Friday, August 28, 2015


At some point over the past 8 yrs, Bikepacking became an integral part of my life.  A challenge, sometimes an obsession.  Poring  over maps,  grazing the internet and blogs to find details about routes.  Packing and repacking.  Trying out new equipment. 

Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.   This year though, has been tough.  I've had a lot on my plate and not much time to ride with the consistency it takes to make a long distance trip successful.

I had planned to leave this week to take a trip on the Trans North GA route.  I didn't go.   Timing wasn't right.  And I'm a little gun shy.  The last trip I took, back in the spring,  I didn't have the time in the saddle and I wound up in the hurt locker.   So much so, that I pretty much scared myself.  It served as a wake up call, reminding me how fast things can go south, and if the training isn't there,   I can't simply push through and be ok.

Add to that, the kid starting middle school.  That's a pretty big transition period and I want to be here for him and support him.  I remember middle school.  I was in the Caribbean,  on an island called Bonaire.  They spoke Dutch in the classroom,  Papiamentu on the play ground, and we spoke English at home.  I felt alone, lost, and scared.  I was able to make friends and try to blend in, but overall, the experience was pretty miserable.

I didn't tell the kid how good he has it,  how much easier his transition is than mine.  It doesn't matter.  If he is having a hard time, I have no right to compare that to my experience.

He started school last Weds, and joined the soccer team as manager.  Apparently, the state of NC does not think that 6th graders can handle sports and the transition to middle school at the same time.  Another one of those outdated laws.....

Anyway, the kid is doing well, and I'm glad I'm here to help him through this part of his journey.  Bikepacking can wait.

So, what now?  Am I done with the sport?  Am I quitting the hobby?  No, not at all.  I just have to wait for the right time, and make sure my family is taken care of first.

The cool thing is though, I have no regrets.  The kid is important to me, and I want to be here for him.    I'd die for him,  no questions asked.  I love bikepacking. But by investing time and energy into the kid,  I help not only him,  but his kids and their kids.  Way more reward.

Enjoy the ride!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chris King's Gourmet Century

 What do you get when you combine the beauty of Western North Carolina's mountain roads and some delicious locally sourced food and beverage?  A nice ride.  But,  add to those ingredients an amazing staff and on top of that 150 laid back people on bikes,  you wind up with Chris King's Gourmet Century
 We started the day meeting at Taylor Ranch off of Cane Creek Rd.  Secretly hidden behind the ridge, once leaving the chaos of Cane Creek, one finds a peaceful ranch sprawling across the valley.  Longhorn grazing, turtles gently surfacing in the pond, and breakfast.

 An amazing spread of tofu scramble, grits,  coffee and my all time favorite, biscuits and gravy.  After a leisurely breakfast, small groups gathered and headed to the parking lot to change and roll out.  I joined up with Cameron, Tom, Mike and Lauren.   We ended up riding together for most of the day which turned out to be a lot of fun. 
 We rolled out under overcast skies, a hint of a cool breeze and the typical humidity that hangs in the hollers this time of year.  Pedaling along, from one valley to the next, following the winding, twisting ribbon of pavement.   

The first rest stop at mile 12 offered the awesome Ally's Bar,  a sweet potato based bar that you have to try.  We stopped briefly and continued on our relaxed journey.  Chatting and cracking jokes.  At mile 24, we stopped at the local fire department for lunch. 

Macaroni salad and a choice of turkey, ham or veggie sub on a fresh roll hit the spot. 

 We wound our way around and into Fairview, up the 74A climb to the divide, then down through Gerton for another rest stop.  This one featured tofu tacos and beer.  I just filled up with water, because on the climb up to the divide, someone had upped the pace, and the turkey sandwich now sat as a large lump in my stomach. 

I added some nuun to the water and sipped on it. 

Down towards Lake Lure, right on hwy 64, the another right to take us up through Edneyville and back to the ranch.  At the last rest stop, around mile 48,  I decided to continue on solo and finish the ride.  I wanted to get home to get a shower and spend some time with the family before we headed back to dinner.   A cat nap on the couch was a bonus!

 Dinner time rolled around and we mingled, chatting and enjoying the views. 

Delicious smoked pork right out of the smoker with some rice and Pisgah Pale hit the spot.  We enjoyed the meal and I sat back and relaxed. 

 This ride was about community.  About spending time with good people.  About enjoying the scenery and stopping to smell the roses. 

I wondered at the beginning how it would pan out.   By the time I got home after dinner, I had a warm glow in my soul,  knowing that I had shared  a very special day with a lot of people. 

It was definitely a great change of pace from the typical life of a cyclist who is trying to get fit and stay fast. 

 This is a ride that you don't want to miss out on next year.  I'm already making plans!

Thanks Kris Bedsaul, Chris King and crew.  Thanks for the challenge, the food and the community! See you next year.

Friday, August 21, 2015


 Another Thursday night ride went off and I almost didn't make it home.  After spending last week at the beach and the first half of this week hangin' with the kid and off the bike,  my legs were C quality.  And it hurt.    I managed to have fun though because I was on the bike. 

I find that I tend to talk less on the bike than I used to.  Observing and absorbing what is going on around me.   Focusing on my pedal stroke and trying to be be smooth. 
 A dozen folks showed up and Andy Kimble is now leading the B group which makes it nice for folks who get dropped from the A group.  Especially if it is new people, who don't know where they are.  I remember asking a farmer outside of Shelby for directions once when I got dropped from that group. 
I looked fast though thanks to Kevin Hessler.  I wore Liberty Bike's new kit and some sweet Defeet socks.  The designs are wild and as always, the socks are comfortable.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Back at It

Dropping the kid off early gives me a couple of extra hours to get things done and go for a ride.  I'm planning on being a bit more disciplined this year and getting out the door earlier, so I can have some extra time in the saddle. 

I registered for the Pisgah MTB Stage Race yesterday, and I'm looking forward to actually training for it this year. 

I rode up Elk Mtn and was warned of bears,  they must have gotten spooked because I never saw them.  But, as I rounded a bend on the Parkway,  a 6ft tall mama was standing on her hind legs looking around.  I stopped about 75 yrs away to take a picture, but she dropped on all fours and pounced a little giving me a short warning charge.  I put the camera away and backed of some more.  Her movements happened so fast and smooth, I didn't realize what she was doing.  Had I been stupidly  close, I would not have know what hit me.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back To School

Good luck, little buddy!   You got this.  You are a smart little dude and you have a great life ahead of you.  Take advantage of every chance you have to make yourself a better person.  It will be hard, challenging, but it will also be fun and rewarding.

I know it is scary and frustrating, but I know you can handle it.  Or else I wouldn't make you do it.  Just remember,  there are a bunch of other kids who feel exactly like you do right now.  The teachers and staff understand and they are there to help. ( and discipline if necessary ).    Stay out of trouble, choose good friends,   be a great friend, be a leader, be a servant,  respect yourself, respect others. 

You are going to do some cool stuff and I look forward to being there with you on your journey.

I am proud of you and proud to be your dad!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Meet The Teacher

This is it.  Meet the teacher at Middle School.  Another step in my life as a father.  Another step towards adulthood for this kid.  I'm honored that I can be here to support him.   I'm scared that I'm gonna screw up.  I know I will, I'm human.  But as time goes by and the more time we spend together, the more I realize that if I treat him with with respect, he will do the same. 

I tend to worry sometimes that as he gets older, he will leave and won't come back.  I realize that leaving is part of life.  I also realize that the more bonding time I have with him now, the more things we can do to form a common bond, the more likely our relationship will continue into adulthood.  I don't take for granted that since he is my blood, he will always want to spend time with me.  

He is my shadow and wants to be like me.  I have to remember to treat him like I want to be treated,  every second of every day. And not just treat him right, but everyone around me,  be the person who I want him to be. 

I hope I get it right.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

End of Summer Blues

 Back in town, school starts in 3 days, end of summer blues in full effect.  I have memories as a kid of coming home and being so depressed.  I can think of plenty of reasons why, but to tell that is for another time and place.  On the way home from family vacation yesterday, I was happy that my kid was bouncing off of the mini van walls, excited to be heading back home.  It makes me feel really good that I have had a part in providing a safe and happy place for him to grow up.  

We spent several days in Charleston and learned a lot about each other,  bonding, encouraging, laughing.   The wife and kid take after me and like to squeeze everything out of each moment, to the point of misery!  

Day 1 we put the sailboat in and successfully motored over to the Charleston Maritime Center where we were greeted by George, the guy who had helped us during last year's sailing adventure.  We docked the boat and headed to East Bay Deli.  This is quickly becoming a tradition for us.  The deli is delicious and within walking distance.  

With full bellies we headed over to the SC Aquarium.  Always a fun time of wandering around and looking at different fish.  This year's highlight was watching a little kid fall in the shark tank...  he was fine,   the sharks will probably need some counseling. 
 After the Aquarium, we sailed around the harbor looking for dolphins and made it safely back to Remley's Point. 

The second time we launched into the harbor was a little more eventful.  We again motored over to the Charleston side to dock and lunch in town.  Instead of lunch right away, we caught the free trolley, and rode around town looking for somewhere to eat.  Time went by and we finally decided to make our way back to East Bay Del.  We should have done that first.  It was hot and we were tired and hungry. 

After getting wrong directions from a cop and a grocer,  we flagged down a bike taxi.  He wanted $15 to take the 3 of us 5 blocks.  We talked him down to $10.  Expensive but we were hurting,  and it was fun. 

After lunch, the kid wanted to visit the open air market, so we found a cluster of bike taxis and I asked how much for the ride.  A girl spoke up and said $16.50 per person.  I told her I only had $15 cash,  that was it.  She offered to take me by an ATM.   Hmmmm.  Then I noticed that there were 2 different companies represented there.  I looked at the guy next to her and offered him the $15.  He agreed but then the girl got pretty upset and said I couldn't do that.  I told her this is America and we operate on a system of supply and demand.  (I'm not sure that was the right terminology but it was the first thing that came to mind).  After a little more back and forth, the girl got mad and rode away, leaving the completion with a fare!  And I paid what I had in my pocket! 
 By the time we finally made it back to the boat and out into the harbor, the wind had kicked up and the chop and swells were rolling in.  I was having a blast but the family was not convinced.  They aren't used to these conditions (yet) and weren't so excited.  We made our way safely back to Remley's Point and trailered the boat.
 We also spent plenty of time at the beach.  Since I was 13 yrs old, I have wanted to learn how to surf.  This summer, I finally bought a surf board and was able to spend a good bit of time on the water.  While conditions were not great,  I was definitely able to figure things out and stand up on the board catching some of the waves.  I learned that timing has to be near perfect to get the momentum needed to stabilize the board and pop up ( going from laying to standing)!   

Another dream realized! 

 The last day is always a mix of emotions, everybody worn out and wanting to stay just a little longer.  We stretched time as much as we could and headed back to the cool fresh air of the mountains.....
We are already talking about the next trip. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Another Fun Weekend

 Summer programming has finished up and it is time for some serious R&R.   I feel like I've been going non stop since about February and while I have enjoyed that aspect of life, its time to enjoy my family and some personal time!!  

A year ago, a friend gave me a little 12 foot motor boat.  After bringing the boat home and doing some research,  I found out that the motor needed for this boat would cost just under $3000.  Holy crap.  I don't have that kind of cash laying around so I but the project on the backburner, tried to sell the boat a couple of times and always thought I would regret it if its sold. 

We finally took the boat down to Lake James with our little 2.5 hp outboard that we have for our sailboat.  While completely underpowered,  it was enough to get us around the lake for some family fun time.
 We farted around and pulled up on a  secluded island.   We spent some time swimming and relaxing.  Man, that was nice.  Nothing to worry about. Just chillin'. 

 We got hungry so we motored over to Black Bear Marina for some lunch.  After lunch we farted around some more and found another little cove where we pondered cliff jumping and spent some more time in the water.  I just need to figure out how to earn the cash to get my hands on a 20 hp outboard!  That is when I know I'll be livin' the dream.
 The family is hooked on water, just like I am.  There is something about it, that I can't pinpoint.  But whether in a motor boat, sailboat or kayak//canoe,  it is the best. 

Speaking of which, the next day was a day for sailboat racing at Lake Julian.  The wife was able to make this one, and it was miserable.  Low wind and direct sunlight, the time on the water was torture.  But, we were racin' and that's that! 

The rest of the weekend was spent getting the trailer ready for the next adventure.  Wheel bearing gone bad, and needed to be replace.  I imagine with the use it gets, this will be a once a year project.  
 Dinner Sunday were some homemade Juicy Lucy's.  They need a little more fine tuning but were delish nonetheless. 
 PS.  I was able to get a couple of rides in over the weekend, so don't think I've gone soft.  I'm still training  and tapering properly for the Thursday night Liberty rides!!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Full Weekend

 Summer programming is winding down and I always take advantage of this time to spend with my family.  We decided to head over to Marcos Pizzeria for dinner then an evening sail on the lake.  The wife and kid are getting more used to sailing and liking it a lot more than initially.

 The kid and I went to the local surfing hole to work on our skills a little bit. 
 Never a dull moment him around!
We decided to head down and fart around Lake James, thinking that when we got hot we could just jump in the lake.  It was too hot, and jumping in the lake didn't really help much.  We decided that we'll go back down some day, but check the temps first!