Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Oakley Elementary Kaboom Playground Build

Ok folks,   time is drawing near for the June 19th Oakley Elementary Kaboom Playground Build...

And we need your help.

I have lived in Oakley for 11 years now.

After we moved in, I waited several years, anticipating the day that my kid would be old enough to play at the park behind the elementary school.  He was finally old enough to walk and we went to the park often to play soccer.  As time went by, more playground equipment was added.  We played on all of it.  We had a blast and made a lot of memories.

Now though, most of the installed equipment is outdated and does not measure up to current playground safety standards.  So it is time to do something about it.

April Alexander, 4th grade teacher has vision. 

Several years ago, as I was chatting with her and other teachers on the playground,  she shared her feelings and vision for the neighborhood.  We talked about how we can demonstrate taking pride in our neighborhood and set a good example for our youth to follow.  The next day, I took my weed eater up to the park and started doing instead of talking.  It seemed there were budget cuts and the weeds were taking over my neighborhood park.  I had the skills to pay the bills, so I went at it.

What followed were more volunteers, and work days. Simple people giving up personal time to make our neighborhood awesome.

Oakley looks a whole lot better, and feels a whole lot more inviting than it did 11 years ago!

This year, April Alexander practiced what she preaches when she applied for the Kaboom Playground Grant, which is funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC.  After a lot of hard work by the faculty, staff, PTO and members of the community, we won the grant.

On June 19th, 250 volunteers will converge on the school property in our awesome little neighborhood and build the playground pictured below.  In one day!  But we need your help. 

We knew all along that this would be a big undertaking, and we are up for the challenge.

So,  what do we need from you?  Simple,  sign up to help.  Sacrifice one day of your time and be a part of a community coming together to accomplish something that is so much more than  a playground.  This is going to be a magical moment that you do not want to miss out on.  Be a part of making our neighborhood, our community, our city, a great place to live.  A place that offers help when needed.  A place that wants to provide a warm, safe, loving environment for our youth.

 Click the link below and register to sign up:

We also need all kinds of tools, take a look at the list below and let me know if you can help:

Wheelbarrows 15
Spade shovels 30
Rock/Metal rakes 30
Cement (or garden) hoes 15 or more
6' step ladder 2 or 3
8' step ladder 2 or 3
Manual post hole digger 5
corded drill 10 plus
Powerful cordless drills w/batteries 5 plus
8 lb sledge hammers 2
4 lb sledge hammers 2
Garden hose with spray nozzle 2
100' extension cord 5
Power strips.cord splitters 5
25' extension cords 5
Digging Bars 2 or 3
Tamps 3
Garbage Cans 3 to 5
Claw hammers 10
Tables 15
Chairs 60
Pop Up tents Pop Up tents
Generator 2 to 3
Bobcat (prep day) 1
12" auger bit 1
18" auger bit 1

Thanks for making our community awesome!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


 Friday - Sunday I spend my time at The Mountain Sports Festival.  I loaded up most of the gear from The Bicycle Thrift Shop,  and moved it all to Carrier Park for our annual Used Bike and Gear Sale.  This is a great fundraiser for us and an excellent way to spread the word about what Trips For Kids WNC does. 

 When Monday rolled around, I we were wiped out, so we decided to go chill at the lake.  The wife and kid rented a paddle boat while I sailed.  The wind was steady and brisk, so they passed on sailing this time.  I got to spend time with another little 10 yr old, helping him fine tune his sailing skills.  His mom asked if I was a teacher.  I suppose I am.  I love sharing my passions with others,  enabling them to create their own experiences.  Riding bikes and sailing are high on the list of passions. 

Got a busy couple of weeks ahead leading up to the Kaboom playground build,  getting things ready for the summer ride program, and all the other stuff that I spend my time doing!  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What I Do

I often get comments from people who are not quite sure what I do:  "Wow, you ride your bike a lot",  "Do you have a full time job?",  "Do you work at a bike shop?",  "What do you do all day?"  Etc.   There is some sort of assumption that all I do is ride my bike and drink coffee.  Ok,  part of that is because that is about all I post pics of on Facebook.  But,  I really don't think you want me to post a pic of me in another meeting, or sending another e-mail,  or answering another phone call,  or writing another trip in my calendar. 

So,  here is a peek into my daily life.  Yesterday is a great example. 
Wake up, get coffee,  do computer/e-mail/pay bills etc ( office work), take the kid to school, take the truck to get the oil changed, squeeze in a 1.5 hr bike ride, get a shower and lunch,  visit some bike shops to pick up donations,  order a bike to give to a girl who cannot afford one, head to The Bicycle Thrift Shop to work on bikes, open the shop and get ready for The Used Gear and Bike sale at Mountain Sports Festival. Close the shop and take bikes to Regeneration Station for our booth there, head home to spend 45 minutes with the wife over dinner before she heads to work,  take the kid back to Regeneration Station so he can get a wheelie bar for his Razor Scooter,  head to a friend's house to fell a 40 ft dead oak so it won't fall on his house, car or head,  head home, help the kid with homework, hang out, go to bed. 

Insert ride outings, bike club support, meetings etc toss it in a hat and shake it up.  Each day is different, some days I don't get to ride, other days I get to ride more. 

I love my job and it is infused in my daily life.  If it looks like I'm not working, it is because I am good at having fun,  and my job is fun!  I'm always working!!  

I might start a ride along program if anyone wants to join me!

Monday, May 18, 2015


After a couple of days of processing my thoughts on my bungled attempt at the BRMTN Loop,  I realized that a series of mistakes are to blame.  I don't regret giving it a go, but I have some fine tuning to do. 

Mistake #1.   I was worn out and have not been riding consistently.  After spending the previous two weeks moving the shop, building shelves, starting to organize etc,  was worn out.  Starting something like this worn out and tired, is not setting up for success.  I'm not sure that is something that I could change.  Having a full time plus job, being a full time husband/dad,  it is part of life.  When the bikepack window opens, I have to go.  

But, I could change my goals.  Kevin Hessler reminded me that I should go out there without a plan.   He is partially right.  While the plan was to finish the loop,  I need to be more flexible.

Mistake #2,  I didn't drink enough.  The long arduous climb up 215 is tough,  especially at 2pm with 85 degrees and no shade or breeze.   I kept thinking I was almost there and judged my drinking by how far I had left to go instead of time.   Almost 2 hrs passed, and I only drank 3/4 bottle of fluid. 

Mistake #3.  I panicked.   By the time I got to the gap, I was hurting.  Not totally done but hurting.  I had already decided to scrap the ride, and get back home on Friday night, so I could get to the kid's last soccer game of the season.   My choices were to continue down towards Waynesville,  turn around and drop back down to At The Ridge, head to Davidson River, Pisgah or Bent Creek to camp.   I considered camping on the side of the parkway, but needed water.   Several other spots crossed my mind as well.  I foolishly decided to head down to Davidson River.  I thought that once I got past the climb at Devil's courthouse, it was mostly down hill.  It was not.  There were at least 4 climbs before reaching hwy 276. 

Mistake #4.  I didn't let myself recover.  I should have stopped and done what I needed to do before continuing on.  It is nearly impossible to recover while still spending resources. 

Lots of mistakes and lots of lessons learned,  I hope I learned.  

Long live long rides!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

No Matter

No matter how hard I try, and how many reasons that I come up with that I was successful.  I still have to admit to failure before I can move on.  I set a goal and failed to reach that goal.  I don't like to fail, but that is part of the game.  If there was no risk of failure, it would not be a challenge and possibly not worthy of completing.  

Even a 3 mile loop around the neighborhood can end in failure.  But the potential reward is worth the risk,  every time! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Failure is Success

Sometimes you don't know if you can do something.  Making the attempt poses risks of different types.  Sacrifices, time, possible costs.  I'm not one to back down from a challenge, and I am often willing to take big risks.  Failure is likely, but so is success.   And sometimes in failure, one can find success.  One can test theirself and learn new things, and even be forced to lean on others for help.

On what began as a quest to challenge myself, I was rewarded with the chance to lean heavily on a community of people in order to make it home safely.

The day started fine.  I was tired but feeling good.  I was aware that I had not ridden my bike much but I figured that I could take it easy and ride the 280 mile Blue Ridge Mountains Loop in 3 or 3.5 days.  I had over 12 hours of daylight and was confident.    As I mentioned before, I also have not been riding my bike consistently.  Nose to the grindstone, getting the shop in order,  getting the summer ride program going, helping the local school with a playground grant, and being a dad/husband.

I road down the parkway, through Bent Creek and up to Bent Creek Gap.  I was feeling great.  The morning was uneventful.  Drinking and eating on schedule.   This trip I was trying out some new nutrition.  It had been great on shorter rides and I wanted to test out how some liquid nutrition would work for me.

The forest is so lush, and green,  creeks flowing everywhere.  No worries about water refills.   As I pedaled up and down on FSR 1206, my thoughts continually turned to my family and other life stuff.  I had bailed on the P111K to do this ride which was cool.  The kid's last soccer game was on Saturday which was cool too,  I had the ok to skip it.  But I couldn't shake the guilt for not being there.  Easy enough,  I'll just do two days of the ride and then figure out how to get home on Friday night and be there for the game on Sat.

After roughly 50 miles, I took a right on Hwy 215.  A roughly 8 mile climb with over 2000ft of elevation gain, up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Training grounds for George Hincappie. 

I ate, continued to drink and started going up.   Still feeling fine.  I was excited that I was feeling so good and excited about camping out tonight.  I was also still trying to figure out how to get home in time for the soccer game.  If I could, I wanted to avoid getting picked up.  I didn't want the family to have to take time out of their day. 
I climbed up and it got really hot.  The Garmin said 85 degrees.  I stopped a couple of times to cool off in the water trickles running down the rocks.  I rode on the wrong side of the road to take advantage of the shade.  I wanted to take a nap.  I just needed to get over the top then I could coast for the long ride down the other side.  I dug deeper and kept going.  This hill is grueling. 

I didn't feel good.  Ok,  I decided to make my way to Davidson River Campground for the night and head back home in the morning.  That would solve my current dilemmas.  I ground my way to gap and the Parkway.  Sat and sipped some water and ate a little.  I was nauseous.  And then I made a miscalculation.

I could not remember how much climbing was between 215 and 276.  It turns out there are 4-5 climbs.  Had I known that for certain, I would have headed back down 215 to At The Ridge and camped there.  But, I didn't and I thought I could make it.  The next 25 mile consisted of me resting, drinking and eating some gels.  I had no appetite.   I pulled off onto a grassy patch and wanted to nap.  I felt a little better so I kept going.  I finally made it to Hwy 276 and headed down.  18 miles to the campground.  I was out of water and watching for a creek to fill up in.  Just past the Pink Beds/Visitor Center, I found a creek and stopped to refill.

Water and Nuun,  I sat on the side of the road sipping.  I had pushed myself too far.  I laid down in the grass after checking to make sure there was no poison ivy.  I closed my eyes and relaxed.  I looked around for a place to camp.  A car drove by.  I could hear it turn around.  It pulled up and a lady asked if I was ok.  I was not.   They offered to call 911,  I nodded.  The kind couple stayed with me for the 20 or so minutes until the ambulance arrived.  The lady asked if I was familiar with healing touch and if I would be okay with here practicing on me.  I consented.  I was in no condition to refuse help of any kind.  We waited.  Small talk.  I explained my situation and gave them my diagnosis.  Info was relayed to 911.  The lady continued healing touch.  I continued sipping Nuun.

By the time the ambulance arrived I was feeling ok.  Nauseousness gone.  Able to stand with only mild dizziness. I declined services and got a ride into Brevard where the wife and kid picked me up to take me home.  The bummer is that by the time I got to town,  I was feeling fully recovered from the dehydration/nauseousness.  But who knows,  it could have gone the other way and I could have dug a hole too deep to get out of.

The wife and kid picked me up and were excited to have me home. 
I failed at the loop,  but I chalk this ride up as a success.  I live to tell about it and give it another go.  I will complete this loop at some point!  I have a family who cares about me, and was treated to care by total strangers.  I believe in things that cannot be seen and believe that the lady practicing healing touch was as she said "of the Holy Spirit", and it saved me an expensive ride to the hospital.  I try to live a life of faith, I try to "love my neighbor" on a daily basis.  I receive such love everyday with the work that I do.  I am always excited by the little and large contributions that people make, affecting our community in a positive way on a daily basis. 

Love life, go big,  fail,  succeed!

Friday, May 08, 2015


 Just another ride with a bunch of friends.  Matthew Busche showed up to ride.  It was cool to see him sit in with the group and not try to hammer us all.  Super  friendly guy. 

As usual, I hung on as long as I could and then dangled.  Once I get dropped, I usually try to stay within sight.   Typically, not always,  the group will not leave me if they can see me.  

Tonight's weather was a welcome change from last week.  After getting rained on, getting cold and calling the wife for pick up,  we completed the entire route tonight, hot and dry. 

Jane Burlew asked if I was going to take the hilly route home.  I told her no, because I was worn out from moving the shop this week.  5 minutes later, Taylor stated that he was going that way if anyone wanted to join.  Dang it.  I prefer the route over the rolling hills of Hendersonville rd, so I told Jane that if she went, I would too.   Taylor, Andy, Chris, Jane, Gary and I peeled off.  

 I was pleased with my fitness tonight but relearning some pedaling techniques that had faded over time was sapping some strength.   I'm glad that I had the opportunity to go spend some time with Eddie O'dea and glean some knowledge.  It makes a huge difference. 
After getting dropped, I still pushed on, up and over the ridge, and then home via the parkway.  Such a cool place we live in.  Even when I'm dropped and depleted, I'm glad to be out on a ride! 

Thursday, May 07, 2015


The past 2 weeks have been pretty amazing.  There have been ups and downs as usual, but some really cool and unexpected things have been happening. 

The happenings revolve around The Bicycle Thrift Shop,  a resale store that I operate.  I have been looking for additional space for storage for about 1 yr now.  That just opened up 2 weeks ago, in the same complex where the shop is located.  In fact, 2 units opened up, side by side on the street side, instead of around back.  After some quick negotiations with the landlord, we settled on a price that worked for both of us.  

Last Wednesday, Alec,  started volunteering at the shop.  He is going to be working on Wednesdays which will free me up to do some more bike clubs!! 

Last Sunday, with the help of Jen, the wife, the kid and 4 guys from the Western Carolina Cycling Club, we moved everything to the new location. 

Monday evening, Alex and Ian helped me schlep some heavy double glass doors around the building.  I started installing those doors for the new store front on Monday morning.  I was bumbling around, making slow headway.  The neighbors showed up,  construction workers, and less than 1 hr later, the doors were installed. 

Wednesday, we opened the shop, Alec got work helping out and getting stuff done, and then Pete and Sarah showed up and told me to put them to work!  

This is what gets me excited:  people doing what they enjoy doing, because they care about the community! 

Amazing times with amazing people!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Add caption
 I've been working towards the P111K,  a 70 mile race through Pisgah.  It is in two weeks.  I have started the race 2 times and DNF'ed 2 times.  Seems like it is time for redemption.... or is it? 

While I really enjoy the race format, I also really enjoy bikepacking.  I have not had time to take a trip yet this year and I suddenly realized on my spin around Bent Creek that I have 3 days in a row that I could take a bike packing trip of some sort. 

I was torn at first,  well, I'm still torn.  I want to do both,  but what would I enjoy more?   The camaraderie  of suffering with others and full support at the P111K makes this a race not to miss.  The challenge of a 3 day ride is equally alluring. 
big black snake caught me by surprise.
 Finishing either challenge will be a reward.   I have a week and a half to figure out what I want to do.  I'm leaning towards bikepacking but we'll see.  Gotta run it by the family and make sure they are cool with it. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

PMBAR 2015

 Somehow I suckered Rick Daniel into hauling hot dogs, coke etc up to what was formerly called Presley Gap and will henceforth be referred to as Hot Dog Gap.  We met at the Horsestables loaded up and struggled up Clawhammer and Maxwell.  It took us about an hour,  probably faster than most of the later PMBAR racers at the end of the day. 

 Our Siren John Henry's did an amazing job.  We got to the gap around 11am and got organized.  Shrimper was there waiting for us to take over policing the off limits trail.  When I pulled out the dogs and  charcoal,  he suddenly decided he had nowhere to go, anytime soon.  Occasionally some tourists would ride by, giving us some good additional entertainment.

After a while, Shrimper left us alone.  Rick headed down the off map trail to check it out and reported that it was overgrown and did not seem to be a good option.  Tom K rode into the gap armed with a pack of Oreos to share.  He hung out for a while and helped us heckle. 
 After 3pm, traffic finally started to pick up.  We kept dogs on the grilled and handing out cold drinks.  I listened to stories of weary travelers, hoping to find grilled cheese at Yellow Gap and being let down when there were none.  Folks should know not to count on anything at PMBAR, other than self support. 

We had decided to leave around 5:30pm, but hungry people kept riding up, so we just kept grilling.  we figured that the more we handed out, the less weight we would have on the way back down. 
Overall it was  a great day out in the woods.  But, the change of location, had me thinking about next year.... maybe its time to give the race a try.