Friday, February 16, 2018

Going Back

 I took a trip back home.  Well,  one of my homes: Shelby NC.  The wife and I lived there for 4.5 yrs, about 14 yrs ago.  Although my pal Mike Keeley lives there, I had not been back to visit for 14yrs.  The relationship with the organization that I worked for, and the people I worked with turned sour when we decided to move.  It left a really bad taste in my mouth, and although I think fondly and often of Mike,  I just couldn't return. 

But, with the cold winter we are experiencing, I decided it was time to head down the mountain and face whatever Shelby had left for me.  After all, I did cut my teeth on group road rides with a great group of folks down there.  Probably my biggest regret is not taking the time to get to know more of the Shelby locals, outside of the people I worked with.  Lesson learned.

We rolled out for 40 miles of chatting, headwinds and cows.  Talking about life and everything in between.  Its always good to go for a "Mike Ride". 
 I hope to get down that way more.  Traffic is pretty much non existent.  In 3 hours, we came across about 25-30 cars.  People wait to pass until it is safe, and then they cross into the opposite lane to give plenty of room.  It was pretty amazing.  Different from the Asheville road scene where most of the time, people give little to no room, or make dangerous passes.  Even the dude in the diesel truck crossed into the other lane to pass before blowing coal smoke all over us....

 The terrain there is great too.  Lots of long flats with some rolling dips down to cross creeks and back up the other side.
 After our ride, Mike took me downtown,  where tumbleweeds used to blow and parking was plentiful.   Lots has changed though,  we barely managed to find parking, and there is lots of bustle and a whole lot more shops that have opened.  We opted for Newgrass Brewery.  My grilled cheese and Brown Ale were a perfect way to wrap up the day. 

Get some miles in Mike, I'll be back for more!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tour De Lure Medio

 I found a route that officially starts in Marion, but it passes closed to Old Fort, so that's where I parked and rode the 3 miles t join the route.  This route was quite a bit hillier than yesterday so it was perfect for getting my body a little more fatigued, and hopefully stronger in the long run. 

There are also a couple of extended climbs in the mix which was nice.  I love the Asheville area, but there are so many great roads to ride in the surrounding communities.
It is so nice to be able to relax and ride and not fight the traffic.  If the wind weren't whipping around, the temps would have been perfect for some sunshine on my arms.  But, I stayed layered with arm warmers and a vest. 

Dropping down Cedar Creek Rd, I have a moment of horror when two dogs charged out of nowhere.  The came from  my right, barking and snarling.  I took evasive action, already doing 20 mph, I yelled and swerved.  When one of the dogs cut directly in front of me, I briefly locked up the rear wheel and did a power slide.  I was thankful for my mountain biking skills and managed to keep it upright.  The dogs finally turned around.  That was close.

There was one other dog encounter,  a basset hound attempted to give chase.  It was the funniest dog chase I have ever seen.  Nothing to worry about though.
The rest of the ride was relaxing and uneventful,  and as time went by, my pace slowed.  I was tired after having racked up 100 miles in two days.  I haven't ridden that much in a long time.  Something clicked this winter,  I'm not sure exactly what, but I'm excited about riding this  year. 

Can't wait to give the full 70 mile route a try soon!

Friday, February 09, 2018

A Whole New World

 I recently upgraded my bike computer to a Garmin 520. It seems I wore the old one out and the guys at Liberty Bikes helped me get set up with this new and improved version.  When I bought it, I didn't realize the power and freedom that this little computer would give me.  

I rode with for a couple of months until one cold, freezing morning, I simply cold not ride in the cold anymore.  I have held out and been consistent for several months now, but I long for that warm sun on my skin.  I don't want to have to worry about how to stay warm on the downhills, I don't want to think about how to warm up on the uphills. 

I did some quick research and figured out how to load a route on the little computer.  Then I did some more research and found that most cycling event routes can be found online and exported onto (into?) the computer. 

I quickly found the Tour De Pumpkins 100k route, loaded up and headed out to warmer temps.   The Start is in Rufton (Rutherfordton).  I found some public parking, changed clothes and headed out. 

 This route was really cool.  Lots of rolling hills through farm land,  not much traffic, a couple of longer climbs and some fun fast flats.  It was a bit odd doing an event route on my own, but great for not only training, but for being in the unknown, on my own.  

Every single one of the drivers in the vehicles that passed me, slowed and gave me ample room. Every single driver waved and we gave mutual respect.  Such a welcome change from the frantic road ride scene that has developed here in Asheville over the past couple of years.
 The downside of not know an area is not knowing where I will be able to refill bottles.  Over a 60 mile ride, at my current winter pace of 4 plus hours, I need at least 4 bottles.  I start with 2 and need to refill them.  The great part about living in the bible belt is that there are churches everywhere.  Keep in mind, drink the water, but stay away from the koolaid!

I  stopped at one church and turned the spigot on, only to watch brown water flow out.  I turned it off and waited until the next church to fill up.  It was probably just winter sedimentation, but why take a chance with so many option.  I was reminded of when I did the Allegheny Mtns Loop.  I stopped at a hunting cabin to fill up, with no other options nearby,  the water that came out of the spigot was hot.  Weird.  I filled up and used some of it, but as soon as I climbed higher up, I stopped at a nice creek and filled up with fresh mtn water!

Well,  needless to say, a whole new world has been opened up.  I love riding in this area, but my wanderlust has me searching for new rides and warmer temps!  

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Gone Ridin'

This winter has been a cold one.  I was getting out pretty regularly, and then I lost my mojo for a bit.  I caught a head cold, didn't want to relapse, so I took some days off.  Then couldn't ride because of schedule stuff,  and finally back on the bike.   I'm hoping to get 4 days on the bike this week.  Not enough to be competitive at the upcoming Pisgah Stage Race, April 9th,  but hopefully enough to get the endurance engine primed and ready.  
Once the race starts though, it is anybody's game.  Things happen, and then there is the challenge of 5 days of Pisgah!  Can't wait.
I've been coaching the kid's indoor soccer team at Black Mountain.  We have a raggamuffin team, half experienced players, half beginner players.  It has been a challenge working with the different skill levels and getting middle school boys and girls to play as a team.  Not only that, they are too shy to even greet each other when they walk in the door.... too shy or too cool?  I make them high five each other.  
We are definitely the underdogs.  But they kids are improving.  The first team we played, we lost 9-0.  When we played that team again, we tied them 3-3, even after the ref called the game to their advantage.  Yeah buddy, that feels good.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

The Inner Child

 I know what I want to say, but not exactly sure how to say it.  Think. Remember.  Way back.  Go back to that time before now.  Long before now.  The time before you knew so much,  before you learned so much.  Before all of those experiences.  Before all of the hurt, the deceit, the abuse.  Travel backwards in time,  skip all of the emotions and feelings in between now and then.

Go back to the earliest memory that you can reach.  

Remember when you were a kid?  When things were simple?  When you didn't know what the world had in store? 

I was happy then.  I was excited about life.  I had hopes and dreams. 


 What happened between then and now?  Too much to tell here.  Most will never be told.  All of the experiences, the excitement, the joy, the tragedy.  But, that's not what I'm looking at right now.  I'm looking at the 9, 10, 11 yr old kid.  The feisty red headed one. The freckle faced, buck toothed, skinny little obnoxious kid.  The one who was stoked on life and would get pumped when the wind was blowing hard.  He would get up and rolling in the morning, out the door, on his bike or go sailing.  Not worried about  lunch, or where the next meal was coming from.  

Then it happened.  Life, change, sadness, leaving, hard times, loneliness, moving again. New school, new friends. New environment.  Cold winter.  Getting older. Get a job. Can't escape the concrete jungle.  Girlfriend, heartbreak.  College, struggle, graduate.  Job, struggle, leave.  Get married, struggle (this one is worth the struggle) stay married.
 We joke. The struggle is real.  But it is no joke.  The struggle is real.  To find our place in this world (thanks Michael W Smith).  It all seems so complicated. 

But just stop for a minute.  Think back, back to that little kid.  The one having fun and living life to the fullest.  Rarely bored and always ready for an adventure.  That is who I am.  I'm that kid looking out at the world with wide eyed wonder.   I'm the kid with a big heart and bigger dreams.  I'm the kid who is scarred and sometimes timid.   You are too.  Think back and be that kid.  Be that kid and squeeze every second out of every day.  

 Go back and rescue that inner child.  Run with him, ride with him, sail with him.