Wednesday, July 23

Tour de Droopy

I'm not a roadie.  No disrespect to roadies intended.  If anything, the absence of me from their ranks probably brings them up a peg or two... or many more.  I just don't enjoy enough of the experience to actively participate in this particular hobby.  Sure, I ride to work on what some call a "tarck bike" and sometimes extend those rides in search of fitness (and wayward tools at the side of the road)...

and of course I get paid to ride a bike cycling machine on roads in order to deliver various goods and perform certain services.

But intentional road riding.  Ewwwww.  These bikes with these bars:

Silly macaroni noodles.  No idea how it all started.  Too indifferent to find out why they exist at all.  I just know that when I ride in the drops, my neck hurts, I'm looking out over the tops of my protective lenses, I get numb in certain zones and I'm generally miserable.  The only problem being that if I want to go down a serious hill in a serious manner, that's where I need to put my hands.

And if you want to go down in a real hurry, you do something even more stupid.

or as shown in this year's Tour of France, something even stupider.

There are many ways to get down the hill fast.  Want to descend like those superheroes on TV (or on borrowed live internet feeds)?  Watch and learn...

Tuck like a pro... not to be confused with this:

If you have an attention span as small as mine (if you've read this far, yours surpasses mine by days), here's the breakdown of the three methods that are preferable to sitting straight up like a brick wall (AKA: Being marginally comfortable on a road bike).

Not to be confused with the Human Toolbag.
Here's the thing I don't understand.  The current UCI weight limit requires that all bikes weigh at least 6.8kg (14.99lb).  This rule has been around for almost one and a half decades.... since a time long ago when riders and mechanics were doing absurd things to drop weight on the bikes in order to make great bike race.  The rule was put in place to keep the riders safe from self-created death traps going down a mountain at 60MPH (sorry, something something KPH).  Currently, the rule is quite stupid, and much ado has been made about modifying it.

In the meantime, mechanics are sticking weights on the bikes to have them make the minimum weight requirement.

They stick and/or hide them anywhere they can.  Totally useless, dead fucking weight. Well, I guess riders like former Grand Tour sprinter, Tom Steels, would have something a little more effective than a half-empty bidon to toss at offending sprinters who go off-line.

Why, oh why... on these climbing heavy days when riders are also descending some sick, sick, sick winding roads down the side of a mountain, are they not using proper drooper posts?

I'm not talking about this abomination that Nibali has used this year.

Tuesday, July 22

The Chroni(what)cles of Gnarnia

So that tire showed up... the tire of my dreams?

The Maxxis Chronicle 29 X 3.0

It's big.  How big?  Notoriously (without the extra "g").

The Vertigus?  The Vertigampus?  The Pamela Anderson?  (the additional rubber has made it front heavy)

I've lusted after a big tire ever since I gave up 26" wheels.  I loved my competent but heavy (1,800 grams) 3.0 Nokian Gazzy.

Farlow Gap.  2006.  Riding a section I haven't ridden in years... either because I gave up the Gazzy, the trail has terribly eroded, or I have gained a certain sense of my own mortality.  It was an enabler.  I could ride some gnar that I might not have at the time, with confidence and aplomb.  At 8 PSI, it stuck to everything like it had tentacles (not testicles, big difference).

I was reluctant to go to 29" wheels back in 2006.  My go-to 26" tire was the 2.5 UST Continental Diesel, and there was nothing that could replace it.  Then there was the 2.35 Rampage.  I bought two of the first 150 that hit the states (when an awake Mike C cornered the market and pissed off the guys who got caught sleeping).  Then there was/is the 2.4 Maxxis Ardent which took the place of the Rampage as my go-to... but no replacement for my ride-over-my-own-head-with-confidence Gazzy.

Until now?

We shall see.

Most of the trails in Charlotte were closed over the weekend.  I thought about heading to Uwharrie, one hour to the east.  Then I remembered Steve's Place AKA Rocky River Trail.   The most "raw" trail in town.  Rocks of all shapes and sizes, roots, steep pitches, off-camber sections... it would suffice for the purposes of finding the right PSI to run the new Chronicle at for max cush and traction.

Just enough room in the Niner crabon frok for a 3.0 and about zero mud.

I started at 16PSI... sorta.  I use a Topeak Smart Gauge to set the pressure.  I don't think there's a better gauge out there for the money.  I have a pretty tight tolerance for pressure on the Ardent.  Lower than 17PSI and I might ding a rim.  Higher and I'm bouncing all over the place.

Sorta.  I say "sorta" because the gauge is accurate to the single pound, not the tenth.  The bleed valve allows air to creep out at MTB pressures, so going from 18PSI to 17PSI can take 15-20 seconds... which means lots of time for tenths of a PSI adjustments.  Those are just guesses though.  Normally, when I run 17PSI, I wait until 18 disappears, wait a few moments, and then let go.  17.something.

So 16PSI is actually 16.somethingPSI.  I rode some, let out 1PSI, rode some more, and settled on 14.somethingPSI.  I stopped there.

Mostly because I was out of time and desire to ride more of Steve's Place.  I wasted so much of it, time that is.
It makes noise and grabs the earth like it has its own gravity.
So far, no squirm on an Industry Nine Enduro (no ™) rim.  31.5mm outer/26mm inner width for those that want to know.  It looks a little silly, but no more silly than the 2.5 Diesel on a Mavic 819 rim that I used to run.  I'm pretty sure I can go lower on the air pressure.  I might have noticed the extra weight.

"How much extra weight?" you ask.

I don't know if I'm allowed to say.  This tire has prototype written on it, and "industry insider douchebags" don't like when you over-share information.  I will say this.

Monday, July 21

My (myopic and pathetic) coverage of two events I did not attend

Those two or three things I didn't do over the weekend...

because I stayed home and played with my girthy new toy.

More about that later (tomorrow).

The big events of the weekend; USA Mountain Bike Nationals and the 2014 Single Speed Worlds!

I think I'm most bummed that I skipped Nats up in PA.  Woulda been an easy drive, in a relative sense.  A cheap trip.  Some riding.  Loads of fun.

photo cred: Pat Engleman, rider Churtle the Turtle
"I have never heard so much noise. I couldn't hear myself think," said (Lea)Davison. "That was hands-down the best cheering section I ever heard, even from Europe. If I could hire the Lone Wolf Heckle Pit and bring them to Europe, that'd be great."

photo cred: Scott Kingsley 
Standing around in the woods just drinking beer and yelling with friends (and at them) from all over the East coast?  Sounds like a good time.  Pretty sure I might have even snuck a bike ride in at some point.  More than likely, Nats won't be on this side of the country for awhile.  Might have made a mistake on that one.

Oh yeah, some really fast pros that are used to winning won... I think.  I didn't look.  Also it seems something like 90% of my FaceFriends stood on the podium's of their respective classes.  Makes sense.

The 2014 Single Speed World Championships up in Anchorage.  I was way more glued to FaceBook looking for updates or news of any kind than I was watching a sorta boring feed of the TdF.  From what I heard, some people were happy, others not.  Sounds like it involved mandatory staying awake for many hours, a very loose to nonexistent schedule of events, quite possibly ending in a foot down competition... amongst the riders that were able/willing to get to that point.

I can see why some people are happy and also some are angry.  I probably woulda been in the sad category, but that's just me.  Not that I need schedules to be happy (but it does help regulate my certain "problems"), it's just that this was the most expensive to enter SSWC that I remember.  My memory says I paid $35 for Durango in 2009, Anchorage was something like $100.  Most swag and beer is donated... where does the money go?  A good cause?  I have no idea.  I hope so.  I know a lot of hard work goes into the race, but it's either done for the love of our sport...I use that term loosely, maybe I just mean "exhausting leisure time activity that sometimes gets taken too seriously," or it shouldn't be done at all.

If the "race" ended in a foot down competition, I don't know if that matters.  I liked that the SSWC 05 ended in a go-cart race since they (the people of State College) felt people were taking single speeding too seriously.  Maybe I like it even more because Buck won that go-cart race.

A true champion who has NEVER held a UCI Pro Mountain Bike License but has held as many as seven beers in one hand at once.

The beauty of SSWC is that it is what it is and that's it.  I wasn't thrilled to ride all the way down to some park below the Golden Gate Bridge for a "party" only to find a couple dudes walking around with plastic hot dogs and a whole lotta disappointed party goers, but I'll never forget that "party."  Next year, things are headed to Japan.  By things, I mean not me.  I can prepare myself to have a little disappoint in my SSWC experience... but only if it costs me less than $750 American, tax, title, out the door.

There were winners at SSWC 2014.

Friday, July 18

Where the buffalo (don't) roam

Does it bother me that the Single Speed World Championships are happening up in Anchorage this weekend and I'm not there?

I don't know.

Money was a problem... or at least the concept of money.  It woulda been a $1,500 trip, and I think that's being conservative.  I have it.  I just didn't know if I wanted to part with it.  I've really been eying some ASSOS bibs and a cute riding blouse from Rapha.

Time was a problem.  I had this year all figured out, as far as paid time off goes.  Then plans changed and I'm left with five days in 2014, but then it all goes back to problem #1.  I still need to figure out what to do with that time, but that's a great problem to have.

Timing was a real problem.  Between The Pie and I, this is a hectic time of year, as far as plans go.  I'm coming home and she's going out the door.  Something has to give.  Regardless of how it may seem, I enjoy her company and miss her when the revolving door of summer shows up.

So yes, it will pain me slightly to not be there... made even worse by my FaceBook feed, but at least I'm there in spirit (and in the commemorative literature).

Fingershop edited

I knew I would regret that tattoo someday.  Still need to get it filled in... thinking flesh tones.

Thursday, July 17

Some supervision required

Ouch.  The past two days, I hurt me.

I tried and failed to finish another Plaza Midwood Tuesday night ride.  Josh the Wonderboy joined me from my house for the evening.  We got to the Common Market just in time for a(nother) beer before the start.  I told Josh we needed to be close to the front in case we stopped for (more) beer.  The need to jockey for position at the bar was top priority.

Word came in that we were headed to the Heist Brewery... also that we were NOT stopping there.  Just regrouping.  We took off from the group to try and get a beer before they left.  We failed.  We had beer.  The ride moved on.

I suck at PMTNR.

From there, we headed over to some other Plaza Midwood establishment with more reasonable beer prices, the Tour and Iditasomething on the big screens.

We stayed until it got late.  Then the heavy rain started to fall.  We decided to wait it out and drink more beer.  That did not make the rain go away.  Eventually we had to head home in the deluge, and apparently before we left, I thought I should take a picture of the Fastest Bike in the World.

iPhones can be so useful when trying to piece together the night before.

I wanted to avoid any similar situations last night, but Niner Mike called me earlier in the day.  He was in town, which meant I was headed out of the house again.  So hard to do the hermit thing sometimes.

Tuesday, July 15

Pandora's Buffet

Shit.  I mentioned that The Pie went out of town, but perhaps you noticed no mention of Living la Vida Bachelor?  Truth be told, I'm tired and behind.  Things on to-do lists, and maybe even some sleep to catch up on.  I know that last part is beyond the realm of possibility, but I can try.

Last night, it was time to get off the Pisgah mank...

And the Tour de Burg stank.

Energy type drinks do leave a mess.

I hate when blog/facefeeds/twitter spews go overboard in their product endorsements, but...

This stuff just makes it all easier.

I really don't use degreaser on my chain anymore.  Chain Shine makes quicker work of this mess.  I'd show you the after photo, but it just looks like a clean chain.  Something like this, but blurrier.

Enough of that.

Since I had already slathered myself in bug spray (mosquitoes will swarm me if I stand still for more than a second... and anything short of a dead sprint is considered standing still) and I already had the bucket and hose out, I went ahead and washed my car.  I'm not a car guy, but it was starting to look like a science experiment.  Sort of a "What would happen if I mix bug guts, pollen, tree sap, dirt from five states and spilled beers and exposed it to sunlight for three months?" kinda thing.

I think I'm done being productive for the week.  Tonight, I will see if I can ride an entire Plaza Midwood Tuesday Night Ride without:

a. getting bored by the lack of beer... and riding (no star gazing this time, please)

b. forming a mutiny and heading to Hooters

I'm sure some of you expect me to mention this:

Monday, July 14

I... thought... you... was... a... toad

I've been feeling burned out lately.  Over the last two months, it was PMBAR, Pisgah 111k, Pisgah 55.5k, Pigsah Enduro, and the Tour de Burg.  Loads of fatigue.  Sore throats.  Cold sores.  Bags under my eyes.  My body falling apart.  I was looking forward to an easy weekend.  A short ride at most.

The Pie and Nia were planning on heading north this week, originally scheduled to leave today.  Some time in the middle of last week, the plan changed.  They were leaving Sunday instead.  A day to myself?  Can't waste it locally.  Must go to the mountains.  I got a hold of Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever and organized a minimum two person ride that somehow turned into a reunion ride with Mike "Own your words with your name" Brown, Tim "The Single Speed Champion of Charlotte, and The Other White Rich D.  The word "shuttle" was thrown around, but it doesn't make the ride plan sound any easier.

Saturday, I just want to sleep in... I wake up at 6:43 with the graying face of a 16 year old mutt breathing on mine own.  I'm up.  Shortly after, the door bell rings.  My neighbor.  What could he want?

He tells me a limb from one of my trees fell on his fence and mine.  Meh.  Grab the shoes and a bow saw.  Head out back.

It was a huge leader.  Hundreds of pounds.  Forty to fifty feet of tree parts.  Fence integrity compromised so our dogs were no longer secure.  Meh.  A problem in need of addressing.  He busted out his tiny chain saw and after a rousing amount of cutting, toting, propping and repairing, we had this:

Relaxing way to start the weekend.

The rest of Saturday went much better.  A lot of bike room piddling and time spent getting the Dickstickel Meatplow V.6 ready for action.

24.5lbs of hard tail all mountain Enduro™ shredding goodness.

Up at 5:30 the next day, out the door to The Other White Rich D's house, in the minivan sedan and to Smoker's Cove.  Meet Eric and Mike in the parking lot, Pisgah Productions Sprinter with Ian "The Pony" Lione at the wheel.  In the lot, I see Greg Leister and another person headed up Lower Black to do (even more) work on the new improvements.  I am reminded of the We Need Primitive Trails article by The Angry that went up earlier in the week.  He got things a little wrong...

"According to the locals, the forest service wants the trails left the way they are, with little to no modifications or maintenance..."

The Angry was only there for a few days, and it's easy to get just part of the story in that short time.  There is some truth to what he said, but there are a fair amount of locals that were less than chuffed with his article.  A lot of work has gone into the trails in Pisgah, a fair amount being the kind no one likes... politics and red tape.  I don't want to get too far off on this topic, as it is a lengthy one, but on this one day of riding, we ran into two trail crews on separate sides of the forest and were able to be first wheels on the all new Upper Cove Creek.  After riding the new Lower Black, I have to give huge props to those that labor up in the hills.  Magnificent.  Anyways...

We load up and drive to Gloucester Gap.

What follows is seven and a half to eight hours in the woods with friends covering no more than 28 miles... but they were Pisgah miles, so there's that.

All the following photos are Eric's.

This is what most people think of when you say "Farlow Gap."  The rocky chunder gnar near the top.

This is what I think of: