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Wednesday, July 27

Nailed it.

Well, shit.

Last week, I was all excited about the change of Bennett Gap from being a seasonal trail (open Oct 15th - Apr 15th) to open all year long to bikes.

Then this:

"Booby traps were found on Bennett's Gap Trail in the Pisgah National Forest on 7/24/16 between 12-2pm. Logs, rocks, and roofing nails were placed on trail to intentionally harm/damage mountain bikers and their property. These actions are considered felonies/assault and can result in serious injury or even death to bikers. Please look out and report any future incidents."

What the fuck is wrong with people?

Here's hoping they get some game cameras up there, and they catch, charge and prosecute this person.  It's pretty obvious this is a reaction to Bennett's status being changed, but... unnnh... I don't understand what would make a person think this is... right?

Dunno.

Anyways, just putting the warning out there.  Will update if I hear anything else come out concerning this topic.  Not an entertaining post whatsoever, but if you're riding Bennett (at Mach 1), keep your heads up.

Tuesday, July 26

Please. Stop. Thanks.

Facebook use to be such a fun playground.  When I joined in June '09, it was such a healthy place to interact with my fellow cyclists.  Keeping in touch with friends who are far away IRL and making contacts with new people.  People whom I might one day have the pleasure of their company on a bike ride someday.  I also found it a great place for blog fodder, inspiration... a publicly sourced muse.  My "friends" really knew what I needed to know (or at least mock).  Without Facebook, I don't get things like this image of my former PMBAR partner, Jody, fondling a tire like a sexy, bike-curious lumberjack:

Gold, Jerry.

But recently...

I know that scrolling through my feed is a huge time suck to begin with.  When I'm busy having fun with friends IRL, I barely bother to look at it.  Mostly, I'm checking what I've been tagged in to see if it's an Oakley ad or an image of someone's balls (also gold, Jerry).

At work tho, I need something to do between runs/deliveries.  Something I can walk away from as soon as there is work to do.  Hard to be focused (read a book) or productive (knit a sweater) in this scenario.  Not to mention, I still enjoy playing with my little friends, and I do still manage to get some blog fodder out of it.  Yesterday's topic just happened to be one of the first things I saw pop up on my feed yesterday morning.

So anyways...

With all the ugly things going on right now with our political system, my Facewall is being inundated with stupidity... that I, immersed in this stupidity, allow myself to intellectually drown in quite voluntarily.   Impulse control not being my strong suit, I click the links.  Skim.  Check the source.  Seek out bias.  Decide whether or not it's leaning left or right.  It's rarely balanced.  So why did I bother?  Nothing I read makes me feel better about the world.

Anal compulsion.  Rubber necking.  Lemming mentality.

It only takes a slight push to get me to go down the dark hallway.  Problem being, go down the hall deep enough and I have a hard time looking back and seeing the way out.  Insane.  I've even found myself watching the evening network news (no cable, so that's what I got).

What am I doing watching this instead of doing something (anything) else?

Being informed is not a terrible thing.  I encourage it, to the degree that you can either actively participate in making a change or at least say to yourself, "Wow, this is shitty/awesome," and then go about your day knowing you are less than a speck of dust in the universe.  From now on, I'm going to do my best to either seek out my news when I want it in my life or go back to catching up on the world by watching Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.  Maybe enjoy the indulgence of watching a little John Oliver from time to time.


I realize even these sources may lean more in one direction than the other, but at least I'll be laughing while the world burns instead of hiding under a sheet like I would be if I only watched FOX News (which is equally entertaining, if you enjoy things like pulling the wings off a fly).

Yesterday, I found it quite easy to scroll past the fear mongering and associated bullshit.  I realize I could just block people who keep posting all this inane bullshit without checking their sources, but most of my Facefriends ride bikes, and honestly, I'd probably enjoy their company... as long as we don't talk politics... which people tend to not do as much in person as they do online.

So yeah.

Keep posting all those links.  Just please make sure the image and/or link easily identifies your post as political, so I can scroll past it to get to the bike-related posts easier.

And posts that reaffirm my lifestyle, such as drinking beer on a Sunday at 11:50AM because you're washing your bike.  And cute animal videos.  Keep them a'coming.  I love baby goats, FYI.  Who doesn't?

BTW: If anyone knows how to block posts with the words "Trump, Clinton, Republican, Democrat, election, and recipe," feel free to reach out to me.  It's either that or I'm going to start a social media site where we just talk about/make fun of bike related topics.  Some perfect virtual world where the most polarizing topics will be dropper posts, fat bikes, and cyclocross.

Mostly fat bikes tho.

Because they're terrible.

Monday, July 25

Tour de Droopy: Part Two

Just because I saw this today...


Duh.

I already wrote a blerhg post about this back in July of 2014.

Two years ago.

It's seems stupid to me that feet would be still dragged aboot by the professional roadies and their teams.  All arguments against it are dumb.  That Froome/Sagan position.   Ridiculous.

Unsafe. Inefficient when actually pedaling with the shittier option of leaving the top tube to get back on the saddle to take a few efficient pedal strokes and then get back into this dogawful place.   Steve Tilford already took the time to rip Frooming apart.  He cites this study that also shows it being a pretty silly choice.

Look at position number two though.  What could make that even better?

Duh.

Not to mention the convenience of being at a proper pedaling height at the push of a button AND THEN BEING ABLE TO GET RIGHT BACK TO SUPER AERO IN LESS THAN A SECOND WITHOUT RISKING YOUR GOODY BAG (or your teeth)?

All arguments against using one on a stage with a lot of descending are trbl.

Weight?  Mechanics have been known to attach weights to a bicycle because it's too light to be UCI legal.

Bullshit.

Road frames could go back to a sloping top tube design to accommodate even longer droppers, not these silly things that only adjust 10mm.

The UCI requires that all frames being raced must be available to the public, so making a special frame just so Froome can descend and get 12 seconds SAFELY can't be done (he didn't get all 12 seconds on the descent with that trbl position BTW)... and why produce these dropper road frames anyways?  It's not like the average STRAVA Fred wants to gain any speed advantage possible.

Yeah, right.

Go ahead and give me the old, "I don't need a dropper on my road bike" argument.  I don't care what you think you need.  Buy what you like and be content with your decision.  I want the whole world to be happy like in those old Coke commercials, but with fewer cavities and cases of diabeetus.  I know plenty of people that don't droop on their mountain bikes, and that's fine... for them.  I've ridden all sorts of scary ass shit on my rigid non-drooped SS, and I can tell you, I won't do it (willingly) again.

To each his own.

I'll admit, I sat astride a road bike at Bike Source yesterday that was my size and took note of it's barely exposed 27.2 seat post.  No room to get a prooper drooper on there.  Not a total reason to not buy a road bike, but a tick in the negative column for an idiot like me looking for excuses to not own a road bike.

I know I've written some of this before, but the tactile feel of a keyboard just feels pleasant, so this was good for me.

Thursday, July 21

The Good Newses

Two pieces of great news you'll either love or be indifferent about because they don't affect you (or you don't have feelings)  Not my fault you're not living right.

Firstly, the 2017 Breck Epic registration is open... already... before the 2016 event even takes place.  Benevolent promoter, Mike McCormack has decided to offer some super duper donkey pooper low early bird entry fees.

How low?

How low would be inversely proportional to how high you'll be on the Wheeler stage, which is very.

Like $649 low.  For a six day stage race.  In Breckenridge.  The closest stage race to heaven (in literal distance... heaven is only directly above America BTW).

Is this race good enough to throw your money at (pardon my dangling preposition, it does that from time to time)?

I've been there the first five years straight, skipped a year to go on a normal mountain bike mancation, and then went back last year.  I think skipping a year between my attendance works for me, as I like to go and see new places, but not being there really pulls at my heart strings all the more when I miss one.  I really do love that race.  Even the "not breathing" part.

I have a decent amount of friends who are looking to throw their cowboy hats (Mike loves cowboy hats) in the ring, so more than likely I'll be going back as well.  Make that a 95% chance, because predicting my future thirteen months out seems optimistic at best.

Other good news?

I saw this on the Instagram on Tuesday:

Do you believe in miracles, because I do now.

I first started riding Pisgah back in... 1997?  Was it that long ago?

Anyways, back then, getting around Pisgah wasn't as easy as it is now, what with GPS, STRAVA, the internet...  not to mention, we were dealing with a certain lack of popular exposure and a sense of "locals" mentality.   We figured our way around the woods by staring at (terrible) maps, reading guide books and guesswork.  We had no idea that some trails were "seasonal," and we rode all the things whenever we wanted to (again, pardon).

Seasonal.  Closed to bikes from April 15 through October 15th.  If I've been told correctly, the trails are very popular with hikers during those times, so to avoid conflicts... no bikes.  Since learning about the whole "seasonal" thing, I've done a very good at job avoiding those trails when I'm not supposed to be on them... despite the fact that a lot of my favorite loops are impacted down in the North Mills area.

One such trail, Bennett Gap.

Only a tiny section of the trail is (was) actually seasonal.  It's the portion that completes the Coontree Loop, a popular and easy-to-access trail for hikers.  If you stare at the map, you can also see that Bennett begins and ends on the same fire road, so from October 15th to April 15th, it sees a fair amount of shuttlers.

I'm sure someone could say they heard me mumble something about the difficulty of the climb not being quite worth the reward of the descent.  This probably has a lot more to do with the time of year that one can (could) actually ride the trail.  When it first opens, it's covered in a thick duvet of leaves.  A four star hotel duvet, not the one on my bed.  Such an unpleasant surprise, finding all the hidden obstacles whilst astride me hard tail.  By the time it gets run-in and you can see shit, it's cold AF in Pisgah.  Add to that, that's my fat-and-outta-shape season.  Climbing is not my friend.  We're not even acquaintances.

So maybe I hit it twice a year... since this is the same time that my favorite (less-climby) loop over on the west side can be had due to it also having a key piece of it on a seasonal trail as well.

I'm not saying that I've never shuttled Bennett.  Once... mebbe twice.

It's just that when I go to Pisgah, I want to do more than just ride in the back of a pickup for half the day.   Shuttles tend to disappoint me with the amount of standing around and organizing and passengering and general bullshit that happens when a bunch of dudes have too much time to high five...

Anyways, to be able to ride Bennett Gap during the summer?  Bonus.  Super bonus even.

I have to thank the Pisgah Area SORBA for doing all the hard work (politicking) to get this approved by the USFS.  I can't believe they got it done... just never thought things would ever change for the better (being the glass pretty much empty kinda guy that I am).  Also, a big thanks to The Pisgah Hub and Tavern for throwing the first sponsored PAS workday in the cleanup effort to get it ready for heavier use (not too many hikers hit the upper and lower portions, so yeah... overgrown I would imagine).

I guess the only thing that I ask is that as you enjoy the fruits of their labradors, keep in mind that we are still sharing the trail with hikers... who might be surprised to see us out there.  I'm not directing this at the begoggled Enduro™ shuttlers specifically.  A real asshole can ride down the mountain in stretchy, super hero clothes as well as pads and a full face helmet.  It's a super fun trail for everyone, so as your bombing down the mountain in the coming months (and years and decades), keep in mind that as this trail has been opened up to us, it could also be closed.

In short, don't be an asshole, asshole.

I'll be going up there this weekend if you would like a lesson.*



*you might have to wait up for me on the descents tho

Tuesday, July 19

Red Truck

The biggest problem that I have after the altercation I experienced with a man driving a red pickup truck yesterday on my way to work would not be that I stood my ground for no good reason (other than being in the right), but that I then spent the rest of my morning carrying around the fact that I lost my cool and remained angry, whereas I'm positive this was just one more shitty thing in his shitty life to be forgotten by the time he parks his red truck.

not my picture
I'm not saying you're an asshole if you drive a red truck, but your odds might go up a bit after the acquisition and an undetermined period of usage (according to my limited observations and rushed conclusions).

BTW:  On my first few runs of the day, I had my eye out for red trucks.  I had no idea it was such a popular color amongst truck enthusiasts.  Noted.

No matter who was in the right, we both failed at being Buddha.


Monday, July 18

Muh Timbers

Shit.

I'm lacking something.  Somewhere.

The Pie and I had a DINC weekend.  Time on our hands.  An economy to boost.  Rain Friday night and I wake up wondering what normal people do on a Saturday morning when they don't ride mountain bikes.

Whine, piss, bitch, mope about the house... certain the local trails are closed.

What do people do?  Srsly.

"Why don't you just buy a road bike so you can get a good ride in when this happens?" asks The Pie.*

*shiver*

Go downstairs and check the local trail status.  Some things are open.  Mebbe not what I'm in the mood for but also not buying a road bike.

Check the weather.  Humidity through the roof and storms coming later.

I'm not going road bike shopping... but this:

Full disclosure. My Thomson drooper has been sent back for warranty.  Fore/aft play.  No bueno.

That leaves me with the Stickel, which I really don't wanna take out of Pisgah mode.  32X20 and all that, not to mention the not-too-quick handling from putting a 120mm fjork on a bike meant to be rigid or at the most, 100mm of air-sprung squish.  Not the best bike for the local twisty turnies.

Any ride is better than no ride (or a road ride), so fuck it.

One quick local loop at pleasure pace (32X20, so no choice, natch) all by my lonesome and backtrack a little to drop/jump some things that drop/jump a few times.  Nobody ever does that on a road bike ride.

Good thing I got out so I could sweat my balls off while I could.  Huge storms came through Saturday evening. 

Sunday, I found myself looking at road bikes on the internet.  Watching le (other) Tour in another window. 

Close the window with the road bikes for me and watch the road bikes for others.

Organize the junk room.  What's become of me?

"There's nothing wrong with taking a day off," says The Pie.

Not knowing what else to do (other than go to Bike Source and buy a road bike)... I went running.

I know.

It's not that I hate running.  I did try to start up again this past winter... which is probably dumb.  Too cold.  My old man joints ache.  I gave up pretty quickly this past... November?  Who can remember these things?

I might stick with this for awhile.  Without a race to train for in the near future, I can't see getting up at 5:30AM to get enough saddle time in before I leave for work to make a difference.

But I can see getting up at 6:15AM to work up a sweat and enjoy feeling like an athlete (or something).

BTW:  Just throwing this out there.  This is too much to google, what with all the words and stuff.  Anyone know if there are downsides to working out in the heat, day after day, week after week?  For an "older" person?  More recovery time needed?

Just wondering.  My commute home from work is only @25 minutes, but when I get home?  Whooped.  Hard.  I could take a cold shower and go straight to bed.

Of course, I don't.  Shower, eat, hang out, go for a walk, drink beer... watch something on the entertainment rectangle.  Don't normally feel like this, but when it's hot?

Yeth.  Almost every day.

Don't mention hydration.  Some days I do a good job.  Some, not so good.  Doesn't affect the feels.

* I'm not going to lie and say that I don't wonder about this some times.  Just like running, I used to like this.  Just like I used to enjoy listening to Bruce Springsteen.  Bueno or no bueno?

Friday, July 15

Fings

When I returned home from the Tour de Burg, I was given a writing task that kept me focused enough for a few days that I didn't have time for post-Tour blues.   I think it will show up in print... someday.  Assuming I didn't screw it up like I must have on that never-aired podcast interview I did with Fat Cyclist.  I wonder if it was my mumbling (which I'm sure got worse the deeper I got into the beers), the poor sound quality of my janky 2006 setup, or the fact that I really wasn't all that interesting.  More than likely all the above.

Back to a world without a longer term focus.

This is the time of year that I used to have a laser beam drive towards prepping for ORAMM, something I haven't done since 2013.  Pride and a lack of something to do make me want to go back more than I like to admit.  That and I miss that dark place I can put myself into when I get to a predetermined turn on Curtis Creek Road and go all in.  So bueno.

A certain group of miscreants are trying to get me to jump in the The Hub and Pisgah Tavern short bus for the Wilderness 101.  I can't seem to get them to understand that this race has nothing for me.  I can't describe the feeling, as I know others love this race.  I certainly don't have a problem finding a dark place there, it's just not the dark place I want to be in... ever... again.

I did finally make a decision...

Single Speed USA has been moved from the "Mebbe" column to the "do."

All it took was for Bill Nye and Jim to say they're going, and I fell in line.  I wasn't going to make the trip by myself, but with a slight nudge... this doesn't look as trbl.

Mebbe it does.  As much as I dislike jamming all my fun into a short time and all the traveling, a four day work week, followed by a four day work week, followed by a one day work week, ending with anther four day work week?  Buneo.

If I end up doing Fool's Gold?  Abbreviated work week #4 in a row.

I should be quite the train wreck going into the Shenandoah Mountain 100 for my (hopefully) tenth and final finish for quite awhile.  Don't know what I'll do on Labor day in 2017 since I haven't had to figure that out since 2005, but I'm sure it won't be "ride 100 miles."

Now, to try and stay motivated to not slip into winter mode in the middle of summer.