Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's on, it's off, it's on AGAIN!!

Big news:

Voting for the Pisgah Stage Race Blogger Contest has been moved to Facebook. Thanks to all that voted on the old page but those are NULL and VOID now.

Sooooo please go to Facebook and vote for me again here:

CLICK TO VOTE (for real this time)

You might not be able to lower taxes or make much right with your voting in this country but you CAN send me to the Pisgah MTB Stage Race. Do it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's on: Pisgah MTB Stage Race Blogger Contest.

Blue Ridge Adventures, purveyors of fine mountain bike racing in North Carolina, is giving away two free entries to the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race. The race is in late September and has 185 miles of trail and 40,000 + ft. elevation gain to punish all that show up.

Bottom line: I want to go but I need your help. All you loyal and not so loyal wagon wheels racing readers go check out the contestants here .

Second bottom line: My page is here. Click and vote away! CLICK HERE TO VOTE.

The more votes I get the less I will talk about this on here. Unless I get a ton of votes then I win and everyone gets to read about what it takes to get ready for something like this and eventually the end all be all of race reports.

It looks like I am one of the underdogs in the contest and they spelled my last name wrong but my hope will not be crushed that easily. Go vote. That means you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I don't know why I wanted one so badly but I did. So I bought one. Cheap.

I found a great deal on a wired Powertap for my road bike about a year ago, quickly installed it, and then noticed the 22,000 miles on the odometer from the previous owner. Meh. Cycleops has a killer warranty department, I would come to find out. They replaced everything I needed them to without question and even agreed to sponsor me this year (I will buy some rollers at some point). The Powertap performed well. The blinky numbers told me when I felt strong and when I was weak. It helped me keep a steady effort on long road rides. It has been very informative but after the initial learning curve it began to seem like more of an expensive luxury I felt compelled to look at constantly.

So I sold it.

Then I fretted over whether to get a Garmin (not all that interested).

I know I did a hard ride because my legs are whipped and really don't need a computer to tell me so. I saw something posted once that said , "A power meter should just constantly flash a screen that says YOU SUCK." As snarky as that is, it's true. A power meter is an awesome training tool for the right person. I don't think I am that person. I have done my commuting this week sans gadgets and it has been awesome. On the hard days I ride, I take the fixed gear and pretend it is a mountain bike. Easy days involve me pedaling like an old fella in the park and enjoying the view. Staring at the numbers gets old.

If bike riding isn't fun, what the hell is the point? Might as well go be a runner then. Or a triathlete.

Now to some fun gadgets: I am going to order some new wheels soon. My Bontrager Race X Lites are fine but I really want Industry Nines to replace them. What I am getting:

29er Cross Country version with the straight pull spokes and SS freehub
Stan's Arch rims
Black everything, Johnny Cash style

They look awesome. Dicky seems to like his well enough, but he seems to be doing more seeking out men to go ride with him of late than actual riding.

PMBAR is coming up super quick and I am off Friday so I can do a big mountain bike ride. One of those is enough to be ready, right? Right?!

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Cheaha Challenge

I feel like I barely know where to start on this one. Well, like any other "race report" I will start the day before.

Oh yeah, this is long. I tried to make it short. Oops. Hope its worth the read.


Melissa and I decided to head out to Anniston to watch the Sunny King Criterium on Saturday night. I have wanted to see this for ohhhh, about 10 years now. Anniston was where I first started riding and learning to wrench and I have many good memories of the area. 5000 people showed up to watch the pro crits and for good reason. They are fun as hell to watch. Every. Time.

Birmingham was represented with riders in almost all the races with some good finishes and an equal amount of suffering and tales of tough luck and missed chances. The Pro Men's race was nuts. These guys have insane bike handling skills to match their horsepower. Bunnyhop over a curb in the middle of a turn doing 35 miles per hour? Yep, dude nailed it and fell back in the group smooth as can be. Skills.

Three hours of sleep blah, blah, blah on the 2011 Cheaha Challenge.


I will skip all the extraneous bullshit but I do have to mention that I saw one of the coolest sunrises ever on the way out to Piedmont, AL at 5:30 A.M. The sun was HUGE, so cool. After the ride I was so shelled I didn't think it would be worth writing about but I have now changed my mind. I think mileage will be the easiest way to break up this ride to write about so here it is, all 102 miles, 8,000 feet of climbing, and insane downhills attempted on a 1985 Trek 500 fixie in its unedited glory.

Mile 1-24
The beginning of the ride saw us (Boris, Lee, and myself) late to the start line for no good reason. Everyone else was too responsible and punctual...we did nothing wrong but had to line up with the riders doing the shorter rides of the day. As Sweet Home Alabama crackled over the geriatric PA system, 500 riders began the awkward clip in, hurry up and wait dance. We rolled out of town and settled into the third big group out on the road which also happened to be the most disorganized (I am guessing here, it could have been worse if we had set up some sort of makeshift slalom course but I digress...) group of them all. As we slowed down and sped up I was thinking it seemed odd such a big group was spending so much time at 18 mph. Hey, I figured, great for energy conservation. Lee was already gone from sight. He also chose a single gear (2 to 1 maybe) which was much more climbing friendly than mine (40/15 no coasting allowed). From his account after the race, the spinny gear sucked on the flats. Duh. Mine sucked on the climbs. Duh. I ended up doing most of the ride with Boris who was on his Fisher MTB. I was chatting up a rider with a Faster Moustache jersey as we turned off the main road and began the climbing.

Mile 25-51
The bulk of the climbing on the out and back course is contained in this section. I breathed a sigh of relief as our group began to blow apart with the sudden increase in elevation. This section was referred to as Cheaha Roubaix by the race announcer when we began the ride.

SIDE NOTE: This is not a race, it is a timed ride. You pay, you ride, nobody gets prizes.

Cheaha Roubaix included about 10 miles of broken, Federal pound you in the ass pavement. Just the recipe for those bored by too many miles of flat and smooth pavement. The first big climb of the day loomed in front of us at mile 33 up to Horseblock Mountain and Aid 3. I began to realize what the rest of the day would be like on this portion of the ride. Climbing was an exercise in full body strain as I approached 30 rpm on the 12-14% sections and the downhills were even more intimidating...I usually avoid downills like this on a fixed gear because I feel completely out of control. I was enjoying the ride and it was exactly 2:45 in when we saw the lead group making their way back on the course. Minutes later I saw Travis, who did quite well, hauling the mail a few miles from the turnaround at Adams Gap, Mile 51. A female rider asked me how long left until halfway on the climb to Adam's Gap and was not amused by my reply of ,"forty thousand vertical feet."

Mile 52-78
I was expecting Tyree to be at the halfway point with dogs, beer, and the Cahaba Cycles van. Um. Nope. We refilled bottles as my beer dreams were washed away and continued on the road back to Piedmont. I saw Lee making his way up Adams Gap on his SS Felt cross bike and hoped he would catch us on the way back. Apparently, he flatted soon after this, had to walk back up the climb, waited an hour for a tube, AND FINISHED. Props, glad he will be my PMBAR partner. These miles were the hardest of the ride for me. The rollers on the way back can only be described as brutal. I was having to use a technique I began to describe in my head as the Flail Leg to navigate the downhills. If I resisted the pedals I felt like I was wasting energy but if I tried to pedal faster I was totally out of control so I settled on basically letting the bike spin my legs for me as I fought to hang on.

During this section we were beginning to see the riders who still have not made it to the halfway point and were in various levels of distress. This ranged from a few guys I saw sitting on the side of the road in the shade to one lady walking beside her bike up a long climb. It was getting hotter now that it was closer to noon and I was amused by the sheer amount of salt built on my jersey. The climbs are steeper on the return section but I was feeling good until we got to the twelve percent behemoth headed back up to Aid 3 at Mile 75 or so. I remember looking down at my computer with four hours and sixteen minutes on the clock as I began grinding up what was easily the hardest thing I have ever been up on a bike. I would close my now sweat filled eyes for fifteen seconds and then open them for two to make sure I was still on a road. I didn't have a body part that was happy during this...climb. It seems so unimaginative to call it only a climb but either way, I was soon at the top and sticking to my goal of not walking anything. My brain was conflicted as I smelled the hot dogs and kraut at the aid station. They smelled delicious but I knew better. The volunteers got to eat their hot dogs while my taint was treated to another helping of the Cheaha Roubaix.

Mile 79-102
Armed with what ended up being way too little water, we breezed on through Aid Station 2. The next few miles were some of the best of the ride. A gradual downhill combined with smooth pavement and shade trees brought my mind back to a happy place for a few minutes. The final 20 miles were flat, hot, and full of flying bugs. A paceline caught us which I promptly hopped on to. All was well until Mr Green Jersey (not a sprint reference- he was wearing one) decided a 30 mph pull would be fun. Not cool. Boris and I were yet again alone. As his water ran out and a beetle got trapped in his jersey, Boris' interest in my conversation topics began to wane. The last ten miles gave me time to think about how weak my knees felt. It was pitiful. Six hours after our journey began, we rolled back through an anticlimactic finish. I missed my six hours goal by about four minutes but my thoughts had already turned to food. I climbed stairs for pizza and pasta. No Coca Cola...meh.

I finished. I was in a good place for the whole ride and had fun BUT I would NEVER do this again. Not on a fixed gear with barely operable brakes. Next time I will borrow a Madone or something else all light and carbony to ride. Killer weekend. Good job NEABC, the three hundred(!) volunteers, and all the bike shops that supported the ride.

What a freakin' blast for an organized century... Not that there is anything wrong with paying to ride an organized century.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tuesday Night Worlds!!!

Every town out there, including Birmingham, has their Tuesday Night Worlds. This is the non-race race where everyone comes out to prove they are The Man (or Woman). Whoever comes out on top gets to be the swinging dick of the local scene until next Tuesday.

The last time I did this ride was about 3 years ago and promised myself I would never do it again...sketchier than any downhill I have ever ridden on a mountain bike.

Boris send me a text while I was at work yesterday to let me know he was doing Tuesday Night Worlds. I figured I might as well, it had been a few days since I got a hard ride in. I was kitted out in my old cutoff Haband slacks and giant backpack full of commuting shit so I knew I would be able to intimidate some folks.

This ride had the same features of the last one I did with the exception of some lady calling me her hero, presumably because of the backpack:

-Fast as hell. Lots of time above 300 watts. Blah. My legs are tired today.
-Street laws were damned from the start. Many red lights ran, this makes me nervous.
-Weaving riders. Ride in a straight line? Never.
-I misjudged how far it was and got home later than I wanted.

So yeah, basically I suck at road riding and would really rather ride alone or with a couple other people. There is a reason I don't race road bikes...well I AM doing the Cheaha Challenge this weekend but that is hardly a race, per se.

The fact that it is not a race does not exclude it from my arbitrary system of goal making for rides. Let's see.

Cheaha goals:
-Do it fixed and don't walk anything.
-Finish in 6 hours.
-Drink beer during the ride and not throw it up.
-Eat my entry fee in food afterwards.

After the Challenge I will hopefully have some good stories and pictures. Hope everyone's Tuesday Night Worlds was as awesome as mine.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stuff white people complain about #3487

This is where I should write about some epic ride I did this weekend.

That did not happen. I worked all weekend, took the dogs to the park, and went to get coffee with my awesome girlfriend. This is what I am going to write about, so tough. Too bad.

Dunkin Donuts usually makes me happy.

Today they made me sad.

I order 2 iced coffees that both tasted like brown water with a pile of granulated sugar on the bottom. I hardly ever send back food or complain about an incorrect order but this just seemed too easy to mess up so I brought them back in and told dude man something seemed wrong. All of the employees laughed at me and then explained their multi tier iced coffee making process:

1. Make a big batch of coffee in the morning and mix it with ice so it is cold and watered down.
2. Leave it there all day until someone comes in for an iced coffee.
3. Put sugar in the bottom of the cup followed by cream.
4. Dump ice and then watered down stale coffee in the cup.
5. Serve.

This is awful and it tastes like shit. I know there is a better way because they tell you how on the packaged bags of coffee they sell right there IN the store. The right way:

1. Make a FRESH pot of double strength coffee.
2. Pour a cup half full of the coffee then dissolve cream and sugar in it.
3. Fill the rest up with ice so it is cold.
4. Serve.

I really cannot understand having such a simple process and doing it so wrong.

Oh yeah, I can. They explained it to me.

Then laughed some more.

Oh yeah, if you do not have one of the new straps (Awesome Strap Race) from Backcountry Research you suck almost as much as Dunkin Donuts. Go get one now.