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Friday, November 21

Hangover Meds

Big weekend starts tonight.

The fun begins at 6:00PM with the Three Year Anniversary and "Shop-Warming" Party at The Spoke Easy.

New location closer to my house which means life got more betterer without me having to do anything... which is how I like it.  Saturday will be devoted to recovering from said event (with leaf removal activities) and hopefully getting ready for the Queen City Cyclo Ross race in right here in Charlotte.

I've been studying the course map...

And I think I will make my move at the head of the Zombie Snoopy section.

That is assuming I actually race.  My back is still not 100% and the idea of going full throttle'esque for 30-45 minutes whilst leaping and bounding?  Questionable.  I have until 8:00PM Saturday night to make the decision.  Regardless of my participation, I'm still going to attend, drink shitty beer, and cheer people as they plunge into the sandpit at full speed and then feel sorta awkward when they get really injured and need to go to the hospital.

The folks at Carborocket (hard for me to not type "Craborocket")...


wanted me to have the best chance at success this weekend.

Rehab... "Brkfst-on-go" or "the best tasting, fastest working recovery drink on the planet," and Rocketlytes... "Hangover Meds" or "a unique formulation of cramp killing electrolytes and stomach soothing peppermint and ginger."

I'm a firm believer that the best recovery food is a burrito, a novelty-sized 32oz Dos Equis, and four baskets of tortilla chips, but sometimes that may not be convenient.  The next best thing is a recovery drink since all you need is a packet of powder, some water and a vessel in which to mix it all up.  When I actually care about not feeling like shit, it's the way to go.

As far as electrolyte capsules go, I've always been one to take them after hard efforts when I feel like I mighta missed the mark with my electrolytes during the event... or when I went a little too hard in the paint the night before and still have to race again the next day (see Trans-Sylvania Epic 2010-2014).

So yeah, essentially hangover meds.

Crabo... I mean Carborocket feels so good about my chances this weekend that they even sent a top level douchedom podium hat for my upcoming 40+ Cat 4/5 glory moment.

That's me, under the giant softball hat.  I was told the value goes down if I take off the sticker.

Who am I kidding?  If I go, I'll have to race single speed, lest Dahn Pahrs makes me feel bad no matter the outcome.  I'm either the guy who beat a bunch of 40+ Cat 5 ability racers or the guy who got beat by them.  At least if I race single speed, I'll get to say hello to my life coach, Wes Richards, every time he laps me.

As Matt McFee recently reminded me, it's not that I want to win, it's just that I don't want to see anyone do better than me.

Most people. Not all... but definitely most

Thursday, November 20

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Four

Four weeks into Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays). I should be getting a paycheck soon.

This one falls under the "do as I say and do but didn't do at one point until it was too late and now I suffer the consequences" category.

If I could travel back in time and tell my younger self two things, but only two things...

1. Take care of your teeth.  They will cost you money, time, pain and all the things I generally hate dealing with.  Floss, brush, rinse... a few minutes in the bathroom VS losing time in the form of dentist appointments and wasted time at work earning money to pay for you teeth that could be better spent on bikes.  Are you hearing me, young Dick?  Don't just go from the bar to Taco Bell to bed.  Take the extra steps necessary to enjoy good dental health for many years to come.

2. Cover your knees.  Not in general, as I wear shorts year round for casual purposes, but when riding a bike at temps @ 50°.  I realize this is colder than the experts recommend, but this is non-expert, time-traveling me trying to convince an idiotic younger me that I came back from the future and the only advice I have is about teeth and knees.

I used to never cover my knees.  Sometime way back in college, I took to wearing shorts all year round, despite living/bike commuting in Youngstown, OH.  When I joined the cycling team during my (second) senior year, I remember being told that the coach would be pissed if he saw me riding around in 20°+ weather with my knees as bare and exposed as a leaked celebrity selfie... of course he wouldn't come up with such an analogy back in 1991.

Fast forward five years, and I was still doing it.  In 1996, I started working as a messenger in Charlotte.  Hardly anywhere near as brutal as Ohio... just a lot more exposure as far as time in the saddle every day goes.  When Big Worm started working the scene in 1998, he also used his "Northern blood" to stay warm.  Thus began the "Who can wear SPD sandals the deepest into winter?" and the "Why are my heels cracking and bleeding?" days.

Back in 2004, I had taken to single speed mountain biking full-time.  All the geared mountain bikes were gone, and I was fully committed.  This is also when I decided to do my first SS endurance race, actually "train" for it by upping my morning mileage, and I took the brake off my fixed gear IN THE SAME MONTH.

And then my right knee started to hurt.  Of course I ignored it.  These things take care of themselves if you can ignore them long enough.

I don't remember how long I did nothing about my problem... but when my left knee decided to join in, I finally figured out it was time to start covering my knees.

And when I did, I noticed the difference... and when I forgot, I paid for it.

Sixty degrees may seem on the warm side for covering one's knees. I hate that I have to, but perhaps if I had covered them when I was younger... ummmmm... you know, when it was 25° outside, maybe I could pull it off.

But I can't now.

I regret not taking better care of my knees, but I think I've suffered enough in the past to finally let it sink ALL THE WAY in.  Too many days wearing a knee warmer around the house, stiff knees in movie theaters, race-ruining moments, popping ibuprofen... so many good times.

My parameters for knee covering should probably not be the same as yours.  Since my right knee is more sensitive, I'll cover it below 65° if I think the temps will stay there, below 60° if I think there's a chance it might warm up.  I'll cover both if it's below 60° and not looking like it will improve.  Something like that.  Like this blog, I kinda make things up as I go along.

So there you have it.  Knee warmers can save you a lot of pain and suffering in the long run, so do yourself a favor and...

1. Buy them.

2.  Wear them.

3. ... and floss and brush and rinse.

Monday, November 17

L with extra good BS

The SORBA/IMBA board meeting was in Charlotte this weekend.  Whilst I'm still not responsible or mature enough to be a part of a "board" or a "committee," I still headed out to the Backyard Trails to take part in the group ride and sorta guide out-of-towners, along with several others and a few Faster Mustache teammates.













I spent a decent part of the day cutting through the woods, trying to get photos while not getting poison ivy, and occasionally warning the riders in our "medium fast" group of upcoming perils and optional ride-arounds.  It was interesting to see large groups of people getting their first look at our little gem nestled in and amongst the neighborhoods and the sewage treatment facility.  Good times.

After the ride, I was headed back to Bike Source with The Gentle Ginger.  Not only were there some parts and things for me to pick up, there was word of possible beers.  Snag my new King cages, pick out a new commuter light (time to see and be seen for a change), head to the back for beerage.

The King cages are just part of a much bigger overhaul on the Vertigo.

Anyways, it was apparent that the Bike Source employees do not waste the close access to Total Wine across the street.  Yummy growlers were shared and closing time quickly came.  Before they had a chance to lock the doors though, an out-of-towner from the SORBA meeting had walked in at the last minute with a broken spoke... and a desire to fit in one more ride the next day in Charlotte before heading home... and beer.

And that's when we all stood around and watched The Gentle Ginger do his magic.  What looked like a quick fix (spoke swap) then required a nipple replacement... which meant pulling the Stan's tape back.  Then it was "Hey, this other spoke looks... not so good."

Two spokes, tape back in place, dump in some Stan's, remount the tire, replace the cassette... and this dirty drivetrain needs some love while we're here...

And the guy was one happy camper (maybe, he might have been staying in a hotel) rolling out the door some minutes later.

I like Bike Source.  I used to kind of think of them as the corporate shop in town with no personality (before Performance Bike opened a location in Charlotte and snagged the title).  Although they are part of a four store chain, they are anything but corporate.  Sure the shop is huge, but it's full of knowledgeable employees who ride and live bikes.  I had just about given up on finding a shop to call mine own after Bicycles South closed so many years ago.  I was destined to live the life of the bike shop nomad, frequenting all the quality shops that are within ten miles of my house (there's close to ten of them).  Fortunately, I fell in with a good group of people and now have a LBS once again.

Beers drank.  Rode home with the new commuter light.

Hey, look.  I can see where I'm going. 

Life is good.

Friday, November 14

Wazbinupwidat?

This has been making the rounds for some time, but the other day I saw it and took some action:

This is the type of humor that Josh the Wonderboy would really enjoy (if he would ever join the internet).  He's always been one to draw dicks on the Charlotte Observer and leave them where he found them (in Starbucks, next to peoples' erroneously overestimated supply of napkins).  So knowing his comedic flavor preferences, I sent the image to him in a text earlier this week.  He never responded.

I saw him the other day... our occasional 1:00PM sit down on a bench outside of the tallest building between Atlanta and New York City.  I asked him why he never replied to my text.

"What text?"

"The Kenny Loggins Jesus picture."

"Yeah, what about it?  I made that years ago."

"Que?"

So the story goes that Josh found the religious handout folded up and stuck in his door.  He put his creative brain to work and left it somewhere.  Jason B witnessed the entire thing and has corroborated this story.  From there, someone found it where Josh left it, took a picture, posted it to the internet...

and magic took over.  Years after the doing of the deed, do a Google image search for Kenny Loggins Jesus and this happens:

It went everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  Josh created a Wondertürd without even knowing it.

"I wished I woulda put in a better effort." 

And that's how it goes.  Everyone can take a shit everyday, but rarely does one take a shit that the whole world notices.

Thusly, that's what's behind the silence earlier this week, and more than likely, in the weeks that come.  I'm bored and not going to bother shitting here everyday.  When I have a shit worth looking at, I'll leave the door open.  If not, my shit will remain private.  I will be enjoying the down time (sleeping) and accomplishing nothing (seriously).

This whole thing started with a slump on Sunday.  My back was hurting (again) and I found myself stuck to the couch on a beautiful 60°+ sunny day... watching Christmas decorations go up, and I didn't even have the energy to make snide remarks.  I coulda rode my bike.  The Pie even told me to go, but I was just not feeling it, and not feeling it made it all the worse knowing for sure that "it" should have been felt.  I slumped until Tuesday, forced myself to prepare for a night ride (something I do probably once a year), rode with Zac and Kürdt at the Whitewater Center that night, and life felt better (except my back still hurt).

This back pain is a drag, threatening my burgeoning cycle bike cross career.  The biggest events in the world (that cyclingnews.com won't cover) are looming on the horizon.  Back to back weeks of...



If I don't get better soon, I'm gonna miss my chance to get those UCI points I need to get a front row start at Worlds (assuming I read the rules correctly).

Thursday, November 13

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Three

This is only really going to be useful information to single speeders, and amongst them, probably only the really cheap ones.

I ran nickel coated PC-1 chains religiously from 2003 until about 2013.  Cheap, reliable... silver.  In all those years of use, I never broke one while mountain biking, aside from busting a roller clean off at the 2006 Trans Rockies.  Don't know what a roller is?  See below:

Something like $10 at retail, I never felt bad about chucking them when they were worn, but that was the tricky part.  They wore out fast... faster than I could remember to swap to a new one.  A worn out chain causes worn out cogs and rings, making my love for cheap chains quite expensive at times.

In 2013, I swapped to 10 speed chains based mostly on weight savings (close to 100 grams lighter), but found they were a little tight on my Endless Cogs.  They had to "wear in" to the sides of the cogs... annoying at first, like a glove after a few rides.

Early November 2013, I bought an ugly SRAM PC 951 for the DickStickel.

Ugly and cheap, but good enough to get me through the winter...

Or so I thought.

It's only worn to the .25+ mark in the last twelve months.  Sure, I split my ride time between two bikes, but my Vertigo (my main bike) has had a higher end KMC X9SL chain on it since March...

and it's only worn to the .75 mark (basically ready for replacement very soon).

The good news is that although I spent more on these chains than I woulda on multiple PC1 chains, I haven't really needed to keep a close eye on wear.  Because of that, my cogs and rings are still in incredible shape.  I should also mention that I have never dropped a ten or nine speed chain since I started using them... although I've been on narrow/wide rings for the past year as well.  So nice to not drop a chain on a single speed.  It shouldn't happen, but when it does... every single speeder becomes an Angry Singlespeeder™.

I know some of you are thinking, "Your dum."  (I'd like to think they're thinking grammatically incorrect with spelling errors)

Less dumb and more cheap (where I can be) and set in my ways.  Sure, it took me awhile to catch on, but I learned a "thing" and maybe someone out there as their head buried in the sand equally as well.

Of course, as much as I love Shimano things (pedals and brakes), I couldn't go with their chains.  I just can't get over the whole "connector pin" thing.  Just seems like they would get with the times and use a quick/master link.  I know you can use a non-Shimano link on a Shimano chain, but it's a principle thing.  Reminds me of when headsets were all going threadless and Shimano continued to make threaded headsets until they just died altogether.  No more XTR headsets.

But as a sign of my love for Shimano, I finally made a decision on flat pedals.

Saints.  Because...

1. They are Shimano.

2. All my other bikes have Shimano pedals.

3. The pins come with spacers under them to make them a little less deathy, and since I bought these mostly for two reasons (wheelie practice and chutting about town on my chutter bike), I'm not needing a whole lotta pins sticking out and threatening my shins.

4. They were in stock at my local bike shop when I walked in Monday night.

Anyways, if you're being cheap with your chains, stop it... and pay absolutely no attention to what I'm running on my tarck bike, as logic and reason do not apply to The Fastest Bike in the World.

Friday, November 7

Hangovers for Days

Pleased to say that I know how the 2015 "season" will start.

Yes, everyone's favorite stumble around in the freezing cold January darkness event is back.  There are much many important things to say right now.

Firstly, the announcement of this race so early is almost unprecedented.  For the uninitiated, there's usually a whole lotta "is this gonna happen this year or not?" going on in January.  I went to my first one back in 1999 (I think, mebbe 2000... when was Mountain Cycles making the MoHo?), and every year since, it seems like it's not gonna happen and then it does.  There's a reason for this noted improvement.

Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever has taken this event under the wings of Pisgah Productions, makers of much pain and good times in the Pisgah National Forest.  This means a downhill race with accurate timing (no more stopwatches and pencils).  No more bickering and arguing about tenths of a second.  Pro level promotion and stuff.  Not that the previous people in charge did a terrible job... it's an affordable grassroots event with an affordable grassroots feel, and it will stay that way.  The grass and its roots will just be greener now.

And for those of you that have been disappoint with the fact that over the last few years there's only been short XC loops (@3 miles) on Fontana Village property? 

The applications are in with the proper authorities, and so we should see a return of the gnarly XC loop from the days of yore.  Mebbe some Lewellyn Cove, a taste of First Blood, a little Elmer Hollow.  Ahhhh.. like the good ole days without all the V-brakes and 26" wheels.  Unless you do the Vintage Bike category... which will probably be a thing.

And lodgings?   Confirmed 25% off cabins and $69 a night for lodge rooms, January 23-25th.  Grab your beds now, as this will probably be the biggest Icycle in the history of Icycles.

I haven't been to the Icycle since 2012.

I was sick before I got there, immediately started in on the festivating, woke up on the couch with no idea where my keys or new iPhone might have been lost/dropped/hidden/turned into a newt (my phone was in Kürdt's pocket), raced the XC...

ended up on my ass, drank beer, made a few downhill practice runs in the daytime, had a miserable, near-death experience race run, drank some more, spent the night on the laundry room floor of the cabin hacking up a lung all night.

That experience was enough to keep me away for the next two years.  I'd already been thinking about returning in 2015, what with the recent acquisition of a light that's not three generations behind current technology and a plan to set my keys and phone in a safe spot immediately as soon as I get there (there's no cell signal and nowhere to drive to anyways).  Now with Eric (and let's face it, Erinna too) taking over?  No brainer.  In.

I'll have no goals or real ambitions... other than staying sober enough between events to actually compete in the night downhill (as opposed to drinking Mad Dog and Chimay after getting lost on the XC course and quitting, challenging people to wrestle...

and breaking a rib doing something I don't remember).  The XC race does have a "worst 90s jersey theme," and I'm a bit bummed now that I gave up my 3/4 zip (SRSLY?) Specialized jersey I wore at the 2001 Icycle.

 
Albeit it was under many layers anyways.

Also the year I won the Sport class DH on my Bullit, drank Mad Dog and did assorted bad things to my body, slept on the floor, woke up the next day, won the sport class XC race and caught the two experts that started minutes ahead of me...

Less a reflection of my skills and power and more about how few people use to come to the Icycle "back in the day."

This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you... unless you go... which you should... because... January should hurt.  Hurt equals training equals winning... later.

Thursday, November 6

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Two

Week two already of  Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays)?  Maybe I'll make it to three...

Anyways.

Setting up tires tubeless.  I've had to resort to every trick in the book over my fourteen years of piddling with it.  My first tubeless experience was back in 2001, when on the Friday night before Memorial Day weekend, I had THE STAN KOZIATEK standing in my garage covered in his own juice... both of our ears ringing, wrangling with a Continental Survivor Pro and a Sun DS1 rim. 

Oh, those were the days.  I often wonder if Stan remembers.  He wasn't THE Stan yet, and I was still not THE Dick even.  If I were to ever fall in love with an older man... it would probably be Kevin Costner.

But if he turned me down, Stan is next on the list.

This has a point.  Since that fateful night in my garage, I've tried every tubeless setup enabler that I've read about on the forums.  Building up the rim bed with more tape, the application of soap or bead wax, pinching the tire all around, holding the wheel off the ground, inserting/inflating a tube to get one bead in place before final inflation... pretty sure I've done it all.

The best thing I've ever done is buy a compressor.  A long time back, Jerry the Cat had told me that every man needs a compressor.  I don't think he was being misogynistic in his statement.  I think he meant "man" as in "not beast," as a yak or platypus would have limited use for such a tool.  It took me years to figure out that I should just buy one, and since its acquisition, it's been put to use in more ways than I can remember.  I love blowing dirty bearing grease out... into my eye.  Life is good.

But unfortunately, I still have issues from time to time.

I even do the whole "remove the valve core and inflate with the rubber nozzled blow gun" in order to get more air in more faster for more better more good.

The other night, it wasn't happening.  Multiple attempts.  Squeezy tire thing tried.  I never got around to making the webbing strap I planned on creating months ago.  Way too late to try go through the hassle of adding a layer of tape (which I've told myself to do over and over and over)... what to do?

Then the solution dawned on me.  I removed the rubber tip from the blow gun, and wouldn't you know it?  The threaded hole fits right over the presta valve.  The first attempt was a fail, as the air escaped because the fit was loose, but then I remembered the bag of o-rings I collected from the gutter on 3rd street (an entire case of assorted o-rings had fallen off a contractor's truck).  Found the right size...

(valve core still inserted as I was too lazy to remove it for this dramatic reenactment)
and voila!

The air flow was fantastic, and despite the loose fit, it inflated like I had filled it with ether and lit it on fire.


Maybe you already have the perfect rim/tire combos and don't have need for such a tip.  Perhaps friends don't show up at your house with folded kevlar beaded tires under their arms and wheels in hand (and usually no Stan's juice of their own).  Your life is perfect.  You probably never have to hide your Stan's, lest someone ask to "borrow" it.

But if you occasionally have to deal with the demons of a difficult setup, and don't wanna pace around the room murmuring expletives, controlling your urge to just take a blow torch to the whole thing...

This works pretty damn well.

Wow.  Two weeks straight with a theme.  I feel like I have a purpose more than just "don't gain excessive weight" right now.  It feels like hugging myself.