Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ride Notification

Some of you may have noticed the Bikeposse Ride Info on the right side of this page. I'm trying to keep these ride announcements up to date. I know we have a few folks who wish to join in from time to time, but don't know how to get in touch. So, here ya go.

Disclaimer and small print:

I'm sure that Mother Nature and human error will occasionally throw me a curveball. I'll do my best to hit it out of the park, but..... This being acknowledged, use you best judgement. If it's storming, snowing, or even just raining at the prescribed ride time, I may not be there. My post is an effort to centralize the plans, not a promise to be there. And if I'm not, no, you don't get a free toaster oven. No free ride to and from all the rides for the next month. I won't pay your taxes that year. Your best judgement may be different from mine, so take some personal responsibility, and enjoy your decision making freedom!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Playing Opossum

After Saturday's horrible weather, I was chomping at the bit to get a ride together for Sunday. Phone call after phone call, I was feeling the chance of a good group ride slip away, as each crewer came up with another reason to bow out. Bikechain's got kids, so he's on the birthday circuit. Marcus had inlaws in town. Micro's down in Melbourne, sitting on the beach. You get the picture. I'm starting to realize that it's going to be another, "Bigworm and Wrecking Ball Show". I'm starting to think we should be syndicated.

And then Wrecking Ball calls to say we've been invited to join the Bigringcircus boys down at Munson to ride the "new" Twilight Trail. I call up Juancho to confirm the time and the invite, and proceed to be stoked again! A quick call was in order to con the Spanish Mackerel back into riding. Sometimes you have to sell it a little to get the Mackerel up and running. "I know it's going to be cold, but we're not meeting until 11:30. That means you can sleep in! We're meeting the BRC crew, and Juancho says they want to ride chill, so you don't have to play racer boy all day. And you'll get to see trail you've never seen before! Did I tell you Munson has been unbelievable lately! And with this all day rain, it can only get better! You're in?! Good. I'll call you in the morning to be sure you didn't oversleep." One more call to berate Cupcake out of his big baker's cap, and into lycra, and we were good to go.

There was still frozen water in the bed of my truck, at 11am, when I loaded up my bike. That's cold for us Florida folk. We had stalled until 11:30 in hopes of seeing the mercury go above 40 degrees. I'm not so sure that it did... all day! The wind was howling through the Munson parking lot with a vengeance. Wrecking Ball and Darien didn't want to get out of W.B.'s car when I arrived. I'm pretty sure W.B. was trying to determine if he could get his little hobbit car through the singletrack, thus avoiding a likely case of frost bite! Not really cold enough for frostbite, but damn man! We are from Florida!

Once everyone arrives and dons every piece of clothing in eyesight(I think I saw Juancho wrestling a homeless guy for his newspapers!), we roll out. Bushy leads us out, and promptly stretches the group thin. I was late leaving the parking lot and had to play catch up. By the time I get to the regroup, I'm already catching grief from Derwood. "Oh it's a chill ride, you said!" "If it's so chill, how come I was in my bigring?". Now fair readers, help me out here. How the hell is it my fault when I'm at the back, playing chase!? To try and keep a handle on things, I slid to the front and lead out the next section. Best I can tell everyone stayed together until the last hill before the Munson shortcut. Despite what my pal Juancho may try and lead you to believe.

Everything's cool until Derwood gets a phone call. A cell phone call in the middle of our ride! I can't believe he had a signal. To make it worse, it's Pauly who's back at the parking lot, but wants to know where he can rendezvous with our bunch. Are you kidding me?! We're going to ride trail that we have not been on, that crosses a known trail...somewhere! "You know, just turn by the tree, with the leaves, right next to the sandy corner...." You get my drift? I think what we need to do is hide Derwood's phone, and get Pauly a better alarm clock! Derwood accepts punishment, and waits at the trail intersection for Pauly. Now they'll just have to catch up.

Things go more or less normal from there on out. We roll out and occasionally wait for stragglers. The pace varies quite a bit. You can sit up front and play chase with Bushy, Derwood, Cupcake, 'Squatch, and W.B., or you can back off and cruise with Juancho, or the Mackerel. Torso sat in the middle most of the day, looking out for the stragglers, while keeping aware of which way the front group went. Turns out Torso and Spanish Mackerel knew each other from the climbing gym days, so they had a good time catching up on who knew who, and who had moved where.

The trail itself wasn't too bad. It's in better shape than I would have guessed, giving its birth at the hands of dirtbikes. But then again, we have been kicked off of that trail for a couple of years now. Some parts were clearcut about a year ago, but reroutes were in place, and will be packed down as the user passes go up. Tied in with the Munson Loop, you can easily put together an 18-19 mile singletrack loop. There is even a second trailhead on the far end, where those of us who can only fit one water bottle, can get more water. Good to know. For those of you looking for something a little longer, check out Ricky Silk's site. He's been hanging with Jim Smart and some of the Bike Church crew. He posted a 50+ mile loop that they did on Sunday. I know from moto experience that it's possible to link Munson, Twilight, and other singletracks, all the way out to the Springhill pit. From there, other trails will link back towards highway 20, out past Capital Circle. I'm not sure what's legal and what isn't, but I know the possibility is there. Personally, I think some of those trails are too whooped out, or too sandy for my tastes, but to each his own.

Overall, I had a blast! I was definitely tired. I had heard rumors that Mystery the Cupcake Stallion had gone soft, but he's not as soft as they let on. The new reduced calorie Sasquatch was definitely faster than I've ever seen him. And then there's Bushy. This guy will keep you on your toes. He'll show up for our weekly rides, and occasionally he's just off the pace. But then, at Felasco, he blows by in a sag stop and I try to catch back up, but no luck. Sunday, he went to the front for awhile, and again drops the hammer until I'm way more uncomfortable than I would like to be. Don't underestimate him. As soon as the ride gets longer, he just doesn't seem to be as tired as everyone else. The Spanish Mackerel rode better than I've seen in a long while, and was still all smiles in the parking lot. And though Juancho claims to have been mistreated by the "big kids", I still think he's just playing opossum.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

So Now What? Time To Refocus?

Most of the crewers were pretty focused on putting in miles as Felasco prep. Now, with no clear goal on the horizon, the machine seems to be faltering. Personally, I was riding about 5-6 times a week, and digging it. Once you establish the rhythm it's not too hard to keep it rolling. The holidays definitely threw a wrench in the works. Everything was just humming along. Night rides, day rides, weekend rides, harder rides, recovery rides, and then BAM! Christmas on a Tuesday. So of course Christmas Eve ate up Monday. Pick up the pieces and schedule the usual Thursday ride and weekend rides, and along comes New Years Eve. There went Monday again. The Hangover Hare Scramble cancels the Tuesday night ride. Throw in a little questionable weather, and two weeks are turned into 2-ride weeks. It's like rolling along through bumper to bumper rush hour traffic, feeling good about the time you're saving being on your bike, and then you get doored!

So what will the new focus be? Bikechain keeps talking about doing a 12 hour as a team. But Bikechain does that. He talks. Hopefully we'll see him on the Sunday ride. I don't think he's ridden since Felasco, and I know from experience, that he suffers from the "lack of a goal" syndrome more than most any other crew member....

....except maybe Spanish Mackerel! I talked to the Mackerel a couple of times this week, trying to see if he was through riding until next Thanksgiving. He actually claims he wants to ride on Sunday. I hope he makes it. It would be a shame to see that new rig of his start collecting dust with only two rides on its wings.

I don't sweat Wrecking Ball's motivation. If nothing else, that Pekingese energy of his will spin him off the couch and onto his bike! He's generally more willing to ride solo than the rest of us. The word on the street is that after he took a little bit of a beating at Munson Thursday night, he went out and did the Big East Loop solo on Friday. I think it was some sort of cathartic self flagellation.

Speaking of solo. The White Ghost, Ricky Silk, lives to ride alone. This guy is so focused that the majority of the time he won't ride with us because we are either going too slow or too fast for his scheduled training ride that day. He's been in hibernation since the Tallahassee race, with a brief peek outside of his recovery cave to participate in the Off Road Spaghetti. But if you check his site, you'll see he was out riding on what was possibly the worst day of this winter, as far as riding conditions are concerned. So I guess something has his interest peaked.

Marko, I'm not sure about right now. Best I can tell, he's taking a mental break from all of the riding focus. He's still in the gym and doing the bigger rides, and he's very focused on improving his eating habits. He just seems to be a little less gung ho than he was a couple of months ago. But like Wrecking Ball, I don't really worry about him flipping the switch when the time comes. In the meantime, I'm enjoying him being a little more mortal than he used to be.

Derwood is another crewer who's had responsibility drag his super powers back to a more manageable level. Again, I'm thankful to see him hurt a little once in awhile. Starting a new business will do that to you. As soon as he gets that under control, I'm sure he'll be right back to turning us inside out on a regular basis.

As for myself, I'm picking up the pieces again. I managed to ride the day after Felasco, but it all went to hell after that. Monday saw responsibility interfere with my fun. Tuesday, I got called out to attend the reorganization meeting of out fledgling local SORBA club. Wednesday, it rained all day long and was cold(But Silk was out!). Thursday and Friday I got to ride, but today we had a high of 48 and it rained for about 18 hours straight! While the riding has been intermittent, it's not from lack of desire. I don't know what's driving it, but it's there. Maybe the anticipation of a hut-to-hut trip this summer, or an attempt at the Fool's Gold 50. It could just be the constant pursuit of another ride as fun as this past Thursday's. Regardless, I'm looking at the weather channel, in anticipation of tomorrow's ride.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Felasco #6 is in the Bag, Dad!

Well, another San Felasco is in the record books. That makes 6 for those of us who've done this gig since its inception. And just as they've done in the past few years, they hooked us up with an extra 4 miles or so. Oh well, I guess I'd rather it go long than short. At least that's what I say now that I'm at home, and have had a couple of days to recover. Now during that extra few miles, I don't think I was saying anything quite so nice about going long. But maybe I should back up, and begin at the beginning.

Friday was the usual hectic rush to be sure you I had everything I needed for the trip. One last trip to the bank for cash, to the shop to pick up Heed and gels, and somewhere in there I needed to actually get some work done. I watched Wrecking Ball, Micro, and Double D wrestle with an ill fitting receiver hitch rack, from my office window. It was like watching a school of those mythical sea monkeys that you could order from the covers of comic books. They would gesture wildly, point at the offending puzzle pieces, wave their hands over their heads, and each took turns walking away in consternation. At one point I look up and Wrecking Ball and Double are actually hugging. I never did get a clear story on that one! Luckily, Double is relentless when he gets something set in his mind, and he manages to successfully install the rack, load the bikes and gear, AND midshift got to cop a feel on the Wrecking Ball. With that, three of the crewers are underway.

Meanwhile, Lil Ronnie and his sister-in-law, Carlos Santana, are heading north from the nether regions of South Florida. Ron calls to inform me that they are going to ride Santos on the way up, as we are not going to be in Gainesville until around 6pm. Dick!! I'm working, and he's rubbing Santos in my face!

Work became something of a joke. I couldn't concentrate to save my life. I just kept moving the cursor around the screen, making cool clicking sounds with the mouse. Enough is enough! So I clock out and don my costume. Oh wait? You haven't heard about the mandatory costumes, have you? Yeah, it seems that Marko has been taking a beating from the original South Florida gangsta, Lil Ronnie, regarding some 22" rims on Marko's new truck. So Mark issues a mandate(Not that kind of man date, Ron! So calm down!) that you don't get in the truck for the roadtrip without being in some type of gangsta get up! I told him I could do "Honky Vato", but I was not equipped to do "Rap Thug". He was amenable, and we were good to go. Mark, Spanish Mackerel, and I are completely ridiculous looking, when Kent shows up wearing a Slipknot t-shirt, jeans, and some ill fitting truckers cap. Immediately I called him out for slacking. I mean come on, man! We all committed to "Gangsta", and Kent shows looking more like "Perry Gas Station"! Poor bastard. He paid dearly for that error. Mark proceeds to drag us to his house where he makes Kent change into the most ridiculous, primary colored pants I've ever seen. Front to back, each quarter is either bright green, bright yellow, blue, or red. A white t-shirt, an old Salsa cycling cap with the bill turned up, and he's Jazzy Jeff all day long, with no Fresh Prince in sight!

The deal is, costumes on, all night, including dinner! Trust me, Alachua just loved us. I spent the whole night keeping one eye over my shoulder. I kept waiting for some redneck to come over and ponder,"what the hell is my problem?". It was like high school all over again. In the end, no hassles. But I laughed enough that my cheeks were still cramped the next morning. (No Ron, that was not another "man date" reference.)

The next morning came too early. No really, I mean way too early! I was awake by 3:30am, and couldn't get back to sleep. I just lay there, willing the rain to stay away for the day's ride. Finally a few others stirred and it was off to Awful House for waffles and eggs. Suitable grease consumption dealt with, we load up and head out, just as the rain starts.

Every year we roll out together. Anywhere between 10-20 of us at the same time. People just love it when we overtake them. They pull over to be polite, and turn around to realize, "DAMN! There's a whole train of these guys, and that little one won't stop singing!". Separation began earlier than usual this year. Spanish Mackerel was on a new, All Recovery, No Ride, training plan, and it was showing. By the first sag stop, he didn't look so happy. Wrecking Ball, and Miss Myra, rolled from the sag a little early, and I followed soon after. This year, I wanted to try and ride more steadily, with shorter stops. It always seems like the longer I stop, the more my body decides we're through, and starts to stiffen up in preparation for not sliding off the couch the rest of the day. I caught Myra, and Wrecking Ball shortly thereafter. We rode together the majority of the way to the next sag. Carl, Mary Poppins, and Derwood caught us just before the sag, with Marko rolling in right behind us. In keeping with the minimal stop plan, Carl, W.B., Myra, and I jetted before the rest of the crew. Aside from getting run down by Darien and Bobbo again, it was pretty much just us, all the way to lunch.

W.B. was getting concerned with how his legs felt. So he wolfed down some food, grabbed a bunch of Oreos, and headed out. I heard Myra left a little behind him, with Carl in there somewhere. I never saw them again until the parking lot at the end. Hell, I still haven't seen Carl. He was packed up and gone by the time I finished! I was trying to stall for Mark, Kent, Ronnie, Micro, and the rest for our return trip. But each time we decided to roll out, a few more stragglers would roll in, and there would be a renewed need to wait for the newest arrivals to get food before we left. It's all the natural way of things, but when you've been there awhile, you start to get impatient.

The rain had held off all day, except for the hotel parking lot, when we loaded up. The sky just hung there, all dark and threatening. But now at lunch, the thunder starts rumbling through. I keep an eye out for Marko. Too much of this, and he'll run for cover. Game over. Marko does not handle lightning very well! I'm usually nonplussed by it. On the contrary, I kind of like the excitement that Mother Nature can bring. But there is nowhere to hide in the woods of San Felasco. No shelters. And not being locals, we don't know the shortcuts out. Once we leave lunch, we're committed.

I'm talking to Kent when I realize that Mark is gone. Kent tells me "Oh yeah. He left awhile ago. Double D went with him.". That was it. It was time to go. I didn't have the patience to lollygag any longer. I took off solo, and a little ways after the big power line climb, I caught back up to the boys. Unfortunately, I was already thinking the effort wasn't such a good idea. From then on, I had to back off on the long climbs. Double was was patient as long as he could be. For those of you who know Dave, you know it wasn't that long. The next time I slowed down, he didn't. I didn't see him again until the parking lot. That's how it goes after lunch at Felasco. Everybody is best friends at the beginning. But after lunch, the hate fatigue starts to set in, and self preservation becomes more important than camaraderie. You can't take it too personally. Everyone has their pace or rhythm that feels right, and it rarely matches the rhythm of even your best friend. At the 1st sag after lunch, I'm getting some food, when Bushy blows through, going the wrong way, wide open. A bunch of us scream at his back until he gets the picture and turns around to get back on the right trail. Bushy is all alone and motivated by that inner survival rhythm. I tried to catch back up to him, but no go

Luckily for me, Marcus was a little tired from the antics before lunch. Apparently, Bob led a race pace chase to catch my group before the 2nd sag stop. Mark said that took a little of the snap out of his legs after lunch. Honestly, I think he was just looking out for me. Sometime after lunch, the cramps started to rear their ugly heads. Nasty buggers! I tend to cramp in my inner thigh. It feels like the tendon on the inside of the back of the knee attempts to pull my family jewels down to my ankles! Getting off the bike just makes it worse. All I can do is keep pedaling through it, and hope it releases. I'm fine on all the flat or downhill sections, and quite honestly, I'm fine climbing. But that moment where the climb ends and the pressure comes off the legs, I'm crippled. I just focus on turning the pedals over smoothly and Mark urges me on if I slow too much. We pick up Pauly Mc, I think, at the last sag stop. He joins our 1/2 crippled band 'til the finish. He and Mark sit in front of me and chat away, while I ponder how someone has hammered 8 penny nails through the bottom of my left foot when I wasn't looking. I wonder if I can take the shoe off, set it on fire, roast marshmallows over it, and then pedal with one barefoot, all while not getting too dropped by Mark and Paul. Remember that hate fatigue I talked about? Now I really need energy to keep focused, but my body has decided to reject calories of any kind. Drink Heed. Stomach cramps. Eat gel. Stomach cramps. Eat Oreos. Mmmm, Oreos. Stomach cramps. Stupid ass stomach! At the last sag stop it was stomach be damned! You see the last sag stop always has Hershey chocolate nuggets. You know, the good ones with the little bits of toffee in them?!! I did my best to eat my weight in chocolate. I figured that I'd either get the calories I needed to finish, or I'd die of stomach cramps. But I'd die happy! No death, though(as evidenced by this post), just more pedaling.

It may have been slow, but I was rolling. I just kept looking for that last piece of singletrack that circles the parking field. It's actually a fun piece of trail, but today, I'm too blown(Not a man date, Ronnie.)to enjoy it as much as usual. The rain has come and gone. Never too heavy, but heavy enough to make owl snot out of this piece of trail. With Pauly in front of me and Marcus behind me(Not a man date, Ronnie.), we catch up to another of the rolling dead. Paul passes him and so I express to Mark how much I hate Paul. I tried to sit behind this guy, but it was horrible. Granted the trail was slippery as all hell, but DAMN! Steer your bike, fool! Is this the first time you've ever ridden?!! Lay off the brakes, you moron!!! My Mom could ride these corners better than this!!!! Now you're gonna MAKE me PASS you!!! I don't WANT to PASS you! I don't want to pedal any HARDER than I am RIGHT NOW! Remember that hate fatigue? Oh yeah! I've got it bad! I just told him I was passing. I didn't ask. Just told him. I went around, and straight into a big two wheeled drift in the next corner. Do you know how stupid I would have felt if I hadn't been able to get that drift under control? I rode the slip and slide the last few hundred yards, and it was over.

The rest of the crewers dragged in intermittently over the next 45 minutes to an hour. We loaded up and headed for Sonny's to start the refueling and the lying.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock.....

The countdown is on. The work has been done. The recovery was attempted. Tomorrow, all secrets will be revealed. Felasco #6 goes down in the morning, yet much drinking and foolishness goes down tonight. Great plan, huh?!

It will be good to see the boys who live in other parts of the state. That's what it's all about anyway. Roadtrip with the crewers, and may as well do a 50 mile off road ride in the process.

Stay tuned, the stories coming out of this should be good.

I guess I better get back to my obsessive compulsive rituals, in an attempt to leave nothing needed, behind. In the words of Fat Lad, "...helmet, gloves, camelbak, shorts, helmet, gloves, camelbak, shorts, ...."

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Years Day Kickoff

Hopefully everyone had a safe New Year's Eve. Mine was just plain quiet. The Ol' Lady and I acted more than our age, and just chilled at the hacienda. It seems to have been a common story amongst the crewers this year. Maybe there was just something in the air. Who knows? Regardless, my better half is already lobbying for a more eventful plan next year.

New Year's Day would seem like the perfect day to get out and ride. A free day off work in the middle of the week, assuming of course your New Year's Eve revelry wasn't too out of control. However, my bike sat lonely in the corner as I kept up a 4 or 5 year tradition.

Marko and I headed up towards Bainbridge to join in the Hangover Hare Scramble. The local moto club runs this gig every year. It's a good chance to get everyone together for a little friendly competition. This year the event was held at Southern Raceway MX Park. Otherwise known as the Lusk's place. The park has several motocross courses, some flat grass track with big sweeper corners, and they let us add a little singletrack for good measure. The itinerary called for a two man, six lap relay race first, and then a 45 minute, free for all, grudge match, on a longer course, later that afternoon.

Mark and I both had time constraints, so our plan was to show for the relay, and then cut out for family time afternoon. Neither of us had ridden moto for somewhere around 8 months, so I asked him earlier in the week if we should go out an ride the cobwebs off. "Hell no!" he says. So we show up rusty and wondering. We even called ourselves Team Cold Turkey at the sign up. As in, we decided to quit "not riding" moto, cold turkey.

After plenty of arguing, and a questionable coin toss, Marko gets lumped with the start lap. I had no idea how we were doing when he finished that lap. When we made the exchange, I just gave it everything I had. I finished my lap completely jazzed up. Mark took off while I sat there humming like a bug light. All of a sudden my forearms pumped up to about 6 times their normal size! I've dealt with arm pump before, but usually while I'm still riding. I guess the wide open, all or nothing style of this race didn't give them time to warm up very well, and when I stopped, the pump caught up. As soon as I left for my next lap, the problem went away. It came back though, within minutes of finishing that run. What a strange sensation. I felt like I looked like Popeye.

When I finished our last lap, Mark was at the finish, looking over the scorer's shoulder, and it seems we finished 7th overall. Not too bad for guys who have not heard a dirt bike scream in anger for the last 8 months.

Now at this time, we should have taken our exit, but we were pretty elated with our finish, or just high off of race gas fumes. I'm getting ready to load up, when Mark hears the call for the big course parade lap, before the grudge match. So with very little effort I'm convinced to ride the parade lap, for "just a little more" riding. I'm sure you breeders out there know the "just a little more" phrase. "Come on, Mom! Can't I stay up just a little more?" "Dad, can't we keep playing, just a little more?". "Please, Honey, can't you keep rubbing it? Just a little more?" Keep your minds out of the gutter! I was referring to a BACK rub!

Anyway, the parade lap was too fun, so we went back around, "just once more". (very similar to "just a little more") The club guys called us all off the course so the race could get under way. Thinking it was all over I headed for the truck. Mark's already there getting organized to load up. Like any good "bad influence" I hint that maybe we could go line up and do the start and just the first lap of the grudge match. Before I can get "...do the start..." out, Mark is already buckling his helmet, and throwing a leg over his bike. I think this is why my wife thinks Mark and I should not hang out unsupervised. It's just too easy to talk each other into trouble! After lining up and asking where the first turn was, we kill the bikes and wait for the horn. A dead engine start is nerve wrecking. It's deathly quiet, much like a mountain bike race. But when the horn blows, everyone kicks hard and hopes the beast come to life with just one kick. You have to pay attention to the vibration of your bike to know if it fired off, because you damn sure won't hear it in the cacauphonous, metallic maelstrom that ensues! 30+ screaming two strokes and roaring four strokes all aiming to occupy the same 10' space around the first corner. When I arrive at the corner, I look up and Marko has managed a holeshot, with me sitting about 4 or 5 riders back. What the hell are we doing?! Running, that's what!! I rode as hard as I could just trying not to get run over by guys with way more talent, experience, and/or foolishness than I possess. What a blast!

True to my word, I pulled over just before I finished the first lap. At the truck, Mark pulled up just after me, and his helmet looked a little snug, trying to contain the grin on his face. It sucked to have to leave when we did, but I could already feel fatigue setting in, and moto is just not a good idea when you're beat. You get tired on mountain bike, you slow down. You get tired on a dirt bike, and things happen too fast. Slowing down may not be an option, and it takes strength to wrestle that big bike around.

Aside from the 1.5-2 hour clean up required to remove all of the Georgia clay from my bike and gear, it was a damn good time. As usual, I wonder why I let so much time pass between motos. But for now, I've got to get back to pedaling. Felasco is looming large on the horizon, and while I've not been as slack as some of the crew with my preparations, I still don't feel 100%. Alas, the dirt bike will sit dormant for another couple of weeks, at least.