Thursday, August 14

Like an old, deaf man, I'm outta hear

In less than 24 hours, I'll be on a plane to Denver... my something somethingth consecutive year of heading out west in a row.  Even though I'm sitting here now, the Westward Ho Before Bros Mancation 2014 has begun.

Thanks to Wirun, #theWestwardHoBeforeBrosMancation2014 is now a "thing."

My shit is heading towards Denver in Wirun's Honda Fit as I type.  Yes, Wirun, Bill Nye and I all have Fits.  We're like a car club, except we like bikes... and sometimes we need highly uncustomized cars to transport them.

The timing of the trip couldn't be better.  Thanks to Drunk Cyclist FaceLinking to my drooper post yesterday... 

hits went through the roof.  I probably look at the whole statistic thing once every week or two, so the recent spike confused me.

Yeah, it was as if Jesus re-edited the bible and threw a link to my blog in John 3:16.

So now that traffic has hit an all time high, what better thing could I possibly do than leave for nine days and go silent?

Nothing better.  Soon it will just be me and you (and possibly you and you) again.  I promise.

Interestingly enough, I had a quick FB chat with Chris from DC about the whole thing.  He suggested I get a fan page on FB, and I had to tell him that like most things in my life, I only want to exert enough effort to achieve moderate success on the daily with a rare accidental flash of brilliance to share with the rest of the world.  Otherwise, it's all beer, bikes, peanut M&M's and Pop Tarts here.

Which prompted him to send me this, cementing our e-friendship forever.

Too lazy to watch it?  Everything you need to know, right here:

Small things of note before I leave.  I haven't had a beer in almost sixty hours.

Tuesday, August 12

Droop, There It Is

I don't see anybody talking about it.  I don't know why not.

Over the weekend, I watched the Windham Round of World Cup racing... my second rainy day weekend in a row, sitting 'round the house with not much to do, watching other people ride mountain bikes while I daydream. Something (in my world) significant took place in the women's race.

2013 World Cup ChampTanja Zakelj (Unior Tools) took second place...

and she was running a drooper post.

Also seen here rocking in full-drooper mode...

I probably woulda never noticed, but common taters Bart Brentjens and Rob Warner mentioned it from time to time... less outta "How fucking cool is this?" and more "We have to say something about stuff."   My inside parts were set all a tingle.   I felt the need to know more.

After just a bit of sleuthing, I see that she was rocking the ever-loving hell out of it the week before on La Beatrice rock section at Mont Sainte-Anne.

She came in a respectable 6th place on the day.  I was busy riding at Wilson's Creek, so I missed the live coverage of the women's XC race and any yammering that might have went on during the race.

I wondered if anybody else had ever used a drooper in a World Cup XC race.  I looked into it (briefly).

I saw that Brian Lopes won the inaugural 2013 XC Eliminator with a drooper before they decided to neuter the courses entirely and put more XC into them and less eliminator.

Brian gave up chasing down Eliminator glory, and droopers went away with him.

A little more digging... apparently Georgia Gould used one back in April at the Cairns XC race, but ended up in 19th place at the end of the day.

I'm not saying that's not respectable, just that she didn't take one to the podium.  There was plenty of slippery gnar in Cairns, and I could see where one might come in handy.

Assuming you don't like having a saddle lodged under your sternum.

Is this a sign of things to come in 2015?   Well, when the 2015 UCI MTB calendar was announced, posted the schedule and interestingly enough added this quip:

"With Pietermaritzburg and Cairns off the schedule, we may not see a dropper post in 2015…"

More and more courses are upping the gnar content.  I don't know why.  I like it.  It's a better reflection of what most of the people I know call "mountain biking."  Cool.  A reflection of improved technology, the demands of the fans, the cries of the racers?  Doesn't matter.  Up your game or get dropped.

So why aren't more XC riders using droopers?

They are heavier than a regular post, natch.  When riders are sweating grams, a .86 lbs increase (comparing a Thomson drooper to a Niner RDO crabon post) is a painful thing to add to the bike.  Weight hurts most when climbing and re-accelerating the bike...that's a big part of off-road bike cycle racing.

But say you are a rider who is a strong climber but lacks the ability to really rail descents and tackle the gnar at speed.  Drop the post, and now you're changing your approach on turns and getting your weight back in the nasty stuff.  IMHO it's much easier to ride a hardtail through choppy rocks and steep/fast technical sections when you can keep your center of gravity low but still let the bike move up and down under you.  Enough so that a hardtail with a drooper feels way more handy than a short travel full suspension bike with the seat all jacked up.  How much do those squishy bikes weigh again?

And that extra weight of a drooper?  How many things have already been deemed "too heavy" and "stupid" for XC use in the past?

Front suspension
Tubeless tires
Disc brakes
Full suspension

All common place now.

Emily Batty's sick what bolt-on thru axles.

I've had my misgivings about droopers.  The first one of mine own was on the Stumpjumper Multi-Acronym machine.

Monday, August 11

Airborne Illness

Plan for a Sunday ride... that will probably get rained out.  Wake up Saturday and head to the dentist.  On the way there, Kürdt FacePosts that there's a plan cooking to ride the BYT before the rain starts. 

There are trails open and I'm going to the dentist?

I gotta get outta here.

Mouth open, hygienist doing what she does, phone in my pocket starts blowing up.  A pause in the tooth picking and I look at my phone.  Gordon Sizemore has escaped and The Pie can't stick around to look for him.  Plans changing constantly.  Was mentally preparing my gear for a ride and now I'm going through the necessary steps for neighborhood animal rescue.  Hygienist says something looks "ominous," dentist agrees... I'm gonna have to come back for some more poking and drilling.  Meh.

Get home, prepare to gather SPD shoes, leash and a bike.  There's the sexy, sizzlin' man himself standing on the back porch.  I guess he still likes his home.  I stop to pet him, but sternly, because even though he can be a shit, I still love him.

Change gears and get back into the mountain bike cycle ride mindset.  Call Bill Nye, scoop him from one location, his bike from the next, and head to BYT.

Bill Nye and his new Devinci Atlas... his first ride on a full suspension bike EVER.  Also wonderfully prepared for hunting season.

Plod around, Kürdt riding with GPS device to map out possible routes for this year's Back Yard Experience brought to you by Faster Mustache.  Stop the electronical device to session, of course.

Kürdt shows how it's done.

I show how it could be done if one were slightly intimidated by the thought of overshooting the lander with a rigid crabon frok.  I had so much fun with the Maxxis Chronicle that I'm seriously leaning towards leaving it on for the Shenadoah Mountain 100... despite the 200+ gram weight penalty.  13.something PSI for those that want to know that type of information.  It changes things.... big time.

Bill Nye shows how it should be done on a brand new bike that you're not familiar with when you've had no sleep, only ate a handful of yogurt covered raisins for breakfast, and have no desire to get hurt five days before a big trip to Colorado.  The bike was built the day before, suspension adjusted in his living room.  He'll grow into it.  I'll turn this multi-sport outdoorsman into a mountain biker if it kills me (or him).

More riding, philosophizing, and head scratching.  Foot down comp in the tech section that did not determine a World Champion.

More play time.

Kürdt's head may be in the clouds, but his left calf (and heart) is always in the Pisgah National Forest.

Glad I got one more ride on the Vertigus thick'ish bike.  The SM100 should at least be a different experience, which is about all I can hope for... Dicky Deep podium perhaps.  Doubt I have shot at breaking nine hours which would be my only goal... assuming I was one to have goals... which I'm not.

Friday, August 8


This weekend is bringing the sadzors.

I will not be in Copper Harbor tomorrow for SSUSA.

I'll just be watching from afar via FaceBook.

 photo cred: Cinderblock
Odd thing being that I was drinking the same beer with just a shittier view (my bike room) when I saw this last night.

To make things worse, for the first time since it ever came into existence back in 2009, I will not be lining up for the Breck Epic on Sunday.  I won't bother grabbing the forecast from, because I can assure you it will be cold every morning, warming up unbelievably quick, with a chance of afternoon death from above on a few random days.  You know, sleeveless jersey with arm warmer weather.

(one knee warmer optional)
Breck Epic undeniably offers one of the best experiences in terms of quality suffering with high rewards.  Hard not to be there, but not as hard as actually being there...

Except I (we) will kinda be there.  The Westward Ho Before Bros Mancation 2014 plan has changed.  We will now be headed from the Denver airport to Frisco, where we'll be hopping on the Peaks Trail for an out and back to Breckenridge.  Not an epic by any means, but we (Breck Epic) always ride the trail from Frisco to Breck on the HUGE day over Wheeler Pass.  I've always thought the trail would be better going the other way, so now I get to find out.

After we put in our puny 15 miles (between 9,300 and 10,000 feet), we're heading into Breck for the infamous Stage 7, otherwise known as the after-party.  As Bill Nye said, "So you want to head straight for 10,000 feet right off the bat and then drink all night?  I'm okay with that."

Then the plan goes back to normal.  Salida, Monarch Crest shuttle (hopefully with Niner George), brewery, Durango, hit some of the trails I rode back in 2009 at SSWC...

wake up the next day and meet up with Matt McFee with Hermosa Tours and do Kennebec Pass... and by "do," I mean "shuttle," brewery... and then the plan is no longer a plan, just more whim and whimsy.

But this weekend?  My last chance to ride the Vertigus with the Maxxis Chronicle tire before the Shenandoah 100... which is the weekend after we get back from out west... and all three of us are doing it.  I was hoping to make a logical decision as to whether or not to run with it.  That rain might keep me off the trails unless I can squeak out to Uwharrie.

Otherwise, I will just watch World Cup racing live on Red Bull TV from Windham all weekend and make my decisions based on what I see there.

Oh yeah, I'm taking this bike to Colorado:

Long story short, whichever bike I take will be returning days later than me.  I didn't want to be scrambling to get my bike ready for the Shenandoah 100.  Besides, this is a fine bike for what we have in store for us.  My only hope is that we ride at least 50% gnar to justify carrying 150mm of travel around all week long.  Any suggestions for gnar grabbage somewhere north of Durango, southwest from Denver will be entertained. 


Thursday, August 7

Pack of the Back

Tourist.  I'm not good at it.  One of the main reasons I do stage races.  I don't have to figure out what to do with myself all day.  Line up, follow arrows, clean up, repeat.  Eat somewhere in there a few times.

I'm coming up quick on my first Mancation since 2011.  Really?  Wow.

photo cred: Big Ring
Such good times.

I started packing already since Bill Nye and Wirun are taking my rack, bike and gear out in a car a couple days before I fly out.  I'm staring at the piles of stuff sacks and whatnot trying to pare down to the bare minimum, lest I end up jammed into the back seat like just another piece of not-so-fragile luggage.

I want to respect the possible length and severity of the rides we may attempt.  Monarch Pass, Kennebec Pass, Georgia Pass... a bunch of other passes, various mountains, ridges (our planning is terrible).  This means plenty of food, water, and rain gear... and unfortunately means a pack of some sort. 

I've been spoiled riding in the land of a thousand waterfalls.  Water everywhere.  A single speeder with limited mechanical needs, a few iodine pills, and an ability to ride long periods of time without much to eat.  I think since that last trip out west, I've worn a pack maybe (and that's a big maybe) five times.  This is not including riding around with an 18 pack of PBR supporting a Faster Mustache event.

I've got three hydration packs to choose from; a 50oz Wingnut, a 70oz Camelbak... something or other, and a well over decade old and highly modified 100oz Camlebak Blowfish.  I hate them all for one reason or another but mostly for just being a pack in the first place.

I looked through the pictures from the 2011 Mancation to see what I used then.

photo cred: Big Ring
Some 100oz red Camelbak that I wore most of the time and has since moved on to a new owner... not a good sign.

photo cred: Marcus
The 70oz Camelbak something or other that holds the water down low on the waist, but is still a pack in the sense that it's on my back making me unhappy.

Tuesday, August 5

You are what you drink... unless it's Mad Dog, which turns you into someone completely different

Beverages are an all important part of cycling, before, during and after.  Watts from Revolution Cycles in Greensboro, NC understands this, and he's doing everything he can to keep the single speeder on the go fully supplied with his/her needs.

His shop recently got the proper permissions from the local constabulary to serve alcohol.  Unfortunately, if you're in need of adult toys, you'll have to wait a couple more weeks until Watts has finished up with his Associate Degree in Adult Toy Purchasing.  Until then, he has a few personal phalli you can borrow.

Sorry.  This is supposed to be more about beverages and less about Watts and his shop of global implications.

I've been quite a cheap bastard when it comes to racing.  I want to be the best I can be, but with the most minimal amount of training, preparation and expense producing maximum results.  Somewhere in there, amongst the cost cutting and effort reduction, lies the sweet spot.

I've tried and failed many times in terms of nutrition and hydration.  One of the worst best (or best worst) examples of a successful failure would have been the 2012 ORAMM.  In an effort to save time, money and hopefully go fast enough to win, the night before the race (while watching Rambo: First Blood Part Two in a hotel room) I decided that rather than having to keep up with hydration (Gatorade), food (gels) and electrolytes (Endurolytes), I would mix them all together in my water bottles.  It was a great idea... until it wasn't.  It tasted nasty and sat in my gut like a rock.  I choked back what I could, faltered and in the end, came up just a little short.

Yeah, I still won the podium, so there's that.

I've played with all sorts of drinks in the past.  Free tubs of various things that I'd won at races, Heed that I learned to drink back when they started this whole NUE business, Gatorade, watered-down Gatorade, Osmo, and last year, Skratch Labs.

Skratch was the opposite of what I tried to invent in 2012.  The thinking behind it is more of a hydration need and very little fuel for the fire.  It worked as far as not upsetting my stomach, tasted pleasant enough to drink, and my local bike shop carried it.  Good enough, but it required that I get my calories from elsewhere, which means one more thing to keep up with.  I don't wear a watch or run a computer on my bike, so that's near impossible to do (when you're me and you get distracted by the patterns in gravel).

After this year's Tour de Burg, long story short, I ended up with Chris Merriam's drop bag (he had to go home early and be an adult).  Inside were many innertubes that weren't his, a rain coat that was size small, some sun tan lotion, a bottle of TUMS, a Camelbak bottle, and some Carborocket drink stuffs.  I contacted him and he instructed me to keep everything but the water bottle and drugstore items, and if it pleased me, to try the remaining drink powder mix.

So I did.

There was enough left in the jug for one serving.  I mixed it up and used it on a short ride.  Pleasant.  Tolerable.  Almost yummy.

My interest was piqued.

I read up on this 333 Half Evil All-In-One Endurance Drink concoction.

What do you know?  They make the shit I tried to make, but where I failed, they succeeded.  It does not suck.  I ordered a tub of mine own right away.

Monday, August 4

Yawn... Wilson's Creek

On this weekend that held so many possibilities, I almost thought I'd be in Downieville... then a possible trip to Snowshoe... and then weather and the scramble to salvage a ride out of the 48 hours of non-workery.

Only Zac said he'd join me on Sunday.  Wilson's Creek classic loop.  I wake up to find that the turtle who keeps trying to storm our house is in the backyard again.

When will he learn?  Nia dispatches him back to the creek behind the house, scolding him for his insolence.

8:00AM roll-out time, Honda Fit of Rage loaded... with only my bike and gear.  No Zac.  Ten minutes later, no phone call.  I run on time, and he would call if he was running late.  I swap bikes and a few items, and at 8:15 I'm rolling towards Uwharrie, opposite of the direction I had planned.

8:20AM and a text from Zac.  Power outage and no alarm.  Back and forth texts (I pull over, no texty drivey stuff for me), and then suddenly, like grownups, we're talking on the phone.  I turn around and by 9:20AM we're rolling to Wilson's Creek....

Where I spent the day documenting that Zac sticks his tongue out when he rides tech but not when he gets air.

We run into some four wheelers on Raider's Ridge.  They aren't supposed to be there, but I'm not too sure about our presence either.  The helmet-less male is removing a rock from a water bar.  The helmet-less female it watching.