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Tuesday, January 21

Winter Shart Tarck 2020... pre-umbles

A preamble to a shart tarck race?

Might be hard to know where I am if if you don't know where I was.

I signed up in the 50+ class the very first day that registration was open.  I was more than sure that I wanted more of what I got last year, me trying my hardest to hang with fellow "olds" on my single speed.  It went fairly well in 2019. 

Race 1: Fourth place by a couple seconds.

Go home, put on smaller tires and a bigger gear.

Race 2.  Second place

I'm on the right track.

Race 3. Fifth?

The day before the race, I let Todd convince me to go to the mountains to play (and tie an anchor to my bike)

Race 4. Fourth.

Had a cold... what seems like my annual cold at this point.

Race 5. Third.

No excuses.  That's where I ended.  Also, third overall in the series points.  I was pretty chuffed on the results.

On December 3rd, I registered for the "olds" again.  That gave me 39 long days to dwell on the decision.

Do I wanna be stressed out for five weeks about "performance?"

Do I wanna skip an opportunity to go to the mountains on a Saturday FOR FIVE WHOLE WEEKS?

Does the idea of "warming up,"  skittering around for forty minutes on skinny tires, getting pounded to shit with a rigid fork and high PSI, and bleeding out of my eyeballs trying to hang with the geared riders on the long flat garvels and pavement section?

No... no... and more nos the closer I got to race day number one.

Last year, every single Sunday started to feel like a "time to make the donuts"scenario. 


Since I'm old and years seem like days (very interesting short podcast), it feels like it was just yesterday I was trying to keep Mobley in sight, get on Deese's wheel, put a gap on Cardoza...

The closer Sunday got, the more it felt like it was gonna be race number six of a ten race series.

Unngghh...

So, on Thursday I reached out and changed classes to single speed, very much looking forward to the anonymity of a mid-pack finish in the idiot class.  Good enough?

No.

This past Saturday, I was helping out at the Winter Shart Tarck Race clinic for juniors (and some beginners).  I showed up early to get in a few laps and mebbe "enhance" a jump I'd rebuilt the week before.   Gawtdam, I hate riding on these tiny tires.  A 2.25 at 19.5 PSI feels like a rock after riding nothing smaller than a 2.6 since last shart tarck season.  Sure it's fast, but my dinged elbow is protesting, not to mention the thumb injury that I never seem to be fully recovered from that happened... when again? 

Fuck this shit.

Go home, mount the new 2.6/2.35 Forekaster combo that just showed up to the house.  Why not?  I'm kinda curious about how the 2.35 is gonna feel in the rear, and with some real'ish racing coming up so soon, what better time to start shaking things down?

I'm leaving the 32 X 16 gear on there that I used to chase down the geared guys last year, but not because I think it will come in handy.  It's because I had to take a link out of the chain to drop down from an 18, and I didn't really wanna mess with putting a link back in... where are my spare-spare quick links anyways?

I've definitely done what I can to ensure my status as a pack-foddering, fun-having, shart tarcker.  I'm gonna get what I need outta the experience, which will essentially be a Zwift interval workout... just outdoors... in the cold... and mebbe mud.  Since I got in on the registration when it was at its cheapest, even if I skip a race because it's raining some bearing-toasting, brake pad-destroying, chain-stretching amount, it won't really hurt the virtual wallet.

So, single speed in the name of fun and fitness and camaraderie and continued stupidity.

Thursday, January 16

Duck, duck... moose?

It was time to start getting ducks in duck appropriate rows for the 2020 "season." 

Tires are a duck.

I double-doubled down on the Forekasters.

Unless conditions are gonna be super dry for a less than technical race (like 6 Hours of Warrior Creek reg opens in nine days BTW), I'll run the Forekaster 2.6 up front.  New to me tho is the revelation of using the Forekaster in the rear, something I'd been doing on the Vassago Meatplow V.8 recently.  It's got great goobly gobs of traction and...


it comes in a tasty 2.35 size with only a 45 gram weight penalty over the 2.2, and a 100 gram weight savings under the 2.6.

So more volume and happiness and the same traction is all the buenos to me.  I'm still holding on to a Rekon 2.25 (rear use) for those dry, non-technical races... that I hardly do... because I like "technical"... technically speaking.

Shoes are also a duck.

My SIDI Cape shoes are on their last legs.  My oldest pair are my about-towners, what with the sole so worn that the shoe/cleat/pedal interface is whacked.  I can hear my feet bouncing all over the place from the lack of contact.  Yeth, these are the shoes I was wearing when I busted my ass/elbow on wet, freshly-painted concrete last week.  My lesser old pair are getting me around in the Pisgah now, especially since my dog ate my other option.  Dammit.

The closest thing SIDI now makes to the Cape is the Eagle 10 (I think).

So, why SIDI?

I occasionally dip my toe into other brands, but I always seem to come back to SIDI.  Somehow, while other companies seem to change the "fit" of their shoes when they update them (or completely change them), every single pair of size 43 SIDI shoes I've ever owned since 1993 fit completely the same.  My toes are cozy, the heel doesn't slide around when I hike-a-bike (which I do a lot), and they just flat out feel like slippers on my feet... albeit some stiff-ass slippers.

Yeth, the soles are hard and slippery, like a lot of other shoes that have plastic treads.  Aside from the SIDI SRS replaceable soles that had rubber bits, almost every pair of SIDI shoes I've owned since about 1996 have been like this.  They're terrible on wet marble floors at work, but as far as stream crossings and scrambling up the side of a mountain go, to use Watts's favorite descriptor of just about anything, they're "fine, just fine."

To be fair, SIDI does have some shoes that have rubber tread, but the soles aren't as stiff.  I can feel the difference, and I don't like it.  Also, they don't come in yellow.  So there's that.

I mentioned that I got my first pair of SIDI shoes back in 1993... back when The Pie and I didn't even have enough money to call ourselves broke because there was nothing to break.  I was fortunate enough to live in the hometown of mail order juggernaut Bike Nashbar back then, and when I found a pair of size 43 OG SIDI Dominators in the returns bin for $40... they were mine.  Since then, I've always had a warm place in my heart for SIDI.  I've strayed with so many shoes from Mavic, Shimano, Pearl, Specialized, Duegi... jeebus.  I can't remember them all.  I guess after riding mountain bikes since the late '80s and messengering since '96, I've gone through way more shoes than I can remember.

So yeth, another pair of SIDI and mebbe another 'nother pair to back them up, which means I won't have to think about this decision again for at least another five to six years.

"Poor people cannot afford cheap things."

Winter Shart Tarck racing starts this Sunday, and ironically none of those ducks mentioned previously matter.  I don't wanna wear my new shoes in the mud for forty minutes, and the course is NOT TECHNICAL enough to warrant anything other than my shart tarck/garvel meats.

My smooshed finger and swollen elbow are feeling much better, so I'll need to think of some other excuse for my lack of performance.

Monday, January 13

Rain sucks... but we need the rain... they say

With the precipitation saturation anticipation that saw to it that The Whole Enchilada would be canceled/postponed, I had no idea what I would wake up to Saturday morning.  Many shitty potential plans on the table, all pending some ill-informed decision based on predicted weather systems and trail closures and whatnot.

Wake up, my yard's wet, assume the worst...  but loads of trails open in Charlotte... somehow.

I beg Todd to decide where we need to be. 

"Sherman Branch?"

Odd.  I was just talking to Dr Mike the week before about the fact that I haven't ridden there in... months?  Years?

Good enough.

What followed was the muddiest local ride I'd been on... ever?



Thoroughly mud caked after 22 miles of rolling around in the woods and some occasional drizzle.

Come home, knock out chores, find out that I had a cameo in Dylan Johnson's video about alcohol and its affect on bike cycle race performance.

Probably my second best podium moment ever, so obvs an example of the upside of beer and bike cycling.

Stare at the radar and weather forecast for the evening.  I wanna head to The Spoke Easy to see Renelvis perform.  So many threats of thunderstorms coming our way.

Get there dry.  Keep watching the radar.  Set a timer to leave at 8:56 PM, hoping to dodge the incoming reds and yellows. 

Drinking my last beer, clock is ticking.... head to the bathroom to drain the main vein, as they say.

I pay no mind to the fact that the humidity has put a nice sheen on the freshly painted concrete floor.  Me and my SIDIs have no chance.  I bust my ass hard, spilling most of my beer and landing on my elbow.

Try and finish what's left of my beer, but I'm perplexed looking at my arm.  My elbow's wet.  There are no tears in my GORE Shakedry jacket (huzzah), so how am I so moist?

Pull off my jacket... and the inside of the sleeve is covered in blood. 

Dammit.

I give some folks a little time to clean me up proper like, and I leave late later than planned...

and get caught in a huge dumping thunderstorm ten minutes from my house.

Dammit.

It's like a sack of Jello there, sore wiggling Jello.

Next day, wake up... head to the Winter Shart Tarck work day.  We gotta build a giant bridge.

But before too long, we have more hands than jobs, so I mighta disappeared myself for a bit and rebuilt a tiny (and very pointless) step up option that had fallen victim to time and negligence.

And then I got roped into some drainage work that accidentally found me where I could help rebuild the notch line option that was mysteriously dismantled since the last time I looked at it.

I was left unattended once again, so I decided to smash my fingers moving a rock for no reason.

Dammit.

Once I had done enough damage across the board, I returned back to help finish the gigantic bridge over the problem drainage we've been dealing with for... fifteen years?

I don't think any twenty five feet of the shart tarck ever saw this much effort, time, or money.

One week until Winter Shart Tarck starts, and I've done a fair job handicapping myself with a busted finger and a swollen elbow.

Much excite.

Wednesday, January 8

Mebbe I title this later?

Of course, I post up Monday morning about my concerns regarding this weekend's Whole Enchilada race and the predicted turdball weather only to be informed that afternoon that I actually had nothing to worry about.

The race has been postponed.  Till March.  I'll admit, some of the wind came outta the sails with that news.

I'd been telling myself I'd at least be willing to Half Enchilada in the rain and mud, and now I'm back to having a very open (and very wet) La Vida Bachelor weekend.

Lumpy segue...

I recall thinking that I was going to sell my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt after the 2019 "season" came to a conclusion.

Then I rethought my thoughts.

I'm keeping it.  For when I "need" it.

Also, I started doing this:

All those end of year STRAVA posts on social media worked.  I've been guilt-shamed into joining the club... at least sorta.  My rides are still private.

I'd always been curious about how many hours I put in over the course of a week or a month or a whatever.  I could make rough guesstimates, but those would soon be forgotten, as I never recorded them anywhere... because what's the point of keeping track of shitty data?

January 1st through January 7th of 2020.  One week.  Ten hours and forty seven minutes in the saddle.

I covered 126.7 miles.  Pretty sure that number means nothing.  I don't know if I can even call it an "average week."  On New Years Day, I had time to grind some greenway (when I probably shoulda rode my mountain bike), so that bumped up the (junk) mileage.  Also, I rode to the Apple Store and over to Bike Source on Saturday, which isn't something I'd normally do either.  Then, there was no weekend trip to the mountains, so a 20-30 mile mountain ride was swapped for less than 14 local miles.  Tuesday's work day miles got that 9 mile bump from going to trivia night.

And... woah.  Winter Short Track "season" starts next week, so fewer mountain trips in the future and more commutes over to the venue and then forty something minutes of bleeding outta my eyeballs every Sunday for five weeks straight.

There is no real "normal" in the immediate future.

Compare all that to the numbers Matt put up the other day...

Not only is his data way more detailed, it seems like he's got more flexibility for structure.  On top of that, he's embraced his inner PTSS (Part Time Single Speeder) status, allowing him to have more (or less) logical... "workouts?"  Is that what they're called?  It doesn't help that I don't know if 4,600 miles is a lot or a little because I just don't know... yet.

Anyhoo, I've vowed to keep my computer on all day during the week as well as any bullshit riding I might do on the weekends... like this weekend when I'll probably be tearing up greenways in the rain and riding over to Spoke Easy to watch a Filipino Elvis impersonator.

So, prepare to be as bored with numbers in the future as I certainly will be.  I plan on sharing with the class from time to time.

Assuming... assuming so much.

Monday, January 6

Mud in the Forecast

Keeping the wheels moving forward...

No avoiding the fact that 2020 is indeed happening.  I tend to not put too much thought into "next year" until I'm in it.

But, here we are.

Lost in the future.

I woulda said that I'd put my illness far behind me, had I not enjoyed a frequently interrupted by coughing sleep last night.  What in the actual fuck?

I'd been eyeballing The Whole Enchilada race this Saturday to be my first thing to do in 2020.

But...

What in the also actual fuck?

Warm and rainy might sound like a dream for the Pisgah 111k (as opposed to cold and rainy), but The Whole Enchilada is 45-50 miles... in Charlotte.  Our local trails are primarily red clay.  If you've never had the pleasure of riding in wet clay, you're truly blessed.

Daily sending Dicky's Drop at Steve's yesterday, named thusly because it was my idea, and it almost pushed me to the point of passing out from fatigue trying to finish building it after a long day of moving dirt and rocks.

Anyways, four to five hours of moving my bike cycle around in NC clay sounds like a great way to end up working on my bike for a few hours the next day getting clay outta all the nooks, crannies, and moving parts.

Also exhausting and borderline not fun.

The current weather policy is...

"event will proceed rain or shine unless conditions are deemed unsafe by the Race Director"

Which is always such a point of contention here in Charlotte.  People will bitch that the USNWC allows events to happen on the trails when they're not in any condition to be raced on, yet they remain closed when they're wet any other time of the year... as if anyone should ever wanna ride around in wet red clay voluntarily.

I'd obviously rather head to the mountains or just hit the greenway than ride on some wet slop Charlotte trail... which is why we're blessed to have Steve's... I mean Rocky River Trail to the east and Poston Park to the West.  Both slightly out of town, both with decent terrain and features, and both just a bit further than I wanna drive to ride local.

But when they're the only options AND I'm super tired of grinding greenways?

Gimme, gimme, gimme.

I don't invest too much of my happiness into a five day forecast, but I have to admit that don't look too good.  Add on the fact that I'm living La Vida Bachelor all weekend and would love to have something bike-related (and definitely not home improvement) to fill my days?

Could be an adventure?

Dunno.

Monday, December 30

Am Lumberjack. Am Okay.

After ten nights of Cough Couch sleeps, I had to ride... some dirt.  I'd been on such a fine roll.  Weeks and weeks of getting to the mountains for long rides with good people.  Other than Thanksgiving weekend, I think I'd had six or seven in a row.  A superb way to get the legs ready if I am indeed going to do The Whole Enchilada on January 11th.

Wait, something more important than me is afoot.  Recently, HandUp Gloves released their "cycling vest."

Now, let me say this about that.

I've been wearing sleeveless flannel shirts for more than five years but probably less than ten, somewhat out of mother necessity.  When a flannel shirt of mine would give out at the elbows, I could no longer wear them at work.  I feel even more like a hobo (than usual) walking around with giant holes in my shirt sleeves.  So, to get a little more life out of them, I would cut the sleeves off and use them for cooler weather rides in the winter.

You can tell me that it doesn't make sense, but I do have to put some thought into what I wear in the winter time.  I never ride with a hydration pack, so I have very little room to store any clothes I might shed as things warm up.  Thus, arm warmers, tiny hats, vest, base layers, beanies, buffs, bandanas, knee warmers... all the options are heavily considered before heading out on the trail.  Sleeveless always means that a small opening lets a lot more air flow through the front of the shirt and across my core than something with sleeves.

A day like this past Saturday?  We started in the high 40s and ended up in the low 60s.

A five man repair on a flat tire, a twisted brake lever, and a loose headset.

The zipper on this thing is full-on genius.

I've never been fortunate enough to have sleeveless flannel with anything other than buttons, not even snaps.  Getting more or less ventilation usually meant taking off a glove and fiddling with tiny buttons.  No longer.  Zip down on the climb up Sycamore Cove and back up on the fly when the trail turnt down.

My only disappoint is the uninspired name, the Zip Up Vest - Red Flannel.  How is this not the Lumberdick, Lumberdicky, Dickerjack, Dumberjack, or something clever and slightly attributive to the tiny man that had be the inspiration for this item?

Dunno.

Anyways, I love it.  Either you get it or you don't.  You're not my problem.  I am.

Back to the ride...

I finally hit the drop on new Black Mountain that I always ride past not remembering that was the line I wanted to try.  I guess that's one of the benefits of hiking up from the bottom and being able to scope it out instead of hitting everything blind with a shitty memory.

Such a great day with friends in the woods.  Black, Avery, and Sycamore.  26 miles with 4,300 feet of climbing (and descending, woot).

Bill Nye hitting one of the controversial big boy gap jumps on Black Mountain.

Suck it, illness. 

Now to see if I can get all or at least most of my ducks in their rows over the next two weeks and get my ass going for The Whole Enchilada.

Monday, December 23

Back to looking back

Probably no better time than now for some navel gazing.  The last two weekends have been less than monumental, such that they can bee summed us thusly.

Two weeks ago, I spent my Saturday morning tromping around the Backyard Trails doing trail work.  Nobody brought flags or ribbon to mark the new corridor, so the trail needed to stay to the right of a chunk of an orange milk crate, go past the discarded tire, and then towards the torn and muddy real estate sign.

Sunday, my stoke was as low as they trails were moist.  I just rode some greenway miles knowing that things would be looking up the next weekend.

Or not.

I got sick early last week, the kinda sick that puts me on the couch with coughing fits.  Sweet.  No riding outside of commuting and at work in the hopes that I can put this behind me as quickly as possible.  I spent Saturday and Sunday piddling about the house, watching shite movies, and finishing some heavily procrastinated on bike maintenance.

New, first time ever 3/32 drive train on the tarck behk (48 X 17), rebuilt rear hub... and in the process, stripped some lock ring threads off the hub.  I swear I didn't do it on purpose to help push me into that new Squid SO EZ I was talking about last week.  Dammit.

So, that navel gazing...

It's essentially the end of the year, so mebbe I'm supposed to be reflecting on my 2019 before I get all worked up about 2020.

Since this is sorta a bike racing blerhg, let's just say this about that:

This was my freshman year of racing in the fifty plus class, and I did a shit job committing to it.  Over the course of the year, I raced in the single speed class seven times, open men three times, and forty plus once.  I only took advantage of my freshman fifty year at the Winter Sort Track Series, the Trans-Sylvania Epic, and the Breck Epic (as part of an old man duo team).  I told myself I was gonna look for more races that had a fifty plus category... and I totally didn't, and I even registered as SS once instead of the racing in the "olds," ending up not on a podium I coulda been on... because... burrito?

I did manage to squeak out one "W" all season long, of course in the single speed class and not the "olds."

I'll attach some small amount of pride to winning the Pisgah 55.5k, mostly because Steve Bennett really made me earn it, but also because I was able to get fifth place in the overall.  I tried at something, and I liked it.

I was a tryer several times during this past year, in fact.  For some odd reason, I still find it somewhat exhilarating to push my body hard enough that I feel like I'm gonna bleed outta my eyes.  Results or not, getting my heart rate up in the red zone for long periods of time is still quite the addiction.

Speaking of heart rate, I don't think I can part ways with my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt.  I can't say I'm using it to even 25% or its potential.  I've never used it to navigate, and I hardly revisit the data I've acquired.  How I haven't lost my shit and sold it already is beyond me.

But here we are, and it's still here, and I don't hate it.

In the interest of living my blessed life, I plan on continuing on in 2020 in pretty much the same manner as I always have.  Furthermore, I appreciates the halps of those listed on my blerhg sidebar as Dick Support.  I'm not saying that I couldn't do all this without them, but they do make it easier to do what I do.  I am beholden to them and humbled to have their continued support.

Oh, and let's not forget about you, the reader person.  Blogs have been ded for years now, and yet there are still those few holdouts who come here for whatever reason.  If you'd stop reading, I'd stop writing... at least I'd like to think I'd quit.  Despite how familiar quitting may be to me, I never always know exactly when to do it.  The blerhg is the internet equivalent of that rat tail that I sported until the early '90s.

And so ends the 14th year of teamdicky dot blog dot com dot sex dot org.

See you later, 2019.  Nice knowing you.

Sorta.