Thursday, June 16, 2016

New Mini Van

 We started having some issues with the Ford Deathstar that we have had for close to 8 years.  Nothing major, but enough to wonder if it would last through family vacation at the end of the summer.  And I definitely didn't feel comfortable sending the wife on a road trip to visit her parents.  We have been saving for a couple of years now, once I realized that in order to get something nice, that will last.

Neither of us have ever purchased from a dealership and after hearing the horror stories of old,  I was a bit nervous.  After researching and deciding on  a Dodge Grand Caravan,  we did some "window shopping" at some local dealerships before finally driving one.  We were pretty sure that this would be the type of van for us, until that test drive.  Then I wasn't so sure.

I called our mechanic and chatted,  got some recommendations.  Frankly,  I was tired of the search and research and we had enough saved for a large down payment.  (My goal was to pay the full amount, but it didn't look like that was feasible).  We have never had car payments either,  new territory.

I started looking at Toyota Siennas.  Mike and a bunch of other friends have them and they are still rolling with over 200K miles.  I found one online Friday night at Jim Barkley Toyota in Asheville, ( highly recommend them).  I sent an e-mail reserving it for a test drive and drove it at 9am on Saturday.  2 miles into the drive, I called the wife.  "We don't want a Dodge Caravan,  we want this Toyota Sienna".   So many packages and options,  this van had what we needed and wanted.  Rear folding seats, rear AC/Heat control, and middle row roll down windows.  And it is the sport model so it looks really cool.  I like that. 

We sat down to make a deal and it was going so smoothly, and I was so ready to be done that I failed at negotiating.  But considering the price had recently been dropped, and I felt like it was  a fair deal, I rolled with it and drove it home on Monday.  

Adventure van is ready to adventure!
In other news, I have not gone on a ride in 1.5 weeks.  With the kid out of school and me getting ready for summer ride programs, things are crazy.  So when a neighbor called and offered to keep the kid for the day,  I jumped at the opportunity! 

So hot, but so nice.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Takin a Break

 I've taken some time off the bike for a couple of weeks.  It is too stressful and nearly impossible to ride this time of year.  With Rhonda's weird schedule, the kid out of school etc.  So,  I don't try any more.  Instead, I spend time doing things that I have not had the time for.

Things like scrubbing the hull of the sailboat..... and going windsurfing.
 While spending 6 yrs in the Caribbean,  I picked up the sport of windsurfing.  This was my go to, my get away.  I would get a ride out to Sorobon, one of the windsurfing meccas of the world and stay out there all day,  jumping waves, and chasing sunbeams.  When I move to Charlotte I held onto the sport, but then moved to NE GA,  for college and it was not practical to keep chasing wind anymore.

Fast forward 19 yrs later, and I'm once again riding the wind.

That first day back on the water early this fall was simply amazing.  It was like reuniting with a child hood friend.  A friend who had taken me under her wind and guided me those day,  had helped me escape the life that had been chosen for me.  The friend who helped me see that I could be good at something,  helped me see outside of the boundaries that had been laid around me.

As exhilarating as that first day back on the water was though,  the experience woke up a lot of sleeping emotions that I had no clue were still there.  Once again, my old friend was helping me work through life! 

The wind is a quite different up here in the mountains than the trade winds in the Caribbean,  lots of gust and swirls,  but, I'm thankful that I can get back out on the water.  
I promised the kid that we would learn how to fish this summer.  He wants to catch bass.  I have only a slight clue how to catch bass.  We went to Dick's Sporting Goods, got some advice, bought some supplies and went fishing.  We have gone out  a couple of times over the past week with no luck.  Finally over the weekend, the kid caught a nice sized one!

I'm not that great at fishin',  but maybe the kid has hope!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Another Amazing Weekend

Selfie at 60mph is difficult
 One year ago, we bought tickets to Navitat for the kid's birthday.  We weighed him at his doc's visit a couple weeks before to make sure he met the  70lb min.   We excitedly drove out to the site, checked in and got weighed.  According the Navitat's scale, he was 64 lbs.   I accepted the lame dad of the day award and the kid cried.  We were all very frustrated.  Navitat was kind enough to refund 2 tickets and give us a voucher for the 3rd. 

Winter rolled around and we monitored the kid's weight.  He is growing and active but had not gotten much over 70.  I bought 2 more tickets on with a groupon type deal.  We weighed the kid at the dentist, at home and at school.   His weight was just under 75, subtracting 4 lbs according to the Navitat scales, he should just make it. 

We decided not to push the reservation back but go for it.  We arrived again, checked in, got weighed....  he was right at 70lb.  Good to go. 

The experience for me was.... meh.  The wife and kid had a blast.  I was having  a little bit of stomach gurgling, and had to constantly focus on relaxing so it didn't turn into an emergency "run" in the woods.  Might have been more fun if I didn't have to deal with that.  I don't do well in situations where I am not "free to move around".   I would recommend it though,  I just don't plan on paying the money to do it again.  But, the family wants to....

Sunday, the Fletcher Flyer loomed.   It was 2 weeks since P111K, and I had ridden my bike 2 times since.  What was I thinking?  I dusted off the single speed and got out to Oskar Blues for the start.   There was a good chance of rain and thunderstorms so that was exciting.  

They started the ride a little early and the leaders rolled by as I was getting ready.  I saddled up and almost caught the lead group before settling into  a good cadence.  

I was geared at 46x16,  a pretty spinny gear, but one that I could manage.  This was the first time I had tried this gearing,  last year's 46x17 was not quite enough.   I found that I was rolling on average around 20-22mph.  If I kept that average, I would wind up close to 5 hrs for the century.  I have never broken the 6 hr mark, and 6:10 was my fastest time a couple of years ago.  I held a steady pace, riding with several different groups and enjoying the scenery.   

The last 15-20 miles was the most difficult.  It was warm, around 80 and probably about 90% humidity.  My body just wasn't cooling off.  I force myself to keep drinking and ate another gel. 

I was thrilled to cross the finish at 5h34 mins!  PR by 31 minutes!   I'm not sure how or why, since I only rode 2x in the past 2 weeks.  The only thing I can figure is my legs were super rested... something to consider for the future!  

Friday, June 03, 2016

Fast Forward

 This week has flown by.  Memorial Day I spend with the kid.  I always know he had a great time because he won't stop talking from the time we are done with whatever activity, until bed time!   This was one of those times!  I think I'm going to name the boat "Zippy".  It is a little 12 foot fiberglass motor boat, but with the 20hp motor on it, that thing "zips" along.  We were the smallest craft on the lake too! 
 We started saving for new appliances last summer.  Just setting aside a little every paycheck.   I'm not sure why it took us so long to learn to save and plan ahead, maybe it is due to the fact that the wife and I both have steady income and we have some extra to save (so we can spend?)  It feels good to exercise the discipline though, and  save up $1000 to buy some nice appliances.  And the wife loves them!

Next on the list.... mini van. 
 Mid-Evil days are the topic in Social Studies, they were having a field day and we were invited to chaperone.  I dressed up as a castle. 

I'm averaging 1 ride per week now that my race season is over.  It feels good to get out, but I can't wait to get out more.  In a couple of weeks, I'll be riding every day, thanks to the Trips For Kids WNC ride program!  Can't wait to get some kids in the woods. 

 To finish off the week, we said goodbye to our pup, "Texas".  He was 15 years old and lived a full life.  He taught us how to be good dog people!  I definitely learned some things about myself and how I needed to improve, from working with him!  Letting go was hard, but I know that he is better off, and I got some good sleep.  He typically woke up to go outside a couple times each night.  I have not slept through the night in a very long time.   Ollie is the alpha dog now.  I'm looking forward to seeing him get more spunky without the grumpy ol' Tex barking at him every time he makes a move!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Life After DNF

 Got a gravel grind in out at Bent Creek.  Saw a little black bear,  about 100 lbs.  It was alone, but didn't want to snuggle.  Must have recently left momma to make a life for itself. 

 The views are amazing, and the weather perfect. 
This has been one of the best May that I have had in a while.  I backed off of two commitments that I have had in previous years,  opening up some free time (that I promptly filled with bike rides and family time!).   I feel so much more rested and energetic than in years past.  May is no longer my month of mayhem.  Relief.  I guess I'm learning my limits and working on my quality of life!
 I was thinking a little more about the P111K this year and what I learned from my time on the bike and my DNF.  The route has become less ominous and I realized that with a little more focused training and not screwing up my nutrition, that the finish is definitely attainable.  The past couple of year have been rough, as mentioned above, esp during the month of May. 

I actually felt good on the bike up until I started getting too hungry, around mile 45.  That's when I started going into deficit, and making that up is possible but difficult.   Gotta be preemptive with the food!
 My smoker skills are getting pretty good,  I cooked up some mean chicken breasts and some potatoe, corn and onion mix in tin foil, steamed in it's own juices with salt, pepper and butter....

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Long Walk Home

 I dropped the mini van, nicknamed "Deathstart" off at our awesome mechanic and walked home.   The walk took about 2 hrs.   I had planned a bike ride for the morning workout, but this is such a pleasant walk mostly in the woods.  And I have made it somewhat of a tradition. 
 The MST meanders through the Swannanoa river valley and parallels my neighborhood, which makes it easy to get home without crossing any major roads. 
 I can only imagine how fun it will be once the greenway network is rolling!
 The mini van, which we have had for a looong time,  is a 2003 For Windstar with 122K miles on it.   It has been very reliable and for that we are grateful.  But,  over the winter, the transmission started shuddering when shifting.  On our trip to ATL, it got so bad that it seemed like the engine was trying to jump out from under the hood. 

I have been fortunate enough that I have never had an automobile loan.  The van was a gift from Rhonda's grandmother, who was losing her eyesight,  and the truck that I currently drive was a good deal from a family member. 

Before that,  the most I had ever paid for a vehicle was $1200 for a VW Vanagon.  (kicking myself for selling it,  they are going for $5000 and up these days).  My first car was a Buick Century mid sized station wagon,  I paid something like $600 for it. 

It seems that the right type of vehicle always comes into my life at the right time, with the right price tag.  We are patiently waiting and praying to see what the next step will be this time around. 

I'm also getting details on an auto loan.  A good mini van, with low miles and in great condition is gonna cost us some change.  We have been saving, but its gonna be a while.  Maybe we'll drive the Deathstar until it implodes.  That will give us more time to save and look around for that right deal. 
Nothing like a long walk home to clear the head and relax the soul!

Monday, May 23, 2016

P111K 2016

I signed up.  Finally.  Thursday night.  The weather forecast improved and I decided, "Why not go for it, and see what happens".  I know where and when to bail and if I can't make it,  I'll at least start.

That 5:30am alarm though,  its  a real downer.   I got up, got my stuff together and drove to the start just outside of Brevard.   As I was getting dressed and ready, I realized that I had forgotten my race sammies at home.  A quick text to the wife and plans were made to have them delivered to Yellow Gap.  (mistake #1)

Less than 100 of us started off, with partly cloudy skies and perfect temps.  Up 276, right on the gravel, then right on Clawhammer.  I maintained my pace well, and while my heart rate was slightly higher than I would have liked, I was enjoying the momentum and definitely not burying myself.  Although, when I caught the Simril Train, I wondered if I should back off.

The week before the race, I switched my gearing to 32x21,  from the 33x22 happy legs gear.  It felt good as the 33x22 had become too spinny over the past couple of rides.

Up and over Buckhorn Gap, down to the river, Squirrel and Cantrell Creek,  then finally up to rest stop #1 at Turkey Pen Trailhead.

The Motion Makers crew did an amazing job getting me rolling again,  I grabbed some pb n j and took off.

I was feeling good and walking some of the steeper stuff to conserve energy.  Bradley Creek Trail and Road went by pretty quickly and I arrived at Yellow Gap by 11:30am.  Not bad.  The Liberty guys at rest stop #2 were chipper but could not find my bag.  After what seemed like 5 minutes, I finally found it, on the tarp, 10 feet from where I laid my bike down. 

I had planned on eating a sandwich here, but with the stress of not finding my bag, I didn't think about grabbing what was available.  I figured that I would eat my Ally's Bar on the N Mills Loop and eat a sammie when I got back.  (mistake #3).

On the way down to the campground, I passed the wife and kid.  She offered me the sammie, but I refused because outside support outside of the rest stops are illegal......  (mistake #4)

I continued on, and started getting really hungry.  I ate gels and the Ally's Bar.  Still hungry.  I realized that the Ally's Bar, while good n tasty, does not have quite the calories that I needed.   I'm pretty sure that at this point in the ride, I started dipping into reserves that would be impossible to replace while still on the bike. 

I ground my way around N Mills River and finally back up to Yellow Gap.  I stopped to refill and finally ate a sammich.  I was feeling ok, and not worried about making it.  I took off.  But then I started to fade.  Loss of power, sleepy,  a couple of dizzy moments.  I stopped on the side of the trail for about 5 minutes.  I was at mile 51.  I was looking at another 4-5 hours of riding/hiking if things went well.  

I stood on the edge of that hole looking in.  I was hydrated so that was good.  I felt ok, except the dizziness kind of worried me.  I could keep going and keep eating and drinking,  trying not to go too deep into that hole.  I was pretty sure that my body was burning everything it had.  I could also keep going and drop off the edge of the hole and require rescue... hafway up Laurel, that could take a while. 

51 miles and still have the energy to get back to Yellow Gap.  Not bad.  7 ish hours in the woods on a beautiful day.  Still having fun.  Still feel good.  Still reaching my goal of being fit and feeling good.  I could press on.  I might finish.  I'm not going to go there today. 

Turning around was easy.  I was a little bummed at not finishing,  but I don't want to go down that hole right now,  so it was ok. 

I called the wife and she gladly came and rescued me.   She is awesome!

Back at the start finish, got cleaned up and had a burrito and a Coke.

I'm already planning on how to train better for next year!