Friday, December 14

Baby Bear

Thanks to the benevolence of others in positions or power, I think I have an ass sack that fills the hole in my line up.

I was afraid to make a purchase without touching it (I've been burned), but it certainly looked right from what I could gather.  I've got so many other ass sack options, but I wanted an absolute minimalist pack.  I don't plan on riding an inferior bike with only one water bottle cage any time soon, so no need for a bottle strapped to my back.  I wanna carry my phone, Tülbag with tools, those small chunks of fire starter and flame makers (if riding in the mountains), something to chaw on if I need to satiate my human need for foodage, mebbe my Sawyer water filter, keys.... not much else.  I don't want it flopping about or jostling my contents.  I do have some SWAT bibs that do the job nicely, but I've only got the one pair.  Not as useful on extended trips without risking crotch rot. 

You can google all the reviews for the Hot Laps Stealth on your own (or read the review in print in Dirt Rag) to see just how slender it is on your lower back.  Obviously, it's not for everyone due to its minimal capacity, but if you're a ding dong like me, its much buenos.

I can't wait to play with my new toy.  This probably has more to do with the fact that I haven't ridden a mountain bike in two weeks and haven't ridden in the mountains proper in almost a month.

Mebbe when I get around to shoving things into it and riding (as opposed to strapping it on and jumping around in the kitchen), I'll get some interior shots and whatnot.  I was kinda surprised by the lack of that information and details on the webs.  I mean, wasted all the useful space with shit I strap to my bike...

and ignored the three pockets accessible on the outside of the pack (one that holds my water filter nicely and another that will take my camera AND allow fast access).

Pointless post... except for the fellow minimalists out there.

Wednesday, December 12

Pardon my omission

I can't believe I totally left out the one thing that is set in stone for 2019 (other than PMBAR, natch) from Monday's blerhg post about next year's plans.

I mean, shit. Within a week of finding out that this was not just a rumor, I was booking a condo at the top of the mountain.  I have to admit that I've become a wee bit jaded when it comes to spectating at pro mountain bike races, but this should be a whole 'nother animal.  It's the last UCI World Cup race of 2019, and it's only six hours from my house.  On top of all that, things have changed since the last time I spectated a pro event.  Short track (XCO) races for XC starting grid position and more spectator friendly XC loops make for much better viewing opportunities.  From what I gather watching Red Bull TV, the downhill racing action is at higher level than what I woulda saw back in... 2011?   Beech Mountain Nats?

It's been long enough that the jaded feels might not even see an appearance next September.

Not only have I booked a place to stay, found folks to go with me, and purchased shoes that make more sense than flip flops for standing on the side of a WV mountain, I'm even taking that Monday off so we can go all out watching Sunday's racing action in a properly lubricated state and not have to make the sad drive home in the wee hours that night.

I did realize at some point while I was considering all the things that I'd be doing next year, I'd have an almost five hour drive home from the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (if I do it) on a Monday and then be heading back out for Snowshoe two days later.  Young people won't understand the dilemma, but we seniors don't travel so well back-to-back.  Mebbe it's just me.  Mebbe it's my tendency to overdo it.  Dunno.

Prolly more than mebbe tho.

I've said before that I'm not all that into hero worship, but I do so relish the idea of seeing the absolute best mountain bikers on the planet doing what they do.  The women's racing in 2018 was just insane, and... well, Nino is Nino and mebbe someone beat his dick off and mebbe not.

If you live on the East Coast and have any sorta passion for this sorta thing, I don't understand why you're not planning on being there as well.

I am vibrate with excite.


Monday, December 10

Sick prepping to get sick whuh

Well, shit.

I guess if I had to pick a weekend to throw away to dogs of illness, that was an ideal one.  A mostly sleepless night of coughing on the couch had me a Minute Clinic Saturday morning.  I have to admit, being ill has never been more convenient.  Half the reason I would've never seen a doctor in the past with a (more than) nagging cough was the inconvenience and expense of doing it the normal way.  $75 out the door with Prednisone and Azithromycin in my hands.  Rhonchi, rales, posterior oropharyngeal erythema, etc... so I probably wasn't turning any corners on without pharma.  That knowledge still didn't make it any easier as I looked out my window and saw people riding by my house on their way to the Backyard Trails trying to get some dirt time in before mother nature dumped weather turds on our heads Saturday morning.


Saturday night around 3:00AM, I spent close to a straight hour coughing before The Pie RN came out, made me hop in a hot shower, prepped a better sleeping arrangement for me, and over-the-counter-drugged me to the maximum safe limits.

Professional medical attention WAS the better option that day.  I don't doubt it.

So, no riding and plenty of time sitting round the house watching tube gave me the opportunity to do this:

Not so much of a plan, especially being that there's plenty of conflicting dates and a certain chance of (another) pre-June burnout if I do too much.

The short version:

The Whole Enchilada.

A local 40-50 mile race here in Charlotte that I've never done.  Upsides being the short drive, reasonable entry fee up to two days before the event (so I can watch the weather), and a good early "season" wake up call.  Downsides being that with only open or 40+ categories, I can't take advantage of my new 50+ calling or default to single speed... oh, and I don't think I'll be in the greatest shape at all that early in the year.

The Winter Short Track Series.

Five Sundays in a row of an intense 45+ minutes of racing.  A really good kick in the dick (or vaginan, what have you) for getting in shape, and I get to race 50+... but at the same time that the single speeders are on the course, so still sorta like playing with my little friends.  Downsides being that committing to the whole series means passing up on potenital trips to the mountains that might come along AND skipping the party in the woods known as The Icycle.

The Pisgah Stage Race?

People have asked me why I haven't done it before... and my excuse is that I get to ride Pisgah all the time.  I usually (used to) do stage races to ride somewhere new and follow arrows, but it's been six or seven Trans-Sylvania Epics and seven Breck Epics with one BC Bike Race thrown in there over the last so many years, so mebbe my excuse is losing its validity.  There's a 50+ class AND there would be pretty much zero surprises on the courses/routes.  And I'm not getting younger... so mebbe.


Doing it. No doubts about that. After not giving a fuck about performance and going on a sad hug of a bike ride with Watts in '18, I owe him an effort that's equal to a "try." That I will do.

Pisgah 111k.

This is a wait and see event. A little too close time-wise to the next two options (less than 5-6 days later).

Trans-Sylvania Epic. (new site coming soon)

On a hiatus in '18 and back in '19 with a new promoter. There has not been one TSE that I haven't been to (although I broke my ass bone and DNF'ed one year), so it's hard to say no to this event.  I love the riding up there for sure, but it means I'd have to pass on...

The Giro d'Ville.

No link, no bells, no whistles... mebbe fireworks.  Underground stage racing at its best.  Compared to the TSE, shorter, harder, lacking in some of the creature comforts (tents in the mud?), a little more logistically challenging, but it packs a punch with a big fist.  I had such a great time there... and I do these kinda races expecting no results, so no pressure.  Just joy... and pain.  Sunshine... and rain.  Give it to me, Rob Base.

Pisgah Enduro™.

Not my forte at all, but way too much fun in the woods kinda close to home.  That said, four days after either the TSE or Giro, it can be a bit much for an old man depending on how poorly I treat my body parts.

Wilson's Revenge.

Once again, not my forte (garvel?), but it's a hard fifty miles of what Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever calls garvel.  If I did the Pisgah 111 (and PMBAR, natch), it "ONLY" puts me one Monster Cross and Double Dare away from finishing the King of Pisgah Series again.  It's also a month and a half after TSE and/or il Giro, so there's a big gap of NO in there that's gotta get filled with something good.

But it do conflict with this:

Dirt Rag Dirt Fest WV.

I've gone the last two years, and it's so much fun that regardless of whether I'm chasing 50+ glory next year or not, it's gonna be hard to miss this event. I love riding the Big Bear trail network, the "scene" befits me, and it's a sinfully delightful mid-"season" break.

Then there's...

Breck Epic.

I did it the first five years in a row and then started going every other year, so I'm due in '19.  I could "race" 50+, slum the SS class once more, or possibly do the 100+ duo category.  The latter has been discussed but with the seriousness of three clowns doing double dutch while wearing their professional attire.  There's also something very special going down this year that I was asked to be a party to, so I gotta think this is a front burner event.

The Shenandoah Mountain 100.

Eleven starts, ten finishes, a 2nd and a 3rd place in SS, and a 2nd in fixed gear (it was a thing we did back then, kids)... so many good memories.  Enough that the past two years I just went up just to be present to witness it.  I've been telling myself I'd return as a 50+ racer for years now, so do I follow through with all the trash talk or just stand around, drink beer and watch others... again?

I'm looking at and thinking of other options, but when you look at the right hand column of the list at the top of blerhg post, you can see how many PTO days I eat up with each event. I'll want to head up to Ohio to see my grandson next year, and Bill Nye and I had been talking about a Wydaho trip as well.

And here I am hoping to just get through another week of work without cough-barfing on my coworkers and mebbe getting out on my mountain bike again next weekend and also getting back on track (as if I was ever there) in my preparations for 2019.

Wish in one hand, shit in the other, write it all down on a steno pad for posterity.

Wednesday, December 5

Heady Topic

So, when Cane Creek announced that they'd be doing a limited edition pink run of the 110 headset (and Slamset), I didn't feel like I had much choice.

I've never wanted too much matchy-matchy on my behk, but when they throw that "limited edish" thing in, I know that means "do it now or never," so I do now.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got it.  I noticed the bearing seals were red, which means they're the new Hellbender bearings.  I wasn't expecting that.

Don't know what the hell Hellbender is?

From Pink Bike:

"The Hellbender bearing is a completely stainless-steel ball bearing. Instead of having the casing, or the webbing, for the balls to sit inside, it's completely contacting all the way around. There's an extra six ball bearings tucked up in there (over what you'd find in Cane Creek's typical 41-millimeter cartridge)."

Stoke was high enough when I got it that I braved the cold and headed out to the work stand I stupidly mounted out on the side porch to install it.

Have press, will travel (no more than fifty feet tho).

Headsets and bottom brackets.  So important yet so utilitarian in purpose that they kinda just blend into the background... usually.

Pink parts and titanium look so perfect together.  Prove me that I'm wrong.

That said, I couldn't part with my Pisgah Monster Cross stem cap for the stock pink one.

That was the last "hard thing" I did in 2018.  Not hundie hard, but definitely a stretch considering the state I allowed my fitness to linger in for most of last year.  Also... garvel.  Not my forte, but still something to do until there's something else better to do.

I decided that I'm gonna try to sit down with a scratch pad and a calendar over the Christmas holiday and figure out a loose idea regarding what to do next year.  As opposed to this year, where I did whatever whenever, I have lots that I want to do, but only X amount of days off work to do them.  I'll need to think ahead... I guess.

And mebbe start actually getting ready to do it all as well.

Monday, December 3

Growed Up

My propensity to make decisions that are not in my best interest has gone down, even if just slightly.  Towards the end of last week, I was planning on heading to the mountains on Sunday to take advantage of the warm (for December) temperatures.  That was all before I got sick tho...

The Pie was up in Ohio visiting the grand baby person a couple weeks ago.   Grand  baby person happened to be sick.  The Pie, also being The Pie RN, she took right to that baby's needs and got all up in that sick.

And then brought it home.

I thought I was in the clear for awhile, but it snuck up on me like the due date on a library book I'm almost done with but can't quite find the time to read.  It was pretty mild at first, enough so that I went ahead and left work early on Friday to sneak in a little solo/so-slow ride before joining in on an organized group night ride.

Follow that experience up with one of those nights of sleep where I'm waking up way too often with a small tear running down my cheek, looking at the clock to see how much time has passed since I did this already over and over...

"Wow, fifteen minutes."

I figured I'd make a decision on my mountain plans Saturday afternoon.  I woke up feeling rough, but within an hour or so, I was out raking leaves, fetching groceries, organizing cupboards...

I don't do very well at sitting still.

I figured I could go for that Sunday ride, but...

The Pie went ahead and kept up her running early on in her illness, and she's got it pretty deep in her lungs right now (and an ear infection, woot).  One could assume that me doing the same will bring about the same.

I decided to not ride in the mountains on Sunday.

A way younger and less wiser version of me once went ahead with a weekend of camping and mountain biking in Pisgah while slightly ill many years ago.  It ended with a night of sleeping in the dirt next to the campfire hacking up a lung followed by weeks of sleeping on the couch waking up coughing and in tears.

So mebbe I'm getting smarter?

The side benefit of all this unexpected free time being that I had mounted a new TV to the living room wall that necessitated moving some pictures that were hung on said wall so I was down under the house in my crawl space/murder room looking for paint and Spackle and found a coax connector that allowed me to add another length of coax to the antenna up in my attic and I had found a drip pan in the back of a cupboard whilst organizing said cupboard that had been shoved way in the back since we moved in a year ago and I was able to do this which makes all TV stations (wanted and also unwanted... 12 shopping channels, I'm looking at you) come in crystal clear.

I realize that often times, I could just go out and purchase things to fix my household problems.  That said, it's much more excite to pretend I'm on an old sailing packet ship crossing the Atlantic ocean, and the only things I can use to fix my vessel must come from the vessel itself.  It adds to the adventure.

Yeth, I know.  Sweet bike blerhg.

I swear I thought I'd be able to get back into the bike related topics, especially after being able to finally put my casual shoe issue behind me.

I'd apologize, but you're getting 100% of the content you paid for.

Monday, November 26


Many of you are aware of my aversion to pants, long pants to be more specific.  I think about my pants problem (The Problem with Pants) often enough that I actually wrote a post about the traumatic experience of buying a pair of pants back when I did just that.

I still own those pants, and I've worn them to at least one school function, a wedding... and mebbe enough times that I can no longer count the occasions on one hand's worth of fingers.

Anyways, those pants will celebrate their fourth birthday in February '19.

So, I've had another issue with a certain type of clothing.  Shoes.  I don't like them.   As someone who has put a pair of SPD shoes on my haggard feet almost every morning for over two decades and worn them around like normal shoes for nine to ten hours a day, I hate the concept of shoes outside of the workplace.  I was a sandle-man from just about the winter of '95, and from there, I slid into the lazy world of flip-flops.  Easy on, easy off... especially "easy off" when walking backwards down the driveway hauling the garbage and recycling to the curb.

I know they're not super-practical, and in an effort to wear something more appropriate for colder times, I bought a couple different pairs of slip-on, very casual shoes over the past half decade or so.  Too tight for socks and not terribly well insulated.  They were better but still stupid.

I have bought running shoes in that time period, but like most exerciser dabblers, I didn't wanna waste them on non-running type perambulations.  I still have one pair (for mowing and other toe-endangering yard work) and another saved for when I forget that I hate running.  They're both the closest thing I have to normal people footwear.

I've been considering the purchase of said "normal people footwear" a lot lately, even more so ever since I put flat pedals on my beer fetcher bike.

This idea was super-reinforced when Bill Nye and I were out in Bend for SSWC '18.  A night out and about in flip flops in the high 30s was no buenos.  My resolve to end this problem was hardened.

Back in Charlotte, decide to look at Vans.  Too many friends swear by them for comfort and general pedestrian tasks.  Closest place to my house to buy them?  The mall. 

I made it into the mall, found the Vans store, was immediately overwhelmed with the options and the general feeling of being in a mall... left as quickly as possible.


A month goes by.

Another night out with friends and low temps and I'm determined to stop the madness.

I found myself in a stand alone shoe store with my daughter.  I figured she's be better at this kinda stuff.  Tried on a pair of Vans, and I felt like a (almost) fifty year old grandpa in a pair of Vans.  Because my only experience on a skateboard was in rural Ohio on a board I made out of a 3/4" slab of maple that I could only ride if I walked a half mile to the church to the only paved lot nearby, it felt way to poseur'ish to appropriate the skate culture at this juncture.

I settled on these:

I can't remember if we're not supposed to buy Nike because of Micheal Vick or we're supposed to buy them because of Colin Kaepernick... or we're supposed to buy them and burn them because of Colin Kaepernick.  Although I like yellow riding shoes, I tend to like to blend into the furniture when being a normal human.

I'd say I'm getting closer to that status everyday.

Monday, November 19

Well... ummm...

The trip to Greensboro did not go as planned, but it went just about as expected.

Nick, Bill Nye and I meet up at The Spoke Easy after work Friday to come up with an itinerary for the weekend.  I drive the Honda Fit of Rage, scoop Bill Nye, then Nick at 7:30AM, head to Uwharrie, ride behks, up to Greensboro, hang out at Revolution Cycles with Watts...

Not much of a plan, but that's that.

Nick leaves to go to a show.  Bill Nye and I assume that Nick will stay out super late, so we sorta decide to do the same.

I end up over-sleeping in a chair at Bill Nye's house and the pre-Wattsing fun ride is canceled.  Get up after 9:00AM, go home, shower... find out that my neighbor backed into my car last night... meh.

Leave, scoop my little friends, get to Greensboro, eat Thai food... hang out at the shop until we cross the 3:00PM threshold to have our first beers.

Watts has a free bin at the shop.  Apparently, some things are not even worth $0.

Stay at the shop until closing and then a whole lot longer.  Watts's Insta-story kinda puts the rest of the evening in some sorta perspective.

Most of that is true (I do own one pair of pants).  It was a very long night, and mebbe we didn't get to bed until 3:30AM, and also the whole thing is a better campfire story.

I'm glad we only do this kinda thing once a year or so.