Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dropping In

Last week we finally built the skate ramp that I had promised the kid I would build.  I found some plans online that were pretty straight forward and we got most of it finished in one weekend.

We had a halfpipe in our back yard when I was in high school in Charlotte.  I spent a lot of time out there,  riding back and forth, learning a few tricks.  Nothing super fancy, but it was fun.  I spent a lot of time out there wishing that I had more friends that could skate with me.  I had a couple here and there, but most of the time it was me.  I can't remember what happened to the ramp. 
Fast forward a couple of decades and I have a kid of my own.  I don't want him to be skating in the back yard by himself so we bought skateboards, went to the Food Lion Skatepark here in Asheville.  The kid caught on a little bit, but wasn't buying it.  I figured that if he had a place to practice and gain confidence,  he would be able to ride and enjoy it.

And yes, I am thinking that it would be a blast to skate with my kid.  People ask if I built the ramp for me, or for my kid.  Well,  if I didn't have a kid, I would not have built the ramp.

I also hope that this yard can be a safe place for neighborhood kids to come hang out,  learn to skate,  form solid friendships.  The Oakley Skate Posse......

So,  after finishing the ramp, the kid got on it and promptly wiped out, hard.  After a few pumps, I decided to drop in and promptly wiped out hard.

I spent the week thinking about it, watching you tube instructionals, practicing and finally going for it.   After 2 tries,  where I almost wiped out but didn't,  I nailed it. Awesome!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Road Trip Weekend

 The date for the Athens Twighlight Crit came around and we loaded up for a little road trip through the southern Appalachians and Foothills.    First stop was the BMX comp,  we hung out there for about 2 hours watching guys do some amazing things on their bikes,  20 feet in the air. 
 We walked around, watched the racing, watched the people,  saw some folks we knew.  For some reason there were a lot less people there this year.  It was nice to be able to access front row seats anywhere on the course, but a bummer that not many folks showed.  The racing went on and it was exciting. 

After the finish we headed to our hotel in Commerce.   About halfway there, I crested a hill with about 3 other cars, doing about 3.76 over the speed limit,  we all saw the cop on the side of the road and let off the gas.  He pulled out and was behind us in a flash.  He followed us for a mile, in the left lane, while we were in the right.  Then he got behind us, then came the blue lights.  Dang it. 

It turns out that we have a headlight out on the van and that is why he pulled us over.   I'm not sure why he followed me for so long, but I suppose he was hoping I would break some more laws..  

He let me go with a handshake once he found out that I was squeaky clean.
 Sunday morning we headed up to Toccoa Falls College to visit.  This is where Rhonda spent 4 yrs of her life, I was there a little more,  where we met and lived our first year of marriage!    Her parents wanted her to wait until she finished college before getting married,  I had different ideas. 

We climbed around the waterfall, waded in the cold water, drove around campus reliving memories.  Then we headed north.  We were thinking about hiking down to Panther Creek Falls, couldn't remember the distance.  It turns out that it is 3.3 miles one way, so we kept driving to Tallulah Falls. 

Back in the day, a person could park in the dirt lot, hike down to Bridal Veil Falls and swim or hike up the river.  Not anymore.  Now you have to pay $5 to park at the Interpretive Center, and then hike a couple thousand stairs.  It was fun being in the gorge again, fun showing the kid the 60 foot cliff I used to jump off of, but that trail was not fun.....
 I paddled this river twice.  Once in a kayak, the Dagger Gradient and once in a C-1, Dagger Cascade.  I purchased pics from the pro photog who was there, but can't find them any more.  Bummer.
Too Many Signs

 After the slog up and down some more stairs, we headed north again.  Stopping in Clayton for some Mexican food, we then headed uphill through Highlands and Cashiers.  We stopped for a hike up and around Whiteside Mountain.   About 16 years ago, I had the opportunity to climb Gom Jabber.
That was an experience I will never forget.  Hanging out on the side of an 800 ft cliff for 6.5 hrs.  
Another place with a lot of memories and exciting to share the experience with the kid. 

After the hike, we headed home,  tired.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Successfully Dropped

 After spending the day taking a group of kids from Jackson County Schools on a mountain bike ride, I got home, switched bikes and headed over to Liberty for the Thursday evening ride.  A good crew showed up and about 25 of us rolled out together.  The pace was moderate from the start but gradually picked up. 

Blue skies and headwinds, temps close to 70.  Awesome weather, the greenery bright, flowers popping out all over the place. 

The ride is a bit of a blur now, but I did my best to hang on.  The group split up along Pennsylvania as Taylor up the pace.  The A and B groups split up at this point.  I'm not sure what happened behind me, but I got in with 3 other guys and we hammered away,  pulling for a few seconds each and making some headway. 
The final sprint
 Through N Mills and over to Fletcher, I was surprised to still be hanging on.  And I felt ok.  I was tired, and legs were burning, but I just kept focusing on my body position and pedal stroke.  And relaxing,  a person is  much more efficient when relaxed.

It is the little kickers on Baldwin that usually get me, and today they got me good.  I finally got dropped and lost sight of the group.  But, when I rounded the turn onto Hendersonville Rd, I could see them in the distance. 

It was on.  I knew there was a good chance that they would be caught by a red light,  it happened every time and today the odds were in my favor.  The fist time they got caught, I could see the distance separating us start to dwindle.   I found a gear that I could sustain, and pedaled as hard as I could.  Legs burning, lungs begging for more air, I cruised.  I have no idea what my speed was, but the group was definitely not lounging back.  They hung out there about 1/2 mile up the road.  If I had one other person with me, we would be able to latch on.

Then they got caught by another red light and I was able to make one final push and re-join just as the light turned green again.  

Success!   That might never happen again, or it might, it will be different, and challenging for sure. 

Climbing back over the ridge to head home I got to enjoy the fresh, cool mountain air and see the sun setting to my side.  This is a part of the ride that I really enjoy.  Just spinning and soaking in the stillness of the evening. 

Can't wait til next week!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Single Speed Overdose

 I have finally been getting out consistently, and am glad to be putting in some time on the bike.  I've been planning on riding the single speed at ORAMM this year and so have been riding the single speed,  often.  The last ride, I felt ok and today,  I simply felt terrible.  I didn't feel tired, but my legs were thick and sludgy.  Even on the downhills, I was having trouble relaxing. 

I rode Kitsuma, out and back on Star Gap and up Mill Creek Rd.  I was really glad to get back to the truck and there was no end of ride stoke.

I tried to pump myself up, reminding myself where I was and what I just rode.   But I couldn't help but feel like getting back on a geared bike.   By the time I got home, I decided to retire the single speed and get back to training on the gears.

 I sent a message to Carey, a friend who trains and wins on single speed, looking for advice.  My friend told me that I should definitely mixed my training on geared and single speed,  likening single speed to a weightlifting workout,  a workout that should not occur on a daily basis. 
 I pulled the geared bike ( I should name my bikes huh?) off the wall, dusted it off, lubed and gave it the once over.  Everything appeared to be working.  I'm looking forward to snappy legs again! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekend Project

 A couple of years ago, I sold one of my bikes.  I promised the kid that I would use the money for a family project.  We settled on a halfpipe in the back yard.  Knowing that the project was not at the top of the priority list, we hid the money and waited for the right time. 

That time rolled around this weekend. 
 I am super proud for kid ( and I told him ).  He helped me out all weekend.  Even later Sunday afternoon, when we were both tired.  He was dragging, but he hung in there.   It was a great opportunity to teach him about good work ethic. 

Spending the weekend together gave us lots of time to talk about life stuff as well,  girlfriends, respect,  working hard,  being a neighbor etc.  Definitely a special time.

 Pizza and Coke for lunch is mandatory for hard workers! 

The rest of the pictures tell the story better than words. 


Friday, April 18, 2014


I have ridden my bike 2 times in the past 3 weeks, so I thought it might be  a good idea to start out with the A group.

I arrived at Liberty for the Thursday night road ride, and  chatted for a while.  We rolled out and hit the first climb,   several guys off the front and I was setting the pace up to the I-26 bridge.  Over the top and someone else took the lead.  We rolled down the hill and onto 191.

We had a group of about 12 now, and I was hoping to hang on for a while, but reality told me I would get dropped.  And I did.  I was pleased to hang on as long as I could.  While the overall pace was ok for me,  we hit one of the larger grunt climbs and I couldn't sustain. 

I held steady and kept spinning, keeping the group in sight.  I managed to catch up at the stop sign only to get dropped again minutes later.  And so it goes. 

But, I had a blast.  I realized that mixing it up like this was a lot of fun, and with the B group to scoop me up, decided that I would try to hang with the A's each week.  Maybe by the end of the summer, I'll be faster. 

The rest of the ride was pretty steady,  Kevin and I ended up mixing in with the B group, and doing a lot of the pulling.  The sun was setting and it was getting dark.  I bid the group farewell and headed up the parkway, tired, hurting but happy for the challenge ahead.

And looking forward to riding my bike consistently!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cut, Split, Stack

Its that time of year again, when I sacrifice some ride time, in order to get the firewood we need for next winter.  Getting it cut, split and stacked is a huge job, but if I get it in there now, it cures all summer and we have heat next winter.  I have to plan ahead, but its cool because when its done, its done. 

The job must have some sort of health benefits too.  Fresh air, exercise etc.

As I was working I was thinking about what it takes to raise up a kid,  thinking about how to learn to be confident.   I didn't get my confidence until a lot later in life, when I actually had the guts to strike out and learn some things on my own.  To fight for my rights, to work for what I wanted in life. 

I realized that you have to let a kid be successful.  You can't nit-pic everything they do and show them what they did wrong.  You have to tell them what they are doing right.   There is definitely a time and place for correction and showing them their errors,  but that should be overshadowed by telling them what they are doing right,  what you like about them, that you are proud of them. 

I caved in to the family this winter and we got Netflix.  It was a cold long winter so, I caved.  And they ganged up on me. 

Catch your kids, (and peers, co workers, spouse etc for that matter) doing something good and praise them for it.  Make a habit of it and I guarantee that one day, they will turn around and return the favor.   There is no feeling like my 9yr old telling me that he is proud of me for something!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jason's Birthday Ride!

 I got the invite to join Jason Luque on his birthday ride, and even though I was wrecked from house remodeling, and I had not ridden in over two weeks, I could not turn down the invite.  37 plus miles of Pisgah with a bunch of cool peeps, on my single speed Siren.  Great idea.

I got to the Bracken Parking lot and only Wes Dickson was there.  I had woken up late.  Fortunately, our neighbor's dog was in the process of running away, and I was awakened by her yelling at the dog to "come here right now".  I assume it was a dog,  could have been a boyfriend. 

Anyway, I woke up late and got going.  Loaded up and out the door,  I was looking forward to the day, knowing it would hurt. 

About 15 people showed up, Chris Coney, Patrick Mc, Todd B, Jason, Adrienne and a whole slew of FLA PEEPS. 

We rode downhill to some pavement,  made some turns and eventually got on some gravel.  Past Kuykendal, uphill, then turned onto some FS road that took us to Butter.  (I'm not sure of all the road/trail names, and I'm not too worried about that...)
The Birthday Boy
 I was feeling good and enjoying the day,  chatting with friends old and new.  We rode up to the lower water fall and took some photos, then headed up the FS road past the upper falls and onto Daniel Ridge Trail.  Someone mentioned something about a hike a bike.... That was fun, then I started riding.  I got in behind Wes and Todd.  We made the right turn up to the ridge that takes a person to 225 b.   That's where I failed.  I failed to wait at the intersection for the person behind me.  And they went straight over the ridge and down towards the intersection of Farlow and Daniels Ridge.

After a few minutes, someone asked where Joe was.  Missing.  I rode back down to look for him knowing it was my fault.  I found him about half way down and sent him in the right direction.  Some hikers told me that someone else had ridden by and they described Patrick.  Dang it.  I rode all the way down to the intersection of Daniel's and Farlow, but did not see him.   I figured he knew his way around so headed back up to join the group.

I climbed up to the ridge again looking forward to hearing the laughter and chatter of the group.  All I heard was my heartbeat in my ears and the wind in the trees.  They were gone.  Dang it.

 The heat, although not that hot, was getting to me.  I was running low on liquids but calculated that I could make it to the Fish Hatchery if I rode conservatively.  Nothing else to do but ride. So I did, and I enjoyed it.  It was an awesome day, and an awesome route. I figured I would catch the group at the Hatchery,  and I did. 
 After a long rest, we got ready to head up the gravel road of never ending death.  Rich Dillen and his crew rode up and stalled our progress.  After a little bit of chiding and chatting, we all head up the road.  I was feeling the long miles, fatigue and warm temps.  The thing about this time of year is that there is no leaf cover.  We take the full rays of the sun, and in those little hollers, where the wind does not blow,  it can get quite steamy. 

I found a pace I could maintain and rolled with it.  The group spread out and regrouped at the Bracken Mtn trailhead.  It was good to know that I was not the only one hurting.  Several other people we feeling the pain. 

We bombed down, each as best as he/she could and finally crept into the parking lot.
Balloons and cupcakes to finish the ride.   I bid farewell and headed back home to see the family.

Awesome ride with cool friends.  Can't beat it!