Friday, November 30, 2012

Rest And Relaxation

It’s Friday, and I’ve somehow made it through the week.  I’m still feeling shitty, but that’s not the real issue. 

I haven’t been on my bike or enjoyed a beer in almost a week.

Instead, I’ve been taking it easy so I can recover.

This sucks.

With two days off from work and no prior commitments, I really hope I can go outside and play.  This sickness crap had left me feeling extra weak, but that could also be the lack of hops in my system.

Since Fridays are slow around here anyway, I’m not posting much today.  If I get out and do some stuff over the weekend, then I’ll be able to come back here next week and entertain you.  If I’m still sick, then I expect you fuckers to entertain me.  It's easy, really.  All it takes is one of those Star Wars marathons on TV.

Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Things Are Not Quite Right

Instead of playing catch-up and going over everything I did while I was away, I find myself wondering what the hell is wrong with me.  To sum it up, I feel like shit.  Every time the weather changes (about twice a year in case you were wondering), I get sick.  Not flu sick, but sick nonetheless.  This time though, I thought I would be in the clear as the cool fall air rolled in.  It all started when I took a pre-birthday ride at BYT, and I wasn’t sure how to dress for it.

It’s been chilly here lately, but it warms up quickly during the day.  I overdressed when I started my ride, wearing a thick base layer, arm warmers, knee warmers, a hat under my helmet, etc.  I dressed like it was the middle of winter in Alaska, and I took off feeling might toasty.  About halfway through the ride, I had to start removing layers.  I was sweaty by then, and it was still cool enough outside to make me a little chilly.  When I got done with the ride (it was awesome, by the way), I suddenly got the chills and felt a little shitty.

I didn’t ride again until our trip to bent creek, but the damage had already been done.  My lungs felt like they had something other than air in them, and I struggled a bit on the climbs.  I didn’t get any worse, so I was hoping that this would go away.  I stayed off the bike for the next two days, and I could tell something was not right.

Saturday morning, I figured I would be okay to go for a ride.  My lungs kinda hurt, so I took it easy and stayted local.  I had fun out in the woods exploring an old trail near the house.

When I got done riding, I had the chills again.  I relaxed the rest of the evening, because I had an actual planned ride the next day.  The Dirty Party Cycle wanted to meet me at BYT for some fun, and I wasn’t about to miss that shit.

That morning, I wasn’t feeling great at all.  I thought, “Hey, a ride might make me feel better”, so I took off to meet the DPC.  We rode for a while and I didn’t feel too bad, but around halfway through I started feeling dizzy.  That’s not the kind of place you want to ride impaired, so I ended up taking a few breaks.  My body was wearing down as the ride went on, and I couldn’t wait for the end.  When we finally finished, the DPC asked me to roll with him to a local watering hole for a post ride beverage.

I reluctantly accepted.

When we got there, I felt way worse.  I ordered one beer (and some kind of appetizer), and had trouble finishing it.  The DPC had three beers to my one, so that should tell you something right there.  I eventually limped home, hoping that the shit would just go away (I’m too stubborn to go to the doctor.)

Now it’s Thursday, and I still feel bad.  Not as bad as I was, but still not good enough to ride my bike (or drink beer).  I skipped our weekly night ride (watching cross racing instead), and I skipped another local night ride last night.  Watching everyone else have fun on their bikes is depressing, so I hope this shit hurries the hell out of here.

I feel like I’m dying.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Found Some Beer

It’s always a good day around here when I stumble across beer I’ve stashed away.  Not surprisingly, sometimes I have to hide it form myself to keep from drinking it all.  In this case, I went out to check on my brewing supplies in anticipation of making another batch of home brew.  It’s been quite a while since I brewed beer, and something told me that it’s time again.  While I was checking the status of my empty bottles, I found a case of my last batch of IPA.

Damn, I can’t believe it sat there untouched for so long.  That batch was damn good too.  In fact, it was the best I’ve ever made (it was even Dicky approved.)  The thought of stashing a few bottles away so they can “mature” may have crossed my mind, but I didn’t think I actually did it.  Sometimes I surpise myself.

So, the two bottles pictured above are sitting in the fridge for a few days, and I will drink them when I’m damn good and ready (I'm ready now, by the way.)  The rest of the bottles remain untouched, to be consumed in a few weeks I’m sure.

If I recall correctly, I hopped the shit outta these.  I want to say that I continuosly added hops for an hour, and dry hopped it afterwards.  The result was a smooth, yet bitter IPA that rivals a lot of my current favorites.  I wrote down what I did (somewhere), so next time I can duplicate it.  Out of all the batches of beer I’ve even made though, this has to be the longest I’ve let them sit before drinking.  I’m really curious to find out how they taste.

Maybe you are too.

I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile I’m gonna keep stocking up.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It’s All A Big Blur

Ten Days ago, I left work and didn’t have to worry about anything for quite a few days.  I had big plans of course, and somehow I thought I would get out on a ride every single day.  Of course, other things got in the way and I didn’t get on the bike as much as I wanted, but a trip I had been planning for about a month was definitely a go.  I decided that it was time to head back to one of my favorite places to ride in Asheville

Bent Creek.

TomTom had never been there, and Lunchbox couldn’t remember the last time he was there.  Since we all had the day off from work (or school in Lunchbox’s case), we headed west to the mountains.  We got there around high noon, and I mapped out our route.  The plan was to climb all the way to the top, hit some super fast downhill shit, and climb around a little bit to find some more downhill.  That’s my kind of riding:  climb first, and then enjoy the reward of gravity.

We got changed in the parking lot, and headed up the gravel road climb.  No trip to Bent Creek is complete without stopping to pay homage to the bike gods on the way up, so we paused for a moment.

We suffered in the cool temps for what felt like forever.  The road went up, then up some more.  I warned TomTom about this, but I told him the reward was well worth it.  There were no waterfalls like our trip to DuPont, but the view was still pretty awesome.

We climbed for a long time, stopping every so often to check out the surrounding mountains.  The rest of the crew was happy to be away from our local trails and in the mountain for a while.

After five (yes five) miles of climbing, we reached the top.  We parked our bikes and looked around for a while, plotting our next move.

The next step would be a two mile long descent, known around these parts as Greens Lick.

Greens Lick is the crown jewel of Bent Creek, and it was worth every pedal stroke to get to the top of it.  Although he’s been to Bent Creek before, Lunchbox hadn’t had a chance to ride that particular trail.  I informed him (and TomTom) that it was plenty fast, but not super technical.  The worst part about riding it was that you would end up going faster than you wanted to, so I advised them to keep a finger on the brake lever just in case.  We all took off down the trail, and I told them I would stop every so often when it leveled out to make sure we were all together.

It was on one of these stops that I got a chance to ctahc Lunchbox flying downhill.

After our first break, we took off again.  We were flying, and as I rounded a corner I didn’t see anyone behind me.  I was so busy enjoying the ride that I had lost my two riding partners.  I pulled over to the side of the trail, and eventually TomTom rolled up.  We waited for a bit for Lunchbox, but he was nowhere to be found.


We turned around to climb back up the hill, hoping not to find him on the side of the trail in a pile.  After a few minutes, some dude came flying down the trail.  We moved over to let him by, but as he passed I asked him if he saw a kid up there with a white jersey on.

Dude (Removing the headphones from his ears):Uh, what?

Me:Did you see a kid up there on the side of the trail with a white jersey on?

Dude: Uh, he’s waiting for you. 

He put his earphones back in and flew away, hoping that his little pit stop didn’t mess up his Strava KOM time.  He was kind of a dick, but I guess that’s what Strava does to people.

Anyway, we kept climbing, and eventually we found him on the side of the trail.  He wasn’t hurt, but his bike was.

His front tire was flat, and was in the process of changing it.  Lunchbox is the only member of the B-43 crew without the benefit of tubeless tires, and his pinch flat reminded me that I need to change that.  We got him put back together, and went on ouor merry little way.  We didn’t have far to go until the end, so I told everyone I would see them at the bottom.

There’s a pretty cool jump/berm to ride down there, so I got some photos:

Greens Lick was done, and we all agreed that it was worth the climb.  The next trail wasn’t too far away, and all we had to do was haul ass down a fire road to get to it.  We all took off again, and just like before, I was way out front.  I stopped for a minute and TomTom rolled right up behind me.  Lunchbox was MIA again, so we started back up the road to find him.

And wouldn’t you know, there he was again with a flat tire.  This time it was the rear, and it was another pinch flat.  We changed the tube lickety split and got on our way, riding a lot more singletrack goodness before we hit the parking lot.  It was a great day in the mountains, and aside from two flat tires we didn’t have any major issues.

It was the best way I knew to counteract all that turkey we would eat the next day

I love going out of town to ride, and I was happy to take TomTom on his first trip to Bent Creek.  We have a shitload of future adventures planned, so this one was just the tip of the iceberg.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Don’t Forget About Me

So yeah, I’ve been gone.  I’m pretty sure you haven’t been here either.  Hopefully though, we can pick up where we left off.  I’m not sure where that is, but I’ll spend the next few days figuring it out.

What have I been doing all this time, you ask?  Well, I went to not one, but two parties, including the DeFeet Holiday Jam over in Hickory.  I got to watch the guys from Cro-Moly rock the house in honor of my birthday (or their 20th anniversary, whatever.)

Then there was the surprise party for me (because I’m old now), where I got to hang out with my friends and drink beer.  Oh yeah, I also got a pretty rad cake that a few folks chipped in to make for me.

I got presents for my birthday, which around here is almost always new bike stuff.  I spent some time installing things.

And since my last helmet had a couple of concussions on it, I got a new one.

I also got word that I have a new sponsor…

I did some riding too…and quite a bit I might add.  Since I’m still getting settled in back here at work though, I’ll start playing catch up tomorrow.  I think I might have a lot to talk about, but I have to sort it all out first.

So yeah, welcome back.    

You didn’t forget about me, did you?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hold On To Your Youth

We ain’t getting any younger, you know.

Tomorrow will be the last day of my thirties.  What does that mean?  Well first, it means that I will be forty years old, dumbass.  Second, it doesn’t really mean shit after that.  When I was a teenager, forty sounded really old to me.  Now, it doesn’t seem so bad.  I’m in good health, I’m riding bicycles all the time (and skateboards too), and I don’t look like I have one foot in the grave.  I figured that I would be old-looking and decrepit by now.

I guess not.

Is this some testament to the power of riding bicycles?  Well no, but I guess it does say something about being active.  I see plenty of people my age (and older) that don’t do a damn thing except sit on their asses, watch television, and get fatter by the minute.  Not me.  I ain’t going out like that. 

I’m not one to celebrate my own birthday, and the only reason I’m mentioning it here is because it’s such a big number.  I’ve lived on this planet for almost forty years.  Holy shit.  If you do the math, that probably means that I’m about half-dead.  Is that a bad way to look at it?  Maybe, but I don’t plan to sit around and watch the next forty years go by without doing something.  Hopefully I’ll still be riding my bike, and hopefully I won’t be blogging anymore.  I’ll still have stories to tell, but they will be told when I’m sitting on my front porch in a rocking chair, whittling wood, sipping an IPA out of a snobby beer glass, and yelling at those damn kids telling them to get the hell off my lawn.

Ahhh, those will be the good ol’ days.

Even though I’m not planning to have a party, I can’t keep that shit from happening.  My good friends over at DeFeet have something special planned.

Okay, they’re not throwing me a party.  Instead, this is a celebration of their twenty year anniversary.  As in, twenty years of making the best socks money can buy (made here in North Carolina by the way.)  In case you didn’t notice it on the flyer, it’s an invite only affair.  That means that if you’re not invited, you get to hear me tell you all about how fun it was.

And don’t worry, I’ll tell you everything. 

The major highlight of the evening will be a performance by my new favorite band, Cro-Moly.  It’s gonna be a rockin’ good time.

Shit, now I sound like an old person.

So with that, I’m out.  Since I’m not having a fancy celebration or anything like that, I’ll be taking a few days off.  No work, no blog, no worries; I’m just going to ride my bike and junk.  Next week is Thanksgiving anyway, so I took an extended vacation.

See y’all in a week or so…

That is if my senile ass can remember how to get back here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Testing 1…2…3

A while back I received some presents from the fine folks over at Backcountry Research (you know, makers of the now famous Awesome Strap.)  I’ve been testing a few of the items in question, now it’s time for the results for one of them.

Like my cool as shit Fönbag.

This was an item I never thought I would need, but it turns out that I did very much.  I’ve been using the Fönbag for a little while now, and it’s been on plenty of rides with me during that time.  I freaking love it, and I have no idea how I’ve been riding without it.  It keeps my smartphone safe and sound in its little protective case, so I don’t have to worry about anything happening to it.  I’m pretty rough on things, and I’ve been known to drop my phone a time or two.  Carrying it in my pocket during a ride made me nervous, but with the Fönbag I worry a helluva lot less.

Besides protecting the shit outta my phone, the fancy clear protector allows me to actually use my phone during my rides, so I can update my Face status, Twitter, and even participate in the newest form of cycling fun, Strava Terrorism.

Wait, what?

Check out this post over at Drunk Cyclist and join in on the fun.

Anyway, There’s not much exciting about my review of the Fönbag because well, it works.  No frills, no fuss, just a very practical (and stylish) accessory to take with you for your rides.  If you haven’t been over to Backcountry Research lately, then you should.  Get yourself some cool shit to help make you awesome like me.

I have a few other things to review, but I’ll save that for later.

Speaking of saving things for later, I have some new sponsor news too.  I’ll hold off on that one though for the time being.

See y’all tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Work. Ride. Repeat.

In addition to skipping a race, riding the coolest of local trails, and catching up on my beauty sleep, I did some trail work over the weekend.  While there were a few organized work days through our club, we decided to go rogue.  And no, this is not another story about Captain Jim Bob’s Space Adventure.

We have another secret trail.

This one is a little further from the house, but it has a lot more potential.  The Space Adventure work will go on, but that trail was never meant to be anything big.  The new trail however, will be.  There is a ton of unused land nearby, and TomTom has been flagging trail like a mad man.  Lunchbox and I decided to go out there to get some rad singletrack put in.

Child labor laws?  Pffft.  He’s sixteen so that makes it okay.

This place has it all:  rocks, drops, natural berms, and plenty of elevation change.  We’ve built a small amount of rideable trail so far, and I’m getting really excited.  I can get there in about 10 minutes (by bike) from my house, and the purpose of this new trail is for us to have a place to ride when everything else is closed.  We put in a lot of work on Saturday, almost doubling the amount of trail that TomTom put in on his own.  After a hard days work, we decided to “test the flow.”

It didn’t stop there though.  Sunday morning we were back at it again.  This time, we used a natural dirt mound to make a nice roll in for a long downhill section.

That downhill led us to a ditch/gully thingy, which was perfect for some “Warrior Creek-style” berm action.  After digging in that small gorge for about an hour, it was time to test it out.

Work, test ride, repeat.  We would go back to touch things up a bit each time to make it mo betta.

This shit is gonna be so rad.

We’ll share it with you locals as soon as we get a decent amount of mileage put in, so it’s not a wasted trip.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Backyard Fun

There was a race this weekend, and I didn’t go.  The North Carolina Single Speed Championships were held “in my backyard” so to speak, and I didn’t even make an effort to be there.  I said I’ve had enough racing this season, and I meant it.  Even when I woke up Saturday morning, I had no urge to go race.  Lunchbox was really surprised.

LB:  Why don’t you go?

Me:  I’m done racing for the year.  I don’t have another one in me.

LB:  Okay, but I thought you would go because it’s not a “normal” race.

Not a “normal” race?  Yeah, the fact that it was an event full of single speeders was a little appealing, but it was still a race, and I’m riding just for fun these days.  And yes, much fun was had, because we rolled over to the Backyard Trails instead.  TomTom joined us, and it was the first time that Little Miss Sunshine and Lunchbox had ever been there.  They were having fun at first, but they were waiting for the part that I kept hyping up…

The Poo Tracks.

It’s one of the most unique features out there, and I obviously can’t shut up about it.  When we got there, I started giggling.  I was saying, “Pooooo Pooooo” around every corner, and ringing my bike bell like I was a little train.

TomTom was right behind me, and he’s been there before so it wasn’t such a big deal.

Little Miss Sunshine wasn’t very comfortable on the poo tracks, but I think she still enjoyed their poo goodness.

Lunchbox thought it was freaking awesome.

They swirled around the poo in a little poo train.

When we got to the end, we were all laughing.  Lunchbox thought it was the coolest thing he had ever ridden, so I asked him if he wanted to go around one more time.  Of course he said yes, so we cut back through the trail for lap number two.

Get it, lap number two?

Photo cred:  TomTom

It was an awesome day, and aside from a couple of small crashes, we all made out okay.  That trail will humble you before the mountain biking gods, but it’s still the funnest place in town.  Besides, where else can you ride Poo Tracks.

Go on, say it.

Poo Tracks.

Lunchbox commands you to say it.

I bet you just said it.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans Day…

It was officially yesterday.  Today is the “recognized” holiday (meaning that banks, schools, the Post Office, etc. are closed), so I guess today would be a good time for a post about it.

I enlisted in the United States Army back in 1989 (when I was still in high school), shipped off to basic training just a few days after Saddam invaded Kuwait, spent some time overseas, and when it was all said and done I gave the government eight years of my life.  I loved being a soldier, and it was what I wanted to do ever since I was a little kid.

I eventually decided not to make a career out of the military, but those eight years helped shape me into the man I am today.  I probably wouldn’t be worth a damn if I hadn’t enlisted in the Army, and I am thankful every day for the experience and the lessons I’ve learned.

Throughout my life I’ve known many veterans, including family members, cycling friends, coworkers, and neighbors.  They served in wartime and during times of peace, and the connection we all share is something that I cherish.  So with that, I want to offer a big thanks to all my fellow veterans young and old.    

This is also a good time to share one of my favorite quotes (from one of my favorite military heroes):

“The object of war isn’t to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.”

~General George S. Patton

Back to bike stuff tomorrow.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Shoulda Stayed In Bed

This is one of those days where I feel like I shouldn’t have to go to work.  I have to make money to pay for this obsession, er hobby of mine, but I just didn’t feel like getting up today and starting my day.  It’s cold outside, and I would rather stay in bed for a while until it warms up.  I don’t have any excuses, other than the fact that I’m just a wee bit tired for no apparent reason.  It’s not like I stayed up late drinking last night or anything.

No, last night I rode my bike after work.  It was dark, I had lights, and it was fun.  I organized a group night ride at one of our local trails, which was my attempt at helping our club be a little more social.  We had a few guys show up, and we took to the trails in the cool night air for some hot night laps.  I really should do this shit every day after work.

There was something else going on last night too.  In addition to a planned night ride, there was a race at the same park.  It wasn’t on the trails though, because it was a cyclocross race.

Yeah, cyclocross.  I don’t do it, don’t have any plans to do it, but someone I know got out there to do it.

That’s Little Miss Sunshine.  Since she doesn’t have a cross bike of her own, we had to make her geared mountain bike a little more “cx friendly.”

To quote the great Han Solo, "I've made a lot of special modifications myself."  Okay, I only made one modification, and that was to put a set of cross tires on there.  It seemed to help with the handling out there in the grass, even though I think it looked weird as shit.  She dug it, and got out there to race with the rest of the dirt roadies.

It’s kinda fun to watch, but I think about cyclocross I keep looking for stuff like this:

Now, that would have been really entertaining.

It sounds like it was a busy night, but it wasn’t.  Getting out after work to ride my bike and hang out with other cycling-types is how I want to spend every evening, but unfortunately I can’t.  Maybe that can change, but for now I’m just too busy.

This weekend won’t be busy at all.  As of now, I have no definite plans.  I tentatively have two rides planned, but I’m not sure about the details right now.  Most likely it will involve riding at Backyard Trail, and hell, I could end up there both days.  There is also some trail work planned for both days that I may or may not attend. 

Shit, my weekend is filling up already.  Maybe I’ll just stay in bed where it’s safe.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Digging Up The Past

I was gonna skip today’s post because I didn’t really have much to talk about, but then I remembered that I promised something to y’all a while back.  As a matter of fact, it’s been a long time since I mentioned it (like back in the summer.)  What the hell am I talking about?

A little more of my family history.

If you spend any time at all around here, then you know how much I love beer.  I told y’all back in July that there may be a connection between one of my ancestors and a prominent Southern brewer back in the day.  While I’m still gathering facts and whatnot, I still have enough right now to talk about it.

Let’s start with the ancestor in question.   

This is Jacob Muddiman, my Great Great Great Great Grandfather.  He came to this fine country from England just prior to the Civil War, and eventually settled in Manassas, Virginia right after the war.  Prior to moving his family to Manassas, he built a tavern in the city of Alexandria.

It (obviously) still stands to this day, and I make a point to go visit every time I’m in the area.  It's a private residence now, but I think it’s pretty cool that there is a place in Northern Virginia that’s called the Muddiman Tavern.  It makes me want to drink a beer right now, as a matter of fact.  Anyway, I’ve known about this tavern for as long as I can remember, but over the summer I discovered that Jacob came to America on a ship with a very prominent businessman.

Robert Portner.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because you don’t know shit about Southern beer history.  Robert Portner Brewing Company was the largest pre-Prohibition brewery in the South way back when. 

Now, I'm not saying that Mr. Portner was in business with Jacob, but I do know that they both moved to Alexandria around the same time.  Also, the brewery was located on King Street in downtown Alexandria, just a few blocks from the Muddiman Tavern (both built around the same time.)  Furthermore, when my family relocated to Manassas, Mr. Portner built his summer home there.

I’ve heard stories by my Great Aunts and Uncles about family members spending time in the mansion when they were kids, so I know the families were close.  The mansion still stands to this day, and I got a photo of it during my last trip up there.

The house had air conditioning (a big deal back then) and it’s believed that Mr. Portner actually invented the system used to cool his house.  It gets hot in the summer in Manassas, so I’m sure my family loved spending time there.  The mansion is now part of a senior living facility, which is owned by the same hospital system that owns the hospital where I’m employed.  What an odd coincidence.

Mr. Portner made a huge impact in the South, Northern Virginia, and specifically Manassas.  When prohibition reared its ugly head, that was pretty much the end of his beer making business.    

I saw this item in the Manassas town museum this past summer:

He passed away in 1906, but our families remained in touch for a while.  Many generations have passed since then though, and I’m sad to say that we are no longer acquainted with the Portner family.  However, Mr. Portner’s great great grandchildren have recently started brewing beer again in Alexandria

It might be worth it for me to get in touch with them, huh?