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Monday, February 18

I could screw up fish sticks

I had this past Friday off because the NBA All Star tournament meant zero parking for regular uptown working folks.  Obviously, I don't personally need a parking spot, but I'll take the day all the same.

I wanted to make the most of this rare blessed opportunity.  Temps in the 60s and sunshine.  Much buenos.  Except...

Thursday night, the dishwasher decided to start leaking.  A failed seal at the bottom of the door.  Try and google the seal part so I could order it... nothing.  Strange.

Wake up on my day off, start tearing into the machine.  I quickly discover that the seal is permanently attached to the inner door panel which happens to be a $107 part.  Meh.  Mebbe I can make take the seal off, clean it up, bend some metal bits, slide it back into place, crimp the metal back down.

I only made it about forty minutes into the job when I accidentally slid my ring finger across the exposed metal edge, and... sliced way deep into it.  Moan, bleed, rinse, observe... probably could use a couple stitches, but I've no desire to spend my time or money on just two loops of thread.  Hours of effort and a trip to the hardware store later, and sadly, my efforts still bore no fruit (aside from the even more broke dishwasher).  Shit.

I'm going riding.

Three times I stopped to move some downed limbs/trees, and three times I banged my finger pretty good.  When I got home, my dressing was soaked in blood again.  Meh.  Shower up, and with the help of The Pie RN, she made me this:

Which saved me some self-imposed pain and anguish and got me through the night. 

I woke up sore, but not finger sore.  Leg sore.  WTF?  I only rode about an hour and a half, so what could make me feel...

Oh yeah.  I spent about three hours hunched down on the floor working on the door (before giving up).  I guess I haven't been used to being in that position so long ever since I stopped playing in sand boxes.  Jeebus, I'm broke. 

My biggest effort on Saturday?  Riding to The Spoke Easy for beers with Bill Nye and friends. 

Woke up Sunday for shart tarck, still sore, still sliced...

but ready to get the series over with.

Thursday, February 14

Bad Idea Racing is Ded

There used to be a somewhat legitimate reason for the name Bad Idea Racing.  It dates back to before the blerhg started in 2006, the pre-'09 blerhg that is no more than dust in the wind at this point.  Don't know what happened to it, but I can't even find it anymore.

Probably for the best, although many of my best "bad ideas" are in there, as well as my "World Championship" and some great Viking content.

Way back when, no one was really doing stage races on a single speed.  In '04, La Ruta promoter Roman Urbino told me he didn't think anyone had ever done it on a single speed.  In '05, someone on the Trans Rockies forum told me that racing it on a rigid single speed would be a "bad idea."  The promoter of Iron Bike (which I ended up not doing) said "impossible..." that is once I got done explaining what a "single speed bike" is.

Now we're here.  People are single speeding all kinds of events.  Stage racing (for the most part) has evolved into a week of longer XC style stages as opposed to the insane back country slogfests we were treated to back then.  I can remember an eight hour day at the '05 Trans Rockies full of mud and hypothermia and waist deep creek crossings and some people finishing even while most of us were sitting down to dinner.

Also, I used to be way more into dumb feats of endurance.  Trying to ride 200 something miles solo and fully loaded to the beach on Thanksgiving morning on an almost functional road bike with a hand scrawled cue sheet.  Taking on the Pisgah Hush Hush ride, a 100 mile self-supported route of mostly singletrack that only one person finished in 23+  hours.  Both of those were failures on my part.

It's been a long time since I've attempted something that I didn't know I was 100% capable of finishing (aside from my taxes).  Riding while sleep deprived or to the point that I'll destroy my physical being so much so that riding for pleasure just won't happen again for weeks (let alone, make commuting and doing my job awful)... that just sounds like some things I don't wanna do anymore.  It's been a very long time since I've ridden until my taint turned into hamburger.  I'm glad I lost that loving feeling around the same time that Amateur Homeless Personing really started taking off.

I've also come to an unfortunate conclusion.  Thanks to the fact that I've easily banked at least six hours of saddle time every week since late 1996, I can just about fake my way through most events.  Not nearly podium level performances, but I can turn the pedals for long periods of time... assuming I can convince myself that there's some reason to do it.

"Unfortunate?"

Yeth, because armed with such knowledge, things like last year's PMBAR happen.  You know, when Watts and I just rode around contemplating the meaning of life and taking a less "meh" route, despite how little sense it made to be out there any longer than we needed... because we had figured out the meaning of life in the first hour of our day.

Bikes.  Burritos.  Beer.  Friends.  Solid bowel movements.

So, Vague Idea Racing... because... burritos... and also solid bowel movements, despite the fact that those two things do not necessarily go hand in hand.

Vague because I don't really know what I'm doing.  The decision to give racing 50+ a serious try, despite the fact that I only have a single speed, and I'm not really picking races that lean towards my skill set and equipment choice is ill advised.  I don't want to train, eat right, shy away from beer, or basically "try" too hard.  Most of the races I'm interested in the near future (or I've already done) don't even have a 50+ category.

We have a calendar at work where we all post up our days off.  I usually have 75% of my PTO figured out for the entire year already up there by the end of January.  Right now, nothing.  Simply put, it's because my ambitions and direction keep changing from the time I wake up until I go to bed.

All I know is that I'm not content with being content, and I can no easier explain it to you than I can myself.

There is one event that has no class(es) that I'll do no matter what.

Best part is, everyone wins.  Watts Fappening 4.  The biggest thing ever since Watts Fappening 3, I promise.*

*
I mentioned this last because who really cares about this non-event event anyways?

Tuesday, February 12

Winter Shart Track Series: Race 3 + 1 = 4

In case you've lost track, let's get you up to speed. 

Barring misfortunes or miracles, the top three spots in the series in the 50+ class were set last week.  Even when I found out that this fourth race would be double points, the best I could hope for is to beat Deese in the final two races for a series tie. 

*sigh*

The weather is chilly.  The course is packed and dry.  My cold is (mostly) in my rear view mirror?  Mebbe.

Once again, I can't match the speed at the start, and I enter the woods in the fifth spot.  Mobley and his lap one blocker, Deese, cross bike guy from last week Dan, and me.  I get a clean run up the A-line climb, outta the woods, pass the blocker and the cross guy... until he opens up his skinny tired bike on the pavement and blows by me. 

Second lap goes down the same way.  Move into third for a moment only to get dropped back to fourth again.

photo cred: Dread
Third lap, heading towards the A-line climb... and Dan and his cross bike tumble just in front of me.  I see it coming in time, dismount, run up on his right side... get pinched in the trees and bramble... he's slow to get back in the saddle.  I lift my bike over his backside, drop it down on his left, and get back on faster than he can.  I put my head down, and now I have a gap and third place.

photo cred: Dread
Third place or last, doesn't matter.  Gotta slow down enough to get a Charlotte Bike Mayor $5 hand up.

I hold my spot for a couple laps, gain more ground on the cross bike... but then Cardozo bridges up to me.  He skipped last week, so points-wise, he's not a threat.  Dunno what to do.  Race hard, risk my biscuit in the gravel'esque turns, try to stay on the podium for the day?

I let him come around and try to hold his wheel.

Coming through the woods on the second to last lap, I'm still in striking distance.  Daniel (in the SS class) is between us.  I let him know I wanna come around soon... get too close to his wheel coming through the normally innocuous rock garden... and bobble.  Doh.  Just like that, I lose both their wheels, and my impatient effort to close the gap all too quickly puts me at the red line where I'd normally be recovering.

Cardozo isn't having any of my nonsense, and when he hits the gravel, he opens the distance up between us to a very discouraging place.

A quick look over my shoulder looking for bikes with gears or the cross bike.  Nothing.

Fourth it is.

And that's that.

So mebbe next week I'll be totally outta the woods with this sickness and go for one more podium in the final event or mebbe I ride my fun squish bike and shit and giggle my way to a mid-pack finish that will still see me on the overall series podium or mebbe I get sicker... ?

I've truly been enjoying the series and all the distractions it has to offer.  I'll be a little sad when it's over, but getting my Sundays back will be much buenos.  That and comparing last week's sick lap times to this week's not-as-sick times, early onset apathy mode was engaged from lap three all the way to the finish.

Finish with "Eye of the Tiger" or "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For?"

Thursday, February 7

Components of an Old Man

I really liked that image from Wednesday's blerhg, enough so that I created a new header image to replace the stale one from so many years ago.  More about "BAD" becoming "VAGUE" later.

The details are mesmerizing, especially for a $6 download.  It captures my weathered and torn old man being very well.  Definitely a more current version of mine self.

Hair...

Where is it?  Sliding off the back of my head and down my neck apparently.  Better than choosing to grow out of my ears, I guess.  I do so miss my long hair days, but I knew that was a last chance for gas, Hail Mary effort.

Without the help of certain chemicals that are targeted at me on social media (I'm guessing because of my age or some algorithm that detects hair loss in photos), this is my life now.  Mebbe a rat tail, but The Pie would prefer that not be something I do... ever again.

That mustache...

I haven't been working on it near as long as the, as Watts called it, the "I don't mind stealing bread hair thing on my chin."

It has a certain amount of gray in it that gives away my age, and probably says something about my IQ and my affinity towards flannel rock.  I have to work extra hard to keep the mustache from touching the "stealing bread hair thing" because ever since I noticed the facial hair on Chuck Todd of Meet the Press, goatees have been ruined for me.

Another sign that I'm old?  I watch Meet the Press.

Anyways, the mustache does a great job covering up the current topo map of cold sores on my upper lip, so mebbe I keep it until I'm done with the "season," if for no other reason.

And while were here, that pain face...

I'm probably at least ten seconds into the part of the trail where one would be seeking some recovery from a large effort.  I'd like to chalk it up to illness, but I'm sure the fact that my heart rate is just 105 BPM twenty four seven has a lot to do with it.

This skin...

The result of too much suns out guns out action perhaps?  No matter how comfortable I feel in my own skin, it apparently wants to be in a Salvador Dali painting.  Sometimes I think I'm falling apart, but mebbe I'm just melting?

This muscle(?) tho... ?

No idea.  I don't know what exercise one would do to advance the growth of that muscle, and once developed, how one might use to perform a useful activity.  I'm just gonna assume it's a tumor, because I've had enough old dogs now to know that eventually they get random lumps on them towards the latter part of their lives.  I don't wanna ask the doctor what it is, as I know that usually leads to the "quality of life" talk.

I'm old.  Things change.  I'm over it.

Of all the quotes I could find on the topic of aging, Groucho Marx said it best:

"Age is not a particularly interesting subject. Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough."

That said, Shart Tarck Race #4 this weekend, where I'll once again toe the line with a bunch of guys who also lived long enough to race in the 50+ category.

Wednesday, February 6

What now? Part Two

If I did my math correctly, Mobley has first place locked up in the Charlotte Winter Shart Tarck Series.  Deese has the same solid hold on second place.  Me?  I wallow in my own filth.

photo cred: Supercycling
Might explain why they joined me in the woods after our race for refreshments for the first time since the series started.

Mobley trying to figure out if he can give the spoiler guy from JA King who won the 50+ class a negative review on Yelp.

Deese in front of the series beer sponsor banner wearing a different beer sponsor team jersey mebbe drinking neither.

The first two weeks, I was at least able to say that I was the only one in the AARP class that was:

* rigid
* single
* droopy
* sleeveless
* staying the rest of the day and enjoying the fruits of hard labor

Now I can only lay claim to the first four.

I needed to beat Deese in the final three races to move into second.  Two more victories (over him) would put us in a tie assuming nobody finished between us.  Since he managed to finish ahead of me AND have another rider in between us again, the only thing that would help me gain a spot now would be an implosion of either of those guys.

And zero implosions on my part.

Also, I'm pretty sure the way things are rounding out, I just have to not fall completely off the mark to keep third overall.  Basically, I have no motivation to go really, really fast the next two weeks, unless I wanna get on another podium before it's all said and done.

I figure I'll just go and see what's what.  I had a great time with the back-and forth action I had at the week two race with more than a few riders, so mebbe it would be fun to replicate that?  Or mebbe I just have a blast ripping around without a care in the world?  I know the former hurts (a lot) and the latter is most definitely in my wheelhouse.

Dunno.

I will say that the first couple of weeks of intense effort certainly did a little something to give me some snap in my pedal stroke that I could feel on my commutes... right up until I got sick, overdid it, neglected my body's needs. and ended up with a few decent cold sore on Monday (thank you very muchly, compromised immune system).  Regardless of overall performance, visits to a podium or illnesses, I'm getting what I wanted outta the Shart Tarck Series.  A good kick in the dick, some fitness heading into Spring, and a distraction from the same ole same ole.

Tuesday, February 5

Winter Shart Tarck Series: Race три

Hmmmm.

The ride over to the shart tarck confirms my feels.  I have no snap in my legs, and I can't get my heart rate up to where I'd need it to be if I want to repeat (or improve on) last week's performance.  I was only able to beat Dwayne because I could red line myself when I needed to on every lap and put distance between us.

But I'm going to "race" anyways, so there's that.

Do my lame warm up and head to the start.

Line up between a FNG in a JA King kit and another quinquagenarian, the guy from last week who was on a 26" wheeled Tomac, now on a cross bike with way-narrow tires.  I mention to the JA King rider that he looks like a spoiler to me, tell the cross bike man he's really gonna toast folks on the gravel/paved bits.  Wave to Mobley and Deese... and... go.

Holy crap.  Although I get clipped in on the first pedal stroke this time, I'm off the back already at the top of the parking lot hairpin.  Ahead of me, the spoiler from JA King, Mobley (and his first lap blocker teammate), Deese, and the cross bike into the woods ahead of me.  I feel blown already.

And that's how the whole day went.

photo cred: James Tonyan
As soon as I get to where I need to make my bread, I've got nothing.  I make it past Mobley's teammate, and that's it.  I spend the rest of the day in no man's land.  Too far behind anyone to make chase, and too far ahead of anyone else to give two shits.  My terrible condition and fatigue (and the additional two PSI I put in my rear tire) make it difficult to clean the A-line climb outta the woods.  At best, I was five for eight cleaning it, with two of the successes being pretty ugly.

Hmmmm.

I'll get more into it in another post, but I've basically sealed my fate here.  Without someone else doing something to change things, I just have to not suck any worse than I just did.  Avoid the flu or death or injury and ride in sixteen more circles.

BTW: That was a fifth place finish, for those who aren't mathologists.

Monday, February 4

Winter Shart Tarck Series: Race три... the Preamble

A preamble on a sub-40 minute race?  Mon dieu.

I think in all the years of the shart tarck's existence (since 2004?), I've only done the whole series four or five times.  I've turned ill every single time during the series... except the year that I broke a rib after the first race.

So why would I think this year would be any different?

The Pie returned from a marathon almost a month ago with a decent cold that settled in her lungs.  Pretty sure I dodged that bullet.  Then Nia brought a cold home from school.  Thought I'd be able to stay outta that one too, but no dice.  Last Wednesday, I was starting to feel it.  It was full-on by Thursday, but I was taking Zicam in an effort to ward off the worst.  The weekend weather was looking the best it has ever been in months, and trail conditions all around should be solid, so I figured on Saturday, I'd just do a chill ride locally.  Limit my damage but also making hay while the sun shines.

Then I got a PM from Todd on Facebook around 9:00PM on Friday.

"Pizguh tomorrow?"

Dammit.

I haven't been to the mountains since November.  I finally have fully functioning warrantied brakes on the Vassago Meatplow V.8, and temps in Brevard are going to be close to 60°.  The Pie knows I've been itching to get to the high country for quite awhile now, so she'd be understanding if I disappear for an entire day...

I'm in.
An incredible day with Todd and Rich "Rice Watts" Tsui. 

We were mostly on a route to help Rich familiar with how Pisgah works, being that he's signed up for his first PMBAR.  We rode some of my favorite trails near the fish hatchery for this time of year.  We even ran into Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever out on a ride with Scott from Indianapolis (who basically lives in Pisgah IMHOMO).

We got back to the car with something like 22-23 miles on the day, and Todd says, "Do you guys wanna go hit a Cove Creek loop... mebbe another 8 miles?"

Sure?

I mean, it's a sleeveless shirt day in Pisgah in February with a couple guys I don't ever get to do the Pisgah with, so how can I say no?

From Rich's STRAVA (started a little late), that last hump was what we added to the day.  Both he and I had shart tarck in the morning, so we took the climb at a muy tranquilo pace.  It mighta just been the bridge too far for me tho...

Home around 7:00PM, I was hoping that some squeezy bags and couch time would heal all wounds, but I woke up Sunday a little stiff.  After all, that was (sadly) my biggest ride in months.  I did it while trying to get over a cold, and I certainly over-extended myself.  Guessing that the conditions would be even drier and faster than last week, I added a couple PSI to the tires and decided I would just hope I could recreate the magic from last week.

Shit in one hand, hope in the other...

Oddly enough, there was a point on the ride when we stopped and were talking, and I mentioned that "Bad Idea Racing" has kinda lost it's vibe, being that I rarely do the kinds of things that people consider a "bad idea" anymore (other than continuing to write a blerhg).

Self-fulfilling prophecy much?

Mebbe.