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Thursday, February 22

Tidying up before messing up

Big busy weekend ahead... and I got stuff I need to be doing but it ain't getting done because other stuff needs more doner.

Saturday, I'll get a little shreddy time with Watts and Bill Nye before cleaning up and heading out for the 3rd (not so) annual Watts Fappening.

It's such a non-event that it's kinda strange that it's ever more than just the three of us riding from place to place seeking beer and good times.  There really is no reason to do this beyond that.   We're starting at Free Range Brewing at 2:00PM if you wanna join us (you shouldn't).  Here's a shitty map if you're trying to catch up later in the day (also shouldn't):

I need to keep things slightly on the rails (on a personal level) because I need to get up (sorta) early for some Tour duh Charlotte trail work.

I can't wait to sling a machete with a dull headache.

Speaking of the Tour duh Charlotte, if you're a male-type person, it's now too late to register.  We sold out last night.  There are still spots for women (we saved room for yinz to be fair), and we're already approaching a record number of female-type persons.

And in other news, the 2018 Faster Mustache kit order is up and running.

If you're ordering a jersey, they're a bit more Euro-cut than previous kits.  Sizing up is a bueno idea... that is unless you're getting the bestest kind of jerseys ever.

The sleeveless jersey is more of a club fit, so sizing down might not be a bad idea if you're the skinny type already.  I swam in my small last year, so I'm going extra small this year.

If you're in Charlotte, there are try on kits at Bike Source in the Park Road Shopping Center until the end of day Feb 25th.  Then the samples are headed to Loose Nuts in Atlanta from 2/28 – 3/7.  The order closes MARCH 7th... kits should be here early April (they ship direct to your address).

Anticipate blerhg fodder next week.

Tuesday, February 20

My Hangups

There were certain aspects of moving into a smaller home that I knew would fall into place quickly.  It doesn't take to long to figure out that the bed goes here, TV there, etc.  Other things, I was hoping would just reveal themselves in due time.

I had 75% of my bike storage issues sorted out in just a couple weeks with the Topeak Dual-Touch bike stand and Solo Bike Holder.  Only my tarck bike was homeless.  I'd gotten so used to just keeping it in the corner of the large living room of our old place, AKA the "satellite office."  Essentially, I just put all my work-related shit in the back corner where it could be sort of ignored.

So my tarck bike was shuffled in the new house from one corner of the living room to the next and finally found itself in the smallest room of the house, The Pie's home office.  With her desk, our home computer, two office chairs, a small filing cabinet, box fan and a suitcase still full of number plates, trophies and medals, it was not ideal.

It was a pain in all our collective asses.  That and we're still a many steps away from making her office a save haven for foster puppers and kittehs.  Cute as they are, they're a smaller furry army that could put Sherman's March to the Sea to absolute shame.

I stared at the walls in our bedroom and thunk.  I'm not a fan of larger master bedrooms.  I see them as wasted space.  I do three or four things in a bedroom, most of them in the bed.  I don't need a lot of floor space to get dressed or primp in front of the full length mirror.

One day, the thinking finally produced a real result.

I'd been sitting on this for months now:

The Topeak Swing-Up Bike Holder.  What makes it different from other wall hook type bike holders is that it can swing 70° left or right to optimize space.

The only problem being that I was having a hard time figuring out how to optimize all this optimization.

After staring at the bedroom walls (and submitting my plan to The Pie for final approval), I came up with this:

Yeth, it's slapped up right against our bedroom closet door.  I was able to put small table underneath and some hanging hooks for my other messenger-related sundries.  I also hung up the Endurance Magazine cover, as I've now taken over this tiny space as my new satellite office.

So how's it working out?

A simple push and the bike swings entirely outta the way.

And then I can get into the closet unhindered or annoyed.

I'm pretty stoked that the solution was that simple.  By hanging the bike super close to the door, The Pie won't get stabbed in the eye with a handlebar if she's stumbling around in the dark trying to take a stealthy pee in the middle of the night.  The bike is low enough that I won't be marking up the ceiling with the tire, but high enough that I can fit some kinda furniture under it (a trip to Ikea is more than likely in my future).

I'm so glad that I didn't rush this job.  I had considered hanging my tarck bike in a bunch of places all over the house, but none of them would have worked out this well.  If you're pinched for bike space in your house, I highly recommend looking into this thing.  When I'd initially watched this video, I have to admit that I didn't get it.

I do now.

Monday, February 19

Quality Packaging

A weekend that turned out (mostly) how I planned it?

Qué?

I was up unfortunately early on Saturday... oh yeah. The Pie had an early eye appointment on her birthday.  The unexpected premature start gave me the opportunity to get out and mebbe do more than I expected, given the threat of rain that afternoon.  Dressed and out the door for some assploring.

I wanted to ride the entire proposed Tour duh Charlotte route, mebbe check out the race stage that I'm "in charge" of, and look for some possible neighborhood chut-thrus.  Everything was going pretty well... previously muddy spots were dry, connectivity full buenos... get out to my stage.

Some of it isn't entirely Tour ready.

Mebbe we need to do some (a lot) of clearing pretty soon.  Yeth, that's a trail.

I decided to make one run-thru of the entire course, despite the fact that there would be some pushing and shoving through the brush, limbs, briers, etc. strewn about certain parts of the "trail."  I got mebbe a quarter mile in and...

Yeth, that's my brand new Forekaster that's mebbe four rides old.  Shit.  Since the trail has a certain "bum quality," I'm pretty sure I ran over a good chunk of glass that was hidden in the tall weeds.  I never got over 5mph at that point, so I really doubt I smashed it on a rock or something.

Lonely but peacefully tranquil flat repair and then resume the ride-thru.  Finish riding the rest of the proposed Tour route, check for the chut-thrus, get home and try to document all the stuff I saw for posterity before I forgot it all.

Out that evening for The Pie's birthday.  Up the next day to a slight headache at 6:40AM to head to the mountains.

We headed up to ride Heartbreak Ridge and Kitsuma.  In the interest of time and energy, we decided to push directly up Heartbreak to ensure a Kitsuma loop.  Too many times in the past, Kitsuma has been lost because people ended up feeling like a can of busted biscuits going the long (but much more rideable) way around up Old Toll Road to the top of Heartbreak.

I felt pretty weak pushing up Heartbreak and had to stop well before we got to the top so I could eat.  I'd been saving this fruitcake since Christmas for a mountain ride.

I wish I could say it did not disappoint.  I can't.

Once we got turned around at the top, I could tell it had been too long since I'd been to the mountains.  My ability to read trail at speed and keep a thousand yard stare was just not there.  A whole lotta pants shatten moments and reminders of how much I hate exposed trail riding.

At some point, whilst reminiscing with Bill Nye, he mentioned out last trip to the mountains... which was both our last.  I had thought it was back in late November, but I was wrong.  It was late October.

Good dog.  I almost went four months without getting to the mountains WITH THE BIKE I BOUGHT TO RIDE IN THE MOUNTAINS.

I must say, getting to this point on Kitsuma with twelve gears is much easier than with one, even after a push up Heartbreak in my legs.  Cleaned it, but I really leaned hard on my friend Eagle.

Anyways...

photo cred: Bill Nye
I should mention that The Dude is hucking the tracks at the bottom of Heartbreak on a 26" wheeled steel Surly hardtail with a 2X drive train, Marzocchi Bomber fork, high post, and many other period correct components.

It was a bluebird day.  Suns out, guns out.  Trail conditions was almost perfect.  The bike and I being much better friends as the ride was ending.  We were all feeling a bit wasted, but after consulting Bill Nye's slightly flawed data collection, I didn't feel so bad.  Close to 5,000 feet of elevation gain in less than 25 miles.

Ouch.

Just ouch.

Friday, February 16

West Feels

Rolling into the weekend like...

photo cred: Dread
I might actually get my JaBronson back to The Pisgah.  This is much cause for excite.  Sure, I've planned a Tour duh Charlotte related ride in the rain tomorrow to keep my riding streak alive, but Sunday could be the SECOND TIME my squish bike gets ridden in its intended environment. 

I woulda never thought I'd go almost three months with no Pisgah.  Trbl.

So, no short track shenanigans but good times and mebbe I'll finally eat that tiny fruit cake that I've been holding onto since Christmas.  On top of a mountain somewhere.

Short.  Sweet.  Not ded.

Tuesday, February 13

Don't believe the gripe: Part duh

I wake up Sunday in my most favorite manner.  No alarm.  No dead set agenda.  Just eyes open and roll out of bed when I feel like sleep isn't happening any more.

Very nice.

Check the weather.  They've backed up the rain a bit but are still calling for a decent chance at midday.  At least I'd get the chance to test my new tire setup in shit conditions.  Pack my big roll top Ortlieb backpack for every possible scenario I can think of and roll out the door at 11:00AM or so.

Get to the short track, head straight to registration so I can register before I start second guessing the fact that I'm paying $30 to ride in circles for 45 minutes, head into the woods to check on the A-line climb.  Get there and the word from the spectators is that it's barely being used.  Grab the shovel, chuck some more crusher run on it, test if four or five times... I can do it.  Why doesn't someone else?

Head over to the Bike Source tent to ditch my bag, eat a couple pop tarts, wash it down with a PBR, head over to the parking lot where everyone who doesn't have a trainer spins around pointlessly trying to "warm up."  I make my pointless circles with them.

Line up for the start.  Twelve single speeders.  My goals are now 6th place and mebbe not get lapped by uber strong Rich Tsui.

If those can be called "goals."

Word at the start is that the first 1/3 to 2/3 of the trail is mud.  I don't understand, as I've seen riders coming out fairly clean earlier.  WTF? 

We start, and instead of drilling it to get into the woods towards the front like I mighta done years ago, I dive in mebbe in 10th or so place.  If find out what "mud" is pretty quickly.

It's not the slick-as-snot sluice that flies everywhere.  No, it's the inches thick peanut butter that saps all momentum and requires a certain amount of power to get through.  Core strength.  Not my game, really.

Big 'n Buttery bobbles a bit ahead of me and some positions change.  I'm now on my teammate Colin's wheel, he's right on Bryan from Bike Source's ass.  We get over to the A-line climb, and although everyone in front of us skips it, we go for it. 

We all three fail... miserably.

Lap two and I'm still following Colin.  I run into his him on the rock ledge climb when a rider in front of him stalls, my front wheel eating his right pedal.  I hear my spoke argue with me over the logic of ramming him.  We get over to the A-line climb, Colin takes the longer go-around, I slam into the hard line... and fail again.  Dammit.  Colin pulls away when he hits the gravel while I wait for my heart to get back in my chest where it belongs.

I start to close things down on Colin again on the climbs of lap three, but once again, I try the A-line, blow it, watch Colin pull away.  I think I hear the announcer call us in 6th and 7th position as we finish the lap.  Dammit.  I still want 6th... for no real reason.

Everything is an Instagram story nowadays.

Colin and I get around another single speeder, so now I think I'm where I want to be.  It enters my head part that Colin is probably in the running for overall in the series, and because this was announced as a double points race, any efforts I made to beat him would only hurt us both (in different ways tho).  On the next lap, I stop for the beer hand up... after glancing over my shoulder to make sure I had time for it.

Everything.

I all but give up on the A-line climb.  I'm not getting any stronger, and I'd rather waste time taking beer hand ups than struggling with my inner demons.  A few more laps, a few more quick chugs, and I finish about 38 seconds behind Colin... but in what ends up to be 7th place.  Dammit.  I heard wrong earlier, I guess.  I dunno if I coulda closed that gap if I blew myself apart trying to chase him down.  I doubt if I'd caught him, he woulda just rolled over and played ded.

So, did I get what I wanted?

Well, I did get in some fitness or something more than I woulda have if I'd just ridden over there and stood around drinking beer all day.

As far as where I stack up in the 50+ field?  Ironically, 7th place outta 12 total.  I guess 13 total, if you add me into the equation.  Granted, I plan actually "trying" and being "fit" in '19, but my work is definitely cut out for me.  It ain't gonna be easy.

The Rekon 2.6/Forekaster 2.2 tire combo?  Was much buenos.  I kinda figured the Forekaster would hook up better than an Ardent Race when things got slick, but I was delightedly surprised that the Rekon didn't go all donut on me.  I thought mebbe the knobs wouldn't be tall enough or the tread pattern "sheddy" enough... but I was wrong.  Plenty of confidence and grip.  I'm sticking with this for the rest of the "season," which isn't much of a "season," but whatever.

Monday, February 12

Don't believe the gripe

Since the weekend was predicted to be a washout, I kept my ride aspirations low.  Saturday, I had some mid-day Tour duh Charlotte related assploring to do. I wanted more miles than that would offer, so I headed out early and went over to the short track to see how last week's deluge had affected the course.  The early morning rains I had anticipated were nothing but a drizzle when I left the house. 

I got over to the short track, started a lap... wondered how bad the A-line climb outta the woods would be.  As I got closer to it, I saw a shovel just off the trail leaning against a tree.

Dog spoke to me.

I grabbed the shovel and went directly to the A-line.  It was truly a hot mess.  Wet, mooshy clay.  Not very rideable and certainly slower than the B-line.  I spent 30-40 minutes "borrowing" unused crusher run from other parts of the trail, filling in the soft spots... one shovel load at a time. 

When I was done, I was able to clean the two optional routes up A-line rather confidently. It was still a punch in the dick, but at least mebbe someone would be able to use it on Sunday to get an advantage (what it was intended to do before it got dumped on for days and days and days).

I left out of the park, did some neighborhood connectivity assploring, met up with Paw and Jack to check out a possible Tour stage, and then headed home. I needed to get my bike ready for the short track race.

Yeth, I decided to do at least one race this year, and this one was gonna serve multiple purposes:

* Get me outta the house on a miserable day and on the bike (when I went to bed Saturday, they were predicting thundershowers).

* I'd be able to see time-wise how I'd stack up against the 50+ field (research for the '19 "season").

* I'd get to test out the Rekon 2.6/Forekaster 2.2 tire combo in slick conditions, something I can't normally do on local trails, since they're closed if they're actually muddy.

So, I fendered my bike up, put my custom number plate holder on the bars, cut back on my evening's lubrication, and went to bed only slightly late for an elderly single speeder.

Friday, February 9

The Tour... again?

Sorry.  I'm back in my Tour duh Charlotte haze state.  I'm staring at maps and satellite images and thinking about how to make the most out of every weekend between now and March 24th to halp make great bike race (for others).

We decided to make it happen again a little later than we have in the past.  There is still a ton of commitment to make it a quality event, one worthy of the cost of entry.  We've lost some key players from the past due to life changes that have put physical distance between them and the Queen City, but we continue to have some deranged passion about this event and an enthusiastic core...

So the urban dirt bonanza that I always hope will be our last ever becomes the all-consuming thought once again.  All the details are here and most of them are correct.  Registration is up and running, and you might notice one significant change.  This year, it will be the same price for racers and spectators/party pacers.  It simplifies things on our end, and mebbe it will push some people over the edge to give racing a try.  Everyone still gets a nice ride around Charlotte, some beer, food to stick in their face parts, and an overall good time for most of the day.  Racers just get to ride their brains out on some trail trying to beat each others' dicks off (figuratively speaking, esp for the women racers).

More than likely, we will sell out AGAIN.

BUT

And that's a big "but" (I can not lie).

There will be no exceptions made if you don't get registered.  If we've learned one thing from the last five years (and I'd like to think we've learned at least ten things), it's that there's a certain amount of people that are manageable when guiding folks through the city.  There's no reason to go beyond that amount.

That said, get in now if you wanna play with us and get dirty in the woods.  There may not be any more getting to be had as we approach to the day of the event.

Six weeks to go.

Expect content to continue to be spotty here at best.

Especially with this weather. I might have to "race" this Sunday just to give a ride in the rain a sense of purpose.