Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Klunkin' As Promised

Wow, it looks like I'm getting back to sorta regular blogging.  Maybe.

So last week I had good intentions (and was pretty busy), but when I finally got ready to post something I just couldn't.  You see, we (our cycling community) lost a great man last week to a tragic accident.  Jeff Archer, the proprietor of First Flight Bicycles and the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology, lost his life to a drunk driver and I (like everyone else) was pretty broken up about it.  I didn't get all the way up to Statesville to visit as much as I wanted, but that didn't mean that hanging out there wasn't one of my favorite things to do.

Photo cred: Jonathan F.

Jeff has done so much for the local bike community, and he's the primary reason that we have a trail system in Lake Norman State Park.  He was one of the most knowledgeable and helpful people I've ever met too.  

Which brings me to my ride over the weekend...

Quite some time ago, my in-laws gave me an old Schwinn that had been sitting in a barn.  Instead of restoring it, I decided to turn it into a Klunker.  I went to see Jeff at First Flight because of his extensive knowledge about old bikes, and he ended up providing a set of modern wheels to get the thing rolling again.  He actually did a lot more than provide wheels though.  Click here to read it again.

So I've told that story before, but I probably forgot to mention one part:

The day I picked up the wheels, we chatted a bit about how I planned to use the bike.  I told him that it would mainly be a pub crawl bike, but that I intended to one day take it on some long, downhill gravel roads "like the old timers did."  He laughed (I can still hear him), and said he couldn't wait to hear all about it.  I promised him that I would, and that I'd probably be back in there for more parts when I did.  Unfortunately, he never got a chance to hear all about it because I kept chickening out.

That changed on Sunday.  

There was a memorial service for Jeff that day and I wanted to go to pay my respects.  I woke up and decided that I didn't want to be sad about this anymore and instead I would do something I promised him I would do.  I grabbed my nearly sixty year old bike and headed over to our little mountains to the East.

  
With the goal of riding fast on the downhills, I had to go up first:


It was high noon and nearly one hundred degrees.  I was on a bike that weighed probably fifty pounds, had a ridiculously hard gear, and might even break under my weight.  I was in for a long day.  While it may seem like a dumb idea trying to ride that contraption "like the old timers did", I was keeping a promise I'd made a few years ago.

It still meant something to me, even though now it was probably too late. 

Tomorrow, part two.  You know, the actual riding part.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Take Two

I was busy, so that's my reason for not being here.  Good enough?  Good.  Anyway, time to start catching up.  Not too long ago I took my boy Lunchbox on a road trip so he could experience the same fun I had on the Virginia Creeper Trail.

We left the B-43 Worldwide Headquarters bright and early.  It started raining on us a little bit once we got in the NC mountains and continued for a while.  I wasn't worried though, because the forecast at our destination was good.  Eventually we crossed the border into Tennessee and Lunchbox celebrated his first-ever trip to that state.


Unfortunately, there aren't too many great things about that part of the state.  Unless you like wieners.


Or home-made convertible trucks...


Luckily, we didn't have to spend very much time there, and before we knew it we were in Virginia with clear skies ahead.


We rolled into the town of Damascus and went to the shuttle place that I'd used the weekend prior.  Again, we got comments about how we must be serious bike riders, mostly because ours were nicer than the ones they rented.


After a thirty minute trip to Whitetop Mountain, we were ready to ride downhill back to town.  Lunchbox was excite, and tried to take it all in.


We stopped a lot to see everything...


and even made some new friends along the way:


I was just happy to be riding with my son, who also happens to be "in the industry."


I kept asking if he was having fun, and how did he like the scenery.  He kept saying, "It's so pretty here."

Indeed it was.



We stopped along the way for lunch, and I didn't even take a photo.  Hell, I took fewer photos than I usually do.  I just wanted to have another nice day on the bike and enjoy the company of my giant kid who doesn't ride as much as he once did.  With about eighteen miles for the day, we rolled into town and talked about how much fun we just had.

It was great for sure.  And of course, I hit up the local brewery again.


And it rained on us on the way home.


It was definitely a perfect day.  I know, I need to get to some "real" riding again soon, but for now I'm all about the fun.  Remember what I said...

Ride your bike, look at pretty stuff, drink beer, and have fun.

Let's do more of that from now on.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fun Friday

Friday again.  Radical. This week zoomed by.  In fact, in seemed much faster than last week even though that one was only four days.  I don't get it, but I am happy.  Now I can make plans.

Perhaps I can read a book...


Or go out to catch some of those Pokemon things.

No.  I don't do that shit.


I actually do have plans.  I had so much fun last weekend in Virginia that I'm planning to do it again.  This time though, I'm bringing Lunchbox.  You know, that dude that works in the bike industry but has been too busy to ride bikes.  I talked him into it, sorta.  He likes it when we spend time together, but I think the main thing that convinced him was the photos from last weekend's ride.  He enjoys the outdoors too, and when I told him that it's all downhill he was in.

Plus, he likes to go fast.


We're gonna do thirty speed.  I am excite.

See y'all next week.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cruisin' for Brews-n

After riding over seventeen miles up in the mountains of Virginia, I wasn't really worn out.  It was all downhill, remember?  With another free day though, I had to get out and ride again to get some uh, exercise.  A road ride appealed to me again for some reason, so I planned a quick route and headed out in the heat of the day to get into another adventure.

I knew my ride was off to a good start as soon as I left my neighborhood and saw a new bike lane.


My destination would eventually be somewhere in Uptown Charlotte, so I had to get on some normally crowded roads to get there.  Sunday rides on city roads are normally traffic and headache free for me, but there's some recent construction that made this part of the ride a pain in the ass.


I stuck with it, hoping it would get better (and I didn't have a backup plan.)  It was almost two miles of that shit, but before I knew it I was in the city...

And at a baseball game.


I don't really dig baseball, so I rode across the street to the park to cool off for a minute.


And I sat there a while watching people try to catch ALL THE POKEMON!


I was bored so it was time to get someone fun.  Just a few short blocks away and I ended up at The Unknown Brewery.  They haz bike parking inside.


When I bellied up to the bar, I was asked how I was doing.

"I require beer", I said.

"No problem.  We got you covered."


Over the Edge IPA.  So refreshing.

I enjoyed that beer, and I was asked if I needed another.  I couldn't resist.




I realized that being over eighteen miles from the house, I should probably cut myself off there.  I said goodbye, hopped on my bike, and slowly pedaled away to wherever the hell I was trying to go next.



Sundays in Charlotte are usually pretty relaxing, since the streets aren't crowded at all.  I like that.


I eventually started heading in the general direction of home.  I took a different way back, but I didn't get very far until I was distracted again.

By beer of course.


Damn it.  I was having fun, but I had to get my ass back home.  The ride was painfully hot, even though I was a little numbed by the beer I'd consumed.  I somehow made it back home, enjoying the shit outta the long downhill that leads into my neighborhood.  Another good road ride, if there is such a thing.

I seem to be enjoying the skinny tires lately.  That much be due to the beer.

I'm good with that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Creepin' 2

Oh, the title?  Okay, I'll say it.

Electric Boogaloo.

Moving on...

Since our ride was so long (and I took so many photos), I stopped yesterday somewhere at our halfway point.  After the first little cafe thingy, we headed back downhill towards the town of Damascus.  It was then that I took my favorite photo of the day:


There weren't many wide open spots out there, but when we found them the views were pretty awesome.  After that it was back under the canopy and alongside the river again for a little while.  When the trail passed through another little town though, we opted to stop for some ice cream by the river.

 
After that short break, we zoomed back down towards town.  But not without stopping again to check out the water and bridges a few more times.




Before we knew it, we were getting close to town.  It was then that I realized how little pedaling I'd actually done.  It was a ton of fun coasting for over seventeen miles through some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever viewed, and we even enjoyed the little hippie town at the end too.



Even though we didn't really work too hard (we barely pedaled at all), it didn't mean we planned to skip our usual post-ride ritual.  Luckily, that little town has one of my favorite things...

A brewery:


And they took good care of us:



Overall, it was an awesome day.  Sure, it may seem lazy to shuttle up a mountain to ride a gravel path downhill for seventeen miles.  I get that.  But...

Who gives a shit.

Ride your bike, look at pretty stuff, drink beer, and have fun. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Creeping Along

After a long (short) week, the little lady and I were looking to have a nice day on the bikes.  We briefly considered DuPont again, but I didn't want to get burned out on one of our favorite places to ride.  We kept trying to come up with something within a three hour driving radius and couldn't figure out anything that we hadn't done before.  Until I had a strange idea...

"Let's go to the Virginia Creeper Trail!" I exclaimed.

Little Miss Sunshine had been there before, but for some reason I never wanted to go.  I figured it would be silly, with it's slow, steady downhill gravel path of boredom (or so I thought.)  We decided to do it anyway, since we're pretty good at having fun no matter what we do.  So, I cut myself off from beer drinking early Friday night so we could head out early Saturday morning.

After a trip from here to Boone, it was back roads across the mountains and through several meth towns in Tennessee to get us into the town of Damascus, VA.  Our first stop was to inquire about a shuttle to the top, because I hear that's the way to do it.

There are tons of these shuttles all around town.  We picked the first one we saw.

A little while later, they started loading up bikes.  One of the guys looked at our bikes and said, "You guys must be pretty serious cyclists."

I guess our bikes were nice compared to what they normally see up there.

After they filled up the trailer, we climbed in the van with a bunch of other folks for the thirty minute ride to the top.  Windy roads nearly made me sick (I'm not used to being a passenger), but before we knew it we were at Whitetop Station.



The view up there was pretty cool, which would be a recurring theme for the day.


The "trail" was wide, but not as wide-open as I thought it would be.  We were ready to roll, and I was ready to have fun. So was the little lady.



And moments later we started flying downhill, much faster than I thought we would.


But we stopped often to take photos and take in the views all around us.


And we also stopped at the little former train stations along the way.


The route was mostly shaded and followed a creek/river for most of the way.  Every once in a while we would stop to check it out.


And I'm glad we did...


There were lots of bridges, which had been rebuilt since their days of carrying trains across.


And we even crossed the Appalachian Trail a couple of times.


No bikes allowed, but every once in a while I would find some singletrack to ride.


But mostly we stopped to look at pretty stuff.



Every so often, the trail would open up to a little town, and there was always a place to buy stuff/use the bathroom/hang out.  It was obvious as we approached one of these establishments.


And we always stopped, because it was the thing to do.


At this point, we weren't even quite halfway.  It didn't matter, because I was having a blast.  My new motto these days is "Ride bikes, look at pretty shit, drink beer, and have fun."  We were well on our way there.  With more to go on our adventure, I eagerly awaited what was up ahead.  Riding downhill through the beautiful Virginia countryside, I was enjoying our day a lot more than I thought I would.

And I was barely pedaling too.  I could get used to this.

More tomorrow...