Friday, January 31, 2020

The End of an Era, The Beginning of Another

Things change, constantly.  Ideals, dreams, desires, reality, goals, etc. They change.   It appears that even I change.  I had a goal and and a dream and those were fulfilled.  I came, I saw, I stood up and pedaled that single speed to the best of my ability.  I stood on some podiums, I dnf'ed some races, I pushed myself and enjoyed the ride.   

Then I got burned out.  Maybe it was training through the cold, wet, winter for my 10th and final Pisgah Stage Race. Maybe it was a myriad of other reasons.  I'm not really sure.  What I do know is, I was not looking forward to riding my bike much anymore.  I was tired, my legs were tired, my mind was tired.  I was still doing it, but it wasn't fun like it used to be.  Something needed to change. 

The Single Speed that made dreams come true.
 So I pulled out my trusty steel Salsa El Mariachi with gears.  This bike has taken me on many adventures and I pictured us going on many more.  I "upgraded" to a 1x10, which involved taking of the front deraileur, and then I added a brand new Thomson dropper post.  Sweet, ready to roll.  Now I had two bikes, exactly the same, ready to roll.  One geared, and one single speed.  I started riding the geared El Mar fairly often.  It was odd.  Sitting on the uphills,  pushing gears on the flats and downhills.  It took several rides before I could decide if I liked it or not.

I finally admitted that I liked it, and I was having fun again.  But something wasn't right.   Something was missing.  While this bike climbs great and descends just as good for better than any steel frame on the market,  I could feel the difference from the Ti El Mar. 

Dilema.  I wanted to keep the Ti El Mar set up single speed so I could still ride it when I felt like it.  But the Ti material is so much smoother than steel.  What to do.  Again, it took a little while, but then I sealed the fate of the steel framed El Mar and did the inevitable.....

 ....I put the gears on the Ti El Mar!!!
Beginning of an Era

 And just like that,  I'm having fun again. ( I even briefly thought about taking on The Snake and Pisgah Stage Race with gears! Just briefly though).

I'm having fun again,  sitting on the climbs, pushing gears on flats and downhills.  Relaxing, enjoying, railing, ripping fun times!  

I might have a steel framed El Mariachi (large) for sale.  How else am I going to pay for upgrades to my new geared bike?

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Writing Again...

...maybe.  I get inspired, then I don't.  I get inspired to write, to ride.  I do it for a while, then I don't.  I've raced for so long it is hard transitioning to not racing.  I want to join in on the events, but the entry fee have made this cost prohibitive.  So I just ride, with the goal of riding.  But,  I like to go fast and be strong.  So I try to ride fast and choose challenging routes.  But then some days, I don't.  I take it easy, and rest and enjoy the sounds.

 I rode Bent Creek today and broke my chain.  I didn't have any tools with me.  I've never broken  a chain, and I was only out for an hour.  I've been riding BC without a spare or toolkit for a couple of years and finally got a warning shot across the bow.  I'm glad it was warmish.  I still rode the downhills and walked the uphills so that was interestingly slow.

A dude rode up from behind and joked that I should get a chain, it would be more fun.   He rode away without any offers of help.  I lamented that mountain biking is not what it used to be.  Seems like your everyday recreational rider has not learned trail etiquette and the leave no mountain biker behind mentality.   We were at the top of a downhill section of trail.  He said "sorry about that" and took off,  I jumped on the bike, coasted and caught him!  He pulled away at the next climb, and I didn't see him until the parking lot.  I let it go.  Its not worth it.
It was a nice day to go slow though.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Lake Life

 I love the lake.  
The open expanse of water.  
Skimming across the surface.  
Pulling up to the beach. 
Jumping in the cool refreshing water.  
Dodging thunderstorms.
 Eating scrunched up sandwiches. 
Waving to the other boaters.  
Wishing I had  a bigger boat.  
Being content with my 12 foot little motor boat.  
The boat seems to shrink as the kid grows.   
Teaching the kid. 
Laughing with the kid. 
Providing for the kid.
Enjoying what I have,  missing what I don't have. 
 Practicing being kind.  
Practicing being selfless. 
 It all takes practice.
 It does not come naturally.  
It is intentional, worth the effort because it helps the greater good.
At the end of the day, focusing on who I am, what I am and being satisfied.
Just be.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Just Be

Self care, self improvement, self aware.... becoming a better person requires a lot.  Breaking the negative cycles and habits that were ingrained from child hood, requires a lot.  A lot of thought, a lot of work, a lot of new habits and new focus.    I've been doing that, to the nth degree,  but suddenly a though crosses my mind.  When am I good enough?  When will it be enough?  In my desperation to be the best dad, husband, neighbor,  I am now stressing myself out trying to improve. 

And then it dawns on me.  I have to take a break.  I have to relax.  I have to be.  I have to enjoy the work that has been done.  I have to be who I am and be who I have become.   I have worked hard, and the change is obvious (as reported by my wife). 

Is there still work to do?  Sure, but for a period, for a season,  I can relax and know that I have worth, that I have purpose and that I can enjoy the freedom that has been given to me. 

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Racing the Storm

 I set out in the sunshine and heat.  It was upper 70's in the shade but the humidity was thick, so it felt like 90!   Heading out the parkway and up Avondale, I was planning to loop back on Rose Hill for a lollipop loop.  Plans changed when the thunder started rumbling through.  I decided to turn down Concord and try to outrun the storm.
 I was successful for a while, but when I took a left on 74A, the wind picked up and the curtain of rain was closing in.  I ducked in to Dollar General for a little while.  When the rain let up, I headed up the road again.  When the next band of rain came through, I hid out at the produce stand.  After about 15 minutes, the rain let up and I took off.  

I made it home mostly dry,  just a little damp from road spray, but even more importantly, didn't get hit by lightning!
Home sweet home. 

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Scorching Hot

 Hot, almost metric century ride.
 It was hot, and I considered calling someone for a ride.  I wanted to finish this ride, though.  It has been a couple of years since I rode 60 miles. I ran out of fluids and stopped at a church to get some water from the faucet on the side of the building.  No one around.  A few minutes in the shade helped me feel slightly better.

I finished the ride.  I felt like crap, but it felt good to finish.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Milestones and Change

 As time goes by, I've been dealing with assorted issues and baggage that we accumulate as we travel through life.  I love the idea of Alpine style mountain ascents.  Travel light, carry only what you need, go as fast as you can to the top, then back down,  usually in one big push.  Maybe that's how I approach life.  Get rid of extra baggage, so I can travel light and get to the goal. 

10 years ago, when I was at a crossroads in life,  I had been rejected by few and accepted by many, I was ready to do something that I wanted to do.  I had to stop trying to fit in where I didn't belong, stop trying to be someone who I was not.  

I launched a ride program with the dream of getting kids on mountain bike outings in the woods.  The program has morphed and evolved as time has gone by, but I have always had the same dream:  to acquire a vehicle that I could use to transport kids and bikes out into the forest.   

The time came to move forward with that plan this winter.  There were several indicators that made this obvious, one major one being that I had put way to many miles on my personal vehicle, to the point that it now has some irreparable damage! So be it.  It was worth it to get the kids out of their environments and into God's creation. 
 Well,  I put the request out, and our awesome community, once again, stepped up to the plate and we purchased an awesome mini van for the purpose.  I decided to go all out and get the van wrapped as well.  Go big or go home, right?  
Yesterday, we had our first ride out in the woods.   I now take 4 kids at a time for a quality ride teaching them trail etiquette, riding skills and more.  Nothing but smiles all around!  

What a great day, not only for the program, but a milestone for me.  Change is good, reaching goals is good, and milestones give a the encouragement to let us know that we are indeed moving forward.   Sometimes slow, sometimes cruising along,  but moving forward is the process!