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.