Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I've fallen in love with the sport I used to hate the most. It happened a month ago on what was supposed to be a trip centered around music and mountain bikes. I worked on a course doing maintenace (operating mowers) for 4 summers but only played 2/3 of a round of golf. I got a chance to go play my old course and now I'm ruined. I love it. "Pick up golf bag, put down brain," we'd always say.

So, today, instead of riding, I'll be golfing...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Raccoon Mountain SERC #8

David and the rest of the Gone Riding crew have got their act together. Registration was a snap, everyone knew what was going on (nice lady at registration gave me a highly accurate 8 second description of course). I'd not ridden Raccoon Mountain, and I imagine it's a great ride (with some rest stops) but it was a very tough day of racing. Hot, Dry, Dusty and Relentless. I battled cramps in my quadriceps the entire second lap, when I stood, they cramped and I only had one gear so I stood, a lot. I've never experienced anything quite like that. Heat was rough, Tanner took a couple spills, seemed like there was a lot of mild carnage. Trail wasn't tacky at all; every corner involved one or both of the tires breaking free. It reminded me a lot of riding back home on the front range of Colorado. Only with humidity. I couldn't imagine going 3 laps. I'd have quit after one if I'd had two more to go.

I didn't take pictures, I was too busy trying to cram myself into my Biker's Choice Kit. It feels like it's two sized too small until it gets sweaty. Speaking of which, David, sorry I haven't made more races this season, but I've been busy. I contributed to Tanner falling again (in the pre-ride). Sorry about that.

Anyway, today made me happy. I even got to mow the yard, which was nice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So much to say

It's been a long time. I've been neglecting my blogging, started seeing it less as a duty and more as a burden. I didn't think anyone was reading this thing and as such, I let it slide down the priority list. Of course, as soon as I stopped, I ran into person after person quoting from my blog or asking about my single speed exploits. As such, I will attempt to sum up the last month in a digestible manner with visual aides.

So, in mid-May, the Dusters went on an epic Mid-Atlantic Tour through West Virginia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Virginia, ending at DelFest in MD. It was on this tour that I hit a personal low point, which was just what I needed to find what I can only describe as a rebirth. It's interesting, as soon as I admitted that I couldn't just go it alone, like I'd tried for so many years, things started getting better. They actually got better immediately. Thanks to Julie and Sarah for your prayers, Jordan for your wisdom, and Eckhart Tolle and W.P. Young for putting words and ideas to paper. I see now. I don't know exactly what I was looking at before, but I see it now, and it's beautiful. The last two nights of that tour, in Charlottesville and at DelFest were amongst the most enjoyable of my life to that point.

Tour ended and I was home for 18 hours before I headed out again, this time on the most ambitious tour of my young career. I took two days to get to Albuquerque, stopping along the way in Oklahoma in Red Rock State Park and outside Tucumcari
to watch the sun set. There are times when things hit you just right and time and time again on this drive that evening it happened. At one point I fired up the iPod, random style (like opening a book and reading whatever is on the page in front of me, I occasionally will spin the iPod dial and listen to whatever comes up) and Mason Jennings song Be Here Now came up. Never has a song captured the moment so beautifully for me. I was racing across the desert, pumping my arms in the air, singing along and crying uncontrollably. This was the theme song for my moment. After that I listened to my wife's record, Say It Louder and really heard it for the first time. Kite is the most honest song ever written.

I picked Anders up at the ALB airport at 10pm, then busted out the nearly 4 hour drive to Durango in just over three and went to bed. We rehearsed for three days in preparation for our duo tour, sliding a ride, a round of golf (at Dalton Ranch the course I worked maintenance on for 4 summers between 2001 and 2004) two radio shows and a dinner party. The Book & Beck duo tour kicked off in Durango on the 28th with a song I'd just finished that day. Friends and family really know how to make a couple guys feel comfortable. Greg Andrulis and Robin Davis joined us a different times turning our duo into a trio. The second set was peppered with guests like Rob Brophy, Mark Epstein, Cindy Trautman, David Smith
(spontaneous tenor on a song we co-wrote via email) and the incredible Jimmy Largent. Truly one of the best nights of my life, capped off with a midnight Spades session with the old crew back at my mothers house.

Anders and I did three more shows, but that was the highlight. I dropped Anders off on Monday morning at DIA and headed to Palmer Lake to meet up with one of my mentors, Tim Watkins. Tim took me out for a single speed ride on some old turf punctuated by a detour over a trail he and another mentor Tom Allen built. I spent the next few days sleeping, reading and riding in Salida, Buena Vista and Palmer Lake. The Stringdusters Tour kicked off in Ft. Collins, routed through Steamboat and stopped off in Pagosa for the festival. Love that place. They say you can't come home again, but when your home is the top of the crest in the campground on Reservoir Hill, you CAN come home, twice a year, actually.

The band played two more Colorado shows, allowing me the opportunity to do another ride following a trail that I half built in high school. Locals have latched onto and finished this ambitious 4-7 miler and it's now completely rideable from front to back. Now it just needs a name...

Last few days of the tour I got in another epic ride with Missouri locals George and Kevin. They've built a 13.5 mile singletrack loop on George's family spread overlooking the Meremac River. We rode it one way, and I couldn't get enough so we turned around and rode it the other way. Truly some of the best riding I've ever done. Thanks to Kevin and George for keeping on me about coming out. Saying yes rarely gets me in trouble and usually leads me to discoveries like that day. Beautiful. Drove home through the rain and arrived safely in Nashville, with 4700 more miles on my Toyota and a whole bunch of dirt splayed across my car, bike and all my gear. Truly an epic road trip.

So, I'm home for a couple days. The band's working on new music and having a band meeting or two. The weather's nice, I got in a good ride through Percy Warner on the Cross bike yesterday, will likely get in another before this weekend. It'll be all running after that leading up to the next mountain bike race at Raccoon Mountain June 28.

I must say, in closing, that it has been wonderful to see and meet so many amazing people on my travels. It was also a blessing to get to play my own music, nearly 15 compositions, on the duo tour. Anders was a good sport about learning my tunes and playing them those four nights. This next Dusters project is going to be great and I hope to record my own record on the heels of that. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and it is what it is, and that's all that it is.