31 January 2012

And Then the Icycle

To the amusement of our cabinmates, we rolled into Fontana around 10:30 PM and piled out of the heavily weighed-down Purple People Eater, reeking of swamp rot and Chinese food, outfitted in camo and full of somewhat-entertaining anecdotes.

The next morning we were all stoked to race, because as everyone knows, road trips are the perfect preparation for competition: dehydration, sleep-deprivation, countless hours in the car, a glut of country music, a dearth of coffee, debilitating starvation and/or heinous over-consumption (depending on whether you ask the boys or the girls).

Needless to say, Dan won. And Sheedy won. And Geoff B won. And Sarah raced her first expert race LIKE A BOSS. And I won. And then I sort of tumbled down the hill during the night DH, and then sort of started eating Oreos and drinking and dancing, as you will have at the Icycle. As usual it was a weekend of joyful festivities with intermittent and only quasi-serious bike racing sprinkled in, and I think as usual everyone had a great time.

Ode to the Road

Once upon a time the BC team drove to Fort Collins for road nationals, and I was admittedly a little disappointed. Every road trip movie and book ever made has lead me to believe that the experience should be chock full of camaraderie, gut-busting laughter, spontaneous ridiculousness, annoying inside jokes, too much food, not enough sleep.

Years later, I finally got my wish.

We assembled a crack squad of road trippers, based off two important criteria: desire to ride bikes somewhere new, and ability to get time off work. Somehow this rigorous selection process yielded a foursome that meshed perfectly. 
I have access to no photos as of yet, so use your imagination.
Here we are brandishing Mitch's arsenal on a debris-littered gun range.
We're wearing so much camo that all you can see is
surreal floating torsos and heads. 
We started the trip off on an unbeatable high note--embracing our inner rednecks in the hinterland of southwestern Arkansas, where Dan's BFF Mitch outfitted us with all the guns, off-road vehicles, and Natty Ice necessary to fully appreciate the splendor that is the south. Fueled by a heavy meal from Country Vittles (the jewel of Crossett, AR), we ventured out into the ragged swamplands to shoot clays, knock over deer stands, splash through as much parasite-ridden mud as possible, and generally make asses of ourselves.

Here we are, dry and happy in sunny Waco,
which is apparently the best town ever,
home as it is to Uncle Dan's BBQ, the taco shack, and Cameron Park. 
Obviously we were sad to leave, but our next stop made up for it. Cameron Park in Waco, TX provided hours of thoroughly entertaining mountain biking on roller coaster trails that made the Floridians giggle. Then we stuffed ourselves with excellent BBQ and hightailed it to Austin.

Unfortunately, rain and storms dogged our step. Austin received something like 50% of its annual rainfall during our visit, which elicited from us a hearty WTF?! Of course, there were still Goodwills to troll, Texmex to consume, Mellow Johnny's to explore, exorbitantly expensive and beautiful cowboy boots for Sarah to buy, and so many bars to hop. Sixth Street had it all in spades: billiards, dubstep, mechanical bulls, fantastic margaritas, swanky hotels, crispy bleached blonde girl bands, and bearded dude blues.
Here we are presenting our muddy posteriors,
the aftermath of a day of mountain bike misadventures in Austin. 
Which is not to say we didn't try to ride in Austin. A foray into the slippery, silty Barton Greenbelt was entertaining if somewhat frustrating, but at Rocky Hill Ranch the carnivorous clay devoured our drivetrains and our spirits. The towel was thrown. So what else was there to do but retrace our steps to Waco and play there some more?

And then (why not?) we did some climbing in the sandstone haven of northern Alabama. Which is to say, Dan and Sarah did some climbing and Sarah gently and expertly ushered Chuck and me up the rock. I've gotta say, that bug has bitten me. Anyone have a pair of climbing shoes I can buy?
Here I am scaling a rock face at Palisades Park,
with a determined/constipated grimace on my face.
I was sure I'd never make it to the top. 
And so, to sum it all up (or to "shine the light", as it were): shotguns, mud, Shiner-Bock, cheap motels, expensive hotels, cowboy boots, live music, rock climbing, gubernatorial facial hair. All in all it was a marvelous adventure.

16 January 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

on saturday night most of brevard's best and brightest showed up downtown to herald in erica's thirtieth year, and my goodness it was a good shindig. the ladies were gussied up and the gentlemen were dapper and no one was above boogying down to LMFAO...except a certain councilman, who just played paparazzo all night. i feel so lucky to have such a huge pack of awesome, dance-happy friends.

the next morning the soles of my feet were ragged and my legs were leaden. i missed the early caravan rolling down to charlotte but refused to skip the short track race so i drove myself, aware of the patent absurdity of driving four hours to race forty minutes. sometimes i'm just selfish like that. because lord have mercy, i do love short track. it's the only kind of racing i get. at the start line all the charlotte ladies were aflutter to have a new face in their midst, and a couple of them helpfully explained the race format and pointed out the local favorites. i considered myself warned.

the course was so fun. after the start lap the twelve of us became three, then two. my favorite lap in short track is always the one where you're done playing around, you've figured out the other girls' weaknesses, and it's time for business. that's the kitten shittin' lap, when you look behind you and see faces contorted with pain and disbelief. i crossed the line and actually managed to raise both arms in a half-assed victory salute.

of course, it was the first race of the season. i resolutely refuse to have off or on seasons, i just stay the same year round, so in february when i come back to charlotte i'll probably get my just desserts from women who have been doing their computrainer sessions. but while they head back to their suburban tract housing, my drive home consists of watching the sun set over the still-snowy mountains past the saluda gorge. so that's always kind of a win right there.

02 January 2012


what a difference a day can make. as 2011 drew to a close i was perhaps a little cranky, a little antsy, feeling schlubby, whatever. the first day of 2012 left me bruised, exhausted, joyful.

after three hours of sleep and three hours of housekeeping, i joined the guys for the sycamore cycles new year's ride. it was warm and sunny and spirits were high despite the aftereffects of the previous night's, um, spirits. because we are all a little stupid, we merrily set off to ride 477 to club gap and over the top of black mountain. on the road i struggled to maintain a conversation with wes while trying to pretend i wasn't dying, but eventually as the trail pitched up, and up, i felt better. i do love technical climbing. and lisa really, really loves it.

of COURSE this was the only picture taken. thanks carlos! 
i think you have to be in the right mood to enjoy black mountain. i think we were all in the right mood. as the sky went crazy overhead and the sun glittered over the pink beds side and storm clouds glowered over the looking glass side and random precipitation soaked us and the wind tugged us towards the precipice, we all smiled and pushed onward. it was dramatically beautiful so of course there wasn't a camera to be found. as usual the downhill was big and scary and fun. i went ass-over-teakettle into one of the most egregious wheel-swallowers past turkey pen, but lived to tell the tale.

so now that i have remembered how to ride a bike, i think perhaps i will race one. the first snake creek tt is this weekend and i've convinced morgan to come along for some north georgia suffering. then maybe some charlotte short track, because as everyone knows short track is the most wonderful thing there is. then THE ICYCLE, which is also the most wonderful thing there is. it may very well be a good january.