Wednesday, December 12, 2012

gear acquisition therapy

Society seems like it is always pushing people to be consumers.  Any hobby, sport, or problem you have can be improved or solved by simply buying something.  This means that marketing is doing it's job, but I don't believe it leads to actually improving at whatever you're doing.  It can also tend to drive you into the poor house as you fill your dwelling with more and more stuff.  I've joked with my wife that you get to a certain point in your life that for every pound (non-consumables) of stuff that comes into the house, one pound of stuff should leave.  While this sounds good in theory, I'm not sure it's completely realistic.

Photography is one of those holes that you could pour money into and never fill it up.  Even as technology improves and gets cheaper, 'real' cameras can still easily set you back way deeper into 4 figures than I'd like to think about.  My progression back into photography has been a slowish crawl over the last 3 or 4 years that has honestly probably been too much time surfing the internet, listening to podcasts, and reading stuff and not enough time behind a camera.  I didn't go crazy with buying gear and the stuff I did get was all used, but I do have a fair collection of stuff and always was on the lookout for 'good deals' on Ebay and Craigslist. 

CJ Chilvers website has inspired me to try to make a tangible change.  Spend a little time running through his blog and read his manifesto (manifesto has such an ominous sound doesn't it?).  I'm not going to go quite as extreme as he did, but I am going to cull the equipment down to just one DSLR, one lens, one point and shoot (that lives in the car), and the iPhone... Oh.. and the GoPro.  My goals are going to be to learn, improve, and once I get some minor PC stuff sorted out, share photo's that I'm proud of.

So... we'll see.  I truly believe that putting together a single speed bike a couple of years ago and then riding it, a lot, make significant improvement in my cycling.  Maybe adding some constraint's to the photography will help it improve as well.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

100 miles to nowhere

I've had the idea of a 100 miles to nowhere ride on my radar for about 6 months or so.  The thought came, of course, from the Fat Cyclist.  I don't really follow his blog but my boss does and we've been talking about it a bit ever since RAAM ended.  The rough 'rules' or guidelines for a 100 MTN ride can be found on Fatty's site.  There are a couple of places I had in mind for the 100 mile effort, Kennesaw Mountain, laps on the crit course, a couple of different routes I could do in Marietta...  Kennesaw would be tough, 100 miles would be about 20K feet of climbing(!) and would likely take close to 10 hours.  The crit course would be a lot faster, but both of those are almost an hour away from my house.  I decided on Stone Mountain because I could start early with lights, knew it would be relatively fast, and the laps of almost 5 miles would keep it from getting too boring.  

The idea of doing a century a month for however long has also been kicking around in my head for quite a while as well.  I've had some stretches of 3 to 5 months over the last couple years but that's about as long as it's gone.  Had a pretty good opportunity this year because of RAAM, but it kind of fell apart after the race.  Plus, even though I rode just over 500 miles during the week of RAAM, I actually never did 100 miles in a 24 hour period.  So... the century in Las Vegas got me 100 miles in September, last weekend was my last chance to get 100 miles in for October.  It ended up being a pretty tough ride.  Life and work has prevented me from getting as time in on the bike as I'd like and in the 12 days leading up to the ride, I had ridden once for a total of something like 16 miles.  Not exactly the type of lead up you'd hope for.  

The ride (link to Strava) ended up being about what I expected.  I didn't do it quite as fast as I would have liked, the climbing ended up being a bit more than I expected it to be.  There was some kind of charity walk at he park that day and some kind of art and craft festival that caused a bit more traffic than normal.  Both of these slowed me down a little, but honestly didn't make a huge impact.  It got tough towards the end to ride by the car every 15 minutes or so knowing that I could just pull into the parking lot and stop.  I'm glad I had tweeted something about the ride earlier that week, gave me some accountability to actually finish the ride. Of course I haven't ridden at all this week, but it's only the 5th of the month so I've got 3 more weekends to get 100 miles in this month.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

doping sucks

A co-worker of mine has a brother who competed in the Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships this last weekend.  I've never ridden with or even met the brother, but I follow him on Strava and have seen his results, he's a strong kid.  The winner of the cross country race finished with a time of 1:45, 7 min ahead of 2nd, and over an hour ahead of the brother.

For the last couple of years, and perhaps especially now with the news from the last month or so, anytime a person has a spectacular athletic performance, there is always the rumbling of 'what is he/she on?'  Most people don't say it out loud or talk about it, but I bet most people think about it.  What's sad about this is that we don't give full credit to people that very well may have just had a brilliant day, a perfect 2 hours on the bike.

I still think that bike racing, of all kinds, is the most beautiful sport.  With all the news of late it would be easy to just say "Dopers Suck", throw them all under the bus, and move on.  That's kind of the attitude I used to have.  Over the last couple of years and quite a lot in the last months, I've changed that a bit.  I don't know all the details of why or how the riders that have come out recently and admitted to doping.  For these guys riding a bike was (is) their job.  Who knows what or how or why they decided that the best, or only course of action was to take something that they knew at the time, or likely soon knew, was banned.  

I don't know if pro cycling can be cleaned up or if other pro sports can start getting some attention for the doping that I believe goes on there as well.  What I would like to see is that some time in the future extraordinary athletes to be able to enjoy success or failure without the specter of doping hanging over them.  In the meantime, I'm not going to hate the dopers.  It will likely make for some interesting theater over the coming months or years though.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012


A lifetime ago my passion was cars.  Maybe it still is one of my passions.  Perhaps a persons passion isn't manifest only in the day to day decisions and choices that you make, but what's in your heart.  So... even though I spend my money on other things, cars still hold a soft spot.

Photography is something that I used to be pretty passionate about as well.  I'm slowly trying to integrate some photography into my pretty full life.  The hope is to do more than just let the pixels live as zeros and ones on my hard drive, I want to share them, print them, hope that others might enjoy one or two.

Since I've got a pretty good commute each day, I keep an old point and shoot stuck beside the seat in my car, you never know when you might see something worth taking a picture of.  Just recently I've started using an iphone, and I'm pretty damn impressed by both the camera and the amount of in device power available for processing the images.  But, it can't be brought into play and operated with one hand anywhere as easily as a 10 year old point and shoot camera.

So... here is about 10 months of the pics that have been marinating on the card, nothing here that has already been pushed up to FB or Twitter, all this is new.  In the interest of speed, none of these have any post processing done.  Enjoy... or not.

The DC2 Integra's are great little cars.  This one was clean, not riced up.  Looks good with the 15" Spoons (or fake Spoons).

Big trucks are cool too.  Interesting that this one has no sleeper.  Too bad the old Olympus picked up focus on the windscreen...

GM A body.  Pretty sure this one is a '69, if it is the vent windows make it pretty rare, if it really is an SS.  Too bad about the chrome mudguards...

'69 Camaro's might be a little cliched, but this one looked the part.  Vinyl roof, old plate, nice patina.

2nd generation Camaro's are the one's to have in my book, this one was really clean.

You're starting to see more 240sx / Silvia's.  Plenty of these things around and it's easy to like RWD and potential for plenty of HP.  Like the color on this one too.

Late model Ford Escape with semi flat over EVERYTHING.... kind of interesting, don't know...

 Nicely turned out EK Civic.  White wheels are a plus.

Seen this one a couple of times on the drive home.  Don't know where the bottle caps on the body seam thing started, but I've seen it on a couple of Type 1's in the last year or so.

Early '80s Corolla wagon.  Don't know why but I love wagons, especially RWD Japanese wagons.  Focus on this one didn't snap in quite fast enough.

Everything that is new.. is old.  Like the mirrors on the barends.

Right hand drive 70 series Toyota Land Cruiser.  Don't see one of these everyday.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Last weekend was spent in Vegas.  Not the normal "The Hangover" debauchery, not for Interbike, and not for CrossVegas.  I joined 22 other people on the Georgia TNT team to ride in the Las Vegas Gran Fondo.  A total of 500 TNT participants at this event raised $1.5M for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This might be more dramatic - $1,500,000.

Some of these people are 'cyclist', some have done more than one TNT event, some many, many TNT events.  But many hadn't been on a bike since they were kids, some didn't even have bikes when the training started.  They did things that their friends and neighbors would never understand or appreciate.  They did things that they wouldn't believe they could do 4 months ago.  

The courage required by these people to undertake the training and fundraising is remarkable. Giving something back, being a positive influence in society, and doing something that makes a difference is rare.  I am proud and humbled by my teammates.

(PS.. if I go back next year, I'll schedule it so I can make it to CrossVegas...)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

wind at our backs

As the Boeing 737 started it's descent into San Diego yesterday, the enormity of riding a bicycle across the country that had taken me all day to fly across started to become very real.  Even though I'll be sharing the load with 7 other strong athletes and a full support team, it's still a sobering challenge.

Over the last 6 months or so the team has been planning, training, and raising money for LLS.  We have met and reached out to hundreds of people that have graciously donated to our cause, given us thanks for what we're doing, and wished us godspeed on our ride.

I, and the rest of the Georgia Chain Gang, will do our best to honor those that have supported us.  Those that have donated to LLS to fight blood cancers, the families and loved ones that have gladly loaned husbands, wifes, fathers to this endeavor.  And to the people that didn't have a choice, those who have beaten cancer, those that are still fighting, and those who fought but lost.

The honor and accountability of all these people is not a burden but an elixir.  Continue to keep us in your thoughts, and spread the word.  We will ride strong.  We will have the wind at our backs.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

T minus 6 days...

So it seems like my blog is going to be a once a month or so update... I had hoped I'd have more content but I just don't seem to have the time required to actually get good stuff pushed up.  It might be that I'm not quite as creative as I would like to think...

Almost a month ago we lost Warren Bruno after an 8 year battle with Lymphoma.  Warren was, and is, the honored hero for the Georgia Chain Gang.  He was a husband, a father, a business owner, a pillar in his community.  I knew Warren, didn't know him as well as I would have liked, but knew him well enough to realize I was lucky for every moment spent with him.  In the days following his death I thought a lot while out on the bike.  It seems like only the really decent, good people get diagnosed with a cancer or any other terminal disease.  I think what really happens is that a diagnoses makes life so much simpler, all the other crap that gets in the way of spending time with family and friends suddenly doesn't really matter.  Warren was already a great guy even before the diagnosis, we should all strive to be a little more like him.

RAAM starts in less than a week and I find myself completely ready for the race to get started.  For the last 4-6 months RAAM has been 'my thing'.  Between training, fundraising, and planning, RAAM has used up most of my free time.  I am in as good of physical condition as I believe I've ever been in.  Looking back over the last 6 months, I've been investing an average of about 8-10 hours per week on training.  At that level of commitment I don't think any more calendar time is really going to make much improvement.  This experience has really opened my eyes to the level of time commitment a major endurance event like RAAM or an Ironman take.  I know quite a few people that have trained and completed IM's, and I have a lot of respect for the effort it takes to do that.  Once the race starts, all the work and planning will be put to the test, but the day to day will be simple... ride bikes.

The Chain Gang's fundraising is at an impressive level, we're on track to be at or above $150,000 before the race starts.  I'm humbled and grateful for all that have donated to my page.  My personal network is not very big so one of my biggest concerns was being able to make enough of an impact to the total fundraising for the team, feel OK about my effort but... it's not too late to get a few more donations in...

This is likely going to be my last post before RAAM starts.  If you want to keep up with the Chain Gang, your best jumping off point for updates, pics, and videos is going to be the Facebook page.  You can follow me on twitter as well.  Thanks again to all that have donated and wished us luck, we'll do our absolute best to honor all that have contributed and, of course, Warren.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tick tock

One month from today I'll be leaving for Oceanside California.  One one hand it seems like only yesterday that I found out I was going to be one of the 8 riders in the Georgia Chain Gang, on the other hand, I can't wait for RAAM to get started.

As I write this the Gang is over halfway to our goal of $200,000 raised for LLS.  I am humbled and grateful by everyone that has helped us with this fight against cancer.  Even with all the advancements in treatment and lives that have been saved over the years, people continue to die from blood cancers.  Don't forget the reason that we're doing what we're doing...

I feel like about 3 or 4 weeks ago I was in a really good spot with my training.  Then... work, life, etc.  The week of the silent auction I went 7 days without getting on the bike.  Wasn't by design, just the way it worked out.  For the last couple weeks I've been able to get some pretty decent training in.  I'm grateful for Garmin and Strava, because if it wasn't for the data logging and comparison to others and previous rides, I wouldn't be too sure about my current fitness.  But, the reality is that I'm pretty happy about where I am right now.  Glad I'm not going to be on a 4 person team though.

With only 4 weeks or so left before the A bike is going on a van, I've got a couple of things to button up.  Need to pull the BB out and give it a clean and grease, might do the same for the HS, basically just a good nut and bolt, top to bottom.  I picked up a Cane Creek/Zipp front wheel and an old Hed Deep rear off Ebay and have been doing a fair bit of riding on them over the last couple of months.  Pretty happy with them, I understand why deep wheels are getting so popular in the pro peloton.  But... the rear has an unknown number of miles on it and has straight gauge spokes, 32 of them.  Not too worried about the Dura Ace hub, but I'm probably going to respoke the wheel and rebuild the hub, just a little peace of mind.

Flirted with the idea of getting a compact crank for a month or so but I think I'm just going to put a 12-30 cassette on the deep wheel and go with it.  I've been running a 12-30 for well over a year now and have been pretty happy with it.  And it's already paid for...

Sunday, March 11, 2012


One of the reasons I started this blog was to throw a larger net to help with fundraising for the Chain Gang's RAAM effort and to give a window into my training and fundraising efforts.  But... I haven't been doing a great job of keeping the blog up to date.  It's a bit of a cop out, but it seems that life always gets in the way.  Another part is that I've got this idealistic dream of trying to write really good stuff.  Kind of makes me procrastinate a bit when it comes to getting stuff pushed up to the cloud.  I should probably just accept that people probably don't really care if the content is clever or not, just get info out.

So.. I'm happy to say that as I type this the fundraising number is almost $54,000!  Pretty exciting stuff.  If you or some of your like minded friends are available on Mar 24th, sign up for the Race To Anyplace.  $450 will get your team a bike for the 6 hours, $400 if you're up to doing it solo.  All the riders in the Chain Gang will be doing it solo, come out and watch us suffer!

Training is going well.  I continue to surprise myself in the improvements (sometimes not huge, but improvements none the less) that continue month to month and year to year.  Coach Tony has done a good job of laying out a very robust training plan for us.  The training is different from what I'm used to doing.  An 8 person team has a different dynamic than the types of riding and training that I've historically done in the past.  Over the last year or two I've been aspiring to longer and longer rides, RAAM is going to require three, one hour efforts every 24 hours.  Easy right?  Yeah, except that each of these hour efforts need to be pretty much max effort.  After each one you get three hours off, so you can afford to empty the tank or come close.  A bit different from what I'm used to but I am getting my head wrapped around it.

Had a chance to get in a good hard ride last Saturday with about half the Chain Gang.  I feel good about my performance but also realize that I need to continue to work and improve.

No promises, but I'll try to get better about keeping the info moving.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My blog is dead. Long live my blog.

Amazing that I've gone almost 3 months without a post.  Need to get better at that, one of the main reasons I started this blog was to cast a wider net for the Georgia Chain Gangs fundraising for RAAM this year.  I suppose I'll have a better chance of getting more traffic and generating a little buzz if I actually put a bit of content out occasionally...

So what's been going on for the last 3 months?  Well... stuff.  I went with the TNT team to Tucson in Nov and I'm proud to say the team did a great job.  I ended up doing about 130 miles the day of the event, which led to thoughts of knocking out a 200K once a month, then maybe just a century once a month.  Dec came and went, so the thoughts went to maybe a 200K or century once a month for the the new year.  Now it's Jan 29 and I don't think I'm going to get a century in during the next 2 days, so...  What is it about a new year that triggers stuff in people?  Health club memberships, losing weight, etc.  Even simple stuff like doing a century once a month or posting a (decent) photo online once a day.  Interesting, isn't it?

I write this, we've got less than 5 months before RAAM starts.  Coach Tony has the whole team set up with a daily training program.  This is the first time in a long time that I've had a program to follow other than what I've put together for myself.  It's going well though, kudos to Tony for putting together the training for the team, it's not an easy job.  He had us on a volume block last week.  Between work, fundraising, being husband and father, I didn't get as much time in as planned, but I did OK.  Until mid Mar it's going to be tough for me to get long rides on the weekends.  I'm fortunate enough to be able ride at lunch often which allows for some pretty good, albeit short, training, and can knock out 2 hour+ once or twice a week during the week as well.  So, not feeling too bad, my volume isn't huge (yet), but the intensity is good.  Weight is OK, I'm going to try to knock about 5 to 10 pounds off in the next 3 months.  5 pounds would bring me down to my normal '6 gap' weight, 10 pounds... we'll see.  If I do get the 10 off, we'll have to see how I perform, if I get it off...

Moving on.  A couple of Georgia Chain Gang things to talk about. We are still looking for some crew members, especially massage therapist(s).  Reach out to me if you're interested.  The Gang is going to need between 3 and 4 three quarter ton passenger vans (church vans) for the race.  We'll likely do a one way rental from Oceanside (San Diego) to Annapolis.  If anyone out there has a good guy deal or a contact we can reach out to for an in-kind donation, let me know.  The more we keep the overhead down, the more funds go to LLS.  Our next fundraiser is The Race To Anyplace on Mar 10.  This will be a great chance to get a team of friends together and have a good time while giving cancer the gas face.  The big silent auction is going to be mid May at Ormsby's.  In 2010 it was a great event, you should make sure to attend this year.
Enough for now, I'll try to not take such a big blog break in the future.