Friday, May 22

Weapons Activated

Man, I woulda loved to have done a Trans-Sylvania Epic preamble to the shit show that's about to happen, perhaps wax all poetic about the seven other guys in the SS class.  I only really know three others, Chris M, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Dejay Birtch... who is once again traveling across the country to beat up on a bunch of mid-packing wannabe single speeders (myself included).  I have spent some time with Mike Maggs (more of it drinking than riding at SSAZ, he does both things quite admirably), and I've internet debated the finer points of all things single speedy with Gary Hoehne, Jesse James, and Shoogs.  I anticipate three to four days of actual heated racing, and after that, things should degrade into the usual heap of misbehavior and evil-doing.

More importantly (not really), my secret weapon(s) showed up.

I'm going to say this without any proof or reliable "information."  These are the first Industry Nine Torch 24 wheels built up on NOX Composites Farlow crabon rims.  Why am I semi-confident of this?  Because who else would want this exact set of wheels?

I've been staring at crabon wheels for years now.  It's such a huge investment, so I wasn't going to make a move until they were everything I wanted them to be.

I wanted wider rims, for more volume to make better rigid single speeding.  Not crazy wide, just wide-wide...  and hookless beads for all the right reasons.

I wanted durable wheels.  Nothing ├╝berlight for me.  I want to travel to races like the Breck Epic not wondering if my 350 gram rims are up to the task.

I wanted lighter wheels.  This seems like a lot of money to spend to end up with a heavier bike.

Industry Nine does have their own Pillar rim.  They are light, they are durable (the Industry Nine guys have put a ton of Pisgah into them and they've held up fine), and they even come in the super light Trail 24 spoke option.  The only problem I had with them was the 24mm inner rim width.  Less than the Enduro™ I already run up front, close to the same as the Trail rim I already have in back.  I wanted more.

So I looked elsewhere for rims.  Not going with I9 hubs/spokes, not an option for me.

I could rattle off the list of rims I looked at and why I shot them down as an option for years, but it would be easier for me to say why I confidently settled on NOX Farlows.  Yes, the rims are sourced from Toray in Japan (only ENVE makes crabon rims in the US, and they won't work with I9's alloy spokes), but NOX is in Tennessee.  I know plenty of riders that have been riding NOX rims for years now, and they have held up well under conditions similar to what I'll put them through.  If I have any issues, I can get on the phone with someone a few hours from my house and sort things out.

The Farlow rim is their beefiest selection.  29mm internal width, 430 grams, the strongest RockGuard Hookless bead lip they've ever made... a bunch of other details you can read if you want to, but those were the selling points for me.

The only problem I ran into was that if I went with the standard (for me) 32 spoke Industry Nine Torch single speed build, I would have only saved 80 grams.

But then I realized, why not do a 24 spoke build on the Farlows, essentially an XC build on a AM/Enduro rim?

 So that's what I did.

 I went from a 1,710 gram wheelset (with Enduro/Trail rims) to a 1,490 gram set WITH Farlows.  Put your calculators away.  That's a half pound lighter... rotational weight.

I also made this change... kinda had to:

In order to do the 24 spoke count wheels (eight on one side, sixteen on the other), I had to go with the geared hub over the single speed specific (and ego massaging) Torch hub.  That's the only option with 24 spokes.  I don't mind so much, since this wheelset needs to last years, and with Shimano doing a relatively cheap 1X11 XT option, I imagine I'll get bored and make a regrettable decision at some point down the road.  I'm taking dibs on the drivetrain starting today.

Honorable mention to the Endless Bikes 19 tooth Kick Ass cog with a Fibonacci spacer kit, keeping the chainline correct and being very pink as well.

Not everything was hunky dory last night.  I never thought about rim tape and valve stems... until I opened the box.  I'm so used to stock Industry Nine wheels, I never considered acquiring the 30mm tape from NOX... until last night.

I resorted to one layer of Stan's 25mm tape and one layer of 21mm tape, which does not add up to 30mm but overlaps quite nicely.  Also, TruckerCo had sent me those 48mm pink valve stems months ago, and I thought, "Who needs valve stems this long?"

 Crabon rim users, that's who.

And for those that would ask, the tires went on by hand, the new tire aired up without trickery, the older Ardent got the removable valve core trick, and everything still has air in it this morning.

I'm outta time.  TSE blerghing when I get back.  Mebbe some FaceBook or Instagram while I'm gone, some stuff I have to write for MTBR while I'm there, but keep in mind...

So the internet... not so important to me.

Sorry for the shitty pictures.  It was hop on the bike, do some (shitty) wheelies, ride to the church, take some photos with my phone (real camera packed away), get home and relax... for the first time since I started getting ready for TSE.

Thursday, May 21

It was nice seeing you

So when your optometrist tells you that you are an "interesting study," you know there's not gonna be an easy solution to your problem.

Since getting Lasiks in 2006, I have now gone far sighted in one eye, near sighted in the other... oh, and I have an astigmatism.  So cool.  My eyes have been trying to compensate for each other on both ends, and because of that, focus isn't happening as quickly as it should.  At least I don't have glaucoma, cataracts, Barcelona, or beer-related diabeetus.

The good news is that I'm reading fine print in a fine manner.  I can't read PMBAR passport font size while riding down an old gravel road at 18mph, but I can read the finest print he's got to show me.

Initially, I want contacts.  We find one for the right eye.  The left eye... took three tries to find one that would work with my astigmatism (an "expensive" lens).  The goal of all of this is to get me back to seeing things in the woods.  He does a great job sorting that issue out, but with the contacts in, anything like words and stuff within an arms reach is blurry.  That means I really can't wear them day to day and do my job.

THIS IS AWESOME NEWS (not really).

I don't wanna throw money in the toilet with contacts that I only wear for a ride or two.   Worthless.

That and he said I can get away with doing my job the way I've been doing it.  I wore the contacts yesterday, and yes... not so good at work 100% of the time.  It was neat seeing people in the lobby downstairs and noticing eyes making contact with mine instead of the kids from Pink Floyd's The Wall staring back at me.

My final solution?  I ordered glasses to make some aspects of life better.  Driving, TV, movies, reading menus mounted on walls behind the employees (nice places), going for walks, looking at birds, and general seeing of things.  I'm also ordering some prescription lenses for my Oakleys for riding/racing.  I've had them before (Rx Oakleys), and they were awesome.  I almost always ride with eye protection, so no big deal here (aside from cost).  The downside to all of this is that I waited too long to do something.  I'll be wearing the sample contacts to get through next week's Trans-Sylvania Epic, which is not ideal, but better than nothing.  I felt like an eagle yesterday.  So neat to see far away again.

Before anybody offers up alternatives like Lasik touch-up, readers, bifocals... those options are off the table for all my own reasons.

Can't wait to get back from PA and have many glasses and options and the seeings of the things.

Me, totally not seeing shit at the bottom of Turkey Pen.  Honestly looking for how the hell to exit a trail I've ridden a dozen or more times.  That sucked, but at least it got me into the doctor's office, so mebbe not so bad.

Hopefully a box shows up today and the other unresolved problem out of my control before leaving for TSE will go away.

I leave tomorrow, so blame the timeliness of this occurrence once again on my lack of action in a reasonable amount of time.

Tuesday, May 19

ICU... and u is blurry

So, eye doctor appointment at 8:50AM today, and then we go from there.

photoshop cred: Paw Paw
I've worn glasses for a large part of my life.  I don't remember when I started wearing them, but I recall a class picture of me in a powder blue tux with ruffles that I had leftover from my uncle's wedding.  I had some fugly BC (birth control) horn-rimmed glasses on... those were the days.

I lived with glasses all throughout my school years.  I do recall breaking my glasses my senior year, and my family couldn't afford to get me new ones.  I just started wearing some aviators with pink lenses to school and sitting close to the board so I could see (relatively speaking) what was going on.  I was still able to drive, because I usually knew where I was going, what the speed limit was (regardless of my inability to obey it), and the cars coming at me were the large blurry objects I should avoid.  I lived through that year somehow.

Glasses all through college.  I got those ugly multi-lens Bolle glasses in the early '90s for riding, prescription Oakleys in the late '90s, contacts in the early '00s and then finally Lasiks in '06.

The riding in normal glasses years... best guess?  1992.  If you are young, be glad you didn't have to suffer through this soft-shell helmet and toe clip era.  Notice the sleeveless T tho, natch... and yeth, I was a much bigger boy in those just post college days. MUCH.

The Bolle years.  Life's not getting much better.  If you are young, be glad you didn't have to suffer through the 150mm stem and elastomer fork era.

The prescription Oakley days.  If you are young, know that you should never take your wife's leftover hair dye and dump it on your head.

I've been ignoring my vision issues for... dunno.  Nine months?  A year?  Some days are worse than others, but no days are as good as they were a couple years ago.  It's been a gradual enough of a decline, but I have noticed it quite a bit when mountain biking and looking for street signs.

"Does that say... damn it."

*looks for spot to turn around*

I'm kinda happy that I finally made the decision, although sad that I waited until my bad experience at the Pisgah 55.5K to do something about it.  Had I seen a doctor a long time ago, I'd have spent the last how many ever months much happier and just that much poorer than I'm gonna be anyways.  I've had a few wrecks in the past six months that left me on the ground looking back up the trail thinking, "What did I just hit?"

More often than not, I couldn't figure it out.

So here's to sticking my finger in my eyes everyday, worrying about where my glasses are (Dave Pryor probably took them), and all the extra maintenance/hygiene time I'll be spending in the bathroom.

Monday, May 18

The 2015 Pisgah (not quite) 55.5K


I'll get there eventually.

Saturday, get up at my leisure and drive to the Sunset Motel.  Park the car and ride the something miles of crap highway from Brevard to the entrance of the Pisgah National Forest.  Bang a left onto the bike path and start thinking about tomorrow.  I wonder if my brake lever that got fixed after PMBAR will hold up to a whole day in Pisgah.  I give the lever a little shove and it falls out of the reservoir.  Nope.  Awesome.

I get to the venue, decide to eat my sub before I deal with this issue, grab a beer, and head over to the neutral bike support.  Lucky for me that Greg from The Tacoed Wheel was on the scene.  He goes DefCon 4 on my shit and I think I see him using an anvil and a forge at one point... not sure.

He puts it all back together with a fair amount of confidence.  I still sift around in his van and grab a rubber band, because I'm probably just gonna carry it for my sanity.

Drink a few more beers, watch riders finish, see Gordon Wadsworthless take the single speed win, ask him if he's racing tomorrow, he says yes, so I'm racing for second now, I guess.  Birdman and Pahrs finish, Pahrs taking second place SS (first place Not Gordon Category).  They hang out for a bit, podium done, and we go eat lukewarm Mexican food and margaritas.  Then a stop at Ingles for more beer, hang out in the parking lot/outdoor lounge until some time past midnight, go to bed.

I wake up feeling much less worse than miserable.  Just tired and wanting to get on with this.  10:00AM starts see so late, but the time finally rolls around, and I line up at the very front of the front.

Up the first climb right out of the grassy lost in good company... sitting in the top seven overall or so.  Gordon's gone up with the super fast guys, but I expect that to happen.

On one of the more open sections, I look back and see John Haddock (one half of the winning 2015 PMBAR team), and I hold up a little so we can get together.  I want to go down Turkey Pen with him close by to see how well he descends.  We chat a little, but even at a reserved pace going up Black, talking is still an effort.

We bang the right on Turkey Pen.  The top is fast, loamy, predictable.  I open a gap on John.  Then things start getting steeper, gnarlier... and I can't see it coming anymore.

I've mentioned my eyes before.  I need to go see and optometrist... eventually.  This thought, it's stupid.  Go see one now and feel the benefits of great vision or avoid the inevitable and suffer in the mean time.  I take the latter.

So that range of vision, I guess twenty to thirty feet ahead, what I need to go really fast.  That's where my vision is shit.  Add in the overcast skies which bring about a low contrast nightmare, put a splortch of sweat on the right pink Oakley lens rendering them useless, and I'm now scared.  When I think there's something coming up, my eyes track the object from how many ever feet out right up to my front wheel.  I deal with it and then scan back up the trail looking for more obstacles.  This process is slow and so am I.  John catches me handily.

I let John go around and a few more gnarly descents later I realize this is dumb.  I'll be risking my shit going down Pilot Rock and Black Mountain later in the day and for what?   I've gotten away with faking all my mountain rides with a suspension fork for months, it reading the trail to me in Braille.  With the rigid fork, all my problems are brutally apparent.  I'm fucked.  I consider my options to get back to my car.

Just like that, Scott Rusinko and Steve Bennett come by me.  From second place to fifth in a manner of minutes.  I may feel good on the climbs, but I'm gonna lose time all day going down and possibly get hurt.  I'm definitely bailing.

I get to the Turkey Pen parking lot.  Chris Ivory tells me that there are three single speeders right ahead of me.

"I know."

I tell him I'm done, consider my options, decide to go for a bike ride in the woods as opposed to hopping on pavement the whole way back.  Besides, I haven't ridden Squirrel Gap in some time, the technical stuff is mostly slow, and the descents are wide open.  I eat a half PB&J, fill a bottle and start a very long ride of shame alone.

It was a nice ride, but of course I forget how far/long it is until I'm already committed.  Doh.  The tech stuff was great prep for Trans-Sylvania Epic, and the descents only as dangerous as I wanted them to be.  The whole time, I'm thinking about how soon can I get into a doctor and get some contacts/glasses...

So I'm gonna try to get an appointment today and corrective lenses before the end of the week.   If I don't, I've got some issues I need to deal with pretty quick like.

Friday, May 15


I'm going with the most obvious option that allows for greatest chance of success at having most fun possible.

socks courtesy of 8 Lumens

Cutting to the point, I'm doing the Pisgah 55.5K... and that's it... kinda.

So many reasons (excuses).

Doing only the 55.5K means that I can stop by The Spoke Easy tonight for the We Love Bicycles Party.  I love bicycles.  I love party.  Then I can wake up at my leisure tomorrow, drive to Brevard, watch my little friends finish, drink (some) beer, go eat a burrito with Dahn and Birdman, watch a Rambo marathon on cable TV at the Sunset Motel, wake up (to a later start than the 111K), race, and be home in time to rinse the Pisgah from my bike and outta my ears... and then start packing for the Trans-Sylvania Epic.

Yeah, the weather has gone all the ways as far as predictions go.

This is what is being predicted as of now (Friday 7:18AM).  It could still change and probably will.  I can handle a little rain if I have to, and while I prefer to not ride in the rain, I tend to fare slightly better than most when everybody is as miserable as I am.  Hopefully having Saturday off the bike will give me some time to come around.

I have to.

Pretty sure I can bounce back from 5+ hours in the saddle enough to make (sorta) great bike race at the Trans-Sylvania Epic to then make it to the start line of the Pisgah Enduro™ a week later... because I found out last night that I have to make it there.  I'll be transporting the timing equipment from State College to Old Fort, so I kinda have to stick with this commitment.

The King of Pisgah thing will be over for me one day earlier than it was two years ago (The Monsoon Year).  It mighta been doomed anyways.  I have two possible conflicts in September with the Pisgah Monster Cross and Faster Mustache might be working on something that would keep me from playing in the woods for two days straight (in a competitive manner) at the Double Dare.

So here's to making the most of it.  Stoked on racing down some Turkey Pen, Pilot Rock and Black Mountain on the rigid crabon frok.

I haven't done a race in Pisgah on a non-squishing fjork in years.  ORAMM doesn't count in my book.  Sorry.  Stoked to get back to doing things the way I used to do it... when I was young(er).

Is this the thing that broke Bob Moss?  I forgot.

Thursday, May 14

Waiting for the Worms

Just in case anyone is interested...

Waiting.  Waiting to see if I feel better.  Waiting to pack for one or two or none races.

Avoiding.  The Pie is sick with something that Nia had last week.  Trying to lose weight and get ready for a very loaded end of May with "something" going around?  No bueno.  Stuffing my face and dodging sneezes and coughs.

Hoping.  Hoping that a key piece of equipment (at least that's what I'm telling myself) gets here before the Trans-Sylvania Epic.  Hoping that by the end of next week, I feel like I did last week... which was pretty okay.

Grasping.  Mostly at straws.

Floundering.  At blogging mostly.  Seems that with other things occupying my mind, nothing is coming out of my brain other than angst and packing lists and logistics and... a signal to my mouth that tells it to produce "meh" sounds every fifteen seconds.

And before anyone suggests it, I've already tried a liberal application of Peanut M&M's and Hop Hunter in an effort to make it all go away.  It's not not worked before, so...

I gotta make the call before 6:00PM tomorrow as to what to do this weekend.  I'd have to feel a lot worse to avoid both races.  Pretty sure I can pull a marginal performance at the 55.5K straight outta my ass even if I feel like two asses, which is one less ass than I feel like right now.

It's probably just a brain cloud.

Don't watch more than fifteen seconds of that. Not the best moments of Joe.

Tuesday, May 12

Dem Times

when on you ride to work monday you ded and you not sure why but you did ride two hours and a half day before and den not eat cuz you run around doing tings instead and eat like rabbit when you go home so maybe you not all the way ded and maybe half ded so you eat a pile of ham for lunch and also go home and soak in epsom salts with beer and archer and squeezylegbag and sleeping in and hoping today will be better day but also not so sure cuz sometimes when you ded you ded but you hope dis not one dem times