Wednesday, December 19, 2007

If I only knew.


Rarely a day goes by that I don't think of my late brother Jason. Jason Andrew deBellonia is his fill name. After almost 12.5 yrs you'd think it would get easier to release the sadness that comes with losing a brother, but it never truly get easier.

All that helps is time as it passes, but not in the way that so many say. Time doesn't heal anything, it simply lets you forget. That is until you are once again reminded of what you are missing.

My brother Jason was the first of the 3 of us to graduate high school. Not because I was a troubled kid, or I didn't care, but because someone needed to help raise my brothers as my mom struggled to make end's meat and put food on our plate. 2 jobs, 1 full time with a 2 hr commute followed by a part time job is what she worked. She always greeted us with a smile and love, no matter how hard her day was.

Life didn't get us down, we had each other and that is all that mattered. I sacrificed a little, so that my brothers could have more. I may have embellished my at times and used my "need" to be there for family things to not catch up on schooling, but we all make mistakes. I ended up w/a GED and headed off to work. But this isn't about me.

Like I was saying, Jason was the first to graduate and we banded together behind him in celebration and cheer. Living what I missed out on, but could now live through him. He was a good kid with a level head and a warm heart. Despite our differences growing up, we were becoming much closer as adults. I looked up to him for his courage to try new things and stand up for what he thought and believed in even when no one else did.

So tonight I am creating an enlarged photo of my brother at his graduation. It's for my grandmother for a Christmas gift and the photo is of her and him walking arm in arm. He is looking right at the camera and his look in his eyes makes you think he is right in front of you, like this moment was only seconds ago.

And my question of the night is, if I only knew what it would have been like to have him here still today?
Would he be married? a doc, artist, or engineer?
Would we be as close still as I think and hope that we would be?
Would my life still be the same?

One lesson that I have learned from Jason is life and in death, something I still struggle with time to time is that anything desired should be done without hesitation.

Here today, gone tomorrow is not just a saying, it's simply the truth of life. While many of us search each day for the meaning of life, we often forget that it may be as simple as living life and not pondering it.

If we were to die tomorrow, would be leave behind memories for those who loved us to rejoice in, or would we leave them wishing that we could have done more?

Merry Christmas little brother. We all miss you and you are always in our hearts and thoughts.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lisa drools as ripped men run up the stadium steps in a men's body spray commercial and since I can't really compete with that "body type", my first reaction is to look at her with the most tender caring gaze that I can cast upon her and say with all the warmth in my heart, "See honey, I adorn this suit of fat for you, so that you can live a life of productivity and not just that of drool, lust, and sex!"

I'm not sure she bought it, but at least she giggled, humor is a good quality, right?!

ToysR Us = BUST

Today was my first visit to a ToysRUs store is at least 10 yrs and being that I am a 5yr old trapped in this 37 yr old body, I was super giddy and sported a grin from ear to ear as we approached the store's entrance.

But once we walked through the doors, my joyous world instantly collapsed around me. Lisa clinched my hand so tight that within 30 seconds of being in the store I felt tingling in my fingers.

Help, Help, kids everywhere! Running, crying, grabbing, crawling, clawing, yelling, and fighting. It was like a nightmare staged in daycare center. I felt Lisa's eyes scrambling to locate the nearest exit, but we needed to press on so that we might find that perfect gift for our niece Sofia.

It was truly scary as we passed isle after isle in complete disarray. Empty boxes from restocking blocked off corridors while parents crammed past each other in a sea of strollers like bumper cars at King's Dominion.

Bumps and nudges with pardon me, excuse me, can I get by, on your left, on your right, passing, passing, "Little Johnny get over here!", "where is your sister?". Wait, why should "Little Johnny" know the sisters whereabouts?!

Toy stores aren't playgrounds for the kids, you need to leash them, especially this time of year. At one point Lisa pulled back on my arm so that I would turn to her and as I did she thanks me. "Thank you, Thank you for not wanting kids!" "I simply couldn't imagine dealing with it." "Thank you again." I'm thinking that I can use this "Thanks" as a way to get my way later. HeHeHe... Hey, I may not want kids, but I like to go through the motions still. LOL

5hrs, I mean 15 minutes later Lisa and I are just short of running out the door (the only reason we didn't run is because security might think we were stealing) with a very unsuccessful attempt to locate that perfect gift.

I was completely disappointed in the store though, they lost so many sales simply because the selves were empty and/or chaotic. Maybe their plan is to create mass hysteria and thus make people think that if they don't buy what left, they might not find anything at all.

Either way, I felt cheated...

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I need a place to host this photo, so I am turning to Blogger to do so.
I modded my REBA fork yesterday, so here is the write up.

Well I installed a 15mm spacer yesterday with ease and success!
The whole process was about 25minutes taking my time.

QUOTE
First, no need to remove fork lowers for this like RS claims.
To adjust spacers for travel, simply:
First, clean fork thoroughly removing all dirt and debris.
1) Remove air from Neg chamber.
2) Remove air from POs Chamber.
3) Loosen Neg Chamber 10mm Nut on bottom of fork leg to about 5 turns from complete removal. (I'll get to that in the following steps.)
4) Remove 20mm? Nut/housing for Pos Chamber Schrader Valve.

** Be careful NOT to let dust and debris get into fork.

5) Compress fork and use a plastic/rubber mallet to tap the Neg. Chamber valve into the fork.
** This works best with the nut installed so that it's flush with the valve (Step 3).
6) Once loose, you can remove the nut and push the valve into the fork leg.
Now find a 6mm Allen T-handle works to push the assembly to the top of the fork leg.
** Note that having the fork collapsed lessens your need for a long "push" rod.
** I also say 6mm because it is large enough to not damage the valve by accidentally pushing on the valve core.

7) Just push the air assembly out enough to see the area that houses the spacers. ( between the two chamber seals)
Add/remove your spacer(s) and reinstall reversing above steps.

** I added about 5cc of fork oil before assembly, this is your choice.
** be careful to not over tightened the 10mm on the Neg chamber.


And you are done...

Here are some photos of the fork before and after the 15mm spacer install.
I took the fork from 80 to 65mm.

This DOES drop your A->C (Axle to Crown) from approx. 19" to just under 18 1/4" which will effect your handling.
It steepens your HT angle, something that I desire!
The bike does handle faster, in fact I found myself having to make slight corrections during my steering input as I was doing a little over steering, but by the rides end life was very good.

The whole ride was spend without wanting to lockout my fork, while I normally do on climbs and sprints.
This mod DOES NOT stiffen the compression perse' but on some level it seems to steepen the rate at which the air chamber works.
IE: It feels more like a "coil" fork than a air fork now.

I also never bottomed out on the ride.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blogless

I've been blogless for the past week or so now. Mostly because I have a lot going on, yet nothing to really talk about.

Mostly school, I did get a 90 on my last calc exam which has me close to an A for the class so far; a 180 from the 40 avg.s that I was carrying in previous calc attempts.

Lisa and I are having a lot of work done to the house right now, including:
~ Resetting gutters, installing gutter guards, and having alum wrap installed on all the fascia board behind the guttering.

~ Installing vapor barrier and insulation in the crawlspace and attack.
~ Installing some new light fixtures.
~ Fixed some wiring
~ Did some wall & window work in the bathroom.
~ Having new windows installed on Sat, including alum wrap on each window.
And other little things along the way.

We also finally bought a LCD TV and all I can say is WOW!!
You must get HD TV to appreciate it, otherwise the picture looks at times less of quality than a SD TV.

Along with the TV we also got a DVR and they are pretty neat to use.
We can record up to two shows at a time and using them is really easy.
Definitely worth $11.95 a mo IMO.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Such the nerd.

Well, today sort of sealed the deal on my nerdness. Until today, I belonged to a few cycling forum sites, and some for VW's.

On occasion I have joined some side sites to find out info for purchasing something, like recently for an Xbox360, or something like that, but today I added an ice hockey to my list of forum memberships.

So I officially have a site for each hobby and that has got to be one of the nerdiest things to do in life; is to have all your hobbies attached to some web interest.

While I have your attention, I'd like to ask if anyone has a 360 and if so, how has it been for you? Any issues? Please tell me via a comment.

Consumerism

I even find myself struggling with inner turmoils like recycling. I do my best to buy products that are friendly to the environment, but which is better?
The product produced with paper wrappers or the one of plastics?

A major issues is the cutting down of too many trees (mostly from rain forests) or using something that can't biodegrade (sp) for 1000yrs?

I've been alone a lot lately since I've been a little more on the "leave me alone" kick than wanting to be out about the town.

With this alone time I've had so chances to ponder a few things, one being how hypocritical I can be. To be honest, all of us, but this is more about me now.

How did I get this way? How can I change? Or maybe a better question is, can anyone actually live a life without Hypocrisy?

I challenge that thought and say it simply can not be done. We have created a life that is so large and out of control, that Hypocrisy is exists everywhere within it and us.

Are you pro-life? If yes, should a person who murders a mother and unborn child be charged with double homicide? If yes, then aren't we admitting that the unborn is more than it really is by giving it the same protections as a "viable" person?

Do you speed? Even by 1 mph over the limit? Then how are you different than the person going a little faster? In the eyes of the law, it's being broken equally.

But more than those stupid questions above, I continually find myself in a state or prejudice. Not like the "racist" prejudice that so many associate the word with, but the real meaning of the word that I prejudge, period. I've been trying hard not too, but I can't seem to control my thoughts sometimes.

The other day at Ukrops I saw a lady, definitely over weight. Not by 10, 15, 20, or 50lbs, but by 100-150lbs, and she was picking up some lactate free milk. Well, more like 5gals of the stuff and my first thought was "Lady, that milk is the least of your worries". I felt horrible about it and made myself apologize, well in my own head. Just then the lady walked right into Lisa with her cart. She completely saw Lisa standing there and made no effort to avoid her, then walked by like nothing happened. No sorry, not even a glance as to show visual remorse. So I fell back int o my first train of thought and was like "fat bitch, I hope you gain another 100lbs drinking all that milk."

When I sit back and type this and think about how I want to treat people, I wonder how can I get there? I've always said "treat others like you want to be treated", but that seems to be more a "feel good" approach to a isolated situation than a life motto.

I can rest only on the upside that face-to-face, I give everyone a fair shot to impress, based on the situation anyway. But that doesn't make me feel much better since on a superficial level that so many of us meet on a daily basis, I am a bit of a bastard.

Back to the main part of this blog though, I think laws are the largest area of concern for hypocrisy since so many of us live to see folks who wrong be punished; that is until we are the one who wrongs.

And lets face it, with all the laws on the books, I am sure that 99% of us break no fewer that 2-3 laws a day, if not closer to 5 or 10. Sure they may be on different levels of wrongs, or someone may have a good excuse, but isn't that the Hypocrisy?

Thinking that it was Okay for you because you had a reason, while you are sure that the others didn't. Does an excuse really excuse?

Sorry about the ramblings, I am just trying to create some weary eyes so I can finally get to sleep.

I have seen my ways and this post is my attempt to make some formal changes to right my ship before it sinks.

In today's world so many think that success is a matter of happiness or money, but maybe it's also or more to do with leaving the world as we can into it.

Excited, inviting, and innocent.

A toast to being less worried about others and they should "fit in" and more worried about not worrying about life's superficially assigned status's.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My weary legs

I finally got out for a spin today and I was pleasantly surprised at my times vs how my legs were feeling.

The legs were burning and the so were my lungs as my pace felt all too slow. Each climb was met with an intense struggle to make it too the top; while the downhill on the other side took all the energy that I had to navigate and remain tire side up.

Then, 1/2 way through the park, just before entering the North Trail, I peaked at the time and discovered that I had only been on the bike & trail about 26 minutes. No wonder I was tired and breathing heavy, I was really moving! At least for my fatass.
This is usually no faster than 30 minutes, maybe a few more as the completed part of the trail is the hardest part. North Trail flows well and has little TTF's to it, Belle is easy and really so is the rest of Buttermilk from East to West ending at Reedy Creek.

Anyhow, I was stoked, so I continued on and headed to meet up with Lisa for her lunch break before heading home to study.

Tomorrow my weary legs get traded in for a weary brain as Calc Test 3 is at 9:30am.
This was a complete shock to me when I found out on Tuesday. I had missed class the Tuesday prior and I am thinking that was also the announcement date.

Lucky for us, this test is open notes. Oddly, I had open notes at VCU and couldn't pass a test to save my life, so far I am avg. solid "B".

Monday, November 12, 2007

I just saw one of the most moving shows on TV that I've ever seen. It was ALIVE DAY MEMORIES: HOME FROM IRAQ by James Gandolfini.

Unlike other shows that cover the topic of the Iraq war, this was a simple show of interviews with the soldiers that have served. In it's simplicity, it was James and a small crew listening to the stories of veterans of the war, but there wasn't any blame or finger pointing that so many angle towards.

The approach of the show really allows for you to feel the sadness that overcomes you as you see these truly brave people tell their story. So many carry hope and positive outlooks in situations that would have most of us on a cliff's edge.

These folks are truly inspirational and I can only hope to find that kind of strength and dignity if the situation ever arrives.

So today, tomorrow, and always, a huge thanks for all the men and women that find create the buffer between us & our enemies. You & your families sacrifice so the many don't have to.

Godspeed to you.

On a side note, my cousin is about to go on his 5th, yes 5th tour in Iraq! This war needs to end...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Despite my knowledge of being nothing more than a lazy uninspired fatass for the past few weeks, even months now, I can't break the cycle.

I know that I need to go out and ride, exercise, etc, but I just can't bring myself to doing anything about it. I'm feeling a little more fat and squishy than normal, but even still that is not motivating me. Heck, I'd rather just not eat (hah, like that would ever happen!) than get moving.

I need to break the cycle, but it's been pretty hard. My schedule is odd right now and my normal ride partners and I have been unable to really make any rides. I never realized how much I liked to ride with others until I don't for months at a time, then I notice it sorta sucks to ride alone.

Don't get me wrong, I like to get away as much as the next person, but I also need a little push now and again...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Green-Blue-Green

Sometimes I take it as an insult that so many of us, including myself think about every other part of the world when it comes to traveling, when most of us have seen less than 1% of what our own country has to offer.

We seem to forget that we have 49 other states besides our own, each as unique and interesting as an individual country as you would find in Europe.

Now I know that Europe is rich in world history and the largest basis for the background of North America, but even then we tend to be short sighted and fail to look beyond Europe and into the Mediterranean, Africa, and Asia.

I'm not saying that no one else thinks about this, but it seems to be far and few between. What spurs the thought on is talking with folks from England, Germany, and other European countries. While we all know that the US has it's fair share is issues, it's seldom shown that so does Europe. Over crowded streets, limited land, expense, etc.

I was very surprised to know that many European's think of the USA in terms of the Mid-West, Grand Canyon, Alaska, and the vast untouched lands that most of us have no interest in.

So, here we are looking onto the other feeling blue that they are so green, while we are actually their envy.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Tonight Lisa and I decided to go out for some dessert, but instead of heading to a local Cafe' we opted to hit Ukrops instead so that we could buy a whole cake or something.

Well, 15 minutes late we are walking out with a a rotisserie chicken, 1/2 rack of ribs, a loaf of fresh bakery bread, bakery éclairs, and a 1/2 gal of Edy's GirlScout Somoas ice cream!

Okay, so all that wasn't to eat tonight, but I did tear into the ribs, followed by an éclair and a scoop of ice cream. Man I feel like a little kid again as I sit here with my aching stomach from eating so much crap.

I learned tonight that I just don't fancy the super sweet stuff anymore, my foods need to have more flavor to suit my tastes. Pardon the pun.

Well, tomorrow I'll be spinning the legs to work off all the eats from tonight.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cycling depressed

I bought a new (Okay used) 29r last FrIday but I have yet to get a single ride in yet. It's been nothing but go-go-go and I've been pretty busy this week trying to earn some $$.

On the plus side, the house that I am painting is about a day and a half in and I think another 2-3 days and I'm done. I now understand why the painter wanted to charge $2300-2500 to paint it.

Anyhow, my lack of riding has been having me feeling a little down and unlike some that get sore/stiff after exercise, I get that way if I don't exercise. Hopefully I'll get in a ride before Friday, but I really want to get this house done too.

Lisa's brother will be coming to Va in the next 2 weeks and our bathroom is torn apart. So after the house is painted the bathroom will be getting it's facelift, well more like a "makeover." Its more like smoothing out the 65 yr old walls, stripping and repainting the windows, re-caulking the tub, floor, and replacing the mirror/med cab., towels holders, etc.

I also got word today that my motorcycle will be really happening!! My brother has a 76 Kawi KZ 450 that looks a little like the photo, but in blue and since he has 3 other bikes, he's feeling a little generous.



Okay, I am not to sure what this photo is about, they saw photos are worth a 1000 words, so post your comments about it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ah YouTube. Every once in a while it becomes my soul source of entertainment, and it really can be pretty funny.

Here is a gem of a Nickelback Rockstar Spoof - Popstar

Relief!

So after Tuesday's canceled class because of a watermain break on campus, today I finally got my Test 2 grade.

Since I struggled through a few parts of the exam I was nothing but nerves for the last week, barely sleeping last night.

To add to the wait, the class was just about to leave as 11 minutes had passed into class time before the professor finally made it. I didn't know which I was more nervous about, him making class and finding out my grade or us getting out of class before he got there.

Once he made it, I was mixed bummed and excited, almost like that feeling you get at the start of a race.

Much to my surprise I scored my 2nd B in a row!! Although I have to admit that 6pts are from extra credit, I still scored a high 70's on my own.

It's such sad commentary when I need to be proud of scoring a "natural" C on a test, isn't it...

And to make things even better, he apologized for being late so he decided to give everyone a 6pt bonus on the Test 2. Yeah, 6pts because he was late!!! I'll take that and now my class avg is a solid B at an 87.

Speaking of relief, who about all this rain! Although I normally can't stand rain and I want to so badly just curl up in bed and sleep right now because of it; we so desperately need it!

Monday, October 22, 2007

This is so cool!

If I were to ever have a kid, this might be the sport I'd have him/her in even before mountain biking.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I forgot to mention that Wed was also the day my mom was welcomed into the world of Lasik vision.

She come out of the operation feeling good and no real pain. She was able to see far away, but near sightedness was still a little off.

By Thursday morning she was still having issues seeing anything within 6' clearly, especially lit objects such as digital clocks, but was able to make out individual boards on the neighbors deck.

Thursday was also Test 2, which I tried my hardest to study for and I think it started out well, but became increasingly difficult as time went by. My real issue seems to be making sure what I am writing down is what should be written. I've been having a horrible time with copying numbers incorrectly, transposing numbers, and even writing what I am thinking rather that what needs to be written. Okay, so maybe I need to explain that last one.

I was multiplying some stuff out and one answer was 6x, the next should have been 5x, but in my head I was already adding 6x + 5x so I wrote down 11x. That would not have been to bad had I not written down the 6x already, or later added the 6x & 11x together. As you can see, it can get real bad fast and I have to figure out a way to keep myself focused. I try and try, but I still screw up!

Anyhow, I ended up staying 35 minutes after the test was over to finish and I am pretty sure that I got at least 3-4 wrong of the 16! Something that I am not proud of at all!!!

It's not for lack of knowing as much as it was just forgetting in the moment.
We'll see on Tuesday. Meanwhile I have a copy of the test and will be completing it at home to make sure I am ready for the next section to be taught.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Test 2!

Tomorrow morning is Test 2 in Calc. I passed my first one with a B, but I need to continue this and I hope I can.

I was wanting to study all day, but a severe headache that had me on the brink of tossing chunks most of the day had studying put off until about 7pm.

Luckily I did get a chance to study and seek out the tutor yesterday for some questions, it really helped. Tonight I was able to figure out a few more things, so I am pretty set I think.

During our review in last class, the Prof. puts up problems for us to complete as practice. For those brave enough to do this, you gain 6pts on the test for each completed, right or wrong. Well, so many failed the last test, that people were almost fighting to get to the board just to gain extra points; which pissed me off because I wanted to do a question, but some folks went up or simply stayed standing to get every question possible. F'ing ASSHATS!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wow, this is such a huge weekend coming up!

Tomorrow night is the opening game for the Washington Caps followed by our good friends Anne & Greg who will be getting married on Sat. which will be followed by the Washington Caps home opener on Sat night followed by our club's (Richmond-MORE) Sunday Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Itchy Itchy, ya ya dada;
Itchy Itchy, ya ya here;
Scratchy Spots a lotta, yeah yeah!

I think I am well on my way to creating my first Chigger tribute song!
My second ones will be based on Tim's "Chigga' Plez!"

Being in my forth day of itchy bliss and doing a lot of research, I can dispel a few notions about chiggers. Have I said that I have no fewer than 150-200 Chigger bites?! Yeah, it's that bad!

1) Chigger larvae are what cause the bumps on your skin. And while they prefer to stay off humans, they will wonder on if left no real choice.

2) They don't burrow into your skin, they are actually so small (can't be seen by the human eye) that they simply attach to hair follicles and inject a solution that liquefies your flesh so they can feed.

3) Bumps appear in 8-24hrs after being bit and once they feed they begin their transformation into an adult, known as a Chigger.

4) Chiggers are super tiny, the largest being no bigger than a sharp pencil tip!
Yeah, they are very hard to see.

5) By the time they are adults, they are no longer a threat to you as they feed on plant life at that point.

6) You may catch them just before they "detach", look at your bite mark and if the center looks brownish, chance are it's an adult chigger.

What I've used to control the itching, and what worked for me.
Hot shower or bath. Oh yeah! Talk about feeling alive!
When you insert you hurting, itching skin into a hot bath you instantly feel like you're on fire, chilled, and for a lack of a better word, a giant scratching orgasm!

Usually a good 5-10 minutes makes you feel good for about an hour or so.

Worked:
Bactine Spray = good temp relief as well as an antibacterial for keeping infection down.

Benadryl Clear Lotion = Good relief for a few hours, but I warn you not to figit otherwise itching comes back fast!

Benadryl Tabs = Good for sleeping, but can have you feeling tired or hungover after a sleep.

Vick's Vapor Rub
= Best Itch solution for hours on end!
This may burn a second if rubbed/scratched area is really raw!
I even tried this on real current itchy areas and was almost instantly fine!

Did not work!
Cortizone-10 = Did nothing to control the itch.

Hopefully this can help someone out so that they don't have to keep reading 500 different articles on what chiggers are and how to get rid of them. Although my guess is this post will simply make it 501 articles to read!

Lastly, wash everything that you wore the day you got chiggers in HOT water; and wipe down all surfaces that you came in contact with with some sort of cleaning solution.
IE: car seats, couch, bike, etc.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Well damn, time flies when life is fun, or so they say. I can't complain too much since things are going pretty well right now.

Since I last blogged, I achieved a few goals and that's pretty exciting to me!
1) Find a job. Or in my case, many jobs. I'll be working on/off for a few folks over the next few months, mostly family members that need odds and ends done, but they never have any time to do it, so step in Jay. This will work out great because I get to set my own hours and since passing Calc is my main concern these days, having options is great!

2) Passing Calc! Well, so far I am getting Calc over 300% better than I ever have, no lie! I not only manage to understand what is going on in class and homework, but I also managed to finish a whole test; only to be topped by passing it with a B!

3) Sold off some bike parts which makes my checking account very, very happy!!

4) Getting to finally lay my hand on some bike mechanic work, I'm very, very excited!

5) Got some CCVA schwagg in the works after 4 years, so that is very exciting too!

6) Went to the Douthat camping trip and also actually rode this year, unlike last year where I ended up sick most of the time.

Other side news:
Today is my bro's Birthday, so Happy Birthday Mikie!

I am in day 2 of way too many days to go of having chigger bites all over.
I'm not talking a few here and there, I'm talking 150-200 bites easy from head to toe!

I am one giant itch fest. In fact I itch so bad that sometimes all the itching from various regions of my body cancels the other itching out, leaving me itchless for a minute or two.

The itching is so bad, that I actually continually feels as if I have the chills and get goosebumps all over.

I swear this is worst than any poison ivy that I've ever had, not that I want to test that statement.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Parental Advice...

I may not be the best person to be advising folks on how to raise kids, as I don't have any of my own, but I do want to pass along a suggestion to parents or soon to be parents.

During some recent conversations (and many past conversations), it seems that many parents really stifle their children's experiences while growing up, and I don't get it.

Although I lived a far from perfect childhood (read I was in the middle of an ugly 6yr divorce/custody battle), and I never had a lot of money, my family always made sure that my brothers and I lived a childhood of experiences.

What brings this up is conversations while riding, or talking about riding and I would say, "just like that feeling of doing "XYZ" as a kid." Which is often met with, "I never did that as a kid."

I know, get to the point Jay! I'm talking about experiences like riding bikes, playing sports, swimming, hiking, etc.

Since I am into cycling so much now, you can see how I may get into a conversation like, I wish I could jump my bike like when I was a kid, or when someone asks, what are you thinking when you take a turn that fast? My reply, "I'm thinking that it feels just like when I was 10 and riding at Possums Track.

That feeling of speed, the little bit of g-force that tugs on you as you hug the turn, that millisecond feeling of feeling weightless while soaring my bike in the air off that makeshift wooden jump that usually fell apart after each launch!

My point is that while some others did the same things I did, many seemed to have not done so and that is incredibly sad.

If I didn't have these fond memories of my childhood, I'd most likely wouldn't have the same connection that I do with cycling today! This is one reason that I use this avatar, it reminds me most of how cycling makes me feel today, and how much of the kid is still in me.

I have such a hard time comprehending that kids grow up into adults never knowing how to bike, swim, play baseball, etc.

But most of all, I can't imagine what it would be like to be 37 30 years from now and my only memories were of playing video games or watching TV.

And I can almost promise you that if you get the go out and play, and become involved in sports, etc; your little ones won't grow up needing medicine for Restless Leg Syndrome!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

So today I went to my mother-in-law's to help out around the house by painting her master bath.

Every time I go there, she always has some great treats like cookies, cake, soda, etc and today was no different.

But I'm trying to watch my weight, so I ignored the cookies on the counter, or at least for the first few hours that is. I arrive around 11am and by 12:30 I was already feeling a little hungry, so when I went in the kitchen to grab the paint, I remembered the cookies on the counter.

Ya-know, the kind in the clear plastic container that look all fancy with icing or swirls. I decided to go for it, but there was only 1 left with icing and although I really wanted it, I left it and took two others.

I have to admit, they tasted OK, sorta bland and almost stale. But I was hungry, so this was at least something to nibble on before I got lunch.

Before I know it, a few hours passes and there is no way that I'll be getting lunch today, the bathroom is taking 3 coats of paint to cover the wood, despite using primer! So I go nibble on a 3rd cookie to hold me over til I'm done.

5pm rolls around and I am finished! I go to clean up and I see the cookies again; with my stomach growling I look over ever so tempted, but this will be #4 and that would be like 1/2 the box.

I ignore it for now and finish cleaning up. Ah, I know, I'l grab that cookie!
Oh wait, what's that say? WTF??? Canine Cookies?! Yes!!

Well it all makes sense now, that bland taste, that stale bite. In my rush to eat never noticed that I in fact ate 3, count'm 3 dog gourmet treats without knowing it.

Sorry Bear, I didn't mean to almost finish off your snacks.

On the plus side, I did get my 7% fiber, 15% crude fat, & 12% protein for the day.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

For all the good that the internet can be, the shear volume of information is just at times overwhelming.

I've been researching some ideas for a wheel build for Lisa's bike, but at times it's just too hard to make a decision that you feel any more comfortable with than had you not researched at all. In fact, I think I might feel less comfortable with just about any choice I make now.

Funny how the 1 or 2 negatives mixed in with a 100 positives still leaves you feeling you might be making a huge mistake.

Not to mention, it seems that some feedback is more personal than professional. I mean that I guess we are all guilty of that to some extent, but it doesn't help matters any.

On the flip side, in the end I just feel like saying "forget about it."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

NYC Yankees game.

Lisa & I attended our first NYC Yankee's game on Sunday. Although neither of us watch baseball, going to a MLB still something that needs to be done at least once. The same can be said for any ML sport.

Thanks Dad & Karen for the invite!

There is something about going to a pro level event that makes even the most boring sports interesting. Maybe it's knowing that you are witnessing the very best there is to offer for particular sport. Some of it is knowing that you are taking part in something much larger than just watching a game, history might be made this day and you can say that you were part of it.

Sitting high in the stadium, just off 3rd base gave a great view of all the field and crowds. Directly across the field from us in deep right-hand field is a smaller set of bleachers by which the "residence/attendees" are commonly known as and referred to as the "Bleacher Creatures".

These folks are one-of-a-kind, calling out the names for each Yankee when they first get on to the field and repeat that name until the players look to them and wave in acknowledgment. They also can be quite the little antagonizers, but really is awfully funny stuff!



The game ended in a 9-3 Yankee's win over Detroit. We were only able to stay til the bottom of the 5th, but we listened to the rest of it on the way home. We certainly missed a couple of huge plays, but that's teh breaks of the game when you still have a 6 hr drive ahead of you.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lisa was nothing short of a good sport on her birthday. It started out well enough with warm birthday wished and plans to mountain bike at Ringwood State Park, but that quickly fell to the wayside as car problems forced us to change plans as we were on our way to the park.

The basic breakdown for the day went like this:

8:30am: Breakfast
9am: Coffee shop
10am: On our way to Ringwood State Park
10:20am: Exit 287N to Ringwood Ave
10:21am: Here pop while making turn, Hmmm???
10:22am: Car won't move! @#%&#
10:23 am: Push car off road
10:25am: Pull out jack
10:30am: Find broken CV joint on 1/2 shaft just replaced in June!
10:35am: On phone with Local Subi dealer
10:40am: AAA is sending a truck
10:55am: Tow arrives
11:20: At Dealership
11:40: We leave on bikes determined to ride somewhere.
By 12:30 we went around a lot of Wayne & Pompton Lakes.
We found Pompton Cycles on Wanaque, the owner(?) greeted us before we could walk in because he was interested in my 29r. Nice guy.
He was able to give us the 411 on close by trails, so we headed out!

From 12 - 4 we spent the large part of that time logging in about 20 mls via road (10) & trail (10).

We also found & ate some Tony's Pizza. Yum!!!
4:15pm, dropped $342.00 to get car out of shop.

We'll try again soon. (Meaning next visit!)

Monday, August 13, 2007

NJ here we come!

Planned a trip to NJ for Lisa and I; with a side trip to NYC for a day or two.

First we need to figure out, take the pups, or forget about it and kennel them.

It's Lisa's birthday on the 17th, so we kinda want to feel untethered from the girls for a few days, but the added cost is hard to completely justify. (About $300.) for 4 days of boarding. Which isn't too bad, but then hotel stays and other expenses, next thing you know, $1k easy!

So we'll see. We decided to add some mountain biking to the trip also. Well, if we end up taking the pups and not going in to NYC for a few days. NJ has some great trails that can be checked out here, at mtbNJ.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

12 Years Later...

2am today back in 1995 marks the 12th year of my brothers passing; Only 2 weeks after his 19th birthday.

Jason Andrew deBellonia, My youngest brother. Although you live in my memories, there is not a day that goes by that I don't miss you.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

31 st Birthday

I'm so embarrassed to have remembered yet have forgotten to wish my brother a Happy Birthday yesterday.

My little brother would have been 31 years old July 12th, 2007.



I found this birthday photo on the web, so Happy Birthday Jason. I miss you everyday!

Love, Jay

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hot on the heals of finding out that one of my favorite burger joints (Five Guys), is more fattening than I thought, I find out that Chipotle burritos are between 1100 & 1600 cals each!!! My God man, that is just insane!

To find out the calories in your favorite Chipotle food, go here: Chipotle Fan.com




Chipotle Nutrition Facts

Serving Size:
1 Burrito















































































Amount Per Serving



Calories 1464

Calories from Fat 571


% DV*


Total Fat 63g



Saturated Fat 20.5g



Cholesterol 166mg



Sodium 4126mg



Total Carbohydrate 158g



Dietary Fiber 18.5g



Sugars 10g



Protein 67g

































Vitamin A 154%


Vitamin C 85%


Calcium 55%


Iron 36%







Chipotle Nutrition Results provided by:
Chipotle Fan.com



My Chipotle Burrito:

Chipotle Fan.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

vroom vroom

My green beast is alive again. I've been planning the comeback of my Corrado for a year now. Not that it's really in bad shape, but I love my cars to work 100% and the Corrado just needed a little TLC.

I just wired up the headlamps to legal and finished up with the instrument cluster install.

Like a dumbass I forgot to "preload" the speedo needle so it reads about 5-10 mph off right now, but that shouldn't be much of an issue. I can make the fix without needing to remove the whole speedo cluster.

I also forgot to add in the Alum face panel that was a Xmas gift, so I'll add that while I'm at it.

Hopefully the car will be ready for inspection in the next few days, no later than next week.

My truck just had the tailpipe drop off and when I went to see if I could remove the bolts for to replace it, the pipe coming out of the rear of the muffler just torqued off with it. LOL All I could do was laugh.

Monday, July 09, 2007

That is what this weekend's Richmond-MORE Sherando Trip was all about!
We had a pretty nice turned out too. Well, all things considered. We'll get to the good stuff.

Monty was kind enough to pull all this together, which was mighty nice. This was my first time camping at Sherando Lake National Park.

The camp grounds were nice, and unlike state parks, you actually get to pitch a tent on glass, not stone driveways.

Lisa was sick with sinus issues, so I arrived alone on Friday sometime around 5pm. Monty, Tom Doyle, Bill & Marianne, Schupp, Sean, were there already, with Richard, Margaret, John, and others following a little later. Our site was bordered by blackberries and backed up the woods. So on Friday night, this brought all the deer into our site. Right about 7pm they just wandered down from the hillside 1 by 1. It was a pretty neat sight.

Once set-up, it was all about chilling, drinking some beer, and chit-chat. Monty was kind enough to make us some campfire cobbler, Nice!

Before we knew it, 11pm was the time and everyone was ready to just sleep. Temps got down to about 50* at night, this made for some great Zzz catching. Woke up early on Sat because temps were being called for the mid-90's, so to avoid them we wanted to hit the trails before 8 - 8:30.

I guess we ended up on the trails around 9am and it was already getting warm. The camping area went from 50's/60's to about 80* as the sun rose of the site. The sun was just tremendously hot.

Before we left, Sean, Susan, Wayne,and Dewayne arrived to make the ride. In total, we had about 10 folks on the ride.

Our route was camp to Slacks --> TorryRidge --> MillsCreek --> Coal Rd --> road to camp. In total it's a 20 mile loop. With so many riders, you are bound to have some issues, so time is was not a priority. I think the ride took about 4hrs, including no fewer than 7 flats, 1 chain break, dérailleur issues, a couple wrecks resulting in 1 injury (minor), etc.

The climbing out of the park is definitely brutal and more fun to go down than up. That said, so many people hated it that it was fun.

Once back at camp, showered and fresh, we were treated to another wildlife encounter.

A hawk that we'd been hearing in the distance for a day now made himself seen by landing in a tree in front of our site. We thought he might be eyeing the little Boston Terrier of PiperJ's, but before he could think about it, a falcon swooped in to make sure the hawk knew he was unwanted in the area. Only about 2/3's the size of the hawk, the falcon continued to dive at the hawk for about 20minutes.

Finally the hawk took off to make his getaway, but the falcon was going to drive home the point by attacking him in mid-air. It was truly a sight to see, and one that most will never see outside of a TV show.

A few more people showed up (Greg, Travis & his brother) to join us for Sat night and the Sunday rides.

I started to pack it up for an early departure on Sunday. I was one the people who flatted. TWICE! One being a nearly fatal tire puncture. OK, more like a 2" gash that I was able to rig by backing the tire with a Clifbar wrapper to limp back to camp. Followed by a second flat less than 1/2 ml down the tail. At least the nasty singletrack was over and the remaining trek home was fire & paved roadway.

Anyhow, after packing it was all about a huge potluck dinner. Everything from chicken, steaks, brats, Skyline Chili, mounds of cheese, to homemade bread was on the table. You would've thought that we were feeding 100, not 15 or 20.

Beer and food, it was a good time. We all just chatted as the sun set and the blue sky turned into a starlit mecca. Absolutely beautiful starry skies at night and we were able to see quite a few shooting starts, as well as track some satellites.

Soon as darkness began to set, we started the campfire. A huge thanks to Schupps purchasing power of buying in bulk, we were able to get wood bundles at 1 for $5.00 or 2 for $10! I bet we could've gotten 3 for $15.

Before we knew it, midnight was upon us and only 3 or 4 were still awake. By 1am, Greg and I were the last to give in to sleep.

Sunday morning was an early morning were we all tried to get rid of all the food that no one wanted to carry home. I was packed and on my way by 10:30, arriving home around 1pm.

I had a great time, but sometimes the packing/unpacking is just too much for only a 2 night stay. Next time, I'll be looking to stay 3 or 4 nights.

Thanks to eveyone who attended for a great experience, and to all those that couldn't make this trip, see you next year.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mac Valentines

Despite my intentions to exercise more, it seems that my true desire is not there. Mind you that I have never been the pillar of go-getterness, but I've usually been somewhat good at doing what I say.

It seems that somehow over the last few years I have found it easier to say what I want to do and make excuses to not follow through. Do me a favor, if you read this, post a comment. It can just read "comment", but that way I know that there is a checks & balances of some sort to keep me honest. Even blogging about my new behavior traits is not enough to look myself in the mirror and demand a follow through to my actually create resolve in my life.

Do to my procrastination, I never finished my "Degree of Interdisciplinary Studies" to turn in for approval. Although VCU did not help too much in the matter, as getting a meeting with an advisor takes 2 weeks at a time; and when questions are abundant, it makes it extremely difficult to ... Nevermind! It's MY FAULT, period. Ouch, that one hurt.

I have to get out and ride or run more though, I get these light "pains" in my legs when I don't get out enough. It's my legs yelling at me, saying "GET OUT AND MOVE ME FATASS!"

Really, it's my ligaments & tendons tightening up from underuse. It's a pretty weird feeling, almost a feeling of what you think it would feel like to be a piece of fruit drying up when naked to the hot summers sun.

One issue that I can't seem to resolve is my "tennis elbow", not from tennis, but from swinging an ax for a few months. I've been having the issue ON/OFF for the last 3-4 weeks, and it just won't go away. During discgolf yesterday, I was barely able to make my throws after about hole 12.

Well, I need to get ready to do something of exercise, chat more later...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vistas broaden

** This was an old draft for April.

So it seems that the old I get the more I am "appreciating" older women in terms of looks. When talking to Lisa about it, she smiled and said, "so you are maturing and appreciating the finer qualities older women have."

I looked at her and said, "no really, it feels more like I am just broadening my spectrum of what's "appealing" ."

I know that guys are often labeled as a creature that will screw anything that walks, but that has seldom been my case. In fact, one might wonder how I was ever so picky looking much like I do. LOL

To be honest, the way I view ladies all seems to be changing now. One thing that I find weird are my feeling towards girls literally 1/2 my age. I mean I live in a college town and go to that college, so I see a lot of girls deemed "hot" every day, but that rarely seems to matter like it did years ago. Sure some are good looking and you have a quick look, but rarely more than that and never more than "wow."

It's like something inside you gives you a feeling of "disconnect," to the thought of hotness. More like the eyes and hormones seem to be on different levels of interest.

This is not a complaint, but more an observation of how it feels to age and how we approach life in those key moments.

I think a lot of the disconnect comes from personality rather than looks. Young people seem to be shallow, (not meaning petty) but meaning lacking experiences and worldliness that makes for great conversation and stories. Also, I think older women tend to have a higher value of how they see themselves, and that in itself is sexy. Confidence is definitely key, smart sarcasm too.

Maybe we all age like this, we grow from something simple to something complex, like a finely aged wine all of our experiences shape us into interesting individuals.

Truth be told...

Scales & photos don't lie like our eyes do.

After my Xterra experience I was forced to face a few facts, OK 1. I'm FAT!
Am I as large as some, no. Am I as small as some, that is a resounding HELL NO!

I feel a little more like our friend Homer Simpson than I do me these days.

So after a little soul searching, I decided (along with Lisa) to finally invest in a scale, something that I haven't seen in years. Wow, scales have come a long way since the day of yester. Confused by all the gimmicks and such, Lisa and I settled on a WeightWatchers scale which allows for up to 4 user profiles and tells you your weight and BodyFat %. There was one a little more money (twice the price) that actually tells your water % too, but $60.00 is a lot for a scale.

Moment of truth came yesterday morning when I got on the scale and in fact I believe the reading came back "FAT ASS!". OK, not really, but I certainly was a little heavier than I feel comfortable with, like 208lbs @ a whopping 28.1% body fat.

YIKES, no wonder I wasn't as cold as the others I was swimming with last week, I am a whale in comparison.

Well, enough said about my weight and now what am I to do about it? Lisa and I have both added about the same weight since we've been together, the only thing is Lisa has gained an 1" of height and doesn't show her extra baggage like the other.

So at a claimed 28 body fat @ 208, I can loose about 55lbs to get to a 153lb and be ZERO BF, but that is just not possible, so a more realistic goal would be to take that NET weight of 153 and add 15% to it. (Under 20% for a male is OK)

At 15% BF, My target goal is 177lbs, but to be honest I'd be happy around 180-183lbs, something I haven't seen in about 7 - 8 years. I usually hover around 187-192 in summer and 200lbs in winter.

Diet is not the issue, as I eat well. I barely eat foods that are premade besides turkey sausage, spaghetti, etc; unless we eat out. Even then Lisa and I usually eat at places that like Mexican, Pizza, or Sushi which is all made to order.

Lisa and I do splurge and hit Five Guys once is a while, but that might come to a halt soon after viewing their Nutrition Facts. You see, they claim the use of "lean" meat, but what is considered lean?
In fact, 1 beef patty is 19gr of fat (280 cals), a bun 9gr (250 cals), and fries 1/2 serving = 310 cals @ 15gr of fat.

So a typical dinner sees each of use eating a min. of 45gr of fat and about 900 cals, not to mention any peanuts that you eat while waiting for your food. Now this is muc h better than Mikey D's or BK which have burgers that put a Five Guys whole dinner to shame in fat content.

Still, that doesn't make me feel much better and is an easy way to drop an extra 1000-2000 cals per month from my diet. Mind you, every 3000 cals = 1 lb of fat.

So, I will stick with my diet for fresh foods, most uncooked when possibly and cooked when needed. I will increase my intake of leaner cuts of meat like chicken, turkey, and even pork <-- YES, you can have lean cuts of pork.

So Goal one: Loose 10 - 15 lbs by Sept 1, 2007. It'll be the remaining 10- 15 lbs that will be the hardest and longer to drop.

Monday, June 25, 2007



Triresome?! Not really!


Warning, this was long as I have a ton of recapping to do. My intent is to be able to read this next year as a reference.

I am blogging my weekend events a few days afterwards so that I can better sort out

how I felt all weekend as I am no longer just caught up in the moment.

My strongest feelings still move to the awesome feeling of support that my friends and Lisa sent my way during the race. It's an incredible feeling to have your name cheered by friends all along a race course, it gives you a huge boost to keep up the struggle and push on despite a weary body.

Mark Sunday the 17th of June the day I dared to overachieve. Well, that is what always tell my friends that they do when they decide to race involving physical endurance.

Today was a different day though, it was my turn to see what I was made of, to see if I could push my way through a tri course all the way to the finish line.

Inspired by Jared, other friends, and some great people that I met during the Ace's Adventure Xterra 2 weeks earlier I got to thinking, "I can do that, I should do that!" And that is exactly what I set out to do.

Xterra Richmond (James River Adventure Games) was only 2 weeks away and this would be my last real chance of the year to tri out Xterra locally. I should mention that I did the "Sport" Xterra, not the Championship race. The difference being that the Sport is only a portion of each leg of the championship race. IE: Swim was 850m vs 1000m, BIke was 14.1 mls vs. 18 mls, run was 5k vs 10k.

Now really the swim was supposed to be only 500m, but 2 days out Xterra officials thought it nice to bump up the swim for us to 850m. I was thinking YIKES as my last swim to actually swim/practice was when I was like 13, maybe 15 and here I am at 37 thinking am I gonna drowned attempting this? Quite a few friends gave me a pretty confused/ bewildered look when they heard about my swimming history . My main thought was more about that I knew how to swim, I was just out of practice for it.


Prior to the race, I tried to complete each leg of the race if for no other reason than to have a better understanding of what I was in for on race day. Not being someone who races, I just tried to eat well and relax most of the week prior to the race.

With a 4 days of the race, I went out and did a light ride, followed up with a practice run at the swim. A huge thanks to my friends Audrey, Blake, & Heather for being kind enough to help me out and show me the swim route. What a rude awakening I had the night of my first swim since a lifetime ago. Once you know how to swim, its easy to remember and take back up, but controlling your breathing via getting in a rhythm it what is so difficult.

Our swim started out at the boat landing on Brown's island; we all get into our bare essentials for the swim and enter the water. The air temp was 68* and the water was 72*. I was feeling a little newbie for sure as everyone had water shoes & goggles, while I was there with just a swim suit & a gut full of in-trepidation to overcome.



There is something about looking across a river that you know nothing about and knowing that this is an all or nothing venture. The goal is to swim to the eastern end of Bird Island that hovers about 110 meters from shore entering into 2 distinct currents each about 30 meters wide separated by slower moving water before rounding the island and heading up the back (Southern side) to the far western side of the island, than heading back to shore rounding a buoy before heading back to the Northside of the island for another bouy before heading back to shore.

So in reality, we would be crossing the same section of the James River 3x, just each about 50 meters apart creating a zigzag before finishing at the launch site.

On my first trip out I was about 70/30 on whether I should even be considering trying this, but I was doing a good job of keeping self-doutb suppressed while feeding my brain real things to think about with worthwhile questions about how to, what, where, when, etc.

The James is always unpredictable when it comes to depth and this year was no different. On my Thursday's swim the river was at 4'2" and was expected to be 4'6" for the race. As a reference a week earlier it was 5'6" (5' being mandatory life-vests to enter) and in recent year for the race, its' been as low as 1'6" to almost 7' for the race.

Too late to turn back...
Up to my knees in brown river water, the air around me is the same as the water in which I stand. As goggles and last minute chit-chat are set in place, a brief "see you out there" was spoken before 4 separate splashes broke the waters surface. " I'm doing it! This isn't so bad?!" I actually had to keep slowing down to stay behind those that know the river and currents. My goal was to follow their lead and if I could stay far enough behind I could use their body english to know the conditions I was about to enter.

Current one was almost immediate, only about 20' out from shore and that is because the pillars that support the train trestles (sp) were there, otherwise the natural bend of the river would've had the current right on point.

Feeling good 1/2 way out...
Stoked that I was feeling fine and keeping up about 1/2 out to Bird Island, but no sooner did I think that than suddenly I started to feel my heart rate soar. I tried to slow up but we are now entering the 2nd current and my brain is telling me I should start to worry. All that slowing up did was started to see me drop off the back of the group while fighting to stay on point for the island tip.

My heart was pounding, and all that slowing up accomplished was putting distance between me and my friends, along with becoming increasingly vulnerable to the strong current. While I tried to keep moving forward, doubt did creep into to my mind, "what if this, what if that?" I was trying very hard to keep my cool, but that feeling of being in the middle of a river (any body of water) while rapidly getting tired as catching my breath was almost impossible was quickly becoming overwhelming.

Finally I let out a quick (seemingly calm) call for anyone who might be able to touch ground. About 10 sec later Blake yells back that he found a rock where I could stand. Once I heard this, my brain was able to focus on the 50' that I needed to recoup.

Once I was able to catch my breath, the lesson was learned and I stuck to a pace that was keeping my HR even keel. I knew that this like most sports is not just about knowing how to swim, but enduring the fatigue and mental challenge of keeping your own pace, not that of others. This was a great lesson to learn before the race, and when helped me for the rest of the swim, the swim of the clinic the following night, and during the race.


Fast forward to race day:
The race starts at 8am sharp, so my day started around 5:30am. Breakfast was a 1/2 cup of coffee, small bowl of oatmeal and a small bowl of fruit. I did my best to hydrate in the days prior to the race, so that I would not have to feel "water-logged" from drinking too much on race day.

The nerves were pretty calm, mostly because I was doing something so different that I didn't feel the same pressures as the other racers might be; for me, goal 1 was to finish the race. Knowing that my swim could be the death of my race, that was my main focal point and to accomplish the swim, I knew that remaining calm and collected was the only way to make it.

Everything was packed the night before, so my early rise was more to just get the body awake and some food in me a few hours before the race. Check-in / Transition set-up opened at 6:30am, so I was aiming to be there between then and 7pm.

6:30am rolls around; gear:Check!, race numbers: Check!, water/race food: Check! Tire pressures good: Check! I'm on my way to Brown's. I opted to ride my bike to the race, I figured it would help to loosen me up, get the HR up at least once, etc.

The parks are beautiful at that time of the morning, a slight haze through dark greens of the forests that are being penetrated by the yellow-orangish hues of morning sunlight. It was inspiring to was the woods wake up as I just had, you can feel the energy from nature beaming all around you.

One my way in to the city I only ran across one other, he was doing the same as I and riding to the race.

Still calm I arrived at the numbering station, Jen (an Xterra Rep from the land of the outdoor gods [read Asheville, NC] was who numbered me. Perhaps my worst most nervous moment of the days happened at the numbering station as I was informed that that I should remove my shirt so hat the 3 huge numbers wouldn't bleed into my jersey. Trust me, no one wants to see me shirtless, me being the first. Once the numbers were printed on my, it was official, I was a racing today.

I was still mostly unnerved by what was about to happen, maybe it was because there were many friends around me that were about to go through the same thing. Really, I felt that I was part of something big, almost larger than life. I mean this weekend is called the James River Adventure Games which involves thousands of athletes and a couple 10's of thousands of bystanders.

This day was not just about me or any single racer, it was about all racers doing something that most don't and from that we are all winners no matter how we place. By using this way of thinking, it was easy to stay calm, focused, and give each leg my all with the only thought of completing it.

7:45am; We are all asked to line-up at the boat ramp just before the race for last minute instructions and questions answered. I did feel a little pit developing in my stomach as I stood at the rivers edge. Some people from Friday's swim clinic recognized me so we just sat and chatted right up to the moment of the swim. I jumped in about 5 min to race time so acclimated to the water and loosen up.

8am: Herded like cattle, as each whistle blows the next groups edged closer to the water and race time. The first shot rings out at 8am signaling for the green caps to start their race, from there we would be released in a total of 3 waves every 2 minutes based on color of caps. I was a yellow cap and we were wave 3. My idea was to let the siren sound and follow everyone into the water rather that be one of the first only to get stampeded by flailing arms and legs. The beginning of a swim looks no different than a shark attack and probably not much different in terms of injury that you can receive either.

1 minute, 30 sec, 20 sec, 10 sec, 2, 1 bang, GO, GO, GO!! I paused close to 30sec after the whistle waiting for everyone to jump in so that I could find my place in the water, but it quickly appears that despite my lack of swimming, I will be doing much, much better than others already in the water. I jump in and go as far upstream as possible to avoid splashing bodies. Next thin I know I am passing 1, 2, 5, 10 people, more. 1/2 way across I am already passing others that left 2 and 4 minutes prior to me. I keep thinking "stay your course", "Think HR, HR, HR." The swim had so many people and there was so much going on in the water that I was across to the first buoy before I had much chance to get tired. I'm doing it and it was actually fun.

Once out and on the backside of Bird Island, I walked some to keep my cool (I was passing most swimmers too), then I hit the tree with my thigh. A nice charlie-horse was just what the doctor ordered. I was a little worried about a cramp during the swim from it, but that never became an issue.

I rounded buoy 2 & 3 than headed to 4 which had us cross the river back to shore about 100m above the start. I was right along side Heather and Audrey which gave me mixed feelings. I was like YEAH!, but was also thinking you have 1/2 a swim to go and I need to slow down. Buoys 5 & 7 where back on the front side of Bird Island while buoy 6 and finish were on shore. It was a zig-zag for the last 1/2 of the race; having up crossing the river a total of 6 times. At buoy 7, I was feeling beat and I stopped for a good 1-2 minutes before making the cross to swim finish.
Swim time: 28:??, my original thoughts were 35-40 minutes.

Coming out the water I would've been best served to just run back barefoot. It too way long to collect my jersey, shoes, and water and go.

Now I am in transition and I was expecting too much. IE: Dry feet, etc. Putting socks on wet feet is hard, especially in a rush!
This transition had us suit up for the mountain bike part, my decision to wear my cycling shorts for the swim worked great. About 6-7 minutes after coming out of the water, I was now on my bike and heading towards Belle. Find a groove is all I thought and stay in the race to go at my pace, not that of others. It's a little harder to do than say because you see people in front of you and you want to put them behind you, especially if key places (like bottlenecks) are coming up.



I made about 10 passes by the time I was getting on Belle Island, one person didn't like my pass and soon passed me. It was hard not to chase him, but I though keep it for the singletrack where I can perform better attacks and maintain speed. Well as it turned out, he began to blow up before we reached the west tip of Belle and the pass was made again, from that point on I would not be passed by anyone on the mountain bike leg of the race. I was on a high! I've never ridden so well and with so much desire to keep up my pace. Passing became a regular event and I liken it to eating sweets, have one and you want another and each successive piece consumed makes the craving that much greater. I became a passing junkie and that describes my whole mountain biking experience. Sometimes I passed as many as 4, 5, 6, people at once.

I must add that I always did a clean pass, I always asked only after being behind someone for 20-30 secs. Perhaps the most surprising part was that I was only off the bike twice the whole race because of a traffic jam. I really got pumped on 3 parts of the ride. 1) Climbing the B'milk heights switchbacks where I ducted and weaved through 3 people on the lower turn alone, then passed 3 more on the rest of the climb all without stopping. Soon after I came across Heather who had 6-7 minutes on me between doing a 2min better swim and 5 minute better transition. My 2nd fun part was actually passing on Blvd bridge at speed. Normally I would've NEVER passed anyone on that bridge, but I was feeling so good I made 4 clean passes riding around 15-20mph.

I did see some great endo/crash just at the apex of the upper turn to go downhill on the eastern side of Blvd Bridge. A guy got spooked by the trail hit his brakes and the next thing I saw was his rear tire at my head level. I quick "are you alright" followed by a "Yes" had me passing him. We had a ton of people hanging out on the Hodson Bridge/climb which was pretty torturous that far into the race.

I think it was at the top of that climb that I thought for a brief moment, you don't have to do the run part. LOL The North Trail was about 2/3 over by this point and I came across my first cheater. The guy refused to let me pass for about 2-3 minutes, then he crashed giving me the opportunity. About 5 minutes later after Bill's Hill and the berm section, I passed the same guy for a second time. I mumbled something as I passed, but I can't remember what I said. Once past the stumpump it was all about putting on the speed getting back to transition.

My run / walk. OK, walk / run.
Rumors flew about the run being changed from 3.1 to 4 mls and not being a runner, or even one who runs at all; when I do my body revolts via a calf lock-up at about 3mls. It's like swiss clockwork, it's that precise. So to finish this race, my only choice was to walk and run the whole run. This was pretty bad because the more I walked the less I wanted to run, and when I did run my body was like "No MORE". I was back to the mental game again, but I was unable to set any pace for longer that a 100 - 300 yards. I met a guy (Mike from Delaware) that was running and his pace was just faster than my walk, so we ended up chatting most of the whole 5k. My natural pace is faster than his, so we would constantly pass each other during the race.

Homestretch: I get onto the Lee Bridge and the volunteer with his enthusiastic supporting cheer was telling us we are almost done. The girl next to me asks, "how much further?" and the reply was, "cross the bridge and to the finish."
Relief and anger (maybe disappointment) set in. Fully expecting a 4 ml run, I conserved and lost terrible amounts of time on my run so that I could simply finish the race only to find out that the race was really the 5k promised.

I began to run at that point and I set a goal to catch a guy with 35 on his calf about 250m ahead of me. I was able to catch him and not only make the pass, but sustain it. As I came to the finish line I caught up with Mike from Delaware but he was able to hold out and cross the finish 1.2 sec ahead on me. Actually, he deserved it and I cheered him on with a "GO Mike, Go" as I tried to catch him.

The end seems to be just the beginning for me, I finish my first tri and would signed up for another instantly at the moment that I finished. It was a lot of fun, I think I found a comfortable pace and the attitude that I needed to not only complete the race, but to enjoy every moment of it.

So many people that saw me during the race said the same thing, I looked to be having a good time and smiling the whole time. I think that speaks volumes about how important attitude is during anything we set out to accomplish.





Side Notes:
My original time goal: 2- 2:10
After my first swim that was modified to: 2:15-2:30
After learning of the swim increase: 2:30 to 2:45

My real time: 2:09:18
I was able to stay with 10% of my original goal of 2hr w/the increased swim!

Transitions Kills: (all friendly competition, but also the only way for me to gauge any pro/cons of my race)
I was 2 minutes behind my friends out of the water.
I was 6-7 minutes back out of transition.
I was 10 minute to the good after the mountain bike leg on my friends.
At the race end, I was 2 & 5 minutes better loosing a ton of time on the run and transition.

I promised myself that I would not be the that guy, the FAT, hairy Italian without a shirt. I LIED!!! It was getting so hot and more over, my shirt was so wet I almost through it away during the race. So sorry to all those that I offended during my shirtless ventures.

To all those people that cheered for all of us during the race, THANK YOU!
Maybe it was that I felt "connected" to this race more than any race I've ever done, but the cheers feed my desire to try my hardest.

Jared, thanks for getting me involved with such a cool sport. It was a blast.

Lisa, Thanks for being my support and keeping me smiling.

Lastly, I earned my Xterra jersey! I no longer have to say I bought it during my first race, the Urban Assault of 2003.
Photos Page Here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I came across this and it made me think, here is what the other side sees, here is more of the truth than we can possibly imagine without going through it ourselves.

God Speed & God Bless all the folks that have to endure this unfortunate situation.

Actual Link to article:
Date: 2007-04-10, 1:00PM PDT


I'm having the worst damn week of my whole damn life so I'm going to write this while I'm pissed off enough to do it right.

I am SICK of all this bullshit people are writing about the Iraq war. I am abso-fucking-lutely sick to death of it. What the fuck do most of you know about it? You watch it on TV and read the commentaries in the newspaper or Newsweek or whatever god damn yuppie news rag you subscribe to and think you're all such fucking experts that you can scream at each other like five year old about whether you're right or not. Let me tell you something: unless you've been there, you don't know a god damn thing about it. It you haven't been shot at in that fucking hell hole, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

How do I dare say this to you moronic war supporters who are "Supporting our Troops" and waving the flag and all that happy horse shit? I'll tell you why. I'm a Marine and I served my tour in Iraq. My husband, also a Marine, served several. I left the service six months ago because I got pregnant while he was home on leave and three days ago I get a visit from two men in uniform who hand me a letter and tell me my husband died in that fucking festering sand-pit. He should have been home a month ago but they extended his tour and now he's coming home in a box.

You fuckers and that god-damn lying sack of shit they call a president are the reason my husband will never see his baby and my kid will never meet his dad.

And you know what the most fucked up thing about this Iraq shit is? They don't want us there. They're not happy we came and they want us out NOW. We fucked up their lives even worse than they already were and they're pissed off. We didn't help them and we're not helping them now. That's what our soldiers are dying for.

Oh while I'm good and worked up, the government doesn't even have the decency to help out the soldiers whos lives they ruined. If you really believe the military and the government had no idea the veterans' hospitals were so fucked up, you are a god-damn retard. They don't care about us. We're disposable. We're numbers on a page and they'd rather forget we exist so they don't have to be reminded about the families and lives they ruined while they're sipping their cocktails at another fund raiser dinner. If they were really concerned about supporting the troops, they'd bring them home so their families wouldn't have to cry at a graveside and explain to their children why mommy or daddy isn't coming home. Because you can't explain it. We're not fighting for our country, we're not fighting for the good of Iraq's people, we're fighting for Bush's personal agenda. Patriotism my ass. You know what? My dad served in Vietnam and NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

So I'm pissed. I'm beyond pissed. And I'm going to go to my husband funeral and recieve that flag and hang it up on the wall for my baby to see when he's older. But I'm not going to tell him that his father died for the stupidty of the American government. I'm going to tell him that his father was a hero and the best man I ever met and that he loved his country enough to die for it, because that's all true and nothing will be solved by telling my son that his father was sent to die by people who didn't care about him at all.

Fuck you, war supporters, George W. Bush, and all the god damn mother fuckers who made the war possible. I hope you burn in hell.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I just completed a pre-walk/run of the run course portion of this weekend's Xterra. I am absolutely pissed at myself for not knowing about so many cool places in Richmond, especially after living here for 5.5 yrs now.

The course is cool and I tried to not run too much since I didn't want to change locking up my calve again. It takes 3 -4 days to work out and the race in only 2 days away.

Even moving slowly I missed a critical part of the course.

I followed the leads under the Lee Bridge and to 22st staircase, followed by a trip across and up-N-over Belle Island. Apparently I was supposed to get on top of the Lee and follow it across the river, hop off the North side of it down 2nd street and back to Brown's. Thank god for pre-runs. LOL.

I will be riding with a friend today to show him the Xterra mtb course, then at 5:30 I'll be heading back to the water to do another practice swim with the swim clinic.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Swim Swam Swum

My god, tonight was the first time in about 6 - 7 years since I last took a swim, and at least 15 - 20 years since I actually tried to maintain a real swim.

Introduce the River James. I met up with some friends who are also racing the Xterra this weekend. They knew the course for the swim and I thought it a smart idea to "pre-swim" the course. Good thing I did too, because it was nothing like I thought it would be.

I thought it was going to be a swim from Belle to Brown's Isle, but nope! You start of Brown's and end on Brown's. 500 meters, you think it can't be that bad. Wrong!

OK, it wasn't horrible, but certainly not easy.

I was informed of the currents and shallows, then we started across to the little island. About 20' out is the first main current and it appears to be the strongest.
No problem, if anything I was having to slow down because I was going ahead of my kind guides (not that I could beat them if they were trying). I kept trying to slow my speed, but with little swimming under my belt over the last decade or so, it was hard to control.

Now we are in open waters and the current is less, speed increases and so does the HR (heart rate). I try to slow up and find a comfortable cadence, but again my lack of experience is limiting me. Now we start entering another current and it becomes critical to swim harder, but my HR is through the roof already and my arms are tiring, but not before my chest begins to feel heavy and I begin to feel also claustrophobic.

Anyone that swims knows that your chest feels the pressure of the surrounding water, and I was feeling like I could not take deep enough breaths. In my own head I was beginning to doubt my ability to make it much farther.

I tried to remain calm, but every time I was able to catch a breath I would notice my need to increase speed to stay on course. After a few minutes, I began to notice that this spot was too deep to touch and too rapid to tread and not be dragged down stream.

I almost lost it (mentally) , but yelled out, "can anyone touch?" Blake relied, "yup, right here." That was my saving grace. I had about 30' to get there instead of the 150 - 200' to the island that we were to circle.

Once on the rock I was able to stand and catch my breath. From there I was able to work on keeping a pace that allowed my to better control my breath. I overheard my friends talking about taking a breath every 3 strokes and it hit me, I am taking a breath every stroke. I was sort of hyperventilating myself. So from that point on I worked on breathing every other breath under heavier workloads and it really helped out. During the last section of the swim I now had to return from which we came across and I so dangerously panicked early.

The girls went a head and Blake asked if I was OK. Feeling much better I answered "yes" as he started off to catch the girls. I wanted to be the last one as I wanted to prove to myself there was nothing to fear and no reason for my earlier panic.

Slow & steady I started across to return to shore. Only about 75 yards upstream from where we crossed earlier, I never really felt the currents as I did originally.

I was able to maintain composer and get to shore without issue.

I was glad to be finished, glad I went with someone, but mostly glad that I did this prior to the race.

I plan on making the swim clinic tomorrow and maybe even Sat. again before Sunday's race. Will I improve from this? No, not in time or strength, but I will in confidence and experience.

In the morning I plan to run/walk the run course, followed by a ride of the mtb course in the afternoon and as mentioned above, the swim clinic tomorrow night.

I'm still looking forward to the race, I think it'll be fun.