Monday, September 15

2014 Pisgah Monster Cross

My heart rate is already around 185BPM around 4:55AM.  This is probably because I realize I'm hydroplaning down I85, watching my speedometer go from 65 to 85 MPH in a second.  I guess I'll slow down.

Get to the campsite, grab my bike, go-bag and emergency beer.  Head to the start.  Sign-in takes seven seconds.  I have an hour to kill.

Get dressed, drink one Busch beer, do little that could be considered useful or beneficial.

Line up late when we're called to the start and get a spot maybe a third of the way back in the field and next to my nemesis, Nick (insert nickname of the day here) Barlow.  He's swapped to smaller tires since I last saw him.  Damn.

Go.  I amble out of the start.  I'm with a group that isn't trying to be in the teeth of the aggressive neutral roll-out.  I give it enough to get with the back of the lead group.  I can see Bob Moss way out in front of everyone, making the turn onto the live course in the overall lead.  Shit gets real.

People are flying by me on the flat portion of 477.  A few single speeders go by, using their taller gears and little tires to fly past.  Some guy I don't know, Chris Joice, Scott Smith, and eventually when the climbing starts... Nick.  I keep him in sight, and when we get to the top of the climb, he reaches down to drink.  I attack.  He won't keep up on the descent.  I'm cheating with my big tires, low PSI and drooper.  Goodbye... or see you later.  I guess we'll see.

Down to the pavement on 276.  I put in some efforts and get to the rolling gravel of 1206.  I reel Scott and Chris back in.  I hear a rattle.  Brake line banging on the back of my number plate?  No.  Look again.  My caliper is falling off.  I stop and confirm.  Meh.

Back on the bike, I pull out my Tülbag, ignore the rattling until I get my 5mm in my teeth, and pull over to fix it.  Tight but rubbing the rotor now.  Better than falling off, getting wrapped up in my wheel and killing me, I guess.

photo cred: Rob Coulter
All of Team Dicky showed up for the race.

There's some more back and forth with Scott and Chris.  Where their gears and skinny tires are working for them, they put the hurt on me.  When those things matter less, I bury myself to take full advantage of my reduced disadvantage.  Skip the first aid station and I heap up towards the Parkway ahead of both of them, by my reckoning, in third place single speed.

On the gravel climb up Wash Creek Road, I notice that the sweat pouring from my helmet is brown.  100 miles of Shenandoah dripping into my eyes like a swamp water bucket challenge.  I coulda cleaned my helmet.  I didn't.  Some pointless back and forth with someone who didn't seem to want to ride behind me but not go faster than I needed to go... made my head hurt more than my legs.

The Parkway is hell with my squishy fat tires.  I've had to pee for the last hour.  I skip the second aid station but stupidly come off the Parkway to pointlessly roll through it.  Doh.  More climbing.  I ask a fellow rider for information I know I probably don't wanna hear.

"We're only at mile forty... still have to climb up through Graveyard Fields."

Shit.  I've been up there before, ironically with Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever.  I am now sad.  Good time to stop and pee.  Five minutes later, Chris Joice rolls by on his cross bike thing.  Bastard.  There is not enough gravel descending left for my bike to be an advantage.  I'm now more sad.

Down the pavement of 215, my knobs making a noise I've never heard before.  The pitch and rhythm changing as I lean into the corners at some speed I'm not comfortable with.  At the bottom of 215... The Hub/Pisgah Tavern aid station.

Jordan points out the quesadillas.  I shit my pants.  I shove half of one in my face before I see the guacamole.  My pants are shatten once more.  I plunge the remaining half of quesadilla into the bowl and abscond away with enough guacamole to feed a small village.  I don't care what happens from here on out.  My life is perfect.

Up the back of Gloucester Gap.  I don't ever remember being here before, but I probably have.  It's steep towards the end which would explain why if I had been here before, my brain was blocking the memory.  Once at the top, the long cakewalk begins.

Knowing that the SS'ers pushing bigger gears with smaller tires would be able to take minutes out of me here, I turn myself inside-out pumping like a sewing machine.  The finish was in sight, a couple riders closing in... too fast to be on single speeds.

They close the gap, make the pass, take the left turn into the finish, get to the three cyclocross barriers right in front of me... and then decide to walk over them, celebrating, me stuck behind their smiling selves.

 I consider throwing my bike, but then I remember this is cross and one should only throw beer.

Yeah, fourth place SS.  Just off the box.  The rain started coming down hard right after I finished...

and with a good eight to nine hours left to drink and a seemingly endless supply of beer, I'd say I won.

photo cred: Shop Kitty
And I beat Nick... so there's that.

He tried to blame his loss on an infected nose piercing.

That and his inability to ride bicycles very fast.

More things and stuff tomorrow.

Friday, September 12

My ass is like a tube of circus peanuts

Today is a good day.  Yesterday was just okay.

Of course on the day that I decide to ride the coaster brake bike, I'm busier than I have been in a long time.

Things that sucked:

Riding plastic flat pedals in a pair of Sanuks.

There's a reason that cycling shoes are stiff.  I used many muscles throughout the course of the day that are normally dormant getting in order to get this bike up and moving... speaking of moving.

This "bike" is a scientific anomaly.  Although the whole thing weighs less than 24lbs, the wheels and tires alone weigh 30lbs.  At least that's what it felt like when I was accelerating or climbing.  Yet despite their weight, they had no inertia.  Amazing.  Like a black hole that gravitationally pulls all my effort into a dark void of nothing.

Coming to a stop AND doing a track stand at the light.  Truly a skill to master.  Unless you've tried this feat on a coaster brake bike, don't judge me.  It's quite an awkward sammich to eat in public.

But the bike will do what I ask of it, and I still want to make some changes before it fills its official role as grocery getter/way homer/meeting shuttle.

So glad to be back on this today:

The Fastest Bike in the World, parked upstairs in my auxiliary office in the living room.  Part of the agreement when we moved into the new place.  I didn't wanna hike up and down stairs every day with my work related items.  A trip to ReStore and Bike Source later, and this is where the other magic happens, my job thing.  The Pie is a tolerant spouse indeed.

Anyways, I finally got a new 48T ring and 17T cog.  I should be rolling crunch-free all day, just in time to stop putting in extra miles for "training" purposes.  Brilliant.

I'm also ready for the Pisgüh Moünster Croüsse tomorrow.

King of Pisgah Series number plate not shown.
Ikon 2.2 tires... because they are the smallest thing I've got.  It's called a "mountain bike," and I only own "mountain bike tires."  I'm not buying a set of 1.8 rubbers for graveling, as I have no intentions to do more graveling in the future.  The 2.2 @ 19PSI beat the ever loving crap out of me last week at the Whitewater Center.  I can't wait to get a 2.4 or 3.0 back on there, proper style.  No idea what the bike weighs with this setup, and don't care, as it will never be seen again in this livery.  And yes, the drooper is still on there, because... gravel, I mean burrito.

For now, this will do.  Up at 4:50AM tomorrow, on the road at 5:00AM, unhappily headed up FR 477 @ 8:07AM. 

One more thing of note.  I have not taken this race very seriously.  The last time I really looked at the information on the site was back in 2012...

Side note:  That was the year my elderly canine had a medical emergency as I was trying to get out the door.  Fast forward to last night.  She let out a whale sound at 3:00AM that scared the shit outta me.  I sat up and put my hand on her side... waited to see if she was still breathing.  She was.  I think she likes to fuck with me.

Anyways, I only skimmed the information about the race and put this in my head:

"The riders will be treated to some of the highest elevation sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway and over 40 miles of the toughest gravel roads Pisgah has to offer."

And for some reason, that "40 miles" part stuck in my head.  It wasn't until last week that Namrita pointed out to me that the ENTIRE race is 70 miles, a piece of information I woulda known had I read the previous sentence on the site:

Up to 200 participants will be challenged to complete a 70 mile, 11,000’ of climbing loop of gravel and paved roads."

So there you have it.  Guess I'm riding 70 miles tomorrow.

I am sad boy

Who gives a shit indeed.

Thursday, September 11

I wasn't lying

My "dream bike" I mentioned.  I meant it.

Except it's not a dream.  It's reality.  I now haz it.

I couldn't get chrome like I wanted, so the only other option that could be considered was blackity black.  It was in stock at my LBS, I went in, and bought it (after much thought and consideration and research and self-justification).  Took it home and started tearing it apart.

I would finally get to use my limited edition stainless steel Cane Creek 110 that I've been sitting on for years.

Which surprisingly wasn't noticeably heavier than the POS OEM loose ball headset that was a bear to remove.

Starting weight:

After swapping some C+ parts for some B- parts I had in various bins and boxes:

A pound and a half for $0.  Easiest weight savings ever.

Why on earth would I want this in my life?

Simple.  I've got four bikes; two blinglespeeds and two fixed gear/brakeless.  All clipless.  I wanted something I can just hop on and go.  Normal shoes and a helmet.  To the grocery store, to Faster Mustache meetings, to events of an imbibing nature.  Something I don't really care much about or have too much money invested in.  Something that, after a hard endurance race, perhaps I can go to work and still easily recover.

My only issue* now is that I have way more pairs of clipless shoes than I do normal.  All my pedestrian footwear is either sandal/flip-flop oriented or worn-out running shoes.

I'll admit, the timing of this purchase had me thinking...

So many reasons to and not to.

In the end, I think my decision has been made for me.  I've not built up a $400 bike in awhile, let alone stuck a headset probably worth half its value into it.  My other issue.*  Dat headtube.  It needs faced.  I've got binding issues past 3:00 and 9:00.  I'm gonna have to do something about it before I ride it too much...

Of course I'm riding it to work today.  I need to start learning my coaster brake track stands ASAP for the derby at SSCBWC 2015.

Sad and happy that it won't see gravel on Saturday.  Sad because it would have made a neat story, happy because I spent my medical co-pay money on a coaster brake equipped bike.

Tuesday, September 9

The One Thing I Want to See at Interbike

I ride single speeds... most of the time.  Except when I want to throw money away on a bike with gears because I forgot how it turned out last time.  So Interbike 2014... what could they possibly show me in the world of all things single speedy that might excite me?

Probably nothing.

Another crabon single speed?  Whenever my brain goes down that road, it's when I'm thinking racer boi, "how light can I go?" thoughts.

This is already enough as it is, so if I wanted to go down that road, I would.

"A visual delight..." if Tupperware gets you mad horny.

In the end, it would be just a scosche lighter than the VerDickgo, what with it being built with 95% of the same exact parts.  Any smugness derived from riding a bike that's nth lighter than my last bike would vanish as soon as I catch a glimpse of my beer gut when I walk past a mirror.  So logical thought processes bring me to the conclusion that I am not ready for a crabon bike.

I want one thing from Interbike.  Something we are already so close to, but probably years away from having.

I don't know who made it first, Giro or Specialized, but the bib shorts with built-in pockets is wicked smart.


I bought the Giro bibs.  The idea of having my shit all baggy and banging around back there in the droopy pockets on the Specialized bibs took it out of contention.

Maybe it wouldn't be that bad, but I'm all about preconceived notions.

I love mine... except for the fact that slippery items such as gels, chompy nuggets, flasks, energy bars and their like tend to be tossed out... constantly.  No issues with the Tülbag or Fonbag, as they both have Griptech fabric on one side to keep them where they belong (not on the trail).

I was able to pull off all the rides on Mancation 2014 without a pack.  ALL.  On the bigger days when we were headed above the treeline, I strapped a small raincoat to my top tube with a Mütherload™ strap.

And with six pockets available, I had space for food, a Sawyer water filter, tools, a third bottle (if I thought ground water would be scarce), a camera, extra room for knee warmers and a hat when things warmed up... everything I felt like I needed without carrying a pack on my back for hours and hours.

Slenderizing.  Bonus, but with a penalty. 

You have to wear overshorts, baggies, humbles... whatever you want to call them.  Some guys don't want to wear just riding panties.  I get it.  But when it's hot?  WTF?  I don't want them, have no need for them, and would rather leave them at home.

And these baggies with cargo pockets?  Stupid for actual mountain biking.  Your argument?  Invalid.

But the undershorts are all mesh paneled, some with a barn door (which I never knew I needed before baggies), just not meant to be worn outside ever.

Pearlizumi is joining the club in 2015.

That granola bar isn't going anywhere.

Once again, it has a fly...  intended to be worn UNDER baggies.

The are offering this in 2015:

"Pearl Izumi also has a similar concept with some of its road bibs"

Doesn't look like as many pocketesses, precious.

I think what I want makes sense.  All these crazies doing multi-day events, wanting to be pack-free, yet have so many little things handy.  People like me, who wanna ride in Pisgah in the peak of the summer, still carry a camera and food, and not have soaking wet baggies keeping the heat in.  And if you want to wear baggies, so be it.  Nothing stopping you from wearing them over my insanely practical stretchy short pants.

I don't see the downside.  Just don't.  Even the roadies would probably like something similar, on those longer rides with cooler morning temps, running out of places to stick things.

Whatever. Stupid rant.  I'm not gonna hold my breath.  Wish in one hand, shit in the other, carry wet-wipes to clean the shit off your hands in your cargo pocket.

Monday, September 8

Learning from the mistakes of others

The weekend.  What to make of it?  Too late to train for Pisgah Monster Cross or too early to taper (whatever that really means)?

I decided to do what I used to do in order to get in shape, just months after I should have.

Saturday morning.  World Championship XC racing... not too tempted to get too far from the computer screen.  I swear I heard commentator Rob Warner say something about the Norwegian fans taking the day off from raping and pillaging.  Let's here Bob Costas say something like that in 'Merica.

I didn't just sit in front of the screen.  I piddled.  Long time problem of tire storage solved.

America gets a bronze, a 27.5 wins gold, the world ends.

Eventually, it was time to get with the training program.  A stupid ride out to the stupid Whitewater Center from my stupid home, through the stupid city, out the other side, 20 something miles of trails and back.  The kinda ride that leaves me feeling like so much ass... 55-60 miles.  Uninspired.

Joining me in something that could have went solo but ended up in a team effort, Gordon and Nick "The Face of Chaos" Barlow, my Monster Cross nemesis.

I might have gotten us somewhat lost on the west side of town.   Whatever.  I never said the plan was perfect and miles is miles, a calorie is a calorie... you know the rest.

It worked.  I felt beat at the end of the ride.  Single speed mountain biking in the city sucks, and if something sucks, it must be good training for gravel racing, which also sucks.

Sunday.  World Championship DH racing.  I pay slight attention at first whilst doing more piddling.  So many wrecks from the early starters, I feel like a NASCAR fan.

Who doesn't like a train wreck now and again?

Bleeding brakes.  Serious business.  Great idea to divide one's attention while doing it.  Pretty sure I solved my sticky lever issues.

Eww... keep in mind, it looks like this when new:

I guess waiting two to three years to do it might have pushed the limits of the fluid.  On the plus side, they worked remarkably well even when abused and ignored.

Rob Warner says something about Neko Mulally breaking a chain at the top of his run.  I go back to bleeding.  At the first time check, he's a second up on first place.

I set down the syringe and sit in front of the screen.  He ends up taking the lead... no chain.  Amazingly smooth run.  I haven't been that excited watching a moment in sports in, like, forever.  At least since the Earnest Byner fumble of '87

Honestly, such a smooth run.  Transcendent.

Back to bleeding, turning around and paying attention whenever the pitch or volume of Rob Warner's voice changed, which was every four seconds.  Something about watching pro downhillers... makes me want to be a better man on an even better bike.

Gee Atherton then Rat Boy.  Much excite.  Hard to not pull for the young nutjob.  He's killing it... until he killed it.

That moment when you realize you just broke your ankle on the last jump with the finish line and a rainbow jersey in sight.  Teachable moment.  Gee wins, Rat Boy goes to the hospital.

Ewwwwww.  Better image found this morning.

Race over, brakes bled, time to wash the Shenandoah 100 and Mancation 2014 off the bikes (insert Pro Gold promotional message here).

Find out that the Mancation did some more Mandamage to my downtube.

Steel is real and all that.  I remember hearing that one hit coming down Porcupine Rim.  Oh well.

Done with all the chores and spectating, it was time for pointless training ride number two.

A thirty miles quest for sandals and underwear for work on the Boredom Killer Freedom Machine (the name might get longer every time I ride it).  I don't like road riding in general, but when it has a destination or purpose, it seems less stupid.

A quick stop at Bike Source sorta on the way home, where I purchase $0 in items, arrange to borrow some lumens for Double Dare and ride my next dream bike around the shop.

I really wanted a Santa Crus V10, but when I saw that it breaks ankles, I decided this would be molar better for me.

Friday, September 5


Despite Wednesday's dreary blog post, I went to bed feeling pretty good about Thursday.  I had a blog post loaded in the chamber, ready to go for Friday.  No blog post for Thursday... Day One of Pisgah Monster Cross Crunch Training. 

I was in bed by 10:00PM, alarm set for 6:00AM.  A pretty stormy evening meant that the humidity should be knocked down significantly.  The plan was to ride the Misfit cross tire fixed gear Boredom Killer for two hours... wherever.  No way I'm riding the Fastest Bike in the World for two hours until I replace the crunchy drive train.  Those parts are on order... still.

I woke up at 5:43AM... stayed in bed till the alarm went off.  One hour for coffee, Pop-Tarts and constitutional rights, prep the Boredom Killer to head out the door.  7:05AM, five minutes late, but not bad for me.  Three turns from my driveway, my rear tire is flat. 


Turn around.  Ride  towards home.  With the compressor and spare tube handy, I'd only lose a few minutes.  Then the front went flat to match the back.

TEAM USA bottle from the bottle swap at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 Aid 6... reason enough to not quit at Aid 5.

It's a sign.  Toss the bike aside, fire up the computer, change the one word in Friday's post that will make it Thursday's, and consider taking up meth production as a hobby.  8:00AM, head back out the door on the Fastest (and Most Crunchy) Bike in the World.  Get around the corner and after riding through it, I see the mine field.

Staples.  Everywhere.  All over the tiny stretch of sidewalk that I use to connect the first two neighborhoods on my extended commute.  More than I have time to dispatch with just my bare hands.

Once I got to work, I remember something I posted on FaceBook last week:

Stupid karma.  It was also at this point that I remember that flat moment... the way it went down.  I rode it until I found a happy spot to swap the tube and cut my already short "training ride" down even shorter.  Later that night, I found out that the staple had poked many, many, many holes in the tube as I rode it flat, making it unrepairable.  Which means I probably did the same thing to the other two tubes.* 

So I'm not heading out early today.  I'm gonna assume if I did, it would go to shit from some reason.  I have two stupid rides in mind for the weekend, both during the heat of the day while the family unit is busy with other things.  That should be good for something or not at all... dunno.  If I've learned anything from Chris Horner's victory at the 2013 Vuelta, it's that it's never too late for a miracle

I just need to find some "help."

*Late edit:  Half-confirmed my theory.  One tube patchable, one tube perforated multiple times.  The good news being that my rubber band collection just got a huge boost.

Thursday, September 4

Thinking of a Master Plan

It is time.  Time for a new plan to replace the old plan that was a plan to not plan at all.  Nine days until the Pisgah Monster Cross.  I came up with half a plan already, a somewhat secret plan in that Bill Nye and Jordan already know about it.  They're in the circle of trust, so they won't spill any beans. It probably won't work anyways.

My goal is to not feel like shit.  Lofty, I know.  That and hopefully not get beat by fellow Faster Mustache rider and shit talker, Nick "Dip n Spray" Barlow, AKA: Sex Legs, The Face of Chaos.  He is young like toddler, strong like bull, painted like canvas.

He's fast on the climbs, like a ginger version of Nairo Quintana.

Fortunately, he descends like a ginger version of Nairo Quintana as well.

To beat him, I'll have to use my old man legs, race experience, and ability (and his inability) to not go to Snug Harbor the night before the race looking for P in the V action.  As far as nemeses go, he's about the best I can do.  Bob Moss is going to just crush all comers in the single speed field with some silly gear that doesn't make sense to human peoples.  Unless Bob Moss shows up missing a leg, I'm not even gonna try to hang with him.

So much climbing, so much riding so near all the pretty trails that are in the woods...

Most of all, I need to finish the race.  I want to finally sew the Monster Cross patch on my travel messenger bag that Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever gave to me in advance of the 2012 event that I never made it to because my elderly dog went all pseudo-strokey on me the morning of the race.

That and stay in the King of Pisgah Series... because I promised myself I would.

So many strong riders right behind me.  So many of them will be rocking gears and proper gravel grinding equipment as well.  I expect to drop faster than a monotone FBI agent without a parachute.

This weekend, I gotta ride.  More longerer than I have been going locally.  Saddle time being more important than heading to the Backyard Trails looking for geek air time.  Maybe even sort my bike out a week ahead of time and make sure it works before I try to race on it.


Probably not.