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Thursday, July 18

I work in an oven

With the daily heat index hovering in the low 100s this week, I find myself daydreaming about the Breck Epic constantly.  I'm looking forward to waking up uncomfortably early, although with the time difference, it takes a few days for it to really feel "early."  I can't wait to layer up to ride over to the aid bag drop off point, breathing in the crisp, dry air... well, gasping actually.  Head back to the condo, put on my racing panties, and line up at the start shivering and looking for some sunshine to stand in to keep warm'ish.

Oh, and then ride in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Yeth, I've fallen into the habit of taking every other year of the Breck Epic off in order to make room on the calendar for a different trip somewhere else.  I already figured I'd be back in 2019, but when I got this in the mail sooooo many months ago, I felt like it was my duty to return.

I had one of the best times in 2017 after I was able to convince Jeremy to join me on my beer per aid station bike cruise around Breckenridge.

I mean, I think the only day I was actually "racing" at the Breck Epic EVER woulda been the very first year, and for all about ten minutes. That's how long it took me to figure out that I was gonna be a failure at altitude. Being a tiny person, I had hoped that my climbing ability (and semi-decent descending skills) woulda made me competitive, but starting right up outta Carter Park and up the side of the mountain?

Ten minutes is an exaggeration.  I would say my racing was over in the time it took me to make it to the first banked turn.  So more like thirty seconds.

I don't tend to get "excite" about many events weeks out like I do this race.  The trails, the people, the weather (even when it hails and hypothermia comes into play mebbe), the total escape from anything close to reality...

I might even forget about the possibly expanding crack in my living room floor for a few days.

I seriously doubt that my 50+ Duo Male partner will be too into the idea of a beer per aid station, but I also don't think Chris would slap one outta my hands if I went that direction.  I have to admit that being there are so few teams in the 50+ class, we have a slight chance of being on the podium.  There's an even mix of lowlanders and mountain folk, so who knows?

Podiums, schmodiums.

I just wanna ride bikes and make frands.

Mebbe see some nice people get married on top of a mountain...

Monday, July 15

Back but... ooof.

I quit races.  I don't generally quit bike rides.

I reached out to Todd for a weekend mountain ride... hoping he wouldn't think about the fact that I'm damaged goods.  A liability.  A ride boner killer.

He accepted anyhoo. 

So we went up to Wilson Creek and unexpectedly happened to drive into the finish of a garvel running race.  Who does that?  Anyways, over to Derek's place... someone I've met without a bike helmet before but never rode with ever.  Small world.

All I wanted was a good ride that didn't involve wrecking or making my injury worse.

Shit in one hand.  Wish in the other.

I'm a fun gui...

Trbl.

Anyways, Yancey Ridge (proper) followed by Wilson Ridge (semi) and a sweaty day in the woods... coincidentally in the same area where the Wilson's Revenge garvel bike race was  supposed to happen on this very day.

Todd and Derek trying to finish a chain saw job on a gigantic tree, me supplying pessimism and warnings of storms in the distance.

We saw two older e-bike riders coming down from the ridge coming at us, and it was an interesting conversation with Todd about e-bikes and woods and being old. 

Personally, I get it... a little... but I hope I die before I need this in my life.

Lower Yancey was a most humbling experience.  In the trenches of the lower portions, I ended up falling left and right, left hurting much more obvs.  Possible regrets, but I'm in the mountains on a bike, so whatever.

Anyhoo, lower Yancey handed me mine own ass royally.  Jeebus.  What a first ride back on the mountain bike and all.  I did lose it a couple times, and yeth, I fell on my left side.  Doh.  That hurt.

But we still extended the ride out further, despite the sound of thunder in the distance and lack of water in our bottles... Derek is smart enough to call it a day and head back to his casa.  Up and over to Wilson Ridge and then down.  Finish in time to get back to Derek's for a beer/creek soak.  Mebbe my favorite part about mountain riding... the after riding part.

Not entirely, but mebbe a little.

After the ride... I'm still trying to shed a little weight before Breck Epic.  Mebbe I shorted myself a few calories. 

Why would it matter?

Wake up Sunday with the dogs.  Keep them quiet for the family's sake.  Figured I'd get out for an easy 1-1.5 hours later in the day.  See a text from Jerry...

I can't remember the last time I've ridden with Jerry.  Seriously.  So many missed connections...

But then again, his "aggressive" pace on Charlotte trails hands me my ass.  His "medium" pace keeps me on my toes.  He rides so much locally and knows all the lines that I end up losing a second on this corner, three seconds on that descent... it all adds up to me busting my ass to keep up... when I'm in shape... when I'm not afraid to take risks.

So although I ate minimally after the ride on Saturday and had a dismal breakfast experience Sunday morning not expecting much performance outta my body parts, I agreed to join in.

Jeebus.

I about died. 

We were gonna do fourteen miles hard, six easy.  The fourteen killed me.  Thanks to having a heart rate displayed where I can see it... I was like, "this is hard."

I only made it a couple miles into the second "easy" loop before I realized that I was toast.  Not enough calories in, too much effort out.  I bailed.  I felt bad, emotionally and physically.  Had it been some kinda race, I woulda endured or something.  Mebbe.  Instead, I quit, went to my mom's place, took care of her needs, headed home, and ate food stuffs. 

That was a hard weekend. 

Four weeks to go before Breck Epic.  You know, that race where you have to keep riding for six days and stuff.

Friday, July 12

You'll be swell...

Progress Report.

Sunday: Minimal everything.  Two dog walks, a movie and lunch with the daughter, bike maintenance, keeping the couch from floating up to the ceiling.  No riding of bikes because three days of greenway grinding in insane temps was enough.  If my body didn't need the break, my brain part certainly did.

Monday: Try to do my morning exercises.  Lower myself to the floor, try to sit up, can't.  Don't know why I thought I'd be able to, considering I had a hard time just getting outta bed.  Flip over, try to push up.  Can't.  Meh.  Curls?  Can do.  Probably the most pointless of all the things I do, but I do it anyways.  Also, first day back on the tarck bike for work.  It's mostly painless, unless I forget to be careful when dismounting.

Tuesday: Getting outta bed isn't all that bad.  The bruising on my left side is fading nicely.  I'm no longer looking like a technicolor leopard.  I feel good enough at work that I consider the Tuesday Night Backyard Ride.  Go home, ride around in front of the house, loft the front wheel a bit here and there, realize that all it might take is one stupid move or fall to re-injure myself, head to trivia night at the Common Market instead.  Drink three beers, win trivia night, also win two free future beers.  I'd say I made the right call.

Trivia Wieners 

Wednesday: I think I signed up for the Fonta Flora Barnburner 50k.  I mean, I signed up for it... just mebbe on this very day.  It's pretty far out (October), and I wish I had more to do than just Breck Epic between now and mid-October, but what are you gonna do?  Ended the day really, really, really thinking about heading to the mountains this weekend to test my side parts.  One month to get fit (again) for Breck, so the next few weekends are gonna matter.

Thursday: More of the same.  Feeling better.  Actually looking forward to sneezing at this point.  Mebbe a little bummed that I opted outta Dirt Rag Dirt Fest WV... but only mebbe.  I'm sure sleeping in a cot for multiple nights and over-doing EVERYTHING that I might do at a Fest wouldn't speed up a full recovery, so perhaps I chose wisely.

Things are looking up.  My FOMO on everything is waning, as is my desire to do something stupid like buy a garvel bike or a van to fill my emptiness.  I'm even in the early stages of planning a Bentonville trip this fall.

Wednesday, July 10

King of Torkistan

I should be slightly ashamed at the minimal amount of bike maintenance I actually did over the four day weekend, what with all the time I had on my hands.  I've been meaning to adjust the saddle tilt on the Vassago Meatplow V.8 for weeks now, but the idea of getting it down from the top spot on my wall rack and then getting it back up there?

I already know how that motion makes my side feel, so... no.

But I did get something(s) accomplished.

I swapped out the bearings in my front Industry Nine/NOX wheel.  That set had been hanging on hooks since I got my Hydras months ago.  I decided to mount up some narrow treads for greenway grinding that I don't care about so much to save my main meats for the Breck Epic.  I didn't even know the bearings were shot until I had that vague "something's wiggling" feeling dragging the bike back into the house on Friday.

I've mentioned before that sometimes I get things I really can use from Topeak that make my life better.  Other times, they send me something like a case to put my iPhone on my bars... which I don't know what to do with.  Rarely, I actually request something I really need, like the multitude of different wall racks required to hang bikes all over my tiny household.  I am in deep gratitude on that one.

Way back before my coronation as a Topeak ambassador, I bought a D-Torq Wrench.  Covering a range of 4 N•m - 80 N•m, it would keep me from ruining a stem or having a crank arm fall off or snapping a carbon seat rail.  I thought that would be good enough.  How much lower or higher would I really need to go?

A bit lower.  That's how much.

So, I recently ended up requesting something to cover my updated needs.  I had been just faking the torque on my Thomson seat post clamp, bringing it up to 4 N•m and then backing off a hair to 3'ish(?) N•m.

Horseshoes, hand grenades, seat post clamps... same same.

Doing some routine maintenance in my bottom bracket region, I found myself tightening the tiny 2.5mm Allen bolt on the Cane Creek Preloader to whatever torque I could muster with such a spindly loose wrench...

Which also happens to be just enough torque to strip the threads clean off the bolt.  Fortunately, it was the bolt that gave up the ghost and not the aluminum collar.  One shameful email later to the Dick Handler at Cane Creek, and I had a new bolt in hand (and a spare in case I muck things up again).

Something I would like to avoid, lest more shameful emails in my future.

I perused the Topeak site looking to up my torquing game and came upon the new Nano Torqbar X.

With a range from 2 N•m - 6 N•m, it was looking like a good option, tho I thought it would work differently than it does when I first got it outta the box.  I was expecting that I'd need to set the torque and then go until it clicks, kinda like the preset bits in the Ratchet Rocket™ Lite NTX.  Nope.  You just start wrenching and watch the torque value increase until you get what you need.

Since I needed 1.4 N•m on the tiny bolt, obvs I just shot for closer to 2 than 0.

I know that's not ideal, but whatever.  I'm calling it a win.  I was able to dial the Thomson seat post clamp in exactly, which is nice.

Fox Transfer droopers feel about over-tightened clamps like I feel about working in a well-lit room.  Hate it.

Obviously, there's some overlap in these two tools.

I like the Ratchet Rocket™ Lite NTX because that ratchet is bueno, but the preset torque bits have a pretty quiet click indicating that proper torque has been reached.  I gotta tell the dogs to stop breathing in my face and turn down the Pearl Jam to hear the subtle noise.  I do prefer seeing the torque increase slowly knowing that I just didn't hear a 'click' and went too far.

Fortunately, I can combine the tools thusly:

The best of both worlds, and had I a better nose for what I needed to begin with, I coulda just started with this:

The Nano Torqbox X, AKA "the most compact adjustable torque socket" out there.  All one needs is a 5mm Allen to drive it, so it would work with a multi-tool, 3-way, loose Allen key, or a ratchet with a 5mm bit.

Duh.

Whatever.

I guess my point it that if you don't wanna ruin bike parts but wanna wrench your own business, investing a decent (even minimal) torque tool is a bueno idea.  If I'm gonna destroy a bike part, I'd prefer it happen outside with my ass in the saddle (or flying off of it) as opposed to being a result of mine own ham-fisting.

Monday, July 8

Man (not) in a Box

How was your long weekend?

Really?

Wow.  Sounds great.

Me?

Racing the storm to Birdsong Brewing with Bill Nye.

I rode as much greenway, bike path, bike lane, sidewalk, neighborhood road, parking lot cut-through, city park, and shit roads as tolerable.  In the miserable heat.  On a stupid single speed mountain bike.

Because I could.  No other reason... aside from having nothing else to do and not much else I'd be capable of doing.  Forty five miles, forty miles, and forty seven miles.  With Bill Nye, then without, then with.  With late ride beers, with no beers, and then again with beers.  I have to say, having digitally displayed numbers out in front of me did a great job in shaming me into more mileage than I'd have done without such information being readily available.

I did wonder if I mebbe had a coach, would that person say I was on the right track?  A proper set of things to do whilst waiting for an injury to heal?  Higher cadence, low speed, decent amount of saddle time, average heart rate in the 120-130 range with occasional bursts because hills and single speeds and gotta get there somehow...

Mentally, it was much better than nothing.  Jeebus it was hot tho.  Direct sun and average speeds hovering around twelve miles an hour... just sucked the life outta me.

 Old man stop at QT for ibuprofen.  Your guess as to which old man needed to relieve some pain.

As "interesting" as it all was, I'm really hoping to be back on trails this coming weekend.  That might not be realistic, but I've already had five sneezes without eye watering pain in the last two days, so I feel optimistic... as I very well should.  Riding with someone who's had months off the bike post-surgery (and facing a few more) made it difficult to feel sorry for myself and not just enjoy getting outta my domesticated living box.

Wednesday, July 3

Holding Pattern

Just a quick update before things go dark here for a short bit.

Family things came up in Ohio, so The Pie is headed that way and not southwards to Florida. The daughter and the dogs will be staying home in Charlotte, so I now have responsibilities.  There will be no driving up to that race we can't talk about to lend a halping hand.  There will also be no spur of the moment trip to Galax, VA with Bill Nye to ride the New River Rail Trail and convalesce. 

The Fredding potential was high.

For me, it's probably best that I stay close to home anyways.  I'm still rolling outta bed in a very awkward manner.  My side feels better after I've been up for awhile, and at certain points during the day, I forget that I'm even injured.

Until I do something stupid...

Like trying to lift my beer fetcher up and put it up on its wall mount in the back of the kitchen.

Oh, hello. 

And to think that there were moments yesterday where I thought mebbe I'd be up for a little mountain biking on Sunday.

Perhaps this forced recovery will be a good thing?  I expect much local greenway crushing, dog walking, and as much staying inside and enjoying the air conditioning as possible.  Much excite about all the potential blerhg content.

My new focus is going to be getting better in time for the Dirt Rag Dirt Fest WV.

Two weeks out, three weeks out from the injury*.  Not sure if it will happen or not, but the need to focus on something positive right now is good for my brain part.

* LATE EDIT: I don't calendar very well.  Dirt Fest is next week, two weeks exactly from the day of my injury.

Monday, July 1

Getting around

You know me, a veritable fountain of positivity.  Instead of lingering in the shit hole of a mid-summer, mountain biking prohibitive injury, why wouldn't I instead seek out the light?

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Life is like a box of chocolates...

Everything happens for a reason.

And all the other happy horse shit that gets stuffed into our brains in an attempt to comfort us when things aren't working out.

So here goes...

* I almost started running again.  I woulda had to stop so soon after starting, which woulda added to my frustration.

* I can sleep in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays because I can't do my small barrage of morning calisthenics.

* I won't have to maintain my mountain bikes for a few weeks.

* I'll get 1.25 days of PTO back when I don't bother traveling up to Virginia to do that race I can't talk about this week.

* I won't have to coordinate any weekend rides for awhile.

* I was wondering if I could find a mid-to-late July race that would utilize all the fitness gained in the coming week.  Now, I don't have to bother.

So much upside, who could possibly see anything detrimental here?

Well...

I'm as heavy as I normally am... in December.  With a decrease in activity being forced on me (I can't breathe deeply or move quickly), I'm going to have to pump the brakes on all forms of consumption.  Breck Epic is almost a month out, and ribs/intercostal spacing injuries are a 3-7 week road to recovery, so I don't wanna dig a hole too deep to crawl out of (and I was already digging it before I got hurt).

I am able to soft pedal around.  I went greenway riding with Bill Nye (who's on the long term mend) and Dr Mike (probably a good idea for us to have a doctor with us) on Saturday, and I put even more miles in on Sunday.  If I can't go to that bike race I can't talk about to be a halping hand, I'll probably soft pedal A WHOLE LOT over the four day weekend.  I did ask The Pie what she was getting into on her trip to Florida, but it sounds like my inability to move about in a recreative manner would create quite the wet blanket on their trip.  I don't wanna ruin anyone's happy fun times.

This is unfamiliar territory for sure.  I can't remember having an injury that kept me from riding mountain bikes in the summer time since "Ohio me" broke my collar bone all the way back in '93 or '94.  At least I'm able to function well enough to go to work and fake it, so... you know... always look on the bright side of life.