Wednesday, October 26

If loving you is wrong, at least I now know one thing

Long post, buckle up.

The other day, I heard world renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me."  On the segment called "Not My Job," he was asked three multiple choice questions about cosmetology.  He only got one correct.  Host Peter Sagal was much excite.

Sagal ~ "... I was so pleased by the idea of fooling you that - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - so, like, by doing this, I therefore, by the rule of succession, become the smartest person in the world."  

Tyson ~ "So I look - I look at it differently. I look at had I gotten all three right... I would've learned nothing. But having gotten two wrong, I learned two things today."

I try to answer a lot of my bike related questions myself.  Often times, my answers are incorrect, but in coming up with the wrong answer, I eliminate one of my multiple choices and theoretically, I learn something.  

Case in point; my quest to replace my messenger bag on my daily commute.  The Mystery Ranch Hip Monkey was/is a decent option.  The PDW Takeout Basket?   Not so much.

Yeth, it's for sale.  Reasonable offers considered.  Unreasonable offers will be read for the purposes of humor only.  The Thomson logo'ed WTB Silverado Slimline saddle is not included but also for sale.

I'm pretty sure I know why it was a fail.  One of the best things about a tarck bike on the street is its quick handling.  It's just silly responsive to bar input.  I run a super long stem with a swept bar that puts my hands just ahead of the steer tube, so when you stick a basket out front, it's pretty much hanging out over the axle.  So, I can't put my finger on the physics of why it sucked, I just know that it did.

So with that option eliminated, I can feel a whole lot better about my "fanny pack."  I've yet to approach the limits of what I can stuff in there, and although it took some time, I don't mind it hanging on my lower body parts anymore.

I plan on trying a few new things during this off "season" which may or may not help me make great bike race in '17.  

Like these ESI Fit Grips.

How I ended up with them is a long story, but let's just say, I pay too much attention to the internet.  Also, that's why they're red and not pink.. because... I didn't pick the color.  You may remember that I tried these once before... sorta.  They were the XC version, which was a combination of the Chunky and Super Chunky diameters.  The slimmer CR version is a mix of Chunky and Racer's Edge (what I currently use).  I did like the sorta flanged feel of the grip last time, but they were to large in diameter, and my hands weren't as accommodating as Emily Batty's.

I'll try those soon, but not now in an effort to not mix in another variable, because there's this:

I'm borrowing this rigid, non-crabon frok from Roca Roja for a bit.   It's a titanium Horquilla.


I've always wanted to try a titanium rigid fork, but I could never find one that wasn't:

A truss fork (too busy)

Less than $1,000

Only available with a frame purchase (or a drive to Ohio to visit Rody from Groovy Cycleworks)

A Sibex

Oh, those were the days.

The borrowed fork is not a tit for tat swap (geometry and weight-wise) with the ENVE I normally run, but right now I'm just trying to get a feel for... the feels.

Pretty sure Cosmo told me that the fork has BEEFY 31.6mm (external) blades and with that tapered steer tube and 15mm thru-axle, it surely can't feel like the steel unicrown QR forks that I wrote off years ago.

Not sure if fork is prototype or decals tho.

Ignore the janky hose routing and whatnot.

This is what Cosmo had handy and with the longer A-C and hydro guides in places I would have never accounted for when I trimmed the hydro line for the ENVE and Fox Step Cast, so this was the best I could come up with in two minutes.

If I end up liking it (and adapting to the new aesthetic), I can always order something with a little different axle to crown and cable stops where I want to suit my needs... unless I like the slacker head tube... which, who knows?

And finally (for now), hopefully this shows up today or tomorrow:

Because if not, I'll be drooping my Thomson drooper with my teeth this weekend.

Yeth, the 150mm Fox Transfer Factory drooper I got a couple months ago is gone.  I'm much happier with my Thomson, so that's about all I've got to say about that.

So, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, I now know two things that I didn't know before.  Soon, I may know three more things than he didn't.

Nothing from me from now until next Tuesday or so.

Tuesday, October 25

We need order here.

In retrospect, I could have Cyclofapfested much betterer, but in retrospect, I'm much better at retrospectation.

I should have taken a day off work last week and finagled my way into an "industry" day.  Without the hordes of people to play lumbering cattle with, I might have felt like taking the time to grab a demo bike or two.  Given that I would then have time to catch up with friends and make great (or not so great) bike rides over two days, not one.

I also could have came back on Sunday with a little more of an agenda.  There were fewer activities to miss out on, so perhaps I woulda spent my time doing this and not that.


I've been a very busy boy ever since that tree fell on the house.  I expected that they would already be underway with the reconstruction, but I also expect all my hair will fall out eventually.  I'm just not sure what will happen first.  Since I thought things would be moving quicker, I'd left so many things just all over the place where I thought they would only temporarily be in the interim.  Luggage, under-the-bed storage things, and FedEx crates full of clothes stacked in my bike room.  Most of my normal people clothes just tossed about in Nia's room... her room being a repository for all manner of things that were evacuated from the room that was destroyed.  99% of a tree tossed about the front yard along with a scrap of drywall here, a chunk of rafter there... shingles here and there.

So that's where my Sunday went.  It looks like we're in for a long haul, and it was time to settle in... especially since I plan on being out of town seven out of the next twelve days.

There was a time when if I was staying in a hotel for close to a week, I would still live out of my duffel bag in the corner of the room.  Eventually, it would morph and grow into a large pile that would take up more than my share of the floor space.  I've learned (over the past decade or so, mostly by example) as a semi-adult, it's best to take the time to use the dresser drawers and keep the chaos limited.

So since the tree fell two weeks ago, I've been living in the morphing pile of chaos.  Finally, the anal compulsion in me had met its limits.   I needed to find some sense of order in the madness.  Stop tripping on displaced items and wondering just what became of my wool sweaters.  Despite it being a beautiful day outside, I fought the urge to return to Cyclofapfest and turned my attention away from my bikes (well, I did wash the Durango dust off the Stickel).

What I have now is a workable solution that I can live with, for months if need be.

Which it probably will be.

Monday, October 24

Cyclofapfest that was less "fap" and more "fest"

I screwed up pretty much everything possible at my Cyclofapfesting activities.  Or at least, that's what some and/or most would say.

On Wednesday, I went straight to The Spoke Easy after work.  The ride was supposed to leave at 6:00PM, and I wanted to get my ass on a demo Surly of some sort for the ride.   I got there and there's no Surly demo truck yet.  I ordered a beer.

And then another.

And then another.

And then... another.

Somewhere in and amongst the anothers, Surly arrived sometime well after the 6:00PM start.  Bikes were tossed assunder on the sidewalk out front.  I flicked some tires and whatnot.  It was apparent that the ride was going to happen at some point but when?

I ordered another beer and decided that I wasn't headed out on a ride that would take me further from home and last until an hour my old person brain couldn't handle on a school night.

I drank the remainder of my evening's beers in front of the TV watching the last presidential debate... possibly ever.

Thursday and Friday, people started coming into town and texting me.

"What's going on tonight?"

I have no idea.  I planned on doing nothing Thursday and a date with The Pie on Friday.  See you...

Saturday.  Get up at 7:00AM and ride my bike towards a coffee shop a few miles away to meet up with Kangalangamangus and Dave.  On the way, I realize I will probably be all full of fail today.  Not sure why, but I can certainly sense it.

Watch Kangalangamangus and Dave eat and drink things until they're ready to go.  Once we get to Cyclofapfest, we go our separate ways.   I roll towards what looks like an entrance.  A security type person asks me for my pass, I don't have one, and I'm instructed to go to the entrance all the way on the other side.

Go around and get in line to register.  Seven people deep.  Someone I know cuts to the front of the line and my head melts.  I decide I can't do this right now.  I ride away.

Feeling my way around, I end up on the cyclo-ross course.  I ride until I find the Gentle Ginger and Hubbs.  Hubbs tells me all about his e-bike ride the day before.  He says I need to get on one.


Eventually, I head back to the fapfesting.  By the time I return, the line is closer to thirty people deep.  Kangalangamangus and Dave are already inside.  They just walked in the entrance where I had been denied earlier.  I talk to Drew (former Charlotte messenger) from Industry Nine on the outside of the fence.  Catch up with him until someone on the other side is willing to hand me half the credentials I need to get inside, and with a little cajoling, I'm fapfesting.

Run into another former messenger, Little Mike.  He works for Shimano now.  He regaled me with tales of Red Bull Rampage from the inside POV.  I'm slack-jawed, being that he is now doing something so incredible, and I'm still doing the same thing I was doing... for the past million years.

Shoot the shit with Jimbo from Stan's.  He kept me entertained when I broke my ass at TSE, and I'm forever in his debt.

Head over to the Maxxis tent.  Introduce myself to Andrew and apologize for attaching an image of a shirtless me to my application for '17 sponsorship.  He tells me things about tires, and I listen.  Hopefully a sexy tire might find its way to my hands soon.  He gives me some extra special HandUp gloves that had been put aside for me since Interbike, and I head back into the fray.

Walk around some more.  No agenda.  I quickly realize that I'm not going to ride an e-bike.  Hubbs's story was enough for me.

"I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull's ass, but I'd rather take a butcher's word for it." ~ Thomas R. "Big Tom" Callahan

Hubbs playing the part of the butcher, the e-bike being something I might see from inside a bull's ass.

For some reason, I decide I really don't want to know what an e-bike rides like, and for that matter, just about every other bike here.  The only two bikes that (lightly) grab my fancy right now aren't here at the Cyclofapfest.  The idea of waiting in line to test a bike just because?

I see friends trying to coordinate across the festival with a bike from here and one from there to go ride a bit to come back and do it again.  I can't do it.  It looks... brain-hurty.

Fortunately, I find Watts and Dorothy.  They offer me beer and a place to hide.  I turn down the beer at first, thinking maybe I'll still ride at some point later.

And then I just give in.

From then on out, it was just hanging out, talking to friends (from all over the place but happen to be in my town today), watching cyclo-ross and then deciding to head to Bike Source's Fan Jam... which, if anything, was closer to my house and had more beer.

FM teammate, Noelle, takes pity on me and drives me over there.  It's a shitty bike ride from the USNWC, so not a difficult decision.

Beer, people I know from this town I live in, food... blood.

Eventually, back home and not really regretting much at all, except maybe not respecting the quality of knives that Subway supplies with their nine foot long Italian BMT.

I can ride bikes whenever, and when I do, I pretty much just want to ride one of the bikes that I've already sweat over every detail.  Probably a good place to be in.

But I can't catch up with all these people in one place... and I wish I woulda had more time for that.  Facebook, emails, PMs, phone calls... nothing beats face-to-face, and I miss my little friends so much. Especially as we slide into the sad time known as the off "season."

Wednesday, October 19

Ain't no Fapfest like a Cyclofapfest Fapfest

Tonight kicks off the Charlotte Cyclofapfest '16... at least for me, it does.  In case you haven't heard, a bit of Interbike is coming to (my) town for some trade show type activities and whatnot.  It is much excite or at least as excite as I can get about such things, being that my one trip to Interbike proved that I have no business being at such things.

Me, two actual, well-respected athletes and a Kerkove photobomb.

Leading things off, I'm headed to The Spoke Easy after work for the Surly Bikes Miss Adventures Booty Loop Lapaganza.

Despite the "ONE LESS SURLY" sticker on the Fastest Bike in the World, I'm a fan of Surly.   Walt already wrote a great post about why should all love Surly, so I won't bother.  I will say that over the past many years, I've stared longingly at the 1X1, Straggler, Krampus, Karate Monkey and Steamroller.  Only after much thought and mental building do I realize that I almost already have what I want that's pretty close, and I shut everything down before I pull out my credit card.

So, yeth.  Come out and drink beer and ride bikes with the "goofs and deplorables" of The Official Intergalactic Surly Regional HQ.

Thursday and Friday are both "industry" days at the show, so I won't be there for about as many reasons as I have elbows.

1. I don't want to take PTO from work.

2. Since I'm not technically in the "industry" anymore (but could probably mebbe finagle my way in), I really have no purpose in being there... other than distract whomever it was that got me in from doing their job. 

Thursday night is the evening that Rebecca Rusch will be at South Main Cycles for a meet-and-greet.

Since I've already played bicycles the night before (and I've met-and-gret Rebecca already), I'll be staying home that night.  Also, South Main is about as far away from my house as Africa.  I'll also stay home on Friday, because Saturday (and date night).  But you should totally be there on Thursday.

The two glorious days of the actual weekend are for consumers, the equivalent of Caddy Day at the Bushwood swimming pool.

I plan on getting there super early in the morning VIA some means of transportation that doesn't put me behind the wheel of a car.  I'm looking forward to the following:

Hanging out.

Riding bikes.

Watching cyclo-rossing.

Drinking beers.

There's this part of me that wants to ride demo bikes... mebbe even a Specialized Turbo Levo E-bike (hey, I tell my kids to try a vegetable before they say it's irredeemable or disgusting).  The problem being that the part of me that wants to ride demos is smaller than the part of me that wants to stand around waiting my turn to ride a demo.  That would be how Mudman and I ended up on some Dog awful crabon Origin 8 bikes at the Southeast Bike Expo years ago, because they were the only bikes with no waiting.

I looked through the list of Cyclofapfest exhibitors, and there are more than a few that have wares I would like to sample... me and probably a thousand of my close friends.  I guess we'll see how that goes.

And then somehow, I need to get my sorry ass back across town for installment #3 of Bike Source's Fan Jam.

Beer, food, raffle, and then a ride over to Bird Song (yum yum, personal fave: Higher Ground).  Then... somehow... home.

And then, Sunday.  PBE.  Dunno how I'll feel after the whole Fan Jam thing.  It's put me in the hurt locker twice before, so the outlook is not so bueno.

But yeth, looking to have a good time for the next few days doing bike stuff that doesn't involve number plates and heavy breathing.

Mebbe just a little heavy breathing tho.

Tuesday, October 18

Post- (insert long name-having bike race here)

A race like the Lula Lake Land Trust 5 Points 50 really highlights what a one dimensional rider I am.  I know my strengths, if I can call them that.  Long, desperate climbs that make other people very sad.  Descents that just rip down the mountain with little to no exposure.  Those races built around my skill set are few and far between.

What I'm terrible at... some things that are in my control and some that are not. I'm not very powerful.  Take my strength (moderate) to weight (sorta minimal) ratio into consideration, and I can go up longer climbs with less effort than a lot of riders.  Even better if I can put down the cookies and beer for a couple months.  Punchy climbs that require power?  I'm dead.  Sure, I could hit the weight room or something, but I don't want to be good at exercise.

One thing I could get better at... much better actually.  Cornering.  I'm terrible.  It's a lack of trust that the bike will do what I want, 20+ years of just doing it wrong, and the knowledge that it would take a lot of practice to unlearn these terrible habits.

I don't like "practice."  I like to ride my bike and not think about what I'm doing.  This is not conducive to improvement.  I could take a skills clinic with a reputable bike coach like Harlan with Take Aim Cycling, but I know there would be some expectation to "follow up" and do "homework" if I want to take what I learn and benefit from it.

But I know the next weekend after a clinic, I would just go out and ride and forget most if not everything I learned.  Meh.  In all honesty, I would need a week long (or more) camp to break these habits, at the very minimum.  Basically, a mountain bike brain washing.

It was insanely dry this past weekend. Tons of loose over hard conditions.  That scares me more than mud and wet roots and rocks.  I can't entirely explain it, but I'm unnerved when I feel like if I lose it, I'm going to slide across sandpaper covered in windshield glass.  No matter how much I'm telling myself to brake before the turn, lean the bike over between my legs, outside/inside/outside... I panic and pretty much fuck it all up.

I still have fun riding it, despite the fact that I'm watching people pull away from me, because brakes and the lack of using them so much.

This photo is evidence of the one thing I mentioned above (cookies and beer):

photo cred: Melissa Hart
I've let myself go, at least just a little bit.  What "definition" I had maybe even just a month ago is already showing a little rounding off on the edges.  Fewer miles, more beers and unjustified sport-eating, less "exercise."  I mighta lived in some denial these past few weeks as I extended my "season" a bit, but there's no looking away from this.  Meh.  I guess knowing that I can always ride my way out of a dry paper bag (doesn't have to be wet) allows me have just that small amount of contempt for the task at hand.  I know I can ride 40-50 at a fast'ish pace and still survive, so I just do that and suffer the consequences.

Also, that rigid crabon frok thing after not riding one for two and a half months?  Ouch.  Not only did I have to get accustomed to it pretty quickly, the parts of my body that were used to doing this were no longer available.  Those knots in my shoulders were intense enough that all I could think about doing after finishing was lying down on an ice pack for awhile.  Something I didn't do because people and beer and food and fun.

And off "season."

Time to just let it all go and not even think about next year and go on slow rides with friends in the woods until April.

Monday, October 17

Lula Lakes Land Trust 5 Points 50 '16

I woke up kinda sore on Friday morning.  It only took me a few hours to figure out why.

The tree people have not returned to clean up yet.  All this was still in my neighbor's driveway (dammit), and it was bugging the shit out of me... so I freaked out and spent 45 minutes tossing logs, sweeping, snow shoveling and picking up debris.  If I had to guess, trying to do this as fast as possible was not the best of ideas.

Otherwise, Friday went as smoothly as possible.  Off work at 4:00PM, in the car at 4:07PM, at the hotel at 9:25PM, and watching HBO in bed at 10:00PM.  Up at 5:50AM and a short drive to the race, a bit bummed to be in this part of the country for the first time and not able to see any of it in the darkness tho.

Anyways, 25 single speeders on the start line with about 100 normal others.  Some are, as always, intimidating IMHOMO.  They looked like "athletes."   We start all neutral-like on a paved road.  I'm able to stay up in the top five overall... for a very short while.

Mike Tam, the face that's usually behind a bullhorn making fun of people at cross races, decides to take a run off the front.  The pace picks up.  Mike soon comes back to us, but the damage is done.  I watch as the group pulls away from me.  About 25 riders total and about half of them are single speeders.  Half.  How the fuck does that happen?

I watch the group ahead effortlessly gapping me, and I'm alone and riding into a headwind.  Meh.    Eventually I get to the first right turn into the woods, Mike Tam on my wheel.  The heckling begins.

"I thought you were a better bike handler."

 I wonder if this will last all day long.

I get away from him, but another single speeder gets by me minutes later.  I'm in something like 12th place?  Mid pack.  Already.  What really hurts is that although I'm here to have fun, I'm actually trying and breathing hard and occasionally red-lining... and sitting just in mid pack.

The trails are super zoomy.  A succulent dirt ribbon, purpose built for mountain bike cycling.

But it is punchy.  My back is already angry, and the knot in my right shoulder tells me we're in for a long day.  I get one single speeder back, but he tells me that he's in the 30-49 age group, so meh on that accomplishment.

I get on some trail called Kindergarten and the trail turns from zoomy to thunderchunk.  Big rock maneuvers and my left hamstring says cramping seems like a good idea right now.  Mustard and hope.

Aid station #1 and pass another single speeder and back to the same place for Aid Station #2 from the other direction.  I'm starting to really regret not having something to keep track of time, as I don't know if I've been out for 45 minutes or two hours.  I refuse to ask about mileage or time at the Aid Stations... mostly because I'm blowing through them.  Also, stupid pride backing up a bad decision.

I catch another single speeder on a kick-in-the-dick trail named "Theo."

"Theo," I mumble to myself in my best Bill Cosby voice.

I come around him and he sticks on my wheel.  He won't let me go.  I don't want to "race" for 10th or 11th or 12th or whatever place we're in, so I ask him to come around.  And then, there he goes.

I catch back up to him at Aid Station #3 and grab a couple cookies and a bottle of water.  We ride together for a short spell, but eventually I can feel the cramp coming back.  My shoulder and lower back are in on this revolt, so I click it back a notch.  He rides away again.

photo cred: Dashing Images
A period of time that feels like seven hours (but isn't) goes by.  We pull into the one place that I know is close to the finish as the crow flies, but I've been told there's still a lot of pain still in store.  Once again, I find myself with the same single speeder.  We make our way up a steep climb, hit the pavement together, bang the left turn up the steep power line.  We finally introduce ourselves... and then this man named Matt leaves me again.

I catch back up to him multiple times, which makes me wonder if he believes me when I say I'm just trying to get to the finish line in the shortest amount of time in the least amount of pain.  He finally gaps me and now the only thing I see is the dust he's kicking up in the corners. 

Pop out of the woods, cross the road, hit the gravel, finish.

I would say an hour or so goes by before I even go ask about my finishing time.  4:26:24.  No idea what place, but pretty certain it's gotta be something around 10th.

Spend the rest of the afternoon, early evening and quite possibly late evening just hanging out, drinking beer, listening to live music, swapping stories... whatnot.  I eventually crash out on my air mattress that I tossed under a pavilion so I don't get taken out by the acorns that are crashing to the ground constantly.

I gotta say, the Lula Lakes Land Trust 5 Points 50 really surprised me.  I knew it would be punchy and not have a lot of long climbs or descents, but I had no idea how diverse the trails would be.  I expected it to be all buff and the first bunch of miles just reaffirmed my assumptions.  Then things went sideways, and there were rocks, and lumpy ridges that reminded me of the cool trails built in Florida in old quarries, and lumpy creek crossing and open power line climbs.  The kinds of changes in scenery that keep things interesting.  Not to mention, fall was totally popping all over the place out there.  I'm glad I finally convinced myself to make the drive, because the whole thing was worth it.  Except for all the self-inflicted pain stuff, this was a really great way to end the "season."

Oh, I checked the results yesterday when I got home.  7th place.  I don't know how that happened but I was certainly a bit bummed to miss out on 6th being that it's my favorite place to be if I can't get on the box.  That and once again, I shouldn't look at the results for age groupers.  I woulda been 3rd in the 30-49 age group (the biggest field at 34 riders). 

What was it that Wooderson said about high school girls and single speeders... I get older, they stay the same age?

So the question is, do I have to act my age to race my age? I still have a few pairs of cargo shorts, so...

Thursday, October 13

What do they mean by "5 Points 50" anyways?

Tomorrow's gonna be one of those days.  Up early, pack the car, drive to work, and wait until I can put the big buildings in my rear view mirror.  I can't get time off until 4:00PM, so I'm only making my way west as far as Cleveland, TN and then staying the night there.  It was the best plan I could come up with to get a somewhat decent night sleep but still be close enough to the race (an hour) that I don't have to be up too early.

The idea of driving alone until 10:30-11:00PM to have to get out of my car, set up camp, and wind down enough to fall asleep was more than I could wrap my brain around.

The Lula Lake Land Trust 5 Points 50.  A bucket list race that I'll finally have a check mark next to (hopefully) by Saturday afternoon.  The single speed field (23 entries) is the third biggest in the 50 mile race, only bested by the men 30-49 (37 entries, the other class I could enter) and the men 19-29 (24 entries).  I don't recognize a lot of the names in SS, but that don't mean anything because:

I have a terrible memory.

There's always the influx of geared interlopers into the mix.

I do know Eric Nicoletti, or Nico as most know him.  Fellow Faster Mustache teammate from Atlanta, maker of many podiums in the races that he frequents, and King of the Tour de Charlotte '14.

I'm pretty sure he's also beat my fastest time ever at ORAMM... oh, and also also is about ten to eleven times more talented than me when it comes to making a mountain bike cycle do what it can do in the woods.  That's not me throwing in the towel, just gonna throw shit at a wall and seeing what sticks until I get tired of throwing shit.

But all that is just podium talk and conjecture and hardly my motivation for making the journey over the border.  A new experience will be had, new trails will be ridden, and memories will be made.  It's been a long week, and I'm just looking forward to zoning out for four or five hours... and then sitting around drinking beer with friends and stuff.

Zoning out will be exactly what I'm doing on the bike cycle part of the day.  My stupid little bike computer that does nothing more than tell time decided to give up the ghost recently.  Once again, I will be just feeling my way around in terms of nutrition, hydration, pacing, and any idea how long I've been in the woods. (edit: it just started working again this morning, so now it's down to whether or not I want to spend three minutes putting it back on).

Timepiecelesssness is fine.  It's how I've done 90% of the races I've been in since '08 or '09.More throwing shit, as it were.

Pumped to be stoked to put on my last number plate of the year, unless... things.  Cross came, something might happen in Atlanta, also there's something else nearby the piques my interest.

But nothing that's gonna involve four or five hours of hammering.

Woot.  Time to get fat(ter).