Saturday, January 23, 2010

A true weekend

My weekend started a day early this week. Not that I really have any weekends. I'd say I generally work more on weekends than not or at least 50/50. This friday was an exception. I drove out to the Cheatham Wildlife Center/Harpeth River State Park for some nice gravel grinding. Some of the usual suspects came as well like 2009 Dirty Kanza finisher Jeff Scott, local BA Jim Simms and a new rider to gravel came out, Tim Denise.

They all were being harder-edge than me and rode from their respective houses to meet me at the Narrows parking lot. The weather was perfect for a day on gravel. Foggy, overcast, somewhere between cold and comfortable with a good wind. I setup the Quiring in it's Dirty Kanza setup even pulling out the 3rd bottle mount courtesy of gRant. 32x16 was the gear of choice for the locals of the area and thankfully I already had my Small Block8 tires mounted, a fav of mine on the gravel. It's like my bike knew it was going to get some gravel soon.

We hit the road quickly after the boys finally found me, patiently waiting in a different parking lot than the one Jeff told me to go to. We had to ride a little bit of pavement to the gravel but it passed quickly and gave us all time to catch up and ask what we'd all been doing since we last rode together, which was a long while for me. When we hit the gravel it was full on, rutted, muddy with huge dark puddles and some sections of thick, tire sucking gravel. The overall elevation isn't much in this area but the route we were on started up first, then after a little bit of flat, it was up more. We got the first big climb out of the way early and it thankfully wasn't long, just a small gut buster with some power tapping gravel near the top.

We rode the rolling hills expanding and contracting like an accordian. Jeff would show up and ride off the front, then wait on us, then Jim would do the same. This was only my second ride since before Christmas so I was just pacing myself and spinning a good cadence. The course was perfect to help ramp me back into riding shape. Lots of small rolling hills that keep your heart-rate slightly elevated but nothing to kill you.

Tim's new Misfit Fe steel ride...lookin' great with gravel grime

We did a couple out and backs which included a pit stop at the ranger station. We didn't see anyone else out in the park except 2-3 cars passing. I had to finish up by 12 so they rolled me back to the park entrance I had left my truck and they rolled on to finish their longer rides.

After my ride, I had plans to go and meet Mathew Portell and help him clean up the new Ride for Reading building. A few guys came out to help unload some donated books and shelves. Mathew and I had our water sprayers that we loaded up with a bleach solution and hit all the molded studs in the building. Ironically this building used to be the Roofer's Union and it apparently had terrible roof leaks. We worked for a couple hours and rewarded ourselves with a bit of far it was a good day.

Mathew and I ready for action

Today, Saturday, turned out to be another great day. I had grand plans of getting up early and hitting the road on the Crosscheck to ride down to Harpeth Bicycles liquidation sale. I figured about 1.5 hr ride and the shop opened at 9am. Well, I got out of bed at 7:30am, and it was crazy foggy at my house. So, I decided I didn't want to be rushing down a foggy Franklin Rd with not-so-careful Nashville drivers trying to get to a big bike sale. I did still go by car and showed up right at 9am to see at least 10 people hanging outside the shop, waiting to get in. Luckily there was no Walmart-style trampling to get inside but things were getting picked up fast and with authority. I mean when everything is 50% off, it's easier to make decisions for sure.

I brought a list of things I was looking for and was able to pick up a lot of smaller items. Bottle cage/power link/bartape, the essentials. I even scored a set of used tires for a steal that are in great shape and will work great for commuting. One thing I was looking for was some panniers for my new rear rack I got from my brother for Christmas. They only had one option there and I hemmed and hawed about it for awhile. I even left it on the wall and paid for all my other stuff. Well no one else was interested in it and it was just staring at me so I reconsidered it and thought, for the price, I was almost dumb to not buy it. So I did and threw it on the bike right when I got home. It's the Eleven81 City Limit bag which is all one piece and hangs on the rack.

After lunch I threw some random things in the panniers and hit to road to go hang with Dan at Eastside Cycles for a bit. I also got a pair of new Mavic shoes that I was eager to get cleats on and all setup. The trail & error part of getting new shoes setup is not something I'm fond of. The stopping and tweaking the angle of the cleat ever so slightly, the thinking while pedaling: is my cleat to far forward on my shoe. Ugh frustrating, but it's something I haven't had to deal with for over 4 years with my Sidis. So a shakedown ride was in order, and I also though a trip over to Eastside and back was a better ride for this than a 45 mile roundtrip to Harpeth Bicycles.

Everything worked great on the bike and I was even happy with my cleats overall, though I had moved them twice last night in preparation. It was quite windy today though; lots of crosswind on the trip over to the shop, but almost all headwind on the way home. I generally always take the round-about way to get downtown, preferring trips down Belmont Ave or 12th Ave over Nolensville. I'm only 4.5 miles from the shop by car, but my route over was 8.5. I decided to try a new route home and just ride straight down 4th Ave as it turns into Nolensville. That was a mistake! At least for today with the wind. What should of been a 3 mile shorter route took me exactly the same amount of time as it did to get to the shop. Riding up a gradual 2.5 mile hill on Nolensville into a 15+mph wind was slow going. Well lesson learned now. I was thinking this route would allow me to avoid a pretty big hill but I think I'd prefer to ride that shorter, steeper hill than the long one up Nolensville.

So 2 great cycling day back to back with some other fun stuff in between. Yep, start of a great weekend. I refueled tonight with Beth's family at Carrabas for her sister's birthday, yum! On the books tomorrow is church and then I actually have to go in to the studio and do some recording so my weekend I guess is over tonight. Next week will be prepping for our trip to the NYC wholesale show with Freshie & Zero, then a week out of town. Last big trip before our lives change forever!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy New Year!

Never did make it back here to share our trip to Utah. It was a lot of fun, I got to know Beth's family better, found out about some great new beers, did some awesome skiing, and broke my ski boots that were 15 years old. I posted up my photos from the trip on my Flickr page HERE so you can live vicariously through them if you want. The weather was colder overall this year but unfortunately I still was not able to experience the true, amazing, second-to-none dry powder skiing that Utah is known for. But of course I still managed to have a great time on the slopes! I hung out with Beth's sister, her step-dad and his brother's family on the slopes almost the entire first day. It was really fun to watch them pick up skiing and get better and better each run they took. It's tough to learn to ski the older you keep and I have a lot of respect for Beth's stepdad and his brother for trying it over 50, and not getting so frustrated they gave up. I was fortunate to learn when I was young around 4th grade but I've witnessed many an adult try to learn and give up. It's tough!

After Utah we got back to town and only had 3 days to get all our stuff organized and packed for our trip to Atlanta for the Americas Mart Gift Show. We did this same show last Jan and July so thankfully most of our display was already worked out and made. Beth still had to bust out 1 of every style she makes which is a ton, easily over 120 pieces. We were in Atlanta for 6 days selling jewelry to owners of boutiques and other stores. We got back last Thurs and jumped back into work. I had some studio work lined up and Beth had whole orders to fill and retail website orders to get out.

I got all Bob Ross on Beth when she asked me to touch up the white canvases!

We've finally had some time to get organized and get Christmas totally put away, cleaned up and stored. Our downstairs is starting to look normal again and I even had time to get outside for a bike ride. I met up with my friend Graham from NMB and we rode a cold lap at Percy Warner park. I cut it to just one lap as my feet were pretty cold and I'm out of shape truthfully. I have been off the bike completely through the holidays and Monday was my first ride of the new year. We got dinner and some beers after the ride which were earned. I tried to ride just enough to justify a couple pints of the Sweet Potato Stout that was a 2 for 1 deal at the Brewhouse 100.

Oh and I got a new pair of cycling kicks from my mother in law for Christmas anxious to try them out!

I decided to make an attempt to participate in the 365 "project" on Flickr. Post 1 photo every day for a year. So far I'm off to a decent start, though not all my photos have been that interesting, or that high quality. I think it will be interesting to look back at the end of the year and see what all I thought was worth documenting. 2010 will be quite a different year for Beth and I with a baby girl on the way so this should be fun. I'm also going to try to not be too anal about it and not worry if I miss a day here or there. You can follow it if you're interested here: Chewieez 365.

Hopefully I'll also begin to keep this blog more up-to-date in 2010. I have been quite a slacker lately.

Friday, January 01, 2010

We're not in Kansas anymore....

big scenery change.....

more later...

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