Monday, October 23

My First (almost) Productive Day of Fisting the Cycles

I don't know why, but I thought it would be a great idea to ride my bike to the Cyclo Fist.  I knew that meant I'd have sixteen pointless road miles in my legs before I even straddled my first demo, and also I'd have burned all my breakfast calories away...


I got there slightly after 9:00.  Not bad for not really knowing how long it would take me to ride to the USNWC... despite having done it countless times in the past.  I went straight to the Santa Cruz tent assuming they would be in high demand.  I was right.  Nothing in my size.   Next option, Mondraker.

Head over to their tent with Watts who had found me at an opportune time. We both get bikes.  My first choice of model (Foxy) but mebbe (definitely) a size too large.

Watts and I played bikes together in a manner in which we never have before.  Both squishing and shifting and drooping.  So strange.

The bike felt like a magic carpet.  I guess technology has been happening since the last time I was paying attention.  Did you know there's a such thing as sliced bread?

Anyways, we had a hoot.  The bike was an absolute blast, but it was time to swap.  Back to Santa Cruz.  No mediums.  Meh.  At least I finally got to meet Santa Cruz's Don P IRL and no longer we're just Faceblips who consider each other "friends" without benefits on the internet.

Over to Pivot.

"Small Mach 5.5, por favor?"

"No. Small Mach 6?"

Why not?

Watts grabs a 429 Trail, and we go back out again.

Jeebus.  I've been hiding under a rock. This bike is dope.  I run into everything on the trail and try to boost off the smallest of all the things. Watts tells me that he doesn't "play bikes."  Trbl.

photo cred: Watts
It had been hours since I ate, and I started feeling like ass.  Watts suggested we get a beer.  I concurred.  Returned the bikes and we headed to Beer Island.

I did eat some regrettable chili fries, and when Watts suggested a second beer, I concurred once more.

photo cred: Dorothy
My demoing experience was doomed.  Watts and Dorothy left, but Daily and Barlow showed up, more beer, watch some cyclo ross, accept a car ride back towards the big buildings.

I rode home from Daily's house, ate four packs of Ramen and a can of tuna (plastic bikes don't pay for themselves), and turned on the computer.  Time for some more research.

I looked at geometry charts, model features, build kits... all the damn things.  Seriously.  Until my eyes were burnt by the glow of the screen.

I realized that I needed to go back to the demo Sunday.


Friday, October 20

Off to the Fisting of Cycles

I'm heading to Cyclofest tomorrow... or Cyclo Fap Fest.. or Cyclo Fist... or Cyclo Fap Fist.

What have you.

I coulda planned on going to the mountains with Bill Nye, but I decided this is where my time would be best spent.  I'm honestly considering the purchase of a full suspension mountain bike in the near future.  Instead of just looking at pretty pictures, reading a few reviews, and plunking down the plastic, I thought it would be smart to try and test ride a few bikes before I make a (quickly) regrettable and money wasting decision.  This is my chance to ride the few bikes I've narrowed myself down to back to back to back to back to back...

That is, assuming I have the umption to follow through with the whole demo thing.

The idea of standing in line, waiting my turn, basically just being a regular choad at Cyclo Fist...

Nothing against the choads.  I'm no better than anyone else and am just a choad myself, quite honestly.  I'm just not a fan of waiting in line for any consumable good or experience.  It forces me to consider just how badly I want something, and nine outta ten times, I'm pretty sure I don't want it that bad.  I once stepped outta line at a register with a pair of shorts, put them back and walked out.  Too much time being a "consumer" doing some "consuming" for me.

If I walk past some free left over lunch outside a conference room at work, and everyone is clamoring over the hot trays of chicken, salmon, or whatever, I walk on by with my pride or whatever it is in tact. 

But if it's a box lunch with a ten dollar sammich and some chips just sitting there all alone?


I don't know if I'm going to have time to demo all the bikes I'd like to while I'm there.

Santa Cruz: Bronson, 5010, Hightower (29) and Hightower LT

A brand that's near and dear to my heart.  I've owned a Bullit, Superlight, Tallboy and briefly, a Nomad.  I raced 24 Hour Solo for them in a very grass roots manner before moving on to Ellsworth, and I've always respected their whole "not changing shit for the sake of change" mentality.

Mondraker: Foxy

Mondraker is new to the US this year.  The Foxy looks dope as hell and has great reviews.  Where they spec SRAM on some models, they still gave the nod to Shimano brakes.  That saves me a step down the road 

Pivot: Mach 5.5 and 429 Trail

Pivot just makes dope shit.  Lotsa Shimano spec'ed bikes.  So well thought out.  Simply yummy.

I know those bikes are all over the place as far as wheel size and travel.  At least they all have one water bottle cage (where a human can reach it), and a model that sits at my price point...

Which may be dumb.

Certain changes in my life might make the ownership of another bike (especially of this type) quite the illogical thing to pursue.  Despite this, I feel like I need to follow through on this opportunity to try them out before I might make a bad decision or not.  Even if I don't end up buying something, the worst thing would be that I spent a day riding bikes.

Which is never a bad thing to do.

So if you see me standing around the demo area drinking a beer before noon, slap it outta my hand and push me into a line of fellow choads.  I'll thank you later.

And of course, I realize that no matter what, this might not end well.  I've been telling myself that a full suspension bike with all the moving pieces might be good medicine.  Mebbe my body would appreciate the break from all the wear and tear of riding rigid/hardtail/single speed.

I honestly don't know.

But I've been told so by a man (not) much older, slightly balder, and infinitely wiser... so there's that.

Wednesday, October 18

The '17 Bicycle Times Adventure Fist: Part Three

The night before, we had come up with a plan to shuttle to the top of Reddish Knob and ride down Timber and Wolf.  We were hoping that if we got to it early enough, we'd have time for more riding later in the day.

Let me preface the following tale with the fact(s) that:

This was mostly my idea.

I hate shuttles.

It's not that I am one of those "earn your turns" kinda guys.  I get that sometimes a shuttle can make a certain ride much more possible without making it an all day affair... which is what we were trying to accomplish.

The thing I don't like is all the planning.  X number of riders in Y number of cars with Z number of racks to get from points A and B and who drives and who rides and who sits in a parking lot and waits an amount of time that borders on being a total waste... etc.

I'd rather just ride.

But yet, I said, "Hey, we should totally shuttle from Reddish tomorrow."

So that's what we were going to do.

Wake up in the garage, shuffle up the hill to camp, find some people awake and going about their day.  Others are still in a prone position, tucked away in their portable sleeping chambers.  I decide to start putting on riding clothes because the best way to get people moving is to create an environment that makes them that they are behind in their preparations.  Scott texts me and tells me that the Bicycle Times ride (which has usurped our shuttle plan) is getting ready to leave if we wanna jump in on it.

I scan the area.  We're at least 45 minutes from a state of readiness.  Thanks and sorry.

Finally, six people jump in three cars with six bikes and head to the lower Wolf lot.  Drop the Honda Fit of Rage and six people and two cars head up to Reddish.  By the time we get there, it's 11:00AM.

Get ready and we all stare at the steps at the top.  Zac makes a few roll-ups, Bill Nye dives in, the rest of get tired of waiting, Zac cleans it, and the ride (which starts as a walk for the other four of us) begins.

Sorry.  Don't know if I'll ever come to terms with stair #3 enough to do this.

Everything's going great... until we get around the first corner (within earshot of the stairs), and Bill Nye is messing with a slow leak already.  Meh.  We roll on and get to the scree field and then... snap.  My seat busts clean off the post.

That's a problem.

Mebbe I can ride it out as is?

I hop on, wiggle my butt around the proximity of the remaining front rails to see if it will snag my shorts... and rip a hole in the ass.  The shorts that I just made out of a pair of $7.48 pair of Target pants a week ago.  Meh.

Deciding that it's probably not the best idea to ride the rest of the way down the mountain with an ass-ripping exposed saddle rail, I remove my tube from the seat (which I tucked into my belt for safe keeping), and use my Race Strap to keep it in place on the exposed rails... in a place it wasn't designed to work... because.  I start down the hill wondering if an errant movement of my leg might dislodge my load.  I unerrantly move my leg and knock the tube loose, watching it bound down the trail between my legs.  Meh.

Go back up the hill, retrieve my tube, strap it back on, break out the Gorilla Tape. 

A much more permanent temporary solution, me thinks.

Get rolling again and play catch up only to roll up on Lee and Bill Nye standing in the trail. Bill Nye is on flat number two. Meh. They say they've got it handled, so I continue on to hopefully find the others to update them on what's going on, as if I can wrap my head around it.

Catch up to Zac, Colin and Tod.  Get them up to speed.  Lee shows up.  Bill Nye is going back to the car.  Zac is on a borrowed bike from Bill Nye.  He deliberates for a second or two as to whether or not he should give up the bike.  He heads back, can't find Bill Nye... we roll on.

Descending Timber and Wolf without a saddle is not something I'd recommend.  Riding that long down a mountain on your tip toes is quite exhausting.  Not having the saddle to help control the rear end of a hardtail bouncing all over the trail is quite exciting tho.  Regardless, I plan on keeping a saddle on my bike in the future.

Five of us make it the rest of the way to the bottom unscathed where Bill Nye just arrived with one of the up top cars.  What followed was some head scratching.  To get Bill Nye a chance at glory, Zac and Colin would go up with Tod and Bill Nye so the latter could ride back down (BN on the Zac borrow bike) and Colin and Zac could drive the up top cars back down while I stole a saddle from the dead bike to make my bike undead so Lee and I could ride the seven or so miles back to camp and Colin's bike would be stuffed in the back of my car with the dead bike left on the rack and whatever stuff I might need out of the back of my car shoved in a string backpack since I didn't know how long it was going to be before I saw it again...

Did I mention I hate shuttles?

Once I get back to "camp," I decide to crack a beer, tear down my unused tent, and fully commit to the act of couch squatting for the last night.   I could ride my bike some more, mebbe demo a bike... do something useful with my time.

But I do none of that.

I spend the rest of the night just hanging out and talking and having fun until it's time to schlep my way back down to the couch to end my night, and essentially, my Dirt Fist experience.

Tuesday, October 17

The '17 Bicycle Times Adventure Fist: Part Two

Wake up in the garage, but in the daylight this time.  I wander into the lodge and see the staff moving about.  They have things to get done.  Bill Nye and I have none.  There's much activity buzzing about, and slowly the main room empties out, no one left inside except us.

We decide to hang out and wait until things are less moist outside.  Mebbe when some of the other Charlotte people arrive, we head out on bikes for the purpose of finding joy.  Eventually, noon rolls around and we haven't eaten since 3:30PM the day before, so we plan on heading into town for Thai food...

At the same restaurant we went to a month ago when I lost a car key and Bill Nye forgot his jacket in said restaurant.  I mean, what are the odds that we could be that stupid again?

Scott, Bill Nye and I arrive back at camp around 2:00PM.  A scheduled group ride was heading out.  We miss it.  Watts, Lee and Courtney are in the same predicament tho, so we do a group ride of our own on Lookout Mountain.

Anything eventful happen other than a good time?

photo cred: Watts
Mebbe.  Something not worth sharing but very distracting on the climb up Hankey.  Mebbe also watching Watts pilot a full squish bike down the mountain quite well until he didn't and ended up ass over tea kettle in a nasty rock garden.

Or Courtney trying to pop her eye out of the socket with the end of her handlebar negotiating the rocks at the bottom of the descent.

Anyways, we got back in with plenty of time for a cold shower and... the evening went somewhere.  I know it did.

A campfire?

Drinking some sort of liquid that tasted like Listerine and Dr Bronner's bath soap/hand soap/laundry detergent/dish washing liquid that the Lauf guys had?


Somehow, I ended up back at the lodge before the evening was over, and once again, being that my tent was far away up the hill, I made the presumption that the empty garage couch was mine unless told otherwise.

Monday, October 16

The '17 Bicycle Times Adventure Fist: Part One

I'm out the door forty minutes late because the adult things won't stop coming into my world.  I hop in the Honda Fit of Rage knowing full well that the "business" ain't done yet and won't be for some time.  The Pie is gonna take the brunt of it while I'm out playing in the woods for the next few days.

Scoop up Bill Nye and stop for broceries.  Make our way north and east... again.

We stop at Carvin's Cove in Roanoke, because the weather is looking pretty iffy later when we get to Stokesville.  There's a surprising number of people in the parking lot, considering that it's the middle of the day on a Thursday.  We jump on our bikes and head down Hi-Dee-Ho, which is actually two miles with 883ft of up because I don't read maps so good.

"You should let the geography major look at the map," Bill Nye grumbles.


Upon further review, it appears that most of the trails fall off the ridge line where Brushy Mountain Fire Road sits.  The only "easy" way up is the five miles gravel road from the marina, which I remember from the race last year... which means there is no easy way up.

Down the OG Jump Line...

and the geography major amongst us is much happier.  We shoot back up the top for another run because our ride plan is, if anything, fluid.

OG to Gauntlet and I realize that the things I thought we had time for, we didn't.  If we wanted to get something to eat and set up camp before dark, we had to start heading back to the car.  Up the Trough and down Hi-Dee-Ho and on our way to Mexican food and then Stokesville.

Fortunately (or not), The Pie needed much adult information from me over the phone throughout my meal.  Fortunate because I had signal and could respond.  Unfortunate because I don't even remember eating or if my food was any good.  Meh.

Into Stokesville just as the sun was diving down behind the mountains, set up camp in front of my parking lights, and head down to the lodge to look for the Bicycle Times/Dirt Rag folks.

Drink beers into the late hours of the night.

Scott asks us if we'd rather sleep on the couches in the garage instead of schlepping all the way back up the hill to our moist tents.


Scott asks us if we'd like blankets.

"No," we reply for some reason other than that it would have been the smart thing to do.

I spend the night pulling cushions over myself for warmth.  Eventually, I awake with the desire to pee... hard.  I stumble around the garage in the dark looking for a side door only to discover none.  I find the door into the lodge, come across a bathroom, make good use of it, wander back to the garage, enter, shut the door...

it's pitch black.  Within seconds, I'm walking into chairs, tables, corners, bikes... everything.  Everything except my couch.  I'm starting to panic a bit, as I think my only option is going to be sleeping on the garage floor, and then a hand reaches out and grabs mine.

"What are you doing?"

"Where am I?"

"You're in the garage at the Stokesville Lodge."

"Where's my couch?"

Bill Nye walks me the five steps from his couch to mine, and within minutes, I shiver myself back to sleep.

Monday, October 9

Who hit the pause button?



I've been dealing with the kind of adult world reality stuff that limits my time that's normally reserved for staring at bikes I'm never gonna buy, being all social mediarific. and MS Paint "work."

The kind of stuff I normally like to avoid has displaced my unhealthy distractions with angst-riddled restlessness.

I still think about bikes.  I even ride them sometimes.

I'm probably not gonna get all my ducks neatly in rows before Thursday, but I'm headed out to the Bicycle Times Adventure Fest with Bill Nye regardless of my level or preparedness.  I'm hoping the very limited phone signal and internet access will do me some good.   I'd like to sleep through the night without fever anxiety dreams and alarm clocks reminding me that I need to get up and get shit done every day.  Ride, drink, sleep, repeat.

Like Dog wanted it to be, before it all went to shit.

And mebbe come back with some good stories and even some better news that all this other crap will soon be over with and life can go back to staring at bikes I won't buy etc.

Monday, October 2

Short, sweet... like me.

A great weekend celebrating the birth of our lord and savior, Leaf Life.

A ride on Big Creek, which I haven't done since I had back issues... two years ago?

Super dry conditions.  Emboldened by the omega traction, I made that stupid move on Laurel that I don't even bother trying much any more.  I credit the mid-plussers and how early in the ride it was that my legs were fresh enough to do it.

Zac made it as well, but being that he knows how to hop his bike around and doesn't mind some occasional consequences (as witnessed later on the Lord of the Rings trail), expected.

 It was the kinda ride I look forward to all summer.   Cool temps, all day with no agenda, trail beers.

 Others, including the birthday boy, showed up sometime after the Saturday ride...

and before we knew it, the time was 11:30PM.  I had decided to sleep in the dirt.  I haven't just slept out in the open on the ground in awhile.  I probably won't do it again for a very long time.  Ditch lifestyle ain't necessarily for me anymore.

Another shorter ride within the tolerance levels of my self-sabotaged body on Sunday with even more friends in tow.

An amazingly crisp September day.  Conditions so dusty that we had to leave a gap between riders coming down Spencer in order to be able to see the trail ahead.   Sick.

Despite getting lit up by yellow jackets coming off the last trail of the day, it was an incredible way to spend a weekend.   They are assholes, tho. 

Two more weeks and my favorite seasonal loop is open.  Even more buenos.

I know everyone says this, but I love fall.

Except the leaves... and the cold... and pumpkin beer.