Thursday, March 5, 2015

I Guess I’m Done




Getting away for a last minute trip to Saint Augustine was a great idea.  It was a lot of driving though, but we crammed a lot of stuff into the short time we were there.  Although I have no desire to move back there, I do miss Florida sometimes.  Mostly it’s the history I grew up learning, and the outdoors.  It's a different kind of pretty down there.



When I moved to North Carolina eight years ago, I had no intention of visiting Florida so much.  The last few years I’ve been there quite a bit though, and in the future it will be more of the same just to get my fix.  Although it’s not home anymore, I like the feeling I get when I go back there.  I think I even miss the dumb stuff down there sometimes.



But, NC is my home now and I’m not changing that.  The riding up here is awesome, plus we have seasons (including this shitty one right now.)  It was definitely the right move, and now that I’m back home I can start getting back to normal.

What is normal, anyway?

I’m not sure but I’ve missed it.



And I’m pretty sure Carl missed me.

C’mon Friday…

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Getaway Ride


Moar vacation stuff.

After riding from the hotel, passing through the Old Town Saint Augustine, and visiting a winery and distillery, we headed back across town.  We were feeling pretty good.




The next leg of our town would take us across the Bridge of Lions.  In an automobile you can't stop for photos, but we weren’t in one of those contraptions.



It’s not like we could go anywhere anyway…



Pirates were everywhere:

The rain had stopped for a little while, but we were happy to be out riding anyway.  Our journey over the bridge took us to the Saint Augustine Lighthouse, which is one of the little lady’s favorites.




I never really paid much attention to lighthouses until I met Little Miss Sunshine, but as a history buff I’ve grown to like them.  She really loves them though.



They are pretty neat inside.



And the view from the top is always cool.



We hung around the island for a while, grabbing some food to tide us over for a while.  Then is was back across the bridge to see Castillo de San Marco, or “The Old Spanish Fort” as some people call it.





After a short search for coffee, we somehow ended up in the middle of a parade, or as one lady told us, “It’s Pedro Menendez’s birthday!”



We headed back to the hotel, dropped off the bikes, cleaned up, then headed out for dinner…

And beer:



Happy Anniversary to us.  It was nice to get away.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Reboot


The cold, shitty (rain, snow ice, whatever) weather has really been getting to me.  It was nice to escape to the 12 Hours of Santos where I could be nice and warm, so on the way back from Florida last week I started thinking about getting away again.  I called the little lady to see if we had any plans for the next weekend (this past one), and she said no. 

“Well then”, I said, “let’s go to Florida!”

I got out of work a little early on Friday, and after packing a few things we were on the road.  A few hours later, we were in the 450 year old city of Saint Augustine.  It was a mini vacation of sorts, mostly to get away from the cold (and snow) and also to celebrate the eight year anniversary of our nuptials.  The forecast called for light rain, but we brought our bikes anyway.  There’s no better way to see a city than by bike, and we didn’t let a little drizzle stop us from being tourists.



A “Chain Gang” at the Old Jail




Growing up in Florida, I’d been to Saint Augustine many times before.  It was one of the first road trips Little Miss Sunshine and I had ever taken together back in the day, and this was the first time we’d explored it by bike.  After riding around a bit, we stopped in for a tour of the San Sebastian Winery.


 The rain didn’t dampen our spirits, and unlike the locals that complained of the “cold” and wet weather, we enjoyed some wine outside on the roof.



Wine tasting wasn’t enough I guess.  We decided to turn our ride into a full on booze cruise through the city by making our next stop the newly opened Saint Augustine Distillery Company.



We showed up right on time for the free tour, where they took us inside to show us how they made bourbon, rum, vodka, and gin (all from locally grown ingredients.) 



They’ve been busy in their short time in business:


After that we were taken to a room where our tour guide mixed up some drinks, which were free as part of the tour.



He put on a good show, and made some really good drinks for us (with their award winning gin and vodka.)

Pinky out, ‘cause we’re fancy like that down in Florida.

I’d never taken a tour of a distillery before, and I was having a good time.



Just like a ride at Disney, the tour ended in their gift shop.  That wasn’t really a bad thing.


Since we were on bikes, we decided not to buy anything on the spot for fear of breakage.  The plan was to return the next day when we could carry it.  For now, we had enough alcohol in our system to carry us the rest of the way through our bike tour…

And that should carry you until tomorrow.  It’s crappy outside again, so I’m definitely dragging this one out.  I mean, what else do you have to do?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fun Friday


It’s been a while since I’ve done a Fun Friday post.  I’ve either been gone, or dragging out other stuff.  So I guess I need to ease back into it.  I feel like I’m still trying to catch up from everything though. 

First thing I’d forgotten to mention is that our bikes have made it back from Arizona.



Yup, D-Wayne sent them back to us, and the return trip didn’t seem to bother them much.  I got both of them put together in a jiffy.



Now my bike corral seems whole again.

In other news, we’ve been having some shitty weather conditions.  While we didn’t get a huge amount of snow like the weather people predicted (they’re never right anyway), we did get enough. 

Carl really liked to play in it.



I don’t care to drive in it, since no one around here seems to know how.  I’m also a little bit tired of being cold.  I know, I’m the dumbass that moved out of warm, sunny Florida.  It seems like winter has been a little worse this year, and I’ve had about enough.  So much that the little lady and I are getting away for the weekend.  We’re going someplace warm.

Yup, I’m heading back to The Sunshine State.

Now I do realize that today’s Fun Friday is all about the fun I’m having, and it may or may not be that fun for you.  I told you I need to ease back into it.  Friday posts are pretty much supposed to be funny pictures and junk like that.

Well, have this one:



See y’all Monday, most likely with tales of me being warmer.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

After Action Review



Way back when I was in the Army, we had these things called AARs, or After Action Reviews.  You talk about what went right, wrong, or whatever.  I still tend to do that from time to time.

Overall, the 12 Hours of Santos was a great event.  It was nice to be back in Florida, riding one of the first trails I’d ever been on.  Even though everyone thinks that Florida is flat and lacks anything technical, this was a tough course.  I’ve done other 12 hour races and didn’t feel like I worked this hard.  It was a good way to start my “season.”  Whatever the hell that’s gonna be.

The organizers did a great job for the most part, with a few exceptions.  When I arrived Friday evening, I headed over to packet pickup which was supposed to be from 5pm to 6pm.  At 5:01, no one was there.  When I found someone official, they said, “Oh, there was a banana emergency.  They will be back later.”

I laughed about it.  No big deal.  I could pick up my stuff in the morning since I was camping. 

Food was an issue.  Since I was camping there for the whole weekend, I was smart enough to go grocery shopping before I arrived in Ocala even though there was supposed to be free food (most importantly “a pasta dinner for all riders.”)  I smelled food while I was out on the course, and I heard the announcer talk about everyone eating.  I figured that it was for the 6 hour people, and that there would be another wave of food for those of us doing the 12 hour.  When the race was over, I headed over the the shining light in the dark forest.



There was just an awards ceremony.  No food for the rest of us.  That pissed me off a little.  I still got to eat dinner, which consisted of a cold can of steak and vegetable soup, a handful of Pringles, and one lonely beer.  It sucked, but at least I got to eat something.  Maybe next time they should be more specific about the food.  There’s no way in hell I’m gonna stop in the middle of a 12 hour race to eat a dinner, so in the future they should say something like:

Pasta dinner for the six hour racers.  Twelve hour people make appropriate arrangements or just quit halfway through.


Another thing that I (and lots of other people) noticed was the copious mounts of “racer trash” on the trail.  It was ridiculous.  Every lap it got worse and I couldn’t believe it.  The crowd was much less douchey than other races I’ve done, so I was really surprised.  I’m sure that the race organizers got someone out there to clean it all up though.

Hopefully.

That’s it for the gripes.  I think I may make this an annual event, so hopefully they’ll figure it out next year.   

There are some things I need to figure out next year for myself too:

My knee is a lot better now.  Just slightly sore, and there was really nothing I could do to prevent what happened.  Well, other than making sure my light setup was secure.  That’s totally my fault.

Air pressure.  My wrist is still sore.  For the last few days I’ve been shopping for a squishy fork, thinking that my rigid days are over.  I realized that I should have user my ideal tire pressure, which I’d written down and failed to consult before heading out to race.  Even the rear tire pressure was way too high.  That’s an easy fix, without wussing out and removing my rigid crabon fork.

It was way too early in the season for a 12 hour race, but I felt good about my effort.  I finally feel recovered, but the next morning after the race I felt like a part of me died out there.  I was slow to pack up my stuff, and most of the time I just sat around and enjoyed the nice weather.  Once again, I was smart enough to bring my own food.



According to my Garmin, I burned well over 8,000 calories out on the course.  On the drive back to Charlotte, I’d consumed probably close to 15,000.  It seemed like all I wanted to do was eat.  That’s the first time I’ve ever felt like that after an endurance race.  Unfortunately, I kept eating junk.

Like my own cheese pizza.


I ate that in about 10 minutes.  It was only good because I was so hungry.  I damn sure wouldn’t eat one any other time. 

I paid close attention to recovery this time.  Knowing that an eight hour drive would wreak havoc on my legs, I stopped often.  I had originally planned to go back to my hometown to visit friends and family, but instead I headed across the state and up the coast, stopping to hang out in Saint Augustine for a while.  I stretched every time I stopped, and while I was driving I used some good ol’ shock therapy to loosen my sore legs.



It helped a lot.  I could actually walk when I got back home.

So yeah, this was a much better experience than last year.  I’m definitely planning to do it again.  It was so nice to see my Florida friends and the Charlotte crew while I spent all day suffering on my bike.  The little things I griped about are just that:    

Little.  

I’m in for next year, especially if the weather up here is shitty again (like it is now.)

At least tomorrow is Friday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

For Better Or Worse



I was off again.

The first climb in after sitting for a while got to me a little.  It sorta made me wonder what the hell I’d gotten myself into.  I was pretty wonky, having trouble controlling my bike even on the easy parts.  Once I got through the first tech section and back to the flat, twisty stuff, I settled in and spun away.  I’d already surpassed my lap total from last year, so my mind was feeling good.

And I was still having lots of fun.

Photo cred:  Nancy Bregg

The flat stuff was fun too but it got a little monotonous.  I would often find myself daydreaming (and even hallucinating some), and at one point I was startled when I heard a rider approach me from behind.  I soon realized that it was Dicky (as soon as he passed me), and after saying hello I looked down at the trail and saw that I was barely moving. 

I gotta get my head right again.

I started getting my mojo back eventually.  Normally I ride with some sort of music playing device, but this time I didn’t.  I wanted to see if I could suffer without any outside help, and after that one episode I got back to business.  Once I got back to the next tech section in the Vortex, I worked hard.  I still had climbing legs (surprisingly), even though it took a bunch of work to mash up the steep stuff.

Photo cred:  Christie Burnett

A little more tech, one more steep climb (after a sweet wooden berm), and a few small ups and down later I was on the home stretch of that lap.  The last twisty and fast section was very much welcomed, and before too long I came screaming through the pit row.  The crew from Jacksonville had a little jump ramp set up along the trail, and I’d been hitting it all day long.  I wasn’t about to stop, and after their cheers and I jumped it and headed for the Niner tents.

I didn’t want to stop after this lap but the sun was starting to go down.  I walked over to grab my lights, mounted them up, and headed back out for more.  With my legs feeling a little looser, I hit the climby tech stuff again and did a little better this time around.  It wasn’t dark enough to turn my lights on yet (or so I thought), so I rode as long as I could without them to see what I could do.  I honestly don’t remember much about that lap other than noticing that I didn’t find a lot of the trail familiar. 

That’s pretty odd considering I’d been riding it since 10:00 a.m.

I don’t recall that lap time, but I do know that it was over before I knew it.  One more flight off the kicker ramp in pit row and I was feeling good.  I stopped to refill my bottles and grab a snack, all while getting tons of encouragement from my friends in the pit.  It was full on dark outside now, and I took off for my first ever night ride in Florida.

Weird, I know.  But, I wasn’t into night riding when I lived down there.  Daytime was enough of a challenge back then.

I was tired at this point.  My legs were doing okay I guess, but I was really sleepy.  Like, "I’d been on a bike all damn day" sleepy.  My mind was playing tricks on my and I nearly went off a bridge in the first tech section.  Down a rocky as hell descent I noticed that my handlebar light had moved a little.  I stopped to secure it and quickly went on my way.  I climbed up a steep, rocky section and got ready for what had become one of my favorite descents down there.  Just as I started though, the light on my handlebar rotated backwards, shining a 1200 lumen beam right into my eyeballs.  I panicked, grabbed a handful of brake lever, and started to tumble over.  Luckily, my foot landed on solid ground to keep me from toppling over, but my knee made a very unpleasant popping sound. 

“That didn’t sound too good.”

I fixed my light (again) and walked up the next climb.  My knee was hurting and had already begun to swell.  I kept tell myself that all I had to do was get to the flat stuff so I could spin it out.  Eventually I made it, and commenced to spinning away.

Except that spinning didn’t really help much.

I was able to ride at a decent speed though, and before I knew it I was on to the next tech section.  My knee was hurting like hell, and so was my wrist from still having too much air pressure in my front tire.  I ended up walking a lot of the climbs (and yes, there are several) taking solace in the fact that there were a lot of folks out there still suffering along with me.  I chatted with several riders here and there, and most of them had agreed that this was the last lap.  I kept telling myself that if I got back in time I would go out again, but as soon as I got to the last easy section my Garmin had died.  I had no idea what time it was, and no idea how long that lap had taken. 

I figured that I would just go to the finish line and check the time.  I skipped the Jax Jump (the only time I did) and rolled past our pit.  When I saw the time I knew my day was over.  I told myself that maybe if my knee hadn’t been getting worse I’d go out again.  But that wasn’t it.  It was everything.  I was tired, sore, and making dumb mistakes.  I’d really given it all I had, and there was no way in hell I would’ve make it back in time for the lap to count. 

I was satisfied with my effort.

I walked back over to the pit and called it a day (night.)  I cleaned up, grabbed a beer (that I had to talk myself into for some reason), and hobbled back over to our pit.  I’d put in a solid day in the saddle on a rigid single speed, more than doubling my effort from a year before.  When it was over I was mentally drained, but in a very happy mood.  I realized that I do actually enjoy this racing stuff, mostly because I have no idea whether or not I can get through it sometimes.

That was good enough for me.

Tomorrow, thoughts and junk.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Escape The Cold


Although I’d already signed up for the 12 Hours of Santos well in advance, it quickly turned into an escape from the lovely weather we’ve had here in Charlotte



Lots of other folks had the same idea, so when I finally got down near Ocala, FL I ran into some of the Charlotte FasterMustache crew, Dicky, Jordan from The Hub, Niner Mike, and a whole bunch of other familiar faces.  I got everything setup in a hurry since I was camping out of my truck, and we hung around for a while discussing what we were in for.

It felt good to be back “home” in the place I grew up with people from my current home.  And it was good to be warm too until the next morning.



I can’t recall ever having to scrape ice off of any vehicles I’ve owned, but I do remember it getting cold enough to freeze.  It was 32 when I woke up Saturday morning, but once the sun came up over the trees we started to get warm again.  I was ready to see what I could do this year.



Last year, I came in with a horrible attitude and bailed after three laps (and wondering if I’d ever race again.)  This year, I planned to race, or at least give it everything I had.  After a quick rider meeting, I dropped my bike at the neutral zone and headed down in the Vortex pit to get ready to “run” for the start.  I don’t run anymore, and I thought for sure I would just casually stroll to get my bike.  When the race started though, I took off running just like most everyone else.  I grabbed my bike and ended up somewhere in the middle I guess.  I was supposed to take it easy, but I found myself “racing” and riding hard to pass people.

I felt fine, so why not?

After the “parade” lap (which was quite long and for some reason still didn’t spread everyone out) I started to settle in.  I still passed a few people here and there, and some of the faster riders started passing me.  I found a good pace that wouldn’t kill me and I was feeling mighty fine.  The short, yet technical and steep climbs were hammered, and I sailed through the flat stuff spinning at a comfortable pace.

Photo credit:  GoneRiding.com

There was no quitting this time I figured.  I paid attention to my fluid intake and made sure to eat whenever I could.  After three laps my bottles were empty (as planned), so I stopped for a refill.  Niner Mike was more than helpful, especially since I mentioned to him that my front tire probably had too much air in it.

“This place is beating the shit outta me.”

Mike: “How much air do you normally run in the front?”

“I dunno.  25 p.s.i. I guess?”

You see, I’d refilled my tire sealant a few days before and pumped up my tires ridiculously high to help it seal and forgot to check the pressure before I started the race.  During the first couple of laps I stopped real quick (a few times actually) to let some air out when traffic on the trail caused me to have to dismount.  I thought maybe I was close to the ideal pressure up front after so many attempts.  When Mike checked my tire and told me it had 30 p.s.i. in it I was shocked.

No wonder the rocky stuff hurt so much.  He dropped it down to 25, which I realized later was still too much for running a rigid fork, even at my weight.  It was noticeably better though, so the next two laps were a little more comfortable.  I never did check the rear…

Stupid.

Anyway, five laps in I was out of water again (all according to plan.)  This time, Mike refilled my bottles and I told him that I was gonna take a little bit longer break this time to make sure I could last the entire race.  I texted the little lady really quick to let her know I wasn’t dead, ate some food, and walked back over towards the pit area so I could stretch.  I got a lot of encouragement from the TotalCyclist team, as well as the rest of the crew in our area to keep pushing.  It was definitely appreciated.

I wasn’t about to stop riding, even though I’d already beaten my lap total from last year.  I had a horrible headache, my back and neck were killing me, and my left wrist was in pain (FROM A RIGID FORK AND TOO MUCH STUPID AIR PRESSURE.)  My legs (and my mind) felt good though, so I hopped back on my bike to finish it out. 


More tomorrow…