Thursday, June 30, 2011

Decaf by Default.

I wrote this last night but my blog simply refused to be pushed to the world wise interwebz:

Today is an off day from the bike and is weird feeling. I have been pretty tired all day, even though I slept like a kitten last night. I woke up feeling pretty good, made breakfast and ate while reading Velonews, and decided to go roll around in the bed because I didn't have to leave for work anytime soon.

Throughout the course of the day I didn't drink enough water. Not nearly enough. I feel all dried out, hot, and lethargic. Possibly I did drink enough water, because I have been making "Bear Soda" all day long. Part of it may be because I shaved my hair off yesterday to rid myself of the bleached spots in my hair. It was cool for the 5 or whatever days it lasted but I am just not cool enough to take a ton of funny looks every day. Anyways, my head always feels funny for a while with all of the sensations on my scalp. Maybe it's a combination of that and the fact I am a total softie. Who knows?

As I write this I am sitting at my soon-to-be-for-sale kitchen table and eating cereal. I feel like I could eat an entire box of cereal. I have been trying to eat a healthier diet that includes more fruits and vegetables in order to help counterbalance my increase in training. My idea is that if I eat terribly and ride a tiny bit and barely get dropped I'm stupid. If I begin eating much healthier foods (good) and begin to ride my bike really hard (bad for my body in some ways) then I should feel overall the same. In reality it isn't working that way. I am eating better some of the time but the toll of riding my bike consistently is pretty big. A friend once told me "If being fast was easy everyone would do it."

Boom. If it was easy everyone would do it. Now you know.

Fast Forward to this morning and I get up, clean up a little bit, and start my water to make coffee in the french press. I go sit in the shower until the hot water runs out. Water in the kettle is boiling so I get my coffee grinder out, reach for my coffee. . . . reach for my coffee?!!?!? There wasn't any. All the coffee was already consumed. There is coffee at the store. There is coffee at the coffee shop. But not in my kitchen.

Nothing that is easy is good and nothing that is good is easy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Black and White? Nah Brah Totally Gray.

I should one day publish an entire blog post about things my dad says. He is full of great and witty comments for just about any situation. I have used some examples in the past, will in this moment, and will long into the future.

*person in fancy car is in the way when you are driving, holds you up by not using a turn signal*
"I'm glad I can't afford a ___________, those damn things don't even have blinkers. Hell even the S-10 had blinkers." The S-10 was a 1982 Chevy S-10 single cab pickup truck that had about a billion miles on it and was a stick shift. I learned to drive a stick in that truck.

Over the years I have yet to figure out if I am the way that I am because I work hard. I would give credit to my wonderful parents, grandparents, and older sister for dealing with me during my wee years. I could say that they were/are great in teaching me how to work hard and produce good work. On the other hand I could say they allowed me to become an arrogant, hard headed, self righteous bastard who believes everything should be perfect. When things aren't perfect I go all bat dung crazy and freak out on people who aren't doing what they should be doing to make thing perfect. I ignorantly believe that everyone can perform on a certain level of brain level that allows them to not totally suck at everything.

The reality is nothing is black or white and I most certainly fall into a weird mixture of arrogant, self righteous, hard working bastard who is personally bat dung crazy.

In other not so new news, I will be moving out of my apartment in the near future. I'm going to be living "all the way out there" if you ask a Midtown person.   I plan to use a bunk bed/multiple sleeping options approach that will allow me to sleep in either a hammock or a bed, with the hammock being set up bunk bed style over the bed. I wonder if me or marley would enjoy sleeping in a hammock? Even the ability to go to bed and chill in the hammock and read for a while and then when ready to sleep crawl into a cool bed and go to sleep. I am looking forward to that very much. Also Marley will have a yard to play in, there is better road riding out there, and my commute to work will be far enough to justify wearing a chamois. Total win across all fronts.

Sorry for my total lack of pictures. I suck at that. Maybe some will come tomorrow as I attempt to take over the world. My day off includes riding, shopping for the shop, shopping at the shop, and rebuilding an Industry Nine wheel with a more reliable and rider weight appropriate Arch rim.

You should turn on your Pandora Radio and create a station using The Eagles as the jumping block.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good, Bad, and the Putty

So I have had some good, some bad, and in the extremely near future will have some putty as well.

The good: I raced the Smif & Nieces Omnium. It was a grand time. I didn't die in the circuit race even though the pace was pretty hard, one guy snapped off a fork, and it was 700 degrees. I placed 7th in under 40 cat 5. That night was the time trial so I outfitted my cross bike with a Zipp 404 front and 808 rear tubular wheel. I dropped my chain before I started, rolled out with one foot clipped in and proceeded to channel my rage into a 2nd place finish. The next day in the crit I was a protected person due to my Omnium standings but pretty much ran out of gas on the last 1/2 of the last lap. My life story. Ended up 3rd under 40 Cat 5 in TN for the State Crit medal, and 3rd overall under 40 for the Omnium.

The bad: student loan repayment begins very soon. I am going to move out of my apartment and start living in a multi family home. The monthly savings is very near the monthly payment of loan.

(Anyone need a kitchen table and chairs that will be available for pickup at the end of July, free if you get it.)

The putty will come as I patch the holes in the walls and prepare to HTFU and get my 16 mile, one way, commute on to go to Union.

No pics from the weekend really, Cat 5's go last and all the photographers are drunk by the time we race.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Surely it's Surly.

In my quest to be a loud mouth jerk I always said skinny bars on mountain bikes sucked. It goes back to my days of bmx, when I rode big bars. I rode big bars when big bars were just coming out. I liked my bars big because they felt better. Anyways.

I was riding a Niner 710mm flat bar. I made the comment that skinny bars suck. Joel, my boss, said they don't. He offereed to let me ride a Crank Brothers bar that is a mere 600mm wide. Ok I'm game. No big deal. I'll try it. The first time I rode it, I was using a Powertap wheel and was more being a jerk, applying some pedal power, and giving it a whirl. I rode the CB bar to Arkansas this last weekend and it sucked. I didn't like the width, or straightness. I had been fascinated with the idea of a bendy bar. I know some people love them. The bastard child of a drop bar, a mustache bar, and an otter.

My reasoning went something like this:
The Niner bar has some good bend, I like the Niner bar.
The Bontrager big sweep I just put on the Schwinn I ride to work feels great too.
The super bendy Surly One Bar is even more bend-tabulous than either of those.
If the bar has too much bend-tabulous action for single track fun I could always run it on the Schwinn on the Surly CrossDresser.

I ordered it. (before I knew ORAMM was full and I should have been spending my money on other stuff)

Boom. The bend is great looking, the drop is deep, and I want to ride it badly. I need to recable the rear brake and the shifter, but really the current length will work to make sure this bar is actually living on this bike before I go buying up all the housing and stuff and setting it up.

Inferior bar is inferior

Lonely stem and a snoopy puppy

Looking fun.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Self Served Life Lesson, A La Mode Of Course

Some times you have to learn as you live. People say you can learn from others, from reading books, all that stuff. They are mostly wrong. You have to learn most life lessons by screwing up yourself. There are some areas where this doesn't apply:
Experimenting with meth
Driving your car wasted to see if you can do it
Touching a burning blow torch to test your "asbestos fingers"
Trying to punch a train off the tracks

We all know the outcome of those things is really bad. Really bad. However, some people my age don't know jack when it comes to putting their crap in order and making things happen. For instance I was going to use ORAMM as my "A" race for the 2011 season. I have been more consistent with my fitness and working towards being faster. I was hoping for an even more impressive result than last year where I showed up and sorta did great given my fitness and stuff. Reality check. Boom. Registration is full. All of the sudden dudes are offering entry fee, transfer fee, plus 100 bucks. Wow. Thats like 1/2 of one of my paychecks. Before driving 10 hours, making hotel/camping reservations, and eating. Hmm. Time to face the cold hard facts. I don't have the money for entry fee, let alone all the other jazz. That means all that would go on my credit card. For what would hopefully be less than 6 hours 30 minutes on race course.

Totally not going to happen. I am going to skip ORAMM and not put myself in debt. It sucks. I should have registered while entry fee was cheap back in February. I should have asked for entry for my birthday in February. However what would suck more? Paying 14% interest on entry fees, travel, lodging and food for a silly race. That is stupid. The bike I want retails for$2150. I should save money towards buying a new bike. A road bike. So I don't have to race road on a cross bike with a set of road tires and a neg 30 degree stem. (it sure is fun to drop guys on carbon bikes/wheels though).

The moral of this blog post? If I had drank less beer in the last 5.5 months, I could be registered for ORAMM.  But I didn't. So instead I will skip the hassle of hussling for an entry and realize that I need to do better in the future. This is a life lesson moment.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Open Letter to Bob Roll:

I recently read Bob Roll's book titled "Bobke II". This book is in my opinion one of the most encouraging things I have read so far. I say this because Bob Roll was never that fast. I am not discrediting him as a rider in any way. But when at pro caliber races he didn't just show up and just destroy everyone. The thing is at every bike race there are between 2 and 2,000 people lined up to race. What Bob's book highlighted was when he was happy with the small victories of not getting dropped too bad, or too quickly, or hanging in there til it was all flat tires then still having a good time. The book showed me that even though I am coming around and trying to not be too serious while still being serious, I still have a long ways to loosen up before the fun really begins.

So to Bob Roll, if you ever happen upon this, which is unlikely. Thanks. For chronicling how you lived life and had a great time. I will being doing my best to hit some of those things on the bucket list he has left his readers to ponder. I'm marking my calendar with some serious plans for the future.

Also, in super cool news, I have an opportunity so cool that I shouldn't talk about it because if it doesn't happen everyone will be sad. But let's just say there is a chance that in the next few months I could do some really cool things that leave me a good ole 'merican shit-ton of stuff to write about.

This weekend I am racing the Smith and Nephew Omnium. A little disappointed in the 9.2 mile Cat 5 Circuit race but I'm not putting on the race. And no one is making me race. So I should just STFU and get ready to go have fun. The following week I plan to head to Nashville to race the Hamilton Creek 50 mile mountain bike race. I have some fun parts coming for the Felt Nine Race to hopefully complete the geared bike awesomeness that it is.

And for the record guys and gals. . . . I love chocolate milk. I don't think there is much time I would turn it down as long as I wasn't riding. So maybe in the future instead of beer, a mid-afternoon donut and milk drop would be pretty awesome.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mountain Biking and Road Racing, maybe not in that order.

Over the last few weeks I have been getting back on the bike and getting into the swing of things again. I raced Syllamo's Revenge with more "training" than ever before, but I need to put the spurs to myself (kinda kinky huh) and really get in better habits of riding my bike more than 4 hours a week. I did pretty well over the last 8 days by doing some duration and some intensity and need to start throwing in consistency. I still have to trick myself into riding in different ways than most. It usually involves a ton of profanities and a cue sheet written on a sheet of high quality paper.

I have realized that my last week's exploration ride was truly an epic adventure. I just took off with a few bottles full of water, pockets full of gu, and my iPhone in case things got too squirrely before the light got too low. With that said I have a few different long rides that I plan to attempt over the coming weeks. I want to ride to places I have never been and maybe even end up somewhere I didn't know existed. I'm itching to do a century on the Bob Roll Plan: Wake up, eat breakfast, ride a century, do a shot and chase it with a Guinness. Nap til' 8. Eat a burger. Go to bed.

The road roll-out on the knobby tires this morning was brutal. I raced hard on the road yesterday. I guess that should come first, but it's not. My legs were feeling like they had been filled with lead and then encased in plaster. For the second time my Fizik Aliante saddle felt terrible. Like three rounds of tingly numbness trying to set into my pieces' parts (thanks Pirate for that line. I love it). It was hard to find my rythym, I didn't think I was as hungry as I was. I guess racing yesterday took it out of me. I was physically hurting so I was mentally weak. Things got slimy and I let a little muddy hike-a-bike ruin my fun for a little while. Then I choked down a bar, zipped my mouth shut, and tried to climb out of the "being a whiney ass" and into the "this is a bike ride, its fun" mindset. It sorta worked. For pictures from today's ride go here.

Saturday was the Circue Da Vaccuum race. It was out on the Long Road race loop which is a fast paced, windy, slightly rolling with one hill course. The Cat 4's and Cat 5's got split so the BPC presence in my race was killed. Richard Murphy, Randy, and Richard Patterson joined me in the 5's. The first 3 laps were prime laps, so the race started hot. 3 guys from two teams went off the front and things got ugly. The teams sat up and blocked so they started gapping and I thought "shit, we aren't moving" and went to the front. I baited the guys to start chasing their team mates for a while, till one Vaccuum yelled to another "Stop pulling when your own team is off the front." Le Duh. I just kept going to the front and making people go faster. I didn't want to roll along at a 17mph pace for 40 miles. At the end of lap 1 the gap was 20 seconds. Richard M and I went to the front and made it hurt. We went faster. Vaccuums tried blocking and parking. Some harsh words were exchanged at one point. End of lap 2 the time gap was 2 minutes and 20 seconds. WTF? Seriously. We put together a better effort but some people wouldn't pull, some teams wouldn't pull, and the race was falling apart in front of me. I got stressed out.

I overlapped wheels with a guy and almost went down but luckily didn't.  Adrenaline junky. I kept wanting to go fast. I started bonking. One hour, 12 minutes with no food. SHEEEEEEEIT!!! I ate a gu. In retrospect I should have just eaten 2 at once and gotten it over with. I came back, but knew I wasn't going to to into the last lap fresh to sprint for 4th. There were guys missing from the race who I wanted to disappear. The field seemed to be slimming down. When certain guys were at the front it was a single file suffer fest. I was sitting off the back for a minute. I talked some mad crap to myself and closed the 3 bike length gap so I could draft to the hill. A few laps later, taking pulls each lap, I knew my matches were getting numbered. So I decided to burn 'em while I had 'em. When the 3 laps sign came out I knew I needed to keep all the team guys drafting. People didn't want to rotate through and let Murphy rest so I went from back and let him sit on my wheel for a while. One of the Circue Da Vaccuums popped out of the break away group and we swallowed him up. I put in a super hard launch at the beginning of the last lap to make the pace go up and then promptly popped. I lost the group as they went by and eventually pedaled in the last lap solo. This was similar to my hero effort I made at the Jackson race but this time it landed Richard Murphy on the podium. Was my work what did it? Not 100% but I feel like I did my part.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ride to the Middle of Nowhere.

Andrea told me to ride to the middle of nowhere as my ride plan for today. It was summed up like this "Ride to the middle of nowhere. Act like riding is your job tomorrow. Eat a big breakfast and plan to eat lunch on your ride." *Gulp* I was scared. She told me "Go to Arkansas" and I figured, ah what the heck, I have never ridden across state lines. Might as well get that knocked out tomorrow. I did some homework on google maps and realized I could easily ride backroads to West Memphis and hopefully find a good place to eat. I made a cue sheet, preloaded my jersey, and figured out how to carry three tubes in an Awesome Strap Race, and went to bed.

I woke up and felt like crap. I didn't really want to ride. I was whining. A whole lot. I decided to not ride. LOL jk jk. I realized it was hot, I need to get used to the heat. It was my day off. My jersey was loaded. All I had to do was get dressed and roll out the door. Seriously. I did.

My route took me through parts of Memphis I hadn't seen before and over the I-55 bridge on the sidewalk. Once over the river I became very confused by no trespassing signs, standing water, and an urge to generally be an idiot (which turned out pretty cool). I went the opposite way I was supposed to go, almost got stuck in some mud with my road tires and shoes. I felt silly. Riding a cross bike, in a road set up, when I very much needed cross stuff. Grrrrr. I rode around and realized things weren't adding up. It seemed this exit of I-55 was just to go to a chemical plant of some sort. The people at the Security Hut of Big Chemical Nasty Smelling Place had no information on how to help me find my way. I rode around a bit more, explored a gravel road, and then realized what may be going on. I used my iFun to pull up the map, and sure enough. The road I needed to take was underwater. But it was just in one spot. I leave my shade of the overpass and sprint back down to where I started. This water looks bad. But the road looks good afterwards. So I look around, find a spot that doesn't seem too deep and ratchet pedal across to keep my shoes dry.

The road was gravel. Deep gravel. I followed it until it was annoyingly deep, hard to ride, and generally more grrr. I really wanted cross tires. Or mountain tires. Or a baja truck. But not 700x23s with 100psi in them. The other problem was putting a carbon soled shoe on gravel is much like wearing white sneakers in winter. You are just asking for trouble. Rather than continuing to beat up my sorer-by-the-minute wrist and potentially fall, I rode out to the river, ate a bar, took a picture, and rode back to Memphis. The labor of keeping things upright on the gravel plus the fact I rode a good deal of stuff off the beaten path to not walk in my road shoes and slip and die equaled I was more tired than I realized.

I crossed into Memphis with 25 miles in me and decided to go to Shelby Forest.  I could ride straight to the General Store, get a coldcut sandwich, and head out to the boat ramp before heading home. I was pooped by the time I got to the store. I ate a bologna and cheddar on wheat, drank a Coke and a Mountain Dew, and refilled all my bottles. I crept away from the store and worked on warming up slow to not leave lunch surprise in the side ditch. I eventaully ramped it up to a good steady effort, made the turn around at the river, and started back. I decided to ease up a bit before Jackson Hill in order to hit it fresh. I stayed in the saddle, recovered in the middle, and went over the top. I decided to put the spurs to it and see how long I could maintain a decent effort out the top and beyond. I kept rolling along, shifting, and bumping my heart rate up 2-3 beats. This went on for another 20 minutes. I finally popped, hung my head in shame, and faced the wind on the way back to Memphis.

I started hating life, running low on water, and generally sucking it up. I was having a hard time keeping the pedals turning and my head screwed on straight. I got some super skanky window waitress on Beale to fill up one of my bottles so I could make it home.

I rounded out the day with 2 states, 1 minor map mishap, 1 iPhone Maps save the day, some fun gravel, 1 hard effort that made me zapped, and 84 miles. Not shabby for a Tuesday.

I came home, made a recovery drink, started the bath, and hopped in. I drank my recovery drink and a bottle of water in the bath. I was hoping taking a cool shower would help stop any sunburn that was trying to finish set in, help me stop sweating (allowing my shower to be effective as well as rehydration to be more effective too), and relax. I shaved from neck to toes (just kidding. . . . I shave my toes). Then I took a quick, warm shower to knock the chill out.

My friend picked me up and we went to eat El Porton and catch up, but my stomach wasn't right so I barely ate. (For the record I am eating my leftovers now). When I came home I grabbed Marley and the long board and headed out for what could hopefully turn into our nightly shred session. He really enjoys running long with me while I scoot down the street.

Impassible Backwater? Merely a Puddle!

Wrong side of the river, still happy.

And the water said "Road be gone"

I put Marley away and needed to run to Walgreens for toothpaste and thread. I almost grabbed the bike. Blegh, no mas bicicleta. I thought about the Fucus. Really, drive less than 2 miles? No way. I took the long board. It took me 8 minutes to get there and probably 10-12 to get back. I didn't time my way back. I was only gone a total of 28 minutes though. The way back was a little more uphill and I just carried it part of the way. Still a blast, definitely way better tha driving the car. While I am terrible at efficiently going places or not looking dumb on it, I don't care. It's fun.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Time to Reflect

I started working on bicycles a  very long time ago. It all started like this: I was a kid whose dad was a carpenter. My dad literally could fix anything on your home. From the foundation to shingles and everything in between, he could fix it. My dad and my Papa actually owned a construction business, McCulley Construction.When they built the homes they would also build the cabinets that went in them. I stayed at home with my Granny before I was old enough to go to school. I learned to cook, how to be the #1 taste tester, and being a skinny ass kid I learned that trips to the grocery store in July means taking a jacket. After I started school my dad made my lunch every morning (my mom left a little earlier than my dad) and sucking all the air out of my ziploc with my sandwich. I would throw a fit saying "No Daddy, don't suck it, don't suck my sandwich". I never will remember why I thought it was bad he kept my sandwiches fresh.

As a 12 year old kid I remember helping dig the footing of a house in scorching heat making mad money for a kid my age. My dad would make me keep my shirt on so I wouldn't sunburn and wouldn't let me work too long. I would push mow and weed eat our 1 acre yard every week to keep the grass cut. If I needed to buy bike parts my parents NEVER bought them for me. My dad might have a brush pile that needed hauled off with the tractor, a truck to wash, a patio that needed swept out, or a big bucket of change that needed to be rolled in exchange for 1/2 the nickels. Always something. It was good. It was easy to appreciate my stuff because I got it. I never cried because my bike wasn't the newest and nicest and daddy didn't buy me nicer stuff. I knew a kid like that. I hated that kid. He was a punk. He still is. Racing bmx I always used affordable and durable stuff. I still have a pair of shoes I bought in July of 2003. I bought them a little big and they still fit today. I wear them on trips to Kroger and small stuff like that.

In high school I had a seasonal job working at a fireworks stand. My attention to detail, ability to sweat, and general attitude of "working when at work" made me a given hire every season. I had hours on the first day of cracking open the 18 wheeler trailer that served as our off season storage and always was around when the doors were locked for the last time of the season. I even did a summer season of pulling night shift security where I stayed there at night and gaurded the tent. It was an extremely profitable summer.

During high school I tried working in a kitchen but it didn't work out. The place was filthy, stinky, and just flat out gross. They always knew what part of the kitchen needed to be cleaned the most to pass health inspection. I remember I was the first person to clean the pizza oven in the 12 months they had been serving pizzas. I eventually quit. I started doing chores for pocket money til I graduated.

My first year of college I was a useless slouch. I didn't really work.

After my first year I went to see Hal on Highland about a used bike. I was interested in getting into road biking. I remember my first few rides being amazed that I could cover a great distance on the road with so little effort. I did a five mile road ride. I was super excited. I remember being giddy. My mom needed to run some errands in Memphis and I came out with her to get some new tires for my road bike. Mine were crap. I walked into Bikes Plus and they had a help needed sign. I told them my background, my understanding of bikes, and then I brought a resume back the next day. They hired me. It was all fun and great after that.

Steve, Glenn and Karen were really great at being nurturing and caring people. They worked around my school schedule, encouraged me to do well and helped me learn. Glenn taught me a ton about work, life, and showed me how easy it was to be happy being happy working on bikes.

I eventually moved over to RB's Cyclery to work with an awesome crew of guys. David Lyle taught me how to use a hammer to finish breaking broken crap so I could get on with fixing the bike. I remember the day he looked at me and said "I'm not showing you how to wrap bars again, you should know". Ten minutes later I had it figured out without using a crutch. David Evans showed me how to be a perfectionist. He wanted everything perfect every time. It was good. He taught me the way to glue tubulars, and appreciate gluing tubulars. To this day I have had a 100% success rate.We were rolling and kicking ass and taking AmEx. It was good. David Lyle helped place a displaced puppy who needed a good home. You all know him as Marley. I will always owe him a beer for hooking me up with who is now my best bud.

Things at RB's changed over time. For a short time Rod and I were in the shop, grinding it out everyday alone, making things happen. Sometimes we worked together, sometimes against one another. We were both passionate guys. We might gripe and bitch at each other for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes later be all cool and gravy again. Regardless of what anyone has ever said, will say, or thinks I loved working with Rod. We understood each other. Over time the Franklin shop got rolling and Rod moved away. Things didn't click like they did before and ultimately things worked out in what seemed like a crappy way. It was what it was, and things are working out now.

I had graduated and was sitting at the corner of "do I want to go to grad school" and "will working at a shop work out for me". I had only been single for 3 months, had no job, and no real ties to Memphis. It was a crazy time. I thought about packing my car with as much stuff as it would hold and running away to Colorado. I believed that I had a duty to Memphis. People always said that Memphis was a shitty place to live, shitty place to ride, shitty place to ___________. Well haters gonna hate and I thought I should stick around and try to become a banging mechanic here in town.

I started at Outdoors, Inc on January 3rd. I remember my first day of working being apprehensive about going to the new shop and trying to fit in. Its 5 months later and everyday I still feel the same. Sometimes I lose track of the fact that I am doing something that is really awesome. I work on bikes everyday. A friend put it into perspective that I am a pro mechanic. I am a mechanic. It is my profession. I am not doing this to pass the time til the next thing comes along. It is what I want to do. With that said I realized I needed to get my head wrapped around things correctly and try to make this fun like it should be.

I can remember one day being super pissed off because there was a ton of service on the schedule and the Union Ave store had flooded. Water seeped under the foundation on the bike shop side and it stunk. It stunk like we were a bike shop by day and a pasture for a huge herd of cats by night. I was showing our always on call handyman where the water was coming through and how there had been an excessive amount of leaves and trash between the parking lot and building in the drainage area where it seemed some homeless people had been hoarding stuff. I was walking up this ditch in pouring down rain and a baby bird landed on my foot, hopped around a bit, then fluttered off. That bird didn't give a shit if my shop was flooded, he didn't care if it was raining, if it was so windy that the trees were whipping around and creaking. He was being a bird. My foot was just there. He didn't have a breakdown over something as trivial as a pair of giants trampling through his home. Nope, because that's not how birds roll.

The next eye opening experience was Syllamo's Revenge weekend. I had 3 days in a row off to go race my bike with some really supportive and caring friends. The race weekend just worked out for me. I went really fast and had a great time. I had been getting faster at the encouragement and support of my friends. My parents didn't seem to freak out when I told them I wasn't going to pursue teaching at the current time, but just keep working in a bike shop. The day after the race I had a terrible time in the car on the way home. Sometimes after super hard training weekends I just feel like death in the car. It's not from the hangover, its different. My whole body revolts and hates me. Well we drove home and I took a recovery ride on my Schwinn fixed gear that has a slightly bent frame and no brakes. I was rolling down the greenline wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, cruising along just spinning and realized my rolling speed was amazing. I was cruising my fixed gear bike the same speed I would have been working to ride my geared cross bike with slicks 2 years prior. I had finally started working on being a better biker and it was paying off. I could do well in races.

I raced the Syllamo race on a demo bike from Outdoors, Inc. I have a pair of trail running shoes I got for a great deal with some hookup from the rep. A coworker traded a wheelset for a 12 pack of beer when I built my Schwinn. I have a network of great and supportive people to help me have fun in life.

Today I took home the demo longboard and taught Marley how to run beside me while I skateboard. It was super easy. He stepped under the wheel once and let his foot get ran over and then didn't get too close again.

This isn't intended to come across as a post that says I am freaking awesome. It's more of a way of saying where I have been, how I need to keep my act together, and make sure I keep enjoying myself and having fun doing something I happen to be halfway decent at.

Where am I headed? My short term plan is to keep doing what I'm doing. Riding my bike and trying to get faster, working with Outdoors, Inc bike shop to help it evolve, and having fun. Hopefully I'll keep having fun with what I am doing and will become a better, more proficient bike mechanic who can help the Memphis bike community ride bikes and have fun.

I have had a blast working in bike shops for the last 4 years, I hope to enjoy many more.