Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It Got Weird

But it was fun.

I don’t remember much about my fourth lap at the Rivers Edge Mountain Bike Marathon.  My mind just wasn’t there, although I was somehow able to hit the downhills at high speeds.  I even climbed a lot, with the exception of two long hills.  I kept telling myself that all I had to do was complete the fourth lap and go back out, and there would be no way I could DNF. 

That was my plan, and I tried my best to stick to it.

I mashed, I spun, and I hurt like hell.  My legs felt okay for the most part, and I hadn’t had any issues with cramping.  I was properly hydrated, so much that I had to stop once to relieve myself.  I don’t have any specifics from that fourth lap, except that I kept hearing voices when no one was there.  It wasn’t the gentle roar of Bigfoot either.  It was real, human voices having conversations.

But, there was no one around me at all.

My mind was playing tricks on me, but never once did it tell me to quit.  As I neared the last section of trail before the finish line, I looked down at my bottle cages and noticed that I had plenty of water left.  I made the decision to roll right through the start/finish line and bypass my pit when I got there.

And I did.

I headed out for my fifth and final lap, knowing that once I started I wouldn’t quit…even if I had to walk the whole damn thing.  As soon as I hit the singletrack, it started raining.  I smiled and told myself that it was good, because it would break of the monotony of riding the same course all day.  The rain came down harder and harder, and I used that as motivation to keep going.  I had to walk the same two climbs again, but the downhills were once again my strong point.  My Maxxis Ardent was providing plenty of traction up front, so I was able to go as fast as I wanted to go around the wet berms.  I owned that trail for that brief moment in time.

The rain was cold, but it seemed to help my legs.  I was pushing along at a steady pace and I would find out later that the final lap was one of my fastest.  On one of the last downhill sections though, I thought my arms were gonna fall off.  Holding on for dear life on a rigid fork all day over rocks and roots had taken its toll on me I guess, but since I was close to the end it didn’t matter.  With the finish line in sight, I started smiling a little bit.  I did what I had set out to do, which was ride my bike 55 miles in the Uwharrie National Forest (I actually ended up with just a hair under 58 miles.) 

Unfortunately I missed the podium.

That’s the MadSS on the top spot, and Big Crom in third. 

Hell, I missed the whole ceremony.  The super fast guys finished before I even went out for my last lap, but I bet I had more fun than they did.  While I heard some people saying that they were glad they finished before the rain came down, I was happy that I got a chance to ride in it.  It made my race a lot more fun and challenging which is the sole reason I was out there in the first place. 

It’s not like I had a shit performance though.  I ended up in 5th place in the single speed class, which probably sounds good unless you take into account that there were only five single speeders in the whole race.


Nah, it was a good thing.  I set out to see if I could even finish that race, and not only did I finish, I felt pretty good afterwards.  My back issues never returned, and I only had a small amount of muscle soreness the next day.  Besides, I probably drank more beer than anyone else out there that day. 

For that, I win.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

I Had A Race

And the only thing I got was this t-shirt.

That was the only photo taken that day too, so bear with me.

Yesterday morning, I got up early to head over to the Uwharrie National Forest for the Rivers Edge Mountain Bike Marathon.  It was really difficult to drag my ass outta bed, but I’ll get into that another time.  I ended up hitting the road solo, because Lunchbox was a little worn out from working the day before.  With rain in the forecast, I thought that it was pretty wise for him to stay home.  I know he’s there for every race I do, but who the hell would want to stand around all day in the rain watching someone attempt to race for 55 miles?

I probably wouldn’t.

Anyway, I got there with plenty of time to spare, got myself registered, and setup my tent.  My pit would turn out to be a community effort, with Good Guy Greg, Big Crom, TomTom and Megan, and Irish Luke using it as a base of operations.  This would be my first attempt at this race, and doing it on a rigid single speed made me a little nervous.  I had no idea if I could even complete that distance at all.  At least it wasn't raining though.

We took off from the start, and I slowly rolled up the fire road to hit the trail.  When the singletrack started, I entered dead last.  That was because I was running a 32X21, but mostly it was my desire to take it easy so I could last the whole time.  Once we hit the first climb though, the “racer” in me took over and I started passing a few people.  It was your normal stop and go race traffic, but it didn’t annoy me this time.  The plan was to have a little fun while I was suffering, and I would try to stick to that no matter what.  It didn’t take too long to finish that first lap, and I crossed the start finish line in a decent amount of time.

I stopped for a few minutes to eat something small and refill my bottle, then I was back in the saddle.  I pushed the pace a little harder this time, because that first lap didn’t seem so bad.  About halfway through it though, my lower back started to hurt…bad.  It was locking up as I mashed my was up a long climb.  Good Guy Greg was right behind me, and near the top I heard him say, “Fuck it.”  He had decided to back off and walk instead of trying to keep up with me, which was unnecessary because I had to hop off my bike right after that.  I couldn’t even stand up straight, and I started to wonder if I could even finish that lap, let alone the whole enchilada.

My day had gone to shit already, it would seem.

I stretched for a few minutes, and I felt like I would be okay to get back on the bike.  I hit the downhills as fast as I could, and it didn’t take long before I started feeling a little better.  I could feel my back getting tight again though, but somehow I managed to finish the lap without walking.  It was at that point that I decided that I wouldn’t give up even if it took me all day.

I took some ibuprofen, stretched a little more, refilled my water bottles, and hit the trail again.  I took it easy on the climbs, and that proved to be a good idea.  I was faster than ever on the downhills, mostly because I knew with my large size I had an advantage there.  The rest of that lap was uneventful (pain-wise anyway), and I crossed the line once again and headed to my pit.

I had already passed the more than halfway point, so I knew there was no turning back.  I refilled my bottle again, grabbed a little bit of food, and after taking a short bathroom break I was ready to go.  However, I think I was there for a long time, because it seems like that stop took forever.  Mentally I was already drained, and I wandered back to my bike in a haze.

I was now on autopilot.

And this is where I leave you today.  With no photos, I won’t make you read more than you can handle.  Hell, I probably lost you already.

See y’all tomorrow.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ride Your Bike

Because that’s what I plan to do.  All damn weekend.  And by the way, that starts tomorrow.  I took the day off from work, so that means I’m taking the day off from here too.  I’ll be busy first thing tomorrow morning with the start of this:

That’s right, Bike Charlotte kicks off here this weekend, and the first event is the Mayor’s Ride.  And once again this year I’m leading a group from our local mountain bike club, the Tarheel Trailblazers, starting at Queen City Bicycles.  We’ll roll out in a big group to meet up with the mayor and tons of other cyclists from all over town, then we’ll ride into the city like one big happy family (roadies included.)  We'll have free breakfast, get free t-shirts, and talk with our local politicians about bicycling here in Charlotte.  All after starting off our day with a bike ride. 

Although the ride isn’t very long, it’s very important.  If you’re a member of the local cycling community here, come on out and show your support for bicycling here in Charlotte.  It’s a really fun ride that has a huge impact.  Besides, I’ll be there.  Isn’t that enough reason to show up?

In other news, I plan on trying yet another endurance race this weekend. 

The Rivers Edge Mountain Bike Marathon held in the Uwharrie National Forest is Sunday, and this will be my first time actually “racing.”  I’ve volunteered as a medic/course marshal since this event first got started, but now it’s time I man up and enter it.  Of course I’ll be riding the Falcon, in its full rigid form.  The primary goal is to complete 55 miles, and the secondary goal is not to die in the process.  I’m not sure if I can do it, but that won’t stop me.

Every other endurance race I’ve done has been for a certain amount of time (i.e 6, 8, 12 hours etc.)  This time though, to finish the race you have to complete five laps.  Even if I don’t finish, it will still do me some good.  Good Guy Greg will be out there with me (on gears this time because he’s smart) and I even heard that TomTom is running a duo.  Maybe we can get the gang back together for a party pace lap to ease the pain.

I just want to survive.

It will be a rough day, and I will make it even rougher by staying up late the night before.  I’m heading down to nearby Fort Mill, SC for a crawfish boil, which features beer and live music.  Not just any live music though.

These guys will be there:

My man Shane from DeFeet is rolling into town to play with his band CroMoly, and I can’t wait.  This time, Lunchbox finally gets to see them live.  We’re obviously big fans of DeFeet here at B-43, and also big fans of good music.

That’s a helluva lotta stuff going on, and I didn’t even tell you all of it.

Damn it, I’m gonna die this weekend.

See y’all Monday.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just Hanging Around

After spending Saturday building a bike and most of Sunday working, I thought that it might be time to get my shit together.  I started off by working on a bike that I hardly even ride…TK-421.  That’s my geared bike (the white Niner Air9) in case you can’t remember. I gave it a bath, removed and regreased parts as necessary, and finally got around to changing out the seat.

I had been running a WTB Valcon for the last year or so, and I finally figured out that I don’t like it.  It’s not very comfortable, and the weiner slot didn’t serve any real purpose.  So, I put it on my road bike (which gets ridden even less than TK-421).

The WTB Silverado that I took off of the road bike is my favorite seat, mostly because that’s what I run on the Falcon. 

The Falcon is the SS bike.  Pay attention.

Anyway, who knows when the hell I might ride either of those bikes again, but when I do I’m sure I’ll notice a difference.  Having a familiar seat on TK-421 will be nice, and having an uncomfortable seat on the road bike will suck.  Riding a road bike sucks anyway, so it fits.  The Falcon got some love too, but I didn’t think you needed to see another photo of a freshly washed bicycle.

In other news, I’m considering a change in my brand of pedals.  I’ve been a big fan of Crankbrothers for a while now, but having to replace those frilly little brass cleats more than once a season is starting to get on my nerves.

I know I’m pretty rough on shit, but I’ve never had to change the cleats out when I rode Shimano pedals.  I’m not even sure why I switched, although it was probably because Dicky told me not to.  One of these days I might listen to him.

But hey, at least they have great customer service, right?  (Where the hell is the damn sarcasm button?)

Come on, Internets, tell me what I should do.

I still have a ton a shit to talk about, but I’ll hold off for now.  We did a group ride last night, I have another endurance race this Sunday, and there are so many other things going on that I can’t even keep up.

And that, my friends, is why I write this crap every day. 

Just so I can remember.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Big, Green, And Juicy

I really enjoy building bikes.  So much, that when I found out Eastwood was ready to build up his new single speed I invited myself along.  He finally gathered all the pieces for his Kermit Green Niner One9, and Good Guy Greg offered to help him build it.

Mostly I just hung around and did nothing like Greg's cat.

Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true.  I mean, I pulled the Cane Creek headset apart and dropped it several times on the ground, and of course I took photos.

My favorite part was when Greg’s tubing cutter decided not to work when the fork steerer tube needed to be cut.  We had to resort to using the hacksaw, and we all took turns trying to hack that sumbitch off of there.

Eastwood worked the hardest, since it was his bike after all.


Once we got everything together to make it look like a bike, I stepped back to take another photo.

Then I watched as Eastwood put the chain on.  It was exciting.

It actually came out really nice, and it only took us like five hours or something like that (because we didn’t drink beer for some reason.)

And just like that, another single speeder was born.

I kinda feel like the Emperor.

Because another has joined the dark side…

Monday, April 22, 2013

Somewhere There Was Fun

My weekend didn’t start off so great.  When I tried to drive home from work on Friday, I got stuck only a few miles from my destination.

When I finally got home, no one was there.  I had all kinds of alone time to do whatever I wanted, but instead I did nothing.  Well, that’s not entirely true.

I ate.

Ice cream for dinner.  I has it.

I had some kind of plan for Saturday, but I’ll get into that tomorrow.  I should get into now, because the rest of the weekend kinda sucked.  I was on call for work, which usually isn’t too bad.  However, in this case I got called at the wrong times.

Like when I was at Fisher Farm helping out at the Charlotte Youth Cycling League race.

I was out on the course to help the kids if they needed it (and keep the overbearing parents out of the way), and it was nice for a while.

But, work called and I couldn’t ignore it.  I high tailed it outta there, and left the rest of the crew to help with the race.  We were supposed to do trail work later too, but work just went on a little too long.  I even got held up again, this time in my own neighborhood.

When I got home I was exhausted, and I barely even rode my bike.  I’m glad this being on call shit is only one weekend every so often.

In other, less shitty news…

Well, Saturday morning I checked on them and they were doing just fine.

I didn’t disturb the nest for that photo, which led me to believe that they were almost ready to head out on their own.  When I came back that afternoon, I found this:

It looks like everybunny left.

What a weird weekend.

More about the rest of it tomorrow.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Here’s Your Sign

I brought my bike to work with me yesterday, and the plan was to ride when they cut me loose.  When I walked outside to the parking lot though, I saw this:

I thought that I heard it might rain, but I wasn’t sure.  With no drops falling from the sky, I hopped in my truck and made the short drive down to Backyard Trail and prepared to ride anyway.  The sky never did open up, so I rolled out and prepared for some of Charlotte’s most technical of trails.  As soon as I crossed the street and hit the dirt, something felt “off.”

Kinda like I hadn’t been on a bike in a long time.

I’ve been riding every day, but this was the first time I’ve been to BYT in a while.  It doesn’t start out technical at first, but I was having trouble maintain my balance even on little uphill switchbacks.  I woud find out later that this was a sign of things to come.

Rather than quit, I pushed on thinking that I would snap outta my funk and everyting would be okay.  Besides, I was looking forward to one my favorite sections out there:  the Poo Tracks.

Come on, say it with me now. 

Poo Tracks.  

I’ve never had an issue there before, not even the very first time I rode it.  Last night though, I was all over the place.  I nearly fell of into the poo-laden dirt several times, and I swear a couple of trees even jumped out at me.  It was one of those rides where I didn’t feel quite right, but at least I was out on my bike.  That was enough to keep me going.

I was climbing just fine, and I had plenty of power in my legs.  My balance though, was suspect.  When I hit jumps, roots, and rocks, I was unstable.  Reckless, if you will.  Something was off and I couldn’t figure out what it was.  When I got to the road crossing, I stopped for a minute to asses the situation.

With a quick check of the bike I determined that my rear tire pressure was way too low.  I run pretty high pressure back there due to my weight, so I figured that was the problem (the tire pressure, not my weight.)  I grabbed my Co2 from the Awesome Strap mounted to my bike and added a shitload of air.   I was ready to roll again.

I immediately felt like I had more control, but as I hit a small rock drop I heard something make a loud noise.  I stopped real quick to see what it was when I noticed this:

Shit.  That was entirely operator error, because I forgot to secure my strap before I rode off.  As a matter of fact, you can see it in the photo up above (where I stopped at the sign.)  Since I rolled a pretty good distance after it came loose, I had to play “find all my shit on the trail.”

The tube was easily spotted.

I had to do a little digging to find the Co2 though, but eventually I did.

I never did find my tire levers, but that’s not a big deal.  I have a couple of sets of Maxxis levers I can use.  Don't worry though, because the Awesome Strap will not disappoint as long as you make sure it is installed correctly.  I didn't, and I paid for it.  Dumbass.

Back in the saddle again, I kept thinking that something else would go wrong.  It didn’t, and the ride turned out to be pretty rad.  Sure, it started out shitty, but in the end things just end up working out somehow.

Besides, a bad ride is better than no ride at all.

See y’all Monday.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I’m Here Anyway

Despite the fact that I don’t have a lot to talk about, I still find myself here trying to come up with something.  I mean, I did ride my bike a little bit last night, but it wasn’t anything really worth talking about.  I guess I still have a story though.

Yesterday after work, Lunchbox and I were out in the yard doing the usual springtime stuff (mowing, weed whacking, etc.)  When I was on the side of the house, I was chopping down grass on the edge of a flower garden when I noticed a critter come flying out of a hole.  At first I thought it was a frog, but when another one popped out I realized what I had found.

I stopped what I was doing (obviously to take that photo) and summoned Lunchbox over to take a look.  A couple of baby rabbits had run off in terror, so we spent the next few minutes rounding them up.  Since they were really young, they weren’t hard to capture.

There were only three (that I knew of) out of the nest, so we put them back and covered it it.  Lunchbox stood guard while I finished the yard, and we made sure everyone was safe and sound.  However, later that evening when Little Miss Sunshine got home from a big day of Summer Series racing (she got 2nd by the way) we saw another one running across the yard.  I guess we missed the little guy with the first round up, so she grabbed him and took him to safety.

I checked on them again a little while ago, and everyone seems to be doing fine.  I did get one of them with the weed whacker string, but it was a small cut and shouldn’t be a problem.  We did our good deed, so now I won’t feel so bad when they all leave the nest for good and become food for the screech owl that’s looming in the trees across the street.

Yeah, I just did a whole post about saving baby rabbits.  I have a heart, you know.  It’s cold and dark sometimes, but it’s a heart nonetheless.

In other news, you may see some changes here today.  D-Wayne redesigned my blog header again, so I will have that up here sometime today.  If you don’t see anything new right now, then I haven’t changed it yet.  I’ll get to it eventually, you know.

If I’m not too busy saving baby rabbits.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Not A Big Deal

But I’ve ridden my bike this month every single day this month.

You know, because the 30 Days of Biking thing is going down right now.  Well, that and I really enjoy riding my bike.  The event is just an excuse I guess.

I’ve gone on group mountain bike rides (including another fun, social one last night), solo mountain bike rides, greenway rides, and trips to the store for groceries and beer (mostly beer.)  I even got to commute to work yesterday morning on my bike.

While I only live thirteen miles from work, I didn’t ride all the way from the house.  If I did, I would’ve ridden something else other than my rigid single speed, the Falcon.  No, I cheated.  You see, I had to drop my truck off at the shop to get the air conditioning repaired, so I took the opportunity to ride the 1.2 miles from there to work.  It wasn’t a big commute by any means, but it was still a great way to start my day.  I got there pretty quick too, even after having to wait for the train to go by.

Riding to work is something I can’t normally do, because well, I don’t always work in the same place.  I travel around the Charlotte area throughout the day most of the time, and doing it by bicycle wouldn’t be very efficient (according to management.)  So, being able to ride to work at least once was pretty damn awesome.

Even if it was only a short distance.

I rode my bike.  That’s all that matters. 

I may or may not be back here tomorrow.  I have some "maintenance" things to take care of here on the blog.  If I'm here, you'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Just Another Night In The City

After spending all day outside passing out band aids and enjoying a few beers at a local establishment, the crew and I headed Uptown to check out the Presbyterian Invitational Criterium .  We got there as the women’s race was coming to a close, and spent most of our time socializing with the tons of cycling people in attendance that we knew.  It was cool shooting the shit with everyone, and I even got surrounded by a group of my “fans” at one point.

We settled in at the start/finish line just as the call-ups were starting, and I got out the camera just in time to see my man Rahsaan Bahati roll up.

Yeah, I know him, but it’s kinda like the way I know Dicky:  I only see him every once in a while and he doesn’t say much when I talk to him.

Once the race actually started, we all wandered down to the first turn on the course where a crash would be most likely.  I grabbed my camera, and did my best to blind one of the racers to expedite the process.

I lit his ass right up.

From that point on I turned off the flash, which made capturing these super fast guys nearly impossible.

A little while into the race, we saw quite a few guys dropping way off the back.  In fact, they were going so slow that we probably could’ve passed them on foot.  That’s when we got an idea.  Right behind us, we saw our chance to get into the race.

While those “not made for racing cruiser bikes” wouldn’t stand a chance, we had an edge.  Some girls were handing out cans of Red Bull, so we loaded up on energy for the big race.

Instead of feeling a rush of energy, I suddenly felt sleepy.  Our plan to “race” was scrapped, and that was probably the right decision.  We didn’t need to spend the rest of the night in jail anyway, even though that would’ve been fun as hell (not the jail, the racing.)  Instead, we just walked the rest of the course, heckling those roadies with the type of heckling they’ve probably never heard before.  And no, I don’t care to repeat any of it here. 

With the beer wearing off from earlier, we decided to wander around again to find some more beer, and we ended up in some fancy joint where we were probably way under dressed.

We chugged a couple of beers and got back outside just in time to watch the finish, and it was pretty damn exciting.  I have no idea who won (because I only knew the identity of one person in the whole race), but it was still a cool event to watch. 

Beer, bikes, and heckling.  The perfect combination.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fixin’ Roadies

I learned something over the weekend…

I should never race my bicycle on the road.  While I’m sure to forget that lesson and do it  in the future, right now it just seems like a really dumb thing to do.  I spent all day Saturday on medic duty at the 40th Annual Dilworth Criterium, and I was busy as hell.  I barely got my stuff unloaded from the truck when I had to tend to a kid that wrecked.

On the second lap of the first race.

It didn’t ease up from there, either.  I roamed the course on my mountain bike (it was easier to cut through the park and get anyway I needed to be) and I was busy pretty much the whole day fixing boo boos from crashes.  These guys (and gals) seem to have worse injuries than I normally see on the mountain bike trails, and that’s probably enough to keep my dumb ass from ever trying to get involved in road racing.

The first kid ( a junior racing in the Cat 5 men field) hit the curb and went over the bars.  He rolled and landed on his but, which really saved him from any serious injuries.  His dad was there though, and dealing with a parent that gets in the way is way worse than any serious injury.  The kid was okay, and even raced later in the junior field.  He was a little sore, but didn’t even get a speck of road rash on him.

Speaking of road rash, that’s what I did for most of the day.  One girl (who was in the lead) wrecked in a high speed corner, and got pretty scraped up.  She also cracked her helmet, but it looked to me like she didn’t suffer a head injury.  She was convinced to go to the hospital later though, because there may have been a small fracture in her hand.  At least she was in good spirits though.

During the last race of the day (Pro and Cat 1,2), I thought I was pretty much finished.  Everyone told me that these guys are more experienced, so I shouldn’t see any crashes.  A couple of laps in though, a guy wrecked.  He got up and decided to get back in the race.  He said he would come back and see me later.  When the race was coming to a close, I was standing around waiting for that lone injured rider and I saw another crash.  Second place guy got a little out of control, and he took out third and fourth place.  Their race was over, and gave the injured guy from before a chance to get on the podium in second place.  

When it was all said and done, I was working on four people pretty much all at once.  It was a busy day, but I was glad to be able to help.  And, it keeps me in check when I even think I want to try that dumb shit.

I’ll just stay on the trails for “racing.’

Since I bored you to death with my shitty words today, I’ll at least share the photos I took during the very little free time I had.

I packed up my shit afterwards, and the fellas and I met at a local watering hole to plan our next adventure…

More roadie stuff.

I’ll get into that tomorrow.