Wednesday, June 30, 2010


You betcha. It’s actually all I can think about lately, so you’re stuck with it too. Sure, I’ll till occasionally ll something outta my ass for this here blog, but for now it looks like the XTERRA Whitewater is the dominating subject matter for now. In fact, I end up talking about it wherever I go.

Yesterday, I headed over to the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center for my usual lunchtime exercise routine (run day as a matter of fact.) When I arrived there, I ran into my good pal Peter, who is quite the accomplished XTERRA athlete. In fact (as I may have mentioned before), he’s the one that got me interested in the sport in the first place. After discussing the particulars of the course, he came to the conclusion that the run-between-the-swimming action will be, gulp, dangerous. He said that he ran across the island before the man-made pond da udda day, and that there were several large logs that could pose a hazard when they are wet. His words, “someone’s gonna break an ankle.” Shit. Not to mention that he saw shards of glass on the gravel road leading up to the island. And y’all thought I made that shit up, huh? Well, I thought I did, but it turns out that it’s true.

So, what the hell do I do? Do I grab an old shitty pair of shoes to leave by the Catawba river to put on for the run-between-the-swimming action? Or, do I just tough it out and run the course Southerner-style, sans shoes. Hell, I didn’t start wearing shoes until I was twelve years old, so I had plenty of experience running around barefoot. I don’t want to have my feet all cut up for the bike and run portions of the event, but I also don’t want to spend extra time looking for my old dingy shoes when I get out of the river, and then going back after the race to retrieve them when it’s all over. It would be much like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Damn it.

He even mentioned something interesting in the bike leg of the XTERRA. He doesn’t really agree with the decision to run the entire trail at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, rather he would prefer that we cut out a few sections and do two laps on an abbreviated course. The mileage will be the same, but that would cut out the chances of cheating, he says. Cheating? WTF? Well, there are quite a few cut-throughs available on the trail, and he says that he has seen people cutting the trail in the past. Personally, I’m not too worried about that. If people want to cheat and make themselves feel better, then they can have at it. Personally, I wouldn’t cut the course, since I’m trying to see what I can do out there, and I’m actually just competing against myself. However, if I lost out on a podium spot because some jackass cheated, then I would be pretty pissed. Hopefully there will be plenty of course marshals out there to keep that from happening. They do need volunteers for this event, so check it out. If you’re local to the Charlotte area, then hit up the website to sign up to be a volunteer. You’ll be doing your part to make sure the race is fair.

Since I am kind of tapering off my training for this event, I haven’t been pushing too hard lately on anything (swimming, biking, and running.) However, to keep up with the competition side of things, I will attempt to race tonight in the Summer Series at Colonel Francis Beatty Park. While I won’t be super-competitive (I’m usally not anyway), I think that just getting out to race will help calm my nerves before the big event next weekend. The weather forecast looks bleak though, since they are calling for scattered thunderstorms. Hopefully I can get out and race. Otherwise, I’ll be stuck riding my road bike in the rain for uh, training. Yuck.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


A lot, actually. Fresh off of a silver medal-winning performance at the North Carolina State Games, my focus now has shifted entirely to the next big adventure. Yep, I’m running my yap about the XTERRA Whitewater. While it’s not exactly time for the final countdown just yet, I do need to make my final preparations. Mr. Shepherd told me that there hasn’t been the usual amount of pre-race chatter, so I’m here today to change that. The nerves haven’t kicked in yet, and I’m starting to wonder when they will.

Swim, bike, run. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, if this was a normal triathlon, it would be simple. Since this is an XTERRA, it’s gonna be a helluva lot tougher. According to the website, even the swim is off-road (I’m still trying to figure that one out.) Anyway, here’s the breakdown:


650 meters in the Catawba River followed by a 500 meter run then another 100 meters in the whitewater holding pond.

Not too bad, right? Well, the run will be crazy, since we pretty much go uphill the whole time. Don’t believe me? Well, check out the preview video:

That looks fun, doesn’t it? I’m doing the run barefoot, even though it looks like it will go through gravel, sharp rocks, pine needles, glass shards, and hot coals. I may end up paying for that decision when I hop on the bike though. Speaking of the bike, here is the bike course description:

Mountain Bike (approximately 13 miles):

Bike will begin at transition and proceed to the secondary trail head access (black star on map)

Trails ridden (in this order)(updated 6/27)

• Figure 8 Trail
• North Main (Point trail)
• At end of North Main, continue onto South Main Trail (Trail of Joy) to Carpet
• Carpet Trail
• Continue on South Main to Goat Hill
• Ride Goat Hill WITH gasline option (take a left at the top of Goat Hill and descend)(this is XTERRA, embrace the suck)(grin)
• Climb gasline and continue back into top of Goat Hill
• Descend Goat Hill by taking downhill fork to LEFT
• At fireroad crossing take HARD RIGHT
• Take Left to continue on South Main Trail
• Continue to Weigh Station
• Ride Weigh Station and continue to Toilet Bowl
• After Toilet Bowl, continue on South Main to the Lake Loop (green trail)
• After Lake Loop, continue back on North Main trail back to transition

Anyone else notice that? Embrace the suck? Oh boy. Luckily, I’ve been riding quite a bit at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, so I know all about how bad it can suck. At least this time, I’ll only be doing one lap. If my feet are cut all to shit from the barefoot running (during the swim leg), then I’ll be really suffering.

Did I mention suffering? Oh yeah, there is plenty more. As if this wasn’t enough, there will be more running. After I make my way back to the transition area and park my bike, I’ll “don” my running shoes (this time) and head back out on the trail. Here is the run course description:

Trail Run (approximately 5 miles):

Run will begin at transition at proceed to the secondary trail head access (black star on map).

Trails ran (in this order)

• North Main (Point trail)(you will NOT run Figure 8)
• At end of North Main, continue onto South Main Trail (Trail of Joy) to Carpet
• Carpet Trail
• Continue on South Main to Goat Hill
• At the beginning of Goat Hill, at the rock garden, take a hard left and climb hill and exit trail to the power lines
• Cross over/under the power lines via the emergency exit (red dotted line on map) back to the South Main
• Take a left and follow South Main until it re-enters the woods (do NOT enter the woods)
• Continue straight staying underneath the power lines (red dotted line on map)
• At Lake Loop exit, be careful of bikers
• Continue straight ahead (down hill and back up) to parking lot trail head
• At parking lot trail head, stay left along edge of employee lot/field
• Take gravel access road back towards rapids, behind boat house and onto Channel Loop
• Continue around channel loop (on gravel) to finish/transition

That doesn’t sound too bad, with the exception of running up the Carpet Trail. That will be one helluva climb without a bicycle. I’m actually looking forward to it though (for some strange reason.) At that point in the race, I’m sure to be on autopilot (or at least a zombie-like state.) I’ll be running on fumes at that point, competing on sheer willpower. Hey, like John Madden Says, “90% of the game is half mental.” What a kook.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Where’s my Wheaties Box?

Oh yeah, that shit is only for superstars. Even though that description comes nowhere close to describing me, I still had dreams of getting my ass (and the rest of me of course) on some sort of cereal box. This past Saturday, I had the chance to “compete” in the North Carolina State Games. Here is a description of the State Games I jacked from the website:

State Games is a multi-sport, Olympic-style competition promoting physical fitness, good sportsmanship, academic excellence and drug-free competition to North Carolinians of all ages and skill levels.

While that may sound impressive, it wasn’t really a big deal for me. Why? Well, since I’m not some superstar multi-sport athlete, it would be just another mountain bike race at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Well, it’s never just another mountain bike race, especially since this time I had a chance for a podium spot and a medal.

I arrived on the scene way too early for the start of the race, so I took my time getting ready. Eventually, I hooked up with the MadSS and went out for a warm-up lap, which was pretty fun. Since it was already super hot outside, it didn’t take long to warm up. At this point I should also mention that the warm-up pace that the MadSS uses is faster than most people’s regular pace. It felt good though. Hopefully my racing number would be lucky for me:

Well, at least it wasn’t 43.

When we lined up at the start, I felt ready. I looked over and saw Little Miss Sunshine with the camera ready, and the Space Cowboy was standing near her, fresh off of his volunteer trail marshaling duties. We were given the start signal, and I kind of took it easy. Just when I thought it would be a nice leisurely ride, I heard the Space Cowboy yell out, “You’re gonna let him have the holeshot?” Shit, he was right.

Just like that, I turned it on. I fought my way past the leader to enter the trail first. I pedalled my ass of to stay in the lead too. This guy wouldn’t quit, so I mashed even harder. I was hoping to take it easy, especially since I would be doing two laps out there. He was going for his personal best however, so he was willing to battle it out. I took a sharp, bumpy turn, and something weird happened. While I was up off of my seat, one of the roots jarred my bike, sending the tip of my seat into a not so pleasant place. Ouch. I let my fierce competitor by at the top of a climb, and bid him farewell while I recovered. I stuck to him as best I could, but I was hurting. I managed to finish the lap, and actually started gaining speed while I did it. I came across the start/finish line as fast as I could go, soaking in the cheers of the crowd.

Lap two felt a lot better. I had plenty of energy, and my uh, pain had subsided a bit. I hammered away in hopes of catching the leader, but he was nowhere in sight. I didn’t care, since I was riding my best at this point. I pushed as hard as I could on the climbs, and took the downhill sections without using too much brake action. I was definitely faster, but would it be enough? I had no idea, but I was gonna go down fighting. In addition to competing for a medal, this was also another “training ride” for the upcoming XTERRA Whitewater. I was putting it all out there, no matter what happened.

Near the end of the second lap, I still hadn’t seen Mr. First Place Guy. Did he DNF due to a mechanical or a crash? Was he hiding in the bushes somewhere to take me out and guarantee his win? I had no idea, so I kept looking around while I pedalled faster. When I came out of the woods for the last time, I shifted into the big ring and hammered away. I came across the finish line as fast as I could go, hoping that I made the cut. I guess I had fun though, because I was smiling.

Photo Credit: Little Miss Sunshine

I found out that I didn’t catch my fierce competitor, but I was still happy. I fought hard in this race, and I was proud of my efforts. When my name was called for the podium, I quickly put my Cane Creek jersey back on and went to get my medal.

Little Miss Sunshine was waiting there to award me with my silver medal, which I graciously accepted. I know, it looks a little suspicious that my own wife awarded me a medal, but I did in fact earn it. You conspiracy theorists can go to hell, or send me plenty of hate mail. Either way will be fun, since I love conspiracies. I took my place on the podium, next to my nemesis (for the race anyway.)

Photo credit: The MadSS

After standing there on the podium, I realized how he was able to keep the lead. He must have had some tiny motor on his bike, powered by that very small human he’s holding. That’s okay though. Next time I’ll get some kind of motor thingy myself, and I’ll let Lunchbox power it for me. He’s a much bigger human, which will allow me to crush the competition next time. We’ll work on that when he gets back from Florida.

I had a great time at the North Carolina State Games. The event ran smoothly, which is not surprising since it was put on by my pal Neal from Charlotte Sports Cycling. He always puts on top-quality cycling events, and this one was no exception. Even though I’ve been on the podium before, this one felt great (it’s been a little while.) I won a silver medal, and I actually had to work for it. Only in America.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Too Much Beer

That’s the general theme around here lately, minus Laverne and Shirley of course. After riding in the hot sun as of late, the first order of business is grabbing a cold, refreshing, hoppy beverage. I know that’s what most mountain bikers like to do, but I probably take it too far. Yeah, I have to keep up with my Clydesdale status, but maybe there is such a thing as too much beer. I haven’t been less than 200 pounds since 1991, so even if I cut out the beer I’d probably still be okay.

Where am I going with this? Well, I had a conversation with my boy the MadSS yesterday, and we discussed, you guessed it, beer. He mentioned that he hasn’t had a beer in a while, and I was literally shocked (okay, not literally, but you get the picture.) Anyway, I felt bad for him when he said that, so I went out to the beer fridge and grabbed a cold one. Initially we were discussing the possibility of going for an evening ride, but when the topic turned to beer that was quickly forgotten. I marveled at his willpower to refrain from beer, and I wondered if maybe that was one reason he was getting so much faster out on the trail.

Is the beer hampering me? It's hard to tell. I mean yeah, I moved up to a more advanced class in the local race circuit, but I still feel like I’m not getting any better. Well, I’m much faster and stronger this season, but I seem to burn out more quickly as well. Could it be the beer? Can I slow it down a bit? Do I really give that much of a shit to even try? Those are questions I’ve asked myself lately, and the answer is always more beer. Mmmm, I love beer, and so should you.

Preach on, Homer.

Well, after getting of the phone with the MadSS last night, I was faced with a decision. Do I slow the beer intake just to get better in my pathetic racing career, or do I just go out in a blaze of glory (enjoying a frosty beverage while I do)? I thought about grabbing my bike anyway, but the beer once again took over. This time though, it was my latest batch of homebrew talking. My newest IPA was ready, so I bottled it. Luckily it wasn’t ready to be consumed yet:

Okay, enough about the beer. Tomorrow morning is yet another local race, but this one is kind of a big deal. The North Carolina State Games are in town. The State Games are sort of like a mini Olympic-style event, which has athletes competing from all of North and South Carolina in several events. Tomorrow morning is the mountain bike portion of the event, and I plan to be at the U.S. National Whitewater Center to um, compete. I’m as ready as I can be, so I hope I have a good race. Well, I’m on call for work this weekend, so I hope I can even have a race. If my work obligations stay away for a bit tomorrow morning, then it’s on. Hopefully I can join in the fun and “compete” with other mountain bikers from all over the area (and locals too of course.)

By the way, the countdown is near. A little more than two weeks until XTERRA Whitewater, and I’m as happy as a pig in shit.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It Was A Race I Guess

Last night was yet another installment of the Summer Series, and I was there. While I’d like to tell you that I tried my best to have a great race, that wasn’t the case. Sure, I enjoy racing on occasion, but last night wasn’t one of those times. With the XTERRA Whitewater coming up soon, I’m using these races as training rides. There’s no need to kill myself out there fighting for position, especially since most of these guys are a lot faster than me. I just showed up, signed up, and hit the trail.

First, I’ll tell you that it was hot. Even though I spent all of my life (up until the last three years) living in Florida, mid to upper 90’s is hot no matter where you’re from. It didn’t bother me too bad though, except for the fact that I was a little dehydrated. Drinking copious amounts of beer the night before probably didn’t help with that, but I did make an effort to rehydrate myself all day prior to the race. I’m not a camel though, so it seemed like a wasted effort.

When the race started, I took off at kind of a leisurely pace. I stayed towards the middle of the pack, and didn’t really fight for position. It was nice to not have all of the pressure of a race weighing me down, especially since I didn’t have the usual pre-race jitters. While I was riding, er racing, all I could think about was the XTERRA. I paid close attention to the climbs, trying to plan some sort of strategy. Since I was in a race though, I probably should have paid attention to that. I kept up with the pack for most of the first lap, even without trying too hard. Sure, these guys are fast, but I was right there with them for the most part. It’s amazing what you can accomplish without even trying (and without the pressure of a race.)

I continued on my training ride/lap one, and I felt pretty good. Well, except for the fact that I was really thirsty. I drank from my bottle on occasion, but I tried my best to ration it so I would have something left for lap two. Since I didn’t plan on needing so much water, I didn’t have anyone waiting at the start/finish line to exchange water bottles for me. I did however, see Little Miss Sunshine waiting for me with the camera as I came through to start lap two.

The photo isn’t blurry because of Little Miss Sunshine’s poor camera skills, rather it was due to the fact that I was actually going kind of fast. I’m not sure why I turned it up at that particular moment, but I wouldn’t continue that pace much longer. I slowly gave up my mid-pack position, and settled in to a “training” pace. I would love to tell you that I went out fighting, but that would be a lie. I kept up a decent pace though, and actually enjoyed most of the rest of the “race.” I was able to attack all the climbs pretty well, and I handled the descents with ease. I just didn’t feel like pushing as hard as I could, and I was okay with that. When the race finally ended, I didn’t even check to see how I did. I got in a good training ride, and I was satisfied. I guess I’ll turn it up after the XTERRA Whitewater, but for now I’ll just use the Summer Series as part of my training. I mean, if I get too serious in these races, I could end up getting hurt or even breaking something on my bike. That would suck.

This guy from last night’s race knows what I’m talking about:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rock n’ Roll

It’s been a little busy around here, but that’s nothing new. With all of the riding, running, and the shipping of Lunchbox down to Florida, I haven’t had time to tell y’all about something cool I received last week. The kind folks over at Backcountry Research sent me a nice little care package, and I’ve been waiting to share the contents of it with anyone and everyone. I opened the package, and this is what I found:

Hmmmm. I’ve seen this particular product on their website, but I didn’t really think much about it (although it did look kinda neat.) Since I now have one in my possession, I figured that it’s time to see what uses I could find for it. I opened it up for further investigation:

Well, there seems to be a lot of space in there, so I grabbed the first thing I thought of to stuff in there.

Yay, my own personal beer roll. Now, I can bring along my hoppy beverages whenever I go to a race (for post-race consumption of course.) Three pockets, three beers. It was like they made this thing just for me. I rolled it up to test out the feasibility of actually carrying around that much beer in the roll.

Uh, well, I guess that’s too much beer to carry in it. Shit. I like beer, but this was portable beer fail. At that point, I decided to check out the website to see what I could put in it. Here is what I found:

Let's face it, we all use the hell out of our specialty tools for our outdoor adventure sports. They get muddy, wet, thrown around and easily lost in the elements. Loading your tools in the Toolie Roll™ can fix all that!

• Made from a recycled rubber blend, this gives it a unique industrial worn-in look and no two are alike

• Features three fast-load large pockets giving you some slack on size and kind of tool being stored. Load, roll, lock and go!

• Fits many different sizes and styles of tools for any reason or season - Up to 10 inches length

• Protects against impact damage, elements and clanging

• The flap adds extra protection from tool shifting and when folded out provides a protective working surface to set your greasy tools on

• The cinch strap is adjustable

• High impact center release Stealth buckle keeps tools tight and eliminates spontaneous opening

• Self repair, just simply use a tire patch

• UV and ozone resistant

• 13 1/2 inches X 14 1/2 inches (unfurled/open).

• Made in Seattle - USA

Ahhh, the Toolie Roll. Looks like I should be putting tools in it then, huh? No problem. I grabbed some tools that I would normally bring along for races and such, and loaded it up. Things looked a lot neater this time:

Yes, that’s a bottle opener in there. I’m still bringing along the beer, but I’ll put it in a cooler, like normal people. Anyway, when I tried to close it this time, the results were much better:

Success! The folks at Backcountry Research have gone and done it again. Just like the Awesome Strap, they have yet another useful product I didn’t know I needed (until I tried it.) The Toolie Roll is pretty darn cool, and I’m sure I will use the hell out of it (just not for beer storage.) At the moment, it isn’t available for sale, but I’m sure it will be soon. Just keep checking the website until it is. In the meantime, go get some Awesome Straps. It looks like they still have their Whammer Deal going on, so can load up with three of your favorite Awesome Straps. What the hell are you waiting for? Even Little Miss Sunshine is rockin’ the Awesome Strap.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Until My Legs Fall Off

XTERRA Whitewater is fast approaching. Nineteen days to be exact. Mr. Shepherd mentioned da udda day that there hasn’t been much of the usual pre-race chatter about this event, and I agreed. Sure, we’re all plenty excited, but we haven’t really said much about it to each other. Well, we’ve been circulating e-mails amongst each other, but there hasn’t really been much of the smack–talking, nerve-calming chit chat that we’ve all grown accustomed to in the past few years. I chalked it up to either nerves, or the fact that we are all veterans of the XTERRA (albeit not at this particular venue.) Maybe some of it is that we haven’t been discussing our “training plans.” Well, my friends, that changes today.

Sure, I have some kind of plan, although it’s not really set in stone. I swim three days a week, usually covering half a mile (in under twenty minutes) each time. I’ve been running quite a bit too, even on weekends with Little Miss Sunshine. The bike is obviously what I do the most, and I’ve actually been getting plenty of two-wheel fun time lately. In fact, I’ve been doing so much shit lately that I feel like my body is wearing out. Yesterday evening was no exception.

Right after work, I headed over to the U.S. National Whitewater Center for some XTERRA recon action. The plan was to ride the entire course, and report my findings back to the rest of the B-43 triathlon team. Also, Little Miss Sunshine was planning on riding it with a friend of hers, but I didn’t think we would cross paths. I was on a training mission, and she was there for uh, fun.

I arrived there a little before 6 p.m., and got ready to hit the trail. It was around 95 degrees, so I made sure that my water bottle was loaded up with a popular sports drink. While I was spinning around the parking lot to warm up, I noticed that Little Miss Sunshine’s truck was there, sans bicycle. That meant that she had a head start on me. I knew I would be riding a faster pace, but I still didn’t thin I would catch her since I was planning on hitting every loop there. I headed over to the start area of the XTERRA, and surveyed the last portion of the swim leg: the man-made river.

This is the point where I would exit the water, and head over to the transition area. I put away my camera and hit the trail at full speed. I wasn’t racing per se, but I wanted to ride at a pretty fast pace. I started out pretty strong, confident that I warmed up properly. On the first loop (just as I thought I was making good time), I hear a ruckus in the bushes. When I looked down, I noticed that something was missing from The Big O:

I was pretty sure that I brought a water bottle along for the ride, and now it was missing. Since I was pretty certain that the noise I heard was my bottle trying to escape, I walked back down the trail in search of it. About twenty feet back or so, I found it.

After giving my bottle a brief lecture on littering, I was back on the trail. I picked up my pace again, hoping to make up for the few precious seconds I lost chasing my fugitive drink container. Just as I started to get into a rhythm, I saw a couple guys from the Tarheel Trailblazers on the side of the trail, tools in hand. I offered my assistance with some trailwork, but they said they had it under control. I insisted, but I was told to go ride. I hit the trail again full speed, hoping that this was my last delay.

Up ahead on the Figure 8 loop, I saw two female riders. It was Little Miss unshine and her friends. I applauded LMS for tackling the first black diamond section, and I offered to ride along with them in case teed some trail guidance. It would slow me down a bit, but I would still get in a good workout, especially if I only used one gear (single speed pretending I guess.)

We rode along, and I basically shot ahead at full speed whenever I could. I waited for them on some of the tougher sections, and anywhere else where the trail split off. Since I was so far ahead at one point, I managed to take a photo pf those two crazy girls, just as they were mashing up a hill.

The rest of the ride went well, although I didn’t take any more pictures. I had planned on taking photos of the XTERRA Whitewater swim area, and some other random spots on the trail. It was still fun though, and I was really proud of Little Miss Sunshine for tackling the tough trails at the Whitewater Center. She hadn’t been there in almost three years to ride it, and she did amazing. She did have one mishap on the Toilet Bowl loop, but she got back up and finished the ride. The best part of that little crash would be the lovely war wounds she obtained:

It was a fun time, and the temperature had cooled off quite a bit while we were out there. We grabbed some food and a cold beer at the on site restaurant, and that capped off a lovely day. The XTERRA Whitewater course is gonna be a tough one, but I’m not too worried. Maybe the Dirty Party Cycle and I will get back out there before the race for a pre-ride. Oh yeah, Mr. Shepherd, the Gas Line climb just plain sucks. Well, unless you REALLY like climbing. See you in nineteen days.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Change of Pace

On the weekends around here, we usually cram in as much shit as possible, often making us super-exhausted in the process. This weekend was no different I guess, but it did seem a little different. It started on Friday evening, when I heeded the advice of a sticker I was saw:

Yeah, I know, I do ride a 29er most of the time these days. However, I still have a “small-wheeled” bike, and it has been feeling neglected. My good ol’ Goose hasn’t received much love since I started riding The Big O, but I was about to change that. The family and I headed up to one of our local riding spots North Meck, and I brought Goose along this time. One of these days, I’ll do a side by side comparison between 26 and 29 inch wheels. For now though, you’ll have to deal with my weekend misadventures.

We were also meeting up with one of Little Miss Sunshine’s friends, so we all hit the fun little pump track during our brief wait for her.

When her friend arrived, we all hit the trail. Lunchbox and I took the lead, and I helped him work on his “racing skills.” He actually rode a lot faster than he has in the past, and his skill level seemed to be improving as well. We hammered out a pretty quick ride, and got the hell outta Dodge. After grabbing a quick dinner, we headed home.

Saturday kind of sucked, for me anyway. Lunchbox and I ran around a little in the morning, hitting up the comic book store and enjoying a nice lunch together. That was good, but what happened after that wasn’t so great. I’ll let this next photo give you a hint:

Yep, that’s an airplane. Since I don’t like flying, it can only mean one thing: Lunchbox is making his yearly summer pilgrimage to Florida. That makes for a sucky summer for me, since I’m used to my right-hand man sharing all of my adventures. I don’t mean to get all sappy on you here, but he’s a really good kid (and a pretty decent photographer too.) The good news is that his trip this year will be much shorter than in years past, and I’ll actually get to go down there and pick him up this time. We’ll get into some Sunshine State mountain biking while we’re at it. In the meantime, I’m sure that Mr. Shepherd will get a chance to hang out with Lunchbox, and who knows what kind of crap they’ll get into.

Since Lunchbox is gone, I decided to get in some good “training.” Yesterday morning I joined Little Miss Sunshine for some running on the greenway. She’s doing some kind of running class, and the homework is to take a nice run on Saturday or Sunday. Since I’m supposedly “training” for the upcoming XTERRA Whitewater, I usually join her on those weekend-morning runs.

It was a nice run, and the scenery was pretty cool too. There is a creek that flows alongside the greenway, and it almost makes you feel like you’re not in the city. I snapped a photo of a “waterfall.”

While our little “run date” was nice, I was left wanting more. Our plan for later in the day was to head out to one of our local trails for some mountain biking action. A few hours after our greenway run, we loaded up the bikes and headed over to Sherman Branch.

We rode only one lap, but it was at a good pace. Little Miss Sunshine hung in there like a champ, especially since we had gone running only mere hours ago. When the ride was over, we both felt pretty good. However, the fun wasn’t over. We changed our shoes and hit the trail again. This time though, without the bikes. After a three mile run in the morning and an 11+ mile bike ride, we hit the trail for another two miles of running. Since I am training for a triathlon (and so is LMS), we decided to kill ourselves with more running just for the sake of doing it. Trail running is so fun anyway.

I realize that today’s post is all over the place, but that’s kind of how the weekend felt. With Lunchbox gone for a while, things kind of just seem out of place. I’ll be keeping myself plenty busy though, which should help pass the time. Hell, I’m keeping it all going with yet another mountain bike ride this evening. Next stop, the U.S. National Whitewater Center.


Friday, June 18, 2010

World Domination Runs Rampant

Even though we’re striving for big things around here at B-43, we obviously have a long way to go. Giant corporations are always taking over each other, wrecking the environment, and pretty much doing whatever the hell they want. Maybe we should slow down around here, so we don’t get lumped in with those turds.
These kinds of things happen in all sorts of industries, including bicycle companies. The latest has to do with Trek Bicycles, headquartered in Waterloo, Wisconsin. If you’re a fan of Lance Armstrong, then certainly you’ve heard of Trek. There are almost 2000 dealers across this great land, so it is a safe bet to say that they are pretty popular and successful.

What the hell does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, back in the early 1990’s, Trek acquired Gary Fisher Bicycles. Gary Fisher is a pioneer in the world of mountain bikes, with some even calling him the “inventor” of them. This probably made sense for all parties involved, and both brands have been successful throughout the years. Even though I always considered them both the same brand for years now, most purists could argue that they have always been two sepreate brands, but under one roof. I can’t argue with that, but now things are different. A couple of days ago, Trek announced that they are discontinuing the Gary Fisher brand, and marketing some Trek bicycles with what will now be known as The Gary Fisher Collection.

While some supporters of the (former) Gary Fisher brand may be disappointed, I think that it appears to be a good thing, at least marketing-wise (I’m no business analyst or marketing guru, so my opinion isn’t worth a damn.) It seems like these particular bikes will be a “fancier” model for the Trek brand to lure in new customers, all while keeping some of their loyal Fisher followers. We’ll see how it works out.
Why did I bring this up today? The thing that seemed a little odd to me about this whole thing is Mr. Fisher himself. Just check out the marketing video up on the Trek website:

Click here for the video.

I’ve always seen Mr. Fisher as a Daniel Boone-type pioneer for mountain biking, what with his early adventures in the sport (see the movie Klunkerz.) As an innovator and a mountain biking badass, the propaganda video on the Trek website looks a little flaky to me. It almost appears as if he was being forced to speak in the video against his will. Now, this might not be the case, so I could be wrong. Perhaps he is just one of those behind-the-scenes guys that doesn’t do well in front of the camera. Maybe they paid him a shitload of cash to “let his brand go” and remain on as a consultant. A noble gesture to one of the inventors of this sport I enjoy.

Don’t think that I have anything against Trek or Gary Fisher, because I certainly don’t. In fact, there are a couple of Trek bicycles in the B-43 shop, and they are ridden regularly. While I don’t own a Gary Fisher bike, it’s not because I didn’t want to. I just never bought one. Take all of this how you want. Corporations are going to do whatever they feel is best, and that may not always agree with what we as consumers feel is the right thing to do. My advice is to not worry about it and go ride your bike. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that myself here in the near future, so you won’t have to read about my views on corporate America anymore. I suck at politics, business, etc., so we are all in big trouble if I spend all my time blogging about that shit. See y’all Monday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Ain’t Got Nothin’ For Ya Man

Sorry about yesterday's post (and Freddy Fender video.) After working for 24 hours in a row, I was a little foggy. At the time I posted, I had no idea when I would get out of there. I don’t usually work such long and crazy hours, but this was a rare occasion. We had a pretty big issue that required me to basically spend the night at work. While I received kudos from the boss for a job well done, the rest of my week was shot in the process. No racing in the Summer Series at Fisher Farm last night for me. In fact, who knows when I’ll even get back on the bike. Damn it.

Even though I missed the race last night, I still got to check out the action. One of our local shop owners had a strategically placed camera out there on the course, which provided a little entertainment. There was a new section added to the trail (and subsequently to the race course), and it proved to be interesting. The new section had a nice little rock garden, immediately followed by a rock drop-off. I kind of figured that racing over that feature would cause some issues for a few people, and I turned out to be correct (that is rare.) Check out these short and sweet videos.

This guy decided to take a break right on the big rock:

Here’s a nice little crash:

This guy hits the new feature like a pro:

Even though I’m still in a little haze from my work escapade da udda night, I still managed to pull some cycling-related shit outta my ass. I guess. I’m a little bummed that I missed out on the action at Fisher Farm though. Well, maybe not, since one of those videos could have starred yours truly. I tend to get camera shy when the video camera is rolling, so most likely I would have been up for Best Crash Award. Hmmmmph.

On an unrelated note, I’d like to share some information I procured from the Internets. According to The Facebooks, it appears that local racing legend and celebrity cycling blogger Rich Dillen is celebrating his birthday today. Head on over to his blog and tell him he’s old. He’ll like that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

I’m not really being lazy today by posting up another music video. In fact, I’ve been working my ass off. None of it has been on the bike though, so that kind of sucks. It is wasted time indeed. I've actually been stuck at work all damn night (since yesterday morning and I’m still here by the way), so I really don’t have shit to say today. Since I usually post up every weekday, I thought that I owed all of you loyal readers at least some kind of nonsense.

Tonight is yet another race in the Summer Series, but it’s not looking good for me. Although the race is at one of my favorite places, Fisher farm, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. Big deal I guess, since I’m not in jeopardy of loosing my spot in the standings, but it still sucks. After racing a hard-fought battle last Sunday at the Shootout On Anglers Ridge and working my ass of into the night, I don’t think I can even stay awake long enough to ride my bike. Damn it. I’m going nutty, and the bike is the only way to prevent it from getting worse. I guess I will have to cut my losses and shoot for next week.

World domination my ass. I can’t even get my shit together for one measly race. At least I won’t come in last place this time though.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Come From The Land Down Under

No dummy, I’m not originally from Australia. I’ve just had this song stuck in my head lately for some reason. Well, that and I drove up from the state under Virginia to participate in a bike race, so I thought the title would be appropriate. Remember when I started the story yesterday? Well then, let’s continue, shall we?

As I hit the trail on lap two, I knew I had some catching up to do. The four guys ahead of me were pretty much equal to me in terms of ability, fitness, size, etc., so I figured that I had a good shot if I pushed it. The fact that I had such a rough time on lap one put me a little further behind than I intended, but it was still a manageable distance. I learned what I needed to learn about the trail the first time around, so at least I knew what I was up against.

I gunned it down the singletrack, pushing myself up the climbs as hard as I could. I would go down fighting this time, letting the other guys know that B-43 don’t play that. I passed quite a few people during the first few miles, but no one in my class. I knew I was making good time, so I still wasn’t worried. I hit the downhill sections with reckless abandon; especially since my rear brakes weren’t working so well anymore. I attacked on every single climb, with the exception of one which was slippery. That particular hike-a-bike hill didn’t bother me though. At the top of it were several strategically placed pink flamingos, which had me laughing pretty hard.

As I hurried down the trail, I felt better than ever. I kept passing people in other classes, but I still didn’t see anyone from my group. Had they left me for good? Would I be stuck in 5th place until the end? That made me push even harder. All along the course there were markers that said 6 miles to finish, etc., and after I passed each one I turned it up a little more. I ended up riding the last two miles alone, until I came to the fire road with half a mile remaining. When I shifted into the big ring to get some haulin’ ass action, my chain dropped off the rear wheel. Shit. What if the guys behind me catch me? I wasn’t gonna stop, even if it meant I had to hop off my bike and run it in, Bruce Jenner style.

Somehow, after fiddling with the shifters, my chain went back on. I gave it one final push, and crossed the finish line still in 5th place. I never saw the other guys, and I still have no idea how far ahead of me they were. Lesson learned: Don’t let Tyler Durden interfere with my warm up next time. Riding a tough trail like that cold is a big fat no-no.

Since I led the race for a while, I had a chance to count all of the guys in my class that passed me. I knew where I had finished, but I asked the people at the finish line where I placed anyway. They said they didn’t know. I’m sure they did, but maybe they were just too busy to be bothered by me. I found out later that they marked me down as finishing in 6th place, which is why I asked when I stopped ( so I could dispute it on the spot.) Yeah, I know it’s a bunch of bullshit, but even if I contested the results I still had no proof. I know where I finished, and I’ll leave it at that.

Overall, I had a great time out there. It was hot and it rained cats and dogs the night before, but it was still an awesome race. The trail was in spectacular shape, and even though my lack of warm up had me struggling on the climbs at first, it was a really fun course. It’s a little too far to make a special trip back there just to ride, but I would ride it again if I get the opportunity. The rest of the event however, was average at best.

The whole setup was sort of chaotic, and very confusing. I do lots of races, so I understand that there can be some issues. However, this one could have been a little more organized. The volunteers were very nice though, and extremely helpful. The on the course volunteers were especially helpful, with their cheering and water station duties and all. When the race was over, we sat around for almost two hours waiting for the results to come out. Yeah they fed us, but I didn’t find the food very appealing. It was catered by some BBQ company, so as a Southerner I should have been excited. However, while I do enjoy barbecue, I don’t eat filthy swine. I managed to grab a plate of food though, so all was not lost.

Mmmmm. Cole slaw.

No, I didn’t eat a barbecued pork sandwich. Yuck. Instead, I grabbed a bun, put a shitload of barbecue sauce on it (yummy), and had that for lunch. Hell, I had to eat something:

I don’t want anyone to think that I am shitting on the event promoters in any way, but I think that they could have done a better job overall. And no, I’m not bitter. They had me down for 6th place when I really finished 5th, but I am fine with that. If it had been a difference between 1st and 2nd place, it would be a whole different animal. The “official” results aren’t posted yet, but I’m sure it’s the same.

The guys of the Southern Virginia Mountain Bike Association should be very proud of the trail at Angler’s Ridge. It was fun, fast, flowy, and just technical enough to keep it challenging. I could tell from the trail condition that they do a lot of work up there to keep it nice. If you ever find yourself up in Danville, Virginia, then check it out. I’ll definitely do the Shootout On Anglers Ridge next year, and at least I’ll know what to expect. Until then, it’s back to the local scene, sans Tyler Durden.

“I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Virginia Is For Lovers

Well, sort of. I know that’s the official logo of Virginia and all, but I didn’t get any love from the trail during the Shootout On Anglers Ridge yesterday. Even though showing up to race on a course I’ve never ridden on is against my better judgement, I did it anyway. While it wasn’t disastrous by any means, it was a tough, tough day.

Lunchbox and I left the B-43 Compound at about 6:45 yesterday morning, headed to Danville, Virginia. My race started at 10:00, so I wanted to be there about an hour early so I could sign in and get a proper warm up. The warm up would never happen, due to reasons beyond my control. We arrived on the scene around 9:15 or so, and one of the kind volunteers directed me to park along the road. We got out of the truck and looked around, and it wasn’t real obvious as to where to sign in. There were official-looking tents everywhere, so we walked over to the one that housed the start/finish line.

When we got there, no one said a word to us. Luckily, I ran into one of my pals from our local Summer Series, and he told me where the registration area was. We walked up to the tent, and they asked for my name, USA Cycling license, and gave me my goodie bag. No instructions whatsoever. I headed over to the start/finish line and got ready to race.

With all of the time I wasted trying to find the registration area, I realized that I would get zero time to warm up. This was confirmed when I saw this Tyler Durden-acting guy walking around shouting instructions through a megaphone. You couldn’t really hear what he was saying, but you could tell he was trying his best to be authoritative. I was able to snap a picture of him after the race, since he continued to shout orders at us through the megaphone after it was all over.

So yeah, I was a little annoyed. Not a big deal I figured, since I had to do two laps. I would get good and warmed up on the first, and put the hammer down on the second. A brilliant strategy indeed. I saw a mass of racers gather around the start/finish line, so I headed over there. After trying my best to listen to the pre-race announcements (his incoherent babbling was difficult to understand), we all headed over to line up for the race. As the different classes were taking off, I strained to hear him call out who was up next. Finally, some guys in my group edged closer, and we all realized that we were getting ready to go. After the signal was given, we took off. Everyone took off pretty slowly on the paved road, and I wondered why. I decided to sprint a little bit to get up to the front of the pack.

I entered the trail in second place, with the rest of the pack close behind. I stayed on the wheel of the guy in front of me, and the guys behind me slowly started falling off. The pace wasn’t crazy at all; in fact it was manageable. Eventually the guy in front of me told me to pass him, so I obliged. Wow, I thought, I am in first place. All I had to do is keep up that steady speed and the race would be in the bag.

As the first two miles went on, the last few guys in the back of the pack were out of sight. Suddenly, out of nowhere, one guy in my class took it to me on a long climb. I was started to feel the effects of my non-warm up, so I gladly let him by. I would get him later, or so I thought. A few minutes later, another guy went by. We weren’t flying down the trail at all, but we were moving along rather quickly. I was in third place, but that all changed in an instant when yet another guy overtook me. The hills were starting to get to me at this point, but I tried not to let it affect me mentally. I was still within striking distance of the top three, so I still wasn’t worried.

When we approached mile marker 3.5, I knew I was in big trouble. My legs didn’t want to work properly (thanks to a ride the day before), and my breathing was horrible. It was hotter than Satan's ass crack out there (95 degrees), so the heat was wearing me down as well. Another rider went by me like I was standing still (I almost was), so now I was in 5th place. First through third were long gone by now, so my only hope was to recover during the rest of the lap so I could catch up. I watched as fourth place disappeared into the distance.

I maintained my 5th place throughout the rest of the lap, but I wasn’t getting any faster. When I hit the ½ mile to go marker, I shifted into the big ring and let ‘er fly. I crossed the start/finish line after about an hour, and I found Lunchbox waiting for me with a fresh water bottle full of Cytomax for my refueling pleasure. The exchange took less than three seconds, and I was on my way.
Since I’m a little long-winded today, I’ll stop here. Tomorrow’s episode will be the conclusion of the Shootout On Anglers Ridge (my version anyway), along with a course review and a summary. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Sure it does. I like to keep you in suspense, so why ruin it?