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Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Funk...

...of Not Being Able to Breathe is wearing on me.  Woke up this AM after sleeping HARD and my nose is just tight.  Dehydration + cold + weening off the meds has left me just kinda aggravated with being sick.  I don't feel horrible - just bad enough to not give a shit about doing anything.

Sometimes I think I'd rather be REALLY sick for a short time than to have this moderately kinda sick for a week.

I'll get into something.  The Juice is ready to be overhauled.  I pulled the fork apart on Thursday, serviced it.  It may have needed it:
That was the good foam ring of the two.  I pulled the bottom two bolts, hammered it loose and maybe MAYBE a thimble full of oil dripped out.  It has been two years I guess.

Cleaned it all up with alcohol & lacquer thinner, worked at hammering the seals in.  I did find the tool I had on hand that works better than expected:
A crown race setting tool may not be "proper" but it properly did the job.  So, proper.  Slip the legs back on, fill it up with oil and tighten it all up.  Air it up to 130....nothing flew apart so, proper.

I did all this while the ADT guys installed the alarm system.  There's been a rash of break-ins in our 'hood so we took the plunge.  After the first 2-3 weeks of it and the cops being called enough, it seems to have slowed.  Still...we got it.  The alarm guys actually said we have better alarms in THESE three....

...but really?  All it would take to get the "go ahead, take all ya want!" is a treat, some belly-rubbing and a chew toy....in clockwise order.

Yesterday I sat here at the computer and hammered away on a project that just seemed to come together this week.  The skull had been sketched a few weeks ago then sat there....no action.  Get through Mom&Pop Week and it just came together. 

I was gonna do this cool prezidential seal....but, no.  I stared at it and said, "enh, I won't wear that."  So I added crossed bones.  And I'll wear it...
Two t-shirts are being test-printed....decals are on the way.  I may end up making "something" with a tagline....but for now, just the skull & bones are cool. 

I'm jonesing to get back to some kinda riding.  I care less about training for anything but I know I need to get back in the groove in order to be ready for Belgian Waffle in 3 weeks.  As long as I'm over this cold and breathing decent....and off the meds, I'm certain I can limp through the first half.  I have ALL intentions of bailing early 'cause....beer, wine & Meghan.  She kinda trumps the idea of another ???? hours on the bike.

Alright, I'm gonna find some movo & get out there and do some glorious yardwork!

Later.





Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Three Week Break...

...from this blog and ALOT has happened:

1) That uncomfortable groin twinge only got more uncomfortable....to the point that I made a doctor's appointment.  I talked to a friend who has went through his share of pulled muscles (groin included) and his advice: REST HARD.  As in...no riding or doing whatever ya did to get to this point in the first place.  So for the last three weeks I have only ridden a handful of times.  Some easy road rides, one fairly hard road ride, one fun but hard gravel spin.  I finally got back on the FrankenEpic y'day but it wasn't my pulled muscles holding me back....more on that later.

2) With the knowledge that I wouldn't get any better if I didn't rest, I went into reaction mode.  I knew that meant ALOT of time off the bike, no training....no prepping for the first two races, Whiskey 50 and Chino Grinder.  I placed a couple of e-mails and soon the Whiskey 50 entry was transferred to 2018.  I sold my Chino spot for cheap on Facebook.  Within two days it was gone.

I didn't sell Belgian Waffle 'cause the trip there is gonna be as much fun as the ride.  It was the only one with a refundable entry but the resort was set and so was Meghan's time off.  But my head kept wandering.

With all the time off now and knowledge that riding too much was bad, I found other stuff to do...and did.


3) The same friend who has pulled all the muscles builds these awesome theater rooms in big fancy mansions.  He knew I pinstriped back in the day and still do when I want.  He called about doing some detail work, I checked it out and for three days I got all nasty in wine-colored paint, striping some wood mouldings.

And it was fun!  I had this feeling of "balance" - that life had this extra interest now.  I also resented not being able to train and the fact I was gonna have to train HARDER now...as soon as I healed up well enough.

4) So I sold the entry to the Crusher in the Tushar.  The jump start was an mysterious fee from the resort we had booked.  I called, got this snotty response that ALL these fees were charged in advance (2 1/2 months in advance???) and that's the way it was....because they definitely had a waiting list.  I told her to sell my spot to the waiting list.  She did.

I listed my entry on the Tushar website forum that evening.  By 10 or 11 that night, I had money in my account.  Best Western cancelled my reservation the next morning, no problem.

My commitments went from 5x events to 2x.

5) So just as I'm getting settled into thinking about what I wanna do next....if I do anything at all on bikes, Mom and Dad show up from North Carolina.  The trip had been planned well in advance but from last Wednesday til this past Tuesday morning, my week was full.  And then I got sick....

6) Thursday I took Mom and Pop up through Payson, by the Mogollan Rim and down by Camp Verde.  We get home and I feel ROUGH - no energy and my sinuses are clogged.   Friday AM I am up and barely moving....this is gonna hurt.  It's also what took Meghan down for two weeks about a week prior.  She suggests a plethora of OTC meds...and I take em'.  All of em'.

It knocked OUT whatever was buggin' me but it set me down a path of dehydration so bad I was waking up in the middle of the night with a gut that couldn't....ahem, empty itself.  I soldier through, grab AM java and soon all is better.  Til the evening when it started over again.

Still on Friday we toured Cave Creek.  Saturday we went to tourist-filled Sedona & Jerome.  Sunday we rested at home, playing with mutts and eating.  Monday we spent the last full bumming around Scottsdale, eating well and resting where we could.

I feel "better" but not great.  I finally got back on the FrankenEpic y'day after a no-show business meeting.  Scarfed down some Taco Bell, grabbed some water and headed over to 40 Street.  It was warm out but it was nice.  Keep moving and the winds make it feel so good.

But the climbs - holy shit, my lungs were burning!  I plodded up the connector to Trail 100, turned right and then took the first turn up Trail 8.  It was here I began thinking, "man, you're not over it!"  My sinuses were not having any part, building pressure and pushing down on my upper teeth (...a common sign for me in the last 3 years!)

Legs feel good....and soon my teeth are good and my lungs WANT to play but it's not great by any means.  I'm having fun though!  The bike feels awesome.  I had bumped the rear Brain to one-click before full open which used to be TOO squishy but coming down this connector to Trail 100 and over to something called "Porcupine" on Strava, I'm bunny hopping so easy over rocks that I have this surge of ass-kicking energy.

Up the shitty rocky part, botch one line and down to the smooth.  The trail is so loose, holding grip is a mental challenge.  Pass the dude who I am sure was gonna light a blunt and motor up the steep part I was certain I'd walk.  Down the other side, picking my line and realizing my head wasn't all there.  Blame the meds, blame the dehydration....but I was having to work hard to think straight.

Past two old people staring at the distance from their bikes, I take the shitty lines and find I am DIGGING this even if I'm feeling less than crappy.  Take the first right so I don't have to climb to the chutes and realize I really DO feel bad.  Hit the North 100 to 40th(?) and let the bike roll.  I'm wondering, "will I get a new PR?" 'cause the bike just seems to be floating.

Take a detour, up to ??? and back down to the parking lot.  I rode for 33 minutes and I feel whipped.





Today I'm working on some work projects, new t-shirts and new t-shirt suppliers.  We have some service guys doing service stuff at the house today as well....so if I do get out, it'll be later.  The bikes do need some attention, too...

The fork oil is in for the Juice so I'll yank it apart...sometime.
The FrankenEpic needs a bath.  It deserves an overhaul but it's riding SO well....
The Diverge needs a bath....maybe some tweaks.
The R3 needs a bath.
The CxChunk is nasty, needs a bath....and maybe should be re-purposed.  Maybe full-on 'cross racing??....if I ever get my groove back to actually race.

More on that later....

Bluto, my cruiser, needs more work....but I'm not certain what yet.  I'm picking up some size this weekend to play with gold leaf again.  I've thought about silver leaf flames on the cruiser....I've also thought about fill in the flames another way....something funky.

Meghan's sleds need work, too.  The Silque is getting a new saddle courtesy of Dicky.  The Rumor needs a bath...especially since the new decals are clean and the rest of the bike is a pig-sty.  Her other bikes, the Redline and Crux, haven't been ridden in MONTHS....and won't be probably.  She's still sorting out her fit with Barry.  Once she's certain, we'll order those super-short cranks for the Crux.

Alright....back to work. Later!


  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Piss-Poor Mood...

...has been my MO the last couple of days.  When I got back from Prescott on Sunday, I didn't realize how tired I was.  I just went into cook-out mode 'cause guests were coming.  With Ron and Heather already here....and wine, I was not feeling much pain.  Especially not "down there".

Monday though....I did.  It wasn't "pain" but something wasn't right.  I also had no motivation, little energy.  I shoulda went and ran a bunch of errands...but didn't.  Instead I worked on the DiVerge, the grill and the couch.

Tuesday the "unrightness" is still there.  I start researching.  Even though it's in hernia region, the symptoms don't match.  I look up "groin strain".  There it is.  All the tugs in all the right places.  All the uncomfortableness you'd expect...kinda like when SanTanJosh tries to one-up your poop-on-the-trail story with no more real value, just more detail.  In Subway.  While you're eating.

I was less phased than I thought I would be....unlike the moment when his ex-girlfriend story went more porno.

Problem is I can't get comfortable for long in my working chair.  Sitting here just doesn't feel good for long...which means no in-depth drawing or computerizing.  That's fine...as long as I'll get it through my head.  There's plenty else to do.

We may have two more dogs (to make three) by the end of tonight.  We'll see - I'm nervous.  The two gals are worth the expense and time IF....a big IF....the Trunkie likes em' well enough.  Meghan and I are open to loving....hell, any dogs...but Trunkie is an asshole sometimes.  One of the many things I love about my mutt.

So there's plenty of cleaning to do, dog-arrival setting up, paperwork sorting...maybe even some bike maintenance.  Most all my sleds and some of Meghan's could use the attention:

The Juice really does need a fork servicing....I just need to order oil.
The FrankenEpic...is actually good.  Maybe just check it over and lube the chain.
The R3 may get a new chain...just for shits, giggles and the premise it may shift better.  But it's Campy so I'll never know for sure til I'm 30 miles from home.
The CxChunk really needs a bath.
The DiVerge could use a rear wheel checkover, maybe a bit more tightening.  That means research....and that means sitting here.

Meghan's Silque and Rumor could both use baths.  Her Crux needs to be measured and considered for a new, shorter crankset.  So does the Redline....but we'll never spend that kinda dough on the Redline.


There's all kinds of house stuff to do - poop scooping, orange gathering, pool cleaning, weed spraying, vacuuming, shit-gathering, clothes-hanging.  I can likely spend the whole day right here....but I won't.  If dogs come tonight, I'll spend all day here with them.

Errands to need to be ran - mail, groceries, Home Depot.  I was going to the gym but I think I'd do better just stretching.  It sucks getting "set back" for a week...but I did it to myself.  Enh. 

So with all that, it's time to get on with it. 

Later.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Copper Basin Road...

...didn't bring back any memories on Sunday.  Considering I've now ridden in Prescott twice and it had been two years (almost) since, I was only partially surprised when I learned I was on the road that led to the point I met Meghan when I broke the Epic (...it wasn't the FrankenEpic then).  I was rather surprised I was so turned around.

I have figured that out though.  I geek out on GPX files.  If I can load it on the Garmin, I'll have studied already in RideWithGPS.  So....when they shared a file on the F'book page, I downloaded and went to work. 

Well, that file wasn't so exact.  Different start location and reverse direction.  I thought we'd be climbing the Skull Valley climb, same one in the Whiskey 50.  Nope. 

So Copper Basin Road went by slowly.  I had already resigned myself to go "easy" (ish).  The urge to kick it harder was definitely growing as more and more people passed and I felt like I was chuggin' in this range that just bordered on actually feeling "good".  Lotsa people were nursing tired legs from the Tour de Mesa and Prickly Pedal (both events with entry fees just kinda ridiculously high...unless ya really wanna do em'!)  Still I grunted up the steeper portions.  I made sure to watch how much I put my left knee through....and yet another injury (I think).

Just in front of my left hip, there is a "tug", like I've strained something there.  Likely when I was mashing the singlespeed up that grunty climb at Apache Wash.  Friday and Saturday I felt like I was constipated, like I had not drank enough and eaten entirely wrong (more common than ya think!)  When I rode Saturday, I felt GOOD though so I blew it off.  Sunday AM, I felt "regular" so I headed up with no reservations.

Climbing Copper Basin I felt that "tug" and figured I'd better be smart.  I creeped along, keeping my breathing and heart rate in check.  I forgot the HR strap so an exact reading of HR was out....just going by feel. 

The climb was just over 6 miles and 1400+ feet....so it was a helluva a warm-up.  I felt fine at the top although I just wasn't "with it".  The DiVerge still has a "creak" coming from the rear wheel when I stomp big grades - spoke tension?  drivetrain?  It's still not clear...'cause after Copper Basin, it never went up so steep again.

Folks gather at the top, food is passed around.  Then they roll out.  I hear Sabino Steve hollar, "Dwayne, I expect to see those descending skills!"  Well, that kinda set the mood for this, huh?

I roll in a bit tentative but I soon see I have a bigger problem than gulleys, potholes and washouts - other riders.

I'm scanning the wide road and most folks are taking the safe line....slowly.  This means I'm now diving into some crappy stuff.  The road has been freshly graded so the outside edges (where I was riding) was deeper and looser.

I didn't ride over my head but I was definitely riding faster than others.  The surprised and nervous look on others' faces when I did take the inside line and roll up beside them made me call out every move.  "On your left" became a recurring thing.  All the while....Steve is on my wheel!

The worst (and most fun) experience was passing one pretty good rider on the inside only to be set in-line for the muddiest side of the road.  All I saw was trickling water, puddles and a small ravine ahead.  Ass back and off the brakes, I bunny-hopped the ravine and laughed the whole way down to the next short climb.

I punch other this one and there's more descending, wider, looser & even more "chewed".  Folks seem to be grouping up, taking the entire road.  It takes longer to weave around especially as they squeeze off open lines at random.  I've caught SanTanJosh (who rode up with me) now and it takes two or three corners before I just take a chance and drill it past his group.

I'm grunting up it in ease when I hear SanTanJosh chatting away with the two racer gals who did Prickly Pedal apparently.  I hear the three of em' and can't help but shake my head and grin at the explanations and excuses.  Apparently, jumping from 19 psi to 25 psi means the front tire is just gonna lose ALL traction on dirt roads. 

A few more anecdotes and I decide I need to hammer a bit more.  The voices disappear and I feel pretty good.  The road kinda flattens a bit but still heads downhill.  I reel in one old dude on a Trek, speak....nothing.  Just as non-responsive as the Mark Taylor Kit Guy from McDowell.  I motor past and keep rolling.  SanTanJosh rolls up and while trying to ride beside me, he eventually sees the lines are few(er to share) and guns it ahead.  I'll catch him again before the end (when it gets tighter) but for now, I'm having fun just riding. 

Until SSCoffeeRoasters Jersey guy drills past, like he's bombing it all....then proceeds to cross lines and JAM the brakes.  The corner looks really open and nice so I'm not sure what he saw through his glasses....but now I'm choking it up HARD to not ram him.  Veering hard off my line would mean trouble 'cause it's just gonna send me into the deeper shit.

Down to the General Store and we gather, drink and eat.  I meet a couple of guys from ReGroup.  Meet Jeff from "El Freako" who's prepping for the AZT 750.  We chat for a bit after I ask him if I shoved him off his line when the non-speaking Trek Guy pushed into my line.  I was holding on the best I could when out of nowhere, Jeff passes FAST on my outside left.  We laugh about it and keep going.

Rolling out I'm not in the mood to go.  I'm albeit kinda bored.  We're now pedaling up Iron Springs Road and the group is a paceline.  I settle back, talk to Jeff's girlfriend/wife/??? before she tells me to go 'cause traffic is thick.  I tell her to latch on and we'll bridge up. 

I latch on as we hit the dirt.  The pack is splitting and although my legs were good, my head was NOT in it.  I settle back, pedal smooth circles and soon it's down to just a few of us.  I'm kinda hanging around to ride with Sabino Steve....'cause I rarely get a chance to ride gravel WITH Steve.

Now we're on the "easy" side of the route.  This is what I thought we would be coming down.  Nope.  We're climbing this stretch of 13 miles.  My rhythm feels pretty good so I motor.  My Garmin is kinda screwy 'cause everyone is going a different way than it says to.  I kinda watch those around me, look at tire tracks...and when James says , "oh, it goes that way!" we turn.

Pedal about 2 miles and we're at a gate to a private ranch.  Turn tail and ease back out to Tonto Road.  Steve is now energized and we're hammering prtty good!  Soon we are on Contreras, a road I recognize and I know what is up.  I settle into climbing but something isn't "right".  I stand toclear my legs and it feels like I'm just sick when I settle back down.  Am I drinking too little?  Eaten enough?  Any way ya look at it, I'm not riding well.

Later I come to realize Friday night and Saturday have caught up to me - lack of sleep...poor diet....too much alcohol.  I'm paying the price.  And when we hit that BORING grind up Iron Springs, I'm regretting my life decisions.

Not that I'd change anything.

Steve tells me to wait at the top and when we hit the 6014 foot sign, I stop and wait.  Steve rolls up, I roll out....only to see another fuckin' hill!  Grind up, wait....THEN we hammer!

Steve is pushing a Dura-Ace 50-34 (compared to my 48-32) so his ability to get some speed is stronger than mine - I'm spinning 100+ rpms just to latch on!  I try to pull a couple of times but ....nope.

Up another grade and we realize, we're not entirely sure where to go.  I plug in "back to Start" in the Garmin and soon we're downtown, milling through the tourists.  Up the punch to Safeway and it's over.

There we learn more people were still out....trying to find their way.  Since it wasn't really an event, it's not like they were gonna put out signs....or could.  Craig and Minnie had driven back and forth, back and forth trying to keep folks in some order but it was impossible.  When I looked at Strava Fly-By y'day, it was crazy how disoriented some of them got.  Some of the routes look even more entertaining.




Afterwards, SanTanJosh and I drove down the mountain after stopping at Subway for food.  Spend four hours in a car with someone and ya never know where the tales will go.  Get to the house, unload and I prep for the cookout that is going to be underway shortly.  I'd invited Sabino Steve and the three others with him to come to our house for a cookout.  They had come up for a three day weekend...so why not?  Ron and Heather, two of our good friends who at some point had worked with Steve at another bike shop, came over, helped get food ready.  For the next three hours, we ate steak, tuna, potatoes, corn and salad.  Trunkie loved everyone and proceeded to make rounds getting his ears scratched.  After the sixth bottle and we were just before the 10 o'clock hour, everyone split.  And I crashed.

Yesterday was a struggle.  The high of having our first successful cookout at the new digs.  The maintenance to be done to the DiVerge.  The task of diagnosing and evaluating this "tug".....which I attribute to a groin strain.  The panic of realizing I had lost my Giro road helmet and the relief when I learned Craig and Minnie have it.  I had no motivation to do much more than rest and recover.

The DiVerge got a bath.  I did a quick service of the front caliper by extending the pistons out, cleaning them well with soapy water...then lubing them with mineral oil.  Hopefully that solves the sticky piston that has plagued me on EVERY long descent since Apache Trail.

I still want to figure out the creaky drivetrain.  I'm hesitant to tighten the spokes more....outta fear for the carbon rim. 

I lubed that chain that was SO noisy and dry on the long climb out.

I double-checked the derailleur hanger...which needed a minute adjustment.  When I went to stand and kick in the littlest cogs on Sunday, it would skip.  Unnerving, I held the bike up but I expect my stuff to be more reliable than that. 

This morning....I'm good.  I'm rested.  I've researched this "tug" and ruled out hernia (which I've had before almost 10 years ago) but found I still need to rest longer.  I didn't do myself any favors on Copper Basin....but it was fun nonetheless.

Later.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Prescott Gravel...

...is pretty damn fun.  Well, the 44 miles we did yesterday.  The ride was a good time....even if I wasn't feeling it in my lungs.  My legs were "okay" but I wasn't getting them all the oxygen they wanted.  They made it clear by making my lungs feel like underachievers.  The lungs in turn let me heart know that it sucked.  This made my stomach feel kinda bad. 

My legs are assholes.

My asshole is still just that, an asshole.

I thought I would be riding well...but I guess Friday night shenanigans caught up to me.  An impromptu wine-tasting turned into two.  Those led to a quick dinner at a Wendy's ('cause we were in a hurry to get to the next stop).  There was another impromptu wine party with dogs....and people, too.  We split there kinda early, headed home to meet a friend who was spending the night. 

2 am, I'm in bed and feeling a bit wined-out.

6 am, I'm up and drinking coffee.  Still can't shake this "strain" I developed on the Apache Wash SS ride.  I'm sure I'll be fine....but it's not comfortable.  I'm anxious to figure it out.  Still, I wanna ride so Meghan and I load up and head for McDowell.

Only to realize she forgot her shoes.

She buys shoes at a local shop.  We head back to McDowell.  I wanna try out the Diverge before Prescoot.  I roll out, feel pretty good...roll harder.  Hang with Meghan til my excitedness is too much and I hit it.

Steady Zone 3, I tell myself....then I spy the guy in the Mark Taylor kit.  I keep my pace....although I am touching Zone 4.  Pass the dude and speak to him.  Doesn't turn his head, doesn't acknowledge I exist.  I pedal on.

Now I'm diggin' a bit more and my legs are feeling good.  Zone 4 isn't a problem at all so....why not go faster?  I'm catching random people and meeting folks as well.  One dude on an old mountain bike insists he needs the center line, I roll right, hit some deeper loose stuff....go sideways and gather it up. 

Keep that tidbit in mind.  Revenge is fun!

Anyways, I'm now touching Zone 5 and feeling pretty spry.  My left leg does have an "ache" but it fades and comes back in intervals.  I just feel good.  Wine does that, I suppose.

Reach the top, turn around and head down to meet Meghan who is also having a good day.  I follow her out, we rest, get cold and roll down Delsie.
Delsie is a fun trail to just "roll".  I figure why not kick it to the top and once it hits the super long downhill, coast.  No pedaling.  Pump berms, rail corners, avoid the brakes...and just roll.

I'm doing pretty well.  The front end goes loose once but not for long.  If I'd choose better lines I'd have less issue.  I start to focus on lines.

I'm focusing down the trail when who do I see?  Old Mountain Bike with Narrow Bars Dude.  I intentionally take the center and push a little wider.  I'm gonna be THAT asshole...outta revenge.  Silly, yes.  Rewarding, mildly.

"blahblah HALF blah"....is all I hear.  "Fuck off and learn to share the trail, asshole"...is all I respond.  Yea, not my finest moment...but I really, really get tired of the entitled attitudes of riders at McDowell.

Anyways, back to the truck, head out to find food.  Soon we're back home....where I promptly pass out on the lounge chairs in the backyard.  Kinda strange to be so worn out after only a one hour ride.

AM comes and I'm up at 5:45.  I feel good but not spry by any means.  Friday night has caught up to me.  I eat some yogurt & GWARnola, drink a bit of coffee and wait for Josh to show.

He's at the house on time and we roll out.  We'll get there early which is fine by me.  In fact we're the first bikes there.  Unload, suit up.  It's gonna be warm but not bad.  More people are slowly rolling in...and soon the few has turned into ALOT!  38 people are gonna pedal this route today.

I'm not really noticing how I feel.  I'm a bit tired but good.  I have confidence my legs will come around especially after yesterday's rip at McDowell.  I had found the small piece of the brake puzzle I was missing (an adjustment screw that was way too out of adjustment).  NOW I know I have great brakes...in the rear at least.

Steve and the rest of the crowd from Sabino are here.  Lots of other shops are represented.  Lots of groups.  Lots of solo folks with no affiliation other than they like riding gravel.  Eventually the chaos is called to order, directions and instructions are given.  Then we file out.

More later.

Friday, March 31, 2017

No Facebook Weekend...

...is gonna be a thing, mine anyways, starting now.  I just don't wanna hear the gossip, sad tales and lamenting Mike Hall's death anymore.  LOTS of people take news like that harder than I do.  Some have to turn into being about them.  Some have to make sure others know it affected them.  I don't care about how those people feel.  All I know is Mike is dead, his wife, mom and family are all a bit empty today....and the endurance cycling world lost a hero.

Yea, I'm being callous to other people's emotions.  I always have been that person who mourns and moves on quicker than others.  The fact of the matter is life goes on.  That's just the way I see it.  I've felt the intense rush of sorrow as you see a person die in front of your eyes.  I don't block it out -  just know that dragging it along much further is pointless.  Unless you want to share your sorrow.  And I usually don't.

I still remember when Tom C was killed....in 07' maybe.  We, a group of 8 riders attending a relay race in northwestern NC along with our support crew, had been racing pretty hard (for amateurs) all day.  I finished my solo stage, a rolling almost-mountain-bike-trail-esque batch of roads and now Kyle and I were shuttling to the endpoint of the next stage.  Tom and Tim J were duo-ing this stage.  There may have been one in between...can't remember.

Anyways, we top a knoll and there is Tim in the middle of the road, red-faced and crying.  He blurts out something and I know it's bad.  Tom is dead.  He'd overcooked a FAST 50+ mph corner, hit the guardrail....and the gory details aren't relevant.

I didn't cry in earnest til I had to tell my Mom.  I had called to tell em' what happened and I fell the fuck apart.  She didn't recognize my voice at all I was blubbering so hard.  I did gain some composure as I paced up and and down that side street in Blowing Rock.  I remember Tom's wife's screams when they broke the news.  I was standing a few hundred yards away.

After my breakdown, I was done.  It was business.  We had vehicles to get back to King, NC.  There were funerals.  There were friends who needed attention...but I'll admit I wasn't the most compassionate.

At the funeral, Deborah wanted to be the "ringleader" and had her husband come tell me to not go in to meet the family until everyone else was there.  Like most orders she blurted it didn't make sense and I ignored it really.  I wa there with my parents and they didn't want to wait any longer.  Besides I knew the others wouldn't show up until much later.  Punctuality was not their strong suit.  Deborah was thinking of Tom's wife (supposedly) and wanted "the group" to go in together.  Well, I didn't see the point so we stayed in line.  Tom's wife could have cared less, group or solo.  She thanked me, we spoke to the crew that had just rolled in...and left.

Tom and I weren't close - we'd talked....and we'd also butted heads.  He coddled Deborah whereas I was blunt and honest when she asked questions of me.  I was the one who told her to try mountain biking if she wanted to improve her handling skills.  Tom disagreed.  He and I had an argument during a ride one day when he decided to bark orders contrary to the route I had planned.  When I called him out, he was embarassed and pissed.  I never apologized.  I can't say I felt (or feel) any remorse even after his death.  I wasn't in the wrong....but I had hurt his pride.

The group of riders that took on that event disbanded eventually.  Deborah went on to find other mentors in the local area, began racing and spent her time elsewhere.  Kyle was freaked out....he really just stopped shortly after.  Tim was freaked out as well, rightfully so.  He tried to ride but mentally didn't have the motivation.  Jerry was having health issues anyway and he just kinda disappeared.  Alan split, too.  He had family matters to handle, work issues....life became too much.

Me....I moved on.  I had just became friends with Mike B.  I remember calling him on the way to King from Blowing Rock.  The conversation went kinda like this:

"What's up man?  How was the race?"
"Well, Tom crashed and died...went into a corner too fast, clipped a guardrail.  Pretty rotten."
"Damn.  You okay?"
"Yea.  What did you ride today?"

I was well on my way to blocking it out.  Or just moving on.  Call me stoic.  Call me callous or heartless.  Whatever.  It's not that I don't feel the emotions.  I do.  But I don't relish in them....and I sure as fuck don't relish the attention of misery. 

I prefer balance in life.  Tom's death upset the balance that day.  I guess part of my lack of compassion was fueled by being pissed that the race was over, the entry fee was gone.  And all because he wanted to prove he could hit the highest top speed.  He'd already made two attempts on the same while, both at 50+....and exclaimed he wanted to see 55 mph.  He didn't.



Anyways, as much sadness as I feel for Mike Hall and his family, I don't want to "hear" or read the tales of "how he affected me".  If that is YOU, keep it to yourself, cherish that gift...but most of all, give it more than lip service....or a status update.  Ride your bike long.  Say, "fuck the cars....I'm riding" and take the chance.  Or not.  Hug your wife, mom, kids, dogs.  I'm going to.

Later.




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Why I don't ride early...

...has become clear lately.  I enjoy the other stuff in the morning more, like:

  1. Not being in PHX traffic.  My plan this AM was to head to Apache Wash to ride the Juice once more before it gets the teardown/rebuild it's needed for....6 months maybe?  The fork hasn't been touched in over 2 years.  The chain has stretched WELL past acceptable...but considering all my favorite cogs are worn to match, I'm reluctant (still) to replace it....'cause a new chain may be cheap, more cogs will be expensiver.  Anyways, after driving to Nawth Scottdell y'day to meet our potential new pups, I realized why I ride so often from home.  A drive that would have been over in 20 minutes any other time of the day took 50 minutes 'cause....PHX.  I'm putting off the drive 'cause I can.
  2. Coffee.  I like coffee.  I like drinking my coffee while walking my dog.  I like what coffee does to me inside so that (sometimes) my insides say, "all clear" before I ever leave.
  3. Artwork...or work.  I like to "take care of business" early usually.  That's how I was half the time when I was all-professional back in the day.  Either 100% of the work got done first....or 100% of the work got done last.  I don't like starting and stopping in the middle of something....and most of my work doesn't work well with that.
Don't get me wrong - I know that soon if I want to ride, I gotta get up early.  PHX is hotter than Mesa is hotter than Tucson is hotter than Stokes County.  I miss (sometimes) the late afternoon rides that were easy to get in in NC.  The Lewisville rides from the Square at 5 or 6 (can't recall right now) were something to look forward to.  It's kinda the opposite here with the PM swapped for an AM.

I did do one of my first early EARLY AM rides in awhile y'day.  Meghan has more time now that the sun is up before 6.  We jumped out, did a few hills....got in a good hour of pedaling.  If struggling along is good.

My left IT band was barking.  My HR wouldn't climb for shit.  I think my max the whole ride was 138 bpm.  I was just tired but I pushed through and by the end, I felt much better....and the IT band issue kinda took care of itself.

So, yep...I'll put in some "work" later on the bike, hopefully about 2 1/2 hours on the Juice, kicking and stomping at Apache Wash.  Tomorrow, Meghan and I will do another early ride....just flat spinning.  Saturday, I'll check over the Diverge at McDowell.  Sunday....is the Prescott Premier Gravel Loop Ride.  Organized by the same folks who put on Chino, it should be fun.  A few folks are coming up from Tucson so it'll be a fun crowd.

Another weekend, another batch of rides.  Later.