The Big Dirty

So I’m back in the saddle and spending less time at The Saddle, and with no goal but to have a good time while riding bikes.  I’ve ridden three of my bikes for about 10 hours the last week, seen dozens of friends that I haven’t seen in forever, and had a really fun time. Alas that goal of no goals lasted about a week, of course, and I have a new thing that I’m dreaming up for myself (and maybe some others) to do.  It’s going to be Big and Dirty…

I don’t have any real direction for this besides it’s going to be Adventure Bike based, not a race, not on pavement, and at least a little fun.  Is it an event? Is it a team? Is it just a thing that I do for six months then drop it when life gets hectic? How big? How dirty? I don’t know yet.  Event directing and team leading are not really my strong points, as business tends to get in the way at times.  Maybe it’s a thing that people can just do on their own, with a reward at the end ala Cup O Dirt.  Fuck, I really don’t know.

Anyway, I’m going to be thinking on the Big Dirty until something comes to me.  I should probably do that on a bike, though…

CNB

Back In The Saddle

The phrase “back in the saddle” has a few connotations, it could mean back on the bike, a horse, you’re an aspiring Steven Tyler, and due to my geographic proximity to The Greatest Gay Bar In The Universe, it could mean I’m back at the Blazing Saddle.  Come to think of it, I have spent more time in the Saddle than in the saddle (bike) over the last 3+ months due to things like working and also work.  It’s been one of my lowest mileage years in recent memory, and I’m ok with that.

I’m back in the saddle. Again.

This past year has been a monster, and I’m happy to just have some time to pedal.  I’m going back into this whole cycling thing with no goals but to have a good time and ride the bikes that have been collecting dust. They are practically buried alive in dust.  I’m not training, not trying in vain to prep for some gargantuan dirtbagging excursion, and not filling my calendar full of epic gravel races.  I’m going to ride bikes. I’ll ride trails and gravel and single track and roads, but just for fun.  That’s it. Fun.

They say you should go out at the top of your game, so earlier this year, I announced to Twitter my official retirement from “Bike Racing.”  I had reached the peak of my DNF/DFL/DNS career, earning more letters than numbers in all disciplines I had participated in. I just couldn’t see myself topping my past accomplishments, so I’M OUT.  NBD, and maybe I’ll do some bigger things or races again some day.  Maybe.

It should feel good to just ride, the first day was ok.  Tomorrow will probably be ok, too. I’ll see you out on the trails again, and we will have some beers and make some new memories while reliving a few old good times.  Let’s have fun. Let’s just ride some bikes.

CNB

Sitting In The Waiting Room

Do you ever have one of those moments where you are dead set on doing something, like maybe some dirt bagging, but everything seems to be working against you, especially your own mind?  One of those moments where obsessing about how you under-beaned your Chemex is more important that achieving your goal (in this case on my end, Dirt Bagging)?  You have thought out where you want to ride, and what you might do when you get there, even searched out some local food spots to check out while on said trip, but actually getting your bike and/or gear ready has taken a back seat to whatever “squirrel” crosses you path?

post-20253-water-skiing-squirrel-gif-3sus

so distracting…

I am truly having one of those moments.  I know where I want to ride, I know what I want to bring.  I want to do some camping/dirt bagging up north.  BUT IT’S A HOLIDAY WEEKEND, so and the deadly trifecta of Explosives/Alcohol/Camping will be on the minds of every amateur out there.  So public camping is probably out. Maybe take the hammock for an overnighter.  It’s been a while, I may have forgotten what knot to use with the damn thing. blah blah blah

pileofbikesAll of my bikes are in disarray.  Well, all the bikes I WANT to ride are in disarray.  Save for the Warbird, but that’s not really my favorite flavor of dirt bagging sled.  The Fargo has a flat (easily fixable) and no Dyno system (crucial for 1. night riding 2. keeping electronics charged 3. Being Bougie), The Colossal is hanging up with no wheels (which are on the Warbird*), the Vaya wheel set is on Project Pink at the shop for them to use while fitting the brakes (same model/size/spacing hubs/rotors are being used on Pink’s wheels), I’m not in the mood for riding level gravel on the Lynskey SS or the San Jose, The Cargo Bike just seems absurd to dirt bag on (although comfy and plenty of cargo room), SSBB is currently sharing its front dyno wheel with the San Jose, The Tandem will be sans stoker for the week, the Fixie Chili seems like a bad idea, and the rest of the stable…I just don’t feel like riding. Pretty lame. Strike two. THEN I decided to sit down and write a goddamn blog post about how I was distracted from making this whole dirt bagging thing happen today. Strike three…

Does this happen to you?  Whatever happened to just getting on your bike and riding?  Why does everything seem so complicated today?  What’s with all the questions?  I’m picking a bike and just going for it. I’m sure you’ll hear about it here later.

 

Sam

 

CNB

 

*Quick Footnote Review of the DT Swiss DT350/Spline Wheelset: The stock wheels on the Carbon Warbird are just garbage. Trash. If you get a ‘Bird with the DT Swiss wheels rather than the HED Belgiums, just buy new wheels and save the stock ones for making holiday wreaths or something. I put my Son28/White Industries/Wiskey 7 set on the bird, and damn if it didn’t make the thing into a completely different bike. In a good way.

Getting Personal AF

A few months back I started a journey to regain my health, both physical and mental.  The starting line of this journey was a fat, miserable, depressed guy who had yet to accept that his undoing could easily be undone.  As I sat on the tailgate of the Swaggon struggling to buckle my riding shoes between held breaths, it occurred to me that this was not how my life was meant to be.  It was time to make a change.

I put down the fried chicken, hot roast beef sandwiches, and fast food.  I had spent the last year prior to this change feeling sorry for myself, being depressed, considering what actions I had taken to get to this point. I was suicidal. I had trashed a relationship. A lot of my life was upside down, and I just wanted to hide in a dark room until I didn’t have to breath any more.  Riding didn’t help, it was a chore to get miles in when you don’t even want to leave the house.  I became even more self destructive. My alcoholism flared up. Problems compounded. People hurt me, and in turn I hurt others, but mainly myself.  Depression is a fucking monster. I’ve dealt with it my entire life. Sometimes I’m in complete awe of how I made it to this point in my life with all of the self-defeating shit my mind pulls. I fed my depression beer, shit food, and lies.  I fucked up a lot of shit.  I was lying to myself about how I was doing, until that day the struggle to clip a buckle on a shoe cleared the clouds around the actual struggle that was happening: My body was dying and my mind didn’t give a fuck.

I went Vegan.  My life instantly changed.  That’s not hyperbole, I felt the change for the better within 24 hours of putting down my old habits.  It has been incredible. I have lost nearly 50 lbs since March 5th of this year. My clothes fit better, MY MIND WORKS BETTER, my average moving speed is up 25%, and I have energy to do the things I want to accomplish.  My creativity has gone through the roof, and my home studio is being used on a daily basis to write shitty music.  My depression has subsided, and my self harm thoughts* have mostly gone away.  My loved ones have noticed, and they are happier now that I am not some miserable lump on the Earth.  I feel myself starting to love life again, and I’m back to building a positive existence and using that to make my people happier.  All this from just changing what I ate. It’s not some crazy fad diet with asinine rules, it’s not some self loathing  way of sequestering yourself from eating “good food,” and it’s not something that people should fear.  It’s an ethical way of treating yourself, the planet, and the other creatures on this planet.  Yes, some people get a little annoying about spouting off about being Vegan, BUT IT’S BECAUSE THEY GIVE A SHIT AND THINK YOU SHOULD TOO.  Honestly, I kind of enjoy it when people give me crap for being Vegan. At least I know that it’s crossing their mind.

So I’ve made a bunch of improvements, and life is a better for those around me, for the most part, because of it.  BUT my weight loss has paused at 270 for the last few weeks, and because of an injury I haven’t been able to ride my bike.  I have a goal of 235 by October, which is pretty heady considering the amount of work it will take and the amount of free time I have to take on said work.  I think I can do it, but in all honesty I’m happy that I’ve come this far.  I’m happy that I can say “I lost 50 lbs, but I’m still fat.” It’s a kind-of-funny self deprecating remark that reminds me that the travels aren’t over, that health and fitness of the body and mind is not a destination, it’s a journey.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental wellness, there are resources out there. A good start is contacting the National Alliance On Mental Health

Be safe in your journey,

Sam

CNB

*I know this is a very personal thing to share, and I don’t want anyone to worry or think this a cry for help. I have cried, I’ve gotten some help.  I am putting this out there for others who struggle every day with thoughts of ending it all, so that they know that they aren’t alone in this, and that yes, even “successful” people struggle with thoughts of self harm. It’s something I have struggled/dealt with nearly every day for the past 38 years. I’ve lost some of the most important people in my life to their own hand.  Depression is a real killer.  Please get help if you feel like you need it, and if you see someone struggling please be there for them.

Project Pink

Last year I was having a set of wheels built for my road bike over at Beaverdale Bikes* and Ed mentioned that he had picked up some 650b hoops recently and maybe I might possibly be interested. I had been researching turning my Fargo into either a Rohloff equipped 27.5/650b or single speed, but a good friend of mine had actually turned his exact same year/model Fargo into said smaller rimmed Rohloff setup, so I figured I could skip it. I hate passing on a deal, but I had no use for that size rim.

A few months ago I was having a discussion with Guitar Ted while out on the Gents Race about his trials with the new WTB Horizon for RidingGravel.com, and a then-soon-to-be-announced gravel version of the 650b “Road Plus” and I was a little interested.  He had joked about sending me a set, but I don’t have a bike that can run that size tire.  I started thinking about the tires and the hoops at BeavBikes and how I do not need to start another bike project.

518732_862b

This is roughly what I’m going for.

Enter Project Pink. Project Pink is a steel framed 650b “Road Plus/Gravel” bike that will be running SRAM Rival 1×11 Hydro, a dyno setup for my K-lite light/USB system, and of course the new WTB 650X47 Byway rubber.  Tan walls, a really cool custom wheel set, and a pink frame should make this a standout gravel/rando setup.  I’m looking forward to putting this together and getting it out on the dusty trail. I might even take some time here to chronicle the build.

Sam

CNB

Knowing When To Say When

All the disciplines of endurance cycling have their own key aspects to success, be it packing right for the Tour Divide,  the right support team and program for RAAM,  tolerance for the usually crazy weather on Trans Iowa, the ability to pedal alone for 4200 miles of the Trans-Am Race.  They all have some unifying factors such as training, fitness, mental toughness, etc, but there is one true common denominator:

Knowing when to say when.

Ending your bid at an endurance sport attempt isn’t a failure. Carrying on past your limits into the danger zone can cause catastrophic results. Physical injuries, mental health issues, or worse.  You can end up too injured to carry on training or riding for an extended period of time, which happened to a good friend during his bid to finish the Trans-Wisconson some years back.  He eventually recovered from nerve damage in his hands (a common injury in endurance riding), and went on to finish the Tour Divide in 2015.  In my experience it’s tough to gauge the severity of hand numbness while on an intense ride, but had he pulled the plug earlier at TW the need for being off the bike so long could have been avoided. Just an example, sorry to bring up hard times, SF.

Know whether you are running in the red or running into a wall.

Today Greg Gleason pulled the plug on his Tour Divide. Greg is a beast of an endurance athlete, a Salsa Cycles sponsored rider with an inspiring story, Trans Iowa wins*, and more. He was having a number of problems including neck and breathing (not un-common issues in these races), and recognized that it would be a much better idea to face the facts rather than attempt to pedal through these maladies any further.  His Tour Divide was over for 2017, and he will go on to tackle the race in 2018.

It was an emotional moment for Greg, which he shared via video on social media, but he was resolute that this was the right move and he will be back next year.  That is a winning moment. I, for one, am going to miss watching the “GG” dot at Trackleaders, but you can bet that he will be back in Banff next June and all of us Gleasonites will be eagerly watching him work his magic.  In the beginning of the race he was in the lead ahead of Josh Kato, Brian Lucido (current leader), and Stephan, and killing it. I believe had it not been for this breathing and neck issue he could have pulled a top 5 finish, if not better. But Greg is a smart rider and knew it was time to pull the plug, and that is the true mark of a pro. Thank you, Greg, for being a bad ass, a great guy, an inspiration, and self aware enough to keep safe. Your family, and your cycling family, will appreciate seeing your future exploits!

Sam

CNB

*Greg took second place at TIV13 this year, which may been first had he not insisted on riding his Tour Divide rig for the whole thing. Greg, using TI for loaded GDMBR training. Whoa. Beast Mode.