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Monday, August 31

Working on my core

Saturday evening, I had a few minutes before I needed to head out the door for the evening, so I thought I'd be smart and get my bike ready for a ride the next morning.

The first time I've touched the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 since washing the Breck Epic off of it.

Lube, air... that's all.

Go to put air in the front tire with the compressor.  Air flow is slow.  It's been like that.  My presta valve needs maintained.

Maintained?

Yeth.  Sealants, trying to do their job and seal holes, can gunk up the works.  The internals of a presta valve are quite simple, but so easily gunked.

When you remove the valve core, you have this:

If you run tubeless wheels and haven't ever taken out your valve core or didn't know it could even come out or don't have a valve core removal tool or tiny crescent wrench, equip yourself and learn this process.  It takes the same amount of mechanical skill that is required to flick a light switch.

Anyways, to get to the heart of the problem, you need to tear it down further.

You need to get a pair of pliers on the squished part, grab the easy to lose part with another set of pliers, and turn the recalcitrant bit off the top.  It doesn't want to come off, but it will.

Once apart, you'll see all the sealant on the shitty part and inside the tubish part.  Pick, poke, stab, rub... whatever it takes.  Get rid of it. Once everything is gunk free, reassemble and check to see if the easy to lose part will back off the threaded, formally shitty part too easily.  If so, give it a little squish with your pliers and check it again.  Repeat until the easy to lose part doesn't come off in your fingers.

Of course, you could just throw all this away and replace it for $2.

Why bother doing all this (aside from no longer getting frustrated trying to air up your tires for a ride)?

If you happen to burp a tire or get a puncture that you either intend to plug or do the shaky wheel dance trying to get your sealant to do it's job, you want to get as much air in there as fast as possible.  Reducing your air flow drastically with a gunked up valve is frustrating and stupid, like watching a Republican Primary Debate.

Of course, all this maintenance is easier said than done.  I refer to the one piece as the "easy to lose part" because as I was rebuilding the front valve core, I dropped it.  I did the "whole stand still in my tracks, listen, and track the movement across the floor" thing. I eventually found it after some crawling around on the floor and squinting at a bug's eye level.

Also of course, when I decided to do the rear valve core while I was at it, I told myself, "Be careful this time, moron."

Nope.

It shot off even further across the room.  I stopped, listened, tried to gauge the tone and pitch of the noises made as it bounced off things of varying density and proximity.  Fuck me.

The Pie yelled down the stairs, "Are you ready yet?"

How do I even explain this? I came downstairs to perform two tasks that should have only required three to four minutes tops.  I'm now going into "hard target search" mode.


What followed was minutes of frustration, a throwing in of the towel (the trail had gone cold), the dismantling of the valve core of a very old tube I've been using as a rubber band supply, and then a few more "just a minute" moments until I had everything back together.

This all took about a half an hour, so I suggest you give yourself some time if you decide it's time to do some valve core maintenance.  Yeth, had I walked across the bike room, dug into my household toolbox, grabbed my tiny channel locks... I could have avoided most of these issues.

But they were all the way on the other side of the room.

And I was le tired.

Tuesday, August 25

It's coming!

It feels like Christmas and cross are coming all at once.   Like Christcrossmas or something.

I only have 25 days left of potential "training" and "racing."

Of course, by "training," I do not mean following some sort of preconceived plan with structure and regularity with which one might achieve desired physical results.   Just minutes where I ride for something other than pleasure, transportation and occupation.

Other than today, because yesterday I was still le tired.  Hopefully 9+ hours of sleep will fix that (although it hasn't worked yet).

"Racing," meaning two more events that are long enough that I really don't wanna just bullshit my way through them; The Shenandoah Mountain 100 and (more than likely) the Revenge of the Rattlesnake.  Yeah, the Revenge is the same weekend as the Fool's Gold 50/100.  Whatever.  Something different and supposedly West Virginia technical, which I think is "fun."

No Double Dare, Swank, Couch Potato, Wilkes 100K (canceled anyways).... whatever else.  I think.

So maybe I might end up having to bullshit my way through something. 

The timing is perfect to cease all morning bonus rides anyways.  Actually, about a month late.  My quiet suburban streets are now bustling with distracted parents taking their kids to school, child-zombies walking to their stops with screens alight in front of their faces... my favorite time of year.  I fill my hate energy cells daily.

When I was a kid, I stood outside and waited for the bus... like forever.  I couldn't see it coming over the hill through the plastic enshrouded window at the west end of the mobile home in time to run down the forty foot long hallway to the backdoor (the front door was also covered in plastic) and get down the football field driveway before the driver would beep and run.  So I stood out there, every Ohio winter, in the dark, on the side of Route 6... with my coat unzipped... because I wasn't stupid?

I woulda killed for Angry Birds... or a window I could see through and a front door through which I could exit the mobile home.  It's good to want things.  Builds character.

Most importantly, I finally got around to doing what I promised myself would be done before the "season," update my iPod music for the first time in three years.

What kind of music?

Both kinds.  Country and Western music






Monday, August 24

Birfday not Recovery Day

As far as my recovery and regaining some kind of fitness goes, I would have been best served by staying as close to the couch as possible on Saturday and maybe kick-starting the "new me" on Sunday.

But that wasn't happening.

Zac's girlfriend, Kate (and others), had orchestrated quite the elaborate 30th birthday surprise for him that involved much riding about town and trail and beer... all day long.


So up and out of the house I went on the By:Stickel... because we were headed to the Backyard Trails, and I thought the 150mm fjork would come in handy... on like two or three jumps.  Under-geared and rubberedly shod for the mountains be damned, I pedaled over, prepared to see my house some time later that evening.  Hooray. 

I'm on time at the trail head... by that, I mean early.

As expected, things start late.

Quite the showing, with Zac, Kürdt, Leef, Scott, Paw, Nik, Colin, Chris, Joey... a regular Faster Mustache and super friends ride.  We ride and play... birthday boy, unaware.

Trails and tech loop foot-down fest to jump clinic...

photo cred: Nik
photo cred: Kürdt
I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull's ass, and I can also learn how to jump by watching bikes fly over my head.

Anyways, now we're late.  Get over to Sir Ed's, eat Nick "The Face of Chaos" Barlow's leftover hangover burger...

photo cred: Chris
put other things in my mouth, off towards The Spoke Easy...

Beer...

photo cred: Dred
 and off and to the Common Market...

photo cred: Kürdt
More beer and off to Noda something something...

Where Kate does the surprise thing and "ices" her birthday boyfriend.

photo cred: Jess
And then to Zac's place for beer and food and things...

photo cred: Merrill
I stuck around for as long as I could hold out and still ride home at least part way with the Gentle Ginger.  Unwilling to acknowledge the BRIDGE OUT thing and take the detour... because... cross is coming.

I've been exhausted and wished I coulda went on into that good night.  As it was, I went home, drank what seemed like nineteen glasses of water, ate much apple crisp and sundrious other random things that looked good (The Pie went to that place where they sell the food).  I slept in late on Sunday and did as little as possible, hoping to feel like 90% me/10% ass (for a 46 year old) starting today.

Cross may be coming, but the Shenandoah Mountain 100 is more comier.

BTW:  That birfday bonanza was a beautiful thing, and I'm glad I was there even if it made me more dead.

Friday, August 21

Push it off until next week

Wednesday morning, my fitness be like:

It peeked out from under the duvet of fatigue for just a moment.  A sprint towards a changing light, one that I would have normally pulled back on.  Made it with time to spare.  It hurt tho.  I still felt it, but I could finally feel some sort of benefit from racing 200+ miles and climbing 40,000 feet at altitude.

Probably just all the popcorn I've been eating.

Thursday, I woke up at 5:30AM for an early smash-and-grab junk miles session.  First one since before I left for Breck Epic.

Did you know the sun doesn't come out until @7:00AM now?

Oh.

Anyways, felt like slight pooh.  Empty pooh.  Eggs, veggies and Sierra Nevada the night before was not enough to fuel the fire.  This is where a coach would be handy.  Or logic.

Last night's Dirty Easy Ride turned into a fail bail on my part, and a random sighting of Bill Nye on the way home became stop for a beer at The Spoke Easy, which became two, and then three, and then a rain storm...

and four.

I think I'll start being more of an "athlete" next week.

And now, your Wadsworthless Moment of Zen

Late edit:  Bill Nye had an interesting ride home last night...



Bill Nye the Self-Stitching Guy

Wednesday, August 19

Like crawling out of one primordial ooze and into another

Crap.

Pretty sure only Tim Brezsnyak has more of these than me.  Bastard.  Take a year off, plan on being "that guy" who finishes every Trans-Sylvania Epic, crash out... lifetime of regret for not going the other way.  Thanks, Tim.  Still the only rigid single speed asshole to have six buckles.  Eat that.

I swear, coming back from a stage race is always complicated, the Breck Epic always more so.  I figure I've done somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30 stage races by now, and the Breck Epic is at the top of the list for most disorienting return ever.

I've got a pile of fitness, but it's buried under a mountain of fatigue.  The first day at work is always so strange.

"Why do I come here?"

"How do I do my job?"

"Do I actually do this every day?"

I told myself all week that the 2015 Breck Epic would be my last one for awhile, yet a few days later, I'm thinking about going back.  I know at least two people from North Carolina already expressing interest in racing next year... dammit.

Not sure who put this on my white board while I was gone.  Prolly my son, The Boy.  If so, I feel so much pride right now.

Anyways...

Even more confuzzling is coming back to an empty house.  No family, no dogs... just a hamster and a foster guinea pig.  I've gone from an environment of constant stimulation to one of solitary confinement.  I'm anxious to get back to "training," but honestly I can feel the lead in my legs on the way to and from work.  My metabolism is jacked up, and I'm eating all the things all the time.  And beer still tastes good.

Gravity feels different.  The air is thicker.  My brain, foggier.  So weird to start the day not fueling myself to go over a mountain pass or two in the next few hours.

I figure I'll be back to normal human status before the end of the week.  A pile of chores that need done (bike related and bill paying son of a bitch stuff) should pull me back down to earth in time for my family's return and going back to putting in extra miles for at least another month to get me through the rest of the "season."

Hey, why not mention three relatively useful things I really liked using at the Breck Epic.

That tire.  The Maxxis Ardent Race 3C/EXO/TR.   It weighs more than a hundred grams more than the Ikon 2.2 I usually run, but damn if it doesn't hook up on the loose shit way better.  I was climbing the bejeebus outta the trail.  Worth the weight penalty... although I wish they just made a 3C/EXO sans TR (would be lighter), because who really pays attention to "Tubeless Ready" things?

That rim.  The NOX Farlows (built up on the Industry Nine Torch platform) have been stellar, allowing me to drop some pressure and eat up dem bumps. 

A few scratches, but not one ding... as a matter of fact, all that Breck gnar (and two days of TSE rocks and other rides in between) and I still haven't heard one rim strike.  Not one.  At 16+ and 21+ PSI (front/rear).

That strap.  The Super 8 Strap from Backcountry Research.   I saw so many dropped (full) gel packs, hats, gloves, knee warmers, arm warmers... you name it.  Why?  People shoving too much stuff in their pockets and then dropping shit while trying to sort through it all blindly behind their backs.  Dumm.  I was sticking all the excess (or emergency) clothing in the strap with the only thing in my pockets being, mustard, a Tülbag, and a couple gels (from left to right).  I never had to deal with overstuffed pockets, and I never dropped a thing. 

Success.  Dare I say I'm "looking forward" to the Shenandaoh Mountain 100?

Prolly not.  Almost three weeks to go.  Anything could happen to bring sads between now and then.

Tuesday, August 18

Breck Epic: Stages 3 - 6.5... and then off the rails

By the time I got to Stage Four, I'd been all over the place as far as "preparation."  Not drinking beer after 6:00PM, only drinking beer after 6:00PM, drinking beer whenever... the only thing I was consistently doing was eating a large egg sammich every morning and tortellinis the rest of the day (with Peanut M&M supplementation throughout).  I was not looking forward to the fourth stage, as for some reason, I only have bad memories of the whole thing...

The switchback cliff that if I fall off the side, I will most certainly land on a house in the valley below, Vomit Hill, the rock-festooned double track climb, the finish line that never comes quickly enough....

but it was different that day.
photo cred: Ffej W Knar
Maybe it was the donuts handed out by Devon Balet and his crew.  It could have been the beautiful weather.  Perhaps I just didn't feel like butt, and when I hit the rocky, double track climb that I've dreaded ever since the first year I saw it, I was on my game.   Instead of pushing up parts of it, I rode the whole thing.  

It was probably the donut.

  photo cred: Des
4:25, 26th place Solo Men 40+

I even managed to beat Aaron Albright right on the last climb of the day, putting one more "rider I should never beat, but if they have a bad day..." on the defeated list.   Cherished moments.

Stage Five, the infamous Wheeler stage.  We'd been skipping meetings, because we're terrible people... and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is always on Netlflix.  Looking at the map handout, it was apparent that the Wheeler stage had seen some changes.  It looked shorter... easier.  Until Bill Nye the Mountaineer Guy pointed out all the ridges, gaps, mountains, and valleys.   Shorter... but much harder.

After the smoothest staged start in Breck Epic history, we were on the upside of Wheeler in no time.  And then a long hike-a-bike... and down the other side of Wheeler... and then an abrupt right hand turn over to Mount Gotdammit.
photo cred: Breck Epic/Liam Doran
It was as Bill Nye had explained.  Up and over and up and over more and more things.

 photo cred: Karen Jarchow
It was an incredible kick in the nuts... one that had many riders at the end of the day calling it "the hardest day on a bike ever."

Dunno.  I've had worse. 

We missed out on one of my favorite descents of all time with the route change, but in exchange, I got a new one to add to my top ten for sure.

  photo cred: Des
1.5 miles from the finish, I passed a guy kinda sprawled out on a gravel road, blood all over various parts of him, handlebar snapped off on one side.  I went back up to him, and he wasn't looking too awesome.  I checked my computer for the time, since it looked like I'd be here for awhile.  12:05.

He had a huge gash over one eye, helmet dented in, skin missing from his arm, shoulder and leg.  Vomit (almost, from me).  He tried to stand up.  Fail.  Didn't know what day it was.  Another rider came along and went for help.  The medic made his way up pretty quick (on a loaded fat bike), and at 12:10, I rolled off towards the finish.

I came across the line, told them about the incident and the four minutes I spent with the injured rider (like we'd been told to do in meetings past).

"Thanks for that" was all I got... so whatever.  Hard to get too emotional when you're sitting so far off the podium.  Just a sting to the vanity meats after attacking so hard on the last mile climb before the finish... for nothing.  Oh well, I had a great day riding (and pushing) my bike. 

4:06, 28th place Solo Men 40+

Stage Six... not generally one of my favorites.  No good reason to hate it.  Prolly the "only one stage to go beers" the night before.  Anyways, another well-staged start and before I knew it, I was in good company on the first climb.

photo cred: Des
Over to Gold Dust, the 13-14.5MPH spin either up or down it (I can't tell which it is), into Doldrum Valley, and then back up to Boreas Pass.  I climbed surprisingly well, passed a ton of people, including some riders I had no business being in front of, into the trails back to town... an exciting pass or two or five (one that may have involved riding right down a rocky creek) to my best finish of the week.

2:37, 26th place Solo Men 40+

A beer at the finish line, a resolve to not start drinking at the end of the stage ignored.  Beer at the condo, more with lunch, more with Brad Keyes, margaritas at Vince's Silver Bullet... all before heading to the banquet, where food was not on my menu.

Then things like this:

photo cred: Des
and this:

photo cred: Dan Durland
and this:

photo cred: Bill Nye
and then I took an arrow to the knee... or a wadded up dinner napkin to the eye, which made me more blind than I had been with my pure alcohol diet since 3:00PM, so I ended up missing the Stage 7 after party.  Meh.

photo cred: Andrea Wilson
I then had to keep my eye shut for the next 36 or so hours, refused to go to the urgent care when The Pie picked me up from the airport, spent the next day watching movies with one or two eyes, and by the end of the night, I had eaten one normal human meal, a mixing bowl of pop corn, a package of Swiss cheese, and a pound of lunch meat washed down with five beers.

And I still ended up feeling that way that I do.

Tomorrow.

Monday, August 17

Breck Epic 2015, Sinking Back into the Fold

Here's the thing.  Most of the time, a race report is some kinda blow-by-blow regurgitation of a day in the saddle.  At least as well as I can remember it.  I just don't see my experience at the Breck Epic this year that way.

I haven't been there to "race" ever since my first year in 2009.  Back then, I was still delusional, believing that "racing" over 10,000 feet wouldn't affect me.  It does.  Some years more than others, but it always takes me down a notch or two (or five). 

But the Breck Epic is still such a wonderful experience.  The views, trails, mountains, rivers, weather... everything.  I'm there to hang out with long distance friends that I generally only see in Breckenridge.  I'm also there to just hang out with whomever I'm staying with and enjoy their company as we share our experiences every night, as if I'm getting four days of action for the price of one.  Commiserating every evening with Bill Nye and Andrea about their day in the saddle and finding out what Nick "The Face of Chaos" Barlow (not racing) got into that day?  It was as good, if not better, than experiencing it for the sixth time myself, their eyes, brains, lungs and legs all new to the whole thing.

Stage One to me was a bit of the same old, same old.  I mighta made my one and only "dick move" pass of the week early on, because even though I'm not necessarily racing, I had no desire to spend more time out there than I had to.  I think the most excited I got was when I was side-by-side with Yuri Hauswald (racing his SS in the 3 day Open Men) late enough in the race to feel cocky.  I felt less cocky when he put ten minutes into me before the finish.

3:44 on the bike, 31st of 86 in Solo Men 40+ 

 photo cred: Des
We got some weather for Stage Two, strangely enough, the same stage that Peter and I (racing duo) had to ride in the rain back in 2013.  I had a dream the night before that I had been hit by lightning, so it was even more exciting for me when hail started pummeling us at 11,500+ feet, and I could hear the roar of thunder in the distance.  I was glad that my friends who were experiencing their first Breck Epic were getting a good taste of high country weather.   Just one more incredible part of the whole thing that no one should miss out on.  I did a terrible job on the nutrition front, only choking back 1.25 bottles of Carborocket Half Evil, a gel, and one banana...

4:02, 41st place Solo Men 40+.  I was an empty shell of a man by the time I crossed the finish line.  A dumb, empty shell.

I decided that since I treated my body like absolute shit the day before, I would try fueling myself however I could for Stage Three.  I didn't care if I had to stop in order to drink or eat, there was no way I was gonna push myself for four hours on one and a half hours worth of nutrition (again).  Also, one of my favorite descents of all time is about two thirds of the way into the day.  I wanted to come in feeling on the ball, so I ate my way around the course and up the two giant hike-a-bikes.

The down on the Colorado Trail did not disappoint, the climb out did (as always), but I felt much better having actually taken care of myself.

4:31, 32nd place Solo Men 40+

Highlight of the day?  Washing my bike right after the stage... and then meeting Jonathan Davis (92Fifty/Elevated Legs) for the first time IRL and having a chance to hang out with Brad Keyes (Carborocket).  I use both of their products with regularity, and they've both made a big impact on how I feed myself (when I remember to) and recover.  They also gave me beer... which is nice.

 photo cred: Karen Jarchow
Beer doesn't help with recovery, but... whatever.

More tomorrow....