Thursday, July 2

Premium Level Members of the Shirtless Club for Men (and other stuff)

BC Bike Race began last weekend.  The Tour de Burg started yesterday.  The Tour de France kicks of this Saturday.

I'm not competing in any of them.

Super bummed about the BC Bike Race.  The last time I did it was back in 2013, and I only knew a few people there.  This year, it seems like everybody and their brother is racing.

Obviously, Team Tall is making their presence known... they were the guys who tried to kill me with gin and juice out of a turkey baster at 12 Hours of Santos.   Ten people, twenty... dunno.  So many friends.  Meh.

I'll miss the Tour de Burg, but only in that way that one misses an annual near-death experience.  2016 will be the 20th anniversary, so I have no plans to miss that one.  I'm already concocting some way to have a road machine worthy of the tortuous road/gravel stages that are sure to come.  I'm not buying a road bike, but I gotta do something to make the 175-200 miles survivable.  I'll miss my little friends there too.

The Annual First Night Cutting of the Hair at Le Directeur's House undaerway

The Tour de France?  Not too many of my friends doing that, so I've got that going for me.  Don't think I have a channel that carries it.  I guess I could fire up my ancient laptop, search for a recap... all that will take almost as long as watching it.  Aahh... the highlights (sprints, wrecks, bottle tosses, head butts, stuffed animal punching) will be on the internet, and I'll have already read the spoilers at work anyways.

I'm off tomorrow, so I guess I'll chase some fitness on my own.  I'll never get anything close to the shape I get into when I do a stage race, but I won't end up with cold sores or diarrhea, so that's pretty cool too.  Pisgah on Sunday with Bill Nye, because he says it's a "moral imperative" that we be there.

Three weeks and change until the Wilderness 101, and although it will be my... I dunno, just another hundie, I'm still worried.  I guess "concerned" is a better word.  Sounds like a long time to be in the saddle.  How did I get talked into this...


BTW:  I just backed this on Kickstarter yesterday:

Great idea and nice execution (but corny video).   I've tried those stupid plastic tester clip-ins on my bike in the past, and they suck.  I also don't want commuter friendly, single-sided clipless pedals on any bike... ever.  These just make sense.  The ability to hop on any of my bikes without doing more than clicking these bad Larrys in place and stepping into my flip-flops?  Awesome.  Stage races where my bike is my transportation when I'm not racing?  Molar awesome.  Bummed that they won't be in my hands before making seventy billion trips on my racer bike to the grocery store/bar/beer-a-torium/racer meetings/bag drop-off/burrito runs at the Breck Epic. 

There's always next year, I guess.


Tuesday, June 30

Gross Negligence

I'm confident that I can keep 1.5 bikes running smooth at all times.  My main bike (Vertigo Meatplow V.7) and my tarck bike... well, at least half of it.  I have enough focus to do that.  Any other bike will never get ridden often enough for me to remember that there's something going on that needs attention.

I felt a little... ummmmmmmm, timid on the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 while I was playing in West Virginia.  The last time I personally rode it off-road?  The stage of the TSE where I wrecked and died.

So it's no wonder that my pads were worn down to the retention springs, both brakes had a sticky piston (the front way worse than the rear), I still needed to replace one more bearing in the rear wheel (pretty sure those bearings are the originals, 1+ year old), the 32X19 gear was still in there, and I also still didn't have the correct pressure in the fork.  Eeeeeeeesh. 

It was time to wipe off the white board ("build a clothesline" is still on there?) and start all over again with a clean but now not so clean slate.

Time spent blogging is time spent not working on bikes and time spent working on bikes is time not spent with The Pie while Nia is at camp, so work to do gotta get done.

Four day work week has me all horned up on getting some riding in and some shit done SOON. 

Tools of the fixing a sticky piston trade.

Maybe shoulda swapped the pads BEFORE the TSE?

Finally gonna get to see how well the TruckerCo metallic sintered pads work vs the organic semi-metallic that are on the Vertigo.

Bottomed out the BRAIN-Dead fork dropping off something last week.  When did I get fat?

Monday, June 29

We r-u-n-n o-f-t

The weird thing was that when people asked The Pie and I where we were headed last weekend, we'd say, "Charleston."

To which the interested party would say, "Ooooh, that's nic.."

"West Virginia."

"Oh.... why?"

Well, we like it.  Something about a city on a river.  People that are slightly more like the ones we grew up around in Ohio than the ones we reside close to now in Charlotte.

Yeth, it's a bit of shame that certain things there have fallen into a sad state of affairs.  Litter is pretty bad.  The consumption of Mountain Dew is high.  It's a diamond in the (very) rough.  It seems like a city with some history.  Basically, a slightly nicer version of Youngstown, OH with water.

But the place feels very... unnnnhh... "America."

We went straight to the Kanawha State Forest when we got there.  The Pie went on a trail run.  I went for a ride.

I hate to say it, but I got lost... in the sense that I came off my intended route, pushed up a trail I would have wanted to ride down, went looking for an off-the-map trail, and came upon this:

Fallen trees from a recent storm.  Big.  Many.  The slope on either side was silly.  I had to go down the hill without my bike, break limbs until I had a sorta clear path, went back, grabbed my bike, got it most of the way, kinda pitched it the rest of the way... and then moved on.  I then found myself off my map, turned back towards where I thought I might find myself again, made my way to Black Bear, went down, committed to finding Wildcat Ridge, once again found myself unsure of my location, guessed my way along.. and found myself where I wanted to be.

I made it back about twenty minutes before the time I had told The Pie to start worrying.  We drove into town, checked in, went on a walk about, found food at a brewery, and then found this:

A concert down by the river with decent music, incredible people-watching, beer, shirtless men dancing, and t-shirt sling-shotting.

The next day was more walking about and seeing things and eating and drinking and watching things float by.

And noticing things we ain't seen here before in our previous trips about town.

Another mellow day of being strangers in a strange land, and the next morning, one final hike in the Kanawha State Forest before returning to normalcy.

Normal for us anyways.

And back to the grind and work and "training" and blogging and "watching what I eat."

Wednesday, June 24

Club Pride (now with ™)

I think by now, everyone is aware of the fact that I think sleeves are stupid on most shirts... at least when it's warm'ish outside.  I get the social construct that it's appropriate in most settings to cover one's shoulders... if you're a man, but not at the beach... although a woman can have bare shoulders wherever she wants but can't take her top off at the beach... while a man can... and no one should walk into a convenient store without a shirt at all... because... exposure to nipples of any gender can spoil the rolling hot dogs?

I started hacking sleeves off my t-shirts in '85 or '86.  Don't exactly remember exactly.  My mom used to tell me that I was ruining my clothes, but if I was more apt to wear a sleeveless t-shirt than one with extra fabric covering my upper arm, then allow me to define "ruined" for myself.  Besides, t-shirts are way easier to fold when they are nothing more than a rectangle.

I don't always want to ride in a regular cycling jersey.  The freedom of something other the a zippered, high-collared, pocket-laden blouse is a beautiful thing.  A ride just becomes more pleasant when you feel less geared up and performance oriented.  Sleeveless t-shirts don't allow for the same kind of airflow as an unzipped jersey, so that's why I became a fan of the button-up, sleeveless riding shirt.

Yeth, I'm wearing a pack... and riding a bike with gears... and full suspension.  You do strange things when you win a contest.

Anyways, I've always just cut the sleeves off cotton, button-up Goodwill shirts wishing for a more technical/breathable fabric.  My own line of Club Pride shirts were born out necessity, as I probably woulda hacked the sleeves off a regular Club Ride shirt, but I found myself swimming in their size small.  SWIMMING.  I've won/been gifted three of them in the past and had to pass them along to my chubbier friends.

So, last year at Interbike, they came out with the Billy Bob jersey... still no sizes smaller than small.  Sigh.

photo cred: Bike Rumor
I was disappoint.

Time passes, Aaron Chambermaid of starts getting chatty with the folks at Club Ride, he tells them of my fondness of sleeveless riding apparel, and just like I never left "the industry," one is on its way to me.

And it was too big.


So I took it to my favorite alterations place, paid to have the mesh side panels taken out, and everything sewed back together.  Happiness.

I let the folks at Club Ride know how much I appreciated the shirt, expressed my dismay that they don't offer clothes for lilliputian-sized riders, and they taught me how to use the Internet.

Yeth, many years ago, they offered nothing in an extra small.  Now?  Not every item is offered in extra small, and not every item that is available in extra small can be had in all colorways.  It just took a few clicks to find which items in which colorways came in size "me."

Inspired by their inclusion of us wee people into their folds, my interest in owning some Club Ride stuff was once again piqued, and I went ahead and placed an order for some other things.

The Link, a long-sleeve base layer.  I like base layers, I like black, I like thumb holes.

I got to wear it maybe three times before things started getting way too warm in the South.  It fits nice and snug, looks good under a t-shirt, and the thumb holes make me feel all Orange is the New Black.

Perfect for my bike messenger/female inmate persona.

I also picked up a pair of Pit Stop shorts.  I don't really like tech-fabric looking shorts.  I only wear them when it's raining at work and that's about it.  Otherwise, cotton.  These shorts are a cotton-Spandex blend so they look like cotton and stretch like Spandex.  The legs are nice and tapered, and all these things make for a pair of shorts that don't make me feel like a tiny dork swimming inside a huge pair of short pants.  Oh yeah, normal pockets to make them look like normal shorts and one inconspicuous side pocket for my phone.  Nice.

So yeah, Club Ride.  Good people who understand that not every ride is a fully kitted out experience.  I'm stoked that I finally have some well thought out casual riding attire for those times when casual is my business.


Warning. Warning. Warning.

I'm out until next Monday.  Kid's at camp, so going to enjoy some childless time for awhile.  Riding, playing, drinking, walking, people watching with the The Pie for the next four days.

Tuesday, June 23

What is old is still old

Sunday.  Get shit done day.  First things first, head out for another trail ride.  Hip/back/sacrum is feeling bonerific.  Had to pull my left foot out and plant it in a soft corner a couple times.  No pain.

Also, ENVE crabon frok set back to 41mm of offset, the way God intended it.

Also also, my new CODS™ is working out great.

The last time I did something different with my cockpit, my dropper cable started banging on the bottom of my stem faceplate... driving me bonkers... since January.  I finally came up with the Cable Oscillation Dampeningening System (a piece of rubber grippy thing from a pen), and it works wonders.  The best single speed ever known to man is now the quietest as well.

Another project was completed before the day was over.

No, I'm not building up a road beast for the 2015 Tour de Burg (although I did use this frame once on a 100 mile stage of said race years ago... sucked).   Some time last winter, The Pie wanted ride a trainer indoors to keep up her cardio while recovering from a running related injury.  I sacrificed the Misfit to her needs.  The bike had sads, but it was currently only built up as a grocery getter anyhoo.

Recently, I was at Fattimagic Headquarters.  I saw the Thylacine frame sitting in the corner, covered in dust, also with sads.  Zac had used it at one point when he was between bikes.  Anyways, he gave the frame back (sans EBB) and included a steel fork to hold the front of the bike up.  Oddly enough, a Niner EBB fit in the frame (after I cut 5mm of the width off)... and then a smattering of parts that were here and there, some that I've had for more than a decade now, and boom.  New trainer bike for The Pie (complete with KMC 10spd XSL chain, Saint pedals, Dean ti post, half Tioga/half Race Face headset, Misfit stem and bars, polished XT cranks, ti railed WTB Silverado saddle and some wheels off a 2006 Gary Fisher Rig).

Which means, because I hadn't bothered selling any of the necessary parts I had lying around, I haz bike.. again.

(yes, there's a chain on it now)
I can't believe how close I came to selling any of these parts which would have made this less of a no-brainer and a more of a somewhat out-of-pocketer, and thus prolly no happen.

So why have a rigid ti single speed, a long travel steel single speed, and a short travel aluminum single speed?

One to get stupid, one to get racy, one to get... whatever is in the middle of those two things.

Sometimes, I don't wanna get beat up or drag a heavy bike around on local trails... like right now.  I still have some soft tissue damage on my left hand from my wreck at TSE.  The rigid hurts a bit, but not enough to lug my slower handling, mega-travel bike around the local trails.

So this bike fits a niche, makes use of a bunch of parts I had already, and makes my happy parts tingle and my unhappy part less unhappy.

Hoping to get a ride on it this week... Thursday if the weather cooperates.

Perhaps I'll ride it down Memory Lane.

"Remember, kids.  Single speeding is dead." ~ The Anal Singlespeeder

Side note:  I really need better lighting (still) in my bike room.  Feeling pretty Joe VS the Volcano in here.

Monday, June 22

Not Lazy Saturday

Leave the house on Saturday with good intentions.  Going for the "ride across town to the US National White Water Center, ride trail, ride to Renaissance, ride trail, ride home" thing.  I've done it once or twice.  Sixty something miles.  Lots of sads.  Sadder still, I paid for an annual parking pass at the USNWC, so riding there has no financial benefit this time.

It's hot when I walk out my front door.  Surprise.  Too hot for any clothes that I don't need.

The handy, not available from Backcountry Research yet but should be soon, Super 8 Strap in use.

I had tried to get someone to join me.  No surprise, I'm alone.  Ride on through uptown.

"Hooray, I'm at work on a Saturday."

I have a certain aversion to being uptown on a bike on my day off.

Push out the other side of the business world.  See a few roadies on their way back in from their roadie activities.  I wave and ding my bell because I'm not a real roadie.  Apparently, they're not either, as they smile and wave back.

Get to the trails.  Scan the parking lot for friendlies.  Hit the East Main Loop.  Quickly determine, once again, that I do not like my ENVE crabon frok with the adjustable offset in the 52mm mode.  I'd already figured that out at least once, but for some reason, I wanted to try it again.  This will suck the rest of the day.

Back out in the parking lot, see E Hag.  Chat with him, determine that he will go faster than my legs will want to at this point, go our separate ways.  Finish the rest of my loop and come back the the restrooms to fill up with water for the stupid next ride... and then realize I don't have time to ride to Renni and do a loop after all.  Plot a new route.

Figure out that the Super 8 is perfect for holding onto my "navigation system."  I know how to drive a car to Bike Source from here, but don't really know the most bike friendly route.  I see that I can also hit the Triple C Brewery on the way.  That's where I'm going...

But then I forget what I needed at Bike Source.  Now the trip is starting to feel pointless.  I rethink it through, decide that I can just go back through town, stop at The Spoke Easy, still get a Triple C beer, and then head home with more than fifty miles on the day.  I do that.

Greg gives me what I need.  I get the "usual."  Not sure if I should be happy or sad that I have a "usual."  Word spreads amongst the employees that "the timbers" are on their way.

"Timbers?"  I ask.

"The new A.L.E. barriers for drinking out front of the shop."

Oh.  Neat.  Finish my beer, go out to watch, end up helping because it looks like fun, and I'm the only one moving logs in Lycra.

Cory avoids getting too close to people in Lycra.

Finished playing, I ride the last five miles home feeling as depleted as I'd hope for when I left my house that morning, which I'm pretty sure means that I was "training."

Get home and flip the chips on the ENVE crabon frok back to the 44mm offset mode, vowing to never, ever, ever try it again.

BTW:  I wasn't sure if it was a good idea to use the Super 8 to hold my iPhone.  It seemed secure enough, so I went with it.  I totally forgot it was there, and hopped a 8" high median, dropped a few curbs, and navigated some washboard gravel in a construction site with it on there.  It never moved.  Does that mean I think it would be a great phone mount?  Dunno, but it sure worked in a pinch when I needed navigation... until I didn't need it but I left it there anyways.

Friday, June 19

I'm so special

Birthdays. I don't make much of them. Haven't for some time.

The Pie asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner on my birthday.

"Whatever we're eating Wednesday."

The night before my birthday, I noticed a loose chain on my tarck bike. It's been awhile since I changed it, so I broke out my chain wear indicator...

Win. Caught it at 75% and not the "you shoulda changed it some time ago" mark. So, I'm putting on a new chain, remember that I've got a 17T cog up on the pegboard, put it on... because, burrito.

Next morning, getting ready for my before-work ride. Think about how the 48X17 would feel on that one STRAVA segment near my house... the only segment I've ever done. Strap on my Mavic Furies (the stiffest shoes I got) and head out the door. Start with the normal loop, get to the segment, hurt myself.

The last time I did it (and the only time I did it knowing that it was a segment and the second time I ever STRAVA'ed), I think I topped out at 1:10.  That was the hardest I've gone for a minute in some time, and also made me realize I never do what one might call a "real interval."  That was an interval. REAL.

So I gave myself a KOM for my birthday, although it should probably be called a KOSU (King of the Slight Upgrade).

Only a 3% average grade with a sweet spike of 9.3% to kick you in the balls near the top.  My balls were kicked in.

So I've experienced this novelty in my life.  I only hoped that I would keep it until midnight so as to complete my birthday happy times, so it was nice when I got this:

Instead of this "Steve" coming at me and shaving a few seconds off my time to ruin my birthday, he gave me kudos.  Such a gentleman.  I look forward to that last STRAVA experience I have yet to have in my life, the "someone stole your KOM" email.  I expect it within the next month or so.

Keep in mind, this is just some random hill in some random neighborhood that nobody on a "real" road ride would ever do.

Further going down the rabbit hole, and with nothing better to do Wednesday (before the work stuff started really kicking in for the day), I looked at this:

The wattage information confuses and confounds me, so I guess it's a good thing I don't have access to such knowledge of mine own data. 

As soon as I got home, I took that stupid 17 tooth cog off.  48X18 is my happy place in the non-winter months.  Great for climbing, perfect for slowing down before hitting those two pesky 90° right hand turns that come at the bottom of a descent on my regular loops, awesome for helping me build up a quick spin for single speed flat gravel death.

I went to work, did my job, rode home in the disgusting, brain-melting heat, showered, ate, and went out with The Pie to see Mad Max.

"Sorry, we're sold out."

"Sold out?  This movie's been out for weeks."

"Yeah, some corporate gig.  Bought all the seats.  Sorry."

The fucking man, always sticking it to the little guy.

Back in the car, drive to the nearest theater, get there in time for the previews...

"My name is Max."

and from that moment on, I was peeing my pants for the next two hours.  It was everything I hoped for and even molar betterer and did someone say sequel cause I'll make sure I got a full bladder for the next one.

So my birthday... everything it needed to be.  I lived and will try to continue to do so for another year.

Since you read through all that vane babble #mememedicky, I will reward you with these:

both photos cred: A.E. Landes
There are lots of things you can do to ruin a group photo, but there's only one way to make it the best group photo ever.