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Thursday, February 23

Raining Excite

Right now, my excite is all about next week.  I received the schedule of events for the 2nd Maxxis Appalachian Summit next weekend.  Still can't believe I'm getting in on this.

The word "presentation" is used four times, as in "Presentation 1," "Presentation 2," etc.  That means I'm going to have to sit still and listen... for what looks like two hours but in four half hour increments over two days.  I think I can do that.  I used to ride my bike for 24 hours at a time.  This should be marginally easier.

The rest of the schedule looks like a dream.  Coffee, breakfast, bikes, lunch, bikes, dinner, beer, bikes, beer. Repeat.

I'm aware of the fact that the "dream" isn't always all that.  I've borne witness to such media events in the past.  Lots of time standing around with mostly dudes between all the occasional riding.  The word "shuttle" is sprinkled in there quite a bit... although I've ridden a bit in the area last year.  Ups will still have to be earned at some point.  They're everywhere.

I'm wondering if I'm going to come out of this ahead or behind fitness-wise.  Access to the incredible food at Mulberry Gap three times a day and coolers full of Terrapin beer VS a smorgasbord of good trail so close by?  Which one's going to come out on top?  I mean, this will be March, the time of year when I start thinking about how much I don't want to feel like a lump of shit in April.

April.  6 Hours of Warrior Creek.

Who's registered? Me and Nick "Dip 'n Spray" Barlow, that's who.  We struggled a bit last year staying on the straight and narrow path for sure.  Looking at the archives, I see that I had a shitty day finding out that my lease was up, the rent was increasing, and the house was already on the renatl market all within a couple hours.  I was driven to drink and found Barlow out and about doing the same (despite our mutual agreement to do the opposite of that).  A late evening followed by waking up to a dead battery in the Honda Fit of Rage at 5:50AM.  Fuzzy/angry heads do not make fast laps.  We ended up being a couple minutes off the winning pace every lap all day long.  Meh.

This year.  Magic.  We're sequestering ourselves from the rest of the world in an undisclosed location close to the race the night before.  There will be beers, but fewer in number and in a controlled environment, so okay.

But we're both gonna need a solid March to bring anything close to an A-game, because we both agree that we're probably C students right now.  Mebbe C+ if you factor in facial hair.

Tuesday, February 21

Sports E-nthusiast

I may or may not have helped sponsor an e-bike at this past weekend's Winter Short Track Race.

For those that don't understand the difference between a regular bike and an e-bike other than the letter "e," here you go:

Sometimes the difference is not terribly subtle.  Sometimes it is.

Now that we're all on the same page...

The bike was there and the rider was willing and the rules... well,  there aren't any against racing on an e-bike.

We, the benevolent sponsors, only asked that he start at the back of the Super Sport field, not really influence the race, and if called out, continue on as long as he felt comfortable... oh, and try not to win.  No matter what, his "results" would surely get stricken one way or the other.

It only lasted a few laps.  He was noticed about ten minutes in, called out, asked to stop... went one more lap and then returned to rejoice in the fact that he went from a regular old beginner class rider to getting one step away from a podium in the Super Sport class with plenty of time left on the clock to keep moving up.

A decision partly fueled by a few beers but mostly because there's just not any rules that say it can't be done.  Because... e-bikes.  They're coming at us pretty fast right now.  Quicker than we can decide who gets to ride them and where.  These things are made by bike manufacturers and sold in bike shops, and they aren't necessarily that much more expensive compared to other higher end bikes... that won't go as fast or far with the same effort.  To the regular Joe-guy buying a bike with $7,000 to $10,000 burning a hole in his pocket... you want this one with Turbo or this one without?  I guess we can pretend "that guy" doesn't exist.

I know exactly how Dr Ian Malcolm feels about that.

If I get into my later years and this is the only "how" that I can get around in the woods still... sure.  Or maybe if some other health condition sets in that limits my abilities to do the one thing that floats my boat or finds my lost remote... dunno.

But what is interesting is that everything I've heard about local encounters with e-bikes (outside of interfering in a certain bike race) has been nothing less than positive.  No tales of e-bikers tearing up trails or bombing single track and barreling other users over.  Nobody looking to terrorize STRAVA (not that I  would care if they did).  Just people having a good time in the woods instead of watching TV or playing fantasy sports balls.

Such a gray area, this whole e-bike thing.  I don't even know where I stand or if I even need to... or who even does?

Except mebbe racing.  I'd like to see some rules there... because some might say that common sense should keep the e-bikes out, but we all know there's nothing common about common sense.

Monday, February 20

Updating...

Did something I haven't done since November, maybe even October.  I put my bike on a car and drove to a local trail.  That felt strange.

I had made the wide bar swap from my Blackburn Chamber HV floor pump to the Stickel Meatplow V.6 a week ago, but hadn't got a chance to ride it yet.

For those who like number things, the old bars were XC crabon risers (690mm), the new bars are aluminum flats (750mm).   The crabon Enve flat bars on the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 are 700mm for the sake of comparison, a length that was determined with much riding and fiddling and chopping.  No, I don't know my bar lengths off hand.  I had to measure them.  I'll forget those numbers in a week or less.

With time for a longer local ride, I headed to the US National Whitewater Center.  Dunno the last time I was out there,  but trail honcho Leaf Life told me there was more trail added recently.  That should serve to kick my ass with loads of climbing and more importantly, for the sake of these bars, descending.  Why?

This is my Pisgah bike primarily.  I feel sometimes as if wider bars would feel better on the descents, but it's just that.  A feel.  No real evidence other than what's been shoved down my throat by the fake news and enemy of the public, the liberal bike media.

The USNWC is no Pisgah tho.  FWIW, I did turn on my STRAVA.  Another first.  I've never had it on for a real mountain bike ride before.  Strange, but I wanted some idea how much trail is out there now... but also realizing that twisty trails make for some bad data, but whatever.  28-30 miles.

Things I now know:

The Stickel Meatplow V.6 with a 120mm fork (designed for 100mm/rigid), wide bars, and 650b+ (and a half) tires make this thing feel slow in the twisties.  I was quickly reminded that there's a reason this is my Pisgah bike setup.  Oof.  That was a long ride.

Speaking of which, 28-30 of tight single track at @10 miles an hour means I should think about bringing food next time... or at least put Carbo Rocket Half Evil in my bottles.  Hitting the Goat Hill Climb around mile 20/hour two with nothing in the tank... with the power line climb still looming, eeeesh.  Let's just say that I saw some of my STRAVA rankings before clicking it to private.  I wasn't lighting any records on fire for sure.

Wide bars and tight local trails.  I don't know how people do it.  Trees.  They're everywhere.  Close together.  Threatening pinkie knuckles.  Fuck that.

I missed the TOGS on my Vertigo Meatplow V.7

I didn't realize how often I use these on a normal ride.  My thumbs were constantly going up on top of the bars searching for the helpful nubbins.  Nothing.  I missed that position all day long... but this is my Pisgah fun bike, so... I gotta figure out if I wanna throw $20 at a bike I ride ten times a year.  It's only $20 though, but I did figure out that they won't play nice with the position of my Knog Oi bell, so molar problems with molar solutions.

If I learned one thing (and end up doing no things), it's that I'm not going to take the TOGS off my favorite bike that I ride 95% of the time.  Clutch.  Super bummed that the one color I'd want to order for the Stickel Meatplow V.6 is out of stock.  RIP purple.

Anything else?

I'm not going to make any changes until I can get up to the real mountains... but, the next few weeks?  We've got a big Tour duh Charlotte prep weekend coming up (anyone have some push brooms we can borrow?).  Then, there's only two weeks till the biggest event in Charlotte (that involves riding all over town and racing and beer and food and friends).  After that, there's just a couple weekends before the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek (which it looks like Nick "Dip 'n Spray are going back up to get our dicks beat off again), then a family related trip... and then getting ready for the always stacked May, so... the "season" begins?

Huzzah.  I guess.

Wednesday, February 15

What just makes that little old ant...

When UPS says "out for delivery" and it's 8:30PM, it doesn't matter if the box on the truck is basically full of something I already have and won't be using for a month or so.  My heart still hurts a little.

But she did show up at 8:34PM, so okay.

I spent way too much time looking at all the tire options last week trying to make smart choices.  I ended up sticking with the tried and true Ardent 2.4/Ardent Race 2.2 combo for this year's making of great bike race.  Oh yeah, a 27.5X2.30 Tomahawk for the rear of the By:Stickel because there is no substitute for that.

Mang, I love that tire on there.  I should probably ride this bike more.  It won't be making great bike race, but whatever.  I also threw a Minion DHF+ on the order, because although I have a prototype one already, I don't have a sponsor-friendly production model with all the acronyms on the sidewall.  I may be unprofessional, but I do what I can (that doesn't require much effort) for those that do for me.

Speaking of which, I placed this order the day before I got the invite to the Maxxis Appalachian Summit.  In case the irony is lost on you, I stuck with what I know because I was afraid to try something new.  Now I'm gonna have the opportunity to try all kinds of tires... right after I locked myself in for the "season."  I didn't quite max out my tire credit with Maxxis, so mebbe if they don't charge me for any damages at Mulberry Gap, I might get something I end up liking molar betterer.

I got out of bed on early Tuesday... because heat and dog staring at me with no eyes and sleeping against a wall because we're still not in our bedroom that was crushed by the tree and I got sick of just staring at the wall I'd hit my head against multiple times in the past so many hours.  With time on my hands and a blog already written, I went about to working on the two upside down bikes sitting in the room.  I couldn't mount fresh tires without waking up the house, so I rebuilt a bottom bracket, did a gear swap... stared at the pegboard... and fell into a rabbit hole.

Headset spacers, cassette/SS spacers, pedal washers, headset parts, bottom bracket spacers, wavy washers, headset races, seat post collars, rotor spacers... cylindrical and circular things all commingling on as many hooks as they took up on the wall.  I couldn't handle this disarray that has caught my eye more than once over the past many months.  Everything off the pegboard for the sortings.

I don't even know what some of these things are.  I mean, I have guesses based on their inner or outer diameter, but just guesses.  I have a vast supply of thin plastic washers that look like they have a 30mm ID.  Where did they come from?

Anyways, end game is to get them sorted so the next time I need "this," I'm not sorting through stacks of "that" and "the other."  Not throwing anything away tho.  Who knows when I might need fifteen 1mm thick 30mm ID washers or a super lightweight Cane Creek AER headset upper or a 34.9 Amp Research QR seat collar?

Srsly, who knows?  Please advise.

Tuesday, February 14

I should have set an alarm

I've had my head up my ass for some time apparently.  Quite a bit ago, I was playing around with some prototype stuff for Fix It Sticks, makers of the T Way Wrench that I thought was pointless until I got one and now find myself passing over the single Allens and y-wrench on my bench in favor of this perfect tool.

Old image obvs, because Sizemore still has eye parts in his head part and there's no hole in the elbow of my flannel shirt.

I was waiting until the prototypes were a "real thing" a person could buy before I mentioned them, but apparently I'm not very good at Internet because they've been out there longer than I thought.

This is what I'm carrying at work right now.  White tire lever prototype, black production tire lever, and 15mm Axle Nut Wrench.

I used to carry two Park Tool tire levers and a Surly Jethro Tule, neither of which would fit in my Tülbag.  I have to leave all this with my bike when I go into the courthouse, because no tools allowed... because tire levers kill more people than vending machines every year.

With the Surly 15mm, I could never get my tarck nuts tight enough by hand without it hurting my palm... until someone pointed out to me that I can stand on it and get things tight enough that way.  Slipping rear wheels suck on tarck bikes.

So when Fix It Sticks sent me the stubby prototype 15mm wrench, I assumed it might not be enough to tighten my tarck nuts sufficiently due to its size.  For years, I've either used the "stand on it" method at work, or if I'm at home, I break out the gigantic pedal wrench I got from the Trans-Sylvania Epic years ago.

This makes my tarck nuts super tight.

But I guess that's why they sent it to me, so I could find out and report back.  And I did.

15mm wrench on the Replaceable Edition Fix It Sticks in T-handle mode.

Time and time again, I was able to tighten it just as well as if I had used the other methods.  I know this, because I would hog them down with the giant wrench or by standing on the Jethro Tule, and I could still break it free by hand using the Fix It Sticks 15mm... without hurting my hand parts.  If I ever stood on the Jethro or used the pedal wrench, I'd surely have to loosen it with my feet.

As far as the tire levers go, I know I'm just gonna get a lot of "you should be able to remove a tire with your bare hands, little man" comments.  What can I say?  I run some super durable, not very pliable tires on some ancient rims on my work bike.  I appreciate all the help I can get when I need to fix a flat.  Plus, my manicures are expensive.

They attach to the Replaceable Edition Fix It Sticks ONLY, and when snapped on these long steel tools that can handle 40nm of torque (the steel part, not the plastic tire lever), you don't have to worry about snapping levers on stubborn tires.  These things are beefy.

I'm going to have to go ahead and give both these items my Seal of Semi-Approval tho.

Why semi?

I like these tools a bunch... but I only have one set, and I'm too lazy to swap them from my messenger bag to my Hip Monkey fanny pack when I'm transitioning from messenger to commuter and back.  I just have an assortment of tools that I've scabbed together in there.  It's partly laziness but mostly I'm afraid I'll forget to put my Tülbag back in my pack before heading home and that's when I'll probably need them the most.

So more or less, I'm giving myself my Seal of Semi-Approval.  Not the tools actually.

Monday, February 13

Pisgah+

Waking up a 5:20AM is a bit difficult when you took a few too many Torpedoes to the hull the night before, but when it's not your ride plan, you do what you gotta do.  A strange three mile bike ride under a giant glowing moon later and I'm comfortably in Kangalangamangus's car headed in a westerly direction.  I haven't been to Pisgah since November, which is a bit unprecedented for me this time of the year.  Blame it on my toe, the Tour duh Charlotte assplorings, or just some sort of apathetic feels towards car travel.  Dunno.

So even tho the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 has done nothing more than hang on the wall since my last trip, I decided to go this way:

I hadn't the chance to actually ride the new Minion DHR+ tire on super demanding trails yet.  Shit, it's got mostly road miles on it so far.  It was with much excite that I would be relearning my 1,000 yard Pisgah stare with all this meat up front.

Corwin's sorta-homemade remote lockout... I think that's a door spring.





I didn't get any images of Luther because by the time I got to the bottom of a descent, tossed my bike off the trail, dug around for my phone, pulled up the camera app... there went Luther.

Unreal sleeveless day in Pisgah in February riding a route I've never done before in such a way so much buenos.

The Minion DHR+ tire was pretty solid as far as downhill performance.  I could get away with a little more than I could with the Ardent 2.4, but I have to admit that I can feel the extra (almost) pound when climbing and cruising, along with the added rolling resistance of six PSI less up front.  That and I run a bigger than normal rear tire when I go plus up front, so there's even more weight and rolling resistance just so the back end can keep up with the front... sorta.

Piece of advice tho.  An almost worn-out Ikon 2.35 has a hard time keeping up with everything that an almost brand new DHR+ can handle.  Being cheap has its penalties.

Anyways, a much needed trip to Pisgah to help stoke the fire a bit.  I need to get back up there ASAP.  By the time we were hitting the good stuff on Horse Cove, I was finally breathing through my eyelids correctly on the descents.  Dicky getting his groove back for sure.

I can hear Spencer/Trace/Fletcher/Middle Fork calling my name.

Friday, February 10

Once More Into the Douchey Fray


I'm not sure who was drinking at the time the decision was made and exactly how much had been consumed, but someone decided to invite me to the 2nd Maxxis Appalachian Summit in March.

Normally for these kinds of things, a company will invite a "select group of journalists" to attend.  "Industry" insider douchebag media types.  Ladies and gentlemen who make their livities crafting phrases and stories from big words like "scalded" and "monkey" in order to describe a bike, an adventure or an excoriated primate.  Veterans of wordsmithery.  The very thing that I've proven not to be.

Sure, I had my brief three year run writing for the brilliant seven-times-a-year compilation of all things mountain bike known as Dirt Rag Magazine.  We all knew I quit that long ago after discovering that it was a lot of work coming up with new thinky thoughts worth reading... at least worth it to a paying subscriber.  You get these words here for free, so my concerns regarding their quality are few and far between.  You get what you pay for, assuming you have solar panels and get your electricity for zero dollars.  If you're on the grid, you might be not be getting a good value for the amount of money you're spending to illuminate your monitor with this mental scribble.  Consider dimming your screen a bit.

Anyways...

I've only done this kinda thing once before, on behalf of Dirt Rag... mostly because I was already going to be in the same area at the same time.

My one day stint as an "industry" insider douchebag media guy.  The product launch of the 2014 Rocky Mountain Instinct, which went down the day before the '13 BC Bike Race (as I was in town for the makings of great, albeit diarrhea-soaked, bike race). 

I went, listened, looked, rode and drank as much free beer as I could until I was the last douchebag at Rocky Mountain HQ.  What can I say?  I knew this would probably be my one and only chance to be a real douchebag, and I was going to make the most of it, because...

And then later that day, I got to feel the sharp end of the stick poking me about the liver and head when I needed to get back to my hotel room and bust out an actual professional'esque product launch... thing, and get it done that night because the next morning I'd start racing and living out of a tent for a whole week.

 Ahhh... memories.  Also the life lesson that "living the dream" is anything but.  These guys work... and they have to sit and listen to people talk about things.

Which is bound to happen at the Maxxis Appalachian Summit.

I don't know if I'm expected to attend these kinds of things, or if I'm even wanted there.  I have a tendency to fart in public... and also snore when not fully entertained.

There will be lots of the schralpings and beer and standing around with real "industry" insider douchebag media people humble-bragging about "this one time in New Zealand" or "so I was hanging out with Missy Giove when..."

That kinda thing.

And beer and hot tubs and squishy bikes with shifty bits (not sure if that goes in the plus or minus column) and probably lots of stickers and trucker hats.  I'll also get to hang out with my stupid friend Aaron, and he tells very funny jokes (not the serious kind tho).

Regardless of my not knowing what I'm really supposed to be doing there, I'm going to make the most of my second last chance at being on the "inside" because certainly this has to be the last one.

Has to.