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Thursday, August 25

Things to do in Durango when you shred

Hard to believe.  Bill Nye and I leave for Duwango Tango Mancation '16 tomorrow.  The plan, as it was/were/is... coming together.  Which leaves me with this:

Two piles.  One bound for Durango (foreground), the other prepping for the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (background)... because the plan calls for this to happen.  I'll get back next Thursday, go to work on Friday, leave for Stokesville on Saturday.

Staring at stuff.  Grabbing things.  My anal compulsion to bring all the things.

Let's face it.  The blerhg will die for a short while.  Less of a death and more of a shit-stasis.  I don't see having time to update anything until after I get back from SM100.  I guess I could take my craptop computer with me, but it's such a dick.   Not to mention, I hope to stay sorta busy even when we're not riding.  I want to stop at King Cage and get some locally sourced titanium bottle cages for the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6.  Also, Ska Brewery and river soaking and... whatever.  I hear there's some great antique stores and haberdasheries in town as well.  I'll probably be an asshole tho and post on Facebook and Instagram, just so you know for this short while, my life is better than yours.

That's what social media is for, right?

I'm not sure what kind of shape I'll be in when I get back from Durango.  The whole race thing could go either way.

I could be strong and light from riding above 6,500 feet for six days.

I could be destroyed and fat from riding above 6,500 feet for six days... and eating and drinking my way into a stupor whenever I'm not on the bike or buying antiques and cowboy hats.

Dunno.

We didn't plan for success or failure that far ahead.

I was stoked this past Tuesday when I headed out for my 1.25 hour ride before riding to work, knowing that I've got maybe three more of these before the Fool's Gold 50 (60?) on September 17th.  Basically, I'm not too far away from all rides only occurring for fun reasons and no more early weekday wake ups.  Which I hate.

Getting up, that is, although it is said that you can't drink all day if you never wake up.

BTW:  Some have asked me how I feel about the Fox Step Cast 32.  At some point, I'll get to it.  Mebbe after the SM100 or the Fool's Gold 50 (60?).  I promise (sorta).

Most of the travels.

Tuesday, August 23

SSUSA '16: Do or do not or try or don't try. There is no no.

Wake up in the darkness.  Have to pee... hard.  All the moisture that was usually distributed throughout my body is now in my bladder.  I let it all go into the weeds.

Find some Gatorade.  Ice cold from the cooler.  Now I have a (much worse) headache.

Wake up again.  Fart loudly.  Again.  Having one of those "why didn't god kill me in my sleep" moments.  I hear others ambling about, banging pots and starting stoves.  I guess I need to get up now.  Despite having a proper mustache, I felt the dead opposite of how it feels to bronze in an Olympic mountain bike race.


It's already warm.  Humid.  I eat a couple Pop Tarts.  Andy gives me some slightly browned water.  It's much easier than making my own coffee, so I appreciate the kindness.  I consider putting on a special outfit, reconsider the heat, inconvenience of it all, and non-breath-ability of the fabric.  I put on a kit instead.  Shanna's wandering around the campsite with her ass cheeks hanging out of her princess outfit.  I feel immense guilt and shame.  Return to the tent, squeegee the chamois cream out of my bibs for reuse, and change into something more single speedy.

Head over to the start and just sit there regretting at least seven but no more than fifteen things I did the night before.  None of them illegal.  Well, we were stopped before we completed the more illegal of the things we considered, but it was more of a borrow situation in our collective minds.

We line up for a LeMans start.  Doug announces that when he finishes chugging his beer, we can go.  A few seconds in, some of us decide that since we're just walking to our bikes anyways, might as well go now.

Watts comes running by me on the way to his bike.

"You're trying too hard, Watts." ~ me

He responds by shrugging his shoulders.

I get to my bike and hop into the melee.   Rider density maxed out at the entrance to the single track.  There is no flow in flow trail when you're riding a train.  I regret not at least jogging to my bike to stay outta the traffic to maximize fun potential.

I make a few passes, and Bill Nye is no longer in the active role as my wing man.  I'm without friends.  Sadness and a lingering hangover to keep me company.  I see Buck at the side of the trail fixing his bike.  He tells me to wait up.  I soft pedal.  He catches me, passes me... leaves me.  Meh.

I pass Montucky and Cinder Block at the side of the trail.  I decide shortly after that they will be my friends.  I stand at the side of the trail and wait.

Montucky catches me.  No Cinder Block.  We get stuck behind some riders who can't figure out a switchback.

"You want some hot wine?"

Montucky's sales pitch left a lot to be desired, but I was going to be caloric-deficient on the day and not in a place to say no.  We stand there and clog up the trail until we finish up, unknowingly holding up the first place woman.  Not our fault (that she didn't want hot wine).

Out from a trail and into the open, we are told that we are 15th, 16th... so on.  I tell Montucky that either we are trying too hard or others are way better at hardly trying.  We need to slow down.

We get to the hike-a-bike.  I can see Buck up ahead.  Montucky stomps by me, puts his bike across the entire trail.

"You want some hot wine?"

Yeth.  As if I have a choice.

We finish pushing up the hill and catch Buck at the first beer stop.    We drink some of that.  It's bueno.

A loose alliance is formed.  We ride off together.  Montucky's Bluetooth speakers playing what sounds like a Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack.

photo cred: Chris Reichel
We stop when we need to.  We stop a few times because we don't but there is a bench so, stop anyways.  We pick up another rider that knows Buck but refers to him by his other nickname, "Asshole."  Now we are four.

We ride together, stop together, navigate our way by suggestive arrows together.  At some point, Montucky starts running on fumes... so he's left behind.

"Where's Montucky?" ~ Buck

"He dead." ~ me

It's hot, we're tired, we're flailing.  We ride together until the finish, which was some indiscernible distance between five and twelve miles for the last couple hours (it seems).

Eat.  Water.  Water.  Consider a nap.  Think better of it.  Change into evening wear and relax in the only shade in the campground, which unfortunately (for the children) was the playground.

photo cred: Andy Forron
Consume enough beverages of a known quantity to get in a familiar state of being and then go up to watch the decider events for SSUSA '17.

I see people prepping for a foot down competition. I assume it's part of the deciding.  I watch.

It's actually to decide the real SSUSA champion, because racing is dumb.  I'm also dumb because I miss the opportunity to play bike games.

The decider event happens, and it's leaf blower polo.

 photo cred: Colleen O'Neil
Bellingham, WA beats New York in the finals.

photo cred: Colleen O'Neil
I'm happy because that means I don't feel like I need to go.

More regrettable things happen.   Still pretty sure nothing illegal is successfully pulled off, but perhaps there were some offended parties.  Nothing out of line for a single speed event tho.

Sometimes you get urine on you.  C'est la vie.

The evening ended with Bill Nye's and mine own bikes missing, a walk back down into the holler, I might have chased a skunk on foot...

And by "might," I totally did.

Just wanted to pet it tho.

Monday, August 22

SSUSA '16: Preamble

Up and in the truck early in the morning on a Friday to do the thing I said I wouldn't; travel eight hours to ride less than forty miles the next day only to turn around and go home the day after.

So we're basically heading up there for two parties and one ride with friends.

Jim scoops me and then Bill Nye.  Then highway, and more highway, and PA back roads.  We pass this tiny bar around 3:00 in the afternoon, just about a half hour away from Raystown.

"Man, I remember passing that place on my way to the Trans-Sylvania Epic so many times."  ~ me

Jim applies the brakes in a less than gentle manner and the truck heaves ho into a turn around.  We're going in.

Steele's Tavern

As America as it gets.

Cheap beer. Cheaper pool.

Hot bologna, you say?  I dunno.  On crackers?  Why didn't you say so?  You had me at $1.25

A few games of cut throat pool and we get back on the road.

We roll into the parking lot at 5:05PM, five minutes after registration opened.  Couldn't have not planned it any better.

No sooner am I signing my life away and I'm handed a beer.  I guess I brought two kits for no reason.  We're not riding today.  Business done, set up camp so I know I have a place to sleep tonight (if I can find it all the way down in the holler), and head back up to the Pine Shelter to see who crawls out of the woodwork as the night progresses.

A lot of the usual suspects showed up, along with all manners of celebratory accoutrements.  Miscreants, scoundrels, thieves, drunkards, ruiners of things... friends.

The night went more blurry than a crappy iPhone photo rather quickly.

Some things were done that were instantly regrettable and other things that had regret attached to them that wouldn't be felt until the morning came and the self-induced haze burnt off entirely.

Now I've got to restart my heart and moisten the cotton someone apparently shoved in my mouth before I went to sleep.  We've got some simulated bike race thing to do.

Thursday, August 18

Because we got the bomb.

There's a reason I don't change my header image very often.  Or the sidebar images to the old blog or past results... or anything else that's outdated or at the very least, tired.

It's difficult and time consuming (for me).

Only so, because I don't know entirely what I'm doing and don't want to learn, much less store that information in my head part for future use.

I decided it was finally time to add CarboRocket to the list of Dick Supporters the other day. Thought I could squeeze such a thing in before I headed out the door for a "training" ride on Tuesday.

I was wrong.

I borrowed the html I've been using to put linked logos into the sidebar years ago.  I felt like I owed as much to my supporters ("sponsors" sounds so elitist, especially considering what I actually do).  I don't know what html is or how it works.  I just figured out that I copy and paste links into places where I see them in the code, push publish, and hope for the best.

So the CarboRocket logo was too big after a couple stabs in the dark... and I accidentally used a gif.. and after thirty minutes or so, I was late for my ride.

And that's why I don't change things on the blerhg very often.

I was inspired into action because I got my purple drank in the mail.

It's honestly my favorite flavor of Half Evil, the drink with most of the calories and hydration I want in one bottle.  The purple drank flavor also has zero caffeine, which is best for me 95% of the time, as I like to save that (caffeine) for later as opposed to having constant access to it.  As excited as I was about getting a resupply of the stuff, I was even happier that they've swapped over from tubs to resealable bags.  Cuts down on waste and whatnot and way easier to pack for travel.

Speaking of packing, I've gotta get all my things together NOW.  I'm getting scooped at some ungodly hour tomorrow morning to make our way to SSUSA in PA.  I can't remember the last time I traveled so far for such a short race, but only an asshole would be traveling to SSUSA with the actual race on their mind.

I might be an asshole, but I'm not that kind of asshole.

Gonna put this here, just so I can listen to it.

Tuesday, August 16

Two more weeks of mustache glory

Not for nothing, but I signed up for the Fool's Gold 50 (60?) late Sunday night.  Not entirely sure why, but I know I'll probably be shaving off my mustache when I'm done racing for the year, so perhaps it's just to keep it a couple weeks longer.  I'm also stoked that the venue has returned to a little more after party friendly status, complete with camping and such.

Wasn't too hard of a decision to do the 60 miler over the 100 (which is actually 90).  Shenandoah Mountain 100 is just two weeks before the FG, and I didn't want to spend nine to ten hours in the Virginia mountains thinking about nine to ten hours in the Georgia mountains in my near future.

I don't really foresee any real podium chances down there.  With the NUE Marathon series drawing in riders like Ernesto Marenchin and James Litzinger (who both have a shot at 1st in the series), not to mention the usual suspects and the Motor Mile Mafioso (aka: Dicky Dream Sqaushers), it would take a miracle to get me on the box.

Or I'd actually have to start taking things seriously starting now... and keep that up for a whole month.

No.

Not looking forward to the fifteen mile gravel and pavement lollipop stick out (or back), but the lollipop itself has some awesome single track.  It's good enough that it only takes me a year and a half to forget all the soul-sucking road sections and only remember the good times, thus my almost biannual appearance at the event.

Oh yeah, yesterday I restarted my running campaign for the third time since I started the restarting this summer.  Over two weeks ago, I went out and ran almost six miles at a 7:40 pace... and then it hurt to walk the next day.  Even worse another day later.  My feet parts (upper foot to ankle) hated me for that.  Damn it.  Back to two milers at a much more reserved pace.

Monday, August 15

Things Fall Aparter

I got my ride in on Saturday, pretty much the very ride I was looking for.  Black Mountain, Buckwheat Knob, Bennett Gap, Sycamore Cove, Pisgah Tavern... not in that particular order with lots of climbing in between.  Mileage somewhere in the ouchy zone without going into the "this is going to ruin tomorrow" sad place.

Something interesting.  There ended up being more bikes and people there than I was expecting.  Nothing bad, but I noted something worthy of notable notableness.

Aside:  On the way there, I learned something about Nick "Dip n Spray" Barlow that made me uncomfortable yet extremely proud at the same time.

Of the eight people there, only one or two didn't show up with a preexisting or about to happen issue.

Shoe related malfunction, bent and could/should be replaced brake lever, brake lever way out of adjustment, a rear thru-axle that decided to stop doing its job, clogged valve cores, and a sticky rear brake that needed bled (me).

Mountain biking is hard on equipment.  It's so easy to take it for granted that it's just going to work properly when we grab the bike after a week of it sitting in the corner.  Mud, dust, water, vibrations, cycles, one too many rides on a set of pads...

I'm as guilty as anyone.  As I stood in the parking lot of The Hub talking to Sam, he noticed I was fiddling with my rear lever.  It wasn't snapping back to its happy place.

"Meh.  I just worked on the front one two weeks ago.  The back one was fine.  I guess it's seen as many big rainy days and lake-dunk cleansings as the front."

Not so much a lesson learned for me (I'll never learn), but it just goes to show you that either you learn how to work on your own bikes AND keep up with it, or you find a good mechanic, treat him/her right, and let him/her work on your bike when it needs it.  Don't just ignore your issues and hope they get better.  They don't.

I mentally dealt with my brake issue all day, on top of a few (sorta planned) nutrition and hydration issues.  Not so much planned, but I knew wasn't going to have enough water and food to get through the day in the best possible manner, but it wasn't going to kill me, so fuck it.

I mighta felt like a hobbled and crampy pile of pooh later that day tho.

On Sunday, pull out the pads (which needed replacing... surprise), do the cup/air bubble thing, clean the pistons, remove valve cores for good measure (while I'm already piddling with stuff) and clean them up.


Here's my opinion on sealants. Either you pick a sealant that has very little particulate matter and seems to be all dried up every time you check it (meaning you don't have any sealant to do any actual sealing) or you pick one that has plenty of suspended solids and stays liquid long enough to be useful (but will occasionally need to be cleared from the valve cores).  I'm flat-free (aside from a giant sidewall tear) with TruckerCo Cream for a year and a half now, so I'll deal with a little maintenance if that means I'm not fixing a flat in the woods or standing next to a race course watching the world go by.

And of note, that core was using a test/proto sealant and doesn't reflect normal use.  But, it's the photo I have, so there's that.  Air not going in/coming out of your valve with enthusiasm?  Check you self lest ye wreck you self.

Oh yeah, also of notable notieness.  When you check your air pressure/add air/let some out, do it with the valve stem at 12 o'clock.  You'll be less likely to draw sealant into the core to begin with. Do I always do this? No.  Should I?  Yeth.  When do I remember?  When releasing some pressure with the valve closer to 6 o'clock and sealant comes out.  That's when.

I guess my main point is that if you ignore your mountain bike and don't keep up on maintenance, things are going to squeak, function poorly, break, and generally suck.  Sucky bikes make for sucky rides.

Learn things for yourself (and actually do the work) or visit your local bike shop often.  Life is too short for sucky rides.

Speaking of maintenance, remember when I said that as long as I know I might get to ride Black Mountain again at some point in my life, that's a life worth living?

Well, I was told this weekend that they are marking the corridor for the reroute RIGHT NOW from Turkey Pen down to lower Thrift Cove.  So how about that?  At least people will have something to bitch about for awhile, so that will make things interesting in the interim.

Friday, August 12

A post to fill in for a real post

Things are winding up.  My brain is everywhere.  A text from Jim a couple days ago reminded me that we leave for SSUSA in a week.

Doh.

Still gotta finish packing the By:Stickel for the Duwango Tango Mancation '16.

I really hate shoving my bike in a box.  Such as a messy affair.  Like trying to get anything that comes in a stuff sack back in its respective stuff sack.  I actually pulled a muscle in my stomach getting it in there.  I know that doesn't make sense, but it happened.

Not much going on this weekend except I'm sneaking in one more trip to the mountains, which should be enough to figure out if I have my fjork properly tuned.

Fortunately, I'll be on some of the same trails I've ridden the last three times that I've been up there, so comparisons should be easily made.

Also, I'll be dealing with my personal jellies all day long.

Bill Nye has his Enduro™ machine all built up and ready to ride (once) before taking it all apart to put in a box and ship to Hermosa Tours for the Duwango thing.  Good to see that my poorly thought out purchase of shifty bits is getting back out in the dirt.  I've not seen this completed thing in person, but it sure looks nice from here.

I'll bet it rides like a bunch of sour grapes tho.