Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wal-Mart makes a funny

I didn't know Wal-Mart made funny commercials, I heehawed at this one. Not really bike related but I thought it was worth sharing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

short and not really that sweet

I officially registered for the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek yesterday, just making it in the "early bird" time frame saving myself a ton of $$$. If your thinking about going you had better think quick the entry fee goes up $10 every month reaching $70 the day of the race.
Yesterday I entertained the idea of racing the Icycle this coming weekend but with the nasty weather we've had lately and the fact that it's constantly changing from semi nasty to really nasty has me wondering if there is a chance that this race would actually be fun. I've only ridden once this year so I know being competitive is out the window not that I'm actually ever in contention for the podium anyway. Pay $35 to drive down and back to Fontana to race a semi fun course no doubt ably in the mud..... I'll think about it.
More and more I find it harder & harder to attend a race that is more than an hour and a half drive, has an entry fee of more than $20 and offers little more than an hour of racing fun. Take the SERC series for example, a race series that requires you to travel all over the southeast to race against people who take racing way too seriously or think they will one day be paid to do so. They obviously pay big $$$ not just in race fees but gas, food, and lodging all for what? The chance to stand on a plywood box and receive a gold painted trophy or a check that won't even cover half the money they paid to get there? If I'm going to travel a couple of hours to pay to race my bike I'm going to make a mini vacation out of it. Camping at a nice campground, riding for at least 6 hrs, riding with Melinda at the local trails sometime during the weekend and enjoying a good campfire and cookout with our close friends. I'll save the day trips for all day excursions to ride trails for free with Melinda and friends concluded with a frosty beverage at the local mexican or pizza joint. Now that's my idea of a good time.

Sorry for the rant, I think I'm just really past due for a long ride.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

a tale of two flat brothers

Late in 2009 I posted an update on the where abouts of Flat Stanley and how he was coming along since the washing machine incident. Originally I thought he was going to be returning soon after our conversation but he evidently met some girl at the spa he was at. She was a part time employee who recently moved back home to Pennsylvania. After her departure Flat travel down south to Texas where he met up with his twin brother Bart. Flat told Bart all about his travels and his adventures in TN. When Bart learned that Flat had plans to return to TN he decided to join him and see what all the hype was about.

Melinda and I had no idea the two of them were coming and in typical Flat Stanley style they just showed up on our doorstep unannounced. Of course we welcomed them in and unlike Flat, Bart Stanley is much more courteous. At first we didn't recognize Flat as his appearance had changed somewhat. He decided he liked Bart's blond hair but instead of going to a professional hair stylist he stopped at the local RX and picked up a cheap bottle of the do-it-yourself stuff. Being his first time ever he got the mix a little watered down and his hair went from brown to orange. Bart talked him into keeping the orange look so people could tell them apart and partly because he didn't want Flat's rowdy ways to ruin his reputation.
After a few days of riding bikes and drinking all of our beer Flat announced that he was going to head toward PA. in search of his girl. He really wasn't sure exactly where she lived but he did remember her talking about Amish people and not being able to buy beer in a convenience store. I told him that Melinda's brother Dustin lived in a town just like that, Amish people, weird beer laws and everything.

It just so happened that Melinda was mailing a box full of birthday presents to Dustin and there was a little bit of room leftover for the Flat one to stow away in.
It only took a couple of days for Flat to reach his destination and Dustin said he was cool with letting Flat crash for a while since he really didn't take up much room. I told Dustin that Flat had a tendency to be messy and lay around drinking alot of beer but he was cool with that. Living in a small town gets kinda boring and Dustin said he could use the entertainment. Maybe, just maybe having Flat Stanley around will spark something inside Dustin and get him to write something on his blog. Who starts a blog and only writes 1 post anyway?

Bart decided against going to PA since it snows alot more there, he's really fired up about the cycling scene here. We told him he was welcome to stay as long as he wanted.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

something a little different

What do you do when the dogs are restless, the trails are too muddy to ride and there's no time for a decent road ride? Grab the dogs, load em' up in the truck and head to the trails with your most rugged running shoes. The only real chance we've had to ride the trails in the past few weeks was when the trails were covered in snow other than that they have been a wet muddy mess. I for one am against riding the trails when they are this saturated, it's really not that fun and the trails really take a beating. Melinda appreciates it as well since that means less mud being tracked through the house via bike tires.
Yesterday I really wanted to get out on my road bike since another soaking rain was just around the corner but time restraints decided otherwise. As I headed out the door I grabbed the Hero cam to get a little different perspective plus it made the run and the blog a bit more interesting. After watching some of the videos on the Go Pro site I decided there are other ways to make entertaining videos rather than just having a camera attached to my bike's handlebars.
I hope you enjoy I know the dogs and I did. Look for more videos in the future as I try and branch out with different video entertainment.

Trail run with the dogs (Boneyard) from Greg Carr on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

going pro

I was browsing the Go Pro site last night and I was checking out the new HD hero cams, pretty sick! Something about a downhill video filmed at a mountain bike resort makes the video just a bit more interesting. It probably helps that they are professional riders too. I could never pull off jumps like that.

I do need me one of these for a new angle, after watching the videos on the Go Pro site I realized what a cool prospective that give. Hmm... might just have to talk this over with my team manager/accountant.
Check it out here for yourself, you'll see what I mean.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

angry faces and cold places

My first ride of 2010 was great and surprisingly on the road, something I saw very little of in 2009. Earlier that day I was resetting all of my computers on my bikes for the year and I'm embarrassed to say that my road bike saw only a bit over 200 miles for the year. That's waaay down from the previous years. I didn't bother adding up the numbers from the rest of my bikes to see where I stood mileage wise for the year or on the trail as 2009 was not good for me in the way of functioning cycle computers. I think I had 2 bite the dust and I accidentally reset one during a lap @ the 12 Hours of Tsali, so there was really no point. Maybe it's time to quit buying the cheapest ones out there or just give up on trying to keep track at all.
Back to the first ride of 2010, Alan had scheduled an ETSU training ride for the team and invited a couple of us along so I said what the heck. The weather had done a complete 180 and the trails were too wet from all the snow to ride. I showed up @ Knight's figuring a groups of kids would be there waiting ready to ride but I only saw the Hillbilly Hotel with my future bike attached to it. After a bit of chatting a few others showed but not a single ETSU rider, so much for the first team ride of the year. I have a feeling Alan's gonna have a rough time trying to turn a buch of young gravity kids into part-time roadies.
The plan was to ride at a leisurely pace on the TNR route but skip Buffalo mountain due to the threat of ice & snow on the road. I had no problem with this I didn't think my legs were up for the climb anyway.
I strapped on the Hero cam for some much needed road footage and off we went. As we cruised out of town I was surprised at the amount of snow still lingering in the farmlands. The sun was out so staying warm was not really an issue. I felt pretty good for my first ride but could tell that my time off the bike has taken a toll on my endurance and legs. At one point I went to downshift only to realize I was already in granny, Ouch.
As we made our way around the route we crossed the Nolochucky river and I noticed a good portion of it was frozen over. That's a pretty rare sight here in East TN. A few more turns and we were cruising along side of the river and we found several large areas that had completely frozen over.
As the ride looped around the base of Buffalo I overheard some chatter back and forth amongst our crew about whether or not to go ahead and cross Buffalo. I heard nothing but a few folks say "I don't care either way" and I immediately knew we were gonna climb it. I really didn't want to do the climb but I wasn't about to speak up against it because I knew deep down inside I would be glad I did once I reached the top. I was just feeling lazy and needed to be pushed. Sure enough, without a vote we all turned right at the base as if some giant magnet inside the mountain pulled us to it. Buffalo is not a huge climb by any means and I've climbed alot worse but mentally I wasn't prepared for it and I didn't really think I was physically either.
I decided to just ride easy take my time and cruise up trying to stay comfortable and surprisingly I felt better than some of the previous times I had climbed it during the summer months.
On the way up as my blood really got pumping all the layers I was wearing really started to get me sweating. I had a feeling descending down the other side was gonna be cold especially if I was covered in sweat. I unzipped my jacket and opened up my jerseys and that seemed to help but I still froze coming down the other side. As we descended Alan decided he was better off sitting straight up on his saddle and crossing his arms around his core to keep it warm taking on the frigid wind. I couldn't have agreed with him more, I hit the brakes, ducked in behind him and made myself as small as possible. I swear it felt 2 or 3 degrees warmer behind my human windbreaker. AC tried the mean face approach as we sped downhill. He mumbled something about getting angry at the cold might scare it away but I don't think it worked out too well for him. I'm not sure if he really thought it would work or if he was just trying to be funny but he stuck with his game plan the whole way down. Maybe I should get Moonshine to show him how a mean face is really supposed to look.
As we cruised into town and back to Knight's I realized that my Hero cam had frozen up and the batteries were shot once again. I knew I had gotten some footage but I wasn't sure how long the batteries actually lasted. Once I got home and reviewed the footage I realized that a road bike video just doesn't have the excitement level as trail footage. There is just something about being in a paceline with a bunch of guys that just ruins a good bike video. No one wants to watch another man's ass as he pedals in front of you. You see, the camera was mounted to my handle bar, alot lower than eye level. I'll probably try it again later in the summer maybe when things get more dicey as the pace picks up and folks start getting racier.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

dark & dirty secrets

Tuesday I mentioned that Melinda and I spent a good amount of time in our basement over the past weekend unclogging pipes and watching the heat pump guys take all of our money. The basement is a place that scares Melinda mainly because of her fears of spiders and all things creepy crawly. Actually there are not many spiders just a few of those blind crickets in the summer months, you know the ones that instead of hopping away from you they hop towards you, or as Melinda says, "they chase me!" Being that our basement scares her she refuses to go down there and because of this, this area for the past 6 years has been the most unorganized space in our house. If you wander around upstairs you will noticed everything has a place, basket or label, all courtesy of Melinda and her very organized ways. Every once in a while she will quiz me about the status of the basement and the condition of her belongings that are stored down there. I knew one day the time would come when she would face her fears and venture down into the depths of hell and realize the mess I have let get out of hand for some time.
About once a year I go down and clean, throw away and semi organize but over the course of the year it eventually returns to a disaster. Our basement is not a place that really appeals to me as a place where I would do much work. The two entrances are difficult to maneuver down with anything remotely large. It's dark, cramped and there is only one electrical outlet and it's on the ceiling. Alot of my non bike riding family and friends question why I don't turn this space into a bike shop. I have a good answer for that, again it's dark, cramped and hard to take bikes in and out of. My bikes are my prized possessions and to store them down in the basement out of sight would be like a bad parent locking their kids in the basement and I don't want the bike police to come and arrest me for bicycle abuse.
That day that I have been dreading finally came this weekend and as soon as all the necessary repairs were done Melinda cracked the whip and the process of cleaning/organizing our basement began.

I didn't take any before pics but imagine so much clutter you could not walk a straight line for more that 1 ft. Turning on the light was only possible with the aid of a flashlight, good coordination and high stepping feet. Actually the work is not complete, I still have one very large bag of trash to remove and a pile of cinder blocks to relocate. That bag of trash is a very small part of the load that filled the back of my truck and made it's way to the landfill yesterday.
Before Melinda's intervention there were no shelving units or pegboards. The liquor bottles, well that's another story. Martini anyone? I do store some bike parts down there but mostly parts that are no longer in use but still in good working order ready & willing in case they are ever called back into service. As I dug through the used bike parts bin I realized I have almost everything needed to build another bike except for a frame and wheelset. The wheels are turning.

This area really didn't see much action as most everything here is stored in a plastic bin. Camping gear and Christmas decor from the floor to the very short ceiling. I did install the shelving unit to the left of the staircase so Melinda can store all of her gardening supplies and access them without actually going all the way downstairs and stepping onto the floor.

This is the most interesting and most questioned place of our house, more stories and tours take place here than any other place in the house. What is it? I'm sure I've discussed it in length here before and many of you have actually ventured here during a party of some sort. This is the entrance to the bomb shelter. The entrance is actually a hallway that requires ducking your head walking in a slightly turned position and a 90 degree turn to enter. I'm not sure how effective it would actually be in the event of an attack but I did confirm with the original owner that it is indeed a bomb shelter built during the Cold War. As of now it's only used to store small items that will fit through the hallway but I suppose we could live down there for a while if needed.
I hope today we see warmer temps and sunny skies as I plan to dust of my road bike and venture out onto the pavement in search of some two wheeled freedom.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

dead batteries again

Dead batteries have once again plagued me and foiled my plans to entertain you with some really fantastic video footage of Melinda and I riding the famous snow covered trails of Warriors Path State Park. Two measly little AAA batteries are all it takes to run the Hero cam, two charged AAA batteries that is. I have a whole bag of rechargeable NiMH batteries that I keep on hand in the chance that I happen to have a good filming opportunity. I have a special bag that I keep all the charged batteries in so they don't get mixed up with the non-charged batteries just so things like this won't happen. So how did this mix up happen you ask? That's a good question and as soon as I get done typing I plan to check the rest of the batteries in the bag to see if they are dead as well. I swear I charged them all the last time I had them out.
Being that the Hero cam only requires 2 AAA batteries I did a quick inventory of the various flashlights I keep stashed in my truck for seeing in the dark and I came up with 5 more dead batteries. I guess the c-c-c-cold temperatures zapped all the life out of my emergency flashlights and such. I guess it's time for me to do some much needed battery replacement.
Hero cam or no Hero cam, Melinda the dogs and I hit the trails anyway. The trails were in great shape and the scenery was fantastic. I dropped the psi in our tires a few lbs. and we managed to stay right side up the whole time with little or no slippage. I did get a bit squirrely in one turn when I really let it rip as my curiosity was peaked on how fast I could go on snow with out losing it. My Bontrager Jones tires performed great and the new components worked flawlessly as well. It was not really a long ride of epic proportions but it was just enough to keep me satisfied for the time being.
I apologize for the build up of a video but I'm sure you can find some other fool with a blog, camera and fresh batteries out there for your viewing pleasure. Rumor has it there may be a road ride going down on Thursday as the temperatures may reach into the lower 50's. If this is indeed the truth I might just have to break out the Masi and head over to JC in search of a dog named Scooby.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

gettin' dirty & spendin' $$$

It's official, well halfway official. I scored Melinda and I a spot at Bandit's Roost campground for the 2nd annual 6 Hours of Warrior's Creek. Now all I have to do is register for the race which I plan to do on the next payday. Some unusual circumstances occurred this past weekend that took a chunk out of my paycheck so I decided to split the cost of the race/camping fees across two paychecks. I don't think the race will reach it's cap of 300 before the end of January but if for some crazy reason it does, I'll ghost ride it.
What unusual circumstances occurred this weekend you ask? Last Wednesday night Melinda and I started noticing a rather unusual smell coming from one end of the house. After a bit of searching we discovered about an inch of brown water in our extra bathroom tub. Not good, as I pondered on where it came from and what it was I noticed food particles. I did a bit of research and discovered that a rather large amount of food have been run down the disposal earlier that day. I don't think that was the main cause of our problem but just the icing on the cake of a problem that had been building for some time. It was late in the evening so I tried a jug of Draino first and let it set overnight hoping it would solve my problem.
The next morning before I left for work I checked on my progress with the draino only to find it had not worked. I was due at work in twenty minutes so I shut the door told Melinda and decided it could wait until I got home that evening.
Some time that afternoon I got a call from Melinda letting me know that our heat pump had just given up the fight. Great, why do these things always happen at the worst possible time? Frigid record setting temps and a nasty clogged set of pipes, looks like a great way to start the weekend. I called the heat pump guy in and in less than an hour and a couple hundred dollars later we had heat again.
It wasn't until Friday until I could get back to the drain problem. I tried several different ways to unclog the pipes but it wasn't until Saturday evening with the help of Melinda's uncle Joe and a rented motorized drain snake that we were able to get the pipes clear. That had to be the nastiest, stinkiest mess I have ever dealt with. I would never make it as a plumber, it's bad enough dealing with your own sewage but someone else's would be unthinkable. I don't even want to think about what I got on my hands but I know it wasn't good. Alot of towels and a good pair of gloves got thrown away that evening.
Today I hope to break my non riding streak and get out and hit the snow covered trails. I haven't kept track of how long it's been since I've ridden my bike because I don't want to think about it. Maybe I'll shoot a bit of video.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

a bit more effort

Yes folks it's that time of year when I start thinking about what and where I want to race this year. I've given it much thought, probed the work calendar, weighed the pros and cons and counted the vacation hours twice. Actually I didn't count the vacation hours because they're the same as last year. I really enjoyed the races I participated in last year and according to my schedule I think most them are doable for me again. The first race of the year, the Icycle in Fontana NC, is next month and while I didn't do it last year it's tempting. I haven't committed to it partly because I just now remembered it when I began this post but who knows. Actually I haven't committed to any races yet but the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek has already been approved by my race director.

I fully plan to give this one another solo run but this year I'm gonna give it a little more effort. Last year with a head cold lurking I only managed only 3 measly laps but it was all I really had in the tank.

The Warrior's Creek course doesn't have a whole lot of climbing but it's a full body workout with very few places to rest. I've concentrated on my core and upper body more this year than I have in the past and I think that will become very beneficial to me in my quest to be more competitive. I don't think a podium spot is in my future but I do plan on completing more than 3 laps.
I have this same vision for all of my solo attempts this year. Last year was really my first attempt at solo racing and I really enjoyed it but didn't take it too seriously. I rode hard but concentrated on the fun factor more than anything. I think with a better core fitness and proper fueling and hydration I should be able to achieve these goals and still keep it fun. At the 12 Hours of Tsali last year I still had gas in the tank when I threw in the towel but a bit too much tom-foolery in the pits and not enough chamois creme ended my efforts prematurely.

I surprised myself at the Disc Burner last year despite the lack of sleep the night before. I worked night shift last year drove home the morning of the race hooked up the camper drove to the race set-up and got signed in just in time to put my toe on the line. This year I'll be sure to schedule vacation and arrive at the venue the day before.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

let's just pretend

The topic of the Wii Fit came up today at work and just the idea that some people think that this is good exercise is funny to me. I guess if you were really overweight and out of shape it might be good exercise but why would you pay that much money just to pretend to exercise? The Wii as a whole to me is funny, now granted I'm not a video game fanatic. The last gaming system I owned was the original Nintendo and the only games I had were the ones it came with. I can appreciate and understand the fun of many games out there. Games that have you racing across deserts in exotic cars, slaying dragons with fiery swords or doing battle with flesh eating zombies. But I've noticed a trend in the newer games lately mainly the Wii comes to mind. I've seen people pretending to play ping pong, tennis, golf, bowling & paddling a canoe. While this may be fun, why not get the kids out of the house and do the real thing? I know alot of people really enjoy pretending to play sports or doing outdoor activities from the comfort of their climate controlled living rooms. I may be an odd ball for thinking this is weird but I can see this getting worse and some kids growing up never experiencing the excitement of playing outside and the feeling of actually doing these activities in real time.
Why am I talking about this? Half of me finds this funny but the other half finds this kinda scary. Will things like parks see a decline in people using them, will they begin to disappear? I hope not.
Many of my friends are video game players and I can understand this because I see them choosing outdoor activities over a game controller a majority of the time. I do know quite a few who choose the couch a controller and a 24oz. Mtn Dew Game Fuel to keep them from bonking after 5 hrs of rigorous button pushing.
Got a text from Melinda yesterday, the UPS man left a lil brown package on the steps. After the installation of all the new shiny bits to our bikes that we received for Christmas I felt like something was out of place. On Melinda's old crankset I had installed a Nashbar house brand bashguard and while it did a great job and at a great price it just didn't look right bolted to her new Race Face Dues crank. I scored a matching RF bashguard at a pretty good deal, not as good as the Nashbar but this one looks much nicer and saved her a few grams. While I was ordering I went ahead and threw down an additional $6 for this sweet Park Tool bottle opener. No good after ride beer is complete without a good bottle opener on hand. This little gem not only looks cool but it will be all the envy at the campground just after we cross the finish line.

The only problem I can foresee with the Park Tool version is keeping one of my friends from stealing it. I might just have to chain it to the meanest dog in the campground to be sure it comes home with me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Every once in a while I get into this aggravating mood where I like to talk trash, mess with people and have a little fun at others expense. Yesterday I relieved my stress on one of my co-workers by filling his locker with packing peanuts. I was taunted a bit by a few others, so I won't accept all of the blame. It also tempted me to write yesterdays post which was not really much of a harassment as it was more of a hint to please write something. It was also a test to see if there is anyone out there reading what I write. You write 2 or 3 posts get no comments and it makes you wonder if anyone is reading this stuff or am I just talking to myself. My post managed to get 4 responses so far which is good for a non-celebrity blogger like myself so I'll take that as a success. The icing on the cake, it spurred Wes to dust the cobwebs off his blog and fire up the keyboard. Keep it up Wes I've read your work, you can write better than most.
Once again I apologize for the lack of more exciting posts about adventures outdoors but I promise once Alaska sends their governor down to get their weather back I'll venture back out with my bike again.
On a positive note my fitness has not faltered I actually feel really good, I've been doing P90X with Melinda everyday and I'm working muscles I don't normally use riding my bike. I feel an overall improvement in my core and upper body. I hope that once the newness of P90X wears off I will be able to continue in my new fitness plan, I've never been a fan of exercising indoors, especially in front of my TV.

Monday, January 4, 2010

what did he say?

It's 2010, time to get moving, do something new, get back into the swing of things and start blogging. I know I've not written much in the past few weeks but times have been busy so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I've been looking at the list of links to other blogs that I have listed on my sidebar under the quote "Blogs I Read". The list is rather long but the actual number of blogs I read in that column is actually only 3 or 4. Yes that's correct, there are quite a few stale blogs over there. Several of them are friends or relatives who thought it would be cool to start up a blog but one or two posts later and the cobwebs have begun to collect. Some used to be fairly regular contributors but I guess a lack of time or things to say may have caused this decline in good reading. I like to read and be entertained as well as I like to write so help a brother out, give me something every once in a while, make something up or be like Alan and ramble about 26 vs 29 again.
It's 2010 folks time to get to it.