Friday, June 26, 2009

a week of silence

Riding with Dogs will be observing a week of silence in honor of the gloved one. It was sad to hear that Farrah Faucet died yesterday morning after a battle with cancer but then when the news announced MJ was dead I was really in awe.
Actually Melinda and I will be camping and riding at Dupont like we've done for the past 4 years but I will make her listen to Michael Jackson the whole drive down today.
I'm sorry not much has been going on here lately but I just finished hell week. No I didn't go back to college and join another fraternity, work was awful this week and I pretty much went straight to bed after I got off work everyday this week. If you don't believe me just ask Melinda. I should have something to blog about when I get back in town. Dupont always seems to generate a few stories.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

homemade kayak rack storage unit

After about 2 months of having the kayaks laying around the driveway and on the deck I finally got around to building a storage system for them. I needed something to protect them from the elements and get them out of the way. We're all about proper storage at our house... wait I should have said Melinda is all about proper storage at our house. Alot of stuff would be laying around in disarray if it were up to me. After a bit of Internet searching I found some pretty interesting storage systems, some were free standing outside systems which is what I wanted but most were various types of shelving units in garages. Since I do not have a garage I went for the outside free standing unit. I found this design pretty quick but with no dimensions so I had to come up with the spec. myself. There were some pretty interesting concepts out there but I found this one to be the best choice with my limited carpenter skills.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

new stuff

It's been kind of slow around here at Riding With Dogs. We've had alot of thunderstorms plus my busy work schedule has left me with little ride time and the dogs with little trail running. You know whenever you buy a new bike it always seems to rain for a week straight leaving you stuck in the house just staring at your new steed anxious to hit the trails and break it in proper like but you can't. Well I don't have a new ride hanging in the bike room but I did buy a new pair of riding shoes, some new gloves and a new camera to replace the one Melinda and I trashed at the beach. That must be the reason for all the rain. I was really due for a new pair of shoes, the ones I've been using were on their 4th season and were on the verge of falling apart. I've had my eye on a pair of Shimanos for some time and I've put off purchasing any because I just couldn't justify spending the extra money right now with all the traveling we've done. Melinda has been harassing me to get a new pair and instead of waiting on me to go for it she bought them for me as an early Father's Day gift from the dogs. Yes the dogs give Mother & Father's Day gifts. They're usually not as expensive as a new pair of shoes but I really needed them.
For the past 3 years I've been using Mechanics brand gloves for riding in. I've found a style that has worked well for me and is a little more durable and cheaper than most of the gloves I've looked at in the shops around town. Shoes and gloves are 2 things I will not order online unless I'm sure about the fit so I'm sometimes limited to my choices. I've been on the look out for a new pair of gloves but the style I've been using has been out of stock at my Lowes and all of the gloves my local shops are stocking seem to be thin, flimsy and expensive. I was getting close to start an online search for gloves when I met the US General Manager for Endura, a cycling clothing co. out of Scotland. None of the shops in my area carry Endura products but I'd seen there stuff first about a year ago in several cycling magazines and most recently Dirt Rag did a review on some of their shorts. I do own a pair of their 3/4 pants which are very nice for riding in in all conditions. Anyway back to my story, Melinda and I were on a ferry in the Outer Banks on our way back from Ockracoke and I had been wandering around the ferry checking out all the boat that were passing us. As we approached the shore I headed back to my truck and went around to the back to check on the dogs when the guy parked behind us got out of his truck, approached me and started up a conversation about cycling. I guess he saw the back window of my truck which is covered with bike stickers and he introduced himself as the GM of Endura for the US which I thought was totally cool. I told him I had the Humvee 3/4 pants and loved them and that's when he gave me him card and told me to send him an email and he would send me a pair of gloves. What perfect timing, as soon as we got back in town I sent him an email with my size and my appreciation. Two days ago my friendly Fed-Ex man dropped off a package for me containing one pair of Singletrack gloves.

In my email I hinted around that I was a fan of full finger gloves trying not to be demanding especially since they were free. At first glance I was impressed with them, although they were not as heavy duty as my Mechanics brand gloves they fit snug and comfortable. I've yet to try them out other than in my kitchen, not as oven mitts just practicing my runway moves. As soon as Mother Nature cooperates I plan to put them to the real test out on the trails.
I would have posted real time pics of the new gloves and shoes but like I said before we trashed our camera and the new one is still in the box waiting to be set-up. Hopefully I will find myself on the trail by this weekend with Melinda and the dogs to test out all the new equipment that is lying around the house patiently until it's called into service.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

the open road or lack there of

I was out on my road bike Wed. looking over my shoulder at the sky. I knew there was a chance for severe thunderstorms during the late afternoon hours but my ride time was limited and I still needed to get a run in as soon as I was done on the bike. The clouds were dark but they didn't look to menacing and I was close to being finished with my ride. I glanced down at my bike computer to see where I was on my time and as I scrolled through the options I paused for a second at my odometer. I stared in disbelief for a moment squinting a little harder to make sure I was on the right setting. Did that say only 145 miles? It did, and this is already June, WTF? I reset my computer at the beginning of this year after entering a bet I knew I wouldn't win with some friends on who would have the most mileage this year for both on and off road. I pretty much screwed myself out even a 3rd place finish after I reset my computer on the Mamasita and I might feel a little better had I done the same with my road bike. One hundred and forty five measly miles, it's really all I've done this year and I guess I shouldn't be surprised I knew I've been neglecting my road bike this year. Normally during the summer months I ride my road bike 2 -3 times a week putting in alot more road miles than off-road, not this year.
I've been riding my bike this year, alot actually but it's been all off-road, trails, the singletrack goodness. I've had a couple of days to ponder this and I think I've come to a conclusion that makes me feel a little better. Normally during the summer I do a lot of riding on the road because I'm riding alone and I can mix it up and still stay local. With the trails in the past few years I've been limited to just a couple of places some of which have not always been the best of places to ride. I've never been one to take off on a road trip by myself to ride an unknown alone. This year, with Alan unemployed I've taken quite a few road trips and for a while we were riding somewhere different out of town 2 sometimes 3 times a month. Another factor is new trails, Bays Mountain has changed in a big way opening up several miles of trails some new some old hiking only. All of this change has been fun and exciting and has kept Melinda a little more stress free. She has never been a fan of me riding on the road, that's why I don't commute to work via bike. I can't say I hope things change, I really haven't missed my road bike that much, I love riding it but I've always been much more a fan of the dirt. Things may change though but for the good, Alan just learned that he's going back to work part-time. He says he doesn't want to but I guess I can understand, he's done well being unemployed.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I know I said after the Tsali race I would put together a video but I still haven't even looked at the footage. Why not? I haven't had time, I've barely been home and when I have been at home it's been busy. Melinda's out of school and studying for a big test so I have been trying to make things go as easily as possible for her by doing all of the chores around the house which is alot tougher than it looks. I can handle it though this test pretty much determines her paycheck and I really don't want her to fail. I don't doubt her one bit, she very smart but she would never admit to that. About the Tsali video, maybe I'll get around to it maybe I won't, it's old hat now anyway.
One of the things that has kept me from producing high quality trail videos for your viewing pleasure was our trip to the Outer Banks or as some folks call it the "OBX". I saw those stupid OBX stickers everywhere I went while I was down there and I have never really understood the fascination with the simple round colorless sticker with only 3 letters. I'll admit I stared at them for years wondering what the heck "OBX" meant, never asking anyone for fear of being made fun of. It seemed like everyone was picking up on the ultra cool simplicity of the cheap sticker. One of my old room mates in college one day showed up with a similar sticker but with a JS instead. I stared at it for a couple of weeks and I finally gave up on trying to figure it out so I asked him what it meant. "Jamaican Sports"... okay he wasn't on the bobsled team as far as I knew so I knew he was a wanna be from that day on.
Anyway back to my beach trip, I promise not to bore you with any goofy stories about sunsets or Jimmy Buffets songs (I hate Jimmy Buffet) but I do have a funny story or two.
I've seen many folks camped out in our WalMart parking lot over night and I've heard WalMart welcomes RVer's so instead of wasting a whole Saturday on the road we left Fri night drove to the other side of Raleigh and crashed in a WalMart parking lot. I slept just fine but Melinda didn't do so well, she was worried we were going to get robbed. It was a nice WalMart, we even had a nice little campsite with a good grassy spot for the dogs to crap in.

When we did arrive @ the "OBX" we set up camp and headed through town to check things out and scope out the beaches. As we approached the end of town which is small we came across a dirt road that was beach access for cars. Actually 4x4 only, I'm really not a fan of driving on the beach but my interest was sparked and I've never really done much four wheeling in my truck so I decided what the hay. A quick read of the warning signs gave a few tips and off we went. As I crossed over the dune and down onto the beach the sand became very soft and deep. I made it maybe 20 feet and I realized I was loosing momentum whether I liked it or not. I tried 4 low but it was no help, I tried to back up but that didn't work either. I was just digging myself into a hole. Luckily I had some pieces of wood that we use to level the ECO and I tried digging my tires out to see if I could get going again. Nothing, people were passing me in all types vehicles. I even got passed by a Honda Element with street tires. I knew I didn't have much experience in 4 wheeling but this was ridiculous and embarrassing. There was one thing I hadn't tried but it was my last and only option before I made the call for a tow truck. One of the recommendation on the sign was to lower your tire psi to 20 lbs, I did that along with placing wooden planks under each tire and I was finally able to pull out. Whew, saved from certain embarrassment!

The pics we took at the Outer Banks are the last ones I've taken in a couple of weeks, we managed to get our camera wet one day while lounging at the beach so until we spring for a new camera I'll have to excite my readers with my vocabulary.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

more Disc Burner?

Just when I thought they couldn't get better, the fine folks who put on the disc Burner went and did it again. Almost every race has photographers out on the course snapping pics and a few days later they're online for you to download usually at a hefty fee. I have always declined this even though they are nicely done but I usually have someone in my entourage documenting the event for me. Well when I received the usual post race email from the Disc Burner folks I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pics from the race were free to download! What's next? I can't wait till next year!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

paddling to work

Last Monday evening I finally made the trek to work via the Holston River in my kayak. I've put it off for many different reasons such as really cold dark morning and most recently the amount of water the dam just a few hundred yards up from our house has been releasing. Most of the entrance and exit points have been under water for a couple of weeks and the current has been so swift that the paddle home would have been impossible. After all our traveling was out of the way and the water level finally receded I decided to make my first attempt Monday afternoon. I left the house around 4:15, I normally leave @ 5:15 by car but I would rather have extra time left over just in case. From the time I walked out of the driveway until I locked up my boat and took a quick shower it was just about an hour so I was quite a bit early to work. I don't think most of the people I worked with actually thought I would go through with it because I got a few that didn't believe me even though they saw my boat sitting just outside the gate.
As the night wore on and I started getting tired I started having second thoughts about paddling back home but I knew if I called in Melinda to come get me I would never hear the end of it from my co-workers so I decided to stay the course. I knew once I got going I would be wide awake and probably end up having trouble falling asleep once I made it home.
As I gathered my things for my trip home I noticed all my co-workers still hanging around waiting to see me off and if I really was going to do this. I even got two offers for a ride home but I politely declined. Some admitted they were only waiting to see if I would fall in the water. One guy even asked how it was possible to make it back up stream with all the rough water. I said "what?" he then started to describe the conditions of a class 5 river with giant boulders. It was kind of sad when I realized how naive some people are about things and that probably the most contact they have with nature is mowing their yard.
The paddle home was pretty foggy and based on the markings of the rocks I could tell the river was almost 2 feet lower than it had been the previous evening. I decided that with the lower water level, limited visibility and the abundance of rocks near my original entry point I got out a couple hundred yards downstream and walked the rest of the way in via the fisherman's trail that runs along the bank. I had a feeling I was going to bottom out if I tried to make it all the way up and would end up turning around anyway.
Now the question is will I do it again, probably, but not on a regular basis. A 2 hour round trip on the river vs. a 6 min round trip in the car eats up a good portion of what's left of my day after working a 12 hr. shift. I did enjoy the time on the river, at 6am there is alot more wildlife to be seen as opposed to the rest of the day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Disc Burner recap

The Disc Burner 12 hours race is now officially one of my favorites and will be on my agenda for next year. It wasn't the race course that did it for me but more the folks who ran it. I decided last minute to do this one and even though I missed pre-registration the cost was still reasonable for what we got. The swag that was given out to racers was the best I've seen yet: Mountain Hardwear wicking T instead of the normal cotton T, a pair of Smartwool cycling socks, and a pint glass with the Disc Burner logo. Plus at 1:00 the 3 free kegs were tapped and the cool pint glasses were put to good use.

The race started out with the normal Lemans start and a double track climb that help break up the pack. I decided on the 6 hr race for this one so I ran a little quicker laps that I would for the 12 hour races. I've been trying out all the Edurolyte pills I've gotten free at various events and they really seemed to help me at the last 2 races I've done. I still felt fresh 4 hours into the race. Once my free stash runs out I just might actually throw down some $$ for a bottle of these things.

All of my laps went well without any mechanicals or bonking. After lap 4 I rolled in and checked up with Alan who informed me we only had time for one more before the 2:20 cut-off. I was kind of disappointed thinking it would be closer to 3. I knew I had 6 laps in me but 5 was alot better performance than my measly 3 @ Warriors Creek. Next time I'll pay better attention to the time and not spend so much time goofing off in the pits.
Lap 5 I started out with Alan and for some reason I felt really good, better than I had on lap 4. I picked up my pace knowing it was my last and decided to give it my all just in case I might pick up a spot or two. About half way through the lap I caught sight of an ETSU jersey. I had no idea who it was or if I was even racing against them but I decided to make it my goal to catch whoever it was. Over the course of a mile or two I reeled him in and passed him at the top of a climb. Working pretty hard I didn't get a good look at who it was but he didn't look familiar so I said nothing and just kept riding. I put a gap on the rider and found another carrot to chase. I passed the rider who had given up on climbing the hills but as soon as we started descending he was all over my rear tire so I moved over and let him pass, being too tired to worry about someone breathing down my neck. As soon as we approached another climb off the bike he went and started walking again. Once again I passed him on the climb only to find him all over my rear tire once we started descending. I knew this was going to get on my nerves so I decided to make him work for it if he wanted to pass me. He stayed there through the rest of the course until we reached the last section of fireroads where he finally did pass me and luckily for him there were no more climbs so I just let him go. I turned around to see if anyone else was coming and in all see sawing going on between me and the other rider the cat in the ESTU jersey had caught back up to me. All the hard riding I did to keep the hill walker behind me had left my legs cramping and it was all I had left in me to keep the ETSU rider behind me. During the final stretches of the course he really began to reel me in and I could feel him drafting me really close. The end of the course takes you through a couple of large fields with plenty of room to pass but he stayed behind me until the road crossing just before we entered the final field that contained the finish line. As we approached the road crossing I sensed him start to try and pass so I stood up stomped on the pedals with everything I had and pulled back ahead by a couple of inches as we entered the cone lined lane set up several yards before the finish line. The cone lined course arched to the right as it approached the finish line and I took the inside line leaving no room to pass except on the outside. We were both coming in very hot and all of the sudden out of the corner of my eye I see a blur of bike and blue jersey on my right and hear an oh sh*t! as the rider attempted to squeeze into the space between me and the cones failing miserably. He smashed hard into me taking both of us down. We were traveling so fast that when I came off my bike I hit the ground and rolled at least three times. I somehow managed roll back to my feet and grab my bike which was sliding on the grass behind me. I jumped up but quickly realized something was wrong because the handlebars would not turn right. I decided to run across the line with my bike in hand just ahead of my pursuer. As I ran across the line I shouted a few choice words to the ETSU rider. After I crossed I turned to face him and told him how unnecessary that was before I accessed the damage to me and my bike. He said nothing, crossed the line and walked off. As I walked back to the camper I couldn't help but think how familiar he looked once I looked at him face to face. When I reached the camper I told Melinda the story and she commented on how she had heard a crash and everyone who was spectating shout holy sh*t! I told her the rider was wearing an ETSU jersey and she told me who he was and I immediately felt bad for cussing him even though it was his fault.
Later that afternoon he approached me to apologize about the crash and I apologized as well for cussing him. I told him not to worry, I said it was just hard racing. I felt kinda like a NASCAR driver when someone crashes into his buddies car and he doesn't want to call him an idiot on national TV. "Aw,... we were just racing each other really hard." By then I had already checked the results and we were both indeed in the 6 hr race something I wasn't sure of but he was a lap up on me. When I told him that he said he was chasing the guy in front of us who I had previously been see sawing with but by the time the ETSU rider had caught me the other guy was long gone and out of sight. Hmmm.......
photo cred: Scooby's Snacks