The Weekly Update

It’s somewhat difficult to formulate a single train of thought blog post with so many things happening at once, so quickly. Over the last week, I’ve been super busy at the shop, overhauling suspension parts, building bikes, and fixing whatever else walks through the door. Words of advice- don’t get your hand meat caught in the slide on the bearing puller

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Also, Fox forks will randomly break… well before you reach the 50 in-lb torque spec

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In shop stuff that doesn’t suck, I tried out a new XTR drivetrain on a SRAM 10-42 cassette.

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The shifting was OK. Not perfect, though I attribute that in large part to the cassette’s ~2yrs of prior use. I think that the 10t and the 42t are what set SRAM 1x drivetrains apart from anything else, but I love the ergonomics and function of the Shimano shifter, so I’d love to try it out with a new 10-42 and see if it’s what I’m hoping for.

After building the XTR11 bike, the winter shop staff/Enduro kids showed up. They invited me to ride Golden Gate Canyon with them, and we managed to find both nice views and all of the trails that still had a snow pack on top of them. It was a nice, laid-back time that included peanut butter sandwiches and yoga. Only in Colorado can you find 21 year old college bros who can execute “tree pose” on top of a rock while holding a sandwich in one hand.

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Through working on everyone’s bikes, Indy and I have both made some new friends

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Indy and Agnus played until they were both pretty exhausted. Once we were back at home, Indy passed out hard

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Sunday, Ky (from the pic above) and Shane (from the 92Fifty team) invited me to ride with them at a place north of Boulder called Devil’s Backbone. It was a pretty great day of riding and whatnot. Both scenery and company were excellent.

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Afterward, they took me to a place called Georgia Boys to sample Colorado’s interpretation of Southern barbecue. It was slightly less greasy, and I’m pretty sure the collards lacked any hog jowl, but for a place far flung from its roots, it does a good job.

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Yesterday, I planned my own epic solo ride. It was a little overly ambitious… but that’s generally true of some of the best rides. I rode to a place about 12 miles away called White Ranch Open Space. It was… interesting. I’m not really in to trails so steep and used that they necessitate the installation of hundred of water bars, and that’s mostly what this place was.

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It had its high points, though.

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I managed to clean all of the roots and rocks going uphill to the spot in the above pic. By that point, I was so out or breath that I was slightly dizzy.

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The descent in this pic was very rowdy and very fun:

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From there, I headed back towards home, but detoured through Golden Gate Canyon state park. From where I entered the park (~7400ft elevation), it’s almost all climbing up to where I exited (~10k ft) and headed home. Grand total for the day was just over 6000 feet. I’m not usually one to pay a lot of attention to amount of climbing in a ride, but jeez, that wore me out. I felt very much like this:

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Back at the house, I scavenged the pantry and found a bag of pre-cooked/seasoned brown rice and quinoa. I heated it up with leftover easter ham, broccoli, and then put some ranch dip on top. It tasted way better than it looks, I promise.

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I still feel like this guy every time I go up hill

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Today is the last nice day we’ll have for a while.

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While the Weather Channel is only predicting 1-2″ total, I was in a place called Dot’s Diner this morning (after yoga in Nederland) and an older mountain man named Smith told me that it’s highly possible that we’ll have feet of snow. Possible enough, in fact, that he and the waitress discussed how they were getting a few days’ worth of groceries in preparation. Seeing as this place didn’t bat an eyelash at the last 4-6″ that came through (which would have shut Memphis down for 3 days), hearing locals talk about snow-prep makes me think it’s time to batten down hatches and break out the fat bike. Dot’s is a unique little local place, and it was full of older mountain people sharing gossip over coffee and waffles.

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P.S. The biscuit at Dot’s is homemade and the size of three normal biscuits. I ate nearly everything, because I had post back-to-back big ride hunger that was potentially insatiable otherwise

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The Great Snow Adventure

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky”

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This quote from Buddha summarizes my time in The West so far. No one’s life is perfect. No matter how much they make it seem like it through social media and/or social interaction, there’s always some sort of struggle or strife or difficulty. However, there are moments that are absolutely perfect. I’ve taken to engulfing myself in every single one of them.

Sunday after morning yoga (I found a cool studio in Nederland about 20 minutes away), I scoured Google Maps, took some screen shots for later reference, and headed out on a county road that, according to everyone, would, at some point, be covered in snow. I’d never seen a road covered in snow, so I wanted to go to there (Apex Valley Road, going up Dakota Hill, for you local-types).

Most of the way up, the road was dry and in great shape

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Near the top, the road begins to steepen and switchback. There’s a gate that looks as if it’s used to block traffic when the road is snowed in, and it was open. I was passed by a couple of jeeps along the way. As I neared the summit, one of the jeeps was returning. The driver waved at me and said something about turning around at where the road ends at a tower. I knew from the map that the road shouldn’t end, and I knew from scouting Google Earth that there was an offshoot (that wasn’t on the official road map) that would take you to a radio tower from the final switchback. Hmmm…

I continued up, and noticed that the “clear” road straight ahead wasn’t on my garmin map. The road on my map seemed to switchback sharply to the left, where there was no immediately visible road. It literally took me a minute of head scratching and wandering to realize that the 2-3ft tall snowbank to my left was, indeed, the “road” I was looking for. I took this picture from the “corner” of the switchback. On the left, where I came from, and, on the right, where I was going.

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I was pretty giddy at that point. I took a few photos as I hiked and pushed and carried my bike.

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I finally reached the top.

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At that point, the “road” went downhill somewhat steeply (reference the top photo). It was enough of a grade that I dropped my seatpost and coasted down with my feet stuck out wide as outriggers as I drifted side to side. I laughed a lot.

It eventually leveled out a little and I had to hike some more.

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At one point, I thought that the hiking portion of my journey was over

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But then the trail circled more to the north side of the hill, and I walked some more. The snow at that elevation had occasional spots where I’d step and fall through to the bottom, leaving me thigh-deep with my bike on top of me a handful of times.

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I got kind of lost after that. I passed an intersection that was on my Garmin but (unbeknownst to me) not on my map screenshots. I went under a gate that I thought was another “road closed for snow” gate, but then passed a compound-like set of cabins and large tents. Luckily, no one was there, because the next two gates I went under before I reached the main road had large “No Trespassing” signs on the front sides of them (the top one hadn’t had any sort of private property/no trespassing markers). I hightailed it out of there and descended to the highway to get back home. It was only 26 miles, but had taken over 4 hours and included just over 4k feet of climbing (and no telling how much hiking/pushing).

It was exactly the type of adventure I’d been looking for. To top it off even further, when I arrived back at the house, there were Easter Dinner leftovers still warm on the counter. I ate large quantities of food then Indy and I laid back in the Elevated Legs in the RV bed with a sleeve of marshmallow Peeps and my Colorado Trail Databook. I can’t think of many more perfect days than that.

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First Week in Colorado

First things first- The Land Run 100 Race Reports are on Mountain Bike Radio now! I’d suggest listening to both episodes, but if you’re just wanting to hear my account of the race, click on “Part 2” on this page: http://www.mountainbikeradio.com/just-riding-along/land-run/

As I mentioned in my previous post, I packed many of my belongings (including little old Indy) in my car (and a little in my parents’ car) and headed across the country. We spent the night in Hays, Kansas before making the final push to Black Hawk (or, more accurately, a little ways north of Black Hawk).

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I spent most of Tuesday dealing with unpacking and worked part of the day at the shop on Wednesday. The biggest accomplishment was likely cleaning the bathroom. Someone had washed parts in the shower and the floor was covered in tubeless sealant. I’m happy to say, it no longer looks like you’ll come out of it dirtier than when you entered. It also snowed Tuesday night and parts of Wednesday… a volume of snow large enough to shut down Memphis, but was barely acknowledged by locals.

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Indy paced the shop floor until he fell asleep by the door. I moved his bed there so he’d be comfy.

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He’s making friends with everyone around the house.

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Wednesday evening, I packed what I needed for Moab and, before sunrise Thursday morning, we were on the road in the 92Fifty/Elevated Legs Sprinter Van heading west. The scenery… holy crap. We went from passing feet of snow on Vail Pass to the vast desert-ish area around Moab in just a handful of hours.

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Indy travels in his crate, so Duke was happy to keep the bed warm on the trip out.

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That afternoon, after setting up a group camp site, we went for a quick ride on a trail called Pipe Dream.

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…supposedly one of the easier trails, yet I managed to fall off of the trail and somersault into some rocks. Oops.

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That thing is still swollen & achy.

The next day, we rode up to the upper end of the Porcupine Rim trail. It was a long and gorgeous climb. The whole way up, you watch the La Sal mountains getting closer and closer as you ascend.

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Last stop before you get on the trail:

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The trail is a relentless one. It’s nearly constant rocks and rock drops. I rode a lot of it. I walked some of it. I wrecked once more on the same knee and cursed profusely.

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Back at camp, the vibe was pretty amazing. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and kind, and I made a bunch of new friends.

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I was excited to go to bed at night because of the view I’d have when I woke up in the morning.

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Saturday, I hopped in with a group of ladies to ride the Hymasa, Amasa, and Captain Ahab trails. I’ve never really had the chance to ride with a group of like-minded women. I’ve always been a bit of an outlier amongst my Memphis peers (with the exception of Laureen Coffelt, but since we race each other on the reg, we’ve never really made attempts to train with one another), so it means that I am on my own or with the guys most of the time. The ladies here were amazing. We pushed each other, cheered for each other, took photos, and basically had an awesome “LESS YAPPIN, MORE BRAPPIN” time, punctuated with high fives and fist bumps.

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Photos of the other ladies on the same rocks are loaded on the 92Fifty Facebook Page.

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Sunday morning, we packed up camp and I went out with the ladies again to the Mag 7 trails. It got kinda warm out there. I love the dry desert air, because the breeze actually cools you off.

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It was a great way to wrap up the trip before piling back into the Sprinter and heading back east.

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Monday, I worked a full day at the shop before clocking out and recording the first remote episode of JRA. I used my $20 truckstop headphones w/a mic, and the cord needed some guidance to keep the mic closer to my face.

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It’s been amazing so far. Coming from Memphis,  I feel a huge sense of awe and appreciation for how amazing this place is.

 

Old Phone Throwback

I was doing factory resets on a couple of old phones yesterday, and I found a few 2010-ish photos on one of them. So, in honor of the hokey internet tradition of “Throwback Thursday,” here’s my collection of random flip phone photos:

That time that Matt R. passed out and we drew on him with a dry-erase marker. We thought we were being super nice by using non-permanent ink.

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He’s a Doctor of Physical Therapy now. We’re all pretty proud.

Next, there’s Amanda Carey smoking a peace pipe (irony) after she won the Mohican 100. That’s the year that I blew up my drivetrain twice and DNF’d. I also cracked my Air 9 (scandium) frame… which led me into the awesome world of singlespeeding.

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Speaking of Singlespeeding, that summer, I went to Colorado for the first time. I raced Marathon Nationals (my first singlespeed race) and won a bronze medal, then raced the Breck 100 (first singlespeed 100) and was the only SS female to finish (but not the only one to start).

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The Breck pump track was good times.

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In between those two races, I raced my first (and only) Super D (won my age group and was 2nd overall) and met my future coach (dude on the far end of the chair) and got to giggle at Deejay blasting downhill on a Jet9 and ringing his bike bell at dudes in full DH kit on huge bikes.

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I fell in love with this…

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Going further back (I had that phone for a while)- My first time in Mountain View, AR. It was actually in June of 2009 (I told you this would be a random list). How I got there? I’d gone to Lake Sylvia to ride gravel. I accidentally poked a hole in the oil pan of my car. My parents happened to be in Arkansas looking at cabins, so they came and rescued me and my bike. I rode some gravel from the place where we stayed and was chased by many dogs.

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I found pics of Thor, the smartest/worst cat ever, when he was a baby:

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And, a reminder of one of my least-favorite mountain bike wrecks when I hit my face on a tree at Herb Parson’s lake.

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I’d taken the pictures trailside because I couldn’t figure out what was bleeding.

So, there’s my little trip through memory lane. Some of you who are newer readers may enjoy checking out the whole stories I linked to. I know I enjoyed them thoroughly.

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Finally Snow (not sleet) Days

Last week, we had what’s hopefully the crux of our winter weather in the South. Overnight and well into the morning hours, we received a swath of sleet followed by 4-5 inches of snow. Indy was not amused when he got up for his 5am potty…

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Though the windchill was somewhere near 20 degrees, Ryan, Matt, and I went out for a snow ride. It was somewhat precarious at times. Any place that cars had driven on the road, the snow had packed down into icy ruts. However, we were able to make it safely out to Shelby Farms. Any place where the ground surface was gravel or pavement was pretty easy to ride on. The slow-going parts were the dirt, which was still soft and muddy beneath the snow  in any low-lying areas because of warm monsoons the previous days. Flat pedals were a smart idea.

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What would normally have taken about an hour to ride ended up taking a surprisingly strenuous 2.5 hours. The rest of the day was spent hiding under blankets and watching season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter.

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The next day was a gorgeous Colorado-esque scene of snow/bluebird skies. Ryan decided to go in to work (as opposed to working from home the previous day), so Matt and I, in lieu of being stir-crazy, went out for a snow walk (the road conditions were worse for riding, and the ground under the snow was still too soaked for a good off-road ride). At the park near the house, I practiced snow-jitsu and rolled a gigantic snowball until it became nearly too heavy to move.

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Total snow-rookie move? I got sunburned pretty bad on my face. At least I was wearing some good, dark glasses.

Now, it’s mild and damp. I don’t think I’ve seen the sun since I took these pictures. It’s just been ~50-60 degrees and raining most of the time. To put this winter’s terrible weather in perspective, the trails have been too wet to ride since Valentine’s Day, and there’s no dry end in sight. They’re totally saturated now, and it’s still intermittently rainy.

Matt, John, and I went to Herb Parson’s Lake last week before the snow and did some draining/repair on a couple of miles of trail, but the effort might be akin to using an icepick to break apart a glacier.

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Ruts like the ones above were on the length of the entire trail (not just in the low spots… I’m talking the entire section of trail that we walked). At least a couple of people had said “eff it” and ridden despite the ground saturation. Our turnaround point was this culvert, which had become blocked with leaves, forcing the water over the top and washing away the surface dirt.

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We unblocked the flow and dug a downstream hole to re-cover the pipes.

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Hopefully the areas we repaired are OK. There were a couple of groups of riders who went to the trail on the snow day. Given the sogginess of what we briefly rode at Shelby Farms, it’s possible that the wet mud repairs we made were tracked through. It’s also possible that the ground was a little more frozen at the lake than what we found in town. Hoping for the latter.

 

Santos Vacation 2015

Oh gawd, it’s been forever since I posted something. Partially because of the trip I’m about to write up, and partially because I’ve been busy doing all sorts of random things with dogs and my car, which are both in various states of sickness.

If you’ve been reading along, you saw that I recently had to deal with Turbo, my 13 year old Belgian Malinois, nearly dying from side effects of the onset of heart failure. She’s stable and happy now, but the cost of emergency and follow-up care vaporized the budget I’d set aside in my mind for taking a foul weather-escaping trip to the Santos Trails in Florida. Then, Wednesday night last week, I was at my parents’ house when I mentioned how bad the weather was going to be (again) and, while I was glad Turbo was doing ok, I really needed some long training hours that I just wasn’t going to gut out in the slush here in Memphis.

My mom said she’d like to go to Florida. I took her up on it, and, early Friday morning, we were literally outrunning a sleet storm to get ourselves down to Ocala.

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Saturday, I had to make morning trip to Target to cheaply replace the hydration pack I’d left at home (again).

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Once I hit the trail, I rode out and back along some of the OMBA Epic Ride route. The best maps I’ve been able to find are on this page, though none of them show 100% of what’s there. I stopped along the way to visit folks racing the Santos 12 hour. I was slightly tempted to race, but glad decided to just go out and have fun instead. I found Dicky immediately following his discovery that he and his teammate were in a podium spot and actually had to concentrate on racing.

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I also saw some old school components

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I quickly discovered that the trail was covered in a much-thicker-than-last-year layer of fallen live oak leaves.

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They’re super slick, so the turns were occasionally treacherous. Live oak trees are some of the most beautiful living things on the planet, though, so they’re totally worth the leaf surfing. I sort of hate posting pictures of them, because a camera phone doesn’t come close to capturing their enormity.

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By the time I made it back through the race course area, I was out of water. I stopped and wanted to beg for some in the pits, but everyone was somehow distracted by racing or partying, so I just took this picture and left.

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I made it a point to reserve a nice room with a kitchen so that I could cook healthy meals for my mom and myself. Meal #1 was steak and broccoli (I added some bread toasted with olive oil for a few extra carbs).

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Sunday’s adventure started with a little sightseeing. We drove west a ways and checked out the Gulf of Mexico.

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Since I didn’t want to ride as long that day, I had my mom drop me off at the far west end of the trail system at the Pruitt trailhead. I found out from this scenic spot where the trailhead gets its name:

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I had calculated that my ride would take around 3 hours, so I drew directions on a map for my mom and told her I’d be at the east end of the trail around 3:30. My plan was to have her pick me up at the Greenway Bikes shop. When I arrived, it was exactly 3:30, and I went inside to purchase a beer and sat around enjoying the sun and waiting on my mom.

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My mom proceeded to get very lost while she tried to find the shop. The shop closed at 4, though one of the shop guys stuck around until 4:30 because he was trying to be nice. I shooed him off and found a shady spot. Around 5:something, the shop owner, Dano, pulled up. We chatted some, and he was nice, though, he asked me where I was from and where I was staying and why I was waiting around at least three different times. He offered to split a Victory V12 with me, so I didn’t stress his apparent lack of sobriety too hard.

My mom eventually found the shop. Dano was still there, and, in the course of his repeated asking of where are you from/where are you staying/where are you going to dinner tonight, my mom, being the proper Southern woman that she is, though obviously a little uncomfortable dealing with someone who was less than sober, asked him, “where are you from?” He replied back with a crude answer about his mother’s anatomy… to my sweet, proper, Southern, 70ish year-old mom.

Given the absolute absurdity of the situation, I found it to be pretty hilarious at the time, though, looking back, I somewhat regret not losing my shit with the dude and telling him to apologize for being an ass.

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Needless to say, if you’re at Santos, keep your moms away from Greenway Bikes.

At least the beer was good.

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That night, we had chicken thighs and green beans with a spicy mustard & yogurt sauce (the sauce was my mom’s idea).

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I was stoked that I’d picked up a little vitamin D while I was out.

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My third and final day was the long one. Since I’d stopped for photos and navigation on the previous days, I decided that I’d only stop once an hour for a food break (the Target pack didn’t have hip pockets, so I had to take it off of my back to get to my food). I rode to the far end of the trail system and back- approximately 32 miles out and 23 miles back. I did stop to take a look at this guy along the way:

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I also stopped when I wrecked at mile 52.5 of 54.5. Leaf surfing is only one mph away from leaf teleporting. Back at the trailhead, I ate a snack and cooled off a bit. I still had a good bit of daylight, so I wanted to go back out and ride a lap of the Vortex Loop- the tech loop a couple of miles from the main trailhead.

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While I was trying to figure out where the loop started, I met Tim, the owner of Spokes mobile bike shop. We chatted a bunch and he showed me a lap of the trail. I like the bermy fast stuff that makes up 98% of the trails at Santos, but the Vortex loop feels a little like Arkansas. Tim and I made a hot lap and headed back to the main trailhead. I ended up with nearly 6 hours of riding for the day… a great way to finish off the 3-day vacation.

Outside of Florida, the South wasn’t doing so well.

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I wished that we could have stayed there way longer. The sun and opportinity to train hard on fun trails temporarily hoisted me up from my baseline of mild depression, so it was a mental vacation as much as it was a physical one.

The weather in Memphis is still pretty terrible (as it is most places that aren’t Florida). I’ve only ridden once since I came back, though I’ll probably hit the trainer this morning before going to an inversion workshop at Pike Yoga.

The light at the end of my cold, dark tunnel?

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We’d originally discussed my Colorado sabbatical beginning the first week of April. However, Jon Davis (owner of 92Fifty), scheduled the 92Fifty Moab camp for March 26th-29th, and he wants me there A)because they need a mechanic to work on participant bikes, and B)it will give me a chance to meet and bond with the people who come to the shop most often.

That’s not to say it won’t be cold when we return to the mountains after camp, but the sun is bright there, so I don’t think it will be too bad.

Adventuring in the Covington Pike Bottoms

The weather in Memphis has been totally normal this week… that is to say, we rode in short sleeves on Saturday, and on Monday, we awoke to piles of sleet on the ground.

Sticking with our theme of being bored with the same trails (and knowing that since the weather was great on Saturday that those same trails would be packed), Matt and I struck out to explore what local cyclists call the “Epic” trails. More often, they’re referred to as the Covington Pike Bottoms, and they’re equally as popular for ATV pilots as our usual Shelby Farms trails are for runners, hikers, and cyclists. It’s basically a bunch of tracks through the woods along the south side of the Wolf River (and, as you venture westward, crossing to the north and continuing on towards the Mississippi). They stay incredibly muddy year round because of the ATV traffic, though when it hasn’t rained for a couple of weeks, you can pick your way around the bogs and have a pretty nice adventure.

As of Saturday, it was very slow going- the ratio of good riding to “picking around wheel-deep mudholes” was about equal. A summer drought is normally your best chance for a higher ratio of riding-to-bogging. We still had a good out and back adventure, though… occasionally stopping to watch ATV drivers and whatnot.

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On the way back, we were stopped at a neighborhood trail entrance by the Memphis Police. More accurately, two cops were arresting ATV drivers as they emerged from the woods and into a neighborhood where the residents were fed up with loud, somewhat drunken jackasses going 50mph up the street and slinging mud all over the place. One cop told us to get on someplace else because they were going to go in and get more people out. We found a suitable detour, though, and stopped to make friends with people we met along the trail back to where we’d started.

As is customary for all weekend blog posts, we met with friends to watch the UFC Fight Night at El Toro Loco. Matt made a matching shirt buddy while Torian and I made fun of individuals who exemplified our respective racial stereotypes.

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Sunday the weather transitioned from nice to arctic-ish. People battened down the hatches in preparation for a winter storm that would eventually dump several inches of sleet across Tennessee. We took an evening adventure to WalMart and speculated a purchase of a fatbike, but decided against it. It was an entertaining trip, nonetheless.

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Screw the milk, bread, and batteries…

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The storm system didn’t disappoint, if it was buckets of sleet you were dreaming about.

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I was happy to have a chance to test out my all wheel drive vehicle

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High quality entertainment right there.

I was tempted a couple of times to go ride, but ended up deciding against it because A) in order to not get hit by a stupid driver, you’d need to drive to a trail to ride, and B) it’s solid ice… not snow. It’d be like riding on a rutted hockey rink. I’ll stick to trainer rides and donut-ing my car in parking lots.

Rides and Dog-Kid Problems

The thought of leaving a “new” trail unexplored was too much to bear, so on Wednesday, Matt and I met John on the Wolf River Trail and adventured our way back out to find the end of the Nutbush Highway (see previous posts). After some sidewalk riding and light bushwhacking, we did, indeed reach our goal.

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(If you don’t recognize it, that’s the bridge that I was monkey-ing around on in my last post).

It seems as though the Nutbush Highway ends at JFK Park, though we didn’t fully explore all corners of possible exits because John needed to get going. One more trip may be in order. The woods along the Wolf River get severely squished near the next main road to the west, so it’s highly likely that we found what’s at least very close to the end.

Views from the ride back…

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Matt and I dropped John off at his car and continued riding. The magic of the day continued when I found that my sample-size 4-pack of Gu Chomps was a 7-pack (I’d already eaten one when I realized my long-ride miracle and took the photo)

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The goal of the day was to go longer than 4 hours, but be home by 5:30. Our adventure took us towards Grey’s Creek. The trail out that way in in great shape right now.

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We ended up with a little over 5 hours, and celebrated with a trip to the Chinese Buffet. They’ve got a “Mongolian BBQ” station where you can get vegetables and meat cooked together while you wait, so it’s pretty great.

Then, things took an unexpected turn…

We came home and let the dogs out like normal. After they came back in, I immediately noticed that Turbo, my 13-year-old Belgian Malinois, was breathing funny and looked a little freaked out. My dog-mom intuition said that this was bad… real bad. Within a few minutes, we were at a nearby emergency/overnight clinic.

Turbo’s heart rate was in the 220-240bpm range (normal for a stressed out dog at the vet is around 140), an arrhythmia caused by a gross enlargement of the heart muscle. Also, the portion of her right lung that was weakened by her previous bout with pneumonia was collapsed. There was a very real chance that if they didn’t get her heart rate down and stable that she’d go into cardiac arrest. It was bad enough that the vet gave me the advanced directive paperwork to sign…that was tough.

The treatment plan was to stabilize and monitor her overnight so that the underlying cause of her issues could be determined. There are effective drug treatments for some dogs with heart disease. There are also some things that could have been going on- like a tumor, that aren’t treatable. We wouldn’t know until an ultrasound the next day.

I spent the next 18 hours or so periodically crying, hoping for the best, and preparing for the worst.

I finally heard back from the vet around 2:30pm yesterday, and he said that she was suffering from cardiac myopathy that was causing a cascade of things, one of them being the arrhythmia. The cause is generally unknown (“being old” is basically what it comes down to). The good part- as an otherwise healthy dog, she was a very good candidate for drug therapy, and, though this is eventually going to get worse and untreatable, until then, she’ll have a good quality of life. According to Dr. Abernathy, “If I didn’t have a stethoscope, I’d have no idea that she’s as sick as she is.”

I’m really happy that Turbo gets to stick around a little longer.

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She almost immediately expressed her happiness with being back home by tearing in to a bag of oatmeal from the pantry while I was in the garage.

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The overnight vet bills mean that I’m going to have to cancel my “Eff this weather, I’m going to Florida” trip that I was tentatively planning according to the forecast for next week:

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I’m pretty OK with that, though.

 

 

More Bikes and MMA!

Hey, another weekend of riding bikes and doing MMA stuff! I’m OK with this trend…

Matt and I struck out on a “typical” Wolf River Trail ride from the house on Saturday. The only modification we were going to make was a stop off at the U-Haul just off the north end of the trail in order to pick up the coffee mug I’d accidentally left in there earlier that week while they were installing the hitch receiver on the Impreza. After the pickup, we were going to head back south and follow the usual trails back home.

However, once said mug was tucked into Matt’s Osprey pack and we were re-entering the trail, we discovered a 4-wheeler trail continuing north. Sense of adventure kicked in, and we began following it into the unknown. I don’t think that anyone in the general public knows who owns the woods immediately adjacent to the Wolf River, but given the lack of policing of ATV traffic in the area, I don’t think anyone cares. It’s one of those good/bad things about this city- we get the opportunity to go on these sorts of adventures, which is good and exciting. However, the opportunity exists because no one “cares” about that part of town, and the police in the area are far too busy taking care of the (frequent) “real” crimes in the area to worry about trespassers in the woods.

It’s definitely not a place you’d go alone.

We ventured out as far as we could, given our time constraint. We needed to be back at the house in time to finish prepping for some friends to come over and watch the UFC 183 Pay Per View at the house. We’d talked earlier in the week about meeting at a sports bar, but I’d then decided to say “eff it” and buy the event to avoid the crowds and crappy service. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

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Because, at Buffalo Wild Wings, there’s not enough room to imitate Nick Diaz during round one:IMG_6565

You also don’t have couches, blankets, and a chair that’s usable as workout equipment:

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Sunday morning, I awoke to rain. Steady buckets of rain. For reasons only known within the depths of my brain, I felt like suffering. So, I went out on my cyclocross bike and did a 20 minute power test in the rain.

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The power test was alright. I needed the baseline if I am to start adding in some structure to my workouts. It wasn’t my best by far, but also not my worst February 1st numbers, either. The suffering part? Well, it ended up being too warm to suffer. Other than feeling a bit muggy in my jacket while I was going full-gas, I was pretty comfortable.

Suffering, denied.

Later in the afternoon, Matt and I went to watch Torian (from the previous night’s antics) test for his jiujitsu rank. I’d never watched such a thing, so it was interesting to get a feel for how it works (though, according to John, everyone who is capable of ranking/promoting students is different).

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That night, we hung with much of the same crew for a Superbowl party. Also, I rallied the Impreza through some wet gravel in John’s neighborhood, which, though the game and company were good, may have been slightly more exciting. I can’t decide if I should wash the mud off or not. It kinda looks more natural with the dirt splatters all over the front end/windshield.

Syllamo Work/Ride

I don’t have a receiver hitch on my new car yet, so this weekend’s trip was a test of how well my bike fit inside the Impreza. The dropper seatpost made short work of packing:

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That car is entirely too much fun to drive on mountain roads. Years ago in another life, I used to do my fair share of “unsanctioned competitive driving on public roads.” I sold that car (a Honda DelSol with a few modifications, one of which was nitrous oxide), sometime around 2007, and have been driving less sporty vehicles since then. I’ll admit, the Impreza is re-awakening my deeply repressed speed demons.

I packed and left early enough on Friday that I had time to ride most of the Yellow trail Friday afternoon. I’d heard that the Calico Rock prison inmates had worked out there some, and I wanted to see what all was done (last time I was out, the yellow trail was pretty rough still). I found that they’d worked from the north end of the yellow down the easier sections and about a mile in to the longer, more difficult area to the south of Blanchard road. They are cutting a true corridor. It could potentially change the personality of the Syllamo’s Revenge race in May because they’re opening up room to pass in some areas where there previously wasn’t. It looks pretty extreme right now, but within a year, the dynamic nature of the trail will take over, new rocks will grow from the ground, and singletrack will be very single again.

I had just enough time to stop at the overlook and take a few photos.

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Back at the car, I met some guys who were in town for Saturday’s trailwork day. They were getting an early start with a little afternoon clearing (and post-work beering).

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I made it back to the cabin in time to catch the sunset. I don’t know how many of you have sat and watched a sunset from beginning to end, but I’d highly recommend it. The process I watched from the porch involved the “right at sunset” oranges and yellows which, about 10 minutes after the sun disappeared behind the mountains, would give rise to full on golds and reds, which were eventually swallowed up by blue and gray darkness from the east. All you need is a porch, a glass of wine, and a blanket. Give it a shot.

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Saturday morning, a group of 20ish people gathered at the Scrappy Mountain trailhead. We split into two groups, and mine went out to one of the worst sections of the yellow trail for line trimming and major tread repair in an area that (surprise!) was logged off in the past few years and had since become an ongoing problem with overgrowth and erosion. I ran a line trimmer for the better part of 3 hours while others repaired the singletrack-wide and hub-deep washout that had eaten into the exposed tread. Around noon, we stepped back to admire our work and have a brown-bag lunch (ham on white bread… which, at the time was excellent, but was felt in my insides for the next two days).

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Random tandem, built by Frank at the Carbon Repair Shop.

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After lunch, we worked on maintaining a section of bench trail near the parking lot. It was leafblown, and the rocks that had filled in the “bench” were either raked or cut out. I used something that was basically an axe handle with this sort of head-

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…to cut the worst parts of the collapsed bench. I’d swing and chop while a couple of guys followed me with rakes to even out the surface. Then, I accidentally deleted the good photo of the work we’d done. So, you’ll just have to go ride it yourself and admire the blister I procured in the process.

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That evening, the sunset was as beautiful as ever.

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I also finished the puzzle I’d started last time

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Sunday, I’d planned an epic ride. I started out around 11 at the Green/Orange loop trailhead, and rode the Green Trail, then part of the Orange and Blue down to the Highway 5 trailhead- about 10 miles. Then, I realized, at 1 hour and 22 minutes in to my ride, that the pocket of my pack was open, and that there was no iPhone where there should be one. I resigned myself to either walking or riding at 3-4mph back up the trail I’d just come down in hopes that it’d turn up. Three hours later, I was back at the trailhead parking lot without a phone. There were multiple cars there (the Green Loop’s scenery, shortness, and proximity to the main road make it a popular afternoon hike for locals). I started my backtrack, talking to any hiker or biker I saw along the way. Still, no dice.

Then, about a mile and a half in, two ladies were coming towards me while I was walking (with my bike) up a hill, staring at the ground. I asked them if they’d seen a phone, and on of them looked very excited. She asked me to describe it, and, when I told her the case color and that there was a picture of an adorable black and white dog sleeping on the lock screen, she pulled it out of her pack and told me they’d found it right by the parking lot.

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My day was (somewhat) saved. I headed back towards the parking lot. I almost packed up for the day, but then decided to make some happiness watts up Green Mountain Road to check out the parts of the trail we’d fixed the day before. Not exactly the epic I was hoping for, but I was out in the woods for upwards of 5 hours, so there’s that.

Monday morning, I decided I wanted to ride the parts of the trail I’d had to walk the day before. So, I rode the Blue and Orange trails clockwise… in my “expert” opinion, the climb from the Highway 5 Trailhead back up the Blue and then Orange trail is the most difficult climb of the entire system. It’s way harder than the CCW climb up the “staircase” section, because it much steeper and looser. While I was out, I blocked off a go-around on the short but techy “east of Highway 5” section. There were fresh tire tracks on the right side of that tree. You know who you are…

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I ran out of time to do the whole loop, so I finished up on Green Mountain road. I was trying to get a photo of my shadow. None of them turned out very good, but right after I took this one, a bobcat ran across the road in front of me. It’s probably just out of the left of the frame in this one:

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It’s always a little (or a lot) sad to leave the mountains. However, I had to get back to Memphis so we could record this week’s episode of Just Riding Along. Oh yeah- and my Pillar wheels came in. Unfortunately, I broke another damper in my Rockshox SID RCT3 fork, so the bike that the wheels are going on (the Jet9) is now out of commission. I’m hoping that I can finagle a Pike out of the warranty, because the SID obviously wasn’t made to handle what I’m (or lot of others, apparently) are throwing at it. I also start physical therapy for my knee this week. The patellar tendinitis that struck down my winter running hasn’t fully healed itself, and has kept me from doing anything plyometric- like kickboxing or other cross training. So, I’m hoping to finally get that resolved.

In the next day or two, I’ll have an official team/sponsor announcement. Still working out the final kinks so that I can give you all the info you desire.