Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Above all else,

 It is not often that I feel a spiritual connection to a place.  I don't have an explanation, but every now and then,  I feel it.  The feeling is quite unexplainable, but, if you have experienced it, you know what I'm talking about. 
 I started the journey looking for a challenge.  3 miles one way, from the valley floor up to the meadow. I planned to do some running, but that turned into plodding due to snow lingering in the shady side of the mountain. 
 The snow was crusty on top and soft underneath,  every step or two, my shoes would break through.  At a steep spot on the trail, used the footsteps of a previous hiker as stair steps that had been frozen into the snow.  The trail was a foot or two under the snow.  Sketchy to say the least.  But, I didn't want to stop.  I had the time, and the desire. 
 When I crested the ridge and walked out of the trees into the meadow, I was greeted with bright sunshine and vast silence.  And that feeling.  Or maybe I should say that understanding,  a certain knowing.  Understanding that while things back down the trail are confusing, knowing that I am where I am, because a higher power wants me there.   Understanding that things have not always been easy, but knowing that every need has been provided..... and then some. 
 But that feeling, that this place is sacred,  no one here but me.
 Me and the Creator, the one who loves, provides and guides. 
 I looked at my watch and wished I had more time.  I have to go, back to the life that has been given to me. Back to the responsibilities that in my selfishness, I sometimes loathe. 
 I turn down the trail, lighthearted but feeling heavy responsibility: to be the best I am at what I do.  From husband, to father, to friend, to boss....  what can I do better?
 I thing about our purpose here on earth.  To fight the good fight, to fight evil,  and our weapon is love.  Not love like we are taught on tv, or on radio, but a selfless love, that has no end.  Love that does not see color, does not feel greed, does not expect anything in return.  Love that is an action not a feeling.  Love that leaves you feeling depleted, because you gave it your all.  Love that requires a person to die to self, to give up their own desires and spend time and energy (aka money if you have it) to help make your corner of the world a better place. 
 Love that shines and tells a story.  I was created for this.  You were created for this.
 If we were created for a purpose and do not fulfill that purpose, then what is the point?  We can do what we want, and we do that, but without fulfilling our purpose, we are never really reaching our full potential. 
Above all else, Love.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Green Pond, Lake Hartwell

I've been eyeing this location for a while, and finally the schedule and conditions allowed me to get down there.  I'm never sure what to expect when I go out windsurfing.  I check multiple forecasts but they are merely forecasts.  I've gotten pretty good at figuring out when to go, but sometimes, the weather changes. 

Today, the as I drove down the mountain, the temps climbed up above 60.  I decided to start with my shorty wetsuit and see how that felt.  It turned out to be a great decision, I was comfortable all afternoon. 

The wind was light, but forecast to pick up later, so I rigged the 7.0 meter sail and took off.  Thanks to a recommendation from my friend, I tacked upwind and got into a wider area of the lake. 

I sailed back and forth for a while until the wind kicked in, then it was on.  Blasting back and forth on the water, chasing sailboats, letting go of the worries that plague my day to day life....  nothing compares. 

After 3 hrs on the water, I was pretty whipped, so I headed back to shore, packed up and drove back home.  

Such a fun day on the water!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hurricane Michael

Michael rolled through with lots of wind and lots of rain.  Windsurfing in the rain is not that fun and can be painful.  Being pelted in the eyes by raindrops at 25-30mph hurts! 

I waited until the rain let up and headed out to Lake Julian.  Winds were N Westerly which is the worst for inconsistent gusts.  Usually in these conditions, a gust hits, I get up to planing speed and then the gust is gone.  A lot of work for  a couple seconds of planing. 

But,  that's what I get for living in the mountains.  It is good to get out and work on my balance too. 

I lasted about an hour, in 25-35 mph gusts, then headed in.  The beach is upwind in these conditions too, so I had to swim it in the last 100 yards or so.  

Fun times, though. 

Monday, October 08, 2018

Mike Ride 2018

Mike called me up and wanted to do a multi day trip.  Nothing epic but some good metric century days.   I was in.  We planned on 3 days, 2 nights.  You know when you go to the all you can eat buffet, and pile your plate up.  Then you see one more things that looks delicious and you add that to your plate?   You eat it all, and it was good, but that one more thing was a bit too much and now you have a tummy ache.....

That's my life right now.  My plate is full and I added one more thing.  Something that should have had me excited was causing stress.  But, priorities.   In the end we cut the trip down to 2 days, 1 night (24 hrs)

I'm finding that I am able to get away for 24 hrs at this point in life.  A couple of years ago, I wasn't satisfied with a short adventure, now,  I'm stoked.

Our chosen route was Brevard- hwy 276 to Waynesville- spend the night- Waynesville 276-215 to Rosman- Brevard.  90 miles=perfect.


We rode, we chatted with locals,  took pictures.  Talked about life and families and jobs and time off. 

Even with the full plate, the ride turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.  I'm looking forward to the next adventure!

Monday, October 01, 2018

Fonta Flora Barnburner 50k, 2018

 I signed up for this brand new race, thinking it would be fun to ride bikes with 199 friends. 
I have not been race training and don't intend to, I just want to be fit and ride bikes faster than if I was not fit.  Anyway,  I got to early check in and stopped for a moment at Whipoorwill Brewery to take in the view. 
 I went to Lake James State Park Campground and set up camp, chatted with the neighbors a bit, burned some wood and went to bed. I slept pretty good in my adult treehouse mounted on my truck.   Another camper's dog kept barking periodically at random things in the dark, but other than that, I slept pretty well. 
 Up at the crack of dawn, which is now around 7am.  I love, love, love a race with a 9am start!  That extra hour really helps give me time to eat and drink some coffee without feeling that gross early morning pre-6am sluggishness! 
 I was going to line up at the back of the field to make sure I didn't race.  When I rolled up to the start, my plan was shattered.  People were starting to gather, but there was a ton of room in the front.  Oh, well.  I parked it in the second row and waited.  People filled in a little bit, but not many.  I was sitting in the top 25 before the start..... not a good sign.

We started the race and the pace went pretty high pretty quick. A mile or two of pavement into a mile of slightly downhill gravel and I decided to push the pace.  I was hoping to get in with a decent group for the single track, or at least get on my own and not have to deal with traffic.  Traffic on the punchy climbs would be stop and go and not much fun. 

Into the single track, I found myself at the back of a group of 10, everyone going the same pace as the guy at the front.  Hmm,  not good for me.  I started respectfully requesting passes.  It was working.  I asked one dude for a pass, he said" There are 25 guys in front of us" I said, "That's racing".  I asked again to pass and he kind of move to the right.  As I was passing, he took a couple of strong pedal strokes to match my passing pace, and we almost collided.  I kept calm and moved on and never saw him again. 

As my heartrate went up around 180, I found a good place and settled down into my rythym.  I found a couple of good people to ride with and set the pace. 

Well, so much for not racing.  I had put the effort in and if I slowed down now, I would get passed and have to yo yo for the next 2 hours. 

About 2 hrs and 15 minutes in , I was feeling it and ready to be done.  Still had around an hour to go though.  My nutrition was perfect.  It was so hot and muggy that I was drinking more than normal, but a quick stop to refill with Coke at one of the rest stops had me left with enough fuel that I would not have to stop. 

Still I was in that slump.  On the tight, twisty, punchy single track, I could see people in front and behind me.  I yo yo'ed with a couple of people.  I was following a group of 3.  Rachel was leading.  The guy behind her dropped a chain, the guy behind him, ran into him on the little climb, and I ran into him. Like rush hour on I-26.    I ran up the hill and got back on the bike.  Within a couple of minutes I caught Rachel on a short decent.   Her pace was a little faster than my "I wish I were done pace" so I stuck with her.  That was great, just what I needed to get out of the woods. 

We hit the pavement and sprinted the last mile to the finish:  I wound up 53rd overall, 25th in Master's and 1st (unofficial single speed)!!   


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Starting the week right

 Ah,Monday.  I think I got you figured out.  1 hour single speed ride first thing followed up by.....

 .... homemade coffee, biscuits, gravy and bacon! 
After such a great start, I should just go back to bed!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dirt Diggler, 2018

It has been a while since I was able to get in on one of our local races.  I finally worked up the fitness to be able to survive at least 50 miles, so I signed up for Dirt Diggler. 

I decided to make a mini adventure out of the next 24 hours, so I reserved a campsite at The Bike Farm.
I had never been here but have known the owner/operators for a very long time.  A stay was long overdue.  Cashion set me up with his favorite campsite, #7, all the way at the end of the road.  When I checked in, I was welcomed by Joel, who was super friendly and accommodating. Joel gave me the details in a nutshell and sent me up the mountain.

The winding, single lane, gravel road took me up towards the ridge until the road mostly leveled out and I found my site.  I got my camp set up and then just hung out, by myself, enjoying the solitude.  I thought about walking up the road to chat with other campers, but decided to just chill.  Sometimes, a guy just needs silence! 
I slept like a rock most of the night.  I woke up around 3 am and heard something walking around the campsite.  Something lightfooted, sounded like the hoof of a deer on the gravel.  I went back to sleep and woke up at 6 am to the sound of an owl hoot.  So quiet, so solitary.   

Rise and shine! On to the Diggler. 

I timed my commute perfectly to arrive at the start about 15 minutes before the 8am start time.  I was a bit nervous, but mostly excited about riding bikes with 200 or so friends.

I rolled up to the back of the pack, waited 2 minutes and then we were rolling out.  The rest of the day is a blur with some distinct moments. 

I caught up to Bevin  about 10 minutes in to the race.  Cool,  somehow we seem to have similar fitness and end up riding together when we ride the same events.  Great, positive company to be in.  

About an hour into the route, there was a somewhat gnarly downhill gravel portion.  Broken bones and wounded people laying on the side of the road.  A quick check to make sure help was on the way, and I rolled on.

Eric Partin and I yoyo and chat a bit through here.

I remember a super long paved decent, dropping us into the valley.  I was reserved and wound up in no man's land at the beginning of the long flat along a river.  2 guys caught me and I graciously sucked wheels  for the next 8-10 miles! 

Refill at the second rest stop, heckle Mike Pierce, alone for a little while.  The gravel road around Cascade Lake is nice and I ramp it up to catch a  group ahead.   I end up overdoing it and the last 8 miles, I soft pedal in.  As much as a person can soft pedal a 20% + grade!

The final single track and then the finish line.  4hr9min.  Great ride! 

A quick rinse in the creek, a Coke and pulled pork sammy, then I head home.  I was hot and tired, and I think I left before the podium presentation,  I figured they were already done!  Sorry about that.

I'm looking forward to the next one!

Friday, September 21, 2018


Who is ready for some Dirt Diggler?

I am, for sure.  I'm excited to get out on my bike, with a bunch of like minded folks and ride. 

The past couple of years has been a tough transition for me.  Going from training and successfully completing endurance events, to not training consistently and successfully failing at endurance events. 

I had to admit to myself, that while I am still capable, I simply don't have the time to put the time into training  and prepping properly for these events!  My priorities have shifted and I've got 4 years to invest into my high school kid before college.  That's the choice I've made, and I had to adjust. 

Its not easy though.  I love being out all day, for multiple days.  But, that's where I am, and it took me  a while to work through that.  You have to try things, different combinations.  If you don't, you will never progress, never evolve, never figure out what works for you.  If you are not willing to bend and bow, not willing to go with the flow,  you become stiff and eventually break. 

So, tomorrow, I saddle up for a little under 50 miles, with my sights set on having a good time. 

See you there!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Week Off

 After a week off the bike, during which I windsurfed until my arms almost fell off, I dealt with an unhelpful insurance agent who told me to go find another agent and some unruly parents at a soccer game,  it was time to get back on the bike. 

After all, Dirt Diggler is two day  away....  47 miles of gravel and pavement should be manageable though.  I'll have to wait and see, and keep pedaling!
 I spotted a couple of little bears in Bent Creek today.  They were pretty friendly but didn't really want to stick around to chat. 
 I also came across McHoney, ridn' his pony.  We chatted and laughed and rode.  It was quite a bit warmer than last winter when we rode up the parkway together.  We rode into the maw of the storm,  6 degrees and butt cold. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hurricane Florence: Windsurfari 2018

 I've been watching this storm for a week and a half.  Anticipating, hoping, planning and finally loading up and heading out.  I was not sure what to expect.  My first stop was Dreher Island State Park on Lake Murray which is west of Columbia SC.  My plan was to stay close enough to the hurricane so that I would have good winds, but one step ahead to stay out  of danger. 

The plan worked really well.  Until I got tired.  According to my quick calculations, I windsurfed 6-8 hrs in a 36 hour period.  I want to head back out as I type this, but I'm worn out!

I got to the state park and the staff told me that if I wanted to cancel, they would give me a full refund.   I decided to stay one night, so took the second night's refund.  I parked in my spot at Angler's camp circle and went about rigging up.  I had a great afternoon/evening sailing with a 6.4 and Bic Astro Rock.   The wind picked up a little more later.  Today was just a warm up and getting comfortable being on a wide expanse of water alone. 

 I set up camp, ate some freeze dried dinner and went for  a bike ride around the state park.  In bed by 9pm, and true to form, the camper 2 sites over woke up and rustled around all night.  I got intermittent sleep but, ugh.  Why are people so self centered?  I finally got some solid sleep from 4:30-7 ish, when I woke up to whipping wind!  I took my time feeding myself and drinking coffee.  By the time I rigged up, the wind was blowing strong enough that I was able to take my "new to me" Bic Electric Rock out for a spin.  The board is identical to the Astro Rock, just smaller, better for higher winds and smaller sails!
 I was out for 2 hours and decided to head in and pack up.  I got everything loaded and set my sights on Hamilton Branch State Park, about 1.5 hrs away.    When I got there, the wind was perfect for the Astro Rock and 7.5 m sail. 
 I headed out for an hour, getting lay of the wind direction and heading out to the center of Strom Thurmond Lake which is also the Savannah River.  If I had kept going all the way across, I could have windsurfed into Georgia! 
 I was getting overpowered, so I came back in for a snack and a drink and headed back out on the Electric Rock and 5.3m sail.  That left me a little under powered, so I came back in and upsized to a 5.7 which was perfect but I was getting tired and the wind was gusting to 25-30mph.  Whew,  fun, but once the fatigue starts to set in, a person starts making mistakes and things can go downhill fast.  I took one more sloppy run and headed in to the campsite. 

 At this point, it was only 3pm.  What to do?  The campsite was barren, 1 other camper down the way.  I could use some solitude.  Looking at the Saturday morning forecast, there was a chance of rain, and the wind was going to be in the 20-30 mph range. I looked at all the options and examined my feelings. 

 I didn't think I would have the energy the next day to sail in such strong winds.  I had definitely gotten my fill of windsurfing,  although one never really gets enough.  I had gotten all I could handle.  I decided to head back to the mountains, thankful for the experience, and looking forward to spending the next day with the family!