Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Great Wall

As Mr. Rogers would say it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Sunny and 60 degrees, a perfect day to go ride, yes? We worked on the "Great Wall" instead. I'm not complaining I got in a good workout and with 45 mins. on the elliptical trainer here at work tonight I should be good. We hauled in another 120 block and came pretty damn close to finishing the second tier of the "Great Wall". The plans were to have 6 rows of block in each wall but the top wall is going to be a little short of the right side due to the slope of the yard so we may add a seventh layer. We got the 5th in today and I think that will be all she wrote till next week. My family will be in town this weekend and we hope to finish installing the dishwasher and garbage disposal we bought last summer.
Hopefully by next weekend I will have some riding related stories to share, Melinda and I have a road trip in the works to NC for a little trail riding action.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It's been a few days since my last ride, Coleman Boundary with Scooby to be exact. I think I'm having withdrawals, no I know I am. My schedule is looking jam packed for the next 8 days so if I'm able to sneak in a ride it will be a miracle. I haven't been to worried with my fitness lately though, the ongoing retaining wall project has been alot of hard work. Melinda and I have moved a little over 300, 23lb. brick into my truck then back out to my driveway and then finally to their spot on the wall. Some have come off the wall and put back multiple times in an effort to get everything straight and level. Then there is the digging and digging and more digging, it's never ending. All work has been done by hand. No large machinery was brought in to make this job easier, Melinda and I like to get our hands dirty and do things the hard and cheap way. Well actually that would be me, she tried to talk me into renting a bobcat but I knew the expense of the fancy brick was going to be enough. I still have about 150 more bricks to bring in and much more digging but the hard part is behind us and we're coming down the homestretch. I'm just glad the weather has been decent this year and I'm getting these projects done early so Melinda and I can have the summer to wander through the woods and explore new trails.
I did manage to get out to the trails for a quick trail run with Moonshine and Jackson today. The trails were in good condition and it felt good to get outside for something else besides manual labor.
My mother in law left for home last Monday and as usual she came through with an unusual gift before she parted ways with us. She said it was part of our Christmas but I'm not sure what to think of it. She gave us a Rubbermaid tub full of used blue dishes. The rugged kind you used to take camping back in the day. She got them at a garage sale. Alot of it is a mix matched and not all of it goes together but the Rubbermaid tub they came in was nice and should come in handy while camping.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Moonshine the hunter

In recent posts I've talked about the increase in number of stray cats in our neighborhood has significantly increased. As of lately we cannot allow Moonshine to roam free outside without her chasing cats through the neighbors yards. On numerous occasions she's even managed to tree a few.
Last night she stalked a new prey, actually this was not new prey to venture onto our property but it was a first catch for her. Ironically Jackson the big chicken was the first to corner this one. The pizza man.
He is a frequent person at our house and of course the dogs go nuts when he arrives. Jackson did not attack but his mere size and bark caused the delivery guy not to even attempt to get out of the car. Jackson did not wait for his prey to exit the vehicle, he met the car in the drive and would not allow the delivery guy to pull all the way in. Jackson is pretty harmless and it was my fault for leaving him out unattended knowing that pizza was on it's way.
Last night was not my fault, Melinda let Moonshine slip out the door and forgot about her until the pizza arrived. Moonshine is sneakier than Jackson. It was dark and her being all black allowed the delivery guy not to notice her until it was too late. She may be smaller but her bark/growl is certainly more vicious than Jackson's. When Melinda heard the commotion she immediately knew what was happening and ran outside to rescue the poor delivery guy. Moonshine had him pinned against the wall between the Subaru and the house.
I managed to miss the show but when we opened the pizza box we saw where the delivery guy had used our food to defend himself. Normally I would call and complain about the mishandling of a pizza but this time I felt it was justified and we arranged the toppings back as best we could. We really need a fence I'd hate to get banned from the pizza delivery list.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

locals only

Support your local guy! That something I've been trying to do the past few years. You hear the "buy American" slogan which is a good thing and I try to when I can. I typically try to buy my bikes and bike parts from the local bike shops versus online dealers. I may not always get the best deal but I feel the customer service is better and after shipping prices I usually come pretty close. I hate to hear people talk about buying bike parts online in front of shop owners. You know they're biting their tongues wishing they could toss the offender right out the door. We have a pretty good selection of bike shops in our area with a wide selection of bikes, while they may not offer some of the perks and customer service that some of the big city shops they do have a good personal feel to them. Alot of our shops have that hangout feel to them. I sometimes stop by my local shops just to shoot the bull or catch up on the latest news even if I don't plan on spending any $$$. It's when you develop these types of personal relationships with shop owners that you start to see better deals and service. Don't get me wrong I would never befriend someone to get a better deal. I just enjoy having friends with like minded hobbies. I enjoy hanging out with people who I can talk bikes with.
Bike shops aren't the only things I like to keep local. I'm a big fan of our local restaurants and breweries. We have several great restaurants mixed in and holding their own in a town crowded with big chain franchises. Cheddars, Chili's, O'Charley's, Applebees they're all the same to me. Hamburgers, chicken fingers and a lousy beer selection. I would rather go to my local guys like the Kingsport Grocery or Cootie Browns who offer a little bit different menu and a great selection of beer.
I was really disappointed last year when our Cootie Browns here in Kingsport was ran out by their landlord in favor of an Olive Garden (that was the rumor anyway). The new rumor is that Olive Garden backed out of the deal and now that landlord is stuck with a funny looking empty building. If the rumors are true then it serves them right. Although Cootie Browns has yet to reopen their restaurant in Kingsport they did open a new joint in JC called Jack's City Grill with some new menu items and a great beer selection with Depot Street (our local brewery) right up front and center. I always tend to pick Depot Street over the other guys. Depot Street has been putting out some good quality beer for a couple of years now and I'm starting to see alot of the local restaurants pick them up.
I'm not sure what prompted me to write about this subject but it's something that has been on my mind for some time now.
My mother in law is in town this weekend and she can be alot of fun. She has alot of quirky traits some that I can see in Melinda and she hates it when I point them out but I think it's pretty cool. Anyway I can already see a new post forming in my head about the weekend and what will go down the next couple of days while she is in town. We didn't get to see her over Christmas so we did kinda of a gift exchange last night and all I can say is it was interesting. More to come on that later.
On the bike related front I did score a new set of shoes for the Mamasita. I've never ran Bontrager components but I ran across a deal on a set of tubeless tires that just couldn't be beat (my local guy of course). I won't say how much or who but I was impressed with the tread pattern and I decided to give them a shot. Not sure if I will run them tubeless right off the bat but they should save me a few grams on weight. If I like them I may just have a good set of Kenda Nevegals on sale for cheap cheap cheap.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Coleman Boundary Trails

It's been a few days since my last post and it's not because I haven't had much to say but mostly due to my laziness and lack of time to post anything. I've been pretty busy the last few days. Tues I decided to forgo sleeping in after night shift and head to Pisgah (Coleman Boundary) with Alan for some exploring of new trails. I'll spare you a lengthy story of how the ride went down since Alan has already done so and his post has been up since Wed. Read it here if you haven't already. I did manage to snap a few pics here and there and of course shoot some video. The ride was fun but steep, both climbing and descending.

Coleman Boundary from Greg Carr on Vimeo.

The terrain was rough but beautiful, I really enjoyed the ride and would like to go back and continue to explore the trails more.

I just learned that Alan is selling his Redline Monocog 29er SS for the super low price of $275. If I had the extra $$ and had a place to put it I would jump on this super sweet deal. Yes that's $275 for a complete bike!

Monday, February 16, 2009

living life on the edge

Our local news station did a piece the other day on

"Your living your life on the edge if you...."
- Don't have a non-slip mat in your tub.
- Use Q-tips in your ears.
- Eat fruit/vegetables w/o washing them.

Who decided that this stuff worthy of the phrase "living on the edge"? What would they say about the life of a cyclist? Mountain bikers ride through tight singletrack just inches from trees, rocks and the edge of cliffs just fast enough to be on the border of out of control. A road cyclist rides in traffic next to heavy motorized vehicles piloted by lazy humans talking on phones and guzzling cheeseburgers. Are we cyclists living our lives over the edge? If "living your life on the edge" is qualified by the list above they must think we are insane. This is only a very small portion of the original list. There were more and they were ridiculous but I can't find the whole list. I thought it was pretty hilarious and I wonder what kind of boring life the folks who came up with it must live.
Not much going on here, just mostly working over the weekend. I did get the last touches of the first wall in our project finished. Now I'm ready to start digging out for the second tier. I think this one will be a little harder.
As much as I hate to say it I'm glad Alan has been temporally laid off. Don't get me wrong I hate to see anyone going through tough financial times but even he said it himself, he's been having alot of fun. Normally I would have had to ride by myself all last week but since he's been off that's not been the case. I tend to ride more and push myself harder when there is someone riding with me.
Tomorrow starts another three days off and while I should be sleeping in until at least noon, (working nightshift tonight) I plan on getting to Alan's house by 10:30 to head over to NC for some more new trail exploring. I told him he had to drive so I could relax on the drive over. The weather is supposed to be very nice tomorrow and it would be a shame to waste it by sleeping in. I'll catch up on my rest when the weather turns sour on Wed. I guess you could say I'll be "living my life on the edge" tomorrow.
I thought after all the riding, running and retaining wall building I did last week I would have lost some weight. I felt like I was slimmer and a couple lbs lighter, but no still the same. My sweet tooth has really been strong as of lately. It comes and goes but recently I could eat sweets all day long. Sometimes I have almost no self control. If I were rich I swear I would pay someone to follow me around and slap cookies out of my hand.

Friday, February 13, 2009

back to the Creeper

Yesterday was looking like a pretty nice day, sunny skies, semi warm temps but windy as hell. I'm still feeling a little sore from all the work and riding I've done this week but I still wanted more but something a little easier. I decided a trip to the VA Creeper Trail would do the trick. I figured that the trees would help block the wind some what and the easy riding would allow me to get in some good spin time without killing myself. I decided to start in Abingdon ride to Damascus eat lunch then turn around a head back. The ride from Abingdon to Damascus is probably the easiest part of the Creeper, slight downhill or flat riding the whole way. I made the 16 mile trip in an hour and ten minutes not really pushing the pace. When I arrived in Damascus I stopped in one of the gas stations while I tried to decide what to eat before heading back. I walked in and was cruising the candy isle when I heard over the radio. "Welcome race fans to Daytona Speed week and the Gatorade Dual 125s!" Holy crap! I forgot all about the dual 125s today. For the Daytona 500 they don't have individual qualifying laps like all the other races, they have 2 125 lap races to determine the positions and determine who gets to race and who goes home. They are usually pretty exciting races to watch because there are alot of teams who are new or unsponsored trying to prove themselves and make it into the Superbowl of NASCAR racing.
I decided real quick that lunch was going to come from right here in the isles of the gas station and I was going to jump on my bike and get back to the truck sooner than anticipated to try and catch some of the race on the drive home. I grabbed a very healthy lunch consisting of a double decker Moon Pie, Skittles, Powerbar & a Red Bull. Normally I don't eat this kind of stuff especially in that quantity but I knew I was going to be riding hard and fighting the wind the whole way and I would probably burn every bit of the calories as fuel.
As soon as I hit the open parts of the trail I knew it was going to be a tough ride. I felt like I was hitting a wall that was pushing back, the wind was so fierce at times. Luckily it was not that way the whole time but I did have to turn my Ipod up a couple of notches just to hear the music.
By the time I reached my truck I was beat but happy and I hadn't even touched the Skittles. I turned on the radio to find that there were still 25 laps in the first race and Dale Jr. was racing in #2. I even made it home in time to catch the entire 2nd race on TV.
Today I plan to head out on a short road ride and maybe get in some retaining wall work before heading to work. Man I love my 7 days off I've ridden 5 out of 7 days in very nice weather, shot alot of video, explored several new trails, got in a lot of work at the house and even ran a little too. I hope work is slow this weekend so I can rest up for next week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

there are cats in my trees!

If you read my blog every once in a while you've probably heard about my neighborhood cat problem. Two of the cats in my hood have gotten together on more than one occasion, I think, and had who knows how many kittens. I occasionally look out my kitchen door to see 3 sitting at the window looking in to taunt my dogs. I usually whistle for Moonshine and let her chase them around the yard to teach the cats a lesson. The other day a black and white one sat there looking in like a peeping Tom and I called for Moonshine, let her out the door and watched as she chased the cat up a tree in our backyard. She stood at the base of the tree with her front paws up on the trunk looking just like a coon hound. I ran, grabbed the camera but only got one shot off before the cat jumped down and headed for the woods.

Yesterday I decided to take a break from riding and wall building and go for a run. I decided on the world famous Crazy 8's route downtown. It's the world's fastest 8k race that draws runners from all over the country. Anyway as I was getting ready I thought I would pass along a little info on my current running sock/shoe setup. Normally I don't do gear reviews because I kinda think they are boring to read but I will this one time because I've been so impressed with my setup. I scored a pair of DeFeet Cloud Nine socks a little over a year ago and I will say they are like running on a cloud. They are by far the most comfortable sock I have ever owned. DeFeet is a cycling sock company but these are running specific socks. I've tried to buy more but they are difficult to find, I guess due to their popularity.

My shoes I got this year are the Asics GT - 2140. They are a little on the ugly side and the ruby red stripes always makes me think of Dorothy's ruby red shoes in the Wizard of Oz. I'm actually glad they are a little ugly because I am more likely to save them for strictly running in. The shoes have good support in all the right places, no slipage and have a solid but comfy sole that does not get hot after a long run. I may not be the best at giving a good review. I don't know or have all the technical info but I did do a little research on the kicks before I bought them and they got the Runner's choice pick award for 2009 or something along those lines.

No I'm not paid by either company to say these things but if they want to send me some money or free products I will gladly accept it.

Greg Following from A Sparks on Vimeo.

Alan shared this video with me last night. It's from last weekend in NC. He mounted the camera on his rear triangle and got video of me following. I actually get to be in a video this time, no way!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

time machine

With all this crazy spring like weather I'm almost convinced we're in a time machine. Last week temps in the single digits and then high in the 60's this week. All this warm weather has really gotten me outside everyday exploring new trails and starting new landscaping projects. Every morning this week I get up out of bed with the speed of a 70 year old man. My muscles are sore as hell and not just my legs, I'm talking whole body.
Saturday kicked it all off with a trip to NC and several miles on the singlespeed that I just wasn't used to. Sunday started our spring projects a little early this year. I'm hoping to get everything done early so we can have the whole summer to spend wandering aimlessly through the woods. Monday I found myself chasing Mark & Alan all over Bays Mtn. We checked out the new trail we've been working on this year, I still can't remember the name of it. Then we climbed and climbed and then climbed some more to the top of the mtn and down the backside via the Indian Pipes trail. A little gem I'm embarrassed to say I had not ridden yet. It was a sweet singletrack that took us to places I had never seen.

photo cred. Alan aka "The Complainer"

photo cred. Alan aka "The Complainer"

I'm totally pumped about all the new trails we have to ride right here in Kingsport. After 7+ miles I had to head out and get back to our new landscaping project. It's a whole body workout just in it's self.
Yesterday more work in the yard but I had to get in some trail time with the dogs so in true "riding with dogs" style we loaded up the Mamsita with the Hero cam mounted on the seatpost and shot some dog footage out at Warriors.

Our latest landscaping project has us building a retaining wall. For the past 5 years I've been mowing an embankment on a 45 degree slope. It's not really all that hard to mow now that I'm used to it but the grass has never looked that good due to erosion. We plan to construct a 2 level wall totalling 4 ft. complete with flower beds and shrubs to make it more appealing. After the retaining wall is finished I plan to start on fencing in the yard. I'm growing tired of chasing Moonshine out of the neighbors yards at 5am.


unloading the block

after many hours of digging

getting there slowly but surely

Today I may stay off the bike and go for a run. The winds are supposed to pick up and a storm is headed our way.

Monday, February 9, 2009

a singlespeed ass kicking

With spring like temps in the forecast this weekend there was only one thing I could do, plan a road trip to the mountains of NC for some serious mountain biking. A few of us decided to head over to Wilkesboro NC to ride some new trails built by the BMCC and scope out the race course for the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek. I didn't sleep very well Friday night, I was like a kid waiting for Santa to leave leave his booty. I think I woke up every hour on the hour looking at my alarm clock to see if it was time to get up and hit the road.
When 6:30 did finally roll around I hit the ground running and still managed to show up at the rendezvous point 15 mins. late. We rolled into the nature center parking lot about 10:30ish near the Kerr Scott Dam with plans to ride the Over Mtn Victory trail all the way to Warriors Creek campground. Looking at the map the OVT trail looked as if it should link everything up but they failed to mention that you had to ride several miles down Hwy. 268 in order to connect it. After riding 8 miles to another campground (Bandits Roost) we realized that we could not connect the two and rather than ride the 6+ miles of pavement on knobbies we opted to head back and hit the Dark Mtn trails. All was not lost we did get to ride a new section that branched off the OVT trail called Shiner's Run which was pretty sweet.

Normally the OVT trail is a blazing fast singletrack with berms and roller coaster dips and turns but with the recent snowfall this past week there were several sections that had yet to fully dry out which led to a lot of Dukes of Hazard style of riding. Sliding sideways around corners and plenty of yeehaws to go around.
I decided this weekend was a good time to unleash the Karate Monkey and get back into singlespeed riding condition. Although Dark Mtn is a rather smooth set of trails all the mud and high mileage took it's toll on this honky. I was pretty sore near the end of the ride and I ended up resorting to the Mamasita for a little derailleur relief. By then the damage was done, even climbing in granny gear hurt but I don't think I was alone, everyone seemed to be feeling a little weary. It's amazing how much energy a little mud can zap out of you.
Alan and I had the dueling Hero cams rolling but as usual something screwed up and I somehow accidentally changed the settings on my camera to snap a picture instead of shooting video during part of the day. Not all was lost I still have way more footage than I can ever share but I was playing around with some cool mounting positions and the reverse fork mount didn't pan out. The front fork mount did and proved to be some of the best footage I got Saturday, I don't understand how the little camera cam stay so steady mounted to a steel fork but it did, just inches from a spinning wheel full of deadly spokes just waiting to chop my little Hero into tiny pieces.
My video via the front fork.

Alan's video via the seat stay.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Registered for my first race of the 2009 season this weekend. The 6 Hours of Warriors Creek to be held on Sat April 4th is the first year for this race. I'm pumped about this race but I wish it weren't 2 months away. I'm ready to go now. I decided to go solo on this one since it's only 6 hrs. Alan had asked me originally if I wanted to race as a team but I figure 6 hrs isn't long enough for a team race, this one is better to roll solo. I figure most folks will be doing this the same or a duo. I guess if I had gone the team route a podium spot might have actually been a possibility, I'm not sure. The promoters just extended the early bird sign-up deadline so that tells me there aren't a whole lot of folks registered yet. It is still early but a small race is nice when there aren't alot of folks crowding the course. I went ahead and signed up in the wuss category and not with the SS crowd. Not saying I won't ride a lap or two on the Monkey I just figured I'd be better off starting the season and my introduction into solo endurance races a little easier. Is this really an endurance race? Not sure. Oddly enough that weekend lined up perfectly with Melinda's Spring Break and my monthly 7 days off so we plan on camping through Monday.
I hope a few more of my friends get on the ball and register for this one. I'm sure Alan will ghost ride it, he's always been a cheap skate but has a good reason for now. Andy registered himself and his girl as a duo but neglected to mention it to her last I heard. I've been trying to contact him for a week now but with no luck. I wonder if she caught wind of his actions and had a hit man hunt him down? Somebody might outta go check on him.
This weekend a group of us are heading over to ride the course and then some. The temps are supposed to be in the upper 50's and sunny. Should be a good day for riding. Our little group has grown larger than expected. The Hero cam duo should be in full effect and with so many riders I'll be sure to take extra batteries and a clean SD card.
Flat Stanley has been begging me to take him along and I told him I would but he's going to have to clean up his act a little. He's trashed our house this week. Who knew a little guy with a cruiser bike and a few beers could do some much damage. I'm going to have to tell him no more riding in the house.

11 days until the start of the 2009 NASCAR season.

Monday, February 2, 2009

the weekend

It was a good weekend, Melinda and I didn't get out on our bikes but we did manage to go on a nice hike up Devil's Backbone with Anthony and a good run in the sun yesterday. Melinda was really trucking yesterday, running harder than I've seen her run in a long time. When we left the house yesterday she forgot her Ipod so I gave her one of mine to use. Instead of Fleetwood Mac she was listening to Janes Addiction and Rage Against the Machine. She said it really pumped her up and when she was hurting and wanted to complain she didn't have to, they were doing it for her. Sometime this week when she not paying attention I'm going to swap out Fleetwood Mac for Rage on her Ipod.
I told Flat Stanley I would draw him a bike to ride last week but I failed to do so and then while cleaning the bike room this weekend I ran across a better idea.

Flat was so excited about his new ride that he decided he wanted to do something special for me. While Melinda and I were out running he rode his new bike down to the store and picked up a nice surprise for me.
Sweet! I never knew Flat Stanley had such good taste in beer. Now we were all set to watch the Super Bowl.
Hopefully I'll have some bike related stories to share after the weekend. I'm working all this week but off for the weekend.
13 days until the start of the 2009 NASCAR season.