Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Four T's

To follow up the four H's post, now we have the four T's, or the TTTT, or the Tinton Trail Time Trial, put on by the same guy, Perry Jewett, that puts on the Dakota Five-O, which I planned on racing this past Sunday.  And I did, but with one exception, for which I have a new "hero" in cycling to look up to (or down to as it were).

Sunday morning came and I got up at my normal ass-crack-of-dawn time and started getting the Moots and my stuff ready for the TTTT.  As I was getting closer to time to leave, I went into the Boy's room to get him up so we could drive the hour to the race venue, just outside of Spearfish.

I whispered to him that it was time to get up so we could go to the race.  Earlier in the week I had mentioned the race and said if he felt like it, we could race it on Barney, our big, purple Cannondale off-road tandem, so I asked him if he wanted to race, expecting him to say no based on our previous conversations.  I got the typical kid response which was something along the lines of "well, duh Dad, of course I am going to race it with you!"  Wow.  Knock me over with a feather.  I really wasn't expecting that answer.

So, we got everything ready to roll, packed up and headed out to Spearfish.  It was a perfect morning here at NSSC headquarters, with the temps in the low 70's and barely partly cloudy.  As we traveled northwest getting closer to Spearfish, my wife says, "those clouds don't look so good."  No, no they didn't.  As we get into Spearfish, it is completely overcast, temps in the low 60's but no rain at least.  As we head out of town to the venue, we climb into the clouds which is now fog, getting more and more thick as we end up at the Big Hill trailhead parking lot.

We sign up for the race, saddle up and ride the 1/2 mile or whatever it was to the starting area to do a practice run.  We struggled up the climbs and it felt like I was doing the majority of the work.  Damn, I thought to myself, if the Boy rides like this, it's gonna be a long, LONG day.

We get to the starting area, wait for a couple of other guys to take off and then we follow.  We're rolling pretty well and it feels like the Boy is loosening up a bit and feeling the flow.  The course is divided into two sections, the upper section, which is rocky and not so tight and twisty, then after you cross Tinton road, the lower section which isn't as rocky, but much tighter and more twisty than the upper and making threading a 7' long tandem through it a bit sketchy.  About 1/2 way down the upper section, I hear the sshhhHHWWWeeew ...sshhhHHWWWeeeww ..sshhhHHWWWeeeww sound that only a flat can make.  Sonofabitch.  We're under a time constraint to get to the bottom and catch a shuttle back to the start of the race.  Flat fixed and we're back off down the trail.

We catch a ride back to the top by riding in the back of a pickup, holding Barney.  It was the first time the Boy got to ride in the back of a pickup and he thought that was the shit.  At the top, I find my fixed rear tire losing air.  DAMMIT!  I pull the tire off and find a small pinhole.  No more tubes.  My patch kit is an "emergency" one only, with those foamy, stick on patches that work good enough to get you home, but no better.  Thankfully, Chadwick bails me out with the primo Park Tools stick on patches that I am now thoroughly impressed with.

Race time comes with the Dash for Cash class (expert) taking off first then the Steer for Beer (sport), of which we're part of.  Jasper gives us the line up order and we're in line awaiting our turn.  The Boy is a bit nervous before we roll out, but once we hear the 3...2...1...GO he settles in and is pedaling REALLY well and hanging with me like a champ, leaning into turns, standing up and basically following my body english really well.

The top 1/2 went by like a blur.  We didn't get passed by anyone on the top part, which I fully expected.  We cross the road and drop into the second section and are rolling well.  We get passed about 1/2 way through the second section, which I expected as we can't turn through the corners as easily as a single bike.  Shortly after we get passed again to which I respond to the Boy "we will NOT get passed again!"  The Boy asks "how do you know?"  and just then another rider comes by.  SHIT.  We keep the on the gas and fly through the last couple stretches, into Cleaver's Corner which is a double switchback that was more than tricky on a tandem, but we make it.  A few more pedal strokes and we cross the line in 28:11.  Not shabby for a 7'ish mile Super D.  We later find out we have beaten a good number of singles and are not far behind people that think they are good downhillers.  We're STOKED.

Which brings me to my new cycling hero...The Boy.  That kid kicks some major ass on the back of a tandem.  He is mostly fearless, and whenever there is a hesitation, if I say we'll be OK, he goes with it.  He pedaled his little ass off and rode really, REALLY well.  I am super-stoked to be part of a tandem team with him and I can't wait to do it again!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Four H's

As I might have mentioned a few times, Mother Nature has been a bitch as of late, deciding that summer (which in my book is June 1 through September 1, not that whole June 20th or whatever) weather here in the Black Hills should be more April like than June like, meaning cool and WAY TOO MUCH fucking rain.  I have permanent prune hands I think.

We scheduled our normal Tuesday night Rambler ride at Bulldog which was postponed because of...wait for it...RAIN (imagine that).  So, we rescheduled for Wednesday evening after seeing the forecast for that day with no rain predicted.

We met at Bulldog at 6 pm after a day when the highs were in the low 80's.  Perfect you'd think, huh?  Hold on there Tonto...under normal circumstances, 80 would be an ideal riding temperature, but here in the Black Hills, the average afternoon relative humidity for June floats around in the mid 40% range.  Wednesday's afternoon relative humidity?  Almost 70%, and I would argue that on the trail with all the vegetation and the supremely damp trail, it was much higher than that.

I can already hear the grumblings of those that live east of the Missouri River, where humidity is usually the same as the temperature outside in the summer but understand, we live in a semi-arid area and we are not used to humidity which is where the four H's come in.

Heat, humidity, hairiness and heaviness.  Hot, H2O, hirsuteness and huge.  Whatever your words, pick 3 and leave the humidity out.  They do NOT mix, trust me.  I was sweating like a fat hooker in church.  My clothes felt like I went swimming in them.  Not cool.

In addition, thanks to all the rain, the area around the trail looked like it was some sort of poison ivy farm.  Nice.  Hairy, huge, sweaty and itching oozing blisters.  What isn't to love about that?  Thankfully, I've managed to steer clear of the ivy so far this year, knock on wood, but I know my luck is running out.

I suppose I could do something about the hairiness...I guess I need a good clipping over the whole body.  Now that we are dog free in the house I guess the clippers are free for human use.  I just hope I can balance on the grooming table while my wife trims me up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Man, I don't know how to take a compliment I received the other night.

I was on our usual Tuesday night Rambler ride, when Jim (from Quarq) says to me "Hey, did you know you're an inspiration?"  What the hell are you talking about, I think.  So, he proceeds to tell me "I didn't know if I should tell you or not but you inspired A.S..  Remember the other night when we rode Lookout Mtn and he was sucking wind?  He talked about you kicking his ass up the hill and now he's getting after it, riding Lookout almost every day."

God, I LOVE bib shorts...
Cool.  I'm inspiring someone to ride...hey, wait a minute.  I don't know if I like the way this is going.  Why am I the one inspiring him?  How was it phrased when he told Jim I was an inspiration?  Did he say "Damn, that big guy stomped my ass!" or did he say "I need to get after it, that fat fuck just kicked my ass!"?  Although I can't really tell the difference between the two, I suppose there is a positive to the whole thing, but I haven't quite figured out what that is yet.

I'm gonna put on my Lampre gear and go for a training ride.  I'm going out to be a fucking inspiration!