Friday, June 23, 2017

Sideways on Sidewinder

Binging isn't just for college kids. The middle aged, middle class guy with kids also finds himself binging, though in my case, it is on two wheels. So little extra time during the week can turn in to a binge of miles on a Saturday morning. Example, last week. I got some time on Saturday and headed on on my mountain bike. I packed enough food for 4+ hours and roughly planned a route that we allow me to refill water bottles about half way. I ended up riding out to Lake Hope on as much back road as I could fit. Once I arrived and looked at the time, I figured I had enough time to do a quick loop of some trails before turning around and heading back home. I did not bother to adjust my tire pressure, instead just thought I would take it easy knowing that I had a couple more hours riding ahead of me. About a half mile in, I rolled over a root that was across the trail, a root I have rolled over dozens of times. Except, this time, it pitched me sideways a bit. Now, not only was I moving slowly, so momentum wasn't working for me, I also had new tires with too much pressure. This turned in to a foot dab. Problem, there wasn't any ground under my foot. Some recent rains had eroded some of the trail, leaving a web of tree roots with nothing below them. Parts of me fell through the web leaving me scrapped and bruised. I ended up taking a connector out to the road and heading south.



Maybe I could totally blame the air pressure. But while it was a factor, a bigger part is that I haven't spent a lot of time on the trails this year so my skills are a little rusty. And too few miles on the legs mean they are a little tired on long days.

We salvaged the day with a trip to Athens for some tacos and walking around the green. Uptown is pretty OK during the summer when it isn't focused on college aged bingers.




Thursday, June 1, 2017

Distress

May, that month each year with so many hopes: big races, end of school, longer days, mother's day, birthdays. And like each year, that list has too many things when combined with normal stuff like working, mowing, church, family stuff. Not saying that these things aren't good things. I wouldn't want to skip mother's day or boy #1 or boy#2's birthdays. We have been working really hard at the office to get a new development program going and with the last layoffs, this meant me pulling double duty many days. We even got to celebrate and friend's wedding. Good things, but all this did put a big hurtin' on bike time. At the time of year when my weekly/monthly totals/goals are increasing, I lost 100 miles this May to April instead of gaining. And, it all ended with a sinus infection and respiratory distress following a week of allergy problems from grass pollen counts that were higher than the rating system they use to count the pollen. I still can't get through a night without waking up to a coughing fit however, I no longer feel like I have been kicked in the head, so that is positive.

Isn't the saying that April shower's bring May flowers? It sure seems like it rained a lot in May. But hey, rainbows.

Double rainbow with lots of wires.


And there was great weather for the Ohio State Road Race p/b Team Athens Cycling out at Lake Hope State Park. I worked registration and did not race. Here the afternoon classes were staged to head out. And as cool as this is, even cooler were the two junior racers, both girls, one U10 and one U12 that headed out for a full lap of this 20 mile course with two big climbs. Bravo ladies!

A whole bunch of grown men with shaved legs.
Did I mention it rained? Trails really struggled to dry out. Most of them were in great, tacky shape. Until it wasn't and became a big mud hole.

Mud.
This was a very brave moth as three cats sat on the porch with their eyes locked on kill.

Luna.
Not all mud. This road is so cool. One lane, grass growing up the middle. Cows on one side and hay field the other. Out here, gravel riding isn't a fad. It is just riding the roads.

Hay and grass pollen.
The wedding was held at the Wagnalls Library in Lithopolis, Ohio. Really cool place. The bride did a a lot of fun stuff like table assignments on library cards, old books stacked on the tables, an old register used as the guest book, a food truck outside to order eats, and so on. It was also great to see some friends that we haven't seen for too long.

Selfie.

Friends.
Love your family and friends. Cherish your time regardless of political bents. Life can be short.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

My head spinning is

Well, it is May 4th, you know Star Wars Day. And this means I survived April. Though my head is still spinning.

Boy #1 graduated from Ohio University with a BS in Computer Science. That also means he has to move out of one apartment, temporarily to another, and on to a third temporary one in Columbus for a 3 month internship. Add in commencement and a dinner party for the family all one the same weekend as Boy #2 headed to his high school prom. Boy #3, well, he was happy trying to catch frogs and snails in the pond at Emeritus Park while photos were being taken.

Boy #1

Boy #2

Boy #3
It also means we survived another Easter. A weekend of church and family activity leaving you ready to collapse by the end of Sunday with kids on candy rushes. But, try to get a photo of a bunch of kids and a dog.

Say cheese. At least Boy #2 was looking.

I got to spend some time with this lady though. And that makes my head spin in a good way.


She still likes to hold my hand. 
Oh, and there was that day when some trash lit some trash (a mattress and tire among it) on fire in the edge of the woods at the corner of the road. I did what I could, but ultimately the Columbia Twp fire department came and hosed it down before it spread in to the acres of pines.



I think I rode my bike some too. And got a new pair of proper fitting running shoes (from OVRC, check them out if you haven't. great folks). Have run a few times but still fighting that darned hamstring. As a side note, it is remarkable how much pain you can induce with a foam roller!



On to the music. What's spinning? This is the year of big anniversaries. U2's The Joshua Tree (arguably the best rock and roll album, ever) turns 30 while Radiohead's OK Computer turns 20. I don't think either of those albums need any explanation. Where the Streets Have No Name is an all time favorite of mine and Paranoid Android is what got me listening to Radiohead.



April 22 was also record store day. I stopped in at Haffa's in uptown Athens and they actually had the limited record store day release of the remastered 30th anniversary Red Hill Mining Town on 45 rpm 12" picture disc. I was a lucky guy that day.



So yeh, my head is still spinning and not only because allergies make me dizzy. But, as long as I don't read any of the comments section of news articles (the news is bad enough, the comments make me mourn for humanity) I am a happy man.

Keep spinning.

D


Saturday, April 1, 2017

What's Spinning

Besides cycling, one of my other passions is music. Both listening to and playing it. So instead of sharing my political views like it seems everyone else on the Internet is doing, I thought I would start sharing my music. So, what's spinning:

Gary Clark Jr. - The Story of Sonny Boy Slim

I really appreciate Gary Clark Jr.'s style here. He seems to be excellent at knowing what NOT to play. So many very talented guitarists can play complex, fast, etc., here, he knows how to let the songs breathe, how to groove. The Healing, with just a few single overdriven guitar notes through the verse is exactly what the song needs. Simple guitar rhythm on Church lets his voice come through.  The repeated riff on Wings, and that bass line on Cold Blooded! The album should have your head bobbing through most of the tracks, unless your head bobber is broken.

And speaking of what's spinning, or as the case was, not spinning...



If you have a full size Chevy truck and find yourself pulling in to your driveway and thinking, hmmm,is the neighbor burning trash? Well it may just be your back brakes. This isn't the first time this has happened. The caliper pad carrier rusts and locks the pads in place. Then the pads drag so much that the wheel gets too hot to touch.

On a closing, cycling note, I got out for a ride today. Actually two rides. I headed out and got caught by high water. A quick check of my phone and there was a text from Jase that he and Ryan were heading out. Back home, a cup of coffee and loaded in the truck. All in, about 45 miles of back roads with over 4700 feet of climbing. Garmin says I cooked through over 2800 calories.

Keep rocking.

D

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Gravel Rouser

For anyone not familiar with the infamous Gravel Rouser, it is a 4 day stage "race" in the Athens area sponsored by Athens Bicycle. (I put race in quotes because while it is somewhat competitive, it is kind of like in Whose Line Is It Anyway, the points don't really matter). This would be the fourth year in a row that I planned to attend all four events, racing where I could, helping where I could, and riding the rest. If you enjoy riding your bike in a semi-competitive environment,with a not-too serious attitude, with some level of a party atmosphere, in March when you can get wet and cold and muddy, then you really need to put this on your calendar.

Thursday - Escape the Asylum
Thursday's stage was a cyclocross race at the Ridges, that is, the old Athens Lunatic Asylum. The property is now owned by Ohio University, but back in its day, was well know for lobotomies. It was open from 1874 until 1993. Perhaps one of the better known residents was Billy Milligan. The facility has a fascinating and depressing history. Anyway, Joey set up a pretty dandy course around the grounds that included grass, broken walkways, and some brick roads. Unlike a true CX race, there were not any barriers or steps. Still a fun one mile lap. Under clear skies and cold temperatures  I started in the middle somewhere and it only took about a lap for everyone to find there spot. I managed to overtake a few riders on the course with my singlespeed Monocog. After first banging bars with Ryan Curtiss, he sat in behind me for a few laps finding where he was faster. With about 1-1/2 laps left, he passed in one of those spots and I was unable to get back around. Finished 5th (Fun fact: Blood tastes like metal because of its iron content. Some studies also show that intense exercise can increase pressure on the lungs, which allows red blood cells to leak into air sacs, possibly causing that metallic taste. The first hard effort of the years can hurt.)

Around the old heating plant.

Friday - Basswood Time Trial
And the rains came. Friday's event was a downhill time trial. I am not fast going downhill. I mentioned to one of the young riders that I have to go to work the next week. Plus, I volunteered to be the starting timer which meant I got to pull down the flagging on my way down the hill so I had a good excuse to go slow. And it rained. The trails were slick, It was cold. I even went to the local sporting goods store and bought a rain jacket. Everything I had was covered in some degree of mud bu the finish. At least there was some food and beers at the shop afterwards. This one night was about the social aspect of riding far more than the racing.

A nice sunrise to start the day.

Saturday - The Gravel Rouser Classic
Saturday cleared up, some, kind of. The temperatures were a little more mild, but it started foggy, a brief rain shower, a little sun at one point and ended cloudy with increasing winds. I helped get the group of 63 riders out of town and through the major intersections. Then it was grinding out the back road miles via King Hollow to Lake Hope. There, most riders headed up Irish Ridge where they would join the trail at the 4 way and compete in a XC time trial. I headed up the reverse way to make part of the course and finish time for the race. I am happy to help but standing in the woods for an hour + sure zaps the legs for the ride back to Athens. After timing, we headed to the snack stop. This year it even included some Ridge Runner coffee! I pounded a cup and put some more in one of my bottles for the ride back via Moonville and another long climb back in to Athens Co. I think I ended up with around 45 miles, while races put in more. The event ended at Jackie O's taproom where there would be Kiser's BBQ waiting.


Ready to roll out.

Somewhere near King tunnel.

Great group of guys to ride with.

Sunday - Grab n Git
So this used to also be a doughnut party. That was nixed this year in favor of grilled burgers/dogs/chips. I was sad. The Grab n git is a ride through the city of Athens to find various checkpoints and perform whatever test or task they had for the riders. The route is free and open, up tot he riders to figure out the best way. I have to say I started out flying. That was, until I couldn't find the second checkpoint. To make up for lost time, I ended up riding up Terrace Drive, a climb that was once included in Bicycle magazine's 100 best local climbs. I managed to gain back about half of my lost time and came in to the finish at 4th place. But, since the score is also dependent upon the scores at each stop, and since I was the unluckiest rider in the top 5, I dropped to 5th overall.

Finishing also meant I received another Wolfman Award (given to though that finsih all 4 events).

The Wolfman Awardees
My bikes are still muddy and I am still tired. Can't wait until next year.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Winter Updates

So winter can do a pretty good imitation of spring. February was unseasonably warm. It didn't boost the number of miles on the bikes that much, rather it did mean less of riding on rollers. Plus I was trying to get over the pain in my left leg (hamstring) and knee. The knee has generally healed up but I continue to fight tightness and pain in my hamstring. Oh well, on to better things!

First up, a new guitar. I have been 6 string electric-less for years now, only playing my basses and acoustic instruments. But with a change in team members at church, the opportunity has opened up for me to fill in that role some. Plus, I have been wanting another electric almost since I got rid of my last one. I often stop in Blue Eagle Music in Athens anytime I happen to walk by since you never know for sure what might be hanging on the wall. Well, one day, this was.


I think I went back up two or three more times before bringing it home. Good deal, great guitar, and I am having fun. It is a 2014 MIM (made in Mexico) Fender Telecaster, sunburst with a maple fretboard.  Of course, now I might need an amp, hmmmm. I also picked up a b-stock Ibanez JD9 (Jet Driver) overdrive pedal off of Reverb. I like the pedal, maybe a little higher gain than I need but plenty of head room. However, apparently they did a couple different board layouts for these. This one pops loudly through the amp when tuned on/off. Turns out the LED light causes it. I added a resistor and capacitor to the circuit to limit the pop which helped a lot. Still not exactly a silent switch.

Just to show that I wasn't making up the whole warm February thing, I present Brock, eating bagels on the college green in short sleeves.


A highlight of February is always our wedding anniversary. This year, after once again not going to the mountains, I made reservations at Pleasant Hill Vineyards. On Saturday evenings they do a multi-course meal. When I called, they mentioned some of the menu which included pasta and meatballs. I have to admit I was a little worried that either 1) it would be a pretentious gathering or 2) the food would be mediocre. However, neither would be true. Oh, there was this one table of folks that drank too much and were less than classy in their obnoxiousness, but we enjoyed a great dinner (the food was excellent and there was plenty of it). I highly recommend attending one of their meals if you are looking for a way to celebrate something special. For more information, check them out http://www.pleasanthillvineyardsllc.com/.

Table for two.

Since I wasn't crushing the miles, I hauled and shoveled almost 4 tons of crusher run for the driveway. Amazing how much that feels like a shovel at a time and how little it really is spread over an 8th mile long driveway.

One of two loads.
I did get to ride a little bit, and even got back on my single speed. It felt good, so good. All before the rains came as March roared in like a lion.

A dry and sunny February gravel road ride.

Work parking lot full of water and the grass covered with snow. Well played March.
And in closing, here is a picture of Ryan with a big cup.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Over Use

Over use. Rather a funny concept since sometimes it doesn't mean doing too much in total volume but rather just a sudden increase in volume. Case in point.



As a cyclist I am in above average aerobic condition. But 1) out of concern for bone strength 2) for cross training and 3) because I really like soccer I decided to get back in to playing if only with the high school during their weekly open gym indoor sessions. So a couple weeks ago I decided to start some weight training targeting my legs and core. The same week I started running again. Then played soccer. I was sore and my left hamstring was really tight. The next week I lifted again but did not have the chance to run. Then I got out on a single speed ride (about 3 hours) with a good amount of climbing. Left me wrecked. So of course I went to indoor soccer again.  Part way in to the first match I could tell something was wrong. I tried to work through it but the pain only got worse. Then I had the idea to move to goalie (which only netted me a severely stubbed finger). Not long until I found myself sitting in the gym hallway with a bag of ice on my knee.



Pes anserine bursitis. Great. The risk factors list was like a check list (except for the obesity part). Now almost a week later I still hurt, cannot run, and looks like at least another week off. And I still can't get my ring off over the swollen knuckle.



Good thing the weather hasn't been that good for riding outside. This makes me feel old. My body at 42 sure doesn't respond the same way to physical stress as it used to. Now I just need to figure out how to heal up and get in shape for the Gravel Rouser (March 16-19).

By the way, please consider supporting the Athens Bicycle Club as they support the building of lots of miles of trails at Wayne National Forest. Plus by supporting you get a chance to win a sweet bike.


Monday, January 16, 2017

2016 review

I've heard it called a train-wreck. I've heard it called great. Or it could well be it was just another year, like the ones before it. Time doesn't change since the heart of man hasn't changed. And just like the past year(s), many plans were unfulfilled, changed, and corrected while a few were realized. So here is my quick review of the previous year, specifically relating to the subject of this blog.

Stats: nearly 2000 miles, 146 hours, 102k feet of climbing. Not the biggest year, but certainly not the smallest. Though, it does not include the many trips from the office to the Farmacy or Fluff for lunch. And that adds up. It is about 6 miles round trip, slightly more to Fluff. I had been doing that 2-3 times a week when the weather was better. Not that riding to get a slice of pie is training, but it is riding none the less.

Highlights: Another Wolfman Award, first cyclocross race, some new roads, annual trip to Davis, WV. That's about it. No big multi-day rides. No centuries. No records. No new bikes. No new tattoos. No injuries. I didn't even race the two local races (road and mountain at Lake Hope) instead, volunteered at each event. But I would hardly call it a train wreck. Just another year of enjoying riding a bike. Another year of enjoying old friends and making a few new ones. Some cool photos were taken along the way. Some good food and great coffee were consumed.

With that, here is a selection of some of my favorite photos from the year, in no particular order, either because of the photo itself (color, lighting, composition) or because of what the photo captured. Some have appeared on the blog in the past year, some have not.