Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shoulda Been Here Yesterday!

The old surf adage about getting burned on a surf trip, and then some local always points out, "You shoulda been here yesterday!", seems to have been a theme for the cycling part of our weekend trip. In reality, "yesterday" wouldn't have been any better. Four or five days ago, maybe, but not yesterday.

The rain that tore through the Eastern US reeked its havoc in North Georgia. We knew that Saturday's ride plans were a bust, before we left. 100% chance of rain left little doubt. But we hoped for a ride on Sunday, albeit a muddy one. We awoke early Sunday morning, ate a hotel breakfast, and drove the 40 minutes south from Dahlonega to Gainesville, to ride Chicopee. It took us long enough to get there, driving winding mountain roads, that I was already doing the math to see how much time we had to ride, and still get back in time for the wedding. When we rounded the corner to the parking lot, that problem was no longer an issue. A big red Closed! sign hung from the gate. There was a small crew of people in the lot so we swung in to find a work party heading out to clean up after the weeks storms. Now, I'd like to say we jumped out and played the Ambassadors of Tallahassee mountain biking, offering to drag limbs and shovel dirt as needed. But that wouldn't be true. Instead, like good travelers seeking a ride, we asked if anything would be open in the area. Not very noble, I know, but truthful. Anyway, one of the guys suggested driving further south, to Ft. Yargo. Since that was the plan for tomorrow, and the extra driving time just wouldn't allow us to get back in time for the wedding today, we returned slightly defeated, to Dahlonega.

On the way back, I just wasn't too keen on sitting in the hotel room, waiting to play dress up for the wedding. So we decided to drive up to Camp Wahsega, where Fool's Gold 50/100 is held in August. It gave me a chance to show Mrs. Worm around the mountain where Silk threw down last year(while Mingo, Micro and myself grabbed another hour and a half of shuteye). We drove about half of the 10 mile climb that starts that race. It's hard to convey, in words, a hill that goes up that long, this far south. She finally understood what I had been yammering about. We had a blast driving the mountain roads, even though knobbys had not yet touched dirt.

On the way back to the hotel, we swung through the Celtic Festival going on in downtown Dahlonega, and grabbed meat pies, bridies, and sausage rolls for lunch. Some Scottish shortbread for dessert, and we were in business!

Monday rolled around, and I was more than amped to be riding. We did another hotel breakfast, and were gone by 8am. We drove the same mountain roads as the day before, back through Gainesville, on our way to Winder, where we would ride the Ft Yargo trails. A couple of years ago, I went and watched Marcus look like he was drowning at an Xterra event here. While that partially cured his tri-geek phase, he raved about the trails, so I was looking forward to seeing what he saw. Besides, we're racing there in April, and I can see if maybe my new ride is a better choice for this trail, over the Titus. We pull in the lot, ready to work out the weekend kinks and, Closed! I'm getting a little tired of being mocked by this six letter word.

By now my frustration was boiling to the surface, and my demeanor was less than pleasant. My poor wife, I'm sure, was questioning her sanity for committing a lifetime to me. I was tired of long detours in search of trail, only to get skunked time and time again. We made a beeline for the Interstate, and headed south. Somewhere on I-675 I calmed downed, and decided to make one last ditch effort to ride. We jumped off I-75 and headed for Dauset. Finally luck was with us, and the gate was open. We peered tentatively at the kiosk, expecting another buzz kill, but all was good. The trails were definitely more muddy that I would've liked, but nowhere near as bad as the last time I came up with the crew. So we managed to get in and hour and a half of woods time, that salvaged the mountain bike portion of our trip.

Afterwards we hit JL's for BBQ, and then stopped at Stripling's for a late afternoon snack. It seemed that all was finally well with the world again.

Oh yeah, we did do the whole wedding thing on Sunday. Yours truly managed to forget his nice shirt, so a last minute trip was made to some hiking store in downtown Dahlonega, to find that the only long sleeve shirts they had were Patagonia. Ouch! It's a nice shirt, but damn! I hope I wear it more often, maybe next winter. Or, maybe it will find its way on eBay, to recoup some of the expense. On the way to the cheesy castle used for the wedding site, we passed a Wally World. Now I hate shopping at the big W, but I probably would have gotten a more usable shirt, for about a third of the price. Oh well, I'll chalk it up to supporting the N. GA economy. I'll call it, "Bigworm's Economic Stimulus Due to Poor Planning Plan".

Being in the mountains was great, and Mrs. Worm commented on moving there more than once. But as usual, it's still good to be home.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Chicken for Big Jim

This rain is much needed, but it's interfering with my fun! I guess I need to regroup, and learn to roll with the punches again. The reality is, the rain is only causing minor problems in my riding schedule, but when you get obsessed about every ride, as if it's the most important thing of the day, you lose perspective.

Now right about now, Markus is thinking I'm talking myself out of my focus on upcoming races, and the necessary riding it takes to do well. That couldn't be further from the truth. Racing bikes and riding bikes are both great fun for me, but it's a delicate tightrope walk, to keep the fun and the work in check. Silk possesses a single minded focus for training that, in and of itself, is impressive. But he never rides with anyone, unless it fits his training plan of the day. I'm too social for all that. Markus is giving it his big shot at the Expert Class this year, and with a certain event looming in his future, this is his best chance to shoot for the stars.

I don't have any driving force, other than my typical competitive streak. My wife was making fun of me last night, when a commercial for Rascals came on the TV. You know what I'm talking about, those little electric grocery getter carts for the elderly. I told her I'd be all for it, as long as my friends had them too. We'd pick who had the biggest house, set up a course, and have someone yell, GO! She commented on the big smile on the Old Man cruising around his house, and I assured her it was because he had the jump on his buddy, coming out of the dining room corner.

Anyway, I'm competitive and hate taking beatings like I did last weekend in Macon. Good God, that course hurt! But, I'm not going to add stress to my life... scratch that. I'm going to TRY not to add stress to my life, just to focus on feeling good at half a dozen races this year. I'll definitely ramp up the efforts, and put a little more hurt in the rides, but I can't afford mentally, to freak out every time the rain, or life, causes me to miss an interval day. Strangely, I look forward to the hurt and the efforts, but I have to control the obsession.

This weekend, I'm flying wingman for my wife. She feels obligated to go to the wedding of a long time male friend. However, as could be expected, his fiance is super jealous of their friendship. She doesn't know my Ol' Lady, and just makes things uncomfortable whenever, Mrs.Worm is around. So, I told her I'd go up as a support structure, so she didn't wind up isolated and miserable.

The upside to all of this is that the wedding is in Dahlonega, GA., mountain bike paradise! The wedding is Sunday afternoon, so we'll be taking a three day weekend. Unfortunately, the weather has reared its ugly head, and storms are scheduled through Saturday night. Lovely travel weather, huh? I've decided to ditch the I-75 torture fest, and take us up 19, all the way to Atlanta. Should be slower, but way less accident prone. I know we'll be stopping by Striplings, because, "You never sausage a place!" Anything else we need to see on our journey? If you know of anything just off the beaten path, let me know. Because with a whole day of rain, we'll be simply focused on getting to Dahlonega, as stress free as possible, and should have plenty of time for sightseeing.
If all goes well, we'll be riding at Chickopee and Ft. Yargo this weekend. Hopefully the deluge stops in time for the trails to dry a little. Bull Mountain is the ultimate trail system to ride in Dahlonega, but that beast tends to be an eye opener. I don't need it opening my Ol' Lady's eyes wide enough that she realizes who she's committed her life to, so we'll keep to easier trails.

I thought about leaving tonight, but then got a text about a possible group dinner. Now that sounds like fun, so I'll probably focus on packing the 4 Runner tonight, and hang out with the crew instead. We can always leave bright and early, and besides, it would save a little dough. Not to mention that chilling around the dinner table with the gang is a rare occasion these days, and will likely be well worth the wait. I think that fits perfectly with the Big Picture plan.
Enjoy the Chicken, Big Jim.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

Just a few more hours, Big Jim...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two Days and Counting

Daylight Savings has arrived again, and it seems it brought Spring along for the ride. For some of us, that means time to change the routine.

Personally, I'm stoked! I always look forward to the changing of the season, both meterologically, and cycle-logically. When Fall rolls around, we charge our lights, dig out our cold weather gear, and begin the new season of night rides. It's usually a welcome relief from the same ol' same ol'. But by the time we spring our clocks forward again, I'm damn tired of keeping my lights charged, doing a full load of laundry after every ride, and having my neck be sore from that light on my helmet!

Tonight, we ride sans lights, and with the nice weather, sans cold weather gear.

But more importantly, we're just two days from this year's first JOE'S RIDE!! Time to dust off the skinny tired rigs, and climb into the midst of the whirring, twirling, ever amorphous, conglomeration of juniors, old folks, sketchers, mountain bikers, and loud mouths, that is the Joe's Ride. Can't wait! I chattered about it so much on last week's mountain bike rides, that Big Jim Slade's anxiety became palpable. So much for the confidence he gained by his first sport class win at the Red Bug Challenge. Now all he can think about is staying upright in the corners, or hoping none of the juniors are too mean to him. Don't worry, Big Jim, if they get too rowdy, we'll just send in Facebook to correct the issue. He seems to enjoy conflict within the confines of the Killearney trafficways. Old or young, he'll take on all comers.

I promise that as he reads this, Wrecking Ball is already thinking of other things to do on Thursdays. I'll let him get away with it a little, but there will be no shut outs, W.B.!

Micro will be on the sideline, as Spanish Mackerel says he should be, so that his little girl can cheer on the group, as we climb that damn hill in front of his home.

With any luck, Red Dragon will be on comeback #235,598,456 and will show up to show us the fastest 30 minutes in cycling.

Can't wait!

Two days and counting!

See ya Thursday!