Thursday, August 31, 2006

In Vino Veritas

It’s Thursday, and right now that means two things to me. First, it is half-price bottle of wine night at Baker-Peters Jazz Club, and Mrs. Guy and I are going. Second, I have a certain self-imposed obligation to post trivia questions (you know you want them). I am happy to report that more and more people are submitting answers these days, which would become apparent if I could only get my act together and update the standings. I am hereby challenging myself to do that tomorrow (and remember, you heard it here first).

OK, as always, there are Rules to follow for this little quiz, and also as always, please send your answers to bgoab (at) mindspring (dot) com.

Ready? Let’s begin.

1. What is the most visited national park in the US?

2. What British general's surrender at the Siege of Yorktown effectively signaled the beginning of the end of the American Revolutionary War?

3. What was the common nickname used by pirate Edward Teach?

4. There are three Orders of classical architecture. They are Doric, Ionic, and _______?

5. In Roman mythology, who was the goddess of the hunt?

Bonus Question: Who was her Greek mythology counterpart?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Canis Interruptus

I finally got out to ride this evening. I was a little later getting out than I'd hoped, so I knew it would have to be a shorted ride. Also, the skies way off to the west looked ominous. For that reason alone I chose to stay within a reasonable distance of home.

I decided to ... well, no, let's not say I decided to. I ended up riding a bit of a cloverleaf type of path through the Karns area of west Knoxville. Saying that I decided to implies that I planned it at some point. I really didn't. I really just let the bike steer me where it wanted to go. What I mean by that is that I just picked a new direction on whatever whim came to me at each intersection point. No real thought was applied, except that I didn't want to get more than ten miles from the house at any point.

As I wound my way around Karns, letting my mind wander about here and there, I found myself doing a lot more sprinting than I would have liked to do (I would have liked 'none', in fact). Every dog has its day, I have heard, and I think that day was today. There were dogs out everywhere. Even at house where I knew there were dogs, it seems that the owners had decided to let them off the leash, or carelessly left a gate open, or, well, you get the idea. I could get away from most of them easily enough, but there were three that I actually had to stop for.

I really hate having to stop for a dog. It's only the larger, faster dogs. Usually there's just one (at a time) and I am able to keep my bike between me and them until they get bored, the owners call them off, or I can walk (angling the bike as needed) out of their 'territory'. The first was called back by an apologetic owner. The next two got me as a pair, but thankfully they weren't smart enough to try to out-flank me (I do only ride one bike, after all). I was able to get away from them when a car came by slowly and distracted/confused them.

I didn't worry too much about the dark skies off west for a good while, as they weren't really advancing any, but when I noticed that the wind had shifted and was blowing west (it usually comes from the West), I thought it might be high time to head on back toward the house. Just as I was angling to negotiate a rather rough section of railroad tracks, Mrs. Guy called (her timing is uncanny). I had to skid to a stop so I didn't end up face-down on the tracks (or just past them).

Mrs. Guy: Is it as nice there as it is here in Nashville?
Big Guy: Yeah, it's a nice enough evening, but its looking bad just west. I'm trying to get home before a storm hits.
MG: Yeah, it's just beautiful here. I'm walking back from dinner and its really pleasant.
BG: Uh huh. It's been nice here so far, but I'm trying to get home before I get rained on.
MG: Have you called Jeff about dinner tomorrow?
BG: I will as soon as I get home...which is where I'm trying to get to.
MG: See where they want to go, 'cause you may have to call for reservations.
BG: Sure, Dear. As soon as I get home. Which I hope will be soon.
MG: Sounds like you're trying to get home. I won't keep you. Call me later.
BG: 'kay.


Well, I did get home before I got rained on, but not before I had another problem. Remember that I mentioned skidding to a stop? Well, I've been riding on an old set of tires, and the skid apparently was enough to cause a slow leak. By the time I turned into the neighborhood it was getting really squidgy (biker-speak for 'hard to control'), and I had to let the last dog chase along at my heels until it got close enough for me to shower it with Gatorade from my waterbottle. I do find that to be effective to stop them, though it cuts down on the amount available for consumption during the ride. That close to home I just let him have it.

I wonder if the owners will notice how sticky he will be later tonight?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I sepnt my morning wandering around in a hot and humid building escorting a couple of subcontract bidders around so they could do estimates. I was wearing a reflective vest due to potential traffic in the building. Vests are not very well ventivated. It didn't take much (plus climbing up and down a few sets of stairs a few dozen times) to drench my shirt. Yuck.

I went to lunch with a few coworkers after I'd had a little time to cool (and dry) off. It started raining while we were gone, so I got to walk back through the parking lot from the far end (all the close-up places disappear during lunch) through the rain. Hmm. Wet again.

This evening I was planning on riding, but the thunderstorms have hit my part of East Tennessee. That stopped my from riding, but it didn't stop me from feeling that I needed to do something about the dead-flat tire on the station wagon. It wasn't raining hard while I was changing it, but I worked up another good sweat while doing it, plus the little bit of rain that was falling. Soaking wet again.

I was considering riding to the Post Office, but I can still hear the occasional thunder, so no go on that one. I think I'll go get soaking wet one more time, on purpose, in the shower. At least I'll have a towel close at hand so I can dry off easily.

Will I ride tomorrow? Tune in and find out...

Monday, August 28, 2006


That's what I did yesterday. I painted. I painted a countertop I'm building (well, I put polyurethane on it, but I did use a paintbrush). I finished painting the master bath. I painted the front and rear door frames. I didn't get much else done ('cept laundry), but that was enough to keep me busy. I certainly didn't get to ride any.

Today at work I was outside all morning climbing ladders and such. It wasn't an especially hot day, but I got overheated anyway, likely from the exertion and humidity as much as from anything else. I still don't feel fully recovered from that. So I didn't ride tonight.

I really must ride tomorrow. Going more that two days in a row off of the bike can be detrimental to my conditioning, my overall weight-loss program, and not least of all my sanity. Maybe I should say "especially my sanity."

I'm starting to go through withdrawals.

...and the mountain bike is calling me... (Soon, soon. Be patient just a little longer.)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bird's the Word

I went for a ride today. For someone who advertises himself as a Big Guy on a Bicycle, I sure haven’t seemed to spend all that much time on that aforementioned bicycle recently. But I did today, so the appellation sticks.

I met John H. and Duane at Duane’s house. From there we rode one or two miles to meet up with Gary B., who I’ve met before, but haven’t spent much time riding with. He and John H. have done a lot of riding together though, including this year’s edition of RAGBRAI. I must do that one someday.

We headed south, and hadn’t gotten far before they were describing the roads to me and the turns we were taking. “Uh, guys? I know I live out in West Knox and all, but I do an awful lot of riding in this area.” That worked for the most part. I think that on our whole 38 mile ride, there were maybe three miles of road I hadn’t been on before…maybe.

I really don’t get to ride with Duane or John all that often either, because I was a little surprised at John’s tendency to ride off the front every time he got to the front of the paceline or every time the road went up. He’s turning into a very good climber, but I hope he’ll remember not to accelerate each time he gets to the front.

Gary led us on a well-paced ride, calling out the lefts, rights, and straights at each intersection. He obviously rides those roads a lot more than I do, since he knew exactly what route would give us the right ride distance of around 40 miles.

Gary and I were riding along beside each other on Neubert Springs Road when I hit, well, something. It flew in from the right side of the road and hit me square in the chest, both startling me and knocking a bit of the wind out of me. Then it started buzzing like a chainsaw. It took a few seconds for it to find its way back off of me, but it eventually flew off again. I think the whole event lasted maybe five seconds, but it was five seconds too long. “What was that? A bird?” asked John. “No, it was a bug of some kind,” I replied. “It was huge, what ever it was,” said John. “Yeah. That it was.” I’m just glad it didn’t go down my shirt, because I probably would have crashed.

We climbed up the big hill on Neubert Springs to the top, with John and Duane taking the top honors in that order. I wasn’t too far behind Duane, but well out of distance to outsprint him to the peak. Gary came up last, but I think he’d been riding a little before meeting us, and he and I had been on the front for most of the ride (except up the hills). Gary left for home from there and the three of us left over turned back and rocketed down the hill we’d just climbed back toward Duane’s. John learned a valuable lesson on the descent. He may climb fast, but when it comes to the downhills, it’s best to just move on over and get out of the Big Guy’s way.

By the way, old trivia answers are back on the old blog site.

Friday, August 25, 2006

...And Then There Were Eight

Oh Pluto, we hardly knew ye. Relegated to the far nether regions of the solar system, you have dimly touched our imaginations for lo these many years. Only relatively recently had you become once again the ninth planet from the Sun (after spending a number of years closer to the Sun than Neptune due to your slightly elliptical orbit). But no longer. Poor little Pluto…perhaps it just was never really meant to be.

I have followed with more than passing interest the news coming from the proceedings of the International Astronomical Union during the last several days. It seemed that your planetary status would be confirmed once and for all at first, and even that you would be joined in the celestial dance of solar system planets by three others. Perhaps it was their fault that you got kicked out of the club. We should learn from this how important it can be which friends you ought to associate with. Perhaps it all stemmed from a reluctance to admit ‘Xena’, but they knew they couldn’t keep her out and keep you in?

Well Pluto, I suppose that this news will not be too great a heartbreak for you. After all, it may be some time before you even hear the news of your demotion to ‘Dwarf Planet’ (though some ‘political correctness’ group is probably already working on a less derogatory appellation – perhaps ‘Planetoid of Lesser Mass’ or some other such foolishness). No, I suppose your existence will continue on much the same as it always has. Frigid, dark nights followed by frigid, only slightly less dark days. At least you still have Charon there to commiserate with and to keep you company.

Oh, and the good news is that NASA’s ‘New Horizons’ spacecraft is still on its way for a visit. I should arrive in a little less than nine years, so be looking forward to that. Sadly, it won’t be able to stay long, but it’s the best thing we’ve got going, and given the latest news, I wouldn’t be expecting much more than that if I were you. At least not until we humans master the science of space flight at high velocities anyway, and then we’ll likely only stop long enough to put up a few billboards for the passing Kuiper Belt Cruise Lines ships to see. We’re kinda like that down here.

Perhaps it’s for the best, really. You are at least getting a lot of attention right now down here. Some folks say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, after all. Sadly, the furor and ruckus will all calm down after a brief time – at least by the time Tom Cruise or Paris Hilton do something newsworthy. Hmm, that reminds me – I haven’t checked CNN yet today, so it could already have happened for all I know.

Still, you’ll always be a planet to me.

[OK Neptune, move to the back of the line. Yeah, that's right. Move along now, move along...]

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Trivia Moves Over

As of today, I am officially moving the weekly trivia contest over here to this site. I will update the standings and put them up in a table as soon as I have time to figure out just how to do it (in my copious free time - that's sarcasm, in case you couldn't tell).

So, here are the weekly questions. As always, please email your answers to bgoab (at) mindspring (dot) com and read the Rules if you haven't already.

  1. What was the first James Bond:007 film to star Sean Connery?
  2. I’m standing in a pool of water and yell “Marco!” What should you do?
  3. If I go to a store and ask to buy a product in ‘HO Scale’, what am I likely buying?
  4. C8H10N4O2 is the molecular formula for what popular substance?
  5. What are the red properties in Monopoly (that is, name them)?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The 52 - Big Ed's Pizza

No post last evening. Sorry, but I ran completely out of time. I went to visit Elle (pronounced “L-E”, not “L”) again at the hospital and take her a book, followed by dinner at home and couch time with Mrs. Guy. The blog loses that contest.

But regardless, I am here tonight to report on the second installation of “The 52”. I am proud to present the following report on a local classic – Big Ed’s Pizza. Here goes my second ever restaurant review.

Nestled deep into the original heart and soul of downtown Oak Ridge, Tennessee – AKA the Secret City – is the famous Big Ed’s Pizza, and it deserves every bit of fame that it has garnered over the years. Big Ed himself was a legend in these quarters, though he has been dead now for several years. Ed Neusel was a former Marine who decided to open a simple pizza place, but it turned out to be so much more than that. Big Ed decided early on to employ mostly high school students, many of whom came to consider him a second father – maybe even the only father figure for a few of them. The story goes that Big Ed even took in to his own home some of those of less fortunate situations.

Big Ed was also a firm believer in supporting the local community at large, and local school sports in particular, and was by all accounts a very charitable man. But he had the look of a man you wouldn’t want to anger. I remember going to Big Ed’s back while he was still around, and his presence at the end of the counter in the back of the joint was palpable. But enough of the history, let’s talk about today.

Mrs. Guy and I arrived at Big Ed’s at around 6:45 pm and grabbed a table (no such thing as a hostess to seat you). All of the tables are similar in decoration, with a red and white checkerboard plastic tablecloth and a napkin dispenser (with the table numbers prominently painted on the sides), and small menu cards next to that. We grabbed a table with six chairs (most of the tables have six chairs – this is not an intimate escape) beneath the large picture of Big Ed in half shadows (it seemed appropriate). Looking around the walls, you can’t help but be astounded by the sheer amount of memorabilia that Big Ed collected and has displayed in the cavernous dining room. Jeff showed up soon after, so we went ahead and ordered drinks (Coke and Diet Coke all around) and our pizzas. Gabe was running a bit late, but managed to show up right as the pizzas were delivered to the table.

Mrs. Guy and I shared our usual pizza choice, a medium (12 inch) with pepperoni and green peppers. Jeff had ordered a large, half with mushrooms, black olives and onions for Gabe, and the other half with mushrooms, pepperoni, and green olives (at least I think I remember that’s what they had). All of the pizzas come with thin crusts, and a pizza cutter never touches them before you get them – they use scissors for that, cutting them into eight even slices. There’s usually a little extra grease collected up on the pepperoni, but I find that the napkin dispenser provides sufficient instruments of relief for that. One word of warning, though; the pizza comes to the table very hot. I frequently burn the roof of my mouth on the first bite, even though I know what’s coming. It’s just a tradition for me.

We settled easily into conversation, sometimes even having sidebar conversations with people at other tables. Big Ed’s is a very friendly place, after all. I find that pizza goes down best with good conversation in a comfortable surrounding. All of us were pleased with the food, as evidenced by the complete and utter lack of even pieces of crust at meal’s end.

You can have better food than what’s at Big Ed’s. You can eat in nicer surroundings than Big Ed’s. You can get better service (though our service was good tonight) at other places. So why go to Big Ed’s? It’s hard to define, but Big Ed’s is just the right place to go. It’s all about Big Ed’s Pizza being exactly what Big Ed’s Pizza should be. I can’t say it much better than that.

A few points of interest about Big Ed’s:
- The Neusel family still runs the place. I noticed Big Ed’s son there working tonight. But you can still feel Big Ed’s presence (especially if you sit under his picture, I guess).
- Your pizza comes with paper plates and plastic forks. The plates are the very small size (maybe five inches in diameter?). The forks are practically useless. All part of the charm.
- Big Ed’s is almost always boisterous (except on Friday nights after a high school football game if the Oak Ridge Wildcats lost – then it’s still packed, but a bit more somber). Tonight there were at least four large groups with tables pulled together.
- If you want dessert after your meal, you can always stop at the convenience mart down the street for a candy bar. That’s as it should be.
- We went to Seattle back in April of 2000. Mrs. Guy and I went to the fountain next to the Key Arena. We saw a young man wearing a Big Ed’s Pizza T-shirt. Distance from Big Ed’s to the Key Arena fountain? According to Google Earth, its 2,095.57 miles as the crow flies. About 2,600 miles by car.
- Our only complaint is the lack of a ‘No Smoking’ section, but you just have to be willing to get over that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What the...(ZOOM!!!)

As I was driving home from work today I got into the usual afternoon commute traffic on the highways, byways, and interstate. Since my commute is 25 miles each way (though it was 30 miles this afternoon since I added a stop at the Post Office), I often get to see quite a cross section of drivers. Some are a little more passive than others, and some are a little more aggressive. I tend to fall, admittedly, somewhere in the middle. Most are pretty close to an acceptable norm.

Among all of the other drivers that participate with me in the afternoon vehicular ballet, there is usually one – though not always even one, but usually not more than two – who are really passionate about getting to their final destination (it’s up to you to judge how I meant that last part). They will dart and weave, they will pass at ludicrous speed (kudos if you name the reference), and they will dive through gaps that by most people’s estimations just don’t exist. This afternoon I saw three.

The first came flying up behind me on a curvy two-lane highway at a rate I’d guess was 20 miles per hour faster than the speed limit (which was 55 mph). They then attached themselves to my bumper even though I had a number of cars in front of me and couldn’t have gone faster even if I’d wanted to. They wasted no time passing me (with great emphasis) as I merged onto I-40, and then proceeded to disappear in and out of traffic at a dizzying pace.

The next flew by after passing another car that was in the left lane (I was in the right, a little ahead) and buzzed so tight to me that I’d swear I felt the breeze. They, too, disappeared in and out of merging traffic where I-40 and I-75 come together west of Knoxville. They were a bit less graceful than the first driver, and left a trail of braking cars in their heady wake.

The last to ‘impress’ me with their feats of derring-do came up on me as I was moving over into the far right lane near the Post Office exit. I had signaled my intent with my turn signal light. They signaled their intent with an aggressive dive around me to the right, which I fortunatley saw coming with my Jedi-like skill for predicting the traffic habits of people going 30 to 40 (I kid you not) miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit. As soon as they were (mostly) around me, they crossed back over three lanes to the left and proceeded on from there along the asphalt slalom course, whipping left, then right, then left, then…well, I took the exit, so I don’t know what happened after that.

Now, here’s the interesting part. All three of them had something in common (other than the obvious need for speed). They all had handicap plates on their cars. Plates, not hang tags on the rear-view mirrors. That tells me that whatever disability there is must be of a permanent or long-term nature. But in view of their driving style(s), it begs the question:

Is this how they got that way? (Or maybe it’s how they got their handicapped passenger that way?) Or are they perhaps suicidal, wishing to end their suffering in a blaze of glory, and they just don’t really care who they take with them?

Be careful out there folks. They, or other drivers of questionable methods, may be headed your way.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Planning Our Own Obsolescence

It’s getting harder and harder to do the right things in America, at least from a energy conservation point of view. Today I offer up a case in point. In part for my own health, and in part to help save gasoline, I have decided that I will start walking a lot more. Easy enough to do in my own neighborhood for simple exercise, but I have been trying to expand this idea into other facets of daily life, such as while out doing shopping errands and the like. That’s not so easy. I know people who will drive 200 yards from in front of Target to find a parking space in front of the Wal-Mart. I know a lot of people who do that.

With advent of the automobile came the beginnings of the Age of Convenience (another time I will expound on it’s devastating effect on the American waistline). Even so, it wasn’t until the 1980’s and 1990’s that I really noticed that things were shifting on a basic level (and even to some extent before that). You see, back in the day, they used to build these things called ‘sidewalks’. A type of person once referred to as a ‘pedestrian’ could use these sidewalks to ambulate from one locale to another. It was a pretty simple concept, really. Walking, I mean. Ever since the dawn of the Age of Man we’ve used our legs and feet for something other than manipulating pedals that alternately speed up or slow down motorized vehicles. At least we used to.

What I have seen happening is the tendency for developers of shopping outlets to streamline access for the largest common denominator - that is, cars – and ignore all other things that aren’t cars. It really hit home recently, though. A few months ago Mrs. Guy and I traveled by car to the closest shopping mall so I could look for jeans and she could buy whatever it was she was there to buy that I’ve already forgotten. We also needed to go to a bookstore in a shopping strip just across the road from the mall. We decided that it was a nice day and we were fully capable of doing so, so we set out to walk from JCPenney across Morrell Road to Borders Bookstore. Big mistake. On that side of the mall lot there are two inlet/outlet roads that cut down a slope from the parking lot to the road. They are amazingly busy (so we decided not to risk our lives by walking on them. There are no sidewalks. There also isn’t a way to walk across the grass down to the road level without likely twisting an ankle or worse on the drop-off. You can’t even walk along the side of the access roads due to the heavy amount of landscaping. Stymied. You can’t get there from here, at least not on foot.

Since that day I’ve paid special attention to new developments around town. Things are not improving. There’s a new large shopping development near my home. The developers were encouraged to include some amount of access for people without cars, and also to accommodate a planned Greenway Trail that may eventually run from west Knox County through downtown Knoxville and beyond. OK, they put in the greenway trail. I was happy about that, at least at first. The trail gave me a paved route to ride that avoids the now heavy traffic through the shopping area. Other people started using it too. It was very common on my rides through there to meet a half-dozen cyclists and at least as many walkers and joggers. Unfortunately, no one seems to want to maintain the trail. New construction backed right up to it from the start, along with the muddy run-off that builders are supposed to control (but don’t since enforcement is laughable). Sometimes the work crews will run heavy machinery across it, busting up the asphalt and creating large holes. But yesterday, oh yesterday, the honeymoon officially came to a rather abrupt end.

I rode my bike yesterday afternoon. It was a nice enough day, and I knew rain was forecast for today. I decided on a whim to go through the greenway trail area and loop around to the west for my ride. I got to the trail and started out, noting that nobody has mowed in the area in weeks, and that the playground area behind the natural foods grocery store was about overgrown. Keeping on, I noted that there were definitely some areas of paving that could stand patching, but nothing so bad I might disappear into and never be heard from again. And then I crested the top of the slope and…

…there was a fence across the trail. They are building a new Bass Pro Shop (like we needed another one), and the work crews have co-opted their entire parcel of land PLUS the ‘public’ parkland that the trail sits on. A rather large bulldozer was idling right in the middle of my intended path, but I couldn’t even get to him anyway due to the fence. I had to turn around, ride back about ¼ mile to the parking lot behind World Market, and go brave the raceway that is the road through the shopping district. The insult added to my injury came when a large dump truck pulled out from the Bass Pro Shop lot right in front of me and coated me and my bike (and waterbottles, and sunglasses, and lungs, and…) with a fine layer of dust. I looked like I’d just come from mountain biking on a dry day, not from a long road ride.

So tomorrow I will call the Knox County Engineer’s office, to see who – if anyone- gave them permission to block off and use public park space for commercial interests. And then I think I will discuss the local zoning ordinances with them vis-à-vis alternative transportation. Think I’ll get anywhere? Maybe. I did get them to re-time a set of traffic lights a few years ago.

Time to go be a squeaky wheel, I suppose.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I'd planned on a 25 to 30 mile ride yesterday. I hadn't been on the bike since hurting my knee last Saturday, so I wanted an easy ride. John B. had wanted to go as well, but he ended up getting bogged down in pre-vacation errands (they left fo the beach today). I'd decided to go to the Bike Zoo and get a new helmet to replace my other one. The suspension had developed a crack in it, so out with the old and in with the new. I was also supposed to pick up a disc of photos that Elle said she'd have there for me.

My plan from there was to ride the Third Creek Bike Trail over to downtown, and then maybe head south from there. I went in to get the helmet and my plans changed rather quickly.

Gary: "Did you hear about Elle?"
Big Guy: "Um, no. What about Elle? I noticed she's not here."
G: "Yeah, she had a bad wreck last night on her bike. Broke her clavicle, three ribs, and her pelvis."
BG: "Yikes!?! Where is she now? How is she doing?"
Steve: "We just heard from Vick. They've got her a room finally. He's over there with her now."
BG: "I guess I'll head over there before riding then."

Steve sold me a new helmet and I headed over to UT Hospital to see Elle. Meryl and Vick were there with her, and had been with her for a while. Elle was still as upbeat as always, even though she was obviously in a good deal of pain (and having some nausea from the pain meds). Vick left when some other friends of Elle's showed up with her daughter, and Meryl and I left about an hour after I'd gotten there when even more friends showed up. Elle is a popular person. Part of that whole 'being upbeat' thing, I'd guess.

It was too late to ride south of town as it was getting too close to 5:00, and the heavier traffic that goes along with that. Instead I headed to the Boulevard hoping to get in 15 to 20 miles. I met up with Caroline and well, I don't know her name, but she teaches at UT and is a friend of Caroline's. I rode 20 miles with them at an easy recovery ride pace and didn't push the knee too hard.

I went out again this afternoon and rode 24 miles on a loop from the house. between the two rides, I can now say this much. The knee is ... ehh ... OK, I guess. It's a little tender when I push a little to get over a hill or something, but I can compensate for that a little in other ways. The biggest thing I've found is related more to the three months I spent off the bike. I have power, but no endurance. That is, except for the times when I have endurance, but no power. But then again, there are times when I have just a little bit of power, and a smattering of endurance. I certainly don't have both at the same time, but at least I don't seem to be bereft of both at once entirely, either.

I feel like I usually do in early Spring. I've got a lot of work to do.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The 52 - Oodles Uncorked

Or is it OodlesUncorked? I’m not really certain right now, but it doesn’t really matter. Let’s just call it Oodles and be done with it.

Last night was the first of our new ‘52’ series (as mentioned in a previous blog post), wherein Mrs. Guy and I, and possibly some friends, go to a different restaurant each week. The ground rules are that it can’t be part of a chain (e.g., Ruby Tuesdays) unless it is a small local chain (i.e., no more than two restaurants by the same name), and if it is a local chain, we can’t go to one and then the other and count them both. What this encourages us to do is branch out and go to as many different local home-grown places as possible. We gained a few unexpected favorites the last time we did this back in the early ‘90s, but many of those places are gone now.

As may soon be the case with last night’s choice. Ooodles is owned by a local entrepreneur husband and wife team who are currently under federal indictment. It is entirely possible that the government might seize their assets, including several stores, a couple of local night clubs, and the restaurant. This would be sad, since I really like their business establishments. Another twist in this tale is that one of our favorite local chefs recently closed his own place and ended up as the new head chef at Oodles. From talking to him last night, I’m guessing he might feel that the sword of Damocles might be hanging over his new job.

But all that aside for a moment, I am now going to start my very first restaurant review.


Nestled into Market Square in downtown Knoxville, among several other worthy eateries, there exists a dining establishment that the Guys have tried only once before, and we were not overly impressed at that time. However, with a new chef comes a new menu, and the spirit of ‘The 52’ called us, and our friends Jeff and Gabe, to Oodles Uncorked. Entering the door, one may wait for the rest of their party (as Jeff and Gabe did last night) or grab a pre-dinner drink in the bar adjacent to the Maitre d’s stand. After checking in with the hostess, Gabe and I were escorted back to a table while Jeff took his time and Mrs. Guy was parking her car. At the very back of the long narrow space is the counter and kitchen, and our table was just to the side of that. Excellent location for conversing with the chef, I must say.

Our waitress brought water out, along with the Blackberry Mint Lemonade that Jeff asked for, while we perused the menus. We started with a couple of small plates, with Jeff ordering the Artichoke Hearts stuffed with pecans and gorgonzola, while Mrs. Guy decided on the Cheese Plate, which came with three cheeses – white cheddar, brie, and gorgonzola – and a number of fruits and nuts. Delicious, though and quite a generous portion. This was accompanied with bread and butter that the chef had made earlier in the day.

I was the only one to have another dish before the entrees, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of the Yellow Tomato Bisque. I think the others were holding off on soup or salad to save room for the dessert course. As far as I’m concerned, there’s always room for dessert (did I mention I’m a Big Guy?).

The entrees of choice arrived after a reasonable period of table conversation (Jeff and I are both movie buffs, though his knowledge is a bit more encyclopedic than mine). Gabe had gone the vegetarian route and ordered the Wild Mushroom Pasta. Jeff enjoyed one of my old favorites from our chef, the Pasta Arrabiata. Mrs. Guy took the chef’s recommendation from the Specials Board and had the Paneed Pork Chops in a Brown Butter Bourbon Sauce. And for me? I also visited the Specials Board, but with a twist. I stopped listening to all descriptions of the specials once the Swordfish was mentioned. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The chef overheard me discussing it with the waitress and interjected that he would have to change the sauce for it, but that he’d be happy to do it for me. Why, you might ask? Well, I have a shellfish allergy, and the original sauce was shellfish-based. This is why I like this chef. He knows me and does his best to look out for me. So I ended up with the same Bourbon Sauce (Mmmm), along with Grits and some type of salsa over the top (I should have asked, but didn't).

Dinner was remarkably delicious. All patrons at our table were happy and satisfied, and Mrs. Guy and I especially since we shared a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to go with our meal. Jeff and Gabe declined to share our bottle since they had both driven separately and had to leave right after dinner was over. Gabe, in fact, had to leave before the dessert course to go visit someone in the hospital, but Jeff was kind enough to order dessert for her to take home with him.

I like to experiment with desserts, especially when there are so many that sound so wonderful as they did last night. However, both Jeff and Mrs. Guy ordered before I did and ordered the same thing (Jeff even ordered the same to take home to Gabe). Now, there’s nothing wrong with ordering what you like, but I do encourage folks to branch out and try new things. I will have to work harder on this crowd in the future. So, while they all had the Blackberry Chocolate Mousse – which was very nice – I had to try the Crème Caramel, which was astoundingly good. Of course, I did also have a few bites of the mousse.

So, I give Oodles very high marks, which was agreed upon by all four of us involved in the inaugural ‘52’ episode. Still, if you are reading this and are in the Knoxville area, I would suggest you go sooner rather than later. You never know how fast the Federal case will move or just how much evidence of wrong-doing they might have on the owners. Sad case, but a very good restaurant.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Psst. It's trivia night on the old blog. See the link to right.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On Wounded Knee

Somebody sent me an email yesterday. I didn't get it until today because I got home and promptly fell asleep for several hours, and then had to go to the post office and grocery store and then to sleep (well, at least I tried to get to sleep, but a long nap late in the day really messes up my internal clock). I never got to email or anything, so the message - and this post - had to wait until today.

The subject of said email was, basically, "Hey, Big Guy," (except they used my real name.) "How's your left knee doing?" Well, let me tell you.

My left knee feels great. I'm not limping on it at all today (or yesterday, for that matter). It isn't sore at all. It hasn't been popping or creaking or anything. I feel like I could run several miles on it, or even ride a century with it, with no problems at all. Yes, all in all I must say that my left knee is doing quite well, so thanks for asking.

(You know where I'm going with this, don't you?)

My right knee, however, has been a mess. That isn't really all that surprising to me, considering that the right knee is the one I injured on Saturday. Still, it has been getting better, especially since I've been giving it a rest and not forcing it to go on any long runs or rides like the left knee is trying to talk me into.

It hurt a lot on Sunday, but I tried my best to hide that at the wedding shower I went to (the better to avoid having to tell the injury story several dozens of times. I think only one person noticed my flinch at one point as I stepped wrong, but they were nice enough to not make a big deal of it after I threatened them with bodily harm and mental anguish. (I didn't actually threaten them with bodily harm or mental anguish - as far as you know).

Monday was a little better, as I was able to stay at my desk for a large part of the day and stay off of it. It still gave me little twinges as I moved around a little, but nothing so onerous that I couldn't handle it.

Yesterday it was better still. I was back to spending more time in the field, but didn't have to stress it too much. I could still feel it - oh yeah - but the pain was less and certainly not constant.
Today it felt almost normal, except for one little painful episode when I missed a step off of a curb. Yeah, I felt that all right. I think I'm about ready to get back on the bike again, and in fact have plans to do so on Friday morning. I'll be taking it as easy as I can to start with to hopefully prevent re-injury. I truly don't want to spend the next several months dealing with yet another nagging injury.

But yeah, the left knee is doing fine (so at least I've got that going for me).

Monday, August 14, 2006

Trip Report - Part II

We got up on Saturday morning in Little Switzerland to the sound of falling rain, though it wasn't raining quite so hard as it had at times during the night. Josh, who I was rooming with, got up and headed outside to the porch, and I followed soon after so we could head on over to breakfast. Vick joined us over there. He'd gotten to ring the dinner bell at 7:30 am (you never know what you can do until you ask). Everyone else from our group started filtering in, and the subject of conversation was, in large part, the weather. I don't mind so much riding in the rain, but I really don't enjoy starting a ride in the rain. As John B. says, it really brings the motivation level way down. Still, I stole a chance to look over some motorcyclist's shoulder at the lobby computer to see that it might be a little clearer by the time we got to Asheville.

Eric N. drove his wife Dianne up to meet us. He thought they were running late, but it turned out that they arrived pretty much right when everyone else was about ready. Dianne rode with us from there while Eric drove on to Asheville to get some supplies and drive on up to the Pisgah Inn (where we stayed Saturday night). We rolled out in the rain with Josh and I taking the lead up the first climb through the first of seventeen tunnels we went through that day. Vick and Meryl soon joined us and passed us, and then Jim passed us, and then we got to a downhill and I passed them back, et cetera. It didn't take long, though, before I was soaking wet, rain shell or not.

The first fifteen to twenty miles was a rolling ascent up toward the turn off of the Parkway up to Mt. Mitchell (who remembers the trivia question about Mt. Mitchell?). I had been riding up front with Elle as we approached the pull-out where the van usually stops, but when we passed by the van Elle stopped before I realized it. Then others stopped as they got there, and soon it turned into the 'official stop'. I found out when Meryl came riding up to where I'd stopped to wait to see where everyone was. I wasn't about to turn around and ride back to it at that point though, so I figured I'd just have to make do with the food I had with me until lunch. The worst thing was that Meryl told me it had been a PayDay party as the van passed us by.

Ah, the PayDay bar. The perfect cycling candy bar. No chocolate to melt in your pocket, it's a little sweet, it's a little salty, what's not to love? Imagine my great joy when I got to the usual pullout and John was standing there with a PayDay in hand for me. Happy Happy Joy Joy.

Vick caught up with us just after that and they started to pull away from me up the last little bit of a climb. I was still just a few yards behind them when Vick decided to take a detour through the drainage swale on the side of the road. The water was flowing about 2-3 inches deep, and he was leaving an impressive wake. They got out of sight of me before we crested the hill, but it didn't really matter. Josh and I are definitely the fastest descenders in the group, and since he was a ways back it fell to me to take the lead on the ten or so mile long drop into Asheville. I caught them on a little roller just before the big drop, right as Dianne caught up too. At this point the rain stopped and the roads started to look drier. Dianne and I started the drop together, but I was out in front for the most part (though she did catch me when I stopped for a picture about halfway down the mountain).

John passed me in the van just after that and I spent two of the next five miles keeping him just in sight, but I slowed to go through a longer tunnel and he dropped me. I was by myself for the rest of the descent to the lunch spot, but Dianne and Josh soon followed, with Vick and Meryl coming in soon after that. Lunch was at the Asheville Folk Art Center, but I really don't know much about the place other than that it has a parking lot and a bathroom.

John and Jim traded out as they do everyday at lunch, so John led the group out from Asheville, admonishing us to try to stay together until we crossed the French Broad River and the real climb began. But what do you think happens when you put a guy with fresh legs in front of a group that's already ridden 40 or more miles? The group split a couple of times ("Um, John, we're gapping them..."), but since Vick (an accomplished rider) was staying back with the slower group of five, and the front four of us were OK with our pace, we ended up deciding two groups was OK. We got to the bridge over the French Broad, and I checked my voicemail (it was John H.) while John B. took a natural and Elle looked for a spot to take a photo of the river (I think). Josh decided to go ahead up the climb since he knew he'd be passed quickly.

Moments later the rest of the group arrived and buzzed right past without stopping. The whole group was past me before I knew it, so I started the climb playing catch-up.

Now, I've done this climb twice before, and both times it was in direct sunlight and hot, hot, hot. On Saturday we did the entire climb in fog. Not as scenic, I'll freely admit, but I preferred the fog. This climb is a long one, stretching from just before mile post 394 to just beyond mile post 408 and climbing over 3,000 feet. Most of it is a fairly consistent grade, but the last two miles is ... well, we'll get to that.

I started the climb and passed Jan and John pretty quick, and then passed Josh. Josh has hurt his knee before on this climb, so I think he just wanted to take it as easy as possible. It took a while, but I caught up to Tanya next. I gave her a quick little friendly push, but doing so sapped my momentum and it took me another minute to catch and pass her. At that point I had Elle within sight for a long time - at least a mile without gaining any ground. I finally caught a bit of a break when the grade flattened slightly through a tunnel and I was able to shift up a gear for a few minutes. Still, I only caught her when I did because the front three of Vick, Meryl, and Dianne stopped to take a photo.

We started off again and I was quickly dropping back again. Elle was able to hang in there with the others, but I knew I'd have to ride my own pace or risk cramping. I caught them again at another photo-of, followed by a tunnel in which an RV decided to do something stupid and try to squish Vick in the process (thankfully without success). When they dropped me again I didn't see them until I got to the top.

Somewhere around mile post 406 the grade increases. It isn't a dramatic change that you see, but you feel it in your pedalling effort. I was soon pedalling below my comfortable pace, but I couldn't do much about it except climb out-of-the-saddle for a few moments once in a while, but too much would have caused catastrophic quad cramps. I stopped at one point during mile 406 for a bite to eat, and Eric came driving down the mountain while I was there. He turned around and offered me a sugar-free Red Bull, which I would normally avoid, but at that point it was just what I needed. I slammed it and started cranking slowly up the hill again.

At Mile post 407 I stopped again to massage my thighs a bit and have another bite or two from my Clif Bar. I'd started noticing just before I stopped that some knee pain was starting to creep in, but I knew I still had another mile plus to go anyway. Tanya caught me as I started off again and we rode into a heavy cloud together. I think I got a little ahead of her slowly, but when I reached the top of the climb and looked back I couldn't see her (but then, visibility was maybe forty feet). I got to the turn-off to the inn, noticed how hard it was to see, and figured I'd better wait to make sure Tanya made the turn and didn't blow right past. She came into view about two minutes later (she'd stopped to photograph the 408 mile post) and we rode in to the Pisgah Inn parking lot together.

I'll skip to dinner at this point. The Pisgah Inn has an excellent restaurant - one you wouldn't expect to find so far remote. It was while sitting there eating and socializing that I realized I was rubbing the outside of my knee absentmindedly. I didn't think too much of it until five minutes later when I was adjusting myself in my chair and my knee popped.

Ow. (Understatement).

I limped away from dinner hoping that it would resolve itself, but it was still painful in the morning as I limped to breakfast. This is where I get to the mixed results part advertised yesterday. I had a great time on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sunday I had to make the decision to be intelligent and not try to ride on a bad knee and make it worse. That absolutely, positively sucked. The only thing that kept it from being a completely depressing day was that Eric was headed back to Knoxville and could take me with him. I can't imagine how frustrating and depressing it would have been to have had to sit in the van all day and watch everyone else enjoy a ride I couldn't do (actually, I can - I've had to do it before, but under slightly different circumstances - and it still sucked).

So I saw everyone off and Eric and I headed back to town. As it was, I was able to see Mrs. Guy early and actually make it to a wedding shower for John H. and his fiancee, Cindy. (BTW, when did they start inviting men to these things?). Still, I would rather have...oh, I should just stop it before I even go there.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Trip Report - Part I

Well, I'm back from North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Parkway. I suppose I should relate how it went. My results were...mixed.

First, I did something I've never done before and was late meeting everyone on Thursday to leave. It's not that I've never been late, but I have never been the last one to arrive. Tanya only beat me by about a minute, though, so I guess it wasn't like I was the only one running behind. We left Knoxville and headed east, stopping in Morristown for dinner at the Cracker Barrell (Jan, who is from Michigan, had never eaten at one before). After that it was a several hour trip through a good bit of rain to Blowing Rock, NC, which we spent mostly playing the iPod game. We got in sometime between 10 and 11 pm, so we didn't wait long before hitting the sack.

As I briefly posted on Friday evening, the first day was all about riding from Blowing Rock to Little Switzerland on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We started with breakfast at Knight's-on-Main, which is somewhat famous for their mention in the "Mitford" series of books by Jan Caron and for their livermush. I'm not too fond of livermush, I must say, but if you are, apparently they make it quite well.

We started our ride back at the hotel and were quickly gaining altitude on a longish climb, interupted by a detour off of the Parkway and onto Highway 221 (due to roadwork). I had actually hoped we'd stay on 221 to Grandfather Mountain since I've driven that road and always wanted to ride it, but the detour went back over to the Parkway before that, so back we went and up and over the Linn Cove Viaduct, which is beautiful in it's own right. From there it was 16 miles of rolling road to the lunch spot, and John B. Josh and I were out front. Josh was able to take the only County Line sprint, catching John and me unawares, but that's how it goes sometimes. I did at least scramble for second.

After lunch we continued on the Parkway toward Little Switzerland over some hefty rollers. Meryl, the lightweight among us, and I were trading the lead back and forth most of the way there, with her passing me on the climbs and me passing her on the descents Between the two of us, we get where we are going at about the same time, but we don't spend a lot of time actually riding together. Fortunatley I had just passed her near the turn-off to the hotel (Big Lynn Lodge), or she might have blown right past it. I knew where it was from previous years.

Everybody arrived, showered (most important!) and relaxed until dinner (including a close round of horseshoes between teams of Josh and me versus Jim and Vick). After dinner was when I found the computer in the lobby for the quick note. I then joined Vick, Tanya, Elle, and Meryl for a walk up the road for a good ways to settle dinner.

We got to bed at 10 pm or so, but I don't think many of us slept all that well. Most of us had our windows open, so most of us got to listen to the sound of the rain all night long. All. Night. Long.

More to follow tomorrow.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Blue Ridge Parkway Tour, Day One

I have finished the first day of riding, and I actually feel better than I'd expected to. I'll be sore tomorrow, but I have to ride tomorrow anyway. Today we rode about 45 miles from Blowing Rock, NC to Little Switzerland, NC. Tomorrow we ride from here through Asheville, NC and up to the top of Mount Pisgah, for a total of about 77 or so miles. Tomorrow has two major climbs. Major. It's going to hurt.

Must run. This is the common computer in the hotel (Big Linn Lodge) lobby, so I need to let other's get on to check their email and such. I hope to get a chance to post a little something tomorrow, too, but I just don't know yet. Tune in and find out.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Please link back to my old MSN space for the weekly trivia...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Well, I had a big long post ready for tonight, but I lost the file to data corruption, and I don't have the time or patience to recreate it now. Maybe I'll rewrite it again sometime, but for now I have to go pack for my trip. Sorry, but sometimes things just go that way.

You would have enjoyed the post, though. It was stunningly insightful. Really.

Hey! Check out those photos on flickr (link to right), huh? Huh?

Oh, and I did finally mow tonight (so you can shut up now, Carl - sheesh).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I was going to ride tonight. Or mow. Yeah, I should probably mow.

However, I got home from work and the wind was blowing pretty hard and the grass was damp from a previous light shower and it looked like maybe a storm brewing, so I bagged it. Now, an hour later, nothing – whatever system it was went by without hitting here. It would have been a nice evening for a ride. What, you didn’t think I’d mow wet grass, did you? Surely you didn’t.

I packed up my office today. I’d beaten the odds and actually stayed in the same office for about two years, but no longer. We move tomorrow into another building. I’ll miss my window and solid walls, but even though the new space is a cubicle, at least it has a lockable door. But so much for relative peace and quiet.

I will probably have to start running more. I used to run as a teenager to help exorcise my demons of frustration. I may even go tonight for a short run (since I haven’t run since, oh, April?). I can’t go too hard, though. I can’t afford to be sore on Friday.

That, by the way, was a segue.

I’m leaving on Thursday right after work (yes, I will try my best to post trivia before I go). John B. is taking a group of us over to ride three days on the Blue Ridge Parkway, starting on Friday. Am I ready? …….hmm……

Well, I guess it depends on whether I can say “ready for what?” Ready for suffering? I’d better be, ‘cause that’s what I’m in for. There’s climbing in them thar hills. I am, as advertised, a Big Guy, and thus don’t climb very well. Physics works against me (I will now refer to F=ma for all of the science-types out there – the rest of you can just nod appreciatively).

So I will suffer. Oh, how I will suffer. I will be feasting heartily on the bitter fruits of the Trees of Woe and Agony. I will hurt. I will ache. I will curse the bike, my legs, the road, and all manner of inanimate objects under my labored breath. I may even curse any cute and cuddly small woodland creatures that happen to wander too close.

But then, once I’ve stopped, had some time to recover, spent some quality time with The Stick, and gotten to hang out with my cycling friends for a while (oh, and don’t forget a nice warm shower and fresh clothes), I will look back and reflect on how that was the best time I’ve had in quite a while.

Cyclists are funny like that.

PS: And I will likely regret cursing the small woodland creatures. Unless they weren’t cute or cuddly, of course.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cacophony of Canines

I left work early today to go to see my orthopedic surgeon. I might as well have stayed a couple of hours longer, since that’s how far behind they were running at the clinic. Actually, when I got there they told me he was 40 minutes behind schedule. An hour passed, then another half hour, and then finally fifteen minutes after that they called me back. That’s where I sat for another fifteen minutes waiting to go to X-ray, but at least I got to finish the article I was reading in the office copy of Motor Trend about the “new” Ferrari FXX. I say “new” because the magazine had a cover date of January, so it likely came out last November, but that’s OK since I’d not heard of the FXX before today. I’d want one, but the cost just under $2mil, and they only made 29 to sell (and at press time, they were all already spoken for).

They took me back and took my x-ray, and while I was sitting there waiting for a technician to take me back to my exam room (yeah, like I don’t know where they all are by now), I got to try – with limited success – to convince the small boy waiting his turn for x-rays that they don’t hurt a bit. I don’t know if I got though to him at that point, but I saw him and his mom on my way out, and he was all smiles.

My doctor came in apologizing profusely about the wait (which most doctors wouldn’t bother with), and proceeded to poke around at my shoulder while we talked about cycling in general (and how we need to see each other more on the trails than there in his office). Here’s the rundown of the exam results: I’m free to do whatever road biking I want to do (which is a good thing since I’ve been at it for two weeks now), I’m free to start running again, he wants me to go another two weeks to PT (Boooo!), and he confirmed what I figured about me not getting back on the mountain bike until at least September (and maybe mid-September, depending on how I feel about it). Sorry Wally – no Tuesday Night IC King rides for me for a while longer.

Due to my wait at the doctor’s office, I was a bit later getting home than I’d figured I would be. I thought I might be home before my normal time, but it turns out I was over an hour after my normal time. I opened the garage door to hear a raucous chorus from all three dogs (usually it’s just one, maybe two) that lasted until I got all three of them outside and then fed. I don’t think they like it when I’m late. If I’d known how late I’d be, I would have asked my parents to stop by on their way through town (going home from vacation), but c’est la vie, I guess. At least the dogs are being quiet now…at least until they finish their dinner.
Two favors I'd like to ask of the general public:

  1. If you are a woman, and if your gut sticks out further than your chest does, please do not wear midriff babydoll t-shirts, at least not out in public. I'm glad your self-esteem is high and you're comfortable with your body, but there are some things a lot of us would just rather not see.
  2. If you are driving along in your car and there's a convertible (like I was driving today) or a motorcycle or a cyclist behind you please refrain from doing things like flicking lit cigarettes out of the window (which you shouldn't be doing anyway) or using your windshield washers that are aimed just a little too high and end up christening the person behind you. Within a half-mile today I had a cigarette bounce off of my windshield - complete with a shower of sparks - and (thankfully) over the passenger compartment, AND was nearly drowned (well, maybe that's a little bit of hyperbole) by an SUV trying to soak the entire top of their car, and part of mine apparently, with washer fluid. If both had happened at the same time, maybe I wouldn't have been bothered by the washer fluid part...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Chasing the Hammer

Chasing the Hammer

Yesterday was spent doing…well, mostly nothing. I went out to get some stuff at Home Depot and to buy some jeans at the mall, but they were out of what I needed/my size. Instead I went to Best Buy and got a copy of “Office Space” with a gift card I had sitting around. I ended up watching three movies yesterday; one on TV and the other two on DVD. I guess you could say I was recharging for today.

I drove over to Jon C.’s house today and met him, Wally and Dave L. for a nice thirty mile ride. I don’t think it was a hot today as it’s been lately, but the humidity was high so it felt a lot hotter. Jon led us off on a route that he apparently rides with all comers every Sunday (this is just the first one I could show up for).

A lot of the roads were ones I’ve been on, many of them recently with John B., but I still don’t know them all really well, as was evidenced at the first county line sprint.

OK, I realize that some of you may not be avid cyclists, so I’ll explain that one. Any time a group of riders goes out on a ride, and more so with the folks I tend to ride with, you can count on a county line sprint. You may have set a ‘easy ride’ rule at the beginning of the ride, but once a county or city limit sign comes into view there will be a frenzy of acceleration from most of the faster riders to see who can win the glory and honor of the sprint. These sprints are neutralized if there’s a car coming, but that’s about the only limitation. Most county limit signs around here are at the tops of hills, so I tend not to win many.

For the first county line today, we came around a curve with me in front, and the next thing I knew, Dave and Jon were taking off. I tried to follow, but I started out in the wrong gear and just couldn’t catch back on. Still, I gave it a go and was not too far back at the line for third, but I’m betting my orthopedic doc would chastise me for joining in. I just couldn’t help it though – I guess it’s ingrained.

Today’s course was a very hilly one, and Wally and I ended up off the back on every one of them, with only Jon to chase Dave to the tops. Wally told me at one point that Dave had recently received the nickname ‘The Hammer’ for his tendency to push the pace on the hill climbs. I think it was taking something out of Jon to follow him on each climb, especially considering that Jon hasn’t been able to ride a whole lot recently.

Wally and I were good to go on the descents, though, and after one particular climb we passed the other two near the bottom of the hill. They were just tooling along about 20 yards behind, not making any effort to catch up, when Wally said “Hey, there’s a county line sprint about a mile up the road. Go for it.” We were on a long relatively flat section, and I didn’t think I had enough in the tank to pull off a solo break, but Wally encouraged me and I gave it a go. I pushed it up to about 85-90% effort, thinking I would hold some back just in case Dave or Jon caught on.

I didn’t look at my cyclometer, so I wasn’t sure exactly how far I’d gone looking for the county line sign. I remembered hitting the rough pavement (which can beat you to death after a while), but I figured out that I’d missed it when I hit Martin Mill Rd. I stopped under shade to wait, and Wally came up next.
Wally: Dude, why did you keep hammering?
Big Guy: I must have missed the county line sign. I kept looking for it.
Wally: Remember where the pavement goes rough?
BG: Yeah…
Wally: That’s the county line.
BG: But I didn’t see a sign.
Wally: There isn’t one. That’s the county line.
BG: Oh. At least I beat 'The Hammer'.

After the ride back to Jon’s, we sat around on his front steps and got to play some with his 1 yr. old son for a while, and then I headed home and took a two hour nap. Since then I’ve washed the cars, worked on laundry, written a blog post, and now I’m getting ready to pay bills, finish laundry, and possibly work some more in the garage or basement. I gotta make up for yesterday at some point.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Dodging a Bullet

Man, do I ever hope that was my last PT session. I went in this morning and felt like I was being ignored. I had to go find my therapist off socializing on several occasions. Now I realize that my petty little issues are nothing compared to her interactions with her coworkers, but she could at least pretend to care. Is that so much to ask? Yeah, I think it was.

I was supposed to ride with Wally this morning, so I called him after I left PT and picked up some HeartGuard at the vet clinic nearby. I got his voicemail and left a message for him to call me back, and then I just went home and played around on Flickr while I waited. And waited. I figured after an hour that he wasn't going to call, so I called John B.

John B.: Hello?
Big Guy: Hey. Have you ridden yet today?
JB: No, but I was thinking about going here in a little bit.
BG: Man, that's uncanny. So was I!

I drove over to John's so we could just do a 20-25 miler from there. He has a nice route from there that is mostly in shade, which is imperative on a hot day like today. We took off south from his house and started comparing the noises coming from our bikes. I have a spoke or something that goes "tink...tink...tink..." when I climb hills. He has a rear wheel (newly rebuilt) that goes "chikachikachika...chikachikachika..." almost constantly. He wins this round.

It was a good ride, but it was a hot day, even in the shade. Moments in the sun really drove home how hot it was. But I did notice that there were a lot fewer insects out, with the exception of the kamikaze butterfly (that would be a good name for a punk band, wouldn't it?) that tried to take me out, though it found me to be made of much sterner stuff than it could realistically affect.

Sometimes on a ride theres that one moment of decision that seems inconsequential at the time, but turns out to be profoundly important later. Today's moment came at the intersection of Tarwater Road and Tipton Station Road. John suggested (but without enthusiam), that we could turn right and go out Tipton Station a ways and make a longer ride out of it. I replied that I really didn't care much, but that it was a hot day and all (nevermind that my knee was hurting a bit - you never admit that kind of thing on a ride unless you actually have blood gushing out, or it's swollen and turning odd colors, but even then you downplay it).

We turned left instead and climbed up and over Neubert Springs Road. Neubert Springs is a popular climb amongst area cyclists, and today it was a good climb if only for the shade. From there it was a quick ride back over to John's house.

Remember that decision point I mentioned? Here's where it comes into play. As we approached his house (say, from a 1/4 mile out) I pointed out dark clouds to the west. We rode up his driveway and I put my bike in the back of my car. John handed me a Coke and offered that I could use their guest bathroom if I wanted to shower off (and I sure needed to). As we walked over toward his garage we saw the first drop or two of rain. By the time I got out of the shower it was coming down steadily. I left his house and headed toward the Bike Zoo and it just kept getting heavier and heavier. By the time I hit Kingston Pike it was raining so hard that I was driving through two to three inches of water because it just couldn't drain off any faster. I got to the Bike Zoo and figured that, all things being equal, if we had turned right at Tipton Station, we might just then have been finishing our ride. And there I was sitting in the car waiting for the lightning and driving rain to die down a bit.

Yeah, we dodged a bullet all right.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Feeling the Heat

Man, was it ever hot today. Even from the word go this morning at work (the word usually coming at 6:00 am) it was just sticky hot. I'm not usually one to be greatly affected by heat, but this was something else entirely. It was like I was having to swim through the air to get anywhere.

I went into one of our work buildings this morning at 7:30 am to help out one of our other workers. We were in an elevated area in a building with no air conditioning - heck, no air movement at all for that matter. I was sweating like crazy in no time at all. By the time I got back to my office after an hour or so, my shirt was completely soaked. I was able to grab a spare shirt I had around for just this eventuality, and I laid my shirt across the back of a chair to dry out.

I drank three 12 oz. Gatorades and 36 oz. of water over the next hour, and I was still having trouble getting rehydrated. I drank a lot more water over lunch as well.

I went back into the building again this afternoon to help another guy find the stuff he needed to look at. We were in the basement level, and I still was sweating profusely after only 15 minutes in there. I just had to keep that shirt on, though, as I was out of spares.

The good thing is, at least I was sweating. If you are ever out in the heat and you stop sweating, or you notice someone else has stopped sweating, worry. That's a pretty serious sign of heat stress and things can go bad very quickly.

Amazingly, I really haven't had too many problems like that on the bike. I guess it's because I'm constantly drinking water on the bike. There's also the effect of the 'apparent wind' to help keep one cooler than if standing still. But I always watch out for the ones on long rides who are running out of water.

The worst problem I have had in recent memory was on a 4th of July ride from Wally's house one year. We were quite a ways into the ride and Dave L. ran out of water (and was having real difficulty). I still had most of a water bottle left, so I gave him half of what I had left. I won't say that was a mistake - 'cause he really needed it - but it ended up being a lot further to the next place we could get water than any of us had realized. By the time I got there, I'd been out of water for several miles and was suffering. Dave had perked back up after I'd given him some of mine, but was out again at that point, too. Even though we both got plenty of water at that stop, I don't think either of us really recovered all that much from that. It's always harder to rehydrate than to stay hydrated in the first place.

So I guess you've figured out the point of this post. Folks, it's hot out there these days, and I mean all over the country. Even if you aren't involved in athletic activity (but especially if you are), DRINK enough water and/or sports-drink to keep yourself out of trouble when you are out in the heat, 'kay? And avoid alcohol and caffeine (yes, I said caffeine) if at all possible, as they affect your body's ability to regulate temperature and shed heat properly.

Do it for me, do it for you.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What the... (Part Two)

I think I've finally had it with MSN Spaces (AKA Windows Live Spaces, whatever). This isn't the first time they've made wholesale changes with no warning (or at least none that I saw), and the worst thing is that most of the stuff doesn't work. Don't you think that if you had a system that thousands of people are using, and if you were going to roll out a new format, you would at least make sure the d@mn3d thing works?!? Oh, I forgot. This is MicroSquat we're talking about here.

I'm going to try massaging the site over there for another few days, but if they don't get their act together, or at least go back to a 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' standard of operation (I wish they'd go back to something that was at least mostly functional), I may just see how hard it is to migrate my old posts over here.

OK, so, I went to my bike club meeting tonight, though I likely would have blown it off if I could have. Does that sound bad? Yeah? No? Hmm. So, why did I go at all, huh? Well, turns out that I'm the VP this year, and I got a note yesterday from the Pres. (Philippe) saying he couldn't be there at could I cover for him. Well, that kinda is my job, I suppose, so I went and officiated over the meeting.

So, why would I have blown it off (even though I missed last month's meeting)? Well, it's like this. Mrs. Guy leaves for Orlando again tomorrow afternoon. She won't be back again until next Friday. However, I leave on Thursday evening to do a three-day bike tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I won't get back until Sunday, and Mrs. Guy leaves again (I think) on that following Monday. Basically, I was getting a lot of grief from Mrs. Guy for even going tonight, but I felt that at least one of us (Philippe or me) should be there.

I will say that I ended up leaving before the meeting was entirely over, though. I got through all of the agenda items at least, but I ducked out after opening the floor to open discussion. I hope nothing weird got decided and voted on after I left (like, say, my house will end up being the ride destination for the Labor Day Ride or something). I guess I'll find out eventually.

And no, Wally, you get the Labor Day Ride at your house. Done deal, 'nuff said, and all that.