Friday, October 24

That thing I said... yeah, maybe forget that.

Yesterday, I said I would contradict myself.  Here we go.

I pretty much blame these for my problem.

Two Silos and a Titan Tank from Nuclear Sunrise.   They showed up at work the other day.

They got me to thinking about all the things I would do differently if I ever raced Double Dare again.  Things I would tweak, change, leave out or heavily reconsider.  These things could make a world of difference and with a few more changes... ?

Then I saw Zac in the courthouse later in the day.  I expressed my enthusiasm about the hows and whats and stupid ideas.  His face lit up and stupidity came from his largest facehole as well.

I went into the Double Dare in the most half-assed of manners with the bar set almost as low as possible.  With more preparation, I could easily increase my ass factor by two... maybe three.  A total of a possible 1.5 asses.  I will not share with the class, as these things would be done in the name of making great bike race, and showing my hand 361 days before the event would not do me any good.

So do I sign up for the King of Pisgah again, totally going against everything I've been saying all year long?  Perhaps.  The Monster Cross will most certainly be the last thing I want to do again (except the Faster Mustache Drink ALL the Beer After-Party was pretty fun), and I'm pretty sure I won't be any better equipped for gravel racing a year from now.  If the 111k/55.5k weekend is still 6 days before the Trans-Sylvania Epic again?

That's what killed me last year.  Tossed my laundry all over the room, it did.

I know the race is about more than just sticking stuff hither and tither on your bike and person.  It would also be more than a nervous grab of gear a couple nights before and some rash decisions made at the grocery store.

I'm gonna masticate on things for awhile before I decide to swallow another one of Eric's jagged little pills.

But I'm thinking about it.

Oh well.  Tomorrow is the Wilkes 100k... which will more than likely serve me up plenty of dark quitty thoughts and sads with occasional woops, hollers and braaps.  Things in the plus column, things in the minus.  I'll do the math later.

Looking forward to riding this bike in go-fasty mode and drooling all over myself for 4.5-5 hours.

Thursday, October 23

Dirty Laundry

This "season" reminds me a lot of my college laundry system.  Let me explain...

Just back from the laundromat, I would have a nice stack of clean clothes... properly folded and piled nicely on the floor.  I was never much for hangers or dresser drawers.  This pile of fresh smelling clothes represents all my fitness and ambition back in late April.

I would wear my clothes to class and work, favorites first of course.  If there were no offensive odoĆ¼rs in the pits or crotchal regions, they would be placed in a secondary pile... the "I can get away with wearing these at least one more time" pile.  Socks and underwear did not apply, as I rarely wore them anyways.  Yes, I didn't generally sport socks in Youngstown, Ohio in the winter.  Anyways, once they had been worn in an athletic endeavor (usual intramural sports or one of the many phys ed classes I took for fun... and an easy "A") or to a smoke-filled bar (where I spent at least six nights a week), they were then moved to the "totally dirty" pile, not to be worn again until properly laundered.

This year, I pretty much burned through my clean pile of ambition and fitness by the first week of June.  To make matters worse, it's as if someone came into my room and kicked all the piles around while I was out dancing to Blister in the Sun at Pogo's on penny draft night, leaving me smelling my way around, trying to find that last t-shirt with a day left in it before heading out the door to yet another class I would sleep through.  By mid-June, everything smelled like ass, I was out of quarters, and I just didn't care how much I stunk anymore.

I had nothing left for July, August, September or October.  Going through the motions, following through on commitments I had made to myself, putting the "season" behind me.  A race like Double Dare is no longer in my bag of tricks.  Those days are behind me.  I don't want to ride my bike for more than twelve hours (especially twelve hours of something in circles at some park) unless it is followed by beer, sleep and a bleary-eyed drive home the next day.  Burned-out, washed-up... whatever.  It's just not my cup of tea anymore.  I wished I woulda made a better run at it back when I had some interest in such self-flagellation.  Not a missed midnight cutoff.  Not a torn sidewall.  Now I just wanna have fun... relatively speaking.*

I also didn't want to push too hard and set myself up for bailing on the Wilkes 100k this weekend.  90%+ singletrack at close to 14mph average.  If you don't bring legs, you will perish and settle in with the pack fodder.  Although I was only out in the woods for 14.5 hours this past weekend, I had plenty of time for quitty thoughts.  I was resigning from races in 2015 I haven't even entered yet.  Thoughts about buying a squishy geared bike and doing nothing but lackadaisically pedaling around the Pisgah this winter and well into next year.  With all this darkness inside me, there was no way I was going out for extra bonus yet pointless checkpoints only to put myself in such a hole that I either would have a terrible time at the Wilkes 100k or avoided it altogether to hide from further painy things.

Despite dressing myself in low ambitions and smelly fitness, I still managed to achieve what some refer to as "goals."  I stood on the top step of a few podiums, lingered on the lower parts of the box a few other times, and finally completed the King of Pisgah Series... which in and of itself is not an easy thing to do.  I spent more than forty hours balls-deep the Pisgah over five events.  A lot can go wrong... but it didn't this year.  I am thankful for that.

I also have to thank Zac for two things:

Going hard for the "W" at PMBAR back in May...

Only to accept my low goals at Double Dare this past weekend. 

We coulda went for it and made prolly six or seven checkpoints on Day One.  I didn't want to push things, risk a DNF, taint my brain (and taint) for Wilkes 100k... just a finish is all I was after.  I know it was hard for him to settle for so few checkpoints.

Personally, I was stoked on the fact that at 6:00PM on Sunday, when the race was over, I was already unpacked, washing machine loaded, and headed to the shower.

Maybe someday I'll have that desire to dig deep and go do something super hard and super stupid.

Someday... but not Sunday.

*I will contradict most of this tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 22

2014 Double Dare: Day Two

5:00AM.  The sound of an orchestra of kazoos playing The Final Countdown shocks me into a state of sudden awareness.  Best start to any day.  The realization that I will finally be a part of a Double Dare Day Two start as a participant, not a guy who failed to finish the day before but stayed up all night drinking by the fire to watch everybody else head back out for twelve hours of fun without me.

We're moving slow.  As expected.  An hour to go before we head back out into the same darkness we finished in the night before.  It's in the mid thirties out, so at least there's no frost on the ground like usual. 

The hour goes by fast.  Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever starts mumbling on the PA system.  Ready to go, I head over to listen.  Something about going up Farlow is all I catch.  I ask Eric to confirm.  Yes.  We are heading straight up the beast that is Farlow Gap, time trial style to our passports, not up the road as is customary... unless you are into unnecessary pain.

I head back to retrieve Zac at the tent. We start in less than eight minutes.  If you don't make your start, you're DQ'ed.  Not good.  He's in the vestibule doing something.  I don't have the energy to ask what.  Eight minutes goes by and I hear Eric calling our names.  Zac is still in the vestibule, but feeling my sense of urgency, he emerges.  We head to the start, they bleep my timing blooper, Zac realizes he left his in the tent, I wait at the edge of the campground for him to fetch it. We're doing great so far.

Up Daniel's Ridge to Farlow.  Zac is riding strong where it's possible to ride a bike.  I'm trying to ride, but am sorta feeling drunk from lack of sleep.  We get to the base of Farlow.  More hike-a-bike.  Look back down the mountain in amazement at the site of all the little tiny lights behind me.  Try to keep my feet dry on the creek crossings.  Almost fall backwards while trying to scale a steep rock section.  Catch myself before tumbling ass over tea kettle, but bust my SIDI buckle into pieces.  Fuck.

A creek crossing without paying attention and I scoop my toe into the water enough to fill my shoe.  Another creek crossing and the rock I was counting on to hold my weight tips over.  The other foot is soaked now.  Angered by the wet feet and busted buckle, I hike in rage.  Passing other riders being hikers with drool coming out of the side of my mouth.  Still taking in the wonder of the strange, bright orange light coming through the trees and lighting the ground in strange patches.  This is the day two experience I was hoping for.  I get to the passports and wait for Zac to get to the top.

Once again, Eric has outdone himself.  The mandatory checkpoint is ridiculously far away (Buckhorn Gap shelter).  So many checkpoints stuck in so many bad places.  I tell Zac there is no glory to be had adding to our 2.5 checkpoints from day one.  We're in good company, as many others have lowballed their expectations right along with us.  We opt for another 2.5 checkpoint kinda day.

I give Bob Moss some of my Little Debbie's brownies, as he was caught with his pants down and left his food behind in a mad dash to make his start time.  Where I'm going, I won't need much.  I'm guessing between five and seven hours to make the mandatory and one for good measure on Bennett.

We head towards the gravel descent.  Zac's best guess, 2,700 feet of descending.  My wet feet become painful rocks.  My hands are throbbing.  Even the easy way out hurts.  We diddy-bop our way over to the climb up Clawhammer Road, and maybe twenty minutes in, my feet and hands are back to normal.  The realization that I will descend Clawhammer for a second time in two days amazes me.  There is no reason to ever do that.

We get to the top, hike up to the Buckhorn Gap shelter (about four hours into the day), Erinna gives us the option to hacky sack volley three times or eat two jalapeno peppers.  We hacky sack successfully, and then Zac eats the peppers for good measure.  1/2 a checkpoint earned.  Zac pockets another pepper for his Ramen noodles later.

Descend back down Clawhammer, bang the right up Bennett and push up to Coontree.

Our one and one and done route.

Down Coontree and back to camp on 276.  No cars almost hit us on this day, and we get back to camp before anyone else.  Drink beer, eat biscuits and tear down a tent that dried nicely in the sun while we were gone.

I got what I came for, a Double Dare finish and a completion of all the events in the King of Pisgah Series.  An interesting collection of results.

1st Single Speed Team (with Zac) at PMBAR
2nd Single Speed at the Pisgah 111K
3rd Single Speed at the Pisgah 55.5K
4th Single Speed at the Pisgah Monster Cross...

and 24th overall at Double Dare... 3rd place in the single speed class.

There were classes at Double Dare?

I guess I should pay more attention.

Double Dare aftermath tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 21

2014 Double Dare: Day 1

On the 2.5 hour drive to Double Dare, Zac and I discuss many things, one of which being the silly people that choose "fun" routes over practical ones whilst doing PMBAR and Double Dare.  We decide to not be those guys.  We shoulda pinky swore on it.

Getting ready before the race.  Zac realizes that he left all his jerseys at home.  I have brought four sleeveless jerseys, all part of a layering plan to avoid wearing a pack on a potential 12 hour ride.  We work out a plan that involves some sharing and the wearing of soiled jerseys on day two.  We are an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

I'll do my best to not lose those that are not familiar with the layout of the Pisgah National Forest from this point on in the interest of making great bike story.

Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever sends us out time trial style starting at noon... to the other side of the forest (South Mills at Bradley), where will will get our passports with ten possible checkpoints.  The team with the most checkpoints wins, one checkpoint will be mandatory.  I'm not gonna move up in the King of Pisgah series no matter how hard I try unless someone above me makes a mistake.  The minimum will do fine for me.

We head out in the same general direction as the other teams.  Zac and I have our route planned, but once I realize how boring it will be to grind mostly gravel and pavement to get there, I ask him if we can take a more "fun" route... more trail.  More gnar.  He's in.  We're stupid.

Pink Beds, Gauging Station Road, South Mills, Squirrel,  Cantrell, South Mills... we run into other riders who are on similar but still different routes.  There's just no easy way to get there and people are making better and worse decisions than ours.  Three hours after we start, we finally get our passports.

The looks on people's faces as they pore over their passports and maps is incredible.  Eric has decided to make this the hardest Double Dare ever.  It is immediately apparent that all ten will be within reach of only the super humans.  I think seven, maybe eight could be attained by the strong teams.  Piles of poison carrots all over the forest.  Untidy bunches.  No logical routes whatsoever.  Temptations aplenty for the greedy checkpoint collectors.  Eric pushing buttons in a dark room.

The mandatory CP is a punishing push up Turkey Pen.  It doesn't loop in very well with anything, but most of the checkpoints don't hook up seamlessly anyways.  Four hours in and we finally get there.  FOUR HOURS TO JUST GET TO THE MANDATORY CHECKPOINT.  Write a haiku or nail a beer can with a slingshot for a half CP bonus.  We do both for no better reason than killing time.  A beer is drank by each of us and we move on.

We select a route with the possibility of hitting four total checkpoints.  I tell Zac that trying to get up into the North Mills area or high up on Laurel Mountain will easily lump more than three hours onto our day... if everything went well.  We decide to stay in the hole that is the South Mills River area, turning our backs on the poison carrot bunches.

We get to the bottom of Cantrell, a place we'd already been to today without knowing it was a checkpoint.  Take the photo.  Move on. 

On the way up the trail that is hardly a trail... more of a stream bed, I can see that Zac still has his punch but is carrying fatigue.  We'd already discussed our lack of a good night's sleep on Friday for our own various reasons.  It was now taking its toll.

While walking gracefully up the stream/trail, Zac asks what it would take to really make a run at this whole race.  I tell him that without decent sleep the night before, we'd have a huge hole to dig out of at 5:00AM on Sunday.  We'd have to start the race with the mindset that we were going for twelve hours, two days in a row.  We'd have to really stay on top of our nutrition and hydration.  At that point, we were 5.5 hours in.  Zac had consumed two water bottles and a beer.  Me?  One water bottle and a beer.  You don't stay on top of your game for twelve hours that way.

At the top of Cantrell, we fill our bottles at the creek.  A decision has to be made.  Go right for maybe a 45 minute (or more) out and back to a checkpoint or skip it and go left.  I know I want to hit the one on Bennett on our way back, so I tell Zac I'd rather save our chips for that hand.  He concurs.  We go left.

We ride Squirrel, South Mills, Buckhorn Gap... finishing up in the dark.  Lights on, an amazing leaf-covered ride down Clawhammer Road.  We blow past the out and back on Bennett.  I know it, Zac doesn't.  When he mentions it, I tell him we shouldn't bother.  There's not much difference in the pride of nailing two or three checkpoints.  We take paved 276 back towards camp... and then we almost die.

Darkness.  An occasional car goes by.  We talk about tomorrow...  and then there's the heart-stopping sound of screeching tires from behind.  Headlights right behind us.  Zac yells.  A quick glance over my shoulder and I see him going into a ditch and the lights are still coming for me.

No one was hit. Zac and I are both in the ditch.  Tire smoke everywhere.  The guy rolls down his window as he drives by... says he never saw us.  Our blinkies blazing, our hundreds of lumens of LED light casting off in the distance illuminating the surrounding trees.  He slurred all his words.  I think I know why he "never saw us."

Bummer, but very exciting.  Hate to have to drop out of yet another Double Dare, but dead would have been a better excuse than a torn sidewall.  Zac is happy that there is no trip to the hospital that would delay his access to his macaroni and cheese (and avocado and tuna and chicken juice)  Adrenaline helps keep you warm for sure.  I know that now.  We roll into camp eight and a half hours after starting, 2.5 checkpoints in hand.  Plenty of time to take care of ourselves, drink a couple beers, and get six or so hours of sleep for day two.

Thursday, October 16

Getting Munga'ed On

Unless you were hiding under a rock, you already know that The Munga was canceled.

Of course, you mighta been hiding under a rock that was just one rock under a pile of other, much larger rocks and not even know what The Munga is (was).  It was going to be a (mostly) self-supported, (sorta mountain bike oriented) non-stop, (unless you want to) two man team, 1,000km race in South Africa.

(actual course map)
Oh yeah, with a million dollar purse.

Several people suggested that I form an alliance with another "internet famous" single speeding individual and try to KickStart our $10,000 entry fee (and expenses). Plausible.  I'd get some social media support from those still within the "industry insider douchebag" circle that still acknowledge my presence, promise that if we win the $100,000 underdog prize (natch), I will match all the KickStarter funds with a donation to some noble bike related charity... what could go wrong?

Yes, the race is a big commitment.  1,000km ain't no joke, especially when you've never done something like that before.  But I'd figure that out.

I had other issues.  Before I decide to do an event, I think everything through.  When I plunk down my (or in this case, your) money, I've got the logistics planned out from my door, there, and back.  I know at times it may not seem that way, but I always have a plan for everything... aside from the racing part.  It always sorts itself out.

I had a hinky feeling about the race though.  The same way I felt about that stage race in Fernie that fell apart and sent Tinker Juarez off in disgust looking for a place to fish as opposed to finishing the race.  Not everything added up, so the idea of asking people for money, training, arranging travel, vaccinations, equipment acquisition...

The fact that no one was taking credit for ponying up the prize money?

"We’ve got a consortium of private South African business investors, keen cyclists themselves… the main guy is the chairman of a South African listed company and they may or may not bring their corporate brand to the race."

Warning flag number one.  

I bailed on the idea pretty early on.  I'm not kidding myself.  I woulda needed to partner up with someone much more motivated than me to pull off the whole "asking people to pay for my fun" thing.  Not my style, but neither is coming up with $5,000 plus some expensive travel plans just to do a bike race (with no singletrack?).

So now the race is over (postponed till next year when the money fairy comes to town), and way more people than I woulda imagined are left pretty disappointed.  I can only imagine.  Sorta like hearing that there are cookies in the breakroom, but when you get there, all that's left are crumbs on a festive serving tray.

But probably a lot worse.

Maybe next year, guys.  How long are those vaccines good for?

No post tomorrow.  More sorting of gear and sleeping before the Double Dare.  Being that I'll be racing up to 24 hours over a 36 hour period and driving home, unloading the car, and passing out... no guarantees on Monday either.

Tuesday, October 14

Preparation Double D

Red Bull Dreamride was little more than a chance to hang out with... I dunno.  Like everyone I know that rides a bike between Charlotte and Tennessee.  I had fun being part of some sort of Red Bull infomercial.  I was bothered by the fact that there were no trash cans/recycle bins close to the action (where the drinking happened).  I guess it woulda looked bad in the drone shots.  Hard to see all the garbage at peoples' feet from above.  Not so hard when everyone is heading out to the shuttles.

Kudos to Oskar Blues.  Only charging $6 for a 19.2oz Stovepipe?  That was pleasantly surprising, since we were trapped on the property with no outside food or beverages allowed.  They coulda reamed people but didn't.  I don't know how expensive the food was.  I ate two Pop Tarts at 6:00AM and didn't see the business end of a Philly cheese steak until about 8:00PM.  That's all part of the diet plan.

Double Dare prep this week.  I'm already behind.  The Oldest Dog in the World decided to have a senior moment Friday night.  Lots of pacing, moaning, and barking... I slept maybe three hours.  I'm still tired.

That does not mean "The Piling" has not begun.

One of the things I hate most about 24 hour races (aside from riding for 24 hours without sleep).  Stuff.  So much of it to gather, analyze, sort, stack (yes, I would make a terrible Tour Divide rider).  I'm gonna have to wear a pack, so whatever.  Too much food, clothing, first aid, lights... stuff.  I hate stuff.

I'm doing whatever I can to minimize stuff.

The world's best ever multi-tool.

2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm Allens, T-25 and a flat head screwdriver.  I should be able to do whatever with these.  Swap brake pads, adjust brake reach, put my crank back on, kill a squirrel.  I'll be selling these totally customizable tools for whatever a Blackburn Toolmanator 16 costs, plus a 5mm from Home Depot and my labor ($20).  I expect to sell none of them.

Calories.  The lazy (and smart) man's choice.  Carborocket 333 Single Serve Stick Packs make things way too easy.  Starting with two full bottles each day and carrying four single serves, 5-6 hours worth of calories and something that doesn't taste like dookie when mixed with creek water.  Ramens and canned tuna, also lazy and warm in the belly for Saturday night.  Pop Tarts and coffee for breakfast.  All the same principle.

Now add in ALL the Little Debbie's Fudge Brownies.  280 calories per.

Times twelve and I haz 3,360 calories, 36 grams of protein, almost 100% of my daily iron, all the fat and sugar.

Zombie Apocalypse fantasy food.  So many calories, portable, and as an added plus, zombies hate diabetics.  Too rich for their tastes.

And the whole time I'm getting all this ready for the Double Dare, I look at the Vertigus that needs to be converted back to racing bike cycle in less than two weeks for the Wilkes 100k.

And all I really want to do is sleep for eight straight hours.

Monday, October 13

Red Bull Dreamline... what I saw

Picture = one thousand words

Many pictures = many thousand of words

Yeah... some people got to ride their bikes this past weekend.