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Tuesday, May 22

Pisgah 111k (but much less than)

I can say my weekend went off as planned, as in to say, there was hardly a plan, so there you have it.

I was getting off at 2:00 PM from work, and at 1:35 PM, a long distance run came in.  Southeast side of town.  My car is parked on the Southwest side.  I'd managed to dodge the rain all day, but of course, it started coming down on the way to my stop.  By the time I got to my car, my shorts were soaked.

At least I'd established a theme.

Start getting texts from my little friends about an hour from Brevard.

"Where we gonna eat?"

"What time we gonna eat?"

"We're just going to The Hub."

So, I get to The Hub about a half beer later than everyone else, drink a Sierra Nevada, head over to the start/finish so I can set up my Fit of Rage sleep system (the half-ass no platform taco shaped air mattress version).  My little friends register, and for the first time, we hear about course reroutes.  No more multiple creek crossings due to swollen creeks.  No more up and over Black Mountain to finish due to recent trail work (soft tread).  Interesting...

Off to El Chapala for sub-par Mexican food and a couple novelty-sized Dos Equis.  I get dropped off back at my car, and go hang out with Yuri and Eric and Erinna and... whoever else is sitting under the EZ Up to stay outta the rain.  Fluidly emboldened, I considering racing.  I get my number plate and think about what I have in the car that would that would allow me to make great bike race... and all that I don't.  Things like nutrition, a kit, my riding glasses... little things.  I could half-ass it, but I'd be paying the price over eight to nine hours.

Oh, and I've never ridden the JaBronSSOn in the Pisgah.  No idea if 32X19 is buenos or how well the tensioner will hold up to an onslaught of mud and wet sand.

Staring at the roof on the Fit of Rage, I contemplate and then sleep.  I wake up multiple times to the sound of rain pummeling the car throughout the night.

Meh.

Wake up for the last time... I'm not racing.  No way.

I remind myself that this was a sound decision based on everything I'd already decided before I had my first beer the night before.

8:00 AM, watch the race start.  I have to kill three hours before I can head out towards lower Pilot Rock.  I witness the less glamorous side of race promotion, watching promoters and volunteers... do things that look boring and business-like.  John and Randy show up to scoop the aid station four stuff, and I quickly realize they can save me the heavy lifting of carrying a pack load of beer up and over a few mountains.  Toss my pack in the truck and now I'm committed to go chase down all my shit I sent away.

The sun comes out and I get dressed and leave the start.  Mebbe ten minutes into the climb up Clawhammer, it starts to pour.

Well, okay.  Still better than being out in it for nine hours.

Up, up, up and get to the top. Reward myself with the half empty bottle of liquid I was smart enough to carry with me... my full bottle also waiting for me up ahead.  Run into Chris Tries coming the other way.  He's decided to bail.  Too much "fun" two weeks ago chasing Thomas Turner around at PMBAR.

Out Gauging Station Rd, see boaters dragging kayaks down the road (whuh?), get to the aid, grab my pack, head up Pilot Rock.  It's not long before I hear the heckle pit (okay, three guys from Florida, Josh's dad and Steve the photographer).  Excuse myself to get naked, put on my America eagle Speedos... one of the guys from Florida not only accuses me of being a roadie but also an accountant.  Warming up his heckles, I guess.

Eventually, the riders start coming through.  Much joy is had.  Also beer.  I was happy to be there.

Guy rides through the Humvee section and initiates a high five 3/4 of the way through.  Very nice.

Mebbe the heckle video gets posted soon?

Hang out until Josh's dad is ready to leave and accept the offer of a ride back.  I've had enough beer and shivering to skip the long ride back to the finish.

Hang out the rest of the night until all the cows come home and happily crawl back into my car at 10:30 PM for one more night of moist sleep before heading home and back to reality.

Friday, May 18

Go you.

Rain.  Meh.

All the trails will be closed in Charlotte this weekend.  Most of my little friends are either racing the Pisgah 111K or Endurbling tomorrow, so even if I wanted to ride (in the rain) in Pisgah, we wouldn't.

The idea of tooling around in massive amounts of precipitation (or attempting to dodge storms) in the Queen City is paralyzing.  I just don't wanna do it.  So, I head to Pisgah alone, #1 Super Fan.

The car is packed.  One JaBronSSon, 18 pack PBR, two cans SpaghettiOs (one franks, one meatball... variety is the spice of life), one bag Peanut M&M's, one bag beef jerky, one box Pop Tarts, mucho re-hydration supplies, etc.

Lots of rain gear.  Mebbe a cowbell.

I figure it if isn't raining at 8:00AM, I'll ride up to Maxwell Cove early and yell at people until that gets boring.  Then hit a loop of Lower Black before getting loaded back up at the car.  Ride over to Pilot Rock and wait for the riders (walkers?) to come through until I get tired of looking at them.  Do the long solo slog back to the finish and hang out until that's no longer a thing to do.

No racing for me.  These kind of conditions will warrant a full go-over of a bike ASAP.  Bearings, brake pads, etc.  Especially since I'm headed to the Giro d'Ville on Thursday for four days/four nights of remote camping and riding.  Not gonna do that to muh behk.  Nor do I want to remember how poorly I recover in less than a week from eight or more hours in the saddle (or next to it, pushing muh behk).

So, I'm looking forward to whatever it is I'm doing.  Whatever.

Thursday, May 17

Baggies... Under His Eye

A short break for a commercial...

I mentioned already that I really like the GORE C5 All Mountain shorts that came my way a couple months ago.  I wore the crap out of them whilst on my Send-ona trip last month.

Literally ride, rinse, repeat for most of the trip.  I did wear one other pair of GORE shorts while I was out there.  A much more subdued looking pair of C5 Trail Light shorts.

Jiggling your memory a bit, the All Mountain shorts that GORE sent me were a size medium.  I was able to use the adjustable waistband to fit my slightly heavier than usual form, and the legs weren't too baggy, but there was mebbe a bit too much crotch room unless I pulled them up slightly higher than I wanted to.  Based on that fit, I asked for a pair of the Trail Light shorts in size small.

As much as I like the All Mountain shorts, I was looking for:

* Something not so blue for times I don't wanna look all endurbro.

* Fewer features and lighter weight.  I'm not planning on wearing pads or carrying more than one pocket load of stuff.

* Semi-form fitting... for a pair of baggies.  Something I hardly notice while wearing over my penile display case bib shorts.

These were exactly those.  They're even form-fitting enough that they don't look super stupid with a jersey (pockets not packs) either.

Apologies for the following images.  I was all like, "Hey, Pie.  Can you come here into this poorly lit part of the house and take an annoying amount of blurry pictures of my butt?"



And for comparison's sake, here's the All Mountain shorts:


Anyways, I really dig them.  If you're looking for baggies that basically cover your junk, don't snag on the saddle, don't bind at the waist, and are about as simple and breathable as possibru, these are them.

That wide elastic wasit band has rubber grippy things on the inside to keep the shorts where they belong.

The only downside (upside?) of getting these shorts is that they reaffirmed my belief that I needed a pair of the All Mountain shorts in size small, so I went ahead and bought a pair... and was super bummed that they weren't availabru in green.

Stoked that I have two options when I'm reaching for baggies.  Being that I'm making the gradual switch to "recreational pro" (I think someone made that up), I imagine I'll wear baggies more often than I have in the past.  Although the irony of my Enduro™ shorts may be lost on some (and they're not near as ironic as jorts), both shorts are pretty functional and fit the way I've wished baggies would have ever since I watched Kranked for the first time.

Tuesday, May 15

Decisions, Derisions

I'm honestly busy being perplexed right now.  Pisgah 111k is this weekend, and I put myself on the PTO schedule a long time ago to get off early on Friday to drive out there...

but without full intentions of doing anything specific that weekend at all.

I do very much like the Pisgah 111k, and it hits at least five or six awesome (and most favorite) trails in the area...

Follow along as I bitch about something entirely stupid and smacking of gob stopper levels of privilege.

Things are super peachy right now.  I've got a great family, job, place to live, etc etc ad nauseam.  I'm living the good life, the one I guess I was supposed to strive towards at some point when I was younger.  I'm, dare I say, happy?

I don't do well with the state of being content.  Things can always be better.  Currently tho, I just don't have any vague long term goals.  Not that I've ever often had things that people would call "goals," but at least a general direction in which to direct my efforts.

A friend of mine recently shared with me that he's writing a novel.  I was amazed.  I can't imagine such a task.  Such a rabbit hole would see me sitting in a room full of stacks of written pages, covered in my own filth... mebbe surrounded in overflowing ashtrays.  I assume one needs to smoke to be a successful novelist.  I forgot to ask.

I know that doing something I've already done before just because I can is not enough to get me outta bed to "train" or to stay away from the kitchen late at night.  I might FOMO hard if I skip events that I've enjoyed in the past, but I know riding for eight plus hours wondering "What am I doing out here?" is hardly pleasant either. 

And one more thing.

I'm trying to make sure I reserve a certain level of bike stoke for the Giro d'Ville in a couple weeks.  It's basically like the Tour de Burg, except shorter (hooray) and there's no road bike stages (double hooray).  If I do the 111k and then less than a week later I'm beating my own dick off for four days in a row, I might find myself visiting Sad Town.  The last few times I did the 111k with less than a week to recover before starting the Trans-Sylvania Epic stage race, I was a super sad dad.  There was just no snap in my legs, and the fog in my brain was still as thick as pea soup.

No buenos.

Bill Nye has been trying to talk me into endurbling with him, Daily, and K├╝rdt on Saturday, but for a multitude of reasons, I can't wrap my head around it.  That and I will be doing the two day Pisgah Endurble in three weeks.  That's about as much endurble as I can stomach right now.

I've also considered driving up to Pisgah with a backpack load of beer on Friday, leaving the 111K start early, climbing Clawhammer to Buckhorn Gap, cheering on the riders at @ the 7-8 mile mark (just a guess), riding over to the Humvee section on Pilot to cheer (and beer) on the riders there, to head back to the finish to hang out and relax.  It's too soon to look at this weekend's weather, but I will say I won't be doing all that in the rain.  Just won't.  I can't be getting back on Sunday with a trashed bike and a bunch of wet shit to deal with when I really need to dial in my camping and riding gear for four days at il Giro... and also I need to enjoy the company of my family for a few days before leaving Thursday.

That said, a weekend of potential rain and closed trails in Charlotte sounds just as bad as sleeping in the back of the Fit of Rage in a thunderstorm.

This would be a great time to own a Magic Eight Ball.

Monday, May 14

Premium Shopping Experience

My ride plan on Saturday hinged on Nick's sobriety level on Friday night.  He even said as much.

Meet at Steve's at 9:30AM, unless he felt he couldn't make it due to self-sabotage.  His text at 8:04AM?

"I'm worthless."

I'm on my own.

I can't fathom driving 45 minutes one way to ride a trail by myself.  I was also bummed to find out that the location of our new house puts Steve's outside the limits that I'd be willing to drive for solo trail time.  What to do?

There's some new trail being built over on the west side of town that I have yet to see.  A few miles, some heavily machine built, some hand built, but no place to park a car.  Sounds like a ride destination.  There's still some part of me that enjoys the futility of riding a single speed geared for trail riding on the open road.  Ten miles one way is well within my comfort zone, so I get dressed and head out by myself.

It was nice to ride somewhere I've never been on a bike, and once I got into the woods, even more so.  I explored every piece of trail I could find (including the one steep descent that just ended... somewhere.  Had to hike back out.

Whatever.

I also took every double track I could find to see where I'd end up.  I wanted to get down to the Catawba River, but I'm pretty sure I needed to go down into this hole to get there...

So, I didn't.  This is about as close as I got:

I took zero pictures of all the machine built, bike park quality lines that are out there.  I'm pretty sure they're not trying to blow this place up quite yet.  It has so much potential, the elevation out there is legit, and you really don't feel like you're in Charlotte... not that being in Charlotte is entirely bad.

I made my way to The Spoke Easy Bike Love Party later that evening, and I figured I'd stay for a couple hours, and somehow I got home at 1:30AM...

which means that I felt the feels on Sunday that kept Nick from riding with me the day before.

I didn't need to ride Sunday anyways.  I'd been avoiding a bunch of annoying but easy to ignore bike maintenance.  I got some new XTR Trail brakes from a friend who bought them on super sale (by accident) that I wanted to put on the JaBronSSon so I could move the XT brakes to the Stickel Meatplow V.6 to replace the XTR brakes with the leaky lever I can't seem to fix but have just been ignoring for months and also (finally) replace the bottom bracket on the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 that had a wallowed out cup because I didn't own a bearing puller back when I should have... oh, and check the spoke tension on my oldest set of Industry Nine/NOX wheels (and then bring up to tension).

Nothing exciting or ride-altering, so I approached all the tasks with as much enthusiasm as due.

Which was very little.

And I can't say I got it all done either, as an entire cockpit (ENVE bars, Thomson stem, XT brakes) is on the floor behind me as I type still waiting to go on the Stickle.

A couple hours work down over five or so hours... because... burrito.  Of course, burrito.

Friday, May 11

JaBronSSon Bjorn

Sunday morning. Wake up in the back of the Honda Fit of Rage. Watts makes me coffee... again. So nice.  Say my goodbyes and head back to Charlotte.  First stop?  The grocery store so close to my house I could walk but I drive directly there instead.  Buy one of those place-and-bake pizzas and wander the aisles looking for a one liter bottle of Coke.  I give up after a minute after finding twelve packs, tiny six packs, two liters... I just want one liter.  Guess I'm just eating pizza all day with no Coke.

I was coming back home to a certain amount of efforts, domestic and bike related.  The lawn needed harvested, and with the family outta town and due back soon, I needed to get the house in a state of order that looked like I at least made an effort while they were gone.  Bake the pizza while I take a shower and put it on the stove top when it's done for easy all-day grazing access.

First on the bike cycle list was figure out why my rear wheel was wobbly towards the end of PMBAR.  Clean off the Pisgah mud/dirt/horse poop and pop the wheel out.  Bad bearing on the non-drive side.  Easy fix... had I remembered to put the axle back in before I installed a new bearing.  Doh.

Fortunately, it was a dry PMBAR.  That's all I had to do to make the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 ready for its next adventure.

Next?

Turn the JaBronson into a JaBronSSon.

A pretty straight forward thing to do... sorta.  The bike was only semi-assembled after getting back from Sedona.  I'd ordered an oval ring from Bike Source, but it wasn't in yet, so the crank went back on with the Eagle ring still mounted.  Meh.

I made sure to let all the air outta the rear shock when I measured the chain to allow for chainstay length growth at maximum travel.  All said and done, I might be able to take another link out, but I was too stupid to read all the instructions while putting everything together.

Had I seen that, setting the chain length woulda been way easier. That spring is t-i-g-h-t tight.  Everything all assembled, ride it around in front of the house... my legs hurt.  Meh.

Go back in and hang it on the wall.

Since the family wasn't coming back until Tuesday night (Monday evening was reserved for heading to the stores to replenish the empty cupboards/fridge), I was able to squeeze in a quick Backyard Trail sesh for a few minutes.  Last night, I got a bit of a longer ride in after work.  How did all that go?

1. The chain stayed on.  I know BYT ain't Pisgah, but I hit the highest speed stuff out there, launched off the cannon jumps, and did what I could to slam the dangly bit around.

2. The tensioner does make a thwack noise springing back into place after bigger hits.  I'll get used to it?

3. I dunno about the 32X19 gear.  It's similar to what I ran on the Stickel Meatplow V.6 tho.  There is more than a chance that my legs are still pretty fatigued from PMBAR, so I'll keep giving it a chance for awhile.  Mebbe the oval will make a difference here?

4. Weight.  Right around 27lbs.  This is probably about the same as the Stickel with a Pike and less than my first custom single speed (26" wheeled steel Spicer with a 130mm Manitou Minute fjork).  Another reason to blame my tired legs and not the bike for the slow going.

5. I felt way more at home without all the thinking about shifting.  I could concentrate more on carrying speed, ratcheting the pedals through technical sections, and getting droopy.  I'm not saying gears are stupid.  I'm saying that I'm too stupid for gears.

All you haters can have your say.

"You ruined a perfectly good bike."

"You're a fucktard."

Etc.

I bought this bike for a few reasons:

1. To go to Pisgah (and similar) and rip descents slightly faster than I would on a hard tail with a bit more safety and comfort.

2. To take a break from riding rigid from time to time in order to mix it up.

3. Slow rides with friends locally where pleasure is of the highest order.

This bike still does that, so there's that.

I like my Peanut M&M's with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, my hats tiny, and my bikes single.  In the words of the modem philosopher Sheryl Crow, "If it makes you happy, everyone else can suck your balls."

Wednesday, May 9

PMBAR '18: Part 2

So, where did we leave off?

Oh, yeth.  Eight and a half hours in, four checkpoints bagged (one very pointless and possibly time-penalizing) and one mandatory to go before we can call it a day.

On the plus side, this was our last check point from 2017... the one that saw us blow (more than likely) first place single speed AND a possible overall podium.  I know how to NOT make that mistake again.  On the downside, the smart way to get there (1206 gravel to 276 paved to 477 gravel) was off the table.  276 was off limits... so another way it had to be.

But at least it still wouldn't be as bad as the way I got there last year so ok.

Up the Wheelchair Ramp from the other side, get up to Buckhorn Gap.  A few riders are there pondering just how the hell to approach Saddle Gap from here.  There are three possible options.  All are daunting.

We're going up and over Buckwheat Knob because:

1. I know the worst possible way (see 2017)

2. I can't fathom the amount of gravel climbing I'd have to do if we went down Clawhammer to climb up 477 to Bennett (I don't even like doing it with fresh legs).

So, over the knob.  Lotsa hike-a-bike, but whatever.  We pass a few riders and talk to them.  They ain't from around here, so I kinda let them know where to go and what they're in for soon enough.  Down the backside, over to Bennett, down to Saddle Gap... and back.

That's mebbe the one smart thing I did, because it was one of the keys to our not getting first place last year.  So much easier than what we did.  Although it's not usually in my best interest to help others plan their route, ten and a half hours into the day is not the time to be a competitive dick.  As riders come the other way asking why we're going back up, I let them know that out-and-back works better... at least for me (and Andy and Matt when they beat us last year).

Back on 477 for the million mile an hour descent down to the horse stables.  Watts is outta water, so he fills his bottle precariously close to the smells of horse poop.  Doh.

Up Clawhammer, over to Maxwell, thirsty Watts drinks outta my bottle because neither one of us is stoked about the idea of him drinking horse poop, and I'd given up on drinking water... because... why?

Slog Maxwell, short hike-a-bike up the back of lower Black, and down to the finish in what was not the sexiest run to the bottom by a long shot.

Crossing the line twenty minutes shy of twelve hours.  Eric tells us that we might be in third place single speed.  This does not compute.  My brain stopped working awhile ago.  Chalk that up to drinking mebbe four bottles all day, eating a bag and a half of Tummy Gummies, a homemade Snickers chunk, four gels, and a cashew bar I found on the trail.

I really am shelled, but third place it is.

Well.

What's there to say?

My best guess on a good route for the day?

Around Black VIA Clawhammer, Buckhorn, South Mills,  Squirrel... stay down in the hole to get Riverside, out (and up, unnnnnngggh) Bradley (and its seven thousand creek crossings), out and back Laurel and Slate, over the Wheelchair ramp and finish like we did.  Sadly, this is not a Monday morning quarterback plan.  It's what I decided I didn't feel like doing about twenty minutes into the day.

Myself (and Watts) paid for my apathetic and somewhat selfish approach to PMBAR this year.  I dug my heels in and made bad decisions because I just didn't wanna do certain "smart" things because I couldn't find it in myself to give a shit.  I got what I wanted outta PMBAR to some degree.  I like riding bikes in the woods with Watts, I love the strange uncertainty of people riding randomly all over the woods chasing their goals, and I love love love drinking beer with friends when it's all said and done, swapping war stories until all the cows have come home.

Watts and I talked a lot throughout the day as we rode at a very tranquil pace (when we could).  There was a lot of questioning "why" we do this to ourselves.  Not "why," like "what are our goals?"  It was more of a rhetorical question that neither one of us had the rhetorical answer to.  If you're not proving something to yourself or racing for a podium, you're just riding your bike... which can be done in a much shorter (and more pleasurable) amount of time.  You can also still drink beer when you're done.  I came into this PMBAR a jaded, contemptuous asshole who assumed his old man legs would just get me where I needed to go, and that was about as much thought as I put into it.  No "why."  Just "do."

Yet somehow, I know next year that I will be drawn back to PMBAR like a winged insect to a bug zapper... except that I'm cognizant enough to realize that I'm flying towards something that will kill me...

but that light is so pretty.  Must get near.  Must touch it.  Must.