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Friday, June 14

It's a go... as much as it is anything.

So, it's gonna be a thing.

I've decided to go ahead and do this thing tomorrow.

The short on the details:

* You're invited if you know where I live or know someone who does.

* I plan on riding the Backyard Trails from my house around 6:00 PM.  Knowing my group of friends, I doubt we'll roll out earlier than 6:30 PM tho.  One or two tiny loops and if some jumpy people are there, over to the jumps to "oooooh" and "aaaaaaahhhh" at their talents.

* I'll be riding somewhere earlier in the day.  I don't know where or when.  I may be difficult to get a hold of prior to 6:00 PM.  I wanna make the most of my day and pretend to be an "athlete" for a bit.

* We should (will?) be back at my house by 8:00 PM.  If you can't ride/aren't about the ride, just show up some time after then.

* I live in small neighborhood.  Don't park like an idiot.  Lots of street parking.  Don't clog up the works.  There's a giant parking lot less than a quarter mile from my house.

* Bring beer.  A sixer. Cans.  More if you need it.  I'll have a kiddie pool full of ice.  There's a Harris Teeter a quarter mile from here with an excellent beer selection.

* I promise nothing.  I offer nothing.  I want nothing.

* Don't drank and drive.  Turn around, don't drown.  Etc.

* If you need more details and aren't a Facebooker who can see the event page, all the fine print is at the bottom of this post here.

Other than that, come.  Don't make a mess.  I don't wanna clean up after a bunch of filthy animals.  I plan on going to the Cane Creek Cycling Tour at Allison Farm Flow Trail Opening Day Sunday morning, and I don't wanna be crushing your beer cans instead of having fun.

Wednesday, June 12

Can you hear me, Major Tom?

From Wikipedia:

"Buyer's remorse is thought to stem from cognitive dissonance, specifically post-decision dissonance, that arises when a person must make a difficult decision, such as a heavily invested purchase between two similarly appealing alternatives. Factors that affect buyer's remorse may include: resources invested, the involvement of the purchaser, whether the purchase is compatible with the purchaser's goals, feelings encountered post-purchase that include regret."

I wasn't even out the front door at Bike Source before I felt like running back to the counter and begging for my money back this past Sunday.

I'd mentioned a couple weeks ago that if I'm gonna continue to keep doing longer events, I need to start keeping track of my current status in some fashion.  My days of blindly feeling my way around the woods with a number plate on my bike, burning matches willy nilly, slowly losing my desire to continue breathing and moving...

Those days might be behind me.

Not knowing if I've been out for one hour or three, if I'm ten miles from the finish or ten feet, if I should have drank one water bottle or three, if I have any matches left to burn or am I on my last one?

I went all in with the full bundle Wahoo Elemnt Bolt.  I knew I'd want the front hub wart anyways. 

I hate how it looks, but the only thing I would hate more would be getting a bunch of GPS (in)accurate numbers whilst twisting and turning in the woods.  Those folks that say just add 5-10% to your total distance numbers... because your $300 computer isn't as precise as my old $35 Cateye Mini?  Those people should not talk to me.  On a practice commute this week, I hit a wart-free 41.1MPH on my tarck bike (48X18)... ummmmm, no.

The bundle also had a heart rate monitor strap, and that was something that I'm actually interested in for what I'll call "reasons."  Back in 2016, I listened to a podcast about "older athletes," and my only takeaway was how important it is to not burn up your matches early on in a race.  You only get so many trips above your lactate threshold, and then you're dead, figuratively speaking.  My friend Aaron assuaged my stupid desires and loaned/gave me a wrist mounted device, which I had limited success with when using it to do anything other than monitor my sleep efficiency.

I couldn't see it while riding without taking my hand off the bars, sometimes I'd have trouble getting it to function (my fault), or it would lose my pulse and basically become an expensive bracelet.  I gave up on using pretty quickly.

I hate chest straps, and I haven't used one since the mid-90s when I thought I was an "athlete."  I also realize that I'm a stubborn moron who doesn't know what's good for him.  I easily get caught up in the furious pace at the start of a race in an effort to... keep up with some random guy I don't know who's on a single speed... or something stupid as that.  Burnt matches tossed left and right, leaving me gassed halfway through the event with nothing inside me except regret and sadness.

So now I'll have a tachometer and also look as good as my buddy Watts.

And I'll be the guy who knows the top of Wheeler is at blah blah blah elevation, and I'm currently at blee blee blee elevation etc etc etc.

I'm gonna use this thing for a bunch of other stuff, but for the sake of brevity, I'll just keep all that to myself.  I didn't mount the cadence wart... which surely means the bundle savings is all but null and void... but I'm on a single speed, so my cadence is what it is.

I waded right down into the deep end of the buyer's remorse pool until my head was well under water.  If I end up figuring out that this purchase was undoubtedly asinine, at least I'll have purchased that knowledge VS all the FOMO in the "what if?" lobe of my brain.  It does bother me so to put such a thing on my simple riding machine, and I have to admit that I was ready to throw it across the room when I got home and spent at least two minutes just trying to find the power button.

If anyone wants to start a death pool taking bets on how long it will be before I give up on this thing and sell it like a so many complicated geared bikes of the past, please feel free.

Oh, and when I mentioned on Monday that you can mount a Garmin to the aluminum mounting brackets for the CubiCubi lights...

Of course I thought that my Wahoo would fit on there and of course it's totally but only slightly different and doesn't work at all.

Meh.

Some would say I sold my soul, whilst I would argue that I already lost it in a game of Quarters years ago.

Monday, June 10

Sporks don't come with manuals.

This post is terribly timed, but it is what it is.  Longest day of the year right around the corner, and I'm gonna talk about bike lights.

All these tiny boxes showed up from Topeak a couple days before I left for the Trans-Sylvania Epic.  A bunch of "things" from the CubiCubi modular light systems line.  Honestly, I looked at all the boxes, tried to figure out what's what, and then left them on the bench to figure out when I got back into town.

I eventually opened all the boxes and started sorting things out.  What's what?

There's a certain amount of pieces, parts, and options.  The one configuration I'll probably use the most?

Beer bike, grocery fetcher, greenway destroyer and all about towner.  This bike usually has the kinda light that helps others see me, but isn't quite as useful for seeing objects in my path at speed.  1,200 lumens with a 6000mAh battery sure packs a punch.  Above the light and on top of the arm, you can even mount a Garmin (which is ironic for reasons that I'll blerhg about Wednesday).

What's left from all those other boxes?

Batteries, more mounts, cords, tiny screwdrivers, a million allen wrenches... and more.

You see, the modular system means you can mix and match things to suit your needs.


The lamp head can snap on to three different sized batteries for different run times and maximum light output.

You can take the smallest battery and the helmet mount kit...

And end up with a feather weight helmet light that allows you to distribute weight evenly front to back on your helmet... or plug the tiny battery directly to the light to simplify things... or plug in the big battery and have 1200 lumens mounted to your melon... or whatever else you can imagine doing.

Speaking of imagination...

They've got side by side and over under configurations so you can run two lights, a GoPro Session, piggy back a secondary battery for ultra long run times... oh and mount your Garmin (dammit) or use a battery as a power bank that charges some but not all things, or who knows how much you can do with all the options?

I certainly don't.

Honestly, since I was super busy when I got back from TSE,  I only got to fiddle with the options a little here and there.  There was little sense of urgency, being that the sun is out most of my waking day right now.  I'd just walk over to the work bench while cooking dinner or messing about (tiny home benefits) and touch and fondle and scratch my head.  The selection of items I received confounded me oh so slightly.  I've got two bar mount brackets, two big 6000mAh batteries, one 1260 mAh battery, an extra box (housing?), one helmet mount... but only one lamp bit.  So, lots of options, but I can only really use one at a time.

I'd say I can't wait to put this stuff into service, but do I really have a choice?  It really is the most versatile/adaptable light system I've ever seen, and if you're one of those high tech commuters or roadies wanting to run a light for safety, a camera (also for safety), and a Garmin, this has to be the cleanest setup out there.  This entire pile of electronics and plastic and aluminum and screws and straps is 1,000% more capable than I ever will be, which is usually how anything more advanced than a spork is gonna be.

Friday, June 7

Bring a fork or a spoon.

Firstly, a small reminder.  The Dicky 'bout Fiddy Party (deets at bottom of this post) is next (not this) Saturday.

Unless it isn't.  Don't forget that the last rule of Party Club is...

"If it rains or the trails are closed or my backyard is a mess or I decide parties are stupid, I'll update this page and end up at The Spoke Easy drinking Miller High Life and staring at Greg Martinez. Srsly."

That is very much real, and I should update the blerhg and the FaceBook page to relate the status of said party next Friday.  I mean, I was talking to The Pie (who is taking the kid and dogs with her and evacuating the premises) the other night, and was thinking, "What if it's a spectacular weather day?  Wouldn't I rather go to the mountains instead of waiting all day in an empty house to ride the Backyard Trails at 6:00 and then enjoy beverages at 8:00?  It is my (almost) birthday after all."

And there still is a chance that my back yard will be the consistency of Dinty Moore Beef Stew with the coming precipitation.

And if you've never had Dinty Moore, well la tee da.  I guess your parents' country club didn't serve a full menu.

Also, just about every hour or so, I think about how stupid birthday parties are and my desire to be at the Cane Creek Cycling Tour at Allison Farm Flow Trail Opening Day on Sunday instead of cleaning up empty beer cans outta my lawn.  Then add the PITA of getting a bunch of ice and cleaning out the kiddie pool and the disappoint of only three close friends showing up...

or the total ass opposite.

Because I did go to college for five years, and I've seen it unexpectedly go both ways.

So, party mebbe but still just.

This past Saturday at around 11:20 PM, I signed up for the Greenway Classic 50 miler with about a half hour to spare before the price jumped another $30 (ask me how I feel about those price jumps when you see me).

But...

"Due to the 3+ inches of rain and thunderstorms expected over the course of the weekend we are unfortunately going to have to reschedule the Greenway Classic.

We try never to do this as we know you all have spent time training and prepping for the race. That said, we want to be sure that conditions are safe (and fun!) for competitors, and it looks like this weekend’s weather is not going to cooperate with us.

We will send out a reschedule date in the next week. We will automatically transfer all registrations to that date. If, once you hear the date, you cannot make it you are welcome to transfer your registration to a friend.

Thank you all for your understanding and we hope to see you all out at the rescheduled date!"

So, there's that.  I'm saddened because I wanted to use my post-stage race fitness towards something, but stoked that the no refund policy meant rescheduling VS keeping our money and shrugging their shoulders.  Also, being that the majority of the course is on normally closed-to-bikes horse trails, I'll be drinking 100% less horse poop tomorrow.

Mang, I didn't drink one beer Sunday through Thursday night.

Now, what to do with myself?

Wednesday, June 5

The Pisgah Enduro™ '19

I've followed up the Trans-Sylvania Epic with the Pisgah Enduro™ weekend a few times over these many years.  I can remember lying prone in my tent after day one of the Enduro™, my vision turning green, waking up covered in drool.  T-total exhausted.  From just plain not recovered to entirely destroyed.

But when Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever sent me a text on Thursday telling me that the race was almost sold out AND due to a change in Ridgcrest policy, this would be the last time one could ever ride a mountain bike down the Rattlesnake Trail... ?

I'm in.

Dammit.

So, I found myself dragging my duffle bag back out and loading it with a lot of the same items that I just unpacked two days ago.

Drive up Friday after work, get there around 8:45PM, insert myself into one of the rooms in the lodge, notice there are names on clipboards outside each room, assume they're all reserved, move my shit out to the couch, talk to Eric, he tells me that the names are from an event last weekend, move my shit back into the room, drink a few keg beers, and then head to bed.

I'm only in for the one day event because I put off so many things for the Trans-Sylvania Epic and then just put them off again to be here.  On top of that, I signed up for the single speed class, and I'm the only one entered.

So, not really racing as much as I'm riding and enjoying the day and mebbe doing some dick measuring against all the Endurbros with their goggles and visors and pads and squishing and shifty bits.

I start my day by helping load up the first U-Haul truck full of $8,000 plastic bikes, and watching the racers load their DayGlo human forms into the school buses.  I suggest that mebbe we move the full truck to the start so we can start unloading early, that way people can just get on with it when they get up there.  You know, reward the people that gave up their bikes early as opposed to rewarding the "last on/first off" expectant slackers?

So, I find myself in the front seat of a U-Haul with a guy who works for TriBike Transport who tells me all about what they do... and I'm shitting myself in amazement.  I had no idea tri-dorks were so dorky, but I'm a dirty mountain biker type, so mebbe I'm also ignorant.  Anyways, it's an eye-opening ride to the "top," and my reward is that I get to help unload the bikes... which I actually enjoyed.  I made it a personal challenge that we would get an entire U-Haul unloaded before the racers in the buses arrived.  We're mebbe three of four bikes away from getting the job done before the the yellow tubes start chugging into the parking lot.

I see some riders get right to their bikes and start up the road to the actual "top."  I grab my Vassago Meatplow V.8 and join them.  On the way up, I see some missing tape that should indicate a left turn.  I guess some people don't like others having a good time.  Stop, toss some logs across the intersection, move the remaining piece of confirmation tape a little closer to the turn.   Find the same thing at the next left, confirmation tape on the ground.

People are assholes.  Only like 10% of them... kinda like the person in the minivan on the way here on I 40 that though it was her job to keep people from zipper merging into one lane only to try and come in on me without a signal at the last minute.

"Go ahead and hit me.  The left side of my car is already dented and dimpled.  I've got plenty of time this evening to get your insurance information."

I get to the top of Rattlesnake.  I've got two full water bottles, and I honestly wonder if I've checked my cages in awhile to make sure they're tight.

I haven't, and I don't.

I start down, and I can immediately feel my seat tube bottle whacking my calf.  These are my favorite Carborocket bottles, and I don't wanna lose another one (although I lost one in an Uber, so I can't blame the cages).  I slow down, grab my bottle and squeeze out half the contents before jostling it back into the cage.  This is not the easiest thing to do in the thunder chunk at the top of Rattlesnake (nor the smartest), but the idea of stopping in a timed section in the name of safety seems ridiculous... despite the fact that I'm literally racing no one.

I get down to the bottom safely and with two bottles.  Fortunately, my close to the front start meant I didn't run into the angry hiker who was yelling at people and physically getting in the way later.

Mebbe I won't miss Rattlesnake at all in the future.  Them Ridgecrest Christian Conference Center folks apparently don't get "mountain biking" or "fun" or "WWJD."

On over to Kitsuma and down.  I'm super stoked to not be in the Hard Ass class this year.  After a week of riding rigid at TSE, I certainly missed my squish fork and traction and speed and joy.  At the bottom, I eat what I'm considering my "lunch."  Grilled cheese for days, Coke, Pringles, Peanut M&M's, and mebbe a slice of bacon.  Perfect.

On up and over to Star Gap and all it's tight switchbacks, which are waaaaaaaaayyyy better on a fork with moving parts.

I start to fantasize about the possibility of taking this bike to Breck Epic and mebbe squishing all those descents for the first time in all these years.

Mebbe.

Hit the final timed and truncated (due to a landslide that happened last year) segment and that's that.  They'd actually finally fixed the totally washed-out road just a few days before the event, but it was too late to re-extend the stage... because "rules" and "things."

It's just lumpy garvel anyhoo.

Obvs I won the one day single speed class, and fortunately, Eric did not make me get up on a shameful one man podium.  72nd outta 130 or so total folks on day one.  All I did was ride my bike (mostly) down a bunch of sweet descents all day in the sunshine and drink free beer.

Great times at the Pisgah Enduro™ once again, and I'm anxious to see the changes for next year that will be coming with the absence of Rattlesnake and all the mountain bike hating folk up there in those particular woods who think... whatever it is they think.  I bet they don't understand merging either.

First rule of Enduro™, protect thine self lest ye wreck thine self.

Monday, June 3

'19 Trans-Sylvania Epic: Stage Five

Stage 5: Poe Valley

The night before...

All was going so well.

I was in my squeezy leg bags during the unofficial but very much happening nap time at Upper Eagle when I heard someone walk in and look amongst the bunks.  I could tell by the gait and slinkiness that it was none other than Buck.  I considered trying to hide, but I knew he was just start tossing bunks until he found me.  Turn off the squeezy bags, unzip, grab another beer and head to the porch with Buck.

From there, Buck dragged me out into the world.  Over to the Kurtz cabin to have beers with single speeder James and consort with Levi and Lauren.  Then on to the campgrounds to hang with the crew Buck had introduced me to at SSWC '18.  To the dining hall, where the beginnings of a plan to geta head start on the final stage to drink beer and spectate started to formulate.  Then to Rimmey Lodge... and the evening gets fuzzy, and eventually I find myself in the pitch dark trying to find my way back to my bunk sometime mebbe after 11:00 PM.

Monday morning... I counted on being awakened by the kitchen sounds as per the usual.  Somehow, it didn't happen.  I opened my eyes, and it was already 8:00 AM.  I'd done nothing to get ready for today, and it just wasn't gonna happen in time to roll out an hour early.

I am fail.

So get ready, go over and apologize to the guys I'd convinced to join me (that I wasn't joining), and end up at the start feeling like a turd.

photo cred: Cindy C
I ask Chris if he wants to ride together today, being that we're partnering up for the Breck Epic 50+ Duo in August.  He agrees...

I set yet another person up for disappoint.

We head out at a casual pace, but I give it a little bit on the snowmobile trail... look back.  Chris is still with me.  On some double track, I come around fifth place Gary, and I wonder if mebbe I can keep my fourth place after all.  Mebbe even use my minute and a half gap to enjoy a beer that my (former) comrades in arms will have out on the course?

Look back... Chris is back there... a bit.

Get into some single track, things get dicey with a large group getting around a rider, and now I can't see Chris at all.

photo cred: Donovan
I do end up waiting on a climb once or twice, but it would seem that I need to decide if I'm holding up for Chris or mebbe trying to preserve my pointless fourth place.

I go for the latter.

I still stop and drink the hand up beer.  Do what I can to not die on the challenging, greasy enduro section, finish the day still in fourth place, meaning no podium for me all week long in the 50+ class.

After the race, without going into too great of detail, the crowds dwindled pretty quickly as people started to head home post-awards.  Mebbe twenty of us enjoyed ribs and chicken for dinner, Thom and I headed out on a beer run... and came back to about four other people not ready to call it quits.

By about 1:00 AM, it was just Thom, Josh K from Ohio, Ryan the promoter, and myself all staring at each other. 

Good enough for me to call it a day, being that I wanted to be headed home by 6:00 AM the next day.

Once again and for the ninth time, I had a blast at TSE.  If I were to say I've "learned" something from this year, it's that it might be prudent to finally use a computer of some sort.  Riding by feel is starting to not work out so well, being that my "feel" has become desperation and lunacy.  Having some grasp on passage of time and/or miles would go a long way in making me perceive forward motion.

Otherwise, good time, good rides, good year...

Friday, May 31

'19 Trans-Sylvania Epic: Stage Three and Four

Stage 3: RB Winter

photo cred: Chris M
I realized I forgot my beet juice about twenty minutes into the drive to the remote start. I wish that was the worst of it.

I tried to nap the day before, but my head was swirling in circles of exhaustion from Coopers Gap. My sleep that night was equally inexplicably shitty. I have no idea why. I was totally gassed.

All excuses aside, I was hoping to give ‘er today. I lined up at the start, was sitting at the very front of the field when the race went live, and did my best to limit my slide back into the mess early on.

Then we hit the long paved descent.

I’d forgotten about that.

So, coast, spin, coast, spin… watch the groups of geared riders fly by, the whole time looking for 50+ number plates. To be honest, they’re going by so fast, I don’t have a clue. Group after group after group.

Shit.

Finally get into a climbing bit and start making biscuits. Surge past one group. Then another, taking all the shit lines on the double track to try and get back to where I was before the pavement. I manage to make it to the back of the second group that had blown my doors off on the pavement. Then the trail narrowed to one track lined with vegetation. Guess I’ll stay here…

Damn it. The group fumbles a bit in a rock garden, and I get caboosed. A quick scramble was not enough to keep my place at the back of the group, and one rider got around me. Just one tho… no big deal.

And then we hit the enduro stage.

I don’t know how, but I found one of those guys who can’t descend faster than an old man on a rigid bike. I could hear riders getting backed up behind me, but there was really nowhere to go. I “encourage” the guy in front of me, but to no avail. I watch as the group I fought so hard to chase down disappears in front of us and down the mountain.

So that's that.

Out onto some quick rolling garvel, and so many of the people I worked hard to get around on the double track just roll by me. As much as I could tell myself this is a temporary problem, I get hung up on the whole situation.

The rest of the day?

I remember my favorite days here at RB Winter. Wet. Cold. Everyone sliding around and miserable.

Today, the sun is shining, the trail is dry, and people are flying past me on the fast rolling sections. In the chunder chunk, I'm not feeling up the task. I mean, I don’t suck total ass, but I’d seen who’d gotten away from me earlier. It's like an anchor tethering my brain to a sad atoll.

At the aid station, the volunteers say we are halfway done, and I'm ready to… sit down. Cry. Roll around in a little ball like a potato bug? None of these things would get me back to the finish, so I keep moving forward. I feel my stomach starting to cave in a little, but I can’t be bothered.

Forward, forward, forward. Mashing potatoes with my pedal strokes and trying to remember the two beers in the cooler waiting for me.

Pathetic. I know.

Finish.

Somehow, I’ve moved up to fourth overall. I don’t have a clue how. I’m a disaster (in front of me) away from a podium spot, but only a minor personal meltdown from sliding back into fifth or sixth.

So, I’m happy?

Two stages to go… Tussey Ridge tomorrow. I’ve had the worst of times up there and the best, so let’s see how that goes.

Stage 4: Tussey Ridge

The night before was pretty chill… until the moment as I was finishing my final beer of the evening and former promoter Dave Pryor and current promoter Ryan showed up at Upper Eagle.
So mebbe another beer and another as Dave and I discussed old times, what made previous years awesome, what to bring into the fold for 2020…

Another not so good night of sleep and then awake at 6:18AM staring at the bottom of the upper bunk waiting until I hear noise in the kitchen. Another morning of making eggs, bacon, avocado, toast, juice and coffee… something I’d consider a treat, but after so many days in a row… mebbe not so much.

Plenty of time to kill before the 10:00AM start. Cuddle in a bunk with Cody and watch the UCI World Cup race, which only means I lost track of time and headed to the start with mostly empty water bottles. Doh.

Once again, I’d forgotten how this stage starts. Once again, I’m dropped on the garvel and pavement pretty early on. I can see 50+ fifth place Gary disappear outta sight. Meh. This year, we’re headed up the back of Tussey Ridge and “down” the ridge. I get into the conga line going up, and when we actually (but not really) start heading down, I find out rather quickly that riding a rigid fork “down” is harder than going up. There’s no real momentum to aid my progress, and it’s also difficult to punch through the rocks. Oh well.

Did I mention it’s hot and humid and nasty and sunny?

Get to the bottom and over to Longaberger Trail. I used to like this trail a lot. I also used to like SPAM and Velveeta and Bud Light and Nickleback. I guess tastes change over time. I was expecting the aid at the start of this section and some Pringles love, but it wasn’t there. I go into my dark place.

I fuckle butt my way through it, gett to the aid station, gulp two cups of Coke and wad some Pringles in my Pringles hole. On and back over to the top of Tussey Ridge. I finally feel like there is a reason to live again, and I make up a few places overall with some renewed energy… a pull back in the right general direction.

Down the Enduro section, and I can tell a storm was coming. A literal storm. What would a year of TSE be without getting caught in a downpour?

Not TSE, that’s what.

Hammer down, get over to the Lake Loop that I’ve only ridden after six beers in 2017. I can only say that it’s waaaaaaaaaaaay more fun with full sobriety and semi-hinged personality. Just as I pop outta the Lake Loop, the sky opens up. I'm okay with this predicament. It was going to be a boring ride to the finish, but lightning, winds, and a downpour can change that.

Come into the finish with a three day single speeder and five day single speeder James. I lost a ton of my lead on fifth place, but would be heading into the final day with a minute and a half to play with.  A spot on the podium, now just a dream that would require someone to implode ahead of me.

Which while finishing in the top three would be sweet, you really just don't wish a final day implosion on anyone.

Oh well, off to the Pisgah Enduro tomorrow for the one day event, and then I'll finish off the TSE tale on Monday when I'm back.