Monday, December 29, 2008

Felasco Vocabulary Terms - "Preparation"



This seems like a pretty straight up term, but my experience indicates otherwise.

To some, Felasco prep is taken on with purpose. Juancho, for example, has been logging hour after hour on his bike. I'm not sure how many miles he's doing in those hours, but his taint should be properly seasoned by now.

Micro, however, has taken a completely different approach. His prep so far has consisted mostly of looking for his bike. If you've seen it, drop a line here, to Bigworm's lost and found. Unless he's developed some new hobbies I'm unaware of, Micro's taint is in for a rude awakening.

Micro's brother, Beefcake, is always a mystery. He was a long time mountain bike legend. Well at least his grouchiness was legendary, but he has really has always been strong on the bike. Last year he rode in the caboose with the Spanish Mackerel, coining humorous phrases regarding blows from the feet to one's genitalia. Oh well, if his legs give out, I'm sure his Arnold-like pythons will welcome the chance to tear the pedals from the cranks.

There are also those who don't need preparation. Marcus, aka Bikediet, will not ride at all, yet somehow be able to go as fast as anybody on the whole damned trail. No really, I'm not bitter about that fact. (Well, actually, I'm quite bitter about that fact.)

Spanish Mackerel is the anomaly of the "no prep needed" crew. He claims to be getting ready, yet always misses the rides. He swears he'll be there, but instead is spotted at some sporting goods store, with the tell tale pillow wrinkles still on his face. Somehow it doesn't matter for him. Apparently just thinking about training, gives him the mental toughness to finish, year after year. By all rights he should be shriveled up beside the trail with Sasquatch kicking sand in his face. But it won't happen. He may not be the first to finish, but he'll come out of the woods again, with that goofy look on his face, like a puppy who's been lost for hours, and just found his way home.

Red Dragon has been training his lungs with a vengeance. If you don't believe me, just ask him. I'm sure you'll get some kind of long winded story, excuse, or anecdote, that will more than prove my point. He'll bluster and blow. He'll wail and howl, and all that hot air will send him sailing to the finish.

Lil' Ronnie, the Angry Haitian, pretty much runs on pure hate. I figure he'll ride his bike until his legs fall off, just so he can look down at them and tell them he hates them. Then he'll slither off his bike, and tell it he hates it, too. Next he'll call me to tell me he hates me for making him do this damned ride. Somewhere in there, he'll tell me I'm hard to be friends with, and that he hates me for that. You want to see something funny? Be there when we pull up to the parking lot Friday night. Lil' Ronnie will be so stoked to see us, he'll cry like a little girl, and then he'll hate us for that. And with that, his preparation will be complete.

Wrecking Ball will ride like there is no tomorrow, in fear that Red Dragon may blow by. The only problem is, he'll ride his bike into oblivion, and all of its parts will fall off the week before Felasco. At which point, he'll go into manic breakdown and I'll have to nurse him back to health. He's not called the Wrecking Ball for nothing.

Bab McCarty's prep will be highly specialized. Actually, F#*k Bab! Who cares what that prodigy assed rock star does?!! I'll tell you what he doesn't do! He doesn't ever update that lame ass blog of his. His last post was due to my heckling. Check it out. What the hell are you waiting for Santana??

Alright, this may be getting out of hand, so let me wrap this up. For me the prep just isn't going to matter. No matter how much I stress about it, no matter how much I ride, it just doesn't matter. After all the trash I just talked, I just sealed my fate. Hopefully I can just keep up with the caboose. Through all of the cramp induced pain, and vision blurring bonk, that Fate is sure to dish out, I just want to have enough left in the tank to remember the stories.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Common Ground


"I sat outside on the green slab next to the oil drip, and the window. 4 riders approached from west on University, but they were unlike any riders I’ve generalized about before. The leader sported a flat-brim white Yankee’s hat, sagging pants, White belt, white puffy gansta jacket and big shoes. The rest that followed him, looked same same but different. Rolling bright deep dish rims on white frames, the only thing separating them from typical, was that the were all rolling fixed. Hip-Hop-Deep-Dish-Fixed… It was a sight for sore eyes. Hoods on bikes. Indeed things are changing."

That was a quote I took from Gnome's write up over at Drunkcyclist, about this year's Flight of the Pigs ride. It was my favorite paragraph in the whole ride report.

While I'm not one of the activist types that thinks bikes will solve the petroleum challenges of America, solve world hunger, or end global warming, I do think they can change an individual's outlook. Bikes bring many things to many people. They bring freedom to a 7 year old kid, who can now easily explore the whole neighborhood. They bring transportation to those who have no other way. They bring stress relief to those of us who can let our blood pressure alarms ring too easily and too often. To some, they bring something as simple as a new fashion accessory.

The big thing is, they bring a commonality. They bring one more facet that can bind vastly different people. I've said it a thousand times, my friends walk the gamut of life. Age, gender, economic and social status, religious background; cycling has bridged a lot of barriers to tie crews together all over the world.

Again, I don't believe that cycling alone will bring to bear a bright shining light of perfection on the world. She's more like a well cut diamond, when the light hits her just right, she sure does sparkle.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Useless to Resist


I keep seeing more and more changes in my direct, and indirect life. Some of them eye opening, and some of them just plain scary.


I was just over at Drunkcyclist, and saw a new post from Big Johnny. For those who follow, Big Johnny was the main guy behind DC, but he hasn't posted much in quite awhile. His buddy Gnome, has been picking up the slack. I've been wondering what happened to the guy. Is he just over it? Nothing to say? I knew he recently moved to another part of Arizona. Did the absence of his friends kill his muse? I just found out, through this last post, that he moved to start law school. He was hit by a car a couple of years back, and spent a lot of time healing a broken back. Now he's started law school so that eventually he can help others like him, who just get screwed by some jackass's lack of control. I hate that he's not on the site, constantly berating the world with his caustic sense of humor, but I'm glad he found a path to walk. He seemed to be just floating after the accident.


I first heard about Drunkcyclist through, Kevin Noble, our Kona rep when I worked at Joe's. Kevin is still at Kona, but his rowdy days have calmed too, I think, with a new kid in the house. Kevin seemed surprised that I had never heard of the site, but I was pretty much internet challenged back then. All I'd heard of was ebay, and as a shop guy, that was the devil.


Just for a little more indirect weirdness, my favorite cycling writer is Mike Ferrentino, over at Bike Magazine. His first, or maybe second, Grimy Handshake article fully reflected my understanding of bike shop customers, from behind the counter. I realized he was a greasy handed, kindred spirit. Another sucker working in his passion, to satisfy the not so thankful public. I couldn't have been happier when he was named editor for Bike, But alas, it was short lived. He took another job, I think with Santa Cruz. Now I'm just glad he still writes his column. Bike just wouldn't be the same without him.


Over the years of reading Bike and Drunkcyclist, I found out that each of these guys is about my age, all worked at one time or another in bike shops, and still carried a torch for the two wheeled, self propelled world. Even better, I found out they all knew each other. At one of the big 24 hour races, there was a media division. Big Johnny, Ferrentino, and Nobles, all on the same team. Sometimes it's just strange how the world ties things together.


On the homefront, my buddy Paulie is leaving on another African adventure, soon. He's pretty amped, and I like to see his enthusiasm. He called me up, all excited, and asked if I would mind being a reference, for this job with Tour de Afrique. Sure enough, I get a call a day later, from a super heavy french accent, presumably based out of Canada. He asks a lot of questions about Paul's character and demeanor. His last question was "What would you say Paul's weakness would be on this trip?". I told him" I know it sounds like I'm just singing Paul's praises, but the truth is he's hard working, self motivated, a strong cyclist, can talk to most anyone, and has spent several years in Africa. What else would you want? The truth is I hate to see him go." The interviewer says the trip is only for a few months and and that Paul will be back. I told him, "Yeah, that's what he said when he joined the Peace Corp. I'm going to spend a year in Africa!" Four years later, Paul found his way home. I think this job is perfect for Paul. And I look forward to following along on his blog.


I guess this issue with my foot/ankle has opened my eyes lately. I was faced with the thought of never riding again, and the fight isn't over, and that spooks me. I'm 38 years old, and have been riding since 1990. 99% of my friends and acquaintances were met through, or are tied to, cycling. The thought of possibly losing something this intertwined with my life really kind of freaks me out. I realize that life would not be over, just a lot different.


It would be time for the next big chapter. I like to think that I like variety, but the truth is, I'm not so down with BIG change. Small changes are nice to vary the ride, but big changes rock the boat. In the meantime, I'll be fighting the good fight, trying to reconcile the thought of change in case of failure, or maybe I'll just be looking around for a good life preserver.
***Big thanks to Juancho for catching an error. I'd cut 10 years out of my riding career.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Whose Line is it Anyway?




"My momma makes baked beans! I love shag carpet! Now you boys need to get the f*(k outta here!"
***
I'm dying to post on this event, but the truth of the matter is, I'll never do it the justice that the author of the above quote most certainly will. In the meantime, this quote just had to see the light of day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It was just a matter of time...



Some wise ass finally went and named a hill after yours truly. T-town is lucky that way, we have a plethora of wise asses. That's good for me, though. Lets me blend in.


All wise ass shenanigans aside, what are you doing this weekend? Sitting around, watching the boob tube, eatin' cheetos, wondering why your nether regions are turning orange? Get up off the couch, and head over to Rickards high school on Saturday afternoon, or Sunday morning, or both! Folks will be in town to rail their skinny tire bikes at the speed of light. And when they can't rail any faster, they'll jump off and run! How can this not be entertaining. Skin tight clothed, body shaved, skinny people, doing their damnedest to purge their last meal, with the help of two wheeled machines. You know the rule. We like two wheeled machines. Lots of them. So hopefully I'll see you out there. I'll be on top of my hill, making as few trips to the bottom as possible, except maybe to heckle those who falter.


Here's the link.






Monday, November 3, 2008

One of these riders is not like the others....


This one goes out to my buddy, Big Jim Slade, the one guy who didn't get wood this weekend.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Quarterly Blog Report


So many things have happened in this past quarter, that if I gave them all the attention they deserved, I'd have another "War and Peace" on my hands. Most of my friends suffer from A.D.D., so much more than three words, and they check out. I'll keep the words as small as possible, so maybe they'll make it to the end.


A visit from overseas was a welcome change from the every day, here in old T-town. Fat Lad and his lovely bride made the journey across the big pond, and during their holiday, spent a few days in our fair village. It was really cool getting to meet someone in real life, who from their writings, I see share a passion that ties most of our crew together. I've always envisioned Al and his pootle crew as sort of a UK doppleganger to the various tribes we have locally. I've often wondered what it would be like to visit their crew and ride their terrain. Al and Sarah bit the bullet, and put my thoughts to reality. I have to say I'm quite envious.


We all did our best to entertain our visitors, including showing off the local trails like proud poppas, and taking them out for dinner and drinks. We even celebrated Al's birthday at Cool Beans Cafe, followed by more beer at Finnegan's. Even my wife, who only see pieces of all of this blog fodder, has now made new friends, thanks to this interweb of jabber. She and Sarah have been trading emails, and she was really excited about the possibility of crossing paths with Sarah in New York, in the next couple of weeks. Alas, it was not meant to be. It seems they are doing the Juancho trick, where one flies out the day the other flies in. No worries, though. Michelle is already starting to plan a trip to the UK for some time next year.


We've been racing more this year. We used to race a lot more, when the core group was still in their 20s. But for the past 10 years or so, we've just done one or two a year. This year has seen he crew on the road more often, traveling to these events. Some of the guys have had great success. Big Jim Slade has been on fire, with a couple of solid wins, and a podium spot here in T-town. Ice Berg is well on his way to winning the Junior class for the entire series. Marcus is flirting with a mandatory upgrade to expert, thanks to his consistent placement in the top 5. Silk is only doing select events, but his careful planning, has him perfectly prepared every time, and he just keeps killing the expert class. Every time he toes the line, he is a threat. That must be a nice feeling.


Unfortunately, I have not been able to share in the revelry. I've had worse luck than ever this year. I don't think I've had this many mechanicals, in one season, not even when I used to do 15-18 races a year. I flatted in Birmingham, flatted at Ft Clinch, and broke both seat rails in Tallahassee. Now everyone has their theories on my issues, but I think it's just dumb luck, with the exception of the Tallahassee race. In hindsight, I really shouldn't have been running that saddle. The flats were with two completely different set ups, both of which had I had been running for over a year with no extraordinary problems. I still learned a lot at the last few races. I've found a new way to pace myself at the beginning of the races, Racing at 38 is a lot different that racing at 25. I found I can no longer pin it to win it. I've got to back off in the early laps, and then start to reel in the guys who got free. My lap times got a lot more consistent, and my overall average speeds went up. Like Silk says, ride smarter not harder.


The latest on the personal news front, I've pissed off my ankle again. I'm hoping it just an overuse issue. I've always been flat footed, and a nasty sprain about 2.5 years ago brought more long term aggravation to left ankle. The last couple of weeks leading up to the Tallahassee race, my ankle started to give me some extra grief. After trying to ride half a lap of the Tom Brown race course standing, with broken seat rails, it was damn sore. Anyway, by the 2nd or 3rd ride the week after the race, I couldn't stand up on the pedals, so I've been taking some time off the bike, to let it heal. Apparently that slows down, too, when you're 38, and not 25. It's tough to sit around when this is the Tallahassee mountain bike season, but I guess it's what's necessary to heal my tired body.

Friday, October 10, 2008

On Any Given Sunday




Nerves a thicket,
Jitter and quake.
Did you buy your ticket
to the Tom Brown Race?
******
Worry and woe.
Why can't I relax?
Can I climb that damn hill
all three laps?
******
I hate it! I love it!
I'll never do it again!
I wonder what it would take,
to maybe just this once win.
******
No sleep for the players
who toss and turn.
Knowing this Sunday
more of themselves they'll learn.
******
Whether we win or lose,
float or flail.
We'll all be glad to have finished
So we may weave our tales.


Monday, October 6, 2008

And the Winners are....


Holy Shite!! Per the website, Tour de Felasco filled up its 400 rider slots by October 2nd, one day after the registration form was available. This was not electronic registration, folks. You had to mail it in!! Marcus and I spent a little time on the 1st filling out 16 registrations, and Kent had them overnighted. While I suppose it's still possible that we didn't get in, I think our odds are favorable.
What's gonna happen next year? This thing is gonna wind up using a lottery system, like the Leadville 100.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Winds of Change


I walked outside this morning, and it was actually cool out. Flash called me at lunch and told me his morning errands, run on the bike, left him a bit nipply. Have you noticed that slight hint of crispness in the smell of the air? Or perhaps seen that occasional color in the sky that belies the onset of my favorite time of year? Yes, it would appear that Fall is here in more than just the calender sense.


How many remember Joe's dog, Hannah? She was a permanent fixture at Joe's Bike Shop for as long as I could remember. In her later years, her health was getting pretty bad. Some days she just couldn't bring herself to get up off the floor, and join Joey for the trip to the shop. It was quite sad, and I always worried about Joe having to cope with the idea of his long time partner's suffering. You could see it in his eyes, that it broke him up.


The last year or so, at the first sign of cool Fall weather, Hannah would experience the most entertaining rejuvenations. It was like the cold air gave her the strength to deny her failing body. She would bounce all around the shop, acting like a puppy again. She'd make her rounds of the lake, begging for leftover fries or sandwich scraps. Then she'd race back to see if she'd missed anything special back at the shop...like maybe lunch! It was damned hard to resist those soulful eyes looking up at you, when you knew that just 2 weeks earlier, you were sure each day was her last.


I miss ol' Hannah, as I'm sure many patrons of Lake Ella and Joe's Bike Shop do, as well. If you get a chance, go roll in the leaves with your feet up in the air. Lie in the grass with your tongue hanging out. Do whatever, just get outside and let the Fall air rekindle your playful side.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rumors Abound


Yellow is the color he's most often associated with.


One is the number of testicles he has, with which to chase Olsen twins.


2nd is where he finished behind hairy legged Wiensy at Leadville.


Seven is the number of times he won the Tour.


1.9 million is the number times he has been cussed by the French.


Five is the number of road races he is rumored to do next year.


I may not be his biggest fan, but if it makes the French cry, so be it.



Here we go again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Helping Hands


I may have spoken too early, with the title of the last post. Joe's Bike Shop is still fighting for survival. I have not yet had a chance to talk to Joey, to see how he's handling all of this, but it has to be tough.


There's a fundraiser scheduled this weekend, to help the damaged businesses of the Lake Ella area. It will be held at the Legion Hall, on Lake Ella, from 2pm-10pm. Come out and show your support for your local business owners. This is their time of need.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We Survived.


Well, Fay has turned her self northward, and left us to drown in her wake. The rain was basically nonstop for 2.5 days. I've heard reports of 10 inches on FSU campus, and 15+ in parts of Jefferson County. Hell, even Jim Cantore was in town.


Word on the street is the locals were out playing in the rain, like little kids. I heard that Uncle Fester was at his parents, at the height of the rainstorms, trying to coerce a long dry pond into filling again.


Juancho and Bushy went to Munson Saturday morning to scope the damage, all the while I'm watching sideways rain and getting reports of downed trees on the south side of town. They tried to goad me into joining, but the call of IHOP was too great.


At this morning's ride, Juancho brought pics of Joe's Bike Shop with record water levels. It looks like the water crested the front porch, and may actually be in the building. Man, I hope not. Nobody needs that kind of hassle.


It was nice to be on the bike this morning. This month has been riddled with two and three ride weeks. I guess I should be happy I get to ride that often, as a lot of people can't. But when you're used to riding 5-6 days a week, you get restless during these unplanned times off the bike.


As I mentioned earlier, Juancho joined us this morning. We made him ride farther and faster, than he had any intention of doing, all on about half the food consumption he should've had for that ride. He seemed mildly testy a couple of times, but all in all, he hung in there and got it done.


Wrecking Ball is always talking about the next motivator, the golden ring, the long carrot, that thing that makes you get up and ride just that little bit harder or farther. W.B. better look out, though. I think I saw Juancho painting a bullseye on his jersey when he wasn't looking. I think for me it will be this foolishness.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Big Rides


Life can come at you in a hurry, and the next thing you know, several weeks have passed you by, and you're not entirely sure where they went. While the riding front has not been as consistent this past month, we've definitely had couple of noteworthy big rides.


Big Jim Slade, Wrecking Ball, and myself set out on one of those Tour de Tallahassee rides a couple of weeks ago. It started innocently enough, with Pete from Joe's, and Ricky Silk, tagging along for the first chapter of the ride. Pete bowed out when responsibility called him back to open the shop by 10. Silk dipped so he could go pee in his bucket. He swears it's for fertilizing the lawn, though I'm not so sure. And then there were three.


We did fine until WB's bike developed a skipping issue, in the middle chainring. I assured him it was a bent tooth, and that it could be remedied later, but he'd need to avoid that ring for the remainder of the ride. He proceeded to be sure that I was extremely informed that the tooth was in fact cracked, not just bent. I wasn't too keen on being extremely informed of anything, so I simply growled that the rules and directions previously provided, still applied. Sounds testy, huh? Yeah, I suppose that was the beginning of the hate fatigue.


Big Jim Slade thought all of this to be quite amusing, so the cycling Gods set the stage to strike him down for his unrepentant mirth. I was quite gassed returning through the Cadillac Trail. WB and BJS stopped to refill bottles, and I continued on alone, albeit slowly, so they could catch up easily. BJS refused my offers to let him by, as he "wanted to watch my lines". I told him that at the snail's pace I was rolling, "the lines" no longer mattered. He remained insistent. WB had no qualms going to the front as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I took off in chase, and soon noticed, no BJS. I slowed up and asked how he intended to see somebody's lines, from 100 yards off the back. At which point, I was the victim of several expletives. I bumped the pace again, and at the end, no BJS. I actually backtracked this time, to find our lost puppy, walking his bike with the rear derailleur(rear mech for Fat Lad) dragging in the dirt behind him. Funny, he wasn't laughing anymore. I asked if he had a chain tool, and after more expletives, I went in search of one. After cruising all of the parking lots of TB Park, in a fruitless search for a chain tool, I return to find I had been lied to. BJS had found his in his jersey pocket. How the hell do you not know you have a chain tool in your jersey pocket? It's not like the damn thing is featherweight! Tool in hand, we convert his rig to a singlespeed, and continue towards home.


It's now 1pm. This 4 hour ride has topped 5 hours, and we're still not home. 2 miles from the end, BJS flats. Are you fecking kidding me?! I told him I was leaving him for dead, but he looked so dejected, sitting there in the ditch, with a tire lever in one hand, his wheel in front of him, and no apparent idea of what to do next. WB and I sat with him until somehow his fumbling ended up with a tube inside the tire, and we were good to go. 6 hours to do a 4.5 hour ride. What the hell? After 46 miles on mountain bikes, a trip to San Miguel's, for way too much Mexican food, was in order. Nothing like chicken fajita quesadillas to quench the hate fatigue.


This past weekend, Silk, Micro, and Uncle Fester(formerly known as Mingo), and I, hit the Fool's Gold 50/100. Well, actually Silk hit the 50, the rest of us got our festival on. This is the 2nd year for this event, and Eddy and Namrita Odea put on a fine event.


The race is the general overtone, but it's different than the vibe at a cross country race. There are only 2 starts, the 100, and 15 minutes later, the 50. The festivus bunch got up and ate breakfast with Silk(team support and all) at 5:30am. We watched the start at 7am, and promptly returned to the cabin, to go back to sleep. How's that for a relaxed atmosphere? We rolled out on our bikes around about the crack of 9:30. Here's where I made an error in judgement. I let myself be sold on doing the longest climb of the race loop, as a way to get to the trails on Bull Mountain. This climb was 8 miles long, and all fire road! Silk claims it to be 1.5 hours to Bull Mtn.. Maybe in Silk world, but at 5:30am, when I was sold on this idea, I was not awake enough to calculate the Bigworm/Ricky Silk time space continuum. It took us about 2.5 hours, with two flat repairs, to reach Bull Mtn.! By then I was too gassed to commit to the 5 mile technical climb that starts the Bull Mtn. trail system. So we opted to take a fireroad shortcut back, and that still took almost an hour! 24 miles, and 80% was fireroads.


Oh well, back at the cabin, it was time to put our feet up, listen to the two bands playing, and enjoy the beer that is included in your registration. $100 for the festival, includes your cabin for 2 nights, 5 meals, and free beer from Sweetwater and Terrapin. Aside from the race, there were several guided rides on Friday night, all day Saturday and on Sunday morning. I missed it, but apparently they were showing the bike flick, Klunkers, on a big screen in one of the main buildings. Not bad for a C-note.


The trails of North GA are beautiful, and now I can't stop thinking about getting back up there, and this time riding more singletrack. In my obsession, I've tripped over another cycling blog, from a North GA native. Reading her stories and seeing the pics, sets the hook deeper. I think this fall that I'll make the trip solo, if my crew can't get their acts together.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tagged


Well, I promised Fat Lad I'd play along, so here goes.


If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be? Hmm, do you know?


That's tough for me. Having been a long time shop guy, I've amassed quite the quiver of rides. My desire for bikes changes like the seasons. I have several amazing bikes, but given the tide of my mood, each one takes a turn at being the most amazing. I suppose if I could have only one, it would be some sort of off road Dually, but there are too many good bikes out there to name one in particular.



Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not?



I suppose I do, but if you ask my wife, she'll tell you I'm always working towards the next desire.



If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?



I'm afraid that may just kill the deal for me. One of the things that set the hook for me and cycling was all the new scenery. I've been to more places and seen more wonderful sites, because of my bikes. One route the rest of my life...that's too much like a rut. As has been said before, the only difference between a rut and a grave, is the depth of the hole.



What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride for the rest of her / his life?



Beelzebub.



Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one, why are you so narrow minded?



I'm definitely a BI- cyclist. It usually depends on the weather, but I mostly prefer to ride off road.



Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent.



I've ridden a few. Working at bikeshops, you get opportunities to try a lot of things you probably shouldn't. Things like Umma Gumma Gray tires, Kooka brake levers, and Paul's derailleurs. 'Bents are strange animals, a weird subspecies of bikes. They tend to attract even stranger followers. I don't think I could hang with that gang. I lack the fervent desire to use a windscreen, and to try to convince every upright cyclist I see that my ride is clearly superior in every aspect. And I don't have a cute orange flag to put on the back.



Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss?



Nope, I've been entirely to busy ragging those on my crew, who do play at being trigeeks, to ever find the time to train properly. Besides, I'm a Clydesdale. Jesus, what a bow wave I'd create!



Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why?



Who came up with these evil ass questions? Giving up either would be quitting, and I'm no quitter. Besides, I just started trying to improve my multitasking by eating ice cream while I ride my bike.



What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it.



Have you ever taken your significant other for a ride on tandem?



Hell no! She could reach me entirely too easily!



Now, tag three biking bloggers. List them below:



Wrecking Ball - I expect your usual eloquence, with appropriate misspellings, of course.
Little Ball - with your usual liberal use of expletives
Juancho - because Fat Lad let you off too easily, and besides, I still outweigh you

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pig Trails / Macon Race



Marcus, Big Jim Slade, Ice Berg, Ricky Silk, and Myself drove up to Macon for the last race of the Georgia Series this past weekend. Macon is an easy drive, and I'm always for driving north versus south for mountain bike races.


If you've never been to Macon to ride, you should give it a shot. There are at least 3 good trails in Macon, similar to our TB Park / Cadillac system, and Thomaston's Camp Thunder is only 30 minutes west, and Daucet is only 25 minutes north. You can ride a ton of new trails in an easy weekend trip.


Anyway, our merry band drove up on Saturday, and Ricky Silk came up solo on Sunday morning. We prerode the course Saturday afternoon and it was hot!! The temperature, not the trail. Well the trail was kind of cute, but not hot like the oppressive middle GA weather. The high was 98. The course was described to us as flat and fast. Not entirely true, but close. There was about a mile of rolling grass fields and dirt roads before you hit any singletrack. That changes the nature of the holeshot style start we're used to in FL. I decided right away to sit in around the fields, to see how I felt, rather than tear off and try to hold it to the woods, where I'd surely blow up like cheap fireworks. The rest of the trail was mostly fast, twisty, hardpacked singletrack. That stuff is right up my alley. About a 1/3 of the way through the 7.25 mile loop there were a series of short, steep, rooty, technical climbs. These were not horrible, but they would send your heartrate to the redline if you missed a downshift when you rounded a corner to find one looming in front of you. Definitely a fun course to race on.


My race went alright. Not great, but not terrible either. I sat in on the start and luckily they didn't go too hard around all of that grasstrack. I went in the woods on 3rd's wheel. 1st and 2nd checked out just before the woods. Incidentally, they were 1st and 2nd in the points race as well. 3rd eventually started to show signs of being blown at the tops of the little climbs, so I ducked under. Unfortunately, the guy behind me made the pass also. I rode my tempo for awhile, but 4th was all over me. He made a pass and I tried to stay with him, but didn't feel it. I just kept telling myself to ride tempo and maybe he'd crack. Shortly I noticed that he was staying only about 30 seconds up. That gave me hope. If I could hold that gap until the last lap, I could give it all to reel him in. I guess the heat finally caught up with me on the last lap, though. I tried, but my heartrate would hardly go up. I was just toast. I would pin it with all I had up a little rise, and my HR would only go up to around 155. I'd been averaging about 162-165 before that. I guess 4th was my destiny. So be it.


I spent my suffering moments on that last lap hating Big Jim Slade for all he was worth. His class only had to do 2 laps. I could just see his punk ass sitting in the feed zone with his clean clothes on, feet up, sipping a latte in one hand and a wine cooler in the other, while I was out there bleeding through my eyeballs trying fruitlessly to catch 3rd place! After my race, he kept trying to tell me stories about how he almost threw away his chance to win again. That's right! The bastard won again! I just kept telling him not to talk to me. My hate fatigue was still too deep. He didn't listen, though. It seems that the only person to pass him the entire race, was Ice Berg. Berg started in a class behind BJS, and still caught him, even though BJS was winning! And when Berg catches him, BJS promptly throws himself into a tree, out of sheer frustration, I'm sure. Did I mention that Ice Berg won also? Yep. He trounced the hopes and dreams of another junior kid, who had an undefeated season until Berg showed up.


While Ice Berg and Big Jim Slade were stealing the glory from their respective classes' series winners, Marcus and Silk were busy getting robbed themselves.


Marcus had a SNAFU with race organizers, wherein they gave him the wrong number plate for his class. So he misses his start completely, and has to join the race at the very back of the field. He chased for all he was worth, but due to the number mix up, none of us had any idea how far he'd moved up in the field. When the results were finally posted, he had made it to 5th. Who knows how well he could've done without having to spend all that time chasing and passing slower guys in the singletrack.


Ricky Silk absolutely flew at this race! Unfortunately, Andy Johnston had downgraded from his Pro license, to the expert class. Something about wanting to qualify for Master's World's. I'm still not to sure how I feel about this. I think the root of the problem lies in the rules for qualifying for Master's World Championships. I think if Johnston had been allowed to keep his pro license, then Silk wouldn't have been robbed of a well deserved win. Silk was the only guy even close to Johnston, and third was 3 minutes back from Silk. Again, so be it.


So go the stories of our gang in Macon. Of course we ate entirely too much at JL's BBQ on the way home, but that's what we do. That, and tell way too many stories of every detail, of every corner, of every lap of our races, all the way home. But that's half the fun, right?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Northern Heat Wave



So much for my plan to try posting more often. It didn't help that I spent a week in Michigan with no interweb access. Michigan was cool. Not temperature cool, but a change of scenery cool. We showed up for a damn heatwave. We drive 16 hours north, and it's still 90+ everyday. And to add insult to injury, A/C is not so prominent up there. It's kind of like the lack of heat in South Florida homes. The Michiganders were melting by the droves. They all look to us and say, "Oh you guys must be used to this. I bet it doesn't even bother you!". Yeah we're used to it! We call it "hot". It sucks, but we use this great new tool called an air conditioner. Luckily our host had a pool. I spent so much time in there that I started to grow gills.


Riding in Galesburg, MI is very similar to riding N. Florida trails. The trails I rode are kind of a mix between the better parts of Jacksonville's Hannah Park, and our own, Cadillac Trail. Ft. Custer boasts approximately 20 miles of trail, and if you find yourself up that way, give 'em a shot.


Ft. Custer Cyclery is a nearby shop, owned by a fellow clydesdale. You can always tell when a clydesdale is on duty in a bike shop, and no, I'm not talking about a trail of donut crumbs! When a clydesdale has any sort of influence on shop inventory, there will actually be jerseys of the XL and XXL variety. I even saw a XXXL on the rack! Just to show my approval, I bought a couple of his shop h2o bottles and XXL shop shirt. You gotta support those who fight the good fight.


Being in the shop and meeting the owner stirred my juices again. When we left, I asked my Ol' Lady how this northern breed of clydesdale gets to be a shop owner. I have to say, I'm more than a little envious. If I thought this town of ours could support it, I might throw my hat in the ring. But I just don't see that being the case. I do miss the wrenches, though.


As usual, trips are good, but it's even better to be home again.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big Man Goes Home.


All mourn the loss of the King of Clydesdale, from this year's Tour de France. That's right, Big Maggie Backstedt packed it in yesterday. After trying desperately to come in under the time limit, he missed the cutoff by 4 minutes. Backstedt was the only guy out there who could represent for those of us who continued to grow after the age of 9.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yee Haw!!


Wearing that orange Jittery Joe's jersey, this is kind of what Big Jim Slade looked like, right before he augered on the Joe's ride last night.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tying Up Loose Ends


I've been horribly lax about keeping this site up to date. I feel like I need to have a lot to say, or it's not worth saying at all. New plan. We'll try smaller posts from time to time. I'm not sure if that will work either. I once had an art instructor who told me that the more simple the subject matter, the more perfect the technique must be. We'll just have to see how it works.


In perusing the local blogs, I see that we have several stories left incomplete, so I'll try to tie up those loose ends.


Bump-n-Grind: Big Jim Slade won. The rest of us didn't. That's what that instructor meant by poor technique not carrying the simple subject, so let's fill in some blanks. BJS won, but there is the sidebar about him cherry picking the Beginner class. I shouldn't be so hard on him, though. He had fair sounding arguments. He hadn't raced in 10+ years. He was unsure of himself. He'd sworn to never race again. Too much pressure, and he would've stayed home. Despite our reassurances that he is faster than ever(after all, he does ride with us) he went and pulled on his water wings with the rest of the beginners, and proceeded to drag them around the kiddie loop, by their tongues.


Thanks to 007, there was a wager amongst the rest of us, involving prorated lap times. The loser wears a mini skirt at the Tallahassee race. That was my biggest focus. That, and trying to hawk down Wrecking Ball, who started 2 minutes ahead of me. I started hard, but not redlined. Hit the woods in 4th and settled in. I caught guys on the technical areas and the downhills. They would reel me back in on the longer climbs. When we hit the fireroad to the big climb, I was still in 4th or 5th. I could not have been happier to see 007 standing by the trail, all red faced and blown up. I was already stressing how the skirt was going to keep getting caught on my saddle. With that off my back, I just tried not to lose too much time on this long drag of a climb. As soon as we hit the singletrack downhill, I was back at home. It took awhile to pass an over braking, too nervous sport rider. I think I rode too hard to get around, because shortly after I got around, I felt my rear tire getting soft. I pulled over to fix it, and watched helplessly, as all these people I had passed, returned the favor. I changed the tube, and went back to full charge, but the damage was done. I ended up around 7th, with the next guy just 6 seconds up.


Wrecking Ball flew! The fear of me grabbing his ass in lycra in front of all those mountain biking peers was just too much. Even after factoring out the 3 minutes I spent on the flat, Wrecking Ball put time on me. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 minutes. The resident fast guys did as expected. Silk, Ice Berg, and Marcus all got 2nd in their respective expert and sport classes. I don't remember where Jim Smart finished, but he never fails to impress me with how fast he goes on that damn rigid single speed. He had 2, 17 mile laps, and they were both faster than my one!


So goes the story of Bump-n-Grind.


Team Type 1 and RAAM: I'm damn proud of that team. I can't entirely explain my attachment to them, as Phil is the only one I know that well. Being there that first year, and then again for the sophomore attempt, the experience is so huge, it's not easily dismissed. This year they gave it their all, again, but came up a little short. For a more detailed peek behind the curtain, check out Monique's site. The Norwegians rode hard. Very hard! I remember reading somewhere that great champions are defined by their competitors. The Norwegians are worthy adversaries, and I can't wait to see how next year pans out.


Big Foot Sighting: Yes, Juancho rode with us this past weekend. The last time we invited him to a southside ride before noon, he wanted to know why we were obsessed with doing night rides! Juancho not only showed up, but he was there before me. I dig it when the crews intermingle. Otherwise the gene pool gets a little shallow.


Top quotes from the ride;


"You just gotta figure out how to get the big black man to give you more of that banana pudding."


"It's all relative. That log is a lot bigger to Wrecking Ball, than it is to the rest of us."


"Riding without Wrecking Ball, is like a road trip without a radio."


"If you put a saddle on that fox squirrel, Wrecking Ball, I bet you could fly around these trails!"


"I feel a crack coming on." (2 seconds later) "And there it is."


Sorry for the flack W.B., but you had it coming after that video post. Thanks for the entertainment, Juancho.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Their Hour of Need



I know some folks on RAAM who need your words. Let's send some big time love to the boys and girls of Team Type 1. They've got a green crew this year, but are out there given 'er their all.


This year a team of Norwegian super monsters has designs on toppling TT1 from the leader board. These big frost apes are doing quite the job as you read this. TT1 did a valiant job of pulling them back once, and I am hoping they have it in them again. I chose not to participate this year, but I fear I've made a bad call. Only a couple of the crew, and 3 of the riders, have RAAM experience, and the learning curve can be tough! I've tried to wear Phil's phone out, discussing this race as it rolls along the western US. It seems he is a little surprised at the addiction, we both feel for this event. I can't help but think that a little more experience, and probably more importantly, fresh bodies, unworn from the past 4 days of sleepless RV and minivan travel, could help bring this race back together. It is absolutely killing me to not be there to help plot, plan, and motivate with the rest of the crew.


Phil had no sooner stepped into his home in Atlanta, after watching the team roll out from Oceanside, then he started to plan his intercept. I thought he was kidding. But he called yesterday and said he had a ticket to St. Louis, where he'd drive to Jefferson City, and meet the Team at the time station. My heart sunk as I looked at all the work stacked on my desk. I've never wanted to put myself into what I know can be a living hell, so bad in all my life.


This damn race has become ingrained in my psyche, or something. It's like an evil virus that I can ignore all year, until it's time for the teams to fly west and begin final preparation. Then it's like I forget all of the sleep and shower deprivation, the whining of both crew and riders alike, and the sheer stress of trying to make no mistakes or errors that may lose any of that time, the riders scratched and fought for.


Even though I chose to sit this one out, my heart still sings with their victories, and aches at their loss. I promise you that the emotional roller coaster those riders are enduring right now is much worse than this blog rant of mine, so pop over to the TT1 blog, and leave a motivational comment for the gang. They read them after their shifts, and it feels good to know people are watching and supporting.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I've Got No Air!


There's a curse following me around the past week or so. Things that contain that which surrounds us everyday, in such a manner as to allow smooth locomotion, refuse to do so when in my possession or presence.


It started the day before we left for Bump-n-Grind. I got up that morning, and there was only about 10lbs of air in my truck's rear tire. That vehicle now being untrustworthy, Paul and I hijacked my poor wife, at 7:00am, to give us a ride to the agreed upon meeting spot for our trip. "I'll deal with it when I come home." I said. Fool.


All is going well in the race. I'm flying on the downhills! After all, as a clydesdale, my climbing is not so great, so I've gotta make up for it somewhere. I love these long, rocky, fast downhill stretches! I'd just gotten around some nervous, sketchy, panic braking, overcautious, skinny guy, when I felt the wind leave my sails, as my rear tire nearly rolled off the rim in a right hand switchback. Apparently, I'd punctured somewhere on my pass attempts. Fool.


Thursday's Joe's ride is going well, for the first half of the ride. But I forgot to eat something right before the ride. During the 2nd half, I'm just holding on. The hot summer air feels like a furnace in my lungs, and I can't go fast anymore. With the fast laps over, a few of us are cruising in at a nice, slow, cool down pace. Pfft. Pfft.Pfft. Pfft. Damn tubulars! I knew I should've been more proactive about selling them, and getting a replacement set of clinchers. Fool.


Friday, Marcus needs to go pick up his rental car, out by the airport. I agree to take an easy ride out there, and we'll drive the rental back. The road bike is still on blocks, so the 'cross bike comes out. I remember, as we roll out from Mark's, I have no more long valve tubes for my rear wheel. Oh well, I'm running Specilaized kevlar belted, puncture resistant tires. What are the odds? The key here is puncture resistant. Fool.


Sunday's mountain bike ride rolls around, and I'm just gassed. I don't really even want to ride, but it's Sunday, and I'm hoping that the ride will clear my angst. I grab my front wheel to put it on my bike, and imagine my lack of surprise to feel a flaccid 15lbs of air pressure. This tire has been losing no more than a couple of lbs. of pressure a week, ever since I first mounted it on the wheel! I pump it up to proper pressure, hope the Stan's sealant will reseal any slow leaks, and roll out. Fool.


That was it. I was cracked. I pumped the tire up again, and headed for home. 30 minutes in, and I was calling it quits. That's right. I quit a ride over a flat tire. Or was it 4 flat tires? Either way, I got home and my wife calls. She's surprised I'm home so early. I tell her my tale, and she sighs and says it's not over, yet. Apparently, she awoke to a flat tire on her car this morning, also.


No more stories now. I'm going to go out to my shop and try to contain some air.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Race Weekend!


You guys are on your own for the weekend. The crew and I are headed for Birmingham, AL; our annual pilgrimage to Bump-n-Grind.


Somebody check on Derwood while we're gone. He called yesterday and sounded like he'd been gargling all of the phlegm I coughed up 2 weeks ago. So he's out. Bed rest and fluids for that boy!


The rest of us are all atwitter. I think Wrecking Ball might throw up today!! His nerves kicked in yesterday! That guy has to be first at everything!


Word came down that 007 is coming down from DC, and in typical 007 fashion, the gauntlet has already been thrown. His challenge has the owner of the slowest overall lap time, between, himself, Wrecking Ball, and yours truly, wearing a skirt at one of the fall Florida Series races. We're working on including All Pro Marcus in our wager, but he's gonna have to spot us about 10 minutes. I'm already trying to work out the logistics of riding in a skirt.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm Kinda Back..


Well, the bionic man theory has not played out like I'd hoped. Actually, I feel alot more like a malfunctioning Inspector Gadget , than any kind of bionic anything.


After being sick for a week, I tried to look at it as an unplanned rest week. No such luck! I rode 6 days last week, but tried to come back slowly. Started with short easy rides, and slowly made them harder, leading up to yesterday's race simulation ride. I didn't feel any specific effects linked to my chest cold, but I definitely did not feel very fast. I know that chest colds can diminish aerobic capacity for awhile, even after the main symptoms have cleared out, but I was still hopeful. Well the work is done now, nothing to do but try to enjoy an easy week before we leave for Bump-n-Grind this weekend. I have to say, I really was hoping to pull off something special up there, but the illness has stolen my thunder.


On a more positive note, we used all of Cadillac as part of our loop yesterday, and the upper loop of Cadillac is starting to fill in nicely. I was very annoyed after it was originally built, but one line is starting to emerge now, and it's fast and fun! It's a nice contrast to the sideslope of the lower Cadillac, and I do like being able to do it as a loop.
BTW, I'm about to put out a missing persons ad in the Democrap. But I'll start it here. Bikeposse has lost its Porn 'Stache. If anyone has seen him, please let me know. I hate the thought of Porn 'Stache wandering the trails, all alone, with noone to tell his stories to.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm Back.....


Bigworm

A man barely alive

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him

We have the technology

We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man

Bigworm will be that man

We can make him better than he was before

Better. Stronger. Faster

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

M.I.A.


I know! I know!, I've been missing in action way too long. Lil' Ronnie calls and bitches about the zodiac thing being up too long, which was plenty enough reason to leave it up for another week or two!


It seems like I've been going 1oo mph, but I'm not sure what's getting accomplished. I'm definitely spending big time on the bike, until this week. I woke up yesterday to the dreaded sinus drain. It seems to be worse today. So being off the bike gave me time to hit the site again. But now I don't really feel like thinking, so here I am with nothing to say, except sick sucks!! I guess if I were Chuck Norris, I'd roundhouse kick myself in the nose until my sinuses surrendered.


Now if I could just get Wrecking Ball to chime in with his patented cure all. Something about Motrin and cold showers....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Astrology is for kooks....I think.....


I've never given much credence to the zodiac, or the whole astrology gig, but this month has me wondering. The number of April birthdays for people in my circle, or at least indirectly involved in my circle, is certainly noteworthy.


Flash is, of course, an April Fool's baby. Mrs. Worm falls on the 4th, with me 10 days later. I even had a girlfriend in high school who celebrated her's 4 days after mine. My ex-stepfather's was the 16th. Now I find out that the infamous Juancho has the diamond for a birthstone. I've avoided Big Johnny's site, Drunkcyclist.com, of late(He spilled the beans on who won Paris - Roubaix before it aired on Versus!!), but when I went back, I saw he had just passed his 38th milestone as well. And most recently, Derwood and Marcus' wife, Cortney, shared the same birthday, the 22nd!
Now like I said, I never cared if you were a Leo with a rising Rat sign, pulled to the lower case by a full moon tide, but I am at least a little curious who else out there has an April birthday.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Man, I'm Beat!!


I need a weekend to recover from my weekend! The "Bikechain!, another Revolution About Bikes" grand opening ceremony went off despite threatening weather. The rainy morning did foul up our ride plans. Except for Flash, I saw him roll off in the rain solo, twice! The rest of us kept getting distracted by ping pong and foosball table setups. Those things need to be thoroughly tested before opening them to the guests. So test them we did!


The rain cleared and the day turned out beautifully, albeit a little muggy. A good sign that Florida summertime humidity is right around the corner. My lunch rides will soon need to roll from Maclay, so I can jump in the lake afterwards, before returning to work.


I was supposed to attend the Ceilidh that night, so I could see Wrecking Ball's brother's singing performance. But too many stressful hours of heated table tennis, foosball, and swing bike riding had me wiped out!! I got a text saying the venue sucked, and I should stay home. I'm pretty bummed about missing Davey, but staying home with my feet up and the AC cranking was quite the welcome end to a long day.


It was very cool to see so many people I hadn't seen in years. There were so many people from the old Revolutions crowd. If it had just been cold, and Kingsnake had been around to do naked laps around the shop, you could've mistaken it for one of the Revolutions Christmas parties. Check the pic up top. Somewhere in there, you'll find a Wrecking Ball, Ice Berg, Big Jim Slade, yours truly, Pauly, Big Ball, Micro, Master Baton, the better parts of Wrecking Ball's family, Tim Shanks, little brother(who rode my bus in the 6th grade, and I was completely terrified of!), and visiting Atomic dignitaries, Jimbo and Kristen. With Jim and Kristen being so involved in the current Tallahassee race scene, and Jack Shank and Master Baton being around for the late 80's early 90's race scene, we had a very thorough mix of old school and new school.


Sunday, I didn't want to wake up. But we finally got organized, and Big Jim Slade, Marcus, Wrecking Ball, and myself did about a 2.5 hour road ride up north. We were sick of the same ole same ole, so Marcus planned a new route. Poor B.J.S., was on some new tires, and he was less than stoked when he got dragged through several miles of dirt roads. What can you say? Paris-Roubaix was on Versus yesterday, so it was perfectly fitting in my eyes. After way too many yellow sign sprints, the weekends activities rolled to an end. We hit Sonny's for lunch, and I spent most of the remainder of Sunday on the couch watching racing. Not too bad.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mini Roadtrip


The crew has been scheduling a daytrip over to the Suwanee River for about 2 months. As with any good trip involving more than one person, scheduling conflicts were the rule, rather than the exception. We finally settled on this past Sunday, and with the exception of Derwood(who chose to go race his skinny tire bike instead), everyone managed to get their ducks in a row.


Choose your Universal Higher Being, be it God, Yahwe, Buddha, or Fat Albert. He, She, It, did it's best to take me out of the mix. I spent the majority of Saturday either helping my Mom deal with a rotten meat filled freezer(no power for 2 weeks!), or hanging at her house as part of mine and my wife's birthday celebrations. On the way home from Quincy that night, my alternator died. We barely limped home, the last mile or so in the dark, as there was no longer enough juice in the battery to keep the lights running. I barely kept the engine running! My truck was supposed to be part of the next day's transport systems. So much for that. After calling my Dad to postpone the next afternoon's birthday festivities at his house, this would leave me time to fix the truck when I returned from the roadtrip, I conned my poor wife into dropping me off with rest of the crewers at 7:30 the next morning. For those who know me, this caused way more stress than I would have liked, but the trip was still on, I was still in the mix.

At 7:30 we're all in the prescribed parking lot, on time and stoked! Except maybe my Ol' Lady, she wasn't quite as stoked, but she still got a kick out of a bunch of 30 and 40 somethings chattering and playing like 2nd grade school girls on their first field trip. We load all of our bikes and gear into Ken;s truck, and we're off. All along, Marcus and I are picturing the often talked about, White Springs trails on the Suwanee River. Ken produces maps, and we realize that the latest Ken-venture is already starting to unfold. We are getting off the Interstate way earlier than expected, and are riding trails on the opposite side of the river and much further north than the White Springs trails. Oh well, Ken-ventures in the past have been good, so I'm all in. We unload in a typical Ken-venture parking lot(usually a wide piece of ditch). Immediately we have to grab Wrecking Ball by the legs! Pterodactyl size mosquitoes are trying to carry him away! Marcus steps out and realizes we're parked in a carpet of poison ivy. Immediately his phobias kick into overdrive. We filled a small kiddie pool with DEET, and he proceeded to immerse himself. While he's doing laps, bikes are being unloaded, bike clothes are donned, gear double checked. Wait, maybe we should have done that last back at the start. It seems Wrecking Ball has left his front wheel about an hour west of our current location!

After some deliberation, and by deliberation I mean, after listening to a whole lot of Irish cursing, I tell him to call and sweet talk his wife into getting his wheel and meeting him halfway. In the meantime we'll choose a direction, ride for 30-45 minutes and return to regroup. Luckily for everybody involved, Mrs. Wrecking Ball agrees and the new plan is in motion. Typical Ken-venture, this time through no fault of Ken's, aside from who he chooses to associate with.

Wrecking Ball roars off in a cloud of dust, and the rest of us choose the southerly route first. The trail is rather wide, actually it started out as a major unpaved thoroughfare. We finally turned into the woods on something more akin to fairly hard packed firebreak trails. Within a reasonable amount of time, we'd lost all track of the trail blazes. Typical Ken-venture. Marcus voted against returning to find our mistake, in favor of simply finding the river. That boy has an infatuation with large bodies of water. I think he may have gone swimming had he not been afraid it would have washed away several layers of his bug protection! Once we found the river and chilled for a few minutes we began our return in hopes that H.W.B. was able to find our original parking spot. There was a little bit of concern there.


On the way back, we stopped at a small, family cemetery. Most of the Stones up front showed dates in the late 1800's. When we looked more closely, we realized they were mostly children, many less than a year, and some not even a month old. It really made me want to do some research to see if there was some sort of epidemic that spread through that area during that era. Perhaps children just didn't survive back then. Makes you thankful for modern medicine.

As soon as we rolled out from the cemetery, Wrecking Ball rounded the corner with his wheel. Well timed! We'd already ridden an hour and a half, so we all ate while W.B. put his bike and gear together.




The northern route started out as singletrack, which was much more promising. It also led us much more quickly to the river. It really is cool riding the high bluffs over that steady black water. The trails never got very technical or challenging, but the view was good. We continued north for another 1-1.5 hours, taking breaks at the better overlooks. Eventually we arrived at a park area with benches along another nice bluff. We sat around for awhile and watched the river make its way south. Conversation migrated around to food, and it was all over. We remounted and continued on our way, but the calling of food was too strong. We'd been riding for about 3 hours and everyone was feeling tired of Clif bars and Gu. When the trail popped out on Highway 90, a quick decision was made to take the road for a few miles back to the dirt road that parallelled the river, and led back to the truck. Luckily the plan played out well, and we shaved a good hour or more off of the ride back.






We decide to take 90 back home. The plan was to find a mom-n-pop style, BBQ joint. No love on the BBQ, but we did find a cool, all you can eat southern food buffet. The place was packed with Madison County residents, fresh from church. I thought we might look a little outlandish, until I saw some of the church outfits. We were good. Once I discovered the homemade chicken and dumplings, I considered moving to Madison. There is just no need for food to be that good!! We ate until we were bloated, and then went for the cobbler desserts! Wash it all down with true Southern sweet tea, and consider yourself truly satiated!





As with all prior Ken-ventures, I made my way home sore, tired and stuffed! (No, not like that, Ronnie!!) Then I just had to find the energy to replace that alternator.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Big Weekend!


The Big Bend Cycling Festival went off, well not without a hitch, but she sure went off this weekend! About 1/2 of Saturday's crits were cancelled due to an inhospitable Mother Nature. She threw down with some heavy duty rain and even a tornado or two. Around 4pm the local Po-Po pulled the cord and shut her down. Oh well, I fully enjoyed spectating while it lasted. Ricky Silk did us proud with a 2nd in his race. He would have won it with a little more roadie experience. He had the guy beat hands down and eased up right at the line. No showy hands in the air or anything, but he backed off just enough for the other guy to slide by and literally beat him by .001 second. That stings a little, but the ever positive Silk just chalked it up to a learning experience.


Sunday was quite cloudy and I was sure the skies would unload at any minute, but the deluge never came. Being that wet roads spooked me less in a Cat 5 road race, as opposed to a wet Cat 5 crit, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. So throw it I did, and those punks preceded to stomp all over it! The course was VERY hilly. No love whatsoever for a 240lb mountain biker. I rode as smart as I could, and outlasted quite a few, but eventually, Bradley came by with a pretty serious attack, halfway up one of the big ones. That was it, I gave what I had, but it wasn't enough. Riders flew off the back all around me. Over the top, I got on with another straggler who was still willing to lay it on the line. I was down with that. Maybe we'd catch a break, and the group would ease up after that effort. I tried to pull through for my compatriot, but everytime I started around him, he'd go harder! Eventually I gave up and sat on his wheel. He got us pretty close to the group on the next hill, so I gave it an all or nothing effort to bridge across. I rolled the dice and came up snake eyes. After that, the stragglers I'd passed returned the favor. Oh well, I went ahead and stayed in the gas all the way to the end. I actually was able to go a lot harder than I thought I would. I have to say I'm definitely bummed on getting dropped, but I am stoked that I was able to go as hard as I did. Two months ago I had a hard time getting my heartrate over 165. I averaged 165 for that entire 1 hour race. I must be getting somewhere.


On the positive side, our boy, Ice Berg, pulled off the surprise move of the day, and brought home a win. I'm super stoked for him! He was freaking out the whole time I was in the group because people were riding so sketchy. I just kept telling him to relax and worry about his own ride. Sure enough, one of the sketchiest guys eventually took himself, and another guy, out. Luckily, all of our crew was in the clear, and Berg managed to do what he needed to when the time came.


All in all, it was good weekend for bike race fans.

Looking at that pic, does the kid really look all that fast? He'll surprise you, even with that junior restricted gearing.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Resurgence


The Joe's Ride had a bit of a resurgence last night. Maybe not quite as dramatic as the Phoenix rising above, but we had 15-16 people out there, even without the Atomic crew. Actually we did have two Atomics with us. Thanks for the support, Paul. Hopefully this will be a positive trend.


This is a big weekend for T-town cycling. The Big Bend Cycling Festival starts tonight with a blessing of the bikes and cycling film festival at Railroad Square. Tomorrow will be criterium racing at the downtown Park Ave. area. Crits are the most spectator friendly version of bike racing, so bring the family and friends out to watch the action. Sunday will see road racing in Quincy. These races are on a longer, 21 mile loop through Northern Gadsden County, with the start and finish in Downtown Quincy, about 30 minutes west of T-town. If you want to see people hurt, check out the race map on the Cycling Festival website and drive out on the course. There are about a half dozen MEAN hills out there. Perch on top and cheer the sufferers as they go by. Even in the 1 lap races there is plenty of time to go watch out on the course and be back in time for the finish. Saturday morning will also see the TOSRV ride roll out, as well as the Red Hills Triathlon at Maclay Gardens. I think Sunday is also the official Grand Opening of Juancho's favorite trail, the Twilight Zone. I heard he's holding a meet and greet after the group ride down there and may even sign your computer monitor if you bring it by!


If the weather holds, yours truly is strongly considering Saturday's crit at 11am, and Sunday's road race at 3pm. Neither the road course, nor the crit course, fit this Clydesdale and a quarter's strengths, but it's in town, so why not?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rituals and a Friend in Need


Cyclists tend to be ritualistic by nature. We do this ride this day; we do that ride that day. We need this coffee, energy drink, or ionized water before we feel good to go. We count pedal revolutions, miles, kilometers, hours, heart rates, and power outputs. Then we sit around and compare the numbers from this day with the numbers from that day. When the numbers don't add up, we get agitated. Now my buddy Juancho may chime in here and say, "I don't count no stinkin' numbers!". And to some degree, he'll be telling the truth. But even the most free spirited of our kind have some degree of the ritual in them. It could be as simple as remembering how many "smoke breaks" were taken during the ride, or how many days it's been since your last ride. For Fat Lad, it's the mumbling of "...helmet, shoes, buff, camelbak,...", as he wanders the house in hopes of forgetting nothing important before he embarks on the day's adventure.


Sometimes I get aggravated with myself for getting caught up in the numbers. Am I getting caught in a rut? Do I need to be so regimented? Where's my free spirit? Relax, man! This is supposed to be for fun!!


But some of these rituals are part of the fun. Some are down right comforting. All winter I look forward to summertime and the return of daylight savings time. The time of year when it stays light out until 8:00pm and later. This time of year brings back a thursday night ritual that I've been a part of for the past 10 years! Unfortunately, this year the ritual looks like she's on the ropes and may be breathing her last.


I didn't start the the thursday Joe's ride. It had nothing to do with Joe's back then. Ricky Silk, Ace Lashley, Double D, and I think Bob Bacardi, were the architects of the loop through Killearn. They came up with the route to add some road training into their growing expert and semi-pro mountain bike training, back in the early to mid 90's. The loop travels through a large, established neighborhood with very wide roadways. There are plenty of hills and turns to keep your from becoming bored with the straightline monotony that can perpetuate too many road routes. Back then, the rides were not too big. Maybe the original four with a few visitors.


I'd only done the loop a few times, but at some point when I was working at Joe's Bike Shop, we started running this ride out of the shop every thursday during daylight savings. The rock stars in town all lived for the wednesday night Food Lion ride, but those of us who were more second tier, we waited for thursday. This was our ritual. Food Lion is your typical, take no prisoners, road race simulation, hammer fest. I've tried to hang on that ride more times than I'll ever remember, and I'll try again, but thursday, the efforts are shorter. Their defined in such a manner as to prevent the "all out", start to finish, mentality of Food Lion. After the efforts, the ride chills, to let those dropped, come back. And if you can't get back on, the loop is short enough that you can just back track, and join in the 2nd or 3rd go around. This encourages those of us not quite fast enough, to participate. At Food Lion, it's all I can do to sit in, and I still don't make it. At the Joe's Ride, guys and girls who are hangers on at the fast rides can actually go to the front and play a role, with less fear of getting left, permanently dropped, out in the boondocks.


It's safe to say I've developed a heavy duty attachment to this summertime, thursday ritual. She's like an old friend that moves back every summer. Over the years the ride had swollen to include as many as 20-30 riders on any given thursday. The energy was a blast! Every year there were a ton of new faces, as well as old friends. I've been out of the shop for almost 5 years, but guys like Carl, at Great Bicycle Shop, the boys over at Higher Ground, and sometimes even Larry from Sunshine, kept the shop presence alive every thursday. My crew would roll from the office and do a warm up lap, then we'd meet the shop crews at the beginning of the loop. Shop versus shop. Mountain guys versus road guys. Juniors versus everybody. The entertainment would begin again every summer.


But this year, something has changed. I was amped for the first ride of the year. I had about 8 guys roll from the office, but when we met the others, there were only about 8 or 9 people. Oh well I thought, first Joe's Ride of the year, and they did move daylight savings up to March this year. Maybe word hasn't gotten around, yet. Halfway into the first sprint, one of my crew gets a flat. We wait and never rejoined the ride. With daylight savings so early this year, it looked like it would be dark rather early, so no 2nd lap, and no regroup. I was pretty bummed, but there's always next week. The next week, I kept the stoke under control, not wanting to be let down again. But this week I get wind that Gillis and the Atomic Team are planning to ride the Food Lion loop again on thursday. So there went a half dozen of the guys who showed for the first ride. When my crew met the ride this time there were only about 6 people, plus our 5. I'm not liking this trend. As the 3rd ride of the year comes around, I don't know what to expect. Atomic is doing Food Lion, again. I only had 5 guys out of the office, but 1 is going home early. Our 4 met the main group that included a whopping 2 people!!


Now I'm definitely more attached than most, but the Joe's Ride is in trouble. I'm not sure what happened this year. Carl moved to Orlando, and I've seen no one from Great Bicycle Shop. I've seen maybe 1 guy from Higher Ground. What happened to all of the shop guys? Do they no longer do group road rides? Where are all of the FSU team kids? Did that club die again? I guess without the shop spokesmen , the word doesn't get out as well. I'm thinking that maybe I'll go around to the shops this week and see what's up. Maybe I can stir some interest. Anyway, if any of you enjoyed the thurday night Joe's Ride, come on out this thursday. If we don't get participation up so the word spreads, she'll die before long. Who knows, she may die this week. Either way, I'll be out there thursday night. I figure I've been there this long, I may as well see it the end. Hopefully the end isn't as near as it seems. I don't really feel like looking for a new thursday night ritual.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ego Boost or Ego Bust?


I stepped out of my usual routine this morning. Usually it's all about getting together with the crew for nice mountain bike ride to wash away the grime of the workweek. Today, I opted to attend the Saturday Chaires Road Ride, as I clearly needed to have my ass handed to me. Marko, Rodrique, and Big Jim Slade decided to play along, and joined in for the fun. I use that term, "fun", very loosely!


Oh dear Lord, that ride turned me inside out. Marko and I made it to the end with the A Group, but in their defense, it was an easy ride this week. Nothing like being stoked to have suffered through seven levels of hell, and then be told nonchalantly at the end, "Yeah, it was nice taking it easy today, I'm a little under the weather." Or my other favorite, " Today was a nice tempo ride. I'm glad it wasn't so fast for a change."


They can all kiss my @55!! I saw way more 170+ time on my heart rate monitor than I thought I was capable of.!! Mark wasn't giving them the satisfaction and promptly responded with, "Yeah, we haven't been out here in a few years. It was nice to come back to a slower ride for the first one." Complete BS, but I'm glad he had the wherewithal to play the game, 'cause I was still too far in oxygen debt. At that point I'm pretty sure I was pondering more important things like, who's legs those were pedalling my bike, or if I'd actually ever feel my taint again.


We arrived at the truck to discover that Rodrique either made it back and drove home, or someone had stolen his truck. Big Jim Slade, however, was nowhere to be seen, while his truck was still where he left it. We had hoped he'd used one of the shortcuts to beat us back, but no such luck. I started changing back to street clothes and trying to stretch a little when my phone starts ringing. Obviously in a low blood sugar moment, I was cussing the phone for disturbing my inventory of body parts that may never feel the same. Mark insists I grab it in case it's Slade, but I was just a second too slow, story of my life. I open the phone to see I've missed 5 calls from our missing compadre. I call him back and he answers, " What the hell??!! I haven't seen the first search party yet!!! Are you guys coming or what??!!". As soon as we get through laughing, Mark and I load up and go looking for the last of the Lost Boys.


It was definitely an eye opener to go that hard for that long. You lose focus for a few seconds and a gap opens that you may not be able to close. Ask Jim, it's a long ride home solo.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beware!!


This is what happens if you hassle Big Jim Slade too much, when he's really concentrating on premier line choice.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'll Take Trial and Error. Heavy on the Error please...


Well, after a rough day of flinging his body to the ground in various fashions on Sunday, word on the street is that Big Jim Slade is geared up and ready for round two. Singletrack training begins tonight.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Evil Siren Song


It's happening again. It happened this same time last year. Despite my best efforts to stave it off, the longing creeps back in. Keeping the desire away is about as fruitless as holding water in your cupped hands. One weak moment on a friend's website, and my heart swells with pride at his accomplishments...again.


I swore it off after the first venture. I was weak and returned for a second tour of duty. It's funny how a year will fog the memories of sleepless nights, and days. Long hours of caring for tired riders and their machines that carry them across this great big country of ours. And I promise you, this country is a hell of a lot larger at 25mhp! The 2nd RAAM was alot harder for me, than the first go around. You'd think it would be easier, with experience, and all. Maybe the experience was the killer. Having the knowledge of just how big an undertaking we were on kept my nerves on edge. I always felt like one mistake would topple our monstrous house of cards. Carl and Paul stayed on a high all the way through their first year, as did I the year before. Maybe the knowing what was behind the curtain sullied the polish.


Regardless, I found myself on the teamtype1 website tonight, and those evil longings of participating in that grand debacle crept inside my defenses again. I've fended off the calls to battle so far. My adopted little brother, Phil, is not on the RAAM team this year, as he's part of the pro team now. As a matter of fact, he's enjoying the steep part of the learning curve at the Tour of Taiwan. As a big brother, I reserve the right to snicker at his suffering. His not being at RAAM this year makes it a little easier for me to bow out. But it still doesn't stop the desire.


This year I've reserved my time for a new grand adventure, which hopefully will be substantially less stressful, albeit substantially more expensive.