Thursday, July 30, 2009

Raccoon Mountain

Tuesday I woke up early checked the weather radar for Chattanooga and calculated the time we had to ride at Raccoon Mountain before the thunderstorms hit. According to we had until 5pm which left Melinda and I plenty of time to drive down and ride everything. The drive down was nice and sunny and all was going well until we hit Chattanooga and a traffic jam. I should have took it as a bad sign but I like to try and think positive so we pushed on with beautiful sunny skies not knowing what was lurking on the other side of the mountain out of our view. As we drove up the mountain and located the trailhead I couldn't help but think of how great this ride was going to be especially after we just drove close to 4 hours to get there.
We unloaded the bikes and I took a couple of pics of the awesome view of the city below.

After talking to the locals about the trailmap that was dated 2007 we scouted out a good route and got geared up.
After all the trailside work at Dupont to Melinda's ancient mechanical brakes I swore I would upgrade her to some hydros. Well she looked around but could not decide on what color she wanted so here we were again adjusting her mech. brakes again at the trailhead, this time it went a little quicker so I must be getting better at it. After all the necessary repairs were made we saddled up and then it hit.

BOOM, thunder! WTF! Where did that come from?

All we could see were sunny skies but the sound came from the other side of the mountain. We never saw it coming until it was right on top of us. I made a few calls to friends and family trying figure out how long it would last hoping it was a small pop-up that would pass quickly. It was but several popped up after that and after sitting in the car for an hour we gave up and headed toward town. I must have taken the bikes off the car 3 times thinking it was done only for it to start again.
We settled for lunch at Taco Mac's, a little Tex Mex joint with awesome wings and an even better beer selection. We decided we couldn't just drive home without doing anything so we decided to hit the Aquarium.

It wasn't a total loss but we both agreed that blurry trees and rocks are much more fun to look at than some fish behind 4 inches of glass.

Monday, July 27, 2009

sad day

It was a sad day yesterday, the Tour De France ended and for the first time I actually watched almost every stage. I didn't watch every minute of every stage but I caught the highlights and kept up with all of the action. I can't believe I missed so much back when Lance was in his prime but I guess I'll just have to settle for the flashback moments. Melinda actually kept up with the Tour more than I did but she also hasn't worked in almost 2 months. This weekend she was at a conference in Gatlinburg for work and she and several of her co-workers went out for dinner and she had the bartender switch the TV over to the Tour while they were there. I would have loved to see the look on all the other ladies faces when she made that request. She said they were a bit confused by her interest in it.
Although Lance didn't win I feel he still rode amazingly for the age difference between him and the other riders and his time away from the sport. I can't wait to see what happens next year when he has his own team and there is no question of who the leader will be. I was really surprised when he announced Radio Shack is going to be the sponsor, I haven't seen a Radio Shack in a long time.
I am excited to see what happens at the Leadville 100 next month, I heard a Rumor that Lance and Landis will be in attendance to challenge Weins for the title. That should be a good race!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A night on the trails with the kids

Yesterday Melinda left town on a business trip so instead of laying around the house watching TV when I got off work I loaded up the dogs and my bike and headed to our local trailhead. Moonshine and Jackson have a tendency to bark at every little noise when one of us is away driving the other crazy and with their lack of exercise lately I knew I needed to get them out on the trails or I might be jolted from my sleep multiple times during the night by excited dogs thinking they just heard their Momma coming home. We got to Warriors a place I haven't ridden much lately so it felt almost like I was riding new trails. The dogs just accompanied me on the first trail which drops down to the lake. A water feature is always necessary for Moonshine and Jackson for a drink and a swim. Once we were done I loaded them up in the back of truck, under shade of course with plenty of water. Don't worry it was late in the evening the windows were open and the air was cool so no animals were harmed in this adventure. With the kids settled in I headed back out for some more singletrack action. With the rain we have had this year the trails were in good condition and not too dusty. I did run across a couple of new reroutes that the clan of rouge trailbuilders have illegally constructed. I also saw some added rocks here and there where someone couldn't handle the intensity of the original rock garden and thought they might make the feature easier. I hate it when people try to make rock features easier, it usually doesn't work and ruins the correct line that is ridable if they would just suck it up and learn to ride it rather than take the wussy way out. At one point I found myself taking an illegal reroute on accident because so many people have ridden it it looked more original the the correct route but the exit actually slowed me down and left me wondering what the point of that was. If only we could find a way to harness the energy of these rouge trailbuilders and get them to come out to a workday we could show them the correct way to build a trail and then they might become an asset rather than a nuisance.
It felt good to get out and cleanse my mind and nothing does it better than singletrack goodness. As I loaded up the truck I was pondering what to do with the rest of my evening. Jackson must have read my mind because he made an excellent suggestion to head over to the Libation Station and stock up on some good craft beer that can't be found in my local grocery stores. The Libation Station is a bit of a drive for me so I don't frequent it often but it's well worth the drive because I have yet to find a better selection. It's probably a good thing I don't live any closer because it's like walking into beer heaven, I always spend too much money. It's hard to decide on just one thing, the LS has so many beers that I have yet to sample I always come out with 2 or 3 six packs.

My selection of choice tonight, the Fort Collins "Brewers Lunchbox" a twelve pack assortment of goodies. Also one of mine and Melinda's favorites from our local brewery the "Roundabout Rye Stout" from Depot Street. I always gotta support the local guys when I can.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dead Possums and Tofurkey

Last Sat we started the day off right with the Dead Possum Ride. The weather was perfect and Melinda finally got on her road bike for the first and probably last time this year. She almost backed out on me at the last minute when she went to put water bottles on her bike only to find there were no cages, she said it was a sign that she shouldn't ride. I had needed some cages sometime last year and borrowed them forgetting to put them back on. I quickly grabbed my allen wrenches and went to work before she could change back into her pj's.

We arrived at the school to find a packed parking lot but no one we knew. In true slacker fashion most of my friends showed up 5 minutes late including the ride organizer Alan who said he was out marking the course w/balloons but I think he was really at home sipping on his fu fu french vanilla carmel drink he calls coffee. Once the ride was finally underway we really had a good time. Some rode hard some took it easy and a few of us goofed off eating donuts, you know the breakfest fuel currently used at the Tour De France.

After the ride I fired up the grill for the second part of the DPR, the dog cook off and while I waited I decided it would be a bad to let the rest of the donuts go to waste.

Once the grill was hot I got down to business cooking beef dogs, pork dogs, turkey dogs, and some sort of greenish looking tofurkey dogs. I had to try the tofurkey dogs just because and I was sadly disappointed so I ate an all beef dog to make up for my poor decision.

Alan won't eat hot dogs so he tried to be cool and fool us all by eating a bun with mustard but not me, I caught him red handed.

Andy and Abby patiently awaiting the tofurkey dogs to cook.
If you missed the DPR this year I'm sorry for you, it was a great ride with good friends and food. Hopefully we'll make it happen again next year but I promise to stick to the real thing when choosing my bun filling.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Wicked Witch of the West meets Peter Frampton

With Melinda's Mom coming in town this last weekend and all the events on the calendar I didn't think I would get much physical activity in but surprisingly I did. After lunch Friday Melinda, her Mom and I headed over to the Greenbelt to ride/run. Melinda and I ran while her Mom rode Melinda's cruiser around like a giddy little school girl. I would have sworn she had never ridden a bike for fun the way she was giggling and squealing with delight. At first she stated that she didn't like bikes with gears, I thought this was odd at first but after some questioning I realized she just didn't understand how to shift. A quick run down in the parking lot and she was zipping around us pretending to be the wicked witch of the west from the Wizard of Oz. Remember the scene of her riding her bike in the tornado?

That evening we all headed downtown to Fun Fest for the Peter Frampton concert armed with funny beverages disguised as the normal redneck drink of choice. We fit right in without question.

The concert was ok, the music was good but I kept waiting for Mr. Frampton to really get down and jam but he didn't. I guess he's mellowed out a bit in his old age.

We did sneak up front and found a good spot to get a closer look at Peter and snap a few pictures. It wasn't that hard to make it up front since there were no mosh pits going on. Everyone one was just sitting around staring at the stage, I guess they were kind of bored like I was. I found it quite interesting to learn that the weight limit on the fold up camping chairs that you can purchase at every drug store, grocery store & Wal-Mart is stronger than the tag states. I saw alot of people pushing the weight limit and beyond of those $15 dollar camp chairs. I kept waiting for someone to come crashing to the ground but no one did. The only only excitement was the young couple behind me who got upset that I was blocking their view when I went up front to snap a picture. They kept fussing at me but I continued to block their view pretending not to hear them. It wasn't until the frustrated guy actually set his Mtn Dew down and got up to tap me on the shoulder when I finally acknowledged them. I said ok and continued to take a few more unnecessary photos just to aggravate them. When I finally turn to leave I apologized and told them I didn't realize this was a reserved section. I think the tone of my voice gave away my sarcasm but I walked away before he could respond. After I left another curious spectator walked up and took my place to snap a few photos as well and I could but help but laugh.

When I returned I found Melinda so bored that she had decided now was a good time to try meditation. Olga and Beth of course were really getting into the music singing and dancing.

As we were walking back to the car after the show I noticed a group of kids climbing up on top of the local fast food restaurant. I'm not sure if they thought the gigantic fries and hot dog were real but I thought it looked like a good photo opportunity. After the flash went off the kids scrambled thinking they were about to be arrested.
Sorry guys I didn't mean to spoil your fun.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

the DPR countdown continues

The weekend is almost upon us and I am ready for it, work has been sucking lately. Not so much the job itself more like the people I work with. Having no children and no real ties to the tri-cities it's weeks like the last couple that make me ponder moving somewhere else. There are so many cool places I would like to live. Maybe I just need a good long ride in the woods to clear my head, something I've not done in a while.

Melinda's Mom rolled into town today which means anything can happen this weekend and it definitely won't be boring. I've already missed out on some excitement while away at work. Melinda, her Mom and Aunt went to Bays Mountain tonight for the Moonlight Hike that's put on by the staff during Fun Fest. I received live updates from Melinda throughout the hike via text message. Melinda wasn't too excited about the hike due to the large number of families, kids and rednecks that Fun Fest events tend to draw out of the sticks. It never fails whenever a large crowd of weirdos gather they seem to flock to Melinda. Some guy evidently decided he was Melinda's new best friend and tried his best to butt into her conversation but she ignored him as if he wasn't there. I think the poor guy just couldn't get the hint and without Melinda's permission snapped her picture before she knew what happened. I'm kinda surprised she didn't slap the camera out of his hand or knock out his front teeth, I guess she's getting soft in her old age.

In the local news a cyclist was hit by a Comcast Cable truck, the story says he was trying to avoid an oncoming car that was straddling the yellow line and had no other choice but to hit the cyclist. I guess his brakes were out and stopping was not an option. He was probably late to install HD cable service for some couch potato so they could stay inside all weekend and not have to worry about going outside and getting all sweaty. One rumor going around was that he was playing with his cell phone, probably the real story. So much for the 3 Foot Law we have here in TN. Every time Melinda hears about stories like this she threatens to sell the road bikes.

I'm actually going to get my road bike out this weekend for the 1st Annual Dead Possum Ride Sat morning, I'm excited but I have a feeling Melinda is going to bail on me, she has already stated that she is not going but we'll see.

1 more day left until the DEAD POSSUM RIDE!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

countdown to the DPR

2 Days left till the DEAD POSSUM RIDE!
Are you ready?
Are you coming?
I feel sorry for you if you miss it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

running & riding Fun Fest style

Fun Fest week has officially kicked off in Kingsport, actually it kicked off last weekend but most of the events I planned on doing are over now. Last Sat. night I entered the Crazy 8's 8k run for the 4th time. I had a goal in mind to try and keep my buddy Chris Dillow in sight for as long as possible. He's alot faster runner than me but he's been claiming not to have been running much this year. After Sat night's race I know he was lying. I lined up right behind Chris in the mix of 1700+ runners and kept him in sight for almost the first mile. With that many runners around us it was tough to keep a good pace and you really have to pay attention to the others around you or you could go down and get trampled. I almost witnessed this first hand when a kid near me tripped but luckily for him a guy behind him grabbed him by the back of his shirt picked him up legs and arms dangling and ran with him until he righted himself. Chris's pace was faster than I knew I could handle but I pushed on hoping he would slow after the crowd thinned out. As we ran along the 2nd street I had to cut right and hop onto the sidewalk due to slower runners in front of me. Chris must have done the same but went left because I never saw him again. I decided then to find a good pace for myself fire up my Ipod and finish as strong as I could. As we came through the halfway point the leaders (Kenyans) are usually finishing and you can see them entering the stadium. I watched as we passed each other and it wasn't until the 11th runner that I saw someone from this country and I doubt he was from the tri-cities.

Lining up at the start

Sara Reed, Chris Dillow & I before the race.

The finish line inside J. Fred Johnson stadium

Yesterday afternoon I entered the Bays Mountain Mountain Bike Rally, a race that's been going on longer than I've lived in the tri-cities put on by our local bike shop Larry's Cycles. Even though the course consists of all gravel roads the competitive side of it still makes it fun. There is not much in the way of flat terrain at Bays Mountain so some of the roads have eroded pretty bad during heavy rains. One section in particular is a steep downhill that is rutted out so bad there are no good lines and I'm surprised the section has not been eliminated from the course due to safety. At one point during the descent I thought I was going down when I tried to take a line too fast, the gravel was deep causing my rear wheel to slide around sideways. I manged to steer my bike out of the gravel and off the road in order to slow down. By the time I reached the bottom my arms were shaking from all the bumps and hard braking. After the race we learned that someone did take a spill on the firetower descent and broke their arm. Maybe next year they organizers will see the danger in this and change the course.

Gearing up to ride.

Lining up to race.

Mike and I duking it out at the halfway point

Earlier in the year it was rumored that the new Chiquapin Trail that we built was going to actually be added to the course to make this mountain bike race actually feel like a mountain bike race. Well it didn't happen but they did announce it will be added next year. With all the great singletrack at Bays Mountain I'm surprised the majority of the course is not singletrack.
I'm looking forward to this weekend, the 1st Annual Dead Possum Ride kicks of Saturday morning with tailgate grilling afterwards and a backyard skills party that evening. Bikes, grillin', beers and more bikes, what's not to like about that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

gettin' crazy in the dark

Tonight at 9:58 I will be lining up on Ft. Henry Drive in front of the stadium for one of the biggest running events in the tri-cities, the Fun Fest Crazy 8's. It's an 8k road run that does a figure 8 around town in the dark. Some of the course passes through neighborhoods where the folks who live there light up the street with luminaries, spray the runners down with water, blast music and pretty much turn it into a block party. Probably one of the funniest races I've ever attended mostly because it's at night vs. the early a.m. and the streets are lined with spectators cheering you on. The race really draws a crowd from all over the world especially Kenya. The course holds the record for the world's fastest 8k which has been broken a couple times since I've began running it. I'm tempted to run with my camera in hand to capture some of the race action. Last year I missed out on the run due to a back injury but this year I will be in attendance. My goal is to keep my buddy Chris Dillow in sight for as long as possible. He's a pretty fast runner and if by some crazy chance I can keep up with out bonking I should pull off a pretty good time. I don't expect that this will really happen due to my lack of training but I plan to give it my best shot. Normally I do a 40 mile bike race the morning of but this year I decided to skip the Tour De Possum Creek because of it's re-organization so I should have fresh legs.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Just got off the phone with Charter Communications, a company I have come to hate. I do subscribe to their cable and internet service but only because they are my only choice. Technically I could go the satellite route but it would be more of a hassle. Charter has begun calling me about twice a month now trying to sell me the home phone service something Melinda and I have not had in a little over 6 years when we realized we could get by with 2 cell phones. I have become used to the telemarketers now and I know exactly what they're selling before they begin. The last time I told the lady before she could begin I wasn't interested in their phone service then there was a pause, probably a little surprise on her end about my remark. She stumbled on her words a minute and then continued with her sell. I waited about 10 seconds, realized she was ignoring my comment and then hung up. As I was logging on the computer to blog about my day yesterday that really didn't amount to much in the way of physical activity my phone rang.

The Conversation:

C.C. - "May I speak to Mr. Carr?"

Me - "This is he."

C.C. - "Hello Mr. Carr, this is April from Charter Communications. I just want to let you know that this conversation my be recorded for quality purposes"

Me - "Hello April, I just wanted to let you know that I'm not interested in your telephone service."

C.C. - pause...... uh um...... "Well.. it can save you more money than your current.... "

Me - "I do not have a home phone."

C.C. - "OK.... well thank for your....... "

Me - the sound of my phone snapping shut

I'm getting better and actually starting to have fun with these people. Next month maybe I'll come up with something funny to say and really make them stutter.

Anyway my day yesterday was looking like it would be fun on Wed in Knoxville. We were driving in for a funeral for my brother in-law's father and to cheer up a sad day Melinda and I decided to make the most of our trip and take our bikes and hit the trails at Haw Ridge before heading home to do some kayaking on Boone Lake. Our plan was to meet up with Alan, Angie & some paddling group we've never met that evening, kayak to the local marina for dinner and a beer then head back across the lake in the dark.
Melinda did the math in her head and told me we would be cutting it too short to get both activities in. I argued with her a little but she talked some sense into me and since we had already committed to the paddle with friends we decided to leave the bikes at home. Bad move, we got home had a snack and laid down for a quick power nap only to be awoken with the crash of thunder, then came the flooding rain and hail. The storms passed after about an hour but left us doubting anyone would show up. I loaded up the boats with hope in my mind but after repeated failed attempts to reach Alan I had a bad feeling we were about to get stood up. As we rolled into JC Alan finally called having forgot his phone while at work and let me know he wasn't going to make it (not his fault). We proceeded on to the lake but no one was to be found. Not wanting to paddle in the dark alone unsure about our route Melinda and I decided to head to Cootie Brown's for pizza, the only highlight of our day. The lesson we learned here, always take the bikes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Short Track Racing and the AKS Nation

Wednesday night short track racing has been going on in the hay fields of the ETSU campus for a a few weeks now but I've yet to make an appearance until tonight. I wasn't sure what to expect other than to get my ass handed to me especially after running an 8k this afternoon in the heat of the day with a sprained back muscle. What is it with me and pulled back muscles?
The crew was bigger than I thought but most of the local heavy hitters pulled a no show so my first experience proved to be more fun than I thought. After a few warm up laps complete with enough heckling to run off any newbies we paid our measly $1 entry fee and lined up in front of the curly headed kid who was running the show. He laughed when I paid all in quarters but I don't know if it was a good laugh or a laugh that said "what a jerk" but hey a dollar is a dollar, right?
The AKS Nation was spouting off here and there earlier this week on my local mtb forum even stating that there would be a full on showing at Wed. night short track, I called his bluff but he proved me wrong showing up with the prettiest Santa Cruz Chameleon I've seen in a while. Spec'd out all in black, even Dale Earnhardt would have been proud. Speaking of NASCAR, two things that go hand in hand here in the south, short track racing and yer alcohol in a tall boy can. We had short track racing and the alcohol in a can was the trophy to the winner. I don't think the rednecks would have approved of the camo purple can of ghetto juice the curly headed kid handed over to the winner but it would have fit in downtown for sure.
The race: I wasn't sure about half the racers having never ridden with most so I figured I'd get up front early and see what happened, it was only 20 minutes, surely I can hang on with out puking or falling over. I took off the line in 4th place and held it until the guy in front of me stalled at the first jump and Alan passed me like his ass was on fire. I passed the stalled rider and hopped on Alan's wheel trying my best to keep him close. After a couple of laps he started to pull away which really didn't bother me too bad because we were already starting to lap some of the other riders. The longer we rode the farther Alan pulled away from me. Luckily Mike Thomas the local cult hero/bike collector was there on hand spewing foul language at me every time I passed to keep me laughing. When I thought all was lost and Alan was outta sight I came around the corner and found him pushing his bike off the course with a mechanical. I asked him if all was ok and he said yes so I continued on now in 3rd looking over my shoulder hoping no one was coming to challenge me. None did and I finished in my secured spot even though I was lapped by 1st and 2nd. Like I said before most of the normal heavy hitters didn't show so I got lucky tonight with 3rd. It's not often I get a decent finish so I'll take it but it'll be another week or two before I make my return due to work conflicts.
No there were no chicken bones or beer cans flying from the stands but this isn't NASCAR short track racing, it's just a few college kids trying to raise a few bucks for there mtn bike team at a college that only cares about stick and ball sports that are more main stream but it was definitely by far the most fun I've ever had at a college sporting event.

On a more positive note it's been brought to my attention by some of my blogger fans that I'm being to negative lately so I just want to wish everyone a wonderful day tomorrow and may your day be full of sunshine and waist thinning cheeseburgers.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dupont vacation (photo essay)

Here are a few pics from our most recent trip to Dupont State Forest.

I ended up working on Melinda's brakes (Mech. disc) about three times over the course of the week before finally giving up on them. I finally talked her into up grading to a set of the new white Avid Juicy's out right now. No more caliper/pad adjustments on the trail!

Cooking burgers over the fire, old school style!

The top of Bridal Falls

Cedar Mtn., East Coast Slick rock or as close as we can get to slick rock.

Andy and Abby joined us for a day of riding but most everyone else bailed.

We scored a new rug this year for the camper that works really good outdoors, the dirt passes right through it and the dogs thought it was comfy. I thought it resembled a dance club with the fancy new lights Melinda found on sale.

My new lucky horse shoe I found out on the trails, I've yet to find a good place to mount it.

My folks joined us on this trip and as usual my Dad found a good place to take a nap.

The famous river crossing that has seen many fall into while trying to cross, myself included but not this time. Melinda managed to fall twice but I wasn't able to capture either moment on film. One time she slipped and fell on her own, the second time Jackson slipped and fell into her taking both of them for a swim.

This is how I spent most of my night sitting by the fire with Melinda sipping a cold one.

camp, we had it rough

Saturday, July 4, 2009


As usual I have 7 days off every month and since Melinda has been out for the summer we have been camping the last 2 months in a row and it looks as if we may go again the next go around. Last week we headed down to Dupont State Forest and camped for about 6 days. As always the riding was excellent, Dupont never fails to disappoint me. The trails there offer some magnificent views and some take you right to the base of some really cool waterfalls. I was sad to come home and go back to work but I guess it's what I have to do in order to support my riding habit.
I was surprised to find out how many famous people died in the past 2 weeks. Farrah Faucet, Michael Jackson, Ed McMann, Billy Mays, and today Steve McNair. What's up with all of that?
Some fun times coming up in the next few weeks, Fun Fest kicks off next weekend. Fun Fest is a week long event here in Kingsport that's draws all the rednecks out of the woods. The only events I usually attend are the sporting events like the Tour De Possum Creek, the Crazy 8's 8k, and the Bays Mountain Rally. This year the TDC has separated itself from the Fun Fest event and I've decided to pass on it this year in favor of the MUCH cooler Dead Possum Ride put on by non other than my good buddy Scooby. I still plan on running the 8k and riding in the Bays Mtn rally both of which I had to sit and watch due to my back injury last year. I'm pretty pumped about the events this year. I do sometimes make it out to the big event on Sat night to people watch and for the fireworks but I think we'll miss it this year in favor of a backyard bike skills party some friends of our are throwing. Skills course, bikes and beer, hmm.... could be interesting.