Wednesday, January 18

You're the best... around

I'll admit something.  I've become a solid urban fannypackman.

It was just one of many solutions I tried to solve the problem of getting a messenger bag's worth of weight off a shoulder that's been carrying the bulk of the load for almost two decades on my commutes.   Last Friday, it stood up to a real decent test.  One of the larger temperature swings from my morning commute until I went home.  High 40°s for my ride in, 70°+ on the way home.  I know some of you would like to comment on the relatively mild conditions, but I'm only talking about the temperature variations, and this is a good example of how much clothing I have to shed to compensate and be sorta comfortable... so blow me. 

Flannel, vest, knee/arm warmers all the way to T-shirt weather.

All this inside my Hip Monkey and the compression straps still not fully released.

Flannel shirt
Arm warmers
Knee Warmers ( 2 pair... I'd forgotten one pair at work the day before)
The other crap I always carry: Tools, tube, CO2/inflator, money, work badge

A twenty plus degree temperature swing is about as big as it gets here, unless we have some major crazy weather in Charlotte.  I'm now pretty confident that as long as I don't overdress in the morning, I should be able to always get all my excess clothing in there.  Obviously, the other key is wearing layers, but if you didn't know about that already, I can't help you.  The wide waist strap keeps even a  load this size comfortable and stable.  I've gotten used to wearing it, and it's no more annoying than shoving my feet into a pair of shoes instead of sliding into some flip flops.

I've also carried a six pack of Dale's to a team meeting with room to spare (mebbe could fit eight beers?).  It's gone on the majority of my Tour duh Charlotte assploration rides as well, carrying a camera (w/fisheye lens), cable lock, extra clothes... incidentals (beer).

It will probably still never be used on a mountain bike ride in Pisgah... unless I'm trying to carry something super bulky, like beers, a camera, or... a turtle?  Dunno.  I've just had years to figure out how to ride around Pisgah for a few hours with nothing more than jersey pockets and a few straps from Backcountry Research on my bike to handle my needs, in terms of a "load" and any spare/excess clothing. If you were the type that likes to whip out a burrito or a hunk of salami the size of your forearm and make your friends jealous, this pack would make sense... for you.  Go, you.

I'll just keep carrying the same past-date gel from last "season" that I'll probably only eat if I'm spending the night in the woods.

Oh yeth, going back a bit... the Tour duh Charlotte.

It's happening.  The Fifth (I think) Annual Tour duh Charlotte.

The date is set and much of the planning is being planned to formulate a plan.  More news other than the date (March 18th, 2017) will be forthcoming, such as registration and such, but for now, just know it's happening and make plans to be there.  It will be, as always, the best* mountain bike stage race and urban trail adventure in Charlotte.


Tuesday, January 17

It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours.

I finally broke down and bought a new bike computer.

Yeth, I bought the same stupid, ancient, shitty computer that I already own.  Why?

I hardly ever use my computer.  I never did have much reason for it.  The clock feature was nice on the rare occasion when I thought I might want to be more mindful of my nutrition while racing.  A time piece is required gear at PMBAR (that race I do every year).  Occasionally, I considered it good to know what mile I might be at on some course I'm not familiar with... but normally not never.

It does come in handy for Tour duh Charlotte assploring.  I know I can use my phone and STRAVA and whatnot, but...  gloves, cold, phone-nosing, layers, pockets... stuff.  I just prefer the old school data producer to look at for such things.

Anyways, I went to my LBS to get a new computer last week.   That's where I got my old Cateye STRADA, but it had been acting up... since May?  Resetting for no reason.  Blanking out when it got wet.  Being a general nuisance and also wiggling in its mount.  I was open to looking at other options, but keen on getting the same same because of this:

That thumb dial on the wheel magnet sensor.  Number one value being that when I don't run a computer, I can just do this:

It's slightly cleaner than leaving it on there, and when I want the computer mounted back up, I'm not lining everything back up again with zip ties and anger.

It also allows for this:

That's me trying to remove the front wheel with a monster meat mounted on it.  I can't get the Maxxis 3.0 tires (whichever I might be running) to clear between the sensor and the brake caliper for removal... but if I loosen the thumb screw?

Blammo.  That won't work with a stationary sensor mount that almost very simple computer uses now.  So when I'm feeling totally hateful towards technology, two thumb screws (magnet and sensor) and a 5mm allen to remove the K Edge stem mount, and you'd almost think I was 100% Luddite.

So, I go into my LBS where I swear they had this computer in like a hundred different colors when I bought it last time to find little more than disappoint.  They only stocked a couple of $65 Cateyes with even more features that I didn't need and a ton of Specialized computers for a whole lot cheaper.

A discussion ensued, and in the end, I wondered why Cateye was even bothering to make these $65 computers.  The margins for the bike shop to carry them is dismal.  For a little bit more money (relatively), you can get a GPS capable bike computer, making this computer good for who again?

Anyways... I was disappoint.  The Cateye $65 would probably work with my easily removable (and 3.0 tire friendly) sensor, but $65?  For a clock and sometimes odometer.  Not much else.  I couldn't buy it on principal. 

Since I was looking for a simple and very outdated device, I turned to the internet to solve my problems.  Yeth, looking back, I might have been able to order this ancient POS that I wanted from my LBS, but I was dumbfounded at this point.  When I found a white one just like the one I already have on closeout, as I figured it would be because I'm the only person who would probably want this outdated and at full MSRP overpriced hunk of crap, I just clicked "buy."

Got the new computer, and it totally worked with the old sensor.   Hooray.

But it was a bit wiggly in the K Edge mount.  Hmmm...

Figured out the plastic bit in the K Edge was the same same as the plastic bit in the stock mount, went to swap them out, and no bueno.  Not same same after all.

Spend a few minutes with a file hacking away hoping to not screw everything up...


I took zero leaps forward as far as technology goes, and in fact, entrenched myself deeper in the past.  I've spent more money and wasted more time to change absolutely nothing.

Somehow, I feel better for it.

Thursday, January 12

Knowledge Bombs

Two things coming up real quick like.

On Friday, registration for the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race opens at 10:00AM EST.  It always sells right the fuck out.  Make sure you get on it if you want to do it... "it" being the race I wouldn't miss for nothing.

If you don't do PMBAR, you don't know Dog.

What else?

Pretty sure on Sunday, I'm agreeing to take part in a Beginner Race Clinic.

Despite what you're thinking, I'd be "instructing," not "beginning."

"In an effort to promote and encourage new mountain bikers make their way out to the Winter Short Track Series, we are hosting a free show and go race clinic this Sunday at 10am. We will have several experienced men and women leading small groups of potential racers around the course and addressing several topics to help get your upcoming race season started in the right direction. This clinic is great for adults and junior race participants."


• Trail Vision
• Body Position
• Cornering
• Race Passing
• Contact
• Race Starts
• Bike Setup

Now, I know some people would expect me to teach a much different race clinic.


• Racing With Blurred Vision
• Podium Attire What To/Not To Wear
• Cornering The Market On Post-Race Beverages
• Race Passing And How You Let Others Get By Safely
• Contact With Creepy Baby Hand Etiquette
• Being Late For Race Starts
• Bike Setup For Shitty Parking Lot Wheelies

I've got a lot of mad skills I can share with novice racers.  Masters Class courses could cover the most advanced skills.

• Coming Up With Excuses For Poor Performance
• Riding With A Smashing Hangover
• Quitting Because....
• Faking It
• How To Conserve Energy For Later To Impress Spectators
• Shit Talk
• Sads

So, I encourage anyone that wants to test the waters to come out and glean knowledge from a whole bunch of serious racers... and me.


Tuesday, January 10


So this is all I got for the 2017 "season" (so far):

PMBAR... of course.  Haven't missed it since 2004.  If there's one race I will never miss, it's PMBAR.  Registration opens on the one event YOU MUST DO on the 13th of this month.  DON'T NOT DO IT.

The Trans-Sylvania Epic.  I've done this race every year that it's taken place since 2010.  It's addictive, like crack.  Without the unfortunate side effects associated with crack... just with its own list of side effects such as bumps, bruises, contusions, hang overs, and post-race week sads.  Still one of the best 5-7 days on a bike I've ever had time after time.

So, yeth.  Nothing solid in between those two, and nothing before May that I know of.  I'm probably skipping Warrior Creek for my own reasons (didn't register, sold-out now), and I've got a family Spring Break trip to Florida (near trails) to figure out in April before I can think "me thoughts."

Dirt Rag Dirt Fest in mid-July... yeth, not putting Tour de Burg on there until I have a "coming to Dog" talk with myself.  I've wanted to Dirt Festivate ever since they started doing them up in PA, but they were always the week before TSE, and in the same part of the world... 9-10 hours away.  Seemed like a lot of back to back to back driving.  So wanted to go, especially when I actually wrote for Dirt Rag.  Figured I'd have VIP access to the moonshine or something.  Mebbe an entourage?  This one is in West Gotdam Virginia, so natch, it's a must.  I ain't ridden some WV much in the last decade or so.  So.  Much.  Excite.

There may or may not be a conflict between Dirt Fest and Single Speed USA in Bellingham, WA.  Even if they're not on the same date, I don't know if I want to back-to-back them.  Flying with my bike, wanting to have enough time to really enjoy the benefits of silver tubing my way through the sky across the entire country, being old to tolerate things...

Went from "nah, Bellingham," to "why not Bellingham?" to "dammit, Bellingham!"

And then Breck Epic.  Again.  It seems like it's becoming an every other year thing for me.  It's not that it's not worth doing every year.  Just that it is a bit more logistics and such.  There's a decent crew coming from Charlotte, some yinzers from PA, and a bunch of back-homers from OH.  I am very excite.  Two of my favorite all-time descents, the most incredibly scenic place high up above the world (assuming the USA is the world), just somewhere so special to my heart.

And that's it?

Dunno.  I still have 2016 up on the sidebar, and you can see that I did a fair amount more last year.  I hope to get some new events in there (like I did at the latter part of the year), so I gotta leave some holes here and there to make room.  If not totally new, perhaps something I haven't done in awhile.

I can only think about the future in spits and spurts now.  Too much compulsing is bad for my spleen.

Monday, January 9

Inside the Deductible

La Vida Bachelor while also avoiding the fumes from the polyurethane being put down on the floors of our still to be repaired to a livable state bedroom report.

Wednesday.  Get off work.  Head to Black Bear Adventures Paul's house to grab these:

He noticed my lamentations on Facebook regarding the loss of a sorta similar half a pair of wind layer lobster gloves (and the inability to replace them with anything made today), and he offered these up.  A key component to my three layer hand burrito this time of year.  A great start to everything.  Stoke level high.

Head To Birdsong Brewing for a free Bicycle Benefits beer and a couple more with Nick and Zac.  Then ride over to a fireside Fast Mustache meating about the upcoming (possible) Tour duh Charlotte.  Much good news and a heated as it gets for me discussion about the route, where I may or may not have said, "I'll go the mat for this one" to someone I'd prefer to not wrestle if I could avoid it.

Home late.  No shower... I think.

Thursday.  Chut around town ride planned with Jon Danger after work.  Chut we did, and I stopped at The Spoke Easy on my way home for a beer... when Merrill and Chris showed up and "just one" became more than one.

Home later.  No shower... I think.

Friday.  The weather was coming.  Or it wasn't.  It was changing every hour.  My goal was to get to The Spoke Easy with a dry ass, watch the rain turn to snow from the pleasant side of the window, ride home on the... tarck bike?  Well, it was most of a plan anyways.

Got off work, arrived at Spoke mostly dry, take my stool.   The whole world started trickling in as the night progresses... along with the trickling of a steadying rain.  Zac tried to convince me to go off with him and Andy into the good night, but we left under a drenching rain.  When the times came to split left to the next bar, I split right towards home.

Home late again.  Bad dietary decisions followed and maybe I took a shower but probably not.

Saturday.  I planned on riding out to the Grumble in the Grundle at the US National Whitewater Center... but it was canceled.  My backup plan was to ride the Tour duh Charlotte party pace course (as currently proposed)... no matter what.  I blabbed quite a bit about doing it, set a time and place to meet and everything.  I woke up to a world covered in a thin layer of ice and snow, but since I made it out to the empty mailbox in flip flops unscathed, I decided to go forward with it.

Of all the people that had said they were in, only Tod, Chris and Merrill showed. 

100% the kind of ride I would not do unless I could fabricate some kind of reason or justification.

Pretty much a fucking mess, but assuming no mid-March Charlotte "blizzard," you'll probably be able to do the ride without breaking out your three wheeler.

Back through town and return to... Spoke Easy?  Again?  I need to figure out a way to get my bar tab on the insurance claim.

And then it seemed like all of Charlotte went for a bike ride that ended here and the place was packed until it wasn't and I looked around and it was me and Dread bar tending and Chris (co-owner)... and I knew it was time to leave.


PTSD dreams the night before about a tree coming down on the house.  Maybe it was seeing all the trees coated with ice leaning at me.  Anyways, run around my domicile and do my best to make it look like I had not lived like a pig the whole time, take a shower with my bike (for real), and then head out to Legion Brewing to watch Cyclo Ross Nationals and come home at the earliest I had all week.

Pretty sure I'll be functioning like a normal person by the time The Pie returns this evening.

Wednesday, January 4


La Vida Bachelor for a bit coming up.   Off to a great start thus far...

Windows 10 is the gift that keeps on giving.   Giving turds, that is.

Updating from my phone just to let you know that I'll be pretty scarce until next week.  The floors in the room that was torn off of the house back in October are being redone. That means I have to stay away from the fumes, lest I want a contact high... and cancer.

As little time as possible will be spent in the shared air there.

Looking forward to the weekend... but not the temps.  I know it's a relative thing and people will have it worse than I, but with the family gone, I'd like to be outside as much as possible riding.  Plans to ride to and spectate the Grumble in the Grundle are contigents upon... snow?


So, gotta find something to do, lest I run outta Bob's Burgers to watch in a wifi place all weekend.

Tuesday, January 3


I think I already bragged on this stupid thing I made out of a shoe box months back.

Basically, something that lets me flip my bike over and work on it.  Some of my bikes just don't rest on their bars so well due to bells and TOGS and light mounts and goofy shaped bars like on my tarck bike.

I'm aware that a real "bike mechanic" doesn't work on bikes like this.  I never said I was a "bike mechanic," real or otherwise.  Personally, I think the easiest way to tension a chain on a single speed (or tarck bike) is in the inverted position, because... inverted.

There's probably a few other things I do with my bike uspide-down.  Gear swaps, tire changes (or anything else that requires wheel removal), bottom bracket rebuilds... dunno.  Stuff.  Especially because my stupid work stand has been relocated to the living room to hold an indoor antenna for when we want to watch non-internet, broadcast, bad for our brains television. Nothing gets my spirits higher than watching Meet the Press on a blurry Sunday morning.

The morning that David Gregory handed the baton to Chuck Todd and Chuck was bragging about how he could palm a basketball and David was all like mebbe a tiny, novelty-sized ball but not a real basketball.

Anyways, this past rainy weekend.  It hit me.

I wanted to make my upside-down stand out of something hardier than cardboard, but to be honest, I was not really wanting to invest the time to think it out and buy lumber and make it happen.  I was happy that I no longer had to kick shoes under my handlebars to keep myself from working on an unstable bike, but the next step would involve time and effort.  I had loads of one, lacking sorely of the other.

Back to the putting the Christmas shit back in the closet story from yesterday, I tripped on some of the wood I had saved from the whole "tree through my bedroom" incident.  There was literally more perfectly good wood being tossed into the yard dumpster than I knew what to do with.  I knew it would pain my father's spirit to see it all go to waste, so I climbed in there more than once and salvaged any piece that I could see being serviceable in the future.

I almost immediately re-purposed the long strips they used to keep the giant tarp in place.  The back porch was not very blind dog friendly, and Pester had managed to walk out onto the garbage can more than once, so I had plenty of wood to build a guardrail around the deck to keep him safe.

I don't know why it took me so long to figure out that my upside-down stand didn't need to be as complex in shape as the one I made with a shoe box.  As I stared down at the pile of wood bits, I realized that in twenty minutes time (including clean up and chasing screws and drill bits across the floor), I could make something so very, very simple.

As I was cutting with a circular saw using a Coleman cooler as a sawhorse... with no eye protection... in my bare feet, I wondered how my dad, who was looking down from his spot on the mantle in his golden urn, would feel about my half-assedness VS my ingenuity and thriftiness.

On one hand, he was all about saving some random shit for use... someday.  I can remember a pile of bowling balls in the wood shop and cardboard boxes full of wire and metal and VW Beetle parts.  He could always fashion something together from what most would consider "garbage."

He helped me make this way back in the early '90s, because of course he had a hunk of metal that was just the right size and thickness. I've often considered replacing it, since I can afford actual bike tools now, but why would I?

On the other hand, had my dad decided he wanted to build an upside-down bike stand, he woulda done it entirely differently.  Firstly, he would do multiple drawings on typewriter paper, complete with every possible measurement.  This step in the process could take years.  Then he would piddle around the woodshop, looking for those chunks of walnut that he saved from some giant record playing monstrosity he bought at a flea market seven years prior for $6.  Once the ball finally got rolling, his final version would be hinged for easy storage or assembled using dovetail joints... sanded, sanded again, wet sanded... many layers of stain.  It would be museum worthy when all was said and done.  Something that would last 1,000 years.

But in the end, it would just hold a bicycle in the inverted position just like the one that I built.  Mine only took months of planning and execution tho.