Friday, May 30, 2014

Fun Friday

We made it through another week.  I also made it this whole time without riding a bike.  That part sucks.  I’ll try to make up for it this weekend though.  I’m hoping to go somewhere (up in the hills maybe), but that depends on whether or not I can get Lunchbox to go with me.  I think he’s overdue for some riding too.

I’m sure I’ll drink some of my beer too, since it’s so damn good…

And plenty hoppy.  I like hoppy.

I’ve worked really hard this week, so I deserve a reward.

Maybe you should get out too.  Stop sitting around on Facebook wasting time trying to help people.

That shit doesn’t work.

See y’all Monday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

All In For Beer

It was finally time to check the home brew I made a couple of weeks ago.  After bottling all the good stuff to wait it out, I took what was left in the fermenter to use for a taste test.  I keep an old root beer bottle around for just that purpose.  It ain’t pretty, but it holds beer.

The bottle was rock hard, meaning that it was fully carbonated.  That was a good sign.  I refrigerated it for a couple of days, and finally got a chance to try it out.  I slowly poured it into a glass, and not surprisingly it looked just like beer.

I didn’t pour much in the glass, because I didn’t want all the sludge that was in the bottle to end up in my glass.  Since it came from the bottom of the barrel (I mean that quite literally), it was full of hops and other stuff you really don’t want to drink.  The second pouring shows this.

The first glass I poured though, was fucking excellent.  Very, and I mean very hoppy.  Bitter as all get out, perfectly carbonated, and delightful to drink.  The alcohol content was pretty high, and I immediately felt the effects.  Not bad for some guy making that shit in his kitchen I suppose.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve brewed beer.  So long in fact, that I thought I might have forgotten how to do it.  Now I have sixteen bottles (bigger than the old root beer bottle) to share.

Or to keep all to myself.

Nah, just kidding.  I shall share.  I have a few folks around here that will get a taste, and I plan to bring a little across state lines when I travel to Florida in a few weeks for Mr. Shepherd’s wedding.  We’ll see if I can make it last that long.  It’s so good that I’m not sure if I can stop from drinking it all myself.

I made good beer.  See?  I’m actually good at something.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Old Metal

I almost forgot to mention what I did Saturday night.  A friend of mine is in a new band, and he invited me to come to their show.  It seemed like it was out in the middle of nowhere, but forty five minutes later I was ready to hear some old school music.  The new band is called FIRE (Pronounced Fiyaaaaahhhhh!!!), and they play the classics like Iron Maiden, ACDC, Quiet Riot, and Judas Priest.  It was a small venue, but the music was big.

My man Gil tore it up playing “The Trooper”

You might recognize him from my other local favorite band, CroMoly.  He’s still with them too, but this new band plays much harder stuff.  I knew he could jam, but I didn’t realize just how good he was until that song (well, that and when he channeled Eddie Van Halen on “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.”

These guys put on a show, and sounded pretty damn good too.

Two lead guitarists, taking turns like real rock stars. 

You might also notice the DeFeet logo on his shirt.  It’s actually a special run of the DeFeet CroMoly jersey (I have one too), so you can see that he’s still down with the folks in Hildebran, NC.

Anyway, these guys were loud.  Big sound, hard music, and a small venue made sure of that.

I sat right up front like a groupie, but mostly because I wanted to watch the guitar playing.  I’m still learning, but I came away inspired.  Will there be a band of my own some day soon?  Probably.  I just need to be able to play a little more (and talk some suckers into joining me.)

It was a long night since these guys played three sets.  The crowd was small, but everyone had a great time.  Those guys just seemed to enjoy playing the music, and I don’t think it mattered if the crowd was one hundred or one thousand.  That’s (what I’m guessing) being in a band is all about.

They’ll play again soon, and I’ll be there.  Since I’m a (cough)guitarist(cough) myself I’m making a point to see more live music.  I like a lot of different types of music, but metal really takes me back to when I was just a skateboarding kid in high school without a care in the world.

I even hung around after the show to help the band pack up like a good groupie should.

I’m an unofficial roadie.

I felt young again for a moment, until I realized on the way home that I couldn’t hear so great for a while.  That’s what happens when you get old I guess.  I’ll keep listening (and playing) music until I can’t hear at all.       

Like a rock star.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Not One Single Bike Ride

I just didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t have to work much over the weekend, and even with all that free time I didn’t take a bike outside once.  Honestly, I haven’t been feeling great.  I’m not sure if it’s just being tired form work, allergies, or both.  I was okay not being on the bike for some reason though.

Maybe I shouldn’t be.

It was a really nice weekend around here too.  I did spend some time outside messing around in the yard, but the majority of the time I was shopping for a car for Lunchbox.  Yep, he’s gonna start running the roads unsupervised.  Very soon too.  It’s been sort of a pain in the ass to even look for something suitable for a teenager, especially one that doesn’t want something flashy.  He’ll be happy with pretty much anything at this point.

A Caddy. For The Rad Man (a reference from The Bones Brigade Video: The Search for Animal Chin if you didn’t know.)

So yeah, maybe that’s why I’m worn out.  I think a vacation is in order soon.  Luckily, there’s one coming up soon.

In a few weeks, I’ll be heading down to Florida for a wedding.  If you’ve been around here for a long time, you might remember Mr. Shepherd.  We’ve been friends since we were about four years old and he’s finally getting hitched.  I’ve been chosen to be his best man, and I think that’s slowly wearing me down too.  I mean, I’ve never even worn a tuxedo before. 

It’s not like I’ve done a whole lot so far, other than renting my tux, making hotel reservations, and making sure the man of honor doesn’t lose his mind.  When I get down there (or actually when the date gets really close), I’m sure my duties with become more difficult.  I’m actually looking forward to it though.  I’m really happy for him, and also I think it will be nice to get away.

Now, if I could just finish my after-wedding best man speech.

Tomorrow, bike stuff?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fun Friday

As if Mini Kiss wasn’t fun enough yesterday, right?

Anyway, I’m on call again for work this weekend.  It sucks, since it’s a holiday and all that but that’s how it goes sometimes. 

You know what the good thing is?  I don’t have to worry about other people’s plans.

Will I get into some adventures this weekend that involve mountain bikes?

Probably.  I usually get to ride even if I end up working a little bit.  I have some tentative riding plans now, so we’ll see if I can stick to them.  I also have sorta solid plans to watch a friend’s band play and even a beer tasting.

That’s an awful lot of shit to do with the threat of work lingering.

I do what I want.  Who gives a shit.

See y’all Tuesday.  You know, because Monday is the holiday and all that.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Little Distraction

This was the scene when I walked out of work yesterday:

I'm not sure what they were doing or where they were going, but they sure as shit didn't care about anyone else.  They had an attitude while corssing the street, even though they were small. It made me wonder, “What if they were in a rock band?”

Then I started thinking about these guys:

Mini Kiss?  Holy shit.  A friend told me about these guys da udda day, and I've been obsessed with them ever since. I've been watching every video I can find on The Internets, like this one:

That was the first time I'd ever heard of them, but the world has seen them before.  Apparently they were in a commercial with the real Kiss during the Super Big Football Game a few years ago. I didn't remember, but luckily The Internets remembers.

I've watched that like a hundred times now. It never gets old.  And it's not because of the underwear commercial at the beginning.  Well, maybe.

Now I have a mission.  I'm gonna do whatever it takes to see these little fellas live.  They have some dates scheduled, but in far away places. If I have to, I'll travel. But maybe I don't have to travel.  Maybe I can book them to play somewhere around here.  It can't cost that much, right?  Just a little money and they'll be here (maybe they'll play for Hershey's kisses or some shit like that.)

I'm on it.  Let's see if I can reach this small goal.

Oh yeah, this is some kind of bike blog, right? Well, I'm going to ride my bike after work tonight.  Good enough?  I'll try a little bit harder next time.

And since I haven’t posted anything about skateboarding in a long, long time, here’s a “Throwback Thursday” post, circa 2001 or something like that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ride Drink Eat

Yesterday, it was back to the Tarheel Trailblazers Tuesday Social.  This week’s ride was at our local racetrack/hot lap mecca, Sherman Branch.  It’s a trail that I haven’t ridden in quite some time.  Although it’s fun to go fast on the smooth singletrack, the lack of technical stuff bores me enough to stay away from it on a regular basis.  On the social rides however, I go where the people want me to go.

So Sherman it was.

It really is a fun trail, since you don’t have to think too much when you ride there.  We had a really great group which made it even more fun.  As a bonus, I got to watch Eastwood be a test subject for a new “nutritional” supplement that I recently acquired.  The initial results weren’t good.

You know, judging by the look on his face after taking a drink.

I’ll test the stuff myself soon, but for now I won’t say anything else about it. 

Anyway, we did the usual social pace, stopping often to talk about how rad we are.  We even picked up a few first timers on our ride, which is always a plus.  The pace turned a little anti social towards the end, but our new friends didn’t seem to mind.  It was a good day on the trail.

After the ride, we usually head off to a local watering hole to get some food and such.  We ended up at Jake’s Good Eats, which was literally right around the corner.  The food was awesome, but the beer selection was lacking.  Instead of drinking shitty beer, I ordered a sweet tea.  Is there another kind of tea?  No.  Not here in the South.  As a bonus, they serve it in the finest of glassware.

Just like Grandma used to do.

The only bad thing I can say about that place (other than the absence of good beer for a sorta beer snob like myself) was the paper towel machine in the bathroom.  I had to wave my hands like I was flagging down a cab in NYC just to get a scrap of paper to dry my hands.

No big deal, but it was a little frustrating I guess.

We had one of our longer rides of the year, great weather, a good group of riders, and really awesome food.  Coming from someone who once upon a time was anti social, these Tuesday night rides are something I look forward to.  Even though we don’t ride too fast or do anything epic, it’s a good way to spend a day in the woods. 

I dig that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

After Action Review

And I’m not just gonna sit here and talk about the fried pickles, either.


So yeah, I have to admit that I had a really great time racing “regular old XC.”  It wasn’t the sandbaggers, dirt roadies, lack of training, too much beer, etc that kept me away.  I think I was just a little burned out from so much racing over the years that it started to wear me down and affect my attitude.  Two years in a row of the Southern Classic Series was a lot, with all the traveling and whatnot.  On the positive side, racing so many of those events kept me motivated and focused, something I’ve been lacking over the last year or so.  I’m not sure if I’ll go full on XC from now on, but I do feel like I’ll get into a few more before the “season” is over. 


Anyway, I took away a lot of good and some bad from Sunday’s race.

The good:

I got in a fast-paced ride through the woods, pushing myself to the limit and making me think about strategy and shit like that.

I found out that I really don’t need gears to race XC.  Even though I was the only one in my class on a single speed, I was only around six minutes out of third place, and about ten and a half out of first.  A geared bike wouldn’t have changed that.  Riding a little more often will.

I supported our local club, the Tarheel Trailblazers, by paying an entry fee to race, and helping with the event.  Helping with important stuff, like taking out the trash.

And while I mention that, I’ll shout out to Good Guy Greg for wrangling up the volunteers and running the show.  With him taking the lead, we had a great volunteer turnout and everything went oh so smooth.  I like that.

And lastly, I had a really great time.

The bad:

My lungs hurt.  I haven’t ridden that fast in a long time, and my body knew it.  Luckily my legs were strong enough to take it, but if I want to do this again I need to work on my cardio. Endurance racing doesn’t help with short distance cross country stuff.

I had way too much air in my tires.  The day before the race, I decided to refill the sealant in both tires.  Instead of checking the air pressure before I removed the valve core, I just guess when I filled them back up.  I got the shit beat out of me (no easy task) on every rock, root, and jump, which caused me a few minor mishaps and probably a few seconds in time here and there.  I’ll remember that next time for sure.

Last, but not least, I didn’t train for this shit.  I went out way too hard at the start knowing that I would get tired anyway, and it took me too long to recover.  I did that in the past when I raced more often, but my recovery time was so much quicker that it didn’t matter.  Whether or not I continue to race XC, maybe training a little as if I’m gonna do it could help.  It certainly won’t hurt.

That’s it in a nutshell I guess.  The bad wasn't really bad at all (but I had to find something.)I did much better than I thought, because honestly, I didn’t think I would even finish anywhere near the group.  I was expecting DFL, and by DFL I mean having someone say, “Hey, did that asshole ever come back from his lap?”

I surprised my damn self.

Only time will tell if I join in another hot lap session again.  There is another race in the series, and I would seriously consider it if I wasn’t on call for work this weekend.  I don’t have any other races planned until July (and that one is in Pisgah), so my calendar is wide open.

Shit, I should probably bust out the road bike and shave the rest of the hair off my legs to get a little more serious about it.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Like Lance Without The Dope

So I ended my “retirement” from XC racing yesterday, forgoing a chance to spend the day in Pisgah for a sufferfest. The Riverfront Classic (a race in the Southern Classic Series) was the venue here in Charlotte, taking place on trails that I know very well.  It actually wasn't a bad decision. Instead of worrying about dirt roadies and sandbaggers, I went into my first cross country event in a long time with a positive attitude. The plan as to have fun, yet be a little bit serious.

So, I shaved some racing stripes in my legs.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about going out for hot laps with a bunch of guys that were in it to win it. Did I have the fire to compete like that? Did I have the legs? Did I give a shit?

I guess I would find out soon. We lined up at the bottom of the hill, and my plan was to take off and settle into a groove quickly. We the race started, I found myself moving up towards the front of the pack. Before I knew it, I was in the lead.

Photo credit: Lunchbox

My time is first place was short-lived though. On the downhill headed towards the woods, I slipped back a little and went into the singletrack in second place. While my heart rate was up a little, I actually felt like I could keep that pace for quite a while. I did, until a few climbs later when my legs realized that I didn't have a proper warm up.


I let two guys go by, and shortly thereafter, another. I was in fifth place, soon to be dropped all the way to DFL. I kept pushing, hoping that I could catch up on the next downhill. The leaders were still in sight, so I knew I had a chance. When the downhill finally came, I let it go. They did too.

Double shit.

Since it was a two lap race, I didn't panic. I kept my pace, and when I came to the next big climb I still saw the pack up ahead. There was still hope to catch them, and I stopped worrying about anyone behind me. The two biggest climbs were coming up soon, and I knew that would be my chance to put the hammer down. I saw TomTom at the beginning of the climb, heard him shout something encouraging, and I put my head down to get up the hill. My heart rate was through the roof, but I wasn't backing down. I could hear the leaders up ahead, but they were out of sight and leaving me for good.

After making it up both climbs, my lungs were protesting. I coasted down as fast as I could, but I was a little woozy from a lack of oxygen. Knowing that the worst was behind me, I concentrated on getting my breathing under control so I could get back to “racing.” A few more short climbs later, I found myself on a rocky, rooty, and rough section...

and in sight of fourth place.

I blasted by him and turned it on. I was finally recovered, and with the easy stuff left I knew I could put a gap on him. Before I knew it, I saw my kid in the woods with the camera.

I blasted through the start/finish line and headed back into the woods. I felt much better, and thought that maybe I could catch the rest of the field. I exchanged pleasantries with Eastwood as I passed him sitting in the woods, and concentrated on trying to make this a race. I was much stronger on the climbs this time. I didn't know how much I had left, but the plan was to go until it was gone.

Things don't always go as planned though, as the guy I passed to get into fourth place was closing in. I don't know where it came from, but I pushed it even more and left him. I wasn't about to lose the position I worked so hard to get. I kept looking over my shoulder as I pushed ahead, widening the gap between fourth an fifth. The leaders were long gone I figured, and before I knew it I was getting close to the end.

I saw my kid again too.

With the finish line only a few hundred feet away, I was glad it was over.

Photo cred: Little Miss Sunshine

I finished the day in fourth place, which I guess wasn't so bad after not doing this stuff for so long. I was pleased with my effort, and more importantly I had fun.

I never thought I would say that again about cross country racing.

Will I do it again? Maybe. Who knows how long this “unretirement” will last.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fun Friday

It rained all day yesterday.  That means I missed my one day during the week to mow the yard.  That also means that I’ll be doing that this weekend.  Since I’ll probably have some other yard work to do, a trip to the local home improvement store is in order.

I won’t spend the whole weekend working in the yard, and I especially won’t be back here on Monday talking about it (unless of course there’s something interesting to tell.)  As for the rest of the weekend, I’m sure I’ll play a little guitar.

It’s good for my soul.

And of course, I’m “racing” on Sunday.  What does that mean?  It means that I’ll go out on a trail somewhere with a number on my bike and give it all I have.

I win.

Where am I racing?  Come back here Monday and you’ll find out.  I’m sure it will be a shitty story no matter what I do.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Have A Beer

I was gone yesterday.  You may or may not have noticed.  Work got in the way…again.  I’m trying not to make a habit of that.  So anyway, let's get to the goods.  I had a new beer that I was very reluctant to buy, let alone try (hey, that rhymes.)

Rouge Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry, and Chocolate Ale (I know you can see that in the photo.)  It was actually uh, pretty damn good.

While I’m primarily an IPA man, this one is not bad when I want something different.  With the first sip I hated it though, and wondered how I would make it through the whole bottle.  I won’t throw out beer though (unless it’s cheap, shitty beer), so I continued on. 

You know what?

It kinda grew on me.

After letting it sit for a little bit, it was pretty damn good.  Not too chocolatey, pretzely, or raspberryey at all.  It was the right amount of everything, which made it actually seem like I was drinking beer.  I won’t get into the habit of drinking such girly beers in the future, but if I ever find myself in the position to pick one of these up again, I will.

Now for the good stuff.

 That is a sample of the beer I brewed a little while ago.  It was just a taste test to see if it was done fermenting, and it was.  I quickly moved on to the carbonation process, and got my bottles ready.

A few more weeks, and I will have a really awesome IPA.  How do I know?  Well, my sample was terrific, even though it tasted like flat beer (it’s not carbonated yet, try to keep up.)  Plenty, and I mean plenty of hops, which makes it bitter as all get out.  I can’t wait until it’s a complete beer, and I get to completely drink it. 

The only downside to brewing?  When I cleaned out the fermenter it looked like someone threw up in my sink.

 Yuck.  Good think that beer is a byproduct of that disgusting looking shit.

Anyway, thankfully tomorrow is Fun Friday.  I’ll be here, and hopefully you’ll be here too.  Maybe I’ll reveal my decision about racing this weekend.

Or not.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Will Do Something

And by “something” I mean “race.”  This Sunday, there are two races.  First, there is the Pisgah 55.5K.

I’ve been riding up there enough that it makes me really consider doing it.  Not that I’m in any kind of race shape (especially Pisgah shape), but I know it would be fun, yet full of suffering.  I’ve done some of the course and I think I can handle it.  Well, survive anyway.  They even have a big boy class, so I wouldn’t have to race in the SS group with those little tiny fellers.  I’ve been considering this one for a while now, but something else stands in the way…

Cross country racing?  You betcha.  Even though I “retired” from the hot lap shit show that is XC almost two years ago, I’m really considering giving it a go this time around.  Why?  Because I wanna suffer in a different kind of way.

Actually no, that’s not it.  This race is a fundraiser for our local club, the Tarheel Trailblazers, and we need a good showing from our club to help make this race a success (and to make money to put into our local trails.)  I don’t want to abandon my people, and since I have the itch to race I figure that I could kill two birds with one big, fat, knobby tire (or two, whatever.)

Coming out of cross country “retirement” isn’t an easy decision, since I know that I’ll probably get irritated with the field mere moments after we leave the start line.  However, I won this race way back in 2009 so I’m a little tempted to see if I still have the fire to give it my all on a couple of hot laps.  I don’t expect to win again (or even place), but it could be a good way to get in ride and help my club out at the same time. 

Decisions.  I suck at making them.  I need some help as usual.

If all goes well, I’ll suffer somewhere this Sunday.  I can wait until the last minute to register for either, so time isn’t really a factor right now.  If I race in Pisgah, I’m sure the club will do just fine without my help (I’m not that important, really.)  If I wind up ending my "retirement" to race XC, then I'll be like the rest of those guys that refuse to give it up long after they should have.

Damn it.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Moar Skills

Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a skills clinic for our local ladies mountain bike club, the Dirt Divas.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve helped them out on something like this, so I was pretty excited to be a part of it.

Our destination?  Backyard Trails.  Since most of our local trails are smooth and so not technical, BYT is the perfect place to work on the skills.  We took off as one big group, and it didn’t take long to find something to work on with the ladies.

With plenty of spotters (courtesy of us Dirt Dudes), even Little Miss Sunshine conquered some trail features out there.

I’ll skip the small stuff, and just tell you that eventually we ended up at the Poo Tracks.

The ladies had a great time as far as I could tell.

It was like a big social ride.  We had a great crowd, rolling through the trail at a fun pace and stopping every once in a while to regroup.

Originally I planned to go to Pisgah on Saturday, but helping the ladies work on their skills turned out to be a better way to spend the day.  Spending time a BYT was a plus too, since it’s one of the few trails around here that actually give you a challenge.

Anyway, big thanks to the ladies for letting us hang out and help.  Most of them can already out ride us fellas as it is, and it’s just fun to help them get better at it.

I’m good with that.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fun Friday

Holy shit.  We're here already?  This week went by fast.  I guess that's a good thing, but it's left me without plans for the weekend. 

I guess I could rock out.

Or I could attend an important meeting.

This is funny, right?  I know you're laughing.

Truth is, I'll find something to do this weekend.  I'll ride tomorrow, but I just haven't figured out where yet.  Maybe I'll go back to Pisgah, maybe I'll stay local-ish.  Maybe I'll start “training” for an upcoming race.


Yeah, I'm racing next weekend.  When and where has yet to be determined. I have to figure out a few things first.

More about that next week.