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Thursday, September 12

UCI World Cuppage: Part Three

I allowed myself some time to sleep in on Sunday.  The XC racing action didn't start until early afternoon, so I saw no reason to get outta bed... despite the fact that my roomies, who are not accustomed to seeing me not get up early, might think I'm ded.

Wake up, watch the Red Bull coverage of the DH race from the day before.  Amazing how much you don't see from the same spot all day.  Huh.

"Are you even gonna bring beer over to the course?" ~ Bill Nye

Load up the bags with beer with some reluctance...

Drinking beer and standing on the side of the mountain is starting to feel like a job.  I punch the clock regardless.

We head over to the same rock garden we'd been staring at all weekend.  It's just about the closest thing to our place.  Besides, Kaysee said there was nothing worth seeing anywhere else.  I mean, this (from PinkBike) looks totally boring:

Mmmmmmm... okay.

Anyways, at our post and open our first beer of the day when the women take to the course.  It's an impressive scene.  I took no pictures of the action myself, because I'm a firm believer that there are professionals out there doing a fine job, and I just can't post a shitty image on social media of my race watching experience that's gonna make the world a better place.  I took note of who had droopers and who actually used them (only some of the time?), and that none of that really mattered technically, because drooped or not, they could all crush me riding Strider bikes.

The women finished, but we stood our ground.  No sense in moving about... the whole thing will be on TV later.  Then we watched most of the men's race... and then we ran outta beer.  So, we headed back to the condo to watch the Red Bull coverage of the women's race... and when I woke up on the couch to the post-race interviews, I looked around and found this scene:

Bill Nye had actually made it back to bed...

And while I did find Nick sleeping on the couch next to me, I staged the bottle of vodka... although he and Bill Nye destroyed it much later with some leftover ginger ale they found in the fridge (spoiler alert).

I woke everyone up (probably packing my shit noisily), and we watched the men's race coverage and finished depleting our supply of beers.

Almond milk and hot sauce do not a mixed drink make.

What to do, what to do?

We rallied our spirits and went out to eat.  And then beer.  And then Loic walked into the joint.  Nick thought about bugging him, but he gave Loic his space...

Until we went over to the Old Spruce Bar, told Mo that Loic was across the way, she ran out, told him there was karaoke at the Spruce... and he showed up minutes later.

And Nick got Loic to lift him up (unlike Rob Warner the night before who declined Nick's request).  What followed was the singing (way too many times) of Country Roads with Loic and his posse... and then... something something...

We're on the couch at 1:00AM watching Mr Deeds whilst Nick and Bill Nye finish their nasty liquor drink concoction and some time later... we're in bed.

And that's that.

Everything I expected it to be times about eleventy million.

Wednesday, September 11

UCI World Cuppage: Part Two

Making plans at a huge event with almost zero cell service is not for those that are not willing to cancel all plans at the drop of a hat and improvise.  We thought we were dialed in for the DH viewings, but then we weren't.  A long line at the lift down and I felt we were better off just hiking/glissading downwards until we found something to look at for awhile.

We plopped down on a giant rock, popped open a beer, and settled in for the day.

Eventually, the whole race (and the rest of the world) made its way by our position.

Cori who used to work for QBP took one look at us and said, "You guys look like you know Watts Dixon."

There you have it.  We have "a look."

After all the racers came down the course, Bill Nye and I stayed in place and watched the crowd of zombies claw their way back up the side of the mountain.


Eventually, we ran outta beer and tried to coax the passers by to unload their burned.  We succeeded twice.
Also, the volunteer that was at the drop we were spectating asked if we thought he could hit it?

"Of course.  Want your picture taken?"

And to the cheers of the crowd below, the yellow vested man hucked his meat royally.

Bill Nye waited until the course was clear to make his run.

We left out when all was said and done and headed up to the village area to... see what's up?

We were standing around at the top of the technical rock section for the XC course.  It was taped off so nobody would ride it.  A bunch of kids rolled up and asked if we were there to open it up.

"Sure?"

Once the crowd started to gather to watch these kids railing the pro lines, we left outta there.

On the way out, Nick saw this dog.

"I'm gonna pet that dog."

This was not the last time Nick's inner voice came out of his mouth part.

"I'm gonna head butt you."

"I'm gonna get on your shoulders."

"We're gonna do shots."

etc.

Buck making sure his phone was still worthless for the purposes of communication.

Somehow we ended up at Tuque's and something happened that left us with the impression that every "industry" group came to UCI events with their own "fighter."

From there... we watched a band until they stopped playing and for at least ten more minutes while they packed up, and then we went back to the room... something something... in bed at a very regrettable (for a fifty year old person) time to get some rest before the big XC event on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 10

UCI World Cuppage

Jeebus.

That was a blur of epic proportions.  Every bit of it worth getting a room reserved almost eleven months ago and waiting in crazed anticipation ever since.

Drive up, check in (soooo smooth when no one else is there yet) and unpack the car.

Nick and I head out for a ride down at Silvercreek.  Bill Nye goes running and frolicking (I imagine) whilst we're out playing in the woods.

Get to ride a trail I'd never seen back in my XC riding days at Snowshoe.  Mebbe it wasn't there 20 years ago.  Who knows?  Lynwood Express was all the buenos,

Clean up, grab a couple for the walk around, run into frands.

Shoogs and a small part of his posse.

Plenty of time to soak in all the UCI'ness about the place.


Nick calls an audible on our walk back and we end up in some bar called Tuque's.  Put back a few and then head back to the room, hoping to get a semi-early start on Friday.

Wake up and Buck has arrived on scene.  Plans get re-shuffled, and we end up walking down the DH course watching the practice runs.  Get back and head back out to Silvercreek again, this time with Buck, Justin and Baxter in tow.  Knock out our second and also last ride of the weekend, get back, stuff our bikes in the back of the Honda Fit of Rage to keep them safe, and then return to the business of not getting to business.

Pack a bunch of beer... head over to the Short Track race.  Watch both the women's and men's fields put on a helluva show, head back to the room??

I think.

Get our shit together and head over to wherever it was we had to wait for who knows how long to catch a shuttle to a point pretty close (but not really) to the HandUp Gloves house to make party.

And what follows is very memorable, mostly regrettable, but certainly not completely felonious.

Get dropped off at the end of the road by the shuttle driver, start making the long hike down the gravel road... and get a scoop from a friendly Ohio feller.  Then there was a band, some forced shot-gunning of Naturdays (vomit), a head wound that was made worse by a poorly tossed beer can (empty), a beer shower in the living room (and a shameful cleanup), mosh pits...

I won't say who did what to keep certain actions from scarring people's reputations.

Some of us kept a very close eye on the time and our options for getting outta there.  Missing any boat going up the stream could make for a very painful six mile uphill walk.

We found ourselves back in the Ohio feller's pickup, and we (well, most of us anyways) made our way back to the comforts of relative safety.



Pretty sure we called it a night there.

Pretty but more ugly for sure.

Wednesday, September 4

Pee Pole Watching

Staying somewhat along the lines of yesterday's "live, learn... forget" theme, I'm gonna once again do something that the last time I did it, I said I'd had my fill and should avoid it in the future.

I'm gonna go watch other people ride bikes.

As soon as they announced it last year, I gave up my resolve to not watch people get paid professionally to do my hobby... although at a much higher level (inhuman) than I could ever attain. I threw it down in the "once in a lifetime" category of events that I'd regret not prioritizing in my life. Like UCI Road Worlds in Richmond or going to see AC/DC's Blow Up Your Video World Tour in '88. That level.

I don't know how I muddled my way through a three day weekend and ended up so unprepared to leave Charlotte for five days. My life feels like it's just a bunch of unattended piles.



I've never been so busty making things worse.

I've been debating whether or not to bring a bike with me. There's something going on from just about sun up to sun down.

And yeth, I do wanna see the world's best downhillers standing around pointing at rocks and discussing lines.  Not so much from a fan boi perspective, but to just witness the process.  I wanna see XXC training, and XCO racing, and juniors, and pretty much everything.  Who knows if/when we'll ever get a World Cup race in the Southeast, let alone the season finale?

I try to mentally pack the back of the Honda Fit of Rage with groceries, beer (three people X four long days + a few extra in case), walker wear for temps in the high 40s - high 60s... and then think about whether or not riding gear will fit in there...

Not to mention, I still haven't gotten through to the condo people to find out if the bike storage will be open (I assume nothing on World Cup weekend), if we can check in early on Thursday (5:00PM standard check-in?)... all to get in one, mebbe two rides on the limited amount of trails down at Silvercreek?

Don't even bring up the trails down in Slatyfork.  Mebbe I'm optimistic (or pessimistic), but I expect a shitload of people coming to Snowshoe for this event.  All coming up that twisty two lane road to get there.  All of us with our stupid email confirmation of a "ticket" to get access to the mountain.  I can only imagine that for a side trip to Slatyfork to be worthwhile, you'd better give yourself five hours.  That's allowing for a good amount of titty-dicking around, trying to coordinate a ride with a herd of cats who have zero cell phone coverage, driving down there and back, incidentals like flats and mechanicals, the "can we stop to grab something while we're off the mountain?" moments, etc.

So which five hour chunk of which day do I give up?

If the primary purpose of this trip wasn't to watch World Cup racing and soak in as much as possible, I'd be totally in.

I don't know what to do.  If I don't ride Thursday through Monday, it will be the longest that I've been off the bike for way more than the past two decades.  Through every illness, injury, vacation, or other life event, I've always managed to get out on the bike to keep sane.

Mebbe I need the break?  How would I even know?

When someone tells me that they haven't ridden their bike in a few weeks, I feel like they're speaking alien Latin to me.  Who does that kinda thing?

Anyways, I'm outta here until next week, so whatever.  I guess we'll see what I can get into and expect the absolute worst UCI World Cup coverage here then.

Tuesday, September 3

The Tree Shaker Six (?) Hour Race '19

I used to be good at certain things.  Other things, I could at least fake my way through them.

Now, I fake my way through the things that used to be right in my wheelhouse, while the things I used to half-ass...

At the start line, I feel like I'm lined up in the junior class up at the front.  Most of the guys next to me look like they still don't have to shave yet.  They're talking about other races they'd like to do, mebbe next year.

"Have you done the Lumberjack?"

"Ummm... back in 2006," I reply, realizing that some of them probably weren't even old enough to watch a PG-13 movie back then.

"This must be a pretty good course for a single speed, right?"

"Ummmm... "

Memories of all the "good for a single speed" courses I've ever raced flash through my head.  Not misty water-colored memories.  Dark, sad, painful... repressed for a reason memories.

"Good for some single speeders.  Strong riders who can lay down power the whole time."

I'm lined up at the front for my own selfish reasons.  Not only do I wanna be in the woods with the fast riders, the start is on a 2.5 rider wide gravel road (path?).  I can foresee bars banging and riders touching the floor.  I don't wanna be one of those riders.  I tell the boy band member next to me that I really don't like the idea of lying down in the first twenty seconds of the race.  He concurs.

Despite our agreement, our handlebars are locked together three pedal strokes in.  My dog, I love bike racing.

I lose some ground heading up the gradual climb.  It's okay.  No one knocks me over, and as I do see riders skittering left and right in the loose sections, no one goes full Pete Rose. 

Into the woods and Sara G comes around me in the only wide open section I can think of on the course.  Pretty sure we've been in the same zone before at events in the past, so I convince myself that I should be able to hold her six hour pace, mebbe better it?  Her local counterpart, Bonnie, hot on my heels.

Oh... I'm not racing in the women's class, but I've seen Dung Le already pass me early on, just crushing it.  I've already pegged him for the SS win, so I can't even consider us in the same "class."  And Sara and Bonnie who I'm trying to staying in touch with?  I didn't know it, but they were in the three hour race and riding at their three hour pace.  Meh and dammit.  I coulda asked and not just assumed, but that woulda been smart.

Allow me to fast forward a bit.

I'm passing people.  Even more people are passing me tho.  I'm just about at my absolute limit.  I told myself that this would be the type of event where my Wahoo would come in handy.  I should be able to sustain 160+ BPM for six hours.  Just gotta stay outta my red zone.

Almost every time I look down... I'm in the red.  Not even a half lap in and my lower back is screaming.

Hello, old friend.

I've been here before.  I know better.  I can't go this hard on a course like this.  Without some extended climbs that I can stand up and grind out and a descent here and there to take a break, I'm just digging my own grave.  I finish my first lap, pretty sure I'm in second place SS, and then decide that I need to try something different.  It's a six hour race.  Anything can happen.

I dial it back a notch on the second lap.  More riders come around.  A couple on single speed, although I don't know if they're six or three hour racers.  The slower pace means that I'm hitting the chatter and roots instead of skipping across them.  My back is shutting down.

Shit.

Twice (that I can remember) I've allowed my lower back to get so bad that I was in terrible shape.  Months of doing strange things like sleeping in a hammock in the spare room, painful bike rides, work sucked... life was not pleasant.  All I can think about is, "am I digging a hole that I won't climb out of any time soon?"

Just like that, I quit.

Sure, I still had to finish the lap, but I slowed down considerably.  Roll the rest of the way around, cross the line, head back to the pits... to many jeers and "what are you doing?" comments.

That's that, pretty much.  Obviously, I shouldn't have just entered a race because I had residual fitness from Breck Epic and a free entry from a previously canceled event.  I knew it was a square peg/round hole scenario, but... three day weekend much??  I just wanted something to do, mebbe to fill that Shenandoah 100 sized hole in my heart?

Spent the rest of the morning and afternoon drinking beer, cheering others on, and at one point, loaning my bike out to Daniel from Bike Source when I saw him walking off the course with a terribly wobbly wheel.  Get some advice from Chris W about how to mebbe avoid these pesky lower back problems in the future (homework??).

Oh well.  I probably shoulda just done the three hour event, found a duo partner so I could stretch between laps, or just went for a bike ride (or split up all the shitty house-related work I did on Sunday into two days instead of one long day).

As I've said before, live, learn... forget.

Thursday, August 29

Safety first... with colorway coming in close second

Before I left for the Breck Epic, I got an email from someone I didn't know.  He said he worked with POC, and that they were partnered with the Breck Epic, and would I like to try some POC stuff?

Yeth and please and thank.

I've been living through a helmet conundrum lately.  The Specialized Prevail was my go-to helmet for as many years as I can remember now.  Looking back through the archives to figure it out, I've been wearing one since 2012 after many years of being a Giro-man.

When the Prevail II came out, I figured it would be my next helmet.  I went into Bike Source to try one on... good enough.  Bought it, went home, tried to stick my goofy prescription glasses in the vent holes... no dice.  There was nowhere to accommodate my glasses front or back, and so the helmet went back in the box to be returned.

Now what?

I had a black and a white functioning Prevail back in early '18.  Somehow, the last Tour de Charlotte kinda compromised both of them.  The white one got dented when I stood up too fast and doinked my head on a steel girder while crawling under a bridge on a trail work day.  The black one got crushed in a garage door at the lunch stop during the race.

Shit.

You might wonder why my current Prevail is a gawdawful special edition color dipped High-Viz.

It's because by the time I figured out that the Prevail II wouldn't work, there weren't a lot of options on eBay in my size for the OG Prevail.  I bought what I could find at the time.

I know I am not long for this earth... and its Prevailability.  When this one dies, I'll need another option, but what?  Whenever I would go into an unfamiliar shop, I'd try other brands.  I really wanted to try a POC, but I never got my hands on one.

So would I like to try a POC Octal X Spin?  The answer was obviously "yeth."

It's basically the ubiquitous road Octal but with an extended shell covering more of the helmet liner so it's harder to beat the shit out of it.  It's got POC's own SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) technology capable of resisting roll, yaw and pitch impacts.

It's also equipped with a Recco reflector which makes you searchable to rescuers... and you can read all about the boring safety stuff if you click through the links.

It's a helmet.  It's made to be safe.  That makes sense.

How about function and fit?

I received the helmet halfway through the Breck Epic, so I've got probably fifteen hours of ride time with my head part stuffed in it.

The Eye Garage works as advertised:



I popped my dumb prescription glasses up in there multiple times and never noticed them slipping or threatening to fall to the ground.  Mebbe it's something you don't care about.  I do.

Ventilation.  I was immediately aware of the airflow first thing in the morning on Stage Four.  Those large front vents really let the air in to cool things down.  Enough so that I wished I woulda left my hat on to avoid the unexpected ice cream headache.

Fit.  I gave the helmet the highest compliment I could when Chris asked me what I thought about it after a couple days.

"I never noticed it."

No hot spots or unwanted wobble, decent sweat control, easy to operate (with gloves) buckles and adjustments... just nothing to bitch about at all.

Still, I'll give it my official Seal of Semi-Approval.

Only Semi?

Well, the color options are black (the complete absorption of light), pumpkin orange, or Enduro™ blue.  I don't wear blue helmets, orange and pink don't play well together, and black is just black... but it's way better than the worst helmet color ever, which would be red.  Hands down.

That's my only nit to pick... well, that and the fact that I'm worried because now that I've found a new helmet, I'm overly concerned that POC will completely redesign the Octal X Spin before I can gather a stockpile.  Oh, and also that I still wear a Specialized helmet at work.  My glasses store in the back vents, so I'm gonna have to work on the muscle memory thing.

Wednesday, August 28

Make great bike race, not great war

So, yeah.  I'm racing this weekend.

I'm not totally convinced on my logic here.  Basically, the race I signed up for in June (The Greenway Classic) was rescheduled due to weather until December, and everyone was given the option to transfer to the Tree Shaker.  I was thinking mebbe I'd have some residual fitness from Breck Epic.  I didn't feel up to making the long drive to the SM 100 less than one week before an extended trip to watch the Snowshoe UCI World Cup race a few days later. 

So I picked this.

I haven't done a solo lap race in a very long time.  I'd grown to dislike the format.  It's sorta like tryna eat a whole box of Twinkies in one sitting.  It seems like a great idea at first, I mean, who doesn't like Twinkies?  Obviously, the only thing better than one Twinkie is ten, right?

No.

Probably somewhere between one and ten, to be determined by the individual and not some outside entity.

I'm now committed to ride six hours of a thing that I will probably stop enjoying after about three hours of a thing.  Because... racing?  Burrito?

Dunno.

Not for nothing, but I signed up for the race on Monday, despite injuring myself in a strange pot metal door hardware failure-related accident Sunday.  While trying to quietly close (The Pie was napping) the reluctant side door to head out for a greenway spin, the half-assed pull handle snapped off in my hand sending me ass-backwards across the screened-in porch.  I landed elbow into the cheese grater door, right hand in the door jam.  Now I'm old people sore all over and my lowest pinkie knuckle is angry at me.  I can't even brush my teeth without holding my pissed off digit out like it's tea time.

Anyways...

bike race coming and keep my head down posting stuff because I'll be heading to the World Cup in a week.