Donate to support the National MS Society – My 4th MS150

33544421214_f0ffcb764d_bThis April I’ll be riding in my 4th MS150 – a two day cycling event where more than 10,000 cyclists ride from Houston to Austin to raise money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis and the National MS Society. There’s no other event like it in the country.

For the last 3 years, with the support of my readers, friends, and family, we’ve raised almost $4,000 for the MS Society. This year I’ve once again set my fundraising goal at $1500.

So, if you’re in the giving mood, please head over to my personal page and make a donation to help support research to make a world free of MS.

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The evolution of my 1984 Raleigh SS commuter

In June of 2014, I had my parents send me my Aunt’s old bike. I was excited to dive into the world of single-speed cycling, and lots of people use vintage road frames to build them up. I chronicled the rebuild (my first time doing things on my own) in this post, if you’d like to see the full story.

Since then, it’s been through a number of iterations as I’ve continued to tailor it to meet my needs both stylistically and for utility.

When I took it out of the box it looked like this:
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When I was done with my rebuild, it looked like this:
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Since it was for commuting to work, I added a rear rack for my pannier:
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I eventually decided to ditch the rack, since it really took away from the cool factor of the vintage frame. I now use a backpack to carry my stuff to and from work. Around that same time, I decided I wanted to try pursuit bars. So I replaced the bullhorns, and got some regular brake levers. I also finally found a seat post that fit, since the existing old one was actually too short. So iteration #2 was a pretty decent overhaul:
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I liked this overall but got uneasy when I would really get down in the horns and my hands were very far away from the brake levers. Eventually I decided to go back to regular drop bars.

At the same time I decided to chop 2cm off my quill stem, and switch from an 18t freewheel to a 17t freewheel. So, here’s iteration #3:
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Then Hurricane Harvey struck, and our house and garage were flooded. The bike, along with all the other bikes, was half under water for almost 2 weeks. The frame was salvageable as were most of the parts, but after giving them a decent clean they started to exhibit signs of damage – especially the freewheel and the rear hub.

So, I ordered a new set of wheels, a new chain, and a new freewheel. I went back to 18t this time. I find it a lot easier to start with it, but I miss the speed I could reach with the 17t. Oh well.

So finally, almost 4 years later, we’re at iteration #4. It looks very similar to the above pic,  but the new wheels are the biggest difference. I had wanted to ditch the fixie-style deep rims for a while, so I was happy for the excuse. The regular wheels look better with a classic lugged frame.
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So we’ll roll with this for a while. I’m already contemplating moving to riser bars – but, we’ll hold off for a while.
I guess that’s the beauty of these old road frames; you can do anything with them, and they are so easy to change around. This bike was originally a 10 speed, but it was very simple to make it single, and would be just as easy to put it back.

Twitter blocked my account because I told Ann Coulter to die in a fire

In response to this tweet:

Pretty sure it wasn’t the worst thing that’s been said on Twitter today.

I’m free to tweet again in 12 hours.

I guess next time I should just threaten nuclear war against her instead.

If I win Powerball tonight (or ever) I’d buy a lot of bikes

You can buy a lot of bikes with 600 million dollars. After paying off my my house, and my parent’s house, and my student loans, and my wife’ student loans, and our car, I’d make a trip to the LEGO store, obviously, and then to a bunch of bike shops.

N+1 is the only mathematical equation that I’ve ever been able to remember. It states that the correct number of bikes to own is always the current number you have (N), plus 1 more. Because, let’s face it, every bike is a different ride, and offers different kinds of fun.

Here’s what I’d probably get. (Disclaimer: subject to change based on shit I remember)

Jamis Renegade Elite (for gravel and commuting)
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All City Pony Express (for commuting and errands – front and read racks added)
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Surly Karate Monkey 27.5+ (for commuting, gravel, and trails)
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Surly Straggler 650b (for commuting, touring, gravel, and around town)
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Just off the top of my head….

How about y’all?

2018 Cycling Goals

In 2017 my goal was 2500 miles – but after dislocating my knee, and the flooding from Hurricane Harvey – I came up well short. Though I will say a little over 1600 miles isn’t too shabby for a guy with a busted knee and a destroyed house. I may not have made it anyway, but, well…..yeah. Anyway.

Here’s my ride calendar from 2017
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The gap at the end of March is after my knee injury, and the gap at the end of August until October is from the flooding.

So, barring any more natural disasters, or god knows what else, I’m setting my goal for 2018 at 2500 miles again. According to some simple calculations, if I bike to work at least 3 days per week, for at least 40 weeks, I’ll hit 2280 miles just commuting alone. Throw in the MS150, and regular Saturday morning miles – I should easily be able to crack 2500.

But, its January and fuck knows what’ll happen during the year.

So….let’s get rolling?

2017: A year in [brief] review

Now seems as good a time as any to start writing again. 2017 really kicked the shit out of us. I suppose it’s best to just get it all down on paper. Err…

Does anyone even read this anymore?

It wasn’t all bad. Here’s the Good:
-Despite all of my quirks, my lovely wife is still by my side. Going on 18 years…
-After raising nearly $1500, I completed the BP MS150 for the 3rd time, riding nearly 160 miles from Houston to Austin in support of the National MS Society
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-We spent over a week in coastal Maine, showing our friends who’ve never been what it’s like to relax in cozy cabins and devour copious amount of lobster while watching fishing boats troll by. We split the time between Bar Harbor & Boothbay Harbor.
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-My sister-in-law married her best beau, Josh, and it was an absolute blast.

-Jess & Tom welcomed their daughter Ainsley into the world, while Mohan & Ponnarasi welcomed little Manu.

-Chainsaw’s recovery from his back paralysis has been incredible. Last December he couldn’t lift himself off the floor of the emergency vet. Now, he’s hoppin’ & boppin’ like the old man he is. Speaking of which – he turned 17 this year. Dude is mega old!
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-I finally got to see U2 – and it couldn’t have come at a better time: their Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour. One of my favorite bands, playing one of my all-time favorite albums ever. It was blissful.
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-Our friends, family, & complete strangers came to our rescue, our aid, and helped us get back on our feet after losing almost everything in Hurricane Harvey.

And now for the shit—–

-In March, I dislocated my left knee, badly. It took over a month of walking with crutches and a cane, getting fluid drained, and lots of bags of frozen veggies, but I was finally able to move about. Because I’m stubborn, I still completed the MS150 even though technically I still should have been walking with a cane. But, it still hurts. It still hasn’t fully healed – and may not ever.

-Hurricane Harvey: Yeah, we got a fuckton of rain, but interestingly enough that wasn’t what flooded our entire neighborhood and put over 40″ of water in our house for 2 weeks.
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We were only expecting [hoping] for a few inches of water if any at all, but, the Army Corps of Engineers had other plans for us.
For the full album of photos, from the first few drops of rain to the complete tear out and demo, check out my Flickr album HERE (it’s depressing, FYI)

-If being flooded out of your home wasn’t bad enough, the apartment we had to rent for 6 months was broken into after a month. The fuckers stole both our computers (which we had saved from the house), some money, and some sentimental antique jewelry. None of it has been located. Fuck those guys.

-My wife lost her job (after the flood, so, double the impact).

So, overall, 2017 was a tough year to gauge. The negatives were huge and devastating. But the highs were also pretty awesome. Let’s just say it was a year that will leave a lot of memories in its wake.

Hi, 2018. Let’s be friends.

2015: The Best / Worst in Music

I might do a few of these year-in-review posts for a few various things so I’ll keep the, brief. I’m not making a top 10 list, or anything that in depth – just picking my favorite thing, and in my opinion the worst, or most disappointing thing this year.

This first one will be a look at my picks for best and worst album for 2015.

BEST ALBUM
Lord HuronStrange Trails (playlist on YouTube to check out)
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I’ve been hooked on Lord Huron since their debut album, ‘Lonesome Dreams‘ back in 2012. In fact it doesn’t even seem like that it was that long ago. It took nearly three years for their sophomore effort and what we got was thankfully an album that continued everything that was great about the first.

The sound of the music on Lonesome Dreams could be described as almost ethereal – the kind of music you’d hear in the background as you’re hiking through the Grand Canyon under starlit skies with the Milky Way shining in a beautiful arc over you from horizon to horizon. While Strange Trails doesn’t quite emulate the same feeling, it’s not far off. The band continues with song after song of addictive guitar riffs and vocal catches that you can’t get out of your head. It almost seems as if the album is a single song with multiple movements. If you’re weary of it, or it doesn’t seem to catch you right away, my suggestion is to go back to Lonesome Dreams, and get lost in that album (you’ll immediately recognize the first track, then let it glide seamlessly into tracks 2, 3, & the rest.) Then come back to Strange Trails and it will feel much better.

Almost all the songs are noteworthy, but I’ll say that some stand outs include (in no particular order): Cursed, Fool For Love, Hurricane, La Belle Fleur Sauvage, & Meet Me In The Woods.

Bonus: If you’re curious about the backstory to their debut album, Lonesome Dreams, do some googling on this fella named George Ranger Johnson, and read about the history of the band – it will make you appreciate their creativity even more.

Runner Up:
Wilco – Star Wars
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Wilco, the kings of alt-Dad-rock, is in my top 3 favorite bands of all time. Even still, with this fantastic out-of-nowhere surprise album full of great music, I couldn’t put them in front of Lord Huron. Even so, Star Wars should be on your must listen list.

WORST ALBUM:
Phantogram & Big Boi – Big Grams
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I’m sure there are worse albums-  and in fact I know there are. But to me, this was the worst. Well, most disappointing anyway. I couldn’t even get through the whole thing.

Look, I love Phantogram. Their first two albums were fabulous. I know they walk the line between alt-rock and techno-hip-hop, or something like that, but it worked. Well.

But now all that talent is pretty much wasted. I, personally, could give two shits about Big Boi – but his participation in this group relegated the talents of Phantogram’s soaring lead vocalist Sarah Barthel to a backup whiner, and Josh Carter to hip-hop drum machinist. Just awful. I hope this was a one time thing.

At least we’ve got Phantogram’s 3rd album to look forward to soon.
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So there you have it. If you need some new music to listen to, give the above a try. And if you want your ears to bleed, you know where to go for that too.