Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Almost Time

And you know what that means…

It’s the Final Countdown of course:

That’s right.  Tonight, the little lady and I are hitting the road.  Even though Single Speed USA is this Saturday, I’ve already told y’all that we’re heading to Buffalo, NY for a few days first.  It’s been a while since I’ve been there, and it will be the first time I’ll be there in the Summer.  There’s usually a shitload of snow on the ground, so I’m hoping that this time it will be gone.  Things could be mighty different this time around.

After spending a few days there on the farm, I’ll head over to Vermont and hopefully catch George at the shop.  I have a present for him for being the host with the most.

It’s customary to bring a gift when you’re invited to a party.

I’ve never been anywhere close to Vermont, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have a good time.  Music, beer, and bike racing are on tap, and that’s right up my alley.  I mean, the place is gonna be overrun with single speeders from all over the country, and you know those folks like to party.  It will probably end up looking a lot like Mos Eisley Spaceport when we all get in town.

Single Speed USA in Stowe, Vermont.  You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.  I must be cautious.

The blog will suffer while I’m gone, but at least you won’t have to suffer through my nonsense until I get back.  I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about when I come home, but in the meantime I won’t be here at all.  I’d like to tell you that I will blog during the trip, but that probably won’t happen.  If you want to know what’s going on while I’m away, you can follow me on Twitter.

I’ll at least try to keep that updated in my drunken, worn out from bike riding state.

See y’all next Friday, as in more than a week and a half from now.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brews, Views, And Mountain Bike Dudes

So like I told y’all Friday, the little lady and I went to Beech Mountain, NC for the Brews and Views event and the 2012 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships.  We rolled up on the mountain a little too late for the downhill stuff, but we did get to see a whole bunch of dual slalom action.

It was really spectator friendly, so I took lots of photos.

We strolled up to the top of the hill to catch some of the action right from the start line.

Eventually we made our way back down the hill, but this time on the other side.  I used that opportunity to get a few more photos.

We decided to take a little break from the action, and head down to the beer/expo area.  We stopped back by the DeFeet tent, where Shane was promoting the greatest socks in the world.

After grabbing a bite to eat, we made our way to the beer tent. 

For like twenty bucks, you got a glass and the chance to drink as much beer as you could.  I saw it as a challenge, and we drank until it was all gone.

Starting in the afternoon, there was live music.  The main attraction was the band Cro-Moly,  and it looked like DeFeet head honcho Shane was ready to rock.

They played for a while, and they were clearly the best out of all the acts that day.  They played a lot of stuff we all knew, and the crowd was really digging it.

Yeah, I guess I was a bit of a groupie, but you all should know by now that I’m down with DeFeet.

We pretty much closed the place down, but not before I got my hands on a pair of new socks to support the band.

We had a great time, even though we didn’t ride bikes that day.  I got to hang out with good friends, drink good beer, and listen to some kick ass music.  It’s just what I needed to get ready for my adventure this week.

And yeah, of course I’ll get into that tomorrow.

Friday, July 20, 2012

This Can’t Be Good

After all that work I did to get my tire situation fixed, I came home to a puddle of Stan’s.  It didn’t take long to figure out where the air leaked out though, luckily.

I found that the rubber on the valve stem had separated, most likely because it’s getting up there in years.  With no new ones on hand to replace it, I’ll have to cram a bike shop trip in sometime this weekend.  It’s my geared bike, and I won’t be using it for a little while anyway since I’ll be out of town with the SS.  I really don’t have time for that shit right now anyway.   

Instead of using this weekend to get ready for my upcoming trip to New York/Vermont, I’m heading for the mountains.  Beech Mountain, that is, for Brews and Views which includes the 2012 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships.  That’s right, the little lady and will be watching downhill and dual slalom racing, drinking beer, and listening to cool music.  Plus, there’s a special guest appearance by cycling’s only rock band, Cro-Moly.  Wait, who?  Cro-Moly, founded by DeFeet boss Shane Cooper will be there wrapping up the after-party.

Check out some of their stuff:

So yeah, it looks like I will be having some bike fun this weekend, without actually getting on my bike.  That’s only Saturday though, so I have time the next day to pedal a little bit.

That’s if I’m not too hung over and tired from partying like a rock star.

In other news, I haven’t been on my bike at all since I raced this Sunday.  It’s not for lack of trying though.  I made plans, even packing my bike and gear in my truck for some two-wheeled after work adventures. 

Still no ride.

It’s rained here every day, and I don’t mean a light sprinkle either.  Big-ass thunderstorms aplenty, which have been keeping the local trails closed.  It’s even been raining too hard to ride over at my all weather trail (Captain Jim Bob’s Space Adventure.)  It’s kinda hard to see through the fat ass raindrops.  Since I can’t ride, I’ve been spending more time on my other hobby…


Sorry for the blurry photo.  I was drinking already when I took it.

I went over to the NoDa Brewing Company, which is right on my way home from work.  There was a fundraiser for a local cycling event (the 24 Hours of Booty), and even though I’m not participating in the event I got an invite.

It was a chance to eat, drink beer, and socialize with folks from the local cycling community.  And of course, I got to stare at their fancy brewing equipment.

I enjoyed my time there (and of course the beer), but I really need to get out on my bike.  Sunday ride plans are in the works, so hopefully the rain stays the hell away so I can get out there.

Maybe I’ll be back with a ride report.

Most likely it will just be a spectator report though.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cleaning Up Loose Ends

Hooray Beer!

Actually I was talking about my geared bike.

After a shitty race on Sunday, I went out to the garage to find this:

My rear tire had become flat.  I figured maybe it was some kind of fluke, so I pumped it up and checked everything.  I could hear air leaking out somewhere, and eventually I found it.

I guess that happened during the race and I didn’t notice it.  I had bigger issues at the time, but I’m really lucky that the tire didn’t explode while I was out there.  Upon further inspection, I found something else that was kinda odd.

See how it's warped?

That might be part of what was going on with my lack of handling during the race.  Did I mention that the other day?  Probably not.  Anyway, the tire is over a year old, and very well worn.  I knew I had to replace it, but I kept putting it off.  In fact, I’ve been putting my geared bike off all together.  I other ride it during the Southern Classic races, and it sits there collecting dust the rest of the time.  Like Little Miss Sunshine told me (with a big fat “I told you so”), I needed to show my geared bike a little love. 

Luckily, I was prepared for such an occasion.

I’ve had this tire hanging around for a while, and now I pretty much had to use it.  I pulled the old tire off and took a peek inside.

So that’s what a year’s worth of Stan’s looks like.  Hmmm.

I got the new tire on, and gave my bike a good washing.  Aside from the mud I acquired in Sunday’s race, I still had dust on it from when I race at Uwharrie over a month ago.  I guess I should really start paying attention to my “other” bike from now on.

But damn, I love that single speed.

Sometime in the next few days, I’ll switch my SS bike back to a 32X20 configuration, and I probably won’t ride it again around here after that until I get back from my trip.  I guess that means if I ride again before we leave I’ll be riding my geared bike.

That’s probably not a good way to prepare for a single speed race, is it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Easy As 1…2…3

You know, like A…B…C…

So yeah, it’s time to finalize my plans for Single Speed USA.  Little Miss Sunshine and I are leaving after work next Tuesday, and driving as far north towards Buffalo, NY that we can that night.  We’ll stop for some rest, and continue on until we arrive on her parents’ farm sometime the next morning.

The cows will be so excited.

I’ll stay for a few days and hit the road, East bound and down…

I have a long way to go, and a short time to get there.

I think I have a good route to Vermont, and that’s thanks to many folks.  Since I’ve been mentioning my trip up there ( to local folks and here on the Internets), I’ve had people come out of the woodwork to tell me that they have either lived in Vermont, or they’ve been there many times.  I really appreciate the advice, because I sure as shit don’t want to get lost.  I’m trying to make it to the Bike29 mothership in Waterbury before the shop closes, and hopefully I can deliver George some smuggled beer from out of state.  I mean, why else would I have used a Smokey and the Bandit Reference?

Other than that, I don’t have a whole lot else to do.  I just need to bring my bike, suitable cycling clothing, and my ability to drink tons of beer.  The bike will get switched over to a 20T cog sometime this weekend, so I don’t have a lot of bike prep to do.  Oh, the joys of single speeding.

I still have a few more days of blogging before we go, so hopefully I can keep this shit going without boring y’all to death with my trip planning.  At least I should have a ton of stuff to talk about when I get back though.

It’s gonna be fun, so forgive me if I can’t shut up about it.

Oh damn, I almost forgot.  I should probably bring a jug to get some maple syrup.  I hear I can get it right off the tap up there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why Not?

So yeah, I decided to race on Sunday.  After whining about racing against those “serious types” in a lap race, I realized that it’s what I do.  While I may not be super serious about it, I do enjoy getting out there and pushing myself.  Several members of the non-serious crowd persuaded me to head up to Greensboro, so I gave in.  I thought it was the right thing to do.

Why all the fuss about a simple cross country race?  Well, I guess the fact that I had to make an emergency out of town trip last weekend kinda wore me out.  We got in late Sunday night, and the weather kept me from riding all week.  As I mentioned yesterday, I did get out on the road, and that was the only two-wheeled fun I had since we got back.  Yeah, I was a little grumpy, and probably lazy too.  Plus, my main man Lunchbox is still on vacation in Florida.  That meant that I had to hit the road alone.

I wasn’t feeling it, but I went anyway.

I got there with plenty of time to spare, so I hung out with the locals at the start line.

Eventually, I got changed into my Bike29 gear and started warming up.  I felt pretty good, and I was ready to get out on the trail.  I heard it was wet and slippery out there, so I started thinking about my strategy…at the start line.

I lined up at the back of the pack, planning to take it easy and not bust my ass out there.  When the race started though, I couldn’t help it…

I gunned it.

As we rounded the corner headed for the singletrack, I found myself in third place.  We hit the trail and it was a greasy mess, but I held on.  That didn’t last long though.  The trail dipped down and then went up a pretty steep climb, and I forgot that I was on a geared bike.   I stood up to mash up it in a big gear, and spun out immediately.  I watched as most of the field passed me by.

That took the wind out of my sails, but it shouldn’t have been such a big deal.  However, I felt a little pain in my knee when I tried to climb and I became concerned.  I backed off my pace a bit as we climbed a little more, but I could still see everyone in front of me (and a few folks behind.)  As the first lap wore on though, I could feel my knee getting worse.  I let one guy, then another go by, and it turned into a survival race at that point.  I kept seeing people in front of me within reach, but I just didn’t have the power to catch them.  That continued until the end of the lap, and well into the second lap.

As I passed the start finish line for lap three, I had bigger problems.  My knee wasn’t really getting any worse, but at that point I was getting bored.  Three laps on a 5.6 mile course is a little tedious, and it was all I could do to keep from throwing in the towel.  I don’t quit races, but damn I wanted this one to be over.  I eased my way through the rest of the race, trying to keep from getting hurt worse and fucking up my upcoming trip to Vermont.

After what seemed like an eternity, I crossed the finish line.  I had a pretty shitty race, and ended up in 7th (I think.)  The results weren’t posted before I left, but unless someone quit that was in front of me then I’m certain that’s where I ended up.  Seventh doesn’t sound so bad, right?  It does when there were only seven people in the class.  It wasn’t my first DFL and it certainly won’t be my last, that’s for sure.

I’m still glad I got out there.  I pushed myself through the pain and boredom, and got to hang out with some pretty cool people afterwards.  I guess I’ll stop bitching about these races from now on and just keep plugging away.  There are only a few more in the series anyway, but I don’t have one for a little while. 

Now I can focus on my big road trip. 

Expect to see tons of chatter regarding Single Speed USA over the next few days, since I will be on the road in less than a week.

I mean, what the hell else am I gonna talk about?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Make It A Great Weekend

Race report?  Not today.  I did “race”, but I’ll get into that tomorrow.  I’ve got other things to get into…

Like the shitty weather around here lately.

Since we got back from Northern Virginia, I’ve been trying to get out on my bike.  I stuck out every day, including Friday.  I had my bike loaded on the truck, but got to the trailhead when a shit storm erupted form the sky.  So, I went home and instituted plan B.

I was tired as shit from our trip and lack of riding (yeah, I get tired when I don’t ride), and I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I decided that the next day (Saturday) I would (gasp), break out the road bike.

I set out for a nice easy ride, which started on my local greenway:

While I was out, I thought that I should start mapping out a ride to reciprocate the hospitality that D-Wayne and Meghan showed us on the Tour de Triad last month.  I figured that I would scope out the area to give them a tour down here in the coming months.  It should be fun, unless we get caught by a train and have to sit out in the hot sun for what feels like an eternity.

I spent three hours on the road bike working on my cyclist’s tan, and had a good ride.  However, when I got home I was exhausted.  I was so tired that I only drank two beers.  And yeah, that’s a big deal.

It probably wasn’t a good idea to go out there in the middle of the day and wear out my legs the day before a race.  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done some dumb shit though.

But, I actually did enjoy road riding for once.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I Can’t Even Get Into It

I’m supposed to race this weekend.  I say “supposed to” because it’s on the schedule.  The next race in the Southern Classic Series is this Sunday, and although I’ve been doing the whole series (minus a few races due to scheduling conflicts) I can’t seem to get myself excited for this one.

I haven’t raced one of these in over a month.  The last one was at Uwharrie, and even though I had fun then  I don’t really feel like racing right now.  The last time I checked, I was ranked 2nd overall in my class, but honestly that doesn’t really mean shit to me (but I still checked for some reason.)  I race for me, and not because of the competition.  I guess I’m just having a hard time trying to justify being out there with all those serious people who want to take home medals and brag about lap times, heart rates, power output, and Strava.

Who gives a shit.

Why should I go?  Well, a good friend of mine is actually promoting the race, and it’s not too far away from home.  The Battle of the Bikes at Country Park in Greensboro sounds like it might be fun, but I don’t need all those serious attitudes bringing me down.  There are a couple of guys out there that are pretty cool and aren’t too serious even though they work hard, and I look forward to riding with them (yes Todd, I’m talking about you.)  If I go, it will be because I need a tune up before Single Speed USA (coming up in two weeks, by the way.)  I’m not really sure if a super serious cross country race would be an appropriate tune up for that though. 

I guess I’ve all but talked myself out of racing this weekend.  If I race Sunday, that means I have to take it easy on Saturday.  If I skip the race, that means I can ride both days until my legs fall off.  One of those sounds fun, the other sounds like work.  I’ve been having fun riding my bike lately without the pressure of racing, and honestly I’d like to continue that.  Plus, I also have a chance to do some trail work on Sunday morning to give back to out local scene. 

And, don’t forget that I have a lot of good beer to drink.

Don’t be surprised if I end up out there racing though.  I’ve never been good at making decisions.  There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny, you know. 

Maybe I can dress up in one of these fancy cycling costumes just to keep things in perspective.

Spiderman skinsuit

Yep, that’ll do nicely.

See y’all Monday with some kind of report.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Like The Beer

I guess I’ll tell you about some new brews I acquired. Whenever I leave the Charlotte area, I always make sure to grab some beer that I can’t normally get around here. That’s especially true when I go to D.C., because there just seems to be a better variety for some reason.

I picked up some fine brews at the local beer supply store, and I tried to stay local. However, I did find two kinds that were from far away lands in the U.S. of A.

Brew Free or Die IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery (which sounds like it should be local to our Nation’s Capital but it’s not) is one of my favorites.  I can’t find it anywhere around here, but I always seem to find it when I go up there. It’s in a can, but it’s a fine IPA. I dig it. I may not open this one right now though. I think I may save it for a few weeks to share with George if he’s interested.

The Hop Pursuit from Full Sail in Oregon is one I’ve never seen before, but with a name like that it was just begging me to buy it. As of this writing I haven’t cracked open the bottle, but you can bet your ass it will happen soon. I’ve tried other stuff from Full Sail, so I’m sure this will be good.

Next up is one that’s actually kinda local to the D.C. area, in nearby Baltimore.

Heavy Seas makes one of my all-time favorite beers, Loose Cannon IPA, and I can usually get in here locally. However, some of their other varieties haven’t made it this far south yet. That’s why I picked up the mystery pack, better known as the Sunken Sampler. I’ll let you know what’s in it in the near future.

Two more “local to the D.C. area” brews are up next.

Little Miss Sunshine picked up a peach-flavored beer called Festina Peche from Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. She was pretty happy to get some, and since the brewery is pretty close to DC it’s easy to find their stuff.

The Chesapeake Pale Ale is brewed in nearby Williamsburg, VA, and it’s pretty much your basic pale ale. I was actually surprised by how good it was, especially since it was priced a little less than your normal craft brews. My only regret is that I brought home just one six pack. I’ll have to pick up some more next time I go.

And yes, there’s more.

More stuff from Heavy Seas, this time in the form of a Belgian style IPA called the Dubbel Cannon. It’s good, but not quite as good as the Loose Cannon. It’s a little more yeasty than I like, but the hops profile is really nice. I don’t think I could drink more than two at a time though.

The Eight Point IPA from Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Lexington, VA is the other one in the photo. Wow, I mean, wow. Super bitter hoppy goodness, and once again I’m sorry I didn’t bring home more. I guess I already have a shopping list for my next trip.

In other news, I think that beer may actually be in my blood, and not just because I drink it. I’ve been doing a little research on my family history since I got back in town. I’m no genealogist, but I’ve always been pretty knowledgeable about my family’s origins. However, I recently noticed a connection to Virginia brewer and one of my ancestors. I’m still gathering some of the information, but it makes for an interesting story. I’ve always thought that my family history was pretty cool, and now that it may be intertwined with beer it might be even better.

I’ll probably get into that next week.