Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I put in a pretty hard effort on Sunday.  I rode at or above my threshold the entire time (like a race car in the red), worried about someone catching me.  Sometimes I think it’s easier to work up to the front than to stay there the whole time.  The only other race I’ve ever won (back in 2009) saw me in the lead for the whole race, only to slow down and take it easy once I knew how far ahead I was.  I eventually kicked it back in, but I could have very well lost the position that I’d worked so hard to get.

Anyway, I really expected to be pretty tired.  Like, hang around and do nothing tired.

That wasn’t really the case.  I was sleepy from getting up early on a weekend, but my legs felt good.  I wasn’t dehydrated like I normally would be after a race, even though I didn’t quite finish one bottle of water.  I do still have one lingering thing from the race though…

A weird cough.

Inhaling all that cold air (it was around 34 degrees at the start) while I rode made my lungs hurt like hell when it was over.  I put in some hard efforts on my road bike the week before, but the temps were warm and I didn’t have that issue.  It’s cleared up a little now, but I’m still coughing up stuff.  Gross.

Damn that morning air was some chilly shit…

To “recover” from the race, I ate a lot.  They served food after the race (which was an awesome thing to do), but I’d brought my own.  I also ate when I got back home in the afternoon, and even made dinner later that evening.  I also drank plenty of fluids throughout the afternoon to make sure I wouldn’t dry out.  It was almost all water, other than one of my favorite recovery drinks…

Death By Hops is pretty damn awesome.  I found this one da udda day at The Common Market here while Mr. Shepherd was in town, and I saved it for consumption after the race.  It was extra good, and no doubt earned.  Maybe I need a beer sponsor.

Speaking of sponsors, look over there to the right.  All those logos you may or may not click on (you do, right?) support me in some form or fashion, and I really appreciate each and every one of them.  I feel like they are all responsible in one way or another for me having a good race yesterday, and having them in my corner was pretty good motivation.

And this is the part again where I say thanks to the volunteers and race organizers (hi Howard) for putting on such a fine event.  Also, the Southern Classic Series is the best around and I’m glad to be back.  Hopefully I can keep having fun, even if that podium trip is the only one this year.

Bikes, beer, and fun.  Let’s keep it simple this season, shall we?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Third Time’s A Charm

I’ve mentioned before that I was “un” “retiring” from XC lap racing.  I wanted to give the Southern Classic Series another shot and see what could do.  Sure, I got burned out back in 2012 when I last raced in it, but maybe I wasn’t in a good place mentally or something.  Who knows.  With a lofty goal of doing the whole series (after missing the first race), I kicked off my “un” “retirement” yesterday at San Lee Park in Sanford, NC.

Up at six a.m. to feed the pets, I started having second thoughts.  After a stretch of warm weather here lately, I woke up to below freezing temps.  I really just wanted to crawl back in bed.  I didn’t though, and after loading up my stuff I hit the road.  It was cold.


As I headed E/NE away from Charlotte, I saw the temps drop down to 22 degrees at one point.  Resiting the urge to turn around, I starting thinking about what I would wear during the race.  I knew that I would warm up quickly, and with a little over two hours of driving time I had plenty of time to go over everything.  As I got closer, I started to get nervous.  I hadn’t “competed” in XC in about three years, although I did race in one last year just for fun.  I told my nerves to shut up, and suddenly I was in the parking lot.

I walked up to the registration area, grabbed my number plate, and started getting dressed.  I ended up with a light DeFeet base payer, arm warmers, knee warmers, and my really cool new Trail Ninja socks…

I was pretty chilly, but spinning around the parking lot and up and down a big hill started warming me up pretty good.  Soon, it was time to line up.  That’s when the nerves really got to me.  I looked around at my competition and wondered why I was there.  I got that negative shit out of my head and started going over my plan…

“Don’t get caught up racing.  Put in a good first effort, settle in, and don’t worry about chasing anyone down.”

When it was our turn to start, we sprinted up a big, steep hill.  With only one gear, I had no choice but to fly up it until I could find a spinny pace.  While I was doing that, I realized that I was out in front.  Shit.  I didn’t mean to do it, but it worked out that way.  Suddenly, as the hill crested, one guy shifted into a bigger gear and flew by.”

“Don’t chase him down.  You can get him later.”

I didn’t listen to myself and immediately took off after him.  The road leveled out and I was spinning my ass off.  With my heart rate through the roof, I entered the woods first, with second place (and everyone else) right behind me.  I knew I was gonna blow up after that effort, so I kept pedaling and waited for the inevitable.  I was still working hard, and building a small gap. 

Suddenly, I felt really good.

My heart rate slowed down, my breathing evened out, and I felt like I had a ton of energy.  I put the hammer down, and after each switchback climb I could see that I was pulling away from the group.  Entering the first technical section, I cleaned it and added even more of a time cushion.

I knew that I couldn’t keep that effort up.  The crash was coming, and I started to worry about when it would.  So, I just pedaled harder, figuring that I would use what I had while I had it.  The funny thing was, the harder I worked, the quicker I recovered.  I cleaned a few more rocky sections, mashed up some climbs, and sprinted away on the flat, twisty sections.  I saw no one from my class, but I was passing others that started ahead of me.

Who the hell was I?  Why wasn’t I dying out there?  I was working hard, and feeling better as the day went on.  After finishing that first lap, I felt even better.  I concentrated on building a bigger gap, and trying to be careful as I rode my rigid bike over some of those nasty rocks.  About halfway through the second lap I started to worry.  Did I take a wrong turn?  Am I now in last place?  Why the hell am I feeling so good?

Who gives a shit.  Keep riding.

Up the last big set of climbs (Charlie’s Mountain I think) I was hammering knowing that I was almost done.  That leads to the Mega Jump section, which is like a cross between Warrior Creek and a big ass pump track.  I flew through there, hit the jumps and even doubling a few.  I was on the home stretch, and before I knew it I was at the finish line.  I was confused, so I asked the race officials where I placed.


I was shocked.  Really.  I know I’ve been working a little bit on my fitness, but I didn’t really expect to win or even get on a podium this season.  But I did.

After a day of working hard and getting the shit beat outta me by rocks, I took home a pretty cool rock of my own.

And I won a Maxxis Ikon.  Rad.

This was my third race there.  The first two back in 2011 and 2012, I got third place (and smaller rocks.) It’s been a while since I’ve been on a podium, and honestly this one felt pretty damn good.  I worked hard, rode smart, and walked away feeling pretty good.  What a way to start the season.

I dunno.  Maybe it’s a fluke.  I got lucky.  Whatever.

Who gives shit.

I had a blast out there. The race organizers did a great job, the course was fun, and the people were pretty cool. It’s good to be back. I know it's not always gonna be this good, so I'm enjoying it while I can.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fun Friday

This week went by fast I guess.  Work was rough (as it has been lately), and I’m happy to have a few days off.  I’m also a bachelor for the next two days, since the little lady is heading down to Charles Town to run across a big bridge.

She’s pretty excited about it.  I hope she has fun and does well.  That’s not my kind of fun though, since I don’t run anymore these days.  If you ever see me running, something is chasing me.  You should run too.

Anyway, it will just be me, Lunchbox, and the cats and dogs for the next couple of days.  Tomorrow I have a few things planned, like a shitload of guitar playing a maybe a trip up to The Cycle Path for some supplies.  Also, Mr. Shepherd is in town from Florida, so we’ll probably hang out a little tomorrow.

The main thing is to relax a lot in preparation for my race on Sunday.

Maybe I can haz party…

That one makes me giggle every time I look at it.

I’ll probably end up watching some Star Wars movies, in which case I’d better get some popcorn.

Lots of free time means that I will probably waste it all and do nothing. 

Who gives a shit.

See y’all Monday, most likely with some kind of race report.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Getting Ready For Fun

About a week ago, I was at a doctor’s office (for work stuff; I'm fine.)  There was an older lady there (probably in her late 70s), and she was asked about her recent vacation by the check-in nurse.  After a chat about some island getaway, she then went on to say, “I just booked a trans-atlantic cruise this summer.  It’s the last thing on my bucket list.”

That stuck with me.  I don’t know what else was on her list, but that fact that she’s nearly reached the end of it fascinated me.  I didn’t really have a chance to talk to her, but looking back I wished that I had.  From what I heard, she loves to travel, so I imagine that most of her list items were trips to far away and/or exotic lands.  She seemed so happy about it, and that made me feel pretty good as well. 

I have a long way to go until I reach her age, but I have plenty of time to do all sorts of fun things.  I don’t have a “bucket list” per se, but I do have a mental list of things that I’d like to do at some point.  I’ve checked off quite a few things, but I’m more of a “fly by the seat of my pants” type of person.  I’m just gonna make sure I have fun, no matter what I’m trying to accomplish.

I guess that’s one reason that I’ve reconsidered beefing up my racing schedule again.  I was really burned out when I raced a lot of cross country stuff a few years ago, to the point where even just riding my bike for fun wasn’t um, fun.  It wasn’t the racing that did it though.  It was my shitty attitude.  I was traveling to new trails and meeting some cool people, but I guess that wasn’t enough.  Racing can be fun, but if it ceases to be then maybe I need to look at why instead of just running away from it.

Maybe that’s why I’m a little nervous about this weekend.

Sunday, I’m jumping back into the Southern Classic Series, with the intention of doing the whole thing.  Once upon a time I raced almost every weekend, with varied results. 

There’s no reason to be nervous.  There’s really nothing on the line except whether or not I have fun.  That’s the approach I plan to take this time around, and I hope I can keep it up for the remainder of the season.  It’s gonna be difficult to stay focused, but as long as I can have fun then I should be fine.

Since I’m planning to “mix it up” with racey folks, I figured that I should get my bike in order.  I started by giving it a good bath, paying close attention to wear items such as the chain, cog, and chainring.  Everything is good (for now), but while I had the wheels off I noticed something odd.

Really, there’s no excuse for that kind of nonsense. I get tons of awesome support from Maxxis, and when I ask for new tires they show up quickly.  Maybe I’m just lazy (or don’t pay enough attention), but letting a tire go this long is unacceptable.  I didn’t take a photo of the actual tread wear, but it was quite shitty as well.

Luckily I haz options.

A brand new Ikon, just waiting for me to install it.  Once I did, I realized how much of a dumbass I am for not doing it sooner.  Tubeless setup was a breeze, and the fact that my rear wheel won’t spin out anymore is reason enough to never let this happen again.

At least I didn’t wait until I started racing this weekend.

That’s when I’ll see what else I forgot to do.

And no, new tires were not on my bucket list.  They probably should’ve been though.

Is it Friday yet?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


After my road ride on Saturday, I decided to head down to Rock Hill, SC to watch a little BMX action.

With a world class BMX track (not Helltrack though), I knew it was gonna be a sight to see.  Even when there’s not an event, the locals can play on the pump track just outside the main track.

Looks fun.  Maybe I need another bike.

It was a beautiful day to be outside, and after getting my miles in for the day I was happy to just watch.  Of course I took moar photos.

I watched a lot of good racing, even though honestly I had no idea who most of those people were.  Aside from watching, I spent most of my time at the DeFeet tent.

I’ve said it before, but they use recycled material to make these socks.  You know, from stuff like water bottles.  So, this photo is sort of a before and after…

And Mandy, the best DeFeet rep around, was busy pimping out socks to the BMX crowd, a lot of whom thought maybe they were just for road cycling.  That thinking changed quickly though, since the tent was constantly flocked with riders gawking at the cool designs, with many of them walking away with their first pair (and vowing to get more.)   

I was amazed at the crowds and their reactions, but a lot of it had to do with Mandy and her approach.

“Oh yeah, these socks are awesome.  See?”

She practices what she preaches, along with her family (also in attendance.)  They all wear (and ride in) DeFeet socks, so it’s easy to see how passionate they are.  In addition to being great people, they are definitely great ambassadors.  The brand has been opened up to a whole new market, which is never a bad thing.

You see?  I’m not the only one that thinks these socks are the cat’s ass.

Of course I’m not.

So yeah, what an awesome day.  You know, because any day that involves bikes can never be a bad thing.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Road Alone

Last week I had a grand idea.  I knew that most of the local trails would be closed, and with some travel coming up the next few weeks I didn’t feel like driving out of town.  Instead of riding inside like I’ve been the last several Saturdays, I decided that a long-ish outdoor road ride was in order. 

The plan:  Ride from my house on the north east side of town to the Whitewater Center (on the total opposite side of town.)

It sounded really far at first, but when I started looking at a map I realized that it would only be a little over twenty miles one way.  I looked at The Google, loosely planned a route, and scribbled some stuff down on a makeshift cue sheet.  I was ready.

The next morning I took off.  It was a little cold, but the forecast called for a high near seventy degrees.  A light DeFeet base layer, arm warmers, and knee warmers were sufficient, even though I was a little chilly.  My route took me out of my neighborhood and straight to TomTom’s house, where I would hit the local greenway for a small section. 

After that I had to wind around through several neighborhoods.  This is where the cue sheet came in handy.  Some turns were made after a few hundred feet; others after a half mile or so.  It was a little confusing but nice because it kept me off of some busy roads.  Eventually though, I had to mix it up with traffic.  I was a little worried but there were plenty of bike lanes.  Too bad they were full of gravel and other assorted debris.

That section was the longest on one particular road, and the worst part was that the bike lane ended (pushing me right into busy traffic.)  About a mile without a bike line lasted what seemed like forever, but eventually I ended up on some lightly traveled country roads.  It was like that until I reached Paw Creek.

Paw Creek is also known as the Tank Farm, where all the area’s gasoline is stored while it waits for tanker trucks to pickup and deliver to gas stations.

Since it was a Saturday the traffic is that industrialized area was pretty light.  It remained that way until I got close to my destination too…

 I still had a mile and a half or so until I reached the actual whitewater park, and that road was also lightly traveled since the trails were closed.  I’m glad they were, since I obviously brought the wrong bike for trail riding.

After a small potty break and a lap around the man-made river, I started to head back towards home base.  The highlight of my day was when a car pulled out ahead of me with balloons hanging out of it.  They were driving really slow as no not lose any, which meant that I would eventually start to gain on them.  Once I got close, they pulled over.  The passenger hopped out and proceeded to stuff the balloons into the back seat.

It was funny as hell, especially when they drove off again in a car filled to the brim with party favors.

I pretty much took the same route back.  I took a few photos of stuff I missed the first time though.

The busiest road I had to cross on the way back had a bike lane leading into it.  The turn arrow (in the bike lane) suggested to me that I would be spit out onto that busy road which I knew for sure didn’t have a bike lane.

I was wrong though, because as soon as I crossed the intersection, the arrows directed me towards a nice little bike path.

The rest of the ride was nice too, and I even stopped to get another picture.  This time is was sorta scenic.

Once I got back home, I’d tallied 43 miles for the day.  Not bad, and I sure as hell didn’t feel drained.  It was really fun, and other than stopping at my destination and to take some photos I kept a pretty speedy pace.  I really enjoyed being out on the road on such a beautiful day, even if it was on skinny tires.  I was alone, on a bike, and had a ton of fun.

Just the way I like it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fun Friday

You know what day it is?

 Exactly.  The weekend is here.  The weather got a little bad again.  Who gives a shit.  I have two whole days with no solid plans.  I will haz plans though. 

Maybe I’ll sleep in late tomorrow and make breakfast.

 There will be a bike ride somewhere.  Maybe even two or three.  Aside from that, who knows?  Well, I know. 

All I care about is the fact that I don’t have to be on a schedule until Monday.  Now I can go get into something.

Why don’t you do the same?  Just keep it fun.

See y’all next week.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why Are You Still Here?

Carl has nothing better to do.

The last two days around here have been spent promoting a couple of my fine supporters.  It’s been about things that I can’t live without these days (at least on the bike), so I thought that I should pass it on to you.  There will be more of that in the future, since I have more supporters and I will indeed need more things to talk about.  But today, it’s all about me.

It’s time for you to show your support for…

Absolutely nothing. 

Who gives a shit.

That’s something I’ve been saying for years, and you’ve heard it around here enough to know that.  It’s not a question, hence the omission of a question mark.  It’s more of a statement.  A statement about general feelz and whatnot. 

You like riding fast and training but no one seems to care?  Who gives a shit.

You like to party and heckle while others race and they don’t like it?  Who gives a shit.

You prefer 26 over 29 but your friends make fun of you?  Who gives a shit.

You like smearing peanut butter all over your… 

Ewwww.  You’re a weirdo.

Anyway, in support of non-support of things, I had some stickers made.  I’ve wanted to do this for quite some time, and when I ran the idea by Lunchbox he simply said, “Hurry up.”

So, here goes:

Stickers.  I haz them.  You can haz.  I’m not trying to quit my day job by selling these, so all you have to do is give me a crispy American dollar bill and I’ll give you one.  Or, buy me a beer.  Or, be on a very short list of people that will get some for things they’ve already done for me.  Let me know and I’ll tell you where you stand.  It’s quite the bargain either way.

You know you want one.  Support nothing (or everything) by getting one or more of these fabulous stickers.  Stick one on your bike, your car, your neighbor’s house, whatever.    

Find me in person and I’ll hook you up.  Ship some to you?  Well, we can talk about that too.

Get some.  Or don’t.  Who gives a shit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I’m Awesome Again

It’s been a little while since I mentioned the fine company that is Backcountry Research.  You know, the makers of the Awesome Strap.  The truth is, when their new designs came out I didn’t think to get any.  “My old stuff is fine,” I kept telling myself.

Maybe, but the new stuff is moar awesome-er.  When I finally got around to trying to acquire some new straps, they were in the middle of a move from Washington State to Montana and I had to wait.  Well, I haz no more waiting.

These are some assorted colors of the 2015 Race MTB Saddle Mount.  To quote the official product description, “Our most popular strap series has taken an evolutionary leap that’s equivalent to an eagle flying straight out of the primordial ooze.”

So true.  I mean, the new design is a big improvement.  I’m not even sure how they keep improving on a product that’s so awesome to begin with (pun intended.)  The setup is way easier this time around, it holds everything much better, and I feel like it’s a helluva lot more secure than previous model.  What does that mean for you? 

No more losing your shit on the trail. 

It’s so easy that anyone can use it.  I can, so yes, that does mean anyone.  I’ll give you the step by step just in case.

Since it’s been a little while since I checked the tube in my old setup, I used a brand new Maxxis tube for my new awesomeness. 

 Step one is to lay out the strap on a flat surface.

The next step is to grab your tube, get all of the air out of it, and roll it up nice and tight (and even.)  Don’t worry too much about this step as long as you’re close though.  Once that’s done, place the tube on the color side of the strap and pull each of the two shock cords over the tube to hold it in place.

The next step is easy too.  Grab your air cartridge and tire lever and stuff it in behind the tube on the Velcro side.

That’s it.  Now you just have to mount it to the saddle rails.  Feed the ring side of the strap all the way through the saddle rails, slide the other end through, and pull tight.  Connect the Velcro and check to make sure it’s secure.

It sure is.

The installation is much easier than previous models, and it stays on there better than a tick on a fat dog.  If my instructions still confuse you, check out the video created by Dicky:

Got it?  Good.  Now you won’t lose your shit.

Just as before, there are several models of these straps to choose from.  For instance, the Hypalon Mutherload Frame Mount:

Think of this one as an “extra”, since it goes on your frame when you need moar stuff.  You know, like when you’re endurance racing or out for a long ride in the hills or something.  Installation is the same, so no worries there.

Once again, I’m awesome.  And once again, thanks to Backcountry Research for taking care of me again. 

Why don’t you have some in your life (or on your bike)?