Monday, August 31, 2009

5+ years

Yesterday was a personal milestone. I raced for the first time in 5 years. A LOT has changed since I stopped racing, some good, some bad. When I stopped racing the last thing I thought was I'd be able to do this again, but low and behold I lined up for a mountain bike race REALLY uptight! I'd always been uptight before a race, so the old adage of the more often you race, the less stressed it is. NOT for me... I was smart enough to get a good nights sleep Friday, and Saturday found myself staring at the ceiling at 3:30 in the morning about to bail on the whole thing. I lay there reminding myself I have done next to no workouts of any kind over the last month, and knew I have all but lost the conditioning I had at the end of my summer (End of July) My weeks have been filled with coaching responsibilities 5 days a week and a ride on the weekend. I think I rode the mountain bike about 5 or 6 times in the last year, and still didn't think I was anywhere near being as comfortable on the bike as I should be when racing. I had psyched myself out, but realistically speaking, was honest in my apraisal of my overall fitness, but had to accept where I'm at and "just show up". So Saturday I got a ride in, came home, and did the traditonal bike cleaning. I'm convinced racers clean their bikes as a way to deal with pre-race nerves. The bike was clean but the nerves remained... When I got to the race, I began to see people in the cycling community that I haven't seen in quite a while and everyone was very cordial and supportive. The family came with as well because it was a chance to see dad race a bike again after all this time. So... I had concerns, but after a sign of the cross and a sincere prayer found myself at the start line with the biggest group of the day( of course). AND WERE OFF! I know from past experiences how demanding and hurting a bike race is so there was no surprises there, only lactic dust to be blown off my muscles. I put a heart rate monitor on the bike the night before to help me gauge my effort for the event, and managed to ride the whole event pretty close to where I think I could hang. It was a great race, it was a tough race. I can't tell you how greatful I was for the support from family and friends. Funny how you could be hammering thru a course and pick out your kids encouragement in the distance. I took 8th place in my race(and 41st out of all sport categories). I was caught off guard and humbled by the results. I thank God for my gift of riding ability, and it never ceases to amaze me what I can do from an athletic perspective. The days leading up to the race, one of my boys asked me why I entered the sport class since I don't race anymore, and reminded me there is a citizen race for non racers. I mentioned I wanted to get the miles out of the entry fee,and challenge myself,nevertheless they thought I was crazy. It was very cool how impressed they were with my performance, and to hear a teenager tell you they were bragging about my race to their friends?! PRICELESS!. Like I said I was humbled by my results. Now to raise the cash for a sweet 29er and jump back into the racing world next year - in the dirt. HMMMM

MAN has it been....

This past week has been a tough one. I am continuosly stressed at work, pulled in too many directions, finding it hard to prioritize based on too many projects, too little of help and am feeling completely burnt out. I'm also feeling the toll of no time to work out, forget riding, I'm talking not even running. A family health scare has me really upset as well. All in all it's a recipe for personal disaster. I recognize the fact, and am trying my damnest to regroup, but it's proving to be pretty difficult. I have options but not sure of anything at the moment. UGHHH

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rain Rain go away...

Rainy days, especially a number of them in a row are a drag. I signed up for a local mountain bike race this weekend and here comes the rainy days. No excuses, but the tires I have have been tested in wet conditions and suck. I've been trying to get one day a week on the trails to get comfortable on my MTB. I haven't ridden it in quite a while, so I had to reaquaint. Unfortunately Since the 1st week of August I've had other commitments occupying my time, some I'm not happy about at all.... With little time on my hands, I've noticed an understandable loss of speed, endurance etc. NOT that I'm anything to worry about in a race since I haven't raced in about 5 or so years, but my life as it is right now has reduced me to a weekend warrior. Hasn't helped my frame of mind at ALL. Nevertheless I hope the trails dry out a bit by Sunday, and I look forward to at least getting in a days worth of racing. Jus't dont look for me to be high in the rankings :) Like I said I hate rainy days, and it brings out the humdrums. But maybe it's times like this that I can come up with a better plan to rearrange to my advantage...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cornball Happenings analyzed

I realized what one of issues is (just one LOL). I love the sport of BMX. I grew up when the sport literally exploded, and not only had a cool ride, but spent a LOT of time perfecting my aerial acrobatics. The issue is I still wax poetic about that time, and when I get on a BMX bike in the right/wrong circumstances (depending on how you look at it) I jump right back into fearless full tilt boogie mode. About 5 years ago it happened at a BMX race track. Took one of the kids there to try racing. I brought a cruiser, and during warmups crashed so hard I had to have my jaw wired and arm casted. Fast forward to this past weekend. I was on the same type of BMX bike, and never thought twice about letting it all hang out. Racing mini bikes down the street no problem. Aerial kick outs, no handers no problem. CRASH. Based clearly on my lack of control,I think I need to finally stay off BMX bikes, and "Walk away tall"...

Monday, August 24, 2009

cornball happenings

Sucks... Saturday in what was a corball accident I fell off a BMX bike and landed on my face. WTF?! I'm embarrased and pi$$ed all at the same time. Nothing like walking around with roadrash on your face... It was a freak stupid thing but I guess that's why they call them accidents. Like I said even though I'm trying my best to take it in stride, I'm definitly embarrased. Don't feel like repeating the story over and over at work, I've got to stop crashing on BMX bikes. Somebody should remind me of my age. Bike is fine LOL. Sometimes and this was a sometimes I do stupid things. Like I said, SUCKS...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

NOT on Wednesday!!

I've scheduled Wednesday as the one day during the week I have to myself - read (ride or run). Yesterday with clouds looming and the threat of rain for late in the day, I did whatever I could to get out. I managed to squeeze in about 45 minutes of trail riding and then the rains started. So much for my new adventures off road. Not fair that it rained on MY day LOL. The cool thing that occured yesterday was taking one of the kids to work with me. Theres nothing better for your ego than hearing how cool of a job you have coming from a little person. I thouroughly enjoyed their company for the day. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

WOW I'm now the proud owner of...

a kid in highschool! Is this a milestone? I remember MY first day of highschool. I don't think I felt as young as I think my kid is... That sentence DOES make sense. Can't wait to hear how things went!! Other than that I'm overwhelmed and confused, lost, etc LOL
I wonder if benny still exists?

Monday, August 17, 2009

athletes and medicine

I can speak from experience when I say, as an athlete, I think we may be the hardest type of individuals to convince of the need to be on medications. We feel it is a sign of weakness, or of not being able to win in the fight to make ourselves better. We also typically tend to be very intune with our bodies and notice such things as side effects or differences in our bodies much moreso than the typical person. I learned this the hard way a number of years ago, but thank God have bounced back and my health improved thanks to the marvels of modern day medicine. I now find myself faced with another medicine taking decision dilemma. I've been on the fence rearding the outcome for quite a while but have said or typed little to nothing regarding the situation. It's funny, I no longer race at the competitive level I once did, and to be honest, I don't see the opportunity to race that way anytime soon for number of reasons. I also can only find the time to train on my own when time permits. Regardless, I still concern myself with the possibility that taking a new medicine may hinder my training performance, not racing results but fitness levels. I can honestly say I take pride in my personal quest to get in shape, and am proud of all the work I've done to get where I'm at in my 40s... It's a bit crazy but it's true and it's NOT an easy decision for me to make. We sometimes fall into a trap of defining who we are by how fast or how far we can go, and again, for some like me, not against others but against ones self. SOOOO, it's time for some deep personal reflection - maybe I should go for a run or ride to clear my head...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hey YOU!!

A phrase taken from the opening song on Chickenfoot's new CD. Sammy where the FCU%$K have you been?! I seen them live this past week and all I can say is the band Hagar put together makes it clear why Sammy fronted the MIGHTY Van Halen, and why I have been a really big Hagar fan since first listening to the album Standing Hampton when it was a new album. The band was excellent. Totally dug the entire show. New CD is one of the first new releases I have kept in constant rotation since Velvet Revolver's debut. Satriani on guitar gives the songs a lot of opportunity to showcase some great tone and licks, and Chad Smith on drums has to be seen live to enjoy. It's like your watching Will Smith on drums manerisms and all. Sammy, welcome back dude!

Monday, August 10, 2009

"suddenly you wake up in a sickened panic"

Lyrics from a GREAT song by one of my favorite bands - REM... I woke up about an hour ago in a "sickened panic". I have to go back to work tomorrow (after a wonderful week off), and the number of things I have to do started running thru my mind.I'm completely overwhelmed, and have no idea how I'm going to get thru this. Needless to say I'm up in the middle of the night stressed out. THAT SUCKS! Right now I don't see how I'm going to be able to jump on the stuff that needs to be addressed, and then there is all the emails and "stuff" that I will be hit with because I was out last week. No wonder I have been short tempered, and frustrated for the last 2 days. In the back of my mind I knew this was coming, and of course the flood gates of being overwhelmed had to let loose at 2 in the flippin morning :( NOT good. The bad thing is I'm not the only one here who is going back to work with concerns and that REALLY SUCKS! Yes I'm greatful to have a job, but the stresses it causes REALLY makes me wish I could walk away and do something else. JEEZ I wish it were that easy. So here I sit with another edition of work related insomnia. What to do? :(

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I had made a goal in the beginning of the year to get 1000 miles on the bike this summer. This past week for all practical purposes was the end of my summer as far as vacation time and evening fee time is concerned. coaching football will now take up a majority of my evenings, so after work rides will be pretty much out of the question. No complaints just a fact... So this morning with about 950 miles in my legs I set out to reach my goal. Windy and temps supposed to be about 97 which is probably the hottest day of the year. Mission accomplished :) I decided to put together the hilliest route I could to make it worth while and as epic as I could - something about that last big one had to be special. In one resoect I'm bummed that summer went by so quickly, but on the other hand I did ride (and run) myself into some pretty decent shape. For those of you that race, 1000 miles is not that big of a deal, and as a matter of fact it is recommended that you get that many miles in the small ring before hammering thru summer(old school training). For me it was indeed a big deal, and that magic number seems to be the point where I feel the snap back in the legs. I'm feelin pretty good today, thanks to 2 wheels and plent of open road.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

just pulled off a great family getaway

I never spent a vacation with my entire extended family, and this past week we did just that. With 3 different families it could have gone either way. The way it went was in the direction of wonderful. Precursor -I don't talk about it much, instead it unfortunately "ate away" at me for the better part of the summer, but my mom has been sick and I was terribly worried about her health. Thank God her and my dad, my brother and his wife and kids and my circus all got together in a summer home in Michigan for a brief trip. It was great, I have zero complaints. I probably had one too many burgers, and steaks, but "when in rome"... I hope everyone had enjoyed the time together as much as I did, and it really seems like that was indeed the case. I think I mastered the art of golf cart driving as well. I was going to bring the bike to get some miles in but decided it wasn't necessary, and landed up getting a good 7 mile run in with my brother instead. His marathon training is really paying off, and it shows in the quality of his workouts. It's too bad he can't touch me on the hills ;) The only bummer was I brought my scope up there (after I cleaned off the dust from it laying dormant for far too long) but the full moon washed out what could have been some nice dark skies. Not a big deal, and if anything reminded me that my interest in Astronomy has been neglected for too long. I think it's time to rekindle the interst and reaquaint the boys to a fun hobby. I'm really greatful that we were all together for this trip. It was tricky to plan, and all things considered, THANK GOD we were able to pull it off and have it turn out so nice. To all my regular long time readers, be sure to call your moms, dads, brothers and sisters and tell them you love them today. The todays go by quickly...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

going out with a bang

well not necessarily a "BANG", but this week is my final full week of vacation. It is also the first week of football, which means I will be on the field coaching almost every night of the week. I had a goal to get in 1000 miles on the bike this summer, and going into this week I was at about 750. I took advantage of my time off by getting in some good rides. It's been great being able to get a good 50 miler in almost every day :) I even turned yesterday into a big workout day by running a 10 miler with my long time personal manager AFTER getting a hilly route in on the bike. EPIC! All my laundry this week has been workout clothes LOL. Feelin good....
I also finished the chocolate strat, and I have to say it came out GREAT. I'm extremely pleased with my work. I can honestly say that my trial and error thru the years has finally got me to the point of really knowing how to not only finish a guitar body quite nicely, but equally important is the fact I have honed my skills at the all important art of guitar setup and adjustment.

So last night I had the THRILL of playing with "the boy", it was EXCELLENT. He reaffirmed the fact he can really play well, and he makes everything look way easier than it is. When we found a song I could play along to, (Aerosmiths Mama Kin) it sounded great. I am thrilled that we did that. It sounded really good, and I've been really hoping this would happen. Hopefully it's just the beginning of the dual guitar attack of "Ray squared".
So a lot of cool things have been going on this week, and the timing of it all is pretty good. Forget about tomorrow, go for it today...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Truss rod adjustments

So many of my regular readers (LOL) who play guitar have asked how to adjust the relief on a guitar neck. Since I am at that stage in my current guitar building project I thought it would be a good idea to provide some instruction...

Checking Relief

Check your necks relief- Here is a simply way to check the relief in the neck if one doesn't have a straightedge handy... the instrument strung to pitch fret a string on the 1st fret and where the neck meets the body.

Checking Relief
By fretting a string on 2 points we can then use the fretted string as a type of straightedge and get a visual as to how much relief is in the neck.

Measuring the gap between top of fret and bottom of string gives us an indication of how much relief is in the neck.

Now observe the space between the fretted string and the point of greatest relief...usually the 6th or 7th fret depending on the length of the neck. This gap can be measured with a feeler gauge if need be (you can place a capo on the first fret to free up one hand). If there is no gap, this is an indication that the neck is either dead flat or in a backward bow.
If the gap is substantial the truss rod may need to be tightened to reduce excess relief.

Determining the ideal relief The ideal relief for your instruments neck will depend on string gauge, playing style and the instrument itself. Light pickers, jazz musicians and the like may find .004/.006 gives the neck a very fast feel. The necks stiffness and willingness to flex can sometimes interfere with our desires though.
Those who have a moderate to heavy strum, like flappy extra light gauge strings, have a rounder f/b radius etc. may come to realize more relief (say .008-.012) may be necessary so that the strings can avoid buzzing.