Tuesday, September 16, 2014

After “Party”

Late start from Charlotte to the hills.  Long-ish ride with stops for photos.  That left me pressed for time to get to The Hub before they closed.  Honestly, I couldn’t remember when they closed but I hurried anyway.

I had to settle for mountain photos on the go while I drove there.

It’s a relatively short drive to “civilization” from Dupont, but when I pulled up to The Hub they were closed.  Shit.  Where would I get my post ride beer?  You know, aside from sitting in a convenience store parking lot with a can of swill in a paper bag.  Since the start/finish for the Pisgah Monster Cross was only a few minutes away (and a really long race), I figured that there was a chance of some people still hanging around.

I was right.

Lowcountry Joel has ALL THE BURRITOS!

The usual suspects were still there hanging around, including Shanna, who was taking selfies with others…

After riding by myself for hours, I was happy to find some bike people to hang out with.  The plan was to shoot the shit for a little while, grab some food to go in town somewhere, and hit the road back to Charlotte.  That is, until I got invited to the Faster Mustache after party at the campsite up the road.

I tried to talk my way out of it.

“I should really to get back to Charlotte.  I have to get up early to do a road ride before I waste away watching football all day” I said.

But Zac dropped some wisdom on me, “What you really need to ask yourself is what would make the best story on the Internet.”

Hmmm.  He was right I suppose.  I’ve already talked way too much about road riding, and hanging out with the Charlotte crew in the hills sounded like a better time (although I’m a shitty storyteller.)  They all headed to camp and I headed to the store to stock up on beer.  I eventually returned to the campsite, where I immediately found Dicky making it rain.

That’s money in his hand.  I promise.

It was your typical campsite/party.  A fire was made, and Nick “Dip n Spray” was roasting his shoes.

You know, because Zac was holding all the wieners.

The conversations were odd and all over the place, but shit didn’t get too weird.  Well, I guess it was weird that I ended up with a picture of Dicky’s foot.

And Zac went from teasing Nick with his wiener to roasting his own ass in the fire.

At least it was a good fire.

I eventually decided to call it a night, especially since there were only a couple of us still awake.  I barely drank any of the beer I brought, so Dicky might still be wondering why his cooler was so damn heavy.  I hit the road and made the long trip back to Charlotte in the dark.  I got home pretty late so no road ride the next day.

Screw it.  I had way more fun riding by myself and hanging out with “normal” people afterwards.

Zac was right.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Left To My Own Devices

I don’t do well when I’m unsupervised and without some sort of plan.  I knew I wanted to head to the hills over the weekend, but I had no idea where.  I sorta thought I wanted to be out in Pisgah while the Monster Cross folks were out there grinding away on gravel.  That sounded like a plan I guess.

It was just me making that plan though.  I never told any of my usual riding crew that I was going, although I almost sent TomTom a text to invite him along (sorry.)  Maybe I didn’t want to be on a schedule or anything.  Who knows.  Having no one to hold me accountable early Saturday morning, I slept in.  Trips to the hills are supposed to start early to maximize the riding potential, but I found myself hanging around the house far too long.  Since it was obvious that I wasn’t getting out of the house in the wee hours of the morning, the little lady and I decided to go out and get some breakfast.

“Fuel for the mountains” I thought.

 Um, yeah.  Some kind of stuffed French toast thing.  I was stuffed.

I eventually told the little lady goodbye and hit the road.  I knew the weather was iffy out there so that kinda justified my late start (or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.)  As I got on the final stretch of road to the mountains, I glanced towards Pisgah and saw the darkest skies I’d ever seen out there. 

“Well, it looks clear over Dupont” I told myself.

So Dupont it was.  My late start meant that I had the place to myself.  After a week of dealing with people, I was pretty happy about that.

 I know the place really well which meant that I could get in maximum miles, have some fun, and not get lost or bonk way out in the middle of nowhere.  Of course, when you are in Dupont you have to check out the waterfalls.

 That’s the top, obviously.  My route didn’t take me down to the bottom of that one, but I did stop at another one that was a little more picturesque.

 It wasn’t just a sightseeing tour though.  You know, because I’m all about the danger.

 And I worked on my skills a little bit too.

 Okay, maybe a little more sightseeing…

 I ended the day blasting down Ridgeline.  There was one final climb to get to the top before a long downhill, so I stopped for a moment to follow the directions.

Prior to your descent, all dogs must be strangled with a rope.

I rode hard for a few hours.  I climbed, descended, and generally had a good time.  The last downhill was particularly pleasing, since I got a chance to push myself and barely escape a serious crash..  If I had wrecked on that last run, I would probably still be out there.  I guess that’s the downfall of riding all by my lonesome.

I do enjoy group rides, but being out in the hills all alone is pretty damn relaxing.  It helps me to forget about whatever went on during the week and quite honestly, I enjoy being by myself.  That was about to change though.  After hours in the woods with just me and my bike I craved a little human interaction.  With such a late start though, I wondered if I could find anyone to hang out with before I drove back to Charlotte.

I packed up my shit and headed towards Brevard.  I wondered if The Hub was still open, or those Pisgah Monster Cross folks were still hanging around…

Part two tomorrow.   

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fun Friday

It’s been a long week.  Work sucks as usual, but somehow I made it.  It’s not like I’m the only person that can complain about their job.

Any chance I can throw in a Star Wars reference, I will.  You know this.  Even if it doesn't make any sense.

Anyway, I’m glad it’s the weekend.  I’m sure the folks over at Interbike are glad too.  It’s been a long week for them, and hopefully today they’re packing up and getting out of town today.  Some folks probably had fun, and some, well…

you’ve probably already seen this by now:

That’s something even I wouldn't do.  I have limits, you know.

Anyway, we've made it.  All you have to do now is coast through today and the weekend is here.  Fall is on the way, the temperature is starting to cool down, and the hills are calling.

I think I might head up there tomorrow.  It’s been way too long.  Besides, it’s almost time for the leaves to start falling.

See y’all Monday.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Have No Goals

There.  I said it.  I haven’t done anything really good on the bike this year as far as racing goes.  I’ve had fun here and there, but I haven’t “raced” anything worthwhile and done well at it.  Looking back on the “season” so far, it’s easy to say that I’ve been lazy.  I haven’t had the drive to push myself and enter events that put me out of my comfort zone (save for the Riverfront Classic race that temporarily brought me out of XC retirement.) 

Truth is, the injury I suffered last year at SSUSA took a bigger toll on me than I expected.  I got back on the bike as quick as I could, but I knew I wasn’t ready.  Over a year later, I still have a little pain in my shoulder that affects me when I ride.  My right arm still goes a numb every once in a while, and I wake up throughout the night in a little pain in my shoulder.  I’m about as good as I’m gonna get health-wise, but the past year has been a struggle.  I thought it was all mental, but that’s because I was trying to tough out an injury without whining about it so much.  Take note, Eastwood, don’t rush back into it.  It takes a long time to recover.

With this season pretty much a wash as far as racing goes, I’ve been working on my fitness to prepare for next season (that might explain the road riding by the way.)  Since I’ve spent the last year pretending that I don’t feel like racing, I realize that I can always start looking forward to next season and start preparing myself.  The plan is to do more events next year, and maybe even be a little more serious about it.  Sure, I still like to drink beer and make every event a party, but I know now that I need to earn it first.  Work hard, play hard and all that happy horseshit.

You might be asking, “What about the rest of the season?  There are still more events on the horizon, right”   

Well yeah, but scheduling conflicts have pretty much shut me down for the year.  While it’s no secret that I don’t shy away from races that I haven’t properly prepared for, there’s nothing coming up that I feel like I can do (and actually finish.)  Two races that I planned to enter, the 6 Hour Grind on the Greenway and the Brunswick Brawl, have to be nixed due to scheduling conflicts.  The Grind is on the same date as Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day, which I refuse to miss.  I have a blast taking the little ones out for a ride, and to me that a lot more important than racing.  The following weekend is our Fall club camping trip in Pisgah, and that happens to be the same weekend as the Brunswick Brawl.  Shit.  I was looking forward to returning to Coastal NC to “race” for six hours, and the Grind is a race that I actually enjoy because it’s familiar to me.

There are other events though.  The Wilkes 100K is coming up next month, and while I have a free weekend I hadn’t originally planned to be there.  Once I talked myself into it, something else came up.  It still looks like I’ll be out there for it, but not racing.  More details to come later. 

What else is out there?  Nothing that tickles my fancy.  Maybe I don’t hang around with the cool kids enough to get excited about anything else.  I guess that’s the benefit of being on a real “team.”  Flying solo like I do, I have to rely on hearing about shit (usually last minute) and make a decision to take a shot at it.  I’m not saying that someone should invite me to join their team though.  Most of the local teams are full of some pretty cool people, so I have a feeling that no one wants an asshole like me slinging waffles and drinking beer while they’re trying to race.

I don’t blame them. 

I doubt I’ll tone down the party shit too much though.  Instead, I’ll probably ramp up the racing.  I (hopefully) still have plenty of support to make a great season and all that, but it looks like I’ll be on my own again.

There is “something” in the works as far as a team goes, but it’s nothing serious.  I can’t say anything about it just yet, but I can tell you that it might be pretty rad.  Most of the local teams are loaded with super fast guys that hang out together, race well, and can even party like rock stars when appropriate.  We’ll be just like that, but probably without the “racing well” part.  Okay, without the "super fast" part too. 

It’s time to take this shit up a notch.  If I start getting serious, it’s gonna be scary.

For me, mostly.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Roadie Fun

I think my road riding is getting out of control.  I mean, I actually enjoy it now.  I’m riding on the road more and more and having a good time doing it for some reason.  Perhaps an intervention is in order.

Since it’s football season here in ‘Merica now, my Sundays are booked from 1:00 p.m. until late in the evening.  While this is pretty much the only television I enjoy watching, I don’t enjoy the fact that I can’t ride my bike all day.  Well, I can I guess.  It’s a choice I’ve made.  Anyway, I figured that the only way I can get in a good ride before foosball starts is to put in some road mileage.  Rather than go at it alone, I invited Little Miss Sunshine to come along.

“How far are we going?” she asked.

“Maybe fifteen to twenty miles” I replied, knowing that I was full of shit.

She bought it and we hit the road bright and early Sunday morning.

She wasn’t the only victim though.  The night before when we were hanging out with TomTom, we started talking about our ride and he mentioned that he had borrowed a road bike.  “Awesome”, I thought.  We invited him to join us, and after a short ride from our house we uh, picked him up.  He is borrowing a single speed road bike, complete with flat pedals (he doesn’t believe in being clipped in.”  We rolled out from his house, and to make things fun, we took a not yet traveled path through a construction zone.

It was nice having zero traffic around.  I thought it would make TomTom comfortable on the ride, since he’s not used to all this roadie shit.

Baggy shorts, a mountain bike jersey, and flat pedals...on a single speed?  Who gives a shit.  He’s still riding.

Anyway, after a little tour of the soon to be new Interstate loop, we headed for the hills.  Not the real hills (as in Pisgah), but the hilliest neighborhood around.  I wanted to get in some climbing for uh, training purposes.  There are a few tough climbs along the route I picked, and TomTom rode them like a champ with his one, tough gear.  It kinda made me feel like a douche for riding gears.  My road bike is the only geared bike I have left though.  Perhaps I can change that.

So we made it through some steep hills, with one in particular that was leg burning.  We hit the final stretch, which was a gradual climb back towards the main road.  I let the single speed roadie take the lead.

And the little lady wasn’t too far behind.

Even though it was fun for the most part, some of it was a little tough.  I felt good getting out for a ride so early though, you know, pedaling a little bit before I did practically nothing for the rest of the day.  We ended up with almost twenty seven miles, which for a road ride isn’t really too much.  I enjoyed it a lot, but mostly because I had company.

Oh shit, is the beginning of a regular roadie group ride?  I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Hey Eastwood, aren’t you healed up enough to ride around on skinny tires?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Skills On The Farm

Saturday, I had the pleasure of helping out our local women’s mountain bike club, the Dirt Divas with another one of their skills clinics at Fisher Farm Park in Davidson.  I enjoy these very much, and any chance I get to help out I will (I guess it helps that Little Miss Sunshine was leading this particular one.)

We had a pretty good turnout of ladies and Dirt Dudes (as we are affectionately called.)  We hit different areas of the trail to work on some of the features, and after giving a quick demonstration we let the ladies get at it (we spotted them of course.)


The photos are blurry, I know, but at least you can see the Maxxis logo on the little lady’s tire.

The ladies are real encouraging towards each other, and we really don’t have to do much other than catch them if they start to fall.  Even though we hit each feature first, they don’t really feel like they can do it until the other ladies get them going.  Sometimes they get pushed beyond their comfort zones…

And with cheering from the other women they do just fine.

I mean who the hell would want to try something with just a bunch of creepy dudes standing around watching?

It was a good day.  Fisher Farm is a great place to work on this sort of thing, with all the features out there.  There’s nothing too advanced or anything, and with a little practice you can ride it all.  It has a good mix of terrain, structures, and other goodies, so tat makes it my favorite place to help with a clinic by far.

Thanks to the Divas for letting us help out.

There are some features out there that are creepier than us dudes though.

Or maybe it’s us dudes that make it creepy.

Um.  Yeah.

At least no one saw that.  Except you. 


Monday, September 8, 2014

I’m Here, Not There

Interbike starts today and I didn’t go.  Unlike the other times I didn’t go (which was all of them except last year), this year I had a few opportunities to attend.  Various supporters invited me to tag along but I wasn’t able to make myself available for any time off this month.  I’m on the outside looking in again like usual.  Maybe it’s not like usual, since I’ve been before and I know what I’m missing.

Yeah, a lot of the “Industry” folks complain about some of it, but I found quite a few things that made me want to go back.  The best part kicks off today, the Outdoor Demo.  I had a lot of fun riding new bikes in the desert.

I rode a few bikes, and came away from a demo for the first time ever with the desire to actually own one of the bikes I abused, I mean test rode.

It was a good decision, because after almost of year of riding my ROS9 I really love it.

Although I don’t ever make a big deal about cyclocross racing, I will admit that it’s fun to watch.  I got a chance to check out Cross Vegas, with a little help from a strategically placed rock next to a fence surrounding the race course.

Not a bad view for free I suppose.

One of the biggest things I will miss out there this year is the Ride For Reading Interbike Book Delivery.  It was so nice to be a part of something that made a difference.

I was tempted to call in sick to work just to fly out there for that.  Srsly.

Inside the convention center, there will be lots of booths and exhibits again this year no doubt. 

I get to see new stuff, shoot the shit with old friends, and even make some new friends.  That part is pretty cool, even for a barely in the industry asshole like myself. 

And let’s not forget the free beer…

Yeah, I certainly enjoyed that.

So, no Interbike for me this year.  I just couldn’t make it happen.  It's okay.  I’m not there, but luckily the Internets will be.  I’m sure I’ll be checking out the show reports and highlights, and maybe I’ll even text a few people that are out there to get the inside scoop. 

With this being the year of the 27.5 and E-Bikes though, maybe it’s better that I stayed here in Charlotte.

There’s always next year I guess.  You know, if I haven’t pissed off all the people that will invite me to go by then.

Back to our regularly scheduled nonsense tomorrow.  Live(ish) from North Carolina.