Sunday, December 14, 2014


Woohoo! For only the second time in over two months I felt strong on the bike today, or at least strong enough to really enjoy riding it. But, more importantly, for the first time in over two years I felt comfortable ripping singletrack.

I had a free afternoon today and made my way over to (guess where...) Blankets Creek.

Somebody had gotten a little festive with one of the little pine trees in the lot. Unless that's a hemlock. I didn't notice at the time and it's hard to tell in the picture.


Well, either way, it is getting close to Christmas and it made me smile.

I wasn't there to admire the decor though. I meant to ride until I felt good riding. Turns out that was from the get go. I was a little over-excited at first though. Had to roll it back a notch to keep from blowing up, but once I'd rolled it back a notch, I was ripping singletrack, comfortably, non-stop, for about two and a half hours. I hadn't felt that good on the mountain bike in years. Literally years.

But it wasn't all shred. I did take in a little scenery. The lake was low and strange looking and it fascinated me.


Some older guy was walking around in the draw near the beginning of Dwelling (going counter-clockwise) with a shovel. I later saw him walking out with a bucket full of what looked like 4-inch, round, flat stones. Maybe they were clams or something though. Are there clams in lake Allatoona?

I also ran into David Sagat! He was riding out when I was riding in and we were like "Mr. Muuuuse!!!!!" "Heeeeyyyy!!!!" but then we both kept going. Later I saw him near the front of the trail though and we got to talking for a while. He used to rock this triumphant stache, but now he rocks an even more triumphant long-hair/full-beard combination. It's good that I ran into him again too because I might not for a while. He's apparently living up in Asheville now, riding for somebody up there that I've forgotten now, dangit. He, and who might been his girlfriend, Sequoia, whom it was really nice to meet, were just in town for the weekend. It seemed odd to me that if they were just in town for the weekend that they'd be at Blankets of all places, but they get to ride Pisgah so much, they were missing that in-town shred. Yep. I know how that is.

Later, I realized that I think the last time I saw him was actually at Blankets, a few years ago, at the Race to Sunset. We pitted together, then during the race he lapped me and I followed him out of the woods on my last lap. Ha! Good times.

In other news, I think it might be time to do a little work on the bike. My rear brake has to be bled a lot and today it eventually became totally unusable. I've got a whole set of XT's in the garage. I guess it's finally time to upgrade.

I only got to ride for like two and a half hours, but it's the quality that counts, right? And it was some high quality riding, to be sure.

Yep, feeling pretty good. Feeling pretty good.

I hope the feeling lasts.

Monday, December 1, 2014


My parents and my brother Daniel were in town for Thanksgiving and we spent several days feasting and making merry. I dare not even imagine how many calories I consumed.

On Saturday, it had been a few days since I'd last coughed and though my busted finger was still weak, it wasn't hurting all the time any more. Things were looking up. My dad brought his bike with him from Dallas, though he might have been a little hesitant to ride. He'd crashed on either the day of or the day before my last crash and fractured his hand. It was about as well healed as my finger.

Something had to be done though. That turkey wasn't going to work itself off, and those stiff joints aren't going to get better sitting around either.

We arrived at Blankets Creek around 3PM. Almost immediately I ran into Dave Greenwell, followed almost immediately by Tim Winters. They both seemed to be doing well, but also seemed ready to get going so we didn't talk for long. I was jealous. They both looked fit. I remember being as fit as they looked. Maybe next month.

The padre and I got going as quickly as we could.


The trail was really nice. It was the first ride I'd done since the leaves fell and the scattered abundance was still novel. Nobody had yet been out there with the leaf blower and that little pine-needly, leaf crubmly layer still lay on the trail.

Down by the lake, someone had recently added a flag pole and the flag was bumping around a little. I guess it was added recently. I don't remember ever seeing it before, but for all I know it's been there a while and I just never noticed it. I noticed it on Saturday though.


The lake itself was low. Really low. Like you could probably walk out into the middle of it without getting your knees wet low. The old creekbeds were prominent and the creeks were low in them. I wondered what the fishing was like when it's low like that. The fish would have to be concentrated into 1/20th of the water. Is that good? The weather's been nice, maybe I'll go find out.

We spun a lap around Mosquito Flats and Mosquito Bite, then up Shultz's Chute and back down the abandoned return, then a lap around Dwelling. My finger was a non-issue. I worried that it would be weak but I didn't notice at all. My Dad's hand was another story though. His thumb was going numb.

We spun another lap around the front.

Dad Crossing Blankets Creek

It appeared that someone had been out there with the leaf blower in between our first and second laps.

By the time we'd finished the front section, most of his hand was numb. Probably still some swelling in there. We decided that it would be better not to push that and called it a day.

So, not a lot of miles, but no crashing, my finger was good enough if not well, and I didn't start coming down with cold symptoms that night. It's been a few days and I still feel fine. I don't want to jinx it, but I might finally getting better. It might be time to start feeling like a cyclist again. Maybe. I'll see if I can get some miles in on the road this week and see how that goes.

Friday, November 28, 2014

More Illness and Injury

It seems like this happened years ago too...

I remember going riding with some friends from Alabama that I hadn't seen in a few months and we both had the same story: we'd been sick for almost the entire fall with only a few good days here and there.

This fall is shaping up the same way.  I've been sick off-and-on since early October.  I think I only got 1 good week total in since then.  I can't shake this last round.  My kids are both sick now.  My niece was sick and coughing last night at Thanksgiving dinner and I was hyper-aware of it.  I'm starting to feel like Howard Hughes.  I imagine flocks of villainous germs swarming around me with bad intent.

And that's just half of it.  I smashed my finger at Blankets a few weeks ago and it's just barely well enough to think about pulling the brakes with.  Then I smashed my nose on my top tube last week changing my bottom bracket when a crank bolt gave.  It's no fun having a runny nose and a busted nose at the same time.  No fun!

I barely even feel like a cyclist any more.  I can't remember what that urge to ride feels like.  I remember that it exists, but I don't wake up with it any more.  When I think about riding, it doesn't strike me.  I went for a run a few days ago too, just to do something, and it felt like I hadn't run a mile in my life - beat me to pieces.  I'm still a little sore today.


Health and fitness, return to me!  Return!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Illness and Injury

Not my two favorite things.

Funny how they seem to accompany one another though.

October was pretty rough, by any objective measure. I was sick from the 5th through the 25th. I barely even left the house. It goes without saying that I forgot entirely about the existence of running and would have forgotten about the existence of bicycles if I hadn't had to go into the garage periodically.

On the 25th, feeling almost better, I ventured out into the harsh, cruel light.

Fall had apparently happened while I wasn't looking.

Most of the cherry trees in the neighborhood looked like this:

Cherry Tree

As they should. But three trees just up the street were totally confused.

Confused Cherry Trees

Yep. Blooming in the fall.

There is a species of cherry that blooms twice a year, but it's flowers look a little different and I'd swear that these aren't they. If they are, then they're the only ones in the entire neighborhood.

I was surprised to see them.

The next day I felt well-ish and figured I'd go ride at Blankets.

The suffering was indescribable. I think I almost passed out a few times.

I did see a herd of turkeys though.

Turkeys at Blankets

Unusual at that trail.

While struggling on the South Loop I noticed lake Alatoona looking especially beautiful and took a little detour.


Especially beautiful.

That's what I remember most about that particular ride. The rest of it was sufficiently unpleasant to have escaped my memory entirely. Well, except for the turkeys.

Over the next week, I literally rode on the road every day, trying hard to reclaim my lost fitness. And it worked. A week later I felt reasonably good and went for another spin at Blankets.

It was like night and day. I could actually climb again. Woohoo!

I had another balloon sighting too.

Balloon at Blankets

But I still don't get enough off-road miles these days. My roadie brain doesn't seem to be able to process dirt quickly enough. Near the top of the Dwelling Loop I caught the edge of the trail, crashed and smashed my knee. Man it hurt. I even remember saying out loud: "Man, why does it hurt so bad!?"

It just hurt though. It wasn't injured. At least not terribly.

Later I discovered that I'd managed to slice a little piece off of my left index finger, through the gloves. That happens sometimes and it always fascinates me. How can you get a clean slice, through gloves? How!?!? And yet, it happens.

Things were going well for the next hour, but somewhere on the South Loop I came around a curve into some roots that looked completely unrideable. I knew that they weren't. I'd just ridden over them the previous week, and literally hundreds of times in the past 10 years. But I was wrong. They were, at that moment, to me, unrideable.



Come on!

That one really hurt. I managed to slap my right hand down really hard on one of the roots and it felt like it stoved my entire body.

It took a minute to shake that one off.

I figured I'd better quit while I wasn't too far behind and just went home.

The next day my knee was swollen and a finger on my right hand was swollen and purple. It was difficult to type.

But two days later the swelling was gone and I felt like getting some miles in on the road bike. I added some new roads and a bunch of climbing into one of my routes. Then yesterday I rode the same route again and felt really great riding it. I felt like I was back. I had lungs again. I could push again. Woohoo again!

But then last night. LAST NIGHT. My throat started to hurt, then my head. This morning I'm coughing and stuffy and my eyes hurt.

Sophie and Iz had come down with something last week. I figured they'd just finally caught what I'd had all October. Nope. It's something new, and now I've got it too. Let's hope it's short lived.

Illness and injury. Ever-present it seems. Not my two favorite things.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Blanket's Creek

My parents have been in town all week for my Dad's birthday. Woohoo! Happy Birthday Dad!!!

This was one of his presents, apparently.

Broken Ocoee 1 Broken Ocoee 2

Yes, that's a crack almost all the way around his seat tube. A crack in Titanium no less.

Funny story there...

My Dad got every last mile out of an early-2000's Gary Fisher Sugar, at which point my brother gave him his old Litespeed Ocoee. My brother had broken 3 Suwanees before eventually asking them to just send him an Ocoee, which he rode for a while, gave to my Dad, and which my Dad has now broken. Not a great run for that line of bikes.

And yet, my Toccoa is still unbroken after 15 years.

To ride together, my brother rode his singlespeed and my Dad borrowed his Rocky Mountain. And we rode all over Blankets Creek for like 3 hours.

Dad and John at Blankets 1 Dad and John at Blankets 2

If you live in Dallas TX, Blankets has a lot of climbing, especially the Van Michaels Trail. But the padre didn't have too much trouble. Neither of us made it up Hurl Hill though. My technical climbing skills are not yet quite all back yet, it would seem.

Either way, it was great getting to ride with my Dad again. It's been too long. A year or more I think. Too long!

They're still in town too, so it's not impossible that we might get another chance.


I guess we'll see.

West Cobb

Man, time flies. I took some photos on a ride over a week ago and still haven't uploaded them. I guess time flying is a good thing. Means interesting stuff's happening.

Well, a week and a day ago I'd been feeling like I'd been lazy so I got out on the road for a few hours. I've got all these loops that I do out in West Cobb County and it seemed like a good idea to string them all together. I didn't really think it through though. Each of those loops can take a few hours. It would be a pretty long day...

First I climbed Mableton Parkway, the longest climb that I know of in the West Cobb area. My favorite landmark on Mableton Parkway is the A-Head A-Time Hair Salon.

A Head A Time

It's between two little kicks and I know I'm getting close to the top when I pass it.

Then I rode down Gordon and back up whatever road parallels Gordon. Gordon is great because you can get completely spun out for a mile or more. Woohoo!

Then I rolled through Mableton.

And there's not really much there. They have a "Historical District" sign but everything in the historical district has been redeveloped into a neighborhood except for an old depot along the tracks, and there was a train blocking that. There's this mural though.


But that's about it.

Then I took Clay Road out to Powder Springs and grabbed some breakfast at the BP.


Mmmm, chocolate donuts.

Actually I wasn't quite to Powder Springs proper yet.

But I was a few minutes later.

Powder Springs

And then there was the long stretch north to Acworth.

I'd been kind-of suffering all morning so far. More than could be accounted for by lack of consumption of calories. Only lack of sleep, working long hours, and lack of riding could account for such suffering. I hate that particular kind. The last time I felt it was on the first day of the CFiTT and it was no good. I hoped I'd wake up and shake it but it wasn't looking good at that point.

Somewhere along the side of the road on the way to Acworth I passed two interesting bits of road kill.

The first was a badger. No kidding, a badger. I got a good look at it. If I hadn't been suffering so much I might have stopped to take a picture, but it was on a short climb and I felt like if I stopped I'd never get started again.

The second was just a deer, but all 4 feet were sticking out into the shoulder and I didn't see it until I was right up on it. I swerved to dodge it awkwardly and got all squirrely for a minute. I joked to myself that it would actually be kind of funny if I'd crashed. I could tell people that a deer had tripped me.

As I approached Acworth, some guy laid on his horn as he passed me. It had been a while since I'd been harassed on the road so I guess I was due. I was riding like a foot to the right of the white line though so it seemed a little uncalled-for. I looked back, expecting to see an old haggard-looking guy in a beat up S-10 with no air conditioning, smoking a cigarette or something, but it turned out to be a really normal looking family in a minivan.

And then there was Acworth.


My buddy Billy is getting married in Acworth in November and as fate would have it, he called me to see if I wanted to ride the next day right as I passed the place they were going to have their wedding! What are the odds?

The climb to Kennesaw was horrible. The very air was strangling me. It was bad. I was pushing through it but that's all I was doing. I didn't enjoy a minute of it.

I pulled up next to an older lady and a younger man, maybe her son, at a light. They were in a red Miata with a personalized plate "WAYTOGO". I liked the plate. The guy looked at me: "I like your bike." And I was all: "Thanks man." But then he laughed facetiously. Or did he? It sounded facetious. Or maybe not. But why else would he laugh? I was puzzled. They sped away right as this occurred to me. I've seen movies like that where the guy gets confused and the antagonist disappears right as he opens his mouth, and he's just left standing there puzzled. It was like that.

When I got to Kennesaw there was some beerfest going on across the tracks to the left.


People were arriving and looking happy, relaxed, excited... I smiled at the disparity. I could not have described myself using any of those adjectives. My adjectives would have include sleepy, weary, dragging and lightheaded.

There's a little bit of downhill on the way out of Kennesaw but I still had to climb that mountain looming in the distance there.

Kennesaw Mountain


There's a new paved trail on the side of Barrett Parkway and a family rode by in front of me at the stop light. Mom, dad, 2 kids. They looked fresh and happy to be out getting a little exercise. I was jealous and it made me laugh to myself.

The mountain was horrible.

I was relieved to roll into Marietta.


There wasn't anything going on in the square there, but lots of people were about. My legs were starting to twinge and I wasn't looking forward to any more stoplights.

Fortunately Atlanta Road is mostly downhill in that direction, and there are long stretches without stoplights, but the ones that there are all seem to have hills after them. I forgot to snap a picture as I rode through Smyrna. The hills on King Springs and Cooper Lake didn't seem all that bad for some reason.

When I got home it was like 5 hours later. Five hours! No idea how far it was, but five hours seemed like a long time.

Fortunately though, the next day I rode with Billy and had a great day. Like really great. That just seems to happen sometimes. Got to burn off the poison that first day, I guess. The second day is always better. Maybe if I ride more then it'll always be the second day. To ride more I'd have to work less though, and that's not going to happen any time soon. Duty calls! Speaking of which, I probably ought to get back to it.

Back to it!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Silk Sheets

My brother and I tried to coordinate a Silk Sheets ride for 3 or 4 days. I kept getting the times and dates of potentially conflicting events wrong though, and it wasn't until last night that we finally settled on this morning, bright and early.

Except that it wasn't that bright. Just early.

Foggier than it looks

I felt great for about the first 10 miles, except that it was so foggy that my glasses were useless. It doesn't look all that foggy in the photo. My iPhone must have some kind of built-in FLIR that I don't know about because it was seriously wet and damp and foggy.

Along the first few miles of the route we saw some scaffolding set up and a few pop up tents, and small security crews in orange vests. They film the Walking Dead out that way a lot, so that was my bro's first idea, but then he remembered that he thought that they were having the Futureworld Rave out there like a week from now or something. I'd never heard of it but he said it was like the Woodstock of raves. Sounds cool. I'll have to take his word for it though, as I am not plugged into any such scene.

We took a fairly circuitous route in a generally southwest direction. The roads were familiar, but I'm usually on them heading back instead of out.

Around Rico we went through an intersection with 4 things that you don't see that often, all at the same time. There was a firetruck on the left, a girl jogging through the intersection (loaded up and looking like she'd be out there for a while), a pair of dogs running down the middle of the road, and something else that I can't remember now. Dangit I wish I could remember that 4th thing, it's important!

Somewhere around mile 10 or 15 the fun turned into work. I hoped it was just a tough spot but I feared it was lack of good recovery after yesterdays excursion to Blankets, compounded by weeks of bad sleep.

I have this ridiculous schedule these days: work all day, then around 9 or 10 run a process that takes 3 hours, set an alarm and get up to check it, then run another process that takes about 15 minutes. If all that worked then rerun the same 3 hour process in Brazil and set another alarm to get up for that one. If it worked, run the 15 minute processes again there. Then get up at 6:30 with the kids for school. Grab a few hours of rest somewhere during the day, if possible, usually between 9AM and noon. I'll be glad when I'm done with this project, or at least this phase of it.

So, anyway, we headed southwest forever, out past Serenbe, out past the Old Tin Gin...

Old Tin Gin

Around mile 35 or so we'd climbed one hill too many and the work turned into suffering. I couldn't keep up.

No good.

A mile or two later I was sitting on.

We passed a lot of other cyclists, several runners, a guy on a bike that I'm not sure I'd call a "cyclist" per-se, some guy running down the dead-middle of the road, way out in the middle of nowhere, in the fog, and countless other odd things. A flatbed carrying a combine passed us going the other direction once too. It had to come way over into our lane to keep from crushing into the trees along the road too badly.

We stopped at the Roscoe store for a little bit. I wasn't feeling good there so I rested up a little, drank a bunch of Gatorade and ate an ice cream sandwich.


This little dog with an injured leg came limping across the street to see if we had anything for him too.

We have a dog

Cute little dog, but all I had were Clif Blocks and an Ice Cream sandwich and my experience has been that unless you have something with meat in it, dogs are happy to let you throw it on the ground, but then they just sniff it and walk away. No way I was doing that with my ice cream sandwich.

No way.

Right as we got up to leave I realized I had a flat. It turned out that the rubber had just cracked around the valve stem though, no little piece of glass or wire or anything else in the tire. Woohoo! Fortunately I had a picnic table right there to sit on and fix it. Mmmm, hmmm. If you have to fix a flat, then being at a store, with a picnic table, right after refueling and re-hydrating is the way to go. May I be as lucky next time.

I managed to sit on for most of the rest of the ride, until we hit the two kicks on Creel Road. Ugh. It was bad.

And that was it. No additional excitement. The miles were good, and I guess it's good to suffer some, but I usually like suffering when I'm in the mood to suffer and this morning I was decidedly not.

The lack of sleep is the big killer in this equation. Got to get this project finished. Better get back to it now, actually...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blankets Creek (again)

It's not hard to imagine that I was back at Blankets Creek today.

Blankets Creek and Bridge

This time I was there all alone, trying to figure out what went so wrong the last few times.

In a word: tire pressure. Actually that's two words. All the issues I was having with cornering were purely a function of tire pressure. It would appear that my pump is less accurate in the mountain bike range than in the road tire range. Might be time for a new pump.

After letting a little air out everything felt right and I had about 90% fewer problems than last week.

Not to say that I didn't have any problems. I'm still not as smooth as I need to be. I'm still under-geared all the time. And then there is this:

Bottle on the Ground

Dropping bottles.

I dropped my bottle at least 3 times today. The cage is lower than on the road bike and I end up sticking the bottle like 1/3rd of the way into it. That happened twice. The third time I just rode into some crap all of a sudden and had to drop it. Ridiculous. How did it come to this....

On the bright side, I "discovered" a new trail. There's this little downhill run near the freeride trail. It's even marked at the bottom, but it's not signed at the top, kind-of hard to see, and from the lack of wear, it doesn't look like too many people know about it.

I saw a doe and a fawn together on Mosquito Bite. Could have been the same pair Billy and I saw 2 weeks ago. I almost T-Boned another doe heading back toward the lot too. That's an exaggeration actually. I had plenty of time to stop, but I had to stop to keep from hitting it. It was just standing there sideways across the trail, uninterested until I got about 3 feet away.

Also, I know that hikers and runners are supposed to yield to mountain bikers at Blankets, but it seems wrong every time.

So today wasn't quite shred yet, but I did rip a little. I also rode all over the little skills area and it appears that I still have decent balance. The skinnies didn't seem all that skinny. I cleared the small table top on the freeride run too, and 2 of the three on that rock and shock section. Jumps don't feel natural yet. They are admittedly low on my list of things to work on though.

Plenty of progress but plenty more to go.

Good money says I'll be there again next weekend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekly Beatdown

Can I call it that when this is only the second one that I've done, and not in a row, and it's near the end of the season?

I jumped in with the Smyrna Bicycles guys again this past Monday afternoon. I was still feeling beat up from riding Blankets the day before, but I figured I'd be OK. I was. The ride was OK too.

I got dropped on the first big hill, but pulled on to another group of stragglers and wasn't the last guy to roll up to the regroup. I guess that's a good way to describe the whole ride. I could never hang on to the lead group, but I was always either the first of the rest of the guys, or in the first group. I guess that's something.

I realized that aside from one time 2 weeks ago, it's been like 2 years since I did a group ride. It seems like I used to suffer every year when the season would start back up too. Maybe that's what's happening. Yeah, I'll go with that.

The ride was a lot of fun. The route is crazy. Ten-million turns. The guys are cool and friendly.

It is getting darkish toward the end though, so the rides are numbered. Maybe only 3 or 4 left I imagine. Got to get em before they're gone.

Blankets Creek (de novo)

Well, wonders continue not to cease, and as long as they keep doing that, I will continue to enjoy said wonders.

This past Saturday I found myself at Blankets Creek again with my brother. We planned to get in some decent miles - two big loops of the entire system. I was as excited as I'd have been for a Fool's Gold preride two years ago.

I was looking pretty ratty though, and continued my recent pattern of violating The Rules. Peachtree legs...

Peachtree Leg

...Reality Chest.

Reality Chest

Yeah, that's looking good together. I broke a more obscure rule by cutting my toenails there in the lot too. That's right, I went there.

The frere could have judged me had he not been engaged in some street hooking shenanigans himself.

Street Hooker

His headset was loose and he rebuilt the entire assembly there in the lot. Fixed it though. Even got his bars straight.

We were about ready to go and John was all "Oh, hey, there's Marc."


He'd mentioned trying to coordinate some additional company for this ride but didn't mention that he'd succeeded, so it was a great surprise to see more friends drive up out of the blue.

Marc and Luke

I say "friends" but at the time I had not met Luke. This is Luke:

Johnny Cash, Except for the Gloves

Johnny Cash except for the gloves, which must have been made in the 80's by Vision Street Wear.

We rolled out soon after they arrived and the suffering began. My roadie legs couldn't comprehend the trail. "What is this dirt business?" My roadie brain suffered even more. I wasn't confident cornering. I had no flow. I was claustrophobic in the trees. It was terrible. I got stalled out, John and Luke passed me...

It's going to be a long road back.

We spun a lap around the Van Michaels trail. Marc was off the back for most of the loop, but by the end, he was just gone. We waited for like 5 minutes and he still didn't show up. He'd apparently been VERY sick the week before, but had felt recovered enough to ride. We started to wonder if he'd taken the inner loop and gone back to the car. Right as we committed to go look for him there we ran into some folks who'd seen him, and then ran into him a few seconds later, bike on his shoulder, derailleur wrapped up in his back wheel.


A mechanical hadn't occurred to any of us.

He'd had to walk out half the trail, carrying his bike. I undid his power link for him and wrapped the derailleur up so he could at least push the bike. What a drag though.

Me and Luke and John kept. We rode Dwelling. I did a better job of keeping up there. Better. Still not good though.

The South Loop was a wretched experience. I lost a water bottle, John happened to be behind me and picked it up, then I lost it again a mile later. Some guy passed me and dropped me so quickly it was upsetting. John and Luke had to wait. I thought I popped a spoke but it must just have been a rock glancing off or something. I was so certain that I double-checked later, but no, it was fine.

The second lap around Van Michaels wasn't so bad. I'd actually spun out in one of the turns on the first lap, I mean complete 180, foot dragging on the ground, rolling backwards at the end, hoping I could keep from falling over. I didn't have that problem on the second lap, but I did manage to stall out on the first little rock of that switchback, right after a guy passed me, and with a hiker watching from above. Nothing like having an audience. Woohoo!

The second lap around Dwelling was actually fine until I got indecisive over some roots at the very end, got squirrely, had to power out of it, and never caught back up.

There were dozens of little box turtles on the sides of the trail that lap. Not sure where they all were earlier. Maybe they all come out at that time of day. That's the only wildlife we saw all day, though I did see a dead coyote on the side of 285 on the drive up. I'm not sure that counts as wildLIFE though.

We picked up 3 different water bottles on the South Loop, thinking each of them was mine, only to find that each wasn't. Two were the same exact kind as mine, but not actually mine. Mine is still out there, somewhere. I hope someone finds it and enjoys it.

Luke flatted near the end of the South Loop and we spent enough time fixing it that I recovered enough to be able to hang on until we got out. It's funny. I'm not weak per-se, when we get out in the open I have no trouble, my skills have just degraded into nothing and I end up working too hard all the time. I remember this from a year ago. It didn't take long to recover then though. Maybe it won't this time either.

Back at the lot we were all tired, except for Marc who'd nearly died of boredom waiting around for us.

My legs were filthy and it felt so good.

Righteous Dirt

Screw hosing them off, that's how they should look.

We drove into downtown Woodstock...

Woodstock Mural

...hoping to score some tacos at Pura but there was a wait and Canyons across the way looked like a better choice. Plus, there was a downhill/freeride video playing on one of the TVs and we were drawn to it like so many moths.

The burgers there are good. You should go have one.

Oh yeah, Blankets Creek!

I suspect that I'll be spending time down there on the weekends for a while. So I imagine quite a few posts in a row will be titled very similarly.

I hope to report improvements in my bike handling skills and general, overall mountain biking abilities soon.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blanket's Creek

Well, miracles do happen, it would seem. This past weekend a little one came my way and I found myself riding at Blankets Creek. The last time I rode there was the 6 hour Race to Sunset in like 2011 or 2012.

Things have changed.

There's some snazzy new signage.

Blankets Creek Signage

And the parking lot is like 4 times bigger.

Blankets Creek Lot

Awesome. I barely recognized the place. That happens out there though, every few years it seems. I first rode Blankets in 2000 and things have been changing ever since.

One funny thing too... Along with the new parking lot comes a new bathhouse with 4 bathrooms. BOTH bathrooms on the front side are for women and BOTH bathrooms on the back side are for men. So, if you glance at one sign, read "Women" and then just figure that the other one must be for men, you'd be wrong! Also, there's a little sign that says "Men" with an arrow pointing around back on the right hand side. So, if you glance at the one sign and read "Women" and then glance in the direction of the other bathroom and read "Men" out of the corner of your eye and figure that the other one is for men, you'd be wrong!!! I didn't make this mistake, but apparently it's easy to do.

My poor neglected mountain bike was covered in spider webs.

The Sled

Everything worked though, surprisingly. I didn't even have to bleed a brake. As much of a junk show as that bike has become, it keeps rolling.

Billy met me after a few minutes and we tore off into the woods...

About halfway around the Mosquito Flats I slid out in a turn and crashed. I might need some new tires but I mainly blamed it on roadie brain and roadie skills. Got to keep the weight off of the front wheel on dirt. Or at least more-off of it. Most everything else just came back naturally though, and I didn't crash again.

To ...

We rode the Dwelling Loop and then hit the South Loop.

Billy Climbing on the South Loop

One thing I noticed on both loops that I hadn't seen in years past - lots of little trails down to the lake, and lots of little trails into the neighborhoods. I guess the people that live in the neighborhoods use the trails to access the lake. Hmm... I wonder what the fishing is like in Lake Allatoona.

The other thing I noticed was deer. An abundance of deer. I passed within a foot of a small doe, switched back, stopped and took this photo of Billy riding past the same deer. Deer on the left, Billy on the right.

Deer to the Left

Then he switched back and stopped and we watched it for a while, figuring it would eventually run away.


We left only after getting bored of watching it. Later we saw another lone doe, a lone buck, and a mother and fawn. Deer everywhere! Unafraid!

The woods out there has changed a lot over the past few years too. The pines that grew up in the old fire road corridors are bigger around. There used to be dense brush from the edge of the old roads waaay into the woods, but now it's only dense right up by the roads. The woods is much more open and you can see a long way.

It was especially pretty on the South Loop.

Me Climbing Through the Greenery

Right in the sketchiest part of the South Loop, there was this pretty big ribbon snake just hanging out on the trail. I like snakes but Billy really DOESN'T like snakes. When it saw me coming, it moved just like 2 feet downhill. The backslope is super steep there, so it had a hard time keeping still and kept sliding really slowly downhill. When Billy pulled up I was all "Cool, check that out..." and he just thought I was pointing down at the slope and the lake before he saw the snake, so he was all "Yeah, check that out... ohhh, F-that, nooo-ooo!"

Ha, ha.


We rolled through Quell Holler, catching only pitiful, pitiful air. My 14-year old self would have been ashamed of me, had it still existed.

For as long as it's been since I've been to Blankets, it's been even longer for Billy. He didn't even know that Van Michaels existed. Ha!

The climbing was crushing.

Billy Climbing on Van Michaels Van Michaels Switchback

But we had a great time descending. I even got a small amount of water splashed up on me at one point. Man, it's really been a while since THAT has happened.

I wish I could say it was some kind of epic ride, but really it just felt like getting my bearings. I fought the bike a little at first. I had to think a lot. I really need to go back and just turn laps until it feels effortless. I'd done that at Sope Creek way back - just rode until something clicked and it felt like old times. Maybe I can do it again.

Blankets Creek... I will see you again soon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weekly Beatdown

Good lord... Real life and illness.

I just realized it's been over a month since I wrote anything, and it's not because I've been lazy, there just hasn't been anything going on all that journal-worthy. I've been running low on outdoor adventure (even with the little a) recently.

Now that the family's back I've been riding with Kathryn a lot. I guess I _should_ take some pictures of that. She climbs the hills in the neighborhood on her Townie... hills that I struggle with sometimes on the road bike. Impressive! She's gotten fast enough to be a lot of fun to ride with too and I've really been enjoying that.

I've been running too. Trying to get up to 10 miles. Beats the hell out of me and every runner in Georgia passes me. Literally every one. Amazing how little crossover there is between cycling and running. Just lungs I guess.

Aside from that though, the kids are in school now and bringing home every infectious disease that their classmates accumulated over the summer. We've all been sick, non-stop, for a month.

Fortunately, I got kind-of over it last week though and felt well enough to jump in on the Smyrna Bicycles group ride this past Monday. Until recently I'd been otherwise occupied every Monday but no longer! Group ride time! Woohoo!

The ride climbs like every hill in the general Smyrna-Mableton area. Every single hill. I have no punch at all any more either. Endurance? Maybe. Punch? No! So it's a beatdown. Beatdown! Haven't had one of those in like 2 years and man I've been missing it. Fortunately it's also a no-drop ride, so my slow, sorry pace doesn't play too poorly. I don't think I was ever the last rider to any of the regroup points, but I was a contender a few times.

It might be time for a new group too. I stood up a few times, dropped my chain once and barely kept it from dropping a second time. The neglect has gone pretty far when the big ring on the road bike is worn out. Of course my chain is worn too, and the rear cassette, and it's all 9-speed, because "I like to get every last mile out of my components." Or at least that's what I say when I'm too lazy or broke to work on the bike.

My kit is looking pretty shabby these days too. The Reality bib is long dead. I've been riding my brother's old Peachtree Bikes/Toyota Forklift bib and either one of my old Reality jerseys or some even older sleeveless jersey. No matter how I dress, I'm breaking at least two of The Rules. Mixing club kits, wearing a kit from a team I never rode for, sleeveless on the road...


That's my MO though. I'll be out there stinking it up next Monday too. My goal - keep from getting dropped until the 3rd hill. Lets see how that goes. Honestly, right now I'm just happy to have the opportunity to stink something up at all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Well, it had to happen eventually.

Years back, during the Great Silver Comet Adventure, Sophie crashed and skinned her knee, then Iz crashed and skinned her knee and elbow not 2 hours later. Since then, it's been my "turn". The girls joked about it often. "It's your turn dad." Well, it's been years and years, but finally, my turn came up.


First crash ever on the road bike!

Not bad though, just went down in a wet, muddy corner. I'll have to keep a better eye out for those.


Ascension Parish

A few days after the Quad County 75-or-so I drove down to Gonzales to recover my family.

I was still sick and the drive down was horrible. I usually love watching the world pass by, checking out all the little changes as you cross the country, but this time I was dead tired and my back hurt and I just couldn't pay attention to anything. I did enjoy the weather on the Bonnet Carre Spillway, but that was all.

Bonnet Carre Spillway

The week was dominated by birthday parties.

Sophie's was on Wednesday.

Happy Birthday Sophie

Don's was on Thursday.

Isabel's was on Sunday but we celebrated it on Friday.

Happy Birthday Iz

Kathryn's sister is a fantastic cake decorator. She was busy making a cake for a baby shower but still took some time to decorate Isabel's. Thanks Jennifer!

Cakes and birthdays! Woohoo!

I did get a chance to do a little riding. By Thursday (I think it was Thursday) I felt less terrible.

Sophie and I rode about 5 or 6 miles in laps around their neighborhood.

Putting in Miles

There are 3 streets in their neighborhood: Prairie South, Prairie East and Prairie North. The street signs disagree as to how to spell Prairie though.

How Do You Spell Prairie

On some corners, two different signs spell it differently. Ha!

When Sophie was tired I took off on my own, up toward Port Vincent. I took it really easy though. I felt OK but I still didn't feel "good".

I got close to the Amite River but didn't cross it. Maybe next time.

Amite River

All along the river up there the houses are built on stilts in case of flooding. It was tough to get a photo though. The shoulders are narrow and traffic was heavy.

I did stop at a gas station once though, and noticed that it was shaded by a Great Southern Live Oak.

Great Southern Live Oak

Don't see many of those in North Georgia. Sadly, it lacked Spanish Moss.

Ha! Just down the road was a drive-thru daquiri shop. People don't believe me when I tell them about these. They exist. For example:

Drive-Thru Daquiris

Traffic was so heavy though that it was difficult to get across the street and back. It took like 5 minutes to get that photo.

Easing back on into town some guys pulled up next to me at a stoplight and chatted with me for a minute. They were super friendly, wanted to know how far I'd ridden, wished me luck, etc. Really nice guys, but it was funny, the driver had an open beer in his lap the whole time. Ha! That's South Louisiana for you.

The next day we packed up a trailer in the pouring rain. The day after we drove back here. My folks were here when we got here and we spent the next day unpacking. There are still boxes everywhere though. Woohoo moving! But also, woohoo family!