Friday, May 28, 2010

Another Mountain Trip, Perhaps?

If the weather holds off (it seems like it’s always trying to rain around here lately), Lunchbox and I are heading up to Wilkesboro, NC for a little mountain bike action. Although I was there last month for the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek, this time I’m just going for the fun of it (hey, six hour races are fun though.) Well, there is an event happening, but I’m not participating in it. The Burn 24 Hour Race is kicking off tomorrow, on the Dark Mountain trails at the Kerr Scott Trail System. Lunchbox and I are planning to ride the neighboring Overmountain Victory Trail, but we’ll stop by to check out the event for sure.

Why would I stop in for an event I didn’t enter? Well, first off, I just plain like being around this shit. The mountain bike scene is chock full of good people, and most of these events have a good vibe to them. Also, I’ll take a little time to chill out with the MadSS while he performs pit duties for his wife and her tough team of Dirt Divas while they race for 24 hours. The MadSS even said he might be able to sneak away to ride with us for a bit. I don’t think Lunchbox is too pleased with that though, especially after hearing about my last ride with him and his Mrs. Maybe he’ll take it easy on the only junior rider on the B-43 team, or else Lunchbox might just hold a tearful press conference to announce his retirement.

That’s pretty much it for Saturday I guess. Little Miss Sunshine will not be joining us, as she has stuff to do in her sweatshop at the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters. She’s working on several projects, some of which can hopefully be used to make a little extra cash, and to provide plenty of entertainment for our local cycling community. Stay tuned for that one, since you won’t want to miss it. She currently has her sewing factory running at full tilt in hopes to produce some quality (and cheap) products.

I’m still waiting for a few more items to trickle in here, but as of now I have nothing else new for you. I even heard a rumor the the Florida branch of B-43 has sent some sort of package up here to the Mother Ship, but I have no idea what it could be. Is Mr. Shepherd tired of playing with his Awesome Strap and decided to return to sender? Highly unlikely, but I can’t think of anything else that he might want to send up this way. I do know one thing, I am getting way to anxious about it. He said he sent it a while ago, so I wonder what kind of package delivery service he used. No rush or anything I guess, but maybe next time he should use something a little quicker than this:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Casual Observer

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but the Summer Series races are a little stressful to me. Not the fact that I’m getting my ass kicked every time I race, but more like it’s a little difficult to even get there sometimes. Couple that with a little workday stress and that makes it pretty difficult to have a decent race.

Yesterday was no exception. I like to try to get out of work to make it to the races with plenty of time to warm up, but that doesn’t always happen. I stayed a little later than normal yesterday, so I decided that I wouldn’t worry too much about whether I got there or not. On the way to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, I called up Mr. Shepherd so he could chill me out. We talked about how you have to be in the right frame of mind to race, and also about how important it is to get there with plenty of time to get ready. As the minutes flew by, I came to the realization that I probably wasn’t gonna make it with enough time to be able to race.

When I finally arrived, I changed into my riding stuff, grabbed The Big O, and headed down to the registration area. With the race set to kick off at 6:15, I really had no time to ride at all. I decided to sit this one out, and just play volunteer/spectator for the evening. I grabbed my camera and took a few photos of the start of the race.

After everyone got out on the trail, I decided I would try to ride a lap (singlespeed style no less.) As I hit the trail, I didn’t feel too bad. I picked up the pace to see if I could manage a decent lap time. Just as I was starting to doubt my decision to skip the race I came upon one of the junior riders in the first section (about a mile or so in.) He was walking his bike, and looked to be having a little difficulty. I asked him if he was okay, and said that he was a little tired. He told me that he had been riding pretty hard this week, and that he was looking for the exit. I told him I would walk him out if he wanted, but then he said, “I think I can go on.” I rode behind him for another mile or so, giving him encouragement along the way. After dismounting on one of the climbs, he picked up his pace. I told him I would watch for the expert riders coming up, and that he could go on without me.

As I stopped on the side of the trail to let the little guy go, I decided I would whip out the camera to try to catch a photo of the Space Cowboy as he passed by, but I guess he was just too fast. I shouted a few encouraging words at him and packed up the camera. I figured I would get him on the next lap, so I took off down the trail to find a prime picture-taking location.

When I entered the singletrack again, I tried to pick up the pace. I knew the expert riders would be coming up quick, so I wanted to clear the trail for them. As I approached a long, slippery downhill, I spotted a pile of rider and bicycle at the bottom. I quickly recognized him as the junior rider from before. I stopped and asked him, “Are you okay?” He said he thought his nose was broken. Long story short, he had crashed face first into a tree at the bottom.

I grabbed his bike and moved it off of the trail, and helped him up to the fire road. I told him I would get him out of there, and we could get some ice on his injury. I warned the approaching riders that there was a rider down, and we started heading out. About halfway down the fire road, my buddy Doug walked up behind us, apparently the victim of a flat tire. Ironically, he had just ordered an Awesome Strap, but it had not arrived yet. He had no spare tube or Co2, so this race would be a DNF for him. He kept me and the little junior rider company though, so maybe that whole thing was fate.

As we walked out, I kept asking the little guy questions to get a gauge of his mental state. He was a little dizzy, so we took frequent breaks along the way. When we finally got out of the trail and back to the start/finish line, Little Miss Sunshine took over the medic duties (I had called ahead to let her know.) With a little ice, we were able to keep the swelling down, and he would live to ride another day.

Looking back, I suppose it was a good thing that I didn’t race last night. Had I not been out there goofing off, that little guy might have been out there in a pile for a lot longer than the few minutes it took for me to get to him. I’m all about helping the kids, so I’ll chalk this race up as a success. Even though I wasn’t out there fighting for a last place finish, I was still out there for a purpose. I only got in about 3 miles of riding last night, but I felt pretty good that I was able to help out. Maybe you can learn a lesson from this too. It’s not always about your best lap time, the prettiest bike, or having a shitload of sponsors. Sometimes you gotta take time to stop and help your fellow rider, especially if it is one that's the future of our sport. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Florida Hills . . . No. Really!!

Anyone interested in doing a road ride in the Orlando area should check these fellers out. They ride about four days a week . . . damn roadies.

Sit On It

So, I had yet another item dropped off at the B-43 doorstep. I’m still waiting for more stuff, but this is one of those things I’ve been wanting for a while. While building up The Big O, I put on a few parts that I had in ye ole parts bin, and sometimes they just looked (or worked) like shit. The latest item to arrive is another remedy to such an issue. I had a tired old torn and tattered seat on The Big O, and it was not worthy of being on my primary “race” bike. It was the WTB Pure V model, and while it functioned okay, it was just plain ugly. So, I ordered a fancier model, which is probably ugly too, but in a different way.

Well, at least the colors kind of match the bike.

This one is a WTB Rocket V, and it’s a lot nicer than anything I’ve had to sit on (at least while pedaling a bike anyway.) I was so happy to have such a fancy saddle for my big-wheeled bike that I immediately rushed out to the shop to install it. I usually do that when I get new bike parts, much to Little Miss Sunshine’s dismay. Sometimes when I head out to install new parts, it takes a while, and that cuts into dinner time or whatever else we may have going on. In this case, I had a few moments to spare.

I carefully measured the old saddle and its relation to the seatpost (also compensating for how narrow and short the new one was) and removed it. Installing the new saddle took mere minutes, and I think I have it adjusted correctly.

See how Awesome it is?

Since it was raining when I put it on, I was only able to sit on it in the shop and imagine I was riding. My first official test ride will be tonight’s Summer Series race at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. While I usually like to test out new parts in a “safe” environment, this time I’m throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to break in a new saddle. It’s not like it’s gonna change the outcome of the race anyway. I could race on a three-wheeled granny bike and probably have the same shitty results.

I’ll see y’all tomorrow with yet another pathetic race report.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More New Stuff

No, it’s not Christmas again. I did however, finally get a shipment of some stuff here at the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters da udda day I’ve been waiting for. First up, something I actually needed, but with a twist. The good people over at Lizard Skins did not disappoint with my latest addition to the bike: some shiny new grips.

Yeah, it’s another pair of red grips, but these are different than the ones I initially put on The Big O. These are the North Shore model, which I currently use on my full squish bike, Goose. I had forgotten how comfy they were, so I didn’t think twice when I put the smaller-diameter Logo lock-on grips on my Big O build. My hands had been falling asleep for a while though, so I surmised that it was due to the smaller grips in my hands. I had a chance to mount them up just before the 2010 Catawba Riverfront Classic, and that was my first ride on them. They didn’t disappoint, since my hands never fell asleep while I was fighting for position in my race. Did you notice the special lock-ring design?

I had them put on the B-43 logo, just in case I forgot which team I was trying to represent. Actually, you can go right over to their website and get whatever you want put on them. They don’t just do this for semi-famous Internet bloggers and pathetic racers; they do it for anyone who orders a set of their locking grips (for a small extra fee.) Pretty cool, huh? Go get some. I’ll wait.

One of the other things I’ve been anxiously awaiting arrived the same day. I can’t really tell you what it is, but I can give you a little photographic hint:

Little Miss Sunshine has something in the works, but I won’t say what just yet. There’s something new and crazy going on here at B-43, and I’m sure people will say that we’ve lost our minds. Well, I guess you can already say that about us now, but that’s your opinion. Most of you that ride bikes probably already have lost yours. I’ll bet that’s the main reason you come back here day after day. I really appreciate it, since craziness loves company.

Looking ahead, I’m thinking of adding a few races to the already-full calendar. Other than the Summer Series races, my only “big” event coming up is the XTERRA Whitewater. I found a few more mountain bike races nearby that have piqued my interest, so I’ll pass on the details as they get closer. Plus, I have what looks to be a summer full of bike adventure coming up, so things around here will probably get pretty crazy. Hang on, ‘cause it could be a wild ride.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Racin’ With The Big Boys

Yesterday’s Clydesdale category race at the 2010 Catawba Riverfront Classic wasn’t an automatic trip to the podium to me (not like I thought it would be anyway.) Even though I won this event last year, I soon learned that a repeat would be very difficult. Sure, I’m a much better rider this year, but the competition was a helluva lot better too. As one of the guys in my class put it, “I looked around and saw all of these Ivan Drago-looking guys.” He was right, since it definitely wasn’t a bunch of portly fellers lined up to work off the vast quantities of beer they had consumed.

After a thorough warm-up, I took my spot on the start line, next to an old high school chum of mine, Hop. He basically said he would just try to keep me in his sights the whole time, hoping that would give him a pretty decent finish. I was just happy to have someone push me to my limits the whole race. I would later discover that I needed this more than I thought.

When the race started, everyone took off pretty fast. I had trouble clipping in with my right foot, so I watched as the pack took off ahead of me in the grassy field. Once I got clipped in, I mashed as hard as I could to catch the leaders. Two guys in team kits (real professional Clydesdales I guess) were out front, but they hesitated. It almost seemed like they were content with leading into the woods, and not pushing it. I wasn’t having that, so I snaked by them for the holeshot.

As I hit the trail, I took off at full bore. These guys were gonna have to fight to take away my lead. As we progressed through the first loop in the trail, we quickly came up on the junior riders. I managed to get around two of them pretty quickly, but the next one was all over the trail. I shouted out words of encouragement to them, but I also let them know I wanted to pass. As I went around to the right, one of those Professional Clydesdales in his fancy team kit decided to run the little kid into me when he passed on his left. I picked it up to keep the kid from crashing into me, then Mr. Professional decided to try to take me out and tried to introduce me to a tree. I gave him a few choice words, and watched as he sped away. He didn’t care, since his fancy team probably required him to get a win. I’m glad my team kinda sucks, since there is no pressure like that for us.

I held onto second place for a while, but these guys were hanging on. After a long downhill section and a big climb, I was started to feel the effects of too much beer the day before. Two more guys passed me by, but I stuck to them like glue. The podium was still in my sight, since I was currently in fourth place. I hung on as long as I could, but all of those team kits gave them a lot more energy and recovery powers. Even though I was maintaining a pretty decent pace, I lost another place. I was currently in sixth place, but my pal Hop was right behind me.

We rode together for quite a while, but I lost him somewhere after that. I never let up though, since I knew he would be back. I needed him back there though, since that was the best way for me to make myself go faster. As the end of the trail was near, I saw him again. I shifted into the big ring (one reason why I like gears so much) and let it fly. I rode in at a breakneck pace, and finished at a respectable 6th place. I know, it’s not first like last year, but I actually shaved ten minutes off of my time (and I was only six minutes off of the winner.) I guess this can be considered improvement, especially since there were a few Professionals in our class. The rest of the class was filled with regular over-200 pound guys, so we at least were competitive wth each other. There’s always next year. At least I was bleeding B-43, or maybe I just used a cheap sticker.

As for the event, it was great. This particular race was a fundraiser for our local club, the Tarheel Trailblazers, and it was cool to see so many of our club members out there to volunteer. I stuck around after my race to help, and I even heard that local racing legend and worldwide blog celebrity, Dicky learned how do do some race registration from B-43’s own Little Miss Sunshine. Look at everybody, working together.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Let's Get Down to Business

After the Muddy Buddy nonsense . . .

. . . it was time to get down to [70.3] business. I didn't sleep the night before. I woke up around 10pm and quickly realized that I wasn't going to fall back asleep anytime soon, which is okay since I love race day. I got tattooed, set up transition, and followed the rest of my race day ritual.

The swim, regardless of the distance, always seems longer to me. This race was no different. A 1.2 mile swim was ahead of me and it seemed like the buoys were setup around the circumference of Bay Lake. I started in the last wave of my group (one of the largest with 350 participants) which began an hour after the Pros entered the water. (Note: No one dressed up like fairies, barbies in a box, or the Ambiguously Gay Duo.)

I managed to maintain a positive attitude throughout the race mainly because I made it through the swim without much difficulty.

While I could "Go On!" I'll stop the 70.3 show and tell with a photo from Bike Out. I was surprisingly fresh after the 56 mile bike loop. The volunteers were great and I learned a few things about triathlons from the experience. The run course was the unanimous low point of the event; however, the 13.1 mile experience did give me an idea that could be employed by the nutty crowd that enjoys 6,12, and 24 hour mtb races. The aid stations on the run had kiddy pools filled with ice water and the volunteers handed out sponges that could be dipped into the ice cold water and placed on whatever body part ailed the most. In retrospect, the "ice bath to go" probably got me across the finish line.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Almost Single

No, Little Miss Sunshine is still around. In fact she went on her own little bicycling adventure last night. It was a girls-only road ride, so Lunchbox and I were free for the evening. We decided to head out on our own adventure to the ever-so-fun Sherman Branch. It’s the next closest trail to me (besides Poplar Tent, but I couldn’t get Lunchbox to go there.) Anyway, when we arrived, the parking lot was pretty full. Well, at least I thought it was full for a Thursday night. However, Lunchbox politely informed me that mountain bikers have jobs during the day, and I concurred. Hell, bike shit is expensive, so we have to work to pay for it. I looked around for anyone I might know that would want to join us:

I saw a lot of people, but no one I knew. No problem since this ride would be a Lunchbox’s pace anyway. This is the part where the title above comes in: we both would attempt to ride the whole trail in one gear, a.k.a single speed. We got ourselves and our bikes ready for the journey into the woods.

Riding single speed was something I decided to do before we embarked on this particular ride, but Lunchbox had also decided the same thing (unbeknownst to me.) We didn’t really discuss it until we were out on the trail though, when I noticed that he wasn’t shifting, and also standing on the climbs. I asked, “Are you trying to be a singlespeeder?” He said yeah, and told me it was his way of training. Since he isn’t old enough to drink beer, this is an acceptable form of training for the only junior rider on the B-43 team. I noticed that we were both riding 32-18, which is (I think) the standard gearing around here for singlespeeding. It was fun, I tell ya.

As we hit the roller coaster loop, Lunchbox was pretty much stuck to my back wheel, even on the climbs. I wasn’t flying through the trail, but I was keeping a pretty quick pace. We only stopped a few times, and that was because I noticed that my back tire was rubbing on the frame. I eventually found that I had about five loose spokes, but I couldn’t do anything about it until I got back to the B-43 shop. I would finish the ride wondering if I would even finish the ride due to a mechanical issue. It looks like my mechanic has been drinking too much beer again. I’ll have a talk with him.

The ride was really fun, and my wheel somehow decided to stay in one piece and even in the same shape as I started (it just wobbled when I stood up to climb.) I took every drop, jump, and obstacle in my path, figuring that if something happened, I wouldn’t have been able to prevent it anyway. We were there to have fun, and the pictures below can prove it.

Lunchbox was smiling because he made it to the end.

I love that thing, whatever the hell it’s called.

Yes, our after school/work ride was a success. I identified a minor issue that could have been catastrophic, and that gave me plenty of time to correct it before the 2010 Catawba Riverfront Classic coming up this Sunday. In fact, I tightened the loose spokes as soon as we got back to the shop, and my wheel is pretty close to as good as new. Of course, I enjoyed a nice hoppy beverage while I did it. What was that I was saying about my mechanic drinking too much beer?

There is yet another chance of rain for both days this weekend, so I’m hoping that this Sunday’s race will still happen. I know, you Florida boys down there have no choice but to ride in the rain sometimes, but things are different up here in North Cackalacky. As a former resident of the Sunshine State myself, I rode mountain bikes in the rain (and lightning) plenty of times, but they are a little more protective of the trails around here. That’s a good thing, because the shit up here blows away pretty much anything you will find in sunny (and rainy) Florida. See y’all Monday with a race report (hopefully.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ironman Misadventures

Well, I'm gonna throw a few posts up here about the Ironman in no particular order. First, I was absolutely freaked for the week leading up to the event since I had never entered a tri of this distance. I forgot to bring things from work that I wanted on a daily basis, I lost things I had just bought for this event, and I was drinkin' too much. The day before the event was mandatory bike check. I removed my aero-bottle (Why? Because I was freakin' out remember?) and the rubber bands broke. That's when these little jems came into play. A friend of mine in the telecom business gave them to me a way long time ago and I could never bring myself to throw them out. Good thing I held onto them. The water bottle held in place. Secondly, was packet pickup also the day before the race. The best part about packet pickup is the goody bag and they didn't skimp on this one either. It had top notch schwag from the promoter and their sponsors. However, there was an odd item. Disney, which had nothing to do with the race other than the fact that it was held on their property, decided to put an empty recycled plastic bag in the goody bag with instructions printed on it about how to recycle it. It's swell. I will cherish it for a very long time. Lastly, there were the standard issue misadventures which I imagine occur regularly on the Ironman circuit. Although I didn't witness any, there were a few bike crashes (sorry no photos), and runners were dropping like flies on the 13.1 mile course.

Next time around I'll post some more photos but I'll end with this one since it's my favorite part of the race.

It’s Been Raining, So What Does That Mean For Racing?

Last night’s race was pretty good for me. Why, you ask? Well, since I’m still feeling a little ill, it was good because it was cancelled. Yep, with all the rain we had around here, the trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center were closed. This meant no race, which meant no trying to kill myself out there while trying to recover from whatever the hell bug I contracted. I guess it was a good thing we didn’t race there, since the trails were probably in horrible shape anyway, and the promoter was probably afraid of this happening:

So, what the hell do I do now? Do I stop riding for a while and hope that I can still do well in the 2010 Catawba Riverfront Classic this Sunday? No way. I’ll ride, even though I’m not currently feeling up to it. Also, since I mentioned da udda day that the XTERRA Whitewater is fast approaching, I need to make sure that I am “training” properly. If you thought that the team here at B-43 just drinks beer to get ready for big events, then you would be partially correct. There is other stuff involved, although the beer is the best part (but least productive.)

I went to the pool again yesterday and cranked out another half mile swim. I actually felt pretty good, despite my sudden illness. The swim portion of these triathlons are my weakness, so I’m trying to build up my confidence so that I will perform swimmingly during that leg of the event. I’m really not too worried about the bike, since I will be racing weekly (or weakly) up until the XTERRA. I’m actually hoping that a lot of out-of-towners show up for the XTERRA, since that would give me a home-trail advantage. That actually worked out pretty well for me last year when I did the Recon Off-Road Tri. Even though I got kicked in the junk during the swim, I managed to blow up the bike course on my way to a third place finish. I earned that spot on the podium, and I hope to do the same in the XTERRA Whitewater. Look out Clydesdale class, here I come.

In other news, none of the shit I’ve been waiting on has arrived at the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters yet. Even though I left some milk and cookies for the nice UPS man, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of him. I’m not being impatient mind you, but I just really like getting stuff sent to me. I once tried boxing up some of my own bike parts, placing them at the front door, and acting surprised. That shit didn't work. I’m no fool, I guess. Well, maybe I am for trying that, but I couldn’t fool myself. Damn it, now I’m confused. Well, maybe not as much as this guy:

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I’m Telling Y’all It’s Sabotage

While I’ll do like the Beastie Boys, today’s post really has nothing to do with them, other than their relation to the title. All of a sudden, I’m sick. And yeah, it feels like my racing adventures have been sabotaged. Well, it’s been coming on for the last few days, but today it hit me like a ton of bricks. Even driving into work today, I was in a haze. It actually felt like I was on autopilot. So, what does that really mean? Well, if I don’t get any better today, I may not be participating in tonight’s Summer Series race at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Big deal, right?

Well, I guess it’s not such a big deal after all. It’s not like I’m in he running in the points competition or anything. Still, I do enjoy racing, even if I’m getting my ass handed to me every week by most of the people in my class. If I feel a little bit better this afternoon, I’ll still give it a shot. Hell, I can’t come in any worse than last place, can I? Well if there’s a way to finish worse than last, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Being sick sucks, but not riding my bike sucks even worse. I tend to get a little nutty when I don’t get enough of my two-wheeled happiness, so that alone may give me reason enough to go out there and “race.”

In other news, I have a few things in the works. There are several scheduled deliveries of goods headed to the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters, but I honestly have no idea when the shit will get here. I can’t really let the cat out of the bag, but I can give y’all a few hints. Some of the “items” are upgrades, some are new “fashionable garments”, and some are “gifts from friends.” I can tell you that there are no new business partnerships in the works just yet, but that’s mostly because of how bad I suck this season I guess.

Hopefully if I feel better by this weekend, I can redeem myself with a podium spot in the 2010 Catawba Riverfront Classic. Right now it’s not looking so good, since I fear that the worst is yet to come. Did I mention that I hate being sick? I guess if you’re feeling up to it, you can tune in tomorrow to see if I found a cure for the common cold, and lined up for yet another pathetic attempt at racing in the Summer Series.

Same Bat time, same Bat Channel?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Just Leave the Gators Alone

When in Florida Just Leave the Gators Alone. If you haven't heard this story way up yonder in NC it follows the plot line of the original Jaws movie wherein Sheriff Brody and the Mayor put a bounty on a fishes head and a bunch of yokels go out and catch a shark, get their picture in the paper, and the beaches of Amity are proclaimed safe for the tourists. The whole thing makes me sick.

Anyway, I received some photos from the Ironman 70.3 Florida event last Sunday but it'll take a while to sort and post them. As for the Mutt's assessment, I'd like to point out that no two tris are alike. So while I may have more triathlon experience the whitewater locals are master's of the domain.

Tri To Be Different

I know some of you were surprised yesterday. If you’ve been around here for awhile though, you know that the other half of this blog-writing duo, Mr. Shepherd, contributes a bit o’ stuff on here once every so often. Since he hasn’t obtained any photos yet, yesterday’s post was but a brief description of his tri-sport adventure da udda day. Yep, we do a little more than mountain biking around here, with two-thirds of the B-43 squad participating in triathlons. While that doesn’t make us elite athletes by any stretch of the imagination, Mr. Shepherd’s accomplishment on Sunday was a huge step in that direction.

While I was awfully proud of myself for swimming half of a mile during yesterday’s “training” session, it pales in comparison to the 1.2 mile swim that Mr. Shepherd had to do down at Ye Ole Disney World during his event. Tack on a 56 mile road ride and a half-marathon run, and you have yourself a feat of Ironman proportions. I have two triathlons under my belt, but both of them were sprint distances, and off road as well. What the hell does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, I guess I’m really starting to think about our next big event, the XTERRA Whitewater, coming up on July 11th.

Mr. Shepherd, The Dirty Party Cycle, myself, and possibly Senor Oeste are “competing” in this sure to be fine event, and we are all in various states of readiness. Obviously Mr. Shepherd is the most prepared, so he will most likely have the best results. I know the DPC is plugging away at his training, so he should be good to go too. As for me, I’m just trying to survive. I had the benefit of working with one of my friends yesterday on my swimming, so I now feel a little more confident. He’s a world-champion XTERRA athlete, and actually the one that got me interested in the sport. Since the swim is the most daunting of the events for me, I need all the help I can get.

As for the bike, I’m not worried in the least. I get plenty of practice riding the trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, including this past weekend. I got in a few quality “race speed” laps on Saturday morning with the MadSS and his Mrs., and they schooled me on the fine art of climbing. Actually, they schooled me on just about everything. It was all I could do to keep up with them, but that kind of “training” is exactly what I needed. It’s easier to push myself when other people are around, which is the whole reason I race in the first place. Now if I could just get someone to push me on the trail running, I’d be all set. I’d much rather push myself towards the beer fridge, which seems to be detrimental to my “training.”

This week promises to be full of racing adventure, with two events at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Tomorrow’s race looked to be in danger of cancellation due to weather, but now it’s looking more promising. The weather has cleared, so I will most likely get to have my ass kicked once again. Oh joy. This is what it looked like outside yesterday:

Sunday is the 2010 Catawba Riverfront Classic, which will have me fighting to defend my 2009 Clydesdale title. I have a feeling that it will be more difficult this year, even though I am in much better condition than I was last year. I’m really not that competitive (other than with myself), so I guess I had better turn it up a bit. I should start getting ready.

"LLLLLLLLets get ready to get ready!"

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have some catching up to do as I've been in a few events over the past couple of weekends. The Columbia Muddy Buddy was in the Orlando area last weekend. It seems as though all of the events I've entered this year were held at Disney and, in fact, they have been. Muddy Buddy was at the ESPN Wide World of Sports as it has been for the past few years. Although it is an endurance event the biggest competition is the costume contest and seeing who can get to the Beer Garden first. The other event I entered was the Florida Ironman 70.3 held at Fort Wilderness. Unfortunately, the photos are not yet available from the photographer. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What’s Going On

No, don't worry. It’s not Sexy Time here at B-43. I just felt like chilling out to a little Marvin Gaye while I contemplate this weekend’s adventures. Since I am fresh of another disappointing race in the Summer Series, I feel like I need to relax a bit and rethink my strategy.

I seem to be allergic to any kind of proper “training”, so I have to figure out a way to keep on drinking beer while becoming better on the mountain bike. I’ve decided that a little two-wheeled punishment is in order. Yep, tomorrow morning, The MadSS and I are hitting up the U.S. National Whitewater Center for a good ol’ fashioned beat down. I’m hoping to do several laps at “race pace” to get me ready for next week. You see, I will be racing there twice next week(the Summer Series Race 4 and then the 2010 Catawba Riverfront Classic), so I need to get The Big O out on that particular trail. Besides, what better place to ride and drink beer, right?

You know, it’s a little funny. Last year, I was a little faster than The MadSS during the Summer Series races, but he came out of nowhere with some new found speed and endurance. Maybe that has a lot to do with the fact that he rides a singlespeed bike, but I blame it on too much beer (for me, that is.) I’m hoping that I can learn some trick or two from him, and ramp up my own speed and endurance. Most likely though, he’ll leave me dead on the side of the trail. I haven’t mentioned this to the Space Cowboy yet, but since he is a regular reader of this shitty blog, hopefully he’ll want in on the fun. (Hit me up buddy, you know you want to suffer along with us.)

After a couple of “death laps”, we’ll belly up to the bar for some refreshing hoppy beverages, and talk about how bad I sucked out there. This is gonna be so fun/painful. Just my thing.

As for Sunday, we’re planning on the next Tarheel Trailblazers Kids Ride, this time at Sherman Branch. I know the little ones will have a great time once again, and hopefully I’ll have some legs left to ride the short loop out there. I guess I’ll still be able to keep up with the kids, although it won’t surprise me if I’m hurting after riding with The MadSS.

So, I hope you all enjoy your weekend, and if you ride, then get out and do so. Don’t sit around and drink beer all weekend, unless you put in some miles first. That’s my philosophy, and it seems to work. Well, it doesn’t work for racing, but none of the other shit I do seems to either. One day I’ll come up with a plan. And you all know that I love it when a plan comes together.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bringing Up The Rear

Since I jumped up to the next class in the Summer Series this year, I’ve really been struggling. Sure, I usually race my way into shape during the season, but I guess I’m still a little bit disappointed in my performance thus far. My new “classmates” aren’t really any faster than me, but they can maintain that speed for the entire race. I’m usually falling off about halfway through the first lap most of the time. I gotta figure out a way to maintain my speed during the entire race. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a serious racer boi by any means, but I would like to be at least a little bit competitive. Maybe it’s the shorts. Damn.

Anyway, last night’s race was more of the usual, with the exception of the start. We raced at North Meck, a rooty and twisty trail in Huntersville, NC. The trail is only 3.5 miles long, so that meant that I would have to do four laps. I actually got there early enough last night to get in a warm-up lap, so I felt pretty good before the start. Since the trail is so short, we had to line up our bikes in a field on the other side of the parking lot, run about 100 yards to get to them, and hit the trail. This crazy Lemans-style start was supposed to spread us out on the trail, and I guess it worked for the most part.

I sprinted for my bike, hopped on, and hit the trail in about 9th place. I pushed and pushed to hang with the faster guys, but as usual, I fell off about two miles in. I felt okay, but I just couldn’t maintain my pace. Still though, I pushed as hard as I could, hoping that I hadn’t fallen to last place. Just then, I noticed one of the guys from the Skeleton Crew race team was in hot pursuit. I had no idea if he was in last place, but I wasn’t about to let one more rider in my own class get by me. It would be a duel for four laps, because this guy just wouldn’t quit.

There isn’t any kind of rivalry with the guys from the Skeleton Crew, other than a friendly one I guess. Still, I found myself pushing hard to get away from him, and it worked for the most part. I would lose him for a while, then back off. All of a sudden, he would appear out of nowhere. It continued like this up until the final lap, when he started closing in. Shit. Would he catch me? Did I have enough to leave him in the dust? I decided that it was now or never at this point. There were plenty of places to pass, so I had to leave him for good this time. He could easily catch me if I didn’t. On one of the downhill sections, I shifted into the big ring and mashed away. I was hoping that my weight, the big wheels of The Big O, and the high gear would be enough to lose him.

Well, I guess it worked. I took off like a bat out of hell, and I never saw him again until the race was over. He later told me that he was trying his hardest to keep up (that was obvious), but that he just didn’t have enough in the end to catch me. I don’t know exactly where we finished, since I never bothered to check the results. I’m not sure if anyone in our class finished behind us, but it was fun to battle it out for the race. It was the closest I’ve had to any kind of competition during the series so far. So, I guess we’ll be duking it out for last place for the rest of the series. Should be fun.

This just in. An unfamiliar bike was spotted with the B-43 logo in the race series.

Yes, that’s right. Another member of the B-43 team joined the ranks of competitiveness. Little Miss Sunshine finally decided to give racing a try. She entered in the Beginner Women’s category, with a field of five women. After a hard fought battle, she pulled out a well-deserved 3rd place finish. She was all smiles when she was awarded her medal.

Lunchbox also raced last night, although his performance was a bit more like mine. He doesn’t really ride to win, but he has a good time out there. The kids in his class are mostly sandbaggers anyway, with the top two or so being sponsored by “real” teams. Still, it’s good to see him get out on the trail to race. He tried to have a little soundtrack while he raced, but he had a few technical difficulties. Lunchbox is all about the style, I guess.

It’s nice to see the whole B-43 family/team out in force. Now, if we could just get the Dirty Party Cycle out here too. He hasn’t been around here in a while, so it may take some convincing. Also, Mr. Shepherd and Senor Oeste would both love this shit, but they are 600 miles away, representing B-43 South. Some team, huh? We really gotta get our shit together. Nah, that would make us too serious. Being serious kinda sucks, so just go have fun on your bike.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Grind Continued (Just For The Sake Of Dragging It Out)

With lap three in the books, I was fairly pleased. I knew for sure I could get in two more laps, so I actually started thinking about going for a total of six. I stopped in the pit area for the usual exchange, and made sure I ate enough food for the long haul. During Warrior Creek, I didn’t eat nearly enough, so I was at least doing better in that aspect this time. I rested a little longer though, just to make sure I would have enough energy to continue. Total pit time after lap three: twelve minutes. I saw Doug cross the start/finish line, but he appeared to be heading for the bathroom or something. I took off again, and saw Lunchbox waiting with the camera:

Yep, I was really smiling. Three laps, twenty-eight and a half miles, and I felt good. I big-ringed it down the gravel road and got ready to tear it up for lap four. As soon as I got in the trail, I clipped another tree. Shit. This time it was my right leg, but it didn’t really faze me. I was worried that I was making dumb mistakes out there, and they would get worse. Luckily though, I didn’t hit anymore trees on that lap. I started to feel a little tired about halfway through, so I popped a couple gel shots and dug in. I still had plenty of time, so I backed off a bit to regain some of my focus.

When I finished lap number four, I actually felt like I had accomplished something. All I had to do was one more lap to meet my goal, but I had time to do two more if I planned it right. I headed for the pit area and sat down. After wiping my head with a cold towel and drinking some water, I loaded up my pockets with more food. I ate another sandwich and grabbed only water this time for the trail. I was starting to get a little sick of the Cytomax. You can only drink so much of that shit I guess. I headed back out for lap five feeling okay. It was around 3:30, so I had to hurry if I wanted to get in two more. Total pit time: sixteen minutes. Shit, too long.

Lap five would prove to be interesting. I managed to avoid cramping for the most part, but I knew it was coming. Every time I stood up for a climb, I felt a little fatigue in my legs. I shifted to a lower gear and tried my best to spin on the climbs for there on out. I bombed the downhills with reckless abandon, and at one point I nearly rode into the river. The stupid mistakes returned, capped off by another tree incident. Five laps so far, five trees touched by my extremities. It was so ridiculous that I had to laugh, even though a few of them hurt a little.

Lap five would prove to be too much for me. My slower climbing had pushed me over the edge as far as having enough time for six laps, but at least I would make my goal. At one point I even rode the wheel of one of the super fast guys for about two minutes. I don’t know where the hell that shit came from, but it was fun while it lasted.

When I heard the now familiar sounds of the crowd at the finish line, I fought my way through the fatigue and climbed out of the trail. I crossed the finish line at five hours, fifty-one minutes with a total of 47.5 miles. I met my goal, and I didn’t feel even close to as bad as I did when I finished Warrior Creek. By the way, Doug didn’t go out for a fifth lap, so I met my secondary goal as well. Maybe there is something to this whole 29er thing, or else I am actually getting better as the “season” goes on.

We tore down the pit area, enjoyed some fine frosty beverages, and headed home. Another endurance race in the books, and I really enjoyed it. I ended up in 22nd place out of 31 riders in my class, so there were a few people out there that sucked worse than me. My Awesome Strap held on tight, and luckily I didn’t have to dig into it for anything. No mechanicals, serious crashes, or even a flat tire. It was a fine day indeed. I think I’m really starting to like this endurance racing stuff.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Grinding Away

So yeah, this past Saturday was the 6 Hour Grind On The Greenway in Fort Mill, South Carolina. I survived, obviously, since I’m here talking about it. It’s safe to say that my second solo endurance race went pretty well. My goal was to complete five laps on the nine and a half mile course, which I felt was a lofty one since I struggled mightily at the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek last month. I’m new to this whole endurance racing thing, but I kinda felt like I’ve learned a few things since the last one.

The day started out sort of early, with me packing up the usual crap. The Big O: check. Cooler full of food: check. Tools: check. Tent and chairs: check. Cooler full of tasty beer: double check. Can’t forget the beer, right? Anyway, I got everything set up, listened to the pre-race briefing, and I was ready to “race.” I had no idea if I could last six hours out there on the trail, but I was gonna give it my best. At eleven o’clock sharp, the race started. I took off with the pack, and settled in at my usual position near the middle.

It was pretty much a logjam most of the first lap, so I hung in there and kept up my speed. Even though I was trying to pace myself for five laps, once again I got caught up in the “racing” aspect of it all. Damn it. I felt fine though, so I kept it up. The trail was in great condition, and it was super fast. The fact that I was riding big wheels this time made it that much easier too, what with the abundance of roots and rocks on the trail. I did however, clip a tree with my shoulder on a descent, but it didn’t disrupt my flow too much.

When I completed the first lap, I wasn’t even breathing hard (a first for me.) I felt great actually, and my time wasn’t too bad either. I came in at just under an hour, so I headed over to my pit area for a water bottle exchange and quick chow down of food. My buddy Doug (from last year’s summer series battles) was sharing the pit with me, but he hadn’t made it back yet. I actually thought he was ahead of me, until Lunchbox told me the news. I grabbed a full bottle of Cytomax for the bike, and drank about half of a bottle of cold water. After shoveling in a sandwich and a couple of Fig Newtons, I was ready to go again. Total time in the pit: four minutes. Not too shabby.

I hit the fire road that led to the singletrack at full speed, hoping to get in a better lap time for round two. I felt so good that I didn’t even think about the trail as I rode it, instead relying mostly on my instincts and awesomeness to get me through. I was actually surprised at how fast I was going, especially since I was trying to pace myself. I would pass a few people here and there, and a few people would pass me. I kept up my speed, but once again I clipped a tree (with the opposite shoulder this time.) So far I had hit two trees. I was batting a thousand. I started to get a bad feeling, but I kept up my crazy (for me) pace.

When I came up to the start/finish line again, I still felt pretty awesome. Two laps for a total of nineteen miles. Another hour or so lap, and I was a third of the way finished. I decided that I would take a little bit longer break this time, just to make sure I could get in three more laps. I ate a shitload of food this time, and grabbed another bottle of Cytomax to go. Lunchbox told me that Doug had asked where I was, and he seemed hellbent on catching me. I was just about to hop back on my bike when I saw him come up to the tent. I said, “See ya later Doug,” and I left. Total pit time after lap two: nine minutes.

I took off at the usually blazing fast speed on the fireroad, since I wanted to make sure I got a good lead on Doug. Even though I was out there to see what I could do, I also made a new goal: to beat Doug. If anything, it would give me a reason to push harder. I knew I had enough time to complete my goal of five laps, but I had to keep my body fueled up to keep from cramping. This weighed heavily on me, but I kept up the pace.

Lap three was just as fun as the first two, but I was starting to get a little tired on some of the climbs. Also, I was afraid to push too hard since I could jeopardize my chances of being cramp-free and meeting my goal of five laps. Luckily, my big wheels kept me moving fast through the downhill and flat sections to make up for my slower climbs. I couldn’t let up though, since I thought that Doug would overtake me at any moment. I was a little careless though, and whacked yet another tree, this time with my forearm. Ouch. I didn’t crash, but it did force me stop for a moment. I gathered myself and continued. I could hear the music and crowd noises now, so I knew I was almost finished.

Three laps in the books, and I was having a great time. Would I meet my goal of five laps, or crash and burn as usual? Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the “race” report. There was just too much shit to talk about for one blog post. Besides, I wouldn’t want to bore you to death in one sitting. I’ll spread it out over two days to make the pain last that much longer.