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Thursday, September 15

(insert creative title here)

Despite the shit ton (imperial not metric) of fuck all that's not going on here, I feel the need to shout into this vacuous space if only to remind myself that it's still here and my fingers have activities to do that aren't in my nostrils.

But what to say?

Self-deprecation would be my thing, if I didn't think I'd be the worst at it.

Self-aggrandization could be my thing, but everything can be fact checked pretty easily, and also why bother?  Sounds like a great activity for a politician.  Why be falsely braggadocios when I'm not running for any office other than the sexual congress... which would be a great band name.  Sexual Congress.

I don't have time to be self-obsessed when all I can think about is what a great athlete I am, how awesome my hair is, and how I wonder what it would be like to be someone else and just wanna be someone like me all the time.

Self-pity though?

I've backed into it in the same manner that anyone born after 1969 parallel parks.  

That would be reluctantly, haphazardly, and not without causing some damage.

Fucking Covid, man.

I still feel like shit.  That is to say, I feel more like shit than a normal 53 year old male with proclivities to stay awake watching shit TV too late into the night while holding a beer should.  My legs are not back under me, and sometimes when I'm riding, I feel like I'm still up in the thin air of Breckenridge.  For some reason, my calves started to hurt the other day.  Some reason?  No reason?  

I'm not a patient man, and without a certain injury that I can blame in a pin-pointed manner for my inability to do the things I love in the way I'm accustomed to, I want something to directly blame for my woes.

*side-eyes dog sleeping lazily on couch*

My life is quite satisfactory... dare I say great.  I have jerhb, wife, dog (albeit a lazy dog), most of my health, that great hair I mentioned previously...

It's just...

But as The Pie RN would say, "You're not living on a mud floor in a hut in Haiti."

So bear with me as I don't blerhg about racing and riding and how every bike should have a drooper post and AXS shifter curiosities and how my recent purchase of some brakes I didn't need means I should probably build a whole new bike around them and also full suspension plastic single speeds...

What is it... like two weeks and change before I'm supposed to do the Pisgah 55.5k?  And if I feel like I can't handle long climbs and even longer suffering, I can head over to Watts's neighborhood and do the King and Queen of the Watershed (again) and take my beating in shorter but much more intense doses?

I'm hoping to have my eureka moment this weekend... the same moment I was hoping for last weekend... and the weekend before.

Because if I continue this trend of riding less and over-consumption much longer, I'm seriously considering taking up bowling.  If for no other reason than everything I know about the sport is based on watching The Big Lebowski a billionty times, it looks fucking awesome, and I've already picked out my outfit.

Wednesday, September 7

Treeshaker 3/6 Hour Mountain Bike Challenge '22

I do not like waking up at 5:30AM to do a "local" event.  It's a small gripe, and mebbe I shouldn't have stayed up late watching YouTube videos with The Pie, but familiarity breeds contempt and all that.

It's just "six hours."

It's just the trails at "Anne Springs Close Greenway."

I couldn't tell how many folks were racing in the 6 hour solo single speed class, and I told myself it didn't matter.  My goals just being to ride my bike for a good part of the day and finish with enough miles to feel like I did a thing.  I noticed the riders last year that completed eight laps were for the most part "fast folks," so I told myself it would be a seven lap race for me... based on what I'll call "not really an ample amount of information."  At least I knew Kevin York was on a single speed as well, so no freebie "1st of one" podiums today.  To add to any concerns I might have, the 18 tooth cog I mounted but never tested is audibly groaning while rolling around the parking lot on my single speeded Epic EVO monstrosity.  Doh.

So line up a little further back in the pack than I did three years ago.  Tell myself that I'll get into the woods with the not fast-as-fuck crowd and be able to do the first couple laps at a reasonable pace just so I can see how the day goes and my body reacts.

Well, that thing they say about elevated heart rates post-Covid?  I guess it's a real thing.  I "feel" like I'm moving along at 160BPM+ but my Wahoo data acquisition device is deep into the 170s and even hits 183 a little over two miles into the race.  It's obvious my body is outta whack, but what does it even mean?  Am I above lactate threshold or does an elevated heart rate like this just mean my heart is working too hard while the rest of my body is on vacation?  

So goes the first four laps of the race.  I don't really know how it's going to be honest.  I've drank my two bottles of purple drank, and now I have to swap to some flavor I've never had before (purple drank was outta stock at the time)... and it doesn't sit well with me, palatably speaking.  I've also consumed all kinds of random gels that came home with me from Breck Epic.  I've also also stopped to lube my seat post between two laps when I didn't plan on stopping because it was behaving badly (guess I was overdue for a rebuild, doh).

And...

Four laps in and the math was certainly playing out in such a manner that I was going to finish the seventh lap (the last lap I planned to do) before 1:30PM... the cutoff for going out for another lap.

Poop.

I've only got another bottle of the same flavor I guess I don't really like and a bottle of water in my cooler.  This game of random gel Russian roulette was only getting more disgusting with the heat of the day.  I have no clue where Kevin is and no idea who else I might be racing and whether or not what I was doing to my heart was healthy and...

I start doing the math trying to figure out how much slower I need to go to not make the cutoff.  In retrospect, I do realize that if I'm only going to do seven laps regardless, doing them faster as opposed to slower makes more sense.

But I wasn't thinking sensibly.  What I was thinking is mebbe I cross the line at about 1:27PM, pretend to head out for another lap, and if someone comes in behind me, mebbe they will be discouraged from making chase... ?

I dunno.

What I did know was that my heart rate was still stupid high on the climby bits, regardless of how not hard I tried.  I'm thinking about my long term health and if what I'm doing is a "good activity."

Armed with a bottle of water and a couple gels that musta been mango/broccoli and caramel/dirt, I started lap six.  I was pretty alone for most of the lap, and when I came around for my seventh lap, I saw Dr Mike waiting for Bill Nye to finish his duo turn.

"Kevin just went out."

Unnh..

Either he's been in front of me the whole time, got around me while I was fiddling with my cooler or my sticky drooper, or I'm lapping him?

Oh, the things I don't miss about the "6/12/24 Hours of" racing.

I start stupidly chasing him down for a hot minute before I remember that I'm not wanting to do that.  I few miles later I catch him, and he is indeed a lap behind.  That takes some pressure off, although I'd told myself there wasn't "pressure" to begin with...

and then I catch up to local semi-nemesis, Robert Mobley... who's a nemesis in my my mind only, as he destroys me any time I go up against him in the local shart tarck races.  I let him know I'm in the single speed category, but that doesn't stop him from hitching on my wheel and holding on while I'm burying myself for no reason at all with two miles to go.

He comes around me as soon as we pop out of the woods and head towards the finish line, and we both cross under the timer with minutes to spare... if we wanted another lap... which neither of us did.

But Kevin also squeaked outta the woods in time and headed out for a seventh lap.  Oof.  Good on him for that.

1st SS and 4th overall is a good enough of an effort to prove to myself that I'm not ded (despite feeling quite ded).

To be fair to the race promoters, there was more to the "winnings."  Kevin had recently done me a super-solid, and I'm not gonna run a non-Maxxis tire, so the earnings were divided respectively.

I'm happy that I was able to do a thing and also finish a thing I'd previously left unfinished.  I'm hoping I didn't set back any of my recovery from Covid, but I did spend the next two days taking it easy (sleeping... a lot).  I realize now I probably need to see how these next two or three weekends go before I go doing anything else potentially stupid.

Tuesday, September 6

Treeshaker 3/6 Hour Mountain Bike Challenge '22: Pre-dumble

Unless you're living under a rock, you've already heard that the Shenandoah Mountain 100/100k that was supposed to happen last weekend was canceled on Wednesday (the day after my last post talking about going).

People asked me on Facebook why the race was canceled.  My succinct answer:

Poop.

Despite my frustrating recent bout with Covid and no clue as to what my body was ready to do, I decided to go ahead and register Friday for the somewhat local Treeshaker 6 Hour Race on Saturday. I mean, I was planning on being on a bike for six or so hours anyways, albeit the terrain couldn't be much more different.  Even if it wasn't going to be a big mountain experience like I'd been expecting, I decided I'd go ahead and race on the monstrosity that is/was my Epic EVO single speed squishy bike...

Although I swapped the crisp 19 tooth cog out for an older 18 tooth cog... and never bothered to give it a test spin... because... burrito.

It's a six hour race.  What could proper preparation matter?  Some bottles, a few gels, a clean kit... simple stuff.  

This race had been kinda hanging over my head anyways.  I'd entered it kinda last minute three years ago, and this was the event that made me realize I really needed to start doing some kind of exercises to strengthen my lower back.  I bailed after only two laps due to some flaming hot pain in my lower back.  While I consider it a valuable life experience that has changed how I approach keeping my body moving, I was never really stoked on the idea that I quit a six hour race not even a fourth of the way in.  I coulda finished, but it woulda been awful... but I don't like having my last time doing any event ending in a DNF.

So entering the race was a two-fold purpose decision.  I wanted to end my time with the Treeshaker solo event (it used to be a 12 hour race back in the day) with a finish I felt good about, and I also wanted to see how my post-Covid health is currently doing.  I hadn't really tested my body out since Breck Epic, so why not?

Although I don't really want the answer to that question.

Tuesday, August 30

What's news?

Obviously everything was going as planned, right up until I figured out that I had Covid after I got back from Breck Epic.  I know it doesn't sound like me, but I had A PLAN.  In the lead up to Breck, I started doing shrooms about a month or so out.

What Shroom Sport is supposed to do:

What did I think it do?

I have to say, that's the best I've felt day in, day out at the Breck Epic.  I did mention that I limited my time above my lactate threshold while out on the course (instead of throwing pointless haymakers at clouds), but I'm also more than a decade older than I was the first time I did it in 2009.  

Mebbe after nine times of coming from 750' above sea level and riding at altitude with basically zero days to acclimate to 10,000'+  makes me a low level expert on what worked and didn't work (for me).  Each scoop/serving of Shroom Sport also has 23 grams of protein, making it that much easier to just drink it as a recovery drink every evening.  The taste was palatable enough (like a nutty milkshake) that I didn't have to force myself to drink it, although once I got Covid and everything tasted like pocket change, I was forcing myself to consume any liquid or solid for a few days.  

Even beer tasted bad.  Beer.

Jambalaya was okay tho.

That said, and with no better "plan" for the next one and a half months that I had "planned" for, I'm keeping the hammer down with a daily dose of Shroom Sport until the Font Flora Barnburner.

I did a lot of the right things for the first three or four days of Covid.  I was as productive as possible... from the couch.  

If you lie down amongst my laundry, you become my laundry.

I watched Syd and Macky's YouTube review of Covid.

Obviously, they are real "athletes" and had a coach to talk to and power meters with numbers to let them know how their bodies were actually reacting and everyone's got a different Covid story to tell at this point...

That didn't stop me from going down some dark and pointless roads.

I mean, fuck it.  Where there once was a grand plan, through Breck right up to the Shenandoah Mountain 100k and beyond, there is now no plan.  I had all the benefits of pre-Breck prep, five (supposed to be six) days of riding above 10,000', naturally boosted blood from a week up high, but then Covid... but with it "forced recovery" I woulda otherwise not taken...

So where does that leave me, other than with a (still) bad taste in my mouth?

Who even knows?  I rode my mountain bike a couple times towards the end of the week (after two days of not touching a bike and one short Sad Dad ride), and I didn't notice any spikes in my heart rate or unusually high heart rates at... what I call perceived (hard but not peak) efforts.  Also, my resting heart rate is pretty much where I started before I got sick.  Sure, I've had some coughing keeping me up at night, until I remember my doctor prescribed something to reduce that "tickle sensation," and then I take it and... okay.  I'm also tired, like fall fast asleep tired, after behaving like a normal human.  As in a dead-to-the-world hour long nap after I rode nineteen miles Saturday.

Since that leaves me with no clue how my body will act almost two weeks out from my first symptoms, and all my best plans and intentions are out the window, and because I've wanted to try the Epic EVO as a single speed since I got it, why not now?  Even if my body decides it doesn't wanna work on the climbs, at least I'll have the most fun possible coming down.

Mounted my not-so-awesome but what I had laying around bell to the right side so my thumb has something to do all day long.

By no means do I think 53 year old post-Covid me will have a shot against the likes of Johnny Hamboogers, who will be riding a similarly stupid bike, has just got done with the Great Divide and a SS win at the 300 mile Garvel Worlds, and is also one year older than my youngest kid.  He's even got a mullet now, and has passed out in a ditch, so obvs really leaning into the single speed culture.

This is not a long term goal nor a last ditch effort to fall in love with yet another full suspension shifty bike before throwing it in the virtual front yard with a for sale sign on it.

I still like this bike a lot, and I can't have that much overlap in my "quiver."  Things degreased and (where appropriate) sonic cleansed.  I've even already put a new cable on the shifter for when it all goes back together.*

When's that?

I'd say right after the Pisgah 55.5 K on October 1st.  Why not shit my dick off riding down Turkey Pen, Pilot Rock, and Black Mountain while I have this bike set up as a stupid single speed?  Then again, the first thing I did when I got back from Breck (before my positive Covid test) was to put the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 back together, clean it up, and get it ready for the Shenandoah Mountain 100k... and that worked out so well, right?

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.  I think Charlie Brown said that.

So unless things change... that's the plan.  Until I come up with another plan.

TBH: If money were no object, I'd throw down for some AXS and make this as easy as a few turns of a wrench and the pop of a quick link.  That is, f I wanted to go back and forth down the road.  Which I don't know if I wanna do.  But it is a lot cheaper than my current fantasy, which at my age is sadly a lot less David Lee Roth video and more just a 53 year old who wants a lifted Mazda Miata or a slammed Suzuki Samurai.

Thursday, August 25

Breck Epic '22: Stages... dunno. Who's even keeping track?

Let's just call it the final stage... although there's the infamous Stage Seven which is held on the fart-infested dance floor at a dive bar called The Gold Pan.

Stage Five (but mebbe Six?): Gold Dust

Once again, we start in waves of ten... or so.  Fellow condo-mates Colleen (1st place female SS) and Matty Crawdaddy have moved themselves into my wave so we can ride a solidarity pace on the final day.  I personally have nothing left to prove, and fully expect to drop back a place or two, as I'm within striking distance of one or two other riders.  Finishing and having a good time making okay bike race is all I care about.

I end up kinda doing my own thing on the long road climbs.  It's easy for me to climb when my heart is only running at 150BPM, but going any slower makes it difficult to stay on top of the gear.  Being slightly ahead of Colleen and Matty at the top of Boreas Pass (twice) meant I had plenty of time for the PBR hand ups.

Back down the mountain and drive into the fall line trail called Broken Wheel...

which happened to be quite the nasty ditch.  OG Pisgah fan bois would love it.  OG Pisgah fan bois love their ditches.

Despite holding up a few times for my little frands, and also despite two stops for PBRs, and also also despite finishing second from last on the final stage, I somehow moved up to 7th overall in the single speed field?

Stage racing is always confuse.

Broken Montana was kind enough to drive a bottle of tequila down to the finish line.

From there. the blurring began.

Back to the condo, pack my bike whilst still chamois'ed up.  Shower, eat, crack a beer, pack my bags... head up to the venue tent to grab my aid bag, and...

discover the leftover hand up beers and aid station gels and decide that if someone is going to put them to use, it might as well be us.

The banquet occurred with some of the usual shenanigans.  Fewer objects were tossed about tho.

I'm sure Lachlan has plenty of pictures of himself.

FWIW: every time since the first time Flesh Storm happened "naturally" in 2015 with DAN DURLAND and myself, we have consulted with the women SS'ers to be sure they're all on board.  What started as a goof on the concept of "podium girls" at a time when road cycling was just starting to grapple with how not okay it is to treat women as a decoration in men's cycling has now morphed into this organized chaos.  Truly a tribute to how bad ass these women really are (Colleen woulda been third place in the Pro Women category based on her time).  Will it even happen if certain people don't show up next year?  Who knows?  Who cares?

Anyways, fueled by all the stupidity to go further into the night, we eventually headed to The Gold Pan.

Might be a bouncer talking to promoter Mike Mac about mebbe not being jubilantly hoisted in the air by racers.

That's me in a Mike Mac/Nick sammich...

And the evening ended when Nick and I essentially "closed" the bar down while actually looking for his phone and wallet with the big bouncer until 2:00AM when someone back in the condo answered Nick's phone and we found out he never had either "lost" thing in his possession.

I assume the cops in Breck deal with chaos worse than us every night of the week.  The streets were alive with excite on the walk (sorta towards) home.

And after very little sleep and a long day of travel, and then a day of undoing all the things, and then a day of going back to work and reality...

I almost made it through 29 months of the pandemic without getting my ticket punched.  No idea where I got it, and honestly, what difference would knowing make?  I'm fortunate that my workplace still gives us some Covid PTO that doesn't impact my actual PTO.

So now I'm sitting on the couch, taking my meds, and crossing my fingers that I'll be able to pull off the Shenandoah Mountain 100k in a little over a week... sorta but not really straight off the couch.  Mebbe my Covid-related "intestinal distress" will get my down to fighting weight?  

Mebbe.

Wednesday, August 24

Breck Epic '22: Stages Three (no), Four and (sorta?)

Woke up on day three sorta kinda hoping that the third stage would be canceled.  I mean, I've been at the Breck Epic now multiple times when things have turned to shit up high.  Lightning, hail, bone-chilling cold... Besides, I'll take an extra credit for the one stage I actually finished last year.

I've had my fair share.  Even after Stage Two this year, I mighta got off the trail before the rain, but I got dumped on during my ride back down the mountain to the condo, a reminder that even a bluebird day can turn on a dime.

They went ahead and canceled day three.  The good news is that a reprieve meant that we could focus on hanging out, hot tubbing, and putting our legs up.  I spent many a minute in my rat hole with the Squeezy Leg Bags running.

Ignore the Orange Seal tubeless fluid.  I swear it wasn't mine.  Nick owned that corner of the dresser.

The other good news being that they were not going to take the Guyot Stage away from us, but it would replace the Aqueduct Stage that gives me feels of meh.  I mean... it's okay... but it's no Guyot.

Stage Three (now Four?)

Gawtdamm I love this day.  It just feels so good... even the ride outta town and into the backcountry feels good.  I got jammed up in a large group coming down Little French Gulch... which was mebbe a good thing being that I've let it hang out a little too far here in the past and have flatted three outta eight times down it.  To make things worse, I saw someone's fancy glasses smack dab in the middle of the trail, and since I wasn't getting down at my max speed anyhoo, I stopped and picked them up... and instead of doing the smart thing and sticking them in my jersey pocket, I did the rest of the descent with them dangling outta my mouth.  My gag reflex being what it is, I was heaving occasionally and regretting often.  Down at the first aid station, I pitched the glasses to a volunteer, hopefully (eventually) reuniting someone with their eyewear that evening.

The following two descents were pretty much everything I come back to Breck for after all these years.  Insane speeds, tech gnar, steeps, and occasionally passing befuddled riders.  I ended up catching first place female single speeder Colleen at the last aid station and kinda went back and forth with her all the way to the finish.

That was a good day...

Until...

I was getting ready to go to bed, and I decided to look at my bike one more time.  I noticed a black line on my bottom bracket cup, and tried to wipe the grease away... but it wasn't grease.

Poop but also of course.  This explains the noise that had been getting louder every day.  Fortunately Rob had brought a couple (really?) spare bottom brackets with him, so after sticking a Hellbender 70 in my bracket hole, I was back up and ready for the Wheeler Stage by 9:45PM.

Stage Four (but really Five?)

Wheeler.  What could possibly be a better follow up to Guyot than the monster known as Wheeler.  We started in groups of ten to spread out the field before the many, many miles of hike-a-bike over the pass and also around Mount Gawdammit.  I gave 'er a bit on the five mile lead up to the big walks, being that this would really be the only chance to move up until we got all the way down to the second aid station.  I saw a guy take a random topple in the swampy rock section where Peter lost his phone one year.  I asked him if he was okay, and he kinda shook his head in a bunch of directions.  More up and over Wheeler.  Eat the bacon, drink the whiskey, see Montana lying there looking all resplendent.  I assumed he was waiting for his better half in close proximity to said whiskey and bacon, but I was wrong.  He had opened up his kneecap, and was waiting for... the right moment... to ride down the mountain and to a hospital?

Anyways, my ride down the mountain was less eventful, and the traverse over the Peaks Trail went well enough, and I... moved up to exact mid-pack in the now Montana-less field.

Which is fine.  Just fine.

Tuesday, August 23

Breck Epic '22: Stages One and Two (kinda?)

Gads.  Breck Epic.  Almost the same thing year after year yet always something different.

I only got into town the day before in time to pick up my registration stuff, build my bike, and ride over to the grocery store.

Thanks to Dahn's request for $20 worth of margarita mix, I only had room for six shitty breakfast burritos, two family size bags of tortellini, a jar of sauce, two cans of Pringles, a six pack of beer, a half gallon of milk, and some fried chicken.  It was a poorly executed meal plan, to say the least.

At least my bike was squared away... but not really.

Although I'd almost exclusively rode the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 since mid-June, and it had performed flawlessly the whole time, it was making a hell of a racket when I rode it around the parking lot behind the condo after I got it assembled.  Dammit.  Some Rock N Roll lube applied liberally to the bottom bracket/crank/whatnot interface seemed to quite things down.

Stage One: Pennsylvania Creek

How do I remember so little about the stages of the Breck Epic... at least as far as forward thinking familiarity goes?  I mean, when I see it, I go, "Oh yeah."  Otherwise... ? 

I had decided before this stage even started that I had a handful of what one might call "goals."

* Finish.  Last year's DNF/crash out really put me in a sad place.  I don't wanna revisit that experience.

* Stay healthy.  No overdoing it.  I don't wanna come home all beat up with cold sore and bruises.

* Gain some altitude fitness for the Shenandoah 100k without creating so much fatigue that I can't recover from it in two weeks.

* Enjoy some of the most excite trails in the USA.

I also decided that I was going to use my Wahoo data acquisition device to meter my efforts and also my ego.  I'm pretty sure that my lactate threshold sits somewhere in the low to mid 170s.  I'd allow myself a visit or two above that every day, but any big efforts to make a pass or clean a section had to be limited.  This would mean walking sometimes when I didn't feel like it, and keeping my place in a conga line (or giving it up) if it means I'd go anywhere close to my redline.

To be honest, I felt like my efforts on the day (or lack thereof) would have me solidly in the DFL position in the single speed field.  I've never tried to restrain myself in such a manner.  I'd resigned myself to accept whatever my suppressed ego would allow.  Somehow, after four hours and twenty nine minutes of "effort," I crossed the line in 10th outta 16 in the single speed field.

I laid my bike down in the grass and watched out for my fellow Charlotte riders to finish until the sky started to drizzle and sent me packing.  As soon as I picked my bike up and headed back to the condo, whatever noise from whatever bike part started up its cacophonic annoyance.  More lube should fix it, emmaright?

Stage Two: Colorado Trail

Unlike the night before Stage One, I pumped the beer brakes kinda hard the second night.  I'm aware of the detrimental effects of alcohol at altitude, and being that my priority is here is the riding first, the other shit second, I gotta do what I gotta do.

So I ended up sleeping like total ass BTW.

This is the stage that I crashed out on last year.  It was one of the worst wrecks I've ever had in recent memory, so this day was going to be a mental hurdle.  Nothing like a reminder that in twenty plus hours of riding, all it takes is a split second of bad judgement to end it all.  I got past the part of the course where I touched the floor last year, and I was greeted with some super bueno hero dirt all day long.  Granted, my bike was now making an insane duck sound at random moments that had me grabbing my cranks, wheel, or whatever else and giving it a good shake, pinch, or squeeze trying to find the culprit.  I guess I need "more lube."

And mebbe, just mebbe slow and steady is working for me as I ended up 9th on the day.

There was a threat of big rain and lightning up high above the tree line the next day and a possible reroute, delayed start, or mebbe even a cancelation of the Guyot day... my favorite day of the week.  So...

Time to drown sorrows and completely tear apart my bottom bracket and repack the bearings and swap out a pretty clapped out chain ring and..

Sleep in?  An update text was to be sent at 8:00AM the next morning.