Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Obstacles...

Life sure is pretty tough sometimes!  Sometimes there is that feeling of being backed into a corner and not knowing how to move forward.  I'm in that position right now.  It sucks!  As I sit here this morning, reading my favorite blogs, I start to think.  I can move forward.  I can overcome obstacles.  It's kind of like cyclocross barriers.  You come at them with full speed, dismount from the bike and run right over those barriers.  It's not easy to do but with time, you learn how to do it efficiently.  I don't have much else to really say today and sorry if this is a downer for you.  Hopefully there will be something more positive to say in the coming future.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend...

Weekends are a time for us to take a break from what is routine. For me, that is school. This weekend, I happened to look at a calendar and realized that finals start next week!! I've got several papers and a project due by next Friday! Honestly, I haven't even started on my history project. So a lot of shit is starting to pile up and needs to be cleared. Well, I didn't even think about it this weekend. Instead, I spent some quality time with my wife on Saturday and rode bikes with friends on Sunday.

My wife has been at the office quite a bit this last week. On Saturday, we got up and ran around town for a few hours. Almost the entire day was spent together. It is always great to have that quality time with the one you love. My wife has always been a huge supporter of my ambitions. I can't thank her enough!

As for Sunday, I spent most of the day with some friends while the wife hit some work back at her office. Met up with Patrick and Eric pretty early (for a weekend) and we hit the breakfast buffet on campus. A few waffles and sausage later, we mounted up on the bikes and hit the streets of Murfreesboro. We stayed out for a few hours just riding around town at a chill pace. Made a stop on the greenway to watch some boaters flip their canoe in the cold water!! Hilarious! The afternoon was spent in the front yard of Patrick's house listening to Hunter S. Thompson recordings, drinking beer and soaking up the sunshine. Really not much to report about but it was a great day!




I'm not sure when I'm going to get back into race training. Right now there are a lot of things that are more important to focus on than racing my bike. As for now, the bike is going to be my transportation. If I can squeeze in a fast road ride here and there, I'll be happy. Life has priorities and I'm starting to realize that bikes can't always be #1 for me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gran Torino...

These guys came out of Knoxville, TN.  I grew up in Knoxville.  I remember these guys very well.  They frequented many of the dives that I was legally too young to go to.  I remember the first time I heard a Gran Torino song.  It was in like 1997 or1998 on WUTK Radio.  Gran Torino was probably one of the best acts to make it out of Knoxville.  Sadly, they're no longer together.

Club Ride Apparel...

Nothing would be cooler than to roll up to the start line of the next road race wearing one of these jerseys! These jerseys are a new line introduced at Sea Otter Festival by Club Ride Apparel. I've gotta pony up and get one of these!

Everyone Needs a Wheelie Bar...

Rad!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Slow Motion Paris-Roubaix

Cyclist Down

I meant to also mention, my buddy Kenny Sharber got hit by a car two days ago.  The truck fled the scene of the accident.  He's out of the hospital but still in pretty rough shape.  Everyone raise a beer for Kenny this weekend!  He's one lucky dude!

Bike Polo and Boobies...

So my buddy, Dicky, seems to gain a lot of blog attention by posting boobies on his blog. Well, I thought I'd do the same and see if it helped boost my viewership on the blog.
Click here for the boobies!!

Ok, now that we've got that out of your system, we can resume our daily blogging.  Last night, several of us met up for some weekly bike polo.  We've got a pretty dedicated group in the Boro now!  We're evening filing the papers to become a Student Organization!  Last night, we scouted out some new places to play our matches and found a church parking lot that is lined on all sides with curbs and a small enough gap on each end to set up our goals.  This place was perfect for our polo match.  We got in two matches before dark and then we had to move it back to campus.  Our crew played really well last night.  Our ball handling skills are improving quite a bit.  I got to test out my new mallet which was perfect.  The mallet is made by Eighth Inch.  You can really slam the ball pretty hard for those distance shots!  I have come to the conclusion that I need to build up another bike.  I'm thinking a 26 inch Single Speed mountain bike.  I've got a friend with a Surly 1x1 for sale.  I may have to look into the purchase of it and turn it into a polo bike.  I want something with some seriously beefy wheels, single speed and nimble handling.  The 1x1 should fit the bill.  We'll see as the pocket book increases a bit.
New Mallet and my Chrome Bag

Ball in!!

Smile after a score

Patrick making his move
Eric D trying to look like he's doing something...

The ride home
As for my other riding, I've not been in the saddle much other than my typical commute.  Honestly, I'm not burned out from cycling but I'm ready to take a break from racing for a bit.  I had a strong CX season throughout the fall and winter.  I also made a few mountain bike races and one road race this season.  I'm just ready to step back a little bit till CX season and just enjoy riding for me, not for a race.  It's kind of weird to be in this mindset at the moment as all my other friends are gearing up for races every weekend.  Anyhow, I'll be back soon enough.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Paris-Roubaix Without a Saddle...

Pretty insane to have riden 20km in the Paris-Roubaix without a saddle!

What To Do When It Doesn't Go Your Way...



Life has dealt me an interesting stack of cards this week.  The funny thing is, all these cards are face down and I have the chance to pick and choose which cards I'm going to play.  I can turn a few things around, make some changes and I'll be back on track and going in the right direction, hopefully.  When times like this hit, the mind does a lot of thinking.  All this thinking wears down on you a little bit.

So most of you are probably wondering what I'm getting at.  Well, this blog is a little too public to really spread my mustard on so we'll just leave it to the above paragraph.  How does this relate to biking?  It relates to biking specifically because biking has been my escape.  It's been my way to deal with my problems.

Yesterday, I went to class and decided to hang around campus all day.  Mid day, I met up with my buddy Patrick and we did a little riding around the Boro.  We stopped in at Smoopy's Vintage Bicycles and picked up some Bike Polo Mallets that just came in.  I'm pretty stoked about the mallet and looking forward to using it in tonight's polo match.  After hanging out with Pat for most of the afternoon, I started making my way back to my place.  As I was pedaling along through downtown, I realized that I didn't really have anywhere to be by any specific time.  Why was I hammering it out?  So I slowed down a little bit.  Instead of taking the short route home, I hopped on the greenway.  The sun was in its last hour of the day and it cast a bright glow from behind all the trees.  While on the greenway, I popped in my earbuds and turned on some Mumford and Sons.  The tone of their music was pretty fitting for the mood that I was in.  My pace was pretty easy, the temps were warm but I wasn't even sweating.  My legs started to move the pedals with the tempo of the music.  I was in a trance of sorts.  All of a sudden, I felt amazing!  It was just me, my bike and some music.  All my problems didn't go away, I just had a new perspective on some things.  I really don't know how to put my feelings into words but I am thankful.  I have so many good things in my future.  I want to share my future with those who are close to me.


So this has been a pretty random blog post.  This was about as free form as my writing gets.  I'm not in the mindset to go back and change anything.  I'm gonna push forward, ride my bike and love those around me!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More Tour de Fun...

Here's some more coverage of Tour de Fun.  I've been off the bike the last few days and nothing really going on anyhow besides getting ready for finals at school. 


video

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tons of Fun...

WOW!  What an eventful weekend!  I'm probably going to have to change the blog name now.  From the moment I woke up on Saturday morning till I went to bed Sunday night, I was on the run.  The weekend was filled with politics, bikes, beer, more bikes, more politics, coffee, more beer and then more politics. 
The leaders of the Rutherford Democrats.  That's me on the front left.

As soon as I woke Saturday, I hit the ground running.  I suited up nicely and joined my wife in attendance of the Rutherford County Democratic Party Convention.  At the convention, we had a large group in attendance!  It was quite inspiring for our party.  The convention lasted several hours and we elected our Executive Committee and our Officers.  I was elected as 1st Vice Chair of the County Party!  I'm pretty excited to be able to serve my community and to help spread the idea of Democratic values!
Taking care of business
Immediately after the Convention was over, I rushed back to the house, changed clothes, got the bike and headed back into town for Tour de Fun.  My original intent for the afternoon was to go to Nashville for the East Nashville Beer Festival but I considering how late I got out of the Convention, there was not enough time to make it up that way.  Tour de Fun ended up being an awesome alternative.  When I arrived, there were nearly 400 people on bikes!  It was a site beyond my comprehension in Murfreesboro!  I don't know how the organizers of this grassroots event were able to get that many people to show up.  The whole idea of Tour de Fun is to ride your bike from house to house and enjoy lots of different bands at each house.  The beer, of course, ran a plenty as well!  It was an amazing experience to meet so many new people as well as kick it with old friends.  The party lasted from 2pm till 2am.  After all was said and done, everything happened without any problems.  If you want to join in on such a huge party, prepare to attend Tour de Fun next year!  You don't want to miss it!







Sunday was still pretty busy, none the less.  As soon as I woke up, I realized my duties that are involved in being an officer for a political party.  Checked my emails and returned as many as I could.  What I like is how organized our local officers are and how enthusiastic we all are to be involved.  Between all the emails and phone calls, I was able to get a little quality time in with my wife.  We made a trip up to Nice Mill Dam for a little while to hang out by the river.  The water was cold but that definitely didn't stop anyone from getting into the water and doing a little swimming.  There is a nice set of rapids that a lot of folks were body surfing along.  My wife called it "Hillbilly Surfing". 


All in all, it was an awesome weekend.  Now it's time to get back to concentrating on school.  I hope to do quite a bit of biking this week as well.  I was planning on doing the Aaron Shafer road race this weekend but instead, I'm going to join my wife for a trip to Chattanooga to see our family.  So it looks like I'm not going to be doing anymore racing till May.  Over the next few days, I'll keep posting more Tour de Fun pictures.  Unfortunately, pictures don't do the event full justice. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Life and Bike Polo...

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
I'm quite aware that there was no blog post yesterday.  I figured that my life had been so uneventful on Wednesday, that I wasn't going to bore anyone with a bunch of nonsense.  As for yesterday, my life got a little more exciting.  Last night, I made my way back to campus to hit up the weekly Murfreesboro Bike Nite.  Bike Nite is a weekly urban ride around the Boro that is mostly about just kicking it with friends.  The pace is extremely chill and lots of people turn out for the ride.  Before Bike Nite, we got a bike polo match going on the quad.  I haven't played any bike polo since leaving Georgia.  We had a 4 on 4 match going.  I had forgot how intense a bike polo match can get.  You are constantly in motion, sprinting for the ball while making sure you have your bike under control.  Our crew in Murfreesboro has built up a pretty active group.  Apparently, Nashville has a really good group as well and the Boro folks have gone up that way to play a few matches.  I'm definitely looking forward to getting in on future matches!
Local graffiti along my commute
Along my commute on the greenway
Also to note, the weather has been awesome for most of this week!  My commutes have had perfect temperatures and the greenway is finally cleaned off from the earlier rain during the week.  I couldn't get much happier than I am right now with life!  School is almost over for the semester.  I've also realized this week that I have so many great friends and an awesome wife who supports everything I do in life!  I'll keep rolling on this "High on Life" attitude for as long as I can!  Some pretty cool things are going down this weekend.  With as busy as I will be, I doubt I'll have any weekend posts.  However, tune back in on Monday for a weekend recap. 

But if you do want in on the fun, scan this for a treasure map!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Unbelievable Flip...

This video was too rad not to post!

Spring Is In The Air...

I was pretty lazy yesterday. The only riding I did was with my commute. I opted for the short route on my commute, figuring the greenway would be flooded from the previous night's storm. Turns out, I was right. As I traveling over a bridge that crosses the greenway, it was completely flooded. It will probably be several days if not the weekend before I can go that route again. Every time it floods, most sections are covered with mud until the city is able to scrape it.
Along my downtown commute.  Spring is in the air!
On other news, I'm working on defining my race schedule for the next few months. Looks like I'll be racing in the Aaron Shafer Road Race in Sparta, Tennessee. The course is 40 miles and should there should be a pretty good showing of racers considering there aren't many road races on the TBRA calendar this year. Last race, I was a little under hydrated. Between now and my next race, I'm going to make it my goal to keep hydrated properly. Being dehydrated has left me pretty tired in these last few days following last weekend's race. Me being tired sucks pretty bad!


On a last note, I'd like to give my thank you speech to all my blogisphere readers. The past few weeks, my viewership has jumped through the roof. It's no longer just my mom! Hopefully, I'll keep the posts a coming and you'll keep on reading. In the next weeks and months to come, I'll start doing a few review write ups on my bikes and various pieces of gear. All y'all know I got some opinions to share.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Surprising Finish!

After watching Cancellara pull for nearly the entire race, he turns his head, only for Nick Nuyens and Sylvain Chavanel to take advantage and sprint past to the finish!

Music On My Mind...





And let's take it back a moment!

Movin' On Up...



Well, I'm a moving on up!  I got confirmation from our local USAC representative that my upgrade to Cat4 has been approved!  I was honestly quite surprised that the upgrade came that easy!  I suspected that I would at least have to get a few more races under my belt.  Regardless, I look forward to racing in the 4's and hopefully moving up into the 3's by the end of the season.  It's going to take a lot of work and will definitely be a learning process.  

Also worth a mention was my commute yesterday.  On my ride home, the tornado sirens were blaring on campus as a storm was about to shake the town.  About a mile from my place, the rain started coming down and the wind was so ridiculous I could hardly keep the bike stable!  I've rode in all kinds of weather and I'm no amateur to storms but this was the worst ride in a storm that I've ever had!  I felt really happy to be home and immediately hunkered down with the cat and some flashlights!

What will today bring?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sandbagger...A Race Recap

Click the picture for a tutorial on sandbagging
So I raced in the Hell of the South Road Race over the weekend.  I raced in the Cat5 field with 50 other riders.  I was able to pull out a win as well.  I'm pretty stoked about the win however, I should have built a wall of sandbags around me to prepare myself for the flood of criticism I've received since the race!  Seems as though everyone thinks I'm a sandbagger for winning the Cat5 race even though this was my first ever road race and I had no other option besides entering the Cat5 race.  99.9% of my racing experience has been in Mountain Biking and Cyclocross.  So, I guess if winning the Cat5 race makes me a sandbagger, then so be it.

Saturday morning, I woke up nice and early.  I had the hardest time sleeping due to the excitement of entering my first road race.  I loaded up the truck, checked to make sure it would start and headed off to Lewisburg, Tennessee for the race.  I showed up just shortly before 8am and there was quite the showing already.  Made it through registration where yes, they checked my road license to make sure I registered in the correct category.  I then suited up and did a little warm up with my team mate, Chris W.  Everyone was talking about the gravel section of the course.  As Chris and I warmed up, we found a little gravel area and tested our skills.  To my surprise, my road tires handled the gravel chop pretty well.  Anyhow, we finished our warmup, hit some energy gels and lined up with the rest of the Cat5 racers.

At the start line, the officials went over a bunch of the race rules.  Many of these I'd never heard before, because I've never raced in a road race.  After a long introduction, we were given the ok for a rolling start.  As soon as we crossed the start/finish line, the group was still chit chatting with each other.  The pace was around 17-18mph.  I just kept thinking through my head that this would only be a 28 mile race.  Why were we going so slow?  Before the race, I had heard from some guys that raced last year that the group led out a really slow pace till nearly the gravel section (mile 6).  Instead of me hanging around and chatting, I decided it was worth the effort to go ahead and make a breakaway since I figured no one would take it seriously off the start.  When I started my break, I was in a full on sprint.  About 200m into the break, I looked back and realized that no one followed!  This partly excited me and also somewhat concerned me.  I now knew that I would be riding by myself for some portion of the race at the very least.

About 2 miles into the course, the road was a little rough and started to cover some rolling hills.  At the crest of each hill, I would give a slight glance behind me to see if anyone was in pursuit.  Still no one.  The lead vehicle was keeping a great pace and never allowing me to get too close.  I have to admit, I was trying to catch the officials vehicle as best as I could.  I considered the officials vehicle to be like a dangling carrot.  Around mile 6ish I was descending pretty fast and noticed "Slow Down" painted on the road.  I told myself, "Hell no, I ain't gonna slow down!"  This turned out to be the section where the road turns from paved to gravel/dirt.  Luckily, my CX instincts kicked in and I made the transition turn perfectly.  My heart started pumping out of excitement for being on a dirt road.  I picked my line which turned out to be flawless and made it through that section with no problems.

Following the dirt road section, there were more hills but the roads weren't as bad.  At this point in the race, I was starting to focus on ways I could keep the pack from catching me.  Each hill I hit, I hammered it.  On the descents and most of the flat sections, I made sure I was down in the drops.  I concentrated on my each and every move.  I also concentrated on giving myself a little recovery when needed.  When it was time to drink, I drank.  When it was time to eat, I ate.  Even though I was by myself, I was still racing.

Finally, I came across what was setup as a neutral feed zone.  As I passed the feed zone, I heard a few cheers from some familiar faces.  I knew the feed zone was placed near the close of the loop and was intended for the Cat4's and higher.  This gave me the signal to really gun it to the finish and not allow any gap I made to be closed.  I gave one last look back and still didn't see anyone.  On the last stretch to the finish, I gave it all I had.  I was seated in the saddle, hands in the drops and sweat pouring from my brow.  I saw the 2k mark, then the 200m mark.  At the 200m mark, I was filled with so much excitement that I nearly teared up crossing the finish.  I won my very first road race!!

I waited around the finish to watch for the 2nd and 3rd place finishes.  8 minutes after my finish, a group of 3 came riding in.  At the 200m mark, you saw a paceline break apart and a sprint ensued.  This did not look like a Cat5 sprint finish.  This looked like these guys had some experience in what they were doing.  And to be honest, I'm glad I wasn't in that group because they probably could have beat me if it came down to a sprint finish.  Anyhow, they crossed the finish nearly wheel and wheel.  It was a spectacular finish!

After the race was over, I stood up on the podium and accepted my trophy and some prize winnings.  I was elated by the experience.  I was also proud with the showing that our team made.  The Harpeth Bicycle Race Team had 3 spots on the podium between the Cat5 race and the Cat4 race!  Of course, I've got the heckling from all my friends calling me a sandbagger.  Again, if winning your very first race makes you a sandbagger, than slap me and call me Shirley!  Somebody has got to win!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wet Weather Road Rides...

I saddled up on the road bike yesterday.  Considering the way I've been feeling this week about riding, I'm surprised I did it.  But once I got on the bike, I felt great!  The roads couldn't have been any wetter.  In a lot of places, there was standing water.  The temperatures weren't very cooperative either.  Temps were hovering in the high 40's for most of the ride.  I left my place with no particular destination for the ride and planned on keeping the pace pretty chill.  On the way out, I had a nice tailwind that helped to build my ride motivation a bit more.  About 6 miles into the ride, I decided I wanted to hit a little climb to stretch my legs and expand my lungs just a little bit so I headed towards Whitus Road.  The climb isn't much but for around here, it is one of the more extended pulls.  I felt pretty solid at this point in the ride and decided to put a little effort into it.  I finished the short ride with another 26 miles under my belt.  I was able to pull off a 21.8 mph average which made my happy considering my returning headwind.  After it was all said and done, I was happy to have gone for a ride.  You know, you have to do these kind of rides sometimes.  It just makes you that much stronger when you face these kind of conditions in a race.  
This is my happy face.
Looking towards the climb up Whitus Road
Road before the climb up Whitus
As for today, I'll commute into class on the bike but will lay low and get some rest otherwise.  Hell of the South is tomorrow morning.  I've got a lot to get done between now and then.  The bike is a mess from yesterday's ride, I need to switch out wheelsets and cassette, swap over tires, tune up my rig and get my race bag ready.  At least I didn't procrastinate on registration this year and miss the early reg discount!  Anyhow, I'll probably post up a race re-cap sometime later in the weekend or on Monday morning.