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.

Who links to my website?