Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More Product Reviews

With all the Awesome stuff that was happening around here the other week, I failed to mention another product I received. One of our local club members did a presentation at one of our meetings last month, regarding some new anti-butt sore cream. While there are several products on the market that perform this function, I obtained a free sample of this new one that deserved a review. The name of the product is Keister Kreme, made in the U.S. of A. by SOYuRIDE. Their website had a few things that made me chuckle:

“Keister Kream anti-chafing chamois cream is the only choice to protect your vegetables from chafing and irritation.”


- Cool Mint is...well...tingly! It has a slightly thicker consistency, and a light green color that won't stain your skin or your shorts. It has a menthol scent, and will provide a cooling, tingly sensation on application. We thought it was pretty weird when we asked our testers how to make Keister Kream better and they requested 'tingle', but we made it happen.”

The sample I have is the “original” version, so I guess I won’t find out what the tingly action is all about. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try.

Saturday morning, while getting ready for the 10th Annual CSC Spring Training Ride, I opted to use the Keister Kreme instead of my usual stuff, Chamois Butter. The website said to “Slap some on and head out for a 5 hour ride,” so I figured that a 56 mile road ride would be a good way to test it. I’d rather test it on a training ride and find out it doesn’t work instead of discovering it at the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. I applied the Keister Kream to my uh, nether regions and got ready to ride.

Thankfully there are no photos of me putting this junk on my well, junk. You’ll just have to use your imagination for that one, or block out that thought completely. I have to say that it wasn’t as greasy as other anti-chafing products I’ve used, so that was a plus. Also, it didn’t stink to high hell, nor did I have to use very much of it. Although I got mine for free, the retail price of $14.99 seems to be a great deal for the amount you get. Plus, they donate 5% of the proceeds to organizations and charities that give back to cycling and the community. The guy at the meeting (I forgot his name...oops) said that for every order placed from South or North Carolina, they will donate that 5% to our local club, the Tarheel Trailblazers. Sounds like a deal, but does it work?

Well, after applying the Keister Kreme, I actually forgot it was there. That’s a good thing, because no one wants to feel like they have a ton of grease on their taint. It performed as they said it would, and I didn’t have any negative side affects from spending four hours in the saddle. When I got home that afternoon and showered, I didn’t have to scrub my coin purse with a brillo pad to remove it either.

So, should you buy it? Well, my answer is yes, unless you enjoy saddle sores and crotch rot after you ride. I used it on a long ride and didn’t even know it was working, even though it was. While there are plenty of other products that do the same job, I really liked this one mo’ better. The ingredients are all-natural, so natural in fact that it’s been said that you can eat it (I wouldn’t want to eat that though.) Head on over to SOYuRIDE and order up some all-natural butt protection. You won’t be disappointed and your “vegetables” will thank you for it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bike for the Chili Man

I mentioned some time ago that I was building a bike for my neighbor, the nearly world-famous Chili Man. Between the rain on Sunday and the much-needed recovery time from my road ride, I had time to finish his “new” bike this past weekend.

Actually, it was about 95 percent complete last Sunday. I only had to install the shifter cables, v-brake bosses, and give her the ol’ tune up to be ready to ride. Since I had a lot bike parts lying around the shop, I only had to spend about 5 bucks on the rest of the stuff I needed. After installing the front brakes and shifter cables, I set out to adjust the gears. Since I only had seven speed shifters available, the adjustment was a breeze.

I did a little test ride to make sure everything functioned properly, and I was satisfied with my mechanicin’ skills. There was one final thing to be done before I delivered the bike:

I know it might seem a little silly, but I thought I would personalize the bike for him in case he misplaced it somewhere. This bike was custom-assembled for The Chili Man, so it was only right that it bears his name. While it certainly isn’t the best bike around, it will do the job and should last a long time (since his mechanic is only a few houses away.) Plus, it’s way better than some department store bike. Well, unless you are a hipster that likes to shop at department stores. Anyway, here is the finished product:

Hand-assembled in Charlotte, NC. We don’t use robots here at B-43. They cost too much.

I rode it down the hill to The Chili Man’s house so he could see his new steed. Ironically, he had just finished making the food he promised for me. How’s that for timing? He seemed very pleased with his “new” bike, but mentioned that it is a little heavier than bike formerly known as The Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth. I told him not to worry, since he’ll benefit from any upgrades I get in the future. His reponse was comical:

“When I see you come home from the bike shop, I’ll be waiting at the door for my parts.”

He’s right though, since I’ll gladly upgrade his bike with my leftover parts. That may not happen for a while though, since I’m still in the process of building my 29er project. He’s not riding big wheels yet. Anyway, I’d like to thank Bart at Southpark Cycles for letting me dig around the parts bin to find the crap I needed to finish building the Chili Bike. He and The Chili Man go way back, so he was happy to do it.

While I didn’t receive chili for payment, I did receive a delicious meatloaf. Meatloaf? Delicious? Yes, I said it. The Chili Man’s culinary skills are second to none, and I was more than happy to accept his gift of food. He hand-delivered this giant aluminum foil covered delight to my kitchen:

That was the biggest brick of food I’ve ever seen in my life. I opened it up and Little Miss Sunshine, Lunchbox, and I tore into it.


Geez, that thing was big enough that I had second thoughts about building a bike for him. I really should have built a fleet of bikes for such a good meal. We feasted on that thing all night long. While it may not do anything for my nutritional needs at the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, it certainly filled my belly. If you haven’t already done so, check out his Facebook Page and see where you can find him. You are missing out if you don’t eat what The Chili Man is cookin’.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Roadie Action

Saturday was my chance to play roadie for a day, and I have to say that I’m pretty happy about it. Since I normally only ride on the road to help my mountain biking, it’s usually pretty boring. Saturday was different though. Yep, a nice big group ride at the 10th Annual CSC Spring Training Ride. I arrived early at Harrisburg Elementary School to register and to chat it up with the usual crew.

The tent setup might look a little familiar, since it’s the same stuff that used for all of the local races around here. Cycling Event Promoter Neal Boyd put on this event, and as always it was a good one. There was a bit of sadness in the air due to the death of Adam Little, a local cylist who was killed while riding to work a few days back. Jonathan Lowe, reporter from News 14 Carolina, was on the scene:

I got to talk to Mr. Lowe for a bit before the ride, and thanked him for coming out to our events. He's a pretty cool guy. He actually remembered me from the last cycling event he covered, the grand opening of Southwest District Park last fall. He told me how much fun he had covering that story, and also how difficult he found mountain biking to be. He got some great footage from the trail while riding on a borrowed mountain bike. This time though,he stayed on his feet while filming. Here is a link to the story:

Bicycle Ride Raises Money For Late Cyclist’s Family

After mingling with the crowd for a bit, it was time to go. I met up with my pal RJ and we talked about how we weren’t sure about doing the 55 mile distance. It would be a first for the both of us. Another friend of mine, Cathi, joined us at the start and said she would ride along. We knew it would be a good thing to have someone along who has tackled such a distance, and could show us the ways of the roadie. We had a lot to learn about road riding.

Neal made the final announcements, and then we were ready to go.

We stayed with a pretty large group for the first part of the ride, and I practiced my Tour de France skills. As hard as I tried to keep a decent pace, I often found myself shooting up to the front of the group. I would pay for this later. We stopped at the first rest stop, and I stuffed myself with PB&J and refilled my water bottles. We still had a long way to go.

By the time we arrived at the second rest stop, we had lost most of the group. The three of us were still together, and there were a few people still with us. Once again we ate and filled our water bottles.

It was time to hit the road again. Since the pace had slowed down considerably, I decided to take my chances with some on-the-bike photography:

Here’s RJ keeping pace with another rider. This guy and his friend stayed with us for most of the ride.

Cathi is all smiles, probably because she’s done these long rides before.

This one nearly caused me to crash, but I had to prove that I was there.

We kept plugging along, and surprisingly, I felt pretty good. I saw some weird shit out there in the country, but I couldn’t get my camera out in time. The funniest thing had to be the ostrich we passed that started running along side of us. I laughed so hard at the poor bird that I nearly crashed into a ditch. Too bad I didn’t get a photo of that one.

As we traveled through four different counties (Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Union, and Stanly), I started to cramp a little. We ended up on a familiar road, and I knew that the next (and last) rest stop was near. When we arrived, I was amazed at how far we were from civilization.

Yeah, that was the Reed Gold Mine, the site of the first documented gold find in the United States. There was no turning back now. Since I was cramping a little , I made sure I ate some extra food and downed some Gatorade. One guy in our group was kind enough to give me some electrolyte pills to help with the cramping. There was no way I would quit, so I wanted to do everything I could to keep going. I briefly hoped that he didn’t slip me some acid, since that would have made the last twenty miles pretty weird. Well, maybe hallucinating would have been a good thing.

Cathi decided to take off with another group at that last rest stop, so RJ and I stayed with the two guys we had been riding with. We all pushed each other along through some horribly steep climbs and super fast decents. I looked down at one point on a downhill and saw that I was hitting about 40 miles per hour. That was pretty fun. When I saw that we had about eight miles to go, I forgot all about the cramping, the back pain, and the brick of a seat I was riding on. We started picking up the pace. In the meantime though, we dropped the other two riders in our group.

When we made the final turn onto Stallings Road, we knew the end was near. We picked it up a bit and headed for the finish line. RJ and I both said, “We did it.” I guess we had something to be proud of, because that’s the furthest that either of us had even been on a ride. I couldn’t have done it without him though, that’s for sure.

That ride put me one step closer to being ready for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek this coming Saturday, although I’m still having my doubts. Mentally though, I know that I can push myself to keep going, no matter how much pain I’m in. I guess it doesn’t matter how many miles I ride, as long as I finish. I plan to do just that.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Share The Road

Tomorrow I get to play the part of a roadie for a day. In an effort to get in a shitload of miles, I’m participating in the 10th Annual CSC Spring Training Ride. The plan is to do the 55 mile option, but the course map shows the mileage as 56.8. While I’m not really prepared to do either of those distances, I sure can’t wait to try. My legs feel stronger than ever and I’ve been putting in some decent bike time, so I’m hoping for the best. Most of it will be mental for me anyway.

I’m hoping to find a nice group to settle in with, and I’d like to think that will make things easier. The last time I did a group ride, I ended up doing most of it alone because the group I started with decided to pull of at the first rest stop. I hope that I won’t need to rest, but I’ll probably just do whatever the group does this time. It really sucked riding alone in a group ride, and I enjoy following others and not thinking for myself anyway.

What is the 10th Annual CSC Spring Training Ride, you ask? Well, here is some info I jacked from the website:

The CSC Spring Training Ride is an excellent ride for cyclists of all abilities. We have three exciting routes on lightly traveled roads that will offer participants three different route lengths: 30 miles, 55 miles and 70 miles. Each route will be colored coded, VERY well marked and supported with loaded rest stops and sag support vehicles. The rest stop on the 30 mile route and the last stop on the 55 and 70 mile route will have a restroom.

After the event, stick around and enjoy food and fellowship with your riding pals. We will have tons of great food with homemade hot vegetable soup, pasta salad and other tasty post ride food.

Okay, you got me. I’m mostly doing it for the food and fellowship with my riding pals. The problem is that most of my riding pals that ride road bikes aren’t riding in the event. Instead, they will be working the SAG wagon, rest stops, and other assorted volunteer duties. Even The Dirty Party Cycle won’t be there. Instead, he’s opted for the Cooper River Bridge Run down in Charleston, SC, so who knows if I’ll get to ride with anyone I know.

My friend Neal (yes, I actually know this friend) is the promoter of this fine event, and the ride usually is a fundraiser for the Giordana-Clif Bar Cycling Team. This one is a little different though, since we had a tragedy last week in our local cycling community. Here is some text from an e-mail I received:

Also, as many of you know, we lost an active member of the cycling community last week. Adam Little was hit and killed by a car on his commute to work. Normally, the CSC Ride is used as a fundraising event for the Giordana-Clif Bar Team. But, in light of last weeks tragedy, this year the team will be donating a portion of the proceeds to the Little Family.

I didn’t know Adam personally, but I still think that sucks. Regardless, I would be more than happy to give my money to his family. So, if you’re anywhere near the Charlotte area and you have a road bike, come on out to this event. Registration opens at 8:00 a.m., and it’s only twenty bucks. You’ll have a good time for sure, and the route is filled with beautiful scenery. Besides, I heard a rumor that Dicky might be in attendance, showing off his shiny new road bike. That’s worth the price of admission right there.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mystery Package, Nutrition, and Other Nonsense

The other day I got a strange-looking package in the mail. If the Unabomber hadn’t been captured, I would’ve thought that it was from him. Granted, things roll into the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters all the time, but this was was really unexpected.

I opened the package, and there was a jar of “something” and a pamphlet chock full of information. Even after reading this informational handout, it still wasn’t ringing a bell. The jar was obviously a sample size, so I snapped a photo before I opened it.

When I order something via the Internets, I usually have a good idea of when it will show up. The name on the return address (and the pamphlet) was unfamiliar to me, so I used The Google to see what it was all about. As it turns out, the mystery package was from these people. I still didn’t recall ever talking to these people, until something right there on the home page jumped out and bit me.

While it’s not unlikely that I did indeed click there for a free sample, I sure as hell don’t remember doing it. I’ve been getting a lot of free stuff in the mail lately, so there was no need for me to be greedy. I even wondered how the hell I got to that web page. I looked around a bit, and found some information on the “free product” I received.

ISN Competition Endurance Formula

Competition has been engineered for maximum performance over the long haul. It is the perfect choice for ultra endurance events, road racing, mountain biking, swimming, or anything which requires your body to perform at its best for extended periods of time.

Well, there’s no doubt that I could use such a thing. I’ve been trying to come up with some kind of nutritional plan that doesn’t involve beer for a while now. Was this little jar the answer to my prayers? Come to think of it, I don’t remember praying either. Anyway, I guess I can try it on my next super long mega-ginormous bicycle ride, and see what they are all about. If I like it, then I’ll pony up and buy a full size jar. Maybe they only sell their products in baby jars. Who knows.

Anyway, you can be just like me and get yourself a free sample too. Just click here and try it for yourself.

Speaking of nutrition, I haven’t come up with any kind of plan for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. I mean yeah, I’ll eat a lot of food during the “race”, but I’m not exatly sure which kind of food. I was thinking about some kind of cookies and crap like that, but I stumbled across an article that had me thinking a little bit (I actually do think every once in a while.)


The fine folks at Bike Rumor are conducting an experiment for people like me who are too lazy to conduct their own experiments. At first glance the article may look like an endorsement for Hammer Nutrition, but if you read through it you may see that it’s not the case. There’s some interesting stuff in there, especially the part about how simple sugars provide only very short-term energy, followed by a dramatic plunge in energy. Flash and Crash was the term, according to our Bike Rumor scientific researcher. No wonder why I burn out shortly after eating gel shots during a race. Maybe one day I’ll try this experiment myself, but I’ll most likely wait until I hear the final review (so I can benefit from someone else’s hard work.) With the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek a little over a week away, there’s no time for me to start doing weird nutritional shit. I’ll be winging it like I always do. Flying by the seat of your pants is the only way to fly.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Something’s Fishy

I’m back in the water, and it’s strange. I had taken a break from swimming for a while, concentrating on the bike only. With a few triathlon events on the horizon though, I’ve started back with my swim-bike-run routine, in hopes that I can enter one or two (or more if my schedule permits.) This week is actually the first time I’ve been swimming in months. My first swim back at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center was a little weird, to say the least. I managed to crank out 20 laps, and it hurt like hell. I was dizzy, but I had to press on for the sake of “training.” I’m pretty sure that it won’t take long to get my sea legs back, so I’m not too worried about it. I must have built a good base before I hung it up for a while. That’s encouraging.

While I was resting after a few warm up laps, I noticed that the guy in the lane next to me was instructing a couple of young kids. They were working on flipping over at the end of the lanes, and I overheard an odd conversation:

Instructor: Breathe out and flip over. That’s all you have to do.

Little girl: I keep getting water in my nose

Instructor: That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with getting water in your nose. It’s completely normal and it won’t hurt you.

Uhhh, what? Isn’t water in your nose a bad thing? I know it doesn’t feel nice. Maybe that old wives tale about drowning in a teaspoon of water is just that…an old wives tale. This guy was a qualified swimming instructor, after all, so it wasn’t my place to ask questions. I finished my pool time and got the hell out of there before he started waterboarding me just for listening ito their conversation.

My first “confirmed” tri is the XTERRA Whitewater in July. I say confimed because it’s the one I’m itching to do most. While I may squeeze in one or two before it, the XTERRA Whitewater is a can’t miss race for me. Fellow B-43 members Mr. Shepard and Senior Oeste are coming up here from The Sunshine State to join me in the event. Mr. Shepard had ridden the trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center before on his previous trips to Charlotte, but this will be the first time that Senior Oeste had ridden a mountain bike anywhere here in NC. While he is an experienced triathlete, an off-road tri will be new to him. He has montain bike skills no doubt, but hopefully he can get up here for a pre-ride before the actual event. We’ve been trying to coerce him into a trip, but our attempts have been unsuccessful so far.

The trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center are right in my backyard so to speak, and my familiararity should give me somewhat of an advantage over the out of town competitors. With over 800 feet of elevation change, the trails are no picnic, but this will definitely make the bike leg a bit easier that the one I did last year at XTERRA Uwharrie.

Click the link below for a pretty nice video of the trails at the Whitewater Center.

USNWC Trails by Sir-Bikes-A-Lot

That’s pretty much all I have for today. My lunchtime fun rides are over for now, so now I’ll have to start hitting up the trails or the road after worky time. My next big ride is this Saturday, when I’ll be participating in the 10th Annual CSC Spring Training Ride. Yeah, it’s a road ride, but at least I’ll get some good mileage in. I plan on doing the 55 mile option, which should be a nice tune up for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek the following weekend. Maybe I’ll squeeze in a nice mountain bike ride on Sunday if my legs cooperate. I need another chance to get Awesome anyway.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pieces Of The Puzzle

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a bike parts swap meet. A couple of local guys decided to hold a huge bicycling yard sale in front of one our local shops, The Cycle Path. People from all over the area showed up to set up tables, truck beds, and even picnic blankets full of bike parts they no longer needed. I didn’t really think much about going at first, since I figured it would either be a bunch of crap, or a bunch of expensive crap. I’ve acquired most of the parts I need for the 29er build I’m working on, but I am still in need of a fork and a big wheelset. After scouring the Internets for forks, I was starting to think that I would never get one at a reasonable price. I decided to take my chances and head up there anyway.

When I arrived on the scene, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a shitload of people in the parking lot, both buyers and sellers. The prices seemed pretty reasonable, probably since most people just wanted to get rid of stuff they no longer needed. While this would translate into deal for me, most of the stuff was 26-inch wheel specific. Meh. I know, I still ride a 26 inch-wheeled bike, but I was in search of 29er parts. Maybe this whole 29er thing isn’t a fad after all.

After my initial pass-through, I headed into the shop to talk to the HMFIC of The Cycle Path, Mark. After briefly shooting the beeze with him, I suddenly started running into people I actually knew. I made my way around the sale tables again, talking to everyone I knew and also paying a little more attention to the items for sale. I found a nearly complete 29er bike for sale at one stop, and I noticed it had a nice squishy fork on it.

“Would you part it out?” I asked.

“Sure thing, what do you need?” asked the kind shopkeeper.

I asked about the fork, and he proceeded to remove it form the bike. I looked it over and found it to be in satisfactory condition, so I made the deal. He held it for me for a few minutes while I ran to the ATM for some cash money. I handed over the dough and I had a nice squishy front end for my 29er project, er build.

I know, it’s not too fancy, but it will work. Since I thought I would never find a reasonably priced fork, I thought I would end up ordering a RockShox Dart 3 for my new build. Yuck. I’m glad I was patient, because this fork is much better. It’s the Tora Air, so it’s a lot lighter than the fork on Lunchbox’s bike. I said goodbye to my cycling swap meet friends and hurried home.

After installing the Cane Creek 110 headset, I installed the fork and spacers. I put on a temporary stem to hold it place, and I was more than happy. While I’m not in a giant hurry to finish this bike, I am still pretty excited to see some progress. It sure beats having the frame and a bunch of random parts lying on the shop floor. I took some photos of my soon to be new ride:

I still have a long way to go, but at least this is a start. The only things I need now are some tires and wheels, and some brand spankin’ new shifter cables. I have some parts set aside, but there is still a little bit of a hold up on the building process. A few of the parts I need (bars, stem, and seat) are still on the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth, which is currently out on loan. It seems that The Chili Man liked riding it so much that he’s going to borrow it for a while. Cool.

Since The Chili Man is itchin’ to ride, I also decided to spend a little time on Sunday gathering up stuff to build a better bike for him. Initially I was going to take his bike and make it better, but that turned out to be a bad idea. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do for his bike, since it didn’t really have any quality parts to speak of. Sure, I could have added a few things, but it really wouldn’t have made a difference in the long run. Quality parts on a not-so quality bike just wouldn’t work. Just because you pour syrup on shit doesn’t make it pancakes. I had quite a few bike parts that were gathering dust, so I started building his “new” bike.

This should be a pretty nice bike for him, and hopefully he will enjoy riding it. It’s not the best, but it’s the best I could do with spare parts. I still have a few minor things left to do before it hits the trail, but that shouldn’t take much time or effort. Maybe I will have it completed just in time for the next schedule Kids Ride. I probably should hurry up though, because The Chili Man informed me that I am being rewarded for my efforts with some of his culinary delights. Hell, I’ll build him a bike every week for that kind of reward.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It’s Monday And I Need Some Coffee.

I don't really drink coffee that much, but Paul does.

Yesterday was supposed to be ride number two this year for the Tarheel Trailblazers Kids Ride. I woke up Sunday morning, headed to the store to pick up cookies and drinks for the kids, and went back home to pack up our stuff. I loaded up the bikes for Lunchbox and I, Little Miss Sunshine’s bike, and the bike formerly known as the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth. Wait, that’s three of us. So, why did I have a fourth bike? Well, after months of pestering, I finally convinced my neighbor, The Chili Man and his son to join us on the rides. I offered to let him borrow my “spare” bike, and after a short test ride the day before, he was hooked.

He immediately noticed the difference between a department store bike, and a “quality” bike, just from one ride. I tried to tell him that the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth was actually a piece of shit, but he wasn’t having it. I guess he’s ridden some really bad bicycles in his day.

After getting all of our crap ready to go, we were just about to leave for Colonel Francis Beatty Park down near Matthews, NC, when the rain started to fall. At the same time, I got a message from one of my friends on that end of town that said it was raining down there too. At that point I made the call to cancel the ride, posting the info on the Tarheel Trailblazers site. Just as I finished, I saw the Chili Man about to head up the road to meet us. We stopped him and gave him the news.

I felt like this was somehow my fault, although I have no control over the weather (that’s too bad.) I was excited about the kids ride, and even more happy that my neighbors were finally getting a chance to join us. They were okay with it though, I guess. After the rain stopped they decided to head out for a neighborhood ride, with Lunchbox joining them. I stayed in the garage, sulking (and doing other stuff that I’ll talk about tomorrow I guess.) I really like the kids rides as much as the kids do, so hopefully the next one will happen. I also hope that The Chili Man can join us next time, since he is a pretty wacky guy, and very entertaining. That should make the kids rides even more fun.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that his real name is Jackie Moon.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Stayin’ Awesome

While this is the last part of my review of the Awesome Strap, it’s probably not the last time I’ll talk about it. I did a little more riding since my initial ride the other day. And guess what? I had the same great results.

I headed out to the U.S. National Whitewater Center to get in some good tough mileage (for this area anyway) with my Awesome Strap in tow. Since I don’t keep it on my seatpost all the time, I got a chance to see how easy it would be to screw up the installation again. Again, no problem. I attached the Awesome Strap to the seatpost and didn’t look back. I headed out on the trail, again hitting every root, jump, and bump as best I could.

After riding the first lap (around 11 miles), I checked to see if I had lost anything. This time, I had so much faith in the thing that I didn’t even think about it being on there. And guess what? Everything was tip top.

Yes my friends, it truly is an Awesome Strap. I won’t hesitate to use this thing on every ride from now on. I had no problems whatsoever, so I think I’ll be very comfortable using this during my next race, the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. Do yourself a favor and go buy yourself one of these Awesome Straps. Or better yet, buy two. Just don’t tell them I sent you, since they will probably make fun of you for being associated with someone such as myself. Thanks again to Dicky for putting me on the path to awesomeness.

Speaking of the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, I guess I can say I am as ready as I can be. I’ve actually been riding every day, which is new to me. I can usually only get out on the trail on the weekends, but I have been fortunate to be able to get in some lunchtime singletrack action. While it has done wonders for my skill level, I don’t know if I am truly ready to ride for a whole six hours. This will be a first for me, so I am approaching it more like a steadily-paced ride. Survival, if you will. I’ll stop whenever the hell I want to, but I plan to keep going until my legs fall off or the race ends. Whichever comes first I guess. If I were a betting man I would pick the former.

I don’t have a “race” strategy, per se, but I do have a few ideas. Since this is only my second endurance race, I’ll be winging it for sure. While there are several of my local friends in the race, I don’t think I’ll actually be competing with them. Maybe I’ll bring the camera along and photograph the people I know as they pass me by. One thing I’ve considered is wearing some sort of music playing device. I will need something to keep my mind from wandering, as I have been known to hallucinate and talk to myself on long rides. Is that normal?

Other than the music, I guess I’ll come up with some kind of “feeding schedule” during the race. For as much as I weigh (225 as of today), I’ll need to take in a lot of calories each lap. Since I won’t be wearing any sort of back sack, I’ll be hitting the drive-thru area of my pit and taking some food to go. Little Miss Sunshine has been gracious enough to offer to be my pit crew for the event, which should save my ass. She has been known to take great care of me, and I know I’ll need it.

As for this weekend, I don’t know what’s in store yet. I’m on call for work, so things could get pretty shitty for me. Maybe I’ll use that time to give my legs a break from all the riding I’ve been doing. I really should spend that time coming up with a plan for Warrior Creek so I don’t die. One thing’s for sure, I won’t have to worry about carrying around that damn noisy seat sack anymore.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Well, Is It Really Awesome?

Well, as awesome as the Awesome Strap might look, it has to perform on the trail. Next would come the true test. I decided to ride one of our local trails, one that has plenty of roots, rocks, and bumpy shit to see if I could lose some junk outta my Awesome Strap. I don’t really want to lose my junk, mind you, but I needed to make sure I could trust a strap that calls itself awesome.

I headed out to my usual lunchtime riding spot, North Meck, and got ready for the test. This place is the rootiest trail I can get to for now, so it would have to do. That being said, there are plenty of bumps, jumps, and rooty goodness to put this Awesome thing through the works. No, it’s not some epic ride or anything, but it is just rough enough to jar the shit loose from the Awesome Strap (if that is at all possible.)

I hit the trail at full speed, making sure to touch every root in my path. I jumped every jump, and tried to bunny-hop a few squirells for good measure. I even clipped my elbow on a tree at high speed just to make sure I covered everything. During that first lap, I resisted the urge to stop and check to see if the Awesome Strap was holding everything in place, although I did give it a reach around once. It was pretty happy about that (I think I heard a squeal.)

When I finished the first lap, I stopped to check the status of my new bundle of joy.

Still tight as a shark’s ass.

I’m happy to report that the first test lap was a success. None of my stuff moved at all inside the Awesome Strap. As a matter of fact, the Awesome Strap didn’t change positions on my seatpost either. While I was riding, I hardly even knew it was there. The thing I noticed most was that my legs didn’t rub on it at all (I’m a Clydesdale, so my legs aren’t toothpicks ya know.) I also didn’t hear the all too familiar sound of my seat sack rattling around underneath me. This was a good thing.

I headed back out on the trail to do a little more “testing”, and I had the same results. Like I said before, this was no epic ride (only 3.5 miles per lap). This was a “controlled” environment for testing, since I could easily retrieve my lost items if the Awesome Strap failed to be awesome. Since the fine folks at Backcountry Research aren’t paying me to write this review (who the hell would?), I was trying to be as objective as possible. While they did give me free product, I still gave it a thorough evaluation. It wasn't love at first sight by any means (although it did look pretty cool, er awesome), and I was apprehensive about giving it a thumbs up just for the sake of getting in their good graces. More testing is in order though, even though I’m pretty sure that I will have the same successful results. Tune in tomorrow as I hit yet another local trail in a hopeless attempt to be awesome.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Time To Get Awesome

I obviously can’t get awesome all by myself, so I needed some help. Let me explain.

My “friend” over at Bad Idea Racing has been using the Awesome Strap for a while now, so I thought I would try it. Why did I put the word “friend” in quotes? Well, I guess I don’t know him well enough to call him a friend. Sure, I’ve talked to him a few times (I’m sure he doesn’t remember), but that’s about it. While I do read his blog from time to time, I guess I am just a fan at this point. Besides, he’s way too famous to be my actual friend. Plus, I still ride small wheels (for now) and use gears so that’s probably a no-no as far as being pals with Dicky. Hell, I can’t even approach him to get an autograph on my copies of Dirt Rag. I’m just too starstruck I guess. For some reason I fell under the spell of his Awesome Strap review and decided to order one. So, let’s get back to my awesomeness.

At first, I hesitated ordering the Awesome Strap, since I have plenty of velcro straps in the shop that I thought would do the trick. I never tried them though, and I can blame that on laziness. I decided to let someone else do the work for me, and I’m sure I’ll be better off for it. However, I carry a lot of shit in my seat bag, and I wondered if the Awesome Strap could hold it all.

I decided that it was time to try something new. Besides Dicky’s review, I had several reasons for wanting to ditch the seat sack:

I was getting tired of replacing them all the time, since they seemed to wear out fairly quickly. Most notably would be the holes that opened up, causing me to lose the contents all over the place.

They rattle around, making weirdo noises (I make enough weirdo noises when I ride), so I was growing tired of having one strapped to my seatpost and hearing that shit all of the time.

I no longer wear a backpack when I ride, unless it’s while performing Bike Patrol duties (I carry a ton of first aid crap.) So, I couldn’t transfer the seat sack contents to a back sack for normal everyday riding and races.

I finally broke down and ordered the Back Forty, figuring that it would be sufficient for my needs. It was only $10.95, and they offered free shipping. What a deal. It showed up after a couple of days and I was pretty excited. I was even more excited when I opened the package:

Yep, not one, but two Awesome Straps. Was there some kind of shipping mistake? Had these guys heard about how inept of a racer and mechanic I am and decided to send me two because they knew I would break one trying to install it? My questions were answered with a handwritten note on the order form:

Wow, I got a bonus Awesome Strap for knowing someone I hardly even know. How about that? More importantly, who else is watching? I know the government is always watching, but now I have other people checking up on me as well. Big thanks to the folks at Backcountry Research for hooking me up. And also I’d like to thank my internet friend and new hero Dicky for helping me get on the path to awesomeness. Now I owe him I guess.

It was time to get down to business. After I watched the instructional video on their website, I was ready to begin. I emptied the contents of my seat sack and prepared to get awesome.

Seat bag contents: 3 CO2 cartidges (one in the inflator), two tire levers, Crank Brothers multi-tool, tube, spare derailleur hanger (I’ve broken a few on local rides), SRAM master link, and some tie-wraps. Geez, that’s a lot of shit to carry.

I starting loading up the Awesome Strap, and I really didn’t have any issues cramming all of my crap in there. I grabbed my new little bundle of joy and had it pose for a photo:

The only thing I didn’t try to squeeze in there was a manual Kenda pump I got a few years ago at a race at Sugar Mountain. I started carrying the pump with me all the time after a CO2 mishap at the Tree Shaker last October, but it fits nicely in my jersey pocket. It’s old and beat up, but I still love it and it does the job. Hell, maybe I should cram my water bottle in there too while I’m at it.

I went outside and proceeded to strap some awesomeness to my seatpost:

It was tight like a tiger

The only thing left to do was to take it for a ride. While the Awesome Strap may indeed look awesome, it had to perform on the trail. I can’t have my shit falling all over the place like some kind of trailside yard sale and still be awesome, can I? Tune in tomorrow to see the results of a potentially awesome test ride. You know you want to.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not Talkin’ Bout Motorcycles

Yesterday's post was it. No more (unless I sell it of course.) I did do a bit more spring cleaning on Saturday than I told you yesterday though. I actually got to play mechanic on some of the bikes in the B-43 fleet. Since I couldn’t go ride, this was the next best thing. Wrenching on bikes is a great stress reliever, so I was glad to have things to do.

First, was the one and only Tigger, Little Miss Sunshine’s bike. She took it for a spin after work the other day at North Meck, and she had a great time. However, when she got home she told me that there was a “customer bike” in the shop. She proceeded to tell me that there were some shifting issues, and that it should be looked at immediately. Payment would be worked out later (I’m thinking banana pudding.)

After throwing it up on the stand, I looked it over. Was this an issue that was caused by my ineptitude? Nope, it was just your run of the mill cable stretch, which is common on bikes after they have been ridden a while. I made a few adjustments on the rear derailleur, and it was smooth shifting again. Even though it only took me mere seconds to diagnose and fix the problem (yeah, I’m that good), it will still cost her. Why, just yesterday I saw the ingredients for some good ole’ banana puddin’ in the kitchen, and she was mixing it up. She finished it just in time for us to have it for dessert last night. Mmmm, good.

Next up was my one true bike love, Goose. After riding so much lately I think I may have decided on a proper steerer tube length for my fork. No more jacked to the max, or giant stack o’ doom for me. I had placed the headset spacers in different configurations, so I at least knew the shortest length I could get away with.

You see, that shit on the top of the stem just looked too ridiculous. It had to go.

I removed the stem, marked the steerer tube, and grabbed the pipe cutter. It was time to say goodbye to the stock length, and say hello to a normal looking stack.

After I lined it up, I started cutting.

I cut it perfectly the first time (I told y’all I’m that good), and grabbed the file to smooth the rough edges. After that, I decided I would try a little bit lower stack height, and I swapped out the spacers accordingly. Yes I know I just cut it, but remember that I said that it was the shortest length I wanted. Now I am free to try lower positions with the option of going back to the height I initially desired. You can’t uncut it, after all.

It’s not much lower than what I had been riding, but little adjustments like that can make a big difference. I hope to get in plenty of rides between now and the start of the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek next month. If I like it where it is, then I will cut it again. If not, I’ll remove the top spacers and put everything underneath the stem. It’s not rocket science, after all.

After the fork business was done, I gave Goose a well-deserved bath, making sure to get the grit and grime out of every nook and cranny. I washed it after the one race I did on it in the 2010 Winter Short Track Series, but I have to confess that I wasn’t that thorough. The one race we had in the snow was muddy, so I knew I needed to really give it a good cleaning.

I had this really annoying sound from my bottom bracket, and I just knew that it had some dirt in there. I removed the cranks and cleaned out the bottom bracket shell and bearing with a clean rag. Honestly, I’d been meaning to do this for a while now, but the beating my bike took in the Winter Short Track Series was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I regreased everything and put it back together, and I was very happy that no permanent damage was done. After a quick once-over on the drivetrain (and making a few adjustments here and there), good ol’ Goose was as good as new. Now at least my bike will be ready for the six hour sufferfest I’m doing next month. All I have to do is get in a few more rides to decide on a final stack height on the stem, and I’m set.

Since all of the local trails were soaking wet, I knew I wouldn’t get out at all until early in the work week. I still needed some mileage though, so I grabbed the road bike on Sunday for some climbing and car-dodging fun. It wasn’t that fun, mind you, but at least I got to ride. I learned that day that the road bike is good for getting some quality miles, but there is no way I could give up the mountain bike. I also learned that a good day on the road bike is not better than a bad day on the mountain bike. There is no substitute for good old fashioned singletrack fun. I am in no danger of becoming a full time roadie, that’s for sure.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Cleaning

If you read the title of today’s post, you would probably assume that I didn’t make it to the Kerr Scott Trail System this past weekend. Well, you would be correct. After checking the weather report several times a day up until Saturday, the forecast was less than promising. Sure, I knew the weather here wasn’t great, but I was hoping that the rain would miss that area (or at least they would only get a small amount). That turned out not to be the case. I didn’t think that it would be a very good idea to make the trip from Charlotte to Wilkesboro and take a chance on riding in shitty conditions. I’m not sure if the trails actually “close” up there, but I didn’t want to make the hour and a half drive to find out. With my out of town off-road adventure pland thwarted, I chose to head out to the B-43 shop to do a little cleaning.

First, I decided to do something I had been putting off for a long time. Let me elaborate. You see, I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was pretty young. Friends, family, and even strangers would let me ride their two-wheeled machines, and I developed a love for a motor on two wheels. When Lunchbox was still in diapers, I bought myself one of those fancy crotch-rockets, and I rode the shit out of it. Many years later when I met Little Miss Sunshine, I found that she too liked to ride a steel horse on the open road.

We rode together a lot at first, but my love of pedaling eventually took over again. I became less interested in the hassle of motorcycle maintenance, and more concerned with hitting the trails on a less-complicated steed. So, a little less than a year ago I decided to sell my beloved Yamaha FZ-750. Although I never regretted it, I did miss it from time to time. Little Miss Sunshine also lost the love for riding motorcycles, and her trusty steed remained parked in the garage for nearly three years. Sure, I road it from time, but there was no use in keeping something that we really didn’t use.

With that, we decided that it was time to sell it. At first I resisted, thinking that I would ride it every once in a while (enough to justify keeping it I thought.) I tuned it up about six months ago, and took it for a spin around the block. After that, it sat around, unused again. We decided that enough was enough, and that it should be put up for sale. I brought it out of the garage on Saturday morning, and I took it for one last ride. I headed out on a nice windy country road, and I have to say that I really did enjoy it. However, this time it wasn’t enough to make me want to keep it. I would rather pedal one of my many bikes than let a machine do all the work for me. So with that, I parked it in the driveway and decided that I would no longer be a motorcycle rider.

I grabbed some cleaning supplies and got to work. I wanted to get it nice and shiny so I coulod take some photos. There would be no turning back this time. Every time I thought about how much fun it was to ride a motorcycle, I quickly realized that the love was finally gone. No more leather jackets, helmets, or twisting the throttle on an old country road. My two-wheeled adventures would be on a human-powered bike from now on. After I got it all cleaned up, I snapped a few photos:

Yes my friends, it will be put up for sale now. I’ll probably stick it on Craigslist for now and see what kind of interest we get. It is a 2005 Yamaha V-Star Custom, with only 5,561 miles. Yes, that is the real mileage. Most of those miles were accumulated in Florida, with only about 200 put on it here in North Carolina. Am I offering it up to you, my dear readers? Well, yeah, if you want it. That wasn’t really the reason for the blog post today though. I was just sharing my thoughts like I always do, but if you want to buy this beast, you can just shoot me an e-mail. It’s going up on Craigslist later today.

What else did I do this weekend? Well, I guess I’ll save that for tomorrow. I can tell you everything on the first day of the week. What the hell would I write about otherwise? See y’all tomorrow.