Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cold Turkey

With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, it's turned cold and rainy here again.  With some time off of work to ride my bike, it’s kind of like a kick in the nuts.

Or a peck to the nuts…with a beak…on a former President.  Whatever.

I’m not gonna be here tomorrow.  You won’t either.  Hell, most of you probably won’t be here today (or any other day.)  So, today is kinda like my Fun Friday.  Although I don’t get caught up in the shopping melee that is Black Friday, I won’t be here then either. 

I’m definitely thankful for that, which is the type of feels we are supposed to have for Thanksgiving.

I don’t really get into this particular holiday, so I’m sorta going with the flow here.  Even if you’re not into it either, you’re probably still gonna eat until you pop.  Sounds lovely.  Make sure you get off your ass and do something after.

And, I’m outta here.  I’ll see y’all sometime later I guess.  And by the way, bloggage will be spotty at best (if at all) next week.  I’m heading out of town for the week for some work-related stuff.  I may or may not blog while I’m gone, or I may or may not have things to talk about when I get back.

Enjoy your time away…and stuffing your fat face.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wet And Sloppy

After a late night at The Spoke Easy 3rd Anniversary Party I found it difficult to get out of bed Saturday morning.  It was a beautiful day and I wanted to ride, but I just couldn’t get motivated.  I didn’t feel hungover (surprisingly), so maybe it was the stress of a rough (short) week at work.  Eventually I got up and at ‘em, but I wasn’t worth a shit.

So I did pretty much nothing for a while.

Eventually I got out of the house, but not to ride (I went to the guitar store.)  Some of my friends were out in The Pisgah doing a little riding, but I didn’t want to be gone all day.  I mildly regretted the fact that I didn’t join them.  Next time.  Once the day whittled away to nothing, the little lady and I ended up outside with a fire.

It was cold, but the fire was warm.  SCIENCE!  It was a nice way to spend an evening, but I felt like I accomplished nothing without riding.  We ended up outside pretty late hanging out with the neighbors, and I wondered if I would actually get my ass up the next morning to ride.  With the weather people calling for shitty conditions later in the morning I had to get up extra early if I wanted to do anything.

That didn’t happen.

I mean, the getting up extra early or the “later morning” shitty conditions.  It was raining when I got up, so I decided to take my newest shit bike out for a ride.

This is my “new” “cyclocross” bike.  The quotes are because it’s neither new nor cyclocross, but it is somewhat of a bike.  I took an old mountain bike I had that was already equipped with CX tires, added some drop bars, brake levers, and bar tape, and made it kind of a bike that could be used for cyclocrossing (or gravel grinding.) 

It looks like shit, but it rides just fine.  Since it’s nothing special, I really didn’t mind taking it out in the rain.  I did some road riding, hit some gravel, and eventually ended up on my local greenway.  Well, until I hit a dead end due to construction.

Since I can haz cyclocross now, I “jumped” over the barrier and kept going.

It was very uneventful and I got pretty muddy.  Luckily it was raining and there were plenty of puddles to wash me off.  I made my way back across the construction zone and took the real detour this time.

It was much less dirty.

I got in a pretty good ride in shitty conditions and it was actually fun.  This was the maiden voyage of the yet to be named shit bike and it performed pretty well.  Maybe now I can see what all this cyclocross stuff is about now without buying another bike.

Or maybe I will buy another bike.

Damn it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Convenient Party

Friday night was the Spoke Easy 3rd Anniversary Party.  I was there.  Mostly because I like the crowd that hangs out there, but a good reason is that it’s walking distance from work.  So, I walked over there after I left my office, and started the party a few hours early.

Eventually the little lady showed up, also walking there from work.

We were way early, but it didn’t matter.  It’s a cool place to spend time after a long day slaving away for The Man.  As the party start time inched closer, more people started showing up, including the man of the hour, Dicky.

Shown here for size comparison with Dread.

Even Mike Pierce and his wicked chops showed up again this year.

And rumor has it he made it home safe and sound this year.  I’m not sure if he drank enough.

Beer, music, shenanigans.  As the night went on there were bike games of some sort, but most of us stayed inside and watched Dicky take photos.

And then a giant chicken showed up for some reason.

And shit got really weird.

Not my best work.  Meh.

We partied.  Late.  Later than I would have liked to, considering I was really close to where I work.  Normally I get the hell out of town in a hurry and head home, but this was pretty fun.  I’m not sure when I actually left outta there, but I know it was sometime after people started getting punched in the balls.

Much fun.  I can see more after work visits in my future.  If you haven’t checked out The Spoke Easy, do it.  The new location is really awesome, and you might even have a good time.

Yeah, that’s how my weekend started. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fun Friday

It was a short week for me.  It seemed really long for some reason though.  I’m kinda feeling run down.

That doesn’t matter, because today is Friday which means I have two whole days to do whatever the hell I want.  At least the weather here is a little bit nicer than up north.

I know you’ve seen all the weather reports from up there in Buffalo.  The little lady is from up there, so we’re hearing about it first hand.  They are used to snow, but damn.  I’m glad we just get a little bit of that stuff down here in the South.

You know, enough to make it fun.

Nah, we don’t have any yet, but it’s coming soon I bet. 

For now, I’ll just enjoy the “nice” weather we’re having here (until Sunday when it’s supposed to rain.)  Maybe there will be rides to talk about, or maybe there will be some new beer to drink.

Who gives a shit.  At least I won’t be working.

See y’all Monday.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Group Effort

 So yeah it was meeting day.  A few of us volunteers arrived at the venue early in the morning to setup, and like the saying goes, many hands make light work.  Before we knew it, people were registered and the meeting was underway.

 While the meeting went on, some of us participated, and the rest made sure everyone had plenty of food to eat and coffee/other stuff to drink.  It wasn’t bad work, and I was happy to see all of our volunteers come together to make sure the attendees had a good time.  It was all standard “meeting stuff”, but at one point we all headed outside to get the obligatory group shot to prove that we were there.

Photo credit:  Leslie from MTBProject

While we did “meeting stuff” a whole host of locals were down the road at Backyard Trail to get ready for the big group ride.  We had folks from our club and even the Faster Mustache guys helping out.  Once the meeting broke out, everyone started to head over to the trail to get their ride on.  A few of us stayed behind to make sure we cleaned and locked up the building, which meant that I missed the groups rolling out.  Good Guy Greg was with me, so when we finally hit the trail we decided to just ride with the first group we caught.

It didn’t take long, and we settled in.  We hit the Poo Tracks as one big group and it was interesting.  The out of towners had never seen such a thing, and they were laughing and having a great time.

It was difficult to maintain a steady pace with all those people trying to navigate the tricky tracks, so I just stood there and took photos.  In addition to the photo above, I found an old poo cart off in the bushes.

When our ride leader got a flat, I was suddenly in charge of our group.  I tried to hold us together, and being up front gave me moar opportunities to photograph the riders.

Dicky had lots of big air and gnar photos from his ride, but we had a little fun too.

We were losing daylight though, so we eventually started making our way out of there.  It was an awesome ride, and luckily I was able to see most of the other people out there on different parts of the trail.  Every single person had a big smile, even the ones that crashed (there were just a few.)  Our little hidden gem here in the sewer was well-liked by all, and I was proud that we got a chance to show it off.  Everyone had a great time it seemed, but the night wasn’t over yet. 

Once we got off the trail, I had to find beer for the after party.  Luckily, Big n' Buttery was unable to kick two kegs all by his lonesome…

Bicycle Sport was actually kind enough to donate those to us for the party.  We cannot haz party if we do not haz beer.  So thanks to them (and Big n' Buttery.)  The party was a success and everyone walked away with full bellies (courtesy of Lola’s.)  I did not take photos because I was busy making sure everyone had fun. 

They did.

Man, I was really nervous about our club hosting the SORBA Board of Directors meeting here in Charlotte.  I attended in Jacksonville last year and thought, “Hey, we should do that.”  We talked about it for a while, and before I knew it we’d been chosen to have everyone here in our town for this annual event.  Lots of folks came together from our area, including our board members, ride leaders, and local establishments, to make this a pretty fun time.

I are proud.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Host With The Most

I had quite a few days off (from here and from work.)  Honestly, I didn’t want to come back to either one.  I pretty much had to go back to work (since I’m not independently wealthy) and coming back here, well, I sorta missed it.  I guess I can tell you what I did while I was gone.

Our local mountain biking club, the Tarheel Trailblazers played host to other clubs from all over the Southeast for the SORBA Board of Directors meeting.  I took last Friday off to take care of any last minute items.  Since there wasn’t much else to do (thanks to a ton of volunteers), I had the day to ride.  The plan was for TomTom and I to meet my Florida homie Dan Z. and ride at the whitewater park.  It was the start of a few days of chilly weather up here, but a few miles in it looked like he was having a great time (and staying warm.)

I’m sure it was because he came prepared to ride here in North Carolina.

Dan is a good dude.  I rode with him last year in Jacksonville, and he’s been to NC quite bit.  In fact, he took a few days prior to our ride to hit some other stuff in the area, like Rocky Knob Park, Warrior Creek, and even Sherman Branch.  He has this strange way of ranking trails, which he calls his “Top 5.”  The funny thing is, there are over twenty trails in his “Top 5.”  I’m pretty sure that everything he rides ends up in his Top 5, since there is no official ranking system.  He rides it, it makes the list.  The whitewater park was no exception, because it didn’t take long before he announced that it had also made the cut. 

I guess he has fun wherever he goes.

Anyway, after an abbreviated tour of the trails out there, we took a lunch break.  Two other guys from Jacksonville rolled in (Pete and J-Pow), and we hit the restaurant out there for some grub (and beer for me and Dan.)  The food was good, but our new guests were looking to ride.  Before our burgers had a chance to digest, we hit the trail again.

The new Tower 93 line is pretty awesome, and these guys too a few turns hitting the downhill, bermy, jumpy action.  I bowed out of the last run to get photos, and TomTom waited for the Florida boys to do something spectacular.

I think they really enjoyed it.

It was nice to hang with the Jax crew.  Being from my old home state, it was nice to play host to them in my new home state.  I think they had a lot of fun out there.  Hopefully they will come back soon and ride with us (when it’s a little warmer of course.)

It was a long day though.  Two rides with lunch (and beer) in between made for a great day off, but the “meeting” stuff was about to kick off.  I got cleaned up and headed over to host the rest of the out of towners at a new local brewery here in CLT.

We had beer, met some new (and old) friends, and closed the place down with our shenanigans.  The next morning, the “real” meeting would start.  I had to get up at the crack of dark and I wasn’t looking forward to that part of it.

The rest of the weekend, well, I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Huge thanks to the Jax crew for riding with us.  They are good people, and if you are ever down that way hit them up at SORBAJax.  It’s a helluva lot warmer down there and they have fun shit to ride too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Short Week

It’s my Friday.  I shall celebrate.

Blogging has been easy this week (not like it’s that difficult to begin with.)  I was off Tuesday, and now I’m off tomorrow and a few days next week.  I need a break from work, and some alone time in the woods seems to be the right course of action.  I have a few rides planned while I’m gone, and I hope that each one of them is more fun than the next. 

I found that picture yesterday.  It’s from almost two years ago, but it’s one of my favorites.  It reminds me of how much fun I can have riding my bike, and that one in particular reminds me of how much fun racing used to be.  Maybe I can capture that again soon.

And I almost forgot, next Tuesday is my birthday.  That’s part of the reason I won’t be here.

That about sums it up.

Man, I can’t wait to get out in the woods.  It’s gonna be really cold here due to some Canadian Arctic Blast, but who gives a shit. 

Maybe blogging will resume to “normal” levels when I get back sometime next week.

I’m going into an Internet Hole.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Of The Good Days

Not today, I have to work.  But yesterday I didn’t.  I still woke up early, since I had a class scheduled at TotalCyclist.  While I normally don’t like getting up early when I don’t have to go to work, I actually felt motivated enough to rise before the sun.  For some reason, the Winter Training Series is pretty fun.

Well, “fun” as in suffering.  I think I like to suffer, or at least I’m starting to like it again.  Starting off my day with a ride is pretty awesome, even if it is on a trainer, staring at a screen full of numbers and charts.  And you know what?  I dig it.  A lot.  I’m not sure how much of an effect it’s having yet, but I feel good when I’m in the class so that must count for something.  I’m really surprised that I like it so much, actually.

I do actually still ride my mountain bike too.  After an early morning ride, I had the day to myself.  I played my guitar, hung out with Carl, and watched a couple of shitty movies.  When the sun went down, I headed over to the whitewater park for our Tuesday Night Social.

It was rad.

Perfect weather, a fun ride with a good group of people, and sloppy Mexican food afterwards. 

Definitely a good day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Many Rides Happened

I just wasn’t on any of them. 

The weekend disappeared as fast as it got here.  I got word on Friday about a trip to The Pisgah on Saturday, but I was sorta feeling under the weather.  It wasn’t Ebola (I’m pretty sure), but it wasn’t serious either.  I’d just received a (required) flu shot at my place of employment and it left me feeling a little bit iffy, especially for a trip to the hills.  So, I got some much needed rest. 

The next day I had some other, non bike-related shit to take care of.  Boring stuff, like maintenance on my truck and Lunchbox’s car, which took up the whole day and left zero time for riding.    It did leave time for a nice fire out back with the little lady.

Sunday morning I had to uh, work.  Well, I didn’t have to, but I volunteered my services at the Niner demo out at the whitewater park because I wanted to feel useful. 

As soon as I got there, it was busy.  Setting up work stands and things, getting bikes in order for riders, and making sure people got out on a fun ride.  It was work, but fun.  I got to socialize quite a bit, and I even saw the biggest Stan’s booger ever.

I did bring my bike, hoping I would get to ride sometime.

A bunch of people showed up for a group ride, but I didn’t feel that it was appropriate to leave in the middle of my volunteer shift to go ride.  Once the demo ended, we packed everything up and I headed back towards home.  Even without a ride, I had a good day talking to people, working on bikes, and spending a nice day outside. 

And the best part (which is a little fuzzy) was that the night may or may not have ended at a local watering hole seeing the “sights.”

I won’t name names, but stories were told and fun was had.

A short weekend that went by too fast. 

In other news, blog posting over the next two weeks will be spotty at best.  I’m off tomorrow for Veterans Day (since I am in fact a veteran), but I’ll be back Wednesday and Thursday.  I’m off on Friday and a few days next week too.  More on that when I come back on Wednesday.

Did you get all that?

Good.  See you soon.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fun Friday

Hello there.  We freakin made it.

The weekend starts in a few hours, and I can’t wait.  I haz plans, but as usual I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.  Some of it may involve a cross bike of some sort.  I’ll probably get into that another time, since this is the first you’ve heard of it.

Speaking of cross, here’s a video that you may not have seen unless you’re on The Facebooks.

Good stuff from my friends at DeFeet, with a new sock you can wear if you’re into that whole cross scene (or even if you’re not.)

Not enough funny today on this Fun Friday?  Sorry.  I put a request in to a higher power but he’s busy.

I’m out.  See y’all Monday.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Signs Of Maturity

I’ve never really liked asking for help.  When I was younger, I either acted like I already knew everything (just to try and quickly figure it out later) or I pretended like I didn’t give a shit about whatever it was in the first place.  As I started getting up there in years, that happened less and less.  With The Internets around, it became easier to learn stuff on the fly.  I would learn just enough to not seem like a dumbass, and then solicit answers to the details from my peers.  While this approach seemed a little unorthodox, it worked quite a bit.  Looking back though, it was mostly luck.  Just gather a little bit of knowledge, ask around like I already had the answers, then point myself in that direction. 

Still, asking a real person to teach me something from the beginning was something I wasn’t ready to admit I needed.

The guitar is the perfect example.  I bought an acoustic about twelve years ago and said, “I’ll teach myself to play.”  I wasn’t about to pay someone to teach me, especially since I could buy books and videos that would work “just as well.”  This was before all those “Teach Yourself To Play” videos started popping up on YouTube.  Guess what?  That shit didn’t work.

I would pick it up, try for about ten minutes, and put it away for a month.  This continued for years, until the little lady threatened to buy me lessons.  I quickly taught myself one song, because I sure as shit didn’t want to go to class not knowing a damn thing.  When I showed up for my first lesson, I was nervous.  I thought, “Why did I wait until I was in my forties to get lessons?  The instructor is gonna make fun of me.”

Well, he didn’t.

Almost a year later, I can actually play.  I was put at ease on the very first lesson, where I learned first and foremost that it’s okay to be a student at my (advanced) age.  I likened the lessons to my bike riding, knowing that I would have to put in the work if I wanted to actually get good at it.  I practice the guitar, but I never really “practiced” riding my bike.  I just got better at it uh, accidentally.

I rode for quite a few years in Florida before we moved here to NC.  The change in terrain immediately made me a better rider.  More climbing, rocks, and changes in the weather had me working harder but I didn’t realize it.  Once I started racing, I sorta learned as I went.  After a year, I started seeing some success.  A few podium trips every year, some huge fitness gains, and my skill level skyrocketed.  All by accident, since I wasn’t on any sort of training plan. 

Racing my way into shape every season eventually took its toll on me.  I became burned out, and took this year off (mostly) to just have some fun.  The truth is though, it was a cop out.  I was being lazy.  Sure, I was having fun being the party guy, the heckler, the asshole, but pushing myself in a race was a good feeling that I had forgotten about.  The few times I did line up to race, it hurt so bad that it didn’t feel like fun.  “Maybe I’m not a racer”, I thought.  “Maybe I just want to ride for fun.”

Well, racing was fun to me.  And all this “fun” riding I’ve been doing hasn’t been very fun anyway since it’s been full of suffering.  Being in not so great shape due to a lack of competition made those leisurely rides tougher, and something I loved to do was starting to be a chore.  Well, in my old age I realized that it’s okay to ask for help.  You know to at least get me back to where I was (or close, anyway.)

So, this past Tuesday I started on a new adventure:

Photo credit:  Chad Andrews

Yeah, that’s me.  The big, goofy dude up there in the middle.  I put my ego aside and asked for help, signing up for the TotalCyclist Winter Training Series.  A lot of my friends have done it (as well as the little lady), so I know it works.  Just like my guitar lessons though, I’ll get as much out of this as I put in it.  Even though I’ve been lazy this last year, I’ve never had an issue with being fast or strong (if I worked at it.)  I just can’t seem to put everything together.  I burn out quickly, and that makes the suffer factor even higher.  Even on short, fun rides. 

Do I expect to dominate races next season?  Hardly.  I do expect to improve though, and hopefully even my fun rides will benefit.  With just one class in (out of six), I can see that I’ve made the right decision.  It was fun, difficult, and very informative as far as my fitness goes.  Sure, I’m “training” now, but that doesn’t mean that the fun will stop.  I just needed to focus again.

Don’t worry, I’ll still be the asshole you all know and love.

I just need a little help.  Not with the asshole part, of course.  Maybe (hopefully) I’ll be a little bit better bike rider.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Long Days

I seem to need a lot of this shit lately.

With the time change over the weekend, I’m still looking for that “extra hour” we’re supposed to get.  Sure, I had a lot of shit to do over the weekend, but I’ve had plenty of time to recover. 

I guess.  It is Wednesday, you know.

I don’t do well with free time.  Either I waste it, or I do too much.  There’s no in between.  Many moons ago when I was in the Army, all the structure they had kept things right for me mentally.  I still find myself trying to capture that again years later, and sometimes it works.  While I could probably use a little down time (there is some coming soon), having a lot to do keeps me from wasting time.

Where am I going with this?  Who knows.  I have quite a bit to talk about (including a “study” I’ve done over the last few months), but sitting here talking about how busy I am helps with the chaos I guess.  Unlike Eastwood (who’s smart enough to skip blogging when there’s nothing to talk about), I’m here almost every day babbling about nothing, and sometimes something.

More tomorrow I guess.  You know, when I’m rested.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nice Day For A Party

The change in weather from Saturday to Sunday was dramatic.  It went from cold and shitty to warm(er) and sunny.  What a great day to hold the annual TarheelTrailblazers/Dirt Divas Year End Party. 

With no band this year and crap weather the day before, I wondered if the event would be a success.  We had plenty of games to keep the party goers entertained though.

Like the Bike Toss:

My local shop, The Cycle Path, scrounged up some sweet junker bikes for the event.  They were heavy and crappy, but lots of fun to heave towards the woods. 

We also had the Log Pull (which may not sound too interesting I know), which turned out to be one of the tougher events.  Although Lunchbox did end up in second place, pulling a heavy piece of tree in a hot dog suit.

And of course, the ever popular adult trike race:

Photo Cred:  Mike Long

Since I was busy emceeing and participating, I didn’t get a whole lot of photos.  I did however, advance to the finals and win the trike race for the second year in a row (with my teammate Little Miss Sunshine.)  My knee is shredded from spinning that itty bitty crank arm around the grassy, hilly field, but victory feels so good.

The big event?  The Bike Derby of course.  We had a separate men’s and women’s division, and it turned out to be the right decision.  The women mixed it up pretty good, and after moving the crowd in really small we had a winner.  The men’s division turned out to be a lot more aggressive, and with Dicky out of the picture a new victor emerged.

Local trials master Lance Kleffman dominated the field, showing off his fancy moves in the process.  In fact, he had more fancy moves after he won the belt.

It was a fun day, complete with nice weather and good food.  Did I say food?  The event was catered by none other than Vic The Chili Man  There was a line out the door for dinner, and it was pretty damn awesome.

After the food and raffle, people hung out for a while and talked about the fun they had (and how awesome the meal was.)  With another successful party in the books, it’s time to start planning for next year.

The hot dog (Lunchbox) can’t wait.