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Thursday, October 11

SSWC Bound and Down

I'm leaving for SSWC '18 in Bend, OR early next week.  I don't expect to make an appearance here until I get back.

I'm sure I'll have stories to tell.

The ones I can remember.

Probably for the first time in the history of me attending a Single Speed World Championship, I had to choose between two very righteous single speeds.  It wasn't easy, but...

There are a few reasons to leave the Vassago Meatplow V.8 at home and bring the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 with me (well, send ahead of me VIA Bike Flights).

1. I heard the trails in the Bend area (the ones you can ride to from downtown) ain't all that gnarly.  I would need to swap tires and whatnot on the V.8 to something lighter and gear a little taller, lest I find a hungover me trying to lug too much bike around for six days.

2. I haven't ridden the V.7 since I got the V.8.  After Pisgah Monster Cross, I installed an ENVE Stem and bar, new ESI grips, and also replaced the rear brake lever with a new (functional?) one.  Then it got hung on the wall, and I've been enjoying the squishy happies I've been lacking since some time in June.  I miss riding this behk.

3. Sending the V.8 would mean no gnar riding the weekend before or the one after.  It would be in a box, and I'm pretty sure I'll be in Pisgah one or both of those weekends.  I want my Pisgah behk in Pisgah.

4. The V.7 was born in Oregon, and it seems like taking it to its birthplace is just the thing to do.  This is despite the fact that Tom from Vassago will be at SSWC but Sean (Vertigo) will not.  Certainly Tom will give me a hard time all week.  So will everyone else that knows me tho.

I guess it's worth mentioning that I packed the bike and shipped it thinking that it was geared 32 X 19 at Pisgah Monster Cross, but after a quick inventory of my cogs, I'm pretty sure it has an 18 on there.

Doh.

Mebbe I brang tools and cogs and mebbe I don't.  I have no visions of grandeur and glory, but I do plan on riding around town a lot... so 18 might be okay after all.

So, yeth.  Stoked to be going back to an SSWC after a.... nine year hiatus?  It's been that long since Durango?

Yeth.

It almost killed a forty year old me, so let's see how an almost fifty year old me can stand up to almost a week's worth of riding and debauching.

Tuesday, October 9

New Addition

It's kind of a big deal, so...

This guy:

The Pie and I haven't had a "young dog" to call our own in a very long time.  The last two dogs we had that were not "hospice" or "quality of life" candidates were Chloe and Maggie.   The former being a Sheltie that The Boy found wandering around in a snow storm...

and the latter being a puppy that I found at work one day (like a million years ago) crossing the street in the center of Uptown Charlotte right along with all the people heading to work.

So, almost a month ago, The Pie got a call that the shelter had a momma dog with seven puppies that needed placement that day or else they were all going to be put to sleep.

So guess which family got to "enjoy" the company of a large litter of puppies and a milk-laden mom for almost three weeks?

This little man was the runt:

Too weak to do much, having a hard time getting his turn to nurse, and as we found out soon enough, he was full of worms.  He would pretty much just lie there and do nothing.  We spent a fair amount of time hand feeding him with high calorie "toothpaste" and baby food on the couch... and holding him.  His brothers and sister were more than twice his size, but he got more than his share of personal attention.

And so it came to be that I proposed we keep him.  My thinking being that as I approach my fiftieth birthday, the time for me to start all anew with a puppy is growing short.  I want to have a young dog that can play and run... and see things.  An animal that I won't feel my time going forward is very limited with (although Pester, the blind diabetic dog, has already become our longest "quality of life" foster by breaking the three year mark).

It's my fault, but we named him Boppit.

His head kinda reminded me of the round Bop It button in the center of the game, and sometimes while holding him on the couch, I would bop it.  We will see if he lives up to the Extreme surname.

There you have that.

By the way, this is what is known in the "business" as a "failed foster."

Doh.

Monday, October 8

Word Puke

I had a four day (five day?) La Vida Bachelor burst of time.  A certain amount of responsibility loomed over my head, the front end result of leaving for SSWC '18 Bend in just over a week.
Stick a bike in a box.  Domestic maintenance related doodies.  You know.

Mebbe I squoze in an after work ride on Thursday.  Followed by a "meeting" I think I was suckered into attending.  Also mebbe.

Halped Bill Nye with "van life" Friday night.  In bed kinda late for an early morning wake up to meet up with Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever to ride... something?

Colin and I headed west with open minds and blurry vision.

Arrive at the bottom of Fishermen'sTrail somehow on time, Eric somehow also same same.  Now what?

Up this, down that, up... ?

Then Eric has a stroke of genius and we jump in his Sprinter and drive the entire way up Wash Creek Rd to the Parkway, the Fit of Rage left hundreds(?) of feet lower, thus guarantying more down than up.  Buenos.

BTW: As we drove up, I mentioned an article I read on NSMB.com written by Dave Tolnai  after he came back from riding e-bikes in Croatia.  He talked about riding lifts, doing shuttles runs, straddling the devil (e-bikes)...

"It's interesting the things that we have decided are acceptable, and the things that are not."

Anyhoo, outta the van and end up in a place I've never been before and Eric gives me a Pisgah history lesson.

Down, up, down Spencer, over to Big Creek...


photo cred: Eric
Eric had some big plans but it's becoming semi-apparent that we're never gonna make it all the way back up to the Parkway.  Audible called, we head up elsewhere.


Gowannan take a guess where that hike-a-bike was.

Down something and another plan diverges with reality, and we end up back at the Fit of Rage a little more spent than >3,000ft of climbing in 20 miles should have made us, but some people don't think the universe be like it is but it do.

And then we run into these guys down where we parked that morning:

I would say this represents about 65% of Small Brown Dog, a riding community that I spent a lot of time riding with... way more than a decade ago.  All over Pisgah, locally in Charlotte, Mr Murray's Freeride Playground...  Also Jeremy, who I haven't seen since the Canadian Invasion of UT/CO that I got to join in on so many years ago on my single speed Santa Cruz Tallboy.

Anyways, if you got this far into the story, you shall read the good part now.  Eric bummed a cold coffee drink from Jeremy to boost his energy levels.  We hopped in my car to head up and retrieve his Sprinter, Eric in the backseat.  What he was adding to the conversation was sometimes missed by me on account of my deaf right ear, but at one point I look back in the mirror, and I hear him distinctly say, "Pull over right now.  I need to throw up."

I guess he'd been asking for the opportunity to hurl for an amount of time that produced some emergent results.

It was the best puke I've heard in some time.

The end.

Wednesday, October 3

Faster Mustache Retreat '18: Day 3

It was determined pretty early Sunday morning that we'd have another day of varying agendas.   Some had to get home earlier than others.  The injured reserve list was still on a roadie/hikie plan.  Others were just out of any plans.

A 10:00 ride became a 10:30 ride with plans to get Trimble and Hankey Mountain/Lookout under our belts before heading home.  Colin, BC, Nik, Jess, Lee, Courtney and I rolled out of the Stokesville Lodge seeking small adventure.

I always forget the paved climb and the following elevation-robbing descent between here and there.

I explained Trimble as a two mile up, two mile down ride... those numbers that I now know to be skewed in the painful direction.

Courtney took a tumble on the way up and turned back.  At the bottom, another tumbler had emerged.

Cut and slightly damaged, Jess went back to the lodge with Nik to clean out her wound.  The rest of us... thinking about what to do next.

We were behind on time, so the second part of our ride got nixed.  We called an audible to head up Skidmore (yuck) and ride down Grindstone.

BC enjoying his ground score beverage at the "top" of Grindstone.

We started down (which is down a little and up a lot more) and soon enough, we rolled into two sheriffs.  Earlier, we'd noticed a bunch of EMT folks down in the parking lot at the bottom of Grindstone, and these guys were part of a search party that was no longer looking for the initial lost people but was now looking for these two guys.  I pulled up Trailforks, got them orientated, and they were gonna go down Skidmore and wait at the road.

"Oh, there are a bunch of creek crossings."

"Ummm... can we get around them or cross where it's narrow?"

"Nope.  They're car lengths wide and knee deep.  I guess one of you could ride piggyback and keep your shoes dry tho."

*non-amusement ensues*

We shred the rest of Grindstone, pop out at the bottom, tell the EMTs that are in the parking lot where to find their men, head back to the lodge.

Every single one of us had a blast, and we were all pretty much 10/10 wanting to do this again at some point.  Like I said before, this was my first time staying at the Stokesville Lodge (officially).  I can't believe it took this long to finally do it.  The lodge itself will have you wanting for nothing... well, some said it could use a hot tub and mebbe some horses to stare at in the fields.  I'd settle for a couple goats and a porch swing.

I can't think of too many places that you should put higher on your bucket list.  Get some friends together, plunk down some coin, and start planning some big rides.  You will not be disappoint.

Most of the photo cred to Nik, some to Gwen... one to me.

Tuesday, October 2

Faster Mustache Retreat '18: Day 2

Day Two.  I had semi-bold aspirations based on trail suggestions from a local friends and hazy Tour de Burg memories.  Cars would be involved.  I envisioned a true two-way shuttle, but after taking attendance and discovering divergent interests, a new plan was hatched.  Kürdt would drive the men up in the truck and leave us to Deathstar and Hone Ridge/Heartbreak so he could do a road ride (injured reserve) and Stephanie (also injured reserve) would take the women even further up the mountain to the top of Reddish Knob for a shorter yet still incredible ride down Timber and Wolf and then Steph could go hiking.

Lee and I didn't fit in the truck. 

He got a seat in the Volvo, I became human luggage.

Sorting out the shit before the ladies went on up to the top.

I wasn't on their ride (obvs) but later on that evening they shared their super stoke about their adventures (and the addition of Dog Graveyard/Tillman West audible) before riding back to the lodge.

So our ride...

We feel our way to the top of Deathstar.  I only know that it's memorable... for something.  I thought it was listed as "black" on Trailforks for gnar gnar, but it was apparently thusly based on face-melting speeds and absolute steepness.  At one point, Lee and Colin are stopped at a hairpin turn blocked by a downed tree... and I approach them with much speed.  A liberal squeeze of the brakes and I do not slow down the amount that reflected my squeezings.  I fly right into the back of Lee's bike.  Meh.  That's never happened to me before.

I forget to ever pull out my phone to grab some pictures until we're all the way at the bottom.

I woulda never captured the steepness anyways.

Gravel and plenty of creek crossings and then a long climb up the pavement back to where we started earlier that day.  Out the dirt road and over to Hone Quarry.

So, obviously... my TdB memory was vague on this one as well.   Incredible views from the ridge, occasional chunky bits...




and loads of overgrowth and briers and kick-in-the-dick surprise climbs.



But eventually we top out and it's all good from there.





Well... except for the bear cub Lee rides up on while going down Heartbreak.  He's excited to finally see a bear in the woods.  The bear was excited to finally see a Lee in the woods.

Anyways, fumble fart through all the rock piles on Heartbreak and then make our way back towards the lodge...

And I bring up being sad about missing out on Dog Graveyard/Tillman the day before, and we decide to ride up one more thing to ride down one more thing before calling it a day.

"NEVER KNEW HE WAS A DOG NEVER CARED"

Rolling back into the happy place...




Doing what I do, taking care of all business for letting myself go full-pleasure.  Washing my bike before even taking off my helmet.

Steph hiked... eleven miles?  Ummm...  unnnh... ouch.


The ladies seemed stoked to get something like a billion feet of descending with only having to climb something like 1,300 feet for the day.

I'd suggested that Kürdt ride from the lodge to the top of Reddish... and he looked at the ride... mmmmmmm... ummmm... and then he just did it.  Said he'd never gone that fast down something on a road bike

BTW: His bike is an old steel frame built the same year that I was born ('69).

So more hang outs, food, beer, regaling... and then I look around and there's only about four idiots still up and I mention that mebbe we stop being dumb and go to bed like the non-idiots did hours ago.

So we do.

Shuttle/Reddish Ride images: Courtney

Deathstar/Hone Ridge images: Dicky

Arrival/Hangout images: Nik

Monday, October 1

Faster Mustache Retreat '18: Day 3/4

As a group, we the people of Faster Mustache: Charlotte decided to have a team retreat at the Stokesville Lodge in Virginia.  I'd been lobbying for a couple years for this and was much stoked that we were finally headed there.  I've done so many Shenandoah 100 races and Tour de Burg suffer fests in the area, but I was really looking forward to a more relaxing weekend of riding and hanging.

Colin and I roll in and only Lee and Courtney are already there.  Courtney was the only one smart enough to post in our Facebook group and ask what time everyone was going to arrive.

12:00

12:30

1:30

2:ish

etc.

So those of us that are there around noon wait for some of the 1:somethings to arrive and we head out knowing that if we keep waiting, we'll just keep on waiting and waiting for more and more arrivals. 

BC, Colin, Lee and I leave outta the lodge and ride to the bottom of Wolf.  Those of us who had been to the area before were more than aware that all the rivers on the way in were dramatically higher than we'd ever seen.  As we ride out on Tilghman Road, the gates are down... we ride around.  Water is pumping outta the damn like a fire hose... a ten foot diameter fire hose.  Then we come to a place where the road is halfway washed out.  At least the road wasn't closed due to the potential bursting of a dam.

From the parking lot and up, we ride against the flow of a river coming down the trail.  The first stream crossing (sorry guys, I said there weren't any stream crossings) is pumping and crotch deep (at least on me).  Precarious getting through the fastest moving water in the middle but gotta go up to get down.

Once we get on to the machine cut portions of Wolf, things get more bueno, well as bueno as a 5.5 mile single track climb can be.

Get up to Timber...

Hole in my crunk.

And then down to Hearthstone...

And then Colin gets a flat in his rear tire.  I give him my standard lecture that any plusser tire under 950 grams should not exist, but that doesn't help speed up the process any.  Two plugs and the sealant shaky dance... and it's not enough.  Glad I insisted on stuffing Colin's giant plusser tube in his barely big enough butt satchel before leaving the lodge.

The rest of the descent goes without incident, but with our late start and the flat and plenty of tittydicking, we're behind schedule.  Instead of getting Dog Graveyard to Tillman West (I know the spelling is different and do not know why), we just rode back to the lodge for dinner.

Everyone had their own adventure when they got there, so no one really missed out on an experience to share with the class for the Show and Tell portion of the evening.

Incredible food..

good friends, and mebbe a late enough night that the few of us that were still up realized we were being stupid and joined the others in needed slumber.

Big (complicated) plans for Saturday.