Wednesday, October 22

2014 Double Dare: Day Two

5:00AM.  The sound of an orchestra of kazoos playing The Final Countdown shocks me into a state of sudden awareness.  Best start to any day.  The realization that I will finally be a part of a Double Dare Day Two start as a participant, not a guy who failed to finish the day before but stayed up all night drinking by the fire to watch everybody else head back out for twelve hours of fun without me.

We're moving slow.  As expected.  An hour to go before we head back out into the same darkness we finished in the night before.  It's in the mid thirties out, so at least there's no frost on the ground like usual. 

The hour goes by fast.  Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever starts mumbling on the PA system.  Ready to go, I head over to listen.  Something about going up Farlow is all I catch.  I ask Eric to confirm.  Yes.  We are heading straight up the beast that is Farlow Gap, time trial style to our passports, not up the road as is customary... unless you are into unnecessary pain.

I head back to retrieve Zac at the tent. We start in less than eight minutes.  If you don't make your start, you're DQ'ed.  Not good.  He's in the vestibule doing something.  I don't have the energy to ask what.  Eight minutes goes by and I hear Eric calling our names.  Zac is still in the vestibule, but feeling my sense of urgency, he emerges.  We head to the start, they bleep my timing blooper, Zac realizes he left his in the tent, I wait at the edge of the campground for him to fetch it. We're doing great so far.

Up Daniel's Ridge to Farlow.  Zac is riding strong where it's possible to ride a bike.  I'm trying to ride, but am sorta feeling drunk from lack of sleep.  We get to the base of Farlow.  More hike-a-bike.  Look back down the mountain in amazement at the site of all the little tiny lights behind me.  Try to keep my feet dry on the creek crossings.  Almost fall backwards while trying to scale a steep rock section.  Catch myself before tumbling ass over tea kettle, but bust my SIDI buckle into pieces.  Fuck.

A creek crossing without paying attention and I scoop my toe into the water enough to fill my shoe.  Another creek crossing and the rock I was counting on to hold my weight tips over.  The other foot is soaked now.  Angered by the wet feet and busted buckle, I hike in rage.  Passing other riders being hikers with drool coming out of the side of my mouth.  Still taking in the wonder of the strange, bright orange light coming through the trees and lighting the ground in strange patches.  This is the day two experience I was hoping for.  I get to the passports and wait for Zac to get to the top.

Once again, Eric has outdone himself.  The mandatory checkpoint is ridiculously far away (Buckhorn Gap shelter).  So many checkpoints stuck in so many bad places.  I tell Zac there is no glory to be had adding to our 2.5 checkpoints from day one.  We're in good company, as many others have lowballed their expectations right along with us.  We opt for another 2.5 checkpoint kinda day.

I give Bob Moss some of my Little Debbie's brownies, as he was caught with his pants down and left his food behind in a mad dash to make his start time.  Where I'm going, I won't need much.  I'm guessing between five and seven hours to make the mandatory and one for good measure on Bennett.

We head towards the gravel descent.  Zac's best guess, 2,700 feet of descending.  My wet feet become painful rocks.  My hands are throbbing.  Even the easy way out hurts.  We diddy-bop our way over to the climb up Clawhammer Road, and maybe twenty minutes in, my feet and hands are back to normal.  The realization that I will descend Clawhammer for a second time in two days amazes me.  There is no reason to ever do that.

We get to the top, hike up to the Buckhorn Gap shelter (about four hours into the day), Erinna gives us the option to hacky sack volley three times or eat two jalapeno peppers.  We hacky sack successfully, and then Zac eats the peppers for good measure.  1/2 a checkpoint earned.  Zac pockets another pepper for his Ramen noodles later.

Descend back down Clawhammer, bang the right up Bennett and push up to Coontree.

Our one and one and done route.

Down Coontree and back to camp on 276.  No cars almost hit us on this day, and we get back to camp before anyone else.  Drink beer, eat biscuits and tear down a tent that dried nicely in the sun while we were gone.

I got what I came for, a Double Dare finish and a completion of all the events in the King of Pisgah Series.  An interesting collection of results.

1st Single Speed Team (with Zac) at PMBAR
2nd Single Speed at the Pisgah 111K
3rd Single Speed at the Pisgah 55.5K
4th Single Speed at the Pisgah Monster Cross...

and 24th overall at Double Dare... 3rd place in the single speed class.

There were classes at Double Dare?

I guess I should pay more attention.

Double Dare aftermath tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 21

2014 Double Dare: Day 1

On the 2.5 hour drive to Double Dare, Zac and I discuss many things, one of which being the silly people that choose "fun" routes over practical ones whilst doing PMBAR and Double Dare.  We decide to not be those guys.  We shoulda pinky swore on it.

Getting ready before the race.  Zac realizes that he left all his jerseys at home.  I have brought four sleeveless jerseys, all part of a layering plan to avoid wearing a pack on a potential 12 hour ride.  We work out a plan that involves some sharing and the wearing of soiled jerseys on day two.  We are an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

I'll do my best to not lose those that are not familiar with the layout of the Pisgah National Forest from this point on in the interest of making great bike story.

Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever sends us out time trial style starting at noon... to the other side of the forest (South Mills at Bradley), where will will get our passports with ten possible checkpoints.  The team with the most checkpoints wins, one checkpoint will be mandatory.  I'm not gonna move up in the King of Pisgah series no matter how hard I try unless someone above me makes a mistake.  The minimum will do fine for me.

We head out in the same general direction as the other teams.  Zac and I have our route planned, but once I realize how boring it will be to grind mostly gravel and pavement to get there, I ask him if we can take a more "fun" route... more trail.  More gnar.  He's in.  We're stupid.

Pink Beds, Gauging Station Road, South Mills, Squirrel,  Cantrell, South Mills... we run into other riders who are on similar but still different routes.  There's just no easy way to get there and people are making better and worse decisions than ours.  Three hours after we start, we finally get our passports.

The looks on people's faces as they pore over their passports and maps is incredible.  Eric has decided to make this the hardest Double Dare ever.  It is immediately apparent that all ten will be within reach of only the super humans.  I think seven, maybe eight could be attained by the strong teams.  Piles of poison carrots all over the forest.  Untidy bunches.  No logical routes whatsoever.  Temptations aplenty for the greedy checkpoint collectors.  Eric pushing buttons in a dark room.

The mandatory CP is a punishing push up Turkey Pen.  It doesn't loop in very well with anything, but most of the checkpoints don't hook up seamlessly anyways.  Four hours in and we finally get there.  FOUR HOURS TO JUST GET TO THE MANDATORY CHECKPOINT.  Write a haiku or nail a beer can with a slingshot for a half CP bonus.  We do both for no better reason than killing time.  A beer is drank by each of us and we move on.

We select a route with the possibility of hitting four total checkpoints.  I tell Zac that trying to get up into the North Mills area or high up on Laurel Mountain will easily lump more than three hours onto our day... if everything went well.  We decide to stay in the hole that is the South Mills River area, turning our backs on the poison carrot bunches.

We get to the bottom of Cantrell, a place we'd already been to today without knowing it was a checkpoint.  Take the photo.  Move on. 

On the way up the trail that is hardly a trail... more of a stream bed, I can see that Zac still has his punch but is carrying fatigue.  We'd already discussed our lack of a good night's sleep on Friday for our own various reasons.  It was now taking its toll.

While walking gracefully up the stream/trail, Zac asks what it would take to really make a run at this whole race.  I tell him that without decent sleep the night before, we'd have a huge hole to dig out of at 5:00AM on Sunday.  We'd have to start the race with the mindset that we were going for twelve hours, two days in a row.  We'd have to really stay on top of our nutrition and hydration.  At that point, we were 5.5 hours in.  Zac had consumed two water bottles and a beer.  Me?  One water bottle and a beer.  You don't stay on top of your game for twelve hours that way.

At the top of Cantrell, we fill our bottles at the creek.  A decision has to be made.  Go right for maybe a 45 minute (or more) out and back to a checkpoint or skip it and go left.  I know I want to hit the one on Bennett on our way back, so I tell Zac I'd rather save our chips for that hand.  He concurs.  We go left.

We ride Squirrel, South Mills, Buckhorn Gap... finishing up in the dark.  Lights on, an amazing leaf-covered ride down Clawhammer Road.  We blow past the out and back on Bennett.  I know it, Zac doesn't.  When he mentions it, I tell him we shouldn't bother.  There's not much difference in the pride of nailing two or three checkpoints.  We take paved 276 back towards camp... and then we almost die.

Darkness.  An occasional car goes by.  We talk about tomorrow...  and then there's the heart-stopping sound of screeching tires from behind.  Headlights right behind us.  Zac yells.  A quick glance over my shoulder and I see him going into a ditch and the lights are still coming for me.

No one was hit. Zac and I are both in the ditch.  Tire smoke everywhere.  The guy rolls down his window as he drives by... says he never saw us.  Our blinkies blazing, our hundreds of lumens of LED light casting off in the distance illuminating the surrounding trees.  He slurred all his words.  I think I know why he "never saw us."

Bummer, but very exciting.  Hate to have to drop out of yet another Double Dare, but dead would have been a better excuse than a torn sidewall.  Zac is happy that there is no trip to the hospital that would delay his access to his macaroni and cheese (and avocado and tuna and chicken juice)  Adrenaline helps keep you warm for sure.  I know that now.  We roll into camp eight and a half hours after starting, 2.5 checkpoints in hand.  Plenty of time to take care of ourselves, drink a couple beers, and get six or so hours of sleep for day two.

Thursday, October 16

Getting Munga'ed On

Unless you were hiding under a rock, you already know that The Munga was canceled.

Of course, you mighta been hiding under a rock that was just one rock under a pile of other, much larger rocks and not even know what The Munga is (was).  It was going to be a (mostly) self-supported, (sorta mountain bike oriented) non-stop, (unless you want to) two man team, 1,000km race in South Africa.

(actual course map)
Oh yeah, with a million dollar purse.

Several people suggested that I form an alliance with another "internet famous" single speeding individual and try to KickStart our $10,000 entry fee (and expenses). Plausible.  I'd get some social media support from those still within the "industry insider douchebag" circle that still acknowledge my presence, promise that if we win the $100,000 underdog prize (natch), I will match all the KickStarter funds with a donation to some noble bike related charity... what could go wrong?

Yes, the race is a big commitment.  1,000km ain't no joke, especially when you've never done something like that before.  But I'd figure that out.

I had other issues.  Before I decide to do an event, I think everything through.  When I plunk down my (or in this case, your) money, I've got the logistics planned out from my door, there, and back.  I know at times it may not seem that way, but I always have a plan for everything... aside from the racing part.  It always sorts itself out.

I had a hinky feeling about the race though.  The same way I felt about that stage race in Fernie that fell apart and sent Tinker Juarez off in disgust looking for a place to fish as opposed to finishing the race.  Not everything added up, so the idea of asking people for money, training, arranging travel, vaccinations, equipment acquisition...

The fact that no one was taking credit for ponying up the prize money?

"We’ve got a consortium of private South African business investors, keen cyclists themselves… the main guy is the chairman of a South African listed company and they may or may not bring their corporate brand to the race."

Warning flag number one.  

I bailed on the idea pretty early on.  I'm not kidding myself.  I woulda needed to partner up with someone much more motivated than me to pull off the whole "asking people to pay for my fun" thing.  Not my style, but neither is coming up with $5,000 plus some expensive travel plans just to do a bike race (with no singletrack?).

So now the race is over (postponed till next year when the money fairy comes to town), and way more people than I woulda imagined are left pretty disappointed.  I can only imagine.  Sorta like hearing that there are cookies in the breakroom, but when you get there, all that's left are crumbs on a festive serving tray.

But probably a lot worse.

Maybe next year, guys.  How long are those vaccines good for?

No post tomorrow.  More sorting of gear and sleeping before the Double Dare.  Being that I'll be racing up to 24 hours over a 36 hour period and driving home, unloading the car, and passing out... no guarantees on Monday either.

Tuesday, October 14

Preparation Double D

Red Bull Dreamride was little more than a chance to hang out with... I dunno.  Like everyone I know that rides a bike between Charlotte and Tennessee.  I had fun being part of some sort of Red Bull infomercial.  I was bothered by the fact that there were no trash cans/recycle bins close to the action (where the drinking happened).  I guess it woulda looked bad in the drone shots.  Hard to see all the garbage at peoples' feet from above.  Not so hard when everyone is heading out to the shuttles.

Kudos to Oskar Blues.  Only charging $6 for a 19.2oz Stovepipe?  That was pleasantly surprising, since we were trapped on the property with no outside food or beverages allowed.  They coulda reamed people but didn't.  I don't know how expensive the food was.  I ate two Pop Tarts at 6:00AM and didn't see the business end of a Philly cheese steak until about 8:00PM.  That's all part of the diet plan.

Double Dare prep this week.  I'm already behind.  The Oldest Dog in the World decided to have a senior moment Friday night.  Lots of pacing, moaning, and barking... I slept maybe three hours.  I'm still tired.

That does not mean "The Piling" has not begun.

One of the things I hate most about 24 hour races (aside from riding for 24 hours without sleep).  Stuff.  So much of it to gather, analyze, sort, stack (yes, I would make a terrible Tour Divide rider).  I'm gonna have to wear a pack, so whatever.  Too much food, clothing, first aid, lights... stuff.  I hate stuff.

I'm doing whatever I can to minimize stuff.

The world's best ever multi-tool.

2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm Allens, T-25 and a flat head screwdriver.  I should be able to do whatever with these.  Swap brake pads, adjust brake reach, put my crank back on, kill a squirrel.  I'll be selling these totally customizable tools for whatever a Blackburn Toolmanator 16 costs, plus a 5mm from Home Depot and my labor ($20).  I expect to sell none of them.

Calories.  The lazy (and smart) man's choice.  Carborocket 333 Single Serve Stick Packs make things way too easy.  Starting with two full bottles each day and carrying four single serves, 5-6 hours worth of calories and something that doesn't taste like dookie when mixed with creek water.  Ramens and canned tuna, also lazy and warm in the belly for Saturday night.  Pop Tarts and coffee for breakfast.  All the same principle.

Now add in ALL the Little Debbie's Fudge Brownies.  280 calories per.

Times twelve and I haz 3,360 calories, 36 grams of protein, almost 100% of my daily iron, all the fat and sugar.

Zombie Apocalypse fantasy food.  So many calories, portable, and as an added plus, zombies hate diabetics.  Too rich for their tastes.

And the whole time I'm getting all this ready for the Double Dare, I look at the Vertigus that needs to be converted back to racing bike cycle in less than two weeks for the Wilkes 100k.

And all I really want to do is sleep for eight straight hours.

Monday, October 13

Red Bull Dreamline... what I saw

Picture = one thousand words

Many pictures = many thousand of words

Yeah... some people got to ride their bikes this past weekend.

Friday, October 10

Join Me in the Rabbit Hole

Let's go there.

Once again, riding down Black Mountain.  The long travel hardtail showed its ass.  The 150mm fjork writing checks the back end can't cash.  Full squish thoughts push to the front of my brain.

Single speed options.  Not just conversions.  No, not that URT steel frame from New England.  I didn't get URTs when they were a thing.  I certainly don't get them now.

Lenz.  The new Lunch Money.

Big travel... almost too much IMHO.  At least for what I want.  Besides that, you're not squeaking a bottle cage in a proper place, and I ain't riding with a midget strangling me all day (hydration pack) every time I ride or a bottle under the down tube collecting horse poop when shred Pisgah.

The Milk Money 4.0... more my speed.

Probably could squeeze a bottle in there, available in 650b, I'd run a 150mm fjork on it despite the "recommendations"... but a 27.2 post and $2425 for a frame.

Cane Creek Double Barrel Inline... mebbe some wink-wink action with a great sponsor and I get (buy) the shock I would want (low/high speed compression/rebound damping adjustments) to get the most out of a full suspension single speed.  A nudge-nudge and some Industry Nine Torch wheels with some additional fundage... but still?  Even with some help, add in some decent brakes, Thomson drooper (natch), cranks, fjork, some sorta cockpit...  I end up with a $5000-6000 bike that if I don't like it?

So niche.  I'll be more upside-down than a new home-buyer in 2008.

Other options?

Suck it up.  Buy gears.  Deal with it.  So much money to be saved if I just buy a complete with OEM parts.

But I looked.  Nobody makes it.  Shimano brakes (no Avoids), 1Xsomething (keep your 2 & 3X to yourself), decent drooper (KS Lev can stay out of this).  No shit parts allowed.

Go with a 1X11 system and I'm slightly screwed if I hate gears (for a third time).  I'd have to get a new freehub (assuming the manufacturer made the rear wheel swappable).  At least with the advent of narrow/wide chainrings, I could run a short cage derailleur with a clutch and have a drop-free tensioner with very little resistance (unlike the YESS ETR D I used on the Tallboy).

At the bottom of Black Mountain, I asked Zac how he'd gone so fast without destroying his rear wheel.  He had blown Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever and I away on his 650b hardtail (that he made hisdamnself).

"I don't care about this rim.  It's shot.  I'll be replacing it this week."

And there you have it.

I gave it some more thought.  For all the horrible noises I heard, there were no new dings in my rim.  Still one decent one from some time ago and one hardly noticeable one from who knows when...

But no new damage.

So maybe it's in my head.  All this banging around on this rear wheel for almost a year and only a couple dings... and this made here in NC Industry Nine Torch wheel has never gone more than a hair outta true?

I don't have a problem aside from the problems I think I have but don't.  I have so much fun on the DickStickel, aside from all the cringing when I hear a loud THUD-DING-POW! from not quite getting clear of some chunk gnar. 

Unless something changes, things will stay the same.  I might try to demo something someday so I can get over my lusty ways, but for now, I'm gonna deal with it.

I think I just saved myself thousands of dollars... unless I get some Pillar Crabon this winter.

photos from MTBR (obviously)  Don't want Francis to go all Huang on me.
In which case, I'll spend six months worth of beer money... and those bad noises will sound more expensive.

This weekend?  Up in the air.

Brevard chance of rain tomorrow: 50%
Chapel Hill chance of rain tomorrow: 40%
Charlotte chance of rain tomorrow: 80%

So, pros and cons list time.

Go to Brevard for the Red Bull Dreamline.

See little rubber people fly through the air, be inspired
Paul's driving, I can drink beers (he saved me a seat)

(that's real)
It's not Charlotte

See little rubber people fly through the air, feel unworthy
Beers cost an unknown amount of money
Rain can mean "rain out"
Using potential bike ride time to watch people ride bikes

Go to the 6BC race in Chapel Hill.

Get some fitness before Double Dare
Ride somewhere new
Chance to beat Mark Farnsworth
It's not Charlotte

It might rain
I have a lot of work to do to get ready tonight
I might regret this decision one hour into the race
I might burn myself out on long'ish rides the week before Double Dare

Stay in Charlotte.

I don't have to go anywhere
It's where I live
The above reasons suit me perfectly
Beer in fridge

I'll get fatter
Rain means no trail riding
It's Charlotte

Decision time.

Paul did (literally) sweeten the deal last night.

Damn.  I'm only human after all.