Thursday, March 26

My Junk is Strong

This is a junk pile:

This is a junkyard:

This is a junk mile:

Selene says there's no such thing as a "junk mile."  I beg to differ.

I wrote a lot more but then deleted it.  I know my miles are junk, but they're my junk.  I don't like my junk.  I don't hate my junk.  I just collect it and do whatever I can with it.

And look what you can make outta junk:

I rest my case.

Pre-registration for the Tour duh Charlotte ends tonight.

If you wait until the day of to register, you're throwing away $10.  If you have that kinda money to waste, I suggest you register online today and give me your spare money on Saturday when you see me.  I will buy beer with your money and then we can share that beer.


Tuesday, March 24

Back Log: Chapter 18

Why not stay with the theme, eh?

So, continual bitching about my back brings continual advice.  Gerry "The Pflug" Pflug suggests reading a book, not so much for the medical relief brought about by the act of reading, but for the information within.

Dough seconds the notion.  Says the book did him a lot of good.  I check the local library website... not one copy in the entire collection.  I give up.

Dough, knowing that I can be a cheap bastard, offers to mail his to me.  I accept.  It arrives on Friday.

I open it while cooking dinner.  The first thing I read?

"Myth 1: Acute back pain in short-term pain... Many studies show that far from being short-term, over 50% of patients suffer from recurring attacks or have persistent or chronic pain following their initial period of disablement."

Well that sounds shitty.  I don't like the sound of "persistent or chronic."  Let's flip some more.

"Myth 6: You should take it easy and avoid vigorous activity.  This advice may be necessary for one or two days after the onset of acute pain, but otherwise it is best to regain your mobility as soon as pain permits."

That's better.  Something to justify what I've already been doing... ignore the pain and go ride a bike.

So anyways, there's a lot of advice and "exercises" in this tiny little book.  Skip the advice.  I want an active approach.  On Sunday, I read and try to absorb the "exercises."  There's a lot of info.  Do Exercise 1 for three minutes ten times a day during the first three weeks.... something like that.   Too many rules.  I see pictures and a few numbers... grab my "yoga" mat and do all of them.  I do them even better than the book wants me to.  If it says do it for two to three minutes, I shoot for four.

Take the book to work on Monday.  Decide to read it cover to cover.  I see that the "exercises" had a lot more rules than I absorbed in my cursory glances and half-assed applications.

I wasn't supposed to hold certain "poses" at all.  They were supposed to be motions.  I wasn't even supposed to do certain "exercises" at all.  Doh.

Then this explained all that:

"... athletes are highly motivated to participate in their treatment and sometimes carry to excess the advice given to them in an attempt to speed recovery."

I hardly consider myself an "athlete," but I kinda fit this description.  It's just that the "exercises" have so many rules and timelines.  It would be much easier if they set this up with a handy flowchart for dummies like me that can't absorb that much information.  I read a fair amount and have decent comprehension, but if a fork tuning manual read anything like this, I would never ride anything but rigid all the time.

On the advice side of things, I took from it two things:

Stop sitting like a pile of shit.

Stop doing anything hunched over... which is pretty much my M.O. for doing anything in the bike room, yard work... I'm surprised I don't cut vegetables bent over with the cutting board on the floor.  I need to think things through before I start any task now.  Meh.

There's a ton of good info in this book.  I did some of the (correct) things yesterday, and I ended up sleeping all through the night (aside from when I woke myself up with a strange snore burst).  I'm quite hopeful, but trying to find someway to put this into my unstructured life.  The only thing I do everyday with consistency is eat two organic toaster pastries (I'm a health nut) and drink a French press of coffee.

For the most part, the book really targets low back pain.  I've noticed over the last couple of months that when I helicopter my left arm, my shoulder blade runs back and forth over a lump, enough so to make a noise.  I don't remember that being there before I injured my ribs back in January, so who the hell knows what that's about?  I do know that my shoulders/neck hurt when I spend to much time in the Lazy American Hunchback position, so I'm doing my best to sit and stand in the best Prairie Dog position I can maintain whenever I feel myself slouching.

So if you see me looking like I'm watching out for predators, don't worry.  It's just my new thing to do now.  Nothing's coming to eat us.

Monday, March 23

Supah Pahrs

So Dahn Pahrs and company were coming down from Pittsburgh.  Last year he brought many.  I assumed it would be the same this time around as it was last year. 

Worried that I would have the same language difficulties I had before (I don't speak Pittsburgh), I called The Other White Rich D (he's lived there) and asked him to come along for the ride and help translate.  On the drive up, he gave me some pointers.

yinz = y'uns

ahnno-dat = I know that

choobinuptoo? = what have you been up to?

mallanar = miles an hour

yer-in-yer-aht = you're in, and then you're out

Yuengling = something like beer that they drink but it's not really like beer at all

So to my surprise, when Dahn rolled into "The Mounds" (which are a landmark long since gone) off 181, I only saw him with Birdman and Mayor McCheese in tow.

And somehow, as never happens, a 10:00AM ride actually starts its way up the climb on 181 at 10:00AM.

Dahn lets me know we climbed 2,000 feet before the first descent.  The Mayor gets all mayoral before hitting Raspberry.

As always, Raspberry provides the standard shock to the system.  Winter had not been kind to the trail.  Alternative lines were everywhere to avoid the trenches.  Someone had built water bars across the trail that would have halted the progress of hoards of invading Mongolians.

Near the bottom, I threaten to take photos at the tiny hero drop.

The Other White Rich D rolls it like a tiny hero.

Dahn takes his shot without looking at it...

and admits that he had to, because he knew I'd post up pictures of him riding around it if he didn't.

Back up and over to Greentown.  The legendary Ditch Diggers of Greentown have committed their biannual act of trail sabotage, putting in trenches before every boosty water bar.  I apologize to Dahn that he's never seen it the way it should be (after the efforts of their hard, misguided work have weathered back down to nothing).

At the bottom, Dahn decides to be the only one to try to keep his feet dry at the mandatory creek crossing and discovers that without the aid of the guardrail bridge (washed away) or a bucket brigade style bike portage, crossing is difficult.

Out of Greentown, Dahn and Birdman crush my soul going up towards Raider's Camp.

Raider's Camp does not disappoint, and I get to see Birdman almost take flight.

Birdman is a nearly flightless Birdman.

Raspberry almost done.  The Other White Rich D, also almost done.

Roll out of Lower Raspberry, The Other White Rich D making the difficult switchback.  Me failing.

Past the semi-natural spring, past the Wilson's Creek Trading Post, onto the next climb up to Sinkhole... when I finally figure out that both of my bottles are dry.  Doh. 

Continue over to Sinkhole.  Stop at the top, which is only actually near the top, but fifteen minutes from the last top.  Stop and stretch my Old Man Back.

photo cred: Bradley Schmalzer
Final pain-in-the-ass climb and and then rally down.   Look down into the "sinkhole," spend the requisite amount of time talking about who's jumped it, what it would take, has anyone fallen in... and then continue on down.

Climb back up to the cars.  My stomach touching my spine.  My resolve to just enjoy the earned weight loss melts as I consider my proximity to La Salsas.  Consider ordering fish tacos and water, dumping the tortillas to the side to save calories.

End up with a Dos Equis, too many tortilla chips, and the "how can they make burritos this big for only $8.00?" chicken burrito.  The Other White Rich D orders the vegetarian burrito that's the size of a piece of firewood and looks like it just ate four other burritos for breakfast.  Dahn swims around in two margaritas and has to call for a lifeguard to pull him out of the second. 

And like that, I say goodbye to my friends in the parking lot as they head back to the land of ice and snow.

How's abaht yinz come back next year and we'll ride like at again?

Friday, March 20

They Speak English in What?

My last night in the hammock was Tuesday.  One solid week of sleeping in a novelty-sized cloth scrotum, me the lone testicle.  My back (upper and lower) feels better.  Still not 100%, but far from the Marcellus Wallace state that I've been lingering in for the past few months.

I've also done my best to limit the time I spend on the computer, at home and at work.  I've got terrible form... which is funny, I guess.   I need to get fit to a desk more than I need a bike fit.  In order to stay away from hopping on one of three non-ergonomically set up computers at work in my down time, I've taken up reading... again.  I credit that and some seriously busy spurts of actual messenger work, nicely timed with the incredible weather we've been having.

If only Pre-economic Collapse me could know that someday I'd be excited about getting an 1850 East 3rd back to back with a 1230 West Morehead (piled on top of five other runs)... and with a tight deadline.   That shit used to piss me off, but now I'm all like, "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"  Granted, it was 72° and bluebird skies.

Probably going to the mountains tomorrow, mostly because I promised some yinzers that I'd show them around Wilson's Creek again.

Dahn Pahrs (former tennis pro, current drag queen) and his entourage are coming down once more to slay the Pisgah.  I consider them my little friends, and I can't miss the opportunity to see them, if only to remind myself that they're just okay and that I don't need to see them all that often.

And lest I forget, we're one week away from the 2015 Tour duh Charlotte.

Registration is still cheaper than an XT cassette in 1995, but not by much.  I've hyped this "race" about as much as I can, but suffice it to say it's the one event I wish I could do more than just about any other but can't because I might end up having to serve pizza or something.  My Faster Mustache teammates showed pity on me and my neurosis by seeing to it that I didn't have to be in charge of a stage because it makes me bat-shit crazy.  I'm more of a helpy-helperson (people pleaser), a person who sees potential issues (a critical asshole), and a problem solver (solving the problems that I myself created). 

So yeah, mebbe they'll let me serve pizza or distribute beer or take down course tape or ring a cow bell.  Something that will keep me out of the way but still make me feel useful.


That is all.

Tuesday, March 17

Keeping the Wheels Turning

Sunday was "get as much shit done as fast as possible so I could get in the hammock outside for as long as possible" day.

Priorities.  The Fastest Bike in the World... otherwise known as The Most Neglected Tarck Bike in the World.

New tires... because this:

is nowhere near as fast as this:

The good and the bad thing about these tires, they last way too long.  Very few flats, but when I ride them all the way down... s-l-o-w as fuck.  Slow enough to feel it robbing fifty of my potential one hundred and eight watts.

Go to install a smaller cog, drop the chain off the ring, check the crank, feel that it's loose, adjust the bearings, find what I shoulda remembered from the last rebuild (the bottom bracket is indexed toast), clean the chain in the sink, measure the chain, find that it's worn out, throw away the freshly-cleaned chain, install a new one... and done.

The tarck bike is ready for early season "training."

Time to work on the funner bikes (after washing the mud off of them).

Next, fix the issues with the By:Stickel.  Let some air out of the fjork and adjust the brake levers.  Repeat the mistake I made when I set all that up wrong last time by just checking my work in the bike room and NOT outside IRL.  I'm sure it will be fine.  Or it won't.

Start getting the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 ready for the "season."  New tire time means new sealant time.

Finally a chance to try out the TruckerCo Cream sealant.  Obviously, I'll have no idea how well it works until it has to or how long it lasts until I pull the tires off the rims... which will be a month from now when the bike goes from 6 Hours of Warrior Creek mode to Pisgah Productions PMBAR and Pisgah 111/55.5K mode.  Ikon 2.35/2.2 off, Ardent 2.4/Ardent Race 2.2 on.

While I had it up on the stand, I took the time to swap the 18 tooth Endless cog for a 19 and install the Superlight Alloy organic brake pads from TruckerCo (middle). 

Excited about high performance.  Stoked on noise elimination.  My only concern is that they won't last as long as the Sintered Metallic.  If it looks like rain before any Pisgah race, I might have to swap.

Conjecture.  Hearsay.  Guesswork.  Success on race day.  Or not.

I also took the time to swap the Race Face Cinch chainring for a new one and to put the rigid frok back on because one ride was enough to tune the Brain™ fjork to my "liking."

A certain sense of peace when everything is right about this bike.

I wondered what normal people with normal bikes do... I mean, I spent three hours working on single speeds.  I can't imagine how much time keeping a geared bike going would take, but I imagine it would be more. 

Done.  Time to follow through with part two of the plan.

I spent the entire afternoon in the backyard hammock with The Pie, staring at the sky, drinking beer, listening to birds... doing what I think people call "relaxing."

It wasn't that bad.

Monday, March 16

Where we're going, who needs plans?

Going to the mountains on Saturday.  Bill Nye at the wheel.  He tells me that he hated Waterworld because it wasn't realistic.

"I couldn't keep a jet ski running for just one summer."

Get to the mountains.  We had a plan, but when you meet up with Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever, sometimes plans change.

Colin, April, Bill Nye, Eric and Shrimper.  Up 1206 on bikes not cars, because...

Road closed to cars due to winter and whatnot.

Up Laurel.

Up most of all the Laurel.

Notice that travel indicator on the right fjork leg.  Added a Token because I was blowing through the travel, add the same amount of air I ran in it before (I think)... turn a 150mm fjork into a 110mm fjork. 

Also notice Bill Nye peeing in the background.

Up even the bad Laurel... top of the Thousand Dollar Climb.

photo cred: Eric Wever
Push and push and get to the Lord of the Rings Trail... and push some more.

photo cred: Eric Wever
To the toppiest point.

This happens:

photo cred: Eric Wever
Then over to Big Creek (AKA The Death Descent circa 2001) and rally down BTQ style.

Banged a rotor hard enough on a rock to put a ding in it.  Sweet pulsing sensations the rest of the day.

photo cred: Eric Wever

Haven't been down Big Creek in probably a decade.  So much effort for such an excellent reward.  You almost forget all the hours it took to get to the top.

Not really.

On the way home, talk about how people out west probably would never understand a twenty mile ride that took five hours.  Whatever.

Friday, March 13

Jesus built your ranch house

"Training" began in earnest yesterday.  In the loosest of sense.

Doubled my junk miles on the way to work, and by stopping at Bike Source for new tarck bike tires and the grocery store for beer, I pretty much doubled my homeward bound junk miles as well.

Allow me for a second to go on a Steve Tilford tangent.

The economy must be doing pretty well.  I pass through some really nice Charlotte neighborhoods on my extended route.  It's been quite a few years since I've seen so many old houses being torn down to make room for more McMansions.  That and expansions up and out on existing homes.  Good for them.  Jesus loves your big house and hopes you have a spare bedroom for him in case he comes to visit.

Sorry.  Steve woulda never dragged Jesus into the discussion.

Anyways... "training."

Not exactly as planned, but here it is.  I meant to up the gearing on the tarck bike by one tooth, but due to my extreme laziness, I decided to wait until my tires were here so I'd only have to take the rear wheel off once.  I'd also planned on resuming upper body work some time ago...

I know.

Yeah, I do "upper body work."  Something tantamount to Dancersice... which I think is called P90X now.  I've attempted to get it going again a few times, but then my back protests, and then I rethink my thoughts.

Other than bike riding, all "training" is off the table until I'm 100%, although I'll probably start up when I'm 90% because that's the best one can hope for at 46 years old.

At least I can ride.  There are two things right now that feel good, and being on my bike is one of them.  The other is taking a shower, but unfortunately, I can't stay in there all day.  Every time someone says "maybe your back would get better if you would take a break from riding" doesn't get that it's the one active thing I can do relatively pain free (and that I have to do it to earn a living).

"Relatively," because punchy efforts don't work out so well.  But sustained steady efforts?  Bueno.  Even better than sitting here typing... which is also a problem.

Blah, blah, blah.

When did I stop writing a bike blog and start a back pain journal?


I'm gonna ride a bike this weekend whenever and wherever the rain lets me... because