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Tuesday, September 30

Drooper Related Syndrome

The squish thing.  It's not what you think.  Dropping to flat is 2001.  I stopped that business a long time ago.  Jumping?  Don't think so.  I'm about as close to my limit as I wanna be.  That drop/gap/jump thing I've been doing at the Backyard?

It ain't much of a thing although it's a tad bigger than it looks.  3.5ft down, mebbe 8ft out over a slight gap to a nice transition.  Rear suspension won't make much a difference.  Front suspension is probably only just a mental enabler.  There's a much bigger gap back there to my left (your right) that I've been eyeballing.  I can imagine doing it, but then I imagine something like this if I fail:

Watching the Red Bull Rampage gives me a glimpse at glory as well a peek around the corner to see the Ghost of Carnage Future.

BTW: I knew Lacondeguy was gonna win hours before the big show.

What intrigues me (again) with a frame that has way too many moving parts?

The hardtail.  It can do so much.  With a 150mm fjork, even more.  Straight line shots down a hill can be fantastic... as long as your head and eyes can keep up.  There's a nasty root line on the Weigh Station Loop at the Whitewater Center I hit last weekend.  Gnarl burger speed, but with the straight shot and big, round roots, the bike just floats between my legs with the drooper drooped.  Felt so good.

But those square edge hits.  The ones I don't see at the last minute and fail to avoid.  Gnar gnar like I rode on Spencer Gap last week.  All's well and then it's like a torpedo out of nowhere.  Horrid noises, hull integrity compromised, possible tire damage, certain rim unhappiness.  It was going so well up until then, and then regret and sads.

The other time I think about it?  Railing a corner, drooper drooped, bike leaned hard between my legs, center of gravity as close to being over the contact patch as possible.  Burning full-on Enduro™ turns.  Roots, rocks, detritus... all trying to pull the rear wheel out from under me. 

Damn it.  Is it the drooper allowing me to go just that bit faster?  Sometimes I think so.

I don't want life to be more complicated.  I don't want more maintenance.  I don't need another bike.

I think back to those short few days on the MOOTS Rogue YBB 27.5.

That bike with a drooper and a 140mm fjork, preferably something Pike'esque.  Not so complicated, but enough to take the edge off a square hit?  Dunno.  I really liked grooving on the smaller wheels.  Didn't run stuff over as well, but felt playful.

Maybe it's just that time of year.  The opposite of Spring Fever... Air Spring Fall Fever.

I've spent way too many slow days at work looking at the options.  Norco, Devinci, Specialized, Transition, Scott, Santa Cruz, Pivot, Intense, Rocky Mountain, Foes... all better to buy at full spec.  None spec'ed/built out the way I would want them.  1X drivetrain, internal drooper, Shimano brakes, high bottom bracket, pink wheels... maybe it's better that way.

I know gears come with the package, so the frame would have to absolutely stellar enough to make me forget about the bits.

Maybe I just need to ride more.

Monday, September 29

I Tried

Friday.  Tried to make it to my first ever Critical Mass.  The first one in Charlotte was... oh, I don't know.  1999?  I've been slack.  Pre-beer and roll outta the house at 7:00.  Meet Bill Nye at the Common Market.  Beers are had.  He gets us another round at 7:55.  The Mass rolls out at 8:00... without us.  They're headed to the Birdsong Brewery.  We'll just meet them there.

By the time this is over...

I decide it's time to head home.  I'm never very good at navigating after dark from NoDa to my house using practical routes.  I always end up semi-lost.  Tonight is no different.  Navigating by phone, I slip a pedal on the coaster.

Not sure if the best decision was riding in flip flops or replacing the stock plastic pedals to Bear Traps.

Saturday.  Wake up.  Wait for a family friendly window.  Make a break for the Whitewater Center.  Casual solo lap of the fun stuff... maybe twice down the Tower #93 jump line.  Back home safe.  No flip flop related mayhem.

Alarm on Sunday.  Meet with Hubs and Doug to walk the new pinned addition at the Backyard Trails.  Keep my wits about me, one eye out for chiggers and the other for aggressive geese.

Trounce around in the poison ivy and holly bush (joy!) for an hour and a half.  Massage a couple turns.  Much nodding and chin stroking.  It will be a fine addition... once it actually exists.

Back in the parking lot to meet up with Stabby, Eric Van Driver, and Mason.  Grab the bike and go.  Mason eyeballs some jumps.  I accidentally pee on my hand.  Fantasizing about full suspension whenever I'm ripping the short descents.  Eric falls asleep waiting for us to get done playing on a jump line.

Go home and don't watch the Red Bull Rampage as planned.  It's been postponed until tonight due to rain during the scheduled qualifiers.   Watch Where the Trail Ends on Netflix to satiate my need to see young people slay the gnar.

And even though I wouldn't ride 90% of what they did in the movie, I feel the desire for squish and silliness.  I hope I get better soon.

Thursday, September 25

Fell on Bad Days

Wednesday.  I'm up early enough to get some riding in before work.  Raining.  Forecast says it will end by 8:00AM.  It doesn't.  Back in the house, fold laundry, unload the dishwasher, head back out the door in the rain at 8:30AM.  Never dawned on me to put on my fender.  Oh well, only calling for some more light rain around 1:00PM and no more.

Off and on rain all day, no fender, butt going from soaked to just moist throughout the day.  Go out to the furthest point I deliver to some thirty-five blocks away when the rain picks up, ride back into town via the greenway only to get another run back out to the same place.  This time, the greenway is flooded.  I start to ride under the bridge at Morehead Street, realize I can't ratchet the cranks on the Fastest Bike in the World until it's too late.  Stop about a third of the way in.  Wade back out of the underpass through the nasty storm runoff. 

Last minute run to the courthouse in a steady rain assures me that I will ride home with a nice swamp-ass.

Sours the mood a bit.

The Pie texts me.  She's headed out to pick up puppy milk.

"Need anything?"

My resolve to not drink beer for four or five days crumbles less than seventy hours into it.  Come home, grab a can and a coozie, head downstairs to disrobe and down-gear.  Take off the shoes that normally smell like a thousand dead corpses to find out they now smell like a thousand and one. 

Pretty sure I was in a semi-dismal mood before the day even started.  Not entirely sure why.  The finish line is in sight.  Less than a month to go before the races that require actual fitness are behind me.  Then there will be no early miles, much more sleep, fewer things and agendas.

The goal is to hang onto the shreds of fitness I have remaining which are actually the shreds of shreds at this point.  Just enough gas in the tank so I don't suffer unnecessarily.  Have fun... you know.

Think I might be slightly bummed about not doing the Pisgah Stage Race.  I almost signed up multiple times.  Had I known so many people whose company I like to keep were gonna be there... the scales mighta tipped.  I'm holding onto my remaining 5.8 days of vacation like a greedy time miser.  The Pie and I were pondering a Sedona vacation next Spring Break, but a recent realization that even with US Airways $99 buddy passes, it's still close to a $2,000 trip... maybe more.  We might be too practical minded to toss that kinda money on one trip.  Those days I'm saving might not have needed to be held so tightly.

I'm happier today.  Over the hump.  Clearing skies.  Drying trails.  Can't wait to ride dirt soon.

But for now, beer is my fender.

Tuesday, September 23

Old People Problems

My back was sore Saturday night, prolly from pushing a stupid 32X18 up Pisgah climbs I had no business trying.  Heating pad while watching the tube to make me molar betterer.

Wake up Sunday, store, go see mom, mow the lawn, bend the blade on a stump, bend it back to semi-serviceable with a vise, finish... mower shaking from being unbalanced.  Even more sore now then before.

The Pie and Nia are going for a two hour run in preparation for a ten miler coming up in a couple weeks.  Nothing better to do with myself, so I grab the DickStickel and head to the BYT.

Yes, ride rigid 32X18 in Pisgah, ride 150mm of suspension with a 32X20 in Charlotte.  Because... burrito.

Speaking of the Backyard Trails, Faster Mustache is once again putting on The Backyard Experience, a race like none other (for the most part).  An excellent time riding/racing the most technical, feature-strewn trails in Charlotte, for the very best price, with food, beer and all manner of good times.

Registration is open.  A better description of what it's about is on the BikeReg site, so click the link for more info.

Back to my ride....

Feel pretty good, despite the fact that my Pop Tarts burned off hours ago.  Jump the cannon jumps that I've been afraid of ever since they modified them from jumps to flat to jumps with transitions... and gaps.  Hit the tech loop.

Things are going smoothly.  Clean a log ride, make the tight climb outta the rock pile, crush the switchback, the steep carpet climb out, get over the rootball.

I start thinking about Kürdt's almost clean ride on the tech loop last time I was out here.  Almost... he got through the crux of the entire ride only to wash out in a loose corner.  Foot down.   Bragging rights on the day lost.  I was going to make it... unless I did something stupid.

Hop on the low log ride (1.) with some speed.  Seeing that it's rotten, I wheelie drop to the right, noticing that my rear tire is landing on some rotten wood.  I look back under my left arm to see if it's pressure treated, possibly with nails/screws hanging out.

Head turned the wrong way, run into the large, dead log (2.) head-on.  The bike stops and I do not.  In the air, then on the ground, wondering what just kept my bike from coming with me.  Review and assess.  I'm sore in that "my bike stopped and I didn't" kinda way.  No clean run this time and taken down two pegs in the process.

Continue on.  Come to the huge gap/gap step-down/ride-around option.  I always take the ride-around.  Sore, shaken and hungry.  I decide to take a closer look.  Maybe eight feet or so out, three feet down, a hole in between.  Screw it.

I go back and hit it.  Then again.  Then one more time.  Another BYT demon defeated.  Finish the Farmbrook Loop in its entirety, backtrack to the gap jump and hit it a few more times.  Try to photo document the moment with the new camera, but realize had I carried my iPhone, I coulda used the remote control/interval feature to get it 100%.  Instead...

Whatever.

I kept thinking about Bill Nye and I's conversation from the day before about learning new skills, pushing things a little bit, and my reluctance to just do it.

So I did it.  I might do it some more.  We'll see.  Right now I'm "old people sore" all over.

Monday, September 22

Pisgah for Dummies

I promised a lot of pictures of Bill Nye standing around with his bike.  You only get one.

Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever surprised me early Saturday morning with an offer of a Sprinter shuttle ride to somewhere high up in the mountains.  Being slightly smarter than some, we accepted the lift and started our ride much higher than our car.  Bill Nye, being totally unfamiliar with the area, was happy to see new trail all day long... even the parts he didn't like.

I was nonplussed all around.  Except Spencer Branch.  I love Spencer Branch.

First descent down and then headed back up, we saw a hillbilly towing a homemade teardrop trailer behind his truck...

Oh, it's our hillbilly.

Jim had just spent the night in the woods scaring the local meth operators and was looking to get in a ride.  He joined us on the the remainder of the route.  I had my camera on me the whole time, but if you ride Pisgah, you realize it's much more about being in the moment, and sessioning trail for the sake of image making?

Meh.  Not always gonna happen.

The experiment with the 3.0 Chronicle was a success or a failure depending on how you look at it.  I was too lazy to take off my 32X18 gearing (32X20 being my Pisgah gear), so the climbs were harder than usual... thus making it difficult to determine if I could notice the extra rubber (almost a half pound) up front while climbing.  I had a hard time putting any distance between Jim and I on the descents, and he was running the 2.4 Ardent I usually run.  I could really let the bike go occasionally, the tire soaking up more of the hits than its smaller predecessor, but it's still an air-filled rubber tube on an aluminum rim mounted to a rigid fork.  It can easily be overwhelmed with the right combination of speed and chunder.  I tossed a bottle for the first time in a long time letting loose on Spencer Branch.  It might add a bit in terms of speed and comfort on fast descents, but just not "Who needs a suspension fork with a tire like this?" speed and comfort.

The Chronicle did give me some über confidence on some of the blown-out tech gnar on lower Trace... so much grip when things get sketchy.  Wicked sweet.

Of note:  Bill Nye, posing majestically in front of a good 15 foot gap jump, mentioned that while he lingered out west (when my portion of the trip was over), he considered going to Keystone for some instruction/coaching on doing bigger stuff.  I told him that my days of stepping up my game are over, too old to learn and/or recover from the possible injuries.  I experimented with all that in the early 2000s, and I was never going to be comfortable on a consistent basis, especially as we have no decent place in Charlotte to keep up the skills (balls).

And then I rode out at the Backyard Trails by myself the next day.

Friday, September 19

Cupcake

Taking a slight break from all (most) things bike, we celebrated Sexy Sizzlin' Sizemore's one year anniversary last night.

365 days ago, The Pie carried a nine pound sack of bones into our house.  He couldn't walk or stand, but he could wag his tail... pretty much the thing that kept him from being euthanized when they found him in the hoarding situation he was literally stuck in.

Photo taken obviously after he was able to stand again.

He's a happy, albeit lumpy, boy.  Shy and skittish when he first moved in, now sleeping in the bed... pretty much wherever he wants.

He's still a little leery of coughing and falling objects, but he has a strange toothy smile and wags with his entire body... especially when it comes to cupcakes.

Don't worry. We did not deprive Maggie, the Oldest Dog in the World.

Found as a puppy in 1998, still getting around and doing things dogs do.

So yeah, mountain biking in actual mountains tomorrow... I think.  On trails as opposed to 70 miles of gravel and pave'.

Don't tell Bill Nye, but I'm bringing the Vertigus.  He'll be on that couch cushion of a bike of his.  I've yet to have the 3.0 Chronicle west of the White Water Center here in Charlotte.  I want to know what 29X3.0 at 13PSI can do in the real world.  Too lazy to swap from a Charlotte friendly gear for one day... gonna practice pushing my bike in order to get ready for the Double Dare.

Expect many images of Bill Nye standing next to his bike doing nothing interesting on Monday.

Wednesday, September 17

Looking forward from the side

Things are as they should be.  Pisgah Monster Cross checked off the to-do list.  Two year old patch finally sewn onto my travel courier satchel.

Level achieved!
Now all I have to do is get the Double Dare officially finished, and I won't have much more to-do list to do.  As far as the King of Pisgah Series goes, I dropped like a pumice stone (not quite as fast as a normal stone), from 5th to 7th, woulda been further had Sam Evans not dropped out due to illness.  Sorry, Sam.

Gravel cycle racing is such a cruel mistress on the SS, and all those shifty competitors hurt me due to this (fair) rule:

"Points are awarded based on overall race results of each race, including non-series participants."

So all those people in front of me... 49 of them to be exact, they all hurt me, none more mentally than these two that kept me from leapfrogging ahead a couple more points:

 Had my head been in the game, I shoulda yelled "KING OF PISGAH POINTS ON THE LINE!  OUT OF THE WAY!!  YOU MAY COST ME MY 6TH PLACE AND YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LIKE THE NUMBER 6!!!"

Brad Cobb, Captain Morgan and Scott Rusinko all got ahead of me in the points, Scott a somewhat reachable three points (coulda been one, unnh) away.  I don't think I'll get those spots back... unless the weather is PERFECT at Double Dare AND I'm somehow convinced to shoot for something more than just a finish.   Fewer participants, smaller gaps in placings, harder to move up in the points... but on the bright side, just as hard to fall down.

Hey now.  Tab Tollett (right in the above picture) races for Motor Mile Racing, Brad Cobb races for Motor Mile... I've been conspired against all along.*

Another thing back to how it should be?

Muh bike.  3.0 Chronicle back up front, 2.35 Ikon in the rear.  Thomson drooper post still inserted in the proper hole.  I said I was going to take it off after PMC, but honestly I'm having a hard time parting ways with this technological wünder.  Everything just feels so right about this, so much so that I can't wait to "race" the 2015 Trans-Sylvania Epic (registration is live BTW) with this exact setup.  I'm loving the 29+... to the point where I'm fat-curious.  SRSLY.  I probably won't do anything about it, more due to apathy and preconceived notions than a lack of desire to part with funds.

I need to go to Outerbike and ride fat-bikes until I decide I totally hate them.  The plane ticket would be much cheaper than the money I'd lose trying to sell off my three month old, used fat bike.

*Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, I don't actually care that much about where I place in the KOP.  I know I'm not top three material, and those are the places that matter... although I do really like getting sixth place when I can't get on the podium.

And before I can let it go...

Jens is going for the hour record tomorrow.  You can watch it live assuming you're into watching Dizzy Dizzy Hamster (brought to you by Trek, making a better image for itself since yesterday) for a sixty minutes.  You know how I feel about him already.

Seriously.  Anyone who can pull the Sergeant Schultz "I see nothing" bullshit after being so deep up in it?  I don't get it.  To make matters worse, there's this:

I would love to say I made that list up... I didn't.  I woulda added some Enya for sure.

Allow me to cleanse your palate.