Tuesday, November 27, 2012

thanksgiving mischief

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone, my Christmas tree is already up, I've made a Christmas play list on iTunes and the shopping for presents has begun. What's that got to do with riding? Nothing really but I feel as if that's all that's been going on in my hood, not much riding at all.

Melinda's been off the bike due to a procedure she had a week ago and my lower back has been a mess so I'm pretty much taking this time as time to try and get all healed up and stuff. I've been plagued with back pain for a couple of months now and I'm afraid it means I'm in serious need to make some changes in my life style. It sucks yes but at least this isn't happening during the peak of the warm weather riding season.

Whether I like it or not I made the decision to put gears back on the FROG, I don't like it and I don't think it's the cause behind my pain but I realize it's definitely not good for getting better. Will I ever go back to one effing gear? I don't know right now, hopefully yes but it won't be anytime soon. Right now even riding gears hurts, basically anything that puts stress on my back hurts.

I'm officially taking the rest of this week off the bike and seeing how I feel this weekend. What I am doing is anything that doesn't bother my back. So far that's been hiking, yoga, push ups & pull ups. I can still stay in shape and get in a good workout without pain so I'm feeling positive.

Thanksgiving, my entire family made the trek into NE TN and we had a good time hanging out, eating too much and shooting guns.

 My Dad has started quite the gun collection and he brought them all in for our annual Thanksgiving turkey shoot. No turkeys were harmed in this event, no animals were harmed. There was one certain dog that almost got shot accidentally when we didn't realize he had gone into the tall grass behind the target area.

Our victims? About 4 to 5 cases of cheap, brightly colored soda and some random aging furniture we found in my brother in law's shed.

We shot all kinds of guns from .22 rifles, .38 pistols an SKS and a few other big pistols.

It took some prodding but I finally got Melinda to join us this year. She would only shoot the .22 rifle but she was pretty good at it.
 I would have hated to be one of the neighbors while this was all going down. I seriously hope we didn't ruin any Thanksgiving dinners or post turkey naps.

Oops I almost forgot, I did take Ocho on his first trail ride yesterday. I was anxious to see how well my mechanic skills are coming along when I put the gears back on the FROG so I took it and Ocho out to Warriors for a test run and some much needed puppy exercise. How did he do? Terrible, but that's to be expected, he's never seen me on a bike other than the back yard and he's only 6 months old. It was a short ride, less than 3 miles with a long swim break halfway through at the lake. As long as I stayed in front of him everything was good but put him out front and the hound in him slows down every 50 feet to see what that smell was.

Hopefully I'll have riding stories to tell after this weekend, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the longest day

As the work week rolled on last week I started taking mental notes of all the things I needed to do. Chores around the house before winter sets in, ride my bike, trail work, meetings about trails, ride my bike, etc.... The list kept getting longer and longer, my days off were suddenly seeming busier than the days I was working. Have you ever heard the term, "I have to go to work to get any rest?" I do it to myself really, there is so much to do and so much more that I want to do.
Early in the week my friend Brad shot me a text message saying he wanted to ride Friday, rides with Brad don't come often because he's always running ultra endurance races so I jumped at the chance. I already had an appointment at Bays with some flagging tape and an idea of some new trail so I told him to meet me there around 10:30, giving me plenty of time to squeeze in a ride before the flagging began.
Oh wait, that would mean me being gone all day for 5 days in a row leaving the dogs cooped up in the house. I decided I had better take them on a hike before I meet Brad to ride. I guess this means no need for a workout on Friday.
Just to add to the mayhem, Thursday night Melinda announced she wanted to do a night ride at Warriors Friday evening. Night rides with Melinda are something you definitely don't pass on. How many girls do you know that ride their bikes in the woods after the sun goes down? Very few my friend, very few.
Despite the chilly temperatures Friday morning the dogs decided it wasn't too cold to play in the creek. You gotta love dogs.
On my first ride of the day at Bays, Brad and I decided we would explore some of the outer trails of the park neither of us had been on. There are several old homesteads in the back country at Bays Mountain. Just looking at the old structures makes your mind wonder what life was like back then. What did they do for fun? There is nothing out there except trees and rocks.
Several of the old houses are still standing, some just barely and some maybe just a portion of a wall or two. Some still have insulation in the form of old newspaper glued to the walls.
There are a couple of waterfalls out there, none of which I had seen, the further out you go the more interesting the riding becomes. We didn't ride the entire trail, after a certain point we were hiking more than riding our bikes. The area has alot of potential for some great riding, it just needs a little work and TLC.
Thinking that the flagging would be a good opportunity for Ocho to get some more exercise I took him with me and left him in the truck while I rode. When I got back to change out of riding clothes and into hiking clothes I found that Ocho had needed to go and hadn't used the time I gave him wisely. He dropped the biggest, stinkiest bomb in the back of my truck, wow was it rank! I guess the puppy in him overrides his need to relieve himself and his attention gets turned to "ooh what's that bug" or "hey there's a stick". Thank goodness there wasn't much in the back of my truck and I have a removable mat that can be pulled out and hosed down.
We got a good amount of trail flagged but the terrain is hard to work with and I'll have to go back and walk it down a couple more times to make sure it doesn't turn into a switchback nightmare. I've already thought of 3 or 4 changes that need to be made.
On the way home Ocho crashed hard, I was feeling the same but I needed to get home refuel and get lights ready for ride #2.
Saturday was no different, go go go from the minute my feet hit the floor. I woke up ridiculously early, before 6am on a Saturday and rather than toss and turn I went ahead and got up and headed down to the donut shop for fuel for the day's trail work.
We had a project planned to do some much needed maintenance to one of the trails at Bays Mountain. Donuts always bring a smile to the dedicated volunteers who show up early on a Saturday morning to give back to their local trails. Without these folks none of us would be riding. Think about that the next time you have nothing going on, on a Saturday morning and instead of heading out to a trail workday, you decide to sleep in or go for a ride somewhere else.
We had a good crowd, alot of new folks who were excited about learning what it takes to build trails.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DS part 1: the ride

I'm going to do the best I can to write about our adventures at the Dirty South this year without making anyone jealous that they did not attend. Warning if you are already envious that you didn't get to go STOP reading now. We had a blast and everything was fun so reading this post will only make you angry.

We got any early start to the day Saturday to make sure we got there on time and scored a good parking place. We made it it to Knoxville in record time and I apologize to anyone who was following me if they felt like we drove too fast. I get a bit excited about singletrack fun filled days followed up with a good ole fashioned par-tay.

We had a good sized group, just large enough that our presence was known but not too small that we felt like the odd balls cause we didn't know anyone. Actually we caught up with several people we knew and a few new friends we meet at the Big South Fork camping trip back in September.

We pulled into a back corner of the camping area and laid our claim, set-up camp and basically just chilled out until the festivities began. Actually we commenced to starting the festivities as soon as we got there.

Another camping trip in the books for Ocho and he was really digging it. Normally the Knoxville events include canon fire late into the night that scares the crap out of my dogs but it didn't faze Ocho one bit. Moonshine on the other hand was shaking like a leaf. We kept them separated as best we could so that Ocho wouldn't pick up on her bad habits. So far so good.

As we were hanging out, un-packing and digging through cooler something bright and rainbow colored caught my eye. A tool box sitting on the ground between mine and Damon's cars that had some serious old school airbrush artwork all over it. The only thing it lacked was a Unicorn with star bursts popping all around it as it flew through the sky. BMX STYLIN' fer sho.

I had the GoPro set up and ready to go with full intentions of filming the ride and post ride activities but that fell through the cracks as I began suiting up. I just wasn't in the mood to fool with a camera all day. I just wanted to concentrate on the ride and having fun.

We opted for the advanced ride, not because we're advanced riders but more because it was the longest ride. It started out as a group of 60 plus so I knew it would break up quick. It was one of the better organized rides I've been on in a while with several ride leaders, sweepers and people stopping at every turn, making sure we all went the right way.

The Dirty South trail system, a group of around 4 or 5 trail systems all linked together via a couple of neighborhoods has had a few miles of trail added since the last time I rode it. Alot new, cool and fun stuff to ride climb and roll over, those kids in Knoxville know how to do it right. We would pop in and out of the woods in the weirdest of places, people's front yards, backyards, elementary schools and an old rock quarry. It is definitely a different experience than anything I'm used to.

Probably about halfway through our ride the ride leaders broke us up intentionally as we were getting pretty strung out when things pointed up hill. Our group decided to stick with the 2nd group and opt for a more relaxed pace that allowed us to take advantage of beverage stops and the scenery.

I'm not sure how the residents feel who's property the trails cross think of a bunch of lycra wearing dudes drinking beer in front of their house. Nobody seemed upset by our presence and we tried to behave ourselves and not pee on any bushes or leave any empties on the curb.

What was supposed to be the "Dirty Thirty" ended up being more like the "Dirty Twenty", a large portion of the trail system was closed due to hunting season, kind of a bummer but by the end of the ride my legs were ready to call it a day and the free Red Hoptober trailer was calling my name.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dirty South Part 2: the par-tay

Back to the story I was telling, we finished our ride, made a bee line for the New Belgium trailer which was already flowing, grabbed a Red Hoptober and headed back to camp to freshen up a bit. We didn't have any running water or anything so the closest we got to a shower was a box of baby wipes.

Baby wipes really only get you clean to a certain point, that certain sticky feeling just never really leaves but driving home and missing the post ride shindig just wasn't going to happen.

First things first we hit the food which was a pretty nice spread and did I mention, it was free! Then back to the NB trailer for a refill. Once the sun went down and the bonfires were lit the real action got underway. There was live music, not just a DJ which had been going for a while. The AMBC evidently has a few members who are in bands. There were 3 in the line up, each one a bit different from the rest.

The first band, I can't remember their name, was certainly out there, they were a 3 piece band that played 80's cover songs but with their own twist. The lead singer sounded like he was in pain but he sang with such confidence and swagger that I couldn't help but not like them. Most people around me thought they were terrible but the longer I listened to them the more I liked them. Call me weird, if you heard them, but I guess it was the artist in me that found something about them enjoyable.

The second band Stolen Sheep I'd heard before, probably one of the better bands of the night but not really anything that got people out dancing. Everyone seemed to enjoy them, good ole fashion rock is my best description.

The last band, Big Bad Oven, was probably my favorite, another 3 piece band with a saxophone, some sort of lap guitar, (I'm not familiar with) and a drum set. This band definitely got the crowd moving, dancing and even a semi mosh pit formed during one song. The energy was high and there was definitely plenty of beer flowing and with many pumpkins sitting around for decoration none were safe. I'm not sure how many got smashed but you couldn't walk within 20 foot of the stage with out stepping in pumpkin. I feel sorry for the folks who had to clean it up.

Anthony & Melinda getting down.

The hard core STC crew who refused to go to bed early or hit the road back to the Tri like some of the others.

More pumpkin smashing and dancing.

Late into the night a small rain storm crept in unannounced and sent everyone running for cover. Most of the STC crew headed back for cover at camp but once we got there we realized the one EZ-UP in the bunch was being used to keep Todd & Tracy's truck bed, sleeping arrangements dry. We all squeezed in around the edges hoping it wouldn't last long. Todd realized Tracy hadn't come back yet so he conned me into going with him to look for her. What we found were her, Damon & Steve under a nice awning provided by the local taco truck eating giant burritos. We decided this was a much better option so we gave a shout to the rest of the crew and waited out the storm eating burritos the size of a small child.

Some pumpkin bowling

One of the local bike shops, TVB or Tennessee Valley Bicycles, provided a free breakfast for those who camped. Cowboy coffee and mimosas were on tap, the cowboy coffee took a bit getting used to. The first few sips were a bit crunchy but after I got past that part it was pretty good.

The carnage

Probably one of the best nights I've had in a long time, I'm definitely putting it on my calendar for next year.