Wednesday, April 29, 2009

May Day - May Day

No, I'm not in need of dire assistance. I haven't had an "I've fallen and I can't get up" moment (at least not today). It's the first of May, so happy May Day! Thank God we've survived the month of April here in Wisconsin. You just never know if you're going to have winter or spring. At least the first half of the month was more winter. Warmer, dryer days are in sight though, and with that means more riding. I need to start prepping and planing for our family trip to Madelaine Island in July (it'll come quicker than I realize). Camping with a toddler will be an interesting experience. I'm blessed to have a wife that enjoys camping as much as I do. She realizes camping means in a tent, not in 100 foot travel trailer that has more amenities than most peoples houses. I also need to keep training (and hard) for the 100 Miles of Nowhere. I'm into week 4 of the 100 Push up Challenge ( ), and I'm feeling every one. Here's my reading and listening picks for the month.

Trail Dog’s Book Club – May ‘09

“Late Nights on Air” – Elizabeth Hay

Another book off of Neil Peart’s latest recommended reading list. The title alone brought back visions of my childhood, as I lay in bed with my small radio tucked beneath my pillow, listening to the music that no one would play during the day (probably one of the reasons I’ve never been a mainstream music lover). Then, I was brought to my early twenties, when, for extra cash, I worked Sunday nights at local radio station, broadcasting the Sunday Night Baseball game.

If a book can bring back memories just from the title, I thought it deserved a read. This one started out slow. So slow in fact that for the first few chapters, I though maybe Neil had gone a little crazy with his recommendation. I’m very glad I gave it a chance. From the days (and nights) in the Yellowknife radio station, to the erstwhile canoe trip in search of a path taken by a historical figure and long forgotten, this book was extremely well written. Hay’s use of getting in depth with multiple characters was rather refreshing, as there was no “main character”. Didn’t expect the ending of this one either, which in my opinion made it just that much more worthwhile.

Note: Check out my book shelf for more of the books I've read.

Tunes from the Trail

Eric Johnson - "Ah Via Musicom"

Had to dip into the archives for this one. Released in 1990, this was guitar virtuoso, Eric Johnson's break through recording. I remember seeing Eric Johnson open up for Rush on their "Roll the Bones" tour in '91. The first thing I did the next day was run over to Nickelodeon (the local record store) and buy this album. I bought his next offering "Venus Isle" as well, but hadn't kept up with Eric since then. His last studio album was entitled "Bloom" and has been on tour with Satriani and Vai on G3 in the past. Here's a live performance of "Cliffs of Dover" (the first big song off of Ah Via Musicom) from The Grove in Anaheim, CA in 2006. The actual song starts at about 4:50 of the recording. Enjoy.

Leave No Trace - Kippis


Monday, April 27, 2009

Theory of a Deadman

Remember a couple weeks back when I was so pissed about missing the Unity Ride? I found the cure for my negative feelings. I've agreed to ride 100 miles on May 23 in the "100 miles of Nowhere" ride sponsored by Twin Six ( ) and Fatty ( ). Proceeds go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It's a $75.00 pre-registration ($50.00 of that going directly to LAF). I've decided that if I receive any donations above and beyond the $75.00, I'll cut one check for the excess to LAF on the day of the ride (contact me or post here if you'd like to donate ((I'm not real good with online fund raising))).

The ride itself will actually be the "deadman" portion of this post. I think I may actually have signed my own death certificate on this one. 100 miles in one day!?!?!? I'm f$%&ing crazy! How in the blue blazes can I ride 100 miles in one day. The most I've done at a crack is 25. The boys are aching already. When I think about it though, if I end up in a little pain the day after, it's nothing compared to what some of these folks that have been stricken with this horrible disease are going through or have gone through. When I think about all the people that have touched my life, even just a little bit, that have gotten the bad news of cancer (including my own mother), I realize I can do this. (Insert gratuitous support from readers here).

The "theory" part of this post is the most interesting, and really, the only reason I can make this work. 100 miles of Nowhere is not an organized event in the usual thinking of the word. This ride is essentially an honor system ride. As I have a 16 month old at home, the conventional wisdom of a 100 mile ride on a Saturday without changing her routine is virtually nil. However, with the way Fatty and Twin Six have set this up, I can head out and do 20 or 30 miles before she even wakes up. I can get in another 20-30 miles while she takes a nap (because I can use my indoor stationary). And I can finish off when my wife gets home from work. If it rains, I'll just do all 100 on the stationary. This is a perfect system for me. Thanks Fatty and Twin Six for putting this together!

It rained all weekend here in FDL-WI. The city actually got the pumps out and put them at strategic places around town in case we started flooding again. Although the last time they did that and it flooded, the pumps really didn't work all that well. Oh yeah, you need to actually turn them on before there's 3 feet of water in the street (bureaucratic idiots). Didn't get to hit the trails at all but I did throw 37 miles on the indoor. Maybe next weekend.

Leave No Trace - Kippis,


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. " - Aldo Leopold

A great quote from arguably the greatest conservationist the world has known. I hope it enhances your Earth Day. I won't share all of my feelings on ecology and conservation as I find some of them may be a little "against the grain" so to speak. Let's just put it this way, I don't believe anything the government tells me about our environment at face value. I research, and form my own educated opinion and conclusion (as well as everyone should).

Let's use global warming as an example. Is it an issue? Yes, I believe that it is. I also believe that al gore has bended and twisted the real issue for his own gain and notoriety. The things that we put in to our atmosphere are definitely effecting life as we know it. Should we cut back our even try to stop to a certain level? Yes we should. It is a little publicized fact that while automobile emissions and coal fired power plants (the villains of our story) do contribute to air pollution, emissions from residential furnaces contribute more annually to green house gases.

I'll stop now as not to offend anyone. We had snow here yesterday in FDL-WI. Actually accumulated as slush on the ground. So it was in the 70's last Friday, it snowed yesterday, and we'll hit upper 70's to low 80's on Friday. Riding has really been hit or miss lately as the majority of the good weather has been during the work week.

I'm in week 3 of the "Hundred Push Up Challenge". I haven't had to repeat a week yet, but it's getting increasingly more difficult. Thanks to M11 Pilgrim for turning me on to that one.

At any rate, riding will become a more dominant part of my life again as we warm up here in Wisconsin. Hope to get some good pics to share with all of you from my rides as well. I've added some more blogs to my list in the nature section in regards to the "leave no trace" theory. I like to practice this when I'm out riding, hiking, camping, etc. Check out the home page and blogs if you'd like. I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Frank Lloyd Wright

"I believe in God, but I spell it N-A-T-U-R-E" - Frank Lloyd Wright

Leave No Trace



Friday, April 17, 2009

"Crazy Joe" Update

It seems like it's been forever since I've talked about my bike build (AKA "Crazy Joe"). What was going to be my "winter project" has spilled over into spring. To help expedite my timeline a little bit, I asked the owner of the bike shop down the street from me if I brought parts that I already had in to him, if he'd put them together for me. Thankfully, he replied "whatever you need". So that's a positive.

Here's my price comparison so far to remind everyone what I'm at for costs (and what parts I have).

“Crazy” Joe’s Cost Comparison

Item………………………………………......................MSRP………...Paid – (Shipping)

Specialized “Rockhopper” 21” Frame…..........$120.00 ……….$25.00 – ($25.00)
Suntour XCR Front Suspension Fork…..........$160.00 ……….$52.00 – ($14.00)
2008 Cane Creek S8 Headset 1-1/8"…….......$70.00 ……….$26.00 – ($8.00)
Bontrager Race Modified 620 Handlebar……$30.00
Bontrager Race Handlebar Stem............……..$50.00
Bontrager Sport Seat Post..........………............$20.00…………$21.20 – ($10.00)



My biggest item I'm searching for right now is a decent wheel set. I've decided to go with a "v-brake" system as opposed to the disc brakes to save on costs. Problem being, I haven't found alot of people selling wheel sets that are usable with a v-brake system (not to mention a wheel set that is cost effective - if I blow $300.00 on wheels, I may as well give up on the build and just buy a new ride).

Should be in the 40's temp wise tomorrow morning, so I'm looking forward to getting out early and maybe not having to wear a stocking cap. If any one has any great ideas on wheel sets or opinions on my braking decisions, let me know your thoughts, they are always appreciated. I hope everyone has a great weekend and can get out and hit the trails.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Am I actually faster after ankle surgery?

Could it really be possible that I am faster after surgery to repair a broken ankle? If I go by my average speed, I am. After my 6 mile jaunt on Saturday morning (which by the way felt extremely good once I got my dead arse out of bed to do it), I checked, as I always do, my computer to log the ride stats so I can tell if I'm actually getting better.

When I looked at this days numbers, I was rather shocked. I went back in my log to find the first ride of last years stats. My average speed was a miserable 7.6 mph. I then checked the last ride of last year. Average speed 10.5 mph. I was astounded to see that my average speed for saturday was 11.1 mph (this being only the second ride of the season). I guess all those indoor training rides helped keep me in the same riding condition (actually a bit better) that I was in last year. I'll never doubt you again Big Cat. Now I can't wait to get out again next Saturday.

In case you missed Jonny K's comment about his neice Anna, she's 2 years old and the exact type of cancer hasn't been dignosed yet. Let's keep the prayers coming for her!



Friday, April 10, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

No Unity Ride for me!

So I didn't even get a chance to start the cycling season and I've already had to scratch the Unity Ride from my list. Last week, I received and invitation to a wedding on the same day as the ride.

My initial thought was: "OK, I can do the ride, skip the wedding, and still go to the dinner and reception." My voice of better thinking (AKA my wife), informed me that "that would be rude".

I'm kinda pizzed. I know, you only get married once (well most people at least). There will be more rides this year. It just blows that it's the first ride of the season. That it's the first ride after my surgical ankle repair. I just feel that I don't have an immediate goal to shoot for anymore. Am I being selfish? Yes I am. I just felt like I needed this ride. Any ideas from anyone on how to get out of this funk would be appreciated (i.e. another ride, a little biking trip on a Sunday afternoon, I don't know).

As far as getting back into the "swing" of my fitness week, I'm well on my way. Monday, Wednesday, Friday is 4 A.M. wake up and a nice jog. I've got myself up to the 1 mile course. My ankle is a little sore after, but nothing too bad. Tuesday, Thursday is 4 A.M. wake up and stationary bike. Saturday, Sunday is early wake up (depending on how long I want to ride), and hit the road or trail. The Sat, Sun rides have been few and far between due to the weather, but hopefully this weekend, I'll be able to get both days with at least a 10 miler each day. I've also decided to do the One Hundred Push Up Challenge. I just started this on Monday, so we'll see how it goes.

Thanks to all 5 of you that voted in the Finnish Face Warmer Contest. After counting and recounting the votes, I have been declared the winner for this year. Congrats to the Big Cat for coming in 2nd out of 2. It was a tight race that came down to one vote.

I've found a great list of the top 100 books for men. After I'm done reading the one I'm into now, I'll start the list. I've already read 4 of the 100 so only 96 more to go. More to come on that in later posts.

Let's all keep Jonny K's niece Anna in our thoughts and prayers as she battles cancer. I'm not sure what her exact age is, but I know she's way too young to have to go through this in her life. If Jonny reads this post, maybe he can comment with a little more info.

Here's wishing everyone a blessed Easter!



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April Fools Day

Hard to believe another month has passed us by already. March was a pretty good month. I'm done with the orthopedic surgeon and I wrapped up physical therapy last week.

The Maestro finally came back from FDL cycle after the tune up. Got cleaned, lubed, and a couple of minor parts replaced. Went out for a ride on Saturday morning for the first time since November. I'm tryting to get back into my usual routine so I was up early. Not as early as I have been in the past, but baby steps man. So I rolled out of bed at 4:30 A.M. and put on my cold weather gear. Temperature at this time of day was 25 degrees (18 with wind chill). Now the coldest I've biked in was 22 degrees back in November and I had no problems with being cold. For some reason on Saturday, I was very comfortable except for my thumbs. My fingers were fine but my thumbs were in some serious pain. In so much pain in fact that I feared frost bite. I was forced to turn back and cut my ride at only 3 miles. Rather disappointing, but after I got back and had to run my hands under cold water first, then luke warm, then a little warmer, to get the pins and needles to go away, I realized turning back was the right thing to do. Good news is that my ankle held up with no issues at all, and if it wasn't for my thumbs, I felt like I could have gone for 20 miles easily. Guess that means my wind is starting to come back.

I also started to jog again. Per my therapists suggestion, I started out with 1/2 mile courses. By Friday I hope to be up to a mile at a crack, and so on and so forth. The real good news is that after being layed up for damn near 2 months, I didn't gain any weight, so at least I don't have that to contend with too.

We're taking our first family vacation in July to Madelaine Island. Camping with a toddler should be fun. Hope to get some biking in around the Island. I also booked a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for September, for our 10 year wedding aniversary. I've already checked into renting a fat tire beach cruiser so that should make for some good pictures.

April should be a great month! Weather is warming up. Baseball is starting soon (Go Brewers!) Here's my reading and listening picks for the month.

Trail Dog's Book Club - April '09

"No Country for Old Men" - Cormac McCarthy

I decided to read this book based on Neil Peart's (acomplished author, cyclist, and drummer for some band called Rush) recomended reading list from awhile back. I was excited to start reading it based on Neil's review. It was kind of hard to follow at the start but not because it was a boring storyline. The verbage took a bit of getting used to as McCarthy tried (and succeeded) in capturing the dialect of a "good ole boy" from a Texas border town, in written word. The other thing that threw me for a loop was the punctuation, or lack there of. I couldn't quite put my finger on it from the start, but as I kept reading I figured it out. It wasn't that sentences didn't end in periods, or an apostrophe wasn't used in the right place. There were no quotation marks. Not a single one in the whole book. So for me, depending on how late it was, sometimes I had a hard time realizing if someone was still talking, or if it was back to narative. Aside from that, this was a great story line that keeps going till the end. McCarthy's writing capabilites actually allow you to see the gore of an incident in the written word. Finishes out at about 300 pages, but it flew by.

Tunes from the Trail

Matt Nathanson - Some Mad Hope

People that know me, know that I don't typically like new artists. I like new music as long as it's from my same old favorite bands. Maybe I'm loosening up now that I'm not in a band anymore and I don't play that much. Gotta check out this guy Matt Nathanson.

He has a real melodic style that kind of reminds me of David Gray, but Nathanson is much more...atmospheric. He's had a few of albums out in past years, but "Some Mad Hope" will be his breakout recording (even though it was released in '07). He was on Ellen and played the song "Come on Get Higher", which I believe is his first big hit. Personally I think the song "Car Crash" is just about perfect (can't get it out of my head). I love the melodies and the style of the song. Check him out if he comes around your area. I would, but the only date in Wisconsin is in Milwaukee and he's opening for sugarland (I can't stand that stinging nettles lady). Maybe I'll pay for the ticket just to go see him, and then leave when they come out. Anyway here's "Car Crash" for your listening pleasure.