Friday, April 27, 2012

Hawk Cam

Ok, if you didn't like the last post involving people you don't know and gallery shopping you don't particularly care for, never fear. Everyone's guaranteed to like this one.

Hawk Cam is, as you might guess, a camera trained on a hawk's nest in Madison, WI. Watch as the hawk parents rip up small mammals and feed them to their three fuzzy chicks.

Hawk Cam!

(If you'd rather not see bunnies being dismantled, don't click that link.)

Aunts Descend Upon Asheville

Last week, my three aunts (one each from Northern Wisconsin, California and North Carolina, natch) and my step mom Sue visited Asheville on their tour of the south. We checked out the Woolworth Walk and one of the other artist galleries downtown, just shopping along. Even though I saw all sorts of cool stuff, I only bought two bars of handmade soap- one oatmeal/vanilla, and another one that smells like gummy worms. Bathing in gummy worms.... mmmmm.

Oh, and my aunt Pam also treated me to a delicious chocolate milkshake at the Woolworth lunch counter. It was a decidedly food centric day. (Pam, from CA, is on the right while Sue is on the left. Andy and Edie were too focused on shopping to be bothered by refreshments.)

Soda Fountain at Woolworth Walk

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I wish I could come up with a better name for this post, but it's just not forthcoming. On Sunday I skipped out on Take a Kid Mountain Biking (I thought it would be canceled due to rain, alright?! I want to help the children, truly!) and did the 'Heartbreak' ride for the first time with a group of some locals and some of Aaron's friends that were visiting. We went through a residential area, up Rattlesnake (technical fire road, very steep), then Old Toll (technical fire road, less steep), then down Heartbreak (looong section along some ridges and down the mountain you just climbed) and back up and out on Old Mill, a gravel road. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Mmm, yes and no.

I wish I had some stats to throw your way, but I don't care to look them up so trust me when I say that there was a fair bit of climbing. From what I gather, Rattlesnake was built as a way for Model Ts to get up the mountain. How they did it, I don't know. Currently it's very rocky 'technical climbing' on a kind of narrow, steep, ill-kept fire road. From a technical standpoint, I think I could climb all of it, but from the fitness point of view?... At one point I realized Rattlesnake had just convinced me to put the front derailleur on my bike.

I currently run a 1x9, and while I could push my gear up this road, I couldn't do it for long and had to get off and hike in a few spots. Certainly, part of that's lacking the fitness, but the other part is oh-my-gawd-i-will-never-be-THAT-fit. So excuse me while I dig around in my bike box and try to find my granny gear. Ugh, I just bet that's going to mean a new cassette because of the new chain, and let's replace that rear derailleur while we're down there and Goodbye, money.

Here's the group after Rattlesnake, possibly a little ways up Old Toll.

  Heartbreak Ride

I also roped almost everyone into a group photo at the overlook. Force of habit from years of family vacations!

Heartbreak Ride

 One kind of neat thing to note is that as we climb, there's less and less green on the trees and shrubs. As evidence, this is further up on Old Toll.

  Heartbreak Ride

 I liked Old Toll because it was challenging but totally rideable at my fitness level. It took strength to keep getting up and over the rocks, but the grade and pace didn't tire me out too much. After a while you DO get tired of getting your butt pounded by your saddle, though. The rocks do not let up.

I wish I would have taken more photos of the terrain, but my camera was kind of hard to get out, and as you can see it was a big group. I didn't want to hold people up too much. At this overlook on Old Toll, Aaron's pointing out the peaks we've still got to hit and the ridges we'll be riding along.

  Heartbreak Ride

 When we dropped down into Heartbreak, I took up the rear because I'm not terribly confident in descending. I'm glad I did, too, because I stopped a few times to shake things out (tight calves, tight forearms and hands from my death grip on the bars). I took advantage of the little breaks to take a few photos, too. (I'm not sure how long the descent was, but I'm going to take a stab and say 45 minutes?)

  Heartbreak Ride

 Along this section, Mountain Laurel was blooming. (There were also a few wild, orange colored azaleas up there, too.)

  Heartbreak Ride

 Down at the bottom of Heartbreak, Aaron speeds over a section.

  Heartbreak Ride

 I wound up riding it, too, but with less speed and more swearing. Here's a better picture of the trail.

  Heartbreak Ride

 After that, we were just left with the climb back out on the gravel road. It was kind of nice to relax and roll some kinks out. The climbing wasn't too strenuous.

  Heartbreak Ride


  Heartbreak Ride - Aaron

 Aaron's friend Pete, from Vermont

  Heartbreak Ride - Pete

 Dave, a handful of trouble that a lot of you will recognize

  Heartbreak Ride - Dave

It was around then that my camera started to die. After about 5 hours of riding, I was ready to keel over with it :) I jest, it wasn't that bad, but the next day I did wake up feeling just a little bit like I had gotten run over by a truck. So, it was a good ride!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thursday Night

This past Thursday Night's Bent Creek ride. Everyone looks so thrilled to be out :S Thursday Night To be fair, this was towards the top of an eight mile climb. We were waiting for the second group to meet us before taking to the trails.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fat-Bike Tour of DuPont

If you haven't seen it yet, my second article for is up HERE.

I like to think of this adventure as The Romantic Waterfall Tour for One.


I also did some trail work that morning- that's in the article, too.


It's a kind of different approach than Wisconsin uses!


WI Buddies

My buddy Pete and his girlfriend Adrienne were in town from Milwaukee, and my work load for the week was light, so we ran around all sorts of places! We went for a hike in Bent Creek, did dinner at Mayfel's downtown, got ice cream at Ultimate Ice Cream and Adrienne and I spent most of a day doing our part to help the economy, shopping for books and clothes.

Dinner at Mayfel's.

Pete and Adrienne at Mayfel

We saw this on our hike in Bent Creek, near the lake.

Champion Forest Fire Preventer

This is Pete's new dog, Mara. She's also a Champion Forest Fire Preventer.

Champion Forest Fire Preventer

Hm. I thought I had a few more pictures, but it looks like that's it! Anyway there was too much fun to be had to be taking photos all the time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CLE Training Weekend

Last weekend we had a full house, with four friends from Cleveland in town for a training week. The house is only around 900 sq feet, so we had to stash two guys in the unfinished attic. Bless their hearts, they survived the extreme temperature swings up there.

I only participated in one ride, but it was a nice one. We went out on Friday evening to get the kinks out on Town Mountain and a piece of the parkway.

Here we're climbing Sunset.

CLE Training Party

CLE Training Party

A view of Asheville, with only a little expensive home in the foreground.

CLE Training Party

Biking along River Road.

CLE Training Party

This patriotic vehicle was also spotted on the ride.

CLE Training Party

Bella could usually be found snuggling up to one of the guys and soaking up all the attention she could wring out of them. She took full advantage of the fact that a couple of them missed their dogs.

CLE Training Party

I took a few of the guys on a field trip to Amazing Savings and we went a little nuts. The kitchen was a wonderful garden of all things snacks for a handful of days.

CLE Training Party

Sunday, April 15, 2012

DuPont SundayFunday

When I took my Pugsley into Youngblood's to get some replacement bolts for the ones that had worked their way off of my crank, my mechanic friend Aaron got the gleam in his eye, and I think we both knew he had to ride it. He had never seen a Pugsley in real life and was excited to try it out. I thought it was a great way of handicapping my faster friend. Aaron, his friend Linden and I puttered on down to DuPont in Aaron's excellent old truck.

Look at it! We were all squished in, and you have to have the windows rolled down so you don't get smothered by fumes. It's wonderful.


It was a great day out on the trails. The hills are more rolling, like good old Wisconsin. One of the first things we saw was one of the cemeteries, Thomas Cemetery.

Thomas Cemetery

Creepy/cool sign.

Thomas Cemetery

There was a lot of this.

Aaron and Linden

And a lot of Pugsley-induced smiles from Aaron and other cyclists, hikers and horseback riders we passed.

Aaron & Pugsley

We stuck to singletrack most of the time but hit the fire roads, too.

Aaron and Linden

I remember this cobblestone section from one of my first visits to North Carolina.

Aaron & Pugsley

To end the ride, 'for dessert', we hit the skills course by the parking lot.

Aaron and Linden

I wasn't brave enough to try this circular skinny, as my derailleur is already hanging onto life by a thread, and you have to hop your rear wheel a bit to make the curve. Kudos to the guys for getting it.


Aaron & Pugsley


It's spring, I'm exploring, I love it!


I was invited to a regatta on Saturday and threw this together a few hours before. It's a plastic container from some dried apple slices, some foam core spray-painted silver, some scraps of interior decorating fabric, and copious amounts of hot glue.

Regatta Boat

Hot glue, thank you for all of the hasty crafting you make possible. Loovvee yoouuu.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the race, so I don't know if it even managed to make it down the shallow creek, but at least it had style points. I'm really enjoying all of the projects I can throw together with the sewing machine. I wish I had learned the machine sooner!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bar Tape Cleaning PSA

Is your bar tape gross? Here's a tip for you: Simple Green. I know it's not really revolutionary, but maybe you don't know how well it works on bar tape of all levels of filth.

Here's my before picture. The Gios Torino has been outside on the covered porch all winter, and it had some weird kind of mold growing in spots, along with some regular old grime built up.

Bar Tape Cleaning

Spray on the Simple Green, scrub it with an old toothbrush and/or a washcloth, rinse and enjoy the succulent fruits of your labor.

Bar Tape Cleaning

Here we are halfway done. Shocking, yes?

Bar Tape Cleaning

It is very much like new.

Bar Tape Cleaning

Such a pretty girl. So hey, don't rush to rewrap your bars when you can clean 'em up so nice.

Bar Tape Cleaning

Wow am I good. I should probably start a series on startling revelations like these.

The Unhappiest Easter Egg (and Other Things)

The Unhappiest Easter Egg. The parents said their child imagined the egg being very sad that it was boiled and couldn't go on being a raw egg.

The Saddest Easter Egg

An anthropomorphic eggplant at Amazing Savings.

Emo Eggplant

Emo Eggplant

Pretty light from a neon sign in a window.

The Asheville Public

Some Prana shorts that I bought on the cheap to fix up. They fit like we were meant for each other. I used my sewing machine to fill in the holes where the snaps pulled out. now to fix up the new 'button holes' and sew a couple of buttons on.

Repair Job

Some gorgeous flowers from the shrub outside the back door. The vase was my mom's. I used to think it was the prettiest vase ever. I had a thing for ruffles, I think.

Prettay Flowers

The end of The Bad Seed. And no, I won't ruin it for you by telling you how it ends, so don't ask!

The Bad Seed