Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All Day Long

You see, it’s not always about me around here. Mostly, but not always. The rest of the family got out and raced again on Sunday, and it looks like they had a blast. Little Miss Sunshine started the day off with a 10:00 race, and she felt pretty good. She took off with the group, and it looked like she was pacing herself (most likely to keep from breaking my heart rate record.) She hit the trail fast, and Lunchbox was out there to capture the action.

She was really giving it her all after a while, as you can see in this photo:

Six laps later, it was over. She raced hard, and didn’t feel like poo afterwards. With a solid 10th place finish, she did well out there. For someone that doesn’t normally race, she is getting pretty good at it…and fast. I see this season being a really good one for her.

I raced next, but I already talked about that. I did find a really cool picture though that makes me look like I’m riding a really tiny bike.

Photo credit: Alex Hawn

Anyway, Lunchbox was up next. I didn’t pressure him to get out there, either. He wanted to get out and see what he could do on the trail. Initially he wanted to race in the Clydesdale class with me (he’s like 215 lbs), but he decided to stick to the Junior class and “compete” against the small, frail, racer children out there.

He took off, fighting for position. I think he got into the woods around 6th, and held on for the ride.

His goal was to at least beat someone, so he pushed as hard as he could and tried to keep the group in sight. He kept a great pace, and didn’t really slow down too much over the course of the race. On one lap though, I waited for him to come by so I could get a photo. One of the “too fast for Juniors” racers tried to make a pass on a not-so-skilled rider, and caused a bit of a pile up. Lunchbox got caught up in it, and it knocked him back off the pack a bit. He got going again, and I got my photo.

I sprinted up the trail, hoping to catch him on the fire road climb. He was struggling to catch his breath a little, but he was riding strong.

One lap to go, and he was almost there. Alex Hawn was there to capture his photo again (along with providing a kick-ass cheering section) as he climbed over the rock garden.

He crossed the finish line in 13th place, which coincidentally is his lucky number. He also made his goal of beating someone, so he was pretty happy. I bet he’ll be up for a race this weekend too.

That’s it for today. Once again I’ve gone on too long, and I can’t blow it all at once. I’ll be back tomorrow with most likely will be a recap of my single speed “race.”


Monday, January 30, 2012

Do Or Die

I’m getting ahead of myself…sorry.

I was pretty worried about race number three in the 2012 Winter Short Track Series, since I had no idea how my knee would hold up under race conditions. Since I had knee issues, I couldn’t really ride very much during the week either. I wondered if I could even compete at all. Turns out this race was better than I expected.

I felt great before the start, and decided that I would push it as hard as I could. For the first time ever in a race, I wore my heart rate monitor. I was always afraid of what I would see, but this time I figured why not. Turns out I would be surprised.

When we took off, I fought hard to get up front. I entered the single track in second place, and pushed hard to stay with the leader. The pack was pretty close together, and I would have to keep this fast pace to remain competitive. When I hit the climb out, I was feeling the effects of riding so hard. A couple of guys went by me on the fire road, and for the first time I glanced down at the display on the heart rate monitor. It read 191. Holy shit, I’m gonna die (I’ve never seen it that high before.)

As I crossed the line and headed out for lap two I was still moving fast. I couldn’t afford to take it easy to slow down my heart rate, so I pushed it even harder and tried to recover a little bit on the downhill.

Photo credit: Lunchbox

I was fighting to keep from getting dropped, and I knew that some guys were gunning for me. Mr. Ryde caught up to me on the fire road, and went right on by. I tried my best to stay with him, and I told myself I wasn’t about to let him out of my sight. I yelled to him that my heart rate was 191 (still), and I wondered how the hell I could keep this up. I stayed with him on the next lap, and decided I would catch him again on the fireroad even if it killed me. Meanwhile Lunchbox was still snapping photos.

When I hit the fireroad I made my move. I pushed as hard as I could possibly push, and I looked down again to check my heart rate. This time it read 193. Looks like I found my new max heart rate. I mashed by Mr. Ryde and left him way back somehow.

I crossed the start/finish line, rounded the corner in the parking lot, and saw that I was being hunted down. Mr. Ryde, Rodney B., Big John, and local bike shop owner Mark were making their move to catch me, so I made the decision to put it all out there. I took off as fast as I could, hoping to put a big gap between us.

My heart rate never got higher than 193, but it also never went below 180 the whole race. Eventually I saw no one in my class behind me, and I had just passed another guy in my group. When it was announced that we had one lap to go, I gave it everything I had left. I was having fun, even while maxing out my heart rate again.

I climbed up the fire road as fast as I could, constantly checking behind me to see if anyone had caught back up. I was all alone as I crossed the finish line, and I felt like my heart was gonna explode. Later when I checked the results, I found out that I had finished in a respectable 4th place. In fact, I had surpassed my personal best for a lap time out there, turning a 3:40 on one of my laps. I almost died to get it, but it was worth it.

I gave it my best effort, and ran my fastest time. I had no issues at all with my knee, and my fitness seemed to be just fine. Hopefully I can do the same thing next week.

It was a good day for racing. Little Miss Sunshine raced, and so did Lunchbox. I even decided to go back out on the single speed to wear out whatever legs I had left. More on that stuff tomorrow.

I’m tired.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back In Action

Photo credit: Alex Hawn

I’m ready. Well, sort of. After trying my best to get the old rusty knee back to normal, I think I can go out and race on Sunday. I’ve been riding a little, but nothing difficult or extreme. I’ve been working on powering up climbs to strengthen my legs, and it seems to be okay now. My bike fitness on the other hand, probably isn’t. I was afraid to do anything that would knock me off the healing train, so my rides have been of minimal effort.

I’ll probably look like this out there on Sunday:

Another photo by Alex

At least I had a cheering section. I damn sure needed it.

For those of you that are gunning for me in the next race, have at it. I’ll give it my best, and barring any further injury I may just be able to keep up. My fitness has taken a small hit, but it wasn’t that good to begin with. Come on out and give me a run for my money. I’ll try to make you work for it. I’m not promising anything, but you have been warned.

So yeah, it’s race weekend once again. If my knee holds up during the first race, then I’ll definitely line up in the single speed class again. I’ll need all the training I can get, because the real season starts in a little over a month. I’ll ramp up my training and try to get lots and lots of miles in. I’ll see if I can get Mr. Ryde and Big Tater to join me on the Uwharrie trails for some “training.” I bet I can get them to show up if I bring some beer.

Speaking of beer, I tasted a small sample of my new IPA (that’s still in the fermenter by the way.) While it’s nowhere near ready to consume, it does have some characteristics of beer. It’s definitely hoppy and bitter, and it just might turn out okay. I estimate that I still have about four days or so left in the fermentation process, at which time I’ll take another sample and go from there. I can’t wait to try my new IPA. If you actually know me (not just on the Internets), then you may get a sample of your very own. That is if it comes out alright.

See y’all Monday with a race report or something that resembles one.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

If You Wish Hard Enough

All your wildest dreams will come true.

Actually, my Grandma always told me to wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up faster. That is far better logic in my opinion.

Anyway, back when I was talking about the Southern Classic Series schedule, I mentioned that I was disappointed that the race in Sanford was replacing the Uwharrie one again this year. I really wanted to “race” at Uwharrie, and I wondered why they couldn’t hold it there this year.

Well, it looks like I got what I wanted, since this has been added to the calendar:

Uwharrie, Troy, NC - June 10th

Oh hell yes. I'm so glad they added this race to the schedule. When the Winter Series is over, I planned to do most of my “training rides” at Uwharrie anyway, just for the difficulty factor. The local trails here don’t give me much of a challenge, so I plan to only ride them whenever I don’t have time to get outta town. Uwharrie is hella fun anyway, and if I ride my single speed out there I can double the pain. Oh joy.

In other news, the jury is still out on my new seat.

It’s okay so far, but it’s not exactly like the Silverado that I had on there (and moved over to my SS bike.) It doesn’t flare up in the back like the Silverado, so it is taking some getting used to. Hopefully I will dig it, and not have to get another new seat. At least I got it on the cheap though, and it does match my geared bike. That’s what’s important, you know.

The weather around here has cleared up a bit, but it probably won’t last long. Rain is in the forecast again for late tonight/tomorrow, but hopefully the short track will dry out before Sunday. I’m ready to ride again, and my knee is feeling much better. Little Miss Sunshine noticed George’s comment a few days ago about getting a foam roller, so she’s been leaving hers out for me to use. That, combined with stretching and some body-weight squats, has left my knee feeling almost normal. I’ve even been able to get out on the SS bike on my local trail, Captain Jim Bob’s Space Adventure. I no longer have pain when I mash on the climbs, so I should be okay. Screw that going to the doctor shit. Internet advice is the only way to go.

I have a pretty cool announcement coming up, but I’ll save it for next week. Let’s just say that I get to help with something here locally that’s pretty cool. And yes, it’s about bikes. See y’all tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nothing Else To Do Right Now

Since the weather has been shitty and I haven’t been riding as much as I want to, I’ve turned to something I haven’t done in a long time. Brewing beer. I was on a brewing kick for a while, but stopped because I lost my mojo. My last batch was an attempt at an IPA (I’d only done pale ales up to that point), and it turned out pretty awful. I had an issue with the carbonation (and who knows what else), so the beer didn’t come out good at all. Out of 16 bottles, I think only about three of them were any good. My confidence in brewing took a hit, and I put my beer-making supplies away for a while. Now I was ready to try it again.

Instead of trying something easy to get me back into the swing of things, I decided to go all out and try another IPA. First though, I had to get the bottles ready.

Cleaning and sanitizing everything is a crucial step when brewing beer, so I made sure to take care of the bottles first. When it comes time to bottle, I don’t want to half-ass it because I’m pressed for time. When the bottles were all clean (the hardest part in my opinion), it was time to make the beer.

I started the boil, adding Cascade hops to it immediately. I continued to add hops to the boil over time, to give the beer bitterness, aroma, and flavor. I have a schedule for this but I’m not telling. It’s my little secret, but you can probably find out stuff like this on the Internets if you want to. There’s plenty of info out there.

I do love me some Cascade hops though.

I sniffed the empty bag for a while so I could get high off of hops. Pathetic.

I added the rest of the ingredients, which creates the wort (young beer for those of you not in the know.) After that it’s time to put everything in the fermenter and add the yeast.

While the yeast eats the sugar, the alcohol is created (blah blah blah and so forth.) It will take a little while, and then I may dry hop it to add a little more aroma and flavor. I haven’t decided for sure if I want to do that though. I like super bitter, hoppy beer, so I’m hoping that this batch comes out okay (even if I decide not to dry hop.) Every time I brew it’s like a game of chance, but I took notes on the last batch and used those to figure out where I went wrong. I did everything exactly like I was supposed to do, so if I don’t screw up the bottling process I should have a very good beer in a few weeks.

I’ll be sure to give a full report when it’s ready. I can’t wait that long though, so I had to grab something that was ready to drink.

If everything turns out like it’s supposed to, then maybe I’ll brew another batch as an offering to George when I head to Vermont this summer for Single Speed USA. He just might let me in the shop if I come bearing gifts. I’ll even share one with Dicky if he mentions me on his blog a few more times.

Tomorrow it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming. You know, bikes and junk.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Aftermath

I was happy and thought I felt good at the start.

The knee is feeling better, but I know my troubles are far from over. I’ve had knee problems off an on most of my adult life. I guess it stems from years of playing soccer and riding skateboards in my youth. When I went in the Army back in 1990, things progressively got worse. In 1991, I ended up having surgery on my right knee to repair damage that had accumulated over the years. It was probably a sketchy procedure (because it was done by Army doctors), but I ended up “back to normal” in a few weeks. I say back to normal because in the Army they pretty much make you go back to full speed once you get “medical clearance.” I don’t even know if I ever fully healed.

Years later, I would have issues off and on (including a little bit of arthritis.) I could usually tell if it was gonna rain, be cold, etc., but I learned to deal with it. If I spent too much time aggravating my knee, it would swell and I would have to stay off of it for a few days. About two years ago it started getting worse again, so I finally broke down and went to the doctor. I ended up getting a cortisone shot, and things were okay for a while. I guess I’m back to needing some kind of medical attention.

I will be better, and I’m not sure if I’ll end up visiting any kind of medical professional again unless I can’t walk and/or ride my bike at all. It’s way too early in the season to have this kind of trouble, and I don’t want to end up screwing it all up by having to stay off the bike. I stopped running quite a while ago to be able to keep biking, but maybe that’s not enough. I’ll figure something out I guess.

I other news, I guess my race wasn’t as bad as I thought. Sure, I went down a few places from last week, but I didn’t finish anywhere near DFL. I was able to keep riding, but I wasn’t able to stand up and power through the climbs. That’s what made it so hard to chase down the leaders and keep Big Tater off my wheel. I somehow survived, but there was no way in hell I could’ve raced in the single speed class. If I feel up to it, I’ll try to do both races this weekend. If not, then I guess I’ll just sit around on my ass and spectate. It kinda sucks to watch everyone else race and explain to them why I’m not.

I did find a few more photos of my “race” though:

It hurt like hell every time I pushed down the pedal, but I somehow kept going.

I was in the smallest gear possible, which meant that I was going really slow.

The above photos were found on the Winter Short Track Series Facebook page.

You might wonder what the hell I was wearing, since last week I was all decked out in my Bike29 kit. Well, since it was muddy out there on the Short Track, I didn’t want to ruin my kit (I did that once before a few years ago when I rode for someone else.) Instead, I opted for a plain black jersey and something that George sent me a while back.

It’s gonna be a long season, and I don’t want to race all year with a mud-spotted team kit. I’m not very good at laundry stuff, so I took the easy way out. I guess there are worse problems out there though.

See y’all tomorrow with more crap and nonsense.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I’m Afraid There’s Not Much To Tell

As much as I want to give you a great story about a great race at the Winter Short Track, it ain’t gonna happen today. I did pretty well last week, so I guess the pressure was on to keep it up. Quite a few new people jumped into my category in yesterday’s race, and coupled with a wet trail from a shitload of rain the pressure was turned up even more. None of that shit really affected me though. Something else happened that was much, much worse.

The race started, and I wanted to get my ass in the woods first. I took off from the line, and I felt my right knee pop. As I rounded the corner to head to the singletrack, I was in a lot of pain. It hurt like hell when I stood up on the pedals, so I had to sit and spin. At that point I wasn’t about to catch the three or four guys ahead of me, and I even let two more go by. As bad as I wanted to sprint my way to a big gap, it wasn’t happening.

I was okay as long as I didn’t stand up and mash, so I knew I would be okay on the downhill stuff. The trail was a little sloppy, but manageable. I had Mr. Ryde hot on my wheel though, and I had to lose him somehow.

All photos by Lunchbox.

It didn’t take long before he caught up and passed me. After climbing out in the smallest gear possible, I was falling way behind. I let him go, and hoped that my knee would feel better so I could get back in the race. I stuck to the plan, which was to go as fast as I could on the downhill, and try to spin up the climbs until I felt better. I started passing some people, but they weren’t in my class.

Every lap made things worse. I couldn’t seem to pick up any speed, and I nearly got passed by more people in my class. One thing for sure, I wasn’t gonna let Big Tater catch me.

Big Tater (with his 65 pound bike) was back there somewhere, and I was afraid he would creep up on me in my weakened condition. I rode as fast as I could, and hoped that I could last through the race. Mr. Ryde wasn’t that far ahead anyway.

I wanted to go faster, but it wasn’t happening. My knee wasn’t getting any better (why would it), so I just held on to whatever I had and continued to enjoy the downhills.

When the call came for one lap to go, I was on my way out of the trail. I pushed as hard as I could without standing up, and managed to make it out with out totally destroying my knee. I ended up in 8th place, which I guess wasn’t so bad.

Was it worth it?

I dunno.

I guess I’ll have to see how my knee feels. So far it’s shitty.

When I hobbled around after my race, I noticed that one of my teammates was getting ready for his race.

Would I get to go up against him in my second race?

You probably already know the answer to that. See you tomorrow.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Training Is Going Quite Well Thank You

I don’t really need any help, either. With race number two in the 2012 Winter Short Track Series coming up this Sunday, I’ve been doing my best to get better. Since I have a full time job and can’t spend hours upon hours per day on the bike, I have to get creative. So, I strap my kid trailer on the back of the single speed and head out for some local urban action. This consists of local greenways and gravel trails, and has a pretty good amount of climbing.

So far, so good. I can get out an explore a bit, so the ride doesn’t get boring. The resistance provided by the trailer coupled with having only one gear seems to make me work harder, so it’s like I’m getting more actual “training” than I normally would. The best part? At the end of each ride I can make a beer run at my local grocery store.

The best feature of the trailer (other than providing the aforementioned resistance) is that it has seatbelts to keep my beer purchases nice and safe.


A Happy Ending to my bike ride indeed.

In other news, I got my seat situation figured out. The new seat went on the geared bike as planned, and it looks pretty cool on there. According to Dicky it has a wiener slot. That’s good, because I can park my junk there while I race. What, you don’t carry hot dogs with you when you race?

I think I’m gonna like the new seat with the wiener slot. I just have to make sure people keep their fingers outta my hole. Bastards.

See y’all Monday with (hopefully) another race report.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Went Shopping

For bike parts, that is. I didn’t really need anything, but that doesn’t usually stop me. Okay, I think I might need one of these things.

Check out what showed up from Misfit Psycles da udda day:

While I am usually afraid of all things from Canada, I decided to give this a shot. A 19 tooth cog for my single speed bike might make things a little easier, but now I’m not so sure I want to use it yet. I survived 8 laps in a race riding an 18 tooth cog, so why would I even think about making it easier? The whole point of riding a single speed is to get stronger, so changing out to an easier cog is probably not a good idea. I guess I’ll just save it for another time.

Next up is something I really didn’t need, but for some reason I just had to have it.

Yes, another new saddle. I have plenty of places to plant my ass around here, but this was a deal too good to pass up. The WTB Valcon seems very similar to the Silverado I currently run on my geared bike, so hopefully I will like it. I’ll probably put it on my geared bike, and put the Silverado on my SS bike (it currently has a PureV which is okay, but not great.)

I can never make up my mind on bike shit, but when I finally do find something I stick to it. The Silverado had become my favorite saddle, but I’m hoping that the Valcon is close enough to it and I won’t notice the difference or maybe even like it better. I always have to learn the hard way (by wasting money sometimes.)

In other news, last night I finished building a bike out of spare parts (sorry, no photos.) I had a lot of shit that wasn't being used, so I put all that shit on a frame that wasn't being used to build a bike that won't be used (by me anyway.) Maybe it can find its way to someone else that needs a bike. The wheels are too small for me anyway. More details another time if I feel like it.

I guess that’s it for today. I have to get back to my “training.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why Not Twice

Since I caved into peer pressure and signed up for a second race on Sunday, I had no choice. I grabbed my single speed bike and set out to “race” with the rest of the crazies with one gear. As long as you do at least one lap, you can’t DNF. My goal was to do two laps before I died out there.

Lots of people said I was crazy for going back out there, but I saw it as extra training. Besides, a lot of people do more than one race at this event. I wasn’t special, but yeah, maybe I was crazy. I’m still pretty new to this single speed thing, but this is the best way I know to get better at it. We took off from the start line and I was somewhere in the middle of the pack, and I knew I would be good for most of the first lap since it was mostly downhill. Somehow though, I felt like I had been there before.

Photo credit: Tim Anderson

Yes, the usual crowd of hecklers still occupied the rock jump thingy, and I was glad to see them. In fact, they would keep me going throughout the race. Although there was a climb right after that spot, I knew I was near the end of each lap. I really appreciated their cheers and other nonsense (including the rogue trail work.)

That first climb wasn’t so bad, but I started to wonder if running a 32X18 for my second race of the day was a good idea. I knew it would wear me down as the race went on, but I only planned on being able to complete three laps anyway. Lap one was in the books, and I wasn’t in last place for some reason.

I sprinted past the finish line, putting on my best “It doesn’t hurt” face. Back in the woods, it was more downhill action. I felt fine so far, and I couldn’t wait to see the rock jump heckler crowd again. After another leg burning climb, I had lap two done. I was loosening up a bit, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep going for the whole race. I still enjoyed the berms out there though.

Photo credit: Winter Short Track Series Facebook page

I had no idea how much time had passed, but after climbing out again I had met my goal of three laps. For some reason though, I didn’t want to stop. As I passed the start/finish line again, the cheers must have motivated me to keep going. I decided that I would ride until either the race ended or I fell over from exhaustion, either of which would be a “good enough” effort. I still felt kinda okay, so why the hell not?

I don’t remember much about the rest of the race, other than getting lapped a couple of times by the leaders. I had no computer on my bike and no watch, so I had no idea how far I’d gone or how much time was left. I didn’t have anything to strive for, other than riding until it was over. When I was in the singletrack, I heard the announcer say, “One lap to go!” I was almost finished.

The final climb was painful, but I made it without walking. I even had enough energy to sprint for the finish with another guy in my class, but I’m not sure if I beat him there or not. It didn’t matter, because I went way past my goal of three laps. I ended up with eight for that single speed race, placing 19th out of 22. Not only did I finish, but I did it ahead of some people (who probably didn’t race earlier in the day.)

I was tired, but happy. This “training” thing is pretty fun because well, it didn’t feel like training. Now that I know I can do it, I’ll probably race both races for the rest of the series. I just have to make sure I eat more food and drink plenty of beer afterwards. That’s why I do this shit anyway.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bring The Pain

I mentioned that the 2012 Winter Short Track Series was just “training” for me, right? Well, what better way to train than to go all out for one race, then do it all over again later. That’s exactly what I did, and now I’m feeling the pain. Let’s start with the first race.

I wasn’t as nervous as I usually am before a race, but I still had the pre-race jitters. I didn’t plan to shock the world with my awesome mountain biking ability in the first race of the season, but I still wanted to do well. We lined up at the start, and I felt great. I had plenty of food in my belly from breakfast, and the temps had warmed up a bit before my group went off. When we were given the signal, I took off with the pack.

I didn’t plan to haul ass and fight for position, but somehow I ended up going into the woods in second place. I was right on the wheel of the guy in first place, and I nearly ran him over because I was way faster on the downhill stuff. I had no issues whatsoever, and I even felt like I could win it all.

Photo credit: Mike Gladden

Well, when we hit the climb out, I slipped a little and came unclipped from my pedals. A few guys went buy me, but I hurried back on the bike and got going again. It sucked to suddenly stop like that, and it took me a few minutes to recover. I started falling back, but I decided to settle in and grind it out. Maybe I could catch the leader again.

I don’t remember much about each individual lap, but I do remember a crowd of hecklers (led by Dicky) hanging around the new and improved jump. I did my best to hit the line the way such lines are supposed to be hit.

As the race went on, I started to get tired. Two months of barely training had taken its toll on me I guess. Local Clydesdale racer Rodney B. passed me on a climb, and left me in the dust. We usually keep about the same pace, but this time I couldn’t hang on. I let him go.

That didn’t stop me from having fun though.

Photo credit: Lunchbox

When I got into the downhill section, my super awesome skills let me get close enough to get him in my sights again. Coupled with the fact that I had just lapped some riders in the class that left before us, I started feeling good again. I turned it up and Rodney and I proceeded to battle on the way to the finish line.

I gave it all I had, and passed him on the way to the finish. I was shocked when I saw the results.

4th place. Not too bad, I guess.

I was beat ass tired, and started to have second thoughts about doing a second race out there. With about an hour and a half of rest though, I made myself sign up for the single speed race. I figured that it wouldn’t be too bad, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I’ll cut it off here and save the sufferfest for tomorrow. You have been warned.