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


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?


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?