Amy I rode FATS this weekend. These may be the funnest trails I have ever ridden. Every climb has a purpose. Once you hit the top you will be rewarded with as many jumps, drops, hips, berms, and gullies as the trail designer could cram in before the trail turns back up hill. It is a like a giant pump track. Thank you so much FATS man. You are a master trail designer.
Luckily my parents live like 10 minutes from the trail. Amy and I drove down to Augusta Saturday and rode for a couple hours before heading to my parents house. Once we got there my mom started filling our plates with crab legs, steak, potatoes, green beans, zucchini, carrots, bread, ice cream, and chocolate cake. Next thing I knew it was morning. I must have drifted off in some kind of food coma. All that sleeping made me hungry so my mom started in with fruit, pancakes, OJ, sausage, bacon, croissants, and eggs when I woke up.
After I could eat no more, I crawled my way to the car and slumped over my bike once we got to the trail head. Amy and I rode together for an hour to try and reduce the size of my belly. Amy is getting so fast now that she routinely runs up on my rear tire. I keep thinking it is some racer type so I try to pull off the trail to get out of their way. It happened so many times this weekend that I had to ask Amy to call out when she catches me so I know it is her and I don't have to dive off the trail.
After Amy and I rode together, I went back out for a couple more loops. I couldn't quite work off all the food I ate but I tried my best. Thanks Mom and Dad for all the food and company. Amy and I had a great time.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Amy I rode FATS this weekend. These may be the funnest trails I have ever ridden. Every climb has a purpose. Once you hit the top you will be rewarded with as many jumps, drops, hips, berms, and gullies as the trail designer could cram in before the trail turns back up hill. It is a like a giant pump track. Thank you so much FATS man. You are a master trail designer.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:05 PM
Sunday, October 26, 2008
A coworker and I hit Blankets creek this morning for a quick ride. It felt like 40 degrees when we left the car. As soon as we hit the first climb I warmed right up though. The rest of the day was perfect. The new pads on my front brakes fixed my squeaking problem and I even cleared the switchbacks on the Van Michael Loop for the first time. This was my friend's longest ride to date but you never would have known it. Every time I turned around he was right on my wheel. What a fun day. We even got to see the famous Cyclesmith, Chocolate Girl, Raja, Robina, and Ken.
Posted by James Bigler at 2:50 PM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Amy and I stayed at the Trails End home in Asheville last week. The house was not nearly as fancy as the cabin we stayed in last year, but it was really nice to be able to roll out of your front door and on to the trails at Bent Creek. Last year driving back and forth from cabin to the trail 45 minutes each way took a lot of the fun out of our trip.
Trails End is a typical seventies style ranch with wood paneling and other 70s decor. It does have lots of room though with 8 beds, front and rear covered porch, and a rear patio and deck. My only real complaint was the septic system. We were given explicit instructions on how we could use the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry. Even though we followed those instructions the basement still flooded twice.
I am still glad we rented that place though. I had a really good week.
Amy's family came on the first couple days. We played board games, went on big group ride together, and hung out some downtown. It was really great to spend some time with them.
The day after the family left, Amy and I did a fun ride up North Boundary and down Green's Lick. I had heard about this trail, but I had never ridden it. It was a blast. The trail has huge berms and jumps all the way down. While riding Green's Lick, I was shaking I was so excited.
Towards the end of the week, it started raining and I caught a cold so our riding rapidly declined. I am still thankful for the time we had good weather and health though. It was well worth the trip.
Posted by James Bigler at 6:30 PM
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Amy and I rode Pinhoti 1 together today. This was Amy's first time riding this trail, and she rode very well. She made it through the whole trail entirely under her own power. Several times I looked backed and was shocked to see her right on my wheel. A few times I even went too slow and made her have to stop because I was in her way.
After the ride was over I asked her if she had fun. She said "yes I had a good time". He smile said otherwise so I asked "Would you like to ride this trail again?". She immediately responded "No!". We both laughed.
Pinhoti 1 is a great trail with very scenic views and a super fun downhill, but it starts with a monster of a 1 mile climb. That sucker is steep. If you are used to riding around on Atlanta's local trails, it can be a big shock to the system.
After Amy went back to the car, I rode Pinhoti 2 and Pinhoti 3. Pinhoti 3 kicked my butt. Not only did the climbs wear me out, but I had a heck of a time with the switchbacks. It has been years since I have ridden there, but my selective memory swears the last time I was there I could ride all but one of the switchbacks. Today I couldn't ride hardly any of the uphill switchbacks. I think I might have made two out of twenty switchbacks.
My mountain biker brain instantly blamed my bike and began scheming a way to improve my bike to make me a better rider. I quickly realized the last time I rode there I was on my full suspension Cannondale with 26 inch wheels. Something about my 29er must be causing me not to be able to ride a switchback. I am thinking about trying to lower my stem a little bit. I have noticed my front tire wandering on steep climbs. The other solution would be to practice more but that sounds like a lot of work.
Posted by James Bigler at 11:10 PM
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I want one of these.
The TWIKE is a human-electric hybrid vehicle, designed to carry two passengers comfortably through any weather with speed and style, and without harmful emissions of any kind. The side by side recumbent bicycle seating allows for easy conversation, whether on a morning commute or cross-country trek. Regenerative antilock braking captures energy from deceleration and puts it back into the advanced computer controlled battery, where it belongs, instead of wasting brake pads and rotors. Aircraft type components are built to last lifetimes. The advanced alloy spaceframe protects pilots from life's hard knocks.
TWIKE is the most efficient motorized vehicle on the face of the planet. Simply.
Do you think they would put a bike rack on the back for me?
Posted by James Bigler at 8:37 PM
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Laurie planned a secret birthday ride for her husband Roger this weekend. Here is a picture of the happy couple.
I had a great time riding with them on Saturday. As always they took off like a gun from the parking lot and left a trail of broken riders in their wake. I did my best to make chase. About half way through the brush creek trail I lost sight of the rider in front of me. I turned around and there was also nobody behind me. With no one to observe my wimpyness I just downshifted and spun my legs in my own slow happy pace.
Eventually the fast people stopped and let the slow people catch up. When we took off again I tried again to stay with the rider ahead of me. I noticed every time we came to a turn I would fall further behind the rider in front of me. I would sprint like crazy to catch back on after each turn but turn after turn I would keep losing more ground. I tried my best to go faster through the turns. Nothing was working though. Either my front tire would wash out or I would just blow through the outside of the turn off the trail.
Eventually I found a couple people I could keep up with. They still pulled ahead of me in the turns, but I found if I sprinted hard coming out of the turn I could catch back up before I lost too much ground. Everything was going good and I was having a great time, and the next thing I know I am rolling across the ground.
Not really sure what happened. I think I took my hands off the grips to shift and when I went to grab the shifter my bars were no longer there. All I got was handful of air. Maybe I hit a rock or maybe I just lost my balance. When I grabbed air I knew I was going to hit the ground. I actually had time though to remember a conversation I had earlier in the week about the right way to fall.
A co-worker broke her leg jumping out a airplane last week. Her husband was telling us how they tried to teach them in their skydiving class to tuck and roll when they hit the ground and not extend their arms or legs to catch their fall. I have heard of many cyclists breaking their collarbone when they crash because they stick their hand out to try and break their fall.
Somehow all this information went through my brain in the millisecond I had between the time I grabbed a handful of air and the time I hit the ground. I immediately tucked and rolled and kept my hands tight against my body. I still banged my knee and forearm a little but nothing broke. Laurie was behind and said I looked pretty funny rolling across the ground.
The rest of the ride my legs were okay but I had some serious forearm pump. I was very wary of losing my grip on the bars again. My hand strength was fading. Buying a suspension fork crossed my mind many times. Luckily I made it back to the car.
We sang Happy Birthday to Roger and Laurie gave me a piece of homemade chocolate cake. I think this was the same recipe she gave a couple years ago that I used to make Amy her birthday cake. Laurie's cake was much better than mine, but she is a professional so I wasn't really surprised.
Amy and I camped out that night at the thunder rock campground. The campground was really nice and our neighbors were much more polite then our last experience.
We rode Brush Creek again on Sunday. Amy rode 8.5 miles in less than 2 hours. Go Amy and I am so proud of you. She has really been improving lately, and I really appreciate all her hard work. She told me she thinks our weekly weeknight hill repeat rides have been a big help.
I practiced my turns all Sunday. I found if my put more weight on front tire my turns got marginally better. I tried to really push down hard towards the ground on my inside hand and put all my weight on outside foot to keep traction on both tires. I still blew a bunch of turns but I did better than Sunday. I will keep working on it.
After our ride I went for a short run to give a Amy a chance to relax and unwind before our long drive home. My legs were really worked. I walked a bunch of the hills, but it felt good to be out there trying.
Thanks to Amy and all my friends for a fun weekend. Can't wait for the next one.
Here is Laurie's post and a sorba post and Robb's post about Saturday's ride.
Posted by James Bigler at 5:56 PM
Monday, August 25, 2008
Amy had a great time at the skills clinic this weekend. She was beaming when I met her afterward. She loved Anne and Sunny and told me many stories about her day.
I also had a good time riding my bike while Amy was at her clinic. I rode over from Gainesville College to Chicopee. Then rode all of the trails at Chicopee twice. It was a fun relaxing day.
Sunday I went for a run. When I got home Amy and I practiced the drills she learned at her clinic. She seemed to enjoy yelling orders at me the most. I kinda liked it to be honest. I hope we can do the drills again soon.
Posted by James Bigler at 6:41 PM
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A while ago I had an idea to start a company called NoMoreSaddleSores.com. My plan was to rent people saddles until they found one they liked. This probably seems like a silly idea to most folks. However if you are one of the unlucky people like me who gets saddle sores from riding your bike, then this service might not seem so silly to you.
I have tried lots of different saddles, but I have never ridden one that felt like it really fits me. It is very hard to look at a picture of saddle and know if it is going to be comfortable. So the best you can do is take a guess then give YourBikePartStore.com your credit card and hope for the best.
Saddles start at $100 and many go up from there. If you guess wrong more than once or twice then you just wasted a good bit of money.
Apparently Competitive Cyclist came to the same conclusions that I did and started their own saddle demo program. Amy (having heard my crazy NoMoreSaddleSores.com idea many times) decided to surprise me on my birthday with a week rental of mountain bike saddles.
On the day the saddles came I took them all out of the box and rode them on my spin bike.
Here are my initial impressions
Fizik Gobi - This saddle is close to the right width for me. The roundness of the saddle feels a little weird though. Plus there is very little padding. The saddle seems to flex some though.
Fizik Aliante - Feels very similar to the Gobi except that the top is flat instead of round. Not as slippery as the Gobi either. Has these little Y's cut into the top to add friction. Both saddles are extremely well constructed with no seams.
Intense Sacred - Very thin. Can flex it with my pinky. Feels like it would break on the first ride. Extremely uncomfortable when riding it. Amy laughed and made fun of this one.
Maxm Ti Rail - Feels very similar to my Terry Ti Fly. Maybe a touch wider. Top of the saddle is smoother and slicker then my Terry as well. Has plush foam padding on top.
Selle Italia Yutak - Extremely weird to the touch. Feels like Styrofoam or stuff they use to make art sculptures. Shape is weird too. I threw it back in the box quickly.
Selle Italia Flite - I have tried one of these before. It is too narrow for me.
WTB Rocket - This one was too narrow for me. The shape is unique though. Has a deeper dip in the middle of the saddle.
WTB Devo - This one is very flat and very hard and very thin. It doesn't flex much. I wanted to like this one, but I am not man enough.
WTB Laser - This one might actually be too wide for even me. I could not tell if it was too wide or just not the right shape for me. It felt kinda like when you go camping and forget your pillow and try to fashion a pillow out of your jacket or something. It is kind of lumpy and disjointed. It also has a large number of seams on the top. The stitching was already coming undone on the one shipped to me. I threw it back in the box and moved on.
A couple of days later I took the two Fizik saddles and the Maxm saddle to demo on the trail at Big Creek.
First I rode a lap on my Terry Ti Fly. I had ridden a really tough ride two days before. I chased a bunch of people around that are way faster and more skilled than me for about three hours. Plus the trail was very rocky and steep. The next day I rode for 5 hours at my own pace on a much smoother trail. The combined effect of those two rides left me a little sore in my saddle area so I wanted to make sure I had a good frame of reference before I rode any of the new saddles.
After I riding my Terry, I rode the Gobi. My first impression was wow this is kinda hard. It didn't really hurt, but it didn't have the familiar inch of foam padding that my Terry does. As I rode it more though I didn't really miss the padding. The saddle seemed to get more comfortable the longer I rode. I think the foam compresses on my Terry after awhile and doesn't really do much good. Instead of using foam, this saddle seemed like it was designed to flex a little while you ride it to increase comfort. I came away at the end of the lap feeling like I liked the Gobi better than my Terry.
Next I rode the Aliante. This saddle felt very similar to the Gobi. The big difference I noticed was that end of the saddle was flared more than the Gobi. As I ride I tend to push my butt backwards across the top of my saddle. Sorry I don't know why I do this. I do know that when I do this with a flared saddle like my Terry or this Aliante I eventually get a sore on my butt right where my cheek hits the flared part of the saddle. So I gave the Aliante the thumbs down and moved on to the Maxm.
The Maxm felt very familiar. This saddle is almost a carbon copy of my Terry just a little wider. It has the same foam top and the same basic shape. I got the same flared saddle feeling when I push backwards and felt the same sore flare up. I think this saddle would be an improvement from my Terry because I need a wider saddle. I don't think it is perfect saddle for me though.
I switched back to the Gobi and rode another couple laps. Eventually my butt started hurting with this saddle as well. I don't think Gobi is perfect for me, but it is probably the best thing I have tried so far. I switched the Gobi over to my road bike and commuted to work one day on it. I didn't really learn anything new. It felt about the same as my mountain ride.
I may hunt around on ebay to see if I can find a cheap used Gobi to test further. The one week demo at competitive cyclist is a little too short for me. Plus the number of saddles they send you is kind of limited. I would have totally blown their service away with my NoMoreSaddleSores.com idea. :)
Posted by James Bigler at 1:24 PM
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Amy and I did a fun ride today at Cooper Creek WMA. Here is a pic of Amy after a long downhill.
Here I am cruising down a scenic forest service road.
Here I am checking out the view off a bridge
Here is what I was looking at
We ended up getting 13 miles in at just under 3 hours. Amy rode the whole thing without the x2cycle. Go Amy!!!
We also rode Saturday at Gainesville college. We wanted to scout the trail out a little for the clinic that Amy is going to next week. Afterwards we went to my sister's house in Dahlonega.
My niece showed me how well she can ride her bike now. She is fearless. She pedals as fast as she can downhill and can turn on a dime. I wish I had some pics to show how well she leans her bike to turn. I need to get one of those tag-a-long bikes and start taking her up to the forest roads at Bull Mtn.
Amy and I had a great time babysitting the kids. We played games, watched Babe, and ate some awesome lasagna (my favorite) that my sister made. It was a great weekend.
Posted by James Bigler at 5:48 PM
Friday, August 15, 2008
We baked our final cake and split it tonight. Snapped a quick pick just for cg.
On another note my life less wimpy has been anything but this week. Pulled a muscle in my back on Wednesday and have been gimping around ever since.
I managed to do some work on Amy's bike tonight. Turns out she has been basically riding a hardtail around ever since she bought her new bike. I thought the bike shop had setup her shock and fork pressure for her, but I was wrong. The air pressure was almost double what it is supposed to be. A big burly woman must have demoed her bike last. We dropped her pressure down and her bike should be super plush now.
We also tipped the nose of her saddle up a little and installed her computer. Hopefully she will be happy tomorrow when we hit Gainesville college. Afterwards we are heading over to my sister's house to babysit the youngins. Should be lots of fun.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:59 PM
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I cleaned up on presents
Box of saddles to demo
Portable Fan With Power
CD of cool jazz clarinet players
2 instructional clarinet books
Glen Canyon Book
Plus Amy made a really good chocolate explosion cake. The outside is cake but the inside is gooey liquid chocolate. When you dig into it the goo comes running out the cake into your ice cream. Good stuff.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:34 PM
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Just got back from TN on a fun camping and riding trip with Amy. Click on this link to chocolate girl's blog post if you want more information about the Saturday ride. There is no way I could say it any better than that.
After the ride I was wrecked. Somehow I got dehydrated and just could not think clearly. I laid around in our campsite for a couple hours drinking water. After drinking about seven thirty ounce bottles I was finally starting to perk back up. Amy and I made some sandwiches then went for walk to escape our crazy camp neighbors.
I got a good night's sleep in my brand new tent Amy got me for my birthday. It has windows everywhere and even a big skylight at the top. I woke up in the middle of the night and looked at stars until I passed back out. Thank you so much Amy for this weekend I really had a great time.
Sunday we packed up our site and headed over to Brush Creek. We rode there for a couple hours. It was our first time riding this trail and we both really enjoyed it. Amy claims it is her new favorite trail. When we got back to the car, I loaded up on more water and food and headed back out to the Tanasi trails. I did a big three hour loop there and still didn't ride everything. What an awesome trail system.
I took jmillron's advice and soaked my legs in the river after the ride so I am hoping I will still have something left for tomorrow. I tried to drink and eat as much as possible today, and I feel much better now than I did yesterday. Since I took the day off work, I might as well go do something fun.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:44 PM
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I rode by bike up to the lake just north of my work this morning to see how the other half lives. Even though it is just a couple miles away it seems like a whole other world. Last time I was there I saw all these cool sailboats. This time all I saw was a bunch of power boats. Not sure what happened.
I also took a walk after dinner. It is crazy how many people are still rushing home from work at almost 9 pm. People gunning their engines to go a hundred feet then slam on their brakes and wait again. It was cool watching the sun go down and seeing the moon and stars come out.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:11 PM
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Amy and I hit Big Creek tonight for a quick ride. I saw a bunch of people there I knew. When I pulled up they all yelled "Hey James" in unison. It made me feel really good. Sometimes I feel like James Bond, because I can meet the same person over and over again yet they never remember me. Maybe my fro makes me more distinctive now. Whatever the reason it was sure was nice to feel welcome. I am also glad Amy got to meet some of the people I talk about from the forums.
I tried to kick up our ride up a notch for my life less wimpy goal by pedaling with one leg. I mostly made it around the beginner loop. I had to switch legs when I got tired, but I only used one leg at a time. I had to push on that steep climb after the switchbacks. My legs are comically sore from trying to run yesterday. Riding made them feel better though. They loosened up on my commute to work then got sore while I sat at my desk all day then loosened up again on my ride home.
I am looking forward to Saturday. I think Amy and I are going up to Tanasi to do this ride. Then we are going to camp out Saturday night and ride again on Sunday. Should be a fun weekend.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:08 PM
Monday, August 04, 2008
I stumbled on a old house-mates blog today. I was inspired after reading about several of her adventures. She is so tough. I want to be more like her and less like a lazy couch potato so I have decided to do something about it.
I quit watching TV a couple weeks ago. That was definitely a step in the right direction. I have been mostly sleeping, reading books, and playing my clarinet with my new free time. I am thinking I can spend some of that time doing a little more exercise though.
I did start the 100 push up challenge two weeks ago. The challenge is to be able to do 100 push ups in a row after six weeks of training. I started week three today and did 100 push ups but not in a row. I took some long breaks to recover between sets.
I also did 11 pullups before riding my bike to work. Not sure about the length of my commute. I spend all day looking at computers so I don't want one of those computer things on my bike. I am guessing it is somewhere like 15-20 miles round trip.
When I got home I walked down to Big Creek and tried to run around the walking trail. I am guessing I walked like 2 miles and ran probably 3 quarters of a mile.
I think that is a good start for a life less wimpy. I wonder how long I can keep it up.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:21 PM
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Saturday I woke up and wanted to ride somewhere. My choices were heading down to Big Creek and doing my regular ride or mixing it up in traffic and picking up a chain I needed from Performance. I was feeling a little adventurous so I pumped up the tires on my road bike headed out to play in traffic.
Normally I try to avoid major roads on my bike so I found a road that seemed like it would be less traveled but still take me in the general direction I needed to go. There were less cars on this road but the shoulder was very narrow. Plus the road was super hilly so it was hard to stay out of the car's way. I almost made it to the store without incident, but I made a wrong turn and ended up having to cut through a parking lot. I wasn't exactly paying attention to where I was going and I ran right into a storm drain with slots parallel to the direction I was traveling. Next thing I know I am air borne flying through the air like super man.
Luckily I have wrecked many times and somehow managed to land on my feet. Should I really feel lucky about wrecking so many times now that I am actually good at it? After my unplanned dismount, I sheepishly looked around to see how many people just saw me wreck my bike in a parking lot. I didn't see anyone so I hopped back on my bike and road to the store. When I walked into the store the cute young lady behind the counter gave me a little snicker. I turned over my shoulder and noticed she had an excellent view of my crash. Oh well. If I want to be cool I would probably be better off buying a trans am and growing a thick mustache.
I decided to ride home on the main road instead of off the beaten path. It was actually easier because the road had multiple lanes. Cars could just pass whenever they needed to. There was one guy that tried to show me how fast his car was at a red light. He pushed me out of his way and gave me a face full of exhaust but other than that it wasn't bad at all. I think I build this stuff up in my head too much and should do more and think less.
Today Amy and I headed to Fort Yargo state park in Winder. I noticed on YABA's website that they have a beginner trail now. Ever since I told Amy about the trail, she has been asking me to take her there. Being the loving considerate man that I am I decided that I could make this sacrifice and go ride my bike on a fun new trail. I have ridden the outer loop at Yargo many times, but I never knew about the beginner trail.
The beginner trail starts out a paved sidewalk with some signs about the local wildlife. Then you branch off the sidewalk onto a bulldozed single lane dirt road through a dried up mud hole. You follow the lowlands for a couple miles then pop out on a burned down clear cut. Then you go back to the bulldozed single lane road for awhile then popup out in a RV park. Next you hop through a couple campgrounds then take a very nice scenic path along the lake. Then you cross a nice dirt dam with a good view of the lake. Then you hit some really sweet buff singletrack for a couple miles. Then you pop out on a pipeline clear cut and fly down a kudzu lined singletrack descent. Then you cross a big wooden bridge over the lake. Next you follow some nice rooty paths along the lake shore. Then you pop out in the middle of a disc golf course where the fairways are lined in mulch. After getting lost you eventually pop out back on the outer loop and get a nice easy ride back to the parking lot.
The beginner trail definitely has something for everybody. I liked that there weren't many hills and most of the trail was smooth and not technical. The distance was a little on the long side but you could definitely pack a lunch and take a nice long picnic break to split up the ride. The trail could probably use a few more signs or yellow blazes. If you get lost just remember to keep the lake on the same side the whole time and try to hug the lake as close as possible.
After Amy's fun I rode the outer loop solo. I ran into Tweety and Racey Tracey. They had just come back from a 10 hour race in North Carolina and stopped on the way home for a couple of cool down laps. Super humans I tell you. Also extremely nice and friendly people. I would like to work on my fitness a little so I can ride with them more often.
I really enjoyed the changes to the outer loop. There were little jumps and hips and drop downs every where. Someone has been working hard on making the trail more fun. They were also a bunch of re-routes that added more length and reduced the user conflicts with the other park users. They have done an excellent job.
I was able to ride everything out there except the horseshoe drop. I had ridden a similar gully on the old trail and when I saw the sign for the drop I thought that is what they were talking about. I was wrong. The new drop looks like it is three stories tall. I dropped into it no problem, but I only made it about half way up the other side. I was too scared of flipping over backwards to fully commit. So I climbed out the side of the gully.
After climbing out of the gully, I figured I could just get back on the trail and keep riding, but I was wrong again. The trail turned back on itself and dropped through the gully again. This drop only looked like 2 and half stories so I decided to give it a go. I backed up as far as possible and sprinted for the drop in. I zoomed back up the other side and only need a couple pedals to top out the other side. Woo hoo that was fun. I would love to see someone ride the other side.
I had another great weekend and I am looking forward to next week. My birthday is a week from Monday and Amy is hinting around that she might have something fun planned for next weekend. Whatever happens I am pretty sure there will be cake involved so I am very excited.
Posted by James Bigler at 4:49 PM
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Woohoo Amy got a new bike.
Saturday Bubba made it all the way around the Dwelling Loop. He walked most of the up-hills, but he rocked all the down hills. I was pretty impressed. He seemed like he had fun which is the most important part.
Today Amy and I went to Dauset. Amy took this wonderful picture of me.
I always make these terrible faces when I am riding my bike so Amy came up with a brilliant solution. That nice tree is much easier to look at.
I also saw these big ass birds. No idea what they were.
Posted by James Bigler at 7:08 PM
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Amy and I went to the Bike Demo at Blankets Creek on Saturday. She test rode the Specialized Safire again. She rode this bike in January and really liked it. Since then she has test ridden several other bikes. I think Saturday confirmed for her that the Safire is the bike she likes the best. After the test ride she talked to Kevin the owner of Outspokin bikes. I think she plans on buying her a bike this week. I am not sure who is more excited.
Sunday I did a quick ride at Big Creek. I played this game in my head where I was a fox and the guys that started after me where the hounds. I rode like crazy to try to keep ahead of them. After I thought I lost them this guy comes out of nowhere and rides past me in the freeride area. It scared the crap out of me.
Later I ran into Mike Young and his wife. Mike is super nice guy. I met him at a night ride earlier this year. He likes the rohloff on my bike and is thinking about getting one. When I ran into him on Sunday, Mike showed his wife my rohloff and she seemed to think it was pretty cool. Like Mike she also seemed really nice, and I enjoyed meeting her.
Posted by James Bigler at 5:13 PM
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Amy and I tried to cheat the weather this morning and sneak in an early ride. We didn't quite make it though. About 4 miles from the car the rain, thunder, and lightning overtook us. I am scared of lightning and had to resist my natural instincts of bolting towards the car and leaving poor Amy behind. Seriously though I was freakin and Amy was as cool as a cucumber. Every time I looked at her she was smiling and looked like she was having fun. I was impressed. Luckily the storm moved over pretty quick and we made it back to the car completely soaked but otherwise just fine.
Posted by James Bigler at 6:56 PM
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Took Bubba over to Blankets to check out the new Mosquito Bite and Van Michael Trails. We had a really good time. It was fun watching Bubba fly down hills with little fear and still keep his bike under control. Also ran into my friends Roger and Laurie. I always enjoy seeing them. They are some of the happiest, friendliest, and fun loving people I have ever met. Check out Laurie's blog to read about some of their adventures.
[Bubba has a good eye with the camera. I like this angle.]
[Full speed ahead]
[One more time]
[Bubba's first time cleaning the teeter]
[Piece of cake]
[Hardest obstacle for me]
Posted by James Bigler at 9:44 PM
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Amy and I went to her dad's farm in Virginia for an extended weekend. We did our normal routine of ride lightly and eat heavily.
On Sunday, Amy's dad showed us some dirt roads on his farm that the local fox hunt club built recently. The trails wound through the forests that surround his fields. There were some really steep hills and a couple of fun creek crossings. There were also these cool gates that horses could jump to go from the road into a cow pasture. I was a little too chicken to try jumping the gate on my bike though.
We ended riding about 6 miles. Even though we did not ride all of the trails, I felt like I saw more of the farm than I ever had seen before. I never knew the farm had so many trees or hills. Some parts of the trail were very beautiful. I especially liked the part that ran along the creek. We even got to see a fox that must have gotten away.
For the eating portion of our trip the highlight was our visit to the Bavarian Chef. When I walked in and saw they served beer in giant boots I knew I had come to the right place. I ordered the Barbarian Sausage plate with homemade kraut. Amy and her dad got the the Wiener Schnitzel. With your entrees they bring out bowls of vegetables family style. We picked mashed potatoes, red cabbage, zucchini, green beans, and carrots & apples. The potatoes were to die for. I think there must have been some kind of meat in there. Amy's dad had fun scooping a huge dollop of potato on his fork and turning it upside down to show how thick the potatoes were.
Amy has been telling me how good this place was since we first met. I am so happy she finally took me there. We are definitely going back to the Bavarian Chef the next time we go to Virginia. My treat!
Posted by James Bigler at 3:25 PM
Sunday, June 22, 2008
My nephew turned one year old on Saturday. Amy had to go to a baby shower at lunch so if I was going to get there on time we would have to drive separately. My cheapness reared it's ugly head and decided that paying for the gas to drive two cars all the way up there would be way too expensive. So I pulled up google maps and figured out is was only like 50 miles to my sister's house. I decided I would ride my bicycle there and catch a ride with Amy on the way back.
I woke up early on Saturday and the weather didn't look great but mentally I had already committed. So I headed out under a light sprinkle. I decided my family would not be pleased for me to stand around in lycra and bike shoes for the birthday party so I carried some spare clothes and flip flops in my backpack I use for commuting. I even threw a third water bottle in there just in case I got extra thirsty.
The ride up to Dahlonega was very beautiful. I saw some cool farms and rolled through a couple of town squares. The cars were all really considerate to me. A couple of super close passes and one honker but really much better than I anticipated. It helped that for the most part there was a pretty good shoulder all along Highway 9 where I could ride and cars could still pass with very little effort.
It has been awhile since I have had a good adventure and it felt good to do something that scared me a little. I have a ridden a lot of short distance rides lately but nothing of this length so I wasn't 100% sure I could make it. Even thought it took me almost 3.5 hours to get there, I felt great the whole time. I bet I could have even turned around rode right back home if I wanted to.
Once I got there my sister put on a big show and told everyone how far I rode. I have hard time feeling comfortable in these types of situations. I don't really feel like what I did was all that impressive and having someone hype me up like that makes me feel weird. Plus it leads to whole bunch of conversations where people tell me why they can't ride their bicycle. I don't know how to handle those situations either. I do my best to listen and try to understand their point of view though.
I think humans are pretty amazing and accomplish some incredible feats when they set their minds to it. I also think they can do an amazing job of coming up with reasons why something is not possible if they decide they don't want to do it. I don't think this is what these people want to hear though.
Maybe I should have just told them the truth that I was scared to do it. I had no idea if I could make it. I did it anyway though because I knew I would feel really good about myself if I did make it. Plus I carried my cell phone and figured someone would take pity on me and come get me if I bonked, got lost, or if the weather got too bad. It was not like I was going to Mars or something.
Sunday Amy and I went to a bike demo at Chicopee since Amy's bike is a little too small for her. We knew that about her bike when we bought it three years ago, but we wanted a bike with the lowest standover possible so Amy would be able to get off the bike quick if needed. Amy's skills have been rapidly improving lately, and we have been going on much longer rides together. Her poor fitting bike is causing some neck and shoulder pain so it is time to upgrade.
We got to ride three bikes at the demo. One small Gary Fisher HiFi, one medium Trek Fuel Ex, and one Gary Fisher HiFi 29er. The lady helping Amy pick out her bike was pretty funny. She was ordering around everyone telling them what bikes they should ride and what size they should ride for each one of those bikes. Finally this one guy yelled at her and said enough with the sizes. I think he was half joking but it was funny that I wasn't the only she was driving nuts. She made a crack to me about how "tame" I was for riding my bike since it has a rigid fork so I might have been just a little put off.
We were very happy to be able to ride the bikes though. The Fisher 26er was fun. It's suspension was very plush and going downhill was a blast. It wasn't much of a pedaler though. I owned two Fisher's and neither on of them every shifted of felt normal when pedaling. I think it is there trademark.
The Trek was fast fast fast. I was blowing through turns at very un-James like speeds. If I had to try and keep up with chocolate girl for the day this is the bike I would want. I did notice that the front end did not seem to soak up bumps as well as the fisher. I could feel every bump on the Fuel even though the wheel never seemed like it was out of control. It tracked really well it just let my hands know about every bump.
The Fisher 29er was disappointing. The parts on it where no where near as nice as the parts on the other bikes we rode. The Fox fork on the 29er felt like one of those crappy elastomer forks they put on K-mart bikes compared to the 5" forks we rode on the other two bikes. I ride a 29er so I was very disappointed that I couldn't like this bike the best.
Gainesville Sorba was nice enough to cook some food up on the grill. I cleared us a spot in the woods and pulled out a nice log to sit on while Amy procured our lunch (I am still waiting on my change). We had a relaxing picnic in the shade and watched that crazy lady tell people what to do. All in all pretty good day.
Posted by James Bigler at 8:04 PM
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Amy and I are not quite up for the full Winding Stair Loop so we have been riding the loop section by section. Today we rode from Cooper Gap over to Hightower Gap with a little side trip down Rock Creek Rd to the lake.
I don't know the name of the lake but it is very beautiful. When we pulled up to it today there were a couple of kids paddling a bright red canoe on a deep blue lake surrounded by tall bright green grass with a backdrop of a ridge filled with dark green trees bordered by a light blue sky. I wish I had a camera so I could show you what I am talking about.
We hiked down to the lake shore and sat there awhile just taking it all in. It was a nice way to have lunch. We noticed that these people had parked on the road, gotten there canoe out, and ferried there camping gear across the lake. Then they setup their camp on the far side of the lake. What a great idea. They had total privacy.
The ride back to the car started out with a nice 3 mile climb. Amy handled it like a champ though. We only stopped once and that was completely my suggestion. I never heard a peep out of her today about needing a break. I think we ended up with 12 miles total.
After our ride we stopped at the Crimson Moon on the square. They had live mountain music. I really enjoyed listening to them, and I can't wait to go there again.
Had a funny experience there though. I was waiting in line for the bathroom, and this lady was taking a really long time. When she finally finished, I went in the bathroom and had to hold my breath it smelled so bad. When I got back to the table I start telling Amy the whole story and really exaggerate the story to make Amy laugh. A few minutes later I look over my shoulder and guess who is sitting right behind me. The stinky lady gives me a nice big smile. Whoops.
When I got home I called my dad. He seemed in good spirits. I don't think he reads this but just in case HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!! You are the best.
Posted by James Bigler at 10:25 PM
Monday, June 09, 2008
Amy and I spent last weekend in Ellijay. Ellijay is my favorite place to ride bikes in Georgia. Unfortunately the drive to Ellijay takes about an hour and a half.
Dreading having to turn around and drive right back home after riding, Amy and I decided to camp out Saturday night and spend the weekend. Amy found a cool place to camp right next to the Pinhoti 3 trail. The place she found Mulberry Gap has both bunkhouses and campsites. If you call ahead, they will even cook your meals for you.
We got up early on Saturday loaded up my car and headed to Ellijay. We parked on Gates Chapel road at the bottom of Bear creek. Then we headed up FS90 to start of the Pinhoti 2. Amy and I rode with our x2cycle tandem all the way to where the downhill starts on the Pinhoti. Then we separated our bikes and rode down to Conasauga Rd at our pace. After the super fun downhill, we connected our bikes again and headed back to the car via Shakerag.
After our fun ride we went to Corks and Crumbs on the square. Amy claims she likes to go there for the chicken salad sandwiches, but I really think it is because of the huge selection of homemade desserts. We loaded up on both and then went over to Cartecay bike's new location right off the square.
I spent a fair amount of time oogling over the bikes and bike toys. I also chatted a little with Kevin and Mike. There are both really cool guys. I met Kevin at the women's clinic earlier this year. His wife was helping chocolate girl teach the class, and Amy was attending the class. Kevin took us on a hard ride up Owltown Rd and over to the River and Boyscout Loop. Mike fit me a long time ago on my bike and spent a long time with me giving me tips and how to pedal and how to do well in a race. After indulging myself with only a small purchase of socks we headed over to Mulberry Gap.
We met Diane there and she gave us a tour of the facilities. They have these tiny wooden cabins called bunkhouses that contain you guessed it bunk beds. They also have fans and a heater. The have a large eating and gathering areas full of books, maps, and board games. There is a huge bath house with showers and toilets. There are a pair of koi ponds and pair of hot tubs. There are two large campsites with picnic tables and electric hookups. There is also a large grass field for primitive camping.
After the tour Diane showed us to our campsite. We relaxed awhile in our chairs then got busy setting up camp. I spent way too much time trying to find the most level spot and rid my spot of any sharp rocks. By the time I got the tent up dinner was ready. Ginni made us homemade organic chicken with new potatoes and green peas. We also had a really good salad and warm bread and even an oreo pie for dessert. It was delicious.
After dinner Amy and I played scrabble. I impressed Amy with my knowledge of two and three letter words. Since I took about 10 minutes to come up with each of my words it was almost time to go to bed by the time we finished our game. I read a little bit, washed up, and then went to bed.
The next morning we woke up early and started breaking down camp. Ginni and Diane had breakfast ready for us before we could finish. We feasted on blueberry pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, coffee, and orange juice. I felt like a king.
After breakfast we hung out a little and talked to Ginni and Diane. There are warm, funny, and a joy to be around. Eventually they had to get ready to go help out at the Carter's Lake race so we said our goodbyes and headed back to our camp. We finished packing up and then headed over to Bear Creek.
We rode up the Bear Creek trail to the Pinhoti connector and then over to the Bear Creek Loop Road. For the first time we were able to stay connected on our x2cycle the whole way up even on the singletrack. Once we got to the start of the singletrack downhill we disconnected and rode back down to the car.
We both had a great time even though we were both really sore and tired when we woke up this morning. I can't wait to do it again.
Posted by James Bigler at 7:17 PM
Monday, May 05, 2008
Amy and I rode my nephew this weekend at Red Top Mountain State Park. Bubba and I have ridden there together before. We had a good time showing Amy the beautiful trails there.
We also had a lot of fun climbing on trees,
hanging out in forts,
and heading down to the lake
to skip rocks.
At the end of the ride I asked Bubba if he wanted to go again next month. He replied how about in a couple of weeks. We negotiated to three weeks if the weather is good.
Posted by James Bigler at 2:01 PM
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Amy and I went to the New Orleans Jazz Fest last weekend. We had a great time. My cousin Holly and her husband live there, and they were nice enough to let us stay with them.
On Friday we saw Alison Krauss and Robert Plant perform on Friday. I wasn't sure how that combination would work together but they pulled it off really well. They sang some popular songs from both of their pasts and also sang some songs I had never heard before. On Saturday we saw a really good tribute to George Lewis. It was so good it made we want to buy a clarinet and learn to play.
Sunday Holly and John took us on tour of the 9th Ward and St Benard Parish to show the devastation of Katrina. It was unbelievable. Miles of neighborhoods completely abandoned. Everything was destroyed.
We drove back yesterday and going back to work today was really hard. Hanging out, drinking, eating good food, and listening to music is a lot more than working.
Posted by James Bigler at 7:19 PM
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Amy and I conquered Cooper Gap on our x2cycle today. We parked at Camp Wahsega so our return ride would be all downhill. We planned to leave everything on the climb. :)
The ride started off with a bad omen. Two ambulances and a cop cruiser came flying by us heading towards Turner Creek. We shook it off quickly though and had nothing but good vibes the rest of the day. I hope whoever they were coming for is okay.
Amy climbed like a rock star. She was breathing easy enough to hold a conversation all the way until the very end where we hit the real steep stuff. When we got to the top she even asked if we could keep going to see the dry waterfall on 42.
The weather was amazing. I wore shorts with arm warmers and was super comfortable. The dogwoods were blooming and half the trees were this beautiful yellow green color. We stopped for awhile by the cabin and took in the beautiful views.
The downhill made up for all the climbing. My arms were flapping around like crazy over some of the brake bumps. It was hilarious.
Next time I think we might park at the top of Cooper Gap and ride over to Hightower Gap to see the lake. Maybe Amy will drive the car back down from Cooper Gap and let me enjoy the downhill again.
Posted by James Bigler at 7:16 PM
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Couldn't work up the motivation for driving up to North Georgia this weekend. Instead Amy and I rode from the house over to Big Creek. We went the back way through the subdivision north of the park and hopped on the Greenway.
We came to the entrance of the Freeride area, and I talked Amy into climbing up to the top of the hill. I got up to the top thinking I would be waiting for a little while for Amy to catch up but she was right there. I was impressed.
We rode back down to the bottom of the hill, and I talked Amy into doing a loop around the advanced and intermediate trails. It was nice change of pace from our normal loops on the beginner trails.
When we got back from our loop I had the bright idea for Amy to time me to see how long it would take to climb up to the top of the hill and come back down again. I have been doing a lot of super slow commuting but not really any high intensity stuff. Going full out up the hill was a shock to the system. I broke 4 minutes but just barely. I think I gave the freerider dudes some good laughs while they watched me run the gully at full speed. It was not pretty. :)
The second time I tried it I felt like my throat and lungs were literally burning. I have heard the expression before, but I think that was the first time I really understood what people were talking about. It sucked. I was less than 10 seconds slower the second time but it felt like minutes. I gotta do that again some time.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:54 PM
Monday, April 07, 2008
Trails were too wet this weekend for the fun stuff. Headed up to Bull to ride some forest roads.
Stepping out of the car I could feel my feet sinking into the clay. Apparently even the locals were having this problem.
I have always wondered what is on the other side of this sign.
One time I road past it for a couple hundred yards. The trail dumped into a large field. The grass was short so I could have kept riding, but I decided I had left Amy alone long enough and turned back. One day I will figure it out.
I also have always wanted to find the waterfall on 77A. We headed over that way but turned back when a school bus pulling a trailer full of horses passed us. Since we would have to turn around at the dead end I decided it wasn't worth spooking the horses. The waterfall will have to wait till another day.
This is my favorite picture of the day.
I love the creek and dark trees.
My sister called us on the way home. We met them for some BBQ and live music at the Swallow in the Hollow. Cool place.
Posted by James Bigler at 9:18 PM