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.