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Wednesday, January 17

Snow Day Faux Productivity

This is the perfect day for a "snow day."

I had so much free time this past weekend and so little to do.  I did manage to eat enough to see a new number in the ones column on my scale for 2018, so there's that. 

Oh yeah, all while still keeping some sort of streak alive for days ridden in a row.  I don't know when it started tho (some time right after the move?), so there's also that.

And then I went to work yesterday and somehow new things show up in the mailbox and requests from 2018 sponsors for information and such...

Yeth, somehow despite my lack of intentions to do much actual making of great bike race in 2018, I remain the most relevant irrelevant person in the "industry."  Perhaps they're banking on the long game, my intentions to dominate the 50+ class in 2019.

Seems like a risky plan.

I have to do them a solid at some point, but until such time that I have actually played with the new things, why pre-blerhg about them?

I am excite about finally making a purchase to address the one bottle cage issue on the JaBronson that would make rides in Pisgah (and the upcoming Send-ona trip) difficult without a hydration pack.

I was really looking hard at the Bontrager hip pack that carried a bottle, but as soon as I saw this, I knew it was more in line with what I wanted.  The Weevil Outdoor Supply BurroSack.

Yeth, I am getting quite the collection of hip/fanny/bum bag/sack/pack things.

Anyways, I like the wide padded hip strap a lot (with strap management system THAT ACTUALLY WORKS), but this is what really turns me on:

I can fit my Olympus TG3 in the pocket WITH the fisheye lens attached.  I can also get it in and out without having to remove the pack or spin it on my waist.  I plan on loading the other pocket with JaBronson friendly tools, so my main Tülbag doesn't have to have single speed and JaBronson stuff in it.  The JaBronson is a needy beast when it comes to tools, spare hanger, 11 speed link... so it's gonna get its own Tülbag to go in my left hip pocket.

It's got the other bells and whistles I was hoping for in such a thing.  Key leash, divider pocket for a cell phone, secure bottle holstering... I can't tell you how many beers it will hold because I only have bottles in the fridge right now, and I'm not going outside until later today for snow day supplies.

And if it matters to you, it says on their site that the BurroSack is designed & manufactured by Weevil Outdoor Supply Company, so made in the USA?  I looked all over for a "Made in..." label, but couldn't find one, so I'm hoping I created a job or something with my dollars spent.

Monday, January 15

I need to speak to a manager

This past week, I was considering racing The Whole Enchilada on Saturday, a 35 or so mile race on all the trails at the US National Whitewater Center.  Just around $50 for the low hanging fruit of a challenging, nearby race.  Not that I would do terribly well, but I'm familiar with the trails, and I'd be home in the early afternoon.

Anyways, the excuses made themselves.

* Rain in the days leading up to Saturday made me believe (wrongly) that the trails would be a red clay mess.

* A desire to rake the leaves at the old rental in order to bring up the curb appeal so someone else will rent it so we don't have to pay for it anymore.

* $50 is still $50 (or three twelve packs).

So, I opted out.  Instead, I spent four hours raking and bagging at a hurried pace that I knew I'd pay for in terms of sore muscles that never get used for this (or any other) type of activity.  Seriously, I'm gonna need to do some squats before any leaves start falling next year.

When I got home, I suited up and rode over to the winter short track course.  I was convinced that the Backyard Trails in my neighborhood would be a muddy mess... but as I rode through a bit of them on the way over, they were not.

But a plan is a plan, even if it's stupid.

Get to the short track, run into Chris W. in the parking lot, head out for a couple laps "with" him.

with = he drops me, waits, drops me, waits... ad infinitum.

Anyways, they've added some new stuff to the course.  Most notably, a technical A-line climb out of the woods and an optional, more lengthy, gradual B-line.  It takes me a few runs to figure out how to make the A-line work on the single speed.  I start thinking...

"Mebbe I should race this year... "

It would give me a reason to put down that cookie.  Mebbe have one or two less beers.  Provide a distraction for a bit.

I consider how much easier it would be to make the climb if I got rid of the 3.0/2.35 tire combo.  A plan is made.

Wake up Sunday, grab the lighter 24 spoke Industry Nine/NOX wheels off the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6, mount the Rekon 2.6 up front.  Dig out a 2.1 Maxxis Pace that I won at PMBAR last year.  Put it in the rear.  I've always wondered if I'd ever use it.  What's a 2.1 good for except garvel and short track racing?  Swap from a 19 tooth cog to an 18.  Drop 1.65lbs of rotating weight off the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 in the process.

I go out the door to meet Jeff and Chase on their way to the course.  Get there and one lap later, I can tell this set up is way faster.  Also, I find out that the Pace may not be an all-conditions tire.

We only do a few laps before someone says "brewery," and then we're hanging out in the parking lot.  Discussions had about the actual racing that begins next week.  I'm talking to fellow single speeder Rich T. about the schedule, and he mentions something about the start time.

1:00PM.

1:00PM?

I don't know what I was looking at, but I thought the SS class went off at 11:00AM, which would allow for some quality racing AND some time to stand around in the woods drinking beer and yelling at people.  1:00PM means that the juniors are after us, and then the crowd thins down as the Super Sport and Expert Classes take to the course for the final race of the day.

Yeth, I've been spectating for years.  Yeth, I didn't really remember how this all works.

*sigh*

I could race an hour earlier in Sport Men 40+, but that sets me up for two pathetic scenarios:

I win and get called (somewhat rightly) a sandbagger.

Reality hits me in the face, and I get my doors blown the fuck off (somewhat likely).

Lose, lose scenario.

So now I have a bike totally set up for something I don't know if I have any interest in doing.

Someone remind me if I've already done this before.  Thank.

Wednesday, January 10

Bussa

As per my usual this time of year, the moments between 7:55AM and 8:25AM are spent wandering around and gathering clothes and putting them on my body parts.  Jackets, base/poly/wool layers, gloves... wool socks, natch.  I may not get out the door at exactly 8:25AM every day, but damn near close.

Yesterday, I head into The Pie's office to grab my tarck bike to put it closer to the front door.  I went to lift it out of the stand and the saddle came up... without the bike.  Hmmm.

Okay.  The rear clamp bolt on my who-knows-how-old Thomson seat post had sheared off at the head. 

I am perplexed.  I rode home the night before in the dark, numbed by a 34° rain and a poor selection of clothing.

But so numb that I wouldn't notice my saddle wonking around in between my legs while riding?  I have no idea when it broke, but the washer somehow made it home to be found on the floor.

The timing of this broken bolt is not lost on me.  The results of a January La Vida Bachelor weekend were apparent when I stepped on the scale yesterday.  I'm at the "pump the brakes" moment.

Not quite the "slam on the brakes" tho.

That and the night before my two inch larger in the waist Dickies work shorts were waiting on the front porch when I got home.  I was feeling no shame about the purchase, being that my regular 29" waist shorts are just a little tight for my extra winter girth AND a tucked-in base layer.  Just about the same tightness you feel on Thanksgiving afternoon (not evening).  Not "I can't breathe" tight, but definitely "this is not helping my internal organs function" tight.

I did just replace the broken pink Fizik demo saddle with the WTB saddle from the JaBronson that was replaced with an Ergon SME3 (so choice) recently. 

I can't say that I used a torque wrench, because I didn't.  I only break out the torque wrench to install a saddle if carbon rails are involved.  Otherwise, a bit of a turn after snug.

So anyways, it's 8:18AM.  I got seven minutes before I gotta go to work.  Consider the options.  I regretted riding the 38X18 equipped By:Stickel to work last week.  Too many long runs, so not gonna do that again.  Grab a bolt outta my 27.2 Thomson drooper and a loose 4mm Allen key, get busy.

Still out the door by 8:25AM.  Sweet.

But also, despite my lack of "goals" and a real "season," mebbe it's time to spend a little more money in the produce aisle.  Dammit.

I so wished I woulda ate a half gallon of ice cream this past weekend.

Tuesday, January 9

Regressive Progress

This is the most noncommittal I've ever been in January.  I've managed to lock down two "activities" thus far.

I registered Watts and I for PMBAR.   This is no surprise to anyone.  I will do this event until I'm either:

1. Dead
2. Unable to ride a bike (for reasons other than dead)
3. Nuclear war (probably falls under #1 tho)

I think that covers all possible scenarios.

Anyways, we're registered via a King of Pisgah entry, but the rest of yinz have to wait until January 12th to get in... but don't dilly dally.  It sells out in hours, if not minutes.

So there's that and the fact that Bill Nye and I sat down the other night and bought our tickets for Send-ona Mancation '18.  I've been wanting to go out there for years, but... things and stuff.  All it took was a little arm twisting (and death threats) from Matt McFee of Hermosa Tours, and I decided there was no better time than the present.  My "off year" before mebbe giving it one decent go at being a 50+ racer (big mebbe).

I do love me some desert riding, but I've had enough of Moab, and Fruita didn't quite float my boat (it's me, not you).  I do have some minor reservations about riding in Sedona, based mostly on this ridiculous trail:


Matt has assured me that he's not going to take us there.  I don't think I'd wanna see it from a helicopter.  My fear of heights, which is exacerbated by any increase in exposure, is bananas.  It's not getting any better as I get (much) older.

I made this on Sunday morning...

mostly because on Saturday of this past La Vida Bachelor Weekend, I did this:

* Woke up on Bill Nye's couch with a self-inflicted headache.  I may have peed in a Fiji bottle in the middle of the night.

* Rode home in 14° temps, my headache enjoying the icy cold squeeze.

* Showered, watched a movie, fixed my Spurcycle bells, watched another movie... all while scrolling Facebook/IG and thinking about doing something.

* Took note of all the hardy souls that either got on the trainers or went outside to ride or do trail work.

* Watched another movie.  I thought about going under the house to the crawl space/murder room and getting out The Pie's trainer and setting it up in front of the TV.  I could ride for an entire movie.

* Decided to not do those things (aside from watching another movie).  I'm not going to get "fit" in one day.

* Swapped the front tire on the Vertigo Meatplow V.7.  More about that later.

* Called my mom to see if she needed anything.  She did.  I put on some "clothes" and left the house.  I found a blown-out pocket zipper on my Maxxis puffy coat that caused me some dismay that set back my departure quite a bit.  I had to leave, the task of fixing it incomplete.

* Stopped at a grocery store on the way home.  Purchased pizza, beer, and a 20oz Coke.  They threw the shame in for free.

* Fixed my zipper.  Watched more movies until it was way later than I normally want to be in bed.

Sunday, I woke up in mine own bed.  Late.  Awesome.

Had to kill time until a planned ride with Bill Nye (and eventually Mills) at the USNWC trails... when it got slightly warmer.  Pop tarts, coffee... left over pizza.

And then make a shitty meme that encapsulates my entire weekend.  Not being totally engrossed in the concept of making great bike race is truly... odd.

But I do like pizza tho.

Monday, January 8

Worth the price of submission

Over New Year's weekend, I was loading up bikes on the back of the Honda Fit of Rage.  The regular fitment dilemmas.  Your post up, my post down, my bars forward of your seat post, your bars... watch the brake levers...

*sigh*

On the way to the USNWC, Mills's bike was not drooped and mine was.  We're talking to some other guys in the parking lot while I'm loading up for the drive home, and I'm not playing close attention... his post is down.  Hit the button.  I can see the look on Mills's face.  It's not good.  It's communicating terror but the mouth part is silent.

His post all the way up.  He says, "You just broke your bell."

Meh.  I ripped out the hammer/spring/lever assembly.

I do love my Spurcycle bells.  A happy Kickstarter supporter and owner of both a raw and a black bell, made right here in 'Merica.  I feel like I'm hugging JOBS every time I sound off with my "ding ding."

Anyways, they ain't cheap.  They were slightly less when I bought them, but now you're looking at $49 and $59 respectively for the raw and black bells.

Shit.

I can't see buying a new one, just on principle.  Mebbe I just don't deserve to have nice things.  I'm a moron, and I broke my bell doing what a moron does. 

I figure that I'll reach out to Spurcycle and inquire about possible repairs.  Mebbe $20 with round trip shipping to fix my $60 bell, making it then an $80 bell?  Of course, I'll try my hand at bending the whole thing back into shape, but what shape should it be to begin with?  I have no idea how to tear one apart or put it back together.  Dammit.

An email on Monday and a response on Tuesday.

"Sorry to hear about your bell trouble but the good news is that it is a pretty easy fix if you're the least bit handy."

The great news is that they sell spare parts.  I click the link.  I shit my pants.

$4? WTF?  I was sad about a $4 part?

Anyways, there was a link to a video demonstrating the repair, and it looked so easy that even mine own moronic hands could handle it.  I noticed that they also had replacement rubber foot grommets... for $2 each.  I had screwed up the one on my tarck bike entirely moving it from bar to bar to bar, re-positioning, and perhaps over-torquing it.  The one on my Vertigo Meatplow V.7 was not in that great of shape from all the half-assed shimming I did trying to get the bell to clear my brake lever (before getting the Lindartets Belltower), so I added a couple to my cart.

Click, click, click... shipping and billing information... wait for that moment when I find out that shipping and handling on my $8 worth of parts will be $12...

And it's not.  $0 shipping.  $0 handling.

I reach into my computer and hug the folks at Spurcycle.

Bent on right (less bent because I did mess with it a bit), new on the left.  Foot grommets above.

The lever replacement was a 15 second job.  The feet were a little more involved.  All said and done, my bells honestly sound better than they did before this all started (I blame my partial-to-total destruction of the foot grommets).

Pardon the weak pun, but consider this my "ringing" endorsement of a $50 (or $60) bell. They stand behind their product with reasonably priced parts and a non-ass-reaming process to get them in your hands. 

No ragrets here.

Well, mebbe that I didn't buy four of them while they were still on Kickstarter.  I've got two bikes with substandard bells, and I just don't get the same pleasure from ringing them. Srsly, but the idea of owning $200+ worth of bells... seems a bit indulgent.  Dammit.

Wednesday, January 3

I stand alone today

As with most things I do, another project done that didn't go as (sorta) planned but caused less damage than expected while also still being poorly timed.

A wise person would not be doing any improvements on a bike room that still isn't a bike room but is in all actuality still a screened-in porch.

No one has ever accused me of being wise.

I have an issue with impatience.  I see a problem and want to either attack it immediately or sweep it under the rug... and then glue the rug to the floor.  Once I realized that my soon to be bike room was going to be crowded when I sprawled my work stand into full standiness ready, I thought about proper solutions.  "On brand correct" work stand sponsor Topeak, whilst offering a multitude of freestanding solutions, does not make a wall mount clamp.  I looked at my options, and it was either some chintzy Harbor Freight bullshit or a high dollar Park Tool shop quality clamp.

Meh.

So I looked at my old work stand that I've had since long before Ultimate became Feedback Sports and put on my thinking cap.  Once again, I had to head to the local hardware store to stare at things that do things that aren't the things I want the things to do.  Plumbing and electrical and general hardware.  Friendly employees approaching me as I walk the aisles with 2/3 of my work stand in one hand and a tape measure in the other.

Lots of "You're trying to do what?"

Why can't I just be the guy in the hardware store saying, "I need a toilet part for my toilet that does what a toilet part should do when it's not broken?"

Anyways, get something that's close to what I want, grab the super long pallet that came with the new siding they slapped on the old place that the tree fell through, pull off a board, commence to cutting according to my "plan," go to mount the stand to my wooden "creation," and...

Nothing works.  The boards are too narrow.  The clamps don't reach far enough.  It's all shit.

Meh.

Disheartened, I head to the big box hardware store to wander their aisles.  I end up finding larger clamps, and with some head scratching, I come up with a new "design."

The end product is not pretty.  I'm sure my dad would have made it out of cherry or walnut and wet sand finished it with 1,000 grit sandpaper before staining it with cheesecloth.  Probably ten coats.  It would have taken him five years to build it, and four and a half of which would have been doodling on napkins.

I'm not my dad in that respect.

It does what I need it to do.  It takes up zero floor space in my tiny room, and will probably get used a lot more than it did in my much larger bike room... because back then, I was too lazy to set it up for minor repairs.  It was just as easy to flip the bike and work on it using that half-assed thing I built awhile back.

It also has the added benefit of folding up super tight to the wall, which is buneo, because if everything works out, the bike room will occasionally be used as an actual room room.

Of course, I realize that when it comes time to install doors, windows, walls, and whatnot, I might have to take this down and reinstall it... but at least I won't after go through the process of making it a "thing."

A thing that was almost swept under the rug before the gluing of said rug down to the floor.

Thursday, December 28

Planning to failings

For those of yinz that are gonna wanna know if I like the Rekon 29X2.6, you're gonna have to wait.  One ride on some local trails (and even more road) isn't gonna be enough ride time to make a call.  I'm not even terribly sure how much I'll get out on it in the next couple months.  Now is the time for slow, chubby rides on the squishy bike and also the ridiculously large front tire shod single speed.  I'll probably play with it a few more times while I can, but then I want to take it back off and save it for the "season?"

Whatever that is.

I keep thinking about '18 and wondering what to do.  Bill Nye and I are planning on heading out to Sedona next Spring to visit Matt McFee AKA Mr Hermosa ToursSSUSA '18 is in Port Jervis, NY (Aug 3-5).  SSWC '18 is in Bend, OR (Oct 20th).  I don't know if I can swing all that in one year.  Those three things could eat up a lot of paid time off.  Also, I'm sure I'll head up north at some point to see what being a grandfather is like IRL.

So, very busy.  And none of that would be really considered "making great bike race."

But yeth, I'll definitely get some time on the Rekon in late March and April.  If it all pans out, I will start with the making of great'esque bike race at PMBAR with Watts as my partner since I've failed him two years in a row now..

That is getting ahead of myself tho.  January brings winter short track racing (drinking, spectating, the contemplation of mebbe racing).  Also, the annual "will I or won't I?" moments leading up to the Icycle.  This annual celebration of bikes and lights and cross country and night downhill and debauchery and ditch fighting that always leads to a seven day hangover that does not get forgotten on an annual basis.  Then there is the 12 Hours of Santos.  As always, there will be someone from Charlotte looking to make the trip, but it falls on The Pie's birthday next year.

I haven't even begun to wrap my head around another year of Trans-Sylvania Epic or mebbe the Tour de Burg again.

Seriously.  "House" and house-related stress relievers used up too many brain cells in the final quarter of '17.

Looking forward to looking forward to things...

Speaking of which,

This is not the official flyer for the Watts Fappening '18, but if I don't get around to making something better, it very well could might be.

There is no real plan, or at least anything like a plan like we've had in the past.  We're just gonna ride from my house in a northerly direction, mebbe eat something that will give us a fighting chance against the damage we're about to do to our bodies, get to a brewery on the north'ish side of town, and start drinking beer and riding south.  That's all.  A great way to kill a day and some gray matter.

Join us.

Or not.

Doesn't matter much to Watts.  He believes in nothing, as nihilists are aught to do.