Wednesday, March 22

The Tour duh Charlotte '17: Part три

Same preface as the past two days.  Putting on the Tour duh Charlotte is a big team effort.  I am but a cog in the Faster Mustache machine.  My tale is the only one I can tell tho, as I only spent the entire day with myself.

After making sure I still had all the things I would not want to lose, I head over to the spectator area of the Backyard Trails stage.  Lots of happy faces under a now clear sky watching the racers finish the very last bit of competition.

photo cred: Zac Avant
Once we got everyone in, it was time for the long eight mile slog back to the Savona Mill where our day originally began.  A shitty climb up the now busy Tyvola Road and we get to the bike lane/path/good times.  I'm riding with Watts now and he quickly realizes we're on the same route as the infamous Watts Fappening.

"I want to stop at a brewery." ~ Watts

A conversation ensues about which of the seven or eight breweries that we're about to ride by is the least douchey, most convenient, has the best beer selection, and wouldn't be (terribly) crowded.  We decide on Unknown, and as we approach, we pull out of the peloton and park our bikes.  I run in, make the purchase, we see Nathan and Bill Nye riding by, snag them, and now we are four.  Finish our beers... roll in together.  Not in time for me to get in the team photo tho.

photo cred: Weldon Weaver
The scene upon arrival is amazing.  So many people.  The line for food is stretched around as far as I can see.  I've only had a slice of pizza and my handful of bacon since my breakfast at 4:30AM.  Meh, I guess beer is food too.

The rest of the evening... things got hazy.

photo cred: Erik Minman
There was that.

And some of this:

photo cred: Weldon Weaver
More people than normal stuck around until it got pretty late (late for a 47 year old).

photo cred: Weldon Weaver
Joey using the bullhorn to educate the people on all things celestial...

photo cred: Weldon Weaver

photo cred: Weldon Weaver
while I used the bullhorn to de-educate them.

Things started to thin out, and eventually it was just Zac, Kate, Watts and myself.  We had planned on sleeping... somewhere on property to kinda keep an eye on all our team stuff until cleanup the next day.  Watts, who was unable to live the  #vanlife because his van had given up on the "life" part that morning, slept in the back of his Honda Fit.  Kate, Zac, and I huddled into the open-sided shipping container and melted into a beautiful slumber.

Yes, there is more to the story coming.

Tuesday, March 21

The Tour duh Charlotte '17: Part Deux

Same preface as yesterday.  Putting on the Tour duh Charlotte is a big team effort.  I am but a cog in the Faster Mustache machine.  My tale is the only one I can tell tho, as I only spent the entire day with myself.

The stage I'm in charge of making a working thing seems much bueno.  I'm delighted to see people ride up a decades-old, rock-strewn line nobody even looks at anymore... more delighted to see them fail tho.  I get a chance to finally relax (a little).

photo cred: Scott Pagan
Jeebus.  I stress too much to be cut out to do this.  Worried about things like having enough beer to hand to spectators, lap counting, tape pulling, sagging to the next stage...

I can't wait to be removed from any and all responsibility.

The stage ends and everyone is unscathed... well, at least moving and not ded.  My two impromptu volunteers help me scoop all the tape, and we head to Stage 3.

A mostly uneventful ride over with a small amount of saying "you're sagged and I'm sorry," and we roll into our one stage that's not exactly a real mountain bike trail.  We regroup with everyone waiting to hear if the stage is ready to go.

Colin is in charge and had been out marking the course before we got there.  He and I are the most "intimate" with the area.  He says that it's so impassable that they haven't even been able to make their way around the entire course to tape it yet.  We're going to have to cancel the stage.

Colin's bike.


Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck. Fuck.


What to do?

I scratch my head.  Think.  Ummmmm.

I thought I was done thinking?

Realize that no matter what we have to get from shitty point A to shitty point B and as shitty as things are, just getting from one place to the other will be hard.  Fuck it.  Get the party pace as far as they need to go and have the racers battle it out in the mud from here to there.  No laps on the planned loop.  Straight point-to-point.  It won't be fun, but it will be hard. I grab all the Faster Mustache teammates I can get my hands on so I can deposit them along the way as human course tape... because this is going to work?

photo cred: Ben Ullman
Jeebus Crackers.  The way we have to go to get to where we need to be... it's normally the best conditions of the entire place.  Tires are freezing up and clogged with mud.  People are at the side of the "trail", pulling and scraping mud off in an effort to get rolling again.  It was pretty surreal.  Lee gets the Party Pacers all in place, and we get the human tape where it needs to be, and the racers fight their way through 1.5-2 miles of pure shit.  It was... amazing.

And then we move on to lunch.

photo cred: Greg Cole
Which was still sorta a slog but not so bad?

A few miles later and we ended up at Noelle's house under blue skies which went dark and then wet and the bright flashes and rumbles of thunder and what the fuck?

photo cred: Greg Cole
Noelle kicking at everyone in sight and demanding grass seed.  Okay, not really, but the team owes her something big time.

With 250 or so people, we quickly realized we needed a four man team on two taps to keep the beer flowing as fast as possible.  Two guys pouring and two guys moving poured beers to the table, pumping the kegs and getting more cups desleeved (I'm a born natural at desleeving).  All tasks being performed one-handed, of course.

photo cred: Erik Minman

photo cred: Weldon Weaver
But two if need be.

And just as fast as we had been deluged with some strange rain at the most convenient part of the day, the skies cleared and we were able to move on.  Somehow, I was once again pressed into service, although I had been consuming at a rate that did not incorporate the possibility of more responsibility.  Easy job tho.  Just get the racers from point A to point B with almost zero logistical thinking.  Okay.

I get the racers where they need to be and lose my phone for the fourth time, but for the first time, I just lost it in my backpack and not on the ground or in a puddle.  Phone, keys, money... move on.

Part three of the saga... soon?

Monday, March 20

The Tour duh Charlotte '17: Part Uno

I want to preface this post by saying that putting on the Tour duh Charlotte is a big team effort.  I am but a cog in the Faster Mustache machine.  My tale is the only one I can tell tho, as I only spent the entire day with myself.

I wake up at 3:30AM,  and I realize it's Tour day.  All kinds of things coming blasting about inside my cerebral cortex.  I can't stop thinking.  Tired of looking up into the darkness, I get out of bed at 4:20AM to just do whatever until I need to leave for the venue at 6:40AM.

Drive over and get to work.  Arranging shit.  In the drizzle.  Wondering what the weather gods have in store for our day.  Shit.  We had a "dry plan" and a "wet plan" for quite awhile.  Three days ago, we decided "fuck everything, dry plan."

It's apparently not going to be dry.

photo cred: Ben Ullman
I have nothing better to do, so I roll down to the parking area to see who I know.  I quickly notice that our awkward parking area is filling up rather quickly.  Ummmm...

Do we have a plan for this?  Dunno.

I start trying to figure our where to squeeze who and what, and as I see us approaching critical mass, I start riding all the side streets I can find, looking for street side parking.  I discover something that doesn't look terrible where it looks like people that live there might park their cars and start directing people over there... the whole time knowing that if I'm wrong and they get towed...

Mebbe I go home early.

I start sending everyone there anyways.

Around 9:00AM, the vehicles are showing up faster than I can handle them.  People are parking in ways that are no bueno.  9:15AM and I get a call on the radio that I'm supposed to be at the volunteer meeting.  Meh.  I cry "help" and just leave as soon as someone else jumped into the shit soup.

The ride starts, and Colin and I leave early to pre-cork an intersection.  Even tho I had a good part in figuring out the route for the day, I brain fart and we miss a turn.  No big deal.  We turn around.... and see the pack of 250 riders coming right at us.  Woops.

Hurry up a bit and cork those couple places and move on to Stage One with the group.  I need to collect my volunteers... and I find one of two.  50% is better than 0%, I guess.  Two guys from Atlanta volunteer to jump in to fill the void and eventually we find Bike Town Mayor, Jeff.  We roll on rather quickly to my stage at Renaissance Park.

I figure out a way for us to tape the course in the fastest manner I can think of, stopping, measuring, moving to the next spot while someone else does the actual taping.  As we make our way around, the tape I pulled for myself from our huge stockpile starts to dwindle.  Funny, because I was in charge of the tape and gave most of it to the other stage coordinators so they would have plenty.  One turn away from being done, and we run out.  Doh.  We drag logs and barrels and whatnot over everything we can't tape.  Dammit.

I head out for one lap by myself and drag even more debris into ambiguous areas.  I feel the worst thing that can ever happen (that you should be in control of) is people getting off course because of poor markings.  Not on my watch. 

My radio goes off.  Everyone is arriving.

I nab all the racers and take them to the very wide start line heading across some soggy grass fields funneling into a two-wide hole in the woods.  On purpose.  Because.

Start the race and head off to find my beer and my bike...

Which of course has been hidden from me.


I expected as much but not when I need to not be looking for my bike.  Fortunately, Bill Nye tips me off to my bike's new location so that I can enjoy the very carnage that I did thus intend to create.

photo cred: Ben Ullman

photo cred: Weldon Weaver

photo cred: Weldon Weaver

photo cred: Weldon Weaver

photo cred: Weldon Weaver
 photo cred: Weldon Weaver

photo cred: Weldon Weaver

photo cred: Weldon Weaver
That's Watts and his bike.  It was stolen later that night (after the after party), and there is a reward for that bike or the balls of the thief.  I love this man almost as much I love shirts without sleeves, so if you see this bike, get at me so he doesn't have to ride PMBAR like this:

photo cred: Ben Ullman

More tomorrow (mebbe).

Thursday, March 16

Earth below us

Tour duh Charlotte go time.

Too much to do from now until it's over and done with Saturday night.  So looking forward to the event.  Kinda ready to get it over with.  I wonder what I'm going to be staring up at the ceiling and thinking about this Sunday night.  No more details to sweat.  Good times all behind us.  Nothing to anally compulse over for quite awhile.

Mebbe I could spend some time refining my morning processes and get my seven minute breakfast down to a six minute breakfast.  I know they say it can't be done, but they were able to fake a moon landing and no one thought that would ever be possible back in 1825A.D.

As soon as I can get through the very potential fog that I intend to create this weekend, I will post up my Tour duh Charlotte experience, which is never as good as the one people participating have, but I think that's how it's supposed to work.

Should be close to two hundred shining happy people holding hands on Saturday morning.   Seems like a fuck ton to me.

Wednesday, March 15

Never Unchain the Night (mebbe tho)

I love rubbing Tiger Balm on my clunky shoulder before I go to work on cold days.  The only downside is that no matter how well I wash my hands, I normally have it in both nostrils and at least one eye as well as feeling some limited exposure to my nether regions by around 9:30AM.  Pretty consistently.  The upside to that is I find that I'm able to breathe through my nose quite well.

So, there was some piddling to do while waiting for the snow to melt off the roads this past Sunday.  It was time to get rid of this:

What can I say?  I find using my phone a PITA for keeping track of mileage stuff when we're doing Tour duh Charlotte assploration type stuff.  I can't explain it.  I'm old, I guess.  I was even talking to Brian B about Garmins and whatnot on our casual Sunday assploration ride, and once again, I still can't figure out reason to get one, but I found more and more reasons not to.

It was also time to start getting the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 ready for the makings of great bike race.  It's only a few weekends until the 6 Hours of Warrior Creek.  A new "season" almost always means a new chain.  I love the KMC X9SL, as I almost always get exactly one year from brand new to .75 on the chain checker.

Had to make a tough call tho.

The silver was from my OG purchase of three X9SL chains years ago, the pink being the last of three from a $27.99 blowout deal, and the gold the last of two I found cheap for the Stickel Meatplow V.6.

I went with gold.  Had to.  I can't find the Pink Lady for less than $53, and now that I only have one left?  Just seems to precious to use.  My (mental) problem.

Also, I firmly believe that the hot setup for 6 Hours of Warrior Creek will be 27.5+ wheels and tires.  I pulled the wheels off the Stickel, mounted a Rekon+ in the rear, stuck them on the Vertigo... remembered something I wanted to try but was too lazy... but all the parts were just there at the moment.

Rekon+ 27.5 X 2.8 rear, Minion DHR+ 29 X 3.0 front.  Suddenly wishing I wasn't so lazy about this.  Meh.  I've got like zero time left to really play with it before 6WC and then I need to start getting ready for the meaty portion of my always front-heavy "season."  I've been fantasizing a about getting a NOX/Industry Nine "threewheelset" down the road.  A NOX Kitsuma 29" front, a NOX Farlow 29" rear, and a NOX Kitsuma 27.5" rear.  That would give me huge options for setting up my bike cycle racing bike.

And you know... options.  That thing I do so well with.  What was that thing I've said before about Mexican restaurant menus and too many options and being paralyzed with all the choices and possible mistakes I might make and just always getting the chicken burrito or getting something else and wishing I just woulda just got the chicken burrito instead?

Thus the reason the "threewheelset" is not on the way already.

Although with the Maxxis  Rekon 29 X 2.6 coming down the road?

A 29" Kitsuma front/Farlow rear would be way dope.


Tuesday, March 14

I'll do my best, but I'm not known for that

This has got to be my last post devoted entirely to TOGS.  It has to be.  I mean, how much can I yammer on about my tiny bar nubbins anyways?

Awhile back, I wrote a post about how much I miss these dorky things when I ride my mountain bike that doesn't currently have them.  Yeth, I've come a long way since the time I mocked them on Facebook by saying they are the "vestigial tail of the long-forgotten bar ends."  I figured I would take the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6 to Pisgah one more time without them, and if I still found that I miss them more than the scrumptious hoagies at the Dairy Bar in Linesville, PA, I'd buy another pair.

Well, someone at TOGS decided to make the decision for me.  Out of nowhere, I got an email telling me that my order was on its way.  What order?  I didn't place any order...

It just came like that.

Anyways, a couple Sundays ago, I was coming up on 50 miles of riding all over creation doing Tour duh Charlotte stuff and just letting my brain wander.  I was on the final stretch of shitty Monroe Road when I started thinking about why the hell I like these things so much.  Then the thinky part of my head figured it out.

Wrap your hand around the bar like normal.  Now, bend your thumb.

Your thumb doesn't do jack shit down there.  It's natural motion is closer to being parallel to the bars than it is wrapping around them.  Your fingers are just using your thumb as leverage, and your hand-crotch just takes the beating.

Now look at my hand on the bars with my thumb gripping the nubbin:

I'm actually able to grip the TOGS in line with my normal range of motion.  The more technical the trail gets, the more I can increase my grip pressure.  The bar isn't banging into my hand crotch either.

I feel safe and comfortable riding here, to the point where I spend the majority of my time with my thumb over the bars now.

I bought my first pair of TOGS back in May of last year after I hyper-extended my thumb in a very stupid, slow speed tip over on Trace Ridge.  Holding on to the bars like a normal person was just killing me... and I was going into the month of PMBAR, the Pisgah 111K and the Trans-Sylvania Epic.  Pretty much the most brutal month I was gonna face all year long.  I really didn't want to stick these things on my bike, but I was desperate.  I've hyper-extended* my thumb before in the past, and I know how long it takes to heal... even without pounding it for hours and hours on some of the most technical shit on the East Coast.

And the thing is, they did the trick.  Sure, I wasn't pain free, but I could hold on with a lot less pain and keep everything under control.  Dammit.  They're staying on there for good.

I do blather quite a bit about these things, but they are certainly game-changers for me.  They're just that good, and if you can get over the idea of having one more thing bolted on your bars, I think you should really try them.  There's not a whole lotta ways you can improve your ride this much for only $20.  Seriously.

Three sets of TOGS in the house, four bikes of mine own.

I tried the purple ones on my tarck bike because this:

So matchy-matchy, but they didn't work out so well on there.  My bars are very swept and a totally different width than anything else I own.

I hold on to the bars all over the place (that's why there are grips all over the place), and they just didn't feel 100%... which made my decision easier.  I literally use an infinite amount of hand positions on my work bike, thus the strange pink ESI grip extension that allows me that extra two centimeters closer to the stem...  I know, it's a bit obsessive. 

Anyways, I can put my this set on my fixed gear do-whatever machine.

Because this bike could use something bolted on the bars other than a bell.  I actually think these will be much bueno here (and was on Sunday's 40+ miles assploration ride).

The crabon ones ended up on the By:Stickel Meatplow V.6.

So, I guess I'm not gonna have to wait until my next trip to the mountains to figure out if I miss them or not... because I won't.

Hopefully that's the last time I devote an entire post to TOGS, but if you ask me what I think when you see me in person, expect more of the same.  I will talk your ear off.  Ask Scott Williams and he'll tell you.  Or Eastwood.

And if my bike is around, feel free to grab my nubbins or go for a spin (let me know you're doing it first tho).

* I've hyper-extended my thumbs more times than I can count, usually doing stupid shit.  It's been to the point where I can't use my thumb to pull the D-ring on my messenger bag to loosen the strap, take off my socks, squeeze a water bottle, or even hold down the elastic on my underwear to take a leak, because it was excruciating and also not so great for the healing process.  Strangely, I've been through it enough times that my muscle memory usually defaults to the more cautious habits I've learned to do all those things without using my thumb regardless of how my thumb feels.  Strange.

Monday, March 13

Woops, almost did it again

I went to bed on Friday night knowing a few things.  Charlotte was expecting 3-100" of snow on Sunday.  I wanted to ride my mountain bike on actual mountain bike trails at some point.  Otherwise... life.

I knew that the best case scenario was that I would get a "real ride" in on Saturday, and no matter what, if I wanted junk miles, I could pre-ride some of the Tour duh Charlotte party pace route to get it all in my head part.  That was the very loose plan.

I woke up Saturday at 5:54AM sensing a disturbance in the force.  Sizemore, sleeping downstairs, had an "accident."  Something he is not down with at all.  His no-eye having existence had found him in a corner behind my tarck bike in an attempt to avoid his self-created situation.  He needed saved.

So, now I'm up at 6:00AM.  Time to be productive... of course, after my seven minute breakfast and 32oz of coffee.  Why not do the family grocery-getting before the masses make it hard to negotiate the aisles with all their mouth-gaping stares at all the pasta options at Trader Joes?

I'm literally home before 9:00AM with a week's worth of groceries before anyone is awake in the house.  My "chores" are done.

The Pie awakes.  We end up having one of those weird standup conversations in the kitchen with coffee. Retirement, old age, money... I say something about the money in the bank that does nothing and buying a house... which is something I never wanted to do again after our first experience.

Go downstairs, Internet, find a house around the corner that is "reasonable," given our school district and whatnot.  Talk about equity, retirement, death... college.  Send an inquiry. 

My text goes off upstairs.  There's an open house at 1:00PM.  The Pie has a lunch date already.  I was gonna ride. She cancels, and I postpone.

I head over to the house dressed to ride thinking I'll take a look and hate it, and then I'll just ride over to the Backyard Trails.  I don't hate it at all.  I text The Pie who is out on a run and tell her she needs to come look at this house.  She shows up and finds me wandering around out prospective backyard in bare feet.  We walk around and talk about where her office goes, my bikes... things.  We leave feeling strange about the world.

I head out for a ride to the Backyard Trails.  She goes home to digest.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmm...

The Backyard's current state of change and progress.  Greenways, sewage, bridges...

the old vehicles that used to be near the trails in the woods are now just vehicles in a field by a giant greenway.

I get home and drop Nia at my mom's place so The Pie and I can have a date night which ends up being consumed with the discussion that we definitely didn't go to bed Friday with, talking about buying a house when we never thought we'd do that again.  Drink beer, watch a show... go to bed.

I wake up multiple times to see her not asleep.  Ever. Eyes that are wide open like a satellite dish.


Wake up to more discussion.  Soon to change school zones, financial futures, potential home market  bubbles...

In the end, we decide that were just not that ready to tie ourselves to that kinda thing.  We currently live debt free.  It's nice sometimes.  Okay... most of the times.

BTW: It did snow overnight on Saturday, but not a Charlotte grid-locking amount.  Is cold tho.  Wet roads.  Meh.  I now need a reason to leave the house to get exercise.

I piddled about in my bike room (more later), and reached out VIA Facebook looking for someone to join me on a semi-bullshit route around the Tour duh Charlotte course.   Brian B was the only one to agree that it was not a terrible idea.

I packed my things.

We got a strangely nice ride in.  We discussed the oddity of it all at one point. 

Ask me to go on a 40 mile road bike ride?  No.

Ask me to fuck around all over town on a mountain bike?  Yeth.  And please.

Brian playing deflated basketball garbage can hoops at egg/beer stop #2.

Most of the route completed, we stopped at Triple C for a beer (on the way) and Birdsong (less on the way, but okay).  Brian harassed Eastwood VIA text that we were stopping by to interrupt his life for beer, but he only had a life and no beer.

He was playing street rules Uno, so okay.

And then home before the new dark hour in time to realize I haven't shaved in a week but could probably get another day before someone says something.

One week until Tour duh Charlotte.

Generally speaking, it was a good weekend.  One that will be remembered as the one where we almost accidentally bought a house.  If I would have just went to Wilson's Creek, this whole thing could have been avoided.