Google Earth Adventures

Lately I’ve been put on a diet of long aerobic rides. Relaxing, yes. Boring? Also yes. In an attempt to add interest, I’ve taken to scanning Google Earth for “roads” that aren’t shown on the normal map. The result- discovery of the “remains” of the housing market that imploded upon itself circa 2006.

First, I found a couple of neighborhoods out in the Galloway/Hickory Withe area. These were projects by “Renaissance” Realty that were apparently cleared and subdivided for large estate homes. In two very large neighborhoods, I only saw a couple of houses, though. The streets were nice, but not really what I was after.
Next, I found Milton Wilson Road in Arlington. And yes, for you local people, I know that if you look on a map, Milton Wilson Rd. is on the other side of the city, but I’m just reporting the name that I saw on the street signs…


It’s essentially a 4×4 trail that goes from one spur of road to the other. The associated neighborhood has been under painfully slow construction since before I “learned” to ride a bike. I highly enjoyed the very non-road-bike-friendly trail (despite almost biting it when a stick momentarily lodged itself in my front fork), though it did employ some basic off-road handling skill. Proceed with caution.

The highlight of the ride, however, was the ruins of a Cordova neighborhood that I didn’t know existed until my sattelite view search. It’s a blocked-off road that I (as well as many other cyclists in the area) have ridden by hundreds of times on Latting Road without giving it much thought.


What we found was pretty surreal. It looked as if the land was cleared and subdivided for small, close-together houses. However, that’s about as far as it went. In its current state, the road is now collapsing in on itself (including one road-width sinkhole that required some off-road excursion). Random piles of construction trash are everywhere, and trees are beginning to re-claim the asphalt…







Sunday, my exploits took me north and east to the Lambert/Old Solomon Mill area. I ended up riding for just over 4 hours, and arrived home just before the sun started to set. I love the scenery in that area and need to get out there more often. The locals are pretty nice, too…

12_4n5_10 Gravel

I generally stick to the self checkout line at the grocery store. Today, though, they were down for service. So, I went through the full-service cashier/bagger line.

The woman bagging my groceries (Dora, according to her name tag) and I had the following conversation:

Her: You’re so beautiful and your skin is so nice, why do you have to do that? (she waves at her lip/nose area)

Me: I didn’t say anything, I just ignored her

Her: I know, I always say that to you when you don’t use the self-checkout

(I can’t remember the last time I used a full-service line or talked to this woman if I did)
Me: Yeah, that’s why I usually stick to the self-checkout, but it’s not an option today.

(Cashier laughs uncomfortably)

Her: Blah, Blah, Blah…

At this point, I bite my toungue. You see, Ms. Dora is overweight. I am sorely tempted to say something along the lines of, “You’re such a beautiful woman, why do you have to consume excessive numbers of calories and live a sedentary lifestyle?”

I took my groceries and left.

You know what? I have piercings. Ears, labret, and nostril.
You know what else? I have tattoos, also. Starting from the earliest…

Tribal calf band: My high school graduation present to myself. I picked it off the wall at Underground Art. It’s my least favorite, and I’ll likely get it covered up with something more creative in the future, but, no, I don’t regret getting it.

Wings: They’re just below the anterior waistline, and aren’t for general public viewing.I can assure you they look nice, though.

Phoenix: It covers the top half of my back, and is a representation of the general pattern of my entire life thus far.

Revelations Dragon: This one was inspired by a late-night radio sermon given by Jerry Falwell. I heard it on the way home from a bike race.


The Dragon is not finished yet (it’s more complete than the posted photo, but still not fully filled in). With my recent change in employment combined with monthly payments to The Wizard, I just haven’t had the cash to get the work done.

That’s besides the point, though.

I think I’m going to start criticizing people’s choices in accessorizing themselves in ways that I don’t approve of:

Hey, lady, you have such gorgeous salt & pepper gray hair, why do you color it?
Dude- your pecs and shoulders are gorgeous, why do you cover them up with that horrible Abercrombie T-shirt??
Wow, man, that a Corvette makes you look like you’re a douchebag having a midlife crisis, why do you drive it???
Ya know, that button-down shirt makes you look like a working stiff who hates his life.

Or, I could just mind my own business and take comfort in the fact that choices in self-accessorizing are what makes people different from one another. I suggest you do the same. Or not. It’s whatever you want to do.

ISO Gravel

I am having to work hard to keep my solo road rides interesting. Sunday, I came up with a route that incorporated 3 different gravel “roads” within its 60 miles:

Gravel #1- Nuckolls Rd. from Macon to Jenkins. I usually use that one, so I didn’t take any photos. It’s pretty straightforward hardpack. No real turns or rough spots.

Gravel #2- Fletcher between 196 and Collierville-Arlington. Probably my favorite. When you turn off of 196 to head towards Collierville, there’s a giant “road closed ahead” sign. I’m not sure if it will always be “closed,” but apparently they’ve closed a bridge and the adjoining area where I-269 is under construction. It’s not passable by car because of the concrete barriers, but if you’re willing to portage over those, grind/slog through some rutted up construction mud, and navigate a small ditch of baseball-sized rocks on the other side, you can totally ride through it.




Gravel #3- Wolf River Greenway between Collierville-Arl and Bethany Rd. “Technically” speaking, this might have been the toughest section. The gravel is more loose, there are people on horses, and the low water crossings have taken down at least one person attempting to navigate them on a road bike.


I’m always on the lookout for more gravel. Once my prescribed routes get closer to the 4-hour route, I’ll head up north a little to the Lambert/Solomon Mill area. Need. More. Suggestions?


Ok, so I look at my blog stats every day. One of the things included with the wordpress stats report are search phrases that brought users to my blog. Apparently, some one found this site whilst searching for “cold wet tits.”

Really? Have I actually ever typed that phrase on this page? (before tonight)

Who sits at home and does web searches for that?! I guess I’m lucky that no one is finding me while google-ing “underage horse p()rn”.

Thanksgiving Photo Dump

Menu: barley stuffed acorn squash, rosemary sweet potatoes, garlic green beans, pound cake, and fat tire beer…

How come most beer-drinking nights at my house usually end up with someone riding a wheelie through my kitchen?

Syllamo Sunday

I realize that my previous post about Saturday’s ride at Syllamo was rather brief, but it was generally an ordinary (if you can call it that) ride at Syllamo- lots of rocks, some hike-a-bike, and a nice 3 hours of enjoying the singletrack. What made it even nicer was watching Ryan get better & more confident at riding his single speed through some of the rocky stuff (first time singlespeed on “real” trails for him).

Sunday was a fun change from the usual solo riding. We met up with a couple of friends from the Roadbikereview Lounge. The original plan was to ride the Yellow trail, though that was foiled when Scott went face-side down when he got squirrley down one of the hills. He broke a shifter, bar end, bent an axle, and generally roughed himself up in the process.

I’ve done more than one trailside singlespeed conversion out there, so I helped him rig his bike to a suitable gear, and we made our way back to the red trail (much more do-able on a broken-ish bike). After a scenic lap, we drove down to the green trail for a touch more rock garden and overlook (Scott hiked while Ryan, John, and I rode)

Even with the technical difficulties, it was a great morning with friends on the trail. It was a nice change of pace from the usual solitude that comes with riding such an isolated trail system. Looking forward to next time!

Health and Fitness Mag- Brief Correction

For any of you locals that have seen my little profile section in the latest Memphis Health and Fitness magazine, I wanted to provide you with a little extra dialog that was changed in the editing process of the email-interview. I can see how it needed to be edited down for brevity, so here is the original (edited sections in bold)

Q: How do you feel about being a woman in a male-dominated sport?
Q: There are not a lot of women in the sport. What got you involved?

A: I got involved when some trail running friends of mine (the Warthogs!) invited me out for a bike ride one day, and I fell in love with it. As far as the involvement of women, I try to ignore the gender factor when it comes to trying new things. I don’t shy away from an activity just because it’s traditionally male-dominated. Heck, as far as I know, there’s only one other female mechanic in the city. I don’t think it should really matter, but a lot of women doubt their abilities and won’t try new things simply because they are always questioning themselves, and it leads to intimidation. Sorry to flip the feminist switch, but in cycling as well as in my past job as a college teacher, I’ve seen it over and over- young women who doubt themselves so much, are so afraid of failure or “looking stupid,” that they just won’t try. I hate it. But, on a positive note, the women (or anyone, for that matter) who do step past the boundaries of their comfort zones and try something new are always really inspiring to me.

There ya go… enjoy!

A quick double…

…and, while looking for that last link to LaRuta, I stumbled upon this woman’s blog: Louise Kobin

I’ve never met her, but judging by the photo of her carrying what looks to be a snow bike of equal mass to her own bodyweight across a small body of water, I think she deserves a spot in the “fast women” list over to the right side of your screen… usually a “privledge” (yes, I use that term very lightly!) reserved for people I’ve met/raced with, but I’m guessing we’ll cross paths eventually!


It’s been a while, but Ryan and I are packing up the single speeds and heading to Syllamo again this weekend. It’s been long enough since I’ve ridden there, that I’ve never actually had the One9 on those particular trails. Unless, of course, you count the epic fail that was my attempted Summer ride a few months ago. Still got scars from that one.

Hopefully the green trail logging that I’ve heard about recently isn’t as horrible as everyone says it is. Somehow, though, I doubt that. I’ve already got 1 mile of brush-infested logging area on my adopted 4 miles of orange trail. It was nearly overgrown by May this year. Unless the Forest Service can provide volunteer trail workers with Roundup and a backpack, there’s no way that the logged parts are going to stay clear. I keep saying that I’m going to write an email to someone, but like most other people that complain, there’s a sizable gap between what I complain about and what I’m willing to deal with in order to be lazy and do nothing at all.

At least the fall colors will still be pretty.

Random point of interest: Remember my Formula R1s that were trashed at Fool’s Gold? I ended up sending them in to Formula for repairs. The diaphragms inside the brake bodies had imploded, and one of the pistons needed to be replaced. I asked the tech if there was a different model that he’d recommend for extreme conditions such as those, and he (rahter snidely) informed me that there was no brake of ANY brand that would continue to work when the pads were worn through, and that there would be riders at La Ruta on Formula Brakes.

Uh, yeah.

I guess I should have clarified that what I really meant was “what brake will I be able to service at home following a race of brake pad doom the magnitude of Fool’s Gold?” The damaged piston, I understand- that’s going to happen to any brake once the pad is (literally) gone. The imploded diaphragms? Not so sure that every brake will experience such a malady. I think I’ll put the Formulas back onto my Jet9 since I likely won’t be racing it in adverse conditions.

Speaking of components, I’ve decided that I’m going to be slightly more open minded on component choice when it comes to building my next mountain bike. It’s mostly the availability of some sweet employee pricing on either major manufacturers (SRAM and Shimano), but it’s also a little bit of “hell hath no fury”… I sent a race resume and whatnot to the Grassroots folks at SRAM a couple of times and never got so much as a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” back from them. That doesn’t mean I am automatically a Shimano person now, it just means that I’m willing to at least research the latest/greatest Shimano componentry before I decide what’s going on the A9C that I’m hoping to get in December…

Well, that was random.