Monday, March 19

You don't no me

A few weeks ago, I got a really sweet negative comment.  Man, it's been awhile.  So refreshing.

It was posted a few days after the blerhg post was published, so it needed to be approved first. I don't really go looking for comments on days-old posts, so when I found this one, I pondered on it for just a bit.

At first, I published it... then started wording a response.  Then I thought, "fuck that guy."

I mean, for real.  I like my hat and for all the right reasons.

Although I did google "schill" this morning (at least the correct spelling, "shill."


1. an accomplice of a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice or encourage others.

Well, I don't think any of my sponsors would fall under the "hawker, gambler, or swindler" categories, but whatever.  Also, I think I do a fair job letting everyone know my associations... like right over there.

Anyhoo, I talk about things that make my life better (or worse) that have nothing to do with any of my "Dick supporters" listed on my sidebar.  As luck would have it, something I ordered with the hopes that it would change my life showed up Friday on my porch.

The Muc-Off X-3 Dirty Chain Machine.

I love a good chain cleaner.  You can go ahead and electrical tape your old toothbrushes together or buy a Finish Line Grunge Brush (I've broken three of them) or just use some random brush from the hardware store.  Unless you remove your chain and drop it into a ultrasonic cleaner, it's hard to get all the gunk outta the nooks and crannies with just a brush.  The problem with most chain cleaners is that they require some slack in the chain (from the rear derailleur) to route through all the rotating brushes and flaps.  Basically, I've had a hard time finding one that will work on my single speed(s).

I stared long and hard at the Muc-Off X-3 trying to figure out if it would work.  Looked like a straight shot in all the pictures, so I decided to take a chance and buy one.  Spoiler alert.  It works.

That's neat thing #1 about the X-3.  Instead of the chain being dragged through the degreaser/water in the bottom piece, the degreaser is drizzled on when you push the button down to release it.  All the goopy residue ends up in the lower reservoir, and the chain doesn't splash around in its own dirty bath water.
I can't say all was perfect.  The fit was tight with the chainstays and the rotating crank arm.  I had to be careful in the way that I held everything while spinning the crank around, but once I got used to it, buenos.

How did it work?
I'd all but given up on trying to get the gunk off the outside of the inner plates recently.  I've been pretty lax in tending to my Vertigo Meatplow V.7, just adding lube and wiping it down every once in awhile.  For months.  And months.

I've been "busy."

It was getting pretty nasty, but the X-3 pretty much removed everything.

And I didn't even have to use that much degreaser or effort, especially compared to scrubbing with a brush like a maniac.  Another upside is that the unused degreaser is still sitting nice and happy in the upper reservoir for its next use.  Nothing wasted.

Other things of note?  I was washing all my bikes thoroughly yesterday.  I was able to confirm that the X-3 will NOT work on 1/8" chains (like the one on my tarck bike).  It's just too wide.  Fortunately, the PC-1 has fewer nooks and crannies and is pretty open for brush cleaning.  That and I neglect that drive train... like with a sense of purpose.  Working on my work bike on my time sucks.

When I went to clean the JaBronson, I tried sticking my old Finish Line Pro Chain Cleaner (that I'd won at some race years ago) on it.  I quickly found out that SRAM's clutch didn't wanna play nice at all.  I couldn't get enough slack to feed the chain through AND get it locked shut.  I popped the cage into the locked forward position, but then everything (predictably) went to shit.

Enter the X-3 that doesn't require any slack because of the straight path the chain takes through the brushy bits.  It totally worked and was obviously way easier to use, being that there was a ton more clearance under the chain stay for cleaner.

I will go ahead and break this out now...

My Seal of Semi-Approval.

I wish that someone would just make one that fits in the confined space allotted with a single speed drive train.  Mebbe it's just assumed that single speeders are a dirty bunch who don't give shit-all about clean drive trains.  I'd wager tho, that with all the Perrier-sipping athletes that have taken to our sport over the last decade, my anal compulsions regarding a clean chain are not mine alone. 

Make it.  We'll buy it.*

* Or at least we'll send you sponsorship requests so we can "schill" it for you

Friday, March 16

No TSE? Que?

Well, the offical word is out.  The Trans-Sylvania Epic is not happening in 2018.

I may have not finished every single one (it's the only stage race I've quit after being injured), but I've never missed the event from year one.  They're not saying it's over for good, but they are looking for some input from veterans and prospective future racers.  Please fill out this survey and let them know what you'd like to see in a 2019 edition of the race. 

PLEASE DO THAT THING.  It's just seven questions.


I'm currently not registered for any stage races in 2018.  I've not gone an entire year without doing at least one since my first La Ruta in 2004.  Fourteen years of multi-day events and now none.  What's strange is that last year, I didn't do any hundies.  Now no stage races.  What's next?

Am I ded?

Although I did say that I was cutting back on racing for this year, not doing the TSE makes doing the Pisgah Enduro™ much easier.

It's been the weekend after TSE for the last few years, and the one year that I did do it, I felt like I was going to die.   Too much, too soon.  Granted, I also did the Pisgah 111k AND the 55.5k back-to-back the weekend before TSE that year.  It was just too much effort for a man my age who treats himself the way that I do.

Last year, the 111k was just something like four days before the start of the TSE.  I came into the 111k feeling like I was on fire and came into TSE like a smoldering ember.  Going into five days of racing not recovered is a good way to end up riding around with friends and drinking beer at aid stations tho.

Which was pretty much the most fun I've ever had at a stage race... like ever.

So it is with a sad heart that I share this news, but my time off from work just opened up a bit, so mebbe I find something bike-related to do with all this spare time.

Or mebbe I go on a tour of wine country with Bill Nye?

Mebbe.  I hate wine tho.

Thursday, March 15

Muh Woodsen


Leaf Lyfe and I went out last night to ride the entire Tour duh Charlotte route last night.  A semi-straight forward endeavor to knock out before we bring the rest of the team up to speed this weekend, one week out from the event.  We rolled out after work, prepared to be out for a couple hours mebbe... enough time to cover the 20 or so miles already mapped out... I rode it once weeks ago.  The details fuzzy but burned into the back of my brain from staring at google maps and satellite images since December.

Route to stage one... solid.  well, solid'ish.  "Progress" may have "muddied" things a bit.  Viva duh Tour.

Route to stage two.  The stage that I'm supposed to manage.  The one we've spent many a man/woman hour building.  Scabby old trails in a swamp, down sewer lines, mebbe some game trails... random dirt ribbons in the woods.

As soon as we got to the entrance, we noticed some things had changed.  Bad omen type things.

This is what we eventually found:

That used to be a very cool creek crossing that had a sweet rideable rock line, pretty much the only way across that didn't involve a ravine.  We were going to cross it twice.  Now it's a pile of logs and mud built for heavy equipment.

Progress.  The greenways that we hold so dear to our get-around-town hearts have moved forward a few weeks too early.  We knew it was coming... just not so soon.


The dozer tracks run across our route at least five times.  Logs are piled across access roads and trails.  It's like a bully just kicked over our sand castle and took a dump on the lumpy remains... and then shoved our faces in it.

Leaf took it slightly better than I did.  I was pretty much in shock.  I mean, meh.  I've spent countless hours hand-wringing and forehead-cringing, trying to get my head around this stage.  Not to mention all the hours we spent lopping, sawing, digging, blowing and just wandering around trying to connect all the bits.


We've almost always planned out five stages but lost one in the lead up to the race for one reason or another.  It's just that this was the kinda stage the Tour is known for, scabby shit trail that no one has ever seen before and will probably never ride again.

So, yeah.

We still got a great Tour on tap, so no worries.  Lots of goodness to look forward to next weekend.

Leaf and I saw a group of twenty plus deer out there who seemed even more upset about the damage to their woods, so mebbe that puts things into perspective.  I bet the race they're promoting is all screwed up now too.

Monday, March 12

Sumpin to Prove

By Friday night, I'd already had one of those weeks.  Between a cold rainy day at work (just like today, huzzah!), a yearly physical exam (and the nervous moments until getting the lab work results), and general gloom associated with a poor weekend weather forecast, I was ready to sit on the couch, drink beer, and write it all off.

So a few cold ones in and prepared to just sleep in the next day (if not through the entire weekend), I get a text around 9:30PM.  Big 'n Buttery wants to know if I wanna join in on a mountain adventure.   He sent me a screen grab of a STRAVA ride.  I don't recognize much other than the area (Wilson Creek), mileage (30+, enough to justify the time in a car), and the people coming (Emily and TP).

Check the weather for Morganton...

More than a fair chance of wet and cold.

I guess it's better than trying to sleep through the whole weekend.

Up kinda early and wait for my Mountain Uber to arrive.  Jump in, quick stop at QT for 1,000 calories of breakfast burrito, park in a gravel lot where I'd never think of parking, suit up for possible rain and sads, head out and up a long gravel slog.

 Sights along the way...

I don't know what this is.  I don't know what it's supposed to do.  I don't know what I'd do with it.  I still want one (or two).

We finally hit some trail mebbe an hour and a half after we left the car, and I'm somewhere that I've definitely been before but could probably not find on a map.

 Shredding commenced.

Until we hit the happy place that most that have been will recognize.

 A man and his meat.
 photo cred: Big 'n Buttery

Some punch-in-my-dick climbing followed by some "traversing" and then more funs.

Finishing with an unorthodox way to exit the woods because... reasons?

My almost death was enough to make sure I turned around and snapped a picture of someone else's.

No body ded.

Back at the car, decide to not add another loop that woulda pushed into possible darkness.

Eagle, why doth thou forsake me with leafage?

La Salsas for food, so obvs... burrito.   Big 'n Buttery surmises that it's mathematically impossible for me to fit a basket of tortilla chips, six tiny cups of salsa, 32oz of Dos Equis, a Pollo Loco burrito and pile of rice inside my four apple tall person stomach.

If I achieved one thing all day, it was to prove him wrong.

Wednesday, March 7


My "bike room... "

Something I've had in some shape or form since mebbe 1998.  A spot in the garage, an extra bedroom, a random room with no other real purpose, and at our last place, the huge den-like room downstairs in the split level rental house.  It was much bigger than I needed or wanted.  Space that money was spent on to keep it air conditioned/heated for all the hours of the days that I was never in there.

Frustrating for someone like me.  I'm not cheap, but I hate waste.  I will eat hotel hallway food.  Will and have (and will again).

So squashing our lives down from 2,080 sq ft to 1,128 sq ft was one way to achieve our collective goal of living smaller.  We knew it wouldn't be easy, as living larger than we ever planned allowed us to accumulate "stuff."  All kinda "stuff."

The initial plan was to convert our screened-in porch into a bike room by closing it all in and installing a real door.

Photo taken right after we moved in, "stuff" tossed asunder with nowhere else to really go.

There were some delays with moving on the porch project, and I had time to scratch my head (and ass), look at walls and piles of things and measure stuff and surf the internet for solutions.  Somehow, it all came together in my head, and the ten pounds of shit might just fit into the five pound bag after all.

A place to work on my bikes was most important.  I'm tired of all the digging around in bins stored in different rooms (or the shed or the crawlspace/murder room) looking for tools and parts.  I started there first.

There but for the grace of dog, my pegboard fit right here (in the room behind the kitchen).

I realized I don't need speedy access to my threaded headset wrench AND my square taper caged bearing bottom bracket fixed cup wrench.  If I stacked them on one hook and did the same same with other seldom used tools, I could free up a lot of space.

I now have more room than I need, which is pretty sweet.  I'm prepared for when the next standard comes along.

I also added a few pieces of wood from the pallet I saved when they reattached the front of my old tree-hating house to make a light duty shelf where there once was none.

We wanted the home computer out of The Pie's home office so that she could foster puppers and kittehs without the temptation of dangling wires (her office set up is hella tight already).  Also, the ability of a family member to use the home PC without having small animals crawling all over them is buenos.

But where to put it?

I found an IKEA hack site that took the MICKE desk and converted it to an old person-style keyboard tray desk.  I was fortunate that where I hung the Stickel on the Topeak SOLO rack left enough space for the ugly metal shelves that are probably older than me (srsly) and they're just wide enough to accommodate the desk with the monitor squeezing in just below the back tire of the bike hanging overhead.

Seriously, it's all a half inch or so from not working in way too many ways to understand with my thinky part.

Yeth, IKEA may not make the nicest furniture, but it certainly filled a need (and I didn't have to create my own desk-like structure).

Yeth, there is a lot of shit back there behind the bike. 

Shit I don't need all that often.  This is part of living small.  Sometimes you gotta move something to get to something else.  Soooooo inconvenient.  FML.

I'm not a true audiophile, but one nice thing back here is the acoustics.  The bass have never been so well turboded ever before this moment.

Praise be, Demo Jesus.

As far as the screened-in porch, it remains mostly the same.

We can just hang out there, and it now serves as proof that I signed up for many events and at the very least, showed up for packet pickup.  Also that I did better than just okay at a few of them.  I'm super stoked because now that we decided to just use it like a normal porch, I installed a functional screen door handle, so I have sort of a dog-proof airlock to make it easier to get in and out of the house. 

My front porch steps are a bitch compared to just riding the walkway up to the side of my house.

My air compressor now lives in the laundry room that's out our back door.  NBD, and when I fire it up, I annoy my family 50% less.  There might be some spare bike parts out there too.  Also, my used tires are all down in the crawlspace/murder room.

For the most part tho, most of what I need is within arm's reach.  If I wanna work with the stand (something I rarely do), I can grab some tools and head out to the inside outside (AKA the porch).

Tiny living is good living. 

As far as I'm concerned, I'm settled in, and this is how things will be until ded and that's okay.

Tuesday, March 6

Warm but not fuzzy

I signed on to be a GORE Wear ambassador again in 2018. Even if I'm not gonna be much of a racer boi this year, I'm still a daily commuter, weekend warrior... oh, and a dead end job bike messenger.

So anyways, fill in all the wish lists on a spread sheet, cross fingers, wait for a package...

It never showed up.  I got the email that said "if you haven't got it already, you should see it soon."

Soon came and went and then much later happened.  Still nothing.

I reached out.

"Yeah, our tracking says it was delivered days ago."


"No worries.  It happens.  We'll get something else out... soon."

So anyways (#2), I stopped by the old house (where we're still paying rent on, HUZZAH!) to shut the heat off.  I feel pretty comfortable that we're past the freeze warning/pipes bursting season, so it will be nice to save some monies.  Try to open the door, and I'm met with resistance.

A FedEx package was just lying there on the floor.  My shit.  Some prospective renter musta been looking at the place and was kind enough to toss it inside.

I was in a hurry to get to my massage (The Pie's massage she gifted my sorry ass), so I couldn't open it right then.  I got to my appointment, they were running behind, I rifled through it to see what was inside.

Some things I was stoked on (later).  Some things that made me go WTF?  Windstopper booties for road shoes?  Who wears those?

Roadies, I guess.  Loathsome bunch.

I saw a long sleeve base layer in a box, but didn't have time to really inspect it closely.  All I was thinking was, "great, another long sleeve black base layer to add to my always expanding collection."  Once I got home, I got a better look.

It's a s.  I went over to the GORE Wear site looking for it and came up empty, although I saw they do offer GORE WINDSTOPPER base layer in short sleeves and none at all.

My first thought was, "When will I ever wear this?"

As luck would have it, our mountain ride on Sunday was pretty ideal.  We started in the low 40s and say mebbe high 50s around mid-day.  Temps were also determined by which side of the mountain or how far down in the holler next to the creek we were.

It's an odd shirt with practical applications tho.

The chest, arms and kidney area all have a stretchy Windstopper fabric on the outside.

The back is almost mesh-like, a super breathable fabric of some sort.

I rode the first half of the day with a sleeveless wool jersey on top, and was not too hot going all the way up 181 (a ridiculously long paved climb to get to the goods).  Once we dropped in on Raspberry, we were on the cold side of the mountain.  There were still areas of frost on the ground.  More speed and wind and way less sunshine than on the way up here...

And I was still fairly comfortable.  I pitched the wool at some point, then swapped one for the other when it started getting really warm as the sun got high in the sky.

The thing that perplexed me was how I'd have to choose this over a regular Windstopper jacket.  I guess the sweet part is that no matter what, you have the windproof protection where you need it, while still being able to release heat out the back, something that isn't so easy with a jacket.  I usually end up fiddling with my zipper or putting it on/taking it off for climbs and descents. 

So, it's not "just another base layer" after all.  It's kinda cool and definitely adds a little more diversity to my cold weather gear... something I'm getting more and more particular about as I get older and crabbier about riding in "all conditions."

Expect more GORE-related posts in the future until I run out of stuff (but not roadie booties).

Monday, March 5

Shreddy Bits

Another weekend that went as (haphazardly) planned?

I got up pretty early and went to the local hardware store to pick up a couple things I needed to finish up all the tiny man spaces.  Somehow, I managed to install all the purchases made before noon... and without cracking a beer... and only drawing blood once.

Then it was out the door for a solo mission to try to find a way around this:

This giant mud hole (which 60% of is out of the frame to the right) stood between me and my hopes of increasing the distance of the swamp stage of the Tour duh Charlotte '18 by almost 25%.  I headed out there with loppers and a bow saw and mebbe succeeded?  Kinda hard to tell, because unless we get a weed wacker out there, it might be a bit vague.

Yeah, yeah... "use course tape," you say.

I'm already gonna need about a million feet of it, so it's coming down to time constraints before the race to get it all taped off before everyone gets there, but not doing it so early that the kids out there smoking weeds have a chance to mess with it.

When I got done, my hands, arms, and shoulder were quite toasted.  The Pie had offered me her evening massage appointment, and I took it.  Not sure how better I felt post-massage, but for an hour, I was buenos.

Up the next morning, and somehow out the door on time headed to Wilson Creek with Daily, Bill Nye and Wirun.

Conditions were, dare I say, "perfect?"

It was even pleasant enough that I didn't mind bare-footing the two mandatory creek crossings.

Also, I had time to do some gratuitous wheelie selfies at the top of the climb outta Greentown (at the meating log) for something I'm writing tomorrow.

I will say the ride was a bit of a slap in the face for most of us.  Fitness levels were pretty low all around.  Beware the ides of March and all that.

One month out from the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek.  Two months out from PMBAR.

I gotta get some legs under me here real soon.