Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Finale

The weekend has come and gone, taking the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League season with it.  Kids from all over the state headed down to Brunswick Nature Park in Leland, NC (near Wilmington) to finish off the season strong.  My weekend started with me trying to get out of town on Friday during rush hour (not fun), and making the almost four hour drive to get to my hotel.

When I got in it was late, so I grabbed some food and beverage with little time for anything else.  Tried to go to bed early, but I tossed and turned all night because I was excited about being a part of the league and putting on the last race (I also don't sleep well when I'm traveling.)  Anyway, the next morning I was up early and made the fifteen minute drive over to the park.

They were waiting for us...

I hadn't been down there in almost four years, when Eastwood and I decided to do a six hour race out there.  I knew it was a cool park, and I was happy to be back.  Everyone got right to work and we all pitched in to make sure things got done.  Even though the park has plenty to do, we were only there for one purpose.  Still, that didn't stop me from having thoughts about enjoying what the rest of the park had to offer.

I saw these folks and for a brief second I wanted to join in...

But I did not.  I worked to help get more kids on bikes and to make great race for them.  I also took pictures of other people working...

There is a lot to get done for these races, and luckily for me most of my time can be spent out on the trail.

Coastal NC reminds me a lot of Florida, so I felt right at home.

At one point, I passed by the spot where the kayak people were heading.  I figured I should stop and check it out.

Reminds me of where I started right many moons ago.  I dig it.

We eventually finished setup and it was time to call it a day.  A few of us went out (maybe I'll talk about that another time.)  Once again I tried to get some sleep and failed miserably.  Six o'clock the next morning I was back at it, but this time it was race day.

I am usually really busy while the races are in progress so I take very few photos.  My spot during this one was away from the action so I really didn't get squat.  Go check out the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League Facebook Page and you will find lots though.

I did get to wander around a bit to take a few photos though.  Here's a shot of the team trophies, which were made (out of recycled bike parts) by Little Miss Sunshine:

And I also saw lots of cool DeFeet socks...

Yeah, those are cool and all that, but thanks to my friends out there in the hills (and my kid, Lunchbox for the art), there were lots of new socks made just for our league...

So, race day was crazy.  A huge rainstorm came through during the high school boys race and soaked us all.  It didn't matter, because everyone was having fun (and those trails are actually fine in the rain.)  Once the rain went away and we packed up the course/infield, the awards ceremony began...

And after the awards, the race staff decided to pay a tribute to the founder and League Director, Mike Long...

What an awesome day and a terrific series.  I am so happy that I got a chance to be a part of this.  We all did a great job, but it's really the kids that made the difference.  I can't wait to get back to it next season.  But as this season came to a close, I found myself looking forward not to the drive home, but to what we will do next.

It was a long drive back to Charlotte, but I had plenty of time to think about what we'd accomplished and how we can make it even better next time.  It's really amazing how much work we put in and how rewarding it was.  

I don't even care if I never race again, because this is so much better.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

More Time On The Water

We've had so much rain here lately that I can't stand it.  That really messes with the little bit of time that I have for bike riding, but I guess "we need it."  I just like to be outside and standing out in the rain isn't what I mean.

Luckily, I haz other things to do.  A few weeks ago, the little lady decided to get with the program and buy herself a kayak so she could join me out on the river.  She hadn't been in one in quite a while, so before we left the store we made sure that she would be okay in her new one.

We pretended that the floor was water.

  She didn't drown in the store so we figured that a trip up the river would be fine.  With all the rain we've been getting, the water was higher and moving faster, and it looks not so pretty.

Yes, we paddled up the ol' Poop River.

Yes, the water looked like shit, but it was nice.  Smelled fine, and we mostly had the place to ourselves.  That allowed the little lady some time to explore and get comfortable in her new boat.

She had a blast (and I did too.)  We paddled around for hours, only coming back in because we required a lunch.  And Little Miss Sunshine made a new friend too.  The nice fella that runs the boat ramp found out that she liked wine, and promptly returned with some homemade stuff for her.

Wine in a jar?  Man, I love North Carolina.

It was nice to have company out on the river.  Now that the little lady has her own boat though, I needed to get my ass moving on that trailer.  Remember?  Well, I had some plans and after getting my supplies, I started making my own kayak trailer.

I didn't take any other pictures during the build process.  I got to the end (where I was making sure they fit on there properly) and said, "Oh shit, I need moar photos."

Mostly finished.  I say mostly because I still have to pull it apart and treat/coat the wood parts.  Other than that, it's perfect.  They both fit on their nice, and when strapped down they won't move one little bit.

With this trailer setup, I think we may taking our adventures a little further away from "our" river.  Maybe the Lowcountry?  Florida?  Yeah, those sound like good ideas.

See y'all tomorrow since I might be on a roll with this blogging stuff.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My Own Ride For Others

I had a nice three day weekend.  I did a lot of stuff, but of course it wasn't enough time.  The fact that I had an extra day off wasn't lost on me though.  I know why we "celebrate" Memorial Day.  To me, it's not for cookouts or any of that stuff, but it's okay if that's how you celebrated.  As a veteran, I wanted to do something to honor those that came before but gave much more than I did.  At first I wanted to go the National Cemetery up in Salisbury but that would have required driving.  I wanted to do a bike ride of some sort (and didn't have the legs to go that far and back), so I eventually decided to ride down the the Mecklenburg County Vietnam Memorial.

I took off out of the house a little later than I wanted to, but that's okay because I pretty much had all day if I wanted.  I rolled out of my neighborhood and said a quick hello to some of my friends.

My route into the city is pretty easy, and without even trying I was making good time.  That is, until I got within sight of the tall buildings.  I heard something that sounded like whistling, so I stopped for a minuted and noticed that I had a flat.

No problem.  I looked in my bag and found a brand new tube and some co2.  I changed the tube and when I went to fill it, I realized that I had forgotten to put an inflator in the bag.  Shit.  With almost two miles to my destination and no bike shops open nearby I had to figure out what to do.  I briefly considered calling the little lady for an extraction, but she was on call for work and I didn't want to bother her.

So I did what any former soldier would do...

I hoofed it.

It was hot outside already and my shoes weren't exactly made for walking.  Still, I pushed on, considering that my little bit of suffering was nothing compared to those that I was thinking about on my ride.  Besides, the views were sorta nice.

It didn't take too long (maybe 45 minutes?) and I had made it to my destination.

The monument honors Vietnam Veterans from Mecklenburg County, and it also lists the names of those from here that lost their lives in that conflict (think smaller version of the one in Washington.)  I walked the entire length of the wall, and I read all 105 names on it.  I must be getting soft in my old age, but it brought a tear to my eye.  I was definitely moved.

While I was there, a group of bikers rolled up (motorcycles) and I chatted with them.  One thing I've noticed about bikers is that many of them are veterans, and they do quite a bit to honor those that served.  They told me that they do this every year.  Awesome.

I'd spent quite a bit of time there until I had to get back to reality.  I still had a flat, no air to fill up my tube, and I was far from home.  Again, an extraction was out of the question (because I'm stubborn) so I walked over to the local department store to see if they anything to help me.  On the way, I was mocked by some local wildlife.

I walked inside the cool store and I found a little shitty (but expensive) air pump and bought it (along with a snack and something cold to drink.)  I sat on a bench out front and attempted to fill my tire.

The gauge said it would go up to 120 p.s.i. but I had trouble getting it to 60.  That would have to do.  I hopped on my bike and rode away, trying to keep my 230 pound ass off the seat so I wouldn't get a pinch flat.  So far so good.  Since I was still in the area, I stopped back by the wall one more time...

Then I hopped on the greenway and started to make my way home.

The ride home was nerve wracking.  Every time I would go fast downhill, I imagined my tire giving out and sending me crashing to the pavement.  That didn't stop me from taking a selfie though.

Just before I got home, I made a slight detour to the local VFW and chatted with some fellow veterans.  These guys were from the Vietnam era, so they talked about their experiences and the friends that they lost.  They were very welcoming, even offering me some food and a beer.  I declined since I had to get home to my own beer.

After many more hours on the road than I had planned, I made it home.  I parked my bike, grabbed a beer, and sat on the deck with my buddy Carl.

It wasn't a "happy" Memorial Day but it was a good one.  I think I'll do this every year from now on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It Keeps Getting Better

I skipped yesterday not because of my extended bouts of laziness, but because I was le tired.  I "worked" again all weekend, and this time it involved a road trip.

From the photo above, it's probably pretty obvious that I'm not talking about working at my real job.  Yes folks, I worked another race for the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League.  This race was held in Mayodan, NC and to be honest, I had no idea where that was (even after looking on a map.)  I figured that a trail in a park in the middle of nowhere would not be much fun, but my attitude change when I rolled up to Farris Memorial Park.

The town of Mayodan really pulled out all the stops and welcomed our league with open arms.  There were signs/bike decorations all over town, and I have to say that I've never felt more welcome at any race...ever.  And the park I thought would be full of nothing was full of decorations too.

I was amazed at this place.  For such a small town, this park had it all.  Standard ball sports stuff, a gold driving range, mountain bike trails (of course), paddle boats, fishing, and even a mini golf course.

The league staff gathered around and broke off to start setting up.  The infield of the course was amazing, looking so pro that I almost forgot that this was for high school and middle school students.

And the trails.  Wow.  I had low expectations, but I was blown away.  The trails are machine built (which means fast and flowy), but they made use of the terrain and included lots of features.  I mean, there were tons of rock gardens.  It was awesome.

I rode the course several times, since we had to set it up for the racers.  It was hard work but I had a blast.

It was super hot outside and we worked hard, but the course was ready to go for the next day.  I chilled out at the park well into the night, playing guitar and enjoying the atmosphere.  It was late and I was tired, so I headed back to my hotel just as the storms were rolling in.

The next morning I was up at 6:00 a.m.  I hit the road a short while later, and the skies looked less than ideal for a kids mountain bike race.

The rain mostly held off though, wetting the course just a bit.  At least the weather was cooler though.  Anyway, after checking the course again and getting everyone ready to go, the first wave of racers lined up to start their race.

I've seen it before at our other races, but I'm still pretty moved by it.

It was an amazing weekend.  The kids had a good time, and I'm pretty sure every single one of them loved the course (I asked as many as I could.)  The Mayor of Mayodan and other important town-folk were there too, and they seemed just as excited as we were.  We're doing a great thing here for these middle and high school athletes, and even though it wore me out I was feeling really happy.

I'm "retired" now from racing, but that doesn't matter.  This feeling is better than anything I had when I did this stuff just for myself.

Funny how that works.

Special thanks to the town of Mayodan and Rockingham County for making us feel welcome and working with us to make this a successful event.

I can't wait for the next race in less than two weeks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Too Busy For Bikes

My weekend was shit.  I had some (loosely made) plans that I figured I'd have to change.  Being on call for work is not conducive to making any kind of set in stone ride plans or for doing any other kind of activities that require advance notice.

Still, I complicated things by purchasing an adult puzzle.



Since I'm a kayaker now, I've been spending a fair amount of time getting my shit together so I can fully enjoy being on the water.  In addition to that, the little lady will be getting a kayak soon too.  Since my boat is so big I can't carry another one on top of my gas guzzling SUV.  To make things easier I bought a little utility trailer Friday afternoon that I can modify to carry multiple boats.  The only problem was (in addition to having to customize it later) was the fact that it came in those two little boxes pictured above.

I had to put the damn thing together and decipher some pretty bad Chinese-English translations.  To fit everything in those smallish boxes, there were a lot of parts...

This was just part of one box.

Friday evening I laid out all the parts from both boxes (not all were pictured above), grabbed a frosty beverage, and got to work.  With the fear of getting the call to go to work, I hurried along.  You Tube videos I looked up said that it would take about six hours to assemble completely.

I did it in three.


Two hours in, the little lady came home from work.  We took a dinner break, I sent her off to bed, and went back out to the shop to continue.  One hour later (and one more beer) I was finished with the main part of it.  It was close to midnight, so my plan was to save the lights/wiring for Saturday.  I went upstairs, took a shower, and by about 1:00 a.m. I was out.

I tried to sleep in.  That didn't happen.  Early in the morning my work phone went off while I was still in bed.  I got up, let the dogs out, fed them, then hopped on the computer.  What should have been a simple issue with one of our customers turned into over nine hours of work.  I was on the phone/computer with people all day, and by the time I finished (and resolved the issue) it was too late to work on my trailer lights.  I went out to grab us some dinner, we ate, then I was in bed sorta early.

No bikes, no beers, no trailer work.  I was pissed but hey, it pays the bills.

Sunday was a new day.  I ran out to the garage and started running the wires on the trailer to see if I would need any additional parts/connectors.  Once I determined what I would need, I took off to buy a few items and get some lunch.  While I was on my way back home, the same customer from the day before called again.


Luckily it was a very small issue, and I was able to help get them working in about five minutes (over the phone.)  Back to the house, I ran the rest of the wires for the trailer lights and tested them.

I had a working trailer!

It's 4 feet by 8 feet with 12" wheels.  It will work great for my kayaks once I put a floor on it and build a rack.  That part is easy.  If I hadn't been on call for work, I probably would've had that part done too.  For now though, I'm happy to have a little utility trailer for my kayaks, or anything else that may require a trailer.

No step here.  Beer here okay tho.

This little trailer was cheap, but it will do the job.  I saved a shitload of money by building it myself but that wasn't the best part.  I really enjoying doing things myself, so spending what amounted to an entire weekend doing this was pretty rewarding.

No bikes for me though.  I'll have to make up for lost time really soon though.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fun Friday

It's Friday.  You know why I'm here...

Done with the pooping yet?  No?  Okay.  Mebbe you need medical halp...

Just like every Friday, I'm taking the easy way out.  Well, not as easy as the days I skip out on here all together.  Whatever.  I'm trying to make some weekend plans, but I'm on call for work.  I don't need to go anywhere for it, but I do need to stay close by a phone and be able to get to a computer soon after.  That sorta kills any plans I can make.

Who gives a shit.

I'll ride my bike (probably) and do some things around the house (also probably involving bikes.)  Will I haz good stories next week?  I dunno.

That's why I like to provide the funny.

See y'all next week.