New(ish) Car Time

Some people can’t stand to have a routine. I’m not one of those people. When I don’t have some sort of a reoccurring responsibility, I end up drifting and getting nothing done. So, the advent of yoga class at 10(ish) every morning, has been a good thing for me.

Lately, the trails have stayed pretty wet (or frozen, in the case of last week). It’s generally been cold and damp for a while. I’ve been able to ride my road bike with one or two friends over the past couple of months, but I’m basically done riding it alone for the foreseeable future. As a result, my strategy for training is to do intervals on the trainer three days a week and get over to Syllamo for longer/more challenging rides. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best I can make of my current situation.

I did make a break from my routine on Monday. For a while, I’ve wanted a different vehicle. The Element is practical in that it holds lots of stuff and is coated in rubber, but it’s basically a miniature cargo van, and drives accordingly. After perusing current and recent model vehicles with Ryan (he’s still shopping around for something to trade for his 2003 Escape), I came to realize that the trend of making everything larger and fancier (full of electronics and whatnot) really picked up after 2011ish (at least in the cars I’m interested in).

Monday morning, I decided I’d shop around to see what the internet had to offer. I’ve always been drawn to Subarus because of their all wheel drive and their tendency to last FOREVER. However, they’ve followed the pattern of making all the wagons SUV-sized over the most recent models. While I was shopping, I found that City Auto (a high-volume used car lot) had several older Subarus in stock. I was intrigued, and, after exchanging a few texts with Ryan to get a budget, I cleaned out the Element (just in case) and headed out to take a look.

Oh yeah, and it was about 40 and raining outside. Perfect.

When I started talking to a salesperson, he printed out Carfax reports for the cars I was interested in. My first pick was an Outback. However, the report showed that the majority of its 90k-something miles were in Pennsylvania. I immediately ruled that out for fear of salt-related rust and corrosion. The salesman suggested checking out a 2007 Impreza wagon that was on clearance (they actually had 2 of them- an automatic and a manual). It had 86k miles on it (that’s just getting warmed up in Subaru/Honda worlds… the Element turned over 130k the week before) and was slightly less cargo room than what I’d intended, but wasn’t dissimilar to what I had in the Honda Fit back in the day.

I didn’t want to admit it, but on the test drive, I fell for the all wheel drive at the first stoplight. Rain doesn’t matter.

So, after a brief and painless haggle, I was happy with what they offered for the Element trade (it was exactly the Blue Book price I’d researched given the high mileage, broken windshield, and lots of dirt and body scratches), and subsequently satisfied with the overall out-of-pocket expense as well (the car, tax, tag, their processing fee, etc). It ended up being right in line with what I’d seen them selling for privately and included a 1 month/1000 mile powertrain warranty, which is slightly more peace of mind with a used car. Knowing an exact budget and having an idea of the private cost of what you’re looking at ahead of time makes asking for exactly what you expect much easier.


After driving around in an Element for 5ish years, this thing feels like a race car. I’m likely to either get it stuck in mud or get a stern talking-to from a police officer at some point in the near future… especially since I’m heading over to Syllamo tomorrow morning for a big Trail Work day on Saturday.

Training Camp 2014(5) #3

As I mentioned before my post about logging, it rained solidly from Thursday afternoon until Saturday morning. I chose to ride the Red trail because its gravelly surface means it is basically unaffected by any amount of rain. To add difficulty, I wanted to ride from the Blanchard Springs Trailhead, meaning I’d climb a forest road to get up to trail level. However, I arrived at the trailhead to find that the low water crossing to get from the parking area to the trail was flooded.




Water like that is nothing to mess with. I could probably make it across. I could also get cold, wet, and/or seriously injured trying to make it across and failing. So, I put the bike back in the car and drove around to the usual trailheads on Green Mountain Road. I parked at the 2nd one and rode the couple of miles up to the Red Trail. While I was out, a layer of clouds settled in on the tops of the mountains. Everything looked surreal. These pictures don’t really do it justice.

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The previous rest day made me feel beast-like. I ripped around the red trail faster than I’ve probably ever gone, with the exception of stopping to climb down the mountain a little to look at a waterfall I could hear roaring from the trail.

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Once again, pictures don’t do it justice. It was a maybe 2ftx2ft hole in the side of the mountain with water gushing out like someone had blown up a water main. Springs like that were roaring all over the mountains’ sides. Other than that stop (and the one from trailside in the pics above), I hammered out a lap like nobody’s business. I had that “on top of the pedals” feeling that makes you feel like riding until you can’t pedal any more. However, I’d decided that I wanted to ride long the next day (also, my extra driving to switch trailheads had really eaten into my available daylight).

When I started prepping to ride the next day, I wanted to do my “Baby Epic” loop with some extra trail added. Since there are a couple of Livingston Creek creek crossings, and the temperature was well down into the 20’s, I figured I should check those out before I got started, and, knowing they were likely still going to be high, formulated a “plan B” that would utilize a couple of miles of Highway 5 to avoid the bad spots. I checked the usual crossings, and, sure enough, they were more than I wanted to deal with. Also more than I wanted to deal with? The drivers on Highway 5. In my short stint of driving on it, I was tailgated and aggressively passed for doing (gasp) the speed limit. It was enough to activate my internal panic attack warning and turn me off from riding on it at all that day.

So, with plans A and B somewhat foiled, I figured I’d just start riding from the first trailhead and just make it up as I went along. Unfortunately, everything was still soaked, and every spot where water could run across or down the trail was still flowing. Within 30 minutes of riding, the underside of my bike was covered in ice, and my hydration pack tube was frozen solid. With all of the inadvertent splashing, I was cold and wet, too.

Plan C?

The previous day, I’d crossed a couple of downed trees on the Red and short sections of Yellow trail. So, I decided I’d get my saw and ride around and cut those. The wind was absolutely blasting at that point. I was having a hard time not getting really cold until I reached a section of trail that was sunny and somewhat sheltered.

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It was a slightly disappointing end to my training camp, but I feel it was all-in-all successful. I forgot to mention in my previous post that I cleaned the last mile of the Orange trail two times in a row during my rides with Matt. If you know the Syllamo trails at all, you know where I’m talking about- there’s a “mandatory” hike-a bike up some narrow, steep stepped rocks, and then a hard right turn across a rocky draw followed by the infamous super-tech rock section that leads into a short, hard, loose climb before you reach the trailhead parking lot. In general, I feel like both my fitness and my technical riding skills saw an improvement during my time out there. So, I declare it a success.

2014(5) Training Camp #2

While I was out having a double-rainbow moment in the woods on Monday, Matt was on his way to the cabin. As I mentioned previously, it’s been really cold. So, Tuesday morning, we passed the 20-something morning hours by going to the Sylamore shooting range that’s just north of the trail system. Matt brought his .22 rifle, and I brought my 12 gauge shotgun (A.K.A. the “cabin security system” because it’s next to the bed any time I’m over here).

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We played with the .22 a while. I hit the targets pretty well, but then I got impatient with it and decided to knock the targets down all the way.

The weather generally fluctuated between cold and cloudy and “balmy” 40’s and sunny. We celebrated New Year’s eve with a long-ish ride on the Orange, Blue, and Green trails (highly recommended route if you’re looking for a 3-4 hour adventure). Everything is in fair-to-excellent shape right now with the exception of the long, technical part of the Yellow Trail. The long ride meant that we also celebrated New Year’s on Eastern time.

Matt got into the puzzle game

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There was bound to be rain starting in the afternoon on New Year’s Day, so we got up and on our bikes earlier than we had previously. It was a rare chance to take advantage of extremely light “everyone home in bed” traffic on Highway 9 and ride north from the cabin to explore down some of the gravel roads in that direction. The number of property owners who have gated off the roads that pass through/in front of their property is astounding. I’m relatively certain that about half of them aren’t legitimate owners of the roads, but since no one else really has a reason to use the roads, they get away with it. We also rode down the mountain to the “town” of Sylamore because I wanted to check out a creepy looking boarded up building that I’d noticed from an overlook across the river.

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The rain that came in Thursday afternoon kept going until just a little while ago (it’s Saturday morning).

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Matt left on Friday, and I decided to make it an off day (first one since the 25th). I kicked it off with a trip to WalMart for one more puzzle and a few necessities. The rain was light once I was back and had breakfast, so I decided to take Turbo out for a tree-clearing hike. We cut a couple of trees off the Blue Trail near Highway 5.

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That last one is how I drove home from the trailhead (with the addition of a couple of bungee straps). My dad makes walking sticks, and one of the trees I cut was a small-ish white birch with lots of “walking stick” sized branches. Old Turbo was pretty exhausted after that

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Back at the cabin, I decided I’d patch up the heel-rub holes in my shoe covers. I used a wader repair kit and lots of Aquaseal. I don’t really need waterproofing, but I’m hoping that it will prolong the life of them for the remainder of the winter

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The remainder of the day was reserved for writing a blog post, eating, doing laundry, watching football, and, of course…

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The rain is finally clearing out, so I should be able to get out and ride some forest roads and maybe the red trail this afternoon. The forecast for tomorrow is partly cloudy with a daytime high hovering around 30 degrees. I plan on bundling up and polishing off my training camp with somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-6 hours of riding.

2014 Training Camp #1

The space from December 24th through January 1st seems like a time when a lot of people and businesses are thrown out of their usual routines and everything is a little turned on its head. So, this year, I decided to run off to the cabin on the 26th to avoid the fluster of the holiday week and get some intense training on the Syllamo Trails and surrounding forest roads.

Before Arkansas, we went to Christmas lunch at my Grandmother’s house in Drew, Mississippi.

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I have several more pictures of the family, but my mom hates pictures of herself, and she’s in most of them.

My cousin Brent, who is closest to my age of all my cousins, bought his five year old daughter one of the greatest presents in the history of “presents for 5 year old girls”…

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She rides it by herself (with the speed governor turned down, of course).

Speaking of presents, Matt put Ronda Rousey on the wall over my workbench. Now I flinch every time I walk through the garage.

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Thursday, Ryan and I left for the cabin. We made it in time to get in a short ride and to start on a stack of puzzles- my new favorite thing to do at the cabin besides ride, eat catfish, and watch procedural crime dramas.

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Saturday morning, we had breakfast at Rainbow cafe in downtown Mountain View.

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Some sort of animal hid its breakfast corn from the deer feeder in the bathroom light cover.

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Saturday, I kept having an odd pain on the upper left-middle area of my back and a corresponding spot in my ribs on the front of my torso. It nagged at me all morning before I realized it was shingles. I had a full-blown case back at Breck Epic a couple of years ago, and they still periodically hurt from time to time. This was aching bad enough that I was worried that it was going to go full bore. Luckily, the pain subsided in a couple of days.

That day, it had rained, so we stuck to forest roads. I wanted to try and ride to the Sugarloaf Mountain Lookout (upper right corner of the map), but the “back way” in that didn’t involve riding a large stretch of Highway 5 was gated off with “private property” signs.

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Sunday night, we went to Tommy’s Famous Pizza with my dad.

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When the sky is clear, one of my favorite things to do is sit on the porch and have a glass of wine while the sun sets. It’s a nice opportunity to reflect and enjoy the mountains.

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It’s cold out right now (daytime highs have been in the 35-40 range with 70-90% humidity). I didn’t take riding photos while we were out because stopping is a surefire way to get chilled with a quickness. Since a lot of you don’t ride these trails all the time, it’s probably not really interesting for me to list a bunch of trail names (if you’re interested in routes, you can look at my Strava account). This is also a relatively “serious” time for training. Less sightseeing, more steadiness.

…and, more puzzles.

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Here’s my one ride pic:

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Monday, Ryan left with my dad. I took it as a recovery day and rode at a leisurely pace on the blue and green trails. The sun was out for the first time in a few days, and it was a balmy 44 degrees. I can’t really put in to words how I feel alone in the woods. It’s like my safe place where no one can get me… sort of like the feeling you get when someone really big and strong gives you a large and gentle hug.

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Cresting the Hump

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I’m trying to maintain a balance of “awesome stuff” and “everyday life is a struggle.” It’s been a quiet handful of days since my last Arkansas adventure. Mostly because the weather has been cloudy and a consistent 40 something and either drizzling or 70-80% humidity. Also, the level of crazy expressed by drivers with the advent of the holiday season has reached a fever pitch. I can’t fully comprehend why people do this in the name of what’s supposed to be a religious holiday. Seriously… all the obligations, putting themselves in debt, under stress, and into fits of shopping and road rage, and seemingly losing sight of what it is they’re supposed to be celebrating in the first place. It’s nuttier than the amazing fruitcakes I baked last week.

Stevil Kinevil says it best in his recent post on All Hail the Black Market

Now that the “struggle” part is out of the way, on to the good stuff- I found some sanity in a new yoga studio that opened back just before Thanksgiving. Pike Yoga is just about perfect- a 10 minute drive from my house, and classes that work well with both my daily schedule and my training schedule (not everything is “level 8 kick-your-butt-vinyasa”). I’ve been going to yoga on most weekdays since they opened, and it’s definitely made a difference in both my physical and mental health.

I’ve also been having a great time learning the gi in jiu jitsu class. I’ve had a bunch of people ask if I want to fight again, and the answer is a definite yes. The biggest setback I’ve had in getting back to training is the nagging patellar tendinitis in my left knee brought on by my failed attempt at off-season running. It keeps rearing its ugly head every time I jump or bounce on my left leg… a movement that’s very necessary for right-leg kicking and any sort of plyometric conditioning.

The combination of yoga, jiujitsu, and getting in rides when I can is keeping me sane until I can get over the December 25th mountain and make it to the cabin, where I plan on cocooning myself in miles of rocks and woods and emerging a badass, fitter, tougher, and more skilled butterfly on the other side. I’ll probably go for a road ride with The Matts (McCulley and Robbins) tomorrow. It’ll be my 3rd one since having repeated scary driver run-ins just after my trip to Colorado in the summer (those basically brought back the post car-hit panic attacks that had become very few and far between). It makes a huge difference that I’ve got some good friends and a bike that I can’t help but fall in love with a little more every time I ride it.

Time to stand and hammer up the crux.

Solo Syllamo Weekend

I made a mid-week decision to go for a solo trip to Syllamo over the weekend. Before I left town, I had some stuff to do…


That’s an DNA kit. The whole site makes me cringe a little with its subscription-ness, but the “spit in a cup and we’ll tell you about your ancestors” part is wholly fascinating to me. So, I’m anxiously waiting on that to process.

Thursday, I explored some horse trails. Along the way, I saw (literally) a ton of deer as well as a turkey and an owl. I also found large quantities of mud in a couple of spots.




Given the large quantity of mud I had to clean off/out of my bike on top of an already busy Friday, I didn’t get out of town until around 4pm. Apparently, there’s a never-ending Friday night congestion of U.S. Highway 64 between all the small towns across Arkansas. Who knew? There’s a more northern route that’s a few minutes shorter, but I’ve always felt a bit of an adventure connection to 64 since it’s been a part of many of my travels to races and whatnot in both directions across the country.

Anyway, Turbo and I made it in enough time to make dinner and start a new puzzle.



(OK, so the second photo is from the morning, as evidenced by my coffee, but that’s all I’d finished the night before)

This winter, I’m embracing the “just get out and ride” method of free-forming my base miles. I’m also embracing some interesting ride food, like rum-soaked fruitcake:


I came up with a route that I dubbed the “Baby Epic,” because in the future, I’ll add more singletrack to the eastern side of it. If you take a look at the map:, you’ll see that, following Branscum Rd. (which is actually a pretty rough/steep horse trail), I used a combination of Green Mountain Road, the last 4 miles of the Red Trail, and the last short/tech section of the Orange trail to return to where I started. Next time, the plan is to add the Blue trail from the 2nd trailhead to the Orange, and, as a final “Big Epic,” add the long/hard section of the Yellow on top of that. That’s bound to be an all-day ride for sure.

Along the way, I did some futzing with my suspension as well as making a stop to take photos from the little side trail to a waterfall at the bottom of Branscum “Road.”




That last one is from underneath the waterfall overhang. You can see the water coming down from the upper right side of the photo. It is gorgeous out there, and the trails are generally in great shape. After my journey, I arrived back to the parking lot and saw another Shelby County vehicle parked next to mine. The occupants (including Fullface Kenny) had left some dust art for me.


I unscrewed their gas cap.


Ginger Ale and recovery candy.

Back at the cabin, I snacked, cleaned up, and worked on my puzzle some more. After a trip to WalMart for provisions, I came back and made a kickass dinner and watched the ever-present A&E Criminal Minds procedural crime drama marathon.


Sunday was a day for survival and not photos. I rode from the 2nd Green Mountain Road trailhead without much of a plan other than “explore side roads.” Turns out, most side roads just lead you to logged-off meadows. My legs were thrashed from the day before, so it was a 2.5 hour exercise in keeping the pedals moving and trying to enjoy the scenery and little bit of excitement that comes with exploration… all the while, trying to ignore the fact that my legs were still back at the cabin drinking coffee and working on a puzzle.

Driving home from the cabin depresses me. Aside from the lack of multiple cute animals, it’s like my safe, cozy fortress of solitude where I can go and ride some of the most difficult terrain available then relax in the peace and quiet of the Ozarks. It’s one of those things where the whole way back, I’m already planning the next trip in my head.

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Easy Days in the Woods

Late last week, I opened up a “make new blog post” window and then didn’t have anything to say. About the only fun thing and interesting that went on last week was that I started learning the gi in Jiu Jitsu. Prior to that, everything I’d learned was based on Jiu Jitsu that’s useful in MMA, when you’re not wearing a robe that serves as a million different handles for you or your opponent to grab onto, and when it’s generally acceptable to hammerfist your opponent in the face from mount. The new instructor, Eric Ingram, is excellent, and his wife, Anna, is also a somewhat experienced white belt, so of course, she and I got pretty buck on Thursday night…



I borrowed a gi for the two classes last week, then ordered one of my own. It’s got phoenixes on it, and they’re purple, so I basically had to get it… Tatami Phoenix Gi

Friday, it rained nearly all day. I decided to warm myself up with a kickboxing class in the afternoon. I’ve been laying off of any sort of ballistic training (running, jumping, etc) since the onset of both patellar and posterior tibal tendinitis a few weeks ago during my last training run. It doesn’t really hurt as long as I’m not bouncing around on it. Kickboxing is a good test for knee and ankle pain because, while bouncing on my left leg is a necessity for throwing a rear leg round kick, there are a lot of other things I can do that don’t involve rear leg roundkicks. So, it’s great indoor exercise on days like Friday. I just want everything on my left side to hurry and get healed up so I can get back into some more strenuous work.

Saturday and Sunday were reserved for exploring the woods on cyclocross bikes. The trails were way wet, so Matt and I drove out to Shelby Forest on Saturday and the Collierville Wolf River Greenway on Sunday to get in some low-intensity saddle time and enjoy the scenery.

Shelby Forest paved-ish bike path:




Wolf River Greenway:





Afterward, we checked out a new “fancy Asian fusion” buffet near the house. I give it a solid “meh” review. It’s not much different than other buffets in that its full of nearly stale food and everything tastes like it’s fried in yesterday’s oil. The sushi is a little dried out, too. The place is huge, and I totally missed that it had a Mongolian BBQ section until after I’d already eaten a plate full of regular buffet food. I’d like to go back sometime in the future and try the fresh-cooked option.

Later, a friend from the gym came over to pick his new (to him) bike up from the house. Matt and I sold him a few parts and put it together for him as the rest of the pieces filtered in from the internet and surrounding bike shops.


Back to my original thought… this week may actually be a two (or more!) post week since, on Saturday, I also purchased a pair of Shimano M200 shoes. They’re billed as “enduro” shoes, which I don’t really care about one way or the other. I do, however, like the idea of something that’s stiff enough for hammer time, yet also more comfortable than a traditional XC-oriented shoe for getting off the bike and walking on rocks and on other steep isht. I rode in them yesterday, and I plan on talking about them a bit on Just Riding Along tonight as well as posting a few pictures and initial thoughts on here once I’ve ridden them a little more.

The Long Weekend

Since my family acquired a cabin near the Syllamo Trails, I’ve been going over there for Thanksgiving. The past two years, it’s been a family event, with one or more relatives coming to visit. I decided to take Turbo this year since she’s been fighting off pneumonia for the past two months and the extra exercise of being able to trot around and pretend to chase deer (there’s not much real “chase” when you’re a large 13-year-old dog) is good to help clear her lungs. On Wednesday, I took her to a small local bakery/grooming shop called Woof Gang Bakery where they offer self-service baths/blowdry. She loves the attention…


Speaking of dogs… look how cute these two are:


Also on Wednesday, I made the best green bean casserole, ever. I love it when I find a recipe like this one that’s been bastardized by pre-made/canned food and take it back to the basics to remind everyone that even a casserole can taste like actual food and not just salty mush.

Thursday morning, Ryan and I left early so we’d make it to the cabin for lunch festivities. Everything was pretty delicious, though I refrained from gorging too much because we planned on squeezing in a post-lunch ride that afternoon. Not long ago, a professional work crew cleared the entire 13-ish mile Red Trail, and, even though it’s not my favorite one in the system, I hadn’t ridden it in more than a couple of years because it’s continually been in bad condition. Other than a couple of branches and lots of leaves, it’s now super open and nice. We also checked out the Yellow trail on the non-trailhead side of Green Mountain Rd. between the Red trail Trailhead and the Yellow/Blue Trailhead. Half of it was clear and open like the Red Trail, and the other half is thorny with several trees down.

Thursday night brought about my newest Thanksgiving tradition- an obnoxiously large and difficult puzzle. This one was particularly terrible because the photo used for the puzzle is mostly out of focus.


Spoiler alert- we never finished it.

Friday, I wanted to ride a potential Enduro course. Details are mostly a secret, though I will say the transition climbing is going to kill the shuttle-runners off with a quickness. It’s very scenic, though.


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Sunday, we attempted to ride the “hard” part of the Yellow Trail from the middle Green Mountain Trailhead going clockwise (reverse race direction). It still has some overgrown spots- especially in the logged-off areas (of course) and a pretty steady amount of downed trees. However, the rock gardens are in prime condition. Ryan wasn’t enjoying the looseness of the leaves and marble-y gravel beneath them, so we ended up bailing off at a logging road just after the Overlook.


We extended our ride on the nearby gravel roads and checked out the scenery at the bottom of Sandy Flat before heading back to the cabin to eat and pack up for home. Conclusion? The trails are about 85% awesome right now. The more traffic they get, the more the leaves will be unfluffed, and the better they’ll ride. If you’re on the fence about going to Syllamo because of past conditions, I’d say it’s worth the trip.

Sunday, I wanted to get in another good ride back in Memphis. The weather was super nice, with highs somewhere up in the 60’s for much of the day. Since it hadn’t rained in a while, Matt and I decided to try checking out the “Epic” trails- a sort-of system of 4×4 trails that winds through the narrow strip of woods between the Wolf River and Interstate 40 across most of the length of Memphis. Because of the neighborhoods it crosses, it’s not a place to go alone, and there are mudholes there that could swallow a jeep, however, when it’s in good shape, it’s a lot of fun to explore as long as you know what you’re getting in to.

Along the way-




We found out very quickly that it was way too muddy. We probably should have taken a hint from this guy, who we found stuck in a hole near the beginning of the trail-

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My tires clogged with muck within a mile, and both wheels couldn’t turn. Our adventure thwarted, we turned around and hiked out. Lots of other people were out enjoying the mud and nice weather, so we had some entertainment along the way back.



I recorded a little video:

Our bikes were pretty trashed in a short period of time, so we rode back home and, following a little errand-running, drank just enough alcohol that playing “you be jab, I’ll be cross” with my boxing gloves and later “trade leg kicks” sounded like a good idea. Ryan didn’t participate, and, lo & behold, he was the only person in the house not walking with a slight limp on Monday morning.

Now, it’s back to the grind for the time being… mostly. There’s currently another Syllamo trip in the planning stages. I’m also about to have a bit of a change in my MMA training. Since my fight back in July, John and I have been training a little on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. However, since the building that Ingram’s Martial Arts was in is being taken over by another lessee, they’re moving their classes to UFK, and I’ll be starting in with them tonight. It’s slightly uncomfortable to be the “new kid,” but I’m pretty sure it’ll turn out just fine.

No Plans Other than the Weekend

Too often on blogs and other social media, individuals paint a shiny, perfect picture of their lives. I’m not in to that. Even if it loses a few readers, I like to keep it real. It’s also somewhat therapeutic to organize and describe my feelings in neat and coherent paragraphs. So, for my next therapy session…

That last post got me down a bit. I was really enjoying the break from my usual grind and looking forward to the upcoming marathon challenges. I’ve basically written off being well enough for the December 6th LOViT Marathon. My tendinitis is still there and wants to flair up if I do any sort of ballistic movement with my left leg. I can, however, ride a bike without any pain, so I’ve been getting back on the trail on two wheels… not really with a plan, but that feels alright for now.

I do plan on working with a good PT in the coming weeks. I think that my injuries are all stemming from the last round of hamstring injections I had back in late September. I have to figure out the root cause and deal with it in order to train as hard as I want to without continually injuring myself. As for what I’m training for? I don’t know yet. I’m going to bike race next year, but I haven’t felt compelled to put together a schedule other than “Crested Butte Enduro Stage Race.” I’m not sure if I want to keep it more regional, maybe go to Pisgah a little more often, or try and get out to Colorado more than once.

All of my hesitation to make a 2015 plan boils down to my ability/inability to train. Living in Memphis, training on the road is almost required. I used to enjoy it. Then, I got hit by a car, and it became a necessary evil that I fought through and tolerated. My ability to do so has become almost totally exhausted. I dealt with PTSD once before after aiding in cadaver recovery (with a recovery K9) at the World Trade Center following the 9/11  terrorist attacks. It took a long time for that to go away, but I realized the other day when I passed a burning car (which smells almost exactly like a burning World Trade Center) and didn’t have any sort of panic or flashback feelings, that I could call myself 99.99% healed from that experience.

Dealing with the hit-by-car thing has been way different. The best way I can describe it is it’d be like if you’d worked in the World Trade Center and barely managed to survive the terrorist attacks, and then immediately went back to work in another high rise office with airplanes constantly circling it, and on most days, at least one of the planes would buzz your window and/or play chicken with your building, and at least once a week, you’d have a friend or a friend of a friend whose office was exploded via another errant plane. That’s basically where I am now.

I’m not saying that I am giving up- far from it. I’m just saying it’s going to take some extra work and determination to do most of my riding away from vehicles. I’ve had a few people suggest group rides. Being tucked in a group does nothing to make me feel safer the same way being in a high rise office with hundreds of other people wouldn’t make the person in my example feel safer.

I decided to run off to the cabin for the weekend to get back in to some fun riding. The mountains are very much my sanctuary when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed by anything. I’m not all doom and gloom, it’s just going to take time to work through my fears and figure out what I can tolerate and where I can compromise. I have never been one to stress over uncertainty… I actually don’t mind it at all, because it leaves the future open to anything rather than corralling me on to the same worn path.


Change of Plans

Well, when I started my marathon training last month, I said that my main goal would be to increase my volume at just the right rate to both be prepared and uninjured. Saturday, I went out to the Wolf River trails (pretty flat, pretty smooth) to do my weekly “long run” of 13.5 miles. When I started warming up, my left ankle and knee were kinda achy, but it mostly went away after a mile or two. I finished my run, cooled down, and drove home, only to find that after sitting in the car for 5-10 minutes, the same slight pains I’d felt warming up were now nearly crippling.

I took a couple of days off, and now I can walk and go up stairs with no pain. However, running and going down stairs are left-side torture. At first, I was thinking it’d be a job for ibuprofen, ice, and KT Tape. However, once I started looking in to KT taping for medial ankle pain, I found out that the pain- likely caused by tibialis posterior tendinitis, wasn’t something I should be training through for something as un-serious as an offseason marathon.

Of course, I immediately took to becoming an internet expert on it.

The odd thing seems to be that, though one of my feet is slightly flatter than the other, the injury is not on the flat side (it’s usually associated with lots of overpronation & fallen arches). The good news is, mine is relatively minor at this point. I can still stand on my toes and balance on that foot. However, if I want it to go away, I need to not piss it off any more and do some rehab exercises… all of which I’m still too sore to do at this point, according to the instructions.

So, my marathon status is very unsure at this point. I’m basically going to be forced back on to the bike for any endurance exercise. That won’t be unbearable, except for the fact that it’s really freaking cold outside. Also, I’ve developed a nearly crippling fear of drivers. I have this terrible mental picture of how much people want to kill me when they see me riding a bike on the road. It’s terrifying. Cars are huge and terrifying, and the people who control them are totally tuned out and self absorbed. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it. For now, I’ll likely be taking the unfinished greenline to the nearby trail system in order to avoid nearly all roads.

In the meantime, I’m definitely getting the fight bug again. I ended up not going to the proposed grappling tournament over the weekend because of schedule conflicts with training buddies John and Aaron. Oh yeah, and it’s probably worth noting that a couple of weeks ago, the nice girl who gave me free rhinoplasy back in July won against her next opponent via first round TKO. She no longer has the losing record as she did when we’d first picked her as a potential opponent. I have to say… good work on her part. If you read the comments section on most of her old fight videos, there are some really mean people saying mean things about how she should just give it up. Ryan was at his Marx-Bensdorf team party Saturday and was asked by a couple of his teammates as to whether or not I’d fight again. Of course I will… why not?

In other non-cycling, non-MMA news, I’m super excited that a yoga studio (Pike Yoga) opened not too far from me- less than a 15 minute drive. Their schedule is nice, and includes plenty of classes that are somewhat “easy,” which is nice when all of your other physical activity is “hard.”  They’re offering free yoga until Thanksgiving, too, so, for now, I’m going to take full advantage of it. I need both the physical benefits and the inner peace at this point.