Monday, August 2, 2010

ben with friends

It has ben a great week with great friends.

Wednesday night, I met up with Christine Bechtel and Chris Perkins at Patapsco for the first time in a long time. Christine's husband had volunteered to stay home with the kids, and it was great to ride with her again. Back in the B.C (before children) she kicked butt on the bike. She still does!

Sunday, Sarah and I were joined by Iggy and Maureen for a wonderful day.
We started out with a 42 mile road ride.

Mo & Iggy ready to hit the road.

Mo, Sarah, and I caught at the Spa Creek Draw Bridge. Iggy sprinted and beat the gates!

After lunch, we went for a short late afternoon sail. Timing was perfect and we made back to the slip and got the boat put away just as it started to rain.

Crewman Iggy

Time to turn around and head for home!

After an already wonderful day, Chef Iggy (Iggy is in the USCG and is currently stationed in the White House kitchen) treated us to a spectacular surf and turf with mouthwatering Tenderloin and Tuna.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

ben to west virgina

Anyone who knows me, knows that Canaan Valley in Davis WV is one of my all time favorite places. If you are expecting a fancy and foo foo resort town, forget it. If you want killer mountain bike trails, great xc skiing and downhill in the winter, and good people year around Davis is the place. Last Saturday night after work, Sarah and I loaded up the truck with the bikes and stand-up boards and left Annapolis bound for Davis and the West Virgina State Mountain Bike Championships.
We rolled in late and spent the night at the Davis Alpine Lodge. Now, if you look up the Alpine Lodge on- line, you will find reviews that say, horrible, disgusting, gross, so-forth and so on.
No question about it, the place is old and a little worse for wear, but for $69 a night, it is a place to sleep and take a hot shower. I have started and/or ended many epic days in that place, so no complaints here.

I woke up and walked across the street to the new Hypno Coffee and grabbed a couple of go cups to take back to the Lodge. Having only ridden my mountain bike once this year (not to mention my ongoing back problems) I was still not 100% sure I was really going to race. The first person I ran into at the coffee shop was Matt Marcus sporting the race T-shirt. The art work on the shirt is maybe one of the best since the '93 Jurassic Classic , and I decided I had to race just for the shirt!
Sarah and I went to The Bright Morning Inn for breakfast and met up with John and Beckie Manzione who had graciously invited us to stay with them in their home at Timberline Sunday night. Also present was former pro and friend Sue Haywood, her boyfriend Tim, Anne (whom I met later in the day) and Joel Gwadz of the Gwadzilla biking blog fame.
Eggs, pancakes, and bacon was just what I needed to start the day and get ready to race.

I signed up to do the 6 mile beginner race. I'm not a beginner mountain biker. I have ben riding those stupid things for almost 20 years. My first race was the Canaan Mountain Series Summer race in 1992 in Davis. A few years later in 1995 I did a bunch of races including a NORBA Nationals in Helen Georgia. I was placing in the middle of the beginner class, so I upgraded to sport. I found myself so far behind in the Sport class, I was just riding by myself. I still had fun riding the courses, but it definitely wasn't racing. Other than a bunch of 24 Hours races, I stopped racing bikes. I still went to races once in awhile to cheer for my friends, but my career as a bike racer was over.

Feeling somewhat guilty of "sand bagging" (racing in a class below your ability), I crossed the bridge and lined up with beginners. Looking around seeing most of the "beginners" on fancier bikes than my Trek Fuel, wearing team kits, and heart rate monitors, I no longer felt any guilt. Now I felt "Great, I'm going to get my ass kicked in the beginner class." 5, 4, 3,2,1, Go and we were off.

Bringing up the rear from the gun, I passed a couple riders on the road and a couple more on the prologue, before getting to the grassy single track. Cool, I had people in front of me and people behind me. I was passing people and I was getting passed.Racing!

This was way more fun than riding by myself, shit I was actually racing. I had moments of brilliance, and I had moments of stupidity, I rode some sections well, and I rode some sections poorly, but I was racing in West Virgina and having a blast. I wish the course had been just a little longer, but at the same time was stoked to see the finish line. I was happy not to ride the 17 and/or 27 miles loops of the sport and expert classes, but I really did miss getting to "walk" my bike over the moon rocks. I didn't miss Hoo Doo Rocks and some of the more technical sections of the long loop one bit, and my back thanked me for not riding the longer distance.
After the race there was a party behind Blackwater Bikes with plenty of free pizza from Sirianni's, and beer from the Blackwater Brewing company. It was fun to see my friends and I officially met Sue's friend Anne. Anne finished 2nd (her first mountain bike race ever), and by virtue of being the first finisher from WV, was crowned the Women's Beginner State Champ. Davis local Nick Waite won the men's pro/expert class, Sue took honors in the women's pro/expert, Joel won the Clydesdale class, and I finished somewhere in the middle of the beginner class.
Sue Haywood. No longer racing World Cup,
but still World Class!

Joel heading home for the Clydesdale win!

Nick won and set a new course record in the Pro/Expert Class.

After the party, Sarah (who had volunteered at the finish line) talked me in to climbing back on the bike for another loop. We stopped and took pictures, and not being in race mode, had time to think of Roger (Bird), Gunnar, Matt, Sue, Laird, and all the great people I've met riding and hanging out in Davis over the years. Really fun times and really great memories.

Post race ride

I'm not ready to come out of retirement and start racing on a regular basis, but I had a blast. Who knows, maybe I'll save my number plate just in case.


We spent Sunday night with John and Beckie (Boom Boom) in their house on the slopes of Timberline Ski area. We love T-Line in the winter, and being there in the summer was just another reminder of the epic 24 Hours of Canaan Races I did there many moons ago. So much fun, so many friends.
John and Beckie own three beautiful rental homes (Winterset #21, 22, &39) and we spent the morning touring their houses. If you ever need to rent a group house at Timberline these houses are unreal. I took a soak in the hot tub to get the kinks from Sunday out, then Sarah and I bid goodbye and headed back to Davis. We had taken our Stand-Up boards with us, and had planed on paddling Mt. Storm Lake. After an inspection of lake, we determined that it was too windy to paddle and spent the afternoon in Thomas, and then back over to Blackwater Falls State Park.

We had an early supper at Sirianni's before leaving for home.

My friends that have never been there, you should go. My friends that have not been there in a long time, you should go back. Give me a call, I will meet you there!

Monday, June 14, 2010

ben in the zone.

I have ben privileged to know several world-class professional cyclists. When they are having a good day, they talk about riding in the ZONE. I may have had fleeting glimpses of "the zone", maybe once, but more often than not, I find myself riding more like a BOZO than my more athletically inclined friends. Welcome to the BOZONE!
It has ben a while since I have ben able to do a road ride without any time constraints. So yesterday morning I did about 20 minutes of yoga to loosen up, made a kick ass fruit smoothy for breakfast, and then headed out the door with no real plan other than about a fifty mile bike ride.

At 9 o'clock it was already hot. Sarah and I rode out of Annapolis and headed out St. Maragarets Road and ended up in Arnold on the B&A Trail, a paved Rails to Trails path that runs up to, and then around BWI Airport.

Sarah and the B& A Trail

We stopped several times to refill water bottles, but about 20 miles into it, the heat was getting to Sarah and she turned around and headed home. I continued North towards BWI. I made it to the airport overlook and cooled down with a sno cone. It was hot, so I opted not to ride the loop around the airport and began my trip back towards Annapolis.

I hadn't gone more than a mile from the overlook when my chain started skipping. I was fiddling with the derailleur adjustment when the chain completely jammed. Upon close inspection, I discovered that I had separated a link in my chain.

I'm about 24 miles from home and have a broken bike. Great! Hot just got Hotter. No problem, I have money in my seat bag, I will find a phone and call Sarah. Did you know that pay phones are extinct?

Welcome to the BOZONE!

I pushed and scootered my bike sereral miles before I finally came across someone with a chain tool. A quick fix and I was back on my way. However, by now I had completely lost what ever groove I might have had, and it wasn't going to come back. Did I mention HOT? With about seven miles to go, I found a 7-11 with a pay phone and got in touch with Sarah and let her know where I was. I slammed a 32 oz Gatorade and then continued to drag my butt towards home.

Deep in the BOZONE.

The City Dock in Annapolis is less than a mile from home. I was suffering like a big dog and had to stop for another break. I was treated to a little live music while I tried to hide under the shade of a tree and cool off.
Local Musician: Melody Page

48 point something miles and almost 5 hours after I started, I made it back to the house.

Even deeper!

It took a cold shower and a 2 hour nap in front of the AC, before I could move again. I' m pretty sure Sarah stuffed some pizza in me while I was crashed. I did manage to rally and we had a great sunset sail on the bay before turning in for the night.

Anybody want to go for a ride next Sunday?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

ben wondering

ben wondering where the hell April and May went? I can't believe it is June.
Sarah and I usually go out west the end of March or the first part of April, but for numerous reasons, it didn't happen this year.
The highlight of April had to be an old girlfriends 50th Birthday Party. My friend Kathy and I dated back in 1982. Kathy lived in a house named Lofty Oak and it was the social hub of a group of us that called ourselves the Epicureans. We had a softball and a football team, but mostly we partied down. Kathy and I have kept in touch over the years and she has also kept in touch with her old roommates from Lofty Oak and most of the Epicurean gang. Kathy decided that her 50th would also be a great excuse for an Epicurean Reunion Party. The Epicureans came to party from all over the country. It was great to see everyone, Kathy, Dale, Kevin, Carol, Boom Boom and John, it was especially nice seeing my friend Greg from my old Backyard Boat days.
It was just a moment in time, but the memories were etched forever, and everyone who was part of it shares a special bond. It was awesome of Kathy to share her party with all of us. Here are a couple of pic's stolen from Dale.

Epicurean Ski Trip 1982

Kathy and Greg 198?

May was a blur. My plans to go to the Hatteras fell through. I did my first windsurfing race since 1997. I didn't win any races, but I sailed consistently enough to take 1st Place overall. Not bad for and old guy with a bad back!
Sarah and I managed to get in SUP sessions around Annapolis. Didn't get to the beach in May, but any time on the water is a good time.

Sarah, sunset paddle.

I had a limited number of road rides by myself or with Sarah, but haven't been on the mountain bike yet in 2010. I keep telling myself that if I can just wait a couple more weeks to give my back more time to heal, that I can ride the rest of the season and not end up back where I started.

just me and my shadow

We went to the airshow at Andrews AFB in May. They had a really good collection of WWII vintage planes on display and it was neat to see them sitting side by side with today's modern aircraft. The Blue Angels closed the show, and that is always fun to watch.

B -17

Freedom Flight: P-51 Mustang, F-16, and F-22 Raptor

Blue Angels

The shop started an SUP Race Series a couple of weeks ago. I got my ass kicked in the first race.

The guy who won is training for paddle around Manhattan. Mike Dant finished second. Former US Sailing team member and professional sailor Geoff Ewenson was third, and I followed a distant 4th. I could train harder.....or I could just buy a new race board.

My sweet new Limited Edition Jimmy Lewis Slice

Almost forgot to mention that Sarah and I got to see Neil Young at DAR Constitution Hall the end of the month. Simply incredible. The man is still rocking in the free world.

My friend MJ once posted on her facebook page "just threw the clock out the window to see if time really flies". I can assure her it really does.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ben lei'd

Aloha! Sarah and I got lei'd. No not that..... Sarah and I spent this past weekend with Mike and Christi in Canaan Valley for Timberline's Annual Snowy Luau. Tons of snow and warm weather was perfect playing in the snow aloha style. Sarah and I snowboarded to almost 7 on Saturday, and by the time we changed clothes and picked up pizzas, we barely made it back to T-Line for the Lava Parade and Fireworks. Sunday, Sarah and I played on the telemark skis in the morning and then switched to our boards in the afternoon. Mike entered the bump contest and finished 2nd despite a tumble.

Monday we x/c skied up the closed slopes of Canaan and in the woods of the Nordic National. Once again, plenty of snow, but there a couple of connect the dots sections. Sarah was having so much fun she ended up skiing right out of her boots. Fortunately with the aid of duct tape and Mike and Christi's backpack straps, she was able to make it back to where we started from.
A quick stop at Blackwater Falls and a garlic fix from Sirianni's before heading home.

Aloha Spirit @ Timberline

Mike & Tucker heading home from the mountain

We had Canaan Ski area all to ourselves.

In the words of Chip Chase " There is snow, and it has to be used."


Blackwater River

Blackwater Falls

Thursday, February 11, 2010

ben snowing

It has ben snowing. It has ben snowing alot! I don't understand why the media is calling it a horrible winter. I think it is the best winter EVER!

I'm not oblivious to the fact that all of the snow is a hardship for many, but I really love this stuff.

Sarah and I have had so much fun getting to ski around Annapolis. It has been insane. We had to close the store last Saturday. Sarah andI crossed the bridge into downtown and skied up to the State House and St. Johns.

I worked most of the day Monday, and then Sarah and I had a evening ski at Quiet Waters.

If snow is a drug, I'm addicted. I played hookie from work this morning to ski untracked for 3 hours. Can't wait until the next session. Powerless. Need another fix. Want more.