Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Almost Too Late

Since I haven't been around here much, I just about missed a prime blogging opportunity.  I've been slacking, to say the least.  Anyway, it involves my favorite cycling company...

DeFeet International

Despite the lack of blogging, I'm still riding and repping their awesome socks but sometimes it feels like I'm the only one doing it on the mountain biking side (except for Sonya of course.)  Anyway, I digress.  What was the almost missed opportunity?

It has something to do with this guy:


And the fact that he has his own sock design....


Because he's so popular around our local bike scene (and down on the coast too), the folks out there in the hills that pay attention decided to let him come out with his own socks.  The description on the page pretty much says it all...

If you’re looking at this sock then you know who the talented young man is already. For everyone else we will share a little of the back story. As a long time DeFeet family friend, we’ve watched this kid become a man and are lucky to call him one of our own. He’s a local Charlotte artist and mountain biker. A big “kid” known for racing in crazy costumes, eating tons of food and bringing fun to local trails.
The Lunchbox sock embodies the spirit of the Charlotte cycling scene – well, the not so serious part anyway.

Does that sound kinda familiar?  Probably because I had to come up with most of it.  Wait, don't they have a marketing person?  Um, yeah. *

Anyway, Lunchbox and I (plus all of our friends) have been doing all the legwork to get these produced.  With no promotion whatsoever from the company's crack marketing team (save a FB share or two from the Chief Sockologist who shouldn't be the only one there doing such things), we've managed to get these over one hundred percent funded.  I guess that's a pretty big accomplishment, but I wish we'd had a little more help.  It's crowdfunding, so they have to know they will be able to sell a certain amount before they produce them.  And these made the cut because we all worked hard to make it happen (yes, you too.)

Why am I still talking about it then?  Because I want to give everyone one more chance to grab a pair of these limited addition socks.  If you're a local, then you know Lunchbox.  You've cheered for his races.  He might have taught your kids to ride the local trails.  Hell, you probably made it through more than a few local races because he was cheering for you in a crazy costume or some shit like that.  He's helped build a lot of the trails you ride, and yes, he still rides too.  He doesn't care about making connections with people in the industry just to look fancy or seem important, because he's as real as it gets.  He's grown up around cycling, and now he designs the best socks in the world.

These in particular are just that much better because they have his face on them (even if it is a funny one.)

They are limited edition so once these are made, that's it.

You have one day left, so click the link below to order yours today:

https://www.defeetbespoke.com/projects/lunchbox-sock/


And HUGE thanks to those of you that helped make this successful.  You're not only supporting a local artist and a great young man, but a great cycling company that's based right here in North Carolina.





*I'm not bashing anyone.  Just calling it like it is.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

Some Like It Hot

Me.

I'm talking about me (surprise.)

I've been in North Carolina for a little over ten years.  I love it here.  I had a little trouble getting acclimated to the cold temps in the winter, but summer was always easy.  I mean, Florida and all that.

So yeah, I'm back to riding (and talking about it) again.  The funny thing is, I had to force myself to do both of them.  I had some things to do over the weekend, but I promised myself I would get out for a ride.  And just some roadie shit, either (I've done plenty of that.)  I needed something...

An adventure!

I didn't have time (nor do I have the fitness right now) to head for the hills, so luckily there are lots of unexplored trails by me that I can hit from the house.  I grabbed The Executor and headed down the street.  It has become customary on all of my rides now to stop and talk with my friends, so I did.

My horse friends always love to shoot the shit with me.



Then I stopped to check out a little ass, but the little ass was checking me out...


After that, it was a little bit of pavement (~1 mile) until I hit the woods.  It's not normally so bad except that it was getting close to one hundred degrees out there.  Did I mention that I waited until almost high noon to depart for this ride?

Dumbass.

Anyway, I found my super-secret trail (I'll tell you if you ask) and hit the fun shit.  Words cannot express how good it felt to be out in the woods on an actual mountain bike. 

Mostly because I sucks at words.  So, here's a photo...


I've been through here before, but there are tons of unexplored (to me) trails that I'd been meaning to check out.  It's mostly four-wheeler type stuff, but fun just the same.  I took off in a different direction this time to see what I could get myself into.


Most of that was a vegetable tunnel, but still very much rideable.  The fact that I wasn't riding on well-groomed cookie cutter singletrack made it worth the cuts and scrapes the bushes gave me.

Mucho exploration.  I had nowhere to be for a while, and even though it was hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock outside I felt pretty good.  My goal was to ride stuff I hadn't been on before, so I did.  I just rode.  




 Eventually I popped out of the woods and into familiar-ish territory.

In the past, I'd always popped out way over yonder.

Out in the sun now and it was getting hotter.  I was digging it so I kept going.


It was a damn fine day.  I took the road back home and noticed that my Garmin said it was 105 degrees outside. 

That was perfect for an old Florida boy like me.

Plus, my friends out in the desert would probably be happy to have temps that low.


Where was I?

Oh yeah, done for today.  That was rad.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Guess Who's Back?

This guy:


I brought the beer too.

In an effort to resurrect this already dead blog back from the dead (again) I plan to start small.

So, that's it for today.  I'll get back to bullshit stories and other nonsense pretty soon I'm sure.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Finale

The weekend has come and gone, taking the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League season with it.  Kids from all over the state headed down to Brunswick Nature Park in Leland, NC (near Wilmington) to finish off the season strong.  My weekend started with me trying to get out of town on Friday during rush hour (not fun), and making the almost four hour drive to get to my hotel.

When I got in it was late, so I grabbed some food and beverage with little time for anything else.  Tried to go to bed early, but I tossed and turned all night because I was excited about being a part of the league and putting on the last race (I also don't sleep well when I'm traveling.)  Anyway, the next morning I was up early and made the fifteen minute drive over to the park.

They were waiting for us...


I hadn't been down there in almost four years, when Eastwood and I decided to do a six hour race out there.  I knew it was a cool park, and I was happy to be back.  Everyone got right to work and we all pitched in to make sure things got done.  Even though the park has plenty to do, we were only there for one purpose.  Still, that didn't stop me from having thoughts about enjoying what the rest of the park had to offer.

I saw these folks and for a brief second I wanted to join in...


But I did not.  I worked to help get more kids on bikes and to make great race for them.  I also took pictures of other people working...


There is a lot to get done for these races, and luckily for me most of my time can be spent out on the trail.

Coastal NC reminds me a lot of Florida, so I felt right at home.

At one point, I passed by the spot where the kayak people were heading.  I figured I should stop and check it out.



Reminds me of where I started right many moons ago.  I dig it.

We eventually finished setup and it was time to call it a day.  A few of us went out (maybe I'll talk about that another time.)  Once again I tried to get some sleep and failed miserably.  Six o'clock the next morning I was back at it, but this time it was race day.

I am usually really busy while the races are in progress so I take very few photos.  My spot during this one was away from the action so I really didn't get squat.  Go check out the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League Facebook Page and you will find lots though.

I did get to wander around a bit to take a few photos though.  Here's a shot of the team trophies, which were made (out of recycled bike parts) by Little Miss Sunshine:


And I also saw lots of cool DeFeet socks...


Yeah, those are cool and all that, but thanks to my friends out there in the hills (and my kid, Lunchbox for the art), there were lots of new socks made just for our league...



So, race day was crazy.  A huge rainstorm came through during the high school boys race and soaked us all.  It didn't matter, because everyone was having fun (and those trails are actually fine in the rain.)  Once the rain went away and we packed up the course/infield, the awards ceremony began...


And after the awards, the race staff decided to pay a tribute to the founder and League Director, Mike Long...


What an awesome day and a terrific series.  I am so happy that I got a chance to be a part of this.  We all did a great job, but it's really the kids that made the difference.  I can't wait to get back to it next season.  But as this season came to a close, I found myself looking forward not to the drive home, but to what we will do next.



It was a long drive back to Charlotte, but I had plenty of time to think about what we'd accomplished and how we can make it even better next time.  It's really amazing how much work we put in and how rewarding it was.  

I don't even care if I never race again, because this is so much better.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

More Time On The Water

We've had so much rain here lately that I can't stand it.  That really messes with the little bit of time that I have for bike riding, but I guess "we need it."  I just like to be outside and standing out in the rain isn't what I mean.

Luckily, I haz other things to do.  A few weeks ago, the little lady decided to get with the program and buy herself a kayak so she could join me out on the river.  She hadn't been in one in quite a while, so before we left the store we made sure that she would be okay in her new one.

We pretended that the floor was water.

  She didn't drown in the store so we figured that a trip up the river would be fine.  With all the rain we've been getting, the water was higher and moving faster, and it looks not so pretty.

Yes, we paddled up the ol' Poop River.

Yes, the water looked like shit, but it was nice.  Smelled fine, and we mostly had the place to ourselves.  That allowed the little lady some time to explore and get comfortable in her new boat.



She had a blast (and I did too.)  We paddled around for hours, only coming back in because we required a lunch.  And Little Miss Sunshine made a new friend too.  The nice fella that runs the boat ramp found out that she liked wine, and promptly returned with some homemade stuff for her.

Wine in a jar?  Man, I love North Carolina.

It was nice to have company out on the river.  Now that the little lady has her own boat though, I needed to get my ass moving on that trailer.  Remember?  Well, I had some plans and after getting my supplies, I started making my own kayak trailer.


I didn't take any other pictures during the build process.  I got to the end (where I was making sure they fit on there properly) and said, "Oh shit, I need moar photos."


Mostly finished.  I say mostly because I still have to pull it apart and treat/coat the wood parts.  Other than that, it's perfect.  They both fit on their nice, and when strapped down they won't move one little bit.

With this trailer setup, I think we may taking our adventures a little further away from "our" river.  Maybe the Lowcountry?  Florida?  Yeah, those sound like good ideas.

See y'all tomorrow since I might be on a roll with this blogging stuff.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My Own Ride For Others

I had a nice three day weekend.  I did a lot of stuff, but of course it wasn't enough time.  The fact that I had an extra day off wasn't lost on me though.  I know why we "celebrate" Memorial Day.  To me, it's not for cookouts or any of that stuff, but it's okay if that's how you celebrated.  As a veteran, I wanted to do something to honor those that came before but gave much more than I did.  At first I wanted to go the National Cemetery up in Salisbury but that would have required driving.  I wanted to do a bike ride of some sort (and didn't have the legs to go that far and back), so I eventually decided to ride down the the Mecklenburg County Vietnam Memorial.

I took off out of the house a little later than I wanted to, but that's okay because I pretty much had all day if I wanted.  I rolled out of my neighborhood and said a quick hello to some of my friends.


My route into the city is pretty easy, and without even trying I was making good time.  That is, until I got within sight of the tall buildings.  I heard something that sounded like whistling, so I stopped for a minuted and noticed that I had a flat.


No problem.  I looked in my bag and found a brand new tube and some co2.  I changed the tube and when I went to fill it, I realized that I had forgotten to put an inflator in the bag.  Shit.  With almost two miles to my destination and no bike shops open nearby I had to figure out what to do.  I briefly considered calling the little lady for an extraction, but she was on call for work and I didn't want to bother her.

So I did what any former soldier would do...

I hoofed it.

It was hot outside already and my shoes weren't exactly made for walking.  Still, I pushed on, considering that my little bit of suffering was nothing compared to those that I was thinking about on my ride.  Besides, the views were sorta nice.


It didn't take too long (maybe 45 minutes?) and I had made it to my destination.






The monument honors Vietnam Veterans from Mecklenburg County, and it also lists the names of those from here that lost their lives in that conflict (think smaller version of the one in Washington.)  I walked the entire length of the wall, and I read all 105 names on it.  I must be getting soft in my old age, but it brought a tear to my eye.  I was definitely moved.

While I was there, a group of bikers rolled up (motorcycles) and I chatted with them.  One thing I've noticed about bikers is that many of them are veterans, and they do quite a bit to honor those that served.  They told me that they do this every year.  Awesome.

I'd spent quite a bit of time there until I had to get back to reality.  I still had a flat, no air to fill up my tube, and I was far from home.  Again, an extraction was out of the question (because I'm stubborn) so I walked over to the local department store to see if they anything to help me.  On the way, I was mocked by some local wildlife.


I walked inside the cool store and I found a little shitty (but expensive) air pump and bought it (along with a snack and something cold to drink.)  I sat on a bench out front and attempted to fill my tire.


The gauge said it would go up to 120 p.s.i. but I had trouble getting it to 60.  That would have to do.  I hopped on my bike and rode away, trying to keep my 230 pound ass off the seat so I wouldn't get a pinch flat.  So far so good.  Since I was still in the area, I stopped back by the wall one more time...


Then I hopped on the greenway and started to make my way home.


The ride home was nerve wracking.  Every time I would go fast downhill, I imagined my tire giving out and sending me crashing to the pavement.  That didn't stop me from taking a selfie though.


Just before I got home, I made a slight detour to the local VFW and chatted with some fellow veterans.  These guys were from the Vietnam era, so they talked about their experiences and the friends that they lost.  They were very welcoming, even offering me some food and a beer.  I declined since I had to get home to my own beer.

After many more hours on the road than I had planned, I made it home.  I parked my bike, grabbed a beer, and sat on the deck with my buddy Carl.


It wasn't a "happy" Memorial Day but it was a good one.  I think I'll do this every year from now on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It Keeps Getting Better

I skipped yesterday not because of my extended bouts of laziness, but because I was le tired.  I "worked" again all weekend, and this time it involved a road trip.


From the photo above, it's probably pretty obvious that I'm not talking about working at my real job.  Yes folks, I worked another race for the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League.  This race was held in Mayodan, NC and to be honest, I had no idea where that was (even after looking on a map.)  I figured that a trail in a park in the middle of nowhere would not be much fun, but my attitude change when I rolled up to Farris Memorial Park.


The town of Mayodan really pulled out all the stops and welcomed our league with open arms.  There were signs/bike decorations all over town, and I have to say that I've never felt more welcome at any race...ever.  And the park I thought would be full of nothing was full of decorations too.



I was amazed at this place.  For such a small town, this park had it all.  Standard ball sports stuff, a gold driving range, mountain bike trails (of course), paddle boats, fishing, and even a mini golf course.


The league staff gathered around and broke off to start setting up.  The infield of the course was amazing, looking so pro that I almost forgot that this was for high school and middle school students.


And the trails.  Wow.  I had low expectations, but I was blown away.  The trails are machine built (which means fast and flowy), but they made use of the terrain and included lots of features.  I mean, there were tons of rock gardens.  It was awesome.

I rode the course several times, since we had to set it up for the racers.  It was hard work but I had a blast.



It was super hot outside and we worked hard, but the course was ready to go for the next day.  I chilled out at the park well into the night, playing guitar and enjoying the atmosphere.  It was late and I was tired, so I headed back to my hotel just as the storms were rolling in.

The next morning I was up at 6:00 a.m.  I hit the road a short while later, and the skies looked less than ideal for a kids mountain bike race.


The rain mostly held off though, wetting the course just a bit.  At least the weather was cooler though.  Anyway, after checking the course again and getting everyone ready to go, the first wave of racers lined up to start their race.

I've seen it before at our other races, but I'm still pretty moved by it.


It was an amazing weekend.  The kids had a good time, and I'm pretty sure every single one of them loved the course (I asked as many as I could.)  The Mayor of Mayodan and other important town-folk were there too, and they seemed just as excited as we were.  We're doing a great thing here for these middle and high school athletes, and even though it wore me out I was feeling really happy.

I'm "retired" now from racing, but that doesn't matter.  This feeling is better than anything I had when I did this stuff just for myself.

Funny how that works.

Special thanks to the town of Mayodan and Rockingham County for making us feel welcome and working with us to make this a successful event.

I can't wait for the next race in less than two weeks.