Sunday, December 31, 2006

Three, Three, Three Posts in One...


Well, I survived Dollywood on Friday. For those of you who don’t know, Dollywood is an amusement park in Pigeon Forge, TN (near Knoxville). It’s not one of the largest ones around (Six Flags in Atlanta is bigger, and I'm not even going to mention the Disney Empire), but it isn’t bad. What’s bad is the crowds.

I guess I was relatively lucky on Friday. The crowds were large owing in part to the fact that a lot of people were off work and in part because the park closed yesterday and won’t open again until the end of March. I sure that just about every season ticket holder within a 150 mile radius (which is where I would expect most season ticket holders to live) were there at some point between December 26 and yesterday. But, with that being said, the crowds were not quite as bad as I had feared. But I still don’t like crowds all that much.

Happily, there weren’t that many people there to ride the rides. I think most folks were there for the Christmas-time shows and to shop for stuff. Dollywood does have a lot of crafts artist working there, and they usually have stuff on sale at very low prices to clear out the last of their stock just before the winter closure. But I wasn’t there for that. No, I’m a roller coaster junkie.

There were five of us together there on Friday. It would have been six, but She-Mom wasn’t feeling all that well and decided to head back to Kingsport. Those of us there headed straight for Thunderhead. Thunderhead is a large wooden rollercoaster. It features a 100 foot maximum drop, speeds up to 55 mph, and causes you to experience approximately 3.5 G’s. The ride lasts about 150 seconds, which seems like a very short time considering the fifteen minute wait in line, but it is worth that wait. MG and her half-sister Emma went from there to Timber Tower (which seems like a rather lame ride to me), so I took the youngest half-sister, Hannah, with me for another shot at Thunderhead. Step-She-Mom went with MG and Emma to watch them.

I thought about hitting Thunderhead one more time, but everyone else wanted to move on. So we headed up to the Tennessee Tornado. The Tennessee Tornado is a roller coaster with an interesting bit of history. There used to be an older roller coaster sitting where it does now, but it was quite old. When, years ago, Opryland decided to close their theme park, Dollywood bought the ride from them, dismantled it, shipped it to East Tennessee, and reassembled it where the old roller coaster had been. This ride only lasts about a minute, but the speeds are higher and the G-forces a bit more extreme (since you do multiple loops upside down). My only complaint about the ride comes at the end, where the track jolts the cars upward before coming into the station. I’m still sore today from that little bump, since it made me bang my knee and the harness compressed against my collarbone implants. Maybe I’ll stick to Thunderhead.

And we did. After milling about for a while, and letting Emma watch the glass-blowers doing their exhibition (always a crowd-gatherer), we ended up going back over to Thunderhead for one last ride before going to the smaller rides (e.g., bumper cars, the Scrambler, etc). Man, I love that rroller coaster. And they’re building yet another roller coaster near that one. It will open in April. I think I can brave the crowds for a shot at that…maybe by May or so once the “new-ness” wears off.
Last Ride of ‘06

I did get one last ride in for the year. I met John B. at his house yesterday and we rode over to the mountain bike trails at IC King park. I didn’t really ride very well. I was still sore from the Tennessee Tornado and from running a couple of days last week. John had claimed he wouldn’t ride very well either (due to being ‘over-served’ at a bar the night before), but he still rode much better than I did. I guess I do OK mostly on the flats and uphills, but he really rides away from me on the downhill sections. I seem to be having a bit of a confidence problem with going fast downhill on a mountain bike. I can’t imagine why.

We rode all the way out to the end of the loops by the second (unused) parking lot. John showed me a location that he was wanted to see about opening up for a few more trails. I have, on occasion, thought the same thing over there, but John actually knows the people to contact to make it happen. I’ll be glad to help cut the new trails once approval is gained from the Park Department. Looking at the area, I see a lot of potential.

John needed to be back at his house to get ready for a wedding, so I mentioned that we should head on back. We did, until we met up with Philippe, who was also out riding. We ended up stopping and talking with him for maybe 10 to 15 minutes. I was just getting ready to remind John about his need to go when he realized it himself. Since he was riding so much better, I told him to go ahead and not wait on me. I kept up for a little while, but I had a little difficulty at a log-crossing and lost sight of him there. From that point on I just continued on at my own pace all the way back to his house.

My one real moment of concern happened about half a mile from John’s. As I was riding through the neighborhoods, I saw a dog (maybe a Doberman mix?) jump over a fence as I was coming by. After a moment of panic, I noticed it had jumped out of one fenced-in area and into another. However, I knew that if he did it once … I sped up. So did the dog. He reached the corner of the fence and … sure enough, up he jumped. I decided it was time for a sprint. However, sprinting is not something that full-suspension mountain bikes are made for. I felt I could have easily outpaced him on my road bike, but on that bike he was quickly gaining on me. My usual tactic would be to grab my waterbottle and give him a squirt in the face, but I knew I couldn’t get to it fast enough. So instead I pulled out Plan B.

I stopped sprinting and turned my head in his direction. He got to within about five feet of me and I, well, I barked at him. I can’t describe it any better than that. It was loud. It was abrupt. And it worked. I really loved the confused look on his face as he scrambled to a stop.

Well, I had planned to spend today going through closets and drawers and reorganizing my clothes (culling out the stuff I don’t wear anymore), but I woke up at about 4:30 am unable to breathe through my nose. Yeah, I’ve come down with a cold, I guess. So much for going to Philippe and Sylvie’s for New Year’s Eve festivities, eh? At least MG is taking good care of me and I’m getting plenty of rest.

I just hope I can make it to the New Year’s Day Tour de Downtown Parking Garages tomorrow. Well, I’ll probably go anyway. I don’t think I can make myself worse.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Well, That Took Longer Than I'd Planned...

I'd hoped to leave work a little early today. Didn't happen.

I went to go get a new mobile phone today. I figured on 30 minutes, tops. It took about 90 (but I did get a new phone).

MG and I went to dinner right after. The wait was 35 to 40 minutes (on a Thursday?!?), and then service was slow coming from the kitchen. We'd planned on an hour. Closer to two.

And just now our house guests for the next two nights showed up (be right back)...



... (OK, I'm back).

So now I will be entertaining MG's stepmom and two half-sisters for the rest of the evening. With that in mind, it's...
Trivia Time
Please review the Rules if you need to and remember to post you answers to bgoab at mindspring dot com.
There's a theme tonight. I'll give you the slogan or catch-phrase. You tell me where it came from. Capice?

1. Crisp and Clean and No Caffeine [forgive me, CafLib and MochaMomma]?

2. Mmmm Mmmm Good?

3. Must See TV?

4. We Don't Make the Products You Buy; We Make the Products You Buy Better?

5. All the News That's Fit to Print?

Bonus: All the News That Fits?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I am exhausted. I don't really even know why, but I am. I didn't really have that hard a day at work, though I did put in a full day. I came home, had dinner with MG and She-Mom, and then started nodding off occasionally sitting on the couch with them and watching FoodTV.

Maybe it's a lack of riding. My body is rebelling. Yeah, that's it. Saturday will be my earliest opportunity, though. I work tomorrow and it's off to Dollywood on Friday with ... well, let's just save that for later, shall we? (We shall.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Savoir Unfaire

Well, I hope you all enjoyed your holiday yesterday. I certainly did, even though I spent much of the morning (and most of the time opening gifts) with a cold washcloth held to my left eye. No, MG didn't punch me for not getting her gifts in the right size (though that's the story I'll tell at work tomorrow just for fun). No, I got smacked in the eye by one of my dogs when I was playing with them yesterday morning. Alice rolled over on her back and flailed her rear feet about at random, and before I even knew about it I had a paw rake me across the lip, nose, and eye. I think the cold washcloth applied quickly by MG helped me not to have a real shiner, but I do have a nice scratch on my face. Merry Christmas, eh?

Well, I still enjoyed opening gifts, so I won't sulk about it. MG and I were also both off work today, so we went out to run several errands, including trading in her old mobile phone for a new one. She walked in talking about the "no-frills" little blue basic phone, and walked out with one that has a camera, MP3 player, web-access, and a kitchen sink. I was also going to get a phone, but I walked empty-handed since none of the phones meet what I think the allowable criteria for having them at work would be. I'll have to check tomorrow at work, but I think I will likely get stuck having to have one of the three lowest models that they carry at the phone store. Oh well.

So, on to the real point of this post's title, my visit to the auto-parts store. I went there looking for touch-up paint for my truck. I pulled into the more-empty-than-full parking lot and got out of my truck just in time to watch a guy in a flame-red older model Pontiac (a really nice-looking one) pull in to one of the handicap parking spots. He hopped out, along with his two young kids and started for the door. At this point I faced a dilemma.

There was no blue tag hanging from his rear-view mirror. There was no special plate on the car. The occupants of the car were clearly able-bodied. I knew my duty was to say something to the guy, but I don't really want to have to make somebody look like a bad guy in front of his children. Besides he might get defensive about it, which is another good reason not to say something in front of his kids. Hmmm. What to do, I considered. Turns out, nothing (in this case). Just as I was trying to figure out just how to discretely and tactfully say something to this guy, his daughter, who looked to be about five-years-old, turned to him...

Little Girl: "Daddy, that's a handicap space."
Father: "Yeah, well, we'll just be a minute..."
Little Girl: "But Daddy, you're not supposed to park there."
Father: "It'll be OK, we won't be here long."
Little Girl: "Daddy, it's not right."
Little Boy (seven, I'd guess): "Yeah, we learned that in school. And the sign says $160 fine."
Father: Okay, you're right. I'll move the car. Stay right there on the sidewalk where I can see you. [turns, sees me watching the scene play out, shrugs, moves car over about three spaces to an empty one]

I breathed a sigh of relief and hope. Perhaps today's kids are learning something in schools these days after all.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Catching Up From Waaaaaay Back

No, I’m not talking about a race here, though it can happen that you can get back into a race that’s gotten way ahead of you (though you’re likely to burn all of your energy doing it and have nothing left for the finish. No, today I’m talking about the Trivia Quiz. I’m finally catching up on the points standings.

Yes, you heard (read, actually) correctly. I’m catching up on tabulating results from way back on October 6th.

So, what really happened is that the old contest ended with the quiz from October 19th. That’s when GeekCyclist passed over the 50 point mark (your prize will be emailed out later). All current scores reflect answers from the October 26th quiz and forward.

So, with that out of the way…

MG and I had a lovely dinner the other night. We even had a small measure of privacy. The restaurant we went to has two … well, booths, for lack of a better term … that are semi-enclosed, which cuts down on the noise and also lets you draw a curtain so you can feel a bit more isolated from the rest of the diners. Quite nice.

We also went by the bike club’s Christmas Party for a little while after, so I got to see some folks I hadn’t seen in a little while and MG even got to talk to some friends of hers that were there.

Yesterday I finished the last of my Christmas shopping in the morning (a gift certificate for a friend’s little boy – that’s what he asked for). MG and She-Mom went shopping themselves, culminating in an afternoon-long, multi-store grocery run. Since I was (mercifully) let off of the hook for that, I took the opportunity to go for a short impromptu bike ride.

I still haven’t patched the rear tire on my main road bike (blown out on the last day of the Florida trip), so I decided to ride an older bike in my stable. It’s still a good bike, but I’m a little nervous about the spokes on the rear wheel. That’s one of the few wheels I’ve ever broken a spoke on, and I’ve done it several times. Taking into account the extra weight I’m carrying right now, and I knew I wouldn’t want to get too far afield (since I knew MG would have to take a long time to come and pick me up if it did become unrideable). I ended up doing several small loops (almost like I was trying to ride in a clover-leaf pattern) from near the house.

Not a long ride, and not a particularly adventurous or challenging ride, but a ride nonetheless. And that’s what counted.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lemons -> Lemonade

I was really hoping to get to ride my bike today. Ma Nature had other plans. Who am I to argue with Ma Nature? Time to activate Plan B.

Since the rain was falling, I hoped in the car instead and drove into the abject and vociferous madness that is Knoxville traffic. Traffic here is usually only this bad on college home game days, but the month of December is like a month of October Saturdays. Fortunately, the traffic this morning wasn't quite so nutty. At least not this morning.

I headed downtown to do some stocking-stuffer shopping for MG. John B. called while I was out and mentioned something that we just couldn't pass up doing for lunch, so I incorporated that into the plan-of-the-day.

Todd Steed and the Sons of Phere (the name makes more sense if you are fairly familiar with Knoxville) were playing on the Blue-Plate Special on WDVX. John knows most of the guys in the band, and has played with several before (including Todd). I was several minutes ahead of John getting downtown, so I order take-out sandwiches for us at the Tomato Head. He showed up just before the food was ready, so we got it and walked on over to the studio.

The Blue-Plate Special is a regular feature at WDVX (most weekdays at noon). Today's show was more crowded than most, perhaps since more people were off work, or because Todd Steed and the boys have a pretty good following. It wasn't the whole band today, but four of the guys. There isn't really room on stage for a drum kit, so Ed was playing a cardboard box. Don't knock it - it sounded great for that venue. So for an hour today John and I ate our lunch while standing over by the elevator in the studio, joined by Derek who wasn't eating. I we saw others we knew there as well, such as Tim and Susan (other local musicians) and another guy whose name I can never remember. Shame on me. Anyway, it was a great show, and Todd and the boys (especially Todd) have really good 'stage presence', for lack of a better term.

I followed that up with more shopping as John, Derek and I went our seperate ways. I won't say where all I went just in case MG happens to read this post (though she usually doesn't read my stuff - I don't know why). I will say that traffic got horrid as the day went by. At one point it took me five minutes to go 30 yards on the Bearden Hill section of Kingston Pike. Yikes.

I can say one place I went. I stopped at an auto parts store to buy a Christmas present for the truck. A brand new set of wiper blades. I installed them when I got home. I can tell it really likes them. Maybe I'll give it a bath tomorrow if the rain will hold off long enough.

I'm going to close now. I've got to go get ready for my Anniversary Dinner with MG. Sixteen years, if you must know.

Maybe trivia answers tomorrow?

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I haven't kept up my posting very well lately. 'Tis the season. I blame the constant demands on my time lately. I'm going to stick by that story.

I still haven't ridden since last Saturday. Will I get to ride tomorrow? Depends on the weather. The forecast is bleak right now, but I must hold out some hope.

There may not be a post tomorrow. MG and I are celebrating our anniversary (16 years - our marriage can get a driver's license in most states now). We'll be going out to eat tomorrow night and maybe stopping by my bike club's party for a few minutes on the way home (maybe).
Trivia Time
You know the drill by now. Rules. Bgoab at MindSpring dot Com. 'Nuff said.

1. What terrestrial feature causes the winter and summer solstices?

2. Who created Winnie the Pooh?

3. Who invented the game of basketball?

4. In “Casino Royale”, Bond orders a drink with gin, vodka, and Lillet Blanc. What does he name it?

5. “Beefeaters” is a brand of gin. Where are the original Beefeaters employed?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Photo evidence of the "Road That Wasn't (All) There" (Gulf Islands National Seashore between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach, Florida, Dec. 2006

Sometimes December is the Cruelest Month

I rode six days last week. In Florida.

I got back home on Saturday evening. I haven't ridden since then.

I got a call last Tuesday while in Florida from Ron. He'd left a message saying that he couldn't remember if it was that week I'd be gone, but that if I was home I should go ride with Wally and him. Well, by the time I got the message and called back I had already ridden 40 miles, notwithstanding the fact that I was approximately 500 miles away and would neer make it back on time. Still, it was time to start our Tuesday Night Clydesdale Rides back up, so they went.

Hoping for a ride tonight, I set my headlamp batteries on their chargers last night. That fact, if nothing else, virtually assured that I wouldn't get to ride tonight.

I first called Ron this morning, but he didn't answer. Then I called Wally. Wally has family in town for the holidays already, so he's out until the next Cades Cove Moonlight Ride on or about January 4. Ron called me back a little later. He was interested in going, but had to check with his social coordinator (his version of MG). He called back again around midafternoon. He forgotten a few errands he had to get done tonight, so he was out.

This always happens around Christmas. Everybody gets busy, and MG is out of town like usual.

I tried calling John B., but could never get him on either his house phone or his mobile. After that I just couldn't think of anyone else to call that has lights. Until I got home from the Post Office and it was too late to go. Phillip. Why didn't I think of Phillip? Shame on me. I'll have to do better next time.

Ahh, he probably either had to work or has X-mas related stuff to do as well.

And it's so unseasonably warm out these days. <3rd>

I guess I'll just have to go for a run instead. At least I can take the dogs (one at a time to prevent my certain entanglement, and thus, doom).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Travelin' Man (and Woman)

Today was our day to drive home to the hills of East Tennessee from the flats of Western Florida. We planned to leave this morning by 11:oo am (noon, Eastern time), so I got up early enough to take in one last ride. This made six days in a row of cycling, which is something I almost never get.

The wind was near still again this morning. Looking out at the gulf was like looking at a calm lake. There weren't really any waves to speak of. What little there was simply lapped against the shore. This made for easy riding in about any direction, so I picked the one direction I really hadn't ridden in yet. I headed west through the town of Pensacola Beach and then went north.

The first thing you have to do when heading north from there is to go over an Intercoastal Waterway bridge, which is the closest thing they have to climbs around the Pensacola area. They are relatively steep, but very short. Barely worth the effort of a East Tennessee boy like me, but you take what you can get. Next up was the passage through the town of Gulf Breeze. Gulf Breeze is usually heavily trafficked, but not so much on a Saturday morning, so I had the left-most of the three north-bound lanes mostly to myself. The only thing that really slowed me down was the fact that I just missed making it through the green on every traffic light.

The Intercoastal Waterway bridge from Pensacola Beach to Gulf Breeze crosses over Santa Rosa Sound. The next bridge I came to, which was on the north end of Gulf Breeze, crosses Pensacola Bay to Pensacola. This bridge is known as the "Three Mile Bridge", and for good reason. I'd been across it before by bicycle four or five years ago, and it hasn't gotten any shorter since then. There are three "humps" in the bridge to allow ships to pass under, but only the middle one is of any substance, and the slope and height are similar to the other bridge.

I got to the Pensacola end of the bridge and waited about five minutes before I could cross the road and head back (traffic was picking up). On starting back, I found that I had been riding into a bit of a headwind after all, and I was able to go a little faster back over the bridge. I again caught every light going through Gulf Breeze and hit the final bridge for the last time. The four crossing were my only real opportunities to coast at all. I think I'll enjoy doing that most of all once I get back out on my home roads.

We hit the road about when we wanted and my brother caught up with us in downtown Pensacola just before we hit the Interstate on-ramp. He was on his bike, and was heading to the Post Office and hoping to catch us. Thank goodness for cell phones, 'cause he got us just in time for us to pull into a gas station for the minute or two he needed to get there.

The trip home was mostly boring and uneventful other than the SUV with the trailer whose driver decided to veer quickly into our lane somewhere between Birmingham and Gadsden in Alabama. If I hadn't been looking right at them, they would have hit us. As it was, it's a good thing there wasn't anyone behind me when I hit the brakes...hard.

But now we're home. Maybe I'll see if someone wants to go ride at I.C. King tomorrow?

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Full Friday

Well, it's our last full day in Florida, so it was our last chance to take a spin on the tandem. I usually like to get out early, but MG had a call she had to make to her boss this morning, so we had to wait until after that. One of the problems that we've had here is the spotty coverage on our cell phone service, so she actually had to get in the car and drive about four miles toward town to get a strong signal. That left me with about an hour to wait on her, so I used the time constructively by taking a post-breakfast nap.

MG returned after her call and we got ready for our ride. There was very little wind again today, so we rode westward toward Fort Pickens for just under six miles before turning around and heading back. MG used the ride to look at the houses along the way and dream of life living at the beach. I'm more of a mountains guy myself. It's too flat around here for me. There aren't really any good places to coast.

We spent the rest of the day going into Pensacola proper for lunch, shopping at a craft fair, making a quick run to Target, and looking for gifts for She-Mom at a store we'd visited on Tuesday and MG wanted to go back to. We also ran by my brother's to say "bye" to my youngest niece and my sister-in-law. Then we headed back to the condo.

We had dinner here at the condo with my parents, but we also had the oldest niece and her boyfriend by for dinner, and the middle niece is here spending the night. The only one we haven't been able to say our final "bye" to before we leave is my brother, who wasn't home yet when we went by the house. We leave in the morning for home, but we may have to make a special trip to see him on the way out.

But maybe I'll still have time in the morning for one last ride...

Last week's trivia answers will come either tomorrow or Sunday after we get home.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Other Road That....

Yesterday’s ride, for me, was all about recovery. Having ridden pretty hard on both Monday and Tuesday, and considering the ride I also did on Saturday, my legs and … more sensitive areas … were ready for something a bit more relaxed. It takes two to tandem, so I joined MG for a relaxed pace riding through some of the neighborhoods out here in the Pensacola Beach area. Many of the houses have been repaired and/or rebuilt since the devastation of the hurricanes, but there are a large number of homes that look very damaged. Some are being worked on now. Some look abandoned.

To be fair, though, those home owners may just be waiting for their turn. The supply of labor available since the hurricanes has been very tight. My own brother had to wait quite a while to have his roof repaired following the storms, and at a premium price. Capitalism is alive and well in the Gulf region.

Nonetheless, we saw a great number of houses that MG just loved. Being the beach, I pointed out to her that maybe the broken down trailer home on one lot was more in our affordability range, though I wouldn’t even guarantee that.

It was a pleasant twelve mile ride, though, and just the thing my legs needed. We followed it up with several laps in the pool (heated indoor).

This morning I got up to find that the winds were almost non-existent. This provided my chance to make a westerly excursion without the fear of having to spend the return trip battling the wind. I rode through Pensacola Beach and took the road that once went all the way out to Fort Pickens. I used to visit Fort Pickens on every trip I made to the area, but I haven’t been there in quite a number of years. A storm in the ‘90s took out a lot of the road at some point back then, and I’m not sure they’d ever recovered before the more recent storms came through.

I got to (and went around) the gate similar to the one east of the condo where automobile traffic must stop. From there I rode maybe a mile or two to where the old toll booth used to be (it used to cost a few bucks to go to the fort, though I generally went on my brother’s annual membership pass). Not far past the booth is where the pavement gave way and the first portage started. But what a portage. I couldn’t even see the other end of the former pavement. There was a sign at the pavement’s end telling hikers and cyclists that the round trip to the fort from that point was 14 miles, of which 1.5 miles would require cyclists to carry their bikes. It also cautioned people to have water, sunscreen, et cetera.

I turned back.

What little wind there was today came from the North, so it didn’t really cause me any trouble on either the trip toward or from the fort. I decided to just ride on back to the condo, but when I got near it I found that I was several miles short of 20, which is what I like to keep as a minimum when I go out on a road ride right now (the minimum increases during the warmer months). I rode on out to the gate east of the condo, then turned and headed back. I recorded 21 miles when I got back. That will do nicely.

Trivia Time

The Rules are still in effect. Please email your answers to bgoab at mindspring dot com, and remember, you have a whole week to turn in your answers.

1. Who starred as James Bond in the very first film version of Casino Royale?

2. In the TV special, what profession did Rudolph’s elf friend want to pursue instead of making toys?

3. ‘Elf’ is the name of a French company. What do they sell (main product)?

4. According to the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, Superior, it’s said, never gives up her dead when _____________?

5. The Chicago World‘s Fair saw the debut of a wondrous new invention which has spawned scaled down copies at almost every amusement park and traveling carnival in the nation, possibly even the world. What is it?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Road That Wasn't (All) There

Day two (not counting the evening we arrived) in Florida saw me deciding to attempt a full loop ride. When I stayed here in 2001 or 2002 (I can’t quite remember which year), I did a ride that took me from Pensacola Beach to Navarre Beach along Santa Rosa Island, across the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge to Navarre, along Highway 98 to Gulf Breeze, and finally back across another Intercoastal Waterway Bridge to Pensacola Beach again. The whole loop works out to somewhere around 40 miles.

A strong wind was coming out of the East again, so I repeated the attempt to ride in that direction along the Santa Rosa Island Highway. As noted yesterday, the road has not been repaired (or maintained at all) since the double hurricane whammy of Ivan and Dennis. Much of it is somewhat rideable, but there are major sections that require dismounting and carrying the bike across major swaths of sand where the road has been completely washed away. On Monday I had gone about seven miles and had “portaged” across three sections. On Tuesday I was determined to complete the journey to Navarre Beach come what may.

It wasn’t the easiest of trips. The first seven miles I had already seen were the easiest. There was far more damage on the Navarre Beach side. There was one section in particular where I had to carry the bike through deep sand for about 50 yards, and then I had twenty yards of pavement where I didn’t even bather getting back on the bike because there followed a 75 yard section of deep sand again. I did eventually reach Navarre Beach, but I figured that I had carried the bike somewhere between ¼ and ½ mile of the eleven or twelve mile trek.

The town of Navarre Beach also suffered badly from the hurricanes. I rode past a lot of construction sites. I would see two very nice houses up on piers, followed by a house on piers leaning at a 20 to 30 degree angle, followed by an empty lot but for six or seven straight piers and ten or so piers sticking out of the sand at odd angles. The scene repeated in various order throughout. And large piles of sand were everywhere.

Happily, there was no damage to the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge, and I was able to cross to Navarre without incident. I turned left at the end of the bridge onto Highway 98 and experienced a lovely tailwind for most of the 15 mile journey to Gulf Breeze. I wasn’t thrilled about having to ride on a major highway, but there was decent shoulder and the (very) occasional “Bike Lane” marking. I also noted that there were several “Bicycles Sharing Roadway” signs, but I didn’t count on their presence to protect me. Rednecks are everywhere, as evidenced by the jerk who screamed something unintelligible (unintelligent, as likely as not) just as the car he was traveling passed me.

I got to Gulf Breeze and turned left to take the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge to Pensacola Beach. It was then that I really appreciated the tailwind from Navarre to Gulf Breeze, and wished I cold have carried a little bit of it with me back over to Pensacola Beach. Mother Nature was having none of that, though, so I slogged across the bridge and the four miles or so back to the condos through the same wind I’d fought to Navarre Beach. I ready for my pre-lunch nap. I was allowed to sleep for ten minutes before MG sent me to the shower (I’ll admit that I did stink by then).

My cyclometer showed just over 39 miles. Add in the parts where I carried the bike and I am happy to round it off to 40 miles.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sleepless 'n Sea-Adled

Greetings from overcast Florida. You may have noticed there was no post on Sunday. That was our travel day. You may also have noticed there was no post yesterday. I’d planned on posting yesterday evening, but Mrs. Guy (MG) had work to do and needed the computer to do it. I waited patiently until midnight, reading a book a friend loaned me, but decided at around midnight that I wasn’t going to be getting online. MG ended up working until sometime between 2 and 3 am.

But there was bicycling yesterday. My parents have rented a condo for the month on Pensacola Beach. The condo is at the eastern end of town and there is no development further east for about eight miles or so through the National Seashore here on Santa Rosa Island between Pensacola Beach and Navarre. Hurricanes have done their damage in recent years (Dennis and Ivan, most notably) and the road going through toward Navarre has been closed to traffic.

Motorized vehicular traffic, that is. I got up yesterday morning and noted that the wind was coming out of the east, so that was the direction that I knew I wanted to start out. I left the condo complex and turned out into a 20 knot headwind. Only a mile or two from the condos is where the road is blocked off. I went around the gate and noticed a lot of other bicycle tire tracks through the sand. Even so, I had the whole road to myse…

Well, that isn’t really accurate. I would say I had the whole road to myself, but that would imply that there was a whole road. There was not. Large sections of the road were intact, but there were many sections that were eroded under, crumbled, or simply washed away. Along one stretch I had the rightmost two feet of pavement I could ride on.

I rode out about seven-and-a-half miles. By that time I had ported my bike across three large sections of sand and decided that was enough for one day. The return trip was dizzyingly quick, as I now had a 20 knot tailwind to assist me. Arriving back at the condos, I decided 15 miles wasn’t enough, so I continued eastward until I got to a detour (for roadwork) and headed back. That made a total of eighteen miles, but I knew I wasn’t done.

Then MG came out to play. We came to Florida with two bikes; my road bike and our tandem. MG and I now took off for a short ride on the tandem. The plan was to go five miles out to the east (the way I’d gone before) and turn around. We rode out along the partial roadway to the turning point and headed back. We’d gotten about one-and-a-half miles when MG asked “What’s that shooshing noise?”

Sure enough, we’d gotten a flat tire. The bad thing was that we had no patch kit, no spare tubes, no pump, nothing. We ended up walking the remaining three-and-a-half miles back, but we counted it as riding miles since the bike was at least with us. And it was a nice walk with the waves crashing against the beach only a few dozen yards to our left.

We did find a bike shop yesterday evening before going over to my brother’s house for dinner. I bought a new tube, a patch kit, tire levers, a CO2 inflator with two cartridges, and a saddle bag to carry them in. The lesson has been learned.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Icy King

Robert Burns' "To a Mouse" is arguably his most famous poem, at least in part. That is, just about everyone has heard one particular line quoted at one point or another (more often than not misquoted), that being this:

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley."

Add an airline into the equation and it's a sure bet.

Mrs. Guy (henceforth "MG") was supposed to get in from NYC last night. We were then going to leave this morning to drive to Florida where my parents have rented a house for the month. Her direct flight from LaGuardia was cancelled due to high winds (as were all ComAir flights). She was then redirected on a flight through Cincinnatti, but...

MG got on the plane for Cincinnatti, but they couldn't leave due to a mechanical problem. What was the problem? The copilot's seat was broken and would not go up and down. Because of this, they had to wait for a mechanic to come and look at it, and he ended up going back to the garage to get a new one and then replacing the old one. This took enough time that MG missed her connection to Knoxville and had to spend the night. The earliest flight here today didn't get in until just afternoon. Ergo, push the Florida trip out one day.

However, I was able to salvage the day by going for a ride this afternoon. Not just any ride. I went mountain biking. I met John B. at his house and we rode over to I.C. King park. I figured out while we were riding through neighborhoods that I hadn't been on a mountain bike ride since March or April. Way too long.

John saved me from myself, though. I foolishly listened to the Weather Channel when they said that the temperature would be in the 50s by 3 pm. I got to John's at about 2:30, and it was nowhere near 50 degrees. He offered up a pair of leg warmers, and I took the offer. I was glad I did. was comfortable clothing-wise with them on, but I'd have been miserable without them. It was cold, especially in shady spots. We went through several spots were it might have been muddy had it been warmer, but it was frozen ground instead.

It was and uneventful ride except for John's sticking chain and my bike deciding to mystery-shift once in a while (probably mad at me for not riding it for so long). I did suffer a pretty severe calf cramp near the end of the ride, but I was able to work it out enough to ride back while compensating with the other leg.

So we now are getting ready to leave for Florida in the morning. At least that's the plan...

Friday, December 08, 2006


Busy day. I'm trying to get stuff ready before the trip to Florida, and it's got me busy running around. I also hope to make it to the Corner Lounge tonight to see Angel and the Love Mongers (a local band) play, but Mrs. Guy's flight plans back from NYC tonight are in disarray right now, so all bets are off.

Still, I owe you guys some answers.

Trivia Answers for 11/30

1. Which Chinese philosopher wrote the Tao Te Ching? That was Lao Tse (or Lao Dsuh, as some want to spell it, which actually is more phonetically correct).

2. The Aum Shinrikyo cult group release what poisonous gas in a Tokyo subway in 1995? They let loose some Sarin gas, which is highly toxic and guarantees a painful death if you breathe in even a small amount.

3. The Prime Meridian (the line denoting 0 degrees of longitude) famously passes through what English town? Also know as the Greenwich Meridian, it passes, of course, through Greenwich.

4. Who played Lenny on Laverne and Shirley? Also one of the stars of the upcoming film "For Your Consideration", it's Michael McKean. I personally think one of his best roles was David St. Hubbins from "Spinal Tap".

5. Which now defunct company’s camera technology made it possible to view images on your computer that you could rotate in all directions – up, down, and side to side? iPix was even a more-or-less local company. I was sad to see them fail, but I was happy that I didn't buy stock.


Trivia Answers for 11/23

1. Who were the Four Horesemen of the Apocalypse? Not from the football team, but the classic horesmen: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death.

2. What are the Seven Deadly Sins (name at least six)? I have to admit that it took Mrs. Guy and me a few tries to come up with all seven. They are: Greed, Lust, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Wrath, and Pride.

3. Name the Three Musketeers plus one. Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and d'Artagnan

4. What was the Fifth Element (from the movie of the same name - you find out near the end)? It's kinda complicated how it all works out in the movie, but the answer is "Love".

5. What is the distinguishing feature of Hemingway Cats? The Hemingway Cats, who occupy his former Key West estate, have six toes.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rack 'Em Up

I'll be gone to Florida next week. I wish I could say it will be warm there, but I'll have to take consolation that it will be warmer, at least compared to here (where it is currently 26 degrees and falling). I don't know that it will get about 60 where I'll be, but at least I'll be able to ride. And, I found out today, so will Mrs. Guy.

I ordered the new roof rack for the car we're taking, and the Bike Zoo guys called today to let me know it was in. All I have to do now is go get it, put it on, and attach the tandem carrier to it. I'll also take my solo bike. I doubt Mrs. Guy will want to ride every day like I plan to, nor nearly as far as I'll want to go.

But don't worry, I should have plenty of internet access while I'm there.

Trivia Time - WWII Edition

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, tonight's trivia will be about World War II stuff. Don't forget to read the Rules, and email your answers to bgoab (at) mindspring (dot) com like always.

1. On what day did the United States officially declare war on Japan?

2. On what day did the United States officially declare war on Germany and Italy?

3. Who was the military head of the Manhattan Project?

4. What is the only photograph to earn a Pulitzer Prize in the same year as its publication?

5. Which Scandinavian country sided with the Axis Powers during World War II?

Non-Theme-Related Bonus Question: The Galileo spacecraft arrived in orbit around Jupiter on this day in what year?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Veni, Vidi, Vice

There was a bike club meeting tonight. I’ve missed the last three for various reasons: I had just broken my clavicles two days before the September one; I was out of the country for the November one; and Mrs. Guy was coming back in town on the evening of the October one (yeah, I know it’s out of order, but the last one was the most defensible to some people). I really needed to go to this one and had planned to anyway, but Phillippe, our current President, emailed the other night and said he’d be out of town tonight, so it would fall to me as VP to run the meeting.

I got there early. All the better to hang out and talk, but also a good way to get to test ride bikes around the parking lot (I needed a fix). I also ended up having to be the one to walk over to the nearby grocer to get adult beverage since I was the only one there who could sign a club check (the checkbook was there, but the Treasurer was running late).

Happily Philippe sent me a loose agenda to follow, and a lot of the stuff to be discussed could be referred to others to explain (whew). The only things I really had to talk about myself were the upcoming cyclocross series and the elections. Turns out that elections for club officers was tonight.

So I announced the nominee for President (Philippe again), Treasurer (Steve again), and Secretary (Holly again). Then I announced that we didn’t have any nominees for VP.

“Oh, that would be you,” said three or four people at the same time.

“Oh, OK. Well, are there any other nominations for any of the offices?”


“Alright then. Well, since we only have one person running for each office I suggest that we just vote as a block for all of…”

Ten or twelve hands were already in the air. Others followed when I paused.

“Ah. OK, all opposed?”

No motion registered whatsoever.

“I guess that’s it then. Your officers carry over for another year.”

So I guess I’m starting my third stint as VP tonight.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ninja Day

It's the Annual Day of the Ninja. Go forth and be stealthy.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I rode today. John B. and I had been talking about doing a ride sometime this weekend, so I talked to him on Friday about trying for today. I let him pick the route.

I also called Joshua. He'd mentioned wanting to get back out on the bike, and since he'd only just moved back to the area from living in South Carolina for two years, he hadn't been able to do a lot of riding recently.

OK, two key things have been mentioned. John picked the route, and Joshua just moved back from South Carolina. John picked a route with quite a few climbs. South Carolina is mostly flat. I think Joshua was suffering a bit today. However, we still had a good ride in some very scenic areas north of town.

Well, we were actually quite a bit north of town, to be honest. Way back in the boonies in most cases. But I still saw something I'd never seen before.

You know how you will sometimes drive past a house where they have what seems to be an automobile graveyard in the front? I'm not talking just one car up on blocks; I mean cars in the plural sense, as in multiple. Often more than two, even. Well, we passed one of those today. But this one was a little bit different. The homeowners in this case were a little different class of redneck. "Upper crust" rednecks as it were.

There, in their front yard, near the obligatory pickup truck on blocks and the land yacht (in this case a Mercury Marquis) with grass going high from underneath, sat, and had obiviously been sitting for quite some time, a Jaguar X-Type. Complete, of course, with the flat tires and the weeds grown high into the undercarriage.

Next thing you know the neighbors will have an Astin Martin up on blocks. This could be the start of a vicious cycle.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


[sigh] The Dish is back.

I feel stained somehow. Not one that is visible, but one that likely coats my aura in big, splotchy spots. There's not much to do for it now, though. I'll just have to live with it until (that is, if) it goes away.

I bought a used pickup truck last night. I needed to go get it registered today and get a new plate for it. I had to go, of course, to the County Clerk's office to do that. They have five or so offices spread out around the county to make it easier for people to get to an office, but there's only one open on Saturdays. That office is in Knoxville Center Mall.

I'd made a promise to myself that I would not go anywhere near either local mall this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I try to avoid the mall in general, but I really can't stand being there during prime shopping season. I'm just slightly unnerved by large crowds to begin with (though it doesn't approach agoraphobia), but it seems that some of the worst aspects of human behavior are actually displayed more prominently during the "Season of Giving".

I was lucky today. I was able to get there early enough that I found a parking space within 500 yards of a door, and I only had to pass through one anchor store to get to the County Clerk's office. After getting my new registration certificate and plate I decided to try to avoid the return trip through the same store, so I went to the "Authorized Personnel Only" door (I deemed myself "authorized") and walked down the corridor to the exit, which was closer to where I'd parked anyway. I did have to pass a couple of stores to get to the corridor, though. It was all I could do to keep from running in one to buy the T-shirt with Homer Simpson on the front dressed like Antonio Banderas from "Once Upon a Time in Mexico". [whew]

The rest of the day has been occupied by going to get a Christmas tree and running numerous other errands. Just perfect for my new (to me) truck.