Wednesday, December 13

Simple kinda meh

Given perhaps the one notable thing I've ever done in the name of making great bike race involved riding in the dark for almost twelve hours, I sure am terrible at night riding nowadays.

I went out for my first, out-the-door, after work night ride since moving into the new neighborhood Monday night.  There's a loose group that heads out at the beginning of the work week, but for "reasons," I haven't been able to make it out since moving into the new place.  I didn't think I'd be able to go this past Monday, but everything started to line up for me around 5:45PM.  A mad scramble later, I had my lights, clothes, and bike ready for an evening spin.

Roll down the hill to Leaf Lyfe's house at 6:50PM, meet up with Jim and Burton, head into the woods.

I'm not sure what to blame my poor performance on.  Slick roots, wet leaves, poorly aimed lights, riding my JaBronson for only the 5th(?) time... dunno.  I was struggling.

It's not like we all didn't have our moments out there.  I don't think any of use escaped without touching the floor (or at least coming close) once or twice.  I certainly felt overwhelmed.

I think it had to do with a certain amount of over stimulus.  Not only was I constantly fiddling with my light position, I was screwing up on using the shifty bits properly AND kinda having a hard time with the handling of my bike cycle.  I knew the JaBronson wasn't really made to be THE bike for 7 MPH average trails with 90° turns every twenty feet, but that's how the Backyard Trails seem to work sometimes.

It felt like the first time I tried to play a video game that was one generation further along in the evolution of gaming past Super Nintendo.  That was the last time I was able to comprehend how to use a controller and understand how my manual input affected what was happening on the TV screen.

Okay, mebbe I could handle Wii Tennis, but I think that was designed to keep toddlers happy since kids are no longer allowed to play outside.

As much as I love my JaBronson and enjoy what it can do, I'll probably be going for my Vertigo Meatplow V.7 for future night rides, at least for the near future.  It's the closest thing I have to this:

And I was very good at Night Driver, so this is very much a crossover skill.

Anyways, I thought the forgiving suspension would allow me to run into things I can't see with fewer consequences, but for right now, I need as few things as possible to wrap my head around... if I want to stop rolling around in the wet leaves on my ass.

Monday, December 11

Settling for 92% settled

I was kinda grateful for the shitty weather to start the weekend.  Not so much the thirty something degree rain and total darkness on the commute home Friday night, but definitely the sleet/snow/rain/cold/shit on Saturday.  It was the impetus required to force me to deal with most of the undone things around "house."

Roll outta bed when I feel like it, coffee, breakfast... out the door to the hardware store with a list.

Come home $100 lighter and with loads of things to keep me busy.  I save the cool bike stuff for last because... burrito?

I swear that for every five minutes of effort I thought would be required for some of the simpler tasks, I spent twenty.  Putting a latch on the attic door, replacing a dead bolt in the laundry room, decorative toilet bolt caps...

If something could go wrong, it does.

But eventually, efforts are rewarded, and I get to move on to putting my bikes in order.

The Topeak Dual-Touch bike stand couldn't go exactly where I wanted it without a bunch of rolling around in the attic insulation, but fortunately, it didn't matter. Droop the saddle on the upper bike, tilt them both a bit, and they take up the amount of room I had in mind.

Unused space in a small home is a sin.  If your body is never gonna occupy it, fill it with something.  Behind the couch was never a place I planned on hanging out, but a fine place for my mountain cycling bikes to do so.  I like that the Dual-Touch can be moved from room to room pretty easily, but I'm hoping that even when The Pie and I are DINKS, I get to still keep my bikes in the living room.

I know you get it.

I got a little creative with the Solo Bike Holder.

I wanted the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 (and an old messenger bag) to be super handy to grab and get out the door for beer runs and urban rides about town.  I was gonna put it in The Pie's office, but when I figured out with the Dual-Touch that a tilted bike can take up less horizontal wall space, I decided to put it in the temporary bike room behind the kitchen.

I did massage the install a bit.

The Solo would probably work better with the narrow bars of a road bike.  Mounted directly to the wall, I would have to turn the 690mm flat bars a bit... which would hurt my head to look at.

So, I thought about the materials I had at hand and my current lack of hipster re-purposed pallet furniture, and I made that extended shelf thing-a-do.  I spent way more time building it in my head than with my hands. 

And like that, there are no more time consuming things to do... aside from hanging all the photos and art stuff on the wall... which is where the rest of the day went.

Other than eventually converting the porch into a proper place to work on bikes (and other crafty things), from this point on, if it ain't broke, I ain't fixing it.  Well, I do have to install a Swing-Up Bike Holder in the new bike room for my tarck bike, as I've vowed to myself that I'd keep all my work shit from cluttering up the living room... like I'd been doing for years.

I'm no longer staring into space thinking about what "house" thing to do next.  I'm just super itching to go on a ride now.

Friday, December 8

Come do a thing

Just a PSA for Charlotte urban night holiday shredders...

Instead of just doing another "fucking holiday lights ride" around the same ho ho ho hum neighborhoods, Faster Mustache has come up with something, if not better, at least different.

The Tour de Shed Ride

"Join us on a festive holiday lights bike ride through Charlotte on Thursday December 21st.

We'll make a few stops along the way to enjoy a special beverage with our friends and showcase their bike sheds or workshops.

Come prepared to spend the night out on the town with your bike. Helmets and lights are REQUIRED.

Ride will start At Rhino Market & Deli (Moorehead) 6:30. Come early and bring a coat for donation to Steve's Coats for Kids. Sammy and drink specials going on and there is a super special gift for those who show up first (only with a coat!) Make it while supplies last!

Ride is 12-15 Approximate miles. Mini party at sheds will will be around 30 minutes, we will loop back to Rhino after the tour and wrap it up by 10-11pm. Ride map will be published in due time."

I know what you're thinking.

"Old Man Dick might stay out past 10:00PM on a school night?"

Yeth.  He will.  In the spirit of all the things and whatnot.

Come join me in having a sheddy time.

Wednesday, December 6

Needing one in the win column

Me at 7:00AM with plans to get things done:

And me at 7:00PM when it seems like nothing is going as planned:

Honestly, I'm probably staring off into space trying to solve problems in my head ten times more than I'm actually fixing things hands-on.  Not everything needs to be done right away, but I'm not very good at sitting around when something needs to be done.

Doing over sitting always.  Sit when the doings are done and then pass out in a puddle of drool.

That's my thing.

Something showed up last night to address some of my "issues."

Of course being that it's the holidays, only package one of two packages arrived which had two thirds of the bike storage racks but the two thirds that only solves half of my problems and only a quarter of those that I'm prepared to address at the moment.  Also, because I haven't fixed the door bell yet, they sat on the front porch for who knows how long whilst I was inside the house fixing much smaller things (like missing door sproingers).


Also, in the "of course it worked out that way" column, I spent the previous evening putting tiny holes in my living room ceiling looking for a joist where it should be because neither a stud finder app or a magnet found their prey.  After zilching it, I committed to crawling around in the fluffy/stabby insulation up in the attic to find the issue last night... and found the joist was unfortunately way further from the wall than expected, so my using the Topeak Dual-Touch bike stand (the one that hasn't showed up yet) exactly where I wanted to is a no bueno.  Unless I get creative mebbe... which means further staring into space later today. 

Obvs that I hit up Topeak for the racks, being an ambassador and all.  Honestly, this stuff is well thought out, functional, and aesthetically pleasing to my eye.  I did spend loads of time looking at crafty things I could build on my own, but I've got other crafts to keep me busy... like washing machine repair.  Anyways, the Solo Bike Holder is gonna hold the ByStickel Meatplow V.6 cum townie way up high and outta the way in The Pie's office/foster animal area.   I figured the Dual-Touch would crowd the tiny room a bit too much and would also provide a pee pole for young male pups looking for a tree-like object to relieve themselves on if given the chance.

Yeth, instead of daydreaming about where the '18 "season" might take me, I'm trying to find a place to hang my  bikes until I'm dead.

Kind of a big decision in my book.

Monday, December 4


I had told myself that I would:

Not let home ownership ruin my free time.

Take advantage of the fact that all I need to get some quality trail time now was a free hour or so.

Saturday morning was spent knocking out the to-do list of things that could be done without a trip to the hardware store.  Mostly cleaning out the shed (sorry not sorry, roaches) and leaf management, to include gutter cleansing.  This is a task that is not really enjoyed by one with moderate acrophobia.  So glad to find out that the gutters go entirely around the house.  At 47 years of age, twenty minutes crouched up on my honches, I feel as if I did four hundred squats... on the edge of a cliff.  I got done doing the almost all the things in time to get out on the JaBronson before 3:00PM.

Not much of a ride in terms of mileage or saddle time, but exactly what I needed and one of the reasons I moved here.  A pleasant quick escape from all things "house."  I probably only thought about the washing machine that backs up into the kitchen sink three or four times.

Sunday, I woke up prepared to pay back the trail a little bit.  Hubbs was trying to build a dream of a 20' table top he's been eyeballing forever.

photo(s) cred: Hubbs
Living right here next to the trails, I have very little excuse to make for not helping out, even if I have plans later.  A couple hours is better than none hours.

I can't say my contributions on the day were massive, but I can say they were something more than nothing.  Nick and I bailed out after a couple hours, headed towards Renni for the cyclo rossing race, picked up a some Miller High Life and fried meat tube things on the way.

I'm not sure how much grass/sand noodle bar racing we actually watched...

photo cred: Big 'n Buttery
but being prone in the grass and hanging out (and not racing) was better than racing and yard work and staring at a washing machine.

I'm not sure if I'm more wiped out from the physical efforts of the weekend or my attempts to avoid them.

But into another work week with one bag on my back and two under my eyes.

Thursday, November 30

über komüt

The last four or so miles of my old commute have been relatively the same since 2003 or so.  It wasn't the worst commute ever for me.  That woulda been the eleven something miles from Mint Hill into the Queen City.  Miles of 45MPH narrow two lane connecting to miles of 40MPH four lane... shit sidewalks, lotsa pull-ins for business driveways...

That was bad.

But the last fourteen years have been pretty good.  Aside from a couple miles of sidewalk (next to a super busy 45MPH four lane) and the addition of trolley tracks in the roadway the last coupla miles, it's been relatively pleasant.  Those tracks have been a pain in the ass, especially through Central Piedmont Community College, what with all the students getting dropped off hilly nilly (and illegally).  Oh yeah, and the part that goes past The Spoke Easy where you have to choose riding over storm grates (possibly wet) or a narrow strip of concrete that has tracks on one side and a gaping seam on the other, both capable of swallowing the 23mm tires on my tarck bike.

I've seen people go down there, and I've also seen the results.  It ain't pretty.

Mickey, third senior (or second rookie) messenger in Charlotte.  Same same.

Anyways, my new commute... or better yet, new commuteS.

There's at least three decent ways to get to the uptown from my new house.

1. Peaceful neighborhood to bike lane to another bike lane to the path that runs along the light rail all the way to uptown.  It's exposed to the sun most of the way, so nice and toasty for winter commutes.  Added bonus; cars yielding for ME at the crosswalks, so no waiting on traffic lights.

2.  Ride over to the greenway (which is gonna eventually gonna cut through my hood) and ride it all the way to just outside uptown.  This will be a great option when it's hot outside or if I need to stop at Bike Source for... things.

3.  Charlotte Bike Route #2 is super close to my house.  It's more shaded, cuts through tons of neighborhoods, and has plenty of hills.  When I get tired of bike lanes or headphone afflicted path users, I've got a pretty sweet option this way:

I really like the light rail path the most, partially because once I get on it, I can see the big buildings in the distance.  I pass by a bunch breweries, people, and Bill Nye's place... which will be convenient if I have an urgent science-related need.  It's also almost all gradual uphill on the way in, and totes opposite on the way home.  Buenos.

The only real loss of quality in my bike life is that I'm further away from the place where I used to get my greenway junk mile mornings.  It was a pretty ideal locale to mindlessly spin away from cars and people in the mornings, but it's almost eight miles from my house now.  Since I was only bagging 1-1.5 hours of ride time out there before work, it's just not feasible any longer.  I don't know where I'll get those rides in next "season," but it sure as shit won't be the Backyard Trails right near my house.

I won't be the morning spider web sweep guy.  I tried that a few years ago, and riding twenty feet, taking a web to the face, screaming like a toddler, and doing a full-body check for arachnids does nothing for me.

Tuesday, November 28

My Bike (lack of) Room

My last bike room was quite capacious.  That was not planned.  It just happened when a family of three moved into a split level because we needed to move from one place to another.  It was very easy to fit all my things into it with room to spare.  Camping gear, bikes, our home computer, bench vise, grinder... bike tires stored in the fire place.

Like I said before, my long term desire has been to live smaller.  I knew it would have its challenges, but efficient use of space just makes sense to me.  Want to hear me rant, ask me about the first home we owned and that the only benefit of a vaulted ceiling was being able to use my Nerf Hoop.

I would just sit on the couch staring up at all the wasted heat.  Meh.

So yeah. The "fifty pounds of house shit in the forty pound house bag" thing. Most of that shit is my shit. I hate to admit that I'm the biggest problem with my dream of living tiny, but it's painfully obvious when you look around our house.  Why can't The Pie relieve some of my guilt by taking up something more stupid than bike cycling... like SUPing?

The Pie's office in its current state:

It's the smallest room in the house, but she only needs enough space for her desk, a printer, and a thousand foster animals (not all at the same time tho).  I've got my fleet of bikes tossed asunder, and two of them have landed in here.  For now.  That and the home computer ended up here by default because it has nowhere else to go at this time.

Two more bikes in the living room... because... burrito.  Right when you walk in the front door, they greet you.  This will be semi-resolved... at some point in the future.  Notice my tarck bike turning away from the plastic abomination it's sharing a room with.

For now, this is where I get to work on my bikes.  It's a tiny space in the back of the kitchen where I guess normal people would put a small table for breakfast because the gigantic one on the other side of the kitchen is too big for a morning meal?  Who designs these things?

It will be a little tight, but I can always work out in the living room if I need the space.  It's also near the kitchen sink so emergency cleanup can be done with more expedience.  I've pretty much got all the things I need on a regular basis; often used bike tools, riding gear, Turbo Bass entertainment system, and house tools (because I'm probably gonna need them pretty handy for the foreseeable future).

This is a work in non-progress:

We're going to wall in the currently screened-in porch.  Sorry but not sorry.  The Pie and I do not "partake," so the need to step outside to "get our minds right" isn't there.  It's a pretty cool porch as far as porches go, but we really need the space.  It will be a couple months before my buddy Daily is going to have time for this project.  Since I want it done right, I don't think this is something I should do on my own.

I own a circular saw and a corded drill.  And a grinder and a Dremel.

I don't think that will be enough.

Anyways, it should be darn near perfect for the purpose of making great bike cycles molar better.  The floor is just shitty enough that some spilled lube and brake fluid will add character.  A door to the outside makes sweeping clumps of mud out that much easier.  Another door separating me from the family will keep them from hearing all the obscenities I'm mumbling while I'm overcoming mechanical "issues."  The recycling bin is right outside, so easy disposal of dead soldiers.  I'm totally guessing if I want some heat or AC, I'll just open the door to the house (or a window).

The only issue is that the room is big enough to store 90% of my bike gear and tools, camping shit, and messenger related items... but not all my bikes if I still want room to work on them.

My temporary solution of using the lean-to bike storage made out of my old water bed died in the move.  I'm not sure it woulda fit anyways, so as sad as I was to see it go, it was gonna happen eventually.   I was gonna shove it in The Pie's office which woula meant the home computer woulda went... in the bath tub?  Dunno.  Anyways, I've been spending a lot of time staring at all the Topeak storage stands and measuring empty wall space all over the house.  I'm pretty sure that we're gonna end up living in a bike gallery.

I'm okay with that.