Friday, December 31, 2010

It’s Been A Good One

Yes, this is the standard, “What I did this year” post, although I probably won’t get into too much detail (okay, I will.) First and foremost, I’d like to thank you, my loyal readers, for following along for the past year. I’ve picked up quite a few new visitors, and it makes me happy. If you didn’t come here every day and read this shit, I’d pretty much be talking to myself.

Second, I’d like to thank all of the folks listed over there on the left for their support. In one way or another, these fine organizations have helped me race, blog, and just ride for fun this past year. I don’t want to get into which one is better than the other, so I will just say thanks to you all. My dealings with you all have made this year fun and exciting.

What have I accomplished? Well, in the grand scheme of things, nothing. But, in my own little world of bicycling, it’s been a pretty good year. I started off last year by “racing” in the Winter Short Track Series with a piece of shit bike I built up, and it barely kept me out of last place (I’m sure my fitness had a lot to do with that though.)

In April, I competed in my first-ever solo endurance race, the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. It was definitely a learning experience, and it was also one of the most difficult things I had ever done at the time. I didn’t do so well, but it made me fall in love with endurance racing. I guess that’s a good thing.

Shortly after that race, I built up my very own 29er. From that point on, my mountain biking became more complete. Eventually I committed to riding big wheels full time, and I’m not looking back. In fact, in May I competed in another 6 hour race (the Grind On The Greenway) with my new big-wheeled machine. Because of those bigger wheels, I did a little better. 29ers (and endurance racing) would be here to stay for me.

Back in June, I did my first race in the State of Virginia. It was good to race on a course that I had never ridden before, and I vowed that in the future I would do more races like that. During that same month, I won a silver medal in the North Carolina State Games. June was busy, but fun nonetheless.

July was the busiest by far. I entered the XTERRA Whitewater, and we also spent a week riding all over the place when Mr. Shepherd came to visit. Our adventures took us to the mountains several times, as well as on our local trails. We even did a nice road ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A few weeks later, I headed down to Florida for some more riding, this time with Mr. Shepherd, Senor Oeste, and Lunchbox. That month flew by, but I got in a ton of riding.

August was a little shitty, as I broke two different bike frames. I bounced back from that though, and we ended up doing a lot of riding out in the mountains again. Things turned around the next month though, when I got to watch Little Miss Sunshine compete in her first triathlon. Also, I finally made the switch to tubeless tires.

October was chock full of good stuff, starting with our local Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day. Then it was time for my first crack at a solo 12 hour race, the Tree Shaker. I did better than expected, so now I’m looking for more long-distance events.

November was okay, but I broke a rib riding in the mountains. Also, Lunchbox broke his first bike frame. It wasn’t all bad though, since I eventually healed and got back to riding in the mountains. This month has been pretty uneventful as far as bikes go, but at least I’m still here talking about stuff I guess.

Sure, I only mentioned the good stuff (and not all of it), but that’s how I choose to remember 2010. That’s the beauty of writing about my own shit, I can tell it however I see it. I’m looking forward to an even bigger and better year for 2011, and I hope you’ll all stick around for it. That being said, I wish you all a Happy and Safe New Year. I’ll see y’all Monday.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It’s A Revolution

And I’m watching it happen right in front of me. Wait…what? Yeah, of course I’m talking about big wheels again. Even though I have embraced the 29er thing, there were still those in my life that haven’t gone over to the Dark Side. Things changed for the better over the Christmas holiday though, since I spotted this gift from Santa under (or next to, whatever) our Christmas Tree.

Yep, another clown-wheeled bike has joined the fleet here at B-43. In case you are clueless as to which member of our group will ride it, I’ll give you a hint.

Lunchbox has made the switch to big wheels, and he’s happy as he can be. He’s such a big kid that those oversized wheels actually look normal under him though. He couldn’t wait to get out and ride it, so he took it around the neighborhood for a spin. It was fun, but not enough. We loaded up the bikes yesterday to take a small ride at one of our local “all-weather” trails.

When we got there, Lunchbox wanted to take a photo of me with my new Dogfish Head jersey, so I happily posed for him.

Of course, I had to return the favor.

The trail is only a half-mile, but it’s pretty fun. We go there when everything else is closed around here (since it is an all-weather trail), so we don’t expect any kind of epic ride or anything. Even though the trail is normally in decent shape after any kind of shitty weather, yesterday it didn’t fare so well. We cut our ride short so we wouldn’t cause any trail damage. After riding less than a half-mile, we had acquired way too much mud:

It wasn’t a total fail though. Even with such a short ride, Lunchbox got a good feel for this whole Big Wheel Revolution. He said it was a noticeable difference from his smaller, squishier bike, and he couldn’t wait to take it on a real ride. Yeah, me too. Hell, all of us here in Charlotte could use a real mountain bike ride, especially after the kind of weather that we’ve seen around these parts lately:

I’m back at work, which means back to my regular blogging schedule. You’re stuck with me on the weekdays again. You are so damn lucky. I hope to see y’all tomorrow.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Are You Ready?

Yup, I'm here. I'm not sure why, but I am. Maybe it's because I have to take a trip to the mall, and by sitting here typing I can prolong it a little. I'm all about the suffering I guess, even if it's not while I'm riding my bike. Hell, maybe I should ride my bike to the mall and make it even more interesting.

The plan wasn't to go on too long today. I just figured I owed y'all a little extra since I was out for a few days this week. Speaking of being out, I'm off for a few days next week too. Since there is a strong chance of snow around here, who knows if I'll get to use those days to ride my bike. That was the plan, but I guess we may have to adapt. Perhaps a trip to the mountains for a little snowboarding? Hmmm.

Okay, here's the part where I get kind of serious (yeah, right.) I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and I hope you all get whatever you wished for. Maybe you'll have some extra time with family, you'll get to chow down on some delicious food, or you'll get all that bicycle crap on your wish list. Whatever it is, I hope it's great. Maybe your boss will even come over:

Have a Merry Christmas, and thanks for visiting. I'll see y'all next week sometime. Just don't forget to empty the shitter. Your neighbors will thank you for it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Cannot Tell A Lie

Since we were in the D.C. area this past weekend, Lunchbox and I decided to take a trip over to Mount Vernon, which in case you didn’t know was the home of George Washington.

Warning, today’s post will be light on words and heavy on the pictures. It’s easier for both of us that way. Okay? Good. Since it is in fact December, they were celebrating Christmas at the home of our first President.

I’ve been there several times before, but this was the first time that Lunchbox got to go. We decided to walk the grounds first before we headed up to the mansion. We stumbled upon this colonial-looking gentleman keeping a watchful eye over the livestock.

Have you ever heard of that tradition when the President pardons a turkey for Thanksgiving? Well, the turkey that was saved from this year’s feast was sent to live at Mount Vernon.

Meet “Apple”:

Okay, I know that now you’re either bored or hungry. Let’s turn around and head up to the house:

On the way to the house, we saw the uh, servant’s quarters.

Now it was time to take a tour of the mansion. Since photography isn’t allowed inside, I have nothing to show you. If you want to see what it looks like though, you can take a virtual tour. After we wandered around inside the house, we headed to the back porch (which faces the Potomac River.) We had a nice view:

And here is a view of the back of the house, as seen from the river:

Another view of the river:

Next we headed to the “coach area.” This was where they kept the vehicles that were used back in the day.

After touring the rest of the grounds (including the Tomb), we headed back to the mansion. Lunchbox posed in front of it for me:

I’m not trying to give you a history lesson here or anything, so don’t worry. You can read all about it for yourself. Since I haven’t been on my bike in a while, I figured that this would be the next best (slightly interesting) thing. Mount Vernon is historically accurate (for the most part), and it is well worth a visit if you find yourself in the Washington D.C. area. As with all “tourist” areas though, they have gift shops there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except for this item we saw:

Yeah, that’s a great way to honor or first President and his wife.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’ll probably be back tomorrow morning for a little Christmas Eve posting, although it will be brief. I have to get out and start Christmas shopping I guess.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Know You Missed Me…

And I missed my bike (and y’all too.) Lunchbox and I arrived back in Charlotte late Monday night, but I was too worn out yesterday morning to get on here on post anything. Even though we were away for a not-so happy purpose, we made the most of it. Why the D.C. area, you may ask? Well, I told you that I had family there, and actually that’s where I come from, in a roundabout sort of way.

I know I told you I’m originally from Florida, but that’s because part of my Northern Virginia family moved down there just before I was born. My grandparents, my uncle, and my mom left Manassas, VA in 1969, and left the rest of the family back there. I spent every summer of my life traveling back to the D.C. area, so I sort of felt like that place was home too. I was nice to see everyone up there again, although I would have preferred better circumstances. Anyway, since I am very familiar with the area, we always get to “see the sights” when we go back. I even got to see a neat little bicycle-related item:

I know it’s not much, but it was good to see something that I enjoy so much. I found the bike rack particularly interesting, since it had a bicycle design on it. That photo was taken in downtown Alexandria, VA, outside of Joe Theismann’s restaurant. I know this isn’t a sports blog, but since my family is from the area, I’m a big fan of the local football team. If you are a fan of that team, then check out this blog. I know better than to try to blog about sports (other than the tiny bit I did today.)

Anyway, if you’re not a fan, then that shouldn’t stop you from visiting this restaurant if you are in the area. The food was awesome, and the prices were pretty reasonable. Check out the dinner that Lunchbox and I had the first night:


Anyway, the staff noticed that we were big fans, so they gave us autographed photos of Mr. Theismann:

If you are a cyclist and don’t give a shit about football, then you probably don’t know who Joe Theismann is. He was a Super Bowl winning quarterback for the Washington Redskins back in the 80’s, but he is probably remembered more for this:

Ouch. The guy does have a sense of humor though, since one of the beers on tap in the restaurant was the Broken Leg Lager:

That night wasn’t all about football though. Since we had limited time there, we drove around for a bit to see the sights. Here’s downtown Alexandria all decorated for Christmas:

On our way back, we took a quick drive through Washington. I managed to get a couple of pictures:

I know it isn’t much, but that’s about all the time we had. The next day we had a little more free time, so we took another trip so Lunchbox could get a history lesson. I’ll be back here tomorrow to tell you all about it. It’s good to be home.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I’ll Leave You With Some Beer

With the weekend coming up, I thought that you might want to drink a little beer. As a lover of the brew, I wanted to share with you another fine beverage:

This is Trader Joe’s 2010 Vintage Ale. This bottle was actually purchased recently (hence the 2010 on the label), but I just cracked open the 2009 version. It’s really odd for any kind of beer to hang around my house for more than a few days, let alone a year, but this one was worth it. When I bought this stuff last year, another fellow beer connoisseur informed me that this particular beer gets better with age. I bought two bottles back then, and decided to try it. After chilling the first bottle, I drank it. It was pretty good, but that’s about all I remember about it. I put the other one in a cool, dark location in the house, and didn’t crack it open until this week.

I’m not usually a fan of the darker stuff, but I have to say that this one was awesome. I didn’t remember it being this good last year, so that aging thing must have worked. It’s a Belgian Ale, with about a 9% abv. It’s a little malty (but pretty balanced), and has sort of a cocoa taste (I guess that’s what it is.) It does smell of yeast and citrus a little, and it’s a tad bit spicy. It’s not overly sweet, and actually becomes a little drier as it gets warmer. It’s a perfect winter ale, and at a price of around 5 bucks you can’t beat it. I highly recommend it, if that means anything to you.

Since I was drinking beer already, it was time to bottle my own brew . First, I had to get my bottles ready:

Then grab the jug o’ fermentation magic:

Still looks kinda gross, but I’m sure it will resemble beer eventually.

The bottling was pretty uneventful. I boiled a little corn sugar in water, then mixed it all together. I filled each of my bottles and put them in the box:

Then I took a little of the leftover brew and put it in my “test bottle.”

After about 5 days or so, I’ll put this bottle in the fridge to chill. I’ll taste it the next day, and that should give me a good idea of what the finished product will be like. I still had more leftovers though, but it is uh, unusable:

Yuck. I poured that shit down the drain. I packed my bottles away in a safe place, and now I wait for the carbonation magic to happen. I “should” be able to drink this by Christmas. When The Dirty Party Cycle heads over my way on December 25th, we taste it and let you know. I’m looking forward to it. Even if it’s not great, it’s probably still better than most of the so-called “beer” that gets marketed to the masses (I’m talking to you, Bud, Miller, and Coors.)

That’s it for me for a while. I’m not sure when I’ll be back on here. Probably next week sometime (at least for a few days anyway.) I have to take a few days off because we had a death in my family. Lunchbox and I are heading up to the Washington D.C. area tomorrow morning to pay our respects. I know you expect me to be here every weekday, but this is more important. I hope y’all are here when I get back (maybe Tuesday, but Wednesday for sure.) See you then.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

29er And Awesome Love, Among Other Things

So now that I've bored you to death the last few days with part of my upcoming race schedule for next season, I’ll change the subject a little bit.

This is my 29er, The Big O. You've seen it before, but whatever. It’s called The Big O because it has big wheels and it’s a Diamondback Overdrive. Since I’ve been riding it for a while though, the “O” could probably stand for something else because of the way it makes me feel on the trail (get your mind in the gutter to figure it out.) After making the transition to clown wheels full time, my riding ability has improved tremendously. I love how the bigger diameter wheels roll over everything easier, and the ability to keep my speed up is incredible. I will probably bust out the small, squishy bike every once in a while to play around, the The Big O will be my weapon of choice for most every ride from now on.

Why am I bringing this up? Because this is my blog and I can talk about random shit if I want to. Actually, when I rode last weekend with The Dirty Party Cycle, I watched and listened as he rejoiced over his 29er. His skills have improved, and even his confidence is way up. He kept talking about how great it was to have much bigger wheels and how much of a difference they made. I didn’t have to listen to him, since I could actually see it while he was riding. I’ve been riding bikes with The DPC since I started this shit, and while we’ve both gotten better over the years, making the jump to big wheels has definitely raised the bar.

One thing from our conversation that really stood out was when he mentioned that maybe bigger wheels would be even better. He said, “I wonder what would happen if we rode wheels larger than 29ers?” We both had a good laugh, but he was dead serious. While perusing The Internets da udda day, I stumbled upon an article from Guitar Ted. Here’s a photo of what I’m talking about:

Here is a link to the article:
A “Bigger” Big Wheel?

Holy shit that’s a big-wheeled bike. While I don’t see myself getting one of those beasts anytime soon, I totally understand the concept. If 29 inch wheels are better, then wouldn’t 36 inch wheels be super-better? Sure. Or probably. I don’t know. Maybe The Dirty Party Cycle can get one to try out. That would make for an interesting ride for sure. Either way, bigger wheels are better. Since you probably don’t want to look ridiculous on the trail, you should just go with the 29er for now. Go check out Bike29 and buy yourself something nice. You can keep George busy this holiday season, especially now that he has a brand-spankin’ new computer.

Back to the ride from last weekend, I forgot to mention that I actually did a little “product testing.” My new and improved Awesome Strap was along for the ride, but I forgot to give a report on it. That's because I actually forgot it was there. The new and improved design holds on much tighter than the previous model, so I didn’t worry about it for even a second. It didn’t move at all on my seatpost, but I wasn’t really surprised. The folks at Backcountry Research have done it again, making yet another awesome product. The old design worked well, but the new ones are better than perfect. I am a happy camper.

Did you order one yet? Why the hell not? You know I’m gonna keep talking about it, so just go ahead and get one. You can still get the Stocking Stuffer Vital Deal if you act now, or you can get the Whammer Deal. It would be the perfect gift for that saddle bag loving mountain biker on your Christmas list.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let’s Continue, Shall We?

As you can see from the above photo, it’s still too cold (for me) to ride. So, I’ll sit inside where it’s warm and blog about riding my bike. Continuing with the upcoming Southern Classic Series, I’ll keep going down the list of races and decide which ones I think I’ll do. Here we go.

June 18th & 19th 2011 – Beech Mountain, NC

I have no idea about this one. I’ve never ridden anywhere near Beech Mountain (the highest town east of the Mississippi River at an elevation of 5,506 feet.) While that sounds appealing and all, I didn’t know they held cross country mountain bike races there. Maybe I’ll do a little research on this one and decide later. Looks like The Dirty Party Cycle and I may have to take a road trip for a little investigating.

June 26th 2011 – Tiger Rag, Clemson, SC

I’ve never been to Clemson, but I have heard that there are trails there. Honestly, I’m not that interested in driving down to Clemson for a race though. The fact that I will probably be racing in South Carolina twice in the series already is enough for me to bail on this one. Anyone out there care to convince me otherwise?

August 6th & 7th – Fontana Village, NC

I’ve never been to Fontana, so I have no idea what the trails there are like. The website says this about the mountain biking there:

“Fontana hosts two major mountain bike events throughout the year. The Icycle in January and the SERC sanctioned Dam Jam in August. You can ride the same trails the pros do the rest of the year. So bring your helmet and pads and get out there yourself and put the Mountain back in Mountain Biking.”

Sounds good, but I may have to ride it first to see what I’m up against. I’m certainly not a pro, so I would probably get my ass kicked out there. This one is a possibility, but probably a no.

August 14th 2011 – The Sizzler, Greensboro, NC

The Sizzler is a race and not a restaurant, in case you were wondering. This one is high on the list of races I want to do. I tried to get up there last year, but I had a scheduling conflict. I’ll do my best to keep my schedule free so I can sizzle in Greensboro. This one looks like a yes for me.

August 21st 2011 – Dark Mountain, North Wilkesboro, NC

Again, I attempted to do this one last year but failed. I was on call for work, but I decided to go anyway. I woke up extra early to take care of some work stuff, but fell back asleep and didn’t wake up in time. Work left me alone the rest of the day, so had I not overslept I could have raced. Damn it. I love riding at Dark Mountain, so you can bet your sweet ass I’ll be up there next year.

That’s it for the Southern Classic Series. It looks as if I have my plate full for just this one series. Sure, I’ll do other stuff (which I'll talk about at another time), but I want to do as many races in this series as possible. It should be lots o’ fun, and hopefully I can drag along some of my local cycling pals to suffer with me. Yes, MadSS, Dirty Party Cycle, and Space Cowboy I’m talking to you (or y’all, whatever.)