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Monday, November 19

Well... ummm...

The trip to Greensboro did not go as planned, but it went just about as expected.

Nick, Bill Nye and I meet up at The Spoke Easy after work Friday to come up with an itinerary for the weekend.  I drive the Honda Fit of Rage, scoop Bill Nye, then Nick at 7:30AM, head to Uwharrie, ride behks, up to Greensboro, hang out at Revolution Cycles with Watts...

Not much of a plan, but that's that.

Nick leaves to go to a show.  Bill Nye and I assume that Nick will stay out super late, so we sorta decide to do the same.

I end up over-sleeping in a chair at Bill Nye's house and the pre-Wattsing fun ride is canceled.  Get up after 9:00AM, go home, shower... find out that my neighbor backed into my car last night... meh.

Leave, scoop my little friends, get to Greensboro, eat Thai food... hang out at the shop until we cross the 3:00PM threshold to have our first beers.

Watts has a free bin at the shop.  Apparently, some things are not even worth $0.

Stay at the shop until closing and then a whole lot longer.  Watts's Insta-story kinda puts the rest of the evening in some sorta perspective.

Most of that is true (I do own one pair of pants).  It was a very long night, and mebbe we didn't get to bed until 3:30AM, and also the whole thing is a better campfire story.

I'm glad we only do this kinda thing once a year or so. 

Friday, November 16

Still like behks, yeth.

I don't want anyone thinking that my lack of interest re:adding content to the internet here is in any way a reflection of my lack of interest in cycle bikes or life in general.  I still ride bikes.  I like bikes.  My friends like bikes.

I talked Nick "Dip 'n Spray" into a Pisgah day this past weekend.  I was not aware of the sorta crazy wind chill warnings the weather people were anticipating.  Neither was he.  After some sorting out in the parking lot and some redistribution of GORE related items from my hastily packed that morning bag, we were off and riding up Wash Creek Road... and both freezing. 

In the end, no one died, but Nick did have a moment where he thought he was gonna suggest we turn back. 

But he didn't.

In the Pisgah way, I ended up running into my old boss from my almost fifteen years with Mercury Messengers.  That's just how the universe works.  Had we not stopped at Ingles on the way in, we would have never seen him.  Anyhoo... quick catch up and we continued our ride that ended up having N - 1 more creek crossings than I thought it would (sorry), and a happy day in the woods was followed up by some beer time at Spoke Easy once we got back to Charlotte.

Sunday, I managed to squeeze in an hour or so on the local trails after completing many domestic duties.  It's a glamorous life.

And this weekend?

Taking the shit show on the road. 

I have a La Vida Bachelor weekend in store and Bill Nye is bored and so is Nick... so let's go see Watts and end it all (the boredom, that is)!!

Heading out to ride Uwharrie and then to Revolution Cycles for the Cranksgiving event.

Fun to ensue.

Friday, November 9

What's going on?

You might be asking that.

I might be wondering that.

I'm looking at 2019 and thinking about what to do.

There's a certain part of me that wants to recommit to being a "tryer."  I'll be eligible to race in the 50+ class at races where it's an option.  I'd still be racing (one of) my single speed(s).  I do realize that an honest effort has to start soon tho.  Better to now shed the weight, live a slightly healthier lifestyle, and come in swinging in January (Winter Short Track, what?).

But then?  If I choose to make the most of the entire year, which races should I do?  PMBAR is obvs (no 50+ but Watts and I are going to actually "try" this year) and some of the other King of Pisgah races interest me, now that the back-to-back 111k/55.5k weekend isn't part of the series anymore, the 55.5 replaced with a months later garvel race I've never done before.

Trans-Sylvania Epic is making a comeback in 2019.  The idea of doing Breck Epic as a Duo 50+ team has been tossed around.  Another shot at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 in the old fart category?

I should mention that it's not like the 50+ class in the endurance scene is lacking in talent.  It takes more than one hand's worth of fingers to count some guys that I know can readily woop on my ass.  Then take into consideration that I'm at an age where a growing portion of my peers (in general life) are doing things like taking testosterone... something I wouldn't bother with, but after watching Icarus, I understand why someone would.  Asthma?  Sure, grab a puffer and open up those lungs.  Naturally decreasing T levels?  DISCRACED CYCLIST.

Do I give a shit?

Dunno.  It's just bike racing as a distraction from things that aren't bike racing.

Or I can just continue being a pile of shit that relies on old man legs, a certain amount of tenacity, and thoughts and prayers?  That would make it easier to fit in a Wydaho Vanlife trip with Bill Nye, and what about the can't-miss Dirt Rag Dirt Fest WV?   How am I gonna skip that?  Oh yeah, I already booked my room for the NORBA... I mean final UCI WORLD CUP event in Snowshoe next August BECAUSE I'M NOT MISSING THAT (even tho I still don't own normal people footwear for standing around on the side of a WV mountain).

Hmmm....

I was supposed to start doing smart things on November 1.  I told myself so.  Follow-through has been less than ideal.  Beer still tastes good.  So does food and unwanted Halloween candy.

So here I sit in a fog of indecisiveness, staring into the abyss... beer in one hand, behk(s) in the other.

Monday, November 5

Keeping the sword sharp

I'm a bit like that frog that's in a pot of water being slowly heated to a boil.  Poor cold-blooded little guy never realizes that the conditions around are going to be the end of him... eventually.

BTW: Did someone actually boil a frog to figure that out, or is this just a theory?  Frogs are kinda dope.

I've had I don't know how many sets of XTR 9000 pedals.  I know one set got warrantied, another set was sorta broken (mebbe user error) and tossed at the last move.  I think these ones are as old as they could possibly be.

Amazing what years of exposure to muck and grime can do over a long period of time of clipping in and out (which I guess occurs more on a single speed than on a normal shifty bike).

Some people don't think the universe be like it is but it do.

Worn-out pedals paired with worn-out shoes can make for an exciting ride.

That's what things look like when I push the shoe and pedal together.

And that's what it looks like when I pull up on the shoe.

So, my pot of slowly-brought-to-a-boil water has been these pedals.  I could hear my shoes jostling around on long descents, the cleat slopping about when turning high RPMs... I've had my fair share of unexpected releases.

I was probably gonna die... eventually.

Well, if you're a reptilian bike-type nerd, you probably know Shimano finally released a new version of the XTR pedal... so could there be a better time to get outta the water and hop for my life?

No.

New shoe, new cleat, new pedals all coming together the way some smart people thought they should for proper bike cycling performance.  Push up, pull down, full contact regardless.

It can be hard to toss aside something that's still somewhat functional.  I mean, I'm the guy who will open up the back of the remote and roll the batteries around for months trying to eek out the last bit of power before finally getting up and grabbing another set of charged batteries outta the kitchen drawer.  That said, clicking into this feels like I've rediscovered how good mountain biking can be.

And with that said, after I took all the photos and felt the shear joy of a proper shoe/pedal interface, I took everything off and put it away... for now.

A couple more months of sitting in the water (prolly) won't kill me.

'19 "season" is around the corner.  Like, a real "season."

Mebbe.

Wednesday, October 31

SSWC '18 Bend: Post Ludes

Bill Nye had done the shorter 20 mile course and was waiting for me at the finish.  He'd been hanging out for a long time, but faced with the option of a long (and not so easy) ride back to town alone, patience had won.  I'd eaten so much during the race that I don't require much sustenance to make the ride back, so a small plate of food stuffs will suffice.  I skip the extremely long beer line, because... time suck.

We find out which way to head towards town, and we're walking up the hill with admitted blerhg reader Matt, whom I'd met earlier that day.

"You guys wanna a lift back to town?"

"ummm..."

"We have beer in the van if you want some."

Arm.  Twisted.

As we drove up outta there past the train of sad single speeders on their six mile journey back to Bend, I felt like a wealthy person on a life boat watching my fellow Titanic passengers drown... except I had an ice cold beer to kill the guilty feels.

Matt and his buddies dropped us at the doorstep of the finest Econolodge in east Bend, near the aluminum recycling drop off and thrift shop.  They even gave us a beer to go.  So sweet.

The rest of the day... shambles and tattered memories.

We did clean up and head to the party.  I either took this image of Payson McElveen getting his champ tattoo or I didn't.

Either way, it was on my phone when I woke up the next day. 

Bands and beer and noise and debauching and then Bill Nye ghosts and I'm somehow now attached to Buck who then drags me into a small bar on the way back to the motel where all the dangerous people also somehow magically find themselves...

At some point, I realize that I'm in too deep.  I unlock my bike from Buck's, stick his back further into the pile, and ride home alone.

Bill Nye and I planned on riding on Sunday, but we both wake up with a case of the mehs.  Ride into town, get some Thai food, head back to the room... box up the bikes. 

I've heard that some people don't actually try to kill themselves every day whilst on "vacation."

Monday, airports... share a tiny plane with Shanna...

Layover in Salt Lake City and a family of three doesn't bus their own table and leaves this behind...

I do not.

Thus ends the adventure that was SSWC '18 Bend.

Tuesday, October 30

SSWC '18 Bend: Part Five

Morning of the "race."  The "reason" we're all here... I guess.

We now have mebbe ten or fifteen single speeders staying at the finest Econolodge in Bend (on the east side of the river close to the strip club).  Tom from Vassago, Buck and his Michaux crew, the Canadian/Finlandian, Sean (from my La Ruta past), etc... no one wants to be left behind.  It takes awhile to assemble, but we roll out in mass.  As we pedal through town, single speeders come out of every side street like some sad group of super heroes going to (unsuccessfully) fight some crime somewhere.

Roll into Thump Roastery.  The correct one this time.  I've heard as many as 700 assembled there in the parking lot.  Dunno.

Where I'm standing ends up being far from where the front of the group will be.  I don't wanna be too far back at the start trying to make my way through the general riff raff of which most of our group would be considered.  This day will be long enough without being caught in the mosh.  I wiggle through the crowd in the direction I think we'll end up going.

Our lead out vehicle is somehow trapped in the crowd and needs to get through.  The horn honks and honks and the group parts like the Dead Sea, slowly and unbelievably.  As the van starts to go by me, I see Yuri Hauswald clinging to the bumper like... well, like this:

I'm no dummy... one should never miss an opportunity to get up the road.  As the van passes on my left, I stick my front wheel on the right rear quarter panel.  No one will take this position from me.

Honk, honk, honk.  Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle...

Before you know it, I'm at the very front for the start... in the company of many of the folks that actually belong there.  Sorry, not sorry.

I see Buck arrive at the front from behind a bunch of parked cars and between some shrubbery.  I expect no less from him.

The roll out begins.  How close am I to the lead out car?

vid grab from Jason @jason_________b
Those are my helmet vents you can see in that window... so if I was any closer, I'd be in the backseat.

I decide that I will do anything to stay up towards the front until the race goes live.  We've been told that there will be a deep silt pit with random large rocks dispersed throughout very early on, and we would be hitting it at high speed.  I want to get through it before the silt pit becomes a pile of bodies and bikes.  We ride past the start pistol.

Bang.

I lose quite a few positions with my lackadaisical effort, but I enter the maelstrom of blinding dust and out of control riders in the top fifty or so... ?

grab from Devin Koontz @koontzdevin
From there, I didn't care what might happen. I knew there was a long 12 mile'ish climb to sort things out, so my goal is to have as much fun as possible on the 28 miles of course after that, getting it over with just enough speed to keep me in fast company while still taking the time to smell the roses.

Top of the climb, Bike Flights aid station.  I don't see beer, but I do see bacon.  I never pass up bacon.

The "Trail of Tears" up a pile of volcanic rock was next (I think).  All I can see above me is a single file line of riders moving slowly along the ridge.

photo cred: Mark Rosenberg
Excellent.  This kind of event shouldn't be all fun.  The hike-a-bike is followed by "Hospital Hill," an incredibly steep silt pit with almost zero visibilty, riders walking down, others bombing it with zero regard towards personal safety... myself mostly worried that I was gonna burn through my good jorts with my rear wheel as I hung my ass as far back and low as possible.

After that, somewhere out there... Buck caught and passed me.  A guy named Matt who said he reads my blog.  I apologize to him.

There are a few "danger" sections, I get caught up with a guy with a shit-clanking tensioned single speed that makes me hate life, Buck flats, I pass him back... and I'm on top of a bald at an aid station with beer and bacon... and hot dogs?  I peel back the foil and halp myself.

They told me that I was the first person to eat a hot dog, so at least I was the first at something.  Have a moment with the Angry Singlespeeder and get back to it...

putting myself behind the shit-clanking tensioned single speed once more.

Work my way around him (again), stop at another aid station... I'm behind him and Amelia now in what feels like an old flume.  Get around them... aid station... they leave before me again.

Honestly, almost everything after the hot dog is a blur.  I remember the moments where I could reach my beverage were few and far between.  I pass a guy wearing a very furry costume, and I wonder how he hasn't passed out from heat prostration.  My 32X18 isn't enough to stand on when I'm on the false flats (which feels like 95% of the time).  I pass Amelia, and I want to beat her for no other reason than I met her the day before and now she's familiar, thus a mortal enemy.  Her and the shit-clanking tensioned single speed.

I come into the area that looks like a finish but it's not.  We still have to go down through a canyon, which means one more climb.  I stupidly take a powdered donut-hole hand up, which I now realize is a cruel joke.  Breathing through a powdered donut is like drowning... but in powdered sugar and dry dough as opposed to anything moist.  Despite my inability to breath, I catch up to the shit-clanking tensioned single speed and decide he must go down.  I make a pass near the very top of the climb, cruise through the canyon, and defeat him thusly.

photo cred: David M
That's him behind me in the finish chute.  Take that, you... you... you menace!

insta cred: @lauren_haughey
Anyways, something like 81st place... I guess?  Does that mean I tried too hard or didn't try hard enough?  Dunno.

One more post (mebbe) and SSWC '18 is done.

Monday, October 29

SSWC '18 Bend: Part Four

I wake up at 6:25 AM with some intentions of making the Fuzzy and Co. shuttle ride to places further outta town.  Bill Nye has given me permission to go without him, not wanting to commit to the great unknowns.  I send Fuzzy a text.

"I'm awake.  Text me if this is gonna happen in the next 5 minutes or I'm going back to sleep."

He texts me back at 7:15 AM.

I'm not going.

So now what?

When Bill Nye eventually rejoins the living, we agree to just ride on our own later in the day.  After a couple hours in the prone position eating grocery store burritos and watching HBO, he announces that there will be no riding for him today.

Doh.

I have just enough time to make the noon ride outta Thump Roastery.  Kit up and check the FB for an address for the meet up.  Roll to the west side of town.  I'm the first one there, natch.

Others roll in, noon creeps up, no one is saying they're the ride leader.  Doubt creeps in...

Someone mentions that the Thump Roastery location on the event website is not the same one that is tagged in the most recent FaceBook and Instagram updates.  A phone call is made...

Yeah, we missed the ride.  Wrong Thump.

Meh.

I'm all but prepared to head back to the finest Econolodge in East Bend (close to the Walgreens) and eat more grocery store burritos and drink Coors, but one of our group of idiots puts on his big boy pants and comes up with a route.  I follow blindly.

Outta town, up COD, over to Storm King... and to be honest, I dunno.  At some point I see a sign that says were ten miles from the Bend city limits, and I realize that I'm gonna be late for a promised 3:00 PM (ish) return time so that Bill Nye and I could get our grub on before going out into the night.  I bail when I can see the highway at the edge of the woods and ride back with some guy from Clark Bros Racing.

Get clean, meet up with Buck and his compatriots for grubbage...

and then over to the decider competition for the SSWC '19 location.

The "beer line" was a more of a beer mob.  After filling our Silipints the first time, I realize that the beer mob/line is approximately as long as it would take me to finish one beer.  We slip back into the rear of the pack.  The timing was a little off, as we'd entered with 3/4 of a full beer, but after immediately getting back into line, things worked out much better for our third beer.  It was then that we realized if we just ghosted backwards a bit, we'd always be in line.  And so it went until we were five or six in and ready to mingle.

We left the line and found that the decider competitions were just getting underway.

All I can say is that I witnessed the blurring of lines between a fair fight and the interests of a small few and their interests.  Mebbe it's not always like this, but mebbe it is.  I got as close to the action as I could to watch it all go down to be sure.

photo: Abbie Durkee @singlespeedmama
Me, tugging on the ends of my Fu Man Chu deliberating the twisted reality in front of me.

After the quaffing competition (which seemed pretty fair to me), there was a boat building feat of strength.  Each team had a limited amount of time to build a seaworthy boat outta some bike boxes and duct tape, and then it was an out-and-back race in the river nearby.  One boat was suspiciously well thought out, the other, the obvious product of staring at a pile of cardboard and thinking "WTF?"

I'll leave it at that.

I guess this is what democracy looks like.  The Deep State is real.

Bill Nye is smart and says we need to head back NOW.  Big day tomorrow.

Smartest thing we'd done to this point.