Thursday, April 30, 2009

on hold

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, Melinda and I have been holed up in our bomb shelter all week waiting until the Swine Flu outbreak is over. Until then please go to the library for something more educational to read.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kingsport CRAWL

I took too long to get my CRAWL post out and somebody already beat me to it so I'll just hit the highlights and save the details to Alan. I have a few pics but nothing really that interesting. Friday we hit the town on our cruiser bikes in Kingsport for a little something different. Our normal route usually takes us in and around downtown Johnson City but I have had a few requests to try out Kingsport. Earlier this year a few of us hit the Kingsport Greenbelt in the dark and rain for a downtown cruise with refreshment stops. Still daylight out and much nicer weather this time allowed for a lot bigger crowd and a more pleasant ride. We did experience a little off-roading due to some construction but we made it through without a scratch.

Note Alan's drunk rapper poise and the PBR in the foreground. He tries to pretend to be a beer snob but I caught him on more than one occasion sipping the tallboy. Just go ahead and come out of the closet there buddy.
It's a good thing we had bikes with rack systems, as leftovers were plentiful.
On the ride home we headed down Eastman road which was not in the planned route but since the Greenbelt was under construction and it was pretty late, we decided to take to the streets which were already vacant. It was all downhill on Eastman Rd. to our cars which prompted a couple of us to see how fast we could coast down in a full tuck, ape hanger bars and all. I was pretty surprised to lead the pack for a while on my singlespeed cruiser but eventually I gave way to the bigger wheels of Mike's commuter. Once on the flats I tried to spin the cranks in an effort to catch him but the chain gave way and flew off leaving me with no power or brakes. I forgot a coaster brake doesn't work without the chain on. At my high rate of speed I got pretty lucky with a wide turn and a large empty parking lot to run it out. Had it be earlier in the day with alot of traffic I would have been in some serious trouble.
I hope to get a little video footage together later this week so stay tuned.

Friday, April 24, 2009

the tubeless experiment

For a couple of years now I have heard from several of my friends about how great tubeless tires are. Not really having trouble with flats and the lack of desire to spend the money to upgrade has made me content to continue running tubes until recently. It started with a killer deal I got on a set of tubeless tires. I mainly picked them up because I couldn't pass on the deal and I wanted to get rid of the ridiculously heavy Kendas I had been running. The wheel set that I was also running was not bad but also not the greatest. Last month I sprang for a new wheel set with tubeless rims, another deal too good to pass up plus between the new tires, wheels and the absence of tubes the Mamasita lost just a hair over 2 lbs. on the bathroom scale. I was more concerned with the upgrade in components and the weight loss so going tubeless to me was just a plus. I actually had the new wheels just before the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek but I held off on using them because of the bad luck, racing on new untested components usually brought on. After that I was just either too busy or the weather was too bad and I just never got around to setting them up until this week.
Mounting up the tires to the rims went smoother than expected but I had alot of good advice to follow. After allowing them to set at max pressure to ensure the bead was set I decided to hit my local trailhead for the maiden voyage. Moonshine and Jackson were ecstatic about going to the trails, as soon as I started getting dressed and filling up water bottles Jackson started barking at me with excitement in the kitchen. It can be hard to concentrate on making sure I don't forget anything when there is a 100+ lb. dog on your heels barking like a maniac. Flat Stanley noticed the commotion and immediately started gathering his stuff for a ride but I told him he wasn't invited after he threw that beer bottle at me. He apologized but I didn't give in, I made him stay home and clean house.
At the trailhead I put 30 psi in each tire as a starting point, I had always heard going tubeless would allow you to run a lower psi but I ran 30 with tubes when most folks ran 35 without. As I rode the first trail I could feel somewhat of a difference in the new wheel set but I've never been one to really analyze the difference in components hence my lack of gear reviews here on the blog. After spending some dog time on the trails we headed back to the truck to put them in the back so not to over run them. I gave them some water and shared a granola bar, got them situated and headed back out for some more trail time. About 3/4 of the way through the trail I noticed my rear tire going soft and washing out in the turns. I stopped and noticed a some of the Stan's had leaked out around the rim, not much but enough to make me worry. I figure I must have burped the tire or else it may have just not completely seated itself on the rim. Having not brought a pump or anything I headed back to the truck and pumped the tire back up to 30 psi. I wasn't back on the trail 3 or 4 minutes when all of the sudden I could hear what sounded like air escaping my tire. I stopped to find a small puncture in the tread but nothing sticking out of it. I waited to see if it would seal up like everyone claimed it would and it did but not until the tire was too soft to ride any further. I turned around once again to air up the tire. I pumped it back up to 30 but it immediately started leaking out of the small puncture again. Realizing there was nothing more I could do I loaded up and headed home in disgust.
When I arrived home the leak had sealed off but as before the tire was too soft. I put it in the stand and rolled the wheel puncture side down hoping the sealant had just not had time to completely cover the insides of the tire. After about 30 minutes I pumped it back up and it held, well at least for the time being. I had to leave for work so I won't be able to check to see if it sealed permanently until I get home.
From talking to a few friends I think I just need to give the sealant a little more time to take effect and that the set up process was a little slow. I was told once you got past that point it worked flawlessly. I plan to get out for another ride tomorrow as long as the tire held, if not I'll be calling the oh so faithful Karate Monkey into service. I very seldom get let down by the Monkey.
Strike one for tubeless tires. So far I've not been impressed but I have a feeling they will come around and I just need to be patient.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Nothing really interesting to say so here is a really cool video.

Inspired. Danny MacAskill from dave on Vimeo.

I'm always amazed by these guys.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Yesterday the weather forecast was a 30% chance of rain. Is that a 30% chance you'll get rained on or 30% of your area is getting rain? I'm not sure but everytime I would go out side the clouds would roll in and it would rain but the minute I went back in the sun would pop out. I was really wanting to get a ride in, I've been kinda lacking in that dept. lately with all the rain and spring time projects going on at the house not to mention the new kayak, it's seen quite a bit of attention.
As I was sipping on my coffee I looked outside and the sun was out but at 8:30 it was still a bit too chilly to ride and the road was the only thing that wasn't wet. I hit the town to get a few projects and errands taken care of while I waited on it to warm up. I was surprised at how windy it was and it started giving me second thoughts on riding.
I put in a couple hours of solid yard work, we've been expanding our garden this year, vegetables not just flowers and we've had to haul in alot of dirt. I can't believe I actually paid for bagged cow poo. The weather really never got any better, it did warm up a little but the wind was still pretty fierce. I thought about going for a run but I really just wasn't feeling it and then it dawned on me, I could go ride Bays Mtn fire roads. I'm not usually a big fan of fire roads but I was feeling pretty desperate to get some saddle time in so I loaded up the Mamasita and headed for the mtn.
While I was suiting up a fierce but short lived rain blew threw almost causing me to head back home but I stuck to my plan. I've ridden the trails in the rain before so I knew it could be done and it was really my only option for some pedal action. I decided on the Fun Fest race course, actually the old one. This years race course will include the new singletrack trail we built this year but I knew it would be too muddy to ride. I wasn't concerned with a certain finish time, I just wanted to climb everything and climb it I did, well all except for one short steep section that was too slick and caused me to spin out. I saw rain then sun then rain then sun and by the time I was finished my toes were starting to sting from being wet and cold. On my last descent off the fire tower I decided to take it easy because the trail is really washed out and the ruts will get you in trouble and slam you to the ground quick. With everything being so wet, yesterday was no exception, I can't believe they let people ride that stuff especially during a race when they know everyone will being flying down it. Maybe just maybe I'll put a bug in someones ear about trying to talk the park into letting us ride the firetower trail down just for race day. Talk about a sweet ride!
Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative this week, I think the dogs are starting to get cabin fever again and all this yard work is starting to piss them off. When Flat Stanley saw me putting my work boots on again today he threw an empty beer bottle at me and stomped off to his room.
Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to post soon instead of this lame ass weather report stuff.

Monday, April 20, 2009

River pics

I've been having a few problems lately with my computer due to some pesky little viruses but I think I've almost gotten everything straightened out. I've heard alot of people say the same lately and express there wish for a Mac. I feel the same, I've always had a love for Macs, I used them all through college and at my 1st paying gig. They are a little more expensive than a PC but they just might be worth the $$$. I finally got around to uploading my pics of my river commute which I've actually yet to make to work. I did do another practice run with Melinda starting a little farther downstream in deeper water. On the way back up Melinda suggested that we try to make it all the way back up to my original starting point from my first trip. The water was a little higher and with no head wind we were able to make it without bottoming out.

The trail I took down to the water, steep and root/rock infested.

I took Melinda's boat my first trip due to it's smaller size and it being lighter and easier to carry but I recently purchased a 2 wheeled cart allowing me to take mine instead.

Cool train bridge over the river

If you look closely you can see a house perched on top of the cliff over looking the water.

A view of the bridge (John B Dennis) I take over the river everyday to work. Yes that's where I work on the other side.

I hope to make the actual commute to work soon. It's been cold and rainy so far so I wussed out this weekend. Maybe this week if the weather is nice but it's not looking promising.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

blah, blah, blah

I hope this post gets published and if your reading this then I got lucky. My computer is either sick, pissed off at me or has some sort of infection I'm not sure. In an effort to save everything before all was lost I ran down to Office Depot and finally plunked down some dough on a cool little external hard drive that I've been talking about for some time. It's almost as small as my cell phone but will hold everything but the kitchen sink, amazing! It's also fashionably red to match the rest of the house just like Melinda likes it. I was successful in backing up all the important junk we have on our computer and I have plans to take it to the Dr. today for an examination. Rest assured it will be in good hands and I hope to be back blogging and posting cool but boring photos of my mediocre excursions. Cool but boring? Does that contradict itself? Who cares, it sounded good in my brain.
Another attempt at the river commute is on tap either today or tomorrow not sure which but this time should be a success and I'll report back as soon as I get this thing fixed. I may be in full commute mode by then so who knows.
Flat Stanley and the dogs are getting cabin fever so I'll be out on the trails this week but no fancy road trips planned. I think Alan is getting bored and going without me. He sent me an email about a 4 day excursion but no invite. I guess he was just trying to rub it in my face. Just kidding little buddy I know you'll be the first to read this.
I got the approval of my social director on the 12 Hours of Tsali so it looks as if another solo attempt may be in the works. I hope to kick it up a notch this time. Guess I better go ride in an effort to better prepare myself.


Monday, April 13, 2009

maiden voyage


Well it wasn't a total failure but I will have to re-think my entry point. I started out just a few hundred yards downstream from the Fort Patrick Henry Dam a spot I've been eyeing since I had the bright idea of commuting to work via the Holston River. I decided today was a good day to make my first test run to see if there was going to be any problems. My entry point is somewhat of a sketchy hike down to the river trying to carry my kayak while balancing along a very rocky and root infested path. I made it down to the waters edge with no problems and set my kayak down noticing the river still had a little flow which was okay since I was traveling down stream. I checked the dam release schedule before I left the house and it was scheduled to stop generating @ 3pm. At 3:04 I entered the water and started my journey. Earlier in the year I had noticed the water is pretty shallow where I put in which I figured was a good thing if I ever tipped over. I guesstimated it to be around 2 ft deep. Not long after I started I ran across a spot where a small stream entered the river, something I had never seen before but I didn't foresee it as being a problem since it wasn't creating much of a current.
My trip was pretty interesting, I took my time snapping pics of various interesting objects, houses, trees and bridges. My downstream trip in the 10 ft boat took me about 40 mins. a time I new I could easily beat if I just paddled not goofing off with the camera. An interesting feature I did see was a train bridge crossing the river which the train came straight out of the rock cliff from a tunnel which was pretty cool. I actually got to see a train come out of the tunnel on my trip back up stream. As I watched the train cross the river I could see the engineer, gave him a wave and got a wave back. I also saw alot of wildlife, muskrats, ducks geese and a few blue heron which are alot prettier up close.
As I cruised closer to Eastman I passed the burning ground which is located on the cliffs just above the river. As I passed by I could see I was getting quite a bit of attention from the operators who were perched on the catwalk above me. Alot of pointing and looking was going on, I guess they've never seen a kayak before or maybe there was something large and vicious lurking under me in the water that only they could see. That was something I thought about for a split second two separate times during my trip as I scrapped the bottom of my boat on a submerged tree I did not see until I hit it.
I pulled into Eastman just below my gate that I enter for work jumped out, stretched a little and shed a layer before heading back up stream. I decided to put the camera away to see if I could make better time because 40 minutes was just not acceptable when it's 4:15am. I just can't make myself get up much earlier especially when my drive only takes 3-5 minutes. In reality I won't be saving much on gas and I knew that before I made the purchase, I'm in it more for the adventure.
My trip back upstream didn't take as long as it did going down which I expected so my next run should be alot faster. Everything was going smoothly until I reached the point where the stream entered the river. I really didn't have a hard time fighting the current but that was also the point where it got really shallow. I started bottoming out on large rocks and hitting my paddle on the bottom trying to get a good deep stroke. Twice I had to turn around and try a different approach but finally I made it making a mental note of my route. Now here's where my problems began, the further I went upstream the more and more I had trouble running up on large rocks and not being able to get a good paddle stroke due to the shallowness of the water. I starting thinking it wasn't like this on the way down so what gives. Then it dawned on me, I left shortly after the dam stopped releasing which meant the water level was probably still up. Now it was lower and I was fighting a serious headwind. The combination of these factors made me decide to call it a day and head to shore. I really wasn't too far from where I started but trying to reach my original starting point was going to be more work than I wanted to deal with. Once I reached the shore I noticed blood streaks down the side of the kayak. Yesterday I had cut my knuckle and I guess while I was fighting the rocks and wind I nailed it a few times causing a big mess.
The place I decided to hike out really wasn't the best but I made due, finally after a bit of scouting I found an old trail that was used by fishermen and I was able to get back to my neighborhood. As I hiked back up to my house I realized that one of those little 2 wheeled trailers was going to be a must. After an hour and a half of paddling my arms and shoulders were toast and carrying that kayak uphill wasn't helping anything.
If I get a trailer I will be able to use my 12 ft. boat which will be faster and allow me to hike further down to a better put in point where the shallow water won't be a problem. I plan to give it another run later this week to get my route nailed down and hopefully make the first official trip this Friday to work.
I was unable to load any photos this afternoon our computer or internet was acting up but i did run across a few more from Warriors Creek curtosy of Andy Mullins.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter on the water

Happy Easter! Didn't really feel like Easter at my house today I tried to go hide eggs in the yard but Melinda refused to hunt them down. Instead I slept in till around 11:30, worked nightshift last night, and after breakfast Melinda and I loaded up the new kayaks for the first time and hit Warriors lake.

We scored a couple of Old Towns from Mahoney's about 2 weeks ago but today was this first time we've been able to use them due to crappy weather and a very busy schedule. It's been difficult walking by the boats just sitting on the deck with the price tag still attached wondering when we were going to get to use them.

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day, the weather was awesome and the lake was not too crowded. We did have a slight accident when we were putting the boats in the water. I some how managed to run the end of Melinda kayak right into her big toe cutting her nail. Luckily we had a first aid kit handy and were able to get her bandaged up before getting into the water.

Today we just mainly got everything dialed in and got the feel of maneuvering the boats around. We paddled along the shoreline checking out the rock face cliffs and submerged trees. You can see alot of interesting things in and around the lake in areas that aren't normally accessible by land.

We played around in a stream that fed into the lake for a while but we had to cut it shorter than we would have liked. I had to be back at work tonight. I did mount the Hero cam to the front of my kayak but I haven't even looked at the footage yet. I'm sure it's not really that exciting to watch, maybe once we start hitting the local rivers.
Even though we didn't have a big get together with family and gorge ourselves on good home cooking we really enjoyed the outdoors today on the lake, something we've not been able to do until now. I had a friend tell me the good thing about investing in a kayak is when it's sunny outside you can go ride your bike but when it's raining you can go kayaking. He also gave a piece of advice, "Buying a rec boat is the first step on a very slippery slope, it won't be long before you'll be wanting something in the form of a whitewater boat". I know exactly what he meant buy that, I've got a bike for just about every kind of riding there is to do.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

6HWC cont. (photo essay)

Finally I got around to sorting and uploading all the photos from last weekend. I stopped by Kinetic Images' website earlier, they have got to be the best race photos I've ever seen. I am actually considering buying one of myself for the first time ever.

Friday I got the Eco all loaded up and was ready to roll when Melinda rolled in from work. Moonshine and Jackson were dancing around the whole time I packed in anticipation of the trip. The Eco pulled good behind my truck something that I was a little nervous about. I'm still trying to dial in the electric brakes. I locked them up once going through downtown Boone.

Anthony, Andy, Eric, Brad and I got up early and cruised over to the start finish to set up our pits. Celebrity blogger "Dicky" pulled in right next to us but I never really took them time to talk to him. I've never been one to go up to someone I don't know and strike up a conversation.

The field Anthony and I stopped in where Melinda and Amanda were hanging out. I think my lap time doubled on that one because of all the stops we made chatting it up with various people who all seemed to be suffering as much as we were.

At the after party Flat Stanley tried to sneak up on Abby & Andy and steal their beer but he got the smack down. I told Flat he had to pay $5 to drink since he didn't race, he stomped off in disgust and pouted at the truck for the rest of the evening.

Sunday Melinda and I took the dogs down to the lake for a little R & R (rambunctiousness & rowdiness)

All the lake water Jackson drank seemed to run right through him and he grew kinda of fond of pissing on the drift wood.

The only issue we had with the Eco that weekend was a small rubber gasket on the skylight that got outta whack when we opened it. With the threat of rain I had to climb up on top and realign it. We didn't have a ladder so I had to back up the truck as close as I could, climb up on top of it then jump up on top of the Eco. That thing is really tall.

Our last day as we pulled out I had to tend to some dirty work (sewer dump station).

Note to self: Always recheck the hose clamp before opening the black water valve, bad things can happen very quickly.

Friday, April 10, 2009

6 Hours of Warriors Creek

I know it's been a week since the race and it almost seems pointless to write anything about it and I really don't have any photos uploaded yet but I feel the need to talk about it so I will. I know most folks have already posted up their race stories days ago and most have already forgotten them but I've just been too dang busy to read or write anything in the blogger world until today. Melinda was off all this week for Spring Break so we took advantage of the vacation and stayed till late Monday afternoon in NC. The weather was near perfect all weekend and we almost stayed till Tues but we had projects and 2 new kayaks calling us at home.
Last weekend was alot of firsts for me. New camper, the "Eco" so setting up was an adventure never having done it before so I had to consult with the very generic owners manual several times. Our manual was for Eco trailers in general, not just our trailer but all of them so it was kinda difficult to determine if I had a such and such or a such in such. It all worked out good and the trip was a success with the exception of two very loud snoring dogs and a noisy fan. Other than that we slept very comfortably.
Racing a solo endurance race was a first for me as well. I think I picked a good one, just 6 hours with 10.5 mile laps. The course was an extremely fun, a swooping course full of berms and turns but one that was very taxing on your body if you were trying to maintain a quick pace. I told myself I was going to take it easy have fun with a goal of 3 laps. It was also my first time on my bike in a little over 2 weeks so I was a little under prepared but with no real goals other than 3 laps I wasn't too worried.
My first lap went by a little slow as I got stuck in a train of folks some who didn't understand the concept of using your speed on the downhills to make it back up the other side. They would try and run through their gears to get to granny which usually resulted in someone stalling out and piling up 4 to 5 riders who were all lined up trying to pass. I even got blamed for one foul up which was totally not my fault and I lost my chain in the process allowing 6 or 7 people to pass me. The jack ass who screwed us all up just gave us a quick sorry and walked up the hill and rode off while the rest of us cussed him and I got off the trail to put my chain back on.
Lap 2 went alot better, after a few minutes in the pits stretching out my back and a pb&j that Melinda made me I went out for a 2nd lap. The crowd had spread out so the traffic was alot better. Occasionally someone from a team would fly up behind me and I would let them pass but other than that it went smoothly. Every lap I went out with friends and we rode together making what was supposed to be a race more like a ride with my buddies.
After my 2nd lap and cruised into the pits and stretched out in the sun ate something and seriously considered calling it a day but I knew if I did I would regret it. Slowly several of my friends trickled in some on the same lap as me some a lap ahead. We all got together and decided to do one more lap together taking it easy and just having fun. Eric, Brad, Anthony, David and I all left out with me taking up the rear and had one of the best laps of the day. It wasn't my fastest but it was definitely the most fun. Halfway through the lap the course ran through an open grassy field with a lone tree near the lake. As we entered the field we could see Melinda and Amanda sitting under the tree watching the race so Anthony and I decided to stop and rest a bit and say hello to the ladies. After a hug and a kiss from the girls we were off to finish the 2nd half of the lap which seemed to be the most punishing with one short punchy climb after another.
We rolled into the pits happy and glad to be done but with a new appreciation for endurance racing.
Once the race was officially over we headed back to camp cleaned up and got ready to hit the free BBQ and beer (Boone Brewing). The food and beer were excellent I even scored a few items via the raffle. I was glad I did it and I'm ready to give it another go at the 12 Hours of Tsali in May but nothing is set in stone yet.
I had originally planned to video some of the race and and take a bunch of pics but I failed to do so. Melinda did snap a few pics from the weekend and I hope to post them up soon. I haven't sorted through them or begun the uploading process yet so stay tuned all weekend.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

on hold

Everything on the blogger front will be on hold this week, Melinda's off this week for spring break so we're spending quality time and finishing up some projects. I did accomplish what I hoped to do at Warriors Creek and get in 3 laps but I had to have a little push from some friends. It was tough! I've yet to even look at my photos and I didn't even break out the hero cam so no new videos, sorry. I should get some time to post up a complete report this weekend.


Thursday, April 2, 2009


I finally got around to snapping some pics of the Eco trailer last night. My Mom stopped by to bring me a Memphis pizza from Cootie Brown's, something I haven't had in a long time since our Kingsport location closed. Dang it was good. We'll be testing it out this weekend in NC as we head out Friday afternoon to Wilkesboro for the 6 Hours of Warrior's Creek.

The dinette/queen bed

My Mom and Melinda worked their magic prepping the inside so it will feel just like home this weekend. We're really roughing it these days.

The bathroom is quite cozy, you can actually take care of the 3 "S's" all at the same time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Is it Friday yet?

I'd like to start this post with a heart felt apology to all my readers, (if there are any) for the negative post on Monday. Normally I try not to complain and I don't want to drive any potential readers off so I promise not to whine and complain anymore.
It's official the "Pancake Shack" is now history. I got it out of the shop last week and it only sat in the driveway long enough for me to clean it up and wax it and I sent it on it's way. I hope it doesn't torture anyone else. I hope I cured it of all it's illnesses once and for all. Last night Melinda and I picked up our new Eco trailer. I didn't manage to upload any pics since we got in late with it but I was able to get it into the driveway safely. I was kinda worried about it fitting since it's about 4 ft. longer and twice as tall than the shack. It did fit but just barely, it definitely looks alot nicer than the shack.
The next couple of days I plan to spend loading it up and preparing it for the trip to N. Wilkesboro this weekend for the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek. I'm really excited about the race this weekend, haven't really had a chance to get nervous with all that has been going on but I'm sure that will kick in nicely an hour before the start. One thing that always plagues me with races is having to pee. I will probably pee 5 or 6 times in the hour and a half leading up to the start. It drives me crazy running to find a bathroom worrying about missing the start.
Stay tuned tomorrow for pics of the new Eco.