Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Decorations

Christmas in the house!

We got a tree a few days ago and watching it morph into something special was lots o fun. Boogy took special interest in this new unmarked territory in the house and it took quite the persuasion to convince him it was mine and he better not try to mark it as his own. In addition this week we were able to set up the outside lights which tend to brighten things up a bit as well. Here’s a few shots of “Christmas at the Chandler’s.”

A homemade present from the in laws.

We Knew boogs was thinking about lifting a leg.

Abby politely informed him this would be a household act of war.

Fully decorated and alive.

Biker ornaments...

Homemade ornaments.

Random ornaments.

"inappropriate" home made ornaments. (you have to look for these to find them.

MSG #6

MSG 5 might have been the most fun I’ve had at a cross race in a long time but number 6 was absolutely insane from a spectator standpoint. The hill, which morphed from a run up, to a free for all death climb, evolved over the course of the day with the addition of some especially rowdy fans.
The hill was super steep

By the time the pro ½ race rolled around a large crowd had gathered and had begun to “seed” the hill mud with dollar bills. This only adds to congestion on the hill as racers bend over for bills and struggle to get up at the same time. This hilarity finally reaches its penultimate status when people begin to fall over on their high dollar cross bikes reaching for a dollar bill, or as in my case racers are tricked by the “ole’ dollar bill on a sting routine”. One particularly rowdy group of ETSU kids had a bill on a string and managed to get me to chase it to the side of the crowd where half confused and full of lactic acid I wrestled this unsuspecting fisherman into submission for a little piece of Washington.

On this particular lap the prize for the first person to the top riding was 3 pairs of socks.

My races went very well. I got 4th in the pro 1/2 race , a new PR for a field with star studded depth, and won the single speed race. I was worried going into the single speed race about energy reserves as the crowd had “forced” me to ride the hill multiple time the previous race. The resulting cheer high you got by getting up the hill often seemed to offset the extra energy required for the feat. There’s no question the power of the Santa hat I wore was the root responsibility for all my successes this weekend.

Another view of the steep grade.

The single speed race started badly I sat in about mid pack and watched Todd, my closest competitor, whom I had to finish no less that two people behind to keep my lead in the points, begin to run away with the race. After considerably fighting with chasing riders I was able to break free and bridge up to Todd by the close of the first lap. Going into a muddy corner near the hill of spectators I bobbled a bit but held the muddy corner faster than I had wanted, and then heard a collective gasp from the crowd as Todd bit it in the mud. My first inclination was to peg it and try to put some time on him, but I decided to not do so as he had done for me previously and then once he got back on I did throw down everything I had. I think falling down hard like that definitely breaks your rhythm, as the previous 2 races I experienced a similar fall and then never could get back into things. I was able to hold the lead till the end and finish off a great fall CX single speed season with a W. While it’s nice to win a custom made bad ass trophy sometimes, I find I really have to come to enjoy just the pure fun of single speed cross as my new favorite racing niche.

Abby sporting her Washington prize from the hill.

Abby was able to hold on for a strong fifth and a good start to her racing in women’s CX. We also completed her new commuter/single speed build in the parking lot (with lots of help from my dad while I was racing) for her to be able to compete in the single speed race as well, which she had a blast in.
I snagged a few Washingtons myself, 3 pairs of socks, and a few other hill prizes.

On a sad note this was my last appearance with facial "hair" (I can't grow the "wolfman" Z Johnson). While I couldn't convince the family and wife that "Decembeard" existed, there might be a slight chance for "Bearduary" comeback.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Special thanks to my parents for racer accommodations, service (fresh waffles), and personal cheering sections during the race.

What's this white stuff falling on my head?

Fighting through the rear ranks of the field is tough with these guys.

This was a "run up". I figured that out the hard way, after losing several positions I had fought hard for on the first lap.

Ok this white stuff is starting to stick to the course...this could get interesting...

Dirk and I both used this tactic a little more than others I think.

Cori comes to my rescue and we start trading pulls against the pack of wolves behind us.

Case of the "Dave red shins" and ice buildup after one of the races on my leg.

Derailleurs work better without application of mud and ice.

No Shifting up here either.

By the start of the single speed race it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Andy attacks and Todd and I try to hang on.

My ride becomes the solo survival on the ice sheets and snow of death.

I swore my bike was getting heavier...and it was.

This weather was meant for single speeds.

A lonely bike in the pits.

Icicles forming throughout the day.

Snow pack by race end was impressive and lots of fun.

More shots of the course.

Race Report-

While I love CX, once in a while there comes a race that is special and will sit in memory for a long time. This weekend was one of those. The conditions were already set to be epic, with brutal cold in the morning (16 deg) and course that had an interesting mix of ice and mud. Grown men were rendered crawling invertebrates on icy corners that were not given heed. Periodic sun melted frozen dirt and mud and then refroze when the clouds came around. Around the time the pro race started the temperature began to drop again and a few flurries started to fall. What ensued was some of the most intense cross conditions I’ve encountered in quite some time. The course morphed from semi slick mud and ice slurry to a full on slushy with the first snowflakes. I started the P1/2 race in the caboose region and soon by what I deemed sheer luck people began to fall. They we dropping like flies, the snow that was slushy for the first few laps was now being packed ever more and becoming sheets of ice. Corners were reduced to glorified ice skating rinks and people were flailing about (myself included) frustrated at the limited purchase and little comfort offered by their tires. By the end of the race I started fading a lot but Mr. Rimmer stormed up to my aid and trading off pulls one another we defended our positions till the end of the race.

Then came the single speed race…By now the full force of the white tempest was upon us. Glasses were useless and my helmet visor afforded the only protection for my face. Now I know why those CX nuts in Belgium wear those goofy damn hats all the time in the mud and snow. Andy and Todd shot off the front and with my hands wet and half frozen in my gloves I struggled to hold on to the initial attacks. By the second lap I had somehow worked my way to the front but we were all very aware of the mounting tension in the front. As we crossed the line starting the third lap Todd shot off and never looked back. Andy and I chased but were soon dropped as I think the Pro 1/2 race had taken all we had out of us. Andy then proceeded to drop me on the final lap and I spent the remainder of that last lap in crisis mode, but also having the time of my life. With a good stretch of land between me and next guy I tried a few sides through some corners and felt out some good handling characteristics of my tires in snow pack. While winters in TN are mostly rainy rather than snowy, if we get some more I’ll feel a bit more confident with my handling ability on it. I was having so much fun at the end of the single speed race I really did want it to go no for another few laps but all good things must come to end I suppose. So for now I’ve still got the slightest of leads in the single speed points series and going into the last race I find myself grappling with the decision to abandon the Pro 1/2 and concentrate on the single speed riding to finish strong or to continue my duel race format which I think is helping my overall cross fitness out considerably.

Props to all the Knox peeps that represented this weekend. JM had a great single speed race absolutely crushing all that lay in his path, Cori crushed me and the Gregs looked strong as well. Abby crept a little up on her competition in the points series and my mom fortified hers with another strong finish. It took some tough skin to come out on such a cold day but in the end it was a great race.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cold weather commuting...

Commuting a 2 weeks ago was really a good wake up call to cold riding, and it seems to be headed that way again this week with some early snow flurries and sleet. I'll be looking forward to some more of these cold rides soon.

Numbers don't lie and the numbers on my new 1 $ Kroger temp probe say it's cold outside.

I asked Boogy if he wanted to go outside like he often does in the mornings. When it's this cold I usually get some lethargic response and a groan like this.

So it's just me, cold, dark, and my poor attempts at a no shave November.

At least my water never gets too warm now. When it starts to freeze I usually throw it in my back jersey pocket a bit for a quick thaw.

AND...In response to Zac's open letter to warm weather I give you:

An open letter to cold weather:

Dear cold weather,

Thank you so much for finally coming. We've been waiting for you for a while and frankly it's about damn time you showed up. We had been sweating our balls off till now. I too have a lot of work and things going on with schoool/research, and I just wanted to thank you for giving me incentive to resist the urge to go outside and play my life away. It's time to buckle down and work and you know it.

To be honest, I can't count the ways I love you. No really, I can't feel my fingers so there would be no way to feel how high I was counting. But I will say I love how you bring out that alive feeling in my extremities. My fingers and toes sometimes ache and you politely slap them in the face and silence their pains, which ironically only return when entering into man made warm environments, where they are allowed to complain freely. I love the feeling of icycles over my face as the morning wind rushes by, the deafening silence you invoke on small animals along the greenways, and the confused grimaces of people that look onto me through their warm and empty cow eyes at the stop lights.

While we all complain a bit when you show up, we mean nothing by it. After surviving exposure to your wrath and telling the tale, men feel like lumberjacks and ladies like...lumberjacks after a successful day providing for their larger than life American families. No one wants to be a weatherman. Greenway riding is elevated to the next level of difficulty with randomly placed patches of ice and frozen debris. This keeps me from dozing off should I get too comfortable riding in. I know you do this because you care about me, and if I do fall I can always just lay there and take comfort in the instant ice pack that is the ground.

So kick back your feet, and put on your coat. I'll put a nice ice cream sundae out for you. And tell that "tan in a can" brethren of yours, warm weather, to just stay south. I have no need for aussie ladies and they onyl stir up trouble. I just want some snow to build myself a snow fort capable of withstanding atomic fireballs, gale force winds, and a collapsing economy.



Monday, November 10, 2008


Been busy with school, and life in general so here's some quick updates...

Cross Season Update:

Went to Fayetteville for the Beat the Freak CX series. I ended up winning the CX Pro1/2 and the SS races both days. The fields were a bit thinned for the USGP CX race in Kentucky, but I had a great time and the race director, Kevin Freeman is the nicest down to earth man on the planet. If anyone is going to save the future of cycling by planting the seed of the pure joys of riding in our youth, it is this man. He has single handed converted many children in the town to commuters/ bike riders, opening a shop on his own time and money to help them out, in a garage in his backyard.(more pics to come later) With people like this cycling has a future in everyone's lives. The weekend was spent traveling with my mom, who kept me awake with hours of good conversation. The town was hosting a Jack Daniel's cookoff so we had to stay out of town in a hotel that was about 20 minutes away. We were accompanied on one side bya truck stop and chicken place with a 12 foot tall paper mache chicken, and on the other side was the "Boobie Bungaloo" which needs no further explaining. Apparently this area was a hotbed of activity when Alabama banned strip clubs in the county directly to the south.

I confirmed relative field strengths the following weekend at the "Spooky Cross" race where I was severely whooped by class A CX racers. Although I was thoroughly spanked I had an "udderly" fun day at the races, courtesy of my mom's creativity and sewing prowess.

Knoxville Family stuff:

This past weekend went for a greenway ride with the wife and met her dad for a nice ride into downtown, where we ate at Tomato Head courtesy of Smart Trips. We followed our meal with a healthy dose of pre Christmas shopping with a gift certificate I had received at the Rescue Squad a short time ago.

It was a little chilly and Abby's dad was chastised for showing with a miller high life hat instead of a helmet. He actually forgot it this time, but we decided no excuses for next time as he tried twice to take a short cut off the greenway into the creek and woods.

We didn't quite make it back to the house before dark but the green way is now finished to the theater at Cedar Bluff and well lit, so we managed.


Did some trail work at Hastie park on a new trail that's going in. We laid out the main trail system and cleared a path, for future work which will probably require a good amount of benching, but this trail promises to be pretty sweet.

The canopy made my point and shoot camera have a fit with motion but I figured these were good enough to convey a funny little thing that happened while clearing.

Lots of chopping of lower canopy greens got us tired. Luckily there were upper canopy vines across the trail in places to cut and pull down to give us a little variety. Most were small, but some were really big...

Grape vines can be strong. Cliff and I decided this one might come down with a little persuasion. What we failed to grasp was exactly how extensive this vine was above us.

Down came the men cradle and all...The vine hurt a bit but after we realized no one had been seriously maimed we enjoyed a few laughs.

It was after this work I realized who we were missing from our work crew to help us "get it done."

On the Home front:

The neighbor's cats got under our house and ripped out some insulation and I spent Sunday morning this past weekend putting up new insulation and patching a few areas that had yet to be covered. I also installed a lamp upstairs for Abby to replace the hanging wires and light bulb that had been there for over a year. So now we are somewhat aesthetically pleasing in the upstairs portion of the house. The ceiling base unit was a pain to install, but the wiring and everything else was a snap.

Ok that's it more coming soon...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

MSG #1/ #2


MSG #1 has rekindled the CX fire under my ass. A weekend of great racing with friends and family yielded untapped fun CX is renown for.

Bunny strutting her stuff in the sand. (her first official CX race!)

Yet another way to get across a sand pit.

The slide technique. Lots of sand made for lots of carnage!

Mom led the first few laps of the races.

D-Rock and this "green dude" had battles of epic proportions all weekend. Each relenting to the other on alternate days.

Dirk Playing in the dirt.

Jenna Bales from NC works her way through the pit of despair.

Bunny Hopping

Hey that looks like my bike!

And Again!

Dirk leaves smoke trails when he corners.

The magical beat of a 55 gallon drum I got from a French stomp like band called Les Tambours du Bronx kept people going over the barriers.

It also evidently is a chick magnet.

So last year I got off to a really bad start with MSG. I tripped on a barrier and face planted into the second one knocking myself unconscious, breaking my nose and wrist, and damn near breaking my neck. So my expectations for MSG #1 were to get the weekend through without incident and finish a cross race. Mission accomplished. I actually did 4 cross races this weekend and I’m still feeling it mid week afterward. Saturday’s races brought the first of 4 very good results for me.

The Saturday Cat 3 race blew apart early and after struggling through the middle of the field I was able to break free to the front with 3 racers. The guy who won put a big gap on us which I was able to close twice, but every time I would close up to him he would attack again and destroy me. I eventually cracked and he ran away with the race nearly lapping the entire field. Still I was able to hold off the third place guy and grab a second place and I was completely stoked by that.

Sunday’s Cat 3 race had a smaller field but the competition was still quite fierce. Cori Rimmer had just gotten a cross bike and I remember thinking “shit”, because Cori has taught me a thing or two on my cross bike with his mtn bike. Cori drove hard off the start for the hole shot prize and gapped the entire field. I about gave up on chasing him, but I saw him sit up after crossing the line for the prize so I drove hard to catch on. After a lap of sparring back and forth I realized this kid could out sprint me just about any day and decided to lay down everything I had to get a mid race gap. To my amazement, it worked and I kept in about 20-30 seconds off for most of the rest of the race. I felt good about it till Cori said he had done a cross country race the day before, but still before this kid goes pro I got that one time when he was younger when I got him.

Cori sporting the socks. You could hear "go socks" in the crowds.

The Singlespeed races over the weekend by far went the best for me and I have to say I had the most fun on them of all the races. Both days had massive fields and the starts were insane. Saturday’s race brought an old racing theme back to cross for me…The dueling between myself and Todd Braswell from NC (where the real bad ass CX’ers in the southeast are from). I believe the quote of the race was “Hey Jeremy, just like old times eh?” Todd and I were able to break away from the field early and then the battle of wits began. Singlespeed cross is a lot more finesse because you just get spun out in sections and so all you can do is spin like a freak and draft where it’s open and pray that the momentum you need to get ahead in the corners does not exceed the traction capabilities of your tires. We took turns drafting off each other and taking leads but no one was ever able to break free. Coming around the final lap, the lead was changed a half a dozen times and we made light contact several times in tighter corners. The rush! The final stretch was a long uphill pavement section transitioning into a humped flat field for the line. Todd went hard to try to drop me initially on the hill and then I saw him sitting up to wait for the final sprint. It was at this time I decided I would not be able to out sprint him and I decided to go. I think I caught him a little off guard and by the time he responded I had a couple of bike lengths on him, which I was able to hold to the line. A super exciting race with a great finish. I have dreams about such races and it couldn’t have been more exciting. The drumbeat, combined with the crowd excitement only made it that much more of a rush. Todd is my idol when it comes to cross finesse as he’s got the techniques and handling skill set of a CX cat.

Sunday’s CX race was regretfully in Todd’s absence but another dark horse we hadn’t noticed right behind us, John Brenner, stepped up to the plate. John had been geared a bit high the previous day and still managed a close third place behind Todd and me, but Sunday it had clearly been fixed. I noticed this later in the race, when we were evenly matched in our pedaling efforts. He crushed it off the line immediately pushing the entire field into anaerobic death mode. I tried several times with hard attacks to drop him and I felt he did the same, but much like the previous day a battle of epic proportions proceeded. We as we approached the paved hill section on the last lap John put in a hard effort much like Todd, only there was no relinquishment to this attack. At this point I knew there was no chance for recovery and on the hope that I had put a little less effort into the hill as I was trying to draft off him I went waaaay out. I got a small jump on him and I decided I was going to go for it even if I puked my guts out on the line. I was first back onto the grass and final stretch but John was always gaining right to the line. I was now officially spent. I also found out that John is 40, so I can only hope I’m still that fast when I get older. Another exciting finish, and a great finish for the 4th race of the weekend. Looking forward to a long hard anaerobic cross season.John breathing down my neck in the SS race.