail was called Tunnel Vision.

Twenty seven miles with three thousand feet of dick-punching climbing in the humidity and heat sucked out our souls.  By the time we'd done most of the loop and cut through the hub, we just kept rolling.

Putting our souls back in place.  We'd seen this spot earlier from the trail and both has the same idea.

Day eight.

I did a trbl job documenting our time in Hand Cut Hollow.  A more "typical" Bentonville feel for sure.  A hub based trail system with a gentle return line and plenty of Walton money descents.  We were still dealing with the heat tho, and Bill Nye had enough pretty early on.  I decided to ride back to the Bike Inn, if only so I could ride by Slaughter Pen and see how the tornado recovery was going.

I got sucked into a trail system that wasn't marked as closed only to find nature had taken care of making that obvious.  I ended up riding through downtown, hit the All American Trail, rode my bike to the top of a building...
because in Bentonville, of course you can?

Also found a pump track.

Obvs, I pumped it.

Not the most thrilling way to end a trip, but eight days of riding and van lifing in the swampy southeast do take a toll.

Overall, a great time tho.  The worst injuries being chigger bites, rotor burn, and sweating.  I saw some new stuff, and definitely regions I'd love to hit again.  Surely, not the same as a trip out west, but a lot less driving between destinations.

Now fully back in normal life mode and also watching all my chigger bites slowly heal.

Wednesday, July 3

Journey to the Center of the Mountain Bike Capital of the World: Part Two

Day Four

I was concerned that it was going to be hard to top the ride at Coldwater the day before.  It was.

I'd picked Monte Sano mostly because it was between two other stops and not much else.  I had a route pieced together with somewhat local intel from a former SS racing adversary and an MTB Project route.  It started out well enough...

Some roots, some rocks, some climbing... then a steep, long hike-a-bike up a very rock-strewn trail to a trail that just dead-ended in the woods.  And then it got worse.  An overgrown trail that musta seen some storm damage.  We rerouted to a nearby trail... and it was the same.  After hiking around a huge landslide, I called it.  We hopped on a road and beelined it back to the showers.  Womp womp. 

I feel no shame.

We had to find a place to sleep along the longest drive of the trip from Monte Sano to Mount Nebo.  Village Lake State Park fit the bill.  The bathrooms were choice, there was no lake, but then there were flies. Then mosquitos.  Then bats... I assume to feast on the flies and mosquitos.  Yay bats.  

Day five.

Wake up. Drive to Mount Nebo... and get pounded by a storm on the way.  We were worried that the trails would be a mess when we got there, but a short hike into the woods proved us wrong.  Open up the back of the van to get ready only to find a hoard of mosquitos had taken over the cargo area while we slept.  We emptied out the gear, and I crawled around and swatted them with a dirty rag in tight quarters.

Then we rode.  Nebo was the redemption we needed.  

So much elevation.  So fast.  So good.  So much Walton money everywhere, and perhaps the longest continual section of rock armored trail I saw the whole trip.

It was a race to the top of the first climb with this little guy.

I would say this place was a very close second to Coldwater in terms of quality.  I can't quite put my finger on the why of it all tho.  Coldwater was just that good, and didn't have that "Walton money" feel to it.  After hitting all the more gravity-oriented loops, I continued on the rest of the Miller GOAT trail solo to get in a few more miles.

We definitely hit the highlights tho.

Back at the van and over to the convenient Mount Nebo State Park.  The park ranger who checked us in probably wasn't at J6, but she certainly woulda been cheering them on and mighta made a donation or two to free the political prisoners. 

Back into town for supplies.  Ask the Super Walmart (it was the ONLY place in town) employee where the beer is...

"This is a dry county.  You have to drive twenty minutes over to New Blaine for beer."


Although, side note.  I don't know how to make apps or anything of the sort, but it would be a neat add-on to Google Maps or what have you to get a warning when your destination is in a dry county or if you're passing through one... or if your hours of travel through certain places with crazy beer rules like that time we slept in a truck stop on a Sunday in some state where we couldn't buy beer because we were too late or too early or some shit like that.

When it became time to settle into the van for the night, we were surprised to see that the dozens of mosquitos that had avoided the wrath of my dirty rag by hiding amongst the camping chairs and other cargo had moved into the main cabin area.

We spent the next fifteen minutes in extermination mode, swatting, strategizing, adapting our killing techniques, and teamworking our way out of a night of getting bit up.

This trip was been a lot of sweat and bugs so far.  I'll finish this out after the long weekend.

Tuesday, July 2

Journey to the Center of the Mountain Bike Capital of the World: Part One

Oof.  That was a trip.

It went mostly as planned, except the parts we didn't plan, but that was fine.  Just fine.

Day one.

FATS.  Fork Area Trail System.  I'd never been.  It's not that far from Charlotte, but if I'm driving that kinda distance, Pisgah is always the choice.  I'm a snob.

Multi-directional and not sure we rode it the "fun way" or not.  It served well as a place holder to give us something to do on the way to Jarrod's Place Bike Park.  Loads of flow... I forget where the current mood of bike world is... we like flow or hate it?  Let me know in the comments (jk).

The trip's schedule was mostly based on getting to Jarrod's on one of the days it's open.  We camped there the night before we rode.

It was rather idyllic.  

Idyllic aside from the part when I woke up to find out that I picked up some chiggers (probably at FATS), and they went to town on my nether regions while I slumbered.

Day two.

I took zero action photos at Jarrod's, respecting the sorta rule to not stop and screw around on downhill trails.  The shuttle rides were only about seven to ten minutes up and the runs were on the short side (1.5-3 minutes), but had a decent enough variety of chunk, berms, jumps, drops, whoops, and other typical bike park features.  A few that were "me-sized," but many many more that were larger than my testicular appetite. 

My only injury (aside from bug bites).  Rotor burn from loading my bike on the shuttle in an inattentive manner.  I now have a decent Ashima Ai2 rotor brand on my forearm.  

Plenty of elevation to be had.  Odd to spend the day with the shuttle crowd tho.  I felt like I had more in common with the guy in gym shorts and hi-top Vans than I did the padded and tatted folks vaping their way back up the mountain every five minutes.  Still, we managed to eek out about four and a half hours worth of ups and downs before we needed to clean up and hit the road so we could find a place to sleep.

Dunno.  You tell me.

Day three.

After getting a decent night's sleep at Lake Powell State Park (good bathrooms, better dragonflies), we made our way to Coldwater Mountain.  This was probably the place I was looking forward to riding the most.  It did not disappoint.

Huck to flat action right outta the gate.

Why not?

I'd sorta planned a shorter route with any hope of getting a longer ride preemptively dashed by the rising temps, until...

Refreshments.  Just there in the woods.  Not just once but twice.

Hot Sprite, anyone?

With all the water in the world, we managed to squeak out a pretty healthy ride.

At least on three separate occasions, it felt like the downhills went on forever.  I dare anyone go to Coldwater and try to not have a best day on the bike.

Someone was having too much fun.  While Bill Nye was plugging and pumping, I was providing assistance and encouragement while also stepping on my glasses that I thought I put down in a safe place.  Dammit. 

From there, we headed over to Monte Sano for a planned camp-n-ride stay at the State Park.  We had an awkward conversation with the security guy at the main gate.  Something about rules and park rangers and that it's okay to sleep in your van as long as you have a tent so maybe we should head back into town and buy a cheap one to set up and then maybe the ranger won't be back tonight so maybe you'll be okay...

Just imagine a conversation similar to this:
Mont Sano in the morning.

Monday, June 17

Bird Dung in My Hand

Huh.  I needed to decide which bike to take on the van life adventure with Bill Nye next week.  

But I created my own problem.

I think I might want to go to Tour de Burg when I get back.  

But whatever bike I choose to ride on our trip will remain in the back of his van for awhile as he continues van-lifing around for a bit after I fly back from Bentonville.  Whatever bike I take on the trip, I can't have at Le Tour (viva).  I prefer my Radimus Meatplow V.... 8?  9?  (I can't remember and don't wanna look it up), but that's the bike I'm most comfortable on in the gnar and fun stuff.  I've said it before.  It's the bike that gives me the greatest joy when overall speed and efficiency aren't the goals.

So, I planned on taking the Epic EVO SS on the trip, mostly because it's the most "versatile," or so I thought, thus leaving the Radimus available for Le Tour (viva).

Run-on much?

Before this weekend, it had only seen forty miles in 2024, all in single speed mode.  Now?

I doubled the mileage this past weekend...

And I think I mighta decided to don't want this bike much anymore.

It's a great bike.  One of the fastest geared bikes I've ever had the joy to pedal.  So many PRs set and all my KOMs on STRAVA (if you believe STRAVA *cough* bullshit).  That said, outside of the trip to Colorado last year, I still don't feel the need or want or desire for gears 99% of the time.  The squish part is nice, except when it isn't.  This is the longest I would have ever held on to a full suspension bike since the 26" wheel days. so there's that.

So, poop.  Terrible time for rash decisions.  Seems odd that on my 55th birthday (today) the thing I want the most is one less bike... or at least a different bike... but that's another story.  A bike so similar to the other two that would remain, the redundancy is deafening.  Like, as in "which magic metal bike with either 0mm, 100mm, 120mm, or 140mm of travel would I like to ride today?" redundant.  So probably dump the frame... mebbe some pieces parts to enjoy something on the newer side?

Anyhoo, I'm outta town Saturday through the following Sunday, and quite possibly leaving on Wednesday after work for Le Tour (viva).  Don't expect a whole lotta blerhgage if I'm doing a turn 'n burn any time soon.  If I pull it off, expect a massive dump eventually.

And yeth, this would mean I'd be doing Le Tour (viva) on my 100mm travel Vertigo Meatplow V.7 (at least I can member that one), which would probably be some of the gnarliest shit I see all year.

I might be dumb, but at least I'm consistent.

The bird dung in my hand or the two bird shits in the bush?

Viva and also R.I.P.

Thursday, June 13

Mountain Cat '24

I hate any o'clock in the morning before 6:52AM o'clock. I'm not a fan of that either, but I have bills to pay and a mouth to feed.  I thought a 5:00AM wakeup would give a fully-prepared me enough time to choke back 750 calories of Entenmann's garbage food, sip 32oz of coffee, and take 1 morning constitutional.  782 successes and 1 fail.

We leave the BnB at 6:00AM, because we were only about a mile away, check-in was 6-6:30AM (I thought), and it's the most simple of processes ever before an event.  As soon as we pull up, I hear Emily calling out a small number of people, and I'm one of them.

"What did I do wrong?"

Apparently, I was one of the first to send in my mandatory Valentine's card to the trail crew and had earned the right to start whenever I wanted.  I could even grab a couple frands to join me.

"Watts... Dr Mike... let's go!"

Go we did... but Dr Mike had to grab his bike, and we didn't realize he wasn't with us until we dug our heads outta our asses much later.

The plus side was that we got an early start.  The downsides (of which there were many) was that we only had a vague idea where we were going, once others saw the early birds getting the worm, the fastest of the fast got on the trail and wanted around us outta towners ASAP, and I'm overwhelmed by the fact that I feel like I fell outta bed and into the woods.

My heart rate monitor is not working.  This shouldn't matter but it does.  I use it to keep myself in check so I don't blow myself up too early (spoiler alert, I will), and to make sure I keep up with the calories I'm burning (spoiler alert, I won't).

We had to correct our course a few times in the first couple of trail systems, but we make it outta Laurus Park and into Aid One in decent time.  You should never have expectations at this kind of event, but there were breakfast biscuits here last time, and now there are none.  I grab a handful of nuts and wait for Watts to collect IG content (that you'll see in a couple weeks... or not), and then we are off and rolling the long way out to Pocahontas Park.  Our taller than last year gearing has us not struggling to stay at the back of a pack but instead leading it. 

Which we don't like. 

We move to the side, drift to the back... and it always seemed like that would happen about thirty seconds from the next climb... meaning we would have to weave our way back up to the front and start all over again.


No matter how gassed I felt from taking 20MPH pulls on the road, the desire to go fast in Pocahontas is strong.  So.  Much.  Fun.  I love this place.

My only struggles are:

* I had memorized the trail order from the first route/email

*I had not memorized the trail order from the second route email or realized the second route I loaded was that different from the first.

*I knew we just had to make sure we rode all the trails listed.  Order didn't matter, but remembering all the trails when they all seemed like they're named Blue something or something Bell (or Belle)?

Either way, we are 99% confident we did it all, and our mileage matched up, so buenos.

We run into Dr Mike as we are leaving.  Apparently he'd passed us while we were titty-dicking around at Aid One.  He jumps in with us, and somehow I end up at the front taking pulls, which is something I'm terrible at, because I assume it's my job to go 110% or everyone behind me will hate me and leave a bad review on Yelp.  Our group goes from eight or nine to four or five on the way to Aid Four.  


More half beers are consumed.  Chain and pedals over-lubricated with Squirt lube (as well as my frame, rim, tire, and a large portion of the parking lot).  We head out through Richmond, negotiating the odd turns from alley to sidewalk to road to path to bum trail to the non-official aid station where Watts and I had our only honor of the day, first people to stop for a beer.  We are apparently at the back of the athletes and at the front of the party pace.

I almost missed the turn down into this happy beer stop.  Okay, I totally missed it... even tho I knew the map by heart... even tho Watts told me to member the creek crossing with the beers.

Photo cred Tori Duhaime
With an hour and a half of stopped time, we were definitely smelling the roses out there.

Over to the Poop Loop and the Saturday trail direction doesn't line up with the route, so my Wahoo angrily yells at me whilst Watts's just indifferently tells him that he's floating in two dimensional outer space for awhile.

Outta the Poop Loop, over the Yeet Ramp and the hot dog stop under the highway.  My favorite.

Then the slog over to the northeast side of the course, which usually has the most "urban" of all the trail connections.  Luckily, we fell in with a local single speeder and she guided us around all the trash piles, stacks of discarded tires, and rail road track bits.

The stop at Chorimbo was welcome, but I couldn't stuff any more hot dogs in me.  I settled for beer, Capri Sun, and chips, like an alcoholic toddler's lunch box.  I member the last twenty five or so miles from here to the finish pretty vividly from the year before, and it's a long stretch with punchy and also technical trails.  We got this... but it's gonna hurt something somewhere on my body.

Another loop in another park ridden in the wrong direction and back through Richmond to the punch(es) in the dick that are sustained on the slabby-do North Bank Trail back to Emily's house. 

Photo cred Tori Duhaime
Prison Doctor Mike "enjoying" his all over the body cramps and a Miller Lite.

Photo cred Tori Duhaime
Former PMBAR partner and Faster Mustache teamie, Zac.  He used to read this blerhg, but just to see if he got a mention and the associated Dick-Bump.  That's puke on his jersey.  His puke.  He won't see this.  lol

Photo cred Tori Duhaime
Watts pontificating his masterful plan to Instagram our way to 44th place.

Photo cred Tori Duhaime
I may look like a big (actually smole) old chode, but that is a genuine smile.  I don't think I'm doing enough of that lately.  I need to do it more.  I don't want to have to ride 109 miles to elicit such glee tho.  I'd told Watts earlier that we were having the best day of our year, and that just speaks more about how our year is going more than it does about that day.

Anyways, we did a thing.  We avenged 2023 Watts and Dick, and with great fervor and excite.  I am pleased and perhaps smiles will come easier for awhile.

Birthday Monday.  Fifty five.