Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Roanoke VA

 We headed up to Roanoke for a couple of days.  The part I enjoy about this trip is that I get to spend a lot of time outside, with nothing to worry about but myself.  I get up when I want, head out the door, and come back when I want.  A bit of a selfish lifestyle for a couple of days, but with the wife and kid occupied,  and I refuse to sit around and do nothing,  I have no choice but to head outside!! 

After fighting 4 hours of post Christmas Day traffic we finally arrived and unloaded.  I made it to the MacAfee Knob trailhead by 4pm and headed up the AT.  Roughly 3.9 miles to the summit.  I assumed a nice long slow distance pace and chipped away at the miles.

It was cold and windy,  the low was supposed to be mid 20's and with the wind chill, I was sure it was close to that already. 

I had originally thought about spending the night on the trail, but didn't feel like laying in the freezing cold alone for 8 or so hrs. 

I passed a handful of people heading back down the trail, one lady telling me I was going the wrong way.....she was wrong.  I was headed north, and up.  Hoping to make the summit by sunset.
 I kept an eye on the sun setting behind me, and adjusted my pace to get to the top.  It was mostly  climbing with a few dips in the trail.  I was not used to going up for 3 miles so this was a good change of terrain. 
 I made it to the top with 10 minutes to spare before the sun set, but was rewarded with a thousand hues of pink.  The wind was howling, so I only got to spend about 5 minutes at the top, and even then was pretty chilled when I turned to head back down. 

I had light for about half of the return trip and then I finally got to try out my Black Diamond Storm.  That headlamp is amazing.  With several different settings, I could customize the light that I needed to see the trail.  I can't wait to use it again!
Back to the van, changed and head into town to rustle up some grub.  8 miles in two hrs.  

Tomorrow, I had plans to head to Carvins Cove to do a run out there.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Okay, wow

It has been a long time.  It was a huge project and 9 years in the waiting, and now that phase is almost complete.  I'll post pics at some point, but for now I'm going to enjoy pulling into the driveway and seeing a finished looking house.  Finished on the outside that is.  Now that that step is complete, it opens the doors to a couple more interior projects. 

I need to find a reliable and affordable electrician who can help me get that fixed up.  I also plan on raising the ceilings to match the addition,  and also building a breakfast bar. 

But for now we gotta let the funds build back up and I need to do some running.  I have a goal that I'll talk about later.  I have a certain time frame to do it in, because I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike. 

Which bike?  That is the question.  The time off has been nice and given me good perspective on what I have accomplished and where I want to go on a bicycle.  I have decided to go back to my roots and start the year off riding single speed.  I plan on making the Siren John Henry my primary whip and hitting the dirt. 

Unless it keeps raining, then I'll keep running.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Intentional Act of Kindness

I've been slammed lately.  Working on a new project that will keep bikes out of the landfill and get them into good hands while helping to fund Trips For Kids WNC.  Working on the roof and finishing the house project, waiting for materials and hoping the rain holds off til after the weekend.

I did finish my Christmas shopping way ahead of time this year,  but now I'm giddy with anticipation because I went all out this year.... but that does not really matter.

Needless to say I'm a bit tuckered.  And when I get in that state of mind, it becomes difficult to keep a good attitude.  But, surrounded with good friends and a rocking wife and kid, it becomes easier to manage the stress.

Then to top it all off, we were visiting a friend last night.  As we were leaving, the friend handed the kid something special.  Who it was or what it was, is not important outside of that interaction.  The result of the simple action is what matters.

If you want to  impact someone for life,  give up something of value,  do something for someone.  No strings attached.  When you do that, for a person,  you are making a statement of their humanity,  that they are alive, have purpose and have importance.

Practice intentional acts of kindness.  Nothing random about it.  Intentional.  Stop what you are doing for 30 seconds, write a check, buy a meal, rake a yard.  Stop buying into the madness of the capitalistic holiday season, and just take a deep breathe.   And listen.  Look around.  People, everywhere, feeling the same,  breathing the same air,  hoping for the same things.

Let's practice love, one small step at a time.  

Monday, December 09, 2013

It is raining.  My head hurts, Ididn't sleep well, and I'm hungry.  I'm not complaining, these things are temporary.  I have food in the other room, my coffee is hot,  my roof is almost dry,  just a little more work to do. 

I've spent the past couple of weeks working hard, I'm thankful for the opportunities that open up and give me the means to take care of my family and home. 

We moved into this place 9 years ago, and I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Most of the rest of the work is interior and aesthetic.  Unfortunately, I didn't document the process from day 1, but its ok,  we have enough pictures to show the progression. 

Sometimes I wonder why I expend the time and energy to make this place better.  I think about how cramped and plain and boxy it was when we moved in.  It was perfect.  What changed that caused me to feel the need to improve?  What exactly is it that feeds that urge to improve in any area?

It feels good.  I get a sense of accomplishment.  Whether in my personal, professional, recreational or home life,  I don't want to become stagnant.  I want to improve, and be around people who are interested in becoming better people. 

Can't wait to see what happens next!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Friends,

I'm thankful. Thankful for you.  Looking back over the years,  I realize that I am rich. Even while my roof is leaky, and we can't always afford to have the best of the best and all that good stuff,  I am rich. 

I look back at each of you who have impacted my life, encouraged me,  let me ride in your draft, hugs hand shakes,  high fives.   You bought me a beer, a sandwich, a cup of coffee.  You rode bikes with me, laughed with me, made fun of me. We hiked, we ran, we worked.  We had some serious discussions, and some silly ones.

I sit here trying craft the words to describe how I feel but simply cannot portray the depth.

Just know, that your friendship has added to my wealth, a wealth that goes infinitesimally beyond what we can grasp,  and for that I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving and Thank You!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chasing Leaves

I got home after dark last night.  The kid was at basketball practice so I downed some Gatorade, pulled on tights, long sleeve shirt and wind jacket to head out the door.  It was dark, around 6:30pm.  The sun had dropped under the horizon leaving a black and stormy sky in it's wake.  The temps were around 35 an dropping.  I was hoping for the snowstorm that never came. 

Up the road and into the woods, I ran.  One footstep at a time.   Confronting my fear one stride at a time.  I wore a small headlamp and carried a larger commuter light in my hand.  I alternated with turning the brighter light off and running with only headlamp. 

I took stock of how I felt.  Tired after a long weekend and a little on the hungry side.  I found it more difficult to assuage my fears.  Like shadows, they creep into my mind and attempt to cover the light,  to haunt my thoughts. 

I think about turning around.  Frankly, I'd rather be sitting on the couch,  nice and warm.  But I carry on, knowing that if I quit, I take a step backwards.  I force myself to think about the good things.  The cold wind, the night sky,  the leaves blowing..... that sounds like a footstep in the woods, why would someone be out here in the woods?....   and so on,  back and forth, the battle of good vs bad,  played out over and over in my head.

There is progress though.  Last year at this time,  I would have made the choice to stay at home.  To give up before I even started.  Definite progress and I look forward to re-framing my thoughts, getting out there and doing what I love,  challenging myself!

Monday, November 25, 2013


Lot's going on right now, just not much to write home about, so to speak.  Getting ready to get our roof redone, lose the shingles and replace with metal roofing to match the newer part of the house.  Only 600 sq feet to roof, but things keep popping up; weather, helping a friend with his roof, etc.    

Running is going well.  After last weekend's big hike, I cannot stop thinking about the Art Loeb Trail.  30.1 miles through Psigah up and over the Blue Ridge Mountains from Brevard NC, to Daneil Boone Boy Scout Camp.  I feel confident that I can do it in one push,  ie less than 24 hours.  Now I just have to figure out timing. Winter or summer?   Definitely not until the roof is finished.  

I have been on a couple more night runs and find myself looking forward to the next one.  That gets me excited.  It is a different, beautiful world out there after dark and I don't want to be held back from enjoying it.  It's my life and I want to be the one who is in control of it.  

That about sums it up right now.  I'm looking forward to more adventures soon!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I mixed it up a little bit and started the Run Club For Boys at Oakley Elementary School. ( this was in addition to bike club at the same school).  We had 10 boys sign up for the first ever Run Club For Boys. 

Over 8 weeks, each week we worked on stretching, push ups/sit ups/ and pull ups,  a timed run, and fartleks,  typically ending with some sort of fun relay race, duck duck goose and then some play ground time.

Each week, the boys pushed themselves and each other to a personal best. 

Since we had different levels of runners and ages, I was careful to keep the competition between the boys out of the equation.  I wanted each one to challenge themselves and to encourage each other.

The final day of Run Club came around,  my goal for the participants was to run a 5 k distance:  15 laps around the track behind the school.  I was a little concerned about setting the bar too high, but when I told them the idea, everyone was game to give it a try. 

And so they set off.  I was excited to see that several parents and relatives came out to cheer the kids one. 

One by one, the kids ticked off the laps.  I put a mark by the names each time a kid ran by.  I was impressed to see that one boy who had struggled, finished in front of the group. 

I was equally impressed when all except one of the kids had finished.  The last kid had one lap to go.  He was still smiling though.  Through each session I had talked about good sportsmanship and encouraging each other.  I was excited when I looked up and 1/4 of the way through the first lap,  one of the kids was running along...then another and another,  until the whole group was running together for the last lap!!  They all crossed the finish together as a group.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Birthday Hike

 I like to do something big, and solo for my birthday.  My annual bike ride to Roanoke is not going to happen this year, and with my focus on running, I decided to try something I had never done before. 

My goal was to hike up to Shining Rock, but after looking at the map and remembering that it was only 3.6 miles one way, I decided to take the long way around.  The week before the weather was looking amazing, with a forecast low of 50 on Saturday night and a bright moon hanging in the sky.   I was really thinking about hiking in Saturday evening after the kid's soccer game.  It would be an interesting hike.   But then the weather got cloudy and chilly, then rainy so I decided to sleep in my warm bed.

After a quick stop at a gas station for snack foods and another stop at Breuggers for a bagel, I drove up to the Big East Fork Trailhead, parked and started hiking. I was wearing shorts and a short sleeve wool shirt.  It was chilly enough that I was shivering but I knew that I would warm up as soon as I got up the trail.   The Big East Fork Trail is not marked and sometimes hard to follow.  I ended up crossing the river once, thinking the trail had crossed, and then had to cross back when I spotted the trail back on the other side.  Wet feet and all, I wasn't worried.  I was almost wishing it were hot out, so many swimming holes along this river!  Gotta come back this summer.

I continued walking, looking at the map about every 30 minutes.  I wasn't sure how fast I was going or how far I had gone.  I could estimate, but had a nagging feeling that I had missed my turn on the Greasy Creek Trail.  I figured I would just keep hiking and if I had missed the turn, I would simply hike a bigger loop than planned. 

After a little less than 2 hrs, I found the trail across the river, a faint line heading up into the trees.  I followed the trail, the shrubs had been recently trimmed and I felt like I was making good time.  The skies still overcast,  the air getting cooler as I got higher, I could now hear the wind, higher up on the ridge ripping through the tree tops. 

 I fully expected to be exposed and get lambasted while on the Art Loeb Trail.  I briefly got off trail again, bushwhacked, looked at the map, crossed the creek and found the trail again.  I kept climbing,  hoping the clouds would break, knowing that the views up here were amazing.  I spotted an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but then the clouds closed in again. 
 On up to the ridge and the Art Loeb Trail,  the wind was whipping.  I pulled on my rain jacket and stayed warm enough.  There were only a couple of exposed parts, but most of the trail was protected by an assortment of trees.  Hearing the wind whining just inches above my head and barley feeling the effects of the wind, was pretty cool. 
 I was excited to make my goal.  This place is special to me for a lot of reasons.  I climbed to the top of the giant piece of slippery granite, and looked around, took a couple of pictures then climbed down, not wanting to get chilled.  A quick lunch of PB&J and Coke, and I headed down Shining Creek Trail.  The 3.6 mile trail went by quickly.  The mist turned in bigger rain drops as descended into the valley.  I made it to the truck right as it started to rain. 
 I climbed into the truck, tired, satisfied and wishing I had planned a bigger loop....  5 hrs and 20 minutes, roughly 11 miles.  Great way to celebrate the last day of being a 40 yr old!
 How long is the Art Loeb Trail?

Friday, November 15, 2013


I never dreamed that I would see a person walking through my child's school carrying an M-16 assault rifle.  That non dream became reality on Thursday, towards the end of lunch, while I sat in the rotunda at Oakley Elementary.  I knew at that point that the threat was real.

The cafeteria director had asked me last week, as I sat with the kid at lunch time, if I would be willing to come in and help get the Holiday Meal ready.  I showed up at 9am and started helping cut up over 60 pumpkin pies,  putting them in serving dishes and decorating them with a dollop of whipped cream.

The task took around and hour and I found myself with an hour of free time.  I headed home to conduct some business, make some phone calls and send some e-mails.   At 10:15 am I returned to the school to help sell meal tickets to adults and families who would be joining their kids for lunch.  I really enjoy meeting the assorted parents who come into the school , and enjoy chatting with parents who I have known since the kid was in Kindergarten.

Around noon, traffic died down and the kindergarten classes, the last classes to eat lunch were in the cafeteria, getting their meals.  I headed to the cafeteria to turn the money in.  I stopped to chat with some of the kids and shoot the breeze.  A lot of kid's parents can't make these special times due to work and I try to make an effort to visit with them and let them know they are special.

Suddenly we heard over the speaker system that the school was on lock down, and "this is not a drill".  I probably could have made a beeline for the front door and headed home, but instead, I helped usher the little kids into the back of the kitchen,  following protocol.  After about 1/2 an hour, the full lock down was reduced to a perimeter lock down.  Kids and staff were now free to go about what they were doing, as long as they stayed inside the school building.   The kindergarten classes resumed eating lunch.

I walked to the office to leave the tickets and put the desk that I had used back in it's place.  After about 10-15 minutes,  we heard the principle once again on the speaker system.  We were now to go back into full lock down.

At this point, I was in the rotunda, the entrance to the school and a couple of police officers were guarding the front door.   I then watched as a trio of officers walked through and headed upstairs, one carrying what appeared to be an M-16 assault rifle.  I knew then that this was more than a drill.

I headed into the office with the rest of the staff, and listened for tidbits of information over the radio.  Apparently,  a person in a vehicle, drove down the road next to the playground and communicated some sort of threat to a group of 4 boys.  One of the boys mentioned that there might be a gun involved.  Hence the lock down.  

Now,  as humans, we tend to hear things, but then relay them differently than we hear them,  or in a panic we convey things with different intentions that are expressed.  There was some confusion with the result being, for the safety of everyone,  that the interior of the school would need to be swept by officers and cleared for safety.

An hour and a half went by.  We didn't know anything.  The news crews started showing up.  We read the headlines on the internet,  nothing we didn't already know, but still not enough to really know what was going on.  We wouldn't find out the details until later.

Around 2pm, we finally got the all clear.  Parents had started congregating, some panicked, wanting to retrieve their kids.  I can understand.  I was on the inside, but still had no contact with my kid.  I felt secure knowing that he was with his class and teacher,  I knew that they would follow safety protocol.  In fact, I didn't get to see my kid until most of the walk up / car rider parents had picked up their kid.

I won't go into all of the nitty gritty details, but I was honored to be allowed to help get the kids to the parents waiting outside, and then assist with loading the rest of the kids on the buses.   While parents were anxious, I felt that the overall response was that of respect for the police force and school staff.  It took some time to get all of the parents and kids matched up, but considering the circumstances, everyone was very patient. 

The last bus rolled back into school just before 5pm.  I drove by later on my way to pick up some bikes and the campus was still,  peaceful. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Night Running

Running is going well.  6 weeks into my running bout, I'm feeling good.  1hr 10 minutes has been my longest run so far.  That's going to change this weekend, on my big birthday adventure.  As usual, I'll post details afterwards.

Last night I went on a solo night run. 

It was cold and windy when I went out the door right at sunset.  I'm determined to conquer my fear of being alone in the dark woods.  Or, if I can't conquer it, find some coping skills, a way to live with it, and not let it stop me from doing this sort of thing. 

I headed up the road and into the woods.  Little flakes of snow fell here and there as the wind whipped through the trees overhead.  I enjoy the feel of the forest as the sky grows darker after the setting sun.  I run softly, leaves crunching under foot. 

I smile.  I'm out here and I'm not sure what is going to happen.  As I run I search for the reason, the root of my fear.  I think about control for a while.  Am I afraid because I am out of control?  How does that differ from the daylight?  Does being able to see what just made that noise, the one that sounds like footsteps give me some false sense of control? 

I continue to run.  It is dark now and I turn on my headlamp.  I need a new headlamp.  I have an old Black Diamond $20 special.  I brought my 300 lumen Night Rider Mako 5 along just in case, but for now, I run in the dim light.

My thoughts turn to focus.  Maybe my focus is wrong.  Maybe if I stop focusing on what might be out there, lurking,  and shift my thoughts to what is really happening, my fear will lighten.  I try this method.  I force myself to stop looking into the darkness for the negative.  I focus on breathing in the cold air.  I feel a glimmer of relief,  a glimmer of hope, and start having fun.  I turn on my commuter light and pick up the pace.  Focusing on nothing, just like I do when I run in the day light. 

The chances of me dying out here are probably a lot less than if I were driving in traffic. 

Focus, leaves crunching, wind blowing, city lights in the distance.  All things that make me happy. 

After 30 minutes I turn around to head home.  I continue to focus.... on nothing.

Back out of the woods, onto the pavement and home. 

I'm glad to say that I was not freaked out and jumpy as I have been in the past.  I'm hoping that a good dose of night running will help me get past this block and I can get out and enjoy the woods again as I used to.

Don't let your fears hold you back!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Sometimes I get a little frantic.  Worried that I because of my own pursuits I won't be able to share enough experiences with the kid.  In my mind I start trying to figure out how to squeeze in all of the activities, camping trips, hiking, running, climbing, riding, paddling etc.  It becomes impossible pretty quickly. 

Last night, the kid and I went to the Iron Palm Bouldering gym in Asheville.  Newly opened, with a ton of routes.  I regret selling my La Sportiva Mythos several years ago, but they probably would have dry rotted by now. 

We had a blast,  the kid was non stop.  I would watch him climb, give him some pointers then try the route myself.  After down climbing, I turned to tell him to give it a go.  He would be gone.  I looked around the gym to see him on the other side, climbing something else.  Non stop for over an hour! 

Pretty exciting to see the kid fall in love with this sport! 

Can't wait to go again.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Living on Conflict

I realized recently, that some people can't go through life without conflict.  They find ways to pick mental fights, to stir up someone's emotions.   It is passive aggressive to the max.  People looking in from the outside often can't see what is happening, and it tends to look like the person being "beat up" is the one at fault.

I actually used to be the aggressor.  I used to look for faults in people so that I could put them down. (no wonder I didn't have many friends when I was a kid). 

It was a weird habit of raising oneself to a higher status, because either no one could live up to my  standards, or someone was always out to trick me,  or get the better of me. 

I was learned at a young age that everything that someone did, if it was contrary to my expectations, of not done how I wanted it done,  they were doing said action out of spite,  simply to show me up or to put me down. 

And I was very wrong.  At some point, I started to realize that people actually want to be my friend for no other reason than to be my friend.  And then I started to realize that people were doing things differently than me, because they are different than me. Simple.   And after that,  it dawned on me that people were not meeting my expectations, only because I was the one who had failed to express my desires,  failed to express what I expected.  

It took a lot of work to retrain the brain, but as soon as I started to let go of these negative thought patterns,  and accept people for who they are where they are,  I started to develop some solid, healthy friendships. 

Living on conflict takes up way too much energy,  my own, and the person I am targeting.  Get out of the habit,  accept that people do things differently.  And most of all,  don't place expectations on people that they can't live up to.  Just because you think they can,  does not mean that they can.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Credit: Caleb Mcelhaney.

A small island in the Caribbean.   I was the kid's age when I was dragged out of Longview, TX  into a foreign country.  An island with no snakes, but filled with cactus, volcanic rock, high humidity, severe sunburn potential, scorpions that like to hide in shoes.   I was pushed into the local school where the kids and teacher spoke little to no English.  I had to learn how to make friends starting on the outside and looking in.

But I was a kid, and I was resilient.  I jumped right in and played along.  It took about 6 months of complete submersion to understand what was going on around me.  It took longer to be able to write in Dutch,  the official language.   On the playground and in the streets, I learn the local language of Papiamentu.  At home, we had to sit down again and do English lessons.

But I was a kid, and I took advantage of every situation.  Not really intentionally, but because at 10, 11, 12 yrs of age,  given free reign to roam,  that's what a kid does.  Hitch hiking with a total stranger, and watching in amazement as the speedometer needle in the Trans Am climbed above 90mph.

I rode my bike all over the island, often times alone.  Exploring every nook and cranny that I could find.  Going places that most people on the island didn't take the time to go.  I saw some really cool vistas, plants and animals.

As the years past, I got into windsurfing and plunged into an activity that would change me forever.  A wind powered tool that enabled me to skim across the surface of the water, as fast as I could hang on,  or I could simply drop the sail and dive down into the cool , crystal clear water.

I started dreaming of bigger things,  raced a couple of times,  one time making it to the semi finals.  One race director told me that I had talent,  I just needed modern equipment.  I was racing on a 20 yr old rig.

And then at age 16,  I woke up to find that I had been ripped out of paradise and dumped in the hell hole that is Charlotte.  Don't get me wrong,  Charlotte is a find place to live,  but compared to an small paradise in the Caribbean?  Yeah.

I have wanted to go back ever since,  to take my wife and show my kid what life was like.  I want to them to experience what I experienced.  And in the middle of this thought pattern,  I realize,  I don't want them to experience what I experienced.  That was and still is my life.  I want to share some of the cool things that I learned and saw,  but in the end,  I want them to have their own experiences.  I can take them back to the island (hopefully one day),  and share with them a large piece of my past,  but I need to let them have the freedom of their own experiences.

Up until recent years, I wanted to move back, to take the kid and submerse him in the language and culture.  But then realized that he is having an amazing childhood without me trying to alter it and align it with mine.  He is in an amazing school,  had amazing teachers and friends.  He is involved in the local cycling, soccer, basketball and hip hop communities.  Why not leave it like it is, and experience his childhood with him.  Be a part of his life, not direct his life.

And then it all made sense.  My childhood was not better,  just because of where I grew up.  I had some amazing experiences.  Not better, different.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Weird Dreams

I haven't been updating here much recently,  although I am updating more than I'm riding my bike....

The house remodel project of the decade is in full force and I'm learning all kinds of new skills and brushing up on others.  I will say that rock work takes patience and skill. 

I guess I'm pretty worn out, because I have been sleeping almost all night long and having some strange dreams. 

Two nights ago, I dreamed that I was in a Blue Ridge Parkway visitor's center/ office building and some kid with a revolver started shooting.  Chaos ensued and I got our safely, only for the kid to pop up right next to me.  Again I escaped, and again the kid popped up.  This cycle happened several times before the dream ended or I woke up. 

Last night, I dreamed that the kid and I were at a lake somewhere.  There were canoes in a rack, so the kid and I took one for a spin on the lake.   What followed was someone calling the cops,  me getting arrested and then going to jail for 5 months until my court date rolled around. 

What in the world? 

Maybe I need a vacation.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Back to my roots..

Since wrapping up this year's mountain bike season,  the one I started at The Snake Creek Gap TT in January last year,  I have spent quite a bit of time reassessing my goals and figuring out what I want to get out of this sport.

As usual, I'm going to leave the season somewhat open ended, open to flexibility to change goals if it works out better.  But mainly it looks like I am going back to my roots. 

When I first started riding,  I did a couple of metric centuries.  These were fun so I started signing up for a couple of full centuries each year.   I moved to Asheville 9 yrs ago and was introduced to Bent Creek.  I sold (or threw it over a cliff, I can't remember) the piece of crap mountain bike that I was riding, and bought a Specialized Hardrock Single Speed. 

After riding that for about 9 months, I signed up for the Cowbell 12 hr Challenge.  All I had was a cooler with some water and snacks in it.  No support.  I didn't know I should have a tent either, so I set my cooler by the informational kiosk, sliding the cooler after each lap, in an effort to keep up with the shade. 

I had a blast and immediately signed up for ORAMM, finishing with my best time ever...  7.5hrs.  In the 3 subsequent years, I have not been able to come close to that time. 

So, here I am, 5 years later.  I have improved a lot, no doubt, and I would love to continue racing every other weekend.  Traveling around the Southeast, staying in hotels etc but a few things have changed. 

I have an awesome 9 yr old now who deserves my attention.  And I want to be there to see him slide tackle that kid, and score that 3 pointer. 

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like without a kid.  It would definitely be different.  I would have different experiences, different failures, different successes.    But in the end, this is what I signed up for, and just like my mountain biking career, I am determined to do the best I can. 

Another thing that has changed is the wife has a job with an odd schedule.  Again, this is what I signed up for, and I am uber proud that she found a career that she loves, and I will do what it takes to make sure she is successful at it. 

And lastly, another huge issue is the cost of living.  When I started racing, I could enter a race for $65, and buy a gallon of gas for close to double that.  Not anymore.  Everything, bike parts included is more expensive.   Don't get me wrong.  I'm not whining or singling any one race out of the mix.  I'm just saying things are more expensive.  And on top of that, I now get to register for soccer, basketball, piano lessons etc.  Life in general is more expensive.  

But, that's how it goes.  No use sitting around complaining about it.  Just have to readjust goals. 

At this point, with the home remodel still going strong,  I've turned to running to keep me sane.  An hour out the front door and back has been a lot of fun.  I live near some trails so I have just been running out and back and enjoying the change of pace. 

For next year though, I'll be doing a lot of riding just for fun.  I have an idea of a handful of races that I want to go back to and finish successfully, without winding up in the back of an ambulance.  Hopefully I can get those worked out on my schedule.  I also need/ really want to get down to ride the Trans North GA route.  I'm going to need a big chunk of time for that,  and to work out some logistics.  Maybe a 2014 spring ride though, we shall see. 

That about sums it up.  Still riding, less racing, still having fun.   I'll miss hanging out with the MTB community every other weekend, but that's life.  I now get to hang out with soccer moms and dads every weekend!!  

See you on the trail, or the soccer field!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Trips For Kids WNC Cycling Kits

Check out this link to order your new edition of our cycling kit. 


I lace up my running shoes and pull on my tights and long sleeved shirt.  The sun was low in the sky and the wind was whipping up what felt like just a taste of a winter storm.  I stretch and head out the door.  A brisk walk up the road to warm the muscles and then the quickened pace of a slow trot.

I'm not focused on speed, just good form.  If I'm moving forward and nothing hurts, I'm happy.

The pavement turns into gravel, then into single track. Yellowish brown leaves are strewn about in heaps, still fluffy from falling freshly onto the forest floor.  Not so many that the trail is not discernible, but soon, the trees will be bare and the ground covered.  The leaves will hide the perils of the trail, rocks, roots, potholes.

Someone passes me running the opposite direction,  we greet and then I'm alone.  I focus on the rhythm of my foot fall.  I listen to the sounds of the woods,  although today for some reason, there is not much going on.   No squirrels running about collecting food for the coming winter.  No birds singing.  Already huddled in their nests?  Possibly.

This is the first cold snap that we have had.  The summer has been delightfully cool,  I didn't miss the typical blast of heat that we have had for the past several summers.

As I run,  thoughts creep into my head.  Life's issues, little and big.  I have to fight to stop them.  I'm not running to work out my problems.   I'm running away from them.  To forget, just for a short time what is going on in the world.   To just enjoy the colors, the smells,  to be free from the things that drag a person down.  To glide, hop, skip, jump.  Running in search of freedom.

But, I don't really have to search for it.  It is right here,  I just have to accept it and enjoy it.  And I do.  For close to an hour, I relax my mind.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


It is something that I have wanted to do for a very long time.  A tattoo.  I have had tattooed friends since I was in the 5th grade.  The problem was, that growing up as a missionary kid,  in a conservative home, I was taught that tattoos were evil, sinful and even potentially the "mark of the beast".    If that is the case, I guess I'm screwed and God can stop spending so much of his time loving me.  Cause I went out and got ink.

It has been and still is a long journey.  I was talking to some friends the other day who jokingly agreed that kids should be beat into submission.  I calmly disagreed with them and explained that beating kids into submission is much like breaking a horse.  You break their will to be free, to roam to....be a horse.   

I read an article recently about a child who was standing in line with his father.  The child, being a child, repeatedly asked his father to buy this or that.  The father, finally fed up, shut the child down, telling him to stand there silently or else.  This article struck home, and I realized that as a child and into adulthood,  I had been broken.  Afraid to speak up, to ask questions, to live my own life.  I based decisions on what I thought my parents would approve of.  (hint: your children seek your approval). 

After many discussions, with the voice in my head, friends and of course the wife,  I decided to do it.  It only took me  1 yr from the time I decided to move forward to getting it.  Lots of logistics,  as in: how do I find an artist I trust?  what design? etc.  But then I talked to a friend this weekend who had a really cool piece on her arm and it clicked.  She told me that the work was done at Empire Tattoo.

I walked into Empire Tattoo yesterday and told Brian what I had in mind.  We had some discussion and came up with a simple design.  I liked it and was ready to go forward but needed the wife's approval.  I took a copy of the design home and she loved it, so it was all systems go. 

I walked in again today to get started.  The artist,  Ryan, spent a little time on the drawing board, dialing in the final design, showed it to me for approval, then went to work. 

Now, I must say,  I don't do needles.  I used to get my cavities filled with no numbing, just to avoid the needle.  I gave blood once, and nearly could not make it back to my dorm,   I was useless the rest of the day.   Knowing that I was squeamish, I practiced all of my relaxation techniques and things seemed to be going well.  Until suddenly, I knew that passing out was just around the corner.  I told Ryan I was light headed and he stopped working, got some water for me, a cold cloth, and a Dum Dum. 

Here I was, manning up to get some tattoo work, and now I was laying on the floor,  about to pass out.  It didn't really hurt,  it was likely the anxiety that had me losing my cool.  Ryan was chill about the whole process, telling me that this was normal.  I asked him how far he got, considering living the rest of my life with a half finished piece of artwork on my finger.  I was surprised when he said he was over halfway done.   Several more minutes of recovering went by, I tried to get up once, but was not quite ready. 

I don't know how much time went by, but we finally got back to work.  I decided to close my eyes and imagine that I was somewhere else.  After little time, he sat up and asked what I thought.  I was and am very pleased. 

The design simple yet so deep with meaning that only those who know me well will truly understand,  yet on the surface it makes perfect sense: permanence and infinity,  the promise to be with my wife forever, is now forever tattooed on my skin.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I think I finally recovered from the early morning last week.  Call me soft, but the only other recent time I have been up before the sun is on bikepacking trips.  Why waste perfectly good darkness on being awake.

Speaking of bikepacking, the TNGA is on my radar but with the ongoing house remodel at the top of the priority list, it might be a while. 

I usually don't get into politics very much.  For some reason, the recent ACA and government shutdown debacle is on my radar.  Politicians will play their games, with no other intention that to fill their own coffers.  This is a generalization and there are a handful who I believe on working for the people.   There is nothing wrong with making money though.  The problem I have is when you are doing it at other people's, hard working people's expense.   That is wrong.

And now the country will be in debt by about 16 Trillion when the new year rolls around.  What happens when we can't pay it off, and who do we owe that much money to?  Time to cut back on some politician's paychecks...
And on top of the politician's antics, the insurance companies, which are money making machines...at the expense of commoners , are jacking up their premiums?  

What next? 

I thought about skipping this post, don't want to bring you down.  But these things have been on my mind.   The above actions challenge me even more to love my neighbor, and help my fellow human.  It spurs me to continue to provide bike to the communities youth so that they can experience the joy of riding and all the positivity that comes with it.

Maybe I should take a load of bikes to the white house and take Congress for a spin....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trips for Kids - WLOS News13 - Waking Up with News 13

I set my alarm for 3:50am on Thursday.  Wow,  why?   I had a date with Victoria Dunkle and Adam- the cameraman  at The Bicycle Thrift Shop....at 4:30am.  (Dunkin Donuts is closed at this hour)   I had a great experience.  Both individuals were very professional yet warm and friendly, and made themselves at home in the shop for 2.5 hrs.

Below you can see the news footage

Trips for Kids - WLOS News13 - Waking Up with News 13

Monday, October 14, 2013

Busy Weekend

 Fun filled weekend that we spent mostly together as a family, enjoying different events in our area.  Friday night we headed out to the Elaida Corn Maze.  Fun times.  I didn't know that there were other activities going on or we would have planned more time.  This was my first corn maze and it was pretty cool.  I'll go back next year!

 Saturday morning I headed up an effort to clean up the grounds around Oakley Elementary.  About 12 adults showed up and kicked some tail, getting things done.  The place is starting to look better, lots to do still so we'll keep chipping away. 

Home for lunch, then out to Pisgah Brewing to  help set up the AVLX course.  We set it up in a record 2 hrs and I was out of there to go watch my kid play soccer.  He is a great player!
 Sunday morning, up early for the Ride 2 Recovery.  I had planned on the 70, but something I ate had other plans, and after a rough night of little sleep, I settled for the 50.  This route proved to be challenging enough.  I started out at a chill pace, chatting with several different people. 
 I stopped for a little while at the first rest stop and got heckled by some first class hecklers...

I decided to head out of the rest stop,  knowing that I usually catch people or get caught.  I figured I would keep rolling my own pace and latch onto a group later.  I passed one guy and then rode the remaining 30 miles alone.  Oops, so much for a social ride!  The route was very well supported and the people very friendly.  For participating we got a cool tech-t and a finishing medal.  And the ride supports wounded veterans!
 I  quickly rode home to gather the family and head out to the AVLCX races.  The kid did awesome at the kid's bike race.  Placing 3rd,  I'm so proud!

Friday, October 11, 2013


For some reason, I have a deep internal desire to run.  Maybe its because that is what kickstarted my outdoor adventure background.  Possibly it is because I have a desire to run a trail marathon.  Probably because I like to switch things up and keeping it simple is a good way to go about doing that.

Running is one of the most simple forms of transportation and recreation.  I used to read books about Jim Elliot, a missionary who was killed why attempting to reach the Huarorani in Ecuador.(wiki).  He used to run, to "be ready".  I thought that sounded like good advice, so sometime in between high school and college, I started running. 

I had a pair of black Chuck Taylors and on my first run, I ran the mile to Mc Donald's got some water and ran home.  I felt a freedom and a sense of accomplishment.  This period led to several very successful but slow 5k, 10k races  always on pavement.

The Turkey Trok 10k in Charlotte became a yearly ritual.  I remember my parents coming out to watch one time,  they weren't really sure why I would do such a thing. 

I moved to college at Toccoa Falls College in NE Georgia.  This was a great move.  The 1000 acre campus butted up to miles of wildlife management area, and was within 1 hr drive to Helen, GA, the Chattooga, the Appalachian Trail and more.  I was in heaven.   I didn't make great grades in college,  but I'm pretty sure that it had nothing to do with having the great outdoors right outside the dorm.  I have theories, but that's another topic for another day.

And so I ran.  Into the woods, up trails, then up the side of a mountain, off the trails.  I ran when and where I wanted.  Evening runs on the paved loop around campus became a ritual for me.  I ran alone.  Sometimes, a group would gather to go sightseeing for the day,  to a water fall,  or explore the Tallulah River Gorge at low water.  I would join them and soon get bored with the chatty slow hiking pace and start running.  Occasionally a few would join me.

I didn't really know what I was doing, but I was just going out and running.  Most of the time I was probably undernourished and dehydrated, but that just shows what the body can take.

I decided to enter the Run For Peace Marathon in Charlotte.  The race shut down because the director "took the money and ran".   Not sure if he made it to Alabama.  

I found a rudimentary training plan and went for it.  I ended up injuring my IT band two weeks before the race while doing my 19 mile run.  19 was the farthest I had ever run so it was pretty successful.  I tried resting and icing, then attempted the marathon only to bail after 10 miles due to the injury.  It is something that plagues me to this day, despite all of the common treatments.  I think it has to do with poor stride technique but can't get it figure out.

1 yr later, I attempted the marathon again and decided to finish no matter what.  I ran-walked a lot and around mile 18, the rest stops were shutting down.  I plodded on.  Around mile 22, it started to snow.  I plodded on.  The ambulance came by to ask if I was ok.  I was.  I was properly dressed for the weather.  After 6.5 hours, I finally finished my first marathon.

I started this post to explain why I run.  I have not really addressed the issue directly, because I'm not really sure.  The real reason?   Because I want to.  I enjoy it, it brings me a type of freedom, and its simple.

The activity won't be replacing cycling in the long run, but its definitely a handy tool to facilitate enjoying this awesome mountain range we live in.  I am toying with running a lot of the trails I ride, just to slow down and enjoy them.

Feel free to join me!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Big Red

I spent all my free time yesterday, in between meetings and opening The Bicycle Thrift Shop,  hauling the debris and tossing it into the big red dumpster. That means all I have left is to caulk the entire project, touch up some paint spots and sit back to enjoy it....

Time to go for a run!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Dull Life

There has not been much to write about lately.

The weather turned chilly this weekend and we started up the wood stove.  This stove is our main source of heat.   Its a lot of hard work, but I am at a point now where I am 1 yr ahead on gathering wood.  It takes a lot of pressure off to be able to plan ahead like that.   It would be cool to have finances stored up that far out.  But of course, if I did,  I might spend it on a new bike.

That's right,  I'm seriously looking into a full suspension.  Its gotta be the right one though.   I've tried quite a few that have too much travel.  I need/want something racy,  100/110 mm travel in the front  not too much in the back.  I don't like the squishy feeling when pedaling.  I'm thinking Superfly..... 

No hurry, just saving and waiting for the right deal to come around.
I have not been riding so much lately.  I'm planning on doing the Ride 2Recovery Ride on Sunday.  I figure I'll go for the 70 miler,  then pack it up and head out to watch some of the Asheville Cyclocross races at Pisgah Brewing. 

For now though, its just day to day boring stuff,  like loading a dumpster full of remodel debris.

I did go for a run yesterday.  Just under 1 hr, and it felt great.  I'll have to write more about why I made that decision soon.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Getting Close

 Getting close to the end of the current project.  I decided to push on through to the end instead of leaving lots of little jobs that never get done.  I'm worn out and beat up but its worth it.

3 major projects left,  one necessary and two cosmetic.

Once we get the roof redone,  (and the leaking stopped)  I want to raise the interior ceilings for a more open space.    In conjunction with that project,  I want to tear down a non load bearing interior wall that separates the kitchen from the living room,  rearrange the kitchen and build a large bar/eating area.

Unless I uncover a pile of money, that will be the long term plan!

It has been a long slow journey but I am learning a lot along the way.  Seeing this stage has given me the confidence to complete the project.  There was a point when I was burned out and didn't care much about it anymore.  That'll happen,  you just have to give it a rest sometimes.

The wife picked out the colors, and it turned out really good.

Gotta get the whole project caulked and then touch up the paint.  The final step will be getting the piles of debris removed.

Actually, the final step will be to smile every time I pull up in my driveway and see the new siding!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Nine days off the bike, by choice and for good reason.

We bought this fixer upper house 9 yrs ago and have been working on it ever since..... when the finances are available.  It has been a long road and lots of cussing, spitting and learning.

Below is one of the before and after pics.  I'm too tired to go in depth about it.  It was a challenge equal in difficulty to any bikepacking trip I have done.  And the reward is just as fulfilling!

We are now one step closer to realizing our dream home!


after (during)
I finally got to go for a ride again yesterday.  It felt great.  Just a 1.5 hour spin through Bent Creek. 
Then when I was loading bikes for the Oakley Elementary Bike Club,  I reinjured my back.  Time to take it easy for a while and let the body recover. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Stage 5

I woke up at 5am.  Well, I didn't really wake up,  I had not really slept.  30 minutes here and there all night long.  It turns out that everyone I talked to was feeling the same.  I knew I would feel better once I got on the bike and started riding.  Today  we were being shuttled up past Gloucester Gap for the start.   After getting loaded up and securing a spot in the front seat of Wes's truck, we slowly crawled up the road.   3 trucks with trailers full of bikes and a big yellow school bus full of people. 

I'm not a big fan of shuttling to the start, but I was looking forward to a shorter stage today.  25 miles that included Farlow, Daniel Ridge and Bracken Mountain, ending at the Brevard Music Center. 

We lined up and Todd counted down sending us ripping down a 1 mile downhill to the gap then the gravel climb up to Farlow.  I push for 10 minutes then settled into my pace.  The climb as usual was relentless.  It was a relief to get to the single track climb and have something other than gravel to focus on. 

The morning had started out cloudy, turning into heavy mist.  When the wind blew, the water drops fell off the trees making it seem like rain.  The temps were warm though, and I was comfortable.  I couldn't push the pace too high though, because it was humid and I knew that overheating on a day like today was a real threat. 

Down Farlow,  I started riding, then watched Dick come flying by, bobble, go airborne and land on his side.  He got up quickly and was ok, but I was spooked so I started hiking down the trail. 

The hike a bike sections on the other side seemed to go quickly and I soon found myself having fun, pushing my pace on lower Farlow.  I didn't get caught on this section, but Melissa came within sight.  She had passed me at some point each stage and I was never able to catch up to her.  Today, I was determined not to let that happen.  She would be my motivation to keep pushing.  I didn't really care if that person was male or female,  I just knew that I needed motivation.  I had also passed Hans on the Farlow downhill, hike a bike, and was looking over my shoulder for him to catch me as he  usually did.   It turns out that he crashed, breaking his nose.  He still finished the stage about 30 minutes behind me. 

I flew down Daniel Ridge and stopped at the rest stop to get  my fresh bottles and headed out.  Melissa passed me and disappeared.  I headed out in pursuit, knowing there was an 8 mile gravel climb coming up.  I'm happy to say that no one caught me after that point.   I reeled Melissa in and rode with her for a mile to recover, before picking up the pace just enough to pull ahead and out of sight.  Thom Parsons and I rode together.  We chatted a bit, but mainly just put our heads down and climbed.  Thom dropped off at some point and I rolled on.  Finally reaching the top with noone in sight behind me.  A few minutes later, I spotted Melissa on a switchback above me.  I refused to let he catch me, so I punched it.  The last 6 miles is newer, less than 1 yr old single track and with the rain it was slimy.  There was no way to rail all of the turns so I decided to punch it up every single climb, and not stop pedaling unless the trail tilted down,  even then taking a few good pedal strokes. 

I glimpsed her less as the trail went on and finally made the last down hill.  Glancing back I didn't see her, but kept the pressure on until the finish. 

Crossing the line felt great.  A big hug for Todd and Heather and I was finished. 

I wound up 10th in the 40 plus cat and considering the back injury on the first day, I am satisfied with being able to ride through the pain and stiffness and hang onto my  position. 

Can't wait until next year!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Stage 4

 After feeling empty and lacking power all week, I got tired of it.  I grabbed a hot dog and  french fries at The Hob Nob Cafe, then picked up a giant pizza at Marco's on the way home along with some beer from Earth Fare.  I've been watching my diet, eating lots of veggies and less snack foods, but my body was hungry for some carbs and fat.... and that's what it got. 

This morning, on the way to the race, I picked up a dozen Bo Berry Biscuits for the volunteers and bought steak and cheese biscuit for myself.  It tasted great and stuck to my ribs!

I lined up at the back of the pack, not wanting to get caught up in the gravel road sprint.  I fell in behind some folks who were of the same mind and we took a steady warm up, up the gravel.  Left turn onto Spencer Gap and up the steepness to the single track.  I found my groove and was pleased that I was able to maintain my desired pace.   Crossing the top of Trace and dropping into the gnar on the other side, I stopped to let the Simril train cruise by and then rolled down again.  I was again pleased when I relaxed enough to ride almost everything. 

Down through the bottoms we came to a very confusing spot.  I saw markers in two directions and new where the route was supposed to go, but didn't know if the route had been altered by the race directors for some unknown to us, reason.  Pretty soon there was  a group of about 6 folks there, and everyone thought it best to follow the arrow to the left.  I went along with the crowd. 

By the time we reached aid station 1 it was obvious that we had made a mistake.  Nothing to do but keep riding, and so we did.  I kept my pace and tried not to think about anything except nutrition, pace and pedal stroke. 
 Down Lower Trace, across the river, through the campground, left up Wash Creek Rd,  cruising along with Dick and Hans,  more of the Dutch crew.  Super nice guys and strong.  We made it to rest stop 2 where the wife and kid handed me bottles with water and Coke.  Perfect,  the stop took no longer than 10 seconds.  We headed up Trace and I walked the steepest parts and rode what I could, knowing that I needed to save some for stage 5.  I was with about 3-4 other guys and Pua, who had gone the right way, passed us halfway up. 

Finally to the top of Trace, then down Spencer Gap to Wash Creek Rd. Hang a left on the gravel road that leads us to Bear Branch,  bomb down, then back to Wash Creek Campground. 

Todd informed us that he would be taking our average MPH, and adding 4 miles to our total time.  Everyone that I heard, agreed that was a fair way to go about it.  The only downside is that we missed Middle Fork and the super fun upper section of Fletcher Creek.  That's racin'.
A dip in the super cold creek to get the muscles primed for tomorrow, and we loaded up and headed home. 

One more day..... looks like it might rain!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stage 3

34 miles. 5178 ft of elevation gain.

I drove up the Parkway to the start this morning and was treated to some great views of clouds filling the valleys and bright sun overhead.  No tourists out this early so I made good time to The Cradle of Forestry, got warmed up, and to the start line.

The start was actually fairly controlled with all the leaders on the front.  I was feeling good and ready to ride like I had trained.  We knew the left turn onto gravel was coming soon, but were caught off guard when the police leadout pulled into the left lane and stopped.  With no warning, the first half of the group barreled past the turnoff and had to turn around while the second half of the group made the left.  We could have used a marshal or arrow or something.

Onto the climb, then left on Club Gap.  Lots of anaerobic riding.  I was feeling good and felt like I was under control.  I guess I didn't have as many matches as I thought I had.  I ended up walking a lot and was glad to get onto S Mills River Trail.  3 of us road down together, a smooth train of cyclists on old rail trails.

Across the river and onto Squirrel Gap Trail, the trail with no trailhead.....

I stopped to make a minor adjustment on the bike when Marc,  a friend from Curacao, passed me.  We ended up yo yo-ing for the rest of the day.  Neither one of us saying much, but glad to have someone to keep the pace. 

The first rest stop was at mile 18.  I was hoping that 52 oz of liquids would be enough.  Up and down on Squirrel, then dropping down Laurel Creek Trail and across the river.  With 3 miles to go,  riding the past hour overheated, I drained the rest of my water and sports drink.   The climb up Bradley Creek road was a grind and the slowest that I can ever remember doing that climb.  Marc was just behind me, keeping pace.  I could tell he was dragging, just like me so I periodically let him know how much was left in the climb. 

At Yellow Gap, I sat down and ate some Coke and potatoe chips.  I was feeling like crap, and knew that I had some endurance pace, but no snap.  I got back on the bike and headed up the climb.  I kept within sight of Marc for a while, losing him in the contours but catching sight when the trail straightened.  Then I lost him.  I climbed, hiked, hiked and hiked.  Up and over the top, I was feeling ragged and worried about the decent.  I took it easy and didn't take any chances.  I would get halfway through a switchback and simply freeze up.    Halfway down, I came across Thom Parsons.  He followed for a while, then asked how often I got out to ride the trail.  I said not very often.  I immediately hit a switchback and just froze up.  I didn't have the mental stability to make the turns.  Unfortunately for Thom he was not expecting my crappy skills and had to stop fast causing him to take a small tumble.  (sorry Thom).  I apologized and he waited for someone else who could ride to take some solid footage. 

I eased the rest of the way down the mountain and turned right.  Marc was at the rest stop.  I didn't stop.  He quickly caught me and it became apparent that he was super strong on the downhills and flats, and I was stronger on the climbs.  Without a word, we worked together,  me pulling up the inclines and he pulling through the flats/ downhills.  I glanced down once and we were hitting 27 mph. 

We finally hit the pavement for a mile then left and across the finish line.  Marc waved me up, and we clasped hands and held them up, crossing the line together. 

Another day down.  Still looking for my mojo.  I'm in 10th in the 40 plus cat,  and I'd like to stay there, so I have to keep fighting. I'm starting to wonder if something is wrong with my components causing undue drag.  I looked it over and couldn't find anything.  Maybe this is just not my year.

What I do know is, I 'm going to give it everything I've got.  Never was much of a quitter!

Nothing to do but ride!

Stage 2



Wednesday, September 18, 2013:

  • 29 miles, 5118 ft of elevation gain
  • Named for the Brevard town mascot - the White Squirrel
  • Includes Thrift Cove, Buckhorn Gap, Club Gap and Avery Creek Trails
  • Rest Stop 1 - Mile 14
  • Rest Stop 2 - Mile 22

I woke up feeling about 55%.  As the morning went on, my back started feeling a little bit looser but still tender.  We lined up and the gun went off.   I went for it, but after about 2 minutes, I realized that my body was not ready yet.   I had spent so much energy protecting my back yesterday that I had almost not power.  I rode on the outside of the trail to let the hordes behind me get past.   And then I settled in to my pace.

Nothing to do but ride.  It is frustrating.  Having trained more consistently than ever before,  knowing that my legs are stronger,  doing everything right and then an uncontrollable weakness creeps in.   I've been dealing with back issues since college.  I was on a humanitarian trip, helping build a concrete wall for a community center in the Caribbean.   I was digging a trench all day in the hot sun and completely destroyed my back.   2 weeks of bed rest and then 6 months of physical therapy and I was able to run again.  

Nothing left to do but ride. 

I spent most of the day alone. Sycamore, Thrift, Black, Maxwell, aid station 1, the gravel road of death climb, Club Gap,  Avery, rest stop 2.   I stopped to refill,  get Coke, and eat some chips.  Pedaling down the hill to the horse stables, I didn't think about much except the 4 mile climb up gravel.  Clawhammer to Maxwell.  I hit the inline and click up a gear, spun, click up,  it felt good.  I had some power back so I found my normal race pace and held it there for a few seconds.  The seconds turned into minutes and I was making some headway up the giant mountain.  Something had clicked and I was feeling about 85% now.   I went with it, and help my pace to the top.

Then I started thinking about the Squirrel, Laurel, Pilot Loop on tap for Thursday and wondered if I just might be able to move up a little out of my current 10th place ( in my cat: 40+). 

Up over the last climb and down to the finish, feeling satisfied. 

I spent the afternoon before dinner hanging out with the "freaking" Canadians: Joel, Anna, Mark and Christian.   They are fun loving, kind people, who talk a bit funny eh?  But they fed me spaghetti, beer and Mark even washed my bike for me.  

Thursday is going to be special!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stage 1

28 miles.

I woke up to some awesome weather,  cool and overcast.  Perfect.  Coffee, get the kid ready for school, load up and hit the road.   I was feeling good,  little did I know that feeling was fleeting and things would take a turn for the worse.

I made it to Brevard with plenty of time to sign in and get ready, taking a nice warm up ride.  I still felt fine.

Todd told to ride neutral until we hit the left turn on hwy 280.  I guess the "other" Canadians, didn't get this memo or don't speak English so well because they tore out of the parking lot like bats out of Pisgah Hell.  Pinning it from the start.  I was missing the pros from years past who were able to at least keep the pace steady.   This was the fastest we have ever gone out of the gates.  I rolled up to the front, and let the 3 guys know that we were neutral until the left on 280.  One guy laughed and said " Oh,  I'm pulling off soon anyway"....  doesn't get it.

So we all tried to hang on and after the race, found out that we all thought the pace was way too high.  Anyway.

Left turn onto the gravel up into Turkey Pen then drop down the single track to S Mills River.   I was feeling a bit off, and not managing the trail very well.  I was bouncing all over the place and not sure why,  I simply did not feel in balance.  I slowed down and went my pace trying to find my mojo.

Up Mullinax and onto the steep grunt climbs.  I had some momentum, slipped on a round rock, and came to a sudden standstill twisting my wrist and jerking my back.  My wrist hurt but everything else felt ok.   But, over the next 10-20 minutes, I felt a burning sensation creeping up my left leg, into my glute and finally stopping in my back.   I stopped and got off the bike, knowing that my "race" was over.  I couldn't keep power on the pedals and I couldn't ride the techy stuff.

I got back on the bike, and tried to relax, find an easy gear and just spin.  And that's how I spent the rest of the day,  just spinning, trying to keep moving forward and not giving up.   We still have 4 days left and anything can happen.  Typically when my back does this, under normal circumstances, I recover in 2-3 days.   Racing bikes?  Its gonna take a miracle.

I managed to find a position on the bike that would give me periodic relief, especially climbing up Buckhorn Gap Trail.  I made my way to the top then left on Black Mountain.  The hike a bike then the down hill.  I know quite  a few people who like Black Mountain trail, but it is so eroded, that its not fun for me anymore, much less with a tweaked back.  But that's how it is so I gotta  roll with it.  And that's what I did,  walking some riding some, grimacing lots,  down to the bottom and to the finish.  3hrs 41m,  about 30 minutes slower than I had planned.

Massage by Hands On Healing Professionals, cold dip in the river, Ibuprofin, warm epsom salt bath, ice pack, stretching exercises,  and hopefully tomorrow I'll be a bit more limber..

The weather stayed nice and cool for the whole day,  perfect for me.  Although my new friends from Curacao were cold.

Can't wait to line up again tomorrow.

Pisgah MTB Stage Race 2013

Well, here we go.   Stage Race #5.  I am surprisingly not nervous.  The day before is the  worst.  Lots of mental and physical pacing.  My mind tires before my body, then I have trouble falling asleep.  I think I got about 6 hrs which is a record for the night before. 

I have been trying to decide if I like bikepacking or racing better.  I've had to scale back this year and find a balance.  The answer would be neither.  I like both.  This time of year however,  I'm tired of pushing my limits of fast and would be content to ride my own slow bikepacking pace, soaking in the views. 

But when I hit the line, I know that I'll get pumped up and know that I signed up for a race, not a tour.  And it turns out that I love to race. I still love to push my limits, and see what all my training and consistency has added up to.  Podium? Highly doubtful,  but I suppose there is always that slight chance. 

Sometimes I wonder if I would line up even if there were no podium.  The answer is yes, for example: The Save The Trails Challenge.  I'd like to see a lot more of these fun type rides. 

But this week is all about racing, so here goes.  The drive train is lubed, the chamois buttr'ed, the coffee hot and the engine rested. 

Nothing left to do but to ride!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monster CX and Stage Race Prep

 The alarm went off and I went back to sleep.  I woke up an hour later, an hour late.  I took a deep breathe and rolled out of bed.  It was nice to know that I was not in charge of the rest stop this time.  I was to meet Mark Smith from Liberty Bikes to support rest stop # 3 at Monster CX.

Somehow, I got ready, got coffee, picked up some breakfast and made it out to the start in record time.  I made it with 15 minutes to spare.  I had planned on meeting Mike Keeley at the start to wish him good luck, but when I got there,  I totally forgot to look for him.  So, I just stood around, said some hellos and watched the start.  Sorry Mike!
 I headed out to the spot and helped Mark and Norman get set up.  We had a huge spread of a buffet.  Pete, Sarah, Jaimee,  Ben and Macy showed up a little later.  We were a well oiled support machine and got lots of compliments on how well organized we were.   Mission accomplished.

 This was Mike's first ever Endurance CX race.  He has done some shorter gravel rides, lots of centuries and several multiday trips, so he knows what it takes to get it done.  He rolled into the rest stop smiling, and feeling "ok".  He looked great and I told him so.  After some bacon and gatorade,  he was off to the finish.  Congrats Mike!
 I had to head out a little early to get to the kid's first soccer game.  I grabbed the leftover doughnuts and offered handups out the truck window as I passed racers.   Noone accepted until I came across this dude.  He is a local endurance racer who knows that you don't pass up a doughnut in the middle of the woods.  Mike Pearce along with Mark Sackett recently took a shot at the Palmetto trail.  They ran into a lot of flooded land and had to improvise but they got the job done!
 Sunday, I took the kid out for a ride.  We were out for 1.5 hrs, and had a great time.  I realized that my headset was getting a little stiff so after the ride and a stop at Waffle House, I set about getting it in order.  I wound up with a new stem and new headset.  Thanks Matt at Liberty Bikes for helping me sort things out.

One last shakedown ride tomorrow, then its go time on Tuesday!  Can't wait.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thursday Night Ride

 Well the final (for me) Thursday night Liberty Road ride rolled out with about a dozen guys.  Bob Wright joined us after a long hiatus,  it was good to see him out and about.  The wife works with him now at the hospital and she reports that he is a hard worker.   He apparently works hard at his cycling ability as well because he pretty much ripped my legs off.  Just what I needed as final prep for next week!
Thanks Matt for the last minute flat fix!

We pedaled out at a moderate pace.  On the I 26 climb, I found myself on the front again, so I set my pace and we cruised up.  I didn't hear any chatting so that made me happy.

 The rest of the ride was mainly a repeat of previous rides.  Pull, peel off, try to recover,  land in front again.   There were 4 really strong guys, and I found myself in the group just above my skill level, but I dug deep and was able to hang on and do my part.

Me taking a picture of Nixon taking a picture

 We had a nice cloud cover, still lots of humidity, but cooler air temps made it bearable. 

overheated and toast....
I'm always at my limits after this ride.  I'm feeling great about my fitness and feel like I am more fit than ever before.  This group ride might have been frustrating at times, but I keep coming back because I know that it is good for me.  Part of the frustration is my own fault,  coming in with hopes and expectations that I have shared before.

I learned a lot this year though.   I met some new and solidified friendships with old friends.  Our cycling community is diverse.  Lots of hidden talent,  lots of strong personalities.  I'm excited about the future of cycling in our town.

While a lot of the rides tend to feel cutthroat, beat each other into the ground,  I believe that anyone on the ride at any time would sacrifice a training ride to help a fellow cycling with a flat or other mechanical.   I saw it happen repeatedly this year.  Someone waiting for a rider who got dropped to pull them back to the group,  stopping to help change a flat,  waiting while half the group got caught at a red light.  Sometimes even turning back to go look for someone.

What sticks with me about this ride is that our cycling community really does care about our fellow human being.  It is encouraging to ride with folks like this.  And in some strange way, it gives me the energy and desire to keep working with kids and teaching them to be world conscious riders,  aware of the humanity around them.

Thanks for the great rides,  see you next year!