Sunday, December 19, 2010

why "ROAD" ID.

The Road ID. bracelets have been around for sometime now and I never really gave it all that much thought, I guess because I don't ride the road alot and when I do, my rides are usually short and close to home. I never thought how much an ID. bracelet could help in case of an emergency. Recently I started noticing more and more of my friends sporting the bracelets and I'll be honest my interest was peaked more because I thought they looked cool rather than the real purpose they served.

The more I thought about the Road ID. the more I realized how beneficial these bracelets could be for all athletes who train alone. I run alone, I ride my mountain bike alone and I hike alone, alot. I realized these bracelets were a good idea for both Melinda and myself, road bikers or not.

So I went ahead and ordered both of us one, I was kind of surprised at the price of $30 for a bracelet that was made out of the same rubber that that the $2 Livestrong bracelets are. Now the Road ID does have custom printed info for you and a fancy clasp that in my opinion is very unnecessary. The clasp can at times be a little irritating and definitely makes the bracelet much heavier. They do make a cheaper and lighter version that's made of canvas and would probably more comfortable but being made of canvas it would also become very stinky.

When our Road ID bracelets came in the mail I realized another reason for the $30 price tag. The ultra fancy metal tins the each came in, which after a few minutes went into the recycle bin. I tried to think of a good reason to keep them or something useful for them but I decided they would just end up cluttering up a drawer somewhere in the house and who needs more clutter.

Maybe I'll shoot the folks at Road ID. a note and suggest losing the clasp, fancy tin and drop the price to $15.

I'm really trying not to complain here because I really like my Road ID., it serves a great purpose, it comes in a nice selection of colors and well it just looks plain cool. Melinda went with black and I went with purple, I'm still not sure why I went with purple but it definitely catches peoples eye which is the whole point especially if your lying in a ditch or on the side of the trail unconcience. I really don't like to think about that, sorry.
My whole thought behind this post was why did the people behind Road ID. decide to call them "Road" ID. bracelets when so many other people could benefit from using them.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I was off work this entire week and the only outdoor physical activity I got the day Melinda and I took the dogs hiking in the snow.

If the temperature wasn't ridiculously low there was snow, rain or ice falling from the sky. Mother Nature has played a cruel trick on us, giving us an unusually warm fall and a ridiculously cold introduction to winter, which according to the calendar we have yet to enter. I hope Ma Nature runs out of steam soon as I don't think I can handle this much longer. I haven't been a complete slob, but the treadmill and spin bike can only do so much for me and working out in climate controlled conditions will only make me soft. Thank goodness we've had plenty of work to do outside at my job.
It hasn't been all that boring really, Melinda has been off the entire week with me so we've had alot of good down time together, something we've needed for a while but I think we're both ready to get out and do something active.

The weekend before last we hosted our 3rd annual Christmas party. Last year we went with the Tacky Christmas Sweater theme but this year it evolved into the entire outfit and there really weren't very many sweaters worn. Melinda and I worked on our outfits for almost a month leading up to the party and we probably spent too much $$ on them but once I saw the other guests' duds I was glad we did. To my surprise some people really went all out.

I used alot of glue and sparkly stuff just to pull my outfit together, this was the craftiest I've been in a long time. I know it's hard to see in this pic but my bow tie is covered in sequins.

Andy & Abby, Mr. & Mrs. "I'll punch you in your freakin' face" never disappoint. Andy looked like some sort of 70's pimp and Abby looked kinda of like a foreign princess or something, I'm not really sure.

I think Fat Tony was watching Dazed & Confused the night before he put his costume together.

He reminded me of Mathew McConaughey's character "Wooderson"

B-Rad came dressed in a full on Elf costume that Sara made. Ever seen an elf breakdance? I have.

Of course there was plenty of tom foolery going on and of course a bit of dancing to some of the oldest hip hop beats. Every year we have a white elephant gift exchange which is something we end up talking about all year. The gifts this year ranged from Jesus clocks, 6 pks. of Old Milwaukee, and toys of the more adult nature. It was definitely the funniest white elephant gift exchange I've ever been to. I laughed so hard at one point my sides cramped.
I wish we had a bigger house and could really go all out but we do the best with what we have. I lit up the entire deck with Christmas lights, Clark Griswald style and had two fire pits going at the same time. It worked out pretty well and despite the cold temps the deck was a good place to hang out.
Just the other day Melinda and I were discussing how difficult it will be to top next year's party. I don't know whether to continue with the same theme or find another.

Back during Thanksgiving my Dad and I were standing out in my sisters driveway while the bird was being prepared and he began reminiscing about his younger days and the coasters he and his brothers built out of wood. My sister has a really long and straight driveway that has a great slope ideal for racing wooden coasters down. He conned me and my brother in laws into building coasters between then and Christmas. We're all supposed to bring them over on Christmas Eve and have a race down the driveway. I kind of forgot that I work all that weekend so I
haven't gotten anything together. My Dad has his finished and I'm anxious to see it and ride it down the hill.
This could be a good opportunity for some Hero cam footage.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"He doesn't want to pay to be a real racer. He just wants to blog about it."

"He doesn't want to pay to be a real racer. He just wants to blog about it." Aaron Casey aka jiminimnimnimninii or something like that. This quote was taken from my local mtn club website. The thread was about a new spring race series that was titled training series. I'm not really sure which it's supposed to be but I love it when people talk smack, it gets me fired up and pumped about racing.
A "real" racer huh, what really makes someone a REAL racer? In my opinion a real racer is someone who enters a couple of races a year, enjoys it and is somewhat competitive. I feel like I fit this bill well enough. I'm not paid or sponsored and as much as I would love to be I realize it's probably not going to happen and that is probably for the best in my case.
No I didn't get to race as much as I would like to this year but that's part of working full time, living on your own and having a few priorities here and there.

Racers who boast that they are pumped about inflicting a bunch of pain on themselves or brag that they enjoy it are full of it in my opinion. Yeah pushing yourself to the point to physical discomfort is what it takes to win and get stronger but there is a limit and once that line is crossed the fun is lost. Some can take way more than others but nobody likes it, they are just willing to deal with it.

There are a few things I look for when I'm signing up for a race.

- Races that are fun.
- The people I'm racing against are there to have fun as well.
- The entry fee is not ridiculous. I like to get a little something for my $$$ even if I don't podium.
- The course is fun (singletrack), I can deal with gut busting climbs.
- Promoters who are more interested in putting on a quality race rather than making a buck.

If I can't find at least two of these in a race I'm probably not gonna be interested. In my limited experience, USAC races are the only races where I have ever been cussed for not getting out of another racer's way fast enough, I hate people like that. Those are the folks who take it waaaay to seriously and loose focus on the fun aspect. I've seen it first hand in my small cycling community and some of those folks burned out so bad they quit riding. Everyone of them competed in a USAC backed series. Coincidence?
The USAC races require a license which I guess is worth it if you crash really bad and put the insurance to good use. I for one have never done enough USAC races to make buying a license worth the $$. I haven't actually done a USAC in over 2 years and I race as much as possible. I looked around the USAC website trying to find another good excuse for buying a license but there was way to much reading to be done and I got bored and went elsewhere. I'm sure there are plenty folks who can rattle off several reasons as to why it's worth the $$ but I doubt any of them really apply to me but I will listen. I'm forced to buy insurance through my employer so why would I want additional?

This all stems from a comment about having to pay for a USAC license to race. If I really want to race this series and it jives with my schedule I will probably do it.

I am excited about the fact that someone local has taken the initiative to put together a series of races and I hope the course is awesome and the turnout is huge.

I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2010 wrap-up

Yeah I know there is still a whole month left in this year but I felt compelled to write a 2010 wrap-up for some odd ball reason and hey it's my blog. There's not much else going on in the way of blogging around here anyway, I must rely on celebrity bloggers these days for more consistant reading entertainment. So with that said here I go, oh and I also will state now that this may or may not be in order that the actual events happened.

Last winter we actually had a cold snowy winter, nothing compared to the peeps up north but for me and my southern roots I saw enough snow last year to last me another 10 years. One particular snowfall took out our entire trail system at Warriors. Luckily we have a dedicated bunch of volunteers in our local mtn bike clubs who for 6 or 7 days straight cut through massive piles of downed trees so that we wouldn't have to wait long before riding again.

Speaking of the mountain bike club, we made some huge strides this past year with a few new events & trail opportunities. The 2nd annual Bike at Bays was again a huge success thanks to all our volunteers, local bike shops and of course Texas Roadhouse.

Melinda and I hit the road with the ECO & dogs alot this year riding at some new places and some old favorites. Our first trip of the year was up to Ohio where we visited Rays Indoor Mtn Bike Park. A must do if your ever up north, yes it is worth the drive. We totally plan to go back again this next year.

Check my video section down on the right for some action footage from Ray's.

Another new destination we hit this year was Raystown Lake in Pee-Yay. The Allegrippis Trail system was a fantastic place to spend 5 glorious days in the heat of the summer. The trails are super fast, rolling and left me grinning ear to ear at the end of everyday.

While in Raystown we hit one of the few resturants in town, they might have some sweet trails but when it comes to food, bring plenty of your own because you can hit all the food joints in one day. It was at the fancier joint, the local all you can eat buffet that I discovered and ate my first purple egg. I've never gotten such a funny look from a waitress until that day when I asked if the chicken that layed that egg was purple too.

Of course what summer would be complete without a trip to Dupont, or at least three. We love Dupont and the Black Forest Campground and it will probably continue to be one of our summer camping/riding destinations.

In a 2 week vacation binge we camped at Dupont for 5 days, drove home, unpacked, I worked one day and then we loaded up the dogs and headed to Savanah GA for my youngest sister, Bug's wedding. Of course we took bikes but this trip it was the cruisers that got called into action. I'm not sure how many miles I put on my cruiser but it was alot, we rode them to more destinations than we drove. Savanah is a town that is much easier accessed via bicycle than car.

This summer was alot of firsts for us and a flat tire on the ECO coming back from a trip @ Raccoon Mtn was when it all went down. Luckily for us it was dark and raining when it happened. There was no good place to change it on the side of the road so we were forced to drive to the nearest exit before we couldreally even get a good look at it. By the time we stopped we were on the rim. Thankfully we only suffered minor damage.

Speaking of firsts, I was able to sneak a ride in at Rocky Fork. Not really the best place to ride when it comes to sweet singletrack but it is truly a back country experience. The ride was full of creek and stream crossings, grueling climbs and spectacular views that make me want to go back soon.

If you do try this ride, take someone who's been there, plenty of water, food a change of socks, oh and a camera.

One of the more anticipated camping trips we attended was the club camping trip to Wilksboro NC, home of the Dark Mtn, OVT and Warrior Creek mtn bike trails.

Unfortunatly Mother Nature snuck up on us and doused us with rain for a majority of the trip but we still had a great time and got in plenty of riding in half way decent conditions. We also found a sweet rope swing into the lake the last day that many in our crew missed out on due to early departures. That trip made me very thankful for the ECO and a dry bed.

Yes Alan did ride his bike in the rain but once it did start raining he put up his bike and went home early.

Where would we be without singletrack trails? I'm scared to think about what kind of shape or mischief I would be into without mountain bikes and singletrack. Thankfully there are small mtn bike clubs like ours, NTMBA that are backed by a much larger organization like IMBA who work together to make sure that the trails we have no continue to exist and see that new one continue to be built.

We had the great opportunity to have the IMBA trail care crew visit us and assist us with a trail project at a local city park who's trail system while fun to ride has struggled for years but the future of this place is looking brighter and one day may become a favorite in the tri-cities.

This year was a bit different for me than in the past, I really didn't focus on racing as much as I would have liked to but racing is not what it's really all about for me. Racing is something I really enjoy but do purely for fun and Melinda and I only go if we're rolling with our whole crew of like minded friends. This spring we skipped the 12 Hours of Tsali in favor of a local small fry race just getting started at Hungry Mother State Park. The race was called the "Night Owl", a short, super fast xc race that was held in the dark. I think we all redlined it right out of the starting gate with a pace that was ridiculously off the hook. I never thought I was going to hold on until the finish but somehow I managed and pulled out my first podium of the year.

I'm glad we picked this one over Tsali, our crew took up half the campground and were probably 50% of the entire field of racers.

Will I visit this one again next year? I hope so.

My one black mark on my racing season was of course the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek, yes I've complained enough about my sorry performance there, but it happens to everyone so I won't waste your time with my whining about it anymore. I'm already registered for the 2011 race which sold out to 300 racers in just under 36 hrs. I will take next year up a notch and redeem myself, me and my two buddies Zyrtek & Singular to help me fight of the dead people and flying pink elephants.

Probably the bright spot on my 2010 racing season was the 12 Hours of the Hill of Truth. This was my 5th year in attendance to this race and while it wasn't our best performance we still managed a podium spot and had an absolute blast doing so.

Sadly we didn't get to take a group photo at the closing ceremony because Anthony had to leave early because his brother Keith hit a tree during the race and had to be taken to the hospital for stitches but he rejoined us by the campfire later for some celebrating, break dancing and adult beverages.

Since I didn't make it out to alot of races this year I focus on doing alot more road trips and just having fun riding which can be cheaper and well, more fun.

For instance take the sunset ride on Holston Mtn that a big group of us did earlier this year.

Normally we ride to the top of mountains and then ride down but this one was a bit different. We drove to the top cruised along the ridge and the dropped in on some short but sweet singletrack that led us to a sweet overlook that had views of South Holston Lake. This ride was really more about the pit stop mid ride to watch the sunset. A friend of ours brought his BOB trailer with a fully stocked cooler that really put the icing on the cake.

Being a fan of tattoos I've gotten a few over the years but it had been at least 2 since my last sitting and I was anxious to get back in and get some new work done. It took me a while to decide what exactly I wanted. I've been working on covering my entire upper arm simular to a t-shirt sleeve and all I lacked was the inside of my bicep.

Since I got this one I've already been thinking about what I'm getting next, I've still not decided on anything but I've got a few ideas.

The Rides

Earlier in the spring I finally sold the Masi CXR bike, I really liked the bike but it was the bike that saw the least amount of action and since my work schedule makes racing CX difficult. I decided to go ahead and let it go to help fund another bike that would be useful to me. For a while I have had my eye on a Niner but I couldn't justify buying one especially since I already had 2 mountain bikes.

With the CXR sold I went ahead and pulled the trigger on a Niner AIR9 and not too long after that I broke the Mamasita. Once I got a hold of the Niner I quickly fell in love with everything about it. It wasn't long before I began jonesing for a full squish Niner. Soon the urge became too strong and with a deal I couldn't pass up I sold the Karate Monkey ordered the JET9 and never looked back.

With all the buying and selling going on I almost started to feel like Alan for a minute but I think I'll hold on to these bikes for a while.

There was one other bike I managed to aquire over the year, "Brownie", my Dad's old Schwinn 5 spd. A very unusual bike for me, one that really could use some attention but still sits as is in my bike room. With the purchase of 2 Niners I put the restoration of Brownie on the back burner until sometime next year. I've got a couple of ideas for Brownie and if I follow through the name Brownie will probably be dropped.

I did enjoy using the CXR for some light commuting so Brownie may be converted into a more speedy looking cruiser/commuter.

Last month my sister Becky had her second child, Josephine. A beautuful little baby girl and we were able to make it in town for her birth.

Sorry for such a sucky post, it took me almost two weeks to write this mostly because I got bored with it. I almost trashed it a couple times but couldn't bring myself to do so since I spent so much time organizing photos and trying to make my year sound interesting.
I'm done with it now because I finally just got some inspiration to write something new.
Thanks Aaron Casey