Sunday, December 28, 2008

trail options are slim nowadays

It's that time of year again. It's either raining and 60 degrees or 15 degrees overnight and 40 during the day. The sun pokes out enough to thaw the ground from the overnight freeze and the trails just get muddier and muddier. Montgomery Bell is the one trail that remains in great shape during this time of year.

Jamie (Lynskey celeb) and Jut were in town for the holidays last week so they got the Yazoo Brew Crew together for a big ride at Montgomery Bell. Many people wanted to ride Hammy and I also would of loved to, but not right now. I haven't been there in months but I can only imagine what it's like right now with all the rain we've had this past month.

A group of 12 or so all met up at Monty Bell on a dreary afternoon. It misted slightly as we all got our stuff together and headed into the woods, but never full-on rained. We had about 9 singlespeeders and 3 geared riders... bikes ranged the full spectrum from 5" travel all mountain Ellsworths to Surly singlespeeds and a few Ti 29ers in there as well. We started together but the front few quickly pushed the pace and everyone found their place. Thad suffered a flat early on and told the group to continue on. (his first of 2 flats, Mr. I rarely flat and carry tubes for a year, that go flat in my fanny pack) I waited with him to provide conversation but not much other help. I did figure it'd be more enjoyable for him to catch up with the group with a partner, especially if it took a while to find the other riders (and of course it did.) We ended up skipping out to the road and swinging back by the parking lot since one of Thad's spare tubes also had a hole. (the one he's been carrying for a year) So the two of us went back into the woods and tried a more direct route to where we thought the group would be heading.

We rode many sections of the trail backwards in our trek back to the group. Monty Bell is a great trail to change up the direction. Most of the sections flow great anyway you go and it places the challenging sections in different spots than you're used to. We rode a lot of the Yellow trail that I hadn't ridden since the race loop was marked. The race loop really takes you on some of the more flowy sections of the yellow trail. The yellow is a tough trail and most of the hardest parts aren't on the race loop. We were riding most of it backwards so there were a few hills that were just straight up, though thankfully really short. Thad got to witness some (better than 26er) 29er traction on one climb where he spun out. I only made it about 15 feet farther than he did, but it wasn't really from a lack of traction, but more of a lack of leg strength and fatigue from keeping the bike pointed uphill and not sideways off the trail.

After seeing the group on a distant trail and thinking they would cross our path and being wrong, we finally caught up with them. There aren't many leaves left on the trees so you can see riders as they zig zag through the trail, but you can't tell if they are truly that close to you or just on a trail that weaves close by. The group continued riding as before with a few motivated folks off the front and everyone else falling into their own rhythm.

I had made a couple minor changes to the cockpit of my new Quiring. Pushed my seat a bit farther back on the rails and lowered my stem 10mm. Both changes made the bike fit better. Last time I rode I had some knee pain. I never found out if it was from the cold weather and my lack of knee protection or from a poorly placed saddle. This time I rode with knee warmers even though the temperature was at least 15 degrees warmer and I had no knee pain at all. My saddle was a little to far forward before so I'm sure that helped. The new lower bar height felt better and the bike rode great this time out! I also ran lower tire pressure which I also liked. I was more comfortable on the bike, it handled better and I bounced around less with the lower tire pressure
and I enjoyed the rigid fork more. My hands were quite sore last ride where this time I barely noticed any soreness. My Oury grips finally settled in and the adhesive (hair spray) dried so they weren't spinning on me like my last ride. I think this helped a lot with my hand fatigue since it let me use a looser grip on the bars.

So far after two rides I am loving this new bike! It fits me like a glove and handles like I want a bike to handle. Thad (29er wanna be) keeps asking detailed questions about how it rides and how the geometry feels in different trail sections. So far I haven't had any great answers other than..."handles great! I love it!" The bike feels stable which is one of the few words I've come up with that describe it. It has a 71.5 head angle with a 475mm rigid fork and a 46mm fork offset so I think this leads to a very stable handling on the flats and downhills. It probably makes the bike a bit hard to steer on the steep uphills but all my past bikes have had a tendency to wander on the really tough climbs. The Quiring wanders less than my Soma though. I really got used to a kind of slack head angle from riding my Ventana which had a 70 degree head angle and I always loved the confidence it gave me on the downhills. This bike is crazy light too. I've never had a bike this light before. The gearing feels easier than it should. I have it geared 32x20 right now which should equate to 32x18 on a 26" bike. I've been riding that gearing for the past 6 months on my Soma so I'm pretty used to it and it feels noticably easier on the Quiring. No complaints here, but it does have me wanting to pick up a 19t cog for trails like Lock4.

After we all had our fill of the trail we made our way over to the Yazoo tap room to rehydrate. Unfortunately Jut was feeling sick so he had to miss the ride but he met up later for a few beers. It was a lot of fun hanging with the guys on the team that I don't see much. All in all, another great day of biking and hanging with friends on another dreary Nashville day.

Thad's second flat right at the end of the trail. Who's nailing something on a bike trail anyways?

Friday, December 19, 2008

a day late

Well as I sit at work and watch the 70 degree, sunny weather go by I can't help but reminisce on our urban jaunt around Nashville yesterday when it was 40 degrees and raining. At least we all aren't normal and we still enjoyed our wet ride.

A group of idiot cyclist met up at the Yazoo tap room at 11am with plans to ride through Nashville to Percy Warner park and meet up with some more idiot cyclist. The ride started slightly late as we (J5, MeanJoe, KRS1 and myself) all took our time getting dressed and prepared for the inclement weather. Thad and I worked out our route as we rode with only about 1 street ahead planned out. The main goal was to avoid West End Ave yet not vear too far off course since we were already running late. We enjoyed riding through many a quaint neighborhood before finally giving up and braving West End/Harding for the last mile to Belle Meade Blvd. Here we were good cyclists and rode single file, paceline style to try to get to the park entrance as soon as we could to not keep our future riding partners waiting too much longer.
site note: these type of rides teach you quickly the importance of wearing glasses and keeping your mouth closed while riding close behind the rider in front of you, even if they are using a fender.

We didn't dilly dally long after meeting up with Mr. Clean and Bikeme. I did trade Crosschecks
with MeanJoe and gave his fixie a go. As the group started to enter the park I look down and see my rear tire is flat! auuhh I'd been "Joed"! We yelled and screamed and got a response from the group though we were still left to wallow in their wet dust as I changed my first flat of the day. Bikeme rolled back and pulled MeanJoe and me back to the group, who about ran us into the holler. When you think someone is lost, do you stay where you are or do you backtrack your path at full speed, riding 3 abreast in a park with blind corners? Thankfully our group of 3 didn't plant their face into any of the other group of 3 riding towards us; even if MeanJoe did lose some cartilage stopping his fixie on a dime.

This first loop took us quite a while to finish as I had another flat where everyone offered everything they could to help, including a shriveled tube, a pump that barely worked, and a pump that worked your arms into jello. I somehow lived through with a CO2 to use another day. KRS1 tested Stan's pressure ratings and lost in an explosion of white goop. Thankfully he was climbing slowly at the time of the shooting and he was able to recover and stay out of the ditch. After we finally finished the first loop we were all wanting more since we'd finally got a groove going, but at the same time the stop and go of the first lap wore us out. We went back in for a short 1/2 loop and then parted ways with Mr. Clean and decided on some lunch at 5 Guys.

I only saw 2 guys there but the burger and cajun fries were great and hit the spot for some wet, tired cyclists. We all made our attempts to finish the generous helping of fries and loaded up back to head back to our cars and more importantly, some refreshments at the tap room. I wasn't able to stick around long as I have many house projects to finish before my parents come visit for the holidays but I made time to sample the two newer brews, Hop Project 9 and the Wassail. It hurt to leave so early, but I had to go and finish my bathroom project, those rooms are kind of important with guests in town.

On the house front, we are all moved in, almost settled and working out the kinks of an old house, more room than we've ever had, and trying to stay warm and cheery through the crap weather we've been having. We've been knocking out little projects right and left and I just finished up the most recent project in the downstairs bath. Long story short: someone at some point needed access to the pipes behind the sink and cut a huge 12"x25" hole in the drywall. Not a huge deal if you're living where it's always 70 degrees outside. When it was 30 outside there was a very cold breeze blowing into the house from this hole. I cut some drywall to fill the hole and temporary put it up with tape with plans to truly fix it later. With my parents coming to town for Xmas, later became now. But to do it right I needed to remove the sink and vanity (again) to gain access to the entire hole. Out came the drywall mud, tape and putty knives and 3 days later it's all put back and working, no leaks or nothin. One other thing I got to fix was that when the painters got around to the bathroom, the sink had already been put back so they couldn't paint behind it. We still had some visible blue paint on the sides and inside the vanity to deal with. I just went a head and painted it when I had the vanity and sink removed so now it looks super nice and professional. Feel free to check out my Flickr photos at the link to the right if you're interested in more photos. I know this isn't the biggest project ever, but for a new homeowner it feels rewarding to tackle and conquer any project.

We also have a new addition to our not-quite-totally-empty dining room. Fred was very generous, not only in helping me with my new bike build but also with supplying us with a hand-me-down double bike stand. If our dining room isn't going to have any dining room furniture in it, it might as well have some cool bikes! Thanks Fred!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My journey to a custom bike

Ok, it's here, it's built up and it's been ridden...... and it's awesome!!

For some back story: In late April I got fed up with riding bikes with full suspension and gears, and started considering selling my Ventana and upgrading my singlespeed to a better frame. After a ton of research and contemplation I settled on having Scott Quiring build me a custom titanium bike. After talking with Scott and looking at his customer gallery I realized that he makes 95% 29ers and 5% 26ers. hmmm ok this got me thinking that it would be a good idea to test ride some 29ers and see if I'd like one.

After test riding jjscarff's Redline Flight and MeanJoe's Karate Monkey I decided it was time to try something completely new and go big. I liked the way their bikes rode at Hammy and Lock4, even rigid so I just decided to go for it. I put in my order in at the beginning of July. Scott Quiring mentioned an 8 week wait and having read up on a lot of custom builds online (from all kinds of builders), I figured 10-12 weeks was a more fair estimate of the time.

After ordering up the frame I went down to Harpeth Cycles to have Fred (Soul69) give me the full Serotta Fit system. After a lot of poking, prodding, stretch tests and some miles chasing an imaginary road racer, Fred had me all setup with what bike would fit ME.

I sent these fit numbers on to Scott Quiring, along with a list of questions he had me answer. Half the questions were about my old bike and how it fit, the other half were body measurements that were similar to those Fred got during the Serotta Fit. This was when the waiting started. This was about the 20th of July. Scott and I emailed back a bunch about head angles and fork offsets and axle to crown measurements and then he got started on designing the frame.

Around the middle of August I got a frame drawing from Scott emailed to me. I mulled over it and forwarded it on to Fred and Thad (Johnny5) and got their opinion. Fred and I compared the frame drawing with the info we got from the Serotta fit. This was one step that I stalled a week on, thinking a lot about the numbers and comparing them to my Serotta fit. A week later I made a few tweaks to the top tube measurements and decided on having Scott also make me a custom steel fork for the bike that shared the offset of the 2009 Reba and the sagged axle to crown height. At the end of August I received the updated 2nd frame drawing with the changes and again I took a week or so to mull over it. At the beginning of Sept I OKed the 2nd drawing and the waiting began again.

At this point I just waited. I tried not to think too much about the bike and tried not to pester Scott about when he thought it would be ready. I had hopes that I would have it in time to race the Swank65 in the first week of November but it didn't happen. I just kept riding my Soma and enjoying life. Oh during this time I also decided to buy a house, searched for houses, bought a house and started moving and also my brother-in-law passed away so I had a lot on my plate and many things to keep me occupied.

Nov 24th I receive an email from Scott saying my frame and fork were finished and ready to ship that week. Problem is this was Thanksgiving week and I was leaving town Tuesday. So I had to wait til the next week to have him ship it so I could make sure I was home. After a few FedEx snafus, I finally picked up my frame and fork and brought it home. I believe it was 18 weeks from order to delivery with some stalling by me because of my indecisiveness.

In the time I was waiting I was able to pick up the parts I'd need one by one which was nice. I used some parts off my Soma like cranks. chain and saddle and bought some parts online, from Dan Hensley and from Harpeth Cycles. I used my Chris King rear hub from my 26er wheel and bought a new Hope Pro II to have Rick Harmon at Harpeth Cycles build my 29er wheels. I kept the Juicy7 brakes from my Ventana and bought some aftermarket levers for them. Fred and Rick were awesome and got me all setup with parts and wheels and Rick expertly installed my bottom bracket (no small feat) and my headset. I installed most of the rest at home and then had Kelly Benward (FullSquishy) help me cut the steerer tube and install the star nut. It was a team effort and it all came together perfectly! Thanks to everyone to helped with this build, whether with parts, labor, or moral support!!!

So without further ado I present my new titanium custom Quiring.

Chris Cooper polished my White Industries cranks for me. He did an awesome job on them!!

You can see the rest of the pics here:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Build kit is as follow:

Frame: Quiring Custom Titanium 29er
Fork: Quiring Custom Steel
Stem/Seatpost: Thomson
BB: Phil Wood SS square taper
Cranks: White Industries ENO
Pedals: Time ATAC composite
Font Tire: Panaracer Rampage 2.35
Rear Tire: Kenda Karma 2.2
Rims: Stan's Flow 29er
Front Hub: Hope Pro II
Rear Hub: Chris King SS
Brakes: Avid Juicy7
Brake levers: Twenty6
Saddle: WTB Rocket Race
Handlebar: Salsa Promoto 17deg sweep
Grips: Oury
Chain: SRAM 850
Cog: Endless Kickass Cog 20t

Edit: I also purchased a killer red Chris King headset from Jeff S. (BikeMe) and another set of Time ATAC pedals from Tryon (TryFour).

Friday, December 12, 2008


That's "fineeeeee", not "fine".

The Quiring build is complete. Steerer is cut (measure how many times?) and star nut is set. Thanks to HalfSquishy, aka Kelly B! Big thanks to him for helping me complete the final steps and the moral support during the cutting of the steerer tube.

What no pics you say?? Nope. It's not quite time to debut this bad boy. That and I didn't have time before the sun set to take the bike for it glamour shots. Kelly and Tim S have seen it... ask them what it looks like! I think it looks bad ass and from the little bit that of time I spent sitting on it in the hallway, it's gonna ride awesome! heh

I'm really looking forward to taking the Quiring out on it's madien voyage. Unfortunately I've developed a cold with some serious sinus pressure. That and oh yea, there was snow out! I hope the forecast changes for the new week cus right now it's looking bleak!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The build is coming along nicely. Fred and Rick at Harpeth Cycles have come through big time with getting the wheels laced up quickly, my King hub serviced and installing my headset and BB. I spent some quality time tonight putting the pieces together while watching some "For Your Eyes Only". It's been a long time since I have assembled a bike from the ground up. It's exciting and so far is all coming together well. I got the wheels all set and tires installed with the magic Stan's goop. I've got a few pieces of bling left to debut and I'm hoping to be able to ride the thing by this weekend.

Me and some friends (and new bloggers) rode at Percy Warner Park today. I was really wanting to get on the bike and the weather was just not looking good for the entire week. I saw an opening in the forecast and sent some emails. HalfSquishy, Mr. Clean and Tim S. showed up to hit the hilly, wet roads of the park. The weather wasn't great, but the ride was awesome. The park was very quite, no one was there but us and the fog was thick. We rode to the nice overlook of downtown only to see about 50 yards into the fog. It was great! Really gave you the feeling you were riding somewhere exotic like the woods of France or something. We were also treated to a gang of male turkeys, which Chris (Mr. Clean) and I got to see a second time on our second lap. We also saw a good sized buck to which Chris mentioned: "Man, he looks like he could really kick our ass if he wanted." It was good times for sure...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sir, They've delivered a healthy Quiring

After quite the run-around, I have taken ownership of a very light bike box filled with a frame and fork. I snapped some quick photos to appease the masses, and add to my smugness.

The frame looks awesome! If it hasn't been obvious yet, it's a Quiring titanium 29er with hooded Paragon sliding dropouts and a steel rigid fork. The fork was intended to be painted to match the finish of the raw titanium. It turned out more on the glossy/tan color side but I think it looks good. (Edit: I've been told by my art-major wife that the color is more 'warm silver'.) It will be much more clear once the parts get put on.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Just got back from the Renegade Holiday show in chilly Chicago. 1 more successful craft show in the bag for Freshie and Zero. We braved the frigid temps, icy roads and dangerous guitine elevators to mingle with the hip indie crafters and finish our xmas shopping. We both had a great time (as usual for Chicago) and even though it was only 8 degrees yesterday when we headed to the show, we managed to stay relatively warm and dry all day. Dry was a great thing if you remember our last trip to Chicago and the last Renegade show where it rained non-stop from Friday to Sunday and almost flooded the streets of Chicago.

I came home to a couple boxes of bike parts. Hmm by my mental count, I believe I have all the parts needed to make a 29er single speed. Oh wait, not quite yet... I still need a frame!! what the! Oh yea, it's still sitting on FedEx waiting to be picked up! I tried to get it friday before I left town. After seeing it labeled as "on the truck for delivery", even though I'd called and asked for it to be left for me to pickup, I headed over to our old condo to wait on the FedEx man. After waiting (and cleaning) for about an hour and a half, FedEx came.... and went, without stopping!! What the!! So I check the tracking info again.... oh now it says, "at FedEx location, waiting on customer pickup." what!?!? So it appears they put it on the truck, then took it back off 1:45 min later... bad timing on my part. So the frame had to sit at FedEx for the weekend. I hope they were nice to it!

I'm crashing after forcing my body to stay awake and alert for the past 8 hours on the road... I'll leave you with another shot of future bike parts.... minus the smug grin this time.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

back on track

What is this blog supposed to be about anyhow? biking, oh yea... I like to do that! I slipped out of town early this morning and met J5 and H for what was to be an easy paced ride around Monty Bell.

Work hasn't been very busy lately but I've had no trouble filling my time with house projects. I entertained the idea of bringing my crosscheck home with me for Thanksgiving but decided I didn't really want to ride alone and didn't want to deal with the hassles. Lazy? yep! But I did enjoy a lot of R&R chillin' at home with my parents and brother's family.

Today was a great day to get out and I just had to do what I could to seize the break in the arctic weather. It was still cold at 8am when I headed out and it was tough to decide on how many layers to wear. I settled on just a long sleeve baselayer, wool Yazoo jersey, knee warmers and a pair of woolie Swiftwick 12s. After warming up on the bike, I was toasty and felt great the rest of the ride. The trail was completely full of leaves but offers some great views. It was fun to ride a head and spot Thad and H weaving through the trees towards me.

I tried to concentrate on my flow and my momentum. Monty Bell can be pretty smooth if you learn to be more loose and go with the trail. I notice as I begin to fatigue, my flow also suffers and I get more clumsy. This is something I'd like to work on in the few months. I think it will be good to have some winter riding goals.

We rode the full race loop and I gotta say I enjoyed every minute of it. Far from how I felt at the race held at Monty Bell in Aug. I still struggled in some of my usual spots but I cleaned some sections that generally force a dismount. My 32x18 gearing felt great once again. I'm wondering if I should just give up hope on going back to 32x17 anytime soon. I've really been enjoying the slightly easier gear the past few months. I've got the new bike speced to start off with 32x20 (29er) which should keep me around the 32x18 (26er) area. I won't dwell too much on the new bike, (or Thad will whine) but it's in Toledo right now, on it's way for a Thurs delivery.

I had to resurect my old Hadley geared rear wheel from the depths of storage for todays ride. Having take my SS wheel apart to deliver to Harpeth Cycles, I was in need of something to use on the Soma. I remembered I had a Fibroncini spacer kit from a while back and went to work getting the wheel prepared for action. First step was getting the 18t cog on and spaced well. This turned into quite the project requiring two different lockrings and a dremel. My driveside dropout had a little too much paint in it which hendered my axle from moving forward enough to tension the chain. After some quick sanding I was in luck. Next I had to re-tube the wheel. It was setup tubeless with some Stan's but hadn't been refreshed in probably 6 months. I didn't think it prodent to waste some more Stan's sealant on the wheel since I may potentially not ride this wheel much, if at all, after I get the new bike built. So after cleaning up all the old, dirty, slimy and slightly congealed sealant, I slapped in a tube and had the bike built up and ready to go quickly.

I worked fast because my new workshop is detached from the house, and completely not climate controlled. Working on your bike when it's 35 degrees will keep you on task. The only thing left that I needed was the adapter for my tugnut so I could keep my wheel in place, only kind of important. Thad came through and let me borrow his brand spankin' new one. The wheel worked great. I did notice some play in the hub/axle/dropout and at first attributed it to a loose axle. After I tightened it and it was still there, I figured it's the Salsa quick release axle. I think it's just slightly smaller than the inner diameter of the hub. Probably not the best thing for it to stay like that but I'm not gonna worry about it too much since I shouldn't be riding this wheel for long.

They are calling for rain and colder temps tonight but possibly a dry day tomorrow. I'd like to possibly ride into work, and of course the tap room later on. (maybe even hit Percy Warner) I hope the weatherman is right!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

smug update

Part #23 for the new bike has arrived....

never had a silver Thomson before....I don't think a Marsupial has one either.

wheels keep on turnin'

New frame is finished, but sitting in Michigan. Not sure if the fork is done yet, hope so and I hope it's shipping soon...

Stem is in, rims are in, chainring and cogs are in, seat post, front hub and tires are on order. King hub is removed from crappy old 317 rim and ready for it's new home, laced to a 29er Stan's Flow.

Wonder when the bike will be ridable... hope it ships soon!

Monday, November 24, 2008

wine and breakfast borritos

Beth and I decided last minute to go see the Iron and Wine concert at the Ryman Auditorium last night. We'd talked about going a long time ago, then put off the decision and figured it'd be sold out. When we saw it wasn't we called up the Ryman and got tickets without any trouble, and $5 cheaper than through (ie

It was great to get out of the house and do something new and fresh. (How is going to see a band while living in Nashville new and fresh you ask? Well for us it is. We aren't known for a big enthusiasm for the local live entertainment.) So there we sit, in the Ryman, waiting for the show to start and find out what Blizten Trapper sound like and see how Iron and Wine sound live. I've enjoyed Iron and Wine for a little over a year now but don't own many of their records. I tend to listen to and buy a lot of moody music, so in an attempt to stop and get more upbeat, fun, rock or pop stuff, I've avoided buying the nice, mellow, lush Iron and Wine CDs. I really should get more of them. I have a few songs from their AOL live show and we own The Shepherd's Dog but nothing else.

Blitzen Trapper came out right on time (odd) and played a good set. They have a sort of throw back southern rock meets folk slash Neal Young meets Bob Dylan vibe. (hey I should work for Rolling Stone eh? That sentence probably means nothing to most most CD reviews) After their set I couldn't help but think that they sounded good, but a little rough around the edges. Like, I wouldn't be suprised if I saw them again in a year and they had changed their sound some and maybe lost a band member and focused their style more.

After what seemed like an overly-lengthy set change, Iron and Wine came out and started their set off acoustically with just Sam Beam and his sister Sarah. I figured that they would play a lot of their new stuff since this tour was aimed specifically to promote their current album, The Shepherd's Dog. I liked that they started off the show on a mellow, intimate note though. I was a bit disappointed that they had his acoustic guitar plugged into a DI instead of miced. Iron and Wine's records sound so close and intimate and detailed that I was thrown back by the thin sound of his acoustic guitar. I realized later on the main reasoning for this but it was still a disappointment. What can I say, my job is to record music well, I'm picky about the sound when I go to concerts.

After several great songs, a piano player joined the stage, and then the full band. This is where the show really opened up for me and I really got into the songs. The band was killer! I'm not sure who all the players were but they were all great. Drums, bass, percussion, piano and a multi-instrumentalist playing accordion/xylophone and some guitar. As I figured too, this is when they started playing a lot of the songs off of the new record. They changed all the songs slightly but the performances were killer.

Overall I really enjoyed the entire show. It had been a very long time since I'd gone to see any concerts of note and this one didn't disappoint at all. If you ever have the opportunity to check out Iron and Wine, do it. It'll pull you back to a place of inner calmness, and on other songs let you release your cooped up energy.

We're heading back home (my home) tomorrow for Thanksgiving with the Lawrence's. I'm really looking forward to it. I haven't been home in a long time and it will also be nice to get our heads out of the new house stuff, and show off some pictures of the house to my family.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

whistle while you work

Got out early on this cold day and headed to Lock4 or the SORBA trail work day. 15 people came to help build a reroute around an eroded section of trail. We were able to get the entire 300 foot section cleared and ready to ride in about 3 hours. It was cold but we all warmed up fast working in the dirt.

A group of us headed to Chili's for some much needed fuel and we all had intentions of riding the trail after. Well, after feeding out faces for over an hour, most bailed on the ride and it was left to Thad and I to try out the new trail section alone. I needed the head-clearing ride through the woods and tried my best to keep the pace up; didn't hurt that my ears and toes were a bit chilly. I need to get me one of them fancy flappy Walz caps, maybe Santa will hear me.

The new section rode very well and should be well packed in a just a few days with the amount of traffice Lock4 sees. There were already multiple tracks in it in the couple hours it took us to get back from lunch.

Here are some photos of the workday courtesy of BigPoppy....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finishing projects and gettin settled

We've been living in the new house for about 5 days now. Finally! What a trip it's been since we closed at the end of Sept. I remember when it was hot in the house and I was sweating working on it, now it's 30 degrees out and we're finding out how drafty an old house can be. We're finding all of our sweaters and all my wool Swiftwicks are being worn. The big unpacking project is going to take a while but we're slowly making progress. I had to cash in some moving karma and call a lot of friends to help me move the big heavy stuff. Thanks everyone!! You were all lifesavers! I promise we'll have you over soon!

I'll leave you with some teaser shots and get back to work here. (to pay for all this!)

This door was literally pealing apart. I had to show it who was boss in my house...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Swank 65 2008 Report

Ok, so fitting that I start this report right after coming home from the typical Thurs night Tap room evening with dinner at Pizza Perrrrrrfect. Thad came over and we moved a bunch of not-so-heavy-but awkward furniture to the new house. We got a lot moved, yet forgot Beth's computer which was a big oops. We were done though in time to get back to the condo and changed and on the bikes in time to hit the tap room. The usual occured from then on and we ended the night at Pizza Perfect and then a brisk ride regreting the decision to not bring my wool and borrowing a vest from Thad.

So..... Swank 2008 eh? Well if you are one of the few who actually keep up with this blog, you'll know that I was in no shape for this race. I've had a lot of big changes and events over the past 2 months and riding my bike just hasn't been on the top of my priority list. I think I had about 25 miles total for the month of Oct and I was entering a 40 mile bike race?? yep! I was paid up and had a hotel room and was already in North Carolina for a craft show so why not? At least I'd get a nice long ride in the woods out of it. Well, I got a lot more!

We didn't get into Brevard until about 11:30pm Sat night so we just hung at the hotel and went to bed. 7am came fast and I was chowing on some hotel breakfast borritos and loading up the car. Beth and I rode to the starting area/campground at Cove Creek and started to get my stuff organized. After an hour or so of getting situated and catching up with some of the other Yazoo riders and Nashvillians, it was time for the race meeting. The morning was cold... like 35 degrees cold. I debated on what to wear but ended up with just my wool jersey and arm warmers. This ended up being perfect. I'd packed a long sleeve lycra shirt but never needed it. The wool was all that was needed. Oh and I was also rocking my new pair of Swiftwick 12" over-the-calf Merino wool socks. These were awesome. I never thought about them during the ride other than to think, man these socks rock, I'm not even thinking about them. I loved the compression style of them and they were never too much or made me hot or itch. (which for me is a big deal. I generally have hot legs... yea... hawt)

The race meeting went off quickly and we got in line for the Leman's start. I think someone said go and we all meandered into the woods. Jut popped out of no where and we learned he wasn't racing but was gonna stick around for moral and liquid support. We walked our little stretch of woods and then got on the bike and headed into the woods only to be stalled immediately by the train of riders. Lots of granny ring riding with some barely-pedaling going on for us single speeders. Eliot finally passed me and I saw the light and caught his wheel to get around as many people as we could before the numerous bridges forced us to dismount.

After this climb I don't remember all that much other than some fireroad climbing, some singletrack and then we were at Checkpoint #1 already. I was feeling good at this point and already loving my gear choice. (32x21) I got refueled and pushed on. My plan for the day was just to ride as long as I could until I either quit or was told I was done. They weren't having a time limit for the race this year so it was just up to me to quit.... so basically as they say "I'm too dumb to quit" so I kept going. I met up with Keith at this checkpoint and we rode the next few miles together.

Keith and I rode the next fireroad climb together and then down as the air cooled. The whole race was a combination of warm uphills and cold decending; arm warmers up and down, up and down. After the fireroad section we entered some singletrack followed with a very eroded, tough single track climb which forced me to walk for the first time. I've discovered one of my weaknesses.... If I see someone else walking, I'm doomed. I made the first section of this climb and even got some props from the female rider ahead of me, but I just had to glance up the trail and see a guy walking his bike. I said (out loud) "Oh crap".... and after about 3 more pedals strokes I was off the bike and walking.... morale gone. Wonder if this is something I can work on or if it's just me. I'm slowly getting better at not looking too far up the trail during climbs and sticking with a series of small victories to get me up.

I arrived at checkpoint 2 (mile 20) feeling pretty good, but starting to get some leg cramps. I was expecting to quit at this check point or be told I was out of time. Since there was no time cutoff I thought for a while about what I wanted to do. Thad mentioned I should quit here if I wasn't feeling like I could finish. Fred said I should push on to Farlow Gap and then quit after that since I'd be close to the start/finish. I decided that I hadn't suffered enough yet. I'd done 3 Snake Creek Gap races and knew was I had to go through to finish those and thought I hadn't worked hard enough yet in Swank to quit here so I decided to push on.

I walked the bulk of the 3 mile fireroad climb up to Farlow Gap. Most of the riders around me were walking and the few that were on their bikes weren't going much faster than me. I rode for as long as I could, but the quad cramps were keeping me on foot. I was using this time to refuel as much as i could and get some electrolites ingested. Everyone around me were new racers to Swank, and were getting very frustrated with the length of this climb. I just settled in, knowing it was a long and steep one. Once we got to Farlow Gap I got back on the bike and rode as far as I could. I didn't know I would be able to ride any of it so I was excited and confused to be riding the first stretch. I just kept looking ahead, waiting to see this gnarly, un-ridable trail. Well, I finally came upon it and quickly dismounted. About 20 min later (or it seemed) I seemed to be at the bottom but the trail was still too technical for me to ride. Then it started going uphill!! I was warned about Farlow, I knew what to expect mostly, but I didn't know that there was a considerable uphill stretch that I wouldn't be able to ride either. This is where I started to see Snake Creek Gap similiarities and started to suffer some. After this uphill was over it was pretty tame until the 3rd checkpoint.

The volunteers at the checkpoints were awesome. It was like a pit crew, even though I was in the back of the pack. They were taking my camel back, taking bottles off my bike and refilling them. There was all kinds of food available. I couldn't of asked for more help.

At the 3rd checkpoint I knew I was only a little ways from the finish/campground. I could either ride the last 10 miles, or quit and ride 1.5 miles out. hmmmm tough decision, especially considering I was only expecting to make it about halfway. I asked if they could describe the rest of the trail and of course it was said something like, "It's easy, all downhill from here". These words are never to be trusted. I pressed them hard for the truth and learned that we basically rode the first loop again but backwards then we'd be done. OK, I thought, I can do this and I set up, with a guy right behind me.

I made my way up what turned into about a 2.5-3 mile gentle fireroad climb. I passed a few folks I'd ridden with down Farlow and just settled in for the long haul. I started riding with guy named Abhay. He was on a 1x9 and I was on my SS so we kept switching positions during the climb. I'd pass when it got a bit harder and he'd gear up, and he'd pass when it flattened out a little. We kept climbing forever.... really. We started riding an overgrown section of fireroad which at the time I thought looked familiar. We even rode past a tombstone-like thing on the side of the trail that I remember passing earlier. I just remember thinking,"When will this climb end?" We rode that fireroad until it ended and spit us onto some singletrack off to the left. We rode this downhill for about a 1/3 of a mile to a T intersection. We didn't know which way to go and we noticed that we couldn't see any ribbons guiding us.... strange. We looked and explored both directions but couldn't find any ribbons. We decided to back track a little to find the last ribbon we'd seen. Ok, we can't find any ribbons. hmm strange. Then we finally find one, but it's on the ground. Is someone taking down the ribbons already?? We kept backtracking for lack of a better idea. We made it all the way back to the fireroad and hadn't seen any ribbons. Neither of us knew what to do or where to go but we knew that we didn't have much daylight left. We decided to continue backtracking since we thought that was the most logical thing to do. Maybe someone was collecting the trail marking ribbons already, we thought or maybe we'll run into the sweeper.

We kept riding and riding.... and riding and riding. Man, we rode a long ways without seeing any ribbons. Then we found the ribbons we'd seen earlier. Ok, we aren't crazy, we did have reason to ride this way. "Wait, or those ribbons 1" wide or 2" wide? Maybe those are old ribbons?" We continued to backtrack and finally came upon the very obvious left turn into Cove Creek Trail that we'd ridden right by. How did we ride by this you ask? Well, me and Abhay have NO IDEA!! I mean there were ribbons, signs and wrong-way signs that we rode right by somehow. Unfortunately for us, within a quarter mile of this turn, there are these old ribbons that we mistook and continued to follow. I bet we rode atleast 2.5-3 miles out of the way before turning back, and then we had to ride back.

So after an hour or so of exploring, we were finally back on track. This section of trail was the part that we had ridden at the beginning. The part that I was looking for forever and thinking I was on. So we quickly put away the questions of how we got off track and just rode fast towards the finish. This was the uphill secton that was slow going at the beginning but wasn't that steep, just backed up with riders. Lots of roots which slowed Abhay down with his rigid fork but the trail was fast and flowing downhill which was nice after all the climbing. We knew we were close to the end which gave us a burst of energy to get done. I had no idea how long I'd be out, what time it was or anything. I just knew I was close to being done and I was super frustrated from being lost for so long.

To my surprise I was being cheered as I got closer. My friends and teammates had stuck around to wait for me to finish. What a great feeling... not only to finish but to ride into such a crowd. Beth was there and I knew she was probably wondering where I was and if I was ok. I'd told her to meet me back at the start/finish area around 3-3:30pm and it was now about 5:30pm but I was done. I exceeded my expectations and finished the longest off-road ride ever. Of course I was and am frustrated about getting lost and wish I would of finished when I should have, about an hour earlier, but I finished, which I wasn't expecting to. I didn't think I could finish the 38 mile race, but ended up with around 45 miles when it was all said and done and was out for about 7 1/2 hours. It totally didn't seem like that long.

This race was awesome. I felt comfortable on so many of the climbs which never happens. I was passing people which never happens. I got lost, which generally doesn't happen. The course was fun and a good mixture of trail types. In a perfect world, I would of loved to of had more singletrack and less fireroads, mainly in the section from Farlow to the end, but eh... theres no reason to complain. The course was a great summary of riding in Pisgah and truthfully if there was much more singletrack, Pisgah-style climbing involved, I wouldn't of been able to ride it anyhow and probably would of been cramping and walking. A big thanks to Todd for organizing such a great event and to all the volunteers for pulling it off and offering so much help to all the racers. I had a great time and will definately try my best to ride this race again next year.

Big thanks to gRant for letting me borrow his 21t cog. I thought I wanted to run 32x20 for this race. I even bought a 20t cog but something wasn't right and it wouldn't fit on my wheel. gRant stepped up with not only a cog, but also a sweet Swiftwick dry-fit style shirt and a great pair of 12" Merino wool socks. gRant, you'll a Godsend...can't say I would of finished the race without your help! 32x21 was the magic gear for me on Sunday. It worked so well for all the climbs but a few, what more could you ask for in a SS gearing? I felt more comfortable on the fireroad climbs than I've even felt before.

(Sorry this report may be a bit discombobulated and is missing a lot from the race, but that's what you get when I write this after a few Yazoos... mmm Fresh Hops)

Race report coming soon, not this soon.

Better late than never right? I just can't get caught up on things right now. Life is whizzing by and I'm trying to keep on top of everything. After a couple long days of work and packing and moving, there was little time to write a race report from Swank65. It's now Thurs AM and I've yet to start and only have a few minutes before I have to go to the new house with a truck-load and meet the tile guy. So, I've decided I'll just start the report and hopefully work on it as I get time. Maybe I'll have to post an interim entry before I post the full report.

J5's coming over this afternoon to help move some things with me, then we are planning to ride into the city to the tap room as a reward.

My body is still isn't quite recovered from Swank. I felt pretty good Monday which was just a cruel joke for the tightness and cramped calves I dealt with Tuesday and Wed. It didn't help at all that I was sitting at work much of Tuesday. Everytime I'd get up it was like I had to re-stretch my calves from years of being bent. Ouch!

Stay tuned for a full race report very soon. For now I'll say the race rocked! I felt better than I should all day. Had some cramping late in the ride to deal with, but surprising I was able to keep it under control and ride almost all the climbing in the last 10 mile stretch, even the extra 1.5 miles of climbing I did. (more on that later) I surpassed my goal for the day by a long shot which was also a big surprise.

My pictures from the race are up on my Flickr page though, and the results and race photos are posted up on the Swank65 site.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

it exists

I should start by welcoming myself back to my blog. Life is super busy right now, though I don't think I've been this productive for such a long period in my life. The house renovations are coming along and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or at least we can envision ourselves moving very soon...Tonight we got all the appliances back in their homes minus the dishwasher and have started putting the new cabinet hardware on our nicely painted-over X-shellacked cabinets. Of course we are heading right back out of town again this weekend so next week if our goal to start the real moving-in.

On a equally (maybe not quite) exciting note... my new bike exists. Unfortunately it's still in Michigan firmly attached to a rigid jig but don't it look pretty?! Beth says: What are those green things? I say, who cares about the green things, this bike looks hawt! I'm still slowly collecting parts for the build. I've stalled with most of my money going into the house and also because the landing date of my new Quiring is in such flux.

Looks like I'll be entering the Swank 65 race on my trusty Soma. It's gotten me through 3 Snake Creek Gap's so I have confidence it won't let me down. I tried planning ahead this time in my granny-gear cog acquisition. Then I left the job of installing the cog until the last minute, only to find it may be defective and need to be returned. The search is on now for a 20t cog for the weekend so I have some ounce of enjoying my 6+ hours in the woods at Swank. This is when it's great to know we have such a generous riding community here. I quickly thought of a list of friends I could ask a favor of (not something I love doing) and within 5 minutes had one offer. Unfortunately it will mean I'd be taking away this person opportunity to ride their bike over the weekend so I'm holding out for another helpful soul with a 20t cog. I'm feeling lucky though.

Friday, October 17, 2008

riding again

Tuesday was the Sorba Full Moon Fandango night ride at Lock4. We had a huge turnout of over 30 riders who all donned lights and hit the trail after a short raffle by Sorba/Darryl. For the first time ever, I won something at a raffle! I won a polar insulated water bottle... score!

Everyone got settled in with their group and rode the trail at their own pace. It was fun being
out there with that many other riders. I'm used to only night riding with about 3-4 other people so 30 was awesome. It was neat to see the lights dance around the woods and hear everyone having fun. Thankfully no one jumped out to scare me, though I heard some other riders weren't so lucky. We did have a stealth cop pop up all over the place shooting video and taking pictures. You can view them HERE.

We had 5 Yazoo riders there with Biteme, J5, I'mJ5'sWife and Hennessee. It was great to see J5 and his new wife again since I had to miss their nuptials, even better to see H on the bike.

photos courtesy of TVA448

Last night was tap room night at Yazoo, but the rain kept us all off our bikes. I was really hoping to ride in as I'm in bike withdraw. The rain just kept coming down all day and never let up for more than 1/2 hr or so. We still had a great time at Yazoo and then headed over to Las Palmas for some grub. I hadn't been there in a long time so that was a treat and it was fun to meet some new friends and get to know them better.

Beth and I are heading to a show in Alabama today. Should be great weather and we are hoping for another great show! We could use the money now that we are home owners! heh You all just wait.... shin digs are in the works for the coming months. Now that we will have enough room to both breathe at the same time, we'll have people over more.

I found out that a friend of mine was in a bad motorcycle accident this week. Hodge, who's a hell of a guy, rider and shop owner in Georgia. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers as he goes into surgery and starts the road to recovery.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

news celebrites

Well Beth and I made it on the news again recently. This time it was for Channel 4's story on recently heightened crime in Green Hills. (a topic we know a little bit about)

Here is a link to the video:

We were just leaving our local Starbucks and were stopped and asked if we'd like to talk a little about the recent crimes that have happened in Green Hills. Beth jumped at the chance and her bit made it to the final edit. The Game Stop store was just robbed at gun point a couple nights ago which is what fueled the story. Add to it all the recent shooting at the Roma's Pizza which is close to the Game Stop.

Yea, we've moving out.... :) Hope the new neighborhood is calm and crime free!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Life has been moving swiftly the past couple weeks. Curve balls were thrown but everything has been taken in stride and we are all coping with what life has given us. Renovations have started in full force at our new house; cleaning/priming cabinets, prepping floors for tile, gutting bathrooms... here are some pics of my life this past week.

Haven't been on a bike in 2 weeks, which is great preparation for the longest bike race/ride of my life coming up on Nov 9th. oops... I have some work lined up this afternoon (real studio work, not house work) and then I'm planning on heading to Lock4 for the big SORBA group night ride. I think I remember how to mtn bike. I'm looking forward to catching up with a lot of peeps I've haven't talked to in weeks.

Monday, September 29, 2008


sorrow shared is sorrow diminished

"If a friend of mine gave a feast, and did not invite me to it, I should not mind a bit. But, if a friend of mine had a sorrow and refused to allow me to share it, I should feel it most bitterly. If he shut the doors of his house of mourning against me, I would move back again and again and beg to be admitted, so that I might share in what I was entitled to share. If he thought me unworthy, unfit to weep with him, I should feel it as the most poignant humiliation, as the most terrible mode by which disgrace could be inflicted upon me, he who can look on the loveliness of the world and share its sorrow, and realize something of the wonder of both, is in immediate contact with divine things, and has got as near to God's secret as anyone can get."

-- Oscar Wilde

I've been sharing the sorrow of the loss of a brother-in-law to me; a brother, a son and a friend to many others. I've been sharing the sorrow and keeping the sorrow to myself at the same time. On some levels it's completely unexplainable, yet we try to understand it and discuss every possible reason.

I try to be there for others to aide in the grief, yet shy away from letting my friends help me with the burden. I give advice and don't take it myself. I'm human.

Suicide is never the answer.....

Tell those you love what they mean to you. Live today, like there may not be a tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Commuting bliss

This week's weather has been fantastic. Sure no one has gas and the city is turning into a desolate noman's land, but the sun is shining and the temps are great! Come on out!

After consecutive days of breakfast meetings at Bongo Java, Thad and I rode down to Cool Springs again yesterday, this time it was actually a commute-to-work ride for me. Just like Monday, it was a bit chilly at 7am but was perfect by 8:30 and manageable for the ride home at 5:30pm. The commute to downtown Franklin is a little longer taking Thad's route, but the company makes up for it.

My legs are still quite sore and dead feeling from our lazer tag games on Sat. It was nice to know though that even despite the soreness I could have two 50+ mile rides back to back without much issue. I'm hoping this will be some good base fitness to help me at Swank 65, cus I need it! Or maybe I need to be playing laser tag a few times a week to get in shape.

Exciting home buying times lie ahead. We are closing on our first house next week and have already begun purchasing things to remodel the kitchen and bathrooms. It's been probably the most stressful thing Beth and I have had to do together to date, but the reward will be immense! We are so excited to finally have a house that is ours! I'm sure I'll post some photos once it's actually ours and include some before and after shots.

Bike lanes on Belmont Blvd are filling up.... come get you some! You don't need gas to get where you wanna go!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I got gas, and got on the news

Hey look, now when you get gas, you have the chance of making the evening news. Who knew getting gas was so news worthy! :)

Check the link and watch the video til the end, or skip to the end:

After getting lunch and doing some new home accessory shopping in Berry Hill, Beth and I drove past about 10 stations without gas before getting in line on Overhill Rd to get gas at the Exxon in Green Hills. Thankfully we only had to wait about 15 minutes, as I was down to about my last gallon of gas. I hoped it would get better by this afternoon but it appears that this week is going to be a repeat of last week.

I'm planning on commuting by bike as much as I can this week. We started this morning with Mike N (Avg8ball) and Thad (Johnny5) and JScarf at Bongo Java for "Biker Breakfast" before heading down to Cool Springs by bike via Franklin Road. Mike and I both had the day off of work so we continued the ride over to Harpeth Bikes and then on through some lovely country roads to Percy Warner park. We're plannin another "Biker Breakfast" at Bongo tomorrow with a commute to Cool Springs/Franklin again by bike. This time though I'll be heading into work at the Bennett House to finish up a mastering project I started last week.

Good luck with the gas hunt out there guys! Limit your trips unless you like $3.99 gas and waiting in line to get it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

showering lasers and left handed golf clubs

Last night was a co-ed couples shower (is that redundant?) for J5 and his lovely fiancée. Planned activities included some outdoor laser tag at the Drakes Creek Activity Center with some tasty refreshments, yummy pizza and peppers and then some miniature golf.

Thankfully Thad passed along the website for the laser tag place so I could find out that it was actually outdoor and Beth and I could plan our attire. I hadn't played laser tag since I was about 12 when my brother and I had it. We braved the gas-less abyss and drove up to Hendersonville to shoot our friends with infrared beams of light.

After picking our weapons and learning some basics we headed out to the 5 acre field and quickly got started shooting each other and learning how to die. We played a bunch of different type of games all involving running, ducking, hiding, crouching, shooting, getting hit, and friendly fire. The course was awesome, with lots of wooded area with little sneaky lines built into the brush. Though it was still hard to stay totally covered from everyone at all times. It seemed there was always someone on the other team in a spot to shoot you, no matter where you tried to hide.

After finally wearing ourselves out and many of us being completely soaked in sweat (or was it just me) we were treated to yummy pizza's and beer provided by Jeanie and her larger than life husband, 8Ball. We headed in to get our putt putt gear next and hit the course right away. I started things off strong with an immediate hole in one, only to be later shown up by a hole in one by a 2 year old. Putt Putt was a blast as usual even though we did have to split the group up. Thankfully the rain stayed away until most had finished their game and we congregated back at the picnic tables for cake and lots of "Hey, remember when I shot you that one time when you were behind that hay bale? Man that was awesome!"

We managed to make it back to Green Hills without running out of gas, or meeting any dusty characters from Mad Max trying to siphon our gas as a red light. But every gas station we passed on the 25 mile drive home was out of gas.

On to some pics:
Hilary learning the scope:

Thad and Mike after some sweaty gaming... Thad sporting the tired bluesteel look, Mike looking like he's cleaning his teeth with his beer.

Me, about to scarf some pizza.... SSUSA represent!

Oh how I love you pepperoncini.... you complete my pizza experience!

Thad and Hillary received new bridal themed Walz Caps....(the backs say Bride and Groom)

Melanie shows Troy how it's done

Thad waits patiently to interfere with Hilary's shot

You can view all the rest of my photos here: Thad and Hilary's Couples Shower

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