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:


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.

Tuesday, September 16

Fallout from the Pisgah Monster Cross

When I woke up in my car at whatever dark o'clock on Sunday morning, I felt as if someone had stuffed my mouth with desiccant packets.  I fished around for a water bottle that I knew was somewhere up front and made a mental checklist of my belongings that I felt could be anywhere.  My bike and cooler were on the other side of the bridge at the campsite, but my camera, helmet, glasses, raincoat and commuter light?  I guess I need to go back to sleep until the sun comes out and reassess the situation.

7:00AM.  Up.  Find my helmet on the ground with my glasses (minus one lens), find my lens, remember that I left my raincoat at the start finish, dig through my messenger bag and find my light and camera.  Good enough.  Hobble back to the car and head home to deal with this... again.

Cracked the callous on the bottom of my left foot.  First time it went this deep in 2014.  Ouch.

Bob Moss, not a fan of having his picture taken with non-podium single speeders.

I knew that the race was going to be fast, as in pegged for 4.5-5 hours for me.  It wasn't until I was on my way to work yesterday that I started thinking about average speeds.  Had to pull out my iPhone and calculate.

14.8 MPH average or so.  Interesting.  Painful considering this:

Thanks, Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever... you and your chicken.

For those that say there is no "party atmosphere" at the Pisgah Monster Cross, I say you must not have brought your own.

There until the final racers crossed the line and then some.  Plenty to drink and all you can eat.

The Simrils stayed around long enough for Brenda to be the last podium occupier to leave the premises.

Eventually, things got torn down, and it was time to head around the corner to the White Pines group campground...

Where one must answer me these questions three ere the other side he/she see, as queried by the naked bridge troll.

Shanna, always a supporter of single speeders big and small, helped Nick wash the shame of his defeat away.

I spent most of the rest of the night on the ground.

I use the phrase "rest of the night" a little too loosely, as I was in my car sleeping around 10:00PM.  After being up at 4:30AM, drinking 32oz of coffee on the way to the race, 12oz of beer right before the start, 44oz of Carborocket Half Evil and 10oz of Gatorade during the race, and then starting in on the beer at 12:45PM... I felt like this by the time I went to bed.

I had a great time, and now I have a month to get over my sore knees.  Oh yeah, it was chilly on the Parkway, what with the 40MPH+ descents and elevation.  I didn't cover my knees.  Not smart for an old dog like me.  I know better... I just don't "do" better.

Monday, September 15

2014 Pisgah Monster Cross

My heart rate is already around 185BPM around 4:55AM.  This is probably because I realize I'm hydroplaning down I85, watching my speedometer go from 65 to 85 MPH in a second.  I guess I'll slow down.

Get to the campsite, grab my bike, go-bag and emergency beer.  Head to the start.  Sign-in takes seven seconds.  I have an hour to kill.

Get dressed, drink one Busch beer, do little that could be considered useful or beneficial.

Line up late when we're called to the start and get a spot maybe a third of the way back in the field and next to my nemesis, Nick (insert nickname of the day here) Barlow.  He's swapped to smaller tires since I last saw him.  Damn.

Go.  I amble out of the start.  I'm with a group that isn't trying to be in the teeth of the aggressive neutral roll-out.  I give it enough to get with the back of the lead group.  I can see Bob Moss way out in front of everyone, making the turn onto the live course in the overall lead.  Shit gets real.

People are flying by me on the flat portion of 477.  A few single speeders go by, using their taller gears and little tires to fly past.  Some guy I don't know, Chris Joice, Scott Smith, and eventually when the climbing starts... Nick.  I keep him in sight, and when we get to the top of the climb, he reaches down to drink.  I attack.  He won't keep up on the descent.  I'm cheating with my big tires, low PSI and drooper.  Goodbye... or see you later.  I guess we'll see.

Down to the pavement on 276.  I put in some efforts and get to the rolling gravel of 1206.  I reel Scott and Chris back in.  I hear a rattle.  Brake line banging on the back of my number plate?  No.  Look again.  My caliper is falling off.  I stop and confirm.  Meh.

Back on the bike, I pull out my Tülbag, ignore the rattling until I get my 5mm in my teeth, and pull over to fix it.  Tight but rubbing the rotor now.  Better than falling off, getting wrapped up in my wheel and killing me, I guess.

photo cred: Rob Coulter
All of Team Dicky showed up for the race.

There's some more back and forth with Scott and Chris.  Where their gears and skinny tires are working for them, they put the hurt on me.  When those things matter less, I bury myself to take full advantage of my reduced disadvantage.  Skip the first aid station and I heap up towards the Parkway ahead of both of them, by my reckoning, in third place single speed.

On the gravel climb up Wash Creek Road, I notice that the sweat pouring from my helmet is brown.  100 miles of Shenandoah dripping into my eyes like a swamp water bucket challenge.  I coulda cleaned my helmet.  I didn't.  Some pointless back and forth with someone who didn't seem to want to ride behind me but not go faster than I needed to go... made my head hurt more than my legs.

The Parkway is hell with my squishy fat tires.  I've had to pee for the last hour.  I skip the second aid station but stupidly come off the Parkway to pointlessly roll through it.  Doh.  More climbing.  I ask a fellow rider for information I know I probably don't wanna hear.

"We're only at mile forty... still have to climb up through Graveyard Fields."

Shit.  I've been up there before, ironically with Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever.  I am now sad.  Good time to stop and pee.  Five minutes later, Chris Joice rolls by on his cross bike thing.  Bastard.  There is not enough gravel descending left for my bike to be an advantage.  I'm now more sad.

Down the pavement of 215, my knobs making a noise I've never heard before.  The pitch and rhythm changing as I lean into the corners at some speed I'm not comfortable with.  At the bottom of 215... The Hub/Pisgah Tavern aid station.

Jordan points out the quesadillas.  I shit my pants.  I shove half of one in my face before I see the guacamole.  My pants are shatten once more.  I plunge the remaining half of quesadilla into the bowl and abscond away with enough guacamole to feed a small village.  I don't care what happens from here on out.  My life is perfect.

Up the back of Gloucester Gap.  I don't ever remember being here before, but I probably have.  It's steep towards the end which would explain why if I had been here before, my brain was blocking the memory.  Once at the top, the long cakewalk begins.

Knowing that the SS'ers pushing bigger gears with smaller tires would be able to take minutes out of me here, I turn myself inside-out pumping like a sewing machine.  The finish was in sight, a couple riders closing in... too fast to be on single speeds.

They close the gap, make the pass, take the left turn into the finish, get to the three cyclocross barriers right in front of me... and then decide to walk over them, celebrating, me stuck behind their smiling selves.

 I consider throwing my bike, but then I remember this is cross and one should only throw beer.

Yeah, fourth place SS.  Just off the box.  The rain started coming down hard right after I finished...

and with a good eight to nine hours left to drink and a seemingly endless supply of beer, I'd say I won.

photo cred: Shop Kitty
And I beat Nick... so there's that.

He tried to blame his loss on an infected nose piercing.

That and his inability to ride bicycles very fast.

More things and stuff tomorrow.

Friday, September 12

My ass is like a tube of circus peanuts

Today is a good day.  Yesterday was just okay.

Of course on the day that I decide to ride the coaster brake bike, I'm busier than I have been in a long time.

Things that sucked:

Riding plastic flat pedals in a pair of Sanuks.

There's a reason that cycling shoes are stiff.  I used many muscles throughout the course of the day that are normally dormant getting in order to get this bike up and moving... speaking of moving.

This "bike" is a scientific anomaly.  Although the whole thing weighs less than 24lbs, the wheels and tires alone weigh 30lbs.  At least that's what it felt like when I was accelerating or climbing.  Yet despite their weight, they had no inertia.  Amazing.  Like a black hole that gravitationally pulls all my effort into a dark void of nothing.

Coming to a stop AND doing a track stand at the light.  Truly a skill to master.  Unless you've tried this feat on a coaster brake bike, don't judge me.  It's quite an awkward sammich to eat in public.

But the bike will do what I ask of it, and I still want to make some changes before it fills its official role as grocery getter/way homer/meeting shuttle.

So glad to be back on this today:

The Fastest Bike in the World, parked upstairs in my auxiliary office in the living room.  Part of the agreement when we moved into the new place.  I didn't wanna hike up and down stairs every day with my work related items.  A trip to ReStore and Bike Source later, and this is where the other magic happens, my job thing.  The Pie is a tolerant spouse indeed.

Anyways, I finally got a new 48T ring and 17T cog.  I should be rolling crunch-free all day, just in time to stop putting in extra miles for "training" purposes.  Brilliant.

I'm also ready for the Pisgüh Moünster Croüsse tomorrow.

King of Pisgah Series number plate not shown.
Ikon 2.2 tires... because they are the smallest thing I've got.  It's called a "mountain bike," and I only own "mountain bike tires."  I'm not buying a set of 1.8 rubbers for graveling, as I have no intentions to do more graveling in the future.  The 2.2 @ 19PSI beat the ever loving crap out of me last week at the Whitewater Center.  I can't wait to get a 2.4 or 3.0 back on there, proper style.  No idea what the bike weighs with this setup, and don't care, as it will never be seen again in this livery.  And yes, the drooper is still on there, because... gravel, I mean burrito.

For now, this will do.  Up at 4:50AM tomorrow, on the road at 5:00AM, unhappily headed up FR 477 @ 8:07AM. 

One more thing of note.  I have not taken this race very seriously.  The last time I really looked at the information on the site was back in 2012...

Side note:  That was the year my elderly canine had a medical emergency as I was trying to get out the door.  Fast forward to last night.  She let out a whale sound at 3:00AM that scared the shit outta me.  I sat up and put my hand on her side... waited to see if she was still breathing.  She was.  I think she likes to fuck with me.

Anyways, I only skimmed the information about the race and put this in my head:

"The riders will be treated to some of the highest elevation sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway and over 40 miles of the toughest gravel roads Pisgah has to offer."

And for some reason, that "40 miles" part stuck in my head.  It wasn't until last week that Namrita pointed out to me that the ENTIRE race is 70 miles, a piece of information I woulda known had I read the previous sentence on the site:

Up to 200 participants will be challenged to complete a 70 mile, 11,000’ of climbing loop of gravel and paved roads."

So there you have it.  Guess I'm riding 70 miles tomorrow.

I am sad boy

Who gives a shit indeed.

Thursday, September 11

I wasn't lying

My "dream bike" I mentioned.  I meant it.

Except it's not a dream.  It's reality.  I now haz it.

I couldn't get chrome like I wanted, so the only other option that could be considered was blackity black.  It was in stock at my LBS, I went in, and bought it (after much thought and consideration and research and self-justification).  Took it home and started tearing it apart.

I would finally get to use my limited edition stainless steel Cane Creek 110 that I've been sitting on for years.

Which surprisingly wasn't noticeably heavier than the POS OEM loose ball headset that was a bear to remove.

Starting weight:

After swapping some C+ parts for some B- parts I had in various bins and boxes:

A pound and a half for $0.  Easiest weight savings ever.

Why on earth would I want this in my life?

Simple.  I've got four bikes; two blinglespeeds and two fixed gear/brakeless.  All clipless.  I wanted something I can just hop on and go.  Normal shoes and a helmet.  To the grocery store, to Faster Mustache meetings, to events of an imbibing nature.  Something I don't really care much about or have too much money invested in.  Something that, after a hard endurance race, perhaps I can go to work and still easily recover.

My only issue* now is that I have way more pairs of clipless shoes than I do normal.  All my pedestrian footwear is either sandal/flip-flop oriented or worn-out running shoes.

I'll admit, the timing of this purchase had me thinking...

So many reasons to and not to.

In the end, I think my decision has been made for me.  I've not built up a $400 bike in awhile, let alone stuck a headset probably worth half its value into it.  My other issue.*  Dat headtube.  It needs faced.  I've got binding issues past 3:00 and 9:00.  I'm gonna have to do something about it before I ride it too much...

Of course I'm riding it to work today.  I need to start learning my coaster brake track stands ASAP for the derby at SSCBWC 2015.

Sad and happy that it won't see gravel on Saturday.  Sad because it would have made a neat story, happy because I spent my medical co-pay money on a coaster brake equipped bike.

Tuesday, September 9

The One Thing I Want to See at Interbike

I ride single speeds... most of the time.  Except when I want to throw money away on a bike with gears because I forgot how it turned out last time.  So Interbike 2014... what could they possibly show me in the world of all things single speedy that might excite me?

Probably nothing.

Another crabon single speed?  Whenever my brain goes down that road, it's when I'm thinking racer boi, "how light can I go?" thoughts.

This is already enough as it is, so if I wanted to go down that road, I would.

"A visual delight..." if Tupperware gets you mad horny.

In the end, it would be just a scosche lighter than the VerDickgo, what with it being built with 95% of the same exact parts.  Any smugness derived from riding a bike that's nth lighter than my last bike would vanish as soon as I catch a glimpse of my beer gut when I walk past a mirror.  So logical thought processes bring me to the conclusion that I am not ready for a crabon bike.

I want one thing from Interbike.  Something we are already so close to, but probably years away from having.

I don't know who made it first, Giro or Specialized, but the bib shorts with built-in pockets is wicked smart.


I bought the Giro bibs.  The idea of having my shit all baggy and banging around back there in the droopy pockets on the Specialized bibs took it out of contention.

Maybe it wouldn't be that bad, but I'm all about preconceived notions.

I love mine... except for the fact that slippery items such as gels, chompy nuggets, flasks, energy bars and their like tend to be tossed out... constantly.  No issues with the Tülbag or Fonbag, as they both have Griptech fabric on one side to keep them where they belong (not on the trail).

I was able to pull off all the rides on Mancation 2014 without a pack.  ALL.  On the bigger days when we were headed above the treeline, I strapped a small raincoat to my top tube with a Mütherload™ strap.

And with six pockets available, I had space for food, a Sawyer water filter, tools, a third bottle (if I thought ground water would be scarce), a camera, extra room for knee warmers and a hat when things warmed up... everything I felt like I needed without carrying a pack on my back for hours and hours.

Slenderizing.  Bonus, but with a penalty. 

You have to wear overshorts, baggies, humbles... whatever you want to call them.  Some guys don't want to wear just riding panties.  I get it.  But when it's hot?  WTF?  I don't want them, have no need for them, and would rather leave them at home.

And these baggies with cargo pockets?  Stupid for actual mountain biking.  Your argument?  Invalid.

But the undershorts are all mesh paneled, some with a barn door (which I never knew I needed before baggies), just not meant to be worn outside ever.

Pearlizumi is joining the club in 2015.

That granola bar isn't going anywhere.

Once again, it has a fly...  intended to be worn UNDER baggies.

The are offering this in 2015:

"Pearl Izumi also has a similar concept with some of its road bibs"

Doesn't look like as many pocketesses, precious.

I think what I want makes sense.  All these crazies doing multi-day events, wanting to be pack-free, yet have so many little things handy.  People like me, who wanna ride in Pisgah in the peak of the summer, still carry a camera and food, and not have soaking wet baggies keeping the heat in.  And if you want to wear baggies, so be it.  Nothing stopping you from wearing them over my insanely practical stretchy short pants.

I don't see the downside.  Just don't.  Even the roadies would probably like something similar, on those longer rides with cooler morning temps, running out of places to stick things.

Whatever. Stupid rant.  I'm not gonna hold my breath.  Wish in one hand, shit in the other, carry wet-wipes to clean the shit off your hands in your cargo pocket.

Monday, September 8

Learning from the mistakes of others

The weekend.  What to make of it?  Too late to train for Pisgah Monster Cross or too early to taper (whatever that really means)?

I decided to do what I used to do in order to get in shape, just months after I should have.

Saturday morning.  World Championship XC racing... not too tempted to get too far from the computer screen.  I swear I heard commentator Rob Warner say something about the Norwegian fans taking the day off from raping and pillaging.  Let's here Bob Costas say something like that in 'Merica.

I didn't just sit in front of the screen.  I piddled.  Long time problem of tire storage solved.

America gets a bronze, a 27.5 wins gold, the world ends.

Eventually, it was time to get with the training program.  A stupid ride out to the stupid Whitewater Center from my stupid home, through the stupid city, out the other side, 20 something miles of trails and back.  The kinda ride that leaves me feeling like so much ass... 55-60 miles.  Uninspired.

Joining me in something that could have went solo but ended up in a team effort, Gordon and Nick "The Face of Chaos" Barlow, my Monster Cross nemesis.

I might have gotten us somewhat lost on the west side of town.   Whatever.  I never said the plan was perfect and miles is miles, a calorie is a calorie... you know the rest.

It worked.  I felt beat at the end of the ride.  Single speed mountain biking in the city sucks, and if something sucks, it must be good training for gravel racing, which also sucks.

Sunday.  World Championship DH racing.  I pay slight attention at first whilst doing more piddling.  So many wrecks from the early starters, I feel like a NASCAR fan.

Who doesn't like a train wreck now and again?

Bleeding brakes.  Serious business.  Great idea to divide one's attention while doing it.  Pretty sure I solved my sticky lever issues.

Eww... keep in mind, it looks like this when new:

I guess waiting two to three years to do it might have pushed the limits of the fluid.  On the plus side, they worked remarkably well even when abused and ignored.

Rob Warner says something about Neko Mulally breaking a chain at the top of his run.  I go back to bleeding.  At the first time check, he's a second up on first place.

I set down the syringe and sit in front of the screen.  He ends up taking the lead... no chain.  Amazingly smooth run.  I haven't been that excited watching a moment in sports in, like, forever.  At least since the Earnest Byner fumble of '87

Honestly, such a smooth run.  Transcendent.

Back to bleeding, turning around and paying attention whenever the pitch or volume of Rob Warner's voice changed, which was every four seconds.  Something about watching pro downhillers... makes me want to be a better man on an even better bike.

Gee Atherton then Rat Boy.  Much excite.  Hard to not pull for the young nutjob.  He's killing it... until he killed it.

That moment when you realize you just broke your ankle on the last jump with the finish line and a rainbow jersey in sight.  Teachable moment.  Gee wins, Rat Boy goes to the hospital.

Ewwwwww.  Better image found this morning.

Race over, brakes bled, time to wash the Shenandoah 100 and Mancation 2014 off the bikes (insert Pro Gold promotional message here).

Find out that the Mancation did some more Mandamage to my downtube.

Steel is real and all that.  I remember hearing that one hit coming down Porcupine Rim.  Oh well.

Done with all the chores and spectating, it was time for pointless training ride number two.

A thirty miles quest for sandals and underwear for work on the Boredom Killer Freedom Machine (the name might get longer every time I ride it).  I don't like road riding in general, but when it has a destination or purpose, it seems less stupid.

A quick stop at Bike Source sorta on the way home, where I purchase $0 in items, arrange to borrow some lumens for Double Dare and ride my next dream bike around the shop.

I really wanted a Santa Crus V10, but when I saw that it breaks ankles, I decided this would be molar better for me.