Monday, August 31, 2015

Show me mean face

Doesn't really matter how much you trained for SM100, you still have to line up next to Qwadsworth, or behind Qwadsworth, or within earshot of Qwadsworth, or within view of his enormous legs, and that will pretty much make you act like this:

It's a little disconcerting.  But it's just the nature of racing bikes.  There's one start line for all of us.

After that, though, you're in won't have to see him again.  So settle in as soon as you can, try to get a sammich early, and hold back the panic until you really need it, which is right at Aid #5 when that pizza is looking at you as much as you're looking at it.  (Don't let it touch you.)

Remember: You have done the training.  You have a plan.  Just go out, execute it, and have fun.  And try not to ride using your face.

The good news is that the Hurricane that never was, Erika, has pretty much mailed it in, and the weather in Stokesville on Sunday looks downright perfect.  For most of us, this is good news, but I'm actually a little disappointed simply because I liked my man C-ham's odds of winning the whole thing in an outright Hurricane.  Like a huge night ride, but darker.  But I guess his loss is the rest of our gain.

I've written at length in the past about SM100 week, and how it changed my life a decade ago, and how much it means to me and what not, so I won't rehash that here, but rest assured I'm in full on nostalgia mode.

This will be my 10th MTB 100 mile race.  That's 7 SM100, 2 W101s, and 1 Cohutta.  You'd think after all those miles I'd have something useful to say about it, advice or whatever, but no, indeed, I have very little other than this:

Get to the finish.  It's worth it.  

See you Sunday.

Up, up, up.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hundo Training

The Denial Twist.  
Get Behind Me Satan.  
SM100 words to live by, so belt 'em out: "I'm ready."

Not much else to say, besides that.  Maybe some photos to fill it out a little, a Bob Anderson sighting, then I'm off to hydrate, taper, and obsess about tire selection.  

Giddyup, up, up.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Out with the Old, In with the King.

Tom Danielson, all up in the news last week, trying to gum up the glory of the Tour of Utah with some filth.  Before this, I'd actually put Tommy D. about half a rung up on the scumbag ladder of my moral compass from Hesjedal, but it turns out maybe I was giving him too much credit.   Naturally, they tossed him and resumed racing.  What else can you do?

Tommy D still has a right to have his B sample tested, and given the fight he's put up so far, I envision him denying this one out right until the bitter end.  That's fine.  The system affords him that right, and honestly no one really cares if he did or didn't dope this time around simply because the net results of the whole thing was so profoundly good; that when you get rid of the old dopers who continue to mire the otherwise beautiful potential of the sport - rightly or wrongly doesn't matter - the genuine, youthful talent finally gets a chance to bubble up to the top.

And bubble right up they do.  
When you get right down to it, drugs can be effective, but there are certain things - genuine toughness for example - that cannot be ingested, injected, shoved up your ass, or otherwise bought:
There's no pill for that.  
Good week to be a Virginian.  Proud of those guys.

In a way, I hope Tommy D's B sample comes back clean, just so it can be even more obvious that it doesn't matter why he needs to go, only that it's time.

Into the darkness, I say.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  We'll get there just fine without you.

Up, up, up.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pleasure on Credit

Because until there's a cheap route to immortality, there's pleasure on credit.

A few photos from the Blue Moon Night ride.

Up, up, up...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It Is Never Too Late

Bill Marcum introduced me to The Hold Steady on a spring trip to Moab back in 2003.  Just the two of us.  It was a big group trip that didn't quite pan out for everyone else involved, and the day before we were to leave it was just the two of us left with the ability to unplug all our stuff, drive 6 hours from Boulder to Moab, and ride our faces off for the entire weekend.  We were an unlikely pair - Bill was 44 I think at the time, and I was 25, so generationally we were in different worlds, but we both said, screw it, if you're still in, I'm still in, and so we went to Moab together, just the two of us.  I think I drove.

We stopped and rode The Ribbon outside of Grand Junction, a huge slickrock expanse about 3,000 feet above Junction that turns into some hairy single track, maybe the last time I rode the Ribbon actually, and when we got back to the car Bill put The Hold Steady's "Almost Killed Me" CD into my stereo and we drove the final hour out to Moab to camp.

He explained The Hold Steady to me succinctly "It's like half beat poetry and half rock n roll.  He's not quite singing, but he's not exactly just screaming at you either."

Bill and I went on some pretty wild night rides together back then.  Nederland.  Moab.  The first time I raced the 24 hours of Winter Park, it was with Bill.  At 3 AM, he didn't arrive back from his lap on time, and I remember being sort of worried about him, but not really.  He was a tough old bastard, the kind that Colorado makes.  And when he finally rolled back into camp around dawn, his lights were completely shot, and he had all kinds of leaves and debris sticking out of his helmet, wild eyed, clearly having just undergone some kind of adventure in the dark that he couldn't quite articulate.  "I don't think they counted that lap," he surmised.

It's no coincidence, I don't suppose, that I still crank up The Hold Steady as loud as I can when I drive somewhere to night ride.  The wild eyed adventure in the dark that Bill was capable of at 44 years-old is something I still aspire to, now more than ever.

Interestingly, around this same time, Bill confided in me that he didn't think he had too many years of mountain biking left in him.  It was all beginning to take a toll on his body.  Again, this was 2003 or so, and Bill rode a steel Rocky Mountain blizzard hardtail with disc brakes.  The beating that a bike like that delivered to a man's 44 year old skeleton while riding the ranches of the front range - White, Hall, Heil, Walker, etc - was adding up.  We'd just finished riding White Ranch, coming down the old version of Mustang with all the drops, and he was patching up his knee in the parking lot.  Indeed, at current course and speed, there was no way he would be riding singletrack in Colorado much past 50.

Flash forward a dozen years to today.  Bill is, by my estimation, 56 years old.  And he's still riding singletrack in Colorado.  Conveniently, the bike industry made some pretty enormous strides in those 12 years, and replacing that 26 inch steel hardtail with a full suspension 29er that pretty much runs over anything without too much fuss has delivered Bill an extra two decades of riding, probably more.  I talked to him just the other day, and he said he's actually riding better now than he has in a long time, maybe ever.  If you could summarize all of the engineering, technology, materials, vision, time, money, effort, and everything else that the Bike industry has undergone in the past decade - the good stuff, anyway - and define it all in one user experience, it would be Bill dropping down Mustang a couple times/week all summer long and having more fun than ever.

That's the very nature of this grand night ride that we're all on together, this riding bikes and living life thing, and maybe more that: It Is Never Too Late.
On that note: The Blue Moon night ride is this Friday, 7/31.  Departing from Flo Lakes at 630 PM, heading South by SouthEast for a loop of Rocky Hollow and then back.  As lollipops go, I think this one is a solid five hours on mountain bikes, 100% delicious.

Get in touch with me if you're into it, need directions, need a ride, etc.  I'll be leaving my house at 6, by car, with The Hold Steady cranked all the way up, up, up.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Darkness On The Edge of Town

Sometimes you just need a little bit of the Boss, you know?
You know.
And a night ride, or some single track out of all this sun.

So, the Chimney Chase was a scorcher.  Even on the start line, sweating like a toilet when the AC quits and it's 90 degrees already at 10 am, it was already obvious that 3 laps around Walnut Creek was going to be a bit of a death march - like the kind where you might actually die.  I don't make the "it's like vietnam" simile very often, because I know it's insensitive, and there are people who were actually in Vietnam, fighting for their lives against an unseen enemy and so forth, and I feel awful that happened just a generation ago, but Walnut Creek when it's that hot and humid, your buddies falling out all over the trail around you, and a decidedly jungle-like feel, I may have muttered such a comparison.  Sparingly, yes.  But, Vietnamish, if I can say that.

Results will be up online shortly, unless the very numbers themselves melted, which is possible.

Stupid sun, giver of life.  Why must you be so hot?

So let's get away from all of that then.  No night riding planned this week, but Friday night next week, July 31, is the Blue Moon.  Seeking some Darkness on the edge of Town.  The plan is to depart Flo Lakes at 630, single track our way southward, hit the wonderful steeps of Rocky Holler under the cover of darkness, and then return back to Flo Lakes by ? .  Emphasis on ?.  I'm not actually sure how much time this endeavor will take.  Looking at a map, it doesn't appear to be that far.  Rolly.  Trending downhill.  Something tells me it'll be like 5 hours on the bike.  If that doesn't strike your Friday nightride fancy, maybe just meet us at the Holler at 8 for the portion of the route that doesn't require a swim/portage of the Rivanna.  And if you need the coordinates for any of this, by all means, holler.

Above all else, stay cool.  And if you can't stay cool, at least act cool.  See also, The Boss:
Up, up, up.