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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PMTNR Snow Night.

It only snows about once a year in Charlotte, but when it does our city shuts down. People lose their minds, schools close, businesses turn off the lights, and everyone scrambles to the grocery store to get their share of the bread and milk rations. Why the bread and milk? I have
no idea, and I will never understand it. However this January the snow fell on a Tuesday afternoon, and as you know Tuesday is PMTNR night. Only 9 brave souls were up for the challenge and rode through our white blanketed uptown streets. We were joined by a few city busses, some SUV drivers that didn’t heed the warning to stay home unless you absolutely cannot, and a ton of CMPD cars, mostly on every corner waiting to write up the next fender bender.

This epic shot was taken at the corner of Trade and Tryon, the center crossroads of downtown Charlotte. Only an inch accumulated overall, but that inch of snow was compacted into a slick icy layer over the roads.
Tony Cam sitting on is 29er waiting at a red light as a CATS bus passes.

Below is a surreal image captured by Tony in the Latta Arcade alley looking at the bank buildings lurching overhead.

This group of 9 also got captured on video by NBC and was played on a loop as they were reporting school closings.
There always has to be a pic at the Disco Chicken, one of Charlotte's newest Downtown instalations.
Did I mention how cold it was? It was really cold!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rumble in the Concrete Jungle Race

Today was the first time I have been on my mountain bike in what feels like a lifetime. Had I known how competitive the race was going to be today I would have taken it out and dusted it off weeks in advance and did some training rides. The race was held at the US National Whitewater Center just beyond the outer loop in Charlotte. It is a big kids playground which consists of a man made competition kayak and whitewater rafting course, miles and miles of single track, a massive zip line and a climbing wall out crop in the center of it all. Today for the first time ever a bike race was held in the drained water channels of the park, something they have been trying to plan for the last few years but finally got approval.

The first race was a downhill course consisting of just the concrete channel. It was a little less than half a mile and zigzagged back and fourth crossing the concrete structures that create the rapids and currents when filled with water.  You were given two timed runs down, with the best guys doing just of 48 seconds. My best lap was 57 seconds, winch put me mid pack, but just 9 seconds behind the super ridiculous full face helmet and pads wearing downhillers. Some of which traveled over 6 hours just for this event.

The second phase was the cross country race. This is where my body told me that its been too long since I have ridden my mountain bike and its time to hit some more trails. It ran for 40 minutes plus a lap and I was able to complete 13 full loops. The course consisted of the DH course plus a 3/4 mile gravel jogging loop the circles the park. This was one of the funnest races at one of the coolest venues I have ever raced. The spectators make it a blast and pushed you hard with their heckles in most sections of the race. I was told after the race that I won the unofficial Fan Favorite award. Apparently I was the only person to take a certain line that brought me way too close to the crowd. High fives every time, and on one of these times I stopped to chug a tall boy handed up to me from a group of WWC employees. The crowd lost their mind, and coming out of the berm, I almost lost my balance. Luckily I saved it and continued on down. I hope Weldon Weaver got some good pics of that!

Cant wait until next year, hopefully I will be a little more prepared for it. Maybe some bike upgrades and a little training beforehand should do it.

You can see me on the far right in black taking my super secret beer route. 

Pre-ride meeting.

The course was real wet and delayed the start, but it dried out nicely.

I pic from Jeff Smith, from the bridge to the island.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

An open letter to eBay via their facebook page after a non responsive customer service department. Will it get me my $100 back, no, but at least it made me feel better for 30 minutes.

 Dear eBay. After consulting your customer service people and being placed on hold for over 24 minutes to try and resolve my issue, I hung up and decided to take another approach. I am Erik, seller emizzle81. I have been selling on eBay for over 12 years and have the emailed achievements to attest to it. My feedback score is 196 with 100% positive feedback rating. I am a small fish in your global pond, but I am in theory much larger than buyer betotasabia66daysgoby who has a feedback rating of 3, and is located out of Chihuahua, Mexico.

 How dare you charge me $92.50 for a transaction that I stated that was listed for only US buyers. How dare you take the side of this non responding, newbie that in my opinion is out to scam American sellers. How dare you make me wait an entire week to get my $92.50 back that was charged for a sale that I didn't get compensated on.

 I have always defended you from people that have bashed your ways, I have always backed you when the prices fluctuated and dug into my wallet. I have been a fan, supporter, and investor into your .com when there have been other cheaper of free options. I have dealt with your 10% gouging fees to post and sell on your site. UNTIL NOW. No longer will I put up with your shit. This isn't the first time I have been screwed on a transaction, but as they say, this is the last. Who is "they" you ask, they is me, and everyone I can convince to rethink their selling options with the story that I have to share. Welcome to social media buddy. $92.50 might not be a lot to a conglomerate like you, but to a former supporter, small fish trying to make a little extra, it is. It hurts that your final decision to refund my $200 in a timely manner must go through a process with a scammer from Mexico with a feedback rating of 3, which obviously outweighs me, emizzle81 with a score of almost 200.

 Thanks and good riddance. emizzle81 signing out, forever.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Plaza Midwood Tuesday Night Ride.
If you have been in or around downtown Charlotte on a Tuesday night in the last year or so, you have probably seen us. If you own a bike and live in Charlotte, you should join us!!! The PMTNR is a weekly ride starting at Common Market on Commonwealth at 7:30 PM. Two simple rules, bring your lights and wear a helmet. It is dubbed as Charlotte’s largest recurring weekly ride in Center City, and caters to all types of riders and bicycles. Beginners all the way to seasoned pros and daily messengers have pedaled through the city with us and there is a core of riders that show up every week without missing one Tuesday. The typical ride usually involves a beer stop or two, and usually a group photo at a new location somewhere along the route. Most of them use our beautifully lit Charlotte skyline as the backdrop. They usually end at 10:30, but some hang around the last stop a little longer to talk bikes over a brew or two. There is plenty of support if someone has issues, and believe it or not, with that many riders, it is well organized. There is always a pre-mapped route, varying every week, and usually explores different parts of Charlotte.

The ride became official in January of 2013 when a couple other Tuesday night rides started to dwindle down in rider numbers because of the cold temperatures. One out of NoDa, one mountain bike race team’s “party pace” ride, and Pam Murray’s “meet me at the library on Central ride.” We all joined forces and started to meet at Common Market. I don’t remember exactly when it became officially the PMTNR, but I do remember getting an invite to the new Facebook page invite. Now the page has 721 followers and gaining more every day.

Here are some surprising stats from 2013:
6 rides were rained out, and 4 were a no go because no one showed up.
41 rides total since its start with a total of 2,345 cumulative riders.
The rides average about 15 miles per night, resulting in 35,175 total miles ridden.
The largest ride was the Halloween Boocycle ride with 170 people, that was a good night, at least the parts that I can remember was!

I hope to see some new faces soon, especially when the weather gets a little warmer. Dust off those bikes Charlotte and come ride with us!!

Here are some pictures from our more recent rides. Two of them are taken in the new Romare Bearden Park, one of them on the first night it opened to the public.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My first Cyclocross race: North Carolina Grand Prix

Saturday December 14th 2013. I got woken up early by the sound of Rufio rummaging around looking for all of his layers, follow by a door slam as he left to go get the free continental breakfast from the Econo-Something we were staying at for the weekend. The forecast looked miserable for the weekend, cold rain, mid 30’s for Saturday, and clear but high 20’s on Sunday. I didn’t know what would be best to wear for the race so I put on one of everything I brought with me. That ended up not being quite enough.

The race didn’t start until 9:30 but we had to set up our racing camp which included the Charlotte B-Cycle tent (covered on 3 sides with clear plastic from Home Depot), the PBR tent (covered in tarps from Wal-Mart), and the many cases of beer and SWAG provided to me from my friends at Pabst. The unloading and set up took a little longer that we had anticipated as the rain started exactly at the same moment we found a parking place. Tents up first, struggle with the tarps and plastic with the wind second. Once we got the wind blockers up we started to make our home inside the tents. I stripped some layers and got into what I was going to wear for the race(which included an ugly Christmas sweater covered in saxophones and piano keys), plus a jacket I could strip off at the line, and went for a practice lap. We didn’t get through an entire lap before we were called off the course and up to the starting line. WHAT!? It wasn’t even 9 o’clock, no time to really warm up my muscles or the other parts that got frozen while setting up camp. Someone tossed me a water proof beanie last minute which probably saved my life. Literally. The oversized vents in my Bell “summer roadie” helmet were not good in protecting me from the freezing rain drops.

As the rain continued to fall on the starting line, I started to get a little nervous about my tires. In the ¾ of the practice lap I was able to ride I had little to no traction, and that was before the field had its way with it. As I looked around, I see that everyone had a lot more tread on their tires than I did. See the only thing I skimped on was tires, I thought I had a set I was going to use (they would have been perfect but told they were too heavy) but swapped with something else last minute. They might as well have been slicks. I started mid pack and stayed there until the first set of turns. My goal was not only to stay uprightbut to also try and not take out the entire back half of the field if I do go down. Believe it or not, I did stay upright, which tells me that I was going something wrong, and not riding fast enough. The course went from mud to swamp in the first lap and the section uphill through the woods was a 100 yard dash through diarrhea by the time I got there. I finished, technically in last place, but the 7 people behind me that didn’t finish didn’t count on the scoreboard. Damn, I guess I have to start somewhere, I guess at the back.

The rest of the day was great once I put on all of the two days’ worth of cloths I brought with me and warmed up. We heckled the hell out of everyone even the pros and the women. We generally took it easy on the kids, most of them looked seconds away from tears anyway, except for the little guy who asked if we were drunk, that kid got all kinds of hell. His mom really enjoyed it. We continued to pass out free PBR, 16oz at a time to the visitors of our camp, and in smaller doses to the racers that would take the hand ups from us. The company who own PBR also owns Twinkie, and I was given a case of those as well. Two amazing things happened with those Twinkies that day; the first was bacon wrapped Twinkie’s, way better than they sound, and the second was when Rufio smashed and entire Twinkie in Andrew Stackhouse’s eye as he raced passed out camp. I don’t know if it was intentional, but it was hilarious.

The rest of the weekend was a blast. The race on Sunday was a lap shorter because it took so much time to get through the sloppy mess the lap times were significantly longer. I didn’t finish last, and that was awesome. Not to mention I made the cover of webpage with the pic below of me in the orange PBR hunting hat screaming by balls off! At the end of the day, I made new friends, did our best to finish off the remaining PBR, and headed back to Charlotte. Would I do it again, hell yes, big things planned for 2014!

Me "supporting" my new BFF Tim Johnson
Tim Johnson enjoying some refreshing PBR after his race.
Race Camp
Sideline support, and Handups
No one knows where this cuy came from, or went to.
Rufio muddy
My Christmas sweater, not sure if before or after racing.
Rufio running, not able to ride it

Monday, January 6, 2014

I told you I was gonna do it!

I got my first cyclocross style bike about 4 years ago. It was a Van Dessel Country Road Bob, the Kermit green one with the “S” shaped top and bottom tubes. It was a single speed, and I got it as my first non-conversion SS bike to try it out for both daily riding and also to enter the fixed gear world. I started out our relationship together with it built up as a fixie with 23c tires, bull horns, and worn out Avid canti brakes. I wasn't confident enough to run brakeless as this was my first journey in this new for me riding style.

After getting a Pista, and using that for when I wanted to ride fixed, I converted it back to more of an around the town, bigger tire commuter bike. Ever since that conversion 2-3 years ago, I told myself that this was the year I was going to try and race cross with it. Coming from a strictly mountain racing background, I didn’t think it would be much of a change from what I was used to. I convinced a couple of friends to give it a shot with me, and they seemed to be just as excited about it as I was, until it was time to race. Then the excuses came and another winter passed me by.

In the spring of 2012 I decided to start my search for a geared cross bike because if I was going at this alone, I didn't want to stand out in the crowd on my SS ride. I ended up with a Specialized TriCross Sport, because it was used, in perfect shape at a great price. The components weren’t great but it was a great platform to build on. At least I thought until I started pricing everything out. I kept the bike stock through the summer and did some more research about racing cross witch ultimately ended up in another race season passing by without me racing.

I sold the bike in the spring of 2013 and started working out my short term goal of building a complete custom, everything the way I wanted, super bad ass, cyclocross bike. I explored a few local options from many of Charlotte’s bike shops, and didn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Because I was into city riding and track bikes at this point, Cinelli and their recent uprising in the fixie culture caught my eye. I loved their track frames and started to follow their complete line a little closer. For the 2013 lineup they had the Zydeco alloy frame available, which I liked but the industry was steadily heading towards discs on cross and road bikes. I figured if I was going all in, I wanted to at least keep up with the times and get a disc frame. Then I found out Cinelli was introducing the Zydeco Disc in their 2014 catalog and I was hooked. I found the bike I wanted to build. One problem, no local Cinelli reps. So I asked around and ended up speaking with Steve at Espada in NoDa. We both wanted Cinelli in Charlotte and Steve wanted to be the shop to carry them. So with a handshake and a smile, we placed our first stock order which included my 2014 Zydeco Disc.

This bike ended up beautifully, and had all the components I wanted on it. Steve did a fantastic job with the build, including wheels, and I couldn’t be happier. I know it is “not about the bike” or whatever, but for me this endeavor was. This is the bike that got me posed at the starting line in Hendersonville, NC for my first cross race ever. Not to mention on a full weekend sponsorship from PBR, but more about that later!

The frame before Steve got his hands on it.

Steve taking a caffeine break.

Full Ulterga!

Me on one its first longer rides, the Cranksgiving Charity Alleycat.