Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fifteen Years

Is a long time. Especially when you look back and see what’s been going on. The last fifteen years have been awesome though, and I’ll tell you why. Today is a special day to me. It’s the day when Lunchbox made his debut in this world. Fifteen years ago, I became a dad, and I am really proud of that. Lunchbox (a.k.a. Isaiah) is a great kid, and he’s been through it all with me. Good, bad, and ugly, he’s always been my right hand man. I am thankful for such a great son.

We do everything together, and it’s been like that since he was little. I’m taking it easy today, and pretty much making this one all about Lunchbox. Sorry, I don’t have any embarrassing baby photos or anything. Just the latest stuff I guess.

Happy Birthday, son.

See y’all tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

So Close, But It Seemed So Far Away

Saturday, I went to one of my favorite places to visit in the state, the Uwharrie National Forest. I wasn’t there for pleasure though.

Photo cred: Space Cowboy

Yes, I volunteered my time and first aid skills to the Rivers Edge Mountain Bike Marathon. While a hurricane churned out on the coast, we weren’t really affected. The sky at my house looked pretty cool though:

Anyway, the racers gathered around, getting ready to ride for fifty miles in one of the toughest places around here. Lots of climbing, lots of sharp rocks, and plenty of fun downhill. Everyone paid attention to the promoter when he talked about the race course:

“Bigfoot is over that way, so make sure you stay on the course.”

The rest of the crowd was stunned when they heard about the North Carolina Bigfoot:

The Space Cowboy didn’t give a shit though, since he isn’t scared of anything. Well, unless you count butterflies and women’s lingerie.

Even my “usually sleeps ‘til noon” teenager was there.

Lunchbox had never ridden Uwharrie before, so I made it a point to drag him out on the trail during the race. First though, we waited for everyone to get out the first lap so we wouldn’t get in the way. Here are a few of my racing pals:

My buddy Daniel would later regret riding a fully-rigid singlespeed out there.

I kinda got a photo of the MadSS, but I pulled the trigger too late.

After everyone started spreading out, Lunchbox and I got out on the trail. We climbed, we descended, and we wore ourselves out. We stopped quite a bit to let other riders go by, and we cheered for them too. I was out on the trail to make sure everyone stayed safe, and also to help anyone that got hurt during the race. That didn’t mean I couldn’t have fun though.

We rode the whole course, and ran into a few friends along the way. The only assistance I had to provide was to a fellow “casual rider.” No one got hurt out there, or if they did it wasn’t bad enough to require my help. I think Little Miss Sunshine put a band aid on one dude’s leg, so she wasn’t busy either. For such a tough race course, I’m really surprised that it wasn’t worse. I’ll take it though.

I love Uwharrie. The trails are tough, yet fun. I realized on Saturday that I just don’t ride out there enough. That will change though. So what if Bigfoot lives out there. He didn’t show up during the race, even though someone setup a nice table full of goodies for him.

I know he’s out there in the forest though, and I’ll keep my eyes peeled the next time I head over that way.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Much Better Than Racing

If you’ve been here for a while, then you’ve heard it before. Taking kids out to ride bikes is the best thing I do. Yesterday was another installment of the Tarheel Trailblazers Kids Ride, and I was glad to get back to it. I wear a lot of hats in the cycling community I guess. Vice President of my local mountain biking club, director of the local chapter of the National Mountain Bike Patrol, pretend roadie, pathetic racer, and even more pathetic blogger. The one of which I am the most proud is Kids Ride coordinator. Getting the youngin’s out on the trail is my greatest accomplishment. It doesn’t make me special or anything, but it makes me happy.

Yesterday we arrived at one of our most popular trails, Sherman Branch, and waited for the kids to arrive. Since the hurricane had no affect on us here locally (but did affect several of my friends and family), the ride was a go. It was one of the nicest days we’ve had around here in a long time, and I was looking forward to a big turnout. I wasn’t disappointed, because lots of little ones showed up to ride. Y’all know I don’t care for long, wordy posts on Mondays, so I’ll get right to the photos.

Here’s Lunchbox hitting one of the jumps out there:

And the rest of the kids (and grown-ups):

And of course a little “regular” trail time:

Little Miss Sunshine was there too:

We took a few breaks just to catch up and keep things fun:

Then it was back to the trail:

We had a blast. After the ride, we had the usual drinks and cookies, and all the kids were pretty worn out. They had fun, and I think I had just as much fun watching them have fun. Now that my race season is pretty much over, we can have quite a few more of these Kids Rides before winter shows up. Weather always plays a part in these rides, but I’m glad it didn’t hurt us yesterday. With a hurricane out there threatening us, I was a little worried that we might not get to ride. Irene left us alone, so I got lots of bike time in over the weekend. I’ll be back tomorrow with some more cycling crap and nonsense. You can bet on that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Have Plans For This Weekend

But a hurricane might fuck up my shit.

After pretty much taking it easy this week, I’m ready to get back in the saddle again. Lots and lots of miles. Some tough, some easy. Some fast, some slow. Some mountain, some road. Pretty much whatever I feel like.

Saturday is supposed to be the Rivers Edge Mountain Bike Marathon at the Uwharrie National Forest. Before you get your panties in a wad, I’ll tell you right now I’m not racing it. I thought about it though. The event was originally scheduled to take place at the U.S. National Whitewater Center (no link on purpose, by the way), but it had to be moved to Uwharrie. I didn’t really see the fun of riding fifty miles around a place that I’ve ridden a ton already, so I decided not to “compete.” I did however offer my volunteer first aid services to the promoter, and he gladly accepted. The race changed locations after that though, but I had already offered to volunteer. I think I would actually enjoy racing at Uwharrie for fifty miles, so maybe I’ll do it next year.

That should take up my whole Saturday, unless of course Irene drops a shit storm on us. It’s looking like we may dodge the bullet, but you never can tell for sure. Back in 2004 when I lived in Florida, we had four hurricanes hit us within the span of a couple weeks. The last one (Jeanne), took a turn out to sea and everyone thought it wouldn’t hit us. That changed though, when it turned right around and headed back towards us. As a native down there, I found it kind of funny. Most of the people that weren’t actually from there were scared shitless though. So, I guess you can never know for sure what will happen. We’ll probably be okay here so far inland, but we could still get some rain. That could mess up my plans.

Sunday is my regularly-schedule road ride at Bike Line, and I’m looking forward to getting back in the groove. The ride is on as long as it isn’t raining that morning, so at worst I could be riding on wet roads. I don’t mind that at all. At least it’s riding I guess.

We have one more event scheduled for Sunday afternoon, but I don’t want to mention it for fear of jinxing it. If it didn’t rain, and the trails aren’t closed, I should have a full report on Monday. It’s tough to plan all this stuff and be at the mercy of the weather, but I guess that’s what we all go through.

I’m trying, Ringo.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Have Nothing Right Now

Well, other than a shitload of beer. I mean, I don’t really have a lot to say. That doesn’t usually stop me from posting up here every day, so let’s see where this takes us. I’ve been spending a little time taking care of some odds and ends. You know, housekeeping stuff.

No, not that kind of housekeeping. I mean that I’ve been doing a little bike work. After tons of racing, I had a few things to address. A squeaking bottom bracket, loose-ish headset, adding Stan’s to my tires, and all sorts of other general maintenance. I figured that this would be the perfect time to pull apart my bike and give it the once over. Nothing real bad, although it could be if I let it go on too much longer. After spending a little time on The Big O, I got everything ship shape. I then moved on to the road bike, which will probably start seeing a little more use in the coming weeks. After a quick tune up, I realized that I never mentioned yet another “upgrade.”

Yes, after riding my road bike with mountain pedals and shoes, I finally got some “real” road pedals. They are certainly entry level, and that’s fine by me. Of course I had to get some shoes to work with the new pedals.

I went with the Mavic Peloton, which looked pretty similar to my mountain shoes. I figured they would fit the same why, and I like not having to make a big adjustment when I get something new. They fit just like I thought they would.

Notice the hairy legs. For those of you that think I’m getting too serious about this roadie shit, you’re wrong. I won’t shave my legs, because that’s well, wrong. Well, unless I do what George did.

Anyway, leg shaving aside, I have noticed a difference when I ride with the new shoes and pedals. I feel like I have more power, and it is definitely more comfortable. I have a regular roadie group ride this weekend, so I’ll see if there is any improvement. Should be fun.

Since I didn’t really give you much in the way of entertainment today, I’ll share a video of some of my favorite things (besides beer and bikes): Family Guy and Star Wars.

See y’all tomorrow, with better stuff I hope.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where To Go From Here

Yes, my mountain unicycle ride caused the big earthquake yesterday.

With my biggest races of the season out of the way, I’m trying to figure out what to do next. At the beginning of the year I mapped out a course and well, I have reached my destination. I’m pretty happy with my second place overall finish in the Southern Classic Series, although I know that there’s much room for improvement. I guess I could start the improvement process now, but I’d rather kick back and take it easy for a little while.

I gave it all I had, whatever the hell that was. I didn’t really spend any time training for the season, which is pretty normal for me. I don’t get paid to do this stuff, so when I go out for a ride I like it to be fun. Some days it may look like training, but trust me it’s not. I ride bikes because I like to have fun, and that’s pretty much the main reason. This season though, I’ve seen a lot of improvement. That almost makes me want to take things a little more seriously.

Looking back on the Southern Classic Series, I did a lot better than I thought I would. Out of the twelve races in the series, I only missed two. Out of the ten I attended, I DNF’d once (due to a mechanical.) Out of the nine I actually finished, only one of those was below the top ten (11th to be exact.) I got on the podium for three of those. You can see why I am pretty happy with how things turned out.

The only issue I had was the long break in the series. We basically had a month off, and I didn’t race at all during that time. I went on vacation, drank lots of beer, and just rode whenever I felt like it or had time. I had planned on doing some local races to keep me tuned up, but I never did. Maybe I needed a break. Who knows.

While my “season” isn’t officially over, there’s just not too much out there that I want to do. The only thing I have planned is the Tree Shaker, which isn’t until October. Instead of riding solo for twelve hours like I did last year, I’ve decided to team up with The Dirty Party Cycle. I’ve already proven to myself that I can ride for twelve hours all by lonesome, so maybe the DPC and I can do some damage out there as a duo. We’ll ride lots of laps and drink lots of beer between laps. I’ve already started training for the latter half.

There aren’t really any other big events around that I feel like doing (and that don’t involve a long drive or a hotel stay.) I had considered joining forces with the Chili Man and participating in the Urban Assault Ride, but I’m having second thoughts about coughing up the cash for it. After traveling all over the Southeast and spending tons of dough on race entry fees, I probably should back off a bit. Maybe next year.

I know one thing: I should figure out something quick or else it’s gonna get really boring around here. I only have so many Star Wars photos in my collection before I have to start reusing them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Twice As Good

My race was not in the shitter…yet.

I was a little wordy with yesterday’s post, so that’s why I spread it out over two days. Most people start tuning out when they have to read a lot of words, and well, I had a lot of words. There’s really no excuse for spreading out a report for a two hour cross country race over two days, but I did it anyway. Who gives a shit.

Anyway, when I saw D-Wayne on the side of the trail, I knew something was wrong. I asked if he was okay, and he said he had flatted. I felt bad, but I was going too fast on the downhill stuff to even throw him a spare tube. I thought he would be okay, and be right back in the race in no time. Meanwhile, I realized that I had moved into third place.

I exited the trail and hit the parking lot, and put in into the highest gear on my 1X9 setup. I rode as hard as I could around the empty field to the start/finish line, hoping I could put a big enough gap between D-Wayne and David when the time came for me to climb again. I felt great. In fact, I felt awesome. When I started back towards the trail, I didn’t see anyone in my class coming out of the woods. Could I hold onto this monster pace? I would definitely try.

I blasted as hard as I could up the climbs, and felt much stronger than I did on lap one. I had plenty of power, and when I got out of breath I recovered quickly. The only problem I had was that I kept looking over my shoulder for the other guys. I had a few near misses with trees, and even one direct hit. A tree branch stabbed me in the shoulder, putting a small tear in my Bike29 kit. I was a little pissed, but at least I didn’t crash. I was moving along quite fast at that point too.

I saw one rider up ahead of me, so I gunned it. When I got on his wheel, I noticed that he wasn’t in my class. I nearly rode up his ass on the downhill stuff, so I passed him on the very next climb. He tried to stick with me, but I wasn’t having it. I had my sights set on catching the leaders, and I felt like I could actually do it. I was bombing the downhill stuff like some kind of mad man, and I climbed like I have never climbed before. I didn’t know what kind of lead they had on me, but I thought I could still get them.

Every once in a while I would slow down and start thinking I could settle for third place. That didn’t last long though, because I would get pretty pissed off at myself and start yelling. That was enough motivation to keep me pushing, and I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. I would finish this race in a respectable position, or die trying. I left it all out on the trail that day.

I approached the final downhill section, and I didn’t see anyone up ahead. There weren’t any racers behind me either, but I poured it on even more just in case. Once again, when I exited the singletrack I hauled ass, and almost plowed into a few riders warming up for the next race. I crossed the finish line in third place, and I was satisfied with my efforts.

When the time came for the awards, there was no podium. I just collected my medal and my prizes, and walked away. That’s too bad, because I even dressed up for the occasion.

Little Miss Sunshine made sure to iron my kilt all nice and neat for my big podium presentation, but I had to settle for a “regular” photo.

The fun didn’t stop there though.

I’ve been racing in this series since June, and my goal was a top ten overall finish. I was in third place overall before the final race, and I had quite a bit of work to do to move up. When the final results were tallied though, I found out that my third place finish was more than enough to move me up a place. So, I headed back to pickup yet another medal (and a few more prizes.)

Just in case you needed a close-up of my medals and wanted to know who I was representing, Lunchbox took this photo:

Yes, I did it all for you, George (and my millions of fans on the Internets.)

I usually only get a podium finish once a year, but this time I got two in the same day. The race was a hard-fought battle (and so was the series), and I did better than expected. It was time to get out of the mountains, and get back to “normal.”

Normal doesn't usually involve me wearing a kilt, but I should start doing it all the time. I'm dead sexy in it anyway.