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Monday, May 2

DuSomething

I had options for the weekend.  None that truly pulled me in one direction or the other.  Possibility of big rains on Sunday meant I had to make the most of my Saturday.  Then I got a text from Chase.  DuPont.  With a cast of characters I've mostly never had the chance to ride with even tho we roll around in the same circles.  I don't know my way around DuPont, so when I get the chance to ride with someone who does?  In.

 Following Paul of the Dale Earnhardt Lollipop Squad up one of the first climbs.

You know when you meet a Duane or a Dwayne, you never think to ask him which he is.  It doesn't seem relevant at the time, but when you sit down and write about him, it does.

Chase, the giver of options and savior of weekends.  I'm used to him destroying me when we race short track together, so it was nice having him in sight for more than two minutes.  He's a recent plusser convert, and was baptized with a sweet sidewall rip in his rear Schwobble tire.

My stem was crooked.  I knew this before the ride.  I did nothing about it.  As I sit here writing about it, I can see the bike across the room from me... stem still pointed the wrong way.

Noel "The Thrilla Vanilla Killa Gorilla" Kirila said Jason tries this every time.  Slicker than anyone would ever imagine.  He always ends up wet.  Still tries anyways.  I made it from the other direction later in the day, and I can say that I don't think I'll feel the need to break my elderly hip in the future.  One and done.
   
I've been here multiple times.  I've gotten up to the top from every way imaginable.  I have no idea how to get here on my own.  We went down in a direction I had never been before, and I have to say that the plusser tires may have found their happy place on the Stickle.

This guy was up there.  Not sure how he did it, because I heard he can't climb at all.  He couldn't look up from the ground and risk looking at grown men wearing Lycra.

 Everybody takes this photo.  I am also everybody.

Extreme Tomato Shirtless Club for Men sighting in the parking lot.  He pulled into the lot with his prodigy on a tag-along.  Baller father son stuff.

Jason is the only member of the Shirtless Club for Men with brokeback surgery scars.  I think this makes him president or something.

I swear I ran into every single person I know on the trail.  All I can say is... strange.  Just strange.

Friday, April 29

Tightening Up

In the world of insignificant (to you) but significant (to me) changes, I'm pitching the loose Allens in my Tülbag for some Original Fix It Sticks.   Why?

I'd like to claim weight as the reason, but even I'm not (entirely) that anal.

Claimed weight: 55 grams Actual weight: 51 grams

Little Hardware doesn't actually claim weights on their Allen wrenches... Actual weight: 56 grams

No, that's not my scale.  It's a never-used piece of equipment in the corner of our office at work collecting dust.  I've threatened to steal it, but horking something from work is considered a firing offense, regardless of whether or not anyone uses it (except for weighing bike stuff).

Anyways, why swap?

I still retain the 4, 5, and 6mm that I've always carried, but I gain a T25 bit.  The only time I've ever needed one was the Tahoe Sierra 100 back in 2008, when my four of my rear rotor bolts wiggled out (assembling a bike for a race while on the phone with a loved one hundreds of miles away is never a good idea).  I'm still going to retain the 8mm nubbin I keep on me in case a crank arm or pedal comes loose... not that it's ever happened.

Except now I'll keep it handy here, with the chainring bolt that is totally incompatibru with my Race Face Cinch cranks but with the spacer it can (and has) bail out a friend who's missing some of his/her bits (1x or other).


Another reason is that sometimes, I find myself fishing for the tiny Allen keys.   The Fix It Sticks are much easier to find and grab with gloves AND, since I'll always need two to make them work, I'll just grab them both.  They'll also be orange, so they'll be easier to find/harder to leave behind... like the time my 5mm (with the elusive 8mm bit) spent the night in the woods in the proximity of right here:

Something nifty I saw on the Fix It Sticks FaceBook page the other day was that soon this will be available:


"The product comes with one set of Original Fix It Sticks and the mounting bracket, and is regularly $24.99. Ship date is estimated to be 7/15/16. Pre-order special: 20% off of our Original Fix It Sticks with Mounting Bracket (with promo code: bracket)."

So you can't have it now, but if you're the type that wants your tools even handier... get it later. Myself?  I couldn't deal with my overwhelming desire to keep them clean over keeping them über-handy.

Anyways...

As always.  Busy time of year.  Mayor's Ride to Breakfast this morning.  Don't think I've ever missed one yet.  Tomorrow, I've got to try and get a big ride in before heading out to watch the Charlotte Criterium... and they're having a 2/3 Category this year at 5:00PM?  Gonna be hard to get back from a long ride in time to pregame for that.  Then it's the one week countdown to my favorite race of the year, PMBAR.  I CAN'T WAIT FOR ALL THE EXCITE.  Me, Watts and the woods for eight to twelve hours of biking, hiking, talking about our mutually shared sadness regarding the current state of affairs of all the things, and discussing whether or not Gordon Wadsworthless's mustache is real or a sad lip toupee.

 Obviously a lip toupee tho.

Wednesday, April 27

Droop, There It Is: Pt 2

I can't believe it was that long ago, but remember when I wrote that post/whined about droopers being used/not used at the highest level in UCI XCO racing?   August 2014.  That long ago.  Well, this past weekend, Julien Absalon got on the Elite Men's podium with a drooper post.

Here's Julien looking resplendent while rolling droopy.

photo cred: AMB Mag
His bike, being all non-droopy and forlorn.

Significant?  Indeed.  Not the first time an Elite rider got on the podium with a drooper though, as Tanja Zakelj drooped her way to second in Windham in 2014.

Absalon needs to pull out all the stops to shut down Nino Schurter's advantage going downhill.  Nino's got crazy talent, and he's very entertaining to watch.  He's like the dirt version of Peter Sagan (assuming Peter Sagan doesn't become the dirt version of Peter Sagan himself*... or not).  I mean, people love Nino so much that they watch his crosspump videos.

Crosspumpers love watching other crosspumpers crosspump.

Absalon has always been able to challenge Schurter on the climbs.  What's amazing is that this past weekend in Cairns he finished only 27 seconds back in third place after he flatted, lost an Allen key in the pits while addressing the issue, and spent up to a minute looking for it?!?!

One can say that had he caught Schurter, the gauntlet woulda been thrown down, and Nino woulda unleashed his crosspump super powers.  If you watched the race unfold, he was having quite a good time throwing whips over the doubles once he had a decent lead established.  Let's just say he had some energy to spare... but still?

This is what I said almost two years ago:

"... say you are a rider who is a strong climber but lacks the ability to really rail descents and tackle the gnar at speed. Drop the post, and now you're changing your approach on turns and getting your weight back in the nasty stuff."

Nino's bike is off the deep end when it comes to being highly specialized (not Specialized) for his needs.  27.5" Dugast tubulars, Twinloc on-the-fly adjustable suspension travel... he was the only rider on SRAM's new 12 speed Eagle drivetrain.  He's not afraid to do what he feels right for him to have the best bikecycle possible to make great bike race.

Absalon is aware of where he is losing time AND he's willing embrace some technology that others won't even consider because of weight (or lack of understanding).  If you don't know your history, this is amazing, being that long after the other pros had gone to disc brakes, he clung to V-brakes like a lobbyist clings to a cause (as long as there's a lot of money attached to it).

And Nino's feels on droppers (as of right now, from BikeRadar):

"All the dropper posts you get are too heavy or just not for cross country," he goes on. "I’m sure the future will have these, but they’re (currently) too slow, too long and you need to put your body weight on them. For real cross country they must be faster, lighter, easier and shorter."

I realize he's going to be (slightly) limited in which drooper he might be allowed to use and/or test based on sponsorship.  To say they're too slow (c'mon, I've ridden some real taint blasters), too long (some are as short as 50mm) and the "body weight" thing?  Spend enough time on a drooper and it all becomes second nature.  I know a fair amount of people who've only tried them for a short period of time and written them off entirely.  They take some getting used to, and I truly believe until you ride in a place where they really shine, you'll have trouble catching on.

But when you do give it a chance, it becomes as acceptable as tubeless wheels/tires, disc brakes and all manner of other things that we just take for granted now.

I know he was the 2008 World Junior mountain bike champion already, so pipe down.

Tuesday, April 26

Charity Balls

Not wanting to bust balls, but remember this whole Industry Nine raffle benefiting the PA Interscholastic Cycling League thing? It's still going on (and will be until June 3rd). All the exhausting details are here.   The short of it is you donate at least $10 for two entries into the raffle.  Each additional $5 gets you one more entry.  Give as much as you want, just keep it in $5 increments, okay?

As of right now, only Justin Lindine has raised more than me. 

Not sure what he's got to give, but I know what I'd want if I gave him $10.  Help me beat Justin, if for no other reason than I can't do it on the race course.  Here's where you click to cough up the dough and (mebbe) win some Industry Nine hubs.

Anyways, back to the business of me and all the wonderful things that happen in my life.

New ESI grips and Maxxis tires... smells like the "season" is truly upon us (or at least me).  I pretty much burnt up the Ardent Race that was on the back for almost a year.  Got my money's worth.

I have to admit, it's still difficult to look down at the Ardent 2.4 up front and not think that it looks diminutive.  That 2.8 Rekon did a number on my perspective.  For sure, the 27.5+ tires were missed while riding 30+ miles of trail at the US National Whitewater center the other day.  They sure seem like way more fun and, dare I say it, "flickable?"  I might have to give them another whirl in the mountains when I get time... June?  Mebbe?

The other thing.  Somehow on three of my last four mountain bike rides, I've had a slow motion wreck with lasting consequences.  Two weeks ago in Pisgah, I was seeing how much traction I could get with the 2.8 tires crossing a muddy bunch of logs at an angle.   I ended up landing with the end of my handlebar spearing my lower abdomen.  Last weekend, I went back-to-back with mishaps.  I fell over at zero miles an hour making a slow turn on Lower Trace without noticing the softball-sized rock my front wheel was on at the time... until it shot our from under me.  Down I went, hyper-extending my left thumb in the process.  That's my drooper digit.  Damn.  The next day, I decided to ride a log pile at the Backyard Trails in the reverse direction... despite the fact that I had to do most of the ride with my thumb draped over the bars.  I was on the approach when this decided to grab my left pedal/crank arm.

My bike's forward momentum was halted.  Mine own was not, and down I went, dinging my left quad on the stem as I went over the front.

My thumb pain is the only thing that's still lingering in a lifestyle altering way.  I did most of my riding this past weekend with it hanging over the bar.

Hyper-extended digits are pretty much right up there with paper cuts in annoyance caused by self-inflicted stupidity.

And hangovers.

Monday, April 25

Doing good activities

The only thing I thought I'd want to do this past weekend was my somewhat more than annual ride from my house to the US National Whitewater Center, all the trails, and back.  Always seems like a good activity when pursuing fitness.  The downside being that the Tuckfest was going on, what with its running, cycling, and water related events... and the music and food and beer that always seems to bring every mother tucker out of the woodwork.

Woke up Saturday, and the trail status... closed.  Decision made for me. I'll just ride the Backyard Trails instead.  A couple hours later, status changed.  Open.  Shit.  Look at the event schedule and figure out if it's gonna interfere with me riding all the trails.  Looks like I can get around the civilians.  Guess I'm going.

Out the door at 11:30.  Ran into Brent from Big Pig Racing on his way to look at a couple Chevelles in a junkyard.  We kept each other company at a single speed friendly pace until we had to part ways.  Then it was back to riding right into a headwind by myself.  Seventeen miles after leaving the house, I hit the access trail at the front of the park.

Jumped on the new Academy Trail first because I couldn't wait to see the finished product (I'd ridden it when it was 80% finished).  Beautiful.  An incredible addition.  Now the rest of all the things.

I didn't have any idea how many miles of trail would be open.  The last few times I'd been there, this/that/the other was shut down for whatever reason.  Not this time.  Everything was open.  It was a long day, and at points, I wondered why the hell I was doing this.  Fitness.  The "season."  Why not?

I finished up all the things feeling pretty spent.  Sat down in the grass by the water fountains and ran into Chris W. from my neighborhood.  We've lived less than a mile from each other for close to (or more than) a decade.  Never ridden together once.  Odd.  We discussed this anomaly, and I explained that most weekends I have plans or an entire lack thereof.  I don't want someone waiting on me to figure out what I'm doing at the last second every other weekend.  Thus, I ride alone on those occasions.

Anyways, long slog home.. but with the wind at my back.  My ride took me right through the center of Uptown, and who knew there was a playoff game going on?  Not me.  Traffic.  On my mountain bike ride.  Straight through my "office."

Meh.  Past The Spoke Easy, no familiar bikes outside.  Same at the Common Market.  I guess my celebratory beers will be drank alone when I get home.

On Sunday, I offered to go to the greenway with The Pie and support her on one of her longer runs.  Carry liquid refreshment and kinda show her how to get around on all the trails.  I suppose this was a proper spin after a hard day in the saddle.  Dunno.  Never done it before.  My couch is just that comfortable. It was strange just soft pedaling all around and looking at things I'm normally cruising by at Mach 3 on my early morning pre-work jaunts. 

But pleasant.  I can see why people just ride slow sometimes.  Not all the time tho.

Friday, April 22

That'll do, bag

Always looking for a reason to talk about straps, look at these new colorways!

The only thing people from Colorado love more than their home state is letting other people know that they are ColoRADoans.  The patriotic Daredevil... if you're an American Gladiator or Super Dave Osborne impersonator, this one is for you.

The fish thing?  I'm not one to find pleasure in making fish late for something, but if it floats your boat (or your strange rubber pants), then have at it.

I moved into my new right shoulder specific Chrome bag on Monday.  I understand some people may not understand "moving" into a new bag, but my 8:30-5:30 Mon-Fri life is in this bag.  I need some things handy, some things just in case, my phone where I can reach it but where it doesn't fall to the ground when I swing the bag around, a place for my coozie...

There seems to be a dearth in decent/handy ways to carry a cell phone on a messenger bag.  I blame it on the way communications have changed for messengering over the last two decades.  I started with a gigantic two-way radio back in '96.  I moved over to a flip phone in '97, something more like an ice cream sandwich with buttons a couple years later, then back to a flip phone, a Blackberry, an iPhone 4, and then after I put that one in the washing machine, an iPhone 6.  Pretty hard to cover all the bases in a decent manner, and I feel like a lot of bag manufacturers have given up with trying to keep with the times.  Might have something to do with the fact that the majority of their customers aren't actually messengers and don't need immediate access to the communication while riding.  Might.

I've still got a bunch of old school phone/radio harnesses in a coffee can, so I was able to come up with this:

Holds the phone, doesn't fall out, and I can get it back in one-handed.  '90s era Timbuk2 on 2016 Chrome bag FTW.

Two things are frustrating (with one of the two being many).  My last few bags were custom.  Everything was the way I wanted it.  This Chrome Mini Metro is not custom.  Sure, I opted for a black buckle and a splash of color, but otherwise, it's stock.  There are zero D-rings for attaching keys and such,

the straps are flopping about since there's no decent stow-away options for them,

extra chest strap retention doesn't exist (ima fix that like i fix wolves soon),

the rookie (stabilizer) strap is not removable (without a pair of scissors),  the Velcro closure will eventually serve no other purpose than snagging my clothes, the lack of padding on the back was apparent the first time I carried a lumpy load (I pulled the laptop padding out of my Bagaboo and shoved it in behind the liner: solved)...

The second problem has more to do with my impatience.  It takes time to break a bag in.  Sun, rain, sweat, heat, cold, packages, opening, closing...

Until then, it feels like I'm strapping a pillow case full of campaign signs to my back.  I know that eventually, the bag will conform to my shape.   Just not for awhile.  Makes me miss my old bag.  Except for the pain in my left shoulder.  I won't miss that.  It's feeling better already.

I was a little worried about going with the smaller Mini Metro size, but so far it's been fine.  I did have a long distance delivery of a signed Panthers football and jersey the other day that someone had packed in way too big of a box, but nothing I couldn't handle with some "repackaging."

This is my second Chrome bag (had a Kremlin before), and I have to say that they make a great bag for the price point.  Sure, it's not a custom bag, but it doesn't cost custom bag dollars.

Is it big enough?

My only real concern was that I'd seen pictures of the bag with a twelve pack of cans in it but not bottles.  It was a tight squeeze (like super tight), and with a load that big, the shoulder strap ends up in the wrong place putting the seat buckle on my collar bone...

but, the things we do for love.

Thursday, April 21

All systems (duWan)go

It's official.  Bill Nye and I are headed west for duWango Tango: Mancation 2016.

Matt McFee of Hermosa Tours twisted our virtual arms, and the decision was made just like that (my virtual arms are even weaker than my IRL ones).

Matt, seen here throwing the duWango Tango Gango sign.

Not like it was that hard to convince me to go to back to Durango.  I've only seen a small percentage of what the place has to offer as far as mountain bike riding goes.  Hell, I've never even done the infamous Hermosa Creek epic adventure.   I've seen/experienced the Colorado Trail, Raider's Ridge, Horse Gulch... Black Hawk Pass.

I think that's it.  Of course, I coulda got in at least one other ride while I was at SSWC '09, but I was too busy being hungover all day.

Such wasted non-youth.

So I'm pretty stoked about doing a trip that doesn't fall into the exact same plan as last time, which was less of a plan and more of this:

* Wake up early.
* Catch a shuttle to some remote place
* Spend most of the day descending from a high place
* Finish the ride
* Clean up and start drinking
* Continue drinking
* Eat (with drinks)
* Resume drinking
* Consider the cessation of the drinking but think better of it and forge on
* Go to bed regrettably late
* Wake up and head to our next town of choice, consume 64oz of Gatorade on the way there
* Head out for a quick local loop, which ends up being shortened because... hangover
* Drink, eat, drink, go to bed...
* Start over

I'm only worried about a few things.  First and foremost, our proximity to many of the local watering holes.  We'll be staying closer to downtown this time, which means stumbling home is as easy as google maps.  Secondly, I will be returning to Charlotte on September 1st, going to work on the 2nd, and leaving for the Shenandoah 100 on the 3rd.  I rarely ever go out west and not come back in a heap, so this year's SM 100 is certain to be some new form of shit show for me.

But it will all be worth it.