Monday, October 31, 2011


Coaching for the Georgia Chapter TNT cycle team has always been a rewarding experience, which is why I keep coming back to do it.  Obviously the cause it worthy, Neil Fleming and the other coaches, mentors, SAG persons, etc. go well above and beyond what people would think is 'normal'.  But... the people that actually sign up, raise the money, and get outside of their comfort zone but ultimately succeed, are the real payoff.

With only 3 or 4 weeks left before the winter team ships off to Tucson, the mileage for the GTR's have been creeping up.  Almost every week the new people on the team are doing the longest, hardest ride they've ever done.  And every week, they keep coming back, with smiles, good attitudes, and donation checks in their back pockets.  This week in particular, the GTR was a perfect storm of effing hard.  The parcours were little back roads in Gwinnett, Walton, Newton, and Rockdale counties, always going up or down, twisty enough that you really never had a tailwind (and exponentially increased your chances of getting off course) , and included many road surfaces that most people would just assume avoid, including 3.5k of not flat gravel road.

Judging by the number of participants that got SAGGED in, an outside observer might gather that this was the day that decimated the team.  But, if that observer had been in the parking lot as each of these people rode or drove in, they would have a very different opinion.  I know, I was there.  Everyone that came in was tired, dirty, beat, and in some cases bloody.  But none, not by a long shot, was broken.  It may be cliche, but it's true; what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, and the Tucson team got a hell of a lot stronger this weekend.

It makes me proud and just a bit humbled to associated with these people. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Looking for crew

Don't forget that the Georgia Chain Gang is still looking for a few more crew members to round out the team.  This isn't an easy gig, but it is very rewarding.  The crew is expected to do some fundraising OR cover their own expenses.  Remember, we're helping a charity, not running one!

Speaking of fundraising, I'm currently excepting any and all bike repair and maintenance work.  Nothing too big or small, my prices are likely cheaper than you'll find anywhere else, and all the cash goes to LLS.  The work is good, ask around.

If you've got any interest in either, reach out...


Earlier this week I tweeted that time is the most valuable commodity.  Everyone has heard of disposable income, we should think about disposable time.  We all have a certain amount of 'overhead' that can only be reduced by so much.  Some amount of time has to be set aside for sleep, eating, work, etc.  These are the type things that have to happen in real time, you can't save up 20 hours of sleep at once to use over 3 days, just doesn't work.  Other overhead can be budgeted a bit, stuff like cutting the grass, washing the car, etc.  And even farther down the list are things that you know need to get done, but don't really have a set schedule.  Stuff like fixing the stuck window, or getting new tires on your car.

All that 'stuff' above doesn't really define who we are.  Everyone has 'stuff' that has to be done.  I think what defines us is what we do with the balance of the time we have.  This is the time you can spend riding a bike, spending time with the family, reading a book, watching TV, or learning how to speak Dutch.  It's interesting to think about how to prioritize spending this time.  Look at it like currency, you've got a finite amount of available currency, how are you going to spend it?

I'm going down this rabbit hole because of an interview I heard this week with a photographer that survived a 12m fall (probably should have killed him), all the media coverage of Steve Jobs passing in the last couple of weeks, and where I am in my fundraising project with the Chain Gang.  Of all the quotes and soundbites about Jobs, the one that stuck in my head was this, which was from an interview done about 6 or 7 years ago, after he was first diagnosed; paraphrased...  

"At the beginning of every day, I think to myself, what am I going to do today and would I do that if this was my last day alive?  If you answer 'no' too many days in a row, it's probably time to do something different."

Now, this isn't some panacea for life, just something to think about.  I've got a lot of things that I'd 'like' to do, work on the honey do list, race CX, cultivate potential coaching work, play with photography more, and write blog posts.  But... I also have commitments that I've made, like coaching for TNT and raising money for RAAM.  

That means I've got to push the fundraising up from the middle of the consciousness to the top; always there, always moving forward.  Every minute that passes, is gone.  Time to start being more diligent about how they are used.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

been a while

The first couple weeks of October I had a bit of a funk going on.  It could have been the normal week or two off that I always take after 6 gap, except that I didn't do 6 gap this year.  I don't know what it was, just didn't feel like doing much riding, moped around a bit, and generally didn't get too much done.  Happily, I think it's over.  I'm actually writing a post, motivated to get out on the bike, and I've got a little (very) bit of fundraising promise brewing.

Been hitting the SS pretty hard lately, doing the Sat GTR's on it and this week working the hills around work at lunch.  I had gotten a little tired of the SS toward the end of September, probably just because I have been riding it so much this year.  A couple of weeks off of it, and then back on this week, has reminded me how much I love riding a SS.  I think that anyone who calls themselves a cyclist should give a SS a fair shake at some point in their life.  So many positives - easy to keep clean, no mechanical drama in bad weather or dirt roads, great training, and it's just cool.  I converted the LandShark MTB over to SS a couple of weeks ago.  Historically I don't do a lot of MTB riding, but I do enjoy it.  We'll see if the SS makes any difference on how much I do.

I met a friend for lunch last week to talk about some fundraising idea's.  She has just wrapped up a stint with a large, national charitable foundation and was able to give me some insight into how to run a successful fundraising campaign.   Out of the 6 or so good ideas she gave me I've moved on exactly 1.  But, it's looking pretty promising so far, and now that I'm over my funk, I'm planning on trying to work on 1 good lead or idea per week.  And of course work on bikes.  Bike work raised a fairly reasonable chunk in 2010... stick with what you know.

Anyone that knows me or has seen my equipment knows that my stuff is clean, neat, and works, but it isn't new or modern.  Ebay is my friend and retail is not.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  The strongest is likely the reality that I'm not willing to spend a large portion of what is a relatively modest disposable income on my hobby.  Another big reason is that at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how fast I am.  I don't do any racing (at least not much), don't get paid to ride the bike, it's just what I love to do.  Whether I'm first or last to the top of the hill or back to the parking lot just isn't that big of a deal.  But... RAAM changes that perspective a little.  Next year how fast I am will make an impact on how a team of 7 other riders and 14ish crew members place in an actual race.  So.. I've been thinking a little about equipment.  Now I'm not going to go out and buy a new bike or anything, but I have been trying to find ways to 'speed up' the bits I've got.
Likely the biggest impact I can make is a more aero wheelset and/or aero bars on one of the bikes.  At this point I'm not sure if each rider is taking 2 bikes or not.  If I only get 1 bike then the aero bars are out for sure, I might be OK with the bars on 1 bike but not on my only bike.  But, aero wheels I could justify.  Been doing a bit of reading lately and other than cost and at times crosswind situations, wheels in the 30mm+ range are just about a win-win slam dunk.  Thus is born project 'blue collar aero'.  I've been keeping a pretty steady eye on Ebay and craigslist for a good deal on some deep wheels.  Unfortunately I think everyone actually understands the value of aero wheels and there are the type of deals to be had on Ebay like you could find 10 years ago.  On the plus side, time spent on craigslist does have some redeeming comic value.  So for know, I may have my vintage Mavic Cosmic Equips (which at this time the rear is scattered all over my workbench in the garage) on one bike and the Open Pro's on the other.  But I'm still looking. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

6 gap

I love to climb.  It didn't come naturally for me and it hasn't come easy.  But climbing is an aspect of cycling that I have fully embraced.  Climbing is like math, it's simple - power, weight, the willingness to suffer - not much else.  I believe that most of my cycling fitness that I have now can be traced to the fact that I love to climb and continually seek out opportunities to climb.

The first time I did the 6 gap century was in 2005.  That was the year that I got back into cycling after a 4 year excursion into motorsports (and getting fat).  I remember some things about the ride, but I don't remember why I signed up for it.  Half of the 6 major climbs I had never been on before and it was only the third century I had ever done.  Needless to say, it was not an easy day.  But I finished, and the next day and the following weeks and months, I looked back with pride that I had accomplished something that at the time, wasn't very easy for me.

Since then I haven't missed an edition of 6 gap save for the year that I crashed and broke a few bones the week before the event.  None were easy physically, but they did get easier mentally. Each year added another year of 'training age' which made me better prepared for a good day in the saddle.

Yesterday when the riders rolled out of the high school in Dahlonega, I wasn't there.  It's kind of hard to explain why.  I still love climbing.  I still love riding in N. GA.  I still have a number in my head that I want to crack on that century.

This year I just didn't have the hunger to do this ride.  My weight is good, fitness is good, equipment ready to go, but...  Maybe my big event for the year was the Crusher.  Maybe it's the fact that work has been a bit crazy for the last month or so.  Maybe getting my head wrapped around an annual training plan and fundraising for RAAM is using up too much bandwidth.  Maybe I'm banking time with the family to help offset said training and the 10 days or so I'll be out of pocket next June.

I don't know.

I do know that I skipped 6 gap this year and I feel fine about it.  I guess that means it's OK.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

big nut to crack

We had our first 'official' team meeting for the GA Chain Gang yesterday.  Good to meet more of the team and start getting some of the fundraising ideas vetted.  I got into this with my eyes open, but still it's a little intimidating to have what seems to be a really big number preceded by a dollar sign next to my name.

Simultaneously terrifying and exciting... kind of like life.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

be decent

I did my first Team in Training event in 1999.  My wife got a flyer in the mail, basically a cold call.  She was interested in a marathon and it seemed like a good cause.  The info meeting was just around the corner from my office, so I tagged along to just to check it out.  Ended up signing up for a century, first one I ever did.  

At the time I had no connection to leukemia or lymphoma.  No family members, no friends, nobody I knew was affected by blood diseases.  

That changed.

Because of my involvement with TNT, I've met many patients, survivors, and those that lost loved ones to these diseases.  These people are one of the reasons that I've been involved with TNT for so long.  The money raised by TNT directly effects these peoples live's, kind of makes it easy to stay involved.  The people I've been training with over these years have become like an extended family.  It also doesn't hurt that I love riding bikes.

You might say that since I'd likely be riding bikes anyway, this is not too much of a sacrifice for me to be making.  Kind of like recycling, how hard is it to put the magazine in the bin instead of the garbage can, right?  That's a valid argument, and might have been pretty close to the truth a couple years ago.  

But now I know people, not numbers or statistics, actual people.  

Because of these people I'm going to do something this week that I've never done before, I'm going to donate blood platelets.  Why?  Because people going through chemo for blood cancers need them.  Because people I know can benefit.  Because I'm blessed with a healthy body and can do it.  Because it's the decent thing to do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


This last week turned out to be a recovery week for me.  Wasn't really planned, life just got in the way.  Between work, kids sport practices, birthday parties, honey do lists, and sleep, trying to carve out even 4 to 6 hours for riding sometimes just doesn't happen.

Cycling, like many sports/hobbies, is a selfish past time.  Time spent on the bike is usually time that has no other redeeming qualities for anyone other than to the person riding the bike.  Time on the bike is time your not kicking a soccer ball with your kids, or getting the weeds out of the flowers, or listening to your spouse unwinding from a hard day at work.

So you get to really appreciate time on the bike.  Time alone with just yourself and your suffering becomes your therapy, your cleansing.  Pushing the poison out for a couple of hours makes everything a little more rosy.

No time on the bike this week was OK.  Life was full, and I got what I need to get done, done.  And there's always this week...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Hope This Doesn't Suck

Been kicking around the idea of starting a blog since Jul 30th of this year.  That’s the day I got an email asking if I would be a rider in the 8 person Georgia Chain Gang for RAAM 2012.  Not to sound elitist, but the thought of sharing 1/8th of the load on a 3000 mile bike race across the US doesn’t really worry me much.  Two 4 person squads working on 12 hour shifts, yields about 3 hours or so of riding every 24 hours.  The 3 hours will be hard hours, but it should be manageable.  

I consider myself a cyclist.  I ride pretty much year round, follow a regular training schedule, and hold my own, most of the time.  If I actually did any racing, I like to think I’d be able to not embarrass myself in Cat 5, maybe...  Last year I crewed for the GA Chain Gang, so I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’ve gotten myself into from an athletic point of view.  I said it then and I still believe that it’s easier to ride on a team in RAAM than to crew.

So.. what worries me about this endeavour?  

The GA Chain Gang completed RAAM as a 4 person team in both 2010 and 2011 and in the process raised almost $250,000 total for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This was how much they were actually able to turn over to LLS, after expenses.  A pretty impressive number.  The goal for 2012 is $250,000 more, just this event, not two years combined.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this.  I’m not a very social person, even for a guy.  Put me in a room full of people milling around and talking, and I’ll be the guy in the corner looking for the one other non-social person that I can talk to about bikes or cars or anything...  But, in order to get out in the world and spread some word about my involvement with the GA Chain Gang, and to help crack this fund-raising nut, I figured I could talk to my keyboard instead of a room full of people.  

I’ve followed a number of really good blogs over the years.  Some written by people that I’ve met and would have had no idea that they could do such a good job of putting ‘ink to paper’.  Some of those blogs are still around and I still read them.  This one, we’ll see.  Like a lot of things in life I’m starting something without really knowing what I’m doing.  Stuff like all the widgets and hot links and wiz-bang things that make the user interface fun are likely going to be missing for a while.  I’m going to have to rely on interesting content and clever delivery.  I hope it doesn’t suck.