Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Racing into Shape

With my shoulder feeling great, it was time to start racing again.  With having been off the bike for so long I didn't feel the all out efforts of the Southern Classic Series was the way to go for me - no way for my fitness to be anywhere close to that.  I rather enjoyed the individual challenge of the 6 hour race, and with a brand spankin new series unfolding in our area it seemed to be a perfect fit.

The first race of the series was here in our backyard - I will avoid any political discussion regarding how the new series pulled of a race in Lake Norman State Park when previous attempts had been denied....  The race kinda snuck up on me, but I was about to go out to pre-ride the course to gauge what to expect.

Leaving my pre-ride left me with questions...  Keep the Charlotte gearing I had on to take advantage of the fast rolling course (many PRs on the pre-ride) or gear a bit easier for the long haul?  I kept going back and forth, but ultimately I decided to go easier on myself as I was jumping back into things.

Leading up to the race I wasn't too worried.  I knew some fast guys would be racing SS, so I had no podium concern - I was free to ride against myself.  What I was worried about was parking.  The promoters got me a bit nervous the night before with this post.

The race sold out.  No problem.  But a sold out race with limited parking... and parking not open until 8?? All I could picture was a line of cars waiting at a locked gate to grab precious parking/pit areas.  Nerves all riled up.. What time do I have to get there, what time do I have to get up.  What if we don't get a spot - Annie was coming with me and there was no way she was parking down the road... My plan was to get there early and deal with no spot if it happened (with Annie manning the pit and plenty of parking in the upper and lower lots we would have made it happen).

As I was driving up to Lake Norman I didn't see vehicles with bikes... I'm beating the crowd!  A mile before the exit I see a mountain bike on the back of a vehicle - "You aren't taking my spot!"  I pass them and off the highway we go.  As they follow I realize it's Craig and Emily.  I only saw one bike though...  Either way, it's my parking spot!!

Pulling in the place is pretty much empty.  Choice of spots.  Nerves riled for not good reason.  In fact, the spot next to me was open up until about 9:15.  Whatever.  Pit area set up.  Annie taking a nap.  Sitting around for waaaaaay too long before the race.

Long enough to get my picture taken.

6 hour race on the Glow Worm, of course I'm racing for Team Glow Worm!

Pre-race announcements:

  • Short cut out of Monbo to avoid the two way entrance/exit - figured (and good call!).  
  • $50 hole shot award.  Not going to be me.  
  • Strict 6 hour cut off - whatever you finish when the clock hits 6 hours is what you finish with, if you are still on the trail that lap doesn't count.  This is a little different than other 6 hour races, typically they have a cut off for when you can leave for a final lap... so this makes my goal of 6 laps a little more challenging.

We head out en mass.  I pass a couple people on the initial gravel incline and into the trail we go.  The pace is quick as we run through the first loop which probably has all of the technical and short ups for the entire course.  Everyone seems to handle it ok, so I stick with a group.  We hit the pavement for a short bit to get to the second, larger loop.  I let a couple guys get by on the pavement and then on we go.  First lap feels ok.  My legs don't seem to be completely there, but my pace is quick and they don't seem to be fighting me too much about it.

First lap through and I've been good about staying hydrated as the temps at start time were way too high for my first race back (being a northerner and all - it's too damn muggy this time of year!).  I don't stop and roll through for my second loop (Annie cheering me on as I toss an empty bottle).  I fly through the first section and onto pavement, again I look to let any geared rider by before we hit the single track.  I catch a couple riders and pass them as they gear down for a climb.  I have a geared rider latched onto me and offer to let him go as things turn down - he declines noting that the biggest climb is coming up.  I let it rip and drop him on the downs.  He catches back up when it's more horizontal, and I drop him on the climbs.  We have a good chat as I pull him through the remainder of the lap.  I don't realize how fast I am pushing things until he mentions the pace I'm pushing as we hit a fire road halfway (or a bit more) through the second loop.  12mph - whatevs (in subsequent laps I check my speed on this bit and I'm more in the 8-9mph solo).

As we hit the pavement back to the finish/start he sticks with me - class act really.  I expected him to drop me hard once we got onto the pavement, but I guess he appreciated the ride I gave him.  Time to pit.  I stop - eat a little, refill bottles, and try to keep it moving.

I head out with no one around.  My legs have dropped completely off as my mind fades.  I feel like I have nothing at all as I grind the slightest climbs.  Downhills are still fun as all hell so I try to push as hard as I can there to keep some sort of race performance going.  Here and there I get some mojo back, but more so than not I feel like I'm dragging cinderblocks on fumes.  Grinding up one of the final climbs I find a younger rider on the side of the trail.  I yell to see if he is ok and he says he is not.  I stop to see what is going on - his quads are killing him - cramps.  I offer him some mustard.  He looks at me like I'm crazy but downs it with a little coaxing.  I advise him to keep drinking and rest and hydrate when he gets back to the pit area.

I am forced to pit again.  This time I lay about, trying to collect myself.  I elevate my legs some, eat more and pull myself up for another lap.  This time my legs are kinda back.  I've got a little more zip and I'm able to push harder here and there.  Again, riding mostly solo hurts mentally and I let myself slow roll a little too much.  I'm starting to feel it EVERYWHERE.  My legs don't so much hurt as they just don't seem to work well.  The rest of my body is hurting, my ass especially.  My first go around with a 6 hour I used too much chamois cream.  This time, I forgot about that... coulda used some!

Pulling into the start/finish area I'm debating if I should roll through to claim 5 laps (allowing me AMPLE time to slow roll the entire lap if need be) or stop and see what happens.  I elect to stop to see if I can get even more life back into my legs after a stop.  When I roll out again I know it's my final lap, but I also know I have plenty of time so all I have to do is get through the lap.  My final lap goes similarly as my 4th.  Not great, but not horrible.

I finish.  But on the way I see a familiar, and not so familiar, face.  TheMutt is out there with his mutt (Carl) he he snaps an action suffer shot as I hit the last bit of single track before the start/finish.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A hole

The internet is still here... it's been a long time.

LAST week I wanted to post up in advance of my re-entry into the world of racing.  But my week was crazy busy.  So clearly I didn't carve in some blogging time.

Today should be a reflection on my race this weekend (or at least some of the thoughts I had wanted to share leading up to this weekend) but it won't be.  Instead it will be a service announcement of sorts.  I'll set the scene.

After my race on Saturday I headed out to the Teeter to pick up a few things for movie night with Annie.  Stinky bike guy at the grocery store - that's me 90% of the time I'm there, so nothing new.

On my way home I turn onto my street to find an older fellow crossing the street (not at the crosswalk).  No issue.  It's a sharp turn onto my street off the main drag so I have to slow way down to take the corner in second gear and off the accelerator while making the turn.  As I see the gentleman I remain off the accelerator, giving him ample time to cross.  I pass by said gentleman as he is in the middle of the oncoming lane.


Huh?  I stop the pterodactyl.  Confused as to what just happened.  

Was my music too loud sir?  Well no, I heard you call me an asshole.

Was I driving too fast sir?  Well no, you did not need to hasten your step to cross in front of me.

Perhaps he was a Yankees fan and my Red Sox hat threw him into a rage?  

I poke my head out the window, looking back at him "What was that?"

He was now on the sidewalk, and looked a bit shocked that I interacted with him.  He said nothing.

"What was that?" I repeated.  I was genuinely curios as to why I had earned his disdain.  But no answer was given.  His eyes drifted downward as he attempted to disengage from the confrontation.

"Well alright then!" I offered as a fare-the-well.

I've been an asshole plenty of times, sure.  The majority of the time, not so much.  That day - I couldn't find anything assholeish about my behavior - but what do I know?

Moral of the story.  If you call someone an asshole, have a reason.  And articulate that reason if said reason is called upon.  Just as you are holding said asshole accountable for their actions (by calling them an asshole) you must also be willing to be held accountable for yours (calling someone an asshole).  

Smiling at a stranger can brighten their day, and makes you feel better for - so do that...  Unless someone is being an asshole.  Just make sure you can tell them why they are an asshole.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Singlespeed AssASSins

Well I said I'd be back, here and there... so here we are.  This isn't a race or epic ride update, this is an update inspired by major stoke-atude (not a word, so says the red squiggly line under it, but I think you get the idea).

I came home from work on Thursday having never been so excited to see a small package.  I will give you a minute to recover from that perfect set up.  Here, I'll even add to the immaturity.

Sasquatch's little package
So back to the seriousness that is this blog.  I wasn't excited for the package, per se, but what was inside the package - it's what's on the inside that counts, didn't your mother ever teach you that?


The Singlespeed AssASSins Club jersey came in.

It all started here:

A humble envelope drawing by THE D-Wayne
A jersey was developed, but first to roll off production lines was the casual wear.

This shirt makes me look good!
For when I get my "swole" on (actually purchased for, and worn by, Annie)

Check out my tan bro

And then finally, the day I had been dreaming about...

It feels so glorious

It's a black on black jersey, but my intelligent phone pulls out the purples hues (which look pink here) I'm sure were used for shading.  

One Cog To Rule Them All - collar details
sleeve action
I'm back in the gym, working on strengthening up my shoulder... should be on the trails, and in this jersey, soon!

Friday, November 14, 2014


It has been a while.
It seems like I still get some page views...

Maybe there are people out there who are hopefully waiting for the day that I say my shoulder is good and I'm back at it, so they faithfully check my blog?  Thanks for the support!

Or maybe it is some fans of TheMutt since he mentioned me last week.  Although, when he mentioned me it was to say that I hadn't been blogging, so I'm not sure why anyone would follow that link?  Maybe they had no idea who I was and thought he was actually linking to the famous Eastwood.

No, probably not that one... this one.

Nah, I can't imagine that Dirty Harry has much use for the Blogging... although he allowed his family to do that horrible reality show... ugh

So anyway, you are here.  Now.  And stuck with me - a biker not a hockey player or a badass.

So since I've been gone from the blogging sphere I've learned a couple of things that I would like to share.

Physical Therapists are freaking amazing.  Who knew that some guy holding my arm pushing down n my shoulder as I lay on a table was actually a miracle worker!?  Three visits to the physical therapist, some manipulation of my shoulder and some exercises and I am making my way back.  I have almost full range of motion back and no more random pain.  My shoulder is still weak as all get out, but I've been cleared to start working on getting my strength back up.  I'm certainly not going to rush it, but that means I can at least be getting into the gym - one step closer to the trails!

So that was the good news people were probably here for anyway.  Feel free to stick around for just a little while longer, I learned a couple of other things that you might be interested in.

I should not work on my bikes without a beer(s).  Whenever I work on my bike without a beer in hand I seem to forget to do some tiny little thing, which of course leads to very annoying big things.  Example:  I was changing gears on the Silk Worm to something a bit more road worthy so I could have a big afternoon - ride out to the BYE to take pictures and heckle and whatnot.  Then the plan was to hit up the Sycamore Brewery grand opening on the way home, ultimately getting back to watch the Georgia game.  Simple switch of cog, checked chains - broke one down to fit properly and out the door.

Pull out of the driveway - three cranks down the road and BAM - chain breaks... INSTANTLY I realize I didn't slap the plate onto the quick link.  I find it in the road - bent.  No problem, I have another one for the other chain... different sizes, the other doesn't fit.  Fiddle with the bent one, get it unbent enough to work.  Until I get to Freedom Park - probably hagfish (maybe more) way there - BAM.  Done.  Link broken.  Walk of shame home.  Annie eventually saved me.

I was bummed, annoyed at myself, and didn't feel like going back out.  Then Georgia decided that it did not want to play defense and lost.  The day was over.  All because I worked on my bike without proper libation.

I like not being on the internerds so much.  Not blogging saves time.  Not blogging also led to me not reading other blogs as much.  Not reading other blogs as much has led to a less faithful use of the fecebooks (not feeling like I need to scroll all the way down to catch up on stuffs).  Not being invested in the facebooks reminded me how awesome it was to not have a cell phone...  I still have a cell phone.  BUT, I'm backing off the socially focused technologies.  I'm not saying I am giving up the blog, but I don't see myself back here consistently once I'm back on the trails.  I think I'll stick with race reports, or big adventure reports... but none of the "normal" stuff - you can get that on TheMutt's blog - my story would be pretty much the same as his anyway since we do a lot of the same stuff (in the future, when I'm riding).

So thanks for all of the support, injury wise and blog wise.  I'll be here now and again - and I'll make sure to let you know on the facebook so you don't get all frustrated by checking here for no good reason.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sunday... soreday

After consuming the most delicious beer in the world, I enjoyed a few more.  Saturday night we went out for dinner with a rowdy crew and they had Old Chub Nitro on tap!!!

Not my can, not my picture 
So I enjoyed a few more.  Miraculously my shoulder wasn't bothering me...

Before I could open my eyes Sunday morning I was well aware of my shoulder.  It was there, it was hurting.  Not stabbing hurting, but aching hurting.  Thoughts rolled around in my head as I woke up, bumping into each other like drunk puppies.

"There is no way I can do 50 miles today with my shoulder already hurting"

"If I do 15, then I'm at 100 for the weekend... I guess that not that bad"

"I probably shouldn't ride at all..."

"I'll put on the team jersey and get my picture taken... probably take off after that..."

"Screw that, I'll ride whatever the majority of the team is riding."

With that though, I packed up my stuff and headed over to Tanglewood.  Met up with the team and got our picture taken.  It was decided that we would ride together and do the 25 mile loop (easier pace).  I was good with that decision, and my shoulder didn't seem to mind too much either as complaints didn't grow louder throughout the day.

Two of our teammates peeled of for a shorter and a longer route, so we were four strong for the majority of the ride.  It was a bit more crowded for the start than we had experienced on Saturday, so as things got all jumbled on a climb D-Wayne and I pulled around the mass of riders and stomped up the hill - just in time to get our picture taken.  Due to my shifting issues the previous day I decided to not shift down for the climb and just stand and singlespeed stomp it.

Once we cleared the mass of riders and regrouped we had a blast.  The roads were FUN!!  Great little loop overall for sure.

D-Wayne put together some kickass jerseys for us!

So I've always appreciated riding on the road, but after this weekend I started actually digging riding in a group.  It is awesome to be able to pull a train along and then join in after putting out a solid effort - so different then solo riding for sure.  I may have to look into actually getting in on some organized rides now and again.  Don't get me wrong, trails will always win over roads - but sometimes riding the road is so much easier (time wise, prep wise, etc).  Then again, the roads and routes we rode for the MS ride were much nicer/easily accessible than they are around Charlotte.  In any case, it was a good time all around (shoulder aside).

The final finish for the weekend.  It felt good - but I also felt like I could have hit the 50 miler that day... a tinge if regret that I hadn't met my pledge mileage goal, but also an overwhelmingly humbling experience.  Thank you all so very much for donating this year.  Your generosity far surpassed my expectations coming into this ride and together we raised over $1000 for MS research and treatment - you are all AWESOME!!

Thank you!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The wheels didn't come off!

So I had to hold off on the rest of my story because last week only the finish line photos were up - I was still waiting on the photo stations during the ride to be posted.  So here is the first photo - it was early on Saturday - we were still feeling out groups and hadn't yet settled into our pace line.

Team Glow Worm in action together!

Now back to where we left off.  We were about 50 miles in as D-Wayne was working his mechanical magic on my randomly janky front derailleur and my shoulder was feeling good.  My legs were starting to feel the mileage, but cramps weren't much of a concern.  With the number of rest stops available I was able to stay on top of staying hydrated.  I also preemptively ate some pickles and drank some pickle juice at the lake rest stop to stay ahead of any thoughts of cramping.

We stopped at the next rest stop as hunger was really starting to hit both of us.  Again I chowed down on some peanut butter and jelly, but there was no mustard or pickle juice to be found.  THIS should have been a rest stop with mustard and pickles as it was coming off of the second century loop... but oh well, we pressed on and I was still cramp free.  Moving on down the road (about mile 64 is) I noticed that while in position riding my shoulder was fine, but sitting up on the bike and moving my shoulder there was some pain... easy fix, stay down on the bike.

There were some riders up ahead so I started working on reeling them in.  As they disappeared up a small hill and around a corner a car worked to pass them and we hear a loud CRACK!!  It didn't sound like a car/bike accident, but I pick up the pace to see what happened.  We clear the corner and the riders are up ahead and safe.  To the left I see a father and his son (12-13 years old) coming from the front of their house.  Maybe they slammed the door.  I then notice a chicken in the back yard that they seem to be moving towards, and I see that the father has his elbow bent with his body shielding his hand from the street.  As we pass by we hear another CRACK!!  I yell back to D-Wayne - "they are trying to shoot a chicken!!"  That was about the oddest thing I saw, and all I could do was shake my head as we pedaled on - North Carolina.

D-Wayne and I start talking about where we will finish.  Talking to some riders leaving the lake rest stop we learned that the shortest we could ride (having hit the first two century loops) was about 83 miles as the route either turns back to Tanglewood, or continues on for the last loop (which circled back on some roads already ridden).  D-Wayne was feeling like the shorter option, but was supportive of me continuing on.  I was back and forth on it, but was ready to make a decision on the spot when we got to the deciding turn.  And then it happened.  At about mile 75 my shoulder started hurting on the bike.  My legs were also feeling it, and on a couple grinding climbs my legs were completely shot.

At this point I was 80% sure I was going to bail.  I figured I could soft pedal the last loop if necessary, but it would't be fun.  Plus, I supposed I should be responsible and think about the health of my shoulder when making the decision.  As we came up on another rest stop D-Wayne declared that he was pushing on as he feared he would cramp up if he got off the bike - I was feeling pretty good so I stuck with him.  Coming up to the final rest stop I knew that if I did not stop that there was no way that I would be doing the full century... but at the same time I knew if I did stop it would be hard to at least try to keep up the pace without D-Wayne there.  I pushed forward.  D-Wayne ended up pulling away on the next grinder but I was able to keep him in sight and use him as a carrot.

Up ahead I see the police car and signage - left back to Tanglewood, right to finish the century.  Everyone was turning left and my shoulder and legs made the decision for me... I rolled to the left and worked my way to the finish.  D-Wayne pulled up a little so we could cross together.

It was a great feeling crossing the line.  There were volunteers cheering as we crossed, and I was grateful for all the support I had received in fundraising and words of encouragement.  Part of me did feel bad that I wasn't able to complete the century (both for my fundraising promise and just to personally be able to complete one), but it was by far the longest ride I had been on, and that was an accomplishment in itself.

We settled in under the Draft to da Draft team tent and shared stories of our rides.  I enjoyed a beer, and I mean REALLY enjoyed it.  After all those miles (and spent calories) it tasted absolutely PHENOMENAL!

I did get out on Sunday as well, but I'll tell you all about that tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We did it!

After weeks of generosity pouring in it was time for me to pony up and do my bit - ride my bike for the Bike MS: Tour to Tanglewood.  Since you surpassed my top fundraising goal of $1000 - we hit $1035 - it was my goal to ride some major miles on Saturday (100 miles) and Sunday (50 miles).

Saturday morning D-Wayne and I headed over to Tanglewood park to find a misty field waiting for us to park... along with a long line of cars being directed by volunteers.  It was an awesome sight to see a line of headlights through the mist but my iPhone just wasn't going to do the scene justice.  It wasn't due to a lack of time either - it took us nearly 15 minutes to get parked.  Since we were heading out to attempt a century we had an early start time so it was time to hustle to get everything prepped and snag some free breakfast.  

Nope.  D-Wayne's valve snaps on his front wheel as he's pumping up.  I throw him my tube strapped to my seat.  No good.  He gets my secondary (brand new so it should work) tube and we are back in business.  By now breakfast isn't an option - so I eat half a clif bar and we decide that we will just have to pig out at the rest stops.  We line up, get quick directions (no cue sheets) and we roll while most riders enjoy breakfast. 

D-Wayne and I headed out and let the field stretch out a little bit as some take off hot.  We got into a nice groove and found some riders holding on to us.  We traded back and forth for a bit and catch a larger train with a team of 5-6 riders carrying the front.  I don't have much experience riding in a pace line but I do know that it can be very beneficial - especially on such a long ride.  So we settle in and enjoy the ride.  Frustration with odd pacing (slowing on the down hills so that entering the next hill is just a total mess) and accept that it is far better to allow those that are doing the work to dictate the pace.  They did push hard at times so we were flying along without any rotation - it seemed as if one rider was pulling the whole time!  We skipped the first aid station at about 10 miles and D-Wayne and I discussed whether or not to stop at the second.  Intelligence would dictate that we should - we hadn't eaten breakfast and it would be important to stay hydrated to keep cramps away.  But on the other hand, did we want to give up on these free pulls??  Luckily for us the leading team pulled into the rest stop - decision made.  

The weather was absolutely perfect - sunny, mid-70s... just gorgeous!  I grab some peanut butter and jelly wedges and fill up a bottle with gatorade.  I inquired as to who was pulling the whole time so I could thank him and was informed that it was mostly two of their riders trading pulls.  I thanked the team as a whole and we rolled out again together.  As we approached rest stop three, and the start of the first extra loop to make the century ride, I figured it would be a mass push forward - it wasn't.  Our leading team stopped again (about 10 miles after our last stop) and D-Wayne and I push on alone.  A duo coming out of the rest stop jumps on our wheels and we pull them along until the first steep climb of the ride.  D-Wayne had pulled off prior to the climb so I took the lead up.  Halfway through I decided to pull off to let the fresher riders go on, and on they did.  As D-Wayne and I regrouped up at the top of the hill I used the duo as a carrot to get the pace back up and push forward.  I comment to D-Wayne how happy I was that we weren't in the train as we hit that hill as it would have been an absolute mess.

The roads on this loop were great (although a bit rough) and I seemed to be able to just push the pace as I slowly started to reel in the duo ahead.  I tried to be mindful of the total mileage we were attempting and not put too much into my effort, but there was something about the road that made it seem easy to go fast.  There seems to be this magical sweet spot for me where the pitch is just perfect that it makes me just go - almost like I'm on one of those moving walkways in the airport- the ground seems to give me a little extra pull as I crank away.  We never did catch the duo - but they provided great motivation.  

Police presence was great at major intersections, allowing use to ride right through many of them.  We were cruising, looking forward to the next rest stop when the signage got a little confusing.  We crossed a main route and were coming up a short little hill where we saw some green arrows pointing to bare to the right.  Green was the color of the markers we were following, but our markers were arrows with TTT under them... these arrows had no TTT... we warily made the turn but start to slow as something felt wrong.  D-Wayne knew the road these arrows were taking us and noted that they were pretty hilly.  As we slowed a team of riders came up behind us.  We called out that we weren't sure this was the correct way but they decreed that it was the correct way since there were green arrows.  

We followed.

Something in me told me this was wrong, and my motivation started to wane as we grinded up some hills.  D-Wayne and I call BS on this route and pull over to check our phones (as cue sheet would have been MIGHTY handy).  WRONG!  We headed back and as we were getting back on track we stopped a couple other riders from making the wrong choice.  We got to the next stop and boy it was a great one!  They had a number of baked good available.  I enjoyed some brownies, peanut butter and jelly wedges, trail mix, pickles, and a little more pickle juice for good measure.  My legs were starting to feel the ride, but I was good as far as cramps go.  I filled up my bottle with gatorade (I had two bottles I was rotating through them) and we hit the road.  

It was slow coming out of the rest stop as we had been pretty leisurely and we were not intermixed with some of the shorter route riders.  As we were climbing a slight incline I had to duck behind a slower rider as a car was passing.  When I went to go around all of a sudden my chain slipped off the front derailleur to the inside - I was able to back pedal and get it back on, but that was weird.  Shortly the routes split and it was back on the century loop.  As we took the left to leave the masses my chain dropped to the outside.  The F?  For no reason there was massive chain drag against the front derailleur.  We stopped and D-Wayne adjusted a couple things to get it working good enough, with the warning to carefully shift to the big ring to avoid dropping to the outside.  At this point we were 46 miles in.  The detour and the random shifting issues were dampening the mood of the ride a bit - but we got back to the task at hand.

Ok - so we are only halfway through and this seems to be turning into a novel, so thank you if you've made it this far!!  For your sake, and maybe to help fill in those who bailed earlier, I will stop here today and pick up the ride again tomorrow.  Hopefully the official ride pictures will be posted online so I can share those in the next couple days as well.