Wednesday, June 23, 2010

back in business and time to de-throne the giant

Hell yeah! I'm back in business! The UPS man dropped off a little package for me yesterday and I have a feeling things are going to start picking up here @ riding with dogs. Somebody's got keep the tri-cities cycling bogger world alive.

Thank you Moonshine & Jackson, I couldn't have asked for a better Father's Day gift. I'll put this little guy to good use this weekend at Dupont. I have plenty of ideas in mind for my newest film. I'll finally get to put my new chest mount to use that I got back in April.

Speaking of sorry a$$ blogs I know I've complained here before about the lack of blogging that is in my sidebar. I created a small amount of activity the last time I said something and started moving blogs into categories from the more frequent bloggers to the sorriest. I've even deleted a couple since then. After a year of inactivity I don't see the point in keeping them around I mean come on, why waste the space? I've been toying around with the idea of putting together a list of celebrity bloggers, you know the more famous folks that we all read on a regular basis. I've put this off for a while because everyone knows who they are and I wanted to try and keep it all local but my local peeps just keep letting me down.

I know some of my posts lack in entertain value from time to time but sometimes just getting on here and writing whatever comes to mind with no real purpose can sometimes generate some really good posts.

Ok enough of that, last night my plans were to get out and run the Crazy 8's course, an 8k running race that is coming up in July. I usually slack off in my running during the summer due to my much stronger interest in cycling. I decided I needed to step it up a bit since every year I get my a$$ handed to me by Ironman Chris Dillow. Last year I tried my best not to beat him but just keep him in view but that didn't happen. It's such a popular race and the turnout is so huge that the start of the race is a real cluster. I tried my hardest but ICD was bobbing and weaving through the crowd like a pushy little mexican kid at the amusement park. I dabbed right in an effort not to run over some fat guy who shoulda started at the back and Chris went left and I never saw him again. This year I will not lose him so early in the race. If I have to grab a handful of his shirt or throw a rope around him I will keep him in my sight. His wife Joy suggested on Facebook that I throw a stick or something at him but I might get arrested for that. She said she would do the same but I can't bring myself to do that. Maybe I'll just sneak into his house the night before while everyone is asleep and steal his running shoes. I have a feeling he using something illegal in his shoes to increase his speed. I'm not sure what but everytime he takes a step I swear I see sparks coming off the soles of his running shoes.
My training plan? I'm not going to just run more, I'm going to run when it's nasty outside. Hot weather, bad traffic, tornadoes you name it. I've even been driving home from work everyday this week with the windows up, the heat blasting and pop country music blaring on my stereo just to get me in the A$$ whipping mood.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

red hot mama

As stated in my last post I found a crack in the Mamasita and all it took was one phone call on Monday to Salsa from my LBS and a new one was on it's way. By Friday I had the new frame in my possession. Now that's what I call customer service, I hope I have the same service with my next frame which I'm still waiting on by the way.
When I got the new Mamasita home I removed all of the protective foam and padding so I could snap a few pics for selling purposes.

I was impressed with the details in the graphics, some manufacturers simply paint their frames slap on a logo and call it good but with Salsa you get a mini work of art.

At first I wasn't too keen on the red paint scheme but after getting a closer look I'll have to say the graphics are pretty sharp and if I hadn't already placed my order for another frame I would really consider riding the red Mamasita.

If you know someone looking to buy a 29er I'll cut them a sweet deal. I also have a Reba SL 29er and a Salsa Delgado/XT 29er wheelset to go with the frame that I'll add for just a little more $$. With this set up you could easily swap over the rest of the components from a 26" wheeled bike and make the move to 29.

Not much riding for me this weekend, Melinda and I managed to squeeze in a short ride early Friday but that was all. My entire family made the trek to come in town for my youngest sister's wedding shower. We leave in less than 2 weeks to head down to Savannah for a long weekend to see her get married.

While the girl's were doing all things foo foo and sipping fancy punch at the bridal shower, my bro in laws, future bro in law, Dad and I all hit Boone Lake with a slew of kayaks. We put the boats in at Winged Deer park and headed up the lake towards Sonny's Marina as our destination for refueling. Sandwiches, nachos and a few beers were consumed followed by a few entertaining minutes feeding the larger than normal carp that hang out near the dock waiting for the occasional greasy french fry to be tossed their way. If you toss enough into the water I swear you could walk on water like Jesus did but only for a few minutes or as long as the fries last.
The faster this week passes the better, Fri we're hooking up the ECO and heading to Dupont for some camping, singletrack action and good times with friends around the campfire. It looks as if I will be taking the Karate Monkey only this weekend I just hope my legs are up for the thrashing they'll get from only having one gear.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

cracks, cams and new stuff

About a week ago Melinda and I had just returned home from a ride at Bays Mtn. and I decided to hose off the bikes rather than take them inside covered in mud and grit. As I was washing down the Mamasita I noticed a small line on the seat stay in the paint. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was a crack that circled almost half way around the tube. Damn! I imediately called my LBS and got things in motion. Within 2 days I had a new frame in route to the shop without having to ship my old one in for inspection. Now that's what I call customer service! The only difference about the new frame is the color, instead of grey I am receiving a red one, the only color they make it in.
The crack in the frame turned out to be a good thing actually. I was planning to sell the Mamasita but now instead of selling a 2 year old frame I'll have a brand new one still in the box. I have no plans of building this bike whatsoever. I do have a new ride in the works but it's currently on back order so I'll be rolling SS it until it comes in.

Speaking of singlespeeds it funny how much you slip when you don't ride the singlespeed for a week or two. I've been riding the Mamasita quite a bit especially at Bays Mtn so the first ride on the Karate Monkey in a couple weeks was a bit tougher. Hopefully I'll get in a few more rides before we head to Dupont for a long weekend of camping and riding with friends. It would be nice if the new ride came in this week as well but I don't think that is going to happen.

Speaking of new things Melinda ordered me a new Hero cam for Fathers day! It should be arriving at my house in a couple of days just in time to shoot some video at Dupont.

There is a new race in Kingsport this year, the "White Lightning", nothing really to get too excited about. It's a road race that covers some of the local roads I ride already. I mis-read the dates and was planning on doing this race along with an 8k run that evening. Turns out the W.L. is the following Sat. and Melinda and I will be camping up in PA at Raystown Lake and riding the new Allegrippis trail system. If you've not heard of Raystown check it out on the web, the rumor is this place is sweet! 30 plus miles of fast singletrack built by IMBA, what's not to like about that. I might just have to go out and buy more batteries for the Hero cam and another SD card so I can shoot plenty of footage for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

me and my new little f-bomb dropping friend

Busy times lately has keep me off the computer hence the lack of blogging. It's not that I haven't had much to talk about just no time to say it. Melinda and I have been in full project mode, you know same as always at the first of the summer, new cellar door, redesigning a few of the gardens, planting a few new plants & flowers and some repainting. In our spare time we've been out in the woods so blogging has taken a bit of a backseat, sorry. I think we're almost done for now and we should be focusing more of our attention to all things outdoors.

I recently joined the rest of the world in technology & bought a smart phone, you know one of those fancy phones that does everything but cook dinner for you. My old phone was on the skids and when I went in to get a replacement the deal to upgrade was too good to pass up. I've been putting off this upgrade for a while due to the really expensive cost that comes along with a smart phone but I finally figured out a way to get it close enough to my original bill to pull the trigger. While it did take some work to get the hang of using these things I will say I can see the benefit in having them. I can quit worrying about how much time I spend wasting away in front of the computer screen when I really should be outside doing something active. Think about it, today more and more people stay inside and experience the outdoors via their computer or TV. With the smart phone you can get the best of both worlds by taking your virtual world outdoors with you. I will admit it's still not ideal but I think it's better than nothing. I do feel nervous about taking my phone on the trail with me. Being such an expensive gadget I'm worried ruining it riding around with it stuffed in my jersey pocket. My last phone survived for two years that way with no problems but as expensive as this new phone would be if I had to replace it I feel nervous about it. So now I make sure I've always got a small ziplock bag to carry it in with my helmet and gloves. Ahh the wonders of cheap locking plastic bags. As cool as this phone is I will say I've had a few rough spots with it. The other day I was in line to get a haircut and I was texting Melinda when I must have accidentally hit the wrong button and my internet radio kick on at full volume. Needless to say the song that came on wasn't anything that should be played in public. The station, "Classic Hip Hop", the song, "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A. If your not familiar with N.W.A. there were "F-bombs" being dropped in the Hairstyles beauty salon like nobody's business. Luckily the place was not crowded but the ladies who worked there definitely got an earful. Conveniently I panicked and couldn't seem to make it stop for what seemed like hours.

My little "F-bomb" dropping machine is the new Droid. I really like the I-phone but I also like to actually make phone calls when I want to without having to be right next to AT&T's only 2 cell phone towers in TN. I know the I-phone is much cooler but what good is a phone that can't get a signal?

Speaking of upgrades a couple of month's ago we decided it was time to upgrade Melinda's wheelset on her mountain bike. We did a bit of research online and she decided to go with a set of Mavic SLR's. Of course we bought her wheelset through our trusty LBS instead of buying online but we did have to wait. Mavic evidently was a bit behind on production and we were told it would be mid July before we got them in but surprisingly they showed up last week. Our good buddy Alan was kind enough to save us a trip to the bike shop and met us halfway at the local short track.

photo cred. Scooby Snacks

I got those bad boys mounted up the very next day with a new set of tubeless tires. Now all the mountain bikes here at Riding With Dogs are fully tubeless.

No that's not a 2.5 DH tire, the camera angle was a bit skewed, it's a 2.1.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

more Raccoon, more fish tacos & a late night learning experience

Yes it's been a week and I'm still talking about our trip to Chatt. last weekend. I could have put this all in one post but it would have been long, less creative, and over in one read leaving you with nothing else to do with your weekend. I mean hey, somebody has to pick up the slack for all the lack of blogging around here. My side bar of blog lists is growing some serious cobwebs. If it wasn't for Alan and his never ending search for the perfect used bike bought at a ridiculously cheap deal or AC's ramblings about whatever he's thinking about while brushing his teeth we would have nothing else to read. So until somebody comes out of the wood work and writes something on a more regular basis I'll continue to stretch a single weekend into a week long blog adventure. Who knows maybe I'll resort to making up stories if I get really desperate. With all that goes on in Dustin's hood I'm surprised he hasn't written anything lately, car wrecks, and boating mishaps. So with that said I'll wrap this Chatt. trip up and move on to another subject in my next post.

Monday morning I woke up fresh hoping the rain had held off but it didn't the ground at the Back Yard campground was saturated but I refused to let it get me down. I still held onto hope that Raccoon was going to be rideable. I got in no rush to get to the trailhead early so that hopefully any wet spots might dry out. Breakfast was on the grill that morning, wholegrain pancakes, turkey bacon, eggs and coffee (french press style). Sorry I'm making myself hungry too just thinking about it. It was excellent! We basically just hung around till noon that day doing nothing, the rain came down off and on and several times throughout the day I said forget it, no ride then the sun would come out and I'd change my mind. Somewhere around lunch time we decided to head downtown and hit a taco joint, Taco Mamasita for lunch. Probably some of the best fish tacos I've had in a while and an excellent beer selection to go with it.
The sun remained out all through lunch so I said screw let's go ride no matter what the cond. after lunch. I didn't have to twist Andy's arm but the girls decided to stay in town and do some more shopping. All I heard was talk of bed spreads and curtains but all I was thinking was singletrack.

Andy and I left the girls at the taco joint and headed back to camp to grab our bikes. Upon arrival at the trailhead there were a few folks just rolling in from a ride and the word was the trails were in good shape. We wasted no time just in case Mother Nature had another round of rain in store for us. This time we decided to hit the rest of the trails we had missed on Sat. What can I say about Raccoon Mountain, that place is awesome even after the rain. The trails drain excellent with the help of a bit of sand and some good trail building skills from the fine folks of SORBA. My hats off to those guys. Our trip last year we missed a trail called Six Flags or either it was new but it branched off of part of Megawatt. Six Flags started up a slow climb just like a rollar coaster but once you reach the top hang a right or you will miss all the fun. The decent was a series of screaming downhills that send you right back up hill with little or no effort, bermed turns and as much speed as you can handle for the entire ride.
Raccoon is full of rocks that really put your technical skills to the test, there were a couple of spots that had me and my measly 80mm of travel off the back of my seat or off the bike all together. By the time we reached the end we had covered every inch of the place and then some due to a wrong turn or two. My legs were toast but I was very pleased that we decided to go ahead and ride, we only ran into a few puddles here and there.

Back at the Back Yard campground Melinda had almost everything squared away for the trip home so I showered quick and we hooked up the ECO said good bye and hit the road for Kingsport. Most of the drive home was uneventful except for the rain that harassed us through half of the drive. As the last hour of the drive hit we were cruising down I-81 sometime around 10pm in the rain when we felt a really weird sensation. Before I could figure it out Melinda said "we've got a flat tire!" I pulled our rig over realizing it was probably one of the ECO's tires. The tire that blew was on the road side and with all the traffic speeding past us I couldn't even get close to the wheel to inspect it. I had no other choice but to limp it down to the next exit ramp which thankfully wasn't far and into a gas station so we could get out of the rain.

By the time we pulled into the gas station we had completely destroyed the tire NASCAR style along with the fender. Had we driven it any further we would have probably damaged the rim as well.

Never having used the jack in my truck it took me almost 20 minutes just to figure out how to remove it. When I took the tire cover off the spare I was surprised to see it wrapped up like a burrito in what looked like aluminum foil but relieved to see it was a normal tire and wheel not one of those little donuts.

Even through the stress of the situation Melinda saw good blog potential and documented the whole process.

The slightly damaged fender.

Today I finally got the new tire replaced and discovered a cut in the tread about an inch long. About a half mile before we flatted we had passed a couple of cars with the same problem so my guess is there was several somethings laying in the road ruining tires.
It's funny that the flat happened when it did because I was just thinking about whether or not if I was prepared for such a situation and if my sewer dump line would remain intact due to how low it hangs down. Luckily there was a couple of inches to spare because the Back Yard campground was lacking a dump station and we had a full tank. That would have made for one nasty situation and probably a hefty fine had a cop seen it happen.

That's it folks no more stories from our Chatt. trip. Now go and write something of your own.

Friday, June 4, 2010

wild boar, snakes, black bear, & fish tacos

Sorry for the delay folks, Ma had me tendin' to my chores. Back to all things dirt.

Sunday morning Andy and I headed southeast out of Chatt. toward Tanasi to check out the trails while the ladies hit Atlanta & IKEA. I know, how could I pass up a chance to go to Ikea? ....umm just kidding. Anyway as we drove in I was amazed that I had forgotten how beautiful that area of TN is. Mountains, lakes & the Ocoee river, wow! We cruised along side of the Ocoee for several miles watching the whitewater rafting cats do battle in their short little kayaks. I think I've just found another hobby.

We cruised into the Thunder Rock campground and met up with our tour guide for the day an old college buddy of mine, Greg Barker. He and I both got into mtn biking after graduating ETSU but have never got to ride together. Luckily for us this was his home turf and there was no need to take a map. Right off the bat he informed us that we might encounter turkey, wild boar, black bear or the dreaded copperhead snake. It wasn't 5 minutes later as we cruised up the first trail we ran into our first snake. Luckily it was just a Garter but 50 yards later we saw our first Copperhead. Turns out luck was with us because while the Copperhead was big and mean looking it was also dead. It was the last snake or any type of wildlife we saw for the rest of the day.
When I think of back country riding I think of all day trips on rough trails cut into the side of a mountain with little in the way of civilization. Tanasi had that feel but the trails were a bit more groomed and were well taken care of. There were no highways near by or sounds of the city, just miles and miles of singletrack snaking through the woods climbing and descending. I don't think there was a single trail I disliked, everything was awesome, even the climbing wasn't that bad.
My three favorites were the Chestnut Mtn Loop, the River View Loop (which has no view of the river) and of course the all downhill badass, Thunder Rock Express. Damn that trail was fast and fun, I had heard good things about it and it lived up to everyone of my expectations and then some.

The T.R.E. dropped us off just up the road from our cars and we regrouped and discussed hitting another trailhead. Greg B. made a quick call to check the weather, we had been running from a T-storm what seemed like the entire ride but never felt a drop and we learned a nasty storm was in the area and headed our way so we decided since we were going back to Raccoon on Mon. we would call it a day and go grab lunch.

Once again I forgot the camera so I have nothing to show so you'll have to take my word for it that Tanasi is a must do. Plan to spend the weekend riding and whitewater rafting, camp at the Thunder Rock campground which is located at the trailhead and along the banks of the awesome Ocoee river.

Andy and I headed to the Whitewater center to check out the action. Just as we pulled into the parking lot the T-storm we heard about unleashed it's fury and had us running for cover. We grabbed a quick sandwich from the deli and sat outside under the patio and watched the kayakers surf the rapids.

That night we regrouped back at the "Back Yard" campground and met up with the girls to see what damage had been done in Atlanta. Luckily we had just enough left in the bank to eat dinner and pay for gas to get home home.

We cleaned up and hit downtown Chatt. for some dinner and frosty beverages. The restaurant of choice was the Blue Plate, kinda of a modern spin on the old school diner. Everything was decked out in a weird blue decor. At first I thought our dinner was going to be just ok and then I found the fish tacos. They were a bit fancier than I was used to but still very tasty.

One the way home I decided that stopping for ice cream was a good idea and everyone agreed. Sadly there were no ice cream shops open that late so we had to settle for a tub at the grocery store. After cruising the freezer isle and making my selection I headed toward the check out line to pay for my goods. I guess the tall boy PBR's I had a dinner were working their magic and I had started my white boy imitation of b boxxing or beat boxxing as I walked through the line. I really wasn't paying attention when the cashier asked me if I had anything to go with that. "Go with that I asked?" thinking he was referring to my ice cream. He said "no the beat" then he proceeded to imitate my b box tune. Rather than be embarrassed I said yeah and told him to continue while I added another sad white boy beat. The next thing I knew the manager standing at the end of the line added a deep base beat. While our beat box session would have made the Fat Boys cry I was pretty impressed that the grocery store employees had decided to join in rather than look at me like an idiot. When I got out to the car I told the story to Melinda & Abby who of course didn't believe me until Andy who had witnessed the whole thing from the next isle confirmed my tale.

The rain that had hit us earlier at the Ocoee followed us home pounding us every chance it got and making me wonder if we were going to get to ride the next day. Off and on it rained the rest of the evening sometimes ridiculously hard. Later that night just before I crashed out for the night I said a little prayer to God asking for dryer weather so Andy and I could ride once more before we had to go home.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

a country boy breakfast and singletrack for lunch

Memorial Day weekend, ahh what a good time. Originally our weekend was supposed to begin Fri afternoon with us hitting the road to Chattanooga with the ECO in tow and the bikes on the roof but a slight change in plans kept us at home till Sat morning. Really this was a good thing as both Melinda and I were exhausted from the the work week.
Sat morning we hit the road early and met up with Abby & Andy and tore up some Cracker Barrel. We seem to get several CB gift cards every year so when we go, we go big. Country Boy breakfasts for all my friends. In the parking lot we saw a set up similar to ours but not quite as cool.

I dig the little camper but they're missing a few things: dogs, bikes, and a little shower for Melinda.
We also saw this really sweet Rat Rod, if your not familiar with the Rat Rod style google it and take a look around. I was jealous of this guy's ride.
Once we were finished gorging ourselves on all things hillbilly we loosened our belt buckles and got back on the road to Chatt. We attempted to get in at the local campground but being Memorial Day weekend everything was booked and I'm kinda glad we didn't as I'm sure it would have been a circus. Thankfully Abby's sister Leslie and her husband let us crash in their backyard and turn it into our our little mini campground for the weekend. The one cool thing about this campground was, it was free and they're house backed up to a small brewery, The Moccasin Bend Brewery, which of course we had to visit.
Never having been on a brewery tour I can't really rate how well it was but for a small brewery that I had never heard of run by a couple of guys who seem to take they're beer drinking seriously, it was pretty fun and interesting.

We sampled everything they had on tap which was around 8 or 9 beers plus the tour for only $8.
The brewery wasn't much to look at but the beer was good and that was the most important part.
Our original plan was to hit Raccoon Mountain for a ride first thing but it wasn't hard to sway us into the brewery tour. Although the ladies decided to pass on riding Andy and I were determined to get a few miles of singletrack in no matter what. We came to ride and that's just what we did.
I've been dreaming of Raccoon Mountain ever since we had last visited and I wasn't about to pass up a chance to get to ride it again. Unfortunately I forgot the camera and I'm still without a Hero cam so no pics or videos. Father's Day is coming up, soooo..... maybe I'll have a new cam by then, hint hint.
Just as anticipated Raccoon was awesome, we were a bit short on time and with a few beers in our systems we only rode half of the trail system which was still longer than a ride at our local trailhead so I was satisfied for the moment. We took a bit different route than last time and included the lower part of Chunky which held up to it's name. The upper section of Chunky is really geared towards the guys with no fear and more travel than I have in both my mountain bikes combined. The Mamasita like to go fast but stay closer to the ground.
With a Memorial Day style cookout on the agenda we finished up the ride with enough singletrack to shake a stick at and headed back to the backyard campground for the evenings festivities.
I'm gonna have to save some for tomorrow as there is too much to tell in one post and I have a lot of unpacking and cleaning to do. We didn't get in last night until after midnight and the bikes are still on the truck. Next on tap, Tanasi!