Monday, December 29, 2014

Fuck you, Christmas Flu.

For Christmas, after my son finished getting 3 stitches in his face and we got home from the ER, I proceeded to get violently ill.  Like real, come-to-Jesus, cussing at the toilet kind of sick at 3 AM.  I will spare you the horrid details of what I did to myself in various bathrooms around my house, but you get the idea.  Wretched stomach bug.  It was fast moving though, so I woke up Saturday sometime, sort of shaking the worst of it off, and out of morbid curiosity I decided to weigh myself.  167.   Yikes.  I hear with Ebola you can lose 10 lbs/day.  I guess I lost about 8 lbs in 36 hours.  So I wasn't quite Ebola-sick, but still pretty wretched.

Now as a cyclist, a sport where the basic value of power-to-weight ratio is a coveted thing, what's the first thing you do when you get a reading like that?  You let your riding buddies know.  So I took a photo of the scale and texted it to C-ham.

I won't be publishing that picture here for a couple of reasons, which I'll expand upon now, and since this is a bike blog I feel this is a subjectively relevant PSA:

1)  That whole power-to-weight ratio thing only acts in your benefit when you actually have power.  So bragging about the weight part of the equation makes very little sense when you're only riding twice/week through the holidays while sitting around on your slobby haunches slurping up the eggnog dregs.  In short, regardless of what the scale says, you still suck.

2)  When you take a picture of the scale while standing on it, and you're naked because it's first thing in the morning, and the scale has a glass surface which yields a clear reflection, and you send that photo to your buddy, you've effectively just sexted him a photograph of your emaciated taint.
And I think you can go to jail for that.

Fuck you, Christmas Flu.

Nowhere to go from here but up, up, up.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pantani X will be February 15th, 2015 11 AM ET

Pantani X.  Yes, confirmation exists, this will be the 10th edition of the internationally esteemed Pantani ride.  Date is set: Sunday, February 15th, 2015 at 11 AM ET.  

There will be so much press surrounding this event over the next 7 weeks that I can barely scratch the tip of the big ring with this first post on the matter.  But as we head into the Santazon Holiday, remember this:  The Pantani is hard.  Fast, sinewy men and women are already training.  You still suck.  So go light on the whiskey sours between now and New Years if you know what's good for you (eggnog), and get ready for my wife to drop you going up the steep part of brokenback when the going gets crampy.  

Lastly, I'll leave you with this little unsolicited prediction of greatness.  

Kid apparently inherited the Nostradamus gene.

Up, up, up.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mute everything that does not matter. Amplify the rest.

I ride at night because that's when everything stops.  The rat race.  Sales Quotas.  Questions about taxes.  All of that stuff freezes after dark for a little while, along with the trails, and in a way so does time itself.  Out there in the night, through the remarkable, enormous silence that the world is capable of only at night, and with a clear view of the milky way, there is very little present tense.  There's memory, sure, and the future too, but it's all muted, spread out below you in the distance in reasonable perspective.

The break from it all is vital.

Three things I'm going to do in 2015:

#1:  Before I do anything else, delete every app on my phone that isn't actually making me happier.

#2:  Spend more time riding in Greene County at night.  Up high, night or day, looking back this way.  Reality is better understood after hours it turns out, and it helps to be far away.

#3:  After listening to their hard work for 12 years, finally go see The Hold Steady at a live show.  You only have so many chances.

But also, it is never too late.

Up, up, up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What not to do when you hit a deer with your car

I want to tell you about a recent traumatic customer experience I had, and some mistakes I made along the way, and what I think it all means.  It's a pretty long story, so dig in, and be with me on this little ride I've been on for the last 6 weeks or so.

It all started on October 25th, when I hit a deer with my car.

Wait a minute, back up a step, it started before that.  I guess this has been developing my whole life, in fact.  But, to be brief with the backstory, let me just say this: I'm a bowhunter, I butcher my own deer, and I'm really not very squeamish about the whole life-death-rebirth process of wild animals.  Also, I work in telecommunications, so I'm familiar and comfortable with some of the worst customer service you can imagine - in fact, I find it a novelty.  You see it all the time these days: take a number and get in line, wait until you're called, and we'll find a way to turn your individual situation into value for our shareholders.  I like to watch the thing unfold.  Six weeks ago, I would have told you that I was the sort of person who could handle hitting a deer and navigating the repair process without completely blowing his top.

So anyway, I hit a deer in my 2004 Subaru going about 55 miles/hour on Markwood road, less than a mile from my house on October 25th at about 10:30 AM.  That's not really such a unique occurrence out this way.  People hit deer all the time.  In fact, on any given weekend here in Albemarle county in the fall, between 5 and 10 vehicles strike deer and the owner reports the occurrence to the police.  The amount of undocumented deer hit?  Unknown.  Probably double the amount reported if you consult a police officer on the subject.  Enough to fill a few pickup trucks.

So yeah, whack, I hit the deer.  Going fast too.  Never even touched the brakes.  This incident is sort of unique, though, because I was bowhunting immediately before getting in the car to drive, and I had, in fact, harvested a buck with my bow about 45 minutes before hitting this one with my car.  So that was different.  I've killed a lot of deer.  I've even killed two deer in the same morning a few times.  But I've never had a side-by-side comparison where I actually shot a deer so closely followed by hitting one with my car.  The first thing, shooting one, is an endeavor - especially with a bow.  You have to work at it.  You spend a lot of time practicing, shooting a bow, setting up a tree stand, sitting in that tree stand, pondering the philosophical implications of Being and Nothingness, seeing deer but being unable to shoot, falling asleep, and generally trying to be the sort of voracious predator that you devolved from generations ago.  The absurdity of the whole thing isn't lost on me, and if you're an anti-hunter, fine, that's not what this is about anyway.  But finally you get one.    It's a goddamn miracle, sure, but it's still something you actively do.    Hitting one with your car, on the other hand, is something that happens to you, and having so closely compared that to the other thing, I can assure you car-killing a deer is pretty fucking traumatic.

Later, in an attempt to cope with the trauma of the whole thing, I turned to the visual arts and made a play dough sculpture to re-enact the drama.  Therapy:

Do you play golf?  Doesn't matter.  I assume you've at least seen it on TV or whatever.  What you might not understand, though, is that the face of a gap wedge - when you swing it correctly - has approximately a 50 degree angle (called loft) when you strike the ball, so at that moment of impact the ball actually goes UP more than it goes forward.  So, too, does a deer when hit with a Subaru at 55 miles/hour - the angle of the bumper is basically the same - and the scene unfolds with great drama and horror as the deer immediately launches upward, completely imploding front of the car, lifeless body of the deer floating backwards down the road like some computer-generated sci-fi special effect out of The Matrix, except that it's all real, and about 50-100 feet later the poor thing slams to the ground, stone dead, and you finally get the car to a stop, breathless.

The next thought you have is basically this: What the fuck do I do with all of these things?  These things being: fucked up car, smashed pieces of fucked up car that are strewn about willy-nilly all over the road, dead deer, insurance card, cell phone you can't seem to hold steadily enough to dial, tickets to the UVA game, skinning knife, keys, sunglasses, etc etc.  The whole thing comes at you pretty fast.  Chances are pretty good you lose something.  Again, I'm not the least bit squeamish about this stuff under most circumstances, but this is all uncharted ground for me and I'm, to say the least, unclear.

So I drag the poor deer out of the road by its ears, leave it in the ditch, and limp the car up to chestnut grove church to try to get my shit together.

I then do the following things in this order:
1)  Call local state farm office, who is closed because it's the weekend.
2)  Call the 800 number for national state farm support, wait on hold for 45 minutes
3)  Call my wife, inform her we are not going to the football game
4)  Call the 800 number again, wait on hold a while longer, hang up.
5)  Go online, look up state farm policies, read that I'm supposed to call the police to make a report
6)  Try to look up the number for county police, can't find it, say fuck it and call 911.
7)  911 says they'll send an officer
8) Hang out for about 1 hour with my thumb in my mouth
9)  Get a call from an officer who wants to know if I'm hurt or the car is totaled.  No and no.  He tells me to man up and fuck off.  Gives me his name and number in case I need it later, but he ain't coming.
10) Limp the car in to forest lakes auto, park it, have my wife pick me up, try to get a grip.

So, flash forward a couple of days, I think it's Monday now, and Forest Lakes auto isn't an auto body shop it turns out.  They're my usual guys, and I like 'em for oil changes and whatever, but this is unusual damage to be sure.  So I get State Farm on the phone finally and they fill me in with some good info about the process and the little journey that I'm about to undertake.  It basically works like this:

1)  You have to limp your poor car into the auto body collision repair shop, or have it towed there.  This is up to you.
2) You pick your own body shop from the list of approved providers on state farm's website.  I'm choosing not to link you to that website because you'll probably make the wrong goddamn choice, as I did, and where will you be then?  6 weeks later, and fucked, that's where you'll be.  To be clear, this is where the train really started to jump the tracks for me.  Choosing the right shop is everything, and our teammate, John Reynolds, happens to own and run one.  My biggest mistake was not taking my car to him.  I chose the "close place" instead.
3)  You pick your own rental car company, assuming you have rental car coverage which I do.  $900 in rental car coverage.  That's an enormous amount of money to blow on a rental car, which is just as fun as it sounds.  State Farm has a bro-deal with Hertz, some great rates for those of us traumatized by the local deer population minus one, and I start to get into the flow of things browsing SUV's for only $45/day and whatever.  No reason to think it will take 20 days to fix my car.  I rent a Dodge Journey, because I like the name, and as a metaphor for this whole mess, I find Journey to be very strong.  Plus, if you can't have fun in a rental car you might as well be dead already.
4)  State Farm works directly with the approved auto repair shop to evaluate the car, see if it's totaled, decide what to fix, then they allow the auto shop to fix it.  Meanwhile, you get to drive a rental car all over the county and try to hit your next deer before you have to return it, which is attainable.
5)  The collision repair shop that you probably should not have chosen even though they're the one closest to your house slowly creates 3, 4, as many as 5 estimates of what your car will cost to repair, steadily increasing in value right up to the actual value of the car.  State Farm approves all of these without blinking an eye.  Eventually, the $5900 in damage done to the car is approved, even though the blue book value for the car is only $3000 if it were in good condition, which it is clearly not, but sweet jesus, let's just move the process forward.  Fix it, everyone says.  Fine.
6)  You keep driving the rental car, sort of forget that the car you actually own is being butchered at the auto repair shop you chose.
7)  Eventually, 3 weeks or so after you dropped off your car for repair, the rental car company calls you, reminds you that your rental coverage via state farm is only $900, and that expired yesterday.
8)  You call the collision repair shop, who admits to losing "your file", but they are back on track to have the car back to you by next week.  Groovy. But what about the rental car in the meantime?
9)  You call state farm, explain the situation about the lost file and the lengthy repair period, and they call state farm corporate, who eventually agrees to extend the coverage of the rental car until your real car is repaired and ready.
10a)  You call the collision repair shop at the 4 week mark, but the car is still not ready.  Things are busy.  That's understandable.
10b) You call again at the 5 week mark.  Car still not ready.  Had to order some extra parts that you can't pronounce and neither can they.  And it's busy.  That's understandable.
10c)  You call at the 6 week mark, a full 42 days after the incident.  The rental car actually needs a goddamn oil change you've had it for so long.  But your car still isn't ready.  It's in line for paint, though, so it'll be ready Friday.
10d)  You call Friday, but it's still not ready, and they sound slightly less than very drunk, which is encouraging.  Look, take a walk out back here, there are like 50 cars that have hit deer sitting out there waiting for repair.  You're a goddamn number.  But I like you.  I'll have it done Monday. 
10e) You don't call Monday, and neither do they.  It's not ready and you both know it.  no sense having the same bullshit conversation over the phone again that you've been having for the last month.  It's 70 degrees, so you go ride your bike, imagine life without a car at all, and ponder how great that could actually be.
10f)  Tuesday, you go by the collision repair shop in person, just to see if they actually still have your car.  It's totally possible that they scrapped it, or lost it, or sold it, and they're just leading you on via phone until they can figure out what to do about this mess.  But you get there, and sure enough, it's almost ready.  almost.  As in, the headlights are still missing,  and there's no grill.  but real, real close.  Get a call while sitting in the parking lot while looking at your old car and they say it'll be ready at 5, which is odd because they could have just opened the window and screamed that at you.
11)  Around 2 pm, Hertz calls.  Your rental car has been reported missing/stolen, is unpaid, and they'd like to know if you have any information on its whereabouts since the time it disappeared.  Keep in mind it's parked in your driveway.  You re-assure them there must be some mistake, that state farm extended the coverage, and that the last 2 weeks were most certainly paid.  The car is here in your driveway.  They know that, they finally confirm, which creeps you out a little.  I mean, of course the thing has a gps, right?  But still, were they just testing you?  You then wait on hold for 45 minutes for a manager, and to pass the time you walk out into the yard and stare up at the sky and envision the Great Hertz Satellite shooting a patriot missile at your house from outer space.  Eventually the line goes dead.
13) Call Hertz back and get a busy signal.  Slam phone into laptop repeatedly.  Considering what's happened, you throw the deadbolt on the front door and arm yourself to the very teeth.
14)  Call State farm local office, explain situation, and they call state farm corporate to try to sort this out.
15) State farm corporate calls back, says your personal car is repaired and ready, go pick it up and return rental car immediately.  Collision repair shop is, she hopes, picking up the tab for the 2 weeks of extra time on the rental car, and she's trying to get a deal done there to sort that out.
16)  Pick up repaired car.  Except it's not repaired - the fog light is still missing.  One tire is flat.  Barely starts.  Check engine light is on.  It's making helicopter noises under the hood, smells like glue and fish, and the airbag warranty issue that they were supposed to handle while in the shop hasn't been addressed.  You'll have to take the car to the dealership to have that done, because they don't do that at the collision repair shop.  And the guy at the front desk gives you this apologetic look when you pay your deductible that basically says, "look, I know it's not done, but I really tried.  Please, just drive this thing away."  Awesome.

At this point, as I limp the car away which I limped there 6 weeks ago, it occurs to me that it might actually be in worse shape right now than when I dropped it off.  And I'm reminded, the day I did that, what Shawn told me, "Why don't you just take it up to John Reynolds in Orange?  They're state farm approved, they've got a body shop, and he'll get you set up with a loaner car until they're finished."  I didn't do that.  Because I'm an idiot, and I'm a terrible teammate.  I said to myself, "that's 30 miles away, who has time for that?"  

Who has time for that?  The irony of that statement, 6 weeks later, oozes like what I presume the dead fish is doing that the repair shop I did choose hid in the back of my car which is producing this goddamn awful dead fish smell.   I wish I could create a machine that would kick me in the ass automatically on a daily basis so I wouldn't have to do it myself every day in the future for as long as I own this car.

If you've made it this far, chances are pretty good you've hit a deer, and you're a local rider, and you're wondering what to do.  Or you're my mom, and you feel obliged the read my shit because you birthed me, in which case hi mom, and I'm sorry.

Do yourself a favor, get in touch with John Reynolds, let him take care of it like it's meant to be done.  He's our team sponsor for fuck's sake.  Really good guy.  Hell of a bike rider.  Likes a mass sprint. And I'm told he does a great job, so don't let the 30 miles fool you - you will save yourself a month.

Contact info:
112 Woodmark Street
Orange, VA 22960
Phone: 540-672-3700 ext. 8
Toll Free: 800-444-3702
24 Hour Towing: 866-491-3582

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Dirt on The Dirt at La Ruta

So, in an effort to better understand just what the hell Qwadsworth has been up to since winning the NUE series, I got in touch with him for an interview to find out why a person would fly to Central America for the weekend and not bring back a bunch of Coke. The following interview is all true (except for the parts I made up.)  

BRC:  What's that smell?  You're sitting on the shitter aren't you?

Qwadsworth:  Of course, this is where I do all of my best interviews.  

BRC:  Me too. 

Qwadsworth:  Cool.

BRC:  So, tell me about La Ruta.  And let's start with the basics.  Where, exactly, the fuck is Costa Rica?  I only just realized this morning that it's not an island off the coast of Florida. 

Qwadsworth:How in the Hell am I supposed to know. I'm a land mammal so when you put me on a plane, whisk me away, feed me terrible food, and demand I leave in a semi-linear fashion out the same door I just came in I get pretty confused. When I look on a map it looks really far away though.

BRC:How did this whole thing come together?  I mean logistics.  You win the NUE title, then what?  Does someone just give you a big sack of money and say "you will go to the dagobah system"?  Do they book your plane tickets?  Do you have the option to just take the money and run?

Qwadsworth:Well, the NUE hardly wins you a big sack of money. I did pretty well in the Hammer Gel department though. Aid Stations arent like a "give a penny take a penny" box at the supermarket and I got mouths to feed! In sincerety Roman and Erika who command the LaRuta Empire (in addition to LaRuta they put on 5 other events in Cr throughout the year) were incredibly accomodating. A week or so before Foold Gold Erika emailed to confirm with the leaders and likely winners if they did win that they would be attending, nearly everybody said "duh." They did book out flights, no option to take the money and run, but I wouldnt have anyways. I have all the Hammer Gels I need.

BRC:What are the event managers like?  Ticos?  How much English is being spoken at the start/finish/aid stations?

Qwadsworth:ncredible. They were incredible. They make that event happen in a country where almost nothing happens on time or in a fashion to which most gringos are accustomed. The locals treat it like the Tour de France, they are incredible. They are unbelievably supportive of every racer and meet even the tiniest modicum of enthusiasm with explosive excitement. So you can image how they responded to stoked-up me!! Not a lot of Ingles, but stoke knows no language barrier man. #PuraVida! 

BRC:  OK, this is your first and only warning.  But I don't allow hashtags in my conversations.  One more outburst like that, and I'll pinch this off, wipe, and move on.  

Qwadsworth:  Understood.  Agreed.  

BRC: Back to La Ruta.  It's now a UCI race, right?  Were you drug tested? Did you see any drug testing occur?  If I were to go and be, say, mid-pack in the fatbike category, what are the chances I'd be drug tested?  Are they more likely to test me if I look high?

Qwadsworth:While it was a UCI event this year, im pretty sure they gave up. They didnt even have Blue polo shirts, how official could they be?!

BRC:How much walking did you have to do?  For the good of all mankind, what does a 6,000 foot climb on a singlespeed do to your feet? 

Qwadsworth: Tons. Welcome to the Jungle baby. But it had nothing to do with being on a singlespeed!

BRC:How close did you come to actually being eaten by a reptile?

Qwadsworth:Probably closer than I thought. I seriously did see and hear a lot of things that wanted me for food. They gotta eat too, and these thighs...lets get real..they Dont make Ticos with thighs like this so let me answer your question with a question. If you lived in the land of Tofu and Wheatgerm and Strawberry Shortcake tramped by in her most delicious little outfit would you try and eat her? 

BRC:Who the fuck are these people that won?  Todd Wells appears to have gotten his clock cleaned by dudes I've never even heard of.  Why is that?

Qwadsworth:Theyre the Nairo Quintana of dirt my amigo! These dudes train all kinds of crazy old school too. I got to spend some good time with the front guys and theyre pretty on their game. They dont compete up here or internationally as often for the same reasons we dont compete down there more often. Additionally LaRuta is a sort of different bag of worms. The saying goes "follow the locals." There is definitely a learning curve and a language curve and thats tough to hack. Also I have a sneaking suspicion LaRuta was a good way to get himself and his family down to CR for some vacation time.  

BRC: For years, it's been said that the Tico's win La Ruta by cheating.  How would local cheating actually happen?  Shortcutting?  Drugs?  Rides in trucks?

Qwadsworth:Im glad you asked. I dont know all the answers mind you so I cant say 100% for sure but I will answer from my experience. The course is super busy with "team cars," buddys on ATVs and motos, and folks who have set up feed zones waaaay outside the 200m of an aid station rule. This said, they arent stingy either. When I was gathering beta for LaRuta I got a strong "Us vs. Them" vibe from a lot of folks. I could see how this attitude would make these illegal feeds frustrating. But I also will say the Ticos were super friendly with me! And a lot of the "illegal" feeds were neutrally given, at least to everybody I talked to. Who knows exactly how it went where Tod Wells was sitting but thats how I saw it. 
As far as how would it happen it depends a lot but the course is fully open, folks werent offering me rides but I also didnt ask! The course is fully open and can be tricky to follow. I spent more than a little time going slower than I would normally sort of being diligent to look for arrows. So it would be pretty easy to grab a ride or otherwise blow the course if you knew your way. Some of the locations are pretty damn isolated though! I mean youre riding the road you are because there is no other option. So If cheating happens; and Im sure it has, then its gotta be pretty large scale. I wouldnt consider the feeds cheating though, I found I finished nearly every day well under the budgeted nutrition I brought because folks were handing up cokes, bags of water and fruit, candies, honey packets, all sort of jive calories.

BRC:Volcanic eruptions: tell me about it.  Did you get food poisoning? 

Qwadsworth:Not this volcano buddy! Regular as the swiss rail here! The cool thing about the water in CR is that for the most part its better than other Central American countries. Its cleaner, the Ticos have their game together. Some folks do get some distress but if youre smart about it its not a problem. Clean your bottle tip off before you put it in your mouth if you just rode through cow shit.Be smart. The Turrialba Volcano did blow its top though! We had to emergency reroute Stage 2 for it. but it added in some singletrack so its all good to me! And with 9k of climbing in less than 30 miles its not like they threw us a softball!

BRC:What were the trails like?  Flow trails?  Jungle animal tracks?  What's the dirt like?  Color. Composition.  Smell.  Taste?

Qwadsworth:Costa Rica doesnt have much in the way of singletrack. The riding is pretty stout back country stuff so why would you go through the trouble to build a goat path when theres a killer dh goat path in uncle Federicos agave farm?!! We did utilize pretty much the only single track in the country on Day 2 and it was too muddy to get a great feel for it. Seemed pretty solid. Dirt, well...sometimes its not dirt at all. chew on that for a while.

BRC: Is Costa Rica a ride destination?  As in, is the riding there that is worth the trip?  Or is the only reason I'd ever go to race La Ruta?

Qwadsworth:Hard to tell man, LaRuta is definitely a destination event. Its Absolutely the adventure of a lifetime. And its the adventure of a lifetime in a context and scenery that doesn't disappoint. Do I know everything thats Do I think theres more, yeah, Theres gotta be. And I know the people of Costa Rica are pretty eat up with cycling. 

BRC:  So, you've kicked a lot of ass this year, mine included.  What can I do to feel better about myself when I'm around you?

Qwadsworth:  Good question.  I recommend you switch your Strava settings to Kilometers instead of miles.  That way when you compare yourself to me, it'll look more even.  

BRC:  What's next for you?  You go into the winter and just sit on the couch for a few weeks or what?

Qwadsworth:  Well, no.  A lot of guys take time off, but obviously I have to get back on the bike right away in order to peak in February for The Pantani.  Everything after that is just sort of whatevs.  

BRC:  What's the likelihood Brian Lewis doesn't feed you your own meaty thighs at the Pantani this year?  

Qwadsworth:  50%.  

BRC:  I like those odds.  Gonna be a fight, I imagine?

Qwadsworth:  Hopefully we're together coming back up Markwood and I can just buy the win.  Kids like that will usually take the money and let me solo in on my own.  

BRC: Solid plan.  Very Italian.  Thanks for playing.  

Qwadsworth: #PuraVIDA!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Whiskey, Wool Socks, What up up up.

Most days in life don't really stand out.  Most rides tend to blend together in the long review mirror that is memory.  But it's your individual responsibility, I've come to believe, to shake out the monotony every now and again, whatever the consequence.  Even if that consequence is a rum hangover, 2 flats, and a 3/4 pound dangly thigh hematoma.

The good Doctor Dirty Nelly will see you now.
I guess that's why I night ride.

Also, I'll say this: not so long ago this ride was a brownie crit - which was short track racing and brownies.  Now, and remarkably quickly, it has morphed into a hard liquor swilling night ride.  I say you can't fight progress, so don't.  Go with it.

Up, up, up.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Civilization ends at the waterline.

"It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top. "--Hunter S. Thompson

Monday, November 3, 2014

LL Bean meets BikeMag

90% of the substance that I have for you this week is this picture:

And that's 90% more than I had for you last week.  In short, you're welcome.

The remaining, largely irrelevant 10%: Geoff Keenan and Pat Norton lost their title to PanzaBoonen/B-slow in the Paranormal men's duo on Saturday night, but not without a fight. Best racing, closest Paranormal finish I've seen in recent memory.  And it only rained sideways for about 10 minutes.

Lastly, it's dark at 5:30 now.  So, we gon' night ride.
Flow Lakes, Wednesday night at 8:30 PM.

Up, up, up.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Kev29er's Paranormal Weather update as of Friday, 9 AM says to prepare for the suck. says rally, rally, rally.
97% chance it'll be awesome.

100% chance of at least a few hot laps.  

Up, up, up.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Weather and Gearing Expertise, and WWJTBVD

I repeat myself, could be a little cold on Saturday.  Or a little wet.  Or both.  

As such, there's a virtual shitstorm brewing on the interwebs regarding the actual storm that might be brewing that may or may not be serving up some extra pain and frozen toes for the Paranormal.  So, in an effort to settle this down a bit, I went to the real forecasting authority, Kev29er, who also happens to be the expert on record when it comes to local gearing choices for the 1-cog crowd.  So you get a BOGO of wisdom here, which is worth something, or perhaps nothing, depending on your tolerance for bad weather and singlespeeding.  

From Kev29er:
Weather: Showers likely, mainly before 2pm. Cloudy, with a high near 47. North wind 5 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Sat Night: A chance of showers before 8pm. Mostly clear, with a low around 34. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
30% chance of showers = 70% chance of awesome, right?

Gearing Choice: 34X19 for the winner.  

So there that is.  It's only Thursday, but 50% of the authorities concur that there's a 50% chance that the worse of the 50% chance of sleet will be blown our of here by game time.  

I like those odds.  

In situations such as this, I do two things:
#1)  I try to think about What Jesse The Body Ventura Would Do (WWJTBVD) in a situation like this (also Paranormal costume idea # 349,902,115):
and #2) I try to keep in mind that we race mountain bikes, in a large part, because it hurts, and if it didn't hurt everyone would do it, so pain is actually a part of what makes it good.  And 6 hours of The Paranormal in a cold mist would certainly be good in that way, if you can admit to yourself the truth.

Because riding a ribbon of tacky dirt through a coating of snow is actually the very fulcrum upon which life turns:
Remember what the Tao says about these things: To be whole, you must let yourself break.

Or something like that.

Up, up, up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Weather, Strava, and other Paranormal Phenomena

Worth considering:
Pretty good chance it's gonna be a relatively cold paranormal.  Not as cold as 2010 when it snowed, but cold nonetheless.  High of 53 on Saturday, meaning that by the time things get intense it'll be down in the 40s.  So consider that as you put the finishing touches on your sexy superhero costume, and really think about how much skin you want to be showing when the bell lap tolls.

Also worth considering, this will be the last year of this particular Paranormal course.  Next year, the length will double, the singletrack improves, and most importantly, any Strava KOM's previously set will go down into permanent internet history.  Current Strava glory, like most things in life, is owned by Mr. Qwadsworth.  And, if that Ben-King-Besting, near-30 minute lap doesn't already intimidate you, it would appear that another person of interest has been practicing also.  I'll be honest, I liked them both a lot better when I didn't know how fast they were.  But that's a me problem.  Your problem?  Getting around the Paranormal loop in 29 and change, and slotting yourself a place in the very fringes of internet-based race result history.

Night ride preview?  Wednesday night, 8 PM, departing from my house.  It'll be an ungroomed, slightly slow, less tense preview - sort of like putting on your wedding dress without shaving (which I happen to do all the time.)  But a preview of the course proper nonetheless.

To follow, leafblowing, limb chopping, and fun-sized Snicker eating to commence Thursday at 5ish.

Now if I can just squeeze my girth into this sexy referee costume, I'll be all set.

Up, up, up.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Paranormal Predictions 2014

Holy shit, it's October 23rd already, and the Paranormal is next week.

Where does the time go?  It's like that feeling I have when I look down and my kids are three years old already, and they're riding a Halloween-colored Superfly 16 without training wheels.

For that matter, Holy Shit, the Paranormal is 12 years old?  The Big Blue Facehole in the Sky professes it to be so, so that can't be wrong.  On one hand, I get the standard how-did-that-happen-already angst, but on the other hand, it sort of feels like it's been around forever anyway.  So I dunno, maybe this whole "passage of time" anxiety I have it just a symptom of fall.  And either way I should shut up and get to the meat of it.

The meat of it.  I feel like I'm late getting to this (this being a slowly building blog frenzy leading up to the P-normal) but lucky for you and lucky for me I already spilled the beans last week about who I bet my spare money (of which I have none) on to take the W in Men's solo.  And that is Mr. Mark Smith.
Nevermind that he's got a broken rib/kidney stone/hematoma situation like an 82 year-old man.
Nevermind that Petrylak has radical late season form, is just coming off a resounding win at the 18 on the farm, and pretty much doesn't lose races like this.
Nevermind that I don't actually know if Mark is coming.
He's my guy.

Look, you don't get rich gambling by picking the wrong horse.  Have I ever steered you wrong before?

And here are the rest of my predictions to become champions, though all are heretofore and woefully unregistered as I'll get to in a moment:

Women's solo: Anne Pike.  Cunningham and I were actually wondering if she might turn 10 laps, which is elusive for even the best of the best.  I think Laura Hamm won The Paranormal with 9 laps a few years ago (while wearing a green leprechaun dress.)  But if anyone has a shot at 10, it's Anne.

Men's Duo: This is hard.  Not only do I have to predict who will be fast and who will actually show up, but I also have to predict who will actually team up once they finally do show up fit.  You people make my job suck.  But I'm committed to the cause, whatever that cause may be, and so I'm picking Lindbloom/Hackett with no real evidence that either of them are alive, coming, or actually teammates.

Women's Duo:  Again, this is a tremendous Nostrodomian stretch, even for me, but I'll go out on a limb and say no one is catching Bridget Graves and Jenny Whedbee if they are indeed alive, coming, and actually teammates.  I've bet on Whedbee before, of course, and she's let me down time and time again, and I take that shit personally and never forget it, etc etc.  But overall I just don't see anyone taking a title from those two ladies if they put their minds to it.

Co-ed Duo:  This is usually where I step in, talk some shit to Qwadsworth about how my lady and I are going to serve him and his lady up a heaping helping of their own asses if they come up to our home turf to try to take our coveted Duo title.  But I have to remember that last year my lady and I didn't actually manage to get ourselves onto the podium before the beer struck.  So, this year, I'm going to try to stay humble here and simply remind him that I own him like a cheap set of back up 26er wheels, and he can bring his little NUE title and "I'm going to La Ruta" nonsense to my house, and I'll help him polish it all up and insert it into his Urethra.  Bring it.

Now about that whole pre-registration thing...
If you're like most of mountain bike racing 'Merica, you're likely waiting until the last minute to sign up for the Paranormal.  Weather on Halloween weekend can be a little dodgy, and the race pretty much runs rain or shine, so I get that.  But what you can't dally about until the last minute is your costume.

Over the years, there have been some really creative minds that show up with their best creations to amaze, offend, and get stuck in the spokes of themselves and others.  And that's really what all of this is about anyway.  But that shit takes time.  The Earth wasn't built in a single day, and neither was Hiser's motorcycle gang member costume, nor did Shawn grow an Afro in a week.  So wait on registration if you must, but don't hold back on your creative design.  There's a time bonus to be had, and if your costume really sucks, you don't get that 5 minutes (all evaluations made by Momma T are final).  So consider yourself warned.

If you have to, here's the oldest Halloween hack in the book, if there were a book for such things...Just dig last year's costume back out of the attic, wipe the beer off, and simply add an adjective to it.  Something like:

DRUNK George Bush
PURPLE Poppa Smurf
SLUTTY Phil Collins

You get the idea.

When in doubt, make yourself useful: sign up early, and the rest will happen as it should.

Up, up, up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Spin-A-Thon, and my early prediction for Paranormal Solo Greatness

First and foremost:
Buy a needy kid a bike. Support the Spin-A-Thon

Even though it's been raining for 40 days and 40 nights, even though Saturday is our anniversary, even though there's football to watch and laziness to be had, Shannon and I will be riding in the Spin-A-Thon on Saturday to support the Toy Lift.

Support financially.
Better yet, come ride.

The world only gets better when the people show up, up, up.

Second, and also lastly since I have a meeting in 4 minutes, does anyone actually think they can handle the big, juicy platter of pain that Mark Smith will be serving up to the solo field at the Paranormal?

Platter of Paranormal Pain.  For a limited time only.  That's a salad, an appetizer, two main courses, dessert, an aperitif, 15 beers, and a big glass of shut the hell up because you can't handle it.

If I'm wrong, tell me I'm wrong.  Better yet, come prove it.

Up, up, up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hunter's Moon Night Ride - Thursday, 8:30ish

The Paranormal is coming.  Might as well break out the monster music.  
Because 165,000,000 youtubers can't possibly be wrong.

With that out of the way, I'm here to tell you what you should be doing like I actually know better than you, because this is the internet after all.  And what you should be doing is night riding.  Like I said, The Paranormal is coming, and those 11 laps that it takes to win aren't going to ride themselves.  

To that end, and assuming the 2nd Blood Moon of the notorious and horrifying Tetrad doesn't mean the rapture begins on Tuesday night - or at least assuming that you're not going to be a part of the rapture like the other 98% of us who will have to figure out how to live with that fact - then we'll night ride Thursday night.  In the mountains.  Hopefully that will help us cope.  

Should be a slightly waning full moon, but pretty full nonetheless.  

Meet at my place at 8:00 PM, or at the corner of Brokenback and Simmons Gap (the church, how appropriate) at 8:30 PM.  Approximately a 2 beer ride, depending on how hard you take the news.  Singlespeeding encouraged, though be ready for a little hiking.  

Those taken in the rapture are excused from attendance.   

Up, up, up.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Iron Qwads

Sometime in the late 90's, the story goes that Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing was taking a terrible lot of drugs, and he was dating some fantastic young lady named Janine.  And like most musicians inspired by love and drugs, he wrote a song about her.

But when he sat down to record the song for the next Soul Coughing album, he couldn't quite make it come out right - it just didn't quite convey how he felt about her.  So, in a fit of bizarre, drug-induced brilliance, he had Janine leave the little apartment they shared in Manhattan, run down to the pay phone in the street in the middle of the night, call him at the apartment, and sing "The Lemon Tree."  He missed the call, but the answering machine caught it, and in a show of real creative mastery of his craft, he took the answering machine to the studio and recorded what we now know as the album version of "Janine" over top of Janine singing "The Lemon Tree" on his answering machine to capture how she made him feel about her.

Lovely.  Creative.  Brilliant.

And so, similarly I hope, rather than photoshopping Qwadsworth onto a Georgia Tech Cheerleader -which I've been there and done and I think exhausted the creative brilliance right the hell out of - and in an effort to convey how I really feel about him, I'll photoshop his face onto a picture of the Iron Sheik giving Hacksaw Jim Duggan the camel clutch, and I hope it'll just stand for itself.

Consider this Paranormal Costume idea #396,415, and from there, thematically at the very least, onward we'll go.

Up, up, up.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Something wicked this way comes...

I don't have a hastily-photoshopped image of Qwadsworth as a cheerleader riding the Georgia Bulldog yet.  But I should.  What can I say; it's been a long season, and with all of these 100 miler wins that Qwadsworth has racked up, I'm pretty worn out.  

I'll try to get that up and running in the next few months though.  

I also don't have a race report, strava file, or heart rate data to share from the 18 Hours on the Farm from last weekend.  Again, tired.  So tired.  

What I do have, however, is a firm date for The Paranormal.  

The Paranormal will be November 1, 2014.  

Before you start bitching about mountain bike racing in the month of November, or the fact that Halloween is actually in October, or how exhausted you are from winning all of these races on a singlespeed, consider this:

Halloween actually falls on a Friday this year, Oct 31 2014.  So The Paranormal is Saturday, November 1st, the day after Halloween.  Set aside, for a moment, all the benefits that racing for 6 hours can deliver when fueled by candy corn and mothballs the you scored the night before, ignore the ideal set up of free cheap Saturday night beer to compliment the load of rich Pumpkin porter you had on Friday, and consider this fact alone:
You can pretty much put on your slutty pirate costume on Thursday when you get home from work, sauce it up a little, and roll it straight into Sunday without ever having to change.  


Music accompaniment, shit talking, keg selections, predictions, and bikereg link coming soon.  
Giddyup, up, up.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fool's Gold

Good luck down there, brothers and sisters.

And a little carb loading idea if that's your gig.

Fool's Gold Sandwich
Serves 8-10 people, or one Elvis.
1 foot-long loaf sourdough bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
16 ounces creamy peanut butter
16 ounces strawberry jam (the original used Dickinson's blueberry preserves)
1 pound bacon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat the loaf in butter. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes
While the bread is in the oven, fry the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Slice the loaf in half lengthwise and hollow out the inside. Fill with an entire jar of peanut butter and an entire jar of jam. Top with bacon and put the top of the loaf back on. Slice to serve.

And by "slice to serve" I know that you know that I mean, put the whole thing in your piehole and chew.

Up, up, up.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Qwadsworth wins SM100...

Qwadsworth wins SM100.
Sets course record.
Blows away the competition. 
Sets up a showdown of epic proportions in sweet Georgia in 2 weeks.  
And I made a picture.  

cool as ice.
Business as usual.

Up, up, up.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Don't say that anymore.

John Potter.
Robin Williams.

I'm struck my how much I find in common in their collective passing.  The way that Scud would meander through a conversation, ecstatic, sort of like a Robin Williams monologue, whose subsequent passing happened the week of Scudfest, or what will happen to Robin Williams' collection of 60-some bikes, many of them boutique productions, like the men themselves, inspirational, one of a kind, or the fact that you can die on a mountain bike or in your home the same way: well before you should.  

The whole thing has given me considerable pause.  I've avoided writing about this because I certainly don't know what it all means, but I'll spit it out finally here and hope to be done with the worst of it.  

I think it's natural to think you knew Robin Williams.  For many of us, we grew up in a context that Robin Williams helped create.  It's shocking for us to realize that though he was an inspiration to the people around him, he had no inspiration left for himself, that we did not know Robin Williams after all.  

I also didn't know John Potter.  I stared at his photo online for a while, tried to place him in my past somewhere, and he does look familiar.  Maybe that's just human empathy, and I feel so absolutely terrible for his family that I'm not sure what to write about him.  I imagine that I passed him along the trail somewhere sometime, and we said hey and rode on.  But I didn't know him.  Walnut creek, though, I know extraordinarily well.  I've got a 2-inch scar on my left shoulder.  I broke a bike there once.  But dying there never crossed my mind.  

I haven't been to Bryce yet, where Scud was injured, and I don't think I'll go.  But if I did, I imagine I'd be most struck by the flow and grace of it, like most people who have been there.  I hear it's terrific.  

I met Scud the first time while racing the Monster Mash at Wakefield up near D.C.  He was the race promoter and director, and the whole thing was a benefit for some kid's program he was running at the time, and I finished 2nd.  I crashed pretty hard chasing the leader, maybe 200 yards from the finish.  I rode across the line dusty and bleeding, and Scud was psyched, congratulatory, wild-eyed in the way he always was when there was action to be had, and he said what we always say when that happens, "If you're not crashing, you're not going fast enough."  

Mental note to self: don't say that anymore.  

If I'm honest with myself, and I have to answer the question "how would you prefer to die?" and I don't say "in my sleep" which is sort of a lame, cowardly answer for the moral hypothetical, then I guess I have to admit that if I have to go - not anytime soon, mind you - I'd prefer to pass away on my bike.  I don't know what that's about, but there it is.  

The thing is, I always thought bikes were supposed to save your life.  Not end it.  And I think for the most part that's true more often than it's not.  

But nothing saves your life, at least not forever.  

I'm left, like many of us, with a lot of unanswered questions, many of which I won't write here because they're borderline offensive.  But how many miles did those three men tally in their lives?  And what are those miles worth now?   

I have to pause sometimes, survey what's before me, take stock of the things and people I've been gifted, and remind myself to savor it.  It keeps me looking up up up.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Some things don't make much sense.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Up up up.

Monday, July 28, 2014

There's just no way one guy is winning all of these races, right?

sweet, sweet Victory in PA.    

Up, up, up and all of that.  But my theory, still in the early stages, is that there are actually two of him.

Photoshop don't lie.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

That time I didn't run into Ben King in Dyke

A couple of weeks ago, I was out on a lunchtime ride in the heat.  It was about 90, I guess, and I rode up the south side of Brokenback and came down the naughty steepness from the tippy top into Blue Ridge School, hit the rollers, and then cruised out onto Bacon Hollow Road for the ride home. It's a 1.5 hour loop that I can usually do in about 2 hours in my current state of aerobic disrepair.  So anyway, I pulled past the store in Dyke, I looked over, and who do I see but Ben King there coming out of the store, two fresh bottles in hand, obviously on a big training ride on his road bike.

Instantly, I was confused.  In hindsight, I'd like to say that it was the heat.  But why the hell is Ben King not in Europe, I thought to myself?  And he pulled up alongside me and said hey, and we chatted it up for a moment, him on his road bike barely soft pedaling and me with a cooked brain on my Pivot just trying to make sense of the situation. Like, wasn't he supposed to be racing the Tour De France and training at altitude?  And why was he wearing this Hincapie Development Kit and riding a Felt?  And what were his race plans for the rest of the year?  And how was his form?  And on and on for about 5 minutes or so, until I realized that, in fact, I was talking to Jake King, not Ben.  Not sure if you're noticed, but little Jake is a man now.  And he looks a lot like Ben, but taller and meaner.

Certainly fast though.

Sorry about that, Jake.  Having lived my entire life in a sort of DNA-based co-existence with my own older brother, I know what it's like to be mistaken for someone else and play along so it's less awkward for everyone involved.  So thanks for that, Ben.  I mean Jake.

And you know what?  Good for you.  I think you've got a pretty good pedigree when you can be mistaken for your professional road racer older brother, have a 5 minute conversation with a stranger about what you're doing all the way out here, and what your plans are, and how your season's going, and most of the conversation that was supposed to be about him still applies to you.  Also, that makes it less weird for me.

My main point here: Jake King rips.  Watch yourself you aging, whiny pro racers that think you're entitled to a spot in the Peloton based upon what you did 10 years ago.  This kid's gonna knock your has-been 180 max heart rate right through your pampered underpants, and the general public is looking forward to watching him do it.

My other point, SPOILER ALERT: On Tuesday, Ben King is going to win stage 16 of the Tour De France out of a breakaway.  My apologies for ruining the suspense.  Social media is difficult like that.
Ben King (Garmin-Sharp) hangs on for third
Up, up, up.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


95 degrees and humid for Tuesday worlds today.
I haven't been to worlds in 3 years, since before my kids were born.  But, in my imagination anyway, there's no time like the present.

The reality, of course, is way, way different.  But that's 6:00 Dave's problem, not mine.  And that guy sucks, and he whines a lot, and he gets dropped before things even get stirred up.  So count me in.

When in Pro, do as the pros do.
Chipotle, anyone?
  Up, up, upchuck.

Monday, June 23, 2014

You don't know (Lumber)Jack Shit.

At the risk of appearing to be some kind of media outlet that is reporting actual news, I've waited two days to report the following:

Qwadsworth pretty much had his way with the Lumberjack 100 course on Saturday. 

In a real display of timeliness, I've beaten both Cyclingnews and Velonews to the punch with this, so I'm pretty proud of that.  I'm also proud of Qwadsworth, though that pride carries a certain amount of envy that I can only shake by photoshopping pictures of him into various cheerleader poses and posting them onto the big blue facehole in the sky.  So I'm waiting on Cyclingnews to get their shit together, post a podium shot that I can use as such, and feel better about myself for being such a fat, no-talent, bike blog jockey without actual bike talent to back it up.

100 miles in 6:45 on a singlespeed.  Damn.  1st SS, 3rd overall, and only 8 minutes from winning the whole damn thing which is funny because most of those guys are using these new inventions called "gears" when the race gets all steep and hurty.  What in the incredible fuck.

In a similar timespan on Saturday, I ate a sleeve of Oreos and washed most of my bike clothes.  Most of them.  I couldn't quite get the last ones onto the drying rack (my bike) before Qwadsworth crossed the finish line and I had to take a nap.  But I came pretty close.  So yeah, it was a pretty solid day for both of us, I guess.

Sunday, though, I got out with Lester and a crew for a few hours and lamented just how fast Qwadsworth has become together, and that made it better - the riding, I mean, not the lamenting - just like it makes most things better.

Then Lester took a shower with his bike and I took pictures of them.  Dirty.  But clean now.

Plus, we were out riding in amazing weather while Qwadsworth was driving the 187 hours back from Michigan.  With his gigantic ax-trophy and paycheck.  So yeah, it was a pretty solid day for all of us, I guess.
The only actual news I have for you is night ride news, like usual, except this week I'm putting two night rides into one notice.  Here we go:
1) Night ride this Thursday, 6/26.  Flee the oppressive heat, good people of the northside, and charge your shit.  We'll keep it pretty close to the epicenter of the Northside.  Probably a 2 hour ride.  Singlespeed friendly.  A one-beer-ride, I would imagine. 

2) But next week, the 3rd of July, if you're not racing the Tour De Berg (good luck Kurland, Kyle, and Frank) we'll do something a little more extravagant.  Big John and Hiser have both given their verbal commitments, and there might be fireworks to see from on high, so that's where we'll be. 

For both rides let's meet at 8 PM at my house. 

Pack a snack.  

Giddyup up up.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

She's out there...

She's out there:

And for $150 (with the tertiary benefit of amazing, illicit, barely ridden singletrack) I'm committed to finding her.
Up, up, up.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Full June Moon

I think most of the things I like best about being a mountain biker at night are the ones you come across out there in the periphery.  Mountain bike trails, campgrounds, gravel roads, and the places you tend to end up at night on two fat tires are generally at the edge of reality, sometimes just over that edge.

A little such experience from a recent trip over the mountain.  Video Courtesy of the Giro Godfather himself.  To clarify, you're viewing a slightly unstable, intoxicated, shirtless, shoeless, toothless, Sherando local welding a roll cage for his go-cart in the middle of the night in his garage while rocking out to Bon Jovi.  The video is a little unclear because, as you might expect, we kept our distance - not necessarily out of fear, but certainly out of respect for the two different worlds that sometimes nudge up against each other out there where the trail ends.  It was a powerful experience for me.

Thematically, and while I'm lifting stuff off of YouTube, a little Mike Doughty to set the mood for what's next.
Tonight at about 12:30 AM or so is the Full June Moon.  Technically, it's the strawberry moon if you subscribe to such things.  And since it's the full moon closest to the Summer Solstice, it's the brightest night of the year (well, technically it's the brightest 24 hours of the year.)  Storms not withstanding, because this weather pattern we find ourselves in is admittedly a little dark, it'll be a good night to be out and about.

Departing from out here at the Rancho Relaxo at 8 PM if there are any takers for such action.  Pointing it West.  Seeking that edge.

Up, up, up.