Dec 312013


I hope.

I hope that you’ve read all this. All of the baring of my soul and publishing of the details of my life to all the world. All the hours of capturing, editing, writing, editing again. I hope that you saw what I made for you, took it in, tasted it.

I hope you loved what you read as much as what you saw. I hope it made you laugh, made you cry, made you think. I hope the words that I wrote and the pictures that I took stuck in your head, and you thought about them later.

I hope you got to know me better. Even if we were already close, I hope that I showed you a part of me you never knew existed, and I hope that you like what you learned.

I hope that you leave this project, as I will, more appreciative of the exquisite, beautiful details present in every day of a life lived with passion.

But most of all, I hope inspired you to action. I hope I helped you see a way to improve your own life. I hope that you move, and sweat, and strive. I hope that you relax, and plant flowers, and cook dinner with your family, and drink beer with your friends. I hope that I have helped make your life better, in whatever small way I could.

I hope.

Dec 302013
A peek behind the curtain!

A peek behind the curtain!

So where do I go from here? I’ve talked about my goals for next season on the bikes, with my running, and at the gym. But what is to become of all this? This little project has developed a small, but devoted following. It’s become important to me and to more of you than I ever would have guessed, over the past 12 months. A whole lot of you have asked what will happen when the year is out, and expressed hope that I’ll continue.

Well, I think that I will. Daily posts aren’t very likely, but I intend to shift the focus from quantity to quality. There will be fewer “this is what I did today” posts, and more posts commenting on industry happenings, trends and news. More posts about training philosophy and motivation. I’ll still write about my races, and keep you all well appraised of what I’m doing, what I have planned, and where I’m going, but I want to broaden my subject matter by adding stories about other athletes as well.

Another thing I’ll be doing more of, with my sudden influx of spare time, is reading. My writing has only become what it is because I read a lot, but that’s had to take a back seat to the sheer volume of writing I’ve had to do as part of this project. In an effort to continue my development as a writer, it will be nice to be able to read, and by that to study the styles and techniques of others.

I’ll also be pursuing other writing opportunities, in an effort to broaden my skill set. You may see me linking to things I’ve written for other sites more, and hopefully one day I might even make a few bucks for what I write. There is a large gap between here and there, but it’s a possibility many of you have encouraged me to explore, and I want to.

In that vein, I’ve accepted a post as Communications Director for the Miami Valley Mountain Bike Association. I’ll be in charge of newsletter stuff, website stuff, social media stuff… In short, doing for them what I’ve done for myself all year this year. It’s a volunteer position, but an important step forward in my media career, if I’m to have one.

And what of this project as it sits? I’m not sure yet. It’s been suggested that I work it into book format. I may shop some of the articles out for republication. At the very least, it will serve as a memento of the year that has been. And if that’s all it ever becomes, it will have been worth the effort.

Dec 262013
514 miles on one tank. The novelty of this has not yet worn off!

514 miles on one tank. The novelty of this has not yet worn off!

Our new (to us) BMW 335d is fun for a lot of reasons, but maybe the best one is the fuel economy. It has nearly twice the range of the Sentra it replaced, making it seem like we almost never have to fill the thing up. Which, when you’re running around as much as we do, is a pretty big luxury to have.

BMW’s little MPG needle below the tachometer is a surprisingly effective tool for helping to keep your foot out of the throttle, as well. It’s easy to want to romp in this car everywhere we go, but having a visual indication for how much that fun is costing you tampers your enthusiasm a little. Even with cold weather and city driving, we’re still averaging around 30 mpg, and as high as 36 when the driving is mostly highway. It’s nowhere near hybrid territory, but then I don’t want to blow my brains out after driving it, either.

Dec 232013
Huffman Dam, on the Mad River

The Mad River, living up to its name.

What do you get when you cross five rivers, a foot of snow, a random 60° weekend and two days of torrential rain? A freakin’ whole lot of water, that’s what!

All of those elements combined over the past weekend to make the Miami Valley as wet as I’ve seen it for a long time. There was some localized flooding, not least of which was seen at Innisfree on the Stillwater, which very nearly became Innisfree in the Stillwater. I’ve crossed the Huffman Dam countless times this year on training runs and rides, but I’ve never seen the river quite like this.

I stood at watched for a long time before I took this picture. Fast-moving water is fascinating in much the same way as fire, and maybe the only earthly thing more powerful.

Dec 152013

349If you’re looking at the trail in front of your tire, it will only slow you down. All the rocks and roots and hazards will overwhelm your vision and exaggerate your sense of speed. Keep your eyes up, and feel your lines and flow get smoother, and your speed and confidence rise.

If you’re looking at the ground in the weight room, your shoulders will follow and your form will collapse. You’ll be working just to stay upright and balanced, and the weight will seem impossibly heavy. Keep your eyes up, and the weight will stay centered, allowing you to use all of your strength for power.

If you’re climbing a hill, looking at the ground only makes your misery seem indefinite. You end up inside your head, inside the pain, enduring instead of attacking. Keep your eyes up, and pull the summit back to you with your mind, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get there.

When life gets difficult; when you’re struggling, distracted and stressed by the problems lying all around you, it’s hard not to get discouraged and look down, defeated. The details and petty periphery of day to day life can infiltrate and demoralize even the most motivated people. But keep your eyes up. Focus on your goals and your progress, and keep working, keep grinding, keep fighting. The only way to fail is to look down, get discouraged and quit. You’re better than that.

Eyes up, and go get what’s yours.

Dec 102013

I’m not the only athlete in the house getting in some winter training. Max seems to come (even more) alive when the weather starts to get cool. By the time it’s cold enough for snow, he’s almost giddy with excitement. He had a great romp at a local park this morning, including getting very close to catching a squirrel! One day, Max. One day.

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Dec 082013
The best Airman, NCO and CGO in the state. That we didn't win is irrelevant.

The best Airman, NCO and CGO in the state. That we didn’t win is irrelevant.

This morning, we drove to Columbus, for the Ohio Air National Guard’s Outstanding Airman of the Year lunch. I was my base’s nominee for NCO of the year, which is itself an enormous honor. Before the lunch was a social hour, during which we stood around and schmoozed with Command Chiefs and Generals from State Headquarters, and I nervously sucked down hotel coffee.

Why I was nervous, I can’t really explain. It’s unlike me to be nervous in these types of situations, but then I’m not usually the one in the spotlight, either.

She loves me anyway.

She loves me anyway.

They did a nice job of building the drama for each category, having each nominee stand while a brief bio was read, and displaying pictures of us on two big projector screens. They started from the top down, so my category was next to last. I stood when my name was called… and sat back down when the winner was announced.

I hate losing. A lot. I really hate losing when you make it all the way to the finals. Still, it was nice to be recognized by my command staff, and brought forward as the best they have to present among all their NCOs. And I did walk away with coins from the State Command Chief (CMSgt Phillips) and the ATAG (Maj Gen Bartman), so I didn’t leave empty handed.

This year will be a tough one to follow.

Dec 062013
For a warm weather athlete, this is a disheartening thing to wake up to.

For a warm weather athlete, this is a disheartening thing to wake up to.

Winter fired its opening salvo overnight.

Nothing punctuates the end of my season quite like the first serious snowfall. I woke up to it this morning, and while it’s pretty to look at, my heart sank anyway. My winter athlete friends will scoff, but for me, snow represents everything I don’t like about being outside. It’s cold, and wet, and slippery. It makes everything dirty (not in a good way) and difficult to use.

Winter has become a season of can’t, for me. I can’t get out on my bikes like I want. I can’t go for a run or even a drive without additional time and clothing and preparation. I can’t wear shorts. I can’t wash my car. Can’t can’t can’t.

It’s only just started, but I already miss my bikes, and I miss the woods, and sticky, hard-packed singletrack trails, and hammering up hills. I miss sweating in the sun, and cold water bottles on hot days.

Ooo! Snow waffles!

Ooo! Snow waffles!

But what about winter fun, you say. What about skiing, and snowboarding, and snowmen and snowball fights and snow angels and snow-whatever-the-heck-else-you-sick-people-like?

No. Just no. Cold and wet and slippery, and I can’t afford any more sports, anyway.

But enough moping. What winter does represent is a chance to train, and to learn new things. Like the magazine they gave you in the dentist’s chair as a kid, I’m hoping that I can work hard enough, and stay busy enough, to make this winter go quickly. And if I do, maybe I can at least salvage, from my least favorite season, the positive note of starting next season lighter, and stronger, and better than ever.

Nov 302013
What is it about an open fire that prompts introspection?

What is it about an open fire that prompts introspection?

We managed to drag some unseasonably cold weather with us to Virginia Beach, but not so cold that we couldn’t have a fire on the back porch. It had been a busy and intense weekend so far, with incredible football games, frigid bicycle rides, and crushing workouts. So it was nice to sit by a fire, sip my beer and just think about the year that has been.

December is upon us now, and that essentially means my race season is finally over. There are a few more rounds of cyclocross races in the area, but weekend obligations for work and family will take precedence. It’s always a letdown when the season ends, but less so this year. After all, what a year it’s been! I started early, trained hard, and came out swinging in the spring. I raced from March to November, completing some 29 races and events. That’s slightly fewer than I completed last year, but the average distances were much longer. Along the way, I set new personal bests at every distance and course, reached new levels of endurance, and tried out two new disciplines of bicycle racing. More important, I found within myself levels of determination, resolve, resiliency and motivation that I didn’t know I possessed.

I’ve been very blessed along the way with the assistance of some great friends, a year devoid of major illness or injury, and a work schedule that allows for an almost decadent amount of training time. I’ve been blessed by the selfless contributions of others toward my several charity drives this year. I’ve been blessed by the love and support shown to my family members, whenever I’ve featured them on this blog.

And I’ve been overwhelmed at the experience of this project, itself. What started as a bet to do a year-in-pictures project has developed into something much more, which I never would have predicted. I’m humbled and flattered by all of the kind words that you all have expressed about my writing, and my racing, and what it has meant to you through the year. I’m incredibly touched that several people have told me that they’ve been inspired by what I’ve had to say, and are going to take positive steps in their own lives toward improving their health and fitness.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be closing the book on 2013, turning my attention on conditioning and planning my 2014 season. But for this night, I’ll enjoy the glow of the fire and of the year that has been, and be thankful for all the things I have accomplished.

Nov 282013


Among the reasons we made the trek to Virginia for Thanksgiving this year was to meet our new nephew, Oliver. He’s only just over a month old, so there was more of him eating and sleeping than us meeting, but that’s to be expected.

Another highlight of the trip was spending Thanksgiving evening itself at the home of one of my brother-in-law’s coworkers, who graciously agreed to host the six of us (plus Oliver) for dinner. I’ve spent a lot of Thanksgivings away from home over the past decade, mostly due to work-related travel. But I always seem to find myself at the warmth of a family table, welcomed sometimes by total strangers with genuine hospitality.

For that small miracle, I am deeply thankful.

Nov 272013
It would've been pretty, if I wasn't concentrating so hard on what I was doing...

It would’ve been pretty, if I wasn’t concentrating so hard on what I was doing…

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and that means it’s time for our first little road trip in the new car! With two bikes slung on the back and 4 adults, plus luggage crammed into every nook and cranny, I expected us to be far less comfortable, and the car far less fun to drive. I was wrong on both counts! We made great time all the way to Virginia Beach, despite some snowy roads in the mountains of West Virginia. As with every time I’ve come through this state, I’m reminded that I have GOT to spend more time here on a bicycle.

Nov 182013
This. Gallons of this.

This. Gallons of this.

Well, it finally caught up to me. I felt it coming on as early as last Tuesday, but I kept soldiering on anyway, hoping it’d clear itself up. I’m a big fan of moderate exercise when you feel yourself starting to get sick. My very unscientific theory is that raising your core temperature and heart rate through exercise helps fight infection. I have no study to back it up, but it seems from my own experience that working out can shorten the duration and lessen the intensity of whatever you’re coming down with. That, and whiskey.

So when I felt that familiar tingle in my sinuses last week, I just kept on. I rode and ran like I normally would, although with a slight decrease in speed. It seemed to be working. I didn’t get much worse. At least, it didn’t until my all-day, race and ride pedalfest on Saturday.

By Saturday night, I had just about lost my voice. By Sunday morning, I was a full-blown wreck. This morning marks the first time I’ve had to call in sick to work since probably 2009.

Maybe it would’ve happened anyway. Maybe going down for the count was inevitable, and pushing through last week was just postponing it. But there’s no denying it’s here, now. Time for rest, and lots of tea, and maybe even a little medication. Oh, and whiskey, because it hurts so good.