Thursday, February 25, 2010

Things to Come

I’ve mentioned that there are a lot of events I plan on doing this year, so I figured I would cover the next two on the calendar. First, I’m planning on spending a significant amount of time in the saddle of my road bike for a “training ride” (as the promoter calls it.) Next month, I’m hitting up the 10th annual CSC Winter Training Ride. What, a winter training ride in the spring? Well, the date has been moved from its original one in February, and I hear that it is now being billed as a “spring” training ride. It is the 10th annual, but my first. There are distances of 30, 55, and 70 miles, which is geared towards cyclists of all abilities. Since I am a mid-pack kind of cyclist, I’ve chosen to do the 55 mile version. It will be my longest road ride ever, but I’m not too worried about it since there will be plenty of support and rest stops (should I choose to rest.)

I’ve been trying to talk the Dirty Party Cycle into joining in on the fun, and I hope I’m successful. He hasn’t had the chance to ride in a group, and I know he will enjoy it. My buddies Patrick and the MadSS don’t have road bikes, so I don’t suppose they would want to play along. That would be hell to ride a mountain bike that far on the road. This should be good fun, and it will be a nice tune-up for my next adventure the following weekend:

Yep, I signed up for six hours of torture, I mean the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. I’m attempting to do this one solo, and I have no idea why. I guess it’s because I want to see how far I can push myself, or to see if my legs will fall off. It should be an adventure, riding in the “real” mountains you know. That was part of the reason I did the hell-ride this past Sunday. I have to prepare somehow. Although I may never truly be ready for that kind of endurance race, at least now I know that I should eat before and during the race. I’m sure that Little Miss Sunshine will hook me up with a cooler full of food for the event. I’ll probably pack some beer too (you know me.)

Here is a video of last year’s race:

Pretty cool, huh? It should be fun, if I don’t die. Lots of people from our local mountain biking community will be there, so at least I’ll see some familiar faces. Patrick, the MadSS, and a slew of others have signed up, so we can shoot the shit when we pass each other on the course (or they just pass me.) This will be the first time that I will travel so far to race, but I promised myself that I would get out of town for at least one this season. It is being held at the Kerr Scott Trail System, which if you recall I’ve ridden before (just not that particular trail.) Of the three trails out there, I’ve done Dark Mountain and the Overmountain Victory Trail. Patrick, The DPC, MadSS, and I are planning on heading up there for a little recon action very soon. I don’t care about doing a lot of miles there when we go, but I do want to at least ride it once. I’m sure I’ll be plenty familiar with it after six hours on race day. So fun.

Just so you don’t wonder where the hell I am, you won’t find any new stuff on here for a few days. Little Miss Sunshine and I are getting the hell out of Dodge to celebrate our anniversary, so there will be no new posts from me for a while. I probably won’t even bring my computer, since Little Miss Sunshine might catch me checking my blog stats, shopping for bike parts, or something else like that. The plan is just to get away for some “alone time.” Lunchbox will be hanging out with the Dirty Party Cycle for the weekend, so hopeully they won’t get into too much trouble. They’ll probably be hitting up some sweet singletrack while we’re gone. Awesomeness! See y’all next week sometime.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On The Road Again

For the next month or so, I’ll be working at a different location. Why is this important? Well, I do this every so often, and usually it puts a damper on my lunchtime training. This time however, it’s different. I know I mentioned da udda day that I was giving up the X-Bike. While it was a decision I made on purpose, this time I have no choice since I’m so far away from it. Good riddance, I say.

What do I do now? Well, at this “new location”, I’m able to get more real bicycle time in. I am close to a couple of trails, and there is also a business park nearby that has plenty of roadie action going on. Wow, that means I actually have a choice. No more riding in place for an hour every day. I can go outside and pedal, while the scenery passes me by. That’s what cycling is all about (for me anyway.) While I have no real “training plan” (do I ever?), I do have a rough outline to follow.

Every day I’m here that has nice weather (i.e. no rain/snow), I will ride my bike. Which one, you ask? Well, that depends on what I bring to work that day. I will switch them up at will; willingly of course. Yesterday I started out riding the road bike, since we had rain on Monday. The next time the trails are dry, I’ll bust out the mountain bike. I imagine that I will ride on trails more than I ride on the road while I’m here. I’d like to save the major roadie stuff for charity rides and after-work summertime hammerfests. Delicious.

So, like I said, yesterday I brought the road bike with me. The plan was to slowly spin until the legs warmed up, and then let ‘er rip. The business park loop is nice, since I will never be more than 1.5 miles from my starting point. That way I can blow up or have some kind of mechanical issue, and not be stranded. It’s a win win, I tell ya. Anyway, I was hoping that my legs had recovered from the hell-fest I did a few days ago. After the first two miles, I realized that they had. Much to my delight, I had plenty of power to mash up the climbs, and spin fast on the descents. I was settling back into the roadie groove, whatever the hell that is.

I was a little worried though, and not about my legs. I still have this fear of spoke-breaking, and it haunts me with every stroke of the pedal. I’ve had the damn wheel repaired twice, and I’m hoping I don’t need to get to three. I’m not sure when I’ll ever get over that silly fear, but I wish I would soon. I have a big road ride next month (more on that later), and I’d like to stay off the sag wagon.

Since I neglected to bring any type of timekeeping device with me on the ride, I ended up cutting my ride a little shorter than I normally would. I was planning on twenty miles, and I ended up a hair over fifteen. I thought it was time to get my ass back to work, but I actually could have done the full twenty. Next time I’ll wear a watch.

So, I guess it’s safe to say that things are starting to shape up around here. After a grueling race series, it’s nice to do some quality miles on the road bike. I could never give up mountain biking to ride soley on the road, but it is a great training aid. I need all the help I can get. I have a lot of stuff in the works this season. I’ll waste your time with that tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It’s Over Johnny

With the 2010 Winter Short Track Series coming to a close on Saturday, I was left wondering what was next. While attending the after-race series party at East Boulevard Bar and Grill, I got word that there was a planned ride at the U.S. National Whitewater Center on Sunday morning. Some guys from the Carolina Bicycle Company were planning on hitting the trails out there, so a few of us were coaxed into tagging along.

After a few phone calls, we decided to meet up at around 10:00 a.m. I left the house pretty early, hoping that my early arrival wouldn’t keep anyone waiting. When I got to the trailhead, the MadSS was already on the scene. Moments later, Patrick showed up. By the way, he really needs a “handle” for this blog, other than the obvious “faster than me on most days.” That’s just too many words to use for someone’s nickname. Anyway, they started to get ready for a “fun” ride.

Next on the scene was the Dirty Party Cycle. After I let him know about the ride the night before, he left me a message stating that he wasn’t so sure about hanging with the race team at the lovely Catawba trails. I concurred, and relayed to him what the MaddSS told me. He said that we will just try to “hang on” and hope for the best. That’s all we could do, since those team guys were so fast. The DPC started to get ready too.

I was ready too, except for the fact that I neglected to do something before I got there that I would regret later on. More details to follow.

We all huddled up to plan our ride.

The Carolina guys showed up, and we headed across the parking lot to have a chat with them. The fastest guys they had were all present and accounted for, so I thought that we might be in for some pain. I was concerned, since I had only been riding short distances in the well, Short Track Series. What the hell did I get myself into? We decided to head out on the trail ahead of those guys, knowing full well that they would catch up quickly. Our plan was to ride as fast as we could.

We hit the trail at a moderate speed, trying to loosen up as we went along. It was so nice to ride a “real” trail, since the short track was not really technical at all. The faster we went, the happier I was that I was no longer riding the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth anymore. Goose seemed to flow with the trail. Now if I could only get my legs to follow.

We pushed our speed, and stopped every so often to regroup and also to take turns leading. My “race pace” was far from that of the MadSS, but he showed us a little mercy every now and then. Since he was riding a single speed, we thought that we should have been able to keep up. That was not the case. Maybe there is something to this single speed thing. And by the way, the Carolina guys passed us rather early on, looking like a big blurry orange train. That was disheartening, to say the least.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t too winded after the first lap. Sure, it hurt to climb some of the steep inclines there, but I didn’t have a lot of trouble. About 3 miles from the end of the first lap, I had already finished my water bottle. At this point, it was just the DPC and I. Patrick got way up ahead, and part of that may have been because he missed one of the smaller loops. I nearly missed it too, but I turned around to make sure I hit it. I was out there to push my limits, so I didn’t want to short change myself. The DPC and I hurried through the last bit of trail to the parking lot, and we all met up again. We refilled our water, and decided to do another lap at a “slower” pace. When we headed back out, I took the lead. Instead of a slow pace however, I pushed it pretty hard. We were all stuck together like a pack of wolves, so I thought that my pace was okay. Patrick did make a comment that we were supposed to be doing a slower lap, but the MadSS said the pace was good. I probably should have slowed down. At the end of the first loop, the MadSS took the lead again. We all tried our best to hang on, but it was useless.

When we all stopped to regroup again, I noticed that my hamstrings and my right quad had started to cramp a little. I tried to ignore it at first, and then I started punching my leg in a desperate attempt to alleviate the pressure. We started back up again, and it only got worse. On one of the climbs, my legs just quit. I nearly fell over onto the trail, and the DPC almost ran over me. I stopped and stretched for a bit and had a gel shot. I felt better, but I knew it was a matter of time before it happened again.

I finally caught up to the group (they stopped to wait), and I told them about my malfunctioning legs. I told them to go on, and that I would cut out some of the loops as necessary to make sure I made it out alive. Patrick was down for more punishment, so he took off after the MadSS. The DPC stayed back with me, agreeing with my much slower pace. I would finish the ride without anymore cramps, but I knew I was nearly spent. I needed this kind of punishment to get me up to speed, so I didn’t really mind the pain. The problem was that I neglected my nutritional needs, and my body was protesting. Another lesson learned I guess.

When we got back to the parking lot, everyone was waiting. The DPC and I had taken a “short cut”, and it turned out to be muddy hell (one of the few spots.) I even took a soil sample with my bike.

Little Miss Sunshine was waiting for us, dressed and ready to go. She wanted to ride the new Green Loop, so I made sure to eat before we left. I had to have enough energy to do a few more miles with her, since she was kind enough to meet us out there.

Patrick had to hit the road, and the nearly-insane MadSS decided to hit another full lap. I think the DPC was nearly as spent as I was, so he opted to hang with Litle Miss Sunshine and me for some Green fun. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Can we go already?

The Green loop was fun, and my cramps were gone. Sure, my legs were tired, but I enjoyed our fun ride. Little Miss Sunshine displayed some excellent bike handling skills, and I could hear her laughing most of the way. Since this was a slower pace than our previous “death march”, I was able to whip out the camera.

When we finished, the DPC and I were nearly dead, but LMS was rip-roarin’ and ready to go. She would have done another lap if we were down for it. By the time we got back to the parking lot again, the MadSS was waiting after his lap (I don’t think he’s human.) We all decided to head to the restaurant to partake in some food and beverage. It was well-earned, and I stuffed myself. Next time I’ll eat before I ride.

What a day. I'm still a little sore from it, but it's a good kind of sore. Maybe I'll take the road bike out today for a little punishment. See you tomorrow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Finish Line

Yes, I crossed it. Not where I wanted to be, but at least I got out there and did it. The 2010 Winter Short Track Series is over, and I survived. It was a rude awakening for me for sure, but I learned a lot in the process. Mostly I learned that no matter how much inside riding I do, I will never be able to get into any kind of “racing shape” with that kind of riding alone. Although I had no choice due to weather and scheduling conflicts, I did what I could. Now I’m happy to say that I don’t plan on riding indoors for a long time. F you, X-Bike. Hopefully next winter I can come up with a better training plan.

Race five was on Saturday, and it was more of the same for me. The only saving grace was the fact that we had nice weather. It wasn’t too cold, and the trails had been rain-free for a few days. Even though I thought the trail condiitons would be better this week, I opted not to bring out the good bike, Goose. I would go out in a blaze of glory on the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth. This bike has been less than great for me for this series, but it hasn’t been the only reason I suffered. I learned some hard lessons, but they were valuable lessons to say the least.

I arrived on site early Saturday morning, and there were a lot more people there this time. I took a couple of warm up laps, and I really liked the trail conditions. There were a few sloppy spots, but overall it was pretty fast. I pulled up to the start line, and planned on my usual middle-of-the-pack strategy. I would take off at a moderate pace, and hang on.

When the race started, I got on the trail in about mid-pack (just as planned). I followed the group pretty well, and enjoyed the speed and non-muddiness of the trail. The swooping downhills and turns were fast, and I was able to handle the bike pretty well. When I came out of the trail on the first lap, I felt pretty good. I took the fire road climb at a decent speed, actually shifting the gears as I moved up the hill. This would be short-lived, however. I passed the start/finish line in roughly the same position as I started.

Lap two sucked the big one. About halfway through the trail, I started to get some kind of cramp in my stomach. I had been feeling a little shitty the day before, so I thought that maybe I had eaten something that didn’t agree with me. I pressed on, but so did the pain. I came out onto the fire road, and that’s when it hit me hard. Some of the people behind me now had a chance to get by. I had no choice but to back off a little and let them go, but I wondered if I could hang on for the whole race. By this time the pain had spread to my right side. I crossed the line after lap two, and I just wanted it to be over.

As lap three went on, I started to feel better. I wasn’t out of breath for once, and I chalked that up to a good warm-up. As the pain slowly went away on the third lap, I pressed on. I ramped it up a bit to gain some ground, but the pack had left me. There were some other racers behind me, but I wasn’t too worried. If I could maintain my current speed, I wouldn’t be in any danger of losing more ground. I had dug myself a pretty big hole though. Lap three was over, and I began picking up a little speed.

On lap four, I began to feel “normal”, whatever the hell that was. About halfway through the trail, a buddy of mine in the next class came up on my rear wheel. I let him go by, and I tried to stick with him. That actually helped me, and we kept each other going. I let him pull me around through the rest of the race, picking up speed the whole time. At this pace, I was destined to finish ahead of the rest of the group. When the “final lap” announcement was made, we picked it up. I stuck to him like glue, up until the fire road climb. He turned around and said, “Is that still you, Chris?” I said “Yup, and on your right.” I passed him on the final climb, and told him to hang on. I pulled him up to the finish line, where we came in with a pretty good sprint.

When it was all said and done, I managed an 18th place finish, out of 26 riders. While it wasn’t my best performance, I was somewhat pleased. The start to my season has been pretty rough, and I was glad that this series was over. As usual, I hung around to help with volunteer duties, and to watch the rest of the races. I spent some time on the trail, standing by in case some first aid assisitance was needed.

That part of the day turned out to be pretty busy. There were several injuries. One of the junior riders had what I suspected to be a broken arm, a female rider sustained a face injury, and one of the Super-Sport guys hurt his collarbone. The last two of these required outside medical assistance, since I am merely a first responder. The kid with the alleged broken arm should have gotten medical attention, but I’m not sure if he ever did. As far as I know, everyone will be fine. The course had gotten much faster throughout the day, so I can imagine that there were more crashes than that. I can’t be everywhere at once, you know.

We ended this day with a trip to East Boulevard Bar and Grill for the awards ceremony. Lunchbox and I chowed down on some appetizers and I enjoyed a good ol’ Sweetwater 420. While I didn’t do well enough in the series to merit any kind of award (there’s no award for suckitude), it was nice to close out the series with a little party. A few of us even discussed riding plans for the next day. I’ll fill you in on that one tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Season Finale

Tomorrow is the final race in the 2010 Winter Short Track Series of misfortune, and I have mixed feelings about it. First and foremost, I’m happy to be able to get out and race again, even though it’s been filled with suckitude (for me anyways.) What I haven’t enjoyed is the hours I’ve spent washing the mud out of my clothes, cleaning and maintaining my bike, and the realization that neither I nor the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth has been ready for this grueling series.

I fully suspected that I wouldn’t be in “racing shape” so early in the season. I didn’t really prepare very well in the “offseason” either, other than I drank a lot of beer. Also, I had a feeling that the P.O.S. I threw together at the last minute and called a bike would disappoint me. Yes my friends, the Greatest Short Tack Bike on Earth was a failed experiment, but I will press on. I do have some hope that The Big O will have much better results though. Of course, I thought that the Greatest Piece of Shit on Earth would fare much better than it did, but hey, at least I learned a lesson. You can build a bike two ways: right, and right now. I chose the latter and paid dearly for it.

Although I somehow doubt it, the weather gurus around here are predicting some sunny goodness for this weekend, although it will still most likely be cold. We had a little rain earlier in the week, but it has been dry so far. Maybe the trail will dry out and be in nice shape for the season finale. I’m not sure if I can handle myself out there with no mud. It will be fun either way I guess. I may do what I did last week and bring both bikes, deciding at the last possible moment which one to ride. I worked on both of them last night to get them back into riding condition, so I shouldn’t have any issues. I checked and double-checked the drivetrain, brakes, and everything else I could think of. I even gave Goose a hug to make him feel better.

Looking forward, there are a few things on the horizon. The month of March is relatively event-free, so maybe I can get some quality saddle time without the demands of a race bearing down on me. If the weather warms up a bit, we’ll resume the regularly-scheduled Tarheel Trailblazers Kids Ride. I miss those, and I’m sure the kids do too. Other than that, I’ll be pulling stuff out of my ass to put here on the blog the next few weeks. Hang in there, as things could get real messy around here. See y’all Monday.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Big “O”-nnouncement

So, you came here today to find out what the big deal was. I got some new stuff, right? Big deal, everyone gets new stuff. Hell, I cleaned up at Christmas. What more could I want? I’m glad you asked. Well, I asked for you, but whatever. Wait, am I talking to myself here? Probably so.

Well, I finally gave in to the constant peer pressure from my shop, my friends, and some anonymous (to me) people out on the Internets. Since the Greatest Short Track on Earth was such an epic fail, I am giving big wheels a try. Not a Big Wheel, but a 29er bicycle. An anonymous commenter guessed yesterday that I got a 29er singlepeed, and I flat-out denied it. I only denied it because he or she was only half right. I love having gears too much to go with the singlespeed thing. I imagine I’ll give into that one some day too. I’m a sucker for punishment, and singlespeeders seem to be all about that.

So, what the hell did I get anyway? Anyone who’s been around here for a while knows how much I love I have for Diamondback Bicycles, so you can probably guess that my foray into 29 inch wheeled bikes would include them. Well, you would be correct. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Big O, or my new Diamondback Overdrive frame.

(Cat tree not included.)

I didn’t just grab this frame because it’s a Diamondback, mind you. While that had a lot to do with it, there are a few more reasons to it than that. First, I got a hell of a deal on the frame. I couldn’t pass it up, no matter how hard I tried. Second, who wouldn’t fall in love with these sexy curves?

Okay, maybe that’s not such a good reason to start riding 29ers. However, this next tidbit of information was good enough for me. Are you aware that back in 1992, Diamondback Bicycles was one of the very first companies to roll out a big-wheeled bike, also called the Overdrive? Yes, they get zero points for name originality. While it took off like a lead ballon back then, they were able to resurrect it two years ago and get with the times. The Overdrive would probably be considered an “entry-level” 29er, and that’s okay with me since I would be considered an “entry-level” 29er rider. A match made in heaven.

Also, there have been plenty of good reviews for this bike, even from “respectable” people.

Here is one from Guitar Ted.

And the follow-up.

Here is one from Bicycling magazine.

This is from some random website I pulled out of my ass (and coincidentally was “borrowed” from Guitar Ted’s website.

One thing stuck out in the last review: The Overdrive Pro represented a new class of 29″er: The “Under Grand Group.” I guess that means you don’t have to spend a ton of money to ride a big-wheeled bike. I’m all about that one. Besides, this is yet another experiment for me, and I hope it doesn’t end in failure like the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth. Only time will tell.

Since I only have a frame in my possession, I’ll be building this one up from scratch. Sure, I’ll reuse some of the not shitty parts from The Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth, but I am still in need of some 29er-specific parts, such as a fork and wheels. I may go a little cheap on those at first, since I have no idea if I will like riding on clown wheels. Also, I have some upgraded parts (that I felt weren’t good enough for my current P.O.S. hardtail) on standby. There will be no shitty v-brake action on the 29er either, since I have a nice set of hydros for it. What a relief that will be.

So, what will it look like when it’s done? I don’t know for sure, but here is what it would look like if you purchased it from the shop, so you have some kind of idea:

Image "borrowed" from Diamondback's display at Interbike.

Hopefully when I build it, it won’t have such shitty parts, although it is a possibility. The only thing I may skimp on for now would be the fork, but I am looking for a helluva deal somewhere. Also, this thing won’t be built overnight. I plan on taking my time to find the right stuff to put on it, so I will keep everyone updated as I go along. While I realize that it won’t make me any faster, it looks like it could be fun. One thing for sure, it will have gears and a squishy fork…for now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What’s in the Box?

Okay, so I already told you that the Big Brown Truck dropped off something at the infamous B-43 Worldwide Headquarters da udda day. What are the contents of said box? Well, I’m still not telling; at least not yet. Although I’ve already opened the box and revealed the contents to the folks who reside at the B-43 World Headquarters, no one else knows. Well, I may have spilled the beans to the other members of the B-43 team too. I can’t remember if I told them or not. Whatever. So what you say, TheMutt has some big announcement, right? Well, it may or may not be that important, but it’s driving me nutty. I’m sure I’m driving you all nutty also by delaying the unveiling of this new item. Is it a new wheelset? A new fork? New shifters, brakes, etc.? Did Cane Creek Cycling Components send me another care package? Is there a new sponsor that’s sending goodies? Not likely, but one could only guess at this point. Hell, it might be one of these:

With this, I would be guaranteed to mow down the competition.

All kidding aside, it’s not a lawnmower bike. I know, you’re extremely disappointed. While I have a new “something” in the works, I’m still wondering why the hell I’ve even done such a thing. Have I mentioned that all of this crazy weather is making me insane? It could be worse I guess.

Speaking of crazy weather, here is the latest video from my pal Bart at Southpark Cycles. The latest round of snow-turned-to-mud was hell on our race series, but it has kept it interesting. While I am not anywhere near where I need to be as far as racing shape, I am glad to have the opportunity to ride in such horrible conditions. We don’t normally get to ride on a trail when the weather is like this. Anyway, here is the video:

That’s all I have for today. Perhaps I can actually tell you what I’ve been hinting around about on tomorrow’s post. I just might do that.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How Do You Prepare?

Last Friday night, we here at the B-43 Worldwide headquarters were preparing to be snowed in again. Since the wise weather forecasters in our area initially said we wouldn’t get any snow, I started to think we would get blasted with the stuff. While we ended up getting a fair amount, we were most definitely not snowed in. Normal Fridays around here consist of pizza and a movie, and this past one was no exception. I decided to start the evening by digging in the beer reserves.

I “discovered” this little beauty at our local grocery chain, so I decided to pick it up. The fine folks at New Belgium Brewing came up with a new Pale Ale, and I was eager to try it. I am already a fan of their Fat Tire beer, so I knew I would like it. It was very good, with the perfect amount of hops (for all you hoppy lovers out there.) I couldn’t stop there though. I found yet another new brew to try:

This one is from the good people at Sweetwater Brewing Company, just down the road in Atlanta, Georgia. I have been a fan of their stuff for a while now, so I figured that this particular brew would be added to my list of favorites. However, I didn’t read the bottle too carefully. While I noticed that it had 9% alcohol (yay!), I must have missed that part where it said “stout.” I poured it in my mug and this is what I saw:

It looked like a glass of motor oil. While I don’t usually drink too many stouts, this one looked appealing. It had a nice aroma, and a bit of a bite to it. It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t recommend drinking more than one at a time.

After getting those two beverages in me and enjoying the quiet snowfall for a bit, it was time to get down to the pizza. We usually order it, but this time we decided to make our own. After gathering a wacky list of ingredients, we were ready. We each made our own, plus a “regular” one for the three of us. I started on mine.

Nothing unusual here, just a crust:

Next step (of course) was the sauce:

After adding some cheese, I whipped out the pepperoni. Since I don’t eat filthy swine, this pepperoni is made from turkey. While arranging them on the pizza, I decided to pay homage to the everlasting coincidence number:

Lunchbox and Little Miss Sunshine were busy too. Here we have a pie designed by the Lunchbox, complete with stuff you wouldn’t normally put on a pizza:

Yep, it has those little Goldfish crackers, Oreos, and tater-tots. Yummy.

Little Miss Sunshine went with a little healthier (and less gross) pizza. I call it “Vegetable Surprise.” It smelled really great coming out of the oven too:

We enjoyed our pizzas, and everyone was happy with the results. Why is the blog all about pizza today, you ask? Well, since my “season” is off to such a shitty start, I thought I would elaborate on my not-so normal race preparations. That could explain why I haven’t done so well in the 2010 Winter Short Track Series so far, but I don’t care. You all should know by now that I don’t take this shit too seriously. Sure, I need to ride my bike to stay sane, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun. I’m sure I’ll crank up the intensity as the year goes on. For now though, it’s beer and weird pizza.

Don’t worry folks, I haven’t forgotten about the “announcement” I promised last week. I haven’t decided what the hell I’m doing yet. Go figure. A box from the Big Brown Truck has arrived, and I am in a state of confusion over its contents. I wonder if I have made a mistake. I’ll tell y’all about it in due time, and hopefully get some opinions. Maybe I’ll get around to it sometime this week.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Godzilla vs. Pelican Penis Man

I'm not too sure what all the fuss is about up there in the Great White North. You guys should expect cold weather. But I reckon being couped up in a meat locker could have its effect on one's psyche. It's been cold down here for a couple of weeks and I've about had it. Not so much with the ice on the windshield every morning but it's makin' some people do some flat out weird things. ---5:30 am 27 degrees on Disney property and yes it did snow.

Snow (Race) Day

I mentioned on Thursday that we would have a break in the weather for race four of the 2010 Winter Short Track Series this past weekend. Like most of our local weather forecasters, I was wrong. There was a winter storm approaching, but we weren’t supposed to see anything from it. It was first projected to miss us completely. By the time I got home on Friday though, it had started snowing.

So much for a not-so-muddy race, huh? As the snow continued to fall throughout the night, I wondered if the roads would be covered enough to warrant another cancelled race. I didn’t sleep worth a damn that night either, since I kept waking up to check if the race was still on. I wasn’t hoping for a cancellation, but I wanted to know if I could even get out of my neighborhood to go to the race venue. When I finally woke up for good Saturday morning, the Tarheel Trailblazers site said that the race was on. Race promoter extraordinaire Neal Boyd posted up the question, “Who wants to race in the snow?” I loaded up both of my trail bikes and got ready to head out.

The drive to get out of my neighborhood was a little rough at first, but the interstates were clear.

When I arrived at the trail, they were still setting up the course. The parking lot was covered in ice, but since the sun was coming out, it was melting pretty quickly.

My normal race-day photographer, Lunchbox, decided to skip Saturday’s race to have a little fun in the snow with his friends back in our neighborhood. Since he’s still a kid, I didn’t blame him at all. I later learned that Little Miss Sunshine participated in the snow-fun as well, even making a snowman. Looking back, I probably should have stayed home to play in the snow too. This past weekend’s race was hell. Not so much on me, but moreso on my bike.

As you saw in the above photos, I brought both bikes. Since the trail was covered in snow for the most part, I opted to ride Goose, since it was better equipped. The dual suspension and the knobbier Kenda Nevegals seemed like a good choice. Also, I figured that having hydraulic disc brakes would have a lesser chance of failure than the shitty V-brake action on the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth. I took two warm-up laps to get reacquainted with my long lost friend. As usual, I didn’t make the best choice, but I was committed to staying with the full squish bike.

When the race started, I took it pretty easy. No one really took off that fast anyway, and my goal was to just ride. The trail had a bit of ice, and some of the snow had already started to melt, turning the trail to the ever-so-familiar muddy brown mess I had grown accustomed to riding. I stayed with the pack on the first lap, even keeping the leaders in sight. Fatigue was not an issue as it normally was, and I credit that to the thorough warm-up. I kept pushing to stay with the group, and we completed lap number one.

Lap two was a different story. I decided to make my move, and push a little harder to move up a few places. After the first set of berms/downhill stuff, I stood up to “put the hammer down”, so to speak. As soon as I did, my chain locked up. By this point, my bike was covered in mud and snow, which meant that the drivetrain was getting gunked-up. I thought that it was a freak occurrence, since I’ve raced in these shitty conditions before. While Goose is a highly-tuned machine, it was not used to being ridden in such a muddy hell. I continued to have problems on every climb, as it only got worse. After lap two I could still see the pack, but I was fading away fast.

On a positive note, I didn’t really feel that tired. I had plenty of energy, but the bike was preventing me from putting that energy to good use. In spite of my mechanical issues, I managed to stay in good spirits. While I rode the trail, I found myself in awe of the fact that I was actually racing in the snow. Being a Florida native, this is something I never even thought I would be doing. Ever. As the race went on though, my drivetrain issues became worse, along with my attitude. I was getting really pissed at the fact that my bike was hindering my progress. Why oh why didn’t I ride the shitty bike I built for this race series? I asked myself that question every time my chain locked up (which became more frequent as the race went on.)

After the last guy in my class went by me, I concentrated on staying in the race. I would not quit, no matter what happened. I continued to ride along, thinking that my chain would break at any given moment. If it did, I would stay in the race; even if I had to run along side my bike to get in the last few laps. I tried not to think about it, even though it made the most horrible sound every time it locked up. Chainsuck, well, sucks.

After what seemed like an eternity, I heard my favorite words, “One lap to go!” I knew I just had to survive one more lap of hell. I took the downhills with reckless abandon, and hit the final climb with all my might. At this point, I didn’t care what happened to the bike. If something broke, so be it. All I wanted to do was finish. I crossed the finish line in 12th place, which doesn’t sound too bad. It was bad though, since only twelve racers showed up. This would go down as my worst performance ever, even though physically I felt fine. I know mechanical issues affect every racer at some point in time, but this one really pissed me off. I take good care of my bikes, but I guess that wasn’t enough this time. I have to say that Little Miss Sunshine warned me about this though. She said that Goose wouldn’t be happy racing in such horrible conditions. Lesson learned (again.)

Even though my race sucked, I found some enjoyment in watching others out there. A lot of people were having issues, from chainsuck to lack of brakes, so that gave me a little comfort. The trail became even muddier as the day went on, so it was starting to look like I had it easy.

Here we have the MadSS fighting through the muck in his race:

Local bike shop owner Bart was enjoying the muddy goodness too. I can’t wait to see the helmet camera footage.

Local team rider Eric attempts to navigate the slippery bridge.

We did have a little fun out there on the trail during some of the later races. A group of guys had made a little snowman, and everyone paid homage to it as they passed by. It moved along to various points on the trail during the singlespeed race for the racers’ (and our) enjoyment.

The little snowman was perched on a rock at the rock garden to get a better view of the race (and to heckle the participants.) He would eventually meet his demise there though, since he jumped onto the trail a few minutes later. Two riders eventually ended his little snowy life. Rest in Peace little guy. You will be missed.

As you can see, Saturday’s race was a roller coaster of emotions. The little snowman’s demise was sad, but he did provide some entertainment that took my mind off of my shitty race performance. Hopefully next week will be dry and free of mechanical issues. This muddy, snowy shit really sucks, at least for racing. I sure can’t wait for Spring to get here.