Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Headed out to Montgomery Bell this morning. Arrived at the trailhead at 10:15, got the bike ready and met up with Brian (who took the shot of me). We poked around the Red and Blue and White loops for a couple hours. I've only been on the MTB three times since October 1st and it's pretty obvious to me when I ride.
The cross bike and the mountain bike have such distinctly different feels that it's tough to go back and forth. As much as I love the mountain bike, I'll probably do well to stay away from it and really focus on riding the cross bike through the rest of the month.

Got an email making a SouthernX entry available to me a few minutes ago. I would basically be trading my last weekend of cross racing in Chattanooga for one long day (50 mile cross race!) of riding. Having a hard time deciding... Any input would be appreciated.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Two posts in the same day. Not a record, unfortunately.

USA Cycling approved my upgrade request. I wasn't planning to apply until after this weekend, but I qualified and even though I'm fatter than ever, I'm going CX3 this weekend. I get to sleep a little later and race back-to-back so I think it'll be good to go ahead and commit to CX3 for the second half of the season.



Easy ride today. Drove (I'm just being honest) to the Shelby Bottoms trailhead. It's a 50 minute ride to Shelby Park with numerous hills and after my lapse over the holidays I'm in a position where I have to train smart, not just hard, hence the drive to the greenway. I needed an easy, 2 hour, high RPM ride and the greenway is about the only place I can ride for that long without getting the heartrate up as the singlespeed forces harder effort on any sustained or steep climbs...

so anyway, I drove to the trailhead then rode to the dam and back. 1:50, really beautiful day, lots of people out there, especially at the ends. In the middle, between 2 Rivers Park and Lebanon Pike I hardly saw a soul. Forgot the camera today, I would have liked to pass along photos of the Stones River section.

Tomorrow I hope to get out on the Mountain Bike. I was able to warranty some of the innards and I think it's going to ride like silk. I'll try to remember the camera, since even I prefer to look at my posts with pictures.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Last night a big storm front came through Nashville. We'd had the windows open, it was near 70 degrees outside and the storm came pretty much out of nowhere while the family was watching The Visitor (great movie, Richard Jenkins is absolutely perfect). Woke this morning to cool temperatures but crystal clear skies. When it's this sunny in Nashville, you've pretty much got to take advantage of it.

I gave myself a two hour limit and headed straight for Downtown. About 50 minutes into the ride I found myself just entering the Shelby Bottoms Greenway. I took the first side trail I saw (first picture), rode back and forth on it a few times then stopped to eat some food and enjoy the view (second picture). Hopped back on the bike and pushed it home. I live at river level, downstream from Shelby Park, but it still always seems like I'm climbing back to the house.

Five days until the start of the second half of my Cyclocross Season. Two races a day, Two days a weekend for three weeks. I think I put on about 5 lbs over the last 4 days, but I still feel pretty fit. It'll be essential for me to rest late in the week.

Friday, December 26, 2008


I'll try keep it short. Long ride today. Through Sylvan Park, down Music Row, down Demonbreun, across the Pedestrian Bridge, over to Shelby Park and to the end of the Greenway (or at least to Lebanon Pike). Met a cool guy, called himself Big Red, riding a fixie with a tall gear. We rode 4 or 5 miles together. Super cool guy. Wish I would have snapped his picture. Right brake lever came loose before I turned around. Stopped on the Bridge and took these pictures. Weather was beautiful. Hit the Charlotte Park backroads just as it was getting too dark to ride without a tail light. 3 hours exactly. Just about as close to a perfect ride as I can remember. I love to ride.

Realized my suspension fork on the mountain bike is blown (one more reason to ride the cross bike), need to take it into the shop so I can ride it later this week when it dries out. Since I've got to get up there anyway and since my mother and wife sleep late, tomorrow I'm getting up early to make the 8am group ride from Bikers Choice. I'll be riding the geared beater bike (only one with gears) so I'm sure I'll get a bunch of sideways glances from the roadies. Won't be the first time...

I'm working on taking better and more relevant pictures. I'll try to snap some off during the ride... bet that'll go over nicely! Saw a bunch of strange and overweight people out riding bikes today, maybe there IS hope!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Rain. Lots of it. Borderline Hurricane Conditions. Why am I on my bike, 10 miles from home, halfway out on a 1:40 loop in a torrential downpour? What kind of obsession has driven me to this? It's Christmas Eve Day, aren't there cookies to be eaten, vodka cranberries to be drunk? Yesterday these were all things I was thinking as I rode through moving water for an hour and forty minutes. I left the house and it was raining a little. The further I went, the harder it rained until at one point I stopped to find out if I was creating the blowing rain by moving or if the rain was blowing of it's own volition.

At least I got a chance to take the geared commuter/future xtracycle for a ride. It's a litte un-inspiring, but the longer I rode it the more I liked it. I think it'll feel great as a long bike/cargo bike. When I got home it seemed like I'd jumped in a pool, completely soaked, all the way through. In hindsight, it's actually probably for the best that I took out a bike that doesn't matter too much.

In a side note, I mentioned my new rack earlier, figured I'd show proof. Here's my rack, cost me about $225 with parts left over. I've got two gutter towers that hopefully I can install on the Stringdusters Tour Trailer sometime next year (when we get a new trailer) and an extra steelhead for the xtracycle so I can do this or even better I can do this.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Old School

Two and a half years ago I dropped into Balanced Rock Bikes in Monument, CO to see an old friend. Tim Watkins was one of two people who shaped my love of cycling as a young'un, and I didn't realize it but that day he was about to reconnect me with my former passion. Let me go back a little further. Growing up, I was always on bike. Everyday. In Middle and High School I commuted 15 miles every morning, rode the trails every afternoon and spent all my after dark hours in my shop (my father was kind enough to let me take over half the garage.) Encouraged to race by my other cycling mentor, Tom Allen, I started racing when I was 14 and raced straight through my Junior Year of High School. Tim saw potential and when Cannondale started their Team Headshok in 1996, he did what he could to pull some strings and get me a bike (I was too young to get on the team.) I raced through the summer of my junior year, suffering as pack fodder in the Junior Expert Category.

That fall semester I graduate High School early, discovered beer and grass and put cycling on the backburner. I headed to college in Durango and was promptly kicked out (no grass in the dorms.) This turn of events sent me into a tailspin, forcing the sale of my truck. I started commuting by bike to my 6am job as a busser at a breakfast joint. I also started training again and the summer of 2000 was spent chasing the Mountain States Cup in the Senior Sport Category. I won several races and the series that year and made plans to upgrade, racing the Fall Classic, Road Apple Rally in Farmington. It was at this race, on the smooth rollers of the 25+ mile course that I saw my first 29er in action. Intrigued, I followed this racer for miles, barely able to keep up as he flowed through the course.

That fall, however, I made another discovery. Music. I started playing in a band and stopped riding my bike, getting back into, then back out of serious riding on and off for the next 4 years before moving to Nashville. In Nashville I dabbled in riding, but it took the interference of Tim to re-inspire my dormant love of riding fast. That day two and a half years ago, I saw Tim's Custom Rabbit Ti 29er SS in his shop. He must have seem the look in my eye. He insisted I take it for a couple of days, ride it wherever and return it before I left town. This was the turning point.

My father lives within 1000 paved feet of the trail network I learned to ride in. I headed straight for these trails and was shocked by how natural it felt to ride them, with only one gear and big wheels. The bike was perfect. It seemed to exaggerate and enhance all of the best parts of riding. With no gears to select, I was free to connect more completely with the experience of riding. The bike was silent, I was seeing more wildlife than I remembered. Tom had always trained me to focus on flow and momentum, two things that are second nature to SS 29er riders. It was like I was a kid again, 12 years old, discovering mountain biking for the first time. Everything changed.

It would be two years before I would finally be able to afford my own SS 29er. This last 6 months of riding has been some of the most rewarding of my life. I now have two single speed bikes and don't anticipate ever riding anything but SS's (except maybe a geared Big Dummy). Saturday night, after a great day skiing, we dropped into Balanced Rock right before closing to drop off our rental gear. Tim was slammed with renters, but he still took time to talk us up, find out how the day was and insist that if I had time, I take the Rabbit for a ride. We pulled the pedals, moved the seat and brake levers, threw it in the car and yesterday after church with my dad, I went out for a cold, epic ride on those same trails. It was perfect.

Rabbit stopped making bikes a few years ago, but this is still the best bike I've ever had the pleasure of riding. The dual top-tube/seatstay design is as functional as it is elegant. I took some pictures of it leaned against my other "borrowed" rig for the week, a Blue Toyota Matrix.

Monday, December 15, 2008


In Colorado this week. Couldn't be more that 3 degrees here. I've got my riding gear, a good friend (Tim Watkins) owns a bike shop in town (Balanced Rock Bikes) and also owns a Rabbit Ti Single Speed he loans freely, but I just don't know if getting out and trying to ride an expensive loaner SS in the snow at 7am is really the best idea. Instead, I think I'll probably do the gym thing, swim, yoga, treadmill... you know, stay warm.

Saturday my father and I plan to go up to Loveland Ski Area and re-live our past. He and I used to scoot up to Loveland twice a month when I was a kid. I've even brought the ski boots (instead of the typical snowboard boots) so the re-creation will be complete. Sunday it should be a little warmer, and I'll have the middle part of the day free. Tim and I are planning a ride, not sure if we'll be on road or on trail or a combination... I'll probably be riding geared (ughhh...) but at least I'll be turning the cranks.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Beautiful ride today. Left the house at 1:30, headed straight to Percy Warner. Legs were stiff when I started, like usual. At one point I came across a flock of wild turkeys, spread across the entire road. In hindsight I wish I would have taken a photo. They were huge! Legs loosened up, felt great. Percy Warner gains enough elevation to be above the city and today I was in the clouds, riding through the fog. Naked trees, leaves on the road and fog. Wet, gray, cool. Perfect. Finished up coming back via the greenway.

I love bikes. What a brilliant invention.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Night Ride. 45 degrees. Almost warm, really. 2 laps, light died on 2nd lap. Lucky Modesto loaned me a handlebar light. Mountain Bikes are fun. I'd almost forgotten with all this cross bike nonsense.

Installed Yakima Rack on car. 10 years I've wanted a Yakima, now I've got it. 3 Locking Steelheads. Fairing. 1 Wheel Mount. All used, scrounged up and improvised. Still have a set of 4 guttermount feet left over. Hoping to install the extra bike mount on my as-of-yet-unpurchased Xtracycle so I can ride to the trailhead and the grocery and just about everywhere else.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I've been sitting for days. 6-8 hours a day in the van, 6-8 hours of sleep and 6-8 hours playing music a day will pretty much turn you into a sloth. I haven't stepped on the scale yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if I put on 2 or 3 lbs. I fell pretty terrible. This will all change tomorrow. Tomorrow, as well as cleaning the house I'll do some yoga and the weekly night ride at Lock 4. Last time I was out there I got a killer workout, hopefully by the time I get back in the van I'll be on track. Monday-Thursday I'll be on the bike, but Friday the band goes out to play a couple shows, Sunday I fly to CO and it's hard to know how much saddle time I'll be getting. Probably next to none.

Once I get back I'll have a couple weeks to get back in shape before the January cross season. I'll get my new wheels laced up, drop a couple lbs. and try to kick some ass. If the last four days are any indication, I'll be putting on lbs. but time will tell.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Cyclocross is fun. Bikes are fun. Single Speeds are fun. So it follows that Single Speed Cyclocross Bikes would be exceptionally fun. Like, really, really, really fun. And they are. I didn't really realize until today. I've been riding my Singlecross for awhile now, it'll be a month on Friday, and I've been enjoying it. But today, something clicked. I realized that this one bike, ONE BIKE, with one speed was pretty much capable of riding anything. With the exception of really rocky or technical singletrack this style of bike can ride fast, in nearly any condition, and require minimal maintenance. Everyone should get one and go.

Furthermore, if you haven't given it a real shot, Cyclocross deserves a chance. Not just one race on a mountain bike. That doesn't really count. I mean full on, Cross bike, minimum of three races, at least one in mud and rain. That's all it takes, I think, to make a full convert out of any serious mountain or road biker. Short races, constant action, multiple laps, multiple races, and convenient locations make cross perfect for racing and spectating. Combine that with the option of doing multiple races and racing against diverse groups of people, you pretty much can't beat it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

State (Episode 2)

Under a gray sky and a steady but light rain yesterday in Louisville, KY, I became the Kentucky State Champion in the CX4 Category. Well, that's not exactly true. I'm from TN, not KY, so I'm technically not the State Champion, but I did win, my second win in as many weeks.

It rained steadily the entire trip up there and through most of warm-up, turning the excellent (and relatively flat) course into a very slippery proposition. Much of the course had been used before and had a single track style track down the middle, but with the moisture, it was like riding on grease. Line choice was essential and lots of people were taking spills, including myself.

33 individuals in my category, started 1 minute behind the masters, which was about 30 people. I started at the back, but by the end of the opening stretch I'd worked up to the top 5 group. Through the first few corners I got into second and just followed the leader, Nathan, as he wove through the Masters. We immediately started putting Masters riders between us and the chasers, losing them almost immediately. I followed through the first lap, making a move in the sand pits (there were three fantastic sand sections that gave everybody a bunch of trouble). Nathan ran into someone in the first, then got stuck behind someone else in the second. I stood up on the pedals to try and get a gap and was able to get a few seconds.

For the next lap I stayed about 3-4 seconds ahead, picking off Masters and lapped riders and trying to stay smooth, conserve energy and stay up. Coming into the finish line on lap three, Nathan made a sudden surge toward the line, I thought he was attacking me and unfortunately, I wasn't able to respond, but as soon as we hit the line he sat up. He'd thought that the race was over, but the lap cards clearly said 2 laps to go. Needless to say, I caught him and attacked hard. Very hard. I pretty much tried to get as far away as I could while he recovered, and continued to put time on him through the final two laps. I'd occasionally find myself in a section he could see me, and every time I thought he might be watching I'd stand up and try to look as strong as possible.

By the end I'd passed a bunch of Masters riders and had a 15-20 second lead. The race was one of my best and my first in genuine Cross conditions: mud, rain, cold, etc... It was the perfect course for a single speed, especially with the mud and sand. I've qualified to upgrade to CX3 but I know I'll get hammered if I upgrade. Will probably enter another CX4 race or two, but I think if I get top 2 again I'll have to do it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


View Larger Map

Thursday, as I was standing on the Tennis Court at Charlotte Park, watching my niece ride in happy little circles, with the warm November Sun beating down on my shirtless back (it was that warm) I was struck by a moment of inspiration. From the Tennis Courts I could see most of the park and was struck by the amount of natural terrain suited to cyclocross. It was in that moment that I decided I would map a course and find a way to host a race next fall in Charlotte Park. So I've posted the map and I'll be out there, at least once a week, riding and tweaking my course. I've also set in motion a plan to host a weekend of cross racing in my neighborhood, my own little local economic stimulus package.

I've also started a group on called Nashville Cross. I hope anyone who's on there will sign up (and if you're not on there, check it out). I'm also considering launching a website for Nashville Cyclocross, the goal being to create one place that any and all Nashville Cross racers can go for info and to develop a mailing list to help promote next years races. There are at least two other individuals that have expressed interest in hosting races in the greater Nashville area. I'm feeling a series coming on. If you've got any interest in getting involved, let me know.

The season is over for many people, but for me it's only about half over, maybe less depending on my motivation in January. I had planned on going to Conyers, GA for a race tomorrow but I've changed plans and will be headed to Louisville to race on the "Greens". It's closer, probably a better course, but I'll only get to race one race, CX4, instead of the two races I would have entered down in GA.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Yesterday my niece Cora and I got away from all the Thanksgiving craziness and went over to the local park to ride bikes. Cora just got her training wheels off last week and yesterday was the first day she rode by herself! I only had to hold on to her seat for the first 5 minutes and she was off. A complete natural. Later in the evening when she was riding around the driveway, she told her mother that riding bikes was "the best sport." She didn't elaborate but I'd say that's a damn good start. Pretty soon we'll have to get her a lighter bike with gears and soon after that a mountain bike. We may have the 2020 Cyclocross World Champion on our hands!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This is my beater. Last night I put some 1.5 in slicks on it and took if for a brief ride around the block. Something is seriously wrong, it shakes like an old Nova. Look, and tug and pull and push and bounce and can't figure it out. Then I touch a spoke and realize that I can hand tighten 4 out of 5 nipples... guess the shop forgot to tension these fellers, that or the builder forgot spoke prep. Either way these babies are headed back to the shop for some serious work.

Skipping the workout today due to time constraints. It's probably ok, yesterday I did a yoga and run session with the wife then did an hour thirty five of hill intervals through Percy Warner. Feeling a little beat up so it's a day off! Down to about 190lbs. The day before Thanksgiving is not the best day to not exercise but I'll try to make up for it tomorrow.

by the way, as a post script, this bike is pretty ugly, I think. At least is mostly color coordinated, I need to get a shot with the damn skinny's on it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


After Saturdays race, I've cracked the top 20 in CX4, up to 19th place from 33rd. I'm up to 11th in Single Speed, up from 16th. There's a bunch of races left, I'll probably make less than half, so I'm aiming for top 8 in Single Speed and top 10 in CX4. Also just one top 2 finish or two completed CX4 races away from an upgrade. Then I'll have to decide if I want to go ahead and race CX3 this year or if I want to sandbag and try to move up in the CX4 standings...

Headed out for a ride around Percy Warner. The loop from my house out to PW around and back takes about 1:45 and it's quickly become one of the best rides I've found. With the exception of some traffic on Brook Hollow, it's really mellow, but extremely challenging. Blue Sky, Sunshine, and Bikes.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Finally. Got the W. I was starting to think that I might go all season without tasting the top of the podium, but now I worry no more. Saturday, Fayetteville, the Freak set up a great course (great because it didn't play to my weaknesses much) and was kind enough to schedule the SS and CX4 races back to back, leaving me just enough time to drive straight to Louisville for my gig. I was thinking Friday night that I might have overdone it a little bit with the heavy Tuesday night ride and the hard hill interval session on Wednesday, but that was not the case.

SS race was 5 guys. SS is a cool category because it's like the open class. The only thing we all have in common is one gear, otherwise, the guys you race against could be first timers or Masters Champions. At the start, I was immediately hanging on as Tanner and the guy that would ultimately win started pulling right away. It was a long race, 45 minutes (we ended up racing for over 50) so I was content to let them duke it out, hoping that one of them would break and I'd be able to pull that one back. After a lap and a half Tanner got dropped and Nate told me I was pulling him back so I put the head down and turned on the gas for a lap and a half or so until I realized that Tanner had recovered a little bit and was pulling away. With 4th place about 3 minutes back (couldn't even see him), 2nd riding away, and the CX4 race yet to come I set a strong pace in case the leaders had a mechanical, but basically resigned myself to 3rd. 7 laps and we were done, 3rd of 5.

Ten minutes after the finish of the SS race, the CX4's lined up. I'd vowed to not race off the front and blow up like I have been doing every race, so I sat in, about 5th position heading up and around the stadium. The downhill was tough for me as it was just a little faster than I could pedal, so I just sat in, biding my time. Nate was out front directing the pace and when the five of us went over the barriers, I got into the top three. By the end of the first time through the spiral Nate and I had a gap and I let him push the pace as I drafted through the Red Bull banner. Nate and I took turns pulling for the next lap and a half, extending our lead and trying to figure out who was stronger. On lap three, on the runup/step section, the Freak was yelling at me to "break the rubber band" and telling me to make a move, so I did. After we got on the bikes, there was a short flat grass section, then a tricky uphill turn into a short climb. Nate had been slow through that section so I poured it on, gaining 3 or 4 seconds. Through the spiral I got another couple seconds and by the time we'd gone around the stadium and through the various downhill sections and started the uphill climb, I had build a 5-10 second lead. I maintained that gap until about a half lap to go when I just poured it on coming back up the hill to make Nate think I had a ton of gas in the tank. I worked. First win of the season and a big slap on the back from the Freak.

It was the first time this season that I'd used any kind of tactics during a race. My pattern before had been to start hard, splinter the pack, then fade off the back and struggle for the podium. Saturday the plan was good, the training was good, the nutrition was right and the legs felt good. It all sort of came together. I packed the car, drove 4 hours to Louisville, played a two hour show, drove home, slept like a rock, then got up and ran 4 miles and went to LP Field where the Titans got whipped by Favre. Predictable but unfortunate none-the-less. Favre is really fun to watch, he's like a High School Kid. I know how he feels, it's a little like I feel on my bike. All in all, a good weekend.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Tomorrow will be a long ass day for yours truly. I've been really diligent about my diet and training this week, putting in good long efforts on Tuesday and Wednesday. First half of the week I even ate well. I immediately notice any dietary changes, I can drop 4 lbs in a day just by keeping the wrong stuff out of my body. Unfortunately, starting with Wednesday night, I've not been drinking enough water, which always leads to me eating more food, and bloating up again. Yesterday I didn't have much in the tank (probably dehydration) so I just went out and spun for a half hour, worked on my secret trail and played guitar. By evening, I had already eaten a large, mostly rice, meal for lunch and a large snack prior to heading to a friends for dinner. Two large bowls of Curry, two plates of salad, three brownies and 1.5 beers later I stumbled home and immediately into bed without stretching or drinking water or any of the other things I usually do that make the mornings nice and sunny.

So, here I am, on the couch, congested, bloated, dehydrated and a little unmotivated, with perhaps the longest day of my year looming less than 23 hours away. What to do? Water, water, water, water, coffee, stretch, water, yoga, water, ride, play music, eat right (Quinoa anyone?) drink one beer, change tube on the cross bike (perpetual flats) sleep. I keep talking about tomorrow being this insurmountable obstacle, but really, it's just the first of two really awesome days. Tomorrow AM I'll be up early, headed to Fayetteville for the Beat the Freak cyclocross race. I'll be racing my 4th and 5th races of the season (you'd think as much as I think about it I'd find a way to race a little more than just 8-10 times a season). Single Speed race starts at 10:45, goes 45 minutes, then immediately after the CX4 race starts, goes for 30 minutes. As soon as I'm done, I have to get home to shower, then drive 3 hours to Louisville, KY for a 5pm soundcheck and 8pm show. When the show's over, if I have the energy, I drive home. More likely I'll hole up in a seedy south Louisville hotel for the night. I will, at this point, be a very tired, but very happy camper.

But the fun isn't over yet, oh no, my friend. 11am Sunday morning, Sarah and I head to LP Stadium for the Titans/Jets game. Get to see old Brett Favre try to topple our undefeated Titans (not a fluke). Average one 18 ounce beer per quarter (make sure you get the last one prior to the end of the third as they shut the taps off as soon as it's over) then stumble over to the in-laws for family dinner. All in all, a pretty choice weekend. It'll be interesting to see how the show goes, I was useless after the race last week and I didn't have to drive 6 hours or stand up and rock for 2 hours either.

Next week I've decided I'm headed down to Conyers, GA for a race. It was either that or go to Montgomery AL, and since Conyers separates the CX4 and SS races, I can do the double. My quest to qualify for CX3 next year continues. My mental quest to decide if I should go geared for CX3 or just be that guy on a SS also continues. I'm leaning toward being "that guy" as it'd give me an excuse to build up a really devastatingly sick/light/fast SS cross rig. Drawback is that it would only get used for cross racing, unlike a geared cross rig I could use for commuting, riding the road, even touring down the road. Like I said, the mental quest continues.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Picked up a light for night riding this week, so when Robert posted to the NMB Forum that he was doing a night ride at Lock 4 up in Gallatin I committed. After a brief stop by Biker Choice to warranty the crank from my cyclcross bike, I headed to the trail head arriving about 30 minutes before sunset. I hurriedly put on my gear and headed out for a quick lap solo. About 2/3rds of the way in, I was forced to turn the light on for the first time. It really was like riding in the daylight, except that the sun was only shining on a 30 foot patch of woods.

I finished up the lap and pedaled to the parking lot. There was a group of about 6 getting ready. I was really hot and sweaty when I arrived and two of the other guys, Keith and Adam (the other 29er ss riders) had also taken a lap and were rapidly cooling off as we waited for Robert, Jeremy and Michael to get ready. The three of us finally took off in hopes of keeping warm. Second Lap was pretty mellow, just me following the guys around. The laps take a little longer when it's cold and dark. When we came around for the third lap, I immediately shouldered into a tree and started to think twice about my diet for the day. I'd only had a bowl of oatmeal and a spinach salad and there I was, at 6:15pm, riding miles 13-19, in 28 degree weather. I tried to bail after the first loop, but Keith gave me a hard time and I pressed on, actually feeling pretty damn good by the end. I pretty much threw my bike in the car, changed clothes and beat it for home.

A brief detour by Target to pick up something for my wife (Pharmacist thought I was drunk, must have been the red eyes and delirium) then home where delivery was waiting. Soup, Onion Rings, French Dip, Salad, a beer (Ellies Brown Ale) some water and I was pretty much done, layed out on the floor. All that riding in the dark takes supreme focus and it really wore me out, but I'll be back next week, hopefully won't be so cold.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


So tired. At home now, watching the Titans. 6.5 hours ago I was suffering. A lot. This morning the TN State Cyclocross Championships were held in Memphis on Mud Island, across the channel from the Pyramid. I showed up an hour before the start, registered and went out for a pre-ride. With the exception of one railroad tie run-up in the spectator area, the course was surprisingly boring, requiring very very little braking and absolutely no technical ability. One part of the course was a half mile of straight grass along the Mississippi River with just one section of natural wood barriers to break it up. Courses like this are not my strength, I just don't have the fitness base having only started riding again in June. I knew that the roadies would probably put the screws to me. Fortunately I was only half right.

Fifteen minutes before the start I saw Tanner Hurst (below, pictured immediately to my right) in the parking lot. I didn't think he was going to show and was a little disappointed since last weekend he didn't give me much of a chance. Don't get me wrong, I love some stiff competition and Tanner's natural ability is inspiring, but I also hate to think right off the bat that I'm racing for second. They only ran two races today, the "A Race", Pros, CX1,2,3 and Master Men, and the "B Race", basically everyone else. The CX4 class is the biggest and also hosts some of the slowest riders. Normally it wouldn't matter, except that for some reason, the officials decided to stage the Single Speed class directly behind the CX4's and start us at the same time. Initially I was moderately upset but I tend to do best at the start and in the first lap so I decided not to bitch and try to turn it into an opportunity.

As soon as we started, I headed to the left, around several of the CX4's and right up the middle rapidly picking up places and moving into the top 10 overall. During the pre-ride, I accidentally skipped a section and was startled to find a steep run-up after a wide open corner early in the lap. Basically, the only tactic was to sweep wide around the corner then immediately start stomping on the pedals to get as much speed up as possible before the climb. With the CX4's gearing down and me not having that luxury, I picked up at least 3 more spots on the short climb. The course then took a hairpin turn off the sidewalk onto an off camber turn then into a long, soft section. Had it been raining it would have been mud, as it was it was just irritating and exhausting. It took me a few laps to find the right line and I gave up the SS lead going through the soft stuff on the second lap.

After the sog, there was a bumpy, uphill left hander into my favorite section, the railroad tie run-up that brought us onto the sidewalk in the spectator area. I usually start strong, first half to full lap I rip, often lead, today was no exception, but heading into the second half of the course I gave up another spot and slipped to third. Soon after I let fourth place by me in an effort to stabilize my heartrate and pretty much stayed right there the rest of the race. I was pushing hard and starting to pick up overall places, but was having a hard time catching the three SS riders ahead of me. I spent about a lap going back and forth with Brent Barrett (above, last in line), who beat me in the CX4 sprint last week. I think eventually he ended up in front of me.

Last lap I tried to dig deep and get on the podium, but I just didn't have it in me. I eased across the line in 4th, 6th overall. It's funny, I thought about entering the CX4 race instead of SS after last weeks race. I'm hoping to get enough points to upgrade to CX3 for next season and I'd considered trying to pick up points in Memphis, but ultimately decided that SS State Championships was a goal and I didn't want to give up on it. Had I, I would have started in a better position and theoretically ended up in at least third, landing on the podium and picking up 2 points toward an upgrade, not to mention a little merchandise.

Either way I'm happy with my result. Two of the three individuals that beat me were racing the CX3 race and the other was racing in the Masters race afterward. I'm feeling really motivated to keep working, keep trimming down and getting faster. I was hoping to hit the podium, but I'm happy with the result. I'm up to 16th place in the TBRA Single Speed series standings. Next weekend is Beat the Freak down in Fayetteville, TN. I'll be racing the double, SS and CX4 races. We'll see how that works out.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Life

The other night, we were backstage, hanging out having dinner before the gig in Savannah, GA. We got on the topic of being rich. Absentmindedly I said, "If I was loaded, I would just ride ride my bike and play music." Andy Hall made a stupid face and said, "isn't that pretty much what you do right now?". It seemed like a simple statement but it hit me like many many bricks. He was right, that is exactly what I do right now. I mean, I would probably ride more and tour less if I was loaded, but I'd end up doing exactly what I do now.

Actually, today is a pretty perfect example of The Life of me. Heading out in 10 minutes for a ride. When I get back I'll eat breakfast with the wife, then drive up to The Bikers Choice to get a new crankset put on the 'cross bike (got to get those 170's on the Single Speed). After that I'll play a little guitar, maybe work on my bike. 4-7 I have a session playing bass on someone's record, then I head out to the local bar for a random pickup gig with some random pickers. Ride, Eat, Wife, Music. All my favorite things. If I can catch a never before seen episode of Family Guy at the end of the night before bed, it'll be a perfect day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TBRA Rankings

Well, after my first race day of the season, I've entered the TBRA rankings at 18th in Single Speed and 33rd in Cat 4. This weekend I'll only be able to race in one race, still debating whether to race in Cat 4 to try to work toward an upgrade for 2009/2010 or race Single Speed. I think, based on this last weekend, that I have just as good a chance placing in Cat 4 as in Single Speed. My original goal this season was to hit the SS category, but now that I've done a race, I hope to get a geared bike and compete in Cat 3 next fall. Any input would be appreciated

Sunday, November 9, 2008

11.9 Hoss of Cross

Today I rode in the Hoss of Cross outside McEwen, TN. It was a perfect course on private land. Legit singletrack, minimal pavement, a burly run-up, and a killer cloverleaf in the field. Cumberland Transit and all the other volunteers did a great job. I arrived early, around 8:30. Cat 4's went off at 10, there were 18 of us, I was the only one stupid enough to enter on a singlespeed. I led briefly in the first lap, but drifted back to 4th through laps 2 and 3. I finally started breathing again in the 4th lap and reeled in 3rd place, passing him on the last short climb before the downhill finish, but, since it was a downhill finish, and I only had one gear (39x18) he came by me and beat me by a wheel length. Maybe next year I should get a geared bike for the Cat races. I really think I'd have had no problem pulling of 2nd place if I'd have been geared.

I hung out the rest of the day, watching, heckling, eating and riding. 2pm rolled around and there were only 5 of us for the singlespeed race. Tanner immediately went right off the front. The Freak and I went back and forth for the first lap and a half, then he just sorta rode away from me.

I guess after feeling like my lungs bled in the cat 4 race I couldn't bring myself to really reach to pull him back again. Spent the last lap and a half just sortof hanging on. Coasted in a couple minutes behind Tanner Hall and 15-20 seconds behind Richard Freeman. Tanner's ridiculous. 15 year olds shouldn't be able to push the pedals like that. What a diesel.

Can't believe I haven't done one of these in 7 seasons. I literally thought I was going to puke at least 3 times, when I finished the first race I felt like my lungs were bleeding. By the end of the second race I almost couldn't face the last barrier section. I'm feeling good, though. Motivated. I think I'm going to feel great at the State Championships next weekend. Tanner will probably be there, if he is, I doubt anyone will beat him. I'm curious to see who busts out their singlespeeds for the occasion.

There were a few guys out there on mountain bikes. The Columbia races take place in January. If you've never done 'cross, I'd suggest you give it a shot, it hurts. bad.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rain, 'Cross, Bass

Life's good. Lot's of riding this week. The 'cross bike's starting to feel more comfortable, like it should. Headed out to Music City Thrift today to try and hook up a fixie project (heard about a $15 Peugot) then up to Bikers Choice to put some shorter cranks and a 20t on the 'cross bike for Sundays Race. If the weather holds I'll head out to Shutes Branch, the newest, coolest, rollin-est trail network in Nashville. It rained a little this morning so I should be able to get some work done rolling the trail in. Then maybe home tonight to convert the new fixie.

Been working on a new urban trail network at an undisclosed location. It's close to home and underutilized, city owned, and full of homeless people. I'm hoping to cut away a little brush and open up some sweet, short, twisty singletrack, hopefully oust some of the bums and possibly even put a 'cross race on. We've got the perfect combo of trail, pavement, field, a long steep run-up and easy access. More to come, or maybe less to come.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night

Drinking Starr Hill Beer, watching the election coverage. I feel good. I voted. My vote counted. Obama is winning and I feel hopeful. More hopeful than I have felt in years. I think things are going to get better. I think this optimism I feel will be felt by everyone and it makes me happy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cyclocross Season Countdown: 11 days

It's getting closer. My dream to get hammered into the mud is less than two weeks from becoming a reality. That gives me exactly 18 days until the State Championships and 18 days to lose about 8 lbs! Ran today in Stonington, probably 45 minutes. Threw in a few intervals at the end. Feels really good to run the engine in colder weather, acclimate the lungs to working under stress in low temperature. It reminded me of the early morning rides to school when I was in Middle and early High School (the car ended all of that prior to Junior Year).

So the first race of the season is the Hoss of Cross at the Cog Farm in McEwen, TN. I'll be up early running the Cat 4's race at 10:30 then hanging around and hopefully shooting some video during the 1/2/3 race. 2:30 is the marquee event for me, the Single Speed race. The plan is to do the 4 as a warm up, shake the legs out and hopefully get a few points for Team Bikers Choice (and maybe get enough points to petition an upgrade to Cat 3) then eat and recover for the Single Speed race.

It always surprises me how much harder I work when I've got a goal in mind, like 'Cross season. It's unlikely I would be working this hard getting fit just for fitness sake.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Last Day of Vacation

It's here. The last day of the Mexico odyssey. The day has dawned sunny, the tequila from last night is nearly out of my system (though not really out of my head), soon it'll be time to head to the beach one last time. Yesterday afternoon Sarah and I sat at the local sports bar drinking Corona, watching football. I ate what seemed like one order of every appetizer and now I feel sick. The Titans won, again. We were unable to watch the game but the bar had free wi-fi so we did the whole play-by-play thing. Tonight, we'll probably go back so we can catch the Broncos on Monday Night Football. So Long Mexico.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Surly Big Dummy

My obsession for the day, the Surly Big Dummy. Here's a link to the best built example of this bike, The Goat. There's a flickr group dedicated to these things. They're the absolute best cargo bike made right now. You can haul up to 400 lbs (including the weight of the rider), even additional people. I'm obsessing over how to get one and further, how to justify it. I've already bought two bikes this year:

My Bianchi SOK 29er single speed. The best freakin' bike I've ever had.

And my Specialized Singlecross singlespeed cyclocross bike.

I figure between those two and the inevitable road bike I'll have to buy (you've got to have one for training/group rides/riding the trainer/etc...) it'll be awhile before I can justify another. Besides, the Big Dummy costs $2700 and to build it up super trick, the way I'd want, with internally geared Rohloff hub, Brooks Saddle, Avid Discs, etc... there's no telling how much $$ I could tie up in one. In the meantime, I'm thinking I'll just modify my old mountain bike using the xtracycle (the inspiration for the big dummy). For $500, I can add the xtracycle to my old mtb and see how much I use it. Maybe put an odometer on it or start a ride log and set a goal, like 500 miles or 100 rides, and reward myself with a trick Big Dummy when I get there. The entire xtracycle concept is so thourough, I'd even be able to transport my bass on it! That'll be a picture worth posting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Training in Mexico

It's tough trying to train for cyclocross season while on honeymoon in Mexico. There are unique challenges. Humidity, Heat, Hurricanes, and Heavy Drinking all conspire against me. Every day I leave the condo and every day my legs feel like lead. I just discovered yesterday that the route I've been running is only 2.1 miles long. 2.1 miles a day with some swimming is just not going to get me ready for my first race November 9th. Fortunately, yesterday I ran the loop twice, mostly because I spent the entire first half of the first lap thinking about something other than running.

I was thinking about what it would take to start a weekday cyclocross series in Nashville, wondering what time of night it would start, where it'd be run and how many people would show up. It's not hard to think about something else the first mile or two of a run, but the third and fourth miles are always a battle. The legs want attention, more than anything else, the legs want attention. They want to stop. I kept reminding them that this was nothing compared to the suffering they be subject to at Hoss of Cross on November 9th. I told them that we'd be entering two races that day and that in spite of the fact they'd only be 30-40 minutes each, we'd be in for some suffering. I told them, they didn't listen. About 500 yards short of the goal they quit, "no mas" they told me, having learning the language much faster than I.

So here I am, after a long sleep (vacation style) but also after a night of Vodka and Tang (what do you think they drink up in the Mir spacestation?) I'm up against another morning of Heat, Humidity, Hurricane winds and that other thing, drinking water and coffee, hoping that I'll feel a little better before I go out for my daily slog around Puerta Aventuras. At least if I need motivation I've got YouTube.

Friday, October 10, 2008


We're on our honeymoon in Mexico. It's freakin' beautiful. The weather is perfect, the view is epic and did I mention the weather is perfect. We've spent the first couple days just sitting around, reading and tanning, drinking beer and tequila. Today we're going to rent a car and venture out into the world. Even on vacation, in summer weather, I've got 'cross on my mind. Yesterday I ran and swam, in a few minutes I'll do it again. My only goals during this vacation are to go home completely rested and in better shape than when I arrived. Shouldn't be too hard, there's not really much to do but rest and run and swim.

I'm trying to figure out a way to take my bike on the next tour so I can prepare for the season out on the road. If I'm unable to get the bike in the van, I'll be looking at just a few days on the bike prior to the first cross race... guess I'd better go running.

See ya

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bluegrass Festivals

Last weekend the Stringdusters played two bluegrass festivals. One in Boone, NC and another somewhere in West Virginia (I was half asleep arriving and leaving, so I haven't any clue where we were). I probably would have had a better time if I wasn't still dragging ass from last weeks festivities. Blue Highway in Boone, Cadillac Sky in WV. I'm developing a new on stage routine where I choose a member of a band I love (like those mentioned) and take every opportunity to crack jokes with them in the punch line. This week it was Tim Stafford (always a favorite target) and Brian Simpson. Finally pulled the van into the KMart parking lot at 1am.

Last night I finally took out the compost (Sarah's been collecting it for weeks while I've been gone, it's already half decomposed in the fridge) and found that the pears from the yard (two wheelbarrows full) have already broken down into a rich humus. Compost is amazing. We're pulling tomatoes off the vines in our overgrown garden. Most of them are scarred from the drought but there's still nothing like a homegrown tomato.

Got on the bike yesterday for the first time since a 5 hour epic Saturday of Pagosa. A head cold and beat up body made for a pretty short and un-inspired ride. Probably should have waited. the singlespeed is pretty tough when the body's only running at about 50%. Walked some sections of my favorite trails for the first time ever. The good news is that I'm feeling better today, I've lost some weight and I'm hoping by tomorrow I can track down the group ride and try to sit in with the fellers.

I feel like I should be contributing something substantial here instead of running down a list of what's going on, but the brain is still waiting to jumpstart and this is all I've got.

Last week, at my mothers house, I randomly opened a copy of Atlas Shrugged, one of the longest fictional works published in any language, and found my original birth certificate inside. Strange. Now I'm compelled to read it. Go Capitalism.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Booksy's Blog takes shape

Not really sure where this is heading, but I will say it's heading somewhere.

This weekend at Four Corners Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs we hung with the Belleville Outfit, Punch Brothers, Bearfoot, Crooked Still and a bunch of friends. Still the best festival in the country.

Single speed mountain bike world championships are coming to Durango Colorado in 2009, I started training yesterday. Winner gets a mandatory tattoo, wherever the artist wants to put it.