Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A pair of dice by the dashboard light...SWANK 2007

Props to Dave Chappelle for laying the humor ground work for my adult years. It used to be old school SNL. After Shrek's Donkey left, it has been sub-par in shaping deranged, yet highly creative humorous minds. Thanks be to Jon Belushi, Chevy Chase, Rossana Rossana Dana (Gilda), Jane Curtain, Dan Akroyd, Steve Martin and again Shrek's Donkey.

13th Baby!!!!!!!

Paradise by the dashboard light. We all relate curent nowledge to past experience. This blog entry follows suit. I once had a girlfriend from Nantucket. No. Stop! That's another story all together. I once had a girlfriend who would score poorly on Wayne Brady's sing the lyrics game show. We were listening to the radio or a cassette tape (remember those) and Meatloaf started wailing about mother nature and doing what you can and being barely 17 and being barely dressed (ah those moments!). Anyway, we were singing along and what i heard in her very non church-choir voice was just a few clicks to the left of ON. This girl could floor you with a soul wrenching version of STAND BY YOUR MAN, but Meatloaf, no. It was like Johnny Depp trying to sing King Tut or saying "I'm Gumby Damnit". It didn't work. I turned down the radio and kindly asked her what she was singing. "The words" she replied. Sweet Potato (i'll use this to protect her real name) knew of my ways and she hesiteted to repeat the lyrics she belted out at full blast. Finally, with expert provocation and probably a handful of jelly bellies I convinced her to regirgitate her original lyrics. She distinctly sang "a pair of dice by the dashboard light".

Right then and there I think I peed. I felt a tear trickle down Meatloaf's cheek, just like the Native American in that oh so great PSA for littering. She felt the song, it's gutteral representation of youth and love. She sang it loud and with pure heart but it was just a little off. Intent was there but it wasn't STAND BY YOUR MAN. That's how it was with my SWANK attempt.

Mile 16, cramps. Miles 17 - 40, cramps. Bad nutrution, probably. Prior Thursday night wheat beer fest at West 1st Pizza, probbably. What ever it was, I was a few clicks off of ON. I've raced a few of Todd's races and have been graced by his riding skills (as noted in prior blogs). It's all been rewarding but painful. This race fit the bill.

Earlier I spoke with Cissy about race strategy including the importance of not blowing up in the first 30minutes of a 4-5 hour race. She didn't need race strategy as evidenced by her 4th place finish. I should have taken my own advice. Needing to stay out of the mid-rear pack riff raff, I tried to stay towards the front. It felt great but I was not recovering very well. After an hour or so of back pain, breething hard and general pain, I stopped to leave my scent on the trail via recycled heed and H20. It's amazing what emptying your bladder will do for ya! After my two minute pitstop things improved.

A good groove finally found my legs and I pumped on. Coming back down FS 5003 to the 2nd rest stop, I found a cheering crowd in the name of the Kahne family! What a help that was - to have Shrimper, Bergan and Henry all yelling for me. I was revived and opted to not stop for fluids. I had a fair amount of water in my camelbak but paid dearly on the farlow descent. My bike decided it wasn't stoping until the first big log. We rolled, showed some style to a photographer and stopped for the first log. I dismounted and immediately did a double full-leg cramp. Calf, quad and hams-talk about standing at attention. Major "my bad" goes out to the team BMC rider. I couldn't move out of the way once the cramps hit. He was kind enough to share some of his Cliff Bar drink, which tasted like saltwater, but at that point in time it was exactly what i needed. My cramps stopped and I pointed the front wheel down and let er rip. Through most of the second rock garden we sped. Dismounted a few more times, not wanting additional permanent Farlow tatoos on my body. The too I have are enough - ones mental and the other is on my leg. I continued down and stayed with the fellow from BMC. He was obviously tired of my nervous, cramp induced chatter and sped through the harder sections like a pro. I caught him on a few of the medium hard sections and actually passed him while stepping over a log. Again I overstepped my boundaries and missed the log and stepped right on his pedal. I felt like a royal dork. I apoligized and sped on. Cramps returned full force and Mr. BMC passed me at the bottom of Daniel.

Finally FS 1206 was in sight. Only one climb remaining then a shot down Caney Bottom. I hit the turn to Caney with both legs slightly locking up. I'd gotten used to it. I hit the intersection on the FS road and remembered a great conversation i once had there. Pisgah has a way of holding memories like a picture album...you hit certain spots and the memories flood in.

After a few more agravating cramps and a fun blast to the bottom, i smelled Shrimpers monster burgers and smelled the finish. It was a good day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

No Call Bastards

On my desk sits a home-made upright open file. It was one of the first things I made upon arrival of my first (and only) table saw. The top slot is labeled "no call bastards". Tenacious tele-marketers met their match. Each tele-marketer's call encountered a politely request to "remove me from your list, please" and i would promptly record the company name on my "no call bastards" list in anticipation of filing a complaint with the FCC. I never did file a complaint, but my intent came from a desire to fix a problem and improve my world. The past workday at Dupont had similar intent - desire to fix a problem and improve my world.

It wasn't just my world though. It is everybodys world...anyone with access to Dupont State Forest. I suppose that list is endless with exception of most people on the no fly list or on wanted posters in the almost defunct local snail mail hubs. Trail work is an excellent way to improve cycling friendships in a cycling yet "non-cycling" way. We get to know people on the bike when we ride. I learn bikes first, then names. I put a face with a helmet and a bike. "Oh, the dude on the Santa Cruz with the yellow helmet? or "Yeah, that girl on the huffy with the tassels...on her bars" - you get the point. With trail work, the helmets come off and an alternate side of each person illuminates in the dirt. Side by side we work, shoveling, lifting rocks, hoping Woody doesn't roll down the hill in his mini-dozer, but we add to our cycling relationships, build them stronger as we fix run-offs, erosion and bad design. We communicate using more than hand signals indicating a pile of gravel or yelling "low" to indicate a low hanging branch. Trail workers interact in a more human way than when biking.

It's always weird to see people out of the box you know them in. Like seeing your preacher at the strip club, it's awkward but usually has a good outcome. We all chipped in our time and did some more work on Cedar Rock. We rock armored, built a few jumps and re-routed part of the trail. In return, the state park powers who be allowed us to camp at the Barn.

I didn't arrive until Saturday around noon due to caring for a sick friend (i love playing doctor) and work was already in full force. I grabbed a pulaski and weaseled my way in to the digging groove and acted as if I'd been there all day. I was quickly noticed and put to real work laying out a line over a Volkswagen sized granite slab that was now part of the trail. We debated and stood around like DOT workers and finally picked a line. Clay Rockhound kept snooping for larger boulders and me a sucker for a challenge would help him move the 100+lb rocks from too far away and add to the turn on top of the granite slab. Each new rock caused a snowball of decisions. We moved that dab gone line at least 5 times. I politely slipped into the woods and walked up the hill for different shenanigans.

I found Z Andy working on a nice table top/log ride, Mr. George entertaining the troops with his crisp wit and cynical comments and some other folks I didn't know very well. We all worked a few more hours then left for camp.

Clay, Cissy and I decided to do a quick loop before nightfall. From the barn, we hit Airstrip, Cornholio, Laurel, Mine Mtn., then finished with a post dark/no light jaunt down Airstrip to cap off the night. That's living.

Camping was great. The stars by Bridal Veil were magnificent. It was a great time by the fire, slightly more mellow than hanging with my regular peeps, but relaxing and rewarding none the less. Needless to say, i woke up from a bike trip camping experience without the slightest hint of alcohol induced antibalance-ism-ish-ness. Sweet! We ate breakfast (a kick butt omelet, i must say) and decided our route. Bergan and Henry were ripping around the campsite on their bikes showing us old farts what youth used to be (it just happened to be my birthday so i was feeling it even more than usual). They were ready to roll so we rounded up the remaining posse and hit the trails.

We were representing with age 8 to the late 50's (i thought i heard someone say) and beginner to almost elite level riders. Who woulda thunk that we would all stay together and just have a "fun" ride. Well, it happened. As if my "no call bastards" list actually worked, and the telemarketers stopped calling, our ride was flawless and perfectly grouped and paced. Faster riders waited for slower ones, older faster riders waited for younger slower ones, slower older ones waited for...enough, you get the point. Bergan and Henry were a real inspiration to me. They attacked the trails with such vigor, such zest that it was a fricking blast just watching them enjoy the trail. This was my first ride with youngins and to my surprise it was great. It brought back memories of riding my bike with my Mom and Dad when I was there age. Rubber was just invented so the whole idea of smooth rolling tires was still a novelty, but to see these two kids attack any part of the trail was glorious. Of course when you are seed of two legendary local riders what would you expect?

Gracious was the group. We left the barn and went up cedar rock. The youngins opted for a tow line up the steeper section (i don't think they really needed them). Cissy towed Henry and Noelle towed Bergan. Note Bergan expressing his best compliment to the photographer.

To be a kid again. Oh, wait...I'm only 23! Yeah, that's what i was telling myself all day.

When we arrived up top, everyone was patiently waiting and sharing small talk, laughing, joking and just jiving well. The view rocked. Puns are cool.

After a brief pause, we flew down the new section of trail that we shaped up day prior.

Here is Mr. George and Beefcake pondering the table top jump:

This picture was taken by some girl. I was too flustered to get her name but thanks to Mr. George's calm and collective persuasiveness she seemed interested in talking with the cool mountain biker dudes that we are. We chatted and they talked me into hitting the nice soft, brand new table top jump, with work boots on. Yeah, beast ruffled my better judgement and up the hill i went. Better judgement somehow slid into my numb skull (i guess it comes with birthday #37-also see "skip out early part 2" for example of poor judgement amongst beuty vs. the log). My beter judgement was with me! Wow, a new day has dawned. I hit the jump at about 1/3 speed and per Mr. George "I could have put a bussiness card under your rear tire". My ego shrunk so much i had to re tighten my helmet. Enuf of this "business-card" hang time, I wanted some sky. To hell with better judgement, I just turned 37. I was 36 way longer than I'd been 37 at this point so back up the hill I rode. Work boots, carhart thick jeans and work gloves. I was gonna show this perty girl who the best table top jumper in these here parts was and by golly i was trying to win that perty . I hit the jump with good speed and soared to at least the height of a box of business cards. Man, I felt like da bomb. She had to fall for me now. I rolled back to my audience and they were both now star struck, no doubt. I was the rock star I always wanted to be. I finally got her name.

The entire group made it down to Cornholio/Burnt Mtn. intersecion and we parted ways. A little payoff time for being kind citizens. We hit Burnt Mtn. fast as fire on a So. Cal. beach and regrouped at the river crossing on Cornholio. I led the way across the creek and Clay, Cissy and oodles of others followed my line and made the crossing! A followed line is the utmost compliment a rider can get. So many people made the crossing, I lost count. We went up and did Laurel, Mine Mtn., Reasonover and once again the icing on the cake -Airstrip. Since I was now 37 and was utilizing my newly gained better judgement, I hit the top of Airstrip with zest and finally cleared the elusive table top jump for the first time! How fun. Our trip ended by breaking down camp saying goodbye. My tent was warm, was yours?

More weekend pics:

Monday, November 5, 2007

Skip out on work early, part 2

Part 1 was this past Wednesdays Dupont ride which we started around 2:30. Ok, twice in one week is borderline excessive. Friday rolled around and it was way too nice to stay in. The plan was to meet around noon and hit Pisgah. Cissy and I hit the parking lot a little late but with just enough time to make a quick loop around davidson river trail/long branch/cat gap before we were to meet Noelle at the parking lot. We trucked it up the river trail and i quickly flatted. I changed the flat and proceeded to act like i was not suffering. I'd glance behind me and Cissy was always on my tail just a "grinning" and riding effortlessly. Note the smile and non-painful, relaxed poise on the bike. We hit the loop fast and blasted down cat gap to meet Noelle. The three of us took off for an extension of the first loop. Cissy and Noelle were moving at great speed and chatting as well. The three of us made good time up long branch back towards 475. There are a few fields/camping spots along longbranch that are absolutely beautiful. I spent several moments absorbing the beauty of the forest. It's a refreshing feeling to look up at the sky and see leaves dropping from the tip tops of magnificent poplars and other hardwoods of species that i can never remember. We hit 475 climbed up and dropped to butter gap. I always underestimate the climb to the top of butter gap from fs475. It's not a long climb but there's enough to flatten you out as you salivate in anticipation of the great drop down butter.

One of Pisgah's behind the scenes gurus/local legends (Todd - Mr. ORAMM/SWANK) led me down butter gap a few years ago. He told me that he'd show me the good lines if I'd stay on his wheel. 1st - i was way out of shape to ride with Todd, 2nd - logs scare me and 3rd - Todd is faster than a speeding bullet. I tucked in behind his wheel and stayed there till we dropped by the bridge @ cat gap. This was a descent I'll never forget. With the words of Scottie from the SS Enterprise floating in my rattling brain as I was trying to stay on his wheel, the scenery was zooming by at light speed. I didn't have time to think about falling off logs, broken bones, face vs. tree introductions - i had one thing in my frontal lobe and that was Todd's back wheel. I followed that wheel where ever it went, over every log, rock, drop, root etc. Heck if he would have hucked off the trail on a 30 ft drop, i would have been right there. Thinking never crossed my mind - just pedaling.

At the beginning of the Butter Gap downhill, I always remember aforementioned event. Never will that smoothness be imitated by me again. It was a once in a lifetime ride that will be honored in tradition somewhere in my noggin, in a closet full of other noggin notes. Cissy, Noelle and I hit the downhill and I could hear them on my tail. It was time for a little payback. Sure they could keep my breathing above drool level on the climb but could they match my pucker level attack on this terrain? Noelle was right on my tail. I hit the off camber creek rock and had just enough time to snap a shot of Noelle checking out an alternate route over the rock. You can ask her how it was. On we went. Me feeling a little better about my riding abilities, approaching borderline "showoff level" wavered about riding one of the upper Butter Gap log crossings. My first mistake was wavering. "Obey the rules Luke" (in my best OB-1 inner voice) was going through my head as the log loomed in the distance. I hit the log slowly and sunk my back tire into an open split about 2/3 of the way across. My bike stopped ever so suddenly and i teetered to the left and gracefully exited landing upright on foot. Yay! All is well except for that little 45 degree bend in my rear wheel I noticed as i hopped off. The wheel bent back and with a little green spoke wrenching, it was good enough to ride out. Nothing like wasting a $90 rim on its inaugural voyage. It was my Mavic 317 Titanic. Bon voyage beotch! (it's since been replaced). Now I felt super cool. Two fine female riders, laughing their butts off at my inability to ride the entire log crossing. It's funny because I displayed my coolness and ballsy-ness just by riding the darn thing so it's not a question about ability but since i faltered in the easiest part of the log ride now it's a question of my humility. The ladies were graceful in their laughter and not too scolding. We finished this section of the ride, cat gap and back to the hatchery where Noelle parted ways and Cissy and I decided there was enough light remaining to climb 475 and drop Caney bottom. It was a spectacular fall day with perfect fall light and perfect fall crisp air . Trail and conversation could not have been better. An unending pause before we dropped Caney sealed the deal on the day. It was yet another perfect ride.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wake up time for freedom baby.......

Nov. 1. Scorpios will some day take over the earth. Nothing will get completed but we'll be satisfied and surrounded by creativity.

Wake up time for freedom - from "The Cult" sprang into my mind as i thought of yesterdays extended version of our weekly visit to Dupont. Xmater had the day off for religious purposes (arrival of his 1st washer/dryer set up) and we met earlier than usual. Syncronicity was in full force since i had appointments in the area and one other friend who's often on his knees (he is a hardwood floor man) called in saying he was local and wanted in on the fun. Freedom from work is good. 3:30 departure and off to Reasonover/Airstrip/Kornholio (as the locals spell it) Shoals Road, some logs and a few other trails my currently un-coffeed mind can't recall.

Freedom rings in my ears this AM, probably because i experienced it yesterday but have to sit in front of this computer and type all day. Interesting is Halloween with 4th of July emotion. It was liberating to be on leaf blanketed trails mid-day with friends who are usually working at 3 in the day. Freedom sounds crunchy with leaf blanked trails. Freedom cooled my lycra covered skin with crisp fall air. Freedom made me thirsty so we consumed beverages.

Others arrived. Mr. Surgery Makes me fast Dennis, Clay, Gravel Road Andretti and Valerie. We hit a good easy pace and wound up hitting Reasonover/Airstrip/Burnt Mtn./Big Rock and some others. Clay wins the butt stomp award for the evening. He was full force all night and riding smooth to boot.

Not much else to say.