Monday, December 13, 2010

Kentankistan on 12/18 and the Scrubby Gloves Dichotomy

This post is really about Kev29er, but to set the stage I need to talk about me first. So settle in; I'll get around to 9er.

Currently (as of 7:33 PM on December 13th) I have ridden 477 hours in 2010. How do I know this, you might ask? Well, I don't mean to brag, but to start the year I went out and bought myself the finest timing and data tracking devices money can buy.

not a garmin. but you probably wouldn't SUPERGLUE a garmin to your stem either.

free calendar. hours tracked by day, rounded to the nearest half hour (which is to say, UP to the nearest half hour.)

Further evidence? Not needed. But if it were, I ran a query though my always-expanding, yet always-sucking hotmail storage, and of 10,313 emails the word "rally" comes up 2404 times. It's what I DO.

At the start of the year, I wanted to track hours mostly just as a form of motivation. It's good to have goals, I'm told. I didn't actually set a goal, mind you, just wanted to see how many hours I could ride. But in early November when I broke out the abacus and summed it all up to that point, 500 hours became to me an obvious goal. Almost a gimme.

Trouble is, nothing is a gimme in December. Coming down the stretch here, it's been cold, dark, and at times painful to get on a bike and stay there for too long. The calendar doesn't lie (much) - you can see lots of rides lately, but mostly 1 hour jaunts after work, really just passing the time. Anyone who thinks of this behavior as "training" might instead observe the true lethargy that I'm rolling around the woods with, the number of those "1 hour" rides that are scarcely over 40 minutes, the amount of time I've spent peeing trailside or just staring off into the peripherique, and they would quickly reconsider.

So in an effort to log some hours, hit my goal, and see some homies, I talked Ken Tank into guiding a rally through his local haunts in KenTankistan this Saturday, a 5 to 6 hour epic of singletrack and road riding that might very well see some sunshine down that way. And I invited the gang. So let's get to Kev29er.

No post with any reference to 9er can really happen without this picture. It's a reference to his history, but it's also testimony to the toughness of his inner-being. Without getting too existential about the subject, I'll just say this: the man can hammer and the man can suffer.

On the other hand, he uses scrubby gloves in the shower.

like a loofah, but without all the tedious holding.

It is this dichotomy that makes him dangerous. Let me explain.

Pretty much every winter for as long as I've known him, 9er gets himself an injury. Wonky knee. Tight hammies. Hurty toes. The list of ailments that have sent this hard-as-nails strongman to the couch, physical therapist, rehab corner of the gym, and back to the couch every winter is too long to really address in this context. But pretty much every winter he claims some kind of infirmity and counts himself out for the following season.

Then March happens, he emerges from his winter slumber like a lean, hairy bear; punches up the bigger cog, and gives bitches some stitches.

"On your left. Or over you. Your choice."

This winter? No different than any others. Last week, the call to arms went out about our Saturday ride down in KenTankistan, and 9er answered the call like the beast he is. All in.

But this week, straight from the mailbag:
From: Niner
To: Ralliers
Subject: 12/18, KenTankistan
"The entire concept seems like a pipe dream as I lay on the cough with what may be the flu. Certainly the worst headache of my life and a few other symptoms to boot. With any luck, I'll be much improved by tomorrow and can start thinking about this. At any rate, this will be my first ride of significant length in months, so expect bonking of epic proportions. "

There you have it. Untrained, sick, and gloomy like a Tuesday morning traffic jam. He seems down for the count, right?
Be forewarned: this is complete ballyhoo. The beast is in there, lurking, lulling you into a sense of mildness. He does this every year. Softpedal for a moment and then spend the next hour trying to get back on.

The dichotomy goes even deeper.
9er is a singlespeeder of course, enamored with the simplicity and low-maintenance afforded by not needing gears. But he's also gear infatuated, as his google documents collection of gear-inch combinations reveals.
He's got a guard dog that you might mistake for taxidermy for all the lethargy. But he's also got two cats that will likely someday kill and devour a small child.
He cuts and splits his own firewood. But he wears scrubby gloves.
You get the idea.

The latest dichotomous development; he's got a new bike. His Orbea Alma 29er represents a doomed contradiction of purpose reminiscent of the Maginot Lines, or maybe the Labradoodle.

The Alma, per Orbea's website, is built with one thing in mind - speed. Aluminum, it's a touch lighter than a dry pair of scrubby gloves, and a quick squeeze of the top tube between your thumb and forefinger reveals where the mass isn't. We're talking PBR-can wall-thickness for the top tube, and the downtube doesn't feel much thicker. Keeping with the theme, the seatstays would afford your 35c cross tire some room in case your rear wheel gets a little wonky through some dirty grass, but a 2.0 mtb tire in such a pickle would come up stuck. Not to worry, 110 pound Spaniards from the Basque country bend rims about like they take their own drug tests - very rarely. This frame is built to climb. You can almost feel the Pyrenees in the bike.

But what's this? Look closer. Who put a monstrous steel surly fork on this piece de resistance? And why did they anoint that dainty little cockpit with a bulbous pair of late 90's gripshifters? And why pair a 2.35 front tire with a 1.9 rear semi-slick? The frame itself is crying out for less. It longs for carbon bits, a white saddle, a cappuccino, and a domestique to carry bottles and free it from that tacky cage. "Deore cranks?" you can hear it start to wonder to the team manager, gravely confused "But I was told I would have team car support and my own masseuse."

It's a grim future for this orphan. Muddy climbs up Simmons gap. Long pulls at the front going down Wesley Chapel with gravel chipping his svelte downtube. An untimely demise during a detour, at night, down the cabin lake trail at BRS. The press won't mourn the loss of such potential, shamefully put at the wrong end of the peloton, because they won't even know his name. Sad.

But I guarantee you on Saturday it'll be going about 50 miles per hour, at the front, sprinting for every stop sign.

And maybe it will make a fashion statement in February too.

Viva la revolution. And stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. I fear the hairy bear may remain dormant this weekend.