Monday, March 31, 2014

Just Hanging Around

Sorry.  I guess I still had some vacation photos left.  Anyway, the weekend was pretty uneventful for the most part.  I was on call for work, so I couldn't go too far.  Saturday, was shitty and full of rain, so I drove around town  shopping for camping supplies (more on that maybe next week.)  After that, it was off to The Cycle Path to hang out.

Yup, I hung out in a bike shop all day.

I didn't really feel like being out in the rain on my bike, so I didn't.  Besides, after all the traveling I've done lately it was nice to take a break.  At least I was around bikes yesterday.

Race number two of the  2014 Charlotte Youth Cycling League was held at Fisher Farm.  I was there to help, which to me is a lot better than riding sometimes.  Since the trails were still wet from rain the day before, the course was setup in the field, cyclocross style.

The kids didn't seem to mind, and other than the strong winds kicking like Bruce Lee, they were having a good time.  Watching those kids give it all they had and still having fun really makes me think about how I can do the same.

You can work hard on the bike and still have a smile on your face when it's all over.  I guess I still have a lot to learn.

Helping out at the kid's race was definitely the most fun I had over the weekend. Sure, I can't wait to get back on the trail (and even up in the hills), but sometimes it's better to give back.

It's not always about me.  Don't worry though, tomorrow will be.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fun Friday

I’m not going on vacation again this weekend.  In fact, I’m probably not going anywhere far away.  I’ll stay local, maybe ride my bike, and drink some beer.  If you’re headed out somewhere this weekend, make sure you take care to pack everything carefully.

I have things I can talk about today, but since I’ve started this whole “Fun Friday” thing I’m kinda enjoying taking the easy way out.

That doesn’t mean that you should though.

Yeah, Fun Friday is a time for you to just look at some of the funny shit that’s been dug up on The Internets.

And don’t worry too much about all the problems out there in the world.  Just ride your bike (or whatever else you do), drink some beverages, and be awesome to each other.

And make sure you try to forget about that whole nine to five thing you got going on.

I’ll come back next week and make up some shit to talk about.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Rest Was Relaxing

I’m not really good at taking it easy, but relatively speaking the last bit of our vacation was kinda uneventful.  Well, as far as bike riding goes.  After riding Santos, we took a trip down a little further south just to see how much things have changed.  On the way, I had to make a pit stop at a local western store.

The d├ęcor was um, nice, and I felt like I should apologize for being backed up for two days and using their facilities to take care of that.  Instead of making a big stink about it (ha), I bought a new cowboy hat from them and called things even.

I know, no one wants to hear stuff like that (well, most of you don’t.)  See that little part up there  on the header that says “nonsensical crap?”  You were warned.

Anyway, we kept going down the road towards Orlando, and we even drove through my home town.  I didn’t tell anyone we were in town since we were just driving through and because I didn’t want to stay very long.  After a quick trip we got the hell outta town and headed back up to NE Florida.  I still miss a lot of things about the Sunshine State, but my home town isn’t one of them. 

Anyway, the next day we went to stare at one of Little Miss Sunshine’s favorite things, a lighthouse.

I like them too since they are full of history, but since we couldn’t climb up the Amelia Island Lighthouse we decided to go for another bike ride.  This time it was casual, and like the rest of the tourists there we just rode around the island.

And of course we stopped for beer.

And the little lady molested a pelican statue for some reason.

After some good seafood we headed back up the coast to see what else we could get into.  We left Florida, and spent the night in Georgia.  We still got to play with alligators even though we left a state that has more than one million of them.

And just to bore you to death, we stopped in South Carolina to see a few more lighthouses.

More beer, more seafood, and a long drive back to Charlotte left me worn out.  We had some good bike riding adventures, some great food, and even relaxed a little.  At least I scored a good amount of Florida beer before we left town.

I can’t believe people actually feel more relaxed when they go on a trip.  Maybe I need another vacation or something.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Round Two

While the original intent for our trip to Florida was to go stay on an island, we didn't really plan to hang out on the beach like most people do. We brought bikes of course, and they wouldn't just be for traipsing around little beach towns.

We wanted to ride trails, so we took off early Friday morning to Ocala to ride Santos.

I know, I was just there a month ago. Little Miss Sunshine has never been there though, and being the nice guy I am I decided to show her around.  She had fun right from the start.

And she was even kind enough to take photos of me “shredding the gnar.”

Sure, it's pretty flat down there (aside from a few rocks and the dug out pit in the Vortex area), but there have been some big improvements since I moved away from the Sunshine State.  Ray Petro (of Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park fame) relocated to the area, and he's been busy building all kinds of fun stuff.

Little Miss Sunshine wasn’t sure at first, but then she went for it.

She only panicked on the easier stuff for some reason.

After all that fun stuff in the Vortex, she found a trail just her size.

And I found a trail called “Dr Ruth” that I thought might be down for something inappropriate.

I’m sure she would not approve. 

Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better, we got back to the parking lot and strolled across the street to a local bike shop.  They had post ride refreshments aplenty.

And I found something really good.

And so did the little lady.

It’s been a while since I moved away from there, but it was as fun as I remembered.  We had a good time “mountain” biking down there for sure.  Two days into our adventure and we weren’t slowing down.  Not even a little bit.  It sure as hell wasn’t the standard vacation to Florida that most folks take.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll recap the rest of the trip tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Back In The Groove

I know, I said I’d be here yesterday. It wasn’t for lack of trying though. I was too damn tired. I got in late Sunday night, and after driving all over the place the last few days I needed a day to recover. Besides, y’all were probably busy reading all about that bike race that happened while I was gone.

I heard it was fun, but I had some fun of my own.

The little lady and I hit the road early Thursday morning, with our destination being Amelia Island in the northeast corner of Florida. We got down there pretty quick, stopping only for a quick break.

Little Miss Sunshine wanted to play.

They’re not all cute and cuddly like that photo seems to make you think.

Anyway, we got to the island, and drove around for a bit. Growing up in Florida (and close to the beach), I found that place really touristy. We both decided that staying there would probably be pretty boring so we took a leisurely drive down the coast to Jacksonville Beach. With plenty of daylight left, we decided that a ride was in order at nearby Hanna Park.

I was just there a few months ago, but this was Little Miss Sunshine’s first ride there. She loved it.

And while we were there we made sure to pay our respects to the trail that was built by our local club member/youth cycling race promoter Mike Long.

Then we went to the beach. Not like other folks do though.

We rode there and just looked at it.

A long day of driving and riding bikes didn’t seem to wear us out, so after finding a place to stay for the night we rode down to Jacksonville Beach to grab some food and beer.

We crammed a lot of shit into one day, but that would only be the beginning. We called it a night and got ready for another adventure the next day.

Of course we were going to ride our bikes again.

And of course I’ll get into it tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It Wasn’t A Wash

Well, sorta

The debut race of the 2014 Charlotte Youth Cycling League wasn’t held under the best conditions, but I’d still say it was pretty good. After riding in warm, sunny Georgia (it was warm and sunny here too) on Saturday, Lunchbox and I woke up to chilly air and what looked like rain on the way. Since we volunteered to assist with the race (I’m loyal, remember) we made sure we were there.

Just as the races kicked off, the rain started moving in.

The trails were good for quite a while though, since the tree cover prevented most of the
rain from hitting it. With plenty of volunteers to ride on the course with the kids, Lunchbox
and I stayed and helped with the food, provided by my local shop The Cycle Path.

Photo credit: Mike Long

Besides, good people like Good Guy Greg were more than willing to get dirty to help the little ones.

Photo cred: Mike Long

The rain (and cold) picked up when the older kids were about to go off, but there toughed it out and went out there. When it was over we all tore down in a hurry so we could get out of the cold.

Even though we had some bad weather, it was still a pretty good race. These kids are way tougher than we are, and getting a chance to race in a series all their won is just what they need. Those little boys and girls are the future, since none of us are getting any younger. I’m happy that I had a chance to help out and I can’t wait for the next one.

And by the way, this is it for me this week. Me and the little lady are heading out of town for the next few days for a little R&R, so this Internet Blog thingy will have to take a backseat. I know, there’s some big event this weekend that I’ll miss while I’m gone. I’m sure Dicky will be happy to tell you all about it though.

I’ll be back here Monday, hopefully with some stories to tell. We’re bringing our bikes on the trip, so most likely they’ll be good stories. Plus, I may even share some news about a new supporter that I’ve somehow acquired.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The “Other” Bike Show

For the third year in a row, I headed down to Conyers, GA for the Southeast Bike Expo. After checking in, I headed over to the Niner tent.

I announced my arrival, and got this response:

“I didn't think you'd come down here with that handmade show going on back in Charlotte”, said Niner Mike.

“What can I say, I'm loyal” I replied.

When the date was announced for this, I said I'd be there. After the handmade show decided on their dates I stuck to it (and eventually figured out how to cram in both on the same weekend.) This kind of event is more my speed anyway: socializing, riding, and sharing beverages with industry insiders. Since I got there right when they opened on Saturday, I decided to go for a walk around to check things out. When I heard a few people asking questions about the new ROS9, I asked Mike if he had any for people to ride.

“Nope. Do you have yours here?”

I did, and he asked if I would leave it there so he at least had something to show to the general public.

See, I give back sometimes too.

So I took off, wandering around to see what's new. I ended up talking to old friends, and even made a few new ones. The next stop was to introduce myself to the DeFeet rep.

We chatted for a bit about the latest products, and after a little bit I went back to wandering around. That's when I ran into Bruce from ProGold.

Then I hung out with the Industry Nine crew and chatted about all things Pisgah (and of course their wheel goodies.)

I spent more time talking to people this year than I did taking photos, and while the conversations were interesting, I'll keep them private for now so no one gets butt hurt.

Anyway, knowing I had to get back to Charlotte that evening, I decided that I should go for a ride. Not really needing a new bike (or not even being remotely interesting in trying one), I grabbed The Executor from the Niner Tent and took off on the trail. Riding on the course that was the site of the 1996 Olympic mountain bike race is always fun, and being on a familiar bike made it even more fun.

The most fun I had was in the very beginning, when there was a small crowd on the trail.

There was a couple (husband/wife), testing out the latest in fatbike technology that took off right before me. On the climb up, I managed to pass the dude and we exchanged pleasantries. His better half was up ahead, and she made a u-turn to go back to check on him. She said, “This is a fun bike!” and asked him how his was.

“This sucks.”

He was having a hard time, and she was schooling him on the climbs. I had a good laugh for a little bit and slowly pulled away. After that it was wide open.

It was awesome, made more awesome by the fact that I brought along some refreshments.

The rocky section was fun, but the fast(and dry unlike last year) singletrack was even moar fun.

Riding alone even gave me a chance to stop and check out the scenery.

It was an awesome day. The weather was beautiful and warm, the beer was cold, and the riding was quite awesome. I was worth the drive, and I'm glad I went. I said my goodbyes at the SE Bike Expo and hit the road. I had to mosey up the road to get to a Saint Patrick's party with some real Irish folks back here in town. I know St. Patty's Day was yesterday (and I'm not Irish either), but getting a chance to hang out with Irish Luke before he moves out to Seattle was something I didn't want to miss.

Besides, because of his new shirt I was Irish that day anyway.