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Thursday, September 20

Numbers

I mentioned that I had "thousands and thousands of gallons of water in a hurry to leave my neighbors' yards VIA mine own" over the weekend.  We installed a four inch pipe connected to two twelve inch catch basin drains trying to stop some of their water before it joins my yard's mess.  The pipe was pumping full bore at maximum capacity (260 gallons a minute) for long periods of time... so yeah.  Thousands and thousands.

Another number.  I forgot and forgot again (and probably again) to weigh the Vassago Meatplow V.8.

Thorry.

24.24lbs... before I added a pump mount.  I don't like riding with little friends in the mountains without one.  I'll also be dropping a little weight down the road, but I can't even tell you when.

Then with a swap to racer boi tires, figure it being at least a pound a half lighter (mebbe more), so something just over 22lbs when I want to press it into service for go-fast moments.

Other than that whole mess, I'm currently doing my best to keep from jumping into the trope hole of bashing Interbike.  I know, I know... it's gone very "e" this year, or so I've read.  I'm going to do my best to watch and read and learn and find one gem in the pile that makes me warm and fuzzy.

This would not be that.

I'm currently all barrels loaded and hoping to get a couple rides in this weekend, one being in a more mountainous area than available a half mile down the road from my house.  Stoked to be pumped to have this bike all dialed in for the Faster Mustache Retreat in Stokesville the following weekend.  We've got some solid rides planned and staying in the lodge beats sleeping on the ground 100%...

or so I've been told.

So far, I've only managed to sleep on a couch in the garage during Bicycle Times Adventure Fest, but I can only imagine the beds inside are even better.

Much good times ahead.  At least three.

Tuesday, September 18

You's Full

Hmmm.

Mother Nature sure is humbling.

My account of the weekend isn't gonna impress anyone.  I caught up on bike maintenance issues and hung out at Spoke Easy on Saturday...

and then from the moment I gotta outta bed Sunday until what I would guess was supper time, I felt like I was bailing out my figurative boat.  Tryna manage what was maybe thousands and thousands of gallons of water in a hurry to leave my neighbors' yards VIA mine own was interesting, laborious, and sorta stressful.

I gotta say, a ten year old me woulda thought moving rocks all day and trying to push water around is a blast.

I am almost five ten year old mes tho.

But compared to people who have real problems after Florence, who cares about my little slice of the world?

When we took the dogs out for a walk in between the rains, Pester (the blind diabetic dog) was outta sorts.  With everything being wet, he kinda loses his nose which is also his eyes.  Who else knows what goes on in a dog brain during a tropical storm?  He was just bumbling about.

Monday morning, I felt his feels.  Work had a delayed opening by a couple hours, and I found myself pacing around the house, looking out the windows, still expecting to see something new that needed fixing.

Nothing... nothing new at least.  Still loads of things to tidy up and do (or undo), but on the commute to work, I saw so much worse for others.  Really hoping they mean it when they say that it was a 500 year storm.

So... a bit distracted to say the least.

I did manage to squeak out a ride Thursday night, before the storms and doing all the prepping that I felt like I was supposed to do.  Me and the Vassago Meatplow V.8 are still working on our handshake.  The geometry is just different enough from my last three or so bikes, so it's something to get used to.  It sure can boogie down tho.

Hopefully my head starts working like normal again, and I can get a ride in this weekend... and also mebbe find some time to clear out the trails.  I'm 100% positive that there's a lot of work to be done, and I'm just as sure that others will be busy taking care of bigger things than trails, so I should make myself useful.

Wednesday, September 12

Why. Am. Sea. Eh.

Let me start by saying that I planned on weighing the bike last night, but then I went out for beers with Bill Nye after work, and then I came home and sat on the couch holding the runt of a litter of seven all night.

Thorry.  I'll do better at some point with that.

So, how did I finally decide on new behk?

Like I said before, the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 was limited, but only because it was primarily designed to be an endurance racing machine.  27.2 post for comfort. No bigger than a 2.2 tire.  100mm or similar A-C rigid compatible frok.

I finger the pulse of the "industry" pretty hard when it comes to new single speed options when they come out.

I've come close to pulling the trigger multiple times, but when it comes to sacrificing my wants and desires, I quickly came back to the fact that I already had a bike that is a compromised... so why chuck it for yet another list of compromises?

So the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 got 27.5 wheels so I could get a bigger tire in the back (and the non-Boost front)... sacrificing the superior roll over of a 29" wheel.

It also got a drooper stuck in its seat pipe, but a 27.2 drooper limits droop to 125mm.  I would say the more squish I have up front, the more droop I want in the back...

I would say that, but I have 150mm on my rigid behk and would take more if Fox makes it happen someday.

So left with the options of throwing more band aids on the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 or buying a third single speed (still with some compromises) negating the purpose of the former with the latter, I did the only logical thing.  I bought a full suspension bike with gears.

I never tire of trying to stick my square peg in a round hole...

No matter how it gets done.

So obviously, I'm not geriatric enough to enjoy all the pleasantries of going full Eagle and having couch-like ride qualities.  I ended up surfing the net, prodding the "industry" once again with my fingering finger.

Consult MTBR.com, check out every dusty, dank nook and cranny on the internet, recent Interbike coverage, every bike site known to man and check again and again.

And then I found something I didn't know had happened.

I've looked at Vassago's bikes before.  I'd considered an Optimus ti frame in the past, but the geo numbers weren't quite what I was looking for in either a race bike or a happy fun time bike.  But one day, it was all different.  The geometry, specs and features were not what they had been previously.  Internal 30.9  drooper post rooting, Boost spacing, clearance for a big 'ol tire, and optimized for a 120mm fork.

To be honest, I actually considered the new 2018 steel VerHauen.  It hit the boxes as well.

But...

I want this bike to suit two needs.  I want a happy fun time bike with gigantic tires that stick to the ground like improperly disposed chewing gum and can handle a hard tail being slammed down Black Mountain at 90% reckless abandon.  I also wanna be able to pull off the chubby tires and put on racer boi (for me) meats so I can use this bike to do some racing when I don't feel like beating my dick off on a rigid bike.  I needed something that can be light and racey while also being chunk-gnar friendly.

I've got a soft spot for the magic metal that is ti.  I've had to watch my beautiful By:Stickel paint (and decal panels) take a beating over the years.  Sure repainting is always an option, but I love how ti just never looks beat up and shitty. 

Of course, I coulda went down the full custom road and bought a new Vertigo with updated for happy fun time bits, but...

That was the most I've ever spent on a hardtail frame (or a squish frame FWIW).  It's so worth it, and that frame is a lifer... so long as I can keep it in froks and wheels.  Stupid self-obsolescencing "industry."  If I had to only have one bike in my life... yeth.  The Vertigo.

Fortunately, I don't.  I've made room in my life (and my tiny home) for four behks, and this one certainly has its place. 

I definitely feel like I'm set for awhile now.

Tuesday, September 11

New Behk: V.8

After Pisgah Monster Cross, the desire to head home was strong.  The race was over super early, and standing around day-drinking under the blazing sun sounded like the opposite of what I wanted to do.  Besides that, I was pretty sure I had a new behk to build at home.

I made sure that when I walked in the door, I dealt with all the baggage and smelly things that one might come home from a race with before even tearing into the giant box.  I took everything out, unpacked the little boxes that were in the big box, and decided it was best to wait until tomorrow (it was supposed to rain all day) to build it up.

Okay, mebbe I put the bottom bracket and crank on before I went to bed.

I woke up a few times in the early AM and fought the desire to start building a bike at an insane hour.

I gave up around 6:00AM.

Yeth, it was still dark outside.  Yeth, I illogically mounted the rear wheel in there prematurely just so I could see what it would look like.

There were those slight snags and small dropped tiny tools and bits slowing me down, as well as the live World Championship downhill racing diverting my attention.  I have to admit tho, every time I can thread a bottom bracket entirely into the frame by hand... that's a good day.

I did a fair amount of pacing about as well.  Building on the porch in the early morning, moving into the living room later in the day, back out to the porch to shorten the brake lines... tuning a suspension fork?

Bikes are so much work.

Eventually, the bike was built, the live World Championship coverage was over, the suspension "tuned," a decal put where it belonged...

And it wasn't raining outside (or inside for that matter)... and it didn't look like it would for some time, so I kitted up and went for a ride.  My legs were super tired from Pisgah Monster Cross, the heat/humidity was semi-crushing, and I had that whole "mebbe I forgot to tighten something" feeling, but I went out anyways.

New behk stoke can not be contained.

Such an awful image with zero depth...

Ten minutes into my ride, I came to a drop on the Tech Loop that I won't do rigid since it has zero transition and very little approach speed.  I'm thinking, "do I send it?"

I mean, did I build this bike competently, given that I was watching bike cycles racing on the TV and wandering around the house and shaking from coffee consumption with not enough food.

I sent it anyways.

And then I went back and did it again.

I knew I wasn't gonna enjoy an entire Backyard Trail loop in my condition, so I headed to the highlights.  Over to the Cannon Jump Line next.

I would say it built up quite nicely.

I did not opt to upgrade to the Cane Creek eeWing cranks.  Not saying I won't ever.  Just saying I didn't now.  These will do fine to get the bike rolling.

I spent some time fiddling with the placement of the Cane Creek Dropt lever (also my first install of an internal drooper).  I guess had I looked at their site, I woulda saw an image showing me exactly where it went, or at least got a start.

It is right where I need it tho.  Smoothest lever I've ever pushed on, super easy actuation, and I haven't even played with the couple fine tuning adjustments available.

Plenty of clearance on the Fox Step Cast 34 for a 2.5 Minion DHF on an Industry Nine Pillar 310 rim... unfortunately my half-assed fender that I used to zip-tie to the arch is not Boost compatible.  Sigh.
I went with the cockpit from the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 instead of the ENVE cockpit I bought... because...

Back and forth and back again.  This stem looks better on this bike and is shorter by a pinch.  I'll need to go and ride both before I settle on something.

I mighta rode around for an hour or so.  All I can say is, man... I missed having a decent amount of squish in my life.  So much easier for screwing around and doing dumb things.  Also, having that 2.5 tire glued to the earth in the corners... lawd.  I can't wait to get this thing in the mountains.

So, of course there's a hurricane coming this week.  Of course.

Anyways, this is the bike I was trying to force the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 into being.  It was just designed around a smaller XC rear tire and a few other things that held it back.

Oh yeah, one more thing that makes my Vassago Optimus ti frame just a bit more special...

Mebbe tomorrow or the next day I get into the why/what/so forth about how I decided on an Optimus titanium frame, and why I feel buenos about all that.

Monday, September 10

Pisgah Monster Cross '18

Despite doing a thing I said I'd do and also getting my new behk, I have to say the most incredible part of my whole weekend was watching Kate Courtney win the World Championships.

Lumpy throat, tear in the eye moment.  It was incredible.  I don't wanna tie too much to national pride into the matter, but seeing somebody, a very young somebody, just make that moment for themselves.  Wow.

Okay, me.

Preface:  All photos below are compliment of Steve Barker/Icon Media Asheville (So  I don't have to say that over and over).

I mighta made a smart (or dumb) decision Friday night.  A friend had offered me a bed to stay sleep in less than ten minutes from the start of the Pisgah Monster Cross.  Instead of standing around in the forest, drinking beer, wishing I woulda got something to eat, and then crawling in the back of my car to sleep, I could be comfortable.  Alone, but comfortable.

I actually chose the latter.

I picked up my second regrettable fast food meal of the evening and headed over to Nik and Jess's place in Brevard.  I spent the evening eating top tier Taco Bell, watching a movie on my phone (because I couldn't figure out Nik's computer), and I was in bed before 10:00PM.

Unprecedented moments.

Up at 6:00AM, coffee, organic toaster pastries and the very last of my '18 supply of Rocket Red (aka cheat juice).  I arrived at the start with probably the first good night's sleep I've had before a Pisgah Production race in five years.  I may not be fit (or non-chubby), but I'm well-rested.

Line up at the front and let the fast folks back into the line in front of me... where they and many others belong.

The race starts, and I can hold on to the neutral pace for awhile.  The geared riders are soft pedaling.  I'm trying to make noises from my mouth that aren't wheezing and gasping for air.  We bang the right on 477 and the pace accelerates as the cop car pulls away.  I keep the front of the group in sight until the horse stables... and then they go off into the distance.  It's not long before the "haves" leave me, and I look over my shoulder to see the "have nots" reeling me into their fold.

Up the climb and I can see the t-shirted, carbon 26" Fuji guy leave me in his dust.  This guy...

He's literally on fire. 

I eventually catch back up to him, pass him... he's a vision.  I wonder if every one else can see him

The thoughts about quitting come to me pretty early.  I wonder what exactly I'm proving to myself by finishing this or any event. It's been awhile since it's been a goal to "just finish," and I'm torn between the feelings of arrogance that I can do just that (if I want to) and knowing that quitting "just because I don't wanna" is also an option (if I want to) as a grown ass man.

Weak.

Coming down into Aid Station One, t-shirt guy rips past me.  I can't be the only one who sees him.  People are holding his wheel with purpose.  Damn it.

Out of the aid, I catch a single speeder, who according to my loose observations is either third, fourth or something else place.  I give him a slight (and very fake) attack.  He responds.

Meh.

I ride along hearing him talk about his terrible descending skills at ORAMM.  Mebbe I catch him on a descent later...

Or so I tell myself as he rides me off his wheel.

Up 215 (paved) and we drop into the new gnar that I've never seen.

Steeper than (I make) it look.

I've kinda sorta given up on the idea of quitting at this point.  The easiest option back (once I return to where I'm aware of my place on the planet) isn't all that much easier than just taking the route back.

A random onlooker deep in the woods tells me that I'm almost halfway done.  I inform him that I don't even know how far the whole thing is but thanks.

 Carey Lowery catches me on a fairly rolling piece of road out there somewhere...

"You're gonna like what we get into next."

"A bar?"

More thunder chunky gnar that makes me super happy to be super droopy, and I roll into Aid Station Two.

"A single speeder just rolled outta here." ~ random other racer

"I don't care." ~ me

Realizing that I sound like a dick, I apologize.

"Sorry.  Thanks for letting me know, but the only thing I'm chasing out here... is my demons."

I think I have a fair idea what's coming up.  I'm entirely wrong.

Things hurt and I regret not quitting when it woulda been easier.  I also regret my cotton shirt.  I also regret the jorts I'm wearing with a seam that's trying to saw through my taint.  I very much regret that I've not drank very much in terms of liquid, given how much I've squoze outta my helmet thus far.  I consider trying grab my Tummy Gummies outta my SWAT bibs, but I waited until the wrong moment.  I either need to stop on the climb up to Gloucester Gap or risk my biscuit on the way down.

I do neither.

Roll into Aid Station Three.  I peruse the options and see.... sheeeeeeeeeeee-it.  Bacon?

I like this place very much.  Take my time eating bacon before I see pickles and start making bacon/pickle/bacon sammiches.  A guy rolls up, looks at the options... mumble mumble... something glucose.

"You can have the rest of my Tummy Gummies.  I no longer need them."

He wants to barter as he feels bad about taking all my food, but I tell him that whatever is in his pockets, unless it is bacon, can not compete with bacon.  I grab a couple more pieces of greasy porcine strips and roll on to the climb up 475B.

I'm all too familiar with what's left, but that doesn't make me hate it less.  So much more climbing to descend back down to a similar elevation where I was at eating bacon... just 15 miles from here tho.

Finish 475B (I thought it was easier this direction?), up 276, down 477 in full droop, hit the flat pavement to the finish line.  Such an easy pedal from here.

I see a pack coming after me.  Flash back to the only other Pisgah Monster Cross I've ever done.  Passed right before the line, blocked at the barriers from running as they walked side-by-side, lost a couple places that cost me enough points to slide down one place in the King of Pisgah Series.

Not this time, shifty bitters.

Make the final turn into the finish, hop the barriers...

Not quite in the style of Garth "Sideshow Bob Buju Banton" Prosser...

nor in the particular idiom of Ohio single speeder Kenny Kocerak...

but fast enough to beat those guys chasing me down, if for no other reason than because I could.

Me telling Kenny and Chris how tall of a stack of bacon I devoured earlier.

The guys who beat my dick off in the single speed category minus the one guy who crushed me when I tried to destroy him less than sixteen miles into a 75+ mile event.

Stoked that I hung it out and did a thing when I didn't have to, nor had any reason other than to prove to myself I can still do a thing.

Not sure what all that means, but mebbe I look into a reflecting pool at some point and look inside myself... or not.

Friday, September 7

Staying and/or Being Committed

Short post, but heading out to the Pisgah Monster Cross today around 3:00PM.

I'm riding this and not the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 Beer Fetcher that I finished piecing together recently:

Side note:  The rear brake pads were pretty worn when I got back from WVA/VA.  While swapping to the lighter wheels/tires, I removed the worn out pads, pushed in the pistons, and installed new pads.  Pulled the bike down a few days later, lever goes to the bars.  Do the cup-style removal of air thing in the sorta dark on the porch... no air.  Lever seemed fine after that tho.  Pull the bike down this morning to load up... lever back down to the bar, fluid on the outside?

Leaky brake or messy cup maneuvers?  Dunno.  Fingers crossed it's okay at work, and then mebbe I continue to head to Pisgah?

Anyways...

There's just no way in hell that I'm coming down that long descent on 477 undrooped, so this is the bike I chose.  That and the great unknown (to me) 1/3 of the course that has earned some infamy from locals who have pre-ridden the route.   Sounding like it's pretty chunk-a-lunka.  I'd rather sacrifice overall speed for not having to change a flat, so big tires over garvel 40s.  That's kinda my MO all the time anyhoo.

As said before, I'm pretty sure I'm only doing this to prove that I can hurt myself on a bike for many hours at a time.  I've done as little prep work as I can to make myself comfortable in the back of the Fit of Rage for a night or two...

Yeth, I'm not sure if I'm sticking around very long after the race or not.  The course is different this year, but previous year's times are under four hours for the winner.  I anticipate mebbe five to six hours for myself.  Who knows?  Anyways, that still means being done around 1:00-2:00PM, so I doubt anyone else is gonna wanna stand around in Smoker's Cove day-drinking all of Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever's beer until long after the sun goes down.  The year that Faster Mustache "brought the party" to the finish line was much buenos, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only one chasing down some garvel-related semi-glory from the team.

Also, I might be highly motivated to get my ass back to Charlotte.

My new behk (or at least the parts I'm missing to include a squishy fork and the frame itself) should be in my house sometime tomorrow.  I've been anticipating this moment for about three months now, so the pull to go home and fondle my bits is strong.

So next week, some semblance of a "race" report (if my bike makes it through the day) and then the new behk.

Assuming the entire world doesn't shit its collective bed and/or pants before then.

Thursday, September 6

West Virginia and also other Virginias... minus the sadness (mostly): Part Three

Wake up.  Last morning of #vanlife.  It's been nice, but I miss my bed.

We slowly pull up figurative stakes and load up for the drive home.  We planned on riding in Roanoke along the way, but I silently wonder if I'm up for any more bike cycle related activity.  I feel a little rough, but I keep it to myself.  Coffee in Bridgewater, only my second cup of the entire trip, and were headed down the highway.

Bill Nye says that Roanoke local, Skip, had showed him a right proper, highly worthwhile forty five minute loop.  I think I have that in me...

We roll into the parking lot, and there's the Tennessee Valley Bicycles crew, led by their smirky leader, Scott Smith.

You gotta be shitting me.

This is incredible on so many levels.

When we were planning on going to Tennessee, Scott had offered to show us around on Friday.  Then we bailed on him.

He was going to be in Roanoke over the weekend for cyclo ross racing, hoping to ride at Carvin's Cove on Monday.

We jokingly said that mebbe we'd meet up and ride together.  That was the last time we talked.

So, there are a million places to park around the trail system.  Had we not stopped for coffee, or talked to April before we left Stokesville for a bit, or hit a deer on the way over... we would not be in the same parking lot at the same time.

So as the fates would have it, our group of two became seven (I think).

Up the Trough Trail and one of the TVB guys has a flat.  Bill Nye continues to climb up to Royalty Trail.  I hang back to "assist" in the repair.

It was indeed a shit show.  One tube with a broken valve.  Another tube with too short of a valve.  Another tube with too short of a valve, but a removable core so they could attach a very long valve extender (which someone was carrying for who knows what reason), multiple blown CO2 cartridges (one cross threaded), and then we're up and rolling.

BTW: I saw the TVB fellers suited up in their Ridin' Hawaiian HandUp jerseys, and since mine was still clean, I decided to not ignore the fate gods that were steering my day.

Find Bill Nye waiting patiently at the top, and roll down Royalty.  Damn, that trail is fine.

At the bottom, the TVB crew was going back for more.  Bill Nye and I had enough riding over the past few days to call it donezo.  We hop back into #vanlife and head home.

All in all, an excellent trip.  We definitely found some redemption for the '18 debacle of constant mayhem, precipitation, and sadness.  Also, I'm very much ready to give the rigid frok a break.  I wasn't expecting to be on it this long without any other option, and somehow I've done a fair amount of gravity driven rides since the beginning of June.

Lemme get my hands on that squish and thank.