28 April 2010

News of the day

So they say Southern life is "slower," and they generally say the same thing about rural living as well. I guess you can kind of classify the Asheville basin as both Southern and rural, especially as you get further away from the city proper, near like, say, Hendersonville, where we live. Add to that the mountain influence, and you'd darn near think we were catatonic, right?

While that's not quite true, I do get a kick out of our local news. As a former journo and self-avowed news hound, all of a sudden I find myself in a strange black hole -- I've no television, and the only headlines I see are from the two local papers: the Asheville Citizen-Times and Hendersonville Times-News. After years of checking the Chicago Tribune on a more or less hourly basis, I have to admit my whole concept of news has changed -- it's amazingly liberating to not buy into the infotainment that is passing as "news" these days. I mean, how many stories about Blago or CPS or Drew Peterson do you really need? What happened to the investigative work of old? What gets published today just feeds the instant-access monster, and it feels fantastic not to buy in. (Or has it always been this way?! God forbid!)

So instead, I check the "headlines" once or twice a day, and haven't been to the Trib web site since New Year's. None of it applies to me, and if there's a big enough story that affects me, I'll likely find out about it eventually. But in the meantime, I can focus on the important things in life, and not be bogged down with all the crap. And boy am I happier for it!

I just had to share our major headlines in Hendersonville today, as an example. These are in descending order as of about 10:30 this morning -- mind you, this is important stuff around here!

Admittedly, the Hendersonville paper focuses on local high school sports and small-town gatherings more than the Asheville paper does -- the Citizen-Times regularly publishes updates on entertainment tidbits, and seems obsessed with Biggest Loser -- but no matter which way you look at it, I've become unplugged from the angst that seems to be plaguing the country and the world. Stories about chickens and cows and Vicks VapoRub? This is what my life has become, and I love it!

18 April 2010

The Otter

What an amazing year at Sea Otter. To have it all come together like this for my first big show on behalf of Cane Creek was unbelievable. Great friends, great rides, great weather ... we'll be reminiscing about this one for years to come.

A couple of observations:
  • Folks in NoCal are very pushy and very self-righteous. I maybe didn't notice it so much coming from Chicago, but it is quite the culture shock coming from North Carolina.
  • We were blessed with three absolutely perfect days at the Otter. This never happens. I predict 10 years of apocolyptic strife to come. :-)
  • I was not impressed with the pro XC course. The beginner women had a more fun course than the pros. I was keen to race it next year -- now I'm not so sure.
  • Just a few months in Pisgah has changed my riding style and preferences. I used to think the Laguna Seca course was a little challenging and sort of fun, for what it is. Not anymore!
  • Folks in the bike industry are awesome. I'm so glad I've found my place among them.
  • Mary Collier is a rock star. Just wait until you see Ride the Divide. It will move you to tears.
  • A few years back, watching the sun set over Monterey Bay, I reflected that I "had" to go home to Chicago. As much fun as this week has been, I have to admit that I can't wait to get back to Asheville. I think I've found a home.

Safe travels to all my bike-geek Friends -- see you at Interbike!

04 April 2010

The Top 10 Things I've Learned About Pisgah (so far)


10. Maps are guides, and rough guides at that.

9. Forest Service roads do, in fact, just end.

8. At some point, the trail will go up (even if you're headed down).

7. It's a lot further than you think (see No. 10).

6. Any trail named "Gap," "Cove," "Mountain," "Creek," "River," "Loop," "Rock," "Fork," or "Branch" means you will get wet.

5. Every trail is named "Gap," "Cove," "Mountain," "Creek," "River," "Loop," "Rock," "Fork," or "Branch."

4. The difference between "riding Pisgah well" and just "riding Pisgah" could be very painful.

3. Always pack more than you think you need.

2. "Epic" isn't an adjective, it's a way of life.

1. Always bring dry socks.

02 April 2010

Legends

In case you're wondering, yes: I realize how good I've got it. Sure, I miss Kim and Kate, but they'll be here soon, and for all the challenges this move has presented, the upside potential hasn't even been tapped.

The pedals are spinning, the boxes are getting checked off, and I'm communing with legends. Coontree. Bennett. Maxwell. Black/Clawhammer. Buckwheat. Bennett. Coontree. Davidson River. Long Branch. Cat Gap. Some people wait their whole lives to ride these trails. Some folks dream, and never do. For me, it's a convenient excuse to start my holiday weekend a little early.

How did I get to be so lucky?

01 April 2010

"Camp"

Crazy times down here in WNC. April is roaring in like a lion, all 80 degrees and bountiful sunshine. We've been hit with a Wisco invasion of training camps -- I saw Maciej's group at DuPont last weekend, Claire is here somewhere, as is Katie, and I'm riding with the Melcher crew tomorrow down at Davidson. (Can you say "Clawhammer?!") What's this? They give you Good Friday off in the Bible Belt?!

Since I'm headed back through Chicago next week, I'm missing Easter with the family for the first time in, well, ever. To dull the pain, or rather to inflict more, I'm going big before I go back: Davidson/Fish Hatchery today, Davidson tomorrow, and then two big days somewhere in Pisgah this weekend. I figure it's my first dedicated "camp" of the year, not quite Arizona but pretty great in its own way ... and a perfect early-season preamble to what is rapidly becoming the focus of my racing season ...

In other news, work is going gangbusters, better than any of us could have imagined. I wish I could take more credit for it, but it's really a great push forward that's been building for about a year now, if not longer. I'm contributing, but I'm also riding the wave ... The energy in the air is palpable here at 355 Cane Creek Road, and things are fun. It's a great place to be.

And last but not least, I bought my one-way ticket to Chicago yesterday. I'll be flying back for Mother's Day, and then Kim, Kate and I will drive home to North Carolina just after. I'm pretty sure that's the best birthday present I've ever gotten.

Enjoy the ride!