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Tuesday, March 3

Molar of that to come

I said that I might talk more about the Wheels to the Farm event.

So yeah.

First, let me mention that that the Backcountry Research store is open once again, and straps, Tülbags and whatnot are available again.  Looks like the big move is over (or at least enough to start cranking out more product).  What's new for 2015? I dunno.. yet.  Gonna try to find out.

Wheels to the Farm.  I loved it.  I started mountain biking back in Ohio in the way early '90s, and 50-70% of the riding we did was on scabby, private property crossing, railroad track poaching, ATV rut infested, drug needle littered, no dumping allowed, never designed for a mountain bike "trails."  That was all we had in the immediate area, so that's what we did.  The biggest challenges we had were steep ravines and mud bogs (and tetanus).  We didn't know any better, and we didn't much care. Ohio FTW.

So getting to race on stuff that had much more in common with my roots than anything close to modern MTB trails?  Groovy.  Not to mention hanging out with like minded individuals, beer, burritos in the woods, multiple mass starts to get the nerves jacked, friendly competition... followed by a party of epic proportions? 

photo cred: Courtney McDonald
Honestly one of the best days on a bike with friends.

So that is why I wholly suggest that anyone that can make it to the Tour duh Charlotte at the end of the month do so.

I assure you that at some point during the day, you'll be somewhere on the face of this earth you've never been before.  More than likely, at least three places you didn't even know existed.

And as always, there will be food, beer, food, beer... bikes.   $35 for all that, and if you wanna just tag along for the whole thing and enjoy ALL the beer and ALL the food (not just for racers), $20 gets you more than your money's worth of party pacing.

I would say that it's an event like none other, but now that there's one going down in Atlanta... it's like one other.

BUT THAT'S IT.

The price will go up on "day of," so keep that in mind while you're sitting on the fence.

So get off your ass and come down here

Cause Rock N' Roll ain't no riddle, man

To me it makes good, good sense

Good Sense.

Monday, March 2

FM:WTF Faster Mustache and Loose Nuts Presents: Wheels to the Farm - 10 Years of Bikes of Beers

Leave about 45 minutes later than planned from Charlotte.  Mistrust the Google maps, get on I85 despite being told not to (at least so soon), sit in traffic, get to Atlanta before 10:00PM, drink beer with Aaron until I finally ask what time we have to get up in the morning, realize we're only going to get about six hours of sleep, go to bed.

Wake up.  Coffee, eggs, bacon, headache, grab as much clothing as I think I can get away with without having to wear a pack to carry it later, freeze our asses off riding over to Loose Nuts Cycles.  Register, more coffee, highly anticipated bathroom moments, go to my bike minutes before roll-out, find the front tire almost flat...

Why did I break the bead to mount those new valve stems, find it going flat the next day, just add sealant and hope for the best instead of being more thorough about finding the problem and fixing it?

Run around, find a floor pump, jack the pressure through the roof, get back to ready position for roll out, share my frantic story, Nick Dip 'n Spray Barlow admits to letting the air out of my tire, release some of the air I just added, but without a gauge, I can only get somewhere north of my favorite 17PSI without going too low.  My funny friends.

Out from the shop, through a park, across an easement, into some woods to some scabby patch of land behind an old prison.

photo cred: Ed Frayer
Five laps around this torn-up, rutted four wheeler track after a prologue lap around a stake and a tall guy.  Not wanting to get caught up in the argy-bargy, I line up towards to front of our 70+ rider group to make a safe separation from the largest part of the field .  Into the main loop, I'm sitting around fifth place, watching Zac at the head of the race duking it out with some Atlanta folk.  On the third lap, I hit the final climb to see if I could close down the gap.

photo cred: Chris Kelly
I do, but my lower back said that doing so was no bueno.  I back off and watch the leaders ride away.  One of the front guys gets taken out by a lapped rider, and I settle in for what would end up being fourth place.

I stand around for awhile stretching my back, eventually give up, and lie down in some tall grass to sulk.  We finally get rolling to the next stage and stop underneath a giant train trestle.

photo cred: Aaron Chamberlain
After a regroup, we line up way-wide and looking up a hill.  Wanting to stay away from any chaos that I haven't created myself, I take off and crest the hill ahead of everyone.  Coast down the backside, see the giant rock formation that we need to ride over at the bottom, realize that I have no idea if it has a backside, cyclocross over it, hear Zac yelling at me that he's coming (Zac does not need a backside), get out of his way and let him through.

And on that lap, what felt like a lot of riders come by me.  Huge mud pits, boggy climbs, and only one gnarly burger descent.  My back getting angry at me when I try to plow through the mud and no time to recover on the rally back down to the start/finish.

photo cred: Todd
As I come through on my first lap, they yell for me to call out my number.  I reply "85!'... which is my number from last week's race at Santos.  They give me a stupefied look that tells me I'm crazy, I think for two seconds, and then yell "10!"

Two more painful laps to go.

Come across the line in fifth place.  Things are looking like I might have a decent finish, no podium, but whatev.

Stand around, get beer, get burrito, Ask about the big 25% hill climb prime coming up.  Is it a stage?  Are they scoring it?  One person who's in charge'ish says "yes."  I go with that.  Then get caught up in a conversation with Zac, see everyone lining up for the hill climb, panic, he says it's not scored, I say it is, I run all the way to the start, get there right before"go," and drill it to finish way back...

photo cred: Yoni Pollak
to discover it wasn't scored.  Dip 'n Spray wins the $100 and Zac wisely takes his sweet time getting to the top.

The next live stage is back down the same hill we just climbed, alongside the road, sorta slaloming down rather vaguely towards some taped-off corners... mass start.  It sounds like death.  At the get-go, I sort myself towards the front.  Zac takes the lead.  Passes rarely happen.  I stay up towards the front... mebbe 5th place.  Insane.



Regroup at the bottom, one more slog over to the final stage.  We get there, sort ourselves out, long run-out on a paved greenway before going into the woods.  Gonna be hard to stay out front of the geared riders.  Go, I do what I can, entering the trail around fifth or sixth place.

Make a move.  Make another.  Dunno how many, but I'm catching the leading pair of Zac and Chris...

and then I loose my shit in some mud, hit a tree, get back on, find that my bars are twisted when I awkwardly try to get over a log pile, stop, twist them back, get back on, see that I went too far the other way, almost die trying to get over another log pile, stop, twist them back to normal... look ahead at all the riders who are getting away from me... no more Zac and Chris in sight.

Fueled by some frustration, I fight my way back through the field.  Without any super deep mud and only one punchy climb, my back says "go ahead and do whatever."

By the last lap, I've got Zac, Chris and Kevin in my sights.  I get into last wheel position and start yelling ahead.  Not "get outta the way," just "let's get moving.!"  I don't want to mess up anyone's points, but I also don't want to be caught by anyone I just spent the last lap and a half putting behind me.  No good.  Thick Leg Monster is coming up on my ass.  I yell up to the front that he's coming... fast.

Chris pops off, but it's too late.  Thick Leg Monster comes around hard on the three of us that are left at the front.  Kevin tries to grab his wheel.  Zac is blown.  I let him know that I won't pass him and take his points, but if someone comes up on us, I'm leaving.  He puts in his full effort, grunting and arrrggging his way to the finish.  Nobody catches us.  I get another fourth place.

photo cred: Wayne Whitesides
We roll back as a group to The Trailer Park (an incredible bunch of jumps, stunts, berms and mayhem in someone's backyard) and start drinking immediately.

photo cred: Chris Kelly
Before the train goes entirely off the tracks, they get to awarding the podiums.  First, the top three in each stage.  I never did better than fourth place.  Nothing for me.

Then the top three overall.  First name they call?  Me.

Apparently, while Zac and Kevin had excellent days beating each others' dicks off, I was consistently towards the front more than anyone else aside from those two.  Nifty.

Generous prizes.  More beer.  Fire.

photo cred: Aaron Chamberlain
I've always wanted to do a race like our Tour duh Charlotte.  It always looked like so much fun from the outside.   I can now confirm that it totally is.  Faster Mustache: ATL really pulled it off.  Fucking sweet.



More tomorrow... mebbe.

Friday, February 27

Wheels to the Truck Nutz

FWIW, I'm heading to Wheels to the Farm tomorrow... that is to say, I'm heading to Hotlanta tonight so as to be there already tomorrow.

I anticipate good times and a further delaying of the healing processes my body really needs.  Maybe I'll get a cold sore too.  Who knows!?!

Report on Monday... or not.

A few weeks ago, I saw something on BikeTumor about ESI coming out with the new Fit Grips.

I have been a true believer in the miracles that are ESI Racer's Edge silicone grips for quite some time now.  I've never been happier, so I'm interested in seeing if these are molar betterer.  ESI scientists say so:

The increase in price is indicative of molar betterness, for sure, so I asked around on FaceBook to see if someone has had any real world experience with these new grips yet.  As expected, I got much sarcasm, misinformation, a picture of Emily Batty's bike, and probably this (again):

I get that a lot.

Then I got a message from someone at TruckerCo.com, purveyors of "High Performance Bicycle Parts/Quality Aftermarket and OEM."  They carry ESI grips, and more importantly, the new ESI Fit Grips.

I know some things about TruckerCo.  They sell tire sealant in an economical size that comes with a syringe.

I also know that they sell like a million different types of brake pads.

I've been relatively picky about brake pads ever since I started running disc brakes.  Unfortunately, I've always preferred whatever the more expensive stock option was, in the case of Shimano, the metallic version (MSRP @ $30 per wheel).  I've been tempted to try TruckerCo's pads, as they are significantly cheaper... but... I never did.

Well anyways, TruckerCo said they'd send me some ESI Fit grips to try out, and this is what showed up:

I guess they didn't get the memo that my "industry insider douchebag" status had been revoked.

The grips aren't in the picture, because I put them on as soon as I got home.

They're "a cross between a Chunky and an Extra Chunky grip," so we'll see if I like them or not.  I've always liked the ultra-narrow Racer's Edge, but I do like that flange and the grip is pretty narrow where it needs to be.   Time will tell.  I imagine my hands are similar to Emily's, since we're both about the same size (I'm prettier).

So in the very near future, I'm going to try the above products.  I'm confident that the ti bolts with hold a rotor on my hub with great aplomb.

The pink valve stems?  Already mounted and being all stemmy.

The sealant?  To truly test the sealant, I need to start with fresh tires.  Those will be going on sometime in mid-March before the start of the "season," so I guess that's when I'll see what's up with Cream Tire Sealant.

And the pads...

I've been reading up on what they have to say about their pad compounds.

My head says to try the Sintered Metallic first, but my heart says to go with the Organic Semi-Metallic (you had me at "noise is eliminated").  Since I'll probably burn up my stock XTR pads this weekend at the what should be incredibly muddy Wheels to the Farm event, I guess I have a week to make a decision.

I'll do my best to update on my experiences with these products in the future.  Before anyone bags on TruckerCo and starts shouting "support your local bike shop," let it be known that TruckerCo is set up to have dealers if a LBS wants to carry their products.  They started their company out of the back of a bike shop, so they get it... get it?

Thursday, February 26

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Seventeen

This should actually be helpful.  To men.  Probably not women.

I now share with you the Grocery Store Man Rules of Engagement (AKA Brocery Rules).

Men are considered the logical thinkers of our species.  Unemotional.  Calculating.  Methodical.  So it pains me to admit, as a member of the wienered sex, that we fall apart when it comes to group grocery shopping.

I imagine that we've all been there before.  Road trip scenario.  Mancation.  Multiple friends in a group, pairs that are closer, guy who knows a guy.  We all get out of the car, walk into the store, separate into ones, twos and threes... and then everything falls apart and somehow an amount of time that can not be explained is lost.

Men wandering the aisles.  Looking for each other. 

"Is he over by the beer?"

"I wonder if he checked out already?"

"I wonder if he wants to split a pack of ten chicken breasts?"

"What's he doing in the feminine hygiene aisle?"

"I wonder if he's taking a dump?"

"Why am I all alone?  Where did everybody go?  Maybe I'll do a lap of the entire store looking for anyone I might recognize, and if that fails, I'll do another lap."

This should not be allowed to happen.

Go in with a game plan.  The first part of this plan is the agreement on one basic thing:

Go in, get what you need, take it to the register, pay for it, and then meet at the front of the store (outside or inside).

This is crucial.  Way too much time is wasted wondering where everyone is, if they've checked out yet, have they gone to the car, etc.  Eliminate this doubt.  When everyone is at the meeting point, GO... wherever it is you're going next.

If you are splitting some items with a close friend, STICK TOGETHER.  Hold hands if you must, but do not lose each other while one compares the caloric content of tuna packed in water VS oil and the other peruses the bagel options only to have to find each other to come to an agreement on which cuts of beef carcass you want to split.  At the very least, head directly to the decision products first and then split up from there. 

If you are dividing responsibilities (someone is buying beer, another toilet paper, another chips), decide BEFORE YOU GO INTO THE STORE.  You are not apes that were teleported into the aisles totally unaware of your basic needs.  You have a general idea how much things cost and such, so it shouldn't be too hard to sort that out ahead of time.

You should spend zero time looking for anyone.  Everyone should have their cell phones handy and the volume up.  Texting or calling is so much easier than crouching down and looking under shitter stall doors (and less creepier).

Of course, none of this is necessary.  Go ahead and waste a stupid amount of time on the collection of goods as opposed to getting to wherever you are going and actually having time to ENJOY your consumables.

I have no idea what groups of women do in grocery stores.  I'd like to think pillow fights and squirt guns are involved somehow...

Tuesday, February 24

Some Many Neat Things

That hush-hush tech thing that saved me ten grams which I mentioned yesterday...

It had already "dropped" on the very same day it was handed to me, so technically it was hush-hush no more.

Availability limited (for now) "to the United States and candy(?)", this little puppy is so flat black that it eats time and space... although Thomson fails to use that in their marketing material.   You'll be able to order it at Thomson small parts as soon as someone remembers to put it up there

There is more important news out there.

THIS IS HAPPENING FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW.

This is truly the best thing that happens in Charlotte... in March... that involves beer, pizza and bikes.

Once again, registration is open to men, women and party pacers (spectators who pay a reduced cost to enjoy a bike ride, beer and food). 

What is the Tour duh Charlotte (brought to you by Faster Mustache: Charlotte)?

Basically, we ride all over parts of Charlotte you've probably never been.  We race at select venues that you probably didn't know existed.  We return to our happy and oh-so choice finish line location, eat, drink, award the people deserving of our recognition, we drink more, and then everybody goes home with zero disappoint.

And it would be remiss of me to not tell you about the Faster Mustache: Atlanta's own "Tour de something..."

Wheels to the Farm... same concept, different city, similar flavor of dirt.  Bikes, beer... not sure about the pizza.  It is this weekend and registration (for the men) is getting full.  If you're a woman or a party pacer, you can breathe a little easier, but still REGISTER RIGHT NOW ANYWAYS.  Tons more info over on FaceBook, the Second Internet.

Speaking of Faster Mustache, our kits are on pre-order until February 26th.  That's this Thursday for the calendarically challenged.   We haz long sleeve, short sleeve, no-sleeve, BMX/DH and bibs to mix, match and dazzle, shown (or not) in no particular order.


Obviously, I'm partial to the desleeved, or as I've been told they're called, "Cootered Edish."

And let's face it, we all wanted to be Cooter, even if he didn't marry Daisy.

Because although Enos married Daisy, he can't convert the General Lee into a four wheel drive vehicle overnight... but he is available for public appearances though.

WHY ARE WE NOT HAVING HIM COME TO THE TOUR DUH CHARLOTTE!

Order your Cootered Faster Mustache jersey now.

Monday, February 23

2015 12 Hours of Santos

Getting to the race stuff as fast as possible.

Drive down to Georgia Wednesday night.  Hot tub.  Drive down to Orlando Thursday.  Poach another hot tub.  Fancy Mexican food with The Pie.  Flight of margaritas.  Drive up to Ocala Friday morning.  Find Faster Mustache people and Niner Mike.  Mike lightens my bike by ten grams with some top secret hush-hush tech (no longer top secret or hush-hush), and we go pre-ride the course.  My duo teammate, Scott Smith, shows up.  Another lap with the crew from TVB.  Then beers with FM crew, beers with TVB crew, move my sleeping bag into Timmy's tent since I don't want to sleep in below freezing temps in a hammock, have a shitty and sometimes painful night's sleep, wake up with a few regrets.

Scott and I strategerize.  He will start.  I don't want to go first because generally speaking, the first rider out does more work.  I'm an injured hot mess, and I discovered this on the ball of my foot Thursday night:

Long story.  An issue that goes back to my early twenties.  No way I'm running to my bike though.

We decided that the first two turns will be two laps each.  Figuring on 40 min+ laps or so. 

The race starts with a LeMans run to the bikes and a prologue lap.  Scott is near the front on the run.  I thought we came to Florida to play bikes.  Maybe I was wrong.

Twenty minutes later, a rider comes out of the woods.  I don't know it at the time, but he's in the our category and WAY out front of anyone else.  I woulda been amazed, but like I said, I didn't know.  I look for Scott to come out about twenty or so people back.  He doesn't.

I wonder now if we will consider this one of his laps or pile the twenty minute prologue onto his first two.  I'll have to ask... whenever I see him.

He finally pops out of the woods, much further back than he went in.  He tells me that he broke his chain.  Now I'm trying to figure out how he fixed it so fast and got back in the hunt.  I remember to ask him if he's going two more laps or just the prologue plus one.  He says he's just doing the plus one.  I have sads.

So we transition to me, I have no idea how we are doing.  I realize duo riders have yellow number plates too late to pay attention.  I push it as hard as I can, making passes whenever possible.  The racing will be tight, and lagging behind slower riders can cost seconds that over twelve hours add up to minutes...

Although I thought Scott and I would be sitting around by a fire drinking beer long before the race was over, as we never considered being in contention.

photo cred: Nancy Bregg
Taking the jump line that I didn't know was a "jump line" to make a pass.  Much excite.

I come off my set of two pulling consecutive 41.77 minute laps.  Scott goes out.  I check the results.  They are mounted six and a half feet off the ground.  The times aren't accumulated.  We're sitting in second, and although I can hardly see them, my fuzzy math of adding two times together means we're actually in third.  Shit.

I know Scott's not gonna want to sit up and give up a possible podium.  For the most part, I don't want to either.  Looks like we might be racing for awhile.

I didn't really bring any food.  The website said there would be food vendors on site.  There weren't.  I grab a banana and a tiny bag of mini-muffins from a table near the start/finish.  I settle in and wait for my turn.  Time flies, and about an hour and a half later, I meet Scott for the transition.

"At some point, we need to confer," Scott says to me.

I know what he's thinking.  We're in third, and that's not what we came here to do.  We just wanted to get out of town and ride somewhere that the sun was shining and the temps were above twenty degrees.

My first lap hurts.  My second one, less... but it was slightly slower.  Meh.

Scott and I transition again.  We mumble something to each other, but I think we both know we're going to keep going out as long we we're in the top three.  I head back to my car, grab a beer and some Peanut M&M's that Mudman had the foresight to purchase for me, and set a timer.

I go back out, come back in, more beer, more Peanut M&M's.

Same thing repeats again... I think.

Then I start to fall apart a little.  I can't even finish my next beer, and it's time to put lights on at the same time the pasta dinner is an option.  I go out, never need my lights, and get back to the pasta in time to see that the sauce is gone and they're putting soup on it now.  I had spaghetti and sauce with meatballs on the brain, so when I saw it was gone, I had sads.

At some point, I turn my frown uspide down.  I still can't fully comprehend the results, as we're more than ten laps in, there's still no accumulated times posted, I can't add that much in my brain, the results are still a foot and a half above my head, and I'm feeling fried...

but finding that my leftover beer from before was still cold, pizza had magically appeared in our pit area, putting on some dry, fresh clothes, riding in the dark that made the course feel new again...  I just felt less shitty about life.

I head out on our last lap.  Keep an eye out behind me for the 81 number plate the few times someone comes up on me (since I really have no clue what our lead on fourth is), fall over into the limestone trying to peep the plate coming up on me...  and finish.

photo cred: Christie Burnett
We snagged third.  Neat way to start 2015... if you don't count the Icycle XC race I quit because of back pain and the downhill race practice that injured my ribs in January.  Call that a false start, if you will.

So yeah... thanks to Scott for suggesting we duo up.  My first ever duo anything over six hours and it was just as hard as I imagined it.

Few things about the race.  I hope I don't sound like I'm bagging on it, as it was a uniquely interesting event.  Although the course wasn't quite my cup of tea (lotsa pedaling and power stuff), it was a blast and really kept it mixed up enough to be interesting.  Drops, jumps, technical sections... it made you forget the miles of pedally flat pine needle covered sand berms.

I was bummed that I saw non-riders chowing down on the pasta... since it impacted my getting any.  It would be nice if they'd tighten up on that.  The times not being accumulated so you could tell how far ahead/behind the other teams you are?  I don't get that at all in a 12/24 hour race.  Really important info IMHOMO.  The fact that I coulda used a step stool to check the times?  Tall people could always stoop.  Short people gotta jump, I guess.

I was also a bit bummed to see so much garbage on the trail.  I've never seen so much of it, aside from maybe La Ruta.  I'm sure OMBA or the promoters will clean it up, but they shouldn't have to.  It made me sad seeing racers treat a hosting trail system in that manner.  It's deplorable.

BUT

I had fun, and I'm super stoked that I went.  It was my first time doing a Gone Riding event, and the positives outweigh the negatives tenfold.  Good times, good times.

Thursday, February 19

Share the Wisdom Wednesdays (on Thursdays): Part Sixteen

When opportunity knocks, don't just open the door and welcome it to come in...

Grab your shit, throw it in the car and head to the 12 Hours of Santos with opportunity in the glove box because there isn't any room elsewhere.

Hitting the road, teaming up with Scott Smith (3rd SS overall at the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic)... seen here on the right:

Yeah, that's not the overall podium, but I like that I'm on top yelling at Jeremiah Bisquick.  He just wasn't paying proper attention to my big moment on the box.

"Up here, Munga Buddy!"

Anyways, we probably don't have a chance in hell in the Male Duo category.  I don't even know how my back will feel about the whole "six hours on a bike" thing.  Let's not even talk about the ribs because as long as I don't wreck or make sudden quick movements, I should be okay.  Pretty sure none of my movements right now could be called "sudden" or "quick."

But.

Seventy degree temps sound way better than single digits and riding my bike in pain sounds better than watching Netflix in discomfort all weekend.  

So let's go do this thing, opportunity.  M'kay?