Friday, February 28, 2014

Fun Friday

I’m gonna head to the mountains and get rad this weekend.

Another Fun Friday is here.  A few pictures, and even fewer words.  Of course I’m gonna share some stuff that Lunchbox sent me that’s weird and maybe even funny.

We know why you get on the Internets.

Too much?  Sorry.  I’m such a dick.

Go do something useful with your life instead of wasting time here on a Friday.

I’m off to the hills to ride my bike and drink some beer.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Back To The Basics

Yesterday I told y’all I was building another bike. It shouldn’t be a surprise, since I mentioned it before. In case you forgot, I’m building my very own Klunker, so I can be just like those guys from that movie.

Oops. Not that one, this one:

I also told y’all I had to order new wheels for it. Mostly it was because it would cost too much to repair the old ones, but also because those old Schwinn wheels don’t accept modern-day mountain bike tires. The wheels came in a while ago (I talked about it already, try to keep up), and after a delay due to the snowy weather we had my tires did too. So, thanks to Maxxis and First Flight Bikes I’ve started putting together my new (old) bike.

Since it will be kinda like they did in the olden days (I like saying “olden”), I’m not gonna bother to paint it. The paint isn’t really that bad, so I’ve just cleaned it up a little (with some ProGold Degreaser Wash.) Most of the stuff on that bike was just grime from being in a barn for all those years, and it comes off with a little work. The cranks look almost new.

I got a seat, seatpost, pedals, and a new chain, but I haven’t had a chance to get everything assembled. Eventually the plan is to get some new handlebars, but with the stuff I have now I can ride it as soon as I put it all together. I can’t wait.

Maybe I should race that thing in Pisgah soon. I won’t die, right? Those old guys rode rad stuff on their old bikes, and they lived to tell about it. Maybe that’s because they were high as shit though.

Damn smokin’ the hippy trees.

I’m out.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


And just like that, things are back to normal. I’m riding my bike for fun, thinking about racing again, and most importantly, the weather is cooperating. After weeks of shit weather, most of the trails around here are finally in good enough shape to ride again. Our usual Tuesday night social ride is back on again, and I couldn’t be happier. The gang was all back together, and we had a blast.

Mostly because we couldn’t stop laughing at the pie plate that Eastwood had on the Glow Worm.

There was a down side though, as one of our riders had a mishap with his crabon crank.

At least the Charlotte Niner crew was back together again.

TomTom probably had the most fun though, because one of those bikes there is his. Yeah, he got a new bike. Us Niner folks around here pestered him about it enough, so he finally jumped on the big wheel bandwagon. He shopped for a while and finally gathered up all the necessary shit to build it, so he came over to the house to put it together.

Since this was the first time he’d put together his very own mountain bike, I tried to let him do most of it under my supervision. After a couple of small mishaps with the pressfit bottom bracket and the rear brake hose, we were moving along. A few beers later (for me), it was done.

Yes, we also suckered, I mean helped him decide to go single speed. I had a little trouble finding the “magic gear” to run it without a tensioner, but eventually it all worked out. With a 32 tooth ring up front, a KMC half link, and a Misfit Psycles 19 tooth cog he was ready to roll.

Even though it wasn’t my bike, building it made my day. In fact, it helped me find my mojo again to make bikes more fun. A road ride that morning, building a new bike for a friend (and creating a new single speeder in the process), and even heckling at a local race was just the kind of weekend I needed.

Now I just have to keep it going. Luckily I’m building one more bike (for me this time.)

Maybe, just maybe I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Fun Has Returned

I was confused about pretty much everything that had to do with bikes in my life. What I originally thought was me being burned out on racing turned out to be much more. I have all these bikes and I write a blog every day about bike stuff (mostly), but I felt like I was just going through the motions. I needed to have fun, and for some reason I couldn’t see it right in front of me.

Bikes are fun.

All bikes. I have an urban bike, mountain bikes, a road bike, and even unicycles (okay, technically not bikes, whatever) and I didn’t want to ride any of them. After whining to the Internets and hearing from people that care (and even those that don’t), I realized that I was making a big deal out of nothing. All I have to do is hop on one of my two-wheeled machines and pedal.

It’s that simple.

I didn’t need to take a break, get counseling, or even find a new hobby. Just to test that, I decided to grab my least favorite bike and go for a spin.

Yup, I took the road bike out. I went on a route that was very familiar to me, and I really enjoyed it. It was a route that I did a few years ago when I participated in a local shop group ride. I remember that it was fun back then, so I figured it would be a safe bet to try again. I had some beautiful views, fun hills (both up and down), and the weather was perfect. I even saw some wildlife.

That was a gratuitous beaver shot. You’re welcome.

When I finished, I texted the little lady to let her know I didn’t die. I told her I had fun too.

“Who is this?” she replied.

Always with the jokes. Yes, I did a road ride and enjoyed it. I didn’t feel like less of a mountain biker either. Go figure. I guess whatever bike you ride doesn’t define you. I just ride bikes, and I’m no better (or worse) than you because of the bike I hopped on that day. Well, I was Holier than you though, thanks to the new socks DeFeet sent me.

Now I’m hungry. Great. Nothing makes you fall in love with riding again like a little Divine intervention.

I’m back. Let’s have some damn fun riding bikes now.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Grand Finale

Last race of the 2014 Winter Short Track Series.  We decided to pick up some party supplies and make things a little more interesting.

You see, Lunchbox is pretty much down for anything.

With different costumes, it was pretty much the same as before.  Racers raced, and us woods-dwellers drank beer and heckled.

Until the single speeders came out and the piñata grew a giant pink penis.  Just in time for Dicky to ride by.

Shit got really weird when Zac rolled through, when a cloud of smoke appeared out of nowhere.

Even though it was the last race of the series, for some reason no one tried to bust the piñata.  When Faster Mustache's Paul C. found out it was filled with delicious chocolate doughnuts, he decided to go for it in a non-violent way.

Mmmmm, nothing like digging in a donkey's ass for a tasty treat.

I think he started a trend, because Joey got in on it too.

Turns out he wasn't hungry though.  He put one on a stick to give to the racers.

What a nice guy.

The day flew by.  Before we knew it, the race was over.  Lunchbox decided that he'd had enough of our doughnut-filled friend and put him out of his misery.

What an awesome series.  We had a blast in the woods, and we heard nothing but good things from the people that raced (and had to put up with our shit.)  I've raced this series for last few years, so I understand how much it helps.  Not racing at all was a little weird, but I guess I just needed to have some fun around bikes without actually riding my bike. 

Things are looking up.  I can't wait for next year.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fun Friday (Sorta)

Business first.

I got e-mails, comments, texts, and even phone calls after yesterday's post. I appreciate it. If I had feels I would feel them. I write whatever I feel like writing, and I realize that yesterday's post came off a little sad and whiny. That wasn't my intent, although I guess I was pretty sad and whiny (maybe I missed my nap or something.)  It's not about racing or how that guy is faster than me or takes it more serious than I do. I think it's a matter of me not having the passion to even ride my bike anymore, and that's why I was concerned. I won't give it up. I'm sure I still like it, but I need to find a way to get inspired again. I was just burned out I guess.

Most of the advice I got was right in line with how I see things happening. I'm not making a decision now though. In fact, I'm not making a decision at all. I'm gonna just let shit happen. I'll ride my bike and have fun. If that means doing some races, then so be it. If that means becoming a professional heckler, then I'm good with that. I understand that there can be a balance between racing, training, and fun, and even one between riding on the road and on the mountain bike.

I still love all those dirt roadies, I really do (I'm friends with a lot of 'em). When it's all said and done, we all ride bikes. That's good enough for me, but it doesn't mean that I'll stop making fun of people. I make fun of myself, so why should I take it easy on anyone else?

Let's all stop being so damn serious about bicycles and get back to the fun.

Maybe you like training your ass off, but there's probably a better way.  This looks fun:

Let's go have a good time, shall we? I'm off to get ready for the grande finale of the Winter Short Track Series. We have to make this last one a party that won't be soon forgotten.

See, I'm already heading in the right direction. Bring on the fun.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A New Beginning?

Waking up to that sunrise in Florida on Sunday made me realize that I had some stuff to think about. I was in a foul mood, confused, upset, and left wondering what the future holds. Although you can't officially DNF a lap endurance race, I still felt like a quitter. I mean, I'm usually that guy that keeps going no matter what, until the race is “officially” over. Cramps, pain, mechanical issues, etc. have never kept me down, because my mind always made sure I continued on. To me, that was fun. The feeling I had when a race was over was so awesome. I'd accomplished something, and I was much stronger for it.

I have no idea why I didn't want to have that same feeling after the 12 Hours of Santos. I'd accomplished one of my goals that weekend though, which was to get away from the cold weather to ride my bike on some really fun trails with good people. After that, I didn't care. I realize now that this feeling started way before last weekend.

Back a few years ago when I decided to do my first complete season of the Southern Classic Series, I took it seriously. I had fun pushing myself, but I also worked very hard both on and off the race course. I got on the podium a few times in individual races, and even ended up 2nd overall in my class when it was all over. The next year, I tried to do the same thing and I struggled. Less podium trips, and eventually I limped into 2nd overall again somehow. I remember wishing that the season would hurry up and be finished, and I vowed not to race in it again. I was burned out, and I “retired” from cross country racing.

I switched to endurance racing, thinking that it would keep things fresh. It did for a while, but this time the burnout came quicker. Although I didn't drop out of races early, the voices in my head worked overtime to try to get me to. I never trained, ate what I wanted, and drank all the beer I could get my hands on. I still did okay, and damn it I was having fun. More fun than those super serious people that train all the time I thought. “They can't be having fun” I told myself. “Who the hell wants to spend all their free time training for this shit and take it so seriously?”

Not me. I have better things to do.

Bike riding is supposed to be fun. I have a job, and they pay me to work. I don't need to turn my hobby into a job. Even if you win a race, what the hell does that get you? Bragging rights? Who gives a shit. I rode my bike, hung out with some cool people, and drank some beer while you monitored your cadence, heart rate, and lactate threshold. I won every time, even if you were on the podium.

Maybe they're on to something though. I used to have fun when I trained a little and did well in races. I wasn't that serious, but I could have been. Maybe I was afraid of turning out just like them. You know, not having any fun. Who the hell am I to say that those people aren't having fun? Is that why I make fun of dirt roadies? Maybe. After all, we do race mountain bikes. Sure, riding on the road does help, but to me it didn't make sense. I'm still confused, but I know for sure that I don't want to spend so much time on the road getting “in shape” that I forget how to ride technical stuff in the woods.

That's where my problem lies. If you like to train on the road to get stronger for mountain biking, then go for it. If the only time you actually ride your mountain bike is on a race course, then you sure as shit better not call yourself a mountain biker. I understand the need to train, and even see the benefit of road riding to help with endurance, etc. I just don't know if I can balance that with riding off road.

I'll admit it...

I'm afraid that I might become what I have despised over the years.

This is why I need to make a decision. I used to love racing my mountain bike. Why don't I anymore? Is it the influx of dirt roadies getting in my way on the tech stuff (and blowing by me on the easy shit?) Is it my own personal demons? Can racing ever be fun for me again?

I don't know the answers. I don't know shit, quite honestly. Well, I know that I pretty much have three options.

I can give up racing for good and just ride my bike for fun. I may miss it, and eventually jump back into it full steam just to get burned out again.

I can pick it back up and become more serious, going to spin classes (or whatever the hell y'all call it), hiring a coach, shaving my legs, and basically being a dick about riding my bike. Since I don't know when to say when, it would only be a matter of time before I came a super serious dirt roadie, getting heckled to death and cussed out by real mountain bikers.

The third option is kind of a gray area. Maybe I can “train” a little. You know spend some time on the road working on my fitness. The majority of the time I'll be on knobby tires, and I won't worry about how many beers I can drink based on how many miles I rode. I can race here and there, and heckle others when I don't feel like racing. I guess this would be like how it was in the past.

I know when I started the drive home from Florida, I was done racing. I thought for sure that after the race report I would be on here talking about how I'm quitting for good. Luckily it was a long drive, and I didn't have to make any decisions right away. I still don't, so I haven't. I've bought and paid for two races this season so far, and I'm pretty sure I'll do them. Now it's a question of whether or not they will be my farewell tour.

I don't have to decide today. I don't expect y'all to decide for me either. I'll figure it out though, hopefully sooner rather than later. It all boils down to me wanting to have fun on my bike, and how I'll go about it.

I think I'm even more confused now than when I started writing this.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pick Up Where I Left Off

Lap two started out great. I was climbing well and riding at a swift, yet easy pace.  It felt really awesome. With the group really spread out, I hit every single trail feature.  Some were difficult, and some were just plain fun.

Photo Cred:  Joan Bernat

I did have a few issues though. My left foot kept slipping out of the pedal, causing me to almost pee a little every time I rode over some rocky shit.  “No worries” I thought, “I'll just check it after this lap.”  I knew I would have to stop anyway since my bottle would need refilling by then.  I kept pushing through the first technical section, and then it was on to the flat, twisty stuff.

“Not this shit again” I said to myself.

That's right.  I was bored already.  I didn't know how much spinning I could take, so I tried to keep it interesting.  Since I was on single speed and didn't want to wear myself out with a high cadence, I kept a sensible pace.  Every once in a while some of those fancy “pro” guys would come flying by (some polite and some not) and I would resist the urge to keep up.

Until this one time...

I saw a pack of four guys behind me, all of them yelling shit like “Rider back!” and “Coming in hot!” so I would let them by.  When it was safe I did, but since I this time I took off after them.  Mere seconds later I was part of their dirt roadie train, and I politely announced to them that I was there.

“Hey y'all.  So, this is what it's like to be one of those super pro fast riders, huh?”

I kept up for a while (it was actually kinda easy), but decided that I had better slow it down so I can survive the rest of the day.  They pulled away, and I had a feeling that I would see them again soon.  I was right, because after the flat stuff is a “qualifier” for the next difficult section of trail, and I had a hunch that they would have trouble getting over the large rock. 

As I rolled up, I saw one guy had already crossed it (he was still off his bike), and the other three were in the process of dismounting to walk over it.  In my best dirt roadie voice I yelled, “Rider back!” and rolled right over the nasty, jagged rock.  When I cleared it I asked, “First time riding mountain bikes?”

No response.  I'm an asshole.

They passed me a few minutes later, and I was bored again. I finished the last technical section and made my grand exit.

Photo cred:  Christie Burnett 

I stopped in my pit to grab something to eat and refill my water bottles.  Just then, Tom F. showed up and we chatted a bit.  What was supposed to be a short pit stop turned into a very long time.  I just didn't feel like going back out there even though my body felt great.  I had a beer, shot the shit with Tom for a while, and decided that I would get off my ass and go back out there.  Luckily, he offered to make a photographic image of me.

Photo credit:  Tom Fraser

This lap didn't start off well.  My foot slipped off the pedal more than it stayed on (I forgot to check it), and for some reason I was really sleepy.  I doubt it was from that one beer I had, so I chalked it up to being bored (and not sleeping well the night before.)  I made the climbs and rode all the features again (which were still fun), but my heart just wasn't in it.  When I came out in to a clearing to start the flat section again, I spotted Tom standing there with his bike.  He was about to ride some more so I stopped, summoned him over, and asked if he wanted to ride along with me. 

He did, which kept me going for a while.

We had fun laughing at the technically challenged dirt roadies, and even tried to instruct them how to pass with politeness.  Only a few of them were dicks, which was pretty good considering how many people were out there that day. Once guy though, needed to go back to the beginner class.  He came up, announced he was back there, tried to pass, and smacked right into Tom.  He looked like a fool, mostly because he wasn't paying attention.  Tom wasn't hurt, but I think that guy's Strava time might have taken a hit.

Eventually it was time to finish the lap.  I crossed the start/finish line and rolled back to my pit.  I checked out my pedal and noticed that I had broken the spring.  I had a spare set in my truck, but didn't really feel like changing them.  I was done.  My body wanted to keep going, but my mind didn't.  Usually it's the other way around, so I was confused.  I sat there for a while and thought about it, but I just couldn't bring myself to go back out. 

No more racing for me.

I grabbed a beer and headed towards the scoring tent to pull the plug on my race.  On the way there, I say\w the Jacksonville crew (fresh off the six hour race) doing a little heckling. 

They made a sign, and while they camped out on the jump line they judged everyone’s ability to catch air.  The sign was awesome.

I sat there for quite sometime heckling right along with them, thinking that was where I belonged instead of racing.  Honestly though, even though I was having fun I didn't know what was going through my head.  I packed up my stuff and went out to eat some alligator with Tom at a local shit hole.  He offered up his camp cabin (with hot showers), so I stayed there for the night.  It was quite cozy.

The next morning, I made the drive back to Charlotte in almost complete silence.  I had a lot of thinking to do, and some decisions to make as far as racing goes.  It was not a pleasant journey (in my head or on the road.)

I'll get into that tomorrow I guess.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I couldn't wait to get out of Charlotte Friday morning and head down to Florida for the 12 Hours of Santos. First though, I had to get out of my neighborhood.

Roads were dangerous and traffic was shit. A drive that should've taken a little over seven hours took me about eleven. I only stopped for gas, and once to clean all the salty road grime off of my bike and truck.

When I finally got just south of Ocala, FL to the race site, it was dark. Luckily, setting up “camp” was as easy as crawling in the back of my truck.

My old Army sleeping bag still comes in handy after all these years.

Once I got unpacked and got something to eat I hung out with the Jacksonville crew, drinking beer by the fire, and talking shit. I eventually crawled into “bed” for some shut eye. I wasn't nervous and I was actually comfortable, but for some reason I tossed and turned most of the night instead of sleeping. Once I finally dozed off, I woke up to the sound of rain.


As the sun came up it eventually stopped. After donating to the porta potty a few times, I picked up my race number and started to get my shit ready. Then I got a text from local Trailblazer Tom F. who had just arrived in town. He wasn't there to race, instead making the drive down there to escape all the shit weather we had here. I rode up to meet him, and once he got ready we rode back to the pit area.

Although he was there just to ride, he hung around for a while. He planned to ride while I “raced”, because Santos is just so awesome. It's not mountain-y like it is up here, but it's pretty rad with plenty of elevation (for Florida.)

Anyway, it was time for me to start. We dropped off our bikes up the hill, walked back down into the pit, and after some race announcements (and the singing of the National Anthem) we were off. Since I knew I had all day, I watched as most people ran to get their bikes. I strolled along casually with some of the Jacksonville crew and eventually hopped on and rode away.

It started out really flat, and since we were all pretty jammed up the pace was slow. I passed a few people here and there, and the goal was to keep a steady pace for twelve hours. Going around some of the corners I noticed that my rear tire as really low. One a few of the jumps I felt the rim hit the ground, and knew that I would blow out the tire if I kept riding on it. I didn't want to stop though.

The first lap was more like a lap and a half, and after the first “extra” half, I popped out into the pit to actually start the course. I stopped really quick, put the proper amount of air in both tires (the rear was down to 19 p.s.i.) and got right back into it. That's when the technical shit started.

Dirt roadies plus everyone still bunched together meant that I had to get off and walk a lot. Short yet steep climbs would've normally been a piece of cake, but with ten people in front of you stopping to walk it made it sucky. I tried not to get frustrated, instead focusing my energy on getting around them at every available opportunity. It kinda worked, I guess.

Rocky and twisty, the trail was fun. I did quite well (if I do say so myself), and I looked forward to each and every climb. After the super duper expert (by Florida standards) part, we popped out on some mostly flat, yet still twisty trail. The field had started to spread out, and I was having a great time. I knew it would be a good day. Soon, I made it out and was on my way to the pit area.

Photo cred: Christie Burnett

After going through the star/finish line I passed my pit, tossed one empty water bottle towards my truck, and headed right back out for lap number two. With no one around, I could keep up my own pace, and ride any and every trail feature that I saw. I thought, “It's gonna be so awesome from here on out.”

I don't think too clearly sometimes.

Tomorrow, I tell you all about it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

You Can’t Stop Me

Well, maybe you can.  Looks like I’m not going anywhere for a while.

I live on a big hill, and with all the snow that fell (plus ice and even more snow on the way) there’s no way I’m getting out of here to go to work.  Luckily, the boss is fine with that.  That’s good, because I don’t want a repeat of yesterday’s drive home.

I got to leave work early, and when I got home we got to play in the snow for a while.  The first thing I did was grab a beer.

And then we busted out the snow skateboards.  Lunchbox had a blast going down the big hill.

I couldn’t resist though, so I took the Executor out for a romp in the snow.

Since I don’t have to go anywhere, I think I’ll get up with TomTom later so we can go ride.  We have a trail that’s always open, and as of yet hasn’t been ridden in the snow.  I just have to brave the icy roads to get there (on my bike of course) and try not to bust my ass.  I can’t afford to crash, because tomorrow I leave for sunny Florida.

Yup.  In two days I’ll be “racing” in the 12 Hours of Santos.  It will be quite a change, going from freezing temps and snow to highs in the upper 60s.  I think I can handle that part, but can I handle being on my bike for twelve hours?

Tune in Tuesday to find out. 

And by the way, I’m leaving early tomorrow morning for Florida, so don’t come here expecting a Fun Friday post.

Go make your own fun.