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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Reader Mail and that time we almost got taken out by a BBQ Grill...

Dear Fatmarc,

I thought this was a bike blog? What the hell man? All I've read about recently has been vacation, skateboarding, and very little about actually riding bikes. I mean do you even bike bro?

Concerned in Cleveland.

Dear Concerned in Cleveland,

Since my set back in April, and my brief skateboarding renaissance, I have actually been riding a bike. Knee is getting better, but is not 100% yet. I've been putting in about 6 hours a week, and while I'm hungry for more, I'm trying to play this smart. I keep telling myself, get the knee right before the fitness can be right. I'm careful watching my numbers and not doing to much. I've been stoked to be able to sit in on some of the local trail rides, and spent lots of time riding my mountain bike on flat fire roads around the canal. But just to keep all the "cuter than James Franco" fans in Cleveland happy here's a couple of pictures from today's ride with Buddy and Diane:

and here's a video of a BBQ Grill that almost took us out:

music by the amazing Biz Markie and the Beastie Boys

thanks for reading Cleveland, and everyone else too!


Friday, May 29, 2015

Playing TOO Hard

Dear Readers,

Crashed my brother's time share in FL for a couple of days. It was an awesome time. We ate too much, drank too much and generally were rowdy and carried on. AMAZING Time!

Being the OCD dude I am about my weight I noted these fluctuations:
186 lbs - the peak of my weight during my 6 weeks off the bike
176.2 lbs- weight last Saturday after months of calorie counting and finally getting riding
181 lbs- weight after returning from an amazing quick vacation

worth every pound and every calorie. SO GOOD.

Diane and I had an amazing time. Such a great trip. We came home exhausted and appropriately destroyed.

The pups are super cuddly right now.

vacation photo blog starts now:

Snack Time!
Making that Hat Work!

Hangover Baby Glasses Kill me.

Dad-Bods of the world UNITE!

Chilling with little Monkey!

"My Shoulders are so sunburned!!!"

All Smiles! 
What's in your wallet?

Love this shot! 

A little context is nice...

Surf's Up! 

Two Monkeys in a raft! 

It was a great quick get away.
Just the mental break that I think I needed.

that said, it's good to be home.

thanks for reading.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

First Punk Rock Show, 16 minutes of Awesomeness, and Throwing Myself at the Ground

Dear Readers,

My First Show:

I went to my first punk rock show in the fall of 1985. I was 14 years old. The show as at the Bacchus Theater at the University. The line up was Phantom Tollbooth, Ant Farm, Marcus Hook, and I believe it was Zen Guerrilla, but my memory may be failing me, it could be have been Caterpillar. Maybe both, maybe it was neither... I saw those two bands a lot, so that adds to the confusion. I'll be honest I wasn't drawn to punk rock music through the music, it was the idea that there was this amazing world that existed that was completely outside the high school hierarchy that I never felt comfortable in. I've always loved sub-cultures and frankly counter cultures. That show opened a new world of possibilities for me. Who cares if some meat-head slammed me into a locker at school, he was just a meat-head: that was just miserable high school. But outside of school, was an entire larger world.  I was angsty, and unconfident, and not all that bright.  I was trying to figure out who the hell I was. That show, I learned there was more out there... School was something to survive until you could get out into a bigger and much different world... I was never a punk rocker, just a kid riding a skateboard... And that, that has made all the difference...

Sixteen Minutes of Awesomeness:

At the advisement of those closest to me, I have been venturing out a bit on the bike again. I love riding my bike. Tuesday my knee was okay, but not great. I still wanted to get out. I was pressed for time so couldn't get to the flats so I went out the front door and over to Fairhill. I was lucky to catch on with one of the Tuesday Night Rides. I was scared to go too deep into the park, I just didn't trust my knee enough to not hurt myself climbing back out. So I stayed with the group around the upper edges. Sharon, the ride leader noticed I was there, and she kindly checked on me. She drifted back in the group to keep an eye on me. That was appreciated.  I sat in the group for 16 awesome minutes. It was pretty amazing. The group dynamic was different from what I am used to, but familiar in that it was a little dicey, but really friendly. Between my lack of fitness and fears of knee setback, I used a lot of deception and guile to stay in my place. I'd try to move up in the group in open areas, so I'd have room to drop back and not be dropped.  I chatted  with my buddy  Dave, who I know through skateboarding 20 years ago. It felt great to be apart of that moving, flowing living organism known as mountain-bike group ride. I was really stoked to be riding fairhill again. I truly miss riding those trails. As the group turned towards the heart of the park and the valley below, I cut off the path and spun home with a huge smile on my face. Baby Steps...

Throwing Myself on the Ground:

My confidence on the skateboard has grown in the past few weeks. I still can't really do anything other than carve. I have, however slowly tried to expand what exactly carving means. I inhabit two skateparks: Handloff (Barksdale) and Phillips. Handloff is much more fun. Phillips I don't really like. However, Phillips has a nice little quarter-pipe and I've been able to learn things and transfer them at speed back to Handloff.  So last night, I went back to Phillips with a small list of things I wanted to learn:

frontside carve
rock and roll
frontside 50/50

I was not having a good night. I would be very cautious to ever call my skating flowy, but last night it was really bad. My foot placement felt funny on the board. I couldn't relax or get comfortable. I did accomplish 2/3 of the moves I wanted to learn, but in the process I also threw myself on the ground more than I have during this little skate renaissance.

Diane pulled me aside, and commented, " I'm not happy with the velocity or severity that you are throwing yourself at the ground tonight. You don't bounce."

I replied, "I'm not happy with that either, I've never bounced..."

I did one more shaky-ass-sketchy-but-I-made-it rock and roll on the quarter-pipe, and we headed off to half priced nacho night.

I am convinced that skateboarding has helped my knee. The lateral applied movements have been better than any stretching or strengthening exercise I have been doing. It goes without saying that mentally it's kept me sane. That said, I'm not 19 anymore, I can't throttle myself again like I did last night. If I break my ankle, I won't be back on the bike anytime sooner...

Oh, yeah- the nachos were delicious.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

More tales of the Old Man at the Skatepark

Dear Readers,

I went back to Phillips Park Skate Spot in Newark, DE last night. When I went there the park was pretty full. There was probably 8 dudes in their early twenties. These guys were killing it. I never stopped watching skateboard videos, but seeing these guys do kick flips at will, 360 flips and nollie flips in person was rad. The videos don't do them justice.

I am rarely intimidated, but I admit I was a little. But I also knew I had an hour to skate, so I worked in. The old dude on the old school board doing kick turns, while the kids crushed it all around me. It was fun. I was kinda just stoked to be a part of it. In general, I like to think of myself as a positive guy, so as the kids would land ridiculous tricks, I'd find myself saying, "nice!" or "sweet" in an encouraging and appreciative way. While not intentional, I was so stoked to be a part of this session, even if at some level I was just getting in the way of these guys.

A funny thing happened. On the larger quarter pipe, I got a good head of steam and got a nice little backside grind on it, I was stoked, as I couldn't come close to the coping last week. As I was rolling back down the transition I heard one of the kids say, "nice.." The already big smile on my face got bigger... Maybe I wasn't in the way as much as I thought I was...

My hour was almost up. I watched a kid in a tie die shirt do a double kick flip down four stairs and pop out of the quarter pipe I was standing on. I dropped in carved around the park and cruised back to the quarter pipe. I carved to the top and did a 50/50 on the coping. The board cruised across the coping maybe 2-3 inches. I was stoked.  After another quick kick turn I popped up out of the transition and the tie die kid says to me, "hey man, that was cool. I can never get those to grind." I'll admit to you reader that I can't predict when I'm going to do a 50/50 grind or stall. I just roll up to the coping and well, hope for what physics gives me. I replied, "thanks man I was stoked to pull that, then again I can't kick flip down four stairs!" he smiled, and said, "fair enough!" We both laughed.

My hour was up, and I thanked the guys that were still skating as I left.
That was fun...


Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Honey, I'm going skating..."

Dear Readers,

Friday afternoon, I uttered these words,"Honey, I'm going skating.." words I haven't spoken in well over twenty years, as I headed off to the smaller of Newark's two skate parks...

Let me rewind a bit.

A week earlier in a fit of frustration and rage, and pretty much ready to sell all my bikes, I ordered a new skateboard. I applied the logic that I didn't need to pedal, just roll and pump, so it shouldn't aggravate my knee. In shopping I was excited to find there was a market for larger old school shaped board.. I found one from Black Label Skateboards that had exactly what I was looking for...
BL Lucero skateboard.. OJ wheels, Indy trucks... 

Somewhere after ordering the board, I decided that this was a bad idea, and frankly could only make my current knee situation worse. I checked in at AHTMB, and saw that ole Stevil at pretty much destroyed himself skating. I had made up my mind that no way was I going to skate. It was a bad purchase and I'd get Fort James to help me Ebay it as soon as it came in.

But then it arrived, and it took all of 2 seconds for me to speak these words, "honey, I'm going skating!"

As we parked at the small skate park along the Newark Bike Path, Diane, who came along, "in case things go horribly wrong" looked at me stone cold serious and said" it's my birthday we aren't spending this evening in the emergency room. Have fun, don't get hurt!"

When I got to the park there were 2 dudes on bikes, and another dude skating. I walked up and said, hey guys can I work in?" The guys were all very cool. "Sure thing." the skater said. I cautioned them, "I haven't ridden a skateboard in 20 years, this could go really badly." They all laughed. I rolled down the bank, and carved around the park. I went to the quarter pipe and pumped for the top. I did a kick turn and cruised across the park and  back up the bank with a huge smile on my face. I was SCARED TO DEATH, but euphoric at the same time. I couldn't believe how fast concrete was, how smooth the park was- how FUN it was. I was totally stoked. One of the BMX dudes looked at me and said," for twenty years man, that looked pretty good!" And then I just worked in with them.

It took me 5 more passes before I could finally get my rear truck to hit the coping and grind. It may have been the world's smallest grind, but I heard it and felt it in an oddly familiar way. As I rolled across the flat of the park  I could feel the smile explode across my face. I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
the smile after the first grind.  should have had a helmet on-
 this was not the most thought out plan...
Diane snapped some pictures and laughed at me. What's up with those crazy arms failing? Admittedly, there were a few times that I was kind out of control. 20 years ago, I prided myself on being smooth, today I prided myself in not having to be taken out on a back board!

After hitting a few more grinds, I jogged up the quarter and set up to drop in. "Easy there cowbody!" Monkey said to me. "you're going good, let's not push our luck too much!" I agreed. I left the park that night exhausted, sweaty and totally stoked. I can't really do any tricks, I can't push (similar to the pedal motion for goofy-footed me)  but I can carve. That is amazing.

The next two mornings I was up early and headed down to the larger park in Newark (Barksdale). Funny thing at 7am I had the park to myself both days. Diane jokingly called it the coffee grind.
Love it.
most aero dynamic helmet at the park.  Sachs hat too. 
Coffee Grind! Get it!
I would just take long runs carving around the park. 10 minutes at shot. Grind on a the two quarter pipes, get speed on the bumps... It was fantastic. I was terrified. I was stoked, and even now as I type this exhausted from skating, I am smiling ear to ear. I am also already scheming about skating sometime next week.
Diane took a spin around the park this morning herself! 
I am hopeful that my knee continues to improve and I dream about riding my bike and climbing and racing and all the adventures I love having on my bike - but you know I had a ton of fun skating this weekend. And so long as I can't ride you know where you can find me: at the coffee grind!

thanks for reading.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Set Back

Dear Readers,

I've had a bit of a set back in my recovery. To some extent both physical and mental. I've taken myself off the bike again, although I'm not 100% sure that's right...

let me explain...

Cycling and Racing have always been interlocked for me. As I have documented on the Cuter than James Franco Blog, my first mountain-bike ride was a race. I had struggled early on in this injury with decoupling racing and riding. I had gotten pretty comfortable with the idea that I wouldn't be racing this year. Frankly, I feel like I was able to work through that pretty well.

Physically, I had been improving. Following 6 weeks off the bike, I started with 3 weeks of very easy riding, graduating to 3 weeks of endurance paced riding.

The first week of endurance riding was joyous. I rode middle run for the first time marshaling and sweeping the Enoch Lee Run. I did an amazing group ride on the canal roads and lums. I racked up 6 hours that week. My best since January. Best of all- the knee felt great, I was losing a little more weight. I felt great. I was stoked, and hope was bountiful.

The second week of endurance riding, things went to shit. I did a ride that was my hardest climbing wise since January, but not crazy, and I rode at a reasonable pace. I kept myself in check. Before the ride my knee was a little achy, the night after the ride it had gone to shit. Bad feedback as my doctor called it-  I did too much. Maybe the barometric pressure set off my knee. Maybe I did too many steps. Fuck, I have no idea.  I hate trying to figure out what caused it to go to shit. So I took a couple days off. The knee was sore the entire time, and tried to ride again on Friday. Again, I could do the ride, no pain- but it wasn't right... It was still weird.. not normal... Same kinda of not normal all weekend, so I didn't ride. I did wallow in my own mire a bit. And after not drinking for a couple of months, I may have done a cannonball back into that pool. Not my best look.

So I pulled the plug again. Mentally, I still have hope, but I find myself in a bit of a quandry... I can ride but should I ride?  I don't really want to play a game of see how close to the line I can go with our causing negative feedback and a setback. I am gambling on just staying off and letting everything heal before I start again. I want to ride, I miss it, It's part of who I am, but I hoping I'm better off just staying off the bike all together and resting. I keep repeating my new mantra: RICE Rest, ICE, Compression and Elevation.  I want to walk around without a weird feeling knee. I want to be able to ride a bike and ride a bike, not soft pedal everything...

I recognize I haven't been the most pleasant guy to be around, because if nothing else, I'm not sure what the next steps are... I'm a pretty easy guy, I'm hard wired for goals. I like to think I'm pretty Gritty, and look for the long haul. It doesn't seem like I have a clear recovery path here. That's very frustrating. The million dollar ride has been my anchoring goal all spring- and frankly I think that's out now. I don't want to play lets push the line. I'm just staying of the bike for a bit. I'll admit that has me struggling a bit...

Look, I have an amazing wife, who has been a saint lately. great family and great friends. Perhaps at this time I am meant to be 180lb dude, who used to ride bikes. Who knows. I have been getting some of the honey dew list tackled.  I have a training seminar I've been looking forward to, it's half priced nacho night, and I have fully operational garage doors. So, I've got that going for me.

Strange days indeed...

And so, that's my world right now...

thanks for reading.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Wednesday is half priced nacho night...

Dear Readers,

Wednesday is half priced nacho night.

Nachos have been half priced  on Wednesday nights at Deer Park Tavern in Newark, as long as I can remember. It has certainly been a thing longer than the 24+ years than Monk and I have been together. Half Priced Nacho Night is one of our traditions. Oh, when we started going it was as part of a larger group of friends- usually after a ride. Over the years we've met friends and been happy to introduce them to half priced nachos. When Diane was out of work, it was a $5 meal that we could afford, enjoy and share. We look forward to it... We don't go every week, but often enough.
Photo via food spotting
This last week, we made the call over coffee as we got ready for work. It was a plan we were excited about. We were, dare I say,  stoked for half priced nacho night. Throughout the day, we sent each other emails: "Do you know what day it is?" " what's on Wednesday and awesome?"  That's right, half priced nacho night! We laughed about it...

So Wednesday night, our young server came to our table and she explained the menu. She reviewed the specials and said, "tonight is half priced nacho night." I smiled at Diane and said, "did you hear that honey, it's half priced nacho night. What a surprise!  That sounds very good, I think we are in!"

the young server looked at me like I was stranger than I actually am.

I explained, "we've been emailing each other all day about half priced nachos, it's been a tradition for us for at least 20 years or so."

The server looked totally disgusted.
Photo via my I Phone

It was a little awkward.

I asked her, "is it that strange that we would swap emails all day and get excited about nachos?" "Is there something about the nacho quality we should know about?"

the server smiled and said, "of course not, the nachos are great, but I can't believe you guys were emailing each other. Why wouldn't you just text? I mean, isn't texting better?

Everyone Laughed...

she continued, "so I'm guessing you're in for nachos any drinks?"

more smiles...

by the way, the nachos were great Wednesday night.

thanks for reading.