Wednesday, September 20

Baby step onto the elevator... baby step into the elevator... I'm *in* the elevator

Despondent.  That's pretty much the word.  Once the afterglow of somehow The Horny Cat 69 being a "success" wore off, I found myself sitting on the couch alone on Sunday.  I was as glum as it gets.  I blame it on my own frame of mind as much as any outside factors, but the lack of clear instructions when I left the ER didn't give me much clarity or what some call "hope."

Without getting into the details too deeply, I didn't know much about the follow-up appointment(s), when I could get my leg brace off, dressing protocols, and any idea when to expect anything to happen.  Thus me asking what I now feel like was a stupid question on FaceBook regarding anxiety about bending my knee for the first time after stitches.

It took a bunch of phone calls (and voice mails) to cut through the confusion before finally getting some answers.  I was outta the leg brace on Wednesday (as opposed to seven days post-visit as I was told by one or two of the many people that played around in my meat at the ER), I was allowed to wash everything, let the sutures be open to the air, and start bending my knee as comfort allows... which was awfully welcome because my calf was forgetting what walking is.

I eventually agreed to letting The Pie drive me over to the scene of my accident.  She was driving me to and from work every day, and hobbling around at .25X my normal speed and only doing office work made me feel even more frustrated until my leg was released from captivity, so the glimmer of hope made it easier to go look at what I'd done to myself.

I felt less stupid once I figured out what happened, found out that it's occurred previously when people rode through the flat grass bit (but there's death hiding in there), and that others almost ate shit (but didn't) taking the same line at The Horny Cat 69.  

Making the most of the weekend, I followed through with plans to go to the Pisgah Monster Cross on Saturday with my Spoke Easy frands and teammates.  Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever assured me that he'd find something for me to do, a VIP parking spot, and all the beer I could eat if I came.

Although it's hard to see people heading out on an adventure you'd planned to do yourself, mebbe you get used to it.  I got to witness just how calm it is to promote a race and wait a few hours for the riders to come back... and also how exciting it can be when it's time to swap the START sign out for the FINISH sign minutes before the leaders roll in.

This is how the sausage is made.  I could not lend a hand in this sausage making party tho.

I saw the first mechanical DNF (thus the tapping of the kegs at 9:30AM).  The first medical situation.  The second medical situation.  Finally, the lead two riders coming in... which was awesome.   Wienke Brooks and Hallstrom Lars (those are their real names) coming in to the cyclocross barriers side-by-side after four hours and fourteen minutes of heated racing.  Apparently, it was at least Wienke's second rodeo but probably Hallstrom's first, because when they got to the barriers, Wienke started leaping and Hallstrom came to a dead stop.

As Cosmo Catalano would say, "... and that's how the race was won®."

After that, I found the very nice camera that Steve Barker of Icon Media Asheville had left on the timing table.  Figuring Eric was busy doing Eric stuff, I engineered a way to lanyard it to my wrist using hair ties (I don't really need them anymore) so I could be confident that visits to the keg between photos wouldn't put me at financial risk. 

I then took like a billionty finish line and podium photos (Steve's better and harder earned action photos are there too) as if I knew what I was doing.  I'd taken photography class in college, but back then our cameras were wooden boxes with a sheet you'd drape over your head.  I'd imagine if Steve posts any blurry images, assume those are mine (they came out okay, so I guess his camera > wooden box).

I honestly had a great time doing it.

Also, props to my Spoke Easy teammates, Barlow, Burke, Dr Mike, and Bill Nye on their respective finishes but more so for the fact that I'm pretty sure they were the last racers sitting around the keg until everyone else finished.  "Winning" doesn't always mean coming across the finish line first, although in Wienke's case, it totally did.

To round out my weekend...

I'd promised myself I'd bug Türd to rebuild all my Kashima coated bits... if there was ever a rainy day... when we were doing nothing... and we both had some free time.

He serviced four forks (three mine, two his) and one rear shock in three hours aided only by my ability to take the bikes apart and put them back together between the servicing... and possibly slowed down by my looking in all his drawers and boxes and asking "what's this for?"  Sure, I mighta put the wrong wheel on the right bike, but what does that matter?

Yeth, that really happened.

Finally, I was able to ride my garvel bike into work on Monday, ending my longest off-the-bike streak of eight consecutive days since something like 1989 (I can't include a trial run Sunday evening to see if my knee part would bend enough yet).  I've gone from the paralyzing old person fear of suddenly tripping while walking to the slightly less older person fear of my bike suddenly coming out from under me for no reason...

which never happens, emmaright?

Baby steps.

Monday, September 11

The Horny Cat 69 '23: One and Done

I hate that I'm editing this so late, but huge props to the OG Mountain Cat 100 for inspiring this whole entire thing.  I will be back next June.  I still probably won't officially finish tho.

I was a hot ball of stressed out shit all last week.  Fortunately, I only eat when I'm bored, and stress eating isn't my thing, so I dropped a few pounds.  I was stalking the weather forecasts on three different apps and two local news stations worried about possibly having to move The Horny Cat 69 to the rain date... which was going to cause a lot of problems... to include two more weeks of anxiety.

But I didn't pull the plug, and when I sprung outta bed on Saturday morning, I immediately looked outside.  The ground was bone dry.  Pull out my phone... and all those big chances of a rain-out had pretty much vanished.  I could not have been happier, despite the luscious hangover I had because Josh the Wonderboy swung into town Friday night... and we had access to a fridge full of beer.

After some mucking about the house, I drove over to the start in my Honda Fit of Rage so I could transport a change of clothes for folks that wouldn't wanna hang out at the party in their stinkies when they finished at my house...

And of course the parking lot is jam packed with cars from some running thing that I guess happens every week that I didn't know about.  Oops.  Sorry, Horny Catters.

People eventually started figuring out their own solutions to the parking issues.  I got "my" people into their positions, and went down and pre-rode the roll out from the start to the first trail just so I knew exactly what I was doing.  I came down the bootleg trail connection into the parking lot and almost ate shit in a rut.  Better remember that...

Riding the geared bike because Bill Nye and I are gonna do a s-l-o-w sweep on the first eight or so miles of trail to keep people going the right way... if only for a bit.

Yell at everyone, thank everyone, last minute instructions, and then I roll out with all the riders slowly making their way to their bikes.  Up the hill, looking over my shoulder, it looks like I got everyone in tow and should be able to get them into the first trail unscathed.  Well, them anyways.

I hit the same stupid little trail into the parking lot and took the same stupid line, except this time it took my bike out from under me.  I slid down the trail into the parking lot on my left side, and Ryan's body came flying over my head.  I jumped up, did a 1/2 second assessment of my body and bike, and led the riders the final hundred or so feet to the Nintendo Loop.

Then I finally did a full damage report.  Urp.  

I looked up at everyone around and said, "I'm gonna need to go to an urgent care."

Puzzled looks went to looks of horror when their gazes got to my knee.

Not trying to be a tough guy, but I've been mountain biking since the late '80s, and somehow I'd never needed stiches.  Sure, I've experienced plenty of lacerations that could use some sewing up, but I don't  really care about scars and whatnot.  My legs and elbows are such a hot mess.

But this... it's gonna need some attention.  I'm not sure, but I think that's my patella looking back at me.

So Nathan volunteered to drop me at the nearest urgent care.  After a short wait, I got plenty of Lidocaine and a thorough rinsing and...

"I don't like what I'm seeing.  You could have fractured your patella, chipped it or ruptured your joint capsule.  You need to get to an ER where they can get some X-rays and start some IV antibiotics."

"Do I have time to run home first, change clothes, grab some headphones, and a phone charger?"

"Sure.  Do you want something for the pain?"

"I'm not in pain.  Haven't really felt any since it happened.  I'm just pissed."

"You're not in pain?"

*puzzled look*

So get back to my house, change, and gear up for what I know is going to be an eternity in the ER.

Sit here, go sit there, stick an IV in my arm that's not hooked to anything just in case.  X-rays, go sit here again.  Try to telephonically manage my friends who have taken over assorted party duties. Multiple medical people take a peep inside my knee mushing my meat around and taking pictures.

"Are you in pain?"



This conversation is had so many times that I had to ask, "If I'm not feeling pain, is there something wrong with me?"

"Not necessarily."

So after numerous PAs, doctors, nurses and an ortho all had a chance to play puppet mouth with the hole in my leg, it really got good.

To find out if your joint capsule is leaking, they have a really neat way to find out.  They stick a giant needle in behind your kneecap, like way up in there, and then they inject up to 250ml of fluid.  If it starts leaking out, you've got a problem that needs fixed.  If it doesn't leak, you have another problem. 

"Where's all the fluid going to go in my body?"

"Oh, we just syringe it all back out."

And that was when I really got to feel "pain."

In the end, I got four internal stitches on my fascia and I think nine on the outside.  And joy of joy, I get to wear a demobilizer (a foam sleeping pad with sticks that is Velcro'ed in place) on my leg so I don't bend my knee for at least a week.  Honestly, the doc wanted to stitch another cut just below this one, and I said no thank you.

After that, everything was peachy.  I have a great group of friends who got the party rolling and were welcoming back the riders as they came in.  June and Joy scooped me from the ER with pizza in hand, and dropped me right at my house.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time regaling each other with tales from their days.  Large amounts of HandUp gear was handed out in the most unorganized manner, and Stone beers were pounded long into the night.  Thanks to HandUp and Stone Brewing and a few others who kicked in extra doll hairs, I'm going to (eventually) have a bunch of money to donate to the Tarheel Trailblazers.

Now whatever pictures in whatever order followed by the really gory one.

I only have mebbe fifteen beers and zero pizza left.  

Good job, fellers.

The show was pretty good.

Nick crashed the party.

RJabroni taking notes for the 2024 Triple Dip.


The Wonderboy wondering why he missed the start, rode all over south Charlotte not on the course, and puked on his bike.

It was a double feature at the hose.

Carl, the only guy who brought his own number plate.

Lost his job, got a new better job, now has beer too.

Another dunno.

It got pretty late and the hangers on retired to the house to reminisce.

That plate.

The only blood I saw that wasn't mine.

Burke looking to see if he took any of my glorious KOMs on the golf course (I'm just guessing here).

Lee got tons of photos out there on the course, so click on over and live vicariously.

Trying to come up with some kind of way to get a broken but not beaten fifty four year old man a half mile down the road for karaoke at Lucky Lou's.

And finally...

I'm still having a hard time looking at my patella, but I did get a fair dose of perspective at the ER.  While I was waiting in one chair or another, I heard an announcement that a pediatric trauma was inbound.  At one point, I was sitting next to someone who looked like he'd been thrown out of a moving car.  So all in all, sitting there with a hole in my knee and only minor discomfort mostly consumed with thoughts about what to do about work, being off the bike for what will be for me a record amount of time, and how I'm missing the party at my house and...

My life is good.  I'll be back out on the bike in no time, and a lot of people had a great day yesterday (or they were too ashamed or kind to bitch about the experience to the guy with a hole in his knee).. so there's that.  I'm happy.

I will rebald.

And what do you know about that?

We (they) did it.

Tuesday, September 5

Treeshaker 6 Hour Mountain Bike Challenge '23

The Treeshaker 6 Hour Challenge is the first event I've done since getting sick in late May, missing Trans-Sylvania Epic, and limping through the Mountain Cat 100 in early June.  I don't know what all I've been doing (except recovering from some crazy bug bite thing and a trip to Colorado), but it felt good to do something again.

We had a decent field of single speeders this year compared to just Kevin and myself last year... which is nice... because misery abhorring a vacuum or something. 

Aside.  Ask me what I like to get to races early, and I'll bring up things like the fact that for some odd reason, they struggled to find my number plate even though they could see that I registered.  I've got nerves enough as it is, so getting up at 5:00AM to do a local event is worth it to me.

Line up towards the front.  The Treeshaker starts with a decent half mile climb that makes it so single speeders don't (have to) get dropped before you dip into the single track... assuming you're okay with going from zero to sixty in three seconds and holding it.

Gravel road, up the hill through the wet grass in the start/finish area, dive back down... and see a rider ahead lose it on the slick grass turn in a tumbling pile of bike and aqua jersey.  Sorry, Johnathan.  I get what I would call a decent start (for a quinquagenarian), so now I'm focused on not tailgating the rider ahead of me to keep from having to touch the brakes every time the pack accordions.  This works when it does and doesn't when it don't.  At some point, Johnathan recovered from touching the floor and catches back on to my back wheel. 

He's strong like bull, but admits he's not much for descending.  That means either I let him ahead of me and waste energy when I'm braking when I shouldn't lest I bump his back wheel, and then I'm forced to reaccelerate, or keep him behind me, drop him going down, and then blow myself up every time he closes the gap back to me.  We try both methods, and both are the opposite of awesome.  He's in the six hour open men, so I'm having a hard time not imagining this being our fate for the next five or so hours.  His company is nice from a conversation stand point, but we are riding in an incompatible manner.

I stop after two laps to get fresh bottles, and I'm hoping that the gap between us will naturally open up so we can do our own thing.  It doesn't last.  I'm back on his wheel before I see him fly off the side of a low bridge.  Doh.  He catches back up right before we get to one of the rock gardens.  I look back moments later, and he's just gone.  It's like the rocks ate him whole.

Riding around in circles for hours in a local park type racing is odd like that.

Time is a blur after that marked moment, and the laps fly by.  It just becomes a math problem at that point.  I'm going to have time to do eight laps, and I don't want regrets like I had last year about cutting out at seven with enough time on the clock to go out for eight... and just missing the overall top three (which is pointless, but whatever).  I stopped a couple times asking around for current'ish results, but things weren't crystal clear.  It looked like I'd only need seven to win the single speed class as I'd probably be the only SS'er to squeak in seven before the 1:30PM cutoff, assuming I could keep up the same consistent lap times.  It also looked like I was in the top three overall... mebbe... based on... loose math.

So I told myself, "fine... eight laps."

Which would make it almost an eighty mile ride, my longest time in the saddle since the Mountain Cat 100 months ago.  My attention was turning shit on me, and I was making dumb mistakes.  Like squeezing out my helmet pads on a fast section of the course and dowsing my glasses in sweat.  Then stopping to squirt water on the lenses, but accidentally hosing them with my bottle full of Carborocket 333 mixed with Rocket Red beet juice (not ideal).  I lacked focus, and even though I'd already once caught a pedal on something mysterious in the weeds at the exit of a bridge, I'd forgotten the incident.  This time, on my very last lap, the pedal caught (again?), I lunged forward, and my saddle punched me in the butthole something hard.  Like, "do I need to go to urgent care?" hard.  Like seeing stars but with my brown eye hard.

Of course, with about two miles left, my right quad and hammy started to vibrate in a pre-cramp tango.  I'm convinced it's a mental thing, being that on lap two, I realized I'd brought zero mustard packs.  I was full of cramp anxiety from then on.  So I told myself the cramps weren't real like ghosts and fair elections.  My muscles listened.

I finally finished my eighth lap a little after about six hours of racing.  I took first single speed with Dr Mike coming in right behind me.  I'm glad I went out for that eighth lap, as I was able to snag a pointless, acknowledged only by myself second overall... to a twenty three year old guy who was fast enough to win a car (for a year) racing bikes this summer.

The whole Spoke East crew made out rather well, with Sarah and Nick pulling out a first in the Duo CoEd (and an unacknowledged second overall in the Duo cat), Dr Mike with a second in Single Speed, and Mikey with Best Hematoma.

l-r: Dr Mike, myself, and Too Tall Ryan

Looking forward to getting the Horny Cat 69 humming this weekend.

Friday, September 1

Final Horny Countdown

This is the last post before the Horny Cat 69 donation period shuts down Sunday at midnight... a post which is being written on my couch... while watching Equalizer after just finishing Equalizer 2.

So don't fucking expect poetry.

There's not much left to say.  The weather forecast looks great... except there's a 100% chance of stupidity looking at weather forecasts this far out.  Suffice to say, it's only $10.  Throw it down now or just miss out on this once in my lifetime non-event.  I'm not saying it will never happen again, but it does add to my own work-related, race-related, other-related nightmares.  As someone who loses sleep over rogue socks, this is a big one.

I've done the math on the party budget, and let's just saying kiddie pooling the money together means we'll have plenty of beer and pizza.  Add in the additional beer from various other sources, and we should be able to go long into the... evening.  I think I might just keep all the prizes for the best karaoke performance at Lucky Lou's that night.  I probably won't do it, but it seems like a very Denzel thing to do.  His chief weapon is surprise...and beer.  His two chief weapons are surprise and beer and ruthless karaoke.

I digest.

As I said before, if we get weathered out, we will do this on September 23.  If that get's weathered out, I'll donate all the money to the Tarheel Trailblazers, and we can pat ourselves on the back for all the tools we bought.

I'm as excited as I am nervous for putting on something.  I wanna have fun.  I think this will be... "fun."  I'm super jealous that I can't take part because I need to take some responsibility for the happy ending.  It's honestly a good ride and a genuine challenge.  I hate you and love you all at the same time.  If I wasn't such an anal-compulsive maniac, I'd be riding with yinz.  I so wanna.  But I'm a control freak, so I'll start things off, do one "sweep lap" on the first bit of trail, and then head back the house and wait for yinz to show back up.

And I will do my best to take that party into the good night.

I've pounded the virtual pavement long enough.  I have the money of fifty plus individuals which is about half as many as I could tolerate and twice as many as I expected.  I know I'll regret this the morning after, but such is life.  Clean up only lasts hours.  Glory last for days.  Maybe as many as three.

My (smol) house and (smol) driveway is relatively open.  Reach out to me if crashing is your best option.  You could make a whole day of this.  A weekend perhaps.

No more pissing around.  If you wanna do this, send me an email at SMELLYCAT100K at hotmail dot com, and I'll shoot you back my VENMO deets for the $10 payment.  All the real pre-details are here in the original post.

I've got to go now.  Denzel is about to kill a bunch of people in Home Mart, Aisles 3-11, and he really likes to keep Aisle 5 clean.

Wednesday, August 30

Also also the Mild Mild West Tour '23

Waking up already in Trestle Bike Park was cake.  Being greeted by the lift operator saying "welcome to your own private bike park" was the icing on that cake.

Sure, $90 seems steep to someone who's used to Snowshoe prices, but we managed to get it down to 140 vertical feet per dollar spent.  Big ups to everyone who stayed home that day and chose not to create an inconvenient crowd.

I didn't stop a whole lot to take pictures.  Feels like it's kinda discouraged, anyways.  BTW: $8 for a can of Coke is only slightly more ridiculous when a local craft beer is $9.

We accidentally found this free campground south of Leadville when we overshot our original planned stop.  Sure, more dealing with the generator generation, but at least we didn't have to poop in a hole in the ground.

Next was the highly recommended Dr Park.  Nobody warned us about the final three miles of the climb, but I can't hate because the descent was so worth it, aside from...

If you've ever been, imagine yourself going down the super flowy 30+ mph dirt ribbon that's smoother than a baby's butt... and somehow puncturing your 2.4 tire with an insert AND ripping it beyond plugging.  Just imagine.

And... as so many times it happens in Colorado, the descent ended on exposed, loose trail, turning me from a thirty mile an hour hero through the trees hero to a sphincter clenched zero very quickly.

Also, Bill Nye had a handy way to get his insert down the mountain that I then realized totally wouldn't work for me with my insert of another brand... and also lack of a fanny pack.  NO WHAMMIES.

Not really surprising anyone, but Dr Park mighta been my favorite ride of the trip.

The stream crossing made these NC bois feel at home.

Bill Nye decided to take to longest way across, I'm assuming to cool off before climbing up the gulch.

At the top before talking to some moto guys and a bird that didn't speak English.

Once again, a Bill Nye trip saved with the Topeak Tubibooster.  I do not road trip without it.

We had a sweet creekside campsite that night, so we were at least able to finally apply water to our soiled selves.  Bill Nye informed me the next morning that we were just across the road from this hidden outhouse.  I personally couldn't even make it across the threshold *vomit*, so I ended up digging a hole again. 

Animals.  I swear there were a thousand chipmunks crossing the downhill in front of me playing some form of chicken... but they probably call it "chipmunk."

We needed to move on the next day, so upon Jordan's advice (someone who knows my tastes), we headed up to Crested Butte for Teocali Ridge.  The climb was shorter than Dr Park, but way more arduous.

Cows not being impressed by my climbing prowess.

We came to this stream crossing that had a billionty cow paths going in and out of it.  Nobody warned us about that.   

As you can see on my data acquisition device, we poked and prodded our way down quite a few less than ideal paths before realizing that the creek was indeed the road.  That was not in the brochure.

Almost, almost, almost above tree line at 11,350 feet.

But we did earn our way up there.

I never take stupid selfies because they're stupid so here's a stupid selfie.  I can no longer say I don't do this.

It was from this point on that the "road" turned into trail and got super Wheeler feeling.  Whilst I do love my single speed, my vacation bike was finally serving its special purpose.  I always wondered what kinda trails I'd be able to climb at the Breck Epic on a geared bike, and now I know.  Not saying I'd do BE on a geared bike, but whatever.   I also now know why 30 and 28 tooth rings exist.  Because Colorado exists.

We headed back to the low hanging fruit free campground we'd found a couple days back to save us from looking for something else, and to put us in striking distance to some Front Range stuff on the way back to civilization.  The plan was Maryland Mountain, but we woke up in the rain, drove in the rain, and the only magical place that wasn't getting active rain on the Front Range was Golden... so White Ranch it is.

To say it wasn't raining would be a bit of a white lie.  It was actively moisting as we climbed the three mile/1,300 foot ascent up Belcher Hill.  

Parking lot magpie trying to determine if Bill Nye was running Ergon GA1 or GE2 grips by tasting them.

The climb up was more affirmation of the geared bike.  The descents... didn't matter.  We slid and hucked and whatnot back down to the parking lot, Bill Nye testing the limits of the slickery whilst I watched.

And that was that.  Hardly an epic way to end a trip, but it was almost looking like we weren't getting a final ride in at all. 

I'd say we met our goals.  We didn't finish all beat up and down, the mechanical issues were all easily addressed, and we saw some new shit without driving five or six hours a day.  We had good times and got to hang out with some of our westerly frands.  

I was kinda tired when I got back, but here's hoping that all that riding and hanging out from 8,000-11,500 feet above sea level boosts my hemogoblins (blood ghosts) and makes me strong like bull for this weekend's Treeshaker 6 Hour Challenge.