Friday, December 1, 2017

Foto Friday

I am sitting in my office as freezing fog drifts past my window. November has just ended and while it sure seemed busy, I don't feel like I accomplished much. Short days, Thanksgiving, deer season, and all the standard family stuff all put a squeeze on our time.

At least my running miles are up.
Fall has given us a lot of great sunrises and sunsets though. Art on a grand scale painted by God. We all love them (just check the Instagram), attracted to them like a moth to a front porch light. Even the girl I passed on the drive home just a few days ago, trying to shoot a photo through her windshield of the sunset as she was apparently driving with her knees, changing lanes at 60 mph.

Art is all around us if we can take time to notice. In the simple things. In the grand things. And pizza.

Take a moment to throw a stick in to the river.

At least December 1 means that U2's Songs of Experience dropped. Go take a listen.

Thanks for checking in. D

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Twenty six years ago today, U2's Achtung Baby was released. Called one of the best albums of the 90's by Rolling Stone, it was certainly a groundbreaking album for U2, a decided difference from Rattle and Hum. I can honestly remember the day I picked up the CD (at School Kids Records) before meeting someone for dinner. Still listening to that album, even as I type this (and playing it loud since I am home alone).

It is almost Thanksgiving. November really sneaked up on me this year, based largely on the successful run the Alexander boy's varsity soccer team had. They made it to the top 8 in the state in division II (they are the smallest school in division II in the entire state). Though they did have a record setting season, they ended up matched against Columbus DeSales, a team that has won state (and would again this year) something like 18 times, and are ranked nationally. Our boys did a respectable job but did not advance. And a bit of cool trivia, the 1992 soccer team (that would be my senior year) played DeSales at the same level in the tournament on the same field with the same result.

Great season boys.
So back to Thanksgiving... November has been tough, to be honest. A week ago we laid off four people at work. The way it was done and the reason it was done are hard to swallow. These people were not just co-workers but friends. Two days after that was the anniversary of Eric's murder. I will never forget it, but it is hard to remember some days.

All that brings me to today. Shelly and B are in the C-bus to see the Wild Kratts show at the Ohio Theater before having dinner with M. E is gone too, spending the day with his grandpa and hunting buddy. E shot his first buck with a bow last night. An old deer that he has been patterning and watching for a couple years now. He is an 8 pointer with a sticker near the brow, sunk in forehead and bulging nose, and is missing his left eye. Anyway, he shot him late afternoon. We let him go a while before looking for him as to not just push him off. But that also meant finding him in the dark and dragging him in.

Hunting buds.
All this left me home alone. I got some work done early so I could get out on the singlespeed. The weather was grey and wet but unseasonably warm and windy (a cold front is moving through right now). The singlespeed on low maintenance roads is a great way to get a really hard workout, see some Appalachian back country, not see many cars, and blow off a bunch of stress mashing up sometimes 15%+ grades. As I rode through a small "town" in Vinton Co I saw a church sign:

Thanks Living
Thanksgiving (and thankfulness) is hard some times. Thanks living even harder. So live thankfully today because tomorrow, who knows what will happen and you need to be ready to handle it with grace, love, faith, and joy. Even when it sucks.

Single speeds and wet weather - like peanut butter and jelly, they just go together.

Monday, October 30, 2017

So long, October

I still plan to get to the log of summer time posts, but here is a quick one to close out October. I ended up with a bonus day (well actually, it was just that I forgot that Friday was parent teacher conferences and that Shelly had to work but the boys were out of school so I had to take the day off kind of bonus day). After Shelly finished up, I loaded the Monocog on the car to have lunch with the fam before heading out to find some back roads, fall foliage, and some dirt. Traffic was terrifically low being the middle of the afternoon, on secondary roads, and no school buses running. The wind was stiff (about 12 mph sustained out of the south) but warm in the low 70's. Along the way to the Zaleski State Forest and Lake Hope State Park, I road through the King Tunnel (old rail road tunnel). Once to the lake, I decided that single track would be more fun than the road around. I followed the lake trail around from the furnace to the beach. Just prior to exiting the trail I hit the ground hard while rolling across one of the wooden bridges. The bridge was wet and covered in leaves. I had to collect myself a bit before continuing on, knowing that I had at least 25 miles to go to get home and I didn't want to stiffen up. I took the Moonville Rail Trail in to Zaleski and up Atkinson Ridge before heading out of the state forest toward the horse camp. By the time I got to Albany, the traffic was picking up, I was unprotected from the steady head wind, and I was starting to hurt. I didn't make it all the way home before Shelly picked me up. Still, almost 50 miles with 4k feet of climbing on the singlespeed.

Somewhere in Vinton Co.

The King Tunnel

Along the lake trail at Lake Hope State Park
The crash left me bruised and with a few scrapes. It was nice to get out for a long ride so late in October. I finished the day with a trip back in to Athens with Ethan for a reception for one of the mechanics at Athens Bicycle. Along the way I passed the Albany PD who was sitting in the median of the highway (where he often does and this being the Athens block party weekend, I would have been surprised had he not been there). I looked down and I was tooling along at 62 (in the 60). I didn't think another thing of it. I had just been passed by about 3 vehicles between the Rt 50 interchange and where he was, as I often do. I noticed he pulled out after we went by. Then I saw lights. I honestly assumed he was pulling someone else over but ended up sticking on my bumper.  I stopped. The officer asked for my license, insurance, and registration which I handed to him. He then said that he was stopping me for going 79 mph in a 60! I almost laughed. I told him I found that very difficult to believe and even admitted to going 62. He let me off with a warning and told me to get my speedometer checked after admitting he thought it was a white SUV that he clocked (we were in a white Scion XB). Watch out as you drive through Albany.

Spun U2's October on the turntable. Seemed appropriate.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Today marks 4 months since last writing. That is a lot of work, vacation, biking, music, soccer games, and so on and on. I will slowly try to catch up on some of the events and such, but not all in this post. So just like the old testament, posts in the next days/weeks will likely be in somewhat non-chronological order.

But first, this past weekend was my birthday (and therefore the birthday of my dad and a good friend). I have some use it or lose it PTO at work. Like all good white collar workers, I dream of adventures through mountains and rivers. What a good excuse to go do something epic. Or, when the reality of scheduling around work, church, family, soccer, and sleep happens then adventure takes a back seat, or at least changes in its description from bike-packing through the Monongahela National Forest to donuts and coffee while on a short motorcycle ride. Or riding my mountain bike to A town to meet others for a short single-track ride. Or heading out for a burger and listening to the Jim Miller Band cover the G-Dead.

An Americano at the Spot on Main, Jackson, OH
One other stop on my list for some time is the fire tower on Atkinson Ridge in the Zaleski State Forest. If you look closely out the back of the Lake Hope lodge, just slightly west of south, you can see the tower peak above the tree tops. We loaded up in the truck for a drive out to climb the tower and see the view. Nice drive out or if you decide to pedal out (which I would recommend) be prepared for a leg burner to the ridge top.

Look out below.

Way out there you can see the lodge.

Do so at your own risk.
In music related news, Haffa's Records in Athens closed its doors at the end of September. Kind of sad in a sentimental way. I can't remember Haffa's not being there (mostly because I was a year old when they opened). But I made a few vinyl purchases before they closed shop.  I have been enjoying Ash & Ice by the Kills. Alison and Jamie just go together like PB&J. Strong female vocals with creative guitar riffs just seals it.

The Kills - Ash & Ice

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


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.

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

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.


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.


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.


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

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.