Wednesday, January 30, 2013

John Henry

 Dreams do come true.  Since I got bit by the bikepacking bug, I have been riding an aluminum frame.  While lighter than steel,  aluminum is very stiff, and that stiffness had me thinking about a steel frame.  I had considered a Niner but could not get away from the quality of a hand built Siren. 

After a long time of waiting, not knowing if I would ever have the funds for this frame,  it worked out, and within a couple of weeks, I was building it up.   The build went fairly easily,  I only had to make two trips,  one to Liberty to have a blue Cane Creek 110 headset installed, thanks Gabe,  and one to a friend a little closer to borrow a crown race puller.  The Frame arrived at 3pm and I had it built up by 8pm.  All of the parts transferred nicely, and I replaced the old chainring bolts with some Loaded blue one.   This bike will slowly be highlighted in blue.  (blue I-9's?)
 I built it up and rode it around outside.  It feels fits and it feels good.  I brought it back in, took some pictures and stared at it for a while,  then I sat on it,  looked at it, etc.   I had trouble deciding on color.  It took me about a week to decide, so I went for a ride one day to mull it over.  Then it hit me.  Clear coat.  Brendan Collier is the builder, and does a fine job.  "Performance Art" is his motto, and I figured "Why cover that up?".  I want to showcase the frame, and I also want something to look at in the hotel room, in the middle of a long ride when I'm feeling beat up.  I'm riding a piece of art over hill and dale.  So cool.
And then she started to look a little naked so I dressed her up proper.  And she looks good!  All dressed up and nowhere to go....well lots of places to go, just have to wait for the right time!!

Thanks Brendan and Mary at The Hub Cyclery for helping me get this rolling, and thanks to Liberty Bikes for helping me build it up.   (And thanks in advance to Salsa for the blue seat post collar and skewers..... ?)  Why not, its ok to dream.   After all, dreams do come true!

And lastly, thanks Rhonda for helping me fuel my wanderlust!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Coming to Grips

This season's training has been interesting so far.  Since starting racing about 5 yrs ago, I have been hellbent on forcing my way to the podium.  I talk about how winning is not the most important thing etc, and while I believe that, I would still like to get to the top. 

In the past 2 months, already pushing through several challenges,  I have been coming to grips with the reality that I might not be programed to win.  I'm not sure why, but that inner drive to sacrifice everything is simply not there.  Actually, I think its there, it is just supressed by other things in life.  Things like spending time with my wife and kid.  I skipped two major workouts this weekend, in trade for fun time with the family. 

Some would say that I was sacrificing training time and that my fitness was suffering.  I say I'm not willing to sacrifice that much family time and have my relationships suffer.  Its a balance, really, and I have to remind myself to stop comparing myself to others. I have to stop trying to stand on top and be the best. 

Instead, I need to focus on my personal goals.  There will be plenty of time later this season that I do sacrifice that family time and head out on a big (hopefully) adventure. 

So, my goals are changing, or rather, I am realizing what I am capable of.   While it would be great to stand on the podium,  I'll keep doing what I'm doing,  enjoying my family, then riding my bike.  That sounds like a winning combo to me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


So,  apparently, things have changed quite a bit since I last had a physical.  One of the first things the doc asked is why I was there and what I expected.  I told him that I wasn't really sure what to expect but was under the impression that a human was advised to have a physical yearly, getting blood work, urine sample etc.

(this rant is not directed at doctors,  I have lots of friends who are doctors, and I love and respect them.  This is directed to "the system".)

After some discussion, where I admittedly got lost in confusion,  I left with the understanding that things have changed and a yearly physical is no longer needed.  If fact I felt like the doc was confused as to why I was wanting a  physical since I had nothing wrong with me.  I agreed,  if I don't need anything done, I won't have it done.

He said I could have blood work done if I wanted to but I would have to come back after fasting for at least 8 hrs.   I don't remember them telling me that when I scheduled the appt, but if they had told me, I'm sure I would have come prepared. 

Which brings up several questions and puts me further in doubt of the health insurance rip off.   Is the medical field so overwhelmed that medicine is not pro active,  watching for signs and symptoms of severe diseases such as cancer, heart disease etc?   Do we wait for the symptoms to surface before we get concerned?  

Or as an athlete am I more in tune with my body?  Listening to every ache and pain and researching to figure out what is going on inside? 

And why am I paying hundreds of dollars a month for something that I don't necessarily need?  Just in case........  hmm ,   so many questions, so little time.

I vote for a society that is more pro active and less concerned about making money off of "what if".

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dr Appt

I go to the doc today for a physical and I am nervously anxious.   Don't get me wrong here,  I don't have a problem with doctors,  I have more than a few friends who are doctors and I respect what they do.  

What I have a problem with is my thought process.

First, I go to the worst case scenario.  I haven't had a physical in 4 years, due to not having health insurance.  That's a long time.  Who knows what is happening inside my body.  Tumors, disease, etc could be spreading.......ok,  I'm a little skeerd.

Then the doc comes in, asks questions, hmmms  a lot,  makes notes and decides to take some bloodwork, " just to check some things".  

Really?   Like what?  Why so secretive?  So I don't freak out?  I'm already freaking out, so tell me what I should be freaking out about, and so on. 

Then comes the next waiting period,  waiting for the bloodwork lab results.   It takes up to a week.  That's another 7 days of freaking out, without knowing what to freak out about!!

After that, I get the e-mail that says everything looks fine.    Really?  All that freaking out about nothing?  Typical human being.....

Here's to hoping everything is all right.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Columbine-The Book by Dave Cullen

I borrowed the book from a friend.  I was interested to read the account for myself and draw my own conclusions.  It seems that the author did a lot of research and uncovered a lot of stories,  both sides of the stories,  something the media rarely does.

In fact, a portion of the book was dedicated to what I already know,  the media tends to report on the fly, with half truths and not knowing the whole story.  And when part of the story is missing, they tend to fill in the blanks.

I don't understand why people continually fall for the hype.  I'm guilty of the same in some instances.  Human nature I suppose. 

I'm not doing a complete summary here because it would take too long, and I'm still sorting through my thoughts. 

For those of you who don't know, I spent quite a bit of time in the child mental health field as an assistant house parent, then later as a Child and Family coordinator: a case worker working with children, family and community  to attempt to help them all adapt and help the child.  Some of the children were severely abused, while some were convicted sex offenders. 

One of the goals of the book was to show that Eric and Dylan both suffered from assorted mental disorders.   It was not guns that were at at fault, they were merely a tool.  The kids were not targeting specific people groups,  they wanted to die, and they wanted to take as many "inferiors" (humans) with them as possible. 

They had propane take bombs that fizzled, they spent over a year building an elaborate plan on how they were going to end it all.  They planned to execute on the anniversary of the Oklahoma Bombing. 

The kids were sick and they didn't get help.  Their parents were "unaware" of what their children were going through and doing.  It is difficult not to judge, but there does not appear to be a connection or relationship between the parents and child.   Eric's father was domineering, and quick to punish transgression in a very militaristic style,  which seems like it offers consequences but lacks nurturing. 

Nurturing is a very important part of child development,  without it, the child/ adult craves those feelings of love and acceptance and seeks them out in ways that are sometimes unhealthy.

Dylan wanted to die, but lacked the "courage" to do it by himself,  he needed approval and got that from Eric.  Eric was a mastermind and needed a partner to help him carry out his plan.  Dylan was a perfect fit, doing just about anything that Eric asked him to do without much resistance, receiving approval.

I'm not convinced that gun control laws would have stopped this or other massacres.   The person with this type of severe mental disorder is so driven that they will find a way to accomplish their goal regardless of laws in place.  I'm not saying I am pro or anti gun control.  I am simply saying that I am not convinced that it would have helped.

The big picture problem that we are dealing with is mental health.  Why won't the media stir the public into a frenzy about that?  Probably not as exciting as assault weapons.  I also think that we are not 100% sure how to deal with the mental health issues.  Mental health is much less tangible than a gun.  It is much easier to "make something happen"  and issue a law about banning weapons than it is to funnel more funding into mental health research and treatment.....or is it? 

According to society, a mental disorder is something that is "not normal", or "shameful".  If you have a mental disorder, there is something wrong with you. 

As a kid, I was taught that my family was "normal" and that anyone who thought or acted differently, was strange, not normal or even crazy.  Continuing through life, I have come to realize that that assumption was false, and that people experience very real issues and deal with them on a daily basis.  These people are not strange or crazy,   I would say they are normal.  Mental health and its demons are a part of daily life and we are all attempting to cope with the demons of various sorts that haunt us.   Each battle is fought a little bit differently, and each battle is worth fighting.   Never give up.

As a final point,  I want to urge you to spend time with your kids.  I have a goal of listening more than talking when I am with my kid.  He has some important things to say.  He has some deep questions to ask as he develops his own world view.  I hope and pray that I can give him the nurturing that he craves and that I can give him the guidance to make sound decisions as he moves through life and battles his own demons,  ones he does not even know exist.   When he makes the good decisions, I will celebrate with him.   And when he makes poor judgement calls,  I'll be there to urge him onward.  

We can't do this alone.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cold January Rain

It was cold but the forecast said that I had a 3 hr window of no rain.  The temps were mid 40's so I dressed with long sleeves and a vest.  I would later wish that I had a jacket. 

The air was cool but I was excited to be riding outside.  A huge rainstorm was moving into the region and I knew that it might be several days before I could ride outside again,  so I went for it. 

Pedaling south on the parkway, I enjoyed the bare trees and the sights of winter in the woods.  Once I reach the gravel and started climbing, it felt good.  I paced myself, knowing that I had a ways to go.  but I never faded.  I felt good, and stayed that way for the whole ride. 

Finally a break through.  Roughly 30 days after my new fit and things were starting to click.  I managed a steady pace and ground up the gravel,  coasting the downhills,  easing into the corners and spinning through the climbs.  Occasionally, I stood up to get over the top of a steeper climb. 

Halfway through the ride, I was cold.  It had started raining 30 minutes into the 3 hr ride and now I was wet.  I wished I had my jacket to cover my arms.  My core was warm, but my cold arms some of the fun out of the ride.  I cut the ride short and headed  home,  satisfied.

It was one of those good rides that will linger in my memory and motivate me to keep going forward.

Keep moving forward.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Humming Along

Life hums along and sometimes I can't remember exactly what consumed my time in the recent days, but I know I was busy, because I'm tired at the end of the day.

Training has taken a bit of an unexpected turn this week due to the monsoon rolling through.  Some roller time, but not enough.  Better than nothing.  There might be a little less rain today and I'm hoping to get out some.

I hope so, The Snake is coming up fast, and in maddition despite knowing better, I got this:
Message from the Event Director
Thank you for registering for the Pisgah 111K mountain bike race!

I need to finish it this year.  Last year was derailed due to sinus stuff.  I made it 50 miles. 

The Wobblenaught fit continues to treat me right.  I am halfway to the point where my body and mind should be mostly adjusted to the new fit and pedal stroke.  I'm starting to do some harder efforts, and while still feeling weak, I can also feel a little more power creeping in as the muscles develop.  Good stuff!

One last thought for the day.  As I was doing some volunteer work at my kid's school, I wondered just why more people don't volunteer,  anywhere.  I decided to throw out a challenge:  Commit to volunteering 12 times this year,  somewhere, for at least 1 hour.   If you do, I promise, it will change your life!!   If you need ideas on what to do, contact me.

Have a great day! 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Canoe Trip

 Sunday, we finally got the chance to take our new canoe out on the lake for a trial run.  After a quick stop at REI to get the kid some polar fleece clothes, we were off.  All he had was cotton and there was no way with all of my wilderness training, that I could let him go out on the water on a cold day like this wearing "the death fabric"

We launched and started paddling.  I was very surprised and please at how stable the boat was and how easily it moved through the water.  There was  a breeze kicking up as we made our way all the way across the lake to the far side where we stopped and  had lunch on the shore.

It was so exciting to hear the kid's exclamations, this being his 3rd canoe trip ever, there is lots for him to discover, and lots for me to rediscover! 
After about 2 hrs of paddling around, we headed back to the boat launch to call it a day.  I was also happy that the kid did not complain once about anything for the 2 hrs!  Success.

I cannot wait to get on a river with him.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Snake #1

 The Snake Creek Gap TT finally rolled around and I was scared.  I've done the race before and I knew that I was not prepared to go fast and long.  So what did I do?  I told myself to keep it reeled in and take it easy,  this was just a training ride,  there is no way I wanted to DNF.   And that is exactly what I did not do.

See,  there were 400 other people out there, trying to go fast and I kind of got caught up in it.  A power descended on me and I could not resist...  until I could no longer submit.

The day started bright and sunny with hotel breakfast and a quick run to Starbucks.  Then it was of for a drive through the country to find the start.  Our plan to get there before the crowds was shattered when we pulled up and there was already a line formed with a couple hundred more riders rolling to the start. I was mostly ready so I finished getting my gear on, bid the family farewell and headed to the back of the line.

This is how I mark my bike...;

 The air was warming and my fingers were the only things that were really cold,  the rest of me was hovering between comfortable and cold.  I started with a steady pace, focusing on my new body position and pedal stroke.   I am sure the the Wobblenaught fit and accompanying instruction played a big part in saving my ride today.

After getting started, going to fast, slowing down, getting stuck behind slower riders etc, I kept going too fast.  This scenario repeated itself all day long leaving me on the verge of cramping and praying that I would finish and not DNF.

What happened?  I went to hard too soon.  I hope I got that out of my system for the year.  It seems this is  a hard lesson to learn and I am not done learning it yet.  Don't know why....

The start
 The temps warmed up and halfway through, I stopped on the side of the trail to strip arm warmers, vest and swap hats for a lighter one.  I was then on the chilly side, but no longer worried about overheating.   I also realized that I did not drink enough early on.  I have gotten used to 2 hr rides with a granola bar and a bottle of water.

At the last water stop, with 10 miles to go, I was blown.  I was cramping in my right hamstring and my left trapezoid.  My arms were like rubber and my eyes were stinging from the dry, cold air.  I passed the spot where I DNF'ed last time I was out here and that gave me a little boost.  Then I pulled out the Honey Stinger Lemon Lime Chews with caffeine, and munched every mile or so for the last 6 miles.   Little miracles infused with honey, and while all I wanted to do was sleep, I was able to summon the energy to continue driving forward.

When the spectator said "1 Mile to go"  I did not believe him and asked " Exactly 1 mile?".  He assured me that it was and I knew then that I would make it.   I tried to accelerate but my body would not have it. 

Crossing the finish line felt great.  I wasn't worried about my time, just elated to have finished,  and motivated to put my nose to the grindstone on the training end of things.  Not that I have not been training, just December hit, along with illness and the holidays,  you know.

So, my first long training ride of the year complete, and as I sit here writing, I feel fatigue but not unusually sore,  thanks again to Eddie O'dea and the Wobblenaught fit.  And thanks to Brendan at Siren Bicycles  (and Mary) for some quality work on the Siren 55 SL!!  And thanks to my awesome wife and kid for being my support crew.   I apologize to the folks who tried to talk to me after the race and I didn't stick around.  I was heading over to get some food and spend time with them.

See you next time.

The Finish

Thursday, January 03, 2013


I'm racing in two days.  I'm pumped, and nervous.  I have not done any consistent racing in the past couple of years.  It is exciting to get back into it and I look forward to continuing to improve. 

My best time at the Snake is 3:58, in 2008 on a single speed,  that was the first year I started training with HRM.  I was not able to beat that time since,  even after moving to a geared bike.  This is the first time the Siren will be heading down there so I look forward to seeing how things go. 

I don't have high expectations though, its been a rough month.  Weather,  sickness,  some weird swelling in hands, knees and feet (possibly a reaction to shrimp).  I'm just going to go out and have fun,  enjoy the ride and the company.  After that, who knows, I'll have 4 more weeks of training under my belt for the next one!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Happy New Year

 What did you do with your Christmas break?   Me?  I took the wife and kid to visit her parents, I rode my bike, played with the kid, went out to see The Hobbit, rode my bike, went for a hike, got some sort of ailment that is making my wrists, hands, knees and feet swell....
Carvins Cove, Roanoke VA

Up on the Ridge

Game Face

solo and peaceful

Fancy Rock Armoring

Awesome Trail Signage

Me and  my  favorite Lady

This is how Christmas Day was spent at our house....
Now I'm waiting for the doc to call me back with an appt time so I can find out if I am going to die or not... "If you are not living you are dying"