Wednesday, November 25


I'm a mess, and I can't wait for four days off in a row to either get better or push myself closer to the mortal cliff.

Monday night, I was up past my geriatric bed time for the Faster Mustache: Charlotte Chapter Team Photo Shoot by none other than our own picture making sponsor, Weldon Weaver.  Lots of goofing off, posing, standing, crouching... no beer.

Feel free to peruse all you want.

The results were incred.

Noelle got us access to a green screen for the night...

Which really makes me want a thing like this something awful.

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving and all that.  If you're nearby (my proximity), feel free to join me at the Backyard Trails tomorrow at 10:00AM or at the Run Bike Slam on Blackout Friday.

Beer, bikes, and avoidance of foodstuffs.

Tuesday, November 24

Grab your Number 2

I attempted to go for a run on Saturday after wheelie practice.  It did not work out.

Apparently, I went a little too fast and a little too hard last weekend.  I've been somewhat self-hobbled.  I feel like someone loaded my feet and ankles with concrete and beat them with a sack of pennies.  Just getting down the stairs every morning is a practice in patience.  The last week at work was pretty busy, so I was on my feet most of the time.

So yeah, I rode over to the track, ran ten feet.  Stopped.  Stretched.  Ran ten feet.  Stopped.  Went home.

This is the second time (or third or fourth... I've lost track) that I've gotten back into running with too much enthusiasm and put myself out of commission.  Strangely though, I remember when I was gearing up for Run Club over Thanksgiving weekend at the beach years ago, it was my knees that took up the revolt.

I'm not going to run until my feet/ankles are 100%. I can't let this impact my entire Cyclo Ross season.

Sunday, it was time to do some more assploring for the 2016 Tour duh Charlotte.  I grabbed my geared bike since I'm still sleeping-on-the-couch sick... and the whole "concrete ankles" thing.   Not always the best idea to have dangly bits on your rig when you might find yourself literally riding through the woods with nary a trail around but plenty of limbs and sticks.   Whatever.

If things work out the way we think it will, this might be a very long Tour duh Charlotte.  Also, a most excellent Tour duh Charlotte.  I think there is zero chance that anyone outside the team has actually ridden their bikes everywhere that we're going.  Zero.  You will see something new.  If you come.  Which you will.

Pencil your calendars for March 19th and keep the pen handy.

Now to plan my schlong Thanksgiving weekend.  I've got $40 in beer, a ride planned for Thursday morning at 10:00AM on the Backyard Trails, the Run Bike Slam on Friday, and then... what?

Monday, November 23

Killing. Time.

Let's ignore the fact that I missed a lot of good times at the events I mentioned on Friday so I could lay low and maybe get better.

First off, let me tell you that Backcountry Research is on Instagram now.
I'm not sure why all this matters, but as all things come under the heel of social media to adapt to our limited attention spans, this should mean... something.  Go, follow, hashtag, @ them... do all those things that are relevant in our time. 

People do love them some pretty pictures.

First thing I did on Saturday (after a decent amount of lollygagging around the house) was go to Bike Source to talk about bikes and stuff.  The Evil Following may not work out for me in a fiscal sense, but being that it's little more than a diversion from reality (AKA FaceBook), how much money can I throw at what will essentially be a ball of yarn I can play with in the corner of the room.  I need something that fits into my wallet, thus I've been staring at this:

The Specialized Camber Crabon Comp (or something like that).  The right travel, the place to stick my burritos, parts that I can swap with better parts I already have (no Boost)... something that I can get.  In January.  Which is like a million Dicky years away.

Which gives me plenty of time to think it through and bail on the whole idea.

After that fail-bail, I went out for some wheelie practice, after watching Lesson 7, day... ?  I dunno.

The Float Zone.

Over to my practice area I went, after reviewing Ryan's knowledge spew.

My area was a bit squishy with sky water, but what are you gonna do?

I've been manipulating his plan into my plan, which is less than a plan and more of a haphazard, blindfolded dart throwing process.  These are the things I've learned that either Ryan didn't cover, hasn't gotten to yet, or I just plain missed because... that's what I do.

Wear underwear.  Nothing worse than an ill-timed get-off that almost scrapes my man bits off from where they belong.  I'm not sure how much of a fifteen minute practice session should be wasted holding onto one's mangled danglies breathing through pursed lips.  I'm guessing none.

The whole "modulate speed with the rear brake" thing doesn't work so well for me.  I find it hard to touch the rear brake in anything other than a panicked manner.  I've found that just not pedaling for a brief moment works better for me if I feel things going backwards.

My practice area slope is pretty gradual.  I was trying to throw down wheelies up and down the hill.  It was exhausting and frustrating.   I now only try on the slightly uphill portion, and after a run (shitty or not), I turn around and soft pedal back to my starting point, trying to focus on what went right or wrong on the last few attempts.

Talk to myself.  Out loud. Focus, balance, "the zone," whatever.  Talk about what I plan on doing on the next run up the hill.  I've decided I already look like an insane person riding up and down the same grassy patch for thirty minutes at a time, so big deal if someone sees me talking to myself.  Just sorta completes the persona.

I think I managed to pull off six pedal strokes a few times, and I even felt like I was in the "zone" more than once.  I'm at least 5%  better than I was before, which wasn't that great at all by any means.

But it's something.

Friday, November 20

Pile of Chet

It's been one of those weeks.

I started feeling ill on Monday.  Then I had to ride home with a 25lb+ desktop on my back after work.  That felt slightly unpleasant.  On Tuesday, I was actually busy at work.  Lots of riding and breathing and hacking.

Thus begins the banishment to the couch for my sleeps until I stop coughing myself awake all night long.

It's a good thing I didn't allow myself to get too stoked on this weekend's events, the Cranksgiving Weekend or the Ride and Seek MTB Adventure Race at the USNWC.  I'm doing my best to put as little effort into life outside of work and commuting until I get better.   This means that I haven't ran since Sunday... which probably would have happened anyways.  I pushed myself too hard (again), and now my ankles are stiff and angry.  This whole "running" thing.  I'm off to a terrible start this time around.  I expected as much tho.

So, I'm a mixed bag of fruit going into the weekend.  I've been really wanting to get to Pisgah something awful.  I'm not sure it's the smartest decision to make.  The new Spencer Branch is calling my name.  I'm also anxious to see a certain neighborhood/greenway/parking lot/clearing connection that is pretty key to a smooth Tour duh Charlotte this coming March.

And then there's wheelie practice, running, being a normal human... all things on my list.  With the upcoming four day weekend, you'd think I'd be able to calm down and just wait on a few items on my to-do list.

But that's not me.  All the things and now is better.  And I got this to do the day after Thanksgiving, which may or may not ruin three of those four days:

Something something dumb involving beer and chainless/brakeless bikes and probably handcuffs.  Run Bike Slam.  Presented by Faster Mustache.  Because... that's what we do, I guess.

And by "probably," I mean "definitely."

Tuesday, November 17

Moon River

This morning, I'm going to my "annual" wellness exam, "annual" meaning every six years?  Has it been that long?

Yeth, yeth it has.  So not so much annual and slightly closer to bi-decade.

The last time I went to one of these, I had to deal with my slightly anemic blood values, start eating differently, and take supplements.  A few months of eating meat later, I was on the right track... aside from my elevated cholesterol.

I was never one to have an easy time finding balance.

I've basically been guilt tripped into going by The Pie.  I've been meaning to get back to it, but... excuses.

It will be entirely interesting to see where my blood values are at when they come in the mail.  Otherwise, I feel like a healthy person, aside from all the aches and pains that I assume are just part of being a 46 year old, semi-active human.  Those don't matter anyways, because if you want to discuss anything that's actually wrong with you, well that's another appointment, not your wellness exam, because... America.

So looking forward to getting jabbed in the arm and a little bit of this:

Monday, November 16

Let my Cameron go.

Friday night was The Spoke Easy Anniversary Party.  I would say it was a success, as I remember most of it.  I only have this to show for the whole night though.

I did finally figure out that not only is it cheaper to drink 24oz PBRs as opposed to crafty IPAs all night, you can actually find your way home unassisted later when you ghost out of the party.

I didn't wake up feeling too sparky the next day.  I ignored the FaceMessage from Bill Nye about going for a ride at 11:00.  I'm sure we probably loosely agreed to it the night before, but I have a clause in my contract that states that anything I say after my third beer is not legally binding in any way.

I couldn't ignore his second message though.  Pretty sure he saw that I was "virtually active."  It was already too late to drive to Bill Nye's place, get in his car and be in the parking lot at Lake Norman to meet Wirun and Ann on time.  It was not too late to scramble and be socially acceptable late tho.

For review, at 9:48AM, I was this:

By 10:07, I was all this:

And somehow, as late as we were, we managed to be the first ones there.

It was fate.  As the others arrived and bike-cycling garmentry was donned, Brian and Madonna rolled into the parking lot.  And then we were six.

A pleasant ride of 31 miles at a pace that didn't require sweating, but probably fast enough to burn off my breakfast of Cheezits, Gatorade, banana, fudge brownie and chocolate doughnut (I was forced to adapt).

Sunday started with adult time.  Leaf mulching, gutter cleansing... the glamorous things in life.  Then all the bikes got a little bit of love with the addressing of dirty parts, soiled/ignored drive trains, and such things.  Once finished, I headed out for wheelie practice.  Not so much adult time at all.

This was my first real practice since last year.  Yeah, I'm starting with Day 6/Lesson 11... and I might have had a couple beers while I was washing my bikes impacting my wheelitude. 


No flat pedals yet, but trail running shoes and SPD are just gonna be it for now.  My chosen practice area appears to be free of gopher holes and has quite an appropriate incline for starting out.  I practiced for close to a half hour, and I see why Ryan recommends only fifteen minutes a day.   So easy to get a little frustrated after riding around like a moron in a lumpy field of grass trying to learn something a six year old can do.

I actually experienced a few moments where I was in the "sweet spot," and got in five pedal strokes more than once.   More importantly, I never ended up on my ass or smashed my nuts.

So, success.  No idea when I'll get out again... because... excuses.

Friday, November 13

Limited Race Horses

Before I start whining about my wet people problems, apparently this is a thing now:

Hard to believe that my life goal of being on a sticker has been achieved twice now.  I make no money on the sale of these things, but I heard it will help a young man get his associate's degree in Biscuit Cheffery at the Bojangles Academy of Culinary Science.  Get yours here.

I replaced the clapped out, I don't know how many years old Dura Ace square taper bottom bracket on my tarck bike the other night.

I went with the cheaper chicken, the Shimano BB UN55, with its boring black spindle and simplistic installation requirements.  Despite the fact that "work" paid for it, I couldn't justify the extra cost of the White Industries unit.

This gives me sads on so many levels.  Firstly, the fact that I'll be tossing the old bottom bracket in a box so that my children will have yet another thing to discard after I'm deceased.  Secondly, I loved looking down and seeing the polished spindle (despite the fact that it was usually covered in grime 90% of the time).  Thirdly, I'll no longer have any use for this archaic tool:

The tarck bike is still rife with ancient technology.  Threaded headset, cup and cone hubs (Campy and Suntour Superbe Pro... because no matchy-matchy), a quill stem without a removable face plate... one man's trash is another man's bike parts.

I was glad I stopped in the beer aisle before I started the removal/install.  Of course I had a hard time remembering which way the fixed cup needed to be turned to get it out of the shell.  Of course the tool had seen better days and was difficult to keep on the flats.

Of course I remembered how I thought cartridge bottom brackets were an incredible step forward back in... the early '90s.  Why would anyone want to fiddle with three different tools trying to get the perfect preload on the bearings when you could just toss this stupid cartridge in and never think about it again?

And of course, there were still more issues.   Although the Dura Ace cup threaded nicely in and out of the frame, the threads on the lower end unit must not be as refined.  I came upon some unexpected resistance about four rotations in... every time.  I kept taking it out, putting it in, eyeballing it to make sure it wasn't cross threaded, digging into boxes and finding old cups that I could thread in to be sure everything was kosher (it was) before just using a little torque.

Oh, yeah.  Torque.

I hadn't had to lean on this tool since ISIS was a thing (a bottom bracket thing, not a terrorist thing or a bottom bracket terrorist thing).

So I forgot that I'd somewhat ham-fisted it a few too many times, fudging up the engagement enough that it required a fair amount of attention and patience when being used, two commodities I was short on at this point.

Did I mention how bad the hub on the rear wheel felt when I pulled it out of the frame... something I was trying to not even think about during this other repair because I was going to run out of time and have to address that later?


I got to it later.

Those itty bitty flecks of something?  Those are pieces of my balls.  They're in terrible shape.  I gotta get new ones... I guess that happens.

I feel bad for my tarck bike.  It sees way more use than any other bike I own.  It's outside nine hours a day, five days a week, forty something weeks a year.  For the past nine years.

And I work on it twenty times less than any of the others.  I take it for granted, and when it comes time to do some work, it's because it really needs it.  The only moving part that hasn't required much attention is the Cane Creek headset.  Every time I've torn into it, I regret that I bothered breaking out the cumbersome headset wrenches just to see all that clean grease still in there.  I've decided I'm going to never touch it again, unless the bike implodes of the headset melts due to the increasing surface temperatures on our planet.

Only a few days in, and I already miss that ticking noise that the bottom bracket has been emitting for almost nine years on every pedal stroke... except on rainy days.  Made me almost happy when it rained, but not really.

Oh yeah, did I mention that I found a PC-1 chain on the floor that was only 50% worn and only one link longer than the one that was on the bike?


Remove the extra link, swap the 18 tooth summer cog out for the easier-on-the-knees 19 tooth winter cog, go to install the chain...

and it's too short by one link.

Which explains where that chain came from, I guess.