Monday, April 20, 2015

Shootout

I missed Thursday and Friday.  Sorry about that.  I mean, Who Gives A Shit.  Anyway, I may or may not have mentioned that my cross country season resumed over the weekend in Danville, VA.  Friday morning I woke up feeling no more effects from Death Virus 2015, so I was hoping for a good day on the bike on Sunday.  I tried to relax and take it easy leading up to the race, but I had too much shit to do.  I’ll talk more about that later I guess.

Anyway, the forecast for Sunday in Danville featured a one hundred percent chance of rain.  I was looking forward to shitty weather actually, because mentally I like to think I can handle it better than a lot of folks.  The forecast model kept changing leading up to the weekend, but when I hit the road bright and early I was happy.


I’m not really happy about all the rain we’ve had around here lately (keeping our local trails closed), but I was happy about a potential “advantage” on race day.  But about an hour and forty five minutes into the drive everything changed.

As soon as I hit the Virginia state line it wasn’t raining anymore.

 
No worries.  I still wanted to race.  I got there with plenty of time to sign my waver and warm up, and soon after we lined up.  Once we started I had to spin like crazy on a long, flat section to try to get into the woods first.  It hurt like hell to spin that fast, but I got in second…

Right on the leader’s wheel.

The rolling hills in the beginning of the course were fun, and I felt pretty good.  My heart was still racing from spinning so much in the beginning, but I knew I would recover soon.  Once we started climbing up switchbacks though, I was getting frustrated.  Three of us were pulling away from the group, but the leader was spinning in a low gear and taking the climbs way too slow.  This caused extra effort on my part, and once we finished that section I was gassed.  I let one guy go by and kept pushing.

Suddenly, my legs felt like cement blocks.  I had no energy, most likely because my body hadn't fully recovered from my sickness (that's the official diagnosis from Little Miss Sunshine anyway.)  I let one guy go and then another, and sat solidly in 5th place. I figured that I would still recover, but each climb hurt worse than the one before it.  They weren’t that bad (and my gearing was good for them), but I was just pooped.

I decided to hang on the best I could and maybe make my move on the second lap. 

The rest of that lap hurt until I came out on a long, flat-ish section (about two miles worth.)  At this point I realized that my gear choice sucked since I was spinning like crazy and couldn’t go as fast as I wanted.  I started thinking that the geared riders were dropping me here, and that I would never catch back up.  So much for recovering.

Suddenly, I came up on a rider.  He was from one of the groups that took off before me, and when I passed him I felt a little burst of energy.  Soon after we came out on a road, which meant more flat and more spinning.

Shit.

Crossing the start/finish line, I soon entered the woods again for lap two.  I was hoping that my energy would come back somehow.  I had some time to make up.

Tomorrow:  the conclusion.  You know, because I always drag this shit out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Little Adventure

Our convoy arrived at DuPont ready to have a fun day.  We started out climbing up some fire roads, and when we got to the first intersection we noticed some signs that looked like they were marking a race course.  Just then, a few runners came by.  We cheered and heckled them, then took off towards the Hilltop trail.  As we hit the singletrack, the runners started coming by more frequently.  We pulled over and let each one go by, but it was starting to get a little annoying (especially on the fast downhill stuff.) eventually we hit the end of that trail and got away from the runners by checking out some waterfall action.

After that, more fire road climbing.  We didn’t really see anymore runners, but the roads were busy with other cyclists and some hikers.    Taking a slight detour off our route, we stopped at a covered bridge to check out the top of High Falls.


We had some first timers in our group, and the route I took them on was a nice intro.  Before we left the covered bridge, I warned everyone that the climb would get a little shitty.  It did, but at least it was on a fire road still.  Once we made the final grunt to the top, we got to ride on the airstrip and were rewarded with one of the nicest views out there.

After hanging out for photos and conversation, we descended the Airstrip trail in a hurry.  The group loved the fast downhill, and everyone was all smiles. 


I decided to change the route up a bit at this point, and since we were close we decided to hit Bridal Veil Falls.

I’m glad we did, since it’s one of the neatest things to see out there.



And since there were no longer any signs stating otherwise, we went behind the falls.




The rocks were slippery, but I learned a long time ago that if I take my shoes off, my DeFeet socks give me way more traction.

We were far across the forest, and the next part of our route would take a while.  After finishing up at the falls we had to climb up a gravel path to get to the main road.  It was at that point my stomach started feeling the effects of too many breakfast burritos with way too much hot sauce.  The group rode up while I pushed my bike (for fear of having an accident.)  On the way up I ran into the Dirty Party Cycle and The Z Crew, and while I did have a nice conversation with them I was hoping that I would make it to a bathroom. 

Sorry if I seemed to be in a hurry.

Anyway, we rode lots of fireroad, and along the way I contemplated stopping in the woods to uh, alleviate my stomach issue.  I fought it off, but it kept getting worse.  Like a mirage in the desert though, the top of the last climb had an oasis of porta potties.

It was a photo finish.  That’s all I need to say.

Now that I felt better, we played around on the skills area nearby. It was fun as always…


Some people were getting tired since we’d been out for so long, so I assured everyone that we had “one more climb” until some rad downhill.  We all made it, and the reward was a fast, fun descent down the Ridgeline trail.

Well, sort of.

We all took off one by one, with me somewhere in the middle after trying to wrangle the group.  The trail was in perfect condition, so I was letting it all hang out by going as fast as possible.  Coming around a corner, I spotted a bunch of horses (with riders) coming up the trail.  I had plenty of time to stop and pull over, and they were very kind as they rode by.  They told me there were eight of them, so after I counted them all I hopped back on the bike and let it go again.  I weaved around a blind corner after scrubbing a little speed, then let off the brakes again to hit the last half mile as fast as I could. 

Out of nowhere, there were two more horses.  I grabbed both brakes as hard as I could.  I had my drooper post down and my weight all the way back, but my bike started tipping forward.  The first horse was jumping around like crazy, either from being scared to death of being hit or the fear of me kissing it on the mouth.

Yeah, I was that close.  Yuck.

I hopped off my bike and pulled to the side of the trail.  The horse riders said nothing until I asked if there were any more behind them.

“Uh, no.”

They seemed pretty clueless about everything.  I wasn’t mad, but I wondered why they would pick that trail to ride up with horses.  You know, the one that always has mountain bikers flying out of it at high rates of speed.  I think our group did a great job of sharing the trails, but it was still pretty scary.  I guess I’m glad me or the horse didn’t get hurt.

It was still a really fun day.  A long day in the saddle riding some sweet singletrack, checking out some pretty waterfalls, and hanging out with cool peeps.  I enjoy it every time we go.

Our camping trip was once again a success.  We had some good rides, drank good beer at the best shop up in the hills, and ate like kings.

And adventures like these are why I love mountain biking.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Roughing It

So working backwards (sorta), I’ll talk about the beginning of the weekend.  I couldn’t get Friday off from work, but I was able to get out a little early to head out to the Tarheel Trailblazers Spring Camping Trip.  Leaving the Charlotte area as quick as I could, I was stressing out.  A shitty day at work and trying to get to the mountains on time left me a little frantic, but I calmed down once I got a little closer.

A little over two hours later, I pulled into The Hub.  They close at 6:00 p.m. on Fridays, but stayed open late just for our crew.  They’ve done this twice before, and it means a lot to us.  We got to hang out and drink beer, buy stuff, and shoot the shit…

And while I was there I saw one of my stickers, strategically placed next to one from Endless Bike Co.:


It was a nice time.  Big thanks to The Hub/Pisgah Tavern for taking care of us as usual. 

We grabbed dinner from across the parking lot and brought it back, spent some of our money in the bike shop, and eventually decided that we should get back to our spot at the Davidson River Campground.  Most people arrived earlier in the day to setup camp and ride a little, but I had to set up everything in the dark.  Luckily, with the nice weather forecast I planned to camp out of my hammock for the first time ever.  It was a simple, yet comfortable setup.

Taken the next morning because it was dark when I hung it up.  Meh.

The worst part about sleeping in a hammock is that when the sun comes up, you’re up.  Luckily, the first thing I saw was quite pleasing.

Until I looked down and realized that I’d stayed up a little late the night before.

I think I remember chugging that last IPA before I settled into my sleeping bag.  Yay camping.

I slept well.  I always sleep on my stomach at home, so I was a little concerned that I would have trouble falling asleep on my back (hence the “extra” beer.)  I was warm and toasty, and only woke up once due to the call of nature.  Getting out of a hammock in the dark to find a spot in the woods for relief is a little tricky, but I guess I managed.

Or maybe that’s when I drank that beer.  Who gives a shit.

Anyway, it was time to get moving.  One by one, the rest of the campers starting wandering about.  Campmaster Mike cooked up some breakfast, which looked like it was intended for a small army.  So, I ate like I was off to fight a small army.  My stomach was happy, but later it would be disappoint.

We had a nice ride planned for the day and we were ready…


Once everyone got all gussied up, we headed across the street to the Ranger Station to meet up with some out of town folks.  Some people took off to hit some Pisgah gnar, while the rest of us convoyed over to DuPont.  I was leading a touristy ride through the forest, with some rad singletrack thrown in to make sure we could say we went mountain biking.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about our tour.

Yeah, I’m gonna drag this out.  The weather is shitty, so I have nothing else to do.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Long Short Weekend

 I was gone to the hills all weekend. I really, really needed a trip like that. I’m a little tired, but it was worth it. Of course you’re here for the stories. I’m gonna play it backwards.

Sunday morning, a group of our people took off on a Pisgah death march. I took a group of people that were interested in riding, but interested in being drug out into the hills to be left for dead. We rode one of the seasonal trails (which close in a few days), which I could find on a map. Maybe it was misspelled, since I’ve never heard of it.


This ride was supposed to be easy-ish, but nothing in Pisgah really is. Right off the bat, we started going up…



And rode/walked some sketchy stuff…



Like most rides out there, we went up. But once we got to the top, the view was worth it…



We rode some pretty fun downhill stuff too, but we were moving so fast that there were no photo opportunities. I’m okay with that, because I know how rad it was. The group had fun, and we didn’t kill anyone. The group headed back home once we finished, but I still wanted to see some more cool mountain stuff.

So I did.



What an awesome day. And that was only part of my weekend.

See y’all tomorrow.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Fun Friday

Today, I’m gonna make this one short.  First, let’s have a public service announcement…


Yeah, that’s scary.  We have a few of these little bastards around here.  That being said, I’m getting out of town for a while.  Work has been more stressful than ever, I’m just getting over Death Virus 2015, and I need a break.

I’m heading to the hills after work today for some camping and mountain bicycle riding.  I loaded up my truck this morning, and last night I got my bike ready for some mountainy fun.


Who gives a shit.

Happy Friday.  See y’all next week.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Local Is Better

Yesterday was a much needed day off from blogging.  I’m getting back to normal from Death Virus 2015 I think.  Who gives a shit.  Let’s move on.

Back before the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, I had to do a little work on my bike to put it in “Endurance Mode.”  Mostly that meant putting on an easier gear, but it also meant that I had to see what lingering issues I had.  I noticed that my standard cog for everything around here was getting worn, but I guess after a few years of use and abuse that happens.  Luckily, I have a friend that can help.

Photo credit:  Joel Watson

If you are a single speeder (or have been around the bike scene here at all), you know that the photo above is Shanna, owner of Endless Bike Co.  She’s pretty rad, and a friend to pretty much anyone that rides in the dirt.  Recently, pinkbike did a pretty cool article about her.


Very nice.  Anyway, I knew I needed some new stuff, and she was kind enough to bring along some items last weekend for me to stare at and touch.  She didn’t have everything that I needed right there on the spot (I'm pretty needy), but a few days later she sent me a lovely care package of single speedy goodness.



Sure, I needed a new cog (and stickers of course), but what’s that other thing?


It’s “The 1 Ring”, which is a narrow wide chainring.  Duh.  Anodized to match the cogs perfectly, I just had to have one.  Since my old “other brand” chainring was worn and needed to be replaced, I thought that it would be a good idea to go local this time.  I’m glad I did, because this thing is the shit.  It’s light, and it feels much stronger than anything I’ve used before.

I couldn’t wait to get this shiny new stuff installed, and luckily it didn’t take much time at all.  Now the sexy factor of my bike has increased tenfold.

There’s your money shot.  Who gives a shit.

With some locally made products already on my bike, it feels good to add another.  Shanna is good people for sure, and I really appreciate the support that she gives me and the rest of us wacky single speeders. 

Go get some shiny new Made in the U.S.A. shit for your own bike.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

That Was It


A few minute break to eat and refill bottles turned into the end.  I had the chills and ended up wrapping a towel and my jacket around myself to stay warm.  I drank fluids, ate a little, and nearly froze to death.  People kept checking on me, most of them asking if I was okay.

“Yeah.  I’m just trying to rest for a minute.  I’m going back out.”

An hour later I was still in my chair, unable to move.

Eastwood walked up outta nowhere, fresh off of a ride at nearby OVT.  He seemed concerned too, but also happy that he had someone to hang out with instead of trying to catch people in between laps.  He sat down in a chair next to me and busted out one of his beverages.  I offered him a cup for it, which meant that I had to get up and walk to the back of my truck.  I figured that I needed to try to move around a little.

It was quite difficult, but I eventually could walk again.  I realized at that moment that getting back on my bike would have been a shitty idea.  I guess I didn’t really have a choice in the matter when I sat down, but whatever.  My body was done.  Trying to fight some kind of illness/infection and forcing it to mash gears on a single speed was like having a race car in the red.   

I was done, but not really disappoint.  I got to hang out with some cool people, including these two rad dudes…


And I saw Nick “Dip n Spray” Barlow ride away with some stranger on a tandem…


And the most important thing of all?  I didn’t miss the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek.  It’s a tough race, but one of the most fun things I can do on a bicycle each year.  The folks up there put on an awesome event each and every time, and I realized this past weekend that I would almost die trying to be a part of it.  The friends that I got to hang out with, the rad trails, and the great weather made it worth getting my ass dragged outta bed to at least ride a part of it.  It was a good time.

Once I eventually felt like walking a little more (after the race was over), I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around to random people just to hang out.  I apologize if you were one of the people that I was talking to and then suddenly I was gone.  I don’t remember much, honestly.  It was like being drunk, without the fun part of you know, actually drinking.  Once I finally felt like I could ride in a vehicle again, I didn’t feel like I could drive.  I let the little lady drive my truck for only the second time ever, just to make sure we would get home.

I must have been wiped out.

So yeah, it wore me out.  Again.  And as always, I had fun even though I suffered.  I can’t wait until next year.  Maybe I’ll feel better by then.