Saturday, November 29, 2008


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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.