Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Deep Thoughts on my Mentor.

Pete Beers on his blog posted a great entry on his thoughts of his early mentor in cycle repair and asked everyone to post up a response.  Mine was my dad I have to say. 

My dad went to work for the airline a week before I was born in the summer of 74.  For years before that after being in Vietnam my dad had been a construction worker, but with his new family coming he wanted a better life for us and after getting his GED he finally got a job with a real future.

My dad dropped out of high school in the 50's at 15 to help support his family and due to having un-diagnosed learning disabilities, reading and comprehension were never easy for him at the time.  He worked with horses, cars and later construction before being drafted into Vietnam in the mid 60's.  He spent 3 years in the service and did 2 years in Nam.  Mainly driving tanks and bulldozers as party of  Engineering battalions or such.  Pops first day in country set the tone for his time.  The base they were at had a fire set by the VC that they were using to attack the compound. Pops jumps on a dozer and goes out and pushes out the fire using the blade as cover, while taking fire.  Earns a silver star eventually for doing something stupid and heroic. 

Came back from Nam and then spent time doing mechanical and construction jobs before meeting my mom then he went fully into construction as Northern VA was having it's 2nd big boom in the late 60's/early 70's.  Entire neighborhoods in NVA have roads he cut and neighborhoods where he dug basements for houses.  People I know live in some of the houses.  Weird. 

Eventual I came along and he went to work for the airline.  Worked there for 37.5 years till he retired about 2 years ago.  Nearly un-heard of in this day and age.  I've been with my company now for 8.5 years and that's also unusual in the tech industry, thats one of those things I got from my dad was the desire to stick it through.  I see myself sort of as a classic "company man".

My dad got the moving but and working for the airlines had us move a few times (85, 87, 88 and 91 - 88 was a town move, not a real change of location). (  It was good for me, got me out of where I grew up and really expanded my awareness of the country and how area's were VERY different.  I grew up on Furnace Mountain north of Leesburg, VA till we moved in 85.  From there we hit Phoenix, and Orlanda with a return to Northern VA in between.   We also looked at moving at other times at Raleigh-Durham area, San Diego, and a few other places.  Thats another thing I guess I got from my dad.  The desire to see other places.  Since then I've lived in Providence RI, Tallahassee FL, San Fran Area, and now I'm back in DC.  Future places I might live include Charlotte SC, Asheville, NC and maybe Portland in the PacNW. 

As a kid I watched my dad work on stuff all the time.  He built his own log splitters, wagons for around the house yard stuff, solar water heating setup (in the 80's), and tons of stuff around the house including a huge deck and my tree house of awesomeness.    I watched relentlessly.  Then I grew bold and started using tools myself.  At first I was quite limited.  I favored using a hammer to drive my dads tools into the ground behind the house.  BOY did he love that, especially when he hit them with the mower. 

That led to my first tool set for christmas when i was 6 or 7.  Painted fire engine red.  My own tools.   I played with bolts, screws, etc.  I was shown lefty loosey, righty tighty.  And off I went to his own misery.  My favorite target....the push lawn mower.  :)  It was at my working height when sitting on the garage floor.  Or out back where it was stored.  My first bike also came around that time.  Damn blue banana seated monstrosity.  I hated the seat.  It was scary and I never felt in control.  I did take the stupid flag off the back though.  It wasn't till a year or more later I found my first BMX in the trash that the biking bug caught for me.  With my dad we reabilitated that junker with new tubes, tires, and grease in the hubs and off I went.  First just riding up and down my driveway and front lawn, eventually after riding a mile around my house loop I was cleared to ride ot the general store a mile or so away at 8 and change.  Freedom.

Mechanical work continued, helping dad with log splitters, chainsaws, trucks and going to work and watching him work on ground equipment.  Tinkering on my bike (my first speedometer).  Making up fake weapons for my tree house out of spare parts/pipe/etc.    My dad was always a hard working guy, often cutting firewood in the fall to sell during the fall winter, working OT for extra money to help the family have the things he never had.  I always understood it took hard work to get ahead. 

I started getting payed to feed/manage a neighbors dogs at 7.  At 11 I got my first tax paying job as a paperboy and did that till I was 14 and change when I went to work as a buffet stocker on the weekend at Bob's Big Boy.  Then I was a dishwasher and eventually a buffet cook, and started training as a regular line cook by when I left at 17.  All my money in the teens went to my computer hobby.  Bikes fell by the wayside by 15 as only transportation.  By 17 when all my friends drove the dropped away completely for surfing and roller blading and computers. 

For my dad at least at home it's always been more about getting it done, than necessarily doing it "right" when we first started working on my camero in my late teens this became one of our bigger fighting points.  When we started on the 2nd camero which was a full restoration from parts (not 1 single part was assembled, the car was in basket case condition).  We began to really butt heads, he wanted to take short cuts where I wanted to make everything perfect.   Natural part of the teen versus parent world.  But it was eventually finished and a hell of a car to drive.  He drove it for several years before selling it at a tidy profit to get into his current toy.  A 78 Nova drag car.  Currently on it's 3rd engine evolution, now running in the low 8's easily.  It's a beast.  And he loves it even when he blows up the motor as he did a few weeks ago.  I always enjoy going out to the track to work and tinker and watch it race.  He doesn't drive it anymore, mostly.  My brother drove for a while but they were a bit more into it and butted heads way more. 

These days when I visit my folks, my dad and I putter around in the 2nd garage with the Nova for a bit in the mornings, typically working on projects till lunch then I hang out with my mom in the afternoons, usually going shopping and stuff.  I was always closer to my mom in many ways (Yah I consider myself a Momma's Boy, and my brother would agree), but my understanding of life and how to deal with stuff always came from my dad I think.  In the way to work through, work hard, and then play hard when free. 

Pete mentions that he stayed clean and grease free.   I think thats anathema.  You can't be clean in my family and have done real work.  I look at a bike and I can find grease on fingers or smudge on my face.  My hands and arms have scars from working on computer cases.  I have a scar on my right hand from when my best friend in 7th grade got mad that I let his rear wheel spin while holding up his bike, he threw a  crescent wrench at me!  It's probably the prefectionism of europe/italy versus the rough/tumble/git-r-done way of america I suppose.   :P   Till then I'll wear either tee-shirts I don't care about or dark color workshirts when working on stuff.  My dad still has a supply of old work shirts he uses from the airlines for when doing dirty work. 

These days most bike repairs I do on my own except for my hydro disc brakes and replacing spokes on wheels.  When i can get  a full set of wheel tools I will go back to doing that.  The hydro is just too small for me to work on :P. 

Friday, May 02, 2014

I could have...

I could have ridden my bike home from Kilroy's after the TNR faster than I drove home.  Hell I woulda been home in 45 mins.  E$@%#@ VDOT had 3 of 4 lanes leading up to the Nutley Ave exist closed.  It forced 7 lanes of merging, into 1.  2 Hours to go from the 495N offramp to get to Nutley almost.  ARGH didn't get home till 12:20.  SOfa King Tired today now. 

The TNR ride was solid, we did the ICBMF Ride (Irish Car Bombs Mid Fairfax) ride.  We made a solid pace out there in about 45 mins, then once we hit the CCT we cranked HARD on the return ride back to Wakefield.  7 people made it a good group size. 

Irish Car Bombs are wayyyyy to easy to drink.  it's like adult yoo-hoo. 

No MTB Camp alas this year, stuck in training.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Trail Ouch and Ride Ahhh.

Trailwork yesterday has left me feeling like a burrito that has been riding all day in a bike messangers bag in New York.  We built a BIG ass semi burmed new turn.  By digging 3 massive dirt pits.  My teammate on the dig and I dug the biggest and deepest we got 5 feet deep in most of it.  I offered to bury some people in it, but alas was turned down.  There is also a nice half mile of new trail leading up to it.  At some point we will be forced to close the old trail section on the railroad property but not yet.  With 17 people out we got a TON done.  It's always surprising to see what big groups can do.

Looks like I'll be leading/co-leading a work day on May 10 at Wakefield.  Wakka Wakka Wakka as fozzy bear would say.

Riding my ass off the last 2 weeks.  7 hours ish of cycling the last 3 weeks.  Plus technically 4 hours of trailwork yesterday.  I'm a beast.  Slowly building fitness back but speed at least on the commute hasn't come but legs are TIRED.  Gonna try and get in a run tonight before it rains.  Tomorrow maybe a rest day or maybe Wednesday.  Not sure.  I'll be at 28/29 hours for the month not counting trail work as of tonight (33 with) which will  mean I flat out did as much time doing stuff in april as I did in the ENTIRE 1st quarter of 15+8+12 or very nearly. 

Just found out I'm getting screwed out of Spring Man Camp by a training class that just got moved to Tue-Fri instead of Mon-Thurs.  Fuck.  Fuckity Fuck.

Maybe I'll try Kill Bill on Saturday. hahahaha or at least the 1st third. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

To Shjed or not to Shjed.

Solid weekend in the books.   Friday was a well needed rest day.  Saturday we did a Shed Epic 24/25 miles of  the Fred-neck Waterless Shed.  For having gotten a bit of rain overnight it was REALLY dry.  We did a bunch of trails including Dave's, Huggy, Lawn Mower, EF, Trail of Tears, No-Longer-Knucklebuster, Hairway to Steven, and at Sallamander I bailed for the road ride back to Hamburg lot.  Got a pretty good sunburn on that.  Ugh. 

We cleaned up and hit Tex Mex place in Frederick then picked up b33r and rolled on down to S'leesburg for a few hours of socialization at the Bakers Dozen.  Almost was sad to not be riding it while watching people go roundy round. 

Spent Sunday catching up on some house stuff then helping a friend fix her house after some windows were installed.  I also helped her dispose of my old TV I had given her for her bedroom some years ago when I got my LCD.  The TV was from July 1990 according to the manufacturer sticker. I did have it repaired once while I was living in Tallahassee in 2001 or 2002 I think but other than that it still mostly  worked.  But it was a big huge power sucking monstrosity.  Weighted maybe 75lbs or more.  Was a big 24 or 26 inch.  My arms and shoulders are SORE. 

Riding into work today was rough.  With sore shoulders and legs I didn't spin out or run on yesterday it was a battle at first plus a solid headwind from the west SUCKED.  After today's commute and maybe a short run tonight, I will have my most active month since December and I will be on pace to hit my best month of last Sept at 31 hours. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

That late in the season push.

Last week marked the start of the late in the spring season push.  Due to March's entire suck-ass-ed-ness (I'm ordering studded tires this spring/summer for next year), I'm just now starting to up my fitness push.

Jan - 15 Hours, 154M, 14 Activities
Feb - 8 Hours, 87M, 8 Activities
Mar - 12 Hours, 112M, 13 Activities
Apr - 7 Hours, 72M, 8 Activities, plus 1/15/1 for today's commute once it's logged.

Since starting on Strava last year I avg 23/265/19 and peaked in Sept with 31/420/21

April has to be a BIG month for me.  May brings Man Campage in NC with the fella's.  That's a season definer.

June is the NoVA epic, and my annual MTB trip.  To where?  I dunno.  NY?  VT?  Camp and Ride. 
20 Activities a month is pretty sustainable.  25 is my goal.  Though unless I continue 3x a week commuting ALL year my 250 goal is a bit of a stretch.  Especially now that I'm working 5 days a week instead of 6.

Big options this weekend, hoping for a shjed ride on Saturday.  Then either a 40 mile gravel ride with Pete on Sunday or epic cleanout at J's.

Monday, April 07, 2014

MORE mechanicals 2014 - A weekend rules.

The Weekend is coming.   In just 4  more days I will have 2 days off again.  Woke up at normal work time on Saturday but rolled back over and managed to sleep till 730 when the 3 beers from the night before demanded I really get up or burst like Grampa Simspon on the way back from the Duff theme park.

Errands and shit most of saturday.  It was actually a pretty busy day.  Finally replaced the old Motorola Droid with a new HTC One M8.  It's bad ass.  A tad large but otherwise I totally dig it.  Battery life rocks, sunday I played music, web surfer, facebook, mapped and took photo's while trail riding and at 10:30 (15+ hours) had 55% left.  Versus the old phone would have MAYBE been at 10% with similar usage.

New pads in the rear of the MTB made a huge difference, though the grabby/rub at first sucked some of my soul out on Sunday.

Went up to Gambrill on Sunday to do Punga's ride and had a great time the first half then one of the riders rear hub started failing and so I went back to the lot with him.  7 Miles total, we were lucky he could road ride back, just no real coasting or chain suck went horribly.  Went down and picked up some specialty Rye for a friend at an MD liquor store and then hit the 2 northern sections of CJ.  I didn't do the lollipop off of the Goya area but did everything else though I didn't ride back on trails due to running a bit late. 

Grilled up some steak, salmon and sausages to cap off a solid weekend.

Tomorrow it's back on the bike for commuting. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Not Dead Yet

After innumerable viewings of Better of Dead this winter (nothing else to do, it was too snowy/rainy/cold) to generally ride my bike more than 1 day a week), I got back on the commute horse today.  Well back on the Volpe and rolled into work.

Holy Sheet.  I'm #@@$@ outa shape.  Or my legs aren't used to that!   My layering was also not optimal or being outa shape is making me VERY sweaty.  I was in tights, bib shorts,  long sleeve wooly and a jacket at 44'ish and I was sweaty as a pig when I got to work, next time I go wooly and sleeveless vest and 3/4 light pants.    The bigger question is boots versus shoes with toe covers.  I'm leaning towards the toe covers. 

In other news I'm tracking my b33r/drink intake for April to try and reduce a bit. Or set a reduction goal.  For now I'm at 2.  I really didn't mean to have the 2nd one last night!  Honest!  The Perennial Sump Coffee stout is great with nice coffee/chocolate balance.  Founders Nitro Oatmeal Stout is just smooth as hell. 

For the first time in 8.5 years almost I'm going to have a regular Sat-Sun weekend starting this weekend.  Road bike ride on Saturday morning and MTB on Sunday with Punga at Gambrill.  Hell yah! 

Now if only the rains would slow down.