Friday, March 22, 2013

After ten years and four months working at a factory job in four different departments, I felt I needed a change. I didn't really know what to do about it or what I wanted to do. I prayed about it, but was very unsure of my future. All I knew was that I was finding it hard to get out of bed every morning and dreading my current condition. Some people would have been very happy to be doing what I was doing for employment, but I felt I needed a serious change and it was affecting my health.  After much deep thought I decided if I didn't try to change my current condition, take action,  and do something with my life that I would be the only one to blame. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do something about it. I have many interest, but I couldn't muster the passion or energy to really enjoy those activities. One activity that I found myself always drawn to was the freedom of riding my bicycle and I also enjoyed fixing them. I never had the deep experience and knowledge to be a master bicycle mechanic, but I have always been driven to work with them. I had a few good tools and I was good at fixing most minor things, but I certainly had limitations. 

Wondering what to do, I was inspired to do something drastic and leave my job, my security, and enter the unknown. I have had many close friends pass away that were close to my age and I felt I needed to take action. I was inspired to do one of two things, go to school, or cross the United States on a bicycle. So to get the best out of both experiences, I decided to enroll in one of the best bicycle schools in the United States, if not the world, United Bicycle Institute. As the thoughts kept coming, I also decided that I could also do a mini bicycle tour after my bike school experience. So I planned a trip from Ashland, Oregon to Santa Rosa California. 

The entire plan required a great deal of effort and planning, acquiring my limited retirement, re-gearing my new Moots Vamoots road bike for touring, and training. The very act of making a decision and acting on it brought me back to life. Every day was living the dream. Though scared of going it alone, and the gamble of a new career, and being semi retired, or unemployed for a brief time was a big move to say the least. 

As of this writing, I will be flying to Ashland on Thursday the 28th of March and begin school on the 1st of April. I will be in school for three weeks living and breathing bicycle maintenance and bike shop operation. After my time in school, I will be heading out on a lone adventure over to the coast of Oregon and taking the Pacific Coastal Highway along the California coast on my faithful bicycle, Jugee. I will be riding through the Giant Redwood forest, and get to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time. 

If nothing else, I will be living fully and I will get it out of my blood. If I didn't take this personal challenge, I don't believe I would be happy within my spirit.

This challenge has awakened my spirit and my love of photography and music to name a few things. I am able to sleep and feel like I am living. 

I will also be riding with the memories of my friends I have lost to cancer, and other life challenges. I will be traveling with the spirit of life and gratitude. By taking the challenge of living fully, I will in a better place to be of help to others.

Enthusiasm is a powerful virtue. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Well it is that time of year again. Here is Nemo before riding in the Joe Martin Stage Race last May. I must say that I certainly bit off a little more than I could chew, but I did finish the first two stages, the time trial, and the road race and moved up 5 places because 5 guys didn't finish the road race. Just to finish was an accomplishment. I was dead last but had to ride alone in a bad head wind with about 2000 feet of climbing in all that day. It is the same course and it seems every year is different weather wise. It isn't so much the pain of the hills, though they are very hard, but the wind on the top is always difficult.
I plan to ride the course on Thursday with a much stronger rider. I had to ride it to determine my status. Having the confidence to do it again is lacking even if I think I may actually be in better physical condition and my new bike is about 4 pounds lighter. Tough decision, but I'm sure I will make the right one.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Well, Swedie did her first race. Coming off a severe respiratory infection, I tried to re-con the course on Wednesday after doing a 6 hour stint at the factory. The ride started in a very strong head wind with 30 mph gust and 51 degrees. My throat, lungs, and bronchial tubes were screaming with pain as I tried in vain to catch the rest of the group after blowing up on the first long incline accentuated by a little steep section on chip and seal. The group either stopped or I caught them after six miles. I rode aways and caught them again after stopping to blow my nose and get some water. I was in such great pain, I had to tell them that I was turning back. I rode back with a fierce wind at my back which was a nice reprieve. I later chased down the group in the opposite direction in my car on my way home. I had to go home. My friends thought that I might be catching pneumonia as I was totally wasted at dinner time. I stayed in bed for the next few days until volunteering for the race setup on Saturday. Race day arrived on Sunday. My lower back was somehow tweaked from moving tables and then standing in one spot filing race numbers. It seemed my body was out to get me. It had rained heavily the day and night before and the temperature was 33 degrees at the start of the Cat 5 30+ race. I was determined to ride. We all noted the flakes of snow and ice pelting us as we left. Knowing not to over do it on the first section, I didn't try to kill myself to be with the peleton heading up the long grade. I watched as the entire group seemed to stall at the little incline at the end. I tried to get into my own rhythm. After completing the first 6 miles I rode at my limit trying the catch the rider ahead. At one point I was blocked by a farm truck that was either trying to not hit a rider or a rider was blocking him. He kept slowing down almost to a stop as I waved at him to go. Finally he started moving and took a right turn into a drive way. I was close to catching the rider ahead until the truck blocked me. I tried in vein to catch the rider ahead and he was always just ahead of me, but just out of reach. The strong head wind lasted for half the distance of the race and I hardly noticed the freezing temps as my body heated up from my efforts. I rode in the drops most of the way trying to cross the gap. Either I didn't notice passing a rider or what happened, but after climbing the steepest hill in the race and going at my limit to the finish, it turned out that I wasn't last after all. I finished 43 out of 46 people. Two riders didn't finish, and I must have passed one rider not noticing. It was a day to suffer with the cold, the wind, rolling hills, and one nice steep hill at the end. But, with all my uncertainty, I completed my first year's goal. My bike worked flawlessly. It was rather glorious really. My biggest challenge is to get in the pack and hang on. My last two races, I have had to go alone. The race before the spring classic, 5 guys didn't finish, and this race, 2 guys didn't finish. Progress is the name of the game and enjoying the experience. Thank goodness for my bicycle. :-D

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mountain biking Returns

Another year has come and it is almost January. Christmas is only 11 days away. The year has been filled with hard work, evolving relationships, minor physical challenges, along with the change of the seasons. I have always felt if I am going to sacrifice and save to buy something material, like a bike or gadget, I should try to get something that I will be pleased with in the end and not just settle for average. Things don't always have to be the most expensive or the very best, but they do need to be of high quality and something I believe will be worth my efforts in the long run. Sometimes things of enduring quality and craftsmanship cost a lot more because of material, engineering constraints, and manufacturing requirements. But the end result comes down to answering the question, "Does the product do what it was meant to do, and does it do it well." I am wanting a full suspension bike, but it needs to be light, have a good bottom bracket clearance, strong, and ride with precision. I think that the Santa Cruz Carbon blur XC fits the bill. I am wanting to use shimano XT components with Avid brakes, DT Swiss 26 inch mountain bike wheels and affordable functional Rock Shox front shocks. Carbon all around on seat post and handlebars.

This project will take a long time because it is very expensive. Hard work, sacrifice, persistence toward my goal, and I believe I will back in the mountains, becoming at one with the great single track here in the Ozarks.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Completed Goal

With a lot of hard work, patience, persistence, tax return money, work bonus, and every spare dime I could scrape up, I was able to finally piece together my new 2010 Scott CR1 Pro bicycle. Trying to match my last bike fit as closely as possible, I went with a Thompson 80mm stem +10 degrees, FSA carbon fiber handlebars, seat post, and Sram Force groupo with a 1090 SRam 11-28 cassette, and compact drive. I also used an old Terry Titanium Fly Saddle, my Easton ea 90slx wheels and Vittoria Open Pave clinchers. Tom from GVHbikes allowed me to set up an account to pay the groupo off and pay for the shipping and build. I purchased the frameset from Competitive cyclist. I also purchase new speedplay x2 pedals and got some cheap specialized water bottle cages. I spent about 3 weeks dialing in the bike and now I feel extremely comfortable on her even in the drops. The Sram Force took some getting use to as it is very different from my Shimano 105s, but it is very articulate, which I am assured is good if you are into going fast. I still like the smoothness of the shimano and I still ride Nemo. They both have completely different feels. I enjoy both bikes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back to basics

With all the focus on going fast, my main goal, which has actually always been my goal, is to pedal my bike with no stress and pain. The intensity and training makes it easy to forget that my original goal is just to enjoy the ride. This is why I often ride alone. I am able to get into my own natural rhythm, to listen to my body, to meditate, to stop and take in the sights, to change my course depending on my mood. Each moment is a grand escape, a small adventure that somehow charges my soul.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Time to take care.

I have started a new bike project. I am having a CR1 Pro built with a SRAM Force Groupo, FSA K light seatpost, and FSA carbon handle bars. I have committed myself to riding in the Joe Martin Stage Race.

My main goal until then is to stay positive, eat and hydrate better, get more rest, and ride lots.

I'm very excited about having a new personal goal. I will be training on Nemo, my faithful steed as it will take around 6 weeks to pay for the groupo. The frameset ships today. The new bike is called Swedie.