Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The ride that shouldn't have been

Should I have ridden the day after puking during a race??  Well, maybe... but should I have been putting out some solid effort?  Probably not.

The universe was trying to tell me not to ride anyway.  I showed up at Renaissance Park only to discover I had left my cleats behind.  SWEET!  So back up to Denver to get them... and back down to Charlotte to ride.  I figured I had already invested the "effort," I might as well get the ride out of it.

As I hit the trail the HiFi was squeaking something ugly from the rear suspension.  Tip of the year: do NOT ignore squeaking in your bike.

Although nothing catastrophic happened (yet) I did notice something funky after my first lap while I was switching out water bottles.  I lifted the bike by the seat to move it out of the way and noticed some movement in the seat (or so I thought).  Upon further examination the rear suspension had some play.  And then THIS.

Yeah, that's the bolt holding the suspension to the swing arm.  It was clearly working itself right on out of there.  I snugged that bolt right up and just like that the squeak was gone.  Seriously, I wasn't supposed to be riding today.  

So we have the missing shoes, jail breaking bolts, and a residual "ickiness" in the stomach during the ride leaving me feeling weakish.  With all that against me I still enjoyed the ride.  

I rather enjoyed the trails.  Some great rooty climbs.  A nice optional (not for me) rocky climb that certainly reminded me of NE riding.

Annie and I are headed back up to CT today to get her car, and to also see Maggie in and out of surgery.  Not sure if I mentioned it here or not, but Maggie tore an ACL - it's hard to slow her down.  We opted to get the surgery as she was still trying to run and play ball with the three good legs.  The vets are constantly amazed at how "young" she is - and although she is 9 (10 in December) they tell us she has the health and build of a 3 year old.  So I couldn't have her limping around for years to come.

So we'll be up in CT for a few days for that and then headed back down at some point during the weekend so we can hopefully check out a house for rent.  We really need to get into Charlotte so we can get back on track with the whole "living down here" thing.  On the agenda: 1. Get a place that will allow us to have our dogs 2. Get on getting jobs and whatnot.  

Monday, August 27, 2012


I "raced" this weekend.

It was fun (minus the vomiting during the race).  It was a great trail.  A nice mixture of the southern style with a bit of the bumps I'm used to up on New England.  I could start throwing out a bunch of excuses/would-have could-haves right about now but I'm not going to.  All I want to say is at the end of the day it was a great race - in that it reminded me of the joy (and pain) of racing mountain bikes.

The race also brought to light just how small the world really is.  I got to meet fellow blogger Chris at the race.

I even got some inside top secret info on what's going down over at B-43 headquarters.  But I won't spill the beans.  I will say it's very cool stuff and I'm envious for sure!!

My buddy Sean raced and had a good showing.

We got to hang out with our LBS guys out there and now I've got some new rims on the way to remedy my issues with the tubeless set up.  I'll get into that when they are all set up and ready to roll though.

I'm looking forward to next season already - hopefully I can get a full season in.  Plus, we have a winter season down here so I won't be stuck on trainer intervals all winter like this year.  It's a whole new ball game - time for me to step up and represent for NE.

It felt sooooo damn good to get out there and race again.  I guess I'm just a positive person, but even with not so stellar results I can always see the room to improve, and hold on to the desire to do so.  PLUS, the weather is finally turning to rider friendly temps.  Time to start planning some camping/riding trips in the mountains!

Friday, August 24, 2012

battered and broken

On his way home Tommy would take a short cut through Old Man Hendrix's property.  Tommy would pass by the old decrepit barn and sneak a peek before scurrying on home.  Each day he would stare longingly at the sweetest, most bad ass bike he'd ever seen.  He admired the sleek lines, the paint that just screamed SPEED, and the tires yearning for dirt.

One day Old Man Hendrix rambled upon Tommy as he had his head in the barn door.  "What are you doing there, son?"

Tommy, startled and panicked (for fear of being in trouble), squeaked out "nothing."

Old Man Hendrix threw the door open and instantly knew as a smile creeped across his face.  "It's a beaut for sure.  My grandson has had many adventures on that bike."  Sizing Tommy up Old Man Hendrix motioned toward the bike, "what do you think?"

Tommy's nerves settled and his eyes widened as he wondered if Old Man Hendrix's was offering him the bike.  "It looks awesome!" he exclaimed with the energy that only comes from the pure giddiness of a child.

"That settles it.  It's yours"

"Really??"  Tommy didn't wait for an answer, he rushed to the bike.  Grabbing the handlebars he pushed it forward, turning to take the wondrous machine into the sunlight.  In all the times Tommy had stared lovingly at the bike he had never inspected it closely.  The dry dirt flowed like the wake of a boat before the back tire.  Shocked, Tommy looked over the frame of the bike to discover the drivetrain was completely rusted out.  The shiny "fast" bike was seized up....

You may, by now, be asking yourself what this little piece of fiction is?  Well....  Let's just say after a week of 12 hour days, including the weekend, I have discovered the drive train is rusted.  No amount of chain lube (me) is going to get this going in the right direction.  To preserve my health (I haven't been eating... and of course there is the BIG TIME lack of sleep) and sanity I'm back on the job market. I feel shitty walking out on a job like this, but it just isn't right.  And I can't survive moving forward with it.  I feel bad for the kids (even though school hasn't started and I only met a handful throughout the week and at Open House) but I do not believe in my heart that I would be doing the job I would want to in the conditions I face here.

Bright side.  Health, happiness, and bikes can all return to my life.

Race Sunday?

Doesn't look quite ready...
In my sleep deprived, nutrient deprived state, I'm not sure how safe that endeavor would be.  But hey, that's two days away, a lot can change once the deed is done today and I'm separated from the stress that has taken over my life.

Even if I'm not on the bike, I'll be at the race doing my other favorite thing - taking pictures.

I'll have to somehow find a good spot on the course the day of the race...

Monday, August 20, 2012


Holy schedules Batman!!

I'm still alive.  Bike wise - might as well be dead.

As soon as I decided to get "serious" and race the final bout in the Southern Classic Series things got out of hand over here.  Annie and I headed up to CT to visit the family and see my brother while he is back stateside (for a short time).  So that was RIGHT after the plan was to get some serious training in... yup - throw 5 days with no chance of riding right in there.

Then I get the official notification of my hire (YAY!!) while in CT and volunteer (I'm a hard worker) to come in prior to my "start date" to get familiar with things down here and get started on the work ahead.  That turns into piles of schedules (when I say piles I mean legit piles... stack the paper up and it might just eclipse Annie) to be done... learning a new computer system, graduation requirements, promotion requirements, etc and cranking out schedules while jumping around through drug tests, finger printing, "ice breakers" etc and I've been living 12+ hour days to get all this paperwork churned out for this morning so schedules can be run - errors can be found and corrected - so we are all "set" for open house on Wednesday.

This has meant no weekend.  Straight work.  No pre ride of the course.  No real riding.  My wheels lay tireless in hopes that they will FINALLY be tubeless again... hope I have time to set them up and test them before the "race."

What's better than an ill prepared-for race at the END of the "season"?  Nothing.  You know why??  Because it at least means I'm racing again.  What will I get out of it (other than my ass handed to me with southern charm?), well let me tell you.

I'll be in the woods riding the snot out of my bike after a looooong grueling introduction to my new job (I've been so busy I don't even know my own phone number over there - but that's ok because they haven't set up my voicemail yet sooo....).  I'll be riding a new trail - which does make me kind of nervous racing something sight unseen.  Enough people do it though, so I guess I won't die or anything (knock on wood, would you?).  What else.  Oh, it will be a nice adventure - Annie is excited to come out and support Sean and I (he's playing with the idea of racing singlespeed) as we race - supposedly it's a pretty cool scene (beer vendors and whatnot) so that will be fun.  Who knows, maybe I'll meet a few people up there.  If nothing else at least I'll have something bike related/interesting to share with you next week.

Future plan - I've got to bring the 4300 back up to CT to leave at my parents house so at least I'll have something to ride when I'm up visiting... who rides a 26 inch wheel anyway??

Monday, August 6, 2012

I've been lazy

I've been horrible with blogging, sorry!  I have footage from our visit to Warrior Creek that I have yet to finish up and post.  When I was going over the footage I wondered why the angle was kinda low... duh, I dropped the bars and didn't account for that with the camera placement on the helmet.  A well, it's ok and I've got some stuff to string together.  Actually, most of what I've kept for the final cut is one long continuous string because that place is just so flowy it's nice to show the transitions and whatnot.  I'm not loving the helmet mount anyway... way too bumpy on the trails.  And the handlebar mount is so freakin small you can't get it towards the center of your bar... we'll see what I can rig for future filming. It does great 3rd person shots so I may just focus on that... those just take so much time and your ride really has to focus on filming when involving those shots... we'll see.

I am sorry to say that I will continue to be horrible with the blogging this week as Annie and I will be up in CT/Boston to visit with my family and see my brother - who has been away with the Peace Corp for the last 2 years.  Before that he was teaching in Thailand and then touring South America.  He's a globetrotter, so I'm always psyched when he's back stateside.  We'll be gone all week... so next week hopefully I'll be back on track here.

Prior to the weekend Sean and I were talking about next years races and I threw out that I might enter a race this year just to test the waters.  Debate ensues and it looks like he and I will be racing the last race of the Southern Classic Series.  We didn't get to ride Dark Mountain when we were up at Warrior Creek because of rain.  This weekend we didn't get to ride Dark Mountain... because of rain.  But we'll get up there to pre ride (at least once) and start getting our asses in race form as close to what might look like someone thinking of race form race form...

Friday, August 3, 2012

How the South is different

I'm not about to get political here, I'm talking about riding.

Well... ok, just two things on this Chick-fil-A business that's been in the news and whatnot.
1.  Way to go Mumbles.
2. Bojangles' is AWESOME.


So, what I wanted to discuss is how riding in the South has been different thus far.

Humidity.  Yes it's been hot down here.  I think our first week down here it was like over 100 nearly everyday, which I've been told is abnormal.  But, it's not the temperature that is killer, it is the humidity.  It's not really the same humidity that I remember from my days in Georgia, where you found yourself soaked just walking from the comfort of your a/c controlled apartment to the a/c of your vehicle...  no, what I'm finding is the heaviness of the air is an absolute killer on rides.  It's that weight in the air that I've yet to adjust to, so when the lungs start crying for more air I seem to be left stuck sucking on a sponge.

Trail conditions... there are a couple in this category.

Trails here are buff and clear.  I guess that's the difference in riding trails created specifically for mountain bikes (here) versus riding State Forests where trails were originally designed for hiking (New England).  Being designed for mountain bikers, and receiving frequent maintenance, riders/workers seem to be partial to debris-less trails.  Yes, nice derailleur snatchers (branches) need to be cleared, but everything is cleared leaving a nice view of the hard packed trail.

Trail length frequently leaves something to be desired.  I've found a bunch of trails that are sub 6 miles... some being closer to 3.  I'm not used to forced laps to get mileage in.  But again, I suppose this is a sacrifice made to have mountain bike specific trails, as well as utilizing available lands to increase the number of trails to choose from.  I do miss being able to hit Wompatuck or Foxboro and just ride my way through and around the forest with minimal to no repeats of trails and still log 20+ miles.

Building these shorter trails to utilize the land available sometimes means squishing in the miles... lots of twisty and turny bits.  Lot's of switchbacks.  Lots of leaning the bike over on turns.  Lots of stuff I'm frankly not used to!!  Switchbacks, most of the time, were utilized on climbing hillsides in New England... forcing trails to twist back on themselves wasn't considered in the original hiking minded design of said trails.  So, my experience on switchbacks was on tight technical climbs where speed would probably be low anyway.  Here they are utilized to pack the trails into small places so I'm having to relearn how to ride in a sense. It's kinda neat to take on a different style, but man is it a process to get your mind wrapped around trying to keep speed up as much while getting the whole turn thing down perfectly on some sharp turns (outside pedal down and weighted - get off the damn saddle, inside hand press down into the turn - get off the damn saddle before you wash out!!).

The technical aspects of trails here - yes there are some roots and some rocks - are far outweighed by the buff fast stuff.  There are trails here and there that can keep you honest with a mixture of tight turns, ups and downs, and some roots and rocks thrown in for good measure.  But these trails are definitely not the trails I learned to ride on when I got back on the mountain bike a couple of years ago.  Is that an advantage or disadvantage?  Maybe I learned some skills up North that you might not (be forced) to learn down here... but does that help me here?  There are no rock walls to cross here like there is EVERYWHERE in New England... but hopefully that translates into me being confident to keep speed up through whatever mess I find on a trail here.  On the flipside, those learning on the tightness down here will probably smoke me with their ability to carry speed through the corners at a level I have not gotten to yet.

What it has done is made riding new again.  It's always been fun, and I have always been learning and improving (or at least striving to do so) with each ride.  But now I get to focus on a new set of skills and really work.

So far, so fun!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

it is (un)official!!

Yesterday I had a job interview, and about an hour after I got home from said interview I got a call from HR informing me that I was "recommended for the job" and that I was now in the "pre-hire process."  I wasn't expecting to hear anything until Friday, as that was when they said their decision would be made and HR would contact the chosen candidate...  SWEET!!  Basically, as long as everything is in order and checks out (which it should) then I've got a job.

I'll keep the details to a minimum and stop there so as not to jinx it... but I'm feeling great!!

But wait, it only gets better.

There is some sweet trail less than 2 miles away!!  I haven't hit it yet, but be sure it will be a regularity toot sweet.
11-12 miles of goodness
School down here starts soon!!  Teachers are in on the 14th, students on the 27th.  It's time to get things going!!