Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Me and Goodbye 2010...


Well, I didn't think I would have the time to post anything up on the blog today but I happened to wake up earlier than expected.

Today is my birthday.  I plan on spending it by doing a little road ride with the Murfreesboro Bicycle Club and then my parents should be in to town.  Probably hit dinner at the Loveless Cafe (best biscuits in the world) and maybe head out for a few drinks before retiring for the night.  I'm not really into going out for New Years anymore.  The drinks are overpriced, the bars are crowded with people who don't drink enough to control themselves and I have a case of beer and a bottle of whiskey at home that will do just fine for me!

Having my birthday on New Years Eve has always been pretty cool.  For one, I was a huge tax right off for my folks.  Also, growing up, I always thought everyone was throwing a birthday party for me all around the world!  Most importantly, having my birthday on New Years Eve has always given me an appreciation for the things that passed during that year.

I have many things to be thankful for as this year ends and I get to celebrate my 25th year on this planet.  I have met one of my biggest goals by dropping a lot of weight.  Over the last nine months, I have dropped nearly 70 pounds.  This has been a huge improvement to my riding ability and my overall health!  Also during this last year, I have finished first place in 8 races and I've been on the podium 10 times!  This is something I never thought I see!


 

Another awesome experience of 2010 was moving back to Tennessee.  My wife and I had been hoping that opportunity would come available for a long time and when it did, we were pleased.  Moving back to Tennessee has helped me to meet some really great people and start fresh.  My wife has been a huge support of everything I've done in the last year.  She has worked and given me the opportunity to take some time off before going back to school.  I cannot express enough about how much I love her!


Another privilege of the year was working with David LaRoche on his election bid to become a State Representative.  This opportunity gave me a lot of awesome experience working on campaigns.  But most of all, I got the opportunity to work with a really great guy who believes in our community and regardless of the outcome of this election, he will continue to help strengthen our community!

LaRoche Campaign Headquarters
So, there have been many great things about this last year.  Yes, I added three more bikes to my collection but that is not what is most important.  What is most important is the people I know.  With out them, I would not be as pleased as I am.  Today, I will go on my bike ride with friends.  Tonight I will go to dinner with my family.  At midnight, I will raise my glass to you all!  Thank you for such a great year and I look forward to our next!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Something New...

I was schmoozin' around Facebook yesterday and came across yet another video of a CX race I did this season.  This is one of the best put together videos I have seen of our local race series.  Anyhow, I make my cameo appearance at minute 1:17.  Watch and enjoy!



As for the other things going on in my life, I hit the trails at AEDC again on Tuesday with my buddy Koonce.  There was still some snow covering about 50% of the trail and the rest was starting to get a little soupy.  The one nice thing about AEDC is how well it drains.  I didn't feel too guilty riding a wet trail considering most of the trail is covered in pine needles and we weren't leaving any ruts.  However, considering the possible conditions if we chose to ride a second lap, we ended our ride after one loop.  Overall, my body is feeling pretty good on the mountain bike.  I think I'm going to be somewhat ready for the Snake Creek Gap TT that is coming up next weekend.  I am officially registered!  This will be my first year racing this series.  I know I'm in the best shape I've ever been but I'm still haunted by all the stories I hear from everyone about how difficult this course is.  Regardless, I will suck it and ride!


Not much else has really been happening in the last few days.  I'm doing a little tinkering with the new Nature Boy CX bike at the moment.  I'm going to try some gear changes and throw a 39 tooth chainring on.  We'll see how this feels.  I was just mashin' too hard of a gear for the muddy courses and loosing a lot of efficiency.  I have the Tennessee CX State Championships coming up in a little over two weeks.  I've got to get back on the CX bike and do a few more workouts between now and then.

Tomorrow is my birthday so I doubt there will be any bloggin' going on.  Instead, I will be enjoying the day with my wife and my folks.  I hope everyone has a happy New Year and consumes many beverages!!
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SNOW!!

Monday's riding plans put us on top of Monteagle Mountain in Sewanee, TN.  I met up Nathan Taylor and Chris Williams and we decided to head up the mountain in search of some snow covered trails.  Once we got on top of the mountain, all the roads were covered with snow and ice.  We had the car loaded down with bikes and everyone we passed seemed to look at our vehicle as though we were freaks of some sort!  Well, maybe we are. 
University of The South campus
 We drove through the University of the South campus and took in all the sites as we approached the trailhead.  We got to the trailhead around 10:30am and unloaded our bikes in the frigid temperatures.  I think we all wore every article of clothing that we could put on in anticipation that this would be one cold ride.  I did, however, figure out the secret to warm feet!  TOASTY TOES is the answer.  I will be wearing these in some of the upcoming races during the winter months.  Toasty Toes paired with two layers of socks and a grocery bag keeps your feet dry and warm for at least 8 hours. 

Chris and Nathan rolling up the fire road
After bundling up like Ralphie's kid brother Randy, we hit the trail for some fun riding in the snow.  The first mile or so was on what I think was a fire road but really it was just a wide path covered with about 4 or 5 inches of snow.  This little trip down the fire road helped us to get acclimated to riding in the snow without having to worry about hitting any trees or rocks.  We finally made it to the beginning of the Perimeter Trail and it was on!  The trail was actually pretty rideable.  The snow contoured nicely to the berms of each turn in the trail.  For the first 2 or 3 miles on the Perimeter Trail, we actually followed some animal tracks.  In some areas, we would come across snow drifts that piled over a foot of snow. 

Hanging out at the overlook
  With each miles came more and more confidence in our riding.  Finally we were to the point of just letting loose and riding our bikes like we would any other day.  It didn't really matter if we crashed because the snow would cushion our landing.  The only major problem that we encountered from the snow was the ice packing up in our pedals which would make it difficult to clip in.  As for my bike, it did great.  I was most impressed with my tires.  I'm running a WTB Weirwolf 2.55 front tire and a WTB Exiwolf 2.3 in the rear.  These tires did great staying on top of the snow and they tracked pretty well when things got slick.

Me
 Unfortunately, our ride ended a little short when Chris' chain broke.  We were able to shorten the chain a link but the chain wasn't to be trusted.  We pedaled out on one of the fire roads and made it back to the car.  Regardless of how long we got to ride, this was definitely one of the most fun rides I've been on!

Fixing a broken chain
 After getting back to the car, we headed into town to grab some food.  The first restaurant that we found to be open was "Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant".  Mexican food sounded great after a few hours on the bike.  Well, this place was horrible.  The only thing we managed to get was chips and salsa when we were seated.  We sat at our table for about 15 minutes and no one ever came back over to take our order.  Instead, our waiter sat at the front counter talking to his friends.  We up and walked out and headed a little further down the street to the "Smokehouse".  This place was pretty cool.  I really think Cracker Barrel must have copied this place.  This place appeared to have been in business for a long time and you walk through an old country store before making your way into the dining room.  We chose their country buffet and a Budweiser.  We felt the Budweiser was quite fitting considering where were chose to dine.  The highlight of our meal was one of the sauces we found on the table.  You know, everyone needs a little "Blazin Rectums" on their fried chicken!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Shut Up Legs!


Lately I have taken to the great wisdom of Jens Voigt.  You know that feeling when you're on the bike, pedaling into a head wind, the air is frigid yet your legs are screaming?  I had that experience yesterday.  I focused my thoughts on the above video and that made a slight difference.


I initially set out to ride my Surly Cross Check that I had recently built up as my commuter rig.  This has been my project for the last week since I replaced my Cross Check with the Nature Boy as my primary CX rig.  Everything worked great on the new bike build and I'm looking forward to the many rides I'll take this bike on in the future.  However, yesterday's ride was just miserable!  The snow was falling and I wanted to take advantage of the chance to get a little riding in.  I set out for a route South of town along the Stones River.  Every direction I pedaled felt like there was a head wind!  There was no escaping it.  To add to my discomfort, my toes were freezing as well.  This is a weird feeling when your legs are burning and your toes are freezing.  That must be what Purgatory feels like.  Anyhow, I made a few wrong turns and get displaced for a moment which just continued to add to the misery of the ride.  On the final stretch home, I looked down at my legs and said, "Shut Up Legs" and voila!  At that point I was good to go and made it home without any further fuss. 


So, next time you're on a ride and your legs are screaming, just look down and tell them to shut up!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 25th, 2010...Best Day In A Long Time!

For the most part, Christmas Day started off like any other.  My wife and I woke up to a fresh blanket of snow outside the window of our apartment.  We had originally planned to make the 3 hour drive to see my folks in Knoxville and then drive South to Cleveland, TN to see the in-laws.  With the fresh snow, we decided to just stay in Murfreesboro and spend the holiday by ourselves.  This decision turned out to be the best decision we have made in a long time.


My wife and I don't really get too caught up with the Christmas holiday.  I know it's important to many and that's fine.  A few years ago, we made the agreement to not purchase Christmas gifts for each other.  Instead, we have a few simple traditions.  This helps to avoid the stress of all the shopping and makes for a more simple holiday.  Our family is also understanding of this decision and we do not expect presents from them either. 

 
In years past, we have always tried to make a day trip to see our families for Christmas.  With the snowfall this year and a trip over the mountain, we figured it would be best to just stay home for this year's holiday.  My wife and I enjoyed each other's company by cooking a nice lunch and then we set out in the car to do a little driving through the Middle Tennessee countryside.  The roads turned out to be fine.  We drove along some of the backroads that I tend to frequent on some of my longer bike rides.  We also ventured out to explore a few new roads.  Along the way, we came across a really old church that has been standing since 1832.  We made a brief stop and took a few pictures of the church and its cemetery. 


Further on down the road, we visited the town of Bell Buckle.  This is a really neat little stop.  This town must have been an old train depot and has now been turned into a little country tourist destination.  With it being Christmas Day, there was not a soul in site.  All the store fronts were lit with holiday lights.  We made a brief stop, considering the cold, and took a few more pictures. 


Our drive continued to take us further into the countryside at which point the snow began to fall some more.  As we were driving, we came across a sign that said "Confederate Cemetery".  Curiosity got the best of us and we again made a stop to look around.  The cemetery was on top of a steep hill.  This turned out to be an amazing and tranquil place to spend a moment.  There were a few marked graves with standard headstones.  And then there were unmarked Confederate graves with stones stacked about three feet high on top of them.  The fresh snow lightly dusted the graves and gave an eerie appeal.  This sight got me to thinking.  I was fixed in the moment thinking about the death of these soldiers.  They died by the bullet and here they lay beneath the frozen tundra.  It was a moment of solitude and in a strange way, quite peaceful. 


My wife and I got back into the car and began discussing our day thus far.  We were really happy with how our holiday was going.  We continued to drive back towards Murfreesboro and journeyed onto some more backroads.  We ventured down an old dirt road for a moment until the road crossed a stream.  We decided to turn around and not push our luck trying to cross the flowing stream in our small car. 


This decision played for the best as it brought us to the next highlight of our day.  As we were driving, we noticed a pull off to the side of the road and you could see the Stones River below.  We pulled over and parked the car.  We followed a faint trail that led to the river.  At the river was a beautiful scene that captured the essence of the day.  The snow was gently falling into the water and we just paused to capture the moment.  It was just my wife and I.  Alone.  We were happy and at peace.  It was a moment that was not planned but just happened.  It was perfect!

video

My wife and I got back into our vehicle and proceeded back into town.  We decided to catch a movie.  We don't normally go to the movies as they are typically overpriced but we figured we could make this exception and enjoy a flick.  The movie was True Grit and actually turned out to be pretty good.  I have always enjoyed movies that Jeff Bridges is in.  Matt Damon's part was ok but he has definitely done better. 

The night ended with a glass of eggnog and a nap with each other on the couch.  These words vaguely describe our wonderful holiday.  It was truly the best "Christmas" I've spent in years.  The day was not filled with hustle and bustle.  No concern of gifts and guests.  We lived for ourselves.  I am thankful!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays...

I may have talked about this before but I don't really get too caught up in the whole Christmas thing.  To me, it's just another day in the uneventful life.  With that said, my holiday season will be spent riding the bikes and enjoying the company of my wife during her time off from work.

Yesterday, I got a start to my mountain biking "marathon".  My buddy Koonce and I hit the trails at AEDC.  This was my first visit to this trail system.  I was instantly hooked!  AEDC is in no way a difficult trail.  There are about 13 miles of single track and some additional fire roads all in a dense pine/hardwood forest.  The terrain is pretty rolling with a lot of bermed turns.  The best part about this layout was just hitting the trail and riding as fast we could without getting too caught up on our technical skills.  The entire time I was out there riding, I kept dreaming of bringing the CX bike out.  This place would be perfect to do a little cross workout.  Overall, I was really pleased with the AEDC trail and I look forward to another visit soon.

On the note of CX, I think my season is pretty much over.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I will not be doing the Columbia CX race in January.  Unless some money happens to fall in my lap, I may not be able to make it to the State Championship race weekend either.  Reality sucks sometimes but I have had a great season!  I won the "Cross The Way" series and had an all right finish at Sewanee Cross.  A lot of new friendships have blossomed since moving to Tennessee and I look forward to the many rides to come in the new year!  

So, yeah, I'm bummed that my CX season is pretty much over.  I got serious with myself back in March and set some goals.  You see, I weighed 250 pounds in March 2010.  I was unhealthy and insecure with myself and riding ability.  I lost over 70 pounds over the course of the year and committed myself to "training" for a goal to race CX this year.  I accomplished every cycling goal that I set out for myself and beyond!  I am happy.  The New Year will bring with it another set of goals and many more miles on the bike!  I hope that 2011 will be as good of a year as 2010.  Even though I am bummed with the fact that my CX season is over, I am satisfied with how everything turned out.  Next year I will plan to race more CX races and possibly chase points for the State Championship.  

This is what I'm happy about this time of year.  I can reflect back on my life as the year ends and be satisfied.  I don't have to spend $100, $200 or any amount of money to get this satisfaction.  This satisfaction comes from hard work and perseverance.  I have an amazing wife who was supported me with my goals and has stood by me to cheer me at my races.  I am thankful!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Race I Missed...

Bilenky's Junkyard Cross was the last weekend.  I was hoping that I would have been able to go but money and transportation became an issue.  Maybe next year.  Until then, here's a video to try and best live the experience.


Bilenky Junkyard Cross Helmet-Cam from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

Fun Filled Weekend...

Not too long after my Friday post, I got the call from the good folks at Harpeth Bicycle Shop to let me know my new bike was ready.  I didn't expect for it to be fully assembled but once I arrived, everything was setup pretty nicely!  After shooting the shit about the uneventful life, I loaded the bike in the truck and headed back to the Boro to make a few small changes to my new rig.

 At the house, I started pulling parts from various drawers in the bike room.  One thing that I have neglected lately is my bike room.  I have wheels, tires, bike frames, tools, small bike parts and bike clothes strewn all over the place.  This is definitely something that I need to get under control as I have resorted to handling any bike maintenance in the dinning room.  So, back to talking about the new bike.  I changed up a few things on the Nature Boy.  First was the brakes.  The brakes that came on the bike, Tektro CR520, are crap!  I'll put them to the side for now and probably throw them on some frankenbike build in the future.  For the time being, they are being replaced with my Avid Shorty 6's until my Paul brakes come in later this week.  Another change that was made were the wheels and tires.  The wheels that came on the bike aren't horrible, they're just a little heavy and they're bolt on wheels.  I had a wheelset that I've been waiting to use for a while.  The front wheel is an old Campy Record hub laced to a Mavic Open Pro rim.  The rear wheel is an older Dura Ace hub also laced to a Mavic Open Pro rim.  Both wheels have 32 spokes which should make for a strong enough wheelset for cyclocross.  As for the tires, I got a new set of Vittoria XG Cross tires from a buddy of mine who broke his collar bone recently and isn't in the position to use them right now.  I also have a set of Maxxis Raze tires that will now go onto my spare wheels and will be used as pit wheels.  I stripped down my Surly Cross Check of some of its parts to exchange over to the Nature Boy.  These parts included a Thomson Elite seatpost and an Easton EA70 stem.  I've got a certificate for a new Thomson product that I have recently mailed in and I will anticipate a new Thomson stem for the bike.  As for now, the bike is setup pretty nicely and should be fine for any CX endeavors.
 
Before the bar tape change
After the bike and owner got a nice night's rest, Saturday was full of fun on bikes!  Saturday morning, I took the new steed out for a spin around town.  I started the ride with a trip to MOAB for some new bar tape.  On the way to the bike shop, I took the short route near Murfreesboro's shopping centers.  This made me chuckle quite a bit because I probably passed 150+ cars waiting in stand still traffic to get their holiday shopping complete.  It felt liberating to be on the bike and not in a car even though the temperatures were in the low 30's.  As always, it's a great time visiting my local bike shop.  The guys at MOAB know their way around a bike really well and they are a great crew to shoot the shit with.

Riding through tons of traffic
The rest of my ride on the new bike included scoping out the construction area of the new greenway extension.  The new section is really nice and I'm looking forward to it's completion.  This will connect a lot of new subdivisions to downtown via a car-free path.  Hopefully, this will encourage more people to consider the bike as an option for commuting.  The unfinished section is mostly hard pack and gave me a chance to place with the bike in its natural environment.  Everything felt great!  The bike is a little more twitchy than my Surly Cross Check but I found this to be more to my likings. 

New (finished) section of the greenway
Saturday evening, my wife and I headed up to Nashville for the roller races at the Nashville Bicycle Lounge.  There was a decent crew that showed up.  We all got started off with a qualifying race in which I was paired up with the shop owner and good friend, Dan Hensley.  I'm going to be humble here.  Dan spanked my ass in the qualifying race!  Dan didn't care about qualifying for anything as he was the host of the event.  He only wanted to humble me a bit before I raced everyone else.  Well Dan, you accomplished your objective!  I don't know how many heats that I raced in but I came out in victory (aside from my slower qualifying time than Dan's) at the end of the night.  After several beers, tired legs and a moment of liquid regurgitation, I left the bike lounge with the Golden Saddle.

video

Sunday was race day.  Saturday night really took a toll on my buddy.  My legs felt horribly tired and my stomach was killing me.  Anyhow, I still packed up the bike and headed up the mountain to Tracy City for the CX race.  The race was at someone's farm.  The course was in a cow pasture and a small wooded area.  When I arrived, everything was frozen.  It appeared as though the area was experiencing freeze, thaw, freeze issues.  I pre-rode the course and realized that I was in for a world of hurt.  My bike was geared with a 42 tooth chainring and an 18 tooth cog.  This was an easier gear that I've been pushing all season but this course had some longer climbs than what I've been racing.  Also, the course was really bumpy when it went through the cow pasture.  I got to the start line for the Single Speed race along with 6 other guys.  Most of the guys were Cat 1/2 racers and two of which are former CX State Champions.  Off the start line, I had a good position into the course.  I felt strong and was riding smooth until the course crossed a gravel road and the course tape was missing.  I ended up off course for a brief moment and was passed by the entire field.  By the time I made it back on course, everyone had a good 30 second lead on me.  During the race, a lot of the frozen ground had now thawed into cold, sloppy mud.  The new tires did great on shedding the mud but the tread wasn't the best on hooking up in the corners.  One part of the race that I really enjoyed was the run-up.  It came after a long sweeping downhill into a mud pit.  The run-up itself was a steep grassy/muddy hill that was slowly eroding away with each racer's pass.  I was able to pull in the 4th place guy and held my position for the remainder of the race.  Unfortunately, I was unable to even keep sight of the remainder of the field.  After the race was over, I felt worn out!  I went to the truck to change my race number so I could race the Cat4 race.  By the time I made it to the truck, the Cat4 race was starting.  I ended up missing the start time but I guess it was for the best.  I felt so tired and all I could think about was drinking a little beer!  I sat back and watched a few more races, washed the bike and hit the road for home. 

Muddy Bike
 The weekend was great overall.  I wish things would have felt a little better at the CX race but it's all good.  I have no complaints about the bike but I do think I'm going to tweak the gearing a little bit.  The next few days are going to be spent taking casual rides and working on some of my bikes.  Also, it looks like I'll be racing in the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial series this January, February and March!  This is my first year racing this series and I'm really looking forward to it!  As for CX, there are a few more races coming up in East Tennessee but I'm not sure about my commitment to racing them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Friday!


Some I'm feeling a bit obsessed about the new bike (All City "Nature Boy").  I've literally been glued to the computer trying to figure out what kind of upgrades I would like to make to the bike.  A buddy of mine has a brand new set of Vittoria XG Pro Cross tires that he is sending my way.  Those will make a lovely addition to the bike.  Other than that, I hope to have the Paul brakes installed before Christmas.
Photo Courtesy of Twin Six
 On another positive note, I received my Twin Six Deluxe Long Sleeve jersey.  This has been a long time coming to wait on this jersey.  You see, I ordered the jersey the day before Thanksgiving (November 24th for you folks across the pond).  I made the huge mistake of choosing FedEx Smartpost for my shipping option.  FedEx Smartpost is where FedEx initially handles the shipping of the package to one of their 20 distribution centers and then they hand it over to the USPS for the final delivery.  Well, I kept track of my package and noticed that the package had been sitting at the FedEx distribution center in Memphis from December 1st till December 10th!  I tried to notify FedEx of this issue and each person I spoke with told me I needed to be patient.  Once the USPS took possession of my package, it made it to my hometown pretty quickly but on Monday, I saw the package was listed as being on the truck for delivery.  When I saw my postman pull up, I went outside to get my package.  The postman said he didn't have the package.  This conversation occurred around 3:00pm CST.  I went back inside to check the tracking and saw the package was listed as being delivered at 12:18pm CST.  WTF?!?  I called the post office and no one was really willing to help.  I called FedEx and was literally told, "Maybe your package was abducted by aliens."  I'll tell you, I'm really getting sick and tired of the terrible customer service that FedEx offers!  I finally made another call back to the USPS the following morning and talked with a guy who promised he would actually look around the Post Office for my package.  7pm on Tuesday night, I got a call and it was from that nice guy at the Post Office.  He found my package!  Long story short, I'm happy.  Lesson of the story, don't ship FedEx Smartpost!

I took my new jersey out for a spin on the bike in the cold and rainy weather yesterday.  I was only wearing a base layer under it and it felt nice and toasty!  I opted out of wearing a rain jacket and the jersey did just fine on shedding the light drizzle.  Overall, I'm really pleased with the jersey and look forward to wearing this piece of cycling clothing throughout this winter season.


Now that it's Friday, that means the weekend starts tonight!  I've got a fun packed weekend.  Tomorrow night is the Roller Sprints at the Nashville Bicycle Lounge.  These events are always a blast!  Plus, anytime the Bike Lounge hosts a party, it's a party!  Also for the weekend, I'm still contemplating as to whether or not to race at Sewanee Cross on Sunday.  I'm hoping that my new bike is in by either today or tomorrow and I can get it together.  If so, I'll probably race on Sunday.  If not, we'll see.

Y'all enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Inspiration...

This is an awesome video from the US CX Nationals in Bend, Oregon this last weekend.


Cyclocross National Championships 2010 from mark colton on Vimeo.

Tis The Season...



Tis the season to drink beer and eat holiday foods.  Unfortunately, I'm not riding the bike as much as I would like.  I have had a lack of motivation to do so for the last two days.  I'm not too concerned about the cold or snow.  It's just that I don't have anywhere that I really want to go.  So, I've been sitting at the house thinking about bikes.

Last weekend, I won a new bike at the finale of the Cross The Way CX Series.  A new All City Nature Boy should arrive in my bike room within the next few days.  This is a great bike but some of the components are a bit lacking for my personal preference.  I've been really wanting to have an uber-nice CX bike for sometime and now is my chance to have it!  My first upgrade is gonna be some Paul Components cantilever brakes.  I'm going to run the Neo Retros on the front and the Touring set on the rear.  It seems as though this would be the popular setup since the touring brakes on the rear hang closer to the wheel to help you avoid scrapping your leg during a dismount.  According to many opinions, these brakes are the bees knees bomb shiggity of CX brakes.

Photo Courtesy of Dustin Greer
As far as the other components, there really isn't much to upgrade on a single speed bike.  However, I've got a set of wheels that I've been wanting to put to use.  The front wheel has an older Campy Record hub laced to a Mavic Open Pro rim.  The rear wheel is a Shimano Dura Ace hub laced to another Mavic Open Pro rim.  Both wheels are laced 3 cross and have 32 spokes.  This should make for a bombproof CX wheel.  The next upgrade will probably be a new crankset.  I'm thinking of using something Campy just to add to the bling factor a bike.  I've never really had an Campy parts so I figured now would be a good bike to start.  I've got a black Thomson Seatpost and Stem that will go on the bike.  I'm still trying to figure out what saddle I want to use.  Of course, I'm going to make sure my colorways are in order.  You don't know what colorways are?  Well, you just need to watch the video below to get a little hipster education! 



So now that I've wasted your time to watch the video, I guess you still don't know what colorways are.  There will be more to come that will elude to the meaning of this.  Till then, I'm going back to eating my Cherry Cordial M&M's.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frozen Boogers...

My motto for the weekend: "Suck It Up"
What and awesome weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) it was!  There was literally so much that went on that I don't know if I can maintain the attention span to catalog my experiences on this blog post.  I will definitely do my best to fill everyone in on my experience of having frozen boogers.

So, I'll just say the weekend started on Friday for me.  My wife had to make a trip to Nashville for work and I decided to tag along and do a little riding in the Music City.  When I got to Nashville, I hit a pretty cool coffee joint, Bongo Java, and warmed up with a nice cup of coffee.  Shortly thereafter, I hit the Nashville streets and explored some of the neighborhoods in East Nasty.  This area has turned into a cool and eclectic area of the city.


After my little spin around the city, I made my way over to the Nashville Bicycle Lounge to kick it for a while with Dan Hensley.  Its always a pleasure to kick it at the bike lounge.  Where else can you start drinking a beer at 10am and not feel guilty?  The conversation is never boring at the bike lounge either.  If you know Dan, you know he doesn't hold back what he thinks.  He'll tell you like it is and somehow you always find your skin becomes a bit thicker.

Ride for Reading Crew
Big Dummy Loaded Down
After the bike lounge, I borrowed Dan's Surly Big Dummy cargo bike and headed over to the Titan's stadium to take part in the Ride for Reading book delivery to Cumberland Elementary.  There was a great turn out considering the temperature was a bit chilly and overcast.  Spent most of the ride to the school busting balls with Thad.  When we got to the school, he became an instant celebrity to the kids when they found out that he rode his mountain bike 100 miles (uphill both ways, through 12 feet of snow and during a monsoon).  While at the school, we observed a few of the kids getting in trouble while picking out some books.  Thad and I conversed about what we were like as school kids.  I, of course, was the kid who looked to get into trouble.  Thad said he was a bit more reserved youngster.  We did conclude that our buddy Dan would have been the kid who took two books and stole an additional three from his other classmates.  Overall, the book delivery was a great experience.  It is definitely an inspiration to give books to underprivileged kids.  After the book delivery, we were all riding back into downtown Nashville when the Ride for Reading head honcho, Mathew Portell, had a flat tire.  And guess who forgot to bring a wrench and a spare tube?  So yours truly gave Mathew a ride back on the back of the Big Dummy.




Saturday, I woke up nice and early and packed the old truck with my CX bike and a lot of cold weather riding gear.  An hour later, I was in Gallatin, TN for the last weekend of the Cross The Way CX series.  Saturday's races went really well.  My first race of the day was in the Cat4 group.  I had a great start from the line and the course felt perfect.  The temperatures were in the mid 30's but I felt comfortable in my choice of layers.  Throughout the Cat4 race, I was able to maintain a decent lead and chose to race a little conservatively as to not crash out.  Finished the race in first place and immediately went to the beer cooler for some liquid nourishment.  My next race was in the Single Speed class and was the last race of the day.  By the time the race started, the rain had set in and temperatures were dropping fast.  The course was super muddy by this point but my adrenaline was on my side.  I started off the line with a little fumble to clip into my pedals.  This put me 3rd in line once we hit the course.  The three of us maintained a fast starting pace through the first lap of the course.  Graham Gerdeman was directly in front of me and Michael Edens was leading off the front at this point.  About halfway through the course, I found a hole to get around Graham.  I made my pass and hung onto Michael's wheel.  Michael was holding a really steady pace on his single speed 29er mountain bike however he would spin out once we hit the open sections of the course.  This afforded me the opportunity to make a pass.  Once we got back into the tighter sections of the course, Michael's bike would handle a lot better than mine on the inclines.  I made it a point to try to lead into these sections as to hold the advantage of picking the line and guarding our pace.  Each lap, Michael was able to pass me at some point within the technical sections.  On the last lap, I let him lead until we we 3/4 of the way through our lap.  At that point, I picked my line and sprinted as hard as I could.  Michael held strong on the last straight but I was able to maintain my position and crossed the finish in first.  This was definitely the most exciting race I have ever been a part of.  Michael kept me honest and put up a good fight.

Dan Hensley railing the turn as Brad Wormer sleds down the hill.
On Sunday, the temps dropped into the mid 20's and my wife decided to join me for the day.  She is definitely a trooper for braving the cold weather and spending the day outside just to watch me race.  Sunday was the last day of the Cross The Way series.  We again started the day off with the Cat 4 race.  From the start line, I was called up right next to Tony Adair.  Tony is an amazing cyclist.  He is a really strong rider on both the road and the CX course.  I knew it would be tough if I wanted to hold onto him.  We both started off the line together but Brad Wormer got the hole shot.  The three of us hit the course strong on the first lap.  About 3/4 through the course, I made my pass around Brad and shortly afterwards, Tony made the pass around me.  Tony would gain some significant time from me on each lap.  On the third lap, I heard the spectators shouting to Tony in the technical section.  I caught a glance out of the side of my eye and saw that he had crashed at the bottom of the worst turn.  I stepped up my pace a bit and made a significant gain on him.  However, Tony was still ahead of me and as soon as he got back on the bike, he took off again.  We finished the race with about a 20 second gap between he and I.  Tony raced really strong.  My 2nd place finish clinched a Cat 4 series victory for me.


Later in the day, the snow started to blow and the Single Speed race was ready to start.  We shortened the race to only 3 laps since the race conditions were miserable and everyone's boogers were freezing.  We had a pretty stacked field of racers for the SS race.  Off the line, I got a good position and led into the first lap.  I honestly don't like to lead into the first lap of races because I tend to push myself harder than I should and make mistakes.  However, this race, I felt strong.  After holding on up front, I got passed by Thad who was apparently having troubles clipping in due to all the mud.  He passed me and then he came unclipped and I went for the pass of him again.  I made my pass but was soon passed up by him and another guy.  I was now holding onto third place and trying to hold onto Thad's wheel.  After the 2nd lap, there was no way of catching Thad or the leader.  The both had a pulled a good distance and my gearing was not helping me at all on any of the inclines.  I finished across the line in a strong 3rd and was able to clinch the 1st place victory for the series.

Along with my victories this weekend, I won a Jamis Supernova frame in a raffle from Harpeth Bicycles.  I was pretty stoked about this as I have been wanting to build up a new CX bike.  Later that evening, I sat on the computer trying to figure up how I was going to build up this frame.  I came to the conclusion that I wanted to build it as a single speed with a White Industries ENO hub on the rear.  I then realized this would take a little bit of an investment to get all the parts I was needing.  Monday morning, I called up Harpeth Bicycles to talk about some options was pleased to find out that they would be willing to trade the frame for a complete All City Nature Boy CX bike.  This has been the bike I've been wanting for sometime.  So hopefully, I'll have the bike either by the weekend or the beginning of next week.


Lastly, Sunday night we got a nice dusting of snow and ice.  All the local school were called off and my wife decided to stay home from work since the roads were pretty bad.  I sat in the house looking out the window and became eager to get out and ride in the snow.  Since my CX bike was already pretty muddy from the races, I geared up and met with my buddy Ellis and went for a snow ride.  This ride brought back memories as a kid of riding bikes in the snow and crashing.  It was a blast to be out and about on such an awesome cold day!

So that concludes my weekend.  It was awesome to say the least.  I honestly can't believe that I sat here this long to type all of these events.  I'm not going to proof read anything because that would just take up more of my time.  Now that I'm done with this blog entry, I'm going to go thaw out these frozen boogers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rapha Always Does Some Rad Videos...

I really dig Rapha's threads.  They have some of the most expensive cycling clothing made but it is all classy looking and top quality stuff.  Maybe one day I'll own a piece myself.  Till then, I'll enjoy watching their ride videos that they put together.


Great Ocean Road Classic from RAPHA on Vimeo.

The Only Prescription Is More Cowbell...

We're just a few days away from the last race of the "Cross The Way" series.  This Saturday and Sunday, we'll be racing in the cold, mud, snow and/or rain at Lock 4 Park in Gallatin, TN.  The weather wizards are predicting nice and balmy highs of 51 degrees on Saturday and 35 degrees on Sunday.  However, the Sunday low is predicted to be 14 degrees!  Honestly, I hope it is the most miserable weather we could possibly have!  The first race was like racing in a dust bowl.  The second race was warm with a little bit of mud.  It's time for a brutal cx race!


With any great CX race, it really comes down to the fans.  You see, in "American" football you have guys with the cheese heads.  In baseball, it's the foam fingered fans.  Soccer, it's the guys with those obnoxious horns.  Now, in cyclocross, it's all about the cowbell!  So all my race fans listen up.  I want to see everyone out at the races on Saturday and Sunday.  Come out with a cooler full of beer and your cowbells.  I mean, we're in Tennessee.  It shouldn't be too hard to find a cowbell!

And in case you don't know how to play the cowbell, I've included a little self help video:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Over The Hill and Through The Woods...

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of riding the mountain bike again. I haven't been on the mountain bike since July. This has been pretty hard for me. Since I have been without a car for the last five or six months, I just haven't had any way of getting to the trails. Well, last week I finally got my truck running so I would at least have some form of transportation just to get to the trails.


I got up nice and early to get my gear and bike ready. As soon as I stepped out of the front door, I realized this was going to be one cold day! The temps were in the mid 20's and the weatherman was saying it wasn't going to get much warmer. Luckily, I packed every piece of cold weather gear I had and hit the road to pick up my buddy, Dan Hensley in Nashville.




Around 10:30am, we finally made it to the trails at Lock 4 in Gallatin, TN. Dan and I both looked at each other once we got out of the truck and knew it was going to be one cold as hell ride! Once on the trail, everything began to warm up nicely except my toes and fingers. This is always a problem for me. Now matter how good my gloves are or how warm of socks I have, they still will be cold. The trail was in great shape but was mostly frozen over. Riding the trails kind of felt like an audition for "Cinderella on Ice". After one lap, the sun was warming the trail and all the frozen stuff started to turn to mud and we decided to bail on a second lap in an effort of not destroying the trail.


We got back to Dan's place and knocked back some whiskey and beer and saddled up on the bikes again for a nice urban ride of Nashville. We headed over to one of Dan's friend's places, Sharp Emmons. This was the first encounter that I've had with Sharp but I can say nothing but good things about the guy! This joker takes his 3 year old daughter to day school by bike, in 28 degree weather!!! He has a super rad family and definitely lives the hardcore bike life! We continued our urban ride with Sharp's trailer in tow and headed across town to pick up his daughter from school. It was great riding around the Nashville metro area with everyone thinking we were crazy for riding in this weather. I honestly couldn't have picked a better day to ride. Yeah, it was cold but the sun was out and not a cloud in sight. The wind wasn't too bad either. Sometimes you have to just get out and ride and the negative factors will just disappear.



Good times were had and I'm looking forward to my next trip up to Nashville to do a little more riding. Actually this Friday will probably be that day. On Friday, the great folks at "Ride For Reading" are hosting another ride to deliver books to local school kids. This delivery is all done by bike! If you're in the area, bring your bike and a bag and join the crew!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cross The Way #2 Race Video

Here is a new video that has been uploaded from my most recent race.  This video is a compilation of all the categories of the day.  Of course, yours truly makes a cameo appearance in the last frame!


RIP "Dandy" Don Meredith



You can hate the Dallas Cowboys but you can't hate "Dandy" Don Meredith.  Such a great figure in American Football. He had that swagger that kept a fan in tune to the game. He will be missed.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Unfortunately Uneventful...

Not much has really happened the past few days.  The temps have finally caught up with the season.  Seems like a lot of my riding is about to be limited to commuter miles or hitting the trainer.  One thing is, I finally got my truck fixed.  The damned thing has been sitting in the best parking space of my apartment for the last four months while being broke down.  I think my neighbors have gotten a bit annoyed.  Anyhow, I decided to finally get it fixed as I've been wanting to ride the mountain bike lately.  Unfortunately, all the trails are at least a 30 mile drive from my place.  Looks like I will be meeting up with Dan on Tuesday for a trash talk ride at Lock 4 in Gallatin.  Of course, this ride will involve a lot of alcohol and a lot of trash talking.  Should be a fun day!

One good thing about cold or wet weather is that I tend to work on my bikes a lot more.  This week I cleaned up my bike room and started prepping a frame that I am going to paint.  Afterward, I did a little tuneup on my commuter bike and re-packed the bearings on a wheelset.  Now, everything should be riding pretty smooth! 

Enough rambling about my uneventful life this week.  Get out and ride your bike or do something productive with your weekend!  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Holidays...

Yeah, I said it.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  There are more people than just Christians out there who have something to celebrate during this time of year.  Be cool to your neighbor, regardless of what they intend on celebrating.



Also, if you like to give to local charities, check out the awesome guys at The Nashville Bicycle Lounge. They are trying to raise $1000 for Toys-for-Tots. With the money they raise, they are going to donate bikes for the kids. Your donation will go to giving a kid a really cool bike!

Why I Ride CX...

Lately, I've been talking with my non-cycling friends about this year's cycling obsession for me, cyclocross. Everyone asks what cyclocross is. Cyclocross is hard! I like it that way. You have mud, sand, dirt, grime, water, beer, more mud and pain! Yeah, you may only be on the course for 30 minutes to an hour. That is the beauty of it. While you are racing, you are going all out. If you let up, you're done. There isn't the opportunity to recover or gain back ground.



During a road race, most everyone rides in a pack. Occasionally you will have someone or a group make a break. Sometimes, there will be the occasional sprint. Mainly, everyone holds into the pack and hopes there will be a sprint finish to determine the winner of the race. 

So, back to cyclocross. It's kinda like a crit race but we're not scared to get dirty. We race regardless of the weather. Actually, we prefer the worse the weather, the better. In CX, you're gonna crash on occasion but you get back up and finish the race. You're gonna have a mechanical problem but again, you get back on your bike and ride it out. Throughout the race, spectators will try to give you a beer hand-up. Be a man and down it! That's just part of the sport.



So why do I love cyclocross racing? Because there are few rules, lots of beer and you get to get muddy! It relates back to my previous post about "HTFU and Ride!" Check your local state cycling organization's website and see if there is a cross race near you. Go watch a race and then let me know if this is not the best form of cycling!