Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One More

A few days into my “quit shitty job and getaway” adventure, I was pretty damn satisfied.  I rode some fun trails, hung out with friends and family, and reminisced in my hometown.  I wasn’t done though.  Since I brought a bike, I wanted to ride some more. And no trip to Florida would be complete without a trip to one of the first trails I’ve ever ridden…

I got to the trail pretty early, ready to enjoy a leisurely ride.  The last time I was at Santos, I did a 12 hour race on a rigid singlespeed.  That was a different kind of fun I guess.  Anyway, looking forward to not having to push myself for 12 hours I took off…

And immediately experienced some of the most horrific knee pain ever.

Not even in the trail yet and I was hurting.  Instead of canceling my ride to nurse my swollen knee, I opted to play around on the skills course for a bit to see if things would “loosen up.”  It didn’t help one bit, but my stubborn ass decided to ride anyway.  The trail starts out pretty flat so I figured I’d be fine.

The pain was subdued as long as I didn’t stand up to pedal, so the first few miles weren’t so bad. I still stopped a lot just in case.

I couldn’t resist playing around though, even if it did hurt when I stood up.

That was fun, but this one was fun-er…

I somehow made it all the way to the Vortex (as seen in the photo above.)  My knee seemed to be getting worse, but seeing the Florida “mountains” made me forget about it a little.

But I still wanted to crawl in a hole and die.

The Vortex section is tough.  It’s where you find quite a bit of climbing, and with my knee getting much worse I ended up walking a lot.  I sat down for a while, wondering if I would even be able to make it back to the trail head.  I considered asking someone out there for a ride back, but I can't go for that.  Eventually I fought through the pain (making matters worse no doubt) and rolled slowly through the woods to reach my truck.  I sat for a while with my leg elevated and wondered why I had been a complete dumbass.  My knee was the size of a softball at this point and I could barely bend it.


Somehow I managed to pack up my stuff and went on a quest for some liquid “medicine.”  Luckily I only had to travel across the street…

They sell beer, and of course you can drink it right there in the shop. 

I felt better, but my knee hurt (alcohol is rad but not that rad.)  I piled into my truck and drove away, wondering if I would be able to walk the next time I stopped.  I took frequent breaks from driving to stretch my leg, and it helped just a little bit.  Luckily when I stopped in Jacksonville to get beer I had a cart to hold on to.

The mystery injury was a few weeks ago.  I still haz pain.  I’ve been on one road ride since then and it seems to be a little better.  I have a long way to go I guess.  Who knows.  I didn’t do anything to hurt it, but at least the diagnosis isn’t too bad (bursitis.)  I may have a bum knee for a while, but damn if that trip didn’t do me wonders.

I’ve since started a new job (pretty damn awesome), and I have a new outlook on things these days.  This is the first time in a long time that I’ve consistently been in a good mood.

Who gives a shit.

I do, I guess.  For now.

See y’all next week.  I have a four day weekend because natives saved some white people from starving to death many moons ago.  

Don’t eat too much tomorrow, tubby.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Back To My Roots

You’ve heard it before. I took a chance with a career move and it really sucked.  It affected me daily and I was in a dark place mentally.  When I finally got a chance to get out of there, going back to Florida (albeit temporarily) seemed like a logical choice.  Head back to where I grew up so I could clear my head before I took my next step?  It was just enough of a plan.

I camped (and rode) in the swamp, getting into a fun adventure with my pal Mr. Shepherd.  I left that afternoon and drove to a few different places around the state to see some friends.  Spending time with people from various parts of my past was good for me, and I capped off my second day with a drive back to my hometown with another childhood friend enjoying some beer at a local watering hole.

It was a long night but it was good to catch up.  Since he had to go to work the next morning, I got out of his house pretty early.  I decided to ride around town and do a little reminiscing.  The sleepy little city where I spent most of my life has changed quite a bit, but in a lot of ways it was the same.

  In some ways it was like I never left...

One thing I saw made me a little sad that I left.  Just a short walk from my old house, the craft beer trend has finally infiltrated the place where I was born.

I guess I'll be back there really soon.

I drove around for quite a while, but then I heard from my brother.  He works at Gatorland (just across the county line) and invited me to spend some time with him.  I wasn’t about to miss a chance to see him and hang out with some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet.

And as a bonus, he took me on the zip line where I flew through the air over lots of hungry reptiles.

That was a helluva ride.

It was nice to spend a few hours with my brother, but it was time to ht the road.  With no definite plans and no destination in mind, I drove back to my hometown to spend a little alone time on the lake.

When I was a kid, there was a much older and shittier version of this pier in that spot and aside from fishing there, it was a right of passage to jump off of it into the lake on a hot summer day.  This day though, I just sat at the end of it for a long time, thinking about how much fun it was to be a kid in that little town.

And as the sun went down on “my” lake, I thought about what I would do next.

It didn’t matter.  For the first time in a long time, my head was in the right place again.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I’m Still Alive

Much-needed break:  accomplished.  I quit my shitty job and took a vacation back to my home state of Florida to unwind for a bit until I started working somewhere else (more on that another time.) 

It was raining here when I left for the Sunshine State, after some morning rush hour traffic delays in Charlotte it was smooth sailing down to Orlando.

I was just passing through my old stomping grounds though.  No Mickey Mouse, no touristy shit, and no more city.  My first destination was Alafia River State Park, about an hour further down the road.  I hit a little more traffic (and a little more rain), but I was rewarded when I stopped for gas with some natural beauty.

A few minutes later, I was “home” for the night:  a campsite at the State Park.  I setup my tent just before the sun went down, and I figured that the next thing I should do was go looking for alligators.

Apparently gators aren’t allowed to swim there.  Sucks for them.

All alone, I enjoyed the tranquility of being out there.  I drank a few beers and just relaxed.  The next morning I woke up just in time to watch the sun start to come up.

After breakfast and other morning things, my pal Mr. Shepherd rolled into the campground.  He lives just up the road and we decided that an early morning ride would be pretty damn awesome.  It was nice to chase my old pal through the Florida woods again.

And it was definitely nice to be back in the swamp.

You know, with all the critters.

You may have noticed that I brought my big bike, The Executor.  While it could be considered overkill for anything in Florida (I built it to ride in Pisgah), I thought that having a drooper post would make my vacation riding a helluva lot more fun.

It turned out to be a great idea.

Just like a lot of rides with Mr. Shepherd though, this one was not without incident.  At one point when he was up ahead of me I heard a crash.  When I rolled up on him I noticed that his shoe had a slight malfunction.

We still had plenty of riding to do, and luckily we were near the trailhead.  After asking around for a bit a couple of good Samaritans lent us some items to repair his shoes.

Laugh all you want.  That shit worked.

And it allowed us to continue our ride.

Over twenty four hours into my trip and I was having a blast.  I had plenty of alone time to collect my thoughts and contemplate my life and all that, and I got in a good ride with one of my best friends back in my home state.  With no time limit and a loosely formulated plan, I hit the road again in search of my next adventure.

Still in Florida, of course.

And yeah, I’m back to blogging again.  See y’all tomorrow.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fun Friday

We made it.  I am excite.

It’s Fun Friday again, and time for some (slightly) funny stuff.

Really doe, it’s time to have fun.  This weekend will be full of things and stuff, starting with tomorrow.

It’s Halloween, you know.  Get your weird on.

I usually go all out and decorate the house and hand out candy, but this year I’m not.  Since this “holiday” falls on a Saturday I’ll be out on one of the many “themed” rides in our area.  I’m gonna ride my mountain bike on a trail at night for the first time this season.  Groovy.

There’s no time for hanging out all night and partying though.  Sunday morning I have to get up all early (even with an extra hour of sleep due to daylight savings time.)  What’s Sunday, you ask?

The Big Stampede, or as I’ve been calling it the past few years, “The Big Disappointment.”  Even though it’s been nothing short of shitty the last couple of times, I keep going back.  Deals upon deal to be had on used bike stuff is what’s supposed to be happening there, but I usually end up sifting through junk I don’t need  and no one else wants.

So, why am I going this year again?  Well, I’ve been summoned by Little Miss Sunshine to be a worker bee since she’s actually selling things there.  Her arts and crafts will be on display and available for purchase, and I suggest that you check it out.  She makes cool bike art and decorations from recycled bike parts, and she’s pretty damn good at it too.

Check out her website:  The Painted Sprocket

For realz.  Her stuff is rad.  Stop by and say hi (and buy something.)

As for me, it’s time for a break.  Shortly after you read this, I’ll be unemployed for a while.  I’ll start working again soon enough, but in the meantime I need a break.  Monday morning, I’m getting out of here...

and heading back to the swamp.

I’m grabbing a tent, sleeping bag, and my bike and taking off for Florida for a while.  Camping, “mountain” biking, and visiting old friends.  It will be nice to unplug for a while and go on an adventure.  While I’m there, I’ll be looking for the elusive Swamp Cabbage Man, a.k.a. the Skunk Ape or Florida Bigfoot.  Srsly. 

He does exist.

And I won’t for a while.

See y’all when I get back…


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Alone Again

Saturday was a long day and I ended up in bed early.  And since I must be starting to show my age, I woke up early Sunday morning.  I had a few hours to kill thanks to dragging my ass outta bed earlier than normal and I didn’t know what to do.  Even though I was wide awake and excited for another beautiful day, I felt like Charlie Brown on Halloween.

I thought maybe I wanted to do a road ride, but I felt more like doing nothing.  Then I drank some coffee.

Suddenly I remember that I’d rather be on a mountain bike of some sort.  Not wanting to load up my bike and drive to a trail (big deal, I know) I took off out of my house to attempt an urban ride.  Luckily it starts out a little less than urban.

Then it gets moar urban for a bit.

FYI, I nearly busted my ass several times on that.  The coffee hadn’t kicked in yet.  It took a few tries until I could ride it with ease.

After a few local roads here and there, I hit my favorite stretch of nearby gravel road.

It’s really pretty out there too and there wasn’t a bunch of pedestrian traffic.  I knew I made the right decision by not riding my road bike, because gravel pretty much sucks otherwise.  Plus, I can explore.

As I rode along “gravel grinding” I realized that I wasn’t far from the local trail that "magically" appeared in the woods one day, RTS.  I glanced over and got pretty excite.

I hit the trail and it was in pristine shape.  I hadn’t been there in a while for some reason, but I immediately started making plans so I’d ride there more.  I had the place to myself.

What a rad day.  I got back to the house in a reasonable amount of time and got in an awesome ride.  And yes, I’ll say it again...

Fall is my favorite time of year.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Best Time Of Year

Growing up and living most of my adult life in Florida, I never really experienced seasons.  It was either hot all the time, or cool for a day or two in “Winter.”  We had one tree in our yard that would lose it leaves sometime in late November, and when I tried to rake a pile to jump into (like those kids I saw on TV) it was never enough.  I always jumped "in" and landed on the hard, rooty ground.  Fall kinda sucked.  

Living in North Carolina for eight plus years though, I’ve grown to really appreciate the changing of seasons.  And I think Fall is my favorite.  The temps actually cool off quite a bit (and get downright chilly sometimes), the leaves changed color, and I get to put the lawnmower away until next spring.  And as a bonus, backyard fires are actually nice since I’m not sweating to death trying to “enjoy” it.

Friday night fire.  A tradition for us now in the Fall.  A great way to start the weekend.
With such beautiful weather on tap, of course I wanted to be out on my bike somewhere.  I had some things to do early Saturday morning so a trip to the mountains was out.  Instead, I opted to stay local. 

Rocky Branch Park over there across the river in Belmont, NC.  Little Miss Sunshine had never been before, so she was down too. 

Despite not being familiar with the trail, she rode it like a pro. 

We stopped and worked on stuff to help build her confidence too.  She can ride and all that, but I want to make sure she’s comfortable.  I’m pretty sure she is.

Her form is much better than mine too.

It’s been a few months since I’d ridden there and I’d forgotten how much fun that place is.  It has a little something for everyone; no matter your skill level.

The temps were perfect, the trail was in great shape, and the fall color down here in the Piedmont is in full swing.  The only thing that could make it a complete day would be some awesome food and beer.

We had that covered of course.

Hell yeah.  It’s nice to be happy and enjoying life again.

I could get used to this.