Saturday, December 29, 2007

The crossroads

photo: Patrick Hartford

I've been getting some decent riding in with my time off this week. On Wednesday, we set forth on the Lake James (bitch!) loop. Nothing like a 5 hour road ride to set some perspective in your life. Given the fact that this was the longest bike ride I've done in about 2 years, it worked out pretty well. But I just couldn't leave it at that...

Jeff and I got Brian to cover the shop today (thanks, B-Rock!) so that we could meet up with The Mayor and Preacher Todd for a dirt road ride out in Collettsville. We met up at 10am at the "Hard and Flossie Clark" Park (I swear that is its name) and departed down Hwy 90.

Just as Hwy 90 is about to turn to dirt, there is a road to the right. This is Anthony's Creek Road. Anthony's Creek is paved for a couple of miles and then turns to dirt. When the pavement ends, the climbing begins. And climb it does. Up and up and up it goes with Anthony's creek sinuously winding from one side of the road to the other. Almost from the gun, there is a beautiful waterfall that cascades through a jumble of granite blocks covered in green moss and algae. The air was crisp and cool, but the climbing caused us to warm up pretty quick. Towards the top I had to stop and get rid of some layers as I was starting to soak my wool jersey through with sweat.

We got to the top, a little community known as Gragg. We rode along a ridgeline and then descended down towards Wilson Creek and the community of Edgemont. We rode through Edgemont and on toward Mortimer. Just past the old CCC camp there is a little store. The store sits at the intersection of Hwy 90 and Brown Mtn. Beach Rd. This is a fairly important little intersection when cycling in this area for, as Jeff put it, this was "one of life's crossroad moments"; a decision point. At this point we had been riding for 2hrs and 45 minutes. Take Brown Mtn. Beach Rd. and we're back at the car in about an hour; take Hwy 90 and we have about the same ride time but with a lot more pavement. Or option 3: take 90 for a bit and then turn onto the all dirt "18 Mile" road and add another 2+ hours of ride time. Guess which option we chose?

"18 Mile" road is a beautiful, if not jagged, ride that has many ascents and descents and goes through at least two distinct life zones before dropping you onto Adako Rd. I readily admit I had a few dark moments towards the latter sections of the road, but it was worth the extra mileage.

Upon returning to the car, I immediately dubbed this loop the "7 faces of death" ride, but we were all in agreement that we seemed to not feel as beat up as we did at the end of the Lake James (bitch!) ride on Wednesday. I regret not having brought a camera, because the views were stunning and pictures would serve as ample inducement to get you to ride this route, but I also regret that I have not developed the habit of applying Chamois Butt'r before doing these epic rides. I keep trying to remember, but the habit just isn't ingrained yet. However, I do have a deeply ingrained habit of complaining about not using Chamois Butt'r at the end of long rides when my hind end feels the way a baboon's butt looks.

I got home, got a big hug from Owen (and his assistance with putting the wheels back on my bike), jumped in the shower and took off for Sledgehammer Charlie's in Blowing Rock. I hadn't been there since they moved, but Chuck had been talking about the food during the ride (never a good thing on an epic ride) and so visions of brisket and apple crisp sundaes danced through my head as we hit the road. The food was excellent, Owen ate his weight in french fries and baked beans (I'm sure an interesting diaper story is imminent) and I ate like there was no tomorrow. And now, since I feel somewhat human, I'm gonna call it a day and go crash out.

And Todd: today's ride was totally blog-worthy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy holidays! - or: how I survived the shop party and saved Christmas for a little girl on Christmas Eve.

The shop has been hopping for the past week. A big thank you goes out to all of the people who came in and, in one way or another, expressed the sentiment that they were trying to do all of their holiday shopping with locally-owned businesses. Amongst all of this holiday shopping, many of our regular customers and friends came by bearing gifts of a decidedly belgian flavor. By the time we shut the doors on Saturday, our 'fridge had to have something propped up against it to keep the door shut!

We had told everyone we could that we would have an informal holiday party during our shortened Christmas Eve hours from 10am to 2pm. Jeff and I were a bit nervous that although people might come, they would also bring more libations with them and our huge collection of belgian beer would not easily diminish.

By noon, no one had stopped by for the party and I quietly went to the fridge, pulled out the first bottle, popped the cork and set out upon the grim business of consuming our Christmas booty. Fortunately, people began to arrive shortly after. Jeff and I were heartily helped with dispensing with all of our holiday good cheer and a good time was had by all.

I got home and hung out with the family. Owen was ripping around on his little trike, his stuffed puppy draped across the bars when there came a rapping, a tap-tap-tapping upon our front door. Golden answered it and told me that our neighbor had an emergency with a Trail-a-bike that they had purchased from the shop. Now I have promised to not use the real name of this neighbor, so let's call him: Farley Chrye. Farley's wife had come to get me and Golden later recounted the look of desperate panic that was in his wife's eyes when Golden greeted her at our door. So I took off to see what was up.

She took me to their neighbor's garage. I walked into the garage and was greeted by the sight of the trail-a-bike lying on its side, a cordless drill with a large drill bit in it, a pair of channel lock pliers, a seat attached to its seatpost and the attachment collar for the trail-a-bike. I turned to her and asked, "what's the drill for?" Now as a long time professional bike mechanic I have come to realize (without a small measure of trepidation) that nothing good ever comes from the introduction of power tools into the bicycle repair equation when a layman is involved. Farley's wife just said, "I don't know" with that tone of voice that drips with the undertone of my-husband-has-done-something-stupid that I personally know all too well.

At this point in the story I must put forth that I am not immune to the occasional stupid act. I have locked myself in the closet while no one else was home, swallowed a nail while doing work around the house and set my porch on fire while trying to start a charcoal grill with white gas. Now I say this to establish that I am somewhat sympathetic to the plight that Farley was in.

Farley came into the garage with his neighbor, Paul. Paul is a nationally-known comedian who for some ungodly reason decided that he absolutely had to relocate to Lenoir, but that's another story... Paul immediately started laughing and explained that he had tried to be the voice of reason. I asked Farley what he had done and why, to which he answered, "I'm an artist not a bike mechanic." Duh. So I replied with, "I wonder what the labor rate should be for an after hours house call on Christmas Eve?"

Now partly out of empathetic pity for the situation Farley was in and mostly because this was a gift for his cute as hell, 4 year old daughter Gwyneth, I said, "Let's go to my house where I have the right tools." On the walk, I was regaled with the tale of how Farley had tried to wedge the wrong sized adapter (he had thrown away the right one) onto his seat post using lavender scented massage oil (Paul kept calling it "love oil" and explained that all of the original "spooge" had come off the post while they were working on it) and using the drill to try to ream out the plastic adapter.

Long story somewhat shorter, I got the trail-a-bike installed on Farley's bike. Farley thanked me profusely and about 20 minutes after leaving my house brought back a portrait of me that he had painted a while ago and gave it to me in appreciation for helping him out. This morning, they came by with Gwyneth riding on the trail-a-bike, a huge grin on her face. Her mom told her to thank me for helping her Dad not ruin Christmas, and she did.

As a postscript to this story, Paul point blank told Charlie that this kind of thing was the "moments that he lives for" and that he would probably be blogging about it, but was definitely going to include this incident in his next book! You can check it out at Paul Stoecklein.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Goodbye Heat Miser!

So long, for now

The day started out chilly and grey and just got colder and nastier from there. Different Charles and I went for a ride this morning out towards Collettsville. It was all good until we encountered this freezing fog that seemed to drop the temps a significant amount. At some point, my left hand turned into a block of wood and I began to feel a sense of urgency about getting back to warmth.

I hit the shop doors and felt immediately warmer, but then my hand started thawing out and then the pain hit. Wow, that unfreezing process will make you do a little rictal dance of displeasure like nobody's business...

We piled the fam into the car and took a little xmas shopping trip to Hickory this evening. The usual selfish, reckless driving behavior of Hickory was in a serious holiday upswing. Everyone surges forward without regard to anyone or anything except for their god-given right to be ahead of you, no matter what the cost. We got the supplies for our gift project and headed to Atlanta Bread Company for dinner. To me, Atlanta Bread Company is almost always a mildly disappointing experience. The food is lackluster and is nothing more than fast food with fresher ingredients. It also attracts an odd collection of middle class America, from the bulky father-son pair who communicated in little more than drawled monosyllabic grunts to the pair of Hickory Hipster decked out in corduroy, tweed and argyle suits, beards and big chunky black hornrims. They looked fresh out of the pages of Art in America and out of place by a few time zones.

The weather has really socked in. Cold, rain and high humidity make for unpleasant riding conditions. We'll see how things are in the morning. Maybe a bit of white stuff on the ground?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Say it ain't so!

You mean to tell me that cycling isn't the only sport on the planet that has a drug problem?! It looks like the Mitchell Report is going to make a lot of Americans do some soul searching about whether or not they think a doped athlete is okay. It's funny how in denial the MLB has been about its fairly obvious doping problem. Barry Bonds is not alone in amassing a huge amount of muscle bulk in a fairly quick amount of time. It will be nice to have another sport become the center of the doping spotlight for a while. But it won't be all bad for the MLB since they have not accepted membership in the illustrious club of sports that submits itself to the humiliation and degradation of WADA (and for that matter, the smug buttheads at USADA). It is refreshing to see that Team High Road is living up to its name and is joining Team Slipstream in acquiring the services of the Agency for Cycling Ethics. If cycling has to be embroiled in this mess in order to correct the indiscretions of the recent past, then it's good for other major sports to have to face the same scrutiny.

Congrats to Bob Pugh for finishing 22nd in the 40+ B men and Bobby Lindsay for finishing 61st in the 30+ B men at Cyclocross Nationals in Kansas City.

Group ride tomorrow at 10 am from the shop!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Inuit Summer

This blast of warm weather has been a burden almost to great to bear within the confines of the workplace and the work week. Day after day of glorious, unseasonable weather has made me ache to get on a bike and blow off everyday responsibilities. Fortunately for me, tomorrow is my last day with students and Christmas break will begin. Now if the weather will just hold out long enough for me to take advantage of it!

We've been busy around the shop getting things ready for the holiday shopping season. Everything is stocked up and we have A LOT of stuff on end of season sale for those of you who have been staving off the idea of upgrading your equipment. There really are some deals to be had if you just stop by and check it out.

The Saturday group rides should be a bit more populated now that 'cross season is over. This Saturday we will do the regular ride at 10am from the shop, unless the weather is poor (i.e. rainy) and then we will do a dirt road ride meeting at the Hard and Flossy park in Colettesville (the park on Adako Rd. just past the fire dept.). While a 'cross bike isn't a requirement for riding on dirt roads, don't say you weren't given a heads up on the fact that a dirt road ride is a ride that travels on dirt roads. As in: not paved, but instead, made of dirt.

Now is the beginning of base mile season which means slow, talking pace rides. Putting in hours, not miles. So let go of the concept of average speed and enjoy the comraderie of winter riding season. And if you haven't been doing group rides, now is the perfect time to start since the group will not be out to hammer or otherwise go fast. Remember that next year's riding season starts now. So whatever your goal might be, winter is the time to lay the foundation!

I have to say that I'm glad 'cross season is over. It was exhausting and I really had to let some things slip in other areas of my life to make it possible to race. That isn't my favorite thing to do, but I really enjoy 'cross racing. I won't miss the time away from home every weekend, but I will miss racing and hanging out with old friends and all of my new teammates. A break to recharge, train, get strong and then on to the '08 road season!


From: Jack Brown
To: Shawn Moore
Subject: Hey Shawn, you know how I know you're gay?

This picture

And the fact that you eeked out a top ten finish again, just in front of me. Dick.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The hard day

We hit the road for the final 'cross race of the NC series at 5 in the am. We had to head out early 'cause it's about a three and a half hour drive to Cary. Jeff and I were in one car, while Jack and his son Harrison followed. As has become our normal routine, we stopped off at Cracker Barrel for breakfast.

While I waited for my sourdough french toast with blackberries, Jack showed us a neat feature on his cellphone. When he checks his text messages, he pushes a button in the robot-woman voice reads the text messages aloud. I looked at him immediately and said, "You shouldn't have shown us that." Jeff and I took turns texting Jack some pretty rough messages and the beauty of it was that the robot-woman reads EVERY word. Join the fun; email me and I'll give you Jack's cell number! I'm sure he'll love the text messages!

The only way to describe Cary was: hard. 2 run ups, a super tight twisty course a couple of climbs and a bit of sand for flava. I got a good start in the CX4 race, but couldn't hold the pace. Still, I had the best finish of my season with an 18th place. I turned myself pretty inside-out in the process, but I still lined up for the Master's race. Several of us doubled-up trying to get as many points as we could for the team competition. Everybody gave it a good effort, but I don't think we were able to close the gap on Boone Velo in 2nd place.

Jeff had a solid race, but he got caught up in some lapped traffic in the crucial final turns and missed the podium for 4th place. He was also just shy of the points needed to go from 3rd to 2nd in the overall series results.

After all the racing, we had a few hours of pretty hard spectating. In fact, we spectated so hard, we had to wait around a bit before heading for home. We finally got home about 7:30 and I was pretty knackered. Today, I was pretty useless. In a way, I'm glad the season is done 'cause I'm exhausted. But some of the team doesn't feel the same way. Bob and Bobby leave Wednesday morning for 'cross nationals in Kansas City. It's been great racing with so many teammates this season and I wish those guys lots of luck in the last big race!

Friday, December 07, 2007


Thanks to Shelli for the pics from the Boone 'cross race!

I have been so busy this week. I'm just glad it's over. One more week of school and then a break! I'm still processing all that happened this week, but the true highlight occurred Thursday. Our school had the extreme pleasure of hosting a group of 24 educators from Egypt. It was a remarkable experience and one that will be with me for a long time.

Monday, December 03, 2007

quick race report

Boone is in the books! Jeff Welch won his first race of this year's NC Cyclocross series. Other race results:

Chris Behrman 10th
me 21st (dammit)
Big E ?
Other Charles ?

Master's 45+:
Bob Pugh 5th

Master's 55+:
Howard Hesterberg ?

I will post photos tomorrow night and also fill in the blanks in the results.

Want to ride trainers at the shop tomorrow night at 7pm? Call or email me to reserve a spot!