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.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Chimney Chase Map 2015 - 8 miler this year

Chimney Chase.  Course mappage.  The route is highlighted in yellow.

Chasing to begin at 10 AM on Sunday.  Experts will do THREE of these suckers.  That's 24 miles of walnut creek.  In the past, the race was 20 miles on the nose, so it's worth mention I guess, that those last 4 miles might require an extra snickers bar or five.  Plan accordingly.

Hydrate, bitches.

Still time to sign up, up, up.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Who do I have to kick in the nuts to provoke a fight around here?

I've tried all manner of provocation lately.  I tried to pick a fight on behalf of Gordon Wadsworth with gentlemen Kansasracer, Nathan Wadsworth, to find out who would be the greater Wad.  I called out Will Leet as a Jan Ullrich lookalike.  On Strava, I made blatant attempts to rob a KOM via bogus tailwind and car drafting from local good-guy Strava champion, and I called him out in my (failed) attempts to do so.

The results?
Sheer and utter niceness.
Nathan Wadsworth and I are now friends on Facebook.  (I literally called him a no talent buttfuck over here.)

Will Leet embraced his inner Jan Ullrich.

Noah encouraged me on strava, said something like "go get em next time" and gave me "kudos" whatever that is.

It's like walking around a friendly midwestern town, assaulting every passerby on the street with a big, floppy rubber chicken, and having them hug you rather than retaliate.  I'm forced to face the hard truth that really fast guys - like, the fastest ones - are the nicest people.

Maybe it's all the miles.  Endorphins, as the happy drugs they are, just pouring out of these dudes' brains.  Maybe it's just the sort of person that pursues pain on purpose.  Contrary to what you might think, it's hard rile them up.

But I'm committed to this, and for good reason.
Not just for my own entertainment, no indeed, though that's worth mention I guess.  I'm spending a lot of time at my desk these days, and I could use some drama to liven things up.
But also, in a greater sense of the world at large, I think there's an existential battle at stake here, something that basic physiology has never resolved.  For the sake of science:

There's no shortage of Gordon Wadsworth quad pictures floating around the internet these days.  Indeed, a quick google search (and make sure you've got your safe search enabled, google users) and you've got more Wadsworth quad pictures on page one than you might get Kim Kardashian Booty Memes (also safe search).  His very name informs where his power comes from.  He's got multiple NUE titles, a stars and stripes jersey, 3 maillot pistachios, blah, blah blah.  In a word, strong.

Will Leet, on the other hand, might rhyme with feet and resemble Jan Ullrich, but as the founder and leader of the local calf club (for which my application for enrollment has been waitlisted), well, he happens to have calves the size of Gordon's quads.  He's well on his way to Cat 3 state champion status.  And as a firsthand witness to Will's riding (for a few hypoxic fleeting moments every Tuesday) I can confirm he's no punk bitch either.  And he happens to have a stars and stripes kit of his own:
The whole thing just begs for resolution.  Which muscle would win?

Trouble is, there's a basic obstacle here in that they simply don't ever show up at the same time in the same place.  Gordon is a mountain biker.  Will, a roadie.  Will, just got himself into the new hotness of a Pinarello Dogma F8.

Gordon, perhaps in an effort to derail any sort of showdown before it can even take shape, appears to have just ridden his only road worthy steed down Heartbreak ridge.

It's sort of like trying to determine who would have been superior if Hulk Hogan had ever fought Mike Tyson.  They simply never showed up in the same ring at the same time.  (Tyson, you fucking coward!)  The tragedy is that they're both way, waaaaay past their primes now, and we are left with little more than the hypothetical.  It all makes me very sad.  

So how are we to know?  It's like we need a race which is equally tough on a road bike vs mountain bike.  Longish, but not too long.  Like, in the 3 hour range or so.  It'd have to have some flat terrain, but also some climbing.  Make that a lot of climbing.  And it'd have to be early in the year, so as not to disrupt their otherwise packed racing schedules with what is really an exhibition of sorts for us, the masses, just so we can know.  Calf vs. Quad.

Winner gets a nice little jersey.

Am I just stirring the pot, here?  Starting a fight that doesn't need fought?  Or is establishing this once and for all a thing worth knowing?  For science.

Put it on your calendars.
Demand the truth.

Up, up, up.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I crack walnuts with these cheeks

Or, rather, Walnut cracks me.

Whatever the case, I urge you - NAY, I command you, good bike people of the Foof and beyond - to show up at Walnut next Sunday 7-19 and throw burgers down your necks as if you just raced 24 hard, rooty, gnarly miles, whether you actually raced those miles or not.  Maybe rub some dirt on your face to look the part.  Because you gotta be cool, and if you can't be cool, at least look cool.

Links all over the place:
results from yesteryear
course map from yesteryear
Yesterdays from Yesteryear

Tangent re: that last one.  Man.  Tell me that doesn't take you back.  (but if it actually doesn't, don't tell me.)  I have a hazy recollection of wondering aloud to myself and whatever poor 7th grade girl was nice enough to dance with me about whether "this is a fast dance or a slow dance."  I imagine we settled on fast, for better of worse.  (Worse.)

But, anyway, back to racing Walnut Creek like responsible adults - one interesting nuance I'm observing is that the course map from yesteryear shows a 10 mile loop.  And, if memory serves me correctly which it rarely does but I think is this time, experts did two of those loops, making a 20 mile race in, oh, 2 hours or so.

This year's bikereg page seems to indicate we're doing 3 laps.  And talk over on the big, blue face hole in the sky seems to say there might be a course shakeup.  So who knows.  Maybe this is 30 miles of walnut creek for the experts.  Maybe not.

What's clear is there will be both racing and burgers.  You know what I like about that?  Everything.

Only way to see it for yourself is to sign up, up, up.