Leaner nations bike, walk, use mass transit - MSNBC Wire Services

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Matt

Busy

New tasks at work and home have really cut into my goof-off on the internet time which in turn has left my blog postless for a few weeks (ok, months). Lots of stuff to write about, but no time to do it.

Spencer is a full-on school kid now. I take her every morning and it's one of the best times of the day for me. It's kinda sad that sitting in traffic every morning for thirty minutes is one of the highlights of my day, but we just don't get a lot of time to talk one on one time throughout a normal day.

We have all heard this a million times, but I can't believe how fast time with your kids goes by. Seems like just a few months ago I was bringing her home from the hospital.






A great trip to the beach in the last of October. The weather was great. 75-78 every day and coming off the summer, the ocean was still fairly warm. The trip was chock full of catastrophes (two kids with stomach flu, a blow out on the way there and a trip to the ER for me) and we still had a great time.





Molly cornering a butterfly.




Jeff Murray action shot! My buddy Jeff and his family were staying a few miles down the road and came upto hang out a couple days.




Great views from our deck.

Overdo

Ok, long post here. I'm way past due and need to spend a few minutes getting this caught up. Below are all the reasons I haven't been posting...


Will has his first bike!


Spencer started Kindergarten! A picture from her orientation.




Trips to the Zoo.




Whitney went to the beach with the a friend and all the kids (five little ones).




With the house to myself it was a great time to catch up on home projects. I didn't. Instead I packed up
and did a few bike rides that I never get to do.
The first was a cool road ride on Hwy129. A world famous destination for motorcycles and
sports cars. 318 curves in 11 miles cutting through the mountains between TN and NC. A big thanks you to the guys who sit up there and take pictures all day. I'll stole a few.





The next ride was a HUGE ride the locals call the Heinous Loop. 63 miles and approx. 8,000 feet of climbing crossing in and out of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with three really big climbs. It's not just the hardest ride I've done in years, it is probably the longest ride I've ever done, 4 hours and 55 minutes total time with few stops. It was hard but a whole lot easier than I expected. I've gotten much better at managing my effort and keeping fueled during long rides. Glad to have it under my belt, but I doubt I'll be doing it on a regular basis.


Greenway rides. I used to spend every Wednesday with an underlying anxiety that it might rain and ruin my Wednesday night mountain bike ride and social gathering. Now I secretly hope it will pour so the muddy trails will force us to hit the weatherproof Greenway. It's less riding and more social with a beer stop or two mixed in. Always a good time.



Racin'

Did my first cross country race in three or four years. I learned (or was reminded of) a few things.
  • Racing really hurts.
  • Before entering a race one should consider actually training.
  • Racing really hurts.
  • Carbo loading the night before is great, but not when the carbs are in the form of too much Mexican food and beer.
  • Racing really hurts.
  • Don't wear baggies and a t-shirt when racing in 90 degree weather.
The baggies and t-shirt were kind of a "I don't really race bikes and I'm not taking this too serious" statement, just in case I came in last place. Looking around the starting grid I was thinking last place would suit me well. Everyone was 15+ younger than me, a whole lot skinnier and didn't look as though they had been partaking in too much Mexican beer. I offered to arm wrestle the guy next to me (buck twenty, soakin' wet) for a ten minute head start. He politely laughed at my bad joke, but declined.

Luckily the race promoter made a start line decision to send us single speeders off a few minutes before the much larger Sport class. At least I felt a bit better knowing I would have a clear track for most if not all of my race.

The gun went off and it was the usual blast down the road trying to beat everyone else to the single track. I laid back knowing that it was a pretty long race and I had better save my legs if I was too have anything left in the second hour. Losing sight of the two leaders on the first climb was the best thing that could have happened for me. I relaxed a bit, settled into my own pace and once we hit the first big descent I was surprised to be back on their wheel. Their pace in the single track was just a bit slower than I would have liked, but this was good as it let me stay fresh enough to stay with them on the shorter climbs.

Heading towards some of my favorite trails rider #2 started to drop back just a bit on a climb. Watching the leader pull away motivated me to ride over my head on the climb, knowing I could recover in the tight fast stuff and still put some time on rider #3. The leader and I settled into a really fast pace. He offered to let me around several times, but I know from past experience I'm much better to let someone else set the pace. Given the lead I will always ride way too hard and blow up. Always.

We ended up trading the lead a couple times through the rest of the lap, but I knew that I needed to drop back a bit. I could do one of two things, keep the leaders pace (with no hope of actually winning), implode somewhere on lap two and be lucky to finish or slow it down and hold what was likely to be second place. Being old and wise, I opted for the latter. This is big deal for me. I used to subscribe to the "win big or fail big" philosophy and spent many races shaking or cramping on the side of the trail.

To keep a long story from being longer - I finished second about two minutes off the eventual winner. He told me after the race that he was last years Jr. State Champ and was in the points lead for this years Single Speed Jersey. All in all I was couldn't be much happier considering my part time bike rider status. I hope to fair pretty well in a couple other races this year. Maybe I should start training...


A couple pics from the race.






Wow

I won't post too much political stuff here, but I'm so blown away by the actions of our nations leaders on the subject of oil that I can't help but share my thoughts.

Nancy Pelosi, third in line for our Presidency, has been calling for the release of 70 million barrels from our nations Strategic Oil Reserve. That's right, all it will take is Bush choking on a pretzel and another Cheney heart attack and this genius could be calling the shots of the most powerful country in the world.

"Matt", you say, "How in the world could you be against a plan to lower oil prices!?!?". Fair question until you find out that we import 12 million barrels a day and the current consumption rate is around 20 million barrels a day. So the best plan our nations leaders can come up with is to deplete 10% of our nations oil reserve set aside for defense and emergencies, to save ourselves six days worth of imported oil!

What makes this all even scarier is the fact that this plan almost became a reality with a House vote of 268-157 last week! Almost two-thirds of the vote was in favor of this doomed plan. Hard to believe, even for Washington.

Ok, it's off my chest and I promise not to do that too often.

Swimming!

Spencer and Molly have been taking swim lessons and have both made huge strides. Spencer had already become a pretty decent swimmer, but the lessons have been a huge confidence booster. She's started diving, trying flips and heads straight to the deep end of any new pool to see if she can touch the bottom. Pretty good for five! Molly isn't quite there yet, but holding her own for a three year old. Armed with her swim vest she jumps in and isn't afraid to head off into the deeper stuff.


The swim teacher brought a waterproof camera the other day and snapped some cool underwater shots.

Spencer on the bottom of the pool!




Molly with classic "holding my breath" face.



Molly showing off her "Dolphin" style of swimming.

video




Fourth of July Weekend

The way the Fourth fell this year provided me a rare opportunity (in my business anyway). A three day weekend. We thought about going somewhere, but couldn't really think of anything that sounded that great without eating up too much of our time driving.



We ended up having a pretty good time just hanging around Knoxville and doing a few things we don't normally get around to.



First on the list was a local Fourth of July Parade. The kids get a kick out of it, but Spencer seemed a bit bored. I guess by five it takes more than local politicians throwing candy and helicopters to keep your interest. Can't blame her really.






Not sure what this look on Will's face was all about.


Hung out on the deck some. Playing in the sprinkler and grilling out.







Scout just had her 10th birthday and was glad to have us all home for a few days.





We loaded up all the kids Saturday morning to hit the local farmers market and have lunch at the Tomato Head.





Sunday we drove around a bit. Stopping by a few stores and then heading up to the Foothills Parkway. Everyone fell asleep except for Spencer, so she and I took the short hike up to the observation tower.

Spencer was blown away by the view.
 
Spencer and I finished up the weekend with a bike ride to the river with a stop for smoothies on the way home.








First famliy bike ride

Now that Spencer can handle herself on the bike, it was time to hook up the trailer, blow the dust off of Whitney's bike and get everyone on the Greenway for a family bike trip. Just a few miles to a local park, but it was lots of fun and the huge playground was a big hit.