Pages

Friday, January 30

Mendzors

I stopped taking the heavy hitting pain killers Tuesday afternoon.  I had two reasons:

1. I wanted to see how I was actually doing.  I had been feeling much better way faster than I would've imagined possible.

2. I wanted to poop sometime this week.  I'm starting to feel like a piñata desperately seeking the relieving company of a baseball bat.

The good news is number two is now number two'ing.  The bad news is that number one is not so good.  Wednesday morning, I was back to having trouble putting on my socks.

I am not excite.  Lots of free time to make more t-shirts (that will never get actually made).

The ROS9 with a Thomson drooper has been a life saver at work. 

I've been doing the Harley Shuffle up to stop lights and parking spots to reduce the amount that I have to move when dismounting/remounting the bike.  I feel like a dork... pretty sure I look like one too.  The downside of riding the ROS9 being that I acknowledge on some level that I'm riding a "fun" bike.  The temptation to do something stupid sometimes supersedes my knowledge that I'm broken.  I don't remember that until I'm halfway done with my ill-advised maneuver...

My movements are limited in a strange manner.  It's like tying one end of a rope to a tree, the other to a bicycle innertube.  Then I put the innertube around my midsection.  Now I run.  The interesting part is that it's as if someone changes the length of the rope without my knowledge.  I never know how far I can push things (doing things like sock removal, unloading the dryer, getting out of bed, jumping off a curb...) until the innertube snaps me back into reality. 

Of course, there's going to be great weather for a bike ride in Charlotte this weekend.  I've yet to figure out what to do about that.  Thinking I'll ride the borrowed JET9 RDO over to the short track race on Sunday, because nothing makes great road ride like full suspension, high zoot crabon bicycle. 

I always have this option which found its way into my life:

The Pie was having hip issues with her running.  I told her not to push it.  She did as I do and not as I say, naturally making her situation worse.  Desperate for a way to get her cardio fix in without hobbling herself, I borrowed a trainer from a friend at work.  She's been hitting it way harder than I woulda ever imagined, so I'm entirely happy about that. 

Strange to have a trainer device in the house.  I borrowed one back in 2009 when The Pie went to volunteer in Haiti and I didn't wanna miss fourteen days of bonus saddle time in March.  I'm finding myself somewhat tempted to put my butt on this torture machine, even if just to burn off those cookies that fell in my mouth earlier this week.

Does thumb-twiddling burn calories?

Desperate times meet desperate measures.

Thursday, January 29

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Thirteen

From the "do as I say, not as I usually do" category...

I kinda glazed over mentioning this thing Tuesday:


The first time I saw one, I had no idea what it was.  I was staying at Carp's house for the Tour de Burg... musta been at least five years ago.  Looked like some kinda clothes hanger to me.  I saw it move around the room as if it were being used or getting in someone's way. 

And then I saw someone using it.

BTW:  The manual slays me.  I can't handle this.

Alright, getting past that...

Of course, when you see someone using such a thing, you think "lemme me try that." 

It was incredible.  The leverage I could get on points of my body without resorting to rolling around on the floor with a tennis ball was mind-blowing.

The Thera Cane I borrowed belonged Buck Keich, 2005 Single Speed World Champion and the best massage therapist I've ever shared a "flip and sip" moment with.

He highly recommended buying one, I listened... and then I forgot all about it.  Par for the course.

So fast forward, years later, and I've got these nagging back issues with some real pin-pointed pain between my shoulders.  The massage therapist pulling me apart suggests that I get a Thera Cane...

"Hey, I think I know what you're talking about."

So, being desperate to get past this whole back issue and not wanting to disappoint the massage therapist with my obvious lack of follow-thru (like last time) while also wasting the money invested in the massage to begin with, I ordered one.

OMG.  Where have you been all my life?

I've rolled on foam rollers and tennis balls.  I've used heating pads and ice packs.  I've played with people's  (The) Stick(s)®.  Nothing, and I mean nothing has been quite the pleasant surprise that the Thera Cane has been. 

One of my biggest issue with riding a rigid single speed (esp at a stage race) is the knots on my back, similar to what I've been experiencing recently.  This thing digs into them like nobody's business.  Sure, it requires more effort than lying face down on a massage table.  Still, I can comfortably sit on the couch and watch Jerry Springer while really working those painy parts (trigger points) with minimal effort due to the increased leverage the Thera Cane offers.

Check out the manual when you get a chance (ignore the awful drawings).  This thing has more uses than a toaster oven, but is as equally disappointing as a microwave when it comes to properly reheating pizza.

It's the best $35 I've ever spent to take care of myself, which is kind of a theme I've got going for 2015.  I'm not gonna get carried away (actually, I might have), but instead of pissing money away on a bike that I'm going to hate three months from now, I'm going to see if I can put it to some better use.

My well being.  Maybe it's time.

Tuesday, January 27

Putting the "I" in ibuprofen

All I can say is, thank you, narcotics.  I know they're supposed to be thrown away as opposed to saved for someone other than whom they are prescribed to... but whatever.  I try to not take ibuprofen, mostly because any pain that it can knock out, I'd rather just deal with on my own.  Any pain too great for ibuprofen?  Yeah... gimme ALL the things.

So no need to go to an urgent care, pay a co-pay, be told that there's nothing they can do except medicate.  No thanks.  Doing that already.  I can tell the pills are doing the job, as I got through yesterday without feeling too bad, but when I woke up this morning with an empty tank? 

Added bonus.  I'm waking up every twenty to thirty minutes, looking at the clock, and then falling back to sleep.

It was nice to be able to go to work.  My paid time off is for fun, not for sickness or injuries (IMHOMO)  Thanks to the droopy/shifty ROS 9 that Niner Mike loaned me, I'm rolling around relatively pain free.  Relatively.  The drooper makes getting on and off so much easier.  I'm now remembering why it's a good idea to keep a geared bike handy, and maybe I shouldn't have sold the hoopty DeBernardi.  Oh well.

Was so looking forward to getting over my back pain, but the two implements I purchased to work on my back at home aren't so handy when I can't use them. 

Massage therapist-approved self-flagellation devices

And the follow-up massage The Pie has scheduled for me this weekend?  I don't know if I want anyone touching me right now.

Perfect timing or shitty depending on how you look at it.  On one hand, I've got nothing going on, and I need to be taking it easy anyways if I want my back to get better.  On the other hand, I'm going to be bored and feel sads.  Beer and food makes boreds and sads go away.   

Also pretty bummed to not have a decent Icycle.  I think the last one that worked out for me on some level was almost a decade ago.  A DECADE.  That's a mighty long time. 

Whine.  Bitch.  Moan.

Glad to get that out of my system.  At least having a nice hole to dig out of means that at some point things will be better than they are now, so I got that going for me... which is nice.



Monday, January 26

Another Icycle, another weekend of tempting fate

I'm not sure how many of my Icycle related goals I did not attain, but I'm pretty sure it was close to most.

We ended up staying awake later than planned Friday night, because we were waiting on others that were coming in much later than they planned... and since there is no cellphone or internet coverage there, we stayed up way too late.  Doing the only thing there is to do.  Drink.  For me, twice as much as planned.  So much for plans and goals.

Woke up bleary-eyed hearing one of the women folk saying, "Look outside!  It's so beautiful."

Fuck.  It snowed.

That's just great.  Sift through the clothing options.  Put Icy Hot on my back.  Watch the sport/beginner/big bike/fat bike... all the other classes that were not single speed and expert take off.  Head back to the cabin for more clothes sorting.

 Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever had decided to up the single speeders to the expert level of laps, three as opposed to two.  Something about if you're riding a single speed out there, you must be an expert anyways.  I was expecting an hour and half of racing under decent conditions.  I only had one water bottle and no race food.  The expired emergency gels in my car were two years out of date.  No bueno.  With the snow and mud, it was going to be well over two hours in the woods.  Meh.

photo cred: Joel Watson
Reluctantly placing my bike next to the keg (bottle refill station) for the lemans start.

Our race starts.  It's maybe 33.5° outside.  I half-assedly jog to my bike and head out in the melee.


Energy sapping peanut butter mud.  Punchy climbs.  I can see the SS leaders ahead... for awhile.  And then not.  My lower back tells me that it's not really pleased with the whole "pushing a 32X19 through the marshmallow fluff mud."   I start getting concerned about the idea of making my back worse...

I've recently been spending a certain amount of money and time trying to make my back better.  I've also been lecturing The Pie about pushing her body too hard with an injury and how it just sets her back in her recovery from a hip issue.  I decide to listen to my own lectures (for a change).

photo cred: Kate Fulbright
What time I did spend out there looking around was visually stunning.

I decide to bail, but only after I hit the final descent down the Turkey Chute, so I could get a little preview of the conditions of the night downhill course.  I went down the Turkey Chute, through the parking lot, down the stairs and to the keg.  Pour out my race beverage, replace it with Dale's, hang out at the timing tent.  The first to bail after one lap but not the last.  I watch the race for awhile, hang with the people that bail after their second lap, and watch Nick "Dip & Spray" Barlow come in for the single speed win.

photo cred: Kürdt Rampton
Back to the cabin, suit up for the downhill race, and head down to catch the first shuttle.

I HAD A PLAN.

Most of the descent was a hot mess.  I decided that the safest/smartest thing to do would be:

One run, sorta slow to look at the lines.

A second run at a higher rate of speed to confirm my choices.

The mandatory (Eric makes you do it) practice run after dark to be sure your lights work.

One race run, all out.

Anything else was not worth the risk.  It was slick as snot and just not worth the added exposure.

But I was just feeling so good...

I came off my second run and the shuttle was waiting at the bottom.  How could I not get on?  I felt like I railed the last run and really wanted to just keep going... so I did.

 photo cred: Icon Media Asheville
The third and oh-so not a good idea shuttle trip.

On the way up, I looked down at my tires.  Caked-over.  Bagels.  Donuts.  No tread to be seen.  A smarter man woulda realized that the super sticky mud at the bottom of the run was not clearing out of my tires.  A smarter man would clean his tires over at the bike wash station before an all-out run.  I am not a smart man.

I went down full-tilt boogie style.  I was feeling good... until I pushed the tires pretty hard in a corner and started to slide sideways.  And then I was in the air.

I came down hard on my back and tumbled.  Couldn't breath.  Looked back up the trail and saw the loaf of bread sized rock I came down on.  I pulled myself and the bike off the trail and sat there.  I waited for the tightness to go away, felt around for bad things sticking out, determined that I just fucked myself real good, and slowly got myself to the bottom.

Hosed off my bike and walked it back up to the cabin.  Game over.  I've been here before.  Blunt force trauma that leads to swelling of the intercostal spaces (the muscles between the ribs).  This time though, the affected area wraps around from back to front on my left side.  Brilliant.

Back at the cabin, grunt, groan, wince, struggle to take off clothes, take shower, get dressed... at least I'll only be doing this for two to four weeks.

Grab a bunch of beer and head down to watch everyone else have fun.  Dip & Spray was kind enough to escort me the rest of the evening, dragging me up hills and controlling my descents.  My hero.

Another Icycle that didn't go quite the way I planned it in my head.  Still such an amazing event.  People standing around in the woods, at night, snow and mud, fireworks, stumbling drunks on a muddy hillside.

"I'm all tire and no truck."

Always such a surreal experience.  I mean, Neko Mulally won the expert race... yeah, that Neko Mulally that killed it with a chainless run at the DH World Championships last year.  The uniqueness and history of this event with just a "so-so course" still becomes the thing of legends and fairy tales almost every year.  I may not always come back with the hardware (it's been years), but I always come back with plenty of stories... and various injuries.

There weren't any ditch fights though.  We'll have to work on that next year.


photo cred: Paul Cunningham

Friday, January 23

Putting the "I" in Icycle

In the poetic words of Deb Morgan, shit a brick and fuck me with it.

After a week that started with two mountain bike rides sans sleeves, the weather is going to the bad... just in time for The Icycle.

Some would say that's just classic Icycle weather.  I would like to punch those some in the dick.

Others might mention that this weather is nothing compared to (insert name of a state that I would never consider living in) right now.  I would like to give them the same treatment.

We're going to be enjoying some sloppy conditions.  No way around it.  I sit here looking at the piles of clothes and gear I have assembled on the bike room floor, and I see a future of intense clean up. 

All for what will amount to about 15-16 miles of actual racing, lotsa standing around outside holding a beer, and less than 48 total hours time away from Charlotte.

Goals:

Stay away from the bad place Friday night.  I want to at least feel semi-human for the XC race start on Saturday.

Stay away from the bad place after the XC race.  I want to be sober enough to make a few practice runs on the DH course before it gets dark AND actually make my start time as opposed to throwing in the towel long before darkness settles in.  Not buying Mad Dog at a convenience store on the way to Fontana Village will go a long ways in the achievement of that goal.

And that's all I got.  That and to not over eat, wrestle anyone without their permission, worsen my back issues, or lose my keys or phone (I've lost my keys twice, my phone once).

It feels good to have goals in life.

Thursday, January 22

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Twelve

One from the "Why doesn't everybody know about this already?" category.

I really do love my Race Face Next SL cranks.   I had vowed some time ago that I would never own a set of crabon cranks ever again after a bad experience I had... about a decade ago?

Has it been that long?

I can't exactly remember.  Looking through some old emails, I had my FSA crabon cranks on my Dean single speed back in 2005.  I replaced them because I had removed a few layers of crabon from both cranks from heel rub.  I wish I had a picture of it somewhere... but those were the pre-blog years.  It looked like a topo map the way I was slicing down into the crankarms.

I did what I could to stop it.  I tried all manner of adhesive tape that I could find and eventually started stretching pieces of a road bike innertube over them.  It was a painful process, and one I had to repeat every few months as I was wearing giant holes through the thin butyl rubber.  I eventually sold the cranks and decided this was not a place for crabon on my bike.

Fast forward to 2014 and Sean at Vertigo is designing my new ti frame with the Race Face NEXT SL crank specifically in mind... because I asked for it.  Larger 30mm spindle, threaded BB option, easy bearing preload AND and a spiderless chainring?  I gave up my earlier convictions and went back on my word to myself.

Such a thing of beauty... but I had I known that Race Face was going to introduce the aluminum Cinch crank with all the same desirable features a few months later?

Who am I kidding?  I woulda never waited that long to build my bike.

The NEXT SL cranks came stock with a clear vinyl decal to protect the outer surface of the cranks.  They looked like ass within a few months.  I kept thinking about contacting Race Face for replacements, but it just wasn't high on my list of priorities. 

I did know about Crankskins already.. like a million years ago.  Ernesto had given me a couple samples, and I remembered that they were one size fits all back then.

All my cranks at the time were Race Face Turbines with a sorta I-beam structure, and no amount of messing around with the Crankskins could get them to stick in a beneficial manner.

So imagine my surprise (it wasn't Pearl Harbor level surprise, but close to finding a $20 in the street level) when I checked out Crankskins website now and see that they have a bunch of different options and custom shapes for different cranks.  Not only that, but they have kits for crabon frame protection (no, I don't haz a crabon frame right now).

I realize that I could just buy helicopter tape off eBay.  I did it back when I had my crabon Tallboy (R.I.P.).  It was a pain in the ass cutting pretty rounded corners and wasn't a whole lot cheaper than the Crankskins frame kit.   The difficulty of cutting the tape into crank shapes when less than $15 got me three pairs of Crankskins?  My time and saved frustration is worth twice that much.

The old, offensive protective vinyl:

Best removed while heating it with a hair dryer and then using alcohol (not the kind shown) to clean up the surface before putting on the new...

which has better wrap-around coverage than the original.  I know you can't see it... that's the point.  Handy tip from the Crankskins installation videos; use a hair dryer (I'm lucky I live with women who own such a thing) to smooth out the edges as it wraps around the crank.

Tip from me?  Make sure you really clean that crank.  They make installation look easy on the video, but it took me a couple (light touch) tries to get the decal lined up perfectly.  Each dab was another chance for dirt, grit and dog hair to get between me and my business.  One beer before to settle the hand but no more than two which might affect judgment and coordination.

Protect your shit.  It's too cheap and too expensive not to.

Tuesday, January 20

I heard two teams are going to the Super Bowl this year

Back pain, chance of rain, threat of Bane...

Nothing stopped me from getting the rides in that I wanted... as I so loosely planned them late last week.  Icycle shakedown ride on the Vertigo.  Everything seemed top notch and ready to go.  New chain on my most-used cog of 2014 (19T) making a little crunchy noise, but I can deal with it.  Finally even threw down my $40 for a parking pass at the US National Whitewater Center...

which means I now have to go seven more times (by car) to break even.  Shouldn't be too hard this year, so much trail up there now with the prospect of even more being built soon (without volunteer labor, I might add), so yeah.  My go-to local playground in 2015, especially considering that the nearby Backyard Trails should be under temporary destruction some time soon.

Monday drooper testing and geared bicycle riding in the mountains.  It's been two years since I've ridden gears in Pisgah (hated it then).  As winter always tends to bring out never seen before assemblages of persons, Monday it was Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever, April, and Todd.

photo cred: Eric
Todd 

photo cred: Eric
April

Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever

Gears... strange beastly implements.

 photo cred: Eric
Combined with the slower-than-the-Industry-Nines-that-I'm-used-to engagement, I was a mess.  More than once I shifted my drooper and drooped my rear derailleur.  Wrong gear most of the time combined with a false start on a slow-reacting free hub meant that I found myself in a pickle quite often.  Like going from Atari 2600 on a rear projection screen straight to Super Nintendo on a 13" black and white... too many buttons VS some well-developed muscle memory and a warped sense of what's just right.

Also, the whole one water bottle thing left me a jersey pocket shy of being able to carry everything, so I had to break out the Titan Tank to make room for ALL THE THINGS.

If you know me, I don't like extraneous things on my bike, but I had to do what I had to do... and secondly, not my bike anyways.

Full zip-tie routing of the drooper.  Once again, not my bike.

There were some upsides.  I haven't ridden up Daniel's Ridge from the Cove Creek connector to Farlow in years (a decade?).  I have walked it many times alongside my single speed, but without gears?  Dunno if it could be done.  That was neat.

Gears don't mean that I'm gonna ride skinny log bridges with a precipitous entrance and the end of a steep descent though.

photo Cred: Eric
Gears don't make the (super) man.

An incredible ride with friends spanning a few different parts and periods of my life.  Coming down Butter, I told Eric I had sads, as this was one of those rides that I didn't want to ever end.  January, dry trails, primo conditions, sleeveless jersey weather...

A good day to be alive and in the woods, despite coming home to sit on the couch with an icepack the rest of the night.