Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The 2011 ECO World Tour

It's that time of year when I attempt to start planning my vacations, trips, rides, races and other various functions Melinda and I like to attend during the year. At work we're not really forced to let them know all of our vacation plans at the beginning of the year but the longer you wait to schedule your time the more likely you'll run into a date someone else has already picked. I have a calendar at home with my work schedule for the year and as I hear of dates that peak my interest I write them down whether I think I can make it work or not. Usually we end up making about 3/4 of the events we write down and several get added later in the year as there are always spontaneous trips popping up.

This year there are already several dates writtten down on our calendar but really only two have been set in stone. The first trip this year will see us heading to Brevard for the SORBA mtn bike summit. NTMBA is scheduled to be voted into IMBA/SORBA this year and we must be in attendance to do so. There is a whole weekend of events scheduled including a couple of big group rides so we decided to make a four day weekend out of it and celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary camping near Dupont State Forest.

Our second trip which happens to fall the very next weekend. The 3rd annual 6 Hrs. of Warriors Creek race in Wilkesboro NC. It also happens to be my birthday that weekend and peak allergy season. We will probably just leave the ECO packed in between trips and just restock the food and beverage supplies.

We usually try to work in a new destination every year for something different and this year our goal is to hit F.A.T.S., a very popular mtn bike destination near Augusta GA. We've yet to nail down the official date but I hope to get it scheduled soon.

As far as races go for me and the GRT Racing crew, we have several events pending. The semi local Tennesse Cup Mountain Bike Series has peaked our interest. It's three 8 hour races all within a 2 hour drive. I'm not sure if I will be able to make all three races but I hope to make at least two. Speaking of GRT Racing, we have finally started looking into getting our own team kits. Fat Tony has been hard at work on the design and from what I've seen so far they are going to look pretty sweet.

The 12 Hours of Tsali is also on my radar this year as it looks like the Night Owl isn't going to happen. This one is also a big maybe but definetly something I would like to attempt. It's been a while since we visited Tsali.

I feel like our calendar is filling up faster than normal this year but the good side of that is at least we won't be bored. The only dark spot on our calendar so far is the last weekend in October. We usually hit the 12 Hours of the Hill of Truth in Knoxville but unfortunately I have a work conflict. I knew one day something would prevent me from going, breaking my streak. I guess it's a good thing though, maybe it's time to move on and try new events and other things.
Melinda and I have never really been big on taking large extravegant vacations. I guess we could but really we would have to save all year and it would probably be the only trip we would get to take for the year. The last couple of trips to the beach we've made have left us wishing we were in the mountains somewhere camping with friends.
With the purchase of the ECO a couple of years ago it has really opened alot of doors for us and trips. Granted most of our trips involve camping, the ECO is hardly roughing it.
I'm very thankful Melinda is a camping type of girl, I couldn't imagine not spending half the summer camping with her and the dogs in the ECO. Both of our parents raised us taking camping trips when we were younger. Camping to me is a part of life and to hear some people talk about camping like it's the most horrible thing ever is like nails on a chalkboard. There is nothing like sitting around a campfire at night sipping on a brew with Melinda after a long day riding singletrack. I don't need fancy resturants, room service or beaches to satisfy me. Don't get me wrong I can enjoy it just as much as the next guy but I would rather go on 6 or 7 camping trips a year over one trip to the beach anyday.

Just talking about the trips we have planned is getting me pumped about this year. I'm so ready for this winter weather to be over and for things to dry out and warm up.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

happy dogs and happy greg

Last Thursday Mother Nature gave us a bit of a reprieve, actually she worked with us on both Wednesday and Thursday. I've been jonesing for a good trail ride but not really wanting to do damage to soft trails I opted to wait until Thursday to break out the bikes. Wednesday Fat Tony and I.M. Dillow were planning a run in Bristol so I laced up my running kicks and joined them for a change of scenery. I really needed to get a few miles in before next weekend's 10k race we're all participating in. Chris sparked my interest with this one on Facebox that you could register for a measly $6 if you got in under the deadline and skipped the usual worthless t-shirt. I've received a ton of these things in the past and I can only think of 2 that I wear. The rest usually find their way to the Goodwill, trashcan or shop rag bin. This is the first race I've seen that actually gave you the choice of pre-registering with out the t-shirt which I thought was very cool. I think I'll shoot the Crazy 8's organizers an email asking for the same choice as they always come through with the worst t-shirt designs ever, well actually they would take 2nd place behind the Tour De Possum Creek if it was still in existence.

Thursday I loaded up my AIR9 and headed to Bays Mtn. to get in some trail time. As I loaded up my bike the dogs gave me their best sad, "Please take us with you" faces. I sat down thought it out and came up with a plan. I told them that when I got back we would head over to Warriors where the trails are more "off the leash" dog friendly. I was really needing to give the JET a test run since I had installed the new cassette and made all the necessary adjustments myself so I thought what a better way to do so with a short ride with the dogs.

It's unusual for me to get in 2 rides at different places on 2 different bikes but I pulled it off well on Thursday. I was actually surprised at how good the conditions were at Warriors, of course there were some slick spots but it was better than I had expected.

There were tails wagging everywhere as we cruised through the woods. If I had a tail it would have been wagging as well. It seems as though my mech. skills are improving. The JET's drivetrain performed well and gave me no problems at all. The only thing that disappointed me was my fitness level, I could tell it has dropped some but I guess that is to be expected since it has truly been winter here in N.E. Tenn.

Wednesday I had a few errands that needed to be done in JC so while I was in town I dropped by one of my old favorite shops, Norris Bicycles. I took Brownie with me to get the low down from Dave as to what it might cost to really bring the old cruiser back to life and looking good. We talked for about 30-45 minutes about different possibilities, parts, styles and paint schemes. When I walked in the door I wasn't 100% sure I was going to leave it for a full restoration job but after talking with Dave and getting an estimate I went ahead and left Brownie in his hands. I don't expect to see any results in the next 2 months so I'm going to try and be patient. Dave has never been known to turn bikes around in a speedy time frame but his work is definitely worth the wait. Dave has restored an old Schwinn for Melinda and another bike for my youngest sister and both of those bikes were works of art. I am confident he will do an awesome job.

Yesterday while I was away at work Melinda traveled south to Asheville NC for some shopping with her Mom and Aunt. She has been on the hunt for a new rug for our living room for some time so I had already prepared myself to take a hit in the checking account for some time. When she returned home I was really surprised that the only $$$ that was spent was on me. I received 3 new bike mags and a 6 pack of New Belgium's 2 Below. I've been searching for 2 Below all winter and had heard a couple of weeks ago that this seasonal brew had made it's last batch. I had pretty much given up on finding any until she walked through the door with it. It was a glorious moment in our kitchen last night. Thank you sweetheart, your the best!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

KCX Cup - the video

Last weekend while racing cyclocross I brought along the Go Pro Camera. Originally I had planned to run the chest mount because the point of view would be so much better with all of the obstacles throughout the race, running through barriers, riding over downed telephone poles, muddy switchback hills and of course the PBR drinking stations. After mounting the chest strap up I realized that it interfered with my number plate and I switched back to the handlebar mount. I think I was more worried with what the rather strict officials might say than my number. In hindsight I shouldn't have worried about it since it was a no points, just for fun race.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the video, sorry for the smudge on the lens, I must have gotten it dirty during the pre-ride warmup.

2011 Kingsport Cyclocross Cup from Greg Carr on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

this ain't yer freakin' mama's bike race

It's been a little over two years now since I raced a cyclocross race but it didn't take long for me to remember how much it hurts. I decided to give it another shot this weekend since the organizers threw in a mountain bike class. There was no doubt in my mind that I was not ready for today's race but the entry fee was low, there were no points and there were no prizes. The rumor on the street is that it was a test to see if there would be enough racers to make it a permanent class in next year's MSG series. Hopefully our dreams will come true.

I owned a cyclocross bike for a couple of years but I never felt right dancing with it. The year before I bought my cx bike I raced my singlespeed mtn bike and loved it. I was convinced I needed a cx bike but it just wasn't the same and last spring I sold it to fund the AIR9 I raced today. Today that feeling returned, it definitely hurt, especially after the PBR hand ups Iron Man Dillow was handing out but it was still fun.

I only had one goal, not to get lapped by the lead CX4 guys who started a full minute ahead of us. The first lap I probably went out too hard but it was either go out hard or get left in the dust and Alan and Fat Tony were cutting me no slack the entire time.

I was surprised at the lack of barriers in the race, there were only two and one telephone pole laying diagonally across the course. I was able to cross the pole without dismounting but had to run the barriers. I was also surprised at how well I felt doing so, especially since it's been so long since the last time I did it. On lap number 2 I had so much mud in my cleats from running up a peanut buttery hill I struggled to get clipped in.

After the first lap I never saw the leaders again but then again they weren't stopping for mid lap refreshments.

The tough looking guy on the far right was the one shoving PBR's in our faces. Thanks Chris.
I hope that the good showing of fat tires today does bring the mtn bike class to the MSG series next year I would like to do this again. I don't think I will ever enjoy cx as much as mountain bike racing for a couple of reasons one being it doesn't last long enough and riding around in a field is not as exciting. It's all about how fast you can go for 30 - 45 minutes. The cool thing about cx racing is that the entire course is viewable, the spectators are everywhere and the heckling is too. I've never heard so much trash talk by people standing on the sidelines as I have at a cx race. In a mountain bike race you really only see the spectators at the start and finish line.
Next year I might actually buy a license, this could be fun. Thank you Melinda for taking the great pictures during the race.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

bringing the heat with fat tires

Once my headache cleared and the coffee lifted the fog my head was in, I decided to show the AIR9 a little attention today to make sure it's ready for the CX showdown tomorrow afternoon at the Kingsport Cyclocross Cup. Last night was a bit rough at work and I was dragging once I got up but thanks to a pot of coffee I pulled through.
I gave the drivetrain as good a cleaning as I could with a shop rag and lubed the chain. Then I removed the water bottle cages hoping the lack of hydration on the start line will intimidate some of the other racers, either that or make them not take me seriously. JK, I don't want them to get in the way through the barrier sections or whatever the organizers throw at us. I also gathered all my Go Pro gear together to shoot a little footage from the race. I mounted the handlebar mount up but I may end up going with the chest strap. I think the point of view from there is so much better.
I hope there is a good turnout for the fat tire kids, I would really like to see this class return full time next year. I was just checking the start time on and noticed the plan is to start us 1 minute after the CX4's. I'm really interested to see how that pans out. Will any of the mtn bike class catch the CX4's? Will the CX4 leaders lap us? Probably a little of both, but I'm anxious to see how well folks perform, especially myself after all this nasty weather. It's really hurt everyone's fitness, mine included.

In other racing news I secured Melinda and I a camping spot at Bandit's Roost for the 6 Hours of Warriors Creek coming up the first weekend in April. It appears that there will be a strong showing from the NTMBA crowd and the whole weekend will be full of festivities. If your in, come for the whole weekend and if you missed the boat, come out and hang with us anyway. Good times will be had no matter what. There are two other trailheads to ride while the race is going on.

Friday, January 14, 2011

a little bit of everything to get me by

I like most of you am sick of cold weather and snow but I have been making the most of what Mother Nature has given us. Cross training has been the word and I've been trying to be as creative as possible with it. We haven't gotten a lot of snow but we have got a consistant amount. We've seen snow on the ground for over a week and that's not normal for us. There has been alot of hiking but until today I haven't really felt like I was getting the workout I really wanted. I received a new Backpacking magazine in the mail yesterday and apparently there is a new weight loss fad where you can pay some guy to take you backpacking for a week in order to loose weight. I went into the gear/bike room grabbed an old pack loaded it up with a couple of weight and went on a good long hike with Melinda and the dogs and it worked excellently and didn't cost me a dime.

2011 is already looking up for me and the racing scene. I signed up for 2 races for the month of January. The first one is at the Kingsport Cup CX races this weekend here in Kingsport. The organizers have added a new class to the CX scene. One for those of us who like to race the fat tire bikes, yes a mountain bike class. There are no points and I doubt there will be any prizes not that I think I would win but at only a $10 entry fee and a chance to race against other mountain bikes instead of cyclocross bikes is enough for me. When I saw saw that there was a fat tire class it immediately peaked my interest. I was told that because of me asking for this class a few months back that this one race was a trial run for next years MSG series. I don't know that I actually sparked this, maybe Mr. CX was just telling me so to get me out there. Anyway I was told I had better show so nightshift or not I will be there, I'm paid up. I was really expecting the course to be nasty with all of the snow we've had lately but the word on the street is it's pretty dry and the sun is actually supposed to show itself.

My second race is a 10k run at my local state park, Warrior's Path. I've run this race before and had not given it much thought until Iron Man Dillow threw down the challenge to me and Fat Tony. Another good deal at $6 without the ugly t-shirt so I threw my hat into the ring again. I don't have anything planned for February or March but who know what may come up. My goal is to run a half marathon this year but I've not nailed down which one just yet. There are several local ones but the Nashville race looks like alot of fun just a bit pricey.

With Melinda out of school all week we finally had a chance to do a snow ride this week. We took a few pics and shot some video but I've not edited any footage.

See you Sunday

Sunday, January 9, 2011

yeah! I'm still here you PUNK!!!!!!

Wow I just realized it's been three whole weeks since my last post. I think it's been almost that long since I got to ride my bike and I'm getting cranky. I have a whole slew of excuses as to why I've been M.I.A. - work, sickness, nasty weather, work, the holidays, work, more sickness, more work and well not riding lately just doesn't give me much in the way of inspiration. I worked every holiday during the month of December and then some and I had a nasty head cold on top of that but once I saw my most recent paycheck that reflects all that overtime and holiday pay, it made it hurt just a little bit less. I think things at work are beginning to slow down and my head cold has finally left the building so I'm hoping to get out on the trails with something other than my hiking shoes. It doesn't appear that the weather is going to give us much in the way of relief anytime soon so I guess I'm going to have to suck it up and suffer through it. I was born and raised in Texas where we really didn't have much in they way of freezing winters so I'm a bit of a wuss when it drops into the teens and single digits.
Something else I've been slacking on is finishing up putting the new bling I got for Christmas on my bikes. I did install a new crankset on the JET but I slapped it on as fast as I could and haven't looked at it since so there are no cool pics. I've still got two new cassettes for the Niners to put on, I finally got a 36 tooth cassette for the JET and I'm anxious to see how that works out.
Probably one of the coolest things we got for Christmas is the dog's new collars from my family. Jackson and Moonshine both got collars from a cool little company called Cycle Dog.

Talk about a cool collar! They are actually made from recycled bike tubes which doesn't get all stanky when wet. Just touching their old collars would leave your hands smelling rank. The clasp is a latch lock system like an old school seat belt. The coolest thing about these collars in my opinion are the leash rings which are also a bottle opener. Never again will we be without a bottle opener on a camping trip. If you have a dog, ride bikes and enjoy refreshing beverages from time to time these are a must. Bikes, dogs and brew, what a winning combination.

Over the holidays my Dad asked me how to go about creating a blog. I was kinda surprised that he was interested so I pointed him in the right direction and now he's a full on blogger two posts into his journey. Check him out here, if you're into stocks and such.

Since I've been off the bike for what seems like an eternity I have been running and hiking to try and maintain my fitness. Not all of my running has been on the treadmill but alot of it has. I have snuck outside for runs here and there and it's amazing how much I struggle with a 40 minute run on the treadmill inside but I can run for an hour outside and the time just flies by. As much as I hate to admit it I'm glad we have the treadmill, it's kept me sane this month. I've also been throwing down some time on the spin bike whenever I get a chance and while it's much more comfortable than the trainer it's still an indoor workout than goes no where.

This morning I met up with Fat Tony, Richard, AC, and Ben at Steele Creek Park in Bristol to scout out a trail that is much need of some attention. We've been asked by the park to help fix another trail and of course we're excited about doing anything that will make those trails more rider friendly and hopefully get our foot in the door to building some new stuff. I woke up around 7:30 this morning and checked the temps in Bristol to find it was a whopping 6 degrees with a high that barely hit 30. We were supposed to ride the trails after our scouting trip but I decided to skip the ride rather torture myself with frozen digits. I did snap a few pics of our hike with my phone but it's really not much of a camera.

Tomorrow night will be my first meeting leading the charge as prez. of the mountain bike club. Fat Tony had enough and for some reason several people thought I would do good as his replacement. I'm not too sure about this and I'm kinda nervous about the first meeting but I guess I'll give it a shot. We've got alot of cool stuff on tap for this year. Our first board meeting had me feeling a bit scatter brained mainly because it was a bit of a brainstorming session for the events we would like to do this year, that and I was hopped up on cold meds that sometimes make me feel spacey.
If your in the area and have nothing to do tomorrow night around 7:30 come out to Beef O'Brady's in Gray just off the Boones Creek exit for a beer and some singletrack talk. We're always looking for new faces and people to ride with.
Enough of this I'm due for another mind bending indoor workout, see you tomorrow night fool.