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Thursday, April 18

More garvel?

I wouldn't say the prospect of this weekend's Bootlegger 100 (107) terrifies me, but perhaps it does fill me with a certain amount of dread.  I can't remember the last time I propelled my human form on a bicycle over this kinda distance.

That and my almost complete unfamiliarity with any of this is cause for at least a modicum of concern:

I think someone told me that some of this is similar to the Mountain Mania course, which I did almost two decades ago...

Well, kinda. I got lost and ended up riding back to the finish and then went backwards on the course looking for my "friends" to ride them in. You see, I got them to sign up thinking it was a "mountain bike race" because NO ONE was doing garvel races back then, and the internet wasn't so much a "thing" where you could find out "stuff."

So, yeth.  "Friends."  I mean, we still hung out after it was all said and done, but I would imagine they might still hold this against me.  Especially the friend who ended up with post-Waffle House diarrhea who was super disappointed that the only port-a-potty on course had fallen victim to arson a couple nights before the race.  Such a sight, a melted blue port-a-potty up at School House Gap... or so I was told, since I never even got that far into the actual course.

I figure I can finish the Bootlegger... I guess.  Old man legs and generous cut-offs throughout the day favor the ignorant but stubborn.  The only shit part will be the frustration of riding such a stupid bike over miles and miles of paved sections. 

Had to dig out the tiny little Topeak commuter lights I thought I was done using for awhile.  Rule compliance and whatnot.

I'm really hoping I can find some little friends to keep me company along the way.  I definitely had some lonely moments at the Pisgah Monster Cross last year, so mebbe there will be someone out there with a similar goal of just finishing in a reasonable time with minimal discomfort.

Most importantly, this event will fill the bill of "racing" my way into fitness.  I'm only two weeks and change away from PMBAR and then a month or so from Trans-Sylvania Epic, the closest things I have to what athletes would call "A races."

Yeehaw.

Wednesday, April 17

Whilst I was elsewhere

Ohio. Visiting family. Of course, bring bike.

I never realized how close The Boy’s house is to the Mohican State Park. Thanks to Trail Forks for pointing out the obvious. I couldn’t really meet up with anyone I know here in the South (part of Ohio) because when visiting is occurring, rides happen on a very flexible schedule.

Mang, Mohican is sweet. I’ve only ridden some of it in the Mohican 100, and I haven’t done that race since 2008. The year that I traveled up with Niner Mike and three kegs of beer… so my memory is a wee bit cloudy on that one.

I didn’t pay very close attention to the stats for the trails. In my mind, there was only 21 miles, but in reality, over 24. That and I assumed it was relatively flat, but upon further review, I see it has close to 4,000 feet of elevation gain.

Doh.

Let’s just say my dick was kicked in, and the two organic toaster pastries I ate hours before were all but burnt up.

Of course, I ran into people I knew out there. One guy from Arizona that used to do NUE stuff back in the day that now rides with Tom Vassago and also Joe Worboy, AKA Trailer Park Racing. Also, of course, it was when all the riding was over and done with, so my ride time was spent solo.

Sunday… wait for the earth to warm up… ask The Boy if there’s any gravel nearby.

Yeth.

Head out in search of it and get a right proper Ohio road ride under my butt. Dilapidated heavy equipment, barns falling in on themselves, a chasing (mebbe playful) loose dog, cows and calves, random sweet cars in someone’s yard, and I got coal rolled at one point.





All in less than an hour and a half.

Monday, I just wanted to get out. Waited for the sun again, but it didn’t do such a great job warming things up this time. Went out into a strong head wind for a greenway grind and an about town(s) ride about.

I've lived in the south long enough that I sometimes forget that there are places where you can drive through a building and have beer handed to you without ever getting outta the car.



And yeth, I did do the things I went up there to do in the first place. Hang out with family.


Baby play and help The Boy do various things about the house (and learn a plumbing thing in the process, yay).

So all in all, decent groundwork for the Bootlegger 100 this weekend?

Prolly not but whatever.

Tuesday, April 9

6 Hours of Warrior Creek '19

Full disclosure.  Last year, we were second outta six teams.  This year, there's only three teams registered.  Obvs, we had a lock on a podium spot, assuming one of us could successfully complete at lap (I guess).  One team is half of last year's winners, Jarmz.  The other half woulda been second last year, had his partner decided that he didn't wanna go out for that last miserable lap of mud, cold, and rain.

We (I) did go out, and in the process, moved up a spot.

The other team registered came in third last year, also moving up a spot because they went out for that last lap as well.  They were close enough to keep us honest and obviously aware that the race ain't over until it's over.

I figure it's only fair to be up front about this kinda stuff regarding a guaranteed podium.

Jarmz is lined up a row ahead of me.  The race is on, and he pulls away right then and there... along with what feels like everyone.  It's a hard start on the pavement for a single speeder who can't spin up the gear and peg the heart rate to the max out of the gate (that would be me).  Riders start coming around... last week's Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte champ, Jason.  Female Charlotte honch, Bonnie.  Local rivalries are real.

We come into the slick 180° roundabout in the campgrounds...

And there's already evidence that someone went down, a rider scrambling to get back on their feet.  I yell "CAREFUL CAREFUL CAREFUL," as I make the turn, and I hear more riders go down in the corner behind me.

Nobody ever listens.

We get into the power line cut that gets us back on to the proper trail, I make a dicey (for me) pass on Bonnie through the rough, and start looking for carrots up ahead.  I doubt I'll ever see Jarmz again, aside from standing around in the pits between laps.  I do see Jason tho, so I start making moves to get up on his wheel.

As always, the trail is packed with trains of multiple riders.  I get it that the guy running the engine at the front shouldn't have to pull off the trail to let the whole train through, but the guy in the coal car needs to start getting to business IMHOMO.

I do what I do.  I start making noise, hollering, cheering riders ahead to make a move, mocking when necessary.  It's my job as lead rider on our team to get us back up where we belong, and not where my shitty start put us only ten minutes into the race. 

Burn.  All.  The.  Matches.

Make a move, make more noise, make another move.  I get around Jason, and now I feel like I somehow just won the Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte by some sort of default.  I'm dealing with a problem tho.  My riding is pure shit.  It takes awhile before it dawns on me, but not only did I not get a good night's sleep, I also only had about 12-16 ounces of coffee when it normally takes 24-32 to get my morning right.  I can't focus, and it shows.  I bauble a few corners, screw up the top of the first rocky section I've cleaned like a billion times in the last million years, and almost come out of the top of a couple berms, still slippery from yesterday's rain.

Gads.  Need to do something about this sad state of afffairs when I get back into the pits.

An hour and twenty something minutes later, I come into the finish.  I'm looking all over for Nick and yelling his name... we never really had a chance to talk about which side of the road, how far up from the finish line... and there he is.  Way up there.

At least he's there (unlike me once last year when I totally wasn't).

Nick goes off...

photo cred: Daren Wilz
And I grab my pizza and the Coke I'd planned on drinking before my third lap in the hopes that the caffeine and sugar will get me back among the living before it's my turn again.

Stand around, no results posted... prep for my second lap... clean tag with Nick and go.

This time, the trail is dry, and my mind isn't total shit.  My legs are tired, but I'm having fun.

photo cred: Daren Wilz
I kept my streak alive of never being passed once the race got into the woods, put up a decent time, tag Nick.

Check the results.

Well.

We're far enough from first that they could have a semi-catastrophic flat and still win.  We're ahead of third enough to have a non-catastrophic flat and hold our place.  And somehow... the time is gonna come up way too short for Nick to get a sixth lap in before the time runs out.  As a matter of fact, barely any teams are gonna make it to six laps.

Sigh.

Still gotta put the work in, so Nick comes in, and I go back out, hoping to keep our gap steady on third, trying to keep the local rivalry with Jason and Noel in our favor without blowing my load in doing so.

I do all that.


Of all the images of the podium I found on my phone, my contemporaries did a much better job keeping what we'll call "some sort of decorum." 

Nick and I, fourth time racing Duo SS, third time in the bridesmaid position (although I've been there once before our relationship started).

Golly, that sure was fun.  And painful.  Mostly fun tho.

There are possible changes in the air for the event next year.  My fingers are crossed, and it's not just a head start for geriatric single speeders either.

Monday, April 8

6 Hours of Warrior Creek '19: Preamble

Friday night.  There's going to be a teenage sleepover under my own roof.  That does not sound conducive to a good night's sleep to me.  I decide to crash at Bill Nye's House, since he's gonna be joining Nick "Dip 'n Spray" and I for the trip up to North Wilkesbermo because his broken body won't let him do much more than spectate and gimp around.

Get off work, ride home, pizza, shower, beer, pack the car... head over to Bill Nye's house around 7:00 or so.  I'm fully stuffed, but he made pop corn, and I do love me some popcorn.

Start to watch some movie, Colin shows up as if there's some kinda TV party going on... we end up talking about Jaws because Bill Nye just got the shark Quint drew on the chalkboard tattooed on his calf earlier in the day.

I ask Bill Nye if he's ever seen the Jaws documentary about the making of the film.

"How am I just hearing about this now?"

So we put that on and commence to go deeper into the night.


I only brought over X amount of beers to ensure limited damage points. The documentary will have a hard stop slightly after 10:00, so I should be in good shape.  10:30 and I head to the spare room... and the air mattress that I'd unfortunately pumped up to something like 120PSI.

Roll around on the rock hard mattress, consider letting some air out, and fully realizing that I might let out too much all at once forcing me to have to get out the pump and start all over... I do nothing.  I hear Colin and Bill Nye out in the living room, fast forwarding Jaws to the best scenes and watching them.

I left one sleepover to join another.

A rather fitful night of sleep with random wake ups at 1:00, 4:00, 5:00, 5:30... some of which being slathered in my own drool. 

I might be a wee bit exhausted.

Up, pack the car, stop for a cup of coffee, meet up with Nick in a Walmart parking lot, get to Warrior Creek around 8:30.  Plenty of time before the 10:00 start.

Get my shit straight, dress to 90% readiness, head over to the shitter line to be sure I'm 100% voided.

Some guy in the shitter line tells me that he reads my blog and I respond with my usual empty threats to kill it with fire very soon.  Probably "thanks" would have been the more appropriate response.

If you read this, polite bathroom guy, apologies for lack of a better response to your kind words.

Walk out of the bathroom, look up the hill... people are already lining up at the crowded start line.

Shit.

Run my bike to the front, back it into the line per standard douchebag protocol, ask my Duo SS nemesis Jarmz to hold my bike.

"I'll be back in less than five minutes.  Promise."

Helmet, gloves... what else can I forget that will make the next hour plus of intense effort even more regrettable?

Get back to the line in time, crawl in to where my bike is still being very thoughtfully cared for by Jarmz... listen intently to the rider meeting instructions... go back to nervously anticipating the (as always) sketchball, full-intensity start that is the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek.

Thursday, April 4

Varsity Snooze

Hot diggitydam.

6 Hours of Warrior Creek this weekend.  Racing my way into fitness à la Jan Ulrich circa his chubby days.  Then a long weekend in Ohio of intense greenway training followed by the Bootlegger 100.

I got caught sleeping this past Sunday and missed the big price jump on the Greenway Classic at Anne Springs Close Greenway coming this June.  At this point, I'm a little concerned as to whether or not it's gonna happen.  With only sixteen people registered for some or all of the weekend's worth of action and such an appreciable price jump over two months out (for a first year event), it's hard to imagine covering one's nut for a band and all the other stuff they are proposing.  I know it's people like me sitting on the fence not really helping things along, but I haven't seen the levels of promotion I'd expect if this thing is gonna be worth it.  As much as I was looking forward to it, I was also kinda squeezing it into a busy part of the year, so...

Meh.

Did I mention that I registered for the Breck Epic last week?

No?

Now I have.

I'll be racing duo male 50+ with long time Trans-Sylvania Epic and Tour de Burger compatriot and someone I'd call "frand," Chris Merriam.  We should have a delightful time being old lowlanders together on a mountainside, clutching our oxygen starved chests and mocking the youths and all their exuberance.  This will be my (runs to the other room, counts the belt buckles) 8th Breck Epic, but only my second time doing it as a duo.

Although I don't expect to finish on the podium this time... unless there are fewer than four teams again.

Peter and I were only a scant few hours behind the leaders and finished second at the 2012 Breck Epic in the men's open duo.  All this despite being twice their age and half their intelligence.

Stoked that things are ramping up and mebbe I can spend less time worrying about whether or not the grass is ever going to grow in my backyard because I'm distracted by this whole "racing" nonsense.

Tuesday, April 2

The Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte '19: Part Two

With my glory-filled dreams dashed, let's go on with the show

A long roll down to the FYT (Front Yard Trails) and we get ready to line up for...

Stage Three.  Dammit.  We're gonna come into the back of the trails VIA the Orr Road Crit course.  So... pretty much a high speed, two turns, mostly downhill start.  We all do a neutral roll out and... go.  Before I know it, I'm at the very back of the Tryers Club with a good gap on the in-it-to-grin-it group.  Zac, the only other single speed I saw near the front today, is rolling a 36 X 18 and manages to jump in the woods a few spots ahead.  I'm probably 12-15 spots back from the leader.

I make a few passes where I can, burning all the matches as I go along.

At least someone caught my weak attempt to nose wheelie outta the bowl trying to do my best to show people that despite my lack of willingness to ride the skinny in the previous stage, I suck at other things too.

video cred: Mary Kaye Zugelder
Aside from almost running into a ditch trying to make an ill-timed pass, I survive to finish in seventh place on the stage.

It's a long, slow roll to lunch.  We get there before the pizza arrives because we're ahead of schedule by a bit.  So... beer.  Mebbe more beer.  Finally pizza... and then mebbe more beer.

On to...

Stage Four.  Ooooowee.  How many beers did I have for lunch?  I estimate 1.5 too many.  We start with a hammer up a kinda steep gravel road and then dive into the woods.  Pushing back the potential vomit, I find myself in a familiar spot and with familiar company, the same color shirts I'm used to seeing in front and behind me.

And because I like themes so much, I finish in seventh place again.  Mostly, I was just happy to keep it outta the weeds on that one.

Back to Tod and Cathie's house for...

Stage Five.

I'd heard a fair amount of this course was gonna be on pavement.  Great.  No reason to not line up at the front tho.

photo cred: Kürdt
Looking around, I see the number of people at the start line has dwindled since the beginning of the day.  Feeling the over forty miles with four intense efforts thus far in my legs, I understand why this has happened at our past events.  Tours (and also Definitely Not Tour) de Charlotte do take their physical as well as mental toll.

At least the start goes up a decent climb, so when Tod says "go," I hammer it.  I can't see anyone on my wheel to the left or right in my periphery, and I start to wonder if mebbe everyone decided to play a joke on me and let me go off by myself.

No.

Probably less than ten or fifteen seconds in but yet feels like a lifetime, I explode, and the others start to come around.  Bang a right, down, and another right... more down.  Geared heads and Zac come around beating dicks the whole way.  Jason was leading the charge but misses the turn into the woods... and then comes around me on a line that no one else saw, saying something like "this is okay, right?"

So Canadian of him.

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt
At least I saw the optional (faster?) line now so I could hit it on the last three laps.

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt
So, hammer the one climb, try to not pinch flat in the rocks or broken pile of bricks section...

And theme.  Seventh place for the third time in a row.

With three seventh places, one fourth and one totally outta the points, I managed to sneak into seventh place (unngh) in the overall.

Just shy by like a billion points of the second most illustrious podium in cycling sub-culture.

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt
Obvs why I wouldn't be allowed on the most illustrious podium in cycling sub-culture.

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt
Jeebus.  That was indeed an arduous and excellent adventure.  Tod, Cathie and frands did an incredible job pulling off a most fun day in the woods with friends.  I can't say racing in the event was any easier than helping to promote it, but at least all the pain is confined into an intense half a day instead of a slow death metered out over many stressful months.

Here's hoping someone feels like doing something like this in 2020 (looking at you, Triple Dippers of the Dirty South).

Monday, April 1

The Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte '19: Part One

My first time "racing" what is essentially the Tour de Charlotte but is actually Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte after six years of helping make it happen.  Much excite.  Finally, it's time to experience the event that seems to turn miles into smiles year after year.

Mebbe some explanation of concept.  A rolling party with as many spectators as there are racers riding from place to place in Charlotte, racing as many stages on "trails" and whatnot as one might have to, resulting in an everyone wins kinda day, just with some of us winning more than others.

A short roll out from Tod and Cathie's house and we're at...

Stage One:  A short LeMans start up a narrow old double track to our bikes, and then the longest course of the day (4-5 miles) with the most elevation and technical bits as well.  I line up towards the front, but after the run starts, I feel like I'm hauling a boat anchor. 

Running is dumb.

I get to my bike, bang the hard left into the woods, mebbe in about seventh or eighth place... and almost immediately run over Chase and another guy who apparently tried to put two people into a one people sized hole between two trees.

The steep climbs hurt... so much, but at least I'm forced to up my pace, and I close the gap on a couple riders.  Make a pass.... another... Faster Mustache teammate Jason right on my rear wheel.  I don't think I can keep him there.

 photo cred: Jim Tonyan
Worth mentioning, same spot... Jim got this:

photo cred: Jim Tonyan
Which brings us this moment:

photo cred: Jim Tonyan
Tom, with an incredibly sweet photo bomb.

On a climb, I clip a tree with my bars and go down to the ground.  Jason goes by, so I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore.  Scramble to get back on my feet, heart rate maxed out, decide that if I'm going to make chase after him, I'm gonna need to settle in first.  The gap grows.

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt
I get to a point where I feel like mebbe there's about a mile left.  Over my shoulder, the guy behind would have to put in a serious effort to catch me.  Ahead to Jason, I'm facing the same situation.

I settle in and come into the finish in fourth place.

Stage Two:  We're starting with a pancake flat gravel stretch with a loose condition, soft right up a hill and into the woods.  32 X 18 and spinning like mad, the best I can do is mebbe seventh into the woods.  Not long into the first lap, I see the elevated structure option that I'd only seen on the internet up until now... and a huge crowd of spectators.  I know the go-around option is a huge time penalty, but my rule on structures I've never seen before is to never do something that I can't wheelie off of safely.  This thing is shoulder high and I can't see anything but the up ramp.

Kurdt showing how it's done:

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt
I take the right turn of shame to a round of boos... I assume I'm the first one to take the long, easy way.  I'm wrong.

The first bit of the lead group took the go-around until Jason Wilson takes the high line, and in doing so, also temporarily taking the lead.

Anyways, I know that skipping it for four laps is gonna cost me big time and put me outta the playing card scoring system (riders get cards, 1st place gets King and down from there), so I just sit up and soft pedal.  On the second lap, I get beer poured on me from a tree, so I stop, reach up... and finish the guy's beer for him.

Two more laps of boos and jeers and avoiding the high line, and I finish outta the cards.  Grab my bike, head into the woods, look at the elevated structure from one end to the other... and ride it in an effort to scrape what little pride I have left off the ground.

Shit.  It wasn't bad at all. Whoever said "discretion is the better part of valor" never had to face such an adverse situation, obvs.

Pretty sure that finishing out of the points in one of five stages means that I'm no longer in the running for a top three overall.  Top five?  That has to be a stretch now too.

Now what?