Thursday, February 28, 2013

Get Away

You know what?

Screw this shit.

I'm going to the mountains today.

Not to ride bikes though.

It's time to dust off the snowboard and get radical (or whatever the hell the kids say these days.)

The cat is not going.

See y'all tomorrow sometime.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Expo Part 2

At the Southeast Bike Expo, we didn’t just look at cool-looking shit.

Or pretend to ride shit.

But, I did ride the same shit as last year.

Let me explain.  Last year, I was the first person in the southeast to ride the Niner Air9 RDO.  It was pretty rad, but not rad enough for me to drop money on one (plus I was riding for another brand at the time.)  This year, when we visited the Niner tent, I only had two choices (in an extra large size):  The Air9 RDO and the Jet9 RDO.  The plan was to ride the Jet9, but the large version wasn’t available when we wanted to ride.  That meant that TomTom wouldn’t get to try one. 

Being the good guy that I am (and the fact that TomTom is between sizes and could ride a large or extra large) I decided to make a sacrifice and ride the Air9.  That meant that my pal TomTom could enjoy the squishy carbon goodness while I rode something somewhat familiar.  I didn’t mind at all, because I’m all about making people happy.

I know, he doesn’t look very happy in that photo.  I assure you that he was.

Anyway, since we saw people coming off the trail all sloppy, muddy, and gross, we decided to ride the other side of the 1996 Olympic mountain Bike course.

You know, the cool, rocky side.

TomTom seemed to enjoy it.

Even though you can’t see his face, he’s smiling this time.

The best part of our test ride was that we had a tour guide…

Yup, Faster Mustache’s own Evil Ginger happened to be there, and he was kind enough to ride with us.

We had a lot of fun, got a little dirty, and got the bikes even dirtier.  So dirty that Niner Mike had to clean them off after we were done.

That wasn’t all we rode though.  We ran into the Pinarello rep (who was from Charlotte), and took a spin on their new carbon 29er.

It was pretty cool, although I’m not sure I would want to see the price tag.  It was kinda meh, other than the weirdo seat post clamp thingy…

It was a long, long day.  After leaving the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters at the crack of dark, looking at, touching, and even trying fancy bike stuff, we grabbed some dinner and drove back to the Queen City.

It was worth every second.  I can’t wait for next year.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I’m Still Tired

And I’m glad I took yesterday off from here.  My day at work Friday was hell, and I thought I was never gonna get out of there.  I don’t often have to stay late, but for some reason I got shit on and had to work way past my regularly scheduled time.  When I finally got home, I only had a couple of hours to eat, drink a beer (or two or three), and prepare for my journey the next day to the Southeast Bike Expo.

I knew I was tired from a long day, so I pushed back our start time from 6:00 a.m. to around 6:30.  I picked up TomTom at his house around the corner, and we made the long journey to Conyers, GA in the rain.  It wasn’t looking good for the trail conditions down there, since it shit on us the whole time until we rolled into the parking lot.  But, we finally made it.

They moved the event down the road a bit this year, so instead of being out in a empty field we were inside some sort of compound.  That kept people from sneaking in (like last year) and with the rain it was good to be on asphalt instead of in a muddy field. 

TomTom and I started making our rounds, checking out the vendors and doing my best to talk to everyone I knew.  Of course our first stop was to visit Mike with Niner Bikes.

Mike is good people, and onoe of the reasons that I dig Niner so much.  I dropped off some smuggled out of state beer for him, and we discussed bike stuff for a bit.  Of course, he asked why I didn’t bring Dicky along.

“He’s afraid I would let him drink too much.”

That was the recurring theme for the day…

“Where’s Dicky?” 

Like I’m his right hand man or something. 

Bastard.  Shoulda went down there with me.

Anyway, we decided to take a lap around the Expo.  The rain had stopped, but seeing everyone come back from their rides all sloppy made us decided to wait a little while to ride.  There was a lot more to see and do this year, so we got busy.

The next stop was to visit the folks over at Industry Nine, where I found them testing a new wheel.

A big one.

I’m not sure why you would want one of their fancy wheels on a high roller, but hey, everyone should enjoy a quality ride on I9 wheels.  We say their new hubs and the Torch wheelset, and I even got a look at the new single speed hub.  I didn’t take a photo, but trust me when I say that it is badass.  I think it’s time for me to start thinking about an upgrade.

Anyway, we walked over to the folks at Cane Creek Cycling Components, and we looked at headsets an shocks.  Malcom was kind enough to explain to TomTom (who rides squishy bikes) all about how the Double Barrell rear shock works.

Right next door was the Maxxis booth…

Where I promptly went over and introduced myself as a “sponsored rider.”  I felt kinda douchey saying that, but when I told him my name at least he knew who I was.  He didn’t even ask why I didn’t bring Dicky.  Instead, we talked about prototype tires and new designs, which really got my attention.  There will be some cool new stuff coming out of Maxxis, and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

We walked over to the Scott tent, and I expected to be greeted with disdain and snobbery (like last year.)  Instead, TomTom (who rides one of their bikes) got a pretty good reception and seemed to emjoy looking at their new stuff.

New product stuff at the Expo?  You betcha.  SRAM had their new XX1 drivetrain on display.

Although it’s really freaking pricey, I must admit that it rides pretty smooth.  I don’t think I would shell out the big bucks for it right now, but when it trickles down to the X9 level I may give it a whirl on my geared bike.


Speaking of things that are really nice (yet expensive), we stumbled upon a couple of guys from Webb Works, makers of custom bamboo bicycles. 

These bikes are handcrafted in Thailand out of bamboo (duh) and joined with carbon to make one really light bicycle.  The pictured above was a road bike, but they also had a cyclocross, touring, and even a fixie.

They were prtty neat to look at, touch, etc.  Word around the campfire is that they will be introducing a 29er very soon too.  I’d like to demo one to see if it can withstand my power. 

You may ask, “Did you actually ride anything out there?”

Well, yeah, we did.  I just don’t want to get into to it today.  So yes, I will drag out a post over two days as usual.

Be back here tomorrow.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Road Ahead

Apparently it leads to Minnesota. That’s right, registration for the biggest party in the U.S. has opened and it is filling up fast (less than 40 spots remain.)  Single Speed USA is in Winona, MN this summer, and I’m pretty excited about it.  Last year, I made the trip to Vermont (mostly because George was hosting the race) and I had a blast.  I’ve never been to Minnesota before, so I figured, “What the hell.”

Or as the kids say for every insignificant thing...YOLO.

I haven’t made any travel plans as of yet, but I’m 99.9% sure that I will be driving up there.  I don’t care for flying, plus I like being alone behind the wheel for extended periods of time.    It looks like about a sixteen hour drive, which doesn’t sound too bad.  Well, at least on the way up.  The drive home will probably suck worse than anything that has ever sucked.

Bring it on, I’m ready.

In other news, I have immediate travel plans for this weekend.  Bright and early tomorrow morning, TomTom and I are heading down to Conyers, GA for this:

Yup, once again I’m going to the Southeast Bike Expo.  I had a lot of fun last year, so hopefully this year won’t be any different.

Unless there is moar fun.  Yes, moar.

I won’t be spending the night like I did last year though, which also means that I won’t have to babysit Dicky because he drank too much beer.  We’re leaving bright and early tomorrow morning, and coming back late that night. 

I told you I like driving.

Anyway, I have other shit going on after the Expo, so don’t come back here on Monday looking for me.  Tuesday will work better.

Is that good for you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Now That I’m Done Racing For A While…

I can concentrate on something fun like training.

I kid.

Well, sort of.  I ordered a few parts for my road bike a while back, and I finally got everything installed.  It wasn’t too bad I guess, since I only had to swap out my handlebars (to wider ones) and stem (to a shorter one) to make the bike fit me a better.  The hard part was replacing the bar tape.  That shit appears to be some kind of long lost art or a cosmic mystery.

Seriously, I had quite the difficult time wrapping bar tape around my new handlebars.  It may seem funny to you, but I’m no roadie so I am not familiar with such things.  On a mountain bike, you just slide your grips on and tighten them down (assuming you have lock-on grips.)  Road bike grippy stuff is an entirely different animal.  After about an hour of frustration and several beers though, I finally got it to look pretty “professional.”

Of course, I used Lizard Skins DSP bar tape, and I really like it so far.  It’s a little pricey for the common road bike enthusiast, but I think it’s well worth it.  The grip it provides it phenomenal.

Plus, it looks pretty damn good.

With a road bike that fits better and some shiny new shit to enjoy, it looks like I might start riding out on the ol’ country roads a little more.  I wouldn’t call it training though.  Hell, I don’t call anything training, even if it actually is training.

Since you know damn well that I won’t be spending all my free time on the road bike, I’ll get to the real deal.  Now that I’m not “racing” on Sundays for a little while, the plan is to get back out on The Trail.  It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it here, but rest assured that we’ve been working our collective asses off.

With our flooding problem resolved for now, we decided to fix the trail where it crossed several creeks (that we turned into one.)  A couple of cedar logs and some rocks did the trick.

We also flagged a shitload of new stuff, so we got busy cutting it in.  Irish Luke, TomTom, and I spent several hours out there on Saturday just before the big snow storm and made our little slice of heaven just a little bit longer.

We still have lots to go obviously, but we’re getting really close to completing the first loop.  Some days we get a large crew out there, and other times it’s just two of us.  I’ve had several people inquire as to the wherebouts of this fine piece of property, and people have also wanted to come out and ride it.

Like I told you before, if you come out to help us build it, you can ride it.  It’s not that big of a secret anymore.

That’s it for today.  I have some planning to do for this weekend.  It’s gonna be busy as shit, and of course I’ll talk about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Transformation

Good Guy Greg and I enjoyed some fine beverages after our first race of the day.

Sometime after Lunchbox’s race and the beginning of my single speed race, I turned into an asshole.  I was in quite the foul mood during his race, even though he was making me laugh in his banana suit.  You see, I noticed some shitty race tactics being emplyed by the fast racer children in his class and it pissed me off.  They were cutting the course in several spots (which we had to keep blocking off), yelling at the smaller junior racers, and even running into them when they wouldn’t get out of the way.

Couple that with the fact that I was not looking forward to riding slowly through the woods and getting my ass handed to me on the fire road climb again made me angry all of a sudden.  I ran out of the woods and quickly changed back into my dirty clothes, and I showed up a little late to the line.  I squeezed in just before the ladies and took my spot at the back of the pack with the rest of the single speeders. 

As I stood there waiting to go, the anger started growing.  I decided that I wasn’t about to get mixed up with everyone pussyfooting through the sloppy trail and I was gonna do something about it.  When they said go, I took off as fast as I could, spinning the shit outta my 32X18 gear.  I kept pushing, and passed people left and right.  When we got to the entrance of the singletrack, I pushed it even harder and made a move that put me in front of a few more riders.  I still had to slow down a bit when we first got in, but I was up in the lead group for a change.  Anger was my friend, it seemed.

Wow, I was actually “racing.”  I rode as fast as I could (with people still riding brakes), and when we came out on the fire road I kept up the pace.  Only one guy passed me this time (as opposed to most of the field like usual), and I kept plugging away to the start finish line.  Lap one was in the books, and I headed around the parking lot to hit the woods again.

One guy passed me right before the single track, and he started riding his brakes when we got in the woods.  Suddenly, I was getting way more pissed.  This time, I decided to say something.  The conversation went sorta like this:

Me:  “Come on, I know you’re faster than this in the woods!”

Him:  “The trail is too slippery!”

Wow.  Did I really just hear that stupid shit?  If I wasn’t in such a bad mood, I would’ve laughed my ass off.  Instead, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a move.  I passed him (in a safe spot) and did my best to get away.  When we got to the fire road, it took him a little while to catch back up.

“See, that’s how you ride through the woods.”

I got a little satisfaction from that, but I knew there was no way I could keep up that pace on the climbs for the rest of the race.  When I got back in the woods, the same stuff kept happening again (with different people this time.)  My anger was growing, so I pushed it whenever I could.  It was really obvious that I was frustrated though.   

Just past the start/finish line again, someone shot in front of me in the parking lot and beat me to the single track.  They slowed way down, and I said, “Wow!  Aren’t you glad you got in front of me?”  Damn.  I was out of control and I knew it.  If I kept racing, something bad was gonna happen.  I didn’t want to make an ass out of myself, but I sure as hell wasn’t gonna quit racing.  It was at that point I decided that a change was necessary.

When I approached the start/finish line, I spotted my truck next to the pit area.  I pulled over, got off my bike, and headed for it.  One of the local team guys asked me if I needed anything (he seemed really concerned.)  I said, “Yeah, I need a beer.”  I grabbed an IPA out of my cooler, put it in my 29nSNGL coozie, and hopped back on my bike. 

All of a sudden everything was better.

I took a few sips, and realized that I was gonna have a hard time drinking that shit in the woods.  I wasn’t about to throw it out, so I pushed my luck riding one-handed on the sloppy course while drinking my happy juice.  I was still pretty fast, and I was having way more fun.  I managed to make it out of the woods and back to the fire road without losing any of my precious brew.

My anger was gone and I was feeling mighty fine.  I rolled through the start/finish line and yelled, “Cheers!” and kept on going.  When I finished that beer, I stuffed the empty can in my jersey pocket.  Every lap after that was pretty damn awesome, and I didn’t give a shit whether I was going fast or not.  I managed to get eight laps out there (after only “racing” two), and I was no longer angry.  Shit, I didn’t even come in last. 

Why didn’t I do this earlier in the series?

Being a Drunk Cyclist is pretty damn fun.

Beer and bicycles are the best medicine for whatever ails you.     

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cold And Sloppy

My first race this past Sunday in the Winter Series was shaping up to be a slopfest.  We had a little snowstorm blow in the day before, and that mean that everything would be all pretty and junk.

Well, until I got out on the race course to check the conditions.

The first couple of groups that went out were getting covered in mud and the trail was getting sloppier by the minute.  I was sorta looking forward to getting out of there, especially after watching Eastwood and TomTom out there.

When it was my turn, I heard that they were making a modification to the course.  The grassy field we’ve been using was being removed, since it was getting really nasty (and they were tearing up the grass.)  After getting a look at it, I was glad.

The turnout in the big boy class was a little smaller than usual, but I didn’t care.  I shot up towards the front as best I could, because I knew I could handle my bike in the shitty conditions.  I was sitting somewhere in third place when we went in the woods, and I was hell bent on giving it all I had.  During the first lap, I was feeling pretty good.

On the fire road, I turned it up a bit.  However, one guy went flying by me.  I stayed on him, and we went back in the woods together.  He rode his brakes through the descents (surprise!) and it was wearing me out having to needlessly accelerate up the short climbs.  When we got to the fire road again, I made sure to pass him and gun it.  I took off and put a pretty good gap on him.

I was feeling good.

I started to catch some guys in the other class, and I went around them whenever I could.  I was somehow able to handle my bike pretty well on the sloppy course, but I couldn’t safely get around everyone.

That led to more frustration.

Up the fire road again, one guy in my class came flying by like I was standing still.  He didn’t start the race with us, so I wondered how he was able to catch us like that.  Later on he told everyone he started late, which made absolutely no sense to me.  I called bullshit (on the spot and later on) and kept on pushing.  I figured that he had to be a lap down and I didn’t need to worry.

Next lap, I was feeling great.  Covered in mud, I was slowly picking off riders in the other class as I built a gap on the guys in my class.  I made passes when I could, but the frustration of being behind the brake riders was starting to get to me.

I was working extra hard because people couldn’t ride in the mud, but I tried not to let it bother me too much.  With the race coming to a close, I was still in third place, with no one behind me.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt great.  The results were posted, and I was somehow listed as 6th.  I spoke with the promoter and he found a mistake, which bumped me up to 4th.  I knew for sure I came in before the guys listed in 4th and 5th, so swapping me from 6th to 4th seemed accurate.  However, the guy that started late somehow ended up in 2nd.  Since they took his word that he started when he said he did, they added an extra lap which knocked me out of third.

I was a little pissed, but I couldn’t really do anything about it.  Maybe it was right, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

I handled my bike well in the mud, rode my ass off, and had my best race of the series.  That was good enough for me, because most of those people had a lot of trouble out there.  It is a mountain bike race, after all, and that made me feel pretty good about my effort.

I wasn’t bitter at all.  Well, at least not until my second race.

More about that tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Well, since the cat is sorta already out of the bag I’ll get right to it…

Lunchbox dressed up like a big ol’ banana at yesterday’s Winter Series finale..

It had snowed the day before and it was really cold, but Lunchbox lived up to his promise to dress up again for his race.  Just like the four previous races in the series, he was out there to have fun.  People were cold, muddy, and miserable from the day’s previous races, but everyone that saw that giant banana got a chuckle out of it.  That made him feel pretty good.  You know, because he was giving his fans what they wanted.

He was still fast in the woods, and surprisingly, riding in a banana suit wasn’t too bad.

The crowd laughed and cheered every time he went by on the course.  He was having fun, and I was having just as much fun watching him.  The course was muddy, sloppy, and still kinda wet, but my boy is a mountain biker.

These things do not affect him

As always, I was proud of my boy for racing.  He doesn’t do it very often, because he just wants to have fun riding his bike.  In this series, he wasn’t even close to being on the podium with all those tiny, serious racer children in his class.  He didn’t care about that at all.  But, when we got to the afterparty/awards ceremony we all got a little surprise. 

They started announcing the overall standings for each class, and we all clapped after each name was called.  When they got to the junior division we knew it would be all the fast racer children in the top five spots.  We didn't even hear the name called for fifth place, but we clapped just the same. 

When the name of 4th place overall was called, we all looked at each other in disbelief…

It was my big goofy kid that was called up to the front of the room.

We had no idea that he was even in contention for the top five.  Although he was being silly and doesn’t train for races, he does work hard out there.  He deserved this for sure, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.  Lunchbox is pretty rad.

And the lesson for today is…

It’s okay to have a little fun and not take this stuff so seriously.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Grand Finale

This weekend is the last of it.  The Winter Series is coming to a close, and I’m gonna miss it.  Unlike other races, this one is way more social.  The hecklers, beer drinking, and shit talking makes this one different than the rest, and I enjoy every minute of it.  Although I’m a little sad to have reached the end, I’m kinda ready to move on.

The real “season” is about to start soon.

For now though, I have to concentrate on obtaining a mediocre finish in the overall standings.  I’m not as fast as I was last year, but I’m working so hard (by treating this as “training”) that it doesn’t matter.  The things I’m doing now should prepare me for a long, grueling season.  You know, doing stuff like racing two races in one day.

I have a decision to make though.  Since I had so much fun (and faster lap times) riding my rigid single speed in the second race of the day, I’m considering riding it for the first one two.  There’s no better way to bring the hurt than to ride that rigid monster for two races.  It will damn near kill me, but I’m hoping that it makes me stronger.  It will probably be a “race day” decision, and no doubt will be influenced by those in my group that won’t have to suffer by doing the same thing.

Unless of course I can talk Good Guy Greg into it too.

In other news, remember how Lunchbox dressed up for his race last weekend?

Photo credit:  Mike Long

Well, he has a surprise for the last race in the series.  The cow costume with the fancy tuxedo jersey is old hat now, so he wants to spice it up a bit.  His new clothing choice is a well guarded secret right now (even though TomTom knows), so come back Monday to see what happened.

That boy is nuttier than a fruitcake, so I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction from his fans.

Yes, he has fans.  Lunchbox is pretty rad.

See y’all Monday.