Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inspired by Friends


Last night, I rode Munson for the millionth time this month.

I was on a completely different page than my riding buddies.
The lack of synchronicity was stressful.

The sweat dripping from my helmet was rancid, both in smell and taste.

When I was finally alone in the woods, I noticed the sky was the most beautiful, mottled, black and orange.

I wiped my face, and the woods smelled like Christmas.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thomaston Race Revisited

I got an email from the promoters of the Camp Thunderbolt Race, in Thomaston, GA. They sent a link to pictures from this years event, and they simply must be shared!

Apparently yours truly got hungry mid race, and decided to run down a tasty junior!



This must be when the poor fella realized he was on the menu.



We all know Phil's reputation as a playa, so I guess the photographer was kind of cute. Clearly he was swooping in for a little smooch.



I can't decide if he had some luck with the first kiss attempt, and was coming back for a little tongue, or he was just showing his war face to intimidate the poor girl into submission.



Regardless, by the last trip through, it looks like he was just ready to be finished.



I can understand that, because I look pretty done, too!



Even Ricky Silk looked human!




If you guys want to see this race included as part of the GA State Series, send an email to info@goneriding.com, and let 'em know what you think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Watching the Passage of Time


It's a gray, foggy day, as the remnants of Ida finish their tour of the Tallahassee area. I get to work, look out my window, and see two large mechanical dinosaurs begin the destruction of another landmark of my history. This landmark is not terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but I have my attachments. They're tearing down the old Kmart building on Thomasville Road.

For those of you much younger than I, it was most recently an Albertson's grocery store, but all my memories are of the big red K. I remember my brothers and I saving our yard raking money to buy Stomper 4x4's and Dukes of Hazard model cars. The General Lee never quite looked like it did on TV, or the box cover for that matter, when I was done with it. When I was old enough to recognize that girls were not yucky, I bought my first cheesecake poster. I remember my brothers being mortified that I'd waste my $4 on a paper thing that hung on the wall, instead of another AA battery operated device of delight. This particular Kmart even had the auto service center. I'd sit outside with my Granddad and eat stale Kmart popcorn, while they installed a new set of tires on the Grand Torino or the El Camino.

My Granddad's house is gone now. It too fell victim to progress. When I would get sick in school, as a kid, my Mom would take me to Wendy's for lunch, and drop me off with my Grandparents, until she finished work. The day they tore down my Granddad's house was tough. I went to Wendy's for my dinner, and sat in his old yard and looked at all the rubble. The smell of 50+ years of his family life, the smell of holidays and family time, permeated the entire lot. I knew the smell would be gone the next day, so I sat in the yard, ate my burger, and enjoyed my memories.

I know the passage of time is irrefutable, and I look forward to the supposed Publix Greenwise that is taking over this real estate. But, it is still tough to watch the demolition of yet another of my childhood icons.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Another Beautiful Disaster


All road trips begin with a fair amount of distress for me, where I roam laps around the house, looking around for things I may need, not yet stuffed into the proper travel bags. This time it followed a bit of a stressful morning where I coaxed Spanish Mackerel and Wrecking Ball's bikes into compliance, and spending a modicum of time readying my own mount. Bolts tightened, derailleurs adjusted, brakes bled, and an A/C unit serviced, not by me, but by the technician I met down in Crawfordville, things look like they are coming together. I pack two bags, and feel good about the start. My wife and I had a nice Friday evening together before I was to be gone for the weekend. She even got up Saturday morning and hooked me up with a stellar breakfast burrito. My girl is one of the good ones, No doubt. She rattles off a list of items she's heard me forget in the past 20 years, and all were accounted for and packed. One last kiss, and I'm out the door.

We wrapped all of our gear bags in garbage bags, as the weather is being slightly less than cooperative. Rain chances for the Macon area were changing hourly for the two days prior. Last minute I even throw in a clip on rear fender. We head for Thomaston's Camp Thunder, the site of the most grueling XC race I've ever participated in. The rain starts falling about an hour out from the trail, but it's mostly spitting rain, nothing too heavy.

We arrive on site, and the rain has diminished to more of a mist. The road along the river is holding quite a bit of water, but the truth is, all the rain that has fallen on that side of the ridge is heading for the river, so the wet road is to be expected. I lead out the first big climb. Everyone has thoughts of cleaning this beast, but wet roots and switchbacks this steep don't mix well. I blow the 1st, and actually hardest, switchback and settle in for the best I can do, the pressure of perfection having already been lost. The competitive side of me was happy to see nobody else cleaned that 1st one either. The "I'm my brother's keeper" side, was disappointed to see their hopes dashed, too. I let Big Jim and Mackerel go around on a switchback and passed Mackerel back when he flopped over one switchback later. It went like this all the way to the top. We swapped places a few times as we overheated and stopped to peel clothes or fogged glasses. Aside from two dabs, I rode the entire climb. Not bad for a clydesdale and a quarter. After this we bombed the new downhill that was cut in for the last race. This thing is even scarier in the rainy weather. Everything is just that much more slippery, and that hill creates instant speed beyond the trails capabilities. I know, maybe it's my capabilities that should be in question, right? Go ride it. You'll see what I'm talking about.

At the marshy bottom, you begin a wet mattress climb that equals the first in length and difficulty, without the technical features. I'm immediately back in the granny gear, and as I finally shifted into that last big cog in the back, I heard a funny snap noise. I just assumed I'd gotten a twig in my spokes, but a little further up, the trail levels slightly, and I shifted to a bigger gear. No reaction from the drivetrain. I shifted another gear, and still nothing. Oh well. This hurts too bad to stop now, so I continue the climb. It sucks not being able to get bigger gears when I want them, but at least I'm stuck in a functional ratio. On the way up, I had plenty of time to ponder this annoyance. My one worry was a snapped return spring. I hoped for a stick crammed somewhere it shouldn't be. At the top, my fears were confirmed. The return spring had indeed broken, so I had only the big cog and my three front chainrings.

Honestly, I was thankful the problem was not worse. I could have snapped a cable, and been stuck in way too big of a gear. With my limited three speed, I could no longer go all that fast on the flats. Downhill was fine. Just turn the brakes loose, and let gravity and experience do the work. Uphill was doable, as long as I settled in and accepted that my max speed in my climbing gear was about 2 mph.

With only one minor "lost" moment, we finished out the loop with tired looks of satisfaction all around. This trail is tough. Old school tough. But, it's still one of my favorite systems in the southeast. I relish the difficulty of those types of climbs and am rewarded with fast long, difficult descents.

From here, the clock was ticking to find a replacement derailleur before all of the middle GA bike shops closed for the weekend. Apparently, no shops in Macon stock Sram parts. What the hell? These are found on a ton of bikes. Is the economy causing shops to reduce overhead in the form of inventory. This is a dangerous gamble. In this day and age of mail order and internet ordering, anybody can get anything faster and cheaper than a shop can. Without parts on site, you lose the impulse buyer, and the guys like me who are just plain in need. A guy down in Warner Robbins had a derailleur that would work, though not one I really wanted. He was super cool, and agreed to stay late so I could come get it. Within seconds of getting on I-475 south, one of the Macon shops called us back. A shop employee had a used unit, in the model that I really wanted anyway, that he was willing to part with. Another call to thank the Warner Robbins guy for trying to help, but tell him he could go ahead and head home to his family, and we were in mid u-turn.

That night, bike repaired, and a belly full of entirely too much Mexican food, I marveled at the fact that the minor crisis had not dampened my spirits. All I could think about was the trails we would be riding the next day.

Morning came early by default. Despite the Daylight Savings time change, my body is still programmed. I was wide awake at 5:30, now 4:30. I managed to doze off again for another hour, but that was all I could coax. I threw in the towel and headed to breakfast. I walked out to be greeted by blue skies and 46 degree weather. Stoked does not do my mood justice. I love fall weather.

At Dauset, everyone suits up, and I decided to use that fender, since this trail is prone to holding a little more water than Camp Thunder. Sure enough, the trail is slick, but in a fun way. Corners were an adventure, and I settled into seeing how far I could push my luck and pull it off. We stopped to make multiple attempts at sections not cleaned first try, and stopped to allow photo sessions for those so inclined. This vacation style of riding is quite enjoyable, I must say. It reminds me more of our early days of mountain biking, where we would dare each other to try things until our skills progressed to a point where it was just expected that we ride everything. This was refreshing. Sections that were normally a given became quite a bit more of an exercise in patience and control. Too fun!

About 45 minutes into this ride, I got taken out by GA black ice, style mud, all hidden beneath the pretty fall foliage that had fallen in yesterdays weather. In a complete flook of luck, I missed my first attempt at catching myself before I landed on a pile of logs next to the trail. My second attempt, being substantially more desperate, and equally less coordinated, I landed entirely too much weight on the nose of my saddle, and snapped both seat rails right in front of the seat clamp! I looked down in horror, and could not believe my bad luck. Two mechanicals in two days of an out of town trip, and neither of them in any way predictable or preventable. I rigged the seat as best I could, and rolled out to lead the remainder of the ride. It was working fine until I went down again. This round completely broke the plastic frame of the saddle, so now seated riding was like sitting on a padded baseball bat tip. Less than stellar, I assure you.

I lead the boys to a point of reference, where I knew that tougher trail began, and certainly more than I wanted to tackle with a failing bike. I handed over the map, showed them where they were and where they wanted to go, and split from the group. That was bitter sweet. I was bummed to not be riding with the guys, but no longer stressed about keeping up with a broken bike. I still thoroughly enjoyed the remainder of the trail that I did get to ride, en route to the truck. After all, there were still Dunkin Donuts leftovers in that truck!

I took full notice of the fact that I was still extremely happy with the trip. Something is going on in my head these days. It was good to see that my spirit was not to be broken like my derailleur and saddle. Despite the expensive tally of broken bike parts, the more important experience aspects of the trip reigned supreme, and I, for one, am thankful for yet another beautiful disaster.

When the boys arrived, Wrecking Ball looked like he was toast. Apparently the last few miles found a bonk he wasn't so much looking to find. Mackerel looked like his usual playful puppy self. He always looks like he just got into something he shouldn't have. Big Jim was all smiles, mostly I think, about Wrecking Ball's distress. I was bummed to have missed out on that small chapter, but glad I was there to see the final page.

Traveling with friends always leads to more stories and experiences that outweigh the cost of doing business. All the way home, we broke down previously held assumptions about each other, as we required each in turn to play the most embarrassing songs on their ipods through the truck's system. Wow! It's funny what you can learn about someone in their musical selections. I have a sneaking suspicion that playlists may be padded with embarrassing material for the next trip. Even in embarrassing ourselves, we're competitive, or maybe just a little off balance. I'll have to get back with you on that.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Captionator #3

Let me kick this off:

Human Wrecking Ball warms up furiously, for the FSCS #4 race, that he's definitely not doing.

Kent and Marcus argue over next year's Bikechain kit.

Big Jim Slade and Neil decide to settle it once and for all with a "Dance Off, Pants Off" special edition.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This Should Change Your Perspective...Well Maybe One of Them, Anyway

This is complete madness!! I thought Shin's Cadillac Time Trial on a slick tired fixie was ridiculous enough, but damn!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Burning Frustration


I've been riding for just shy of 20 years, and you'd think I'd be immune to such foolish blunders. I guess not.

The rain and family responsibilities have stymied a lot of my riding lately. Mrs. 'Worm had a ton of homework for tonight, so I decided to go ride, so I wouldn't distract her. I have not ridden since Sunday, so I'm amped. Plans are made, gear is loaded, and all is good, except it started raining cats and dogs at lunch time.

I watched in frustration as my bike got soaked in the back of the truck. Oh well, it's early, and the scattered showers of our area may well clear by evening. Again, all is well. My bike has finally dried. And at 5pm, the bottom drops again. You've got to be kidding me! I check the radar, and it's still clear down south. Plans are revamped to meet at Munson. That place should be stellar with all the rain, and even if it's still raining, it will be fun!

Sure enough, as I get farther south after work, the roads dry out, and the sky looks a little more clear. I show up, check out Little Ball's new ride, joke about the glue smell in my truck from a just replaced windshield, and proceed to get dressed. Oh man, I can't wait to pedal away some aggravation. All set except for air in my tires and my shoes. Houston, we have a problem. Where are my F@#king shoes?! 20 years, and still capable of the stupidest of mistakes! Pack up and drive the 10 miles through rush hour traffic home. It's getting dark quickly, due the overcast skies, and the rain is more concentrated up north, near home. No ride tonight.

So be it, it is what it is, and all that. I'll tell you what it is! It's damned frustrating! That's what it is!

Monday, September 7, 2009

One Day or Series?


A couple of weeks back, Silk and I had an animated debate over the method in which the Florida State Champion is selected. Ever since, I've felt I'd air this debate over the interwebs, so we could hear a few more viewpoints. Speak up if you have an opinion. There is no wrong answer. This is no Bigworm versus Ricky Silk tug of war. Everybody knows I have the utmost respect for that guy. We just have a difference of opinion, and I wonder how others feel on the subject. Besides, reader participation is always more interesting to me.

So it goes like this; currently, our state champion is selected based on series of races in which points are awarded for your placing at each race. At the end of the series, high score wins. Aside from a few curve balls like dropped races, make up races, and bonus point time trials, it's a pretty straight forward system. The National Champion, and many other state's champions are selected by a one race, winner take all, format.

In a nutshell, Silk is a fan of the one day format, while I argue that the series system is more indicative of a champion. I'll lay out my arguments below, and hopefully, I can get Silk to write his here. I can remember a few of his points, but I don't wish to short change his view on the matter.

Ever since I started racing, I always had more respect for the NORBA National Championship Series, or Grundig World Cup, winners, as opposed to the one day National and World Champions. I always felt that the one day guys were lurkers, biding there time while the series guys worked to balance an entire season, on a myriad of courses, in varying weather elements. One day guys were good that day, and that's the only time they had to be good. I don't mean to imply that it's easy to be THAT good on the prescribed day, but it seems a lot easier than trying to master the whole season. Usually, the one day wonders were in the top 20 of the series races anyway, but still, do you really want a guy who consistently finishes 18th, to be your top of the pyramid guy?

Specifically, the Florida Series was the basis for our debate. My same idealistic theories apply locally. However, it really is tough to stick it out in Florida. We race almost year 'round. If you race on the road, too, you start in February, and the Florida State Championship Series ends in December. It's just not realistic to stay competitively fast that long. So you have to focus on something. If you want to be Florida State Champion, you do the F.S.C. Series.

This series runs September to December. Again, its a long time, and I promise you that the travel will wear on you. But isn't that just part of it? I mean, should we really make it easier to say that you're the State Champ. That sounds a little like lowest common denominator stuff to me; dumbing down the process, so to speak. If they wish to wear the mantle as State Champion, I want to see how they do all over the state, against as many competitors as possible. I'll be impressed if you won the race at XYZ course, against whomever showed up that day, but Championship status? I need to be more impressed than that.

I don't think the series system is fool proof. We've had several series winners, who were not necessarily the fastest guys around(Your's truly can attest to that first hand). The faster guys may have burned out, and been unwilling to complete the series. They may have had injury. Again, I feel this is a good thing. If you wish to be king for a year, show me you can hold up under pressure for 4 months, at least. Mountain bike racing was born, and relied heavily on self sufficiency. You had to be able to take care of yourself in the back country. Racers often rode with spare derailleurs in their packs, just in case. Self sufficiency is going the way of the dinosaur in world and national level races, but is still intact at the local level. Surviving a series is simply a big picture version of surviving a single race. If you want to be the Big Dawg, respect your roots and succeed in the big picture.

Now, I know we have an opinionated following around here, so let's have it. Back me up, or expose the flaws, either way, just participate. Make sure you check in with Silk. At the very least, maybe this will get he and I 3 more viewers this month.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Captionator Round II


Man! I really wonder who's getting thrown under the bus this time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Where There's Rain, Beware of Thunder!


Thor slammed his mighty hammer, Mjolnir, on the hopes and dreams of all those flyweights, who should have won that uphill sprint finish today. Let's hear it for the big men who still keep the tiny mites on their toes, in this sport of the slight.

Rains


This relentless, summertime rain has dampened my riding exploits. In a way, it's a good thing. We need the rain, and it gave me a little more forced rest. I'm tired from the riding, traveling, and the curve balls that life sends over the corner of the plate. It has been nice to let the rainy days wash away some of the stress.


Now I'm getting antsy, though. I'm gone so much on the weekends, I have not done any of the longer Tallahassee loops in a while. I'd like to get out and ride the vineyard loop on my mountain bike. No record setting pace or anything, I just want to turn the pedals, revisit some old scenery, and sweat. No point in fighting that last one. North Florida humidity is legendary, and we're in the thick of it. May as well embrace it.


Tour viewing has lit my road bike fire, too. I see a Bikechain team time trial around the Food Lion loop in our near future. Maybe we'll make the Joe's ride tonight. It's my favorite weekday ride, and I've missed it too many times due to family issues and rain. Anybody down for rain or shine tonight?


Anybody interested in a big mountain bike ride, or two, this weekend. if we roll early, we should beat the weather.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Captionator


This pic was sent to me with a joke already attached. Since I hang out with a bunch of wise asses, let's see what you can come up with on your own. Let the captioning begin. Your prize will be a big fat plate of wet grass from the neighbor's freshly mowed yard, so please don't expect anything special if you're the funniest. Just revel in your awe inspiring ability to carry the funny stick. Just be sure it never touches the ground, otherwise you bring bad luck on the entire squad.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Easy Bake Oven


I said in my last post that the Dauset course suited my strengths, and that I hoped to do well. What I should have said was, "Stay tuned for tales of Bigworm's tour of Dauset's Outdoor Easy Bake Oven!".

Notice the bright shiny exterior with large, easy to read control knobs.

As usual, I was having a blast preriding the course. The familiar lines were there, as a large part of the course was run in my preferred direction. It was a little dry, but certainly not out of control dusty. I drank a ton of water on the way up, and more during my ride, and still more afterwards and into the night. This little heat wave of ours is pervasive, and I didn't want to blow it.

This year's easy bake oven is the easiest to operate, yet.

Come race morning, I lined up and noticed just two other guys on the line with me. One of which I beat at Yargo, earlier this year. The other was my buddy Junkman, who dropped me as I imploded on the 2nd lap at Yargo. I couldn't wait for the rematch. I was completely blasted going into Yargo, so I knew I had a better chance against him this time.

Just combine all of the easy to find ingredients, per your recipes directions, set the timer and temp, and you're all set.

The whistle blew, and I made a quick decision to lead this one out. I usually sit in and stick to my plan, but my excitement at a true shot at the top step, sent me on a New Plan. I wanted to be able to flow the singletrack at my pace, so I grabbed the hole shot, and started to settle in. On the downhills, the gap would open. On the climbs I would try to chill a little, and they would come back. I went too easy at BUMP, so I decided to push a little this time. I wanted to be alone, so I could relax.

Keep an eye on your cooking, to be sure all is going well. Smell that tasty goodness, as your Easy Bake Oven does all the work for you! Peek through the Easy View Window, to see your treats turn a delectable golden brown!


About halfway through the lap, Krystal(A guy in my class is riding for Team Krystal Burger. A clydesdale. Quite apropos, huh.) asks how I'm doing. Now I've spent this whole race so far, trying to figure out how to unload these guys, without blowing sky high. I've been running a little harder than I should, but if I can just break their resolve... Now how broken is this guy asking if I'm alright. I let him by, and he assures me he's not going any harder, just get on his wheel. Yeah, you can imagine my surprise when that didn't work out. I kept telling myself that the last time we raced, he cracked and I caught him, so just keep it steady, and hopefully history will repeat itself.

Please don't allow children to use the Easy Bake Oven unsupervised. Items left in the Easy bake Oven for too long could cause a fire hazard.

Now it's just me and Junkman. He's slowly gaining, as I try to keep my pace under control. No sweat, well, actually a lot of sweat. It was hot out there. At the exit of the Huff-n-Puff section of the trail, the promoter has provided a couple of guys with coolers to pour cold water on your back. That water was welcome, but freezing! Eventually, Junkman passes me on a downhill. This worries me a little. Like I mentioned in the Yargo post, he's got skill, so I don't want to let him get away. I sit on his wheel, and we carried on a conversation, while I secretly plotted my 2nd lap tactics. Did I tell you it was hot out here. Somewhere in the last couple of miles of that lap, Junkman got a small gap. How the hell did that happen?

Seriously folks, we here at Dauset's Easy Bake Oven are deadly serious about keeping children and idiots from using the Easy Bake Oven unsupervised. Otherwise there will be a big ass fire, and all your culinary hopes and dreams will go up in smoke.

As Junkman and I started the last lap, he had about 10 seconds on me, but by the time we got a mile in, I'm pretty sure he had over a minute. The heat became suffocating. About ten minutes later, I took a sip from my bottle, and downed nearly half the bottle easily. Oh oh, that's not a good sign. When you can drink half of a 24 ounce bottle in one gulp, and still feel parched, the damage is done! I began to worry about having enough water to finish the last 6 miles. I just hoped that the water dousers at Huff-n-Puff were still there. My water bottle had been completely dry for 10 minutes by the time I reached the piece of trail where they had been earlier. Nobody was in sight, though. I was stoked to see the cooler was still there! I opened the 1st, and there was 3 bags of ice and a little water in the bottom. I hoisted the cooler to the table and let the trickle fill my bottle. I went to another cooler, and there was about 2 inches of ice and water in the bottom. I grabbed a cup off the ground, cleaned it on my jersey, and scooped and drank until the freezing temps were cramping my throat and stomach. Oh well, my race is over, but I am riding Dauset. I've got a full bottle so let's just finish this out. All power was gone. I rode slowly, but I rode. The heat was just out of control. My internal temps were through the roof. At least the fresh water had gotten rid of the chill bumps that had covered most of my body earlier.

We warned you there would be a fire. All warranty claims must be filed in triplicate with our service department and attorney's office. Expect a reply within 1-2 years.

I blew it. Derwood and Big Jim Slade were about a 1/4 mile from the finish on the trail, walking back to look for me. I was glad to see them, and trust me, they had jokes! I lost nearly 20 minutes on that 2nd lap, all because I had to push too hard. In that heat, I should have backed it down a notch, not pushed it up a notch. The carrot of the W was just too much for my weak ass willpower. So be it. I'm 39 and still learning my lessons.

I was sad to hear that Mingo didn't enjoy the trail. I have not taken anyone there yet, that didn't like it. I guess it just didn't fit his style. Or, maybe he just had a rough day. Son of Mingo did his 1st Big Guy race. He's 10 with a racing age of 11, so he did the 11-14 juniors race. That meant a full lap of the 9 mile course. No kiddie loop this time. I talked to him before the race, and he was nervous. I asked what worried him the most, and he just shrugged. I know what he means. I've done a million of these, and I still get so anxious before the start. Once the whistle sounds, it all blows away, and you get to work. But the anticipation, that's the killer. He finished the race, and he says he was glad to not be last. I heard his Mom was a nervous wreck, as Mom's tend to be when their offspring jump to the next level. He said he didn't want to ever do that again, and he may stick by that claim. Either way, it was a big accomplishment, and I hope he hangs on to that, more than the hurt and fear.

What a trip. We had a great time hanging with all the family members who made the journey this time. Usually it's just the guys who are racing. This trip we had Mingo's entire family, Derwood's family, my Better Half, and my little brother. Everyone seemed to be smiling alot, so I guess I wasn't the only one enjoying the vibe. I even saw a big grin on Big Jim Slade's mug. Honey, Greatness is Home!



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Light and Dark


After Bump-n-Grind, I kind of floated on a wave of disappointment, more like post partem depression.

There was so much hype and build up, as we got ready for this race. Marcus was trying to make a serious shot at his move up to expert. The first couple of races produced doubt in his mind. Truth be told, he did really well, it's just tough when you've been competitive in Sport for so long. Unfortunately, the fickle hand of fate dealt him an evil series of blows that culminated with him backing out of the trip the night before we left. It had to be frustrating to put in all those months of work, and not even get to participate in the race the whole season was planned around.

The trip was still fun. The ride up had everyone in tears, as did the trip home, but maybe for slightly different reasons. We had a huge crew riding together again, on Saturday. The trail was in great shape, but I do think the downhill after Blood Rock is getting rougher every year. I'm riding a 5" travel bike, and I swear it beats me up, now, more than when I rode hardtails here, years ago. Maybe I'm just going faster, and the smoother ride is negated. Maybe it's just getting rockier.

My preride went well. I felt great, and for the 1st time ever, I didn't go too hard on Saturday. The race rolled around, and all was good. I started in the middle of the group. I was in sight of the leaders, but rolling more my own pace. I kept a close eye on my heart rate numbers, so I didn't let the adrenaline kick me into overdrive too soon. That's really become a big deal as I've gotten older. About 4 miles in, I had the dreadful feeling that my rear tire was low. A second or two later, I felt the rim bottom out on a rock, and my worst fears were confirmed. I stopped at the beginning of the road to the climb, pulled my wheel, pulled out my flat gear, and made a snap decision to give it a shot of co2 and roll. I was down to about 20psi, but it had been that way for 10 minutes. Maybe the Stan's sealant would seal the problem, and I wouldn't need a full fledged tube install.

The increased tire pressure felt great. It felt like I was flying again. The climb gave me less trouble that it ever has. Ice Berg passed me right before the top, and JC caught me just as we crested. I went straight to the big ring, to carry some steam over the next few rollers. In past years, I wasn't even close to rolling the big gear, I would be so blown from going way too hard by now. JC and I caught Berg on top of the 1st roller. I asked if he was alright, and he almost puked a gel all over me. Apparently he REALLY doesn't like that flavor. We started to roll out, and I felt the rim bottom again. DAMN, this is so frustrating. I stopped and gassed it again, and struck out on a wing and a prayer. She held pretty well until about the last 3 miles. By then, I was really protecting the back wheel. I couldn't corner very hard, or the tire would try to roll off the rim. Don caught me in the last few miles, and I tried to ride with him, but the bike just wouldn't cooperate. My finish time was less than stellar.

I'm happy about the fact that I stuck to my plan for maintaining a reasonable effort at the beginning. I felt great on the climb, for the 1st time ever. I rode the majority of the singletrack after the descent off of Blood Rock in the big ring. In the past, I'd hit those rollers and wind up in the granny gear, fighting off cramps. None of that this year. Despite these positives, I feel like it was a missed opportunity. Looking at my numbers later, I realized my average HR was 155. It should have been closer to 161-163. I think that going slow, trying to protect my back wheel, for so much of the course, kept me from achieving my potential. I feel let down. Like I let myself down? Not sure. Like fate was dicking with me. Maybe. Either way, it was very anticlimactic.

After returning home, I just didn't really want to talk about it, and I have not had much else to say, so it's been nothing but crickets around here. I decided to skip the Farmington, GA race, so I could get a little done around the house. Dauset is this weekend. I know, it's Father's Day, but the Ol' Man's got other responsibilities on Sunday, so we're taking him to breakfast Saturday, and leaving for the race around lunch time. My little brother has been wanting to go see one of these races, so he's coming up this weekend, as is Mrs. Worm. I'm really looking forward to it. I like it when my wife comes to the races. A few of the other guys are bringing spouses, so they'll have each other to talk to, while we race. I love this course, the climbs are tough, but nothing as sustained as Birmingham or Thomaston. Plenty of fast flowing singletrack, with just enough rock thrown in to keep you on your toes. It's honestly the course that most caters to my strengths, of the entire GA series. Hopefully there is still enough juice in the tank, left over from that infernal Plan that trained me to perfectly protect a flat tire while maintaining a low HR.

Around home, things are always the same, but a few things are bubbling up here and there. I rode with Juancho and Cupcake at Munson. That was a blast. It really is nice to see some other faces, and mix up the your riding crew vocabulary. I'm a little worried abut my buddy, Wrecking Ball. He really does seem to be having a hard time with his physicalities. He rides with us, and rides way stronger than he has any right to. Yet, he feels like he's crawling. I don't know how much pain he has after the ride, but if his depression is based on his performance during the ride, he's got nothing to be worried about. But when you get home, the endorphins wear off, and things start to ache. If that's the problem, that's a little tougher. Regardless, I think the crew just needs to try to hang out without the bikes a little. That would help the injured avoid some of the left out feeling. We've all been on the injured/reserve list, and it does get a little lonely, when the only time you see your friends, is on the bike. Hell, during Marcus' longest bout with the broken body, he was driven to take up RC cars, and we just can't let that sort of thing happen again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First, Last, and Everything


This past weekend, Big Jim Slade, Derwood, Silk, and I made the journey to Thomaston for the Thunderbolt Classic. Even Little Bro' Phil made the trip down from the ATL.


This was a trip back in time. Thomaston had long been my favorite mountain bike race in the Southeast. She offers up heavy duty old school mountain biking. Raw, as Silk put it. The trails are a far cry from the IMBA handbook. There were fall line trails, both up and down, and trails that followed the topo lines, but were never bench cut, so you are constantly off camber. Add in plenty of rocks and you're good to go.


The promoters decided we needed a little extra this year, so they added in new trail, to connect two more hard climbs per lap. The website claims 2100 feet of altitude gain per lap. Now, I'm from FL, so I have a very minimal grasp of what it means to climb "X" number of feet. For us, we go uphill and we go downhill, but there is never enough of either to bother calling out numeric values. I know that at 8,000 feet, I get a headache on the 2nd day. I know that at 10,000 feet, if I stand up to fast, I'll sit back down even faster, whether I want to or not. But knowing I was going to climb 2100 feet per lap, it just didn't register what I was in for. I've raced Camp Thunder many times and the last couple were two lap races, so I went in confident. Nevermind that it has been 10+ years since they last raced there.


We arrive on Saturday and looking around, the rider count is sparce. The promoters broke tradition and ran the beginners and juniors on Saturday. i only saw about 15 or so people line up for the beginner starts. This is not a good sign. We register, grab our campsite, and head out for the preride. The course is marked for the beginners, so we get some sketchy directions from an official, and head out to see how the course looks. This trail follows the Flint River for about a half mile, and then turns to singletrack. Immediately she goes up. It's nothing but switchbacks for the next mile. This climb always takes me about 15 minutes. It's just me, the granny gear, and my inner demons. The fast guys check out, and Jim, Phil and I are at the top together. We try to find the sport/expert course based on verbal instructions, but somehow we blow it. We just finished the 2nd long climb, when Darien and Silk catch up to us and inform us that we missed a long sketchy downhill, with and equally long climb back out. This does not bode well. Oh, well, I'm not going back to see what I missed. I can't keep my heartrate down on these climbs anyway, and I don't want to blow myself apart on a preride. I'll deal with it race day. We finish the preride in about 1 1/2 hours. This race is promising to be much longer that typical XC races.


That night, at dinner, my legs feel toasted. I decide that the race will consist of survival for me. I'm way more concerned about finishing than I am about going fast. I have not felt that in a while. We stay up exchanging old stories around the campsite. The first race we ever took Phil to, as a 14 year old junior, was Thunderbolt. I remember his Mom giving me a mimeographed list of things to watch for, and what to do in case his diabetes gave him trouble. I almost had a heart attack worrying about him. At that race, I forgot my shoes, so I did the preride in Doc Martens on my clipless pedals(A friend brought my shoes up that night.). Even without my shoes, I was waiting for Phil at the tops of all the climbs. It's just not like that anymore. So racing at this venue, with Phil back on a mountain bike, brought back a lot of memories. Even though it was a little warmer than ideal, we had blast hanging out, and catching up.


Race day rolled around, and thankfully, a few more people showed up. It was still a small turnout. Probably around 20 experts and 20-25 sport riders showed up, total. The starts were rolled together, with all the experts starting at 9:30ish, and all of us sport folk starting at 10. I settled in towards the back, determined not to blow on the 1st climb. As soon as we hit the climb, I see Big Jim, two riders up from me, crash in the 1st switchback. Poor bastard. I start telling him to calm down, get on his bike, and take his time getting rolling. I want him in front of me, so I don't hold him up, and I'm trying top make him understand that there is a large gap behind me, so he has plenty of time. He gets going, and promptly drops me. Good enough. Only, two switchbacks later, he's off his bike, standing there as I climb by. I'm not sure what's going on with him, but I'm already hurting too much to worry about it right now. About 2/3's of the climb is done, but my HR is through the roof and climbing. I finally bail off my bike so that I can get it under control. Climbs this long don't forgive oversized efforts, and I can't afford to blow on the 1st climb, when there are three more just as hard on this lap, and a 2nd lap is still in the cards!


After I get going again, I start a game with myself. I decide I have to clean every climb on the course at least once. I guess it worked, because I suffered up all the remaining climbs that lap, but I made them. Regardless, my 1st lap took 1:31, so I was starting to worry about finishing. My arms were shot, Everytime we hit a big downhill, they were so rough that my triceps and calves quaked. I honestly wondered if I would have to DNF because of upper body failure. That would be a first. Here's the catch. I was the only clydesdale in the race. How can I drop out, when I'm the only guy there?! I could just here the questions when I got back home.


How was your race? Did you win?


No.


Who did?


Nobody, I was the only guy there and I quit.


I just couldn't go out like that. So I start my 2nd/last lap and want to clean that 1st climb, since I blew it on the 1st lap. I groove the 1st switchback, and my hamstring promptly starts to cramp. Dammit!!!! I jump off my bike and walk it off before it gets bad. Again, this is the first of many climbs, and I can't afford to come apart completely. Disappointed that I won't clean this one, I remount and ride the next 1/2 mile of switchbacks, I get happy with the idea that I'll make the remainder, and that lack of focus was all it took. I hit a rock, my front wheel wandered over into tree, and I was off and walking again.


The rest of the race was pure, unadulterated torture. My entire body was wasted. My back hurt, my legs hurt, my glutes hurt, my arms hurt, my neck hurt. All I wanted to do was get this beast done. I rode along a small creek, and pondered lying in it to feel the cool water wash away my insanity. Fortunately for me, she was a little too shallow, or I would have tried. I promised myself that as soon as I finished, I'd go lay in the river. Every time the hurt got too heavy, I'd imagine that cold water washing away all the grime and sweat.


I rode as much of everything as I could. My granny gear and I got intimate. I measure progress in inches and feet. I dreaded the downhills for fear my triceps or calves would cramp. I stressed my hamstrings cramping at the base of every climb. Eventually it all started to run together. Just hurt a little longer, and it will end. The river's waiting.


On one of the longer new climbs that were added for this race, Phil finally caught up to me. He was on his third lap, and was tired. I can't tell you how stoked I was to see him still out there, and I told him so. He said he thought long and hard about quitting, but knew that if I was still out there, he might get a beating back at the campsite. How true, how true! We talked for a few more moments, and he rode off after another tired expert just in front of us. I saw him riding the downhill with his buddy, as I finished the climb. If only I'd been a little stronger, so he'd caught me nearer the top, I could've ridden that piece of trail with them. That would've been good.


At the top of the last climb, a feeling crept over me. The end was near. I'd wanted to stay under 2:45 for the race, but that had already passed, but I finally knew it was all good, though. I flew the last downhill at mach 6, and headed straight through the start/finish, to the river. Cold redemption awaited.


I was so demoralized during that race, that I was going to sell all my bikes. Then I was keeping them, but only racing flat courses like Fernandina Beach or Jacksonville. Maybe I should just get panniers and flags, and start doing centuries, I thought. Whatever! Not a chance! I may suck at these big climbing races, but I felt like I accomplished something. This course had one climb similar to the main climb at Bump & Grind. Then it had three more that were harder...every lap. B&G has always been tough for me, because of the climb. This year, I'm not so much worried. I'd much rather do two laps of B&G over two laps at this beast, so my one lap race won't seem near as hard as years past. Thomaston tore me down, mentally and physically, but we come through the other side stronger than ever. At least mentally, I feel ready for Bump & Grind, this year. In fact, I can hardly wait. I just hope the body backs me up.


By the way, Silk managed another 2nd behind controversial Andy J.. Darien finished 2nd in singlespeed. How he did two laps on a rigid bike with no gears, I don't understand. Big Jim is working through some demons, but I'm sure that as soon as he hashes it all out, he'll see he's going to be fine. Phil suffered the same fate as me. Being the only guys in our classes, we were first, last, and everything.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Documentation

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a 15,024 word post about this weekend in review. Top that Wrecking Ball!







































Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Visitation


The myth that is Lil Ronnie, will be gracing us with his presence this weekend. First up, watch him get pissed at the Joe's ride. Next, watch him get pissed at us for watching him get pissed.


Friday we should be headed for a big group dinner, at which point he'll likely get pissed. I'll of course egg it on, and he'll get pissed some more.


Saturday he'll bitch about how we made him pissed, and that will make more pissed. Saturday night Allan will draw on Lil' Ronnie, and the ouchy needle will make him pissed.


Sunday, he'll be pissed because he has to go home to North Cuba.


I for one, am amped to see the giant grouch. With any real luck, you'll catch a giant grin on his face as he aggravates the ever livin' hell out of one of his good friends.


I'll keep the ride schedules posted, so join the fun if you can.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cracked


I think I may be the butt of an evil joke, played by one super fast expert type who goes by the name of Silk. I'm not completely sure of this, because I'm too tired to think straight. Right now it kind of feels like the 2nd day back from the RAAM ordeal. It took me a week to feel normal after that sleep deprived journey, so this week is devoted to recovery. At least that's what Silk's evil plan calls for....or does it? Could this be another part of his insidious plot?

A few of us have decided to pursue the GA State Championship Series this year. The first race in East Macon Park was a real eye opener. The course had a lot more climbing than anyone really knew. I blew up hard! The last lap was about finishing, nothing more. After that, I quit skipping the interval workouts prescribed by Silk's plan. I decided to stay a little closer to The Plan, so as to maybe bring my game up a notch or two, before the next round. That's all well and good, but the next round came along during the hardest month of riding, according to The Plan. The Plan even said, "Do a C priority race, but don't expect to feel too sparky. You should be tired." Boy was that an understatement! I went all out at Columbus GA, for round 2. All out apparently meant I putted around the course on a Hoveround, like you see on those late night commercials. I looked at the trusty Garmin numbers later and discover that, yes, I was tired.

Stress will fool with your body as well as your your mind. I had a few things broiling in the stress oven the week prior, so hard riding, and hard thinking, with little rest equals, slow as all hell at the race. No problem, I'm not racing at round 3, the very next weekend. I am however, still going to Twilight. That race is so much fun to spectate. I already have my hotel booked and paid, it's nonrefundable, and my wife loves going to this event. Vacation week is in place. Relaxation, here I come!

It can't hurt to go ride the mountain bike course on Saturday, can it? I mean, I'm already up here, and Big Jim Slade and Marcus will be there. I'll just check out the course, and then we'll get on over to Athens to hang out for the evening. Ft. Yargo is a beautiful park, and the course is stellar. Lots of climbing, which doesn't really suit my style, but the super fast flowing singletrack that rewards those climbs, that more than suits my abilities.

By the time I finish the lap, it's after 2 or 3 pm, and I have not eaten real food since 9 that morning. Now, if I was racing, that would freak me out. Poor nutrition the day before a race is just dumb. But I'm just on vacation, so I'm not really freaked out. If you don't believe me, just ask my wife, who really loves it when I'm hungry.

We jet for Athens, check in to the hotel, get a shower, and head for downtown. The place is getting busy, and I'm super stoked to be at the races. I love watching these pro road crits. I've seen it so many times, and it still amazes me how hard they go. We head for a restaurant just off the course, and I try to control my twitching, as I'm afraid the race will start before I finish, or worse, even receive, my food. The timing all worked out in the end. I was out the door while Michelle covered our check, just in time to see the pro women's start.

I've got friends in this race, and I really want to see them do well. At the very least, I want to shout encouragement. It really does help to hear people screaming your name when you're in the hurt locker; like maybe your efforts were noticed and appreciated. When you're hurting so bad that it feels like you're breathing pure alcohol bred, blue fire. When every fiber of your body screams, "For the love of God, Please take that chainsaw out of my gut!". Having someone on the sideline yelling at you to ignore the very sound logic that your body is laying out in an effort to convince you otherwise, and just "GO, GO, GO!!!", somehow lets you know that the beating you hope to be bringing to your competitors, and most certainly are bringing to yourself, makes sense.

I was on my feet until the men's pro 1/2 race ended; around 11:30. Again, that would worry me if I was racing. Standing up all night, and not resting or sleeping, or drinking enough. That would be really foolish the night before a race. Luckily, I'm on vacation.

I crash back at the hotel and sleep the sleep of the dead. All the hard rides have really caught up with me. The back to back heavy duty workouts, the aggravations of life, and the long day on the road finally caught up to me. I'm wide awake at 7:30am. Maybe we should head over and check out the start of the mountain bike race. Marcus would appreciate the support. We load all the gear, hit Panera for breakfast, and return to Ft. Yargo.

It's a beautiful morning, the weather is great, and the park is overflowing with anxious mountain bikers. I watch Marcus settle into a modest start at the back. He still has a hard time realizing that he belongs in this class, and has every right to start closer to the front, rather than sitting in the back, only to wind up passing over half of the field. Once he was in the woods, I nonchalantly wandered over to the registration table and signed on the dotted line.

Now wasn't that stupid?! Oh well, The Plan calls for two hours at race pace today. What better way to get that workout than actually racing? I suit up, warm up, and line up. When the whistle blows, I settle in to one of those modest starts, too. I pass one guy, Junkman, before the singletrack. Once in the woods, the guy in front of me waves me around. The front three guys are lined up and leaving my time zone. No sweat, just settle in and ride my race. Junkman goes around, and actually starts giving me lessons in singletrack skill. I don't want to sound conceited, but I've been doing this a long time. I'm not used to guys just schooling me in the woods. I can go his pace if I'm on his wheel when the downhill starts, but otherwise, he gaps me. Luckily, he's slowing down on the climbs, and I'm actually bringing him back. Yes, clearly today is opposite day. As I reel Junkman in, I notice that one of the trio train up front has come unhitched, and we're catching him. We pass third place up, and send him out the back. Now I just have to hang on to Junkman, and try to unload him on the climbs during the 2nd lap. The thought of getting third has me pretty amped, and I'm riding hard to keep the dream alive. In reality, the thought of getting third was just an evil myth, more than likely propagated by The Man(Silk), designed to keep a brotha down!

I just kept telling myself that even though I was dying a thousand deaths, Junkman was dying a thousand and one. I just had to stay the course, and not let up. Never mind the fact that he was out of sight. He would be just around the next corner, begging for mercy. The only thing begging for mercy was my poor, depleted body. The adrenaline kept me up for a while, but in the end, it was all empty promises. I fell apart in epic proportions. The cramps found me around mile 15. I screamed to myself in the woods, as I tried to pedal through the twitching, malconforming, muscle mutiny. My common cramp is an inner thigh cramp, where the muscle tries to relocate my testicle down by my knee. Getting off the bike only makes it worse, so the only answer is to keep the cranks rolling over. It's truly ironic that the repetitive action that brought me to this painful state is also the only action that will pull apart the Celtic knot of muscle tissue.

I spent the remainder of the lap hoping that I wouldn't be caught by those behind me. I missed my downshift on a couple of the steep hills that sneak up on you after fast downhill sections. Twice I jumped out of the saddle to force the too big gear, only to have my legs fail me completely. Twice I wound up in a walk of shame up a short steep section. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

I sucked up what pride was left, and pushed as hard as I could through the last few fast sections to the finish line. No one else caught me, and I ended up with a fourth. Right after the finish line, I was getting a little dizzy, so I sat down and tried to catch my breath. Slowly, the sharper pains began to subside. I drank two more bottles of water and ate a granola bar while Big Jim Slade laughed at my predicament, all the while snapping away with his camera. I guess he wanted to remember that joke later. To add insult to injury, or injury to injury, when I stood up again, my inner thigh cramp returned with a vengeance. This time I was already off the bike, and couldn't find any way to make it release. I just winced and held myself up by bracing on a picnic table, until I'm pretty sure the muscle was just too tired to stay cramped any more.

I found a strange sense of pride in doing this race, when I could have just as easily headed for Dauset for a relaxing ride around one of my favorite trail systems, with my favorite Lady. I feel like I stayed the course, despite the all but guaranteed defeat due to bone weary fatigue. My wife said she was proud of me, which of course flatters the caveman in me.

Now I just want to rest. I may not ride at all this week. I'm gonna spend a little time pondering punch lines. If anyone sees Silk, tell him Bigworm's looking for him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lordy, Lordy, Not Quite 40


That's right! Your's Truly had a birthday today, and I'm about as close to the Four Oh as you can get, without actually being there.


Strange, but I've noticed that I pay attention to age a little more than I did in the past. I'm not real sure where that's coming from. I have always been a strong believer in age as a state of mind. Perhaps that is a thought for the youthful; when age truly isn't a concern, unless you're wishing you were old enough to buy a beer.


I was never in any hurry to grow up, and if you ask my wife, she'll tell you I'm still on that path.


Oh well, another year to be me.... as long as old age let's me.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Where Did All the Green Stuff Go?


After this past week's deluges, I'm getting a little stir crazy. I forced the issue and rode Tuesday night, and for the 2nd time in 48 hours, I trashed my new ride. We got caught in a nightmare thunderstorm in the last 1/2 hour of the ride. By we, I mean myself, Longshanks and Bikechain. Ice Berg and Little Ball were all cozy in their car while I raced Noah back to the ark! I actually had to slow down my life or death time trial because I was hitting so much stuff that I couldn't see, because it was under water, that I was worried I was gonna flat, and have to spend even more time in the monsoon. There were limbs the size of Micro and Wrecking Ball falling out of the pine trees along the trail, and I was just waiting for Mother Nature to get off that one lucky shot...


All's well that ends well. Longshanks was even waiting at my truck with a spare towel! Good friends are a good thing.


Looking at the map above, I think a few of us will run quickly into the woods this evening, for a lap or two of the Munson/Twilight area, before the sky starts falling again. Any takers?


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shoulda Been Here Yesterday!


The old surf adage about getting burned on a surf trip, and then some local always points out, "You shoulda been here yesterday!", seems to have been a theme for the cycling part of our weekend trip. In reality, "yesterday" wouldn't have been any better. Four or five days ago, maybe, but not yesterday.


The rain that tore through the Eastern US reeked its havoc in North Georgia. We knew that Saturday's ride plans were a bust, before we left. 100% chance of rain left little doubt. But we hoped for a ride on Sunday, albeit a muddy one. We awoke early Sunday morning, ate a hotel breakfast, and drove the 40 minutes south from Dahlonega to Gainesville, to ride Chicopee. It took us long enough to get there, driving winding mountain roads, that I was already doing the math to see how much time we had to ride, and still get back in time for the wedding. When we rounded the corner to the parking lot, that problem was no longer an issue. A big red Closed! sign hung from the gate. There was a small crew of people in the lot so we swung in to find a work party heading out to clean up after the weeks storms. Now, I'd like to say we jumped out and played the Ambassadors of Tallahassee mountain biking, offering to drag limbs and shovel dirt as needed. But that wouldn't be true. Instead, like good travelers seeking a ride, we asked if anything would be open in the area. Not very noble, I know, but truthful. Anyway, one of the guys suggested driving further south, to Ft. Yargo. Since that was the plan for tomorrow, and the extra driving time just wouldn't allow us to get back in time for the wedding today, we returned slightly defeated, to Dahlonega.


On the way back, I just wasn't too keen on sitting in the hotel room, waiting to play dress up for the wedding. So we decided to drive up to Camp Wahsega, where Fool's Gold 50/100 is held in August. It gave me a chance to show Mrs. Worm around the mountain where Silk threw down last year(while Mingo, Micro and myself grabbed another hour and a half of shuteye). We drove about half of the 10 mile climb that starts that race. It's hard to convey, in words, a hill that goes up that long, this far south. She finally understood what I had been yammering about. We had a blast driving the mountain roads, even though knobbys had not yet touched dirt.


On the way back to the hotel, we swung through the Celtic Festival going on in downtown Dahlonega, and grabbed meat pies, bridies, and sausage rolls for lunch. Some Scottish shortbread for dessert, and we were in business!


Monday rolled around, and I was more than amped to be riding. We did another hotel breakfast, and were gone by 8am. We drove the same mountain roads as the day before, back through Gainesville, on our way to Winder, where we would ride the Ft Yargo trails. A couple of years ago, I went and watched Marcus look like he was drowning at an Xterra event here. While that partially cured his tri-geek phase, he raved about the trails, so I was looking forward to seeing what he saw. Besides, we're racing there in April, and I can see if maybe my new ride is a better choice for this trail, over the Titus. We pull in the lot, ready to work out the weekend kinks and, Closed! I'm getting a little tired of being mocked by this six letter word.

By now my frustration was boiling to the surface, and my demeanor was less than pleasant. My poor wife, I'm sure, was questioning her sanity for committing a lifetime to me. I was tired of long detours in search of trail, only to get skunked time and time again. We made a beeline for the Interstate, and headed south. Somewhere on I-675 I calmed downed, and decided to make one last ditch effort to ride. We jumped off I-75 and headed for Dauset. Finally luck was with us, and the gate was open. We peered tentatively at the kiosk, expecting another buzz kill, but all was good. The trails were definitely more muddy that I would've liked, but nowhere near as bad as the last time I came up with the crew. So we managed to get in and hour and a half of woods time, that salvaged the mountain bike portion of our trip.


Afterwards we hit JL's for BBQ, and then stopped at Stripling's for a late afternoon snack. It seemed that all was finally well with the world again.


Oh yeah, we did do the whole wedding thing on Sunday. Yours truly managed to forget his nice shirt, so a last minute trip was made to some hiking store in downtown Dahlonega, to find that the only long sleeve shirts they had were Patagonia. Ouch! It's a nice shirt, but damn! I hope I wear it more often, maybe next winter. Or, maybe it will find its way on eBay, to recoup some of the expense. On the way to the cheesy castle used for the wedding site, we passed a Wally World. Now I hate shopping at the big W, but I probably would have gotten a more usable shirt, for about a third of the price. Oh well, I'll chalk it up to supporting the N. GA economy. I'll call it, "Bigworm's Economic Stimulus Due to Poor Planning Plan".


Being in the mountains was great, and Mrs. Worm commented on moving there more than once. But as usual, it's still good to be home.


Friday, March 27, 2009

New Chicken for Big Jim


This rain is much needed, but it's interfering with my fun! I guess I need to regroup, and learn to roll with the punches again. The reality is, the rain is only causing minor problems in my riding schedule, but when you get obsessed about every ride, as if it's the most important thing of the day, you lose perspective.


Now right about now, Markus is thinking I'm talking myself out of my focus on upcoming races, and the necessary riding it takes to do well. That couldn't be further from the truth. Racing bikes and riding bikes are both great fun for me, but it's a delicate tightrope walk, to keep the fun and the work in check. Silk possesses a single minded focus for training that, in and of itself, is impressive. But he never rides with anyone, unless it fits his training plan of the day. I'm too social for all that. Markus is giving it his big shot at the Expert Class this year, and with a certain event looming in his future, this is his best chance to shoot for the stars.


I don't have any driving force, other than my typical competitive streak. My wife was making fun of me last night, when a commercial for Rascals came on the TV. You know what I'm talking about, those little electric grocery getter carts for the elderly. I told her I'd be all for it, as long as my friends had them too. We'd pick who had the biggest house, set up a course, and have someone yell, GO! She commented on the big smile on the Old Man cruising around his house, and I assured her it was because he had the jump on his buddy, coming out of the dining room corner.


Anyway, I'm competitive and hate taking beatings like I did last weekend in Macon. Good God, that course hurt! But, I'm not going to add stress to my life... scratch that. I'm going to TRY not to add stress to my life, just to focus on feeling good at half a dozen races this year. I'll definitely ramp up the efforts, and put a little more hurt in the rides, but I can't afford mentally, to freak out every time the rain, or life, causes me to miss an interval day. Strangely, I look forward to the hurt and the efforts, but I have to control the obsession.


This weekend, I'm flying wingman for my wife. She feels obligated to go to the wedding of a long time male friend. However, as could be expected, his fiance is super jealous of their friendship. She doesn't know my Ol' Lady, and just makes things uncomfortable whenever, Mrs.Worm is around. So, I told her I'd go up as a support structure, so she didn't wind up isolated and miserable.


The upside to all of this is that the wedding is in Dahlonega, GA., mountain bike paradise! The wedding is Sunday afternoon, so we'll be taking a three day weekend. Unfortunately, the weather has reared its ugly head, and storms are scheduled through Saturday night. Lovely travel weather, huh? I've decided to ditch the I-75 torture fest, and take us up 19, all the way to Atlanta. Should be slower, but way less accident prone. I know we'll be stopping by Striplings, because, "You never sausage a place!" Anything else we need to see on our journey? If you know of anything just off the beaten path, let me know. Because with a whole day of rain, we'll be simply focused on getting to Dahlonega, as stress free as possible, and should have plenty of time for sightseeing.
If all goes well, we'll be riding at Chickopee and Ft. Yargo this weekend. Hopefully the deluge stops in time for the trails to dry a little. Bull Mountain is the ultimate trail system to ride in Dahlonega, but that beast tends to be an eye opener. I don't need it opening my Ol' Lady's eyes wide enough that she realizes who she's committed her life to, so we'll keep to easier trails.


I thought about leaving tonight, but then got a text about a possible group dinner. Now that sounds like fun, so I'll probably focus on packing the 4 Runner tonight, and hang out with the crew instead. We can always leave bright and early, and besides, it would save a little dough. Not to mention that chilling around the dinner table with the gang is a rare occasion these days, and will likely be well worth the wait. I think that fits perfectly with the Big Picture plan.
Enjoy the Chicken, Big Jim.
***

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tick Tock, Tick Tock...


Just a few more hours, Big Jim...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two Days and Counting


Daylight Savings has arrived again, and it seems it brought Spring along for the ride. For some of us, that means time to change the routine.


Personally, I'm stoked! I always look forward to the changing of the season, both meterologically, and cycle-logically. When Fall rolls around, we charge our lights, dig out our cold weather gear, and begin the new season of night rides. It's usually a welcome relief from the same ol' same ol'. But by the time we spring our clocks forward again, I'm damn tired of keeping my lights charged, doing a full load of laundry after every ride, and having my neck be sore from that light on my helmet!


Tonight, we ride sans lights, and with the nice weather, sans cold weather gear.


But more importantly, we're just two days from this year's first JOE'S RIDE!! Time to dust off the skinny tired rigs, and climb into the midst of the whirring, twirling, ever amorphous, conglomeration of juniors, old folks, sketchers, mountain bikers, and loud mouths, that is the Joe's Ride. Can't wait! I chattered about it so much on last week's mountain bike rides, that Big Jim Slade's anxiety became palpable. So much for the confidence he gained by his first sport class win at the Red Bug Challenge. Now all he can think about is staying upright in the corners, or hoping none of the juniors are too mean to him. Don't worry, Big Jim, if they get too rowdy, we'll just send in Facebook to correct the issue. He seems to enjoy conflict within the confines of the Killearney trafficways. Old or young, he'll take on all comers.


I promise that as he reads this, Wrecking Ball is already thinking of other things to do on Thursdays. I'll let him get away with it a little, but there will be no shut outs, W.B.!


Micro will be on the sideline, as Spanish Mackerel says he should be, so that his little girl can cheer on the group, as we climb that damn hill in front of his home.


With any luck, Red Dragon will be on comeback #235,598,456 and will show up to show us the fastest 30 minutes in cycling.


Can't wait!


Two days and counting!


See ya Thursday!






Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tough Guy(or Girl) Contest


Well the face of the race may be changing. Our idyllic Florida weather is throwing a mean curve ball, and it's gonna take a home run swinger to knock it out of the park. I've already suggested we change the name to the Ice Man Cometh, the Deep South Version. According to yesterday's weather channel, it's gonna be cold, wintry and wet tomorrow. I'm sure this will hurt turn out, but those who make it should get one of those epic stories to tell. The ones that always come up at the end of any hard ride, or when your crew gets together at dinner and the drinks flow deep. "Remember that race at Redbug when Juancho got frostbite?"


Don't be a sissy and sit on your nice warm couch watching your favorite I Love Lucy reruns. Come out and suffer with a bunch of malcontents. Armageddon is coming, Obama or no Obama. It's time to harden up and be strong, or at least fake it until help arrives.


Besides, there should be more than enough food, now. So at least come sit under a tent and watch the dumbasses play in the mud, eat a burger, and support the foolish spirit that brings us all together.
I'm telling you now, Fat Lad would go! And he'd call us all out for being fair weather, Sissy Yanks!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Call Out!!


I'm calling out all you margin guys! You know who you are. The guys who think about racing once and awhile. You're not obsessed, but you still have that competitive streak. Don't tell me you don't. Because you all tell the stories of how you made so and so suffer on the last ride at Munson, Tom Brown, Felasco, etc. This weekend is the perfect chance to dip your toe in the waters. Not too deep mind you. I don't want you to drown, or anything. The Red Bug Challenge is the ideal venue for you to experience low stress mountain bike racing on Tallahassee's northside trails.


Juancho, I'm calling you out! And I think it's about time you called out Sasquatch. To hell with where everybody else finishes, Just beat the giant through the woods. Sasquatch, I know it's Red Bug, but there are enough dirt roads on the old Phipp's land to equalize the pressure.


Cupcake, I'm calling you out! I think that Bushy has your number!


Cliffy, I'd love to see you show up on the start line, just once. Besides, if we could get Dogboy or Marino out there, I'm sure that would be a battle royale.


Personally, I'd like to see the battle of the long travel, heavy wheelers on Sunday. I have this vision of Shins and King Snake rolling their monster bikes around the loop, launching every little inclination they can find, all the time with a cigarette hanging from the corner of their respective lips. (Yet somehow, they are always going just as fast as everyone else.)


No need to call out Gillis, I know he'll be there, and his biggest demon will be keeping his bike between the trees. (Big Thanks for the shout out, too T)


Maybe some old timers could dust off their two wheeled wagons and give it a go. Perhaps Mingo and Aucilla Sinks? Mike McCue and Ed Miller?


There will be more besides just racing. We hope to have a friendly game of Bull Fight, commonly referred to as knock down. Mingo has a date with destiny, btw. There should be a wheelie contest. Between Shins, Ice Berg, and Pizza Steve, I don't know if we have enough real estate for that one, but we may just have to incorporate some obstacles to tone down the distance.


We're looking to include a track stand contest, flat changing, huffy toss, whatever. We just want people to have fun hanging out with other two wheeled degenerates.


Any other rivalries out there? Real or Imaginary, I don't care, let us hear about it in the comments.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Lantern Rouge!


I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Lantern Rouge riders of the big tours. These poor bastards suffer day in and day out, to be last. They could quit and go home, but they stick it out. Let's hear it for perseverance.


Now I have the distinct pleasure to know one of these guys personally. Everybody knows that Phil Southerland is my adopted little brother. He wandered into the shop at age 12-13, and we raised him to be the little derelict that he is today. He's one over achieving little derelict, too, He and a friend started to Team Type 1 as a school project, and now they have a team in the Tour of California, our country's biggest stage race. Little Bro Phil is suffering a trial by fire, as he learns what it's like to step up to the next level. The boy works his ass off, and my heart swells with pride when I see his achievements. I used to push him up the longer hills as a kid, and now I find strength in his never say die attitude.


Let's pump big love to the West Coast for Phil and his boys on Team Type 1. After 5 hours of sub 47 degree, rainy weather on yesterday's stage, they need all the love they can get.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009