Friday, April 30, 2010

Facing Forward

There is no reason to look backwards to my shitty race on Wednesday, so I’ll just look ahead. This weekend is shaping up to be a pretty good one. I would love nothing more than to immerse myself in the “bike scene” for the next two days, and it looks like I might get my wish. If I was wishing for a nice relaxing weekend though, then that one probably won’t come true.

If all goes well, I’ll be heading out to the U.S. National Whitewater Center after work today for some quality time on The Big O. I’m hoping to “ride ‘till I puke”, which just might be the case if the MadSS joins me there. Hooray! On second thought, maybe I’ll just take the mountain Uni out to Sherman for a different kind of fun. Either way, I’m in for some pain.

Tomorrow morning, we’re heading down to the Dilworth Criterium to watch a little roadie action. I know, I know, it’s roadie action, but it will be pretty cool. A criterium is a pretty neat thing to watch, since they do multiple laps on a short course. Plus, they haul ass, so that could make for some interesting crashes and close-calls. Check out the website for more info, and come on out too. I even heard that the good people from DeFeet International will be there. Come down and get some cool socks while you watch some super-fast roadie action. Damn, that sounded weird.

Sunday should be fun as well. It is the next scheduled Tarheel Trailblazers Kids Ride, but we’re changing it up a bit. This week’s ride was supposed to be at Sherman Branch, but we’ve decided to move it. There is already a club function at Fisher Farm park in Davidson, so we are combining the two. If the weather cooperates, then this will be a fun, fun time. Check out the website for more details, and come on out if you live around here.

I know, it’s not that exciting around here today, but deal with it. My weekend should be packed full of cycling goodness, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long time. In fact, from now on there will be plenty of bike stuff going on, and I couldn’t be happier. Don’t forget, the 6 Hour Grind On The Greenway is coming up next weekend too. Will I survive it all? Tune in to find out.

Before I get out of here, I thought I would let a little of my inner bike geek come out for a minute. I really dig all of the technical crap that goes along with bicycling, so I thought I would share a video with y’all. My buddy Jason from Cane Creek Cycling Components stars in a nice video presentation about Cane Creek headsets. Check it:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Easy Pedaling

Do I even need to tell the story of last night’s kickoff of the 2010 Charlotte Mountain Bike Summer Series? Of course I do. This is a blog about bicycling you know. What the hell else am I supposed to talk about? Well, it does say nonsensical crap up there in the blog header, but I’ll save that for another day.

When I left work yesterday, I was reminded about how much I hate travelling to each of these races. While I do enjoy being able to ride my bike “competitively” during the week, getting there is actually most of the battle. The after-work traffic around here sucks, and last night it sucked the big one for sure. I arrived at Colonel Francis Beatty Park with only about twenty-five minutes to register, warm up, and get to the start line. Only two of these three tasks would be accomplished.

After I registered Lunchbox and I for our races, we had to change into our riding gear. Once we were finished, I saw that we only had about 10 minutes to get to the start line (about a mile away.) I told Lunchbox that would be our warm-up, so we high-tailed it to the old dam/Gravity Cavity (where we had so much fun on the last Kid’s Ride.) When we arrived at the start, I was amazed at how many race participants we had. In my class alone, there were thirty-six, and Lunchbox had nine in his. I tried to avoid the usual pre-race chit-chat, as I had my electronic music listening device playing “motivational” music to help me along during my laps. I’ve never ridden an event with music before (I forgot to use it at the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, although I did use it on the last visit there.) I did talk to a few of my fellow racers though, and I gave Lunchbox a little encouragement before his race too. This was gonna be fun, or so I thought.

When it was time for my group to go, I was somewhere in the middle of the pack. Since I didn’t really get in a proper warm-up, I had trouble even fighting for position. I know it’s the first race of the series, but I expected to be a little faster. I way overestimated my ability for sure. Once I got going, I realized that I was still somewhat in the middle of the pack. It wasn’t a fast pace at all though. In fact, I kept running up on the wheels of the guy in front of me, while the guy behind me kept trying to get by. I wasn’t about to let him pass, because I would have just had to run up on him too.

Eventually, we started to spread out. It was at that moment that my lack of a warm-up really got me. I had an almost unbearable pain in my stomach, like someone hat punched me with an iron fist. I found it hard to accelerate at all, but at least The Big O kept up my momentum when I did get going. I hadn’t even made it halfway through the first lap when I started wondering if I could even finish the race. Weird.

Before we even crossed the finish line the first time (my race was supposed to cross it three times), I saw the MadSS down and out on the trail. I asked him if he was okay, and he responded with, “I got a flat.” While I felt bad for him, I figured at least I would stay out of last place now. I hadn’t planned on beating him, so this was a surprise. All I had to do was finish now. I tried to keep the best pace I could, but people started flying by me like I was standing still. That really started to frustrate me, but I hung in there hoping that the pain would go away.

All the way through the first lap, I kept getting passed by people in my class. I had decided that I would just pace myself until the stomach pain went away, and then I would turn it up and hopefully catch up to some of those guys. I’m a lot faster these days (especially on big wheels), but I guess my body wasn’t quite ready for this style of racing.

The music was a big help, by the way. The pain eventually subsided, and I started picking up the pace a bit. I passed the finish line for the second time, and tried to dig in for my last lap. I used the momentum generated by the 29-inch wheels of The Big O to help me along, and made sure I didn’t get passed again. I would go down fighting to stay out of last place if I had to. About two miles into the second lap, yet another rider in my class attempted to get by me. I wasn’t having it this time though. I gave it all I had, and started slowly pulling away from him. He eventually caught up on one of the climbs, but a mistake on the next downhill section would prove to be costly. As we were descending, he tried to overtake me and instead became intimately acquainted with a large tree. The horrific-sounding crash made me look back to see if he was okay, and I was happy to see that he had hopped right up (only to quickly kneel down again.) As I rounded the top of the next climb, I saw him back on the bike and back in the race. I would never see him again though.

I felt better as the second lap went on, probably because I had finally started warming up. I didn’t see anyone else for a while, aside from one unleashed dog that nearly took me out of the race. After a few choice words to the dog’s owner, I sped up again. At this point I heard someone coming up quickly behind me, and I heard him say, “Get some!” “Holy shit,” I said as I looked back. It was the MadSS. I asked, “Did you fix your tire?” He said, “Nope, I just grabbed my spare bike.” And then just like that he blew by me. Oh yeah, I tried to keep up, but it wasn’t happening. That was demoralizing, to say the least. He had a flat tire, was able to go grab his spare bike, get back in the race, and blow by me before the race ended. I gotta ride with that guy a lot more. Shit.

Anywho, I didn’t have much further to go at that point when another guy in my class came up on my rear wheel. I snapped out of my haze, and stepped on it. I had been mostly riding alone (aside from getting blasted by the MadSS), so this was a little unexpected. I didn’t know where I stood in the race, but I knew I wouldn’t finish last if I kept this guy at bay. I gained some good ground on him during a long windy downhill section (thanks to my bigger wheels again), and muscled through the climbs. No more pain at this point, but I still had some hard work ahead. When I hit the very last section of singletrack, I knew I was home free. I gave it my last bit of fight and crossed the finish line, ahead of my unknown challenger. I wound up 32nd out of 36 riders. Shitty, but not last place. Hmmph.

Lunchbox finished ahead of me, and I was very happy about that. I thought for sure I would lap him, since I did two laps and he only had to do one. His race experience was similar to mine, aside from a small mishap where he crashed a little and hurt his ankle. He would recover, thankfully.

No race photos, unfortunately, as my usual photographer Lunchbox was obviously too busy to work the camera. Hopefully my shitty blogging skills have sufficed for today. The first race was definitely a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series (even though it will probably be just as rough.) Maybe I’ll just go back to drinking beer instead. It’s much easier.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ready Or Not, Here Comes the Summer Series

I know, it’s still spring, but the 2010 Charlotte Mountain Bike Summer Series kicks off tonight at Colonel Francis Beatty Park. This one really snuck up on me too. Although I’ve done a few races already this “season”, I’m nowhere near being ready. I have a new bike, The Big O, which should fare well in this cross country race format, but I’m still not totally used to this fine machine.

Don’t get me started on my “fitness” either. I haven’t really done enough cross country riding to make me even remotely ready for the grueling sixteen race series. So much for a training plan, huh? Well, if drinking lots of beer and watching the NBA playoffs is considered training, then I’ll take the podium every race. That’s not likely though, so it looks like I’ll be suffering in the back of the pack, which has been customary for the past two seasons. Sure, I’ll eventually get better as the series wears on, but so will everyone else. Oh yeah, did I mention that we pay for this kind of fun too?

After squeaking out a top ten overall finish in last year’s series, I felt it’s time to move up to the Sport class. That and I pretty much have to since I’ve been racing in the Beginner Men’s class for two seasons. I have the skills no doubt, but can I handle the extra distance? Who knows, but at least I might die trying.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, because I actually like racing in the summer races each week. I enjoy the social aspect as much as the competitive part; probably more actually. There’s a good group of people out there at these events, and it is a great thing for our local cycling community here in Charlotte. I just wish I had more time to train. Well, I would probably waste that extra time, but whatever. At least I’ll be Awesome this time around. If you come out to the races looking for me, I’ll be bringing up the rear of my class sporting some sweet apparel and shiny bike bits from Cane Creek Cycling Components.

Wish me luck.

“Good luck kid, you’re gonna need it.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Somebody Loves Me

A wise man once told me that it was better to (not) know people. I now understand what he meant with the latest round of bicycle love I received. My friend Jason at Cane Creek Cycling Components recently took a little trip to Pittsburgh, PA to visit the crew at Dirt Rag Magazine. I was hoping that he would score some schwag, like a few stickers or something. I really didn’t expect anything, especially since I already get goodies from the fine folks at Cane Creek. A few days later, I got a message from him that he got me something, and that our mutual friend AJ (my neighbor) would be hand-delivering it to me.

Yesterday, while I was out riding The Big O up and down the street, AJ pulled up like some pervert and told me he had something in the trunk for me. Although I was slightly suspicious, I followed him to his house. He didn’t have a trunk full of candy or puppies, but he did have some cool shit for me.

Where should I put this?

Cool socks for me, free advertising for them. What a great deal for us both.

The last thing he pulled out of the truck really surprised me. It was an official Dirt Rag 20th Anniversary Jersey. Wow. This was totally unexpected, and I was super excited. Check it:

Now, here’s the coolest part. Although I was already happy to have such a fine work of art, there was a surprise on the front. It was autographed on the front by the entire staff at Dirt Rag.

Where’s the love? Well, I’ll show ya. Check out the close up:

In case you were wondering, Chris is my government name.

With all the cool shit that flows into the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters, this is one of the coolest. I don’t even know the folks at Dirt Rag, even though I am a subscriber. Do they love all of their subscribers like this? Do they read this pathetic blog? I doubt it, but if they did they would probably want their jersey back. I wouldn’t blame them.

Anyway, big thanks to my pal Jason at Cane Creek Cycling Components for taking care of me yet again (this time with another company’s wares.) Also, huge thanks to Maurice and his crew for writing on a jersey for me. Since they all took the time to sign their names on it, there’s no way I could wear it during a race. Maybe I’ll wear it once and pose for a sexy photograph for them. I don’t think they have a “Sexy Yet Pathetic Mountain Bike Racer” section in their magazine though. It still might be worth a shot. So, what should I do with it? Little Miss Sunshine said I should ride in it once, take some photographs, and then hang it on the wall all stinky and nasty. That would make the B-43 shop smell real nice, huh?

Since the folks at Dirt Rag were so cool to me, I want y’all to be cool to them and head on over to their website and become a subscriber (if you’re not already.) If you are, then buy some stuff from them. Maybe they will love you too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

No Big Deal

I thought for sure this past weekend would be full of mountain biking adventures aplenty. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I had some mechanicin’ to do, but nothing really exciting. With the Charlotte Mountain Bike Summer Series starting in two days, I needed to make sure the fleet was ready. Several test rides on The Big O has left me satisfied that it will work perfectly for the short cross country races on our local trails here. I took a neighborhood test ride just be sure, and I didn’t need to make any adjustments. Lunchbox’s bike (Clark) however, was in need of a little work. He does a few of the races in the series, so I had to make sure his machine was ready to go.

Since I retired the Greatest Short Track Bike on Earth in favor of the Big O, I was left with a set of Kenda Small Block 8 tires. I guess he’s heard about how fast they roll on the trails around here, so he wanted in on the action. I removed his knobbier, Nevegal tires and replaced them:

After a few other adjustments on the brakes, shifters, etc., he was ready to go. While he is no speed demon on the race course, he will surely appreciate his new tire setup. I guess we’ll find out this Wednesday at Colonel Francis Beatty Park, the first stop of the series. Me on the other hand, I guess I’m as ready as I can be. I was hoping to get out for a “race lap” over the weekend, but that never happened. Thank you, oh lovely weather.

Since it rained quite a bit on Saturday, there was no chance in hell that I would get to ride a trail. I ad to do something though, so Little Miss Sunshine suggested we take the road bikes out. She had originally planned to go ride with a friend of hers, but that person bailed on her. It looks like she was stuck riding with me. We had a good ride though (for a road ride anyway), and I felt pretty good. While we didn’t break any long distance records with that ride, it was good to get out. The imminent threat of rain kept us from doing a really long ride, but she seemed happy to be out on the new road machine.

Since there were no mountain biking adventures this weekend, I guess that leaves me with little else to talk about. I did get to a party for one of the children of the MadSS and it was cool to hang out over there. We got to talk bikes, racing, and homebrew. It was a great time. Thanks to the MadSS and the Mrs. for having us over. Also,I have some really cool shit to share with y’all tomorrow. I can give you a hint that it has to do with me getting some more love from some biking industry types, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the full scoop. I’m pretty stoked about it, cause it’s so rad (yeah, I grew up in the 80’s.)

In the meantime, check out this video I found. Apparently, there are some B-43 impostors out there in the world of The Internets, and they think they have some skills. I'd like to say that this is a tribute video to us, but I doubt it. I have no idea who they are, but this shit made me laugh quite a bit. Enjoy.

B-43 Impostors

Friday, April 23, 2010

What About The Kids?

Good question I guess. Since I missed two days on here this week, I somehow forgot to squeeze in my report of the Tarheel Trailblazers Kids Ride last Sunday afternoon. I know, I was too busy talking about my visit to Defeet and my trip to Warrior Creek. No worries though; there’s no way I could forget about the kids.

Lunchbox and I headed down to Colonel Francis Beatty Park to get this thing started on what was one of the most beautiful days I’ve seen around here in a long time. Since the Kids Rides are just starting back up again after a long winter, I didn’t really expect a huge turnout. Once everyone arrived though, we had a pretty decent-sized group. Heck, even local wheelie legend/grill master Benson showed up with his doggie, Black. Everyone posed for the obligatory group shot.

We had kids of all sizes, ages, and abilities. We even had one little boy who had just gotten his first mountain bike that very morning. I was excited for him. After a short chat with everyone, we headed out on the trail. Lunchbox lead the way, and showed the little ones how it was done. The kids were all smiles:

Benson gave everyone a clinic on how to ride the trail with a leashed dog:

After winding through the singletrack, we stopped at everyone’s favorite: Beatty’s own Gravity Cavity. The kids (and the adults) practiced their jumping skills for a while:

We hit the trail again, and headed for the next trail feature. This one would be the little log skinny. I didn’t think the kids would find this one too interesting, but I was wrong. In fact, they circled around the trail to hit it over and over again. This gave me (and Lunchbox) the opportunity to take some photos:

Even I got in on the action:

Benson impressed us all with a wheelie on it:

We continued on the trail, stopping at the little rock garden so we could practice yet another skill:

All of this fun would not come without a price. One of our little daredevils got a bit too ambitious when he tried to do another skinny, and took a small tumble. Luckily though, our local chapter of the National Mountain Bike Patrol (just me in this case) was on hand to patch him up. Before I patched him up though, his uncle suggested we take a photo so he would remember it:

The little guy was okay, and he eventually was able to continue. All it took was a little bribe of cookies, chips, and Gatorade to keep him going. We all made it to the end, and enjoyed some snacks at the picnic area:

The kids had a great time, and so did I. I really love doing these rides, and I hope that we can continue this for a long time. I may have said it before, but I would give up the racing and all the other riding I do just for these if I had to. If you are local to the Charlotte area and want to come and and help (or bring some more youngins), let me know. If you haven’t been out on a mountain bike ride with kids, then you’re missing out on all the fun. Having fun is the reason we all should be riding.

With the weekend coming up, I have no definite plans (surprise.) I hope to get out on a ride of course, but nothing is set in stone. With the Charlotte Mountain Bike Summer Series and the 6 Hour Grind On The Greenway coming up soon, I’ll need all the saddle time I can get. Maybe I should just stick to the kids rides., because at least there’s no suffering for me there. Well, maybe I have a thing for suffering. Fun and suffering seem to go hand in hand for me on a bike. See y’all Monday.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Warrior Creek – Reloaded

Just like my tour through the building of DeFeet International’s headquarters, I’ll be working backwards through my adventures from the last few days. On Monday, I had the pleasure of returning to the Kerr Scott Trail System, to take another crack at the trail I rode in the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek “race.” This time though, I had a new weapon: my new 29er, The Big O. Armed with that and my camera, I decided to try to do a little trail review.

I left the B-43 Worldwide headquarters bright and early, just after Lunchbox headed off to school. This was a solo mission, and a much-needed “alone” ride. I was looking forward to experiencing the trails without the pressures of a “race” and also to see if in fact a 29er would make a difference on those super-fun trails. I arrived on site and got ready to go.

I did a slow warm-up through the parking lot, and hit the trail at full speed. I planned on riding normally, but stopping along the way to photo-document the crazy shit I saw during the race. My first stop came up a little quicker than expected:

Yup, this is the famous bathroom where I made a pit stop on my third lap. Do you remember that? Well, since it was such a long drive to get there, I decided to stop in again. This time though, the toilet worked fine. That’s good, because I didn’t think to cram a plunger in my Awesome Strap for trailside plumbing.

After my quick pit stop, I continued down the trail. Even though I spent six hours riding it the last time, there were still parts of the trail that seemed unfamiliar. I was familiar enough though, to fly through the trails at crazy speeds. My new big wheels were fast indeed. So fast in fact, that I felt like I was moving a little quicker down the trail than I wanted to. Maybe it was because I wasn’t used to clown wheels, but I grabbed a handful of brake on more than one occasion.

Up ahead, I saw one of the many trailside decorations that puzzled me throughout the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek. This time though, I snapped a photo with ye old camera:

I’m not sure of the signifigance of that particular rock, but it was indeed entertaining. I continued on again, hitting the tight, twisty singletrack at a high rate of speed. After a few quick bermed turns, I saw the bridge that nearly threw me off the trail on my last adventure out there:

I know, it doesn’t look crazy or anything, but I was making dumb mistakes the first time out, and I had my bike flailing all over the trail like an epileptic chicken. No close calls this time though. After that photo I continued on to the funniest trailside d├ęcor, the bar:

It was at this point that the only other rider I saw that day passed me by. He asked if I was okay, and I simply said, “Yup.” I had no time to explain that I am a nearly world-famous bicycling blogger and I was there for a story of epic proportions. Off I went again.

The next notable part of the trail was when it opened up to a field. After spending a considerable amount of time in the woods, it’s kinda cool to ride a little out in the open. I stopped for another photo op, and to take it all in:

Once again I hopped back on The Big O and continued my fast pace. Soon after, I came across my most favorite thing out there: a tight, twisty, super heavy-duty bermed roller coaster-type section. I had to stop and get a picture of this one:

Since it was so fun, I climbed back up and did it several times. Not wanting to keep this fun hidden from the masses, I set up the timer on my camera to catch a few “action shots.”

After playing around for a bit, I got going again and discovered a disturbing trailside creature up ahead. This thing kinda spooked me, even though it was probably put in place to ward off evil spirits.

Who knew that voodoo was alive and well in the mountains of North Carolina?

I kept on going, wondering if I had paid the proper amount of respect to the voodoo trail thingy. Would it come back to bite me in the ass? I kept on pedaling through the trail, trying not to stop for fear of some curse catching up to me. Even though I was slightly terrified, I decided to stop at the second (and most challenging) rock garden. I made it through this thing during the race, and I was successful yet again (despite a potential voodoo hex I may have acquired.) I decided to snap a few photos of the Wicked Garden after I cleared it, in hopes that I could properly document its gnarlyitude (yep, made that one up.)

This is looking back towards the direction I came from:

After the rockin’ garden, I made the obligatory pass through the pit area from the race, and headed back into the trail. I made a wrong turn at one point, but I enjoyed the extra mileage. After about fifteen miles, I exited the trail back where I started. I didn’t have all day to be there, so I decided against another lap. I loaded up and headed back to Charlotte. On the way out, I decided to stop and take a photo of something that puzzled me every time I go ride up there:

Hmmm, a business center out in the middle of nowhere? Just what I would need if I was a traveling business man/mountain biker in need of connectivity. I guess I could have done this blog post right after I finished riding, but they appeared to be out of “business.” It looks like they are no longer connected to whatever it is that they were supposed to stay connected to.

It was a great day. It was nice to visit the mountain playground of Warrior Creek without the pressures of a “race.” That is one of the most fun trails I have ever ridden. Also, I’m really digging this 29er thing. The Big O was crazy fast…almost too fast. I found myself whizzing around corners at super-high rates of speed, most of the time much faster than I intended. With a little more practice, I should be the master of the 29 inch wheel, and hopefully that will keep me out of last place in any future races I do. Probably not, but it’s fun to dream, right?

By the way, today is Little Miss Sunshine's Birthday. Since she reads the crap and nonsense I put on here each and every day, I thought I should share her birthday will all of you fine readers. So, if you see her out and about today riding her shiny new road bike, make sure you throw a cupcake at her or something. Just kidding, but the best present would be to find a way for her to meet her idol, Lance Armstrong.

Happy Birthday, Little Miss Sunshine.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Joy of DeFeet

Since I was away the past four days, one would assume that I have a lot to talk about. One would be correct in that assumption. I guess I’ll start with the most recent thing, which is my return to a place that I visited a few months ago.

Lunchbox had a boring field trip scheduled to a baseball game yesterday, so we let him play a little hooky from school. Little Miss Sunshine and I took the day off and we all headed over to the headquarters of DeFeet International to pay them a little visit. Since my last visit, I was invited by the Big Boss Man over there, Shane Cooper, to come back for a tour. Since he had just gotten back from the Sea Otter Classic and the Bicycle Leadership Conference, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get to meet him. After a little communication via e-mail, I was all set. I informed him that I would be arriving from Charlotte between 10 and 11 a.m.

We got there a just about 10:00 on the dot, and we told the lady at the window (sorry, I didn’t get her name) that we were there to see Shane, the Chief Sockologist. I told her that he was expecting us. After making a few calls, she told me that he wasn’t there yet. He had told me earlier to call him if he wasn’t there, but I didn’t want to interrupt his morning bicycle commute. We told the nice lady that we would just browse around the outlet store until he got there.

After waiting a few minutes, I felt the call of nature (no worries, I won’t get too graphic.) When I walked into the bathroom, I got a good chuckle. I later learned that the fine employees of DeFeet take their fun seriously, starting with their trips to the bathroom.

After washing up and giggling for a few minutes, I opened the door and nearly bumped into Shane. He extended his hand for a handshake (luckily I had just washed mine), and we walked over so he could meet the rest of my entourage. He seemed very happy to have the B-43 team/family at DeFeet.

To be honest with you, I just expected a quick tour of the facility, since I knew he was a busy man and probably had plenty of work to do. However, he brought us all into his office for a little chat. I was amazed at how cool his office was. I thought it would be typical of some head honcho’s corporate digs, but it was more like Lunchbox’s bedroom. There were posters all over the place and DeFeet products everywhere you looked. Like I said before, it looked as if the fine folks at DeFeet were all about having fun. I didn’t take any photos of the office since I didn’t want any of DeFeet’s competitors to find out his secrets.

We talked for a good while about the history of DeFeet and Shane’s story. He even asked about us and how we came to be cyclists. There was a genuine interest there, and it made us all a very comfortable talking to him. Too bad I’m not all that interesting though. He even made a point to explain everything to Lunchbox, and he was very receptive to it all. You always hear people say that you can do anything in life as long as you put your mind to it, but Shane was living proof that your dreams can come true. I think that Lunchbox learned a valuable life lesson (and it was much better than going to some silly baseball game by the way.)

After talking for a while, we headed out to where the magic happens. We actually took the tour in reverse, which was a little weird for me since I have OCD. We started at the shipping/receiving area, and I was amazed at how many socks there actually were there. Honestly, I had no idea that they made everything there on site. I was in sock heaven.

Next stop was the packaging area. Here we found a bunch of employees doing all the packaging and testing. Just like my trip to Cane Creek, I thought that I would find a bunch of robots and an assembly line. I didn’t though. What I saw was each employee looking happy to be working there, and they personally inspected each product before it went out. When you buy from DeFeet, you can rest assured that you are getting the best quality products from real human beings made right here in the U. S. of A. Check it out:

I turned around and saw even more socks. These were the ones that aren’t perfect, but they are still quality socks. They are usually made available for sale either in bike shops or DeFeet’s own outlet store. I do own a few pairs of these “factory seconds” and I can attest to their quality and durability. You can save a little dough this way too, so that’s a plus.

Next up was a room full of knitting machines. Although we got an up close and personal view of socks being made, I didn’t take any detailed photos. DeFeet makes the best socks in the world, so we wouldn’t want their so-called competitors getting their grubby little hands on this information. You’ll have to settle for the “big picture.”

Lunchbox and I were truly amazed at how efficiently these machines cranked out socks. Little Miss Sunshine was even more amazed than we were though. Since she does sewing and embroidery as a hobby/part-time business, she was truly impressed with the equipment used in the sock-making process. We all looked down at our feet and realized that the socks we were wearing were made on those very same machines. You can't do that these days, unless you go to China or something.

We headed over to some of the offices, where we were introduced to a few of the employees. First we got to meet Caroline (a.k.a head of security from my last visit) and she seemed glad to meet us. I was hoping that I didn’t make her sound to bad when I talked about our first trip out there. We made our way through the offices, stopping to see the folks who do the custom ordering and design. That was a neat process, but again no photos of that particular operation (let’s keep it a secret.) We then headed over to a big room full of boxes, and Shane told us that this was where they kept all the yarn.

He told us that they buy everything locally, and I was amazed yet again at how much the term “Made in the USA” really meant. The good people at DeFeet International take pride in their work, and it shows in what they do and how they do it. They provide local jobs which stimulate the economy, giving people in the community a sense of pride. They even recycle the cones that hold the yarn. Nice.

Speaking of recycling, did you know that DeFeet was the first company to make socks using CoolMax Ecomade? Of course you didn’t, because you probably don’t even know what CoolMax Ecomade is in the first place (I know I didn’t.) Well, it is a fiber that is made from recycled plastic bottles. With all of the plastic bottles that we go through here in the United States, it’s nice to see that someone is putting them to good use. That says a lot about their company, and that makes me proud to be a supporter of them.

While our tour didn’t last all day, I felt like I could have spent the rest of the day there. Hell, I could live there. The people at DeFeet International are a great bunch, and I am proud to be a supporter of them. I was really impressed with their hospitality, and I want to give a special thank you to Shane, Hope, and the rest of the DeFeet crew for putting up with a mildly-famous bicycling blogger and his family for a few hours. If you aren’t wearing socks made by DeFeet, then you just plain suck. You can buy the best quality socks for your feet that come from a place right here in the U.S.A., and be proud that you support a local company. Buying American has never been so easy.
If you missed my first link, then go back and read it. Shane is a really down to earth guy that has a passion for cycling and cycling apparel. He is all about the customer, and does everything to promote DeFeet’s products. Going above and beyond is an understatement. He truly believes in the products they make, and uses them on a daily basis. I mean, how many corporate big-wigs ride their bikes to work?

I hope we can get out that way again real soon, although I now have a lifetime supply of long-lasting socks. I really think my sock drawer is now more valuable than my bike collection.

Go check out the DeFeet outlet store, located at:

371 I-40 Access Road
Hildebran, NC
Monday through Friday from 9-4