Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Snow Birds

As you can see from the frost on Little Miss Sunshine’s vehicle, it was “ice cold” in Charlotte over the Thanksgiving holiday. We decided to get the flock outta town and fly south to the Forks Area Trail System (FATS) down near Augusta, Georgia to get away from the cold and ride some sweet flowy singletrack. This would be Mr. Shepherd’s first time on that particular trail, so he was looking forward to it. We got all geared up and hit the trail.

We started on the first loop, Great Wall, and it lived up to the hype. Plenty of fast, rolling downhill, and Mr. Shepherd was enjoying it. Well, that is until he crashed. I have footage from my GoPro of the crash, but I’m not finished editing it. A small log crossing surprised him, and he crashed ever so spectacularly. He hopped back up and we were on our way.

About three and a half miles in though, we had another incident. While traveling along a great speed, I slowed to take tight corner, and squeezed my bike between two trees. Mr. Shepherd was right on my tail, and he wasn’t so lucky.

He hit that tree square on, and escaped with only a few scrapes and cuts.

His bike didn’t fare so well though.

The impact bent the shit outta the chainrings and broke the drive side crank arm near one of the bolts.

With over four miles to go to the trailhead, we had a dilemma. Since Mr. Shepherd didn’t want to walk the whole way out, some improvisational repairs needed to be made. Since we had no fancy tools, it had to be done all “caveman” style.

Somehow those primitive tools worked, and the chainrings were sorta straight.

We started riding again, but it wasn’t long before the full extent of the crash damage was discovered. We had to stop for a looksie.

The damn rear derailleur broke in half.

It was time for another repair. Since his shifty bits were toast, we had to improvise. I pulled out my trusty chain tool and proceeded to turn his bike into a singlespeed.

I was riding my SS bike out there, so I welcomed the company. We discovered one more problem though: the chain had been damaged. I shortened it as best I could, and we got going again. I was happy to be riding, because I sure as hell didn’t plan on spending the whole day working on bikes. There was no beer on the side of the trail, so that made it difficult.

We enjoyed some more flowy goodness.

Not much later, Mr. Shepherd had to stop again. This time, the chain broke in half. It was damaged in multiple places, so fixing it was pretty much impossible. Since he’s a triathlete, he took the opportunity to work on his trail running.

After a painful few miles of Fred Flintstone style trail riding, we made it back to the trailhead. I brought up The Google on my smartphone, and we found a few area bike shops. It took the rest of the day to round up the replacement parts, so our riding was done. We had a few beers and some dinner, then headed back to Charlotte for some late-night mechanic work. At least this time we had the proper tools.

I should have the video of the actual ride finished by tomorrow, so I’ll post it up on here. I’m warning you though, it’s probably not that great (just like the rest of my videos.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cold Turkey

While most people hung around the house on Thanksgiving morning preparing meals large enough to feed a small country, we made other plans (we actually had a turkey dinner with all the fixins the night before.) We picked up Mr. Shepherd in the morning, and headed up to the mountains for some Turkey Day singletrack. First though, we grabbed some lunchtime grub at a local supermarket. That place was full of folks doing their last minute meal shopping for the big dinner, and some of them went all out in the wardrobe department.

You couldn’t see it from this angle, but his pants said “Sexy” down the side. Wow.

Anyway, the plan was to ride Dark Mountain. We had plenty of reasons to be thankful, and mountain biking was one of them. Our merry little crew of myself, Mr. Shepherd, Little Miss Sunshine, and Lunchbox hit the trail on a chilly Thanksgiving morning.

Mr. Shepherd was happy to be riding back in North Carolina.

Little Miss Sunshine got to ride her Niner on those trails for the first time, and she loved it.

Dark Mountain is one of Lunchbox’s favorite places to ride, and he’s always glad to tag along when we go.

The trail was in good shape, even though there had been some rain in the area. There were quite a bit of leaves covering the singletrack though, so we made a few wrong turns here and there. Even though I was just there a week before, I had trouble finding my way around. Dumbass.

After realizing that we took one wrong turn that made us miss out on some trail, we decided to loop back around to hit it. Little Miss Sunshine decided to wait for us so she wouldn’t get lost.

We took off on our loop, and had a good time. There was a little bit of climbing in that section, but the super fast downhill action made it all worth it. When we finally made it back to the meeting point, Little Miss Sunshine was waiting to take photographs.

She captured me in “action.”

Followed by Mr. Shepherd:

And Lunchbox was running sweep:

After riding on the mountain for a while, we couldn’t wait to hit the very last section. It’s full of whoop de doos, jumps, and hella fast downhill shit. Before that though, Mr. Shepherd wanted to play on the rocks.

After that downhill section, we were dumped out onto the field by the lake. The sun was starting to go down on a great day of riding.

On the way home, the sun was barely visible over Lake Norman.

It was time for a feast, and feast we did. We had to replenish those calories we expended, right? The wife prepared a nice meal, and we ate, drank beer and wine, and reminisced about our ride. We also started planning the next day’s adventure, which would involve another road trip…this time with the Dirty Party Cycle. I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

We Got Right To It

I told y’all last Friday that Mr. Shepherd was here. Instead of waiting until Turkey Day to ride, I met my good pal at one of our local trails for some night riding. This would be his first time on the trail in the dark, or so I thought.

While he was waiting for me to get to the trail, he decided to take a ride. The first lap was pretty normal I guess, but since the darkness was fast approaching (and I had all the lights in my possession), he had to take lap number two “Jedi Style” in the dark. He said it was pretty fun, so now I’m a little intrigued. I may just have to turn off my lights the next time I hit the trail in the dark. I’m down for some Jedi action.

Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things. Well Yoda, I do. I’m reckless.

Anyway, I finally arrived at the trail. We put the extra light set on Mr. Shepherd’s bike and helmet, and we were ready to hit the trail. Instead of taking it easy on the first-time night rider, I took off a little fast. I didn’t go all out, but I wanted him to experience night riding “at speed.” We stopped a few times to keep it social and such, and he looked like he was having a good time.

The trail was a little greasy, and leaves covered the trail in a lot of places. Nevertheless, it was very fun. I love riding at night. I have to say that night riding is one of the only good things about this time of year. It gets dark way too early, but that does give me lots of time for riding in the dark. I can get used to that.

A nice little ride indeed, and Mr. Shepherd got to experience riding in the dark on the trail (with lights.) He seemed to enjoy it, but I wish we had more time to ride. Since we hadn’t seen each other in a while, we headed down to a local shopping establishment to grab some grub and a few beers. We used this time to plan the rest of our cycling adventures.

I’ll use the rest of the blog week to fill y’all in. I surely can’t spill the beans all at once. What the hell else will I talk about for the rest of the week?

I got some videos, some photos, and some crash action that changed our plans.

And of course there was beer.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Boys Are Back In Town

Well, one of them anyway. After a bit of a hiatus, Mr. Shepherd is back in North Carolina. I haven’t seen him since the last time I went to Florida, so it’s nice to have him up this way.

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, this is my last day here for the week. Thanksgiving isn’t just time for stuffing yourself and watching football. In fact, I don’t plan on doing either of those things. We had a discussion about what we should do when the old gang gets back together.

I was just sitting there drinking my coffee, eating my muffin, when I had what alcoholics refer to as a “moment of clarity.”

“We should ride fucking bicycles”, I said. “A lot. In fact, we should ride bicycles so much that other people who ride bicycles will see that we are bad motherfuckers.”

So ride bikes it is.

His stay here won’t be long, so as usual we will cram as much shit as we can into a short period of time. First up is a Turkey Day ride, followed by some kind of food (it probably won’t be Turkey, by the way.)

Friday will be a road trip, and we haven’t completely decided where. We have a few places in mind, but probably won’t decide until that morning. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos, and maybe some video.

Saturday morning, Mr. Shepherd is heading back down to the Sunshine State with the Dirty Party Cycle. The DPC decided on a vacation down that way, so Mr. Shepherd is hitching a ride. I should join them, but I think I’ll work on my neighborhood trail instead. I’ll probably get down there in the summer or something. I have a lot of travel plans for next year, and one of these days I’ll talk about them (including a trip this summer to the great white north.) For now it’s time for me to get the hell outta here.

Happy Thanksgiving, and I'll see y’all Monday.

*If you were offended by my use of the “f” word, then you are obviously not from around here. You must be from the country called What, but What ain’t no country I ever heard of. Do they speak English in What?


English motherfucker.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


After getting in a decent ride on Friday, I pretty much had all day Saturday to do some things around the house. Of course, those things involved bike stuff. First thing was to get rid of the shitty headset on my singlespeed bike.

Since I needed to take my geared bike apart for some maintenance, I took the Cane Creek headset off of it and put in on my SS.

Even with a blurry photo, it still looked better.

Notice the Bike29 bottle opener on the headset spacer stack. I took it off a while back and misplaced it somehow. Just as I was about to give up and ask for another one, I found it. You can get one for yourself here.

After cleaning and re greasing everything on The Big O, I put it back together…with my brand new 110 headset. The red really looks nice against the black frame.

After a quick tune-up, I was back in business. A clean bike is a happy bike.

Oops, I forgot to put my Awesome Strap back on the seatpost before I took the photo. Blasphemy. I can assure you it went right back on though.

I did add one more accessory though:

Yes, Lord Vader will now accompany me on my rides.

All that work actually didn’t take very long, so I grabbed some tools and rode over to my new “secret” trail for some work.

I had a few more sections planned out, so I got busy building trail.

Lunchbox rode over with me, and we got a lot done. I rerouted one section that I didn’t feel flowed very well, and we tested it out. We also used a downed tree to make a little rollover/jump. Lunchbox drew the shortest straw and ended up with the honor of testing our very first trail feature.

It didn’t move at all, probably because we packed it full of dirt for support. We even hit at full speed, and it makes for a nice jump. There is plenty of space to land on either side (the trail is designed to be ridden both directions.) We have several of these planned for the next phase too.

We spent about three hours on Saturday, and I went back Sunday morning to do a little bit more. I cut one more section of trail, and we will go back this weekend to put in some features. We’re even thinking about a ladder drop and a skinny. Basically we’ll cram as much shit as we can in our little neighborhood trail.

The trail is coming along nicely, and I’m really surprised at how well it rides. The Dirty Party Cycle even got in a ride, and he liked what he saw. We have our own little playground near the house, and it will only get better. Well, until something else comes along and grabs my attention. Hopefully I can keep up the excitement and stick to this.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Celebrated My Way

With a day all to myself, I decided to head to Wilkesboro, NC for some riding on Friday. Sitting at the edge of the mountains, the trails out there are challenging enough to ride all day, but it wasn’t so far away that I felt like I would need to cut anything short. I could have my own little happy day. There was only one problem though…it was cold as shit.

I slept in a little since it was below freezing when I woke up, so that cut into my riding time. I’m not used to riding in the cold yet this season, so the small wait would do me a little good. I still had to scrape a little ice off my windshield though.

When I got there, it was still freaking cold. Since I went up in elevation a bit, I should have known that would be the case. It was around forty degrees, which I figured I could deal with. I put on a long sleeve base layer, arm warmers, and my long sleeve Cane Creek jersey (it’s warm and fuzzy inside.) On the bottom I went with shorts, leg warmers, wool socks and shoe covers. I was warm, but I felt like I overdressed. I headed over the dam to the trailhead for Dark Mountain.

Since I was trying to get close to forty miles for the day, I took off nice and slow. I wanted to conserve my energy for a long day in the saddle. The first few climbs hurt, but eventually I started to warm up and get my legs going. The trail was in good shape, except for the leaves everywhere. It was hard to follow sometimes.

Dark Mountain was fun as always, and I felt pretty good out there. Even though I was wearing a ton of clothing, I still didn’t get too warm. I headed over to the trailhead for the Overmountain Victory Trail (OVT.)

OVT is fun and fast, with a lot of ups, downs, twists and turns. There weren’t as many leaves on the trail, so I was able to haul ass. Well, until I almost hit a tree.

There was a pretty good-sized tree blocking the trail, and I was going pretty fast when I saw it. I found a way around it, and continued on my way. After riding the six mile trail (plus the two and a half mile loop off of it), I reached the end. I still had quite a ways to go on my journey, but I took the opportunity to take a break and refuel.

Now it was time for a small ride to the trail at Warrior Creek. They don’t connect through the woods, so you have to ride on the road a bit to get to the entrance. It was a nice break I guess.

All of a sudden, I saw a sign.

Uh, I mean I heard something. On the way to Warrior Creek, I started hearing gunshots. Not just one here and there, but a lot. As in, lots of people in the woods shooting guns lots of times.

Then I remembered seeing this sign earlier:

After thinking about it, I decided that I would be better off skipping Warrior Creek. With all the clothing I had on, it still wouldn’t be enough to stop a misguided bullet from a misguided hunter. I don’t usually ride in a bulletproof vest, so it would be in my best interest to turn around and head back. I would be nuttier than a squirrel turd if I rode any further.

I wasn’t really disappointed, since I still got in plenty of mileage. I only saw one other person out on the trail, so I was pretty much alone (other than the firing range action.) That’s exactly how I wanted to spend my day in the woods. I like riding with other people, but some days I just want to be all by myself. It was just what I needed on my birthday. Well, that and a nice hoppy beverage.