Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting.

Is the environmental jewel, the fragile ecosystem of Ragged Mountain about to be politically pilfered, STOLEN, I daresay, from the birdwatchers, the dog haters, the barefoot hikers, and the natural elite who have done such a super job taking care of it for the past 30 years...

Or, are we witnessing a changing of the guard?

Can we accept the rapidly changing and bizarre world for what it is, and operate within the framework allowed in our modern, fluid, massively imperfect society, where we stop obsessing and defending how we think things SHOULD be and start dealing with exactly and precisely how they really ARE?

More succinctly, are overprivileged white people genuinely capable of sharing?

It all remains to be seen, I reckon.

But know this, the hard lesson about holding on too tight:

That which you sacrifice to keep you eventually lose anyway.

Up, up, up.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Also, not all is lost in the world.

 Woodberry Forest Pump Track.

 Yesterday my kids didn't even know what a pump track was until about 3:00. Now it's ALL they know.

 Coming soon to a Preddy Creek near you? We shall see...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Not all is lost in the world.

The Pantani ride happened, but that's so 2005 it's barely worth mentioning.

What matters: The Future.

It will be cool to tell people, some day, that you knew them back when they were groms, before they made it big, when they were stuck holding down the fort while their parents celebrated a dead roadie who did EPO.

Brian Lewis might have sent the whole Pantani route in 2:39, with a flat tire, on a road bike, into a headwind, shattering the record by 18 minutes or so.  That's cool and all.  But these kids rip.

The whole thing reminds me that I should be building much bigger berms.

Thanks to all who came out, shredded, drank all the beer, and made it home safely.  Prepare to be a part of how things used to be.

Into the future, and up, up, up.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

You've got questions, I've got questionable answers.

The mailbag is full, overflowing, with good people who should know better than to associate with such a tawdry, ragtag, non operation as Il Pantani.  But they simply can't look away.  Il Pantani is like the Crystal Meth of gravel non-races.  No really, there's a lot of Meth out there, so be careful.

Let's go straight into the mailbag, and I'll see if I can settle some of these queries once and for all.

1)  Is it really going to be 69 degrees for Pantani on Sunday?

Naturally, given the fact that it's February and you used the number "69", I assumed this was a prank email.  But no.  Indeed, it appears we're on a warm streak here the likes of which has not been seen since China came up with this whole global warming hoax.  And the forecast for Charlottesville does currently say it'll be exactly 69 degrees on Sunday afternoon.  So yeah, I guess it'll be a warm one.  But no way will it hit above 60 degrees out there atop the pop.  In fact, I bet you'll want a jacket for the decent down into the arctic tundra that is Bacon Hollow, where snow is forecast to actually fall and stick tomorrow morning, despite the fact it's currently 72 degrees.  Make of that what you will.  Dress warm, dress light, dress however you want - but dress awesome.

2)  Should I ride my 1X10 MTB or my cross bike?
 A 1X10 mtb, even if you are running a 34T front ring, will probably leave you spun out and dropped in the first 2 miles.  That start down Markwood is like a road race.  But then, on brokenback, a 34X36 is not nearly sufficient to climb brokenback after what you've done to yourself for the previous 2.5 hours or so.  So a 1X10 mtb is a rough choice on all surfaces.  Then again, a cross bike that has similar gearing deficiencies is probably worse.  But at least it'll roll nice until it doesn't.  Was that helpful?  No.  OK then.

3)  Can I get a coach and a training plan that'll help me get fit by Sunday?
You know what, YES.  There are lots of options on this front these days, but B-slow, local pro, Past Pantani-Runner up, Tour De Burg champ, Battenkill champ, and just all around good guy is now an in-town resource for screaming at you to get you in shape.  Coaches, of course, are not for everyone.  But if there's one dude who could take you, in whatever state of disrepair you are in, and actually improve your performance between now and Sunday, given his history as an underground and gravel racing boss, I think B-slow could at least help.  I'm not sure how he'd do it, though.  Just look at yourself.  Jesus.  How did this happen?  Anyway, give him a call.

Though around here, I imagine the biz dev conversation for the new coach in town going something like this:

I got a coach.
You got a WHAT?  How long have you had that problem?

4)  Has VDOT dumped gravel back there on the mountain yet?
As of today, Wednesday, no.  It's smooth as silk back there.  Which makes me believe they are waiting until Friday or Saturday, or maybe even Sunday morning, to get to work.  Pinch flats for one and all.  See also, Huck Norris.

5)  Will you cancel Pantani if it's over 80 degrees?  
I will not because I cannot.  You see, I'm not in charge - in fact, no one is.  This is a mob, not a monarchy.  Going with the flow is not just a good option, it's the only option.

6)  Can you recommend an appropriate Singlespeed gear for this route?
 Every year someone comes to me with this question, and I hastily link them to Kev-29ers gear doc.
Then I mumble a few obscure comments about gear inches and metric vs American standards, and I try to blend the conversation back into something else that I don't know anything about before I'm exposed as the single speeder-fraud that I actually am.  To that point, take note, I don't know.  Kev29er might chime in here with real wisdom, though it's worth noting he'll be only slightly under-gearing on Sunday with a 1-10 mtb.  SOFT.

7) Who is your pick to win?  
Ricky StillGetsCardedInBars Everington.  3 hours flat.  Long live the 26er!

But you read all that, and it didn't actually help, right?  I know.  Reading, and factual information in general, are both a thing of the past.  BUT, Marky Mark did chime in that he has procured a keg of minuteman IPA.  So you've got that going for you, if nothing else.  (You have nothing else going for you but that.)  So take advantage.

Sunday, 10 AM.

Up, up, up.

Monday, February 6, 2017


The truth is that Marco Pantani was too small to play sports.  Always undersized, he got bullied.  He loved football, but it was too easy to push him around.  He was a thumbsucker until he was 8 years old, tiny but with huge ears, and he was injury prone - always trying a little too hard, and falling down.  He got hurt a lot, and he worried his mother sick.  He was simply too small to ever be the hero of his whole country.  So his mother bought him a bike and hoped it would calm him down.

The effect of that bike, of course, was not what she anticipated.  Undersized, but with a passion and wrecklessness that belied his tiny frame, Marco Pantani climbed.  Up, up, up, into a sport where, in fact, being small happened to be a gift, and right into history.  Because fuck all those people who say you can't.

If he were still alive today, Marco Pantani would have been 46 years old.  Of course, that was never going to happen.  He was hit by cars 3 times before he was even 15.  He started taking PED's in his early 20s.  His cocaine addiction, by most accounts, was legendary.  The kind of fire he had just burns too hot to last.  As Matt Rendell, his biographer, wrote about him, "Marco had no future tense."  He climbed like that.

Don't get me wrong: he was also a cheating monster with a bad attitude.  But to take on Lance Armstrong, I guess you had to be.

So this week - skinny grimpeurs, unite.  It's your sport, after all.

Sunday, 10 AM, Up, up, up.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Vacuum

I simply don't understand how this has happened.  At a time in our lives when we need profound, firm, and heroic leadership, when it feels like we're on the cusp of disaster or greatness at the same time, when it seems like, at any moment, the explosions might start and never stop, when the dream we've been chasing for so long is almost within reach and we just need a little clarity, a little guidance to get ourselves to the next step, we've got...a ruthless void of leadership.

I'm talking, of course, about The Pantani Ride.

Il Pantani is February 12th, which somehow has become only 9 days from right now.
Holy shitting big rings.  I think I just cramped.

How does this always happen?  Every year, it's like January is too early to just start wailing on yourself on the steepest gravel climbs in The GC (Greene County, of course) but then, suddenly, it's a week until Pantani day, when you'll be doing just that, and you've done none of that, and it's not good.  Emphasis on wailing.  The kind, though, where you've been throttled, not vice versa.

And yet, out there where you'd imagine there'd be hope, re-assurance, updates on course conditions, positive affirmations about the existence of the event itself, etc....nothing.  I did, however, nominate Marky Mark for Secretary and Dark Overlord of the Posterior, but his confirmation hearings have been delayed for a thorough character assessment.

So in all the places and ways that your lost, weak soul needs soothed, there's a vacuum.

sssshhhhhhhhhh.  You can almost hear it.  Being and Nothingness.

But enough of that.  Let's get into the heart of this before the heart goes tock.

1)  The Pantani Ride is Sunday, February 12th, at 10 AM.  It's really happening.  If you happen to see Justin Beck, who notoriously was left behind one year for arriving at 10:01 AM, please remind him that the ride goes live at 10AM right on the frostbitten nose.  And ask him to pack me some extra tubes.

2)  The Pantani Ride is not an official event with things like a sign up link, insurance policy, registration, support, supportive people, supportive anything of any kind.  It's a group ride, if you can call getting dropped and left on the side of some godforsaken gravel road in the GC being a part of a group.  But it's not organized or official or sponsored by or anything of that nature which might imply an officiating body and person really in charge.  No indeed.  There might be a waiver this year, but that's about it.  Let me be perfectly clear about this: if you fuck up, you'll be left for dead and eaten by  cannibal hill people and their feral pets.  So do your best not to fuck up.

Pretty good chance we'll have a heckler with booze to hand out somewhere they should probably not be doing that, and we'll almost certainly have the dedicated Pantani restroom available:
3)  It's 48 miles or so, the first half of which is lovely, rolling gravel, but done at a hail mary pace the likes of which you've never imagined.  So it sucks.  The 2nd half,  on the other hand, was drawn up by some complete, nihilistic asshole with very strong calves, but it'll be taken at approximately the speed of smell, maybe slower.  Really, you can smell the guy behind you.  That's how slow you're going.  So it sucks too.

4)  The right bike is a subject of hot debate in the shady netherworlds of the dark net where such things get sorted out (Facebook.)  General consensus is that any bike you might choose will be inadequate for at least a lot of the ride.  The good news, is the route has been done freakishly fast on all manner of bike - mountain bike, road bike, cross bike, dedicated gravel bike, etc.  The overall winner, for as long as I can remember, has done so on a hardtail mtb.

5) Weather.  We delayed Il Pantani once upon a time because the weather was cold enough to be scary.  But last year, we rolled in 20 degree frigidity, and it was fine.  So it's on, rain or shine, especially since the current, 9 day, 100% reliable forecast from Weather.com at this time says 55 and perhaps a shower.  In the universe of Pantani Ride Virginia February weather, that's like a birdie.

6)  Current Conditions - right now, 2/3/17, the whole thing is smoother than a sweaty, steel top tube.  If ever there were a year to try it on a proper road bike, it'd be this year if those conditions hold up.  But it's important to understand that they probably won't hold up.  Around this time, every February, the county gets to work out there grading, digging, dumping gravel, and generally turning a glossy semi-paved road into a monster truck pit, rendering your 23c road tires flacid and worthless.  So make your decision on that stuff about a week from now, not right now.

There are route maps up on ridewithgps, strava, mapmyride, google, etc.  But here's a pretty good one with a queue sheet to print, wrap in aluminum foil, take with you, and hang onto until it's dark, late and you realize you're going to have to eat it for dinner because it's all you have left.

And here's a map that's not so good, but remarkably, it tastes exactly the same.
When you get right down to it, it's like any other ride, where your best chance for survival is to just find some friends, all of you get behind Will Leet or Thomas Bouber or one of those proportionately gifted individuals, draft at all costs, and wait for the fireworks.  

Because the Fireworks are comin'  


A week from Sunday.  

Up, up, up.