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Wednesday, May 29

Why so lack of blerhg postious?

Because this is the most exciting thing going on in my life:

Bearing in mind, I like buying bike parts as much as the next person.  These new parts only serve to keep some old(er) parts running, and I don't even get the "pleasure" of installing one of these bits any time soon.  Some might call it "hoarding," but wear items are ideal to have on hand.

Chains
Brake pads
Grips (if you run ESI grips and have a hard time avoiding trees)
Bearings (obvs)
Tires
Chain rings
SPD cleats
2032 batteries

I'd even go so far to say that I'm a tad bit uncomfortable not having a backup saddle, brakes, seat post, pedals, cranks, handlebar, bar tape...

Okay, mebbe a little hoardy.

I "like" working on my own bikes, to the same degree that I "like" cutting my own hair... which is not entirely at all.  There's some satisfaction in doing it myself, but I'm mostly just cutting down on expense and hassle.  I mean, did I wanna spend probably close to two hours swapping the bars on my Crux and "patiently" positioning the levers and dropper actuator, and doing my best to reuse the Supacaz tape as opposed to just using the cheap SRAM tape I bought last week?  

But I did it anyways... and it looks a little bit like ass... but so does my haircut 20% of the time.

This doth bring me joy:

The Meatplow V.7 is back to the way gob intended it, de-PMBAR'ed and ready for the Mountain Cat 100.  I'm excite to spend 8-10 (12?) hours in the woods and on the streets of Richmond with my old frand... and also Watts.  Being that I managed to finish my previous fail at Bootlegger in 2024, perhaps this is my revenge tour, and I shall have my comeuppance in Richmond on June 8th.  Mebbe I shoulda kept a list of all my utter fails and tried to knock them all off this year...

Wait a second.  The 2006 Lumberjack 100 would be on that list.

Never mind.

Tuesday, May 21

Plans-Sylvania Epic

Has life calmed down?  Dunno.  I'm too busy to notice.  I mean, I finally had time to catch up on my sewing...

Foster animals sometimes leave things like dog beds and fluffy toys in a sad state of disrepair.  Fortunately, I can hand stitch like a son of a bitch.

Normally, I'd be in the throes of TSE (the race, not testicular self-exam).  This year, nope.  I've been trying to find fun some bike cycle oriented things to do when I can devote a stream of conscience to the planning of stuff.

Mountain Cat 100 (108?) is coming in less than three weeks. I plan on being more prepared this year so I don't end up with another 107 mile DNF.  Many, many mistakes to learn from, I feel blessed to have such an opportunity to grow as a human.  I've got a power bank for my new'ish computer, and a 90° cable do-dad so it actually plugs in and plays nice with the stem.  I'm hoping we can keep Friday night in check this go-around.   

I've also made plans to join Bill Nye TSG on a Journey to the Center of the Mountain Bike Capital of the World van voyage.  Leaving outta Charlotte in late June, we gonna hit:

Sat 22: FATS 
Sun 23: Jarrod’s Place  (shuttle bike park day)
Mon 24: Coldwater Mountain 
Tues 25: Monte Sano  
Wed 26: Mt Nebo 
Thu-Sun 27-30: Bentonville

Ain't never been to the first four places, and they've probably built a thousand miles of new trails since the last time I made it to Bentonville.  No, I don't think that it's the "Mountain Bike Capital of the World."  That's kinda horse shit, but they do have loads of different types of trails, and since they were built with Walmart money, I wanna enjoy all the things my federal taxes paid for.

I'm really looking forward to getting (running?) away.  The only full vacation day I've taken so far in 2024 was to move my mom.  That was not a very relaxing or pleasant day in the least.  Lately, when I have room in my brain, I think about how I can make my mom, my wife, and my dog's life better... and that's about it.  I've still got a whole lotta vacation to use or lose, and I realize that's not such a terrible problem.  I'm just rather directionless without a stage race eating up a week.  

I wanna do something big (but not amateur homeless personning big), something with friends (but not so many friends that I have to deal with a bunch of logistics and agendas), something bike related (but not just watching people ride bikes or gravel oriented or tradeshow'esque), something that will make memories (but not be terribly expensive or require days of travel time).

You know... something.

Or I could just buy a new bike because spending = happiness?

Life is great.  I'm going places and doing things.  I am bless.

Just looking for some adventure that requires a little more planning than this:

Wednesday, May 8

PMBAR '24

Compared to the previous night's chaos, my morning could not have been smoother.  Up before my alarm, coffee, snacky cakes, constitutional, dressed, and at the front of the starting line when it was time to grab the passports.  

This is how I look when things are going "smoothly."  Imagine how I looked the night before.

Pretty sure I was the first one to get my grubby mitts on the details.  I quickly scan the rules looking for funny business.  Nothing more than a few roads that are (unfortunately) off limits.  I flip through the checkpoint pages.  I've gotten better at knowing where "so-and-so gap" and "such-and-such" intersection is, so I put the passport in my top pipe purse, and Nick and I are the first ones heading up Black Mountain.

Sure, shortly after our departure, the first team to pass us is Chris Joice and his partner Eric on single speeds.  Then came the usual suspect fast guys.  I'm very okay with all of these things.  The route is pretty plain and simple to me (although as always, tales told later that night always prove me wrong), but I'm very comfortable with every bit of it.

Up Black and bang a right on Turkey Pen.  It's a bit leafier than expected, but it's running pretty good.  South Mills out-and-back and run into most of the fast guys coming the other way.  Reassuring to say the least.  Same when he head into the out-and-back on Squirrel, although the oncoming traffic is getting old, as I Nick and I always respect the climbing riders' right of way while not always feeling the same love when it was our turn.  Laurel Creek was in the best condition I've ever seen it, like ever.

Then the first wheel fell off the bus.

Nick and I stop at Bradley Creek to filter water.  We both had filters to speed things up, but that was before my Sawyer bag started leaking profusely and his filter started squirting out the side.  At least we were left with one fully functional system, so okay, but I did think about all the brand new bags I have at home and also the treatment tablets that I keep in a short Bic pen that I coulda grabbed... you know, just in case.

Then the next wheel fell off the bus.

I don't remember after which of the dozens of creek crossings or hundreds of downed logs we straddled or ducked under when Nick shared with my how he feels about the "adventure" aspect of the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race.  Apparently, not a fan.  I always think about Bradley Creek as the great equalizer, as no one can get through it in much of a hurry, and you just take your time and enjoy a slightly lower heart rate for a spell.  He found absolutely no solace or meaning in the endeavor.  

It's kinda like a friend asking you to move.  They tell you there will be beer and pizza, and it will be over pretty quick and lots of "fun."  Then you show up and find out they've acquired a bunch of stuff since the last time you hung out... like that expensive rich people furniture that's made of real wood... and a juke box... and a pool table... and a 3/4-scale reproduction of Michelangelo's David.  You stick it out because you're frands, but you're not really "into it."  Nick was never going to leave me hanging, but I could tell he didn't really wanna lift anymore furniture into the truck.

So there we are, about four hours into our eight or nine or ten hour "adventure," and I find out my friend that I dragged into this is "not that into it."  When you head to the Butthole of Pisgah first, and then start going to the dark places, it's never a good sign.  It's very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel from deep inside a butthole.

Fortunately, at the bottom of the out-and-back up Laurel, there's a benevolent human with grilled cheese, tiny Cokes, and Coors.  We partake in all his wares and head up the trail.

The out-and-backs.  They're taking a bit of a toll on me, having to stop every few minutes to make room for one another.  I can tell that Nick and his good manners are taking a real hit.  He's never gonna be the asshole to his fellow humans, but his tolerance for the constant interruption is waning.

Leaving the check point on Laurel  Mountain after stuffing homemade cookies in our maws.

I give into all my feelings of guilt.  I offer up to Nick that if he wants to skip the short out-and-back up to Pilot Cove, it's up to him.  Then it starts to rain.  Then we run into like a million more riders coming up Laurel Mountain on our way down.

"I'm not doing any more  fucking out-and-backs."   

So there you have it.

Back down at the grilled cheese stop and the benevolent human had just finished packing up and was ready to leave.

"Can I still grab a beer?"

"Yeth."

Frown turned upside down with the news that we made last call at the Laurel Mountain Bar and Grill.

So all we have to do is a bunch more hours of riding in the rain to get the last mandatory check point.  Although I'm glad Nick will not bail on me when we get to a place where I know he knows he can just coast down (mostly) back to camp, I'm bummed he's not having a "good time."  What's not to like?  Dropping temps, steady rain, greasy trails, fading brakes, mud in the eyes, sopping wet chamois, a certain lack of desire to exercise self-care...

At the end of Gauging Station Roads, two magical sirens call us to the tent where they had pickles and chips and quesadillas and tequila.  Bless and thank.  Nick and I hadn't refilled bottles since Bradley Creek, and somehow we've both decided beer and tequila and rain and tire spray (with horse poop) is hydration enough to get by.

We come up on Colin on the Wheelchair Ramp.. and he's pushing two bikes.

Da fuq?

"Yuri's up ahead.  He's feeling pretty bad?"

"Anything we can do?"

"If you see a guy wrapped up in an orange emergency blanket, mebbe give him some encouragement or a hug?"

We find Yuri and spend some time with him.  We're not sure what to make of the situation, but when he laid down in the mud, I'd say we are more than concerned.  We offer him a rain poncho and another blanket, but he got back up and said he just needed to keep moving.  Nick and I ride off, stop at the top of Clawhammer (the nearest/best point he could be extracted from), and leave our "extra" stuff for he and Colin to use or not.  I send Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever a text... but I'll be honest and say that I have no idea what he can actually do.*

The rest of our day is pretty much either spent discussing really disgusting ways to aid a hypothermic person or spent in silence as we negotiated the slippery, worsening conditions, both of us doing so without the aid of our prescription glasses that were more hindrance than help at this point.  Nick didn't have to tell me, but I knew his brakes were becoming less "brake-like" and more just a finger exercise... mostly because I was in the same boat.

We finally end our day after nine hours and forty-four minutes in the woods.  With only four check points, it was only a matter of time as we slid down the results page as other teams finished with the two hour bonus given with the fifth, but I'm mostly okay with that.  My friend didn't disappoint me, coming in at the last minute to be my partner, getting through the previous evening when he coulda threw in the towel when his brake shit the bed at ten o'clock, and then all day long keeping his head down and doing the lorb's work of getting me yet another PMBAR finish. 

Bless and thank.

Glad I was able to do Nick's "last PMBAR" with him as my partner.  Also his last single speed ride in Pisgah.  Also his last (space being left open for any future "last" statements).

Stats:
4 check points
9 hours 45 minutes
63 miles
9,300 feet elevation
7,450 calories burned
3.5 bottles of CarboRocket Half Evil
5-6 handfuls of Trader Joe's Sour Swimmers
1 Zinger
2 chocolate chip cookies
1.5 Coors Banquet Beers
1 Mini-Coke
.5 grilled cheese
1 shot of tequila
4/4 quesadilla
2 handfuls of potato chips
1 innocuous but annoying crash
2 pairs of brake pads worn down to the springs


*Yuri lived and is okay BTW.

Tuesday, May 7

PMBAR '24: The Pre-Superdumble

This is one of the texts that came into my world as I was trying to do a leave work early turn-n-burn at 2:00PM on Friday.

I did not have the generation of Shimano pads Nick needed, but I did have a complete set of XT brakes I pulled off the Epic EVO a couple years ago, so I tossed them in the car with a bunch of zip ties.  Worst case scenarios and all.

The floorboard, aka the catch-all for everything I grab last minute before heading out the door.

Aside from trying to coordinate the three vehicles all heading towards Pisgah with our Charlotte crew in some efficient manner through what has turned into the worst traffic to the mountains ever, I had my camp set up and well arranged before meeting up at Ecusta Brewing for limited pre-race libations.

Back at camp just before sunset, it was time for people to take to the task of doing things that if I was doing them at 9:00PM the night before PMBAR, I'd have no hair on my head.

Dr Mike putting sealant in his tires, I assume for maximum sealant freshness in the morning.

Nick sanding rotors with 60 grit sandpaper and installing the new pads he managed to acquire from The Spoke Easy before leaving town.  Once he got it all sorted out, he pedaled around a bit to bed the pads in.  He leaned the bike against a tree, and thinking mebbe I could make sure they were thoroughly bedded in, I took it for a spin.

*grabs lever*

Good.

*grabs lever*

Good.

*grabs lever*

...

Not good.

Buried into the grip not good.  Not pumping up at all not good.  Something is definitely awry not good.

"Hey, Nick..."

He takes a look, grabs the lever, feels around... there's mineral oil gushing out at the lever.

*sigh*

But also fine because I brought a spare set of brakes... like you do to a one day event.

Grab the box off the floorboard, pull out the rear brake... and the lever is still in the box... because it's not connected to the caliper... because I pulled it all out of an internally routed bike and never thought anything of it.

I'm now one barb, one olive, one bleed cup, and a little bit of mineral oil away from having a partner with a functional bike.  It probably only takes me about two minutes of pacing and head scratching to realize I can't piece what I have into something that works.

Nick and I ran across the road to the start/finish to see if Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever or Greg or anyone had pieces-parts or a bike with an externally routed brake we could pinch.  No dice.  Eric suggested I reach out to an enthusiastic local or mebbe drive to his house and rummage through his basement bikes, but honestly I'd had more beer than I would drive with inside me (which is more than one).  I texted Shanna.  She's my only hope.

No buenos, but...

"Try Nico."

I've all but accepted my fate.  There will be no twentieth PMBAR for me.  This ends it... well except that I tell Eric I'm gonna take a passport in the morning and just head out pointlessly or ride with some friends or whatever.  I'm here, and so is my bike, so f___ it.  This is just how my 2024 has been going.  Afraid to be too excited about anything, because the rugs keep getting pulled out from under me.

I sigh a lot.  It halps.

We get back over to the campsite, and I crack a beer.  Then my phone rings at 10:16PM.

It's Nico.

Not only does he have a brake that would/could work on a bike at home, he's out and about and willing to swing by his house, grab it, and deliver it to our campsite.

A one-braked Waltworks single speed waiting for new brake delivery in the dark.

Nico swings by, hugs are exchanged, and a brake is mounted up and ready to go by 11:05PM.

And so I went to "bed" filled with loads of leftover anxiety, and I enjoyed several hours of fever dreams full of panic and angst.

It's gonna be a good day.

Wednesday, May 1

Sometimes you eat the PMBAR. Sometimes the PMBAR eats you.

I'll be starting my twentieth PMBAR this Saturday at 8:00AM.  This time, I will be showing up at the start line with my eighth partner, Nick Barlow.

To loosely quote Taylor Negron ("Whitey") from Whoopee Boys, "You can't just switch Dicks midstream... but you can swap Dick's partners."

"Whitey"- back left, in his performance of a lifetime, Oscars be damned

Watts has been my stable partner since 2016, so that makes seven PMBARs together (dammit, COVID).  The yin to my yang.  The pea to my carrot.  The brioche bun to my grass-fed, half pound, all beef patty.  Unfortunately for me (fortunate for him), he's been whisked away to Spain to cover (or not) some gravel affiliated things for Bike Rumor (look for future posts (or not) there).

He will be deeply missed, but we'll be riding a hundred and something miles all over Richmond, VA in a month, so I'll live. 

Nick will be a great partner.  Why?

1. He is strong like bull.  The kind of scary strong that makes you worried about partnering up and holding them back.  I mean, he rides a trainer... even sometimes when it's nice outside.

2. He's a good hang.  We have been on multiple adventures in this lifetime, and he's provided me many good member berries.

3. He's been riding his garvel bike a lot and his mountain bike very little.  This should help me keep him in sight on the descents, since I'm slightly more reserved nowadays since I exposed my kneecap to the world last September.

4. He also would rather do this on a single speed than a geared bike because he's done a few PMBARS and knows he'd rather not drag too much bike around for eight to ten hours.

5. He's grown into quite the adult, and I'm not worried in the least about his ability to get his shit together and be uber-dependable.

6. He has no expectations of glory, and neither do I.  Although Watts and I have never not been on the single speed podium at the end of the day (with an occasional top five overall), we usually land on a lower step because we fell into success ass-backwards despite all the mistakes we (me?) made.

7. He wears prescription glasses now, so it will be nice to share in the misery of mandatory eyewear if it moists from the sky.

I'm wary of letting myself get a little too excite about Saturday.  This past month has been lived very much day by day with very pensive expectations for joy.  

How day by day?  That bike lived in my work stand for over two weeks waiting for some much needed love... and that made my head hurt every time I looked at it.  A minor task, but one that I didn't wanna do with divided attention.  Brakes should work when you need them to.  

Sigh.

That said, once I wake up in my tent (I hate you, locals) my phone will be on airplane mode, and I'll be in full PMBAR mode.

I'm so looking forward to having my best day in the woods... again... for the twentieth time.

Thursday, April 25

Bootlegger 100 '24

Don't wanna hear a "womp womp" from the gallery, but it seems silly to do a blow-by-blow race post that ends in a precise and mediocre mid-pack 16th place finish in the men's' 50-59 category.

Ooop.  Spoiled alert.

I wasn't looking forward to riding alone with my brain.  Fortunately, my pal Burke had signed up for the hundred mile option that's actually one hundred and seven miles, but who's counting?  I found him at the starting line many rows behind me in the field of 400 plus racers, so he waded through the crowd sans bike to converse.

"I'll slow roll until you catch up, then we ride together... yeth?  I don't want this ride to hurt until it has to."

Burke rolls up eventually, an we both agree it will be nice when the crowd thins out because why trust strangers.  

So that's the thing about garvel racing and why I don't think I'm a "garvel racer." I ride garvel.  The concept of being in a pace line with who knows who, not knowing if they are decent bike handlers (not saying I am) or paying attention or too tired to keep their shit tight.  To quote Cypress Hill, "I ain't going out like that."  My idea of a good garvel ride is three of four friends riding side by side headlong into the wind and never considering the concept of drafting unless someone is near death towards the end of the ride.  It's a combination of "why cheat myself outta fitness?" and "why ride with friends if you can't talk to each other?"

I tend to race garvel in the same manner.

I was going to wait for Burke when we hit the Parkway, because I really don't wanna be alone.  That said, we were climbing and descending at different paces, so the idea of being out there any longer than necessary didn't sit too well with me.  I felt bad, but I knew he'd understand.

So I kinda ended up riding the last seventy or so miles alone... or in the company of strangers wishing I was alone.

Me (center) riding between two chatty riders diving through a corner at some speed.  This is not my happy place, but I did put myself there, so...

Coming off the Parkway and on to the descent down Pineola that gave me hypothermia in 2019, I was being what I thought was overly cautious, but when I saw a squishy forked, fat-tired garvel man lying in the ditch covered in dust, I decided that was implementing just the right amount of caution.

I took a sorta unplanned eleven mile flyer at mile fifty five or so.  I was trying to stay in the dusty air behind a big white pickup going twenty something miles an hour because it felt so Paris Roubaix of me.  No real point to it, but some rather large man (most men seem large to a four apple me) decided to stick to my back wheel.  When we turned left onto Brown Mountain Beach Rd, I saw a group of six or so riders working together, and rather than jump in and save energy, I decided I wanted to blow by them... and the truck.

So, I did that for no particular reason.  In the end, they started working together, and along with the large man and a regular size woman (my size) that I passed after them, they came back and destroyed me.  Oh well.  I got them all back on the slog out of Maple Sally, but who's keeping score?

photo cred: Icon Media Asheville
The other reason I ride garvel other than frands... scenery.  That does not make me special.  We all like to look around, but if I'm bike cycle sport racing, I have a tendency to focus on all the other things.  I'm rarely ever in a hurry on my garvel bike, unless we've decided on a beer stop ahead or we're running outta daylight getting back home from the beer stop.

Washboard!

Braking bumps are one thing.  Either you can see the successive dips or all the bottles dislodged from their cages twenty feet ahead.  But washboards?  Coming down off of Maple Sally, I was not so pleasantly surprised by what I couldn't see but most certainly felt.  I'd considered panic-buying a eeSilk stem a couple weeks ago, but thought better of it.

1. I didn't know if I'd find the time to install, let alone ride it before the Bootlegger.
2. I don't think I'd need it for 99% of the riding I do.
3. It would cut into my tattoo budget.

Those multiple washboards on what by my observations of other Bootleggers are undersized tires were near death experiences.  

On my cycling data acquisition device (CDAD?), I never looked at the time.  I assumed time would not stop or go backwards.  I glanced at the calories, not so much to make informed decisions about fueling my efforts but just outta curiosity.  I occasionally glanced at the mileage, but since I never had a chance to take note of where any of the aid stations are, that information was pretty useless as well.  Most of the time, I was just looking at the map (with no preloaded course) and watching my black triangle move along the green/yellow/orange/climbing segments.  It was like playing a video game, except it hurt more than just my feels.

I also considered that once I was done with this ride, which I was pretty determined to finish, this would stand as my longest ride recorded on STRAVA (since I bought a CDAD in 2019)... probably forever.  It wiped the regretful worst experience ever at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (actually 101, but who's counting?).  "Probably forever" because I don't know if I like riding my bike for more than six hours at a time any more.  PMBAR doesn't count, because I'm definitely not "riding" the whole time, so don't bother coming at me with that.  Sixty sounds fun, eighty sounds like an adventure, but a hundred seems like proving a thing that I don't know I need to prove anymore.

Well, that is until I do again.

That won't be any time soon.

Tuesday, April 9

I like my streak well-done

I'm doing my best to settle into the fact that my 2024 "season" might be the first one without a mountain bike stage race since I first did La Ruta de los Conquistadors in 2004.  I'm also dealing with the irony that I'm publishing this post on the very day the Pisgah Stage Race starts, which I did last year... and it just happened to be the end of the streak.  Who knew?

BTW: I found these images in scrap books at my mom's house while packing her stuff for the big move.  She was printing out race reports from MTBR(?!?) years before the blerhg kicked off in January 2006.  Those pre-blerhg posts were my first dabblings in longer form writing, which started another streak... which is also destined to die at some point.  *sigh*

Twenty years is a very long streak, one that I will have a difficult time letting go.  Ever since that first one, I started in with a "what's next?" attitude.  2005 Trans Rockies?  People on the TR forum told me it would be impossible on a rigid single speed.  To put that into the "when I was a kid, we walked uphill both ways in five feet of deep snow" perspective, it was a seven day duo-only event, and we had plenty of seven hour plus days riding from one tent camping location to another living outta nothing more than we could stuff in a duffel bag... so yeth kids, stage racing was harder back then.

I did the last stage of the '05 Trans Rockies in Trish's skort, which let me tell you, descending steeps on a high posted 26" rigid bike while wearing a skort came with plenty of challenges.

Anyhoo, I was hooked on stage racing from then on.  All said and done, I finished twenty seven stage races in those twenty years (I'm not including and Tour de Burgs because it's not really real).  I only dropped outta two because of injuries that kept me from going on, and did half of the one week long '13 BC Bike Race with explosive diarrhea.  Good times.  I earned that belt buckle for sure.  

Obviously, I fell in love with Breck Epic and Trans-Sylvania Epic being that I did them eight and ten times respectively.  They're also the two that I tearfully dropped out of when I had my "you're not getting back on a bike tomorrow" injuries.  I've wrecked out of or quit plenty of races in my time, but those were surely the heaviest blows to my feels. 

I'm aware of the fact that eventually there's always gonna be a "last time" for everything, and I'm not always gonna be aware of that in the moment.  I can remember when I thought I'd do at least one hundie a year until I couldn't go the distance anymore, but I haven't saddled up for one since that shit show 2021 SM 100 when I showed up on a geared bike (for the first time ever) with two major nagging injuries and had my worst time ever... so I'd hate for that to be my "last" hundie in my life... but mebbe? Terrible way to leave off, I'd say more so the doing it on a geared bike than the being so slow or riding while injured and making my injuries worse tho.

This year has certainly been a reset for me... mebbe a realignment.  Being a good son has become a bigger priority.  The Pie and I have been working pretty hard on this, and when we work together, we're always better together.  

We celebrated our 29th anniversary this past Sunday by rummaging through our neighbor's garbage.

I used to be more consumed with, for lack of a better term, "cutting edge" bike stuff.  Refining my gear, staying in shape, having relative goals, considering what bike I'd want to be my next "last bike."  Now, I'm 99% content with all the things, and that's just not a feeling I'm used to after twenty five years of endurance mountain bike cycle sport racing.  That's going all the way back to when I was cutting the straps and hoses on my hydration packs to save weight for 24 hour races.

What a ding-a-ling.

Speaking of which, I can remember my last 24 hour race being the one I quit at 1:00AM while I was in second place overall (on my stupid rigid single speed) when I realized a little too late that I really didn't like doing this to myself anymore.  I definitely don't want my next stage race or any other stupid event to be my "last" in that same manner.  

All that said, this year will just be different for me.  My important adult stuff has to get handled, and then I'll get to think about what I'll do with my spare time.  My '24 "season" over there on the sidebar will be added to as soon as I can get back to steering my own ship.  I've got a big week coming up before the Bootlegger 100, but if I can make it happen, I'll be there.  I have no regrets dropping out of the race back in 2019 with "mild" hypothermia, but I've wanted to defeat that demon.  That said, I'm planning on riding my geared garvel bike... mostly because getting my doors blasted off riding outta Lenoir on a 32X18 mountain bike sucked all the balls.  That said, the last time I rode a hundred miles on a geared bike went how?

Oh yeah.

And also dammit.

I don't have the wherewithal to take the Epic EVO SS apart to nab the tensioner and then de-gear the Crux just for a one day thing, and I'm 99% sure I won't have the time to do all the swapping once I figure out at the last minute if I can actually go to the Bootlegger... so there's that.

I think that's plenty of yammering for now.  More later, I guess.