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).

Wednesday, October 12


Spoiler alert. This post is about straps. Again. Whatever. Also Enduro™ so okay.

Richie Rude won the Enduro™ World Series.  Again.  Want to know what he and I have in common other than probably being called "Dick" in junior high?


Oh well.  Here we go regardless of your opinion.

Both he and I use a strap from Backcountry Research to secure our flat fixing equipment to our racing mountain bike cycles.

I guess you could point out that we're both sponsored by Maxxis (I imagine he gets more than just free coozies when he asks), and we're both rocking the Fox drooper.  So we have all that as well.

Getting back to my point, it wasn't too hard to find some images of world class Enduro™ race setups with janky-ass electrical tape holding tubes and whatnot to frames.

... or Gorilla tape for extra residual mess and PITA.

$10,00 bikes.  Racing all over the world against the best riders in exotic locales... utilizing the highest technology in redneck engineering.

Seriously.  It must stop.

Super fast, super secure, super handy, super duper.

BTW:  The Awesome Straps (a generic term for Backcountry Straps of all sorts) have gone through many iterations.  I've lost my shit s few times with some of the previous designs many years ago.  To be honest, BR has always been trying to improve their product to make sure they're making it the most secure and reliable way to carry tubes and whatnot... but sometimes it's been a two steps forward/three steps back deal.  They've not been afraid to entirely toss everything out and start over again.

Probably the most confusing version and the one that required the most attention when installing and occasional inspections, although every time I see Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team endurance race crusher Vicki Barclay still running it (and insist on getting her a newer one), she tells me she's never had an issue with it and sees no reason to change.


But where we are now:

Every thread, all the fabrics and textiles, the bits of hardware, each and every's all been considered and thought out to provide you with a secure way to mount your tube (and whatnot) that will last a very long time.

And you will have fast access to your flat repair stuff when you need it, and that's important because...

There's your top twenty finishers at the season finale of the EWS in Ligure, Italy  Separated by less than two minutes end to end.  Although a day of Enduro racing can last for hours, the timed sections, not so much.  Crucial seconds add up to painful minutes. 

So any time saved not unwinding three or four wraps of electrical tape is bueno.  I'm not saying the strap is a game changer, but when you're sweating the small details (and the seconds), yeth.

I know I'm a never-ending strap infomercial, but keep in mind, I was Backcountry Research's first customer EVER through the randomness that is the internet.  I've been a supporter ever since of this Made in the USA (Bozeman to be exact) company, and will continue to sing their praises whenever it's relevant to do so.

I've been running the current version for over a year now, and I haven't dropped a load yet... and honestly can't see how it would ever happen.  It's that secure.

Endurance.  Enduro™.  Same same.  Nobody likes losing their shit.

End commercial.  Cut to credits.

Tuesday, October 11

Shapely Sexy

I still had things to do that were unrelated to removing things from what used to be my bedroom and trying to remain ignorant to how much certain things will suck for some foreseeable time.

Cleats on two pairs of work shoes.  One pair, I caught in time. The other?

The first shoe was textbook. Slots were perfect. All it took was a screwdriver and a steady hand. Then I guess I got cocky. Boogered up both of the other screws and had to treat them like a bedroom that had been hit by a tree in a hurricane. Surgical destruction and removal.

Then it got even shittier.  The cleat mounting plates had seen better days.  Misshapen like a tortellini with four holes in it.  Best way I can think to describe it.  Found some new Shimano ones (where did those come from?) that just needed some time on the bench grinder to get them to fit.

Precision is for things people can see.  Function over form inside of my shoes.

I also got the rigid crabon frok back on the Vertigo Meatplow V.7, which was a good and now a bad thing.

I planned on getting to Uwharrie on Sunday, come hell or high water or falling trees.  Unfortunately, I had to stick around the house while the restoration guys picked up the pieces of my bedroom that were in the front yard.  I couldn't get out very early, nothing in town was open, and after awhile, the idea of driving all the way to Uwharrie through normal people day traffic sounded terrible.  Sucks.  I haven't been on a rigid frok since the beginning of August, and I really wanted to knock the dust of the skill set before the Lula Lakes Land Trust 5 Points 50.

The decision to finish off the "season" in a turgid manner mebbe wasn't so smart.  Too lazy/busy to swap back now.

Left to my own devices early in the afternoon, The Pie was headed out on a long run in preparation for a marathon in a couple weeks and Nia doing homework.

Brewery ride, anyone?  Grab the fanny pack and the Misfit Meatplow V.5 and head out the door around 12:55PM.

Across town to Blue Blaze to get there just in time for the organized ride to start, but I bought a beer and just stayed there... well actually, I found out they do the Bicycle Benefits thing up right and the first pour is free.

I headed out to the gravel lot and sat on the tiny rocks talking to Greg and Dread from The Spoke Easy until Kevin showed up and then more beer and a ride home past Legion Brewing for one "mystery" beer and then home to watch the debate reality show (can't wait for the season finale... hope it's not a cliffhanger).

So, keeping with the theme of not really doing any training since the Shenandoah Mountain 100, but somehow racing three times in a month for distances that would probably not feel so bad if I stayed in shape...

but I didn't.  Meh.

Monday, October 10

Who put this here?


I knew it was going to rain most of the day on Saturday.  I made plans to be productive. Wash the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 and install the rigid crabon frok back on the front part.  Replace some cleats on my two pairs of work shoes... that were gonna need some Dremel/drill work in order to remove some of the screws.  Some various things my mom wanted done at her place.  Get shit done.

I didn't get much done at all on that day.

New cleats on the shoes that didn't require power tools to take off the old ones.  Get out the Dremel for the other pair.

Then the house starts to shake and loud noises are everywhere.

The Pie yells, "TREE TREE TREE TREE!"

Pants shatten.

Run up stairs.  Nia and The Pie are okay in the living room.  Run up the other stairs.

Did I ever mention that I'm not a fan of split levels?  Seriously, how is this a good use of space?

Anyways, a large pine tree had come down and shaved off the corner of our bedroom.
Well then.

The Pie is in a bit of shock.  I'm looking at my shit getting rained on.  The adult purchase of a mattress that costs as much as my first three cars turned into the world's most expensive sponge.  All the things are covered in lumber, shingles, tar paper, fluffy bits of fiberglass insulation... getting drenched and making a shit dollar stew.

Start pulling stuff out and The Pie gets to calling the landlord.  Bed apart, things tossed in whatever rooms that don't have holes in them, library books taking on water... meh.  I used to work at the library (for three months).  They hate wet books.

The rest of the day is some sort of chaos.  The Pie posts something on FaceBook, and my phone starts blowing up (not literally, iPhone not Samsung ).  Offers of help, chainsaws, tarps, stuff.  Restoration guys show up pretty quick and get to tearing the bedroom apart. TV news guy shows up and videos my house with much interest.  I consider the opportunity to be viral sensation.  Ask The Pie if I should run out with my shirt off, beer in hand and babbling something.  Mebbe aliens.  Think better of it.  He asks for an interview but my neighbor and I are like, "ummmm, no."

I'm thinking I shoulda went with the alien thing tho.

Negotiations (somewhat heated) between the neighbor and the restoration crew regarding removal of the tree since the end of it is across his driveway and also on top of his house.

Drink beer.  Disassociate from the reality of it all.  I deserve it... and am also past the point of my responsibilities.

Eventually, there's a reluctant agreement between all parties.

Tree comes down hard, like a hippo jumping out of a lake.  Rips shit up and The Pie was feeding dogs in the bike room downstairs when it all happens.  More pants shatten.  Second time she's had to endure the whole "sky is falling thing" today.

The cleanup goes into the night.  I eat a slice of pizza with the restoration guys. Because they offered.

So, that's that.  We're all fine.  There will be some/plenty of inconvenience in the coming weeks, but honestly, we were super lucky.  Somewhere around 33.3% of the time, we're sleeping in that room. Coulda been way worse.  There were others in the neighborhood that were without power, and that really woulda made things that much worse if we were in that boat with them.  Oh yeah, other people in the country are under water and people in other countries are dead, so our problems are small in comparison.

This is what it looks like now:

To be honest, I'm torn between being sad that I wasn't a little more in shock on a human level as The Pie was and happy that I just said, "Everyone okay? Then let's do some shit until there's no more shit to do... and then drink beer and watch the professionals."

Also, it was weird that considering all the things going on with Hurricane Matthew, our house ended up on not only the local news but the Weather Channel to boot.  One of the local news people posted a photo of our house on FaceBook and it was shared 90+ times... with all  kinds of people adding their two cents and what not.

At least it kept me entertained for awhile once things got quiet.

BTW: Sizemore (the dog with no eyes) loves this fan:

It's in the main to hall to get rid of some moisture issues, and for some reason, it's his new friend.  They're coming back to take it away, and I'm afraid we're going to have to buy him a new one.  He's in love.

So... thanks for all the tots and prayers and to the person that had wine delivered to The Pie... as I ran out of beer and found out that in times like these, wine isn't that bad.