Friday, June 28, 2013

An Unexpected Change

Remember when I worked to try to stop the creaking on the Falcon and its pesky EBB?

Well, it did stop, but only for about five minutes.  I went through all the recommended steps to keep that thing from making noise, and no matter what I did it just sounded horrible.  During a ride early Saturday morning, I almost quit early because I couldn’t stand the noise.  I’d had enough, so I decided to pay a visit to Mark at The Cycle Path to see if he had any tricks up his sleeve.

We took it apart to see what was going on.

After taking some careful measurements and even trying a brand new EBB to check the fit, it was decided that the old style bottom bracket had ovalized the shell.

There was nothing I could do.

I was told that it should be a warranty issue, so word was sent to Niner to see what could be done.  I found out yesterday that they will indeed warranty the frame, so a new one is on the way.  I really like my raw One9 and how not fancy it is, so when I had to pick a new frame I went with the least flashy one.

My other choices included the most hideous color ever, orange (sorry TomTom), so picking the “licorice” color was a no-brainer.  For once, I’m not really that excited about getting a new bike, but at least I can be excited that it will be quiet when I ride it.  I am really happy that Niner is taking care of me though.  It's a far better experience than the last bike brand I represented for sure.

So yeah, I guess that means there will be a post about a new bike build in the near future.  Don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t be that exciting.

You know what else isn’t that exciting?  I’m probably gonna race tomorrow.

Cross country.  With gears.

Oh joy.

Race report Monday if I do.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Little Riding

For some reason, I had to tell you all about my Washington, D.C bicycle adventure yesterday.  While I was glad that I got to ride a little bit while I was up there, I wouldn’t really classify it as anything quality.  Sure, it was fun, but I need to be in the woods.

Tuesday night I was.

Finally, the weather cooperated and we were able to get back to our regularly-scheduled Tuesday Social.  This time we went to BackYard Trail, and I was amazed at how many people were out there.  Several group rides were taking place, and ours was the last to roll out.  We had a huge group wandering all over the trail at a social pace, and I have to say that it was the most fun that I’ve had on a bike in a long time.  Well, except that I was riding gears. 

I’ll get into that later.  As in tomorrow.

I'm still not used to riding gears, or suspension.  My geared bike is fun and all that, but sometimes I feel like it's not meant to be ridden locally anymore.  It feels out of place.

I rode TK-421 like a single speed (I haven’t gotten around to converting it yet), most of the time because I would forget to shift.  I still had a good time, and I’m glad so many people came out.  I only took the one photo (see above), which should tell you that I was too busy having a good time to worry about capturing images.

Who gives a shit.

Of course, much beer was consumed at the ride’s conclusion.  Fine hoppy beverages and good food, paired with good conversation made for a great night.

I love this bike shit.

And I love short blog posts.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thirty Minutes Or Less

After spending time with my family Monday afternoon, I decided to go into the city.  I’ve been going to Washington as far back as I can remember, and as a history buff I still can’t get enough of it.  Since I had to be home sometime Monday night to get to work yesterday morning, I knew I only had a short window to do a little sightseeing. 

I parked by the Potomac River and planned my adventure.  While I was standing there I took a photo of the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

It was then that I decided that the fastest way around town would be by bike.

They have an awesome bike share program in D.C., and I’ve used those bikes quite a few times now.  I hopped on my rental bike and made sure to hit all the well-known stuff, starting with the Lincoln Memorial right across the road from where I parked.

Then I rode by the Vietnam Memorial.

It’s amazing how much you can see by bike.

In the background, you may have noticed that the Washington Monument looks a little odd.  They are in the process of repairing it, mostly due to damage sustained from an earthquake.  It’s closed off to visitors, but I was able to get close enough to get a good photo.

From there, I headed up the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  They have the coolest bike lanes there, and I felt pretty safe (even though everyone there drives like shit.)

I rolled right up in front of the White House, and after having a short, friendly conversation with a uniformed Secret Service officer I got a pretty good photo.

I rode around the block (a very big block) to the back side and stopped to get a photo of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

And of course the south lawn of the White House.

After that, I had a bit of a ride.  I rode across the National Mall, dodging tourists that weren’t paying attention and suicidal squirrels, eventually making it to the Capitol Building.

Time was running out, so I started to head back to my truck.  I stopped real quick at the Tidal Basin to capture a photo of the Jefferson Memorial, and noticed a helicopter in the sky.

I wonder if the President was on his way out or in.  I guess that’s classified information.  I’m sure I’ve already said too much. 

I was close to where I parked, but I was seriously in danger of getting trapped in the city when everyone started going home.  Although my rental bike wasn’t designed for off-road use, I took a short cut through a field to shave a few minutes off of my trip.

That whole tour took about thirty minutes.  That’s it.  Traveling by bike is quick in any city, but in a place like Washington, D.C. you can see a little history even if you’re pressed for time.  I don’t care about politics or any of that crap, but I do love that city (and history of course.)  Any chance I get to visit I will, even if it’s only for a short time.  I’d rather have visited the area under better circumstances, but at least I enjoyed some of my stay up there.

That’s a lot of stuff crammed into two days (including driving.)  No wonder I’m still tired.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Just Got In


I know I usually let you know when I won’t be here on a certain day, but I didn’t really have time to mention it.  To make a long story short, I had to go to Washington, D.C. because my aunt passed away.  It was a really short trip because I left Sunday morning and got back here late last night (or early this morning, whatever.)

Although my trip wasn’t planned (or for pleasure), I made the most of it.  The six hour drive isn’t too bad, and the scenery was pretty nice.

At one point when I decided to pull over to get some gas, there was a sign at the exit ramp stating that there was a local brewery in the area.  Since I had plenty of time to get to my final destination, I followed the signs to reach this little place in the mountains.

Devils Backbone Outpost Brewery, located in the hills of Virginia, is one of my favorites (I have a lot of favorites.)  I’ve picked up their stuff in the past when I was in the D.C. area, but I’ve never actually been to the brewery.  When I parked and walked up to the door, it looked like I wouldn’t get a chance to go in.

I was only there about fifteen minutes before they opened, so I took that opportunity to go get some gas in my truck.  When I returned, they were open for business.

I walked inside, grabbed a pint, and took a small tour.

Then I sat on the back porch and enjoyed a delicious IPA with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.

I didn’t have time to stay very long, so after enjoying one beer and getting a growler filled I hit the road.  I still had plenty of time to reach my final destination, but not enough time to stick around there all day.  Still, it was like the beer gods made me pull off the interstate to find that lovely place.  It wasn’t a trip for pleasure by any means, but that little pit stop made things just a little bit better.

And of course tomorrow I’ll be back with another detour I took. 

I crammed a lot of stuff into two days.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Slow News Day

It’s Friday, which means that most people have better things to do.  Mostly these “better things to do” involve making plans for the weekend.  I’m no exception.  However, as I sit here and write this crap and nonsense I can’t really come up with a solid plan.

The Dirt Divas have a day trip tomorrow to Bent Creek (out in Asheville), but I really don’t feel like going out of town.  The little lady will be there which means Lunchbox and I have a free weekend.  Since he’ll be busy with typical teenager stuff, I’ll be left to fend for myself.  Luckily I have plenty of beer and plenty of opportunities to ride.

I’ve spent some time lately getting my bikes in order, which so far hasn’t meant converting my geared bike to single speed though.  The Falcon, my (currently) one and only single speed was filthy from racing last weekend.  It was making that creaking sound so common to Niner One9s and I had to do something about it.

So I took it all the way apart and cleaned it thoroughly.

When I put it back together, I returned it to my normal local gearing so I would be ready to ride anything around here in a moment’s notice.  32X18 is perfect for our local trails, and I plan to keep it that way and use the other bike for the tougher stuff.

Less decisions, less hassle.

Keep it simple.

In other news, I recently did a good deed.  I took an old frame, some spare parts, and with the help of a couple of deals here locally I put together a “new” bike.

If you recognize the frame, that’s because it used to belong to Lunchbox.  He quickly grew out of his large 29er and got an upgrade when I switched bike companies, so this frame was sitting around collecting dust.  A co-worker of mine was interesting in getting a “new” bike to ride around here, and I told him if he purchased the couple of parts I needed for a complete build that I would give him everything else.  It helped me by getting some crap out of the garage, and it helped him by giving him a better bike that what he had.

See, sometimes I’m nice.  Even if it is for my own personal gain.

While this bike isn’t the greatest in the world, it’s much better that what he is currently riding.  I clear up some garage space, another person gets hooked on riding in the woods, and everyone walks away a little happier in the process.

Now if I could just figure out what I want to do this weekend.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I’ll Make It Simple

Okay, not that simple. 

Back when I mentioned that I had a decision to make, I think most of you knew where this was heading.  I did, and that’s why I made some preparations in advance. 

A package showed up da udda day from Canada.

Yeah, it says Misfit Psycles on it, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. 

Was it some smuggled Tim Hortons coffee? 

A handwritten invitation to join Cap’t Dicks SourToe Cocktail Club?

Whatever it is, it looks like Customs tried to sneak a peek.

Actually, it was a couple of odds and ends I needed to convert my geared bike to a single speed.  Yeah, I said it.  Y’all knew it was coming, and obviously I did too.  That’s why I had Peter send me some genuine Canadian single speed conversion parts.

Space age aluminum spacers and a couple of half-links so I can find the “magic gear” instead of using a tensioner.  I’m ready to get this party started, but I’m not sure when it will take place.  I’m actually considering one more geared cross country race as a proper send off, but of course I’ll get into that another time.  But, the plan is to get those damn gears off very soon.  I’ll let you know.

Also in the package, I received a sticker that reminded me of the fate of that once glorious cycling company to our north.


And since I like stickers so much, I took the liberty to “alter” my bikes to help me get through the tough times.



Oh, I will.

So yeah, the circle is now complete.  It is my destiny to go full on to the dark side.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Too Much Effort

Lap three of the Tree Shaker and I was still feeling pretty good.  I knew I couldn’t keep up a breakneck pace with my heart rate through the roof, but I was determined to keep going.  I didn’t want to back way off to let Big Crom and Good Guy Greg catch me, but I started feeling like it would happen anyway.  I made a conscious effort to keep my heart rate around 85% when I could, and use the flat stuff to recover.  It worked, until I got a big ol’ surprise.

After a couple of miles, Big Crom was suddenly right behind me.

BC:  “Man, I had to work hard to catch you!” Even though he wasn’t even breathing hard.

Me:  “I had to work hard to keep you away.”  As I tried not to let him hear me breathing hard.

We rode together for a while shooting the shit, and I was unknowingly revving up my pace to try to wear him out.  I realized that I wouldn’t make it past three laps if I kept it up though, so I told him to go on while I backed off a bit.  He passed me, and I resisted the urge to chase.  Then I knew it would only be a matter of time until Good Guy Greg did the same thing to me.

I was hurting, mostly from my lower back tightening up (and the crash earlier.)  My legs were okay, except for a couple of small cramps when I stood on steep climbs.  In spite of the pain, I tried to keep a good pace until I got to the pit area.  I was so happy to see the gravel road again.

Photo credit:  The Trail Mayor

And I heard that my boy was hanging in there too.

I hopped off my bike at my tent and immediately grabbed a couple of ibuprofen capsules to help with the back pain.  I ate a little bit, drank some, refilled my water bottles, and headed back out for lap four.  I was hurting, but I didn’t want to make the mistake of staying in the pit too long.  That’s bitten me in the ass before, and I wanted to make sure I kept moving so my legs wouldn’t start with the full on cramps.

I bombed the downhill stuff, and on the first climb I started to get a little relief from the pain.  I was moving a little slower, but it was still a pretty good pace.  I made sure to keep drinking fluids when I could, but that was pretty difficult.  Riding with one hand on roots with a rigid fork is a recipe for disaster.  I ran off the trail a couple of times because of it.

Lap four was over before I knew it, mostly because I was in a daze.  I returned to the pit area and refilled bottles, rolling out again without hardly even stopping.  I had completed four laps in four hours, which was a much better pace (so far) than last year.  And I found out later that Lunchbox completed three laps (a personal best for him) in a little over four hours.  That was good enough to get him 16th out of 21 riders, all of whom were far superior riders (and adults.)

I was proud, but I still had half of a race to go.  I was on autopilot at this point, and I really don’t remember much of the details.  I watched as the miles ticked away, and I found myself looking forward to the couple of fast, downhill spots so I could enjoy myself.  I was suffering a little bit, but at least I was moving.  Besides, I knew Good Guy Greg was still trying to catch me. 

Once again I rolled through the pit area without stopping.

Lap six was weird.  I was cramping a little bit, but my heart rate was finally under control.  Every once in a while though, I would look down at the display and it would read “0.”

“Oh shit”, I thought, “Am I dead?”

No, but I knew it wouldn’t be long.

In an effort to give myself a little boost, I drank a bottle of iced coffee.  When I saw that it had 200 calories, I decided to drink one more.  I didn’t realize that it contained milk (I wasn’t thinking clearly at this point), and that shit was sloshing around in my stomach like the ocean in a hurricane.  The caffeine helped a little, but I was starting to feel sick.  About halfway through the lap I was spacing out, and I got really cold.


My first though was, “My body is shutting down.”  I didn’t want that to happen, and I sure as hell wasn’t gonna quit.  I really wanted to get off of my bike, sit down on the side of the trail, and take a nap.  At that point I didn’t give a shit where I was, and I especially didn’t care if I finished the race.  I even contemplated jumping in the creek a couple of times. 

Somehow, I kept going.

I made it back to the pit, grabbed some food, refilled my bottles, and grabbed a Pepsi to stuff in my jersey pocket (I should’ve grabbed a beer.)  I took off again, and felt much better.  Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have time to do another lap after that one so I at least tried to enjoy it.  The singletrack was fun, and the climbing wasn’t so bad anymore.  I think I had passed the point of exhaustion but my mind still wanted to keep going.  I was having fun I guess, even though I had no idea why.

I walked only two climbs, and actually did it in a hurry.  I resisted the urge to stop even when I dismounted, knowing that all I had to do was keep moving.  Nearly at the eighth hour, I rolled up on the gravel road and headed to the finish line.  I was happy to be there too, even though I had no idea how I did it.  I ended up with one more lap than I did last year, and I did it faster too.  If it matters, I was in fifth place, although that wasn’t too important.  I gave that race everything I had, and for once I didn’t feel like I didn’t work hard enough.

It’s the little victories, you know?

And I was really proud of my son too.

It was a good day to suffer.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Wasn’t Sure I’d Survive

Especially with this guy hanging out in the pit area.

Yes folks, the Tree Shaker would be yet another chance for me to test my mental and physical limits, and I was ready I guess.  I was out there to push myself, but once again my kid was there to have fun.

Photo credit from here on out:  The Trail Mayor

Lunchbox was doing his first endurance race (the four hour variety), and he didn’t seem one bit nervous.  His plan was to ride as much as he could for four hours in a cow suit.  That was simple enough.  We lined up for the pre-race announcements, and I started thinking about my strategy.

It was “wipe your ass with a snow cone” hot already, and when we rolled to the start line back down the road I was at peace and ready to have a good time.

Since it was getting warm, I was on a single speed, and I was wearing a heart rate monitor, I came up with the most brilliant of strategies…

I would be a race car in the red.

When we took off, I really took off.  I spun my ass off on the gravel road, hoping to get into the single track early so I wouldn’t get caught up in the inevitable traffic jam.  I watched as my heart rate shot up to 98%, and stayed there.  I felt okay, so I figured that I should keep pushing it to see how long I could take it.  No matter how I’ve tried to conserve my energy in the past, I still usually end up feeling shitty.  I figured that this time I would earn that shitty feeling.

My kid was working it too, although he had a few more gears than I did.

I ran that whole lap pretty fast, and stayed what I thought was up near the front.  The two single speeders that I knew for sure were trying to catch me (Good Guy Greg and Big Crom) were nowhere to be found.  I used that as motivation and kept my wheels a’ spinnin’.

Despite the fact that I was red-lining, I felt okay.  When I got to the very last singletrack climb on the course before the exit, I stood up to mash my way through and slipped on a root.  I slammed down hard on my right side, knocking my wind out for a second.  I got back on, walked a few feet, hopped back on my bike, and rode my ass off towards the start/finish line.

I was superfly TNT.

I had already made the decision not to stop in the pit, since I had only consumed one bottle during that lap.  I threw my empty bottle to TomTom (who had just finished lap one for his duo team) and asked him to fill it for me while I was gone.  I took off, and tried my best to put a gap on everyone else.

I didn’t know if it would work, but I didn’t give a shit.  I was prepared to go out in a blaze of glory.  It’s more fun that way, you know.

Lap two was a little more of the same, although there was a lot less traffic this time.  I found myself consciously trying to control my heart rate on the flatter sections, and I didn’t worry too much about how high it got on the climbs.  I knew I would get tired eventually, so I used it while I had it.  It was a great lap, and I turned what was probably my fastest lap time of the day.  When I came around to the pit area I grabbed my freshly refilled bottle (thanks again, TomTom) and rolled off as fast as I could. 

I felt like I was gonna die, but as least I was moving fast.  Let's see if I could keep it up for lap three.

Oh, would you look at the time?  I’d better get going.

I’ll finish this up tomorrow, or tell you how it finished me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Better Than Race Day

Saturday was the big one, but I don’t have time to get into that right now.  Instead, I’ll talk about one of my favorite holidays:  Fathers Day.  For the last sixteen years, being a dad has been what defines me the most.  Everyone that comes here knows my kid Lunchbox (Isaiah), and how much he means to me.  We spent the day Saturday on our bikes riding in the Tree Shaker, but our time yesterday was a lot more fun.

We took in a little history at a nearby military park.

Kings Mountain Military Park is only a short drive from us here in Charlotte, and since we both enjoy history we decided to spend the day there.  After watching a short movie about the battle that happened during the Revolutionary War, we took to the paved hiking trail to see the battleground.

It was beautiful out there.

And the best part was being out there with my boy.

There were all kinds of monuments to see too.

And we learned a few things.

When we finished, we took a nice drive through the beautiful South Carolina countryside and eventually ended up back in the city.

And even stopped for dessert.

Yeah, today has nothing to do with riding a bike, but I don’t really care.  Sometimes I talk about other stuff around here, and my kid comes first anyway.  As much as I love riding bikes, being a dad makes me feel better than anything else I’ve ever done.

Yesterday was pretty rad.

Back to bike stuff tomorrow of course.