Monday, December 18, 2017

Pantani Ride 2018 - 2.11.18

Fair notice - Il Pantani 2018 will go live on SUNDAY, February 11th 2018 at 11 AM, and it's gonna do it HARD, right square in the hurty undercarriage.

Almost immediately, the boiler, untested at such intensity for a few months and not accustomed to wearing so many layers anyway, will blow, and you'll be left crestfallen and shelled, like a chubby peanut on the side of a steep dirt road.

See also: Will Leet on Brokenback 2017.  One of my favorite moments of all time.

Once you're that far gone, I can tell you from experience, there will be nothing much to do but putter along and look back at this moment in December when you heard this was going to happen, ponder the time-space continuum itself, and wonder if you could just go back 2 months, exactly, to that moment when you knew what you were in for and did nothing, would you do it differently?

Flashback.  Here we are.  12-11, 11 AM, 2 months exactly until The Pantani Ride, and look at you.  JESUS.  You need a coach.  Nutrition.  Intervals.  Instruction.  Motivation.  An enema - something.  Anything really.  Don't do this to yourself in your current state.  But we'll get to all of that soon enough.  My point here is that you need to get ready to get ready.

There's a fair chance that you - new to town, reading this hinterland of the internet that you found linked via some nefarious facebook ad - assume that this is Russian-backed fake news, and you are correct.  But also, it just might be a real thing.  See past Russian-Funded fake experiences via the smorgasbord of misinformation around these parts, and read 'em while you poop.  Ponder that it all might be a thing that really happens, somewhere, for no reason at all, and if realize you want in, then you're in.  Easy as that.

Set your watch to show up somewhere, at that time, and in the meantime, get ready to get ready.

Up, up, up?

Friday, December 15, 2017

Alabama: not just a punchline in your trailer park joke anymore

Alabamans, take heart.   There is good in your neighborhood, yet.

1)  The potential return of political human decency
2)  Oak Mountain State Park
3)  St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Oak Mountain, in particular, holds a special place in my heart.  Right around the corner from some family of mine, Oak Mountain absolutely rips.  GO.  Especially now that, quite possibly, your daughter won't be molested and her story ignored.

Because, gold shoes and ripping vocals aside, if Arkansas can do it, then Alabama, dammit, so can you.


Up, up, up.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Shortcutting and skidding our way to fame and failure.

Processing the French Alps - Jordan Regnier and Alexander Kangas ride Tignes/Val D' Isere from Kona Bikes on Vimeo.

I'm not usually such a grump about this stuff, or at least I used to not be.

But I gave this one a gander, because I like Kona and I like their grassroots program, and let's be honest, I just love seeing talented riders do stuff that I can't do on trails I might never see.

I've done a ton of riding in France.  And I've actually skied Val D'Isere.  Never ridden bikes there, but the skiing is phenomenal, and the landscape itself, like a high-alpine version of the moon, is breathtaking.  In the winter of 2000, I got caught in a whiteout blizzard there, skied down the mountain to get out of it, but unfortunately ended up in the wrong town.  I was a 20 minute drive from the proper lodge.  I remember the laughs from the locals at the bar, who then informed me to take the red train - which was, in fact, a bus - back to Val D'Isere.  Wonderful people.  Glorious place.

So maybe that's why seeing two bros skidding down pristine high alpine trails and actually shortcutting large sections - like, totally blowing corners and sliding through what I presume is fragile, semi-cryptobiotic soil that can barely hold itself together in the short growing season of the summer, bothered me.

Do you know anyone who rides like this?
I certainly do not.
If I rode with someone who rode like this, I'd take their bike from them.  Just awful.

Why then, are we glorifying this in digital form?  By we, I mean a pretty terrific American mountain bike brand.  Does this actually sell bikes?

Maybe I'm getting crusty in my old age (I am) but I feel like this shit is setting us back way, way more than it is putting Kona's brand forward.

From an advocacy perspective, doesn't this get used against us?  Even in a laissez-faire environment like the Alps in summer, I have to figure this hurts the effort, if there even is an effort anymore.
(In case you didn't know, Laissez-Faire is French for Bud Lite Lime.)

Digital media is the future - I get that.
Films like this are the way to reach the groms who want to buy your bike, Kona.  But would you really let one of those groms ride like this on your local loop?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Don't ask for whom the bell tolls.

It tolls for thee.

You know what was not tolling that day, back in 1985?
Mobile phones.

Not a single smartphone in that crowd, and look at them.  LOOK AT THEM.

They were ecstatic.  High on drugs, maybe, but still just really brilliantly happy.  Rocking their faces right off of their faces.

If you could have the same concert today, which you can't of course, but if you could, I guarantee you it's way more subdued.  Bizarre behavior, like people absorbing the scene by monitoring their twitter feed and seeing how the people around them are reacting to the music on social media, even though the music is RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM.  Looking down, not up.  Awful.

Cranksgiving is right around the corner, folks.
Join together, I beg you, with your friends, family, pets, and most definitely your buddies and your 2-wheeled steed.  All that time which you will never get back.

Break away for an afternoon and ride something terrible, something you've been wanting to do for a while now but you were afraid of.  Something in the rain, or at night, or in another state that you shouldn't probably try to do - do it anyway.  Spend some quality time, phone-less, not looking down but actually in the real world, the universe itself which only exists in the six inches in front of your face.

At long last, log back in to reality, full sprint, looking up, up, up.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sled Dog Doping

It occurred to me that Sled Dog Doping could end up being the very last stand for clean-sport rhetoric.  The Maginot line, if you will, between making an effort to maintain competition by some semblance of fair standards and just giving up and allowing whatever is going to happen to finally happen, whatever that might be (Mad Max.)

I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand, dude, and across this line you do not cross...

It's one thing if you want to give yourself the needle.  Shitty, for sure, but your business.  I hope we catch you, and the impact - either way - is something you'll have to own on a personal level.  In a greater sense, I don't usually believe your accomplishments anyway - the sport at a professional level has devolved to that kind of universal mistrust.  I enjoy it, don't get me wrong.  But the minute you say "i've never tested positive" I know that you know that I know, and we can just sort of nod at each other and go about our business.

But some rich, White, wanna-be eskimo with a bizarre, pack-driven need for speed way up in some godforsaken corner of the arctic circle giving his dog drugs so HE can win.  FUCK THAT GUY.  This seems like too far, even for a morbidly amoral population of speed freak assholes such as ourselves.  Even Lance Armstrong, Ryder Hesjedal, maybe even Francisco Mancebo would look at this and probably say, "woah, dude.  WOAH.  That's a little much, isn't it?  Think about what you're doing."

Canine doping.  The end of the road.  Cyclists, even as morally bankrupt about this kind of shit as we are, this is where we have to draw the line.

I hope your dog bites your face.

Up, up, up.

Friday, October 20, 2017


Somber morning here at Paranormal HQ, having just learned that Gord Downie - the voice and driving force behind The Tragically Hip - did, indeed, finally depart the earth this week.  It was just a year ago that I learned of his cancer diagnosis, and I was lamenting how sad I was going to be when this finally happened - and wouldn't you know it, it did, and I am.

At Woodstock in '99, they played this awesome set - and about 20 minutes in during "Nautical Disaster" he stares out at the crowd, wind blowing about 30 miles/hour, his tie whipping in the wind and Canadian flags streaming from stage right to left, and I hope he knew in that moment how much he meant to Canada, and how much he meant to the rest of us too.

Anyway, on that note, I'll take to the lectern and make my annual predictions for greatness and not-so - then we'll adjourn for the weekend and find out how wrong I am about everything.

Prediction 1 -
With 70 pre-registered attendees already, I believe this Paranormal will push the edge of largest Paranormal ever.  Someone said this is year 15, having now been hosted here at the Rancho relaxo for twice as long as it was hosted at Panorama farms.  In that time, I think we've exceeded 200 racers only once, and that was to support good brother Scud in his darkest hour.  But this year, and for no other reason that sheer inertia, I think we will go over 200 again.

Prediction 2 -
Ricky Everington for the W.  I spent some time last night in the lounge of pain that is Ricky's draft, but only when he was taking it easy enough on me to allow me to hold on.  It's been a while since someone had to go easy on me like that on my own trails so I could keep up - it was sort of like how I might ride with a child, allowing them to follow and even lead some without abandoning them in the woods because they might cry.  So yeah, if he can stay on course, Ricky for the W.

Prediction 3 - The lap is 7.5 miles, no matter what Strava says.  Over 1,000 feet of gain per lap.  It's dialed, leaf blown, marked, and pimped almost beyond recognition.  And it still takes almost 45 minutes at top speed.  I guess Ricky and Johnny P might go under 40 minutes a couple of times, but not for long.  Doing the math here on my abacus, I think 8 laps will win it.  

Prediction 4 - Perfect weather.

Prediction 5 - Spectacular Costumes

I'll trail off on that note.  Online registration is all wrapped up, but remember there's an enormous amount of race-day registration that happens for people who aren't great at planning, just like you.

See you fireside, then?

Up, up, up.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Predictions of Glory! (not until tomorrow...)

Registration for the 2017 Paranormal bike race closes in 7 hours and change.  But let's face it, any hope you had of actually racing this thing died long ago, right around the time you started scheming for how to best make your bike look like a veiny, uncircumcised phallus.

And I applaud that.  You know what you're good at, which is the costumes, having fun, drinking beers part of the Paranormal, and like 90% of the people who will be present, you'll be there to have fun the old fashioned way: intoxicated, among friends, laughing Brunswick stew out of your nose by the campfire.

There are a few, though, who will have fun the other way.  Which is 6+ hours of fury around a shit-hot, 7.5 mile single track loop that has more or less a thousand feet of up and down.  Those details still being worked out (in some cases, actually being built.)  But never mind that.  Looking through the current list of contenders, and contemplating the annual predictions that I am bound by birthright to make tomorrow on the eve of the race, a couple things jump out at me already:

1)  Mike The Hurricane Coco and Matt Kesecker aren't technically registered in the same category.  Not that they won't be both racing singlespeeds (The Hurricane doesn't even own a derailleur, as far as I know), not that they won't be absolutely murdering this loop with huge gears that I couldn't even pedal down Afton, and not that they won't be neck and neck at the bitter end, trying to crash each other into the creek for the glory of the top step...but they're not actually registered on the same page of BikeReg.  Interesting...

2) If you count Matty K, there are 20 fast, solo men signed up at this moment, but how many are actually there to race is impossible to say.  Hard to think Ricky Everington is coming for the party and not the glory.  Ditto that for multi-year Paranormal Champion, Johnny P.  But Thomas Bouber?  If he's there to hurt you with real intent, well, you're gonna get hurt (he's Dutch.)  But is he?  There's no way of knowing.  The same can be said for a lot of those names.  So picking a winner based upon pedigree alone won't due this time around - you've gotta have pedigree AND the fury in your heart to race hard for 6 hours in late October.  Which is not a common pairing.

3)  The solo women's category, like almost every other category, is a little lean on entries at the moment - and I know for a fact that the people who will win many of those categories aren't yet signed up.  So with 7 hours left to get your shit together, I ask that you actually get your shit together, tap all those clicky letter thingies down there under your enormous pumpkin pie eating fingers, and make my job of pre-picking a winner easy.  Vegas is counting on me.

That's it until tomorrow, at such time I'll chime in with who I think will get paid for their efforts, and who won't, and then we'll sign off for a weekend of actually finding out which is the fun part anyway.

Until then, I remain, yours truly...

The Haunted Head.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Costume idea # 387,110

This one just in from Marky Mark.


You got that right.

I'd write "up up up" here, but I just can't in this context.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Jumped by Bees.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, throws a left hook like a nest full of angry ground bees.

On the bright side though, which I've been making a real effort to find in all things lately, paranormal costume idea #987,016 is taking shape:

And that shape is swollen.

Busted up, but race ready.  What's your plan?

Up, up, up.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Ain't No Half-Steppin'

Mmm. Mmm. Mmmm.
That kind of smooth is never coming back.
But - assuming you too don't become a statistic between now and the time you click the button - you can sign up for The Paranormal:
Ain't no half-steppin'.

Speaking of half-steppin', The Paranormal has become notorious as a non-race race.  Too much fun to have around the transition area, so why force yourself out onto another lap when it's getting dark?  That's the danger of half-night races that serve beer, I guess.

Last year, in particular, Ricky Everington rode himself onto the podium, not just through good form and skills, but also because he didn't really know anyone at the Paranormal yet.  In my experience, it's way, way easier to head back out on your 7th, 8th, 9th lap when your buddies aren't dangling beer and hotdogs in your face when you try to come through the pit zone hot.
Marky Mark costume selfie.  Watch out, Ricky.    
This year, I suspect Ricky will have his hands full.  He's faster than last year even, but he has more friends around the keg.  This often translates into 5 hot laps and a cab ride home.  Prove me wrong, Ricky.

Who, then, will come out victorious?
Remember when The Paranormal was a dogfight for the W, 12 to 15 riders deep?
This one comes to mind:

Lots of fast guys at the front of that one, breaking gear, cramping, giving it hell.  K-Rod came out on top that year...maybe 2010 or so?  I clearly remember being pretty drunk and stressing out about the outcome of that one at 10 PM.  OK, that's not true, I barely remember that.  But I do think a hotly contested race this year would be rad, if the contesters can manage to peel themselves away from the campfire and HTFU for ol' times sake.

At the very least, Half-Step.  Sign up and make it look like you're a contender.

What the photo says.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Accessory ideas for your Hugh Hefner Paranormal Halloween Costume

Hugh Hefner died yesterday, somehow having pushed the envelope of sexual misrepresentation and misogyny out to 91 years.  Moment of silence?  It's hard to know how to feel about this.

Since it's just yesterday that he passed away, I'd usually put my foot down here and say emphatically that it's "TOO EARLY" for a Hugh Hefner costume at The Paranormal.  But, in truth, the Paranormal has a long, long history with offensive costumes, and Hef has been dead on the inside for a long time anyway.  Indeed, this one we probably can't hold back, even if we tried.  So I'll just accept the modern world for how it is (emotionally and morally absent), embrace it, and offer up here some accessory ideas for your Hugh Hefner costume, were you to wear it to the Paranormal.

1)  Silk Robe.  Obviously this is the place to start. However, having worn a robe for a paranormal lap myself once upon a time, I can assure you that it's a huge pain in the ass to keep it out of your rear wheel for 8 miles of single.  That said, if you can somehow find a silk robe with a tear-away bottom, you'll have a much easier time keeping it out of your cassette, and Hefner would have LOVED a tear-away-bottom robe anyway. Check and check.

2)  Big box of Viagra.  Huge.  You're pushing 90 for chrisakes, and you've got a lot of work in front of you.  Maybe even have the box of Viagra actually be your duo teammate's costume.  Nothing says, "we're riding this shit all night" quite like Hef and his big box of pills.

3) Smoking jacket and a snifter of brandy.  Don't be afraid to get after that brandy a little bit too.  A little drunk and surly is accurate, and accuracy is everything with the judges these days.  Not lecherous though, not creepy or anything - in fact, the look is very friendly.  Think Arnie Palmer, but with a huge, omnipresent, semi-threatening erection that has always prevented you from playing sports.  More about that erection in a minute.

4)  Limo.  Not a bad idea to roll right up to the start line in a long, white limousine.  A harem of ladies who are less than 1/3rd your age streaming out on all sides before your grand entrance.  Seems like a good place for a roof rack instead of a hitch rack, but feel that out with the rental company first before just slapping your rocky mounts and bike on the top of a $90,000 automobile.

5) Harem.  But instead of a bunch of girls who are less than half your age, bring your pets.  For whatever reason, there is no human being on earth who will ever love you as much as the playmates loved Hef, but your labrador can get close to that kind of deep affection if you feed her enough pizza.  Be sure to bring enough spare sets of bunny ears to accommodate creek running, ball fetching, the occasional fight, pond swimming, deer chasing, etc.  A labrador can blow through a lot of bunny ears headbands in a single evening outside.

6)  Erection-bike.  I don't know how you'd pull this off, and I realize I'm hitting the bottom of the barrel with this one, but you just know the Best Costume award would go to a decent Hugh Hefner if you just committed to the full 6 hours of action and somehow pulled off a rigid bike as a fleshy, circumcised, (circumcised?)...I'm not sure.  There are thousands of women who could tell you, apparently, but that information doesn't seem be readily available on The Googles.  I'm getting off track here.

Obviously, I've hit rock bottom with this one.  Hef, we'll miss ya.  Wait, will we?  I actually don't think so.  Most people, I imagine, already assumed Hef was dead.  And that's not the point anyway.

The point is that The Paranormal is in 3 weeks.  Sign up, dress up, get it up up up.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Paranormal 2017

What-what.  What.  What?

 That's right.  The Paranormal will roll down the red carpet 1 month from right now.  Looking at your current state of non-fitness, tendinitis, and general disrepair, I can confirm that you are well and truly fucked as far as "racing" goes, whatever that is anyway.  But, as you and I both know, that doesn't matter, because this isn't about that.  This is about you looking incredible.  This is about celebrating the end of summer and the start of fall riding.  This is about drinking and eating and laughing and supporting CAMBC and fall beer selections and a variety of other annual things that deserve celebration.  This is about people like John Petrylak passing you 7 to 10 times over the course of 6 hours.   Technically, when Johnny P rolls through the transition area going mach 10 and you're lounging by the bonfire in your slutty MerMan costume drinking free beer and eating everything in sight, that counts as being passed.  And it feels amazing.  You look terrific by the way.

So really, I'm here to tell you that you have 1 month to swell up to non-race weight and wedge yourself into the most offensive, politically incorrect, semi-dangerous-to-ride-bikes-in-but-still-actually-ride-bikes costume you can muster.

And don't you dare tell me you don't have a costume.  I swear to Odin I will whack you right in the ding-ding with one of these leftover styrofoam Thor's hammers from yesteryear, make you carry it, and tie a cape around your neck that is long enough to almost certainly get wrapped up in your otherwise undecorated XTR derailleur.  Don't push me on this.  I've got enough lost and found costumes from years past in my basement to outfit the entire Wu Tang Klan, if for some reason Wu Tang didn't want to just come dressed as themselves.  (WuTang, if you come, please dress as Wu Tang.)

Plus, over the course of the last decade, I've spouted off about a million costume ideas right here in this hinterland of the internet.  A quick search should produce a lot of terrible ideas.  You can also youtube some paranormal starts from years past for ideas about how to look fantastic but still race your face off, if that's your bag baby.

Bonus costume idea, and hard to believe this is the case, but "young macklemore" in that fur coat with the baby blue scooter would be a good one.  Is Thrift shop really 5 years old already?  Jesus.  Anyone who can Fred-Flintstone a full paranormal lap on that Mackle-scooter, we'll have approximately $9000 in free beer and whiskey for you when you hit the finish line.  You'll need it.

There's a kids race too, typically starting at 3 pm, which conveniently is about the same time that Scotty emerges from his dressing room/creeper van in whatever sexually deviant, offensive, scary, wonderful costume he's managed to squeeze his chainsaw swinging triceps into that year.  Kids love this.  They don't get it necessarily, but instinctively they understand that it's hilarious.  No matter; we'll ply 'em with butterfingers and soda and point em out on a limited edition course in pursuit of Junior glory.

The big kids (read: YOU) race starts at 4 PM, or as soon as Shawn loads up the shotgun and lets one rip.  He'll shoot the shotgun too.

Anyway, by this point, most of you understand how this all works by experience, and those that don't can usually find real information on the world wide web.  I'd link you directly to said info - the sign up link/website/big blue marketing hype machine - for you to review, but Marky Mark has been out of the country, presumably wearing a fur fox skin, and holding down that seat at the end of the bar reserved for the guy who is just a little too old to be in this bar but he's here anyway.

But I'm sure he'll sober up soon and pull that stuff together for those who need it, which -  if you're reading this blog - is probably not you anyway.

Costume-Haters and Procrastinators: Get Your Shit Together.  I can't say it any clearer than that.

Until next episode, I remain, yours truly...

The Haunted Head

Thursday, September 14, 2017

These and other personal myths debunked, tonight on "Turning 40 next year"

Singlespeeding SM100 is actually easier than riding a geared bike.

I'm in peak trailwork shape right now, 4 or 5 hours of bench cutting per week has been totally fine.

I don't think I need any strength training anymore.  Singlespeeding and trailwork pretty much have me covered.

I'll never run again.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017


13 hours and 18 minutes of proving, as I suspected, that the expiration date on real, hard, terrible, deep endurance racing fitness is greater than a decade.  Even if you pull it out of the fridge, leave it in the sun, and don't touch it very often - it's still there, and it's technically edible.  You might not like it, but you'll survive.

And a smile to show for it.

In the name of science, I say.  Up, up, up.

Monday, August 14, 2017

For A Statue

When the City finally tears these monuments out of the ground - and now, because of 8-12, they will have no choice - they will melt them down right there on site, re-use the bronze to build new statues, to pay tribute to people like Heather Heyer who tried to fight off an invasion with open arms.

Because that's honestly what it felt like: An Invasion.  I really didn't care about our statues before 8-12.  I could see both sides - both the need for social progress and also the need to maintain an honest assessment of our past.  But I'm unclear on how one's right to march down the street with AR-15's, body armor, and gas masks in an act of intimidation is protected by the Bill of Rights as a means of peaceful protest.  Apparently, the legal line between open carry and brandishing has now settled right at the act of pulling the trigger.  These are strange times.  Somewhere, MLK must have rolled over in his grave, turned on the news, given it the middle finger, and then rolled back over and went to sleep.

I just don't think you can invade our town, kill the locals, and expect us to protect your statues anymore.

Like it or not, where once stood a monument in remembrance of The Lost Cause, the complexity and meaning of which we struggle to understand, we will have, instead, an equally-sized statue of Heather's Chihuahua, Violet, smiling in that way that Chihuahuas do.

Because Karma might be slow, but eventually it works.

A statue of Berke Bates and that birthday cake he never got a chance to enjoy.

A statue of Jay Cullen ripping it down Tilman West.  We could put that one over in Stokesville.  There are no words to adequately thank you for your service and sacrifice, Jay.  You were literally protecting my town in our darkest hour, and you paid for that with your life.

Revisionist History notwithstanding, I'm just sad at this point, and I'm sick of it.  Where before I think you could have split rooms in Charlottesville on the subject of Confederate Statues, I think 8-12 stacks the deck almost completely against them.

What exactly was the point, then?  

"What is this statue trying to tell him? 
Think of me when you put on a wig?  
Think of my wooden teeth and remember to floss?
Think of me before catching pneumonia?
Think of me when you lose to the North?
Think of me when you cross your next river?
Think of the memory of me outlasting my lifetime while you're going to die unmissed, unremembered, and unloved you stupid schmuck."

-Marianne Wiggins, Almost Heaven

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Look people.
If you want to live to see the nuclear apocalypse, you gotta survive a few more weeks.  And, assuming you ride bikes, which I assume you do a lot of if you're reading way down here at the bottom of the bike internet, then the PSA from Marky Mark below should be something you read, process, and act upon.

I'll trail off here, as I tend to do with most things before I'm actually finished, and just let MM do the talking:

From: Marky Mark
To:  Everyone

Hey everyone,

i know this subject has been beat to death on forums, facebooks, etc. But I really want to hammer this point home. 
We live in rural VA and commute 25+mi  to/from the city on rural roads for over a decade.  I ride my bike to/from the city and see on a daily basis the struggle between motorists and cyclists to get from point A to point B safely. Of a particular concern for me as a motorist and cyclist is the lack of daytime lights among cyclists. There is a false impression that hi-vis clothing makes you visible to motorists. In many conditions that is true. However during high contrast situations (sunny days along rural roads with intermittent tree cover) hi vis clothing is worthless.  
I have lost count the number of times I have had "oh shit moments" when I have suddenly encountered cyclists during high contrast days on rural roads. I have attached a photo to illustrate what I encounter as a motorist commuting home a sunny day. 3 cyclists riding single file. One in a hi-vis kit. They are doing everything right but they are not visible to motorists without a blinky. 
Y'all are my friends and I really want to see my friends arrive home safely. We as cyclists have the same rights to the road at motorists, but we are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to a 2 ton vehicle driven by distracted people. We need every advantage we can get. If you doubt that, you can ping Carla. She is an a jewitt brace for 6 weeks with two L4 fractures because she lost the bike/car battle on a rural road. 
Thanks and /PSA

I think it's 100% true - especially as we get down to the point when the end of days becomes really obvious, and the driving will become a little...tense, shall we say - that having a blinky on your butt could save your life.  For a little while.  

Commute away, by all means.  We all will have very little to lose anyway as that point as genuine panic and anarchy set in, and you know how some commuters ride pretty much nuke or shine (Noah.)

But please, blinky up.  
Every damn time. 

And up and up and up.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Beaver Results

Contributors are now sending me Beaver Pictures from other countries.  
The Beaver came and the Beaver went.  Results, if you're into that sort of thing, can be found here.  Other results...the ones that matter like good times, free beer, and Shawn being concerned enough for Will Leet's safety that he considered calling a cab to drive his wobbly ass home, were all unrecorded, but we'll cherish them anyway.

By the time the Paranormal rolls around, I reckon there will be 1 more mile of single track with a semi-decisive climb, which would make a lap about 8 miles with 1000 feet of up per.  Should be about right.

Until such time, keep the rubber side down and the beaver behind you at all costs.
He lurks.

UP.  UP. UP.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

El Beaver Diablo

The Beaver lurks:

She's 7 miles long, with 850 feet of climbing.  A moody beast - she is choppy at times, but silky smooth too.  Hopefully this big bucket of rain we're going to get on Friday quenches her thirst instead of pissing her off.

You diggin' The Beav?

Sign up, up, up.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Beaver Blitz

For this year, at the very least, The Chimney Chase will be departing county land, leaving her home at Walnut Creek, and moving North to private land.  And if the forces that shape our world have their way, it'll be renamed The Beaver Blitz, since there are no Chimneys to be chased, but there is a carnivorous, potentially rabid, cannibal attack Beaver to flee.

As can be expected with any change in venue, we have a flood of questions pouring into the mailbag about course layout, description, length, elevation change, smell, etc.  All worthy questions, especially the smell ones.  The truth is, since there was a wee logging project that recently wrapped up here at the Rancho Relaxo, the course it still, as I write this, undergoing some changes, a nip and a tuck here and there, and being taped for first tracks.  Some of it is virgin, never been raced dirt.  Clumsy, but enthusiastic, and with enormous potential.

I should have a GPX file up here in the next day or so, showing a conclusive distance, elevation gain, and clearly marked danger areas where the Beav might actually try to attack you.  But in a general sense, I can already tell you it's a little smoother than Walnut Crick, a little less climbing that Walnut Crick, and with many, many more bermed turns where you can just neglect your brakes and stomp all over your 10 Tooth cog.

It'll be a lot like this, but not exactly like this:

Think 9 miles with 1,000 feet of climbing per lap.  So a touch smaller that what you see above.  And without costume requirements.  But again, thanks for signing up and immediately questioning your own judgement.  You'll do fine.

You can drop me a line here if you have any questions.   And again, I'll get you a proper map soon enough.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Banana Milkshake to go.

This afternoon, in a unique failure of multi-tasking, I dumped an entire homemade banana milkshake into my helmet.

I tell you this for 2 reasons:

1)  I feel good about -  vindicated, even - by the fact that I don't fool myself by calling it a "smoothie."  Putting a banana in a glass of chocolate ice cream does not a smoothie make, no matter what Dunkin' Donuts tells you.

2)  I feel that the act of dumping a milkshake into my helmet is the righteous embodiment of how busy this summer has become for me.  For a long time, this blog has sort of revolved around the buzz of two events - Il Pantani and The Paranormal, Spring and Fall, with a meager smattering of brain juice in large spaces between.  But this year, there's a 3rd event happening here on the home front, and that is the Chimney Chase.  Given the tenuous arrangement between mountain bikers and the County right now, the powers that be decided it would be best to move the Chimney Chase to private land until this whole Ragged Mountain mess, and whatever else,  blows over.  So here it will be, July 30th.  There's a whole lotta trail work to be done between now and then - which I relish, as you know.  So I've been banging away at the ground like an insane person, trying to dial some new stuff in before the gun goes off, which it will, at 10 AM rain or shine.  And while we might not have Chimneys to chase per se, we do have a Beaver, and the chances of it not being 90+ degrees is relatively low.  So it'll still hurt plenty.  Sign yourself up and partake in the magic.

Did I mention that I signed up to race SM100 on the singlespeed this year?
That's been a long time coming, actually.  I'll be 40 next year, and these knees aren't getting any younger it turns out.  As one of those bucket list races that I realize I just have to get out of my system, SS-M100, as I have dubbed it, is something I can't keep putting off if I actually want to finish it.  The trouble with that, of course, is that singlespeeding is hard.  There's just no getting around that.  I came into the summer in pretty good form riding geared bikes, but upon hopping aboard the 1-speed  and promptly falling apart in under 1 hour, multiple days in a row, I realized I had some work to do.  So I've been chipping away at that, like the trail itself, and progress is being made.  Enough to survive on Labor day?  I honestly don't know, and I think that's part of the appeal.

One interesting nuance of single speeding, especially for long rides, is that there's simply no place to hide.  You can either turn the pedals over or you can't.  On a geared bike, you can always put it in granny, spin it out, and you can pedal to the top of just about anything, eventually, albeit slowly.  But on a SS, you just can't do that.  Nor can you walk the entire last 30 miles of the hundo, unless you want to finish on Tuesday.  So I'm trying to figure some of that out.

And dumping a banana milkshake directly into my helmet is the result, thus far.  So bare with me if the content is a little slow.  This is the speed I've got:

It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll, and sometimes you have to clean up first.  And up, and up, and up.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Paranormal Costume Idea #109,045: Alice Cooper

The Paranormal.  4 months, 1 week from tomorrow.  And speaking of which, The Paranormal course, post-logging-apocolypse, is coming along well.  So it would seem we'll have something around 9 miles of single to enjoy, race, and make dangerous passes in all the corners.
I think a really thoroughly put together Duo Team of Alice Cooper/Ozzy Osbourne might win the costume prize.  Young Ozzy or old Ozzy? Either way.  Tasteful, yet still terrifying.

Telephone is ringin.

Because if you want to get down, you gotta dress up.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


If you happen to be out in Snowshoe this weekend, sending it off every wooden structure you can find - bridges, teeters, random fences, houses, what have you - you'd be well-served (perhaps even over-served) to stop by the Wanderlust festival and give The Ballroom Thieves a listen.

Then get back to the sending it before the Yoga overtakes you.

Speaking of thieves, at this juncture, I don't believe Zach Stone's semi-famous, one of a kind cross rip has been recovered.  Which means that we have been heretofore unable to get out a pair of needle nose pliers and a blowtorch, get medieval, etc etc.  So the onus is still upon all of us to be vigilant, shoot first, and ask questions later.

And also on a previously documented but unfinished subject, it looks like Qwadsworth got himself onto the extended podium at Dirty Kanza over the weekend and from the scorecard, it appears he may have bullied a guy named Tubbs in a 2-up sprint for 5th. Even better, you can rest easy, world: Imposter Wadsworth, despite his big talk and showboating (which he didn't actually do, unfortunately) came in 45 minutes in arrears.

Proving, once and for all, that it's not how fast you ride.  It's how far you ride fast.

Maybe we'll have a proper race report from Qwadsworth in the coming days that documents the harrowing, 200-mile death march (the kind where you might actually die) that is Dirty Kanza.  If we don't, I'll just make it up.

I'm not fake news, you're fake news.

Up, up, up.

Friday, June 2, 2017



"It'd been worth him doing it, just so I could've caught him." - Vincent Vega.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I've always said that.

The power of the bike to bring people together is, perhaps, equal in strength only to its power to divide and subdivide us into smaller and smaller sub-groups.  It's an attempt to define ourselves as individuals, I get it.  But I fear it will affect the whole.

That's the danger of exclusion, I fear.  Your self-righteousness smells worse than your unreachable saddle.  Tall bikes, you ain't saving shit.

Especially when one of you decides to do some additional welding and installs a 4000 mm dropper post, and the whole cult comes unhinged over whether or not that's a part of your original principles.  Then you'll have two crews - tall bikers purists (crusty) and tall biker revolutionaries (sellouts).  No middle ground.  No dialogue.  Just a lot of jostling and fuck you's and terrifying long falls back to the Earth.

See also, The United States of America.

Up, up, up.  Like, really, terribly far up, which it turns out is not up at all.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

"What is journalism coming to?"

I sure am glad Tom Skujins is OK.  After crashing in the ToC last night, he staggered around in the road for a while, in traffic, looking sort of like a baby horse trying to find his legs.  Not good:

But if Frank Drebin can pull through such an on-camera daze, I'm sure Skujins will be just fine too.

Heal up, up, up, Kid.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Paranormal Costume Idea # 763,398

Paranormal Costume Idea # 763,398: Five Man Acoustical Jam.

Better get on that early, though.  It'll take some serious attention to detail - that purple shirt alone seems to defy physics by even holding on to Jeff Keith's wiry, chain-smoking torso.  Imagine him with a helmet on and tell me you don't see Richard Serton.  It would take some work, of course.  But for even one spectator to be like, "wait a minute, dudes, are you guys dressed as Tesla?" - it would all be worth it.

For authenticity, you'd have to smoke, which might inhibit your anaerobic capacity later in the evening.  But legends are legends, and you'd be playing your part in history, just another thing that rocked before Qwadsworth was even born.

And speaking of Qwadsworth, who is basically too famous to even check in most of the time these days, I've been getting shady text messages from him about his intent to race Il Giro D'Ville this year, a mere 4-day stage race to tune up his "i don't sit to pedal" ass before heading out to Dirty, Filthy Kansas to race 200 miles of sharp gravel on his cross bike.

Dirty Filthy Kansas, if you might recall, is where none other than Imposter Wadsworth lives , which I have to assume is the real reason our Wadsworth is going out there in the first place, to finally have the Highlander-themed showdown that has been brewing since I pointed out they share the same last name back in 2015 and Gordon proceeded to call Nathan all kinds of terrible names that I can't repeat here.

Again, as a devoted member of the cycling press corps, I'm committed to keeping you, the public, informed about how this all shakes out.  And though it might sound a little tired, haggard, pre-recorded even, I still think that Love Will Find A Way.

Which was my original point anyway.  TESLA.  Coming to JPJ tomorrow night, I'm told, opening for Def Leppard, just as they did in 1987.

Proving, once again, that the clock only runs one way, and that's up, up, up.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


So rarely am I out in front of a band that is on the rise.  Usually, I find out about great music shortly after the band breaks up, or someone vital to the sound dies, or goes to prison, or abandons the deal for a solo gig.  It's almost always over before I find out it even happened.

This time, though, I'm out in front of the fame, or some of the fame anyway, but just barely.  In about a year, when we're all rocking out to The Will Overman Band on our way back from the mountains on a Sunday afternoon, all sunshine and dirt and post ride buzz, I'll look over at you from shotgun (you'll be driving because i'm extremely drunk after consuming two entire bud lite limes) and swear I knew all about these guys and blah blah blah before they were big.

For a pittance, FOR FREE technically, on this Saturday eve, you too can be privy to the foresight and catch these guys in Afton at 530 PM.  Or make a difference for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  Or just go and drink something slightly more socially acceptable than BLL.

As one youtube commenter so aptly put it - "This man has Jesus in his Vocal Chords."


Last but not least - and all the bike content I can muster today - THIS JUST IN:

West Virginia kicks ass.
Like, literally.  It will literally kick your ass.

For sale: pelican cooler.  Slightly used.  Seller recommends you wash it before using it, but hey, you do you.

Freedom, dirt, beer, and blood.  You know what to do with it.
Up, up, up.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Legal Fiction

These cautionary tales we seem trapped in  - the ones about the limits of the voice of the electorate after the votes are cast and the powers that be start doing whatever it is they do, however they do it - the ones we call "Ragged Mountain" or "The United States of America" which are actually serving to dissolve the already tenuous belief of a semi-voting population that what they think matters, are making us all crazy.

It's like it says in the bible: "You can't trust freedom when it's not in your hands."  (Axl, 3:16.)
It's enough to make you lose track of reality.

But if I might dust off a little chestnut from our local elected official/fringe scientist, Rick Randolph, "Go ride your bike."

He's right about that.

The rest, I reckon, will be decided in court.

Someday, I aspire to be the sort of individual who can use phrases like "legal fiction" with a straight face, to actually believe that I know so much about the system that you, on your side, whatever it is, your thoughts and beliefs are literally made-up shit that should reside in the fiction section of the library, right alongside Judy Blume.  

Until such time, I'll just do whatever Rick says, and then vote my conscience at every available opportunity, which - as always - is the only voice anyone who believes in Legal Fiction actually has.

The voting booth: the one place where Fiction can become a reality.

See also, the United States of America.

Up, up, up.

Monday, April 10, 2017

No Bird

WaffleHouse, 5:00 AM on Saturday.  I'm on my way to do trailwork in the mountains for the morning - cutting the deadfall off of Fore Mountain Trail down near Douthat State Park, so I'm up early and I need breakfast.  And it happens to be the morning after prom.  I didn't realize that until I walked in, but here we are.  The place looks like a mushroom and feta omelette blew up somewhere around the middle of the room, and as the night has worn on and people have come and gone, they've halfheartedly dropped napkins at the mess without bending over.  The girls are long gone, apparently, but three 18ish year-old boys are in a corner booth, the broken down aftereffects of a long and mischievous prom night playing out it's final hour, and one of them keeps shuffling from his booth back to the jukebox and putting on King Missile's "Detachable Penis" from the early 90's, long before he was born.  
Detachable Penis is apparently hilarious if you're an 18 year-old boy on the tail end of prom night, which is at it should be, I guess.  Over and over again, Detachable Penis.  One of them knows all the words and can run through the whole bizarre monologue, and he doesn't hesitate to do so while another one, though clearly a little drunk, is trying to talk the girl behind the counter into giving him a job.  My "salesperson" Kelli as her name tag reads - and I use the term "SalesPerson" very loosely, because at this hour of the night at Waffle House the menu pretty much sells itself - has a tattoo on the inside of her forearm: it's a bird cage, with the door open.  The door is open, but there's no bird anywhere to be found, and I wonder what that means.  

This is the length of the economic divide our country finds itself in - just how wide it yawns these days - and we're playing it out in a little vignette in real time.  If the kids will just pay their bill, I assume Kelli can finish up and go home for the night, which technically will be the day.  But she has to wait for these kids to wear themselves out first, to pay her, which is taking longer than she might have suspected.  I'm at the very edge of this scene, pushing 40 years old - decades older, and certainly an entire sleep cycle ahead of these people - on my way to recreation the likes of which I don't suppose they care about.  

For hours, I will climb up Fore Mountain with a chainsaw, brusher, rogue hoe, and spend an enormous amount of time, energy, money, effort, and consideration on what to cut and what not to cut - and what I'm doing is not even recreation - not yet.  I am preparing to recreate.  A month from now, 50 of my buddies and I want to race down this descent on $5,000 mountain bikes as fast as we can, and cleaning it up now is a way we've found to enhance the experience.  So I'm doing all of this now, 100 miles from home, to have more fun on a vacation that I will take with my white, middle-upper class friends later.  White Privilege, one might surmise, is spending an entire day preparing to vacation.  

The Birdcage tattoo haunts me though.  If the door is open, did the bird already fly the cage and is so far away as to not even be visible at this time?  Is it, for example, on her back somewhere?  Or was it never even there?  Has the bird just not arrived yet?  Is she two paychecks from finally being able to add the bird to the tattoo which, if you're reading the story at its most literal, represents getting away from whatever nightshift waitress paycheck situation she's in to begin with?  She stands there, watching these three teenagers, not that much younger than her but also WAY younger than her, and she's basically a statue but not quite.  I can't help but think she represents something.  She fidgets, naturally.  It's 5 AM, and she's out of cigarettes, so she bums a smoke from the guy on the grill, who is frying me a skillet of bacon, eggs, hash browns, and cheese that probably carries in the neighborhood of 3,000 heart-stopping or mountain-climbing calories, you choose, and she steps out back for a bit, and I never see her again.  

"Prom night," the grill man shoots me a wink and sets the huge plate of shit down in front of me, and suddenly I'm in on this, if only for a few minutes at 5 AM when pretty much everyone who is awake off of exit 94, regardless of your pursuit, converges at The Waffle House.  To love the mountain, I have found at times, is also to love its people.  

"Pay your bills" the grill man tells the kids.  
Kid #1 feeds the jukebox and selects Detachable Penis for what has to be the 10th time in the last hour.  
"Pay your bills," he tells the kids again.  
Kid #2 says hire him and he'll liven the place up.  I'm sure he's right about that.  
"Pay your bills, Please." the grill man tries this time.  
When I leave, the full moon is setting in the West and there's just a hint of pink in the sky behind me, and those kids are still sitting in the corner booth.  

Monday, March 27, 2017


MOONSHINE.  It's been a long, long time since I was so obsessed with a single trail.  But wow.

Make it a point to get out there while it's still dirty, fresh, and amazing.

The rest of this blog entry is postponed for moonshining.
I'll be back when the stoke level levels out a little.

Down down down down down down down...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Measured by Men

5-8 inches of snow.
2.4 inch tire.
6 inches of travel.
19 inch seat tube.
A fast 30 mile loop.
A quick nap.
A bite to eat.
A 12 percentage point lead in the polls.
A 10 minute climb.
All downhill from here.

One could write a book filled with lists of all the things that men can't accurately measure.  And of all the things that we, as a gender, can't quite add, I would estimate that snowfall is perhaps our most inaccurate.

But, of course, that's my estimation, which I am gender-prone to missing by an enormous margin, so pay no mind to it.

It's a good thing truth doesn't matter anymore, given our propensity to stretch it.  Otherwise, we might do something wild and crazy, like elect a woman.  

If you go deep into our current and massive discord as a culture, you'll find exactly this: two people who see the same thing two different ways.  It's easy to look at the world how you look at it, see it the way you see it, and call the other side wrong.

I don't think we'll get any better at measuring until we, on this side, look at that quarter-inch of snow and at least wonder a little if it's actually maybe 6 inches and we're the ones who can't see it accurately.  At least be open to it.

Maybe bikes DON'T belong there.
Maybe the EPA does need scrapped.
Maybe we are the ones who can't measure.
Not that any of those things needs to be true.  I'm talking about a mindset that yields the possibility that you might be wrong.  You're not wrong.  But you MIGHT be.

In my memory, I did the SM100 in 8:40 back in 2010, the year before my kids were born.
I dug through the bowels of the internet and pulled up the actual result just the other day, and in fact, I did the SM100 in 8:47.  But it was only 92 miles back then.  And that was in 2009, not 2010, and I raced for Bike Factory.

The transportation of the mind from belief to reality - that millisecond where the truth sets in - like politics, feels terrible.  We don't quite understand, and we never have.  It turns out WE are the asshole.

There's snow in the forecast for Saturday.  6 inches?  The truth is that no one actually knows.
We can only keep trying if, first, we listen.

Up, up, up.